Chapter 2184: Perception
After informing Sarina and Goku of their departure, Vahn packed everything up before creating a barrier around Grandpa Gohan's house. He doubted anything would happen to it while they were away. However, as this was a version of Dragon Ball even he was unfamiliar with, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Once everyone was ready to go, Bulma, having already recovered from the previous incident, pulled out a Capsule containing a rather intriguing motorbike. It was a lot more compact than the varieties Vahn was familiar with, and, rather than a simple windshield blocking air and insects from the front, there was a bulletproof strip of glass that ran from the front to the back of the motorcycle in an arc.
"That's a rather interesting design..."
Interpreting Vahn's words as a compliment, a smile developed across Bulma's face as she donned her goggles and said, "Thanks. I designed it myself. It uses gyroscopic technology to prevent slips and the arc shield can even stop armor-piercing rounds. It causes a few drag issues at high speeds but it's a heck of a lot better than getting shot in the back."
Resisting the urge to ask why she needed a bulletproof windshield, Vahn pondered for a moment before purchasing a hoverbike that vaguely resembled a modified, gas-powered scooter from his Shop. The technological development of Dragon Ball was actually pretty advanced, but, perhaps as a result of the creator's background, a lot of the designs had a retro vibe reminiscent of steam and dieselpunk.
"Oh, wow. Is that a hoverbike? How'd you come across something like that? Last I heard, the King was still considering legislation to authorize their use outside of the cities. You might get arrested if you get caught riding that thing off a closed track."
Though a few countries had already passed laws allowing their usage, hover technology was still relatively new. The oldest hover cars were only around ten years old, and, due to the prevalence of other forms of transport, the companies that manufactured them were having a hard time getting them street legal. She should know, her father was the one who 'invented' them. (A/N: Bulma's dad reverse-engineered Jaco's spaceship and basically stole most of the technologies contained within.)
Unconcerned by the laws of the 'mundane' world, Vahn took a seat on the hoverbike before revving up the anti-gravity engine. This was actually the first time he was piloting such a vehicle, but, with a night-absolute mastery over his body and a mind comparable to a supercomputer, there were very few control systems he couldn't instantaneously master.
While Bulma was slightly huffy due to Vahn ignoring her, Sarina was staring at the hoverbike with expectant eyes. Unfortunately for her, Vahn didn't even hesitate before explaining, "As part of your training, both you and Goku will be traveling on foot. If you just want to joy ride, you'll have to wait until we make camp."
Deadpanning the moment she heard Vahn's words, Sarina asked, "Are you serious...?" in a flat and lifeless tone. In response, Vahn returned a smile, suggesting, "I can run alongside you if you like...?"
Feeling marginally better after hearing Vahn's proposal, a smile developed across Sarina's face as she promptly replied, "No. It's fine. I was just a little surprised. I know you could probably circle the planet in less than a second so I can't really complain if you just want to relax..."
Hearing Sarina's comment, Bulma's brows perked up as she intoned a disbelieving, "Huh? What are the two of you on about...?"
Since it didn't really matter if people had a general understanding of his strength, Vahn maintained a relaxed smile as he shrugged his shoulders and said, "It might be difficult for you to believe right now, but I can travel faster than light. With enough training, anyone can."
Without hesitating, Bulma immediately refuted Vahn's words. One of her primary interests, at least in regards to research, was physics. She knew it was possible to travel faster than light, but, without a ludicrously powerful engine and a stabilization field generator, matter would be ripped apart and converted to energy when approaching the speed of light. No person could move that fast...
Deciding it would save time if he just demonstrated his speed for her, Vahn appeared next to Bulma in an instant before picking her up in a princess carry. Then, before she could even finish squealing, their surroundings blurred like a technicolored rainbow before they instantaneously appeared atop a mountain on the opposite side of the world.
"Feel free to pull out and check your GPS. You'll find we just traveled a little more than 20,000km in less time than it took you to process the fact I picked you up."
Though she was about to call Vahn a pervert and give him a tongue lashing for daring to pick her up without permission, Bulma hesitated upon noticing how drastically different their surroundings had become. Then, as directed, she pulled out her Dragon Radar before activating its GPS function to determine their current coordinates. When she confirmed they were, in fact, on the opposite side of the planet, the color promptly drained from her face.
"As I and Sarina will keep telling you, there is much about this world you don't know. While there is nothing wrong with believing in the knowledge you have obtained, it is dangerous to surmise that everything you think you know is correct. There are places in the Universe where conventional laws don't apply. Beyond that, there are entities capable of wiping out planets and consuming stars for breakfast..."
Not wanting to keep Sarina and Goku waiting too long, Vahn punctuated his words by zipping back to their location at a much slower speed. He wanted Bulma to understand he wasn't just pulling a fast one on her, so, while it was a little eerie from her point of view, he moved them through space at a little over 100,000km/h. This gave her a solid twelve minutes to think about his words, her eyes glossing over slightly due to the rapid changes in their surroundings...
Coming to a stop a few meters away from his initial position, Vahn was unsurprised to find Sarina and Goku looking guilty as a thick plume of smoke rose from his now-destroyed hoverbike.
Setting Bulma on the ground, Vahn increased the blunette's befuddlement by waving his hand and returning the hoverbike to its previous condition. Since the Actualized World was a part of him, he didn't require his domain to control the flow and direction of entropy. He could even sidestep into parallel worlds, so, while he had limited himself to operating within the Standard Axis, Vahn had no qualms about undoing the damages caused by Sarina's little mishap.
Without bothering to inquire about the incident itself, Vahn left Sarina feeling even guiltier as he approached her and asked, "Are you okay...?" in a gentle and concerned tone. When she attempted to look away, he extended his hand to caress her cheek, gently guiding her gaze to meet his own as he said, "You've done nothing worth feeling guilty about. Just be a little more careful the next time, okay...?"
After a curt nod of affirmation, Sarina moved close enough that she could rest her forehead against Vahn's chest. In response, he embraced her in his arms, gently squeezing her as he rested his cheek against the top of her head. This earned them a pouty look from Bulma, who, once again, bounced back remarkably quickly...
Witnessing everything from the side, Goku ended up scratching the back of his head as he asked, a disarming expression on his face as he asked, "Weren't we supposed to be going somewhere...?"
Nodding his head, Vahn released Sarina from his embrace before pinching her cheek as he replied, "Indeed. We've got a long journey ahead of us. Can't keep stalling at the first step..."
Though his words were a response to Goku, Vahn was also reminding Sarina that this was just the start of a 'very' long journey. They had basically agreed to spend the next thirty years here, so, while they were bound to experience setbacks along the way, she couldn't let them weigh too heavily on her mind. Rather, the sooner she could bounce back in the face of adversity, the faster her strength would increase.
Smiling in understanding, Sarina pulled Vahn's collar in order to plant an uncharacteristically chaste kiss on his lips before releasing him to tease, "Try not to fall too far behind while I'm running. I don't mind you staring at my butt but try not to make it too obvious..."
Resisting his almost instinctual urge to reach around and grab Sarina's butt, Vahn forced a smile as he said, "Now that you've planted the thought in my mind, it would be rude not to..."
Giggling in response to Vahn's words, Sarina planted a second kiss on his cheek before using her [REquip] System to change into something more suitable for running. This caused the envious look on Bulma's face to promptly morph into one of intrigue as she asked, "Huh? How'd you suddenly change outfits?"
Though she was briefly tempted to tease Bulma by saying it was none of her business, Sarina changed her mind mid-thought, answering, "It's a perk of being one of Vahn's lovers. It's called the [REquip] System and it allows me to change everything from my underwear to my accessories with little more than a thought. It's super convenient."
Demonstrating the [REquip] System's capabilities, Sarina quick-changed into more than a dozen different outfits over the course of her explanation. This left Bulma absolutely speechless, not just because she wanted a [REquip] System of her own but because she understood the impact such a device would have on the clothing industry.
As an experienced investor and one of the most profligate shoppers in the entire world, Bulma was well aware of the value of each market. The clothing industry was a stable, 368 trillion Zeni market. If something like the [REquip] System was introduced, the market would invariably collapse. In the process, however, the company that manufactured it would make an incomprehensible fortune...
Seeing past Vahn's good looks for the first time, Bulma saw him for what he truly was: a cash cow. He could produce objects out of thin air, repair destroyed equipment with a wave of his hand, and travel around the world in an instant. She lacked even a basic understanding of how he was able to perform these feats, but, when it came to brass tacks, the only thing that truly mattered was that he 'could' perform such feats.
With Zeni symbols briefly appearing in her eyes, a profiteering smile developed across Bulma's face as she inquired, "You wouldn't happen to have another one of those [REquip] Systems lying around, would you? I don't know about becoming lovers but I'm sure we could...work something out..."
As her three greatest weaknesses were money, handsome men, and unknown technologies, Bulma couldn't prevent the interior of her mouth from watering as she stared at Vahn like a wolf eyeing a fat sheep. She suddenly felt as though she had hit the jackpot by encountering him near the start of her journey, as, depending on how she handled the situation, she might not even need the Dragon Balls...
While Bulma was in the process of eyeing Vahn like prey, a mature woman with pink skin, pointed ears, fiery orange hair, and vibrant, honey-colored eyes had a very similar expression on her face as she remarked, "How peculiar. I've never seen anyone that solely exists in the present. It's almost like he has become the primary point of reference for the timeline. Even Tokitoki doesn't have this kind of power..."
Unable to comprehend Vahn's existence despite more than a hundred million years of accumulated knowledge and experience, the inordinately buxom Goddess just shook her head before turning to the side and pausing when she noticed there was no one else present. A sensation of incongruency unlike anything she had ever experienced washed over her, but, moments later, it vanished entirely as she asked herself, "What am I thinking? This is the Time Nest. Why would anyone else be here...?"
As the sole caretaker of the Tokitoki bird, a divine creature with the unique ability to produce time, the pink-skinned woman was the only person authorized to be in the Time Nest. There used to be another person, a Mage by the name of Demigra, but he had been dealt with more than 98 million years ago. Since then, she had dutifully monitored the various timelines for any signs of tampering, a thankless yet incomparably important duty that couldn't afford distractions...
"It really is strange...I've been living alone for nearly a hundred million years. Why do I suddenly feel as though I've lost something irreplaceable...?"
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Dr. Briefs, the Opportunist xD...','Vahn is fast as fuck, boiiiii~','Oh no...')