Published: 23rd March 2003
Pairings: Vegeta/Goku, Trunks/Goten
Disclaimers: DBZ is not mine… But this story is, even if it’s not intended for profit.
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Terrain Survey Report 421
Type: Preliminary aerial
Region: Northern Ice Cap
…continent is mainly composed of igneous rocks; indicative of tectonic activity. Most of the surface is permanently covered in snow and ice and temperatures stay consistently below freezing. Highly folded metasedimentary strata, with some mountains recorded at over…
…sparse shrubbery, grasses, lichen, mosses…at least five distinct species of grazing herbivores… two carnivorous species observed… one group of three, four-legged feline species, large and fast moving, assumed to be a family group, fur ranging from gold to white …one six-legged ursine species, very large, a uniform cream colored fur…
Evening of the first Full Moon…
“Why we are doing this?” Trunks grumbled as he trudged along in the deep snow behind his father. The biting artic winds howled around them and he crossed his arms in an attempt to preserve body heat.
“Because the regular game we get around the Ridge is no challenge,” Vegeta replied with a wolfish smirk. “Admit it, this is fun.”
The weather was clear, even slightly sunny. It should be evening, but it was the time of the year where the northern ice cap of New Vegetasei was turned towards the sun.
The pristine, snowy landscape around them was largely bare of vegetation; instead huge, craggy mountains and large, jagged cracks in the ground broke up the topographical monotony. The huge landmass that capped the northern tip of their new home was still occasionally subjected to massive tectonic activity, although the geologists had assured the other settlers that such occurrences were very rare. Snow and ice had preserved the impressive formations from gradual weathering, resulting in a raw and dramatic landscape of charcoal-gray rock and brilliantly white snow.
Father and son were dressed in cream-colored, thick, fur-lined, snow-proofed outfits. They were walking along the edge of a huge canyon, one of the many that zigzagged across the snowy continent. To their left, the ground dropped sharply into a valley below. Inky shadows contrasted against the snow-crusted sides of the canyon and this was the reason the ebony-haired royal had decided to follow this particular geographical divide; for the canyon walls were riddled with deep crevices and caves. Nobody knew much about the creatures they were hunting; sightings and scout reports had been sketchy at best, but Vegeta had reasoned that if there were any wildlife to be found on this harsh land, it would be hiding in such caves.
“It was a rhetorical question…”
Vegeta’s grin only widened as he threw out his chest and held his head up higher. “Look up and look around you, Trunks. The scenery is stunning.” And it was. It was all breathtakingly beautiful in a stark and even brutal simplicity, but his demi-Saiyan offspring was in no mood to enjoy it.
“I’m only a half-Saiyan…” The younger prince moaned as he patted his nose again, just to confirm it was still there because he sure couldn’t feel it. “Therefore, I’m only half-crazy. You could have just come up here with Goku.”
As they were supposed to be on a hunt, his father had forbidden him to use his ki. This was because animals did seem to be able to sense their ki; not quite in the manner that they themselves did, but rather with an evolutionarily-developed sixth sense that alerted them to the presence of a predator. They could get away with small ki techniques, but his father had also wanted this handicap to add to the challenge.
The Son team was also somewhere out there. Their fathers had somehow hit upon the brilliant idea of a contest; the first pair to hunt down one of the large ice-creatures would win. When they had first brought up the idea, the sons had immediately opposed the division of teams into “fathers vs. sons”, knowing full well that their fathers would have won easily.
Now, Trunks wished he were with Goten instead. They could have bowed out quietly; contest be damned. He shivered again. How long had they been walking? Two hours? Three? He had not wanted to turn on the clock on his snow goggles, as the number would probably demoralize him further. The tinted goggles were meant to reduce the glare from the snow and drying bite from the winds and came equipped with a built-in scouter.
“Hn. Quit being such a weakling.” Vegeta’s auburn tail lashed behind him in slow sweeps; the lush fur puffed and ruffled against the cold. Dark eyes sparkled and a half-smirk, half-smile played about his lips as he scanned the surroundings alertly.
Trunks smiled. Though he was physically feeling miserable, he was happy to see his father in good spirits. They didn’t spend much time together as father and son, especially outside of their training, so this outing was a rare occasion. The hood of the older Saiyan’s jacket was thrown back and the characteristic black flame whipped wildly in the wind. Trunks almost laughed as an observation struck him; his father was shorter and slimmer than him, and now that he was well bundled up in bulky clothing, the ebony-haired ouji looked very young.
He knew that Saiyans had much longer life spans than humans, and indeed, his father hardly seemed to have aged over the years. His Saiyan parent looked almost exactly like he did in Trunks’ earliest memories. A stranger looking at the two princes would not have known that they were a generation apart. ‘Just how long do Saiyans live anyway?’
He was so caught up in his musings that he didn’t realize that his father had stopped, and he almost walked into the smaller figure. “Huh?”
“Did you hear that?”
Trunks paused and pushed his thick hood back, but all he could hear was the whistling of the wind in his ears. He shook his head ruefully as he pulled the fur-lined hood back over his cold ears again. Obviously, his father’s far keener Saiyan senses had caught something he missed.
“Hn… Behind us.” Vegeta turned around and dropped into a crouch. “Down, boy. We don’t want to scare off our prey.”
“I hardly think we are going to scare anything away. I mean, scouting …reports…” His sentence trailed off as the ground started to rumble ever so slightly. Closing his mouth, he obediently squatted down beside his father.
They did not have to wait long. The muffled pounding grew louder and both males’ eyes widened as the source of the noise came around a bend in the canyon valley. “Kami!” Trunks whistled in awe as he tapped the zoom and recording function on his goggles. “Nope, I don’t think they will be scared of us…”
A small group of four-legged creatures loped easily along the valley floor. Their rippling, bulky and powerful muscles were an indication to the two Saiyans that they were built more for sprinting than distance. Bold streaks of rich ocher and tawny gold shot through their long, glossy coats of unblemished white, refracting glints of light almost defiantly; these markings were not meant for camouflage but rather for proud display. Thick, luxurious ruffs of darker fur around their necks made them almost leonine in appearance, and the most striking part of their appearance was the prominent tufts of fur in dark amber that cloaked their ears and highlighted their brows and eyes, extending down along their snouts to cover the sensitive noses.
They were very similar in appearance in many of the great cats Trunks had seen back on Earth, yet also very different; the denser coats and distinctive protective tufts of fur made these felines look much more exotic, wild and dangerous in appearance. These magnificent beasts were at least double the size of great cats as well; he estimated that even on all fours, these cats could easily look at them eye to eye.
Vegeta looked upon the snow vhars, as he had mentally named them, in appreciative delight. There had been many species of large felines back on Vegetasei, each with their own name obviously, but as a group they were called vhars. He used to spend hours at the vhar enclosures in the royal family’s private menagerie as a chibi; it was his favorite section. In his opinion, the haughty felines were simply splendid: dangerous predators, quick and agile; and, of course, just visually beautiful.
The snow vhar was not the quarry they were originally after; scouting reports mentioned an ursine species that was much larger in size, but these creatures looked liked they would present a formidable challenge.
‘Perhaps more so than the other… Reports mentioned that they were huge, which generally meant slow and lumbering. These creatures looked worthy of a good hunt though.’
His lips lifted in an anticipatory smirk as he regarded the rapidly approaching felines with keen eyes, quickly assessing their strengths and weaknesses. A growling purr started from his chest as his body, already high and stimulated by the full moons, prepared for action.
“Dad…” A hissed whisper interrupted his focused planning.
“Your tail… It’s waving like a flag.”
The excited prince flushed and tucked his tail back around his waist.
“Dad. Are you seriously thinking of going after them?”
“But I thought we came here after the other one? The six-legged bear?”
“Hn. After this…”
Father and son fell quiet when the group of felines stopped abruptly, noses lifted high and ear tufts erect. Then the large animals turned to stare up in their direction.
Trunks meeped in a small voice, “They know that we are here?!”
“Even better.” Vegeta’s grin only widened, becoming positively feral. “This will be a worthy hunt. The biggest vhar in the front with the jagged gold streaks along his sides… He’s mine.”
Ignoring his son’s protests, he stood up and crossed his arms, a challenging smirk on his face as he looked down at the vhars. His tail unfurled from his waist and snapped from side to side tauntingly. Against the snowy background and his cream clothing, the deep auburn of the puffed tail could not be missed.
The vhars were circling now, weaving around each other, their own lush tails lashing and face tufts erect as they looked up at him hungrily. Deep rumbling growls resonated along the valley walls as vhars and Saiyan locked stares.
And suddenly, without a backward look or warning to his son, Vegeta leapt off the cliff and slid down the slightly sloping, icy walls of the cavern, his body and feet turned to the side, right leg outstretched in front and left leg loosely bent at the knee. He hadn’t exactly decided what he should do before he leapt off, and his mind spun rapidly as he continued skiing down. It was very simple; he didn’t want all three – only the largest vhar and so he needed to draw it away.
Reaching the valley floor in a flurry of snow and ice chips, he tumbled in a series of rolls as three tawny blurs crisscrossed the air above his tucked form and literally hit the ground running. The three vhars snarled in frustration and shook themselves before twisting nimbly and giving chase.
Vegeta was breathing hard as he sprinted down the valley; he was not using any ki but instead was relying only on his muscular power to propel him forward. Lips curled back into a grin as powerful muscles alternately bunched and then exploded in activity. He could feel the warmth in his legs, not the painful burn that signaled overexertion, but the liquid heat that seemed to lubricate and fuel him on. This was what he loved and craved. The feel of his body working exactly in harmony and balance, the juxtaposition of the tensing burn as individual muscles worked and the fluid ease of movement as muscle groups coordinated perfectly.
He had not overestimated these vhars after all; he could hear them behind him, he could feel the steam of their breath on the back of his neck. Calves and ankles gave that extra flex as he leaned down even further, hands held flat alternately slicing the air before him in opposing tandem to his legs’ rhythm.
To know that he was the pursued, to know that a ton of pure muscle and teeth and claws was just a stumble away… To know that he could, at any time, easily turn the tables and become the hunter…
It was a psychological rush as heady as the physical high from hormones like adrenaline. It wasn’t a higher, logical knowledge, but a primal realization from his senses and instincts of the fine balance he trod for that reckless thrill. He was a Saiyan and he lived for exhilarating moments like this. This was what he had been thinking of when…
A flash of gold out of the corner of his eyes alerted him, and a gust of musk and a snap of canines as he jerked to the side reminded him yet again of the knife-edge on which he danced.
He smirked as he neatly hurdled over another particularly high mound of snow in the uneven terrain, tossing his ebony hair back in a mocking gesture. They were good but he was better. They got close but not close enough.
To feel his muscles really working, flexing and exerting hard… To feel the raw strength that surged like lava through his system… To feel his lungs burning cold as he took in gulps of the freezing air…
It made him feel utterly alive. Every sense was beyond keen, every nerve beyond stimulated. He was attuned only to the predators behind him and the ground immediately before him; everything else rushed past him in a dizzying kaleidoscope of white and inky-blue shadows.
Sensitive hearing and ki then told him just how far behind the snow vhars were, and soon he could tell that two had dropped back; only one was left and he knew it was the one he was after.
The reckless, lopsided smirk still on his face, he kept an eye out for the opening he was looking for… ‘Time to end this…’ There!
He swerved into a side passage, one of the many cracks in the canyon. Some of the alleys continued on and opened up into another canyon, others just truncated in a dead-end. He purposely chose the latter.
The smaller figure ran straight into the dead-end, using his momentum to propel himself up the sheer wall for a couple of steps before arching backwards in a sailing back flip over the much larger beast right behind him. The vhar snarled and twisted away at the last moment to avoid collision with the wall, skidding in a wide arc of spattered snow.
Vegeta landed and dropped into a couple of rolls to break his momentum. He ended in a crouch, hands held up in front of him and cocked in a battle-ready stance. For a moment, simian and feline paused.
The large alpha snow vhar was surprised; something had changed. He wasn’t sure what exactly, however. Perhaps this quarry would not that easy after all. He had never seen this species before, but it certainly looked like prey; it was small and puny and lacked sharp teeth or claws. Yet it ran very fast and now it dared face him. He growled and sank back on his haunches slightly, preparing to spring.
Vegeta smirked, noting the flash of confusion in the ice-blue eyes before the vhar recovered. As the great cat leapt towards him, he flipped to one side, bracing himself with one hand as he lashed out with a kick. His foot struck the vhar squarely on its side and it tumbled clumsily, though it quickly recovered. Landing first on its front paws, it twisted around flexibly even as its hind paws landed and sprang back with claws extended towards the waiting prince.
Saiyan and snow vhar danced. While the vhar was no match for the warrior, the large feline was surprisingly agile for its size, reacting and recovering quickly. The dense, glossy coat and bulky muscles gave it substantial protection from the smaller figure’s blows, and the harsh arctic conditions had certainly selected for a very hardy species. Punches that would have easily brought down a large tree only stunned it momentarily, and Vegeta found his respect for the beautiful feline increasing. Though it was clearly outmatched, it refused to give up.
A spinning kick finally clipped the snow vhar hard on the side of its head, sending it crashing into the side of the canyon wall. Vegeta waited for a few moments, but when it appeared that the vhar was knocked out, he straightened from his crouch and strode over, his tail swinging smugly behind him.
As he gazed down upon the cream and ivory feline, its golden-streaked sides heaving slightly, he changed his mind. He would not kill it. It would be such a sin.
These creatures were magnificent and gorgeous, a formidable and salient predator and simply glorious to look at. Vegeta smirked. Then again, he always did have a soft spot for vhars. If he were to pick a species from this new world to represent the royal house of Vegeta, these majestic felines would be perfect.
Kneeling down beside the unconscious vhar, he placed his hand on the meaty shoulder and was about to transmit out when he paused. A small smile curving at his lips, he quickly pulled off his gloves and stuck them in the pockets of his coat. The thought was just too irresistible. Slowly, hesitantly at first, the prince began to run his hands along the snow vhar’s side, delighting in the feel of the luxuriant fur under his bare skin. When he threaded his fingers through the soft, lush mane, a purr tripped from his throat and he leaned forward to nuzzle his face in the surprisingly warm fur. The great cat smelled musky, a clean and heavily spiced scent that was not unpleasant.
The unconscious vhar started purring as well, a deep and rolling purr that resonated from its barrel chest as fingers expertly stroked its mane and scratched behind sensitive ears. Finally, Vegeta pulled back regretfully when the feline showed signs of coming to. A thought crossed his mind as he ran his hands lightly over the smooth fur for one last stroke; it would be extremely sensuous to sleep with such a creature. All warmth and fur and purr. Sinking one still-bare hand into the thick ruff around the neck, he concentrated on his son’s energy signature.
“Dad!” Trunks fell off the mound of snow he was seated on in shock. He had not moved from that spot since Vegeta had jumped off. Scrambling up to his feet, he looked at the great cat with interest. “You did not kill it?”
“No.” Vegeta shrugged. “I like it.”
Trunks nearly fell over again. “Nani?”
“So I like vhars.” Vegeta scowled fiercely to cover his embarrassment.
“A Saiyan term to describe big cats…You know, like the tigers and leopards back on Earth.”
“Oh.” Trunks grinned. This was too adorable! His father still had a hand buried in the thick mane and was subconsciously running his hand slowly through the dark amber strands. “But you didn’t like Granddad’s cat…”
Vegeta rolled his eyes in disdain and Trunks laughed as he understood. Suddenly, Goku and Goten appeared with a small rush of displaced air and a huge object beside them. At the same time, the snow vhar started to stir.
“Hey, Vegeta! I won our bet!”
“Wow! What’s that?”
“Koiishi!” Trunks was about to rush and smother his lover when he stopped to stare at the carcass beside them. It was obviously the quarry they were supposed to be after; the six-legged bear from the scouts’ reports. The term ‘huge’ did not really do the mammoth justice though; it was “…goddamn fricking huge!” Trunks gave a low whistle of appreciation as he stared up at the carcass.
The ursine looked just like the polar bears from earth. Its fur was a lush creamy color so light that it was almost white. With six legs and a massively barreled torso, the impression one got when looking at it was that of sheer bulk and size. Trunks estimated the mass of the bear to be easily thrice that of the cat beside his father. The bear looked anything but cuddly though: while its eyes were closed and the body still in death, wickedly sharp fangs and claws still inspired some awe and respect.
“Oh yeah, that’s the other…”
“And this wasn’t the biggest one in the group…”
Vegeta stood up in irritation. “Would you lot just shut…”
A soft growl interrupted their chattering and all fell abruptly silent as they turned to look with wide eyes at the source. The snow vhar had awakened and was hunched in a low, deep crouch. The low, unceasing growl increased steadily in volume as its bristling tail twitched uncertainly, ice-blue eyes flickering from figure to figure warily.
For a moment, all hesitated. And then, to everyone else’s surprise, Vegeta sank down on one knee beside the obviously unnerved vhar and boldly sank his right hand into the fluffed-out mane at the scruff of its neck, pushing the much larger cat down firmly and growling in a conspicuous show of dominance. They were even more stunned when the deeper growl from the feline immediately stopped. At that point, the prince relaxed his tight grip on the thick fur, and his growling became less aggressive, softening to a more reassuring, purring growl.
Vegeta looked up to see three pairs of very wide eyes and answered their unspoken questions with a smirk. “He knows who’s obviously the alpha male here.”
“He?” Trunks cocked his head curiously. His father simply raised one brow in a ‘can’t you see’ look, and then his other brow went up as well, as if to say ‘baka’. Trunks was extremely envious of that derisive ability and wondered if his father practiced it in private.
“He’s beautiful, Vegeta…” Goku walked over and was about to reach out a hand to touch it when the snow vhar snarled at him. Vegeta couldn’t help a roar of laughter at his mate’s hurt look. Secretly, while he was pleased that the snow vhar had readily obeyed him, he was also very pleased that it was naturally wary of others. It was yet one more trait that endeared the huge cat to the prickly prince. For just one childish moment, he wished he could take it back.
“Let’s go home…” Trunks was trying very hard not to whine. “I’m cold and hungry.”
“Me too.” Goten’s stomach gave a loud rumble.
“I’ll take him back.” Vegeta rolled his eyes as he stood up and wrapped his arms around the startled feline’s torso, barely managing to get a good grip on the struggling cat. “See you back at the Ridge.”
“Wait, Vegeta!” Goku interrupted suddenly, a mischievous glint in his eyes. He cocked his head in the direction of the beast the Son pair brought down, and their sons nodded in understanding. The three reached a hand out to touch it as he continued. “Wait here for me… I’ll take the boys back.”
With a sly grin and an eagerly waving tail, Goku emphasized, “And then you owe me.” Before Vegeta could say anything, the group winked out.
Vegeta flew along the valley with the panicking cat, scowling darkly. Damn! He had hoped that Kakarotto would have forgotten, but it was unlikely. How…no, why ever did he let his baka of a mate coax him into such a ridiculous bet?
He wanted to scream in frustration. Why did he keep losing to Kakarotto? All right, he would concede that this time perhaps, just perhaps, it was partially his fault because he got sidetracked with the snow vhars. Still, it was just too unfair. How did he run across the quarry they were supposed to be after first? Shimatta! That baka’s good luck was too good to be true sometimes… He smirked a little at that thought. That was true; after all, Kakarotto landed the best catch in the galaxy as mate, ne?
The snow vhar whined in fear and struggled as they swooped down the valley, and Vegeta slapped its rump sharply. The struggling stopped but the whining and whimpering got louder. Catching sight of the other two snow vhars, he smirked and dropped his load. He was not surprised when the large feline managed to land nimbly on its feet.
“Vegeta!” Suddenly, Goku appeared beside him with a wide grin. “I won our contest…”
“Hn.” Vegeta crossed his arms and floated on his side to look at the younger Saiyan crossly. “So you keep reminding me.”
“C’mon Vegeta…” Goku turned on his side as well and flew closer until they were almost touching. “I won fair and square, and so you owe me.”
The prince turned to float on his back and complained sulkily. “Why do you keep winning?”
“Don’t change the subject, Vegeta.” Goku pulled the smaller figure into his arms, his grin broadening. Purring loudly as he wrapped his arms around the lithe body, he planted soft kisses along his lover’s temple. When Vegeta remained petulantly silent, he continued plaintively, chidingly. “Now this isn’t fair, Vegeta… You promised!”
The royal pout deepened as Vegeta remained tense, and then he conceded extremely reluctantly. “So I did.”
“Yatta!” Goku squeezed the choking prince excitedly. “And I know just the place!”
Onto Chapter 4
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