Chimera Saga: Forged Path
Chapter 03: Fighting to Start
By: Izumi Ryu
Chimera Saga concept by: Theo 'Blitz' Leung
Disclaimer: Pokemon characters, creatures, and settings belong to Nintendo, Game Freak, and others involved with the creation and promotion of the franchise. This is a fanwork with no intent of monetary gain. Original characters introduced in this story belong to the authors of the Chimera Saga collaborative series, in which the characters do require permission for use in other works.

Daniel found Ryna waiting outside the testing facility for him, the entryway having a few people still going about some business or another. The afternoon light casting shadows over the concrete, blocking out the sun's glare. Daniel nodded as he looked to her with a smile. "How'd it go?" Ryna asked, excited over the results of the licensing exam.

"Well..." Daniel started. "I met a lot of resistance, and they tried to make the test ridiculously hard." Then, he took out his wallet and showed her the license. "Keyword: tried. Turned out I was already a couple of steps ahead of them."

"Yes!" Ryna shouted as she hugged Daniel. Daniel nearly stumbled from the sudden jump but wrapped his arms around her, holding his best friend for a short time before she broke the hug. "We should tell Professor Oak."

Without much effort, Ryna grabbed Daniel's arm and started pulling him into the afternoon's heat. Daniel noticed he earned some strange glances from people around them as they raced through the streets of Pallet Town. Among them, a glare from a very familiar looking face. When Daniel tried to get a second glance, the person was gone. Daniel shrugged it off thinking he was seeing things.

"You know I can run on my own, right?" Daniel asked as he stumbled while trying to keep his balance while being pulled.

"Oh...right..." Ryna said before dropping her friend's arm and picking up her pace. "Race you to the lab."

"You're on," Daniel told her as he regained his balance and picked up his own speed. Sure, Ryna had a head start, but Daniel knew she'd need that head start to keep her lead. He started to slowly catch up to Ryna as they approached the uphill stairs to the lab. Ryna had already just started climbing and was a few steps ahead of Daniel.

While Daniel trained himself as a fighter, that included strength as well as speed. Running uphill required both. Daniel kicked it up several notches as he cleared multiple steps in each stride, easily catching up to the girl as they got close to the stop. With one more step, Daniel practically stomped onto the porch.

"Thought I had you for once!" Ryna told him.

"Hey, I don't go easy when I compete," Daniel shrugged. "You challenged me..."

"No wonder so many people don't like you," Ryna mock pouted. "You make it too hard for everyone."

"And if I held back, people would accuse me of toying with them," Daniel pointed out. "Not exactly any better, would you say?"

"I guess you're right," Ryna trailed off, still not happy with the answer. Ryna had accepted Daniel's competitive nature, but she still didn't like it. At least he doesn't seek out his challenges, but there would be a time he would have to let up.

"Professor?" Daniel called out as he opened the lab's front door and walked in.

"Daniel!" a Geodude suddenly jumped out to Daniel, catching him by surprise. Daniel caught the rock pokemon in his arms.

"Rocker... You gotta quit doing that," Daniel told him in an annoyed tone.

"You named him already?" Ryna asked. "Not the most imaginative name..."

"No, that was already his name." Daniel explained. "He told me that himself."

Ryna shook her head. If it was anyone else, she would've thought Daniel was crazy. "Well, he is an old pokemon. I supposed he'd appreciate that better," she told him. "It's a wonder he's not a Graveler yet, really."

"I've been wondering about that myself," Professor Oak interjected as he walked into the foyer, his lab coat showing black marks covering it in various parts.

"Hello, Professor," Ryna greeted., then she noted the burn marks in the professor's lab coat. "What happened to you?"

"A fire pokemon started to act up and burned my jacket. I'm fine otherwise." Oak reassured them. "I'm going to see what I can do about it. It's not like I'll be able to give it to a starting trainer."

"If you say so," Ryna said. Then, she told the professor, "Daniel got his license now."

"I knew he would once he got in. The test isn't that hard," Professor Oak told them.

"They tried to make it harder, it didn't work," Daniel said. "So does this mean I'll be able to leave with Ryna?"

The professor shook his head. "I'm afraid not. There's already three trainers for that group."

"Who are the other two?" Ryna asked.

"Craig and Tyler," Professor Oak told them.

"Figures, those two always have to cause Hell for me," Daniel shrugged. "What about Rocker? He seems to want to be around me so much."

"No matter how good you are, that Geodude may not even listen to you," the professor told him plainly. "He's so old, he could ignore you and be difficult to train and battle with. There's nothing wrong with him coming along, but it won't be a good idea to use him in battle until you get more experience."

"You're right," Daniel shook his head, understanding the point but still not liking it. "It was an idea."

"Besides, it'll give you time to figure out what you want," Professor Oak said. "It's not a good idea for you to leave without deciding what you want to do first."

"I've heard that one before," Daniel remarked. "It's frustrating to not know which way to go now."

"Even I've been there, Daniel. Did you think I woke up one day as a child and decided to be a researcher? Nope, it took several years of training and even a championship for me to decide that," Professor Oak told him. "You just need to know which direction to go for now."

"And what would you suggest I start with?" Daniel asked.

Professor Oak looked over Daniel. "I think you should start as a battler." Daniel looked like he was about to protest but the professor cut in. "While most trainers aspire to be battlers, very few are actually successful at it. The challenge for you would be working with your pokemon. You can't just think about their techniques, but how they prefer to fight and build close relationships with them. It's not as easy as it looks."

"Yeah, but there's only one path for battlers, isn't there?" Daniel pointed out.

"Hardly. Even as a battler, you do not have to challenge the Pokemon League or the gyms. There are other challenges to take. The League just happens to be the largest one."

Daniel looked straight into Oak's eyes. "Like what?"

"There are numerous dojos that you can train at. There's also athletic events you can train your pokemon for. There's numerous challenges for you, Daniel. You just have to look. You could even just go out into the world and train. There's nothing wrong with that."

Daniel's restlessness hadn't subsided after getting his license. In fact, his work was the only thing that kept it at bay at this point. Even when he didn't work, he was out in the range and training on some makeshift practice dummies. He seemed somewhat frustrated with Craig and Tyler delaying him, but the professor knew Daniel would get over it, especially once he finally got his first pokemon.

As the day Ryna would start her journey got closer, Daniel had started to pay closer attention to the work going on. The professor had received a new Charmander that would be a choice between the three pokemon. When he asked about the original one, Professor Oak just told him it was too wild.

"Aren't pokemon going to be like that when they start out?" Daniel asked.

"Yes, but the pokemon we have trainers start out with aren't normally like that. The pokemon could hurt a new trainer badly, whether it intended to or not."

"So you're judging the pokemon based on the few moments you saw it?" Daniel asked.

At that comment, Professor Oak knew to tread carefully. Daniel was intelligent despite how he looked. The professor was getting dangerously close to doing what people have done to Daniel. "Not really, but I would be hypocritical if I had allowed a pokemon like that out to a starting trainer. I normally wouldn't. The last time I did, the first thing it did was electrocute its trainer."

"Electrocute?" Daniel asked. "Wait, Ketchum's starting pokemon was a Pikachu, wasn't it?"

Oak nodded. "Yes, it took him awhile just to get him to build even the start of the relationship he has with Pikachu now. If it were any other trainer, they wouldn't have made it far."

"How did he get a Pikachu when the choices are normally a Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander?" Daniel asked.

"He was late to the pokemon selection, and he was desperate. Even if I had given him a Magikarp, he would've been happy. He was that type. He was dense, but at least he was persistent. That Pikachu became his most trusted and powerful pokemon."

Daniel wasn't originally thinking about the next question at first, but Professor Oak still should've seen it coming. "Why couldn't I start with that Charmander? You know I'm not normal."

The Pokemon Professor knew Daniel wasn't normal in more ways than one. However, he still couldn't risk it. "Because you two would be fighting each other your entire trip most likely."

Daniel smirked. "You're saying that as if it were a bad thing."

Oak just blinked. He really wouldn't fight with a pokemon, would he ? Oak asked himself. Then, he realized Daniel liked fighting for the challenge. He would... That was one of the scariest thoughts he could think of at the moment, and it gave him more of a reason to avoid giving that Charmander to him. "You may want to get to sleep, Daniel. We have an early morning tomorrow."

"Yeah, I know..." Daniel acknowledged before covering a yawn, having already had an early morning that morning.

The next morning was filled with most of the usual chores, except that Professor Oak had to leave Daniel alone so he could prepare for the next group of trainers. Daniel knew he would miss a lot of it. He was disappointed that he would miss Ryna getting her pokemon, but glad that Craig and Tyler wouldn't have the opportunity of rubbing the moment in his face.

"Daniel," Rocker called out as the Geodude came out from a back room of the lab.

Daniel looked up from feeding another group of pokemon as the Geodude approached. "Hey, Rocker. Where were you?" The morning was actually cool enough to force him to wear a jacket today, something Daniel would have to discard later as it heats up. To Daniel, it was just a sign of the change in seasons.

Rocker tossed Daniel a small ball. "Getting this for you." Daniel caught it, recognizing the half-red/half-white pattern of a pokeball.

"Did we forget to let one out?" Daniel asked, thinking it an odd thing. Professor Oak wasn't incapable of making mistakes, but he would've caught it by now.

Daniel just shrugged before pressing the button and expanding it, preparing to let the pokemon out. "No," Rocker finally replied with a smirk. The red light in the ball leaped out as it opened, materializing into a small red lizard. A small flame burned on the end of its tail. Daniel suddenly noticed that some of the pokemon in the area backed away from it, as if Daniel just released a horror.

"It's a Charmander," Daniel said, wondering what the big deal was. "Where'd you find him, Rocker?"

The Charmander turned to the boy, studying the human. Then, it gave Daniel a strange look. Was it anger? Hate? Daniel tried to figure it out, but couldn't quite put his finger on it. The flame lizard suddenly jumped toward Daniel, claws outstretched and ready to rake them across Daniel's skin. Daniel realized it and side-stepped the Charmander. "The Hell?" Daniel asked in surprise. The Charmander landed past the boy before swinging it's tail at him, sending small embers at the human and catching Daniel's jacket on fire. Daniel quickly ripped it off, letting the jacket burn on the ground.

"It wants a fight," Daniel said as the Charmander looked back towards him. Rocker looked like he was ready to jump in at any moment.

"Stand down, Rocker!" Daniel told the Geodude. "He just wants me. I'll be fine."

Rocker relaxed before calling out "Take him down, Daniel!"

The commotion had drawn the attention of others in the building. Craig, Tyler, Ryna and Professor Oak had already shown up to see the Charmander challenging Daniel. "What? Is he picking fights with pokemon now?" Craig remarked with a smirk, thinking he'd get to see Daniel finally get his butt kicked. The others were more surprised at the scene. Ryna even looked to Professor Oak in worry.

"No, that Charmander is quite confrontational. He's even burned me on occasion," Professor Oak told Craig. "How did he get out?"

"How else? Daniel probably tried to steal it out of jealousy," Craig told him plainly. "I'll call Officer Jenny for you...gladly."

"You will shut up for once, Craig," Tyler almost shouted, words that had earned surprised looks from Ryna and Oak.

Craig stormed up to Tyler and glared into his lackey's face. "What did you just tell me?" Craig growled.

"Get over yourself. You're the one that wanted to leave me behind. I'm not your lackey," Tyler glared back, showing the frustration that had built up over time.

"Boys," Ryna sighed. "No wonder why Daniel hates your guts."

Craig grit his teeth before turning away. "Whatever. I'm calling the police."

"There's no need," Professor Oak told him, stopping Craig in his tracks. "Just watch what's about to happen." Craig grudgingly turned around and silently watched the confrontation between human and pokemon. At least he'd enjoy watching Daniel get his butt kicked.

Daniel put his guard up, ready for the Charmander's attack. He started recognizing the expression it gave him. It was determination. The Charmander wanted a challenge, as it whipped its tail around. Was it trying to distract Daniel? Get him off guard?

The Charmander dashed forward before jumping, swiping at Daniel in an upward motion. Daniel leaned back as the claws whiffed past him. Daniel grabbed the Charmander's arm then slammed him down into the ground, pinning the lizard down with his free hand on its back. The lizard's tail, however, lashed down and tried to whip the flame against Daniel's hands. Daniel released his hold before it touched, allowing it to get on its feet.

"And I thought he was a freak before," Craig remarked. Before Craig knew what happened next, he felt a sharp pain across his face. He looked at Ryna who gave him a glare of contempt before turning away. "Fine, I'm taking my Squirtle and getting the Hell out of here." Craig stormed off. Tyler gave Craig one last glance before turning back to the fight.

Daniel took a couple of steps back, waiting for the lizard's next move. "Alright, Charmander, show me what else you have," Daniel muttered, staring at it with the same look of determination the pokemon gave him. It unnerved the Charmander for just a moment. What it saw was a spirit just as strong as his...or was it stronger?

At that moment, both combatants charged, the spectators feeling as if it was the last clash. The Charmander stuck one step before whipping its tail around, sending embers flying at Daniel. Much to the lizard's surprise, Daniel charged through them, the burns in his skin and clothing the only evidence that the attack hurt him.

Daniel took one final step forward and threw one punch, landing solidly against the lizard's face. The punch was enough to not only knock him to the ground, but to make him roll a couple of feet.

Daniel waited for the lizard to get up on its own power before walking up to it. As if sensing he was being approached, the lizard slowly pushed himself up off the ground, his pride not allowing himself to be helped. "You're good," the Charmander said. "I was hoping someone like you would come along."

"You gonna be okay?" Daniel asked.

"Hell, yeah..." the Charmander told him. "The name's Nash, what's yours?"

"Daniel," the boy told him, before being interrupted by the applause behind him. Daniel looked over his shoulder back at the remaining spectators, and surprised Tyler had stopped to watch even. Professor Oak walked out and towards Daniel.

"I was worried how that would turn out," Oak remarked. Daniel turned around to see him walking out towards him. "How did you get him? I thought he was stored well."

Nash stood as if ready to attack the professor. Oak stumbled back, preparing to be burned. Then, a hand shot out in front of the Charmander. "Stand down, Nash. It's okay," Daniel told him. Much to Oak's surprise, the Charmander listened to Daniel, relaxing, something it had never done before. Why now was beyond the professor. "I have no clue. Rocker just handed me his pokeball. I thought it was a pokemon we forgot to release."

"By all rights Daniel, I should put him back. He's too dangerous for a beginner." Nash growled at that, but Oak shook his head, clearing his throat. "But it looks like it respects you at least. You would be the best fit to be its trainer. I may have had my worries, but you proved yourself. That Charmander is yours."

Daniel blinked in confusion for a moment before turning to look at the Charmander. "If he chooses, I accept."

Nash nodded, "Do you think I'd pass up someone as strong as you?"

Oak nodded even though he couldn't understand the pokemon, he knew acceptance when he heard it.. "That settles it then. Take care of your pokemon as much as they take care of you. That goes for Rocker, too."

"Rocker?" Nash asked.

"He means me," the Geodude spoke up.

Nash looked disappointed. "That old guy is going with us? He'll just hold us back."

"I can still take you down without breaking a sweat," Rocker warned as the two looked like they were about to face off with one another.

"And...we'll work on that, too," Daniel remarked, noticing the two pokemon were not getting along.

Oak always worried about the trainers he sent off. Most treated the journey as a storybook adventure, a chance to get away from home. It was never simple. However, Oak could see Daniel's thoughts in his expression. Daniel appeared more like a warrior prepared to take on a challenge no matter the hardships. Perhaps, that was what bought Oak's trust the most.