Chapter 4: Captive

Four hours had elapsed since the break of dawn. Yamcha dragged his exhausted body out of the lapping waves looking like a miserable, drenched cat. Bulma snapped out of her dazed state, and bolted to the shoreline to help the ex-bandit find his feet.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

Yamcha shook his mane. His eyes searched her face for a moment, as if he were imploring what had happened in his absence. "I felt the Earth tremble," he muttered with a horrified knowing appearance.

His eyes flitted across the island. "Where's Gohan?"

Bulma's nails dug into his bicep, and tears spilled over the brim of her cheeks. Yamcha took hold of both Bulma's shoulders and unintentionally shook her roughly.

"What happened to Gohan?" he yelled.

"He was taken," Bulma replied, barely above a whisper.

Yamcha fell back onto his bottom, and slammed his fists into the sand. "He's just a child!" he exclaimed.

"He's going to be with Goku," Master Roshi interrupted. "She won't let anyone hurt him. She'll get the two of them out of this situation sooner or later."

Yamcha nodded his head in agreement. "Right," he said. "If anyone can do it, she can!"

Bulma wiped the tears away hastily with the back of her hand and sniffled. "Yeah!" she said. Suddenly there was a glint like fire in her cyan eyes. "If we ever want to see them again we're going to have to come up with something quick. That Raditz guy threw a ki blast at the ground, and said that the Earth is going to blow up soon!"

Yamcha choked on his own saliva. After a violent fit of coughing, he shouted, "What?!"

Master Roshi clasped his hands behind his back. The sunlight glinted off of his shades. "I'm afraid so."

Yamcha's eyes scanned the perimeter. It seemed pretty normal, but there was an almost imperceptible rumbling sound, as if shards of the Earth's damaged core were grinding together. Grains of sand were moving of their own accord.

"What do we do?" he asked.

"It might be a long shot, but I suggest you pay a visit to Kami. If the Guardian of Earth doesn't know what to do, we very well may be doomed," Master Roshi explained gravely.

Bulma ran her slender fingers through her bob of cerulean locks. "Kami…" she muttered. "We'll take my capsule jet and see him right away… only… I don't know the way…"

"Do you know the whereabouts of Master Korrin's tower?" Roshi asked.

"Y – yes, I do!" Yamcha replied.

"Good, Kami's look-out lies directly above Korrin's tower. You can only reach it by flight. Take ChiChi and Krillin with you," Master Roshi instructed.

Bulma snapped her fingers. "Right! We'll drop 'em off at a hospital on the way there."

"No!" Roshi shouted. "Take them with you to Kami. I understand that they're injured, but they will be fine."

Bulma's eyebrows twitched together in confusion. "Oh-okay."

They loaded their friends up into the jet, and hunkered down into the driver's and passenger's seats respectively. Yamcha rolled down his window.

"We'll be seein' ya, old man!" he called out.

"See ya' later, Master Roshi!" Bulma shouted.

A feeble smile tugged at the old Master's lips. "Fly fast and Godspeed, my friends! Stick together and I'm sure all will turn out fine!"

Bulma watched Master Roshi wave them goodbye until they were up far enough for him to be obscured by the clouds.

"Heh," Yamcha let out a nervous laugh. "It almost sounded as if he was saying goodbye."

Bulma felt a pang of fear and guilt arrest her heart. She clenched the fabric of her blouse tightly in her trembling fingers. "Y-yeah," she mumbled.

The sky had become overcast. Thunder rumbled, shaking the Earth. A lightning strike lit up the windshield. A solitary raindrop dripped in the center point of Bulma's vision, then another drop splattered, followed by yet another. The growing wind shook their metal encasement, and the raindrops pounded in quick succession.

"What a storm," Yamcha observed.

"It came out of nowhere," Bulma muttered softly as a teardrop slid alongside the bridge of her nose.

11 months, 2 days later; Planet Freeza 79:

The speaker's voice was on the whole unique, high pitched, yet grating, and not – it seemed – altogether unfriendly.

"In answer to your question: nothing," he replied.

A shuffling step approached the fallen Saiyan without fear.

Goku grunted with effort to lift her weighty torso. Her neck was craning in response to an unseen force.

"What?" she asked through gritted teeth.

She could hear an odd-sounding hissing chuckle in response to her confusion. "The air, Saiyaness; there's nothing wrong with it. I take it the gravitational force on this planet is much stronger than you're used to on... Ee – yarth, is it?"

A clawed, scaly, earthy-green hand extended into Goku's field of view. Goku blinked at the oddly pigmented appendage incredulously and extended her neck to look up at its owner – the scales encased his entire body. He had a bulging, beak-like muzzle. On the top of his head was a tuft of vivid, orange hair.

She couldn't discern his expression. He wasn't smiling at her. His lips – if they could be described as such – were a straight line. He didn't seem all that threatening though. Goku shifted her weight onto one hand and hesitantly took his in her free hand. He helped her keep balance as she pulled herself into a vertical position.

"My name is, Malaka," he said. "And, don't worry, you'll get used to it."

Get used to the gravity? she wondered silently. Goku smiled. "Thank you, Malaka," she replied politely. "Nice to meet you," she added, vigorously shaking his hand. "My name's Goku, Son Goku!"

Malaka shot her a queer look and sharply retracted his arm, causing Goku to gasp with surprise. "What's wrong?" she asked.

Malaka's nostrils twitched. "Why did you shake my arm?"

Goku blinked at him dumbfoundedly. After a moment she scratched the back of her head. "Hm…" she hummed. "Now that you ask, I really don't know. I just do that when I meet people. Bulma said it's 'appropriate'.

She smiled broadly, and shook her head. "Yep that's it alright!" she announced, as if this solved everything.

Malaka stared at her quizzically for a moment, drawing up his own conclusion. "A cultural thing…?" Malaka muttered mostly to himself. "Strange."

Malaka noted Goku's tense and strained appearance. He motioned at her thoughtfully. "Come, follow me inside."

Goku struggled to keep up with him. They approached an entrance into the nearby building, and paused before another odd-looking creature. He had his hands on his hips and a smirk on lips that reminded her of a fish. His flesh was indigo-hued and completely hairless. His most notable features were two catfish-like whiskers on either side of his mouth, and a pair of dull horns with holes in the centers, one on either side of his forehead.

He tapped a green-booted foot on the ground. "So this is the bitch?" he asked in a raspy voice. "She doesn't look like much to me."

"Cui, let us through. I need to do some tests on her," Malaka said with a level-voice.

"Shut it, lizard-breath!" Cui snapped, stepping up to Goku.

He lifted his right arm and formed an okay sign with his hand. He placed his thumb and index fingers against Goku's forehead and flicked. Goku fell backward onto the ground with a loud thud.

Cui laughed. "Just as I thought."

Malaka bent down and helped Goku back onto her feet. "That was unnecessary!"

"Pathetic!" Cui spat.

Cui relented his harassment for the time-being, and tapped a button at his side to open the door. "I wouldn't want your brittle bones to shatter under this gravity," he teased.

Malaka ignored his colleague and ushered Goku inside the building. She immediately felt the difference. Her body felt much lighter the instant she stepped inside, though not quite as light as back on Earth.

"The gravity is controlled inside," Malaka pointlessly explained. "Follow me."

"Where are you taking me?" Goku asked.

"My lab."

"What for?" she queried.

"To do tests," he replied.

"What kind of tests?"

"It's none of your concern," he answered, this time his tone was a little rigid. "Do you have any other idle questions, or are you just about done?" he added sarcastically.

Goku tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Are… are you a dinosaur?" she asked, undaunted.

Malaka's eye twitched. "I don't know what that is, and it doesn't matter. Enough with the questions!"

A/N: Vegeta and Nappa next chap! I might also reveal Gohan's Dad...

kingawesome: I honestly don't know what power level it takes to blow up planets - I guess I could google it really quick but... meh... As far as I know, it was never said that Raditz can't blow up a planet. I realize that he definitely doesn't have the sheer power to just annihilate a planetary body like Freeza, but I figure he can cause enough damage to set off a reaction that results in a planet's destruction.

Any questions, comments, something else?