Disclaimer: I don't own Dragonball Z.

Real Gem

It took Vegeta a moment to register what was going on. In that time the voices of the reporters on the television seemed to fade away, replaced only by the thumping of his heartbeat loud in his ears.

Traders.

Bulma!

He tore into the bedroom, moving at in inhuman speed, pulling out drawers and rifling through them for the cell phone that he hardly ever used.

It seemed like it took forever to find it, but in reality only a matter of seconds had passed. He was glad Bulma had her stupid habit of checking that it was always charged; for once he needed it.

The phone had only three numbers programmed into it; Bulma's private number, Kakarot's number, and the number of the woman's annoying parents. Emergency contacts, she had called them. He had no idea why Kakarot had to be on that list, but she had had PMS at the time that she gave him the phone, and he wasn't suicidal or masochistic. He'd take a useless number over an infuriated hormonal bitch of a mate any day.

Except today. He'd trade a month on the couch for the knowledge that she was still on Earth, and not with some sex slaver.

He selected Bulma's number and held the phone to his ear. It rang.

And rang.

And rang.

"Hi!" Bulma's voice began, and his breath hitched with relief.

"I'm not available right now, so please leave a message and I'll get back to you."

Dread crept up his spine. The woman always answered her phone. Granted, he'd only ever called the number a handful of times, but in those few instances she had never failed to pick up.

Pocketing the phone in his jeans, he pulled on the first shirt he could find- a plain black tee- and yanked on the nearest pair of shoes. His movements were slightly jerky; he couldn't quite keep himself calm. Wrenching open the balcony door, he left the warmth of the bedroom behind. The air outside was cold, and it bit at his skin instantly.

He took to the air- no more than a minute after first switching on the TV- and automatically searched for high power levels. He found none. Then again, slave traders never were that strong, relying on underhanded methods to do their job instead. For a moment he hesitated as to whether he should fly as fast as he could, disregarding the fact that anyone with a scouter would pick his ki level up, or keep his movements hidden.

The thought of Bulma caught in some disgusting creature's hands decided it for him.

In less than a minute he was hovering over the mall, despair etched on his face. There was no ship there, and neither was Bulma's ki. He scanned the area, glad for his ability to see in the dark. It would not be hard to stay out of the torchlight of the weakling emergency services that were wandering around.

He dropped down to the ground, waiting in the dark of the car park for two cops to walk by before sneaking through one of the mall entrances. Immediately he screwed up his nose at the smell, noticing what the weak humans who were investigating the scene clearly could not.

The scent was faint, but distinctive, and one that Vegeta was very familiar with. It was all the evidence he needed to know that slave traders really had hit this place, because no company on Earth produced the particular sleeping gas that was used in long space flights. It was the same gas that all of Frieza's space pods had been equipped with, and it was common knowledge that it had other uses as well. Gassing hordes of women before collecting them for whore houses was not something he had ever partaken in, but he had certainly heard the stories.

Vegeta pulled his black shirt off and tied it tightly around his face, covering his nose and mouth. It was the best he could do for now, and would give him at least some protection from the remnants of the gas that still lingered in the building. The last thing he needed was to be falling asleep at a time like this.

He stepped silently into the mall, his eyes scanning the scene before him. Shopping trolleys sat alone in the middle of stores, and the personal objects of hundreds of humans lay abandoned on the ground. As he stepped around a backpack, lying open haphazardly on the floor, he was suddenly reminded of a day long ago.

He stepped into the room, automatically sweeping into a low brow. "You called for me, Sire?" he asked flatly, his voice devoid of all emotion.

Frieza signalled for him to straighten, and he complied, looking Frieza in the eye. He saw Zarbon's frown deepen, and had to repress a smirk at the disapproving look Frieza's lackey was giving him.

He wasn't sure what Frieza had called him into base for, and that made him nervous, although he kept the feeling to himself. Outwardly he remained completely calm as Frieza stared at him from his hover chair, the only sound in the room coming from the repetitive tapping of Frieza's tail against the chair surface.

"What do you know of whores?" Frieza asked suddenly. Vegeta's eyebrows rose in surprise; that wasn't a question the twenty year old had been expecting.

He shrugged. "What exactly do you mean, Sire?" he asked cautiously, hoping he wouldn't get a kick in the face for answering Frieza with a question.

Frieza was in a good mood, evidently, because no attack came. The pink and white alien simply sighed, rolling his red eyes. "My little monkey, do you use the whore houses often? I assume a man like you does," Frieza continued, eyeing him up and down.

"Yes," Vegeta replied. He had no fucking clue where this conversation was going, and it was beginning to make him feel extremely on edge.

"And do you know where the whores come from originally?"

He shrugged, a difficult movement when he felt so tense. "The slave traders bring them in."

"Exactly," Frieza nodded. "They bring them in from planets where creatures are considered desirable." Frieza paused, and Vegeta held his breath, waiting for some sort of instruction from the lizard bastard.

"You'll be heading to the planet Poltap today, yes?"

"Yes. We are scheduled to begin the purge tomorrow."

"Hmmm. I have received an interesting offer, you see. Some slave traders have approached me; they are willing to pay a considerable sum if their men are allowed to collect some individuals before Poltap before the purge."

Ahh. That was where he came in.

"I do not like the nerve of those weakling scumbag traders. They are lazy fools, and yet they had the gall to contact me directly to request such a deal with them. It seems the natives from Poltap are I high demand."

Vegeta simply nodded, allowing Frieza to continue.

"The fools have already paid me." Frieza swirled around in his chair to face the window, a sadistic laugh pealing from his lips. "Can you believe it, my little pet monkey? The fools have already paid! Talk about stupidity! Even an animal like you wouldn't make such a mistake, am I right?"

"Yes sire," he answered tersely, swallowing his anger back down. 'Monkey' was Frieza's favourite term when it came to the Saiyans, and he goaded Vegeta with it at every opportunity.

Frieza suddenly swivelled back around, all humour gone from his pale face. "You will continue with your purge as planned," the tyrant issued. "Kill the traders, too. It's what they deserve for their blatant disrespect."

Vegeta's lips curled in a bloodthirsty smile. "It will be my pleasure, Sire."

When he had arrived on Poltap, he'd taken the traders out first, not willing to risk letting them get away. One ship had been parked just outside an indoor arena that had clearly been used for gatherings. The place had been left empty of people, but all of their belongings had been left behind; bags and parcels, toys and electronic equipment. It had been like walking through a ghost town; more eerie to Vegeta than anything he had experienced before. On purges he simply let cities burn or blast to the ground. Never were the remnants of people's lives left so intact, as if everything had suddenly been dropped while they were beamed up into space.

A true alien abduction.

He sneered the thought, and continued through the mall silently, always scanning the dark place for any signs of movement. He saw a single policeman slouched in the corner, and snorted. The man had obviously succumbed to the sleeping gas; Vegeta briefly wondered how long it would take the man's colleagues to realise that he was missing.

Halfway through the mall Vegeta found what he was looking for, and dread filled his insides. Quietly he bent to the ground, picking up his wife's handbag. The wallet had fallen out; he opened it to double-check that it was hers and found himself staring at a picture of himself, his arm wrapped around her waist as he stood in a simple white shirt. She was wearing white too; a delicate pantsuit, her eyes half-obscured by a tiny birdcage veil. He was scowling, as usual. She was grinning up at him, her face alight with joy.

He shut the wallet on their wedding photograph abruptly, and rifled through the rest of her handbag. Everything was still there, even the phone that she never let out of her sight.

Vegeta picked up the bag, shoving it under one arm. It looked like the police were waiting until morning before entering the building again, but Vegeta had no doubts that they would be using the discarded items as a means of identifying abduction victims. The last thing his family needed now was a horde of paparazzi on their doorstep asking questions over whether Bulma had disappeared or not.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and stretching out his senses as far as they could go. If he could just pick up on her ki…

He growled, and strode purposely out of the mall, his hand already reaching into his back pocket for his phone. Searching for her ki was of no use; she was too weak, and her ki too insignificant. When he tried to stretch out his senses far enough to pick up ki in the endless void of space, the ki of Earth's six billion other inhabitants clouded his mind and got in the way. That fact, coupled with the truth that she slaver ship was most likely lightyears away by now, meant that other options would have to be employed.

He took to the air once more, looking down at the mobile in his hand as it lit up.

Emergency contacts, she had said.

. . .

"Mmmmrrrrrggghh," Goku grumbled, cracking one eye open. The sharp nail that had been prodding his side retreated, and he closed his eye with a sigh, rolling onto his stomach. He was almost asleep again when the finger came back, poking him in the arm.

"Goku!" his wife whispered. "The phone's ringing!"

"Mphm," he grunted.

"Goku!" the hand was shaking him now, and he opened his eyes again. He glared at his wife, despite the fact that he was well aware that she couldn't see in the dark like he could.

"I'm sleeping," he said, and closed his eyes.

The ringing in the background ceased, and he sighed in relief. He felt himself sinking deeper into the bed, and knew he was on the cusp of sleep once more, when the phone began to ring again.

"Son Goku!" Chi Chi hissed at him, her hands shoving against his prone body. "Get out of bed and answer that phone!"

"You do it," he replied, hunkering down under the blankets.

"I can't see in the dark!" she whispered loudly. "Go!"

He sighed, muttering under his breath, and stepped out onto the cold floor. He opened the bedroom door in a daze, but by the time he'd made it to the phone, which hung on the wall in the lounge, he was beginning to think clearly, and was wondering who on Earth would call in the middle of the night.

"Huh?" he said, once the phone was at his ear.

"Kakarot."

"Wha… Vegeta?" he asked with a yawn. "It's the middle of the night. I'll spar with you in the morning."

"I'm not calling for a spar, idiot!" came the angry reply. "Bulma has been taken, and as much as I hate to admit it, your instant transmission technique will be of use in retrieving her. Get over here now."

"What?" Goku said, now wide awake. "What's wrong with Bulma? Is she okay?"

"Just get over here, Kakarot!" Vegeta yelled, before the line went dead. Goku stood blinking at the phone for a moment, before running back down the hall and into the bedroom.

"What did they want?" Chi Chi whispered sleepily, before sitting up at the sound of drawers opening and closing. "Goku?" she asked. "What are you doing?"

"Getting dressed," he replied, pulling his orange gi shirt over his head. He yanked on his pants, tying his belt on quickly before bending over to pull on his blue boots. "Something's happened to Bulma. I've gotta get to Capsule Corp."

"But…"

Goku tuned her out, focusing on Vegeta's ki. He moved as soon as he locked onto it, the familiar tingles that came with using instant transmission running over his body, as he found himself suddenly standing in Bulma and Vegeta's lounge.

"It's about time," Vegeta snapped. Goku met the shorter man's gaze for a moment, and knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. Although Vegeta's face remained impassive, the look in his eyes betrayed his concern, and Goku felt the worry in his own gut grow.

"Where is she?" Goku asked, looking around.

"I don't know," Vegeta answered gravely, and Goku couldn't help but look surprised. Before he could ask what Vegeta meant, the older man continued.

"She was out shopping at the other end of the city today when she and the entire mall full of Humans were abducted by alien creatures who deal in the interplanetary slave trade. The ship was filmed on the news, but it was long gone by time I realised what had happened."

"She's been kidnapped… by aliens?" Goku asked.

"This is serious, Kakarot!" Vegeta snapped again. "Time is of the essence; from what I've heard these slavers move quickly to offload their cargoes. We have to find her before she gets sold to some sick fuck."

"What do they want with her?" Goku asked seriously, his brows knitting together. Bulma was his big sister, his close friend. She was one of the most important people in his life, and he suddenly feared her husband's answer.

"They will sell her as a whore, Kakarot. She'll be used as a sex slave. She'll be raped," Vegeta answered, his voice a dangerous mix of fury and desperation.

"Tell me what to do," Goku said, and meant every word.

. . .

After Goku's abrupt disappearance, Chi Chi couldn't sleep. She had the sick feeling in her gut that appeared every time her family members were called to go and save the world, and as a result she tossed and turned in bed. What was going on? All she knew was that she couldn't handle Goku dying a third time over. The heartbreak would be enough to make her die right along with him.

A sudden bang emanating from the living room made her sit up with a start, eyes widened as she clutched the sheets to her chest, her heart hammering away in her chest.

"Where is she?" she heard a child- Trunks- yell, followed by another loud bang. "Where is my mom?"

Jumping out of bed, she wrapped her worn nightgown around her and ran blindly down the dark hallway, ignoring the sharp pain as she stubbed her toe on one of Goten's misplaced toys. She searched along the wall for the light switch, deft fingers skimming across the painted surface until they found the plastic knob. With a flick the room was bathed in light, and she squinted as her eyes readjusted.

Trunks stood in the middle of the living room in his pyjamas, his face red and his arms restrained at his sides as the boy's father knelt in front of him. Vegeta's hands gripped tightly around each of the boy's arms, the Saiyan's face deadly serious as he stared into his son's eyes.

"She is not on this planet. Kakarot and I are going to find her," Vegeta spoke quietly. Chi Chi glanced at her husband for an explanation, but Goku was focused solely on the little boy, who was now visibly shaking.

"I'll come with you," Trunks replied, his face contorted into an angry scowl. Chi Chi took in the surrounding scene, noticing that two of the couches had been overturned, and a vase broken. Trunks had obviously managed to do a little damage before Vegeta had restrained him.

Trunks squirmed in his father's grip, his hair beginning to rise above his head as his power increased. "I said let me come with you!" the boy screamed. "I can help!"

"No," Vegeta replied, his voice stern and the order final.

"But I'm a Super Saiyan!"

"I said no! Now shut up, boy, or I'll knock you out!"

The fight seemed to drain from Trunks, his shoulders slumping as his head hung forward. "Where is Mom?" he sniffled. "What's happened to her?"

"What's going on?" Gohan asked, walking into the room in nothing but a pair of boxers. Goten followed closely behind, rubbing his eyes. Chi Chi watched her youngest take in the scene, his eyes filling with worry.

"What's wrong, Trunks?" the little boy asked, walking towards Trunks and Vegeta. Vegeta stepped away from his son, allowing Goten to wrap an arm around Trunks, the smaller boy peering worriedly into his best friend's face.

"My mom's missing," Trunks snuffled, rubbing his eyes furiously. "I just want her back."

. . .

"Nnghh," a hulking figure grunted, as he tossed another sleeping body in the 'keep' pile. Sorting was always tough work, and Drock wiped the back of his three-fingered hand across his sweaty brow. He picked up another sleeping infant, scowling as he tossed the child down the disposal chute. The sound of the airlock opening and closing reached his ears, and he shook his head, shaking his conscience away with it. He needed the money that this job paid. Besides, the people who got tossed died a peaceful death, asphyxiating in the void of space while still in a deep, drug-induced slumber. He was practically doing them a favour by sending them to their merciful death.

It was the people in the 'keep' pile that had a life of hell ahead of them.

He threw another two brats down the disposal chute, before coming across a gem. He grinned, eyeing the blonde beauty appreciatively. Her breasts were so huge that they were practically spilling out of her garments, and Drock knew that she alone would fetch a price on the high-end market that would be enough to have made the entire trip worthwhile.

Carefully, he lifted one of the blonde's eyelids. She had violet eyes, which made things even better. "Woo hoo!" he grinned. "We got us a real gem!" he yelled up the ship's hatch, scooping her gently into his arms as the cries of success from other crew members echoed down into the basement. Drock placed the blonde carefully to the side, mindful not to damage her. She was going to make him a whole lotta money.

He got back to work in a much happier mood, whistling as he tossed more brats down the chute, throwing men into one 'keep' pile, and women into another. A flash of blue from under a heavy male caught his eye, and he frowned in thought.

He rolled the big man to the side, and his eyes widened in shock. "Holy shit," he whispered, his eyes taking in every detail of the sleeping creature before him.

This woman… hell, this woman made the blonde look plain. Her hair was something he'd never seen before- an aquamarine blue- that framed a face that was both delicate and extremely sensuous. The woman's rosy lips were parted slightly, their colour contrasting perfectly with her alabaster skin, and her chest- fuck, she's got great tits!- rose peacefully. She had wide hips that swelled out from a tiny waist, and legs that seemed to go on for miles.

Drock bent down and lifted the beauty's eyelids, hissing as he examined the colour of her eyes. "Fffuuuck," he whispered, taking in the bright blue colour of her eyes. This was hands down the most exotic female he'd ever seen, and she was going to make him a very wealthy man.

He set her down carefully beside the blonde, and finished the rest of the job quickly. When the rest were sorted he called the boss on the private channel of his scouter, not wanting to leave the two gems unguarded in the basement, lest any damage come to them from the idiots in the crew.

The ship's captain answered the scouter transmission with a grunt. Drock looked down at the two women, shaking his head in awe.

"You gotta come down here, boss. We've got two gems, and one of them… I ain't never seen anything like her in all my years."

"How much are we looking at?" the boss asked.

"Come see for yourself. Enough for Privouxsa, for sure."

"Impossible," came the whispered reply. There was a pause, before the captain added "Don't let her out of your sight. I'll be there shortly."


A/N: I just want to thank everyone who took the time to review the last chapter; I really appreciate your comments, encouragement and advice!

For those who read my other stories, updates are on the way. I have three more weeks off before my final semester of university begins, and I'm part-way through chapters for The Attractions of Abduction, Till Death Do Us Part and Steampunked. I'm going to try and update as much as I can while I have the free time!