Chapter 07:

"Cruel Intentions"

The young woman expelled a relaxing sigh into the fresh spring air as she walked into broad daylight for the first time in a week. She bent her neck in a few choice directions, her expert fingers working out a few kinks in it and a tiny groan of relief betraying her throat as she felt her whole being ease somewhat thanks to the soothing rays and the still crispy air outside.

She had been working like a maniac for days, knowing that her father needed her project completed before he was back, which was today. And, never having disappointed the doting adoptive parent thus far and not planning on starting then, the aquamarine haired adolescent had rolled up her sleeves—literally—and met the deadline, if just barely.

Regardless, she was quite pleased with herself. She had done a better job at it than she had credited herself for being able to. It was technology that she wasn't well acquainted with but she did splendid with some before-hand research.

Shaking her much too wise for her years head, she rid herself of thoughts of work and banned them from further intrusion for the day. She had deserved a few hours of peace, after all, she decided. Stretching her arms above her head as well as her entire body until she was on her toes, she felt much more refreshed. She took in a deep breath which she held in for a second longer than necessary to ease her nerves as well. There was nothing better than spring in the air!

Fishing in her lab coat for a band, she tied her relatively short hair in a messy high ponytail that made her feel much more aware of her surroundings by its applied pressure on her scalp. With a squeal that she would have dubbed infantile and unsuitable for a scientist of her status had she had proper sleep in the last few days, she threw herself in the comfort for a cushioned chair, sinking blissfully in the squishy surface of the said cushions.

She was completely unaware how much time had passed since she had gone out or what possessed her to open her brilliant cerulean eyes at the time she did or even why it was that she had chosen to look in the general direction that she had. But the decision—unbeknownst to her ignorant self at that point in time—would change her life forever as her ever observant orbs caught sight of an odd glimmer, unnatural for her well-kept garden that she tended lovingly to every day.

As a person usually driven solely by curiosity, the youth ignored the protest of her still aching limbs and back as she sat up, sharp eyes pinned at the light glow coming from the far end of her garden. Maybe she should have neglected it, never looked at it again and saved herself the trouble but she couldn't turn her gaze away—it was beckoning to her, in some mysterious way. Her feet weren't her own as she walked towards it and her mind was completely—and very uncharacteristically so—blank while she kneeled in the dew-moist grass in front of the most fetching orange orb on the planet.

She scooped it up tentatively with her creamy-white skinned hands and held it up for inspection. The four crimson stars inside it reflected weakly the bright light of the sun and—without realizing it—she was immediately enamored with the vision of perfection before her as if it was the most beautiful and valuable gem in the entire Universe.

Little she knew that it was so much more than that…

Bulma's breath hitched in her throat and she instantly knew that the telltale black spots wouldn't be much later now. After all, she was already delusional, what with seeing people that aren't there—couldn't possibly be there. She had never thought herself to be one of those over-sensitive girly ones prone to losing consciousness. As a matter of fact, she had never before really fainted but she had heard enough about others' experiences in the area to know the symptoms.

And of all the people she knew, she had to see him standing there, looking awe-struck, when she was delirious.

However, to her utter dismay, there were no black dots blurring her vision, there was no ringing in her ears except the sudden silence that had befallen the large group of aliens around her and ChiChi, no falling curtain and no numbing darkness. Instead, she felt painfully aware of her surroundings as the gravity of the situation tried futilely again and again to sink home with her.

It wasn't until his onyx eyes turned away from hers, until he turned his broadened back on her that it finally dawned on her. It was really happening. It wasn't a nightmare and she had never been faint-hearted in her life so there was no reason to believe that she would start being then. He was there and he had dismissed her, not speaking to her as if she were below him, not recognizing what she had selflessly done for him, without even asking anything in return, all those years back. He had discredited her before she even had the chance to breathe a word to him. He had abandoned her to fend for herself in a cluster of deadly powerful aliens that could kill her instantly if it so suited their fancy.

Angry tears sprung to her eyes as she felt more rage than ever before in her short life, but Bulma refused to shed them. He didn't deserve them. She had given him roof to sleep under, food to fill his stomach, saved his pitiful life and—God forbid!—even gave him direction when he was lost. She had never even thought to ask for anything in return as doing so would be going against everything that she stood for. Yet there she was, feeling wretchedly bitter by his rejection, by the fact that everything that she had done for him had amounted to not even a brief look of recognition crossing his pointy facial features.

Before she had time to ponder over it anymore though, the aquamarine haired earthling was hauled toward an unwelcoming dark corridor that led to God-knew-where. She was half-aware of ChiChi's heated refusal to oblige with the extraterrestrials' wishes and felt a swell of pride rise in her chest. She had always known her raven haired friend to be hotheaded and opinionated but hadn't been sure how she would react to this new predicament. It wasn't every day that you were kidnapped by vicious-looking space aliens on their damned ship, and manhandled by the aforementioned creatures, you have to admit. Having some support in her cause, however, made Bulma feel much more self-confident than she would should she have been alone.

A calloused blue-greenish hand reached for the pendant on her neck and the anything but gentle pull it applied on the chain holding the orange orb snapped Bulma out of her frantic thoughts. Snarling in a rather unladylike manner, she tried to shove an elbow in his side to get him a safe distance away from her necklace but it was to no avail. The accursed bastard's ugly fingers were still grasping the ball with no intention of letting go in the near future but she would have none of it.

Before any of the crew members had the chance to realize what had happened, their vice-captain howled in pain like a wounded wild animal. Immediately, they began fussing around him, making the emerald haired warrior growl out something in his alien tongue at them and shove them back to their business while he nursed his hand on which the earthling bitch had sunken her pretty little teeth.

He hissed something unintelligible in her ear, pulling her head back by her hair. The action sent painful sensations down her entire spine and she almost shivered in disgust but deprived the sleazy rascal from knowing that.

The guy seemed to recuperate quickly from his tantrum though, as his hand released her marine tresses soon and a sly and unsettlingly smug grin spread on his features. Bulma didn't even want to begin to imagine what brought on such a reaction in him but could bring herself to care for now as relief washed over her in calming waves while she trudged onward, orange orb still dangling on her neck.

In the ruckus she hadn't noticed a pair of onyx eyes scrutinizing her over a well-built shoulder throughout the entire episode.

Somewhere along the way, they had spread up in two groups but Bulma couldn't have cared less about what that ingrate and his league of goons were up to as she was, once again for that day, painfully acquainted with an unfamiliar metal floor. She heard ChiChi's hiss next to her as they both scrambled up into more dignified positions.

"You are to stay here until Lord Freeza measures your worth!" A guard barked out something they couldn't understand before the door slid shut and—almost angrily—beeped locked.

There wasn't much a feeble earth woman could do when her arms are cuffed in a pair of the most effective specimens of restraints in the entire Universe. There wasn't much to see with her handicapped sight in a room in the open cosmos with no light inside. And ChiChi Ox wasn't one of those girls who could hold their mouths when they were rendered completely helpless by a bunch of malevolent aliens.

"I'm not going to tell you that I told you this would happen, even though I remember clearly that I did and I was absolutely right," the brunette's snippy remark reached her friend's ears soon after silence had settled in the premise. The renowned scientist rolled her cerulean eyes although she was well aware that the other girl couldn't actually see her doing it.

"Please spare me your nagging, ChiChi—it's not the time," said Bulma in an exasperated tone while she pushed herself to her buckling feet. There was a sharp intake of breath from somewhere in the centre of the room which the shuffling around in the dark heiress had abandoned moments ago.

"Well, if it's not the time for me to nag at you—­which I have to point out is not what I am doing—then what is it time for, Bulma?" She could feel her buddy's indignation in her inquiry but had no compassion or guilt to spare her as the wheels of her mind were turning rapidly.

The lack of lighting didn't really air the adolescent genius in her blind search for the door from which they had been thrown into the room but she was sure she was closing in on it when the crystal orb on her neck started to glow, its light increasing and diminishing in strength on even intervals. She stared transfixed at it for a minute, as did her still sitting friend.

"Just what are you doing, Bulma Briefs?" came the next question which the addressed decided was polite not to ignore this time. After all, it was bad enough that their impending doom was creeping closer and closer towards them. The least they could do was remain civil to each other and figure something out together.

"I'm looking for the door," she informed tersely, going back to work with a little difficulty in tearing her gaze from the alluring glowing of the ball.

"I meant what you did to that odd crystal to make it do that." The other girl asked in a miffed tone.

"Oh," muttered Bulma, temporarily halting her groping the wall with her chained hands for the panel she had seen before all light had been extinguished. "I don't know; I'm not sure I did anything at all. But I have a feeling that it's…" She paused, looking for a fitting word. "Calling to something," she finished lamely. The girl could almost feel her dark haired friend raising an eyebrow at her statement.

"Calling to something?" echoed ChiChi dully. "I'm afraid to say, friend, that I have just established that you are completely demented. I am sorry for your loss of brilliant brain cells, Bulma, I really am. You had the potential to become great in so many ways." Bulma cringed at her companion's words. It should be against the law to sound so serious when saying such ludicrous things.

"Now is not the time, ChiChi," the scientist seethed through her gritted teeth. She was about to continue her lecture but then she finally felt the control panel of the door come in contact with her probing shoulder and she barely stifled a squeal of success. Instead, she busied herself with listening for any movement down the hall.

"Then what is it time for, pray tell?" Her friend countered just as venomously. "We are about to die in the most gruesome gory way at the hands of some bastardly outer space maniacs and all you care to tell me is that "now isn't the time"?" Her voice was beginning to sound shrill and on any other day she would have tried to gather her wits because it was unbecoming to give in to emotion as much but what she said was true—they were about to die light years away from their home. Their deaths would mean nothing to those monsters and the earth girls didn't even want to venture into thinking of the countless ways their bodies could be defiled after their deaths.

Bulma sighed in defeat. "I know, I know, Chi—just relax a bit. I have a plan," she added as an afterthought, as if it was the most spirit-brightening thought in the entire galaxy. Her counterpart snorted in disbelief at her words.

"Oh, you have a plan?" Her volume at that point had reached a painful to the ears pitch. "Thank you, Bulma. Now I feel so much better, knowing that my death is actually going according to plan!"

"Will you stop making a nuisance of yourself and start helping me?" came the oddly muffled voice of her friend until she felt as if her presence had disappeared from the room altogether. It wasn't a very calming thought, mind you.

The brunette was just about to give her two cents in again when she felt familiar hands brushing over her arms going straight for the cuffs. She didn't even have time to inquire what she was doing before her wrists were freed. She found her onyx orbs gazing into Bulma's sapphire ones thanks to the faint glow of her friend's necklace.

"How did you do that?" ChiChi heard herself ask in an almost awed tone. Her companion answered with a one-shouldered shrug.

"Used the shrinking watch, became too small for the restraints and then went back to normal, of course," the girl said with a bright smile. She was referring to a watch she had invented thanks to which she could become the size of a paperclip or that of a whale if she just pressed a simple button. It was a generally useless in everyday situations thing and also tremendously silly but now ChiChi couldn't help but thank whatever deities there were for making Bulma immune to her taunts.

Sighing in defeat, the dark haired girl crossed her arms over her ample chest to regard her partner with her stern stare.

"Alright, let's hear that plan of yours." Bulma grinned even wider at those words.

"Well, first of all, we should think of a way to get out of here. I figure that the panel over there by the door won't be able to resist much of your finger-magic." ChiChi gave her a dubious look and then dived out of sight to search her numerous pockets for something. When the warm light of the ball shined on her face again, she had retracted a small flashlight. Bulma's jaw dropped in blatant shock. "You had a flashlight with you?" she almost shrieked.

"Of course," said ChiChi testily. "I always have a flashlight with me. What self-respecting mechanic doesn't?" The girl gave her friend a deprecating look.

"Why didn't you tell me that earlier?" Bulma asked while following the other youth to the door of the room.

"Well, with our hands bound it wouldn't have been of much use to us, would it?" She had a point, of course. Her friend still gave a disbelieving half-laugh.

"Oh, sure, so why bother with getting some light if we're bound anyway? Seriously, ChiChi, one of those days…" She trailed off mid-sentence, shaking her head disdainfully and massaging lightly the bridge of her fine aristocratic nose, sensing a headache coming on. Her buddy gave her a pointed look for the fracture of a second before turning back to the digital pad on the wall, opening its lid and typing in something.

"One of those days what, Bulma?" snapped ChiChi while tapping the digits furiously, once more demonstrating her staggering multi-tasking ability—it's not very easy to think so hard and still be able to produce coherent sentences or make conversation. "I dare you to finish that thought!"

"Don't tempt me, ChiChi Ox!" threatened good-naturedly her friend. The other girl was about to look at her with a smug look over her shoulder when the lights suddenly went on and the door that they had been working on opening slid on its own accord.

They had been about to thank the gods for their mercy when they noticed the same repugnant man that had brought them there in the first place stand on the threshold, looking rather furious with their lack of chains. ChiChi had the grace to roll her eyes dramatically and groan in dejection.

"Oh, man… You have to be kidding me!"

They were both hauled off their feet by the meek-looking alien, chainless and never getting to hearing or executing the rest of Bulma's genius escape plan.

When he first laid eyes on her on the dock, he had thought that maybe he was having one of those testy nightmares and had to submerge a quite overwhelming urge to pinch himself awake. Realization wasn't late on dawning on him, though, thankfully. He had turned around and away from her before any of his subordinates had the chance to spot a weakness in their 'beloved' mission leader—it was exactly what the vultures expected, what everyone around him expected.

He had thought the Universe vast enough for Freeza's or anyone else's grubby paws to never reach her fragile little neck. Well, obviously, fate had a way with mocking him because she was certainly there, on the space station, just as certainly as he was the last descendant of his royal family.

He groaned inwardly. How was he going to pull this off without feeling sorry for the rest of his wretched centuries-long days for one reason or another was truly beyond him at that point.

The lizard-like man in the outer space wheel-chair looked up from his goblet of wine at the sound of bickering males just outside the door to his room. He nodded to a servant close to him, who nodded in understanding in return and went to let the intruders in.

"—is still against protocol, space trash!" The vehement end of the flame-haired man's rant was the first thing that greeted the sipping creature upon the opening of the sliding door.

"What is, Vegeta?" He inquired with a friendly smile that sent shivers down his subordinate's spine that he hid perfectly well from prying eyes.

"He breached protocol by stealing my ship off the dock during our meeting! This is an outrage!" The Saiya-jin's stormy eyes were glaring daggers at his antagonist, whose amber orbs narrowed at the proclamation.

"I do have to agree with Vegeta on that one, Zarbon—it is very irresponsible of you to go off on your own." The way that he talked to them, like retarded little children, irritated the hell out of his minions, but they weren't insane enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves. "Do you have anything to say for yourself, Zarbon?"

"I brought back the four-star, Lord Freeza!" the greenish skinned man finally came out with, a smug grin spreading across his slimy mug. Much to Vegeta's dismay, their lord's reptilian face stretched into a look of amusement.

"Did you now?"

"We were slightly held back by some… unforeseen circumstances—"

"What I hear is that some measly earthlings—women, nonetheless—outsmarted you and your crew, Zarbon. Is it true?" It was a harmless-sounding question, really, but with Freeza a wrong answer to any harmless question can be the last thing that you ever have the chance to say.

"Yes, sire," breathed Zarbon in reply, his head hanging low against his collarbone, not missing the chance to glare menacingly out of the corner of his eye at Vegeta, who was suddenly very quiet in the exchange. "While I can't believe they can be of any worth to you, I reckoned you would want to deal with them yourself for their insolence."

"It sounds to me like you want me to clean up your mess for you, Zarbon. And why should I punish someone else for what I believe is your incompetence entirely?" Freeza inquired with that same unnerving smile never leaving his purple lips. The underling tensed visibly at the words and, propelled by some incorporeal force or his own sudden insanity, that was when Vegeta spoke up.

"It is a fact that Earth is far more advanced technology-wise than us, milord. They invest in broadening their knowledge rather than their physical qualities, thus few exceed the number of five ki." His short explanation had the blood curdling crimson eyes shift to him. He didn't falter when his lord's eyes adopted a mischievous glint.

"Is that so?" purred Freeza into his goblet before nodding to a guard by the door that didn't even need to be told to know what to do. "Do you believe these earthlings to have some potential, Vegeta?"

The Saiya-jin leant on all his years of self-control not to show his double-take on his facial features. It was common knowledge that his superior appreciated his opinion but never about prisoners, never about politics.

Thankfully, the distraught prince didn't have a chance to answer as the door opened briskly and the guard that had exited mere seconds ago was back with two short females—one with hair as inky black as the cosmos and the other with tresses as blue as the oceans. The man shoved the pair inside, both of them fighting for balance after nearly toppling to the ground, glaring murder at their apprehender afterwards.

All male eyes were instantly drawn to the glowing orb on the blue haired one's neck, the crystal ball immediately ceasing its vibration, as if sensing the unnatural amount of attention it was receiving.

"Ah, indeed, she has the four-star." Freeza's chair hovered closer to the girl who glared defiantly at him once she was in front of her. "Did you say they were earthlings?" he asked Zarbon at once, whose only acknowledging of his confusion with the question was another blink of his eyes.

"They are, milord, that's where we found them."

Bulma was quite disgusted with the suggestive look in the repulsive little reptile's eyes but she prudently decided not to let her feelings show on her face.

"So you found it fit to give my men a hard time at executing their orders, did you now?" It was the first time since their arrival that ChiChi and Bulma heard speech that they could recognize. "Give me a reason why I shouldn't incinerate you on the spot, little one," he breathed out with a menacing glint in the crimson coloured irises but it seemed to lose its effect on both women who in turn only glared.

The young scientist fought the urge to empty the contents of her stomach at the inquiry and the tone he was using on her. She wasn't about to give him a reason to feel superior to her. She could bet an arm and a leg that she was times smarter than that hovering dolt. She just had to play her cards right to live long enough to make use of that brain of hers. She wasn't about to let ChiChi be the recipient of her heroic complexes.

"We'll talk after you get me back in those hilarious excuses for handcuffs of yours and I blow a hole in another one of your precious ships." At her bold declarations the odd little man gave a bark of laughter.

"I like her, Zarbon!" he exclaimed in a very perturbing way. "You're a very feisty one, aren't you?" he asked rhetorically when he turned back to Bulma. "Very well, pet. You can go talk with the research department. I'm sure that you'll find something to make yourself useful."

"ChiChi and I share the same fate," the girl spoke suddenly, drawing back his attention before the guard that had taken her and her friend there could seize the second, useless in Freeza's eyes, female. He didn't need both of them—he'd probably lose face with his minions. But at the sound of her voice, the reptilian lord turned around to size her with his revolting eyes. "Regardless of what that fate may be."

"Are you giving me conditions, Earth woman?" She didn't answer—only glared in response, steadfast in her decision to live or day alongside her friend. Camaraderie… Yet another feeling that Freeza couldn't understand the worth of. However, she seemed bent on her word so he decided to humor her. "If that is your only wish, princess, so be it—scurry off with your friends to find yourself a job around here. Oh, and, do watch your pretty little backs, wouldn't you? Most of my staff isn't exactly… the chivalrous type." His malignant smirk spoke volumes of the things that he left unsaid.

With an idle hiss, the door slid shut once again and the lord found himself in the company of two of his most trusted subordinates once again.

"Go after them and inform them of the nature of your missions. See if they can possibly find a more accurate method for your searches—it's taking forever the way we're doing it." The command was clear enough and the suddenly somber mood of their leader too to send both men on their way as well.

Alone and twirling the wine in the goblet, Lord Freeza began scheming how to make most use of his new guests and couldn't help wondering why it was that Vegeta seemed to have understood every word that he had spoken with the otherworldly women. His smirk reappeared when new and new plots began swimming to the surface of his mind's eye.

For it was a well-known fact that Freeza's intentions were always cruel, in everything he did.

Bulma walked after ChiChi, turning to look over her shoulder to see that the emerald haired henchman from the lizard's quarters was following them with a decisive expression on his face. Before he could see them after turning a corner though she ducked into an open room, waiting until he was out of sight to come out and look for the person she was itching to meet after climbing off that hellish transport of theirs.

She found him soon enough, plodding thoughtfully through the winded halls with a miffed twist of his pointy features. She hadn't followed him for more than a few minutes, not sure how to confront him before he stopped abruptly.

"Stop stalking me like something you aren't, brat—you're not doing a very good job at it." He was addressing her without even turning to look at her in the face.

She gritted her teeth so tightly together she thought they would break any moment. She walked stiffly until she was in front of him, glaring up at him as she was a good few inches lower than him. His hard onyx eyes studied her and a sneer took control of his face. Unaware of it, her façade mimicked his.

"You will look at me when you're talking to me, moron." His eyes flashed threateningly at her but she was either too thick to notice or too brave for her own good. His mouth curled in a patronizing smirk as he reclined slightly closer to her.

"And you will do well to know your place on this ship, little girl, because this is the real world. We're not playing house anymore."

"You will do well to remember next time that you play ingrate with me that I am no longer fourteen, Vegeta," she hissed back cryptically, her mouth twisting in a disgusted look before she stormed off and away from the most embarrassing little cluster of her past.

Weak ending, I know. I thought I should just make it brief and powerful. Did I succeed? And I can only hope that the chapter was not too lame or boring for your liking. Anyway, thanks for bearing with me. Puberty is making a great number on me and I'm still very shaky with my loyalties to the fandom. Hopefully it will all turn out for the better? I hope that you'll be as supportive as you were last time and that it will suit your fancy to leave me a review. You know, to assure myself that you actually care if this gets finished?