The Andromedan Elite were more than a little shaken.
"Iie! Impossible! That little halfling isn't that powerful!"
"He - he's gone?!"
One lone soldier turned to his comrades and glared at them.
"We must continue the battle! Even if we meet our deaths, the Inner Circle cannot have died in vain!"
One by one, the Andromedans nodded, and turned their attentions back to the Z Senshi.
The Chikyuu force blinked as one, and Yamcha shook his head, making a tsking sound.
"Some people never know when to quit," he said.
Juunana never stopped to think. The moment Zukani began to fall, he flew to where he was sure she would hit, leaving his sister to stare after him in amazement.
/Perhaps,/ she thought to herself, the ghost of a smile playing on her lips, /perhaps there is hope for him after all./
The Jinzouningen caught the half-Saiyan moments before she would have hit the ground. She felt so limp, so lifeless... it pained him to see her like this. Her eyelids fluttered slightly as she struggled to pull herself back to consciousness, finally opening her eyes the tiniest bit, and her weak smile returned.
"Juunana," she whispered, unable to speak any louder.
"Hush," he ordered the half-Saiyan girl. "Save your energy."
"I've got nothing left to lose," she joked weakly, barely managing a laugh. "What about the other Andromedans?"
Juunana smiled at the girl cradled in his arms, eyes shimmering. "Everything's under control, princess. The only ones who've escaped are Mikari and Anara." He didn't mention the fact that her father and brother were chasing them down, and had probably already taken them out.
Zukani reached out to take her friend's hand. Her time was running out, and she knew there was no way to change that. Oddly enough, she didn't regret her actions - her sacrifice had saved everyone she loved, and that was enough for her.
"Get them," she whispered, squeezing his hand. "They're too dangerous to let live."
"We'll catch them, Zu-chan. Don't worry."
She smiled up at him, her vision beginning to blur. "See you in a few days," she said, her voice fading to nothing. Then her head fell limply against his chest, and her eyelids slid closed one last time.
One tear slid down the Jinzouningen's cheek. He didn't bother to brush it away as he bent his head and softly kissed his friend's cheek.
"A few days," he whispered to her, still holding her tight even though she was gone.
Anara glanced behind her as a blinding white light filled the sky, and she shielded her eyes, a slight frown creasing her brow. Mikari pulled to a stop and turned to see what the commotion was all about. A slow smile crossed his face, and he turned to his female counterpart.
"Either the monster was more powerful than we gave her credit for, or our illustrious leader has taken care of his little oversight," he said, a note of amusement in his voice.
The female shook her head. "Iie," she said slowly, still frowning. "A blast like that would have killed them both."
Mikari shrugged. "Good, then I won't have to do it myself. Come on," he said, turning his back to the explosion. "We have to put some distance between ourselves and the Z Senshi if we're going to come back and finish up later."
"Well, aren't you two loyal?"
Both Andromedans froze at the sound of that voice. If they'd even had any chance of escaping, it was gone now.
"What do you expect from a couple of cowards, Papa?" the lavender-haired halfling said to his father in a low voice.
"Hai," Vegeta agreed, a cold smile on his face. "Perhaps we should put them out of their misery, ne?"
"Well..." Trunks said, his smile mirroring his father's. "Perhaps it would be for the best."
True, cold fear gripped at Mikari's soul for the first time in his life. One look at Anara confirmed that she was just as frightened as he was. The pair nodded silently to one another, another silent message passing between them: /RUN!/
"There they go again," Trunks sighed in annoyance. "I'm started to get tired of this."
Vegeta didn't answer. He merely held up both hands in a 'stop' position. Trunks smiled slightly. If his father was nothing else, at least he was thorough.
The two Andromedans never really had the chance to escape. None at all.
Once the Z Senshi finished off the remainder of the Andromedan Elite, they went off in search of their comrades. They found Juuhachi keeping silent watch over her brother and the body of the young Saiyan. No words were spoken, and none were needed. Everyone was stunned by the loss of the girl. There was nothing else to do but wait for Trunks and Vegeta to return.
/She sacrificed herself to save us all,/ Goku thought, a slight frown making him look more Saiyan than he normally did.
/Hai,/ Vegeta agreed as he and Trunks joined the others. /She knew what she had to do, and didn't hesitate./ Goku didn't bring it up, but he detected a note of sadness in his friend's thoughts.
Trunks seemed to be holding his own, but his eyes were haunted - he had actually felt Zukani slip away through the link they shared, and the loss was affecting him greatly. He was the only one besides Juuhachi who was able to get close to Juunana, and both boys seemed to need that connection - both had been with her in some way as she faded away.
Three days passed in a haze, quickly for those who were seeking the Dragon Balls, slower for those still in deep mourning. Juuhachi and Bulma kept a close eye on Trunks and Juunana the entire time, which was a simple task since neither one did much of anything save eat, sleep, and stare at the TV. Bra was well aware of what had happened, and spent her time with the two older boys, giving both hugs at odd moments and receiving small smiles in return. Goten also spent a lot of time with his two friends, keeping them updated on everything he could think of. Piccolo, Goku, Vegeta, Gohan and Yamcha spent the entire time searching for the Dragon Balls.
Finally, it was time to summon Shen Long, the eternal dragon of Chikyuu. It wasn't hard to decide what to wish for; there had been only one fatality in this particular battle. The words were spoken, the wish was granted. The sky returned to its normal blue, and seven stones flew to the four corners of the planet. Everyone looked around, trying to locate the half-Saiyan girl that they had worked so hard to retrieve, and lowered their heads when she couldn't be found.
"Why all the long faces?" chirped a familiar voice behind them. "Did someone die again?"
"Zukani!!" Trunks and Juunana cried in unison, both quickly reaching the girl's side and nearly smothering her.
"Gee, didja miss me much?" she joked as she freed herself, albeit somewhat reluctantly, from the exuberant embrace.
"Lots," Goten replied, hugging her himself. "We all did."
Back to the zone...