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CHAPTER SIX: THE SCOUTER READING AND THE TRIP BACK

"Well, the ship's shot to shit, if it wasn't already," Zarbon said, exiting the one saucer ship that was still spaceworthy after the initial attack. "Are any of the pods still working?" Zangya looked up at him, and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I haven't checked them all. Are you all right?" "I'm all right," Zarbon lied, "Nothing a few hours in a healing tank can't fix." He added that last statement to reassure her. Two hours at the most was all that was needed to heal broken bones. Ruptured organs would take longer. The pain alone was killing him. Silently, Zarbon thanked whatever gods there were that Bojack had not recruited him, if that was how he handled everyone. Zangya seemed in a worse condition, though. And not physically. The girl was probably on the verge of suicide. Zarbon had picked up the fact that she basically worshipped her former employer, and some part of her wanted him to kill her for failure. Not good. He needed her to help him track down Bojack, willingly or not. "I don't know why I'm even doing this," she muttered under her breath. "Because if you don't I'll kill you in a way that not even Bojack will like!" "You don't seem to be in any condition to fight, Zarbon." Zarbon scowled. His power level should be at least marginally higher now- he had certainly exerted some willpower when he was getting trashed by Bojack, but she was right. His jaw remained broken, his ribs remained fractured. Of course, she looked as though someone had used her for a Fourth of July Sparkler, but that was beside the point. Zarbon took out a spare scouter that had somehow survived the carnage. He put it up to his face and read it. Zangya's power was at about 15,000. Typical, considering her injuries. His was probably lower. He switched it to the setting that read Potential Ki. This gave maximum levels that never failed unless someone was hiding his or her power. He looked again. 28,000. That couldn't be right. He was 30,000 and she basically slaughtered him. He threw the scouter away. It was probably broken. -Was it? He picked it up again. There were no external signs of damage, but that meant nothing. Scouters were tempermental little pieces of technology, and a broken one giving strange readings was not uncommon. He walked up to Zangya and put his hand on her shoulder. She jumped and flinched back as though burned. "Don't touch me," she said, her eyes expressing a world of pain, "I don't like it." "Here, I want you to give me a reading on this. You know how to use a scouter, right?" "Who doesn't. Why are you giving it to me?" "Because I want to know if it's working or not. Give me a reading of my power level." "Okay. Current or maximum?" "Maximum. It's already set." She stood up and held the thing in front of her like a camera as Zarbon stepped back. She flipped the switch marked, "reading," and let it add up. "32,000. That's two thousand more than when we fought. You've gained a little." "That's strange. It read you as 28,000. It must be broken." It didn't quite register in Zarbon's head that Zangya had known his ki level. "Nope. That's my power level." Zarbon glared at her and took the scouter back. "You shouldn't have done so well against me. I outclassed you by more than enough." "I told you, it's technique, not power, that matters." Zangya said that as though she had been talking to a two-year-old child. "Anyway, all of the ships were destroyed. All eleven pods." "Eleven? Where'd you get that number? We had twelve." "No you didn't. There are the remains of eleven pods here. Check if you want." "One of them must have landed away from the others..." Zarbon said, a glimmer of hope appearing in his eye. He attached the scouter to his head and glanced around. "There!" he pointed. "There it is! Our way off this planet! Come on!" *** It didn't take much effort to find the pod - it was right out in the opening. The pilot had landed it way out of formation, and probably would have been severely reprimanded for it had he been still alive. But, as it was, he had just probably saved Zarbon and Zangya from being stranded on Rigel 7. Zarbon opened the hatch. "It still all right. Reeks of Saiya-jin, though." He was hoping to get a reaction out of Zangya - at least make her smile, but she only made a slight grunting noise. This was even worse. He had to keep her intact and alive for King Cold. "Ladies first. We'll be strapped for space however you cut it, but I'll let you choose your side of the pod." Zangya climbed into the right side, Zarbon into the left. Zarbon intentionally contorted himself up to take up as little space as possible. Anything to keep her from thinking about suicide. "How long until we arrive?" Zangya asked as the hatch shut. "About five hours. You take the mask - you'll won't even feel it." "No, you take it. I don't feel like sleeping right now." Zarbon bit his lip. As much as he wanted the soothing gasses of the "knockout mask" to take away his pain for the five hour journey and send him into a quiet, dreamless sleep, he didn't want to leave Zangya alone by herself. She was not safe anymore. When he first met her, before their fight, she seemed like the stereotypical bubbly type, cheerfully talking about burying the dead and killing each other as though it was nothing. He had assumed that she was just an extreme optimist. Right now she had sunken into a sullen sort of... quiet, and with most people that usually meant that murder or suicide was impending. King Cold would definitely kill him for failure if he came back and their only link to whomever hired Bojack had snuffed herself out while Zarbon was sleeping like a log. "No, you take it. I insist." He replied, handing the mask back to her. "No, I DON'T WANT IT. You're in a worse condition, anyway. I need some time to think." "Like hell you do," Zarbon said, as he took the mask back. He slowly raised it to his face, and then punched Zangya directly in the jaw, completely knocking her off guard. He shoved the mask onto her face, strapped it on, and turned on the gasses. Her eyes displayed fear and betrayal. "Believe me, it's for your own good. I want you alive, and so will King Cold," he said as her eyes rolled up from the effects of the anesthetic gas. Zarbon relaxed back in his corner of the pod - if that were possible in such cramped confinement. He had five hours to kill. A thought just occurred to him. He was definitely going to get an audience with King Cold when he arrived, and every word that he said would mean the difference between life and death. Forget relaxing. Soon Zarbon would have to choose his words very carefully - they may be his last. ***