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Unusual Heroes

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Dune slumped against the couch, eyes reflecting the light of the T.V. across from her.

“Tonight on Hero Talk, we’re having a blast from the past! The S-class hero Creature was one of the first generations among the hero association. Officially dubbed ‘The Adapter Hero’, she disappeared two years ago, after the battle against the sky hordes. But just who was she, and what about her earned a spot among the esteemed S-class?”

The woman snorted. The feline ball of fur on her lap rumbled, cracking an eye open until Dune’s distracted fingers returned to scratching behind its ears. Corny, dramatic music began playing on the screen as an old clip showed the beaked mask and layers of patterned cloth as the hero traded blows with a local monster.

“You think they’d let stuff like this go after a few years,” the woman said, voice falling flat on the empty room. The cat sighed, shuffling its paws. “At least you don’t care about this hero stuff, Didi.”

“Here to discuss with me today is the head professor from the University of Heroics,“ the host paused to allow time for the guest to walk on stage. “Thank you for being with us here today.”

“My pleasure.”

“Very well, let’s start. Professor! A large part of your research involves looking into hero psychology. The makings of the mind behind the greatest heroes of today. Would you like to start us off with what we know about Creature?”

“Ah, well-“ The professor cleared their throat, crossing their legs as they adjusted their coat. Dune raised a brow, falling back against the couch cushions. “Creature is quite an interesting persona to look at. Her popularity originally surfaced around her work in disaster relief. Fires, floods, earthquakes, radiation; her work as a hero really only covered a small portion of her career.”

“Why do you think she made the change?”

“Well, no one can say for sure, but-“

There was a knock at the door.

Dark eyes blinked at the sound, sitting up as she tried to think if she was expecting anyone. No one came to mind, and it wasn’t like salespeople to come this late.

Then who…? She frowned, clicking the mute button and making her way to the door. The back of her neck prickled, hair rising at the prospect of danger. Which was silly. If it were a monster it was hardly going to knock.

“Ah, you’re home.”

Dune blinked from behind the cracked open door. A head of shiny, bald skin stood across from her.

“Saitama-san-” She opened the door a little wider, raising a brow. “What are you doing here? It’s…” She glanced to the sky, noting the fading colours of the sunset. “…earlier than I thought. Huh.” Her small apartment blocked most of the light. Pressing her lips together she leaned against the frame. “What’s going on?”

“Ah, well..” Saitama’s expression gravened, glancing down at the grocery bag clutched in his hand. “I bought the stuff to make some rice bowls… but…”

“…your rice cooker’s still broken,” Dune said. He nodded. She frowned, sorting her plans for the night. Saitama shuffled his feet as he waited.

The baldy was one of the few residents still left in the complex. Ever since monsters started showing up with increased frequency, most people moved out of the neighbourhood. Which didn’t bother Dune overly much. She preferred the quiet walls to when they were filled with people, and most of the monsters ended up paste along the sidewalk before they became an issue so it wasn’t really a bother.

Making up her mind she sighed, stepping to the side. “Come on in then.”

“Thanks,” Saitama said. Dune let the door swing inwards, flicking on a light to illuminate the dark apartment. It wasn’t exactly clean, but not so messy she’d be mortified if uninvited guests got to see. She picked up a few stray cups and cleared the kitchen bench for Saitama to set his groceries down.

“Which do you feel like?” Saitama said, peering into the bag. “They were having a sale so I got a bunch of stuff. There’s beef or chicken or vegetable tempura… Ah, perhaps they’d go well together.” Dune crouched down under the bench, finding and trying to detangle the rice cooker as Saitama held up the different items to compare.

“I’m alright,” she said. “I don’t mind either way. Did you want to cook the rice here, or take the machine back to your apartment? Though it is kinda heavy…” She set the bulk down on the counter with a frown.

“Weight doesn’t really matter,” he said, staring one of the packets. “Cooking it here is easier than bringing it back.”

“Why don’t you buy a new cooker?”

“Expensive,” Saitama said, inspecting the label on the tempura. “Besides, it always tastes better when you make it.”

“That’s because I put stuff in it,” she said. A shadow over her gaze as she reached into the cupboard and a bag of rice thumped on the counter. One time she’d watched the bald idiot across from her cook. He hadn’t even washed the grains. “You know you’re meant to flavour it at least a little, right?”

“So you say…” He rubbed the side of his head with a bored glance to the screen. “Oh! Is that Hero Talk? Man, I love that show. Used to watch it all the time.”

He wandered over to the couch to investigate more. Dune stared, the bag of rice in her hands straining as a mark irked at her forehead. In the end she dismissed it. Returned her attention to the food. It wasn’t worth the effort—the idiot of a neighbour living three doors down would brush it off anyway.

He return of voices told her he’d found the unmute button.

“-as to why Creature went missing, no one knows for certain. But I believe after her battle with the sky king she realised her own weakness and resolved to isolate herself for training. I’m sure she’s out there now, braving ocean depths and mountain tops in the name of strength.” The professor’s eyes burned behind the screen, clenching a fist as they finished what looked to be a passionate speech.

The host cleared his throat. “What do you make of the rumours claiming Creature could swim inside volcanoes? Or survive off nothing but air?”

“Ahem, well. Those are somewhat of a stretch. Her adaptive abilities were super-human by any standard, but they have their limits.”

 “What’s this creature thing they’re talking about? Some kind of monster?” Saitama said.

Dune sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. Annoyed more at the screen than the guy seated on her couch. “Just some hero that disappeared a few years ago. They decided to do an episode on her for some reason.”

“They must have been popular” he said. Dune shot him a weird look, a trace of something untoward in his tone. It was hard to read his blank-faced expressions but it seemed almost envious.

“Like I’d know,” Dune said, glancing away. “Just switch channels. It’s hardly worth talking about a hero who quit halfway through.”

“Ah, sure.” Saitama seemed happy to oblige.

Dune didn’t really care what he chose. The sound of the local news soon played as she busied herself checking the rice. She joined him by the couch after it was set to cook, crossing her arms as she watched warnings flash across the screen.

“Finally, the epidemic of disappearances continues across Z City. Masses of spider silk surround the scenes where victims were last spotted, thought to be the work of an entirely new arachnid. Residents are warned to stay away from any large webs, and exercise caution when venturing out alone.”

“Yet another monster,” Dune sighed, reaching for the remote. Saitama jolted when she turned off the TV, looking as if he’d come from a trance. She raised a brow at his horrified expression. It's just a few webs... “Come on, let’s eat.”

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Welp, this anime has my soul.

I never know how to start stories, so I’m going to roll with what I got.

Thanks for reading :D

-Edited 26/08/2019