Disclaimer: I do not own, nor have I ever claimed to own, anything in DBZ so donít sue me for the two pennies that I hide in my sock drawer.
Chapter 5- Flesh and Blood vs. Circuits and Chrome
Vegeta heard the mechanical drone of the probe and looked up to see it carefully negotiate the corner to head into the canyon in which he and Bulma now stood. He now felt the icy tentacles of fear trying to get a grip on his mind. He had not felt fear in a long time. He had long ago steeled his nerves to all emotions that could distract him from battle. But this was no ordinary fear. It stemmed from the presence of the woman that now leaned against him for support. It was the fear that he had failed to protect her.
"No," he thought, "I can't give up now. There still is a chance." He reached up with one hand and grasped her chin firmly and cocked her ear toward his mouth. "Listen to me woman," he said with authority "there is a cave behind us. When I let go of you I want you to run for it and not come out until I tell you. Do you understand?" She stiffly nodded her head and that was all he needed to act.
Disengaging his grip on her he flew straight for the probe and slammed it into the canyon wall with his good shoulder. Despite his instructions Bulma was surprised by his sudden move and struggled to keep her balance.
"Run you idiot!" Vegeta barked at her as he hammered the probe into the ground by giving it a double axe handle from above before it had a chance to right itself.
Startled from her stupor Bulma turned and spotted the cave and began to run for it. Her lungs, still not recovered from the air being forced from them, burned with her exertion and the pain that shot through her arm with every stride was almost more than she could bear. Bulma was in a dizzy haze and began to feel that her legs would no longer support her weight but she determinedly pressed on towards her goal refusing to slow down or give up. When she reached the cave she collapsed at the entrance and struggled to keep herself from totally loosing consciousness.
Vegeta swore under his breath when he saw that she had not made it all the way into the cave. Now he had to keep it from firing at her. He had to be sure that he was a more interesting target than she was until she got all the way inside.
He used his rage to channel his energy into his hands. "Okay you bucket of bolts" he yelled at the device "take this!" With that he fired two successive chi blasts at the machine. It dodged them and fired at him as he flipped up over its top and shot a third burst of energy at it from above.
Bulma turned her head and watched as Vegeta flitted around the machine firing off attack after attack. She had rarely been this close to a battle and she didn't want to be any closer. She gathered her last once of strength and determination and pushed herself up off the ground and staggered into the cave. Inside at last she fell to the ground once more and this time did not fight as the blackness overcame her.
As he saw Bulma disappear into the cave with satisfaction he knew that he could now fight without having to worry about her getting harmed in the crossfire. Seeing as how his physical attacks had faired better against the machine than the energy attacks he decided to try to take out some of it's guns with shear brute force.
Powering-up he ran head-long at the machine leaping from side-to-side to avoid it's lasers. At the last minute it he jumped to the side and hit one of the laser canons with a powerful roundhouse kick. Suddenly he screamed in agony as he was struck with a tremendous jolt of electricity.
Goku, Krillan, Gohan and Piccolo stood aghast before the robotic machine as it began to recite each of their races, heights, weights, and current power levels. It even calculated that Gohan was Goku's son. No one knew precisely what to do because the whole course of events since the strange machine had appeared and transformed had taken them so much by surprise.
"Destroy all subjects," the machine at last declared after it finished its recitation.
Any confusion felt was soon short-lived when the probe unveiled its awesome arsenal of firepower. Goku was the first be fired upon and he barely had time to get out of harms way by executing a handspring. Gohan shot a burst of energy at the probe as it attacked his father and stood in disbelief as it made no dent in the machine. He was rewarded for his efforts by being targeted himself and was forced to dodge and block it's onslaught.
Piccolo and Krillan came under fire at the same time as Gohan and Piccolo retaliated with a stronger burst of energy that seemed to have no effect.
"DISTRUCTO DISK" Krillian cried releasing his attack. He watched in surprise along with everyone else when it ricocheted off the probes tough skin.
After a few minutes of dodging and blocking Goku noticed a vulnerability and powered-up in anticipation of his move. With a protective shield of Ki energy surrounding him Goku shot up into the air above the probe. He then concentrated all the energy into his hands as he shouted "KAKAHAMEHA!". The probe was slammed into the ground with the force of the attack and the resulting explosion nearly knocked the others off their feet.
Goku slowly descended back to the ground amid the congratulations of his comrades as the cloud began to fade. Although it appeared he had succeeded for a moment the probe once again emerged with barely a scratch amid the shouts and cries of surprise.
"What is that thing made of anyway!"? Krillan shouted, "We're not even making a dent in it!"
"If energy attacks fail" Piccolo said "then try physical attacks". He tore off his cape and turban and rushed forward with a mighty scream powering-up as he ran. The probe targeted him forcing him to spring from side-to-side in order to dodge the on coming fire. Then at the last minute he jumped into the air and made his arms grow smacking it into the ground once again.
Seeing the probe's vulnerability Gohan rushed forward and kicked the probe with so much force it skidded across the ground digging a channel in the soil. This time the probe did appear to sustain some damage and faltered as it tried to right itself.
Krillan decided to attack while it was recovering from Piccolo and Gohan's powerful onslaught and flew toward the prone machine. Gohan decided to make the attack a double threat and accelerated through the air to impact it as well. The moment they both hit the probe it sent out a powerful jolt of electricity that sent the two small warriors sailing through the air. Krillan was able to right himself in the air despite feeling woozy and weak but Gohan hit the ground and lay motionless.
With a cry of anger and despair Goku tried to reach his son but was met with fire from the probe that cut him off. Piccolo also tried to reach him but was met with the same onslaught.
"Krillan!" Goku shouted to his best friend "get Gohan. Piccolo and I will hold the machine off!"
With a nod Piccolo agreed and he and Goku attacked the machine as Krillan swooped down and grabbed the injured boy. The electrical jolt had taken a lot out of the diminutive monk so it was only shear will power that allowed him to carry the boy through the air dodging the stray shots as he went. He saw no place to take the little half-saiyajin but behind the cylindrical craft. Krillan dove into the crater and ran with Gohan to safety.
Catching his breath he looked down at the boy's face and tried to detect some sign of life.
Suddenly, he felt his Ki fading. "Gohan!" Krillan cried, "Come on buddy! We can't loose you!" Although he was weak Krillan knew that he was his young friend's only hope for survival. He concentrated and laid his hand on Gohan's chest and reached out for the boy's Ki with his own.
Vegeta flew through the air from the electrical jolt and was slammed into the canyon wall. As he tried to refill his lungs with air the merciless machine shot a volley of lasers. In a rage he brought his hands up before himself and unconsciously brought his ki up another level so that a fiery aura surrounded him that protected him from the volley.
"You'll pay for that!" he screamed rising into the air "GATLIC GUN!" This time, however he concentrated the beam so that it didn't explode upon impact and aimed it at an already damaged area. Throwing everything he had into the attack he tried to rupture the probe's seemingly impregnable skin and expose its vulnerable inner-workings.
Suddenly the probe began to shake and Vegeta grinned in triumph pouring all of his strength into the energy beam. The probe then whirred and shot up a force field blocking his attack.
He cursed feeling his cool anger rise once more. "This thing is unbelievable" he thought to himself "it repels the attack I use to vaporize planets as if it were nothing." The probe began to fire but it was unable to penetrate Vegeta's powerful aura. "I need to hit it hard so that I can pull off the attack before it has time to recover. The only thing that seems to do any good in that way was a physical attack but now I can't even do that without it electrocuting me unless." Suddenly the Saiyajin Price got a wicked smile on his face and he flew like a shot down to the ground.
He lifted a large rock and hurled it toward his target with all his might. Even with the force field the probe was knocked to the side.
"Perfect" he thought to himself " I just need something a little larger." His eyes fell on one of a group of boulders that hung precariously close to the edge of the cliffs that surrounded him. He shot a large ball chi of energy at the group and watched as the probe was helplessly knocked to the ground and struck by boulder after boulder. At last the probe dropped it's shield and listed to the side.
Once again the probe began to shake under his concentrated energy attack. With once last battle cry he shot enough energy into the probe to vaporize a large planet. The explosion nearly knocked him from the sky with its force. Vegeta watched as the clouds began to clear and was aghast to find the probe hovering there, battered but still in one piece. Although he didn't want to admit it, he was beginning to tire. He had used up so much of his energy already in the battle that he doubted he could keep up the fight much longer. The Saiyain prince set his brow realizing there was only one way to destroy the machine once and for all and he would only have one chance to do it. He descended to the ground once more and prepared to make his final attack.
* * * * *
Thatís it for now! Next time we find out what Veggieís plan is and what happens to Gohan.