Transcript of debrief of Uraraka Ochako by Nedzu (HID: 2333077), Sir Nighteye (HID: 8082956), and Tsukauchi Naomasa (PID: 005-580-296), April 8, 2179 at 2:34pm, Police Case #06618760:
Tsukauchi: Please, take your time.
Uraraka: Uh, where did you say I should start?
Tsukauchi: Wherever the beginning is.
Uraraka: Okay, well, I guess it all started yesterday? We thought we found out where the villains were going to attack, but, well… we were wrong.
They’re here, Ochako thought numbly as she tumbled through a void. Panic made her mind a haze of white static.
We were wrong. They’re here.
Excerpt from “Order in Chaos: Heroes and Villainy” by Mizushima Hinata:
The value of the Symbol of Peace is not as a criminal deterrent. Criminals will be deterred by nothing - not by laws, not by consequences, not by utter annihilation. Criminality exists to exploit society, and as long as a criminal behavior is profitable or pleasurable, there will be criminals who are willing to do it, regardless of the consequences. All-Might’s power and reputation may make certain types of criminal behavior less profitable, but a dedicated force of elite heroes could achieve the same effect.
The value of the Symbol of Peace is just that - as a symbol. Like an army’s standard in early warfare, All-Might’s status serves as a moral boost to those allied with the government and the law. Peaceful, law-abiding citizens and his fellow heroes feel emboldened by his seeming invincibility. This is not the first case of this phenomenon. In the early 2050s, Phoenix rose to prominence in western Europe. Her regeneration and combat prowess galvanized her compatriots and drove down the crime rate all across Europe.
When she was killed in a mob hit, western Europe was destabilized, not because she occupied an important governmental function, but because the populace was demoralized by her death. Criminals felt emboldened and crime skyrocketed. That was the power of a symbol - and the danger of it.
Like Phoenix, All-Might is not, in fact, invulnerable. And like Phoenix, when All-Might falls, it will destabilize Japan unless there are already spiritual successors to the “Symbol of Peace” position. Although most criminals are too intimidated to directly attack All-Might, Japan’s heroes should be watchful for attempts to undermine or cripple All-Might. It is dangerous to invest the public’s trust in a single man, but since it has already been done, the best thing to do is to protect that man at all costs.
Transcript of debrief of Sato Rikido by Nedzu (HID: 2333077), Sir Nighteye (HID: 8082956), and Tsukauchi Naomasa (PID: 005-580-296), April 8, 2179 at 1:45pm, Police Case #06618760:
Sato: At the beginning?
Sir Nighteye: If you would, yes.
Sato: They came out of nowhere - through that mist villain. Just… so many of them. And that villain with the hands and the monster.
Tsukauchi: Did you hear any names for them?
Sato: The hand man definitely called the monster “Noumu”. As for the villains’ names? Uh, I never got too close to them, so I might have heard wrong, but I think the hand guy was… Shigaraki? I don’t know what they called the mist villain. I’d ask Midoriya, honestly.
Sir Nighteye: We will.
Sato: Is he okay?
Nedzu: Midoriya-kun will be perfectly fine! The hit from the monster - the “Noumu”, was it? The hit from the Noumu fractured some ribs, but the damage was well within Recovery Girl’s ability to fix.
Sato: Oh good. He really saved all our skins, you know?
Sir Nighteye: He has the habit of doing that.
Tsukauchi: Sorry to interrupt, but we have to question all of you tonight -
Sato: Oh right, sorry, sorry! Uh, well, all the villains came through the mist portal, and the mist guy talked about how they were here to kill All-Might.
Sir Nighteye: To kill All-Might! Are you sure that’s what they said?
Sato: Yes, sir. They were pretty adamant about that. The guy with the hands, Shigaraki, he was really upset that All-Might wasn’t there. They really thought he would be.
Sir Nighteye: All-Might was the goal… but why attack here? And now?
Nedzu: We’ll puzzle that over later. For now, we need to interview Sato-kun. Sato-kun, please proceed. What happened next?
Sato: Well, Aizawa-sensei told us to stay back and to evacuate the USJ. He wasn’t able to contact the school - Thirteen wasn’t able to either - so he told Kaminari to try to use his electric quirk to alert the teachers. And he told Midoriya to get one of his beacons out of the USJ however he could.
Sir Nighteye: The teachers were alerted via a beacon, so I assume Kaminari’s efforts were unsuccessful?
Sato: He was teleported to another area soon after, so I’m not sure.
Tsukauchi: Right, so, after Aizawa told you to evacuate?
Sato: Well, Midoriya was concerned because Aizawa-sensei’s quirk isn’t good with large groups. And apparently a lot of them had mutation-type quirks. Aizawa-sensei told Midoriya to trust him, and then put him in charge of evacuation efforts since he and Thirteen had to deal with the villains.
Nedzu: He stated that Midoriya-kun was in charge?
Sato: Yes? Does that matter?
Nedzu: Legally, yes.
Sato: Is he going to be in trouble?
Sato: No, Midoriya.
Nedzu: No, no, definitely not! He was in charge of securing backup and evacuating the premises, and his actions directly contributed to the success of that mission.
Sir Nighteye: He only managed to put himself in danger. Like always.
Sato: Like always?
Tsukauchi: Yes, well, anyway, back to the matter at hand - Thirteen and Aizawa were both incapacitated. How did that happen?
Sato: Oh, um, well - I didn’t directly see how Aizawa got hurt? He was fighting the villains and then the monster… happened. But Thirteen - well, the mist villain teleported a lot of the students away. There were a handful of us left in the plaza - Midoriya, Kouda, Mineta, Tokoyami, Ashido, Shouji, and me. I couldn’t feel much in the mist. I think someone pushed me out of the way of one of the portals, but I have no idea who. I was kinda frozen in fear, to be honest.
Tsukauchi: That’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s natural in that sort of situation.
Sato: Well, yes, I suppose.
Tsukauchi: Your classmates who were teleported away - did you have any idea where they’d gone?
Sato: None. I think all of us feared the worst, honestly. Finding out later that they were all still in the USJ - that was a relief.
Tenya assessed his motors grimly. Asui-san - Tsuyu-san - had scooped him out of the water before any of the villains could harm him, but he had been sprinting when the portal had opened up, and it was likely that he had been running his engines when he hit the water. As long as there wasn’t water in the combustion chamber, they’d be okay. But if he ran the engines and there was water in the chamber, the engines would be severely damaged.
“Thank you for saving me,” he said to Tsuyu-san, bowing sharply at the waist. “Without you, I would have been at the mercy of those villains.”
“Of course, kero,” Tsuyu replied. “Uraraka-chan, are you alright?”
“Thanks to you, Tsuyu-chan,” Uraraka answered. She attempted to smile at them, but it was thin and shaky.
Tsuyu nodded. “We’re all safe enough for now - it looks like they’re keeping their distance.”
Tenya peered over the side of the ship, and sure enough, they were surrounded, but the villains weren’t approaching them.
“Uraraka-chan,” Tsuyu continued, “I speak my mind, so I’m going to be blunt. You didn’t seem to be as surprised as the rest of us by the villains. You pushed that boy - Midoriya-kun - out of the way of the portal when we were warped here.”
To Tenya’s surprise, Uraraka nodded. “I suppose there’s not any harm in it now. Yeah, Midoriya-kun and I knew that there was going to be an attack at UA today. But Nedzu-san thought it was going to be at the third years’ training facilities. He told us not to tell anybody about it.”
“How did you know?” Tenya asked.
“Well,” Uraraka started, “we were trying to… you know, it’s a long story. But the quick version is, the villains used the reporters and the gate to get information about class schedules and UA’s security system.”
“So the teachers think that the attack is going to happen at a different location,” Tsuyu summarized thoughtfully. “Far away?”
Uraraka bit her lip and jerked her head in a sharp nod. “On the other side of campus.”
“We have to get a message to them!” Tenya exclaimed. “Aizawa-sensei said our communications are jammed - they don’t know we’re under attack.”
“He’s right, kero,” Tsuyu agreed. “Aizawa-sensei and Thirteen can’t hold off all those villains for long.”
Suddenly, the floor buckled beneath their feet. Tenya grabbed onto Uraraka’s arm to steady her. She flashed him a nervous smile.
“Thanks, Iida-kun,” she said, glancing worriedly at the villains, who had drawn closer to the ship as they’d been talking. “I think we need to get out of here first. We can worry about alerting the school later. Besides, knowing him, Midoriya-kun has a plan in the works for that already.”
“Midoriya-kun?” Tenya asked. From what he’d seen, Midoriya-kun was terminally late and terribly nervous. He was apparently interested in “intelligence and covert ops”, according to All-Might during their Foundational Heroics Class, but Iida hadn’t seen him in action. He didn’t even know what his quirk was.
But Uraraka nodded firmly, with confidence. “I bet he’s already got a dozen plans in motion and another dozen in the wings. Let’s just focus on ourselves for now.”
It was a rational course of action, especially as the villains drew closer to the boat. And if Uraraka trusted Midoriya so much… maybe Tenya would reevaluate his opinion of the other student after they got out of this mess.
“I unfortunately cannot use my quirk without risking a catastrophic injury,” he told the two girls. “If we need to use it to escape, I of course will, but if we can escape without its use, that would be safer for us.”
“We should be fine without it, kero. Ochako-chan, you can make things float, right?”
“Yes,” Uraraka replied with determination. “I can’t make you all float for long, but….”
Tsuyu nodded. “Long enough for me to jump with both of you out of here.” The jeers of the villains were growing in volume. “Ready, kero?”
Tenya met Uraraka’s eyes as she stretched out her hands to Tsuyu and him. “Ready!” they answered in unison, and then Tenya was flying over the water, leaving the frustrated villains in his wake.
Excerpt from “An Argument Against Schools of Violence”, a pamphlet written by Yamasaki Akemi in 2091, distributed by Pacifists Against Government Violence:
So-called “Hero” schools are inciting our children to violence! They have been compared to military schools, but they are more cruel and insidious than those institutions! While military schools were a place of discipline and regulation, hero schools promise that your children can be government-backed arbiters of violence while living at the comfort of home.
Our society has already become numb to the reality of heroes and the programs that funnel quirked children into a career of blood. The propaganda promises our children that all they have to do to be successful is to turn their quirks into instruments of slaughter, and hero schools ensure that the children have the skills to do so. What is a hero school student to do other than join the system? They have no skills other than violence.
Rise up today and protest the institutions that oppress our children! End the reign of the schools of violence!
The fire roared around her, hot enough that she could barely breathe. Toru had already stripped her gloves off so that the villains couldn’t see her, but the sheer heat of the fire zone made her want to strip off her skin.
The floor scorched the bottoms of her feet, but she didn’t make a peep. There were sounds of fighting coming from the center of the zone. She made her way there, hoping that the other student wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the villains before she got there.
And that it wasn’t one of the students who had a wide-ranging destructive quirk. She couldn’t call out to them without alerting the villains to her existence as well.
As she neared the center of the zone, a body flew over her head and she only barely dodged in time. Following the trajectory of the villain, she saw her classmate with the tail, the one that she had worked with just a couple of days ago. Oshiro? Okijirou? She was so bad with names….
He was holding his own pretty well. Still, it didn’t sit right with Toru to just hang tight and watch his (admittedly impressive) martial arts demonstration.
A villain on the sidelines went down to a fist in his gut, and she choked him out with a headlock and a hand over his mouth. He tried to use his quirk (some sort of pain generation), but Toru just rode it out. After a minute, he stopped struggling, and she let him fall limp. Her grandfather had been a police officer back in the day, and while he hadn’t been happy about her decision to pursue heroics, he had taught her everything he could. She took a brief moment to silently thank him in her head.
But she didn’t have long to relax. Someone was going to notice the unconscious man sooner or later. And there were plenty more where that came from.
A big guy with a mutant quirk was the next to fall. Apparently the hardened plates didn’t extend to... down there. Toru slammed a bit of rubble into his head when he fell to his knees, and he was down for the count.
Eventually the crowd was thin enough for her to sneak her way to tail-guy. “Hey,” she whispered, and then ducked as he swung a fist at her face. “Hey! Watch out!”
“Hagakure-chan?” he asked cautiously, and then swung back around to trade blows with some guy who was covered in spines. “I thought I was alone in here.”
“Nope!” Toru chirped. “I took down some guys in the back for you.”
He flashed a quick grin in her general direction before two more guys jumped into the fray. “Thanks, much appreciated.”
“Who the hell are you talking to?” demanded spine guy, and then screamed as Toru nailed him in the head with a thrown brick.
“Is there anyone else here?” Tail Boy wanted to know. He followed up on her brick attack by decking the guy in the temple, finally dropping him. Huh, they made a pretty good team.
“Not that I could see.”
His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Was that an invisible joke?”
Toru laughed. “You bet!”
Tail Boy huffed out a reluctant laugh. Toru tripped a guy that was trying to flank him and then slammed another brick into the back of the villain’s head.
“Any idea what’s going on?” Tail Boy asked.
“None,” Toru replied. “I could try to check it out and spy on other groups of villains after we’re done here.”
Tail Boy shook his head and then took out another villain with a combination of a tail swing and a devastating punch. “Thanks to you, I think I can handle the rest here. Information is more important. You head out and I’ll catch up.”
Toru paused for a moment. “You sure?”
Tail Boy dropped another villain with a combination that included an athletic flip and a neck hit with his tail. “Yeah, I’m good. You have the best quirk in the class for reconnaissance. If anyone can figure out what’s happening, it’s you.”
Toru was touched. That was honestly the nicest thing a classmate had ever said to her. There was just one thing… “Before I go, quick question.”
“What’s your name again? I’m really bad with them….”
Tail Boy smiled and did another of those reluctant huff-laughs. “Ojiro Mashirao. Good luck, Hagakure-chan.”
Toru smiled, even though Ojiro couldn’t see it. She made sure it was in her voice, at least. “Thanks! Good luck, Ojiro-kun!”
Transcript of debrief of Ashido Mina by Nedzu (HID: 2333077), Sir Nighteye (HID: 8082956), and Tsukauchi Naomasa (PID: 005-580-296), April 8, 2179 at 2:40pm, Police Case #06618760:
Ashido: So I was left in the plaza with some of the others - oh do you need a list?
Tsukauchi: The others have told us, but just to confirm - Midoriya, Kouda, Shouji, Tokoyami, Mineta, Sato, and you?
Ashido: Oh, yeah, I think that’s right.
Tsukauchi: Okay, so, you were in the plaza.
Ashido: Yeah, everyone else was gone. Shouji told the rest of us that he could hear some sounds from further away in the USJ that could be our classmates, but he wasn’t sure. Aizawa-sensei was in the center of the arena, fighting all those villains. And Midoriya told us that we had to get the word out. Thirteen really wanted all of us to evacuate, but Midoriya argued with them and told them that we couldn’t possibly all escape. I expected Thirteen to overrule Midoriya - I mean, Thirteen is a teacher and Midoriya is a student, but Thirteen actually asked Midoriya what they should do. I didn’t really understand that. There was a lot of byplay that I think went over my head.
Sir Nighteye: Eraserhead verbally left Midoriya-kun in charge, correct?
Ashido: Oh yeah, he did! But I thought he meant in charge of the students? In sort of a class president way, even though Yaoyorozu is our president.
Sir Nighteye: This is possibly more heroic operations protocol than you necessarily need to know, but in an emergency situation, defined as a situation in which criminals are on-scene or lives are at risk, heroes are subject to an operational hierarchy. Eraserhead was the senior hero on-site. Thirteen was under his command, and as a rescue hero, would have been far down the hierarchy in a villain apprehension situation if there were other heroes present.
Ashido: Okay, I think I followed most of that. But in that case, wouldn’t Thirteen be in charge instead of Midoriya? Since they were the only other hero?
Sir Nighteye: By default, yes. But Eraserhead was aware that Midoriya-kun is hero support staff with a specialization in intelligence and covert ops, and judged that he would be most able to create a tactical plan to evacuate the students. Thus Eraserhead verbally appointed Midoriya-kun as the head of the operation, and Thirteen then fell under his command. Even though Thirteen is a teacher, Midoriya-kun was the current field commander.
Ashido: Wow, okay. Support staff, for real? Is he not an undercover hero, though? Well, I guess you couldn’t tell me if he was.
Sir Nighteye: What.
Ashido: This definitely supports my theory though. Kirishima can suck it! He thought Midoriya was like, some hero’s kid who was at UA for his own safety.
Sir Nighteye: Excuse me?
Ashido: Sorry, sorry, I promise I won’t tell anyone.
Sir Nighteye: He’s not…. (Sighs) Thank you.
Ashido: Yeah, of course, sir! That makes everything make more sense…. Well, Thirteen didn’t seem too put out at it, I guess. Or like it was unexpected, which I suppose it wasn’t. So yeah, Midoriya told Thirteen that the goal was to get one student or one of his emergency beacons or both out of the USJ. And Thirteen said that they’d make a distraction for Midoriya. Midoriya told them to stall for as long as possible and he’d signal when they needed a distraction. So Thirteen started talking with the misty man; I have no idea what they said to each other.
Tsukauchi: Was this when Thirteen was taken out of commission?
Ashido: No, that was later. First, Midoriya started whispering to us, the group that was left. He was like, “Okay, I have two plans and no guarantee that either will work,” which was kinda grim, but he was also so determined that the rest of us couldn’t help but be inspired! I mean, I got really pumped when he laid out the first plan. The flashy one that he warned wouldn’t have a great chance of success. That was a little disheartening, but he told us that he’d try to maximize our chances as much as possible. So basically, I was supposed to acid-skate out of the USJ. Some of the others would cover my escape.
Ashido: Oh yeah, sorry! That’s my quirk. I can secrete acid. I can also skate on it really fast, so I was the fastest there, since they teleported Iida away.
Tsukauchi: Alright, what was the other plan?
Ashido: I don’t really remember… it was something complex with like, animals, and Mineta’s sticky balls and several points of entrance and exit. I’d ask Kouda or Min… actually, I wouldn’t ask Mineta - he was just really crying the whole time. Tokoyami or Sato, I guess.
Sir Nighteye: Yes, we already asked Sato about it, but the lack of mental ability after he activates his quirk made an accurate report impossible after a certain point. But we’ll be sure to ask the others about it.
Tsukauchi: Anyway, the first plan?
Ashido: Oh, right! Yeah, so Midoriya gave me one of his fancy beacons - it was really strange, like, it grabbed onto my hand with these legs? And it had what looked like mini-cannons attached? Anyway, then he called out to Thirteen as I started to skate as fast as I could. I think Shouji blocked the mist guy a couple of times - I could hear the sounds behind me - but I think Misty Man got fed up with him before too long and teleported him away. There was something else with Mineta and the main body of the mist dude, and all of that meant that I got so close! But the door was heavy and I paused for just too long. So Misty Man caught me. As I got warped away, I could just barely see Thirteen’s collapsed body, so I don’t actually know what happened there. I almost landed right on top of Yaoyorozu, and I helped out her and Jirou. It was a close call there, but we escaped and made it back to the plaza just in time to see… well… is he going to be alright? Midoriya?
Nedzu: Certainly! He’ll be up and about in no time!
Tsukauchi: What about you? Are you okay?
Ashido: Oh yeah, I’m fine! What about Aizawa-sensei? And Thirteen?
Nedzu: We’ll let you know when we do.
Ashido: Okay then… Do you need anything else from me?
Tsukauchi: No, I think that’s all. Send Tokoyami in for us, would you? And let us know if you think of anything else.
Ashido: Of course!
Excerpt from “UA: the Rise of a Giant” by Taguchi Shou:
It should be noted that Nedzu is playing a potentially dangerous game. As the government has expanded their control over hero schools in the past couple of decades, UA has remained completely free of government interference. Nedzu accomplished this by building a devoted base of graduates who are all too happy to donate some of their earnings to the institution that ensured them such a brilliant career in the first place. UA’s popularity among both its graduates and the public makes such a business model possible.
Nedzu also created the image of UA that is ruthlessly capable. The security is reportedly better than the security at the government’s Ministry buildings. Chances are that this rumor started with Nedzu, but the important point is that no one is able to disprove this. The heroes that graduate from the school consistently perform well at all licensing exams and most of the top ten heroes in the past thirty years have been UA graduates. In the face of this success, rumors about the high expulsion rate and the prevalence of student burnout are explained away as casualties of the success of the school as a whole. If the government claimed that UA’s security was lax or its standards too low, the Ministry of Education would be crucified by the public.
But this defense is all based in public opinion - if graduates become unhappy with the school, if UA’s security is demonstrated to be severely flawed, or if UA’s students perform to a subpar level, then UA will become vulnerable to outside interference.
Denki shivered, frozen to the bone. He supposed that he was lucky to get dropped in a zone with the strongest kid in the class, but…. His teeth chattered as he tried to use his electricity to do… something. Disrupt the jammer, get some sort of signal out, but… nothing. Eventually he had to admit defeat, and he started the long, slow climb down the ice pillar.
Halfway down, the wind started to howl around him. Luckily, Todoroki had encased the ladder down in a tube of ice, so it was sheltered from the wind, which would have certainly torn him off the pillar.
“Anything?” Todoroki asked over the screaming wind as Denki touched down to the ground. All around him, villains were frozen in jagged glaciers.
Denki shook his head. “No,” he said, and then again, louder, when his first word was drowned out by the wind. “No, I can’t get through,” he yelled. “What about you? Did you get any info?”
Todoroki shrugged. “Not a lot. Apparently they were recruited for a one-time event - a large-scale attack with a 100% chance of killing All-Might.”
“They really believe that?” Denki asked, surprised. “I thought that was… I don’t know. It’s just not something that’s likely to happen. Ever.”
“They seem to be pretty certain of it,” Todoroki replied.
“What should we do?” Denki yelled.
Todoroki thought for a moment. “Aizawa’s going to be overwhelmed soon.”
Denki nodded. “Okay, then, back to the center of the mess, I guess. Plus Ultra!” he cried, just to lift his spirits, and, hopefully, Todoroki’s.
Todoroki didn’t even smile, just turned towards the middle of the USJ and started walking. Denki followed, a little dejected, in his wake.
Transcript of debrief of Tokoyami Fumikage by Nedzu (HID: 2333077), Sir Nighteye (HID: 8082956), and Tsukauchi Naomasa (PID: 005-580-296), April 8, 2179 at 2:53pm, Police Case #06618760:
Tokoyami: When the swirling darkness engulfed us, Kouda pulled me out of the way of one of the endless portals. And then the darkness retreated and we were left unharmed, but our comrades were missing.
Tsukauchi: Okay, did you manage to catch the mist man’s name?
Tokoyami: The being of infinite darkness? He was called Kurogiri by the other man.
Tsukauchi: Kurogiri! Fantastic, thank you. And the other man?
Tokoyami: Shigaraki. Tomura Shigaraki, I believe.
Tsukauchi: (Scratch of pencil on paper) Tomura… Shigaraki. Alright, great. So you were left in the plaza, and then?
Tokoyami: Midoriya gathered us together and outlined two plans. The goal, he stated, was to get some emergency beacons out of the USJ. Getting a student out as well would be an additional challenge, but one that he was willing to undertake. The first plan involved Ashido Mina skating on her acid towards the door. It was a full-frontal assault, so to speak, and would have been foolish if not for Midoriya’s clever protective measures. It may have succeeded entirely if not for the inhuman cruelty of Kurogiri.
Sir Nighteye: How so?
Tokoyami: As Ashido began to skate towards the exit, Thirteen unleashed a powerful attack. It should have sucked Kurogiri into the depths, but instead he redirected the attack and tore open Thirteen with their own quirk.
Tsukauchi: Ah, so that’s how it occurred.
Tokoyami: Yes. It threw all of us off-balance, and our hesitation cost us. Kurogiri darted towards Ashido, and only Shouji blocking his advance saved us. Midoriya marshalled us quickly - he ordered me to use Dark Shadow to attach one of Mineta’s sticky orbs to Kurogiri’s chestplate, which likely covered a solid, tangible body. Once attached, I would try to stick Kurogiri to the floor, and then Dark Shadow would become incorporeal and escape.
Nedzu: A fairly good plan of action!
Tokoyami: Yes, it should have worked, but Kurogiri was too fast and he evaded my attempts to attach the orb to his armor. The fault was mine. By the time that I managed to tag him with the orb, he had already banished Ashido and Shouji. To where, I know not.
Sir Nighteye: Tokoyami-kun, the fault was not yours. Sometimes villains exceed our expectations in unfortunate ways. Remember that - a villain being faster or stronger or smarter than you is not a failure on your part. The only failure is overconfidence and the refusal to implement backup plans when they are necessary.
Tokoyami: Thank you, Sir Nighteye, for those wise words.
Sir Nighteye: Ah, you’re welcome.
Tsukauchi: So after the first plan didn’t work, what did you do?
Tokoyami: Since Shigaraki’s attention was still on Aizawa-sensei, Midoriya ordered me to continue to try to pin down Kurogiri. While Ashido had been making her bid for freedom, Sato used his quirk and had pitched a large stone through the USJ ceiling. He had thrown other stones at Kurogiri to cover for this action, and he continued to do this as I tried to stick Kurogiri to the floor. Meanwhile, Kouda called for a bird, and one arrived through the opening, I assume. I’m not quite sure of the sequence of events - I was trying to pin down a very fast man. But they certainly attached a beacon to a bird, because Kurogiri turned towards it at precisely the wrong time. He was dodging one of Sato’s rocks, and, well, I’m not quite sure. Perhaps he saw the glint of sunlight from the shiny metal chassis of the beacon, perhaps it was the movement of the bird that caught his eye. Whatever the cause, his infinite darkness swallowed and consumed that bird before we could stop him.
Tokoyami: I am unsure of where its eventual destination was, certainly.
Tsukauchi: Ah, alright then. And after the failure of that plan?
Tokoyami: You must understand, from the moment that Aizawa heroically threw himself into the desperate fray for us, Midoriya had been acting as our commander. He martialled us and our quirks into two terrifyingly effective plans, but he did not use his quirk to implement either. I had… wondered at that. If I may be so bold, is he…?
Sir Nighteye: Nedzu-san!
Nedzu: The students will know sooner or later, Sir Nighteye. I’m positive that at least two or three members of Midoriya-kun’s class know already, and I would be surprised if others didn’t suspect. It is not a dirty secret, is it?
Sir Nighteye: Of course not, but -
Nedzu: In this world, information is power. I understand. But his classmates are not the enemy.
Tokoyami: I will be circumspect, Sir. I’m sorry.
Sir Nighteye: No, no, don’t apologize. Your deduction is correct and not entirely unexpected. Nedzu-san is right - you have been a brave and stalwart ally to Midoriya-kun and the rest of your classmates.
Tokoyami: T-thank you, Sir!
Tsukauchi: You have been brave, Tokoyami, and your account has already been invaluable. But if you don’t mind?
Tokoyami: Yes, of course. Where was…? Right, so you understand the position Midoriya found himself in? Two brilliant plans had both failed, a teacher was grievously injured and the other was losing ground and stamina quickly, and two of his remaining classmates had been sent somewhere else - hopefully somewhere else in the USJ, but we couldn’t be sure. It was a truly grim situation, without a shred of light or hope to sustain us. And then there was that monster….
Sir Nighteye: Yes. I think we understand all too well.
Tokoyami: He saved us. We could tell that he was terrified, but he stepped forward and he… just started to talk.
Aizawa felt his elbow begin to dissolve under the man’s hand. The agony of it burned through him and he held back a scream with pure force of will.
“Don’t overdo it now, Eraserhead,” the man said with a horrific grin. Thanks for the advice, Aizawa wanted to retort, but he’d had years of practice in keeping his sarcastic quips to himself during villain fights. His elbow screamed in pain, and its movement felt sickeningly wrong. He wondered briefly if some ligaments or tendons were part of the light coating of dust on the floor.
The man was picking apart Aizawa's quirk, so fucking proud of himself for listing Aizawa's quirk's weaknesses. Congratulations, Aizawa wanted to say, You're almost as good at quirk assessment as a fifteen-year old boy. But that would draw the man's attention to his students, and the whole point of this was to buy them enough time to escape or to fetch help. So Aizawa channeled his frustration into a flurry of attacks.
“But I'm not the final boss,” the man said, and the huge beast stepped forward, a dumb, terrible hatred in its eyes.
And at the same time, Aizawa heard a voice behind him, and his blood ran cold.
“Hey, sir, uh, can we talk?”
Aizawa opened his mouth - to order Midoriya to get away, to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing, to scream - and then the monster lunged forward.
Urban legend about a man who steals quirks, collected from Minami Yori (77) in Tokyo, collected by Tanaka Hiraku in 2122. Recording destroyed in 2125, surviving transcript is incorrectly filed under “Folktales of the Hokkaido Region” in the folder labelled “Akkorokamui”, in the library of Seijo University in Tokyo.
I grew up around Kabukicho, in, oh, around the 2060s. After the crackdown in the early 2040s, it wasn’t as seedy as it used to be, but, well, it’s still a red light district. And I ran with a bad crowd for a while. I won’t get too into that. Let’s just say it got me out of the apartment and out of the reach of my father.
When I was 15, I was dating this guy, Kazuko. I don’t even remember his last name. That’s not important, really - what’s important is that he was all mixed up with this guy, Hisakawa Kichirou. Yeah, I thought you’d recognize the name. The guy who would later call himself Abhorrence then single-handedly remodel Kabukicho. I’m sure you remember that quirk - the way that the buildings just crumbled under his hands, the screaming people just… missing limbs.
But then his name was just Hisakawa-sama, and his enemies had the habit of disappearing, and, it was whispered, the habit of losing their quirks.
The guy that Kazuko told me about was a cocky brat by the name of Taiki. He had a quirk that let him shoot poison needles from his fingernails, and he thought he was hot shit. Apparently he was going to cut Hisakawa’s drug trade from under his feet. He had some sort of knowledge about Hisakawa’s lab and some poor sucker that he’d enticed into making Double-S for him.
So Taiki sabotaged Hisakawa’s lab. Hisakawa launched a fucking manhunt for him, and well, Taiki didn’t have the best of friends. A couple of people rolled over, Hisakawa caught up to Taiki, and then that was the last that people heard of him for a while.
But Kazuko’s friend told him that he ran across Taiki in one of the underground whorehouses. The guy was fucking insane and missing about a fourth of his teeth, half of his fingers, and… his quirk. I mean, I don’t know how much I believe this, but Kazuko swore by it. Made me promise that I’d steer clear of Hisakawa and his ilk. Told me to keep out of the flesh trade and drug trafficking - not that I’d planned on getting involved with either. Kazuko said that Hisakawa had backers who had interests in both, and if anyone was supplying… whatever or whoever it was that was stealing quirks, it would be one of those wealthy backers.
Anyway, I don’t know how much that’ll help you. Hopefully you can get, like, a paper or something out of this crap. Whatever you guys do with these statements.
Oh yeah, one last thing - I swear, back then, that Hisakawa had a transformation-type quirk. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but… Well, I have to be remembering wrong. It was obviously that deconstruction quirk. I’ve seen the footage, and the brain’s an unreliable thing, so…. Anyway, that’s been bothering me for a while, but it’s nothing. It’s - Just ignore me. It’s nothing, I’m sure.
Failure burned in Izuku's throat. He hadn't expected the first, flashy plan to work, but Kurogiri shouldn't have noticed the bird. They should have been able to get one tiny piece of circuitry out of the USJ, Midoriya should have been able to - He cut off that panicked train of thought, but the guilt stayed, leaden and heavy in his gut.
Currently, Thirteen was gravely injured, and Aizawa was in a precarious position. He'd lost two classmates and one beacon, and Kurogiri's attention was focused on the students. Izuku had been outplayed and outclassed at every turn. And to make things worse, he was surrounded by his classmates who were looking at him like he would get them all out of this mess when he didn't even know if they could survive this -
He had to do something. If he continued to try to contact the school, Kurogiri would stop them and likely split them up to weaken them. Shigaraki would kill them and he was too close to killing Aizawa already. He was back in the basement, surrounded by capricious enemies. He couldn't escape, but, well - he could definitely buy them some time.
He subtly palmed the other beacons and passed them to Kouda - to his credit, the other student didn't react visibly. The beacons would do no good in Izuku's hands.
Izuku could feel the fear boiling up, choking him. His scars burned. When he blinked, the USJ was gone, and in its place was a dark room that stank of fear -
He shook his head firmly, banishing the image. He stepped forward, his heart beating rabbit-fast.
The mist man turned to Izuku, obviously a little taken aback. “Yes?”
“Can I talk to Shigaraki please, sir?”
A couple of the students behind him gasped. Kurogiri's eyes widened and his body briefly wavered. “Why would you want to do that, child?” he asked Izuku.
“I have something that he'd like to hear,” lied Izuku. He had nothing Shigaraki would like to hear. His mind was blank and gibbering in terror. He was going to have to make up something on the fly, which, well - he had to hope that was enough. His life wasn't the only one on the line at this time.
Kurogiri wavered, the fringes of his body flickering frantically. “I suppose,” he said finally. “Ah, this way. But no sudden or aggressive moves, or I will remove you from the situation.”
Izuku bowed his head and obediently followed Kurogiri. He halted when Kurogiri did, and cleared his throat. From a closer viewpoint, he could see that Aizawa-san was in rough condition. He was exhausted and suffering from dry-eye, and his elbow - Izuku swallowed the scream that came bubbling up.
“Hey, sir, uh, can we talk?”
Izuku saw Aizawa-san stiffen, and then the monster was right in front of them.
A hand came down, and Izuku was too slow to react, but a heavy weight plowed into his side and he tumbled to the ground.
There was blood on his clothes, Izuku registered vaguely. A spattering of warmth on his face and his clothes and next to him there was a hand, and under it was Aizawa-san. Aizawa's blood was on his clothes and his face. Aizawa-san was crushed into the ground and the monster was breathing heavy, fetid air into Izuku's face and he had Aizawa's blood on his clothes. Izuku distantly wanted to scream or cry or run far, far away, because Aizawa was - he couldn't even think the word. Aizawa-san was - he had saved Izuku, and his blood was on Izuku's clothes.
“Oh?” Shigaraki said, looking at Izuku like he was a particularly interesting insect. “You want to talk? You're just an NPC.”
“I could,” Izuku started to say, but there was a scream stuck in his throat, so he cleared it with a cough and continued, “I could have a quest to offer you.” He didn't know where in his distant, muted brain he was pulling this shit out of, but he was too far away to be scared.
Shigaraki's interest sharpened. “And what's your name, quest hook?”
Not my real name, something innocuous, Izuku thought. “Nobu,” his traitorous mouth said. “Nakahara Nobu.”
Shigaraki accepted it with a shrug. “What can you give me, Nobu?”
Izuku's brain came to a screeching halt and went completely blank. There was blood on his face - was it his? The knife was right below his eye -
Shigaraki tsked in impatience. “The lag is boring,” he complained, his eyes roving over Izuku and Kurogiri and then travelling to the small group of students huddled in the plaza. “I'm tired of all these extras and NPCs - I want the boss battle already. Say, Kurogiri -” and his mouth stretched into a wide, gruesome smile. “What do you say we leave All-Might a message that he can't ignore? Noumu.” The monster cocked its head.
And Izuku knew what was going to happen, could see the blood, his classmates’ bodies - “No!” he cried out, and then his brain caught up with his mouth. “Hey.” He gentled his tone and outstretched his hands, a placating gesture. “Hey, there’s no need for that.” He didn’t look at the monster, although he could hear its loud breath near his ear. “I can explain why All-Might isn’t here today.”
“Oh?” Shigaraki cocked his head to one side. Izuku could see a thoughtful narrowing of the eyes behind the hand that covered his face.
“Yes.” Izuku lied through his teeth. “It’s a story, for sure. Bear with me - it can be a little hard to believe in parts.” He smiled, and hoped that his terror and his panic and his rage didn’t show. “But I suppose that’s how you know it’s real.”
“Hard to believe?” Shigaraki echoed. “How’s that?”
“Everything thinks that All-Might is paragon of virtue,” Izuku said. Reflect his beliefs, he thought. Create a rapport. “But it’s a carefully crafted image, and all of this class has been forced to be a part of that.”
“Hmm?” Shigaraki leaned forward, his eyes fixed on Izuku. Hooked, Izuku thought, a touch hysterically. Now I’ve just got to keep him on the line.
“You said that you expected him to be here?”
Shigaraki nodded and he scratched at his neck in agitation. “He was scheduled to be here! He was supposed to be here!”
That was more information than Izuku expected him to divulge. If he hadn’t already uncovered the hack, this would have been enough for him to suspect something similar. Scheduled to be here, like Shigaraki had seen the schedule.
“They write it on all of our schedules.” At least Shigaraki’s slip let Izuku reasonably make up some sort of explanation about that which would satisfy him. “Even our internal ones, even though he never shows up. They tell us to tell reporters, our friends, and even our parents that All-Might teaches us, that he cares about our education. I mean, they eat it up, you know? All-Might teaching the fledgling students of this generation.”
Shigaraki stared at Izuku. “But you don’t believe that?”
Izuku snorted. “He teaches the third-years, the pride and joy of UA. He doesn’t bother with teaching us the basics. I suppose when we’ve got two years of training under our belt he’ll grace us with his presence then.”
Shigaraki studied him for any trace of a lie. Kurogiri shifted beside Izuku. Next to them, Aizawa’s blood seeped into the ground as the monster crouched over his body. Izuku knew what was going to happen next. Shigaraki wasn’t going to buy Izuku’s shitty lies and even shittier acting, and then he would order the Noumu to crush the others and then Izuku himself and he’d just be a smear on the ground, his head cracked open and his brains spilled out on the plaza and, god, his mom would be a mess and Sir would be so disappointed -
“You don’t like All-Might either,” Shigaraki said finally, and Izuku wanted to cry with relief. “Why?”
“I have a mild foresight quirk,” Izuku replied, because apparently this was his go-to lie about his quirk now. Fantastic. “Sometimes, I’m able to get feelings that I need to go somewhere, or that someone or something will be important in the future. But I can’t control it or feel when someone’s in danger or anything useful. But I’ve always wanted to be a hero, even still.”
So Izuku found himself babbling out some sort of bullshit origin story based on a half-dozen of his own childhood misadventures. The main antagonist was a childhood bully that he called Kazuko, just in case he started to say “Kacchan” and had to correct himself quickly. Kazuko was a lot meaner than Kacchan had ever been. He was permanently upset at “Nobu’s” tendency to always be exactly where Kazuko didn’t want him to be, thanks to his foresight quirk. Honestly, that part was actually kinda true, except Izuku didn’t have a quirk, just a pair of ears and a knack for deducing where Kacchan was going to corner his victim of the day.
Izuku made Kazuko’s quirk the ability to control fire, because Izuku had spent a solid week figuring out the logistics of how a combination between a psychic quirk and a fire breathing quirk could possibly manifest, and he could accurately describe this fictional quirk down to the smallest detail. The last thing he wanted to do was to give Shigaraki any usable information, even accidentally.
Not that he hadn’t already done that with “Nakahara Nobu”, but he’d deal with that when he had to.
Shigaraki ate it up, his eyes fixed hungrily on Izuku. Izuku made a particularly biting comment about “Kazuko”, and when he saw the flash of a smile, he continued to sprinkle his tale with plenty of cynicism and bitterness. “Nobu” was angry at Kazuko and the classmates and the teachers that supported his behavior, but most of all, he was angry at the society that he wanted to be a part of and which continually denied him membership.
Izuku hated the vitriol that dripped from his tongue, because only part of it was faked. He spewed out every terrible thing he’d ever thought about Kacchan and the rest of his tormentors, and Shigaraki became more and more gleeful with every word.
“By the time I was fourteen, I was almost ready to give up on my dream of being a hero.” Izuku continued. It felt like he’d been talking for hours, the fear stretching out every minute into an eternity. Izuku wished that he had some goal, some deadline, because if he knew that it would be over soon, it would make it easier to keep going. Now, the future stretched before him - an endless trial of deception until he made one wrong move, and then, bam. Death by monster.
“But then I had what seemed like a stroke of luck at the time. I got to meet my favorite hero, All-Might.”
Izuku couldn’t describe the sludge villain incident where he actually met All-Might. His name, and Kacchan’s, were in the intelligence briefs about that incident, and although calling himself Nakahara Nobu would give anyone a good starting point for figuring out his real name, he wouldn’t make it easier than it had to be.
He bastardized some incident from five years ago with a villain that could shift into a dragon-like monster, and that was close enough.
“And then, on that roof, I asked All-Might if I could be a hero. Me - scrawny, weak, with a sub-par quirk. I was fast though, and smart - he’d seen that with the dragon. I asked him, with all the hope I could muster.”
“He said no,” Shigaraki interrupted with a truly horrific, gleeful smile.
“He said no,” Izuku confirmed. Actually, he had asked All-Might why he didn’t talk to Sir Nighteye anymore, which had been awkward and kind of terrible, but it had led to the two of them talking again. Sir had been a lot happier after that, so Izuku couldn’t regret it.
But asking All-Might if he could be a hero was a much better story and dovetailed nicely into this narrative of “All-Might is a horrible, self-centered man whose only concern is his public image.”
“Why did you go to UA, then?” Shigaraki asked.
Izuku shrugged as casually as he could. “I’m not in the habit of listening to people’s negative opinions of me. And honestly, I want to see the look on his face when I become a hero.”
Shigaraki laughed, an awful, grating thing, but Izuku smiled at him the best he could. For the first time since Kurogiri had thwarted their escape plans, Izuku began to hope that he could get them all out of this alive.
And this was, of course, the moment when Kacchan decided to barrel in.
He lunged at Kurogiri with a roar, explosions sparking from his palms. Kurogiri went down, narrowly missing Izuku, with an enraged Kacchan on top of him. It would be funny if it didn’t spell the end of whatever hopes Izuku had entertained for a bloodless escape.
“Noumu,” Shigaraki hissed, his eyes narrowed to slits. “Get him off of Kurogiri.”
Kacchan, you idiot, Izuku thought despairingly, as his childhood friend was grabbed by a huge, black, muscled hand.
“H-he’s just protecting me,” stammered Izuku. He couldn’t let Kacchan die, not right in front of him, not when he could have prevented it. “Forgive him, please - he gets violent when he’s scared.”
(“I’m not scared Deku, you little shit!” roared Kacchan from above them, where he was clutched in the Noumu’s fist. There was the sound of explosions, but the Noumu didn’t even flinch.)
“He hurt Kurogiri,” spat Shigaraki, and indeed, Kurogiri hadn’t gotten up yet. Izuku crouched beside the man, his hands hovering over the chestplate. He wasn’t sure what he could do, but his panicked mind was throwing up images of Kacchan crushed, his body torn in two, his corpse splayed out on the plaza like Aizawa-san…
Luckily, Kurogiri groaned, and Izuku scuttled out of the way as the man rose to his feet.
“I’m fine, Shigaraki Tomura,” he assured them in his deep voice. “Retribution is not necessary.”
“What was that low-level grunt trying to do?” Shigaraki hissed at Izuku.
“He’s just protecting me,” Izuku repeated. “T-that’s my childhood friend, Katsuki. He - he hated when Kazuko would beat up on me, but there’s not much he could do, considering that Kazuko could control the flames from his explosions as well -” Izuku was well aware of the irony of casting Kacchan in an heroic role against himself.
(“Fuck off, Deku!”)
“Deku?” Shigaraki asked, a dangerous edge to his voice.
“A childhood nickname. An affectionate one!”
“Doesn’t sound like a very affectionate guy.”
“It’s his way of showing he cares,” Izuku explained frantically. Shigaraki looked unconvinced.
“He probably thought that you were threatening me,” Izuku continued. Shigaraki’s expression didn’t change. Izuku was running out of options. “Can you please - I mean, he’s very sorry. I’m very sorry. Don’t hurt him, please?”
Shigaraki stared at him for a long moment. “It would send a message to All-Might,” he finally said thoughtfully. “If we killed him.”
(“Don’t you even think about it, motherfucker! I’ll kill you first!”)
Izuku’s heart leapt into his throat. No, no, no one else could die on his watch, please. “He likes All-Might about as much as I do,” he babbled. “He was so upset when I told him about how All-Might destroyed my dreams, please, he’s supported me all this time -”
Kacchan was mercifully silent above them, and Izuku fervently thanked the universe for small mercies.
“Fine,” Shigaraki huffed. “Kurogiri, warp him away.”
“Don’t you fucking dare!” Kacchan screamed before he was swallowed up by a portal.
Izuku hoped that Kurogiri hadn’t warped him to someplace more dangerous than the USJ, but there wasn’t much he could do about that now. At least he was out of the line of fire. Izuku allowed himself to breathe a small sigh of relief.
“If I can’t kill him, can I kill the rest of these extras?” Shigaraki asked, turning his attention to the students in the plaza.
More had joined the group since Izuku had been stalling. They’d kept calm and quiet, and several of them were huddled together - discussing extraction plans, Izuku hoped. But he wished now that they had regrouped somewhere far, far away.
“Please don't.” His voice was weak, even to his own ears.
“Why shouldn't I?” Shigaraki slanted an expectant look at Izuku.
Why shouldn’t he? Because Izuku had already seen two heroes die in front of him today, testaments to his failures. Because these students were his responsibility and he knew their names and their hopes and their fears and if any of them died, a part of Izuku would die with them. Because their deaths would be senseless, useless things - sacrifices to a madman’s sadism. Because he’d see their faces in his dreams, accusing, condemning.
Because Izuku had known them for less than a week, and he already loved them.
But he couldn’t say any of that. “They're innocent of all of this,” Izuku replied. He couldn't think of any other excuses. His mind was blank. He stared at the huddled group of students and prayed that they’d just run. “They aren't guilty of All-Might's crimes.”
“You really are a hero, aren't you?” Shigaraki asked, his mouth quirked into a smile. His eyes were humorless.
“I don’t think so,” Izuku replied, the first truth he’d told Shigaraki. “I’m not sure I’ll ever be a hero.”
“You seem pretty heroic to me. Tell me, Nobu, would you die for them?”
If he said no, Shigaraki would take that as permission to do whatever he liked to the rest of the students. Any of Izuku’s protests would only mildly slow him down. And if Izuku changed his answer to yes, then Shigaraki would be less than pleased about that. He seemed childishly unhappy about any sort of change or unexpected roadblock.
What else could he say? “Yes,” he answered helplessly, truthfully. “Yes I would.”
Shigaraki pouted. “How disappointing. You’re more boring than I thought you were. Ah well, we'll see how long that lasts. Noumu.”
This was it. Izuku swallowed thickly. He'd bought them some time, at least. He'd done that much. He was going to die, but maybe his classmates would survive. Maybe, just maybe, he had stalled long enough for them to engineer their own escape. He could only hope.
Shigaraki jerked his head toward Izuku. “Get rid of him.”
There was a blur at the corner of his vision and then a thundering impact along the side of his body.
The world went black.