Love's Labours Won: a Love Story, part three
Cumber had no answer. Nearly reckless, he plunged over the grass and toward his goal, toward the Capsule Corporation, toward Bra - and then at the last minute, had the good sense to slow down. Coming at them like this without warning would be all the excuse Vejiita needed to beat the hell out of him, and Cumber had no time right now to be in traction. So, maddening though it was, he forced himself to land and walk the last quarter mile to the Briefs house. An extra seven minutes shouldn't kill anyone.
And because Murphy's Law was in full swing, it was only after Cumber landed and powered down that a situation requiring power arose.
"Target approaching, check."
"One minute to ETA, check check."
"Hey, Rubert; the tools ready?"
"Yeah, Jorge, they're ready."
"YES I'm sure, chill, will you? If they weren't ready to go, we wouldn't be bothering because we'd get creamed, so stop complaining and get ready. Thirty seconds."
"Right. Check check, Rubert."
Twenty seconds later, they were in orbit over the Earth, focused directly over a set of buildings known as the Capsule Corporation.
"Target fixed," sat Rubert. "Descending. Acquisition in approximately fifteen... fourteen... thirteen..."
"Twelve... eleven... ten..." Cumber was counting approximate seconds until he would arrive at the house; he was bored, on foot, and it was something to do. It turned out to be a fortunate past-time; because he was counting, he knew exactly how far away he was from the house when a blue, cylindrical beam of light shot out of the sky and hit the room of the Capsule Corporation.
He gasped. "What the..." The beam - deep, shiny, like glass - was centered directly over Bra's room. Sudden fear chilled Cumber's spine.
"Oh, gods." Without further hesitation, he powered up and made a mighty leap for the roof.
He landed mere feet from the blue glasslike thing, racing at it across slippery tile, and was just about to touch it when it disappeared. Cumber overbalanced; with a cry, he fell through the hole it had left in the roof and tumbled head over heels - right onto Bra's empty bed.
"Whoa! Agh!" he cried, bouncing twice, and landed on the floor beside the bed. Immediately, he scrambled to his feet and threw aside the bed covers. "Bra?" His heart was in his throat. "BRA?"
"Cumber," answered a voice from the doorway, but it wasn't Bra's; instead, it belonged to her father.
"...shit," said Cumber under his breath as Vejiita took in the state of the room - ruined - the bedcovers strewn, and no Bra. His gaze came to rest on Cumber and stayed there.
"I can explain," Cumber began, and that was all, because Vejiita attacked him and they both went through the floor.
Bulma was having a very odd day.
Everyone had them, it was true; but she'd learned many years ago that odd days for her usually consisted of earth-shattering events, and so when she saw shirtless Trunks come stumbling into the kitchen looking horrified and wearing elephant pajamas, she was not inclined to argue. Instead, she offered him some tea.
"Something wrong, honey?"
"Where is she?!" he demanded, imploring, taking a few steps toward her and raising his hands as if in supplication.
"Where is whom, Trunks?" said Bulma.
"Bra. She... she's..."
Trunks never had the chance to expand his answer; without warning, Cumber and Vejiita exploded through the ceiling, Cumber was shouting something like "I didn't do anything with her! I swear I didn't!" and Vejiita very obviously trying to lop his head off.
"Hey! Stop!" cried Trunks, and moved to interfere.
"VeJIITA!" Bulma screeched, extremely unhappy about the state of her house - and suddenly, Gokuu was in the kitchen too and standing between Cumber and her raging husband.
Cumber had definitely seen better days. Trunks held him up, supporting.
"I don't suppose," Bulma spoke through grit teeth, "that anyone is inclined to tell me what the hell is going on here."
"I dunno, Vejiita, it looks like an unfair fight to me," Gokuu replied, ignoring Bulma. "What's gotcha so upset anyway?"
"My daughter is MISSING!" Vejiita shouted, making no bones about the problem. "I come in here, my daughter's bed is empty - my NINETEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER - and who do I find in her place? Shirtless? GUILTY? You get out of my way, Kakaorrotto, or I am going to make you SO sorry..."
"But I didn't do it!" protested Cumber. Vejiita gave him a death look.
"Papa, we're wasting time!" Trunks tried and was ignored like his mother.
"Oh. Well, then let's just go looking for her, okay?" Gokuu replied, and in response, Vejiita attacked him. To be fair, the prince was trying to get to Cumber, but the effect was the same. Within seconds, Bulma's kitchen looked like so much scrap, and unconcerned, the combatants went raging into the living room.
"GAAAH!" Bulma cried, and ran after them.
Trunks sighed. "Come on. You can lean on me if you have to," he murmured above the din, and helped Cumber limp in the other direction. Slowly, they made their way to the dining room, where Trunks sat Cumber on a chair and began checking him for injuries.
"Gods, he hit you hard, didn't he," Trunks said as he prodded, frowning a little. "I don't think it's broken..."
"It was," Cumber said, and gasped when Trunks prodded a little too hard.
"It's okay. My body's healing anyway," Cumber said, taking deep breaths. "I can't blame him for panicking, I know, even if it seemed a little... extreme."
Trunks gave him a dry look. "He's been 'extreme' whenever you're around since her birthday, Cumber," he said, and stood.
Cumber sighed. "We're wasting time." He looked up, and saw the answering look in Trunks' eyes. Casually, they both ducked when a chair came flying from the living room over their heads.
"The dream," said Trunks; and Cumber nodded.
Neither one was crazy. Somehow, that was a relief.
"What do we do?"
Trunks looked like the very words caused him pain. "We wait."
More sounds of fighting came from the other room, as well as the sounds of Bulma shouting over both men. It seemed Trunks was right; there was nothing to do right now but wait.
Two male voices. Bright light. Hard table. One hell of a headache.
...what in the world?
"I tell you, this is NOT her."
"But the alpha signs are positive. It's her."
"But... LOOK at her. She's not even fully Saiyan. She's like... some sort of half breed, and you know none of them would have done that - especially her."
"I don't care. We got her. That's all that matters."
"....Uhn?" Bra said, vaguely aware that her voice was so thick and groggy she sounded hungover.
"Aw, shit, she's awake -"
"I told you to use three cc's!"
"I DID, man!"
Bra opened her eyes. Before her stood the two males she'd heard speaking, both of whom were humanoid and wearing what appeared to be radiation suits. "Okay," she said, noting with growing displeasure that her arms were tied down. "I'm going to give you two idiots thirty seconds to untie me and start with a good explanation. And if it ISN'T a good one - "
Ki suddenly shot out from her body, pulsing in arced waves that knocked over test tubes and sent papers flying. The entire room - white, stark, and empty except for a few tables covered with equipment - shook hard, and then suddenly, she was free. Her bonds, unable to take the combined strain of her muscle growth and energy flare, burst neatly apart; she leapt from the table, complete at the level of Ultimate Super Saiyajin, and smiled like her father.
" - then I'm going to kill you both." She cracked her knuckles. "Who's first?"
Both men stared at her in silence, only their huge eyes showing through the faceplates of their matching white bodysuits.
"Oh, I think you can do better than THAT," she said, taking a step; and that would be when the barrier came down.
It was rather fortunate that Bra's progress hadn't taken her any further forward; the forcefield that came down cut the very tips off her sneakers, and certainly brought her pause. "What the hell..."
The man on the right slowly lifted his hand and tapped the side of his face plate. Bra tensed, ready for anything.
The man blinked. "...it's gone."
The man on the left stared at him. "WHAT?"
"Gone. Entirely gone. Like it was never there."
"Oh, like HELL it is..." and then he, too, touched his face plate, with similar beeping results. "Oh, gods..." the second man moaned, honestly sounding horrified. "Oh, gods, they're gonna kill us..."
"ExCUSE ME!" Bra said, and stamped her foot. The stamping itself wasn't terribly extraordinary; the burst of power accompanying it, however, which shook the room and temporarily shorted out the lights, certainly was. "If I HAVE to blow up this entire damned room to get your attention, I WILL!"
Both men stared at her for a moment; then finally, the one on the right broke down and answered her.
"You're not Chive anymore," he said miserably, and Bra blinked slowly.
".....huh?" she replied, but they never explained further. Without waiting another moment, they flipped some switches and Bra was surrounded by blue. It was shiny, glass-like - impentrable; and moments after it came down around her, she passed out and crumbled onto the floor -
And then she woke up, and had no idea where she was.
She recognized the cold, damp lumps beneath her back as being good old Mother Earth, and she guessed the parts that poked her skin were sheared stalks of some sort of grain. That was fine; she'd slept outside before. The problem, simply put, was that she had no idea why she was outside now.
Her memory was completely scrambled.
Being trained by her father helped; she maintained her slow breathing pattern and relaxed heart rate, and simply tried to listen and feel for anything that might be around her. When her search revealed only field mice and a lot of bugs, she grew enough courage to open her eyes and sit up.
This was literally in the middle of nowhere. Fields, recently harvested down to nubs, stretched out as far as she could see in every direction. There was possibly a line of telephone poles far off to the south, but other than that, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing.
"Gaaah," Bra said, and scrambled to her feet. Quickly, she checked herself over; no wounds, no bleeding, no conspicuous alterations other than the dirt in her hair, but she couldn't think clearly. Could. Not. Think. For obvious reasons, she was a little frightened, and so did the first thing that came to mind.
Papa! she cried mentally, leaping high into the air just in case whatever had done this to her was under the ground; and for just half a moment, she was frightened enough to worry that she'd forgotten how to fly.
Of course, she hadn't; but panic knows no reason.
A moment passed without any noticeable response, and then suddenly, Gokuu appeared before her.
"Hi, Bra!" he said cheerfully, and lunging, Bra grabbed his shoulders.
"Ow," Gokuu said, looking confused.
"Take me home. NOW," Bra commanded, sounding equal parts both her mother and father.
Gokuu shrugged. "Okay," he said, and did. In their hurry, neither of them noticed that the grain around her had been flattened in a perfect oval.
Bulma was having a very odd day, indeed. Half of her house was ruined; it was going to take thousands of dollars and far too many man-hours to fix, and she was not feeling particularly pleased about it. To boot, it seemed that the reason her house was a mess was because Bra had gone missing. This would be a reason for concern, yes; however, the errant daughter had been found and brought back safely.
So, problem solved, right?
"Where were you?!" Vejiita demanded of Bra, growling dangerously and ignoring anyone else who tried to help.
"Bra... you're okay..." someone began.
"WHERE WERE YOU!?" Vejiita demanded again.
Bra had been shaken terribly, but she was also a teenager and Vejiita's daughter-by-blood; when growled at, she reacted in a similar way. "That's none of your business!" she snarled back; and then enough was simply enough, and Bulma decided to take steps.
Sudden and powerful silence descended on the ruined kitchen. Order had been restored, and Bulma was going to keep it that way. "You," Bulma said, pointing at Cumber. "Why are you here?"
Wide-eyed, Cumber simply replied with the truth; he'd never been terribly good at lies on the spur of the moment. "I'm here because in a dream, Dende told me Bra was in trouble."
Bulma digested that for a moment. "Okay," she said. "You," she pointed at Gokuu. "Why are YOU here?"
"Because Cumber was acting funny," Gokuu replied, which made enough sense. Bulma sighed.
"You," she said, pointing at her son. "What do you know about this?"
"I had the same dream, okaasan," he said quietly, covered in plaster dust and watching his father warily for signs of new violence.
"Okay, that isn't good," Bulma said, and glared at Vejiita. "YOU are going to clean up this mess. And you," she said, turning to Bra, having nothing else to say to her husband, "had better tell me what happened that has you covered with dirt and appearing randomly in my kitchen in Gokuu's arms at 7:30 in the morning."
"Kakarotto - " Vejiita started, apparently deciding for some reason that Gokuu was now the enemy in place of Cumber. Bulma swatted him, and he went silent.
"I don't know." Bra stood still, surrounded by people who currently held her as her focus, and it pained her visibly that she could not produce a better reply. "I'm sorry, okaasan. There were two... guys," she said, her brow knit in concentration. "And I think we were in space."
Gokuu concentrated. "Ooh, I think I found them!" he said cheerfully.
"Someone. Is. Fucking. DEAD," Vejiita replied, and flew out of the room.
"Hey, wait!" Gokuu said, and flew after him.
"....aw, hell," Trunks muttered, and followed. Cumber looked like a deer in the road.
Bulma sighed. "We'd better call the doctor," she said, and went to the other room to find an unsmashed phone.
It was all so quick - a study in utter efficiency. Vejiita found the ship; Gokuu found Vejiita. The latter happened none too soon; Dende was already metaphorically pulling his hair out, but the rules of Kami were simple and finite, and there was nothing he could really do. Groaning as he watched Gokuu barely prevent Vejiita from blowing the vessel into so many particles, Dende straightened and padded back to the room that doubled as his kitchen.
The vessel was roughly shoe-shaped, elongated and not quite symmetrical. It might have been armed, but the earth warriors would never have the chance to find out; Gokuu transported in, grabbed both men and transported them to earth - and then Vejiita blew up the ship.
Trunks tried to stop him; more the pity.
Dende sighed. With the air of an alcoholic who had long resisted the call, Dende reached into a special cabinet and pulled out a bottle of expensive imported water from Kenya. It was a an indulgence, it was true; but he needed something stronger than local stuff to get him through this.
Chugging a little, Dende made his way back the observation platform and resumed concentration, rubbing the side of his head.
"Mr. Dende?" Popo queried, following behind. He spotted the Kenya-water bottle in Dende's hand and sighed. "It is that bad, sir?"
"It is," Dende said, switching hands so he could rub his other temple. "An unexpected factor just exploded, and I honestly don't see how it could -"
"BIIIIINGO!" shouted Reep, abruptly bounding into view and startling Dende so much he almost dropped his bottle.
"Reep!" he said, clutching it to his chest. "Don't... don't DO that!"
Reep was immediately apologetic. "Oh, Dende-san, I didn't mean to frighten you." And the strange creature fawned at his feet, looking at Dende with big, mournful eyes.
Who could stay mad at that? Dende thought dryly. "It's all right, Reep. Now what do you mean, 'bingo?'"
"Oooh!" Reep said, and resumed his bounding. "These are the extra needed! Get the ball rolling they do, and then the end will come!"
Dende's color lightened at least two shades. "End?" For obvious reasons, that word carried connotations Dende did not care to explore.
"Of the Romance!" Reep exclaimed, and went bounding down the walkway, flinging his legs in all directions as if they had no joints.
Dende's left eye twitched.
"Relax, Mr. Dende, sir," Popo soothed, patting his kami on the shoulder. "They'll work it out. They always do."
"Yes, I know, I KNOW, but... " Dende sighed and sat, face resting despondently in his hands. "The child is going to be so IMPORTANT, Mr. Popo; I don't know what we're going to do if they mess it up."
"Find another way, sir," Popo said wisely, and took the Kenya water away. "I think you should take a nap."
Dende hesitated, then acquiesced. "You're right. It's been a couple of days, after all." And not even trying to observe more on earth, Dende allowed Popo to lead him to his small bedroom, where the faithful servant tucked him in and bid him goodnight.
Dende slept, and dreamed of better things.
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