Serial was the eighth of ten second-generation Brady Patrick stories to be created, and easily hardest to come up with. Serial was first a story about Yamcha meeting Puar. However, I didn't have any interest in that idea. As more and more of the collection was being written, and there was less room to randomly pick the next story to write, I switched the plot to that of Appule.
However, I later wrote a fantastic story called Strength, which featured Appule as an enemy. Because Appule is a minor character, having him being so important in two stories wasn't something I wanted to do. In addition, the latter half of the Brady Patrick Collection took a turn away from the Planet Trade Organization seen far more often in the first half.
The Tao story came after extensive studying of characters who are important, but don't have stories about them. Tao was not considered early on, as I was instead focusing on some other characters, such as Kami, Mr. Popo, and even Shenron. Shenron was the only character who interested me from the first day of studying, but there was no way to write a story about him. The second day, on May 15, 2013, I looked up more characters while in the library of my school, and came upon Tao. Instantly, I knew he was the one.
After studying more about him and his timeline, finding that much of his story is unexplained, there was a lot of room to work with. I knew Roshi would be the one to duel with him immediately, and then changed the description before going to class.
Serial wasn't written for almost two more weeks (13 days, actually) due to a variety of factors. For one, I had finals within a few days of coming up with the idea. Studying and writing essays left me no time to focus on Serial until after school on May 24, 2013. After school was out, I felt like I needed to watch some fight scenes, so I looked up a wuxia film I had long wanted to watch called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. After watching that movie, I had an idea of what I wanted to do in terms of the fight directions. I acquired the opening for the story from a concert I had to go to near the end of the school year. Coupling this with the fact that much of the music of the wuxia film I watched was composed by Yo-Yo Ma, and featured a lot of cello music, I thought it would be good to make the target of Tao a cellist. And it worked out seamlessly.
Before writing it, I also looked up old dialogue from Tao from the various Dragon Ball sagas on wikiquote. Tao is a very wordy guy, and often has some slightly lame dialogue (often self-complimenting) which was fun to mimic in the story. Once I read through some of his quotes again, I set up a playlist of 15 Gary Jules songs (with a runtime of 62 minutes) and began writing. I was finished before the playlist was able to complete a second time, although I paused the playlist several times to listen to some songs that Destructivedisk was showing me over Skype. I figure it took me two total hours to write. After I was done, I read the story out-loud before posting it, which is something I don't often do. Once I was satisfied, I posted the story.
After paying the considerable fee for every seat in the most spacious of the premier luxury boxes, Tao climbed the steps to the second floor of the orchestra chamber, and looked for that which would be his for the next two hours. Upon finding a finely crafted door, with the number 3 on it, he smirked to himself before stepping inside, and closing the door behind him. He sunk into a seat in the second row and propped his feet over the neck of the seat in front of him. Without any other man, woman or incessantly loud child around, he could enjoy himself during the performance. Sighing to himself, he looked down at the stage, and watched as various performers started coming out onto the stage.
For the next two hours, Tao listened as they played many a famous tune from many a famous composer – ranging from Vivaldi to Tchaikovsky to even Boulez. Knowing the last piece on the program, Messagesquisse, personally, Tao could gauge when it would be over. So two minutes before he knew the crowd would break out in applause, the assassin left his box. Within moments, he had descended the stairs and exited the building. After a few steps back and a deep breath, Tao rushed toward the building again. Using a mixture of poise and strength, he ran right up its side; and just as he reached the top, landing softly on the angular roof, he heard the crowd inside rouse itself into applause. Perfectly timed, he thought to himself.
Tao was here for two of the performers; namely, the lead cellist and second violinist. They were a husband and wife who owed somebody a lot of money. That’s all he knew, and that’s all he cared about. After identifying them while watching the performance, he was now sure of how to dispose of them. As time passed, the audience exited the building through the street-side doors. However, Tao knew the performers would exit through the back. There would be no security or witnesses there. In order to make sure they would be the last two out, Tao had broken into their lockers just before the performance and stolen the husband’s keys. They would stay late to look for them, then give up and call a taxi. That is what he expected. So Tao waited, watching the back door. He counted the performers leaving, until all but two were accounted for.
This was his first time stalking a human. But Tao was at the point in his life where he needed to capitalize on his strength. All throughout the Piccolo Wars and after, he had trained himself into being the strongest man alive. He had no desire to start a Martial Arts school, like his foolish brother, so becoming a hit man was ideal. The only problem was how to make a name for himself. Killing a very high-profile couple could do the trick. He wasn’t worried about his own life here, for Tao was too fast and powerful for any humans to hurt him, be they police or frightened cellists. Getting caught was the only risk. He didn’t want to be known by the police as a mercenary. That would make stalking more difficult, and hiring him less desirable.
Tao noticed the back door open again, shining a sliver of light out to the cold, dark back alley. Out came the two targets, both clearly annoyed at their lost keys. Tao smiled as he took a small tube out of his robes, and aimed it at the man’s neck. He blew the poison dart out with such force that before the two could register the sound coming from above, the man was stuck like a pig. He seized up, rolling over onto the ground, much to his wife’s horror; and under the cover of the woman’s screams, Tao stood up and did a front-flip off the building. He landed softly behind the two, and made way forward. But as he walked, the woman noticed him, and turned around.
“Who… who are you?! What do you want?!” she asked, unable to conceal her terror.
Tao continued walking until he was within half a meter of the woman. “Want? I don’t want anything that you can give me willingly,” he said, matter-of-factly. Then, looking up into her panicked eyes, he spoke with delightful malice, “My name is Tao. I am very pleased to kill you!”
He put his hand out in a mock attempt at a handshake, but then, at the last moment, revealed his dagger in his palm. A quick swipe of silver, followed by a spurt of blood left the woman thrown back and crippled onto the ground; left to simply bleed out from the wide slit in her neck. Chuckling to himself, Tao bent down, and wiped his dagger off on the paralyzed man’s fine suit. Then, standing up again, he looked down and raised his boot over the man’s head, before bringing it down.
Then, after wiping his boot on the gravel in the alley, Tao turned to leave. Since neither of his prey had managed to scream, no one would be looking for them yet. He didn’t need to make himself look like he was fleeing a crime. But as he was about exit the carnage behind him, and slip back into the crowded streets, Tao noticed the solemn figure of a man, which the good assassin had not noticed before. The man was standing on the top of a building in front of Tao, dressed finely in a black suit, silhouetted behind the moon. Tao noticed the man was balding – though not quite there yet – and had a moderate, silvery beard. As Tao moved forward to get a better view, the man jumped down, and landed right in front of him. And once Tao saw the man was wearing sunglasses, and he knew who it was.
“What do you want?” Tao asked, impatiently, through his teeth.
The man shook his head, looking beyond Tao to the bodies behind. “Is this what you’ve become? Does your brother know what you have done, Tao?”
“Hmph, my brother is not my keeper, and neither are you. Now leave, before I lose my temper.”
The man pressed further, in quiet concern, “And then what? You’ll do the same thing to me that you did to those innocent people? Do you really believe you can? You’re thinking recklessly, Tao. You need to calm down and talk with me.”
Tao’s fury was rising, as was his tone, “You may be stronger than my brother, but I have long since surpassed him! I can end your life within a second, if I want to! Don’t make me kill you, Roshi. Just walk away and forget we ever met.”
Roshi shook his head again. “No, it’s my duty to make those who commit evil pay. And if I let you get away, the blood of those you kill in the future will be on my hands. I had hoped your brother could have taught you morality, but it looks like I am mistaken.”
Tao roared, and kicked at Roshi, causing the older man to be pushed backward. Instantly, the assassin raised his hand and pointed it at Roshi. The dark alleyway was bathed in yellow light for an instant, and then a yellow beam shot out from his finger. Roshi, however, knew well enough to expect this, and jumped into the air, dodging the Dodon Ray, and landing behind Tao. Spinning around, Roshi lowered to the ground, and used a leg sweep on Tao, causing the man to fall over. As Tao fell, Roshi flipped forward, crashing his feet into Tao’s back. Then, Roshi lunged, grabbing Tao by the hair, and pulled him up into the Turtle Hermit’s fist.
As Roshi went to grab Tao again, the assassin, twisted himself out of Roshi’s hold, and kicked away. Roshi went flying one way, and Tao the other, Tao pushed off from the alley wall, and rushed his opponent. By the time Roshi had stood back up, he used a spinning kick on the charging Tao. However, this went right through Tao, causing Roshi to fall forward from his momentum. Tao, fresh off using a skillful image projection, appeared behind Roshi, and grabbed the man’s ankle before throwing him up into the sky. Then, Tao jumped into the air after the man, and struck him with a devastating blow to the gut. As Roshi flew higher from the damaging attack, Tao dropped again to the ground, and prepared to leap again. This time, he jumped with a flying kick just as Roshi’s body started falling. But just before Tao could hit Roshi again, the old man flipped over, suddenly coming back to life in great form; indeed, he used a bicycle kick on Tao, hitting him cleaning across the forehead, splitting it open. And this sent both of them back down to Earth.
They both landed on their feet, but before putting up his guard, Roshi ripped off his expensive jacket and shirt, leaving just his pants and below intact. He crouched down and began grunting until his muscles bulged out far beyond their normal capabilities. Then, Roshi stood up and locked into a defensive stance. As he watched, Tao recovered by wiping the blood out of his eyes. He took off his cap, and threw it to the side before charging Roshi again. He attacked with a flurry of punches, each of which Roshi defended through blocking, bobbing, and weaving.
When Roshi saw an opening, and started punching, himself, Tao easily blocked his advances as well. Letting Tao take the offensive again, Roshi let himself be backed into a corner. Then, blocking each of Tao’s lightning fast punches, Roshi quickly ducked, and slipped behind Tao. Without looking, he threw an errant elbow into Tao’s back, causing the taller man to stumble forward into the brick. But as Roshi attempted to turn around, to take the dominant position, Tao instead used the wall to his advantage, and ran up its side, flipping over Roshi, and landing back on his feet. The two engaged once again in trading punches and kicks, though the only real damage either of them was giving one another was through weariness.
Tao lunged again at Roshi, this time grabbing the Turtle Hermit’s shirt before tugging him forward into his open palm. This cracked Roshi’s sunglasses, and caused him a moment of vertigo, wherein Tao launched a battering display of kicks into Roshi’s hunched figure. But, as Tao almost immediately realized, this was not Roshi at all, but an afterimage, cleverly left right in front of Tao. As the assassin stopped his attack, he peered around for where Roshi had gone. And then, he heard the dreadful words he had been hoping not to:
“Kame… hame… ha!!”
Tao looked directly up, where he heard the scream come from, and saw Roshi descending from the moonlight sky with a blue energy blast in his hands. He put his hands above his head, in an ‘x’ position block, for there was nowhere to run. Then, he felt the heat and power of the blast hit him. Tao was thrown back, in the midst of a large debris field, until he felt his back slam against the hard, cold alley floor. He struggled to breathe, much less get up after weathering such a blast. He hadn’t expected Roshi to be able to conjure up his signature skill so quickly, much less do so much damage with it. He pressed his palm firmly down on his ribcage to help him regain his breathe. Then, Tao looked up, and saw Roshi standing over him, waiting for round two. Well, there would be no round two, Tao knew. He was much too weak and tired for that.
Tao stood up, after some time, and limped forward into position. He raised his middle finger, and using that, bade Roshi to come forward. And so he did. Roshi lunged again, this time furry swiping, but Tao had expected that. He stepped forward, and with all of his energy, swung his hand at Roshi. Only, it wasn’t just his fist, but a finely concealed dagger within his fingers that made contact with Roshi’s chest. This caused Roshi to stagger back, in pain as much as disbelief as he felt a long cut go across his body. Looking down, Roshi saw the cut quickly fill with blood, and much of his chest turn red. Yet, Tao wasn’t done. He yelled again, and with his ponytail flapping in the breeze, flew forward, and plunged the dagger into Roshi’s chiseled abdominal muscles. He heard the old man let out a sharp gasp before falling to his knees. Tao stood there for a second, smiling at last. He had just fought from defeat to victory in a matter of seconds. Standing over the bloody Roshi, Tao raised his fist again, and attempted to end it once and for all.
But Roshi caught his punch, and threw Tao backward. Puzzled by how the old man could still have so much strength, even as he was bleeding out, Tao didn’t know exactly what to do. But it was just then, he heard the police sirens. No doubt, they were from when Roshi had used the Kamehameha. They probably thought it was a bomb. In moments, the entire area would be swarmed. No, Tao couldn’t be caught, or seen on the scene of a crime. It would destroy his reputation before he could even have a chance to build it. No, his reputation was more important than waiting around to kill Roshi.
As Tao turned to run off, Roshi spoke. His voice was frail, and he was bent forward on his hands and knees. “Y-you… won’t get away with this… I-I promise you…”
Tao looked back at the man one last time and sneered, “Oh, I already have.”
With a flick of his ponytail, Tao turned back around and took the rooftops, going under the radar again. He hadn’t expected Roshi to be that much of a challenge. In fact, considering how weak his brother Shen was, Tao had expected Roshi to be a cakewalk. But he wasn’t. And so, Tao resolved two things that night. One, he would become the most feared (and most rich) mercenary in the world; and he would become much stronger. He couldn’t let an old Turtle Hermit fight him to a standstill again. It would be bad for business. It would be bad for his image. And he desperately wanted people to fear his image.
- The original description of this story was "4. Sidekickery - yamcha meeting puar story, includes bandit fights".
- The second description of this story was "4. Sidekickery - The story of how Appule came to be one of Frieza's personal soldiers".
- The final description of this story was "The story of Tao's early foray into mercenary work, including a legendary battle with a famed opponent".
- This story is named serial because this is the beginning of Tao's life as a serial killer.
- The three composers are all known composers of cello music. I specifically made sure I was only using composers who did.
- The Boulez song that Tao knew, although a famous cello song, is not a song that I have ever listened to.
- When I was deciding how to make Tao keep the targets alone in the building late, I wasn't exactly sure what to do at first. Then, in the other room, my father said he lost his keys.
- The use of poison darts is homage to how Jade Fox fought her opponents in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
- The 'pleased to kill you' part is the first instance of Tao's famous catchphrase. When he does it, he offers his hand, like many people do with handshakes. Only, Tao instead uses the motion to slit the woman's throat, which was a very clever move.
- Tao's use of the Dodon Ray on Roshi does not contradict his later declaration to Goku that no one has ever survived being hit with his attack. When he shot it at Roshi in this story, he missed, so it didn't hit Roshi.
- This story must have taken place long before Dragon Ball, since Roshi isn't completely bald.
- The part about Shen not being Tao's keeper is a reference to Cain's similar quote in the Christian bible.
- The use of the knife on Roshi is similar to how Tao used a knife on Tien in the world tournament.
- Tao's method of blocking the Kamehameha is the same as to how he blocks it against Goku in Dragon Ball.
- Tao is damaged more by it in this story because he and Roshi have almost the exact same power level (with Roshi at 100% power).
Serial is one of the greatest stories on this wiki; of that, there is no doubt. It is highly unique, focusing on an evil character not only murdering people, but fighting the definitive good guy at the time. And it's all from Tao's perspective. The great thing about this story is that it is, in essence, a protest against overpowering in stories and characters. With the recent resurgence of a user called Geti186, who creates outrageously overpowered and poorly-crafted characters, I felt it necessary to return to the roots of Dragon Ball. The best fight in Dragon Ball is Roshi vs Tien in the tournament. And it's because they have the same power level.
In a similar fashion, Roshi vs Tao is the greatest matchup that never happened. Depending on what era one looks at, the two can either be equal, or Tao can be stronger, or Roshi can be stronger. Being that this takes place years before Dragon Ball, I had them equal (to which both would later train to become stronger). The fight is one of the longest and most detailed that I have written, and there are certain parts I was clearly influenced by the wuxia film. Namely, when Tao runs up the side of the brick wall to jump over Roshi, or when he hits Roshi into the air, and Roshi bicycle kicks him downward is where I was influenced. I am very happy with the writing, as it continues the high quality seen in Scelerat. The dialogue is probably the best in any Brady Patrick story to date, being how accurate it is to how Tao speaks. The story flows well, and the plot progression is all logical. So there isn't a lot to critique in this story. If I could change one thing, it would be to add one to two more paragraphs of fighting in the middle. However, the story does not suffer for lack of a longer scene. I'd give Serial an S-.
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Part 23 ---->