CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE: QUIET TIME

 

 

 

 

 

            Salad knocked on the door to the hotel room that she and Zarbon shared. "Zarbon, I know you're in there! Open up!" She shouted, sounding like a 1970's cop-show reject. There was no answer. She tried the lock again, just to see if by some miracle it had magically unlocked itself. "Hiding in there and sulking won't help anything!" she shouted through the door again. "So what if you can't take anyone to King Cold for a month? TH=hey're not THAT annoying! You should be scheduling their audience with Vegeta instead!"

            "Bardock and Seripa are already on it!" he yelled back, "Leave me alone!"

            Salad crossed her arms and stared at the door. The workings of a plan began to creep into her head.

            The best way to avoid having to spend time with a bunch of Saiya-jin and assorted crazies from earth, Zarbon reasoned, was to fake a bad mood and to go "sulk" for a while. Said sulking usually involved watching TV, eating foods that were banned on most diets, and smiling a lot.

            He had just finished his food, and was beginning to run out of things to watch on the television. Zarbon considered taking a nap when a large knocking sound emanated from his left.

            He was about to give the usual silent treatment to whoever it was when he realized that the door was to his right. The window was to his left.

            Zarbon got up, wiped a few crumbs off his lap, and opened the curtain to see Salad standing on the small balcony, pounding on the window, with a very determined look on her face.

            Zarbon looked around her to see exactly how she could have gotten up there. There seemed to be nothing.

            He slid the window open, and was completely oblivious to whatever it was that the sas saying as he looked around the balcony, desperately trying to find anything that would explain her appearance on the really small ledge.

            "Zarbon! Are you even listening to me?" was the first thing that actually got through to him.

            He shook his head, as if awakened out of deep thought. "What was that? I couldn't quite hear."

            Salad made a low growling noise and came within inches of strangling her husband to death- if that were actually possible.

            "How did you-?" he went on, not seeming to wait for her to speak.

            "I went next door, took a flying leap, grabbed ahold of the fire escape stairway, and swung my way over here. I may have a power level of five, but I'm persistent."

            Zarbon just gaped at her. "That's a four-story drop."

            "Tell me about it," she said as she pushed him over the edge. There was a loud crash as Zarbon hit what sounded like garbage cans.

            Moments later, he flew back up, very obviously having fallen into a dumpster.

            "Now my uniform's all ruined!"

            "You have others," she retorted, "And we can always wash this one. Now, would you mind letting me in this time? I don't want to have to pull the gymnast routine again."

            Zarbon made a low, incoherent sound that Salad took to mean "Yes." She walked into the hotel suite.

            "Now, the next time that you want to go all depressive and lock yourself away from all possible contact, will you please invite me in, or at least notify me first?"

            "I wasn't depressed. I was taking advantage of some quiet time."

            "As I said, please invite me to join you next time."

            "Time with you really isn't that quiet."

            "I know," she said with a grin as he came back in. "I prefer it that way."

            "If you'll excuse me," he said, walking past her, "I'm going to take a shower before I track garbage everywhere."

            "Won't you be lonely?"

            "That's why I locked myself in here," he said, heading toward the bathroom.

            And that's why I found a way in," she replied, following him, "It's my Kami-given duty to keep you from having any peace and quiet for as long as you live."

            "You had a bad childhood, didn't you?" Zarbon asked wryly.

            "Obviously not as bad as yours," she responded.

 

***

 

            Like some others, King Vegeta enjoyed his quiet time, although he preferred to spend it differently. before he had begun his reign, the King had always made it a point to set aside at least a half hour in every week to play the violin. During that period of time, all attendants would leave the throne room, and no one would be allowed an audience with him, even if it were his son or King Cold Himself. The whole world could be blowing up, and still Vegeta would keep making music. On some particularly quiet days, the classical-style music would emanate from the throne room and fill the castle in all of its glory.

            The King of the Saiya-jin closed his eyes as he let the bow go across the strings, immersing himself in the music. He slowly and regretfully brought the piece to a close, ending on the tonic chord to give it full closure.

            He opened the small compartment beneath his throne, and set the musical instrument in its case, as delicately and as carefully as one would handle a child. In a way this was true, since unlike his son, music would never fail him. He could fail it, but true music was always sweet, beautiful, satisfying to the senses. It was the only dependable thing left in the Universe these days.

            He sat back down on his throne and pushed the small button signaling for the chaos of the day to resume. He stroked his beard, feeling rather refreshed. it was amazing what a half-hour a week could do for you if you knew how to use it and didn't take it for granted.

            His attendants swarmed in, forming two neat orderly lines, and arranged themselves along the borders of the red carpet that laid in the center of the room. They each bowed in unison, right hand on chest, eyes

            King Vegeta nodded to them, signaling that they could carry on with their normal duties.

            The huge double doors opened revealing Corniss, one of the king's chief attendants. He stood rather tall, with hair that had just enough life in it to stick up as it spilled over his shoulders. The man was close enough to the King that he had the red trident symbol of the Royal House on his chestplate. It was Vegeta's personal opinion that Corniss would do a better job as king than the Prince himself.

            "Two with an appointment, sir. Bardock and Seripa, both, My Lord," he said while he held the door open, bowing slightly.

            The Two Saiya-jin entered, hands clasped together, and bowed in unison.

            The King's face brightened a bit.

            "This is a rather nice surprise," he said, discarding any formalities. "Seripa, one of my attendants, with Bardock, one of my better off-world soldiers. What news do you bring me today?"

            They both rose, and Seripa looked to Bardock.

            "The boy that you requested," Bardock began, "Gohan- my grandson- is on-planet and awaiting word from you. His father is here as well, along with a Namek of an exceedingly high power level- the boy's guardian, you could say."

            Vegeta smiled a bit. "Oh, really? I suppose you know why they are here."

            "Yes, My Lord," Bardock bowed his head. "You wanted to see if the reports of a half-breed child having a power level of over a thousand.

            The King Smirked. "Not entirely what I had in mind, but close enough."

            Bardock lifted his head. "Why did you want to see him, then?"

            "Because I wanted to see how one of us could survive peacefully on earth and yet have a level exceeding that of most of the Elites."

            "You will not be disappointed, My lord," Bardock replied, resuming his penitent stance.

            "I sincerely hope not. I have another question for you- why bring a Namek here? The race has so little a purpose that their planet is not even being considered for Clearance and sale."

            "You will never believe this Namek, My Lord," Bardock said, not skipping a single beat. "He is more powerful than any Namek you have ever seen before. He is powerful enough to have fought me and lived- and had dealt me an irreparable blow."

            "That would be?" The King asked, beginning to get curious.

            "He, along with a human warrior who also still lives to this day cut off my tail and seared the area before it could grow back."

            King Vegeta started back, and finally noticed Bardock's lack of a tail. "That IS something! What about the human? Does he still live, or did you destroy him?"

            "He's alive and well, but he could not come here."

            The King sat back down. "Earth must be an interesting planet. Is the Earth Warrior here with you as well?"

            "No, I am sorry. I found no reason to bring him here- he isn't nearly as powerful as I am, and he cut my tail off with a Kienzan- which he had learned himself."

            "That doesn't matter," King Vegeta waved a dismissing hand. "What matters is that the boy, his father, and that Namek are here. I want to find out why earth seems to produce such powerful warriors, when we haven't heard anything from it before now. I want to see them in exactly one week. You are dismissed."

            Both Bardock and Seripa bowed deeply, and offered their thanks for being allowed audience in their Native Saiya-jin tongue, then they tunred to leave.

            "Bardock, wait- one more thing," The king said, stopping him before he left. "Corniss, if you don't mind- check his level."

            Corniss nodded and turned his scouter on, taking in the full reading. The Saiya-jin stopped completely, his mouth hanging open.

            "I... I can't believe this..." He exclaimed, rather distantly, "But Bardock has a reading... of 75,000!"

            Everyone in the room stopped and stared in their general direction, gaping like idiots.

            "You were only 11,000 when you left for earth, weren't you?" Vegeta asked him. Bardock nodded. "How did you do this?"

            "I will tell all in full when I and my kin have a full audience with you next week," Bardock responded, giving a slight head nod. "I thank you for granting me an audience with you, My King." he said as he turned around and left.

           

***

 

            Shortly after leaving, Seripa stopped Bardock and looked him in the eyes, holding him lightly.

            "You never told me that your level was that high," she told him.

            "I didn't feel the need to. There's more than that. I can sense ki without a scouter now."

            Seripa shook her head. "You were always full of surprises, Love. I should have expected something like this."

            "Yes, you should have," Bardock said, kissing her on the forehead. "But not everyone can be expected to think clearly all the time. After all, you'll never replace Sash."

            She hugged him more tightly, responding to his pet phrase for "I love you." "I don't want to replace anybody. I want my own place in your heart."

            They held each other like that for a few minutes before going back to the Hotel to inform everybody of the appointment with the King of the Saiya-jin.

           

***