Three Foolish Monkeys was one of the first stories based upon fanon characters that I came up with for I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now. I don't remember when exactly I came up with the idea for this one, but the idea of having Chari, Olivien, and Bulla find out that Jia is working for Cardinal (without realizing that was a bad thing) has been floating around in my head for a while. It becomes relevant to the latter portions of Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon when Jia and Cardinal's plans come to fruition.
Beyond that, there wasn't much more to this one. It's fairly simple plot-wise, with the main focus being on the characterization of the Saiyans. I ended up foreshadowing Bulla reactivating Androids 11 and 12 in the opening scene, but that was not originally part of the story. It was only added in during the third draft.
This was the tenth out of fourteen stories in I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now that I wrote the first draft of. The order was as follows (beginning in late 2019):
november: 4 - the legend of upa (nov 15) - welcome to rapture (nov 16) - the swindler (nov 19) - zeta male (nov 29) december: 3 - one of them (dec 19) - the big ugly (dec 25) - trickster is meaningless (dec 30) january: 4 - bean daddy (jan 24) - one word from the crane (jan 26) - captain of the guard (three foolish monkeys) (jan 27) - pretty little flower (softpetal) (jan 30) february: 1 - how to act like a professional mercenary (feb 5) march: 0 april: 0 may: 1 - insatiable (may 3) june: 0 july: 0 august: 0 september: 0 october: 1 - killing general copper (october 6)
I wrote the first draft a little less than nine hours after completing the first draft of One Word From The Crane. Overall, this one did not take me long to write. I began it at 5:13 am on January 27th and finished it at 6:59 am (I did take several breaks during that time). I began editing on June 3rd, though I only got a few paragraphs in before deciding to postpone my editing until Softpetal was completed. I returned to editing on August 21st, and by that point, I had realized that I needed to restructure the first scene. I began by entirely re-writing that scene up until Jia gets the phone call. I only did moderate work on it, however, on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. I completed the second version of this story on the 24th and then edited it the next day. I did not touch it again until October 4th. On that day, I once more edited the story, for I had planned on releasing the next six IWWTBAFRN one-shots that night. As it turned out, that didn't happen until three days later. That last edit was general touch-up to the prose and did not feature any significant changes.
The first and final drafts are not markedly different except for in two areas: 1, the opening scene with Chari and Bulla playing around with the body of Android 21 was added in to give them something to do before Jia calls for them (in the original draft, they do almost nothing before the woman calls for them); 2, making Morucan and Tresparson draw their guns before Oli and Chari kill them, which I felt was a more realistic way to tempt the kids into killing those two.
The last thing I want to mention is that near the end of my work on this story, on August 24, 2020, I changed the name from Captain of the Guard to Three Foolish Monkeys. I injected some stuff that has to do with the three wise monkeys maxim because this story deals with three Saiyans (although Bulla doesn't have a tail anymore). See no evil is meant to be Olivien, as he cannot pronounce the kanji for Morizakura on the warehouse; speak no evil is Chari, for she is the one who says something that alerts Morucan and Tresparson that the kids are there; hear no evil is Bulla, for she complains that she cannot hear what Jia is talking about (due to being only half-Saiyan, I figured she has somewhat weaker hearing abilities than full-blooded Saiyans).
In any case, with most of the stories in I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now, this one is a very quick one that deals with the theme of mortality in a somewhat darkly comedic way, but I would say that the most important aspect of it was Chari being able to read 'Morizakura'. That will end up being a pivotal detail in perhaps saga 8 or 9 of Heart of the Dragon.
They were out on the back deck, playing. Bulla had come over for dinner. Their caretaker Jia was inside, cooking spicy chicken curry. Chari’s mouth watered as she caught its aroma. Onion and ginger and garlic tickled her taste buds. Night was coming on; a wintery wind blew through West City. The blue-haired girl held a capsule, sporting an audacious grin.
“Look what I found in my mom’s lab, Char.”
A flash of light revealed a skeletal figure, its shining chrome frame illuminating the yard. Lying on its back, the robotic being, who wore a white kimono, did not move.
Her voice was stripped of all reservations. “Bulla, what is that?!”
“Cool, isn’t he? Mom told me his name is Android 21.”
“Don’t worry, he was never completed. Mom’s been trying to re-activate him for years, but no luck so far.”
She took out her portable hand computer.
“What’s that for?”
“Mom and I have been working on installing a new AI into his frame so he won’t be evil when he wakes up. But we can't do that until his power’s been restored. Help me place these around his body,” the princess said, pulling what looked like flat round discs out from the back of her datapad. “Let’s try to bring his infinite energy device back online.”
The girl did so. They went at it for a while, and as it grew darker and the stars came out from behind a veil of swiftly moving clouds, she looked up, the comforting scent of cut grass twitching at her nose. Her father was up there somewhere, hunting space vermin. The twinkling lights were so far away. She shivered and was glad to be with her best friend.
Inside, Jia’s phone rang. Through the screen door, the girl noticed her caretaker’s voice become sharp, worried, and quiet. She looked up while Bulla continued clacking away at her touchscreen.
“Now? Is it absolutely vital? Moru– Okay, I get it. Alright, alright, I’m on my way.”
A blue light pulsed through the skeletal frame of the android. He did not wake. Bulla bit her lip. Chari liked it when she did that.
“Gosh, Dr. Gero programmed this android good. I can’t believe he’s not turning on!”
“Maybe he’s broken?”
“No, he’s just under lockdown.”
The screen door opened, and out came Jia, brushing her dark hair out of her eyes. “Chari, where’s Olivien?”
“In the gravity unit.” She pointed to the bulbous training structure sitting on the grass farther out in the backyard.
“Oli! Oli! Oli!!”
The door opened, and out shot her twin, who was wearing nothing except black training shorts and fingerless gloves. Red-faced, dripping with sweat, his chest heaving, the boy landed next to them in a flash. “What?”
“Bulla, are you staying the night?”
“Um… sure? I guess. It’s a little early for bedtime.”
“I’m sorry, kids. I’m afraid I must step out for a few hours. I need you to go to bed now. Chari,” the woman said, her voice rising in an authoritative plea, “make sure everyone brushes their teeth and gets tucked in. If I catch any of you out of bed when I return, I will alert your father about your behavior, and he will take appropriate actions.”
“Where are you going, Miss Jia?” asked her brother as he wiped himself off with a towel.
“I have some, ahem, business to attend to. It’s an urgent matter. I apologize. This never happens. You will just have to do what I ask. Please.”
“But it’s not even eight!”
“I don’t have time to argue. You can watch television for an hour, then it’s bedtime. Do not leave your room, understood?
“Yes ma’am,” they replied.
She glowered at them, moving from face to face, lingering longest on the boy’s. “Olivien, you better not sneak off somewhere. You know what’ll happen if you do…”
He scowled. “I won’t.”
“We shall see. Now then, I must go.”
With anxious energy, the woman returned inside, not waiting for an answer, grabbed her purse, and raced out the front door. Moments later, the pot of curry boiled over. Even Bulla giggled when she saw what a mess it had made. Jia would have to clean that up when she got back.
The Saiyans, good little boy and girls that they were, marched into the twins room, got into their pajamas (Bulla borrowed a pair of Chari’s), jumped into bed (as well as the pull-out bed on the couch for the princess, bless her grace in amateur situations like this), turned on the television, and watched some commercials for about two minutes and thirty-seven seconds.
Then, like clockwork, they slithered out from under their blankets, Olivien leading the way. Their caretaker was a nice lady, for the most part, but she was only human. She could not fly, and more importantly, she could not sense energy. They always knew where she was. Following her was easy.
They left the television on, turning it down for added effect. Her brother jumped through the window in a blur. She beckoned the princess through before her, which made her stomach tingle. In her white-and-yellow onesie, Bulla threw herself through the opening, flying sloppier than them (she was two years younger, so it was to be expected), and nearly shattering the glass. That would have been the end of their game. Somehow, she managed to right herself at the last moment.
Like a dog, Chari followed her out. While the cold was on her cheeks, her heart was beating too quickly for her to mind.
Chari had never flown down to Seikishi City before. She felt a deep sense of something akin to admiration when she looked out over the misty water. Lady Jia had driven down to the docks. In the dead of winter, in the last throes of Age 787, the fog had risen up from the shoreline, blanketing nigh everything. They watched from above, keeping pace with her hovercar until it pulled to a stop just outside a warehouse on the water’s edge. The name ‘Morizakura’ was printed in big white lettering on the side of the building. She came to a stop, hopped out, and disappeared into the mist.
They sensed her walking down to the pier, where two men waited for her. They were only slightly stronger humans in Chari’s estimation. Her teeth began to clatter. She did not much like the cold; she wanted to go home. Bulla was shivering too, though she was trying to hide it. They descended to get out of the wind, but also so that they could more easily hear what Jia and the others were saying.
As Saiyans, their hearing was superior to what one could reasonably expect of a human. Nevertheless, they were careful to keep their distance. Hovering over the wooden planks, they drifted through the fog after their caretaker.
“Batteries must’ve died…”
“If they had done anything–anything–Morucan, I would have been powerless to stop them. I could have been killed.”
“I know, I know, that’s why we called you.”
“What’s the plan?”
“We’ll install a new one tonight while they’re sleeping. Mr. Cardinal’s inside. He wants to talk to you about it.”
Jia's footsteps faded. Chari had never heard of a Mr. Cardinal, nor had she been aware that Jia also worked for someone else. Her father had to know about it, but this was still pretty weird. She had thought that Jia only took care of her and her brother. The men hadn’t gone with her; one lit a cigarette, the burst of red visible through the haze.
“I can’t hear,” Bulla complained. “What are they talking about?”
They crept forward, now nearly at ground level to escape the wind. The warehouse, rusting in places, having been battered by salt and bird poop, lay before them.
Oli cocked his head. “What’s that say…? Sh-shin… ou?”
“Morizakura, you idiot!” Chari whispered.
“Hey, who’s out there?!” a man’s voice shouted through the mist.
Her heart sank. Exchanging a wide-eyed look with her twin, Chari went to kick off from the ground when a pair of older men in suits and slicked-back hair came running over. They looked more than annoyed at first, until they noticed her tail. That’s when the pair got real spooked.
“Shit, look at those tails…”
“Damn aliens. Hey, what’s the protocol? What would Mr. Cardinal want us to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“We have to stop them from going down there, at least. It’s tresspassin’, Tresparson.”
“Right you are, right you are. Oi, kids, stop right there!” He pulled out a gun, waving it about. “Go home, or I’ll–”
Reflexively, Olivien blasted Tresparson with a blue beam of energy. Chari hardly had time to gasp before a teal ball of her own had to be thrown at the man’s companion, lest he scream out and give away the whole charade.
Two piles of dust remained. A kiai was enough to scatter them into the night. Nobody would ever know what had happened. Suffice to say, Bulla scolded them bad for what they had done, and they really had nothing to say in defense of their actions. The three flew back home in silence.
Chari had sensed that Bulla, being only half-Saiyan, did not understand fully the ways of her people. The princess was not a fighter like Olivien or herself. She was not as much of a warrior as her brother, truth be told. If her best friend wasn’t going to train, why should she? The girl would rather spend time with Bulla than spar. That was not to say she didn’t feel the itch to trade punches every now and then.
They watched an inane television program about the Great Saiyaman (the lame concept made Chari want nothing more than to grow up to be the opposite of that guy) for a few minutes before falling asleep.
Jia returned some hours later to find the children sleeping with the television on. As one could imagine, the next day, they were reprimanded heavily, although it’s difficult to say how effective Jia’s scoldings were. Perhaps they forgot within the hour what she had said. They did not, however, forget that one odd night where she had rushed off to the Morizakura warehouse and they had followed her there only to be confronted by two men.
Those men were gone, and that was that. Neither twin felt guilty about what they had done. Sometimes, in the years following, she wondered what Mr. Cardinal thought had happened to Morucan and Tresparson. Being vaporized by space monkeys probably wasn’t the first thing he had suspected. Nobody would have guessed that the children could be so ruthless, so cold-blooded, at such a young age. Chari would not have believed it had she not been there.
The princess’ sensibilities aside, if anything, she and her brother had been merciful to those men, for a quick, painless death is all anyone can ask for in life.
- This story is named after the "three wise monkeys" maxim. It was originally called Captain of the Guard, but I changed that on August 24, 2020 due to the original name bearing little relevance to how the story unfolded.
- More than six years passed between the publishing of this story and The Perfect Lifeform. Six years after TPL, this is the first time that Android 21 (in my universe, the Xenoverse Android 21 does not exist) has been seen in another story. Crazy stuff. I don't think I ever expected 21 to appear anywhere else aside from briefly being seen in Heart of the Dragon.
- Android 21 won't be reactivated, but some of his technology will be used on Androids 11 and 12. Bulla will also be inspired by how he was created (the same will also be true for Android 22) when upgrading 11 and 12. Of course, it will take Bulla many years to reactivate the androids. Putting 21 in this story gave me some nice build up to that. That will likely occur in the 8th saga of HOTD, which takes place about four years after this story.
- "They went at it for a while, and as it grew darker and the stars came out from behind a veil of swiftly moving clouds, she looked up, the comforting scent of cut grass twitching at her nose. Her father was up there somewhere, hunting space vermin. The twinkling lights were so far away. She shivered and was glad to be with her best friend." - this is the first instance of a sense of yuugen being evoked in the story.
- I put in some descriptions of Chari having a crush on Bulla, though she does not really understand why she feels that way during this one-shot.
- The way Jia talks to the three, she thinks that Chari is the most responsible of the bunch. Her dialogue also hints at the fact that Olivien has been somewhat of a trickster previously. I don't doubt that the boy has snuck out to mess around in the past.
- The great tragedy of this story is the wasted curry. When Jia came home several hours later and found that, she certainly cursed herself out for being so sloppy. She should have turned the burner off before leaving. It's what she's paid to do. Terrible unforced error there. But overall, this shows that whatever was weighing down upon her mind is so significant that she makes uncharacteristic errors.
- Ledas was always a supremely curious individual. That is one of my personality traits that I put into him very heavily (note how this is not true with Cuber or Chaiva at all, for they are based upon HZ who basically has a 10/100 at best in the curiosity department). That is the main reason why Olivien goes after Jia and Chari doesn't feel any differently about it. All of them (including Bulla) think it's outrageous that they have to go to bed so early. They don't necessarily cede authority to Jia either. I wanted to show, rather than outright state, that they have inherited some of their father's arrogance (which was influenced by kid Vegeta at a very young age, so there is some irony there, considering they are playing with Vegeta's daughter, who is not super arrogant, herself).
- The feeling Chari experiences when she looks out over the water is similar to the feeling Uub feels when he does the same thing in One of Them. Both are attempts at evoking yuugen.
- It is quite remarkable that Chari had never been to Seikishi City before. Not like there is anything there for her to go see, but it is the city where Ledas first lived in Dragon Ball Z: The Forgotten.
- The Saiyans' ability to sense ki as well as their heightened hearing is the only thing that allows them to listen in on Jia's conversation without being spotted.
- The device Morucan and Jia are talking about is likely something that suppresses ki, much like the thing that Cardinal used on Ledas in the Planet Earth Saga of TF.
- Having Olivien unable to read the Morizakura kanji was fun and goes with the theme of "three wise monkeys". His pronunciation utilizes the on readings of those kanji, so at least he knew that.
- Chari assumes that Ledas knows that Jia works for Cardinal, too. Ledas does know that Cardinal supplied her but is unaware that she is working as an undercover agent for him while caring for his kids. This is a crucial assumption that keeps her alive for at least four more years.
- Morucan and Tresparson weren't going to shoot at the Saiyans. They drew their weapons to make them run off, not realizing that when it comes to fight or flight, Olivien is no coward. Big mistake on their part to assume that beings far more powerful than them would cower at the sight of a gun. That's some human-centric logic right there.
- The Great Saiyaman, in my opinion, is a fitting end of Gohan's character development. Trash idea for a trash character.
- The most important thematic consideration in this story is that of guilt and when murder is deserved or not. In truth, that's at the heart of I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now. Chari and Olivien take a Saiyan-like approach to this issue, and their feelings on the matter are my own.
Overall, this is a nice little one-shot that deals with the themes in IWWTBAFRN rather well. It's nifty in dealing with some issues in the lore and sets up Jia's betrayal in Heart of the Dragon nicely, in my opinion. I think the minimalistic writing style is an improvement upon earlier one-shots in this collection, for there is still room to deal with thematic content, such as that of yuugen and justified homicides, while also giving some light characterization to everyone, particularly Chari. The stuff with the three wise monkeys maxim was fun to put into the story.
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