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CHAPTER TWELVE: BARDOCK

Zarbon had three remaining applications, and although there were a few that showed promise (surprise, surprise!), most were soon disqualified. There were intelligent, powerful, efficient Saiya-jin, Zarbon knew that, but he had seemed to have gotten none of them yet. The current that showed the most promise was an elite named Toma. His name was on the top of the stack of used applications. There was a loud knocking on the door. "Name," Zarbon said with more than a hint of tiredness. Office work was not for him. "Nappa. I'm THE elite who signed up for your team!" Came a testosterone-induced voice from the other end of the door. The way that he had said the word "the" implied that he thought he was the Only elite to sign up. "Come in." Zarbon said, getting Nappa's form out and reviewing it. Good resume. Trainer at the royal palace. High position in the military. Very good. A tremendously huge and tremendously bald Saiya-jin walked in, smiling like a dog in heat (to which he bore more than a passing resemblance). "What are you?" Nappa asked, looking down his nose at Zarbon. "I'm Zarbon, the captain of the Dark Ki Tokusentai." "Oh," Nappa said, then he walked out of the office. Zarbon buried his head in his hands. Five minutes later there was another knock. "Hello?" a female voice said. "I'm Seripa, an elite, power level 8,500. I signed up for your team." Zarbon picked Seripa's form out of the not-quite-pile. Interesting. She worked with Toma. "Come in." Seripa entered the room. Zarbon went through with the interview, but disqualified her almost immediately. She was quite pretty, and the last thing Zarbon needed was to be working close to two extremely pretty women. Salad would kill him for that. Too bad- she would have been good, too. So far it seemed as though Toma was it. The next person to enter didn't knock, but since it was Salad, Zarbon easily overlooked it. Besides, she was carrying take-out food. "Here," she said calmly, putting the small white box on his desk, "I thought you might want some of this. How've the interviews been going?" Zarbon didn't answer. "How do you feel?" asked Salad. "Shoot yourself in the head to find out," Zarbon growled. "Aw, poor baby." Salad said softly. Zarbon smiled at her. "Anyone left?" "Just one. Another elite. After today I never want to see an elite again. I'll go for the third-class scientists." Salad giggled, then leaned over his desk. "Hey, since that guy's apparently late, what say we-" There was a knock at the door. "Damn!" Salad exclaimed, and started clearing away Zarbon's lunch, which he had barely touched. "Who is it?" Zarbon said with a sigh. "My name's Bardock." Short, sweet, and to the point. Zarbon glanced at his last form. Yep, Bardock. /What the hell? He's a part of the same group as Toma and Seripa, too!/ Zarbon thought for a moment. "Come in." The door opened and the Saiya-jin came in, giving a slight nod to Salad as she left behind him. "Who's she? She looks hardly Saiya-jin." Bardock said, sitting down. He looked like a typical Saiya-jin, with hair that was slightly more messed up than most Saiya-jin hair. He had a small star-shaped scar on his left cheek. /Must not have gotten to the regen tank in time,/ Zarbon thought to himself. "She's my mate," He replied. "Oh. I see," Bardock said as he shook Zarbon's hand and sat down. Bardock glanced down at his form, then back up at Zarbon. "I take it you're Zarbon?" "How very perceptive of you," Zarbon said, mentally preparing himself for another Nappa incident. "I thought so," Bardock said in a monotone. "Before we begin this I just want you to know that I don't normally work under offworlders. You had better be good, Mr. Zarbon." "I believe that question of quality applies to you, "Zarbon said, not looking up from Bardock's application. "So," Zarbon continued, "According to this form you're the leader of a five-man battle team." "Correct." Bardock answered. "Does this mean that you will have any authority problems being on a lower rung in a similar team?" Bardock laughed a bit. "You don't become the leader of a team without learning respect for authority, unless things have changed since I went through the academy. And from what I understand, it'll be a two-man team for a while. Not much to worry about there." "How did you learn that?" Zarbon asked. "Word gets around, pretty boy," Bardock replied, smiling. "Be glad that I even signed up after hearing that." Zarbon went on to the next typical question. "It says here that your power level is 13,000. I cross-referenced this with your records, and it seems that your level has not grown significantly in quite some time. Can you tell me exactly why this is?" "I've been slowing down a little lately, as far as combat grows. Also I seem to be winning all my fights, and we Saiya-jin really only gain when they train hard or get beaten up. I simply haven't done much new training or much losing lately." "All right. Fine. What would you say if I told you that our first mission involved taking out someone with a power level over a million?" "I would ask you what your power level is," Bardock answered. "Oh, and I cross-checked your records, too. 31,000 isn't anywhere near a million, either." "Hm. Do you have any living family or close friends or any other kinds of relationships that would get in the way of your duty in any way, shape, or form?" "Not anymore," Bardock replied. "Sashoki, my mate, died shortly after giving birth to Kakarotto, our second son. Kakarotto was barely worth anything power-wise, and we stopped receiving transmissions from his ship very shortly after he landed, thus ruling him out. My older son, Raditz, just died three weeks ago on a planet-raid. My only close friends are in my team, and I am not currently involved in a relationship. Is that good enough for you?" "Have you ever had heart trouble, cancer, back trouble, or-" "I already filled that one out." "Okay, then. Before we go any further, I might as well tell you that we *are* going up against a man with a power level that is over one million. Are you still willing to join?" "Of course I am," Bardock said, "Although not because I want to be a hero or anything. I have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. Either way, I'm yours. Now, let's ask you a question. Is your current relationship with that woman back there going to cause you any problems?" "No, because it wouldn't be anything new for me." "Heh. I thought so. You seem like that type." Bardock said. "Is there anything else that's relevant, or are we just going to spend the next thirty minutes prattling on about nothing at all?" Zarbon laughed for a bit, then mentally reviewed the questions that he asks every applicant. None of them were really very necesarry, and this guy already outdid Toma, so he might as well have won by default. "No, nothing more. Bardock," Zarbon extended a hand, "I want to be the first to welcome to you my team. Congratulations!" Bardock sneered. "You still haven't proven yourself to me yet," was all that he said. Suddenly the door flew open, revealing a very familiar Saiya-jin. Prince Vegeta. He looked as though he had been running. Zarbon started to shout, "What the hell are you doing?", then stopped himself. He rephrased it. "How may we serve you, my prince?" Vegeta barreled further into the room, swept Bardock off to the side, and grabbed Zarbon by his collar, which was amusing considering that because of the blue alien's extra height, if Zarbon had been standing Vegeta would not have been able to grab him there to begin with. "You are Zarbon, right?" he said through clenched teeth, "I want to join your team. Put me on or you will die. I have a power level of 23,000, and I can easily destroy you if I want!" Zarbon brushed Vegeta's hands off. "My level is 31,000, so please don't try that. Now, sit down if you want to apply. I'll give you a complementary interview." "Apparently you didn't hear me," Vegeta said, still in a half growl. This man had definite emotional problems. "I said that I will join you, and I meant it. I could have you destroyed, by saying one simple word to my father. I want to get the hell out of this place. I WILL go with you, and I WILL increase my power, and I WILL take your place, then I WILL return, stronger than before, and take my rightful position as the new King Vegeta!" "And what does your dear father say about all this?" /Damn, he's full of himself./ "I will return after he has died, of course!" "Have you talked this over with him, seeing as how technically you are still under his custody." "Don't fuck with me!" Vegeta shouted, a little vein beginning to pop up on his forehead. "I am the PRINCE, and I can do whatever I damn well please!" "Yes, and he is the KING, and he can do whatever he damn well pleases, especially if it involves having my ass served up on a platter for taking his little brat away from him on amission to who-knows-where to fight large, hairy warriors!" "SHUT UP!" "Here. I'll call him. He gave me his pager number." Zarbon pressed the autodial button on the little communicator on his desk. He had a direct line to King Vegeta for "emergencies." Actually, come to think of it, the elder Vegeta had probably known this was going to happen. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Vegeta shouted, his hands reaching for Zarbon's throat. "Yes?" a rough but cultured voice responded from the other end of the phone line. "Speak." "It's Zarbon. Your son wants to join my team. What do you say about that?" "Oh, does he, now? Thank you," King Vegeta responded on the other end, then the line went dead. "You bastard," Vegeta said in a shaky tone of voice. King Vegeta arrived in about the amount of time it would take to fly at full force from a palace three miles away. Only about seven seconds. The king glared down at his son. "Vegeta, the answer is no." "I don't care." King Vegeta backhanded his son, knocking him into the wall. "Do not contradict me!" Ordinarily Zarbon would have felt disgust at this kind of display, but this was Prince Vegeta, after all. He smiled and watched as King Vegeta proceeded to beat the stuffing out of his son. "He should be of no more difficulty to you," King Vegeta said to Zarbon. "Personally, I don't know what possessed him to try that." "He said he wanted to get away," Zarbon replied, and then felt a distinct feeling of commiseration. He almost felt sorry for the prince. Almost. King Vegeta left without saying another word, having his attendants make sure that Prince Vegeta left with him. Zarbon remembered exactly how Vegeta had looked at Zangya back at Capital, and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that he wouldn't have to join. "Bardock got out of his place in the corner and shook Zarbon's hand. "You've proved yourself," was all that he said. It was all that was needed. The team, such as it was, was complete for now. ***