Chapter 3


            Pazru and the doctor strolled slowly down the wide hallway of the med-center laughing and reminiscing about old times.


            “—Well then he fired a ki blast straight through the wall, nearly killing his mate and child, who just happened to be in the next room!”  The doctor threw his arms out to the side, illustrating with his hands the size of the blast.  Pazru flung back his head and laughed, tears rolling down his face.


            “So what did you do then, Scleren?” he asked when he finally caught his breath.


            “I ran into the next room and hid behind one of the regeneration tanks.  I figured that the way that Saiyan female looked as she stomped over the wreckage towards her mate, hair half burned away, a large ki blast ready to fire in one hand and the wailing baby in the other, an all out war was going to break out in any second! And when I would be found in the aftermath, I would be the first one to go into the regen tank since I happened to be sheltering behind it!”  Pazru wrapped his arms around his aching belly and slumped over against the nearby wall, laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up any longer.  Scleren stopped beside him, mimicking the sounds of the battle between the Saiyan male and his enraged, half burnt mate.  Then he bent over and grasped his knees, his not too inconsiderable belly shaking with the loud snorts and chortles of laughter.


            The doctor and his young student remained incapacitated for sometime, until Scleren, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes, offered a hand to Pazru and shakily pulled the young man to his feet.  Shaking his head in amusement, Pazru steadied himself and took several deep breaths.  “Yes, Pazru,” Scleren said, gently patting his student’s back, “there’s never a dull moment living around the Saiyans.”  The young man nodded in agreement and looked around at his surroundings, surprised to see how far he and Scleren had walked.


            The med center occupied a considerable section of a massive complex of buildings that included the pod departure and landing zones, the quarters of all non-Saiyan personnel, a few seedy bars frequented by Saiyans headed toward the pod departure area, and various storage and training rooms.  Long drab hallways stretched for miles and miles throughout the complex, connecting each and every section to all the others.   


Pazru had been living at the complex on Vegetasei for several years now, ever since he had begun his medical training with Scleren.  However, during those years he very rarely left the section of the complex housing his quarters and the med center, and had never ventured out of the complex itself for the sake of his own safety.  Now as he walked at his mentor’s side down another long hallway, Pazru realized, with a hint of alarm, that he was in a completely unfamiliar area of the complex and had no idea whatsoever on getting back to the med center.  Fear coiled and twisted into a cold hard knot in the base of his stomach as he rapidly glanced around, trying to regain his bearings.  He looked over at Scleren, who had fallen silent for the time being and was looking unconcernedly at the dull gray walls and humming, his arms crossed behind his back.  Figures Scleren would be perfectly calm when any minute now we could be caught in the middle of a brawl between two drunken Saiyans,” Pazru thought as he scanned the length of the corridor behind and ahead of them and kept his ears pealed for the slightest noise.


Scleren, with Pazru following rapidly behind him, walked down one long stretch of hallway after another, turning every now and then into another long hallway.  He hummed a tune as he strolled through the labyrinth, seemingly oblivious of his young student’s unease. At the next intersection he turned left, walked for a little ways, and suddenly stopped and slapped Pazru in-between the shoulder blades, enjoying the expression of utter terror that crossed over the young man’s face at his touch.


“Here we are, Pazru, pod landing zone, but I bet you knew that already,” the old doctor said, a hint of amusement in his voice.  Pazru collapsed against the wall, breathing heavily, one long-fingered hand clutching his chest.


“. . .Y-y-yeah,” Pazru finally managed to squeak out, still trying to catch his breath.  The two had stopped slightly in front of a pair of large gray doors that opened to a long corridor that led to the pod landing zones.  Pazru, still shaking slightly, slowly stood up and leaned against one of the doors.


Scleren chuckled, hands on his hips.  “What were you afraid of, Pazru?  You don’t think after all these years that I don’t know my way around the complex?  Still chuckling, he started to walk over to the young man who was still using the doors for support.


“V-v-very funny, Scleren,” Pazru, voice quavering, slowly replied.  “You could of ki—” Pazru’s voice was cut off as the doors slid open, making him lose his balance and fall forward into the gap, arms outstretched in front of him.  A large dark shape tore through the doorway, colliding with the startled young man before he could hit the ground and flinging him against the far wall.  The dark figure blurred past him down the hallway in the direction of the med center.  Pazru slumped down against the wall, his head reeling from the blow.  A small trickle of blood began to flow down the left side of his face from a large shallow cut on his forehead just above the eyebrow.  Scleren had also been knocked to the floor by the rushing figure, but had not suffered any damage.  He slowly got up, shook his head to clear it, and squinted at the retreating figure, which appeared to be a tall, broad-shouldered Saiyan male with another slightly smaller male draped over his shoulder.   The unconscious Saiyan’s head, covered by a thick mass of unruly spiky black hair bounced up and down with each step of the other.


The doctor shook his head crossly and glanced over at Pazru. Noticing the blood running down the side of his face, he immediately ran over to his young student.  Scleren looked the young man over with an experienced eye and helped him to his feet.  Pazru leaned against the doctor, his head still spinning from the blow.  Still slightly disoriented, he looked down the hallway where the figure had long ago vanished around a corner.  Feeling heat on the left side of his face, Pazru lifted a shaking hand and rubbed the warm and sticky substance from his cheek.  Pazru’s heart quelled at the sight of his own blood coating the palm of his hand.


“Don’t worry, Pazru, it’s nothing serious.  We’ll just walk on down to the med center and get you fixed up good as new.  Just stay with me,” Scleren spoke softly, struggling to bring the young man to his feet.


“Wh-what happened?  What was that?” Pazru said in a quiet shaky voice that seemed to echo over and over in his mind.


“Hmmph, nothing new,” the doctor grunted in irritation.  “It appears that Bardock has overdone it yet again and is in need of a nice vacation in a regen tank.  Surprised he hasn’t been killed yet, the crazy bastard.”


At hearing the name Bardock mentioned, Pazru whipped his head back around in the direction the figure had gone, and regretted it instantly as a galaxy of bright white stars burst in front of his eyes.  His stomach gave a nauseating lurch, and Pazru struggled to keep from vomiting.  He scrunched his eyes shut and took slow deep breaths until the stars cleared and his stomach settled.  He looked down the hallway again.  The walls wavered in duplicate and triplicate as he stared.


“Bardock, . . .but isn’t . . . that . . .,” Pazru trailed off as he collapsed, unconscious, against Scleren, who desperately struggled to keep the young man from hitting the floor again.


Finally, after some difficulty, the old doctor managed to throw Pazru’s limp arm around his neck.  He then hooked his free arm around the young man’s waist and began to slowly walk down the long hallway towards the med center, Pazru’s feet dragging behind him against the smooth cold floor.



*           *           *           *



Pazru slowly opened his eyes and was nearly blinded by the bright white light above him.  He scrunched them tightly shut again and rubbed at them weakly with hands that seemed to be made of rubber.  When the afterimage had faded Pazru attempted to sit up, finally succeeding in doing so after the third time.  His vision swam from the sudden rush of blood from his head, and he nearly fell back onto the table again.  Disoriented, Pazru looked around the small white room.  His mind was in a daze, he had no idea whatsoever how he had gotten here or why.  He lifted one of his hands and began to massage his throbbing forehead, trying to remember.  As he felt the rough bandages that circled his head just above his eyes, his memory slowly began to return.


“Doors . . . Bardock,” he muttered slowly, trying to jog his memory.  There was something important that he had to do, a nagging thought that revolved around and around in the back of his mind in a gray haze.  He shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying desperately to remember.  “Baby!”  Pazru’s eyes snapped wide open and he tried to leap from the table, but was stopped by a surging wave of nausea deep in the pit of his stomach.  He curled over, arms wrapped around his abdomen, and waited for it to pass.


“Patience, Pazru,” Scleren said softly. He rose from his seat near the door and walked over to the examining table where Pazru sat. “You have to take things more slowly.  You got quite a blow to the head back there.”  The doctor, his face creased with worry, gently patted the young man’s back.


“How. . . how much time has passed?”  Pazru said apprehensively.  Eyes wide with fear, he turned around and grabbed Scleren’s arm.  “Is there still enough time?” he repeated even louder as he weakly squeezed the doctor’s arm.


“Time for what?  That crack to the head must have jarred something loose because you’re not making any sen—. ”  Ignoring Scleren’s irritated response, Pazru tried to stand up, but was quickly pushed back to his seat on the table by the doctor, who began to speak soothingly to him. 


Head lowered, Pazru gritted his teeth in frustration, Scleren’s gentle words taking no effect on him.  He clenched and unclenched his fists in his lap and suddenly jerked his head up so that he was nose to nose with Scleren. “How long have I been out?!” Pazru shouted at the old doctor, who jumped back in surprise, his eyes and mouth wide with shock at his normally peaceful student’s sudden outburst.


Pazru, taking advantage of the doctor’s stupor, tried again to leap off the table and run past Scleren and out the door.  However, his wound had seriously hindered his coordination and he didn’t get very far before Scleren snapped out of his daze, grabbed Pazru’s arms from behind, and dragged him back to the table.  “You’re in no shape to go anywhere, Pazru.  You have a minor concussion and need some rest.” Still struggling, his young student began to repeat himself.  “You have been unconscious for a couple of hours,” Scleren quickly interrupted.  Pazru let out a deep sigh of relief and ceased his frantic movements. Scleren released his grip slowly and walked around the table so that he stood face to face with the young man.  “Now, what’s so important that it couldn’t wait until you had rested?”  The doctor, arms crossed in front of him, cocked his head to the side and looked intently at Pazru, who nibbled his lower lip, searching for a reply.


“Well, I . . . I . . . I do have other duties to perform yet today.”  Pazru gulped and looked to the side, searching for a lie that would satisfy the doctor.  “Yeah, . . . you know, . . . my laundry needs to be done . . . my quarters are a mess, and I still have to complete those medical exercises you assigned to me yesterday.”  He trailed off, not sure if Scleren accepted his lie or not.  His mentor was scrutinizing his face keenly, looking for answers that Pazru was none too willing to give.


After a long pause the doctor, eyes narrowing slightly, replied, “You’re in no shape to be doing anything but resting.”  His voice was hard and commanding, and to Pazru’s distress, a little disbelieving.  Scleren continued to study his student’s face intensely for a few more moments.  His features suddenly softened and he said more gently, “Come on, Pazru, let’s get you to your quarters.  I’ll send someone along later to pick up your laundry.”  He pulled Pazru’s right arm around his neck and wrapped his left around the young man’s waist.


Pazru stood up slowly, relieved that his lie had worked, and leaned on the doctor for support as they began to walk out of the room.  Scleren spoke again, “Though it’s not usually a tendency of mine to do so, I think that, taking the situation into consideration, I will extend the deadline on those exercises I gave you until you have received some rest.”  With a twinkle in his eye, Scleren turned his head towards Pazru and continued, “Now don’t you begin to think that every time you bang your head I’m going to give you extra time on your assignments.  You need to learn to take a few knocks in the head if you plan to work with the Saiyans.  Standing a safe distance away from doors is a good place to start.”


Pazru smiled and gave a weak laugh.  He then returned his concentration to his feet, which seemed to weigh a hundred pounds each.  “Yeah, dangerous things those doors can be,” Pazru replied.  Scleren chuckled quietly from beside him and steered the young man through the twisting corridors to his quarters.



*           *           *           *



            Pazru groaned.  The last three days seemed to have lasted a lifetime.  Not only had Scleren confined him to his quarters, but he had also posted a guard outside his door to make absolutely sure that he didn’t sneak out.  He was sick and tired of pacing around his small room, thinking of ways to sneak the nameless Saiyan baby off the planet.  He didn’t know why he had become so caught up in trying to change the fate of the little brat, but he had given up trying to figure that one out early yesterday morning.


            “Now, maybe if I snuck into the nursery one night and switched the two babies, Kakarot would remain on Vegeta and the other one would be sent off the planet on his first mission.  Oh no, no, no!  I couldn’t do that!” Pazru tugged at his unkempt green hair and started another circuit around the room, his brow furrowed in thought. “That would mean Kakarot would be killed in his brother’s place, and I don’t want either of them to die!


Okay, maybe I could . . . No, no, that wouldn’t work either.”  He stopped for a moment, tapped his foot on the hard gray floor, and started to pace in the other direction, stroking his chin.  “Let me think . . .I could sneak the baby into a pod already occupied by another baby.  Yeah! That would work!”  Pazru stopped pacing, a jubilant smile on his face.  “Yeah! Kyokou down at pod departures does owe me a favor, and it wouldn’t take very long at all for me to slip the child into the pod.  After takeoff, he would be safe-and-sound,” Pazru’s smile suddenly melted off his face, “ . . . until a fight breaks out between the two babies and they either damage the circuits of the pod and go careening off into space and right into a star, or they injure each other badly enough that they are unable to survive once they land on the target planet.”


Pazru sighed and flopped onto his bed.  There just seemed to be no way to get the baby off of Vegetasei undetected.  He squeezed the bridge of his nose and scrunched his eyes shut, trying to ease the ceaselessly throbbing headache.  He wanted to find a way to smuggle the child off of the planet and manage to avoid torture in the process.  The problem was, avoiding torture and maybe even execution just didn’t seem like a possibility with the idiotic plans he was coming up with at the current moment.  Pazru stroked the bandage covering the cut on his forehead, deep in thought.  His eyes snapped open and he sat straight up, nearly voicing his thoughts to the empty room.


“Bardock, that’s it, Bardock is the key!  If I tell him about his other son and what’s going to happen to him, I’m sure Bardock would do something to intervene.  True, what Scleren said might be correct; Bardock may not care about another weakling child. But, I would think that he would rather his son perish on some hostile planet then have him murdered by a bunch of alien doctors.”


Pazru rose from the bed and rushed to the closet.  He pulled on a fresh tunic and ran his fingers through his long silky hair, pulling out the worst of the tangles.  He gave a quick glance at his reflection in the mirror, and noticing his unkempt appearance, straightened and smoothed the wrinkles out of his tunic, and quickly tied his long green hair into a loose knot at the base of his skull, his long orange fingers working deftly.  He took another look at his reflection and, satisfied that he didn’t look like a lunatic anymore, decided to make his escape.


Pazru walked up to the door and pushed it slightly to the side, trying to be as quiet as possible.  Through the small crack he able to see the guard, a dwarfish creature with pebbly yellow skin and a pair of stubby horns, slumped against the wall, fast asleep.  Smiling, Pazru slowly pushed the door the rest of the way into the wall.  He crept silently out of his room and pulled the door shut.  The guard stirred slightly at the nearly inaudible sound.  Pazru tensed, eyes wide, and pressed his back against the wall, willing himself to melt into the scenery.  The guard shook his head slowly, mumbled in his sleep, and turned to his side, his back towards Pazru.  Not believing his good fortune, the young man quickly tiptoed down the hallway and turned the corner.  The breath that he had been holding for what seemed like an eternity rushed out in one long whoosh.  Pazru raised one slightly shaking hand to his face and wiped a thin sheen of sweat from his forehead.  After regaining his composure, he began to walk briskly down the corridor toward the regen tank room.  His teeth clenched tightly, Pazru willed himself not to break out into a run so as not to alert anyone.



*           *           *           *



Several streams of gurgling bubbles spiraled upwards from the oxygen mask, flip-flopping into each other as they made their way to the surface of the tank.  A few of the bubbles clung briefly to the wafting strands of thick black hair covering the head of the unconscious man floating in the tank before continuing their journey upwards.  The man was naked save for several disc like sensors attached to his temples and nipples.  A small oxygen mask covered his mouth and nose, half-concealing a large jagged scar that ran the length of his left cheek.  Over the mask, the man’s thick black eyebrows arched down into a deep scowl.  Below the mask, tan skin stretched tautly over lean sheets of rock-hard muscle acquired from a lifetime of fighting.


Another stream of bubbles seeped from the edges of the mask and began to slowly travel up through the green viscous fluid.  The bubbles and slowly cycling liquid distorted and muffled the voices coming from the room outside the tank.  Two men, one seated at a computer panel and the other standing slightly behind the first, talked quietly amongst themselves, occasionally pointing towards a few pictures and a long list of data displayed on the screen.  Every minute or two, the data would refresh itself, and the pictures would change, displaying the physical status of the patient at one instant and several of his brainwaves undulating on the screen the next.  Both men wore concerned looks on their faces as they studied the screen before them.


“This doesn’t look good, Plenthor,” the man sitting at the panel said worriedly, pushing a glowing button on the panel below the screen with one scaly green finger.  Frowning slightly, the other man leaned over the technician’s shoulder and peered closely at the two lines undulating slowly on the screen.  His eyes widened as each of the waves suddenly spiked sharply, interrupting the formally calm pattern.


The technician continued, running one of his hands through his brushy red mohawk, his fingers coming to rest on the rough scales covering the back of his head.  “He is physically sound, hardly a scratch on him actually, considering the difficulty level of Kanassasei, but this,” one of his fingers shot out and traced the path of the spike rippling through the one of the waves, “shows me that Bardock is far from being okay mentally.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.”  The technician glanced up at the motionless figure floating in the tank and shook his head frustration.  Plenthor followed his gaze and stroked his long, meticulously trimmed beard, wincing slightly as he pulled a few of the soft white hairs a little too forcefully.  Deep in thought, he slowly shifted his weight to his right foot and crossed his arms in front of him.


“And you say that this abnormality in the brainwave pattern started shortly after he was placed in the tank?”  Plenthor asked the lizard-like technician after a few moments.  The man grunted and nodded in agreement in response to the doctor’s question.  Plenthor slowly walked up to the tank and studied the portion of Bardock’s face that was visible over the oxygen mask.  He turned around suddenly and asked, “Malacca, was he unconscious when he arrived?” The technician nodded again.  “I assume that Toma brought him in then.” Another nod.  Plenthor chuckled quietly to himself.  “Toma perplexes me to no end, Malacca.”


Malacca grinned, “I know what you mean.  Whenever Bardock gets himself into some kind of trouble that’s ends up putting him in there,” the technician gestured in the direction of the tank, “Toma turns into the worrywart of the year.”  Plenthor snorted and shook his head in amusement. 


Malacca sobered somewhat and continued, “You know, Plenthor, for a while back there I was afraid that we would have to break out the tranquilizers.  I have never seen Toma so upset before.”


“Well, Malacca, if what he and the rest of the team told us is true, then I think that there was plausible reason for his concern.  Toma said that Bardock took a weak blow to the back of the head from a wounded Kanassasei-jin and fell unconscious soon after. It takes a lot to bring Bardock down; his power level rivals those of the first-class Saiyans.” That such a blow would knock him out is very improbable.”  Plenthor began to pace the room, his brow furrowed in thought.  Malacca followed the doctor’s movements, his reptilian features clouded with concern.  “That and this disturbance in his brainwave pattern make me think that Bardock is in a much more serious condition than we originally thought” he concluded grimly.


  The doctor walked over to where Malacca was sitting in front of the computer panel, glanced at the screen, and shook his head in confusion as the spike rippled across it again.  “Malacca, in my whole career I have never seen anything like it before.  If I didn’t know any better, I would say that Bardock’s brain is running at least twice as fast as normal.”


Both men immediately quieted as they heard the door to the room hiss open behind them and turned their focus from the computer screen to look at the visitor.  Pazru stood uneasily in the shadows of the doorway trying desperately to come up with a convincing reason for his presence in the regen tank room.  Still uncertain of his story, but not wanting to alert the doctor and the technician by staying to long in the doorway, Pazru stepped forward into the bright light of the room, smiling apprehensively at the two men.


Plenthor and Malacca relaxed visibly at the sight of the tall young man.  Malacca, looking troubled, mumbled a greeting and turned back to the keyboard, his fingers moving rapidly over the softly glowing keys.  Plenthor slowly straightened, wincing slightly as the joints in his back popped audibly, and turned to face Pazru, a forced smile on his face.


“Good afternoon, Pazru, it has been quite a while since we have had the pleasure of your company in the regen tank room.”   The doctor slowly began to walk over to the young man then paused and carefully adjusted the wide shoulder pads, very similar to those found on Saiyan armor, of his tunic.  Satisfied with the fit of the pads, Plenthor stepped up to Pazru and extended one of his hands in greeting.  Pazru did likewise and slowly shook the doctor’s large calloused hand, trying to remember the last time he had seen the man.


He had first met Plenthor sometime after he had arrived on Vegetasei, and had done some brief training under his watchful eye before being assigned to Scleren.  At first, Plenthor’s quiet mannerisms had greatly confused Pazru, who had always had some difficulty reading people, and had made it difficult for him to form a bond with the man.  Time had improved his relationship with Plenthor, but Pazru was never as close to him as he was now to Scleren.  Even though Scleren’s motivation and all around charm inspired him more, Pazru had always harbored a great respect for Plenthor.


However, Pazru could never say the same about the doctor’s partner and technician, Malacca.  Pazru had to admit that the lizard-like man was very talented and capable, but Malacca’s constant nervousness, a quality he knew all too well that he himself possessed, grated on his nerves and increased his own level of stress.  Plenthor seemed to get along well with the technician, but Pazru knew without a doubt that had he not been assigned to Scleren when he was, Malacca would soon have driven him insane.


Large amber eyes misted in thought, Pazru completely missed Plenthor’s question and stayed lost in his own world until the doctor waved his hand back and forth in front of his face several times.  A little startled, the young man inhaled sharply, blinked a few times, and hastily said, “Forgive me, Plenthor, I’ve been a little ill lately and things just seem to slip right through my head.”  Embarrassed, Pazru looked away and absentmindedly scratched at the bandage on his forehead.


 “Of course, of course, Malacca and I heard all about your little run-in with Toma.”  Pazru was caught by surprise when Plenthor suddenly leaned forward and gently lifted the bandage from his forehead.  The doctor carefully examined the wound, lightly tracing the jagged edges of the small, scabbed over laceration with his forefinger.  Pleased, he smiled and nodded his head once and let the bandage snap back onto the surprised young man’s forehead.


“Hmmm, yes, it’s healing very nicely.”  Plenthor nodded again slowly and then straightened, arms folded comfortably behind his back.  He began to speak. “Pazru, I would like to apologize for Toma’s behavior.  When Bardock is injured—which, may I add is quite often—Toma tends to become a little . . . ,” he searched for the right word, eyes probing the ceiling for an answer, “ . . . excited.”  Malacca, beady black eyes still riveted on the computer screen, snorted in amusement, drawing a small smile and reproving glance from Plenthor.  Pazru was slightly confused by this little interplay between the technician and the doctor, but was inwardly relieved that the conversation had so easily turned to Bardock with no lying whatsoever on his part. At least, he thought with some trepidation, not so far.


Quickly, so as not to waste his opportunity to obtain the information he needed, Pazru motioned in the direction of the tank and casually asked, “So this is Bardock, huh?”


Plenthor, his expression suddenly grim, looked over at the motionless figure floating in the tank and nodded without a sound.  A long pause ensued during which Pazru tried frantically to think of something to say that would move Plenthor to give him more information than just a nod.  Pazru gently placed his hand on Plenthor’s shoulder, causing the man to jump, and asked quietly, “You seem very concerned about his condition, Plenthor.  Are his injuries serious?”


The old man turned away from Pazru and silently stood gazing at his patient, his lips pursed tightly in worry.  If he had heard the young man’s question he gave no indication.  Pazru stared at the doctor’s back, respectfully silent, understanding completely Plenthor’s concern for his patient.


Several moments passed during which no sound except for the soft blooping and bleeping of the keys at Malacca’s computer panel and the quiet gurgling of the tiny bubbles in the regen-tank filled the room.  The uninterrupted silence was beginning to make Pazru uncomfortable and he wanted desperately to forget everything, the child, his plans, everything, and leave the room.  He gritted his teeth in resolve and began to repeat his question, but was cut short by Plenthor’s quiet reply.


“To be honest, Pazru, I don’t know what is wrong with Bardock.”


Pazru froze in alarm, his gaze fixed on the doctor.  In his short time with the Plenthor, Pazru had never seen the man so perplexed by a patient’s condition that he was unable to give a diagnosis.  If Plenthor, one of the top doctors in his field, was unable to pinpoint the nature of Bardock’s injuries, then it was almost a certainty that Bardock wouldn’t survive.  If this was true, then all of Pazru’s plans would be rendered useless, and the child would most certainly be killed.  His thoughts spiraled down a dark pathway, and he began to doubt if he was even capable of carrying out his plan.


Plenthor cocked his head to the side and looked quizzically at him.  Roused from thought, Pazru hastily looked away, unsure of how to reply to Plenthor’s ominous statement.  He grimaced and faced Plenthor.


“So, uh, are you saying . . . no, um, well, what I want to . . .okay, so is Bardock . . . no, that’s not what I mean.”  Frustrated, his face bright red with embarrassment, Pazru struggled to find the right words.


Absolutely baffled by his former student’s behavior, Plenthor stared at Pazru and raised one of his eyebrows in amazement. Even Malacca looked up from the computer panel to look at the stuttering young man.


Aware of their scrutiny, Pazru’s face turned even redder and his words became even more garbled.  He stopped talking and wiped away the thin film of sweat on his forehead with the back of one long-fingered hand.  He then shut his eyes tightly, clenched his fists, and took several deep breaths.  After a few long moments, he began to speak.


“Plenthor, do you think Bardock will ever regain consciousness?” he asked quietly and slowly.


Plenthor continued to stare at the young man.  He studied Pazru’s face, noting his wide amber eyes and tightly pursed lips.  He gave a small smile and replied, “I am almost positive that after a few more days of rest Bardock will be up and about.”


“When will that be?” Pazru blurted out without thinking.


Plenthor narrowed his eyes and asked, “Pazru, since when are you so concerned with the condition of one of my patients?”


Pazru, realizing his mistake, cringed and decided that it was time to make an exit before he aroused too much suspicion.  He absentmindedly began to rub the back of his neck and laugh loudly as if he found the doctor’s question the funniest joke he had heard in ages.  “Oh, no reason, Plenthor.  It’s just that his son was born a few days ago and I just thought I’d ask when Bardock would be out of the regen tank so he could see the kid before he got sent on his first purging mission.”  Plenthor and Malacca stared at Pazru with a look of utter puzzlement.


 Still laughing, Pazru quickly pulled up the sleeve of his tunic and looked at his bare wrist.  His eyes widened in shock and he quickly pulled the sleeve back over his bare wrist before either Plenthor or Malacca could see that he wasn’t wearing a timepiece.  “Oh wow!  Look at the time!” he said, still laughing.  “I’d better get back to my quarters and finish my assignment or else Scleren will put me on meal restriction!”  Trying to be as subtle as possible, he began to walk backwards towards the door panel.  “It was great seeing you two again, I hope everything goes well.”


Before Malacca or Plenthor could say a word, Pazru had pushed the button to open the panel, darted through the opening into the hallway, and vanished from sight.  Plenthor looked over at Malacca and the two stared at each other for a few moments.  Plenthor finally broke the silence.  “That boy just keeps getting stranger and stranger every time I see him.”  Malacca nodded in agreement and turned back to the computer panel.  Plenthor shook his head slowly in amusement, and then turned his attention back to his patient.


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