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CHAPTER SEVEN: HOSPITAL

Apple was content with his life. Being a Brackian, he didn't excel in strength, speed, skill, or intelligence, but he was still content. Brackians were often regarded as the cannon fodder of King Cold's army- little purple aliens with big heads and yellow polka dots that were only good for being shot- but it didn't faze Apple one bit. He was content with his life. He had a pretty fine job for a Brackian- he watched for incoming ships returning from their missions. He and a humanoid with blue mutton chops named Lime were stationed in Docking Bay 6F310, a little-used port, and thus could spend his days whiling away the hours playing cards and getting paid for it! Apple enjoyed his life. What he enjoyed evn more was the fact that he had a straight flush in Hearts, with a 7 being the high card (Poker was a widely-enjoyed game throughout the universe), and telling from his facial expressions, Lime obviously didn't. Apple was incapable of changing his usual expression by very much, so he was safe as far as having a straight face went. He added some more credit chips to the pile. It was now bigger than three months' salary. Lime sweated and added even more, thus increasing the size of the loot. Apple saw him and raised him. Lime sweated again. He set down his final bid and showed his cards. A royal flush in clubs! Apple turned a strange shade of blue. "Well?" Lime asked, leaning back in his chair, "Show me your hand! Read 'em and weep!" Apple was about to lay down his cards when the alarm went off signalling an incoming ship. Lime nearly jumped out of his skin and knocked over the card table, sending everything into sortof a Rube Goldberg-type chain of events which ended up with Apple losing his hand and the pot being scattered everywhere. "What? Who's this? It look's like... Turnil's ship! Wasn't Turnil a part of the Rigel 7 mission?" "Who cares!" Apple shouted, picking himself up, "Let's just attend to his ship! Look, it's landing!" The small battered pod touched down directly adjacent to the designated landing pad, leaving a small crater and a lot of dust in the air. Apple hit the button signaling for a full crew to come in. The pod was definitely damaged if its onboard computer missed that landing. The hatch opened and a tall figure stggered out, barely visible in the dust cloud. "Lieutenant Turnil?" Apple asked, noticing that this was too tall to be the Lieutenant. The dust cleared to show a battered and bloody Zarbon hoisting somebody else out of the pod. "Get a full team here, and prep the regen tanks!" He shouted at them. Apple decided to obey. When you were dealing with bigwigs in the Empire like Zarbon, life could suddenly turn bad. ***