Author's Note: Updates will be sporadic at best (sorry!).
Drabble One: Everything is On
At the age of twenty-seven, Bulma Briefs drinks to excess and activates an alien technology in the night. Yamcha sprawls beside her, home again after six months' training and too tipsy to depart her bed. He's snoring. His rough foot presses Bulma's thigh and his smell of desert-dust and sweat rises in her nose. She looks into her cup and swirls its contents back and forth.
Yamcha rolls away in his sleep. His snore softens. Bulma downs the last of her drink and plucks the scouter from her nightstand. She presses at it with her thumbs and sets it over her ear as it boots. The screen blinkers over her eye. She bundles a bed sheet and covers her mouth. She opens the comm lines.
Voices blast at her but don't wake Yamcha. The scouter searches through the lines, culling each connection that lacks preset significance until only two remain. And there they are: two patterned breaths, exhaling in another night light years away. Bulma listens in and the Saiyajin sleep at the other end of the line-almost, she imagines, vulnerable in their pierceable, space-pod stillness.
"Oi, Vejita!" The voice is ugly, like fry-grease on water, and not without digital artifact. Bulma gasps into her cloth and hopes that the sound of it is lost to space. "Vejita!"
"What is it, Nappa?"
"Life-sustainment systems low. Your orders?"
"Hn," the one called Vejita replies. There is something warmly primal in the sound of him and Bulma shivers in her bed. "Here's a classed planet. Schedule an atmospheric dip. Nothing else on long-range sensors."
Mechanical whirrings fill the line and Bulma watches her bedside clock. For ten minutes, the whirring is loud. But then it levels off, lifts, and the Saiyajin resume their banter. The grease-guy is the first to speak: "Think these Chikyuujin will have anything for us besides those Dragon Balls?"
"Radditz's scouter has logged activity."
Bulma bites the bed sheet and her throat pulls tight. She fumbles for the pack of cigarettes on her nightstand, shakes one out, lights it. She puts it to the corner of her mouth and puffs at it around the bed sheet. Ashes dribble from its tip. She wipes them away with her palm. She should, she thinks, shut the scouter down.
Vejita growls. Bulma's movements still.
"You don't think that's suspicious?" Nappa says.
"Who would know how to use it?" Vegita responds. "It's a mud ball, Nappa." He sounds tired, worn. Bulma has the uncanny urge to comfort him, even as she swallows a laugh.
"That's right," Nappa says. "A mud ball." He chuckles.
"Don't misunderstand me," Vejita says. "Dragon Balls are a very interesting concept indeed. Very interesting." Bulma can hear the smirking in his voice. "But the Chikyuujin natives know nothing, or else they'd be a rival race. A power that can return souls from the dead and more. They'd be useful if they really knew what to do with that."
Bulma could craft so many clever replies-could stupefy the Saiyajin and shut him up with her finely layered arguments, she thinks. She could write him a letter in his own encrypted language and seal it with a kiss just to befuddle him. She'd show him mud ball.
"Babe?" Yamcha says. He's shifting and sitting up.
The distant Saiyajin spark into awareness: "What was that? That rat-ass Cui or-?" Bulma's forgotten the sequence that will shut the damn thing off. "Who's there?"
No one, she wants to say. I'm sorry. I didn't mean. I was only curious.
"God damn it," Vejita says. "Who-"
The scouter finally accepts her shut-down sequence. The comm link goes dead and the screen darkens.
"Babe, what are you doing?"
Bulma studies the lines in Yamcha's skin. He is getting older and so is she. They may be dead soon. "Nothing really," she says. "Futzing with some junk I pulled off of a dead guy."
"Don't, babe," Yamcha says and he strokes the inside of her elbow. His calloused fingers calm her. "Leave it all to me. I'll blast those guys away." He looks at her and his eyes are big and brown and human without any hateful edge to them. Bulma does not turn away. "I'll save you, babe."
"I know, Yamcha," she says. "I know it."