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Chapter 32

Age 749, Monday, September 11 (Late Afternoon), Road to Fry Pan Mountain


Twenty Questions— Well, More Like One

You learned what the Dragonballs are capable of accomplishing when you gather all seven, and you’ve asked the Dragon about your powers.

In his wisdom, he bade you to seek out his creator, far above Korin’s Tower.


I read through the quest information for the tenth time before turning my gaze to the moving world outside the window.

“What’s this?”

“Don’t touch that, Goku!” Bulma’s voice came from the back of the van we all occupied. “Just sit still while I work on your injuries!”

“But it’s boring!” Came the expected whine.

“I swear, if you don’t stay still right now…” I tuned her threat out and gazed out of the window once more, a thousand and one thoughts crossing my mind.

I tried to get a handle on recent events— any of it— but it was like trying to grasp water. I got my hands wet, but not much else.

I just wasn’t ready to deal with all that had happened, just yet.

A nice, long bath, followed by a scrumptious dinner and some bed rest. That’s what I need, right now. I thought, a table full of my favorite foods spreading in my mind’s eye.

I swallowed, my throat feeling dry in the wake of such thoughts.

I let out an explosive breath before just pulling up my notifications.

Stat increases from the many battles I’d participated in, skill level increases, and quest rewards— I went through each and every one slowly, reading through the admittedly thorough lists.

One of the drawbacks of this system was that it was just too tedious to navigate in.

All in all, I’d netted myself quite a bit of progress in all ways.


Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 37 (34,700/38,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 14,436 ; [44,620]
MP: 15,092 ; [46,826]
Ki: 19,336 ; [60,140]

STR: 135 ; [270]
VIT: 130 ; [260]
AGI: 192 ; [384]
INT: 118 ; [171]
WIS: 120 ; [174]

Points: 20

Battle Power: 152, [305]


I was getting much stronger, much more quickly.

I remembered back when raising my stats hadn’t yielded much progress. Of course, I’d still blazed past everyone around me, but it was magic at play.

I was given this power, and a quest to stop the destruction of the universe, itself. Why wouldn’t I have had the capability of surpassing the human limitation?

My eyes lingered over my [Status Sheet]‘s race information.

Am I really still a human being? That floating box says I am, but can a human truly reach such heights? Roshi was quite powerful, but the man is hundreds of years old! I’ve done this in months.

Just underneath my skin, I could feel my power roiling, waiting to be unleashed. It sang with the promise of battle and death. It enjoyed the euphoric thrill of the fight.

And, to be honest, so did I.

To stand against my opponent, take all he had and remain standing— there was a strange, primal appeal to such a thing, despite how idiotic it may have seemed.

I’d taken on a veritable army of hardasses, each having had enough training to defeat me as I had been only a few months ago.

The Red Ribbon had specifically enhanced their soldiers using data of my fight against Blue in the Central Games. The not-so-dearly departed General, himself, had confirmed as much.

And yet…

They stood no chance against my raised strength— and I’d already improved since then. My Battle Power had been something around 240 when I’d fought and killed General Blue.

Now, it was over 320. Just what did it mean? I checked the menu once again.


Battle Power: an aggregate of all your physical stats combined into a single numerical form.


So, STR, VIT and AGI.

Numerically speaking, I was about a third stronger than I had been, before. No, not stronger; more physically capable? That seemed like a better way to put it.

Just what did it truly mean in terms of physical limits?

I’d been able to take a tank shell head on and survive. I’d annihilated an entire army. I honestly had no idea how fast I could run, now.

When I’d set off from Chichi’s village, I’d somewhat known my own limitations, but now it felt like my body had ascended to ridiculous heights.

Am I even human anymore? The thought came again.

There was no answer.

I huffed and moved the offending blue screen away.

“Are you all right?” Came the voice beside me. I turned to look at the bandit— Yamcha, I corrected myself.

His eyes had been shadowed with the weight of his apparent mortality, and his own [Status Sheet] had changed to reflect it.


Desert Bandit
Yamcha – Lv 20

Race – Human
Age – 16

HP: 10,500/14,000
Ki: 4,000/8,000

Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: Hailing from a village just north of the Diablo Desert, Yamcha dropped out of school and made his home in the desert instead, focusing his all on martial arts.

Having had a close brush with death as well as incredible fighters such as Goku, Chichi and the seemingly invincible Ten, he is now re-examining his priorities and finding them wanting.

Battle Power: 90


An improvement, if only just.

I shook my head. “It’s nothing, bandit.”

“The name’s Yamcha.” The man sounded exasperated at my insistence.

It still didn’t mean I suddenly became friends with the man.

I wasn’t going to give every person a second chance, like I had with Krad. They needed to earn it.

I gave an uncaring shrug. “You rob people and leave them out to die in the desert. I’m not using your name.”

The bandit bristled in the driver’s seat. “I do not leave them to die. What do you take me for?”

“A bandit.” I said automatically.

“I don’t kill people.” He repeated, getting angry. “I’ve made sure they were safe. All right?”

I looked at him for a moment, judging the weight of his words. “All right. Yamcha, then.”

Still a thief, but at least not the vile murderer I took him for, I suppose.

“Thank you.” He relaxed.

“I feel like I’ve been running a marathon.” Bulma complained. I spied her rubbing her arms in the rearview mirror.

Chichi sat beside her, looking outside the window in boredom. She seemed a little tired, but was hiding it well enough. She caught my eye and smiled.

I smiled back.

“Turn the radio on, will you?” Bulma asked again. I watched Yamcha do his best impression of a drunken monkey before flipping a switch.

“You just turned off the air conditioning.” I snorted.

“O-oh.” Yamcha laughed and flipped another switch. The windshield wipers whirred alive, noisily rubbing against the glass.

I cringed and flipped the switches back to normal, before turning on the radio. Yamcha really was clumsy whenever Bulma said something— maybe he likes her?

“Hmm…” I said, listening to the music for a bit— a slow, sleepy tune— before turning the knob and changing channels.

“—live now at the fiery fest—” Switch. “Buy one, get one half off! Call now and—” Switch. “It’s the eye of the Lion! It’s the—”

—Hell no.” I huffed and switched to another channel. This one had decent enough music, I decided.

I stared back out of the window, the melodies drowning my thoughts. It honestly felt blissful— for about ten minutes.

The music cut off with a sudden burst of static, replaced with a long, steady beep.

“What the hell?” Yamcha said in confusion and changed the channel. The same beep again.

He switched again and again, but kept getting the same result.

“Did we lose the signal?” Oolong piped up from the back. “There’s no way my M-capsule van can be defective. I only recently got it— was saving it for a special occasion.”

“If we’d lost the signal, we’d only be getting static.” Bulma disagreed. “We’re getting a signal on all of the available channels.”

“A government broadcast?” Chichi asked in realization as the beeping ceased, replaced by the sound of an announcer.

“This is the world government, broadcasting in all known channels all over the world.” The man said. “We interrupt your regular programming as something absolutely miraculous has occurred. There has been a massive influx of people previously considered to be deceased turning up all over the world.”

I turned my head and exchanged a look with Chichi as the announcer continued.

“We believe that an unknown organization has struck a hard blow to the Red Ribbon Army, releasing their prisoners in the process.” He explained slowly. “I repeat, many of the victims of the Red Ribbon have come forth in search of their families! Please begin heading to your local municipalities and governments, if you’ve lost someone to the Red Ribbon. We will be listing their names and providing them with their necessities until their next of kin are contacted.”

He took a breath and repeated his statement again.

“We would like this independent organization to know.” The announcer added, his tone all but projecting a sort of restrained gratitude. “How very grateful we all are— whoever you are, please know that you are all heroes, and we, as the world government, plan to raise a large force to finally put an end to the Red Ribbon threat. We will not let your efforts go to waste.”

I felt a part of me tighten in a response to the feelings welling from within me.

Should I not have been feeling happy about this? Should I have been sad?

Had I just initiated the first steps to a global war?

“This is the world government, broadcasting in all known channels—” I switched the radio off, not wishing to hear any more of it.

“So that’s what you used the wish for, huh?” Yamcha sent me a contemplative look, before focusing back on the road with a frown. “I can’t say I would have been so selfless.”

A wish requested to bring back my friends, selfless? Came the immediate thought, though I did not give it life outside of my mind.

“Not bad.” Bulma said a little grudgingly.

“You’ve done it, Ten! All those people— you’ve given them a second chance.” Chichi cheered. “And, with the entire world banding together, the Red Ribbon will be dealt with in no time!”

I felt my heart lighten with the girl’s words. I wiped at my moist eyes, not wanting to descend into hysterics again. “Thank you, all.”

“There’s going to be so much fighting— I can’t wait!” Son Goku exclaimed, jostling in his seat in excitement.

“I told you to stay still, you lunkhead!” Bulma raged at the obstreperous boy.

Chichi barked out in sudden laughter, which quickly turned infectious.

Soon, we were all laughing.

Just like that, I felt all of my worries slip away into nothing.

Maybe I could pretend, at least for a while, that the universe wasn’t in danger of total destruction.


By the time we’d made it back to Fry Pan Mountain, we’d returned to cheers and parades.

They’ve heard the broadcast. Of course they have. It’s been playing for hours.

“Wow, look at all these people!” Goku said excitedly. “I’ve never seen so many in one place.”

“That’s barely anyone, Goku.” Bulma commented beside him. “Cities have way more people in them.”

“Wow! Really?” Goku got even more excited.

“You really are a total bumpkin, aren’t you.” Bulma deadpanned. “Staying up all alone in that mountain.”

We fell into silence for a while, the sound of the cheering crowd more than making up for it.

“Come to think of it, your last name is familiar to me, Goku.” Chichi said slowly, brows furrowed in thought. “You wouldn’t happen to know a man by the name of Son Gohan, would you?”

Goku piped up. “You know my grandpa?”

“Your grandpa was famous, Goku. I told you.” Yamcha threw in, looking exasperated at the boy. “A pupil of the legendary Muten Roshi, and just as strong! A martial arts master superior to almost all others.”

“Goku, you have to meet my father.” Chichi cut in, with an insistent tone. “He and your grandfather were both fellow disciples.”

“Really?” Goku got excited. “Was he as strong as Grandpa?”

“I think so.” Chichi replied, looking thoughtful. “He doesn’t really talk so often about Mr. Gohan, so I don’t know for sure.”

“There he is, right now.” I pointed ahead as we reached the town’s square, where the Ox-King, in full barbarian regalia, awaited us with a massive grin.

“So that’s the Ox-King…” Yamcha said slowly as he parked the van and slowly opened the door.

The volume of the cheers increased, making me wince. “They’re pretty cheerful.”

Noisy.

I wonder why.” Came Chichi’s sarcastic answer, along with a snort.

We filed out of the van, and were met with the old crone who’d all but told the entire town that Chichi and I were ‘consorts’.

It had barely been a few days since I’d last seen the woman, but it felt like it had been weeks.

So much has happened since then. I thought. The Dragonballs stolen. Fighting against the Red Ribbon. Fighting against Blue. Fighting against the massive monkey. Fighting against that Pilaf fellow. Summoning the Dragon and making the wish.

Had it really only been a few days?

“Princess.” The old lady bowed. “Mr. Ten.”

I nodded to her, feeling awkward at the lady’s deferential treatment. I was no King, nor some high ranking noble.

The old lady turned to the rest of our group. “Come. We have prepared a celebratory feast in honor of your deeds today.”

“A feast?” Yamcha grinned.

“What’s a feast?” Goku asked. As expected, Bulma sighed beside the boy.

“It’s just a lot of food, Goku.”

“Oh, awesome!” The boy tried to jump, but ended up falling on his face. “Ugh, I keep falling down…”

Losing his tail was bound to mess with his balance, though…


Monkey Boy
Son Goku – Lv 25

Race – Saiyan
Age – 12

HP: 27,500 [Recovering]
Ki: 33,500
Rep: 0/10,000 Well Liked

Description: Hailing from Mt Paozu, Goku was accompanying Bulma on her quest to gather up the Dragonballs in the hopes of finding someone strong to fight against.

He is currently very hungry.

Battle Power: 12


He only seems to have gotten stronger from all of the fighting. I finished as the old lady led us towards the Ox-King, standing near the head of the massive table— so big that it could fit over a hundred people with ease.

“I see that you have made it back in one piece!” The Ox-King boomed as he loomed over us all.

He really is freakishly tall. I threw Chichi a considering look. I wonder if she’ll grow up to be as tall as him.

“Um…” Bulma said nervously. “Hello.”

“Are you the Ox-King!?” Goku exclaimed, getting up and pushing both Bulma and Oolong out of his way.

“Watch it, monkey-boy!” “Hey!” Came the two cries of dismay, but Goku hadn’t even registered their words.

This kid really does have a one track mind. I smiled at the boy’s pure hearted determination. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing.

“Ho?” The Ox-King took a step forward, bending his head down so he could get a better look at the boy. “You’re a scrawny one, boy, but I can see the fire in your eyes. Yes, I am the Ox-King.”

Goku grinned. “I’m Goku! I heard you’re very strong, like my Grandpa was! Will you fight me?”

“Your grandpa, you say?” The Ox-King scratched his chin, his arm alone dwarfing Goku in size. “Who is…”

It was then that he noticed the staff slung over the boy’s back. “That is… the extending power pole, Nyoi-Bo! So, you’re Gohan’s grandson?”

“You sure know a lot, old man!” Goku pulled the pole out of its sheath and set it vertically next to him. “Grandpa left it to me.”

Left it..?” The Ox-King immediately picked up on that, his massive grin fading away. “I take it my old friend is no longer with us?”

“He died a long time ago.” Goku replied. He was about to say more when his stomach growled.

At that, the Ox-King boomed with laughter again. “Meeting my friend’s grandson— that’s a cause for celebration! How about we postpone the fight, for now, and have a large feast instead?”

“Yes!” Goku immediately agreed.

“You heard the boy, everyone!” The Ox-King addressed the massive crowd around us. “Let’s begin the feast!”

Cheers and applause drowned everything else out as everyone took seats at the table.

“Come, Ten.” The Ox-King said, gesturing to the head of the table. “Your seat awaits.”

“You can’t be serious.” I gave the older man a confused look.

“I am.

“It’s only natural.” Chichi joined the conversation as Goku and the rest joined the table and began to stuff their faces— literally in Goku’s case.

“How much food can you eat, kid!?” “Gross!” “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“This is great food!”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full!”

“This feast is to celebrate your victory and actions.” Chichi continued, throwing a disapproving look towards the wild haired boy.

“I insist, lad.” The Ox-King gave me an ominous look.

I sighed. “Very well. Sit next to me?”

“Of course.” Chichi smiled and gave me a quick hug before heading towards the head of the table.

I followed, noting that everyone had stopped eating, and were instead staring at me.

Eerie.

“Let us all raise a glass.” The Ox-King, seated right next to the head of the table, raised his gigantic mug in the air. “To Ten of South City! He saved my Kingdom, and then went on to battle the Red Ribbon Army! There is no greater honor than fighting for those who cannot defend themselves. To Ten!”

I fought the urge to hide from the massive crowd as they raised their own glasses. Fighting rabid animals, demons, martial artists and enemy soldiers— this is what I could do.

But social gatherings? I gave what I hoped was a friendly smile to everyone, knowing that it likely looked horrifying.

Likely some kind of death rictus. The thought only made me seize up more tightly.

“To Ten!” The people cheered, either not noticing, or not caring about my reaction.

“Relax.” Chichi laughed at my expression as the crowd cheered my name twice more before returning to their meals with gusto. “They won’t bite.”

“You sure about that?” I laughed, feeling my nervousness spike.

She took my hand in her own and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Yes.”

I turned to look at her, feeling myself slowly relax again.

“Just focus on me.” Chichi smiled. “They’ll eventually lose track of themselves as they drink more and more.”

“Thanks, Chichi.”

“Don’t mention it.”

I turned my attention to the food— an assortment of meat, vegetables and bread laid out in front of me— and began to eat.

One bite, two bites, and I was off, devouring the food with a ravenous hunger which surprised even myself. Had I been that hungry?

“Slow down. You’re going to make yourself sick!” Chichi said, though she frowned as she stared at her own half-devoured meal. “Nevermind.”

I snorted and went back to the food.

The Ox-King looked like he wanted to ask Chichi and I some questions, but was obviously waiting for us to get some food in our stomachs. Gracious of him.

It was another five minutes before the massive man spoke again. “So, I’m guessing you have a story to tell?”

Chichi and I stopped eating and exchanged a look. “You can say that, sir. It’s rather long, though.”

“By all means.” The Ox-King laughed and took a bite out of a large animal leg— dinosaur meat? “We’ve got time.”

And so, I told him everything. I talked about Bulma’s group. I talked vaguely about engaging the Red Ribbon in combat. I talked about fighting off Pilaf, leaving out the fact that Goku had transformed into a monstrous creature.

I didn’t think the boy should have had to deal with the repercussions of actions that were completely out of his control. The Ox-King, bless him, could be a flighty man at times.

“So, the Master at Central City has chosen to remain among the dead?” The Ox-King stopped eating and dipped his head in respect.

“Yes.” I said, feeling Chichi’s hand squeeze my shoulder in a gesture of consolation. “I gather he wished to be with his loved ones— he was a bit old.”

Here, the Ox-King gave a short laugh. “Of course! I can understand the man’s choice.”

His smile wavered, and he took a swig from his massive mug. “I am sure my lovely wife is watching over us, as well.”

I turned to Chichi, who looked a little morose at the mention of her deceased mother. I returned her gesture of consolation and gave her a smile.

“Thanks, Ten.” Chichi said.

I gave her a nod in response, before continuing my tale.

“That’s what the Dragon said?” The Ox-King asked, leaning back in his seat and scratching his beard. “To seek out his creator?”

“Yes.” I confirmed. “Far above somewhere called ‘Korin’s Tower’.”

“Korin’s Tower, you say?” Ox-King repeated the two words, his mouth twisting in what I knew to be an expression of recognition.

“You know of this place?” I leaned forward, food forgotten for now. “Where is it?”

The great big lunk set his food down, dabbed at his mouth with a napkin and said. “I have no idea.”

Damn it.

“Damn it.” I said out loud. “How am I supposed to find this place?”

“Maybe the old Fortune-teller knows?” Chichi suggested.

“The Master will know!” Ox-King cut in. “Yes, I remember now. Korin’s Tower, the Master’s final test. I’ve never done it myself, but I am sure Muten Roshi has!”

I nodded eagerly, lapping up the intriguing information like a heavenly drop of water in the scorching desert. “I’ll go ask him.”

Chichi sent me a pointed look.

After we rest for a while.” I snorted at her expression. “I’ve been meaning to see the old timer, anyway.”

“It’s settled, then.” The Ox-King said. “You will stay here for some time. It wouldn’t do for you to leave us so quickly!”

There was a moment of silence as Chichi and I exchanged looks.

“Um, dad…” Chichi got up from her seat and moved towards her father. “Give us a moment, Ten?”

“Sure.” I took my cue to back away from that particular conversation.

“You want to— what?” Was the last thing I heard the Ox-King say before I made my way towards Bulma and her group. They, with the exception of Goku, had stopped eating a while back, and were busy relaxing.

“If it isn’t the hero who defeated the Red Ribbon!” Oolong the pig hiccuped and took another swig of his drink.

“Ten.” Yamcha nodded towards me. I returned it, almost somberly.

“What do you want?” Bulma asked, still as unpleasant as ever.

There’s no way.

“Are you still mad at me that I used the wish?” I asked, feeling both appalled and amazed at the same time.

“No.” The blue-haired girl shook her head quickly. “How could anyone be mad about that? What do you take me for!?”

That took the wind right out of my sails. “Oh.”

“What I am mad about is that you never returned my phone and radar!” She seethed, sending me a glare. “Give them back!”

“Oh.” I felt a little sheepish— and honestly, embarrassed.

Here I was calling Yamcha a bandit, a thief, and I’ve been behaving no better than he was. I thought, feeling the guilt rise within me.

“Slipped my mind.” I scratched the back of my neck for a moment before pulling the aforementioned items from the [Inventory] and handing them to her. “Sorry. I needed to call my parents, and I ended up losing track of things for a while afterwards.”

Bulma stared at the two gadgets in her hands, her look much less scathing than it had been a moment ago. “Thanks, I guess.”

I smiled slightly. “That radar, though, was something else. Or should I call it a sensor?”

Bulma’s head snapped toward me so fast I was sure she would get whiplash. “You know about that?”

“It was a bit challenging to figure out, I’ll admit.” I said, taking the empty seat next to the girl. “I’m still only a beginner at tech, but I’m eventually hoping to be able to build my own machines. I reckoned that, having owned a Dragonball, you must have done a lot of tests on it, to figure out what element… I don’t want to say ‘reacts’… Resonates with it?”

“That’s right!” Bulma said, before throwing me headfirst into the technical specs of her ‘radar’. “You see, the first thing I figured out was…”

I made an honest attempt to keep up with all of the concepts she was presenting, hoping my beginner knowledge of that sort of tech would help me out.

I failed miserably.

I’ve still got a long way to go.

Maybe I wasn’t as beyond humanity as I thought I’d been.

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