Katekyō Hitman REB0RN!: The Next Generation

Joel's Vacation Home

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a part of Katekyō Hitman REB0RN!: The Next Generation, by Lloyd999.

Super-secret training base of the Vongola Eleventh

Lloyd999 holds sovereignty over Joel's Vacation Home, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

http://reborn.wikia.com/wiki/reborn_wiki

Setting

Joel's home out in the countryside of Japan, outside of Namimori. The Vongola Guardians have decided to stay here temporarily to train themselves for battle in preparation of fighting the Rizzo again, with some suspicion of the Rizzo tracking them already.
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Joel's Vacation Home

Super-secret training base of the Vongola Eleventh

Minimap

Joel's Vacation Home is a part of Japan.

5 Characters Here

Cain Vongola [8] "Oh yeah, let's roll."
Joel Lambe [8] "Should you ever need me, I'll be by you faster than lightning can strike."
Fredrick Dill Koenig [8] "If violence is the only way to obtain peace, why won't you hit me?"
Murasaki Eri [8] " If I were you... I'd really, really choose not to fight me."
Shaji Ai [8] "I may have a bug, but I cannot identify it,"

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As Ai entered, she bowed customarily to both Joel and Cain. Mannerisms and customs meant nearly nothing to Ai, having nearly no such things among her own kind (except for when she gave herself a name and when she expressed gratitude toward others as she found that bettered the thought process of the other party) yet they were very common among humans, especially among the Japanese and among the Mafia. Nobody ever told her why customs and manners were important, but she found that she could more easily gain the cooperation of another by preforming them as opposed to ignoring them. She was still learning all of them and she recently began to realize that different mannerisms where used in different places. A foreign man's form of greeting, such as people who'd arrived at the event a week ago, used the handshake method, while the Japanese bowed to each other. Indeed, manners and customs were trivial, yet Ai was willing to do anything to make her appear more trustworthy or more human.

Of course, because she was still learning them, she didn't remember to leave her shoes at the entrance. Ai rarely has been in other people's homes before, mainly staying at the Vongola headquarters in Japan (or before then, in Italy) so she uncommonly was in a situation where she'd have to take her shoes off.

Sitting on the couch adjacent to Cain and Joel, Ai was glancing around the room. "Hey Shaji," Cain spoke up, "I'd stand up to hug you, but you know, I have this strange leg feeling. Almost like I have a cast on it. Hehehe." Ai was about to say something along the lines of 'I wouldn't recommend you doing so' and get into a long and needlessly complicated monologue about why he shouldn't have for his own good, but Cain continued speaking.

"So who dropped you off huh? Your folks? Actually now that you mention it, I never met your folks before. I bet they're nice people." Ai was about to tell him that it was a CEDEF agent that dropped her off. "Oh. Did you know that this area has a nice lake. You should of brought a......Swimming suit?" Ai was about to tell him she had no intention of doing so. "So I see you like to travel light huh? Well that's cool 'cuz you know what they say........ Yup. I know you know, so I don't gotta tell you." Ai did not know. She deemed it unimportant, however.

Ai merely stared at the boy, the Boss. This was likely the longest conversation she'd had with him so far and she wasn't the one doing all the talking. In fact, it seemed to be a meaningless conversation. Humans tended to engage in that sort of conversation upon meeting each other, DiCaccio did it quite often with others. Cain had no use for the information that her family or somebody else dropped her off at the place. Ai would have rather been talking about backup plans in case the Rizzo found them or about the suspicion that they were trying to access their networks, yet the Boss seemed to think meaningless information was of higher priority.

Ai sat in silence until Eri and Fredrick arrived. She continued to stare between Joel and Cain, but her third eye darted all over the room. She almost always kept it hidden using her illusionry ability, and the car ride over was no exception, but it was here that she should have been allowed to keep it exposed. After all, she was among friends whom were about to learn about it anyway. Once Fred and Eri arrived, they were greeted by both Cain and Joel, but Ai merely stared at them. "Where's Keiko? Is she coming?" 'And Nami' Ai added in her mind. She then remembered to mention something. "The Storm Guardian wont be arriving today. She is busy. She did receive a temporary replacement ring." Then, Ai remembered about the two things she did bring with her. As if by magic, she presented her fist and opened it, revealing silver rings in her hand with a large gemstone on each of them, being orange and blue colored respectively. "I had brought these rings with me for the Boss and the Rain Guardian. They are B-Rank rings capable of producing deathperation flames. Both are some of the most expensive rings in the world, but they do not compare to the Vongola rings in worth nor power. They shall serve as temporary replacements until we retrieve the Vongola rings we had lost to the Rizzo. They will be key for your training. I cannot assure that others are prepared for if we lose any more rings, but the Boss should be able to order them ready anyway, should it come to that."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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Murasaki Eri


"Come in," was the reply. Eri opened the door, removing her purple sneakers, lifting them with her free hand and walking in.

"Excuse me for intruding." she bowed, yet again with her unchanging, traditional mindset to greet upon entering a house. She placed the sneakers where she thought would least obstruct the way and remained in her black knee high socks. She entered the mansion and looked around with her cold, blue eyes, observing what she could before looking at the occupants.

The owner of the mansion, Lightning Guardian Joel Lambe. The Boss, Sky Guardian Cain Vongola. The Mist Guardian, Shaji Ai.

"That makes five of us right now." she noted.

"Fred!!! What's up man. Come on, give me five. I'd like to get up myself, but you know. My leg is kinda..."

Eri shook her head a little with a brief smile on her face. She could understand where all this talking was coming from. After all, the Boss was probably holed up all the time inside a room or something similar, without any way to release the amount of energy he had pent up inside. Her eyes settled on the leg that broke, remembering the time when it was bent at an impossible angle. She looked up at Cain again. Surely he remembered as well? Maybe he was acting cheery to forget about it? She shook her head internally, no, that couldn't be. Cain wasn't exactly the type to dwell in the past anyway.

"Cain!!!" Joel interrupted, his voice carried a level of assertiveness with it at which Eri narrowed her eyes at, though she let it slide. He turned to face Eri, "Where's Keiko? Is she coming?"

Before she could answer, Shaji had spoken. "The Storm Guardian wont be arriving today. She is busy. She did receive a temporary replacement ring." She presented her fist and opened it, revealing silver rings in her hand with a large gemstone on each of them, being orange and blue colored respectively. "I had brought these rings with me for the Boss and the Rain Guardian. They are B-Rank rings capable of producing deathperation flames. Both are some of the most expensive rings in the world, but they do not compare to the Vongola rings in worth nor power. They shall serve as temporary replacements until we retrieve the Vongola rings we had lost to the Rizzo. They will be key for your training. I cannot assure that others are prepared for if we lose any more rings, but the Boss should be able to order them ready anyway, should it come to that."

"That's good to know we have someone here we can trust to help, Shaji." Eri gave the pink-haired enigma a smile, glad to know someone was already preparing all these for the Vongola. She turned back to Joel, a frown on her face as if she was trying hard not to remember something unpleasant.

"Miyamoto Keiko did not accompany me here today, however, she had stated that she will be arriving as soon as she can after she had completed a 'series of tasks', as she put it." Eri started, almost as if reporting for duty, traces of professionalism evident in her voice. She raised up the hand that she held several voice recorders in, each labelled with the names of the Vongola Guardians, except for her and Keiko. "I can confirm that she will be arriving, but I do not know when. Miyamoto has also handed me these to pass onto each of you."

She walked over to each of the present Vongola Guardians and handed the voice recorders to each of them. "I have not played them, but Miyamoto said that they are personal messages she has for each of you."

"Joel. It's Keiko. I know, I know. Ya're probably upset with dah way I handled myself during dah incident. Hell, I was even 'bout tah kill someone from dah Vongola." A short pause. You could just sense a conflict of emotions emanating, even if the proud, spunky Sun Guardian wasn't around. "I won't make excuses fer mah behavior. But I will make amends and this is dah first step. Go easy on dah Boss, Speedy. Guide 'im."

"Boss, Champ speakin'. Boss, yer an amazin' person and don't matter what happened, ya're still dah Boss. Vongola needja. Ya're still growin' and yer potential ain't reached yet, so don't stop there. After all, dah Sky encompasses everythin'. But Boss... I still ain't handin' over dah title of Champion over tah ya. I have a gift fer ya."

"Shaji. I'm sure ya've come up with something tah benefit dah famiglia in some way. I guess that's how I've always viewed ya. So Shaji, whatcha done? Do ya have information dat helps us?"

"Fredrick, you cub. I have something for you."


"Well, that's that." Eri said, walking backwards, with the last recorder that was definitely meant for Nami.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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"What do you mean Shaji?" Shaji turned toward Joel after giving Cain and Fred their rings. She looked around at all of them, seeing that she received their attention. Perhaps it was because they all knew so little about Ai and wanted to know more, or maybe it was just plain unusual claim of being anything other than human. Ai began to explain.

"I am a bio-mechanically engineered probe of extra-terrestrial designed to interact with humans in order to complete specific tasks as ordered by my superiors. I am what you would consider an Alien. I have existed in this timeline for more than fourteen Earth years, yet my origins exist in the far future, long after the destruction of this planet. My mission is to work with the Vongola in order to make sure your kind defeats mine in the future, something only a select few members of the Vongola are aware of, including the External Advisor and the Vongola Decimo, your father, Boss," Ai glanced at Cain, "Up until his unfortunate death."

"Using my ability to alter the human perception of reality, I have continued to be able to hide my identity from humans," as she said that, odd ornaments shimmered into view on Ai, long pink cords that stuck out from both seen and unseen spots on her clothing, marked by yellow hearts, such as on the end of her headband and on the wrists of her wide sleeves. They surrounded her like the laces of shoes and tangled together in intricate little patterns around her chest like laces, and all connected to a single red sphere, where a large eye stared out. "Yet here, among the rest of you, I should be able to freely express it for I trust you all as the current guardians of the Vongola rings, and as the guardians, it is essential that we keep them from the Rizzo. Much more than the Vongola is at stake and it is both part of my mission and my duty as a guardian to make sure the rings don't end up in the Rizzo's possession, and I shall use this body to the best of my ability to do so."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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"Shaji?! Are you okay?!" The Rain Guardian, Fredrick, was the first to react. He seemed the most alarmed out of all of them about her rather unorthodox (and grotesque, though Ai didn't consider it that way) appearance, though the reactions from the others didn't seem much less surprised. Yet before then, many of them seemed somewhat uninterested or confused in what she was saying. They must had not believed her up until that point. Maybe they could reason that she was merely making up all the chords and the strange eye as part of some illusion, with her claiming that she was an Alien a way to strengthen the deception. After all, she was an illusionist and illusionists by definition were liars, people who miscommunicated data to the senses of others. There had to have been another way for her to prove her Alien nature.

"I am fine," she told Fredrick, but she wasn't entirely sure how he could have assumed she was exhibiting any sort of discomfort from sitting or by mere existence, "If you are concerned for my well-being or are misunderstanding the nature of my existence, then you may ask me any sort of question you wish. I do not have the capability to feel offended like a human may." Ai didn't exactly understand why questions about a single person or the nature of their existence would offend them, but she has accidentally done so before. "Unlike your kind, whom existed with physical forms more developed than their mental ones, my kind are thought-based creatures, but you would not be able to comprehend in what form we truly exist in from my words alone. Your language was based upon the physical world and such a language has more words to describe physical aspects than mental ones. My kind, of which is far more advanced in thought than in body, has no need for verbal language and can communicate in a way incomprehensible to your kind. My Frame was created for the specific purpose of being able to communicate with your kind."

"My kind, of which was far more advanced in mind than it was in body, could not clearly communicate with yours, until my Frame was created, a Frame that could exist equally in mind as we did and equally in body as yours does. That is to say I am the greatest of both beings, being of an Alien mind and a Human body. Even so, existing of both body and mind means I am vulnerable to both physical and mental attacks. Therefore, I am cautious when dealing with this body, especially considering it was Decimo's wish that I protect it until my mission is complete."

"In fact, the reason the Storm Guardian was able to awaken from her comatose state was due to my abilities to deal with the human mind, such as my own. She would confirm this as true. No human has such control over the absolute entire functioning of the human mind as I do. Once I was allowed, I was able to control her as easily as being able to control myself and I have the ability to control myself much further than a human is capable of naturally. I can activate and deactivate parts of my body at will and I can control all my internal systems to sustain a perfect chemical balance to avoid decay. I even have the ability to control the normal safeguards of the human body. This type of control of the human body is only accomplishable by humans with the Vongola's Dying Will Bullet. That is to say I was designed with a constant dying will, which makes my drive toward completing my goal unquestionable and I am sure to put my best effort into doing so."

"If there is anything else I must say or do to prove my existence as an Alien, you may request such of me and I will do what is reasonable possible to prove so. Likewise, if you are curious about any other part of me, feel free to ask and I will answer as much as I will allow myself to."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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Murasaki Eri


"I am not an ordinary human being," Shaji announced suddenly and this garnered several responses from the others, with Eri mentally cursing in her mind for losing the bet she had with Keiko.

As Shaji explained her situation, that she was an extra-terrestrial probe, bio-engineered mechanically to interact with them, with humans. Superiors? Now that, she was curious about. These superiors, were they here to assist them? Shaji has been a valuable member of the famiglia... but even then, there were always double agents. Although the Vongola had always consisted of a tight-knit group that were strongly connected, bonds beyond blood. Eri continued to listen without a word as Shaji explained her role in Nami's recovery. Her icy-blue eyes also kept constant watch over the eye and cords around Shaji, remembering what Keiko always said.

'If you knew so much... how come you never bothered questioning her? Did you really trust her that much?' Eri mentally questioned herself, wondering why Keiko would've been so quiet about this.

When Shaji was done, Eri decided to speak. "This doesn't come as a surprise to me, because Keiko always told me that you weren't an ordinary human being to begin with. She would tell me that she always sensed something off about you, that you smelled or felt different, or that she would always see things around you out the corner of her eye but she could never really determine what it was."

"Oddly yet, Keiko trusted you enough to let this issue slide. She really trusts each and everyone of you." Eri's blue eyes stared straight at the eye Shaji had. "But I'm different. I won't simply trust anyone."

"That is why my question to you is. Why have you hidden this from us for such a long time? Who are you superiors? Why have you been helping us? What benefit does it give you? What are you really here for? Are your superiors and you our allies? Or are you our foes?" Her gaze never wavered as she scrutinized the... being, the alien, before her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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It was the Cloud Guardian's turn to speak up. "This doesn't come as a surprise to me, because Keiko always told me that you weren't an ordinary human being to begin with." Ai turned her gaze upon her, as she described how the Sun Guardian could, in some unreasonable way, tell that she wasn't truly human. Now, Ai usually made the assumption that most rational people wouldn't merely guess an inhuman person was an Alien immediately, unless they had some sort of visual proof. Ai wouldn't have realized if the Sun Guardian had come to this conclusion. Maybe Ai would have to redetermine her rationality.

"Oddly yet, Keiko trusted you enough to let this issue slide. She really trusts each and everyone of you." Ai had nearly expected no less of a fellow Guardian. The more cooperative people were with her, the better. "But I'm different. I won't simply trust anyone." Ai didn't create any sort of troubled look on her face, merely that same expressionless, almost uninterested gaze. Even the rather large eye of which was truly a part of Ai rarely made any sort of sudden movement. At the very most, it might have blinked. The Cloud Guardian than began bombarding her with a fury of questions.

"That is why my question to you is. Why have you hidden this from us for such a long time? Who are you superiors? Why have you been helping us? What benefit does it give you? What are you really here for? Are your superiors and you our allies? Or are you our foes?"

"I observe, as I always have, that you are very insightful, Guardian of Cloud," Ai began, "I have only hidden this information as I was instructed to keep my identity as secretive as possible, so only the people whom needed to know of my identity to be able to assist me have been notified. Because the Vongola have been helpful in assisting me of my duty, I needed only those whom had complete or great influence over the Vongola's actions to cooperate with me. I had determined that the Vongola was the best possible force that could assist me, due to their current successful business standpoint, their influential nature over many powerful parties such as the mafia and their known past incidents, such as when the Tenth generation had saved humankind from a single man and a powerful organization aiming to use the power of the Tri-ni-set to gain omnipotent abilities. The Tenth has been willing to cooperate with me for the sake of humankind through an agreement and the External Advisor has been just as effective in his place. Now that the Eleventh Boss is coming into power, as long as he can reclaim ownership of his ring, he will have the complete influence over the Vongola that the External Advisor will lose, so it is essential for myself to gain his cooperation and it is a requirement for me to reveal my identity to him. As for the rest of the Guardians, I felt it was necessary for you all to understand my capabilities so you may factor them into any future planning, as we are dealing with opponents whom, for the most part, are much more powerful, experienced and knowledgeable than us, and may possibly have stronger wills."

"Concerning my superiors, I am referring to my creators, but I may also extend this term toward my Boss, the Eleventh. My superiors have created me for the explicit purpose of changing the course of history in the favor of humans. In my time of creation, our kind is the most successful kind in the universe, and the only one. We have wiped out all other forms of life and advanced ourselves in unfathomable ways. We have conquered every single corner of the universe and we have learned absolutely everything about it. Nothing is unknown to us, and we live in perfect harmony. That is to say, we live in perfection." Ai caught herself, though it was only visible in her mouth. She did not want the Vongola having positive thoughts that went against her goal. "Yet, I am unsure if humans could truly understand it as neither could my kind before we reached this state, but we found ourselves unsatisfied. Our kind does not share the creativity and fickle nature of your own, and having nothing left to do, we had realized that our perfect universe was the most unbearable. Even I didn't realize it until my birth. So, I was created to be sent back in time to find a way to influence history so that my kind becomes unsuccessful in advancing, and the only event that would allow me that opportunity is the war between mine and your own that begins decades from now and will last for decades. It is my mission to make sure humanity wins that war, as it has been decided that your deviant, creative minds and self-destructive nature would allow for a future much less perfect, but successful. I would assume every human being would be concerned for the fate of humankind."

"Using an advanced telepathy-based communication and cache system which I refer in human vocal language as the 'Thought Integration Database' or the 'TID' in abbreviated form, I am able to communicate with my superiors even across time, and I can use the TID to collect any sort of information that has ever been, or will be collected, by my kind. Beyond that, however, I cannot rely on my superiors for any assistance. My superiors were merely an inferior opinion among the great collective thought that created myself in secret. I certain that there exists a future where their actions have been found out and the greater opinion, of which does not wish for self-destruction, seeks to destroy me. They may send probes similar to me, or other Frames, to destroy me, but because I am a Constant, they can never truly stop me. Most of these probes are much weaker and more underdeveloped than I and I am able to destroy them without much trouble. For the most part, no human will be able to even be aware they ever existed. They will only be seeking to destroy me, so this is of no concern to anybody else besides me, as if their existence is witnessed by another being, they may gain more power than usual. For now, I believe my kind of which exists of this time is not aware of my actions and does not yet hold any ill-will against your kind, but for now we must simply deny their existence. I believe your kind has denied my kinds existence many times in the past, despite clear proof of it. If you are concerned about which of us are your allies, then consider that I am the only Alien creature that is loyal to you and any others that appear should be considered enemies."

"Concerning your concern for my motives, I have not fabricated any truths. I may have, as of yet, few ways I can prove what I say is true or not, but I will have to rely on you, all of you, to trust me. I wish there was more I could do to gain your trust, but for now, I can only remain loyal to the Boss and tell you whatever I am capable of telling you. I, personally as a singular entity, gain no benefit for any of my actions. I merely was created to preform a certain task and to remain loyal to any of my superiors, so as a tool, I shall complete such tasks with the greatest of my ability. Once my mission is complete, my life serves no purpose unless any of my superiors have a new order for me, yet if I am successful, my creators will not be able to give me new orders and the Eleventh, my Boss, shall be my only superior left, whom of which I will serve until his inevitable death. Therefore, as part of my agreement to the Vongola Tenth, I am to terminate myself upon completing my mission, which I shall honor in full, unless my Boss wishes to terminate me himself."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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#, as written by Damioa
Joel didn't bother to pay much attention to the boy after he asked his question. Whether he was ready or not, the fact remained that he was in the mans care. He'd have better luck trying to run away from a bullet shot from point blank range than Joels villa. The man just sighed and left for the bottom floor, heading towards the outdoor padeo. Once out there, he meditated for the rest of the night, also trying to push himself somehow as well. Though he didn't get any sleep the night before, he still seemed to maintain the same level of energy. He woke everyone and had them eat, though he didn't cook any food. Cain helped himself to making a sandwich from the items Joel carried in his fridge. Once he was sure everyone was done he brought his presence back.

"Dang Joel. It's like, eight a.m." Cain yawned.

Joel's eyes showed he wasn't amused. "Your point. Listen," he continued on, ignoring the boy. "Since it's the morning now, we can get down to business with a full day of training. So, to start it off, I want Cain and Fred to find a box that I've hidden in the woods. I'm not sure which direction its in, so you'll have to use your senses to find it."

"What about my leg? I can't walk like this."

"I don't know. You and Fred can figure something out. If you don't find the box, I wont let you in the house tonight." Joel's face, although branded with a smile, showed he wasn't playing around. "Believe me, once you find the box, you'll feel better about yourselves." His tone was confident, though it mad it seem like the box had a secret to it of some kind, even though he knew otherwise.

Turning towards the girls, he pointed to a small shack area next to the house. "Okay ladies. Today is gonna be more proactive you, since you get to do two things today instead of one. First things first. Go inside the building and meditate. I don't care what you think about or how you prefer to meditate, but make sure you really get into it. Don't talk and make as little sound as possible. Make it so quiet that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts. At about noon, I'll let you know the second thing I have planned."

Since the girls were the smartest of his trainees, he determined using there minds in a fight would be greatly rewarding in a battle. Not only that, but one of them was an illusionist. He really wanted to test her capabilities, but first meditation was in order. It was always good to warm up.

Joel turned back towards Cain and Fredrick, snapping his fingers causing a long spear to appear with lightning coursing around it. "Take this. You can use it as a cane and it'll allow me to travel to you immediately if things get too rough for you two. Though, don't think I'll come help you just for any little thing.

"Oh cool thanks Joel. I always wanted a weapon like this," Cain said poking the spear into the ground and leaning on it. "So I suppose we should go right then ey Fred. East is that way. Though West would be best. Damn, I can't believe that we have to search for a box without a mad or GPS. Hehe."

Joel looked at the two boys, but soon left to do some of his own morning training. After he was done his part, the "warmup" would be over and the real exercise would start.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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Fredrick wasn't sure how to respond to Joel's words, so he didn't, electing instead to stare, though not at Joel of course. He turned to stare out the window. Was he ready for whatever came next? Probably not. But it wasn't like he had a choice in the matter.

The next day, Fredrick was already awake when Joel came to rouse him and vhis roommate, though of course Cain was in a deep restful sleep. It wasn't his snoring—a sound soft enough not to leave the room but loud enough to annoy—that had kept Fredrick awake for most of the night, as he was used to it by now. This wasn't his first sleepover with the gang. What had kept Fredrick up were his own musings, and Joel's words from the other day.

Maybe. Maybe he'd get his ring back. It depended on him. His strength. Who he was as a person.

He kept getting stuck at that last point: who he was as a person. Who was he? It was a simple question, right?

Who are you?

And yet, each time he broached the question, he drew a blank.

Was he a Vongola? A gangster? Perhaps in name alone, but without his ring, he wasn't much of a Vongola. The "replacement" ring that Shaji the so-called alien—something he wasn't as quick as the others to buy into—had given him felt like a cheap mass-produced knockoff on his finger. Even the flames that emanated from the ring were highly impure and dull compared to the awesome output he could muster from the Vongola version. It was the ring that made him a guardian, right? Then, without it, he wasn't a guardian. He wasn't a real Vongola. He was just pretending.

Was he a pacifist? Again, perhaps in name alone. It was a contradiction he'd been averting his eyes from ever since Cain convinced him to join, and now it was staring him straight in the face. He would never be able to fight the Vongola's enemies, even if he did have his ring. Despite his staff box weapon, a pacifist is non-violent. A pacifist does not kill, or maim, or hurt, or injure. How, then, can a pacifist be part of a mafia hit squad? That's what the guardians were, right? The boss's personal hit squad. And that's who the Vongola had become—a gang of death dealers. Cain's dad tried and failed to change things, and Cain didn't seem like he'd be able to do much better, if he even wants to. The skirmish with the Rizzo was proof enough that Fredrick would soon have to choose: cling to pacificity and forsake his friends... or kill the Rizzo and betray himself. Even if it wasn't the Rizzo, one day the decision would have to be made. He'd be faced with the lives of his friends on one hand, and his moral convictions in the other... and he'd hesitate. He knew deep down in his being that he would. He'd cringe. Flinch back. Be unable to pull the trigger when it was most necessary. He'd hesitate. And those who were depending on him? They'd get hurt because of it. Or worse.

Was he a good son, then? A worthy friend? Fredrick found himself shaking his head at this one. He was neither. He wasn't smart like his dad or epic like his grandad. His father probably thought he was a joke, and it was true. And in terms of being a worthy friend...

It was the middle of the night when Fredrick looked over to see Cain, one of his best friends on Earth, snoring contently. His face looked so peaceful... it was almost too easy to ignore his shattered leg, compliments of the Vongola enemy-of-the-month. Knowing that someone did that to a person Fredrick loved and adored stirred deep sentiments within the boy. Sentiments that culminated in a furiously confused and abject frustration directed outward towards the world... and harsh bitter anger, one that was directed inward. Was he a worthy friend? Hah. What type of friend would let that happen to another?

If anything, he was a hinderance. Earlier, in the dead of night, Fredrick took one of the knives from atop the chopping block in the kitchen. He was toying with the veritable weapon now, twirling it in his right hand.

Did it really matter who he was? Did he have to care that he was purposeless? Whatever. There was one solution to his problems.

Fredrick brought his exposed left forearm out from under the covers, resting it across his lap. He flexed his hand a bit, making the tendons in his wrist and forearm pop. He remembered from anatomy class that a particularly important artery that ran through the forearm, moving up the wrist and terminating somewhere in the hand: the radial artery. It was that thing all the doctors press on with two fingers to get your pulse.

Despite himself, Fredrick smiled. It wasn't a happy expression, or a sad one, it was just his muscles pulling on his lips and nothing more.

In one fell swoop, he could solve it all. He could spare Serlina the pain of a life under such a pathetic wielder. He could protect Eri and Cain by not being in their lives. He'd never disappoint his father again with his weak demeanor. He wouldn't have to keep pretending to be a Vongola either. His friends would then be forced to find another Rain guardian. A better one. One that was dependable in a fight. One that wouldn't lose his ring. One that wouldn't hesitate when the time finally came to be violent. And he wouldn't have to betray himself. His values. His morals. He wouldn't have to make the choice to hurt anyone ever again.

It was Joel coming in that foiled his actions, causing a panicked Fredrick to nearly stab himself as he scrambled to hide the knife under his blankets. Fortunately, it didn't seem as if Joel had noticed, since he left soon after ensuring that he and Cain were both awake.

After Cain dressed and left the room, Fredrick dared to venture out from under the covers, ripping them off and flinging them aside to reveal the cool steely metal of the knife resting most inconspicuously next to his leg on the bed. The blade glistened like dew in the morning sunlight, and Fredrick saw his on reflection upon its surface. Was this really the answer he'd been seeking? The sound of a door closing spooked the boy, causing him to hide the knife by placing it under his pillow most expeditiously. He then shifted in his bed, moving so that his legs now dangled off the side of the structure, his feet several inches from touching the floor. Reminded him how short he was for his age. Yet another failure, eh?

Oh well.

With a sigh, he hopped off the bed and began dressing himself. Joel had something planned for them, so he might as well prepare as best he could. Light shoes, long-sleeved but loose breathable shirt, and a light-weight white and blue striped hoodie. Fredrick eyed his looks in the mirror before stepping out to join the others. While examining a faint tear in the hoodie on the mirror's pristine surface, his eyes fell upon his bed, and the curiously-ruffled yellow pillow under which he hid the knife. He wondered what Serlina would think of him now. What would she say?

Again, he was drawing a blank, and this infuriated Fredrick. In a rare moment of rage, he kicked the dresser that was standing idly to his side, knocking several of the variegated objects from atop its surface. Again, he kicked it, and again, and again, with as much force as he could muster. The poor dresser began to split under the weight of his kicks, and when he heard the first CRUNCH! of splintering wood, he froze, his leg suspended in mid swing. He looked down at himself as he snapped back to reality, his palms, neck, and forehead now smeared with sweat. Fearing that the others had heard him, he dropped to his hands and knees and began picking up the items that fell from the top of the dresser, replacing them in their proper positions as best he could remember. Tears started welling up in his eyes, but he wiped them away with his sleeves before they fell.

"What the hell is my problem?" He muttered to no one in particular.

That's when he happened across a small black bag about the size of a large book. He'd knocked it off the shelf along with the other objects. It had an oddly curved shape, like the main piece of a fannypack. He skipped replacing it, instead picking up the objects around it and putting them back in their rightful places. It took all of maybe sixty seconds to do. When he was done, Fredrick leaned down so that he sat on his heels, examining the bag in front of him. It was the bag his father had tossed him yesterday when he dropped Fredrick off. He'd almost forgotten about it.

All other thoughts were pushed out of Fredrick's mind, replaced by a fierce curiosity that could only be sated by one thing. Fredrick took up the bag in his hands, appreciating its design. The thing was sleek, smooth as a baby's bottom yet cold, like a slab of porcelain. The bag was flexible enough to resist damage from falls, but hard enough to protect whatever contents lay within. All in all, it was a very high quality case. Fredrick could tell because his father had quite a few cases containing quite a few things, but never in his life had he seen a case as "high-tech" and "futuristic" as this one in his father's possession.

Laterally bisecting the case was a black zipper that stretched from one side to the other, like a large mouth that'd been stitched closed. Even the zipper was high quality. Metal. Sturdy. When he pulled on it, the zipper-head made successive clink sounds, instead of the traditional zip-like noise associated with unzipping something. Whatever was inside, his father had spared no expense in protecting it.

Slowly, Fredrick removed his hand from the zipper-head, placing it instead on the top of the case. As carefully as one would when handling a child, Fredrick opened the bag. The thing revealed its contents like a flower blooming in slow motion. There, inside of the case, was a white index card. Fredrick picked it up, examining it. There was nothing on the back, and a single line written across the middle of its front. Judging by the handwriting, Fredrick could tell it was a message from his father:

You are not alone.

To say Fredrick was confused is an understatement. He was utterly nonplussed. You are not alone? Of course he knew that! Fredrick flipped the card over, examining its backside in the hopes that he'd overlooked something... but no. It was empty. His father had left him a simple message: "you are not alone."

Fredrick knew his father. Not only did the man never act randomly, but every single thing he did had a deep meaning. It was always thought through. Never half-assed.

So what was this?

In his internal machinations, Fredrick almost missed the item nestled snugly at the bottom of the container. Fredrick put the card aside, reaching into the case with his index finger and thumb, bringing the item before his eyes. It was tiny—maybe the size of a nickel, maybe a bit smaller. A perfect circle, with no blemishes or misalignments. It was all black, and reflected its surroundings like the sheen of a high-end sports car.

It was a ring. A slim dark ring. At first, Fredrick took it for a mood ring until he examined it more closely. The material that comprised its surface was in constant motion, pulsating—albeit slowly—as if it were alive. Creepy. The thing seemed ominous, perhaps even evil. The energy that radiated from it was definitely foreign in nature.

Why would his father give this to him? What was it, anyway? Well, obviously it was a ring...

Fredrick eyed it for a bit longer before deciding. Slowly, meticulously, he placed the ring on his middle finger, sliding it down until it was about even with the replacement Rain ring that was currently on his ring finger. He then flexed his hand a bit, eyeing the thing warily. The dark ring fit him perfectly.

Interesting.

The moment he placed the ring on his finger, a subtle low-pitch buzzing rang through the boy's ears, though he didn't think much of it, since the sound was unobtrusive enough to be ignored.

Fredrick made his way downstairs and was greeted by Cain, who'd made himself a sandwich for breakfast. When Fredrick sat down, Cain offered him some, which Fredrick gratefully accepted. He was positively famished. One by one, the others trickled into the room until, finally, Joel made his appearance.

"So, to start it off, I want Cain and Fred to find a box that I've hidden in the woods. I'm not sure which direction its in, so you'll have to use your senses to find it."

"Uh," Fredrick began, but Cain spoke up first.

"What about my leg? I can't walk like this."

Right. Fredrick had an unshakable feeling he'd be offering Cain a piggy-back ride at least once before this was over. After rallying the troops and bestowing upon Cain a neat looking walking stick thingy, Joel disappeared, going off to parts unknown. Fredrick watched him go, and then turned as Cain started speaking.

"So I suppose we should go right then ey Fred. East is that way." Cain nodded with his head in a direction that was most definitely North. "Though West would be best. Damn, I can't believe that we have to search for a box without a map or GPS. Hehe."

For the first time in forty-eight hours, Fredrick chuckled, genuinely amused. Cain was always fun to be around, no matter what was happening. "Yeah," he agreed. "Welp... I guess we should get going. If we split up, we could cover more ground, but..." Fredrick eyed Cain's walking stick, and then looked to his friend, an apologetic look on his face.

The dark ring on Fredrick's finger didn't gleam in the sunlight like his other one did. It was as if a void had somehow wrapped itself around the boy's middle finger. A veritable black hole.

Not even light could escape it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shaji Ai Character Portrait: Murasaki Eri Character Portrait: Fredrick Dill Koenig Character Portrait: Joel Lambe Character Portrait: Cain  Vongola

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Ai's slumber didn't exactly appear like a slumber in the usual sense. She would merely sit, in this case on the bed, and stare off into the distance, merely blinking. Slumber was a time for allowing the body to rest, while the mind did its work, considering the past and contemplating the future. Of course, the body may have been asleep, yet Ai was always alert, and sitting upright allowed her quick movement if she ever needed to wake up suddenly. Of course, Ai didn't put effort into maintaining the illusion of being a regular human being while she was 'sleeping' as sleeping was all about conserving energy as well. Ai didn't need to sleep, but if she were to stay awake all the time, she'd have to deviate from her usual meal cycle to make up for the lost energy.

Of course, Ai was efficient anyway, designed that way in form and mind. In body, however, it needed to be cared for like a disabled child, billions of relatively simple cells that come in all different forms constantly monitored and checked for functionality, health and proper reproduction, making sure none of each cell was producing foreign substances or mutated cells, and this particular body had an unhealthy habit of doing so. The human body's design was burdened for constantly fighting against decay with its hyper-regenerative abilities and as soon as energy stops flowing and that Life Flame of the human combustion engine extinguishes, the body instantly decays. That must have been why Ai's kind had given up their dependence on their bodies and continued to evolve with their minds. They may have become more vulnerable mentally, but physical harm was all but trivial. The body decayed all the time, but the mind lasted seemingly forever.

Did it really, though? Her kind lived for absolutely endless amounts of time, until they either died from some sort of accident or were chosen to die for the sake of mental reformation, yet the last mental reformation hadn't occurred since relatively soon after the ancestors defeated the humans and found no more use for their human bodies and were able to develop a new physical form and mindset which had been preserved for the rest of their entire history, up until Ai's birth. Will be, Ai reminded herself, if she didn't complete her mission. That reformation was thought by most as being their greatest achievement, as the age of true discovery and learning occurred since then, and after a great period of time, where the great steam engine of enlightenment was running on 'full speed ahead', there suddenly came a point, which absolutely nobody would have realized at the time, where the last piece of undiscovered data in the universe was learned, and the steam engine came to a grinding halt. Not one thinking mind could have realized it at the time and even Ai wouldn't have been able to point it out on the TID. Everything in the universe had been learned, yet the mind wasn't satisfied, yet nothing could quench it. Ai obviously wasn't alive at that time, though she felt as if she remembered that time herself, mainly due to how connected she was by mind to other minds. Ai's mind was young, yet she had peered into the minds of those much older than herself, millions, billions, more than trillions of times older, and they're minds were □□□□. They were old minds, and though they were wise, they had been □□□, almost lost in a way. The concepts were difficult to put into human words as the workings of the Alien mind were incomprehensible in human words and even in human thought, but to compare the mind to the body, their minds had decayed. Make no mistake, they worked perfectly fine, but because the minds were so □□□□ it was almost as if they □□□.

Perhaps before Ai had been born, she had been taught absolutely nothing as a sort of mercy, if Aliens could feel such an emotion. Ai had spent uncountable amounts of time contemplating and making sense of a world she could not observe, to the point where she achieved the same goal as that of her kin, to learn absolutely everything, and then, Ai was born and gifted with a body which allowed her to observe the universe. Back then, Ai wouldn't have cursed the body's disadvantages but blessed its ability to sense the world in ways she never would have been able to imagine. Only, the sensation of sensing didn't satisfy her, as everything she could observe was something she had already known, something she guessed in her infantile stage, nothing that was new to her, even though it technically was. She had strived for omniscience all her pre-life and when she was born, there was nothing else, and she too felt □□□□. That was how Ai knew that she had to complete her mission.

After all, she was designed that way.




Ai had 'awoken' once Joel had told her to. Ai would have appeared awake the whole time, but what appeared to just be her moving her head slightly was her jolting herself awake, not that she looked disturbed in any way. She would have just been appearing to have been awake the whole time. When ordered, Ai went into the kitchen.

Yes, Ai ate normal people food. She would look through Joel's kitchen quickly, opening things and closing them just as quickly as she was calculating the most appropriate meal to suit her very specific nutritional needs. Eventually, she suited for a rather large meal of untoasted, unbuttered bread, an apple, a medium-ripe banana, a small bowl of of peanut butter, a can of spam, a few slices of cheese, a glass of milk and a glass of orange juice. She ate mechanically and quickly, yet at a stable pace that allowed her to chew up and swallow her food before eating more to prevent herself from stuffing her pace. She appeared ignorant to everything around her or to what odd looks or comments people would have on her rather unusual meal, and ate unshamefully.

Just as unshamefully was her third eye exposed, along with its various accessories. Ai felt no reason to hide it at all among those whom she trusted with her secret in an isolated environment, no matter how unusual or grotesque it may have appeared. The way her clothing was designed did a good job hiding the spots of which the chords speared to her body where the skin seamed to grow over, although the hearts were rather unusual. It was only be efficient organic design and mere coincidence that every location where each chord had connected to her appeared in the geometric shape of a heart, just the same sort of reason why her third eye appeared in the shape of a sphere or her body's eyes were spheres or human bodies were made with such a queer organic shape. Or, perhaps Ai was designed with such a visually appealing external form (clothing-wise), with the exception of the eye itself by some sort of intelligent design, yet her kind was incapable of creativity. Thus, it had to be coincidence.

Once Ai was finished, she turned her attention to Joel, whom was addressing her and Eri. "Okay ladies. Today is gonna be more proactive you, since you get to do two things today instead of one. First things first. Go inside the building and meditate. I don't care what you think about or how you prefer to meditate, but make sure you really get into it. Don't talk and make as little sound as possible. Make it so quiet that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts. At about noon, I'll let you know the second thing I have planned." Ai simply nodded and looked toward the Cloud Guardian.