Metamorphosis Alpha

Author's Note: The farther I get into this story, the more aware I become of the possibility of annoying a few people. As I posted the last chapter, I said to myself, "If chapter six doesn't earn me flames then chapter seven will." On that happy note, I present to you chapter seven.

Chapter 7: Technical Difficulties

"I'll have you know that I'm a good pilot and a good warrior. I may be a girl, but that doesn't mean I'm weak and incompetent." - Chelsia

It had taken so long for Goku to fall asleep that night. Vegeta had held him in his arms and whispered nonsensical words into his ear until he'd finally relaxed around three a.m. If someone had told him just last week that he was going to care so much about a man who had bested him at everything he'd ever tried to achieve for himself, he would have laughed in their face right before he killed them for having the audacity to say such a ridiculous thing. But now... Now, a small smile disguised as a smirk would probably be the only thing he gave in response.

In the morning, Vegeta lay there and watched his mate sleep, something he usually couldn't do since Goku usually got up with the sun. He couldn't say that he was angelic when unconscious, but he was definitely endearing. But this morning, there were tiny little furrows between his eyebrows and the muscles in his face were taut with emotional pain. He caressed his check and sighed heavily.

What the hell were they going to do now?

Goku wasn't going to give up on his son, he knew that without a doubt. Gohan was his flesh and blood, his firstborn. Their relationship had been close from the day he was born, though it had gone through a temporary upheaval due to Goku's death during the Cell Games. What Vegeta was afraid of the most was that the gentle Saiya-jin would let his son destroy him completely and just give in to his demands in a desperate attempt to win back his affection. Vegeta didn't want to end up going into bond withdrawal. He didn't want Goku to go into bond withdrawal. He may not know much about the Changes or bonds or the nuances of being Saiya-jin, but he did know that going into any kind of withdrawal wasn't a good thing. He also knew that he couldn't live without Goku and didn't want to try.

In the very back of his mind, in a place that he'd started to consider "Kakarotto's Spot", he felt the mind of the man beside him began to stir. As he did so, the psychic channel or line or whatever connecting the two of them had opened. Vegeta knew that Goku either couldn't, or wouldn't, control the flow of emotion and thoughts coming from him, but he discovered that he didn't really mind and would sometimes allow his end of the link to open. In any case, it made things easier to just let his mate feel what he was thinking instead of forcing himself to articulate his thoughts aloud.

Large dark eyes blinked sleepily up at him, the worry wrinkles smoothing almost immediately. If anything, Goku looked befuddled as if the transition from slumber to wakefulness had left him feeling disoriented. "Ohayo, 'geta-chan," he smiled. "It's nice waking up beside you." Vegeta didn't say a word, but the pleasure he felt filled Goku's body gently. The small Saiya-jin stretched out beside him -- actually, half on top of him (his favorite relaxed position) -- and tucked his head beneath his chin.

'I'm bored, Kakarotto.' And he was. Things had settled down so much since the defeat of Majin Buu that he almost wished that someone would show up on Chikyuu and try to kill them all again. 'How have you been able to stay so content?'

A mental snort. 'I'm not content, I just hide it better than you do. The same wild blood runs through my veins, 'geta. I get antsy all the time.'

'What are we going to do about it?' He also really wanted to know what he could do to distract Goku from the oncoming depression when he realized that Gohan wasn't going to talk to him again without his father sacrificing something important. Namely, a "something" named Vegeta.

'Well, you're the brains of this outfit,' he joked.

Vegeta became very serious. The emotion that touched Goku was that of regret. 'I should have never called you a baka in the first place. You have far more intelligence than anyone gives you credit for.'

'Ah, 'geta, you don't have to apologize. When you call me a "baka", I think of it as a pet name. I know you don't really mean it.' He wiggled down until he could kiss him comfortably. 'Anymore anyway. Ai shiteru, Vegeta.'

'Ai... shiteru, Kakarotto.' Goku grinned. He started to roll Vegeta over onto his back to initiate unusually gentle lovemaking, when something caught his attention. His head jerked up from where it had been nuzzling Vegeta's cheek and his eyes snapped open, though their vision was turned inward.

"Kakarotto, what are you-" Then he was able to sense it as well. When it came down to sensing ki[1], Goku was far better than anyone else on Chikyuu.

"Someone's in trouble. Somewhat high ki level, being chased by a small group of someones with even higher ki levels." In an instant he was on his feet and picking up a pair of pants from the floor. Vegeta followed him as quickly as he could, but couldn't find his other boot. Goku found it under a chair and tossed it to him. "Their ship is dropping quickly to the ground. At that speed and height there's no way they can survive the impact."

"Without help," he added, grabbing a hold of his mate's arm.

"Iie, not without help." He placed his index and middle fingers to his forehead and locked onto the ki that was rising rapidly in panic. The bedroom around them faded out to be replaced by the cold steel of a ship in an instant. From the looks of things, they were in a narrow passageway.

"Where is-?" Vegeta started to ask, then he heard loud cursing coming from the doorway nearest to him. "Nevermind."

Just as he took a step towards the door, the ship shuddered and nearly threw him off his feet. Goku grabbed him around the waist before he could topple over and wrenched open the door to the cockpit.

Everything was in darkness, the only light coming from the console. A small figure cloaked in dark shadows was struggling with the controls, trying to right the ship and regain control of it to ensure a safe landing. Wispy clouds flew past the window at a startling pace, made dark gray from lack of sunlight. Goku trudged his way over to the struggling pilot and asked, "Need some help?"

The person jerked and spun around. Bright purple eyes widened at the sight of him and Vegeta standing there, only taking a moment to wonder how they were able to get inside the ship, before nodding emphatically. "Those Naghani bastards blew a hole in my ship. Don't know how they caught up to me." When the pilot stood, Goku noticed that he was swathed in several layers of colorful fabric that looked like robes. He shrugged and motioned for the him to take hold of him.

"It might be a little disorienting, but it'll get you out of here."

"Wait a second!" the pilot said suddenly. "I have to save it! He'll kill me if I don't." Before either Saiya-jin could utter a word, he was off. Vegeta cursed, and Goku rolled his eyes, and then they were quickly following him.

Without the pilot at the controls, the ship was slowly starting to list to one side. Soon it was tilted at a forty-five degree angle and the two Saiya-jin were struggling to make their way down the hall.

"Is this worth it?" Vegeta bitched. "Really, is this worth it?"

"Of course it's worth it! Saving someone's life is always worth it." He gave his mate a pointed look when he said the last part, which caused him to close his mouth tightly.

The pilot returned carrying a bulging knapsack. By this time, the ship had completed its quarter barrel roll and was now falling on its side which meant that the floor was now a wall and a wall was now the floor. Goku had a feeling that it would be finishing the rest of the half roll very soon and finish upside down which meant that they should probably get out before it happened.

Oh, and hitting the ground probably wouldn't be a good thing, either.

"Grab on to me," Goku instructed. The pilot jumped at the chance to do so. Goku locked onto Goten's ki, not used to moving more than one person without using someone as a signal, and teleported. It wasn't anytime too soon, either, because thirty seconds after he did so, the ship fell into the ocean.

"I owe you big time," the pilot said as he dropped his bag on the floor in the living room. "I thought that I'd escaped a bloody death at home only to meet it when I went for help." His hands, encased by black leather gloves, came up and began to unwind the cloth wrapped around his head. As more and more of it was peeled away, thick blonde hair was exposed only to fall forward into his eyes. The hands moved downward to remove his flight clothing and Goku roused himself long enough to ask if he wanted something to eat or drink.

He smiled gratefully. "Oh, thanks. Water would be fine, and you choose the food. I'm not up to date on local customs."

Vegeta joined Goku in the kitchen to have a "serious" discussion about their guest. "What are we going to do with the kid?"

"First off, we'll listen to what he has to say and then decide." Goku opened the refrigerator where he proceeded to pull out bread, cheese, meat, mustard, mayonnaise, and other things to make sandwiches. It was about the only thing he could make reliably besides instant ramen, but luckily Vegeta was a good cook. They returned to the living room with drinks and a platter of food only to discover that the boy they'd left had become a girl. Her hair was shaggy and hung down to mid-back and her body was slender and boyish without all of the extra clothing covering her. Underneath everything, she wore a gray tank top and loose black pants.

She smiled in amusement and finished folding her clothes. "What are you two gawking at?"

"Who sent a little girl like you for help?" Vegeta asked, grabbing his glass and taking a long drink from it. The pilot glared at him and grabbed a glass of her own.

"I'll have you know that I'm a good pilot and a good warrior. I may be a girl, but that doesn't mean I'm weak and incompetent." She said this in a way that indicated she'd had to say it a lot and was damn tired of doing so. Sighing, she leaned back against the couch. "But I'm not very high in rank. If most everyone else wasn't already dead, I wouldn't have been given a second thought when it came to the assignment of such an important mission."

Goku sat down next to her and offered his hand in greeting. "I'm Goku, this is Vegeta. You are?"

"Chelsia, Class C pilot and Class B soldier of the Linaga Federal Army." She started to say more but the rumbling of her stomach interrupted. Blushing, she grabbed a sandwich and nibbled at it. Finding it good, she starting taking huge bites out of it, barely stopping to breathe. The three of them dined in silence until she finally sat back, full.

"It's been so long since I've had enough to eat," she told them, patting her stomach happily. "To repay you, I'm going to answer any questions you have about me. Within reason, of course. I can't go and give everything away, now can I?"

Smirking, Vegeta said, "I don't think you have enough rank to know any secrets."

"I may not rank very high, but my family's prominent. I've attended more shallow social functions and sat in on more boring meetings that I can count. I've heard a lot because they often forget that I'm around." Chelsia grinned, then sobered as she thought of home. "That all may be at an end, though, since the Naghani attacked us and killed so many people.

"I don't know what set them off, not really. Our government isn't the best so they might have angered them somehow. But even if that was so, don't you think it's only fair to stop when it becomes obvious that your enemy can't fight back anymore?" She desperately looked at the two of them, begging them to agree with her.

Goku was all set to say, "Yes, of course" but Vegeta didn't exactly agree. "It depends on what they'd done to piss them off in the first place. Would you allow someone to live if they'd done atrocious things?"

"No, I wouldn't, but to kill off an entire race of people because of the actions of a small group of them isn't right."

"I know it isn't, but it's normal." His mate was mentally berating him, but he refused to apologize for speaking his mind. To appease him, he asked Chelsia if there was anything they could do to help her.

The girl began to smile. "Do you have access to an army willing to travel for several weeks to reach my home planet?"

"No, but, then again, the two of us are all you'll need." Vegeta decided he would let her think about that one for a moment. Leaving the room, he went to wake up Goten. If left to his own devices, the young man wasn't likely to get up before one or two in the afternoon.

Goku chatted with Chelsia for a little while, just long enough for Goten and his mate to each have a shower and get dressed. Then he excused himself to have his own turn in the bathroom. Goten couldn't stop staring at the girl, which caused her to blush.

"Do you like her, boy?" Vegeta asked suddenly, liking the way his eyes grew very large when he realized that he'd been caught. "It's okay if you do, but I think a certain someone will be disappointed."

He blinked. "Who are you talking about, Vegeta-san?"

"Nothing. Just forget I said anything."

"Um, are you three the only ones who live here?" Chelsia was obviously embarrassed to ask this, judging by the red tint in her cheeks. "Where are all the females?" In her culture, most adult men were either married or living at home with their mothers or sisters like they were unable to care for themselves. She, personally, thought it was ridiculous, but she still couldn't deny that she expected things to be that way everywhere she traveled.

"Well, my mother's gone," Goten explained with a twinge of sadness. It was still painful to think about, and the circumstances surrounding her death didn't make it any easier. "And my father's, well..."

"His father's quite happy living with his mate," Vegeta took over. "Which is me."

"Oh." Then she thought about it and her eyes widened in shock. "Oh! So you were never married?"

"No, I wasn't. I have no inclination to go through the ceremony. Buruma and I were never that close, and Kakarotto and I aren't human. We don't need a ritual to bind us together."

"I understand," she said, but it was clear that she didn't. "So, you're really going to help me all by yourselves?"

"Sure!" Goten piped up. "I'll help, too, and so will Trunks. He can never pass up a fight." The young man jumped out of his seat and went to grab the phone. "I'll call him right now and tell him the news. I also should probably tell him that we'll need a ship."

"That's right," Vegeta said. "We do need a ship." He looked extremely annoyed at the thought of having to acquire a ship somehow, especially when Buruma was the resident mechanical genius and they were currently not on speaking terms. Trunks was just as good with machines, especially considering the fact that he'd gone to college and obtained an engineering degree, but it would still take a while with only one person working on the internal systems even with everyone's help to assemble it.

"Trunks said he'll be over in about an hour," Goten said as he returned. "He also said that he'll bring spaceship blueprints. Capsule Corp. has been doing a few prototypes for several space organizations."

Chelsia was so excited she was bouncing in her seat. "That's wonderful! How long do you think the preparations will take?" Neither man would look at her. She deflated immediately and stared at Goten. "That long?"

"Well, a ship will probably have to be built, but it's been done before. Not by Trunks, but it's been done."

Within an hour, Chelsia looked as if she was at home. She'd bounced from conversation to conversation, discussing cultural differences with Goten and fighting with Goku and Vegeta. By the time Trunks had shown up, she was almost able to forget her near-death experience earlier in the day.

"Ohayo," Trunks greeted. He carried with him several rolls of paper and a laptop. These things he sat down on the coffee table before disappearing momentarily into the kitchen for something to drink. "I've been looking over the schematics, and I think I have an idea, but I want to learn more about our mission."

"Well, my planet was several weeks away for me, and I flew vehicle in the fastest class we have. It was able to make a hyperspace jump in sixty seconds."

The four Saiya-jin exchanged glances. "Hyperspace jump?" Trunks asked. "How long would it take without the jump?"

"Oh, several months, I think."

"Damn," Trunks muttered. "I don't think they have several months." He sighed and picked up the computer. "You wouldn't happen to understand the technology that gives a ship hyperspace capabilities, do you? We currently haven't achieved that level of knowledge here. Hell, we've barely figured out how to reach half the speed of light." He tapped the machine several times, chewing his lip as he did so. "But maybe, just maybe, if we use a fusion drive..."

They tuned him out when he began to mutter to himself in a language that was beyond the grasp of the rest of them. As time wore on, Chelsia began to look more and more depressed. She'd come so far in search of strong people using a device built into the ship that was now lying on the bottom of an ocean only to discover that she had absolutely no way to take them back to her dying people. The thought of being the only person to survive planetary genocide was a lonely one, indeed.

Goten graciously offered their guest the use of his room, then realized that it was next door to his father's and instantly regretted it. Luckily, she said that she was fine on the couch.

That night, after everyone had gone to bed, she lay awake wondering how everyone was faring back home. Had they found a chink in the armor of the Naghani, one that they could successfully exploit and use to turn the tide of the war?

Had they all been lied to by the king and his closest advisors about the real reason they were attacking in the first place?

Her mind and body were both exhausted, but Chelsia found that sleep that night was a long time in coming.

[1] = life energy, the same thing as "chi"