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DBM Universe 14 (Cyborgs): One Way

Written by Foenidis

Adapted by Adamantine & TheOverlyMadHatter

Following the deaths of the Z Warriors as told in Twin Pain, Universes 12 and 14 had a few years in common before everything fell apart for the latter. What are the events that led to Trunks' victory in one, and to the reign of the Artificial Humans in the other?

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[Chapter Cover]
Part 4, Chapter 34.

Bulma had ended up staying in the Forck's family habitable tunnels for the past two days, just enough time to finish fixing one of the broken electric generators. An essential utility to ensure current, but it wasn't designed for prolonged use. Running electricity was fundamental to the underground lives of her hosts as much as it was for the survival of their livestock and to the functioning of their agricultural installations. Bulma didn't hesitate to come to their aid with the expertise she had in a field these brave people didn't. Few were the odds of them running into a specialist in electrical engineering in this backwater area of the world in which marauders reigned with terror.

Throughout the days she's spent with the small family, she learned that, like their neighbors, these peasants paid toll to the "Black Dog" gang in produce in exchange for them sparing the visible portion of their installation. The skittish young woman was laughing to herself already as she worked the hold still to whip up a powder that had worked miracles when it was incorporated in the hard candy that had turned poor Oolong's stomach around. Under this form, the product was completely undetectable, and could be mixed to practically anything that could be ingested.

The goodbyes were touching. Mugie clasped her in her little arms that smelled like hay, violets and cookies; Erna, her mother, would have filled her cockpit with victuals, that is, if Bulma had let her.

After one final promise, one that she wasn't likely to hold - it was unlikely that she would return to this area - and an ultimate gesture of farewell, the scientist stepped hard on the gas. These folks will join the cohort of good memories that serve to keep good faith in humanity. They were plenty, young and old, town and country-folk, locals and foreigners, guilty of only living in cursed times, times to haunt the thoughts of the scientist. Each of them struggled to survive, and now more than ever, the heir to Capsule Corporation was determined to put an end to the double nightmare that had plunged their existence into living Hell.

During her break, Bulma had time to ponder. She had made a thorough search of all the sites that had a chance to yield pieces of high technology that were necessary for a second machine, all but one. Oh, but of course, she'd already realized the stupidity of the idea, but when hope withers away and we still want to believe, we always manage to go beyond the horizon of possibility. Cautious, as always, she first tuned in radio for information on the current whereabouts of the artificial humans. Thankfully, solidarity was still alive on that front. Everywhere in the world, volunteers would keep the receivers running and those who witnessed the presence of the murderous duo wouldn't shy to whistle. Even with how fast those two monsters could travel, distance was nevertheless a certain advantage. Reassured to know they were on the other side of the globe, Bulma quickly typed the coordinates of her destination once on board. Her jet's right wind suddenly titled to the side to fly straight to its destination full-speed ahead.

On her feet, with her assault rifle strapped on, Bulma remained still for a some time simply to contemplate the disaster.

Once, wildlife dominantly reigned, with opulent forests, landscapes rich in crests, in valleys and waterfalls, all was once so majestic. Nothing was left of that. Bald mountains, leveled in their near entirety, arid and dusty, was what surrounded her landing site. Her Z-Warrior friends took no half-measures in destroying Dr. Gero's laboratory and the twins themselves seemed to have released part of their overbearing aggressiveness onto the rest of the surroundings.

The flick of a finger activated her small detector set up to pick up on rare metals contained only in some of the elements she was searching for. Then, she began to stride along the terrain in small steps according to the geometric breakdown displayed on her gizmo's screen.

Much like the other searched areas, the result turned out disappointing. The ground with practically lunar appearance was stuffed with a bunch of tiny, melted debris, vestigial remains of the technology torn to shreds by the raw firepower deployed unto the den of the artificial humans' creator. Nothing that could even partially be of any exploitation.

Bulma was beginning to think she was wasting her time before a small piece of twisted metal springing straight out of the ground aroused her attention. It was only a simple hollow steel cylinder that she was vainly trying to dig out from the surround rocks. No way to make it budge. After managing to clear a few inches in depth of debris surrounding it, she tried kicking it a few times to see if it would be freed, only for the feedback to be purely static. Intrigued, she took out her Capsule case. A few moments later, after after digging around with a shovel and striking the ground with a pickax a few times, she had uncovered what happened to be the top of a metallic ladder in the vein of those found only in war shelters.

With her enthusiasm renewed by her discovery, Bulma promptly unleashed the most effective means of digging through the rest. With a remote control in hand, she surveyed the excavation as each swipe of a backhoe signed Capsule Corp. dug further into the bunker.

After close to an hour of excavation – it would have been a shame to unintentionally break a few useful elements – Bulma discovered, her heart beating, that the last swipe of the bucket had dug up on a cavity that foreshadowed a room… a preserved area of the ingenious Dr. Gero's old laboratory!

Itching to know more, Trunks' mother completely forgets all caution and does not that the time to put the automated backhoe back in its capsule.

It is almost shivering that she descends the metallic bars to vertically vanish into the entrails of the land. Barely had she even set foot on the pile of gravel that had fallen from above that she was ready to whip out of flashlight, an indispensable utility that she'd learned to never leave behind for any type of errand. However, she noticed, surprised, that the room was still perfectly lit. Aside from the dust from the outside, it was a room filled with enormous figures attached to articulated arms power by a central unit of a past generation, diverse machines, cables, pipes, test tubes and schematics layed out on the tables, all of which were in perfect condition. The discreet purring of a autonomous generator was accompanied by regular tilts that signaled everything was running as the various diodes that animated the various control panels indicated the well-being of the installation.

A strange element in particular caught the attention of the scientist. In what seemed like a large incubator filled with liquid and bubbles was floating what looked like a fetus. Despite an attentive observation, the daughter of Professor Brief couldn't determine the species of origin of the incubated animal now almost as big as a house cat. The green of the creature left her perplexed… No manner of mammal nor marsupial carried that tint. Having four feet, the creature couldn't possibly be any fish, bird, or insect of any kind… a reptile, perhaps? Or rather a dinosaur, from the look of its anatomical structure… In what sort of madness had the maniacal Dr. Gero plunged his genius into, now? An old feeling of grudge was making its way up her spine. All this talent, this ingenuity, wasted, lost in such gruesome works, such pity, such tragedy! Such scientific marvels, in what ways could have his mind benefited humanity, the entire planet even, if his dedications only weren't dedicated to evil? In its glass prison, the creature seemed harmless, and surely in another life, Bulma would have given it a chance to live. But its creature had done enough harm already. She did not want to take another risk. She backed away a few steps before brandishing her assault rifle.

As she had just disengaged the safety catch and she was about to fire, the ground began to shake along with the rest of the jolting room!

Within the laboratory, among the light dancing from the lamps on the ceiling that waltzed in unison, dozens of LEDs illuminated the space of their multicolored blinking, technical alarms began to sound, and before Bulma's admiring eyes, the central unit had awakened. Several of the artificial intelligence's arms began working the control panels. The detection and troubleshoot of each flaw in the design and safety of the specimen had apparently been anticipated, and programmed. Within a few instants, the general frenzy ceased, and the soft purring of the generator reigned strong again, along with the audible and vital signs of the installation.

Bulma remained motionless for a while, unsure as to what to do next.

Her gaze swept the entire room. The hole from which she had entered was her only way out. She shut her eyes, cursing herself. The robotic backhoe! The construction apparatus could probably be seen from miles away, more so in such a deserted area like this one!

She knew full-well that there was nothing natural to the quaking. More often than she would have like, she's had to experience the artificial humans rampage too close for comfort. Was it them, or could it just be a band of thieves seeking to intimidate her? Uh… Mere thieves wouldn't be likely to destroy an engine in condition as perfect as that of the backhoe. But what would #17 and #18 be doing here, in the middle of nowhere, at this exact time when just a little while ago, they were on the other side of the globe? The coincidence would be of epic proportions! Even if we could consider that they would return to the site of their birth on a regular basis, it would be such a stroke of bad luck for that to happen exactly now of all times!

An apparent shiver overpowered the scientist.

Those responsible for such carnage and racket could be none other than the twins, of that she was convinced. On the tip of her toes, she circled around the central unit while taking good care to not make the slightest sound. She knew the hatred #17 and #18 had for their creator well. What were they going to do with this place?

Blow the rat's nest up?

Come down to destroy everything from the inside?

Simply seal the entrance again?

Leave with doing anything?

No, that would be too good to be true! And none of her remaining hypotheses were optimistic in any way.

Bulma awaited, cramped behind a tank filled with undetermined contents. Hours passed. Nothing broke installation's regular routine. Not a sound would originate from the surface. Not the merest sign of life, not even a piece of gravel falling from above. A large void. Bulma nevertheless prudently remained hidden for a long while still, before finally dozing off.

When she awoke, nothing had changed in the room. How long had her little nap lasted? The time displayed on her watch took her by surprise; morning should settling in outside by now! How could she have slept this long while she was stricken with so much fear? Human nature had questionable ways to do things, at times. Completely sore, she precariously unbent herself. Aging was no joke! In the days of her youth, the locale and conditions hardly mattered; when she would wake up, she'd always feel refreshed and ready to go back to work… nowadays, even after spending the night in a comfy bed, certain parts of her body would painfully remind her of their existence. Just a few more years, and she'll be an old lady. Picturing that thought reminded her of her son, the reminder of his inexplicably delayed return, the pain of which began to physically manifest; she fought a tear that bore the awful taste of fatality. She drew closer to the cental unit to lay her two hands with devotion on the steel of its cowling while uttering a silent payer to luck. Truly a gem! All that she needed for the construction of a new time machine laid her, among the composites of this giant computer. She knew the structure of this type of equipment very well, without even seeing the unit's blueprints, all it took was guessing. Behind every gizmo of the same generation lied the same basic structure.

A hint of a smile took life on the face of Vegeta's former companion.

Hope, at last! She was hungry, and that was a pretty good sign. As she made her way, this time not without caution, towards the ladder, the incubator and its contents reminded of something important. Her hand tightened around her weapon, then she reconsidered. First thing first; getting out should be her number one priority, then she could worry about the creature. Prudence was safety assured.

She lightheartedly scaled the ladder to the surface. Beyond, a disc of light foreshadowed sunlight. Finding fresh air again will give her much needed relief. Having reached the top, she cautiously gave the surroundings a circular inspection while taking care not to have her head show more than necessary.

As she had felt early, the robot-backhoe had been destroyed, its remains looking like those of an insect crushed by the clumsy foot of an oncoming giant. Not a single cloud troubled the azure of the heavens, and a small breeze blew the wind in a very pleasant way when compared to the dusty atmosphere of the secret laboratory. Reassured after having methodically surveyed the surroundings, triple-checking the ensemble of the landscape, Bulma finally made her way out of the uncomfortable tube. A capsule provided her with an ice box, and silverware and dished designed for outdoor dining before she took a seat, weapon on her knees, on one of the broken parts of the annihilated robot.

Before she even had time to start eating, two shadows appeared in her back.

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