Chapter 9: A Chill is in the Air

Trunks sat on the control console banging his feet on the side taking comfort in the metallic clang that was disturbing the two technicians trying to do their work.

"Would you stop that!" the saurian alien hissed.

Trunks smiled and stopped for a moment waiting for the man to sigh in relief before he began again.

"Horns I leave the rest of this job to you" he cried in exasperation "my ears canít take anymore!"

Trunks laughed as the man darted out of the room and he turned his attention to the alien that the other had identified as "Horns".

"So your name is Horns?" he asked tiring of his previous game.

"Yep" the man replied with a backward glance at the child.

"Iím Trunks," the boy said jumping down from his perch and walking over to the man ignoring 16ís warning gaze. Trunks observed the manís use of the piece of equiment in his hand and immediately began puzzling over it. "Does that device read the contents inside of the containers and can it tell what theyíre made of?" the boy asked.

"Uh" the man said looking at his equipment "yeah."

"How?" Trunks asked excitedly. "Does it read its actual atomic composition?"

"I have no idea kid," Horn said staring curiously at the boy. "I just use them."

"Oh" Trunks said deflated.

"You kids are sure advanced now-a-says" Horns replied. "Youíre the second in just two days to floor me. First a planetary representative and now a mercenary."

"Really?" Trunks asked a little disinterested.

"Yeah," he answered. "This kid from the Machine Planet" the man chattered "only he was scary. Didnít act like a kid at all, at least you do."

"What did this child look like?" 16 suddenly spoke up.

"About a foot taller than him" he said gesturing towards Trunks. "Blonde-hair, green eyes."

"We are looking for him" 16 said. "Do you know where he is going?"

Horns turned around and looked at the giant in surprise. "Listen friend" he cautioned "I wouldnít go looking for that guy. People who ask questions about the Guild donít live very long."

"Please" Trunks said "You have to tell us. He has my mother." Trunks immediately glared back at the disapproving android. "He said not to say who my father is, not my mother" he qualified.

"Does she have blue-green sort of hair?" he asked.

"Yes!" Trunks said excitedly.

"Then I saw her," he confessed "but donít tell a soul I did."

"Is she okay?" Trunks asked.

"Well she looked fine," he said absently rubbing one of his horns "I couldnít tell much through the statis capsule top."

"If there is anything else you can tell us we would appreciate it" 16 said.

"Uh, sure" he said "as long as you donít tell anybody I talked to you."

"We promise" Trunks said quickly.

"Okay" Horns said "but its not much."

***

Bulma climbed down the latter on the side of the strange cylindrical ship. As she carefully made her way down as her subconscious stirred. There was something so familiar about the windowless, metallic structure but why that seemed to be the case she wasnít sure why. Pausing at the bottom of the latter she struggled to find the memory explaining her feeling.

"Bulma" Wrenchís voice sounded piercing through her concentration.

Bulma turned towards him and gasped at the size of the spaceport she was in. On their way in she had seen it but somehow, only now, did itís immense size impress upon her how truly powerful her captors must be. Looking up through the barrier she gasped, seeing the unforgiving gassous atmosphere of the dead planet circling above them only held at bay by the forfield surrounding the port.

"Impressive isnít it?" Wrench asked her with a smile. "There is much more to see that will further astonish you. Come."

Bulma followed him closely as he led her towards the entrance to the large compound ahead taking in the bustle of the literally thousands of robots tending to the numerous cylindrical craft. One activity especially caught her eye, a group of robots seemed to be loading a craft with large egg-shaped machines.

"Really now Bulma" Wrench chided "you must keep up."

"Sorry" Bulma snapped sarcastically at the blonde child looking at him.

"We msnít keep the doctor waiting" Wrench said. "He so looking forward to meeting you."

"Iím sure he is" Bulma grumbled purposely hanging a little ways back from the boy as they entered the structure.

"Since you are so interested in the place Iíll start you tour a little early" Wrench stated. "As you can see we are in a large compound, one of 500 on this planet. The compounds are connected by forcefield causeways, like the barrier around the spaceport. Each compound is built entirely of a synthetically produced metal that is super strong to ensure it is safe from the elements outside."

"These compounds are the only habitable places on the planet" Wrench continued. "The planet itself has absolutely no breathable atmosphere and reaches extremes of both hot and cold making escape absolutely impossible. The only way on or off the planet is by ship all of which are controlled by the master computer so you see its useless to attempt it."

"Maybe it isnít that impossible" Bulma stated. "Keeping people against their will makes people willing to take the risk."

"Actually we have a very low ratio of escape attempts because of the consequences of a botched escape attempt" Wrench replied.

"What is it, death?" Bulma asked snottily.

"Itís far worse than death" Wrench said darkly "a surrendering of your very being."

"What do you mean?" she asked warily.

Wrench suddenly stopped. "I think itís better seeing it for yourself. Letís make a quick stop."

"I thought you said the Doctor didnít like to be kept waiting" Bulma ventured nervously.

"I donít heíll mind in this one instance" the boy replied with a smirk. "Follow me" he replied heading down another corridor. He relished the look on the womanís face. It ws so much fun dashing dreams of rescue and escape. "Remember I told you that we collected brillant minds from all over the galaxy and that they worked for us willingly or by force?"

"Yes" she answered.

"Every one who comes here is first given an opportunity to work of their own free will" the boy continued. "If they repeatedly refuse or attempt to escape, they are immediately made to do so." Stopping outside of a room he waited for the door to slide open. "Ladies first" he quipped.

Realizing she had little choice, Bulma entered into the room. It was a large lab with about 50 or so beings who stopped and looked at her. Some looked weary or confused but there were others with lifeless dead eyes that sent a chill up her spine. Her eyes locked with one and once again she was struck with a feeling of deja-vu, as if she had gazed into a pair lifeless eyes just like these before. After a moment the being returned to its work and slowly as it turned around she noticed it. A small metallic module at the base of itís skull. All at once the memories that had been trying to piece themselves together since she had arrived came flooding back.

"This is where that probe came from" she gasped turning towards him.

"Bravo Bulma" Wrench said with a chuckle. "I wondered how long it would take you to figure it out."

"Then all the these people that have the modules are mindless zombies" she stated.

"Mindess is not the right word" he stated claping his hands behind his back. "The module simply contects the computer brain within itself to the nervous system of the host. Depending on the depth of control the module is programmed to have depends on how much free thought the host is allowed."

"On the most stringent end are the modules like the kind we send with the probes. Their sould purpose is to ensure that we get our information even if the ship and machines fail. The host becomes a living extension of its mission. The proe can tap into the memories and use them to blend in with the locals to avoid detection or use of talents that are useful to it. Such ones have no free thought what-so-ever."

"Like Vegeta" she whispered.

"Yes" he laughed. "Moving on to these scientists now. The whole reason for bringing them here is to be creative and they need a measure of free will to do so. They have a lot of their faculties available, they are aware of everything around them and are allowed to think only while they are working. The module directs all their physical actions at all times but allows the mind the freedom to create."

"You mean they know they re being controlled and thereís nothing they can do about it?" Bulma asked in horror.

"Yes" he said. "They are prisoners in their own bodies. Tell what do you think is worse, death or life like this? Every day you can remember what youíve lost, you watch as your hands build things you never wanted to build because the probe found the idea locked up in your mind and forcibly removed it from your unwilling mind. How would you like a life like that?"

"Iíve never heard of anything so terrible" she shuddered.

Wrenc looked at Bulmaís pale face and pained eyes as she watched the scientists and he allowed a few moments for the thought and reality of her situation sink in before continuing.

"Now as I was saying there are different measures of control. At the farthest end of the spectrum is me" Wrench watched as Bulmaís face turned puzzled and she turned towards him question.

Gingerly lifting up the hair from his neck he displayed the module sitting at the base of his skull. "My module controls nothing of my mind, in fact it is due to it that I can truly be myself."

"What do you mean by that?" Bulma asked.

"That would better be explained a little later on" he stated. "I think weíve kept the doctor waiting long enough. Letís go."

***

17 nearly ran into Vegeta when he stopped abruptly outside of a door.

"I take it this is the place that we need to be" 17 observed. "The question is what are we doing here?"

"This is the bar where all of the scum that pass through this station eventually stop" Vegeta said irritably to the android. "We are here because if any of these reprobates have seen or heard anything they will sell us the information."

"I get it" 17 said with a smile. "I saw something like this in an old western movie."

"Whatever" Vegeta replied tersely "Just let me do all of the talking."

The android and saiyajin entered the noisy room filled with drunken reputable and irreputable aliens of ever shape and color. Standing in the doorway and observing the crowd for a moment Vegeta felt uncomfortable. He had never thought it a fitting place for a prince so he had avoided it and only set foot inside when his assignments had required it. Now it was a different kind of apprehension. He wondered if any of these people would recognize him. If word got around that he was trasversing the galaxy in search of a woman it could mean trouble.

"If Iím not mistaken youíre nervous" 17 chided "I never thought that you were the type to be intimidated by a few hundred drunken aliens."

Vegeta Ďhumphed" and glared at him. "I am not intimidated" he growled "I was just trying to think of a suitable way to get everyoneís attention."

"Is that all?" 17 chuckled. With that he shot a large Ki blast into the ceiling. Tearing through the roof above it sent broken shards of metal onto the hapless customers who began scrambling to get out of the way.

"Yaro!" Vegeta rebuked him. "Why did you do that?"

"I saw it in that western movie" 17 replied.

"Baka!" Vegeta hissed irately "Now the whole damn security team will be after us!"

"It got their attention didnít it?" 17 asked with a careless shrug.

Vegeta turned and looked to see the entire bar staring at he and the android. After mumbling a couple of choice words the prince cleared his throat. He flipped the switch on the genorater and Bulmaís picture flickered on.

"I am looking for this woman" he announced. "She should have come through this station a few days ago with this boy." As he spoke he changed the image. "If any of you can give me any information on either of these people I will be at the table in the far corner for the remainder of this evening. Anyone who comes forward will be well compensated for their trouble."

Letting his haughty gaze sweep across the room while he displayed the two images for the last time the Prince couldnít help but notice a few familiar faces and concerned whispers being exchanged amoungst them. He had to be very careful that he didnít confirm any of their suspicions and if he could raise the smallest doubt in their minds it would be enough. "Andriod" he addressed 17 "now we sit at that empty table."

"Sure Saiyajin" he spit out in response.

Vegeta Ďhumphedí and they took their seats.

"So this is one of your old haunts" 17 said careful to avoid Vegetaís eyes as he surveyed the room. "I can picture it now. I can see you falling down drunk sharing your shocking tales of planet purging before falling flat on your face. It must feel good to be reunited with your old drinking buddies."

"None of these weaklings are my Ďfriends"" Vegeta snapped at him "and I never made such a deplorable spectacle of myself. I only ever used these people as a means to an end as we are doing now."

A buxom blue-skinned alien woman clad in a very revealing outfit walked up and "What would you gentlemen like to drink?"

"Iíd like something tall, blue and full-bodied" 17 said smoothly running his eyes over her figure.

She turned with a flirtacous smile and appraised him and looked quite pleased with the darkhaired stranger.

"Both of us will have Salnian Tea" Vegeta growled warningly "and I doubt you want to have anything to do with this sophisticated can-opener so I have a little task for you. Give the owner this," he said setting a solid gold piece on her tray. "Tell the owner I will pay for the damages and anything else if he keeps the station enforcers out of this."

The woman frowned at the Saiyajin and walked away.

"Now that I have taken care of your indescretion I hope you will refrain from any more foolishness. We are not here for you to pick up a whore and we cannot afford to dull our senses with alcohol so I will repeat myself from earlier when I said "let me do all of the talking"" the warrior snapped.

"You need to loosen up" 17 said angrily. "A little fun never hurt anybody. Besides alcohol has absolutely no effect on me because Iím not completely organic. So you see Vegeta while you may not be able to hold alcohol that doesnít mean I share your weak constitution."

"Both you and I know I could destroy you without even lifting a finger" Vegeta snapped back. "I am far more powerful than you could ever hope to be and a far better warrior than you could ever hope to be."

"Is that so?" 17 questioned. "The way remember it you couldnít even handle Android 18 and Iím 10 times as strong as she is."

"Is that anyway for two business associates to behave?" a rich female voice asked tinged with amusement.

When Vegeta quickly turned his attention towards the voice the appearance of its owner made him freeze in shock. His years of discipline in emotional control helped him to snap out of it immediately and he locked eyes with her confirming his earlier suspicions. Unfortunately he could tell by her expression she had noticed his initial reaction which was not a comforting thought.

"Bulma?" 17 asked in confusion.

"She is not Bulma" Vegeta stated pointedly to 17. "What do you want Shadow Sister?" Vegeta hissed.

"Why to help you, of course" she said smoothly pulling a chair up to the table next to 17. "Who is your handsome friend Prince Vegeta?" she said glancing sideways at the unsettled android.

"Iím Android 17," he answered. "Who or rather what are you?" he asked curiously.

"Since she will not tell you I will" Vegeta interrupted sharply. "She is a shapeshifter, a tsirijin and a trained assassin. They are undetectable except for one feature they canít change in their transformation, their violet eyes." The prince next turned his hard onyx eyes upon the woman. "The question is who is your master?"

"I think its safe to say that neither of us want to reveal too much about our identies in the open so I suggest you come back with me to my quarters where we can discuss this further."

"Iím not a fool" Vegeta said with a smirk. "We will speak here and now so that you have no possible way to set a trap for me."

"Very well," she said shrugging her shoulders. "My master is an old enemy of yours, Frigid."

"He is still alive" Vegeta laughed "I thought he would have been murdered by now in favor of a new clan leader."

"Alas" she continued "he has managed to stay on top by virtue of the strength of his army. With the sudden loss of both King Cold and Lord Freeza the Cold Clan experienced troubles and he was able to get a foothold."

"The once mighty Cold Clan hasnít swashed the loon yet?" he jabbed.

"The Clan has been unable to with the civil within Tsirisei and the Clan itself" she said.

"This is all very interesting" 17 cut in "but what does this Frigid have to do with our objective."

"He may be willing to assist you in exchange for a service" she replied. "He knows the location of the Machine Planet."

"My interest depends on what this service is," Vegeta informed her.

"I canít be sure what heíd ask from you" she replied "I must speak with him first."

"Then speak with him," Vegeta declared with a dismissing wave of his hand.

"I will meet you here tomorrow at 16 Space Standard" she responded. "Itís been good to see you again Prince Vegeta. Youíve matured into an impressive man."

"Then we have met before" he said.

"Yes, I am Snow" she crooned.

"So you know her?" 17 asked mischeiviously. "Is she an old girlfriend?"

"I would never have touched a whoring lizard such as herself" he hissed.

"Not even if you had a little too much with your drinking buddies?" 17 pressed.

"Damn you!" shouted at him. "This is not a game! We are not here to joke and socialize with the enemy!"

"I was only joking" 17 said coolly "You shouldnít take things so seriously."

"And you shouldnít be so flippant about this mission" Vegeta growled. "You may not care if we get her back in one piece but at least think of her family."

"Fine" 17 answered standing up. "Iím doing this for her and her son and no one else. Iím not taking orders from you Vegeta." With that he exited quickly.

"Iíve never seen you get so passionate about something before" the tsirijin in disguise remarked. "This woman must mean a lot to you."

"This is a job and nothing more" the prince said careful to make his words emotionless tossing another gold piece onto the table.

"Iím not a fool" she replied softly. "I saw the emotion flicker across your face. She is your lover, perhaps maybe even your mate, isnít she?"

"Beleive what you want" Vegeta said rising and exiting with out a word.

Snow watched his retreating form thoughtfully drinking the untouched drinks abandoned by the two contenious men satisfied that the unexpected arrival of the Saiyajin Prince would finally give her the opportunity to at last ensure victory for her true king.

* * * * *

Well I guess I lied. You donít find out everything about Wrench in this chapter, you really only get a little bit. His entire background run-in with Vegeta and Frigid is actually the story involved in Part 2 of the Vegeta Trilogy. Yes you will see more of Wrench. I hope you donít mind.

You have finally met the good doctor in person! LOL! I admit heís kind of your typical meglomaniac mad scientist but what else would you expect? Heís really very minor to the plot though so he isnít as fleshed out as the others.

I hope you are enjoying the characters Iíve created as much as I am! Iíve tried really hard to give you three-dimensional characters.

Next time:

You finally meet the mysterious Frigid and learn of his request of Vegeta and a shocking revelation as to how he gained his power through "military prowess" as Snow revealed. Wrench reveals how both he and the doctor can be so old and yet young looking!

Sigh, unfortunately this story is progressing to a point it will provide a few spoilers to the Vegeta Trilogy. Iím not pointing them out for you but Iím keeping them understated so hopefully you wonít notice. LOL! Only when in Part 2 of the Trilogy will every connection between Vegetaís past and Wrench and Frigid be revealed. I know Iím evil but if it keeps you reading my stories Iím happy.


Table of Contents
Chapter 8
Chapter 10