Kiru bounced her leg, growing antsy. The pit in her stomach that had formed when she arrived has been filled with the prickly thorns of impatience. She’d been in the waiting room for what felt like actual years. The rest of the students had slipped into a sedentary state, idly checking their watches or cleaning their nails, or even just staring at the wall. Every so often, someone would jerk their head, fighting off the tendrils of sleep seeping into their bodies.
"STUDENTS!" the over-enthusiastic voice crackled over the intercom, jolting the examinees out of their stupor. "Prepare yourselves for the most dangerous exam of your lives! This exam is fraught with peril, fear, and…" The voice, who Kiru supposed was a woman, trailed off. "Buckskin, what's another word for danger?"
"Er, maybe it'd be best to get to the exam part, Miss Laccadaisie." A soft voice (Buckskin, apparently) replied.
"Ah." There was a pause, then a scraping sound, like the microphone was being pushed across the table. "Your turn, then."
Buckskin sighed. "Anywho. Students, pay attention to this bit. Your entrance exam will be given in the form of an obstacle race." Low whispers snaked across the room. Some students, like Tokachi and Hiraku, brightened. Their quirks were well suited for a race. The others looked deflated, Kiru among them. How was she supposed to show off her quirk in an obstacle race?
"Some of you may be feeling downcast," Buckskin said as if reading her thoughts, "but don't fret. We've taken care to ensure that all quirks will be usable." The room let out a collective sigh of relief.
"You will be scored in three categories. The first: heroics, which is measured by how many enemies you defeat and bystanders you save. The second: speed, measured by how fast you defeat each obstacle. The third: co-operation." Kiru raised an eyebrow.
"You will be taking the exam with an assigned partner."
Cries of indignation filled the room.
"What?! This a group project?!"
"I hardly know anyone here!"
"Oh...what if I'm no help?"
Laccadaisie cleared her throat pointedly. Everyone quieted down immediately. Buckskin muttered a quiet thanks, then continued. "Your pairs will be displayed on the screen to the right, and then you may leave through the door on the left. Remember, your points are cumulative, so don't try to sabotage your partner." He coughed. "Er, we wish you all the best of luck.
"And don't forget to have fun!" Laccadaisie chimed in. And with a click, the intercom shut off.
Kutou was the first to pipe up. "Whoever gets assigned with me, you better not expect me to carry you."
"Vhy vould anyone trrrrust you enough to carrrry zem?" A girl with purple hair and grey skin muttered.
The screen on the right flashed.
TAKAKUTOU SHAKOU & TOKACHI AMEKO
Kutou stood up and trudged her way over to the door. "Come one, bunny girl. Let's get this done." Tokachi stood up begrudgingly, glaring with all the powers of Hell at Kutou's retreating back. Kiru whistled lowly.
She never wanted to be on the receiving end of that glare.
The two of them slipped out of the room, and after that people started trickling out into the most important moment of their careers. The screen flashed brightly, sealing each pair's dates.
SEISHIN TAMASHI & INOUE HIRAKU
YUKINO ZOË & HOTARU FUJI
SUZUKI POPI & ARAKAN KOATSU
With each person that left, the tension grew heavier and heavier until Kiru could practically taste it. Her potential partner options grew slimmer and slimmer. She had a sneaking suspicion who hers was gonna be, but she kept praying it wouldn't be so. Soon everyone had left except for…
She hadn't even bothered to learn his name. Why waste time and energy getting to know someone you'd never plan on talking to by your own free will?
The look on his face told her that her line of thinking was paralleled.
She sighed. "Well, howdy doody, partner? What's your name? I didn't catch it over the sound of your stupidity whilst you were preening earlier."
He scoffed and pointed to the screen.
KANZOU KANEDA & KOTTOBA KIRU
"Personally, I'd rather avoid speaking to you more than is necessary," he drawled. "Don't want to give the impression that I tolerate you."
Kiru rolled her eyes. "Your loss, McSalty, you're missing out on a stellar personality." She strode over to the door and opened it, giving him a comically over-the-top bow. "Ladies first."
"What an elementary insult."
"Honey, if you thought that was an offence, you've never looked in a mirror." She shut the door behind her. Kanzou opened his mouth, probably to give some poorly thought out retort, but was cut off by a rather distracting explosion.
Kiru ducked instinctively and turned her attention to the scene before her. Several surprisingly human-sized robots were darting around; breaking windows, throwing around bricks, and harassing passerby. There were screams of citizens (which she hoped were simulated) echoing around. Above them all, a significantly larger robot floated above the chaos, clearly meant to be the final boss.
She whistled. "They really went all out, didn't they?" Silence. "Alright then. Can you handle a couple of robots while I do some rescues?"
"Let's just get this over with." He rushed off and started hurling...sugar? At the robots? How was that supposed to help?
She shrugged and ran off towards the nearest citizen, who was being attacked by a villain. The citizen was a different type of robot, more round and friendly-looking. The enemies were sharper-looking and had screens on their faces, which was currently displaying “>:)”. Kottoba rushed over and tugged the attacker off, throwing it across the street. It was surprisingly light. She turned back to the citizen and helped it to its feet.
“You alright, man?” The friendly robot brushed itself off and gave Kiru a thumbs up before running off. She smiled. That wasn’t that hard. She ran to the next group of citizens and herded them away from the fight. Then there was one pinned under a bit of debris. Then a child-sized one stuck in their house. Then a couple, clinging to each other, being beaten by a whole gang of robots.
She obliterated them all.
Feeling more and more confident with each moment, she turned around to check on Kanzou.
The narcissistic rat was challenging the boss. There was a random assortment of small fruits and vegetables floating around him. He was hurling sugar everywhere, occasionally spicing it up with a piece of produce, which didn’t seem to have a be super effective. The boss was attacking him so fast, it was a wonder Kanzou wasn’t shredded to bits by now.
“Oi! Raisin-brain! What are you doing?!” Kiru yelled out.
Kanzou glanced over and at that moment the boss was able to land a hit. He dropped to the ground.
“Frick-” Kiru rushed to him, prepared to help and possibly perform CPR, but Kanzou kicked her as soon as she was in range.
“Get down, you stupid friking idiot.” he hissed. Kiru dropped immediately.
“Why the heck were you fighting that thing? You were supposed to get the little ones down first.”
Kanzou rolled his eyes. “Did you forget the entire point of this thing? It’s a race, dummy. Obviously, the big bad is the obstacle. We've gotta defeat it and then find the exit."
“Okay, then, what do we do?”
He put a hand on his chin and furrowed his brow. "Obviously, it's a tough one, considering my skills were barely able to make a dent in it. We'll have to rely on trickery."
Kiru gave him an incredulous look. "Your skills? You mean throwing potatoes at a robot?"
He gave her a harsh glare, cold as ice. "Well, you haven't done anything significant this whole time."
She sputtered. "I'm the only reason we even have points! You're the unhelpful one! All you've done is chuck fruit and I could do that without a quirk!" Kanzou opened his mouth to argue, but at that moment The Boss hurled a handful of small building chunks at them. One piece smacked Kiru in the head, and it hurt.
To put it delicately, Kiru lost it.
"Oh, rust off, you bucket of bolts!" She popped up from their shoddy hiding place, anger boosting her new-found energy. "You are the sorriest excuse for a villain dummy I've ever had the displeasure of meeting! You're not even doing anything, you stupid hunk of garbage! Your mother was a roomba and your father came from a scrapyard! What are you even made of, brainless steel?!" The Boss stopped suddenly, its facial screen glitching. Sparks flew from its joints, and it jerked violently. Kiru backed away. It was going crazy. The robot stopped convulsing, its facial screen briefly displaying an ":0" face.
And then it exploded.
"Gah!" Kiru scrambled out of the explosion's range. Flaming pieces of robot rained down, making it 100% more dangerous. A hand tapped her shoulder and she jumped. It was Kanzou, who was pointing to a door that had opened up on the other side of the fire.
"That has to be the exit!" He exclaimed. Kiru nodded in agreement.
"How do we get there?"
In response, he flicked his hand and drew out a white powder from one of his pockets. "You need to follow me closely, otherwise you'll get burned." He took off, laying down thick layers of powder in front of him. Kiru bolted after him. The powder seemed to put out the fire almost instantly. After they had gotten through the worst of it, he spread his arms in a grand gesture, and a flurry of powder settled over the remaining flames. He turned back, satisfied. Kiru grinned.
"Race you to the exit." Kanzou rolled his eyes, then dashed ahead of her. "Hey! I didn't say go yet!" She yelled, but she wasn't really mad. She ran after him, but he totally got there before her. "Rude."
"Don't be offended,I'm just better than you." Kiru snorted. She pushed open the door, giving him a comical bow.
"It's still ladies first."
"Excuse you, I'm a queen." He strode in and yelped. Kiru quickly followed him.
"What? What is-" she gaped.
In front of them, there was a large screen, displaying their rankings among the other examinees.
"Second place?!" Whatever Kiru was expecting, it wasn't that. "Heck yeah, dude!" She raised her hand for a high five. Kanzou just scowled.
"I could've done better if you hadn't slowed us down." He meant it to sound insulting, but Kiru thought he sounded more mad at himself.
Or maybe her brain was filtering it to sound that way as not to ruin her mood. Whatever.
"Well, we're in the school now. Schools are for improving, right?" She grinned. "I'll just have to work hard to turn my stupid into strategy." Kanzou didn't respond, but he didn't scoff or roll his eyes, so Kiru took that as a sign he'd taken her stellar advice to heart.
Ah, yes. Kottoba Kiru, dropper of hot wisdom, maker of puns, master of flirtation…