Zarbon and Zangya entered King Cold's palace again. Zarbon felt a small lump rise in his throat. When King Cold asked to see someone after they had failed at something...

            He didn't want to think about it.

            They sat in the Royal Waiting Room with a kind of uncanny silence. Doore was behind the receptionist's desk, and although the presence of that green hulk was usually enough to instill a certain kind of silence, this kind was different. It was one of fear, and of dread.

            King Cold was not known to be nice.

            The door opened, and a few high-ranking soldiers left. Zarbon was almost shocked that King Vegeta wasn't one of them, considering how chummy he and Cold were as of late.

            Sauzaa steppd out of the doorway and beckoned a finger toward Zarbon and Zangya. He didn't look to be in the best of spirits, either.

            They entered the Throne Room.




            "Sauzaa, leave," King Cold commanded.

            Sauzaa left.

            King Cold turned toward the two of them. "So, now," he began, "I see that you had a little run-in with an old friend?"

            Zangya cringed. Zarbon somehow managed to keep his composure. "Yes, My Lord, we did. We found Bojack on Capitol and foolishly engaged him in combat."

            "Yes, that was foolish," Cold dismissed, "But that's not the issue. What matters is what happened afterward."

            Zarbon cocked his head. "What do you mean, My lord?"

            "What I mean," Cold answered, "Is what happened to Bojack after the fight. We have attempted to track him, but something very interesting has come up."

            Zarbon listened very intently.

            "He was last seen exiting a massage parlor. He and his men have disappeared. Apparently they have something to fear."

            Zarbon's heart missed a couple of beats. /What the Hell...?!/

            "They're obviously not afraid of You," Cold continued, "But it seems that you made them think a little bit. You may have failed in the short run, but in the long run this could prove good... or bad."

            "What do you mean?" Zarbon asked.

            "What I mean is," King Cold said, rising from his throne, "Either you have just helped the investigation, or you have ruined it by putting them in hiding," His smile turned into a frown. "If that is so, and if you cannot find him, then I am going to be forced to terminate your mission."

            Zarbon swallowed. Hard.

            "In fact," Cold went on, "Now that I think about it, it seems that all that you have been able to accomplish on this mission of yours is to drive the target into hiding, and make him almost totally untraceable. In fact, his employer is now probably going to be impossible to find. In fact," he paused for a moment, "You may have just failed completely. I may have been mistaken in choosing you for this mission."

            Beads of sweat appeared on Zarbon's brow. He swallowed again.

            "Sometimes I wonder why I trusted you with this entire mission. You're nothing but a mediocre soldier. You and a worthless little piece of fluff who seems to be worth nothing except as a background prop." he shook his head. "I don't know why I ever trusted you with anything."

            Zarbon gritted his teeth. This was the one thing he had always feared, more than death- rejection. He lived to please... to please Salad, to please his friends, to please his KING.

            Of course, he really didn't seem to be doing well with that, now, was he? Salad was fine, okay, and so seemed Sauzaa, but Zangya still acted as though someone had thrown her into a cuisinart, and Jeice...

            /Hello, Mr. Zarbon! This is your guilt speaking! I bet you didn't know that Jeice died because he was trying to save your life, did you? Oh, you did? Well, here I am to remind you again! It's all your fault, Zarbon. All your fault. And now King Cold has finally realized it, too. You're nothing more than a failure. A worthless failure./

            A single tear started to travel down Zarbon's cheek. Zangya saw it from the corner of her eye and took note of it. Zarbon wiped it away before King Cold turned back around and faced them.

            "However, I am a merciful man," he said with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "And I am willing to give you a way out. Do you remember the Saiya-jin Human hybrid you told me about? The boy, Gohan? I want to see him now. I want you to bring him here as soon as possible, without delay. You've wasted enough time, lounging around here."

            Zarbon breathed a little more easily. He wasn't going to be a complete failure, after all.

            "And when we're done with that," Cold told them, "You may resume your search for Bojack and his elusive employer. You are dismissed."

            They both got up, but Zarbon hung back a bit until Zangya left. He bowed deeply to King Cold.

            "Thank you, Cold-Sama. I will not forget this."

            "Just leave," was Cold's reply.