I don't own Dragon Ball Z

A/N: Um, chappie mainly involves explanations and therefore flashbacks. Warning – gets harsh at the end… I really let Bulma have it… enjoy

A Different Future

"Quite a success it was, wouldn't you say?"

17 asked as he stood by his office's window, looking at the humans in the street below, looking like mere ants from the height he was at. 18 was sitting on his desk, rolling a custom made chip between her fingers. She looked at it, bored.

"Purple, you mean?"

"What else then?"

"I still can't believe you lied to Bulma like that."

She said, throwing a group of blonde locks over her shoulder.

"Ho? And what could you possibly mean by that?"

He looked innocent enough, but she was too bored to play along.

"Telling her you had such control over her son."

He sniggered.

"I need her more than she realizes. It's that little lack of realization that gives me such power over her. She's terrified that I'll actually do something to hurt her, she won't even try anything."

"Even though she could save her own son with the flip of a switch?"

He grinned, his fangs beard in a predatory way.

"Precisely. The risk of having what I said turn out to be true is too great. She's not stupid, she knows I'm probably bluffing… but by actually letting herself end up in such a situation she made sure she is docile and obedient for us. All genius egomaniacs such as her suffer the same cruel fate when something dares not to go their way."

"You should know then… only I doubt the genius part here."

He laughed for quite a while before turning to her with a serious expression.

"What's so interesting about that chip anyway? You've been playing with that thing since you got here."

"It's just that I never did understand how this little thing does… well, what it does."

"Me neither, but it's supposed to emit a certain electric charge at a specified frequency that makes the brain extremely susceptible to outside… persuasion. We then 're-educate' the people, and then the frequency changes to make sure the mind pretty much rejects anything that contradicts anything it believes it. There're several other options to it but that's the bottom line."

There was a tensed moment in which the two looked at each other, silent. Eventually a slight blush rose to 17's cheeks as he broke both eye contact and silence.

"A long while ago Bulma explained it to me, when we first manufactured those things."

"I'm sure she didn't sound half as casual about it as you just did."

"Oh, she did."

She sister eyed the brother doubtfully.

"She just cried her eyes out once she left the office."

18 nodded before eyeing the chip.

"But still, you gotta hand it to her… coming up with something like this…"

"The original design was Dr. Gero's."

18's eyes widened as she turned to look at him.

"You're lying."

"Am not. We found the plans for them in his lab. Planned on putting those things in –our- heads to make sure we obeyed him.

"But, then…"

"Why hasn't he? Why were we kept with our own wills other than his crazy confidence we'd do as he said even though the end result was that we took the world as our own?"

She nodded, still dazed.

"Apparently there was a major flaw to it."

"What was it?"

"It didn't work."

"Ah."

"Two designs were found. One kept affecting the entire brain's activity, resulting in physical disorders. The mental side was perfect, but the subjects upon which it would've been used would've been useless pawns, unable to even breathe right."

"And the other design?"

Taking a deep breath, he continued.

"It had quite the opposite effect. Working on a different frequency and lower power, it solved the physical problem and had slightly longer longetivity due to lower power usage, but that certain frequency caused too many disturbances to the human mind and resulted in insanity. It might've worked on us, I mean, obey long enough to kill Goku had he still been around when we woke up, only then going insane, once we were already disposable."

"But... It didn't have enough power to affect us?"

"Bingo. The energy used to power us normally just cancelled that effect. I guess he got too restless because no other designs were made before we were activated."

"Then… what –are- we putting in people's heads? They're physically alright, so does that mean…"

"Wrong."

Blinking again, she rose to her feet and placed her hands on her hips.

"Then?"

"Taking both designs and their problems under consideration, Genius Girl managed to solve the puzzle. Don't ask me how, though, it was too long and boring an explanation for me to have listened through it all."

Snorting, 18 turned towards the door, about to take her leave.

"Where are you going?"

"Downtown. I still need to buy some stuff."

"Oh yeah, you still haven't found her a present, have you? For your… favorite daughter…"

The door slammed shut before he even finished the sentence, making him chuckle.

"I wonder how Daddy Dear is doing…"

"That idiot doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut…"

18 grumbled as she walked down the street, casually ignoring the politeness of the many passer Byers who greeted her.

"Like bugs, they're everywhere."

She came to a stop next to a toy shop. The display in the window was colorful and held many different kinds of toys and games, from action figures to doll, from stuffed animals to construction kits of some famous anime-star robots… or were they called mobile suits? She shrugged.

She sighed inwardly, burying her hand in her hair.

'Maybe I should stop… she's getting too old for this…'

"Ah ha ha! How cute!"

The android's eyes widened as she recognized the voice. Slowly turning her head, she knew what, or rather who it was she was about to lay eyes on. And sure enough there was a soon to turn a year older blonde girl, admiring the stuffed animals with a gentle smile on her face.

"Marron…"

18 blurted without much thought. A tad confused and surprised, the girl looked in the direction from which her name was said and could only stare as she recognized the speaker.

"18…"

A moment passed in which the two were locked in what appeared to be a staring contest. Neither blinked. Breathing was dropped to a minimum. The air became heavy, the atmosphere tensed. Like so, a moment passed… and then another… and yet another… and then…

Two sets of equally blue eyes widened as a phone's custom ring tone was heard, the sound's origin being the teenager's bag.

"Ah, excuse me…"

Marron excused as though 18 and her were in the middle of a conversation.

"Hello? Trunks! How are… no, I haven't forgotten, silly…"

A serene, nostalgic expression rose to 18's face as she watched the girl chat so carelessly with her boyfriend. It was such a peaceful, mundane scene, the android felt badly about having witnessed it.

"Your boyfriend?"

She heard herself ask once Marron replaced the phone in her bag, catching the girl by surprise. A slight blush rose to her cheeks but before she could reply, 18 smirked.

"Kissed him yet?"

Now utterly flushed, Marron bowed, the effect being that her entire face was covered with her blonde locks.

"Fo, forgive me, I should be, be going."

18 surprised both with a laugh.

"Sure thing, go ahead. Have fun with that lucky guy."

Cheeks puffed, the girl ran past the woman, but for some reason turned back, smiling before rushing off completely. 18 blinked for a while before smiling softly, and sadly.

"That much like her father, eh?"

It had been well over 14 years before.

"Wake up."

The never changing female voice ordered. Water splashed on the captive's face, forcing him to regain consciousness.

"Morning, Krillin."

The short man squinted his eyes, knowing well that he had to glare, even with all the drugs in his system. Not that they needed him calmed down, he was strong but even among the rebels, the man wasn't the top fighter. They just did it for their own fun, hardly his.

"Do you know why you're here, Krillin?"

18 asked, arms crossed in a bored way. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he answered.

"I got knocked out in a fight, and you captured me. You're here to interrogate me. And then…"

"And then?"

"… you'll kill me."

She chuckled.

"You're about as right as you are wrong. In order for the forces of good to look good, there need to be forces to evil. So you get to live a bit longer. And as for interrogation, I'm not interested in that."

Krillin's one good eye widened, the other still too swollen and hurt from the previous fight.

"Then… what do you want from me?"

Trailing a finger down his cheek, a soft, sad… almost loving look settled in her eyes as her other hand rubbed her lower belly.

"A baby…"

"Krillin?"

Bulma asked softly, waking the man from his daze. Disguised, he was seated on a bench in one of the more crowded parks. She had came there as though on coincidence. It was their meeting place for quite a long period of time.

"Oh, hi Bulma. Please, have a seat."

He shifted a bit to allow her to do so, and she did.

"Been a while, since you and I last sat down alone like this."

"Yes… it has been…"

Krillin gazed at the woman from the corner of his eye.

She was staring at air; her eyes were sunken and swollen, and dark circles were below them. Her lips tugged downward and appeared painfully dry. The hands which clutched her hand bang seemed skinnier than he had ever seen them, and the nails appeared to have suffered quite the constant biting…

"I head… from Gohan."

Her clutch on the bag tightened.

"You don't seem to be handling it too well."

Closed eyes and a mocking smirk served as an unsaid 'you think!'.

"You really oughtta take better care of yourself, Bulma."

She chuckled, making him feel worse.

"What for? I'm pathetic. Can't even save my own son…"

"Can't you…"

"17 knows, Krillin!"

She shouted to his face.

"He knows."

"All the more reason for you look after yourself…"

It began a chuckle… then escalated until she simply burst out laughing. Krillin blinked, confused.

"Huh?"

"Don't worry, he won't hurt me, not after having me right where he wants me. I'm safe as far as that goes. He needs me too much, too."

"For the chips."

Rubbing her eyes and half covering her face in the process, she shook her head.

"No."

"Then…"

She sighed heavily.

"The way… Trunks is now… should anything happen to me…"

She looked down, her eyes distant and longing.

"… Vegeta wouldn't have anything left to lose."

Sighing, Krillin leaned back and, closing his eyes, remembered a time he shared with who he secretly still considered a loved one.

It had been how long since he was brought there? A day? Two? More? He had no way of knowing.

"A week…"

Came the only voice he heard in the past… week… he had been there.

"… in case you were wondering how long you've been here."

He was spending far too much time with her. He had to start getting out more.

"Another round?"

He asked tiredly in rather a monotone voice. She sat down next to him on the floor on which he was sprawled, exposed save for a thin blanket. Looking down at him, she ran her finger across his chest.

"Do I have someone to contact who could get you out of here?"

His eyes widened, but save for that he didn't move a muscle.

"What…"

"The test results just came in. Congratulations, daddy."

It was 10 months later that they fought again, this time without him getting caught.

"I'll tell you where she is now."

18 said, her voice and face devoid of all emotions.

"Her name's Marron. She has a nice mother and a cute father. They'll take good care of her."

It took him years to master the courage needed to go and see the child who was his daughter.

Knowing her daughter's true nature and origin, the mother couldn't live her life the way she used to, and so, rebelled. For herself and for her adopted daughter.

The day he came to see the child was the day the woman was taken away. Being unable to do a thing but watch, he stood there for several minutes and gazed at the child sitting in the window looking back at him, her face a mixture of his own silly noseless face and her mother's beautiful features. How he longed to have been able to hold her, talk to her… be a father to her…instead, he could only watch as the one she now called mother was taken away, in a way because of him. That thought in mind, he turned back, leaving the scene.

"Is that why you continue living, then?"

The short man asked through clenched teeth, his hands curling into fists on his knees. The woman blinked, looking at him questioningly.

"If your only reason for living is so that someone else would have something to lose… then maybe it's best if you just dropped dead right here and now!"

His voice never rose above a harsh whisper, but maybe that was what gave it such an impact on her. Tears began to well in Bulma's eyes, but Krillin only continued.

"Can't even save your own son! What kind of mother can go on like that!"

"Who said I…"

"Listen!"

He ordered, jumping to his feet. His eyes raged, making her cower in her seat.

"Pathetic? You don't have the right to call yourself that!"

A silence fell as he fought to control his emotions and she, her tears. When he spoke next, his voice was softer, though it was clear his intentions and point were not.

"Can't do anything? You're still breathing, aren't you? You're still alive, aren't you! Where's your pride as a human being if all you can do is continue living the way you do now! Death truly would be much better!"

"But I…"

"Listen to yourself! I've never heard any woman cry like that! You want your son back? Fight for him! You miss your husband? Do whatever it takes to be with him! Otherwise it's the same as curling up and dying!"

"Even if it means…"

She refused to look up at him.

"Even if it means sacrificing lives?"

"Yes."

Her eyes widened.

"Krillin!"

"It's a harsh world we're living in, Bulma. You can't go on thinking about other people. You can do it? Do it. The world will still be the same messed up place when you wake up the next day, realizing you failed. Don't fight for the world. It's not worth it."

"Then…"

Her voice sounded small and shattered.

"… then what are you fighting for, Krillin?"

He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly.

"I lost my best friend before the fighting even began. I lost my home and my life and since then I've lost so many allies…"

"Then…?"

"Then I fight for those who live, without mourning those who perished. There isn't time for that. My friends… the daughter I never had a chance of knowing… you…"

She looked up at him, several tears dropping down her cheeks and down towards her shirt.

"Everyone else stopped matter a long while ago."

The wind blew past them, waving her hair and his wig as it passed along.

"I… better get going. School… Trunks should… should be home soon."

She managed, wiping her tears. He remained silent as she stood up to leave, remembering his voice only after she was almost too far to hear.

"Even though 18's technically a part of it, the androids ruined my family. I don't want to see the same thing happen to you. You're stronger than that… all three of you."

Without uttering a word, not even looking back, she walked off, leaving him alone.