Price of the Priceless
Chapter 3: Unexpected Catch
Krillin felt so tired as he started home. He had hoped that the day would be relaxing with just the picnic, but had turned into a horror. First his car was stripped, and he had to talk to the police, who wouldn’t let them leave until they were done. After that he had to help fly everyone home. He just wished nothing else would happen since he only wanted to sleep for the rest of the evening.
18 and Marron left for home earlier than he did, but when he arrived there was a note saying that they had gone out shopping.
Their “home” was a small apartment in the city. They just barely moved in right after Krillin found a job nearby. It was small and simple, and they didn’t have much furniture, but at least it was better than living with Master Roshi.
Krillin collapsed on the couch ready to close his eyes, and fall asleep. Just when he was close to being in dream land, the doorbell rang. He moaned, and put a couch pillow over his face. Maybe if he pretended not to be home, whoever it was will leave.
A voice behind the door started to sing, “My name is Krillin, my name is Krillin. You love me.”
Krillin quickly sat up and smiled. “Hey, I know that song,” he told himself. He crept up to the door and sang, “My name is Tashi. My name is Tashi. You love me.” He opened up the door to reveal a woman with black and purple hair.
Hatashi rushed in and hugged Krillin which wasn’t hard since she was only a few inches taller than him. “How you doing, bud?”
“Great. And look at you. You look good,” Krillin complimented looking her up and down.
“Can’t say the same for you. What happened to you? Did you get hair plugs?” Hatashi teased, and tousled Krillin’s hair.
“This is from someone who dyes their hair to look like a punk,” he shot back with a wry smile.
Hatashi lowered her eyebrows. “How many times do I have to tell you? It’s natural. But enough hair jokes.” She smiled broadly showing all of her teeth. She bent over so to be on his level. “Let’s move to your height.”
“Hey!” Krillin shouted at her taunting, and pushed her away. “I see you haven’t changed at all. You might as well come in, and make yourself at home.”
“Don’t I always?” Hatashi said with a grin, and jumped onto Krillin’s couch. Near the couch was a framed picture of Krillin and his family. Hatashi picked it up and looked at it carefully. “You married?”
“Yep. Little over six years now,” Krillin said proudly and sat down next to her.
Hatashi stared at the picture with a blank look. This quiet, mellow composure was so unlike her.
“You?” Krillin asked hopefully.
“No,” Hatashi told him in a stoic voice, and put the picture back down. A small smile crept onto her face. “Still living with Tayto.”
“Hey, how’s that son-of-a-gun doing?” Krillin inquired with a smirk. “I owe him big time, because he tried to rip off my face.”
Hatashi laughed. “I don’t blame him,” Hatashi giggled. “I would too if you took MY doughnut.”
Krillin smiled with relief. For some reason, when Hatashi wasn’t smiling, he felt it was his fault. It probably was. “So, what have you been doing since…” Krillin mumbled something else, but was inaudible.
Hatashi didn’t seem to notice. “Well, after I quite my job at that restaurant, I went to pursue my real dream. Photography,” Hatashi told him excitedly. “I was offered a job at a magazine in a city hundreds of miles away. I was really lucky that I took the job, too, because I was right beside that place where that Cell dude had his tournament.”
Krillin spazed out. “What? Really? Why is that lucky?”
Hatashi leapt to her feet energetically. “I went to the tournament, and took a whole bunch of pictures, and made a ton of money,” she said enthusiastically. But then her countenance grew a little disappointed. “But the only ones that did make it into the magazine are ones of that ugly egotistical guy, Hercule.” Hatashi sat back down.
Krillin tried to cheer her up. “That’s not bad. He did save the world and all. Right?” Krillin told her and punched her softly in the arm. “It must be a cushy job.”
“Yeah right,” Hatashi said her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Following him around is like cutting off the circulation to your brain. You start feeling stupider and stupider for doing it. That’s the whole reason I’m moving out here. I was transferred to a big newspaper so I could cover that tournament thingy that’s taking place in a few weeks.” She sighed. “I wish things like Cell would happen more often. Now that was excitement.”
Krillin inquired further, hoping not to give anything away. “Did you see when Hercule destroyed Cell?”
Hatashi’s eyes shot at him, and a look of disgruntlement on her countenance. “Nope, I was knocked out by some flying debris. Crying shame, too. That would have been the shot of the century.” Hatashi stopped talking, her violet eyes blankly starring at the ceiling just like before with the picture, but she snapped out of it quickly. “So Krillin, are you going to enter into the tournament?”
“Maybe,” Krillin answered indefinitely. “I may have been working out a little, so we’ll see.” Krillin tried to be nonchalant about it, but couldn’t help grinning.
“If you do, I want to see you kick Hercule’s butt.”
“Now hold on. Hercule is in a whole different league than me. I might just have to back out of a fight with him, just to save my dignity,” Krillin tried to say seriously.
“Whatever. He can’t be that hard to beat. All you have to do is tell him that he’s not the great hero, and he’ll break down and cry,” Hatashi laughed.
“No joking. He’s got an ego bigger than Cell has power,” Krillin joked.
Hatashi laughed heartily. “You’re so funny Krillin-chan. I love you.”
Krillin had been so comfortable with his old friend that he automatically replied. “I love you, too.” He stopped and spazed out. “Wait a minute. I didn’t say that. Ahhhh!”
Hatashi laughed loudly and evilly. “I knew my brain washing technique still worked. Bwa ha ha ha ha.”
“That’s enough out of you,” Krillin growled and threw a pillow in her face.
“Kakkarot! Kakkarot! Where are you?! Kakkarot!”
“I’m here Vegeta!”
Vegeta turned around to find his arch rival standing before him. Vegeta bellowed out his challenge, “Fight me Kakkarot!” He moved into a fighting stance.
Goku’s face looked annoyed, and uninterested. “Why should I? I’ve beaten you before.”
Vegeta growled, “I said fight me! I’m a super Saiyin now. I demand that we fight to see who is stronger.”
“It is pointless. I would win,” Goku said cocky.
“What? Are you so cowardly to back out of a challenge? Are you afraid?” Vegeta taunted.
“Why should I be afraid of you?” Goku sneered. “You’re so decrepit and weak, you wouldn’t even stand a chance.”
Vegeta looked down at his hands. They were shriveled, wrinkled and pale. As he starred down at them, the Saiyin Prince started to tremble. “No, what has happened to me?” he tried to shout, but could only gasp it. His voice had changed as well. It was croaky and weak, like an old man’s. As quick as his now gnarled hands could, he felt his face. It was a mass of wrinkles. He looked up at Goku again, but his vision was fuzzy.
“Don’t you see, Vegeta. I could break you like a tooth pick.” Goku started fading away into an inky darkness. “How could such a pathetic looking creature be the great Prince of Saiyins. You are nothing.” Goku then was swallowed up into the darkness.
“No, this can’t be,” Vegeta tried to assure himself.
One by one, out of the darkness, everyone he knew that lived on earth came out and mocked him. After their tormenting fun, they turned around and disappeared. Vegeta told himself they were all lies, that none of this was real. Then he looked up and saw his young son.
“Trunks,” he called out, reaching for him with one of his aging hands.
Trunks turned to him, and slapped his hand away. “Get away from me, you disgusting old man!” he yelled.
“Trunks, it’s me. Your father,” Vegeta rasped, his throat hurting as he spoke.
“How dare you say that? My father was a strong man. You are no longer my father. You are weak.”
Appearing at Trunk’s side was Bulma, her eyes angry. “Come on, son,” she said to Trunks. “I can’t stand being near him.”
As the two walked away disappearing into the darkness, Vegeta crumbled to the ground unable to hold himself up anymore. “This can’t be. It’s not real. This can’t be . . . ” But no matter how much he said, he didn’t believe it. His rusty voice, his cancerous hands, the way his body felt so tired as he lay there, those were all witnesses to him, and he couldn’t help but believe it.
Vegeta closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was lying on a metallic surface surrounded by a circle of glass-like walls about seven feet in diameter. He looked down at his hands and felt his face. They were no longer wrinkled or shriveled. He was his own self again.
Vegeta then looked up to see an old man with a cane standing by the glass.
Genkaku looked back at the Prince of Saiyins. He had been thoroughly disappointed in Vegeta’s performance. He had expected a grand struggle when he caught this rare find with his mind catcher. Vegeta did put up with a fight, but in the end, had come as reluctantly as the rest. But it usually varied more on the intensity of the person’s mind than on strength. It was the really stupid ones that put up a real fight. No matter. The look on Vegeta’s face was worth it all.
“Who are you?” Vegeta demanded, still trembling a little on the floor. “Where am I?”
“I am the ingenious scientist, and collector of rare items, Genkaku,” the scientist introduced. “And you are on my ship, dear lad.”
Vegeta quickly collected his wits and stood up. Looking down, for he was much taller than the old man, he asked, “Why have you brought me here?”
“As I have said, I am a collector of rare items,” Genkaku began, smiling. “And a Saiyin is indeed worthy of collecting. But none as rare are you, Vegeta, Prince of Saiyins. Your value out number the stars of space. You might say that you are priceless.”
This surprised Vegeta. Never had he ever thought of himself as a collector’s item. But his surprise faded away into a smirk. “Priceless, huh? Have you ever thought of the price that would come to have someone as priceless as me?”
Genkaku lifted his eyebrows at Vegeta’s insinuation.
“You may have been able to transport me here,” Vegeta continued on, “but you will not hold me.” Vegeta walked over to the wall that separated him from Genkaku and raised his fist to it.
Genkaku’s smile never left his face. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” his raspy voice warned.
Vegeta ignored the old man, and slammed his fist into the wall. To the Saiyin’s surprise, his prison didn’t give in or break down, but stayed fast. Immediately after, Vegeta felt an excruciating pain in his right shoulder.
“I told you,” Genkaku sneered. “Every time you hit my barrier, you’ll get hit by my laser. You’ve only had a small sample of the intense pain. Every shot after the next will get more entense.”
Vegeta examined his wound. It wasn’t very deep, but a lot of the skin was burned around it. The wound stung more than it should for its size. Not only that, but the muscles around the wound, and in his arm started to twitch and spasm beyond control. Vegeta grasped his shoulder trying to make the muscles stop.
“Your stupid machines won’t stop me!” Vegeta shouted powering up. He then attacked the barrier in many different places trying to find a weak spot. But the barrier didn’t give in, and after each hit, a laser would shoot him again. After a while, he sat on the floor, blood oozing from each stinging wound, and muscles twitching restlessly.
“I bet you’re wondering why you haven’t gotten out yet,” Genkaku guessed. “I designed this barrier so that nothing could escape. The more pressure and strength you push on it, the more it pushes back. It is unescapable.”
Vegeta, agitated by the old man’s words, smiled coldly. “But has it ever been tested on a super-Saiyin?” Standing up, he instantly transformed into his golden haired, green-eyed form. The glow from his transformation lit up the area around him. “You will not keep me here for much longer,” he shouted. Concentrating his energy, Vegeta formed it into a ball and shot it at the barrier. To his utter bafflement, the barrier simply absorbed the energy and blasted it back at him. Vegeta had never been hit by his own attack before. And it hurt. He fell down onto the floor, gasping for breath.
“You see. It is impenetrable. Not even a god could escape.” When Genkaku said that last sentence, he laughed a little like it was some inside joke. “And even if you were to escape, which I highly doubt, I would only capture you again with my mind catcher. You have all ready experienced the power of it.”
Vegeta’s eyes widened. He knew what the old man was talking about. He barred his teeth and muttered, “I’d rather die than stay in here as your blasted pet.”
“As would many in my collection. But I have learned the many ways of suicide. My computer is programmed to counteract any way you can think of killing yourself. And even if you succeed in stopping your heart, I can easily revive you again.”
Vegeta sneered. “There is one thing you can’t stop. Time. And it looks like yours is almost run out, old man.”
“That too, I have eliminated.”
Vegeta sat up instantly. “You’re immortal?”
“If you mean, can I be killed, then no. I’m not immortal,” Genkaku replied. “But with my intelligence, I was able to stop the aging process. In fact, everything in my ship is no longer aging. So in a way, you are immortal. As long as you remain in here, you will live forever.”
Vegeta couldn’t help, but think about the irony of this scheme of things. Once, he coveted being in the state of immortality, and would do almost anything for it. He thought that the gift of immortality would give him more freedom and power than he ever dreamed of. But being confined to this ship made him nauseous. Was this to be his prison for all eternity? Is this Hell?
“I will kill you,” Vegeta swore to the old man.
“I doubt that,” Genkaku mocked. “But you do have forever to try. And I do mean forever.”
“Master, I have new information on the planet I scanned,” ASU informed the aged man.
After his conversation with Vegeta, Genkaku had been studying some information he took when Vegeta transformed. He was quite involved in his studying, and was planning some tests to do, when the computer program interrupted him. “What kind of information?”
“I have detected some unusual electromagnetic waves that emulating from a few individuals that could only be androids.”
“ASU, I have no use for androids. Most of them are a dime a dozen. Now, leave me alone.”
“But master, I believe you would be most interested in these ones.”
Genkaku had learned that if ASU says he would be interested, he should listen. “Continue.”
“These two androids are organic based with metallic components placed inside them. Most of their composure are human parts.”
“Say what?” the scientist yelled. “It’s impossible.” Genkaku had seen many androids, and all of them had been only metallic based with a few organic parts placed inside them. Genkaku never tried his hand in android making, but he knew that this technique for building androids was extremely difficult and almost impossible. Many scientists had tried this process, but found the procedure so painful to the subjects that they never survived it. “I would be extremely interested to hear how it was done. ASU, find the one who created these androids.”
“Search all ready completed, master. Unfortunately, he was killed by his last and remaining creations,” ASU replied in it’s haunting monotone voice.
“Drat. But perhaps these androids will have the information that will satisfy my curiosity. ASU, prepare the Mind Capture, and a holding unit.”
Far away from where the Earth’s special forces lived, was a small town by the sea that few knew existed. In that little town was a fishing company that was small even by the town’s standards. This company had very few employees, and their salary wasn’t a lot, but as they would often tell their families it was good honest work.
There was one man who worked there, that didn’t have a family. He didn’t have hardly anything to call his own except for the clothes on his back. Nobody knew anything about him except he lives in a shack at the edge of the town. He doesn’t talk much. They didn’t even know his name. Nobody tried to get to know him, or talk to him. They were just happy to ignore him, and pretend he wasn’t there.
The man liked it that way. He never wanted to associate with anyone, because he was afraid that they would find out his secret. If they only know who he was, what he was, they would hate him. It was better this way, for nobody to know.
In this small town, he is the man with no name. But seven years ago, he had one. They called him Android 17.
After Cell was destroyed, he had been revived by the dragonballs, but he didn’t know this. He just merely woke up from a bad dream, and never thought anymore of it. 17 wanted to forget his fusion with Cell, that horrible nightmare that haunted him where ever he went. The only way he knew how to forget was to stay away from everything that reminded him of it. So he disappeared from all of their lives. For seven years, Android 17 did not exist.
Until today . . .
On this day, 17 was trying to forget his previous life by keeping himself busy. He worked his hardest at his job, never caring what everyone thought of him. This was when the Mind Catcher swallowed him up.
Right away, his arms pinned to his side, and everything was dark. 17 struggled the best he could. Terror struck his heart as he heard a laugh, a horrible laugh from his dark past that was always in his dreams. Then he felt himself being pulled more into the darkness. His legs still free kicked frantically. Using all his strength, he reached one hand close to his chest to press the hidden button. So many times he had pressed that button, and wished that the explosives inside him would go off. But they weren’t there, and so he was helpless as Cell, once again, sucked him up.
The people in the town barely noticed that the man left just as mysteriously as he came. They didn’t know him. He wasn’t one of them. He was simply there, and then he wasn’t. It was only a few days after that they forgot him altogether.
“Excellent catch, master,” ASU complimented.
“He really gave up a struggle. He must be really afraid of his fear. I haven’t had this much fun for a long time. Where is the other android?”
“Tracking Master,” ASU replied. One the screen, she showed a female-like human walking inside a house with a child.
Genkaku squinted up at the screen. His eyes weren’t as they used to be. He was barely able to distinguish that the android was female. “Excellent. Be ready when she comes out.”
It was only a few moments later that he caught something.
Hatashi and Krillin talked, and laughed for quite a long time. They were so involved in their conversation that they barely noticed when the door opened and shut. As 18 and Marron walked into the room, Krillin readily stood up.
“Hey hon. Hey you little squirt,” Krillin greeted them.
“Who is this?” 18 asked in her usual monotone voice, nodding toward Hatashi.
“This is Hatashi Sukiaki. She’s an old friend of mine. We used to date about eight years ago,” Krillin introduced. “Tashi, this is my wife 18.”
“She’s old,” Marron commented, and hid her face in Krillin’s shirt.
“Charming daughter,” Hatashi said sarcastically. “Nice to meet you, 18. That’s an interesting name. Where does it come from?”
“It comes from the English number system,” 18 said with no fluctuation in her voice.
An awkward silence filled the room.
“Gosh Krillin, I’d really like to stay, and burn the daylight with you, but I’m afraid I have to leave. It’s almost dark, and I have to go get Tay before he thinks I died or something,” Hatashi told her friend. “I’ll see you around.”
“Okay then. Maybe we could get together later on or something.”
“Sure. I still have something to talk to you about. Later.”
After they said their good-byes, Hatashi left, and nobody bothered watching her leave. Later Krillin would wish he had because Hatashi never made it to her car.
Puar sighed heavily as she saw once again the orange blob that sat silently by the window watching the cars go by on the street below. The silence seemed eerie since just an hour ago Tay was speaking a million words per minute. It was now getting dark, and Hatashi hadn’t come back.
Yamcha seemed silent as well. Secretly in his head, he couldn’t wait to see the woman that had appeared on his door steps again. But in the same moment he dreaded it, not wanting to be in that helpless state that never allows him to speak.
Puar was also anxious for Hatashi’s return, but for a different reason. She needed to be away from her brother for a while to save her sanity. Ever since he arrived, he had clung onto her, and never left her side. And she mostly dreaded the question which she had been dodging all day. Why did you leave? Could she tell him the truth? That part of the reason she left home was Tay? What would he say? Would he adore her as he did before? Puar sighed as the conflict raged inside of her.
“Puar?” Tay called from his place. “I’m having a bad feeling. Where’s Hatashi?”
Puar floated over to her brother. “I don’t know. We’ve called the number she left, but nobody has answered.”
“Something bad has happened. I know it,” Tay said slowly. “Hatashi usually is such a klutz, and never is on time, but not like this. I just know that something is wrong.”
“We don’t know if something bad has happened to her,” Puar tried to comfort him.
Tay sighed. “I was thinking, what if I went with her. Would it have happened to me also, or would it not have happened?” He stared out the window and whispered, “What if she meant to leave me here?”
Puar thought angrily in her head, If she did . . .
“She wouldn’t do that to me, would she?” Tay cried out, his face full of fear.
Puar was completely surprised as Tay started to cry. Why was he acting like this? If she did, why would he care? When the two were together, they acted like they hated each other. I don’t get it. Then a realization hit her. Is he afraid of being abandoned?
Tay rubbed the tears away, and turned to Puar. “Why did you leave home?” Tay asked his eyes pleading.
Puar cringed at the question, but found no way out of not answered it. She sighed.
Tay sensed her pause, and said before she had time to answer, “It’s because of me, wasn’t it?”
Puar gasped as he hit it dead on.
Tay smiled ironically. “It’s okay. I understand. I didn’t know what I was doing when I was little.” Tay didn’t look at his older sister, but watched the car lights on the streets below. “You were always looking after me. Always helping me and playing with me, even though you didn’t want to. For that, I wish I could take back some of the things I did to you. But I know I can’t.” Tay then turned and looked at her with his sky blue eyes. “I promise I’m going to make it up to you.”
Puar smiled and told him, “That’s not the whole reason I left. I wanted to go to school. That’s why I left.”
Tay smiled brightly. “So you can shape shift now?”
Puar puffed up her chest with pride. “Yep, I graduated at the top of my class.”
“Yeah, Puar. You’re the best. Then, I’m glad you ran away,” he cheered and then turned back to watching cars.
Puar smiled sincerely for the first time that day. For some reason she felt this was rare for Tay to act this way, and she was one of the few he would share it with. Perhaps he isn’t that bad, she thought.
Bulma hugged her pillow tightly as she looked out the dark window. A small tear lingered in her eye. It almost fell until she saw it in the reflection of the window. Stubbornly, she whipped it away.
“Stupid Vegeta. He probably just took off to annoy me. Well, he can just forget about me being worried about him. I’ll just go to bed, and forget all about him too. I won’t wait up for him any longer,” she told herself angrily. Her face wrinkled into a frown. Then she sighed, and returned to her virgil, her eyes searching the dark sky for him.
(Author’s note: I know that scene with Puar and Tay was so serious but just thinking about them talking that way in little squeaky voices makes me laugh. ^.^)