CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE: SETBACK

 

 

           

            "So, Zarbon, what just happened between you and the prince?"

            "You were close enough that you would have had to strain not to hear him, Zangya. You tell me." he snapped back at her.

            She started back at his sudden outburst.

            Zarbon immediately began to feel guilt. /Damn, I've been hanging around her for too long./

            "Don't worry about it, it's nothing personal."

            She relaxed a little bit.

            "I said, it has nothing to do with you. Calm down."

            She relaxed most of the rest of the way.

            Zarbon just looked up at her and shook his head. "I'm sorry, it's just that dealing with that man..."

            "Say no more," Zangya responded, "Bojack felt the same way about a few of his employers, too."

            Zarbon felt a huge pang of guilt at that one, although she probably didn't mean it that way. he decided that saying anything else would just make it worse, and that it was best to move on with he conversation.

            "Vegeta was just asking to join us again."

            "Why would he do that?"

            "He gave a good reason for it. I really don't want to talk about it right now- I'd rather think for a bit."

            Zangya gave him another puzzled look, then went somewhere else and sat back down. You had to be so careful around that girl- anything you said or did could easily be misinterpreted. Poor thing. She needed help.

            After hearing Bojack's little description of her life, Zarbon began to pity her even more. Well, pity wasn't the right word for it. He cared about her as a friend, and did as much as he could to ease up her life a bit. Some people simply didn't get any breaks while they were alive. She seemed to be one of them.

            Presently the lead tech came up to Zarbon, holding a small writing pad in his hand.

            "There, Mr. Zarbon, we've finished the work on your ship."

            /What? No more Supreme-High Commander of the Universe?/

            The alien went on. "The grand total for the new engine, new drive, better paint job, and repairs to the hull is 9,300,000 credits. How do you wish to pay for it?"

            "Put it on King Cold's tab- he DID say that he was funding the ship."

            The tech shrugged and jotted something down.

            Cold had funded everything else, after all. Either that was a very stupid tech, or the Titan Emperor was backing out on a deal.

            Zarbon voted for the first option.

 

***

 

            Well, the ship DID move a lot faster, that was one thing. With the way everything was going, they should make it back to Earth in only a day or two. that was certainly an improvement from the five days to a week that it had taken with the earlier ship drive.

            Zarbon sat and meditated quietly in the training room. Meditation was as much a part of training as was beating yourself silly, which he was about to do in a couple of minutes. It was useful in that it helped you focus, clear your mind, and relax more in any given situation. A lack of concentration during a fight could kill you as easily as any ki blast, and knowledge of that fact was essential to victory. Zangya had helped him more witht hat lately, and with another basic fact of fighting: Technique was far more important than power.

            She had proven this to him time and time again, every time they trained together. The simple fact was, her technique could beat his power whenever he transformed. The same applied to any opponent out there. Zarbon realized that the might have lasted longer against Gokua the other day if he had not transformed, and instead had followed this maxim. He had tried his best, and had landed several good hits which logically should not have happened. Gokua was how powerful again? 90,000? Easily twice what Zarbon was, yet he had scored several good hits on the mercenary. Knowledge like that was invaluable to a warrior.

            Zarbon finally finished and got up. Now it was time to beat himself silly.

            First, work on defense. So far, Zarbon's defense was really lacking- he often had to transform to take a really large ki blast. That was a major fault in his technique.

            Zarbon checked the gravity machine, then he placed two fingers on his forehead and started charging up, careful not to overdo it and fry himself when he finally released the blast.

            He shot one arm out, clamped his other hand on it, and let our a relatively large Fire Arrow. Just the thing to work on for defense- that attack basically napalmed when it hit.

            He fired it at a slight angle, and added some extra ki to guide the blast around the room, which, for this specific attack, was a task that required training in and of itself.

            Zarbon positioned himself, ready to take the blast full on when Zangya stepped into the training room, completely oblivious to the large speeding firey blast directly behind her.

            "Za-" she got out before Zarbon literally tackled her out of the way with a flying elbow, and shoved his hands out in an attempt to stop the Fire Arrow's advancement.

            Somehow, it failed, as the ki blast instead went wild, flying first straight up, then down again as it hit a semi-unguarded Zarbon directly cross the torso, exploded, and pitched him into the wall and bathing the room with fire. Zarbon's head made a nicely sized hole where it hit.

            Zangya staggered back into the room, looking as though she was expecting a nuclear apocalypse to happen at any time. Some circuit in the now charred gravity machine popped, and the entire thing broke down. The only thing that kept either of them from floating like balloons was the fact that the ships' main gravity machine still checked out pretty well.

            Zangya put her hands on her hips and looked around at the utterly trashed training room, then back at Zarbon, who was just beginning to get up.

            "Only five hours after they fix the thing and you're already actively trying to destroy it."

            "Yes, a regular man of destruction, I am," Zarbon smirked as he stood up and brushed some of the dust and ashes off his armour. He hadn't really sustained much damage, but the training room was another story. No one's power level would be increasing today.

            "So, Zangya, any insights as to where I went wrong?"

            She shrugged her shoulders as the ship jolted as though hit, and started to tilt on its axis.

            Zarbon turned to Zangya. "I didn't do it," he commented as the ship jolted again.

            Zarbon ran out to the main control room as the ship shook again. He didn't need to pull up any readouts to know that they had somehow wandered into a magnetic storm- the view out of the window confirmed that fact well enough.

            Zarbon started checking the ship's diagnostics while Zangya came in.

            She looked over his shoulder into the monitors. "What's going on?" she asked him.

            "Just lookout the viewport and tell me," he said, not really paying attention.

            "Oh," Zangya replied, "A magnetic storm. I hate those. Shouldn't this ship be able to handle them?"

            "If it weren't government-built, I'd say yes," Zarbon replied dryly, "But, we're dealing with Cold's empire here."

            He didn't have to finish that thought.

            "We're going to have to land this early and recharge. The ship's power cells are drained."

 

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