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Age 749, October 16, Past Midnight, A Distance Away From The Red Ribbon Base

Everything felt wrong.

Why did it have to go so wrong?

The calm of the forest surrounding me felt off-putting, odd and eerie. A year ago, I would have likely frozen in place from the tumult of feelings enveloping my body, but I had changed much since then.

Instead of freezing, I soldiered on with heavy footfalls, breaking the peaceful silence of the forest as I dragged my cargo behind me; Chichi, as well as a young boy who bore a strong resemblance to Bora, the boy’s father, whom I’d met a few hours prior.

I can’t believe I managed to find the kid. I thought, directing my attention to the boy being dragged alongside Chichi. 

Finding Upa was the only good thing that had come out of Chichi and I’s impromptu mission, and it had been a damn fluke that it happened at all. I’d spied his form in one of the abandoned cars at one of the exits.

The soldiers had tried to take the boy elsewhere to continue their tests, but something had stopped them.

Had it been my overwhelming attack, or perhaps was it Chichi’s rampage? I would never know.

What I did know, however, was that I saw many more tire tracks leading outwards to the south of the base. The Red Ribbon had transported the majority of their soldiers, and possibly even prisoners, to continue committing their vile deeds.

The world government’s going to take care of them, huh? I thought, irritated. My ass.

I shook my head and sighed. I felt so very tired, but continued my trek through the forest regardless until I chanced upon a brook. I stared down at its dark, navy depths, watching the subtle shadows swept in by an artist’s brush.

I let go of the rope in my hands and walked to the edge of the stream. I knelt by the small river, splashing my face with cold water. I took a deep breath, feeling refreshed for the moment, before getting back up and turning to my two charges.

I tore my eyes off of them after a few moments so that I could survey my surroundings to see if they were adequate.

Not great, but far from bad. I decided. I suppose I can settle down here for the night.

I dried my wet hands against my pants and moved to sit between Chichi and Upa.

Giving the two a few quick looks to make sure they hadn’t been harmed during the trip, I allowed myself to relax.

Now that I had a few moments to myself, I decided to finally read through all of the various messages which had undoubtedly popped up during my time fighting both the Red Ribbon Army, as well as Chichi.

With a thought, I called my menu up and began to navigate through the various screens before me. I sped through all of the notifications with a cool gaze, focusing my attention on a certain quest.

Quest Updated!

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. In your time of traveling towards this goal, you have, once again, encountered the Red Ribbon Army.

You boldly rushed forth to their stronghold and tore it asunder to save Bora’s young boy Upa, but you’ve learned that Chichi, the love of your life, has been infected with a strange, green serum, which caused her to lose control over her body and programmed the mission to kill you in her mind.

What will you do now?

I stared at the shifting quest for a long moment before shaking my head and pushing the screen away. There was only one thing to do, from what it looked like.

I didn’t know how, but this guardian fellow was linked to this green serum they injected Chichi with. The quest changing to incorporate the serum in its description merely confirmed it.

Just what did that say about my actions? Did I have control over myself, or were my actions predetermined? What if I had refused to save Upa? What then? Would the game system have found another way to inject Chichi with the serum?

My mind whirred with the possibilities, but I shook my head with a sigh.

It doesn’t matter. I thought. Whether my actions are predetermined by this universe’s laws or whether I am above them is of no concern. What matters is that I meet this guardian and get him to fix whatever was done to her.

Before I was able to check through the rest of my notifications, another popped up before me. It said:


Through character action and decision, the quest “Twenty Questions— Well, More Like One” has been renamed to “Twenty Questions— Well, More Like Two”!

I pursed my lips at this and continued rifling through the other notifications. I filed my small stat and skill improvements away for later thought before I turned my eyes to the tied up woman beside me. 

She looked so peaceful, a far cry from the suicidal monster they had turned her into.

Chichi… I said, reaching out to her, but she opened her eyes just as I was about to touch her cheek. Her groggy eyes focused in on me, and I felt the wind leave me.

Because, for a single instant, I saw the recognition and love in her eyes.

“Chichi?” I tried, wondering if the effect of the mind-control had faded away. Maybe it just didn’t take.

It wasn’t to be, however, I realized when her face smoothed over, her emotions swept away by that same emotionless shell she’d shown me before.  A second later, she began to struggle against her bonds.

“Chichi!” I said, feeling the lump in my throat.

Her eyes locked onto my own once again and, to my surprise, she stilled. “Ten.”

I forced the lump down, along with my sadness, and greeted her back, ignoring the pangs of my heart. “Chichi. Please, wake up. This isn’t you.”

She stared at me for a long moment before speaking. “I will kill you, Ten.”

“I know you don’t mean that.”

“I will.” She said, ignoring what I said. “I must.”

Doing my best to keep calm, my eyes focused on the two words hovering above her name-tag: Greenlight Cataclysm. Just what does it mean?

I took another look at her status.

Greenlight Cataclysm
Chichi – Lv 41

Race – Human / Ņ̴̻̻̯̠͔͎́̎͐̏̈̿͑̚̚͜a̶͇̙̬̬͇͠m̶̛͎̤̅́̇̓e̵͙͉̩͚̗̊̆̓͐̉́̔̇̚ḱ̷̙̳̯̮̦̦̳̬̹͂̔̄͘̚͜i̸͕͙̮̗̦̺͍̞͋̍́͝ȧ̷̦̕͘͠n̵͓̙̼͉̳̒̉͗͌͐͜ͅ
Age – 14

HP: 6,740/52,000 [Regenerating]
Ki: 1,203/63,000
MP: 400/400 [Locked]

Rep: 20,000/100,000 Loved

Description: The Princess of Fry Pan Mountain, Chichi has been subjected to a cruel experiment by the Red Ribbon Army, greatly increasing her power at the cost of taking her will away and setting her against the love of her life.

She is currently trying her best to escape her bonds so that she can end your life. Her heart breaks at seeing you like this, and her anger towards the Red Ribbon continues to smolder.

Battle Power: 55

I felt the turmoil roiling within me again and forced it down. I couldn’t lose hold of myself, not here.

Just what had they done to her? She had received an incredible amount of power out of nowhere. It went even further beyond General Blue’s power up— and she’s still increasing in power.

Had they refined and enhanced their genetic techniques meant to bring the latent potential within humans out with far more ease?

It was possible. The heights I had reached were quite ridiculous thanks to the power of [The Gamer], but I reckoned that any human could reach this point with enough training.

The only reason people like Muten Roshi hadn’t was because they simply didn’t train after they reached a certain point.

She’d even gained access to magic, somehow. She’d never had an MP stat before, but it was there now, nonetheless.

But it was more than that; a previously thought immutable part of her character sheet had been modified— her race was no longer displayed as solely human, but had also become part something called… Namekian? Just what was that, and what did it have to do with the guardian above Korin’s Tower?

Maybe that’s what the green serum was made from? I thought, eyes narrowing as Chichi resumed her struggle to escape. I moved the boy, Upa, away and laid him at the foot of a tree before kneeling down by Chichi, holding her down so that she couldn’t hurt herself.

Namekian… Have they found some sort of strange, possibly prehistoric creature and injected humans with its cells, just to see what would happen? I thought with incredulity plain on my face. Are they truly that foolish? What if it failed?

I shook my head. Of course, they’d subject people to these experiments. I was dumb for even questioning that. The Red Ribbon wanted to have access to every advantage they could get their filthy little hands on.

Anything to get ahead of their enemies. I thought as Chichi tried to break her bonds again.

I moved on her, grabbing her wrists and forcing her to remain still. Chichi continued to struggle, forcing my arms back a few inches, surprising me with her sheer strength.

This strength! I realized with no small amount of dread. She’s tearing her muscles apart just to escape her bonds? Does she realize that she has no chance against me, even if she was fully healed?

Whether she realized it or not, all I knew was that if she continued in this way, then she would start tearing her muscles apart trying to resist me.

“Stop it!” I said, my rising in great anger and irritation. “You can’t escape. You’re just hurting yourself, you idiot!”

“I will escape. I have to kill you.” Chichi repeated, her voice dead to the world.

My face was stricken with anguish. No matter how right my actions concerning Bora had been at the time, I wished I had not taken them.

True, I had saved his young boy and ensured he did not become the victim of the Red Ribbon Army, but I had caused Chichi to take his place.

Part of me wished that we had not taken the mission at all, even if the end result would have been that Upa would either die or become the Red Ribbon’s unwilling and unwitting slave.

Was it wrong for me to think this way?

“I’ll break out of these restraints and finish my mission, Ten.” Chichi said as the bindings began to break apart from the struggle. “Such weak bindings are not enough to hold me, even with your strength.”

But I shook my head. “They weren’t meant to be enough.”

I placed my palm against the back of the girl’s head and focused my power, striking at the flow of her inner energy with my own and destabilizing it.

-500 Ki!

Chichi made a wordless exclamation before she sagged down, once again unconscious.

“They’re meant to buy me enough time to do that.”

I stared at her unconscious form for a few more seconds before shaking my head and placing her in a more comfortable position.

I stared up at the dark forest’s canopy above, focusing on the sound of the stream in an attempt to calm myself.

The Sun won’t be up for a few more hours, still. I should at least be able to meditate and maybe even rest a little before Chichi wakes up again. I’m close to being full health again, but better to meditate it back up.

I nodded to myself; the logic seemed sound enough. Closing my eyes, I assumed a comfortable pose, calmed my breathing and tried to initiate a state of [Meditation], only to find that I couldn’t.

Swallowing, I tried again. I focused my senses on the stream beside me. I let the smell of the wet earth penetrate my nose. I felt the cold of what little water remained on my hands.

Still, the skill refused to activate.

I let out a loud exhale through my nose and gave it a few more tries before giving up, outright. Figures.

[Meditation] was a skill which required me to be at peace with myself, as well as the world around me. Peace, however, was likely to be the furthest thing away from me, at that moment.

I called up my [Status Sheet], looking over it quickly.

Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 38 (17,500/50,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 40,000/60,959
MP: 23,000/54,263
Ki: 20,000/82,162

STR: 150 ; [304]
VIT: 160 ; [324]
AGI: 200 ; [400]
INT: 136 ; [197]
WIS: 132 ; [191]

Points: 0

Battle Power: 170, [344]

I pursed my lips before snatching a few bars of food from my [Inventory], as well as a bottle of water. I kept my eye on Chichi, watching her for any sudden moves, but after a few minutes of her calm breathing, it seemed as if she was well and truly unconscious.

Hopefully she stayed that way for a while longer, still.

I pulled a capsule from my [Inventory] and gave it a quick look. My eyes took in the Red Ribbon symbol plastered over the capsule and I resisted the urge to scoff. These people running this army were so vain that they plastered their symbol everywhere they could think of.

I shook my head and got to my feet, moving a little further away from Chichi and Upa. I pushed the capsule’s button with a click and threw it forward. The capsule gave its signature explosion before the smoke cleared, revealing a dark green UTV in its place.

Nodding, I approached the vehicle and gave it a quick look over. I looked towards Chichi for a moment and then at Upa before frowning. Moving towards the boy, I untied his bindings and lifted him up; I set him gently back down in the UTV, taking a quick look at his [Status Sheet].

Loving Son
Upa – Lv 1
Race – Human
Age – 5

HP: 500/1,000
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: Just as his father, grandfather and ancestors had done before him, Upa will be dedicating his life to guarding the Sacred Land of Korin. Upa is a sweet boy who loves to listen to his father’s stories about the wider world.

He witnessed his father, Bora, being mercilessly beaten down by the Red Ribbon Army’s soldiers before they left him for dead, taking Upa with them in order to do horrible tests on him.

He is currently unconscious from a hit that connected to his head after he managed to kill one of the soldiers with a rifle.

Battle Power: 1

So that’s why he’s out of it… I thought, looking at the child in an entirely new light. Lost his childhood before he even had the chance to experience it.

I clenched my fist, feeling righteous anger coursing through me. If I had been able to meditate before, I knew I wouldn’t be able to now.

I turned my attention back towards the various controls and began to fiddle with the electronics. As expected, the communications array was fitted with no less than four trackers. It took some time as well as a lot of careful pushing and pulling, but I was able to remove three of the four trackers.

The last one, however, was soldered onto the chip board itself. I cursed. All of the work I’d done prior was a complete waste. I sighed and ripped the entire radio system out, crushing it in my grip before throwing it to the side.

I was about to look for more trackers when I received a new notification.


For realizing that, sometimes, there are things which cannot be fixed, you have gained five levels in [Techie]!

Techie (Lv 31 – 10%/Passive): Your keen interest in technology will bring you far in life, as it is the future of your race. You’ve gained enough knowledge, wisdom and experience to be able to work on most baseline machinery, and you’re on the cusp of beginning your journey in dealing with more sophisticated pieces of hardware.

You have also unlocked a new skill.

Saboteur (Lv 1- 0%/Passive): By willingly destroying a machine in your care, you have begun a new journey— one which disrespects all machines before you. But you are unskilled at it. Your sabotage methods are crude, inefficient and easily detectable by your enemies.

I read through the descriptions a few times, shaking my head at the continual ridiculousness of the game system before sighing.

A skill that is unlocked through my intent to destroy things. I thought, going back to check the other systems of the car. Just what hidden depths still lurk within the confines of the system?

Chichi stirred in the background, forcing me to drop what I was doing and rush to her form just in time for her to begin struggling again. I placed my hand against the back of her head once again and focused my power— a little bit more than before.

-750 Ki!

Chichi let out a long sigh as she sagged, unconscious once again.

Whatever the system’s capable of, it’s going to have to wait… I thought, lifting the woman over my shoulder and taking her towards the UTV. Grabbing a bit more cordage from the vehicle— the perks of being part of a military organization, I supposed— I tied Chichi up further.

I couldn’t have her making any sudden moves while I was driving us back to Bora. I made my final preparations before giving my two unconscious passengers a final check and nodding.

“Let’s go.” I said out loud and turned the car’s key, washing the silence of the forest away in seconds, replacing it with the roar of the engine before me. “Next stop. Korin’s Tower.”

Age 749, October 16, Dawn, Near Korin’s Tower

Not much longer. I thought as I maneuvered the UTV through the forested areas surrounding Korin’s Tower. It had been many hours since I’d begun the trek to the base of the long column which reached up into the sky.

As the sun began to rise, the forest canopy seemed to come alive with a new energy. Rays of golden light filtered through the trees, illuminating the forest floor below in a soft, warm glow. A gentle hush settled over the forest, broken only by the occasional chirp of a bird or the rustling of leaves.

Through the hues of red, yellow, orange and brown, I saw glimpses of the long tower. I was getting closer.

Perhaps another ten minutes, or so? I thought with absolutely no confidence. Soon enough, I decided. I just had to focus on the road itself and I would be at my destination before too long.

“Ngh…” I heard from behind me and stopped the vehicle, ready to deliver another Ki strike to Chichi’s pathways in case she’d woken up yet again.

Not for the first time, I marveled at the rapid increase of the young woman’s battle power. Once again, I brushed away the accompanying questions, ready to take action to subdue her again when I realized that it wasn’t her who’d woken up this time.

“Who…” The young boy known as Upa spoke in a weak voice as he tried to adjust his position on the vehicle, only for his eyes to widen in alarm as he saw the downed and bound Chichi beside him. “Uwaa!”

The boy fell off the UTV and would have struck the earth face first had I not seized him by the collar and pulled him to me. “Easy! You—”

“Get away!” The boy shouted as he tried to kick me in the face, only to realize his tiny legs couldn’t reach me. He focused his attacks on the arm holding him.

I felt absolutely nothing from them, but I held onto his collar and let him have his little freakout. The seconds continued to pass, and Upa finally cottoned onto the fact that I had just been staring at him the entire time.


“You done?” I said slowly, watching him nod. “We’re taking you back to your dad.”

“What?” The boy said for a second but pointed at the Red Ribbon logo marking Chichi’s outfit— or whatever was left of it. “But you’re with them! The bad men who hurt my dad.”

“No.” I shook my head. “We snuck in and saved you, kid. My friend here got hurt because of it.”

“Oh…” Upa said, looking at the girl again in shock. His emotion turned to sorrow as he turned back to me. “I’m sorry.”

I stared at the kid for a moment, weighing his words in my mind. True, the fact that I took this quest to save him had been the main cause behind Chichi’s new affliction, but could I really blame a small child for something like that?

He was just a victim in a much grander game being played on Earth; and its players were the global elites who controlled the militaries and governments of the world.

The Red Ribbon Army was but one faction, and they’d caused this much damage.

Loving Son
Upa – Lv 1
Race – Human
Age – 5

HP: 650/1,000 [Mild Concussion]
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

Description: Just as his father, grandfather and ancestors had done before him, Upa will be dedicating his life to guarding the Sacred Land of Korin. Upa is a sweet boy who loves to listen to his father’s stories about the wider world.

He witnessed his father, Bora, being mercilessly beaten down by the Red Ribbon Army’s soldiers before they left him for dead, taking Upa with them in order to do horrible tests on him.

He is currently terrified of what you may do to him.

Battle Power: 1

Poor thing’s frightened, too… I thought as my eyes moved to the unconscious Chichi again. What would you do, Chichi?

I remembered the young woman back in her father’s budding kingdom, talking to the other children and helping them, often to her own detriment. I didn’t need to know more than that.

“It’s not your fault, Upa.” I placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “It’s the Red Ribbon’s. It’s always them. Don’t blame yourself.”

But the boy only looked up at me in surprise. “Y-You know my name Mister?”

I nodded. “Well, yes. Bora was the one who asked us to get you, kid. That’s why—”

“My papa!” Upa called out loudly, a look of sudden worry on his face. “Is my papa okay? They… They hurt him really badly…”

I suppressed the urge to sigh and gave the boy a slow nod. “Yes, he’s okay. He was much better by the time we left. We’ll be seeing him soon, all right kid?”

Looking up, I located Korin’s Tower through the canopy and pointed towards it. “See? That’s the tower, right over there.”

“Huh?” The boy blinked and followed my direction before nodding quickly. “It is!”

“Easy! Not so fast.” I said, trying to stop him from doing that, but it was too late. The boy wobbled in his seat, completely disoriented for a few moments before I pulled him towards me to support him. “Your head got hurt, kid. You have to be careful, okay?”

“O-okay…” Upa said weakly. I frowned— I wouldn’t be able to drive the rest of the way to camp. Maybe it would have been better had Upa remained unconscious.

Still, no point in crying over spilt milk. So, I made my decision.

“Come on.” I said, pulling a NutriBar out of my [Inventory] and handing it to the kid before moving him and setting him by a tree to allow him to recover. “Eat up and get some rest, I think we can cross the rest of the way on foot. It’ll give you more time to recover before taking you to see your pa.”

Upa gave another weak nod before lightly nibbling on the NutriBar. In the meantime, I went to pull Chichi off of the UTV.

As soon as I got close enough, however, her eyes snapped open and she burst into action, hand flying towards my throat in a knife strike.

I caught her by the wrist, feeling the impact through my body as I held her in place, my strength still far beyond hers in her weakened state. Dark blue eyes met dispassionate green as she continued trying to force her way past my iron grip, her nails elongating slightly and forming sharp points to tear and rend flesh.

So she really can change her nails into makeshift claws… I wasn’t just imagining it.

I took all of this in with a mild sigh of disapproval, ignoring Upa’s cry of shock as I overpowered the young woman once again before striking at the base of her neck, knocking her unconscious once again by destabilizing her flow of Ki.

-1,000 Ki!

Her energy roared in my mind’s eye as it attempted to hold back the tide of Ki and failed. Chichi stilled and sagged into my arms.

Every knockout is costing me more and more to stop her. I thought with a mild sense of concern. Eventually, the Ki output required to destabilize her will kill her outright. Even now, I’m not really sure if I’m permanently damaging her nerves, or not.

Damn it all to Hell. Why did things have to be this way?

“What? What did you do Mister! Why?”

I moved her away from the vehicle, ignoring Upa’s exclamations for a moment as I returned the UTV to its capsule, sighing in tiredness.

“It’s complicated, kid.” I explained with a frown as I pulled out some water from my [Inventory] and handed it to him. “But the Red Ribbon did something to her— she’s sick. Not right in the head, either.”

“Sick?” Upa repeated, and I nodded.

“Yeah.” I explained and pointed at her. “See how he’s all green, now? She wasn’t like that before. Almost like some kind of plant.”

“Oh… Okay, if you say so mister.” Upa said, accepting the explanation for a moment before he stilled. “Was… Was that what they were going to do to me?”

“I think so.” I said, shaking my head as I patted Upa’s head, ruffling his hair to set him at ease. “And you can call me Ten, okay?”

“O-Okay, Mister Ten.” Upa said.

I nodded and let the ‘Mister’ slide. I was just glad that the kid was calming down again. I really didn’t feel like carrying a hysterical child the rest of the way back to his father’s camp, and I didn’t dare knock him out— he was far too weak to be able to handle something like that.

The only reason I was using it on Chichi was because she was able to take it, and then some.

The two of us sat for a while, watching Chichi as I allowed the boy to recover what little strength he had before I got up. “Come on, kid. Time to get you home.”

Upa could only nod meekly as I took him in my arms while dragging Chichi through the dirt behind me.

Nearly half an hour of miserable, careful slogging later, I finally found myself in front of the same camp I’d been to less than a day before.

“Bora!” I called out, taking a few steps forward before setting the young Upa down. “We’re back, and with your son!”

A long moment passed before the man in question burst from the tent.

He still looked completely unfit for any activity whatsoever, but he at least had gained a more healthy color, losing the bit of yellow he had in his skin, as well as the sclera of his eyes.

Bora’s eyes widened as he saw his boy. He took a few steps forward, unsteady and unsure of his footing.

He didn’t have to go very far, though. Upa crashed into him, bowling the two over with a thud.


I sighed. My previous thoughts aside, I knew that saving the kid was at least the right move.


Quest Complete!

Rescue Upa!

The dastardly Red Ribbon have kidnapped Bora’s son, Upa. For what reason, he does not know. You have chosen to help the man rescue his adorable little boy before it’s too late!

Reward: 80,000 XP, Massive Increase in Rep with inhabitants of the Land of Korin, 5 Levels to [Ironize]!

Ironize – Lv 7(0%/Active) : Allows the user to imbue their body with the special, hard properties afforded by all metals. As a result of being a highly defensive technique, however, the user takes a significant hit to movement speed.

+57% Physical Resistance

-90% Movement Speed


You have gained a level!

Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 38 (17,500/50,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 47,050/61,074
MP: 33,000/54,445
Ki: 45,000/82,317

STR: 150 ; [304]
VIT: 160 ; [324]
AGI: 200 ; [400]
INT: 136 ; [197]
WIS: 132 ; [191]

Points: 5

Battle Power: 170, [344]

I stared at the notifications as Upa and his father stayed in each other’s embrace, speaking in low tones.

An increase to [Ironize]. I thought in mild surprise. Useful skill, overall— damn hard to level with nothing to train with. It’ll be even harder now, but five levels are five levels, I suppose.

I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Bora eventually got back up with some difficulty, prompting me to dismiss the windows in order to engage him in conversation.

“You have kept your word.” Bora said as he forced himself to walk over to me, his tiny son doing his best to keep the man up. “For that, you will have my eternal gratitude, Ten of South City.”

I frowned, feeling mildly concerned for the guy despite my annoyance with all that had happened. “Are you sure you should be up as you are right now?”

Bora grunted. “I have enough strength for this.”

“You haven’t answered my— nevermind.” I said, huffing. “If you have the strength to dismiss my concern, you’re probably fine.”

Bora’s eyes moved over to Chichi, who was bound and on her back. “Your friend, Chichi. Is she all right?”

No, and it’s your fault. My mind raged but I forced the words down before they could erupt from my mouth. “She… Whatever was supposed to happen to your son, happened to her instead.”

“You…” Bora said as he took another weak step forward, his eyes roving over Chichi’s changed skin tone. “Come, let’s bring her into the tent. She can sleep on my bed of furs.”

I swallowed, feeling mollified and mildly reassured by the man’s gesture, but shook my head. “No. I can’t untie her.”

“I sense there is a long story behind this…” Bora said, pressing a hand on his son’s shoulder as he led everyone by to the remains of the campfire. I followed him without words, keeping Chichi next to me as I sat down and told him more or less what happened, keeping a lid on the more gory parts so that his young boy wouldn’t be too bothered by it.

Judging by Bora’s severe frowning, I gathered that he’d cottoned on to the true gravity of what I had done.

“An entire base of soldiers, positioned near the edge of the territory of Lord Korin.” Bora said as he handed everyone another stick of dried meat before biting into his own. “And you’ve faced them all while your friend attempted to find my son in their laboratories, only for her to become… Infected?”

I nodded. “That’s the gist of it. Whatever happened to her turned her into… something else.”

‘I have to kill you.’ Chichi’s words rang through my mind, and I felt my heart twist in anguish again.

“Then I am truly sorry.” Bora said, bowing his head to me in deep apology. “It is this quest that has caused her to be harmed. The blame is mine for imposing this unto you, Ten of South City.”

“I—” I said and closed my mouth.

“True, my actions did not directly cause this, but your friend has been harmed regardless. I must make amends.”

Part of me wanted to agree with him, insult and yell at him and his stupid kid for getting Chichi hurt, but another part of me knew that Chichi would have accepted any harm which may have come to her, if it meant that she could save that young boy’s life.

I sighed, instead, biting into my food quietly for a few moments before speaking again. “It— it’s fine. Chichi is… She’s a great person. If she could do it all over again, knowing that she would end up infected in the process, she… She still would.”

“Then she is truly good.” Bora said, raising his head for a moment before turning it to the still unconscious woman. A second later, he turned his eyes to mine. “Lord Korin will be able to help her. I know it.”

“Lord Korin.” I said slowly. “What would some hermit up a tower be able to do against this kind of horrible scientific experiment? I mean this with all due respect— it’s not like he has any experience with this sort of thing.”

Bora opened his mouth but closed it; he had no answer to that. Another second passed, and he tried again. “It would not hurt you to try.”

“Hm.” I said, biting into the meat again. And maybe the guardian above, if all else fails.

My eyes moved towards the tall tower which reached high into the sky, losing sight of it behind the clouds. “Can I even climb this thing?”

“It has been done before.”

I made a noise, trying to put a number to how high this thing was, but its top was way beyond the cloudline. Even what I could see was so far up that it was hard to make any accurate measurement by sight.

It didn’t matter; I would get there, no matter what.

“Then I have no time to waste, do I?” I said, getting up and dusting myself off. “I’ve a tower to climb.”

“Already?” Bora said, turning his head up towards me in shock. “But you’ve been through such an ordeal. You cannot go so soon— you must recover, Ten.”

“Doesn’t matter. I can’t delay this.” I said, shaking my head as I pointed towards the still-unconscious Chichi. “I’m not able to keep her down forever. Every time, she grows more resistant to my trick and, sooner or later, she will wake up again. I…”

What she would do when she got back up was left unsaid, but judging from the tenseness of the man beside me, he understood well enough.

“I can’t let that happen. I won’t.” I said and moved towards Chichi so I could figure out a way to tie her to my back.

“Wait!” Bora said, getting to his feet with some difficulty. “At least allow me the chance to aid you in whichever way I can.”

“Papa!” Upa cried out in worry, but Bora was undaunted.

“I am fine, son.” Bora said before addressing me once more. “I will bring my strongest rope— able to even withstand a Tyrannosaurus Rex’ strength.”

I gauged the worth of his words for only a few seconds before nodding in acceptance. “Thank you.”

“It’s the least we could do.” Bora said, nodding as he moved towards one of the side-tents. “Come, Upa.”

I sat down beside the campfire once more, my eyes automatically moving towards Chichi. Any other day, I would have smiled at her almost-peaceful looking expression. However, I knew the truth.

Every time I brushed my energy against hers, I felt it; a sort of chaotic, bloodthirsty dark power infecting her with its mere presence. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the kind of pain Chichi’s soul was likely enduring, having her own power intimately tied to such an abomination.

Still, I did my best to make sure she was as comfortable as possible before we had to leave. It was a hollow gesture, but one that made me feel better.

I let out a deep exhale of frustration, anger and despair. “I’m sorry Chichi. This is my fault…”

I closed my mouth, shaking my head. If she were awake and back to normal, Chichi would have likely slapped me in the mouth for even daring to say that. It didn’t matter if I was right or not, I imagined that, had I rejected her aid with the Red Ribbon Army, Chichi would have come anyway.

Maybe it was one of those inevitable quirks of fate other people always seemed to love talking about? I supposed I would never know.

The sound of slow footsteps brought my attention back towards Upa and Bora. Bora had a considerable length of rope slung over his shoulder while Upa was carrying a small bottle full of clear liquid.

I got back to my feet, giving the two a nod.

“I assume you wish to tie your friend to your back.” Bora said as he let the thick rope fall down to the earth, his extremely strained muscles relaxing from the loss of unwanted weight. “Unless you wish to have her suspended beneath you?”

“…What would you suggest?” I said, not at all sure. “If she’s tied to my back, any single movement she makes might destabilize me and get me to fall…”

“A situation you’d rather avoid. I agree.” Bora said with a nod. “I would suggest having her suspended beneath, with a makeshift harness around you to spread the force of her movements evenly, thus allowing you to keep your balance.”

I nodded; it wasn’t perfect by any means, but the idea was growing on me. “And if I want to knock her out, it’s only a matter of pulling Chichi up to me.”

“Precisely.” Bora said, kneeling beside the girl and preparing her bindings together.

“And the bottle?” I said, gesturing at Upa.

“A natural adhesive.” Bora explained, taking the bottle from his son and placing some of the viscous liquid on the girl’s palms as well as all the creases formed where her limbs pushed together. “Not particularly strong and not harmful, but it will make her movements that much harder.”

Actually very helpful. I thought, though I still wasn’t too sure. “And you’re sure it’s not dangerous or toxic?”

“I am.” Bora assured me, gesturing at the leaf bandages stuck to his body before going back to work. “It is what I use for my own bandages— the effect will fade in about two days, but you could simply separate her limbs with force. It would certainly hurt, but it does not damage or rip the skin.”

“I see.” I said, accepting the man’s words as truth and watching him work as I attempted to rest some more.

Another ten minutes passed before the man spoke again, gesturing at the trussed up, unconscious Chichi before holding up a few bits of rope. “It is done. It would take an extreme, monstrous strength to escape these bindings. Come.”

I moved towards him, allowing Bora to tie the rope around my shoulders, chest and waist, forming a makeshift harness with an ease borne from years of practice.

“I have been able to move great boulders with my body thanks to this harness.” Bora said, tightening the last knot and giving the rope a firm tug to demonstrate the harness’ capability. “It is done.”

Giving the rope a few tugs of my own, I nodded in satisfaction. He was indeed right. I just hoped that the bindings would hold. Strong as the ropes were, Chichi was far smaller than a T-Rex, and undoubtedly stronger at this point.

An application of greater force over a small area… I thought as I gave Chichi a quick look. It wouldn’t take much. A flare of her ki and she might be free again.

Still, any help was better than none. “Thank you, Bora. I won’t forget this.”

Bora shook his head in response. “As I said earlier, it’s the least we could do. You saved my son. For that, I will eternally be in your debt.”

“Right. Well, wish me luck.” I said, exhaling before taking Chichi in my arms and moving her towards the base of the tower.

I leapt up a few feet, using the tower’s etchings and carvings as makeshift handholds with ease and nodding to myself. Strong and sturdy— I won’t have to worry about not having anything to grab onto.

And so the climb began.

“Good luck, Ten.” “Good luck, Mister Ten!” The two voices came from beneath me, and I spared them a single nod before looking up again.

“Here goes.”

I reached up, latching onto a small crevice and feeling the rough texture of the stone plates scrape lightly against my skin. I pulled myself up with ease, barely feeling the weight of the suspended Chichi underneath.

My face gained an expression of determination. I would do this.

And so the climb began.

In a matter of seconds, I had already passed the treeline. I continued my ascent, making sure to quickly check over Chichi every now and again; it wouldn’t do for me to accidentally smash her head against the stone plates.

As the minutes turned into hours, the world below me started to shrink, becoming smaller and smaller with each passing moment. The wind picked up, tugging at my clothes and hair, threatening to throw me off balance, but I remained focused, my attention fixed on the next handhold, the next foothold, the next step.

The smells, sights and sounds of the forest were long gone. I wasn’t sure when it was that I broke through the clouds, but suddenly everything around me was white. The sun shined through the clouds, casting a soft, diffused light over everything.

Looking down, I saw the clouds stretching out beneath me like a vast, undulating ocean. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before— at least with my own eyes and not behind a glass window or computer screen. The clouds were billowy and soft, with shades of white and gray blending together in a stunning display of nature’s beauty.

For a single moment, I was brought back to a moment in the past in which I’d been battling against the storm on the sea during my search for the elusive Master Roshi. Back then, it had been me and the old boat versus nature’s wrath.

How far I’ve come since then. I thought and immersed myself in past memories as I continued to climb the tower. I can’t let it all be for nothing. I can’t let Chichi lose herself to this disease. I have to do this!

The sun which had been beating on me all day was beginning to set in the far distance, painting the sky with oranges and reds. Already, I could feel the cold setting in and hurried my pace slightly.

I heard a thump underneath me and turned my head down to see that Chichi’s head had collided with the stone plate of the tower. I winced, looking down at her for a moment.

She opened her eyes and immediately began to struggle. She swung herself left and right, using her own body weight in an attempt to pull me off of the tower.

“Stop!” I shouted down at her, but she ignored me. “You’ll get us both killed, you dumbass!”

“That is acceptable.”

“Stop it, damn it all!” I let go of one of my handholds and slowly pulled her up to me. “Chichi, you have to fight this, please!”

“I am fighting this. I am.” She replied in the same monotone even as she strained against her bindings. Suddenly, she stopped. “You have bound me well.”

I stared at her, so surprised by her sudden stop that I allowed myself to relax.

Big mistake. A small blade of Ki burst out of her bindings, and I let go of her rope, letting her fall back down as I hugged the tower as quickly as I could, feeling a line of fire drag across the back of my head.

-500 HP!

If I had been even slightly slower, that would’ve lopped my head off— higher Battle Power or not! I thought in alarm and turned to see that her arms had already escaped her bindings. With one hand, she pulled herself up the rope to me, charging Ki in the other.

The adhesive had not lasted three seconds against her strength, but it was still enough time for me to react.

I grit my teeth and kicked her occupied hand, making her lose the ground she’d gained. Chichi took one look at me before turning her attention to the rope between us. She raised her hand to tear through the rope with a Ki enhanced chop, but I pulled hard on it, swinging her around and making her lose her balance for the split second I needed to pull her to me.

One shot. I thought and charged energy into my palm just as she reached me. I moved to press my hand against the back of her neck, but Chichi was prepared, swiveling in place and launching her Ki charged hand in a knife strike to my neck.

Instinctively, I let go, letting myself fall as the woman’s hand sank wrist deep into the stone plate. I grabbed her by her other wrist, pulling her down with my weight and climbing over to reach the back of her neck.

-1,000 Ki!

The energy invaded her body, slowly overwhelming her own as I tried to keep her from moving a single inch. But Chichi was growing more and more resilient to this technique, even stopping the advance of my energy flat a few times.

Gritting my teeth, I injected a little more Ki into her.

-500 Ki!

Almost instantly, she stilled and went limp again. I carefully moved back to the tower before extracting her hand from it. Awkwardly, I shoved her arms back into the rope and did my best to tie her up again— I wasn’t sure why I even bothered considering she broke through the previous restraints with ease, but every split second of her slowness counted here.

Once done, I grabbed hold of the tower again, staring at the small hole in the plate. That strike was a sure kill— at least, I thought it was. I wasn’t sure what my [Gamer’s Body] skill’s limits were, but I knew that a hit like that would have killed anyone else.

One couldn’t live without a functioning trachea, after all.

My frown deepened as I turned my gaze upwards once again.

“No time to lose.”

I resumed my climb, the chill from the incoming night only encouraging me to go faster. There was no other choice.

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One Comment

  1. FrostyDaHomeboy FrostyDaHomeboy

    I enjoyed binging this and I hope for more. That being said with how much other work you do, please don’t burn yourself out.

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