…and So It Begins…
Kiyohiko swam back to consciousness, groaning at the realization he had an awful crick in his neck from leaning on the table in his room. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he saw that Masaru, Haruhi and Damiano were still there as well, dressed in their uniforms and fast asleep. His cousin was sprawled out on one side of the table and Damiano was propped up against Haruhi (clad in her usual boys’ uniform), who was propped up against Kiyohiko’s bed, on the other. He looked at the clock and was surprised to find that it was already closing in on nine in the morning. It was Saturday, so he found there to be little problem with that.
We must have studied harder than we thought, Kiyohiko thought to himself. It sucked that we have a test right after the first week, but at least we’ve studied. If we keep this up and do the same thing tomorrow, even Masaru-nii will pass this test with flying colors.
Standing up to stretch, Kiyohiko yawned lethargically and glanced outside the window. It was the beginnings of a perfect day outside; the sun was shining brightly, birds were singing, a gentle breeze floated through the air and rustled the leaves of the branch Reborn was sitting on.
Wait… Reborn was sitting on a tree branch…?
“What in the hell are you doing out there!?” Kiyohiko hissed as he leaned out of his window. Reborn seemed rather unfazed by the teen and stayed where he was, seemingly enjoying the morning breeze.
“It is a good thing you kept your Family members here overnight, Yohi,” Reborn stated. “It is going to be essential that they be here for this.”
“I’ve told you I don’t want them drug into this!” Kiyohiko stated, quite adamant in his stance. “Masaru-nii needs to study every chance he gets, Haruhi-san needs to practice her best for when the scouts come from the Central and Pacific Leagues and Damiano-kun is less cut out for the Mafia life than I am! Do not involve them.”
“…and lose the most promising group of Mafia newcomers in over twenty years? You are obviously not thinking straight, Yohi.” Reborn hopped down into Kiyohiko’s room and jumped up onto the table. Aiming his gun at the ceiling, he fired off a shot that sounded more like a cannon than a pistol round. The three sleeping teens all woke up with a start, startled by the sudden noise. Damiano even made to duck underneath the bed.
“Wake up; it is time for everyone’s Vongola Training,” Reborn said. “You have ten minutes before we have to be out the door and headed towards the park.”
“What’re we gonna do at the park, Reborn-kun?” Haruhi asked while she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
“You shall see. Get your sword Yamamoto; you shall need it.”
“Then maybe I should go get some things from my house…” Damiano started, scrambling to his feet. “I’ll meet you guys at the park!” He rushed out the door and disappeared.
“I’ll meet up with you there too!” Haruhi said. “If I gotta get my sword, I need to change clothes.”
“See you there then!” Masaru chuckled, turning down the hallway towards his room. Before long, it was only Kiyohiko and Reborn in the room.
“This weekend’s gonna suck,” the young Vongola muttered as he hit his head against his chest of drawers.
Dressed in their casual clothes and awaiting instruction, the four teens sat on a park bench while waiting for Reborn to join them. Haruhi twirled her bokken absentmindedly, while Damiano clutched a knapsack close to his chest. The cousins were on opposite emotional spectrums as well with Masaru happily inspecting his MMA gloves and Kiyohiko sourly slumped into the bench. The four could not have looked more different if they had tried.
“I wonder when Reborn-kun’s gonna get here,” Haruhi wondered aloud. “It’s been much longer than ten minutes.”
“I wish he’d just go away,” Kiyohiko grumbled. “It’s not right that you guys have to do this stuff too.”
“We’re your friends though Yohi-kun!” Haruhi grinned. “It’s not like we would let you go off and be all by yourself. Winning the game takes teamwork and practice!”
“This isn’t a game Haruhi-san,” Kiyohiko replied, rather cross.
“Heh; you can’t fool me,” the girl said, standing up and pointing the tip of her bokken playfully at Kiyohiko. “What kind of a Mafia would need swordsmen, employ infants and be run by someone of the entirely wrong nationality? You seem to underestimate my woman’s intuition.”
“You seem to underestimate everything around you, Yamamoto Haruhi,” Reborn said, suddenly appearing on the park bench where the girl had formerly been sitting. Damiano and Masaru both jumped, as neither of them saw the hitman-tutor sit down between them.
“So what kind of a game are we going to be playing today, Reborn-kun?” Haruhi asked. Reborn grinned… or at least let off an air of a grin.
“First, a history lesson for you four,” he said.
“Aw, history sucks,” Masaru groaned. Haruhi bopped the boy on the head with the bokken and they all listened.
“The Vongola Family is a powerful Mafia family dating back to the formation of the Mafia. Out of them all, the Vongola have some of the most influence, monetary value, foreign reach and respect out of all the Mafia families in the world.
“The first Vongola, Primo, was a wise and kind man who brought many different people together. Once the Primo retired, he moved away from Italy and set up a family here in Japan after handing over the Family to his younger cousin, the Secondo. Yohi is from that line and it is his duty to take up the title of Vongola Undicesimo.
“I am here under orders from Vongola Dicesimo, Yohi’s father, to train Yohi to become a good boss. I have a secondary objective to assist him in collecting members for his future Family, as they shall become essential to his very survival.”
“Uh-huh, yeah; like you have experience training future Mafia bosses,” Kiyohiko frowned.
“I have trained future bosses in the past for not only the Vongola, but the Chiavorone and Tomaso as well. They are just a few of my prior clientele,” Reborn said with an important air about him.
“Chiavorone… that’s Andrea-nii and Rosario-nee’s family name!” Haruhi said excitedly. “You mean you trained Andrea-nii before coming here?”
“Andrea, as well as his father Dino and Yohi’s father Tsuna. I have many great bosses under my belt.”
“Oh…? I bet you had a lot of failures too, didn’t you?” Kiyohiko scowled, clearly unimpressed with what he believed to be a lie.
“The failures never lived long enough to do their families any harm,” Reborn replied cheerily, pointing his pistol at Kiyohiko. The teen cocked an eyebrow at the pistol, only to jump back when it slithered up Reborn’s arm and turned into a lizard.
“This is Leon the Chameleon,” Reborn explained, hopping down from the bench. “He is very important to me and shall become very important to you all within the coming months. Use my training well and before long, your four shall become a force to be reckoned with.”
“Arcobaleno, just who are you trying to fool here?” Damiano asked in rapid English—too quick for anyone else but Reborn to understand. The others stared at Damiano, who had been so silent the entire time that they nearly forgot he was there. “You’re making this all sound like this is too easy. Don’t think we’re that dull.”
“You are only as good as your education allows you to be,” Reborn replied calmly.
“Do you really expect us to believe that we will become an elite fighting force within the span of only a few months? If so, that is really what you are letting on!”
“Woah, where’s this anger coming from Damiano-kun?” Haruhi asked. The half-Japanese boy realized his company and froze up.
“I’m… erm… just concerned about the standards Reborn has set for us,” he replied, immediately adverting his eyes from the others. Damiano was reluctant to go on farther, but a group stare from his friends egged him on. “I do not doubt the abilities of Don Yohi or any of us by any means, but I have seen how Reborn has trained others and the people he can compare us to. You’ve missed out on an awful lot by staying locked up in the Vongola Compound and hiding here in Japan, Don Yohi.”
“If you’re talking about Foschia, then I think Haruhi and I’ve got you covered,” Masaru laughed. “I doubt she’s extreme enough to take the results of my training and walk away unscathed!”
“You don’t know Sorella like I do,” Damiano frowned, clutching his knapsack tighter. “She joined the Varia when we were thirteen… I don’t think that’s human.”
“Dude…” Masaru said, slapping Damiano on the shoulder, “it’s Foschia. I extremely doubt she’s ever been normal.”
“You’re one to talk,” Haruhi and Kiyohiko responded in unison. Masaru let the retort slide off him and turned to Reborn instead.
“So, why’d you have us bring our weapons down to the park, Reborn?”
“That is a very good question Masaru. Come with me,” Reborn said. He walked over to a large stretch of grass and lined the teens up in a row.
“Today is going to be a test to see what you already know,” the infant declared. “There is no failing in this round, so make it count. I want you to all demonstrate your fighting abilities to me one by one before we take this any further. Being the children of Mafia, there must be something for me to work with. Masaru, you are up first.”
Masaru stepped forward and took a deep breath. Without warning, he burst into a flurry of quick attacks, pretending he was in a bout with an invisible opponent. By the time he crouched down into a finishing pose modeled after all the martial arts manga he had read, Masaru was breathing heavily and his hands were glowing a soft yellow. He stared at his hands in wonder.
“I see you have already been able to bring out the Dying Will Flame in a sense,” Reborn noted.
“You mean like that stuff Dad and Tsuna-oji use?” Masaru asked.
“The very same,” the infant assured.
“How extreme!” Masaru cheered, watching the light from his palms fade back to nothingness. He went back to his place in line, while Haruhi stepped up to take his place.
“It’s a pretty good thing I’ve been practicing then, isn’t it?” she asked with a grin. Without giving Reborn any time to respond, she demonstrated four of the forms of Shigure Souen Ryu.
“Do not be too cocky Haruhi; it is unbecoming,” Reborn warned. “You have not had proper training in the sword. How long ago did you first receive the bokken?”
“That time when we went up to Namimori shrine and Masaru-kun and I sparred,” Haruhi said. “I remembered watching my dad and jii-chan spar one time when I was little and those were some of the poses I saw.”
“Fine then. Damiano, I would like to see you now.”
Haruhi went back in line and Damiano stepped forward. He knelt down on the grass and emptied his knapsack. All sorts of different bombs, knives and other small, sharp objects poured out. The largest piece, however, was a boomerang that had sharpened edges.
“So then, trying to combine the Sesto and the Storm?” Reborn asked. Damiano tried to ignore the child and instead busied himself with putting together his weaponry. Once he was ready, Damiano threw the boomerang followed by a few miniature explosives. A tree about a hundred metres away began to fall down and exploded into flames upon hitting the ground.
Needless to say, Masaru was pleased.
“Wow! That’s a pretty extreme way to use a boomerang!” he cheered, patting Damiano on the back as soon as the younger boy caught his returning weapon. Damiano looked back at Kiyohiko and Haruhi, who were both still staring at the burning tree.
“Did you like it Don Yohi?”
“How about you Signorina Haruhi?”
“Dude… that was wicked,” Haruhi gaped, looking as if she had just seen an epic chase scene in an action movie. Damiano blushed wildly at her reply.
“Now you Yohi,” Reborn said, wanting to move things along. “Show me what you can do.”
“Nothing,” Kiyohiko stated, folding his arms in defiance. “I’ve never trained myself to use anything dangerous and I refuse to now.”
“Oh, come on Yohi-kun,” Haruhi whined. “You have to pick some sort of weapon to play the game! This kind of RPG doesn’t need mages, so I doubt you could learn magic.”
“Magic?” Kiyohiko said flatly. “Haruhi-san, think about what you’re saying.”
“Oh, wait… that’s right! Chrome-san has those Misty illusions... I almost forgot! Do you want to learn some of those Misty illusions from Chrome-san and become our cleric?”
“No Haruhi-san, I don’t want to become the group cleric,” Kiyohiko deadpanned. “In fact, I want us all to not participate in this whatsoever and keep on going like normal kids.”
“I am afraid that is not possible,” Reborn said. “You have to be able to do something.”
“Fine,” Kiyohiko groaned. He shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out a pen and pad of paper. He scribbled something on the paper and held it out towards his unwanted tutor.
“…and what is that?” Reborn asked.
“My level sixteen Translation ability; I usually keep a pen and some paper on me to add plus two to my skills at a moment’s notice. I’m less of an Action Man than you want me to be.”
“Your nerd’s showing Little Cousin,” Masaru said. Kiyohiko frowned and glared at his cousin.
“Well, that is what I do best.”
“Do not make me shoot you Yohi,” Reborn threatened. “Now, what can you do?”
Kiyohiko groaned and put his pen and paper away. He crouched down into a fake martial arts stance that he saw on an anime once. Masaru fell to the ground laughing, while Haruhi and Damiano attempted to contain their laughter.
“Is that all you have?” Reborn asked. Kiyohiko frowned.
“I told you, I haven’t exactly studied anything that could be useful in a fight. I don’t like fighting or blood or how for some weapons you have to feel your opponent’s demise and hear their last breath. It’s all barbaric and nothing good comes of it.”
“Hm…” Reborn pondered. The infant began to pace, muttering incoherently to himself. The four teenagers took a few paces back and converged amongst themselves.
“What do you think he’s planning?” Haruhi asked.
“Oh, I know just what he’s planning: to put us all in danger! I won’t have any of it!” Kiyohiko snapped.
“Jeez Little Cousin, you sure have been extremely moody lately,” Masaru noted.
“I think Don Yohi just understands the severity of this situation,” Damiano said. “Our position is not good compared to what is expected of us.”
“Leveling against the odds is pretty common in RPGs like this,” Haruhi commented. “Let’s go ahead and let Reborn-kun act like our Obi-Wan; it can’t hurt us any and it’s not like we have any monstrous level-seventies breathing down our backs.”
“…and you said I was a nerd,” Kiyohiko deadpanned at his cousin.
“Signorina Haruhi! This is something really dangerous and you could get hurt!” Haruhi was about to respond, but was cut off by the sudden appearance of Reborn on Kiyohiko’s shoulder.
“I have made my assessment,” Reborn said.
“Oh? What have you concluded then?” Kiyohiko asked sarcastically.
“Masaru is a lucky idiot, Haruhi is too cocky, Damiano is too slow and emotionally unwilling and Yohi… you are just a spoiled brat. I want you all to run around Namimori five times as penance.”
The teens stood there, struck speechless. They stared at the infant, who casually blinked back. Things continued to stay silent until Leon slithered down from Reborn’s hat and materialized into a gun.
That was when they all broke out into a hurried run.