Day 1: 12 hours, 45 minutes (18:45 am, local time)
The shining sun was starting to dip, the brilliant yellow's absence changing the sky to blood red and orange hues as the bots moved about the streets from their day-to-day lives of about three days, returning back to their assigned homes around the fake city.
From the alleyway, they looked up to the sky, watching as the sky gradually became darker; it was almost eerie, how quiet the calm before the storm was. Moving deeper in, they moved towards the fire escape on the side and began to climb up.
The training Kingpin put them through really was bearing fruit. It would've taken a lot longer to climb up the four-storey building without those parkour lessons we all did together, they mused, jumping from the fire escape to the windowsill with little effort, their coat billowing behind them.
And a lot more boring too.
The heroes are out already, they noted as she waited for two heroes to move past the alleyway on their patrol. Not like they'd find anything soon. They're looking on the streets, while the villains were set up underground.
The heroes never found them on the streets before he found them. Not until-
They began to move across the rooftops, never missing a beat as the buildings blurred together in her vision as they raced on, the mask hiding the smile spread across their face as she flew, white hair billowing out behind her and her red eyes lighting up the night.
"Eri? What's wrong?"
She didn't want to see him right now. She didn't want to see anyone right now.
I thought I could hide how it much this was bothering me, she grumbled. But he always knows, doesn't he?
"I-I'm fine, Deku-sensei! I just want to study right now!"
Deku-sensei didn't reply. She could feel his frown from here. "Alright, fine! I'm opening the door." Rising up from her bed, she moved her way to the door before opening it. He was still wearing his hero suit from last period. When it was announced in homeroom.
"...Do want to talk about it?"
Was she really that obvious? "...Okay." Grabbing her slippers, she followed Deku-sensei to the common room and sat on the sofa next to him.
"This is about the Civil War exam, isn't it?"
Eri couldn't suppress the slight flinch. "Straight to the point huh? Shouta really has rubbed off on you."
"D-Don't change the subject!" Eri could still see the tips of his ears redden from her statement. He sighed. "What's stopping you from picking a side?" he inquired.
Eri took a deep breath and began to respond.
"There's a lot to be gained from joining the villain side. Learning how to strategize, to plan, to move around in the dark and keep the heroes off our heels. To learn how to take big risks for big rewards without the law to hold us back. As heroes-in-training, these skills will help us take down real villains. To take down organizations like the League of Villains, the Eight Precepts a-and-"
"-And Overhaul." She could only nod silently.
"I wouldn't be here today like this without you, and Lemillion-san, and so many others." Suneater, Uravity, Froppy and Lemillion flashed through her mind as she spoke. "But I don't want to be like him. I don't want to be evil. But at the same time, I don't want to let my actions or decisions be influenced by him. I want to learn to overcome my fears, and maybe this is a step towards that. You told me my Quirk, my power, isn't a curse. But to use it like this?" Was she about to cry? "What's the point of being a hero-"
"-If we have to think like villains?"
Her head whipped towards him in shock. A sad smile was on his face. "...How-"
"Because I was Kingpin for my first year." Eri's eye widened in shock. He never told me this...
Deku-sensei continued. "I faced many challenges. We were outnumbered and had to resort to dirty tricks and schemes to win. Betrayal, deceit, manipulation and sacrifice were all part of my arsenal as I led my team. The final stretch was stressful too. On all of us." Something dark flickered across his expression.
"But now, I can definitely say that I don't regret anything that happened."
"Huh?" Eri was just confused at this point.
"I learnt how to manipulate opponents and play the long game. Half of the busts I do are because of Hitoshi's undercover skills, which he developed for my sake. Neito is now one of the greatest heroes out there in terms of firepower thanks to what we discovered about his Quirk, and Mei and Momo are now unstoppable on the field. It's even the reason Mei simultaneously has her own support company and works as a support hero as well.
"Eri you are so strong. You aced the entrance exam and work hard in everything you do. You can control your Quirk just fine now, and can even heal your classmates and get them back on their feet. You saved me, the day we came to rescue you. You're nothing like him. You're Genesis, the Time Hero. And I couldn't be more proud of you."
Eri felt something wet going down her cheeks.
Oh, she realised. I'm crying. Deku was tearing up too.
"Choose whichever side you want. And don't let your past affect your choices, Genesis. Choose what you want."
He opened up his arms. She leaned into the embrace, her tears streaming down her face. Eri sniffled. "Thanks, Deku-sensei."
"No problem. Now, tell me how life in the dorms has been. I haven't visited recently."
"Status Report" erupted from her comm link, snapping her out of her thoughts. She stopped at her desired destination, the hero agency standing to the left of her. She could see others moving to their positions as well, including Kouta, no Torrent now, moving across the street searching for villains. Searching for them.
"We are in position for Phase Two, Kingpin," she responded.
"Good. Revelation, begin to move in for Phase Two."
Revelation smiled. What can she say? It was almost surprising, how quiet the calm before the storm was.
But then again, peace of mind is always the first casualty in war.