In this world, there are many strange and wonderful creatures called Pokémon. People who raise these beings as partners are called Shinobi. Rarely does a civilian find one willing to be their pet.
Our story takes place in the village of Konoha. In the Ninja Academy, children are raised to become shinobi and take one of many paths.
The Trainer, one who raises and battles their Pokémon to their highest evolutionary form in order to be the best. Those who choose this path may keep six Pokémon partners to assist them, and if they are lucky and have the right potential, may eventually be raised to one of the five highest positions. That of the Kage and his Elite Four Defenders. Some seek to become a Sage, one of those who can be elected as Kage should the current ones step down.
The Breeder, those that raise their Pokémon with love and attention, never seeking to force the evolutionary path. A majority of those that choose this path become medics for both human and Pokémon. They are the ones in charge of all eggs given out to the new genin who have yet to find one before that time.
The Ranger, those who seek a balance with a single partner. They guard the village and their Pokémon friends from those that would disturb the peace. Those that take this path often become ANBU later on. They are often called to settle disputes between countries...or between humans and Pokémon.
The three types of positions come with many benefits and restrictions.
But there is one universal truth. Out of all the Kage, only one has risen to the position. That of the trainer. Not once has a ranger or a breeder successfully taken that position.
It is to that point that we begin this tale. The one we shall be following is that of Uzumaki Naruto and his main partner Shifter, an unusual Eevee which has undergone many illegal experiments thanks to a foul section of the Konoha ninja force.
Shifter can take the form and abilities of any of its evolutionary paths barring three. Those of Flareon, Jolteon and Vaporeon. Should he be exposed to any of the three stones he would lose his ability to take the forms of the other paths and most of his unique abilities.
And now, our story begins with how these two unusual characters met...
Naruto kicked the can near his foot. Today had been another miserable day. He had once again been beaten by the other kids and mocked because of the fact he had no parents.
His head lifted up when he heard a frightened squeak from behind the trash can. Curious, he slowly went towards it...and found a frightened Pokémon.
While he was the dead last in his class, even he could tell a Pokémon when he saw one. Seeing how frightened it was, and how it seemed to be afraid of humans, Naruto just sat there quietly behind the trash can allowing to get used to his presence.
Something about him must have struck a chord with the little Pokémon, because it slowly stopped freaking out about him being so close and carefully came towards him. He wouldn't know it until later, but the presence of a certain fox in his stomach could be felt by most Pokémon and animals. The sheer power and animalistic presence that the fox had, even from inside him, could be sensed when he was close.
Sadly, this also meant that the day he was forced to capture Tora, the cat would take his rage out solely on him. The cat was naturally terrified of anything bigger than itself thanks to its owner, and doubly so when the thing holding it happened to be a bloody demon.
The tiny Eevee trembled in his arms, but didn't make a move to leave them. The sad truth was that the Kyuubi inside Naruto was a far less terrifying prospect compared to the humans who had altered its genetic makeup almost immediately after it came out of the egg.
Naruto quickly took the tiny Pokémon to the one clinic that wouldn't throw him out on sight.
The one owned by the Inuzuka clan. Tsume was a real bitch when she was in a foul mood, but after running into Naruto so soon after being kicked out of the orphanage, she had essentially told the clan that anyone caught treating him like a demon would be forced to spar with her during that time of the month.
The idea of fighting a hormonal Tsume when her emotions were so out of whack was more than enough motivation to treat Naruto like any other young pup.
As a result, Naruto had learned quickly that the animal clinics were safe havens from the mobs that tended to form on occasion. The dogs at least tolerated his presence enough to allow him near, and Naruto had a good relationship with some of those in the kennels.
If he could have afforded it, he would have adopted a few that no one else ever seemed to want.
"Another injured dog, Naruto?" asked Hana kindly. She rather liked the boy, who reminded her a lot of her own younger brother, though Naruto seemed to have more common sense.
Naruto showed her the Pokémon, and the immediate change in her attitude was quite apparent.
It was considered a crime to abuse Pokémon, and anyone caught doing so was warned only once before the creature was taken away and the culprit was sent in for some very unpleasant retraining.
Naruto answered all her questions, making sure to stay within arm's reach of the Pokémon. It seemed absolutely terrified of needles, which sent quite a few alarms going off in Hana's mind. At the very least she knew that Naruto would never dare hurt a Pokémon like this. He would rather befriend them and work alongside them instead.
Once the Eevee had calmed down enough for Hana to give it a thorough check up, Hana found an oddity in its bloodwork.
"Naruto, are you sure this little one was hiding in the trash?" she asked carefully.
"Yeah, I hid behind the trash can with it and let it come to me, just like you taught me Hana-nee-chan!"
Hana had shown Naruto once how to get the animals to come near him. Ever since then Naruto always adopted a wait and see approach when it came to animals.
"Naruto, this Eevee has some unusual pathogens in its blood. Would you mind if I kept it overnight for observation?"
Hearing the word 'observation' the Eevee practically dove into his arms.
"Can I stay with it?" he asked.
Hana debated on what to do, when an idea occurred to her. She had heard Kiba's description of Naruto in class, and it had always struck her as odd. Perhaps she could kill two nin with one kunai?
"How about this. While we wait for the bloodwork to be fully processed, you spend the night at the clan compound with me. That way we can keep an eye on your Eevee and still keep it close to you," she suggested.
It would take some fast talking, and with any luck her mother would go along with it. Should the Pokémon be carrying any sort of illness, she would take full responsibility for it.
Plus this would hopefully instill a sense of responsibility and loyalty to Pokémon partners in her younger brother.
At the Inuzuka compound...
"You brought a rogue Pokémon and the village pariah here for the night?" said Tsume. Hana didn't back down from her decision. She stared her mother in the eye and told her exactly what prompted the idea.
Tsume watched as the little Eevee carefully started to play with Akamaru while the two boys debated their classes in a friendly manner. Her canine partner Kuromaru and her Pokémon Arc (Arcanine) watched them with amusement.
"Good work Hana. But if it's carrying anything..."
"I'll take full responsibility for it," she assured her.
That night marked a decided change in the way the Inuzuka treated the blond.
He had surprised a great many when he mentioned that up to that point he had only been able to eat ramen from a stand that was known to be the favorite of at least two Kages. Other than that he mostly ate scraps.
It was after that meal that many of the clan members who at best treated him with indifference, started to treat him like a normal kid...or Kiba. Naruto was so surprised by the friendly manner of the Inuzuka clan that he actually behaved without flinching.
All through the night, Hana kept a sharp eye on the Eevee. It was only ever comfortable around Naruto, and seemed to regard anyone who came close as a threat. It never displayed any symptoms of sickness.
Just when she thought there was nothing out of the ordinary (aside from some severe abuse or experimentation) the little Eevee shocked her...by shifting into the form of an Umbreon...and then returning to its previous form.
A Pokémon able to evolve and de-evolve was unheard of! Once a Pokémon evolved, that was it. It stayed in the new form until it either evolved again or died. The only Pokémon able to change forms like that was Ditto, and the little Eevee certainly wasn't that pink blob.
Unless it was a Ditto that was stuck in the form of an Eevee, which while improbable was possible.
All of those theories went right out the window when the bloodwork came in during the noon.
Notes: There are a number of unusual genetic markings in the Eevee blood you sent. It could be nothing, but all of the markings indicate extreme genetic testing. From what we could tell it would allow this particular Eevee to 'shift' between its evolutionary forms, though for some reason the original three are locked. Should it be exposed to the three stones known to cause evolution, it is highly possible that it will be locked in that form. Again this is only speculation. Aside from that it appears that all vaccinations are completely up to date, including a few that aren't standard in the kennels.
When Naruto returned that evening, Hana told him that the Eevee was cleared for any health problems.
"Does...does this mean I can keep it?"
"It's a he, and yes. Though I would like you to bring it in once a week just in case. There were a few...unusual...things found in its blood and I want to make a progress report on how it does."
"Thanks Hana-nee-chan!" said Naruto cheerfully.
Hana helped him fill out the paperwork that labeled the little Eevee as Naruto's partner, though when he learned of its unusual ability he decided to just name it Shifter.
And with that, an unusual team was born.
Ever since that day, the bond between Shifter and Naruto only grew stronger. Especially when the tiny Eevee realized that Naruto would not only care for him, but protect him from mortal harm.
Once Shifter grew comfortable enough around the blond, it started to display it's very unusual abilities. Like the fact that it could take the form of any of its evolutionary paths barring the first three that the Leaf nin had discovered.
It took two years for the little Pokémon to be comfortable around Hana enough to allow her to examine it without Naruto around. Though anyone else would find themselves flash frozen or stuck to the wall if it came anywhere near the little Pokémon with a needle or leash. Shifter was nothing if not vindictive. And his personality tended to mimic Naruto to a rather strong degree.
Something many of Naruto's fellow classmates learned the hard way once Shifter's confidence was up enough that it actually took it upon itself to prevent him from being bullied.
Among those who suffered from being frozen from the knee down (only because Iruka had asked him to keep the Ice beam attacks to non lethal and mildly painful levels) were some from the Hyuuga and Uchiha clan.
Though the Uchiha could usually get out within a few minutes of Naruto and Shifter leaving, the Hyuuga quickly learned to leave the boy alone for fear of being hit again with the ice beam.
Because of his new partner, Naruto quickly found himself ascending the ranks in the Academy. Most of those with partner Pokémon tended to lose their attitude towards 'that demon brat' once they learned the circumstances of Shifter's background. Having Hana confirm it and show the test results only made that change solidify.
As a result, Naruto found his classes much easier and that the teachers no longer gave him a dirty look or tried to subtly hinder him. His grades almost shot through the roof after his third test, to the surprise of many.
Naruto was now a contender for the top shinobi in the year. A fact not lost on the Hokage.
Naruto yawned as he gently moved Shifter off him. The canine like Pokémon simply loved to snuggle under the covers and sleep against his legs at night, which made moving during the night rather difficult. (My dog does this too! Evil, bed stealing boxer...)
Shifter yawned widely, displaying several sharp teeth that had recently grown in. Because of the odd ability to shift into different forms at will, his teeth tended to be replaced at least once or twice every other month. Naruto made up for that fact by keeping plenty of toys for him to gnaw on during class.
It was an unspoken agreement between Iruka and Naruto that Shifter never use his Bite attack on the other students. Because of his almost constant gnawing of toys, Shifter's Bite attack could cause serious damage. It's jaw strength could be compared to a Feraligatr if the tiny Pokémon ever put its full power into it.
A fact quite a few of the mobs had found the hard way...Naruto was very happy when people finally learned to leave him alone on his birthday.
Naruto tended to spend the mob-free day with the Hokage who sometimes lent him scrolls that couldn't be counted as classified for him to try out.
Once he accidentally left an odd bookmark in one, and Naruto learned his elemental affinity years before his classmates. Though it took him a few months to locate some wind scrolls that he was allowed to train with.
All in all, things were finally looking up for Naruto. Until his final chance at graduating...
"So which path do you want to take Naruto?" asked Iruka, treating the boy to some ramen for passing a test.
"I dunno. I mean I wouldn't mind becoming a Ranger with Shifter at my side, but I still want to become Hokage and that means bein' a Trainer."
"You do realize that Trainers are allowed to shift careers if their personality doesn't mix with their chosen path right?"
"Yeah, but no one ever said that the same was for Rangers or Breeders..."
"I hate to say this, but you don't look like a breeder to me," said Iruka.
"Yeah, Hana-nee-chan said the same when I talked about the choice with Kiba. Something about my problems with certain types of animals getting in the way."
Iruka silently applauded her sense of tact. She had carefully avoided the fact that he had the fox inside of him!
"Why don't you try being a trainer for a few years and then try the ranger to see what suits you best?" asked Iruka.
"That's the thing. I feel like both of them would suit me, but rangers can only have one partner."
"Yes, but with their stylers they are allowed to befriend Pokémon to help them. The only difference is that the Pokémon are released back in the wild once the mission is done."
While the idea did appeal to Naruto, the fact was that he had no idea what he wanted to be.
"You do know that trainer is a standard ninja career for most and that it is usually a stepping stone to the others. Even breeders fight every once in a while, while rangers use the skills they gained as trainers to help when it comes to using Pokémon assists. Trainers tend to pick up on type advantages and that usually sticks with you for years."
"So I can be a trainer and eventually become a ranger!" said Naruto.
"I know for a fact that some of the Inuzuka have offered to let you pick another Pokémon from their catalog. Apparently you made quite an impression on them, because they rarely allow a genin to have one of their nin-Pokémon before they have enough cash or missions built up," said Iruka.
The Inuzuka clan was infamous for its specialty in canine type Pokémon. It was part of the reason why the care for Shifter was so thorough. More than one nasty cold had been averted because of Hana's expertise in that area.
"However, that doesn't mean anything if you can't graduate!" said Iruka firmly.
For reasons unknown, Naruto had failed the last two despite having surpassed the written exam. The biggest problem was that the final exam usually had a jutsu he had great difficulty with...namely the clone.
This time though, Naruto thought he had it down pat. A long discussion/argument with the Hokage had convinced the old man to let him at least try a different variant of the jutsu, and to be sure of impartiality the Hokage would be at the graduation exams too.
It was the best they could make of a bad situation.