The Edge of Madness

The Saiyajin language -- the language our people spoke before we went to the stars and adopted the Universal language -- has sixteen different words for hate, but not a single word for love.

We did love, of course. No species can achieve intelligence, let alone society or civilization, without the ability to form attachments among its kind, to care for and teach its young, to cooperate in the hunt. But it was always seen as a weakness, an embarrassment that was not acknowledged in public, much as many human societies place a similar stigma on natural bodily functions that wouldn't have raised an eyebrow on my homeworld.

I've lived among humans for a long time now, long enough to at least admit the existence of the emotion, and its importance in my own life, though I doubt I would ever be shameless enough to speak of it in public as the humans do. I've lived among them long enough to turn a more objective eye to the warrior society where I was raised, and to realize that we loved as fiercely and passionately as any human -- even if it is embarrassing to admit it.

In fact, it was only the last few decades before my birth -- the years of rapid cultural change, as we adopted high technology and strived to be seen as equals in the galactic community, and not as backwards savages -- when we began to deliberately shatter the bonds between parent and child, brother and sister. Up until that point, our people had always leaned on each other. We had to. There were so few of us, and the entire planet was our enemy, including the different warring clans of our own race. Our true strength, the strength that enabled us to conquer our world and reach out to the stars, was not our savagery, but our loyalty to kin, our ability to keep fighting beyond all hope of victory for the glory or salvation of one's own clan. And yet we turned our backs on that, as we somehow reached the conclusion that in order to become perfect warriors, we must brutally suppress all weakness, all softness, all compassion or empathy. I can't fault my ancestors for that. They were newcomers to the game of galactic politics -- having conquered their homeworld, they thought themselves powerful and supreme, until they reached out into the greater galaxy and discovered that they were, after all, very small fish in a very large river. I admire my people greatly for how much they managed to accomplish in such a short time, but as always, when any individual or culture becomes dedicated to one goal, tunnel vision sets in, and the balance becomes upset.

And so we instituted the culling of the weak, sending the less-fit children to other worlds, to come home victorious or not at all. We divorced the act of procreation from the act of sex, and embryos were raised to gestation in glass tanks. Most children would never know their parents. I knew my own father only because I scored high enough in the initial testing that he took a personal interest in training me. If I'd scored low (a terrible thought!) I would have been sentenced to the same fate as Kakarrot -- abandoned on an alien world.

There was no place in our society for weakness ... or for love.

I was raised to believe that love was not just weakness, but madness -- for who else but a madman would willingly sacrifice themselves for another person's happiness, well-being, or life? Love was a fallibility of lesser races, something that we used to control them, for it was shocking how easily the strongest alien warrior would capitulate when their children or parents were threatened. When Radditz first landed on Earth, I understand that he tried the same technique on Kakarrot, threatening Kakarrot's son in the hopes that he'd react just like a human -- and he was not disappointed.

What would a true Saiyajin have done in that situation? Well ... for thousands of years of our history, I suppose, we would have torn limb-from-limb whatever enemy threatened the child -- and then smacked some sense into the kid for letting itself get in that situation. The recent, modern, up-to-date Saiyajins, of course, would not have allowed themselves to be swayed by that kind of weakness. Freeza took me, for example, without objection from my father -- except for the king's anger that he was being deprived of a strong warrior. Or maybe that was only how he rationalized away his instinct to protect his offspring, an instinct that I doubt we ever really lost.

Yes, it's instinct! Blind instinct. No wonder we suppressed it, struggled against it, for we Saiyajin understand from our youngest infancy just how strong and dangerous instinct can be. It is instinct, after all, that turns us to raging monsters in battle. If we hadn't learned from birth to suppress our battle urges when we were around each other, we would not have survived as a species. And in order to be a spacefaring race, we taught ourselves to shut down all our emotions, save the lust for battle which could be selectively invoked. In a sense, we were remaking ourselves into the killing machines that the outside world had always believed us to be.

Love is weakness.

Love is madness.

I do not know how long I walked the razor's edge of that madness -- but I remember the day that I fell.

No, it wasn't in my acts of sex with Bulma Briefs. I am truly not sure what I felt for her then, but no matter what has since grown between myself and my mate, I do not think that what I felt for her at the time could be dignified with the term "love." She felt sorry for me (sympathy? pity? it was the same to me) and that offended me deeply, but out of sympathy she offered me physical comfort, and, after a time, I was not too proud to accept it. I was not a virgin; some races have the notion that the Saiyajin considered it beneath them to consort with other species, but this was just a rumor and an untrue one at that -- especially after the destruction of Vegeta-sei, when there were only four of us left, and all of those male. I never realized that a child could be the possible outcome of such a liaison -- a few races are known to be able to interbreed with Saiyajin, but I didn't expect humans to be one of them -- but it didn't matter much to me in any case. I was a self-involved Saiyajin warrior. Maybe I did feel some warmth for the child of my blood, or the woman who had borne it, but it certainly wasn't enough to move me out of my self-absorption.

I would have let them fall to their deaths when the Artificial Humans attacked them -- not out of malice, but merely indifference. I was focused on battle, and over the years since the destruction of Vegeta-sei, I had learned to consider anyone else as completely meaningless to me. It would never have occurred to me to pay attention to any non-combatant while I was trying to fight, and so my bafflement when Trunks asked me why I didn't save them was not sarcasm at all. I'd sized up Bulma's plane, decided that it wasn't a threat, and thought no more about it, let alone noticed its destruction. I think I would have felt regret if they had died. I do remember a small twinge, quickly suppressed, when I realized what Trunks was talking about.

But I was not mad -- I was stone-cold sane, and therefore in control of this weakness.

I did not truly walk the road to madness until the day we fought Perfect Cell.

Something in me still refuses to think of that day. In all rationality, I should go over it in great detail, analyze my defeat, determine the cause of my mistakes, and train myself to succeed where I had failed. And I ... can't. Not only because of my wounded pride.

I watched two people die that day -- the only two people in the entire universe (with the possible exception of Bulma as well) whose fates mattered to me. The first was the man I had sworn to kill. I watched that victory stripped from me, that death claimed at the hand of another. Perhaps the worst of all was that Cell didn't kill Kakarrot, wouldn't have killed him directly if he hadn't acted on his own -- he chose to die. He said goodbye to his friends (but not to me) and went willingly into death. Why?

To save the world.

To save his son.

For love. For madness.

And before I could recover from that shock -- that the very reason for my existence was gone -- the second shock came, the one from which I could not recover.

It should not have mattered.

We Saiyajin are warriors. We are the greatest warriors the universe has ever seen. To die in battle is glorious. It is what we all hope for, what we strive for.

There are far worse ways to die than a shot through the heart. Trust me ... I've experienced it. There is no pain. The body is too paralyzed with shock.

Death in battle. Every warrior goes prepared, knowing that even perfect strength cannot protect him -- only the foolhardy or stupid warrior believes he cannot die.

I have been surrounded by death since I was a child. I have killed and I have died. I am no stranger to it.

And I have never felt anything like what I felt that day.

I will not speak of it. It's private. I will only say that on that day, I looked into madness. I looked it full in the face, both kinds of madness -- the kind that I'd always carried with me, the tightrope over the pit of rage and bloodlust into which I occasionally fall -- and this new kind, this willingness to throw one's own life away for ... for nothing really, for another's existence, the kind of thing that should not matter, and does not matter in a rational, cold, uncaring universe, the kind of universe in which I had always believed I lived ...

On that day, I fell into madness.

And, gods willing, I will never be sane again.

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Dragonball and Dragonball Z, all characters and situations are (c) Akira Toriyama.