Disclaimer: Do not own Dragonball Z or the characters contained within

Warning: As always, this fic contains sex, violence, language and adult themes, if you are too young or are troubled by such situations, please do not read.

CHAPTER TEN

"Eriadne!" Trunks calm voice belied his excitement at seeing her. He had gone a whole year with little more than the memory of her voice and a vague imprint of her face on his mind. She looked even lovelier than the images he had conjured up in his own mind. Absently, he brushed a strand of lavender hair out of his face, and watched her as she stood rooted to the ground, her own blue eyes sweeping over him, warming him with their leisurely perusal of his half exposed body. He flushed red at the realization that his clothes were tattered and torn around him, leaving little to the imagination, all the while wondering if she liked what she saw.

What was he thinking? He couldn't get involved with her, not now. He had no right to. As much as he might be attracted to her, the bare facts were that he was leaving this time once his Mother built a new time machine. He had to, there were no two ways around that. His Mother, in his own time, was counting on him and so was his world. Still, even as he debated the subject with himself, he felt himself take the few strides it would take to reach her. It was as if he were being pulled against his will and so he saw no need to fight it. What was the point? He acknowledged the low growl that emanated from his father and still he walked on, stopping before her; sweeping blazing blue eyes over her disheveled appearance. It looked as if she had been in a fight. He raised his brows. What on Chikyuu had happened?

"What happened to you?" Trunks reached out a hand, sweeping a smudge of dirt off her cheek, eyes narrowing in concern. He smiled as she leaned into his palm almost unconsciously. She trusted him and that knowledge brought him great joy though he could hardly fathom why.

Eriadne shuddered at his touch, rubbing against the smoothness of his hand before her eyes caught sight of the forbidding countenance of his father striding towards them, something dangerous igniting in the coal black eyes as he approached. He was looking for his wife, she realized, and figuring out quickly that something was wrong. Eriadne shut her eyes to the frightening look on his face, gathering her thoughts, before flicking them back open and steeling herself for the inevitable. Bulma and Goku, she had to tell Trunks and Vegeta what had happened to them, no matter the cost... she owed them all the truth now, or at least as much of it as she could possibly force out of herself. Straightening, she opened her mouth, prepared to start, but Vegeta's cold voice cut her off.

"Where is my woman?" His tone was arrogant and haughty; demanding her to answer.

His black eyes burned through her, alight with a fire she had never been witness to before in her life and it scared her... he scared her. Eriadne suppressed the desire to run for her life.

"You have her plane," Vegeta nodded towards Bulma's small plane, something twisting tightly within him at the look of sheer fright on the girl's face. Something had happened, he couldn't reach Bulma through their bond at all and the girl stood before him looking like a frightened rabbit. "And you were with her, so tell me where she is?" Vegeta ignored the tightening ball of fear that had lodged firmly in his stomach and searched for her ki again. The ball began to unfurl into full out panic as he came up empty. Angrily he pushed it away. He was Vegeta, Prince of all Saiya-jin; he had no time for fear.

"That's why I'm here." Eriadne choked back a sob as Trunks withdrew his hand, eyes narrowing in concern and fear at her words. "They need your help, I didn't know what to do, and I wasn't strong enough to fight them, so I came here... I used Bulma's plane and I came here thinking you would be able to get to them in time." Maybe they wouldn't ask; maybe she could get through this without admitting her stupidity and turning Trunks against her completely

Vegeta took a threatening step towards her, mouth dry at her words. "What has happened to Bulma?"

"Gero," Eriadne sobbed," Doctor Gero has her and Goku."

Vegeta felt his world tilt on its axis at her words, fury flowing through him, fast and hot at her words. There was more to this than she was letting on. Since he had first laid eyes on her, there had been something odd, something that had tripped all his Saiya-jin instincts but he had ignored them and turned a blind eye to her; had even gone so far as to allow his woman to take her in while he was away, concentrating instead on furthering his own power. "What do you mean, Gero has them?" He snarled, clenching a fist tightly against his side to stem the furious shaking.

"Dad," Trunks cautioned. "Calm down, let's here the story and then we can go and find them. We're both much stronger now."

"Don't tell me what to do, brat." Vegeta raged, taking a threatening step towards the girl, fist clenched in front of his face. "You had best tell me everything now."

Eriadne paled and took an involuntary step back. As handsome and intense as the man was, he was absolutely frightening and the way he was standing there, powerful chest bare, anger flowing from him in thick, black waves... it was apparent that he was not a man too be trifled with.

"Father!" Trunks spoke sharply, stepping in between them. "I understand you're upset. I am too, but scaring the hell out of Eriadne isn't going to help anything or get Mom back. " Trunks turned back to her, smiling gently. "What happened Eriadne and when? How long has he had them?"

"About twenty minutes... there was this rally and... and he recognized them..." She broke off, choking back a sob at what she was going to have to tell Trunks. He would hate her and his father; well he would probably kill her. The way he was looking at her now, Eriadne could almost swear he knew.

"Rally? Why would my Mom and Goku go to a rally? They knew it wouldn't be safe." Trunks eyes narrowed at her, suspicion lighting within them, body stiffening in response to her words.

"Gero had a rally." Maybe she could still get out of this without admitting her part in it; maybe she could escape here without having to take responsibility for her part. "It was televised and Goku and Bulma saw it, along with their friend whom Gero has--I think they called him Krillin. Goku thought maybe his wife and son would be there and Bulma wouldn't let him go alone, so they disguised themselves and went."

"Gero has Chi-Chi and Gohan?" Trunks leaned back in shock, eyes widening with horror. "On, no and now he has them all." His fists clenched at his sides as anger began to flow through him anew. "The bastard!"

"If they were disguised," Vegetaís deep voice cut through the air, smooth and calm despite the pounding of his heart, "then how did Gero recognize them? My mate might be many things, but she is not stupid, nor is she without resources. She knew what the price would be if Gero caught her again and I doubt even she would have been fool enough to hand herself over." Dammit, he knew she was smarter than that... if she and Kakkarot had gone, they would have been exceptionally careful, knowing that neither he or Trunks would be able to get to them in time if anything went wrong.

Eriadne flinched away, realizing that he had hit the nail right on the head, and would not be kept from the truth. Finding a spot on the floor, she stared at it, unable to meet his hard, assessing gaze. "I-I'm not sure."

"I think you are." Vegeta snarled, stepping forward and batting Trunks away with a sweep of his hand. "How long have you worked for him?" His hand closed around her throat holding her firmly in place.

"Father," Trunks stood, snarling, "let go of her now. She doesn't work for Gero." He took a step towards his father, but halted as his father lifted the palm of his hand, aiming it straight at him.

"You will stay back and let me deal with this brat or I will blast you into the next dimension, son or not. Do you understand me? I will know what has happened to my mate." Vegeta was too furious, too far sunk into his Saiya-jin nature to focus on anything but the single thought that what was his had been stolen and more than likely through underhanded means. He would find out what had happened and then he would track his woman down and put an end to Gero and his miserable life once and for all. "Speak." He leveled her with a black gaze devoid of any emotion save one--rage.

"Father, what in the hell are you talking about? Eriadne was a captive of Gero's as well, she isn't working with him." Trunks shook off the chill that his father's words had sent down his spine, though he knew without a doubt that his father meant every threat he had uttered. When it came to the safety of his mate, Vegeta was uncompromising.

"No Trunks, your father's right." Eriadne rasped, placing a cool, shaking hand atop of Vegeta's, forcing herself to stare into the raging black cauldron that were his eyes without breaking contact. "Please let me go. I will tell you whatever you need to know."

Vegeta stood silently contemplating for a moment, nearly giving into the desire to simply squeeze the life from her worthless body. In the end he released her and crossed his arms across his chest, simply waiting for her to speak. There was a chance that she could provide him with some type of useful information. Until she did that, she was better kept alive, though he would see her dead the moment her usefulness wore out. "Make it fast and leave nothing out."

Eriadne glanced up briefly at Trunks regretfully, sorrowfully, grimacing at the look of shock and disbelief that masked his face. Kami, why had she been so stupid, why had she thought that Gero would keep his end of the bargain? Had she really been that naive? She glanced down, clearing her throat before speaking.

My brother, Nestor and my sister Medea, you know them as Juuhachigou and Juunanagou... they were taken by Gero several years ago, stolen away from my parents when they were still young. "

"What," Trunks exhaled, not believing what he had just heard. "They are your brother and sister?" He searched her face, looking for some sign of what she was saying, some spark of likeness that would validate what she had just told them and to his immense dismay, he saw it, the slightest hint of similarity in her eyes, slanted and blue like her sister; the mouth that quirked in the same exact way, yet without the spark of careless cruelty that twisted Juuhachi's features. Where there was lifelessness and bored neutrality in Juuhachi, there was life and vivid emotion in Eriadne. He felt as if she had stabbed him in the gut with the knowledge. It all made sense now, all the comments and questions about how to save them, the arguments that their choices had been stolen from them and they deserved a chance at life... Trunks staggered back, hit by the realization of all that he should have seen, yet somehow had failed to. He stared, shocked and disbelieving into her blue eyes, blanching as he saw Juuhachi's eyes staring down at him, devoid of any emotion save one, immense pleasure at the pain she had caused him.

"Your family," Vegeta sneered, turning away from her in disgust. "You traded my mate in to save your own pathetic family..." He broke off in rage, clenching his teeth in fury at what had gone on while he had been away. It had only been one day here, yet for him it had been a year, it felt as if Gero had held her for a year and he had been oblivious to any trouble.

"I was stupid, I know..." Eriadne cried out, despair running through her at the pained look of betrayal that Trunks shot at her. She took a step towards him, reaching out a shaking hand to touch him, but he jerked away and her hand fell limply to her side. Taking a deep shuddering breath to collect herself, she spoke, calmly. "I don't know the specifics of how Gero managed to get them, but when they came to the village that I lived in, they took me. I had my suspicions, though the only pictures I had ever seen of them showed them much younger, still there was some resemblance, especially Medea, she looked so much like my mother," Eriadne shook her head, " anyway my parents had always blamed Gero, but I was too young to understand why or how they even knew him and now I can't recall the things that they said..." She looked down, bitterness flowing through her as she spat out the words. "Anyway, Gero was planning on altering me, I didn't lie about that, but when he came to me, to test out his newest acquisition, I confronted him, asked him where he had come across his artificial humans, he told me he had found them lost on the side of the road... they had apparently been playing in a field and gotten lost. He had taken them, and..." Her mouth twisted sharply as she spoke the words. "molded them into perfection. They were half-human and half machine, with the capacity to grow and develop as humans, but devoid of any emotion or caring that humans are saddled with." Eriadne snorted in derision. "Gero actually told me that... that they were perfect creatures now. He asked my name and I told him. It seemed to spark something, some memory... for he looked at me, just looked at me with those cold black eyes for the longest moment before he turned to go. I stopped him, I had to know," Eriadne looked up, meeting Trunks eyes, gratified at the look of horror for what she was telling him. "I asked him then, if they had names, the two artificial humans and if they had been Nestor and Medea."

"I assume they were?" Trunks breathed coolly, sickened by what she had just described.

"Yes, and he knew, without my telling him, somehow he knew what they were to me. He used it against me, it was shortly before you and your mother turned up captured... he used me for whatever dirty work he wanted done, threatening to turn off my siblings of I failed to do what he asked and permanently alter them." She broke off, clearing her throat. "Don't you see, I had to... they had their lives stolen from them and if there was anyway to get it back, I had to try... it was what my parents would have wanted."

"How does my mate come into this?" Vegeta snarled. "How pathetic were you to think that Gero would keep whatever word he gave you, let alone that those two tin cans could be redeemed?" He sneered the last word in derision, heart pounding loudly as he did another ki search and came up empty. He would kill this girl for her stupidity and what it had cost him.

"At first Gero set me up to weaken Trunks so that he might have an easier time breaking him. " The corner of her mouth lifted in a small smile. "You gave him a much harder time than he expected, he was amazed at the strength of your mind."

"It was my mother." Trunks remarked dully, brain trying to assimilate all that he had heard. "She told me to remember who I was. It took me awhile to understand but when I did I used it to fight, to stay above all the things he showed and invoked within me." He glanced up, blue eyes clouded with pain. "So you were sent to get close to me, then betray me. Gero figured this would be the straw that broke my back, huh?" He snorted in an attempt to lighten the blow that her words had dealt him. "And here I thought you actually liked me Eriadne."

"Oh Trunks," Eriadne reached to him again, heartened when he remained still and allowed her the touch. Combing through the silky, long locks of his hair, she marveled, momentarily at the length of it and how different he seemed, before returning to the topic at hand. How could she make him understand that she had hated everything she had been forced to do? "I hated what I had to do, you and your mother and Goku were all so kind and you had obviously been through so much." She choked on the lump that had risen in her throat, painfully forcing it back so she could continue on. "I did like you and I had no desire to hurt you or do what Gero was forcing me to do, but I had this memory of may parents and all they had suffered since he had taken my brother and sister... it killed them in the end, and there was nothing that could have eased their pain, not even me... the only thing they wanted was to have their children back. I had to try. My parents might be dead, but I had to try to give them this one thing, to give them some measure of peace." She sighed and dropped her hand, turning her back to both Saiya-jin. "That brutish man that came and attacked you, the one that took you and Goku, that changed everything. Taking Goku had not been part of the deal and Gero was furious. His army was not completely ready yet and he hadn't the time to go right after you to get him back, so he made it easy for Trunks to escape, knowing full well that you wouldn't leave without your mother... so he let you both go, knowing that you would go and get them back. He sent me as a spy, to keep him appraised of where you were at so that I might lead him straight to your mother and Goku when you got back on Chikyuu."

"Which is what you did, though I'm guessing that he must have betrayed you for you to be here." Vegeta spoke coldly, reading the truth in her eyes. "So the betrayer has been betrayed, how fitting. "

"Yes," She nodded bleakly, " I was foolish to think that he could be trusted. He deactivated them both and I have no way of knowing what he plans to do to them or to Goku and Bulma. I couldn't help them my selves, so I came here, hoping that if I told you everything that perhaps you would be able to do something." Nervously she ran a hand through her black hair. "I'm sorry for what I've caused... I..."

"Save it for someone who gives a fuck," Vegeta sneered, cutting her off. "You will die by my hand if any harm comes to her." He turned to look at his son, grimacing at the look of indecision on the boy's face. "And you--you were a sentimental fool, just like your mother and that fool Kakkarot, to trust her. You are as much to blame as she is for what's happened."

Trunks opened his mouth to defend himself, shutting it quickly. His father was right, he had been stupid. She had given him plenty of reasons to be suspicious and he had simply ignored everything, preferring to wallow in his self-pity and shock at what had happened to him. He had allowed himself to be completely unfocused and now because of his carelessness, his mother was in very real danger, not to mention Goku.

"What are we going to do?" Trunks asked hoarsely, glancing up at his father? "I'm assuming that Gero has everyone but us, if they are using Krillin to get Goku's attention. Gero had to know that would catch his eye, not to mention Mom's. They were childhood friends."

"Yes, " Eriadne spoke softly. "I told him that I would have trouble getting them to the rally, and he told me to make sure that they watched the television. I assume that he planned on using him even then to get their attention."

"You bitch." Vegeta ground out. "You've certainly fixed things perfectly. Rest assured that I will take great pleasure in killing you and your worthless siblings." He sneered in rage, taking joy at the look of fright that transfixed her features. He lifted his palm, forming a yellow ki ball; toying with the idea of killing her now. He had already wasted too much time dragging the details out of her. Best to wait, until he had his mate secured before taking the time to kill anyone. Still, it would only take a few seconds to end her miserable life. The temptation was nearly overwhelming.

Eriadne swallowed at the glowing, yellow ki ball that pulsated to life in the palm of his hand. Good Kami, she had tried to prepare herself for her death, had known somehow that this man was very capable of striking her down, still to face it this way... she shut her eyes, breathing heavily as she attempted to block out the fear and face her death with some small hint of bravery. A deep, shuddering sob wracked her body as she collapsed heavily on to the ground.

"Father!" Trunks stepped in front of her. "There is no honor in this. Leave her alone; let's concentrate on finding Mother."

"Stand aside boy and be a man." Vegeta sneered, never dropping his hand. "I have had it with your sniveling."

"I will not move, father. Do you think this is what Mom would want, you killing people?" Trunks took a deep breath, not wanting to have this confrontation, yet no matter how betrayed or angry he might feel, he could not let his father kill Eriadne... not like this. She had been as much a victim of Gero as anyone else, no matter how mad he might be at her for not being truthful; he couldn't let his father strike her down. As angry as his father was, he just hoped he could persuade him to listen to reason. "I'm the one that trusted her, blame me... but don't kill anyone who doesn't deserve it."

"Damn you brat." Vegeta scowled in rage at the boy who stood before him, staring at him with his mother's eyes. He growled in irritation. He didn't have the time for this. His woman was out there, in the hands of a madman. He could kill this bitch later on, when there was no one around to interfere.

"Father, please..." Trunks beseeched, shuddering at the stark look of hatred that his father shot at him. He had come so far in the chamber, had been able to have a breakthrough with his father and now he was going to lose it. "I'm sorry father." He whispered, glancing away from the black eyes that pierced into him. "I'm sorry."

"You fool, it is because of you that she had this chance to betray your mother. " Vegeta felt his fist tighten as he took a step towards his son, anger that the boy would stand up for the treacherous little bitch raging through his blood. "Your instincts were screaming at you and you chose to ignore them. What were you hoping for--a fuck? Didn't you already get that with her sister?" Vegeta sneered, unable to contain his pain and rage. His woman was gone from him because of this stupid girl and his stupid brat had been idiotic enough to lead her straight to everything that Gero wanted. Bulma was supposed to be here waiting for him in safety... he had not seen her for an entire year and his entire being was screaming for her and she was in danger. That she wasn't with him because of this stupid girl and her treachery was more then he could take. And she had managed to get Kakkarot captured as well, a situation that was rife with disaster if Gero managed to do all the things he had so vividly described to the Saiya-jin.

Trunks paled at the venom in his father's voice, recoiling in despair and flinching at the vicious words. They had accomplished so much in the Room of Spirit and Time. His father had finally learned to respect him and now... now he was cold and ruthless and worse than before they had gone in. "Father, I-I'm sorry, I never thought..."

"Don't you blame Trunks for any of this." Eriadne screamed at Vegeta, shocked at his brutal words; furious enough to get in his face. How could any woman willing give herself to a man who acted like this one did? "He was decent and kind and everything that you..." Her words were cut off as his hand rose, descending downwards towards her face with fatal force. She flinched away, squeezing her eyes shut and preparing for the blow. It never came. Eriadne gasped as a wave of power hit her, sending her backwards several feet. She collapsed into a ball, the angry words that she had meant to say dying in her throat as the shock from whatever he had done radiated through her entire body.

"Shut your fucking mouth girl and get out of my face. I have never lowered myself to striking a woman before this day, and I will not start now, but you are no better then the dirt under my boot. When I have found my mate and assured myself of her safety I will kill you. There will be no place you can hide." With a last glower at his son, he rocketed into the air, searching for any hint or clue as to where his woman was.

************

Krillin stared at the two black cases that took up the whole of the room. The contained Juuhachigou and Juunanagou; who were in there now, deactivated--vulnerable to all and anything that chose to bother them. Well, he guessed, they were reaping what they had sown. They had brought nothing but death and terror to the world and now it was their turn to receive the treatment, to be made to understand the weight of their crimes.

Still, the ease with which Doctor Gero had turned them off frightened him. Was this to be his punishment should he fail Gero or anger him in anyway. He wished he could recall his past, where he had been, what he had come form. The only thing he could really remember was Goku and that they had been friends and that according to Gero the friendship had been betrayed and he had been sacrificed by his so called friend. So why then, did he feel such a sense of wrongness? There was this nagging sense that what Gero had told him, what he had said was not true, that Goku was not capable of such treachery.

Sighing, Krillin stood and moved to stare down at the case. Look at how easily Gero had betrayed them. They had never seen it coming and Gero had turned them off, just like that. Was this the reward for serving Doctor Gero? Granted, he could shed no tears for them, but still something in the female's face had tugged at him, something sorrowful and defiant all at the same moment and reflected deep within the blue of her eyes before they had been shut in silent slumber.

Reaching down, Krillin traced the cool black metal of the oval pod that encased her. What would it be like to reactivate her? She had seemed so vulnerable, as he watched her fight for her life in the sky above the amphitheater and he had felt himself touched deeply by some emotion that was at once both inexplicable and confusing. Almost by accident his fingers found the round button that would open the case and he caressed it. Hesitating for the briefest of moments, he pushed it, watching as the case hissed and steamed, finally jerking open to reveal the silent, slumbering figure of Juuhachigou.

She lay, eyes closed in relative peacefulness. Her blonde hair was spread neatly across hard black metal, the lightness of the color in sharp contrast to the darkness of the box that contained her. Krillin reached down, fingering a strand gently. So soft, he thought, her hair was so very soft. How was that, when she was half machine? A noise had him jerking his hand up quickly, looking around nervously to see if anyone had discovered him. He hastily slammed the case shut, his heart rising up in his throat, pounding violently within his small shaking body. What was he doing? If Gero caught him in here, he would be punished for sure.

Leaning back on the case, Krillin wiped the sweat for his forehead, attempting to gather himself. Gero would know immediately if anything was not right with him. He needed to put some distance between himself and Gero until he had managed to gain some control over his suddenly rioting emotions. What in the hell was wrong with him anyway? Juuhachigou and her brothers were getting exactly what they deserved and he would soon be getting what he deserved if he kept up his good work for Gero.

To that end maybe he could further his own cause. Goku was out there somewhere and accordingly he was as helpless as a babe. If he could find him, he would be easily defeated. That would get him some brownie points with Doctor... of that he was certain. Obtaining Bulma would be another small coup for him.

With determination, Krillin started forward, glancing back once again at the two black cases that filled the small room. They were an ominous statement of what would happen if you went against the Doctor. Krillin had no desire to go through any more hell. Gero had promised him eternal life and Krillin would not settle for anything else. He just had to keep Gero pleased with his performance.

***********

"Doctor Briefs," Gero smiled widely, waving his hand at an empty chair. "How good of you to join me, please have a seat."

"As if I had much of a choice." Briefs sat down, unconsciously gripping the arms of the chair tightly. "Where is my daughter?" He saw no need to beat around the bush. His daughter and future grandson had been in the hands of this madman for several days and Goku and Vegeta had been missing ever since. Briefs had to know what had happened to his child. "If you have hurt her in anyway..."

"You may relax, Briefs." Gero cut the angry stem of words off. They were words that he found particularly amusing coming from the mild-mannered scientist. " Your daughter has proven to be quite resourceful in alluding me. I compliment you. You have raised a very bright young woman. Still, the fact remains the same, inevitably she will be mine as will your grandson and the Saiya-jin warriors you have given a home to."

"You--you have none of them?" Briefs felt the tension drain from him. His daughter was safe--for now. Had Vegeta gotten to her in time? "I don't understand," he murmured, "Vegeta came to me, sure that you had taken her. "

Gero smiled cunningly. "Oh I did have her, but there were outside complications. I don't think either she or Vegeta enjoyed their stay here, however. And I'm positive your grandson didn't."

"What have you done to them?" Briefs stood, shaking, tension gripping him again at the thought that Bulma or any of his family had been forced to suffer through Gero's madness or that Vegeta and Goku with all their immense strength had been turned against Chikyuu.

"Sit down." Gero barked angrily. "I will not waste my time discussing them with you. They will soon be back in my custody. You will see for yourself what I have planned for your daughter and her friends. I have bigger considerations at this moment, considerations that only you can help me with." He leaned back in his own chair, clasping his hands together.

"I would never willingly aid you with anything, Gero. You have to be insane if you think I would." Briefs sat back down, slowly letting his eyes travel the length of Gero's figure. He looked almost clownish with his striped pants and yellow vest. He had let his grey hair grow to outrageous lengths. It easily reached past his bottom and the moustache was thick and bushy, looking almost unkept. Had the rejection of mainstream science warped his brain to such an extent or had it been time alone with his bitterness? Briefs shook his head. How had he gotten here?

"Oh, I think you will my dear Doctor, with the proper motivation of course." Gero stood, smiling coldly. "Come with me... I have something to show you, something that I think will persuade you to give me your full cooperation."

Briefs stood shakily, feeling sick to his stomach. What could Gero have that made him so self-assured? He prayed that his wife and young grandson were still safely ensconced within the cellar that he had put in so many years ago. Gero had stated that he no longer held Bulma or Trunks, yet he had never mentioned Goku or Vegeta and Briefs knew he had Chi-Chi. He had not been allowed to see the woman, yet he knew that Gero held her. Kami, how were they going to get out of this?"

************

Bulma woke up to the sound of quiet talking. Opening her eyes, the first tangible she saw was a clock and the time. She was in a room and lying in a bed, of that she was fairly certain. What was the time again? Vegeta... Vegeta would be out of the room now. "Vegeta!" She shot up in the bed, looking around frantically, memories of what had occurred flooding through her brain in the same instant. Bulma raised a shaky hand to her head, seeing for the first time, Goku and Master Roshi sitting in the corner of the small, dimly lit room, speaking quietly. , both apparently oblivious to the fact that she was awake.

Woman... The angry voice flitted through her mind along with concern and fierce relief that she was all right. Vegeta.

Vegeta, where are you? She managed to hold back the sob that wanted to come spilling out at the sound of his voice, instead laying back down on the bed.

Looking for you, woman. Where are you? Does Gero have you? Are you alright? The questions bombarded her from all sides, causing her to smile. It took a lot to rattle the Prince of The Saiya-jin, yet she had managed to do it. His upset was a rarity to be sure, and uncharacteristic of his usual unflappable self, but she would hold it close as a sign that all that had happened between them was not just some strange dream.

I'm fine and no, Gero doesn't have me. I'm not sure where I'm at. Bulma shuddered as a draft blew over her, sending an icy trickle racing down her back. Goku is here and Roshi--the pervert. She smiled at the low growl that emitted from Vegeta at Roshi's name. Let me ask. Bulma cleared her throat, rewarded as two sets of black eyes turned towards her.

Goku jumped up and smiled, rushing to her. "Bulma, are you alright?"

Bulma smiled and nodded. "I think so, but where am I?"

"I'm not sure, Master Roshi brought us here." He nodded towards the leering old man who meandered his way along towards them.

"Bulma are you alright?" Roshi's voice held the same note of hopeful excitement and anticipation it always did whenever she was around, apparently hoping that she would thank him by a quick flash of her breasts. Another growl reverberated through her mind, causing a full out giggle. Bulma wasn't certain if she was giddy to be alright and away from Gero or just happy to be in contact with Vegeta. Probably a little bit of both, she thought. Vegeta and his voice had a way of either bringing out the giggling girl in her or the raging hellion, despite the situation or depending on it, and he very clearly had picked up on her thoughts about Roshi, something that she had to laugh at.

"I'm fine, Master Roshi, but I need to know where I'm at. Vegeta is looking for us." Bulma smiled at him, silently thanking him for his part in her escape. The old man acknowledged her with a toothy grin.

"Vegeta!" Goku perked up, searching out the Prince's ki. "Hey, I can't feel him, that's strange." He frowned. "If you tell me where we are, Master, I'll go and get him. Maybe then we can make some kind of plan of action and Bulma could get to work on the antidote to my ailment."

"Well, right after the first attack on Capsule Corporation, after you were all injured in the first battle with the artificial humans, your father," Roshi nodded at Bulma, "and I had a discussion. With Goku down for the count and Vegeta unable to defeat them alone, we decided it would be in our best interest to start developing some method of fighting back; yet it seemed risky to have all our eggs in one basket so to speak at Capsule Corporation. Your father knew of an old underground military base that was deserted. He had done some technological work for the army before the site had been shut down due to a lack of funding. He proposed that we have it as a secret site, someplace where he could hide things that we didn't want Gero or the artificial humans to know about."

"What?" Bulma yelped. "You mean he knew about this and didn't tell anyone? What about after we were attacked? That didn't warrant us all coming here? Alot of grief could have been prevented had he said something." Bulma felt her face flush with her anger; heard Vegeta pummeling her mind with another round of questions, apparently sensing the quickening change of her mood.

"We both thought it best, Bulma, that no one knows until absolutely necessary. If any one of you had been captured and Gero had used one of his gadgets to break any of you and find out things we didn't want him to know--including the locale of this particular hideout, well all hope would have been lost. Your father thought to tell you eventually. He just wanted to wait until he had something substantial to pin our hopes on."

" But..." Bulma opened her mouth, determined to say more, but Roshi held up a hand, stopping her.

"Now you hang on little lady, before you go attacking your father. There was another more important reason we kept this quiet. It is a reason that required the utmost security. If Gero gets wind of this, there is no telling what might happen, but I can assure that the consequences for this planet would not be good." Roshi stood, beckoning them to follow.

Woman... Vegeta growled in her mind. I am growing tired of waiting. Where in the hell are you and that bastard, Kakkarot? I can't feel your ki anywhere? What in the hell is going on?

"Oh, Master Roshi, where are we? Vegeta is trying to find me." Bulma frowned. "Shouldn't he be able to read my ki?"

"Oh, he can sense it enough to know you are alive, but your father managed to get a ki shield around this place. He figured it would be doubly hard for Gero to track any one once they got here. It literally blocks anyone from reading the strength of he ki or your location."

"A ki shield?" Goku breathed in wonderment. "Wow!"

"All of this and Dad never even told me." Bulma shook her head. "Why on Chikyuu wouldn't he have asked me to help him with this? I might have been able to come up with something by now."

"Tell Vegeta to head for the Northern Mountains. We'll send Goku out to lead him back." Roshi frowned. "All will become clear to you in a moment Bulma."

Vegeta, head for the Northern Mountains... Goku will meet you and bring you here. Dad put some kind of ki shield around this place. You won't be able to track us here. Bulma smiled at the low growl that issued through her brain.

Fine, but tell that third class imbecile to hurry up. I won't be kept waiting.

Alright, I'll be sure to tell him, and Vegeta," Bulma paused, fighting the tight ball of jumbled nerves that had bound itself deep within her gut before rushing ahead and uttering the words that she knew would scare the hell out of him, "I love you."

Hmmph... Came his irritated reply. I am not happy with your disobeyment of my direct order to stay put, woman. We will have to have a chat about doing what I command when I see you next.

Bulma smiled at the typical Saiya-jin response she got. In other words, she had apparently scared the hell out of him. How had he even figured out that she was in trouble? She supposed that knowledge, that he had been frightened for her, would have to do. Following Roshi down the all, she was shocked when his voice echoed through her mind once more.

Woman... I--I missed you to.

Bulma smiled at the rather mumbled admission. He had actually sounded rather sick. Oh well, with Vegeta perhaps she should just be satisfied with what she got. That was his way of telling her that he loved her she supposed. Perhaps she could wring a bit more out of him later, when they were alone.

Be careful Vegeta... oh and tell Trunks that Eriadne is working for Gero. The thought made her frown. Trunks had given his trust to the girl and she had betrayed it. Granted she knew the girl had been working for Gero under duress, but the fact remained the same that she was an agent of the enemy. Trunks had a right to know that.

The brat already knows. Came the deep voice, hard and edged with danger, enough to send a shiver racing through her. It was the same voice he had used when he had come after her and Krillin for the dragonball on Namek and it always caused her to shudder.

Bulma could sense the anger swirling around him and she frowned, wanting to pursue the subject more. Vegeta, what do you mean? But he had withdrawn from her, seeming to focus on something else. Perhaps it was for the best, she didn't want to distract him from paying attention. She would pursue the topic with him later.

Vaguely aware of the continuing conversation between Master Roshi and Goku, she rounded another corner, seeing a metal stairway. Roshi started down it slowly and she and Goku followed, going down a full flight of stairs and traversing down a long hallway before finally reaching their destination.

"This is why you father and I kept this secret." Roshi swung open the large door and motioned them in.

Bulma looked around the bleak, dimly lit room, gasping as she swung her eyes around to the farthest corner. In it sat one of her regeneration tanks... with Piccolo inside it. "My Kami! Piccolo!" Bulma exclaimed, covering her mouth with a shaky.

"Piccolo!" Goku shouted in shock, grabbing onto Bulma's arm tightly. "That means that..."

"Yes, the dragonballs. I can only assume that Kami is as sick as Piccolo. We haven't been able to find him at all, but this at least means that he is alive. Kami, Mr. Popo and Karin have completely disappeared. We did find Yajirobe however." Roshi looked down at the floor.

"Oh, no," Bulma breathed. "Poor Yajirobe. What about Oolong?"

"And Turtle?" Goku added.

"Oolong is just fine. He's probably somewhere taking his afternoon nap right now or looking at on of my magazines." Roshi frowned. "Turtle is safe at the beach, taking refuge in the ocean."

"That is the safest place for him right now." Goku said, turning his attention back to the tank. "So we don't know where Kami is, just that he has to be alive if Piccolo is."

Bulma moved towards the tank, touching the cool tank with her hand. "What's the matter with him?"

"Your father thinks it is another variation of the heart virus. We think that Gero wanted to get the dragonballs for himself, so he made Piccolo sick, thinking to gain access to Kami, perhaps by returning Piccolo to his original evil state. Gero has to have antidote to cure Piccolo. If he's done his research, then he has to know that if Piccolo dies, then Kami and the dragonballs go with him."

"But, Piccolo doesnít control the dragonballs, Kami does. Even if he did manage to break his mind and return him to the evil persona that he had, the best he could do is use Piccolo to gather the balls. Any of us, including Gero could have done that." Bulma frowned, turning to stare at Roshi.

"He must have thought that by controlling Piccolo, he controlled the fate of the dragonballs, perhaps even Kami if he held him. Piccolo would be able to lead him straight to Kami. Piccolo made it to your father and whispered Kami's name before he fell unconscious. We think after the battle, the one that you both assumed he had died in, he must have come to and made it to Kami's tower; possibly warned him before going to your father, Bulma. I think that this sickness that Gero has given him is why it was so easy to defeat him in battle. Quite possibly the artificial humans were given orders not to kill Piccolo, only wound him, something that would be extremely easy if he were ailing. None of us have ever seen a sick Namek before, so none of us would have known anything was wrong unless he told us."

"My Kami," Bulma breathed, turning to stare at Goku as he came to stand before the glass. "So Dad stuck him in the regeneration tank in hopes of keeping him alive until he could figure out the cure. If he dies, Kami and the dragonballs go with him along with any chance of Chikyuu being back to normal." Bulma shook her head. "I suppose Gero knew this. So why hasn't he gathered them up yet... unless..." Her head shot up. "That's it!! Piccolo had to know something was up, once Goku fell sick and then he started feeling ill. He must have hidden them along with Kami!"

"That's what we think but he's been comatose since that fateful day and your father and I both agreed that the Corporation was not a safe place to keep him. Your father has been working on some kind of cure for his sickness since he discovered it, but he hasn't been able to come up with anything to help him. Without the exact virus that Gero managed to get in him, it is nearly impossible to cure him."

"Yes," Goku murmured, staring at the nearly lifeless form of his one time enemy, turned friend and ally through the thick glass. "That's what Bulma and I discovered in Gero's lab. He has obviously mutated it and made it more compatible to my blood. He must have done the same thing to Piccolo's."

"Not to mention what he has put in the water supply. He told all those people at that rally that he had studied a blood sample and come up with a cure. The people must be lining up in droves to get help." Bulma shook her head in horror. "It's like leading the lamb to the slaughter. Kami..."

"All he has to do is sedate them, do whatever changes he sees fit for them and turn them back into the world ready and willing to do his bidding. " Goku shook his head. "I should have killed him all those years ago when I had the chance and now he has my son and my wife." Goku's fist hit the wall beside the tank.

"Now Goku," Gero isn't going to do a thing to either one of them, not if he wants you. He's hoping to use Chi-Chi and Gohan as bait to lure you in. They are strong bargaining chips for him." Roshi laid a wrinkled hand on Goku's shoulder. "You need to get back to the way you were so that you can end this once and for all."

"Why, just you and Piccolo, why not Vegeta as well?" Bulma shut her eyes at the thought of Vegeta getting this madman's illness.

"I think he ran out of time and then there was Costa. Maybe he didn't want to run the risk. Still, knowing that Vegeta is back on Chikyuu and knowing that Costa betrayed him and took me... well that has to mean bad things for Vegeta." Goku shut his eyes, relaxing the tension in his shoulder for the briefest of moments before squaring his shoulders and straightening to his full height. "I don't think Gero would give him up so easily now. He sees Vegeta as the perfect warrior, unhindered by anything save the desire to be the best. We can't let Gero get a hold of him again."

"Should we try to find Kami as well?" Bulma wondered, turning her back to the tank, not wanting to contemplate the idea of Vegeta being broken. No, Frieza had not been able to break his spirit; Gero would not be able to either. Vegeta was too strong-minded to allow that to happen. Frieza had ensured that. "Maybe if we can get everyone here..."

"We tried looking for Kami, but we can't find a hint of him anywhere, not even with the dragon radar. We finally decided it was best that he remain safely hidden until this had been dealt with, unless Kaiosama knows." Roshi looked pointedly at Goku.

"I don't know, I haven't been able to contact him. The only person I can speak to telepathically is Vegeta." Goku shrugged. "I'm not sure why."

"Goku, you need to go and meet up with Vegeta before Gero finds him." Bulma pushed him to the door. She would not feel good until Vegeta was safely where she could see and touch him. They needed a plan of action and Vegeta was apt to go off half-cocked and get himself in deep. As great a warrior as he was and as clever and cunning, his pride and anger were his biggest downfall. He was running pretty hot right now; she could easily sense that even with him having vacated her mind. "I'll get busy on this antidote. Without the damn virus itself, I'm not sure what I can do, but I can give it my best shot. We might have to go back to Gero's, this time on a reconnaissance mission." Bulma sighed, shaking her head, before jerking it up in horror. "Oh, no! My mother and my baby! Oh no, how could I forget them?" Bulma sank to her knees, tears flowing down her face. "What if Gero has them, Trunks..." She moaned.

Goku reached down, hauling her up. "Bulma, don't worry. I'm sure they are fine. I'll go get Vegeta and we'll swing by Capsule Corporation and pick them up. Is there anything else you need?"

"Oh Kami, Goku, I hope you're right." Bulma allowed him to draw her up, leaning against the shelter he offered. Cradled in his warm embrace, she relaxed slightly feeling for a moment as if everything were back to normal. Somehow Goku was able to make everything turn out alright, hadn't he always before. He had sent Vegeta packing and Frieza... Kami, how she missed Vegeta. She would give anything if it were his arms that were wrapped around her. "Tell Vegeta to grab my computer and my big black case. It has everything that I need. Tell Momma not to forget Trunks bag."

"When we get back," Goku whispered into her hair, "we'll talk about this reconnaissance mission. I want my wife and son back and I want an end to this nightmare."

Bulma hugged him tightly, sensing his sorrow. "It'll be alright, you'll see." She whispered back, pressing a soft kiss on his cheek. "Now go and get Vegeta and my son... whoops," she smiled lightly, pulling back from his embrace, "sons. I guess there are two of them out there aren't there?"

"I'll be back with them in a flash." Goku chuckled sadly. "Or at least as fast as this tired body will let me."

"Be careful Goku." Roshi stepped forward, placing a bony hand on the tall Saiya-jin's shoulder. "You know what is at stake. We are all counting on you."

"Of course Master Roshi." Goku nodded, face set in stony resolution. "You can count on me."

*********

Trunks offered a hand to Eriadne, hauling her up to her feet. He glanced away from the shocked expression. His father had been in a fury, had been absolutely outraged when she had gotten into his face and yelled at him, Trunks had been able to sense it. The Prince had been ready to strike her, but he had checked the swing, instead choosing to propel her back with a simple flare of his ki. She tried to cling to his hand, but he jerked it away from her in disgust and turned away. "I'm sorry if my father hurt you. Believe me he could have done far worse. "

"Trunks, please understand... I just didn't know what else to..."

"What's there to understand?" His angry voice, normally so soft and smooth, was hard and cold; an almost perfect imitation of his father. "You lied to me. Because of you, my mother is in danger and my father hates me. Do you have any idea how hard it was to earn his respect? If anything happens to my mother because of you..." Trunks broke off angrily, knowing that he would be unable to kill her, hell his father would kill both him and her, taking care of the dilemma. "Why couldn't you have trusted me with the truth?"

"You, who hates all things involving artificial humans." Eriadne laughed bitterly. " That is rich. How many conversations did we have that ended in a stalemate? How many times did you promise death to them?" Eriadne stared disbelievingly at him, eyes bright and piercing.

"They are evil now, Eriadne, they are not the same people that they might have once been. You have to know that. They have done terrible things, all in the name of Gero and some for their own sick pleasure." Trunks shuddered. "There has to be a retribution for that. They can't just get their lives back and walk away into the sunset. What about the people that they stole lives from?" Trunks ran a hand through his hair in frustration.

"Who are you to be that judgment for them?" Eriadne spat out, anger and pain glistening brightly in her eyes. "Why is too late for them to turn their lives around, to go back to what they once were?"

"Because they will never be able to forget what they did, Eriadne, because they have killed far to many people for their to be no retribution. As much as you want to deny that part of their lives, it's there and it isn't going away, nor can it be swept away as if it were unimportant. It no longer matters what started them down this path. They have chosen to follow it, to follow Gero and now it is the only life they know." Trunks growled in anger, Juuhachi's face leering in front of his again. "They want to kill and hurt, not because Gero tells them to, but because they enjoy it. Causing pain and suffering brings them joy!" Trunks clenched fist pounded into his open palm. Kami, the way they had struck down Gohan, laughing as if his life had meant nothing; had only been a joke. "Damn them for all they have caused!"

"Trunks, there has to be a way..." Eriadne wiped angrily at the tears that coursed down her face. He was so angry and nothing she had said had gotten through to him. "Please, Trunks... you have to help me." She reached for his arm, hoping to calm him, soothe him... do anything to make him see things her way.

Trunks jerked away from her angrily. "Dammit, stay away. You are deluding yourself if you think there can be any other outcome for them. I will see them dead, in this time and my own. That is the only outcome that can make things right. They aren't just going to willingly give themselves over to be reprogrammed." Trunks turned from her, trying to ignore the sharp, pained expression that shone forth from her blue eyes at his harsh words. Softly, he spoke again. "I'm sorry, Eriadne, but there is no other way." He took a step away form her.

"Trunks!" Eriadne pleaded, knowing he was leaving. His mother was the only hope she had, she had to get him to see her point of view. "Please, don't go... " Grabbing his arm, she pulled herself closer to him, searching his blue eyes with her own. "Please..." She whispered brokenly, watching his beautiful blue eyes harden and narrow.

Trunks sighed, reaching his hand to caress her cheek. He watched as she flinched. His father's doing, yet he could hardly blame him. Vegeta was not a man given to abusing innocent women, yet when it came to protecting his mate, the instincts were primal. That he had come close to landing a blow on her was not shocking in itself, but that he had been disciplined enough to check the swing had both surprised and impressed Trunks. He had always known his father had amazing control, but to be able to hold back from doing something that he had so obviously wanted to do. Eriadne's treachery had pushed Vegeta over his tolerance level, something that had to be running perilously low after the events of the week. He'd shown a great amount of control considering, far more than Trunks probably would have. Trunks leaned towards her, brushing the soft fullness of her lips with his own. "I'm sorry." He whispered sadly, before turning from her. Rocketing off into the blue sky, he turned his concentration to finding his father. He would help him retrieve his mother and with a little luck maybe he could get him to forgive him his stupidity.

Eriadne sunk to her knees, watching him leave. "Dammit Trunks, this isn't over." She whispered in the heavy silence that suddenly surrounded her. " You and your mother have to help me. You're the only hope I have left."

**********

Vegeta had been on his way to the Northern Mountains, when he had sensed something odd in the outlying city. His instincts had screamed at him to stop and look at it. Thinking perhaps he had stumbled upon some new monstrosity of Gero's he had landed, relishing the idea of a battle. His entire body had screamed with the need to unleash his fury on some piece of trash that Gero had sent out to stir up trouble. Knowing that his mate was safe had only added to the desire to fight.

Looking around, he had been distracted by a broken out window and a television that had been on display, still running, and Geroís face blaring out at him. He had spoken of the martial law he had declared for the cities until several dangerous fugitives had been rounded up. Vegeta had watched in fury as his mate's face had flashed across the screen, along with his own and Kakkarot's. Gero had even posted Trunks picture. There had been a reward offered and a plea for them to do the right thing and turn themselves in. Vegeta was too seasoned a warrior to not catch the underlying threat that Gero's words had implied.

Vegeta had blasted the television in rage, before turning to his wrath to several abandoned cars on the street. He stood, silently, lost in the throes of deep anger, listening for any sound of the patrols that Gero had assured would be out searching. How dare the bastard place a bounty on his mate's head. He clenched his fists in rage, before screaming out in rage and powering himself up to Super Saiya-jin. Now there would be nowhere she could go where her face had not been seen. Vegeta had been witness to the greed of mankind. He had no doubt that she would be hunted like an animal. Damn the bastard. He had toyed with him long enough. As soon as he had met Goku, he would make a plan of action. First he would take out Gero, then they would take out whatever remained of his army. Perhaps if there were too many, they could simply deactivate them, then blow them to straight to hell to join their maker.

Vegeta cocked his head, turning at the distant sound of footsteps echoing through the deserted streets. If Gero had declared martial law, there shouldn't be anyone out, unless it was one of the patrol's he had mentioned. Vegeta felt the corner of his mouth tug up with glee. , finally a chance to inflict some damage on the bastard and his demonic spawns.

Smirking, he slipped quietly into the shadows, watching as the intruders came into view. The smirk widened into a full out smile as he saw a detail of about five artificial human soldiers, marching his way. Raising his hand he waited, patiently, as they drew closer, the smirk never dropping from his face.

Firing a ki blast, he chuckled as the machines exploded in a flurry of arms, parts and legs. Stepping out from the shadows, he smiled evilly. There had to be more around here. He had only to find them. Looking out towards the Mountains he searched, looking for Kakkarot's ki. There was no sign of the third class Saiya-jin yet. Perfect, he had plenty of time before the lower class arrived to lead him back to his mate. He could find some more of Gero's cyborgs with ease if he tried. He had merely to blow up things. Catching the sound of more footsteps, he turned, ready to face them down. They were apparently responding to the noise he had already made. How easy this had been.

*************

"Costa are you sure this course of action is wise?" Refallo's whiskers twitched nervously as he sat down next to the mercenary, watching him warily; being cautious with his choice of words. "Vegeta will not be so easy to surprise and without the drug he is far superior to you or I." He watched as Costa turned red-rimmed eyes towards him.

"I have the righteous path of justice on my side, Refallo. Vegeta has destroyed my city and brought harm to my planet twice, he has struck down my brother as if he were an animal. There will be no defeat for me, not this time." Costa spat out the words with confidence.

"How long has it been since you slept?" Refallo asked, disturbed at the loss of reality that his boss seemed to be suffering. Costa had always walked on the insane side, had since the day he had met him, but since the discovery of Vegeta, his mind had slipped further into some black place that Refallo could not see.

Costa has never spoken of his brother kindly, yet had spoken of an oath of family and heritage that he and Nappa had pledged to their father. What could possibly be driving him to such lengths? Raping the girl, cruelly taunting Vegeta; torturing him as if he were an animal. Even Refallo could admit that there was no honor or justice in that.

"How can I sleep with Nappa taunting me every waking moment?" Costa's fist struck the small table that sat before them. "I hear him, Refallo, goading me, asking me why I have failed him; telling me that I am a worthless excuse for a Saiya-jin; telling me that I will never live up to him or my father."

"Costa," Refallo spoke softly, trying to ignore the sharp ball of fear that had grown begun to unfurl in his belly. "it is not real. Nappa doesn't speak to you, it is only lack of sleep and..." His voice broke off in a shrill cry as Costa stood, sending the table and the emptied bottles on it crashing to the hard, metal floor.

Reaching down, Costa grasped Refallo by the scruff of his neck, lifting him off the floor and bringing him to his face. "Don't speak to me of what you don't know. By all that is holy, Refallo, I will see Vegeta dead and I will prove myself to my brother and father once and for all. It is the only way to cease these damned voices in my head." Dropping Refallo, Costa stalked down the small length of corridor, entering the cockpit where Tannia manned the controls.

Refallo shuddered, struggling to stand amidst the broken glass. Shaking violently, he pulled himself to the small dining area; choking down a drink. By the gods what had he gotten himself into? He had seen Costa out of touch before, but never like this. He was actually hearing Nappa's voice? Refallo knew it had been days since Costa had slept. He had lain in his bunk during the two days they had been on the ship and heard him pacing the small narrow corridor. , the sound of his footsteps never-ending, as they treaded back and forth in the narrow passageway. Refallo felt himself slide bonelessly to the floor. Vegeta was sure to kill them both for what had happened to his mate, let alone for the suffering he had endured under Costa's hand. Refallo was no less guilty in that, having been the one that had shot the drug into Vegeta until the Saiya-jin Prince had been rendered helpless. The Prince would not forgive such a transgression so easily. Refallo felt the first sob bubble up into his chest; releasing it in a choking, coughing wheeze as he was left with little choice but to expel it. Was there no way out of this hell he had managed to slip into? He didn't want to die, oh God, he didn't want to die.

***********

Vegeta flew upwards into the air, confronted by an entire army of cyborgs. This had been far more than he had been expecting, but he would gladly take the fight. He was a Super Saiya-jin; none of these cyborgs would prove a challenge. Roaring his anger into the sky, Vegeta launched himself into a small group that had followed him, throwing his well-honed body into a flurry of kicks and spins. Breaking away, he noticed a larger conclave of cyborgs coming directly at him. With a smirk, he threw his hands together, powering up his most lethal blast.

"Final Flash!" His voice thundered across the sky as he sent the massive blast of power burning downwards in a blaze of yellow light, watching as it disintegrated all that was in its path.

"Father!" The voice rang out through the noise of the explosion. Vegeta turned his head, watching as his son streaked across the sky to join him.

"What do you want, brat?" Vegeta snarled at him, irritated with the boy for following him. He didn't

need his help. "Shouldn't you be with your girlfriend?" He sneered.

"Father," Trunks green eyes glowed with anger. "I was careless, but she is my mother. I will not sit back while she is in the hands of that madman."

Vegeta smirked at the boy. "Your mother is hardly in the hands of a madman." Peripherally he noted several more cyborgs rocketing towards him. As long as you're here..." He nodded towards the incoming soldiers.

"Is mother safe?" Trunks yelled, powering up and unleashing a blast that sent the cyborg body parts raining down to the ground.

Vegeta nodded sharply, his head turned in the direction of the mountains, taking notice of a ki that was barreling towards him. "Kakkarot." In the fury of the battle that he had been waging, he had neglected to keep track of the third classes approach. He was almost upon them and in his weakened condition he would be a liability. "Dammit." Vegeta lowered himself down, noting several more cyborgs picking up the fight for their fallen comrades.

Trunks lowered himself next to his father. "What is it?"

Vegeta nodded into the darkness. "Kakkarot is out there."

"Goku? So Gero doesn't have him. Shit! He can't be here, these guys will kill him." Trunks launched himself into a gathering crowd of cyborgs, deflecting their random blasts as he unleashed his own pent up fury on them. Trunks took note of the fact that they were all dressed in green fatigues, with the Red Ribbon logo emblazoned across them. So much for originality. What else could he expect from Gero? Vaguely he felt his father leap into the fray with him, pummeling robots and deflecting their firepower this way and that. They were easily destroyed, yet there were enough of them that they could simply wear their opponents down and take them then.

Goku watched helplessly from the darkened street corner, the light long ago knocked out by a blast, as Trunks and Vegeta took on cyborg after cyborg, blasting and punching and kicking. Still for as many as they destroyed, it seemed like there were three more that took their place. His hands fisted at his side and once again he could feel the dormant power within him, straining to get through, to burst forth from every pore of his body, but the harder he tried, the further away it seemed to him.

Cursing, he threw himself into the melee, damning the consequences, the thrill of the battle running hot through his blood. He would not sit back and wait idly for his friends to die nor would he get his wife and son back by awaiting others leisure.

Kakkarot, what in the fuck are you doing? Vegeta's harsh voice, strained from his exertions rasped through his mind.

I'm trying to help Vegeta. Goku winced as a hard fist connected with his jaw. I'm tired of standing by while everyone else does battle.

Dammit Kakkarot, you are as weak as a baby out here. Get out of here now before Trunks or I get distracted trying to save you.

You'd try to save me, Vegeta? Goku felt the ghost of a grin linger on his face, before turning his full attention back to fighting.

Fuck you, Kakkarot, Vegeta growled, I told you that you would meet your end by my hand only. No one else will kill you before I get that chance.

Goku would have laughed had he been able to; giddy with the joy of fighting, but the cold, hard fist of a giant artificial human took all thought away, save that of self-preservation. Inhaling sharply, Goku rolled to the left, trying to avoid the massive fist that swung after him. The man was massive, easily towering above him.

Goku gasped as the fist connected with his rib cage, shattering several. Dimly, through the blinding pain, he felt a huge fist wrap around his neck. Struggling against his captor, he attempted to get free, finding it impossible to break the strangling hold the beast had on him.

"Big Bang Attack!" Vegeta screamed, firing a blinding flash of light at the cyborg that held Kakkarot. He watched as the machine sank to his knees, dropping Kakkarot along the way. Vegeta kicked the thing as he walked by. "Never turn your back on the Prince of the Saiya-jin." Reaching down, he hauled Kakkarot up by his gi. "Dammit, you bastard, I told you that I would be the one that ends your miserable life." Vegeta snarled, tossing the half-dead Saiya-jin across his shoulders.

Turning towards his son, he yelled. "Brat, come on." As Trunks approached, firing random blasts at scrambling cyborgs, he spoke. "We can go to the Corporation and stick Kakkarot in one of the regeneration tanks while we gather your mother's things. Then we can get to this hideout and make a plan of action."

"Alright, father, lead the way. I'll cover you." Trunks turned, green eyes glowing brightly as he fired at the oncoming cyborgs. Dammit they just kept coming, like the damn robots that they were, it didn't matter if they lost arms, legs, whatever... they just kept coming and the supply seemed endless. "Go father!" He yelled, watching the look of regret that crossed his father's green eyes. The bastard wanted to say and fight. Trunks sighed, knowing full well the love of battle that flowed through his father's blood. It ran deep within his own, though he was fast growing tired of it, having been battling the damn things since the day he had been old enough to fire a blast. Still, these things were mindless and apparently able to track anywhere. They would have to be quick at the Corporation. Goku would only be in the tank long enough to revive him.

"Come on brat," Vegeta yelled, rocketing off into the sky. "Your mother will be mad if I show up without you, though why I care is beyond me."

Trunks followed his father into the sky, firing blasts even as the cyborgs grew distant. He saw several take to the air behind them and cursed. "Father, they are following us!"

Vegeta glanced behind him and smirked. "Let them, they can't keep up with the Prince of the Saiya-jin." He rocketed ahead faster, pleased when his son managed to pull along directly behind him. Maybe his initial assessment had been correct in the time chamber and the brat had more usefulness than he had previously thought. "Think you can keep up boy?"

"I'm positive of it, father." Trunks grinned; opening himself to all the power he had gained in his year in the time chamber. Glancing back, he realized he could no longer see the cyborgs. "Do you think they know where we are going?"

Vegeta shrugged. "I don't know brat," he smirked, "But we're going to find out."

************

My dear Doctor Briefs," Gero smiled, leading the scientist down a long, stark white hallway, "what I am about to show you has never been seen by another living human... not even your daughter had this honor." Stopping before one of a handful of doors, Gero turned the knob and entered, motioning Briefs in ahead of him.

Glancing around, Briefs saw that he stood in an operating room of some kind. It was also snow white room, devoid of anything save a large black table, apparently the place he did his work. Towering above it was a large moveable light and Briefs could see across the room a huge glass window.

Gero crossed the room, moving towards the window. "Come along Doctor Briefs. There is something that I wish for you to see."

The Doctor moved forward slowly as if his feet were weighted with iron, morbidly curious as to what Gero could possibly want to show him, yet deathly afraid he wasn't going to like what he saw. Inhaling shakily, Briefs saw his worst fears confirmed as he looked through the glass to another nondescript room. She lay, dark hair loose and spilling across the table, apparently unconscious and naked under a thin sheet, an IV inserted into her arm. "Chi-Chi," He whispered, turning stricken eyes towards Gero. "You monster!! What have you done to her?"

Gero smiled coldly, silently amused with the Doctor's show of anger. "I have done no permanent damage to her... yet. She survived remarkably well against my machine. Any other human would have been broken, but she kept her mind sharply focused on her precious Goku. I had thought to improve her for Goku until another; more impressive idea came to me. "

"You're going to use her to get Goku back, aren't you?" Briefs leaned against the wall, feeling sick. "What more could you possibly do to him?"

"Well, yes, she and the boy do figure into my plans for Goku, but I had another more immediate use for her. How ironic that I would ask one of the Doctors that had me blackballed from mainstream science to aid me in perhaps my greatest quest. You should feel fortunate that I didn't kill you like I did the other miserable so called scientists. None of you could see past your self-righteous noses, denying me my moment of glory and denouncing my experiments as if they were the lowest form of trash.

"You worked with live humans, Gero. You mislead innocent people and performed cruel and unusual experiments on them as if they were nothing more than your personal lab rats. There was no scientist alive that could countenance that, then or now." Briefs stared in disbelief at the Doctor.

"Yes, well," Gero waved a hand dismissively in the air, "that is hardly worth arguing now is it. So long ago. I cannot help that you were all so close minded that you couldn't see the benefits that mankind would have reaped from work. Now, however, our positions have changed. Now I have the seat of power, and finally I will be able to remodel the world according to my vision."

"You are not God!" Briefs spat in outrage, shocked at the blasphemy.

God? What God are you speaking of? Gero spoke arrogantly, amusement at the look of complete shock on the Doctor's face. Such an easy man to rattle. " You presume that there is one. I believe we have a difference of philosophies. However I did not bring you here to discuss such issues. I have other more pertinent things that need addressing. Do you wish the young woman to stay the way she is?"

Briefs nodded in affirmation, knowing full well that he was about to be blackmailed and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He couldn't allow Gero to touch Chi-Chi in any way; knowing full well that Gero would use the same tactic to assure Goku's cooperation. Kami, how were they going to put an end to this madness?

"Good. It isn't simple, Briefs what I need from you, but you or your daughter are the only two that could possibly be intelligent enough to carry this off. You see I wish to put my brain into this." Gero crossed the room in two long strides, pushing a lever as he reached the other side.

Briefs watched as a wall opened up, revealing a tall black case. With a last, lingering glance at Chi-Chi, he stepped forward, peering at it with some curiosity.

Gero waited until Briefs was close, before pushing the release button. Standing back, he watched as the door hissed open revealing a clone of himself. Gero turned beady eyes towards the Doctor, smiling at the look of shocked horror that radiated outwards from his eyes. "As you can see, Briefs, I have designed a mechanical clone of myself. All I need is for you to place my brain in it to make it function. It has taken me years to perfect the technique. You will follow my instructions to the letter."

"I can't do something like that." Briefs straightened to his full stature. "I won't do something like that."

"Then I am afraid that our dear Chi-Chi will be the first among many to be transformed. Won't Goku be so surprised? Tell me, how will you explain to him why this things has happened to her?"

"How could you possibly trust me to do this for you?" Briefs asked incredulously, eyes as round as the saucers his wife left his cat's milk in. "It would be a simple matter for me to end your life."

"Ahh, yes, a point I have already given thought to. I have made arrangements, Doctor Briefs, that should I not survive my operation, Juuhachi and Juunanagou are to be reactivated and sent out to destroy the world, as you know it. That of course will include your daughter and her son. It would be in your best interests, as well as all of humanity if you don't pursue that course of action. Besides, I think there is somewhere in you, the desire to see what your capabilities are. I see the same fire burning in your eyes that burns in Bulma's. You want to know if it is possible, you have the unquenchable thirst for more knowledge. " Gero's voice grew impassioned as he spoke, black eyes lighting with a fire that up to now, Briefs had only seen flashes of.

"Death would be preferable compared to the world that you have planned for everyone. This planet would be better off destroyed, then left in your sick hands." Briefs could not fathom what he was being asked to do. Gero actually wanted to made into an artificial human.

"Now whose playing God? Is no your final answer?" Gero looked at him curiously, amazed that Briefs could turn such an opportunity down.

"I cannot aid you in your quest to take this world over. I love Chi-Chi dearly, like a daughter, but I cannot sell out this world for her alone, as sorry as I am to have to do that. I can live with the hope that I might be able to undo whatever you do to her, but I will not contribute to your sickness." Briefs shut his eyes, guilt and sorrow flooding through his system at being unable to do anything for Chi-Chi. How could he sell out the entire world for one person? Yes, but would you allow Bulma to die? His nagging inner voice echoed through his brain.

"Well, then I guess I will prepare our lovely Chi-Chi for surgery. I'm sorry that you can't see the future as clearly as I do. Never mind, I have recently purchased some excellent medical robots that can easily aid me with the entire procedure. I would have preferred to have you do it, but they will serve their purpose, once sufficently trained." Gero smiled coolly, seething inwardly like a bubbling cauldron that Briefs had actually turned him down. He would take it out on the bitch and her son. First he would remake her into something so hideous that wild animals would run screaming from her. Pressing the lever, he watched as the wall closed back up before turning to walk to the door that connected him with the other operating room. "I will go and prep for it now."

Briefs watched as Gero crossed the room, each step taking him closer to Chi-Chi and her vulnerable body. Could he really stand back and allow this travesty to happen? His heart pounded in his chest with every step that Gero took. How could he allow this young woman to be experimented on, to be changed into some type of monstrosity? What choices did he have? How could he possibly explain his decision to Goku or worse--Gohan? There was a chance that they could still take Gero even in artificial human form, still what if they couldn't? What if he doomed all of mankind to some hellish existence in order to save Chi-Chi? Shutting his eyes to the blur of thoughts in his mind, he listened as the door swung open, creaking as it went. What was he supposed to do? Briefs felt rivulets of sweat roll down his face, ignoring them. What was he going to do?

"Watch, Briefs, watch and learn." Gero swung the door open, a slight smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth. Judging by the man's sweat streaked face, he was having a hard time with his decision.

"G--Gero..." Briefs stuttered out, his nerves a jumbled mass of knots. "I'll do it."

**********

Vegeta shoved the injured Saiya-jin into one of Bulma's regeneration tanks before turning to Trunks. Stay here," He commanded, "I'm going to go search your younger self out. Kakkarot made some mention of you and that woman's damnable black case on the way over here. " Vegeta shoved away from the tank, searching for a pair of the armor suits that he had made Bulma design for him. He was tired of parading around with no shirt and ripped training pants on. He barely had anything on. Another battle would probably leave him naked. Rummaging through her storage closet, he found them, yanking out several and tossing them to his son. "Encapsulate these brat and change. You'll be needing them." Hastily, Vegeta jerked the training shirt on, followed by the pants and boots. Leaving off the armor and gloves, he traced his young brat's ki straight to some underground hideout. Looking down, he found his small son sound asleep next to Bulma's mother. Regretfully he nudged her with a booted foot, knowing full well that the sound of her grating voice would cause him untold pain.

"Woman," He pushed at her harder, "woman, wake up." He watched as her eyes fluttered open. Upon recognition she issued him a blinding smile.

"Vegeta did you come for a visit?" She sat up. "Oh, Bulma isn't here."

"I'm well aware of that woman, " Vegeta spat out through clenched teeth, "now get up and ready the brat for travel." Vegeta turned, searching out the place that Kakkarot had mentioned to him in a slur of words. He'd been barely able to understand, picking up only Trunks and Bulma. He had made contact with his woman and gotten the information he needed, cursing the entire time about being her errand boy. He was a Prince, not some servant she could order about. She had even told him to encapsulate her regeneration tank, though he had little doubt that they might actually need that. Finding her makeshift office, he grabbed up the computer and case, encapsulating both, before turning to retrieve his son. "Come on, woman. Follow me."

Grabbing his brat, Vegeta held him as he levitated up the small ladder, setting down on the rubble above it that had once served as the hideout's main hallway. Pausing, he turned towards his mother-in-law. "Bulma needs clothes. Get them and meet me in the front lawn. " He watched as she scurried to do his bidding. Now that was the way one responded to the Prince of the Saiya-jin. Rocketing down the hall, he made it to back to the makeshift lab, pleased to see his son dressed in the Saiya-jin battle dress.

"Here," Vegeta handed baby Trunks over to the future version, not bothering to think about the oddness of the situation. "This will have to be enough Kakkarot, for now." Draining the tank, he encapsulated it, watching as Kakkarot leaned heavily against the desk, his injuries barely beginning to heal. "Brat, carry yourself and your grandmother. I'll get Kakkarot. Let's go."

* *********

Bulma stared down at the microscope, oblivious to all that was around her as she studied the small microbes that swam in Goku's blood. She was so close... all she needed was a sample of the pure virus, and then she could attempt an antidote. Lost in thought, she didn't hear the door open, nor sense the heated black gaze that swept over her body. The deep, smooth voice got her attention, however, cutting through her senses like a knife, sending a flame of heat rolling down her spine.

"Are you planning on ignoring me all day woman?" Vegeta smirked as she turned towards him; relief shooting through him yet again that she was safe and alright and as far away from Gero as she could possibly be right now. Uncrossing his arms, he walked towards her, black eyes drinking in the sight of her, his every sense attuned to her, sensations he had not experienced for over a year. Wrapping his arms around her slim waist, he yanked her towards him, crushing her against his body, nuzzling her neck with his mouth. "Woman..." He breathed huskily into her ear. "I thought you were gone from me."

"Vegeta." She murmured, giving herself over to the warm rush of sensations that his lips were sending coursing through her body. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling herself more tightly against him. "Vegeta, thank Kami you are here." Her mouth met his as he kissed her hungrily, trailing his mouth down her jaw line, burning a trail of fire wherever his lips touched.

"It's been a year woman; I need you." Vegeta was already unbuttoning the shorts she had on, sliding them down and sliding off his own pants, while she slipped off his shirt, followed by hers. He took her in a near violent, frenzied rush of heady emotion, pushing her against the desk and pounding into her desperately, arching his back and crying out hoarsely as he came. The full gamet of emotions that he had ran through during the course of a few short hours had taken their toll on him and he found himself weak and shuddering in her arms, unable to fathom or deal with what he was experiencing. The expectation of seeing her again as he had left that damn room, the anger of her not being there, followed by the panic and fear that stupid girl had caused him.

Bulma lay back against her desk as her orgasm ripped through her, her mind and body reeling from the emotional onslaught that had just threatened to overtake her--his emotions. She gasped as Vegeta, bracing himself above her on the desk, moved within her again, their bodies still connected from the initial coupling. Clinging to him weakly, she managed to wrap her legs more securely around his waist, not protesting as he picked her up and carried her to her small cot.

"The brat is with your mother, secured in this compound and tomorrow Kakkarot and I will plan some kind of attack on Gero's lab to look for his mate and find a weakness, but tonight... it is just about you and I." Vegeta whispered the words into her ear huskily, aroused by the way she clung to him and the soft moans that radiated from her chest with every movement he made. "I've been gone from you a whole year and when I emerge I find you missing and in danger. Don't deny me anything woman, not tonight."

Bulma couldn't have denied him even if she had wanted to. Those words, coming from him, would have melted the hardest of hearts. That was the closest she would ever get to hearing him say anything of meaning to her. With him, everything was in the action or the act, rarely in any words that he spoke, but tonight he was apparently offering himself up willingly to her and asking her to do the same. He wanted to share his emotions and she knew why, because he needed to. All of them were so very new and he had only began to discover what it was like to release them in small increments at a time, had only barely learned to show what he felt for her and suddenly he was dealing with an overwhelming tide of feelings, similar yet different to what he felt when Costa had taken her and he wasn't sure how to deal with them alone. The idea that he was looking to her for any kind of help moved her and aroused her in ways she had not known possible. As tough as he was, as ruthless and mean-spirited, that for a moment in time he was willing to be vulnerable in her arms and her arms alone was the most sensual thing she could have ever imagined and she welcomed it wholeheartedly, knowing that once this night was over they would belong to each other in ways that would have been unimaginable to her only a few weeks ago.

She leaned upwards, tracing the outline of her mark on his neck lightly with her tongue, smiling at the shiver that raced through his body. "I'm all yours Vegeta." She murmured into his ear. "I'm all yours."

**********

Gohan leaned his head wearily against the metal bars. Beside him, lay Yamcha and Tien, all three of them stuffed into separate cells. They had been locked down here for over nearly a week, being fed and watered only when necessary. Gero had made no move to towards them at all.

Gohan laid down, exhaustion taking over as his senses began to shut down. Kami, he hoped his mother was alright. As he laid his head down, he caught the familiar scent of his father lingering on the bunk. His father had been here. Then where had he gone? Inhaling the scent, he let it comfort him. His father would come for him, he knew that with certainty.

"Dad..." he whispered into the silent air, "where are you?"

***********

Goku's eyes snapped open, full of panic at first until he remembered he was in the regen tank, sitting right next to Piccolo's. He had been dreaming--dreaming of Gohan. It had been so realistic he had heard his son's voice.

Gohan, he whispered into the furthest reaches of his mind, as the calming water bubbled around him, Iím coming.

* * * * *

Coming next chapter: Bulma works on some new weaponry to use against Gero, while Goku, Trunks, and Vegeta make a visit to Gero's lab. Doctor Briefs make ready for the operation and Costa draws near to Chikyuu.


Table of Contents
Chapter 9
Chapter 9 Interlude
Chapter 11