To protect her identity (and her future existence) in her time travel mission, Trunks presents as a man to the gang. She ends up staying in the past a little longer after giving her warning to make a wish to Shenron, then comes back to the past to help deal with the Cyborgs. Another Time Machine appearing changes everything... Gen, unrequited loves and bonds, 13+, this arc covers up to Cell's arrival. canon divergent. Part 1/5 (art made by crimerhyme.tumblr.com, commissioned for this fic)
The rocky formations weren’t the same twenty years in the past, yet the coordinates matched. The air cut sound reached the time traveler’s ears while practicing swordsmanship. Might as well get some katas in, keep the body busy, focused, and ease the stress caused by this strange, days-long anticipation. A fierce battle would take place here in a few hours, Trunks knew as much. And yet, despite the knowledge of how it would end, the halfling was anxious.
Anticipation was the absolute worst feeling.
The Cyborgs could (and would) strike anywhere, at any time, everyone was on high alert at all times, and eventually, they became.. part of their routine. It wasn’t the first hardship the planet had faced, but soon enough, the armed forces were decimated and nobody took down these monsters. The King hadn’t been able to locate the young boy who saved them from Piccolo Daimao, and the alien menace who destroyed parts of East City (Nappa and Vegeta) vanished after their initial strike. So people started to live again, so to speak, and listened to the radio to salvage what could be salvaged. Cyborg drills were taught, some even denied their existence. Bulma recollected how after a couple of months of unopposed terror, insurance companies and banks put cyborg-related clauses in their contracts. Then, it was for all sorts of warranties. Cyborg-related damages will not be covered. However, after a solid ten years of this charade, the infrastructure damages were too much and society at large more or less collapsed. Earthlings went into survival mode. Trunks was used to “survival mode”. Always alert, little, irregular, restless sleep, always on the move, bunkers, rationing food, scavenging, dealing with militias… And rushing to the points of impact, helping people find shelter and hide, reassuring them, freeing them from their prisons of concrete, waiting for Gohan to fight the monsters, so the surviving earthlings could flee in relative safety. Sometimes they’d both arrive when the Cyborgs were still “enjoying” the city, sometimes they were late and there was no one to save. The longer Gohan (and then Trunks) could hold them, keep them busy, keep them amused, the more people could evacuate and find shelter. The cat and mouse game was dreadful, and both Gohan and Trunks more or less managed to read the mood of the killing machines, and adjust their encounter strategies in consequence. Or try to, at least. Failure had meant the loss of a limb, and upon realization, Gohan decided to not risk his pupil’s life the following encounter, at the cost of his own life.
Trunks rubbed her eyes at the painful memory and tightened the grip on her sword.
It just so happens that time travel wasn’t exactly a peer reviewed, reliable science. A trip to a city nearby, and a quick look at the news and weather reports confirmed her fears (and what her watch had told her): she’d arrived a couple of days early. So she had to purchase some supplies to set up camp. Leave it to mother to plan for all possible outcomes, she mused as she paid with an old zeni pre-charged card Bulma had given her. Not that they were of any use back home.
The house now secured in a capsule had been perfect for the grim, silent and lonely wait. The convenience store meals lasted long enough for the few days she would be staying, so she didn't need to go back to the city after her initial scouting mission. Minimum interaction was Plan A.
They had everything planned, up to and including a fairly acceptable way to hide her identity, if things turned wrong. The short hairstyle and a binder under her tank top should do the trick anyway. Surely, a spike of energy would attract the whole gang, and especially him. She hoped she could catch Goku alone after the fight she knew would happen right here, and leave unnoticed, but extra precaution was needed to protect her own existence. Always prepare Plan B, C, D and E. Plan A is always the 'best case scenario that will not resist contact with reality', the wise (and paranoid) mantra spoken by Bulma echoed. Plan B was the reason why she had also sent the precious medicine to three different laboratories with a detailed genome of the virus. Plan C was the reason why she came equipped.
Another swing of her sword against a ghost, and Trunks remembered why she’d kept her hair short, her chest bound. Eighteen had shown particular cruelty towards women (especially those with long beautiful hair, as hers never grew), and neither Gohan nor Bulma managed to discourage the halfling’s desire to fight. Binding also had the grim benefit of keeping broken ribs in place (as long as it wasn’t too tight), and it was easier to make, maintain and repair than find a proper bra in her era. She’d have to actually gender herself as male, however, and not let others assume as they usually did (Trunks never cared how people addressed her). ‘If you have to fight and he sees you, a super Saiyan woman, things will get ugly,’ Bulma had told her. Trunks was torn. On the one hand she hoped to see her father, a father she only knew of from her mother’s sparse words and one lone, stolen picture. On the other hand, everything she knew about him screamed meeting him was a terrible idea; he would never accept her existence, let alone her existence as his child. She was explicitly told to not get her hopes up. The former was her heart’s preference, despite the pain, and she’d practiced answering to masculine language and perfected her gait, just in case Plan A and B failed.
Dread came upon her as she felt immense energies approaching, energies that should have been closely followed by another, friendlier and stronger one. The time hour wasn’t exact either, but that might have been a detail lost in Bulma’s memory.
Trunks sheathed her sword and hid near rocky formations as she extended her awareness, and sensed the arrivals. She hadn’t been the sole to notice the arrival of the Freeza force, as expected. A ki in particular, much fainter than in her memories, strengthened her resolve.
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