-IX- Behind the Mirror

I looked out the glassy bubble of a window as we touched down onto the surface. The whole planet looked red tinted. All the buildings were plain yet meticulously maintained. Everything was segregated by what I could only guess was by purpose. From what I could see, the buildings in front of me were something of a launch deck. More buildings stood off in the distance similar to the ones near me. There were no sharp or discerning edges on any of the buildings. I squinted my eyes to see farther into the distance, faintly making out what looked like a huge building that differed from the rest. I could barely make out its form. It wasn't round like the others; it was created with sharp corners and bright textured material.

The door behind Bulma hissed opened and she jumped at the sound turning to see who it was. It was the two burly guards she remembered from when she was first dragged onto this ship. The bald one, Nappa and his smarter companion, Radditzu with the hair, stood in the doorway. She turned to them and eyed them warily before Radditzu spoke up. "This way." The Chikyuu woman looked at them then demanded for Potatirs and Corais. Nappa snorted and turned to his partner, grinning. "They won't be coming." Her eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?" Neither responded. The smarter one stepped forward and grabbed her by her upper arm and began pulling her towards the door.

Bulma squirmed in his grasp and fought against being moved against her will but it was futile. Annoyed, she followed them unwillingly down the now familiar corridors and onto the bridge. From there she was pointed towards a small anti-room. She entered cautiously, not sure of what to expect from this strange race of creatures. The room was immersed in darkness, save for one of those glowing golden spheres on a desk of some sort. She took another step into the room and gave a small jump as the door hissed shut behind her. She was about to turn and try to leave the enclosed area when she heard something shift in the darkness behind her. "Sit!" She knew the deadly voice as soon as she heard it. She blinked in the darkness, hoping for her pupils to adjust to the lack of lighting. The golden orb didn't cast enough luminosity for her to see him, though she knew he was there.

He sat leaning back into the chair with his feet up on the desk. He reflected briefly on his plan for this inconvenient problem. His dark eyes watched, reading her actions and the scent she gave off. The woman had her arms pulled around her closely for safety, the aroma she let spread through the room proved her fear to his heightened senses.

Bulma wasn't sure how to respond to his command, so she held her ground and stayed silent. The Prince watched his 'problem'. By Saiyan standards she was exotic, with her blue colored hair and eyes. He studied her body for a moment, noting she was amply endowed though she lacked the characterising Saiyan tail and fighting ability. Though she was fragile, she could be an asset to him. He'd wandered through the room she called a lab, it was a complete mystery to him. The improvements she'd made to some of the machinery onboard had caused an admiring stir amongst the slaves and the scientists onboard; this proved that she could be useful to him in one way.

She swallowed and scratched her cheek in the darkness, wondering if she'd imagined that he'd said something to her or if he was actually there. There was the telltale sound of movement as the golden globe flared brighter, casting its light on the small room. "Sit," he repeated the command and she did as she was told. She sat on the edge of the desk, not seeing anywhere else to sit. His cruel eyes flashed over her face before settling on her own eyes. Bulma broke the stare. His gaze unsettled her as she scratched the dry rash on her leg.

"Did that worthless bitch explain to you what she has started?" he asked, referring to Stataris. The woman shook her head, no. The Prince leaned back farther in his chair before starting again. "The mating battle is a series of four competitions to win a mate." He paused to collect himself, he wasn't used to having to explain things to others. "In this case it's different, females will fight each other until thirteen are left then they will battle against the top Super Elites. Those who survive will test their skills against my personal guards in a time trial. She who remains longest without having blood drawn will become my mate." He snorted at his own words and stood up briskly and strode to the door before turning to her.

Bulma followed him silently down to her room, or was it his? As soon as the door slid back into the closed position his armor fell to the floor, followed by his shirt. Bulma almost became livid when she thought of his intentions. Vegeta turned to her as if waiting for something. "Take them off." The woman's eyes widened. "What?" She wasn't sure if her ears had heard correctly. He pointed to her jeans. Seeing no way to escape her current predicament, she kicked her boots off and slid her jeans down.

He strode over to her and knelt down, studying the rash on her thigh before raising up his right arm revealing a similar rash on his floating rub. His rash was more pronounced, with dark lines under the flaky top skin. A grunt escaped him as he stood up and began to redress. Still not completely sure of his motives, she broke the silence. "What?" He glanced at her before pulling his armor over his spiky hair. "Well?" She was becoming impatient as she pulled her jeans back on. He didn't answer but turned and strode over to the door intending to leave.

The sudden airborne projectile aimed at his head stopped him. He caught the shoe easily and snarled at her though she retorted, "Well? Are you going to tell me? Or am I going to have to throw another shoe at you, or fight in this 'mating battle'. I know what the mark is, you pompous ass. So what am I supposed to do? Die?" She knew it had come out of her mouth before she could stop herself from flying off the handle. One of her hands clamped over her mouth too late to stop the words from signing her own death warrant.

In a moment he was in her face, his temper matching hers easily. "Do you think I don't know what this means? Stupid bitch, your meddling will kill us both." She jumped at the chance to let her viper tongue fly. "MY fault? MY FAULT? You’re the bastard that chased me through the forest and brought me to this fucked up place!" His nose crinkled at the bridge in response to her shrill voice that his ears disliked immensely.

Bulma began to freak out when she realised that there was not a sound coming from her throat. A few fired synapses later she furiously realised he was covering her mouth with his hand. "Silence!" The offending hand vanished. "You do NOT address me in such a manner!" Blue eyes narrowed at him, this was far from over. "You have to fight in the battle, but you'll never survive." He mused more to himself then her. "Can't you call it off or something?" She knew she was grasping at straws. "No, it’s tradition. Unless you win, you’re dead." His words hung heavily in the air, pressing against her senses. Fate was drawing near and her guardian angel was no where to be found. Bulma watched with hazy vision as he left the room, her alone to think about her life.

A few moments alone was all she could stand. The pressure and stress was beginning to take its toll on her. Bulma stared blankly forward as she took a seat on the bed, her hands feeling the soft fabric, letting it be her anchor to reality. She heard somebody enter the room, them talking to her and her own voice responding. Then it just all blacked out from there.

She woke up in a new room; it was vastly different from the one on the ship. Was she still on the ship? She climbed out of the strange feeling bed and padded over to the door. She stood in front of it and expected it to open like the ones on the ship had; nothing happened. She then spotted a keypad in the shape of a hand next to the doorframe. Thinking that there was nothing to loose in trying, she pressed her palm to the magnetic screen. A mechanical sounding voice was piped into the room from an invisible source filled the room, "Not authorised." Bulma sighed and peered to look closer at the keypad. "Child's play!" She grinned, feeling more like herself then she ever had since she'd left earth. It took but a matter of moments to get out of the room using her mechanical know how. She stepped out into what she assumed was going to be the ship’s hallway. Bulma's blue eyes stared blankly at the corridor in front of her; this wasn't the ship.

The hallway was long and straight, with small screens of unknown characters on them; a wild guess told her it was the Saiyans’ language. The lights over head were implanted into the walls at the edges, where the wall connected to the ceiling. There were a few doors every so often with large panels next to them over the palm pads. More prisoners? After deciding that she was officially lost, she stopped to try to get her bearings; is everything the Sayians build this maze-like? There was another panel on the wall sporting the wonderful drawings of a map. Bulma looked upwards, someone must really like me! It took a few moments but she finally got a general idea of which way to go. After a few more minutes of trudging down the empty corridors, she came across two large burly male guards with their arms crossed over their broad chests. 'Seems to be a popular stance' she thought. The guards stood before two larger doors made of metal with more of the strange language imbedded into it by engraving.

A few moments later the doors swung open into the room. Prince Vegeta strode out proudly with his head up in the air. He immediately turned and began to come towards Bulma and she began to panic. 'He's gonna kill me for being out here!' Her thoughts were frantic and unordered as she failed to come up with a plan. He turned the corner and walked straight up to her. "Going somewhere?" She swallowed loudly, "The battle commences in 3 days; you'd better be ready!" He threatened and walked off leaving her alone in the corridor. "Wait!!" She screeched and took off after him forgetting that she was afraid of the Saiyan man. "What am I supposed to do? I'll never win! I'm weak! They'll slaughter me!" She whimpered. "Find something!"

Bulma reminisced on her plan. Vegeta had escorted her back to her room and made it quite clear that she was under no uncertain terms to leave. She'd long ago pulled out her palm top computer and was busy trying to find a weakness from all the data she'd collected on the Sayians. "I've got it!" She smiled to herself and began to rapidly barrage the keys with her fingers. She saved the file and shut the computer off just as the door opened; the same meek looking girl that had brought her the clothes the other day had a tray of food in hand. "I...I'm suppppp...supposed to tell you to clean up...and be ready..." She placed the food on a small counter that jutted out from the wall across from the bed. Bulma nodded and began to type at her computer again, only half-paying attention to what the smaller girl said to her. Without another word, she left Bulma alone with her computer and her new-found plan.

A few more minutes of typing and she way done laying the foundation for her plan to win the battle. It was quite simple in context, though getting it to work was a whole other ball game. For the first time she looked around the small room she was assigned to. It had a single bed tucked away in one corner opposite from the small ledge that her food sat on with a small space age looking stool to sit on. A door to the left of the counter led to what she assumed was a bathroom, though it wasn't like any she'd ever seen before. The shower, or what she assumed was, consisted of a cylindrical space and jets that lined the walls up and down.

Bulma munched on her food, trying to place the taste. It was something vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn't think of it. "I guess they like meat!" She muttered to herself, seeing the plate was 3/4 meat with something potato like as a side-dish. She shoved the empty plate aside and began to pull up schematics and diagrams on the glowing screen. The door silently slid open behind her unbeknownst by the scientist who intently watched the computer screen. Bulma screamed bloody murder and send the empty plate crashing to the ground before whirring around to confront her attacker. Needless to say she wasn't impressed when she found Vegeta standing behind her, trademark smirk on his impassive face. "Asshole!" He shrugged and stared passed her at the computer screen. Bulma followed his gaze and made a face. "It’s my plan to stay alive." "Will it work?" He questioned. "I'm not sure, I need to get some things first, then I will know. Though the statistics dictate that there is a 98% success rate." Scientific jargon found its way into her mouth.

He watched the screen intently, "How does it work?" She sucked in a deep breath and began, "I take blood from the strongest, the average and the weakest Saiya-jin...." she went on with her plan. At the end of her lengthy explanation he nodded. "You’re sure it will work?" She nodded with more confidence, "It should. Though if I want to be done in time, I have to start now." He looked her over with this calculating eyes, "Fine, follow me and we will get what you need." T hey left the room to prepare for Bulma's secret weapon.

As it turned out, no Sayian had ever seen a needle, much less been sick ever. This information made Bulma's life a little harder and much less pleasant. A busty woman with short-cropped black hair sat in front of Bulma trying to understand exactly what was being told to her. "You understand?" The blue haired woman asked. "I think so." She said and held out her arm. Bulma took it and gathered the blood from the two of the three key elements. "I need the strongest warrior now." She said without turning to face Vegeta. He'd stood, leaning on the wall behind her all night and she'd grown used to his presence. There was no comment from him and she turned to see if he'd fallen asleep on her. He wasn't there so she turned back and almost dropped the bag of blood on the floor. Vegeta was standing in front of her with his arm held out.

He eyed the needle, as she called it, carefully, he didn't quite understand exactly what she was doing, but he let her do it anyway. It was a strange feeling to have a small piece of metal pushed into his skin and to watch the blood drain out of his body into a bag she held in her thin hands. He'd never seen blood spilt without pain, and it was a new experience to add to his growing list.

With the three bags full and sitting in front of her, Bulma began to do the simple things such as set up the equipment she needed. The capsules popped open and she pulled and set the three machines into position on a bare counter top. Vegeta had pulled Bulma into the room a couple hours ago and gave her free use of it to create her weapon. With the machines purring softly, she began to adjust each one to the proper settings.

Vegeta stayed leaning against the wall all night and into the next day without a change. Though Bulma, on the other hand, wasn't faring so well without her usual caffeine and favorite music. Sleep pulled on her eyelids but she forced them to stay open. The machine beeped and she punched in a complex set of numbers and pushed start. It whirled to life, humming softly, lulling Bulma into a quiet slumber. Vegeta watched from his vantage point along the wall. She's been standing there for a long time, with her head on her arms starring at the machine.

The last day past quickly for Bulma. Since she finished her diabolical little weapon she'd slunk off to bed, barely able to keep her eyes open. She'd had Vegeta place guards on her temporary lab; she didn't want any of the red liquid that filled a glass beaker on the desk to escape. Sleep pulled at her and tried to keep her down in its grasp, but she fought against it, regaining consciousness with a sickening thought; there was nothing to protect the observers from her little weapon. The scientific mind began to churn until it produced the perfect answer to her problem. She scrabbled out of bed and grabbed her belt, the capsule felt heavy in her hand as she pushed the triggering mechanism. When the smoke cleared small fist sized boxes sat in front of her, well at least the ones that she hadn't left in the cave on earth.

She quickly put the boxes back into the capsule and made mental notes of what she needed to do to adjust them. She rapped her fist on the door loudly, cursing the Prince if she had to wait for another second in the confined room. The door slid open and he was standing there, like he knew she was going to ask to be let out.

The lab was exactly as she'd left it the night before. The beaker stood tall and foreboding on its counter, asking to be let free. Bulma pulled out the boxes again and set to work on them immediately, though this time the Prince left, giving the guards outside the door strict orders in his native language. Bulma sighed happily she was done, all she wanted to do was take a long hot shower and relax, though those two things weren't possible. The battle was set to start at sunset; that didn't give her much time to set her trap. She knocked politely on the door and asked for Vegeta. The guards replied politely in their own gruff manner that they were given orders not to disturb him. They would take her out to the battlefield so she could survey the terrain. Bulma nodded, taking in the lie and pulling the four boxes closer to her.

The ring was circular and marked by a low rock wall, there were seats surrounding the arena for others to watch on. As inconspicuously as she could she buried the four boxes at the cardinal points on the circle and returned inside with the guards. Back in her lab, she emptied the beaker into a thin glass test tube that would break if she let it fall. She tucked it into the space in her belt that used to contain the other capsule, it fit well, though she'd have to be careful not to jar it. The guards escorted her to her room where new clothing had been lain out for her. Bulma questioned the guards and one responded. "They are mandatory, so that the fighters are easily recognisable." She nodded and changed. Discontentedly, she discarded the belt and set the vile in her boot hoping it wouldn't break before the time came.

Bulma stood in a room packed with many other female Sayians, all teeming with the urge for battle. Some glared at her and gave her strange looks, making threats and laughing about how she'd never win. The Chikyuu woman just smiled to herself and waiting in the shadows. She watched the others in their shiny battle armour, making threats against the others and promises they wouldn't keep. Everyone in that room wanted the Prince for a mate, except the earthling. She almost laughed out loud when she realised how such an advanced race of fighters could become a pack of boy-crazy women.

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Table of Contents
Chapter 8
Chapter 10