Chapter Five: Intermission Earth

Chi Chi was the one who found them.

Since Vejiita’s departure, it had been nagging on her mind that with him gone, there was really no one to take care of Bulma's Place. She still thought of the Capsule Corporation that way, corpse or no corpse and the cleaning robots be damned; so, the day after Gokuu left, she locked up her own home and traipsed over to the Capsule Corporation in her small car to see what she could do.

She was somewhat surprised to walk into Bulma's lab and find the Saiyans there.

They were not ones she recognized; apparently, Ru Sa had not considered them worthy of introduction. They were noisily ransacking the lab, tearing things apart and turning things over, pressing every button and pulling every switch within reach. One of them was even going through Bulma's extensive files, systematically searching for some kind of information.

To Chi Chi's eye, they moved with the swift grace of those who know what they are doing, but dare not get caught; and to her great fortune, they had their backs to the door and so did not see her.

Trembling, Chi Chi backed away from the building and ran to the house to call Kuririn.

***

"Are you sure you saw them, Chi Chi?" asked Yamucha later on when everyone had arrived.

"Yes, Yamucha, I am." Chi Chi sounded strangely calm, cold; apparently, it was only when those she loved were in danger that she felt inclined to panic. "They were right there, all five of them, and tearing everything to pieces."

Kuririn looked around; everything seemed just as messy to him just as it had been two days ago. Geez, if it wasn't one Son family member, it was another… "Look, Chi Chi -" he began, exasperated.

"Hey, hold on a minute. Check this out," said Yamucha, straightening up from behind Bulma's computer terminal; he had pinched between his fingers a small something nobody could see.

"What is it?" asked Kuririn.

"It's a hair," he said triumphantly.

The others all stared at him.

"So?" asked Kuririn.

Yamucha looked hurt. "It's a Saiyan hair," he added as emphatically as possible. "I'm sure of it."

Piccolo stood with his arms crossed, surveying the room. "Baka," he said. "Vejiita lives here; the Sons come to visit. It could be anybody's."

Yamucha looked crushed.

"There might be another way to verify Chi Chi's story," Piccolo added contemplatively.

"Yeah?" said everyone at once. "What is it?"

"Follow me." With that, Piccolo led them out of the lab and into the main storage shed - which also housed the security system.

"Of course!" said Kuririn, slapping himself on the forehead. "The security cameras! How could I have forgotten!"

Piccolo didn't answer as he stared at the computer terminal. "Somebody else fiddle with this thing," he ordered. "I'm not… mechanically inclined."

Yamucha smiled and walked up to it. "I know how to work this," he said. "I learned how to in case I ever needed to erase a couple of tapes lest Bulma's dad see them." He smiled weakly. "Not that I ever needed to," he added. "She never let me get that close to her." Reverie over, he flipped a couple of switches and on the screen in front of them Bulma's laboratory popped into view. In moments, he had it running backwards. Moments after that, they all could see the Saiyans.

"Wha… what are they looking for?" asked Kuririn.

"I don't know," said Piccolo,"but I hope they didn't find it, whatever it was. Anything this group could want so badly must not be good. No wonder were so desperate to take off with Vejiita immediately."

Kuririn bit his lower lip. "I guess Gohan's hunch was correct," he said.

Piccolo only nodded. Of course Gohan’s hunch was correct.

"Hey," said Chaou-Zu. "What's wrong with the film?"

Yamucha checked the controls. "Nothing's wrong with it."

"The Saiyans look... fuzzy." And so they did. Their movements were smooth enough, but every once in a while their outlines would blur, melt almost, giving the impression of mud sculptures shifting in the sun. It was almost as though they had to concentrate to maintain their shape.

No one had anything at all to say.

***

That night, Kuririn and Yamucha slept at the Capsule Corporation in the lab. Whatever it was the strange visitors had been looking for had not been found; they had left empty-handed and cursing like career sailors. Tenshinhan and Chaou-zu were staying not far away in the house, while Piccolo and Yajirobe played guard outside. Yajirobe, of course, had been volunteered for his position, and was not particularly thrilled about it.

"This is stupid. What am I doing running around outside with a bunch of mutant Saiyans on the loose? I couldn't even handle Vejiita, and he didn't have half the power back then that these guys do."

"Because you have a gift for sneaking around," Piccolo said simply, "and your ability to go unnoticed may be of more use than all our strength put together. You're not getting out of it. Try, and I'll sacrifice you to them for breakfast as a peace offering. In filets." Yajirobe gulped and became quite manageable.

Yamucha and Kuririn, at least, were prepared to hold down the fort. "I wish Juu-chan had been able to come," Kuririn said sadly. "But I couldn't let Marron be alone, and I wouldn't want to put her on Chi Chi; she's got enough to handle with the Ox King and Videl and Pan all practically living there already. But man, it's lonely out here."

Yamucha smiled sadly. "I know what you mean, little bro. I know what you mean." He yawned. "You take the first shift. I'm about to drop off."

"Okay, Yamucha," said Kuririn, obediently taking up his position by the door. It was going to be a very long night, and he didn't know when Gohan's next transmission was going to be; they had forgotten to set that up at their last meeting. Kuririn didn't dare call him. Now that he had proof that the Saiyans - or whatever they were - were up to something, the last thing he wanted to do was give up Gohan's hidden hand. He settled down and prayed for Gohan to call.

***

Intermission 5.1: Bra Has A Secret

Every little girl is entitled to her secrets.

Bra had one, and she wasn't telling anybody - wild horses could not have dragged it from her.

Ever since the Vejiita family had pulled up stakes and changed their home to this ship in space, Bra had felt more than a little neglected. She was not allowed out of her room, and though she understood why - evil Saiyans running around, intrigue all over the place - it was still very hard to be alone. The fact that Vejiita was regretting his decision to bring her did not help matters.

Then Gohan had started coming to visit.

In her innocence, she did not wonder why he was coming to see her. All she knew was that aside from the occasional peek-in by her brother and/or father, Gohan was her only contact with the outside world. Even Goten seemed to have forgotten all about her.

Gohan, of course, had his own reasons for visiting her. Partly he just felt bad; no little kid should be abandoned like that, especially not after losing her mother, no matter what the reasons were. But he had alternative motives, too.

For one thing, there was Bra's unusual power of perception.

Gohan knew from experience that Saiyans tended to have at least latent telepathic abilities; if applied, they could be used to communicate over great distances. Most ki-manipulating creatures could do this. Gohan didn't know about that for Bra, but he did know something else: once she connected with a person, they were hers for life.

He had practiced with her just a little bit, and then tested her; throughout the day, he would check on her and quiz her about what he had been doing. Without even thinking about it, she answered correctly every time.

Gohan sincerely doubted Vejiita had any idea how talented his little girl was.

Deciding - perhaps a bit snippily - that Vejiita's knowing could wait, Gohan started surreptitiously training her himself, using his limited knowledge of such things to try to awaken her powers. He could not train her physically because that would not have remained a secret, but he most certainly could keep her brain from atrophying.

He did not know that Bra's ability was a rare and treasured talent among Saiyans called Sheinrei-Tsu. He did not know that this ability had been responsible for the downfall of entire dynasties in the Saiya-jin republic. Truthfully, he wouldn't have cared if he had known.

He also had no idea - not even a premonition - how important her skill would be to the future of their world.

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