Age 749, Sunday, September 9, Ruins of Fry Pan Mountain, near Fry Pan Village
“Hyahh!” Chichi’s backfist smashed into my mouth, causing me to stumble backwards, my balance lost by her surprise hit.
She’d put considerable strength behind that one.
I hastily assumed the Tiger stance and met her following charge. I snatched her overextended wrist and used the momentum to slam her body into the dirt, dazing her with the impact.
I dropped down with an elbow, intent on finishing the slightly less than friendly spar, but Chichi rolled away from me, sending a kick to my head as she did so.
My forearm blocked the kick fairly well, the pressure of it sending me across the dirt in a roll. With a burst of strength, I pushed off the ground and spun back into a standing position, already having re-assumed the Tiger stance.
With a deep breath, I stared Chichi down.
She was breathing hard, her once immaculate, blue cheongsam ripped and torn in places. Her arms and legs were riddled with bruises and various cuts from the scuffle we’d just taken part of.
“Up for more?” I asked curiously and with slight concern.
Chichi considered the question before dropping her stance and shaking her head. “I think we’ve done enough for one day, wouldn’t you agree?”
I stared at our surroundings. “We’ve really done a number on the trees and ground, huh?”
She gave a distinctly unladylike snort at that before we started making our way back to her father’s home.
I opened my notifications to read through the most recent ones.
[Martial Arts] has leveled up!
Martial Arts (Lv 50 – 3%/Passive): Many ages ago, the first people watched animals in nature, marveling at their different methods of catching prey; the ferociousness of the tiger, the patience of the mantis, and so on. Naturally, they began to emulate their movements and taught others to follow these same movements. Passively increases STR, VIT and AGI by 51%.
Known Styles: Tiger Style, Palm Karate Style
Through combat against a vicious opponent, you’ve gained +2 to STR and +1 to VIT!
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 27 (1,200/28,000 XP)
HP: [5,800/10,562] ; 32,136
MP:  ; 34,624
Ki: [9,500/14,403] ; 43,822
STR:  ; 233.24
VIT:  ; 227.36
AGI:  ; 235.20
INT:  ; 143.55
WIS:  ; 140.65
Battle Power: [118.3], 231
I dismissed the windows and simply took the time to think. I’d progressed very slightly in terms of strength in the last month— mostly because my time had been spent escorting my dad back home, and then Chichi and her father to hers.
Baba’s words came to mind once more: “Don’t lose yourself in your training, Ten. You’ll forget why you’re doing it in the first place.”
She had, of course, been correct. These past few weeks had taken a great weight off of my shoulders— one that I had only been aware of only in the distant and abstract sense.
I had no real way to describe it aside from something stressful and highly unpleasant.
Reuniting with my family, spending time with Chichi and even escorting her back to Fry Pan Mountain— rather, the Fry Pan Ruin, I supposed I should call it.
“Say, Chichi…” I started, having gotten an idea.
“Yes?” She glanced at me from the side, before fixing her eyes on the pleasant trees around us once more.
“Why didn’t you rebuild your old palace? The one that Master Roshi blew up.” I felt curious. “You seemed quite sad while sifting through the ruins if I remember right.”
Chichi blinked, looked at me again and replied.
“After father’s scolding at the hands of the master, he’s decided to not rebuild, as it was a sign of his greed and willingness to kill others over trinkets.” Chichi explained slowly. “That’s why we still live in the house in the village.”
And what a village it was, I thought as we reached the place in question.
Where there had been broken down, abandoned buildings, there were now cozy homes, stores, a well kept park and even a little school.
Looking at this place always amazed me. It was crazy how people could simply repopulate an area.
I watched as the villagers exchanged warm greetings with Chichi, engaging with her in conversation.
People of all races, ages and walks of life had come to this town in search of a bright future.
With the Diablo Desert and the lawless regions around us, this town was beginning to make a stand as a haven for those who cared for their fellow man.
I felt a smile crawling its way on my face. The Ox-King was truly turning a new leaf in his life.
“Who’s he?” One of the villager’s kids pointed at me.
“Kyo!” The old lady next to the boy— his grandmother, probably— whacked him on the back of the head. “Show some manners, boy! This is the princess’ consort!”
“I’m the what?” Woah, that was a new one. Chichi’s response to this was going red in the face.
“Begging your pardon, of course, but is that not the case, Mr. Ten?” The old lady insisted, a knowing look in her eyes. I could tell she was fighting down the amusement at Chichi’s reaction.
“Chichi and I are dating.” I confirmed, feeling a little embarrassed for some unknown reason— perhaps a vestigial feeling from my days as a consummate introvert. “It’s a bit too early to call me a consort, though.”
“Nonsense.” The old lady replied. “I’m sure the two of you will get married in no time!”
This old lady…
“If you’ll excuse us, Ten and I have to go see my father.” Chichi seemed to have found her nerve, walking past the old lady and dragging me along with her.
I heard the children giggle in our wake. Apparently my eventual marriage with Chichi was a matter of course.
“Chichi?” I said carefully as we entered her father’s home. “Do people really think we’re getting married?”
That seemed to get her worked up.
“What do you mean?” She asked, her voice calm but her eyes fierce.
Be very careful, Ten. I thought.
“Well, we’ve only known each other for a few months…” I started. “It seems a little ridiculous, doesn’t it?”
“..” Chichi said nothing for a moment. “You don’t think it can happen?”
“No, no! That’s not what I mean!” I said in alarm. “I’m just saying that’s not how we do things where I’m from.”
“… The city folk tend to marry and divorce quickly.” Was her reply.
Did I detect a note of disdain?
“Because they marry young.” I felt annoyed at the dig to my culture. “I’m not getting married until I’m good and ready.”
“Good!” Chichi replied, smiling.
“I don’t care if the villagers keep trying to— what?” I stopped, thrown off by her smile.
“I said: ‘good’.” Chichi repeated.
“I’m not marrying until I’m well and ready, either.” She said, taking a seat on the living room couch and patting the spot next to her.
I stared at her for a moment before sitting down as well.
“I used to be obsessed with finding someone to live the rest of my life with.” Chichi admitted, looking down. “As the princess, my father expected me to find a husband— a strong husband to inherit his lands and treasure.”
I took her hand in mine. “That’s not why I—”
“I know.” Chichi cut me off, squeezing my hand gently. “That’s pretty obvious. I’m only trying to share my perspective with you. That’s all.”
“Okay.” I understood. “So, what happened to make everything change?”
She didn’t immediately react to the question.
“You did.” She finally answered, giving me another fierce look. “You rarely reacted to my advances, you always seemed to be focused on something else. It.. hurt.”
“Oh.” I swallowed thickly. “That wasn’t my intent.”
“Yes, your.. [Gamer’s Mind], you called it?”
“Eventually, I noticed that your appearance of disinterest didn’t mesh with your actions.” Chichi continued, feeling emboldened. “You were always willing to help me, to spend time with me.”
I smiled, remembering our first few weeks together, training, sparring, having rich conversations on the topics of philosophy and books in general.
“I really do like being with you.” I said truthfully, watching her cheeks turn a faint pink.
“Th-that’s when I knew.” She said, turning a little quiet. “I wanted to travel the world with you, Ten. I didn’t dare ask you, before. I wasn’t sure if you’d want me around.”
I didn’t reply, wondering how I missed all of this. Her character sheet had never said anything about this— but then again, I never made it a habit to scan those who were close to me like that.
“Ten…” Chichi said slowly, biting her lip nervously as she visibly tried to gather some courage. “When you leave, can I… can I come with you?”
I didn’t answer immediately. Aside from escorting my father and Dyran home, as well as Chichi and her father here, I’d never had a solid companion.
“I— maybe I shouldn’t have—”
I stopped whatever she was saying with a kiss to her lips, pulling her close. She fought against it for the barest of moments before finally kissing me back.
I felt her hand tightening around my own.
We eventually backed away from each other, out of breath.
“Does that answer your question?” I smiled.
The radiant smile she sent back was something I’d remember until the day I die.
You’ve massively increased your Reputation with Chichi!
You are now Exalted!
I waved the notification away, not needing a game to let me know that sort of information.
“I had planned on staying with my mom and dad for a while before heading to Roshi’s.” I admitted, watching her face fall at the information and speaking quickly after. “But I’m sure they’ll understand if I go with you. I’ll get them to visit us, instead!”
“That sounds… good, I think.” Chichi nodded. “I don’t want your parents to think badly of me.”
I snorted. “Mom loves you.”
“And your father?” Chichi asked. “We haven’t had anything more than a passing conversation.”
My good humor fell at that. The nightleaf powder had helped Dad with his nightmare filled, restless nights, but that only hid his troubles. It didn’t solve them. Only he could do that.
“My dad has his own issues to deal with, right now.” I said slowly. “But I know that he likes you.”
That seemed to satisfy her.
“Good.” Chichi replied. She opened her mouth to say more, but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Chichi’s face fell.
“I’ll get it.” She said glumly and left my embrace.
I watched her go, thinking about what to do next.
I pulled up my skill window, reading through the list and focusing on the skill I’d actually been trying to level up.
Techie (Lv 11-88%/Passive): Your keen interest in technology will bring you far in life, as it is the future of your race. At the moment, your theoretical knowledge is extensive, though you only have moderate experience with the “hands-on” aspect of your education.
Considering my boat kept getting damaged, I figured it’d be smart to level this skill up.
When I’d told Dad about it, he’d laughingly said I should build my own hovercraft, much like that company in West City— Capsule Corporation— did.
They were the ones who invented the Hoi-Poi capsule, as well as the many modes of transportation the capsules could hold.
It was almost unreal, how much power that company held over the earth.
I shook off these thoughts when Chichi came back, looking a little annoyed.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, dismissing the window and standing up.
“There’s a group in town, asking to speak with my father.” Chichi replied, looking off to the side in annoyance. “Of all the times for him to not be here…”
I snorted and waved goodbye to her. “The burdens of leadership, eh? Have fun!”
“Just for that, you’re coming with me.” She pulled me off of the couch, just when I was starting to get comfortable.
“Come on.” I tried shaking her hand off to no avail. “Can’t we just ignore them?”
“No.” She denied as we exited the building.
She finally let go of my arm, smiling at my put out look. “You’re not going to let me deal with these people alone, are you?”
“I just might.” I tried to glare at her, but there was no heat in it. I sighed. “Fine, let’s just get this over with.”
“Thank you, Ten.”
“Don’t mention it.”
As we exited the house, I saw the same old lady who had been making insinuations about us earlier.
“Ah, Mr. Ten.” She greeted once more, before turning to Chichi. “If you’ll allow me to lead the way, princess…”
“By all means.”
She led us through the rebuilt town, over to the square.
Months ago, that square had been filled with the bodies of the various criminals and thieves out to steal Ox-King’s treasure.
Now, it was clean, with shrubberies and trees scattered about. At its center lay a large fountain.
Normally, children would have been milling around, but it was empty, save for the group the old lady had mentioned.
Never trust a stranger. I thought as I eyed this new group, comprised of a pig man in overalls, a wild haired young boy in an open blue gi, red wristbands, dark blue shoes, and a red pole on his back. The final one was a blue haired girl wearing… a bunny outfit?
Just who were they?
I glanced to my right. Chichi was as confused as I was, though she was already going through the motions of greeting her new visitors.
“Welcome to New Fry Pan!” Chichi smiled, eyeing the group curiously. “How can I help you?”
“You’re not the Ox-King.” The girl pointed out, moving ahead of the two.
Bulma – Lv 13
Now that was interesting. A genius, huh?
I wondered what the other two read as.
Oolong – Lv 10
I wondered what it would take for someone to gain the title of pervert, before shaking the thought off and focusing on the shapeshifting aspect.
Baba had mentioned the existence of the skill. I wondered if it was something I could learn.
“I’m the King’s daughter.” Chichi replied curtly, a little frost seeping into her tone. “So any questions you may have, I’m sure I can answer them.”
The two ladies glared at each other.
The blue haired one— Bulma— opened her mouth, but the boy in the gi interrupted her.
“I heard the old Ox-King is scary strong!” The boy pushed Bulma aside, pumping his arms in excitement and completely ignoring the annoying girl’s mutters about being surrounded by morons. “Where is he?”
Goku – Lv 20
Level 20? Not bad.
I invoked [Insight] on him as Chichi began to explain where her father was and why he was currently unavailable.
Son Goku – Lv 20
Race – Saiyan
Age – 12
Ki: 25,000 [Dormant]
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral
Description: Hailing from Mt Paozu, Goku is accompanying Bulma on her quest to gather up the Dragonballs in the hopes of finding someone strong to fight against.
He is currently bummed out that the Ox-King isn’t here to fight.
Battle Power: 92
What the hell…
Saiyan? Son Goku— as in the Ox-King’s old friend, Gohan? A quest for the Dragonballs?
There was so much to unpack, there.
It was then that I noticed the furry tail waving behind him.
Just what was a Saiyan?
Quest Forcibly Initiated
Figure out what a Saiyan is.
Failure: Possible destruction of the universe.
Of course. Leave it to the game to do something like that.
“Well, that’s not what I’m here for.” Bulma cut in. “My name’s Bulma add I was wondering if you have a Dragonball…? It’s a small orange crystal ball.”
Chichi stiffened, giving me a quick glance.
I gestured for her to let me handle this one.
I invoked [Insight] on the blue haired girl, quickly reading through her description.
Bulma Briefs – Lv 13
Race – Human
Age – 16
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral
Description: Bulma is a high schooler on a quest: to gather up the Dragonballs and wish for the perfect boyfriend.
Having already gathered five of the requisite 7, she hopes to get the sixth one with no issue.
She is currently staring at you, wondering why you’re staring at nothing.
Battle Power: 2
I dismissed the window, shoving my right hand in my pocket, fingers curling around the 7-star Dragonball.
Gathering the Dragonballs hadn’t been anywhere near my list of priorities.
Hmm… how to go about this?
“Is he stupid?” Bulma bluntly asked Chichi, who went red with anger.
I stifled my own anger, as well. I was going to play nice, but that comment sealed her fate.
I now realized who it was I was talking to. Not ten minutes prior to this, I had been thinking about the famous Capsule Corporation.
This was the president’s daughter, Bulma Briefs, hailed by everyone to be a genius among geniuses. The teachers at South City had always used her as a shining example of the school system.
I supposed there was a hint of truth to that, if she figured out how Dragonballs work and gathered most of them already.
Bad luck for her that she felt the need to insult me.
Besides, a perfect boyfriend was a stupid wish compared to answering the question that has been plaguing my thoughts ever since I saw the first notification.
Who gave me these powers?
“Not stupid.” I smiled, staring the girl down as I pulled out my Dragonball. “Just wondering why I should give you this.”
“That’s…” She looked excited for a second before realizing her blunder. “Um…”
I smirked, amused at her floundering.
“Well, what do you want for it?” She finally asked.
“1,000,000,000 Zeni.” I said bluntly, grinning savagely at her discomfort.
“What!?” The pig-man, Oolong, having been quiet this whole time, cried out in shock. “You could buy an entire village with that kind of money!”
“Tough luck.” I gave an uncaring shrug, placing the Dragonball in my pocket and into my inventory— a neat trick I’d learned in my off-time. “That’s the only way you’ll be getting this Dragonball off of me.”
Bulma gave an angry frown, before turning to the wild boy, whispering furiously to him.
“I think she’s trying to convince him to attack.” I spoke slowly. “He’s fairly strong.”
“You think so?” Chichi replied.
“That he’s strong or that she’s convincing him to attack us?”
“Both.” I smiled. “He’s close to you in power.”
“And you?” She asked.
“In my unenhanced state, he has a chance. If I apply my passives, however…”
“How about this?” Bulma interrupted our conversation gesturing at the hesitant fighter beside her. “If you can beat Son Goku here, then I’ll give you all of my Dragonballs! How about that?”
I suppressed a shit-eating grin. She fell for it.
“Deal.” I nodded towards the edge of the small town before turning and heading that way. “Not here. This city has been rebuilding and I don’t want you to cause unnecessary damage.”
The reason for this was twofold: one, I already stated, and the other was to get myself to maximum health and ki— I was still recovering from the harsh spar with Chichi.
“As if you’ll last longer than a second.” I heard Bulma mutter.
Ten minutes later, and we were in the slowly growing forest, near the spot in which I had the spar with Chichi.
“Let’s be clear, here.” I said as I faced off against Goku. “You win, and you get my Dragonball. If I win, I get all of yours. Deal?”
He eyed me for a moment, before looking down at the small sack tied to his waist in trepidation. From the looks of it, it held one of the Dragonballs.
“I’ll never let you have grandpa’s memento!” The boy declared with a glare, now fired up.
I suppressed a wince, before steeling myself. Memento or not, the fate of the universe could hinge on the answer to my question.
Worst case, I could simply find his Dragonball later.
Mind made up, I squared up against this new foe— though that only lasted for a split second, as I had to move back slightly to dodge the boy’s punch.
Headstrong and eager. I thought as I grabbed his arm and used his momentum to slam him to the ground— only for his tail to snake its way around my leg and giving it a hard yank, making me fall flat on my face due to my own momentum.
With a grunt, I swung my right elbow behind me, driving it into the shifty boy who was knocked off with a loud cry.
I spun quickly, untangling my leg from his tail and taking a foot to the face for my trouble.
With a grunt, I pushed Goku away, regained my footing and assumed stance.
“You’re pretty strong!” Goku gave me a toothy grin, looking very surprised at the turn of events.
“Thanks.” I smiled back. “You are, too.”
This time, I rushed in, sending a few punches which he blocked with fairly decent technique.
His movements were so strangely familiar to Chichi’s and Ox-King’s, but there was an element of wildness in it that I couldn’t quite place.
I broke past his guard, driving my fist into his cheek with a loud, satisfying smack. Goku staggered with a cry, but I gave him no quarter, the second punch laying the tenacious boy out flat.
So, I was surprised when, instead of falling unconscious, the boy got up, albeit with some difficulty, and drew the red staff on his back.
“Extend!” It glowed red for a moment. It was the only warning I had before the polestaff drove itself into me.
I managed to dodge it slightly, taking the hit to the shoulder and using the momentum to spin out of the staff’s way.
I took hold of the tool and pried it out of his grasp with a quick jerk.
Instantly, the weapon shrunk back to its original size.
“Huh, that’s neat.” I commented as the boy rushed me in anger.
“That’s mine!” He leapt, intending on kicking me on the way down.
I smiled and held the weapon at my side, aiming my hand at him. “Ha!“
The ball of power flew true, exploding against the boy and causing him to spin uncontrollably on his way down.
“No!” I heard Bulma scream in a mix of fear and anger as Goku smashed into the ground with a sickening thump.
He didn’t get up.
“Shit.” I realized. “I might have overdone it.”
Had I killed the boy?
But then, he slowly struggled to his feet, staring at me with an intensity I hadn’t been expecting.
“Ha!” The boy roared, extending his hand and launching a gigantic ball of ki of his own at me.
Holy shit, that is strong.
Charging my arms with Ki, I braced myself as his power exploded against mine, sending me skidding back.
When the dust settled, Goku looked both shocked and excited at my having taken that head on.
And then, he finally dropped to the ground, unconscious.
I linked my power to his and invoked [Insight], just to make sure he hadn’t received too much damage in our fight.
Son Goku – Lv 20
Race – Saiyan
Age – 12
HP: 7,400/20,000 [Unconscious]
Rep: 9,900/10,000 Neutral
Description: Hailing from Mt Paozu, Goku is accompanying Bulma on her quest to gather up the Dragonballs in the hopes of finding someone strong to fight against.
He is currently unconscious after a fight with an enemy he wasn’t sure he could win against.
Battle Power: 20
He unlocked his Ki in a matter of seconds. Just who was this kid?
“Holy crap.” I breathed as I approached the unconscious boy, ignoring all of the notifications I got in favor of making sure he was okay.
“You stay away from him!” Bulma snarled, pulling a gun out and pointing it at me. “Stay away!”
“Calm down.” I smiled, raising a hand in mock surrender. “I’m taking him inside so he can rest up. That was a hard fight.”
Her glare turned a little vicious. “If you hurt him…”
“I’ve already hurt him. Shoot me if you have to. I’m going to make sure he’s all right.” I gestured at the unconscious boy, lifting him in my arms and leading the way back, the rest following me quietly.
She did not shoot.