Life Sentence
by The Dragonball Zone     More by this Writer
In this multi part episode, based on "the Lonely" by Rod Serling, Gohan is a prisoner on a penal asteroid, where a rocket stops only once in a while to drop off supplies. When his latest delivery comes, he finds it a surprising new item for a need he had not anticipated.

Author’s Notes: This is a series of one-shots, operating in the “Dragonball Zone” – conspired upon with Lord Truhan. This episode was provided by Starbearer TM.
Male Pregnancy



Chapter 01 : Supply Rocket Visits
Disclaimer: I don’t own Dragon Ball Z, it was created by Akira Toryama. This work of fiction is inspired by and based on the Twilight Zone episode "The Lonely", written by Rod Serling, aired 1959.

An old man wearing a heavy turtle shell strides onto the stage where hard ground crackles underfoot. He pushes up his sunglasses and looks over at the horizon.

“Boy I'm glad I’ve got these shades on a planetoid like this! Those twin suns shine down like scorchers.”

He holds up his gnarled wooden staff and gestured to the rising discs that now peek above the horizon. “Consider if you will a prisoner on this world, who is sentenced to years alone. He has only his imagination for company. Oh, and those machines he's building. He's a smart lad but they are his only current companions.”

“This is asteroid west belt 439, also called Pauzu 439 to the astronauts that pass by this belt every six months to drop off supplies. Every ounce is weighed meticulously, so they can only bring essentials. Food, water, and sometime a little surprise or two.”

“Lt. Gohan Son, prisoner of a crime that carried a penalty of solitary confinement. But in this time and place the prisons for his sort are asteroids with enough atmosphere for a man to breathe.”


Twin suns burned down on cracked terrain. The cracks seemed to radiate in what first appeared to be a random pattern, yet overall resembled odd tiling left by some ancient race.

Light reflected off the top of a corrugated metal roof that covered a low building. Its shade cast stark against the cracked landscape. Neat piles of electronics either baked in the dual sunlight or plunged into the dark shadow of the domicile. Its current occupant was only one inhabitant.

“Good morning Solar Panels. Good morning sky…” the inhabitant called out.

This occupant wore a broad brimmed hat for the full light of sun, moving from pile to pile. Gohan picked up pieces to carry to a glass and metal structure. Once setting them down the sole inhabitant of this small world dug into cracked soil and made a deep hole. Gohan placed a bowl in the bottom of it before they spread plastic over top. This would allow for sun to shine inside. Not far away the inhabitant pulled plastic off the top of a similar hole and retrieved a bowl filled with water.

Daily he made the trek to collect water. Not because he had to, but because he wanted some measure of control over the elements. The large jugs of water he had inside his hut were enough for drinking, but these small solar stills helped with his other projects.

“It’s just me. It’s hot today. But you should be glad you’re inside,” Gohan spoke to one ahead of him.

The latest was that odd-looking sculpture of glass pieces set into a metal framework. Wiping sweat from his forehead with a soft cloth the dark-haired inhabitant carried his collected water into the hut and poured it into a tank.

“Thanks for the water today, Icarus…”

He carefully turned a screw with a wrench, saying, “Is that tight enough? I know you hate it when it’s too lose. You lose your bolts, huh?”

A sphere began to rotate once the steam pressurized enough. It was heated by the glass and metal panel atop the roof. Gohan smiled, rubbing the machine’s panel as he crooned, “There we are, you’re in good voice. I’ve heard that song before…”

Gears clanked wearily. They locked teeth in their once a day dance. The whistle of steam clattered the mechanism to life. Shaking his head Gohan said, “You sound tired. I know I’m tired,”

He recalled the pieces and bits had been brought each trip the rocket stooped to give him this latest hobby; to assemble an old-fashioned steam engine he could utilize for whatever he wished. On the side of it he painted the words, “Icarus.”

“Don’t let the other guys tell you you’re obsolete, Icarus. I like you just the way you are. No you are NOT superfluous…” Gohan urged, rubbing the panel where the name was written.

While the engine served no practical purpose on the face of things, it carried Gohan into other places mentally. Focusing on its maintenance and function converted it into a companion cube of sorts. Today it hummed in the background to mask the hollow noise of the wind. Long ago Gohan had a pet bearing the same name. To him it was interesting how being isolated brought back so many lost memories from another world.

“You need more oil?” Gohan muttered to the engine. In front of him to the side lay open a series of bound sheets of paper. He poised his pencil during making marks.

A low squeak answered him. Gohan sighed and reached for a small bottle. He dripped golden liquid onto the place in question once he stopped the engine. What he heard was not the wind, but a boom that rattled windows.

“Yes! Company. We’d better spread out the welcome mat, Icarus!”

Leaping to his feet Gohan pushed aside the notebook. He shoved the pencil behind one ear as he rushed out the door. In the long shadows cast by the suns at a low angle he saw a white streak across the sky. Those few steps outside carried him towards where several chairs were stacked. Hastily he set them opposite each other under the shade provided by a long overhang of roof.

“Okay, Icarus, I remember what they like,” Gohan called into the house.

He rushed back inside to where a jug held several bags suspended just inside the lid. In the direct path of the sun golden liquid brewed. Taking the jug outside he set it on the table. The roar of wind almost blew his hat off if he didn't have it secured to his chin with a string. A large sphere blocked the sun before it extended spidery metallic legs beneath. It hovered for a few seconds to shift back and forth to the flattest part of the terrain.

“C’mon, stop showing off, Krillin,” chuckled Gohan with a small smile.

A loud crunch later bent the legs just a bit when the craft landed. They sprung back to the original length. Gohan stayed back approximately ten meters. When he saw the ladder extend and hit the soil he poured two glasses of the sun brewed tea. Vapor hissed off the hatch as it opened. One figure in an orange suit stepped out, then climbed down the ladder.

After them a slightly taller figure clambered down, taller than the first. Both removed their helmets. All the while Gohan kept his distance, mindful of the drawn pistol of the taller one trained on him. Long hair tied back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck, the taller one said, “I’m sorry Son… it's nothing personal.”

“Lt. Yamcha, you're just doing your job,” Gohan said with a small smile.

“Bet you didn't expect us so soon, eh, Gohan?” the said other with the shaved head--not bald thank you very much-- as he walked over to the prisoner.

Gohan nodded as he pulled out two chairs from the small table. He offered, “Sit down, make yourselves at home, gentlemen.”

He heard a snicker from Yamcha, “Gentlemen? You’re always so polite, Son. Are you sure you’re a…”

“Some tea?” Gohan offered, handing each a glass. At the same time, he lifted his to his mouth the other two did. In tandem the trio swigged a portion of the strong liquid. It recalled brown crisp leaves chased by a sweet burst of snow. The taste lingered after swallowing.

“I’ll have to say I'm surprised that you made tea that puts me in the mood to mix liquor with it,” said Yamcha licking his lips.

“You've got to be strong to drink tea like this. It's not your usual synthetic lyophilized fare, resurrected by a hydrator,” Gohan commented with the ghost of a smile on his lips.

“You've still got that big brain vocabulary intact,” Krillin noted with a chuckle. He took a tiny sip next.

“A man’s vocabulary withers to nothing if he doesn't occupy his mind,” said Gohan.

“You must talk a lot to these plants in that greenhouse you built up over there,” Yamcha quipped.

“It's better company than the wall, but not quite as breathtaking as the night sky,” Gohan said handing over his journal. Krillin and Yamcha each looked at the neatly printed letters and coordinates. Instead of star maps in light they were rendered in black and white with ink.

Krillin whistled at this, shaking his head. He commented, “Howling comets, you still squeeze star mapping in with tinkering with that engine…”

“You're welcome to meet Icarus if you like,” said Gohan, holding up the pitcher. “And perhaps play a game of chess?”

“Icarus? Well I guess anything can fill your solar sails,” Yamcha chuckled as he shrugged.

“No thanks, I'm good. You need that strong tea more than I do,” Krillin refused with a wavering laugh. It sounded as if it concealed a shudder.

“Your loss,” said Gohan, dark eyes still moving from man to man. Only the whistle of the wind spoke for the next minute.

“Um… well we should unload the supplies. I mean this is a drop off,” Krillin interrupted. He rubbed the back of his head.

“Of course,” said Yamcha. “Why don't you meet Icarus while I start a game with Son here? It'd be rude to refuse…”

“You sure?” Krillin asked, only taking one step toward the door.

“I insist,” said Yamcha, giving a hard stare. These scars on his face intensified it. Krillin gulped and nodded.
***

Once Krillin viewed the machine, he agreed it was developing well. Gohan nodded, then both returned to the world outside where Yamcha had unloaded a large pile of crates. Krillin yelped, “Whoops, I forgot something! Be right back!”

Puzzled why Krillin looked so nervous Gohan looked among the supplies. Yamcha caught his attention saying, “I brought you a new project. It's kind of hush hush, so…”

“New project? An automobile to assemble?” Gohan quipped with a sideways head tilt.

Across his throat Yamcha drew his finger, then muttered, “Not… a… word. Its experimental. But make sure you keep it warm… because it will end up keeping you warm when it develops.”

The corners of Gohan's lips quirked as his dark brows knitted. With narrowed eyes he queried, “What is it ?”

“A new living thing,” Yamcha trailed off. He leaned in close enough so Gohan could feel the breath on his cheek and the intensity of the vibes coming off the rocket pilot.

Gohan’s curiousity increased in magnitude as he glanced at the other. He asked, “so what is this object about which you are so cryptic?”

Even though the proximity of the pilot felt surprisingly good to Gohan, the prisoner discerned a pitying look in Yamcha's eyes. He seized Gohan’s upper left arm with a grip like a pneumatic robot pincer. Yamcha gazed toward the spaceship out of the corner of his eye while he said, “It's in the greenhouse. You need to keep it warm. Besides, you're smart enough to know what it is when you see it.”

Already a cold chill prickled Gohan’s exposed skin. Since their game time had flown by and he could tell because, Yamcha’s shadow and his had grown in length. One star burned fiercely in the sky, with a blue tint. Both men glanced over at it piercing the hazy reddish sky that had shifted from normal blue.

“Yamcha,” the other called out. Gohan and Yamcha spun around.

Krillin dashed up, while tapping his wrist. He shouted, “Oh my gosh we almost forgot our delivery to the Ceres penal colony!”

“Well well, the fun’s over now. Enough nonsense. Be good now, Son,” Yamcha chuckled, patting Gohan on the shoulder. Under his touch Gohan tensed though his body ached for any touch from another living being.

“See you around the spiral arm, Son!” Krillin called out as he strode over to Gohan with an extended hand. Unlike flinching Gohan grasped the other pilot’s hand firmly.

Gohan’s smile spread across his face while he shook the other’s hand, saying, “Same here, Krillin. Give my regards to your wife 18 at home. Has she had that baby yet?”

A faint pink spread across the other’s cheeks absent of a nose. Rubbing his shoulder Krillin rotated one arm. “He he, well if I don't get back before she’s born 18 will make me sleep out on the sofa unit. My back is already sore…”

“Later,” Yamcha said waving. He grabbed Krillin by the sleeve of his space suit. Before he walked away, Yamcha smirked.

Gohan’s narrow eyes stuck halfway between death ray stare and irritation mode. Shading his eyes with one hand he watched the fire erupt beneath the landing craft. Its light almost seared his eyes the instant before it rose into the air to escape the gravity of the planetoid.

He found himself mumbling, “Until the next time…”

In the pit of his stomach he felt bitterness bubbling up. They could leave here, but he was always the one waving goodbye. Marking the days till the rocket’s next return. The chess board and checker board would wait for another game, unusued unless he played against himself. Krillin had a wife to return to, and Yamcha had his own lover and family. Seldom did they see their loved ones, but they had the CHOICE.

“And I don’t. Stuck here… for Dende knows how long…” Gohan gritted, his hands forming fists. He squeezed his eyes shut and puffed out a long sigh.



Illustration(s) for this story by various artist(s)

Life Sentence Life Sentence
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