Empire: A Family Affair
Chapter 21: More Than Mind Control
Vegeta sat on his bed. He was leaning forward while resting his elbows on his thighs. He was uneasy. He'd been feeling less than confident about his predicament. However, it was not because of the unknown factors on Earth. Instead, he was worried about his wife. Not being able to contact her was maddening and he did not know why.
I've gone months without speaking to her while on missions. Why now am I suddenly feeling like this? It doesn't make sense, the king mused. He glanced out of the terrace doors. The sky was still covered with the mysterious magnetized and electrified cloud. The wind was still as furious as ever and it was still cold. I must get my mind together.
Rising to his feet, Vegeta picked his cape up off the bed and hooked it on his armor. "There has to be a way to get in contact with anyone outside the Earth," he said as he headed out of his chambers. The more he mulled it over, the less he thought it possible. While Vegeta was by no means unintelligent, he was still not the brains of the duumvirate of the Saiyan Empire. Figuring out technology was not his job. "Perhaps the woman is already devising a plan..."
Eighteen stared at the healing tank with a thinly-veiled worried look on her face. Bulma had gone into it about five hours before and Eighteen had not moved from her spot. The fluid had been incredibly bloody at first, but after two hours, it had cleared up considerably. When Bulma had gone into the tank, the estimated time for healing was eight hours.
"Staring at her won't make it run any faster, Mom." Marron entered the room. "She's out of danger for now. Her healing is progressing at a fair rate," she said, trying to sound happy. The teenager's arm was in a sling. Eighteen's head was wrapped and a few cuts and bruises adorned her arms. "The wound is not as serious as it seemed."
"The severity of the wound doesn't matter. It's that Bulma was hurt to begin with. She's been dealt far worse injuries before, but they've never happened on my watch." Eighteen sighed. "I almost feel guilty."
Marron shook her head and sat next to her mother. "There was nothing you could do. We were all taken off guard by that... thing. By the way, some men were sent out to inspect the damage done. A lot of Venova was on fire, but for the most part the flames have been put out."
"Do we know what that thing was?"
Marron shook her head. "Sadly, no. There's no sign that anything was ever in the sky to create so much damage. The clouds have gone back to normal. The only way we can tell anything ever happened was the destruction it left behind," she replied.
Eighteen nodded and looked back at Bulma. The queen's eyes were still closed as she floated in the green substance. I'd feel a lot better about this situation if Bulma was at least awake. Apparently she won't gain consciousness until after she's done. The blonde straightened up in her seat, her eyes widening. What about the baby?
Trunks sat on top of his pod, chewing on some sea-faring animal that had been unlucky enough to be trapped for the prince's dinner. The prince was staring up at the sky. Worry was written all over his face. From his mother's earlier messages, he knew that he would not be able to contact his father. But transmissions had even stopped coming from his mother. His curiosity and anxiety had only tripled.
"You know, staring into space won't get anything done," Goten said from his own pod. He too was eating something he had hunted down. "Just relax. We'll get word from them sooner or later. We always do."
"I hate sitting here doing nothing. So much could be going wrong right now. I just thought Mom would've kept me in the loop. It isn't like her to not even call to check up on..." Trunks stopped when he heard a beeping coming from inside his pod. He jumped off the top and went inside. A message was waiting for him. "Goten!"
Goten came over to the pod just as Trunks turned it on. Marron's voice was heard. "Prince Trunks, Goten. Venova was attacked earlier. Queen Bulma was injured, but it is nothing serious. She is in recovery. Delegate Eighteen has said not to worry and your mother will contact you as soon as possible. Do not leave Namek."
Trunks frowned as the message ended. He crossed his arms. "I'm leaving." He moved to get start his pod up. Goten quickly put his hand on the controls. "Move it, Goten."
"No, Trunks. Both your parents and Eighteen said to stay here. I don't like it any more than you do. My mom and Gohan are on Earth. I care about Bra as well. Your father can't protect you and save your sister at the same time. He needs total concentration. Contrary to what you might think, he values your life more than anyone else's at this stage," Goten said.
The prince just stared at his friend. Then he narrowed his eyes. "How do you figure that? This is the same man who is telling me to kill him in order to become king. Besides, everyone knows I'll never be able to beat Father."
"You're his heir, Trunks. Losing his only son is simply out of the question. Now just sit back and wait. We'll know more soon enough."
I hate when he's the level-headed one. Usually, that's my job, Trunks thought as he relaxed back in his seat. Being on a strange world with virtually no link to the outside galaxy was starting to take its toll on his sanity. He needed to see his family to know they were all right. Their voices were not good enough.
"Did I die again?" Bulma was immediately blunt with the purple-skinned, fair-haired person before her. His eyes widened and he shook his head quickly. Bulma nodded. "This place looks different than where I was 17 years ago. Is it because I died on Namek last time?"
"Um, no. This isn't the afterlife or even close to it. You're still very much alive, albeit unconscious. This is not your physical body, but a projection of how you see yourself," the smaller being said.
"Oh. So who are you?"
"I'm the Supreme Kai. You can call me Kai, though."
"Supreme Kai? So, you're like a god or something?"
Kai nodded. "I suppose. There are four Kais that govern the galaxy you live in, each taking a cardinal direction. Then there is a Kai that governs the entire galaxy. He is called the Grand Kai. Then there's me. As the Supreme Kai, I govern the universe."
Bulma stared at the smaller man. Had they been standing, he would have not been that much smaller than her. He resembled a teenager more than anything. How could he be ruler of the universe? "Why are you talking to little, ol' me? I'm important in my galaxy, but not so important that the supreme being of the universe should be in my company."
"Is that what you truly think?" he asked. Bulma shrugged. "Queen Bulma, you are the greatest mind that the universe has ever seen and will probably ever see. There will most likely not be another to surpass your sheer intellect."
"Kai, you didn't call me here just to praise my brain. Although flattery is always very welcome, tell me what the real issue is."
Kai nodded. "Do you know of your daughter's predicament, Bulma?"
Bulma's eyes widened slowly. "I know Cooler took her. I don't know her whereabouts or what he's doing to her." She looked away from Kai. "Can you tell me?"
"She is on Earth."
Bulma stared blankly at Kai for a moment. "Earth? Vegeta has saved her already?"
Kai shook his head. "I never said she was with her father. The princess is on Earth. However, she is still within the clutches of the enemy. This is an enemy that has given trouble to even we Kais. His name is Babidi. He is a dangerous sorcerer and he will be most difficult to defeat. I was shocked to see that his greatest weapon has been swayed by your daughter."
"Greatest weapon? You mean Buu?"
"Yes. Buu is a being that is very impressionable. He does what he wants, but you'd be surprised what he can attach himself to. He sees your daughter as a friend, so to say. Not even Babidi's magic can deter him from protecting her or those she loves." Kai sighed. "However, Buu is simple-minded. As such, he takes things very literally; words in their simplest form. He looks for no deeper meaning. Bra told him to protect her family. What she did not tell you is that she told him to protect you all from even her."
"Protect us from her? Why would we need to be protected from Bra? She would never hurt us," Bulma said. "Besides, that goes in direct conflict with what Bra told Buu in the first place."
"No it doesn't. Buu chose to protect Bra. In choosing that, he also chose to listen to her plea of protecting her family. He will do that at all costs."
Bulma felt her mental mouth run dry. "He will kill her if it came down to it," she whispered. Kai nodded. "But why would..."
"Babidi has the power to control minds. Your daughter's mind is a strong one. However, Babidi's influence can be even stronger. Bra might not fall directly under his spell, but part of her will be controlled while part of her will fight him off."
"Her personality will split."
"Exactly. She will cope with the trauma by creating an alter-ego; one that fears nothing and does anything."
Bulma nodded. "Kai, you still haven't told me why I am here. I could be helping my family. I should be healed by now."
"Bulma, I want you to stay in the healing tank for this reason." Kai reached forward and placed a hand on her womb. Bulma glanced down to see she was very pregnant. "You are not this far along yet, but this is how you are seeing yourself now. You need to be safe at all costs. This child needs to be safe."
"I don't understand. Why is my baby important?"
"I cannot directly tell you, but let's just say that this baby, this son of yours will one day be the savior of us all."
Bulma could not help but smile. "You make him sound like some sort of messiah. You do know that staying inside the tank will accelerate my pregnancy, right?" she said with a small giggle. Kai only grinned back at her. "Well played, Kai. Well played indeed. By the way, what attacked Vegeta-sei?"
Eighteen's eyes slowly opened and let the invading light of the room in. She could hear a commotion in front of her and sat up straight. Some doctors were standing in front of Bulma's tank. Eighteen was immediately more alert. She stood and pushed through the doctors. Bulma was awake. "Let her out," Eighteen said. Bulma shook her head fiercely. "Wait. Why?"
The queen slumped her shoulders. Then her eyes lit up with an idea. She started tapping on the glass. At first, Eighteen had no idea what she was doing. Then it became clear. It was a type of code she learned to decode with Bulma in case of emergencies. She listened clearly. Then she looked at Bulma.
"Leave you in there? Why? For how long?" Eighteen listened as Bulma relayed a somewhat odd story back to her. In the back of her mind, Eighteen thought it was ludicrous. However, seeing how Bulma had actually died, seeing the supreme being of the universe while unconscious was actually not that hard to believe. Bulma tended to have adventures like that. "Well, if you're sure."
Bulma nodded inside the tank. She watched Eighteen talk to the doctors around her. Once they were gone, Bulma tapped another message out to Eighteen. Eighteen's eyes narrowed before she nodded and left the room as well. Vegeta was right about Garlic. He sure can call them, can't he? She thought before closing her eyes. I just hope he doesn't get too angry about Trunks being called back here.
Buu looked up from his food suddenly. Vegeta glanced over at him, noticing the unexpected movement. Not much could deter Buu from his sweets. Something had piqued his interest nonetheless. Before the king could ask, Buu spoke. "She comes. King will not go."
Vegeta already knew he was talking about Bra. Buu had managed to stop him every time he tried to go save his daughter, saying that it was not possible. "So are we just supposed to wait for her to come for us?" Buu shook his head. "Then I send someone out?"
"Send strong ones. Weak ones, Bra will kill," Buu said. The king nodded and looked at Brolly and Kakarrot. Before the two could leave, Buu stopped Kakarrot. "You must not go."
"Bra said so."
After a long moment of silence, someone stepped forward. "I'll go," Turles said.
Up until now, Vegeta had not even realized that Turles was there. "How did you get here?"
"I was sent here for some supplies when I got stuck on the planet. I can only imagine what Denni is doing right now since she can't get through to me. I know she's probably infuriated," he said, looking as though he actually wanted to stay on Earth. "I'll go with Brolly to meet the princess."
Vegeta shrugged. "Fine. Just don't hurt her more than necessary."
The princess was wearing a blood red cloak as she trudged through the deserted streets of West City. People stayed indoors, choosing to watch the princess from afar. Bra paid them no mind. She had no real target, as she could feel them closing in on her. She stopped in an open court where vendors usually set up shop. She stopped on one side of it and waited.
Brolly landed in front of Bra about five minutes later. With him were Turles and two other strong elites. "We don't know what the princess is capable of yet. Try to reason with her first," Brolly said quietly.
"Reason with me? Why would you want to do that?" Bra asked. Her voice was unfamiliar to Brolly. Bra's voice was usually deceptively sweet. There was always a hint of playfulness in it. The voice she used now was cold and dead. There was no emotion. It was almost as if a different person was speaking.
"Princess, your father would like you to see him." Brolly tried to get a clear view of her face, but all he could make out was the lower half of it. "He wants to know that you're okay." He nodded at the other two elites next to him.
Just as the two soldiers each took a single step towards the princess, she moved. One of the soldiers narrowly avoided her while the other let out a hoarse yelp as she grabbed hold of his neck. Brolly and Turles jumped back reflexively. They both saw the Bra had not only taken hold of the soldier's neck, but her hand was inside his neck. With one jerk of her hand, she ripped a portion of his spine out along with his trachea. The soldier crumpled to the ground, blood spilling everywhere.
"What the hell?" Turles whispered. He looked over at Brolly.
The other Saiyan was watching the princess with narrowed eyes. She was definitely not herself. Bra was violent at times, but never so violent she ripped off body parts. Well, there were a few incidents when she shot off limbs, but that was before she learned control of her power, Brolly rationalized.
Bra stared at the bloody body parts she held. She dropped them on the ground and looked back at the others. The other elite soldier looked as though he wanted to bolt. She took another step but stopped her advance before it began in earnest. She blinked a few times and looked down at her hands. Then she looked up at Brolly.
Brolly recognized the look in Bra's eyes. It was the same look she gave when she was mortified at something that happened in front of her. Brolly could only assume that Bra had come to her senses. He took a deep breath before stepping towards the princess. "Princess, are you well?"
"Brolly?" Bra whispered. She looked at her hands again. "What... What did I do?" Bra caught sight of the dead soldier on the ground. She saw what she had torn out of him. Bra began trembling and began backing away from them.
"Princess, it's okay. Come with me. We'll go see the king," Brolly said. He was trying to sound gentle, but he knew he was failing horribly. For all the Saiyan characteristics Bra possessed, she was still half human and very emotional. He did not know what her mental state was exactly, but he could tell she was nowhere near sane at the moment.
At the mention of her father, Bra seemed to come back down to the ground. She looked up at the sky. "Daddy? Where's Daddy?" she asked. She started to walk towards Brolly. Just as she did, she dropped to her knees, screaming in pain. Her hands went to her head.
"KILL THEM! KILL ALL OF THEM!" yelled the voice in Bra's head. The voice seemed very familiar, but she could not place where she heard it from. "KILL THEM NOW!"
It felt like something was trying to fight its way out of her skull. She shook her head, trying to clear it. Bra vaguely heard Brolly and Turles calling to her. Their voices were drowned out by the voice in her head. She belatedly realized that she was screaming. She got to her feet, still squeezing her eyes shut.
"Princess Bra!" Brolly yelled. Turles tapped him on the shoulder. They both looked towards the sky to see the electrified clouds swirling above them. Lightning flashes blinded them and thunder rolled. The wind was beginning to pick up.
"Is this her doing?" Turles asked. He watched Brolly shrug and shake his head. They were both shocked when Bra threw her head back, screaming louder than should be humanly possible. The amount of energy she was releasing was staggering.
Vegeta's frown became a deep scowl. He stood up from his meditative position in his training room. Kakarrot had suggested he meditate to stay calm. Meditation only made him more aware of what was going on with his daughter. Right now her power was out of control. At the rate her power-up was going, she would kill herself by literally exploding. Something was strange about the energy Bra was giving off as well.
Her maximum has never been that high. She is drawing power from some other force. Her body is not mature enough for that kind of power, he thought. Vegeta left the training room. He went right for the entrance to the castle. Predictably, Kakarrot and Buu were standing there.
"You can't go, Vegeta," Kakarrot said.
"She's going to die if someone doesn't stop her. She can't handle that much power. It isn't natural," Vegeta said. He got ready to take off but he was tackled by Kakarrot. "Kakarrot, what the hell..."
"You are far too distracted to even spar right now. There's no way I should've been able to do this. You're not going. Bra will be fine." Kakarrot stood up and offered his hand to Vegeta. Vegeta disregarded it and got up on his own. "Just wait. Brolly and Turles will calm her down."
Vegeta hated when Kakarrot made even a lick of sense. He's right. I should've expected that. I also should've left through another exit. What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I not thinking straight?
Cooler watched the insect-like warlock feed power into the purple glass ball that Babidi kept with him at all times. He was curious about where Babidi got the power from. The little magician never did explain that. All Cooler knew was that he could control Bra's mind and that it was extremely painful. "Why is this hurting her?" he asked.
"She's fighting me. If she'd just listen to what I say, she wouldn't be in any pain. Do not fret. I'm not going to feed her more power than she can handle. It'll be just enough so that she remembers who's boss," Babidi replied.
The metallic changeling grunted in response. He found it peculiar that Bra was fighting him off. Although I shouldn't expect anything less. After all, she is her mother's daughter, he mused.
Babidi would not admit it, but controlling Bra was proving to be almost as hard as controlling Buu. He could only assume that was why Bra was able to "break the spell" he had over Buu. The power of friendship seemed like a juvenile idea, but it might have had some merit if Bra could gain Buu's loyalty so easily.
"What is she going to do with all that energy?" Cooler asked.
"Well it can't very stay inside of her, can it? When something fills to the brim, what happens?" Babidi gave him a sideways glance.
Bra's stepped back and fell to her knees again. She opened one eye and looked up at Brolly and Turles. "Get away from me!" she yelled.
"Princess, my orders did not include abandoning you," Brolly said simply. He started walking towards her. The power she was giving off had a certain warmth to it that was both natural and unnatural for a Saiyan. Heat was natural. The temperature of the heat was what was strange.
"Brolly, I'm trying really hard to control myself right now. I don't know how much longer I can..."
"DO IT! DO IT NOW! LET IT ALL GO!"
Bra clapped her hands over her ears and closed her eyes again. She got to her feet. "You want me to do it? You want me to let it out? I'll do just that." Bra looked at Brolly. "Don't follow me." She jumped up and flew high into the sky.
Brolly watched as she disappeared through the clouds. The brawny Saiyan shot up into the air after her, yelling down at Turles to wait for them to return. The Saiyan princess was fast and clearly unstable. The last thing he needed was for Turles to not be able to report back to King Vegeta.
Bra was still flying up. She might not have been stronger than Brolly, but she knew she could fly faster than him. She felt as if her body was about to explode. She had to release the energy she had in her body. She did not know what would happen when she did. That was a mystery. All she knew was that she would prefer to release it away from people.
The princess flew higher and exited the mass of stormy clouds. She flew a little higher before she gasped. She had never flown this high before. Compared to the Earth's already cooled climate, it was downright freezing this high up. She could see the sun, which she considered a good thing. I have to be at least thirty miles up. No one should be able to get hurt up here, she thought. Bra noticed she was breathing harder than usual. She was not tired; the air was just so thin. I can't stay up here for too long or I'll pass out.
"Princess!" Brolly came through the clouds. He flew up and attempted to grab her. Bra moved out of the way. "Princess, come back. I'll take you to your..."
"I can't go to Daddy like this! I'll kill him! Even if I manage to get there, Buu will... stop me. Now go away, Brolly," Bra said, trying to keep her voice even. She was on the verge of tears. She flew a bit higher so that she was looking down at him.
"GO AWAY!" Bra screamed. She released a portion of her energy, knocking Brolly out of the sky. "I'm sorry..."
The release came easier than she thought. All she had to do was simply relax. Bra thought it was painless until she felt the burning sensation. It felt as though her body had been set on fire. She could not see past the light of her own energy. Before passing out, she vaguely wondered if she could be seen from space.
Turles was pushed to his knees as a wave of energy hit the ground. Some of the buildings in the town were caught in the blast, creating a small crater. Once it stopped, Brolly hit the ground, creating his own crater inside the one Turles and half the town were in. Before Turles could move for Brolly, he was again brought to his knees by another wave. He managed to look up in the sky to see a bright light shining through the clouds.
"Damnit! Is that the princess?"
"Yes. That's all the power I put into her," Babidi said.
Cooler crossed his arms. "That didn't kill her, did it?"
Babidi glared at Cooler. "Of course not! Why would I do something like that? We need her alive, do we not? She's of absolutely no use to me dead. Buu would never attack her, so she is vital to this plan," he said. He faced his ball again just as the light was dying down. Bra's small body was coming into view again. She began falling, unconscious. Right before she hit the ground, she was caught by one of the soldiers Brolly had brought with him. "And now the fun begins."
Buu opened his eyes as Brolly and Turles were coming into view. Turles was holding Brolly up. Apparently it was hard for the larger Saiyan to fly on his own. Buu also noticed the other soldier holding the princess in a fireman's carry. The pink alien leaned up off the wall of the palace. Bra looked to be out cold.
Kakarrot was the first to meet them. "Is everything all right? Is Bra okay? What happened out there?"
Turles helped Brolly to the ground. "Enough questions, Kakarrot. Can we at least get settled before you start jabbering on with an interrogation?" He passed off Brolly to some waiting soldiers. "Get him into a tank."
"You bring Bra here. Why?" Buu asked.
"She's unconscious. We were just supposed to leave her in the middle of nowhere like that?" Turles asked, glaring at the shorter alien.
Buu shook his head. "Bra must not be here. The king is in danger."
"Yeah? Well, I think he values his daughter's life slightly more than he values his own. Get the princess to a tank as well!" Turles yelled to the soldier carrying Bra.
"Trunks, how long does it take to get to Vegeta-sei from here?" Goten asked as they prepared for take-off in their respective pods.
"I don't know. A few days maybe. I'm surprised Eighteen called us back," Trunks responded. Eighteen had declined to share any details as to why she was calling the two demi-Saiyans back except that Bulma had personally requested it. "I just wonder why Mom didn't tell me herself."
"I'm sure she's fine. I'm just happy to be off this planet. But, what are we supposed to say when King Vegeta finds out? He'll be incredibly angry." Goten started up his pod.
"Meh. He'll just have to deal," Trunks said with a smile. "Let's get going."
Vegeta was pissed. He was being banned from seeing his daughter while she was in the tanks. Kakarrot was right. He could not go near her until they were sure she was of no danger to him. Buu had made a pretty convincing argument that he was not going to allow Vegeta anywhere near the princess. The king rubbed his right jaw. There was a bruise forming fast. I can't believe that sniveling weasel hit me. He's lucky my daughter seems to be attached to him or I would've blasted his pink ass to hell and back, he thought angrily.
Instead, he spent hours pacing through his wife's labs. He guessed about five hours had passed as it was starting to grow dark outside. The light had dimmed drastically in the lab and Vegeta's stomach growled. He it was best that he seek nourishment. If push came to shove and he did end up in a fight, it would not do to be to be famished. Saiyans did not function well on an empty stomach.
Turles watched a few doctors examine the mark on Bra's head. While they had been outside, he had not noticed it. Up close, he could see that a patch of her hair had been shaved and what looked like a tattoo had taken her hair's place. He just knew nothing would come of the mark.
"Hey, Turles!" Kakarrot entered the room loudly. "Let's go get something to eat. Vegeta's already down in the kitchens," he said.
The other Saiyan nodded. "I suppose. She doesn't look like she'll wake up for a while." Turles turned and left the room with Kakarrot.
It was ten minutes later when Bra's eyes popped open.