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                                          CHAPTER SEVENTY: MEETING WITH COLD

 

 

 

 

            It was raining hard on the day when Gokou, Piccolo, and Gohan were finally going to stand before King Cold. The rain had begun in the morning, barely more than a light trickle, and by mid-afternoon it was pouring. The ground, being mainly desert, simply overflowed instead of absorbing most of the water, thus turning nearly all of Capitol's main city into one big mud puddle.

            "Chichi, are you ever going to get ready?" Gokou pleaded, nearly on his knees. "We've been waiting for over a month to met this guy, and he's not going to wait all day!"

            Chichi glared at her husband without even turning around to face him. This of course meant that the brunt of her hellish gaze was focused on Gohan. The boy was wrapped up in more heavy, weatherproof clothing than most kids who are playing in the snow would wear. His mother was steadily adding more layers. "I'm sure that the 'Great King of the Galaxy' can wait just a few more minutes while I make sure that my son isn't going to catch a cold and DIE on his way over." She continued to add to Gohan's ensemble.

            "Chichi, we're going to have to fly to get there on time now, and with the rain and everything, that'll be really bad!"

            Chichi finished her job by wrapping a scarf around Gohan's face, completely obscuring the last uncovered part of him. He now resembled a football-playing Eskimo. "There. He's ready. Don't blame me if he catches a cold, though... I would have dressed him better, but since you INSIST on rushing out of the house so early then I guess we'll just have to make do!"

            Gohan made a strange muffled "Mmrmphh" noise.

            Gokou folded his arms. "Then let's go! I'd hate to fly in this weather, but-"

            "You won't have to," came a voice from behind him. Gokou turned around to see Zarbon standing in the doorway, wearing a dress uniform. "I rented a limo. Today, we travel in style," he said, grinning. Zarbon looked down at Gohan. He raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure if he's going to fit in the door," he commented.

            "Mmrmphh."

 

***

 

            The limousine pulled up directly outside of the entrance to the Royal Palace. Zarbon jumped out of the driver's seat and ran around the car to open the passenger side doors, muttering to himself.

            "You hire a limo, and of course you decide NOT to spring for the driver... less money, they said... just as easy on the nerves, they said..."

            Gokou climbed out first, followed by Piccolo. Next came chichi, who was pulling Gohan by the arm- the boy had lost any autonomous movement capabilities- and Zarbon shut the door behind them.

            "You people go ahead," he said, "Just check in with Sauzaa, or Doore, or whoever's there. Zangya and I will catch up." Gokou nodded, and the group from earth headed on their way into the building.

            Zarbon opened the front passenger door, and gave a mock bow.

            "We have arrived at the destination, Madame," he stated in a sarcastic-posh accent. An umbrella poked out of the door, and popped open with an audible snap. Zangya came out of the door under the safety of the umbrella moments later.

            "Thanks, but you honestly don't have to open my car door, too."

            Zarbon shrugged. "Why not? I did it for everybody else- and you have that umbrella with you, anyway."

            She nodded. Good point. Sorry that I couldn't find a larger one- you're going to be in the rain on the way in."

            He shot her a grin. "Isn't that always the truth?"

            She shrugged and walked on towards the building. Zarbon followed behind, humming a song that he had learned while on earth. It was called, "Singing in the Rain."

 

***

 

            The six of them sat together in the waiting room, drying off. Zangya was the only one who wasn't wet, due to her umbrella- but considering how much hair she had, it was a wise move.

            "Hey, Zarbon," Gokou asked, "Where's my dad?"

            Zarbon checked his watch. "He said that he'd be here at some point or another. I wonder what happened to him."

            It was at that moment when Bardock and Seripa came out of the double doors that lead to Cold's throne room.

            "It's your turn, guys," Bardock said, casually pointing in the direction behind him. "We're done here."

            Zarbon shot him a confused look. "What were you doing in there?"

            Bardock shrugged. "You're late already. I'd hurry up if I were you."

            Zarbon shook his head and got up. Chichi began to roll the vaguely Gohan-shaped bundle in towards the throne room.

            "Mmrmphh."

 

            The throne room was one of the most fantastic things that Gokou had ever seen, next to his wife's cooking. The king himself was an incredibly sight- all sixteen feet of him. He was reclining back in his throne, sipping from his ever-present glass of wine.

            Gokou noticed out of the corner of his eye that everybody else was kneeling, so he followed suit. Gohan attempted to kneel with the others, but just succeeded in falling on the floor. He still had no feeling in his arms whatsoever.

            "Mmrmphh."

 

            Zarbon was the first to speak.   "We have arrived, Lord Cold," he said.

            Cold motioned with his hand. "You all may stand," he said in a somewhat uninterested tone.

            "We have come here with the request that earth be declared a safe planet, My Lord."

            "So you have. And why is that?"

            "The people of that planet, although weak," Zarbon began, "Possess an incredible strength from within- and we have evidence that their stock can produce hybrid beings far more powerful than they are. Take, for example, this man here," Zarbon motioned toward Gokou. "He is a Saiya-jin- Bardock's son- who was raised on earth. His son, Gohan, his therefore a half-human hybrid."

            "Is that Gohan?" Cold asked, pointing to the over-protected boy.

            Zarbon nodded. "Yes, that's him. His mother was a little… over-enthusiastic when dressing him for the rain. He's only five."

            Cold snickered. "So I see. I can barely see him beneath the layers of clothing."

            "He's wearing Saiya-jin armor under that, from what I understand," Zarbon offered sheepishly. Piccolo sighed and slapped his forehead.

            "And why is there a Namek in here with you?"

            "He was also raised on earth- and his power level is exceptional for a member of his race."

            "Damn straight," Piccolo muttered, getting rather annoyed with all of this.

            "Mmrmphh!"

 

***

 

            Waiting outside the throne room, Bardock looked at his watch. "Strange," he said, "They've been in there for two hours already. Why's it taking so long?"

            Sauzaa looked up from behind the desk. He took off his reading glasses. "I have no idea," he said before getting back to work. Seripa put a hand on Bardock's shoulder.

            "Don't worry about it- it's probably a good sign." She offered him a smile. Bardock returned it with a slight head nod.

            "Still... with the news that we just got... this wait is unsettling."

            Seripa nodded silently. Over behind the desk, Sauzaa continued to fill out paperwork. He put his glasses back on.

 

***

 

            Gohan had removed all of the extra raingear that his mother had put on him earlier, and was now dressed in armor. He was concentrating hard, attempting to power up so that Cold could get an idea of his potential. The king was unimpressed.

            "Is he going to finish powering up any time soon, or should I send out for dinner while I wait?"

            Chichi clenched her fists, and restrained herself from attacking Cold in a frenzy of angry motherhood.

            "Don't worry- just give him some time," Gokou offered. Zarbon and Zangya exchanged glances.

            "I'll give you ten minutes," The king said, rather bored, "And then I will come to an opinion on my own- whether the boy is ready or not."

            And so they stood there for a good ten minutes, waiting. Chichi fumed silently at the way that her boy was being treated.

            Finally, the time was up. King Cold looked at the boy for a second, and sighed.

            "He is powerful, and he has potential, but I am still unimpressed."

            "But sir," Zarbon interjected, "None of his real potential actually shows unless he's really angry... and we can't just simulate that easily."

            "And I really care?" Cold returned. "In battle, one cannot always expect to be worked into an extreme rage. Therefore, the boy is powerful for a human- but not powerful for a hybrid. He's just another half-Saiya-jin child. And unless you can find some definite way of proving how valuable and hardy the human stock is, your request will be denied."

            Zarbon lowered his head. He realized that there was no way that he could convince the king of anything now. It was at that point when Chichi exploded.

            She tackled King Cold, knocking his wine glass to the floor and sending both him and his throne back and into the wall, lashing out with whichever limbs were handy. None of the blows even fazed the king, but he was too surprised to really react. Somewhere along the way, Gokou's wife started into a diatribe of motherly rage.

            "How DARE you say such THINGS about my baby BOY!!! You INHUMAN MONSTER! You IDIOTIC BEAST! You DAMNED FOOL! He's MY BOY and if MY HUSBAND says that he's POWERFUL, than he IS! And he's MY SON! He's going to be a SCHOLAR, not a FIGHTER, but if he's POWERFUL, than he's MY SON!!!"

            On and on it went, for nearly five minutes. Not a single person even made a single move in that time. They were all in too much shock.

            Finally, King Cold lifted Chichi by the back of her collar, and held her at arm's length so she would stop pummeling him.

            "So this is what humans are like," he said, smirking. "Ha! I like them already!"

            Zarbon blinked. "You... you do?" he asked.

            "And why not?" Cold replied in a hearty voice. "Just look at this one! She has a stronger will and shorter temper than any Saiya-jin that I've ever seen! If this is what humans do when they get mad, then we really can't judge hybrids as well." He dropped Chichi to the ground, and bent down until he was at eye level with her.

            "Congratulations, woman. You just saved your home planet."

            Chichi blinked twice, and scratched her head. "I did?"

            Cold nodded, and then turned away from them. "Now get out of here while I call some people in to clean up this mess."

            They all obliged. Chichi was the only one with the presence of mind to gather up Gohan's rain gear.

 

***

 

            Later, after everybody had returned to their associated hotel rooms and finished celebrating the successful mission, Zarbon took Bardock aside for a quick chat.

            "Bardock, I have a question for you."

            "Hmmm? What is it?" Replied the Saiya-jin.

            "Why did you go to see King Cold before we did?"

            Bardock glanced around a bit before answering in a whisper. "A few days ago, I had expressed some curiosity as to the well-being of Prince Vegeta now that he'd left to go clearing planets. Nobody seemed to know how he was doing, so I went straight to the source- his father."

            Zarbon nodded. "Go on," he said.

            "King Vegeta didn't know how his son was doing, he said that he hadn't gotten any reports in a long time. I found this incredibly strange, so I went directly to the database that listed outgoing parties. Seripa has a few connections on that end. What I found is what I was reporting to King Cold, and asking his advice over."

            "Oh?" Zarbon replied, curious, "What was it?"

            "Vegeta's new team had long since come back from their raid, but apparently the Prince had never gone with them. There's absolutely no record of any of Prince Vegeta's actions after the day before he was supposed to leave with them."

            Zarbon thought about this in silence for a while. He was worried.