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Price of the Priceless

Chapter 4: All of the Pieces

By Hatashi Kitty

Hatashi was running. The smell was so over powering, she could hardly breathe, but still she ran. She looked back behind her shoulder. No matter how hard she ran, it was always after her. Right as she glanced behind, she tripped over her own feet, landing hard on her stomach. In fear, she tried to scramble away, but a rotting hand grabbed her shoulder. She screamed loudly as her flesh burned underneath the hand.
The hand turned her over so she was forced to look at the owner. Hatashi tried to crawl away, but was paralyzed with fear. He was very tall, and was drooped in a long black robe. In his long-fingered cancerous hand was a deadly scythe. But that wasn’t what frightened her. It was his face.
The flesh was rotting gruesomely away right before her eyes. The man’s eyes were a cold grey that pierced into her soul. His eye sockets and the hollows of his cheeks were sunken in. She could feel his hot, sour breath on her as he breathed shallowly.
Hatashi could barely breathe as the horrible stench surrounded her. It grew stronger and stronger as the man held onto her with his mesmerizing eyes. She knew who he was, and he knew that she knew. They had met once before.
He was Death.
“You are mine,” Death rasped his voice sounding old. “You were taken from me once, but not again. This time you are mine.”
“No,” Hatashi barely cried out, the horrible smell of death filling her lungs. “No, I won’t go back.”
“You can’t get away. You are mine,” Death gasped, and grabbed her neck.
The cold, burning pain was there again. Hatashi tried to scream, but the hand around her throat was closing tight around her windpipe. Please, someone help me. I don’t want to die, she yelled in her head as she became dizzy with pain and lack of air. She could feel her heart beating harder but slower and slower.

**************

“Master, the new arrival. She is no longer breathing,” ASU informed.
Genkaku replied not at all worriedly. “Start resuscitation. And turn off the Mind Catcher.” He had been watching the woman carefully.
The hum of his invention turned off.
“Master, the subject has gone into cardiac arrest,” ASU informed once again.
Genkaku started to sweat. Many who experienced the Mind Catcher have stopped breathing, but none have actually been able to stop their own hearts. “Start the revival process.”
“Commencing with revival. Please stand back, master,” ASU warned. The glass-like cage glowed a little as the computer shot electricity right at Hatashi’s heart. The woman’s body jumped, then she gasped for air. She was still, now sleeping peacefully.
“The subject has been revived. I will continue to monitor her.”
“Excellent,” Genkaku praised. “Inform me when she and the other android wake. I would like to talk to them.”

*******

For some reason Death disappeared, and for a long time she lay in the darkness. Slowly Hatashi opened her eyes. Hatashi didn’t know how she escaped that Hell or where she was. Her head felt heavy and dizzy, and her eyes burned wanting to sleep. She looked around her circular prison, and saw a man with dark hair laying near her, his body trembling. She was about to wake him, but her body collapsed and she fell asleep.

********

Picolo would have liked to be training at this moment, but Dendae had insisted that he come up to the Lookout. Picolo had learned through trial and error that Dendae did not act as young as he was. He took the job as Guardian of the Earth much more seriously than past predecessors. If Dendae wanted to talk to him, it was important.
As Picolo landed on the Lookout, he started walking toward Dendae, who looked as if a heavy weight was taken off his shoulders.
“Picolo, I’m so glad you’re here.”
“What is it Dendae?”
“I’ve been sensing something since this morning. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s dangerous,” Dendae said worriedly.
“Like how?” Picolo inquired interested.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I’m wrong,” the youth rationalized.
“Dendae, if you sensed something, you are probably right,” Picolo encouraged. “You have been given all the gifts of the Guardian of the Earth. You have the ability to sense when the planet is in trouble. Now, please tell me everything.”
Dendae frowned and looked up. “It’s up there, somewhere. It wants to stay hidden where we can’t get to it. It wants something from the earth.”
“What does it want? What is it?”
Dendae shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Concentrate Dendae. Kami had the unusual power to know these kinds of things. I’m sure you have the same,” Picolo encouraged more.
Dendae scrunched his eyes closed, his face serious.
“What does it want?” Picolo asked again.
“People,” he said in a calm expressionless voice. “Rare people. It has taken Vegeta. I can feel his energy although it is masked. There are two other that have been taken, one strong and one weak.”
“Will it go away now?” Picolo asked hopefully. Even though Picolo didn’t care for Vegeta, he was a strong ally. Perhaps there was someway to help him yet.
“No, it wants someone else, and then it will go away. Picolo!” The young Guardian paused trying to see with his mind. “Oh, no. Its going to destroy the Earth after it gets what it wants,” Dendae yelled.
“Who does it want?” Picolo grabbed the young Namek’s shoulders and shook them. “We need to warn them. If we can prevent them from being abducted, we could buy enough time to save the Earth.”
“I can’t see that,” Dendae mumbled sadly. “Picolo, what are we going to do?” He opened his eyes to look at his mentor, but Picolo was gone. “Picolo?!” Dendae then realized who it was the thing wanted. And now the destruction of Earth was inevitable.

********

The next holding bay was ready, and Genkaku was seated near the computer. This would be his last catch on this planet, which would be a record. He had never found another planet with so many rare finds. It would be a shame to have to destroy it when he was done. Oh well.
On the screen, ASU showed a floating palace high about the Earth where two green humanoids were talking.
“I’ll be taking in this one,” Genkaku said pointing to the younger one with the staff. “It isn’t often you can find such a young Namek since they don’t reproduce unless the need occurs.”
“Warning master,” ASU interrupted. “He is the Guardian of this planet.”
Genkaku frowned. “How is that possible that such a young creature that’s not even a native of the planet could be a guardian?” Genkaku yelled. He was not in the mood to have his plans ruined.
“I do not have that information, Master, but I would advise to leave him alone. To capture him would bring in the influence of the Kais,” ASU counseled. “And you remember what happens when they come in.”
“Yes, I had to start my collection all over. I can’t risk that happening again,” Genkaku sighed. “Very well, I will capture the other.”

********

Picolo relived every incident he could remember when he protected Gohan. Many times the kid would have died if Picolo did not interfere. He could still remember that night so long ago that he and Gohan, as a kid, sat by a campfire. Gohan was asleep. Picolo had reached over, and smoothed down the young half-Saiyin’s hair. “I won’t let anything happen to you, Gohan. I promise.” And had been able to keep that promise all these years.
“Picolo!”
Picolo was jarred away from his old memories to hear Gohan yelling.
“Gohan, where are you? Gohan!”
Then through the darkness, he saw the teenager being beaten by a tall cloaked figure.
“Gohan!” Picolo tried to run to him, but something held his arms back. He pulled and pulled until he thought his arms would rip off.
The cloaked figure again and again attacked Gohan, who was now so tired and beaten he couldn’t retaliate. Soon Gohan was on the ground not moving at all. The cloaked form stood above him with his palm pointed at the teen’s head.
“NOOO!” Picolo shouted as a bright beam of energy shot Gohan. Picolo felt himself being release from his invisible bonds, and he ran to Gohan’s side. “Gohan. No.”
“Picolo?” Gohan asked in a weak voice. “Picolo, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give it all I had. I failed you.” Then, Gohan was suddenly very still, his eyes still staring up at Picolo.
“Rest, my friend. You have done more than any has expected of you,” Picolo managed to say as he closed Gohan’s eyes. His eyes were brimming with tears, very rare for him. He was the one who had failed. He made a promise to a young boy, and had broken it. “You, filthy . . .” Picolo tried to curse, but his voice started cracking. “You took away the only one I ever truly care about. The only one who cared about me.”
Picolo turned around to look at the cloaked figure. With surprising strength and speed, he attacked the figure. It wasn’t long before he took his enemy down just as Gohan had been. “Before I send you to the next dimension, let’s see who you are.” Picolo’s nails dug into the cloth as he ripped the hood off. “No, you can’t be.” Stunned, Picolo let go of the cloaked figure, and backed away as he looked into a green face with cold black eyes so similar to his own. “You-you can’t be me. No,” Picolo cried out.
“Oh, but I am,” the other Picolo said smugly, getting up from the ground. “Did you honestly think you could get away from me? Your old instincts? You were Kami’s evil half and still are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Did you honestly think you could hide away your carnal desires?” the cloaked Picolo accused with a smile on his face. “Stop trying to be Kami, you know that’s not what you want.”
Picolo covered his eyes and shouted, “No, you’re lying. You killed Gohan.”
“No, I didn’t,” the other Picolo declared with a smirk. “Look at your own hands.”
Picolo looked down at his hands; they were no longer green. They were slick with glistening red blood, dripping off his fingers. And not just Gohan’s blood, but were also stained with millions of others. “What- what have I done? Gohan, I’m sorry.”
Then in a flash, Picolo was no longer in darkness, but in a circular glass imprisonment. On the other side was an old man who was running his fingers down the slick surface of the glass.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” the old man said not looking at the Namek. “I call it my Mind Catcher. It makes the subject live through their own fears until their will is broken, so I can catch them with ease. I’ve seen many interesting reactions, such as, many fight and kick to get away. Others, even though they are too petrified to move, still resist. But with you, it was different. You actually pulled yourself towards me, toward your own fear. You didn’t resist as I transported you here. Now, please tell me, and tell truthfully, what is it you saw?”
Picolo scowled at the old man. He recomposed himself, standing up near the old man with only the glassy walls in between them. Picolo’s height towered over the decrepit man as looked down. “Maybe you should try your Mind Catcher yourself, and maybe you’ll find out,” Picolo growled.
“No a very good sport, are you?” the old man told him.
“Hardly when someone has taken me from my home, and is going to destroy my planet,” Picolo replied coldly.
Genkaku raised an eyebrow. “I see that someone has found me out. I’m surprised that you know of my little plan.”
“No one sneaks up on the Earth. Not on my watch,” Picolo told him and crossed his arms. “And I suggest you let me go, or you might get a visit from a couple of my friends.”
“I doubt that you’ll be able to communicate with them. I am well aware of the Namekians ability to communicate telepathically. My ship is designed to keep in and out such messages. Only the Guardians and the Kais are able to do so.”
Picolo’s cool talk ended then. “Spare the Earth. Please, I beg of you. Don’t destroy it. I won’t try to escape, I’ll do whatever you want,” Picolo begged.
Genkaku smiled as someone would to a naive little child. “I have you, and you can’t escape. I’ve made sure of that.”
Picolo tried again. “Please, the Earth is nothing to you. There is no reason to destroy so many innocent people.”
Genkaku didn’t show any signs of guilt. “Yes, there is. I cannot leave any evidence. To do so would mean the eventual influence of the Kais. A living Guardian is a witness. A dead one on an empty planet is an unexplainable death. So therefore I must destroy it.”
“How much longer does the Earth have?” Picolo asked anxiously.
Genkaku frowned. “This conversation isn’t interesting anymore. I’m leaving. But perhaps we will talk again.”
Picolo yelled at the old man to come back. Why was he so cold? In a burst of frustration, Picolo hit the wall. Instantly his hand started to hurt and the muscles around it started to twitch uncontrollably. Picolo looked at his hand; which was now oozing purple blood from a wound. Picolo looked up in time to see a small laser gun disappearing into the ceiling. He narrowed his eyes at the metallic seam in the ceiling. As he tried to calm his hand’s muscles, he made a mental note of this.
Picolo then sat down to meditate. He concentrated hard on the mind of Dendae. Just as the old man said, he couldn’t reach out to the younger Namek. But he could hear Dendae calling out to him, but he couldn’t reply. He just hoped Dendae would inform the Kais instead of seeking out Earth’s special forces.
Picolo turned his mind to the thoughts of those inside the spaceship. Through the jumble of random minds, he could distinguish Vegeta’s. He tried to contact him, but the Saiyin’s thoughts were too angry for Picolo to really communicate with him. At least he wasn’t completely alone.

*********

Gohan had awakened in the middle of the night. In the darkness, he heard a voice calling his name. As he sat in bed, he recognized it as Dendae’s. “Dendae? What is it?”
Through telepathic speech, Dendae related everything that he had seen and Picolo’s disappearance. “Gohan, I’m scared. The Earth is in trouble, and I don’t know what to do?”
“How much time do we have?” Gohan asked anxiously gripping the covers of his bed.
“I don’t know. It could be days maybe just hours. I can’t read it right now,” Dendae’s voice said nervously.
“Don’t worry. I’ll go talk to Bulma about getting a spaceship ready. I’ll take care of it.”
“Thank you, Gohan,” the Guardian of the Earth said before ending the telepathic link. He didn’t feel any better about telling Gohan, but he couldn’t think of anything else to do.
Gohan couldn’t go back to sleep so he climbed out of bed, and quietly dressed himself. He was afraid of waking up his mother, so he crawled out the window and flew silently through the night. It was eerie being out this late, and it made him remember a lot when he was training with Picolo in the woods.
Picolo, you better be okay, he thought as he looked up into the starry sky.
It didn’t take him long to get to Capsule Corp.’s main compound where the Brief family lived. To Gohan’s surprise, there was still a light on. As he came in closer to the window, he saw Bulma staring out into the darkness. He knocked on the glass.
Bulma was dizzy from sleepiness, and wasn’t paying attention to anything outside the window. When she saw Gohan, she gave out a small scream, but quickly quieted herself. After letting the youth in, she scolded him.
“How dare you scare me. Don’t you know anything about calling ahead? Don’t you know what time it is?”
“I’m sorry, but I really needed to talk to you. Why are you up so late?” Gohan asked curiously.
Bulma yawned. “I was waiting for Vegeta.”
Gohan broke out into a sweat. He couldn’t believe he had to be the one to tell Bulma where her husband was. “Um, the thing I have to talk to you about, it also has to do with Vegeta.”
“You know where he is?” Bulma yelled, jumping closer to the young man.
Gohan nodded, and repeated to her all that Dendae told him.
Throughout the story, Bulma paid close attention, and didn’t say anything. When Gohan ended, she walked to the window, and looked up into the sky.
“Bulma, I need a spaceship ASAP, or the Earth is doomed.” Gohan urged.
Bulma snapped out of her trance. “Of corse. I’ll get on it,” she said with her usual enthusiasm.
“How long will it take?” Gohan asked nervously.
Bulma put her hand on her chin in deep thought. “I never bothered fixing that old spaceship you guys keep crashing. I’ll have to replace a couple of components, replace a few heat shields, and refuel it. It will take at least a day.”
“A whole day. I hope we have that much time. Dendae was very vague on our time limit,” Gohan murmured.
“It’s the best I can do so let’s hope it’s good enough.”

*********

Vegeta tried every possible way to escape, but no matter how hard or where he hit, his prison would not break. And worse yet was the little laser that never failed to punish him.
“Yes, my beauty. We will never be parted. You will forever stay with me,” Genkaku’s voice echoed through the metallic world.
Vegeta located the old man standing near a large green shinny rock about seven feet tall. The rock was sitting on a large platform a few feet away from Vegeta’s imprisonment. The rock gave off a strange phosphorescent light.
Genkaku stroked the rock with a gentle hand. “How beautiful you are, my pretty. All mine. Forever.”
The rock’s strange glow became brighter and more intense until it hurt to look at it straight on. The scientist took a step back shielding his eyes from the light. Then it dimmed back to its usual glow.
“You aren’t strong enough to break free, my beauty. Never will you be strong enough. You are mine,” Genkaku told it with a soothing voice, and began to stroke it again.
“The old man is insane,” Vegeta told himself. Not wanting to watch the strange display, the Saiyin Prince turned around. He never paid any attention to the other displays before, but now he looked them over.
Most of the exhibits were monestrous animals that paced in their cages scowling at their glassy confined world. Others were human-like beings that paid no attention to anyone or anything. They were only interested in entertaining themselves before they went mad, as many before them have been. One cage contained a muscular humanoid. He was sitting down with one hand resting on his knee, the other was tapping constantly on the metallic floor. His clothing resembled that of a black gi, but now was reduced to tattered rags. Vegeta could only see his right profile which was set on starring in front of him with a blank expression. The man’s black hair spiked upward over his head except for three strands that fell over his forehead. But most curious feature was the long brown furry tail that lay on the floor, twitching every now and then.
Another Saiyin?! Vegeta could hardly believe it. But how could there be another Saiyin? Freeza destroyed the entire planet. “Hey you!” he shouted and tapped on the glass.
The man didn’t move.
“Hey, are you a Saiyin?” Vegeta yelled hoping to get his attention.
Still, the man didn’t budge.
Vegeta continued to yell, but the man didn’t make any gesture that he heard. Vegeta almost believed him to be mad, when a voice interrupted.
“I see you found the only other of your kind,” an old decrepit voice said that could only come from Genkaku.
Vegeta turned around, and looked at the old man, then glanced back at the other Saiyin. He was no longer sitting, but standing and looking at Vegeta in a surprised wide-eyed expression. No longer facing sideways, Vegeta could see that his left eye was different. Burn scars were all over his eyelid and cheek, the iris and pupil were no longer black, but a pale gray of one that had gone blind.
“Surprising, isn’t it?” Genkaku interrupted Vegeta’s observations in the same voice as when he spoke to the green rock. “I was, too. Lucky, isn’t it to find the pair of you. You should thank me. Now the Saiyin race will live forever where civilizations, planets, solar systems, even histories will be destroyed. You would have died without me.”
“A Saiyin?” the other Saiyin whispered as if he had not heard the name for years.
“Master,” a feminine voice called.
“Please excuse me gentlemen,” Genkaku said pleasantly and hobbled off leaving the two Saiyins to stare at each other.
“What is it ASU?” Genkaku spoke into the golden cylinder.
“Master, the android’s are awake. You wanted to question them,” ASU answered.
“Excellent.” He hobbled down a few levels to where the android’s cage was.
Since he had been awake, 17 stayed away from the strange woman who woke up shortly thereafter. The woman had crawled to the wall where she propped her back up, and stared at nothing. Both stayed this way until a gnarled old man tapped the glass with his cane, which startled Hatashi.
“Hello, my dear androids. Welcome to my humble abode,” the old man greeted as two pairs of eyes locked onto him. “Please tell me how you were made. Your master was an exquisite craftsman, and I want to know how he did it.”
17 answered him nonchalantly. “Why don’t you ask him yourself. It looks as if you’ll be joining him in Hell.”
Genkaku growled. This isn’t what he wanted to hear. “What about you, my dear?” he asked turning to Hatashi. “Will you tell me your secrets?”
Still shaken by that horrible dream of hers, Hatashi looked at him in confusion. She stayed silent.
“Tell me!” the scientist yelled louder than was possible, and pounded on the glass.
Hatashi jumped at the noise. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she yelled back almost on the brink of hysterics. “Who are you? Where am I? Why have you brought me here?”
It was Genkaku’s turn to look confused. Then he relaxed. “Ahh, you androids are tricky. Trying to get me to believe you aren’t what you are. I am not so easily fooled. You know why you are here.”
“No, I don’t. I’m not an android!” Hatashi exclaimed. “Let me go!”
Genkaku raised an eyebrow in a board expression. “Maybe in a couple of days you’ll cooperate,” he told them, and walked away.
“Please let me out of here,” Hatashi said weakly and crumpled to the floor.
17 watched as the woman turned around and looked at him. Could that man think she is 18? Is he blind, and he couldn’t tell that she wasn’t an android? Or did 18 get away, and this woman just was in the wrong place at the wrong time? Whatever that old man thinks, it seems as if we will be trapped together. At least for a while. 17 smiled at the challenge that lay before him.

*******

Gohan yawned as he walked down the street on his way to school. After talking with Bulma, he went home, but didn’t get any more sleep. He couldn’t, knowing that the planet could go any moment. The half-Saiyin passed a store widow with a T.V. inside showing the news. The newscaster was pointing to a photo of a woman with black and purple hair. Gohan did a double take when he saw the picture of the woman. She had black hair with two purple strands that framed her face.
“Could that be the car thief from the other day?” Gohan asked himself trying to remember. He listened to the newscaster closely.
“Hatashi Sukiaki, a newspaper photographer, has been reported missing since two o’ clock yesterday afternoon. The last person to see her was. . ,” the reporter paused to read his notes, “. . . was her cat? Is this right? If anyone has any information about her whereabouts since then please contact this station or the police.”
Gohan continued on his walk to school, thinking about Vegeta and Picolo’s disappearance as well as the woman’s. She disappeared before Vegeta but after Picolo. Do they have something in common? Or is it just coincidence? And is she that car thief? Questions flooded Gohan’s brain, and it took all his concentration trying to keep all the information right. He was thinking so hard, he wasn’t looking where he was going. Before he knew it, he collided with another body wrapped up in a cloak.
The cloaked figure was a lot smaller, and fell to the ground before the larger person.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t . . . ” Gohan started to apologize, but stopped when the hood of the cloak fell away from the person’s face. “You!” Gohan whispered.
The girl in the cloak scowled up at him with her deep blue eyes. Her hair was completely black except two small strands near her ears. They were purple.
The two of them stayed where they were for a long time, just starring at each other. Then in a sudden burst of energy, the girl jumped to her feet, pushed Gohan away and started running.
“Hey! Get back here!” Gohan yelled as he gave chase.
No matter how hard Gohan tried to keep up, the girl was able to elude him. She was smaller than him, and able to move through the crowd of people on the sidewalk. She was also faster than a normal person. But Gohan saw that his luck had changed as the girl turned down a dead end alley.
I have you now, Gohan thought to himself. Just as he turned down into the alley, he ran into another body for the second time today. This time, both of them were knocked to the ground.
“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” a feminine voice exclaimed.
Gohan turned to the owner of the voice. She wasn’t the same girl he was pursuing. “Yeah, I’m okay. How about you?” Gohan asked picking himself up, then offering a hand to the girl.
“I’m okay, too,” the young woman said with a smile and took Gohan’s hand. “What were you doing running that fast?”
Gohan looked down the alley. It was completely empty. “Did you see a girl in a cloak run past you into this alley?”
The girl looked down the alley as well. “No, I didn’t,” the girl said confused.
Gohan sighed. She got away again. And I almost had her. He then walked away from the alley, and the girl he just bumped into, who left in another direction.
Above them, the cloaked girl floated in the air her hair and clothes billowing in the wind. In a rage of furry, she tore the large cloak off, and threw it into the air letting loose a long fury tail the whip in the wild air. Next to her was a masculine figure with his own black and purple hair being teased by the wind along with a similar tail.
“That was a close one,” the male said in an almost teasing voice.
“Stupid Earthlings. Always interfering with things they know nothing about,” the girl growled, clenching her fists.
“We may have to watch that guy. That’s twice he almost caught you. And by the way he was running, he may be faster than you,” the male figure teased.
“No one is faster than me. Especially no Earthling,” the girl yelled getting ready to punch her companion.
“Hey cool it. Don’t waste your energy. We’ll need it for tonight. I have a plan to get everything we need,” he said in a calm soothing manner and handed the girl a flyer.
She took a look at it and smiled. “Perfect.”

*********

Gohan was barely able to make it to class before the bell rang. His encounter with the mysterious girl made him have to run the rest of the way. He quickly rushed into the classroom, and took his seat. As the teacher walked in and started giving the day’s lecture, the teen warrior put his head on the table.
Marissa, the bubbly blond who sat next to him, poked him with her elbow. “Tired?”
Gohan didn’t lift his head but just moaned.
“Leave him alone,” Videl told her friend as she wrote down some notes. “He has a long way to travel and probably has to wake up early.”
Gohan lifted his head, and gave Videl a smile. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea for someone else to know his secret.
“Gohan,” Videl whispered once Marissa had left Gohan alone. “Are you coming to the martial arts meet tonight?”
For an entire week now, the school had been advertising for their annual martial arts competition against a rival school. Everyone was getting into the school spirit for this one event. Flyers were posted everywhere and they even painted a billboard trying to get everyone to come.
Gohan felt so tired. All he wanted to do was go to sleep. And then there was the girl still on the loose to worry about.
“I don’t know. I have. . .”
“Because I was hoping that Saiya-Man would be there.”
Gohan sat straight up in his chair. Does she want to fight me that badly?
“Since I’m going to be busy,” Videl continued in a whisper, “I’ll need someone to be on the watch. I’m sure those car thieves are going to strike at the competition. There’s going to be a lot of cars, and nobody around to watch them.”
Gohan narrowed his eyes at the mention of the car thieves. Twice that girl was able to elude him. No way was he going to let that happen again.
Gohan gave Videl a smile and the thumbs up in acceptance.
Videl smiled, and continued on with her note taking.
Gohan tried to do the same, but he couldn’t help but worry about all that has been going on. Gohan closed his eyes, and tried to remember what the girl looked like. He was able to get a better look this time. She was young, maybe younger than he was. No way could she be that kidnaped woman. Did that girl have anything to do with the kidnaping? And the disappearance of Vegeta and Picolo? Gohan felt that these events were connected somehow, but he couldn’t think how? If only he was able just to talk to that girl, he could get some answers.

*********

Deep in the forest surrounding the Son’s house, Goten and Trunks flew in the foliage, dodging trees as they played tag. Trunks had been dropped off at his friend’s house so his mother could work on the space ship.
“Trunks, slow down. I’m not as good at flying as you are,” Goten shouted to his friend.
“Tough,” Trunks shouted back. Then after a while, he stopped.
Goten had to quickly stop before ramming into him.
“I have an idea. Let’s go swimming in that lake,” Trunks suggested and pointed to a small body of water ahead of them.
“Okay, race you,” Goten said and took off.
“Hey!” Trunks exclaimed as the younger half-saiyin started before him. Being older and more experienced, Trunks passed Goten easily. As he arrived at the lake, Trunks flung his clothes off as he landed. “Come on, slow poke,” Trunks yelled before he jumped into the cool water.
“I’m coming,” Goten yelled as he had trouble taking off his shoes.
The two splashed around in the water until Trunks grew tired, and crawled out. Goten played around some more and then followed. The two of them lay down on the bank near the lake where the grass was warm from the sun.
“Hey Trunks. Where did your dad go the other day?” Goten asked out of the blue.
“I don’t know. I asked my mom this morning, and she started to cry. I think he and mom had a fight, and he left for a while,” Trunks answered.
“Oh,” Goten said, and was quiet for a while. “Trunks?”
“What?”
“What’s it like to have a dad?”
Trunks was silent for a moment, then replied. “It’s like having a force field around you. When I’m with my dad, I feel like nothing can hurt me. Whenever I train with him, I can feel how strong he is, and I always tell myself, ‘I want to be just like him’.”
“Really?” Goten asked amazed.
“Hey, your dad is coming back from the dead for a day, isn’t he?”
“Yep.”
“Are you excited?”
Goten stared up at the sky. “I don’t know. I’m kind of nervous.”
Trunks laughed. “That’s stupid. He’s just your dad. Why should you be nervous?”
Goten sat up. “I’ve never seen him before. Whenever I think about it, it just feels like a stranger is coming to visit. What if he doesn’t like me?”
Trunks laughed again. “What do you mean? He’s your dad. He’ll like anyway. That’s what dads do.”
Goten feeling a bit more reassured lay back down. They both stayed that way, silently looking up at the clouds until Trunks decided it was too quiet, and pushed his friend back into the water intentionally starting a water fight.

*******

“Police department. What can I do for you?”
“Hi, I’m calling about a missing person. Hatashi Sukiaki,” Krillin spoke into the phone. He then waited while he was transferred to the right department.
“Missing persons bureau. You have information about Miss. Sukiaki?” the person on the other line said.
“Yes, she came to my house yesterday evening.”
“What time?”
“About four.”
“When did she leave?”
“Around five. Do you know what happened to her?”
The person on the phones sighed. “Sir, any information we have will be on the news. Is there anything we need to know about yesterday? Did she seem nervous? Was she with anyone? Did she voice any concerns to you?”
Krillin thought. “Not that I can think of. She did leave her car on the street,” Krillin reported and sighed. “She was a really good friend. Has there been any information about her? Has anyone called in?”
“Look buddy, from what I know you’re probably the last one to see her before she disappeared. Now I’m going to need to know where you live, and some other information. Now it’s just standard procedure, but I’m going to send some officers to talk to you.”
Krillin willingly told the person over the phone the information they asked for.
Just as the person was about to hand up Krillin helf-yelled into the phone, “You’ll call me if you hear anything, will you? Please.”
The person heaved a heavy sigh. “Sure we will. But to tell you the truth, this is the weirdest case we’ve ever had. It’s like the lady disappeared into thin air.”
With that the person hung up. Krillin slowly put the phone down onto the receiver. It’s like the lady disappeared into thin air. Those words seemed to be etched into his head. A sickening feeling swept over him. He had a feeling those words weren’t far from the truth.

**********

Genkaku starred out of a window at the beautiful Earth rotating in space. All of the planets he had destroyed before had been beautiful, this one wasn’t an exception.
“My heart has grown cold to the beauty of the universe. I have no feelings for being what I am,” Genkaku told the Earth. “I have all the pieces I need. I no longer need to stay here.” He reached to the golden cylinder on his coat to give the final command.