It was really a tetrahorn, as Vegeta thought - an adult, splendid female, though a little small than usual. She had four short horns protruding for her head, and a thick, turtle-like shell all over her back. It was precisely her shell that most part of the pirates´laser shoots hit, causing the lasers to bounce back and the hunters to constantly dodge them, cursing and laughing. Vegeta watched all the movement, from his shelter under the foliages of the lowest branch he dared to perch upon. Occasionally, he took advantage of all tge rustle and bustle on the ground to jump to another tree, so he wouldn´t miss a moment of the show, as the same time he kept himself out of the tetrahorn´s way. Although tetrahorns preferred dodging the trees, they were strong enough to put them down, if necessary.
With luck, maybe one of those pirates would die accidentaly, killed by the tetrahorn or by his clumsy fellows, and Vegeta could get his clothes. Maybe even him could kill one of the weakest guys. Despite such cold-hearted intentions, however, he frequently caught himself having fun to watch the pirates´ antics. "That would be funny if it wasn´t so shameful to look" he thought, a smile threatening to lift the corner of his mouth "I would have killed that beast in just a few minutes, with my bare hands. They can fly and are carrying weapons, and still they´re having all that trouble!"
The pirates´ troubles were constantly increased by funny incidents. A short, plumpy, green-skinned alien boldly jumped on the beast´s way, just to be suddenly yanked by a leg and float helplessly on the air. His colleagues´ shock was quickly replaced by laughs, when everybody noticed that the plumpy little pirate´s foot had been caught by the loop of a rope hanging from a tree. Tidaba, as the others called him, got loosen with a shot of his laser gun and sullenly rejoined his fellows. The others started making fun with Tidaba, calling him "footloop", but the jokes silenced when more two pirates were caught in a nother trap - a hole hidden under a mount of leaves, this time.
"Don´t step on the ground! And don´t touch the trees, either!" warned a tall, dark-skinned alien, apparently the leader of the group. He hadn´t a nose and his lips were thick and white, like Kyui´s.
"Too bad the beast didn´t fall here. That would have spared us a lot of trouble" mumbled one of the almost-fallen pirates, glaring at the hole. He belonged to the same race of the late Garana, though his wrinkled skin was pink. The other almost-fallen pirate, a purple-scaled guy with a fin on his head, called the pink one "lazy", but Tidaba remarked that probably it was the savage who had planted the traps.
"Savages have small brains," he insisted "That gray thing inside their heads doesn´t get big enough because they don´t know anything but beasts and plants. Only a pinhead would think that guys like us would be trapped by such a primeval..."
"You are the pinhead here! Have you turned off your scouter? " interrupted an orange alien with funny red bumps covering his head, where there supposed to be hair. He was as tall as Vegeta - not that brawny, but his clothes certainly would fit, the prince thought. Unaware of the greedy eyes upon him, the orange guy barreled on "The spheres´ signals are getting stronger. It´s obv..."
"Shut up, Tea!" the dark leader cut him off "We´re missing the brute!"
He was right. Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the second trap, the tetrahorn ran faster, towards a bigger space between the trees, probably leading to a clearance. The group of pirates quickly gathered; at a wave of their leaver´s hand, they separated again in two smaller groups, one of three people and the other of four. Vegeta barely could follow all their movements, but suspected that they were planning to get together in front of the tetrahorn, barring her way. "That might work... if I only didn´t know how tetrahorns react when something stands on their way. Even if they´re stronger than her, they´ll get a nice surprise." he thought, smirking as he hurried into jumping on the trees next to the events, even risking to be noticed. That would be funny.
But Vegeta didn´t have any fun at all about what happened next. Noticing that her persecutors were quickly getting closer, the already tired female found a new strenght in her despair and jumped forward, knocking off one of the closest pirates. Since the space between the trees was gradually getting bigger, she fastened her pace and started to leave the pirates behind; suddenly, however, her front paws sunk and she fell forward, so violently that she almost tumbled.
She had found another hole, or rather, a big trench covered by branches, earth and leaves. Projected to catch people, the trench was too small for the tetrahorn´s entire body, but it was large enough to get half part of her body stuck. The animal buffed and leaned on her hind legs, trying to get an impulse to loose herself, but it was too late. The leader was hovering above her.
"This one is mine!"he gloated, as if he had built the trap himself "Don´t try to escape, silly beast! Your claws will be a great adornment on the wall of my bunker." With a ki blast, he cut off her right hind leg.
"And what makes you think that Juice will let you keep them?" the pink alien yelled in order to be heard above the animal´s cries of pain. Ignoring his question, the rest of the group was already coming as they shouted in entusiasm, eager to take part on the killing. Coffee pulled the tetrahorn out of the hole, since she couldn´t run without a leg.
"Don´t kill it yet, Coffee! You´re always a party pooper!" the orange guy protested.
"Tea´s right. Let´s have more fun, this time" Purple Scales agreed, before kicking the tetrahorn´s head and break two of her horns. The pink pirate, called Baina by the others, tried to cut off the animal´s other hind leg with his laser, but the thing hanged loosely by a bloody piece of thick skin. Laughing at his friend´s inhability, Tidaba finished the task chopping the skin with the side of his hand.The poor female howled so much that someone suggested to get some vines so they could tie her snout closed.
Vegeta watched the torture boringly and cold-heartedly. "Seeing that, I realize that I am actually nice to my preys. Never took so long to kill them." he thought. He was disapointed at the way the hunting had finished. Nobody had died accidentally and there was no way for him to kill Tea to get his clothes without being spotted and hunted by the rest of the gang. But what worried him most were the spheres. Even having Turles´ orders to not go after them, he didn´t believe... uh? What was that?
His peripherical vision had caught a movement on the trail the tetrahorn had turned to run. Like in a cue, Baina also noticed it and pointed at its direction, getting the others´ attention. Standing at the entrance of the clearing was a boy.
During a few instants, nobody said a word. It was a small boy, even smaller than Tidaba, the shortest member of the group. He had black. straight hair, cut in a funny way that reminded Vegeta the half-fruits that he used as cups. What impressed them most was the boy´s strange outfit: a sort of baggy, purple, sleevless jumpsuit, with a red belt and a big, cloud-like collar, the Namekian trademark.
"That boy... he´s dressed as a namekuseijin, but he´s an humanoid like me!" Vegeta thought. He was as amazed as the pirates "Why would a boy of another race be walking around dressed like that? Unless..." The idea looked so absurd that Vegeta initially refused, but it was the only explanation he could find "I heard the nameks where generous, but at the point of adopting a child of another race?"
Past the initial stupor, Tea broke the silence with a wicked laugh.
"Check it out! At last one of the namekuseijin has showed its ugly face." he teased.
"Namekuseijin? With that skin and hair?" Baina questioned sceptically.
"Must have got tired of being ugly, so he put some make up and a wig on. It didn´t work" the purple guy with the fin on his head added, making the others crack up.
Ignoring the laughs and insults, Gohan walked silently towards the poor mutilated animal. The earth all over its head and part of its body, and the destroyed borders of the trench told him the whole story. He and Krillin had opened the hole last afternoon, taking advantage that nobody had came after the spheres yet. Gohan had insisted on that. Since ki blasts could call the enemies´ attention, they had used trunks as shovels, and then covered the whole with a grate of small branches, covering it with earth and leaves. Feeling a tickle in his eyes, Gohan took a deep breath. He wouldn´t allow himself to cry in front of those monsters. "I´m so sorry", he apologized to the ailing beast, even knowing that most probably the creature wouldn´t read his thoughts "This was not for you. Those guys who hurt you were the ones who supposed to have fallen there." Despite his remorse and anger, however, Gohan was curious, too. " It was surprising enough to find dinosaurs in Namek, but this small planet has some, too, though they looked slightly different from both the saurians of Namek and Earth. This one looks like a triceratops, but has a shell, just like a turtle. Apparently, some species are repeated throughout the universe, with small variations..." He held out a hand to touch the creature´s head.
The pirate that had joked about Gohan´s "make-up" gave a step forward and slapped the kid´s hand off.
"Don´t touch our prey, brat!" he hissed.
Gohan backed away as he rubbed his hand, more in shock than anger, as the other pirates laughed again. The only two that didn´t laugh were the wrinkled pink guy and the big one with brown skin, both looked thoughtful. Gohan saw Pink Guy opening his mouth, but the orange one with the bumps on his head silenced him with a wave of hand. The boy stood put, holding the offended hand as he mentally his foes. "Purple scales, Pink Wrinkles and Green Fishie aren´t a big deal", he thought" I can defeated them easily, but I´m not sure about the Orange Bumps... and not about Big Brown, too. I should have listed Mr. Krillin´s advice."
Unexpectedly, Coffee put one hand on the purple pirate and shove him off.
"Leave the boy alone, Dromel" he scolded in slightly amused tone "He reminds me when I was little.
Coffee´s fellows rolled their eyes and sighed, but he was suddenly too absorbed by his old memories to notice that.
"Whenever my clan brought a kill to our home, I was around, trying to get some pieces of the beast for my collection" he winked at Gohan "Y´know, pieces of hide, scales, bones, this kind of stuff, since I couldn´t even dream of having the teeth and claws."he barreled on, in a dreamy voice, his eyes distant "But my siblings always took my gains and kicked me away. I began to fly before learning to use my ki!" he laughed, as if that was a happy memory, then gave a few steps at Gohan´s direction, making the boy backpedal a few steps.
"Won´t you make a deal with us?" Coffee proposed, as he leaned friendly towards the kid.
"Deal?" Gohan repeatedly as he blinked confusely. In the back of his mind, showed up a small hope that guy wasn´t as evil as the others in his group.
Baina tried to speak again, but Tea muffled him with a hand.
"You´ll show us where the orange spheres are and I´ll give you a piece of this animal, since you like it so much."Coffee offered "How about a little piece of its hide? Or the point of its tail?"
"Master Turles told us to not look for the spheres, Coffee!" Dromel protested.
"He told us to not waste our time looking for them" Tea replied with a smirk "He´s not going to be angry if we´ll bring him the balls because we found them under our noses."
"You don´t have to be afraid" Coffee continued to Gohan, in his friendly tone "If we´ll have the balls, everybody wins. My fellows and I can leave this boring planet and your people stays alive. Nobody is going to know that you helped us, and you´ll have a splendid souvenir! What do you say?"
Gohan had learned in his books that the primeval races on Earth kept claws, horns, scales and other pieces of the animals they hunted as trophees. The things taken from their hardest won preys were so precious that men used them as amulets or money. But one thing was to read about that, and the other was to get the fresh- cutten pieces of an animal that was still alive and howling. Gohan was sure that the Earth hunters wouldn´t cut living animals; besides, according to the books, they hunted out of need, not for some diseasy fun, like those pirates. However, that Coffee guy hadn´t been taught to love nature and living beings just like Gohan. He obviously didn´t think he was doing anything wrong. Despite his hatred, the small demi-Saiyan tried to figure out a way of refusing Coffee´s offer and not offending him.
By his turn, Coffee felt that he had offended Gohan with his offering. Well if those orange orbs were as precious as Master Turles hinted, it was just natural that the boy would want much more for them than a mere piece of tail. Grudgingly, the dark-skinned alien crouched and took something from his belt, handing it for the kid. Gohan blinked suspiciously. At the first sight, he couldn´t figure out what is was, because of all the blood over it. However, he noticed the thing had a triangular shape, and that the point was curve. There was still some flesh on its largest extremity.
It was a claw!
"Awesome, huh?" Coffee smiled proudly, misinterpreting Gohan´s horrified look as one of admiration"I bet you never had one of these in your life. Your friends are going to die of jealousy!"
"I think that you little friend is going to die of disgust!" Tea sneered "Every time you offer him a piece of OUR kill, his fat cheeks become greener than Footloop´s. Besides, who do you think that had built all those traps?"
Both Tidaba and Dromel gasped in shock. Baina glanced them with disdain, before shoting Tea a resented look.
"I would have said that before, if you had allowed me," he complained.
Frowning, Coffee put the claw back in his belt pouch and slowly straightened up.
"I´m not an idiot, guys." he sighed "Of course I suspected that he, or his people had done the traps. So? I just wanted to give the kid a reward for helping..."
"Reward? I am going to give him the reward he deserves!" Tidaba exclaimed. Furiously, he took off towards Gohan, his fists clenching "You miserable little bastard! Your wretched rope almost cut my circulation, and now everybody are calling me Footloop, because of you!! "
He tried to punch Gohan, but the boy dodged his fist easily,grabbed Tidaba´s arm and spun the little green man on the air for some moments, before tossing him on Coffee´s stomach. The blow took Coffee´s breath off and sent both the pirates sitting on the ground. All of that happened so quickly that the bystanders barely could see anything.
Their scouters started to beep.
“W…wha…” Tea uttered, unable to say anything else. His companions didn’t do better, for the quick following numbers on their respective devices froze all of them into statues. Clenching his fists white, Gohan screamed at the top of his small lungs. It was useless to keep holding his ki low. He just hoped that Krillin had time enough to move the spheres to a further spot.
Baina´s wrinkles were almost white as the numbers kept going.
“6.000... 8.000... 10.000... AAAHHHH!!!!” he squealed when his old scouter exploded. Screaming in fear, he took off and broke away, taking the direction that he and his companions had came from, after the animal. Nobody paid him attention, because in that right moment, Gohan raised both hands above his head.
“MASENKO!!!!” he roared as he put them down, in front of his body. All the pirates jumped instintictively out of the way, though nobody else thought of doing the same as Baina.
A strong, huge light blinded all of them almost immediately. When they could see again, after a few moments, the pirates realized with surprise that none of them was dead. However, as they soon could notice, their prey didn´t exist anymore. Where once had laid the aghonizing tetrahorn female, there was now a huge, charred crater.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!” Coffee howlle as if he was in terrible pain“MY PREY! You dirty little bastard!!”
Rocks floated from the ground and trees shuddered as his own ki started to raise. Prudently. Vegeta slid from his own tree and concealed himself in a bush.
"I knew I should had killed that brat when I first saw him!" Dromel exclaimed, raising his laser gun to shoot at Gohan.Tea held his arm.
"Don´t. Coffee´s going to avenge on our behalf," he said in a low, calm tone, smirking again "Let´s get the spheres instead."
Dromel nodded and smirked, too. Tea motioned his hand for the still stunned Tidaba to come with them. Having lost all the will to fight the superstrong boy, the fishy alien promptly joined them and the trio took off.
Despite his momentaneous shock and fear at Coffee´s reaction, Gohan noticed the movement and turn his head just in time to see the three taking the same directions he had came from. "Mr. Krillin! They must have noticed that he´s moving the spheres!"
"You´re not leaving!" he yelled, taking off to intercept the trio, but Coffee cut off his retreat.
"YOU stay here!I´m going to teach you to not destroy people´s property!" he admonished, throwing a big fist towards Gohan.
The boy dodged the punch and started a serie of punches and kicks at the opponent four times bigger than him.
"That poor animal wasn´t your property! You and your friends were torturing it!" he yelled back as he dodged Coffee´s blows = one, two, three, four times. The dark giant was strong, but too slow... or maybe he was too blind by anger. Still, Gohan mentally thanked to Guru for having awoken his hidden powers. The boy gave another series of punches, prontly blocked by Coffee. The burly man focused into keeping his guard high; Gohan took the advantage to punch him in the stomach. Coffee bent forward with the pain and Gohan gave him a punch that destroyed the pirate´s scouter and sent him backwards, breaking the trunks of the trees behind him.
Coffee´s broken scouter made Gohan remember how Baina´s had exploded, when he raised his energy. He felt a pang of guilt "The scouters! I should have destroyed all of them when I had the chance, but I was too worried about the poor dinosaur. Damn it!"
He could feel the ki of the three pirates that had flied away, but not Krillin´s. Probably his friend was still hidden and holding his ki. Thinking that he had knocked out Coffee, at least by now, Gohan started to turn around.
His distraction almost costed his life.
"CAPUCCINOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" Coffe´s scream echoed at Gohan´s back. The boy turned around again, just to see the pirate´s mouth opened and expelling a huge ki blast at his direction. During the first three seconds, he panicked, reminding of Nappa´s Ka-pah blast; then something clicked in his brain and he jumped out of the way - almost too late.
Coffee´s blast opened kilometers of clearance in the middle of the forest, framed by charred trees. The little demi-Saiyan stared in horror at all the destructing, his mouth open wide, until a raspy, funny sound made him look upon his shoulder. It was a laughter, but instead of usual 'hahaha' was a 'hohoho', like Santa Claus´.
"And" Gohan thought as he glared to the tall, brawny figure standing with his hands on the waist, "it´s the only thing they have in common."
"You are smart, kid!" Coffee stated in a light, aproving voice "Strong, too. It´s really a shame I´ll have to kill you."
Well, Coffee and Tea are obvious, but the other names deserve some explanation because they came from my native language.
Tidaba - "batida" scrambled. It means smoothie, in Portuguese.
Dromel - hidromel, or mead in Portuguese. It´s an alcoholic drink created by fermenting honey with water, probably the oldest alcoholic beverage ever. It was very popular among Romans, Vikings and other ancient people.
Baina - tubaína, a Brazilian soda. Since it´s made with guarana seeds, I found natural that Baina belonged to the same race as Garana (but much more coward).