CHAPTER EIGHT: HOSPITAL

 

 

Zarbon woke up in the regeneration tank. Deja vu. He unconsciously ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth behind the breathing mask. All of his teeth were back in. That was good. That probably meant that the healing was almost-

*BEEP*

-Done. Zarbon looked around and saw, of all people, Zangya sitting in a chair in the far end of the room. Deja vu again. He knocked on the inside of the tank, and a green muppet-like doctor opened it and let him out.

Zarbon got out of the tank and gasped in a few painful breaths of air. That happened occasionally if you were in the tank for a while.

He used some ki to dry off and rubbed his eyes. Zarbon turned toward Zangya. "Well," he said, "Let's go. We have to set up an appointment with Cold." Zangya just giggled at him a bit. Good. She obviously felt somewhat better. In fact, she was currently laughing. Extremely hard. Zarbon put a hand on his hip to figure out why, then he realized that the doctors had apparently undressed him before putting him in the tank.

Zarbon flushed a deep shade of red and ducked behind the doctor's cape.

"Sorry," he said, rather sheepishly. Sheepishly fit rather nicely. Right now Zarbon had all the willpower of a drowned mouse.

"I suppose you'll be wanting something to wear?" The doctor casually asked Zarbon. He nodded. "Okay, then. One moment, please."

The doctor walked away from Zarbon, ruining his convenient hiding place. Zangya was nearly falling off the chair with laughter now. Zarbon, finding no real cover anywhere, grabbed a chair and held it over his lower body while sitting on the cold floor. Cold, cold metal floor.

"Man, am I glad I recovered first!" Zangya said when she could get enough space to breathe. "What was that you said to Bojack about having bal-"

"SHUT UP!!!" Zarbon shouted, like a schoolboy who has just been more than humiliated. "PLEASE!!" he pleaded.

"Okay, I didn't know you were so... Embarassed! HA! Get it? Em-Bare-Ass..."

"DOCTOR!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!"

The doctor finally reappeared, holding what looked like a giant folded paper towel.

"Here. Put this on. The slit goes in the back."

The doctor threw the bundle at Zarbon and left the room, having himself a good laugh all the while he did it.

Zarbon unfolded the paper gown with some difficulty, and put it on with even more. Somehow he managed to get the gown on without giving Zangya so much as a slight glimpse of any part of his body that was earlier covered by the chair. Zarbon stood up and began to tie the small plastic laces. Just like tying up a plastic bag. He finished the knot and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Too deep. The flimsy plastic laces snapped the way that plastic bag handles break when the bag is overloaded. The gown started to fall off in front of Zarbon. He grabbed it before it could and bunched it up in the back, sitting down on the chair with a small fistfull's worth of paper gown directly underneath him like a hen's egg.

"Please cross your legs," Zangya said.

Zarbon threw his knees together so hard that they made a loud knocking sound. His face was no longer flushed a deep red. It had now gone very pale. If Zarbon could have blown himself up right then and there and not ruined all chances of getting back at Bojack, he would have without a question.

"Please take note that not only did the doctors give me real clothes, but they had an exact replica of the outfit that I was wearing tailor-made for me in under five minutes." Zangya said, getting up and turning around, "Also take note of the fact that I am supposed to be your prisoner and you are my captor." She leaned in toward him. "Isn't that right, Mr. paper-dress?"

Zarbon almost growled at her. Zangya went back to her chair and sat back down. "So, how's it hanging?"

"Shut up." Zarbon swiveled his chair around sullenly and glared at the door. A passing nurse screamed and ran.

After a few minutes of dead silence the doctor returned. "I'm about to process your papers, Mr. Zarbon. In the meantime, a friend of yours would like to see you."

Zarbon looked up as someone he knew very, very well stepped in. Salad, his mate for the past five years. She was definitely a member of his race or a close approximation thereof, and even wore the same earrings and circlet. Her hair was more of a dark reddish-black, and tied back much more simply than his braid was (the only thing of his not recently taken off or by the doctors). All of this registered in Zarbon's mind, and he temporarily forgot that he was stuck in a hospital room, sitting in a plastic chair, wearing nothing but a paper hospital gown. Zangya noticed how absorbed he was and shook her head. Salad bent over Zarbon's chair and kissed him lightly on the lips.

"So, Sal, what brings you here?" It was a rhetorical question.

"I heard that you got back from Rigel yesterday, and I wanted to see how you were doing! How *are* you doing, anyway?"

"Take a look at me and guess."

Salad smirked. "I don't think the doctors would like it if I did."

Zarbon put his hands on his head as though he had a headache. "Please, don't joke about that. I've had enough of it already."

Zangya waved and Salad noticed her for the first time. "And who is she?" she said to Zangya, addressing her in the third person on purpose, making Zarbon shrink down for a reason he did not know.

"Oh, just someone Zarbon met on Rigel 7," She let out an evil smile, "We knocked each other around a bit, shared a regen tank, got banged up again, and travelled back here in the same cozy little space pod."

Salad's eyes widened for a second, until she realized it was definitely a joke. She laughed so hard that she almost lost her balance.

"Zangya, if I weren't naked underneath this, I'd kill you right now." Zarbon was only half-joking. He didn't appreciate cracks about his fidelity.

"No, who are you?"

"My name is Zangya," She said, shaking salad's hand. "I was a part of the six-man team that demolished Cold's forces on Rigel 7. After the main fight I stayed back to check for survivors, and found your..." She motioned toward Zarbon.

"Mate," Salad replied, with just enough emphasis on the word to show that she meant business.

"Your mate. we fought for a while, and ended up in a draw. I was impressed by Zarbon's strength, so I offered him a place on my team. The remark about sharing a regen tank was because there was only one useable one left and we had to take turns with it. He's a good fighter."

"I know," Salad said, with a smile similar to the one that Zangya had earlier. Zangya stuttered a bit and went on. "When we reached Bojack- the leader of my team- he fired me and tried to kill us And destroy the remaining ships. He decided to take me back here as a help to track Bojack down, and there was only one pod left. Satisfactory?"

"Very. There's just one thing, though. Why would you want to kill your own master?" Salad asked casually.

Zangya hesitated. "I don't. Zarbon gave me no choice. It was either follow him, or starve to death on a torched planet."

"That would be a good enough reason. Now, Zarbon, I have something for you."

"Yes?" Zarbon turned his head toward Salad. "Is it Clothing?"

"You must be able to read minds," Salad said sweetly, "I brought you your new uniform, made yesterday. There's a slightly different insignia on it."

"I don't care about the insignia as long as it's not paper. How did you get it, anyway?"

"I intercepted the orderly." She left the room and came back in with a medium-sized satchel. "Here. try it on. Don't be bashful, I've seen it all, and telling from how Cold's doctors treat their patients, so has Zangya."

Zarbon grunted and got up. With a successful manipulation of his chair, Zarbon somehow managed to change completely while hiding everything. /I'm getting good at this./

***