A/N: To anyone wondering why I won't be pairing Goku with anyone in this story, one reason is that nearly all of the named girls in Avatar are far too young for him. There's no way I'm pairing the twenty-something Goku with teenagers. Another reason is that I'm treating the DBZ side of the story as including everything the anime did up to Namek blowing up, including Goku's marriage to Chi-Chi and having a son. The final reason is that I'm terrible at writing romance.
Chapter 3: Wandering Warriors
A few weeks of exploring the Earth Kingdom made Goku wish that he knew how to repair the spacecraft that got him to this planet, as he was getting bored wandering around aimlessly. Nearly everyone that saw him flying was amazed by the feat, and it was getting annoying that something so trivial impressed the locals every time. After the third village Goku visited he started landing outside civilization and walking the rest of the way, just so that he could attempt to blend in with the populace.
On a lonely stroll down a trail near some mountains Goku came across a merchant pulling a cart filled with produce. There was a village at the base of one mountain within view, which was the merchant's destination. But coming from the village were five komodo-rhinos each bearing one Fire Nation person, though each rider carried a different kind of weapon. Far behind the komodo-rhinos were a group of girls in green armor, who were chasing the riders out of the village. The beasts were running down the trail straight at the merchant, not slowing down with the cart in their way.
"Not My Cabbages!"
Before the rhinos could ram and demolish the cart in their way Goku ran to intercept, getting between the lead animal and the cart. He grabbed the komodo-rhino's horns and planted his feet into the ground, forcing the animal to halt. The other beasts crashed into the first, all coming to a stop just a few feet from the cart. Every rider fell off the komodo-rhinos and tumbled onto the ground around the merchant, each cursing as they got onto their feet.
The firebender leader Monke saw Goku holding onto the horns of his komodo-rhino, still keeping it in place. "You're going to pay for that!" Monke threatened, about to firebend at Goku. Monke could see the four other members of the Rough Rhinos readying their weapons, a bow, chains, a halberd, and a bomb.
"Cash or coin?" Goku asked, letting go of the animal.
Monke punched a fireball at Goku, which he dodged by leaning backward enough to avoid it. Instead the fireball hit the armored rider with the bomb behind Goku, setting off the explosive. The blast from the bomb threw the armored rider back, out of the fight. The archer in the group shot a flaming arrow, which Goku plucked out of the air and threw it back with enough precision to cut the bow's string in two. The rider with the halberd charged in and swung his weapon at Goku's head, but Goku stepped out of the way and shoved him into the other armed rider.
More fireballs were thrown at Goku, despite all of Monke's men being out of the fight. "Seriously?" Goku questioned as he easily dodged the flames. In an instant Goku closed the distance between him and Monke, then tossed Monke into his komono-rhino. "Now leave this guy alone," Goku insisted, gesturing to the merchant.
The Rough Rhinos all grumbled and got back on their animals, steering them off the trail and far around the cart. As they left the merchant let out a sigh of relief, for once not having to deal with his produce being destroyed in one form or another. "You saved my cabbages," he said, bowing deeply to Goku.
"It was nothing," Goku said. He looked back towards the village, seeing a dozen girls in green uniforms that had been pursuing the Rough Rhinos before Goku got involved. "Who are those people?" Goku asked, finding their white face paint reminding him Chiaotzu.
The girls in uniform slowed their pace as they approached Goku, unable to tell if he was a friend or a foe. The red haired leader walked ahead of the rest, stopping in front of Goku. "Did you know who those were?" she asked.
"Nope," Goku admitted. "I just felt like helping this guy out."
"And no other reason?" she asked.
Goku shrugged. "Also seemed like the right thing to do."
Finding the reasoning out of character for anyone of the Fire Nation, the girl believed that Goku wasn't aligned with that nation. "Well thanks," she said. Then she gestured to herself and the uniformed girls behind her. "I'm Suki, and we're the Kyoshi Warriors."
"I'm Goku," he introduced himself. He waved to Suki and turned to walk around the warriors to continue on his way. "Nice meeting you."
"Wait," Suki interrupted. She gestured towards the village, where a group of twenty refugees were waiting for the Kyoshi Warriors to return. "We're going to escort those people through the mountains, and we could use another pair of hands."
"Okay," Goku said, thinking that he had nothing better to do with his time.
The Kyoshi Warriors escorted the merchant to the village before returning to the refugees. The people picked up what few belongings they had and started their journey across the Earth Kingdom. Goku walked beside the warriors along the dirt road, heading towards the mountains to the east. The refugees talked about a hidden harbor on the other side of the mountains, one that had ferries to take them to the Earth Kingdom capital.
Along the way Goku would slip away unnoticed once a day to gather food, hunting down several tiger-turkeys or fishing dozens of salmon-trout at a time. He gathered enough food to provide for everyone, in spite of his own appetite. While Goku would be hunting or fishing the refugees ran into bandits every other day, all fought off by the Kyoshi Warriors.
A week into the journey they reached the mountains, walking into a pass that led in between two steep cliffs. Halfway through it there were three large Earth Kingdom men, each wielding a pair of war hammers. "Halt!" one in the middle demanded. "Pay the toll, or turn back."
Suki stepped ahead with the other warriors next to her, not afraid of bandits blocking the narrow pass. "Don't be stupid, there's far more of us than there are of you."
One bandit on the left swung both of his hammers into the cliff wall beside him, earthbending a shockwave through the rock. Behind the bandits a boulder dislodged from the cliff and fell into the pass, blocking the way ahead past the bandits. "Pay the toll, and we'll let you pass."
Suki drew her war fans, which prompted the other warriors to do the same. "Open the pass, or we clobber you."
"Crush them," the middle bandit ordered, hating people that resisted paying the toll.
The bandit on the right swung both hammers into the wall on his side, earthbending another shockwave that dislodged another boulder. This time it came out of the wall high above the warriors and refugees, threatening to crush them. Immediately the refugees started running back the way they came, while the warriors helped stragglers in the few seconds they had. But one person didn't even flinch as the boulder's shadow covered him.
"Goku! Get out of the way!" Suki shouted.
Instead Goku simply raised one hand and held his palm towards the falling boulder. He fired a weak beam of energy from the hand at the boulder, which exploded on contact and destroyed the boulder. Small bits of rubble from the demolished boulder rained down, harmless to the people in the pass. Then Goku aimed his hand at the other boulder blocking the pass, firing another beam past the bandits and blowing up the boulder in the way.
"Way's clear," Goku said.
The bandits screamed and ran for the far end of the pass, too scared to fight someone that could blow stuff up with his hands. Meanwhile the refugees all stared at Goku, while the Kyoshi Warriors wondered what strange form of bending Goku had used. The closest thing they could identify it to was firebending, but it was nothing like the firebending they had seen before.
"What was that?" Suki asked.
"Nothing much, just a basic energy attack," Goku said. "My son could have blocked it."
"Well none of us are him," Suki said, crossing her arms. "How did you do that?"
"Easy," Goku said, holding up his hand. "Just focus your energy into your hand and release it outward." He fired another beam into the sky to demonstrate. "It's really simple, anyone can do it."
"Focus my energy?" Suki muttered, holding up one hand. "How?"
Goku sighed and put a hand to his forehead. "This is going to be a long lesson."
While Goku explained the nature of energy manipulation the refugees and warriors resumed the journey through the pass. Within the hour everyone knew about what Goku could do, most keeping their distance to avoid getting on his bad side. On the next day they exited on the eastern end of the pass, close to their destination.
The group made camp a mile from the hidden harbor, where Goku finished teaching Suki how to manipulate her own energy. "Try it now," Goku instructed, gesturing to a nearby forest.
"Okay…" Suki muttered. She held up one hand with the palm aimed at a tree. Suki sighed and focused like she had been instructed, feeling a little lightheaded while her hand felt hot. Then she focused her energy outward, surprising herself when she saw a small ball of light shoot out of her hand. The ball hit a tree and exploded, blasting away the bark and leaving the wood scorched. "I did it!"
"A decent start," Goku commented. "Train hard and that will knock down the whole tree, and several more behind it.
"Not that I would want to do that," Suki said.
"Yeah save it for the bad guys, like those bandits," Goku suggested. Feeling like he wasn't needed there anymore, Goku jumped into the air and slowly flew upward. "See you around," he said with a wave, before flying off.
Suki stared as Goku flew off, silently wondering if she could do that too with enough practice. The other warriors were also staring at him, until Goku disappeared behind the southern horizon. Then the warriors all turned towards Suki, all of them thinking the same thoughts. Suki could tell that they also wanted to learn how to shoot energy, and she was all too eager to share that knowledge.