Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Son (Part 3)

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How is it that Kakarot can ride Flying Nimbus, you may ask?  (Nobody asked this.)  Well, the only requirement is to have a pure heart, right?  Good people aren't necessarily pure (e.g. Krillin) and being pure doesn't equate to goodness (e.g. Zamasu).  Toriyama has stated that Goku's pure heart can have “poisonous” aspects too, like being selfish and naive.  Here, Kakarot has been used as a tool of the Red Ribbon Army, yes, but he's never had ill-intent.

Also, it doesn't mean he can't be an obnoxious back-cloud driver, pestering Chi-Chi about where they're going, how does Nimbus work, and is she sure she's using that Dragon Radar correctly?  Quiet, you monkey brat!  Chi-Chi takes them down to a rocky, scrub-dotted plain.  Two men – one human, one canine – are already surveying the area and tell the kids to shoo, take your picnic date somewhere else!  Kakarot nearly chokes, uhg, as if!  Chi-Chi ignores them and rustles up the Six-Star Ball.  Not the one she's looking for, but this proves she was using the radar right, so nyah!

The men demand it be surrendered, at gunpoint, and Chi-Chi handily dispatches them.  Kakarot scampers after the girl already leaving on her cloud and doesn't notice one of the men radioing for backup.  He does notice a rocket fired at them and bats it away.  Kakarot dismounts to confront their new attacker – and is recognized by Colonel Silver!  The Army's special weapon has been AWOL for weeks, Silver observes, and for what: to interfere with a covert Red Ribbon mission?

Kakarot glances up towards Chi-Chi, whom has stayed in the air and is tapping one impatient foot on the cloud.  The alien boy says he, uh, is searching for the Dragon Balls too.  In fact, it was his mission first – yeah, that's it!  But Silver counters that if he doesn't get results, it'll be his head on the chopping block.  So tell your little girlfriend to bring that Dragon Ball down here!  Not this again, Kakarot growls, and smacks the colonel around.  Just tell everybody to stay out of his way, okay?

The next Dragon Ball signal leads the kids far north.  Kakarot's Red Ribbon issue jumpsuit does a better job of insulating him than Chi-Chi's light gi.  Her shivering gets so bad that she topples off Nimbus!  Kakarot leaps down and scoops her out of the snow, then watches as the magic cloud continues on its merry way without them.  Fortunately, they are found by Suno in the woods and she leads them to take shelter in her home.

Chi-Chi is bundled up in a bed to recuperate, and only then does Suno's mother see the RR logo on Kakarot's jumpsuit.  Wait, he means no harm!  The boy is dismayed to hear that the Army has been pressing locals into service to find the Dragon Ball here, even holding the mayor hostage.  Kakarot thought they were the good guys?  Kakarot swears to straighten this out.  He borrows the radar and trudges off to nearby Muscle Tower . . . and they've been expecting him.

Kakarot thinks he is being escorted to see General White, but is led into a trap to be apprehended by the tower's chief defender: Sergeant Metallic.  Little do they know that the alien boy has faced this model android before, during his training, and now Kakarot is stronger than ever!  He presses on, fights Sergeant Major Purple, and reunites with Eighter.  The mechanical man has been abused and caged; Kakarot is shocked that Dr. Gero would let this happen to his creation.  Doesn't he care at all?

Things keep going as expected: Kakarot and Eighter face General White, then are dropped through the trapdoor to fight Buyon.  By the time they escape, White has the village mayor hostage in a stand-off against Chi-Chi!  She borrowed Suno's coat and was brought up to speed.  And since she still has Nimbus, Chi-Chi skipped right to the tower's top level.

Distracted by Kakarot's appearance, Chi-Chi accuses him of lying to her and they start bickering again.  Only Eighter, climbing up through the trapdoor, witnesses White aiming at the highest priority threat: Kakarot.  The mechanical man dives in the way to protect him.  Chi-Chi uses Power Pole to knock the gun from White's hand and Kakarot punches him through the wall.

The mayor is impressed and grateful for this display of heroism, but Red Ribbon will never leave the village alone until they get this Dragon Ball thing they're looking for.  Eighter reveals he found the Two-Star Ball, but hid it when he heard General White's plan to execute the villagers after its recovery. Chi-Chi offers to take it off their hands; let the Army chase her around and they'll never have a reason to come back here.  Which just leaves the matter of Kakarot.

All's well that ends well, right?  Wrong, Chi-Chi frowns.  First, hand over the radar!  Kakarot does, but it broke during his fight.  She knew this monkey brat was going to be trouble.  Chi-Chi can take it to Bulma for repairs – but Kakarot is disinvited from this quest!  Goodbye and good riddance!

Chi-Chi leaves and her journey continues as Goku's did in canon: traveling to West City, meeting Bulma's parents, finding the next Dragon Ball is underwater, swapping Bulma's Micro Band for Roshi's submarine, and contending with General Blue, plus the detour to Penguin Village.  The only major difference is that Chi-Chi spends a lot of time complaining about Kakarot, which makes Bulma tease the younger girl over having a crush, to Krillin's heartache.

Also, Launch isn't at Kame House, because she's still with Gebo – whom is exasperated by his little bro constantly running off.  What has gotten into him lately?  The soldier can't return to base without the Army's top asset!  After a couple days of stressing out, Gebo receives a radio transmission from Muscle Tower.  Kakarot is here and wants to be taken home.

There is no hero's welcome for Kakarot at Red Ribbon Army headquarters.  In fact, looking on the place with fresh eyes, he sees all the toxic machismo and rampant backbiting.  Even Doctor Gero, his surrogate father, is more concerned by the loss of Kakarot's tail than for his well-being.  Is it really such a big deal?  (For the record, Kakarot knows what he turns into, but still has no memory of what he does while a Great Ape.)

Thinking back, the brief time Kakarot spent with Chi-Chi's friends after the tournament was the most he ever felt like part of a family.  And compared to Gebo and G/Launch worrying over him, no, Gero is not a proper parent at all.  Indeed, without a second thought, Gero abandons this 'dead end' project and leaves headquarters to pursue a new line of research at his private lab.

Just when Kakarot is feeling the most alone, the secure bulkhead door to his quarters – as much as a cage as the one Eighter was kept in – groans open.  It's Gebo with orders that they're being deployed with Colonel Yellow's squad to recover a Dragon Ball located in the nearby Sacred Land of Korin.  After the Muscle Tower debacle, this is Kakarot's last chance to prove where his loyalties lie.

B/Launch joins the convoy, having fit right in among these mercenaries, and wonders what spoils there could be to plunder in this so-called natural sanctuary?  Kakarot's unease only grows.

Bora, chief of the local tribe, is unwilling to let the RRA run roughshod over the Sacred Land.  He makes short work of Yellow's squad, so Kakarot is sent against him, but the alien boy's heart isn't in it.  Yellow abducts Bora's son Upa to use as leverage and attempts to flee by plane, which is when Chi-Chi comes around on Nimbus.  Her intervention saves Upa, and she is NOT happy to see Kakarot again, but this is the first time she's seen him be contrite.  Kakarot doesn't want to be a bad guy.

Gebo urges Kakarot to finish the mission; he knows the boy is strong enough to kill these people, even without his transformation.  Kakarot is stunned.  There it is: before all else, he's just a weapon.  (I know I said A16's template probably has much the same personality, but A16 is still constrained by his programming, whereas Gebo is a human with complex and conflicting motivations.)  However, even B/Launch takes Kakarot's side now.  She's a thief, not a murderer.  Chi-Chi tells Gebo to take a hike, he's outnumbered now.

And that's when Mercenary Tao arrives.  Just as in canon, General Blue managed to steal a Dragon Radar and return to RRAHQ.  Commander Red hired the invincible assassin Tao to eliminate these children confounding his plans, as well as anybody else whom gets in the way.

The dust from Tao's 'ride' impacting makes Launch sneeze, so she's effectively out of the fight.  Bora is killed and Gebo escapes in the scrum, as even Kakarot and Chi-Chi combined are no match for the assassin.  Their dual Kamehameha does naught but ruin Tao's clothes, whom retaliates with his Dodon Ray.  Just like Eighter did at Muscle Tower, now it is Chi-Chi whom leaps to Kakarot's defense and they are blown back.

The girl looks to be dead, but up close, a dazed Kakarot sees that the Four-Star Ball – which she just received from Bora and stuffed into her gi – withstood the blast.  She's unconscious, but alive!  Taking a page out of the girl's book, Kakarot feigns grief, begging Tao to take the satchel of Dragon Balls and spare the rest of them.  He acquiesces; there's no sport in dispatching children, after all.

Before returning to RRAHQ, Tao makes a detour to a town where he arranges for new garments to be made within three days.  A call to Commander Red informs Tao that he missed one and the assassin realizes he was tricked!  Oh is he ever going to make those brats pay for this humiliation!  Once his clothes are ready.  Revenge is sweeter when aged by patience ... and Tao has an image to maintain.

Back in the Sacred Land, Upa doesn't know how to make medicine for Chi-Chi, without his father's guidance.  But somebody whom would is Korin, the sage living at the top of the tower and for whom this land is named.  Legend says that a brave warrior able to climb to the top can drink a medicinal water which makes them many times stronger!  G/Launch doesn't really understand what's going wrong, but she remembers what Bulma said about the Dragon Balls being able to grant any wish.  If Kakarot gets strong enough to beat Tao, maybe they can wish for Bora to be resurrected!

Kakarot climbs the tower, is trained by Korin, and does get far stronger.  But since the “Super Holy Water” is a myth, Kakarot still needs something to heal Chi-Chi, so Korin gives him a Senzu.  The boy is doubtful, so Korin tells him to try the 'hermit bean' for himself.  Sure enough, Kakarot feels totally energized and as healthy as a horse!  One of these will have his little girlfriend back on her feet in no time, Korin insists.  It's not like that, Kakarot grouses, but the cat sage purrs knowingly.

Over the three days, Chi-Chi regains consciousness, but is in no condition to fight Tao upon his return.  Good thing that Kakarot is!  He trounces the assassin, whom attempts deception, but Kakarot doesn't fall for it.  He fells Tao with his own technique: the Dodon Ray.  (Don't worry, if Tao can survive a grenade at pointblank range, this is nothing.  He'll drag himself out of a shallow grave, as usual.)

Kakarot gives Chi-Chi the Senzu and she is miraculously healed.  Looking at her Dragon Radar, they see a pair of signals at a location which Kakarot confirms to be RRAHQ.  He doesn't know what Commander Red wants them for, but it can't be good.  Putting their rivalry aside, he and Chi-Chi depart on Nimbus to liberate the Dragon Balls – and get some payback!

G/Launch stays behind with Upa, since neither of them are fighters.  Bye, have fun storming the castle!

En route, the kids are approached by a small drone being remote-controlled by Bulma over at Kame House.  Judging by Nimbus' flight path and the Dragon Ball signals ahead, it is easy to deduce their destination, but they're heading right into the lion's den!  Roshi insists they must go help, so Bulma calls Yamcha and the shapeshifters to come pick them up in a Capsule Corp plane.  We're going to war with the Red Ribbon Army!

As the battle begins, Kakarot and Chi-Chi split up: he charges through the defenses and keeps them scrambling, while she pinpoints the Dragon Balls from the air.  It seems like nothing can stop the two little warriors, until Kakarot comes face to face with Gebo.  The alien boy gives his big bro one chance to leave in peace and Gebo seems resigned to it.  First, he wants to give Kakarot a hug, a simple act of affection which the boy never received before.

But it was a ruse!  Gebo slaps a metal collar on him and, at the touch of a button, a shock surges through Kakarot.  The man regrets that it went down this way.  He tried to treat 'Subject B' humanely, but a disobedient animal needs to be brought to heel.  (Thematic parity with Broly here, and Vegeta too, when you consider how he is treated by Frieza at this time.)  Gebo saw at the World Martial Arts Tournament that electricity is effective against Kakarot, and without the alien boy's transformation, there's no way to resist it.  Kakarot grits his teeth; he'll never give in!

Elsewhere, Chi-Chi storms Commander Red's office, but he has just been overthrown by his own Staff Officer on charges of gross incompetence.  The new Commander Black is a talented fighter, but no match for a tournament finalist, so he activates his secret weapon: Battle Jacket Mark II!  It's bigger and tougher than the classic Battle Jacket, remade with technology gleaned from Kakarot's Attack Ball.  (Closer to the Giant Robot version from The Path to Power.)  Black lays waste to Red Ribbon HQ with its laser canon, content to rebuild his own 'Black Ribbon Army' from the ashes.

Chi-Chi managed to escape the blast on Nimbus.  She returns fire, but her Kamehameha bounces harmlessly off the Battle Jacket's hardened armor.  Black launches a barrage of missiles and she takes cover, finding Kakarot amid the rubble.  Gebo wasn't so lucky.  Chi-Chi tries to take the collar off him, shocking them both.  The giant robot's shadow looms and it seems all hope is lost.

That's when Kakarot spots his old Attack Ball, still as pristine as when it landed thirteen years ago!  He hasn't the strength, so Chi-Chi runs over to try activating it.  She hits buttons at random until a blinding light forces her to flinch away.  Now hovering over the ruins of RRAHQ is a projection of the Full Moon!  Let's assume this works the same way as Vegeta's Power Ball: an emission of energy mixing with the atmosphere to temporarily generate the necessary Blutz Waves.

You see, Kakarot has been hiding something.  Eating one of Korin's Senzu made his tail regrow!  (This normally takes months for a Saiyan child.)  His transformation into a Great Ape shatters the collar.  At last, what comes next is something every Dragon Ball fan has wanted to see: MONKEY VS ROBOT!

Bulma and company arrive on the scene in time to watch Kakarot fighting the Battle Jacket Mk II.  Conventional weapons don't faze the Great Ape, so Black takes to the air and charges his laser, but Kakarot is quicker on the draw: he fires a mouth blast and cores the robot, triggering a catastrophic detonation.  (I know Kakarot doesn't have the training to fully utilize Great Ape, but he has more control than Goku ever did, and we can say he's 'aping' the Battle Jacket's laser, lol.)  The projection dissipates and Kakarot reverts.  The Red Ribbon Army is no more.

Everyone is reunited, celebrating the unlikely victory.  Oolong is coerced into giving Kakarot his pants.  After all this, Chi-Chi has only six Dragon Balls and the last one isn't showing up on the radar.  Is it broken again?  They retire to Kame House and Bulma determines the radar is fine, so maybe the final signal is being blocked somehow.  Roshi recommends seeking the advice of Fortuneteller Baba.

And this has gone on long enough, so I'm going to sail through the highlights.  Chi-Chi retrieves Upa and Launch while Yamcha and Krillin take Kakarot shopping for proper attire.  At Baba's Palace, they opt to fight her champions instead of pay the outrageous fee.  Krillin loses to Fangs the Vampire, whom is beaten by Upa and Puar.  See-Through the Invisible Man is defeated by Yamcha thanks to an eye-popping assist from the peanut gallery, then he loses to Bandages the Mummy.  Chi-Chi takes over and goes on to beat Spike the Devil Man too.

Baba takes them back topside to fight the final champion, whom requested a view of the environs.  Walking around the lakeside stage and peering all about is a slender woman wearing strange clothes and a fox mask.  A halo floats above her head . . . and a furry tail is poking out of her dress!  Kakarot begs Chi-Chi to let him fight next.  It's not just this similarity, her scent is somehow familiar too.

The last round begins and Kakarot can tell this 'champion' wasn't formally trained in any martial art, but her raw speed and strength are astounding!  Rather than getting serious, Kakarot is having fun.  He and the woman are laughing and trading compliments.  Curious if this works on an adult, Kakarot manages to grab her tail and she wilts . . . and he lets go.  He doesn't want this fight to end yet.  Either way, the mystery champion can see that she's lost.  She was always too softhearted for real combat, but she's glad Kakarot has grown so strong on his new home.

Who are you, Kakarot asks?  Removing her mask, the woman's sweet face is both kind and sad.  He has seen it only once before, in a daydream.  Gine embraces her son and they weep together.

It turns out that Baba recruits fighters from the Other World, where all the dead go.  Kakarot was spared the fate of his people by coming to this beautiful planet; Gine so wishes she could see more of it, but is allowed just one day.  Maybe Kakarot can wish her back to life with the Dragon Balls.  Except he already promised to resurrect Upa's father.  It's fine though, Gine sees Kakarot has people whom care for him here.  She and the boy's father had hard lives and they're happier in the afterlife.  (In truth, Bardock is still working off his sentence in Hell like most Saiyans, but Gine doesn't say that out loud.)  Gine hugs her son one last time and leaves him with these words: Be good, Kakarot.

As promised, Baba divines the location of the final Dragon Ball: it is in a car about 200km away and getting closer!  Chi-Chi goes to retrieve it, having no issues fighting the Pilaf Gang.  She returns to bring Upa back to his father's grave and Kakarot hops aboard too.  After everything, he's got to see what all the fuss has been about!

In the Sacred Land, Shenron is summoned and resurrects Bora.  Chi-Chi watches the Dragon Balls rise into the air, lamenting that she'll have to look for Gohan's Four-Star Ball all over again next year.  Thinking quick, Kakarot leaps and snatches it before they all scatter to the winds.  He passes it to the girl – thanks for everything, Chi-Chi.  She blushes despite herself.  Um, let's head back to the others!

Everybody marvels at how far these kids have come.  Yamcha and Krillin have a lot of work ahead if they're going to catch up!  In fact, Yamcha has been accepted under Roshi's tutelage and the old master extends an invitation to Kakarot too.  But the alien boy has other ideas: he's going to travel the world like his mother desired to.  He'll walk, run, swim, and see everything he can!  If that's the case, Roshi replies, make sure you return to Papaya Island for the next tournament in three years time.

Chi-Chi wants to train with Son Gohan, and having Nimbus means she can be home in time for supper with papa.  She offers to let Kakarot use Nimbus sometimes too.  Just to make sure he isn't late!  Don't get the wrong idea, it's not like she likes him or anything!
And that concludes the second quest for the Dragon Balls. I know it's a crazy long chapter, but there are a lot of moving parts to this arc and subtle differences thanks to our Red Ribbon Son. Whether there are more drastic changes to the timeline in store ahead, only time will tell.

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