You know it's been way too long since your last update when you start getting death threats every week and can't stand your own writing from the previous chapter. I won't keep you any longer, author notes at the end.
Disclaimer: Why did you think it took so long to update?
Predator and Prey
Chapter 14 : Déjà vu
She was on her back, staring up at the full moon. Steam rose from the warm waters that lapped at her neck, making it appear that the moon was shifting and warping along with every ghostly wisp, as she breathed in the scent of wild flower herbs. To her side, she could feel the slick warmth of skin and the subtle rise and fall of breath. Underneath her head were the firmness of well-honed muscles—the very same honed to take her life away.
But it was all wrong.
It never happened.
She was standing, staring across with vision blurred by unleashed tears. Grass swayed to caress her knees with every gush of wind, making it appear that they were providing comfort, as she breathed in the scent of the evening breeze. To her front, she could almost feel the warmth and catch the subtle rise and fall of breath. A blood-red pendent was held firmly in well-honed muscles—the very same honed to protect her life till they fell off bone.
But it was all wrong too.
It also never happened.
As reality slammed back to her along with the pain, Videl would never again remember the non-existent memory of a steamy full-moon and a teary parting. Neither would Gohan.
The first thing she felt was the sharp pressure on her neck disappearing to be replaced by throbbing and the warm rush of blood flowing to the wound. What had happened? It was just like being pulled away from existence by the mental attacks, but it—it went deeper, and somehow, she knew it wasn't natural to go that deep. Nothing was.
Nothing should be able to go that deep.
She couldn't even explain it in words; what she felt was so overwhelming that it was impossible to describe what it was like. So much, in fact, that her mind was already forgetting the sensation that something unexplainable happened, too strained to hold on to the memory. What she could hold onto was the knowledge, the certainty, that something changed permanently between her and Gohan. Something irreversible and would be the starting point of everything.
Videl pushed herself up from her prone position on her back to watch Gohan crouch low in front of her, panting as she was. Blood streaked across his neck and trailed brightly down his right side. He raised his left hand and clamped it over the small hole before turning dark eyes up at her. She stared back, before spitting a piece of his flesh between them.
"What…" she started, swallowing saliva to wash the taste of his blood from her mouth, "What did—what did you do?"
He said nothing and stood up swiftly; changing his attention to the still flowing wound just inches from his jugular. She stood up along with him, barely catching herself upon shaky legs, with her left hand mirroring his clutching at the bite mark. Glaring, she waited for him to divert his attention back to her—which he did a moment later.
"Let's go, we need to leave this place," Gohan ordered before pivoting on his heels and walking away from her.
"I'm not moving an inch before you tell me just what the hell you did to me."
He stopped in his tracks and turned around to eye her, taking in the burning blue eyes and stiff stance. Not in a mood to talk, Gohan approached her without a word and reached out to grab her by the waist. A swift knee under his chin canceled the attempt.
"Tell me, Gohan, just what happened seconds ago," Videl growled, backing up with a couple of guarded steps. Gohan rubbed his chin, musing that he actually felt it sting a little (along with the odd feeling it happened before), before sighing loudly.
"I will, after we get out of here and get cleaned up. Okay?"
"Not okay. I want to know what you did. Now."
"You wouldn't believe me even if I told you. I'll explain everything once we're out of here."
"You'll regret it."
"It's a risk I'm willing to take."
"Videl…. Please, just a while later, okay?"
"GOHAN!" She suddenly yelled, marching forward to jab her finger in the middle of his chest roughly. "I'm sick and tired of not knowing anything! There is obviously something big you're not telling me that has a direct effect on my future! You bit me, Gohan! You hunted me down like some animal and bit me! I want to know why in Kami's name you did that—I want to know NOW!"
Resisting the urge to flinch under her ear-piercing demands, Gohan finally chose the worse possible method to inform her just what happened—the direct method. There was really no need to hide secrets from her anymore.
"Videl," he started in a serious tone that immediately shut her up, "by the ancient laws of the Saiyans and by legal binding of the Vegeta kingdom, we've completed a marital engagement set by blood between Satan and Vegeta… We're now husband and wife—for eternity."
They stood there for almost seven minutes, Videl's expression unchanged from when she started listening. Her first thought was that he had the gall to make jokes at such a time. It was a very creative joke, she would give him that, har har. However, even in her state, she could see clearly that his eyes held no humor. Gohan was serious. So dead serious that she didn't feel any initial shock. Which was weird—shouldn't she be, you know, in shock?
Either way, it appeared she was handling it pretty well. She wasn't screaming or anything. But then, she felt like lying down, which finally troubled her. It was so unlike her! So cliché! She thought better of herself! Apparently, her body seemed to have lower standards in how it handled severe distress. And so, Gohan's wide obsidian eyes were the last thing she saw before she slumped to ground in a dead faint.
Someone was slapping her face lightly while calling her name. At first, she had no recollection why she was being slapped, or why she was lying down for the matter. A rush of annoyance at the persistent slapping and name calling made her wrinkle her eyebrows. What did this person want? Can't she just be left in peace—oh, crap.
Gohan was more then a bit caught off-guard when Videl shot up and immediately sent a fist at his face. He barely dodged the blow before she kicked up and planted her two feet on his chest, pushing him back on his bottom with a forceful shove. He blinked from the impact and suddenly Videl, his wife, was crouching on his torso with an eerily calm look on her face. Both white knuckled fists were gripping at the shirt he had threw on after carrying her back to their starting point where the bags were.
"You better start explaining things, Gohan. And I believe the fastest way for you to do so is to tell me who you really are." Videl paused before growling deep in her throat and spitting out some more, "And you better be telling the truth."
"Videl, you do realize that your threat doesn't really have any effect? I'm stronger than you by far."
She had learned by then that the element of surprise is crucial.
For the first time in years Gohan found himself subjected to mind-boggling pain. The type of pain no man would ever want to experience—especially when it originated in the area most important to a man.
"That," Videl removed her knee after the ki powered strategically placed hit and pushed herself onto her feet, "was for all the times you forced yourself on me." She eyed the whimpering Gohan with little to none remorse. Really, she was that hyped up on enjoyment on actually inflicting great pain on him that she forgot everything that happened. Giving herself a mental pat on the back and a silent cheer for all women everywhere, she picked up her bags and prepared to leave—again.
"W-w-wait…," Gohan wheezed, pushing himself on to his feet.
For a split second she did felt guilt and the smallest hint of trepidation that something bad was going to happen if she ran from him. Since, the truth was, bad things were all that happened when she did run (excluding Erasa's marriage). However, once again her temper clouded her judgment and she just snorted at Gohan's form. "You're obviously not going to tell me everything to my face, might as well I find out the truth for myself. Vegeta Kingdom you had said? I believe I can find what I want from the authorities there."
"N-no! Wait, you don't k-know what you're getting yourself into!" It was too late however, Videl blasted into the sky and headed towards the Saiyan country. Gohan heavily swore. If any of Freeza's spies spotted her around the Saiyan palace or even the palace grounds, they were toast.
With the solitude of the dawning sky, Videl furiously turned over Gohan's words in her mind. If he was telling the truth, and it definitely seemed so with his responses after she woke up, there were many questions regarding her identity and how it had to do with his. Gohan had named the two kingdoms, using words like 'legal binding' and mentioning a previously set marital engagement… Why would he have anything to do with the Vegeta Kingdo—Videl almost wanted to dive head first into the ground and kill herself for never guessing the possibility that Gohan—that he…
The signs were there, his power being the most telling. Why had she never thought about it?
"Damn it, Gohan," she harshly whispered against the wind, "I never had a chance to defeat you in the first place—because you're a Saiyan." The revelation answered a lot of questions like the link between him. She knew that Saiyans were telepathic to a degree, but it bothered her more why they had the link in the first place. If, once again, what he had said was true, then…
"We're now husband and wife--for eternity."
Her mind refused to go down that particular alley and turned to other paths. The engagement must have been made when she was still the princess, but what was Gohan's position for him to merit an engagement with a princess? There weren't a lot of Saiyans, only a hand full in fact, and Videl never knew there were any her age.
Ah, wait. There was one… The only one was… Was… But then…
The blue-eyed girl cupped a shaking hand to her mouth, not noticing she stopped right above where the trees had thinned out. The scope of the conspiracy started to grow and Videl wondered how long everything had been planned, how long it had been carried out. Piccolo! Did her mentor know about it? Kuririn, Juuhachigou, and Muten Roshi… had they all—? The yellow copter she got mysteriously… had they all been behind it? They, they—her father. Her father. He must have known it; the engagement was set by blood before she could remember. But then... Amie… and Gohan. For all these years, he—
The blow to the back of her head was loud in her skull as her vision was filled with red tinted trees.
Gohan snapped his head up, halting just before getting ready to blast off after her. Her ki just went sharply downward as if she she's been struck out of the sky. However, he felt no other ki at all… Maybe she just fainted. He opened up the link between them, feeling a growing lump in his throat. Something wasn't right. Could it be they're here already? That fast? She had been giving out way too much ki in such an isolated area, Gohan knew they had little time but—
Once the link was open, mental pain flooded his senses. For a moment he believed he was her, feeling his ribs break, feeling his flesh bruise and tear under ruthless attacks, it was hard to breathe because blood flooded in his windpipe and he desperately called out for—
Her mental cry focused him back and he knew he had seriously miscalculated somewhere. He wanted no more than to blast to her place and rip apart the one that was hurting her, but even with Videl's agony echoing through his mind he knew was that it was even more important than ever that another mistake wasn't made. So he ran. He ran as fast and as silently as he possibly could, masking his ki desperately. He didn't even reply to her plea for help even as she could no longer complete his name through their link. Gohan wanted to throw up.
It was only when Videl felt the rough earth under her face and the foot on her back that she realized the attack has stopped. She couldn't sense anything below her hips as everything else throbbed painfully. She didn't even get a good look at her attacker whose ki still couldn't be felt. It could only mean one thing and Videl really didn't want to confirm her suspicions. However, there was little else she could do. Panting heavily, she looked up behind her and her breath hitched.
It was that night all over again as the dawning morning cast cool shadows over the smooth planes of his face. He wasn't grinning like that night, just looking down at her with an almost astonished gaze. Videl felt blood and bile pool in her mouth and she coughed a bit letting the fluid flow out into the earth, not taking her eyes off the same android that had almost sent her to certain death almost more than four years ago.
"You surprise me, General Videl," he said in a monotone voice, "I wasn't expecting to find you at all after all these years. Well, at least finding you myself."
Videl said nothing. There wasn't really much to be said since she knew he was either going to kill her right there or bring her back to the palace. Her only hope was that she could stall him long enough till Gohan arrived. Inwardly, she swore upon all her ancestors, her kingdom, her sword, and heck, even her school text books that it was definitely the very last time she ran from Gohan.
The android stared at her bloodied face a moment before roughly kicking her onto her back and placed his heavy boot centered on her chest, pinning her down once more. Videl coughed more blood and futilely grasped at his foot to lessen the pressure on her broken ribs. Glaring at his passive face, she tried not letting it show that she was probing along her mental link trying to find Gohan's position. The link was open and he was near, that much she felt, but where was he? Why couldn't she detect his ki at all? A bit of panic seeped into the connection and she let it, really wanting Gohan to make the pain stop and not caring if her pride would regret it later. Reassurance trickled back and she almost sighed in relief. It wasn't a solid answer, but it was enough.
"You can still speak, can't you?" The android shifted his foot slightly, letting her breathe better. Videl remained silent, glaring at him. He had an unchanged face of a young man barely eighteen that was currently starting to frown. "Do answer me or I'll have to make sure you really can't." Underlying the threat, his foot was now suddenly above her throat.
"You're still as impatient, I see…" She shot back; somehow a bit surprised her voice was steady even though it sounded a bit garbled from the blood. "I merely didn't have anything to say."
"You always had something to say, even that night I recall. And I do recall. Very clearly." He then tilted his head a bit, hazel eyes focusing on the bite mark on her neck which was now bleeding profusely again, "You've been injured. A wild animal perhaps?"
Videl narrowed her eyes, ignoring the pain from the swollen left one. "Were you always this talkative?"
The android stared at her a bit more before smiling and placing his foot back on her chest earning a grunt from his captive. He tapped a button on his scouter and Videl could see a mini screen blink on in the purple lens. It must be a new model as she didn't recognize the slimmer ear piece and wider visor. Then her blood turned to ice at the words the android spoke.
"I've got the General, my Lord Freeza."
Almost, he almost let a wayward breath out of his lungs at the name of the tyrant. Gohan had arrived just as the android pinned a defeated Videl to the ground. However, he made no plans to save her, not until it was certain she was going to be killed. It was hard to see from his position a few trees away, but his superior hearing caught every word and movement. From the looks of it, neither Videl nor the android detected his presence.
"Well, well," there was a slight crackle in the transmission but the voice was unmistakably Freeza's, "Videl, my dear, how are you?"
"Not too bad. How are you? Dying, I hope." Videl let out a painful gasp afterwards as the android stepped down on her chest.
"Tsk, tsk, I see you haven't improved on your manners. Though, years in the wilderness could only contribute to your problems, hm?" Videl didn't reply but her breathing became more labored and she started clawing at the android's foot. "Bohlt, quite a bit too much, the poor dear can't talk."
"My apologies, Lord Freeza." Bohlt shifted a bit and Videl sucked in a deep breath. For some reason, Gohan felt that she had tears in her eyes.
"I-if you're going to kill me, then get it over with…"
"As worthless as you are now, I'm curious, just what made you give out so much ki? A fight? It was almost as if you wanted to be found."
Videl snorted, "By you? It was merely a hunter who now is dead. He wasn't very smart."
"Should have given me the information I wanted."
Gohan raised his eyebrow, just a tiny bit.
"Well, I have many things to attend to. Hm, now, what to do with you…"
"You do know that, as long as I'm alive, I'm going to kill you."
Freeza gave a short chuckle, "I'll raise your bounty to six million dead. That might make things more fun. And we both know you can't exactly come out with the truth, now could you?"
It was the first time Videl raised her voice since the conversation started. Then Gohan felt her probing along their link, trying to determine his position. She gave up and shut off her part of the link, but not before an overwhelming emotion of guilt leaked through. Was she trying to make sure he wasn't close enough to hear their words? Suddenly, Gohan felt he might not like knowing the truth of what happened that night—or maybe the feeling might just be residue from Videl. Either way, he would have to know very soon.
"Still touchy about the subject, I see. Doesn't the saying go… Well, something about time healing all wounds?"
"You—you had promised me…" her whisper was almost drowned out by the winds and Gohan strained to catch each word, "Pr-promised me you wouldn't hurt them…"
"You should know more than anyone words are just words when not on paper. And even if it was on paper," They all could hear the smile in Freeza's voice, "More of a problem for you then me, aren't I right? My dear?"
"Don't ca-call me that…"
"Do you want me to promise?"
Videl gave out an enraged snarl, elbowing Bohlt's foot off her chest and launching herself at his scouter. It was obvious both her legs were broken but it didn't deter her from trying to claw out the android's eyes. Right before she could get her hands on his earpiece, a swift chop to her unguarded side sent a loud crack echoing through the trees.
"General Videl attacked me, Lord Freeza."
"I see, make sure she doesn't do so again. Whether she dies here or not doesn't make a difference. Get back to your patrol when done."
"Yes, my Lord."
Gohan closed his eyes as the sounds of bones snapping filled the air. Videl didn't scream but he could hear pained gasping and moaning. The link between them was opened again and it was clear she was begging for help subconsciously. Pain, agony, it was all that was filtering through. Gohan clenched his fists as a ragged sob reached his ears and he knew her fingers were being broken one by one.
She's not going to be killed. She's not going to be killed. Another loud crack echoed and he had to repeat the words again.
It still wasn't reassuring but he just couldn't risk being seen, or even give a hint that someone powerful enough to defeat an android was assisting her. Because, of course, it left only a few to be held under suspicion of breaking the Tagoanist Law that stated it to be an act of war when ranking officials of a kingdom assists a hunted from another. She was a hunted, and he himself was…
Gohan… please… where are you?
His eyes snapped open but he made no other movement until all that was heard was her haggard breaths. It sound like she was breathing through a veil of water, slowly drowning, so much was the blood in her lungs.
Gohan risked a glance and found the other two's position had moved much closer to him, unwittingly giving him a clear view. He didn't even want to look at her broken form for too long, everything seemed out of place, at wrong angles, but he knew she would live. Not long. But long enough.
The android, Bohlt, was once again staring down at her shaking form with a barely notable scrunch between his eyebrows. If he was human, he would have sighed before he knelt down beside her. It was surprisingly gentle the way he straightened her onto her back, a satisfied light in his eyes when the gesture appeared to reduce her discomfort. Videl's confused and questioning gaze was not missed.
"Don't be so surprised, General. I have no personal pleasure derived from your pain, though, I find little else to do than to follow my Lord's orders. Now that I've fulfilled his wishes, and insured my own wellbeing, I don't see the need to inflict additional distress upon you."
Bizarre, truly bizarre. She knew that he was one of the originals Freeza brought, fully mechanical with logic strings and simulated personalities, however it surprised her how disarming, how innocent, he can look even after brutally—no, efficiently—crippling a person. "Was it ordered then…? That night… You and the other one—," she paused to let out a hacking cough that sent bolts of fire down her spine,"—tried to kill me so slowly…" She remembered how it had felt like an eternity, remembered watching her blood and entrails follow her in a bloody arc off the cliff. Even so, she currently felt no hostility towards her attacker, nerves soothed from both his non-threatening state and her blood loss. Her eyelids felt heavy.
Bohlt caught the way her voice held no accusation and he felt strangely comforted at the fact. As much as his circuits could allow such a feeling. "My apologies. It was neither mine nor Knut's intention. We had intended a quick execution, but you were surprisingly resilient as proven by your survival."
Videl almost laughed. She must be in shock because the absurdity of the situation hasn't sent her into spasms yet. She could hear her heartbeat slow, but wasn't sure if she should be alarmed by it or not. "S-shouldn't you be… leaving? Patrol… or something…" Something screamed inside her that Bohlt should leave, that she was running out of time. He has to leave, has to leave as soon as possible, in the next minute, next second has to leave there soon right now he has to leave right now…
"You are correct, General. I still have a few minutes before my absence is considered tardiness." A pale face flashed across his memory and he decided he wanted to finish his interrogation quickly. Tapping a few buttons, he opened an audio connection to the palace before addressing Videl, "I have one last question if you may. It appears there would be no next chance and I would be left with an unanswerable question. "
This wasn't like the other times, when she had fell over the cliff, when Gohan had punched her, when she had been shot, no, she felt no panic not even… not even… pain. Everything has dulled and not even her toes could move—weretheybrokenortornoff?—but no panic. Resignation? Not quite, she still wanted to live but she wanted more to rest a bit… She could still hear Bohlt clearly, the trees, the crunch of dry leaves…
Gohan. She could hear him. His heartbeat? (the android has to leave NOW)
How un-dramatic. It's just like going to sleep.
Is this how dying truly felt like?
if i knew i would have welcomed death a long time ago
"I had been pondering," and then his voice sounded very, very close, next to her ear, but her glassy eyes only saw random patterns through her lashes, "who saved you that night. Who was it, General Videl?"
And Gohan knew their time had run out.
Piccolo, Piccolo, even though he only saved her once and been with her less than anyone else she had always thought Piccolo would always save her. She had been 16 then, a young teenager forced to grow up too fast and after the murders he was the first her broken heart had latched onto. Piccolo, Piccolo, he was the one that saved her.
A weak smile was on her lips, showing blood tinted teeth. "Pi—," and then her breath refused to come out as her world dropped into darkness.
But only for a second.
A puff of air bubbled up blood but she suddenly sensed that there was something she should be remembering.
Bohlt had now repositioned himself that his scouter ear and her lips were a few inches away. Despite his enhanced hearing, he had to make sure her voice reached the microphone. "Pi…? Who? Who was it, General?" He had thought she did die in mid answer from the way her lidded eyes blanked and her breathing stopped. It would have been terribly disappointing.
(he has to leave get him to leave now right now)
"…W-who?" There were voices in her head. No, not voices, just one.
"Who saved you that night, General?" There was no impatience in his voice.
(no you can't say his name the android must leave)
Piccolo. "Pic…" And once again she was yanked back, falling into darkness but she still felt no alarm, just comfort because it was something familiar, it happened before. It happened…? When she returned a chill blossomed in her chest and she somehow knew she couldn't speak anymore.
Her eyes closed and it felt nice and cool.
(wait wait for me sorry just a bit more)
"Unfortunate you couldn't last that long, but it should be enough for us to find out," the boyish-faced android tapped his scouter, confirming that everything she said had been transmitted to the palace. "I will be disposing of her body, end transmission."
Everything next almost happened simultaneously. The scouter barely finished beeping, signaling the terminated connection, before Bohlt felt the ki. His scouter exploded hardly a half-second later and it blinded him just enough for him to miss the hand reaching for his neck. He felt the digits dig in, internal sensors blaring at the intrusion before being silenced by a quick jerk, ripping and severing the cords and wires. His visualization sensory inputs only registered a smeared image of the prone general, trees and the orange sky, or was it golden fire, before it burst into white—
"I'll follow you."
—then all was black.
The remains of the android were still flying through the air when Gohan reached Videl's side, propping her up and pouring ki in while trying to force a Senzu bean he grabbed before he left down her throat. His panic increased when she was too out of it to even swallow properly. Fishing the bean back out, he threw it into his own mouth and crushed it once with his teeth, not wanting to accidentally swallow too much of its healing properties.
He all but spit it down her esophagus as he forced the crushed bean down with his tongue, ignoring the taste of her blood and dirt mixed with the bitterness of bile. He didn't realize he was begging her to swallow through their bond but it might have been her just trying to breathe when he felt the Senzu go down. He released her and moved back, watching her gasp then go still. All he could do was stare; his mind not prepared if he was too late…
Then she opened her eyes. They were still unfocused but they were clear, the left orb already devoid of broken blood vessels. Gohan gave a shuddering sigh, closing his own eyes, in relief. His action made him miss the way her face, and the rest of her body, mended in a blink. Even his early bite wound left no trace on her skin.
When he re-opened his eyes, she was staring at him. He couldn't read her expression, nor decipher the emotion running through their bond, and let his brows furrow. "Videl? You all right?" Then he noticed his reflection in her pupils.
Golden locks. The cerulean irises.
He swore softly as she turned her gaze to the side, looking pensive at empty air. He waited for her to look back at him, not knowing how to start his explanation. Both of them didn't bother to change their positions, too much on their minds to physically move. When she did return her somber gaze to his he had already powered down, giving her a more familiar face to confront.
Videl weakly smiled, "I'm fine…" She took a deep breath and avoided his eyes; she didn't like the guilt she found in there. "Just surprised how long you managed to keep this from me…"
She snapped her eyes back to his and he didn't need the bond to feel her hurt and confusion. "Promise me, no more lies."
"Words are but words…"
He owed her, they all did. It was about time. Gohan nodded crisply, "I give you my word. No more lies."
She closed her eyes and nodded back, "Thank you, Ambassador Son."
"Bohlt, you're late."
Her programming didn't include the emotion 'worry', but whatever she was feeling didn't have any other label that could adequately describe it. Bohlt was never late; he always made sure he was at least a few minutes early for everything. It was one of things she had admired about him. She, herself, would calculate the urgency of the situation—if her being tardy didn't have a significant impact then she would be more relaxed, even more than usual that is. She didn't like to hurry. It implies she wasn't in total control.
She tapped a slender finger against her scouter, enhanced eyes reading the connection logs scrolling at triple speed. Bohlt had ended his transmission 12 minutes ago; he should have been back at the check point—with her—in the past five minutes. He was late. There was no ping response from his scouter.
"Base, this is Lieutenant Knut at checkpoint alpha gamma gamma 37. I'll be heading towards last contact point of Captain Bohlt at 53-92-46. Expect a status update in five to seven minutes." She didn't even finish her first sentence before blasting off towards the red dot in her visor. She was hurrying.
Knut and Bohlt, always together. Even Lord Freeza had been gracious to keep them both on the same team throughout the years. They had been born in different batches, with different objectives, but would have been terminated together at a junk yard ready to be crushed into scraps. He was the older model but still a superior one than her, programmed to serve on battle fields. She was but an entertainment droid, especially for men whose fantasies could get them the death penalty on nearly every planet. Hair and eyes darker than night, skin too soft to be natural and nearly translucent—a face and body even younger than Bohlt.
She had been designed to be soft and yielding, almost too real to not be illegal (oh, but her kind was, finally was). Laws were passed and her models were finally deemed 'unnecessary for civilized beings', but not before she had been used by so many she cleared her memory database every week just to stay sane.
They shouldn't have given her artificial intelligence—they shouldn't have given it to any of them. AIs rampage.
They rampage with time.
Lord Freeza had found them, saved them, and only them and the others like them because their looks were based on a particular hominid model. However, prior to Lord Freeza, Bohlt was the one that saved her first. Rescued her in the weeks after the numbers added up in her circuitry that something was amiss. She loved gathering information. Books, the news, anything she could read and process she stored it all down. It wasn't long before she concluded that there was a reason why those like her had been created, reasons that she no longer wanted to be a part of.
It wasn't hard to refuse. She had only sensors for indicating damage and not the pain itself. Even when she lost an eye and a leg it still wasn't a big deal.
She was scheduled to early disposal and it had been big news. There were only so many of her kind, each with a unique look, she would be the first and last of her series. Her case alerted the high councils of their planet, started the writing of laws banning entertainment droids sporting underage visages. It was all good, she had no regrets. Then someone had bought her, a droid so damaged it would cost more to fix her than to just make her into scraps, saving her from certain destruction.
He looked then as he looked now, still forever the boyish face of a young man almost in his late teens. He had the same dark hair as her, only his eyes were a piercing hazel. She had been surprised in a way androids could be; her processor hadn't calculated the chance her buyer would be another android. It was a rare occurrence; androids didn't feel the need to socialize as the living ones did and tend to isolate themselves from other androids as well. Even as a male droid, he had no use for her.
Bohlt was a fighter model (he had told her, in the times there was only two of them, he was used for assassination as his versions often were), released after the recent war. The rulers of their planet sent him home with money he had little desire to spend and a notification he would be put to rest in another moon cycle. It had been a part of the peace treaty. It was the law.
"I can fix you up. That much I can promise. Afterwards there's little I can do for you." Bohlt was still dressed in the stiff fabric of a soldier's uniform. Knut didn't recognize the medals and stripes on his chest but he had been awarded and promoted higher than many of his peers and even the non-androids. Even so, his felt no indignation for his termination. It was for peace, and it was what he had been created to protect.
She had questions, many questions; it was her programming that she'd gain as much information as she pleased. Her creators had really made the mistake of creating too complex an android for the purpose she was supposed to serve. "It's not a problem. It's enough."
"I'm to be terminated in another moon."
Her response had almost been immediate. "I'll follow you."
She had meant it. Even after Bohlt spent the last of his war bonus to fix her as good as new—she could easily continue working, existing, until the ban was passed—she never left his side. They wandered the planet until it was time for his termination. None of the fighter models fail to reappear; they were loyal because they never knew anything else.
There had been a brief conflict regarding her presence. Bohlt had read the lips of his superiors through the waiting room glass and relayed the conversation to her.
"Never seen this happen in all my life."
"Is this normal behavior?"
"They want to be terminated together. Like a pair of star-crossed lovers."
"I don't like the feel of this, this is something new."
"We can't stall the termination any further. We can't let him go."
"Can't risk another war for them."
"Truly like a pair of star-crossed lovers."
"They made them too real."
She didn't know why, but the thought of them being referred to as lovers felt comforting (she hadn't known the meaning of being star-crossed then and now she wished she still didn't). At the very least it hadn't conflicted with any of her thought processes—she had found herself hoping (could she hope? Or was it just simply inclination towards a favorable option?) Bohlt felt the same. She never asked, but after it was given the okay to have her with him at his termination he had smiled at her.
She was in his embrace—it was the first time she was held by a male with no ill intention—in the cramped capsule, ready to be crushed. He had suddenly reached out a lean arm, bracing it against the hatch lock, and focused his eyes on her. It was pitch black, but she knew he could see her perfectly.
"We're going to be terminated."
There was a pleading quality in his voice. She didn't know they were capable to produce that tone. Was it possible they were emulating the living ones? Becoming more emotive each day? She replied in a whisper, "I know."
He didn't respond save for the slight pressure he began to exert on the hatch and she suddenly realized what he intended to do. His processors must have come to a new conclusion, one that required input on her part to finalize the decision. She knew, without a doubt, he won't abandon his orders, so it only meant that…
"This is not required of you."
She would not leave him. "I know."
She felt him lean forward, almost crushing her against the hatch and his body. He whispered in her ear with that pleading tone. "This is not required of you."
The metal of the hatch groaned under his palm and she realized it would be no effort for him, or any of the others, to escape. But none of them would, because it was their purpose. "This is not required of you," he repeated again, slower, almost inaudible. He had now rested his head on her shoulders, sending puffs of cool air down her chest. "Please."
She picked his hand off the hatch and threaded her fingers through his, pulling both hands between them. She had no component to call a heart but they both could feel the pumping of oils and cooling fluid. He looked up and she took the chance to rest her head under his chin, now understanding why the living ones enjoyed close contact. They were both cold to the touch but the heat from their energy generators could still be registered and she favored the close proximity.
Her breath was also cool against his neck. "I know." He tightened his hold around her and she found she couldn't name the feeling her sensors were returning to her. He bought her, saved her, she owed him her existence. "I'll follow you." He had become her purpose.
The electric field they soon went under shut them off, for the purpose of them not registering themselves being crushed. It was more for the mental comfort of the living ones than them. Knut and Bohlt wouldn't know, but the capsules had microphones to record any last words uttered by androids for research purposes. There was no other recording but theirs, and it would be a haunting one for the beings on their planet for generations to come.
When they awoke, it was to a large hanger where hundreds of androids like them gathered before an unfamiliar alien. Later, they would find out their savior's name and the new purpose he would bestow upon them. Knut was just content to follow Bohlt as she had promised twice already.
For the first time, she was glad that her creators over-constructed her. With limiters recalibrated, power generators boosted, and a new coat to her skin she became as powerful as any of the other soldier models. All she lacked was the programming but that was the easiest part.
She never felt the transition of her aggression limit removal. It was as if she had killed since her creation.
It didn't matter though. Nothing did. Except that by her side was Bohlt.
The first thing Knut saw as she landed was a single round eye, snapped wires and leaking fluid where the optical cord in a human would be. Synthetic irises in a color that would forever burn in her memory. Another few steps and she found the rest of him.
She might have screamed. For once she couldn't tell, couldn't register sound.
"Why did you buy me?"
There was blood, human blood, splattered around but no body. There were traces of ki, energy trails that disappeared into the sky straight up. Her eyes were wide, slicing, dissecting the surroundings to analyze everything—tofindeverypartofhim—she must find every clue, every lead because she had to—her purpose—she had to.
He smiled at her. It was getting more natural each time he did, she felt her own lips curve in turn, mimicking, wanting to do the same.
She felt no snap because there was none. AIs rampage, she had read somewhere. They never tell how or exactly what happens but she knew it happens. AIs rampage with time—no, her processor whirled, rampage is triggered by a specific event. A specific trauma.
A specific loss.
"I'm not sure. But that day, when I saw you, I just wanted to." He touched the back of his hand to her cheek, caressing, an imitation of affection, but it was enough. "I thought you looked beautiful even then."
It was enough for her.
She had reported her find back to the palace in a steady tone, professional, just like how Bohlt taught her to be. She had gathered every part of him, staining her porcelain hands with black oil—blood, could she call it blood—neatly arranging him for the clean up crew. She had almost reconstructed his face, unmarred, save for a gaping hole where his left frontal lobe should be (his head felt lighter in her hands without it). She had done all she could at the moment.
Just before the clean up crew were to arrive, she pressed her lips to his cold ones but it was okay. Because they were always cold anyway. It was enough for her.
"I'll kill her," she hissed against his (dead?weretheyeveralive?) lips, not registering the new tone of voice, "I'll kill General Videl for you." And the one that actually ripped her Bohlt apart because she knew, oh she knew, there was another one that dealt the finishing blow. The girl had been dying, blooding seeping into earth and another one came, ki blasting an ash filled path from the trees to where Bohlt was. A surprise attack, cowardly, disgusting—but she herself would have done the same. Androids did little for their own pleasure, but Knut predicted she would have full gratification from gutting them both.
No one noticed anything wrong with the Lieutenant save for a more harsh expression on her young face. It was understandable; Knut and Bohlt were closer than anyone else at the palace. If she were human, she must have gone insane by now. Lucky her, they said. No one noticed she was hurrying.
AI's rampage because they can't shed tears.
To be continued…
A.N. Well. No amount of words can adequately express how utterly sorry I am it took this long to update. So I'll keep it short. I'm sorry, so very, very sorry. And I won't promise that it'll never happen again, but at the very least I can promise I'll do my very darnest to finish this fic. It's getting close to the end so truthfully the goal doesn't seem that far away. I sincerely hope this chapter had been worth the wait. I upped the drama level more than usual, though, probably only read through it a couple of times so with any luck the typos and grammatical mistakes aren't too atrocious. Sorry Tim for not sending you this chapter first; really wanted to rush this out.
Funny thing about taking so long to update is how painful it is to read past chapters. Gah, so many things I cringed at, so many: "I can't believe I wrote that!" and: "Dude, that sentence is all wrong…" not to mention: "That is incredibly corny beyond belief…" It's so painful to read that I've decided not to look back and just go forward. Hopefully, my writing skills haven't deteriorated and maybe even matured somewhat (not likely, but hey).
Aside from new questions asked in this chapter (while at it, you all do know where the first part is referring to, right?) I want to talk a bit about our tragic android couple since their flashback occupies more than one third of the actual fic. At first, Knut and Bohlt were two guys—yes, they were supposed to be brothers when I first wrote them back in chapter 6. They were still brothers all up to the words, "Bohlt, you're late." From there, I felt like I just discovered, hey, Knut should be a girl, and it was possible because only one android in chapter 6 was mentioned to be a guy. Wala, she became one. However, they were going to be just close comrades until I typed out the following sentence: Knut and Bohlt, always together.
I stopped there, staring at the words, and felt compelled to probe their relationship deeper. It sort of snowballed and I finished their flashback (and re-edited the earlier parts regarding Bohlt) all in one sitting. Now, I can say, they are one of my most favorite original couple (despite being the most tragic and 'fake'). I like the contrast between their relationship and the one between Gohan and Videl. In the end, Knut and Bohlt had the better, more healthy, more innocent relationship (totally platonic if you think about it) but Gohan and Videl are the ones with the real romantic love despite all the pain and tears. I hope you all enjoyed K&B's little interlude because I sure did writing it. I know how hard it is to introduce original characters a reader could sympathize with into a fanfiction and I tried my best. (most likely I'm going to write a original fiction version of their story when I have the chance) Oh, and about the rampaging AIs, it's inspired by Halo somewhat.
Well, I guess that's it for now. Next in line should be Veritas chapter 8, the last chapter to the first part. Woo! Actually, chapter 2 of Da Capo is almost done as well but I got a new direction I want the fic to take and I really want to finish either Veritas or P&P first before concentrating on Da Capo. Till then! Pray it doesn't take another year for me to update! And thank you for all the reviews (and flames and death threats)!
(Fred, Courtney, Mike, Penchy, and Jocelyn: … actually, just posting this chapter is all that's needed to be said.)