Not Quite the Story You Know
Bulma flew down a mountain road, pushing her customized TURBO car far beyond the normal limits of its model. A quick check of her Dragon Radar showed that she was still five kilometers away for her destination. At her destination awaited the one thing she wanted more than just about anything in the world: a Dragon Ball. It was amazing, when she thought about it, how her dad had managed to stumble across one of the seven mystical orbs that, when gathered together, could grant a person any one wish. The fact that he bought it as a souvenir for a couple hundred zenny was even more amazing. Of course, as soon as she learned what it was, she immediately built a device capable of locating the strange energy the things gave off before going to gather them.
She thought of what she could do with her Dragon Balls once she gathered all seven. Maybe she'd wish for the perfect boyfriend! No, that was silly. She was rich! She could buy the perfect boyfriend. No, she had a really good idea of what to wish for with these magical gems of ultimate power: A basket of strawberries! Delicious, delectable strawberries.
Bulma was so busy thinking about how wonderful it would be when she gathered all of the Dragon Balls, she didn't see the small girl carrying a giant fish across the middle of the road until it was too late. She swerved desperately to avoid her but still crashed into the girl sending both her and her fish flying and the girl smashing face first into a tree. Oh God, she'd killed a child! Or a midget. Or a child midget. It didn't matter. It was okay. She was out in the middle of nowhere and her car wasn't even damaged. No one would ever know. It was fine. Totally, totally… was she moving?!
"Are you alright?" Bulma asked the little girl. "Don't worry, I can help!" Bulma reached into her bag for her phone but stopped and stared when the little girl glared at her.
"I'll teach you to try and take my fish, you big monster!" the little girl shouted and before Bulma had a single clue what was going on, this tiny girl was under her car and lifting it off the ground. Even as it was happening to her, Bulma told herself it was impossible. The girl was maybe fifty pounds and all of four feet tall. All the laws of physics told her that- Oh God, now she was flying!
"Now come out of your shell and fight me!" the little girl demanded. Shakily, holding her pistol in one hand, Bulma looked out of the window of her upturned car and saw the girl brandishing some kind of stick at her. "Don't tell me you're done already!" The girl sounded almost disappointed. Bulma might have said something clever like "Not yet, I'm not!" but all she could do at the moment was shriek in fear for her life and squeeze the trigger until it clicked. The girl was down for a moment and, in the silence, Bulma wondered if it was really possible to murder a child in self defense. Then the girl stood up. Without a single hole in her body. She held her head and looked like she was hurt but it was more like if Bulma had hit her with a rock instead of bullets.
"How the heck are you alive?" Bulma screamed, throwing the empty gun at the little girl. The girl grabbed her stick again and charged and it was then that Bulma remembered that the twerp had called her a "monster." "Wait, wait!" Bulma screamed, holding up her hands defensively. Even though she'd been in a dead sprint, the strange child stopped in her tracks inches from the car. "I'm a human, okay! I'm not a monster!" The girl blinked at her, taking a few steps back defensively.
"A human, huh?" she asked incredulously. "Come out here and prove it!" Bulma climbed slowly out of the car, wondering how in the heck she was supposed to do that. The girl kept stepping back as Bulma walked towards her. She was afraid, Bulma thought. Like a wild animal.
"I won't bite," Bulma said in a reassuring voice, trying to smile and forget her terror, hoping her open hands weren't shaking. "I'm just a regular person, like you!" the girl took a few steps forward then began circling Bulma, looking her up and down suspiciously.
"But you're all scrawny!" the girl pointed out, poking Bulma with her stick. Bulma just told herself the girl meant she was thin, trying to repress her usual urge to scream with indignation at the insult. She wanted to stay alive.
"That's because I'm a girl, silly!" Bulma told the other girl. "Just like you!" The kid was in front of Bulma again, taking a few steps back. "Well, maybe not just like you." The girl was bulky for her age. Bulma could see muscles in her arms, for crying out loud. And her black hair pointed out in all different directions like she'd just gotten out of bed. And she had a tail. Bulma watched it swish around as the girl thought, taking slow, deep breaths to stop herself from screaming.
"Oh, wow!" the girl said. "I've never met another girl before!" That surprised Bulma. Her eyes went wide, and her blue eyebrows shot up her face.
"What, you've never met another human before?" she asked, sarcastically.
"No," the girl said bluntly. "Except for my Grandpa, you're the only human I've ever seen." Bulma thought about that in an awkward silence. How was that possible? How did they even get any food? How did they have a house? Being a rich genius, Bulma couldn't comprehend the idea of "roughing it." "But my Grandpa always told me what to do with strangers." Bulma winced but was pleasantly surprised when the girl put her stick back in its little sheath. "I should be polite to them and help them in any way I can as long as no one got hurt. Do you want some lunch?" Bulma let out a sigh of relief then fished out for her Dragon Radar as the girl ran and grabbed the tail of her huge fish. It looked like the Dragon Ball was just down the road. Probably in the little girl's house! This was getting easier by the second.
"Sure!" Bulma said, pretending to be cheerful. "I love fish!" Well, she loved salmon cooked in lemon sauce with asparagus and red potatoes. Somehow, she doubted that this lunch would involve any of those things. She followed after the little girl who was heading right down the road, humming a little tune to herself.
"How'd you get that monster to do what you wanted?" the girl asked. Bulma blinked in confusion. What monster? Oh, wait! She forgot, the kid was an idiot.
"That's no monster, silly!" Bulma corrected her. "It's my car!" Bulma looked over her shoulder at the vehicle and was crestfallen. Broken windows, dented chassis, and two wheels had fallen off. Well, it was her car. The girls eyes went wide in surprise.
"Really?" she asked in wonderment. "Grandpa always told me about cars but I've never seen one! You must be from the city! Tell me all about it!" Bulma shook her head, laughing a little.
"Your grandpa sounds like a very interesting person," Bulma told the girl. "Is he going to have lunch with us?"
"No," the girl told Bulma matter-of-factly. "He died a long time ago. It's just me out here!" That… freaked Bulma out, to say the least. This little girl had been living in the woods, alone, for God knew how long. With no one to talk to but wild animals. Who she then ate. How was she not crazy?
"My name's Bulma," she said, trying to break the awkward silence. The little girl laughed and Bulma's face visibly reddened. People didn't laugh at her! So what if her family had a weird tradition of naming themselves after undergarments. "Oh, yeah? Well what's yours?" She asked defensively.
"My name's Goku," the girl said, looking back over her shoulder with a huge grin. "G, O, K, U." Bulma rolled her eyes and snorted. Like "Goku" was so much better than "Bulma." They walked for a while until they got to what Bulma had to assume was Goku's house. It was a cute little home with a pointed blue roof but Bulma thought it looked like an oversized birdhouse.
"Nice little place you've got here," Bulma told Goku. She had to be friendly for just a few more minutes, she told herself. Then she could grab the Dragon Ball, if it was here, and split.
"Thank you!" Goku said cheerfully, opening the doors of her house. She stopped in the doorway and stared at something. Bulma heard a faint, low humming in the room. "Hey, Grandpa! Are you trying to talk to me?" That didn't make any sense to Bulma. Goku had said her grandfather was dead, didn't she?
"Goku, what are you talking aboooou…-" Bulma stopped herself as she walked into the house, staring in open-mouthed shock. There, sitting on a plush little cushion, was the Dragon Ball, glowing with a mysterious light. She shoved Goku out of the way and ran to the Four Star Ball, grabbing it with both hands and lifting it up into the air. "Yes! Another Dragon Ball! I found i-" But there was a blur of black and purple and the ball was gone. Bulma looked around, startled. It was just in her hand! She looked down and Goku was holding the ball in her hands defensively, tight to her chest.
"Don't touch this!" Goku told Bulma angrily as she assumed a fighting stance. "Keep your hands off my Grandpa!" That made even less sense than before.
"Your… what?" Bulma asked deadpan, trying to take the ball. "Goku, that's just a Dragon Ball." Goku took a step back.
"No! It's the only thing my Grandpa left me to remember him by! I can't let anyone else touch it!" Bulma hadn't expected this, not by a long shot, and if the girl wasn't going to give it to her, Bulma didn't exactly have any way to force the super strong, bullet proof martial artist. The ball started glowing again and Goku held it up to her. "See! He's trying to talk to me!" Bulma sighed, reaching into her fanny pack.
"I don't wanna be rude, Goku, but that's not your grandpa," she held up her Dragon Balls, the Three and Five Star ones. "It's a Dragon Ball! Here, I'll show you." Bulma set her balls down on the little table in the center of the room and Goku cautiously put hers down next to Bulma's. The three balls glowed with light until they were bright yellow, their stars invisible. "When you gather all seven Dragon Balls together, a giant dragon will come out and grant you any wish you want!"
"Any wish?" Goku asked curiously and Bulma nodded eagerly, holding out her hands. That ball was as good as- "Can it bring my Grandpa back to life?" she asked in a small, soft voice; picking the ball up and hugging it to her chest. Bulma suddenly got a horrible, awful, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She had never felt it before but she was pretty sure this is what guilt felt like.
Goku was so excited to go on an adventure with her new friend Bulma. Bulma hadn't really been talking much after lunch but Goku could kind of understand why. She probably had her own plans for what she was going to wish for but she gave them up so Goku could wish for her grandpa back. What a good friend! She was so excited for all the wonders of the big, wide world that she could hardly sleep. What she didn't know, when she finally did fall asleep, was that Bulma had also had a rough time that night, wondering if the world's largest chocolate fountain was really worth going to Hell for. Eventually, she decided that she wasn't doing anything that bad and finally went to sleep herself.
Goku woke Bulma up bright and early the next morning, having found some fruit for their journey. It would be a long journey ahead on foot, especially since Bulma probably wasn't as fast as her. After all, she needed that weird "car" thingy to get around. Bulma threw a rock at Goku when she woke up then went back to sleep. After another couple hours of this, Bulma finally got out of bed.
"Come on, come on!" Goku urged Bulma, dancing around the other girl as she dragged her feet through Goku's house. "Let's go! We've already wasted time waiting for you to move your butt!" Bulma shot her kind of a grumpy look then went outside to her car. Goku didn't know what the heck she was going there for, it was broken. Bulma came out of the car with a small satchel and it was full of little silver beans. Bulma threw one on the ground and out popped another car-thingy! But it only had two wheels. "Wow!" she exclaimed, hands on her cheeks, eyes wide in surprise. "You're a wizard!"
"Meh," was all Bulma said as she hopped in the seat of the car-thingy. Goku hopped in behind her and then, suddenly, they were moving! Goku cried out in surprise, wrapping her arms around Bulma's middle as the whole world turned into a blur. They were moving faster than Goku could run! Cars really were like magic!
The landscape changed around them as they drove and Goku watched with wonderment as the mountains turned into plains and then into forests. This kind of a journey would have taken her days on foot! Eventually, though, they came to a stop. Goku frowned when the car-thingy stopped and Bulma got out of the seat.
"Where are you going?" Goku asked, cocking her head to the side as Bulma made her way for the bushes. Bulma looked back at her, face a little red. She mumbled something and Goku blinked, head still cocked. "Huh?"
"I have to pee!" Bulma blurted out, face bright red. Goku went to get down off the car-thingy and follow her but Bulma's face just got even redder. "I don't need a pee-buddy!" she screamed. "Just stay by the bike and wait!"
'So it's called a bike,' Goku thought as Bulma wandered off into the woods. Goku waited for a while; kicking her feet on the bike seat, getting out of the bike and balancing on her Power Pole, talking to bugs. She heard a pterodactyl scream. Then she heard a Bulma scream but Bulma had told Goku not to follow her so she just shrugged and kept talking to bugs. Eventually, the pterodactyl she'd heard before burst from out of the trees carrying Bulma in one of its talons. Bulma was screaming and kicking then saw Goku and just screamed louder.
"Help me, you idiot!" She shrieked. Goku rolled her eyes. So she didn't want help to find a place to go to the bathroom, but now… Goku took out her Power Pole and twirled it around, aiming at the pterodactyl. "Are you going to throw a stick at it?" Bulma shrieked again in disbelief.
"Power Pole extend!" Goku called out and she was suddenly flying as the magical staff grew hundreds of times its original length. The butt of the staff hit the pterodactyl in the throat, crushing its windpipe and killing it instantly. Goku grabbed Bulma as the beast plummeted to the ground below, one hand still on the Power Pole, the two of them dangling hundreds of feet in the air. Bulma was peeing her pants. Goku kind of giggled at that and Bulma screamed at her some more. Did she do anything besides yell? "Power Pole retract!" The pole shrank and they were back on the ground. Bulma fell to her knees, breathing quickly as she kissed the ground. That seemed kinda weird to Goku so she went off to find the pterodactyl. Now they had meat!
SSVCloud's Note: Just out of the gate, there won't be any Super Saiyan Raditzes or Majin Krillins or anything like that. The changes that will be made are gonna start small and gradually accumulate over time, with most things being in the details. We take some notes from works like Steven Universe, and we try to keep Dragon Ball fun! I want to thank the people of TVTropes for helping me develop this idea, including my co-author Zelenal, with some words of his own.
Zelenal's Note: As stated in the synopsis, our story is exploring what would be different if Goku were a woman, among other changes. The Pilaf Saga is largely the same since there's not much to do there but it only lasts four chapters so please bear with us. After that, the changes will more numerous and will greatly increase once we reach the 21st Budoukai. Also, the overall story will be largely unchanged in terms of general events but the details will be drastically different. The destination remains the same as the manga but the journey will be very different.