Leorio held out his arms. He had a feeling that it would make for an easier landing for whoever was coming down based on where the sound was coming from. He didn't think there were any competitors left that would be too heavy for him to lift that wouldn't draw too much attention.
He wasn't wrong either when someone very light landed in his arms. Someone skinny and small.
"Oof!" a young and somewhat familiar voice spoke. It wasn't Killua. And the gangly limbs and shorts weren't Kurapika. But he knew the kid.
"Hey there. Gon right?" he asked the kid who had comically landed in his arms. Given his odd position in his arms, had Leorio not been standing where he was, he had no doubt that Gon would have landed on his feet.
"Yeah. And you're Killua's friend, Leorio," he responded warmly with a smile. Leorio schooled his features.
"I happen to work for his family," Leorio dismissed. He refused to look back at Illumi to try and make it clear that he was not trying to steal his little brother. He gently placed Gon on the ground and gestured to the last band on the table.
"We all need to wear the bands to leave the room. If you would Gon?" he asked in a polite manner.
"Sure," Gon said with as much enthusiasm. He placed the band on and they were given their instructions. An X and an O would dictate their decisions. Majority vote would decide what they would do and where they would go.
"So which way do we want to go?" Tonpa commented. There was something about his tone that made Leorio slightly wary. He pressed a button at random. So did Illumi and Hisoka. "He-Hey, aren't we going to talk about which way to go?"
Leorio gave a pleasant but slightly unnerving smile.
"Tonpa, we're all trying to become hunters. We're in an all or nothing pass portion of the test. If there is no clear answer, then our instinct should guide us. It the answer is obvious, we give the correct answer. Right now, it's just pick a button."
"I guess you're right," Tonpa replied just as easily. Leorio could feel the gaze of Hisoka on his back. Not one that promised murder, but something curious about it. Considering he had casually mentioned wanting to force Tonpa to pass for a rather petty reason Hisoka didn't know, he had the biggest investment in seeing how he interacted with the rotund man. He half wondered if Illumi would speak with him afterwards about what he was doing. He hoped not. It wouldn't be worth it. And it wasn't worth getting Illumi into a sadistic mood over an attempted poisoning of Killua.
Leorio knew his plan was both sadistic and petty enough as it was. Killing the man under an assassin's casual torture would just be overboard.
The screen flashed three Xs and two Os.
"Shall we?" Leorio asked in a polite manner. He could practically feel Gotoh's nod of approval at him falling into butler-esque habit. Hisoka walked first, followed by Illumi. Leorio went next, standing between the two truly dangerous individuals, and the lesser dangerous or questionable individuals.
The footfalls reminded Leorio of the basement of the mansion at Kukuroo Mountain. The stone echoed their footfalls in the most eerie fashion. It was sad how it was slightly comforting to hear the somber sound. They continued walking for about three minutes in vocal silence when they entered a room.
It was large, and arena like. There were even some stairs to their left leading to seats that were carved into the wall.
Gon looked up at Leorio as the epitome of innocence it seemed.
"So what do you think we're going to have to do?" he asked with his jovial tone. There was a crackle from the speaker as they Lippo spoke to them.
"As is with majority rule, all your challenges will follow the same way. Majority of you must win in order for you all to pass," there was a small chuckle, "Merely three of you need to win, but all of you need to survive."
With those words, five individuals entered from the other side of the room. Four were shrouded in cloaks to hide their identities, but one went without. He was a muscular man with a wild mane of hair and scars over both his eyes. Leorio swore the man was two twitches away from attempting to slaughter someone. And judging by his glare, he only had one target in mind.
"Hisoka," the man growled. Hisoka didn't say anything, in fact, he looked positively bored. The man's eye twitched. One of the cloaked individuals spoke up.
"Since it seems Togari isn't interested in explaining your options, I guess I will," a tired voice started. "You have two options, you all can fight together against all of us at once and try to knock three of us out before we knock you out or well, kill you. Or you can fight us one on one. If you want to fight one on one, you sit up there until you decide to fight. First to three wins wins all. Press X for option one. Press O for option two."
Leorio causally looked at the group. He had a good feeling about Hisoka and Illumi holding their own. But the unknowns, he could tell they weren't just strong. They were all nen users. He had little doubt that in a free for all, they would be at a severe disadvantage needing to make sure they all remained alive. He pressed O for option two. There was a wait.
He saw a screen light up. Three Os, two Xs. He was sure he knew who one of the X votes was Hisoka, and he was certain Tonpa valued his life so he would have picked O, most likely to forfeit and live another day. He didn't know what Illumi chose. And he hardly knew a thing about Gon.
"One on one. Well, if we must," Hisoka purred. Leorio barely repressed a shutter. "I will go first," he stated. No one argued as the hunter hopefuls went to their seats. The four mystery people sat on the other side, waiting for the battle to begin.
"It's been a while. Still trying to become a hunter?" Togari sneered. Hisoka didn't seem bothered in the slightest.
"Oh don't worry. This time I won't be disqualified for showing your inadequacies," Hisoka responded. The eye twitched again and he threw a pair of his blades. The curve of the blade and the arch of the throw had them return to the instructor easily. Hisoka looked ever so slightly amused as he dodged the blades. Leorio watched closely, focusing on what he was seeing and not the words they were saying. Anger, revenge. Dark baiting. It ultimately wasn't important. What was, was the fact that the man was fully intent on killing Hisoka. Even having a successful connection with Hisoka's shoulder. Leorio held his breath for a mere moment, something only Illumi would have noticed, just as Hisoka moved to grab the blades.
The fight was over. Not officially. But from what Leorio could tell, Togari was in denial or having a mental break down from Hisoka stopping his attack. He didn't stand a chance when Hisoka decapitated him with his own blades. There was a moment of silence as his head hit the floor.
"Winner. Hisoka," Lippo spoke over the loud speaker sounding just as amused as he did earlier. Hisoka walked away, looking rather bored but satisfied for the moment. Gon then stood. A certain energy about him. Tense, but not quite full blown fear.
"I'll go next," he said with high energy. Tonpa turned his gaze over to Gon.
"Kid, I don't think that might be the best. These guys seem really dangerous."
"That's okay. Being a hunter is sometimes dangerous. I can't just back down because of it," Gon answered simply. It was so childish, but entirely the point of being a hunter.
"It is. But Gon," Leorio interjected, "A hunter goes as far as they can, but does their best to live to pass on what they've learned. Fights don't always have to end like Hisoka's did."
"Giving the boy some encouragement?" Hisoka asked as he joined the group. He slid gracefully into the seat Gon had been occupying, sitting between Tonpa and Leorio.
"Just some helpful advice. Let me guess, you would tell him to aim for the neck?" Leorio responded sardonically. A sadistic grin grew on Hisoka's lips.
"Well, it is rather effective Doc."
Leorio bristled at that. Gon just looked confused.
"Run along little boy. Give us a good show. And don't die. I'd rather not take the exam again," Hisoka dismissed. Gon did go below, and stood opposite of an individual Leorio was sure was the person who gave them the option of free for all or one on one.
"Well, man. How did I end up getting stuck fighting a kid?"
The man sighed and took off his cloak. He was a peculiar looking fellow. Very skinny and lanky, a tired expression on his face and windswept hair. His skin was a dark tan and under his arm was a board of some sort. Nothing like Leorio had ever seen.
"Well kid, I'm not too eager to battle fisticuffs with yah. You've yet to really grow and that's just not my style," he let out a yawn. "So kid, or what they'd call you up there? Gon? You wanna race instead?"
"My name is Gon. And sure. I like to race!" he said happily. Leorio felt a wave of relief. Killua's friend was not facing a blood thirsty killer.
"Nice. Name's Grachan. Don't forget it."
"Oh. I won't Mister Grachan."
"It's just Grachan. Mister makes me feel old."
"The race will be real simple. I start on my wall, you start on yours. We'll race to the opposite wall, then back to our own. Winner of the race, wins the challenge. You ready?"
"On your mark... Get set..."
"Go!" both yelled as they charged forward. The race didn't last long. Both runners were terrifyingly fast. But the lanky guy with the board was faster. He beat Gon by a few steps. Neither were any worse for wear, but it was a strike against them becoming hunters.
"Guess I'll go next," Tonpa casually spoke up, a little more confident after seeing Gon's challenge. Tonpa waited for another cloaked individual to walk down. He did his best to look confident against the person. But the moment the person began to remove blades from his cloak, Tonpa gave up.
There was a pause in the air at the action. Leorio turned his gaze to Illumi. No reaction. But it was clear if any of them were going to be hunters, both Leorio and Illumi would have to pass.
"Well, looks like it's just you and me Gittarakur. Guess I'll go-"
Illumi stood abruptly, cutting Leorio off. He watched as the Zoldyck in disguise walked down to the arena area, passing Tonpa.
"Guess I'll go last," Leorio corrected. "Welcome back Tonpa."
Tonpa gave an uncomfortable smile and sat down in Illumi's once spot. Leorio turned his gaze to the arena. Illumi would only lose if he were dead or the challenge something outrageous for him like the cooking challenge they had been given for the second part of the exam.
"I must admit, I wasn't looking forward to repaying Lippo back this way," a jovial voice came from the next challenger. He removed the hood to reveal light blond hair and green eyes. Leorio felt a chill go down his spine. Both from the new face, and from a sick joy practically emanating from Hisoka. "I hope you make it interesting."
Leorio turned to Hisoka.
"Someone you know?"
"Why yes. I'm a bit surprised he's here," Hisoka chuckled. "This may prove to be amusing yet."
Leorio soon found out what he meant when a large amount of nen filled the room. He protected himself quickly, as did all the ones who could use nen.
Faster than mot could see, both the blond and Illumi threw something akin to needles at Tonpa and Gon. Considering Leorio knew that Illumi would not let either die while he needed them alive, he found himself not too worried. Both Gon and Tonpa stood abruptly and made their way back to the arena, neither seemingly aware of what was going on.
"I know you wouldn't agree to a fight to the death, you'd have nothing to gain, but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun with those who have lost," the blond said aloud. "Shame you got the kid. I see he's fast."
"I wouldn't take something entirely useless," Illumi spoke in his "Gittarakur" voice.
"Surely. Then let's have some fun shall we?"
Leorio watched as Gon and Tonpa's bodies were forced into uncomfortable positions, extending themselves farther than their bodies were most likely capable of.
"A battle of their minds and nen over the bodies of their victims. What are the odds of two manipulators with such similar abilities to meet up here," Leorio muttered.
"Unlikely. Shalnark must have some large debt to pay back. But it is enjoyable nonetheless," Hisoka responded just as Tonpa's legs bent to go behind his body and try to fold over his shoulders. Illumi had an easier time manipulating Gon's more athletic and young body. Both were terrifyingly good at their manipulation. It was only when Tonpa's girth got in the way of him lifting his leg over his head while remaining upright, did the odd battle come to an end.
"Next time, you won't be so lucky," Shalnark told Illumi. Illumi did not rise to his bait. Something told Leorio that the Shalnark individual probably could have gone on longer and far worse had he actually wanted to. Ending early meant he probably got to leave sooner. Gon and Tonpa were forced back to their seats where they regained their faculties and were heavily aware of new and unaccounted for aches and pains.
"Well, that was interesting."
"What happened?" Gon asked leaving his trance.
"Gittarakur and his opponent did a form of hypnosis as their challenge. You and Tonpa were their focus. Gittarakur won so I'm up next."
"Oh. Good luck Leorio!"
Leorio gave him a thumbs up and went below to the arena. The last person to face them came down as well. It was a glaring fact that this person was the shortest whereas Leorio was possibly the tallest in his group. He at least was towering over the last person. Neither spoke for a moment.
"Do you prefer a fight, or more a challenge of the mind?" Leorio asked.
"I prefer one of the mind," the person answered softly. "Really, I want to finish this quickly so I can get back to work."
"Okay... What do you suggest?" he asked. He noted the person didn't remove their cloak. Then again, neither did the one who faced Tonpa.
"Um. I'm good in collecting specimens. And viable parts of people to be studied. Research only I swear."
"Are you suggesting an organ harvest?"
"We- we can take turns. Like the children's game."
Leorio felt himself get a little queasy.
"I erm. I don't know any games like that. But I will accept your challenge."
"We'll use Togari. And we'll need to collect his eyes, his heart, his liver, his kidneys, and his lungs. If we get the same amount, you win. If you get more, you win. If I get more, I win."
"That's very generous of you."
"You will need the advantage. I have a quite a bit of experience."
Leorio didn't doubt it. He slipped his coat off and rolled his sleeves up. He opened his suitcase and grabbed a pair of surgical gloves and his favored scalpel. He focused his nen on the task on hand and the body he would be harvesting from.
It was painstaking and by far one of the longest challenges. They each took an eye from the severed head. Each took a lung and kidney. Leorio took his heart and the challenger took the liver.
It was partially his learning at Kukuroo Mountain, and part of the medical anatomy class he took that helped him remove the organs in a reasonable manner. Not as clean or professional as his competitor who seemed to have had far more experience than he did. But the challenge was one on collection, not one of perfection thankfully.
"I look forward to seeing you when you pass."
Leorio didn't answer. He mentally collecting himself as he was wiping his hands clean with some alcohol wipes provided to him.
"Applicants, you may proceed through the door to continue on," Lippo spoke over the intercom. Leorio took a deep breath and unrolled his sleeves. He quietly slipped his jacket back on.
"Well, shall we gentlemen?" Leorio asked his fellow applicants.
I had gotten some interesting suggestions. Kurapika, Hanzo, and Killua were the popular ones. But I decided to go with Gon. Partially because he is so damn innocent minded compared to everyone else and it would be odd for everyone. Not to mention, there is some things for Leorio and Gon to explore given they both know Killua.
Also, Hisoka is 6'3", Illumi is 6'1", and Leorio is 6'4". Leorio is one tall boy, even among the other tall boys. Making him the tallest of their group and I thought that was kind of funny.