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Time's Orphan
By Femme-Chan

Chapter Two: Lay Your Troubles Down
Come lay your troubles down
Rest here with me
My kingdom is all yours to receive


It was several hours before the girl was able to give them any information on the Andromedans, or on anything else for that matter. She had fits of consciousness, during which she'd ask where she was, or why the hell Bulma looked so familiar, or just stare at Trunks with an expression of awe on her delicate features before passing out again. All attempts on Goku's part to maintain even minor telepathic contact met with failure as her mind shut itself off at the slightest contact.

"There's nothing more we can do," Bulma decided after the fifth failed attempt. "We'll just have to wait until she's fully regained consciousness." She paused, wondering if she should mention the DNA tests she had run on the girl, that she had compared it to her own and found that -

/Something's on your mind, woman. Spit it out./

Bulma shot a glare at Vegeta, wondering why the hell he did that at the most inopportune times, and decided to mention her findings.

"I decided to run some tests on our 'friend' to find out something, anything that might give us some explanations."

"What kind of tests?" Goten asked, his curiosity getting the better of him yet again. "Do you think she's sick or something? Is that why she keeps passing out?"

"No, nothing like that. She's just a little weak from the temporal displacement." Another long pause passed, during which Bulma tried to find the best way to word her discovery. "I took a blood sample from her and ran a few DNA tests. And I can say that, without a doubt, she's a relative... of sorts."

"Of sorts?" Trunks asked, beginning to understand where this conversation was headed. "Do you mean that she really is Tousan's daughter from another dimension?"

"Yes, and I suppose with her coloring there's no doubt about who her mother is."

"So that's why you seem so familiar to me," a soft voice from behind the group said after several minutes of silence had gone past.

Everyone turned to see the girl leaning on the doorframe, barely managing to support her weight. She was still dressed as she had been when they'd first seen her - ice-blue body suit and Saiyan armor, white boots with low heels, and short white gloves- because no one had wanted to jostle her around any more than necessary. She blinked her dark eyes and focused her attention on Bulma as if seeing her for the first time.

"I was kinda wondering about the hair," she murmured, almost to herself. Bulma decided to take the initiative and approached the Saiyan girl. She moved back a little, still leaning on the door as much as possible.

/Poor child's still pretty weak from the displacement,/ Bulma thought, unconsciously reaching out and brushing a stray strand of deep blue hair away from the girl's eyes. Surprisingly, she didn't move or say anything, just stared at her 'mother' with an indiscernible look in her eyes. "How are you feeling now?" she asked gently, trying to keep the girl calm. It wouldn't help anyone if she collapsed again.

"I'll live," she shrugged, moving cautiously away from the doorframe, but still keeping one hand on it for support.

"First thing's first," Trunks said quickly. "What's your name, why are you here instead of wherever you come from, and who are these damned Andromedans you kept mumbling about in your sleep?"

Vegeta shot a warning glare at his son, but the girl in the doorway laughed softly.

"Some things really aren't much different," she mused before looking at Bulma again. "I'll tell you all everything I know. But, uh, is it okay if I sit down first?"

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The blue-haired girl - who did look remarkably like a brown-eyed Bulma - pulled her legs close to her body and rested her chin upon her knees, closing her eyes and sighing softly. She wasn't sure what she was going to say to them. How do you talk to your mother and several friends who you haven't seen in months (at the very least)? Plus, her audience had grown quite a bit. Instead of just a few family members (she included Goku and Goten in this category - even though she didn't know the boy, he was a friend of Trunks and therefore could be trusted), everyone she'd ever met and a few people she didn't know at all were here as well. Gohan had arrived shortly after Goten's phone call, accompanied by Videl and Pan. Piccolo made an appearance - he'd sensed her ki level and decided to investigate - and Krillan also came to Capsule Corp. with Juuhachi-gou and Marron in tow. Juunana-gou was there as well, feigning boredom as he leaned against the wall. Yamcha, Tien, and Chou Tzu arrived later than the others and made themselves comfortable on the couch (much to Vegeta's annoyance). Also, Bra had arrived home from school and was currently sitting quietly on her brother's lap, staring from his face to Zukani's and back again. She had to admit to herself that the little girl was a perfect carbon copy of Bulma. That really didn't make what she had to share any easier - another innocent was going to get caught up in this struggle, and she hated herself for that.

/You knew this isn't going to be easy, Zu-chan,/ she chided herself. /Besides, we do have to be ready./

"I suppose I'll answer your first question so you can me something other than Hey You or brat," she said, opening her eyes and scanning the faces in the room. "And since you already know my parents, I'll use my full name to introduce myself. Watashi wa Zukani Briefs Vegeta." At the surprised looks of those who hadn't been there when Bulma revealed her findings, she continued, "but please feel free to call me Zuka."

Juunana was the first to speak. "It should have been obvious," he said, his tone perfectly matched to his feigned boredom. "She looks like Bulma except for those eyes of hers, and the armor is a dead giveaway."

"Then why did your jaw drop to the ground like everyone else's"? Piccolo shot back at the cybernetic teen with a smirk. He glared back at the Namekian and wisely kept his mouth shut. All attention returned to Zukani. "Please, continue," Piccolo told the girl.

"Thank you, Piccolo-san," she said softly, taking another breath. "I suppose I should also tell you why I was so shocked to see Goku-ojisan when I first arrived here." She paused. Several minutes passed; Bra began to squirm and climbed down from Trunks' lap, sitting on the floor at his feet. Zukani finally looked up and continued: "It's because I was there when he died."

"Nani?" This time it was the entire Son family that posed the question to her.

"The Andromedans were responsible. And I will get to that part. Promise."

"What I've been wondering about," Vegeta said, leaning on the wall in his 'normal pose', "is what you meant when you said Trunks is still alive. Did the Andromedans -"

"Iie," she said quickly, her tone indicating that she really didn't want to talk about it. But it was inevitable that she would. "That all happened when I was still very young. The reason it took me so long to recognize Bulma - to recognize Kaasan - was because she died when Trunks and I were three years old." She paused to wipe at the tears that appeared unexpectedly in her eyes. "The accident wasn't her fault, I've known that for as long as I've been alive. No one could have done anything to prevent it. Sometimes, unknown elements are just too volatile...." Her voice had grown softer towards the end, and she wiped at her traitorous eyes again. "This is harder to talk about than I thought it would be," she mumbled before looking up.

She took a deep breath and continued even though her voice was still a bit shaky: "About five years later, this character called Cell showed up and began tracking down the Z Senshi. During the years prior to his little appearance, my twin and I had been training. I have to admit that I trained more than he did - for some reason, I thought that maybe I could have saved my mother if I'd been stronger, so I forced myself to train until I collapsed every day. I tend to fixate on one thing and strive for perfection. It's my worst habit." Zukani paused again, smiling to herself. "Sometime before Cell first made contact, two cyborgs just appeared out of nowhere to warn us about Cell and his 'Cell Game'. I've never really understood what happened, but from what I can tell, Juunana-gou and Juuhachi-gou managed to break whatever control Cell had over them and sought out his primary targets to warn them. Of course, once they made contact with the Z Senshi, they became targets themselves.

"So, they joined our forces. Things went pretty smoothly, until Cell turned his attention to my brother." Her voice dropped so low that it could barely be heard. "He-he killed my brother. That was the biggest mistake he could have ever made." She looked up, a dangerous smile on her face - and no one missed the resemblance she bore to Vegeta at that instant. "Instead of just three Super Saiyans to deal with, he had to go up against four. _No_one_ messes with my twin and gets away without a scratch. Four Super Saiyans, combined with the rest of the Z Senshi's attacks, proved to be just enough to take him out for good. Unfortunately, we'd already used the Dragonballs a few weeks earlier, so it would be nearly a year before we had the chance to wish my brother back to life."

Zukani sighed and stretched her body for the first time since she started talking. She still looked as if there was more she had to tell, and everyone waited for her to speak again. Trunks glanced over at his mother, wondering what life would have been like if she hadn't been there for him, and his heart went out to Zukani - she had lost so much in such a short amount of time. He decided to try a little experiment, just to see if any sort of bond existed between him and his 'twin' who was now seated with her feet planted on the floor, head down and eyes closed.

/I have no idea if this is even going to work, but... are you okay, Kani-chan?/

Zukani's head snapped up suddenly, her black-brown eyes immediately locking with Trunks' blue ones. She was quiet for a moment; then the corners of her mouth twitched as a small smile began to appear on her face.

/Maybe, just maybe, you started out life with a twin that was too frail to survive,/ Zukani's voice said in his head. /You certainly managed to get my attention! Oh, and by the way, he used to call me 'Kani-chan', too./

He grinned back at her, catching the expression on his father's face out of the corner of his eye. He'd apparently heard the conversation between the two 'siblings', and one eyebrow was raised slightly in surprise at the ease of the connection had been forged between them.

"Anyway," Zukani continued, her soft voice somehow managing to get the undivided attention of everyone in the room, "we had no choice but to wait. Then that miserable little runt Pilaf got to them before we did." She growled, a low noise in the back of her throat. "We managed to distract him, hoping that we'd be able to snatch the Dragonballs and wish my brother back, but that incredible baka shouted that he wished he was somewhere where he could at least be alone to think. And *poof*, no more Pilaf. I have no idea where he wound up; all I know is that he made that stupid wish over seven years ago, and no one's seen him since." She sighed. "But he'd used the wish, and there was no way to reactivate the Dragonballs for another year. We'd lost our one chance to get Trunks back.

"I resumed my training. Since I was alone now, I had nothing else to do. Like I said before, I tend to fixate on something and strive for perfection, so training it was. But I was beginning to get interested in electronics and wondering how things worked. I swear to you that I must have taken apart the service robots and put them back together several dozen times before I was able to build one on my own. So I now had two focuses in my life: training and inventing. Damn good thing I got interested in inventing," she said, looking at the familiar sea of faces around her. "We really needed it when the Andromedans attacked." She closed her eyes once again and let her mind drift to the Andromedan Elite.

Kenchi, leader of the troop, one of the strongest fighters Zukani had ever seen, the man who had killed Goku-ojisan and split her family apart forever.

Arana, second in command, the one being who might be able to track Zukani down and make sure there were no survivors from her home dimension.

Mikari, who hated Kenchi's authority and power of him, who was a loose cannon, who would kill anyone that got in the way of his lust for power.

Xiram, who had once been her friend, who had said he would be her best friend forever, who was now her mortal enemy.

She sighed and continued her story. She told how the Elite had appeared shortly after her sixteenth birthday. She told them how Zarbon and Xiram had disappeared without a trace. She shared how first Krillan, then Piccolo, then the rest of the Z Warriors one-by-one fell victim to the Andromedan Elite's purge of Chikyuu. Then she told of Goku's death while she watched helpless from the ground, where she had been pinned by her former friend Xiram.

"Tousan ordered me to take the trans-dimensional time port I had built and escape. I refused to budge an inch. So, I suppose that Juu-kun and Juu-chan took matters into their own hands. One of them - I have a pretty good hunch who, but there's no way I can prove it now - knocked me out and put me in the time machine. And, since it was pre-programmed, I ended up here." She reached up to tentatively touch the back of her head again and winced. "I didn't know I'd end up with a mild concussion, though," she admitted lightly.


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