STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
Chapter five

The Pippien ambassador had been totally captivated by Zarbon’s charm and gracious manner. Frieza’s right-hand man had been surprisingly well-versed in the customs and practices of the frog-man’s planet, unlike most of the visitors from other worlds. The Megalian had even known a few phrases in the native tongue and was exacting in the pronunciation of a language that few non-Pippiens could master. Yes. He was very impressed. And so, at the end of his private dinner meeting with Lord Frieza, he cordially invited the ice lord and his associate to come partake of the hospitality his small world and his own humble home had to offer. The changeling was more than pleased to accept the invitation on behalf of his subordinate but begged off himself, citing important duties that needed immediate attention.

After personally attending the ambassador’s departure from his ship, Frieza summoned Zarbon to his quarters. When the Megalian arrived, he was told to make himself comfortable. Sinking into the plush cushions of an overstuffed sofa with a sigh of weary relief, he looked up at his master questioningly. “Well?”

“My dear Zarbon. Once again you have proven your worth to me,” he purred in pleasing compliment to his blue-skinned favorite. “The Pippien ambassador has fallen under your spell, finding you to be a most agreeable emissary for my interests. He can be added to your long list of avid disciples, fawning at your feet in hope of receiving even the smallest of smiles or hint of praise…not unlike the affections given to me,” he said in good humor. “But you, my loyal one, command with the power of your beauty…I with my physical power. We are quite a potent combination,” he stated, smiling with great satisfaction. “I am very pleased,” he added, nodding his head happily.

“Then I am pleased, my lord,” replied Zarbon, a smile on his comely face as well. He was finding it hard to concentrate, the little energy gathered after the restless night--spent, after a long day of escorting the Pippien ambassador around the huge ship-- keeping him in scintillating company at lunch and throughout the afternoon as he regaled him with strange tidbits about his travels. “He was surprised and quite delighted when I spoke a bit of and understood the Croakian language. I tried to pass off my abilities as due to a shared amphibious ancestry, but he said even other more closely-related species that would visit from off-world failed to attempt the speech with its low throaty grunts interspersed throughout the vocalization, preferring to rely on universal standard instead,” relayed a widely yawning Zarbon as he stretched languidly on the couch.

Zarbon’s lethargy did not go unnoticed by the ice lord. Sharp red eyes watching the Megalian with soft worry, Frieza asked in a sudden change of topic, “Was the first evening with the Saiyan troublesome? I know Vegeta can be very trying on one’s patience…pigheaded little beast.”

“He was tolerable,” interjected Zarbon quickly as he became more alert, sitting now rather than lying down. “It is a difficult situation for him to adapt to…and he’s still very young.”

Frowning, the small ice lord admonished, “I realize that you may have some empathy for the princeling due to your own unfortunate experience…but you must remember that he is a Saiyan…barely more than an animal. Frieza looked at Zarbon as he emphasized, “He is yours to do with as you please. Disliking pedophilia, I kept him safe from sexual predation to this point…but he is practically an adult now, reports on his hormone levels indicating a fast-approaching climax to his puberty. Enjoy his favors, (a slight grimace) such as they might be, at your convenience…not the little monkey’s.” With that said Frieza went back to his original topic.

“I’ve accepted on your behalf an invitation to join the ambassador for dinner in his home tomorrow evening. Take Dodoria to Pippiea with you…Tour the hatcheries and soak in the Pools…Enjoy yourselves,” the changeling commanded lightly with a flick of his hand.

“Yes, my lord,” Zarbon said as he rose to his feet and gave a slight bow to Frieza.

Before he exited his attention was called for once more as the ice lord added, “The ambassador inquired as to your eligibility…It seems he has two daughters.” At the rolling of tawny eyes and the long-suffering sigh he elicited from his associate with that information, Frieza laughed mirthfully, barely managing to get out the rest amidst his outburst. “Don’t fret, Zarbon. I informed him that you were involved in a relationship…That seemed to deter his matchmaking ambitions…for the present.” It was a source of never-ending amusement for Frieza and discomfiture for Zarbon that if he wasn’t fending off the advances of the emissaries themselves, he was bursting the bubbles of their imagined pairings of him with a proffered daughter or son as the case might be.

The Megalian’s sleep that night was a good deal more restful than that of the night before. He had gone back to his usual routine, comforted by its familiarity. The morning that followed was also pleasant and he felt renewed and thrilled at the prospect of visiting Pippiea.

Dodoria and he met in the launch bay and together boarded their small personal spacecraft. The trip was brief and uneventful and the beautiful blue planet looked quite welcoming as they approached, watching it excitedly through the porthole. They were forced to their seats for entry into the planet’s atmosphere and upon landing were met by Pippien representatives of the hatcheries.

Pippiea was a water world. Most of the landmass was swampy and in accordance with that condition the cities were designed to float. The ambassador, Rana, made his residence in the largest city on the planet, home to the greatest number of hatcheries. Zarbon found it quite interesting to see the Pippien young being born and placed in their aquatic nurseries. He would have been content to pass several hours learning the basics of their operation and losing himself in watching the innocent activities—far removed from the more nefarious actions he would usually be part of in his service to Frieza. But Dodoria was impatient, squirming in anticipation of a visit to the Pools.

The Pools were the center of the tourism industry for the planet. Beings traveled from many far-away star systems to soak in the rejuvenating waters available as a by-product of the hatching of the native population. Entering into a pool in tandem, Zarbon and Dodoria made quite the odd couple, blue skin of a superbly toned physique glistening in startling contrast to the massive shock of undefined globular pink. Relaxing in the serene waters, the Megalian could not help but wonder if the age-retarding properties of the Pools were not a sort of preservative as these very same waters were used to strengthen the armor worn by the men in Frieza’s service.

The day passed rather quickly as Frieza’s two lieutenants dozed in the warm waters, basking in the sun in rare tranquility. As evening approached, darkening the sky with a finely-meshed veil of gray, they relinquished their spots in the pool to other eager visitors. Zarbon had agreed to have a drink with Dodoria at one of the many bars within walking distance of the Pools before leaving for his dinner appointment.

Palustri, the hotel-bar they entered, was a popular stop for the tourists. Both denizens and newcomers to the establishment were an odd assortment of species from the far-flung reaches of the cosmos. Zarbon watched in a strange mixture of gentle amusement and real sympathy as Dodoria, emboldened by a large quantity of stiff drinks, attempted to pick up several of the other customers. Of course there were prostitutes present, mingling through the crowd as they advertised their availability--for the right price—but Dodoria pointedly ignored them. It never ceased to amaze the Megalian that Dodoria, who had shown no qualms about the idea of bedding a teenage boy against his will, somehow found it beneath him to pay for sexual services. Feeling especially sorry for his large companion after his tenth rebuff, Zarbon decided to intervene discreetly on his behalf.

Taking his leave of the somewhat unsteady pink mountain of flesh, Zarbon approached one of the working women(?) and paid for her service to Dodoria with a generous bonus tacked on for the added stipulation that this encounter was to be thought voluntary and on the house. He wasn’t able to ascertain the gender of the orange-skinned being during the transaction but it was equipped with a rather large mouth and elongated tongue…Dodoria should find ample satisfaction.

Going outside Zarbon found an awaiting escort that brought him within minutes to the modest circular dwelling that was the home of Rana. The ambassador was a recent widower and was obviously fussed over by his two adoring daughters who were both still living at home. The older daughter, Burnsia, was green in coloration with the dark spots of their species appearing only on her limbs. The younger daughter, Kandiyohi, was brown in pigmentation, darker brown spots over her entire backside. As far as the Pippien standards for beauty went, both would be considered quite pretty but they had not evolved to the extent that Zarbon’s people had and resembled amphibians more closely than he did. Even with the addition of moss-green hair and lips, they were too alien in appearance--still retaining the triangular head and prominent eyes--for Zarbon to consider them in any way appealing in a strictly physical sense.

The girls, on the other hand, seemed to have no such problem with their guest’s exotic looks. Zarbon would look up from his dinner to converse with Rana only to find that more often than not he was the object of giggling appreciation. He was very relieved when the meal was finished and he was left in the sole company of the father.

They retired to the ambassador’s study for a cigar. Zarbon wasn’t a regular smoker but he knew enough about cigars to appreciate the fine quality of the one he was currently enjoying. Lining the walls of the studies were numerous artifacts and souvenirs from other worlds he noticed, as he examined the room more closely, savoring his smoke. Some were from cultures he was quite familiar with, while others were completely foreign. But one particular object caught his eye.

Standing up abruptly and walking directly to that item, he turned and asked excitedly, “Where did you get this?…May I examine it?”

Coming over to Zarbon’s side the ambassador looked closely at the object in question and replied, “Oh, yes. That was presented to me in exchange for some supplies and services we offered to a man whose spaceship landed here for repairs about fourteen years ago…Go ahead and look it over.”

It was Saiyan in origin…no doubt in the Megalian’s mind. A Saiyan bonding, or marriage, tether. The brightly-colored, fine, alternating stripes of green, red, and gold of the skin were as unmistakable as the snake from which it was taken…a snake that had existed only on Vegetesei. Noting the adornment of the tether with several small precious stones, he also realized that it had once belonged to a member of the upper classes. ~What an odd thing to run across when the Saiyan species is, for all practical purposes, extinct…Only three males left.~

Turning to face Rana, golden eyes hopeful, Zarbon asked tentatively, “Is there anyway I could convince you to allow me to purchase this from you...name a price.”

Waving his hand in negation the Pippien said in all sincerity, “Nonsense…I insist you take it as a gift from me to you.”

He was touched by the generous gesture, smiling in heartfelt appreciation, so he felt rather ungrateful in asking his following question. “You said this was given as a payment for services by the Saiyan who landed here. Do you know if anyone else has items also taken in exchange from this man? I would very much like to purchase anything he left behind.” Appearing somewhat ill at ease he hastened to explain, “The world, Vegetesei, from which this came, no longer exists but there are a few survivors of the Saiyan race in Frieza’s service. It would be nice to be able to present items from Vegetesei to…” He trailed off in embarassment, cheeks flushing lavender.

“One of these Saiyans in particular,” Rana guessed astutely. “I’ll wager that this Saiyan is your significant other. Lord Frieza informed me that you were in a relationship but I didn’t understand that this was still a courtship…how terribly romantic you are,” the ambassador complimented.

Mouth dropping open and eyes widening in revelation Zarbon thought. ~Courting? Is that what I am doing with the princelet?~

Before he could study that possibility in greater depth, the ambassador reclaimed his attention once more when he said with a wink, “I do have something else that you might want. Come with me.”

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