Disclaimer: Iím making no money off of this story and I do not own DBZ so donít sue me.

Chapter 13- Bulma's Ordeal Begins

Bulma sighed and walked into her private lab. She'd been doing most of her work there during the last week. She had been keeping strange office hours only going there if it was necessary concentrating most of her time and attention on locating Vegeta without anyone else's help.

Her father seemed to be putting up with her absence from work for right now at least. In fact, he seemed to be coddling her. She knew that he pitied her because he thought Vegeta had abandoned her alone and pregnant. She didn't know what was worse, having him shun her because he was angry with her or having him be overly nice because he felt sorry for her.

She was hiding her investigation of Vegeta's apparent rampage (he had attacked several other military bases and stolen their secrets) for obvious reasons. She was certain that the reason Vegeta was doing this was because he was in danger. Her parents would never believe her or understood. She had put in calls to all the z warriors and so far none of them had answered. Whether it was because they were all else where training or, as was probable in Yamcha's case, they just didn't want to help if Vegeta was involved she wasn't sure.

At the moment the only other person who knew of her relationship with Vegeta, besides Chi Chi and her parents, was Yamcha. When she had gotten involved with Vegeta she thought that it would be much better for her to break the news to him herself rather than chance her parents or Vegeta telling him if he dropped by. Yamcha's reaction had been even worse than she had expected. He seemed to believe somewhere deep down that he and Bulma would be getting back together again soon. He accused her of lying to him before when she told him that she had never cheated on him with Vegeta. He next demanded the "truth" from her and, when she refused to tell him what he wanted to hear, then from Vegeta. A physical confrontation ensued which ended in Yamcha having broken several ribs and many bruises. After she drove him to the hospital, he had behaved like a stupid jerk but he didn't deserve to be beaten up in her estimation, he told her he never wanted to talk to her or see her again. He then proceeded to completely drop out sight.

Bulma sighed once again as she sat down at her worktable deep in thought. She didn't feel like doing any real work. She grabbed her latest pet project instead. She had decided to build an alien metal detector. She was certain that where they found the alien technology they'd find Vegeta. When she had tested the blood that she found on her laboratory floor the night the alien technology vanished she discovered that it was Vegeta's. She just knew that the terrible feeling that something had happened to him, the disappearance of the alien technology and his stealing of military secrets were all connected in some way, but she didn't know how.

"That's really very clever you know" Bulma heard a familiar voice say from behind.

"Vegeta?" Bulma questioned swiveling around to face him.

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Mirai Trunks landed and knocked on the invisible door to the gravity room. He had flown back to the ruins of West Capital City from West End City with a sense of urgency spurred on by the ever-present specter of his dreams. The door slid open and he entered the room to find his mother tightening the makeshift splint on her leg.

"You're back much sooner than I expected" Mirai Bulma said.

"I guess so," Trunks answered. He wasn't about to admit to flying there. He still was afraid to leave her alone so he had taken the chance of flying. "It didn't take me long to drop Flora off with Chi Chi."

"Was Flora upset at all?" Bulma inquired looking up at him.

"At first," he answered, "then Chi Chi fed her and talked with her. She seemed to be okay."

"Chi Chi's cooking can win anyone over," Bulma said with a smile.

"Are you ready to get going?" Trunks asked hopefully. picking up the backpack containing the last of Bulma's rescued equipment.

"Not just yet" Bulma said. "I'd like to talk to you about something first."

"Sure mom" he answered looking at her quizzically.

"What's wrong with you Trunks?" Bulma asked him looking up at him seriously.

"What do you mean?" he asked trying to dodge the bullet.

"Don't play dumb with me" Bulma scolded. "You've been acting really nervous and you won't let me out of your sight if you can help it. What's got you so jumpy?"

He sighed and he sat down next to her. His mother had uncanny intuition especially when it came to him and he knew she would force the information out of him eventually. "I've been having a nightmare since I left for the past the last time. In this dream you die when I'm not there to protect you."

"A dream? Is that all?" Bulma asked surprised. "It's not like you to get upset over a dream."

"This dream is different somehow," he said looking her straight in the eyes. "I think it's telling me something about the future."

"Trunks you're making absolutely no sense," Bulma protested. "You know that's impossible."

"Then explain how Flora was in it before I even knew she existed" he countered defensively.

"Flora is in this dream?' she asked in disbelief.

"Yes" Trunks answered.

"Maybe you should tell me about it" Bulma said after a moment of hesitation.

"Alright," he said "but you're not going to like it."

He paused for a moment before he began. Bulma listened to every word intently. It was a disturbing dream but the way Trunks told it made it twice as terrifying. He was near tears at the end when he told of her brave defiance of their enemies to the bitter end. At last when he finished the ominous silence that fell between them frightened her even more than the dream itself. "You've had this dream every night?' Bulma asked him after collecting herself.

"Yes" Trunks answered gravely "I don't like to go to sleep because I know that as soon as I do it will be there again."

Bulma hugged her son. "I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the child in the dream looked like Flora." Bulma reassured him tenderly brushing a lock of his lavender hair out of his eyes. "You shouldn't worry so much."

"I wish I could believe that" the teenager said sadly as he pulled away from her embrace.

"Despite what these dreams have made you think, when we return to West End we have to finish our mission" Bulma told him. "You need to go back to the past and be sure that everything happens as it should. What happens there may not effect us but we can at least be sure that our counterparts have the best chance for a happy future that we can give them."

"I know," he agreed with a nod. "But next time I want you to program it so that I jump back here the exact second that I left."

"Okay" Bulma said with a smile "It's a deal."

"Now let's get going" he said. Trunks got up, donned the backpack, helped his mother up to her feet and draped her arm over his shoulders. They hobbled out of the shelter as he

supported her weight.

"Are you going to disengage the cloak or the Ki shield to the gravity room before we go?" Trunks asked her.

"No" she answered "I thought I'd leave it here as a safe house of sorts. You never know when you might need a good place to hide."

"Good idea" he said smiling warmly. "I think we'd probably get there much faster if I carried you," he said picking her up.

Bulma sighed and mother and son exchanged good-humored glances. "I'll put up with it this once" she told him. "West End or bust!"

The jovial mood was broken when they suddenly found themselves staring at the black cloud looming on the horizon.

"Oh Kami Trunks!" Bulma cried "its West End City!"

"I have to go and help," he hastily said setting her down.

"You're not going without me," Bulma said firmly grasping his shoulder arresting his undivided attention.

"Mother" he said with a look of intensity about him "I'm not taking you into the battle field."

"I'm not staying here," Bulma retorted. "I don't care how old you are Trunks. I'm still your mother and you should do as I say. We don't have time to argue about this now. Just pick me up and let's try to get there before it's too late."

Knowing any fight with his mother was usually a loosing battle Trunks picked Bulma up and they flew as quickly as possible to West End City.

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The figure stood in the shadows at the back of Bulma's lab his silhouette vaguely discernable from the fading light, which poured in the windows from the outside.

"Inventing something to home in on the metal's signature harmonics is an ingenious way to locate the alien technology," the voice next said.

Bulma was confused. The voice sounded like Vegeta's but its tone was strange somehow and it didn't speak the way he did. "Vegeta is that you?" she inquired warily.

The answer she received was for him to step from the shadows. Vegeta looked terrible. It appeared he hadn't changed his clothes since the day she'd last seen him except for the addition of the leather jacket that he wore with the collar turned up despite the heat. He was unkempt and his eyes were bloodshot.

Bulma stood up and approached him cautiously with a small smile but received no response. As she neared him she tentatively reached out to touch him only to have him raise his Ki forcing her to recoil from the heat.

"I'm not here for sentiment" Vegeta said "I'm here because I need you to make the spacecraft flight ready again."

"What?" Bulma asked surprised by his demand.

"You heard what I said woman" he said crossing his arms over his chest and adverting his eyes from hers.

"Why do you need the spaceship?" Bulma asked with concern.

"I'm going on a little trip," Vegeta answered vaguely walking forward a little so that his back was to her.

"Where are you going?" she persisted trying to understand his odd behavior. Although his words sounded like something he'd say they didn't sound sincere. She felt almost like she was conversing with a stranger and that feeling was disturbing.

"Its not necessary for you to know" he replied.

"Not necessary!" Bulma shouted in anger "I'm your mate and I'm pregnant with your child and I have a right to know."

"You overestimate your and the brat's importance. Right now my training is all that matters," Vegeta answered in a stern but hollow voice.

"You're still angry about what I said to you" Bulma said "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."

"I'm not angry with you, yet" Vegeta said with a menacing glare in her direction.

"What do you mean?" Bulma questioned uneasily.

Suddenly Vegeta dropped his Ki, wheeled around and grabbed her wrist. Bulma looked into his eyes and gasped. They were lifeless, without emotion, and sent a wave of absolute terror through her. Despite what most people believed, including the Prince himself, Vegeta was probably the most passionate individual that she had ever met. Although he wore an emotionless mask most of the time and pretended that he had an unfeeling heart the truth was that his emotions ran deep. She knew this the first time she had bothered to truly look in his eyes. Now those same eyes that ordinarily betrayed his every emotion were vacant. It was almost as if the Vegeta that she knew was gone leaving behind an empty and cold shell of his former self.

"If you don't fix the ship I'll be very angry with you and you wouldn't want that, now would you?" he said darkly.

Bulma's blood ran cold. The threat was clear. Never before had she been so afraid of Vegeta. Those times when she had been afraid before she had looked in his eyes and seen the rage burning deep in his soul. For whatever reason, that fire wasn't there now and she realized that without its presence it was impossible to touch his heart. This realization was chilling.

"What's happened to you?" Bulma asked him plaintively.

"I've finally come to my senses is all" he said with a superficial smirk "I realized that I was wasting my time here on this mud hole you call a planet."

"You don't intend to come back do you?" Bulma said voicing her painful revelation.

"No" he answered grinning an evil yet shallow grin.

"You can't mean that" Bulma pleaded "What about me? What about the baby? You said that saiyajin mate for life."

"I lied," he said grabbing her roughly and shoving her up against the worktable. "Now be a good girl" Vegeta said raising his palm to her head and charging a Ki ball in his hand "and don't make me ruin your pretty face."

It was then that she noticed the glimmer of something reflecting his Ki on his neck. It was only a peek before the leather collar covered it once more but it was enough. She quickly reached up and pulled the collar down revealing a small, metal, dome shaped object. There was a small light set in it's top and it sat the base of his neck near his spine. It was then she realized the truth.

"Kami! You're not Vegeta!" she shouted "You're that probe. You've taken over his body!"

"You are correct" "Vegeta" said in a measured drone as the grin melted away leaving his face blank of expression "but you are wrong about one thing. Vegeta is the probe not me. I am using him as my vessel to carry out my mission. I must bring back the information I've collected to the creators. My mission must be completed at all costs. I need your ship to return to them and you will comply."

"Who are your creator's?" she asked. "What will they do with the information?"

"It does not matter" "Vegeta" said "You will comply."

"I refuse to comply!" she cried, "I won't help you do anything that might help you endanger this planet or Vegeta's life!"

"If you do not comply I will be forced to act" "Vegeta" answered.

With these words Bulma felt sick. She felt like she was loosing everything. The man she loved, her unborn child and the life she'd hoped to have with them were now being threatened and she was powerless to do anything to stop them. "I don't care!" Bulma shouted, "Kill me and be done with it! I won't help you!"

"I do not intend to kill you" "Vegeta" said. "Your knowledge it too valuable. Instead I will use you as my vessel to complete my mission."

"You mean you would leave his body and take over mine?" Bulma fearfully queried. "What would happen to Vegeta and my baby?"

"When I leave a host they die. As for the child I do not have any data on that. If you help me of your own free will I will leave you and your child unharmed."

"What about Vegeta? Will he be harmed?" Bulma asked.

"I will use him to get back to the creators and they will decide his fate. Since he is so powerful they may find a use for him and keep him alive. If not he dies. A chance at life is better than certain death, is it not?"

Bulma thought for a moment and considered all of the options before her. She stared into the imposter's face and reminded herself that somewhere inside of him the real Vegeta still lurked. Regardless of who controlled his mind at the moment this was still her Vegeta and she couldn't bear the thought of doing anything that would mean his certain death. She had to protect both he and their child at all costs. "I'll help you" Bulma agreed dejectedly.

"Vegeta" released her. "Get your tools and pick up the blue bag in the corner," he said. "If you try to escape I will stun you and take over you body. Do you understand?"

Bulma nodded in affirmation. She gathered her tools up and then went to the corner where "Vegeta" had stood when she had first noticed him in the room. There she saw a blue duffle bag and picked it up. It was fairly heavy and she puzzled at what might be inside of it.

"You will lead the way," "Vegeta" ordered taking her attention away from the bag.

She turned her back to him and began to lead the way out of the lab as ordered. "Hang on Vegeta" she thought, "I haven't given up yet. I'm just buying time until I can think of something. There has to be a way to save your life as well as everyone else's."

She silently led the way into the growing darkness outside toward the hanger where they kept the spacecraft racking her brain all the way there for ideas. When they reached it she punched in the combination on the security keypad and looked over at "Vegeta" who was visually scanning the area.

"Inside" he ordered still peering into the growing darkness of the Capsule Corporation compound.

As she entered the threshold someone pushed her from behind causing her to fall forward into the building. When she looked up the door to the building was closing. She quickly got up to her feet and ran to the window in time to see Piccolo smashing the control panel to the door.

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Mirai Trunks set his mother down near the entrance to the cafeteria. He swore under his breath as he saw another cloud signaling further destruction rise in the opposite end of the city. They knew he was there and they were playing with him again. He knew full well that the moment he reached there that the androids would take off in opposite directions to different parts of the city.

"Get inside" he barked at his mother handing her the backpack before taking off. Under the cafeteria was the city's shelter and he trusted that she could make it inside on her own.

Bulma winced as she put weight on her ankle. People ran past her in unthinking terror almost knocking her over. She pressed forward to the cafeteria and shelter feeling useless. Ordinarily she'd be helping panicked and injured people get inside but now she was powerless to assist anyone since she was injured herself. Bulma wasn't surprised when no one stopped to help her. She had learned long ago that in crisis most people opted for self-preservation rather than assisting those who needed help more than they did.

It was then she saw him hover down in front of the complex. 17 hung in the air and laughed at the people scurrying in terror to the shelter. Bulma ducked behind a pile of rubble as he began taking pot shots at the fleeing citizens. She thanked Kami that she had on her portable Ki suppresser. She took off the pack she had on her back and pulled out her two electricity grenades and attached them to her belt just in case they were needed. She hadn't had to use them yet and hoped they would work.

She cautiously looked around the corner at the android who still hung in the air although it had no more remaining moving targets. Suddenly she saw his head begin to snap back toward her direction and pulled back out of sight. She willed her breathing to be slow and shallow hoping that it would be too soft for him to hear.

"I know someone's out there" she heard 17's voice say. "For some reason I can't feel you or sense any life energy but I know I saw something in this general direction."

A Ki ball sped by just missing her hiding place by inches. Bulma stifled a cry of surprise and fear as it slammed into a crumbling wall a few feet from her. She covered her eyes and neck protectively as debris rained down around her.

"Did I even come close?" he laughed.

She heard his footsteps and realized he was coming in her direction. He had found a cornered person and Bulma knew that he wouldn't rest until he had found her. She carefully grabbed her grenade and sat ready with it. Hopefully he would get close enough for her to use it. If it knocked him out, as she designed it to, it would give her enough time to make it to the shelter even with her injured leg. She knew it was her only chance since her injury prevented her from using speed to escape.

"17" Bulma suddenly heard another voice shout. "Let's go now. "

"What happened to the boy?" 17 asked his sister.

"He actually tried to fight me," she said with a laugh. "I trapped him in a building and blasted it to hell. I'm sure he survived though. Vermin usually do. "

Bulma gulped and held her breath realizing they were speaking about her son.

"I think he'll be pretty upset when he sees the havoc I caused while he was trapped" 18 said gleefully. "How long are we going to let him live?" she asked. "I say we destroy him before he has a chance to become more powerful."

"He has a long way to come before he could ever present any kind of a threat to us" 17 answered. "I think it's more fun to destroy his spirit before the body. I want him to die knowing he has utterly failed as a savior to the humans."

"I suppose it won't hurt to keep him alive a little longer" 18 conceded savoring her brother's plan. "I think we've done enough for today" she added.

"Perhaps" he said. "I would like to make one parting shot, however." Bulma caught her breath once again as he paused. "You see that building over there. A lot of the humans were running into it. It must be rather important so I think it would be wise to destroy it."

In horror Bulma realized they must have been talking about the cafeteria. The shelter was underground so the people should be safe but half of the city's food and water supply was housed in it.

"Why not" 18 said in cold indifference.

Bulma looked out from her hiding place and glared hatefully at the two androids as they aimed their Ki blasts at the structure. They were too far away to use the grenade and she knew that she couldn't prevent the inevitable. She drew back into her hiding place and winced as she heard the explosions. She blinked back tears as she listened to their maniacal laughter while they went to work. After a few moments it grew quiet and she was tempted to check what was going on.

When finally decided to look she saw that the pair were staring up into the sky toward a fast approaching speck in the distance.

"He's coming" 18 said, "Let's get out of here."

Bulma exhaled in relief when the artificial humans left and focused her attention on her son as his form began to become discernable. She shuddered in pain as she drew herself to her feet and allowed her eyes to take in the sight of the ruined cafeteria. It was almost completely destroyed. Bulma didn't turn to her son when she heard him land next to her.

"Damn!" Trunks exclaimed breathlessly "We needed that building."

Bulma turned to Trunks who stood tall and clam next to her. His clothes were torn. Several gashes marred his body. Dust and debris clung to his lavender hair making it appear almost gray and his face was set in an angry determined scowl. She touched his arm and as he turned to her she was struck by his uncanny resemblance to his father. The creased brow, his sharp yet handsome features, and his eyes, except for their color, that betrayed the inner turmoil he desperately seeked to hide from her. They told her that he now was blaming himself for the lives lost that day and on all the days preceding that.

"Trunks" she said habitually smoothing a strand of his hair away from his eyes "You did your best. Don't let them destroy your spirit. It's what they want you know."

He wrenched his arm from her grip. "There's no time for this now. We have to check for survivors," he snapped at her.

Bulma smiled at him knowing that his harsh words were born of frustration at the situation and not at her. She nodded her head slowly in agreement and he walked towards the building joining the others who had now begun to gather there. As she watched him pain filled her heart. Her son was slipping further and further away from her and everyone else with each defeat. The androids fiendish plan to destroy him from the inside out was already working.

Bulma stooped over and picked up her pack and limped after him as she allowed her mind to drift to a subject she had avoided until that moment. Chi Chi and Flora were probably in the building when it was destroyed and she hoped to Kami that they were okay.

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As you can tell I really love cliffhangers! Good thing for you the next chapter will be up today as well! Whatís in storeÖ

What Piccolo is doing there? Can he stop the probe controlled Vegeta? What will Bulma do? Will Mirai Trunks and Mirai Bulma find Chi Chi and Flora on time? Find out inÖ

Chapter 14- Struggles


Table of Contents
Chapter 12
Chapter 14