Once More, Unto The Breach
Age 749, October 15, Early Evening, Base of Korin's Tower
"How is he?" I asked the moment Chichi exited the large tent.
"It's worse than I thought. He's exhausted and hurt badly." Chichi said, a pained expression on her face. "It's a wonder he could still stand, let alone fight."
My gaze darkened. "His son…"
"Yes." Chichi said, her sad expression washed away by the righteous anger sweeping through her. "We need to find the boy— Upa— and bring him back."
I nodded and stared up the tower for a moment before shaking my head. I had wanted to get up there as fast as I could, but I could not ignore what was happening.
"You know." Chichi said, getting my attention. "You could climb the tower, and I can check this out."
"No." I shook my head and spoke quickly. "You'd probably have a good time of it with the soldiers, but physical strength is not all they can do."
"My strengthening techniques—" Chichi said before stopping herself with a frown.
"They would work to an extent." I said, nodding. "Maybe you'll even annihilate a good chunk of the army, but the Red Ribbon has hidden weapons. Poison gas, soldiers with psychic abilities, and who knows what else. I almost died when fighting Blue. I'd beaten him in the Central Games and the man had become strong enough to almost kill me."
"I take your meaning." Chichi said, throwing a punch at nothing but air to relieve her stress. "I just think of the little boy and…"
I placed my hand on her shoulder. "I know how you feel."
Her black eyes turned to meet my blue before she nodded. "I'm glad you do."
A moment later, she shrugged my hand off and checked for the position of the Sun before turning to the Southwest. "Bora said that their encampment is that way. He managed to reach the outskirts of their defenses before he was flattened by the Red Ribbon soldiers."
"Any idea how many?" I said as we began to walk together.
"Hundreds, he said." Chichi clenched her fists for a moment before she forced herself to relax. "But he didn't get to see the whole facility, so there could be more."
"Hundreds, each one with an enhanced battle power." I murmured, checking over my stat screen.
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 37 (36,500/38,000 XP)
STR: 145 ; 
VIT: 140 ; 
AGI: 192 ; 
INT: 136 ; 
WIS: 132 ; 
Battle Power: 159, 
Twenty points. I thought. I don't know what I'm getting into. The world government has been saying that the Red Ribbon has been on the defensive ever since my battle with Blue, but there's no real way to confirm that.
If anything, the opposite was probably true. The so-called 'defensive' that the Red Ribbon Army was supposed to be on could just be a farce; a trap to lull the government into a false sense of security.
They would thus reduce their operational funding by sending fewer troops out into the fighting. It was only good sense to not waste the lives of the people fighting for you, after all.
That good sense, however, would end up costing them.
Our meeting with Bora told me another story; while it was entirely possible that the Red Ribbon was being pushed back, I reckoned that they probably were just biding their time as they continued with their tests to enhance their soldiers further in an attempt to gain the advantage, once again.
In that case, it would be stupid of me to not allocate the points.
And so, I did.
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 37 (36,500/38,000 XP)
STR: 145 ; 
VIT: 152 ; 
AGI: 200 ; 
INT: 136 ; 
WIS: 132 ; 
Battle Power: 166, 
I pulled up the new skill additions as soon as the game system made its pings.
Due to your AGI stat reaching 200, [Quickness II] has evolved into [Quickness III]!
Quickness III : 20% Increase to overall movement speed.
"Ten?" Chichi's hand waved in front of my face. "You there?"
I blinked and willed the screens away. "Sorry."
"Adding your stats up, I take it." Chichi said, reaching over to poke my arm. "You know your muscles do a bit of a ripple when you do that?"
"They do?" I said, surprised.
"Yeah." Chichi nodded. "It looks pretty strange."
I stared at my hands, opening and closing them as if I was seeing them for the first time. "I guess I pay so much attention to the numbers that I end up forgetting what it feels like, aside from my Ki increasing…"
Chichi grasped my arm and gave it a firm squeeze. "Hmm… You do feel a little stronger, I think."
I gave her a dry look, to which she smiled.
A moment later, her smile fell away. "Ready?"
I nodded, and we were off. We kept to a brisk, but careful pace, leaping above the treeline every now and again to check that we were still on the same heading, as well as look out for any nearby Red Ribbon facilities.
We spent another thirty minutes doing this before we located the first tower outpost— and the base behind it.
"There they are." Chichi said as she landed on the forest floor with a light thud. I landed beside her, taking a few steps to stand behind one of the trees— not that it was necessary, with the forest blocking their view of us.
Still, it didn't hurt to be careful.
"Yes." I said. "They're right where he said they'd be."
A moment of silence passed before Chichi voiced the question which was on both of our minds.
"What's the plan?" Chichi said.
"For now, we're just getting the lay of the land." I said. "To their knowledge, they either killed Bora or sent him packing, so they won't be expecting us."
"If they're not expecting us, why not just go in and save the boy?" Chichi said, moving to stand in front of me.
"They're soldiers." I said. "Proper procedure is drilled into them every single day, and these ones have probably seen real action when the world government decided to pool everyone's resources to finish the Red Ribbon off."
Chichi nodded. "Right. It won't matter if they're not expecting anyone, they're trained to deal with a crisis as soon as it happens."
"Exactly." I said in confirmation, but extended her an olive branch. "Don't get me wrong, a head-on attack will probably let us deal with a good chunk of them in one fell swoop, but it won't help us find the kid."
"...You're right." Chichi said.
"Let's check it out." I said, pointing up to the treeline. "We'll just peek for a bit."
I pulled a pair of binoculars out of the [Inventory] when Chichi spoke again.
"Wait." She said just as I was about to leap to the top.
I stopped and turned to the young woman. "What's up?"
"Do you think there could be more than one child in there?" Chichi said, worrying her lip. "They wouldn't just kidnap one boy for tests…"
I said nothing for a moment before nodding. "There probably are more people, you're right."
Chichi frowned at my calm tone and opened her mouth to say something.
"Getting angry won't help us, here." I said. "As much as I hate restraining myself, it's necessary."
If it's so necessary, why don't you activate the literal emotion-blocking skill you have? Part of me said.
Because it will, without a doubt, impair my judgment. I thought back. [Gamer's Mind] will only be used when my mind is in danger of being attacked, and not as a tool to suppress emotions necessary to my function as a human being.
The voice did not answer.
"No, no." Chichi said, frowning deeper as she rubbed her own arms self-consciously. "I understand, it's just that…"
"It sucks." I said, getting an exhale out of the princess. "It's awful, and these people will go to hell for what they've done. No mistake about that."
"Yeah." Chichi said, drawing herself up. "We owe it to Upa and any other kids to save them, and I can't do that if I'm too busy worrying every second."
I only smiled in response. Nothing else needed to be said. Chichi took a breath before turning to me again. "Ready."
A few moments later, we were hanging near the top of the treeline, watching the tower ahead. I handed the binoculars to Chichi as I spoke. "More Capsule Corp tech; do you see the entrance just beside it?"
"Bulma's family's company?" Chichi gave me a strange look as she received the binoculars. She took them in hand and looked in the direction I was pointing. "How can this be? Are they… allied with the Red Ribbon?"
"I don't think so." I said, shrugging. "I doubt they would have even thought of touching a hair on Bulma's head if the two entities were allied together. No, they probably attacked Capsule Corps' supply lines or warehouses and stole the technology, my guess is."
"I see the entrance." Chichi's eyes widened as she saw the number of guards. "Fifteen? No, twenty."
"Just for one entrance." I said and reached my power outwards to connect with each of theirs for a few seconds. "My sensing ability isn't very good yet, but their powers mostly are a little lower than Bora's strength, I think. Maybe a little lower than that. There's one as strong as you are, though."
"Really?" Chichi said. "One of the front guards?"
"Yes." I said, closing my eyes. "It's mind-boggling. They've gotten even stronger than when I had to deal with them. It's barely been a month."
It really was no wonder that Bora had lost so badly. With his comparatively low battle power and their sheer numbers, it had been a done deal.
But something was nagging at my brain. How were they making such ridiculous advancements, and why weren't they using this to its fullest extent?
Something about this whole situation was wrong.
"What's the plan?" Chichi said, bringing me back to the real world. "We sneak in?"
"I don't know." I said after a moment. "It's the safer option and lets us avoid a lot of the early fighting, but if we get caught, then we're surrounded on all sides by an army of enhanced fighters."
Chichi stared into the binoculars again, checking the grounds for a while before pulling them away. "Bora might have been right. There are at least seventy people that I can see. A hundred isn't too great an estimate; there could even be more of them."
I nodded, a semblance of a plan forming in my head. "Okay, I think I've got an idea; hand those over first?"
Chichi nodded and gave me the binoculars. "What do you have in mind?"
I checked the facility again and noted the large entrance to the west side, and the other, smaller three to the north, east and south.
I nodded and spoke, still studying the terrain a bit. "The south side has a lot of trees near the entrance. They wiped the hell out of the west side— probably making sure their supply route is clear and wide enough for effective transport. That's probably why they've got such a big gate. Each of the small entrances has fifteen to twenty soldiers, but the southern one seems like the one that can be the most easily reached."
"Yes." Chichi said, absorbing my words for a moment before her eyes widened in realization. "We'll sneak in from the south?"
"You will." I corrected her.
"...And you?" Chichi demanded. "What are you going to do?"
I lowered the binoculars and gave her a serious look. "I'll go in from the west and attack them head on."
The young woman's face twisted.
"No." Chichi denied with a glare. "You can't do that."
"It's the only way." I shook my head, undeterred. "If we both try to sneak in, then sooner or later we'll be surrounded and attacked from all sides. If I go in from the west, and you go in from the south, they'll be too busy and distracted by me to even notice your entrance."
She pursed her lips with disapproval.
"I don't like it." Chichi said and raised her hand before I could argue my point again. "It's still probably the best plan we can come up with, but I don't like it— at all."
She snatched the binoculars from my hand and gave the southern entrance another look. "Yeah. I see what you mean. But there's a bit of a problem."
Chichi, still looking through her binoculars, pulled at the fabric of her cheongsam. "I'll stand out like a sore thumb in these clothes. I could go and hit the northern entrance instead; there's a barracks there, probably with something that'll fit me."
"Ah, well." I got her attention by poking her shoulder before pulling a few Red Ribbon clothes from my [Inventory]. "I snatched a few of them while I was on my way to meet up with you guys when Goku turned into a giant monkey. One of them's for girls, I think."
Chichi stared at the clothes and stared. "They're so ugly…"
"No argument there."
Chichi snorted and dropped off to the forest floor once again. I followed her and held the clothes out for her again.
"I hope this works…"
"Me too, Chichi." I said and turned away. "Me too."
Chichi tightened the belt on her baggy, beige camo pants and smiled before striking a salute at me, bringing my attention to the tight tank top she had on.
Cute. I took a breath, raised my eyes to hers and held the army cap forward. Chichi stared at it for a moment, untied her hair and put the hat on, letting her hair flow down to her back.
"How do I look?" Chichi said, checking her new outfit over.
She didn't wait for an answer, tapping her combat boots against the forest floor with a frown. "It'll be a little strange to run and walk in these, but they're very sturdy."
"They're waterproof, too, I think." I took in her new appearance with a blush and a smile. "You look great, by the way."
Chichi met my gaze and sent me a wink. "These clothes are growing on me. Maybe I'll get something like it after all of this."
I looked away.
"And a matching one for you, too." She poked me in the chest before her expression sobered up. "You ready?"
I turned my gaze back to hers. "Yeah. And Chichi… I…"
Her eyes widened. "Ten?"
I shook my head, losing my nerve. "No, no. It's nothing. Just… be safe, okay? Who knows what you'll find down there."
She smiled, though I could tell that she was a little disappointed. I stifled the urge to wince and took a breath. "I'm going to go now."
Before I muck this up even more.
I turned away, only to be stopped by Chichi.
"Wha—" was as far as I got before I felt Chichi's lips press onto my own. We stayed that way for a few moments before she pulled away.
"Whatever you were going to say to me, Ten." Chichi said, her voice thick with emotion. "I feel it, too. We can talk about it after, okay?"
I opened my mouth and closed it before nodding. I didn't trust myself to speak.
"Now go." She gave me a playful shove away. "I'll be ready to do my part. Just wait a bit when you get to your side so I can get to the south, okay?"
"All—" I cleared my throat. "All right."
"Good luck, Ten."
I turned and ran further into the forest, activating [Sneak] and doing my best to banish the feeling of Chichi's lips on mine. Focus. Bora's kid won't save himself.
I nodded to myself and continued to circle the military base for the next few minutes until I reached the break in the trees into open ground. I stopped and sat at the base of a rather large tree to wait.
I've only been running for five minutes, so Chichi should be reaching the south side in another ten to fifteen, probably. I thought, running the calculations in my mind for a few times before nodding to myself.
"Time to wait…"
And so I waited. Minutes passed, and I existed in the calm of the woods, listening to the woodland creatures frolic in this old forest while keeping an ear out for the faint sound of trucks in the distance.
I took a breath, thinking of what Chichi had said to me.
"'I feel it, too'." I quoted the young woman's words, smiling a little as I took in the implications. "After this…"
After this, I'm going to tell her for real. I thought and got to my feet. I dusted my clothes off before narrowing my gaze in the direction of the base.
I moved out of the forest into the open field, grimacing at the destruction the Red Ribbon had wrought on the landscape. All of this was for them to satisfy their incessant need for power over others.
Destroying nature, murder, kidnapping children for the purpose of experiments, and who knows what else. I thought, letting myself get filled with righteous anger as I approached the base's walls.
To anyone else, such a place would have been imposing. With towering, steel walls, watch-posts and hardened men and women patrolling the perimeter, I would be hard-pressed to find any regular person willing to take them on.
But I was no regular person. I'd fought their ilk and won. I'd reversed the damage they had wrought, and I was about to stop them from doing any more.
I raised my arm up high and channeled Ki to the palm of my hand.
A large ball of Ki appeared above me, as large as a tank and more powerful, besides.
"This one's for you, Master Palm." I said and swung my arm down, launching the [Ki Ball] towards the massive gate before me. "Ha!"
The ball slammed against the gates, tearing them apart, as well as the attached walls as it exploded in a brilliant shower of energy and light.
You have gained a—
I ignored the notifications with a mental tug at the menu. I dashed straight towards the alarmed cries of the startled soldiers, weathering my attack's shockwave with ease.
"What the fuck is going on—"
I leapt over the small group of men and landed at their center.
"What the…" Was all one of them said before I drove my fist into his face, sending him flying away. The one beside him leveled her weapon at me, but I had already moved to stand by her side.
I took hold of the hand holding the rifle and forced it towards a soldier opposite of us before closing my hand over her finger, forcing it against the trigger and lighting her comrades up.
She screamed in pain and gave a vain struggle against my heightened strength, but her comrades were long dead. I let go and sent a kick into her midsection, making her double over. She dropped to her knees and began to vomit blood, but I had already turned to the last soldier in the group.
"Contact!" The closest soldier to me cried in fear and fell to his feet as he scrambled for his radio. He pressed the button and began to shout into the receiver. "Contact! It's the Anomaly! Shit! I repeat, it's the Anoma—"
I leapt towards the fool, driving my foot down into his skull, crushing it in one move and sending blood and brain matter flying everywhere.
The blood-spattered radio sitting by the now twitching, but very much dead soldier relayed static for a few moments before a voice sounded out. "—Do you copy, Private! Confirm, do you have eyes on the Anomaly?"
I took the radio in hand and pressed a button. "This is Ten, the… Anomaly, was it? No matter. Doesn't matter what you call me, but today you can call me your destroyer. I'm going to kill every last one of you."
"You've got some balls, kid! Men, converge on the west gate! Show this fool who the Red Ribbon Ar—" I crushed the radio in my hands.
I've done my part. I thought as the dust began to settle long enough for me to see the army rushing to my position with their war machines, and the missiles flying my way.
Good luck, Chichi.
Master link to my website, my Discord server, and the place where one patronizes: