Hugo stared up at the sign; an unassuming Japanese restaurant, with all the trappings of one. A weird looking samurai helmet decorated the hideout; the sign in badly written, scrawled katakana and a sign written in English reading "MAD GEAR".
"Weird name for a noodle shop," Hugo muttered to himself as he opened up the door to this seemingly normal restaurant.
Once inside, an orange haired (carrot haired?) girl with emerald green eyes greeted him, wearing a dress that Hugo thought someone her age should NOT be wearing (assuming she was around fifteen like he thought, of course).
He showed her the pamphlet, and she looks up shyly, almost fearfully.
"Please don't get hurt," she whispers in his ear, motioning to a secret door that leads downstairs.
"Do not worry, Mausi," he said at the diminutive redhead, "I am number one!"
The redhead looked at him with expectant eyes. "Care for me to show you downstairs?"
On one hand, Hugo was confident he could do so himself; however, with his height, he'd be liable to get a head injury before he could check out this secret wrestling show.
"Roxy." The redhead looked up at him. "Roxy Ciccarelli."
With her tiny hand in his large palm, Roxy walked the lumbering man downstairs.
"Of course, Mausi."
Roxy looked at him again.
"Oh, one more thing. If you pass the initiation...can you try to find my friend? The last time I heard from her she attempted to overdose on pills. She looks like me but a little taller and with pink hair. Please look for her and tell me she's alright."
Hugo smiled. "I'll see what I can do."
The arena was much larger than a small restaurant of that size could let on. It was practically a large gymnasium, with a tower (presumably for the referee) and a large mat that he presumed was for wrestling.
"Hai!" shouted the man, presumably the guy on the sign of the restaurant, his face cloaked in a samurai mask. "The winner of this duel is Jean-Paul Andore, his seventh winning streak in twenty days!" This Jean-Paul, Hugo noticed, heavily resembled him, aside from his hair, which stuck out and resembled a Brillo pad almost. It might have been the same genetic condition, Hugo thought, or a distant relative, but the resemblance was uncanny. The only difference he noticed from him and Jean-Paul was his height and weight, with presumably only a 20 centimeter and 20 kilogram difference between the two. "Didja see that, assholes! I won again! Now gimme all yer money, Rolento!" Rolento was most likely the balding(?) man sitting on the sidelines, grumbling. "I'm an American, I don't hafta give money to an overgrown Frenchie like you!" From the sounds of it, Rolento was kind of a jerk, too. Hugo mentally noted that he should stay away from him as much as possible. "Whatever you say, Wannabe Soldier." Jean-Paul smirked, laughing heartily as the loser, a heavyset man with a full beard, rubbed his own back. "Welp, I lost. Guess a red shirt can stop a raging Bull." This Bull man walked over to the sidelines and grabbed a pint of beer, drinking from it as he wiped the sweat off his brow. "Rest easy, Bill," Jean Paul said, his thick Brooklyn accent and somewhat high voice nearly booming through this makeshift stadium. Hugo was at a loss for words. Maybe this was his chance. Maybe he could have friends. Maybe he wouldn't be made fun of! Maybe--!!! Just then, a man with a fancy, almost robotic looking cane shambled in, smiling. "This the new recruit you brought in?" He asked, in an almost gentle lilt, walking over to Hugo as he stood agape. "Yeah, J found 'im." The man with the cane got in real close, examining Hugo from head to toe as Hugo stood there, unable to say a word out of nervousness. "Wow! J did say you were a big guy, but I didn't know he meant THAT big!" He let out a large laugh, almost a bellowing laugh, as he reached out his hand to Hugo. "Tell me your name, boy. Your age too, I need to know these things so I can record them down." Hugo looked down at him, mumbling. "Ah...I'm...Hugo, sir. I am twenty years of age as of last month." The man with a cane slapped his hand, laughing. "Woah, a youngblood too! Didn't know I'd have a lil' Giant on my hands!" Hugo scanned the room, feeling more and more awkward as time went by. "Uuuhh...Ja I am a...little Giant I guess..." The man shook his hand, gripping his large hand like a vice. "I'm Albert Belger, and I'm the owner of this here wrestling ring. If you can best my strongest boy Andore, you can join Mad Gear and make your wrestling dreams come true." Hugo's eyes glowed with anticipation. "Wre...wrestle?!" Belger chuckled. "You can wrestle to your heart's content, boy. I just have one thing that I need you to do." He pulled out a paper and pen, giving it to Hugo. "You need to join my "gang" as that feeble-minded mayor calls it." Hugo shuddered. "G-gang? Nein, I don't want to join a gang...! Mama told me that gangs are bad, that they hurt people---" "Hohoho, no, no. This isn't a bad gang, it's a group where troubled youth can get out their...frustration. And I can see in your eyes that you are a very troubled youth indeed." Hugo's heart pounded faster and faster. This nervousness was eating him up, but why? "I...I accept." He signed the paper, almost feeling like this was like Faust signing his soul away to Lucifer. But he pressed on. All my dreams will come true... --- "Now, before we get you started on fighting Ol' Andore here, I'm gonna introduce you to some of the fine people in our gang." Belger pointed at the man in the Samurai mask. "Sodom, introduce yourself to our new member." "Hai! the man replied, raising his fist to the air. "Watashi wa Sodom desu!" the man exclaimed, speaking Japanese in a very obvious American (Wisconsonian?) accent. "Watashi wa no longer in the realms of baka gaijin Americans such as myself; Watashi wa is now a reformed, proper samurai!" The rest of the gang (in the room, anyway) rolled their eyes, apparently used to these antics. "Y-you speak...Japanese? Are you from Japan...?" Hugo looked up earnestly to the samurai. "Iya desu!" He shouted, brandishing his sword. "Watashi wa was a former unenlightened foreigner, until I saw the superior glory of Japanese movies, animation, literature, manga...!!!" Hugo could almost see tears pouring out of Sodom's mask. The members in the room groaned, with one saying "Ohhhghhh, give me a break! "Abigail, since you've decided to speak up, why don't you introduce yourself?" Belger motioned to the man clad in white, adorned in a Mohawk and even taller (if only by an inch) than Hugo himself, with all the areas where Hugo was regrettably soft replaced with full, unbridled muscle. "Oh yeah! I'm Abigail! Nice 'ta meetcha, lil dude!" He grinned, his full set of pearly whites on display. "If you wanna know anything about cars or wanna check your engine, you've got me 'ta call!" Hugo smiled. "Hello, Abigail...I am Hugo, it is very nice to meet another giant." Abigail smiled. "Aww, it's nuthin'. Nuthin' I can help anyway." Belger smiled. "Ah, Abigail. Cordial and friendly as ever. Next is Bill Johnson; he's the guy that ol' Andore here beat the tar out of." Bill smiled. "Please, call me Bill Bull. I'm more known by my stage name than I'll ever be known for my real name, anyway!" he said, chuckling. Hugo waved. "The guy next to Bill with the grumpy face and the scar is Colonel Rolento F. Schuberg; he was honorably discharged until I made him an honorary Colonel over here at Mad Gear." Rolento glowered at Hugo; if there was someone who could scare a nearly eight foot tall, 440 pound giant, it was that man's almost pupil-less glare. "I'd say the pleasure's all mine, but I'd find no pleasure in bein' around that giant idiot. We only needed one Abigail, not two!" Belger glared at him. "Oh, be quiet, Rolento. Hugo is new here, and he hasn't even taken the initiation yet." Rolento glared. "Whatever. I'll be in my bunker if you need me." Belger put his hand on Hugo's arm. "Sorry about that, Rolento's a bit unfriendly. And you caught him on a good day. You don't wanna see what it's like on a bad day." Hugo smiled. "Ja, I do not think it would be pleasant to see me angry, either." "Last one in the room is Andore. He's gonna be the one giving you the mission for your Initiation. You better listen to him." Hugo walked over to Andore, awkwardly cracking a grimace. "Ahh, erm, is this initiation, uh, painful, you say?" Andore grinned. "Ah, non, no pain's involved. All you have to do is take me down. Think you can handle that?" Hugo nodded nervously. "This is my first wrestling match...you know, I have always been a wrestling fan! I have been watching Mighty Mike Haggar wrestling videos on tape since childhood, I think I can do this." Andore grinned. "So then, how's about it? If you knock me down for ten seconds, you'll win. Simple." Hugo grinned. "I am ready." He then let out a bellow, screaming "I am number ONE!" --- Hugo shortly realized he was ill prepared for the fight. Andore was decked out in only a Speedo; Hugo was wearing some stiff-feeling jeans and a cotton T-shirt. Andore was standing in a speedy stance, bobbing his legs back and forth. Hugo was standing there, looking like a piece of lumber. "San! Ni! Ichi!, shouted Sodom, clear as a bell. "Let the fight...BEGIN!" Andore was faster than Hugo thought anyone nearing his size could ever be. His legs moved almost like streaks of lightning, while he was blindsided by a--- ---"Andore Uppercut!" "Oh! That was the Andore Uppercut, a signature move created by Jean-Paul's grandfather, "Grandpa" Guilliame Andore himself!" Sodom shouted loudly without even the aide of a megaphone. Hugo was stunned; blood was pouring out of his nose at a rate that he felt was impossible. "Looks like you're too slow!" Andore said, grinning, beginning to assault him with punches to the chest. Hugo felt none of it. None. He felt nothing but annoyance. "Those are nothing but mosquito bites!" Hugo puffed out his chest as Andore fell to the ground, the force of his punches reflected on him. Hugo didn't even know he could do that. As he stood, stunned, looking at his own hands, Andore grabbed Hugo by the hair. "You see why I style my hair like the Bride of Frankenstein?! It's so I don't get my hair grabbed...like you're gettin' right now!" "Auuckk!!" Hugo struggled against Andore at the back of him. It was almost like a bullride, where he was the bull and the cowboy was practically torturing him. "I've rode those stupid mechanical bulls before. And won. Your thrashing's little more than a giant's tantrum!" As Andore yanked Hugo's hair, Andore surprised him with a kick to the face. "Ungh!" Hugo's vision blurred as he struggled not to fall down. His body was shaking, filled with sweat. "Huuuhhhhh....haaahhhhhhh..." "Get up, Hugo! Yer momma didn't raise some coward!" Something inside Hugo snapped; almost like a twig or an electrical wire. "Don't...talk...about my...MAMA!" It was mere seconds before he came too, seeing Andore cowering on the floor. "You win, you win! You're a fully fledged member of Mad Gear! I shouldn't have said that shit, I'm sorry!" Hugo was practically in a daze, his eyes just gazing upon everyone in the room. Sodom, who was once on the referee's chair, was standing next to Hugo, rubbing his back. Rolento, who was in his quarters earlier, was stitching up a head wound on Andore's head. Abigail was over in the corner, yelling at Belger. "He's too unstable! This guy goes off into rages in split seconds, how do you know he won't kill somebody?!" Belger smiled calmly at Abigail. "He's fine. In fact, those strong emotions of his will be an asset to the team." It was all so bizarre. "What...happened?" Hugo croaked out, and Sodom jumped. "Anta wa wailing on Andore over there because someone insulted your Okaa-san! You hit him so hard his atama was starting to bleed!"
Hugo looked at Andore, wiping his wounded forehead. "It's fine, Hugo, Abigail goes crazy like that on command. You can use that to your advantage!"
Rolento glared at Andore. "Are you insane?! That man's a nutcase! I mean, it's one thing if someone can control him but what if he's out on the streets and---!"
Seemingly out of nowhere, Belger put his hands on Rolento's mouth. "Shh....that man's an asset." He whispered something in his ear. The only word Hugo could make out was "Advantage" and he was still confused as to what he meant.
"What I mean to say, Hugo, is that despite your hair trigger temper you're still a valuable asset. I'm sorry. That outburst went completely against my military conduct."
Belger smiled. "Hugo, I think you'd be a wonderful member of Mad Gear. If someone uses you in the right way, you can prove to be a very valuable asset to us."
Hugo was still reeling, his heart beating like a racehorse. "I...I can still say?! After what I've done?"
Belger smiled. "Of course. We're all friends here."
At that moment, Hugo felt like he had made the worst decision of his life.