Krillin took a deep, shuddering breath as he emerged from the cavernous recesses of the mountain lab. The lab seemed to reach into the bowels of Chikyuu itself, and it reminded Krillin, chillingly, of stories the monks had once told him of the pathway to Hell. It seemed fitting that a devil such as Gero would call such a dank, depressing place home.

With a start of realization, the memory that had just assailed him, hit him like a ton of a bricks. He’d just remembered the monks from his childhood. The thought shot through his head, and with a gasp he realized that he had easily remembered their tales of underground cities and pathways to Hell. They had been told to frighten him, he remembered. The stories had been one way the adolescent monks had thought to torment him, the kid they perceived as a weakling, the runt of the group. Krillin shook his head, confused. Where had these distant memories popped up from?

Feeling his knees buckle, he stopped and leaned wearily against the wall. He was so tired, and it was easy to get lost in this place with its brightly lit, identical halls that twisted and turned in every direction for miles on end. It would be hard enough trying to figure his way around, let alone trying to figure out what exactly Gero had done to him, and how to fix it. He could figure out the return of this memory later. Right now, he needed to find the others. He owed them that much.

Slowly, Krillin came to the realization that an alarm was blaring, and he wondered how long that had been going on. He had been so deep in concentration that he had not noticed it until now. He wondered absently, if that meant Juuhachigou and Juunanagou had killed Gero. Certainly the Doctor would have turned it off had he been able to. At the very least, the place would have come to life and been swarming with Gero’s cyborg army. He found the thought of Juuhachi brought a warm blush to his face. Why had she kissed him? What did that mean? He found the thought of her instilled him with renewed vigor, and he pushed away from the hard wall.

Seeing the elevator ahead of him, Krillin raced to it and punched the button, stepping in as the doors rolled open. He needed to go and release Tien, Yamcha, and Gohan. It was all his fault that they were in this forsaken place anyway. He had much to tell them and explain, but after all that he had done he wasn’t sure they would ever be able to trust him again. Truth be told he wasn’t certain that he would be able to trust himself ever again. Gero had screwed him up, had messed with his mind, and he wasn’t certain there was any way back from that.

Even now, he could feel the internal battle raging within him over what he should be doing. Gero’s memories and suggestions went deep, and it was all he could do to force himself to act against them. Shutting his eyes, he leaned back against the cool metal of the elevator wall and attempted to focus.

Memories, he could feel them, dangling elusively in the recesses of his brain and he reached for them, needing desperately to remember something of who he had been before Gero had gotten a hold of him. His brow crinkled as he struggled to grasp them, and he cursed in vexation as they pulled just of his reach, taunting him with his inability to grasp them fully.

No! He could not give up on them; he had to recall what he had lost. Straining, Krillin searched again, feeling sweat beads pop onto his forehead as he labored to capture the elusive images.

There…was…something, lost in a black tunnel within his own mind, there he was, and Goku was with him. They were laboring together, training under Master Roshi. He could see himself plain as day. He was small, and so was Goku. It was when they had been children and they were delivering milk, running up a mountain to do so. He had wanted to quit, but Goku had urged him on, had reminded him of what they were training for. Yes that was it; he was remembering their training. All that hard training they had endured to participate in the World Tournament. He could recall how exhausted he had been, and how effortless it had been for Goku. He could see it all so clearly, feel it even. The image was his true past.

With a muffled groan, he collapsed against the wall and clutched at his head. The effort that had taken had exhausted him, and now his head was pounding viciously. It was as if the talons of some shrieking bird of prey clutched at his very brain in an effort to rip it from his head. Had Gero put some kind of block in there to discourage any true memories from surfacing? Every time he saw or identified something of his past it hurt like Hell. It was a penalty for trying, he was sure.

Well it didn’t matter, he would keep trying until he had beaten whatever Gero had done to him, and he would atone for his mistakes. The first one would be releasing his friends and telling them the truth. Struggling to stand, Krillin punched the down button and waited calmly as it began its descent; resting his mind so that when he was ready he would be able to search some more. It was the only way to defeat what Gero had done—no matter the pain it cost him.

As the elevator grinded to a halt, and the doors slid open, Krillin was treated to a deafening explosion, and he threw himself onto the floor. What in the hell had that been? Cautiously, he searched out the energies in the room and found no enemies, only Yamcha and Tien, both panting heavily from obvious exertion. What in the hell were they doing?

"Yamcha?" Krillin called expectantly, terrified of the reaction he might get. He had absolutely no idea what they knew, or even if they knew that he had been the one responsible for their capture. He was sure going to find out quickly enough though. "Are you alright?" Slowly, he pulled himself up off the floor and surveyed the area.

Before him, he could see row after row of cells lining the room and mid-way down he saw them staring at him, the look of obvious distrust radiating like beacons from their eyes. Swallowing thickly, Krillin forced himself to stand straight. They knew.

Fighting the urge to run away, he forced himself to take one, slow step forward. "Guys, I know what you’re thinking and it’s alright. I ‘m here to let you out."

"Stop right there, Krillin!" Tien yelled at him, face lined in anguished rage. "As I recall, it was you that got us here in the first place, and right now I don’t know what is happening to Gohan because of you." He raised his hand, preparing a blast.

"Gohan?" Krillin asked dumbly. "What’s happening to Gohan?" Stopping, he glanced around, searching for some sign of the boy. He hadn’t consciously noticed that Gohan had been missing until they had pointed it out. "Who took him?"

"Your little cyborg buddies." Yamcha snarled angrily. "How could you do this to us, Krillin? How could you do this to Goku? He was your best friend, we were all friends. We’ve been through hell together, and this is how you treat us? How could you work for a monster like Gero?"

"I didn’t have a choice, guys." Krillin replied softly, another vivid memory stabbing at the edge of his brain. Grimacing, he slumped down to the floor and let it come, fighting the pain, and the desire to turn from it the best he could. He had to remember, he had to overcome this. It was the only way out of this hell. Pushing against the pain, he let himself grasp the images. It was that last final battle, and he was hurt. Kami, he was hurt so badly, and Goku…where was Goku?

Yamcha narrowed his brow in concern. "What’s wrong with him?" He whispered to Tien.

"I’m not sure," Tien whispered back, watching his former friend with a mixture of concern and suspicion. "Something seems to be hurting him. Krillin!" Tien shouted. "What trick is this?"

Krillin opened his mouth to screech at them that it was no trick, that it hurt, that the memories were burning him alive with a flame so searing that his brain was no more than black ash, but all that emerged was a small, croaking moan.

They had all fallen to Gero’s artificial humans, and he had lain there in the street, seemingly forgotten by all, dying from his wounds, when Gero had come back.

He had no memory as to what had occurred, only that he had been on the losing end of it and the others, as far as he knew were dead as well. That had to be the reason that they had all left him. In his pain, and suffering, his brain had weaved a heavy fog around him, tricking him into strange thoughts, shielding him from reality. He could recall believing that Goku had fallen in battle, though he should have known well enough that Goku had been too sick to fight, a victim of some virus. Yet, he had lain there, soaking in his own blood, sobbing for his best friend. The sobs had been loud enough to attract Gero.

Gero had apparently been looking for the remains of the Z-warriors for some nefarious purpose. Instead he had found one still clinging to life. Krillin could recall being lifted in some huge mechanical beast’s arms, taken back to this lab, and stuck in a regeneration tank. Except before he had let him out, Gero had injected some kind of drug into the system that had weakened him. Gero had told him that when he had emerged. Gero had also handed him his clothes, and informed him, very matter of factly, that there was no use trying to escape. The drug had been administered and there was no hope for escape. He had been led to the prisons by one of the cyborgs. He couldn’t recall which one, but he knew that he had been left alone for three days with nothing—no food or water.

There had been only his own company to deal with, and the hazy memories of that final, fateful battle that had seen so many of his friends killed, and of a life that had once been. He could recall it all now, so clearly and Kami, it hurt—it hurt so much.

He had been given food and water…finally, and he had devoured it, unaware that the drug was laced through the food, rendering him helpless even as the food restored so much of his energy. He had been taken to Gero, had been informed of his position, and of the drug racing through his system, and that was when the tortures had begun. Gero had probed his mind, searching for information, knowledge, whatever he thought he could use against him. At first, he’d been able to resist, though it had been painful, and exhausting. He’d fought the intrusion into his mind with all the energy that he had, had used up all his reservoirs of strength against Gero as the Doctor had persisted.

Finally, filled with frustration, Gero had made the first move to messing with his brain. He had begun to implant, thoughts…whispering the words into his ear with the devil’s smooth voice, taking advantage of his waning strength, and already numb brain.

"Goku left you to die, Krillin; he doesn’t deserve your loyalty. Tell me where to find him, and I will make sure he pays." The voice had been so persistent, and Krillin couldn’t count the number of times that it had told him that, time and again, in a hundred different ways, probing and digging for any and all information that might be useful, until finally, exhausted, drained, sick, he had spilled the smallest of things: Goku was bedridden, and unable to fight.

It had not been enough to satisfy Gero. Pressing on, Gero worked on him for hours, until it became obvious that he had sorely misjudged Krillin’s ability to withstand pain and torture. It had been then that he had given him something experimental: a truth serum that he had been working on.

"Stop being so damned loyal, fool!" The voice had been so persistent. "He was a coward and because of him, you are here suffering now. Where is he, while you are here paying for his crimes against me?" Gero had gone on and on, relentlessly, and though he had tried, it had been all he could do to not tell Gero what he knew. Finally after hours of torturous fighting, he had been unable to resist, exhausted, longing for rest, and he had given Gero all he had been able to.

"You have made the right choice, Krillin. You will be rewarded." Kami, why couldn’t he get that old bastard’s devious, demonic voice out of his brain? With a hoarse sob, he curled into a small ball, curling round himself protectively, and let the rest of the sickening memories come, unable to stop or temper them.

The artificial humans had taken him back to his cells, a shaking, quivering ball of goo and left him, sobbing like a small child for all that he had done. Goku hadn’t left him to die, he knew that for certain. Goku could never do that. He always did the right thing, and made the right sacrifices. It was Goku! Goku always came through for his friends and he would this time, too! He had believed that he would come and save him.

Several more days without food or water had passed and Krillin could recall his despair, and his fear. He didn’t want to suffer anymore, he didn’t want to die. He wanted to live and be happy. Where was Goku? Why was he suffering in here, why wasn’t his friend coming to help him? Yes, he could recall the thoughts well, they had haunted him, even though reason told him that Goku was sick, and believed him dead. In the midst of one of his inner battles, the artificial humans had come again, and this time…the mental torture had been excruciating.

He had been hooked up to some machine, and it had introduced him to a new level of hell. It had searched his brain, and found every fear, and every doubt he had ever had, feeding off of them, creating images so vivid he could no longer distinguish what was real, and what wasn’t. It had gone on for hours, and when Gero had been done with him, it was all he could do to remember his name. They had taken him back down to his cell, and left him again, and so it had gone on for several weeks until the final time when something in his exhausted, anguished brain had snapped, and he had given in. He didn’t want to suffer, he didn’t want to die. He would gladly accept everything Gero said if only they would stop tormenting him and leave him in peace, and so he had been broken.

It must have been like throwing paint at an empty canvas for Gero, who had happily implanted thoughts and memories, and Krillin assumed, mental blocks up against the true memories of who he was, and what had happened. But Gero hadn’t counted on human constitution and strength, discounted it even, and it was the fatal flaw in his grand design. Human will and spirit would always surpass obstacles, and even when they were down, they were never out. Like his fellow humans, Krillin wasn’t going to go so easily into the night. He had to fight this, and he had to prevail.

Gradually, Krillin came back to himself and slowly, ever so slowly, he felt the shaking diminish, felt the roaring in his brain quiet, and in the background he heard them, Yamcha and Tien, his friends since childhood calling his name. Weakly, he was able to smile. "Hey guys," he called faintly. "It’s alright, I’m alright and…I’ve come—I’ve come to get you out of here."


Briefs slammed into Gero’s personal laboratory like a man possessed. It was lucky that he had been able to recall all the twists and turns through the massive underground lab. It was lucky that his brain was still sharp as a tack after all these years. Gero had seemingly built himself a fortress, one that you could wander around in for days on end. He had apparently learned very well from his Red Ribbon days.

Perusing through the papers and files that lay strewn about, Briefs began to toss aside that which didn’t pertain to his final goal. He had to find something on the damn viruses. This was his one and only chance. Though curious as to what Gero had been working on up here, tucked away in his own little word, he knew there was no time to study.

Briefs was in such a hurry, that he failed to notice the thin boy strapped to the chair in the far corner. It was only the sound of the muted, familiar voice that jerked his head around, and set his brain spinning.

"Gohan!" He called exuberantly, thrilled that the boy looked none the worse for wear. He was tired, the circles under his black eyes gave that away, and there was fear there, though the boy was doing all he could to hide that. Physically he seemed to have no injuries, and his countenance was that of a boy who had not undergone mental anguish. The eyes, though tired, were wide and alert despite his obvious fatigue. Though now that he looked a bit closer they did appear a bit dilated. Evidently Gero had been preparing to do something horrific to him.

"Doctor Briefs!" Gohan exclaimed happily, happiness shooting through him at the sight of a familiar, friendly face. "What are you doing here, and do you think you might be able to get me out of this?" Gohan looked forlornly at his trapped wrists. "Gero gave me something, and I can’t use my strength at all."

"Gohan, my boy! Thank goodness you’re all right!" Briefs laid the capsules he carried down carefully on a table, hurrying over to him. "Of course we can get you out of here. It will be my pleasure."

Searching on the desk, he located the keys, quickly releasing the manacles that bound Gohan to the chair. Rubbing his wrists, the boy stood shakily, and smiled at the older man.

"Thank you, sir." Gohan leaned heavily against the desk, weakened. "I’m hoping this stuff wears off soon, before the Doctor comes back."

"I do believe Gero has been…detained." Briefs smiled at the boy lightly, his voice thick with amusement. With any luck, he would be detained for a good, long time. "Now, come here my boy, and help me. We need to find the virus, or some type of notes on the virus that Gero gave to your father. We have the beginnings of an antidote, and your father is on his way now to get it."

"Dad’s alright?" Gohan cried, energy flooding through him. "I’ve been so worried about him, and my mother too. I don’t even know if they are alright."

"Your mother is here, Gohan." Briefs laid a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder. "And I won’t lie to you, Gero has had her for a few days, but as near as I can tell she is all right. Your father is here to get both of you out.

"H-how did Gero get my mother?" Gohan’s voice faltered. His mother was the strongest woman he knew…well besides Bulma. Yet, even she would be hard pressed to stand up to the things that Gero did. Gohan felt fear flicker in his heart. He couldn’t lose her.

"He sent his artificial humans to raid Capsule Corporation. They knew right where to go to find the underground hideout, and they took us. I’ve seen her, and though he has her unconscious, I believe he hasn’t harmed her. " Briefs turned to the file cabinets, beginning to leaf through them. "See if you can find anything on that desk, son."

"What about my grandpa?" Gohan asked quietly, turning and rifling through the papers on the desk. "Have you seen him?"

"I’m sorry, Gohan, but I haven’t seen Ox-King anywhere here. Perhaps he didn’t get taken." Briefs turned his search back to the cabinets, peering at the files as he flipped through him. Apparently, Gero had been a very busy man. There were even notes on cloning. He shuddered at what the poor humans had been forced to endure to provide Gero with this information. That any man could treat his fellow humans as if they were nothing more than tools to be used and manipulated, experimented on like the basest of life forms, shook him to the core.

Finding nothing, he turned to another table that was scattered with loose papers and vials. There had to be something here, he just wasn’t seeing it. If there was one thing he knew about Gero, it was that the Doctor was meticulous in his note taking and recording. He wouldn’t have created something, and not have kept any notes about it, or any backup system should something fail. "Have you found anything, Gohan?" He called over his shoulder.

"No, nothing. There are some papers and files here on top of the lab desk, though. I’m going to look over them and see what I can find." Gohan bent to his task, flipping through each individual file. One, with Gero’s scrawling characters, labeled ‘Gods Project’ caught his eye. There had to be something, and he had to find it. His father was counting on him. With a frown, he pulled out some papers, shooting his eyes over the scrawled writing, before grinning ecstatically. " Hey, Doctor Briefs!" He called happily. "I found something!"

Laying the files on the table, Gohan peered at the desk, studying every inch of it, barely aware of Doctor Briefs who had hurried up behind him. A large niche caught his eye, and he moved to it, fumbling at a latch that held a steel lid tightly in place. Opening it up, he gasped as a thick fog of condensation rolled out, along with the chill air of a refrigerating system.

"What is it, Gohan?" Briefs peered intently over Gohan’s shoulder, inhaling sharply as the boy reached in and pulled out several labeled vials, and syringes.

"I’m not sure, Doctor Briefs," Gohan laid them on the desk carefully, alongside the files he had found. "I’m hoping," he spoke earnestly, "that it’s something that can help my Dad."

"Well let’s have a look shall we?" Briefs straightened his glasses, sifting through the papers. "Gohan, my boy," He said quietly after a few moments. "I think you’ve found the mother load. These contain all the details on Gero's virus. And not just the one he gave to your father, but what he released into the water supply, and I suspect, Piccolo’s as well."

"Piccolo!" Gohan cried. "But—I…I thought that Piccolo was dead!" Gohan stared intently into the Doctor’s eyes, black orbs glittering with barely suppressed moisture. "Please tell me that Piccolo is alive, sir."

"He is alive, Gohan, but he needs an antidote just like your father." Briefs laid a comforting hand on the boy as the moisture he had barely been able to conceal spilled over, and trailed down his cheeks. "Gohan, everything will be alright, but you must gather yourself together. We have work to do. Hand me those vials. Perhaps I won’t need to make anything up for Goku. It is quite feasible that Gero has the cures we’re looking for down there. If only once, things would be that simple."

Gohan picked up the vials that he had found in the cooling system. Gingerly, he handed them one at a time to Briefs, who studied each one carefully. "Well?" He asked. "Is that what you’re looking for?" He felt his heart pound like a drum in his chest at all that he had assimilated in less than a few minutes. His mother, a captive of Gero, Piccolo alive and in need of a cure, his father on his way to them. It was almost too much to believe, and too much to hope that within just a few minutes time, the nightmare could be over just like that.

Briefs felt his heart stop as he read the labels on the vial. Some of them were specific blood samples, and of no use to him, and others were obvious cures. The Doctor had apparently been planning something for Vegeta. He would have to look over the Saiya-jin’s blood when this was all over and make sure that nothing had been introduced to him.

Finally, as he looked over each one, he came to the cluster of vials that he had so hoped would be in there. His blood quickened in his veins, and he released a shuddering breath of air he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. There might just be hope for the planet after all. Glancing up at the boy, he smiled brightly, thick moustache drawing up with the action. "Gohan, my boy, for once things are that simple."

With a glad sigh, and a small, happy laugh, Gohan slumped over and shook. They were all going to be okay. His father, his mother, Piccolo, and all their friends, they were all going to be okay.


Roshi hurried down the nearly deserted streets of the city, clutching the jet capsule tightly in his gnarled hand. He had been to at least three in the last hour and everywhere it was the same. Deserted towns, dead and dying in the street, and bands of cyborgs roaming and patrolling streets seemed to be the norm for every city. The worst had been the mountain villages. There he had seen the people being herded into transports that would inevitably take them to be forever altered by Gero. The cyborgs had offered them shelter, and a safe place to stay as means of luring them into the spider’s web, and the people had willingly gone, ignorant of the true fate that awaited them. As he saw it, they were facing Chikyuu’s last moments, unless they were able to stop Gero here and now.

There were no two ways around it. The Doctor was insane, and the people of Chikyuu were paying the price for his madness. They had been led straight into a panic, and Gero had taken advantage of it. Well, it was time for a little payback and while Goku and Vegeta were kicking Gero’s ass, he was going to being issuing a little hell all of his own. He only hoped it worked.

Roshi had prepared for this role well, and he knew that he had to go to a place that would draw the biggest crowd. The more people he reached, the better. To that end, he had searched out three of Chikyuu’s largest cities, and each time he had been faced with an empty town. Not even a dust ball had rolled down the street. There had been sick, and dying…those too weak to pay him any mind, but otherwise, it was as if the people had vanished. So now, his thoughts turned back to a few of the mountain villages that he had traveled to. That might be the only place he could make a difference in.

If he could only coax the population to begin to turn against the cyborg armies that patrolled, they might be able to destroy a good part of them, and fight for their lives. It was a daunting task, and one he was beginning to rethink. Perhaps he would be better served to go and start picking off armies as he came across them. He might be old, he might not be as strong as he used to be, but he could still throw one hell of a Kamehameha Wave when he chose to.

It was worth a try, and while he was fully prepared to blast as many as the cyborg army as he could, he could still try to use his own mystical ability to help as many humans he came across down the road to revolt. It was high time that the peoples of Chikyuu found their will again, and he was just the man to help them.

Clicking his capsule, he tossed into a deserted street and watched as Bulma’s small jet appeared in a puff of white smoke. Yes, Goku and Vegeta were not the only ones who knew how to defeat a foe. Sometimes, you just had to use more than brute strength. To that end, it was off to the mountain village he would go.


Bulma laid herself out under the control panel, marveling at how one man could have so many wires. She was fairly certain that she had located the ones she needed to cut, but she wanted to be sure. Though she wasn’t opposed to cutting everything. Still, who knew what she was destroying. She didn’t want to destroy something they might need. Hell, if her father could get Goku the drug and she could find Vegeta…she could take him down to the mainframe and let him blow things up to his hearts content. That was something that should make his day. Vegeta liked to blow things up, she had learned, most especially his gravity machine.

If what she suspected was true, the cyborgs that Gero had created were controlled by that mainframe. She was fairly positive that he had not had thought to make them run on their own individually. He was too cocky to take that precaution. With him, everything had to be controlled by him to his own specifications. He got off on playing God, and there was nothing more powerful than programming thousands of beings to follow your every order. Now the others—the ones he had created from living, breathing humans…that was a different story. With a shudder, she thought of the poor souls whose lives had been forever altered by his madness. Was there anyway back for them? She didn’t think so, but the idea of having to kill all of those innocent people left her sick.

Taking a deep breath, Bulma decided to snip the wires, all of them. It didn’t matter. As far as she could tell, the entire control panel was of no use to anything they might need it for. She had to disable the switch that would send those missiles out, and that was the bottom line. She needed to get this done, find Chi-Chi, whom she had not had a chance to look for, and get the hell out of here before that monstrous artificial human came back in. Resolving herself, she cut the wires.

"Alright," she sighed to herself wearily. "Button deactivated." Hauling herself to her feet, she decided to test the theory and make sure that she had disabled it. Punching buttons rapidly, she was thrilled to see that nothing worked. Inhaling slowly, she went to the button that would launch the missiles when pushed. Kami, if she had failed to deactivate it, and then pushed this button…

Taking a deep breath, she shut her eyes, giving the fearful thought, voice. "It’s the end of Chikyuu." Could she take the risk? Did she have any choice?

"Could I get that lucky?" The deep, smooth voice enveloped her mind, and Bulma nearly swooned from relief at knowing he was there.

"Vegeta," she whispered. "You found me."

"Did you doubt that I would?" Vegeta stepped into the room, back straight and proud. Crossing his arms over his chest, he bestowed a cocky smirk on her.

Shakily, she crossed to him, stopping before him, yearning to touch him, but refraining. He wouldn’t appreciate it, not now. Later though, when this was all over and it was just them, she would take her fill of him, and of touching him. To her immense surprise he reached out a hand, letting it rest briefly on her cheek.

"Are you all right, woman?" Vegeta asked huskily, the hard set of his eyes softening as he swept his black gaze over her, assuring himself that she had not suffered any harm.

"Yes, I…" Bulma broke off, leaning into his gloved hand, before turning back towards the control panel. "I’ve had to disconnect some wires…" She broke off again, sweeping a hand through her silky blue hair. "I need to make sure that I’ve done it. I can’t leave it without knowing. If Gero or something else were to push it, it would mean the end of Chikyuu."

"Does testing it mean the same thing?" Vegeta took a step towards the panel, staring down at the various controls and buttons.

Nervously, Bulma compressed her lips together, tightly, nodding slowly. "I have to do it." Stepping past him, she pressed her finger against the cold red button. He was here with her. She was strong, even more so with him near her. She could do this, she had to. If she’d failed to properly disconnect the trigger that controlled the missiles, the whole planet would be doomed, and it would be all her fault. If she left without knowing, and something were to trigger it, the inevitable would happen anyway and it would still be her fault.

Gritting her teeth, and gathering her shattered nerves, Bulma pressed down. There was no time for thought. She just had to do it, she just had to push and see. All she could do now was pray that she had been successful. She had followed her instincts, based on her knowledge. She needed to trust herself.

As she pressed down on the trigger, she held her breath, waiting for the sounds of an imminent launch; Bulma realized that nothing had happened. There hadn’t even been any resistance from the trigger. It had simply pushed down. She had—she had done it!

With a squeal, she jumped into the air, launching herself into her husband’s arms. "Take that Gero! Looks like I have one up on you. Way to go Briefs!"

Vegeta caught her with ease, though the shock on his face made her laugh like a giddy schoolgirl. He would think her a fool, but right now she didn’t care. She was alive! He was alive! The planet was alive, and she felt a small ball of hope unfurl in her belly. There might be some hope for them after all.

"Do you always give yourself compliments, woman?" The deep voice was tinged with a hint of arrogant amusement as he released her and let her slide to the ground. It was then that she allowed herself to look him over. His suit was torn, and he was scratched and blackened from battles and explosions, but he was alright and he was here, and he was standing before her with his arms crossed looking for all the world as if he were bored with the situation.

Resisting her urge to throw herself back into his arms, she smirked instead—an _expression she had learned from him through four years of being subjected to seeing it. "Well, when you are as brilliant and beautiful as I am, Vegeta…" she shrugged effortlessly. "I don’t hear you offering any up, so—"

"Whatever," Vegeta smirked in return, staring into her blue eyes intently

"Where is Trunks?" Bulma asked quietly, peering around him.

"He’s coming. Stupid brat is slow, like you. I left him several hallways back when he decided to blast some more of Gero’s creations." Closing the distance between them, he drew her into his arms, unable to fight the urge to hold her for just one second. "Remind me," Vegeta murmured into the lush softness of her hair. "To punish you for bringing yourself into this."

"Yes," she murmured softly, staring with unwavering eyes into the obsidian depths that shone with so much emotion that she thought she would drown in them. "I’ll be sure to do that."

"I don’t have time for this," Vegeta rasped into her ear. "I have Gero to go find and kill." His arms tightened around her, and he felt his muscles tense. He had to survive this; he had too much to live for now to allow Gero to beat him. He couldn’t allow himself this kind of weakness, not now. There would be time for them later, when this hell was behind them. They would go somewhere, and he would say all the things he should have said to her so long ago.

"He’s next door, along with a hulking artificial human. I have to find Chi-Chi," Bulma whispered back, burying her face in the crook of his neck and inhaling his scent deeply. "She’s supposed to be somewhere in this room."

"Mom, Dad!" The voice penetrated her thoughts, and Bulma scampered back from Vegeta’s embrace, knowing he wouldn’t want Trunks to see him in a moment of obvious weakness.

"Are you alright?" Trunks asked breathlessly, racing to her side. Grabbing her hand, she looked her over. "Mom, I wish you hadn’t had to come into all of this. If anything happened to you…" Trunks shook his head, unable to fathom the world without Bulma Briefs in it.

"Quit being a baby," his father snapped in irritation. "You mother is more than capable of handling herself." With a snort, he stepped away from them, unwilling to admit that he, himself, had feared she might be injured. "Did you say that Gero was in the next room?"

"Yes," she nodded. "That’s what Dad told me." She glanced at Trunks, shooting him a smile. "Are you alright, son?" She reached up to the smooth the soft lavender hair from his face.

"I’m ready for this to be over," Trunks said sincerely, voice thick with smoke, and heavy with exhaustion. Hardened warrior or not, it felt good to have her treat him like a child. His father might scoff at him, and scream that he was full of weakness, and perhaps he was, still Trunks couldn’t deny that having his mother look after him, albeit briefly, made him feel good. Perhaps it was because his childhood had been so filled with horror. There had been few moments for him to really be his age, and let this Bulma’s counterpart mother him. It would be different in this time line; he would make sure of it. His younger version would know a peace he’d never had.

"It will be soon, Trunks, for all of us. I promise you." Bulma smiled up at him, sweeping her blue eyes over the features that were so much like his father’s. He might have her coloring, but he was definitely his father’s son.

"Quit coddling the boy, Bulma," Vegeta growled. "I’m going to go and kill Gero, and get this over with now.

"Vegeta," Bulma began, watching as he turned impatiently back to her. The time for his softness was past. He was once again, the proud, ruthless warrior, and he had a job to do. She nodded once. "I’ll find Chi-Chi and get out of here. You both…take care."

Vegeta stared at her for a moment, sending her something of his feelings for her through their bond. He had no idea what he would say to her, or how…but in this one moment, it seemed like a good idea to let her feel something. Take care, woman. Turning from her, he stalked from the room in search of his prey.

"I’ll watch out for him, Mom," Trunks murmured into her ear, bending to give her a hug. "You find Chi-Chi, and get out of here like you said. There’ll be less distraction for him—for us, if you aren’t here."

"I will, but Trunks, you have to know this. There is a mainframe below us. If I’m right Gero probably has most of his robotic systems hooked up to it. I haven’t destroyed it yet, but you need to go and check it out. Have your father blow it up." Bulma gripped his arms tightly, staring intently into his glowing blue eyes.

"I’ll go check it out. But first I have to help Dad. You take care, Mom. Promise?" Giving her a quick grin, Trunks wheeled, and followed after his father.

"Be careful, Trunks," Bulma whispered into the empty room. "You have a mother who wants you back home." Sighing, she turned to look about the room. Chi-Chi, she had to find Chi-Chi, and get the hell out of here.


Goku traced the familiar ki signature of Doctor Briefs straight to the lab that Vegeta had told him to go to. To his immense relief, he felt his son’s ki, strong and vibrant, alongside the Doctor. Goku felt like rejoicing. Now, he need only find Chi-Chi and get them both out of here so that he could put an end to Gero’s reign of terror once and for all.

The longing to be whole again, to have his strength back again, was eating at every fiber of his being, and he hoped with his whole heart that he Briefs would be able to administer a cure that would break this disease’s debilitating grip once and for all. He was afraid to believe that it might actually happen this time, but he was optimistic by nature, and found it hard to not get his hopes up.

Reaching the lab, he burst in, taking in the sight of the Doctor and his young son as they stood over a table, perusing various papers. Both looked up as he entered, and Goku felt his heart leap at the sight of Gohan’s wide black eyes as they seemed to light from within at the sight of his father.

"Goku," Briefs said happily, smiling broadly at the sight of the Saiya-jin.

"Dad!" Gohan shouted joyously, before hurtling himself at Goku.

"Gohan," Goku murmured softly, wrapping his arms around the boys shaking shoulders and holding him tightly. Running a hand through the boys long black hair, he felt a smile tug at his lips. "I think you need a haircut, little man."

"Dad," Gohan whispered into the fabric of his father’s gi. "I was so worried about you."

"I’m here now, Gohan." Goku whispered fervently, hugging his son closer. "I’m here now, and everything is going to be alright, I promise." He lifted his head to stare at the Doctor expectantly. "Well, Doctor, do you have anything I can use?"

"Goku, my boy," Briefs said happily. "Gohan and I have found the antidote. I believe that we have actually found the antidote to all of Gero’s biological experiments, plus notes on several more he was working on." Briefs frowned, and his blue eyes mirrored concern. "Goku, you must end Gero’s life today. He cannot be allowed to implement these things on anything living."

"If you have the cure for this sickness, I guarantee that Gero won’t live to harm anyone else!" Goku frowned seriously, black eyes flashing. "I gave him a chance years ago to change his ways, and he did nothing with that opportunity except plot and plan to avenge himself. I won’t let him hurt any more innocent people."

"We have the cure, Goku," Briefs smiled gently. "We have the cure."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Gohan piped up in determination, withdrawing from his father’s embrace. "Let’s get this stuff into Dad, so we can end this nightmare."

"Gohan," Goku knelt before his son, staring at him earnestly. "I assume that you have found the cure to whatever Gero gave to Piccolo."

"I think so. Doctor Briefs told me that Piccolo was alive, but sick." Gohan’s eyes shined brightly. "I can’t believe he’s alive, Dad."

"He is, Gohan. I’ve seen him myself, but he is very sick. I need you to go, and take Doctor Briefs, and help him." Goku clutched his son’s shoulders tightly. "I’m counting on you, and so is Piccolo."

"What about Mom?" Gohan asked in concern. "I can’t just leave her here?"

"No, I will find your mother and make sure she is safe. I won’t let anything happen to her." He would die if anything happened to Chi-Chi. She was his rock, the one person he had always been able to count on no matter what. He would deal with Gero, and he would get Chi-Chi out.

"Are you sure, Dad?" Gohan asked, starting expectantly into his father’s eyes. "You are really going to have your hands full."

"There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that your Mom and our friends are safe, Gohan. I swear it." Goku stared back into the soulful black eyes that reminded him so much of Chi-Chi, trying to infuse as much confidence as he could into his somber gaze. It hurt to see his son’s eyes, eyes that by rights should have held all the innocence of a young boy, but were instead filled with all the knowledge of the worst that men could do. His son should be off playing, not fighting for his life yet again.

"All right, Dad," Gohan nodded gravely.

"Good!" Goku stood, eyeing Briefs cautiously. "Are you ready, Doctor?" He felt his face pale at the sight of the needle the Doctor held in his hand. Oh no, not a needle. He could take anything but a shot. His knees shook, and he fought the urge to swoon. This was what he had to do to regain his strength. What had he expected?

"Dad?" Gohan looked at his father in concern. "Are you alright?"

"Do you have to stick me with that?" Goku whined, backing up into the chair. "I don’t like shots, Doctor Briefs."

"I know, Goku, but there is nothing I can do about this. It’s the only option." Briefs took a step towards Goku, readying the needle. "You do wish to regain your strength?"

"Come one, Dad." Gohan smiled reassuringly at his father. "Aren’t you always telling me to face my fears?"

Goku swallowed painfully, knees buckling as he fell hard into the chair, the Doctor right before him, needle held up menacingly in front of his face.

"Close your eyes, Goku," Briefs said calmly, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "It’ll be over in a matter of seconds."

"Oh…" Goku whimpered, forcing himself to sit steady. He had to do this, he had to do this. Watching a bit of the antidote spray from the tip of the needle, Goku bit his lip and turned away, shaking like a leaf. He could do this.

Briefs inserted the needle into the tanned flesh of Goku’s arm, doing his best to try to soothe the terrified Saiya-jin. It floored him to see this man who had faced many demons in his life, quaking with fear at the sight of a needle. It defied logic, and it was something he would never be able to rationally understand. Vegeta didn’t have a problem with needles, and he wasn’t sure why Goku did.

"Oh…" Goku whispered again, eyes bright and wide, before slumping over in the chair.

"Dad!" Gohan yelled, grabbing his father’s hand.

"It’s all right, Gohan," Briefs said gently, bestowing a slight smile at the boy as he pushed the healing fluid into Goku’s vein. "He’s just passed out from fright. Your father has never liked needles."

"I suppose you’re right." Gohan said shaking his head. "I guess it was pretty brave of him to sit here and take it the way he did. The last time, he ran screaming down the hall of the hospital, and Mom had to knock him out."

"Yes," Briefs chuckled. ‘I seem to remember Bulma telling me about that." With a shake of his head, Briefs withdrew the needle. "I suppose this will take a few minutes to take affect." Watching Goku, he imagined the antidote was already racing through Goku’s internal systems, heating his blood, and reawakening the power that had lain dormant for so long.

"So what do we do now?" Gohan asked, looking up at the Doctor.

"We wait, son. We wait."


Eriadne watched Gero smile smugly at her brother as he advanced on him. It was then that the door burst open, and a huge, mohawked man entered. Another artificial human by the look of him, she would bet her life on it. He was absolutely huge, though surprisingly, he seemed to lack the menace that the majority of Gero’s army seemed to wear on their personas like a genetic stamp. She wasn’t sure why she thought that. His size alone was intimidating, but yet something told her that this artificial human was different.

"Juurokugou!" Gero snapped. "What took you so long?" The old man shot a smug glance at Juunanagou. "Now you will pay for your insolence. "

"Whose this?" Juunanagou turned his dispassionate gaze towards the intruder, letting his blue eyes slide over the mammoth man. "Whose the behemoth?"

"I have no idea, and I don’t care!" Carelessly, Juuhachi shoved a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "Quit staring at him. I want Gero dead now!"

"Oh, all right," Juunana sighed. "I swear, you are so impatient. Catching sight of Eriadne watching on from behind them, he threw her a quick, teasing grin. "I doubt the big guy could give me a run for my money anyway."

"We’ll see about that!" Gero snapped. "Juurokugou, kill them!"

Juurokugou turned his empty gaze slowly towards the Doctor, and it was then that Eriadne saw the small spark of life. There was more to this machine than met the eye. What had Gero done differently? To her amazement, the giant shook his head, denying Gero his desire.

"I have no interest in destroying them. I have been programmed to kill Goku, and Goku only. I will not fight them." He turned his head back to Juuhachi and Juunana regarding them with sparkling eyes.

"What?" Gero roared in disbelief, staggering forward. "How dare you refuse to do my bidding? You were programmed to kill whatever I told you to!"

Juunana tossed back his head, laughing heartily. "It looks like you outfoxed yourself, Doctor. With an evil smirk, Juunana closed the distance between them, Juuhachi flanking him. "That’s really too bad. We both know that you aren’t going to be much of a challenge to me."

"Juurokugou! I order you to kill them!" Panicked, Gero took a step back. "Do it now!" He roared as Juunanagou drew closer. No, he couldn’t let this happen! He couldn’t die now! He had too much left to accomplish. These were his creations. He was there God. "Don’t come any closer!" He yelled at Juunanagou, before turning his black eyes on Eriadne. "This is all your fault, stupid brat! You’ve filled their heads with nonsense. They were nothing until I took them and made them what they are! They owe me their lives! And their strength. If I die, there will be no one to control them!" Backed against the wall, he stared with wide, black eyes at the approaching twins. "Stop this foolishness, now! You need me. If you let me go now, I won’t disable you for all of this. I’ll make improvements, make you stronger."

"Oh, you will never disable us again, Doctor." Juunana’s eyes went cold, and his lip curled disdainfully. "I already know that."

"Juurokugou! Please, kill them now, save me. I gave you life! I—" Gero pleaded.

His words were cut off as the door slid open again, revealing the scowling figure of the Saiya-jin Prince. "Vegeta…" he whispered.

Juurokugou fixed his passionless eyes on Gero, taking his measure, ignoring Vegeta’s presence. Gero had given him life, true, but…he had been programmed only to find and kill Goku. His mouth turned down menacingly at the thought of Goku. He could sense him near…close. He would destroy him. "I will not." He intoned gravely.

"Nice of you to drop in, Vegeta," Juunanagou threw over his shoulder. "Have you come to fight too? I’ll be happy to kick your ass again. Just give me a second."

Gero tried to use the diversion to escape. He slithered to the side, thinking that he might have a window of opportunity to get out, but found his path blocked by the placid countenance of Juuhachigou. "Leave me alone," He rasped, backing up once again.

"Going somewhere, Doctor?" Juuhachi smiled coolly, blue eyes sinister. "I didn’t think so." Her hand rose and descended in an action faster than the eye could see. Chopping down, Juuhachi watched impassively as her hand took Gero’s head from his body, sending it flying through the air. His body stood for a moment, blood spouting copiously from the wound before finally slumping downwards, the knees buckling lifelessly from under him, falling to the floor with a thud. "Good night, Doctor. " She said coolly. Casting a glance at her brother, she felt something she wasn’t sure she had ever really experienced before in her life. It was over. Their servitude to Gero was finally over, and she felt free.

"Nice hit, sis," Juunanagou smiled benignly at her. "Did you see that, Vegeta? She took care of my business for me. Look at how she made the Doctor’s head bounce." Juunanagou turned towards the scowling Saiya-jin Prince who merely inclined his head impatiently. "I guess this means you get to fight me. It’ll be fun to send you straight to hell."

"As if you could," Vegeta snorted arrogantly, masking his shock at Gero’s sudden death. "You are merely a bag of bolts, and I’ll be happy to blow you to pieces. He stared at the lifeless form of Gero on the floor. Why had they killed him? Why had it been that easy to get rid of Gero?

Eriadne stared in revulsion at the dead form of Gero, fighting the urge to throw up. The madman was dead! He could no longer take innocent children from their homes and experiment on them, or alter people to fit his skewed vision of the world and what it should be. He was dead! Her siblings were free! They no longer had to do his evil bidding any longer. Watching them, she saw Juunana level Vegeta with a deadly smile. She couldn’t let them hurt Vegeta, though. This was Trunks father, and she owed both him and Bulma. He had fathered Trunks for heaven’s sake. He couldn’t be all bad. "Please, don’t fight him!" She yelled at her brother.

"Be quiet, girl!" Vegeta snapped, taking a step towards Juunanagou. "I told you that I would kill them both. Be glad that I don’t end your pathetic existence as well." Vegeta’s voice shook with anger, remembering her betrayal of his wife.

"Shall we start?" Juunana smiled frostily at Vegeta. "It is going to feel so good killing you."

Vegeta chuckled, readying himself for battle." Give it your best shot," he sneered arrogantly.

"Oh, I will," Juunana grinned. "Don’t you worry about that."

Trunks burst into the room, eyes taking in first Gero, laying headless and dead on the floor, his father lowered into battle stance, preparing to fight, and then Eriadne, standing alone in the corner, blue eyes wide with concern. "Dad!" He cried out, never taking his eyes from her face.

"Trunks," Eriadne whispered softly, relief flooding through her at the sight of him. He was all right.

"Stand back, brat!" Vegeta growled. "This is my battle!"

"Ready or not, Vegeta, here I come!" Juunanagou launched himself at Vegeta.

Trunks slipped towards Eriadne, ignoring the presence of Juuhachi, who stood off to the side watching her brother as he engaged Vegeta in a flurry of hits and kicks. He had to kill her, and he would challenge her momentarily. It was the only way he would be able to regain his peace of mind. But first, he had to see Eriadne.

"Trunks," Eriadne slipped into his arms, welcoming the familiar heated strength of his body against hers. "They killed Gero, Trunks. He’s dead."

"Good," he whispered passionately into her hair. "It’s the one good thing they’ve done with themselves."

"Don’t kill them, Trunks. Please…" Eriadne broke off, lifting her head to stare tearfully into his face. "They have to have at least a chance to change."

"I have to, Eriadne. After what she did to me—" Trunks broke off, glancing away. He wouldn’t admit to her what Juuhachi had managed to get from him. "They have to atone for all the harm they’ve done people." He whispered again. "I don’t want to hurt you, I don’t want to see you suffer, but what Gero did is irreversible. There is no going back for them." Pulling away, he stared sorrowfully at her.

"Trunks," Eriadne pleaded, reaching a hand to him.

Smiling sadly at her, Trunks turned, ready to face Juuhachi. "I’m sorry," he said softly to himself again. "I wish things could have been different…for you, for me…" He paused. "For both of us."


It hadn’t taken her long to find Chi-Chi’s prone form lying atop a gurney in a darkened corner of the room. Bulma had been very happy with the initial discovery of her friend. Now that she had found her, what was she supposed to do with her? She had tried for the better part of ten minutes to rouse her, but whatever Gero had given her had done its job. Chi-Chi was out cold. So that left her with a huge dilemma. She couldn’t just leave the woman here, though the desire to run was great. The strong sense of dread that she had been feeling since she had first arrived in the lab was steadily growing stronger, and Bulma just knew that there was danger close by.

"Shit, what am I supposed to do now?" Vegeta would kill her if she stayed here, and she couldn’t afford to distract him…not now.

"That’s a good question. What are you going to do?" The quiet, whispery menace of the voice stood the fine hairs of her neck on end, and Bulma felt her blood run cold at the familiar cadence of the tones. She turned slowly, trying to ignore the sharp burst of panic that was suddenly blooming in her stomach.

"Costa…" She whispered breathily, unable to swallow past the thick lump of dread that had suddenly clogged her throat. Fighting to keep control, she allowed her eyes to sweep over his disheveled form. He stood tall, yet she noticed his pallor was a pale white, and sweat ran in rivulets down his face. Was he sick, or had he finally snapped? She’d wager her life that he had lost what little of his mind he had left to the depths of insanity. It seemed to permeate the air around him, and his eyes… Bulma swallowed hard again at the sight of his eyes. Dark black circles rimmed them, and the whites were shot through with red, lending him an almost demonic look. The sight of him left her struggling to breath.

His eyes traveled the length of her, and she watched as a cold smile spread across his features. "Hello sweetling," he rasped coldly. "It is good to see you again." His eyebrows raised, and he took a step towards her.

Bulma skittered back, panic flaring new. She had to get away from him, from his looming form, from his ugly face, and fetid breath. She couldn’t go through this again. She had to find Vegeta. "Don’t touch me!" She managed to croak out through a dry mouth. Swallowing thickly, she backed herself against a wall, frantically searching for Vegeta in her mind.

Costa smiled, closing the distance between them quickly. Behind him, she could see the cat creature, and a woman…someone she had never seen before. "What’s the fun in that?" He said mockingly, bracing his arms on either side of her.

"Please…" Bulma whispered, noticing that the cat creature held the tranquilizer guns. "No," she whispered to herself. She couldn’t let them do that to Vegeta again. He would never be able to fight back if the drugged him. She had to warn him. She had to get a hold of herself and face Costa bravely; otherwise, Vegeta would pay the price.

"Please what?" Costa’s hand reached out, and she felt it slide through her hair, tangling in the blue silk as he jerked her roughly towards him.

Vegeta! She cried in her mind, searching for him. Vegeta, Costa…he’s here, and he has some more of the drug. She could feel Costa as he bent his head towards her neck, and she fought to keep the bile from filling her mouth. Legs quaking, she struggled to free herself from him, aiming a hard blow to his crotch. Vegeta…

"Stand still, bitch!" He rasped angrily, jerking her head back viciously as he barely avoided the knee she had aimed at his groin. "Let me see the mark that I put on you. Tell me, did Vegeta enjoy the sight of it?"

"I don’t have your mark, you bastard. " Bulma hissed, fury filling her at his words, replacing the fear. "I bear his." She gasped as he ripped at her shirt, exposing her neck.

Chuckling, Costa stared at the mark that marred Bulma’s throat. "The bastard had more balls than I thought he did. Well, we can always undo this…when Vegeta is lying at death’s door at my feet. Imagine his pain as the proud Saiya-jin Prince witnesses his mate claimed by another man before his very eyes. Should make his death even more excruciating." Continuing to chuckle, Costa swept a finger over Bulma’s trembling lip. "Don’t fret so. I promise that we will be together very soon. I’m going to be a King, and I will make you, the spoils of victory over Vegeta, my most favored concubine." Bending his mouth towards her, he held her struggling form still. "Why don’t we go and find Vegeta now, little sweetling, so that I can begin his suffering."

Bulma fought like a wildcat, fighting his grip as his mouth descended to hers. She had to get away, she had to fight him and get away. Like a spark, she felt him then, lingering on the outskirts of her mind, and she screamed his name in her mind, praying that she might catch his attention.

Aiming her knee, she caught Costa unawares, and watched as he doubled over in pain, sliding to his knees. Trying to shoot past him, she gasped as his hand encircled her ankle, tripping her. Landing hard on the floor, Bulma gasped as the air was knocked from her lungs.

Costa grunted in pain, but managed to hang on to her as she began to twist and kick in his grip. Hauling himself up, he watched in shock as the wall to his left blew apart, and Vegeta, the very prey he sought, came flying through, coming to a stop against the opposite wall. "Vegeta…" he growled, yanking again at the woman that he battled. "Refallo!" He snapped, eyes blazing. "Get that damn drug ready!"

Refallo stared down at Costa, and then at the Prince, whose eyes had grown wide at the sight of them. He watched the black eyes of the Saiya-jin Prince as they took in the sights before him: his woman struggling like a tigress to free herself from Costa, the man who had stolen his strength and stolen his pride. Refallo watched the realization hit the Prince of just what was happening, and he watched the black eyes darken in intensity, and grow still colder as he stood and shook the rubble from his body. "Costa…" he growled in a deadly voice, black eyes cold and empty. "I will kill you."

"Nice move, Vegeta," Juunana stepped through the rubble, interrupting the moment. "But as you can see, I have one that is better."

"Vegeta!" Bulma screamed his name. "Watch out, he has the drug!" Costa’s fist doubled, and landed hard on her jaw, silencing her.

Vegeta started forward, fury filling him, washing over him in thick black waves, drowning him with its intensity. "How dare you touch her? " He roared, mindless in the rage that held him in its unrelenting grip.

"Shoot the damn drug in him!" Costa roared, scrambling to his feet.

Refallo hesitated, misery filling him. He had served Costa for many years, stood with him for many years in his quest to see Vegeta brought to justice for all that he had done in Frieza’s name, but this…this was not justice. The look of raw emotion in the Prince’s eyes as he had seen his woman in mortal danger, before he had masked it haunted Refallo. Those were not the eyes of a man who was a cold-blooded killer. They were the eyes of a man that loved, and it was wrong to use that love, to use an innocent woman in such a dishonorable way. If they did that, they were no better than the monster they had come to slay. The monster that seemed to no longer exist. "Costa…" Refallo began. "This isn’t right, there has to be a better way—" His words were cut off into a whispered gurgle, as Costa’s hand gripped his neck with bone crushing force. His vision dimmed, and Refallo struggled to breath, to free himself, harsh realization filling his mind, even as Costa choked the life from him. "C—Cos—ta…" he choked out painfully, before the blackness threatening to take him finally engulfed him. The tranquilizer gun fell to the floor with a loud clatter

"I do not have time for your feelings of guilt," Costa rasped, aware of Vegeta’s close proximity. It would take a moment for the drug to take affect, and the look on Vegeta’s face promised murder. He was not as strong as the Prince, the drug was the only way he could beat him, and it was the only way that Nappa could be fully avenged. Tossing Refallo’s limp body carelessly aside, Costa bent to retrieve the gun.

Vegeta felt his rage grow as he stalked across the room towards Costa. He wanted him to know fear; he wanted him to know that his death approached, for he would rip him apart, one piece at a time. The old rage gripped him, the rage that he had lived with while under Frieza, engulfing his mind as he recalled his earlier humiliation at the lower, half-Saiya-jin’s hand. It was bad enough that he had been forced to serve Frieza, that his will had been stolen from him then, but to have this dirty low-class strip him of his pride was more than he could handle. Not only that, but Costa had dared to touch, to mark what was his, enflaming the instinctual Saiya-jin nature to protect what was his. Bulma lay safely on the floor, away from the bastard, and now it was time to kill him. Vegeta was almost upon Costa when Juunana landed a hard punch to his jaw, snapping his head back.

"Did you forget we were fighting?" Juunana scowled in his face. "I don’t know who these other people are, but you don’t get off that easily, Vegeta."

Growling, he turned back to Juunana, determined to finish the bastard off so he could get to Costa and see him dead. The sound of Bulma’s scream filled his head again, reminding him of all that she had gone through at the hands of Nappa’s bastard brother, and he released a vicious flurry of hits on Juunana. The drug mattered little. His time of training in the Room of Spirit and Time had changed everything. He could overcome any drug that Costa shot at him, he knew it.

Costa smiled at Vegeta’s distraction, as he aimed the gun. The fool was blithely ignoring the drug that he had. That was just like the arrogant Prince. Costa sneered with pleasure. It would be his downfall. Aiming the gun, Costa wrapped his finger around the trigger, savoring the feel of it before he began to squeeze it. A hand gripping his arm, jerking it back, made his first shot go wild and he turned angrily to the person that had stopped him—Tannia.

"You can’t beat him this way," she forced through dry lips, refusing to shrink back from the ominous sight of his ugly face. That her father had thought to give her to this man sickened her. Madness surrounded him like a thick blanket, and seeing the way he had so casually killed Refallo, the being that had served him so faithfully, had left her ill.

"How dare you?" He rasped through teeth he clenched together so tightly, she could hear the bones grind against each other. She shuddered, taking a stumbling step back.

"I dare because I want you dead," Tannia snapped, losing whatever sense she had left. "You are mad, and you disgust me." She didn’t flinch as his hand descended across her jaw, sending her flying through the air. Through the pain that spread through her face from his blow, she managed to stay conscious. There had to be a way to defeat this sick bastard. She wouldn’t be able to do it if she let him kill her.

"Stupid bitch!" Costa rasped disdainfully, turning his attention back towards Vegeta. "I’ll take great pleasure in teaching you some manners after this is all over. Aiming the gun again, he squeezed the trigger, hitting his target who was locked in mortal combat with Gero’s flunky.

Vegeta felt the needle of the tranquilizer dart hit him, and he cursed. He was positive that he could overcome the drug’s effects. He had been able to before with little problem, but as the second dart him, filling him with even more of the drug, he began to worry. He couldn’t avoid them both. His battle with Juunana was taking all his attention. He felt his heart thud painfully in his chest as his movements slowed, leaving him open and vulnerable to Juunanagou’s lethal punches.

Costa watched from below, smiling as each dart he fired hit true. Dropping the gun, he made his way to Bulma, who lay unmoving on the floor. Bending down, he watched from the corner of his eye as Vegeta was sent into the floor beside them. Smiling maliciously, he tossed her over his shoulder, hateful black eyes never leaving the dulled black orbs of Vegeta, who struggled to get back up. "Catch me if you can, Vegeta," he laughed maniacally.

Vegeta watched in horror as Costa retreated from his sight, Bulma tossed like a bag of potatoes over his shoulder. His heart shattered as he tried to move, and found himself rooted to the floor like a vegetable, unable to move. "Bulma…" he cried, feeling fear permeate him at what she might have to endure. Struggling, he managed to stand, aware of Juunana’s hovering presence.

"Looks like you’re beaten, Vegeta," Juunana laughed, crossing his arms over his chest.

He had to reach Bulma, he had to find her and get her away from Costa. Struggling to take a step, Vegeta flared back to Super Saiya-jin, readying a blast. He had to get rid of Juunana once and for all. "FINAL FLASH!" He bellowed out, tapping into his remaining strength. He watched as Juunana was blown backwards away from him.

Uncaring of whether he had finished the bastard bucket of bolts, Vegeta staggered after Costa. He had to find her; he had to get her away from Costa. Bulma, he whispered into her mind, not knowing if she could hear him or not, but hoping that she could. I’m coming Bulma.

* * * * *

Coming Soon: The final battle between Vegeta and Costa…Trunks faces down Juuhachigou and Juunanagou…Goku steps into the fray


Table of Contents
Chapter 12
Chapter 14