Disclaimer: DBZ nor do any of its characters belong to me.
Chapter 12- Reunion & Revelation
Bulma parked her car in front of the Son residence. She exhaled as she looked about at her surroundings. It had been a while since she had set foot on Goku and Chi Chi's property, namely about a month ago when she had told Chi Chi about her relationship with Vegeta.
Bulma thought back to that uncomfortable day. After Chi Chi's initial shock wore off she
started trying to convince Bulma of her error in placing her affections on Vegeta. She at first approached it as if Bulma had let her emotions cloud her better judgment and that she had to talk some sense into her friend by reminding her of how evil and terrible Vegeta was. Bulma had naturally defended her love and a heated argument had developed. Bulma, as she usually did when she was in a rage, said some pretty nasty things. Chi Chi retaliated by banishing Bulma from her property and her presence "until she came to her senses and stopped seeing that murderer".
Bulma caught her breath as she neared the front door. "Well," she thought to herself summoning up enough courage to knock "I'm here to ask for Goku's help and not to talk to her so I just need to concentrate on that and deal with the situation. Even if Chi Chi has told him about Vegeta and I I'm sure that Goku will help me."
Bulma gulped nervously as the door opened. Suddenly she was face-to-face with Chi Chi. The two women stared at each other in silence for a moment. Chi Chi's surprise was evident but Bulma also sensed something else in the silence. "At least she doesn't seem to be angry with me," Bulma thought to herself.
"Hi Chi Chi" Bulma said, "I'd like to speak to Goku please."
Chi Chi couldn't believe her eyes or ears. "Bulma looks awful" Chi Chi thought to herself "Her face looks worn and drawn and she looks as if she hasn't gotten much sleep. Something must have happened and I'm sure that Vegeta had something to do with it."
"Goku isn't here right now, Bulma. " Chi Chi answered.
'Oh," Bulma said disappointedly. "Could you ask him to call me when he comes home?"
"Sure." Chi Chi answered. "I'm not sure when he'll be back though. It's been over a month since I saw them last. The androids are supposed to arrive only a year from now and I have a feeling that Goku and Gohan will be training a lot from now on and for longer periods of time. The truth is that I'm not sure when I'll see them again." .She couldn't help but notice how upset Bulma seemed at this news and her heart went out to her friend. "Why don't you come in?" Chi Chi said venturing a bit of a smile.
"Are you sure?" Bulma said taken a bit aback by the invitation.
"Of course I'm sure," Chi Chi said warmly taking Bulma's hand. She led Bulma into the kitchen and pointed to a chair at the table. Bulma sat as ordered to as Chi Chi walked over to the teakettle on the stove. "Would you care to have some tea Bulma? I was just about to have some myself."
"I'd like that" Bulma answered. As Chi Chi poured the hot liquid and handed her the cup the familiarity of the moment struck her. "How many times have Chi Chi and I gossiped over a pot of tea?" Bulma silently wondered, " I can't believe that I'm in Chi Chi's kitchen again and that Chi Chi is actually being nice to me."
"Chi Chi" Bulma ventured, "I just want you to know that I'm sorry for saying all of those nasty things last time. I was angry but you have a right to feel the way you do about Vegeta."
Chi Chi was glad to hear the apology but not the connotation that Bulma was evidently still involved with Vegeta. " I just can't understand how it could've happened, " she pondered wordlessly. "Well, I can understand why Vegeta would be attracted to Bulma but not Bulma's attraction to him. He terrifies me and most everybody else except for Goku. How in the world could Bulma possibly be in love with the monster that nearly killed my family and her friends? Hopefully, she'll come to her senses and realize she's playing with fire. Bulma is my friend, and one of Goku's dearest friends, and I don't want to see her get hurt. "
"I also said some pretty nasty things and I'm sorry if I hurt you" Chi Chi began cautiously after an uncomfortable pause. "It was just such a surprise. You're not the type to jump into things so quickly. You'd not really known him for very long. He just seems so cold and severe."
"Not to mention he's arrogant, selfish and power hungry," Bulma agreed to Chi Chi's surprise. "Don't worry Chi Chi I know that he's no angel but that doesn't stop me from caring for him."
Bulma and Chi Chi quietly sipped their tea. They both were still uneasy but the strain wasn't as bad as it was before.
"Chi Chi, can I ask you a question?" Bulma queried warily.
"Sure" Chi Chi answered looking up from her teacup.
"Have you ever gotten a feeling that told you that Goku was in danger or hurt?" Bulma asked mysteriously.
"That's an odd question Bulma" Chi Chi said eyeing her with fearful curiosity.
"I know" Bulma said with a pleading look in her eyes "but, please, humor me."
"Well," Chi Chi said uncertainly "I have at times had a feeling like that about both Goku and Gohan but they usually come back alright so I've always supposed that it was my imagination."
"What do you mean by 'they usually come back alright?" Bulma said with slight trepidation.
"Well," Chi Chi began uncomfortably "there were a couple of times when my feeling did turn out to be right."
"When?" Bulma asked.
"Why are you asking me this Bulma?" Chi Chi asked. "I don't really like talking about it."
"Please, Chi Chi" Bulma pleaded. "I need to know. I promise I'll tell you why but I need to know first."
Chi Chi conceded with a deep breath. "The first time was when you all went to have your reunion and this craziness started. I was washing the dishes at the sink when suddenly I got this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach and a slight pain in my heart and I just knew something had happened to Goku. I shrugged the feeling off and assumed I was worrying over nothing. Even when he didn't come home with Gohan that night I just told myself he was being irresponsible and nothing was wrong. Then the next day when Muten Roshi told me that he had died I realized that's what I had felt."
"And the other time?" Bulma prompted.
"The other time was when they were fighting the probe. I got the same sort of feeling about Gohan and then Goku called me from the hospital saying that he had almost died" Chi Chi said nearing tears.
"So the only times you felt like that they were dead or came close to dying," Bulma stated in fear.
Chi Chi couldn't help but hear the frightened tone in Bulma's voice and looked up at her. "Bulma are you okay?" Chi Chi asked in concern "You look so pale. What's wrong Bulma? Why did you ask me those questions?"
"It's just I got the same sort of feeling you described about Vegeta last night" she said trying not to cry.
"And that's why you came here, isn't it?" Chi Chi asked finally understanding.
"Yes," Bulma answered, "Goku seems to be able to sense him better than anyone else can and I want him to help me find him. Not to mention the fact that everyone else is either away training Kami knows where or won't speak to me."
Chi Chi watched her friend and saw the same feelings running through her that she had so often experienced over Goku. "You really love him don't you?" Chi Chi asked.
"More than anything" Bulma said beginning to cry, "I know that you don't want to believe it but there is a gentle and good side to Vegeta. He hides it because something in his life has made him believe it's a weakness. I know you can't understand Chi Chi and I don't expect anyone else to either."
Chi Chi reached out and touched Bulma on the shoulder. "I know you Bulma and I'm sure that you couldn't care for someone who was completely black-hearted. Goku also seems to have a lot of faith in him as well and he's always been a good judge of character."
"Chi Chi," Bulma whimpered as she burst into tears, "If anything's happened to him I don't know what I'll do."
"There, there Bulma" Chi Chi said embracing her sobbing friend. "I'm sure everything's alright. That man is much too ornery and stubborn to let anything happen to him."
"Thanks Chi Chi" Bulma laughed hugging her friend back as she continued to cry.
"I'm so sorry Bulma" Chi Chi said. "I didn't mean to push you away like I did before. Friends are supposed to stick by each other no matter what and I forgot that selfishly."
"It's okay" Bulma said sniffing back her remaining tears. "I don't expect anyone to be happy about Vegeta and I getting together."
"What matters the most is that you're happy," Chi Chi said. "From now on I don't want you to hesitate to talk to me about anything. I'll be here for you."
"Thank you" Bulma said smiling at her friend grateful that she at least had her support.
Just then the phone rang and Chi Chi excused herself to answer it.
For a moment Bulma tuned out Chi Chi's conversation pondering over whether-or-not she should tell Chi Chi of her pregnancy. However, Bulma soon noticed that she seemed to be speaking to a General Boom Boom explaining how Goku was gone and that she didn't know when he'd be back. The name stirred a memory. "Isn't that the man that was in charge of the military force when Nappa and Vegeta came to earth?" Bulma asked herself. "I wonder why he would want to speak to Goku?"
"Excuse me Chi Chi" Bulma said tapping her friend on the shoulder. Her gut feeling told her to speak to the general and since she had been following her instincts so far in this matter she thought she might as well continue letting them guide her. After all, what did she have to loose?
Mirai Trunks reached out with his senses fully opened. He was searching for any Ki at all but he couldn't feel anything. There were two possibilities for the reason he couldn't sense his mother's Ki. Firstly, if his mother was in hiding and she probably had the Ki Suppressing Shield up which would prevent him from finding her. Secondly, she was dead. Trunks refused to believe the second option and kept on with his search.
He'd already checked the underground at the Capsule Corporation and she wasn't there. It was clear that she had taken some of her technology and damaged some of the equipment to prevent the androids from using it. Not having found her in the most obvious place he decided to search every inch of West Capital City until he found her.
So far his search had been less than successful and the city's pitiful condition distressed him. It was in worse condition than he had expected. Piles of rubble and partially standing structures instead of the buildings he remembered lined the streets that he was walking down. Hardly anything was left and the air reeked of death and decay. The androids certainly had taken advantage of his absence.
Suddenly he sensed a weak Ki nearby and he concentrated on zeroing in on its location. Having narrowed it down to what left standing of the hospital he flew to it's nearest crumbling wall and slipped inside through a crack in it. He found he was in an empty operating room.
Trunks unsheathed his sword. There was always the possibility that the owner of the Ki was up to no good and wouldn't appreciate his presence so it was best to be prepared for anything.
He continued down the corridors steadily making his way toward the weak source of Ki. As he came closer to the medical supply room he heard the sounds of somebody sloppily rummaging through the items inside.
Trunks quickly opened up the door with a swift kick and took a fighting stance with his blade in front of him as he entered the room. He flinched as the small girl he found inside let out a high-pitched squeal of fear. She dropped handfuls of bandages and bottles of sterilizer on the floor as she grabbed the ladder on which she perched to catch her balance. Trunks felt incredibly ashamed of himself for having frightened her.
"Look" he said putting his sword away "See I'm not going to hurt you. I'm sorry I scared you."
The small girl looked at him balefully and suspiciously at the same time frozen like a deer in the headlights of an on-coming car. Trunks took a moment to peruse the child that fearfully stared at him. Her pale face was dominated by a pair of brilliant, but sad, green eyes, her red hair was dirty and dishelved, and her blue dress was covered in dried, caked blood. She seemed familiar somehow probably because he'd seen dozens of children like her over the years who had lost everything. Despite this fact the girl's pitiful condition broke his heart.
It was obvious the child had evidently had never seen him before so he had to win her over if he was going to help her. Winning over frightened children wasn't one of his strong suits. That was his mother's department. Trunks smiled at her. "Maybe you can tell me what you're doing in here and I can help."
She looked at him woefully and then turned and started gathering a handful of the supplies. He sighed and bent over and picked up what she had dropped before. "I'm not sure what you want these for but I'll help you take them wherever you're going."
"Put them in the box" she whispered pointing to a cardboard box that was as big as she was.
Trunks walked over and saw all manner of medical supplies in the box that had just been thrown in. There was more than enough there to treat several people. "Is someone hurt?" he asked her.
"Yes" she squeaked making her way down the latter carefully. She then walked over to the box and dumped them in. When she went to walk back to the shelves Trunks gently grabbed her arm.
She turned and looked at him in fear. Trunks knelt down in front of her as he'd often seen his mother do with small children. "I want to help you but I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong" he earnestly told her. She looked like she just might say something for a moment but then looked away shyly. "Look kid" he said, "I know you're scared but you're here trying to help someone and that means you're very brave. I need someone brave to help me find my mom."
The little girl looked up at him in surprise and curiosity. "You want me to help you?"
"Good" Trunks thought to himself "Now how do I keep her talking?" He thought for a moment before he continued. "That's right" he began "I 'll help you and you'll help me. Is it a deal?"
"Okay" she answered timidly.
"Now I think you have enough supplies. Who are they for?"
"The lady" the said beginning to tear up "she's hurt. She can't walk."
Upon hearing "a lady" mentioned a strange realization came over him. This girl looked like the one in his dream. "Do you know her name?' he asked her.
"Yes" the girl, said, "It's Bulma and I'm Flora."
Spontaneously he hugged the child. "You know what kid" he said to the startled girl "The lady you're trying to help is my mom."
"You're Trunks" she exclaimed with an awed sort of smile.
"That's right Flora," he said returning the gesture "Now let's get the box and you can take me to her. Okay?"
"Okay" the young girl timidly replied as she watch Trunks pick up the box.
"Lead the way fair lady" he said with a cermonious bow.
She smiled again and led him down the hall and outside. He was surprised to discover that the girl had come quite a distance on her own. He was thankful that she didn't seem to talk much. It enabled him to open up his senses and kept alert.
Suddenly Flora stopped and pointed to a building. "There it is," she said.
Trunks couldn't believe his eyes. It was Capsule Corporation. "How could this be right?" he said in surprise "I searched here before and I found nothing!"
"That's because your mom's so smart" she said with the delighted giggle of a child that concealed a secret. She walked up to where there appeared to be nothing and knocked at the air producing a metallic sound. Out of thin air a small crack appeared and steadily grew larger revealing a room behind it.
"Did you get what I asked for?" Trunks heard his mother's voice say from the inside as the girl stepped into the doorway. A smile spread across his face as he felt the relief wash over his heart.
"Yes" Flora answered "and something else too."
Taking this as his cue Trunks stepped through the door.
"Trunks!" Mirai Bulma cried, "What are you doing here?"
"We're here!" the officer said surprising Bulma from her preoccupation with her current worries.
"Thanks" said Bulma getting out of the jeep.
A new guard led her to a large office. General Boom Boom got up and met her at the door. "Ms. Briefs come in," he said.
He closed the door behind them and Bulma took one of the chairs in front of the general's desk before she was invited. She still was feeling very queasy from the jeep ride and felt like she just might pass out if she remained on her feet a moment longer. Not only the motion had gotten to her but also the soldier's hitting on her hadn't helped her head or her stomach.
"Thank you for letting me come" she said to the general forcing a smile.
"It is always a pleasure to have another intelligent mind working on a problem of this magnitude. Especially an uncommonly pretty one" he said giving her what he imagined to be a charming smile. It might not have been a bad smile at that, except for the fact that he didn't bother very much with dental hygiene.
When the general smiled at her with a mouth full of rotten teeth Bulma couldn't hold it down anymore, grabbed the wastebasket and wretched into it.
"Ms. Briefs are you okay?" the general asked her.
"Yes," she answered wiping her mouth and coming up slowly.
"Are you sure?" the general asked.
"I'm fine. Don't worry about me. I'm just pregnant. Now where is the tape you wanted to show me?" Bulma said quickly moving on.
Recovering quickly from his shock that the Capsule Corporation's heir and Vice President was pregnant the general complied and popped a videocassette in the VCR just to the right of his desk. A picture, obviously taken by security cameras, showed an empty computer lab or library of sorts. Suddenly the doors blew in and a figure stepped in the door, turned towards the camera and raised it's hands up toward it preparing a to launch a Ki blast. When the general paused it Bulma gasped in recognition. Although the quality of the video was bad, it was obvious that the culprit was Vegeta.
"Isn't that one of the aliens that landed here that your friends fought?" the general asked her.
"I'm afraid it is" Bulma answered not taking her eyes off the screen fighting off the fresh wave of nausea that had just overcome her. There was something about Vegeta that didn't seem right but she couldn't put her finger on it. Her face contorted in an odd way as she concentrated on figuring out what it was that was bothering her about the picture.
"I thought Son Goku disposed of both of those aliens," the general said.
"Well, not exactly" Bulma said still staring at the video screen with the same odd look on her face. "Goku decided to show this one mercy and let him go. He came back here not too long ago and has reformed."
"Breaking into a military base and stealing secrets is not the sort of thing a reformed person does" the general commented looking at Bulma curiously as she leaned forward in her seat and continued staring intently at the television screen.
"What kind of secrets?" she asked with her eyes still glued to the picture in front of her.
"Weapons mainly" the soldier answered " and a little intelligence."
"This makes absolutely no sense," Bulma said still not having moved her gaze. "Why would he be interested in weapons? His body is a weapon," she added in an undertone to herself not intending to be heard.
"Maybe he wanted to add an arsenal to his physical power," the general suggested in answer to her comment. "After all, artillery far out classes hand to hand combat any day."
Bulma turned and looked directly in the general's eyes a little perturbed she had said what she did out loud. "He's far more powerful than anything you could possibly have in your arsenal. Trust me." After this she turned her attention to the picture on the television once again only this time what was bothering her finally became clear. "He's not smirking," she thought to herself. "His face is blank and expressionless. The Vegeta I know would be enjoying blowing things up with a smirk on his face. Not to mention the fact that I've never known him to wear a leather jacket into battle, and over his armor at that. Something's terribly wrong."
"May I ask what you find so fascinating about this picture?" the general finally asked giving in to his curiosity.
"There was something that didn't seem right about it to me is all" Bulma said quickly. "Don't worry about this" Bulma said, "My friends and I will handle this situation. We'll find out what's going on and get back to you."
"This is military matter and we'll be running the investigation," the general answered smiling.
"There's nothing you can do," she told him. "Believe me you have absolutely no hope of either stopping him or reasoning with him. Leave this to me and I'll get to the bottom of this."
"Reasoning with him? Are you nuts?" the general asked in disbelief.
"No I'm not," Bulma snapped. "He can be reasoned with. He's not as evil as you would like to believe. In fact, I can't think of any reason why he would do something like this and I'm going to find out from him why he would. If it were up to you military people you'd shoot first and ask questions later."
"You're talking like you know this guy pretty well," the General said suspiciously.
"Actually I do," she said in proud defiance "He's been living at my house for almost two years now. I can't see any reason why he'd suddenly start stealing military secrets after behaving himself for so long. " She stood up and showed herself to the door.
"You can't just take over the investigation like this," the general protested. "There are protocols and procedures. Not to mention you have no combat experience."
"Honestly why do you men always think everything is going to come down to a fight!" Bulma scolded. "You can take care of all of the red tape for me and keep the authorities out of my way." Bulma paused and gave him a stern look and a crafty smile. "That is if you still want to use our corporation's technology in the military."
"You can't be serious!" he exclaimed.
"I assure you I am very serious general" Bulma replied in triumph. "My friends and I will take care of this. I'll let you know how things are going soon. Good day, general."
He watched Bulma exit the office in a state of disbelief. "She blackmailed me into taking over the investigation!" he whispered to himself. "I always knew that family was crazy but I had no idea that they were crazy enough to try to assist hostile aliens," he mumbled opening his top drawer and pulling out a bottle of whisky. "They can handle it with my blessing!" He took off the cap raising the bottle in a toast "May you have success even if you are nuts!" he commented taking a long swig from the bottle.
* * * * *
In the next Chapter of Probe…
Bulma discovers the reason for Vegeta’s strange behavior when she receives a surprise visit and, in the future, West End City comes under attack by the androids.
Chapter 13: Bulma’s Ordeal Begins