Chapter 17

The third robot bowed from the waist, then stood erect. "Shao'uta. It is good to see that you are unharmed." His voice was very robotic and monotonous.

The shao'uta's mouth was hanging open in shock. "H-how?" she whispered, looking at Zen. "You said he was dead. I thought that meant you couldn't repair him."

"Well, I love a challenge. I have been working on him in my free time since the incident. That is why I you have not seen that much of me. I used up most of our spare parts reserve, especially out of Jax's supply."

"WHAT!" Jax spun and screamed at him, his fists clenched again.

"Quit your whining," he fired back. "I could not take parts from the others. They have heavy duty work to do around the pyramid and may need their supply."

"And I do not do heavy duty work?" Jax spat, gesturing around the room.

Zen scoffed. "Oh, please. You barely break a fingernail with the work you do around here."

"I do not have fingernails!"

"My point exactly," Zen mumbled dryly. Jax growled in frustration, while Prae'tor shook his head from side to side hopelessly.

"I am going to kill you." Jax said, so calmly that it was almost frightening. Before he could attack, however, Nia suddenly rose from the bed and crossed to Gab. Jax quickly calmed down, but he stared at her worriedly. She laid a hand on Gab's forearm, as if she had to touch him to be sure he was real. He glanced down at her hand curiously, not expecting the contact, then raised his eyes back to her face.

"You saved my life. I don't know how to thank you." Seconds later she was in tears. She dropped her hand to her face and wept. Jax was at her side in seconds.

"That is not the reaction I was hoping for," Zen mumbled. His counterpart glared angrily at him.

"Come lay back down," he said to Nia and led her back to the bed. He pulled a tissue from the nice stand beside the bed and handed it to her. She wiped her tear-stained face with it then blew her nose. When the emotion passed she looked up to find her guardian sitting on the bed by her knee. Zen and Gab had moved closer and were standing behind him. Behind them, Prae'tor was leaning forward in his chair. All three of the robots had looks of concern on their plasti-metal faces. Gab spoke first.

"I did not mean to upset you, shao'uta," he apologized.

"I don't know why I'm crying," she confessed, reaching for another tissue. "I guess seeing him again brought up the incident and the fear and…"

"Shhh," Jax hushed her, placing a comforting hand on her knee. "It is all right. You can cry all you like."

Behind him Zen scoffed. "You bedside manner stinks," he mumbled crossing his arms over his chest. The gesture was very humane and Nia smiled. Jax shifted his position on the bed to glare at the gardener.

"Well, what would you like me to do? Remove all our heads and juggle them?"

Zen's brows raised in interest. "Do you think that will make her feel better?" Jax narrowed his eyes at him, but Nia laughed.

"Removing our heads will disconnect the synaptic pathways from our CPU's to our extremities. Juggling will not be possible."

Silence pervaded the room as everyone glared curiously at Gab.

"You are definitely a collection of Jax's parts," Zen pointed out wryly. "No sense of humor whatsoever."

Gab was not offended, but Jax shot him a hot look. Nia burst out laughing.

"Wonderful," her guardian mumbled, rising from the bed, "just what I need, one more idiot robot hanging around to drive me crazy."

Nia laughed harder.

"Idiot…" Gab repeated, "…a foolish or stupid person…a person of profound mental retardation, unable to learn speech or guard against common dangers…no longer in use…" His eyes were shifting, but they stopped and settled on Jax. "This term does not describe any of us."

Zen grinned broadly as Nia laughed even harder. "I take that back. He does have a sense of humor, albeit a dry one." He clapped Gab on the back.

Jax smirked in annoyance at the two of them as he wondered back over to the bed. "What would you like to eat, Nia? I am certain all of this tomfoolery-" he tosses Zen a knowing look, "-has made you hungry."

Nia quit laughing immediately when the subject changed to food.

"Pizza!" she exclaimed, then proceeded to name the various toppings she wanted on it.

"Whatever you like," Jax said cheerfully, then looked at Zen. "Go get started."

Zen's eyes widened. "What! Why do I have to do it?"

"Because I told you to." Jax nodded toward the kitchenette.

"But…I…I do not even know where to begin."

"Look it up," the other replied flatly. He wore a big smile because he'd finally gotten the upper hand.

Zen groaned in agitation, but headed toward the tiny kitchen. "Set off two little Molotov bombs and suddenly I get bumped down to robot chef," he whined. Nia chuckled behind her hand. Jax watched to make sure he was indeed doing what he had been told then turned to his charge.

"It may take a while for your pizza to finish baking," Jax mentioned. "Let me give you a quick examine in the meantime."

Nia rolled her eyes. "No, Jax. For heaven's sake! Didn't we just go through this?"

"Can I check you after lunch?"

"No more examines, Jax!" she snapped. "The only subject I'm going to discuss with you is dessert." Jax sighed in exasperation.

"My database states dessert is generally consumed after the evening meal." Gab clarified in that robotic voice that Nia was slowly getting used to. "According to my chronometer, you will soon be eating the noon meal." Again everyone stared at him like he had three heads.

"Thank-you, Gab," Nia sang, shaking her head hopelessly.

"You are welcome, shao'uta."

Nia shook her head again as she swung her feet to get out of bed. "I gotta' pee," she said to Jax and hurried to the bathroom, one hand on the small of her back for balance. Jax watched her until the door closed behind her, then he went to the kitchen to oversee Zen's progress. It wasn't long before the two of them started arguing. Gab decided to slip into a vacant chair at the table and wait to be needed. Prae'tor sat all the way back in his chair and relaxed now that the emotional fit had ended.

Ten minutes later, Nia came out of the bathroom and as she stepped out a gonging sound reverberated through the room, jarring Prae'tor, who had nodded off, awoke. He sat up with a jerk and looked as though he was about to charge something.

"What in the world is that?" Nia asked Jax, frowning at the tensed up Yaut'ja curiously.

"On your world it is called a doorbell," the robot replied from the kitchenette. "Unfortunately you have never heard it before because some robots believe their importance is to illustrious to use it."

Zen glared angrily at his counterpart, knowing exactly whom he was referring to.

"I'll get it!" Nia offered and scurried over to the door before anyone could stop her. The main entrance hissed open when she reached it and wafts of orange/white fog drifted into the room. When the doors parted, five male Yaut'ja's dressed head to toe in traditional hunting armor, were standing on the other side.

Nia's eyes bucked. She gasped in fear and stepped back two paces.


Poor Nia. She just can't stay out of trouble can she? ;

Oh, well, now she's got three guardians, so maybe she'll be all right. Then again, maybe not. Have I got your interest yet? Hope so. Okay, now, back to your normal routines…but don't forget to review! Love you guys! Take care!