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Price of the Priceless

Chapter seven: Infiltrating the Enemy’s Shell

by Hatashi Kitty

Confinement. Imprisoned. Captured. Trapped. No freedom. No movement.
For thousands of years, She had been this way, locked up in this prison of crystalized stone. The beauty of the green gem in which She lay lost all it’s magnificence over the years. Not being able to see or feel anything else, She felt a hateful contempt for the green rock.
She had thought Herself vulnerable to the power of the crystal and She humored the old man. She allowed Herself to be captured by him and be kept in the rock. She would listen to his pampering voice, and laughed when She imagined his surprise when She decided She had enough. That was what ended Her impudence. Every minute the crystal drained Her energy little by little. She never noticed Her power was being sucked from Her body until it was too late. She had struggled against Her imprisonment until Her energy was depleted to only enough to sustain Her in a coma-like sleep.
She stayed this way, except when She felt a high powerful energy. At Vegeta’s surge of energy She strained to consciousness. Ever since then She had been exhausting herself to stay awake. She focused on that single energy source for hours. Then She felt a new power source. This one is stronger and coming toward Her out of his own free will.
She settled back into a half-consciousness. She had a feeling She was going to need to save Her strength.

*********

Goten and Trunks squirmed under the constant glare of the principal’s secretary. Ever since they had been seated in the foyer to wait for their mothers, those small beady eyes watched their every movement through thick, square rimmed glasses.
Trunks was so relieved when his mother walked through the door. But his relief was disintegrated as he saw the look on her face.
Bulma didn’t even look at her son as she walked by, into the principal’s office. Through the open doorway, Trunks could hear the exchanging of words, but they were too inaudible to contemplate. The words died down, and Bulma walked out of the office with the same strict look on her face. Roughly she grabbed Trunks’ arm.
“You are in so much trouble, young man!” Bulma yelled.
“Ow! What did I do?” Trunks shouted back.
“You know what you did!”
“It’s not my fault!”
“I know something like this would happen . . . ”
“Mom, quit overeating!”
“It’s all of Vegeta’s influence. I know it!”
“Dad didn’t do anything . . . ”
The two continued to shout as Bulma dragged Trunks out of the door. Even as they walked away, the residence of the office could hear the squabble.
Soon after, Chichi walked into the office, and spotted her son.
“Goten,” she said kneeling down next to his chair. “I got a call. They said you were in a fight.”
“Yeah, Mom. I’m really sor. . .”
“Are you okay?” Chichi interrupted. “Did you get hurt?”
Goten shook his head. “Aren’t you mad at me?” he asked timidly.
“Yes, I am. You did get in a fight at school,” Chichi said sternly. “But I’m worried about you also. Are you okay?”
“Yeah.”
The principal walked in. “Thank you Mrs. Son for coming. I would like to talk to you about your son’s choice in friends.”
“What does Trunks have to do with Goten?” Chichi asked.
“Well, according to the students who saw the fight, Trunks hit the other boy first,” the principal drawled on. “And I believe Goten would not have been in this fight if Trunks didn’t influence him.”
“Are you saying Trunks is a bad kid?” Chichi demanded.
“It wasn’t Trunks’ fault!” Goten protested. “The other boy tried to hit Trunks first. And besides he stole this one girl’s toy.”
The principal regarded the small child lightly and ignored him.
Chichi on the other hand didn’t. “Is this true, Goten?” Seeing Goten nod his head, Chichi turned back to the principal. “Aren’t you going to consider this?”
“Of course I did,” the principal defended. “But the point is Trunks hit another student. It isn’t the school’s job to judge who started what, but we cannot tolerate violence on our grounds. The other boys were punished as well, if that will make you feel better, Mrs. Son.”
“No, it doesn’t. What I want to know is where were the teachers during this fight,” Chichi interrogated the principal. When she received no answer from her angry question, she grabbed her son’s hand, and led him out.

*********

17 examined the crack in the glass. His energy blast split the small star into a crack twice its original size. A smirk crossed his face.
“I’m going to try one more time,” 17 warned his cell mate.
Hatashi was still weak from lack of nourishment, but out of fear from what happened the last time she forced herself to stand up. She wobbled a little, grabbing hold of 17 to steady herself. “Just be careful this time. I’m not talking my shirt off to bandage another injury.”
17 raised an eyebrow at what was just said. In a way, it reminded him of his fashion-sensed sister, but Hatashi didn’t seem to say it the same way. 17 smiled to himself, feeling strange to smile so willingly after so many years. “Okay, I’ll be trying a different approach. Hold on tight, just in case,” 17 warned. After he felt Hatashi clung to him weakly, while he gathered energy.
Instead of forming a large ball of energy, 17 concentrated only on a small sliver of energy. He then slipped the energy into the crack. Lastly, he willed the energy to press on the sides of the crack.
The results came instantly. The crack increased it’s sized, and branched out in a web-like pattern over the entire confinement. Their glass prison shattered around them.
“Prisoner escape! Prisoner escape!” a loud voice blared.
“Where do we go?” Hatashi yelled over the alarm.
“Up,” 17 told her, grabbing her around the waist with his uninjured arm.
“What?!” Hatashi exclaimed, about to push herself away. But when 17 started flying to ward the ceiling, she hung onto him, giving out a slight scream.
Even though his arm hurt like a beast, 17 used it to blast a hole into the ceiling so that he could fly up to the next level. From there, he blasted that ceiling to get to the level after that. After a few more levels, they came upon a large circular room that was filled to the brim with one of the most high tech computer system that Hatashi had even seen, even in sci-fi movies.
“Where are we?” Hatashi asked looking around in awe.
“In the brain of the ship. Where it is most vulnerable,” 17 told her. “I found it by tracing the electronic waves my sensors picked it up.” On his good arm, he peeled back his skin to reveal his inside of hard ware. Carefully he picked out a chosen wire, and broke it. Reaching under the large console, 17 brought out a hand full of wires. Choosing one from the bunch, he broke it as well. Then he started connecting his broken wire to the computer’s.
Hatashi was especially interest in the inner works of his arm, noticing that next to some wires were arteries and blood vessels, pumping living blood to his body and heart. When she saw 17 connecting himself to the computer, she panicked. “What are you doing?” Hatashi asked horrified.
“Tapping into the ship,” 17 answered over his work. “I’m going to make sure this psycho can’t come after us, again.” With his arm connected to the computer, the screen of the computer turned on flashing. “Come on, show me what’s on the old man’s mind,” 17 whispered straining his brain to concentrate on controlling the ship’s brain.
The wires that 17 connected snapped with electricity and sparks. 17 tensed all his muscles as the ship fought back.
Hatashi watched nervously, honestly worried about 17. She reached out a hand to touch him.
“Don’t!” 17 strained to say over the pain. His entire body was surrounded with crackling electricity.
It wasn’t hard for Hatashi to leave 17 alone. She was so scared and exhausted that she trembled where she stood. But all her tiredness was forgotten as a small sparkle caught her eye.
It was dazzling. It was magnificent. Gorgeous. Amazing. Stupendous. But most of all, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Tears filled Hatashi’s eyes as she admired over what appeared to be a golden pen. As the light glistened off of its bright smooth surface, it seemed to ask her, beg her, demand her to take it.
So she did.

*********

Picolo lay on the cold metallic floor, too exhausted from his excursion around the ship. He had drifted in and out of consciousness, dreaming dreams that kept him believing he was back on earth. But once he woke up again, his hopes were shattered by this horrible reality he was in.
Picolo, where are you? A voice in his head cried out.
Picolo ignored it thinking he was still sleeping.
Picolo!
The voice was too loud to be a dream. It had been days since he picked up anyone’s thoughts, much less Gohan’s. Slowly lifting himself to his hands and knees, Picolo smiled. “You came Gohan. I’m right here,” Picolo said to the air. Slowly he rose to his feet. With his remaining power, the Namek flared up his power as a beacon for his friend to follow. “I’m right here, Gohan,” he whispered weakly.

********

Quin made boarding the big spaceship a breeze. He just couldn’t figure out how the breaks worked, and crashed head first right into the ship, which made a convenient door for the four teens. As soon as they boarded the ship, their ears rang from loud shrill alarms. “Intruder! Intruder!” a voice announced over the alarms.
Raikel, the last to step out of the pod, glared at their surroundings. For as far as the eye could see, there were rows and rows of glass containments with strange creatures. “How are we going to find Dad in all of this?”
“We’ll have to do it fast. These alarms are bound to wake up Genkaku,” Quin yelled back over the alarms.
If only Picolo was here, Gohan thought. Picolo where are you?
Gohan! I’m here!
Just barely after thinking about his old teacher, Gohan heard his voice inside his mind. The voice was very faint, barely a whisper. Right after hearing his voice, Gohan felt a flaring of Picolo’s energy acting as a signal. It was very weak but distinct.
“It’s Picolo,” Gohan cried out. “I know where he is.”
Gohan felt the energy wasn’t very far.
“Follow me!” Gohan shouted flying up through the ceiling, clearing a path for his companions. He wove through glass cages, sometimes going up through another level, every second getting him closer to his friend.
Still charged with his remaining energy, Picolo felt greatly relieved as Gohan burst through the floor. He was so relieved, he didn’t notice three others teenagers with him.
“Gohan, you came. Thank. . .you. . .” Picolo whispered, and dropped to the ground.
“Picolo! Are you all right?” Gohan exclaimed in concern. “Hang on. I’ll get you out.”
Gohan brought back his right fist ready to hit Picolo’s confinement with all his strength, imagining it would take that much to break it. To his surprise, as soon as his knuckles touched the glass-like wall, the entire thing shattered, pieces flying everywhere from the force of the blow.
Gohan didn’t think any more about the strange glass. He rushed to Picolo to help him onto his feet. It was then he noticed that the ever present alarms had become louder. Red lights flashed, and the metallic voice announcing, “Commencing Mind Catcher!” Small metal poles started sprouting out of the ground.
Picolo’s eyes grew bigger, and he struggled in Gohan’s arms. “Destroy those things Gohan! Now!” Picolo shouted in Gohan’s ear.
“Why?” Gohan yelled back over the alarms. “What do they do?”
“Just do it!” Picolo ordered.
With that tone of voice, Gohan didn’t question his teacher again.
“Guys, destroy those poles now!” Gohan shouted to Raikel and Quin. Gohan passed Picolo onto Treena, then heeded his own words.
Energy blasts filled the air like a group of fireflies on a warm summer night. But despite their efforts, more were coming. For each one they blew up, two more would replace it. The three teens grew frustrated in their never-ending battle.
“How do they do that? It’s like they can heal themselves,” Raikel shouted angrily.
“It’s possible for a machine to do that with the right intelligence,” Quin explained loudly.
Picolo watched from Treena’s grip, unable to help. Please, don’t let it happen, he pleaded in his head. I never want to see that nightmare again. Picolo’s heart thumped loudly in his chest. He could see that some of the poles were almost at their peak. Already a few of their tops were glowing hot red, almost melting into the laser that would consume them all. Picolo felt sick to see it was impossible to stop them.
NOOOOO!!!! he shouted in his head.

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

The car ride home was the quietest and most tense moment in Trunk’s life. He had suffered through his mother’s shouting, but the worse was yet to come. For there was still the punishment. Trunks wondered what it could be. Spankings. Grounding. No more allowance. Chores. There were an endless possibilities. But it was just punishment enough to sit there, and imagine a fate far worse than the last.
Bulma pulled the car up into the driveway. This was it. He wouldn’t leave this car without being laden with some retribution. But when he looked into his mother’s eyes, she didn’t look like an angry judge ready to pass sentence. She was . . . crying? The thought made Trunks feel even worse.
“Mom, are you okay?” Trunks asked softly.
Bulma tried to brush the tears from her eyes, but they only came out faster.
“I’m sorry, Trunks,” she tried to say without sobbing. “I guess I’m under a lot of stress right now.”
“Mom, I’m sorry that I made you cry,” Trunks pleaded. “I won’t ever fight at school again. Honest. Please stop crying.” Trunks never had seen his mother so upset. The sight made him fell worse than anything else.
“No, it’s not your fault. I guess I’m worried about your father,” Bulma told him. “Gohan told me he’s in trouble.”
“Dad’s in trouble! Where is he? I need to go help him!” Trunks shouted.
“No Trunks. Gohan’s doing that,” Bulma told him sternly. She reached over, and pulled him into a hug. “I need you here.”
Trunks hugged her back, sensing that’s what she really needed. Maybe she’ll forget about punishing me, he thought happily.
As if reading his mind, Bulma grabbed his shoulders so she could look him in the eye. “Now we need to have a talk about today.”
Trunks’ face twisted into a pout. “How long are you going to ground me?”
“I’m not going to punish you,” Bulma told him. “But if it happens again, I will. I knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t expect it to be on your first day.” She sighed, and was about to get out of the car. “I wish he was more like you, Goku,” she whispered to herself.
Trunks heard her soft wish with his sensitive youthful ears. He had often heard Bulma talk about Goten’s dad, Goku, sometimes speaking as if he were standing right there. But her words this time offended him. This time, it was his turn to be angry. “But I tried!” he cried out.
Bulma stopped, and looked at her son.
“I tried to be like Goku!” Trunks yelled. “I remember all those stories about Goten’s dad, how he fought the Red Ribbon Army, Freeza and Cell. He did it to save the earth. He fought for other people. That’s what me and Goten were doing today.” In Trunks’ eyes were small tears that he wouldn’t let loose. His hands clenched tightly around the leather seat. “Those boys were bullies, and I did what Goku would have done.”
Bulma smiled tenderly. “I’m sorry. I guess Goku would have done exactly what you did. But Goku never went to school. Please Trunks, next time don’t use violence. Okay?”
Trunks wondered over it. “If I can’t fight them, how will I defeat them?”
“You’re smart enough to think of a way. After all, you’re MY son after all,” Bulma said without any sign of being modest. She ruffled the violet hair on the boy’s head tenderly.

********

ASU was helpless to stop the android as he broke into her main computer data base. As soon as he connected himself to her system, she turned on all of her internal defenses. It took all her power to fight off 17, and maintain all of the ship’s functions. But 17 wasn’t going to give up.
ASU was down to her last resort, a strong charge of electricity sent through the wires to weaken 17 physically. She now had the advantage over her attacker. ASU readied herself to try and break 17's offense to get into his system. ASU readied her attack, but then her sensors alerted her of yet another emergency. One that was beyond her control. Helplessly, she watched as Hatashi picked up the golden cylinder device that Genkaku had discarded so carelessly. The same device in which he could control all the ship’s systems. And so much more.
Besides Genkaku, only one other living life form knew the secrets of the golden device. Make that two, ASU thought as 17 broke through her barrier, and shut down her systems one by one.
Crippled and almost powerless, ASU was able to do one last thing before she shut down. She woke her creator.

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

Picolo closed his eyes, waiting for that dreadful dream to come back in more graphic detail. But it never came. When he opened his eyes again, the poles stopped growing and glowing. Gohan was there, but he wasn’t dead. And everything was quiet, so quiet that there was a buzzing in his ears where the echoes of the alarms were still reverberating.
“What happened?” Raikel asked. Her voice bounced off the empty metallic walls into a strange echo.
“I don’t know,” Gohan replied as he walked back to Picolo. “But we better use this chance to our advantage.” He put a hand on the weak Namak’s shoulder. “Picolo, do you know where Vegeta is?”
Picolo nodded lethargically, his eyelids dropping. “He’s up on the next level,” he relayed slowly.
“Did you see our Dad? Another Saiyin?” Quin asked anxiously.
Picolo wished his eyes would focus better, but they wouldn’t cooperate. Who was this other voice. It wasn’t Gohan’s. “I didn’t see any Saiyin,” Picolo said to the blur.
“Let’s just find this Vegeta,” Treena reasoned. “Perhaps being the same species, they would be grouped together.”
Agreeing, the other followed Gohan up to the next level.
“Which way, Picolo?” Gohan asked.
Picolo concentrated on Vegeta’s vibrant energy. His vision still blurred as he pointed in the right direction. Then his world went dark.

*********

17 saw through the computer’s sensors what Hatashi had done. That device. How could it be that important? How come that scientist laid it there carelessly? Perhaps he didn’t expect someone to escape from his impregnable fortress, hack into his perfect computer, and discover his more dire secret. Oh well, he had what he wanted.
17 quickly went through every system, and shut them all down. What he was done, he encrypted them all so it would take weeks, even months, to get ASU back on line. As long as that old man didn’t have that device, they would be all right.
Finished with his business, he disengaged himself from the computer, connecting his broken wired back together. The android walked over to his female companion. Hatashi looked up at him. His eyes quickly glanced at her pants’ pocket where the device laid hidden. Why did she take it in the first place? Does she know what it can do? No, how could she know such a well guarded secret. She seemed so simple minded, did she have some hidden agenda that had to do with the device? Or did she just like shiny objects?
An old part of 17 came out, and he just didn’t care. He wasn’t in the best mood, and just wanted out of this tin can so he can continue his life.
17 turned to his weakened companion. “Are you ready to leave?”
“How? We’re in space, right?” Hatashi asked as 17 helped her up to her feet.
“When I tell you, take a deep breath,” 17 ordered.
Hatashi’s eyes widened as she realized what he might do. “Oh, crap.”
17 pulled her close to him with one arm. With the other he pointed his palm at the wall. “Ready?” 17 felt Hatashi hang onto him tightly. Her body trembled and her face had grown pale. When she nodded, 17 summoned his energy, and formed it into a ball. “Now!”
Hatashi sucked her lungs full of air to the full capacity just as the energy ball crashed into the wall, both being destroyed. Then they were in a vacuum, being sucked out into space like a couple of dust bunnies. Hatashi’s arms hugged 17 closer, while the android steered them onto their corse for Earth. Hatashi had closed her eyes at the beginning, but had now opened them. The sight almost stole her precious breath away. The giant Earth illuminated by the sun was falling so quickly toward them. The brilliant white of the clouds, the deep cool blue of the oceans, and the mixed browns and greens of the land of their beautiful home.
Hatashi was so caught up in their journey, that she was startled when her lungs burned. The air struggled to be release from their organ prison. Hatashi felt she couldn’t hold it anymore or she would burst. Slowly she expelled tiny bits of the air out.
Through his chest, 17 felt Hatashi exhaling slowly. He was worried. They still weren’t even through the atmosphere. She wouldn’t make it. NO, he kept her alive this long, he wasn’t going to give up now. 17 never backed out on a challenge.
Using his good arm to hold onto the woman, he used the other arm wrapped up in the blue bloodstained scarf to tilt her head toward his. 17 pressed his mouth over Hatashi’s, and blew in what air he had into her mouth. He felt Hatashi’s chest expand from the new air she breathed in.
17 didn’t even look at her, but concentrated on getting to earth. Hatashi was glad he did see her cheeks flushed brightly, her face burning from such an embarrassing action from a stranger. 17, oblivious to what he had done, narrowed his eyes as they approached the most dangerous part of their travel. The Earth’s atmosphere. 17 prepared for their descent to the terra planet. He formed an energy field around both of them, then wrapped his arms tightly around his passenger.
17 spun around so he would fall backward through the heat and friction of the atmosphere. He felt the extreme force rip into his energy barrier and burn into his flesh.
Hatashi felt the drastic change from the freezing cold of space to the intense heat. Her body couldn’t stand the extreme change, and the lack of air. Shock hit her body like a semi truck, and she curled into a tight ball, trying to hide from the heat that was burning her fingers and scorching her clothes. She wanted to scream, to let loose any of the fear and pain she was going through. But she held her breath, concentrating on just that.
17 didn’t make it in time.
Hatashi tried to breath in air, but there wasn’t any. Her lungs tried to suck anything in. She squirmed and shook as panic took over her body. Soon after her panic attack, she fainted.