Celine, no, God didn’t have to kick him twice! The first time, there was no pain. The second time, it hurt like crazy. Shouldn’t God be a little more caring about his soul before sending it back to Earth?
“You’re finally here!” a young voice greeted, and civilian #3207 turned around. The child that he saw earlier in the milky way! What was he doing here?
If civilian #3207 heard himself, he would definitely blame God for that kick. Of course, the kid would be here! They were twin souls. God already said that this child’s ability was weak, and he was here to assist his twin soul brother to succeed as the next Godfather. Naturally, civilian #3207 would never pass up the chance to become someone capable of improving lives!
In-person, Zen Taro looked no older than fifteen and was on the shorter side. He was scrawny, had fluffy chestnut brown hair and didn’t look like a young master of a mafia family. His warm brown eyes didn’t reflect any darkness, and he was untouched like a flower in winter by the darkness of this world. One look at Zen Taro and civilian #3207 could already tell that he had a kind personality even if he was slightly more timid than civilian #3207 was.
“You must be Zen?”
Zen grinned brightly. “You and I are now Zen. I don’t have time to explain everything, so here’s the summarized version before our souls fuse into one. All my memories, feelings and experience will become yours. Please use them to accomplish our goal. Not everybody can become the Godfather. Even if they succeed in the trials, it will be over if the blood rejects them.”
“Blood?” civilian #3207 could see that they were starting to fuse together. The memories of Zen’s life flowed into him, and he couldn’t say he was surprised. The third young master of the Taro family was a nerd and wasn’t a favourite. His family was sending him to his death after receiving a compulsory summon by the Godfather.
“Yes, blood. This is the most important ability that the godfather has.”
“Blood” was an ability, a supernatural one. From Zen’s memories, only the Godfather had the power of “Blood” and “Oath”.
“Blood” was the ability to listen to the voices of the dead. It also meant that the Godfather was the most knowledgeable person on the planet. Dead men tell no tales, but when someone could listen to them, that person held absolute power. No wonder God chose only a few people to give this ability to. The candidate mustn’t just be strong enough to not go insane after listening to the dead. They should also not be swayed by it. The Godfather was a powerful figure, and the only one ensuring that the world doesn’t fall entirely into darkness. Whoever becomes the next Godfather will carry the hopes of civilians and negotiate on behalf of them.
“Oath” was the ability to make agreements, promises and deals valid in yet another supernatural way. As freaky as it sounded, it was the higher form of the omerta that the normal underworld practised. Unlike the omerta, where a traitor was hunted by organisations and put to death by men, the “Oath” inflicts a curse upon those who made a vow with the Godfather and kills them.
“How do the Godfather’s abilities relate to you?” While civilian #3207 heard it from God, he wasn’t given details.
Zen grinned and pointed to his ears. “The Godfather can listen to the voices of the dead because of “Blood”. However, Godfather candidates can usually listen to the inner voices of others. It’s an unawakened version of “Blood”. Although my ability is buggy and doesn’t work all the time, it’s still a sign that I’m one of the true Godfather candidates.”
One of the true Godfather candidates? Ah, that must explain why God said that Zen was one of his golden children. Zen Taro wasn’t the only one competing. God must have planted several seeds for insurance.
“Does that mean you’re not the only one with this ability? Do you know anyone else with this gift?”
Zen nodded then shrugged.
“There could be others in Godfather High School. Although they claimed that only the top 500 mafia families can attend, I’m sure the system was rigged by the Godfather. My family wasn’t rank #382 a year ago. Someone gave my family a huge business deal and territory, pushing them into the top 500. In fact, my family isn’t the only one who received a windfall. I can only guess that some of the other candidates who were given a helping hand sent their Godfather candidates. The invitation letter came specifically for me, and I assume it was the same for other candidates. My family sent me here to get rid of me, but I think you and I both know what we have to do. After all, you hate this world as much as I do.”
There wasn’t a further need for words. When civilian #3207 embraced his soul brother and fused with Zen Taro, he understood everything.
“You are me, and I am you. From this moment onwards, I have a name. I am Zen, the next Godfather who will change this world.”
The last bits of Zen’s unfused soul seemed to tremble in delight before melting into one. When the soul was reforged, millions of memory fragments surged into the new soul’s mind. Zen wanted to scream in agony as they poured continuously with no signs of stopping.
When he opened his eyes, he was seated in a moving vehicle with almost twenty other children of his age.
That’s right, he was Zen Taro, 15 years old and the third son from the Taro family. They were sent packing, and after getting a health check-up, everyone was ushered into trucks for their first assignment briefing.
Eyeing and studying the other students discreetly, Zen wondered if there would be another Godfather candidate in the same truck as him. If the Godfather did send Zen the letter and targeted him, did it mean the Godfather knew who the chosen ones were?
Zen looked at the invigilators. They were scary looking men even if they were unarmed as they guarded the door. Escaping was futile. It would be better to play by the rules for now.
The screen at the front of the truck flickered, and a silhouette appeared on the screen. The students started becoming excited, but Zen took a while to figure out who the mysterious man was. His memories were still hazy after the soul fusing.
“Greetings. I pre-recorded this welcome message in hopes that everything went smoothly. First and foremost, thank you for accepting my invitation to attend Godfather High School. You are fortunate students chosen by your families to vie for the position of the next Godfather. I believe that most of you are eager to start your first assignment, but we need to do things by the proper order. Of course, I’m talking about rules.”
Some students groaned while others rolled their eyes. Zen only smirked in response as he listened to the rest of the message recorded by an unknown person with a voice changer. It was no secret that Godfather High School was just a fancy name. In this school, there were no teachers or classes. Everyone attending was a young master or a young mistress. They participate with only one purpose - to become the next Godfather. Zen couldn’t say that he wasn’t doing the same. However, there was one small problem. Unlike everyone else, he had never killed anyone before. Surely they would give first-timers a handicap, right?
“There are only five rules in my school and one punishment. Heed them well, and you’ll live for a little longer. Disobey them and meet the same end as the traitors of the oath. I’m not going to waste your time, so I’ll keep it simple.”
“Rule one. No killing in safe zones and after an event is over. Fighting is allowed but in moderation. Penalties will be given to those who take it too far.”
Zen grimaced. How whimsical! The Godfather didn’t specify what’s considered “too far”, but the predatory gazes of the other students in the same truck as him made him a tad uncomfortable. He had to watch his back at all times or end up as someone’s sandbag.
“Rule two. The only kind of currency usable in my school is credits. They are earned from one of two ways. The first is by participating in events. The second is by catching my attention. The currency is stored in a virtual wallet in your VR account that can be accessed using a verbal command, later explained in your school manual. Just a note, killing a person does not give you their credits.”
Zen paused. VR account? VR as in virtual reality? Isn’t that some sort of game that the Taro family’s third young master often indulged in? Then again, that would require a headset of some sort. Maybe they would find it after reaching the academy.
“Rule three. No harming the invigilators. They may be highly dangerous criminals with a death sentence pending, but they are still humans. Treat them with respect or face a penalty. For those students concerned about your safety around them, we’ve taken the necessary countermeasures. Embedded into the back of their necks is a microchip exactly the same as yours. If they intend to harm any candidate, the microchip will send a strong electrical current to their brain, killing them instantly. Of course, this means the same applies to you if you violate the rules.”
Microchip?! Zen reached for his neck. When did they plant it there? He wasn’t the only one panicking. Every other student looked equally confused, but Zen finally understood why all students had to undergo a compulsory medical check-up. The doctors must have inserted the microchip during the check-up. They were also given a mandatory injection at the back of their necks! He could still feel the pinprick, and Zen paled. This wasn’t good.
“Rule four. Escaping is punishable by death. Of course, attempts to damage the microchips in your necks would be punishable by death as well. The only time that microchip is removed is when you become the next Godfather.”
That went without saying. The Godfather was dead serious about the death threats. With a ticking time bomb inside their bodies, their hands were tied. Everyone was dancing in the palm of this one person. At this point, Zen now wondered if the Godfather was truly on the other side of the mafia.
“Last rule. The last one surviving or the first to clear all the VR games I prepared will be the next Godfather. With that, your first assignment begins.”
Caught off guard, Zen yelped when the microchip in his body sent a shock wave to his brain. The last thing on Zen’s mind as he fell unconscious was how this trial was going to be to his advantage. He might not know much about games, but the previous owner of this body did. Even if he was on the scrawnier side, they would still do ok with that much gaming experience.Or so he thought.