Author note: Let me outline what you're in for if you embark on this tale. It's set in the Mirai timeline (mostly) and although it starts off a bit grim, this a tale has a bit of something for everyone - feels and funnies, sci-fi and smut, drama and action. I know a lot of people read the first chapter and go no further, but those that do tend to be hooked. If you do start reading it and give up though, I'd still be interested to hear about it and know why (for next time). Chuck it in a review, or PM me if you're shy.
Yes, Vegeta is a major character in this story, although you wouldn't know by the first few chapters. Give it a chance.
27/5/15 - This story was conceived and written before Battle of Gods came out, and before Akira Toriyama un-retired himself to begin retconning his DB universe again. This story instead works with many elements from Dragonball GT (though I don't think it's necessary to be familiar with GT to read this story), although it looks like all GT is going to be steamrolled out of possibility by AT himself with the announcement of the new series of Dragonball Super. So please forgive it that.
A disclaimer: I don't own these characters, none of us here do, but I do really, really like them! Please accept that I mean no harm and no loss of income or IP degradation!
Bulma flipped up the welding mask and examined the join she just made. Straight enough, neat enough. Strong enough? According to her calculations, yes, and then some, but she'd never built a time machine before. It was the stuff inside that really counted though. She still didn't know how she was going to safely test the time drive.
A discreet electronic beeping came from the proximity alarm she had jimmied up in the underground capsule house. She calmly, but quickly, swapped her welding torch and mask for the home-made energy blaster on the bench and hurried up the tunnel. Making her way through the ruined building above their refuge, she took a place in the shadows where she could see through a crack in the wall. The blaster was useless against the androids. Gohan had tried it on them, and it barely slowed them down. If it was the androids who'd set off the proximity alarm, she would most likely be dead in a few minutes, but they weren't the only danger in this torn up world – desperate people could do desperate things in the effort to stay alive.
She heard the rush of a body flying in fast, and then, with an impact that she felt shake the ground under her, a blond, glowing man landed, throwing up a cloud of dust. Gohan! And so where was Trunks? She ran outside, towards the figure. He was down on one knee, head bowed, but where was his orange gi? He was wearing Trunk's grey and purple sweats. 'Gohan?' she cried out, alarmed.
He lifted his face and confusion stopped her in her tracks. It wasn't Gohan at all. The contorted, tear streaked face was her own son's, but made unfamiliar by the blonde eyebrows and hair, and bright aqua eyes. He was a super Saiyan! Her own flesh and blood had become one of those god-like warriors. She gaped.
'He's gone Mom!' he said in a cracking voice.
Bulma couldn't leap frog her brain past the sight of his transformation. 'Who?' she asked.
'Gohan!' he shouted. 'They killed him! He sacrificed himself to save me!' He smashed his fist into the ground, cracking it and sending Bulma staggering from the ripple that ran through the earth, then he screamed; a terrible sound of a soul torn up by pain and shame.
Bulma stared at her son while the reluctant understanding of what he was saying to her rolled over her.
'No, not Gohan!'
She found herself on her knees in the dirt. The edges of her vision dimmed and for a few seconds she struggled to breath in, as if she'd forgotten how to.
Oh god, it couldn't have happened! How could it? She felt shock and disbelief even though his death should not be surprising to her – she had been expecting it and dreading it for years. Or she thought she had, but now she realised that she hadn't really believed that it would happen, just as she had never believed that Goku could die until the heart virus took him, or her parents could die when they insisted on staying in the Capsule compound after the androids arrived. She hadn't believed that Piccolo could die either, and with him, Kami and Shenron, the dragon whose wishes made death a two-way door.
Gohan was her last link to the life she had lived before the androids appeared and took it all away; her companion and saviour in more scrapes than she could count; a father figure to Trunks; a second son to her; her listening ear and drinking buddy when the memories and the despair grew too powerful to suffer alone; he was her last link to Goku, and above all, he was the best hope for the people of the Earth to be delivered from the scourge of the androids. The only thing she feared more than his death was her son's.
But now Gohan was gone.
Trunks's screams cut through her own thoughts, and she staggered up and towards him, obeying her maternal urge to protect her child from pain. She hesitated before she wrapped her arms around him – golden flames of chi licked over his skin and the dust danced in a circle around him – when she did he was hot to the touch, but not burning. He was stiff in her arms, muscles rigid. She looked down at his locked fists and saw that his hands were bleeding – he must've pushed through the skin with his own fingernails.
'Trunks! I know, I know!' She struggled to find something to comfort and calm him, but she really couldn't. 'Oh God, Gohan!'
Trunks was gasping in ragged breaths now. Bulma felt she could hardly breath herself; her throat was tight to choking from the sobs that were stuck inside her. She knew the only way to get rid of them was to let them out, and the dam broke with a wail, tears falling and falling. The gold light around Trunks evaporated, and he slumped against his mother, giving way to sobs too, and he clung to her.
With the crushing weight of grief continuing to grow, a familiar panic came to her; she didn't know how she would live through this loss. The rational part of her knew that she would because she had lived through all the other loses, but right now it didn't seem possible.
'I'm sorry Trunks,' she cried into his lavender hair. She was sorry that he would have to suffer this pain when he was still only fourteen. Like all the humans that spent their lives hiding from the androids, he had known people that died, but no-one who had meant as much to him as Gohan. Not Gohan. What were they to do now?
It seemed like an age before the painful crying subsided into tearful weeping. Bulma couldn't keep her mind from wandering down a painful memory lane that took her past all her lost friends and lovers. If this were the pre-android days they'd be flying back to the Capsule Compound by now for some sympathy and home baking from her Mom and ingenious technical support from her Dad, planning how they were going to cheat death for their friends yet again. Yamcha would be shaken and angry, Tien would be swearing revenge, Goku would be full of hope and determination and Krillin would be cheering them up, making them laugh in spite of their shock. Krillin was who she missed the most at times like this.
Her mind returned to the dragonballs. They had all turned to useless stone when the androids killed Piccolo, taking Kami with him. It shouldn't have taken her by surprise, as it had happened once before. She worried again if she should be making a space ship instead of a time machine. If they could find New Namek maybe the Namekians would allow them to use their dragonballs to turn back time? Or defeat the androids? Bring the dead back to life? But the space ships were her father's design, based off Kami's Namek craft, and the navigation system was lifted entirely from the Saiyan space pods, and none of those pods or ships survived. She was semi-confident that she could build her own design herself, but she was damned sure that she couldn't create a navigation system from thin air. Plus she didn't have the materials. The time machine she had designed was much smaller, with a lot less components, and even then it had taken years to find, pilfer and salvage what she needed. No, there would be no dragonballs, and the dead would remain dead.
Would Gohan be with them all now in the afterlife? She imagined him being welcomed into the next dimension by Goku and all the Z-fighters, and felt an unexpected stab of jealousy.
Trunks stirred in her arms. 'He died because of me,' he said into her shoulder, his voice tangling up into tears again.
'What happened?' she asked.
'He sensed the Androids killing people, and I followed him. I thought- I thought I was ready to fight them, that we could defeat them for good if we teamed up.'
'Because you're a, a super Saiyan now?'
Trunks shook his head, his fist twisting the sleeve of her skivvy angrily, growling in rage and frustration, which made him sound so much like his father, that she jumped in fright.
'No! That happened afterwards, when it was too late already! When I got out there all I did was get in his way. I should have listened to him when he said that I wasn't ready! He had to save me. I got knocked out, and when I came too he was dead. I'm sorry Mom, I'm so sorry!'
'Oh Trunks!' She was angry, but she couldn't tell him that. His boyish over-estimation had gotten the Earth's best warrior killed. Gohan had never been like that – if anything he sometimes under estimated his abilities. Trunks's eagerness to fight, and getting in over his head was more like his father, and that was something she'd always been worried about, even before Gohan started training him. Although, if she was totally honest with herself, he might have got some of that headstrong character from her too.
'Where is he, Trunks?'
He looked up at her, with his handsome boy's features smeared with dirt and tears and blood, and his chin wobbled. He took a deep breath and swallowed before answering.
'I left him in an old cabin outside of Pinktown. I thought I should take him to Paozu Mountain.'
Bulma nodded. 'Paozu Mountain, that's exactly right.'
'Will you help me bury him Mom?'
She made a noise, halfway between a laugh and a cry. "Of course Trunks! And we'll tell the Resistance groups, they'll want to be there too to say goodbye to someone who's done so much for all of them.'
Trunks brows came together at those words, and his face filled with anxiety.
'Mom,' whispered Trunks. 'I'm scared.'
She didn't bother to ask why. She was scared too.
'I'm not strong enough to fight the androids,' he added.
Bulma felt a strange hollow feeling inside her, and even the ground felt hollow, like a thin crust that might drop away from under her. Of course – now Gohan was dead, fourteen year old Trunks was the strongest fighter in the resistance. She didn't want it to happen, but he would have to fight the androids sooner or later, and alone. They'd be looking for him.
'Trunks,' she said, taking him by both shoulders and leaning down so that she could look him in the eyes. 'Not yet. You're not strong enough yet! But you will be! In the meantime, we've got to hide, we've got to stay low. One day you will be strong enough, and you'll destroy them. You're the son of the Prince of all Saiyans, a born warrior. You're all that and you're clever too.'
She fixed his tear-streaked face with a look of absolute conviction. She believed what she said – she had to. Trunks's face relaxed slightly, reassured by his mother's confidence.
'Yeah, well maybe I got that from my mother's side,' he said, the edge of his mouth lifting a little.
How would Trunks gain the strength and skill that he needed to though, without anyone of similar power to train with? She was no martial artist, but she'd hung around with them most of her life, so she knew that one didn't become a world beater by practicing alone. Even Vegeta had had the gravity chamber to pit himself against. Oh, why hadn't she made a space ship? It would have been perfect – send Trunks into space to train safely in high gravity. The time machine was a noble idea, but it was for helping others, not themselves, and it wasn't going to help them out of this predicament. Or was it? She was suddenly struck by a perfect plan. Not only could they warn another timeline about the approaching apocalypse, she could send Trunks into the past to be trained by the other Z warriors out of harm's way. She smiled as her hope was rekindled.
'What is it?' asked Trunks, nearly smiling in response. Then he froze. 'Listen!'
Very, very faintly, she heard the discreet digital beeps of the proximity alarm.
'They must have followed me!' In one movement Trunks snatched her up and they were in the air.
'The time machine!' she said, panicking at the thought of leaving it behind. She wished she hadn't though, as Trunks immediately whirled around.
'Of course! We've got to take it!'
'No, no Trunks, forget it, we don't have time!' she said as they touched down outside the ruined office block again.
He dropped her and ran towards the tunnel leading down to the capsule house door, yelling over his shoulder 'But it'll only take a few seconds!'
'Then just grab the drive, it's the most important part!' She looked back over her shoulder and leapt in fright – the two figures were already visible in the sky. 'Trunks!' she screamed, 'they're here!' She ran to the tunnel entrance and collided with her son coming back up.
'I've got it!' He held up the heavy dark metal box that housed Bulma's most radical invention yet – the time warp drive.
'We can't go out the front,' she whispered, 'they're already here.'
Trunk's eyes went round with fear. She could tell he was mortally terrified of meeting them again, as was she. They ran as quietly as they could through the broken dividing walls of their above-ground refuge. It was an old office block, with it's lower floors buried deep in silt from a massive flood that androids caused years ago when they destroyed the dam upriver from Salmon Town. The capsule house they lived in was buried in what used to be the atrium and reception area.
They had barely got round the corner though when Bulma heard a young man's voice from the front of the building. It was relaxed, and playful, and cruel.
'Do you suppose the little mousy is hiding in here? Little mousy?'
Bulma and Trunks froze in place as 17's voice rang around the empty spaces of the building.
'Come out you little purple-haired punk, we've got a game we'd like to play with you!'
Bulma turned her head towards the voice and realised she could see the speaker through a penny sized hole in the crumbling wall. She hoped to god he couldn't see her. He was a slim youth, with long dark hair and a red bandanna round his neck. He certainly looked not much older than seventeen, and his face was beautiful and serious, like a male catwalk model's. When he turned away they started creeping again, bent low, but were immediately brought up short, by a second voice, this one much closer and on the other side of them.
'I really don't know why you care so much,' it said. This one was female, bored and petulant. 18 must have come into the building from the other side. Trunks looked wildly at his mother, and Bulma looked around for other ways out of the building. There were only small windows on the sides of the building where they were trapped now, and none near them. There was one a floor up, if they could get there. She pointed up.
'Don't you think this is fun? First Gohan and then his little friend?' asked 17.
'No, this is getting boring. We're just flying around now, guessing where he might be. I wanted to do my nails this afternoon, but now I can't because you blew up the cosmetic store. That was the last intact cosmetic store I've seen in a year.'
'Like that wouldn't have been boring. If we hadn't stopped in Pinktown for you to look at nail polish we wouldn't have lost his trail, would we?'
'You're so selfish you know. We never do what I want to do.'
'Blah, blah, blah. You seemed to be having fun drop-kicking Gohan this morning, correct me if I'm wrong.'
'Huh!' she snorted, coming at last into view, leaping down onto the dirt floor of the atrium.
'Well, what have we here?' said 17, perking up. 'A proper little hiding hole!'
Bulma realised with a sinking heart that they had found the buried capsule house.
'Come out with your hands up!' said 17's mocking voice. Then there was a sudden, loud but muffled whumping sound accompanied by the shrieking of metal being torn apart.
Bulma wrapped her arms around Trunks's neck and whispered 'Go now!' into his ear. Trunks gathered her up and flew the short length of the corridor and through the ragged hole in the ceiling. Coming upon the window they were dismayed to see the glass was still intact.
'What did you do that for?' they heard 17's voice come from below. 'That wasn't at all sporting.'
'You blew up my fun, so I blew up yours.'
There was another small explosion, probably something from the laboratory overheating – the welding cylinder? When the noise came Trunks made a decision, and kicked out the window in two swift movements, and darted through. Before they were quite clear of the building Bulma caught 18's suddenly interested voice:
'Did you hear that?'
Author's Note: The events I describe in this early part of the story do not align completely to the events in the History of Trunks special, and there is a reason for that, so bear it in mind when reading them.
For those of you who start wondering when Vegeta will get some actual screen time...keep reading! Chapter 3 I swear, you'll get to meet the jerk himself! First I decided it was necessary to examine Future Bulma's world. Also, I've tried to write with with American readers in mind, but you may notice me falling back on colloquialisms and spelling from the old empire, so sorry if that's confusing, but it can't be helped. I'm not actually American.