Chasing Demons: Chapter One – Urban Legends
Disclaimer: As much as it pains me to admit, I am not Akira Toriyama. Nor am I any individual, group, or organization licensed to use the characters and settings of Dragon Ball lore. In short, this is a fan-based passion project with a singular goal – fun.
Hook: It is simply fact that Mr. Satan is the most powerful fighter to have ever lived. He is the reason we live today, the reason martial arts was thrust into the modern age! But when a mysterious fighter named "Demon Jr." dominates competition after competition across the world, fans and fighters alike begin to fear this dark horse may be gunning for Mr. Satan's title!
May, Age 773. Satan City. Orange Star High School.
"Can you believe it's almost summer?" asked a familiarly cheerful voice. "It's crazy, right?"
"Crazy slow, you mean," replied Videl, crossing her arms over her chest. She leaned back in her chair, turning her head towards her friend. "And asking that question every morning doesn't make it come any faster, Erasa."
Erasa seated herself next to Videl with a smile. Videl returned the greeting with a cool, confident smirk of her own, silently expressing her welcome with a slight nod. The girls exchanged their usual, idle morning words as per routine. More accurately, Erasa did most of the speaking as Videl listened. The "normal" topics for the teenage girl to discuss always seemed to elude Videl, but Erasa always insisted that the only "normal" way to talk is with two people sharing and exchanging things, whatever the topic may be.
It was how she spent many mornings before the first bell. She expected to spend the rest of the day following the usual routine as well. Listen to lectures, take notes, eat lunch, more lectures, more notes, go home. One would think that the life of a celebrity (or celebrity's daughter) would be more glamorous, but that was not the exact case. Even so, Videl was not about to complain about her life.
It wasn't long before her other friend, Sharpner, joined her and Erasa at their usual seats. Erasa stood from her chair to greet the teenage boy with a quick hug. Sharpner then turned to Videl and held his arms out expectantly.
"You sure you want my dad finding out we hugged?" she asked him with a challenging grin. There was something just a little bit satisfying watching Sharpner's arms drop dejectedly to his sides as he hurried into his seat. "Thought so," she added, flashing her teeth with a slight chuckle. Not that her father was the only reason to fear her; Videl packed a pretty mean punch herself, and Sharpner was well aware of that fact.
"Hey, Sharp, what do you think you're going to do for summer?" asked Erasa as Sharpner leaned back into his chair in the usual style.
"I'm going to enter every local tournament Satan City's got," he answered, holding his arms behind his head casually. "The World Tournament is coming up next year, so I'm going to be getting as much fighting experience as I can until then."
"Are you sure about that, Sharp?" asked Erasa with a degree of teasing. "What would you do if our very own Satan City Crime Fighter decided to enter those tournaments, too?"
"I haven't even worked a job with the police yet," said Videl. "You can't really call me a crime fighter if I haven't officially taken any bad guys down, right?" Her friends shrugged. Even for her, it was hard to believe that she, a 16-year-old kid, was going to be working with the police as a 'special responder' for Satan City. Videl turned her attention towards Sharpner. "You don't have to worry about me stealing your thunder or anything at the city competitions this year, Sharp."
"And why is that?" he retorted.
"Well, my dad is giving me full access to his training center at home to prepare for the tournament."
At this revelation, both of her friends expressed their own kind of shock. Erasa's response sounded relatively supportive, and Sharpner's was the typical expletive he used when upset or caught off-guard. Videl shrugged her shoulders, though she was unable to mask her confidence. It was no secret that the methods her father used to keep himself strong were in that very training center.
"Twelve months from now, I'm going to be skilled enough to face my dad in the final match – just you watch!" she proclaimed.
"Well, I sure feel comfortable knowing a high school girl can be that strong," Sharpner commented. It was hard for Videl not to miss the sarcasm in his words, responding with a firm punch to the shoulder. He rubbed it with a comically faux pained expression. "Are you sure you even need to keep training?"
"Hey, Sharpner," called a voice from the row of seats behind the boy. "Since you're going to be fighting in so many tournaments this summer, do you think you might end up fighting Demon Jr.?"
The three of them turned, recognizing the voice as the auburn-haired, bespectacled boy who often sat behind them. Once in a while, he would join their conversations, not that Videl minded. He seemed okay, if a little awkward.
"What are you talking about, Penn?" asked Videl, slightly curious. Sharpner chuckled.
"It's just a stupid thing…Like an urban legend, or something," Sharpner said matter-of-factly. "You know how fighting has become really popular in the past few years?"
"Thanks to Mr. Satan!" interjected Penn. Videl rolled her eyes a little, a bit of an embarrassed smile gently pulling the corner of her mouth. "Demon Jr. is –"
"Right, yeah," Sharpner continued, cutting off Penn, "Demon Jr. is, apparently, this fighter who's been hitting a whole bunch of underground and amateur fighting tournaments. Only hardcore martial arts geeks have even heard of the guy."
"And how do you know about him, Sharp?" teased Erasa. Sharpner's brow furrowed as Erasa giggled and Videl smirked.
"Look, I only know the name because Penn over here wouldn't shut up to me about him," he answered curtly, jerking his thumb in Penn's direction. Videl noticed the slight pink overcoming Penn's face.
"Yeah, well, I'm a little insulted," Videl said, crossing her arms over her chest as she once more leaned back against her seat. She turned around slightly to face Penn behind her. "I know more about martial arts than just about anyone at this school, so why didn't you talk to me about this demon fighter if he's such an impressive guy?"
However, rather than answer her question, Penn's face only seemed to turn a deeper red as the boy sunk back into his seat. Videl opted not to press the issue as she turned back toward her friends.
"So, what else can you tell us about this demon guy?" asked Erasa, somewhat interested. Sharpner sighed. He couldn't say much – only that 'demon-whatever' must be small-time if the guy hasn't hit any major city tournaments yet.
"In the past year alone Demon Jr. has been in over 100 tournaments and won every single one of them!" blurted Penn, inserting himself into the discussion once more. Erasa seemed impressed, a soft 'wow' escaping her lips. Sharpner scoffed, dismissing it as 'bull'.
"Even if he has fought in a large number of tournaments, the guy's never been in any news, any big tournaments…It all sounds fake to me. Urban legend stuff," explained Sharpner. "He's not worth my time, let alone Videl's." He turned to Penn with a cocky grin. "You want a real hero to worship, buddy? I'm right here."
Still, Videl grew curious. Anyone who can fight in over 100 tournaments in the span of the year must be fighting and training almost every day, she figured. Maybe those small tournaments weren't quite up to her level, but a number of victories like that, in that time frame, had to be respected…unless, of course, Demon Jr. was some kind of pro who secretly picked on amateurs for fun. That had to be loathed.
'Well, whatever,' she thought, resting her chin on her right hand, propped up by her elbow. She turned to the windows, staring out at the city. 'If he's a fighter worth anything, he'll try out for the World Tournament. If he's not, then it's not like I missed out on a good fight.'
She sighed. The first bell rang as the first lecturer of the day entered the room. Students shuffled into their seats, rifled through their things, scribbled on their notebooks…
'The everyday humdrum of a student's life…' Videl mused, her eyes beginning to glaze over. 'I wish summer would come sooner…'
The North District.
In every battle, a truly skilled warrior can analyze an opponent piece-by-piece and put together a sound counterattack. Even if the enemy refuses to give you that moment to think, to work out a battle plan, every move gives something away. It is the warrior's choice to take the attack head-on or sidestep away, but in either case he learns something.
Sometimes, you learn that the opponent is too strong for you to defeat unless you can somehow try something new. You learn that you need to adopt a new tactic and give more than your greatest effort. In this case, however, Gohan learned that he had to do more than even that to make sure he didn't hurt (or, in the worst possible case, kill) the man in the ring with him.
"Do you think you can take on me, little masked man?" his opponent taunted. His name was Bolda – a hulking, hairy mess of a man who undoubtedly climbed his way to the top of the tournament by overwhelming opponents with sheer mass and shallow intimidation. He stood over two meters tall and probably weighed two or three times as much as the average man in this village. Gohan couldn't blame opponents for forfeiting.
Of course, Gohan was much more than the average man in the village.
Gohan felt the mask around his face, assuring himself of exactly how secure it was. The fight 'officiator' (if he could be called that) signaled for the match to begin. Robed men struck the modest ceremonial bell, and villagers cheered outside the dirt line ring.
Bolda charged toward Gohan, clumsily lobbing his meaty right fist at the masked warrior's face. Gohan swayed his body out of the way with ease. Bolda threw another heavy, sluggish punch, this time with his left. Again, Gohan eased himself out of the way with minimal effort.
'This guy really throws his weight around!' Gohan observed, dodging another strike. 'Shouldn't be too difficult to lead him out of the ring…'
Gohan's brutish opponent, frustrated and unable to even graze the masked fighter, hammered his ham-sized fists into the ground, kicking up a small dust cloud into Gohan's eyes.
'Oh, crap!' he thought, leaping away from the blind spot and towards the center of the ring. Gohan rubbed his forearm against his eyes and looked toward the dust cloud. His opponent burst through it, charging like a mad bull at Gohan. With a slight smirk hidden beneath his mask, Gohan quickly took a few steps backward to the perimeter of the dirt ring behind him. 'Thanks for making it easy, big fella.'
As Bolda quickly drew closer, Gohan jumped forward. His height barely cleared the giant's shoulders as Bolda passed beneath him. Time seemed to slow down for Gohan as he landed his slight counter. A light tap with his foot on the back of Bolda's right shoulder as he leapt over was all he needed to send the bulky mass down and out of the ring. While Gohan landed perfectly in the center of the ring, Bolda fell to his knees and skidded until his movement completely halted just outside the boundary line.
The officiator signaled the end of the match and walked into the ring to announce Gohan. The robed men rang their ceremonial bell once more to signify the end of the tournament. The villagers cheered for an impressive match.
"The winner!" shouted the officiator as loud as he could over the crowd. He held Gohan's arm, raising it up in glory. "Demon Jr.!"
Gohan glanced over toward Bolda, watching the village's men trying to help him up. A cold sensation ran through Gohan's spine for a moment, and something felt clamped onto one of his lungs. A couple of villagers tried to turn the large man onto his side, and Bolda cried out in pain. His hairy face grew red as he clutched the shoulder Gohan struck, his long and guttural howls breaking any celebratory atmosphere in the village. Gohan felt absolutely frozen.
The fight officiator shook him out of it, shouting for someone to run to the village's telephone to call a doctor from the town nearby. He handed Gohan a small pouch – his prize money of 350 Zeni – and offered some congratulatory words before running off to aid Bolda. Gohan reached out and grabbed the officiator's arm, stopping him in his tracks. Without a word, the masked fighter removed 100 Zeni from the pouch and gave the remainder to the officiator. The man looked at Gohan with a puzzled expression.
"For the doctor," Gohan explained, pocketing his meager keepings. He let the officiator go and left the village behind him, only glancing back toward his opponent as he reached the village's edge. His business was done there. It was time to move on.
"If there was ever a time to bring senzu beans, Gohan…" he said to himself, flying through the air. Gohan dropped into the uninhabited wild forests of the North District and took off his backpack. Gohan opened up the bag. Inside were his normal, everyday clothes: a loose-fitting white shirt and baggy orange pants. He laid them out on the grass at his feet.
Gohan removed his mask, pulling it down from his face. It was nothing more than the loose white collar he often wore into battle as a child. He felt it in his hands for a second, staring at it, and fondled it with his fingertips before stuffing it into the bag. Then he began to unravel the weighted turban on his head – the second half of his mask.
Other elements of his costume included a purple uniform and light blue belt, bearing the symbol for 'demon,' and brown leathery shoes – all reminiscent of his first teacher. He reached into his pocket and picked out the coins – the 100 Zeni claimed from the tournament – and placed them on a large stone by his knees. Gohan sighed.
Bolda's injury wasn't something Gohan was ready to face. It was a reminder of exactly what he was capable of as a warrior compared to the amateurs in these small tournaments. A reminder that he should not have been there in the first place. By no means was he an uncontrollable freak in his day-to-day life. Relaxed interaction was easy; there was never a need to 'power up'. But in a fight? Even in one as low-level as this? It would always be difficult to keep himself in check. He was just lucky his opponent got away with a broken shoulder. If his slight flare had been any larger, it could have been much worse. Everything from turning the bones in his arm to dust to outright killing the man flashed through Gohan's mind. He thought that, if he learned anything over the past year fighting in boring match after boring match, it was how to beat an opponent without dealing serious harm. And still this happened…
Gohan had to do something, but there wasn't much he could do. He wasn't a healer, he didn't have any senzu beans…He looked at the 100 Zeni he kept. 'The 250 I left with them…might not be enough for a doctor's fee,' he thought. 'Should I have just left all of the winnings?'
He couldn't have. Already Gohan was making gains at a snail's pace, and he knew that. His fighting options were limited enough without drawing major attention to himself. Every bit had to count, and he had to walk away with something. 'I'll take a senzu to him tomorrow…That should set things right.'
"I need to train more…" he said dejectedly. "I need…control."
Gohan changed into his normal clothes and out of his dirty tournament outfit quickly enough. As he folded and placed everything into the backpack, a small brochure slipped out of the smaller pockets. Orange Star High School, it read above a picture of the school campus.
His motivation. His goal. That was why he traveled across the globe for every small tournament he could find. This was his 98th competition in the span of ten months, his total earnings just shy of 15,000 Zeni out of a tuition cost of 30,000. It was certainly enough to get him started at the school by the coming fall, but he would have to keep looking for more tournaments.
All he was looking for was a year to be free to live at his own pace, be with people his own age, and just feel…normal. And, as loving and caring as his mother is, she would never let him go to any school but the absolute best in the world. Orange Star High.
"Speaking of Mom…" he said, looking toward the sunset, "She'll be worried if I don't come home soon. Guess I better hurry…"
Gohan picked up the prize money from the stone and secured the coins in his pocket before slinging the backpack over his arms and heading south-east at full speed, toward the Son Family Home on Mt. Paozu.
The Writer's Block:
I present to you the Demon Hunt rewrite no one wanted. First of all – hi! I've been busy with school and work over summer and most of fall, so I kind of put fan fiction aside for a long time. Actually, seeing as a number of the stories I follow stopped updating around the same time I did, I guess I wasn't the only one to do so. But I love writing and I want to continue. I just want to do it on my terms – even if that means starting over.
Chasing Demons is going to focus on the growth of Videl and Gohan without deviating from the story's premise. I don't wish to divulge any more than this, but know that I plan on including the strongest points of Demon Hunt, improving its weaker points, and dropping its unnecessary ones. I promise much less meandering and much more development.
Anyway, thank you for taking your time to read! I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. Please feel free to leave a review on your way out!