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Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Son (Part 4)

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By SonGoharotto
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After reviewing the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament in the manga, I've determined that little about it is going to change for this what-if.  But what does change is going to have lasting ramifications.

Roshi, Krillin, Yamcha, Bulma, Puar, Oolong, Launch, and Sea Turtle (!) all take a plane to Papaya Island.  At the tournament grounds, the clerk confirms that Chichi signed in earlier – and Roshi covertly registers as Jackie Chun – but Kakarot is nowhere to be seen.  Shen of the rival Crane School and his two disciples, Tien and Chiaotzu, are competing this year to best Roshi's Turtle School.  At last, Kakarot turns up after his world travels, lighter of spirit than they've ever seen him before.

Inside the preliminaries gymnasium, Yamcha and Krillin change into their Kame gi.  Surely Kakarot isn't going to fight in that ratty saber-toothed cat hide?  Nope!  Bulma passed him a capsule which contains a wardrobe full of Capsule Corp branded jumpsuits of the kind he's accustomed to, so he'll have spares next time he apes out.  How thoughtful!

Here the three boys are approached by a pretty teenage girl.  Where have you been, she demands of Kakarot?  Answering honestly, he starts ticking off all the new places he's seen over the past couple years.  Somehow affronted, the girl storms off and the other boys are mystified by the whole situation.  Kakarot smirks, do you not recognize her?

Yep, we're doing the “Chi-Chi grows up” reveal now, rather than at the 23rd Tournament.  She and Kakarot are both 16 this year, so she definitely would have hit her growth spurt.  But unlike Goku, our Red Ribbon Son has a good memory!  So where is she going to fit into the finals?  Well, Jackie Chun never blew up the Moon, meaning Man-Wolf has no reason to seek revenge, does he?

When it comes to fixing the placement lottery, Tien's instructions are to prioritize crushing the Turtle School, so he will take on Yamcha and leave Krillin to Chiaotzu, as in canon.  Jackie is the next biggest threat, as the winner of the last tournament, so he is made to face Pamput – rising star of the martial arts world – to see if the old champion still has chops.  And this Chi-Chi girl seems to have a grudge against Kakarot, so Chiaotzu fixes them a semi-finals rematch (for the lulz).

Round 1: Tien beats Yamcha and gleefully cripples him.  Round 2: Jackie schools Pamput, whom isn't on the proper level to foster a healthy rivalry among the next generation of fighters.  Round 3: Krillin displays rapid adaptation and growth while fighting Chiaotzu, despite the smaller boy's psychic skills.

Backstage, Kakarot observes that the Crane disciple's Dodon Ray is the same technique used by that assassin he killed years ago.  Tien and Jackie are equally shocked.  The former leaves to confer with Shen, whom confirms that his younger brother Tao went missing after taking a job for the Red Ribbon Army, which was also destroyed by a rumored “monkey monster.”  Could it have been this boy?!  Jackie tells Kakarot of Tao's connection to the Crane School.  That'll be trouble.

What isn't trouble is Kakarot's match against Chi-Chi in Round 4.  Her movements are sharper than ever and she even uses Jan Ken, all a result of her training with Son Gohan, but Kakarot has sailed ahead of her in terms of sheer ability.  Chi-Chi fumes because the boy never came to visit her once in three years!  Is that what she's angry about?  Kakarot thought she'd want to hone her skills without giving anything away.  So why doesn't she give him her best shot?  Chi-Chi obliges; her a Kamehameha is met and overpowered by his, and she is blown out-of-bounds.

The quarter-final matches are exactly the same as canon.  Jackie forfeits and impresses upon Tien the value of embracing a virtuous warrior's creed, rather than continuing down the path of darkness like Shen and Tao.  Tien deduces the old master's true identity as Roshi and shrugs off the advice as sour grapes, not yet ready to heed unsolicited wisdom.  Next round, Kakarot beats Krillin, and demonstrates that his tail has been trained up too so it is no longer a weak point.

The canon championship match between Goku and Tien is our hero at his most focused and tactical, and I honestly couldn't think of a single thing Kakarot would do differently.  When Tien halts the fight to profess finding his pride in honorable combat, and forsaking his ambition to become an assassin, Kakarot sees a mirror of his own choice to reject evil.  Chiaotzu supports Tien's face-turn, and Roshi ejects Shen from the audience to save the boy from his master's wrath.  The match resumes...

...and Kakarot loses.  There's just no helping it.  He is no stronger than Goku, nor luckier, because that van still knocks him out of free fall.  After the tournament concludes, Tien and Chiaotzu make amends.  They've forsaken their master, but have a renewed commitment to the purity of martial arts.  Tien offers to use the winnings to buy dinner for everybody and on the way out, Chi-Chi remembers that she left her Power Pole in the gym.  Krillin, eager to score some points, runs back for it . . . and delivers!

See, Tambourine primarily came to the tournament grounds in pursuit of the Four-Star Dragon Ball, because Goku kept it on him.  But three years ago, this Chi-Chi returned it to Son Gohan.  Stealing the tournament roster was just a bonus for the demon.  Thus our heroes currently remain ignorant of the evil machinations at work in the world, for the Pilaf Gang did indeed unseal the Great Demon King Piccolo.  So where has Tambourine gone...?

For the sake of the plot's forward momentum, I'm making an executive decision: Mt Fry-Pan.  This is Chi-Chi's second time competing in the World Martial Arts Tournament, so it's only natural that Ox-King and Gohan would be interested.  I never saw cameras at the tournament, but it would make sense if the announcer's commentary is broadcast over the radio.  Anyway, Gohan has been keeping the Four-Star Ball in his pocket lately.  Between that Pilaf fella and Chi-Chi's tale of the Red Ribbon Army, he couldn't abide some ne'er-do-well stealing it from his hut while his back was turned.  That is precisely why Tambourine arrives and you can guess what happens next...

In the meantime, dinner is becoming a tradition for our heroes.  Yamcha's leg was broken cleanly and set without complication.  He's willing to let bygones be bygones, so long as they can settle this at the next tournament.  More uncomfortable for Tien is being the target of B/Launch's shameless flirtation.  Tien and Chiaotzu must find a new place to settle and she seems keen on accompanying them.  (This Launch never lived at Kame House, so she's still a transient.)

On that note, Chi-Chi wants to know where Kakarot is living?  The alien boy doesn't have a place to call home anymore, though he's always welcome among Bora's tribe, or he could seek more training under Korin.  In that case, Ox-King's castle is big and has guest rooms and Kakarot might enjoy sparring with her Uncle Gohan too!  Krillin sulks; maybe he should grow out his hair?

The night wears on.  Roshi and Launch coax Tien into a drinking game, but Yamcha is still on pain medication, so Bulma takes him and Puar home on a red-eye flight.  Sea Turtle, being the responsible one (!!), arranges for a hotel room so at least the kids can turn in for the night.  Chi-Chi and Kakarot say their goodbyes and hop aboard Nimbus.  Chi-Chi is a bit self-conscious, now being so much taller than Kakarot, so they sit back to back.  Aren't the stars pretty tonight?  But Kakarot is dozing, content after a good meal.  Tsk, monkey brat...

Chi-Chi's scream snaps him wide awake.  Ox-King has been beaten in his own home and Gohan is dead.  It was a monster, her papa says, and it flew off with the Dragon Ball.  Chi-Chi is too distraught to be impulsive, and Kakarot doesn't know these people yet, but he has an eye for detail and finds the scrap of paper bearing the emblem 'Ma', for 'Demon'.  A clue . . . but they have a better lead to start with.  Bulma has the Dragon Radar, right?  C'mon, Chi-Chi has to show Kakarot where she lives!

Aboard Pilaf's airship, King Piccolo is told of the Dragon Balls.  A wish for eternal youth would allow him to subjugate the world forever!  Tambourine returns in a timely fashion, since there is no fight to delay him.  Pilaf's own radar works as advertised, so they get to live, for now.  Tambourine also reports hearing something about a martial arts tournament in the residence where he seized that Dragon Ball.  R-r-right, Pilaf pipes up; that was today, on Papaya Island!

New priority: go to the location of that tournament, steal the entrant roster, and eliminate the top competitors.  It took but one phenomenally talented martial artist to thwart Piccolo's ambitions 300-years-ago and he will not abide a repeat of that shame!  Against the advice of Piano, the Demon King's adjutant and firstborn, the ancient Piccolo expends yet more life force to birth a third child: Cymbal, whom is tasked with seeking out the Dragon Balls while Tambourine pursues his own mission.

A thief in the night, Tambourine finds his kill list and takes his pick of finalists from the last ten years.  Based on the entrants registered home addresses, his nearest target is...

The next morning, Kakarot and Chi-Chi arrive at Capsule Corp.  Bulma, Yamcha, Puar, and Oolong just got in themselves.  The news is hard to hear; Gohan was with them at the very beginning.  He taught Bulma courage and inspired Yamcha to straighten his ways.  Like grim serendipity, Oolong notices a news report on the TV: Nam was murdered in his village; witnesses describe the perpetrator as a winged monster, whom left behind a calling card of the same 'Demon' emblem.

Bulma's mother enters, holding the phone for her daughter: it's Roshi, calling from the hotel on Papaya Island.  He and the others saw the report too, in addition to police activity regarding a break-in at the tournament grounds while they were all carousing the night before.  Roshi immediately feared for the kids who'd left, because he recognized that emblem as King Piccolo's.  He recounts the tale of the Demon King's war on humanity, and his own master Mutaito's sacrifice to seal Piccolo away using the Mafuba technique.  If he is truly back and seeking the Dragon Balls, then the whole world is in peril!

Our heroes devise a plan of their own: Kakarot and Chi-Chi will take the radar and track Gohan's killer.  As physically and emotionally exhausted as Chi-Chi is, if there's one thing we know about her from canon, it's that she's tenacious.  Roshi makes them promise to only steal back the Four-Star Ball, not engage Piccolo in a fight – but the kids share a significant look, which he can't see over the phone.

As for the others, Yamcha is still laid up, so he'll stay behind while Bulma devises a freezer capsule to preserve Gohan's body until they have the chance to resurrect him.  Meanwhile, the jury-rigged radar she built three years ago is still in a closet at Kame House.  Roshi, Krillin, Tien, and Chiaotzu will round up stray Dragon Balls.  Their best hope is that Shenron can eradicate the Demon King.

And Sea Turtle stays behind to watch over G/Launch, whom was hit the worst by a hangover because she doesn't even remember all the drinking B/Launch did the night before.

Elsewhere, Cymbal closes on the nearest signal pinpointed by Pilaf's radar.  He fights Yajirobe and loses.  The ronin already had breakfast, but he's still got room for brunch!  On the airship, Piccolo senses the death of his thirdborn.  Preposterous!  He telepathically contacts Tambourine – whom just slew Giran, his sixth target – and directs his secondborn to investigate.

On their radar, Kakarot and Chi-Chi see that only one signal is moving so far, slowly towards another.  That must be Piccolo; they'll lie in wait to spring a trap!  Nimbus carries them to Yajirobe's prairie, whom is not happy about all these trespassers on his territory.  He and Kakarot have a brief scuffle, impressing each other with their strength, and Chi-Chi urges the ronin to relinquish that One-Star Ball because trouble will be coming any minute.  Speak of the Devil and he shall appear, it's Tambourine.

Yajirobe wants to fight (and eat) this new weird 'bird', since the last one was so tasty and this is his turf, so he and Kakarot play rock-paper-scissors for the dubious honor.  Unbeknownst to the ronin, Kakarot is really good at reading his opponent and wins, which infuriates the sore loser Yajirobe, whom insists on best two-out-of-three, then three-out-of-five, and so on.

Tambourine guffaws at this display of buffoonery, denigrating the child's game.  Some old man tried using “Jan Ken” on him too and paid the price with his life!  This sets off Chi-Chi, whom has been stewing in her desire for revenge.  She goes on the offensive, but has been running on fumes all day.  In one swift chop, Tambourine breaks her neck.

Kakarot's retribution is swift.  As soon as Tambourine realizes he is outmatched, he attempts to flee and the alien boy calls Nimbus to pursue.  The demon's surprise mouth blast catches Kakarot off-guard and the magic cloud is destroyed, sending him crashing to the ground.  Tambourine swings around to press his advantage.  Kakarot finds Power Pole where it fell.  What does Chi-Chi say to make it work?  Oh right: “Extend!”  He swats the demon out of the air, then pins him to a boulder.  Tambourine tries the mouth blast again and Kakarot is quicker, firing a Dodon Ray that blows the demon's head off.

Not again, Piccolo growls!  So be it, the Great Demon King will destroy this unknown enemy himself.  The airship is throttled up to full speed.  Something else is amiss, however: Pilaf sees on his radar that somebody else appears to be collection Dragon Balls!  Piccolo is unconcerned; this will just make his quest simpler by taking them off the corpses.  He beats Kakarot handily and moves on, but the alien boy survives and convinces Yajirobe to take him to Korin Tower.

As for Roshi's group, they've collected five Dragon Balls and see the last two are catching up.  This bodes ill for Kakarot and Chi-Chi, so they must assume the worst and prepare to face King Piccolo.  They hide and observe the airship, where Piccolo stands on the deck and ingests his two Dragon Balls.  No choice now but to fight!  In canon, Roshi uses an anesthetic gas on Tien, but Krillin is here too.  Still smarting from coming in second fiddle to Kakarot, Krillin's resolve added to Tien's convinces Roshi to trust in the next generation.

Piccolo drops down to face these brazen challengers.  There's something familiar about this scene: a feeble old man and his two bald lackeys.  This didn't go so well for you last time, Roshi reminds him, and Piccolo feels a shiver of fear.  Krillin and Tien lead the assault, and Chiaotzu jumps out of hiding to paralyze the Demon King using telekinesis – but it's no use, Piccolo's will is stronger!  He blocks the pincer attack, then fires eye lasers which strike down Chiaotzu.

The boy's sacrifice was not in vain, because Roshi was able to properly prepare himself and lands a perfect Mafuba!  Piccolo is swept up and successfully sealed in a rice cooker.  The old master wilts as his life force ebbs.  Alas, Roshi is not allowed even a momentary victory.  As his vision fades, he sees Piano take the field and rip off the rice cooker's seal, releasing his master!

(I'm certain this is precisely why Piano was born first, even though he never does anything in the manga.  By the way, official materials state Piano being as strong as Roshi at this time!)

Piccolo blows back Tien and Krillin with a wave of his hands.  The last man on Earth whom knew the Mafuba is dead and he has nothing more to fear!  Tien challenges the Demon King to stand his ground, if he truly believes that.  Piccolo's laughter is cut short by the roar of a Tri-Beam.  When the maelstrom passes, the Demon King remains standing, though he lost an arm in the effort to defend himself.  He convulses, then vomits up blood, as well as the two Dragon Balls.  One more will end them both, Tien reasons; a price he's willing to pay.  Before that can happen, Piano digs himself out of the sand and his mouth blast pierces through the triclops' chest.

Alone and paralyzed by fear, Krilling can do naught but watch as Piano assembles all seven Dragon Balls to summon Shenron and wish for Piccolo's restored youth.  The Demon King rebounds from being on death's door and is back at the height of his power.  He even regrows his severed limb and his first act with the new hand is to kill the Eternal Dragon.  That finally sends Krillin screaming for the hills.  Piano offers to go after him, but Piccolo has more important things on the agenda...

Halfway around the world, Yajirobe – plus an assist from Bora – climbs up Korin Tower with the injured Kakarot on his back.  The cat hermit provides a Senzu to heal the alien boy's wounds, and something more: the Ultra Divine Water.  There's a chance it will draw out any hidden potential Kakarot has yet to access, if he can survive its toxin first.  (Spoilers: he does.)

And there is plenty of suffering to go around.  Krillin berates himself for his cowardice, charging blindly through the desert in the direction that Piccolo's airship took off, after dumping the Pilaf Gang.  It's even worse than Krillin knows, because Piccolo used his new lease on life to overthrow the King of Earth.  An emergency TV broadcast announces to the world his reign of terror and hate, the abolition of all laws, as well as the inaugural lottery of destruction.  Up first: Province 29 and West City!

There is panic in the streets as Kakarot soars overhead on a new Nimbus, courtesy of Korin.  Goku headed right for Piccolo, but Kakarot is accustomed to fighting beside others, so getting backup isn't the worst idea – especially since Yajirobe chickened out.  He brings an extra Senzu for Yamcha, to heal the former bandit's leg; he's itching to avenge their friends.  Bulma can't convince her stubborn parents to evacuate, so she and the shapeshifters will go . . . recover the bodies, at the location of Roshi's last radio check-in.  They split up, Yamcha trailing behind Kakarot on his souped-up Jet Squirrel.

As Piccolo and Piano are taking off in a shuttle to go destroy West City, a golden cloud streaks towards them from the horizon.  Kakarot uses a Dodon Ray to target the shuttle's engine, forcing the demons to bail out.  So the monkey-tailed boy survived?  No matter; the Demon King is an order of magnitude stronger than he was last time!  This brat is so beneath Piccolo, he births a new child to take care of it instead: Drum.  Kakarot buys a little time for his friends to catch up, and to test his new strength, but he can't delay for long before Piccolo gets wise.  The alien boy dispatches Drum.

Kakarot and Piccolo's battle begins.  There are no surprises at first; they're relatively even.  (Piano dies as a matter of collateral damage, I guess?)  When Piccolo unleashes his Explosive Demon Wave, Tien isn't present for an assist.  Kakarot barely survives it.  They continue to hammer each other; Piccolo is exhausting his ki, but Kakarot is physically more worse for wear.  The Demon King prepares the finishing blow . . . when a riderless hover scooter putters over between them and comes to a halt.

Surprise attack!  Yamcha springs from a flanking position, his old scimitar slashing to hamstring the Demon King.  The blade digs deep, then breaks off.  At the opposite side, Krillin appears too – he has Power Pole and whacks Piccolo upside the head.  Before retaliation comes, they retreat and Yamcha drops a belt of grenades.  CRACK-A-BOOM!!  A bandit is full of dirty tricks, he crows!

Krillin helps Kakarot back onto his feet.  The shorter boy was picked up by Yamcha on the way over and is determined to redeem himself or die trying – for Master Roshi, for Chi-Chi, and everybody else.

Piccolo flies out of the smoke, raking the battlefield with eye lasers to cover his ascent.  They are like ants before the Demon King's might and so he will stamp them out, one at a time!  He bears down on the most injured, least mobile, and thus easiest target.  Kakarot stands his ground and gambles on a Kamehameha.  Piccolo pushes it back barehanded, his talons closing in on the boy's neck.

Krillin and Yamcha won't stand idly by; they both fire as well.  Piccolo is caught between three Kamehameha and his momentum falters.  Seizing the chance, Kakarot taps into the full power of the Great Ape for just an instant.  His beam swells and envelops Piccolo!  In his final moments, the Demon King curses the world and spits his last egg, which soars over the horizon unseen, thanks to the blinding glare of his concussive demise.

Yajirobe drives up in his hovercar.  What's with the fireworks?  Did he miss the fight?  Kakarot laughs and collapses, totally spent.  He needs a minute to catch his breath before going after the Dragon Balls.  Not to be a buzz kill, Krillin interrupts, but Piccolo killed Shenron earlier.  Yajirobe doesn't know anything about this dragon-whatever, Korin sent him here in case anybody got wounded.  Only Kakarot is really in need of medical aid, so Yamcha and Krillin stay behind.  The Jet Squirrel's radio still works, so Yamcha spreads the news of Piccolo's defeat.

Returning to the tower, Korin reveals that Shenron and the Dragon Balls were created by Kami, and the Power Pole's real purpose is to lift a worthy person higher up to his temple in the heavens.  If anybody can entreat Kami for help, it is the one whom defeated the Great Demon King.  Realizing that Krillin still has the staff, Kakarot zooms away on Nimbus to fetch it.  One detour to Fortuneteller Baba's later, Kakarot finds his friends gathered at Kame House to recover and mourn.  Yoink!  Gonna go see God now, and don't cremate anybody, ok bye!

And then things wrap up as usual.  On the Lookout, Kakarot is test by Mr. Popo, then learns the truth about Kami's connection to Piccolo.  The divine sage extracts a promise from the alien boy: Stay on the Lookout and train until he is ready to face Piccolo's final son, his own clone, at the next World Martial Arts Tournament!  Shenron is repaired and over at Kame House, the stone Dragon Balls which Bulma had the foresight to gather, shine with renewed power.  All those around the world whom were slain by demonkin are resurrected and peace is restored.
This has gone on long enough, so the 23rd World Tournament will serve as a preface to the Saiyan Saga. It's not a spoiler that Kakarot and Chi-Chi are going to get together, but I do find myself facing a conundrum: What to do about Gohan? He was named after Grandpa Gohan, but Kakarot doesn't have a relationship with him like Goku did, and 'Uncle Gohan' is still alive in this what-if, so it's not like Chi-Chi would feel the need to honor his memory. (Spoilers for my What If Raditz series, lol.) That's why I'm opening a poll, please vote here! Three options, plus you can suggest your own, although there is one I'm leaning towards. See you next week!

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