So, I have recently added Dragon Ball/ Z to my admittedly small palate of anime/manga. So, with a new creative focus, and my love for Mary Sues and OOCness, behold! A Bulma that actually does something productive! Please flame if necessary, since I'm still learning the series and might make some glaring errors. Besides, it's fanfiction anyway; I can twist the plot however I like. Enjoy!
Saiyans were the biggest magnets for trouble in the universe. That's what Bulma thought and she would stick by it.
Bulma calmly breathed in, counted to ten, and waited to see if it had any effect on her mood. 'WHY THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS?' Nope, completely ineffective. Why would she be frustrated, you ask? Well there were plenty of reasons.
One: She was hosting the entire population of Namek until the dragon balls returned and they could be wished away to a new planet. While the Capsule Corp. HQ had plenty of room, it was still a bit of a strain to sustain a few hundred aliens with odd appetites. Reason this was a Saiyan's fault: Namek was destroyed because Frieza got carried away when fighting Goku.
Two: her on-again, off-again boyfriend Yamcha, as well as Tien, Chiaotzu, Goku and Krillin, were still dead. It was only a matter of time until they would be revived, but it didn't change the fact that Bulma had lost most of her friends. The hurt and loss, while dulled, were still present, though she never allowed herself to show it. Connection to Saiyan: three of them had been killed by Nappa and Vegeta.
Three: Vegeta. Enough said. The arrogant, immortality-obsessed, I-am-Prince-of-a-near-extinct-race-bow-to-lick-my-boots sadist was currently under her direct care, though he kept grumbling that the only reason he stayed was to learn from 'Kakkarot' how to be Super Saiyan, after which they would never see him again. Bulma had had it up to her eyeballs with the brawler almost since she had first met him, and her, admittedly ineffective, anger had only grown. However, considering he could crush her skull the way she would quash a grape, there wasn't an awful lot she could do about it. Saiyan: does she even have to repeat it?
And four: she had taken a drive out of the city in an effort to calm herself down from all the burdens she was currently under, only for her vehicle to spontaneously suffer total engine failure. Thus, here we are: with a pissed-off, lost woman in the middle of the forest about 100 miles away from West City as it started to get dark. Saiyan's fault because: Vegeta's latest rant was the catalyst to this.
"Stupid, smug sexist," Bulma muttered to herself. She was currently playing a game as she wandered aimlessly through the woods. The goal was to use three adjectives, all starting with the same letter, to describe Vegeta, whom she personally blamed for all of this. "Troublesome, tactless turncoat," she continued, wondering if it were a sign of impending insanity that she was muttering to herself with no one to listen.
Of course she had forgotten, just this one time, to bring her spare DynoCaps. Now, she was stuck walking around in probable circles until someone found her. Not for the first time, Bulma wished she could fly. Maybe all the hard work would be worth it. And it didn't have to be exercise, which Bulma avoided whenever possible. Chiaotzu was barely stronger than a toddler, but he could fly!
Unknown to Bulma, her life, her very destiny, was about to be changed. It would only be later that she would realize that crash-landing had led to her being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. But, again, she didn't know that right this moment. "Underhanded, unhelpful usurper," she ranted, as she slowly trekked over roots and mud in her pitifully wrong shoes.
Thousands of miles above her, an asteroid entered the atmosphere. The hunk of rock was slightly larger than a giant beach ball, which goes to show how far it had come. When it had first started, it had been the size of Earth's moon. But now, it was a mere shadow of itself, yet still it fulfilled its purpose. For cradled within its core was a cargo that had once helped countless races experience peaceful utopia. However, the vessel for this precious thing was on its last legs. And so it was, as it broke through to enter the planet's atmosphere, it finally fell apart.
The outside fractured, the ordinary sediment breaking away to be reduced to dust by the time it touched the ground. Only the core, now the size of a basketball, remained whole, imbued by its contents to be of stronger stuff. The lump of hollow, metallic rock fell through empty air, steadily gaining acceleration as it plummeted. It continued on its course, slowly but surely bringing it to the crossroads of fate.
Bulma was just starting to struggle with finding three negative words beginning with 'X', when the ground in front of her exploded. Dust billowed into the air as the earth immediately surrounding the crash site shook slightly. Bulma screamed in fear automatically as she fell over and instinctively crab-walked away from the potential danger.
As Bulma worked to get her heart rate under control, the dirt in the air gradually settled, revealing the core of that long-lived asteroid, which was severely pitted from the impact. Very few things could remain intact after a few thousand miles of hurling towards the ground. When Bulma was relatively stable, she looked to see what it was that had so rudely blocked her path.
When Bulma saw the now-meteorite, her scientific curiosity went into overdrive. 'Wow, an actual meteorite! If I'd been just a few more feet forward, it would have crushed my skull!'The fact she had just narrowly escaped death seemed to excite her rather that fill her with fear. 'I wonder what kind of rock or metal it is. Maybe it's some new element that's the alien equivalent of steel. I could win a prize for discovering a new resource!'
Before Bulma could start daydreaming about her acceptance speech, the core cracked right down the middle. The two halves separated, allowing the scion of a lost age to experience daylight for the first time in more years than it cared to count. Bulma cocked her head, mystified by the contents. 'That's not rock… it looks like some kind of liquid.'
Unable to help herself, Bulma inched closer for a better look. As she got closer, more and more things became clearer about the strange substance. It was glowing a gentle, greenish white light not unlike bioluminescence. It wasn't so much a liquid as a jelly, which seemed to have congealed into separate layers. If Bulma didn't know any better, she would say it was some kind of deep-sea jellyfish. But that was ridiculous.
When she was just a few feet away, Bulma still couldn't shake off the thought. 'There's no way it's a living creature. For the love of Einstein, it's spent who knows how long in the middle of a space-rock!' Common sense dictated she should leave it alone and resume trying to find civilization. However, Bulma was tired, slightly sweaty, and was still feeling the aftereffects of an adrenaline rush. Common sense might as well have fossilized for all the attention she was going to pay it.
Bulma slowly reached out a finger to touch the white-whatever, like a child seeing a flame for the first time. It's amazing how similar the two scenarios are. Just before Bulma touched the thing, she could have sworn some of the jelly had reached up to meet her finger. Before she could puzzle out this impossibility, her finger made contact and life as she knew it ended.
As Bulma passed out unconscious, her finger still touching the jelly, the creature weakly thought to itself 'After so long… the Anointed have arisen once more.'
Bulma awoke with a start. Getting to her feet, she looked around, wondering what on earth had just happened. True darkness had fallen over the world, but for some odd reason she could still see reasonably well. It was odd; Bulma had always flailed in the dark, but now instead of black she saw purple, and every other color that should have been hidden in shadow was now simply altered to a new shade. Bulma cocked her head. 'Okay… what's with the night vision?'
As you can imagine, it was a terrible shock to Bulma when someone actually answered back. 'That would be my fault. Sorry if I'm being forward, but I wanted to bring my new accommodations up to my usual standards.' Bulma sucked so much air in for a scream, she actually choked on it. Even as she started to asphyxiate, Bulma swung her head around to look for who the hell had spoken to her. Any normal person would have needed to worry about whiplash; of course, Bulma was no longer ordinary…
When Bulma failed to find any one in the forest around her, she settled for yelling; it had always worked before. "Who are you, what are you, and how the hell did you hear my thoughts?" Most disconcertingly, Bulma heard a 'hmm' sound directly in her ear. She turned around on her heel, but apart from upset balance, she found nothing.
'Well, I suppose you have a right to know that,' the voice told her, once again freaking her out by coming from seemingly nowhere. 'As to who I am, I much prefer the name Urania. It has a pleasant ring and irony. As to what I am… the closest equivalent within your animal kingdom would by the siphonophore colony found within the genus Physalia, though I am infinitely more complex and fundamentally different in most aspects. As to how I am cognizant of your thoughts that would be because I have linked up my main sensorium directly to your central nervous system.'
Even alone and scared in the woods, Bulma was still the daughter of a scientist with a genius-IQ. She automatically dissected the true meaning out of what… Urania had said. Urania was one of the seven muses, specifically the one meant to inspire astrologists. She, for it was undoubtedly a female's voice, had said 'closest equivalent', implying that she wasn't from Earth. Siphonophores were incredibly specialized single-cell organisms that needed to group together to survive. The most common example was the infamous Portuguese Man o' War, which, contrary to popular belief, was not technically a jellyfish. And finally, she had said she had her major sensorium, or brain, hooked up to her brain.
Bulma took a deep breath. Let it out. Took in another. "HOLYSHITONANALTERTHERE'SAFUCKINGSPACEMARINEPREDATORINSIDEMYHEADSOMEONEPLEASEHELPWHATTHEFUCKISGOINGONHELP!" Roughly translated from Panicked Hysteria, this means "Holy shit on an alter! There is a fucking space marine predator inside my head! Please someone help! What the fuck is going on? Help!" The decibel level at which this was delivered would have proven fatal for most glass, fragile rock, and any living creature with a sense of hearing, were any around.
Bulma would have been appalled at this show of profanity had anyone else done it. As it was, she had to restrain herself from continuing on. She settled for screaming at the top of her not-inconsiderable lungs. When her air supply finally gave out, Urania finally spoke up. 'I can understand that this may be a bit of a shock. If it's any consolation, I've seen hosts try to bash their heads in when they heard the news.'
Bulma, oh so slowly, regained her temporarily lost sanity. That's not to say she was okay, just that she wouldn't overreact quite so much. Taking a deep breath, Bulma steadied herself and looked at the meteorite. The jelly was gone, leaving nothing but a crumbling lump of metallic rock. She closed her eyes and counted to ten, waiting for her pulsing emotions to settle down. Once she felt reasonably normal, she asked aloud "Where are you from and what will you do to me?" Bulma reasoned that, assuming this wasn't all some incredibly vivid coma dream, and short of invasive brain surgery, there was no way to get rid of… whatever had taken residence in her head, and she might as well get as much information as possible so she could start to accept it as fast as possible. Her fraying mental stability depended on it.
Urania reveled in the chance to talk to another creature once more. A few centuries hovering around in space gets really lonely after awhile. 'Since I can tell you want much more than that, I'll just give you the full story. My kind, which would be named Physalia Astrum if we were studied by your scientists, evolved on a small, life-sustaining moon that was right on the border between the Southern and Eastern Quadrant of this galaxy… it might be a good idea for you to sit down. Your muscle strength seems a tad shaky.'
Bulma, cutting off conscious thought so as to better prevent system overload, sat down and concerned herself with getting comfortable as her new guest continued. 'By some twist of evolution, my kind was made to be symbiotic. We sustain ourselves directly on thermal energy, which as you can imagine is in short supply in most parts of the ocean, short of volcanic vents, though we can live indefinitely as long as we have a food source. Therefore, we had to bond with a host to survive. What no one of any species predicted was the amazing result.
'Anyone bonded with a Physalia Astrum, reverently called the Anointed once word spread, was made into a kind of super-insert-species-name-here. I am integrated into every single system in your body, and as such can modify, improve, and basically maximize any function to optimal efficiency. Extended lifespan, vastly superior strength and speed, as well as a semi-immortal companion with eidetic memory. It is, to put in the vernacular, a sweet deal: the host is elevated to the status of a demi-god, and we get a few hundred megajoules whenever we're peckish.
'The Anointed brought an era of peace, prosperity, and advancement for the entire system our moon was in. The oldest of my kind, when they weren't in a host, were treated as sacred for their centuries of experience and a few lifetimes' worth of ingenuity. It seemed like a golden age…' Bulma felt a sense of loss and remorse so profound it brought tears to her eyes, even though the emotions were not her own. 'But it was not to last.
'Our entire system was totaled to build the headquarters of the World Trade Organization, led by that bastard Frieza. I managed to hide myself in that asteroid, though it was considerably bigger at the start. To my knowledge, I am the last living member of my species.' Bulma, against her better judgment, felt some sympathy for Urania. Her cynical side said it could all be a bald-faced lie, but Bulma couldn't believe that anyone could fake that level of sorrow.
Once Urania had gathered herself, she addressed Bulma directly. 'I apologize if I seem like some alien invader that took over your body, but I had no other choice. Whether you like it or not, the entire legacy of the Anointed, the Physalia Astrum, and the countless wonders of a lost utopia now rest on your shoulders. I understand if you hate me, but I simply could not risk everything my kind has ever worked for destroyed because you wouldn't give informed consent to let me into your body.'
Bulma closed her eyes. 'The facts. No morals or emotions, just list the facts.' Bulma's list, when completed, seemed too good to be true. 'Okay, so I have a veritable supercomputer that can make me as strong as any of the guys living in my head. The only thing it will cost me is my excess body heat. I am capable of being the mother of a golden age identical to the first that was destroyed by Frieza.'
Bulma was sorely tempted. She could bluster about their injuries, claim that she was just fine with being just a friend from the sidelines, but Bulma had always carried a small yet deep-seated jealousy of the Z-fighters. She hated the fact that when the planet's fate hung in the balance, she could do little more than cheer the real fighters on, which was almost as dangerous. Bulma still could not look at Goku and see anything other than the clueless, naïve idiot that had once failed to see the difference between boys and girls. The idea of the world being in his hands constantly was more than a tad troubling.
And yet… Bulma wasn't sure if she could take that plunge. If she worked with Urania, than the hopes and dreams of an entire civilization lost to the void would be on her. She would be obligated to fight with the Z-fighters to protect the earth. Bulma had a very human fear of death; the idea of actively putting it on the line provoked such an intense, bone-deep fear that it almost made her collapse.
'… Give me a few days. I'll host you, but I won't guarantee I'll do anything with you. This is too big a decision to make rashly.' If Urania had any complaints, she didn't voice them. Taking a breath, Bulma brought herself to her feet. It was at that point she remembered that she was still lost in the forest. She would have thrown a fit, if hadn't turned her gaze skyward.
Bulma gasped. The night sky, once static if beautiful, was now a living network of blazing trails. Bulma's eyes traced the night-invisible air currents that made up the air she breathed, saw the ion trails of electromagnetic communications like brushes of translucent light, and the unmistakable gashes of a jet's path, shown by the combusted gases among the Eden atmosphere around them. Where once she was hopelessly lost, she now had a dozen different ways of finding her way back to West City. Just by looking at the sky.
Stunned mute by the visual symphony only she could see, Bulma oriented herself towards her home. Urania, as if in lofty smugness, kept silent, letting Bulma see the pros of being her host for herself.
As Bulma moved, she felt as if a thick blanket of wool that had covered her entire being her whole life had been removed. Every single iota had been enhanced tenfold. She found herself humming to the beat of her heart, a deep echo in her ears, while at the same time admiring the music of a songbird a few hundred meters to her right. She breathed through her nose, and through scent alone, could tell what animals lived in the area, where they were, and what they had eaten within the past few hours. Her eyes unconsciously traced the best route through the bramble that would cripple a reckless hiker, and she walked along it like it was a stroll in the park.
Another thing: Bulma felt like an Olympic athlete. She'd set a brisk pace and had walked it for half an hour. She should have felt tired, but if anything she felt like she was just warming up. As Bulma neared the edge of the forest, she couldn't resist. She broke out into a sprint, pushing her legs to go as fast as they could for as long as they could. The old Bulma would have made maybe half a kilometer before collapsing from respiratory shock.
Bulma ran five klicks, and barely felt the strain. Her feet seemed to fly across the ground, carrying her at a pace that would have shocked her if she'd seen anyone else do it. A professional sprinter could have managed it… for about five seconds across a flat surface, while doped to the gills on steroids. Bulma broke records as she ran towards West City, and she could tell she was as she did.
Bulma was convinced: she had died in that crash. She had died and someone made a clerical error and she was transported to an alternate dimension instead of heaven. A dimension where she was invincible. Bulma felt a primal, wild joy break free from depths she didn't know existed as she pushed her body to its now-unearthly limits. A blind man in the countryside would have heard the laughter of one lost in unadulterated life.
Faster than any human could possibly have gone, Bulma reached the limits of West City. Bulma took a moment to slow down and catch her breath, but it was steady breaths, not the desperate sucking for oxygen she would have done just a few hours before. 'If this is just a taste of what we can do, THAN I SAY HELL YES!' Bulma yelled in her thoughts, letting Urania know how high on endorphins she currently was. Were a thought bubble to form over Bulma's head, it would have had an amused smirk from the new entity currently in residence.
Bulma soothed her hair and brushed away the incredibly small amount of sweat she had produced. While she would have been perfectly content to run straight home, perhaps after a victory lap or two around the city, her logical side still had some voting stock in her cognitive functions. It informed her that a wilderness-dirty girl running madly through the streets had 'mental escapee' written all over it. Much more inconspicuous to take a cab.
Reigning in her giddiness somewhat, Bulma hailed a cab expertly. She was a city girl, born and bred, and by thunder she could flag like a pro. Her driver was an oddity in her experience in that he actually kept his mouth shut. Most West City cabbies, perhaps stereotypically, came from poorer parts of town, and were ready to rant about the hardships of their lives at the slightest twitch of a passenger. This one just asked for the address and the tab when they finally, nighttime urban traffic being what it is, pulled into the Capsule Corp mansion 87 minutes later.
Bulma walked up the path to the door, carefully arranging her features in a mask of normalcy. Knowing her family, they'd freak out and ask questions later if she told them about Urania. Better for life in general if she just pretended to take an extended stroll.
When Bulma opened the door, she witnessed a scene of domestic chaos that would have won a sitcom awards for that one scene alone. Bulma's mom, the unnamed Mrs. Briefs, was balancing incredible piles of food and delivering them in a ballet of housewife-ness to the consistently over-awed Namekians, whom never got used to the… effervescent attitude of their hostess. Meanwhile, her father Dr. Briefs was yelling into the telephone. As Bulma walked up to her dad, she had trouble deciding whether to laugh or roll her eyes as she heard what he was saying.
"I don't care if it's been less than 24 hours! My little girl is missing! I want every unit scouring the city for her! She's about 5'4'', has blue eyes, turquoise hair, and pale skin. She was wearing a leather purse, a red shirt, and…" The good Doctor turned to Bulma and said into the phone "… and a white skirt. You've got to find her!" Dr. Briefs paused, blinked, and turned to face the exasperated face of his daughter. "Um, forget everything I said. It appears she's right behind me." Rather belatedly, Dr. Briefs hung up the phone.
Bulma sighed. "Let me guess. When I wouldn't answer my phone after dark, you immediately panicked and thought I was kidnapped or something." Dr. Briefs started to pet the kitten he always had near, a nervous habit for as long as Bulma could remember. Bulma sighed. Her father, for all his absentmindedness, was insanely devoted to his wife and daughter. It was endearing, in some cases. Right now wasn't one of them.
Bulma hugged her father, showing him she didn't mind. "Sorry for worrying you. I just wanted to be alone. Now, let me go take a shower before Mom sees me." That got him to laugh. While Dr. Briefs was merely prone to overreacting, Mrs. Briefs always scolded Bulma if she was anything less than the poster child for 50's womanhood. Sulking for hours away from home would have earned her a lecture that would lose all its gravity due to it being delivered in five minutes as her mother juggled three different things as she did it.
Bulma covertly made her way to the stairs. With her new hearing, she could hear the grunts and groans of overworked machinery as the GR started to overheat. Bulma rolled her eyes: after the day she'd had, Vegeta was the last thing on her mind. She just wanted to take a nice long bath, maybe grab a snack, and fall asleep for a good twelve hours. Which she did, with aplomb.
Over the next week, Bulma gradually adapted to the life of a hidden Anointed. Every day, she learned some new skill or trait, which she was then forced to hide or explain away if anyone noticed. She officially had the best eyes that weren't mechanical on the planet. She could see tiny details and spectrums that previously she couldn't even imagine. She had strength to match her speed and endurance, demonstrated by the refrigerator she had accidentally lifted above her head.
She was also beginning to think a different way. Details began to knit themselves together faster, and in different ways. She began to feel like Sherlock Holmes as her deductive reasoning seemed to skyrocket due to how many more facts she was able to pick up. Bulma was pleasantly shocked when she sat down to read an engineering manual for a refresher and wound up finishing the whole thing within three hours.
On the morning of the eighth day, Urania spoke up for the first time since that fateful first night. 'Okay, you've had a week-long trial. Are you willing to start working together?'
Bulma almost laughed. 'Do you really need to ask?' asked our heroine, whom was currently jogging around the property. Since her sudden miraculous increase in fitness, Bulma had begun to do light workouts for the heck of it, just to get the endorphins.
If it weren't for the fact she was an amorphous mass of organisms, Bulma could have sworn Urania was smiling. 'In that case, STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND GET SERIOUS!' Bulma was so shocked, she literally fell to the ground in a heap. As she attempted to gather herself, Urania went off on an obviously-preprepared lecture. 'As Anointed, it is your duty to protect and better this planet. That means training so you can take down any threat like Frieza, and working on tech to help your society! This isn't some all-expense paid trip to Paradise.'
Bulma felt mildly insulted at the various insinuations, but was forced to concede that Urania had a point. She thought about it for a moment, before she struck upon one of those solid-gold thoughts that out to be given prizes. 'I've got just the thing in mind…' As Bulma outlined her idea, Urania felt a familiar surge of joy. This was why she didn't just commit suicide in that rock: to witness the incredible ingenuity of the sentient races.
With Urania's full approval, Bulma set about the process that would lead to her name going down in history. Changing into fresh clothes, Bulma walked right into her father's lab, went up to his face, and calmly said "I want my own building."
Dr. Briefs raised an eyebrow. "Why ever so, dear? We have more than enough room even with the Namekians. Does Vegeta make you uncomfortable or something?" In the Dr's view, Vegeta was merely undergoing an extended case of adolescent cockiness, which would eventually be beaten out of him. Until then, his rants about immortality and superiority were nothing more than tantrums to the father of a teenage daughter.
Bulma shook her head. "I don't really care about Mr. Attitude; he's all hot air." That, of course, wasn't true, but Bulma liked to think so. "It's more that I've begun to feel limited. I'd like my own place to customize how I want. I'm just going to throw an empty one-story house in the lawn; I just came to tell you so you wouldn't be surprised about where your supplies are going."
Dr. Brief's thought about it, but not for long. Bulma was thirty, but she had spent all of her life under his roof. Some independence would do her good. "Go ahead, dear. Use whatever you want. Just promise that you don't lock yourself in; your mother and I still want to see you on a regular basis." Bulma smiled, and gave her dad a small hug.
"Thanks, dad," she said, before she left the house. Walking out of the mansion, Bulma looked for a decent spot on the expansive lawn. The house would really be more of a glorified bedroom, but Bulma would be able to do whatever she wanted inside, and her master plan required some space. Settling on a spot near the back corner of the property, Bulma tossed the DynoCap, and watched as the small, round building poofed into being.
Rolling up her sleeves, Bulma set about the task of tearing apart the standard kitchen-bathroom-bedroom set-up to get to the empty space. Once she had tossed everything into a pile outside the door, Bulma was surprised by how much space was left. Satisfied that she now had her template, Bulma pulled out the small to-do list she always kept and her lucky pen.
The next hour was spent as Bulma puzzled out exactly what she needed and how much of it to transform the barren one-room house into the lab from which she would produce groundbreaking technological advances. She'd always kept a few of her more 'futuristic' ideas at the back of her head, but with Urania's brains and experience, they were now possible.
As Bulma finished her calculations on how much fiber-optic cable she would need, Urania spoke up. 'Bulma, allow me to just say that you are easily the most innovative mind I've ever come in contact with.' Bulma was shocked by the sudden praise, but felt her mouth turn up into a smile. 'However, your calculations on that mobius coil are way off..'
Bulma growled, and from then on she and Urania were locked in a battle of smarts. Bulma had the idea in her head, but Urania kept on bringing up tiny suggestions and facts that forced her to rethink the dimensions or else be labeled a contrary, stubborn child. The two continually argued over what was needed to make Bulma's vision become reality. Bulma was amazed later on at how advanced and incredible the modifications to the original design the two came up with were. In the present, however, she fought like a starving dog holding onto a bone.
Another two hours later, around lunchtime, the two finally agreed on what was needed for The Lab, as it was going to be officially sanctioned. Bulma, with a headache and short temper, set about making a couple of sandwiches before making her supply run. Unfortunately, in more ways than she knew at the time, Vegeta came in just as she was finishing.
Bulma had been avoiding the Saiyan since she met Urania, and this was the first time she got to see him with her new eyes. Wearing the exact same armor he had worn under Frieza's reign, being tight blue spandex with white boots, gloves, and an odd chest piece, the prince was a feast of information to the newly-perceptive Bulma.
From the tension in his shoulders and the furrow in his brow, she could tell he was angry or at least agitated at something. From the strong smell of sweat, she could tell he had spent the whole morning in the GR. From the bags under his eyes and the limpness of his tail, she learned he had trouble sleeping. And from the slight grumble of his intestinal track and the increased saliva production she could see as he opened his mouth, she figured out he was hungry.
With his customary glare, he growled "Woman,", whether in a greeting or insult Bulma could not tell, and began his usual method of preparing food. That is, throwing whatever his hands touched on a plate and forcing it down his throat. Before, Bulma had seen it as bad taste.
Now, she saw tiny cues that put a whole new light on things. The jerkiness of his movements implied phantom fear or anxiety. The distant look in his eyes telegraphed that the movement was mostly reflexive. The slight hunch of his shoulders, like a crouching predator, showed how he was prepared to stop anyone from so much as touching his food.
Adding these observations to her general schema about his life, Bulma came to an unsettling conclusion. Frieza was not above using starvation as motivation. Vegeta ate the way he did because over the years he had learned to eat whatever food he got before someone else took it. Bulma felt a sour taste creep over her tongue as her bile rose. The idea of anyone, even moody Vegeta, being starved for the amusement of a tyrant to the point they acted like an alley dog was too much.
"You know," Bulma ventured, aware that this was her first time actually offering something to Vegeta instead of just scolding him before he glared at her a second time. "If you'd like to eat something with actual taste, I could make you something."
If nothing else, Vegeta seemed surprised. That is, until his mask of arrogance slipped back into place. "As if, woman. I'm not going to let you poison me out of some misguided, human sense of charity." That riled Bulma. Normally, this was where she started to retort until he actually paid attention to her, which was where she wilted when she remembered he could kill her in annoyance. However, this Bulma was reasonably sure she could avoid death.
Taking the plunge, Bulma growled "Look, Vegeta. I am not Frieza. I am not going to dangle what you want in front of you to try and get a hold on you. I'm just trying to do something nice for someone who, for the time being, is living in my house. Excuse me for actually caring for your well-being, since you obviously can't feed yourself."
Vegeta jerked as if stung, and his features began to mold into anger as Bulma began to bring up bad memories. "You have no business telling me what I can and cannot do, woman! Don't forget that I could send this whole place up in smoke if you annoy me!"
Bulma stared unflinchingly into the potential face of her death. "That's true. However, you won't. I'm Goku's friend, and in some weird, warrior-to-warrior way, you respect Goku for killing Frieza. Plus, he's the only one who can tell you the secret to becoming a Super Saiyan. You kill me, you'll have spat on your honor and any chance in achieving the perfection you're obsessed with."
This time Vegeta just stared at her, his eyes practically broadcasting his surprise and disbelief. Bulma decided that now would be the time to leave; she didn't want to push the envelope too much. "Whatever, eat whatever you want. Good bye." With that, Bulma turned on her heel and walked out of the kitchen. She listened for the tale-tell swish of him charging after her, but he seemed to still be in shock. She managed to leave the house in one piece at least.
Bulma sighed. 'I am convinced that your power boost has made me suicidal."
Urania chuckled. 'Maybe, but that took guts right there. Funny, your memories didn't mention how attractive he was.'
Bulma froze. 'Oh. Hell. No. Don't tell me that you actually think that arrogant misogynist brute is cute. I'll kill myself right here and now rather than live with a Vegeta fangirl in my head.'
Urania transmitted the impression of rolling eyes through their link. 'Listen, the whole future of my race depends on any children you have, as they would also carry my offspring. As such, I need the best possible blend of genes in order to ensure that the Physalia Astrum race isn't rendered extinct due to a genetic defect crippling the next generation. I need your babies to be strong and healthy. A virile Saiyan of the Royal Bloodline is about as perfect as I'm likely to find in any of your potential suitors. Thus, my admittedly weak attempt to rouse your interest.'
Bulma blinked. 'That actually makes sense… in a Darwinist kind of way.' Shaking her head, Bulma began her trek to the business sector to buy the supplies for The Lab. 'Still, it will be a cold day in Hell when I even think about hooking up with Vegeta.' Bulma was unaware Hell actually went through seasonal cycles and thus indeed had a winter. Urania, privy to this, merely smirked and let Bulma have her delusions.
Five hours later, the general tranquility of the mansion was broken by the incessant beeping of a delivery truck backing up. Near-foaming with rage and a few million Zennie poorer, Bulma had to restrain herself from throttling the delivery team. The laborers were one and all the kind of men who looked at a woman and only saw boobs. If it weren't for the fact that her parents would invariably catch her if she carried the load herself, she would have gladly thrown the men as far as she could. And with her new abilities, that would be quite a throw.
Alas, she had to deal with their stares and restrain herself. Bulma counted the seconds as the team of five lifted the numerous crates of mechanical supplies from the truck she'd rented to the door of The Lab. When one of them discreetly tried to feel her bum, she could not stop herself from casually kicking him in the groin. She was given a wide berth after that.
Once she had handed the leader the check, Bulma turned away and tried to order her thoughts. The days were getting longer, but Bulma knew she wouldn't even make a dent in the building process. Deciding that she could postpone Extreme Makeover: Bulma Addition until tomorrow, Bulma went inside the mansion to eat dinner and get some sleep.
Over the next two weeks, anyone who turned their ear would have heard the sounds of heavy renovation coming from Bulma's new abode. A constant symphony of drills, hammered nails, and soldering metal sounded out as Bulma painstakingly transformed the tiny house into a haven of technological invention and scientific brainstorming.
Mrs. Briefs, for one, was extremely worried. "It's not natural, I tell you hubby! From the time I wake up to when I go to bed, I hear her making that unholy racket! What happened to our little girl? She didn't like carrying her clothes hamper a month ago, and now she's doing hard labor for some god-forsaken reason she won't tell us! Please make her see sense!"
Dr. Briefs nodded vaguely, but truly he was rooting Bulma on. It was incredibly to watch her at work, and Bulma's father was full of pride for his daughter whom, apparently, had decided to follow in his footsteps.
Vegeta had started to avoid Bulma. She had rattled him, and he was not a man who took rattling well. She had totally shattered his perception of her with that comment in the kitchen. Vegeta's entire life had been one long string of repeating missions that were all basically the same thing. Something new, some unique anomaly, totally threw him off. So, he decided to avoid the problem rather than face it and have his core beliefs challenged.
A full month after Urania had landed, late in the morning, Bulma wiped the grease from her forehead and smiled. "At last! Success!" Throwing her hands in the air, Bulma celebrated her accomplishment. The Lab was functional and ready for business! A random Namekian taking a stroll watched perplexed as the woman began to do cartwheels in a dirty jumpsuit like the kind worn by janitors and mechanics. Deciding it was none of his business, the green-skinned guest turned the other way and continued his stroll.
Recovering from her giddiness, Bulma took a deep breath and walked up to the door. Time for a field test. "Briefs, Bulma. Open." The whisper-microphone imbedded in the door took in her voice, digitally rendered the sound waves, recognized them from its database, and fulfilled its programming parameters by triggering the 'swoosh' door. Grinning at the flawless execution, Bulma walked through the door and into darkness.
"Lights," said Bulma, and there was light. The entire ceiling was made of a translucent polymer that allowed the high-watt fluorescent panels beneath to shine down on the entire room while muting the glare and hum. The room was now white and well-lit. Bulma surveyed her Lab with pride. Apart from a small cot and covered toilet and shower, the entire space was dedicated to being the dream home of any hermit genius.
A small assembly line was built into the wall, prepared to produce any invention whose schematics would be sent to it. A comfortable swivel chair sat before a bank of computer screens that occupied a full quarter of the space. An island existed in the middle of the room, which was in fact a holographic display that would lay out her programs in three dimensions. Another holographic projector hung from the ceiling, which would be able to visually transform the Lab at her whim.
"Greetings, Ms. Bulma. The Lab is now fully functional. I will prepare to run diagnostics." The disembodied voice was projected via speakers hidden throughout the room. Bulma grinned. "Please do, Mai." MAI was, in Bulma's opinion, her most ingenious idea. The Metacognizant Artificial Intelligence was a self-aware, multi-terabyte program that would act as Bulma's personal assistant. She would regulate the Lab, record any findings, and generally be company other than the interstellar jelly in her head. (Disclaimer: Don't own Iron Man).
Bulma considered changing, but she was reluctant to just up and leave without doing something. Fishing around in her pocket, Bulma brought out her prize. It was a Scouter, like the one worn by Vegeta while he still worked for Frieza. She'd nabbed it from his room as he was mutilating the GR. Laying it down on the island, Bulma set about her first experiment. "Mai, please scan and download this device. Index as 'Scouter, 1.0'"
"Yes, Ms. Bulma," came the mechanical reply. Without further ado, the various technologies within the worktable were put to the test. First, a single glowing line of blue went across the table. As it touched the Scouter, it flowed over it like a second skin. When that was over, a 3-D digital representation of the Scouter could be found floating over the table and in the growing file in the central database.
Next, a combination of x-ray, composite, and thermal imaging penetrated the device, allowing the computer to see what was in the device, how it was put together, and what function the individual pieces served. With that done, the computer proceeded to individually label each piece based on this newest information. The hologram of the device was slowly taken apart, with each individual piece floating in space with tiny, but perfectly legible writing underneath labeling it. Finally, the computer composed a quick summary of the device, it's workings, and how it was made.
The entire process took about 3 seconds.
Bulma smiled, pleased with how efficient the operation had gone. However, she was far from done. Studying the glowing shapes of light that marked the components of the device, Bulma tapped one tiny shape with her finger. The piece expanded until it was the size of Bulma's head, the details now much clearer. Bulma skimmed the preliminary identification of the device. "Hmm, interesting. The power source is a solar battery. About the size of a dime, too. As long as this thing got an hour of sunlight, it would be at full charge. Considering how all Frieza's warriors never took them off, that wouldn't be a problem."
Clenching her fist, the computer registered her intention and reduced the tiny miracle of energy to its original size. Bulma proceeded to scrutinize each piece, allowing every iota of detail to be absorbed by her and Urania. An hour later, Bulma could have given a lecture on Scouters. Not that she would. The true purpose of the scrutiny was to spark some neurons in order to find out any possible modifications or upgrades.
'I must say, for being a destructive sadistic tyrant, Frieza sure had good taste in scientists. It's an interesting piece. Not more advanced than what the Anointed made, but definitely different than anything they would have made.' Urania remarked. Bulma nodded: the device itself wasn't that much of a marvel, but its wiring and sensors were peculiar.
'Fascinating. It doesn't measure a person's ki level directly, rather the way it interacts with the surroundings. The more intense the reaction, the higher the level. It also explains how it can't pick up masked signatures, since there's no reaction to examine. Inefficient, but by no means crude.' Bulma wiggled her fingers, brought her hands together, than opened them as if she were holding a balloon. In order, the hologram of the Scouter returned to default, condensed back into a single device, and then finally increased in size until it took up all the space.
"Mai, please switch the circuit matrix from ZY-41 configuration to DP-12. Replace the polymer in the screen with some of that new circuited crystal that just came out. Add a microphone, two-way radio, and telescopic chip to the central design. Also, implant a micro-copy of your core programming into the memory; I want this thing to be smart enough to read a book. Give me a render while you're at it."
"A tad ambitious, are we Ms. Bulma? No one expects you to make breakthroughs on a daily basis." Bulma grinned. That was the beauty of MAI. Since it was constantly learning, it would also pick up vernacular and sarcasm. Within a year, it would be impossible to tell MAI apart from a real person, except for the part that she was nothing but a voice. Then again… 'Control yourself Bulma. That's a project for another day,' the scientist scolded herself.
Bulma watched as the hologram of the original Scouter morphed into a sleeker, more adaptable piece of machinery. The addition of a telescope would allow for reconnaissance, while the radio and microphone would double to make it a communications device. Combined with the ability to directly calculate destructive ability, altered from the original by the new circuitry, Bulma would have the military breaking down her door for the patents.
When Bulma found the new model to her satisfaction, she decided to call it a day. "Mai, please produce two Scouters using the new specifications. Index the new model as 'Scouter, 2.0'. Keep the original in storage. Also, I want an ongoing search of the market for any new materials or designs that would prove better than the current tech." With a polite "Yes, Ms. Bulma," MAI got right on it. The assembly line started to warm up, at the same time as mechanical arms emerged from the walls, picked up the Scouter from the worktable, and stored it within the vaults Bulma built into the walls.
Bulma rolled her shoulders as she exited the Lab. She was still sore after two straight weeks of heavy labor. Urania had given her all of the power of a demi-god, but not the skill, technique, or mental toughness. It was only a mild discomfort, but it still rubbed against Bulma the wrong way. She was just considering what she would have for a late lunch when Piccolo walked up to her.
The green Z-fighter hadn't spent much time around the mansion, despite the fact that his people where there. From what Bulma could tell, Piccolo didn't fully see himself as a Namekian. His 'family' of sorts was limited to Gohan, whom he saw as the little brother he never had. Everyone else he treated with either bored disinterest or veiled hostility. Therefore, it was a great shock to Bulma when the alien walked right up to her.
"The Namek Dragon Balls are back. Elder Moori wants everyone together when we make the wishes." Piccolo, his message delivered, turned on his heel back towards where he came from. Behind him, Bulma was slapping herself in the head. 'Idiot! It's been 130 days already! How could I forget something like that?'
'You were busy laying the foundation of your planet's new technology age?' Urania suggested, not unkindly. The millennia-old being was aware that there were some things that weren't joked about: the resurrection of friends fell in that category.
Bulma rushed into the mansion, and was out less than five minutes later in clean clothes. She all but ran towards the group on the lawn, who watched her speed with mixed surprise and confusion. Gohan was there, comforting Chi-Chi, who looked to be on the verge of tears. Vegeta and Piccolo hung aloof in the background, while Dende and his grandfather gathered around the seven basketball-sized Dragon Balls.
When Bulma reached them six seconds later, her breath not even heavy, even Chi-Chi managed to stare. Bulma huffed in response; she'd forgotten to tone it down. "What are you waiting for? Bring our friends back already!" With that usual explosion of semi-selfish noise, everyone was convinced that her speed was a fluke.
Elder Moori shook his head. "No need to shout, my dear. Porunga will have your friends back in short order." Pulling up his sleeves, the chubby Namekian cleared his throat before throwing his hands above his head. Bulma, fluent in Namekian, understood his next words perfectly. "Porunga! Arise and grant our wishes!"
Everyone stopped to pay attention: the summoning of a dragon always had that effect. Within moments, the sky blackened with clouds as the Dragon Balls began to glow brightly with a timeless energy. The glow intensified until the seven spheres were a solid mass of light. Lightning began to fall like rain through the sky. Finally, in a blinding flash, a bolt struck the Dragon Balls. When everyone cleared their eyes, the lizard-like Porunga loomed over them.
"MAKE YOUR WISHES SO THAT I MAY LEAVE." Every syllable hummed with a power that required no translation. Chi-Chi and Dende seemed a tad intimidated, but everyone else was too calm to let it phase them. Gohan seemed surprised that Bulma was calm, but decided not to mention it. Mother was still a little high-strung.
Moori turned to them. "Well, who would you like back first?" Gohan was needed to physically restrain his mother as she almost lunged at the elder. "WE'RE BRINGING BACK MY GOKU FIRST, OF COURSE!" No one there, not even Vegeta, had the guts to deny her. Recovering slightly, Moori turned back to Porunga and yelled in Namekian "Porunga, we wish for the warrior known as Son Goku to be returned to life!"
Porunga's face was impassive. "THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE. SON GOKU IS NOT DEAD, SO I CANNOT BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE. I CANNOT BRING HIM BACK EITHER, AS HE DOES NOT WANT TO. CHOOSE ANOTHER WISH." The world seemed to freeze. Bulma processed the information, her enhanced mind already trying to find the answer. Was Goku hiding in shame? Was he taking on Frieza's empire single-handedly and didn't want them to worry? Some other reason?
Chi-Chi seemed to implode in on herself at the news. "He doesn't… want to come back?" Gohan caught his mother as she collapsed to the ground, the silent tears of the heartbroken already falling from her face. Goku's son seemed just as devastated as his mother, but he held it in better. Piccolo didn't outwardly show it, but Bulma detected a hint of remorse in his usually apathetic eyes.
Vegeta, rather tactlessly, chose that moment to speak. "If Kakkarot isn't coming, than I have no reason to be here." With that, the prince turned on his heel and walked back into the mansion. Bulma's eyes attempted to punch titanium nails into his skull as he did. How could he be so thoughtless? Was he utterly emotionless?
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Bulma directed Moori, who seemed sorry for their sorrow. "Bring Krillin and Yamcha back. It'll be three wishes, since Krillin's spirit isn't on this planet." Nodding, the elder, rather subdued, gave the three wishes to Porunga. In short order, Krillin and Yamcha were brought back to the land of the living.
"YOUR WISHES HAVE BEEN GRANTED!" With that thundering proclamation, Porunga dissolved into light. The seven Dragon Balls rose up into the air, before scattering to the four winds. Bulma watched them go. '130 more days. Then we can bring back Tien and Chiaotzu, and send the Namekians to a new home.'
Bulma turned back to the newly-resurrected. Krillin was already over it, having come back once before, and was currently trying to comfort the Son family. Yamcha, on the other hand, was looking around with a bit of a lost expression. Bulma expected some kind of emotional surge when she saw the user of the Wolf-fang fist. But no, she felt nothing more than she felt for Krillin. 'Is this my natural personality, or are you suppressing any feelings I have for anyone besides Vegeta?'
'Both, in a way. I'm not actively trying to kill your interest; it's more that your body is more… shall we say aware of its options. Your lizard brain, as it were, has decided that Yamcha is a less worthy mate than Vegeta, and so is canceling out any lust or physical attraction you have for him. Though I suppose it is indirectly my fault, since your instincts wouldn't have nearly as much control if I wasn't upgrading everything.'
Bulma sighed. 'Ah well, guess that this is a sign that we weren't meant to be, if lust was the glue. Still, that doesn't mean that I choose Vegeta!' Urania decided to let her host delude herself. She would realize sooner or later.
Yamcha walked up to her. "Hey, Bulma! It's great to see you again." The young man tried to kiss her, but was denied as he met a cheek. Bulma, now that she thought about, could literally feel her lack of attraction towards the warrior. Her body kept throwing up images and sensations of old, impotent things. Bulma felt oddly affronted that her own body was taking control of her relationship, but there wasn't much she could do about it. More oddly, she couldn't tell if she actually minded or not.
At his confused expression, she felt she owed him some explanation. Not the truth, of course, but an explanation nonetheless. "It's nice to see you, Yamcha. But I've done some thinking while you were… gone. I asked myself why I didn't miss you so much, and came up with the fact that I'm not in love with you. I love you as a friend, but that's it. Sorry for putting this on you not ten minutes after you've stopped being dead, but I need you to understand."
Yamcha scratched his head. "Me neither, I guess. If I was, I should be crying right now. I just feel a little bittersweet." He attempted a carefree grin, but something in the eyes made Bulma suspect that she'd hurt him more than he let on. "Well, I'll get over it. See you later, Bulma." With that, the secretly heartbroken man flew away towards his apartment.
Bulma sighed. 'That could have gone better.' Still, life wasn't perfect. The only people who don't hurt are the dead, and even that wasn't true in most cases. The trick is not to ignore or avoid pain, but to work with it to reach something better.
The next day, Vegeta disappeared. He had apparently stolen one of the spacecraft and taken off after Goku. Bulma shook her head. 'The only reason he stayed was to pump Goku for information. I feel so insulted.'
Urania pointed out 'Look on the bright side: now you get to use the GR for yourself.' Bulma froze in rigid terror as those words registered. The GR. The room where gravity itself was the enemy. The room from which, without fail, even stamina maniacs like Vegeta and Goku emerged with sore muscles and fountains of sweat. A hotbed of physical discomfort, of which Bulma was as unfamiliar as it was possible to be. She'd scraped her knee, once, and she'd lost her maidenhood to Yamcha. That was it for her experience with pain.
Bulma slowly moved from her position in the family room to walk calmly to the medicine cabinet. 'What are you doing?' Urania asked, curious and slightly apprehensive; she had misjudged her host's aversion to physical activity that actually hurt.
'I'm going to knock a bottle of painkillers and hope some of the brain cells I kill belong to you. You obviously need to lose a few IQ points; you're coming up with crazy ideas.' Bulma was in the process of opening the door when she felt it. The feeling of millions of ants squirming beneath her skin. It was gross, unnerving, but most of all ticklish.
Bulma made a spectacle of herself for the next five minutes as she collapsed to the floor laughing, freaking out all those in the vicinity. Urania kept up her efforts of moving her tendrils, but she could only do it for so long. 'I will either keep doing this until you pass out, or you agree to listen to me and consider my reasons with logic and not your fear of all things that require real effort.'
Bulma, so breathless she couldn't even form coherent thought, tapped the floor in something vaguely like a wrestling tactic. Seeing the slap as the sign to stop, Urania stopped the rhythmic flexing of her tendrils.
As Bulma got to her feet and waved off the concerned stares of the Namekians she had alerted, Urania fulfilled her familiar role of underappreciated mentor. 'I know for a fact you've heard of the body being a temple for the mind. By that logic alone, with your ingenuity and brain power, you should be as tough as Piccolo. If philosophy doesn't work with you, then here are some real reasons. The more work you do with me, the more integrated I get into your body, and the higher your power boost is. At the same time, you will be improving the base traits that I am enhancing, further increasing your power boost. If nothing else, it'll stop those tension headaches you keep getting when you go off on an inventing tangent.'
Bulma tried and failed to suppress a shudder as she realized there wasn't a hole in the logic she could escape from. 'But… IT'S THE GR!' Bulma knew she had lost even before she formed the protest. That didn't mean she wasn't going to get comfy in her denial.
Mentally groaning at the stubbornness of her host, Urania suddenly had a wonderful idea. In a teasing tone, Urania innocently said 'Oh, and I suppose the idea of pounding Piccolo or Vegeta or maybe Goku into the ground when they act stupid isn't appealing at all. Or maybe the fact that you could actually have a say in how your planet fares during the next crisis is irrelevant. Yes, why should you make the effort to become a warrior goddess with brains and money?'
Bulma whistled. 'Wow, you appealed to my insecurities, my need to boss others, and my female pride all at once. Congrats. But I'm still not doing it!' She didn't really mean that however; Urania had her hooked after the word 'ground'.
As Bulma took deep breaths and resigned herself to the world of working out, she thought wryly to herself. 'A symbiotic jelly from space. My own lab. The GR. What's next?'
'The end of the world?' Urania suggested sarcastically.
'Don't even joke,' Bulma growled back.
Soooooooooooooooooooooooo? What do you think? Tell me in the review! Burn or praise, I don't care which! Just tell me what you think! Adieu!