AN: S-s-six hundred reviews? Candy-chan faints Candy-chan jumps back up, squeals, and hugs every single person who's reviewed Ohmigod, I love you all, you hear me! You guys are awesome, the bomb, the cream of my corn, the apple of my pie!
So now we're into the home stretch: the hunt for the Dragonballs! Also, there will be one more little thing for everyone next chapter. We're going to get four of the Dragonballs in this chapter, three next chapter, with another little Easter egg. Then the wish, and a short epilogue, to round this fic out at thirty-five chapters. These next couple chappies should be nice and long for your reading pleasure.
You have no idea how difficult this really was—to come up with DB locations that were moderately plausible, but could still be used to achieve some sort of humor aspect. It wasn't easy…ugh…but I think I did an okay job. You should have seen some of the ideas we've come up with in the past—I actually once wrote a chapter (never posted) in which Eighteen, ChiChi, and Videl found one of the Dragonballs in Master Roshi's porno room…and the sad part is that I might use it for this story, just because it was so fun to write and everything. I might use it next chapter…maybe…
Enjoy! I don't own DBZ!
Chapter Thirty-Two—The Dragonball Hunt, Part I
The day had finally arrived. It was four months to the day that Goten had made that fateful wish, and finally the hunt for the Dragonballs could begin. And they were ready for it.
Preparations had started a week ago—basically, the 'preparations' consisted of Bulma digging out her old radar, making sure it still worked, and tweaking it a little bit. And now, they would begin. The plans had been laid: Bulma would remain at Capsule Corporation, maintaining it as a sort of headquarters, a home base. From there, she would direct the hunt. The others would each be given a location and a communication device, and sent out into the world to find the elusive orange spheres.
It was so simple. By dividing the task, they would gather the Dragonballs more quickly, and could therefore wish Gohan back to normal sooner. The hardest part had been getting Vegeta to go along with the plan, but a few well-placed threats from Bulma had changed his mind, and he was ready to go with the rest.
Most had teamed up for the sake of…well, for the sake of teaming up. It was more fun with someone to converse with (as long as you weren't Vegeta or Piccolo), and if there was trouble somewhere along the way, there was the classic safety in numbers.
Gohan, Goten, and Trunks had been teamed together, as had Yamcha and Krillen. Videl and Number Eighteen had also grouped together to search. Vegeta and Piccolo had both announced that they would go solo, and no one had argued.
That made five groups, leaving two Dragonballs without searchers. In the end, though, Bulma had simply reasoned that a couple people or groups would simply have to go out again. Not a big deal.
And so the hunt began. At Bulma's insistence, the children were sent out first. If they caused trouble, that would leave plenty of time to deal with it. And besides, they needed to make sure that Gohan, Goten, and Trunks weren't out past their bedtimes.
"You're there!" Bulma's voice came over the radio, alerting the three boys that they were good to land and hunt down the Dragonball. Obediently, the three touched down and looked around.
They were in a small village. Judging by the houses and such, it was probably a poorer village. There weren't many people out and about, so Gohan and crew wandered the streets without interruption. Eventually, they decided to ask someone if they'd seen the elusive Dragonball. There was a building nearby—it appeared to be the largest building in the entire village—and the front doors were open, so they went in there.
And to their amazement, there was the Dragonball.
It was sitting on a decorative pedestal, surrounded by glowing candles and burning incense. Goten sneezed at the smell of incense, then wailed, "It stinks in here!"
"Shut up," Trunks retorted automatically. "Let's get the Dragonball and get out of here."
"But you can't take that!" a man protested, seemingly appearing out of nowhere; he placed himself in their path, standing between them and their prize. "That is a gift from our god and protector, an idol sent to us from him as praise for our centuries of devoted worship. It protects our village."
"What?" Gohan asked incredulously.
"Our village has worshipped our God for generations! Centuries!" the man explained, not moving from their path. "For years, we have waited for a sign from Him to show his favor. And this morning, the sign we have been waiting for appeared! A simple rock transformed before our very eyes into this sacred relic. Surely, it is a sign from God that we are blessed! It is a gift from our protector, and to take it from the village would surely bring disaster upon us!"
The three chibis stared at the man for a long moment following his impassioned speech.
Then Trunks raised an eyebrow and nodded slowly. "Riiiiiight…so anyway, we'll just be taking that and get on our way, then…" He was surprised when the man stepped in front of him again.
"Surely you are a demon, sent to ravage our village! Begone!" he waved his arms at them, like he was shooing chickens away. Other villagers, overhearing their conversation, were coming in, having armed themselves with such weapons as pitchforks and clubs. It was quite rudimentary, really.
Well, this was something they hadn't quite counted on. While fighting for the Dragonballs was nothing new to them, they hadn't really ever had to fight ordinary people. All three of them knew the stories of the Red Ribbon Army—the closest thing to 'ordinary people' that had ever tried to assemble the seven orbs. But the Army had been armed with tanks, guns, a really short leader with a lot of money, and a whole bunch of generals and commanders who were named after colors. Nothing ordinary there.
"Umm, look. We're not demons," Gohan said as calmly as he could. "We're just some kids. And that's not a gift from your God or whatever. It's called a Dragonball, and we need it to make our wish."
"Yeah!" Goten chirped.
"Never!" the man cried, and the villagers rallied behind him.
"Uh-huh…" Trunks inched closer to Gohan and leaned over. "What do we do now, smart guy?"
Gohan pondered his options for a moment. Finally, he decided on the simplest course of action. "Grab it and run!" And he did. He jumped over the man's head and darted up to the pedestal, kicking in Saiyan speed to do it. And before most of the villagers could blink, he had the Dragonball clutched in his hot little hands.
"Get them!" the man who had told them the story shouted, and the villagers charged.
"Goten! Trunks! Don't hurt anyone if you can absolutely avoid it!" Gohan hollered, jumping out of reach of a pitchfork someone had swung at his head. "They're not bad guys, they're just trying to protect something they believe in!"
A large sweatdrop ran down the back of Gohan's head as he saw Trunks holding a guy three feet in the air by the front of his shirt. "What'd you say, Gohan?"
"Put him down."
"Awww, you don't let me have any fun."
"You're right, I don't. Now let's get out of here!"
Somehow—Gohan wasn't quite sure how—they managed to get over everyone's heads and out the front doors. Granted, if they'd really wanted to, they could have just gone through the roof, but that would make things too easy. Plus, then the poor villagers would have to rebuild.
Rejoicing, the three chibis shot into the sky.
"Success!" Gohan chirped into the radio device that linked them to Bulma.
"Awesome!" she replied cheerily. "Head on back, guys. Good job."
Gohan clipped the radio back onto the belt of his gi and studied the Dragonball in his other hand. Four stars. He just couldn't believe the irony of that. But either way, they'd secured it for their wish.
"That was some trouble, getting that away from those people," Trunks commented. "They were really willing to fight for this thing."
"Of course they'd fight for it. They actually thought this thing protected them," Gohan sighed. "That's ridiculous, of course."
"I know!" Trunks rolled his eyes, while Goten just giggled. "What will people think of next?"
Unbeknowst to the children, as they sped off across the sky, the village was in mourning for their lost treasure. Suddenly, the ground began shaking. And in a few minutes, most of the town had been levelled. By an earthquake. Minutes laters, clouds rolled in, and they had a monsoon. And a tornado whipped across the plain.
While surprisingly few lives were lost in the disastrous onslaught, most of their cows perished, and they had no milk for their cookies. Poor dears.
"No killing, no blowing things up, no going Super Saiyan, and no traumatizing small children."
Bulma's words rang in Vegeta's head, and he sighed. Damn woman, not letting him have any fun.
But he had reasoned long ago that it would just be easier to obey and go along with it. He simply stored it away in his 'Remember This for When I Need Some Leverage on the Damn Woman' file. He could probably work this one several times.
Finally, he landed. This was approximately the place where she had instructed him to go, citing that the Dragonball was lurking somewhere around here. Somewhat begrudgingly, he pulled the radio from his belt and spoke into it, "Am I close?"
"Pretty close. It's a little to the east still," Bulma's voice crackled back, a little too cheerfully for Vegeta's taste. But they signed off, he reclipped the handheld radio on his belt, and started going east. Eventually, he happened upon a small town. It reminded him of a slightly more modern version of the one in that American movie the woman had made him watch, The Music Man. A little place, self-sufficient, with neat rows of shops and houses lining the streets.
It was so perfect, he wanted to gag. But he gathered his resolve and ventured in.
He noticed, relatively quickly, that there was something going on in this town. Some sort of special occasion. There were brightly-colored balloons and streamers decorating buildings and streetlamps, and there were people milling around everywhere. He seemed to be on the main street in this little town, for strung between two buildings, above the street, was a large banner that read Welcome to Annual Troll Days! It was decorated in bright colors, almost eye-blinding.
Vegeta tilted his head to one side, regarding the banner. A troll? What the hell was a troll?
As if some mischievous God (probably Dende, who had just secured an appointment in the afterlife for himself) had heard his very thoughts, a woman appeared at his elbow. She was mild-aged, plump, brown haired, wearing clothes that burned right through his eyelids—how in the name of the seven mad gods did anyone managed to create those colors?!? And she was waaaaaaaaaaaaay too perky for Vegeta's tastes. Hell, even Kakarott probably wouldn't have been able to handle this much happiness.
"Thank goodness you're finally here!" the woman bubbled, grabbing his arm and pulling him along. He was too surprised to resist, and even if he'd remembered that he didn't care, he did remember that he was forbidden to harm anyone. So he grudgingly went along, inwardly cringing as the woman continued babbling; she seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he didn't have a single clue what she was talking about.
"We didn't think you were going to show up, but you're here now. You're late, you know. Very unprofessional," she was weaving through the crowd as she spoke, dragging the Saiyan Prince behind her. She broke off from her jabbering every so often to greet someone, and then picked right back up again without missing a beat. "Your hair isn't the right color, but we don't have time to worry about that. And why couldn't you have had a little more color in your wardrobe, that dark blue just isn't what you should be wearing. Honestly, you should have planned a little better…"
Vegeta felt his IQ dropping. One more minute of this, and he would probably go crazy.
But finally, blessedly, she stopped and released him. He fought down the urge to run away as fast as he could, and instead followed her stare. "Over there, that's the float you'll be riding on."
He hadn't thought he could be any more horrified by where he was. But he had just been proven to be oh-so-wrong. The monstrosity in front of him was an enormous pink and blue contraption covered with flowers and happy smiling faces. It was disgusting, horrible, terrible, and many other –ibles. Vegeta had never before seen such a horrifying sight.
And all around it were people in large rubber mascot-outfits. They were little naked beasts (though they lacked certain proper portions of…ah, anatomy). Some had sparkly jewels in various shapes where their belly buttons were supposed to be, and all had hair that was surprisingly similar to Vegeta's in style: tall and pointed, but as opposed to Vegeta, those beings had hair in a rainbow of colors. The eyes of these beings were shiny and glassy, and they were all smiling. It was…creepy!
"What the hell…?" Vegeta muttered.
How she could have heard him when she was still babbling a mile a minute, he didn't know. But without a break in what she had been saying, she replied, "They're Trolls, of course, now you'll be standing up there…" And she was back on whatever inane topic she'd been on before.
Vegeta suddenly decided that he had someplace else he needed to be. Right away. Without wasting another minute. And so without a sound, he decided to bend the rules and use his Saiyan speed. He zipped away, managing not to mow anybody down physically, though the wind cast by his passing knocking several children and one dog to the ground.
The idiot-woman continued talking. She didn't notice that her captive had escaped, and was replaced by another man who had bright green hair, standing straight up. She turned around, and immediately began fawning over how much better he looked now.
Meanwhile, Vegeta had escaped to the plain on the other side of town. He stared back, waivered for a moment, and then decided that the satisfaction he would get from destroying the town would in no way be enough to justify the pain and suffering he would endure at Bulma's hands if he caused any harm.
"Vegeta?" Bulma said into the radio. "You're right next to it. Look around you."
With that, it was relatively easy to find the small orange sphere. It was wedged in between two rocks. It was something that one would not have noticed unless one was looking for it. He pulled out his radio and called back, "I've got it. And let me tell you how much you owe me for this one, woman…"
Ah, a forest. The beauty of nature.
Piccolo couldn't have cared less. He wanted to find the damn Dragonball and get back to Capsule Corporation so they could get this over with. The sooner Gohan was back to normal, the better. Then he wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.
And who knows? Maybe if Gohan was back to his eighteen year old, non-troublemaking-self, that damn Voice of DOOM would go away and never bother them again. Hey, he could dream, couldn't he?
This was where Bulma had said the Dragonball would be. So he just needed to look around. Get the ball, and head back to West City and get this whole fiasco over with. Then he could get back to his waterfall and his meditation. He was losing valuable time!
He moved through the trees, observing. Many small, sickeningly cute forest animals scampered out to look at him curiously. It was liked something out of a Kami-damned Disney movie! He resisted the urge to blast them all, knowing that Gohan would scold him, and continued looking. He did, however, glare at a nearby deer. Apparently, Bambi wasn't too fond of mean looks, and darted away through the trees.
Suddenly, he heard voices. Loud, excited voices, jabbering like hyperactive children.
"Look, over there!"
"Bigfoot's not green!"
"Could it be the missing link?"
"Yes, the missing link!"
"We must catch it!"
There was the sound of an engine roaring, and the chase began. And Piccolo found himself having to avoid a group of tourists in a Jeep, all holding cameras, who had somehow decided that he was some sort of scientific mystery or oddity.
Piccolo grabbed his radio and barked into it, "Bulma, where the hell is it? I'm being chased!"
"It's just ahead," Bulma replied, letting the language roll off her back. "Getting warmer…getting warmer…you're there! It should be right around you!"
After a few seconds of searching, Piccolo spotted that glimmer of orange, sitting in the fork of a high treebranch. Getting it was a relative breeze. "Okay, let's head back—" Piccolo started to mutter to himself, but he was interrupted as the tourist Jeep came through the foliage, cameras flashing.
"Might be a new species!"
"Maybe they'll name it after me!"
"I don't think so, jerk!"
And then a fight broke out. As he listened, the Namekian warrior felt a grudging shred of respect for these unknown people. Some of them had very incredible vocabulary in some areas. Judging by the positions one of the voices recommended to a few of the others, someone in there was quite well-versed in the Kama Sutra.
"Oh, for the love of Kami…" Piccolo muttered. Having had enough, he gave into his first impulse, and employed the good ol' eye lasers. He fried the Jeep—and gave the tourists inside a good shock as well. In fact, they were thrown into the air by the force of it, landing all over the place. A few landed in trees. And it pleased him to no end to see smoke billowing from all the cameras. "Serves you right."
And with that, he took off. He left a shocked group of tourists, a melted vehicle, and a few former homes for birds and squirrels toppled to the ground.
"Okay, are we close?" Krillen asked into the device.
"You're right on top of it!" Bulma's voice crackled back. "But I want to warn you, I think someone found this one. It moved from where it was when I sent you out. Not by much, though. I'm guessing it landed somewhere outdoors, and someone found it and took in inside. If there's a building near you when you land, it's probably there."
"Got it," Krillen agreed, and he and Yamcha swooped down to land on a sidewalk, amidst dozens of startled and curious onlookers. They ignored the questions, stares, and a few shrieks about aliens (ridiculous—Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo were the aliens!), and set about their search. After one further communique with Bulma, they found the place—sure enough, it was a building.
A very large building, actually, and a fairly impressive one at that. It was painted white, with pillars in the front. They stared for a few minutes before deciding that this was the most likely place to check. So they simply jumped over the fence and headed in, ignoring the protests and odd looks of numerous people on the way. They walked in casually through the front door and began looking around.
The place was as large on the inside as it was on the outside. After looking for a while, they decided that maybe they need more help, and radio-ed Bulma again. She narrowed the field on the radar, and was then able to direct them until they were right beside the Dragonball's location.
Krillen and Yamcha looked around. It appeared they were in some sort of office. A strange office, though. It was round, for whatever reason. But other than that, it seemed to be a very nice office, with windows lining the wall behind the desk letting in plenty of sunshine.
"So it's in here somewhere," Yamcha walked in and stood in the middle of the room. "Let's get searching. I'll take the desk." And so they began hunting. Krillen looked around various other things in the room, while Yamcha rooted cheerfully through the desk drawers. Finally, after about five minutes, there was a cry of victory.
"Got it!" Yamcha stood up, holding a tiny orange ball in his hand for the viewing pleasure of his searching companion. "Two stars, and all mine. It was in the bottom drawer."
"Great. Let's go," Krillen cheered. This was without a doubt the easiest Dragonball search they'd ever had. Both were enjoying their victory as they headed back towards the door. But there was someone there, watching them. A man in a suit, staring at them through wide eyes.
"Who are you?" he asked in a heavily accented voice. "And what're you doin' here?"
Before either of them could answer or think of an excuse, the man in the suit began freaking out. Completely spazzing. He started running back and forth, waving his arms in the air, screaming something about 'terrorists' and 'weapons' and 'bombs' and 'why are they taking the pretty ball I found outside, 'cause it's mine!'
For a while, it was kind of amusing. But after about ten minutes of screaming, running around, and flailing, with no end in sight, the novelty wore off, and it began to get quite old.
"Should we stop this?" Krillen whispered. When Yamcha nodded, Krillen did the only thing he could think of: he chucked the spastic man on the chin. However, given Krillen's training, 'chucking' the guy's chin was enough to send him flying three feet and knock him completely unconscious.
"Well, that was easy," Yamcha observed, and they stepped over the now-comatose man and left the building. Once back on the sidewalk, they made a quick call to Bulma to let her know of their success, then took off into the air, heading back for Capsule Corporation.
"That wasn't too hard," Krillen commented. "I wonder who that guy was, anyway…"
Meanwhile, back in the oddly-shaped office, a man in a uniform—crisp white pants and a midnight blue dress jacket bearing a variety of medals and decorations, with a white hat tucked under one arm—was leaning over the prone figure of the unconscious man, still lying in the doorway. The uniformed man asked, in concern, "Are you all right, Mr. President?"
AN: Candyland sits patiently and waits for flames I know I probably pissed SOMEBODY off with that last, but I just could not help myself. If you want to chastise me, feel free—it's your freedom of speech, just as this is mine. Two years posting on this site, and this is the first time I've ever editorialized. Please forgive. I don't mean to get all political. Actually, if you think I'm bad, there's actually a fic on this site called, "George W. Bush vs. the Z Warriors." You think I'm editorializing? Read that fic. 'Nuff said.
Anyway, I hope I didn't offend anyone badly enough that they won't come back for the next chapter. It promises to be a fun one, because I'll be using a great idea that one of my delightful reviewers gave me. The last three Dragonballs are found, and Gohan has one last challenge as a chibi. It will undoubtedly be a very long chapter, so it'll probably take me a lot longer to get it written. Please be patient. Ja ne!
PS. I am still working slowly (but surely) on A Very Chibi Christmas. And ideally, I'll get the first chapter of that up before I finish this story. I think it'll only be a three-parter, if all goes according to plan. So keep your eyes peeled, because it promises to be very interesting. Very interesting indeed grin