"I…" Krillen was speechless. How could Eighteen see him? Had the invisibility worn off? Maybe that potion had a time limit! And now he was staring into the steely blue eyes of a very angry Android.
Said Android tapped her foot impatiently and crossed her arms. "Well?" Krillen scrambled to his feet.
"How can you see me?"
"What do you mean how can I see you! You're right here!" she said, looking at him oddly and with a hint of exasperation in her voice.
"But… Agatha made a potion—" he clamped a hand over his mouth. Realization dawned in Eighteen's eyes.
"I see," she said slowly. "How did you get here? And why did you come?"
Krillen looked around. "Can we discuss this elsewhere? People might think you're crazy, if I'm still invisible that is."
Without a word, Eighteen grabbed Krillen by his collar and leapt straight up into the tree. Krillen stifled a yell of surprise. She settled into the branches of the apple tree. Mere inches separated their bodies; Krillen blushed at the close proximity while Eighteen looked coolly into his eyes. "Start talking."
"It's like this," Krillen whispered. "A couple days ago, Goku and Vegeta returned to their homes to find ChiChi and Bulma gone. The only thing that explained their disappearance was short, ominous notes that sounded strangely similar. Vegeta freaked out when he realized he couldn't sense Bulma's ki. So we all gathered up the Dragon Balls and wished to be taken to Bulma and ChiChi. Shenlong brought us here. The first person we met was Aggie and she explained the whole situation and then gave us a special potion to make us invisible to all women except her. We've been here looking after Bulma and ChiChi ever since."
"So you've been spying on them?" Eighteen asked with a raised brow.
"Uh… yeah. I guess," Krillen mumbled uncomfortably. Eighteen looked thoughtful.
"So what are you going to do now? Bulma and ChiChi have left the compound."
"We know. Vegeta and Goku followed them." Eighteen laughed derisively.
"What are they going to do, protect them? They can handle themselves." Krillen nodded.
"We, uh, learned that." Eighteen looked thoughtful again.
"Uh, are you going to kill me?" Krillen asked tentatively.
"Not yet. Take me to the others."
Vegeta and Goku hovered in the air and watched as ChiChi and Bulma made their way through the forest toward Ziven's compound, where they going to let themselves be captured.
"Kakarott, I blame all this on your harpy. It's she who made my wife crazy!"
Goku scratched his head. "I think they've always been like this and we just didn't know it. I mean, isn't it crazy how they were best friends before you, or even I, met them? And wow can they fight!"
"I think it was more eye-opening for me than you, Kakarott. Everyone knows your wife is a martial artist. I didn't think the woman could ever do more than slap and pull hair."
Goku laughed. "Yeah she really took us by surprise there. All that shrieking and running away just used to be an act."
Vegeta's face grew serious. "Kakarott, what about their other skills? That elemental stuff they changed into. What do you make of that?"
Goku thought for a second. "We're in a different world, a different dimension almost. This is where Shenlong lives. We always wondered where he went once the Dragon Balls disappeared. Obviously ChiChi and Bulma are from this world, but beyond that they're something even more special. I think they were called "Guardians." So I guess they're something like Kami, beings that are tied to the Earth and destined to protect it. So that means they each represent the Earth elements. ChiChi is fire. Bulma is water. We know that ChiChi's mother was a guardian, I'm guessing she was Earth, and Bulma's mother is air."
Vegeta snorted. "That sounds about right. It always seemed like that woman had nothing but air between her ears anyway."
Goku laughed. "Yeah, but I think we've learned not to let appearances fool us. I mean who would've though that Bulma's mother would have purposefully entrapped Dr. Briefs? That does take some cunning." He grew quiet. "Vegeta, do you feel hurt that Bulma didn't tell you what she really is?"
Vegeta sighed. "Yes and no, Kakarott. I don't like the woman keeping things from me, but as you said, they are Guardians of this world, and part of protecting it is keeping it a secret. Plus, from what we've seen of this tribe's relationship to men, I don't think that is something our wives would want to advertise to men or have them know about us. Women are funny creatures, Kakarott." His gaze traveled downward to the two creatures lightly stepping through the forest.
"Alright Bulma, what's our plan?" ChiChi asked. "Are we just going to walk in and say, 'Take me! Here I am!"
Bulma laughed. "That's a bit too obvious and Ziven will know something is up. I mean, he did use to be our playmate and friend. We can't underestimate him. No, we need to make it look like we were spying and they caught us. We'll have to make something give us away, I just don't know what yet."
"How about we go streaking past the guards?" ChiChi suggested with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
"That'll just make Ziven mad because he'll think we're not taking him seriously. Plus, we're mothers now we can't do that kind of stuff anymore."
"You did it with me last year at Halloween!"
"That was different," Bulma countered.
"How so?" ChiChi retorted.
"Umm… well 1) we were drunk, 2) we wore masks and 3) we did it in front of our husbands and friends NOT the ENEMY who wants to kill us!"
Up above, Goku whispered, "That was them?" Vegeta was red in the face.
"Everyone saw my woman naked!" he fumed.
"And of course," Bulma continued. "We have to take in account what would happen after they caught us with our clothes off. Exactly what happened to Nezumi." She looked blatantly at ChiChi.
"Alright, alright," ChiChi grumbled. "I was only kidding anyway. So what's the plan?"
"I'm WORKING on it!" Bulma yelled. "Can we get there first?"
"No," ChiChi retorted. "A good strategist always has a plan before they approach or engage the enemy."
"Oh, shut up," Bulma griped. ChiChi smirked, then stopped short. Her body was tense.
"Do you see that?" she said.
Bulma peered ahead. "That's smoke in the distance. Must be Ziven's camp. Let's go." She marched on.
"And we're still without a plan," Chichi said under her breath.
"I HEARD that!"
"So Krillen, what'd you call this meeting for?" Yamcha drawled as he crossed his arms and leaned against a tree trunk. Krillen had gathered all the Z Warriors for a meeting in the woods. They all looked at the former monk expectantly. Krillen gulped.
"Umm, well, there's been sort of a development, guys," he stuttered nervously.
"What sort of development?" Gohan asked curiously. He was perched atop a tree trunk. Krillen scratched his head in a very Goku-like manner.
"This development," said a familiar voice. Eighteen stepped out from the brush. Yamcha's jaw dropped.
"She can SEE us?" he gaped. Tien looked startled as Chao-zu flew up high into the tree.
"Yes, I can. Krillen told me why you came. Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? This tribe is about to go to war."
Tien nodded. "We know. We've been debating about that ourselves. We'd like to help fight, if that's possible."
"Yeah," Gohan added. "These are my mom's people. We've got to help them."
"I don't know if you can," Eighteen started to say slowly.
"Why not?" Yamcha interrupted. "It's not like we're rank novices." He laughed.
"Because the women won't want your help," Eighteen said. "Remember, the whole reason Agatha made you invisible was because you'd be killed if you were caught. Just because you want to fight doesn't mean they will want you to. They are protecting their lives and their homes, while you are not in any such way connected. The only person they might even consider is Gohan since he's the son of ChiChi. The rest of you they'd rather kill as an insurance move, to prevent you from joining the other side."
Everyone stared at her.
"Is there any way they'll consider it?" Gohan asked. Eighteen looked at him.
"I will talk with the Queen," she said. "I am new here, so I don't have much influence. I will see what I can do."
"Umm, Eighteen," Krillen said. "How did you get here?"
Eighteen shrugged. "I needed a place to go. And this is where I came," she said vaguely. "Stay here. I'll be back." She turned around and disappeared into the brush.
"So, what now?" ChiChi whispered to Bulma. They were both crouched side by side on a branch in a large oak tree. In front of them stood a tall wall made of large wooden logs sharpened into spikes at the top. On the ground and to their left they could see two guards holding spears posted at a certain section of the wall, probably concealing the gate. They could hear the sounds of activity within the camp and see smoke rising amidst the various tents and buildings.
"Let me think a second," Bulma protested.
"You've had an hour to think! With brains like yours it should have only taken a second!" ChiChi said. Bulma turned red in the face. ChiChi sighed. "I'm sorry, this whole thing has us both on edge. What if we scaled the walls in an attempt to spy on them, and then let them catch us?"
"Sounds good to me," said Bulma, relieved that the pressure was off. "Let's go." They both crouched and sprung to the ground. ChiChi got up, dusted the dirt off her skirt and turned around, coming face to face with the pointy edge of a spear.
"What the-" Bulma had just stood up when several more spears appeared in both their faces. Bulma gave ChiChi a wry glance. "This works too."
ChiChi stifled a laugh.
"Hey Vegeta, why did you just give up our wives?" Goku asked as they were led inside the camp, spears pointed at their back.
Vegeta smirked. "Watch and learn, Kakarott. Watch and learn."
So… a chapter a year isn't so bad, is it?
Okay maybe it is. I promise I will update another chapter before the summer is out. Thanks for all your reviews and your wonderful patience! Spitfire Maguire