Things to note: I am taking and WILL be taking some liberties with the source materials here. Putting my own spin on things, as it were.
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Quite honestly, I was grasping at straws for a title for this thing. This is a working title for now. It may grow some more on me, or maybe someone else has a better idea.
Chapter I: Flipping the Script
He opened his eyes, squirming inside the liquid he floated in. He could hear muted sounds ones around him. All the liquid made it hard to hear anything. It was all he had ever really known. Maybe there was a time before this, but he didn't remember it. All of a sudden, that changed. A new sensation almost made him flail. He could feel something different on his body. He was being touched. Grabbed. Lifted. It was decidedly different from what he was accustomed to and he didn't understand what was going on. He had never known a touch beyond the slimy feeling of the liquid. And then suddenly he was outside. He didn't even know what outside was, but it felt lighter than the fluid. He opened his mouth, liquid dribbling out before a loud wail escaped from his lungs. He coughed and cried, not understanding the new sensations. It felt strange to have something that wasn't liquid entering his body. Air.
And then he stopped for a moment, listening as he was rocked up and down gently. Soothingly, "Shhhh…. Mommy's got you, little Kakarot." He opened his eyes and took her in. Why did it feel so safe and warm in her arms? Why did it feel so much better than being in the liquid? He snorted and sniffled as she cooed at him, wiping his body with a towel, "Hey there little man." She gave him a bright smile, and he squirmed a bit before giving her a toothless one back.
"Quite a set of lungs on him." Another voice said, dryly. "He's grown well." The voice was gruffer. Louder. The speaker was tanned and scarred, with a red bandana around his forehead.
The woman turned, "I'm sure you screamed just as much as him when they first took you out of the incubator." She shot back with a smirk. But it dropped from her face as she turned to stare at her baby. She tried to smile, but it was strained and Kakarot must have sensed that. He whimpered, and she set to rocking him again, "He's too young for this Bardock! He's only a year old! We can't send him away! We can't! I… I…. this is only the second time I've ever held him in my arms." Her face scrunched up as she tried to keep her sadness in.
"You think I want to send him away, Gine?" Bardock let out an explosive sigh, coming closer and embracing his family. Little Kakarot babbled a bit, drawing a smile from his mother, "You know my walking nightmares have been getting worse. I keep seeing our home's destruction ever since I fought that damned Kanassan. I thought… I thought maybe it was just a curse from that bastard. Nothing at all happened for months… But in the last two, almost my entire team has vanished on solo missions. And now Frieza issues a planet-wide recall while his ship floats above our heads? I don't buy it. This whole situation reeks of death."
"Then we should all go!" Gine pleaded, "We can't just send our baby off alone!"
"You know that can't happen." Bardock growled, "We'll be sensed immediately on the Scouters. It's a relief that Raditz is off-planet with Vegeta. Lord knows that brat probably will ignore the recall." He pulled back, "I really hope that I am just blowing hot air… that these dreams really are just one last curse from that bastard Kanassan… If that's the case, it'll be a good dream for once. We can go collect him once this is all over." He backed off, "I'm going to go steal a pod. Be ready."
"I have been since you started having these visions." She shot back, "Clearing the thing's programming will be a c…" The baby slowly drifted off, the conversation becoming unintelligible.
He was awake again, and now dressed in a black suit that was so skintight it appeared molded onto his body. Over it he wore a stretchy body armor on his torso. The man – Bardock – was smirking as the woman came closer, "He makes that look good, doesn't he?"
She gave him a watery grin, "Are…are you sure I can't…"
"I'm sorry, Gine." He embraced them, "I know how much you want one of us to go with him, but even your power level would be noticed. He'll be safer on his own. The planet I chose is out of the way and not incredibly interesting from a resource standpoint. There's nothing valuable there for Frieza to send his men to conquer it. Plus, it is plentiful in terms of food. The natives are all terribly weak as well. Average power level of a mere 5. He'll be safe there."
Gine's lip trembled, before she marched forward and handed her husband his son, "Here, hold him. I have to get this damn thing deprogrammed. We don't need Kakarot listening to all that useless junk."
"I suppose sending him with 'Rocket Baby' programming is rather redundant when we're expecting betrayal by Freeza." He snorted as he gave his finger to his son to play with. The young child grabbed it and started cooing, "Why you ended up in the meat-packing plant, I'll never know. You service these things better than anyone."
"Someone had to keep you meatheads alive." She smirked as she tossed the jab at him, before refocusing.
"And I'm glad it was you, Gine. Look at me, growing sentimental. What have you done to me, woman?" He chuckled, "What recordings and files are you programming in?"
"Everything I could get my hands on, and what I couldn't we recorded ourselves." She replied, "Anything he might need. Everything to make him strong like his father." She stepped back, "Finished."
"And his scouter?" Bardock asked, pacing forward slowly with his son in his arms.
"Practically rebuilt the damn thing. No trackers or communicators. It's in the Ball." She turned, and walked slowly, not looking at him but at her inquisitive baby, "L…Let me hold him some more." Her voice cracked as she took him. "I-I can't do this, Bardock." She started tearing up, holding onto little Kakarot tighter.
"This is for him, Gine." He put a hand on her head, "He has to live on. No matter what…" He took Kakarot back, "Now, before we're discovered, and this is all for nothing." He placed his son inside the Attack Ball and strapped him in. "Goodbye son. Don't stare at the moon too long, okay Kakarot?"
Gine squeezed past him and placed a kiss on her son's head, "Your father's just being a worrywart." She put on a silly face to make her baby giggle, "We'll be rig-ght behind you. We'll come get you, okay?" She drew back to choke down a sob.
Bardock ruffled his son's hair, and Kakarot apparently started to sense their mood because he started to whine and looked like he was about to cry once more. Bardock pressed a button and his son went into stasis. Some wires attached to his head and started feeding info into his brain. As his eyes closed and he succumbed to the sleep-inducing powers of the Attack Ball, the last he heard was his mother's mournful sob.
Son Goku awakened with a gasp, sitting up in his bed. The young boy shook himself momentarily, before rubbing his face and eyes. "That dream again…" He mumbled to himself. He started to chuckle, "Something's going to happen today isn't it, Grandpa Gohan?" He turned his eyes to the shimmering orange ball with four red stars sitting on the countertop on a fluffy pillow. He stood and made his way out of his home. The sun hadn't even started rising yet, and he could see the stars twinkling clearly in the night sky. It was rare for him to dream of his birth parents like that. Sometimes he still wondered if they ever would come for him. If they were out there to this day, preparing to bring him back.
It was probably a fool's hope, he knew. Thirteen years since he had arrived, and not a whisper from them. And if his dreams and their messages on his Ball were any indication… there never would be.
He took a deep breath of the cool morning air, before exhaling with a smile. He walked back into his home and grabbed his Power Pole, before walking back out, "Time for breakfast!" He yelled cheerfully, before exploding into the air and flying from the house.
"Turn back? What do you mean?" The speaker was a beautiful, young teenage girl with long blue hair partially tied into a sideways ponytail. She wore a tight white blouse with what looked like a pair of ski goggles around her neck. Her pants were blue and seemed to be entirely missing one of the legs. She wore calve-high boots, what looked like an armored pad on her left shoulder, blue elbow warmers, and some gloves. She had just finished putting some gas in her car and bought some more supplies for her journey. She had stopped at the diner to get some food in her, when someone had started chatting her up. And far be it for her to stop someone from fluffing up her ego a bit more. Hell, maybe they would buy her breakfast. Several of the local girls had been eyeing her with the green sin of envy in their eyes, and several had smacked their boyfriends for staring. But that had all quickly changed once she told them she was just passing through and heading South.
"Y-you can't go there, sweetheart!" A middle-aged woman said as she poured her a coffee, "That's the way to Mount Paozu. It's way too dangerous to head there! It's untouched by the outside world! Dinosaurs still live there! There's no electricity, no lights, nowhere to purchase Dyno-Caps… Nothing!"
The young girl – named Bulma – pouted, "I'm afraid that my journey means going there, no matter the danger, mam."
"You don't understand!" The jock who had been trying to get into her skirt up until she mentioned her direction shook his head, "I know a couple guys who went there on a dare. They came back blubbering! They swore they saw a giant monster take down a trio of Tyrannosaur single-handedly!"
A worried-looking girl picked up from where he left off, "There's also more deadly beasts and bandits there than practically anywhere else in the world. One of them could just pick up your car for a snack."
An older man spoke gravely, "And that's not even considering it. On nights with a full moon, we used to hear thunderous rackets even as far away as here. And one day, one of the taller mountains we can see from this town simply vanished in a red flash of light. It was like nothing I've ever seen!"
Bulma swallowed heavily, sweating a bit. She breathed out, "It's possible that my goal is beyond Mount Paozu. But if it actually leads there… then I can't let that stop me." She drained the rest of her coffee and grabbed her bagel, "Thanks for all the warnings. I'll be careful." She dodged around someone who tried to stick their arm out to stop her, "There are some things a person has to do. This is one of them. Bye everyone!" She stepped into the light and with a BAMF, her car was out of its Dyno-Cap one more. She hopped in and raced off to her destiny.
"Hyaa!" Goku cried out as punched the giant log he had just rolled a couple of miles to his house. He could have flown with it, sure, but he liked to have some fun every once in a while. And staying on a rolling log like that was good agility training, he supposed. He landed and clapped his hands, watching as the giant log split and fell into a perfect stack of beams. "That should be enough firewood for the day. Now to find some food. What will it be today, Mr. tummy?" A growl was his answer, "Yeah, fish sounds great!" The grass near him rippled in a circular motion as he lifted into the sky, and then he was off. After an apple snack break and a healthy smack to a saber-toothed cat who seemed to want to make him dinner, he dove right off one of the cliffs and into the rapids below, "YAHOOO!" He shouted gleefully before submerging.
He leapt onto a small little island and took his clothes off, setting it to dry. Anyone watching would have been excused for jaw-dropping at the sight of the red, furry monkey tail wiggling behind him. He smirked, "Come on guys, it's a tasty worm for one of you. Why not give it a nibble?" He wiggled his tail out of the water when one of the smaller fishes tried to come for it. He wasn't interested in a tiny snack like that. He saw a very large, dark shadow in the water coming closer, "Now that's more like it!"
The shadow surged towards him and he spun, yanking his precious tail from danger as a gargantuan fish erupted from the water. The fish crashed through him, only for his form to vanish and reappear behind it. "Take this!" He cried, launching a picture-perfect kick at the monster. The sound of breaking bones rang through the air as the fish flew, seemingly launched from a canon. It hit a tree and flopped onto the dirt, instantly dead.
He put his wet clothes back on and flew, landing next to the beast with a happy grin, "You're big… Eaten bigger. You'll last till dinner!" He slung the massive weight over his shoulder as if it were no heavier than a backpack and started the trek back home.
"Oh my god!" Bulma gasped as she got out of her car. She had been driving in the mountains for quite a while now, and it had been utterly picturesque. Other than that one incident where a Tyrannosaur had chased her car for a mile or so before giving up on catching her, she hadn't had a single worry. She was honestly completely confused by all the horror stories she'd heard on the way there. Hell, if she'd brought her ray gun she could have just killed the dinosaur instead of letting it chase her.
Bulma swallowed, "K-kinda see what you were warning me about now." She whispered in the silence. The land down in the valley was devastated. A crumbled mountain lay still in the distance. There wasn't a blade of grass to be seen anywhere before her. Craters pockmarked the landscape, as if it was the victim of daily meteor showers. Trees were uprooted and some even looked chewed on. And worst of all, there was a deep trench seemingly carved into the earth.
She gulped again, "What in the world happened here?" She asked the empty air. It was eerily quiet too. There were no animals around. Anywhere. She kept gazing at the mess before her. It was like a train wreck and she just couldn't bring herself to look away, "And why just here? This doesn't look anything like the rest of the area." She shook her head, "I…don't think I should be here." She got back into her car and hightailed it away, only relaxing when she hit pristine grassland and forests once more.
It was about a half-hour's walk back. He was still pretty far so he was debating just flying the rest of the way, since he couldn't wait to get a fire going and his catch cooking. But all of a sudden, he paused, and his ears quirked, "What's that sound? I've never heard anything like it before."
On the other end of the noise, Bulma was speeding far faster than she would have dared inside the city. Heiress to the largest company on earth and rich beyond her dreams she may be, but that meant nothing in the eyes of the law. She had been pulled over once. Only once. She hadn't stopped crying for three days. Still, it had toughened her up. Showed her that not everyone would just roll over because of her name. It was a good lesson. Here though? In the middle of nowhere with not a soul in sight? Yeah, here she could do as she wished and engage her inner speed-demon. Only suddenly, that wasn't quite true. Bulma's eyes bulged out of her skull when she realized there was a kid holding a goddamn giant fish standing in the middle of the path! And when she realized there was literally no way she could possibly stop now, she screamed.
"Oof!" Goku dropped his fish when he was hit and the both of them smacked into a tree. He got up with a small groan, "What the heck was that?" He rubbed the back of his head, "Try to steal my fish, will you?!" He shot forward and spinning-back-kicked the thing that had attacked him, sending it tumbling with a groan of metal. It rolled over and stilled while on its side. He stopped and actually looked at it, before realizing it… looked… vaguely like his Attack Ball! …Maybe… you kinda had to squint.
Okay, they didn't look anything alike other than the fact that they were both made of metal. Goku rubbed the back of his head, "So you're not a monster?"
"You're the monster!" A blue head of hair popped out from one of the car's windows. Though her head was swimming and her hands were shaking, she still managed to point her gun in his general direction and shot.
Before she was even able to squeeze the trigger a second time, Goku yelled, "Extend!" And his Power Pole swatted the gun right out of her hand. He still took a bullet square in the forehead which made him shuffle back a step, but he didn't do more than rub at the area in irritation.
Bulma stared with her jaw unhinged at the clearly-magical staff he held. It had grown over five times its length as he used it to knock her gun out of her hand. There was nothing scientific about it. And as she nursed her throbbing hand, she came to the understanding that she was probably in way over her head, "I surrender! I'm a human just like you, kid!" She screamed when he glared at her.
Goku stopped and stared. She… did… kinda look like she had the same general figure and softer features that his birth mom did, which made her a girl. From what little he could see on the recordings his parents had left for him, at any rate. He tilted his head to the side, "What's this thing you're in? And why did you attack me?"
Bulma gulped as she pushed herself up and out of the car. "I didn't mean to! I didn't think there would be anyone around here after all the stories and warnings I heard telling me how dangerous this place was. Everyone I ran into just told me to stay away." She told him, feeling safe enough to lower her hands, "I was driving a lot faster than I should have been and couldn't slow down. I'm so sorry about that!" She told him, before leaning down to take a closer look at him. He came up to about her navel at best and had messy, spiky hair. He wore a blueish-purple gi from what she could tell, and of course had that awesome staff thingy on his back.
"Driving? What's that?" His question surprised her, though on retrospect it shouldn't have.
"Have you never seen a car before?" She asked curiously, "It's a vehicle kid. I use it for transportation. You know… to get from place to place!"
Goku tilted his head again, "Why don't you just fly?" He looked legitimately confused.
She huffed in a bit of irritation, "We're hard at work at home trying to make skycars possible and portable, but there are still too many kink-"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Goku interrupted her, and she damn near keeled over and fainted when he gently lifted into the air and started floating in front of her, "Why don't you just fly?" He asked again.
"H-H-H-How are you doing that?!" She screeched in shock. She rushed forward and started waving her hands under and over his body while he eyed her in growing bemusement, "What the? Where are the strings? Is there a camera somewhere? Am I being punked?" She babbled on as she circled around, still looking to find how the hell was he literally floating. She absently noticed the red, furry thing that was coming out of a hole in his pants but put it from her mind it for now since she was so flabbergasted.
"What do you mean? This is really easy. I'm just focusing my Ki around me and using it to float." Goku replied.
"Ki?" She asked helplessly.
Goku blinked, "Wow, you're kinda clueless, aren't you?"
"That's rich coming from the kid who didn't know what a car was!" She barked automatically, the spell finally broken.
He giggled, "You're funny!" He did a little twirl in the air, "Aside for my grandpa Gohan, you're the first human I've ever seen! And grandpa Gohan never had a car, though he did tell me about them."
She stared at him in both a little bit of shock and a bit of pity, "So you and your grandpa have been alone up here your entire lives?"
Goku hesitated, his good cheer visibly vanishing for a moment, "No, grandpa…" He turned his head to the side, a bit of a haunted look coming across his face, "-died… many years ago. I've been alone ever since."
Bulma blinked rapidly, feeling her throat close up a bit in sadness for the boy. Clearly there was some sort of story there, if that look on his face was any indication. She bit her lip gently, "I'm so sorry to hear that. No one should have to be alone like that…"
Goku shook his head, "It's okay. I've… made my peace with it." He put on a smile, "Anyway, if you were driving a car, does that mean you're from a big city? Grandpa told me about those too! He said they have tall houses built like mountains!"
Bulma took the opportunity he provided, "That's right, though my own house is a bit more… futuristic than those ugly boxes."
Goku grinned genuinely now, "Say, do you want to come back to my place for dinner? You can tell me all about it! I could share some stories too!"
Bulma smiled at him, "Sure thing, kid." She suddenly realized she had no idea who he was, "Say, I never got your name! My name is Bulma. It's nice to meet you." She gave him a little grin and a peace sign with a wink.
Goku smacked his forehead, "Oh man, and grandpa always said I should be as polite as possible if I ever met a girl. My name is Goku! Son Goku." He turned and grabbed his fish, "Anyway, hop on and I'll fly us home!"
Bulma blanched at his instructions, "Uhhh, aren't you a little too short to carry a tall girl like me?"
"It'll be fine! I won't drop you. I promise!" Goku replied.
"I don't know…" She mumbled. She was very curious about how it would feel to fly under her own power. On the other hand, she definitely wasn't made of steel like he apparently was. She debated internally for a moment, before ultimately her curiosity won out. It was a bit… difficult to get comfortable of his back since she was so much taller than he was, though he didn't strain in the least. When she was secure, he grabbed the fish by the tail, and they rocketed into the air without so much as a by-your-leave.
Bulma screamed, not expecting the sudden acceleration at all. "Oh my god slow down!"
"Sorry!" Goku laughed, "I was just so excited to meet a new person and I was so hungry I just rushed!"
"Oh please, my heart can't take it…" She moaned, "Why did I agree to this?" She asked rhetorically. This was SO different from Jaco's spaceship that she had fixed when she was five! Goku laughed and let her settle down, simply floating high over the forest below. Once her heart rate calmed, she managed a shaky grin, "Well? What are you waiting for, Goku?" She latched on tight, fully expecting him to blitz forward again. The boy smirked, and then confirmed her suspicion, "OH MY GOOOOOOD!" She yelled, but this time in complete glee.
Bulma's hair was all windswept while Goku's seemed no different than it ever was. She looked like she had stood in a wind tunnel for an hour, and yet she couldn't even find it within herself to grumble, "T-that…. That was… amazing!" She cried out, "Oh man, I wish I could do that myself!"
"Why couldn't you?" He asked her, tilting his head to the side. While she got reacquainted with the ground and got her heart rate (and more importantly, her hair) under control, he had quickly and skillfully prepared his beast for dinner. He had it on a spit and – with a quick blast energy from his hand (which also had Bulma goggling)directed to the kindling – had a fire going.
Bulma blinked in shock, "W-wait a minute? You were being serious when you asked why I didn't just fly? Could I really learn that?"
"Sure, why wouldn't you?" He looked confused at her obvious bewilderment, "I wasn't born knowing how to do it. I had to learn it too."
"Wow, that's amazing! Could you really teach me?!" Bulma had a sparkle in her eye that she couldn't say she had ever gotten about something that wasn't one of her inventions. But learning how to fly? Under her own power?
Sign her right up.
She didn't even realize that she hadn't thought once about her quest since she had run into him. "So, how do I do it?"
Goku turned around and eyed the fish, before turning it a bit and going to sit down next to her. "So, everyone has energy inside of them. Everyone, whether they're like you or me or like that fish." He smiled over to her, "With training, you can learn to bring that Ki out. Like this!" He cupped his hands in front of his body and concentrated. A brilliant, red ball of energy formed between his fingers, its glow illuminating them.
"Wow… it's so pretty!" She breathed, entranced, "And I could really do this myself?"
"Mhm!" Goku nodded, still smiling over at her, before breathing out and letting his energy ball disappate harmlessly, "Learning how to do that is how you can learn to fly. Once you can do this, you can learn to move it around your body and do things like fly!" He got up again and made sure the fish was cooking evenly.
Bulma stared at her hands, before cupping them in front of her. She visualized the ball of energy forming between her hands and tried to push. And push harder. Until eventually, she was just straining and shaking from the effort. And then she farted.
Goku burst out laughing, as she blushed furiously, "Idiot! Stop laughing!" She screamed at him, which only made him laugh harder.
"Jeez, you're funny Bulma! I like you!" Goku got out, though she was still smarting over the gaffe, "You can't force it like that silly. You've never even tried to use Ki before."
"Well you haven't exactly shown me how to do it!" She snapped angrily, her face still an angry red.
"Well, there's two parts to it." Goku told her, "The first is learning how to feel the Ki inside of you and bringing it out. The other half is training! The amount of Ki you have can grow a lot. When I first learned how to fly, I couldn't do it for more than an hour. Now I can do it for the whole day if I needed to."
"Training?" She winced, "You mean like… lifting weights? Pushups?" She grimaced in horror.
"Sure, that could work." Goku nodded, "It's how I did it at first. But constantly using and controlling it also works. You know, like a muscle."
Bulma still had her nose wrinkled, weighing the options in her mind. It wasn't really that she was scared of dirt and sweat like most girly girls. She had been a grease-head fixing engines since she was three, learning at her papa's hip. But actual physical strain was not something she was accustomed to. She had all the tools and toys she ever needed at home, so it wasn't like she ever had to physically try to turn a rusty bolt. That was what the torque wrench was for. But flying! Under her own power! Could she really pass that up?
No… no she could not. She smoothed out her features as she watched Goku continue to work and season the fish, "Teach me!" She said, drawing a smile from the boy.
"Okay!" He beamed at her, "So let's start you off with meditation! Learning how to keep calm and collected is super important. It is much easier to control your Ki like that."
She nodded, "I don't really know where to start." She mentioned bashfully.
"We'll find a method that works for you then!" Goku's cheer didn't diminish in the slightest, "Let's start off with this!" He opened his door and walked inside to get a candle, and all thoughts of flight flew out of her head when she saw it.
She gasped and nearly screamed when her quest crashed back into her psyche, "It's a Dragon Ball!" She hurried forward to grab it, but Goku blurred and appeared in her path.
For the first time since the crash, he had a scowl on his face, "What do you think you're doing? This is the only thing I have to remember Grandpa by!"
She skid to a stop, realizing how that must have looked. She forced herself to calm down, "S-sorry about that. But when I saw the Dragon Ball I freaked out. I've been searching for it for over a month!"
"What's a Dragon Ball?" Goku still was scowling, but he had an inquisitive look in his eyes. He stopped and looked down, "Why is it glowing? It's done that before, but never like this! Is grandpa trying to tell me something?"
"It's reacting." Bulma said as she reached into her bag, "Reacting to mine, that is." She pulled out two nearly identical orbs to show her new friend.
"Whoa!" Goku's eyes widened as he took them in, "I've never seen anything else like this before, and you have two of them?"
"Yep, you see, these balls are part of a set of seven. Look, you can see how each ball has a number of stars on it. That's how you can tell them apart." Bulma smiled and put the two on the table, "Here, put yours next to mine. You'll see something cool!"
Goku hesitantly did as she bid, and placed his ball next to the others, and then gasped when they all started to glow brilliantly, "Wow, it really has never done anything like this before! It's so cool!"
Bulma grinned, "Once you have all seven together, something even cooler happens!" Goku watched her, enraptured, "At first I didn't believe the legends… I always had this Five-Star ball at home. It was a bauble my mother inherited and she gave it to me, since I liked it so much. And it was always just a really pretty jewel. But then my sister Tights found this one, the Two-Star ball. Since I had liked the first one so much, she sent it to me. But when I brought the two together, they started glowing! Like magic! And then I remembered about the legends I had heard and started digging into them more." She grinned at him, "Once all seven are brought together, it'll summon a Dragon! A real, living dragon! And not only that, but it'll grant you any wish that you have!"
"Wow…" He breathed, "You can really wish for whatever you want? Why did grandpa never tell me about any of this?" A slight look of pain came over his features, though it was gone in a blink.
"That's what the legend says." Bulma confirmed, "And like I said, very, very few people know about the Dragon Balls. I thought they were just fun tales when I was a girl. But then these two started glowing when brought together, and no matter how I studied them, nothing made sense except magic! These things have to be the real deal! And if they are, then the dragon has to be as well!" She held out a hand, "What do you say, Goku? Do you want to be my partner as we search for the rest? It'll be a fun adventure! We'll be able to go to so many new places and learn so many new things!"
Goku grinned, "That sounds like a lot of fun!" He looked at her inquisitively, "What are you planning on wishing for anyway?"
Bulma pursed her lips, wondering if she should reveal it or keep it private. 'Oh, what the hell. He's going to be travelling with me and protecting me as well. Not to mention teaching me to fly. I suppose he deserves to know.' She licked her lips a small amount, and told him, "I'm going to wish for the world's most perfect boyfriend!" She declared.
"…" Goku tilted his head, "What's a boyfriend? I'm a boy and we're friends, right?"
"Oh… right." Bulma blushed a little, 'He's basically Tarzan.' She hemmed and hawed for a moment, "Well, it'll be someone who I hope to spend the rest of my life with, eventually. Hopefully." She blushed, "Maybe some babies in the future…"
"You mean like a mate?" Goku asked in confusion, having finally cottoned on with her last statement, "Like my mom and dad?"
'Of course, he'd take it like that. Still, at least he kinda gets it.' She blushed a little more and nodded.
Goku's face went slack and he stared at her in disbelief, "Y-you're serious? You have a wish that can grant you anything and you ask for something you like that? That's dumb. That would be like if I wished for dinner instead of getting it myself." He declared bluntly.
She went red – both in anger and embarrassment – and snarled back, "Hmph! I should have just kept my mouth shut! Shows what you know! I could never find the perfect boyfriend on my own." She slumped, her face going a bit depressed with Goku's face changing in surprise.
"I mean, even if the dragon grants your wish… What if he just doesn't like you back?" Goku asked, and Bulma's face slacked, "Would be a silly waste of a wish, right?" He patted her shoulder when she didn't answer, still looking dumbfounded, "And why couldn't you find one on your own, Bulma? Why do you look so sad?"
She looked at him and bit her lip. He was surprisingly aware for someone she had initially pegged as a total country bumpkin. She smiled sadly, "I'm the heiress to the most important family on the planet." She confessed, even if she wasn't entirely sure why she was telling that to someone she had just met. Her voice gradually got quieter as she went on, until he would have had to strain to hear her if he didn't have really good hearing. "That's why I wanted to wish for a boyfriend. Every single boy I've ever met has just wanted either my family's money or to just use me and throw me away. The girls are all jealous of me and smile when I'm there and then call me names behind my back. I quit going to school eventually and just studied on my own, since I couldn't stand them anymore. I just… I don't have any friends…"
"Sure you do! I'm your friend, aren't I?" Goku grinned at her, drawing a stunned look from the blue-haired Princess.
Her lip quivered, "Y-yeah, I guess you are. Thanks, Goku. Too bad you're so young." She mumbled the last bit. She almost wasn't paying attention to his response, since she was now refocused on what she could wish for after having a rather obvious flaw pointed out. After all, even if he was her perfect boyfriend didn't mean she was his perfect girlfriend. She felt rather stupid for never thinking of that before. 'Maybe I should just wish for an unlimited supply of the world's best strawberries like I first planned. No way that one can get messed up, right?'
"Hmm? I'm fourteen! How old are you?" Goku heard her anyway.
"PFFTFTFTF!" Bulma spit take, "What?! Fourteen?! No way! You look like you're seven!"
He laughed, "It's true! I was born in Age 735."
"T-that's crazy! You're really small for your age!" Bulma still wasn't sure she believed him, but that number had been so automatic – and from a boy who lived on his own in the middle of nowhere too! – that she was hard-pressed to think it could be a prank, 'Hmm, he doesn't look like a dwarf either. His proportions are all normal. Can he really be just a year younger than me?'
"Yeah, it's really funny. I can't wait to actually grow bigger!" Goku laughed cheerfully. His face then abruptly changed from amused to terrified, and he looked like he was about to start panicking, "Oh no! Dinner!" He raced past her and got back to work on the fish. "Oooh, safe. Looks like it isn't ruined!" He yelled gleefully.
Bulma chuckled inside the house, their reasons for going in initially totally forgotten, "Bit of a one-track mind there, Goku." She grabbed her two Dragon Balls and put them in her bag. When she grabbed Goku's Four-Star Ball though, she hesitated. She could have put them right with the other two, but somehow didn't feel comfortable doing so. Not without his permission at least. She picked it up and put it back on the pillow it lay on originally. It would still be there once dinner was finished, and whether she or Goku carried it didn't truly matter, did it? She walked out and closed the doors behind her, joining Goku in preparing their feast.
"WHY? CAN'T? I? GET THIS!?" Bulma almost screeched in sheer frustration. She had decided that – with her wish… kind of up in the air at this point – she could actually use a bit of a break from her Dragon Ball Hunt. She'd been searching non-stop for months now, and even she was starting to get a bit weary at this point. Instead, she had asked Goku if he would mind if she could set up a house. She still chuckled over his blatant confusion and then complete and utter flabbergasted look when she had pulled one of her Dyno-Caps out. He had promptly called her a mistress of witchcraft and that not even he could do anything like that. Her delighted giggles hadn't stopped for a good two to three minutes.
Her merriment however, had not lasted. Not even close. She had been at this for three days, and no matter what different methods of meditation she tried (and failed at), she just could not even begin to call up anything resembling Ki. And that infuriated her. She was a genius! She had fixed a damned alien space ship and built a ray gun before she was even six years old! She had gotten her first PhD when she was just eleven! She had helped her dad with the breakthrough that made Dyno-Caps as good as they became! She had always been able to do anything she put her mind to!
So why could she not even begin to do this? She groaned as she got up and brushed herself off, "This… this isn't working." She sighed sadly, "I… maybe I'm just not cut out for this." Bulma hated giving up. It was something she despised with every fiber of her being. But before she could get more negative on herself, Goku patted her on the arm.
"Hey, don't be like that Bulma. You're brand new to this and never trained a day in your life. It makes sense for you to not get it that quickly." He comforted the blue-haired beauty. "Here! Sit back down." He plopped down in front of her, "Maybe if you get a feel for mine, it'll be easier for you to be able to feel your own!"
She let out another sigh, but did indeed sit back down, cross-legged like him. "How are we going to do that?"
"Give me your hands and close your eyes!" Goku answered cheerfully, drawing a small flush.
"Wh-why do you want me to do that?" Bulma stammered for a moment, reminded for a second that the boy was actually just a year younger than her no matter his appearance.
Goku blinked owlishly at her, "Well, I figure I would hold your hands while I summoned my own Ki. I could maybe even search for yours." She swallowed, before taking a deep breath and doing as he directed, holding her hands out for him to grasp. She looked at his earnest face, before calming herself and closing her eyes. "Relax. You're still too stiff." She heard him giggle, "Let everything else fall away. That was how grandpa taught me."
"I… I don't know how." She found herself responding. It was true too. Everything was hectic with her. Always in motion. She had a restlessness to her the she was finding surprising, now that the need to let it fall away had presented itself. And it wasn't a restlessness of the body either, but of the mind. She always itched to be solving a problem, rewriting equations, or creating something. Her body was merely a medium for her mind.
But all of that fell away once Goku turned his Ki up. All of a sudden, she felt a staggering warmth and an electric pulse all at once, even if she didn't get shocked in the slightest. Goosebumps raised on her skin and every hair on her body perked up. She even felt some light frizz in her hair and a light sheen of sweat starting to cover her. And in the darkness, it was as if she could see Goku without opening her eyes, with power radiating off him in waves.
Once it ended, Bulma staggered. She panted as if she had run a marathon, "W-was that really you, Goku? You have that much power?" She didn't have anything to compare it to obviously, but she felt he could have powered at least a couple city blocks if that was just the tip of the iceberg. She trembled, staring at her own hands, "T-that… that was amazing." Her breathing evened out.
"Thanks, Bulma!" He grinned at her happily. "Do you think it helped?"
"I sure hope so." She smiled back, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes again. She didn't grasp his hands this time, though she was more aware of him now than she had been. She could feel him there, rather than just knowing he hadn't moved. She let it pass by her, and focused inward. But try as she might, she just couldn't bring it out on her own. Every time she thought she had it, it would just slip through her fingers. She opened her eyes with a groan, "This is hopeless. I just can't do it!"
"You did, actually." Goku told her with a small grin.
"What?!" She blurted, shock coming over her features, "But I didn't feel anything!"
Goku nodded, "I did… and I know what the problem is now. You don't have enough Ki. It's like if you were trying to drink from a rain catcher that was nearly dry."
He told her, and her face and mood dropped, "O-oh." She stared at the ground, blinking as some tears started threatening to fall. Anyone would be devastated at hearing such news, when it meant something they desired would forever be out of reach, "I… sorry for wasting your time, Goku." Her throat clenched a bit as her lip trembled.
"Waste my time? You haven't wasted anyone's time, Bulma." He told her, getting up, "All this means is you need to train. I can tell you're tough! You'll get it in no time!"
"What do you mean by training?" She asked, a bit warily, though her mood had immediately improved once she heard that flying wasn't out of reach, "You don't mean being a muscly mess, right?"
Goku laughed at her, "I mean, if that's what you want, sure. But I can just teach you from my grandpa's style. It's great exercise! Plus, it'll be better if you know how to defend yourself just in case I'm not around on our hunt, right?" He shook his head, "Anyway, meditation will help too, once you learn how to do it. Learning how to control your energy is just as important as learning how to use it."
She stood up and stretched the kinks in her legs out, 'I DO really want to learn to fly… never thought of myself as a fighter though.' She sighed, "You're right though. Even if fighting wasn't something I ever pictured for myself, being able to defend myself is important." She started giggling dryly, "Especially since now I know there are people impervious to bullets."
"What does that mean?" He asked, scratching the back of his head.
She chuckled under her breath, "Right, forgot you've been alone all this time. I'm actually surprised at how much you actually know considering you haven't had a formal education. Impervious means you can't be effected by something, so if you're impervious to bullets it means bullets can't hurt you."
"Wow, you're really smart, Bulma!" Goku smiled at his friend.
She giggled, "I mean, yes, I am, but not because of that. That's basic in comparison." She couldn't help but puff up and brag a bit. She smiled down at him, "I could teach you a bit, if you want."
"Sure! It's only fair, since I'm teaching you, right?" He grinned, "Anyway, are we going to be leaving soon?"
"I think we should." Bulma replied, "Those Dragon Balls won't collect themselves. We can leave in the morning."
"Okay!" He pumped a fist, "We're going on an adventure!" He jumped up and clicked his heels cheerfully, drawing another bubbly laugh, "But since we aren't leaving until tomorrow, let's start your training!"
"Sure!" Bulma nodded back, trying to keep her cheer. 'How hard could it be?'
The answer to that question was 'very fucking hard.' Goku had immediately had her doing some light stretching and stuff to warm up. She had gone inside and changed into a set of yoga pants and an older shirt and come back out for about a half hour of light exercising. And she had been pretty content. Nothing overly strenuous, nothing even she couldn't handle. She had only been breathing slightly harder by the end of it and had been feeling good about herself. She could handle this.
And then Goku had declared the warmup over.
She groaned as she drove on. She hadn't even been able to muster up any amusement when Goku had again freaked out about her Dyno-Caps. Not when her whole body hurt. He had started her off by telling her to do as many pushups as she could handle, and – after a meager protest that had been silenced by the word 'flying' and her first push up done – had immediately corrected her form. He had laughed upon seeing her butt stuck in the air and forcibly adjusted her. She could hardly even do ten before falling. Once she had yelled at him that he wasn't doing anything himself, he had shut her right up by doing one-finger hand stand pushups. As in, he was holding his body's entire weight on one finger. By the time she had finished her ten, he had done the equivalent of lapping her five times. And by the time she had finished her twenty crunches, he had done the other hand and his own set of a hundred crunches. And from there it had gone. Squats. More pushups. More crunches. Some jogging.
It was a wonder she was even awake. She had practically died on her bed, after almost drowning in the shower. "Wow Bulma, this thing goes pretty fast!" His ecstatic giggling reached her ears. "This is way faster than the animals around here!"
She managed to quirk her lips tiredly, "With what I've seen you do, I'm surprised you're having fun back there. You're way faster flying, aren't you?"
"Well, sure." Goku told her, "But it's still fun doing new things. I'm pretty sure I can't run this fast yet."
Yet. He used the word yet. That really told her all she needed to know about the kid, didn't it? Despite herself, she giggled a little, before pulling over, "I'll just be a minute, okay Goku? I just need some privacy for a moment."
"Sure thing!" Goku stayed in the seat and started looking at the motorcycle's panel. "Wonder why? That's pretty weird." He mumbled to himself.
Bulma tiredly shuffled off, rolling her eyes. 'Riiight… Sheltered.' She sighed, "I need to pee, so don't follow me." Lord help her if she needed to explain the birds and bees to him. Goku shrugged and continued prodding at the instrumentation as she vanished behind a large boulder. He nearly jumped out of his skin when her terrified shriek invaded his ears, "GOKU HELP!"
He leapt out of the motorcycle and raced to where he saw her last, skidding to a stop as he eyed the massive pterodactyl that was clutching her in its claws, "Wow, you're big!" He said with a grin.
"And you're small." The beast retorted, switching the screaming Bulma to his tail and pulling out a rope, "Your friend and I are going for a ride you see, and you're not tall enough. We have dinner reservations, but only for two."
"Dinner for two sounds perfect!" Goku agreed, before raising his hand.
"Wait, what are you do-" Its speech was interrupted by its lack of head. A bright red blast of Ki had taken it right off.
Bulma slumped in relief as the tail slacked enough for her to slide out. The pterodactyl keeled forward and crashed into the dirt, the wound where its head used to be already cauterized, "Thank you, Goku…"
"No problem Bulma!" He yelled excitedly before lifting the entire beast over his head, "And look! We have dinner now! These things are super tasty!" He started walking back towards the bike without even a huff of exertion, "Anyway, I'll leave you to your bathroom break."
She groaned again, still exhausted from yesterday's training, but now understanding that Goku was right. She slid her panties down and let out a little cry of pain as her legs screamed at her for squatting, "I hate to say it, but Goku has a point about this self-defense thing. If he hadn't been here I would have been eaten." She grumbled morosely. "I'm going to have to take his lessons seriously." She cried a bit again as she stood, "If I don't, flying is going to be the least of my worries."
She was surprised she hadn't noticed before, but damn did Goku stink. Maybe it was because they had been out in the wind with him behind her on the bike, but now that they were inside her Capsule House – after another 'witch bomb' moment from Goku – it was hard not to notice it. "When was the last time you took a bath, Goku?" She held her nose shut with her fingers. Sure, she probably didn't smell too much better given the day's exertions, but he reeked.
"A bath?" He blinked owlishly at her, "You mean like a swim? I swam yesterday."
She stared… and stared… 'God damn it, am I going to have to teach a fourteen-going-on-seven boy how to take a bath?' A vein started to pop on her forehead, "…Ugh, follow me."
Minutes later – after having gotten a full-frontal from the boy who apparently had zero body shyness – she was scrubbing his hair, "Hey, what's this stuff you put in my hair? It smells nice!"
"It's shampoo. You have a lot to learn, Goku." She said with a bit of irritation in her tone. But she knew she had to be patient. He was raised in the wilderness, after all. "I honestly have no idea how your hair hasn't turned into a bird's nest of tangles. Do you at least brush it?"
"What's that?" was his response.
"No, of course you haven't." She started to grumble, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to get hair as nice as yours? Most girls have to have their hair done professionally weekly to get hair like this. I'm a little jealous." She rinsed it off, and saw immediately how silky-smooth it was, "That's ridiculous! How is his hair that nice?" She continued to grouse under her breath. Goku turned and started rubbing his eyes, and her own eyes were drawn to his tail. She had seen it before but had been incredibly distracted by other things and had overlooked it. Only now did she actually notice it. "What in the world is this?" She grabbed at it and gave it a light tug, trying to take it off.
"OW!" Goku yelped, jumping up and nearly slipping on the soapy tub. The tail whipped out of her hand and moved in front of him, "What was that for Bulma? Why did you yank on my tail?!" He asked angrily.
But Bulma didn't pay a lick of attention to his question. Instead, she squealed, "No way! It moves! What the hell is that?! It's REAL? Goku! WHY DO YOU HAVE A TAIL?!"
"Ah…" Goku looked bashful, drawing Bulma from her shock, "Well… I have a secret, Bulma." He picked up the brush she had been intending to use to scrub his back with and eyed it curiously, sniffing it. He shrugged and grabbed it with his tail and used it to scrub his back. "You remember when we met?" He asked shyly.
"Uhhh, yeah, of course." She cringed a bit, remember the exact incident in question.
"'I'm a human just like you, kid.' That's what you said to me." Goku said, and Bulma's eyes got big. She could read between the lines, "That's… not exactly true."
She swallowed heavily, "B-but? But Goku! You look just like a regular boy! Are you saying you're not human?"
He nodded, "Yeah, we don't look too different from humans. We have tails and crazy hair from what I know, but we look pretty much the same other than that. We're called Saiyans. We also grow weird, which is why I look so young. I'll grow really fast soon, and once I get bigger I won't start looking old until I'm like a hundred."
"W-Wow!" She sat down heavily on the tiles, "I-I've never heard of Saiyans before s-so… s-so you're like… like an alien? From outer space?"
"Yeah!" He said, still a bit cautiously, but she seemed to be taking it well. "It took me a while to find it, but I even know where my spaceship is."
"T-that's amazing!" Bulma got up and walked closer, "You really are special, aren't you Goku? W-will you show me your spaceship? Once our adventure is over, I mean."
Goku grinned brightly, jubilant that his friend hadn't freaked out and still accepted him! "Of course! I'll take you there any time!"
She smiled at him and gave him a towel, completely uncaring about his nudity now. How could something like that frighten her or turn her away when she had such an amazing font of new knowledge in her new, tiny friend?
Goku was now dressed in new clothes. His old stuff was so impregnated with the stink that she had to toss everything away. She was very grateful that her mom always packed basketball shorts and tank tops into her clothing Dyno-Caps, and even more thankful that they fit on Goku's smaller but more muscular body. The shorts had needed to be cut down a bit, but Goku didn't seem the type to mind his appearance overly much. "So, what else do you know about your race, Goku? I want to know everything." She hadn't been this excited to learn something new in years.
"I don't know much." Goku admitted to her. "I already told you about our weird ages." Goku relaxed, seeing that she was still interested and friendly, unlike what Grandpa Gohan had feared would happen, "I only know the information my parents left for me on my ship, and most of that was just ways to become stronger. We're a warrior race, which is why I have such an easy time learning about Ki and stuff. Grandpa Gohan was always impressed at how easily I picked up his fighting style too."
"I can imagine!" Bulma giggled, "I'm a little jealous! I wish I had that ease! Flying was one of the greatest things I've ever done!" A twinge of fear than appeared, "Wait, a warrior race? You don't mean like… warlords or anything right? They're not going to come conquer us, right?"
Goku laughed, and Bulma didn't notice how it was a bit less of an amused giggle and more of a darker chuckle, "No, I don't think we have to worry about that."
"Phew!" She wiped her forehead, "You scared me there, Goku."
"Oh!" Goku perked up, "I remember another thing. For some reason, Saiyans love naming stuff after vegetables. I never remembered my real name until after I found my ship – and by then I was so used to Goku that I kept using it in grandpa's memory – but my parents named me Kakarot."
Bulma's cheeks puffed up a bit, "Kakarot? You mean like… carrots?"
"Yeah, and our planet was named Vegeta. So was the king." Goku started to giggle at the look on her face.
"Bwahahaha!" Bulma started to cackle gaily, "Oh, I think I needed that laugh! That was amazing!" She fell back and continued giggling, spread eagle on her bed. Eventually, she sit up again, "So, you're younger longer, you're stronger naturally and get stronger faster. You have faster healing, hell, you even have an easier time learning about Ki! You're a cheat code!" She finished.
"Hey, I don't cheat!eyHhey, " Goku yelled, incensed, "That wouldn't be fair!"
Bulma just burst out laughing again, "I know you wouldn't. Sorry, you obviously wouldn't get a reference like that. My bad."
"Reference?" Goku tilted his head curiously.
Bulma laughed just a bit more, "You wouldn't get it without a lot of explanation, so don't worry about it for now. Maybe once our quest is finished I can show you what I mean."
"Right! Are we on the right track?" Goku asked, inwardly glad that she hadn't asked questions about his parents or why he had been sent away. He wasn't sure quite yet how he would explain if she did, so he hoped it stayed that way. Hopefully she just figured it was just something Saiyans did.
Bulma grabbed the Dragon Radar and clicked the top, "Hmmm…. Yeah, it does look like we're heading in the right direction. We still have a long way to go, though. At least a hundred miles."
"Is that far?" Goku asked, not really familiar with the words.
"On the motorcycle… not really. It would take us about an hour. By foot though? And I mean my feet not your super feet… yeah, it would take days or maybe even weeks." She replied, putting the radar away. She yawned, "Wow, I'm tired. Let's go to sleep, Goku. We have a big day tomorrow, yeah?"
"Okay!" Goku grinned brightly and crawled beside her. She would definitely have freaked if Goku wasn't… well… Goku. But he was, and it wasn't like there was another bed around. She hadn't exactly planned on picking up any guests during her journey. Probably bad foresight, on her part. Still, at least she lucked out in getting a young boy who evidently hadn't even begun to notice girls yet. He hadn't even glanced at her when he barged in on her bath, asking if she wanted him to wash her back. She had freaked out a tiny little bit of course but felt bad later when she finally came out and saw him pouting and feeling hurt. There was literally no chance she was giving The Talk to a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seven-year-old body – especially one she had just met – so she had explained in as simple terms as possible that girl bodies were different from boy bodies. She had also told him that she had not signed up for the task, and she would have someone else explain to him more of the specifics later. In any case, she had quite literally made her bed, and she would sleep in it. With Goku by her side. Separated by a large body pillow.
"Wow, you're a big turtle." Bulma was inwardly praising every deity she could think of for the premature end of her torture session under Goku's hands. Goku had woken them up at – in her opinion – the ass crack of dawn as he had two days ago and had them exercising. While he didn't take a rest day himself, he knew she needed one, so he was only training with her every other day. Even still, her muscles were burning, and she hadn't personally noticed any improvement from the last time. She hoped that would end soon. In any case, the distraction was really, really welcome, "What are you doing all the way around here? Shouldn't you be living in the ocean?"
"Y-yes!" The turtle answered her question, "C-could I please have some saltwater? Maybe some seaweed if you have any?"
"Of course!" She limped back into the house, "I should have done that first thing. Sorry Mr. Turtle." A few minutes later, she repeated her question as the turtle drank and ate his fill. Luckily she did have some dried seaweed in case she ever got a sushi craving, so it was quick work to toss them into a bucket with some more saltwater to get rehydrated.
"Well Miss Bulma, to make a long story very short… I got lost." The turtle said, after thanking her profusely for the food and drink, "What wonderful seaweed. Thank you so very much once again." He chomped down on some more, "I've been lost for nearly a year. I got swept ashore by a huge wave during a storm, and I've been trying to find my way back to the sea ever since." He stared at the ground sadly.
"I'm sorry that happened to you." Goku patted him on the head.
Bulma sighed, taking out her phone and looking at the map, "Yeah, you're still a hundred miles away. Even if we pointed it out to you, you'd probably take twenty years getting there."
"A hundred miles?" Turtle gasped in horror, "Oh no, that really would take me twenty years!"
She frowned, her nose wrinkling. Maybe even a week ago, she would have said 'tough luck.' She was on a quest and she would not be denied. But now? Especially after Goku had rightfully called out her wish? After learning that they really were just one small rock in the vast cosmos? Suddenly the Dragon Balls seemed… quite small actually. She already had three. The other four could wait a bit longer. But before she could open her mouth, Goku jumped in, "We could take him there, right Bulma?"
She smiled at him, "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing." She reached into her bag as she pulled out the Dragon Radar and compared it to her phone's map. Her eyebrows raised in pleased surprise and she grinned, "Hey, we even lucked out. The sea is in the same direction we were heading for anyway!"
"Awesome!" Goku cheered, picking Turtle up without so much as a 'by-your-leave,' making him windmill his arms in surprise before he settled down.
Said aquatic animal looked like he was about to cry, "T-thank you so much. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me!"
"Don't worry about it!" Goku laughed cheerfully, "We weren't going to leave you alone here so far from home! That would be awful!"
"All done!" Bulma had shrunk all of their things down, and had the motorcycle out again, "I'm ready to go when you are, Goku."
"Let's go!" He yelled and took off at a pace that shocked the turtle nearly out of his shell.
"I should be irritated that he can do that." Bulma twitched, before flooring it as well, "Has an extra hundred pounds on his back – at least – and he's still running faster than I can pedal on a bicycle." She caught up quickly on the motorcycle.
"It's so pretty!" Goku gasped as he gazed at the horizon, "I've never seen the ocean before! It's so big and blue and amazing! Your home is so cool, Turtle!"
"Yeah it is!" Bulma cheered, "And hey, since we're here, may as well enjoy it!" She had changed into a red bikini, drawing just a curious look from Goku as a strange warmth welled up inside of him, but no more.
"Thank you so much! I never would have made it if it wasn't for you." Turtle had real tears in his eyes, "Please wait here, you two. I want to repay you for all you've done for me! I'll come back with a gift!"
"…" Bulma looked at Goku, "What kind of gift would a turtle bring back?"
He shrugged in response, "Let's play, Bulma!" He laughed joyfully as he ran into the water, "Wow, the water's great! It's super warm!"
"Yeah it is!" She cheered in response and following him. She smirked a bit evilly, "Hey Goku~!" She called slyly, cupping her hands.
"Yea-pfffttt?" Goku sputtered as a small wave smacked into his face. "Yuck, it's salty!" He blew a raspberry, trying to get it off his tongue, "Why you!" He swiped a hand through the water.
"Holy crap!" Bulma screamed in shock right before a wave taller than her engulfed her, "Damn it! Me and my sly ideas!" She sputtered and shook herself off at the result of her prank once she resurfaced.
Goku laughed at her, "Yeah, take that, Bulma!" He looked around, "Hmm, I wish we could take some of this with us in one of your witch bombs. Swimming is great exercise. You would get stronger really fast!"
"Hmmmm…" Bulma's brain started firing, and she started mumbling under her breath as she floated, "Would be a logistical nightmare getting a swimming pool set up in a Dyno-Cap. Especially one big enough to matter the way Goku is thinking."
Finally, about three hours passed – with Bulma groaning when Goku remembered their cut-short training session and making her continue from where she left off – and they saw a shadow on the horizon, "Hey, is that Turtle?" She asked him.
"Yeah it is! And he's got an old man on his back!" Goku confirmed for her.
"Wow!" She exclaimed, "Your eyesight is amazing! I have 20-20 and I was just guessing that it was Turtle! Are better senses a part of the…" She lowered her voice, despite no one being around, "Saiyan thing?"
"Yeah it is!" Goku confirmed, "I actually forgot to mention that. My nose and ears are more sensitive too."
"You can tell me more later." She grinned at him, "Ahoy there!" She turned and waved at the two, "Welcome ashore! Cool outfit too."
"Sorry I took so long." Turtle immediately apologized, "I had to go get my master."
"Thank you for helping my turtle!" The old man jumped down from the animal's back, "I've been quite worried about him. I'm Roshi, the Turtle Hermit!" He took a few steps forward before turning to Turtle, "Which one of these kids helped you?"
"They both did, master. Miss Bulma gave me my first good meal in weeks, and Goku carried me all the way here for a hundred miles!"
"A hundred miles? On his back?" Roshi looked impressed as he looked at the young boy, "That's an impressive feat, my boy." He looked at Bulma as well, "And thank you for your kind heart, young lady." He scratched his chin, and Bulma had to stop herself from reacting when she saw his necklace. "I'd like to give each of you a gift as a token of my gratitude!" He turned and walked towards the sea, "Come to me!" He stuck his staff out, "Magic Carpet!"
"Wow!" Bulma had a giant grin on her face, "A magic carpet! That's amazing!"
"What's a magic carpet?" Goku asked, a bit cluelessly.
"Basically, it's a carpet that can fly and take you anywhere in the world." She stopped, turned to stare at him, and started giggling, "Not that you'd need one, of course." She mumbled under her breath. Another moment passed. A sweatdrop had formed on the back of Roshi's head, "Apparently they're not real, either."
"Hold on a second!" Turtle exclaimed, "Didn't you take the carpet to the cleaners, master? I thought you spilled something on it and the stain refused to come out."
"Oh, that's right!" Roshi snapped his fingers, not seeing Bulma and Goku's unimpressed glance at one another, "Hmm, what could I give them instead?"
Bulma saw her opportunity, "Hey Mister Roshi, I really like that necklace you're wearing! If it's not sentimental, would you mind letting me have that instead? It's really pretty!"
"Hmm, this old thing?" He glanced at the Dragon Ball, "Sure. Not sure why you'd want a bauble like this though. I found it washed up on my island a long time ago. I have much more interesting things." He passed the ball to Bulma, who shared a grin with Goku, making him raise an eyebrow, "Hmm… something tells me I may have just made a poor decision." He said dryly.
Bulma chuckled as she tied it to her neck, "Sorry Mister Roshi, but you're right about that. On its own, it's useless. But it's one of a set of seven. I've been collecting them, and I guess we just got really lucky." She grinned at him cheekily.
"Hmph!" Roshi snorted, "Okay then, keep your secrets. I'm glad I was able to find something for you, after all." He then mumbled under his breath, "And besides, you're giving me a gift just standing there in that bikini." His face was slightly red as he let out a perverted giggle.
Bulma took a step back, since he hadn't been quiet enough, "I'm fifteen, you creep." She covered herself up as best she could with her hands.
"Grk!" Roshi choked, "I-I-I said nothing, young Bulma."
"Right." She drawled, "I must have misheard you." She hadn't.
Roshi coughed to hide his embarrassment, 'Of course she's jailbait.' He thought sadly, "Right, but that leaves our young friend here without a gift, since the carpet is at the cleaners." He thought for a minute, "I guess I could give him the Nimbus… but am I really ready to part with it?" He stopped to think, before shrugging, "I suppose if you can ride it, it's yours, kid. Come to me, Flying Nimbus!"
There was another long pause, "I don't suppose you also took this one to the cleaners?" Bulma asked, her tone as dry as the desert.
"No, it's just taking its sweet ass time." Roshi grumbled. Bulma was tempted to make a joke of his wording – after his comment maybe he deserved to sweat a little – but she didn't get the chance, "There it is!"
"Is that a… is that a cloud?" Bulma asked incredulously.
"Correct. This is the Flying Nimbus." Roshi introduced it to them, "If you are pure of heart, it will allow you to sit on it and it'll take you anywhere in the world. If it accepts you and you can sit on it, it's yours, Goku." He bent his knees, "Here, allow me to demonstrate!" he leapt onto the cloud… and promptly fell through it. "YEOWWW!" The old man groaned as his staff clattered on the sand. He rolled over, clutching his back.
Bulma very carefully controlled her urge to snort, 'Pure heart huh? After that comment I can't say I'm surprised.'
"Are you okay, master?" Turtle helped the old man up, "You must have done something naughty!" He had not in fact heard his comment or understood Bulma's retort.
"Hush you!" Roshi groaned as he stood, "Anyway, give it a try, Goku!"
"Hmm, thanks Roshi. But I can already fly!" Goku told him, and he started to levitate.
Roshi's jaw dropped and he stammered, "My word, how are you doing that?! That's a Crane School technique!"
"I don't know what that is." Goku snickered, "I learned how to do this years ago. So, while the cloud is awesome, I don't actually need one and would feel bad about taking it from you."
"You may be able to fly, but I can't yet!" Bulma said gleefully and jumped onto the cloud. Everyone winced when she fell through it and crashed onto her bum, "Ow! What the hell! Why can't I ride it?! I'm a pure, innocent maiden!" She rubbed her aching tush.
Goku leaned closer to her and whispered, "Bulma, you were planning to use a magic wish for a boyfriend." He said, his tone dry. She had not told him about her other possible wish yet.
She winced as she stood, and not only from the pain. He… he had a point. For the second time, doubt in herself and her desires crept in.
Roshi turned to Goku, "Take it anyway my boy, if you can ride it at least. I've clearly not got a use for it anymore." The old man grumbled under his breath, "Besides, you can also use it to keep important items safe, since its magic will not allow anything you put on it to fall."
"Wow, really? That's awesome!" Goku jumped and landed right on it! He smiled, "Hey, this Nimbus is awesome!"
"Congratulation, Goku!" Bulma smiled at him, "I'm a little jealous now. I have to learn to fly quickly so I can keep up with you!"
"Ehh, you're teaching her how to fly, kid?" Roshi gazed at the young boy in surprise.
"More like teaching me how to access Ki, at the moment." Bulma grumbled, "And helping me build it up, since apparently I don't have enough to really reach it. And Goku is trying to help, but he's a natural at it and hasn't been able to help me as much."
"Hmmm, yes, I can see that. You probably haven't been training for more than a few weeks." Roshi gazed at her with different eyes than normal, "But I can see you have potential in you, if you work at it."
"Oh, you know about Ki, mister Roshi?" Goku asked him cheerfully, his hands behind his head.
Roshi let out a dry chuckle, "Yeah, I guess you could say that. I was quite the martial artist back in my day."
Bulma smiled at him, willing to let bygones be bygones, "Is there any advice you can give me?"
"Hmm, unfortunately with the low amount of power that you have, anything I say will be much like what Goku has already given you; blood from a stone." Roshi told her apologetically, making her smile drop in both sadness and annoyance, "You have the potential. You do. I can see that immediately. But you're playing catch-up right now, since I can see you're a city-girl unlike this kid." He gestured to Goku, "What kinds of meditation have you tried so far?" He asked her curiously.
"Goku's shown me flame meditation so far, but I can't get it." She groused, stomping her feet and kicking up a tiny bit of sand, "My mind is too active. I have a thousand thoughts whirling around all the time. Ideas! Inventions! It's impossible to just… clear my mind!" She was clearly looking frustrated.
"Oho, so you're an inventor, are you?" Roshi grinned toothily.
"Of course!" Bulma snorted, "You know, it's kind of refreshing to know two different people who either don't have a clue who I am or just don't care. My father is Doctor Briefs, the founder and head of Capsule Corp! I've been inventing since I was a little girl!"
Roshi's eyes widened behind his glasses, "Hoo, that's good to hear. Even I've heard of them. Goku! You have her doing exercises, right?" He turned to the shorter of the two.
"Of course. I found out what she's comfortable with and I'm going to keep pushing her to do more every time!" Goku responded, much to her inner dread.
Roshi nodded, "While that's important, you also should start teaching her martial art-"
"Waitwaitwait, I… Goku did mention he was going to start teaching me stuff like that, but I can't risk damaging my hands!" Bulma interrupted, looking a little nervous all of a sudden.
Roshi raised an eyebrow, "id you lose your shap- your legs while I wasn't looking?" He had to forcibly cut the perverted comment before it could finish, "If you're a successful inventor then clearly you have the ability to focus. You would never finish a project if you chased every idea that caught your fancy. So that is what you must do. Your problem with meditation is that you're trying to empty your mind when it is your biggest strength. I want you to find something to focus on instead. Let that one thing be your guide as you search inside yourself. Let your passion guide you inward. If you have a thousand thoughts, focus on only two; your passion and yourself. And when you train physically, keep your mind on a project, or whatever you wish. "
"Wow…" She breathed, "That… that sounds like it could actually work for me. It's so different from what Goku suggested!"
"Sorry Bulma." Goku sounded pretty miffed that he had been giving her bad advice.
Roshi started to laugh, "Girl, I've been training people for more years you two have been alive. Put together. Wisdom comes with experience. Goku is young. You both are." He turned to Goku, "When you train her, focus on her legs, since she's apparently not interested in fists. Perhaps complement that desire with weapons training, like that staff you carry."
"Sure!" Goku beamed at him, "Thanks for the help, mister Roshi!"
He turned to Bulma, "Now, even when you do succeed in touching and directing your Ki, you're not going to have a whole lot of it. That takes patience and years of training, both of the body and of the spirit. So you're not going to be able to do anything like what I think young Goku here is capable of for a long time. Are you following me?"
"Yes." Bulma responded, though she was again a little irked at the confirmation of how far her goal of flight was from being a reality. "Goku's shown me a couple small Ki blasts before."
"Good, so I wasn't mistaken about his level." Roshi nodded once, before ruffling his beard again, "So you're going to have to make your Ki work with you, rather than against you. Goku, you may know about Ki blasts, but do you also know that Ki can be shaped outside the body?"
"Wow, really?" Goku started jumping up and down in excitement.
"Why yes, it can. It is much, much harder than what you're used to, but that's because it is a question of precision rather than power. It requires a lot of focus to maintain. Even I've barely succeeded much on that front." He grinned toothily at Bulma, "But something tells me you'll prove me wrong, young lady."
Bulma smirked at his challenge, "You bet! I'll be doing it before you know it!" She then bowed slightly with a genuine smile, "Thank you very much for the advice."
"It was the least I could do for you, after you helped my poor turtle. Enjoy your journey, kids!" He hopped on the turtle's back and they watched as he vanished into the distance, calling out their own goodbyes.
"Thank the tech giant in the sky for autopilot!" Bulma cheered, before wagging her tongue at Goku playfully, "Because I'm sure not trusting you to drive!"
"Why not?" Goku grumbled, "I could totally drive if you taught me how."
They had switched to a four-wheeler instead of the motorcycle, since Bulma wanted to try Roshi's meditation advice, "Goku, you couldn't even reach the pedals if you wanted to watch the road at the same time. Just nudge me if you see anything unexpected. Now, if we need to stop for whatever reason, all you have to do is hit this button to pause the autopilot and hit it again to restart it. Keep an eye on the radar. Let me know if we're starting to pass it and I can see about switching our destination."
"Yeah, yeah." Goku had heard that at least three times, so he rolled his eyes.
"Don't roll your eyes at me, buster!" Bulma chided him, before taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. 'The Dragon Radar… How can I improve it? Maybe a more high-resolution screen?' And off she went, thinking of one of her latest inventions – although it really was just a prototype – while also trying to feel inside of her for that warm glow Goku had been trying to teach her to find.
Goku smiled when he saw that she wasn't fidgeting nearly as much as she had with his other ideas, 'Guess Mister Roshi really knows his stuff. Even if she doesn't touch it immediately, she's already having an easier time than she was all week.'
He clicked the radar and glanced at it. Their four balls were bunched close together, and they were headed in the direction of a fifth. He giggled under his breath and pressed a button on the tablet for their four-wheeler, and it immediately started rolling along faster than Bulma had wanted it. He clicked off the device and relaxed, forming a Ki ball in his hands. It was something he had never even heard of before, but now that he had, it wasn't something he couldn't wait to practice.
The Ki ball destabilized, turning more into a little flame than a solid-looking ball. He was curious as to what he'd be able to do with it, and an idea popped up as he remembered Roshi's words. Bulma could do with some weapons training, right? He concentrated, and the flame 'solidified' again, before he started to try to elongate it.
Instantly, he realized the truth to Roshi's words. It was hard. Even he started to strain and sweat as he tried to make a Ki staff the size of his Power Pole. And then it exploded, the loud crack startling him badly. Bulma jerked aware too, letting off a little shriek, "What was that?!" She clutched her chest in shock as she breathed hard, "Damn it Goku, what happened?" She turned to him and goggled as she realized he was covered in a bit of soot.
"Sorry Bulma, I was trying a new technique like old man Roshi suggested!" Goku apologized to her, "It was way harder than I expected, and it blew up in my face." He rubbed his face clean as best he could.
"Wow, so even you're having trouble with it? That's a bit intimidating…" She mumbled, "Just try not to shock me like that again. I thought I was doing really well!"
"You were! You did WAY better than any of the other times! You weren't fidgety or stiff at all!" Goku praised her with a big grin.
She beamed, "Yes!" She pumped a fist, "I couldn't really feel my Ki, but that's progress, right?"
"Of course!" He gave her a high-five, something he had liked to do with his grandpa, "You'll be at it in no time!"
She took the Dragon Radar from him, "And I even already started planning some upgrades for this baby." She clicked it, "We're getting close. Let's hurry!"
"Is that a town! That must be it!" Goku pointed at the horizon, smirking inwardly since she didn't seem to notice he had messed with the speed. That was until she flicked him on the head, "Ow!"
"And don't think I didn't notice we were going faster than we should have been, mister!" Bulma giggled at his dirty look, "Let's go get that fifth Dragon Ball!" She cheered, flooring it. They almost did a wheelie before blazing off at super speed.
"Jeez, this is super creepy…" Bulma looked around warily. "This place is a ghost town. I wonder what happened here?"
"It's not a ghost town. There are people here. Plenty of them, actually." He sniffed, "They're hiding, and they smell scared."
Bulma blanched, "What, you can smell emotions? That's a bit too weird, Goku."
He giggled, "No, but fear has a specific smell, and there are a lot of scared people hiding." He walked over to one of the doors, "Come on out guys. I know you're in there!" he knocked on the door, "What's going on in this town? Is there any way we can help?" They waited, and gradually Goku got a little bit more irritated, "I can hear you shuffling in there you know. You're not fooling anybody." His expression got just a bit flatter. He waited a few more seconds.
And then Bulma jumped when he kicked the door nearly off its hinges, "Goku! What the hell?!"
"There's nothing to be afraid of. I know you're here. We're not here to hurt anyo-" His last word was cut off – with Bulma watching in immediate horror – as an axe blade came crashing down on Goku's head. Bulma shrieked and fell back onto her but, only cutting herself off as she watched the blade shatter.
A giant goose egg rose on Goku's skull, as he reached up and clutched his head in pain, "OW!" He yelled, before turning to glare at the shaking man that had hit him, "That. Hurt." His gaze nearly had the man pissing himself as he fell onto his butt and scrambled back.
"I-I-I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Mr. Oolong, but I'd rather die than give up my daughter!" The shaking man's head was fully bald up top, with a mess of hair on the sides of his head. He had one truly epic mustache too.
"What are you talking about! I don't want your daughter!" Goku yelled at him, the volume literally knocking the man over. He kneeled down, clutching his head, "Owowowowow."
Bulma managed to get up, "I think there's been a big mistake sir. Neither of us are named Oolong. I'm Bulma and this is Goku."
"Hey, it really isn't him, dad!" A young girl's voice came from behind the counter.
The man cringed as he got up, bowing deeply on his hands and knees, "I'm so sorry for attacking you!" And all of a sudden, the entire village came alive as others came rushing from their homes.
The young girl hurried and wet a towel with warm water, rushing over to Goku, "I'm really sorry about my dad attacking you. Here! This should help." She put the towel on Goku's head, covering the bump on his noggin.
"I'm very sorry again, young man. I was just trying to protect my daughter…" He looked away in shame.
"Just what has been happening in this village?" Bulma asked him, "Is there anything we can do to help?"
"No, I'm afraid not." The man let out a deep, weary sigh, "We've been under attack by a menace named Oolong. He's a blackness that has descended on our poor village. A monster who treats us like his toys! This awful creature can change into any shape it wants to! We have no idea how!" His fists shook, "Instead of one nightmare… we have to deal with whatever terrible visage he can concoct! No one knows his real identity… all we know is he wants our daughters! It's kidnapped three of our girls already! And yesterday, he said he was going to steal away my precious Pocawatha!"
Goku and Bulma glanced at one another, "Bully. I want to kick his ass." Goku stated.
Bulma laughed to herself as the entire village rippled in shock, "Of course you do. I almost want a crack at this Oolong myself."
"I don't think you understand! He's bigger than his house!" The father of one waved his hands.
Bulma smirked at him, "So? Dinosaurs are WAY bigger than this house, and I've seen Goku take those out without breaking a sweat!"
Another ripple of mutters rang out in the village. The man sighed, "You don't get it! He's taken everything without a single scratch! He's too big a monster! You would get squished." He shook his head, "What brings you to this village anyway? It's not very common for us to get visitors."
Bulma stepped forward, pulling a Dragon Ball out of her bag, "We've been searching for these, and that brought us to your village."
"Wow, that's pretty!" Pocawatha eyed it dreamily.
"Yes it is!" Bulma agreed, smiling at the little girl.
"I'm afraid I've never seen anything like it before." The father told them.
"I have!" A very old lady walked in, "I've had one like that in my family for generations." She pulled it out to show Bulma.
"That's it! The Six-Star ball!" Bulma grinned brightly, "Could you be convinced to part with it, mam?"
"Like I said, it's been a family heirloom for generations." The old lady replied, "I can't just give it away."
Bulma smiled, knowing that they had it in the bag, if only they got the old lady to agree, "Of course. I don't expect it for free you know. I propose a trade then. That ball, for Oolong." She smiled as the villagers erupted in noise, "We'll get rid of him for you, and if we can we'll get your daughters back too."
They all stared at her with open mouths, "I may be old, but I'm not gullible! How in the world are you going to do that?"
Bulma grinned at her, and stuck her hand out, "All you have to do is sit back and watch the show. Do we have an accord?"
A murmur rang out, "Maybe that old legend is true! I thought it was just a folk tale!"
The old lady hesitantly stuck her hand out, "Legend states that a young boy would arrive one day to liberate our people. If… if you can truly save us, this ball is the least we could do for you." She looked even more hesitant, "But, how exactly are you planning on beating Oolong? We have no idea where he comes from, only that he always arrives from behind the village."
Bulma chuckled, "He wants this pretty young lady for himself, doesn't he? All we have to do is wait for him to arrive, and then Goku will beat him."
The father looked aghast, "You want to use my Pocawatha as bait?"
"Not at all." Bulma shook her head, "Though seeing as he wants her so bad, technically she's already bait." She said dryly but hurried to finish when he saw their darkening faces, "Like I said, you all don't have to worry about a thing. Tonight, you'll be able to sleep soundly in your beds. The things I've seen Goku do are amazing! I have absolutely no doubt he'll win!" The sheer confidence she spoke with warmed Goku, and he almost blushed.
The father swallowed, before getting on his knees, "We…we're putting our trust in you here. Please." He begged, "Please help us! Please don't let him win and take any more of our daughters!"
Bulma gave him a dark smirk, "Even if you didn't have the Dragon Ball to trade with us… A guy like this?" She glanced at Goku, before putting a hand on his shoulder, "It would have been our genuine pleasure."
The party started with loud, thudding footfalls. The entire village practically shook as the red devil walked in, wearing a pristine white suit, perfectly coiffed hair, and carrying a bouquet of flowers, "I've come for you, Pocawatha! I've brought you some flowers! Come out, come out, wherever you are!"
"It's him!" One of the villagers hissed in fear, "He's even bigger than usual! He's shaking the entire village and just walked through the welcome sign!" He moaned as they tried to stay on their feet. All except Goku, who also grabbed onto Bulma and made sure she wouldn't fall.
Pocawatha's father started to cry, "Oooh, we should have just run when we had the chance! There's no way to win! He's going to take my beloved daughter away!"
"I told you," Bulma snapped for the first time, revealing just a hint of her temper, "Goku has this!" With the father cowed, she turned to Goku, "Remember to try to make him cough up the girl's location if you can."
Goku shrugged, "I'll just knock him out. We can tie him up and make sure he can't escape, right?"
The villagers in the hut goggled at the casual conversation during their time of terror. Were these two idiots even slightly aware of what was going on?!
Goku stepped out of the hut, "So, you're Oolong, huh?"
"Who's asking?" The demon snarled, "You're not my Pocawatha! Bring her to me!"
"Nah. You're going to bring me to the girls you already kidnapped." Goku shot back without a care in the world.
"HA! You're a riot, pipsqueak!" Oolong even chuckled, "But comedy hour is long over! Get out of my way!" He swiped his huge arm like a club, aiming to knock Goku straight through one of the houses.
Goku reached up and caught the blow. He didn't even budge from his spot, "Man, that's disappointing. You look strong, but you're pretty weak." He looked sad at that, and everyone but Bulma stared in complete and utter stupor.
"W-what?!" The demon screamed out, "What the hell are you, kid?!" He backed away and was engulfed in a burst of pinkish smoke with a BAMF!
Goku raised an eyebrow as he stared at the gigantic bull, "You're big." He chuckled, smirking at the transformed beast, "Fought bigger."
"You little brat!" Oolong snorted angrily. For some reason, he had a completely different accent in his new form, "It's not too late to get out of my way, kid."
Goku started to laugh gaily, "You really think you're going to intimidate me like you did the rest?" He grinned viciously at the monster, "I'm going to need a few more looks at that transformation ability to tell for sure… But while you've sure got the weight of a bull down, I don't think you're any stronger like that than you were as a demon guy!" The bull jerked back, starting to visibly sweat. His grin widened, "Looks like I was right!"
"N-no you're not!" Oolong's voice trembled, and the villagers were even poking their heads out, astonished at what they were watching. He stomped, throwing up a small plume of grit and blowing steam from his nose, "I mean it brat! Get out of my way or I'm going to gore you!"
"Do it then!" Goku stared him down, shit-eating grin on his face. "We don't have all day, after all! There's adventuring to be done."
"A-are you serious!?" Oolong yelped, "I really wil-"
"Man, you're boring." Goku frowned, leaping up into the air and extending his leg for an axe kick.
"You're crazy!" Oolong BAMFed into another form, a small bat which hightailed it out of there.
Goku – and Bulma's too, actually – eyes lit up in glee, "Wow, so you can even fly with the transformation? Awesome!"
"Goku! Capture him! I want to learn that technique!" Bulma came running out, "Go! Go! Go!"
"Me too!" Goku grinned as he blasted off into the air, after the bat.
"HOLY SHIT, YOU CAN FLY TOO?! LEAVE ME ALONE!" Oolong yelped, "Must go faster! Must go faster!" he squealed to himself before another BAMF engulfed him. This time, he turned into a rocket, and started flying at supersonic speeds.
The last thing Goku heard from the village as he put on the speed too – leaving a second sonic boom behind – was a loud cry of, "OH MY GOD! THAT'S AWESOME!" from Bulma before her voice vanished.
"HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU KEEPING UP WITH ME?! I'M A ROCKET!" Oolong squealed in terror, inavertedly revealing a hint to his true form. But then, a final BAMF engulfed him, revealing a short, anthropomorphic pig with long, floppy ears dressed in a green uniform. "Oh no! My time ran out!" And with that, he started to fall out of the sky. "NO! I'm not ready to dieee!"
Goku caught his hand, rolling his eyes, "Typical. That's what you get for being a meanie to weaker people."
"Oh, screw you, kid!" The pig yelled at him, "Why are you so set on ruining a good thing here?! I just wanted my girls!"
"Tell it to the village." Goku didn't really care, "And don't try to run away either. You try to turn into a bug and I really will squash ya."
"Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?" Bulma stood imperiously, arms crossed over her chest.
"An apology would be nice, to start." Goku threw in with a giggle, hands behind his head.
"Fine, I'm sorry." Oolong clearly wasn't, his tone gruff and angry.
"Seriously? All this from this tiny pig?" One of the villagers asked furiously.
"Where are our girls?!" The grandmother asked him, stomping right up to the pig.
Oolong let out a sad sigh, "Back home at my shack."
Fists clenched, "Take us there. Now!"
As they walked, Bulma took the Six-Star Dragon Ball from the grandma, thanking her profusely. "Seriously though? All this mess for some girlfriends?" Bulma complained under her breath. Only Goku heard her, and he started giving her a really dry look, "What?" She muttered, before Goku looked at the glowing ball with his eyes and raised an eyebrow. She reddened immediately and hissed, "Sh-shut up!"
"I didn't say anything!" Goku replied with a smirk, whistling innocently.
"Well, here we are. My little shack." Oolong spoke up unenthusiastically.
It was a massive mansion done in a traditional style, painted red. "This is a shack?" Bulma's lips quivered, "It sure isn't as nice as home, but damn if you see places like this anymore. What a palace!" A few minutes later, Bulma was holding the side of a doorframe, trying hard not to burst out laughing. All three of the kidnapped girls had been found, and all three of them had turned into outright divas! One was in exercise clothes, one was sitting like a queen sipping a drink, and the other had a bottle of cola in front of her. She almost slid to her knees when Oolong revealed that he'd kidnapped the girls so they would take care of the house. None of whom did what he asked. Ever. In the end, he was literally pleading for their families to take them back. When that happened, Bulma couldn't take it anymore. She quickly excused herself and ran back into the hall before falling on her hands and knees and almost dying of laughter.
Finally, they all left – the girls throwing wild fits as their families dragged them out – and Oolong collapsed into his sofa, "Man, what a day. They're finally gone!" He groaned, "Ooooh, but I'm never going to have my precious Pocawatha now!"
"No, you're not." Bulma told him, and he jumped a foot in the air.
"Wait, why are you two still here?" He started turning a little blue in fear.
Bulma grinned evilly at him, "Well Porky, you've got something we need." Her eyes were shining with an almost manic light, "We both want to learn that technique!"
"W-wh-what?!" Oolong yelped, "B-b-but! But I'm not a teacher! You saw me! I can only use it for five minutes!"
"Doesn't matter." Bulma said with an airy wave of her hand, "Even if you suck at it, Goku will be able to figure it out. We just need the basics." She grinned evilly, cracking her knuckles, "So you better transform into a certification real quick, capiche?" Oolong swallowed heavily, now utterly terrified of the two.
"I'M A BIRD!" Bulma chirped in glee as she performed a dive, pulling up at the last second and winging back into the air.
"Whoa! Good job Bulma!" Goku cheered excitedly as he followed her with his eyes, ready to catch her in the event that her time ran out. He raised his arm as Falcon Bulma – clearly not naturally colored with her bright blue scheme – came closer. She landed easily, "You got that so fast!" He congratulated the blue-haired teen. After her troubles with Ki, they had been expecting more of the same from the magic they learned from Oolong. But surprising both of them, Bulma had actually been the first one to do it!
She hopped off his arm and exploded into a poof of electric-blue smoke, "That was exhilarating!" She leaned on him a bit tiredly, "Hoo boy, I'm SO GLAD we decided to stay here for the week. That was the most amazing thing I've ever done!"
"I think I got it too!" He clenched his fists eagerly, "Watch!" BAMF! His cloud of smoke was tinged red, and Bulma let out a little squeak of fear as she eyes the massive fangs on the tiger. He snarled and then roared!
"Jeez, of course you'd pick a big beastie!" She chuckled, patting his flank. Goku let out a yawn and laid down, practically laying in her lap, "Ack! Your weight changes, dummy! You're too heavy for that!" She pushed him off. He snarled again and turned onto his back, before a rumble filled the air. Her brow furrowed, "Can you not talk like that?"
He was interrupted from further teasing (as well as answering question) with another BAMF. He frowned, "Jeez, that was just a minute. I need a lot more practice." And then he stretched, "Could you not understand me?"
"No, I couldn't." She snickered, "Look like I'm finally better than you at something!" She stuck her tongue out playfully. "And me too. We'll get it Goku, don't worry!" She fell back and stared at the darkening sky, "I'm so excited though! I can fly now! This is so amazing! I feel giddy like a little schoolgirl!" She sat back up, "We should totally try to learn more magic! Oolong said that was all he knew, but surely there's more to learn, right?!"
"Yeah!" Goku nodded cheerfully, "I'm sure there are more masters out there! Maybe we could even go to this Shapeshifting School Oolong mentioned."
"Sure, we'll need to if we want to perfect the Transformation magic we learned." She watched as he rolled onto his back. He kicked up and landed on his feet.
He yawned again, "Anyway, we should go to bed. We have training in the morning before we leave."
Bulma felt ice run down her spine, "T-training?" She stammered, "H-hey Goku, I mean, I technically already learned to fly with this new skill-" Goku stared at her, his expression blank. She slumped down, hanging her head with a groan, "Yeah, let's go."
Bulma let out a loud yawn as she clicked her Dragon Radar on, checking her phone as she did so. She paused, taking another look, squinting down at the device, "Huh, looks like we're going to Frypan Mountain." She had taken the time to upgrade the device with some of the plans she'd created during her meditation and had added a range indicator. It was the only one of the mods she'd thought up that she could actually do with her lack of supplies.
"Frypan?" Goku started to drool, "What kind of tasty foods do they make?"
Bulma stretched out her aching muscles, rolling her eyes as she did so, "We just had breakfast. How are you already hungry again? And why do you look as fresh as a daisy?!" Goku – true to his word – had immediately restarted her training regimen. He had eased up on her a bit while they were learning the transformation skill – perhaps judging that they were doing a bit more harm than good with the current regime – but had started them off strong once again, adding to what her previous best had been.
"Saiyan." Goku replied with a grin, earning another eye roll.
"Is that going to be your excuse for everything?" She grumbled a bit, still a little ticked off that his hair was perfect while she had to spend an hour in front of the mirror to get it looking good. Goku started to giggle, realizing she was being grouchy. "Anyway, I'm setting the autopilot again. We're driving through the Diablo Desert to get there, so keep an eye out."
"Gotcha!" Goku watched as she fell into her trance again. Having nothing else to do other than watch the road, Goku started experimenting with his own Ki again. It was still just as hard to shape as it had been on their last auto-piloted ride, but this time he was taking much more care. He watched as the Ki extended like his Power Pole but frowned as he realized it was struggling to do so. It grew and shrank, and not exactly rhythmically either. He tried feeding it more power, but that looked like it made it worse. It even looked like it was destabilizing as it turned into a point before back into a flat, and then started to really waver. Goku let it disappate with a sigh. "Let's try that again." He mumbled, his face starting to glow as the red light of his Ki washed over them.
Two days had passed since they had left the previous village, and only then did Bulma discover something which made her explode in rage. Bulma kept all of her most important Dyno-Caps on her person, rather than in the carrying case. The automatic car had been one such item, as had her mobile capsule home. It was just easier to keep track of them that way, since they were the ones she couldn't stand to lose. As she'd been so exhausted from the previous day's training with Goku, she – much to her chagrin – had fallen asleep in the same clothes she had been wearing. She hadn't even gotten to her bed thankfully, otherwise she was sure her linen would be impregnated with stale sweat and bad odors.
But today was a new day, and that meant a warm, relaxing soak, which she had enjoyed without the prospect of training hanging over her head. Her relaxation came to an abrupt halt the second she had opened up her drawer to choose the day's clothes, "WHAT THE FUCK!?"
She heard Goku jump outside and then ram the door in his hurry to get in, "What's wrong, Bulma?!" Only to find her apparently fine. She was standing there, wearing just a towel and a demonic look of rage on her face. He took a step, blinking as that strange feeling from the beach came over him once again for a second. Shaking his head to clear it, he put the strange thing from his mind. He scratched the back of his head, and sidled up beside her to take a look, "Huh? Why do these clothes look weird?" He rubbed a finger on a black number; one which was made of something he didn't quite know how to describe. All he knew is that it… probably wouldn't cover much up if Bulma did wear it.
In Bulma's shaking fist was a note. "I'm going to kiLL THAT FUCKING LITTLE PIG!"
Goku took the note and started to read,
That's what you get for treating me like your damn servant, little miss sexy. Maybe the outfits will match your attitude. Oh, I also helped myself to your capsules. Thank you kindly for your donation. Starting a new life ain't easy, especially when I have to move the entire gig. No one's afraid of ol Oolong anymore round these parts. Thanks for ruining the good thing I had going here.
Don't bother trying to find me. I'm long gone. Later, suckers!
"I'm going to fucking skin him." Bulma seethed as she shakily grabbed her capsule bag and opened it, letting out an inarticulate sound that didn't seem like something that should come from a human throat when she noticed all but the food Dyno-Caps gone. "I'm going to Turn. Him! Into! FUCKING!" She raised her fist over her head and swung down on the dresser, surprising the hell out of herself when it cracked and bowed inward, "BACON!" She hissed in a little pain, clenching and unclenching her fist.
"So, he stole your clothes and everything but the food witch bombs?" Goku asked, and she took a deep breath to try to calm herself.
"Yes, he did." She hissed through her teeth, "And now I HAVE to wear one of these…" The best description she had for them was… cosplay. If she were generous. Fetish gear was more apt for some of them.
"Hey, cheer up Bulma. At least he didn't steal the Dragon Balls!" Goku exclaimed, pulling one of their balls out of her bag.
"I wish he had taken them!" Bulma growled out, "I would have realized something was wrong!"
"Oh, you're right!" Goku dropped his fist into his palm in front of his chest, "Darn, he lucked out."
She took another deep breath, closing her eyes and counting to ten, "Can you step back outside, Goku? I need to change into…" She sneered at the drawer in distaste, "…one of these."
"Sure. I'll get breakfast ready!" Goku replied cheerfully, walking out with a capsule in hand.
"Coffee please!" She called after him, getting a wave of the tail in response. She groaned, slumping forward, "Why me?" She moaned pitifully, before starting to remove outfits from the drawer. The first one – the one Goku had felt with his finger – was literally a BDSM outfit, complete with mask and whip. "Fucking pig!" The next one was best described as an armored bikini, "Where did he even get all these? And why would he have them? He was kidnapping girls, not women!" The next was a belly dancer outfit in light blue, "…Maybe later…" She blushed a bit, putting that one to the side, before looking at a couple more. "Is this seriously the one that covers the most skin?" She groaned, looking at the Bunny Costume. "I WILL have my revenge." She hissed, before taking it.
"I really feel like I'm getting closer, Goku!" Bulma yelled happily. She could feel some warm tingling now. She just knew she was close to a breakthrough!
"That's great, Bulma!" Goku cheered for her, "Keep going then! Maybe the next one will be it!"
She nodded excitedly, "Let's stop for now. These petrified trees will provide some good shade for later." She pulled the car over near one of the tallest rock-trees and they both hopped out. Bulma set up their capsule house and immediately sat down, "Wish me luck!" She smiled at him, before focusing and beginning her meditation.
Goku also sat down after using one of Bulma's witch bombs, revealing a refrigerator. He pulled out a sandwich his friend had made for him and started going to town. He finished it in one gulp, before moving on to the next. Bulma made really good sandwiches. As he was halfway through it, he stopped as he heard a sound. A rumbling was starting to grow, and he stood to look around in confusion. It sounded kind of like the car, but not quite. He caught the direction and raised an eyebrow as he saw the large dust cloud seemingly heading towards them. He turned and eyed Bulma, but she hadn't twitched a muscle, making him frown a little. But there was nothing for it for now, so he walked forward and waited for contact. "Who are you?"
The man had long, messy black hair. His skin was a bit more tanned than Goku's own skin, and he was much taller. He wore an outfit of oranges and greens, and had a sword strapped to his waist. Beside him was a small, floating cat. "I'm Yamcha, the master of these parts. You're in my desert, boy." He gave Goku an easy-going smirk, "But you don't have to worry, kid. I'll allow you to pass in peace, provided you have something for me. Leave all your Dyno-Caps and money behind, and I won't bother you again."
"Yeah! It's my land too!" The cat's voice was extremely high-pitched and very feminine, "So make it quick, kid!"
Goku started to smirk, "Well that's a problem. I don't own any witch bombs and I don't have any money either." It was true too. Everything was Bulma's.
"Well that's a shame." Yamcha said agreeably, "Now you're lying to me too. Puar here saw your capsule car and saw you set up a capsule house too." He started drawing his sword. Puar herself started, looking at Yamcha. She hadn't told him the kid had done anything, just that someone had.
"Nope, that wasn't me." Goku grinned, getting ready for a fight. His Saiyan blood was starting to sing in his veins, "Everything belongs to my friend, so none of it is mine. Not lying, see?" He got into a stance, arm behind his head and grasping his Power Pole, "But why don't we just skip to the fighting? It'll be more fun!"
"Your FUNERAL!" Yamcha rushed forward, tossing his scabbard into the sky as a distraction. Goku didn't give it a second glance, drawing his own weapon and parrying Yamcha's sword, "What?!" The taller man yelped as he narrowly avoided taking the rod right across his nose. He jumped back as Goku jumped into the air, raising his blade – flat-side out with his fingers on the other side of the flat too – to block the staff. When it hit, Yamcha swore he felt the vibration run across his arms and into his spine, "Grk! You're tough!"
Goku laughed, "Thanks!" He backflipped back and rushed in, almost faster than Yamcha could react. Yamcha and he began a mad dance, with Goku rushing him with the staff and kicks while the Desert Bandit did everything he could do block and dodge.
'H-how is a kid this strong! I'm losing!' Yamcha thought to himself in panic. "Get away!" He yelled, swiping his sword through the sand and throwing up a plume in an attempt to blind Goku.
As he made some space, Goku unleashed a little Ki to blow the sand cloud apart, before leaping into the air, "Extend!" He yelled cheerfully as he swiped downward with the Power Pole. Yamcha gasped as the extended staff crashed into his shoulder before he could react. He dropped his sword, feeling his entire arm go numb. It was probably dislocated at best. At worst, he had a broken collarbone too.
"Yamcha!" Puar screamed, her earlier confidence replaced with terror.
Goku rushed forward the second his foot touched the ground, covering the space between them in a blink of an eye. Yamcha threw up a hurried block with his remaining arm, but Goku's kick was so strong he would have been better off trying to dodge backwards to absorb some of the impact instead. Goku's kick essentially made him punch himself in the eye, and he didn't stop the impact at all. He ate the full kick too, sending him flying back and digging a trench in the sandy desert. He flipped and flopped, eating sand and having some dig into his clothes, before coming to a stop.
He twitched, letting out a pained cough, and shakily trying to get to his feet. His face and other exposed bits of skin were all scratched up, 'What…what power! This is ridiculous! He doesn't even look like he's ten!' He wobbled and spat the sand out, panting as he had to step to adjust his balance, "That…that staff! Only one person could have given it to you!"
Goku let out a breath as he holstered it, "Yeah, it was a gift from grandpa Gohan."
Yamcha could already feel his face start to swell. His eye was closing, and he knew he was going to have a nasty shiner for days, "Y-you've beaten me today, kid, but this isn't the last you've seen of me! Mark my words!"
Goku's eyes lit up and he smiled as he watched Puar transform to be able to fly the jet bike. Yamcha fell into it and they took off. Goku clapped his hands up and down, "Well, that wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. Back to the food!" As he started to much down on the rest of the sandwich from earlier, he thought to himself, 'We should find that cat later and see if she's any better than Oolong.' He was drawn from his thoughts by Bulma and he smiled at her. She looked happy, if a little annoyed, "Hey! How did it go?"
Bulma huffed, thought she was still smiling, "I feel like there's something I'm missing. I'm right there, but I just can't reach it!" She shook her head as she sat, grabbing an apple from their fridge, "Anyway, anything interesting happen while I was meditating?" She asked curiously.
"Mhm!" Goku nodded, surprising her, "Some stupid guy named Yanchi came and tried to steal all our stuff. He was okay, but I still beat him up."
Bulma blinked, "While I was meditating? And I didn't hear a thing?" She laughed nervously, "Good thing you're here. If you say he was okay I'd probably be dead."
"Yeah, we'll work on that." Goku told her, "We going to turn in for the night?"
"Probably should." Bulma replied, knowing tomorrow was another hell day for her, "You're going to run me into the ground like usual, I suppose." She chuckled to herself.
"Nope." Goku snickered, "Tomorrow I'm going to start teaching you some stances and kicks."
Night had fallen and Goku and Bulma had scrambled into the capsule home within the hour. Without a fire to keep them warm, the extreme temperature shift deserts experienced had them freezing before too long after the sun vanished. It had surprised Goku quite a bit since he had never been in the desert before. Bulma explained to him about the lack of water vapor in the air to help trap heat and cold, but while the young boy understood the explanation somewhat, he didn't really care either. It wasn't quite 'in one ear, out the other,' but Bulma had been a bit disappointed that he didn't really care to follow up on the subject. He clearly would never be an intellectual. She would have liked someone to talk to talk shop with.
Still, at least he wasn't a total idiot. She could have been cursed like that, with how Goku had been raised in the wilderness, and then raised himself with no human contact. Bulma found she quite liked having him around. She leaned back as she watched him eat, and started to chew the inside of her lip, "Hey… Goku." She spoke up suddenly.
Goku finished chewing thankfully, before answering, "Yeah, what's up, Bulma?" And then he immediately took another bite of the steak. He loved the meat that Bulma packed in her witch bombs. Most of the meat he could get around his home was tough and gamey. He had to venture quite a bit further out to get into the dinosaur areas, which had the best selections.
"I've been thinking you know." Bulma twirled her hair around her finger, "Once we have all the Dragon Balls… what would you wish for?"
"Huh?" Goku asked, this time with his mouth full. As she wrinkled her nose at his lapsing manners, he swallowed, "I thought you were going to get the wish, Bulma."
"Humor me." She smiled at him, 'I've… the longer this trip has gone – since meeting you at least – the more selfish and stupid my wishes have seemed.'
"Gee, I have no idea. There's nothing I really want that I can't get with my own hands, you know." Goku told her honestly, "Besides, I haven't really been thinking about it. The wish was supposed to be yours, right?"
Her smile was a little glassy and brittle, "You're so nice, Goku. Is there really nothing?"
"No, not rea-" Goku started to say, before he stopped. He closed his mouth, before opening it again. But they just clicked shut again, surprising the blue-haired beauty. He seemed to be thinking of something, and right when she was going to ask what was on his mind, he replied in a quiet tone, "I… I guess I wouldn't mind getting to know my parents… Or at least know if they're still out there somewhere…" He mumbled the last bit, the lone memory he had of them replaying in his head.
Bulma flinched a bit, feeling like an utter bitch. 'A magical wish that can grant you anything and you want strawberries or a boyfriend.' She sagged a bit, even more unsure of herself now than she was before the conversation. 'No wonder the damn cloud wouldn't let you ride it.' She shook her head, "That sounds like a good one, Goku." She said, standing abruptly. "Come on, let's go to bed."
Goku sensed her off mood, but didn't really know how to fix it, "Coming Bulma!" He followed her into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He'd never really done it before he met her, and he loved how tingly the 'toothpaste' made his mouth feel.
"Yamcha, Yamcha!" Puar soared into the cave where her friend was resting.
"Grnnn!" Yamcha groaned as he sat up, still really, really sore over the beating Goku had delivered. Puar had damn-near passed out helping him reset his shoulder. He'd eventually had to just grit his teeth and do it himself, since the cat couldn't bring herself to do what was necessary to help him, "What is it, Puar?" He asked once he was sitting, grabbing a teacup and taking a sip from it.
"I was spying on them like you asked me to, and I heard a really interesting conversation!" Puar squeaked out, "They were talking about how they were collecting the Dragon Balls-"
"The Dragon Balls?" Yamcha exclaimed, before clapping a hand to his face in agony. The entire right side of his face was swollen and covered in an angry purple bruise. His right eye was almost completely swollen shut, courtesy of Goku's kick, "That old legend? I've heard of them, but never thought they were real!" He said much more sedately.
The flying cat nodded rapidly, "Yeah! I saw mention of them in a book at the Shapeshifting Academy! And they were talking about it like they were real! Maybe even like they already had some of the balls! Maybe they have some proof that the legend really is true! They were talking about wishes!"
"An unlimited, magical wish!" Yamcha exclaimed, a goofy look on his face, "Amazing! I must have them!"
"That's right! Once we have them we'll be rich!" Puar exclaimed, flying in a loop.
"No, I'm not interested in wishing for riches." Yamcha shook his head, wincing as his shoulder twinged in pain, "What I seek neither money nor power can buy." He stood, ignoring the pain in his shoulder, "I will never be shy around women again!"
Puar crashed to the floor, "Whh-what?!" She flew back up, "But you could have anything in the world! You could rule the world!"
Yamcha scoffed, "After all this time, I would have thought you would have known me better by now. I have no interest in any of that junk." The cloud of depression hovered over him, "What good would that do me when I would just continue clamming up in front of every woman I meet! I'll never marry like that!"
Puar was silent, before hesitantly saying what he least wanted to hear, "Would this be a bad time to mention the kid's partner is a pretty girl?"
Bulma hummed to herself as she showered. Today's training hadn't been that bad. Sure, her legs were killing her, but she didn't feel as utterly exhausted as she had been for the past few weeks. They had spent quite a bit of time training, but not to the same degree as in past days. They had then moved on to an hour's meditation, before Goku had started her on learning some kicks and acrobatics. For the first time, she actually had a bit of fun with what he had her doing. She actually hadn't even noticed the time go by. She rinsed her hair, still humming her little tune. "And finished!" She beamed towards nothing really, before shutting off the shower. Now that she was nice and squeaky clean, she could actually lay down in the tub for a relaxing soak. She turned to exit the shower…
And looked right at a man with long, black, messy hair; a very puffy, ugly, purple face; and a missing tooth staring right at her naked body with his one eye which wasn't swollen shut practically popping out of his skull. His face was almost turning incandescent from how much it was starting to glow.
Blood started to spurt from his nose. "WHAT THE FUCK?!" Bulma screamed at the top of her lungs, covering her breasts with one arm and raising her leg and turning to try to hid the rest of her, "FUCKING PERVERT!" She screamed as she instinctively thrust her hand out, not noticing the deep turquoise glow engulfing her hand.
The small Ki blast shot out and impacted the frame underneath the window Yamcha had been peeping at her from, completely destroying it in her rage. The both of them were flung backwards by the explosion, with Bulma getting tangled in the shower curtain – why the fuck had they put a window IN VIEW of the tub and showering areas? – and falling to the ground. Yamcha was launched back with a cry of agony, glass shards peppering him and slicing a line into his left cheek. He had blocked with his arms, but a piece had gotten through. He crashed to the dirt, digging a trench in the sand once more.
Goku burst into the bathroom with a cry of, "Bulma!" He saw the hole and Bulma tiredly trying to sit up, before seeing Yamcha shakily trying to get to his feet, "You again, Yamcha?! And you went after Bulma this time?! I won't let you!" He rushed forward, truly angry for the first time in a while.
"W-wolf Fang Fist!" Yamcha hurried to defend himself with his ultimate technique, but Goku wasn't playing this time.
Yamcha was starting to realize Goku had held back during their first bout, Goku was moving with blistering speed. "Stay away from Bulma!" He yelled as he evaded Yamcha's strikes easily, especially with the man hampered by his injuries. Goku delivered a punishing jab into the Yamcha's ribcage, making him gag in agony. An uppercut to his chin had the man's teeth clattering together and launching him into the air. Goku caught his leg and started to spin, with Yamcha howling in pain before Goku let him go. The bandit flew almost half of a soccer pitch's length before crashing into the sand again. He groaned and stilled, unmoving.
Puar – completely panicking – dropped by and hightailed it out with Yamcha. None of that had gone right! None of it! Everything had gone wrong the second Yamcha had seen Bulma naked! They should have just ran, but Yamcha had been completely paralyzed! "Please be okay, Yamcha!"
Back at the house, Goku hurried back in, and skid to a halt as he saw something strange. Bulma had managed to sit up and she was beaming, nearly in tears, "Bulma?" He questioned cluelessly, "Are you okay?"
"I…I did it!" She exclaimed exhaustedly, with Goku starting to return her excitement gleefully when she raised a hand and channeled her Ki consciously for the first time. It was a beautiful turquoise in color and shined ethereally in her hand, "I… did… it…" The glow vanished as she collapsed.
Goku hurried to catch her, preventing her from hitting her head, "You did great, Bulma." She was out like a light, utterly exhausted. He gathered her up and carried her out of the bathroom. It was getting chilly due to the gaping hole in the wall. "Please don't be mad again tomorrow." He mumbled as he stripped her of the shower curtain and got a towel to dry her off, "Huh." He said as he did exactly what had gotten Yamcha a face full of Ki, "I guess girls really are different, like grandma Paozu said. They really are missing!"
True to her word, Bulma had asked the elder in Aru village to explain about girls and boys before they left. He started feeling that funny heat rise up inside of him again as he stared for a moment longer. His heart was beating faster, like he was getting ready for a fight. Grandma Paozu – not knowing his actual age – had just told him about the differences, not really anything else. Thus, the boy was still clueless about the funny feelings he had started to get. Shaking his head, he continued to dry his friend. Once he was done, he put her to bed and settled in himself for the night.
"Oh man, my head…" Bulma groaned when she woke up, "Wh-what happened last night?" The memories flooded her all of a sudden, making her both rage and delight at the events. Just to be sure she hadn't imagined the whole thing, she raised a hand and summoned a tiny ball of Ki. She marveled at the rich color and started smiling gleefully. She let it disperse and took a breath before lifting the covers. She was naked. "Of course, I'm naked." She growled out, letting her hand and the covers flop back down to cover her. "Damn that bandit!"
Normally she might have thought Yamcha cute and handsome. Maybe if things had been different she would have grown very interested in him romantically. But not only had her first interaction with him been him peeping on her in the shower, but his face had also been busted up from his first fight with Goku. So, it was only dark thoughts that were in her mind as she stewed while she lay in bed.
"Morning Bulma!" Goku greeted her as he walked in, carrying a tray for her.
"Thank you Goku." She said appreciatively as she sipped her coffee, "Did you dry me off and carry me to bed?" She asked. She knew the answer, but best to be sure.
"Of course! It would have been bad if you caught a cold!" Goku replied with a nod, starting to munch on his leg of meat.
"Thanks again." She smiled at him, taking another sip. She let out a groan, "Damn, I just remembered. I blew a big hole in the bathroom. We're going to have to fix that today before we can move on. Did you ever drain the tub?"
"Oops!" Goku scratched the back of his head, "Sorry Bulma. I didn't think about that."
She waved him off, "Ehh, not really a problem. Did anything interesting happen while I was out?"
"Hmmm…" Goku scratched his chin, "Well, some weird people came by. I think they were trying to sneak in through the hole you blasted in the back. They ran pretty quickly when they saw me though."
"Wow, that's a bit creepy." Bulma shuddered, "We should probably hightail it out of here."
"Sure. We're ready to leave anyway. Not like there's anything to do in the desert." Goku shrugged, "I can fly us if you want. It'll be faster!"
"That should be fun!" Bulma smiled gleefully, "I just got my Ki so hopefully I won't be too far behind in learning how to fly, but Air Goku is always fun!" She stuck her tongue out playfully, "Now let me get dressed. I'll see you in a bit."
"Oh, it's you." Bulma sneered over at Yamcha when he and Puar skid to a halt. "What the hell do you want?" She idly mused once more that he might have been handsome under the bruises Goku had given him but crossed her arms and put on a stern front.
"We're not here to fight!" Puar squeaked out from Yamcha, who had started to tremble and actually turned around as Bulma watched in bemusement.
"What's up with him?" She asked, trying to keep her lips from quirking upward.
"Wow, he's totally different from the first two times." Goku was scratching his head in bewilderment as well.
Puar let out a sigh, "Yamcha is cripplingly shy around girls. It's a bit embarrassing."
"Puar!" Yamcha yelped, before hunching over and groaning in pain.
"What? It's true!" Puar shot back, before turning to them, "He really did not mean to see you in the shower last night." Puar hesitated, "Really, he was trying to rob you blind, not get an eyeful."
"I'm really sorry!" Yamcha said… bowing in the complete wrong direction. Goku started to snicker and Bulma had to conceal her amusement. Her amusement evaporated at his next words, "I was just going to steal your loot and make a clean-shaven geta -I-I-I mean a clean getaway! A clean getaway!" He almost yelped the last phrase.
"The only clean-shaven pussy you're getting is if you take a razor to that talking furball!" Bulma yelled, clenching her fist furiously.
"Please, I'm so sorry! Slip of the tit- TONGUE! SLIP OF THE TONGUE! Please have this as our apology!" Yamcha threw a capsule over his shoulder, and it landed neatly in Bulma's hand.
"Nice aim." She begrudgingly accepted it. "And thank you." Despite the gift, she couldn't help but feel her hand contained a Trojan Horse.
"Well, we're not really needing whatever that is. Probably." Goku said, and before Puar knew it Goku was in front of her, grinning a bit sharply. Puar jumped and started to tremble, "I saw you transform twice during the last two fights. You know a guy named Oolong?"
Puar immediately stopped trembling and scoffed, crossing her arms, "Know him! That stupid pig was an idiot bully! He got himself kicked out from the Southern Transformation Kindergarten for stealing a teacher's underwear!"
"Why am I not surprised in the slightest!" Bulma fumed, "We met the guy and he stole all my clothes! This is the tamest thing he left me to wear!"
"Good pig." Yamcha mumbled to himself, still not having turned around again. Goku heard him clearly, and that made him a bit mad because of how much Bulma hated it. Still, he let it go for now.
"You're not friends then?" Puar asked, no longer as aggressive.
"Nope. We made him teach us how to transform, but he sucks at it." Goku started to reply, when Puar cut in with a nasty giggle.
"Can that idiot still only transform for five minutes?" She hissed gleefully.
"Yep. He sucks." Goku laughed, and she joined him. "Anyway, can you teach us how to fix it? I can only transform for three minutes and Bulma can only do it for six."
"Hmmm…" Puar floated in the air and bobbed up and down a bit, "Sure! I can always catch up with Yamcha later!" She grinned at the boy. Yamcha – face still hidden – also grinned.
That was exactly the response he wanted to hear, because it would serve to ingratiate her to them. They wouldn't be as suspecting and then he could swoop in and steal the Dragon Balls. He coughed, "Sure thing Puar. I'll just… I'll just go, shall I?" He finished awkwardly, before hopping on the Jet Bike and flying away.
Puar gave her best smile, "Since you already know the skill, this shouldn't take too long! Let's do our best!"
Bulma smiled genuinely, "Yeah!"
Puar was now gone, and predictably Bulma had mastered it almost immediately. After her success with the technique originally, she completely shocked Puar by fixing Oolong's issues with it in under three hours. She had completely blown Puar's expectations out of the water. Goku had taken a bit longer but had also mastered it to the point he could keep it going for at least an hour. Bulma no longer felt any sort of pressure while using the technique, which was how she had known it wasn't complete. She wasn't sure if she could keep it going indefinitely, but since Goku was just lazing about as a tiger she had decided to quit while she was ahead. She knew training was probably going to intensify if anything now that she had her Ki, and she was getting a bit tired from flying.
Bulma had been quite amused to see that – despite her insults to Oolong – Puar did not actually have a perfect transformation. The cat could not replicate faces or hair accurately. She was just awful at them. Her Goku transformation's face had looked like a cartoon's approximation of one.
She watched Puar disappear on the horizon before yawning, "That was fun! Man, Oolong really sucked. His explanations were awwwwwful!" She stretched again, "Now, let's check out this gift." She sneered as she threw the capsule into the shade of the petrified tree, surprisingly revealing a near-top-of-the-line Capsule Car model. Mercedes Benz to be exact. Her sneer deepened, "Who the hell do they think they're fooling?" She fiddled with the car, checking a few things over and almost immediately finding the tracking device the second she looked underneath. "Knew it~!" She sang out, "Some apology."
"What did you find, Bulma?" Goku asked from behind her, tilting his head.
"Those assholes put a tracking device in their gift. They would be able to follow us wherever we went with it!" She had a flash of electricity shoot through her spine, "Maybe they even overheard our conversation about the Dragon Balls! No wonder they're being so damned persistent! Well they're not fooling me!" She declared, "I think we'll leave their gift somewhere nice for them to find! Like the middle of a dinosaur nest!"
Goku started to chuckle, "Bulma's being cool!"
"Damn right!" She preened at his praise.
"Hey Bulma." Goku got her attention, "What did Yamcha mean by clean-shav-"
"Do not finish that sentence!" Bulma blushed bright red. There was no way she was answering that question. Plus, it wasn't even accurate. She got it lasered off with a method she designed herself.
"Alalala I can't hear you!" Bulma BAMFed the Trojan Car back into Capsule form and walked away, holding her ears.
"…Weird." Goku muttered, before following her into the house. Looks like he'd have to keep an eye out for the weirdos that showed up last night, since clearly they were staying for one more.
"Jeez, it's so hot! Why is it getting hotter when we're going north? It should be getting colder!" Bulma moaned. They were in their car now. Goku had picked her up and flown with her as she practiced with her Ki. She had removed the tracker on the car Yamcha had given them, so she was sure the bandit was following them. She'd had Goku go in the wrong direction, dropped off the tracker with a really rude note tearing strips out of their hides, and then they'd blazed it back on track. Once they left the desert, they'd gotten back in their own car. Two days more had passed and Bulma had learned that their air conditioning was malfunctioning once the temperature had started spiking. "Gah! I feel like I'm melting! Stupid AC! Why did I have to be a cheapskate with this damn car? I'm rich!" Granted she had souped it up herself, so it was actually better than the trojan horse car from Yamcha, but still! She could have done that with a better brand!
"Guess there's a reason it's called Frypan Mountain." Goku laughed. The heat didn't bother him too much, but he'd still slipped the top of his Gi off and it was hanging around his waist, kept in place by his sash.
Bulma's reply caught in her throat as the crested the hill, "Holy crap!" Her eyes bulged out of her head, "The entire mountain is on fire! You mean the stories really were true?!"
"What were the stories?" Goku asked curiously as they pulled over and got out of the car, "And let me guess?" He let out a chuckle, "Radar pointing right at it?"
Bulma clicked it on, her face going completely deadpan, "…" She glared at the towering blaze, "…Yes."
"Looks like there's a castle up top!" Goku declared after squinting at it, "Who would put their castle on top of a mountain that's on fire?"
"Well, the legend goes that the castle belongs to the Ox King." Bulma said, quickly remembering the details of the stories she'd heard, "Ten years ago, this place turned into a death trap. The entire mountain went up in flames and it just never went out!" She frowned, "They call the Ox King a demon for his monstrous strength! That castle probably holds his entire treasure!"
"EEEK!" They heard a scream. A massive Tyrannosaur was chasing a young girl in…
Bulma squinted and put a hand over her forehead, "…Why is a girl who looks about as old as Goku wearing max level plate armor from like any fantasy video game ever? And why is she being chased by a dinosaur?" Max level plate armor – of course – being about as visually protective as a bikini.
"Down boy! Don't come any closer!" The girl yelled, before turning, "I said!" She raised her hands to the thing that was on top of her helmet, "STAY AWAY!" It detached and she threw it, making Goku and Bulma gasp when the… bladed boomerang…? sliced the dinosaur's head clean off. It spun back to her and clicked back into place on her helmet. She looked at it and was silent for a moment, "EEK! Gross! Look what I've done! I chopped his head right off!" She pointed her index and middle fingers on each hand and placed them near a jewel on her helmet. A brilliant laser erupted from her helmet and vaporized the beast.
She was crying as she rushed away and started heading in their direction. When she opened her eyes and saw the duo she skid to a halt. Bulma smiled at her, "Wow, you're tough! You took care of that thing like it was nothing!"
She trembled for a moment, "Papa said never to talk to strangers!" She cried out before raising her finger again.
Bulma's eyes bulged but she was far too slow to dodge. She saw her life flash before her eyes, before Goku materialized in front of her and smacked the laser away, much to the girl's shock, "What the heck are you doing? You could have hurt Bulma!" he growled protectively.
"What?" The black-haired girl gasped, "How-"
He vanished, and a quick chop to the back of her neck had the girl out like a light.
Bulma quickly ran to him and wrapped him in a hug, "Thank you so much, Goku. You saved me!"
"Hee, hee!" Goku grinned, feeling nice and fuzzy inside with her hugging him, "Of course, Bulma!"
The blue-haired Princess shook her head, "Let's get out of here! The quicker we find that Dragon Ball the quicker we can get out of this stupid land!"
It got hotter and hotter the closer they got to the mountain, and obviously the more apparent it was that the Dragon Ball really was right where Bulma was hoping it wasn't. "Why can't things be easy for once?"
"Did you expect anything different?" Goku chucked, "Wow, but does that Castle look big!"
Bulma was fanning herself and Goku looked like he was sweating like a pig. She started to hiss, "Man I really just want to get out of here now. Goku, do you think you could just fly there and grab the Dragon Ball?"
"I can try! Give me a minute." Goku declared as he started levitating into the air. He rapidly flew towards the castle, soon becoming nothing more than a speck to Bulma's eyes.
A minute passed, and Bulma started feeling as if she had made a mistake. After the earlier incident with that young girl, she felt really vulnerable without her protector by her side. Even with her newfound ability to use Ki, she did not feel safe. She had completely frozen in the face of her approaching death. That laser beam would have completely destroyed her if it hadn't been for Goku. She squealed in fear when she heard a noise and turned, seeing a giant of a man hefting a massive axe into the air. Bulma probably could have fit inside just one of his massive limbs. He wore a strange helmet with protruding eye-sockets. His nice armor contrasted with his grizzled appearance.
The axe pulverized the wall near her head. She quite nearly wet herself as the man's growling voice thundered, "What are you doing here on my land?" He got closer to her and growled again, "Are you here for my treasure? Is that it?!"
"S-s-s-Sir, no I'm not! I don't need any treasure!" Bulma yelped. It was even true. She was rich. She needed to stall. She needed Goku to come back, because there was no way she was getting out of this otherwise.
"Hey Bulma, I'm back! It was way too hot! I couldn't get in." Goku's voice sent the sharp feeling of relief racing up her spine.
"I was right! You were after my treasure!" the Ox King roared furiously, "And you lied to me, little girl!" He ripped his axe from the wall and swung it at Goku.
"No, I didn't!" Bulma yelled as she scrambled to move.
"Whoa!" Goku dodged it easily. he could tell the man was incredibly strong, but he wasn't fast. that would be Goku's advantage in a fight. "Hey, calm down big guy! We aren't here to fight!"
"No! You thieves are here to steal my treasure! I won't let you!" He grabbed the axe with both hands before swinging it with all his might. The very air churned during the swing, and the ground cratered as Goku jumped back, peppering them with bits of dirt.
"Shoot! Bulma get back!" Goku yelled at her before backpedaling. Bulma did as ordered, rushing to get behind one of the broken-down shells of a former building. She hoped for the sake of the people here that the Ox King hadn't destroyed everything when he had moved in. She settled to watch the fight, cheering her friend on quietly.
Goku was analyzing his opponent further. He figured that Ox King was a fair bit stronger than him, if only in terms of sheer physical might. His bulk slowed him down though, and he could tell the giant man was a bit out of practice with fighting. "What's the matter, big guy?" He grinned, seeing the sweat on the man, "You can't be tired already, right?" He rushed forward, much faster than the Ox King could react, and leapt into the air, kicking the man squarely in the diaphragm.
The behemoth of a man wheezed as the air was knocked out of him and he took a few steps back. He growled furiously, "You're good, kid. You fight… familiarly."
Goku grinned as he took his Power Pole off his back, "Yeah, my grandpa taught me! Did you know him?"
"G-Grandpa?!" The Ox King stopped, all hostility seeming to leech out of him, "T-that weapon! That's the Power Pole! Was your grandpa named Son Gohan?!"
"Oh, you did know him!" Goku stood though he didn't put his Power Pole away, feeling cautious but seeing no more reason to fight. Which was a shame, because their short bout had gotten his blood pumping.
"What a small world!" The Ox King laugh uproariously, "Know him?! Gohan and I studied martial arts together decades ago! Our master was the invincible Master Roshi!"
Bulma's eyes widened as she raced out, "Really? We met Master Roshi just a short while ago! Maybe two weeks ago!"
"YOU DID?!" His voice thundered, but gleefully this time, "Oh, what a blessing!" He did a little jig, making Bulma and Goku sweatdrop. "Little lady, I'm so sorry for attacking you as well! Please, if you know where my old master is, you must tell me! The fire around my castle has grown completely out of control and I'm not skilled enough to put it out! I need my old master's mystical Banshō Fan!"
"I hope it's more like the Nimbus and not the Magic Carpet." She deadpanned in response, drawing a chuckle from the him.
"Bwahaha! So, master still has that bad habit of misplacing his mythical items? Gosh, I sure hope the Fan is safe." Ox King shook himself, "Anyway, will you go get the Fan for me? It's the only way I can save my home!"
"Sure!" Goku said, smirking, "If you give us your Dragon Ball in return?"
"What do you want with a dragon's balls?" The Ox King's face warped in confusion.
Bulma rolled her eyes, but Goku responded before she could, "Dragon Ball, not dragon's balls!" He laughed, taking out his Four-Star ball, "They look like these. It's the entire reason we came here!"
"An old bauble like that is worth nothing compared to saving the castle! The only reason I even remembered I had it is that it looks a bit unique." The man laughed, "Of course you can have it!"
"YES!" The two youngsters cheered, high-fiving one another.
Goku cheered as he floated into the air, "Would you mind protecting Bulma while I'm gone? It'll be a lot faster if I go alone."
"You're flying!" The behemoth gaped, "That's a Crane School technique! How are you doing that?!"
"Master Roshi said that too!" Goku scratched his head, "It's nothing special. I've known how to do it for years. I'm teaching Bulma too."
"Wow, you sure are something special, kid! Just what I would expect from Gohan's grandson!" Ox King laugh uproariously, before calming and shaking himself again, "Before you go, I sent my daughter out to try to find my old master. If you see her, could you maybe take her with you?"
"Your daughter?" Bulma and Goku both had an image of a beardless Ox King in their heads.
"Here, this is my little Chi-Chi!" Ox King pulled out a picture and showed it to them. "If you want, I can give you her hand when you're older. Heh, heh, heh."
"Her?!" Bulma squeaked in fear, 'Oh, please don't say anything stupid Goku! And marriage?! WITH THE GIRL WHO TRIED TO KILL ME?!'
"Hey, I had to knock that girl out! She attacked Bulma on our way here!" Goku declared, making Bulma hastily beat a retreat in fear.
'LIKE THAT!' She screamed in her head.
"WHAT?! HOW DARE YOU HURT MY CHI-CHI!" The beast of man roared and went from jolly and jovial back to demon in a heartbeat. He hadn't even really paid attention to the latter half of his statement.
Goku had to dodge out of the way of the thrown axe, because it definitely would have cleaved him in half if it had touched him, "Hey, didn't you hear me?! She almost killed Bulma! I just gave her a tiny chop to knock her out!"
"Stand still you little bastard!" Ox King growled, huffing as he tried to give Goku a good smack for touching his daughter. He wasn't really paying attention to anything he was saying anymore. Nor that 'a good smack' from him could probably kill the boy.
Goku raced backwards, "Fine, if you want to fight, then take this!" He vanished and appeared underneath the Ox King, punching the man in the gut. The man merely growled and tried to plow a meaty fist into the boy's face. Goku made some space for himself, while the larger man rushed him, "Jeez Ox guy, you're real strong!" Sparks started forming in his right hand before it was engulfed in a red glow, "Hope you're as tough as I think you are!" He thrust his arm forward, "RIOT JAVELIN!" His father's technique exploded from his hand. The bright lance of Ki speared into his opponent and exploded, flinging the giant man back with burns and scuffs all over his armor. The man crashed into a crumbling structure and shook the earth with his landing.
"H-holy cow!" Bulma gaped, finally getting her first real taste for just what Ki was capable of.
"Ooooh, that stings…" The Ox King groaned as he got back to his feet, shooting Goku a much more serious stare, "Kid, if you're capable of that, then I think I should thank you for not killing my Chi-Chi instead."
Goku landed as scratched his head, "I mean, I didn't even want to hurt her at all. She attacked Bulma with that weird laser thing in her helmet!"
"She what?! Oh, that girl!" Ox King fumed, finally paying attention to what his daughter had done rather than what had been done to her.
"Anyway." Goku floated back up, "I'm going to go get the Fan. If I see Chi-Chi I'll tell her to go back home." He blasted off, and Bulma's jaw dropped when she saw that he was going way faster than he ever had while carrying her.
Bulma swallowed, and patted Ox King, "Hey uhhh… I have a car. I can go try to find Chi-Chi, if you like."
"Would you?" Ox King turned to her in gratitude, "I've tried to teach her well, but I still worry over her. Fathers always do, right?" He took another copy of Chi-Chi's picture out and handed it to Bulma.
She shrank her car back into its Dyno-Cap, "Yeah, I got it. I'll be back. Hopefully with her." She took a breath and turned into her falcon form, drawing an awed gasp from the huge man. With a shriek, she lifted off into the air and raced back towards where they had left the unconscious girl.
It took her about twenty minutes, but she found Chi-Chi right where they had left her, still insentient. Luckily, she hadn't been disturbed at all, from what she could see. She landed and transformed back into her human form, and helped Chi-Chi sit up. She started patting her on the cheek, "Hey, wake up! Wake up Chi-Chi! Your father is worried about you!"
"Oooh, my head." Chi-Chi stirred from Bulma's gentle slapping, and her eyes widened, "Eeek! You again!" She jerked out of Bulma's arms and raised her fingers.
"Wait a second, Chi-Chi! Jeez, do you just attack everyone?!" Bulma quailed back, but this time was determined not to freeze.
"Huh?! How do you know my name?!" Chi-Chi jerked in shock.
"Me and Goku met your father." Bulma got up and patted herself off, "He asked me to come find you and bring you back home."
"Really? But what about the Banshō Fan?!" Chi-Chi got up as well, "I have to find papa's old master, or we'll lose our home! Why would he ask me to come back?!" She narrowed her eyes, her fingers twitching into position. She was prepared to raise them, "I don't believe you!"
"Look, here." Bulma reached into her purse and pulled out Chi-Chi's picture, "If I didn't meet your father, why would I have your picture?" Chi-Chi still eyed her suspiciously but relaxed one hand and grabbed the item Bulma was trying to hand her.
"It is my picture!" Chi-Chi gasped when she looked at it, "But then who is going to find Master Roshi?!"
"Goku is taking care of it." Bulma smiled, "He flew off to go find Master Roshi. Me and him actually met the old timer a few weeks ago during our quest. Goku is on his way to the ocean right now."
"I see!" Chi-Chi… blushed a little bit, "Is Goku the really strong boy that was with you?"
Bulma narrowed her eyes, though she didn't really notice herself do so, "Yes he is. His name is Son Goku. I'm Bulma by the way." She reached into her pocket again and pulled out her car. Chi-Chi screamed in fear when she used the Dyno-Cap, the explosion startling her badly. "Oh relax, it's just a Dyno-Cap." Bulma laughed at Chi-Chi's expression.
"That was scary! You could have warned me!" Chi-Chi pouted and stomped her foot, tears at the corners of her eyes.
"Consider it payback for trying to kill me." Bulma deadpanned at her, and Chi-Chi flushed and looked away, mumbling a half-hearted apology. Bulma narrowed her eyes again at the younger girl's antics, "Hop in. Let's get going back up to the mountain."
Chi-Chi eyed the car suspiciously again but acquiesced. Bulma revved the engine and they shot back towards the mountain.
"Well, here's the ocean! It's just as big and blue as I remember!" Goku stopped his forward progress and started to float there, "…Man, how am I supposed to find this guy? I'll be searching for days!" He scratched his head, realizing maybe this hadn't been the best idea, "Oh well, nothing to it but to do it! Let's see if I can ask someone!" He had spotted a pod of dolphins and raced towards them, "Hey, water guys! Do you know where the old turtle hermit lives?"
"Oh sure!" The dolphin chittered before responding, "He lives on a tiny island way, way that way!" The mammal pointed with a flipped, "Wow, you have a tail! Cool!"
Goku laughed in response, "Gee, thanks! See you later!" He sped off, with the dolphin waving good-bye. He sped up, a corona of his power surrounding him in a red haze, "Man, the Dolphin wasn't kidding. It's really far out." He spoke up after a couple of minutes. He'd seen an island here and there, but there didn't appear to be anything on them. Finally, he laid eyes on a small island with a house on it. A quick squint and a few more seconds revealed the words 'Kame House' painted on right under the roof. His Saiyan eyes revealed those details a mile or two before Bulma would have seen them, had she been with him. "That must be it! Anybody hoooome?!" He sang cheerfully when he landed on the beach.
"Ho! As I live and breathe! How are you doing, my boy?" Roshi turned around and greeted him with a smile.
"I've been great!" Goku laughed cheerfully, "Look what I learned!" BAMF! He sat there as a tiger.
"Wow!" Roshi started to laugh, "That's quite a trick you picked up!"
BAMF! Goku turned back, "Yeah, it's super neat! Bulma learned it too! She loves turning into a falcon! How have you been, old timer? And how about you, Turtle?"
"I've been great! Oh, I'm so less stressed now that I'm back home! I didn't thank you nearly enough!" Turtle responded joyfully.
"Never better, boyo!" Roshi responded, "So, what brings you to my humble abode?" He sniffed a little, looking saddened, "And where is the little lady that was travelling with you?"
"Well, mine and Bulma's journey took us to Fire Mountain where we met with the Ox King! He said he was your old student!" Goku responded.
"Ox King! My, I haven't seen him in decades." Roshi exclaimed, "That's right. I did train the big guy. I haven't been happy about some of the rumors I've heard about him."
"Well, his entire mountain is on fire so he can't even go back to his castle!" Goku exclaimed, waving his arms, "He asked me to come find you so we could borrow the Banshō Fan to put out the flames!"
"The Banshō Fan… a single wave raises a typhoon, a second raises a thunder storm, and a third an entire monsoon!" Roshi raised a hand to his chin, "Yes, I suppose it is possible that the Fan could put out that blaze. Very well! I shall lend it to you!" Roshi declared, before starting to look a little… shifty. "In return, do you think you could get Bulma to… go on a little… date with me, once she turns sixteen?"
"Oh, now really sir! I say!" Turtle immediately threw in his two cents. "For shame master!"
"Hush you old leatherback! Don't be so cold-blooded! Is it really so wrong to grant a dying old man's final wish?"
"Dying old man? If that's the case you've been dying as long as I've been alive! Need I remind you that you drank the Immortality Elixir?" The turtle shot back.
In any case, their argument wasn't really needed. Goku's face had gone flat. He didn't know why – or even what a date was really – but he didn't like the idea for some reason. "I can't make promises for Bulma." He settled on eventually. Especially after the turtle had started yelling at his master.
"Oh phooey." Roshi said, "Fine, fine. Let me go get that Fan."
Minutes passed, and some of the sounds coming from the little house honestly sounded like a zoo. Eventually Goku sat and laid back on turtle's shell.
"Dangnabbit, where is that blasted fan?!" Master Roshi stuck his head out the window, "Hey Turtle, do you have any idea where I put it?"
"Weren't you using it as a food mat, master?" Turtle asked innocently.
"…" Roshi froze, "Oh no! THAT was the Banshō Fan? I spilled wonton soup on it! It got stained so badly that I threw it away!"
Goku's eyes bulged, "…Crap! We're never going to get that Dragon Ball now! Or save the big guy's castle!" He paused, and a… strange look came over his face, 'Unless… I mean I could…try it. We'd have to wait a while but...' But he never got an opportunity to pull harder on that train of thought.
Roshi groaned, before jumping out the window, "Don't fret, boyo. Since this is my fault, I'll have to take responsibility for it. I'll go there personally and put out that fire."
"Wow, can you really do that, old timer?" Goku promptly forgot about his thoughts.
"Of course!" Roshi crossed his arms, "Who do you take me for? There's nothing Master Roshi can't do!"
"What about this?" Goku asked cheekily as he started to fly.
"…Hush you." Roshi grumbled to himself, "Give me a few minutes."
Said few minutes later, Roshi came out wearing an entirely different outfit, "Why'd you change?" Goku asked in confusion, a question mark over his head.
"I figured it was time to look a bit more professional. Heh, heh, heh." Roshi had a strange grin on his face. "Shall we then?"
"Yep! Hop on!" Goku landed in front of him and turned.
"What?" Roshi looked at his back in surprise, "You want to carry me all the way there? Fire Mountain is quite a ways away, my boy."
"Then it'll be good training!" Goku declared, "And hey, if I really get tired I can just call the Nimbus! Even if you can't ride it I can still carry you on it, right?"
"…I don't know about this." Roshi admitted.
"C'mon, hurry up, old timer. I don't want to leave Bulma alone for too long!" Goku demanded impatiently. "I mean, what else are you going to ride?"
"I was going to call the Baby Gamera." Roshi admitted, "It's a flying turtle."
"But Master, don't you get really dizzy when you ride on Baby Gamera?" Turtle interjected in confusion, "I though you disliked riding on him."
"Why would he get dizzy?" Goku asked cluelessly.
"Baby Gamera flies by spinning in the air like a top using rockets." Roshi admitted to him.
Goku opened his mouth and raised a finger, before closing it with a click and lowering his hand, "Okay. Not the silliest thing I've ever heard. But I have a better idea now, actually!" BAMF. Then with a loud shriek that startled Turtle badly, Goku was revealed in full on Pterodactyl form.
"Okay, that works a lot better." Roshi grinned and hopped on his back, "Let's go, Goku!"
Goku shrieked in response. For some reason, he hadn't quite been able to master speech while transformed. Apparently everyone had some sort of strange quirk when they used the technique, from Puar's inability with faces to Goku's lack of ability to speak… as well as the fact that his tail refused to transform too. Even now, the giant pterosaur had a hilarious-looking, tiny red monkey tail hanging from its backside. So far, the only one that hadn't had any weird Quirks… was Bulma. Or at least they hadn't noticed any quirks yet. Maybe she really did have an affinity for magic?
They took off into the air, with Goku's massive wings blowing tons of sand around. Turtle waved at them goodbye.
"Look, there he is!" Bulma jumped up and waved, a giant smile on her face.
"Eeek! A dinosaur! Nasty!" Chi-Chi raised her fingers, before stopping when her father's giant hand rested on her shoulder.
"Chi-Chi, what did I tell you?" Ox King said sternly. "Attacking first just got you into trouble with our new friends. Listen when people speak." He scratched his beard, "That said, do you need glasses too, Bulma? That definitely doesn't look like Gohan's little grandson."
Bulma scoffed, "Please, I know Goku by now. Look, you can tell from the monkey tail! For some reason he can't get rid of it when he transforms!"
Chi-Chi put a hand over her forehead like a visor, "Wow, there is a monkey tail! That's really funny!" She started to giggle helplessly. "It looks so weird!"
Goku landed, and Bulma immediately realized something, "Wait, where is this Banshō Fan? Goku, could you not find it?"
Goku transformed back into his human form, "Well, I found Master Roshi, but apparently he threw the fan out!"
"WHAT?!" All three of them yelled, with Chi-Chi immediately starting to cry.
"Yep. So he said he'd come here and fix the fire himself!" He turned and pointed at Roshi…
Who was on his hands and knees and sweating like a pig, "I still hate flying!" He cursed vehemently. He was also… clutching himself, "Oooooh, I feel chafed, you damn brat! Even Baby Gamera would have been better than that!"
"… This is who we're pinning our hopes on?" If anything, Chi-Chi started crying harder at Bulma's despairing question.
"Master! Master Roshi! It's so good to see you!" Ox King rushed forward and crashed to his knees, bowing before the old man. "Did you really come help us?"
"First thing's first." Roshi said softly, before starting to yell, "I've heard about you, you big old Ox! Hurting people over some silly treasure! Is that how you show respect to the master who taught you?!" He smacked his staff into the Ox King's head, earning a yelp.
"M-Master! Please forgive me!" He started to sob, shocking his daughter, "I'm so sorry, master! I swear, I've seen the light! I'll destroy the treasures!"
Roshi scoffed, "Let's not go overboard now. Doing that won't un-hurt all those people. But rest assured, if I hear a single new rumor that ends up being true I'll be back, and I will not be happy."
"Yes master! Thank you master!" Ox King continued to blubber.
Roshi looked over at the blaze, "Wait, you mean to tell me you can't put out this fire yourself? Now I'm really disappointed." He grinned cheekily, "Whats wrong? Too old?" He started to laugh.
"Rich coming from him of all people." Bulma mumbled to herself.
"Now, time to put out this fire, I suppose." Roshi said, and surprised them by shrugging off his purple turtle shell and taking off his orange shirt, revealing… a terribly skinny body. His ribs were showing and there were patches on his back, "Heh, not bad for a frail old man, huh?" He started trying to climb up onto the wall in front of him, "H-hey kid, give me a boost."
Goku did so, while both Bulma and Chi-Chi just glanced at one another in both disappointment and confusion. Really, this old man needed help to climb a tiny wall? What in the hell was he supposed to do to this massive fire?
Roshi waved his arms to keep from falling, before steadying, "Okay… here goes."
And all of a sudden, things changed. The bumbling old man suddenly had a presence that had to be felt to be believed. The air around him seemed to warp as if his body was heating up. And then his muscles started to strain, and then bulge. His arms went from tiny twigs to goddamn tree trunks. He exhaled, hands in a strange pose in front of him, before he grunted, and the rest of his torso bulged just like his arms. Now he looked like a man who had steroids for breakfast.
Behind him, jaws dropped all around. Even Goku couldn't quite believe what he was seeing.
All except Ox King himself, "It's begun! The Master's Kamehameha Wave!" He yelled excitedly. It had – after all – been decades since he'd seen it.
Rosh placed both hands directly in front of his chest. Both of his wrists were touching, his arms extended, and all of his fingers were curled. "Ka…Me…Ha…" he twisted so his hands were now at his waist. "Ha…Me…" A brilliant blue glow started forming between his hands, "HAAAAA!" He thrust his arms forward and the blue glow transformed into a brilliantly blinding light that seemed like a miniature star had erupted in his hands. Everyone had to shield their eyes with their arms. The beam erupted and raced into the distance, striking the mountain.
And if the initial beam had been bright, then this explosion was like being roughly three feet away from the sun. Staring at it could easily blind someone, and all of a sudden Roshi's sunglasses made much more sense. And then it was over, and Roshi was sitting in exhaustion, "Wow, I'm pooped."
"T-t-t-the fire!" Bulma pointed a trembling finger in utter shock.
"T-that technique is way stronger than mine!" Goku whispered to himself in utter awe. Maybe even his father would have been impressed.
"Uhh… master? Y-you put out the fire but…" Ox King pointed at the where his home once sat.
"What is it? Spit it out!" Roshi demanded.
"You… you blew away my castle and even the entire mountain too!" Ox King declared.
"Our home!" Chi-Chi yelped with tears in her eyes, "It's gone!"
"…" Roshi stared at it, before blushing, "…I guess I wasn't as rusty as I thought… Or rather, rustier than I thought! I didn't think I made the blast that powerful!" He stuck his tongue out, "Guess I don't know my own strength anymore…" His cheeks were very red.
Everyone else fell the floor, twitching in shock.
Minutes later when everyone recovered, Goku started poking Master Roshi, "Hey old timer, can you teach me that move you did?"
Roshi coughed and snorted at the same time, "What? Hahaaha! You're a funny lad, Goku. That move will take you fifty years of hard training to learn!"
Bulma swallowed a snigger at the old man's words. If she knew Goku half as well as she thought she did… yep. Her smile widened as she saw him turn around and adopt the pose he had seen Roshi use. She poked Roshi on the arm and jerked her head towards Goku, "Prepare to eat those words, old timer."
"Eh?" Roshi, Chi-Chi, and the Ox King all turned to Goku.
The boy exhaled, "Ka…me…ha…me…" He put his body through the motions he'd seen Roshi use, focusing on the skills he'd already developed through his Saiyan training. Bulma smirked gleefully as she watched Goku's red Ki start forming a ball in his hands, which were cupped at his sides, "HA!" He roared, thrusting forward.
Under the rest of his audience's slackened jaws, Goku unleashed a pretty hefty blast of Ki. It was nowhere near the size or power of the one Roshi himself had used, but it was still fairly large. It blasted through one of the downed buildings and cut a furrow into the dirt, before vanishing, "Whoo! I did it!"
"W-what?" Roshi felt his knees quake, and he had to latch a hand onto the equally shocked Ox King to stay upright, "O-on his first try?"
Ox King cut through his own shock before starting to laugh uproariously, "WAHAHAHA! That's Gohan's grandson for you!"
"What?!" Roshi turned to his old student, "Gohan? You mean your fellow pupil? Son Gohan? That's his kid?!" He turned to Goku and watched as the boy led Bulma through the movements, "If she gets it too, I'm hanging up my shell." He said flatly.
Bulma clearly wasn't anywhere near as comfortable in her own skin as Goku, and it took a few corrections from the boy to get her to perform the movements passably. But to Roshi's sheer relief, despite approximating the stance passably, all Bulma managed were a few sad sparks. She sighed as she stood straight, "Didn't really expect anything different, but still." She pouted.
"Don't worry Bulma! You'll get it eventually!" Goku patted her on the leg, getting a smile from the girl and she messed up his hair a bit, "Gack, quit it Bulma!"
She laughed as he swatted at her hand, "Sorry, sorry."
"I have to say, I'm impressed." Roshi walked up to them, "Are you really Gohan's grandson? He did tell me once about the young boy with the monkey tail he found. How is that young rascal doing?"
Goku smiled, but a tinge of serious sadness crossed over his eyes, "He's dead…" He said softly. His tone was more Goku as he said, "I've been alone for years."
"Oh…" Roshi deflated, "Oh… I'm sorry to hear that, lad. What a loss…" He bowed his head, "He had been one of my favorite pupils. Always eager to learn and do good in the world."
"I've… made peace with it." Goku put on a smile, and both Bulma and Roshi could tell there was something that wasn't being said. "That does sound like Grandpa though." This time the smile was more real.
"Tell you what, boyo. Why don't you come train with me? I'm sure your grandpa's old master could teach you a thing or two." Roshi grinned, showing his mostly-missing teeth, "I look forward to seeing just what you're capable of!"
Now Goku was grinning outright, "That sounds fun!" He side-eyed Bulma and saw her looking a bit… put-out still, "Can Bulma come too? Oh! Do you know any magic Master Roshi? Bulma learned the transformation technique even faster than I did, and she's better at it too! She can still talk while transformed."
Roshi struggled to keep the grin off his face and his tone even, "I don't see why not. If she's interested." He turned to Bulma, "Magic, huh? That was always more my older sister's domain than mine." He admitted sheepishly, "I suppose I could get in touch with the old bat on your behalf."
Bulma smiled, especially since she knew her young friend was trying to raise her spirits, 'Don't think I don't know what you're up to, old man.' Still, no need to rock the boat. Yet. "Sure, that would be great, Roshi."
"We need to finish our quest first, though." Goku told him, "So we won't be going there for a little while."
"Oh, that's right!" Bulma yanked the Dragon Radar out of her purse, "Come on Goku! We're on the home stretch now!" She started to walk off, "Bye everyone!" She waved, "We hope to see you soon!"
"Let's meet again!" Goku yelled, waving as he followed the taller girl, "Bye-bye!"
"…Well that was a bit rude." Roshi huffed eventually, "Still, I suppose kids will be kids. I wonder what's so special about those balls they're collecting?"
"I'm not sure." Ox King admitted to his old master, "They only came here for the one I had in my castle. I know that much. Goku told me."
"Hey papa, do you think Goku will marry me in the future?" Chi-Chi tugged on her father's cape, "He was really cute and strong." She blushed like the maiden she was.
The One-Star Dragon Ball was the only one left now. Bulma and Goku had found the Ox King's ball buried in the rubble of their old home and had immediately high-tailed it out of there once they had it in hand. They had been hundreds of miles away and had a whole hell of a lot of ground to cover. Ultimately though, their car needed fuel and Bulma hoped to buy supplies and NEEDED new clothes. Even though she put it in the wash after every day ended, the bunny suit was starting to stink. So by necessity, they pulled into the nearest town, which had been about a week away.
"Man, what a dump." She muttered as they got out of the car. Her eyes widened when one of the guys there took one look at them and ran in the other direction. "Huh, that was weird. You don't look that scary, Goku." She giggled as she elbowed the smaller boy.
"He was looking at you, actually." She took on an affronted look at his words, "Everyone seems to be staring at your head, actually."
"My head?" She asked in confusion. She shrugged, "Oh well. I guess it's not really important if everyone here wants to be a jerk." She raised her voice a bit, causing several people to flinch. She turned to the gas station clerk, "Fill her up, please. I'll be back, Goku." She rushed off and realized that Goku was totally right. Everyone was giving her a wide berth. The first shop she hit was a Dyno-Cap shop, whereupon she walked out a couple-hundred thousand Zeni lighter. They didn't really have high-end stuff in this place like she wished, but beggars couldn't be choosers. The strangest thing was that the clerk had tried to give her everything for free, and that clued her into the fact that these people were actually terrified of her for some reason. Had they offered her discounts because of her beauty, she would have had no qualms about taking the offers. This though? This was a different story, and she had insisted on paying, to the point she eventually rolled her eyes, slapped more money than she really needed to onto the counter, and walked away without another word. The clerk had stared at her retreating back, completely dumbfounded.
The next shop had been the clothing store, and she had wrinkled her nose at the items on offer. Best thing available had been a little white number with poofy pants and a light blue vest. She kept her hair straight, rather than putting it into a ponytail. She had gone up the counter with her selections and again, the clerk had tried to give her everything for free. "Man, why are you people so afraid of me? What gives?" She reached up to scratch her head in confusion, and then blinked when she felt something on her head, "Huh? What's this?" She took it off, and the clerk's eyes bulged, "Oh, I forgot I was wearing this stupid thing." She put it into the bag she had the rest of the outfit in.
"Wait!" The clerk blurted out, "You're not part of the Rabbit Mob?"
"…" Bulma blinked stupidly, "…Come again?"
The clerk immediately started growling at her, "Do you think you're funny, little girl?! Coming here and tricking honest folk like us?!"
Bulma immediately went into brat-mode for the first time in a while, "Excuse me? I'm not exactly from around here, you know! I wouldn't be caught dead living in a dump like this!" She snarled back at him, "Now tell me what the fuck you're on about!" Deciding to try to intimidate the man a little bit for his words, she pushed her Ki up and allowed her aura to shine just the tiniest bit. Her eyes started to glow in her head, and she seemed to spear him with her gaze. 'Yes! It totally worked! I can't wait to tell Goku!'
The man backpedaled and squealed, "I'm sorry please don't hurt me!"
Bulma huffed, but calmed down, "Whatever. Now spill."
The clerk hurriedly told her about the Rabbit-Themed Yakuza that had been terrorizing the town for years, as well as their boss and his terrifying power. The bunny-eared menaces ran roughshod around the town, taking what they wished and lording their power around. They carried guns and had shot people right in the streets before. Several women had been taken against their will, and just weren't they same when they returned.
Bulma didn't need to read between the lines to know what happened to them. Throughout his tail, her temper had risen and now was boiling, "Thanks mister." She again slapped more money than the clothes were worth on the counter, "For your trouble." She hissed as she stomped away, slamming the door as she did so. She zeroed in on Goku and got his attention, "Looks like we're postponing the hunt for a little while." She hissed, before relaying what she had heard to her little friend in a low tone.
By the end, Goku was frowning heavily, "Well, looks like it won't take too long to get the party started." He growled, watching a soldier-looking guy with bunny ears on his head kick a lady and her child. The other one spotted Bulma and pointed her out to his partner. Goku and Bulma both leaned on the car and stared back, arms crossed.
The two men had dark, sleezy grins on their faces as they strode to them. "Hey little lady. Haven't seen you around here. Why don't you come have fun with us?"
Bulma wasn't impressed, "So, you assholes are the reason everyone was terrified of me earlier." She looked them up and down and sneered, "You don't look like much. Fuck off."
The shorter, fatter one growled a bit, "A feisty one, eh? You must be new here." He took out his handgun, "Seems you haven't learned how things work around here yet."
"Oh, I know better than you." Bulma smirked and uncrossed her arms, pointing her finger at him like a gun. He went cross-eyed staring at it, "Bang!" And bang she did. Her turquoise aura pulsed, forming into a bullet in front of her finger and blasting away the jerk. Her Ki attack burned his uniform away and blew him back over a dozen feet. He landed, charred and smoking and didn't move.
"WHAT THE?!" Were the only words the other bandit was able to get out. As he was pulling his rifle to bare, Goku rocketed forward and buried a fist into his ribs. Several audible cracks rang out and the man landed farther than his fellow bandit had. He gurgled, clenching his side as he pulled out a walkie-talkie, "B-Boss! H-h-help!" he managed to choke out, before falling still.
Goku turned to Bulma, "That was great, Bulma! I can't believe you already managed a little Ki attack! You okay?" He noticed her wobbling a bit and handed her some food to recover her energy.
"Kami, Goku. How do you do it? That one little attack and I feel like I spent hours exercising!" Bulma got her feet back under her and steadied herself. She started to eat ravenously.
"You get used to it Bulma. You don't have to worry!" Goku replied cheerfully.
Their conversation as cut off as a terrified villager spoke, "Y-you… What have you done?! You've doomed us all!"
Bulma snorted, swallowing her bit of hot dog, "We were in the mood for rabbit stew." She deadpanned, "Now run along and let us solve your little problem. You can thank us later." The terrified townspeople all fled into their homes, while Goku and Bulma waited. Eventually, Bulma gagged when a bunny-themed car rolled into town, "Seriously? Looks like he really is the head rabbit. What a bozo."
The bozo in question was an anthropomorphic rabbit who wore large black sunglasses and a green and purple ensemble with a large red kanji meaning 'rabbit' in a white circle on his chest. The rabbit eyed his fallen men with shock, "Who did this, girlies? Answer me!"
"That would be us!" Bulma yelled out, unimpressed.
The rabbit eyed her, before performing an impressive leap and somersault to land near her, "Press the flesh, cutie."
"No thanks." Bulma deadpanned, backing away.
"Come now, a little touch won't hurt." The rabbit said, taking a step forward.
Goku smacked the hand away, "She said no, creepy rabbit." Bulma's eyes bulged. What the hell was he doing? She had warned him!
"Heh, heh, heh, too bad, kiddie. We touched." Rabbit chuckled creepily.
Goku was engulfed in a red smoke cloud. Bulma slowly relaxed upon seeing the familiar cloud, having an inkling that Goku was just playing a prank. And even if he wasn't, she still had a shot in her. She was rewarded with Goku's massive tiger form stepping from the cloud and Boss Rabbit squeaking in terror. And then Goku roared.
It wasn't even directed at her and Bulma felt a primal chill flow down her spine. She practically froze up in terror.
Goku lunged forward with his claws extended, and Boss Rabbit screamed like a little girl, "GET AWAY FROM ME!" He leapt away like …well… like a giant rabbit. Goku's claws caught his clothes and tore four gouges into the material. "What the hell are you, kid?!"
Goku BAMFed back into regular form, "The look on your face!" he laughed uproariously, drawing Bulma into chuckling too, "I have Ki AND I know the transformation technique. Your little trick wouldn't even work on Bulma anymore. We're both stronger than you." He took his Power Pole out, "Nighty night!" He cracked the rabbit upside the head in a single stroke. Boss Rabbit fell, utterly humiliated and unconscious.
As the townsfolk exited their homes and started murmuring in disbelief, Bulma took the time to throw a cheeky smirk at the 'doomed us all' guy, "Told ya!"
"You utter FOOLS!" Mai flinched at the admonishment from her Lord Pilaf, "Buffoons! Nitwits! How hard is it to outsmart a teenage girl and her seven-year-old friend?!"
Shu and Mai had definitely seen better days. They were currently being strung up by large metal hands… which were also periodically electrocuting them… while being held over an alligator pit. Frankly, she wished she had never seen that Help Wanted ad all those years ago. Her Lord Pilaf may have paid the bills, gave her access to all the tech she ever could want to play with, and occasionally even made her feel good about herself, but oh were his moods dangerous.
Then again, it wasn't as if they didn't actually deserve some punishment. How HARD could it really be to take a few Dragon Balls away from two bloody kids?! And yet the only Dragon Ball they'd managed to collect was that first one, with only the skeleton trying to hug Emperor Pilaf to mar the occasion. Ever since then, Mai and Shu had been chased by wolves – her butt was still sore from that bite – until they managed to fling themselves off a cliff and into a river. She was still wet and sodden when she arrived back at the castle and Emperor Pilaf hadn't even given her the opportunity to change clothes before announcing the next mission.
They had made their way to the Kame House, where the turtle hermit was rumored to live. They practically ransacked the place looking for his Dragon Ball and then had been discovered by the hermit himself eventually. So, they stuck him up… and were told that he had just given the Dragon Ball away to a young girl on the beach. Furiously, they got back in their submarine to go back to the castle and strategize, only to find the sub beached. Master Roshi had pushed them into the sea after some yelling… so hard that he punched a hole in the metal, and they sank like a rock.
In any case, they finally made it back – even more chafed than the last time due to the saltwater – and Emperor Pilaf had forced them out again. Mai had to beg on her knees to be allowed to change first, and Pilaf had thankfully allowed it. So they had tracked the Dragon Balls once more and had discovered that they were not the only ones hunting them. That made several things easy, so they prepared a bomb to make things easier. Before they even got a chance to plant it… they watched a seven-year-old kick the living crap out of a full-grown man. They knew they needed to get the drop on him for things to work, so Mai had taken a club and tried to bash his brains in from behind while he was humming and staring at a fire.
He'd stuck a finger in the air and broken the club. Completely shattered it, in fact. Mai had stared in utter shock as he turned around and asked what she was doing. Mai had never run so fast in her life. Which led to now. With the electrocutions and the alligator pit below them.
Mai cringed as her diminutive lord threw a tantrum, "You two haven't even had one success! I got our first Dragon Ball myself! Give me a reason why I shouldn't just find new help!"
"S-sir! That kid can't be human! He broke a wooden club with just his finger, and we watched him beat up an adult man!" Shu cried out, moaning in pain.
Pilaf growled, "All I'm hearing are excuses! First it was wolves, then it was the crappy submarine!" He did not mention the fact that he bought the submarine, of course, "And now it's some fairy-tale kid that can beat adults?!"
Mai hesitantly spoke up, "Uhh… My glorious Emperor Pilaf?"
"Yes, yes, what is it?" It was a testament to his anger that he wasn't even puffing up at her words.
"If they're collecting the Dragon Balls too… then won't they need to come here?" She hurriedly spoke once he turned to glare at her, "I-I just mean, why not just let them do our work for us and prepare traps for them once they arrive?"
Pilaf stared harshly at her, before a smile crossed his face and he pressed a button. The alligator pit was closed, and they were let down. Mai breathed a sigh of relief, "An excellent idea, Mai. I'm glad I thought of it."
"Yes, Emperor Pilaf." Mai and Shu bowed, though even she couldn't help but roll her eyes when she turned away. She had accepted this contract and would see it through, but damn if she didn't wish she had just passed on the pipsqueak's offer long ago.
"We're on the home stretch…" Bulma said softly, after another glance at the Dragon Radar.
"You don't sound too excited anymore." Goku observed curiously, "You would have been jumping like I did when I tried that coffee stuff back when we first met."
"…" Bulma sighed, "Yeah, I know. Everything just feels… different now." She raised her finger and a small Ki ball started glowing, "I can't even imagine being able to do something like this months ago." It disappated and she mumbled under her breath, "…Plus everywhere I look I see more evidence that my wish was stupid… kind of hard to be excited now." Goku opened his mouth, before snapping to attention and lunging for Bulma, "Goku what?!"
He jumped them out of the car and about a second later it exploded. Bulma gasped as Goku ground his teeth together, "Our car!"
"What the! Who the hell shoots a rocket launcher at two teenagers?!" She screamed as they landed. She was really grateful that Goku was so strong, otherwise he never would have been able to carry her bridal style like this.
Two large quakes hit them as Bulma got back to her feet, the cloud of grit engulfing the burning wreckage of her car. Goku got in front of her defensively. He heard a whirring noise and whipped out his Power Pole. The cloud settled, revealing a giant metal form before them. "What is that?" Goku gaped, having never seen anything like it.
"Is that a robot?" Bulma squinted, and saw a person inside, "No, it's a Exoskeleton! Who the hell had the knowledge to build something like that?!" She eyed the second suit which was rooting through the ruined vehicle, before yanking out her bag. Bulma shrieked furiously, "The Dragon Balls! They're stealing them!"
"I'll get them!"
Goku made to charge forward, but the lead mech's arms thrust forward, "Not so fast, little boy!" The whirring reached a fever pitch and a stream of bullets fired out. Bulma screamed in fear and Goku ground his heel into the dirt and started to spin his Power Pole like a propeller. To him, the bullets moved in slow motion and he started knocking them away. Bulma kneeled behind him and made herself small, hoping that her young friend wouldn't miss.
He didn't, and the woman in the mobile armor stared in shocked horror, "It…it's not possible!" She gasped out as her guns starts to click dry.
"Mai, I have them! Let's go!" Shu yelled at her, revealing the briefcase Bulma had put the balls in when her bag became too stuffed.
"OH NO YOU DON'T!" Bulma snarled as she raised a glowing finger, "GIVE THOSE BACK!" She fired her Ki bullet, her rage enhancing it far more than the one that had blown back that idiot rabbit mafia member.
Mai jumped in front of Shu and gave a little squeak of fear as the Ki blast blew her mech's arm right off. The explosion badly rattled her, and hydraulic fluids started spewing from the damaged limb, "WHAT ARE YOU TWO?!" She shrieked in shock. Shu was also gaping, but still had what passed for wits in his world. He raised his arm and aimed it, before firing a smoke canister at their two opponents.
Goku leapt forward and knocked it to the ground, but that caused it to rupture and billow out its cloud of white smoke. Goku started to cough and jumped back, trying to escape it. "Cover your ears, Bulma!" He got in front of Bulma and took a deep breath, before raising a hand high above his hand and bringing it crashing down on his other palm.
An ear-splitting crack rang through the air and the blast of air Goku's monstrous clap formed blew away the smoke cloud, revealing that their attackers were gone.
Bulma was still on her knees and panting heavily, sweating as if she had run ten miles. She grit her teeth, feeling useless. One measly little shot and she was practically useless now. She shrieked in rage, "Damn them! All of our hard work and they just come in and steal them in the eleventh hour!" She clenched her fists furiously, "Goku GO! I'll be fine!" She yelled, and Goku took a look at her before rocketing into the air.
"Found them!" He yelled, before he was off in a flash, covering over a mile in mere seconds. Bulma didn't have to wait long for him to return, "They were gone." He told her. "They left the robot thingies behind."
"Damn it, NO!" She wailed, "They have all of the Dragon Balls now! They're going to steal our wish, Goku! No! That doesn't even matter! Some assholes willing to shoot two teenagers with a rocket launcher and a Gatling gun to get them couldn't possibly wish for anything good!" She looked at him and paused, "Why the hell are you smiling?"
He grinned wider, reaching into his Gi and pulling out the Four-Star Dragon Ball, "All of them?" He spun the ball on the tip of his finger with a toothy grin on his face.
"Goku!" She screamed in joy, lunging for the boy and wrapping him in a hug, "You're amazing! I totally forgot you told me not to put it with the others!" She got up, having gotten some of her energy back, though she was still pretty tired, "Luckily I always keep the Radar with me! They won't get away with this! We'll find those thieves and make them pay! Let me just get another…car… out…" She trailed off, a cold sweat starting to engulf her this time. She mechanically turned towards the smoldering wreck of their car, "…The rest of the capsules… I had them in that briefcase…"
There was a dead quality to her tone, with an undercurrent of rage, "When I gET MY HANDS ON THEM-!"
"What about food?" Goku asked, starting to rub his stomach uncomfortably.
Bulma grimaced, taking out the one capsule she still had on her. A refrigerator. She popped it open and looked inside, "No good. There are just two sandwiches here. I know that's not enough for you, Goku." She hung her head, "Damn it! I should have kept the capsules in my bag! I should have KNOWN there would be other people searching for those damn Balls! All of our success got to my head!" They each took one and scarfed them down, "Let's go, Goku!"
"Right!" He confirmed, and she transformed into a light-blue vest which he put on, "Let me know if this gets uncomfortable for you."
"Don't worry about me! Let's go get our Dragon Balls and some payback!" She responded, before shutting her eyes and trying to relax in an attempt to gain back some more energy. Now that she had gotten a taste of what it meant to be strong, she was starting to get really tired of being so weak. She still couldn't even fly without transforming. 'If only I had Goku's ease with Ki! I wouldn't be slowing him down anymore!'
"Wow, it's huge!" Goku said, using his hand as a visor and staring at the massive castle.
"Yeah." Bulma raised a finger to her mouth and bit gently on the knuckle, "We're definitely not dealing with regular bandits like that Yamcha guy. Even Capsule Corp has never used one of those battle suits like those two. Granted me and dad never really cared to make any, but that's still damn good engineering."
"I'll take your word for it!" Goku said cheerfully, putting his hands behind his head.
Bulma snorted, "All you need to know is that my family owns the biggest tech company in the world, and those battle suits were something even we have never come up with." She eyed the radar one more time, "And they're definitely in here. Keep your guard up, kay?" She looked up and searched around for a moment, before smirking, "Hey Goku…"
"Yeah?" He turned to her with a questioning look on his face.
"See that tiny little black thing on that wall over there?" She crouched and pointed at a wall.
"Yeah? What's that?" Goku titled his head to the side.
"Shoot it down, and then fly around the place and shoot out any others you see that look like that. They're cameras so they definitely know we're here." Bulma continued smirking as she laid out her plan, "That way they won't know which entrance we're coming from."
"Sure!" He raised a finger and – once again making Bulma mumble about how awesome his Ki abilities were – shot out the camera.
As he flew off to finish his task, Bulma stood with her arms crossed and pouted, "Man, his beams are so much faster than mine! If I tried doing that each beam would take at least five times longer to hit their targets." She stopped mumbling to herself and frowned, "Not to mention I'd only be able to get off like two shots. Maybe three max, and then I'd pass out."
Goku landed and they moved into the building as stealthily as they could, before Goku halted, "Huh, what's this?"
"Let me see." She got closer before her eye twitched, "Seriously? An arrow pointing somewhere? Do they think we're stupid?" She steered them into the opposite direction, and towards a set of stairs. She eyed it mistrustfully, "Something stupid is going to happen, isn't it?" She grumbled as they started up the stairs. "KNEW IT!" She cried out when the giant boulder started to roll towards them. "What kind of cliché adventure movie bull is this?!"
Goku got in front and shattered it with a Ki blast, with Bulma ducking behind him as he knocked the shards around them. "That was kinda funny." Goku snickered as they continued up… before the stairs turned into a slide and they fell on their faces and slid back down, "…Owie." He grunted as he got up, brushed himself off, and glared at the slide.
"Ooooh, I think I hate these guys." Bulma seethed as she rubbed her nose, "Fly us up!" She quickly turned into a squirrel and got onto his back, before he rocketed up, "Seriously!?" She squeaked, as the top was revealed to simply be a housing for the massive boulder. There was literally nothing else in the room except for the claw that had probably held the boulder in place. "Grrr!" She ground her teeth together, "Fine. Let's pick another road."
They backtracked and went along with the first arrow, since that was their only option. But at the next arrow, they again ignored it, and the next hallway had the floor fall out from underneath them. Bulma thanked every Kami she could think of that she had stayed transformed because the waters below were full of crocodiles. Massive ones. And because crocodiles were goddamn terrifying… they went and proved it by launching themselves out of the waters below nearly their entire body lengths to try to bite their ankles. Goku kicked one in the teeth and knocked all three of them back down. The beasts below them snarled and hissed, but Goku ignored them and floated to the next door, "Are you kidding me?!" Bulma squeaked out from where she was clutching his back. Behind the door was just a wall, "Who designed this damn place?!"
Some more backtracking was needed, and this time they followed the arrows twice before deviating. They stepped into the next room and Bulma sadly did not pay attention to the floors. When Goku took his third step, they both were engulfed by electricity. "YYYYYYYYEEEEEE!" They both screamed as they were electrocuted, with Bulma's transformation failing. Both of their bodies twitched rapidly before Goku managed to fire a tiny Ki blast that destroyed the circuits underneath them. The both of them slumped down, smoking from the trap.
"FINE!" Bulma bellowed at the top of her lungs, brat-side fully coming out, "WE'LL FOLLOW YOUR FUCKING ARROWS!" She stomped furiously the rest of the way, with the both of them steaming and with extremely (or mildly in Goku's case) frizzy hair. After minutes of walking, they turned the corner and Bulma let out a screech, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?" It was a dead end and – predictably – a wall slammed down behind them, trapping them into the tiny room.
"Well that was easy." Mai was almost disappointed.
"Sire, what path could they have taken?" Shu turned to the diminutive Pilaf and asked him.
Emperor Pilaf snorted, "There was no right way. They were all traps. As if I would ever have to walk into my own castle."
"An excellent scheme, Emperor Pilaf." Mai commended him with a smile.
"Of course it was. I came up with it!" Pilaf bragged, and started to almost salivate, "Excellent! Simply excellent! Soon no leader shall move without the command of Pilaf! Soon I shall rule this entire world! Go get my Dragon Ball!"
"YES SIR!" The two troops saluted before racing out.
Pilaf sat in his all-too-gaudy chair and waited, smiling happily as he listened periodically in on the furious screams coming from his sealed room. And waited. And waited. "What took so long!" He finally blurted at them when they walked in..
"Sir, there was no vehicle near the castle, though I'm not certain how they managed to get here so fast in that case." It was Mai who responded, "We backtracked back to the area where we first stole from them and only saw the destroyed car. We searched it extensively but found nothing." She bowed, hiding her apprehension. He would no doubt be furious.
"Bah, then that means they probably have it on them!" Pilaf glared at the top of her head.
"On them?" Shu raised his head and stared at the camera, "I don't see anything that could be a ball." The anthropomorphic dog scratched his chin.
"Perhaps between his legs?" Mai suggested with a straight face.
Pilaf and Shu stared at her, "We don't appreciate that kind of vulgar humor here." The diminutive imp turned away stoically.
"My apologies." Mai bowed.
Bulma started at turned to the screen, "So you're the little troll who stole my Dragon Balls!" She hissed out, "When we get out of here-"
"How rude!" Pilaf glared at her, "If you have nothing good to say then keep your mouth shut. We know you're in possession of the Four-Star Dragon Ball. Give it to me and you may stay on the side of the great Emperor Pilaf!"
"Oh sure!" Bulma sneered, reaching into her pocket and seemed to be fiddling inside of it, "Here! You can have it!" She pulled her fist out and shoved her middle finger at the screen, "There you go!"
"Why you little!" Pilaf snarled, "Fine! If nice doesn't work, then we can do nasty too!"
"Bulma!" Goku yelped as a claw came out of the ceiling and grabbed the girl. He tried to leap up after her, but at this point it had been several long hours since breakfast and as most of their food had been destroyed or stolen, he was really hungry. He was too slow and banged his head into the stones as the trapdoor closed.
Bulma struggled to free herself as she came face to face with the little gremlin, "You're even shorter in person!" She sneered at him. Stupidly, neither of his guards seemed armed. If she felt in danger she could definitely shoot the both of them, though she wasn't going to have enough energy to do anything else after.
"Grrr! Fine then! If you enjoy humiliation so much, I can work with that!" Pilaf had a very perverted look on his face and was even drooling slightly. Bulma's back stiffened and her heckles raised. Pilaf put his hand over his lips and made a kissing sound, "Mwah!" Before blowing it at her.
The two goons blushed and turned around.
Bulma stared, dumbfounded. Had they really been caught by these idiots? "Huh?"
"W-well? Are you ready to talk now?" Pilaf stuttered at first, blushing a brighter blue.
"…are you serious?" She deadpanned, "You blew me a kiss?"
"Eeek! She said the k-word!" Mai squeaked, and Bulma turned her disbelieving gaze at the grown woman covering her face.
A devilish smirk crossed her lips, "Oh please. With that look on your face I thought you were going to strip me naked and do a 'slurp slurp' or a 'puff puff' or even a 'pat pat!' What are you guys? Two?" She reached down and played with the waist of her pants, lowering it just a tiny bit.
The Pilaf gang erupted in fear, "SHE'S A PERVERT! WHAT A DISEASED MIND!" Pilaf practically dove for the button which threw her back into the trap pit.
She landed on Goku with an 'oof,' before bursting into laughter. "Seriously Goku? Did we really get outsmarted by these damn children?!" Before she could continue yellow gas started spewing from the walls, "What the?! What's this…this…" The both of them started to wobble, and Bulma slumped over him, "Smo-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…" Both Bulma and Goku were out like lights, complete with snot bubbles.
A few minutes later, the gas cleared, and the stone wall raised up, "Make fun of me, will they?! Well look who has the last laugh now! Me! Pilaf!" he walked in… and promptly started to wobble before falling asleep himself, "Zzzzzzzzz…."
"He forgot the gas mask." Mai noted as she walked in and stepped over her lord, 'Dumbass.' She concealed her inner thoughts like usual, since she didn't know if Shu felt the same, "Stay with him. I'll get the Dragon Ball." And with only a few minutes of searching, she found it in the pouch on Goku's belt. "Got it! Lower the wall behind me Shu. We just need to wait for Emperor Pilaf to wake up now."
Goku yelled as he punched the wall, and only succeeded in getting a small crack to propagate. "Ugh… so hungry!" Goku fell back and laid spread-eagle on the tiles.
"Damn it! We need to get out of here! Who knows how long we were asleep for!" Bulma stomped her foot, "We can't let that little blue gnome get his way! Goku, isn't there anything you can do? What about that Kamehameha Wave thing?!"
"I'm too hungry! I can never focus my energy well like this!" Goku moaned, but got to his feet, "But I can try!" He set his feet with only a minor wobble, "Kamehame…HA!" He roared, and this time his Ki attack was nowhere near the size of the one he had made back at the Ox King's destroyed castle. The hole he blew in the wall was big enough for his head to squeeze through, but not the rest of him. "…" He wobbled, before falling on his butt and splaying out, "I'm so hungryyyyyy."
"Damn it!" She hurried to the hole and peered through, "I see them! They haven't summoned the dragon yet!" She yelled gleefully, "Come on Goku! We can make it!" She turned and saw Goku making his best impression of a potato while he clutched his stomach in pain. "Damn it Goku!" She cringed, 'Is it really going to be up to me?!' She screamed internally, before seeing a flash, "NO!" She shrieked and turned into a butterfly to get through the hole and then turned quickly into a falcon, flying as fast as she possibly could. She almost faltered when she saw Shenron for the first time.
It was… magnificent. She didn't have time to admire it right now, but it was utterly massive. It was green and hand a winding, snakelike body with green scales, though she did notice it had limbs unlike real snakes. She couldn't pay it any more attention and hurried, though the sound of its voice reverberating across the desert almost knocked her out of the sky, "REFLECT UPON YOUR DESIRES, MORTALS. I SHALL GRANT ANY ONE WISH, BUT ONLY THE ONE."
"EEK!" She had to hurry. She had to hurry! There was no telling what the gnome would wish for! But as she winged it, she was panicking internally, 'What do I even wish for! These guys had weapons earlier and even if they didn't, they still had those awful traps! I don't want to be here forever, and they sure as hell won't be happy with me for stealing it! Even if I go with my stupid boyfriend wish, it won't do any good! Especially with Goku starving! I won't be able to get us out of here by myself! What do I do? What do I do?! Why do I have to be so weak? Goku could have wasted these idiots if he wasn't so hungry!'
"Right, the wish!" Pilaf coughed into his fist, "Eternal Dragon, I wish-"
Bulma's mind went blank and with a BAMF she was back in human form, still way too high in the sky. But she wasn't even paying attention to that. Instead, she screamed the first thing that came to mind at the top of her lungs, "I WISH I WAS MORE LIKE GOKU!"
Shenron's eyes flashed an even more vibrant red, "VERY WELL." The red intensified and a spark shot out, striking Bulma.
And she started to scream. She fell from the sky, still engulfed by Shenron's energy. She hit the sands with a thump that made even the furious Pilaf wince, and continued to writhe, her mouth foaming and her hands on her lower-back. Her screams continued to echo across the desert, reaching even the castle where Goku was trying to get to his feet.
"BULMA!" He cried out as he listened to her agony and hated himself for being so weak that she was put in this position in the first place. He punched the wall harder, and then harder. He roared inhumanly and pounded his little fist into the wall again, eventually getting the walls to break. But a slab on the ceiling also broke and collapsed on him, shattering on his skull and knocking him out.
Bulma's screams finally petered out and she lay still. Her breath came raspy and rough, with her blowing little grains of sand around with each tortured exhale.
"YOUR WISH HAS BEEN GRANTED. FAREWELL." Shenron spoke his last words before flashing. He turned back into yellow lightning and energy and shot back towards the balls. The Dragon Balls rose into the air, engulfed by the torrent of power. They spun rapidly, before all of them shot off in different directions, which each ball looking like a shooting star as they sped away.
Pilaf watched as his dreams flew away, his face dark, "GrrRRrrrRRRrrrrRR!" He was growling in seething rage, "GET THESE TWO BRATS AND PUT THEM IN THE COOKER ROOM! I WANT THEM DEAD!"
"Yes sir!" Mai – hating life with her contract unfulfilled due to the two brats – and Shu raced off to collect Bulma. "You just couldn't keep from causing trouble, could you?!" She spat at the fallen girl. She picked her up and put her over her shoulder.
"Huh?" Shu blinked and stared at her.
"What is it, Shu?" She turned to her partner, who was scratching his head in confusion.
"…Was that always there?" He asked as he pointed at the new appendage colored the same as Bulma's hair hanging limply between her legs.
"Urghhhh." Bulma almost wished she didn't wake up. Her entire body positively throbbed in agony, "W-what?" She rasped, her voice rough.
"Bulma!" She heard some shuffling and then she was being helped into a sitting position, "You're okay!"
"D-define…'okay.'" Bulma moaned, almost choking from how dry and sore her throat was.
"Here." Goku pressed a bottle of water to her lips and she drank greedily, though each swallow hurt, "I…I could hear you screaming." She felt a shiver run through Goku, "You were screaming so loud and I…I couldn't help you!" She let out a little gasp as she stopped drinking, panting heavily.
"G-Goku… where?" She asked, blearily looking around at the all-metal room they were in. She also glanced up and could see the cloud cover through the clear ceiling. 'Shatterproof, no doubt.' She thought cynically.
"Still trapped." Goku confirmed her thoughts, "W-what happened Bulma? It sounded like they were hurting you really bad!"
Her thoughts were still kind of jumbled, "Where'd you get the water?" She mumbled instead of answering his question.
"Oh please." She scowled as Pilaf's voice came over an intercom, "We're not barbarians here. You at least get a last meal and drink before your execution."
She sat up fully, noticing a small table with a couple sandwiches atop it. Maybe that was what she had been smelling? Since when was her nose so sensitive? Goku had clearly already had his fill, since his plate was empty. "What do you want, Pilaf?"
"What do I want?" The little troll sounded almost like a tea kettle for a moment, "What I want is my Dragon Balls back! But you did a magnificent job ruining that dream, didn't you, little miss blue? How DARE you smother my dreams of conquest just as they were about to boil over?!" She heard a slapping sound coming over the intercom before some feedback made her cringe, so she imagined he slapped his hand down, "But Pilaf is a kind and tender master. I imagine you've already seen the glass above you, no? Well come morning, that glass will act to focus the hellish rays of the sun in this desert! I'll get to watch every exquisite moment of you both shriveling up into little mummies! I very much look forward to tomorrow!" His obnoxious laughter rang before cutting out abruptly.
"I don't even have any sunblock!" Bulma's still somewhat addled words were, before she shook her head and almost fell over, "No, forget my complexion! I'm too young to be a mummy! Goku, what are we going to do?!" She stood and tried to turn to her little friend, but something was off, and she immediately fell back over, 'W-What the hell? What's up with my balance? Is the room slanted?'
Goku first tried punching one of the walls and dented it in the shape of his fist. That was best he was able to do however, and even multiple blows to the same spot didn't work. "Well, maybe the top isn't as strong?" He leapt before she could say a word of protest, and his fist hit the glass ceiling… followed swiftly by his skull, "Owie!" He crouched in front of her, holding the lump on his head.
She clenched her fists, "Damn it… isn't there anything we can do?!" She stood slowly – thinking about her fall minutes ago – and looked around, trying to find something – anything – that they could use to escape.
Goku was still holding his head, 'I…I think that's tonight, right?' He turned to look at her, "I…I could t-" His eyes bulged, "t-t-t-t-t…" He raised a shaking hand and was pointing at her, "T-t-t-t-t"
"What is it?" Bulma forced herself to stop panicking when she realized Goku sounded dumbfounded, "W-what is it?" She again moved slowly and even then, she had to windmill her arms a little bit to stay upright before looking at him strangely, "Do I have something on my face?"
Goku finally seemed to find his voice again, "TAIL!" He pointed.
"Bwuh?" Bulma did a spit-take at his words as she turned her head, "What are you talking about Goku? I don't have a t-t-t-t…" The blue, furry tail – same color as her hair, her mind absently provided – wiggled a bit.
"BULMA! WHY DO YOU HAVE A TAIL?!" Goku's stunned scream rang in the cell.
"W-W-W-WHY DO I HAVE A TAIL?!" She screamed in return, nearly deafening the two of them as the sound reverbed in the metal room, forcing them to clamp their hands over their ears. Bulma's ears were on fire and she fell to the floor, moaning in pain. She grabbed the tail and yanked, and she howled. Now her entire lower back area was on fire.
"What did you do?!" Goku hurried over to her and started to rub her lower back, forcing a moan of relief from her. "Bulma how? What did you do?"
"I…" She struggled to answer as she just opened and closed her mouth repeatedly, "I…" She was almost hyperventilating as her mind flew through information, "I…" She stopped. Literally stopped. She wasn't even breathing for a few seconds and started to choke. Goku thumped her back when he realized this, and she took a deep, greedy breath of air. She panted for a few seconds, before licking her lips. "I… I wished…" She stopped again, before leaning her head forward and resting it on his shoulder, "I… I wished I was more like you…" And now that she had started, she wasn't stopping, "I-I-I didn't know what to do! I just knew I had to stop him! My wish was stupid and greedy and awful and even if I still wanted it, it would have been stupid as hell to use it in the middle of enemies!" She was starting to motormouth, "I had no idea what to wish for, but he was already there and already talking! I-I-I just blurted the first thing that popped in my head! I was so jealous of how easily you could fly and how I couldn't even shoot one tiny, stupid little Ki blast without getting exhausted!" She was crying, tears pouring from her eyes, "I…I wished I was more like you… And Shenron… Shenron must have…" She trailed off.
Goku pulled her into a hug and rubbed her back as she sobbed into his gi. "Turned you into a Saiyan…" He whispered. He felt her nod into his neck, and he couldn't help but smile, "That means I'm not alone anymore…right?"
She let out a wet giggle, wrapping her arms around his neck and squeezing him like he was her lifeline. "You'll always have me, Goku. You'll never be alone again…"
"But Bulma." Goku stopped and backed out of her arms, "There's… there's something I need to tell you." He sounded… worried. "There… there was one thing I never told you about… you know."
She opened her mouth and closed it, "W-what is it, Goku?" What could have her strong, fearless friend looking so… fidgety?
"D-do you remember about a month back?" He asked her, and for some reason he wasn't meeting her eyes, "When I went into the witch bomb house after the sun started going down and closed all the blinds and refused to come out until the next day?"
Bulma blink, "Uhmmm? Yeah?" She was supremely confused, "W-what does that have to do with anything?"
"Do you remember what day it was?" He asked softly and met her eyes.
She worked her bottom lip. Why did he look so…so… ashamed? "I…I don't."
Goku closed his eyes, "It was the night of the full moon."
She let out a nervous giggle, "Y-what?" She giggled again, "Goku what are you talking about? Are you afraid of the moon?"
"Bulma." He opened his eyes again and stared at her with as hard a gaze as she had ever seen on him. She felt her spine straighten, "You have to listen okay. Listen and just trust me. You can never look at the full moon again if you're not in the middle of nowhere. Or at least, you can't look at it if I'm not there too."
Her mouth was dry again, "B…but I love the moon." She whispered, "I always have. I've loved staring at it all my life. W-why can't-" She stopped, "And the full moon is tonight…"
"I know." He whispered, "You-you'll know soon enough." He finished, his voice trailing off. He clenched a fist, "It…it's the only way we're getting out of here… Remember… don't look at it. If you see it, look away as fast as possible."
Bulma's heart was hammering in her chest as Goku motioned her away and she pressed herself into one of the corners. He took a number of deep breaths with his eyes closed. He seemed to almost be meditating, but Bulma knew he wasn't because of how tense he looked. "Stay away from me." He commanded before finally, he opened his eyes and jerked his head up to stare outside.
Bulma's head followed his before she clapped a hand to her eyes and almost forced her head back down. With how apprehensive Goku sounded she had to follow his instructions. She hesitantly removed her hand and sucked in a gasp.
Goku's eyes had turned red. And then his body jerked. And then jerked again. And then she heard it. It sounded like a drum beat. Bulma was astonished when she realized she was hearing his heartbeat. From across the room! And with each beat, he jerked. And then Bulma realized he was getting bigger before her very eyes. His muscles were bulging, and his clenched teeth showed off his growing incisors. All four of them had turned into vicious-looking fangs. His clothes tore right off his body from his increased mass, and Bulma watched in abject terror as the same dark red fur from his tail started to cover his body.
He had grown to the point he couldn't fit in the room anymore. His ape-like body touched the ceiling and broke right through it. He swung his arms and with the sound of wrenching metal and shattering stone, their prison was destroyed. Bulma screamed as rubble fell around her, though thankfully the monster Goku had turned into seemed to have some semblance of sanity left. "GOOOOOOOO!" She screamed again as his rumbling voice rang through the air, right before he started tearing his way out of the prison and towards the rest of the castle. A backhanded fist destroyed a parapet before a full punch collapsed the main dome.
She hurried to escape as well, leaping and pulling herself from the destroyed room and running in the opposite direction. She stumbled several times as her new tail continued throwing off her balance, but she was adapting rapidly. She had to or she'd die, crushed by the falling rocks. She was gasping for breath already. Her heart was apparently trying to bust through her ribcage. The amount of adrenaline running through her veins could not be healthy.
She was a hair-trigger short of a full-blown panic attack over what had become of her friend.
She had to stop short when she realized she was high up, and her near-hysteria-addled mind didn't even consider transforming and flying down. Her ears quirked when she heard a different sound amongst all the crashes and destruction Goku was causing. Propellers. She turned her head and was astounded that she could even make out the Pilaf gang's facial features despite the vast distance that they had covered in the plane.
She heard Goku roar and turned to find him hefting a giant piece of rubble over his head. He threw it and knocked the plane right out of the sky. She winced when she heard their faint cries before the vehicle impacted the ground. She shook her head. She had to get away! Goku even had told her to stay away from him! Since he had stayed in their house only until morning, she imagine he would also turn back to his normal self once the moon went down. She just had to hide until then!
Goku's tail slamming into her platform cut those thoughts off, and she screamed as she plummeted. She transformed into her falcon form and glided to the ground. But she was too shaken to really keep it up, so she turned back as soon as she touched down. Tons of rubble landed near her and she screamed again, covering herself. And then the earth shook underneath her, literally springing her into the air like a trampoline. Trembling like a leaf in a windstorm, Bulma looked up. He was there. His eyes were featureless pools of spilt blood. He had no pupils to speak of and she could see slobber in his gaping maw. He raised a hand over his head, claws pointed out, and swung.
She took what she knew could be her last breath before screaming, "GOKUUUUUUUUUU!" She closed her eyes and pointlessly tried to shield herself with her arms. And she cried, knowing how much Goku would hate himself in the morning. Knew how devastated her innocent, kind, wonderful little friend would feel. She felt a blast of wind hit her and she trembled. And trembled.
One eye popped open and she peered from between her arms. Slowly, shakily, she lowered them, and she stared. The massive hand was twitching not three feet from her. "B-BUL-MA?" The hand twitched as if it was going to clench around her, and then started to back away, "B-BULMA…" The beast started to roar, backing up and aggressively clenching his head while his entire body trembled, "NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Goku threw himself away from her violently, landing over a dozen meters away in the sand, "NO I WON'T! NOT AGAIN!" Goku reared back before launching himself head-first into the sand. The earthquake he caused rattled her bones. His howl rang through the desert air as he reared back up and pounded the ground with his massive, meaty fists, "NEVER AGAIN!" A bright light started to shine in front of him, before a gigantic red beam dozens of times larger than even Master Roshi's MAX Power Kamehameha shot off into the distance. The explosion nearly deafened and blinded her, even from miles away. When she managed to shake herself, she was astonished to see the giant mushroom cloud in the sky, miles away.
"N-not again?" Bulma questioned, before clapping both hands over her mouth and nose, "No… no… Goku no…" She started to cry. Ugly cry. She cried for her innocent young friend, knowing now just what he had been so afraid of. Why he always trailed off whenever he talked about his grandpa's death. Why he always looked so ashamed whenever the subject came up. "Goku…" He was now slamming his head repeatedly into the sand. Bulma didn't even realize she was flying until she was right over him, and she couldn't even be excited about it. He was now writhing on the sand, looking almost as if he were doing a really poor 'mountain climber' exercise. His nails looked to be digging into his skull as he snarled pitifully. "Goku…!" She called out to him and he jerked.
He removed his hands from over his head and snarled, "NO! BULMA NO! YOU HAVE!" He interrupted himself with another snarl and another fist to the sand, kicking a wave of it up, "YOU! YOU HAVE TO STAY AWAY!"
"You won't hurt me…" She whispered, knowing full well he would hear her. She started to descend and landed on his snout. A full-body flinch from his monstrous form rocked her and she had to windmill her arms to stay upright, "You could never hurt me." She got on her knees and put her forehead against his.
She heard the grinding of sand and knew he was repeatedly grabbing fistfuls of the desert with his massive arms. "B-BULMA…" He whispered, and gradually, she felt him settle. He was still restless and still would occasionally jerk or crunch some more sand in his fists for the rest of the night or whip his tail… but for the first time in his life, Goku was somewhat calm while transformed into the Ōzaru.
"I'm sorry Goku." She started to cry again, "I'm so sorry that happened to you!" She shook as he took a trembling breath, realizing his genius friend had figured it out, "I'm so sorry about your grandpa…"
Liquid started to pour from the massive ape's eyes, as he too began to cry.
They had spent the night like that. It wasn't easy. Once the emotions had run their course and the panic receded, Bulma had started analyzing her friend. Even with her on top of him, he wasn't fully in control of himself. Every once in a while a ferocious shudder ripped through his frame as he suppressed the urge for violence. He didn't speak much at all, and when he did his vocabulary was limited. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought he had gone feral while in this giant form. It didn't totally fit, but she understood from his need for violence that this form was supposed to be wild.
Eventually though, it ended. As the first rays of sunlight peaked over the horizon, Goku started to shrink. Bulma levitated – consciously this time, to her delight – and followed him down. He groaned as he turned human again and stayed on his hands and knees in front of her. When he looked up, tears started pooling in his eyes, "B-Bulma…"
"Come here." She pulled him into a hug, completely uncaring of his nudity; something she would have been freaking out about just two months ago. "Shhhhh… I'm okay Goku." She said tenderly.
"But…But I could have…" He hiccupped as he hugged her for all he was worth.
"You didn't." She replied. Not sharply, but with finality. "You got us out, Goku, and you didn't touch a hair on my head."
"I would have." He cried out stubbornly, "If you hadn't screamed my name-"
"Is that what happened?" She asked gently, and he stiffened, "When…" She bit her lip.
Goku backed up and rubbed his eyes, before shaking his head, "The first time I transformed, Grandpa managed to cut off my tail. That transformed me back to normal. I didn't remember a thing when I woke up, and just wondered if my tail had run away." He admitted and despite the seriousness of the situation, Bulma had to giggle behind her hand. Typical Goku, "Grandpa told me to never look at the full moon again, but I looked at it a few times and thought grandpa was just being weird." He looked down, "Then my tail grew back… and I looked at the moon because I thought I knew better."
"And you transformed." She finished, looking down, "Was that when…?" She trailed off.
"He managed to wake me up you know." Goku's voice was far away and he was glaring at the horizon, "Screamed my name just like you did. It woke me up." He clenched his fists so hard his knuckles popped as he choked back a sob, "And the first thing I saw was my grandpa's mangled body in my giant hand. I had nearly squeezed the life out of him. Almost… popped him like a grape."
"!" She clapped a hand to her mouth as she tried futilely to hold back tears of her own.
"He told me not to blame myself with his last breaths." Goku whispered, "But how could I not? How could I not when grandpa died right in my hand?"
"Oh Goku." She breathed as she kneeled down and pulled him into her chest, "I'm so sorry." She whispered, "I'm so, so sorry. You deserve so much better than that."
He clutched her like a lifeline, "Before he died, he told me that he had found me near where a 'star had fallen from the sky.' He told me that I shouldn't blame myself, but that now that there was proof that I could think while transformed, that I needed to get control of myself." He pulled away, "That area of Mt Paozu that's completely destroyed? That's where I practiced every single full moon. I… I never succeeded." He admitted his failure, "Every time I tried, it was like I was staring through a puddle of blood. Everything about that transformation just wants to destroy. I told you Saiyans were a warrior race, right?" Bulma nodded, "That was an understatement. We were born to do one thing: fight. From what little information mom left me in my pod, I know that we destroyed our entire planet in a war and had to conquer and steal another one."
Bulma's blood ran cold. So, her… new race… really were conquerors from outer space. "I guess your…" She paused, before shakily smiling at him, "Our people…weren't really good people, huh?"
He shook his head, "And the Ōzaru Transformation takes everything that's bad…. And just make it…"
"Worse." She finished. She leaned forward and put both hands on his shoulders, "Look at me, Goku. You beat it." He looked mulish at her words, "Ahp, ahp, ahp! I don't want to hear any arguments! You're a good person Goku. Any other Saiyan would have happily crushed me, if what you're saying is true. You were hurting yourself just to keep from hurting me. You. BEAT. It. And if you did it once, you can do it again. I believe in you."
He swallowed, before hugging her once more, just barely able to keep from crying again.
"So, what are we going to do now?" The sun was now shining, and their moment in the sands had long passed. They had raided what was left of Pilaf's castle for clothes for Goku, though he was not too happy about the offerings. Bulma herself hadn't needed much and had only helped herself to some capsules she had found. She smirked brightly when she found them full of some of the tech Pilaf had used. More toys for her to play with. Bulma was walking beside Goku, except very… gingerly. It was better than last night, where she had been pratfalling from the moment she woke up inside that prison, but she was still having to take special care just to keep from falling over.
"Well…" Goku was back to his normal self, and if anything, he looked even lighter than he had been these months that she had known him. As if the… ahem… monkey on his back had gone away, "I want to find Grandpa's Dragon Ball before we go home."
Bulma winced, "Ah crap! I knew I had forgotten something!" She cringed, which put a worried look on Goku's face, "…I'm sorry Goku. I was going to tell you when we had all of them so you could be prepared to catch it, but Pilaf screwed everything up. The Dragon Balls scatter all around the world every time a wish is made on it."
"What?!" Goku gasped, "You mean my grandpa's ball could be anywhere in the world right now?!"
"Yeah…" She winced, "And it gets worse." She pulled out the radar and clicked it on. She turned it to show him.
"Huh?! Where are all the balls? There's nothing there!" Goku exclaimed, now looking worried.
"Yeah. After the wish has been made, the balls turn to stone for a year to recharge. They're impossible to find while they're like that." She looked down, "I'm sorry, Goku. This wasn't supposed to happen. You weren't supposed to lose your prized Dragon Ball. With how you can fly it should have been easy to just catch it before it blasted off!"
"Hey, it's okay Bulma. We can just go searching for them next year, can't we?" Goku patted her on the leg.
She slowly smiled, "We can, can't we?" She nodded, "Yeah, we can totally do that! Make it our little thing!" She put her left hand on her side and cocked her hip, "But in the meantime, what will we do?"
"Oooh, I know! We can go to old man Roshi!" Goku exclaimed, "He said his sister knew magic, remember? We can go train with him for a while!"
"How old must she be?" Bulma mumbled to herself, before snickering. She shook her head, "I like it, little buddy! But we have something you promised to do first!"
"What was that?" Goku tilted his head as he tried to remember.
"You promised to show me your ship!" Bulma wiggled her fingers with a dirty look on her face, thinking of getting her hands on some alien tech the same way Roshi would think about nubile young girls.
"Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that!" Goku laughed, "Yeah, let's go, Bulma! I can get some better clothes at home too!" He turned around and presented his back to her. "Hop on!"
"Did you forget?" Bulma asked, a joyous smile on her face, "I didn't come out of this trip empty-handed you know!" She wagged her tongue playfully before shakily rising into the air. "Practice makes perfect, yeah?"
"Ooh, I totally didn't even realize you did it Bulma!" He rose up and gave her a quick hug, "You're awesome! You really did it!"
"I have way more energy now too." She admitted, "Is being a Saiyan really that much of an advantage? I feel like I have enough power to shoot off five beams before I drop now!"
"Well… what happened when you made the wish?"
She landed back down to conserve energy, "Well, like I told you, I was panicking. So, I made the wish in midair and the rest… kind of went blank for me. I'm guessing I fell from the sky and landed pretty hard." She frowned, "Now that I think about it, I'm surprised I'm not still hurt."
"Well, remember that we heal faster." Goku told her, "And from how loud you were screaming, I guess it must have seemed life-threatening. Maybe you got a Zenkai Boost from the transformation?"
"A what now?" She blinked at him.
"Hmmm, the pod could probably explain it more, but when Saiyans recover from really bad injuries we become stronger than we were before we were injured. There wasn't really a name for it according to mom, but she liked calling it the Zenkai."
Bulma snorted and started to grumble playfully, "Stupid cheating Saiyans." She giggled at his affronted look, "Kidding, kidding. Besides…" She grinned sharply, showing off her newly resized incisors, "Now I'm a stupid cheating Saiyan too!" She started to laugh, and after a moment Goku began giggling too. "Anyway, I've spent more time in this stupid castle than I'd wish on even my worst enemy! Let's get out of here!"
"Let's!" They rose into the air – one much more stably than the other – and after a moment, they both rocketed towards the horizon.
And that's a wrap!
So, this is actually one of a couple fic ideas I've had for Dragon Ball. This will be the main fic if I end up writing more than one.
If you're wondering about the Mercedes Benz briefly mentioned during diablo desert… shit man, I was just as surprised to see that it was canon. Pilaf drove one right after Goku's meeting with Grandpa Gohan in the Baba saga. Quite amusing to see real-world products in this totally fictional setting. Even the planet is totally different.
The tail colors: If you don't like it, tough. :p Don't worry though. Not all Saiyans will have technicolored tails.
If any of you are wondering about Power Levels… let me just stop you right there because they will NOT be relevant unless Scouters are present. And even then, I'd probably still gloss over them. If you're wondering why, allow me to direct you to this fact: The Movie 6 pamphlet – which despite all logic dictating otherwise is somehow a valid source – lists Emperor Pilaf as having a power level of 40, Shu and Mai at 20, Oolong at 10, as well as a level of 900 for Ox King. Daizenshu 7 lists Goku's power at 10.
Read that again.
While I'm not aiming to bash any characters – I quite hate when fics do that – I've also clearly started moving other characters in the direction of irrelevance. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast in this one. My plans include putting other characters in brighter spotlight, and that means some canon characters who DID get the spotlight are going to have less of it.
The second idea I had is as close to a pure crack fic as you would ever get out of me, because there is literally NO WAY a peggy-sue style fic could be anything BUT crack when the setting is Dragon Ball. Time/reality travel is involved, and the pairing is Goku with Kefla, 21, Vados, and Chronoa. And Broly with Bulma. That should tell you exactly how crack it is.
My third idea is set in the Tournament of Power with a altered backstory, and ACTUALLY has a concrete ending. I COULD ACTUALLY FINISH A FIC IF I WROTE IT GUYS! Would be a Goku/Caulifa/Kale pairing. (This one is already being written and will be posted once it's finished. I'M GOING TO FINISH A FIC GUYS.)
Idea 4/5: Either Goku or Gohan is a Legendary type Super Saiyan. If Goku: He transforms into the Ikari Form either when Krillin dies in DB OR… in an alternate reality where Piccolo's sacrifice could not stop Nappa's Bomber DX and Gohan dies right before Goku can reach him with the Senzu. If Gohan, when Piccolo sacrifices himself.
Idea 6: Post Cell and they're making their wishes to revive everyone and refuse to give up on Goku returning. They spend a little while convincing Goku that he's being ridiculous and wearing him down, until eventually Goku gives in. Only for Supreme Kai Chronoa (not a Xenoverse cross. She's replacing Shin.) to pop up and explain that she's taking Goku for training/punishment and can't allow them to wish him back right now. Goku would not only become a Kaiōshin Trainee but since it's Chronoa, he would also train with some limited time powers. Basically, he'd be learning Time-Skip like Hit.
Any one of these could end up written and posted as a one-shot pilot in an idea bin like I created for my One Piece ideas, though I am not promising anything right now.
And again, come say hi in the new Discord! It's pretty empty right now since we have so few members (and too many different timezones) but that shouldn't take long to fix! Discord . gg / 3ZwnRbh. Sorry for the bad link last time! I didn't know these invites expired.