"How much longer is this gonna take?" Forcytha whined.
Azera was putting the finishing touches on the latest modifications to the communicator before being interrupted once again by his colleague. Even after inspecting the rest of the spacecraft and confirming that it was flight worthy, he continued to make minor tweaks in the hopes of boosting the device's signal range. Busy work like this had always been the easiest way for Azera to combat stress, much to his partner's annoyance. Forcytha was a formidable warrior but had the patience of a sapling. Not to mention his social status made him believe he had the right to interrupt both important tasks and good conversation.
"For the last time Forcytha, it will be finished when I say it is." The knight said over his shoulder before returning to a much more important discussion. "So, as you were saying, this sport has existed for how many years now?"
"No one knows for sure when it started, but its been around for a long time." Yamcha continued. "Even back then there were several different versions of the same game before they really established rules. But once they got those rules set, its expanded and grew into one of the most popular sports in the world."
"What is your job when playing this, baseball?" Azera said the name slowly to make sure he was pronouncing it right.
"Center field. I'm one of the guys who has to go after the ball and throw it to one of the three bases before the batter can get there. But the team coach only puts me out there when they really need me thanks to my martial arts training. Kinda gets boring sometimes but hey, it pays well."
"Sounds like you'd still prefer a career in martial arts though." Azera remarked, hearing the disappointment in Yamcha's voice.
"Well, yeah. Every now and again I think about participating in the World Tournament again but then I remember the kind of people I'd be up against...and how much they would kick my ass."
"Hmph, that is just an excuse. Even if you fail, it is an opportunity to learn and grow stronger."
"Maybe, but I think it's just as well that I put that life behind me. No matter how hard I try I'm never going to catch up."
"Not with that attitude." Azera pointed out. Yamcha scratched his head, embarrassed.
"Don't bother trying to change his mind Azera." Bulma said returning to the ship, her baby girl lying contently in her arms. "I've already tried talking him into participating in this year's tournament but he won't listen to me."
"What's the point? Even if I could fight my way to the championship match, I'd have to lose on purpose. Not after we all promised Hercule that we'd let him keep his title."
"And I've told you before, you don't have to worry about the money. You remember how much Eighteen was able to walk away with?"
"Who said it was about the money? I could make just as much playing baseball. Is a little recognition too much to ask for?"
"Glory can come with a price. A victory in competition or a battle may have benefits, but the eyes of the world will always be on your back. And the second you make a mistake, they won't let you forget it." Azera commented. Before the Saiyan attack, he had been a decorated war hero. The only one to have gone toe to toe with King Vegeta and come home alive. However, his failure to protect the Queen and her daughter had dragged his good name through the mud. Being called a failure, incompetent and even a traitor. It was not something he would wish on anyone.
"Which is exactly why, I've decided to avoid the whole circus." Yamcha concluded. "Playing baseball, I stay in shape, earn enough for me and my girlfriend, and if the occasional fight breaks out, can get a refresher on the old turtle techniques."
"Ahh, you mentioned those before. An earth based martial arts style?"
"Yep. Master Roshi taught me, Krillin and Goku when we started out. It wasn't easy, but the training did give us an edge at the Tournament. Back in the day at least. That was before aliens, Frieza, having to save the world..."
"So I've heard. Though just because they may not have been effective against those foes doesn't mean those styles are without merit or skill. In fact I would like to see if I can learn this, 'Wolf Fang Fist' technique you told me about."
"Uh, sure. I don't mind." Yamacha face went a little red. Azera smirked since it seemed the young man wasn't used to being asked to demonstrate. The knight also wanted to learn more about this baseball sport after he had managed to see a bit of a game on one of the media channels at the Son household.
He had barely understood the rules even when Gohan attempted to explain them to him. Nonetheless, even if he didn't understand, the overall point of hitting a ball out of a grassy field, he found he couldn't look away from it. There was something about the energy of the crowd and the men playing that was contagious. It was a battle for glory and honor among commoners that didn't require bloodshed. A sort of sport Azera had wished existed back when he was a lad.
"As touching and heartwarming as this banter is Azera, could you remember for just a second that we are stranded on an alien world with a war on our heels? And work faster perhaps?" Forcytha chimed in once again. Azera rolled his eyes as he plugged in the last cable and the external light flashed on.
"Then next time, you'll be the one to reconstruct a workable device out of alien tech." Azera said mockingly as he stood up.
"And steal all your glory? Perish the thought." Forcytha smirked as he rolled over from his place on the floor.
"Well, that should do it. I've done all the modifications I can."
"Now what?" Yamcha asked leaning over to take a look.
"Now we try it, and hope this does the trick." Azera said as he began to press buttons and adjust the frequency nob for what felt like the 29th time that day. Loud static came out of the ship's speakers, forcing the occupants to cover their ears. The loud noise made the small child wail in response. Bulma walked over and used her free hand to turn down the volume.
"Sorry about that." She said. "The mic volume should have adjusted as well. So no worrying about scaring your buddies half to death." She moved away to the door and soothed her daughter.
"Alright, here we go." Azera said taking a deep breath. "This is Azera, Second in command of the ASTF to General Gladolous, come in."
A few seconds of silence passed. Seconds turned to minutes yet the static persisted.
"Again, this is the second of command of the ASTF, direct subordinates of the Queen. General Gladolous please reply."
Nothing but static.
"You didn't do it right!" Forcytha said shoving his way past Azera to look at the device. Azera crossed his arms as the young noble tried to piece together the problem. "Did you even put in the ship ID?"
"Of course I did."
"Then why the hell isn't this working?" Forcytha asked, failing to hide his anger.
"The signal may need more time to travel." Azera said returning to position.
"I thought you said that his ship was built to communicate from here all the way to Namek?" Forcytha asked Bulma.
"It is. It was just never tested with this ship." she managed to say after her daughter had quieted down.
"Because the only one who used it never bothered to call." Bulma said in a huff. Forcytha took the hint and bent down to check the communicator's power supply.
"Maybe the signal needs more juice?"
"No and don't touch anything down there. Knowing your luck you'll end up doing more harm than good." Azera scolded. Just as Forcytha was about to open his mouth to protest, the static fluctuated as a muffled voice came through the speakers.
"Come in! This is General Gladolous. First lieutenant Azera respond immediately." The message cleared up as the leader of the second noble house finally came through.
"Yes, sir. We hear you loud and clear sir!" Azera replied in proper military style.
"Good to hear your voice again soldier. What is the status of the Queen and your crew?"
"All alive and well sir. We engaged the enemy on her orders but both our ship and theirs were damaged in the process. We've crashed landed on a small planet in the outer sector called Earth. Our ship is beyond repair. The Queen has ordered an immediate evac."
"Did the enemy survive the crash?"
"Several soldiers survived but we dealt with most of them. The remaining ones fled and were dealt with by the native inhabitants."
"Did they managed to contact the rest of the fleet?" Gladolous asked finally. Azera was a bit taken aback as he looked over to Forcytha who shrugged his arms.
"We, cannot confirm at this time. We believe they died before they were organized enough to do so."
"Sorry to break the bad news to you Azera, but from where I'm standing they must have."
"If I may sir, what makes you say that?" Azera felt a cold chill down his spine. He didn't like where this was going.
"Cause we're following behind their fleet now, and they are heading straight for your coördinates en mass."
Azera's hands twitched, Forcytha clenched his fists, Yamcha was ready to bolt and Bulma held her baby close. This peaceful planet was about to get hit with an invasion that it was in no way prepared for and there were only a handful of men and women to stand against it.
"How many?" Azera mangaged to say.
"We don't have an exact number at this time but their numbers had dropped considerably since we took on their main group. The troubling part is that their ships are moving like someone lit a fire under their asses. Even our fastest fighters can keep up the pace these dreadnoughts are pushing."
"How is that even possible?" Forcytha asked.
"Can't answer that and unfortunately we don't have time to figure it out." Gladolous said grimly. "First Lieutenant Azera, Lord Forcytha, your priority is keeping the queen safe. Find somewhere on the planet that is safe and stay there when the first wave hits. Keep her alive at all costs. We'll thin out their ranks and pick you up when the enemy has been eliminated. Understood?"
Forcytha and Azera looked at each other. Not sure what to say.
"Yes sir." Azera said finally.
"Good. Keep this frequency open and I'll update you when the time comes. Gladolous out." The call was terminated as the static resumed.
"So that's it? Their just gonna let leave us to die?" Bulma said outraged.
"I've seen Goku save us from all kinds of problems. But..." Yamcha stuttered trying to stomach this new information. "I'm not sure even he can take on a whole fleet by himself."
"Don't give up so easily Yamcha." Azera spoke up. "It doesn't suit a warrior like you."
"I thought I told you I'm not-"
"You said you were one of the planet's strongest fighters right?" Forcytha asked.
"Well, yeah sort of but-"
"Then its time to take up your mantle once again." Azera said sternly. Yamcha said nothing in response but he clenched his teeth when indecision hit.
"What are you guys going to do?" Bulma asked. When the two aliens said nothing, she raised her voice. "Are you just going to abandon us? This is your damn war and it's your responsibility-"
"We are soldiers, we follow our orders to the letter." Azera said crossing his arms. Bulma was about to argue the point when Azera spoke again. "I suppose it is lucky for you that any order we get from the Queen takes precedent over the general." The knight said with a smirk.
"Yeah, there is no way she is just going to run and hide." Forcytha moaned. "Its annoying habit really, but hey I can't say 'no' to a pretty face." Bulma smiled and stroked her daughter's hair. The situation looked bleak, but Azera was confident that his Queen would have a plan of attack. Azera could tell as he had kept an eye on her the past 24 hours. Queen Clemartis cared too much about this world to let it be destroyed. And this time he would protect what was precious to her, no matter the cost.