Mechanical Animals

by Juunanagou

NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:
This fanfiction was inspired by the fanfics of Juuhachigou and Mirai Bulma, found at their fanfiction page . In particular, I refer to "Things I Want To Forget", "Machinehead", "Walk This World", "Freshmen", "Dead Man's Party", "broken" and "Human Behavior". I even quote some short excerpts without explicitly marking them as quotes. Also I refer to things that are told in the stories by Marron, especially I refer to "Dolly". Nevertheless the contents of the above mentioned fanfics are owned by Juuhachigou and Mirai Bulma or Marron, and in no way by me. I only allowed myself to use their wonderful story as inspiration and wrote this story. This is only my own, personal interpretation of the facts narrated in the above mentioned fanfics, without any claim on relation to the intentions of Juuhachigou and Mirai Bulma or Marron. I wrote this text only because of my admiration for the work of Juuhachigou, Mirai Bulma and Marron!
The quoting of a song throughout the text has been arranged as seen in the above mentioned fanfics, with the only purpose of making them fit also esthetically to them, also as implicit admission that this text was inspired by the fanfics of Juuhachigou and Mirai Bulma. I do not pretend it to be my idea and admit clearly that I took it from the above mentioned fanfics! I only choose the song to quote. The lyrics of the song "Mechanical Animals" are owned by Marilyn Manson and whoever else. The characters and original story of Dragonball are owned by Akira Toriyama and whoever else.


Introduction

I think, one of the main problems in our days society are the mad scientists. Yes, you know, those kind of freaks who spend most of their time in some secret lab of theirs. The problem is, that nobody has a patent on being a 'mad scientist', so every slightly talented and barely crazy guy can say "Hail me, for I'm a mad scientist!". And there is no point either it is a 'good' mad scientist or an 'evil' mad scientist, it's the 'mad' part that troubles me. I mean, who never dreamed at least once in his life to cure all diseases in the world... or take it over? But the 'mad' thing... well, that is a problem. Because that's what makes an ordinary talented scientist the kind of guy who'd never open a coke can like a normal person, oh no! He would rather build from scratch some kind of mechanical, full automatic, artificially thinking, nuclear power driven machine with 512 processing units, performing 5 billion operations in a second, armed with a laser beam able to tear apart the whole planet... just for that task -- and it doesn't matter if collaterally every time he has a coke the Tower Bridge has to be rebuilt. And it strikes us in our everyday life, as well. I mean, think of it: you're just leaving for work, heading to your car, and there: ZACK! A gigantic mechanical beast, with photon-beams in place of its eyes, trampling carelessly through the city, stumbles into your brand new automobile transforming it into a huge aluminium foil. So what? You're going to be late to work, having to make it up by staying longer at the office, missing the finals of the UEFA championship... and why? Just because one of those freaks couldn't spend his spare time watching TV like the rest of the civil world? Now, you see? It is about the 'mad' thing...

Another appalling thing is the motto "fight fire with fire"... who said this? Of course, in some situations this phrase might come in handy, writing songs for instance, but there are situations where the abuse of said sentence can be very dangerous. The best example are the mad scientists. Could you really think of a mad scientist being the best remedy to one of his peers? Where could this possibly lead to? No, don't say it, don't state "who knows?", because I know! You're interested? Well, then let me tell you...

In the year 766, I think it was the 12th of May, two beings called jinzouningen made their first appearance on this world... and for the next eighteen years said world was almost wiped out by them. You get it? Right, these jinzouningen were the achievement of a mad scientist, an evil one, to be precise. Now, in 784, a young guy with lavender hair (o.O) managed to defeat the two cyborgs, and peace was restored. Years after that, those jinzouningen returned on scene -- remember, mad scientist, mad, but still a genius -- but somehow they weren't evil any more. So where's the point, you say? I'm getting there, don't bother me! While the power of those jinzouningen was (and still is) enormous, there were only two of them, so they couldn't be around for long at the same place. This gave someone, back then when they went crazy, enough time to weave a plan for stopping them... you get it again? No? Then I'll help you: that guy had an enormous, nuclear power driven can-opener -- Right! He was a fellow mad scientist! So you can imagine, what kind of plan his mind could produce. Well, actually you can't, 'cause else I wouldn't have to tell you.

Our story begins on a wonderful morning..

Part I
The day that we lost our souls

We were neurophobic and perfect
The day that we lost our souls
Maybe we weren't so human
But, if we cry we will rust

It was a wonderful morning. The air was filled by a gentle breeze and the twittering of birds on the near treetops. There wasn't one single cloud in the sky, and the early sun shone bright on the Gajetto compound.

Chiara was setting a table she had placed in the yard behind the house. She was in a great mood, humming a lilting tune while she distributed the dishes. Juunanagou leaned on the wall near the door, arms crossed, eyes shut. Even though Chiara didn't notice, he was sharpening all his other jinzouningen senses and focusing on her. He didn't want her to know how much she had already become part of his thoughts, but she really was a big part of them. Somehow he was afraid of it being so, but on the other side, the thoughts he spent on her where much better then the thoughts he had otherwise...

"Juu-kun?" the sweet voice of Chiara reached his ears. "Would you please go and get Papa? I'll get the coffee."

Juunanagou opened his eyes slowly, showing nothing but plain disinterest. "He won't come."

"Tell him I will go and take him here with force, if necessary" she replied from the doorway, heading to the kitchen.

Juunanagou rolled his eyes and went inside too.

Gajetto was already sitting at his computer in the lab, working on another of his projects... whatever it was about. Juunanagou didn't know anything about his projects, and he really didn't care. The only two things I know of his achievements are enough for me he thought, referring to Chiara and the limiter.

The limiter. As he first realized what Gajetto had done to him, Juunanagou was willing to kill him for that. He would have done, even without his full strength, if it hadn't been for Chiara, the young jinzouningen. But after a while, he had learned to master his newly regained feelings. He got used to it. And he got used to her too. After she had managed to find Gajetto's controller and deactivated the limiter, he realized that he didn't actually want to leave her, or to take revenge on the scientist. So he let Gajetto find the controller and reactivate the limiter. He didn't mind after all.

Gajetto didn't hear Juunanagou enter the lab. It was both his own fault, being completely absorbed in his work, and Juunanagou's catlike movements, making no noise.

"The breakfast is almost ready" the young jinzouningen said. The man jumped off his stool.

"Oh... Juunana, I... didn't hear you..." he stammered.

Juunanagou turned to the lab's door. "Chiara want's you to come."

"Ah, yes, I'll be there in a moment." the scientist replied, turning his gaze to the monitor.

- - -

Space. An enormous vacuum, sparsely filled with material. Some could think that during the process of creation, someone got the brilliant idea to distribute the disposable matter over an enormous distance only to make the whole thing look bigger than the plain material was. And jet, although the most of space is simply void, the part of it that is not gives birth to an incredible variety of life-forms...

Within the emptiness that covers the immense distance between worlds, nothing can exist. Not for long, at least. But, mother nature has shown often enough, that there are no limits to her fantasy.

A meteor, a piece of rock or something else, thrown through the inaneness of space by who-knows what ancient event, entered the gravitational force-field of the Earth. Like often, in history, it began with a simple fact, a tiny little thing, perfectly integrated in every one's life. This time, it was gravity. And so the meteor's course through space was bent aside by the blue planet, and it started its journey to the surface...

- - -

"Where is he?" Chiara insisted. She stood next to the table, with the coffeepot ready in her hands.

Juunanagou was sitting at the table, with an almost annoyed expression. "I told you, he wouldn't come. Can't we just stop with these fiddlesticks? Breakfast. Why in the world should two jinzouningen and a workaholic have breakfast?"

Chiara put the pot gently on the table and went back into the house. She soon was back, pulling Gajetto's right arm, making sure he followed her.

"I tell you, the fresh air and a genuine breakfast will do you good, Papa."

Reluctantly, the tall man sat down at a generously set table. The bread was still warm, dispersing an alluring fragrance through the air. Fresh strawberries, a dish of cream, orange juice, milk, coffee... it all looked delicious. Soon the sadness in the scientists face was gone, and he began gathering a bit of everything that was on the table.

Chiara smiled and was very glad to hand him over one dish after the other. Juunana sat there and watched, at the beginning even interested, but soon bored by the scene.

As Chiara noticed it, she handed the plate with the strawberries over to him, cheering "I got these early this morning from town! They're fresh."

He looked first at the fruits in the dish, and then at the smiling girl, with an almost emotionless gaze.

"Come on..." the young girl begged.

"Jinzouningen don't need to eat." he replied flatly.

"But you'll like them, I know"

Juunana sighed as he took one of the small, red fruits. He looked at it closely, turning it from side to side. While he did, Chiara was grinning at him pleased. As he noticed her smile, he quickly tucked it between his lips and bit into it. The strong, sweet flavour of the fruit poured in his mouth as he eagerly ate the rest of the berry. His eyes widened at the unexpected pleasure. Chiara chuckled happily.

- - -

"Okay, everyone ready?"

Gokou looked around. "Ano... what for?" he asked in his own, innocent way of asking what was seemingly obvious to others.

"Baka, Kakarott!" the other Saiyajin hissed. "How many times do I have to explain it to you, until it gets into the vacuum of your head?"

"Considering who you're asking, I don't think your head is much fuller than his."

"Namekseijin, did I ask for your opinion?" the prince replied.

One more discussion started between them. Gohan and Goten, watching the most entertaining scene, smiled to each other.

"Yamenasai!" Vegeta finally shouted, putting an end to one of a series of disputes.

"Now, Kakarott , listen carefully, 'cause else I'm gonna tattoo this into your chest with my very fists!"

"That I'd like to see." Piccolo interrupted.

Vegeta didn't even turn to look at the Namekseijin, but continued "I want us to train to fight better against more than one enemy at a time. Can you handle that?"

"As if", Piccolo's voice made him heard again.

"So, now, I want you three fools to learn, got it?" he turned to where Gohan and Goten where hardly holding back their laughter. "You won't laugh for long" he prophesied.

Vegeta jumped into the air, floating high over them, in order to oversee the whole group. "Now, you three will attack Piccolo, and look carefully at how he fights. Very well, let's start. Piccolo..."

The Namekseijin didn't move. Vegeta turned his gaze to the former Demon King, but had no success.

"Move your ass, you wanna-be demon!" he demanded.

"Mpf, I don't take any orders, especially not from you."

"Inu!" Vegeta barked at him. For a moment he struggled to keep control, than he added "Bakayarou. You said yourself that you wanted to join us in this spar."

"Of course. I couldn't bear it if I had to let them learn all your errors." Piccolo answered grinning. Then the Namekseijin threw off his cape and his turban and got into a stance.

The Son-Clan did the same, readying to attack.

- - -

Juuhachigou was sitting on top of the Capsule Corp dome. From there she could oversee the surroundings very well, but at the moment she was looking far into the sky, filled in many colors by the rising sun. Yet her thoughts were far beyond that morning's sky. They traveled through time and space, back to long forgotten places, long gone days.

Okay Jet, you win. Who do you choose first?

I choose Crystal.

Hah! You always pick your sister. And that's why your team always loses!

Na-na nana-na. Jet always picks his sister. Jeeeet and Crystaaal. Na-na nana-na.

Jet? Is it true what they're saying? Do we lose because of me?

No, Crystal, don't listen to them.

But we do always lose.

That's not your fault, sis'. And besides: when you're by my side, I don't really mind whether we win or not.

"What are you looking at?" the voice of a young man asked.

Juuhachigou arouse from her thoughts and turned around to look at him. He was floating in the brightening air, his lavender hair softly stirred by the morning breeze. She smiled at him, and he sat down at her side, putting an arm around her small shoulders. She leaned to him, returning her gaze to the sky, where the first stars were leaving their place for the coming day.

"I was thinking..." she finally replied.

Trunks turned to look at her, adding softly "What about?"

At first, Juuhachi did not answer. She wasn't very sure, her memories of those times were very vague and confused. But she knew who was occupying her thoughts that morning. Somehow she feared it, out of many reasons. She didn't want to admit that she missed him. Sure, he was her brother, her twin, but he also was a symbol for all the terrible things she had done not too long ago. And she was concerned about Trunks. She didn't want her beloved to believe he had to share her with... him. But it was the truth, and she couldn't lie to Trunks, not about that.

"About... Juunanagou." she whispered, as if the low tone of her voice could lower the gravity of that.

Trunks didn't reply right away. He simply looked at her nice face, as the first rays of daylight stroked her beautiful profile. Then he turned around to watch the sky. There they remained for a while, without caring about time at all.

"Onii-chan? Are you here?" Bra's voice interrupted their silence. Trunks and Juuhachigou turned around, looking at the young girl. She had already settled on the roof of the building, and Trunks noticed that she was carrying her sword -- the sword of her brother from the other timeline. He turned to face the sky, knowing what was to come now.

"Trunks? You promised to teach me a few moves with the sword!" Bra explained.

"Mom doesn't want you to fight." he replied flatly.

"But I'm a Saiyajin, and dad says so too!" she insisted.

"Dad doesn't want you to fight with weapons."

"But Dad's on that spar with the others."

Juuhachi smiled at him: "You're out of arguments, Murasakige."

Trunks sighed. "Well, lets go then."

"Yuppie!" the girl cheered.

Suddenly, Juuhachigou set up, looking to a precise point in the sky. She stood up and took a few steps forward, sharpening her jinzouningen eyes.

"What's up?" Trunks asked.

"I... there is something heading towards us." she explained.

"Something? What exactly? And where?" He too began looking out, but couldn't see anything but the stars and the dark sky.

"It is very far, but it's coming nearer..."

Then she jumped off, flying down to the main entrance of the dome. Trunks followed her immediately.

"Juu-chan, what's going on?"

"I don't know, but we'd better tell Bulma."

Bra was left alone on the top of the Capsule Corporation building. "I knew it, he always finds an excuse." She gave a kick to the air in front of her, turned, and took into the air. "Maybe Goten will spar a little with me when he's back."

- - -

Juunanagou was sitting on the low wall that surrounded the yard around the house. The sun was slowly climbing up the sky, and the day was announcing itself as nice and warm. Somehow he found himself toying with one of his earrings. And there something was kicked into motion within his mind, and suddenly images started appearing before his mind's eye...

Jet entered the old magazine. He carefully closed the door, after assuring that nobody had seen him enter. It was now three days, that they were staying there, and tomorrow they would have to look out for a new place. It was not advisable to stay too long in the same place, because sooner or later one of those stupid people would notice them, and then the welfare would get track of them. Who the hell told those people, that he and his sister wanted their help? They didn't want it, they didn't need it!

Jet sneaked through the corridor, carefully avoiding the creaking floor to keep from making any noise. As he arrived to an unclosed door, he slid through, without moving it. On the other side, he opened one more door and entered the barely illuminated room. A young girl was sitting there, her hair chin-length and fair blond. She was sitting on the floor, guarding the lamp in the middle of the room. Jet stopped a moment, looking at her. He smiled, as his eyes slid over her neat form.

He purposely made noise, as he stepped towards her, he didn't want to scare her. She turned around, and her face brightened, as she saw him, joy in her tip-tilted eyes.

"Already back?" she asked.

Jet sat next to her, smiling.

"I had luck, and found something very soon." he replied, and held forth a packet, handing it over to her. The girl eagerly opened it and found a big piece of bread -- warm! Her eyes widened, as she felt the warmth.

"Still warm?" She gave him a thorough look. "Did you break into the bakery for this?" she inquired. "You know it's dangerous. I don't want you to..."

"Don't worry, sis'", it wasn't dangerous, I took it from someone who had just left the bakery." he lied.

Calming down, the girl divided the bread, handing over the half to her brother. He in turn divided the half and handed back the bigger part of his portion to her.

"I'm not that hungry, I had something on the way back." he lied again.

She gave him a puzzled gaze. "What? But--"

"Please, Crystal." he pleaded. She wanted to start an attempt to oppose, but refrained, and gratefully accepted the extra portion.

They ate the bread eagerly, it being the only meal of the whole day, and being the only warm meal in weeks. As Crystal was finished too, Jet took out a small packet from his jeans.

"Happy birthday!" he announced, as he handed it over to her.

Crystal was stunned. It took her a little while, until she could recall that it was in fact her birthday -- their birthday.

"But... I don"t have anything to give to you!" she protested.

Jet smiled again. "Open it." he replied.

She took the packet from his hand, and opened the plain black box. Her eyes widened, as she found four round, golden earrings. Taking out one of them, she held it against the lamp's light, turning it form side to side, admiring the simple piece of jewelry.

"Tomorrow", her brother explained, "we are going to have our ears pierced, and then we'll each wear two of them. So everyone will see, that we are siblings, and that we care for each other!"

She locked eyes with him, then smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek and hugging him.

"Thank you, Jet. I love you, brother."

The boy hugged her, too.

"I love you too, sister."

A light noise tore Juunana's attention back to reality. He turned around, and saw Gajetto approaching. The tall man had his hands in the pockets of his lab coat. Juu noticed it immediately, because it was unusual for the scientist. Obviously, the man wanted something, so the jinzouningen returned his gaze to the sky, pretending not to care about him. Gajetto's mouth twisted to a slight smile, as the boy did so. He slowly had begun to know him quite well. He stopped a few paces from the boy.

"A nice day, isn't it?"

"It isn't over, yet. Still can become worse." Juunanagou replied flatly, slightly stressing "worse".

Gajetto didn't care about it. The young jinzouningen liked to point out that, after all, he was somehow a prisoner, there at the Gajetto compound. But Gajetto knew as well as the boy, that this wasn't the truth. The limiter which regulated Juunana's powers wasn't a real problem, was it? After all, Gajetto had very well understood the message, as he once found the controller of the limiter on the lab's table one morning. The controller usually was hidden in the lowest drawer of one of his cupboards in the lab. Obviously, it hadn't been Juunana, who found it. The boy would have needed much more time to do so. And it sure had not been a coincidence that Chiara had cleaned up the lab, the evening before. She knew Gajetto very well, and it may have not taken more then half an hour for her to find the controller. Yet it had taken much more time for Gajetto to understand, why the controller was on the table. Why had Juunanagou not removed the limiter, after gaining the controller? Gajetto had not wondered about Chiara. She somehow adored the boy, as he was the only other jinzouningen she knew, the only one like her. Maybe, Juunanagou had only wanted to test her. Maybe, it was only a game he had been playing with Chiara. At first, Gajetto did not like the idea of that boy toying around with her. After all, Chiara was like a daughter to Gajetto. But Juunanagou had returned the controller. He had not asked her to put it back to the place it had been hidden, he had meant for Gajetto to find it. So he wanted the scientist to know. Maybe he was just playing a game with the man, too. Yet, he had renounced his freedom, refusing the freedom to hurt or even kill anyone. Gajetto knew very well the true strength of Juunanagou. He had no doubts, that with his full strength, Chiara would have been no match for him. Yet the boy had refused that power. And it was this certitude, that had finally convinced Gajetto. He now believed, that Juunanagou was finally recovering form the deep wounds in his soul, slowly regaining his humanity.

"I don't think so." the scientist replied. "It could, in fact, become a quite nice day."

The man's right hand clasped around the controller he was carrying in his lab coat's pocket. Gajetto smiled.

Suddenly, Juunana sat up, staring into the sky. Gajetto turned following the boy's gaze, but could not see anything.

"There is something, up there." The boy announced.

Gajetto let the controller slip back down the pocket. "What is it? I can't..."

"Looks like a meteor, but I'm not sure."

"A meteor? Fascinating. Let's give it a closer look, come on, I'll get my telescope online."

The scientist walked back into the house. Juunana looked after him. As the man had disappeared, he jumped off the wall, and followed him. He didn't want to show it openly, but he was curious.

- - -

Trunks and Juuhachigou followed Bulma and Juuroku into a room on the topmost floor of the Capsule Corp dome.

"Ah, here it is: my fully digital high resolution telescope! Let's see if the satellite is online..." Bulma announced very proudly. She sat in front of a control panel and started hammering on different keys. Then she opened a service panel to her left, looking inside.

"Juurokugou, there's a screwdriver in the cupboard over there, would you mind bring it to me, please?"

The android stepped towards the wall-high cupboard at the other side of the room. A harsh shredding sound was heard. Juuhachigou and Trunks looked terrified at him. He calmly walked back to Bulma.

"Here you are." he said flatly.

Bulma reached out, still looking at the machine. Her fingers slid over blank metal, a big panel, a latch... Bulma whirled around, staring at the android, handing the whole cupboard over to her.

"Baka! I didn't tell you to tear out the cupboard from the wall!" she shouted.

"Yes, you did." the mechanical man answered flatly.

"I did not... oh my, can't you avoid taking things always that literally?" Bulma sighed, as she opened the drawer which contained the required tool and took it. "Please, put it back into place."

The android did so, Juuhachi and Trunks still staring at him.

"Yes! I got it. You can now watch it on the monitor over there." Bulma announced, still gazing at the control panel she was fiddling with, waving a hand towards a monitor nearby. On that monitor a blurred image showed up, displaying a bright blob on a dark background.

"Uh, Kaa-san..." Trunks tried to catch Bulma's attention. But the girl was still working enthusiastically on the panel.

"Bulma, maybe..." Juuhachi tried to help.

"There, you see that kind of aura? In astronomy that is called..."

"The image is blurred." Juuroku explained.

"What? No way..." Bulma watched at the monitor. "You're right... hm, that's a quick fix, just give me a moment." She leaped behind the machine, starting to fiddle with different cables and plugs. The image changed color range a few times, showing up a vast variety of different patterns in clashing colors.

"Does it work now? And so? What about this?"

Finally, the image was good enough for Trunks and Juuhachigou to recognize the meteorite quite well.

"The quality is still low, only 86.3%" Juuroku stated before the others could try to convince Bulma to stop tweaking the machine.

"Only 86.3%? No way, that's not going to be so for long... just a moment."

The next second the image was gone again and the monitor continued it's journey through the wonderful world of colors.

Juuhachigou sighed, rolling eyes. She took Trunks' hand and lead him outside of Capsule Corp.

"Come on" she said, smiling at him, "Let's go take a closer look at the falling star."

She leaped into the fresh air, the man following her. They flew towards the meteorite, until they set down on a far mesa, from where the meteorite was very well visible. They sat there, leaning to each other, watching the fiery tail of the meteor scorching the sky.

"Hm, how is it now?" Bulma leaped out from under the machine, pliers in her left hand and a screwdriver between her lips. She stared at the room. Except her and the android, no one was there.

"Hey, were are they?"

"They left about 15 minutes ago."

"So that's their gratitude for all my efforts, yes?" She slid back under the machine, continuing her work, muttering a few words which do not show up in most dictionaries.

- - -

"Okay, ciao, ci vediamo -- see you!" the girl smiled. She picked up her backpack, settled it on her shoulders and left the camp.

"Fare well, Nora!" a woman replied, waving with her arm as Nora left towards north.

It was custom in these lands, for wanderers, to stop by every encampment they found on their travels. In those times of need institutions like friendship and charity had become stronger then ever.

The next town was far away, a two days march in the north, but Nora was already used to such long journeys. She was a well trained wanderer, she had been for the last four years. Sure, at nineteen she still was among the youngest wanderers, but she had never had problems because of that. Carrying through every delivery she had been hired for had given her all the respect she needed. She could well take care of herself.

That day the weather was warm, like it had been over the whole last week, and so traveling was easy and comfortable. Nora enjoyed that. There was no reason to hurry, this time she had no delivery to drop off at the next town, so she slowed down the pace. Her gaze flew around the landscape. So she marched for the whole morning, on till the early afternoon.

Suddenly, she noticed something in the sky: a kind of... fiery cloud, heading towards her? Nora stopped, staring at the unknown phenomenon. That... thing was definitely heading towards her position... and with an incredible speed. She stood there like she was enchanted, staring into the sky.

The meteor raced towards the ground with all the speed the Earth's gravitation could give it. And finally it touched the ground. Nora was thrown from her feet as the object hit the ground a few kilometers from where she was standing, shaking the earth. As the girl came back to her feet, an enormous column of dust and smoke was rising there, where the meteor had crashed. She immediately started towards the impact area.

It took her over an hour to arrive at the crater. The dust had already set down again, revealing a crater that Nora had expected to be bigger. Almost 100 meters diameter, and 30 meters deep at the lowest point. Funny how, the crater didn't stick out in the landscape. That whole area was already dreary and arid. The cyborgs had done a thorough job: what once had been a nice, deep forest, now was a bare wasteland. Nora's parents had told her about how wonderful this place had been, before, but she had never seen that forest herself, so she didn't really miss anything in that landscape. What she did miss were her parents, who had died five years ago, killed by the... the cyborgs.

Doesn't look like there's anything left here , she thought, scanning through the crater. Then her attention was captured by a cavern, which lay open to the south, on a hill not far from the crater. Boulders lay around the aperture, the impact having revealed the cavern to the light. A good wanderer knows to estimate such a discovery: since the cyborgs had shown up the first time, most people went to live in bunkers and caverns under the earth, hiding. After the cyborgs disappeared, they had come back to the surface, some times leaving valuable things back in their old refuges. In such a cavern there could still be some useful things which could be made into good money in the next town. So Nora started rounding the crater, heading towards the opening in the hill.

- - -

Nora stepped through the hole. She was holding an oil-lamp. The hole lead directly into a dark room. Nora could make out that the walls were of cement. Suddenly a siren started sounding loud. Nora dropped the lamp, which crashed to the floor, giving birth to a small fire. As soon as the siren silenced, the room was filled with artificial light, originating from a few neon-lamps on the ceiling. Nora stamped out the fire next to her, then she took a good look around. The room was full of strange, highly complicated machines. Looks like a lab of some sort, she thought. Suddenly, in the middle of the room, a trapdoor opened, and a big metallic cylinder arouse from the floor. Steam poured out of various fissures on the surface of the structure. Then, slowly, the cylinder spilt up, opening, revealing it's contents: a young man stood there, wrapped in the steam of frozen air. His skin was pale, and brown, long brown hair hanging down to his shoulders. A lock of white hair was hanging along his pale face. He was wearing a grey shirt over a white T-shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. His face was calm, as if he was sleeping, and Nora noticed the silvery panel, that covered his left eye, an oddly shaped lens in place of the eye.

"Starting up initialization procedure." a metallic voice announced. Hot steam started pouring out of the floor, wrapping Nora and the stranger in a warm, dry mist. Nora coughed a few times, until she caught herself, the mist had been reabsorbed by the same mechanism that had released it. The young boy opened his eye, and looked around. He locked eyes with her. Rising his eyebrow, he asked: "Who are you?"

"I... my name is Nora. Eleonora." she answered firmly.

"Where is Professor Gizumo?"

"Who? I don't know anyone with that name."

The boy stepped out of the cylinder, revealing that he was only slightly taller then the girl. He looked around, noticing the hole in the wall. Again, his eyebrow rose a bit.

"Have you done that?"

Nora looked at the aperture, then shook her head. "Of course not!" she replied with a slightly offended tone.

He gave her a little smile, then turned and headed towards a cupboard. He opened one side of it, and took out a bag. He checked the content, looking for something. Nora stood there looking at him. As she realized that he was not going to present himself, she was upset.

"And who are you ?"

The young man turned around, again locking eyes with her. He was holding a flat metallic cylinder in his left hand. Only now Nora realized it: his left hand and the whole lower arm were wrapped in metallic stripes, each of them seemingly reaching out of his very flesh.

"Oh, forgive me. My name is..."

+++ ERROR: Memory protection fault. +++

The young man bowed, holding his forehead with the free hand. As the pain eased, he looked up at the girl, astonished.

"I... can't remember!"

This time it was Nora who lifted an eyebrow.

"Well, at least this explains your impoliteness." she replied flatly.

The boy put the cylinder back into the bag, closed it and placed it back into the cupboard. Then he went over to a computer terminal, activating it. He hit a few keys, and suddenly a hologram of an old man appeared next to the terminal. The life-sized, semitransparent old man stared right through the air, the image flickering from time to time.

"Hello there! Well, if you are seeing this message, it means that things didn't go that good after all. Uhm... sounds strange to say, but I fear I'm dead. Heheh -- oh my."

The old man scratched his neck, looking down a little confused. Then he gathered himself and went on staring through the air.

"First of all, I apologize for your face, and for your arm. I really had not the time to fix them better, I wish I could have integrated the analyzer and the EMP-generator better within your anatomy, but it is like it is. I'm really sorry. However, you should be perfectly functioning by now. I also managed to complete the regenerative system we were talking about lately, so your wounds will heal very fast. The EMP-generator also works fine now, though, I should warn you: don't overload it! If you do, it will get too hot even for your synthetic body, so it will damage your arm very badly. Of course, the arm will regenerate, however it would be very painful, so try to avoid it, yes? I hope, the DTA is working fine. If there are problems with it, I have copied a backup on this terminal, you should have no problems downloading it. Well, have a nice da da da da da da da"

The hologram started flickering, then wavered , and finally disappeared completely.

"Damned!" the boy hissed. He started working on the console again, but finally gave up.

"Gone!" he announced, giving the machine a strong kick, that tore it apart. Nora jumped back as the computer was ripped off.

"What's the matter?" she asked kindly, seemingly willing to help wherever she could.

The young man turned to face her.

"The memory of this machine is gone. I can't repair my DTA."

"DTA? What is that?"

"Digital Thought Assistant. It helps me connecting my thoughts with my SPU... uh, think of it like a kind of computer that talks to my thoughts. It also contains all my memory.

Nora's gaze lighted up.

"So that's why you can't remember your name?"

"Yes."

"But... what are you?"

"I am a cyborg. I was the assistant of Professor Gizumo, and he changed me into a cyborg."

Nora was at the same time scared and intrigued by this knowledge.

"A cyborg? But why?"

The young man smirked. "Vengeance."

He went back to the cupboard, picked up the bag and settled it across his chest on his right shoulder. Then he opened the other side of the cupboard and took out a long, silvery shining halberd. Nora looked surprised at the weapon. It shone like silver, the oddly shaped blade flashing under the pale neon-light. A chain was wrapped around the shaft, reaching from below the blade down almost to the end of it. The young man turned around, and by doing so, he struck the end of the halberd into a red panel on the wall next to the cupboard. Again the siren sounded up, and a metallic voice announced: "Warning! Self-destruction has been activated. Please clear the area within five minutes. The countdown starts now."

"I'd suggest you leave now." he said, heading towards the break in the wall, from where Nora had entered the room.

"Wait! Stop! There are still a few useful things in here, we could sell them and..."

The boy passed the halberd into his left hand, then took Nora's arm with the right one and tossed her harshly through the gap in the wall. She landed on her bottom outside the opening to the lab , protesting vehemently.

"Come on, let's move."

Opposing with a few not too kind arguments, Nora followed the nameless cyborg, as they leaped down the hill. After five minutes, only he could hear the metallic voice for the last time.

"Thank you for clearing the area. Have a nice day."

An explosion shook the ground, and dark, black smoke poured out from the fissure in the hill, erecting a thin, black column up into the sky.

"Well, I think we'll need to find you a new name."

"I don't need a name." He replied flatly.

"Oh, no? And how am I supposed to call you?"

"You are not supposed to call me anything at all. I'm leaving."

"And where are you heading, o mysterious tin-boy?" Nora replied quite upset.

"To the East."

"Is that about your vengeance?"

"Yes."

"What exactly is it, you want to avenge?"

"My family. My youth." the boy replied. Then he looked down at his left arm and added "My life."

"You are not the kind of guy who spends much time in talking, are you? This makes as little sense to me as blowing up that lab, so would you mind explaining it to me?"

"I would." He replied flatly.

He took a few steps toward the East, as the girl put herself in front of him, spreading her arms aside, unwilling to let him go on.

"Hey, look, if it wasn't for me, you would still be asleep in that kind of metallic coffin, so I think you owe me a little explanation."

The young man looked straight into her eyes, amused.

"Well, if you say so. I'm going to destroy the cyborgs who did all this." He waved around.

Nora's eyes widened. Her chin dropped, as she stared at the young cyborg. It was like her dreams had come true. After all these years, finally, someone had come to grant her her wish.

"You want to destroy the jinzouningen?"

"Jinzou... what?"

+++Database entry found: Jinzouningen, Japanese for "artificial human". This designation is often used to refer to the targets. The person might have additional information. An interrogation is advised.+++

"Jinzouningen ? What do you know about them?"

"Well, I think not more then everybody else... They roamed around the world for almost twenty years, then, five years ago, the disappeared. And that's it. There are rumors about one of them having been reactivated and living in peace now, but I don't believe that."

The boy reflected a moment about what the girl had told. "I don't believe that either. Where do these rumors state that this cyborg is staying?"

"You want to go there and check it out yourself?"

"I want to go there and see if it is still operative."

"And what if it is?"

"Then I'll deactivate it."

Nora smiled at him.

"I'll accompany you."

"You won't. Tell me where this cyborg stays."

"The hell I will! I won't tell you anything, I'll bring you there, and I want to be there when you destroy it. I've prayed for the last five years, every day, to get my revenge on those beings, and I won't back off now! It is either with me, or not at all."

The cyborg sighed.

"Very well, as you desire."

He loosened the chain at the end of his weapon and used it to fix the shaft to his back. Then he stepped towards Nora. She prepared herself to oppose any resistance she could. She would not let him escape. Suddenly, the cyborg ducked, and the next moment Nora felt like she was heaved into the air.

"Hey! Let me go, now!"

"You don't want that."

"Of course I..."

Her voice failed, as she managed to look down behind her shoulder, seeing the ground leaving far beneath her. Instinctively Nora flung her arms around the young man's neck, holding herself tight. He smiled.

"Don't worry, I won't let you go. Now, would you mind telling me in which direction we are heading?"

Nora gave one more hesitant look to the far ground, then gathered all her courage.

"We are heading to the East, across the sea."

"Very well then." The cyborg replied. "It's going to be a long flight."

"Good, then I'll have all the time to find you a name."

The cyborg started towards East, firmly holding the girl in his arms, flying towards the night.

- - -

It was midnight as they arrived at New Hope City. Nora was soundly sleeping in the arms of the cyborg. He smiled at her. After he had found a tavern, he organized a room and put Nora to bed. The boy himself spent the whole night in the corridor at her door. In the morning Nora awoke at nine o'clock. He heard her stepping out of the bed. She scouted through her backpack and washed at the basin at the wall. As she was done and had just finished packing her backpack, the boy entered the room. He was carrying a small basket with bread in his left and a steaming can in his right hand.

"Breakfast?" he asked, smiling.

"Nora gladly accepted the coffee and the sweet raisin-bread he had brought along. The cyborg didn't eat nor drink.

"I'm still feeling a little dizzy -- you know, I'm new to being a cyborg..." he had explained.

After the breakfast had been consumed, they settled things at the tavern and left.

Nora immediately started asking around about the jinzouningen and resulted in being a valuable aid in gathering information. After less than an hour, they already knew everything there was to be known about the cyborg living at Capsule Corporation. It was only by chance that they met Josef. He was a fellow wanderer, so Nora automatically stopped for a little chat. Josef told them about rumors he had come upon while heading towards New Hope City from the North. Apparently, it was said that in a small town there was a scientist who had built a jinzouningen. Thus far there had been no problems with it, but both Nora and the cyborg were very interested in the story and had Josef tell them every detail he knew. As he had finished his report, they both agreed on the necessity to check out this other cyborg.

It was late afternoon, as the two arrived at that wide clearing in the southern woods. The boy was astonished about how fast Nora could march, and he wondered if he would have been able to keep pace with her, if he had not been a cyborg.

"I'd say this place is quite fitting, don't you, Zero?" the girl asked as they arrived at the center of the clearing. Zero gave her a most puzzled look.

"How did you just call me?"

"Zero. That's the name I've chosen for you. You see, I've been told the two jinzouningen are also given numbers as names, so I thought it would fit for you too... besides, you're something special, so the first number of all would be... zero!"

The boy considered a moment, then smiled.

"You're a strange girl, you know?"

"So what, are you going to make fun of me, now?" she pouted, turning around.

Zero approached her, put a hand on her shoulder and replied with a soft tone: "No, I'm not. What I am going to do, is thank you for the name."

Nora turned, looked straight into his dark eye, and flung her arms around his neck, as his face neared hers and finally his lips touched her mouth.

She didn't know how long they stood there, but it was much darker as they finally split apart, starting to prepare their camp. Finally, they sat around a nice camping fire, and Nora started preparing her supper.

- - -

The next morning they woke up very early at the first light. Nora started preparing breakfast, and convinced Zero to have a cup of coffee, too.

While she was busy, Zero took a round shiny metallic sphere out of his bag and looked at it, thoughtfully.

"What is that?" Nora asked as she saw the strange object.

"A beacon." was the flat response.

"A what ?"

"It releases a faked power signature, a very strong one. It should lure the jinzouningen here."

"But... how?"

"Well, I hope they have a scanner like I do, so they'll sense the signal of the beacon and hopefully they'll be curious enough to come after it."

Nora gave him a strange look, then shrugged and went back to take care of the campfire. Zero smiled and touched a specific point on the metallic ball. A blue halo formed around the object. The boy stood up and walked a few paces away, then he leaped into the air, and suddenly thrust the beacon down with all his strength. The ball shot through the air like a bullet and dove deep into the soil, leaving only a small hole where it touched the ground. Zero landed on top of that hole and hid it with a nearby stone. Then he returned to the campfire.

- - -

Juurokugou suddenly froze. It was funny how the android stood there, handing the full plate over to Vegeta, staring into the empty room in front of him. As Vegeta's hand didn't get the expected plate, the Sayiajin Prince growled over to the mechanical man. Then he reached out an snapped the plate out of the android's hand, thereby breaking it.

"Bakayarou!" Bulma's voice joined the clink of the broken crockery. "What are you doing there? Those plates are valuable, you pig!"

"Shut up, wife. You'd better take care of your toy." He said waving over to Juurokugou. "Seems like he's broken."

As to emphasize what her father had just said, Bra waved a few times in front of the android's face with her hand.

"Hello? Juurokugou?" she said. Juuhachigou had a hard time trying not to laugh at the scene.

Then, suddenly, Juurokugou straightened his pose. "There is a very great power source out there." he announced.

"As I said: fix it or throw it away, 'tis broken" Vegeta commented.

"Oh, shut up you..." Bulma replied. "Where is this source, Juuroku-kun?" she asked the android.

"25.975 degrees to the south." the flat reply was. "Distance: 70 km."

"If we start now, we could be there in half an hour." Trunks announced.

"26.3 minutes." Juurokugou specified.

"Yes, let's go and take a look!" Bra cheered.

"I'll ready a flyer." Bulma said, leaving. Bra jumped up and followed her mother, as did Trunks and Juuhachigou. Vegeta kept sitting and went on consuming his breakfast. As he noticed that the cyborg didn't move, he asked "Aren't you going with them?"

"No, I don't want to fight, and I am no use for scientific research." He explained.

"As I said: broken." Vegeta muttered.

- - -

At the Gajetto compound, Chiara was clearing the table where she, her father and Juunanagou had just finished consuming a meager breakfast, as her scanner kicked in. She was so surprised, she almost dropped one of the glasses she was carrying. Falling out of his self-made character, Juunanagou noticed almost immediately that something was amiss with her and stood up.

"What's up?"

As Gajetto gave him a surprised look, Juunanagou set down abruptly and muttered "I don't want you to drop glass on the floor, it would be a pain having to collect all the splinters."

Gajetto smiled, then turned to Chiara, "What is it, darling?"

"I... I sense a great source of power, to the south. It is... huge!"

"Hm... this is strange, what could it be?" Gajetto considered.

"A new power generator someone built?" Juu replied with an annoyed tone.

"No, it is... somebody." The android replied, "I'm quite sure..."

"Interesting." Gajetto commented.

"Papa, may I go and check it out?" Chiara asked her father.

"Oh well, if you like, darling, sure." Gajetto smiled at the girl.

"Are you coming with me, Juu-kun?"

Juunanagou gave her a scowl. "I am not going to be carried around, you hear?"

"But we can take the car..."

"That slow bunch of scrap? No way..."

"That won't be necessary." Gajetto interrupted their discussion.

He stood up and took out a small, black box from one of the pockets of his lab coat.

"I think, Juunanagou, you have proven you are no longer a danger for this world." He announced, then pressing one of the buttons on the box.

A slight buzz was heard from the limiter around Juunanagou's neck, and the limiter fell down onto the table.

Juunanagou stared first at the limiter and than at the scientist, reaching up with one hand to touch the place where the metallic disc was hooked up to his neck. He sensed no sign of the limiter.

"I think, we can forgo that." Gajetto smiled.

Chiara flung her arms around Juunanagou and kissed his cheek. "I'm so happy for you, Juu-kun, now we can fly together."

"Who the hell told you I'm going to come with you? Why shouldn't I simply kill both of you for... that!" he said pointing at the limiter on the table.

Chiara smiled. "You won't, you're not evil. But you're curious."

At that, Juunanagou had no reply.

"Well then, I wish you a nice flight." Gajetto said as he left the dining room.

Chiara took hold of Juunanagou's arm and pulled him outside. Reluctantly the cyborg followed her. Outside, Chiara leaped into the morning sky laughing joyfully.

She turned around to face him, waving. "You still remember how to do this, don't you?" she joked.

"Why you..." Juu replied as he rushed towards her, up into the cold air. Chiara flew to the side, avoiding his approach, and then started towards the south, where she sensed the power source.

"Can you catch me?" she called back to him.

"I'll show you what flying is!" the boy replied, as he started the pursuit.

- - -

"I'll go have a look around, will you be okay over here?" Zero asked Nora, as they had finished their breakfast.

"Sure, don't worry." She smiled at him, then she tenderly kissed his cheek, and went inside the tent.

Zero looked after her, then turned around and went into the woods.

He walked very far, until he reached the western borders of the forest. There he sat down on a wide flat stone, and memories started flooding his mind, memories of old wounds, deep within his soul...

The smoke. That dark black smoke, towering the ruins of what had been a nice town only two hours ago, like a giant, laughing over the destruction and despair...

That little boy, not more than eight, maybe nine years old, was running through the devastated streets, towards what had been his home. He just had rounded the corner, as he saw two figures standing in front of his house, and the next instant, the house was blown away. Like a castle in the sand, washed away by the flow, leaving nothing but memories behind. Then he heard one of the figures laughing, and both turned around, heading towards the next building.

With tears in his eyes, blinded by hate and despair, the little boy ran towards one of those figures, crying "Why, why" all the time, and hammering his tiny fists on the woman. Then the boy looked up, tears running down his cheeks, and he met the cold look of two tip-tilted, pale eyes.

"How annoying" the woman said, as she grabbed the child's neck, heaved him up, looked at him like he was nothing but an old toy, and then threw him onto one of the ruined walls of the destroyed building. The speed with which the boy raced through the air was amazing, and the pain was enormous, as he hit the wall. He passed out.

In the evening, as the two beings known as the jinzouningen had long left the town, an older man came to the ruins of that house, and found an almost dead child, lying in the debris.

- - -

As Nora heard loud noises outside, she thought Zero was already back, and was much surprised to see a flyer landing in the clearing. A strange symbol, two concentric C's, labeled it's side. A few people came out, lead by a young girl, about the age of 16, who was holding a strange device and pointing it in many directions.

"The signal comes from over there." the girl said, pointing next to Nora's tent.

Another girl, most certainly the younger sister of the first one, waved towards Nora "Hello there!"

Instinctively, Nora waved back, then, suddenly, she froze. Her eyes fell on the blond woman behind the girl... that hair, and those eyes! The same eyes, like five years ago...

Nora rushed forwards, snatching the knife from her belt, she threw herself against the woman. Hollering what was a fierce battle-cry for her, she released all the anger that had grown within her over many years of grief: "Jinzouningen! "

Juuhachigou sighed "Not again..." as the foreign girl ran towards her. She made no attempt to avoid her, nor to defend herself. But Nora never reached her, Trunks put himself in her way, grabbing her wrist and stopping her race.

"Stop that, now!" He demanded.

Nora tried to free herself, beating her free hand against the man's chest again and again.

"Let me go, she's the jinzouningen, she killed my mama, let me go!" She cried.

The group looked at the girl with apprehension. The fury, with which that simple girl struggled against the firm grip of Trunks, although it was clear she had no chance to free herself, spoke of deep feelings, hate, despair, and it is hard to come up against those feelings. Who knows how long that girl would have gone on, if Juuhachigou would not have interfered.

"Let her go, Trunks."

The man turned around to face the cyborg. He obviously wanted to oppose, but the look in her face suffocated every protest of his. He loosened his grip, releasing Nora's wrist. The girl almost immediately jumped past the half Sayiajin and flung her knife on Juuhachigou's chest. A shredding tone announced the breaking of the blade. Though, the girl continued stabbing the jinzouningen with the stub that was left of her knife's blade. She only stopped, as she realized, that except a few cuts through the fabric of the cyborg's clothes, she wasn't achieving anything. Despair appeared in her gaze, as she dropped to her knees, weeping.

Bulma kneeled next to the girl, and put a hand on her shoulders. The girl shrugged her hand off and kept on crying, dropping the broken knife and hiding her face with both hands.

"Maybe I have some sedative on the flyer" Bulma said, as she stood up and headed towards the vehicle.

Marron looked up in the skies, considering all the hurt she had already seen; she hated that feeling of helplessness, but there was nothing she could do for that girl... Suddenly, she noticed a spot in the sky. Then there were two of them, and they were approaching very fast. Before she could tell the others, Bra too had noticed them and adverted the others.

"What is it?" Trunks asked. "Juu-chan, can you see it."

The cyborg widened her eyes, as she recognized the second spot. Her features straightened, as she muttered "This can't be... he... Vegeta..."

"Dad? What is he--"

Trunks voice faded, as he too recognized the figure.

"Oji-san" Marron muttered, as Chiara and Juunanagou landed in the clearing, not far from the flyer.

"Who are those people ?" Chiara asked.

"Nobody I want to meet, come on, lets go." the boy answered, turning around.

"You know them?"

Juunanagou stopped, then replied over his shoulder "I did... long ago."

"Very well, seems like we're complete, now!" A foreign voice announced. Everyone turned into the direction it came from, except for Juuhachigou, who still stared towards her brother.

A young man was standing in the middle of the clearing. He was holding a small, flat metallic cylinder and hooked it up onto his belt. Then he activated that device, and a pattern of thin lines, seemingly made of bright light, started flowing around him, waving a perfect sphere around him. He leaped up into the air and loosened the halberd from his back, firmly holding it with both hands.

"Everyone except the jinzouningen may leave, I only want them." he announced.

"Who are you?" Trunks asked.

"My name is not important, now leave, I'm not going to care of anybody who gets in my way, while I destroy them."

"You won't destroy anybody here!" Bra replied.

"That remains to be seen." the boy answered flatly.

"Stop that!" Juuhachigou finally spoke. "I don't want to fight you, I don't want to cause any more death. I know I can't make up anything my brother and I did to you and all the others years ago, and I know there's no point in apologizing... but I don't want to fight you!"

"As you wish" the stranger commented, as he flew forwards and his leg connected with the woman's face, throwing her right backwards onto the flyer. Bulma was just coming out of it, as the jinzouningen crashed through the cockpit. Trunks leaped forwards, grabbing his mother and flying her to a safe distance.

"Kaa-san!" Marron shouted, as she jumped towards the attacker. She whirled around and thrust her leg on his back , only to see how the line pattern around him blocked her off.

"A shield!" Bra recognized.

"Out of my way, girl!" Zero demanded, as he flung the lower end of his halberd around, hitting her on her stomach. Marron gasped and fell aside, caught by Bra just in time before hitting the ground.

Juuhachigou stepped out of the destroyed Flyer, only to get another kick, straight on her face, which sent her again flying through the clearing.

"Juunanagou, we must stop him!" Chiara exclaimed. But Juu grabbed her wrist.

"No, we won't interfere, you hear?" He demanded.

Zero flew over to where Juuhachigou had landed, digging a small crater into the ground. Suddenly Trunks stepped in the cyborgs way, protecting Juuhachi from the next blow, which so caught him right on his chest. Trunks fell to his knees, choking blood, as the stranger floated over him, looking down pleased.

"Stop interfering, you can't avoid the unavoidable!"

Juuhachi stood up and jumped into the air.

"Very well, if you don't want to come to reason... I'll beat reason into you!"

With all her strength, she threw herself against the aggressor, hitting his shield again and again... without any effect. The enemy grinned, then struck his halberd downwards, hitting her on the shoulder, and throwing her down on the ground again.

"You're pathetic."

"Then take this!" the woman shouted, as she shot a mighty energy blast upwards, fully hitting the boy. Everybody stared at the stranger, as the shot seemingly passed through his shield and himself without leaving a sign, as if the target was made of pure air!

"Incredible!" Bulma commented from the safe distance Trunks had put her down, then she took the analyzer she had used to find the unknown energy source and started examining the stranger with it.

Juuhachigou stared at her foe, with disbelief written plainly on her face. The boy laughed.

"Now let me show you, what a real blast is." he replied. He straightened his left arm, holding the fist towards her. A red halo appeared around the metallic bands wrapped around his forearm. Slowly, the halo went brighter and brighter.

"Go to hell!" Zero shouted, as he fired his blast down.

"Nooo!" Chiara shouted, as she pushed Juuhachigou aside. The blast hit her straight in her chest, throwing her down. There she remained, lying motionless, as the EMP had knocked her out.

"What? She's an android?" Zero wondered.

Suddenly a terrible battle-cry arouse behind him, and as Zero turned around, he met the scowl of Juunanagou, who started raining an unceasing sequence of blows on his shield, forcing the cyborg to retreat. But even the jinzouningen 's fury had no chance against that device, so Zero sent him, too, down with a well placed strike.

The group gathered next to the remainders of the flyer, including Juunanagou carrying the recovering Chiara. Zero was floating two dozen meters ahead, waiting for there next move, amusement in his gaze.

"We have to break through that shield!" Trunks explained.

"But how?" Marron asked.

"Yatta!" Bulma cried form the border of the clearing, then started running towards the group.

"Kaa-san, it is too dangerous here--"

"Oh shut up you!" the girl interrupted the man. "I married a Sayiajin Prince and gave birth to two half Sayiajins, I can take care of my self!" Then she pointed on her analyzer "I got it, I know how his shield works. It is a kind of warp-shield, it bends the space around him, so an energy-blast is simply bent apart, and therefor seems to pass through him!"

The group considered a moment. Juunanagou had an annoyed expression, Marron and Bra were puzzled, for they had not understood really everything Bulma had said. Only Trunks and Juuhachigou seamed to be still catching up with the genius.

"So we can't overload his shield with straight blasts." Trunks concluded.

And I was a hand grenade
That never stopped exploding
You were automatic and as hollow as the "o" in god

I'm never gonna be the one, for you
I'm never gonna save the world, from you

"The only way is a perfectly synchronized attack, from two opposite points. We have to stress his absorbing shield that way until it breaks apart" she explained. "Only Juunanagou and I can handle this"

Juunanagou looked over to the boy. Why did I want to stop him? Aw, right, it's him or me...

"That sounds logical" he said finally, "let's move." With a jump he rose into the air and headed towards his enemy, without even glancing at Juuhachigou.

"Juu-kun" Chiara called after him, as Juuhachigou also started towards the creature, "be careful -- please?"

The two jinzouningen faced Zero. Without a word, Juunanagou trust his fists forwards, shooting at the boy with all his regained force. Just the same did Juuhachigou, flying exactly at the other side of their enemy. Then the two cyborgs started flying around the target, in a perfectly coordinated way, staying always at two opposite points. The cyborg seemed not very impressed by what was going on around him, knowing that his shield would provide sufficient protection.

But that was wrong! Slowly, the shield started to show some irregularities in the complicated light-pattern. Line by line, the order became chaos, and the shield lost more and more of it's stability. Without showing any sign of weariness, the jinzouningen continued their synchronous attack.

"Let's get into position" Trunks said to the others, "as soon as the shield is broken, we should attack him all together!"

The fighters started off, arranging themselves around the creature. Bulma and Chiara stayed next to the flyer, looking after them.

Suddenly, a loud crackling tore the air apart, as the shield collapsed. Immediately the other warriors joined the jinzouningen's attack. Chiara watched from the safe distance where she stood, how an enormous cloud of dust raised where the cyborg was standing just before. As the cloud faded, a big crater was all that remained of the being, together with a little puddle of a red liquid... probably blood.

The fighters watched the crater a moment, then headed back to where Chiara and Bulma were standing. As soon as they had all landed, Juunanagou went straight to Chiara, holding his back to the others, and said firmly "Let's go, I'm done here. Your father's probably eager to put that collar back on me."

"Juu-kun, why would you say something like that?" Chiara asked with hurt eyes.

'Cause I'm full of hate? 'Cause I want to get as far as possible from here -- from her? he thought, gritting his teeth to not say anything of that aloud.

Chiara didn't move.

"Then I'll go fir--" suddenly a firm grip took hold of his left wrist. It was strong, very strong, although he felt that the hand holding him back was only a small, elegant one... a hand he knew very well, like it's owner. Without turning he demanded "Let me go, Juuhachigou!"

"Juunanagou... please, I need to talk to you..."

Juunanagou whirled hissing "What if I don't want to talk to you?"

For the first time he looked into her eyes, and so did she. He scowled at her as fierce as he could, and though it hit her hard, she didn't retreat.

"I won't let you go, not unless you listen to me. Please, I'm your sister..."

"Right! And I'm your brother! You'd better remember that before you try to turn me into dust." he hissed at her.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean what you did to my copy, the android I sent to scout the defenses of the purple-boy." He nodded towards Trunks. "You didn't have any problems vaporizing his body after he had been cut apart. You even turned him around, so you could look into his -- into my eyes, didn't you?"

For a moment that seamed to last forever, they stood without moving, without breathing, as if time itself had decided to stop right there, and never go on again.

Then Juunanagou's expression changed. He smirked at his sister as only he was able to. He raised his right arm straight to the sky and said "Very well, sister." Energy started flooding from his right fist, and immediately all the other warriors got into stance. "I'll make you remember."

Juunanagou was in many ways comparable to a feline. He had not only their stealthy movement, but also his behavior somehow resembled theirs. Like a cat, he was very curious, but also very proud. And like a tiger, who's been encircled, he now passed to offensive.

Suddenly he smashed his fist down.

Trunks immediately jumped forward, but stopped abruptly right behind Juuhachigou.

Juuhachigou herself stood there, wondering. She didn't feel any pain, couldn't sense any damage to her artificial body, and she was still holding her brother's arm. She looked at her hand, and yes, she was still holding the left wrist of Juunana -- blood? Artificial blood was dripping from the wrist. But how could that be? The grip wasn't strong enough to harm him. She followed the blood upward until she saw it: Juunanagou's arm had been severed below the shoulder!

His hand, soaked with artificial blood, was right there, where an terrible cut divided the limb from his body. She stared terrified at the severed limb in her hand.

Juunana was still smirking, as if he didn't feel anything. He upreared, still looking at his sister.

"Keep it. As a souvenir. So maybe next time you'll remember me."

Then he turned around. Only Chiara was able to see how he closed his eyes in a desperate attempt to hold back his tears. It wasn't the pain of the lost arm... it was a bigger, deeper pain, an even greater loss he was weeping for: the loss of a sister. But those were the last thoughts she could make, before the shock of what she had just witnessed took her over completely. As Juunanagou leaped into the air, passing beyond her and heading towards the Gajetto compound, she dropped to the ground, sitting there and clasping both hands over her mouth, trying not to scream out aloud.

Juuhachigou stood there petrified. The first who was able to move was Trunks, who laid his hand on Juuhachigou's shoulder. As she felt the familiar contact, she dropped the limb and turned around, thrusting her face into his chest, crying all the tears a jinzouningen had.

Marron was standing with her eyes closed, trying to stay calm. Bra was staring at the arm, now lying on the ground, with an expression of deep disgust. Bulma headed towards Chiara, crouching between the girl and the severed limb, in order to prevent her from seeing it, and tried to calm her down. Even Nora was shocked.

To be continued...

Stay tuned for part two and see how Juunanagou is going to deal with what just happened. See also a new foe emerging and sending our heroes through hell... especially Juu-kun and Chiara! Beware the second and maybe darkest part of 'Mechanical Animals', coming (hopefully) soon!