A/N: Meant to say earlier, the word 'Rashian' was a made-up name created by Karete-chan (read "Only the Weak"! Especially if you're a Zarbon fan!). Also, Reffinest Ginbokou is her character. I'm just hiring her for a while.
"What dya say, what dya know!" Jeice greeted, with his usual enthusiasm, grinning from ear to ear, though he did not feel like it. Only Berter acknowledged his presence, with his usual pointy-toothed grin.
"I thought you'd never be ready." The Saurian remarked, quirking broad eye-ridge.
"Have to look my best for the scum of the backlands." Jeice replied, bending over the navigation controls to inspect the star chart more closely.
The Rashian General, who was seated behind the giant Saurian, narrowed his golden eyes in the Ginyu pirate's direction. "Don't touch that." Zarbon snapped, testily. "You'll send us spinning halfway across the galaxy."
"Do I look like a stupid monkey? I know how to work a Nav chart, Zarbon." Jeice snapped, irritably and pulled up Helot's stats on the small screen in front of him. The General and Captain Ginyu had already briefed him twice, but he preferred to be doubly prepared for a mission. Jeice hated being caught off-guard and he had an increasingly nagging feeling that this would be one of those missions.
The soft whoosh of the automatic doors behind him signalled Sakumei's arrival. He glanced over his shoulder as the young soldier stalked casually into the centre of the circular room. Like Zarbon, Sakumei was renowned not for her fighting skills, but for her vast knowledge and connections to the higher-ranking crime syndicates spanning the galaxy.
This always surprised him, for she was not at all intimidating as he would have expected, and always appeared to be smiling at one thing or another. Excluding him of course. Jeice wasn't entirely sure where her hatred of him had sprouted. Perhaps he'd dumped her in the middle of a date a while back and she still bore a grudge.
'Women,' Jeice thought and mentally rolled his eyes.
Berter squared his shoulders and straightened uncomfortably in the pilot's seat. "Sakumei," he said politely and tried to refrain from eyeing her scantily clad form. "You look…well."
Sakumei's grey eyes shimmered good-naturedly. "Don't humour me, Berter. I'm well aware I look like a something Jeice would keep in his cupboard." She shrugged. "But it's necessary."
Jeice felt his temper flare, but his shrewd, green eyes shone with amusement. "Don't flatter yourself, sweetheart." He replied dryly, and dumped himself into an empty seat. Purposefully, he allowed his hunter-green eyes to trail along Sakumei's bare thighs for a moment or two before he added: "I suppose Berter and I 'ill have to go easy on yeh. Won't we, mate?" his cruel eyes flashed to Berter.
"Don't bring me into this, Jeice." Berter said, warningly.
Zarbon's handsome face flushed with anger as he gathered a pile of datasheets up in his arms and walked towards the red-skinned Ginyu. "Are you going to make lewd comments throughout this entire mission, or are you going to shut your pirate-mouth and start working, like the rest of us are attempting to?" He snapped, and dumped the datasheets promptly into Jeice's lap.
"I don't remember askin' you for a lecture, Zarbon."
"Grow up." Zarbon retorted, coolly.
Sakumei interrupted before Jeice could get another word in. "If you two are about finished, we had better get our stories straight. And by that I mean every single detail must be absolutely perfect - from our family history to our blood type. Boss Dodoria may not look it, but he has a razor-sharp instinct for detecting liars. It's his job to flush out traitors. If we're not as quick-witted as he is, we'll be found out." She pointed a look of warning at Jeice. "And he has a penchant for cruel and unusual torture."
Jeice screwed his face up in distaste. "Great, knew this stuff was goin' to get complicated."
"It will only get complicated it you botch it up." Zarbon said, through clenched teeth.
Berter sighed, rubbing his aching temples, and got to his feet. "Alright, enough. Sakumei's right, we need to make sure that we each know the information on these documents inside out, as if it really were our history."
"Those are all the documents we need." Zarbon motioned to the files in Jeice's lap. "We should each of us be familiar with them by now. I may be a well-known face on Icion and the centre point of Frieza's Empire, but considering my peoples' common occupation," he said, grimly, "it should be easy enough for me to slip past Dodoria without notice. And Sakumei, as I gather, is quite the con-artist."
Sakumei shot him a smile, full of pride. "You'd better believe it, General."
Zarbon smiled and leant his arms on his broad, powerful thighs. "That leaves you two, and therein lies my concern. Not that I dispute your own ability, but as it will be the two of you doing most of the talking, the success of this mission lies in your hands."
Jeice cocked a bushy eyebrow. "You don't have t' beat about the bush, General. It's me you're concerned about." He grinned, confidently. "You needn't worry. I don't plan on letting anythin' slip."
Zarbon steadied his gaze on the Ginyu's. "I hope, for the sake of my neck, that is true." He leant back in his seat and skimmed a datasheet for questions. "Now, why are we on Helot?"
"We're in the market for pleasure slaves to entertain a few important clients of our chief's." Jeice answered, in a subdued manner.
"And Guldo's got that covered if anyone care's to check up." Berter added.
Sakumei leant over Zarbon's shoulder to skim the list of bullet points. "Considering the circles we're supposedly moving in, we should know a few of the more prominent traders on Helot."
Jeice rattled off a half-a-dozen names in impressive time, allowing Berter to continue where he left off.
"Trader Swiss Garett; Bounty Hunter Reffinest Ginbokou," Berter continued, "mercenaries Bojack and Zangya; trader Dredge Murlak."
"Murlak!" Jeice interrupted the Saurian, nearly flying out of his seat. "Yeh've gotta be kidding me."
Zarbon raised a slender eyebrow in concern. "Is that a problem for you?"
"It'll be a problem for 'im." Jeice muttered in reply.
Sakumei folded her arms firmly across her chest. "If you know him, the best thing you can do is stay out of his way."
"You're saying he could beat me in a fight?" Jeice asked, smirking and cracking his knuckles.
"No, I'm saying that if he recognises you as a Ginyu, we're screwed." Sakumei replied evenly, though her narrowed eyes spelled her extreme dislike of him.
Jeice clamped down on his irritation and nodded his head in agreement. "Guess so. Anything else left on that list? We still have to agree on who owns who."
"Uhm, well actually…" Berter trailed off before finishing, and his face turned grim at the look of utter loathing Sakumei and Zarbon directed towards his red-skinned counterpart.
"I think that's already been agreed on." Sakumei replied, shooting a glance at Zarbon who looked thoroughly miserable.
"Naturally." Jeice said, leaning casually into his chair. "Zarbon belongs to Berter and Sakumei belongs to me." His smile fell to the floor with an almost audible thud as he watched the three exchange uncomfortable looks.
Jeice's narrowed his eyes. "No way."
"It's already been decided, Jeice." Zarbon replied. "The documents have been written up. You acquired me on the moon of Teradda four weeks ago from a small-time, humanoid trader named Dav Rider."
"That wouldn't be a disappointed customer who didn't want to deal with your high and mighty attitude, would it?" Jeice growled, digging his fingers into the arms of his chair, leaving little indentations in the durasteel there.
Sakumei groaned and dropped her head into the palm of her hand, exhausted. "You know they say a man who continuously vouches their hatred for someone, is actually repressing desire." She mumbled irritably into the back of Zarbon's seat.
Jeice snorted with revulsion. "Now who's being infantile?"
"Look, I don't mind if the three of you want to fight it out here, but once we get down there, can you please keep your feelings to yourselves?" Berter said. "I too would like to come out of this alive.
"Ah s'pose it's too late to ask if we can share?" Jeice asked the Saurian, hopefully, who shot him an impatient look. "A'right, a'right. No more arguments, I promise."
Zarbon's golden gaze moved between Berter and Jeice before he nodded his head solemnly. He had to admit he was surprised that the rowdy, overzealous pirate he had come to know, would take orders from anyone else other than Captain Ginyu. But it appeared the gentle Saurian had a calming effect on him.
"Alright, now that's settled –"
"We should be strapping ourselves in." Sakumei concluded. "We're coming out of hyperspace, Berter." She pointed to the consol behind the Saurian, who swivelled in his pilot's chair to engage landing procedure.
Jeice glanced out of the view screen. "So where do we start once we land?" he asked, curiously.
"The capital." Zarbon answered. "Atlas. We'll feign naivety for a bit - nose around until someone directs us to Dodoria's fort in the West marshlands."
"Fort?" Sakumei chuckled. "It's more like a pleasure-playpen. Your kind of place, Jeice."
"Didn't know there was so much money in slave-trading." Jeice grinned. "I'm working in the wrong business."
Zarbon looked like he wanted to protest against Jeice's complete lack of sensitivity, before the air was suddenly forced out of his lungs as the ship gave a nasty lurch.
"A nice little gravity storm in the upper troposphere has been waiting to greet us." Berter chuckled. "Everyone strap in."
"With pleasure." Zarbon muttered and buckled his seat-harness as Sakumei tried to slip, as gracefully as possible, into her own seat. Suddenly, the engines began to whine and the ship dropped several thousand feet into the planet's atmosphere before catching itself. The sudden pitch forced Sakumei backwards into Jeice's lap, who's wandering hands automatically clamped around her waist.
"Now isn't this a bit more comfortable?" he inquired, with a sugary-sweet smile.
"Get off!" Sakumei pulled away, only to be tossed gracelessly into Zarbon's lap as the ship gave another great lurch. She clasped her stomach with one hand, which felt as though it had been left on one of Helot's four moons, and dug her clawed fingers into the General's forearm with the other.
"I feel like a atcheté ball," she panted as the queasiness overcame her.
"You look like one too." Zarbon quipped, and tried to release her painful grip on him.
The creases on Berter's forehead gathered. "Hold tight. It's going to get rough."
"Get rough?" Jeice shouted as the ship was thrown from side to side in its descent. "This is a bloody omen!"
The ship's rough descent down to Atlas' designated landing port seemed to take forever, heaving and stumbling like a wounded beast as it plummeted and pitched before the auxiliary engines caught them in the storm again and again. At last they stabilized and Berter was able to guide the ship, smoothly, towards the designated landing port.
Zarbon released his arms from Sakumei's grip, huffing impatiently at the nail marks scarring the pale skin, and straightened in his seat. "That wasn't too bad."
"Speak for yourself." Sakumei replied, her face quite red as she attempted to lift herself from Zarbon's lap.
"Thank the bloody Gods ah didn't eat lunch." Jeice said, tasting blood in his mouth, having bitten down on his tongue when the ship had dropped. Forcing his dazed mind out of its trance, Jeice unbuckled himself from the seat and attempted to look cool and composed.
"I need a drink." His earlier reluctance to the mission had increased tenfold after the rough landing. But one look from Berter and he quickly decided that it would do none of them any good if he continued to gripe about their given assignment.
Zarbon nodded. "For once I agree. We'll scout out a few the taverns and inns – see what we can learn." He pulled the hood of his shimmersilk cloak over his head, partly concealing his features, and allowed his shoulders and back to slouch forwards, ever so slightly. It was astounding what difference a small change in posture made to the Rashian.
Sakumei followed Zarbon's lead, and the pair obediently fell behind the two Ginyus.
Jeice clapped his hands together and tutted himself. "My, my! Here's me forgettin' the most important thing," he cocked an eyebrow at the General, a secretive smile playing on his lips. "I nearly forgot your collar, Zarbon."
He took great satisfaction in seeing Frieza's Right Hand flinch, awkwardly. "My what?" he stammered. A look of sheer disgust spread rapidly across his face.
Jeice pulled the slim, black band from his pocket and spun it teasingly around his index finger. "Dem's the breaks, mate."
Sakumei looked pitifully on the General. "Sorry Zarbon, but he's right."
Growling and grinding his teeth in fury, Zarbon snatched the collar from Jeice's open hand and fixed it, like a noose, around his neck.
"Frieza isn't paying me enough for this."
A/N: Like it? Hate it? Anything you want to see? Tell me! (please)