BY : chayron
Category: Dragon Ball Z > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 18982
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z it belongs to its respective owners. This fan fiction is not a commercial project, and I am not making any money from writing it.

   Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z – it belongs to its respective owners. This fan fiction is not a commercial project, and I am not making any money from writing it.
   Warnings: Alternate Universe. Yaoi (male x male). Goten x Trunks and vice versa. Other pairings. 
   A/N 1: Officer ranks at Hataro Officer Training School [from the highest to the lowest]:
   1. Taisa [Andera Gendian]
   2. Shaii [Trunks Vegeta]
   3. Shyu
   4. Captain [Laureus Tanko]
   5. Drill sergeant
   6. First-in-command
   7. Second-in-command
   8. Savar [anyone attending any officer training school]
   A/N 2: The Saiyan education:
   0. Preparatory school (pupils 8-13 years old)
   1. Paramilitary school (pupils 14-18). From there to --> boot camps (drafts/grunts) or:
   2. Officer training school (savars 18 – 20). From there to --> military posts or:
   3. Commissioned Officer Academy (ranks)
   by chayron (, beta-read by quatreofdoom
   Part 20
   The taisa loved parades. This was obvious from the way he was looking at the columns of marching savars. His eyes glistened and his face shone with pride. He, the officers, and the most important guest on base were sitting on a platform with a canopy stretched over it to protect their distinguished heads from the sun.
   Farther ahead, on the training field, rows and rows of tables were arranged with glasses and snacks on them. This was a symbolic gesture in celebration of the prince’s nineteenth birthday. This was, or more precisely – the food was, the reason the savars were in high spirits and their feet nearly moved of their own accord, striking the ground.
   A squad of second year elites was first to proudly march past the platform. They stopped to salute the platform, then moved on. They were followed by nine squads of second-classes, then ten squads of first years. 
   Curious, Ealdira noticed that – even if he had been hardly paying any attention to the parade previously – the prince’s eyes lingered on the seventh squad of first years. He hadn’t noticed the prince showing particular interest to any of the officers either. Ealdira felt like a kid who had just gotten a new toy – it was so much fun to try and guess which one of these nameless savars was The One. 
   After the parade, the savars were allowed to sit in the shade and enjoy a drink and a few elaborate sandwiches. Throngs of them were sitting on the stools, leaning around on the temporary pillars erected above the tables that were blanketed with covers.
   “Maybe Her Highness would like to see a performance from our most advanced students?” the taisa asked the princess.
   Bulma smiled politely. Her troubled gaze shot to her son, who shook his head discreetly, indicating that she really didn’t want to say yes. “Oh, let them rest,” she said, offering one of her best smiles. “The sun is scorching.”
   “Hmm…” the taisa drawled while raising his eyes to the sky. “No different than usual.” He lowered his head and sipped from his glass. “Pity,” he said, and there was a pout in his voice.
   “Why don’t we go and join them instead?” Bulma suggested. “This is a joyous event for the whole Empire, after all.”
   The shaii wasn’t sure whether that was a good idea: he knew the savars would be hesitant to talk or interact with her. They would stare at her with those hungry eyes, though. Well, that would go both ways – he knew his mother was also excited by having so many fit young men around her. She always was. 
   So was he.
   It went just as presumed – groups of savars who were previously laughing and horsing around would quiet down as the royal family approached. Most of them would smile sheepishly and there were only a few who were bold enough to start a conversation. But it was good enough, and soon the atmosphere started warming up again.
   At some point, Ealdira felt someone looking at him. He turned his head slightly to meet a young savar’s gaze. Ealdira had expected the savar to turn away, but the youngster gave him one more curious look. The savar was about to turn away when his eyes locked on something beside Ealdira. The captain turned to spot the prince standing next to him. Smiling softly, the prince saluted the savar with his glass. The youngster answered in kind and took a sip.
   Ealdira looked at the savar again. A second-class, with shorter hair than everybody else’s, of average height, of average looks. He watched the youngster empty his glass and wander off to join one particularly loud group. The captain looked at the prince again.
   “Could this be the one?” he half-asked, half-joked.
   “Hmm?” the prince hummed sipping his wine absentmindedly. He nearly choked when his brain deciphered the question. His eyes shot to the spot the savar had been several seconds ago then, realizing he had given himself away, he blushed. “Gmm… What makes you think…?” he started, then dropped the unfinished sentence as there was no use in denying his obvious reaction. He blushed even more.
   Incredulous, Ealdira’s eyes began rifling through the savars, trying to find the guy again. “No way, that one? But… Damn, where did they go?”
   The shaii downed the rest of his wine in one gulp and suddenly choked. Caught in a coughing fit, his eyes watering, he stumbled forward as Ealdira placed a few well-aimed thumps on his back. “Th-thanks,” he breathed out a minute later while grabbing the napkin his former mentor offered. He wiped at his nose, glad that he had chosen to drink white wine.
   “So what’s his name?” Ealdira asked after the prince got a hold of himself. He chuckled at the look the lavender-haired man gave him. “You know, I can just as easily find him and ask him personally.”
   The prince glared at him. “You wouldn’t.”
   “You sure?” He laughed softly at the flustered prince. “Nah, I wouldn’t,” he agreed a second later. “Because, first, I can’t leave my post. Second, it seems I’ve already caught his attention.”
   “What do you mean?”
   Ealdira shrugged. The look the savar had given him had been…somewhat disturbing. That hadn’t been any hero worship in his eyes like the looks youngsters usually gave him. This one seemed genuinely curious about his persona, but there hadn’t been much friendliness in that gaze. 
   “I think there are already rumors about us floating around on base,” Ealdira concluded. “I might just be thinking too much into it though.”
   The prince was looking at him closely. He groaned. “Seriously?” He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly when Ealdira shrugged again. “Crap. Was he…jealous?”
   Ealdira’s brow rose at the hopeful tone. “Well, if I’m any judge, I think he might have been more…intrigued than jealous.”
   “That annoying little bastard.”
   Ealdira chuckled, “You two seem to share a rather unusual relationship.”
   The savars had the rest of the day off. Most of them started it by leaving their empty glasses of wine behind them and proceeding to the officers’ club for more. Goten was also one of those who had suddenly found themselves at one of <i>Matilda’s</i> tables with a large mug of beer in one hand and a piece of dried fish in the other. He wasn’t certain how it happened, but figured that Toharu sitting across the table and grinning at him must have had a lot to do with it.
   “I was serious when I said I was done with drinking,” Goten complained, staring at his mug greedily. Realizing that he didn’t appear very convincing, he waved the fish in the air to give his protest some additional weight.
   “Don’t be an asshole – this is the Saiyan Prince’s birthday,” Kyon admonished. “It’s only proper to celebrate it.”
   “Hmm… True,” Goten said, giving into temptation rather quickly. He lifted his mug. “To the prince.”
   “To the prince,” his friends echoed, clinking their mugs together.
    Goten glugged down half of the mug at once. He slammed it down on the table, letting out a sound full of satisfaction, then burped loudly. He turned his head to the side and tore at the fish in his left hand with his teeth. He was in heaven.
   “It seems that you’ve been missing it,” Toharu pointed out. “Why torture yourself?”
   “Beer’s good for digestion,” Ranvera endorsed him.
   “Yeah, after having some beer, I always look for something more to digest,” Ario snorted. “Ah!” he yelped as someone pinched his ass. He turned to glare at Toharu beside him.
   “I’ve always liked guys with big asses, so don’t you worry about that, sweetheart,” Toharu said, patting Ario on his abused behind. 
   Ario considered saying something, then decided not to bother. His interest went to his mug of beer. He did seem to be pleased, though.
   Toharu grinned at Goten, who was chewing on the stretchy fish. “See? One compliment and he’s all silent.” He drew his arm around his lover’s broad shoulders. “My big shy mountain of a hunk,” he purred fondly, rubbing his spiky head against Ario’s uniform.
   Ario’s eyebrows rose while he was giving Toharu an amused look. “Who the hell are you calling shy?”
   “Well, you never express your affection for me in public,” Toharu whined, somehow managing to grin and pout at the same time.
   “What are you? A dog? Do you want me to pat you and play fetch all the time?”
   The whole table started sniggering at the theatre. Toharu sighed, “Bad owner. If…” he trailed off at the sight of a group entering the club. The rest of the table followed his gaze. The prince and the princess, followed by the taisa and five elite bodyguards were maneuvering amongst the tables towards the one in the middle of Matilda. For a few seconds, a startled silence reigned inside the club then, slowly, the soft buzzing of the crowd restarted. The group of newcomers settled at the table, the guards taking places at the nearby tables. The waiters rushed over to the royalty at once.
   “Goten?” Kyon drawled indecisively a few minutes later.
   “Is it only me or is the captain of the bodyguard team staring at you? What the hell did you do again?”
   Goten turned around, but the captain wasn’t looking at him anymore. Still, through the corner of his eye he had noticed him avert his gaze. Goten dropped the fishbone on the table.
   Toharu groaned. Ario looked at him, then back at Goten. “A catfight?” Ario ventured in an overly cheerful voice. “Listen, Goten, baby, I’ll take your head off if you so much as look funny at the captain. For your own good.”
   “Wha-?” Goten gasped in protest at this turn of events. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” he demanded.
   “You tell me!” Ario growled out at him. “He just came in here and, the next thing we know, he's staring at you!”
   Ranvera spat some of his beer back into the mug and wiped at his chin as the bits and pieces fell into place in his head. “Don’t tell me…” he said in a fretful voice, looking at Goten. “You’re jealous. You’re jealous of him fucking the prince, aren’t you? Oh gods…”
   “No way!” Kyon gasped.
   His eyes wide, Goten stared at Ranvera. “Wha-?”
   “Shhh, you idiots!” Ario barked at them. “Do you even realize where you are? They’re sitting only a few meters away from us!”
   “Ah fuck,” Toharu cursed, ignoring his lover. “And I tried so hard to beat some sense into you!”
   “Can we do that literally?” Ario suggested. “He’s been getting on my nerves lately.”
   Goten looked around the table. Contrary to what he had thought, no one seemed to be very amused. Stunned, he raised his hands. “Wait. Wait a moment, everyone. You’re making some premature conclusions here.”
   “The only premature thing here is your hair loss!” Toharu snarled, whacking Goten on his baldish head.
   Goten slapped the hand away angrily. “Will you quit that?” he growled at Toharu. “I interact a lot with the prince,” he whispered softly, turning back to the table. “So of course I was curious. I went to check the guy out. No big deal, you see?”
   “Curious?” Toharu sniggered. “More like green with envy!”
   “I’m a third-” Goten’s sentence was muffled by Toharu’s palm. Goten moved it away. “He’s an elite. The prince, for gods’ sakes, you idiots! You can’t be serious!”
   “Either he’s stupid or he's in denial,” Toharu said.
   Ario raised his hand. “I vote for ‘stupid’.”
   “Hmm… I refrain,” Kyon said.
   “I vote for another drink,” Ranvera announced, lifting his empty mug.
   “I vote for a change of topic,” Goten demanded. “I have had enough of this!”
   “You don’t have the right to vote,” Toharu informed him. “You never had.” He got a little worried at the way the third-class’s expression changed – this was getting personal. If you wanted to really piss Goten off, you just had to mention something his class had no right to do. Even if Goten realized he was only being teased, he could not suppress his anger.
   “Alright, alright,” Ario reached out to clap Goten on his shoulder, seeing the younger male’s irritation rising. “Calm down. We’re just fucking around with you.”
   Goten’s eyes left Toharu. Toharu gave his lover a grateful look, then patted Goten on his head. “Just don’t get involved with any of them and it will be alright.”
   Goten groaned, “Here we go again. I’m not involved in anything!”
   “We are just worried about you.”
   “More likely you're just looking for a good laugh at my expense,” Goten muttered.
   “That too,” Toharu nodded. “But I think ‘worried’ prevails.”
   “Yeah, you’re still my favorite,” Ranvera saluted him with his empty mug.
   “Out of how many?” Goten could not help biting out.
   “Uh-oh,” Ario grunted. He elbowed Toharu. “Do something, they are starting again.”
   “You’re so unfair!” Ranvera complained.
   “Yeah,” Kyon nodded at him. “And because you love being fair, you never refuse to fuck a few individuals at once, do you? Just to be fair to all of them.”
   “I’m gonna kill you one day,” Ranvera said, pointing his finger threateningly at Kyon. He turned to Goten. “Don’t listen to that idiot. He was the one who seduced me in the first place!”
   Kyon gasped. “I did not!”
   Goten was playing with the fishbone on the table, his thoughts far away from the two bickering males. All he could hear was a few random words filtering through the pleasant buzz in his head. He sighed as the fishbone shed he had been trying to build fell apart. He stood up abruptly. “Toilet,” he informed the four pairs of eyes which rose to him questioningly.
   Since the evening was only beginning, the toilets were deserted and mostly clean. Goten took care of his business and soon stood at the sinks washing his hands. He started as someone’s large body leaned next to the sink he was washing his hands in. Goten raised his eyes, tracing the muscular silhouette. He stared at the face framed by a halo caused by the light bulb hanging overhead. 
   “Oh, it’s you,” Goten said, relieved. He lowered his eyes and continued washing his hands.
   “And who did you expect?” Ario asked.
   “No one in particular,” Goten said, shaking the water off his hands to dry them before wiping them on his trousers. “But better you than anyone else.”
   Ario shrugged. “You do realize that Toharu is simply worried about you?”
   Goten rolled his eyes. “Well, yes. But he’s being nasty about it.”
   “Not really. He doesn’t really distinguish between classes; he means no harm. You know that he’s of mixed classes as well.”
   Ario was surprised. “So neither Kyon nor Ranvera told you? Hmm… It seems they can be pretty discreet when they want to be.”
   “But Toharu… You don’t mean?”
   “Oh yes, I do mean,” Ario laughed, seeing how Goten was shocked. He knew Goten had a lot issues when it came to classes. “A mix between an elite and a second-class,” he added, feeling some perverse satisfaction at the way Goten was reacting. 
   Goten stared at him for a few more seconds, only now starting to realize why Toharu was so bent on trying to prevent the imaginary relationship between him and the prince. This was exactly why Toharu could so easily envision different classes together – he was used to it. After all, he had the blood of two different classes running through his veins.
   Ario calmly met Goten’s wide and questioning stare. “Yes, Goten, I’m fucking a cross between an elite and a second-class, and I love it. You know, I’d fuck him even if he were a third-class like you, had one eye, one arm and no legs. I don’t care about all that bullshit. All I know is that he’s good for me. I’d give my life for him and I know he would do the same for me. I found him, I worked my ass off to get him, and I’ll never let him go. Even if he wants me to.”
   Goten’s eyes, half-horrified, half-fascinated, bore into Ario, who was looking right back at him with malevolent intensity, as if daring Goten to protest. Then Goten dispelled the moment by shaking his head. “I need a drink,” he said. “This is too much to take for a sober mind.”
   His muscles flexing, but at the same time his body losing its tension, Ario pushed himself off the wall. “Oh, that can be fixed in a minute or two.”
   In an hour, Goten could be found laughing happily at a joke Toharu had just told. He had emptied six mugs of beer and was in love with the entire universe. He was also in love with Kyon, who had somehow appeared next to him and was now talking about how to prepare his favorite dish. For some reason, Goten found the topic unbelievably boring but very amusing at the same time. 
   Goten’s love for the whole world expanded even more when he felt Kyon’s tongue in his mouth. Kyon was a good kisser. Not that Goten could impart any serious judgment at the moment. It simply felt good. Feeling Goten respond, allowing to do what he wanted, Kyon did exactly that – his arms wrapped around Goten’s neck and shoulders and he pressed himself against the younger male. Goten liked the body warmth and shifted closer to him.
   A few minutes later, Goten yelped loudly as he was suddenly flung back off Kyon and onto the floor. He fell on his behind with a loud thud, his legs still half-hanging on the bench. He saw Ranvera’s profile swim into his vision, then Ranvera’s fist collided with his roommate’s eye. At that point, Goten stopped looking because someone was lifting him off the ground. It appeared to be Toharu.
   Toharu seated Goten on the bench next to himself. He watched Kyon’s leg catch Ranvera in the stomach, sending him crashing over a nearby table. Ario was faster than the waiters and grabbed Kyon by the scruff of his neck before he could get to Ranvera. Ranvera, meanwhile, had launched himself at Kyon but Ario moved aside, pulling Kyon out of Ranvera’s way and tripping him. Ranvera tumbled to the ground and Ario bent to pick him up with his left hand. He shook both of his captives violently.
   “There, there,” Toharu said, patting Goten on his head soothingly. The third-class was oblivious to the incident and was leaning against Toharu, half-asleep. 
   Still keeping the two males apart, Ario told the names to the club owner who immediately added the amount of the damage done to the club to Ranvera’s bill. After that, the bulky Saiyan walked to the door and threw both of them outside, leaving them to clear up the situation on their own.
   Ario’s eyebrows rose at the sight of Goten sleeping on Toharu’s lap. “What the hell is this?” he demanded, peeling Goten off his lover. “You seem too comfortable there, you little bastard.”
   Goten blinked his sleepy eyes at him, then smiled sweetly. “Ario,” he said, clinging happily to the tall Saiyan.
   “He’s all sunshine when drunk,” Toharu commented. “Sweet like a kitty.” 
   “Well, I must admit that he isn’t that bad when sober either. Just less…clingy,” Ario said, pushing Goten off him.
   Toharu chuckled. He got up off the bench. “Let’s go to sleep.”
   Saluting, Goten watched the spaceship disappear from sight. He was itchy all over: his back was sticky with sweat; his short hair was under the beret, his scalp tingling. At least the officers were sensible or merciful enough not to make them stand while facing the sun. 
   Finally they had left. Not that Goten was complaining – he had gotten some free time to spend with his friends. He also valued the experience of meeting the charming princess and the prince’s… He wasn’t very sure what the former prince’s mentor was to him, but it certainly had been interesting. Nonetheless, it was good that they were finally away.
   The command to stop saluting finally came and Goten’s hand instantly shot out to peel his beret off and give his scalp a good scratch. He sighed contently and put it back on. He liked routine. Unexpected surprises and changes annoyed him. Now to do some more running around the base as usual and everything was going to be fi-
   “Everyone, get into the training hall!”
   …<i>fucked up</i>, Goten finished in his head, groaning. He, and the rest of the seventh squad, ran after their sergeant. Goten knew that his squad had already had a few sessions where savars practiced martial arts on each other. Luckily, he had skipped those while being preoccupied at the medical bay and then by using his exemption from physical activities. 
   Goten looked around, searching for a way to relieve himself from this unwanted activity. Pretending to trip over the threshold and hit his head on that box over there would be… There was also a heavy metallic rod leaning against the wall further ahead. It could accidentally fall on his foot or something.
   “Don’t even think about it!”
   Goten’s eyes nearly shot out of their sockets as the sergeant’s fist whacked him over the back of his head. Goten was sensible enough not to ask what he shouldn’t be thinking about and simply saluted yelling out a simple ‘yes, sir’.
   Once all of them were inside, the sergeant, after fishing around in his pocket for a few seconds, pulled out a crumpled list with the squad members and the results of their physical tests. While the sergeant was reading the list in order to pair up savars with similar fighting abilities, Goten looked around. Only squad seven remained. That meant they were going to be strictly observed, mentored, and yelled at.
   The sergeant finished reading the list and stuck it back into his pocket. Goten suddenly found himself looking at a burly elite standing in front of him. Goten smiled politely, then turned around and jogged over to his sergeant.
   “Sir?” he saluted.
   “I believe there has been a mistake, sir. I have an elite for a partner. I can’t have an elite for a partner! I don’t like…”
   “Nobody gives a damn what you like,” the sergeant barked out. “Now, get back!”
   “Yes, sir!” Goten gave him an unhappy look, then jogged back to the waiting elite. He offered his partner another polite smile.
   “What the hell are you grinning at?” the elite snorted at him. 
   “I’m trying to appear friendly,” Goten said. “I’m not excited about this either, you know.” 
   The elite shrugged. “You looked quite good while fighting that Toharu guy. But if you're so worried, you can just pretend to drop unconscious and I will drag you to the med bay.”
   “Why not other way round?” Goten asked. “You drop unconscious and <i>I</i> will drag <i>you</i> to the med bay.”
   The elite wasn’t sure what to make of that, so he just gave Goten a quizzical look. Goten offered him another smile. He really didn’t want to fight with an elite. Nothing good ever came out of fighting an elite. Only some blood, a few broken bones, and some spit.
   “Listen, Goten,” the elite started, and Goten was impressed that he knew his name. “I’m not interested in your fights with some of us at the Laundromats. I think they were asking for it. So let’s not turn this into some revenge game, okay?”
   Goten thought about hugging the elite, then decided not to. After all, he didn’t like elites in general. Even the ones who were sensible. “Sure!” he agreed, his mood improving. He turned back to the sergeant, who was now standing in front of the mass of bustling savars. He whistled to get everyone’s attention, then told them to spread out to make some room for fighting.
   At the start signal, the elite moved forward, his fist flying out at Goten’s head, but the third-class jumped out of his way, his leg shooting out at the elite’s stomach from the side. There was a loud “uff” as all the air was knocked out of the elite and he flew backwards. He hit the ground with another loud grunt. Gasping for air, he rolled over and stood up. The elite was just in time to divert Goten’s punch to the side. Goten leaned back to avoid the fist that swung past his ear. With his left hand, he grabbed the elite’s wrist, tugging him forward and ramming his knee in the elite’s stomach. The elite doubled over and Goten finished his partner by locking his hands together and ramming them into his back, making him collapse.
   Uncertain if it was over or not, Goten carefully moved away from his partner while still ready to switch over into defensive at any time. He exhaled the breath he had been holding in. The elite didn’t show any intention of getting up. The man moved onto his hands and knees, shaking his head and groaning painfully.
   It had been different than fighting Toharu or the prince. Toharu had been slower than him and not as strong, but Toharu had a lot of fighting techniques to fall back on. He and the prince were about the same speed and the prince’s defensive was more slack. However, being a couple of years older gave the prince more strength and experience than Goten. The fight with this elite was…he had neither speed, nor strength, nor was he good at martial arts.
   Goten felt someone looking at him and turned to meet the sergeant’s eyes. The sergeant pulled out his crumpled list again. He whistled.
   “Sorada and Eridan,” the sergeant said after he got everyone’s attention, “join Goten in two versus one.”
   Goten looked at the two elites who were advancing towards him. He knew that both of them were very good. This must be a joke. Even if he took these two down, the sergeant would just send in three more. If a miracle happened and he somehow took out those three, then… This would drag on until the group of elites beat him senseless. Goten groaned. He should have listened to his partner and allowed him to knock him out. Then that would have been it. At least there were only four elites in his squad.
   “You don’t look very happy,” the one Goten knew was Sorada said.
   Goten sighed. “Could it be that two versus one means that I pair up with you and we have a go at Eridan?”
   Sorada laughed.
   “Doubt it,” Eridan said. With his head he indicated to Goten’s former partner who now was leaning heavily against a wall. “I saw what you did to Malom.”
   To fight the two elites at once was demanding. They were much better than Malom had been. Goten was faster and his reaction time was better than theirs, but their skill was about the same and giving his attention to both of them at once had earned him a hail of punches, a split lip, a bleeding forehead, and two or three broken ribs. In the end, when it finally was over and Goten was sprawled on top of a motionless Eridan, who was lying on top of Sorada, he realized that he could hardly wait for his father to come and explain all of this. To just tell him what the hell was going on and why he, a third-class, had somehow managed to beat three elites.
   With a plaster on his forehead and a few meters of bandage wrapped around his torso to keep his ribs from getting aggravated, Goten was in his room, reading. He had much more free time now that his nightly kitchen duty was over. He also slept more, though he wished Roland wouldn’t snore so loudly.
   Goten lifted his eyes off the book and looked at Kyon, who was sitting on his bunk, clipping his toenails. There was still a bruise of considerable size under his left eye. It had just appeared one morning after one of their visits to <i>Matilda’s</i>. Goten had wanted to know how he had gotten it, but his roommate had just glared at him and said nothing. Goten had asked Toharu. Toharu had given him a weird look and said that it had been Ranvera who punched Kyon. When Goten wondered why, Toharu smacked him over his forehead and just left it at that.
   Shrugging, Goten returned to his studies. Lovers’ quarrels were not his problem. He rubbed at his eyes with his fist and yawned. The book wasn’t very interesting. He had never had much interest in ki-guns. All the tiny components of ki-guns he needed to learn were giving him a headache. Kyon, on the other hand, had never even opened the damn book, nor had he ever shown any intention of reading it at all. Goten suspected that his roommate was perfectly familiar with nearly every type of gun, be it ki-guns or simple ones.
   Half an hour later, feeling that he was going to just fold up, Goten put the book aside and went to sleep.
   When he opened his eyes, it was early morning, but it was still dark behind the window. Nonetheless, when he turned the lights on, he saw that he was the only one left in the room. He guessed that the others were already attending drill. Goten wondered why Kyon hadn’t woken him up, but then thought that maybe Kyon was still not feeling like himself because of whatever had transpired between he and Ranvera.
   Goten dressed and rushed outside. It was absolutely quiet, not a single person in the training field. He could detect the strong scent of something burning, but it was impossible to tell where the smells were coming from. Goten raised his head to look at the blinking lampposts overhead. 
   A moment later, he heard the familiar sounds of a fight somewhere in the direction of the airspace center. He ran there, rounded two corners, and caught sight of the shaii fighting two masked men. A third man was already lying on the ground, a large bag sitting next to him. Goten was not certain what the situation was, but he moved forward, intending to help the prince. The rest of the action sequence happened as if in slow motion: Goten managed to take only two steps before the shaii backhanded one of the attackers into the asphalt. Then the prince turned his attention to the second man. That was a huge mistake. The man who had just been sent flying onto the asphalt pulled out a ki-gun. Goten shouted a warning, but it was too late. The prince dropped to the ground. A few spasms ran through his body before he was finished off by a shot to the head.
   Goten woke up panting, sirens blaring all over the base. Trying to gather their wits, he and Kyon lunged towards the window simultaneously, nearly knocking each other over. Goten yelped and cursed loudly as Kyon bumped into his ribs. It was dark outside, but people could be seen running in fields under the light shed by the lampposts. 
   “What the hell is going on?” Daram huffed out, sitting up in his bunk.
   “No idea,” Goten said, moving away from the window and rushing towards the wardrobe to put his uniform on. “Somebody has just hit the alarm button. The reason will come a-”
   The microphones screeched to life.
   “…About now,” Goten finished.
   “Attention. Fire in the second armory. Find your commanding officer and help eliminate the fire.”
   “Fuck,” Daram grunted, jumping to his feet when the final signs of life left the microphones. “Do you know how much shit is in there? It might just blow into the air, taking half of the base with it!”
   “And us,” Goten added joyfully.
   “Always the optimist!” Kyon said, jumping up and down, getting both his trousers and shirt on at the same time. He ran towards the door, got entangled in his trousers, stumbled, waved his restricted arms about like a drunk pigeon, and was near whacking his head on the edge of a cupboard before Roland grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, pulling him back up.
   “Thanks, man,” Kyon panted, heaving a sigh of relief, pushing his arms through the sleeves. He pulled his pants back on and belted them. He and Goten rushed out first, leaving the second-years to dress in the room. 
   They ran straight across the training field and towards the headquarters. On the half-lit training field, there were hundreds of savars running towards the headquarters. They were half-dressed and disordered. Then everyone ducked instinctively at the sound of an explosion, shielding their heads
   “Sounded like a ki gun exploding,” Kyon said after raising his head. “One of the heavily suppressed ki capsules of RHMH by the sound of it.”
   “Why do you know what exploding ki guns sound like?” Goten asked, removing his arms from his head and rushing forward, slightly wincing with every step taken. “And how in the world can you tell the type?”
   “Had an accident or two,” Kyon said, following him.
   The sight that lay before them after they rounded the headquarters made them stop momentarily. The armory was smoking. Through the cracks in the blocks and the absent door, black smoke was coiling outside. Someone had driven a few jeeps over and turned on the headlights to increase visibility. Most savars were just standing around, not managing to get past the crowd which had formed around the armory. The savars who were in the middle had formed chains from the officers’ barracks to the armory and were passing buckets of water while others had hoses. The problem was that the armory had no windows. 
   Goten turned back to where the water tower stood, but it seemed that someone had the same idea that he did; the huge metal barrel was being flown by a handful of Saiyans towards the armory. Someone blasted an entire corner of the armory clean off, making the fire spring right up, splinters raining down on the savars below. Goten could see the molten edges on the hole and deduced that it must have been a very powerful someone. He turned to look at the barrel which had nearly reached the armory. Still looking at the barrel, Goten blinked slowly. He lowered his head and looked around. Everyone was here. Officers, guards, savars, everyone was either trying to put the fire out, or help, or watch, or just stand and admire the fire. 
   Goten cursed under his breath. His eyes scanned his surroundings quickly, but Kyon had disappeared in the mish-mash of savars and he could not spot any of his other friends. 
   Goten turned around and started elbowing his way out of the crowd. It was torture squeezing through the throngs of people, trying to aggravate his ribs as little as possible. Once he was free of the mob, he broke into a run in the opposite direction of the fire. He ran past the canteen, then powered up and rose into the air where he scanned the roof of the spaceship hangar, but there was nothing suspicious. He landed on it.
   The third-class knew he was risking it. Even if he could see pretty well in the dark, the shadows could be deceptive. His physical condition wasn’t good either. But there was no time to waste. Goten slithered over the roof to its edge. He stuck his head out a fraction to take a peek at the heavy doors of the first armory. Nobody was standing at them and they were closed. 
   Careful as could be, Goten moved forward, now walking above the aerospace center. Luckily, he did not need to be that quiet – the ruckus from across the training field masked nearly all sounds. Once he had passed the second door leading into the armory, he peeked again. And here it was – the heavy door was open a fraction. He could see no one around it, but he could guess where the lookouts for accidental passersby were stationed.
   Maybe he was careless or just noisy, but Goten felt that he was already in the game. Had been since he had found those weapons in the water tower. He looked around, but there was no one around as far as he could see. He thought about returning and getting help, but then the door opened and he ducked, leaving only his forehead and eyes peeking over the edge. He saw a man appear in the doorway. He was wearing a mask and was carrying a ki-gun. He also had a large bag with him. Two more masked men appeared from behind him, also with ki-guns and dragging bags. 
   Goten grew confused as fragments of his dream flashed red in his mind and the visions overlaid what he was seeing. He had seen a very similar scene. The thieves were even wearing the same clothes. Goten shook his head to clear his mind – now was not the time.
   Goten was sure that, while he would be getting help, the three of them would disappear without a trace. Trying to get anyone’s attention by shouting would be absolutely pointless in this chaos. All he'd get for his trouble would be a few holes in his body; the ki-guns they were wielding looked serious. He could not risk it and blast them, just in case they were carrying explosives in those bags – the armory could fly into the air as well. To charge at a brigand carrying this amount of guns was simply suicidal. 
   A hand suddenly covered Goten’s mouth and his heart nearly jumped out of his chest, his whole body jolting. 

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