"I don't buy into this whole business of good and evil. No matter what your motivations are, killing is killing. You kill to ensure your own survival, or the survival of your own ideals. The only thing that makes it good or evil is perspective." Lottus says offhandedly. "Sure, you can make a case about torture being evil, but then you'll be pinning evil of the so called good people. Take Destron as an example - we Saiyans were an invading force, and we were killing your people. To us, that was good, as we knew we consume mass amounts of resources; so having a competing civilization would make having those resources more difficult; so we went to war to secure what was good for us. So, your people, seeing us as evil, invented an aerosol weapon that liquifies the organs, lungs first."
"Excluding yourself, most Tuffles saw that as a good thing. A deterrent that pushed back the evil Saiyans." Lottus adds. "I'd argue that the agony of having your organs burst and melt while you're still alive would be evil. Perspective."
Lottus doesn't comment on whether or not the people he ran into were decent or not - he'd encountered them in Hell, after all. For the most part, it seemed that he and Yatapi agreed on the matter of whether good and evil meant anything. Lottus follows after Yatapi, clasping his hands together behind his head leisurely.
"What was it you're gathering information on again?" Lottus asks. "If Destron affects their souls? In what way do you mean, or think you mean?"
“Precisely.” Yatapi appreciated that Lottus understood what he was getting at, and while the examples weren’t entirely necessary per se, it did put Lottus’ understanding of the topic into perspective. “Still, I will say, beyond whatever moral perspective one may have, both courses of action were ultimately idiotic.” Yatapi suggested. “There was no real attempt to reach an understanding, which is what I believe to be a massive failure. The way I see it, it was— and still is— possible to create technologies and systems that ensure bountiful resources for everyone involved. All it takes is a bit of thought. That said, it seems to be that thinking is a luxury only afforded to a scarce few.” Himself being one of these few, obviously.
“I’m sure there are Saiyans that think being an invasive force of war is unnecessary as well. I cannot say that I’ve met any that say as such outright, however, logic points out the possibility.” Yatapi shrugged, he didn’t care all that much either way, he was mostly concerned with himself and his own goals anyway.
Speaking of, Lottus asked for some further details on what Yatapi was meaning to look for. “Given the disastrous results of Destron’s use— we both know well enough what it can do. In mass quantities it permeates even the local biome, inclusive of weather systems and wildlife should any of it survive, I do not have conclusive evidence on what it does to that which it kills; and that bothers me. As a scientist I want to be thorough, to eliminate all doubt.” Yatapi explains. “If Destron does indeed persist in this realm, if it causes problems with this ‘recycling’ system that is present, especially for souls that do wish to move on... Then what else could be in danger as a result of my kin’s sheer ignorance?” Yatapi’s fists clenched ever so slightly, a yellow pulse reverberating in his eyes. “It simply cannot go unchecked, is what I am saying.”
"You can call the war stupid - war is my culture. The only thing stupid about it is how it was handled from start to finish." Lottus remarks. "Sure, they could have landed and tried coexisting for a while; but it wouldn't have lasted anyway. War was going to happen, whether it was an invasion, or a conflict a decade or so down the line. That's what we are - we're a warrior race, simple fact. There's been some changes that my people have had that yours haven't seen. They're more willing to stand back and talk now, compared to a hundred years ago."
He listens to the next aspect, an answer to Lottus' query.
"So, you're worried that Destron does more than harm living beings - you mentioned that earlier." Lottus nods. He didn't like the implications, for more reasons than one. "I guess you have a theory then - but don't be surprised if it goes over my head. I'm intelligent in street smarts and warfare - not so smart in philosophic stuff."
Lottus continues following after Yatapi - which must have been funny to see to any onlookers.
"...Do you think that if it does do something, that it lasts a long time?" Lottus asks, thinking of Rapini.
Yatapi smirked. “Oh?” War was Saiyan culture? A bold claim in the Tuffle’s opinion. In any case, he listened to what Lottus had to say. If there was something that the two could agree on, it would be that entire engagement was a miserable mess— albeit for their own personal reasons. “A bit limiting to reduce yourselves like that, is it not? I thought limitations were something your kin had little care for.” Yatapi spoke curiously. Yes, the capacity to fight, and fight on was decidedly Saiyan, that would be what a warrior did; fight. Of course, this was only what Yatapi thought was the case, he wondered what Lottus may think of the question he had posed in response— Yatapi wanted to see how it made Lottus think.
Lottus understood more or less what Yatapi was getting at regarding Destron, and that was good enough. “Indeed.” Yatapi nodded. “Feel free to ask questions should anything confuse you. I will do my best to explain.”
So, the two would walk on, Yatapi checked a device he had created on his wrist just then, looking at a series of images, eventually choosing to land on a pair of photographs. Should Lottus make any effort to look, he may recognise them as two individuals that Yatapi had found when he and Lottus first met. “They were among the most in tact... So maybe them first...” Yatapi thought aloud.
Eventually Lottus spoke up, another question. Yatapi frowned visibly. Even without speaking, Lottus would likely know the answer. “Given the impact it has in the living realm? Yes.”
The skin between Lottus' brows creases as his brows furrow, and his jaw seems to clench slightly tighter as a result of Yatapi's response. Well, for several of his responses, actually. That his people had a reputation for seeking to surpass limitations was just propoganda, he knew. In truth, only a few Saiyans would ever seek to break through certain types of limitations. For Lottus, that limitation had become power - but not specifically to control anything, but to see if there was a limit.
For him, he would keep growing stronger until he could challenge these mythical beings known as the Supreme Kai. He'd seen Shinjin now, which were lesser Kai, all things considered. But it was the idea of facing and overcoming the masters of the living realm and Otherworld that enticed the Saiyan to continue growing, even though he had died. But the vast majority of Saiyans had become more moderate. Weak and weak-willed by his own estimation. They were too comfortable living under control, to ever seek rising above that.
"It's not limiting to understand your species." Lottus replies curtly, as his eyes are drawn to a pair of beings Lottus does not personally recognize. "A societal limit is not the same as personal limits."
The pair of spirits were partially formed, upper halves being humanoid, while the lower halves were of the ghostly tails. One was a Tuffle, and the other a Saiyan. Lottus looks at Yatapi.
"You recognize them." he says, a statement, not a question.
Yatapi examined Lottus’ reaction closely. The clear annoyance, perhaps even anger of some level made complete sense. When something so deeply connected to them was questioned it was a natural reaction, but of course Yatapi meant no ill with his question, and perhaps even Lottus knew that. He wasn’t stupid, not really.
Soon enough, Lottus spoke up, and his answer earned him an intrigued smile from Yatapi. “I appreciate that you gave my inquiry thought despite any offense it may have caused.” Yatapi nodded politely. “To me, it is broader. The capacity to not only fight, but fight on.” Yatapi unveiled the thought process he had. “Yes, such a thing lends itself to war quite handily— logically I would have to agree. However, that is not all that such ideas do in my opinion, that is all. Agree or disagree, that is up to you, I won’t hold it against you. There would be no chance of understanding if I did.”
Searching with Yatapi’s hologram as a guide, the two eventually found the loosely formed spirits of two individuals that matched up. The Saiyan and Tuffle that died together many years ago, their spirits held close to each other, their eternal expressions tired, weathered as if they were ill. “Mmh.” Yatapi grimaced, evidently seeing something he did not like already.
Lottus spoke up, noting that Yatapi recognized these two souls. “Yes. I found their remains at the same time I met you initially.” Yatapi’s pace slowed, but his movement was brisk and purposeful towards them. Seeing him approach, the mangled souls groaned painfully— not to say that they were threatened, no— worse.
They were wordlessly pleading for Yatapi and Lottus to stay away for their own sakes. There were no other souls around too... Noticing this, Yatapi froze immediately. “Something definitely isn’t right.” It seemed as though the Tuffle scientist wasn’t sure of exactly why, but he at least picked something up. “But what..?” Yatapi’s curiosity was nearly insatiable, his desire to understand all things just as fierce as Lottus’ joy of battle and desire for a purpose chosen of his own accord. “Whatever it is, however hard it is to stomach... I must know.” Yatapi willed himself to take a step forward, slowly creating a new device on one of his wrists. The souls writhed in shock and surprise at the sight of this, as what looked like tears began to form from their sunken eyes.
Lottus watches as Yatapi approaches the two souls but shows no outward evidence of whether or not he cared about their suffering. He did, of course - because of the source of their suffering. Destron was a cowardly, horrid weapon. Gas that liquified the lungs when used as a concentrated weapon at worst, or a choking, strangling smoke that left its victims horribly sick at best. He had suffered terrible migraines and random bursts of pain induced mania for half a decade after his own exposure to the weapon. Lottus at least had enough courtesy to vaporize or kill his foes quickly - he did enjoy a game of cat and mouse now and then, and certainly allowed some to suffer their agony if they had particularly pissed him off - but he more often than not aimed for fast deaths, as he had with the Majin, Sha, not too long ago.
A sinking feeling had started to grow ever since Yatapi spoke of wanting to see if there had been any effects of the gas on the souls of those who had died by it. And now, seeing these two souls in their agony after death? They had been dead longer than Rapini... And that realization had left the pit in his stomach feeling like it had expanded into a chasm.
There were no souls nearby, but now that Lottus had torn his attention away from Yatapi and the other two, Lottus began to notice that there were other meager souls keeping their distances from one another and normal souls. And that is when he spots a brief flash of something familiar - but it was gone in the next moment. The thought that crossed his mind is not at all pleasant, and his eyes narrow. Lottus casts a glance back at Yatapi briefly, and then begins walking towards a relatively distant gazebo overlooking a lake.
Yatapi cast aside his apprehension and approached the writhing souls, conjuring an apparatus that would properly scan them for traces of what he was looking for. He was so engrossed in the pursuit of this knowledge he just barely noticed Lottus’ movements having seen the souls himself.
The wailing from the two he was scanning was horrific, and any lesser people would be deterred by the sounds of this despair, but not Yatapi. He could not call himself a scientist if he chose to shy away now in the face of adversity, especially if it involved a hateful and cowardly thing such as Destron— the ultimate failure of science in his eyes.
At some point, he tuned the awful sounds out as he continued to scan them, changing devices as he saw the need to. Eventually he got the results from them. Destron did not exist within or around them, the substance had no physical presence that could cause damage here and now. No, the damage was already made, made in the Mortal Realm upon their souls before true death.
Even so, two was a small sample size, and not viable. Yatapi made his way around the area, finding souls that were in similar condition, and everything came up the same. The damage, the scars upon their souls had already been made, and Destron did not exist here as far as the examination had been concerned. This was a good sign, a good result.
Yet, not the optimal one. Though Destron itself did not persist, its consequences did. Knowing that, Yatapi’s hatred for that damnable substance grew, it grew to a height he did not think to be previously possible. How many more had suffered this way? Were they still here? Did any get cleansed of it? Could they be cleansed of it? If not, what happened to that soul?
Would any remaining damage persist in whoever was reincarnated with that soul..?
Mulling over all of this, Yatapi had subconsciously found his way to the gazebo that Lottus was occupying, and the sight of the Saiyan got Yatapi out of his intellectual trance. “Ah— Lottus. Of course, you’re still here. Right.” Yatapi cleared his throat, deciding to distract himself from his prior thoughts for a moment so that they could properly process in the back of his mind. “Is something the matter?” Yatapi asked, unconsciously recalling when Lottus backed away earlier.
Lottus ignores Yatapi, his pace quickening as he approaches the gazebo. Practically flying up the step, Lottus stops short - staring at the back of a half formed soul, much like the rest of the damaged souls present. Lottus' shoulders slump slightly, and his mouth hangs partially open. The soul, who had been looking out over the shimmering lake, seems to start, and turns around.
Her eyes spoke of a once vibrant, and even hot headed nature - but the bags under those eyes, and the seemingly frozen look of despair made the soul look rather exhausted, as though she had been awake for years without rest before her death. Her eyes settle on Yatapi only briefly, as he had been speaking - but then they lock on and stay locked on Lottus. Her hands, which had been on the gazebo railing, flop to her sides, and she turns to face the two fully.
She is somewhat small - certainly around the average height for a Saiyan woman grown, but well dwarfed by Lottus. Her hair was a mangled mess, and cropped short, looking like she'd been thrashing around in her sleep in such a way that her hair had become eternally messy. She wore what was very clearly a Saiyan battle jacket and cloth arm guards - but the body below her waist was like that of the rest of the damaged souls.
"...Lottus?" she says, her voice cracking. She looked up to see his halo, and then back to his eyes. "You dumbass."
Lottus, for his part, was speechless it seemed. He slowly drops to his knees, never looking away from the Saiyan woman.
Yatapi raised a brow, now aware that Lottus was intensely focused on something— it didn’t bother the scientist all that much, Lottus did seem the type to become laser focused when it was important to him. In that way, the two were quite similar considering that Yatapi nearly forgot Lottus was there once presented with the thirst for knowledge.
In any case, Lottus’ attention was locked on a single soul among the ones nearby, and after catching up properly, Yatapi gazed upon said soul with curiosity of his own. They were a Saiyan— at least once upon a time. Something about them didn’t look right at all, their expression alone tipped Yatapi off on that, but they had traces of the same degradation as many of the other souls he had just been examining... Surprisingly, they had noticeably less of it at first glance. Instinctively, Yatapi reconstructed the same series of scanning devices to be used at a respectable distance so as to not get in Lottus’ way.
Speaking of him actually, did Lottus know this soul? Surely he did, given his haste to reach them. Was it perhaps a family member, friend or enemy? Yatapi could only assume they were important enough to have Lottus’ undivided attention.
Then, the soul spoke, they absolutely knew each other. She reprimanded him for dying after noticing his halo, so she likely didn’t expect to see him so soon, if ever.
Yatapi would have left it there had Lottus not dropped to his knees and spoken the name of this soul before them. The same name that Lottus lost his mind over when fighting with Vocado a good long while ago. “Wait... What?” Initially, Yatapi was stunned, the likelihood of this encounter was immensely slim if not almost nonexistent, and he only knew what Rapini meant to Lottus through his grief-filled fury and ravings the day the Tuffle heard the name mentioned around Lottus.
After a short moment of stunned silence, there were things that came to Yatapi’s mind, mostly things that Lottus said that day.
"I'll let my own blood burn... for Rapini... for what they did to her..."
"Fall in love with some smart mouthed woman who doesn't know when to let things drop, and then watch Destron shred her lungs apart; watch her blood pour from her eyes and ears, listen to her try to say your name with what little air she has left, and die before she can even get four letters out!!"
"Rapini... can't tell me what she would want..."
"A Low Class soldier like Rapini... would have just been another tool in the shop... But not to me... not to me..."
Yatapi frowned. Too much blood had burned for that war on Plant, too many loves destroyed and dead, lost to the ether not being able to tell the unlucky survivors what they would have wanted, people used like tools in a garage workshop, soldiers or otherwise.
All that ever did was create this. A deeply traumatized man, one who would now relish the chance of shedding rivers of blood or breaking a million bones in a row because that was all he was made to know, indoctrinated into a flawed self-destructive system. Maybe he knew all of that, and no longer cared, a victim to what was now his own spiral of demise.
Could Yatapi do anything about it? He had no clue, but it wouldn’t stop him from trying.
“Your blood has burned for long enough, Lottus.” Yatapi begins, stepping forward, speaking bluntly— not really one for emotional softness, preferring tougher truths. “Stand. Fight, and fight on. You’re a Saiyan aren’t you?!” The Tuffle speaks louder, attempting to rouse Lottus from his stupor. “If there is anything to say, say it. Talk to her, for as long as you need to, as long as you can, ask her everything you couldn’t have asked before. It might be your only shot.”
Yatapi looked over to Rapini, the condition her soul was in likely meant she was holding onto her living self by mere threads, and only Lottus would know for how long she was trying her best to keep it together. “She has waited long enough, hasn’t she?”
Lottus' head slightly turned as Yatapi speaks, but his eyes never leave Rapini's face. She looks over at Yatapi, looking a bit quizzical at them. She looked ill to Lottus' eyes. But to him, hers was still a beautiful face. When Lottus doesn't immediately speak, she does.
"Are you going to stare at me all day, or say something? Either way is fine with me." she says, putting on a strained, though amused expression. Lottus all but bursts off the ground, throwing his arms around her shoulders - practically enveloping her. "Easy big guy! Easy!"
Lottus' shoulders seem to relax, but he doesn't let her go.
"I miss you." he said, pressing his face against the top of her head.
"Yeah, I can tell..!" she replies, finally pushing Lottus off herself. Even so, his hands remained on her shoulders. "How'd that happen? How'd you end up kicking the can?"
Rapini looks over tiredly at Yatapi again.
"And who's the quarter pounder? You hanging out with Tuffle souls now?" Rapini inquires.
"...I died attacking Hatchi City." Lottus replies, answering only the first questions.
"Hatchi? You mean the war is still going?" she asks, frowning.
"No... the war is over. I attacked it alone." he replies - to which Rapini whaps the top of his head with a fist.
"The Hell'd ya do THAT for?!" she exclaims.
"...I was trying to destroy their Destron facilities..." Lottus says, somewhat sheepishly, rubbing the top of his head and frowning down at Rapini. "After what happened to you I-"
"Went and got all I am the night on them? C'mon Lottus; Hatchi survived decades of war! How could you attack it alone?!" Rapini grunts. Clearly, though diminished, there was still much of the fire in her as she had in life.
Yatapi had to admit that seeing Lottus as stunned as this was quite a surprise— it was totally unlike Lottus, but it did prove one thing to be true... All that the Saiyan had said about Rapini around Yatapi was as true as it could be, Lottus was enchanted by her for lack of a better word.
As a result of witnessing this, it really just fueled Yatapi’s direct and vitriolic distaste for Destron, as well as war. Hilariously, Yatapi’s thoughts of fury were lost to him when Rapini made a comment on his presence. In truth, Yatapi almost couldn’t help but laugh; so he gave off a little amused snort. He found humor in such a statement because his first thought was to envision a burger, only to realize it was a comment on his height and obviously being a Tuffle, made funnier by the fact that he was on the taller side of the Tuffle stature spectrum at at 4’7”. “Snrk... Okay, I see. I understand what you meant by her being a smart-mouth. That was a good one.”
Their discussion almost immediately went to Lottus’ death, a logical progression to this reunion in the afterlife. Yatapi raised a brow when Lottus said he attacked alone. That wasn’t accurate, at least not according to local reports— and if what Lottus said was true, he would have been felled far faster than he actually was. It made no sense. There was a lot more to it than the Saiyan was willing to tell, it seemed. “... You only mentioned those who opposed you so far. I find it hard to believe that you had no allies present at that time, Lottus.” Yatapi stated, folding his arms. “Unless of course you mean to imply that you were alone in wanting to eradicate Destron from existence, which— need I remind— is also inaccurate.” Yeesh, a stickler for particulars if there ever was one.
Clearing his throat, the scientist gave a polite nod to Rapini. “As you asked; though indirectly, I am Yatapi. Myself and Lottus came to an agreement; we have vehement loathing for Destron for our own reasons respectively, and devised a plan. It was a simultaneous ‘attack’ on Destron. Lottus went for the production source, and I created a counteractive formula that would cleanse it from the planet actively. Those who intended to protect such a vile thing would have to make a choice. I managed on my end. That old Metropolis is now free of that coward’s weapon. Next on the agenda would be the Crags, and then all creation sources of the Lychee sector. Now, how you may ask, do I intend to do any of that while dead? Well...” Since his ‘death disguise’ was quite sophisticated, Yatapi couldn’t blame Rapini for not noticing, so he glanced around before demonstrating that his halo was fake like he did to Lottus earlier. “The truth is, I’m not.”
When Yatapi grudgingly questioned Lottus, the Saiyan offers Yatapi an irritable expression.
"Allies... No, I had no allies in the battle in Hatchi. You aren't being included in the list of the rabble that came to do nothing more than kill the worthless civilians that ignored my offer to run." Lottus snaps. Rapini frowns at him as he speaks, "My allies became my enemies halfway through the battle. Fukushu made a bid to get his hands on Destron for his little weapon idea he wanted to use on some planet called Earth. When he went down, his little vagabonds split town. And Cato..."
Lottus' expression hardens, and he goes silent for a moment. Rapini's frown deepens, looking at Lottus knowingly. She places a hand on his arm, letting the large Saiyan work through his thoughts. She turned to listen to Yatapi.
"You get used to his crass, really." she says after Yatapi finishes, and glances at the fake halo. "That's... something. I didn't know the Living could actually come up here."
"The Living can't leave the dead alone." Lottus grunts, thinking back to the several occasions where living beings had come to trade words; King Taori among them. He turns to Yatapi, and gives the being a grudging leer. "...And sorry. I didn't intend to imply you weren't helping. I just might as well have been in Hatchi alone."
"Who's Cato?" Rapini asks.
Lottus looks at Rapini for a moment, regarding her.
"...She was a hard lesson." he says flatly. "I chose to trust her. And she proved that I should not have."
Lottus shakes his head and sits on the floor. Rapini looks back at Yatapi.
"So, you actually cleaned away Destron?" she inquires, looking a bit more tired. "Here I thought that stuff was supposed to be permanent."
Yatapi blinked a few times, realizing what Lottus was saying had some deeper meaning to it. Well, it certainly sounded like a complete and utter mess. Of course the end result was Hatchi not being a sad crater in the ground, which was beneficial, but Yatapi held some disdain for the people that Lottus mentioned— the one that chose to seek out Destron to use elsewhere as a weapon specifically. “A coward intending to use a coward’s weapon, I cannot say I’m surprised...” Yatapi sanrled irritably.
The second named individual that Lottus described, that was a bit more complicated and the Saiyan’s expression said it all, and Rapini knew how to read Lottus more than anyone it seemed. “It doesn’t bother me, there are worse mannerisms among people than that.” As far as Yatapi was concerned, being crass and impolite was less of an issue than being ignorant and manipulative for example. “Mm. It seems to be a rare enough occurrence if it surprises you. Honestly it took me a while to figure out the method.”
Lottus spoke up once more, going so far as to... Apologize? Now Yatapi had seen everything. He quickly looked over to Rapini and then back to Lottus, “Er... It wasn’t as though I knew exactly what happened on that front, it’s why I asked, and now I know. Don’t worry about it.”
It was pretty easy to tell that Lottus was cut up about Cato more than he let on, but Yatapi knew better than to pry into that. The only person that likely had a shot at doing it was Rapini, and from what Yatapi could guess it was a fifty-fifty chance of her even trying for one reason or another.
Either way, she chose to ask Yatapi about clearing away the Destron. “Yes. That I did.” Yatapi nodded, scoffing at the insinuation that Destron was permanent. “Oh, I bet that was what those contemptible dullard engineers liked to have thought. Unfortunately for them, my intellect and drive is objectively and undeniably superior. Their precious, prized bio-weapon stands no chance whatsoever.”
Lottus grunts in response to Yatapi, to which Rapini only frowns at Lottus.
"Well... at least you're talking these days, instead of curling up in silence like you used to." Rapini says. Her tired eyes then glance a ways away, and she sighs. "Guess it's that time then..."
Lottus blinks, and looks at Rapini as she turns back to him. She gives him a tired smile in return.
"...Time for what?" Lottus asks, his brows furrowing.
"To go, you block head." she replies, still smiling. When Lottus looks like he's intending to follow, she stops him with a shake of her head. "For me. Seeing you again big guy, well... I think that's enough for me. They treat us good around here, but it always felt like something was missing. Well, I have it now."
Lottus jaw clamps shut, and he sinks to his knees. The realization of her meaning actually bringing tears to the eyes of a being who had lived a life of destruction and killing.
"You can't... you can't leave me again..." he rasps, almost pleading. Rapini smiles, and holds Lottus' head in her hands, and presses her forehead to his.
"And you can't hold on to me forever, Lottus. We're both past that point." she replies softly. "We didn't get it this time around; but, maybe we will. The ogres say that souls get to be reborn after they're cleansed. So, let's go for round two. And when we live again, let's both be something more than just soldiers for someone else."
Lottus stands suddenly, and again buries his face in Rapini's hair; to which she laughs.
"It's a promise then, big guy." she says, pushing him away gently. Her form begins to become translucent as her smile widens. "I didn't get to say it last time, so, I'll take this opportunity now."
Lottus grinds his teeth, staring at Rapini as if she were the only thing to exist.
"I love you, Lottus. Let's meet again, so I can love you all over again." she says, and finally disappears like whisps in the wind.