CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: STIR-FRY

The relief that Zarbon felt when he saw his home again surpassed all else at the moment. No more crazy aliens. No more Saiya-jin relatives. No more abused women- that is, for now. Zarbon had neatly deposited Zangya at a nearby hotel. Yet more relief. he had been spending altogether too much time around her lately, and had started to pick up some of hermannerisms, like glancing at the floor when someone's talking to you, or flinching when being touched. He had even begun to find scouters somewhat uncomfortable to wear. That last thought was disturbing. And besides all that, he really did miss Salad. She was the light of his life, and lately he just hadn't been around for her.

He wouldn't be surprised if she did try to kill him or make love to him on the spot, or both. What a week. The feeling of relief and pure joy when his card key reader checked out. More familiarity. He opened the door to the sounds and smell of vegetables.

"Hello?" Salad said, not even turning around from whatever she was cooking. Check that, from the stir fry she was cooking. Zarbon could recognize that smell anywhere. Salad enjoyed that type of food just a little too much. Zarbon had always suspected that diet food did a number on the brain. Of course, the Saiya-jin diet wasn't much better.

"I'm back," Zarbon said casually, the way he always did. Salad seemed to get a kick out of it.

Salad stopped cooking in mid toss and literally crashed into Zarbon's arms with a type of anti-grace that only she could have assumed.

"You're home! Kiss, Now." she demanded in a way that only she could. Zarbon complied.

"So, what's cooking?" Zarbon asked.

Salad started, and dashed back to the frying pan. "Dammit! It'll burn!" She ran back to the food and attempted to finish cooking it, but after a few seconds just stopped completely and threw it, food, pan and all, into the sink.

"Forget the Stir-Fry," she said, turning back, toward Zarbon, who had just sat down, "I'm goint to stir-fry you!" the grin on her face was enough to send most men running for cover.

"Salad, give me a minute. I've got a headache. I had a very bad wee-"

That was as far as Zarbon got before Salad literally tackled him, knocking him off the chair and into the table, which broke in two.

***

Zarbon couldn't move. They had stopped a good deal of time ago, but he still couldn't move. His headache had encompassed the rest of his body, and Salad... well, something had gotten into her in the past two weeks. The two broken halves of kitchen table flanking Zarbon's motionless, dishevelled form attested to that. In all of his years as a soldier this had never happened to him before. He'd been blown up (nearly,), trashed, sliced, diced, blasted, pounded, etc. but he was always able to walk away after some time in the Regen tank.

Not even a Regen tank could help him now.

Zarbon moaned.

Salad continued humming as she resumed cooking, as though nothing at all had happened.

There was a quiet knock on the door.

"Come in," Salad nearly sang, "It's unlocked."

Zangya opened the door and stepped into Zarbon's apartment, holding her ID card in hand.

"The hotel wouldn't accept my card unless I had some extra verifitcation from Zarbon, since he issued it and it's under a month old, and what the Hell happened to him?"

"Oh, nothing," Salad sang again, "I just greeted him properly when he came in the door."

The look that Zangya gave Salad could not possibly be described in human terms.

"Are you okay," Salad asked her.

"Fine. Fine. Could I sit down, please?" Zangya asked, looking as though she'd been afflicted with an incurable disease of the Pancreas.

Zarbon secretly decided to himself that he was never going home again if it were around dinnertime. Ever.

***

 

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: EMPEROR REVISITED

 

 

Amidst all of the garish, rounded-out buildings making up the skyline of Capitol's capitol, one stood out among the rest. With it's angular walls and towers, King Cold's palace looked almost like something out of a twisted fantasy novel. It was a testament to the Emperor's intellectual and artistic superiority to his subjects. Of course, one of the reasons for that was because he had conveniently eliminated anybody competant enough to cause trouble- that is, if they had had enough ambition to do so. Cold had never had reason to fear Captain Ginyu and his Body Switch move. Of course, because of the great intellectual dirth on that planet, the Great and Mighty King Cold was perpetually bored. Check that, he was bored most of the time. As of late, King Vegeta had proved to be nearly his peer intellectually, which was outstanding for a Saiya-jin. The two of them would often spend hours each day laying out the foundations of their future Empire, as the two kingdoms would soon become one. One had to wonder what it was they were saying in there, as not even Prince Vegeta or Cold's three Elites were allowed in the meetings.

So, as a result of this, it was virtually impossible to schedule an appointment with the illustrious King Cold.

Zarbon, however, had luck on his side.

Because he and Sauzaa had been buddies since way back when, all that Sauzaa had to do was bump a certain Mr. Nappa from his appointment.

"Deja Vu," Zarbon muttered to himself, sitting in the waiting room, staring at Neizu's less than attractive mug. Was it just him, or had these chairs become less and less comfortable within the past few weeks?

Damned military budget cuts.

The grandiose double doors to the Throne Room opened and King Vegeta came out. Deja Vu again. Only, this time there were no aides and no prince...

Vegeta looked down his nose at Zarbon. "Remind me to talk to you later," the king said as he left the room.

Neizu somply pointed to the door with his thumb, not even looking up. That was about the most articulate Neizu could be.

"Let's go," Zarbon told Zangya, heading for the Throne Room.

***

The first thing that anyone noticed was that King Cold wasn't sipping from his usual glass of wine. He was standing near a window, hands behind back, looking out. Apparently something big had just happened.

"You wished to speak with me?"

Zarbon immediately remembered his graces and knelt. "Yes, Lord Cold."

"Good, then. I suppose it is a progress report?" Cold said as he turned around and faced them.

"Yes, and no, My Lord," Zarbon said, still kneeling, "We have not found any leads on Bojack or his Employer, but we have found something else that concerns Bardock, who is not here right now."

"And why is he missing?"

"That's what I'm trying to explain, my Lord," Zarbon went on, "We found his son, who was supposed to be dead, alive and well on earth. Without proper Saiya-jin training, he had managed to nearly equal us in power, and he was born third-class. Also, his son-"

"Spare me the meaningless prattle. Why are you here?'

Zarbon continued on, "Kakarotto's son is half human, yet he displays more potential than any Saiya-jin I've ever seen. The Humans are intrinsically weak, but when they're mixed in with the Saiya-jin, they seem to gain incredible power."

Cold stopped completely. His eyes gained an interesting gleam in them. "What are you proposing?" he smiled.

"I'm proposing that earth be made a safe world until we decide what to do with it."

"Do you have any more proof of the human/Saiya-jin hybrid?"

"Only the one specimin, sir."

"Then I want him. Bring him to me, and you'll have your Safe World."

"It's as good as done, My Lord," Zarbon said.

King Cold smiled. Vegeta would love to know about this.

***