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The Heart of a Hero - A New Era

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“…and now for some hero news.  It seems that Deku is back at it again.  After returning from his brief vacation in America, the #1 hero resumed active duty by assisting Ingenium in stopping a bank robbery in Hosu.  That wasn’t all for Deku today, as he helped Pinky in halting a villain using a size-changing Quirk in rush hour traffic.  It seems our favorite hero has come back to us rested and ready to tackle any problem.  Coming, up we’ll see how Deku’s former sidekick is doing a month after going solo.”

On a cold January afternoon, two girls looked up at the news bulletin after just getting off the train.  One had long blonde hair with a blue bow and a blue scarf over her middle school uniform.  “He’s barely been back a day and the news is already fawning all over him,” she complained.  “I know he’s the #1 hero, but they always talk about him.  They should focus on someone else for once.  Don’t you agree, Hanako?”

“You’re just sayin’ that because you like less-popular heroes,” the other girl claimed with a giggle.  She had long, spiky silver hair, slightly sharp teeth, scraggly eyelashes, and wore a turquoise scarf over her uniform.  “You’re such a hipster, Sofia.”

“I am not,” the blonde girl huffed.  The two stopped watching the news and left the station, now walking through Chiba.  “So, how’s your training been going?”

“It’s been great!” Hanako said.  “Mom’s been teaching me all sorts of ways I can use my Quirk.  I’ll pass that entrance exam in a flash!”

“I wish I had your confidence,” Sofia replied.  “All I can do is hope someone in my testing area has an easy-to-use Quirk for me to copy.”

“You know, you don’t have to do the exam if you think about it,” Hanako began.  “Both your parents are famous pros and they know a lot of others.  You could easily get in on recommendation.”

“I know, but…”  Sofia trailed off and failed to answer the question before thinking of her own.  “Why don’t you do that?  Your parents are pros too.”

“’Cause I’m a real toughie!” Hanako bragged while flexing her arm.  “I can take whatever they throw at me!”

“Right.”  As the girls walked, Sofia’s phone buzzed and she pulled it from her skirt pocket.  It was a news alert that read “Phantom Thief Stops Train Hijacking.”

“Guess dad’s been busy.  He’ll probably be late again,” Sofia sighed. 

“It’s cool!  You can just stay later at my place!” Hanako offered.  “Hey, we should go out tonight!  I found this café that makes really good hot chocolate.”

“Are you sure?  We have lots of homework—”

“We can get it all done before dinner!  Please?” Hanako pled before kissing Sofia’s cheek.  “Pleeeeaaaase?” 

“If you insist,” Sofia replied with a soft blush. 

“Yaaay!”  Hanako pulled Sofia along through Chiba until they reached her house – one that seemed a little small for one owned by two heroes, but Hanako’s parents were never that interested in lavish living.  “Mom, we’re hooooome!”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Shiozaki,” Sofia greeted as Hanako’s mother, Ibara, came to the door.  Ibara was a hero just like her husband and Sofia’s parents, but since the cold weather put a strain on her powers, she usually took winter’s off from active duty and acted like a normal housewife.

“Good afternoon to you too, Sofia,” Ibara replied before planting a kiss on Hanako’s forehead.  “How was school, my little blessing?”

“Normal,” Hanako answered.  “You should’ve seen me in gym class.  I’m definitely ready for the U.A. entrance exam.”

 “I’m glad to hear it,” Ibara said.  “What about you, Sofia?  Do you feel ready?”

“Uh, yeah,” Sofia replied.  “Sooooo ready.”

“We’ll be in my room, mom,” Hanako announced as she darted off with her girlfriend.

“I’ll make you two some tea,” Ibara offered.

“Thanks a bunch!”  Hanako and Sofia reached the girl’s bedroom and slid the door open, finding the room in total disarray.  “Oh, uuuuh…”

“I was here 3 days ago,” Sofia stated.  “How did it get like this so quickly?”

“Well, you know… I put stuff down and then… don’t pick it back up.”

“You slob,” Sofia joked, making Hanako puff out her cheeks.  “Let’s clean this up first, then we’ll get to our homework—”

“Waaaaiiiiit,” Hanako groaned before wrapping her scarf around Sofia and pulling her closer.  “I’m tired.  Let’s take a nap first.”

“You’ll want to do it even less afterward,” Sofia pointed out.  “I’ll start picking this place up for now.  Your mom’s tea will wake you up.”

“Thank yooouuu.”  Hanako flopped backwards onto her bed and watched lazily as Sofia cleaned.  “You’re so good at keeping things neat,” she complimented.

“I just like having things in their place,” Sofia claimed.

“But you’re way better at it then me.”

“This is true,” the blonde girl laughed.  “Maybe instead of going to U.A., I’ll just be your stay-at-home housewife.”

“Nooooooo,” Hanako complained.  “That’s not as cool as us both being heroes.  Think about it!  The perfect power couple!”

“Yeah…”  After Sofia finished straightening up her girlfriend’s bedroom, she paused taking her homework out.  “Hanako… do you—”


“Daddy!” Hanako yelped in glee.  She bolted from the room while Sofia followed more calmly.  When she caught up to her girlfriend, she found Hanako’s father, Tetsutetsu, kissing Ibara deeply while Hanako made fake barfing gestures.  “Gross!”

“This is NATURE!” Tetsutetsu rebutted.

“How was your day, dear?” Ibara asked. 

“Pretty good.  Kirishima had to leave early for his anniversary, so I took off too.”

“How nice.  I wish nothing but the best for those two.”

“Hey, daddy!” Hanako began.  “After dinner, Sofia and I are gonna go out, OK?”

“Oh yeah?  Gonna find somewhere to suck face?”

“Tetsu!” Ibara scolded.

“What?  You know I’m right.  Hey, we should go out too!” Tetsutetsu suggested.  “Double date!”

“Daddyyyyyyy, you’ll cramp my style,” Hanako whined.

“Fine, we’ll give you your space,” the iron man relented.  “How’s that sound, babe?  Wanna go out?”

“I’d love to.”

After dinner with Hanako’s parents, the two girls headed downtown for a date, splitting off from the hero couple near the station.  “Then I said ‘check this out!’ and I flipped him off the mat with my bare hands!”

“I know, Hanako.  I was there.”

“I’m a good wrestler,” Hanako declared.  “You OK, Sofia?  You seem down.”

“Just a little tired,” Sofia claimed.

“In that case, let’s get some hot chocolate and perk up!”  Hanako took the lead and dragged Sofia down the street to the café.  As they walked, Sofia was once again contemplating how to say what was on her mind. 


“Here we are!” Hanako announced.  The girls walked inside the warm shop, taking in the smell of coffee, tea, and pastries.  There were a handful of other patrons, but not enough to seem crowded or loud.  “Mmm, I’m ready for some sweets.”

“It does look inviting.”  The girls found a pair of stools at the counter and ordered their drinks.  As they waited, Sofia tapped her left hand on the wooden counter while her right one squeezed Hanako’s.  “Hey…”

“What’s up?”

“The U.A. entrance exam… it’s not too far away now.”

“Yeah.  I’m so excited!  What about it?”

“Do you really think I’m ready?”  Sofia’s question took the wind out of Hanako’s sails and the girls fell silent.  Once their drinks came, Hanako finally replied.

“Of course,” she answered, more reserved than before.  “Sofia, you’re so smart and you have such a cool Quirk—”

“It’s not strong though,” Sofia interrupted.  “It’s not my own strength.  Hanako, I… I don’t think I can do this.”

“S-Sure you can,” Hanako claimed, trying to reassure her girlfriend.  “Ummm… Maybe you should ask your parents for some advice.”

“I would if I could.  They’re so busy all the time.  I was going to, but by the time I had an opportunity, it felt too late.”  Sofia paused her lament to take a contemplative sip of her drink.

“Then ask mine,” Hanako offered.  “They can tell you anything you need to know.”

“It’s not about having information… I need to hear it from my folks.”

“…I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more, but I still love you.  No matter what happens, we’ll always be together.”

“Right.  Thanks, Hanako.”  Sofia leaned over and rested on her girlfriend’s shoulder, hoping to possibly absorb some of the girl’s optimism.  It was a quiet and comfortable moment for them, but it was soon interrupted.  A lanky, black-haired man sat down on Hanako’s right, plopping his bag onto the counter and ignoring the other free stools.  He wore a red shirt, black pants with a belt, and red sneakers, and his eyes gave off an intimidating atmosphere.

“Black coffee,” he mumbled to the woman behind the counter.  From his voice, he seemed to be in the middle of an everlasting bad mood.

"Hey, buddy,” Sofia said to him.  “There’s plenty of other seats.”  The man ignored them and took his bitter drink, swallowing half in a single gulp.  “You really can’t sit anywhere else?”  There was a long pause, but the man finally acknowledged Sofia when he tilted his head towards her.

“In a minute, you’ll be glad I’m sitting here,” he finally replied before motioning to the entrance.  Sofia and Hanako followed his line of sight to the front of the store, where they saw a group of people loitering at the window.  “Looks like they’re getting ready.”

“Villains?” Hanako whispered.  “Should we leave?”

“They may take you hostage if you get too close,” the man told her.  “I’m already off-duty.  Shouldn’t even be doing this.  Been working all day…”  In the middle of the man’s heated muttering, the four people in the window made their move and kicked in the door, pointing guns at the café patrons.

“Everybody freeze!”

“Empty the register!”  Almost everyone put their hands up immediately, but the black-haired man simply finished his coffee and stood up. 

“What’s he doing?” Sofia wondered.

“Sit the hell down!” a robber barked.  “Do it or I’ll fill you with lead!”

“Then do it,” the man dared.  “Try.”  The robber looked stunned, but after a moment, he did pull the trigger.

“Huh?  Nothing?”  No matter how many times he pulled the trigger, his gun wouldn’t work.  The other robbers tried to shoot, but their guns didn’t fire either.  “What the hell?!  We got ripped off!”

“I bet you didn’t know this,” the black-haired man grumbled, “but guns don’t work if the gunpowder is wet.”  While the villains took a quick look at their rifles, the man made his move and kicked one in the face.  After that, he dashed past them and elbowed one in the spine, pushing him forward and forcing him to the floor.  The remaining two attacked from both sides, but he moved out of the way and grabbed their heads, smashing them together.  Once they both slumped to the ground, the man dusted his hands off and the café was quiet again.  “…OK, I’m done.  Go back to… doing whatever you all were doing.”  He seemed like he was preparing to leave, but before he could, the robber he had elbowed further into the café began to get up.  “Guy, it’s done.  Cut it out.”

“Hell no,” the robber spat.  He dropped the useless gun from his hands and activated his Quirk, firing a beam of light at the hero from his palm.  He ducked out of the way and let he beam travel by his head, destroying the door in the process.  The robber then made a desperate grab for the person closest to him – Sofia.

“Aaah!”  The robber hooked his left arm around her neck and pulled her close while his right hand gripped her head.  The surprise had silenced Sofia and she stared at the hero for help.  Hanako was stunned silent as well, too scared to move or speak.

“Back off or I’ll blow her head off!”  The mysterious hero didn’t move a muscle as the robber backed away with Sofia in his grasp.  He reached behind him and opened the back door before scuttling through.  Once the door slammed shut behind him, Hanako began to cry.

“S-Sofia!” she yelled.  “Mister, you’re a hero, aren’t you?  You have to save her!”

“Calm down,” he told her while walking over to his bag.  “That alley’s a dead end, so he’s not going anywhere.”  He reached into the black canvas and pulled out a hat – a black one that had two metal horns on the front and a snorkel on the side.  “Just give me a minute, kid.  I’ll save her.”

“Dammit, where’s the exit here?!” the robber shouted in panic.  “Quit squirming!”

“Sorry!” Sofia answered in fear.  She tried to look back at the exit they took and see if the hero was coming, but couldn’t move enough.

“Guess I’ll have to try the roofs.”  In a flash, Sofia was pulled off the ground by the robber using his Quirk to blast them upwards.  She gave out a scream as they ascended and once they landed on the roof, the robber put his hand over her mouth.  “Shut it!”

“Guy, you really need a quieter escape.”  The sound of rushing water filled Sofia’s ears before she heard the voice.  Once the robber turned around, she saw the out-of-costume hero flying up onto the roof, propelled by torrents of water from his feet.  “You’ve got now where to go.”

“I-I know you!” the robber fearfully exclaimed.  “You’re HIS sidekick!”

“Ex-sidekick.  I’m striking out on my own,” the hero claimed.  He raised his arm up and formed a sphere of water on his palm.  “If you know who I am, then you know what I’m capable of.”

“S-Stay back!” the robber yelled while showing off his hostage.  “I’ll blast this girly’s head off!  Wanna know what death tastes like, kid?!”

“Hmmmmph!”  Sofia was too afraid for her to fully register who the hero was.  Despite this, she watched him closely as he adjusted his aim slightly and fired the water shot.  Sofia assumed she would be killed, but the water attack was so fast that the robber wouldn’t get the chance to hurt her.  It flew into his arm, breaking it and hurling him across the roof.  With the robber’s grip not long on her, Sofia stumbled onto her knees, but still gave a sigh of relief.

“You’re safe now,” the hero drawled at her.

“Th-Thank you.”  Now calmer, Sofia stood up and gave her hero a look-over, finally realizing who it was.  “Y-You’re… You’re the tsunami hero: Aqualung.”

“Yup.  Kota Izumi, that’s me.”  Sofia stared up at the hero for a long while before her face split into a huge grin. 

“Can I have your autograph?” she squeaked.  Kota subtly rolled his eyes, but still reached into his pocket and took out a slip of paper.  “Oh my gosh, thank you!  I’m such a big fan of yours!  Oh, I have so many questions!  What are the Pussycats like in person?  Are you still in touch with Manual?  Is your water safe to drink?”

“…Most people just ask about the other guy,” Kota told her.

“Deku gets enough attention already,” Sofia claimed.  “He’s overexposed!”  Kota didn’t know how to respond to this, so he simply took out a pen to write the autograph.

“What’s your name?”

“Sofia Monoma, sir.”

“Gotcha.  Sofia Mono— wait, Monoma?  You’re Phantom Thief’s kid?”

“Um, yes sir.  Battle Fist too,” she reported.  Kota finished the autograph into silence and handed of the paper to Sofia. 

“Lots of people from that generation are finally sending their kids off to hero school.  You trying for U.A.?”  Sofia took the paper graciously, but the question made her smile begin to droop. 

“Well… I’d like to, but… I don’t think I’m cut out for it.  I’m not really strong and my Quirk is…”

“What is your Quirk?”

“It’s Copy.  Same as my dad.”

“Then your Quirk isn’t a reason not to try.  Your father’s made it as a hero with it.  Hell, he’s made it to the Top 10 alongside your mother with that Quirk before.”  Kota bent down to eye level with Sofia and locked his pensive gaze on her.  “What’s really holding you back?”  Under the scrutiny of her favorite hero, Sofia couldn’t hide anything.

“I… don’t want to disappoint them,” she admitted.  “Even though I’ve been training, I don’t believe I’m cut out for U.A.  My mom and dad are excellent heroes, so… if I fail, I can’t even imagine how let down they’d be.”

“Have you talked to either of them about this?”

“How could I?  Both of them are so confident in themselves.  I could never admit this to them.  Even if I wanted to, it’s too late.”  Sofia looked down at her feet as a single tear went down her cheek.  Kota said nothing, but after a moment, his hand fell on her shoulder.

“It’s never too late to be honest with someone.”  Sofia looked back up and saw his that Kota’s features had softened.  “Trying to hide these feelings can only hurt you.  I may not know your parents very well, but I doubt they’d be upset if you told them all this.  You shouldn’t wait to talk to them… because if you wait too long, then it really will be too late.”  His words hit Sofia like a truck and etched themselves into her mind.  Kota’s grasp firmly on her shoulder gave her the nerve to stand up straight.

“Aqualung, do you copy?”  On Kota’s belt, a police radio buzzed on.  “We’re apprehending the robbers in the store.  Is the hostage secure?”  Kota stood back up and took the radio in his hand.

“This is Aqualung.  Hostage is secure and unharmed.  The final criminal is unconscious on the roof of the building behind the café.  Send a few officers to get him.  I’ll bring the hostage back.  Are there any other heroes around?”

“Two off-duty ones are here – Real Steel and Maria.  We’ve also been told Phantom Thief and Battle Fist are on their way; also off-duty.”

“Copy.  Bringing the hostage back now.”  Kota put his radio away and gestured for Sofia to follow him.  “You heard that, right?”


“Ready to go?”

“…Yeah.”  Kota helped Sofia get back down into the alleyway and they headed for the cafe’s back door.

“Let me see that autograph real quick.”  Sofia handed him the slip of paper and Kota took out his pen again.  After a moment of scribbling, he gave it back and Sofia inspected it.

“A… phone number?”

“At U.A., the students intern with heroes for a week after the Sports Festival.  My office is new, so I’ll need some extra hands eventually.”  Sofia’s heart skipped a beat as she read the number over and over again.  “I’ll probably take someone who can make a big splash at the Sports Festival.  If you think you’re up to the task by then, give me a call.”  Kota left her back into the café where they saw the police rounding up the villains.  Sofia didn’t take any notice of her surroundings until a pair of strong arms started to squeeze her.

“SOFIAAAAAA!” Hanako cried in her ear, shocking Sofia from her trance.  “I was so worriiiiiiieeed!”

“I-It’s OK.  I’m fine, Hanako.”  Sofia hugged her girlfriend back as Kota waked into the crowd, disappearing from sight.  Once Hanako finally let go, the two girls walked outside and found Ibara and Tetsutetsu.

“Are you two alright?” Ibara asked worriedly.

“Can’t believe those bastards,” Tetsutetsu seethed.  “You aren’t hurt, right?”

“I’m OK,” Sofia told him.

“We’re fine, daddy,” Hanako added. 

“I’m sorry we couldn’t come sooner,” Ibara told them.  “Thanks heaven another hero was there.”

“Um, speaking of which,” Sofia began.  “I heard over his radio that my parents were around.”

 “They’re on their way,” Ibara said while Tetsutetsu looked around.

“Hey, over here!”  The iron man began to wave and Sofia turned around.  Not too far away, she saw her parents – Itsuka and Neito.  The pair of heroes immediately sprinted over to the group and nearly toppled Sofia over as they grabbed her in a tight bear hug.

“You’re OK!  Oh, thank God!” Neito cried.

“Oh, my sweet little baby!” Kendo added, also teary-eyed.

“I-It’s fine, really,” she told them.  Her parents only squeezed tighter, but did let go eventually.

“Sorry we weren’t around to help her,” Tetsutetsu said to them.

“It’s fine.  These things come out of nowhere,” Neito replied.  “Let’s just be glad our girls are safe.”

“You’re safe now, baby,” Itsuka cooed while holding her daughter.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

“Really, mom, I’m OK,” Sofia assured her mother.  She thought back briefly to what Kota had told her and gulped loudly, trying to be courageous.  “…but since you’re both here, I need to talk to you and dad about something.”

“What’s wrong, princess?” Neito asked.

“Something I’ve had on my chest for a while.”

“You want some privacy?” Hanako asked.

“Yeah.  Mom, dad, can we—?”

“Of course,” Itsuka told her.

“Be right back,” Neito told the Shiozaki family.  Sofia led her parents away from the commotion at the café and found an empty bench they could sit at.  “So, what’s bothering you?”

“Well… It’s about U.A.  I don’t know if I’ll be good enough.”  Sofia waited for what felt like an eternity for what would come next.  She expected disappointment, or a heavy sigh at the very least, but instead, she received a pat on the back.

“I know how you feel,” Neito began.  “I’ve been where you’ve been.  For a long time, that’s how I felt.  If you’re power’s dependent on other people’s, it’s hard not to feel like you can’t measure up.  You’re not crazy for feeling this way, Sofia.  With our Quirk, it’s natural to feel this way sometimes.”

“We know that this can be a stressful time for people your age,” Itsuka stated.  “I know that we’ve been very busy and we’re sorry that you felt like you couldn’t tell us until now.  We want you to be happy, Sofia, so tell us what you want to do.”

“I…”  Sofia rested her chin in her hands and thought deeply on what she wanted.  “I still… want to be a hero.  I want to go to U.A.  It’s just… I don’t want to embarrass you if I fail.”

“You could never embarrass us,” Itsuka immediately told her.  “No matter what you do, we’ll always be proud of you.”

“That’s right.  As long as you try your best and follow your dreams, we’ll support you.”  Both heroes slid closer to their daughter and held her tenderly.  Sofia returned the affection and smiled brightly at them.

“In that case… I’ll do my best.” 


Weeks after Sofia’s talk with her parents, the U.A. entrance exam came and went.  According their Sofia, she had no idea how well she did compared to everyone else, and despite their connections with the faculty, Neito and Itsuka couldn’t find out how she did early.  More time went by until the day a letter from their alma mater came in the mail.

“She definitely got in, right?” Neito asked as he paced around the living room.  “I mean, she’s perfect!  No one would say ‘no, she’s not good enough.’  Not to my little princess.”

“It’s not the end of the world if she’s not in it,” Itsuka reasoned as she anxiously adjusted the furniture.  “She’s definitely in, but if she’s not for some crazy reason, she can get in later.  Like Shinso!”

“Like Shinso!” Neito nervously parroted.  “…Geez, I knew my Quirk would be her downfall.  You should’ve given her yours.”

“I had no control over that,” Itsuka told him.

“You could’ve done something,” Neito responded.  “I dunno, lay on your side more or eat some type of special foods?  Maybe?”

“OK, even if that made any sense – which it doesn’t – you’re about 15 years too late.”

“Um…”  The couples’ discussion was halted when Sofia appeared in the doorway.  Both looked at her expectantly and waited for the news.  “…I got in.  Hanako too.”

“You did?!”  In an instant, Neito and Itsuka grew enormous grins and sprinted to their daughter, pilling her into a crushing embrace.  “That’s my girl!”

Chapter Text

With winter now behind them and cherry blossoms in the breeze, springtime had come to spur the incoming U.A. class into action.  The day before their first hero classes came quickly, so the students and their families came to move into the dorms. 

“What a day, what a day,” Neito mused while leaning on his daughter’s dorm room wall.  “My baby girl is finally striking out on her own and beginning her hero training.”

“Don’t try and act cool about it now.  You spent all of last night crying,” Itsuka pointed out.

“Well, can you blame me?” he yelped, immediately emotional.  “It’s hard to hand her over to U.A. like this!  I’m gonna miss seeing her every morning and kissing her goodnight and—”

“Dad, I’m standing right here,” Sofia told him.

“Remember, you can call us anytime!  About anything!” he cried while pulling Sofia into another crushing hug.

“Cut it out,” Sofia whined.  Neito begrudgingly pulled himself away, letting Itsuka take her turn hugging Sofia goodbye.

“You’re in good hands here,” she told her daughter, “but you can always call us.  Be safe, be smart, make friends, and… well, you know the rest.”

“Hey, is Neito crying in here?” came a cackling voice in the doorway.  “He better be.  I’ve got a betting pool going.”  The Monoma family looked and saw Shihai and Juzo loitering out in the hallway.  Shihai peeked his head around to see Neito hastily rubbing his eye while Juzo waved to Itsuka.

“We just finished up Shizuka’s room upstairs,” Juzo told them.  “How’re things down here?”

“We’re just about done too,” Itsuka said as she and her family came out to the hallway.  Are the others here?”

“Tetsutetsu and Ibara are still working on Hanako’s room.  Lots of crying,” Shihai snickered.  “The others are—“

“Right over here!”  Four more figures appeared from down the hall and came closer.

“Hey, Sets, Ryu,” Itsuka greeted.  “Kosei, Sen, I thought you guys weren’t coming until later.”

“Tatsu wanted a head start on the day,” Sen explained.  “Looks like we came at a good time.”

“What’s up, little lady?” Kosei said to Sofia.  “Has your dad embarrassed you enough to last you until summer break?”

“Yes, uncle Kosei,” Sofia chipperly reported.

“Not cool,” Neito complained.

“Then it fits you,” Setsuna sassily interrupted. 

“Like you’re one to talk,” Neito shot back.  “You’re the most embarrassing person around.”

“Thing about that is that I don’t give a shit.”

“So, you guys are finished up moving Saiyuki in?” Itsuka asked to change the subject.

“Yup.  She’s really gung-ho about starting,” Hiryu told her.  “She’s downstairs with Shizuka.”

“Why don’t you go to the common room with the others,” Itsuka told Sofia.  “Us old folks will probably be catching up for a while.”

“Alright.”  After one last impromptu hug from Neito, Sofia finally left her parents’ side and went downstairs to greet her new classmates.  As she expected, there were plenty of unfamiliar faces, but a couple ones that she knew stood out in the crowd.  “Hey, you two.”

“Oh hey!  It’s Sofia!”  The girl who greeted her was Saiyuki, the daughter of Hiryu and Setsuna.  Her energetic disposition and toothy smirk were clearly from her mother, but her black hair done up in cloth-covered buns were reminders of her father.  “Been a while, huh?”

“It’s nice to see you,” came the quiet voice of the other girl – Shizuka Honenuki.  She had unruly, snow white hair like Shihai, but the facial features of her other father.  Sofia knew this from prior meetings, but like most times, Shizuka was wearing a black mask over her mouth. 

Guess she’s still a little sensitive about it, Sofia realized.  “Is Tatsumaki here?”

“Oh yeah.  That flirt’s living it up,” Saiyuki reported.  Sofia looked across the room and saw her friend speaking to a group of others, making full use of his charming smile and charisma.  He had dark brown hair and large eyes that only added to his pretty boy status, though Sofia could still remember how uncanny they were when he was young.  “How much you wanna bet he’ll have a girlfriend by the end of the week?”

“Honestly, the over-under on those odds is— hrrk!”  Sofia’s answer was cut off when a strong arm pulled her back into a crushing embrace.

“Hey, everyone!” Hanako greeted while nuzzling her head onto Sofia’s shoulder.  “How’ve you all been?  It’s been a while since we were all together like this.”

“Got that right.  We’ve been good over here,” Saiyuki replied with Shizuka nodding.  “What about you two lovebirds?”

“Just great!” 

While Hanako chatted away with the other two girls, Sofia took a moment to look around the room.  She counted about 24 students, including herself, and assumed their orientation would begin soon.  That’s when she felt a chill run down her spine.  A gut feeling told Sofia that something was wrong, so she looked around more slyly this time.  There, in the corner of her eye, she saw a girl staring at her.  She had a glower and scowl that made Sofia’s blood run cold and she immediately grabbed at Hanako’s hand for security.

“Something wrong?” Hanako quietly asked.  Sofia would’ve replied to her, but before she could, a loud and chipper voice broke through the crowd’s murmurs.

“Listen up, listen up!  It’s time for orientation!” 

The students broke away from the room’s center and slowly found seats, letting Sofia take one last look at the girl that had been glaring.  She seemed familiar, but Sofia couldn’t place a name.  The girl had wild blonde hair that was slightly contained in a large ponytail and sat with her arms folded.  No one seemed eager to sit beside her after seeing her belligerent expression.  Her uniform was also worn differently, with her blazer tied around her waist, her sleeves rolled up, and her tie loose.  She also wore a very long skirt instead of the normal one with loose socks peeking out from below it.  Sofia and Hanako took their seats on a couch away from her and made sure not to be in her line of sight.

“I hope you’re all havin’ a great day, everyone!”  The woman who had called for orientation to begin walked into the middle of the room and looked around with a bright smile.  “From now on, I’ll be your homeroom teacher, Pony Tsunotori!  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the riding hero: Bronco, but you can just call me Mrs. Tsunotori.”  Sofia smiled at the hero she knew like an aunt while the other students clapped.  “Aw, y’all are so sweet.  I’ll get things started with roll call and then we’ll move onto orientation.  Afterwards, I’ve got some homemade cookies that me and my wife Melissa made.” 

She’s really in her element, Sofia thought.  As attendance was called and Sofia memorized everyone’s names, her eyes wandered back to the delinquent-looking girl.  The feeling that they knew each other still persisted.  As roll call went on, Sofia listened up for the girl’s name to solve the mystery.

“Let’s see, uh… Nicotsuki Bakugo?”

“Just Nico is fine,” the girl responded dismissively.

That’s it!  Reminded of the name and face, Sofia’s mind flashed back a few years to the last time they had interacted.  The details were hazy, but Nico’s crude and standoffish personality clashing with Sofia’s tendency to get hung up on petty arguments were more than enough for the two girls to avoid each other from then on.

Hanako nudged Sofia’s side and gave her a worried look.  Despite the friendship between their two fathers, her and Nico had never gotten along either.  There’s was a more lopsided relationship than Nico and Sofia’s, with Hanako almost always shying away from any threats or insults from Nico.

If she’s anything like how she was years ago, this year may get… heated.  

“Cheers.  Here’s to our time alone.”  Neito smiled and clinked his wine glass against Itsuka’s and they both took a drink.  “…I miss her already.”

“Me too.”

“Can we call her?  Is it too soon?” 

“I hope not.”


Chapter Text

After their move-in day’s long orientation and an assembly with their principal, the Dragon Hero: Ryukyu, the incoming class had to prepare for the next day, which would be their first class together.  The morning went by smoothly enough as the students waited in excitement for the afternoon class – Hero Studies.

“Guess I’ll find out how I stack up with everyone else,” Sofia quietly said as she took her seat, following lunch.  In her mind, the sizeable class seemed much stronger than her from the get-go, but she cleared these doubts by remembering the words of her father.

Their strength is your strength.

“TAKE YOUR SEATS AND SHUT UP!”  The already quiet class became ever more silent when thunderous footsteps entered the classroom.  An intimidating visage stood before the class and huffed, looking everyone over.  “OK, here’s the deal.  My PR guy says I can mitigate my ‘constant violent and offensive incidents’ by being a teacher here, but don’t expect me to be all sunshine and rainbows.  I’m your Combat Instructor, so I’m gonna work you until you break and then break you some more!  I am the #2 Hero, Bomber King, and you will all do what I say, when I say it!  Got it?!” 

The teacher’s rant was met with a heavy silence from the class.  A handful were intimidated, more were simply put off, and a good number were not reacting at all. 

“…Whatever.  Call me Mr. Bakugo or Mr. Bomber or whatever.  Just don’t give me any sass and this should be painless for all of this.  I may have no experience teaching, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be the best at it.  Now put on your damn costumes!”

“Kyaa~!  Sofia, you look great!”  Sofia blushed at Hanako’s compliment as she finished putting on her hero costume.  In the corner of the changing room was a mirror that she was able to look herself over in.  Her costume was a tight black bodysuit with white gloves, boots, and a short white skirt, a black choker with a cat bell, and a black headband with a pair of cat ears.

“Are you sure it doesn’t look silly?  Maybe the cat ears were too much.”

“No, no, it’s perfect!” 

“Thanks.  I probably just have to get used to it.  Yours looks great too.”

“Aww, thanks,” Hanako replied with a content grin.  Her own costume was a turquoise dress that fell past her knees, brown boots, black tights, and a thick white scarf around her neck.  “I didn’t want nothin’ too flashy.”

“Yeah…”  The feeling of being watched returned to Sofia and she looked into the mirror to try and spot the cause.  As she suspected, Nico was looking her way once again as she finished putting on her own costume.  It was a red shirt with a high white collar, a black utility belt, and black pants with red boots.  On her forearms were large gauntlets that resembled bundles of dynamite wrapped around her arms.  She’s still looking at me like that.  

“Let’s go, let’s go!” she suddenly heard Saiyuki call out.  “Time’s a-wastin’!  Let’s move along!”  After looking around and realizing the other girls had finished changing, Sofia took Hanako’s hand and joined the girls leaving.  “Yo, Sofia, your costume looks great.”

“Thanks.  Yours looks good too, Saiyuki.”  The grinning girl’s costume was a red and green qipao dress, with tight shorts underneath, that left her arms and legs bare.  She also had a scale-patterned domino mask tied with long tails in the knot.  Nearby her, Shizuka slipped into the crowd and silently joined them.  Her costume was a black body suit with a tan jacket and sash around her waist, plus her normal mask over her mouth and nose.

“Shizuka, yours looks so cool!” Hanako complimented, making Shizuka flinch slightly. 

“Thank you, Hanako,” she meekly replied.  Once the girls left the changing rooms, the boys started to emerge from their changing room as well.

“Well, don’t you all look lovely,” Tatsumaki greeted with his trademark boyish smile and charm.  His costume was fairly casual with a white jacket and pants and a black undershirt.  Sofia rolled her eyes and had a small laugh as his attempts to flatter his classmates was mostly ignored or brushed off. 

“Nice try,” she said while passing him by, giving his shoulder a pat.  He followed close behind as she and the rest of the class moved through the halls pf U.A. out to Training Ground Beta, where they found Bakugo waiting at the end of a dark tunnel.

“Alright.  You all don’t look like such weaklings now,” he stated with a smirk.  “I’ll bet wearing that suit makes you feel like a hero, huh?”  Once all 24 students were in front of him, suited up for combat, his smirk gradually became an earnest smile.  “From now on, you’re all heroes-in-training.  Ready to start, newbies?”

“Yes, sir!”

“That’s what I like to hear!”  Bakugo was quick to stifle his grin and motion to an iron door in the tunnel behind the students.  “That there’s the monitor room that everyone not fighting will be going into.  We’re doing Heroes vs Villains today.  It used to be five rounds of two-on-two, but ever since the school increased the class size to 24, it’s been switched to four rounds of three-on-three.  Everyone come up here and draw a lot.”  In the box to Bakugo’s right were lots that each student drew one by one.  Once they were all picked, teams were formed for the coming fights.

Team A: Hanako Shiozaki, Burodo Guren, Nicotsuki Bakugo

Team B: Kaon Kohaku, Katana Shirudo, Kenta Shimizu

Team C: Misao Ningyo, Kozue Eitoku, Makoto Kurokawa

Team D: Shizuka Honenuki, Hoshiko Miryoku, Alexandra Spiteri

Team E: Cortney Tan, Kaiten Jiten, Tatsumaki Kaibara

Team F: Saiyuki Rin, Chance Gendai, Eikisaito Chimoku

Team G: Akira Takahashi, Sofia Monoma, Junyo Onada

Team H: Kimasu Kaguya, Skye Moon, Jodi Copeland

“I’m on a team with Nico?” Hanako murmured anxiously.  “Oh gosh, what else could go wrong?”

“It’ll be fine,” Sofia assured her.  “Just be confident, Hanako.  I know you’re strong enough to beat any opponent.  Even all alone, you’d wipe the floor with whoever you face.”  Thanks to the words of assurance, Hanako was able to calm herself and took a deep breath.

“Yeah, you’re right!  I’ll take on anyone!”

“OK, listen up!  Here’s our first-round participants!” Bakugo yelled.  “The heroes will be Team G: Akira Takahashi, Sofia Monoma, and Junyo Onada!  Villains are Team A: Hanako Shiozaki, Burodo Guren, and Nicotsuki Bakugo!  All of you, step forward!”

“…Wait, whaaaat?!” Hanako cried out.  “You want me to fight Sofia?  You can’t make me do that!”

“I can and will,” Bakugo retorted.  “This’s the situation that you’ve been given and nothing’s changing that, Shiozaki.  If you don’t wanna fallow my orders, then you can get the hell out of my class!”  Hanako whimpered at the scolding and looked to the ground in embarrassment.

“Hey.”  Both her and Sofia jumped when Nico suddenly spoke.  She was looking over at them with a disdainful glare and curled lip.  “What’re you doing over there with the enemy?  You’re not trying to let her copy your Quirk, are you?”

“N-No, I—”  Intimidated by the intense girl, Hanako left Sofia’s side and hurried to her own team.

“Villain team, go inside.  Here’s the directions to the weapon you’re protecting,” Bakugo said while handing his daughter a slip of paper.  “Training starts in 5 minutes.  The rest of you, go to the monitor room.”  As Bakugo led the class away and Nico went inside, Hanako gave Sofia one last sorrowful look.  Nico also turned back slightly, aiming a frown at her.

What is with that girl? Sofia wondered. 

“So, uh, what was that all about?”  Her attention shifted when she heard one of her teammates coming up behind her.

“O-Oh, nothing, nothing.  Hanako’s just kind of emotional and I don’t think her and Nico get along,” Sofia quickly explained.  Her teammate furrowed her brow, but shrugged and put the topic aside.

“Whatever.  Name’s Akira Takahashi from Hokkaido.”  The girl put her hand out to Sofia and smiled earnestly.  She was tall with an athletic body and spiky brown hair brought into a bushy ponytail.  Her costume was a short gi with a furry hood hanging over her back and a black domino mask.  Over her arms and legs were sleeves made of crisscrossed sashes and on her feet were furry black boots.  “You’re Sofia, right?  Good to meet’cha.”

“Same to you,” Sofia greeted with a quick handshake.  Takahashi pulled away and put her hands on her hips while turning her head towards the final team member loitering further away. 

“What about you, huh?  Quit skulking over there.” The team member was a short and wiry boy with black hair and glasses.  His costume was very simplistic with only a blue body suit, black boots, a dark blue cloak, and a Bo staff.  “What’s your name, guy?”

“Junyo Onada,” he revealed while walking closer, soon turning his attention to Sofia.  “You’re Phantom Thief’s kid, yeah?  Battle Fist too?  The name sounds familiar.”

“I am, yes,” Sofia confirmed.  “If you know that, then you should be familiar with my Quirk.”

“Yeah.”  Onada’s voice was terse and more than a bit confrontational, matching his squinted, judgmental stare.  “Listen, can you tell me now if you’re taking this seriously?

“Excuse me?”

“If you’re just here to be like your daddy, then you might as well bail now,” Onada stated.  “People can only win with conviction, and if you have a flimsy one like ‘oh, I wanna follow in my dad’s footsteps,’ then this isn’t gonna work out between us.”

“How forward,” Sofia responded with an irritated tone.  “In fact, I do want to be my parents.  They’re both exceptional heroes – the best, actually – so, I am here to be like them, and to answer your question, I am taking this seriously.”  Onada still looked perturbed, but before he could try speaking again, Takahashi got between them. 

“OK, talking about this is letting us nowhere, so let’s quit wasting time.”  The two students were forcibly separated by her and she turned to face Sofia.  “If you’ll be copying our Quirks, then I’ll explain mine to you.”

“Please do, Takahashi.”  The taller girl held out her arm and rolled up her sleeve to show its transformation, growing out several curved blades along the sides. 

“It’s called Shichishitou.  I get blades along my arm like the sword it’s named after.  You’ll probably have to roll up your suit’s sleeves if you use it.  Onada, your turn.  Show her your Quirk.”

“it’s nothing fancy like that.  Mine’s called Delayed Punishment.  Basically, if it’s active, my body doesn’t take damage, but once I turn it off, I get hit with all the damage I took all at once.  It’s not something you’d wanna use if you’re not ready to handle it all, and you kinda need fighting skills to go with it.  You can fight, right?”

“I can,” Sofia assured him with an aside glance, “and if you’re OK with my using it, it’d be very helpful.  I have a strong feeling that Nico will be gunning for me.”

Hanako sat on the floor and sulked, pursing her lips in indignation, as Nico laid out their strategy with no room for interruption.  “That’s the plan and we’re sticking to it.  Any questions?  No?  Good.”

“I have one,” Hanako finally said.  “Who put you in charge?”  Nico froze up and turned her glare to Hanako. 

“Did you have any strategies of your own?”

“No, but—”

“Then shut it!”

“Why’re you so mean!?” Hanako shouted, rising to her feet.  “You’ve always been so bossy an-and you shout all the time and—”  Her rant was cut short when Nico grabbed the collar of her dress and pulled her close.  Her pupils had shrunken to needlepoints and her sharp teeth gnashed together. 

“What the hell do you think bein’ a hero is like, huh!?  You gotta be tough!  If you go into this fight so carefree and empty-headed, you’re gonna lose and drag me down with you!  I ain’t havin’ that!  If you try and hold back on your little girlfriend, I’ll kick the shit out of you!”

“COOL IT!”  Nico’s tirade ended when the final member of their team, Burodo Guren, shouted and stuck his arm between their faces.  Nico let go of Hanako and backed away, letting Hanako breathe easy again.

“Thank you,” she said to the boy.  His skin was paper white in a way that made his veins pop out on his arms, and his face seem permanently red and flushed.  He was a bit shorter than both girls, but was far and away more muscular and stocky.  His teeth were bared in a grin, showing he was missing a tooth, and his short black hair fell above his beady brown eyes. 

“If you both really wanna win, you gotta work together.  The plan is fine, but next time, you’ve gotta be open to suggestions.”

“Why?  The plan’s fine!”

“And what if she had a better one?”

“She didn’t!”  Guren rolled his eyes sighed at Nico, infuriating her further.  Before the argument could continue, a horn blared from outside, signaling the beginning of the game.  Without saying a word to her teammates, Nico left the room in a huff.

“Geez.  When I heard Red Riot and Bomber King’s daughter would be in my class, this is not what I expected,” Guren said.  “What crawled up her ass?”

“Whatever it is, it’s been there since we were kids,” Hanako replied.  “I should get going, though.  If you need, call and one of us will come protect the weapon with you.”

“Sounds good.”

“I’ll take point,” Onada stated before Takahashi strode past him. 

“Cute.  I’ll take point.”

“Wait, I’ll do it,” Sofia said while slipping by.  Onada tried moving ahead again, followed by Takahashi, and then Sofia again.  This continued on for a good while until Onada simply ran up the stairs to the second floor when Sofia and Takahashi were getting sick of the argument.

“All clear so far,” Onada reported.  Now on the second floor, the heroes searched for their opponents and became suspicious at the silence.  Without having to speak, they all came to the same conclusion that someone should’ve attacked by then.  Sofia was preparing to say they should move on when something caught the corner of her eye down the hall.

“A… bubble?”  At the end of the hall was a giant bubble that slowly but surely made progress towards them.

“Must be one of their Quirks,” Onada guessed, “Which also means someone’s probably waiting to ambush us at the other end of this hallway.”

“We’re not making any progress sitting here,” Takahashi said quietly.  “Let’s just rush whoever’s waiting for us.”  Sofia and Onada nodded and they crept down the hall while still watching the strange bubble following them.  Finally, when they reached the turn, they jumped around the corner in fighting stances, only to find Hanako already attacking.

“Lockdown!”  Her silver hair had lengthened greatly and rushed forward towards the opposing team.  Onada and Sofia jumped back to try avoiding capture, but Takahashi jumped headfirst into battle with a grin.  Her arms grew out their distinct seven blades and slashed through the hair, cutting the attack short.

“Hope you don’t mind a close shave.”

“DIE!”  From the hallway the hero team had come from, Nico burst onto the scene, propelling herself with small explosions form her hands.  Once she landed, she aimed them at Takahashi, and by extension, Hanako.

“WAIT!”  Ignoring Hanako’s plea, Nico unleashed a furious explosion on her and Takahashi.  Sofia gasped in surprise and momentarily forgot to act.  This gave Nico the chance to grab her wrist and fling her down the hall.  Sofia saw in her mid-air tumble she was on a collision course for the bubble and decided to activate Onada’s Quirk for protection.  Before she could crash, into it, Onada’s staff flew through it, making it prematurely explode in a bright flash.  Sofia was nocked by the force and landed in a heap on the ground, but she was quick to spring to her feet.

“Don’t expect any more help,” Onada told her.  Now back upright, Sofia saw Takahashi and Hanako were both getting back up as well. 

“What was that?” she asked Nico.  “You attacked your own teammate.”

“That was the plan.  She said she could protect herself with her Quirk.  If she wasn’t ready in time, that’s her fault.” 

“That’s pretty damn cold,” Takahashi snarled.  “You’re really taking the villain role to heart.”

“Shut the hell up!  Hanako, if you can’t even keep up with our first plan, then go be useless in front of the weapon!  I ain’t babysitting you!”  At this point, Nico’s verbal assault was too much for Hanako to talk back to and she complied without a word.  Onada and Takahashi glared at Nico while Sofia watched Hanako’s retreat.  “Now, let’s get this going.  I’ll kick the shit out of all three of you!”

“This isn’t the type of passion a hero needs,” Onada declared after collecting his staff again.

“That’s something we can agree on,” Takahashi added while cracking her knuckles.  “Sofia, you ready?”

“…I know it’s selfish of me to ask, but I’d like a favor from your two.”  Sofia rose her head and looked straight at Nico, despite addressing her teammates.  “The weapon is of higher priority, and I think you two would be better suited for that important task.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask… that you leave Nico to me.  I’ll keep her occupied while you follow Hanako back to the weapon.”

“…If we let you, you better not go down immediately,” Onada warned.  “I don’t want to pick up after some legacy student’s mess.”

“You won’t have to.”

“Fine by me,” Takahashi told her.  “Onada, let’s go.”

“Like I’d let you!” Nico screamed as she rushed at Takahashi with her palms sending out explosions.  Sofia dove forward and landed a body check, making Nico falter long enough for Onada to pass by and start running with Takahashi.  “Dammit, just die!”  Sofia was blow back by another explosion, but she was able to recover quickly.  “You shouldn’t have decided to fight me alone.  A weak little thing like you is nothing to me!  I could crush you in an instant, but you’ve always fought back!”

“So, that’s what those stares have been about?  You’re bitter about how I’ve never submitted to your insane bossiness?”

“I’ll make you eat those words.”  Form Nico’s palms, small bubbles began to form and float outward, blocking off the paths past her.  “I’ll turn this place into a minefield and blow you to hell!”

“Then I’ll have to do the same!  Now that I’ve got your power, I’ll use it to defeat you!”


Chapter Text

“THEN BRING IT!”  Nico’s call for battle was met with silence and stillness form Sofia, who kept her eyes on the explosive bubbles all around her.  “WELL?!”

These will explode on contact, Sofia thought, but that means Nico can’t come closer without hurting herself.  Thinking herself safe for at least a moment, Sofia tried to find an opening through the bubbles.  There!  Activating Onada’s Quirk just in case, Sofia ducked through a clearing towards Nico. 

“Fuck off!”  Nico tried for a sweeping kick at Sofia, making sure to avoid her own bubble mines, but Sofia slipped through and found herself safe on Nico’s other side. 

Now, I’ll switch to her Quirk and blow her into her own minefield!  Switching from Onada’s Quirk, Sofia pushed her hands forward to attack, but Nico was too Quick.  She lunged forward and set off a mighty explosion into Sofia’s stomach, throwing her down the hall.  When she landed, she was curled up and coughing for air.

“You were out of your depths trying to take me on alone,” Nico told her while stomping down the hall.  “Sit still and I’ll get this over fast.”

“I won’t.”  Sofia rose to her feet and switched Quirks again, going back to Onada’s.  It was foolish to think I could withstand her attacks or outspeed her.  I’ll have to switch tactics.  Onada warned me about his Quirk, but it’s my only shot for getting by for now.  Sofia put her hands up and flicked her fingers, making her gloves eject claws from the fingertips. 

“You think little nails are gonna do anything?!”  Nico was practically laughing at this point and charged headlong at Sofia with her arm cocked to attack.  An explosion went off as her arm ripped through the air, sending a wave of destruction forward.  However, Sofia was gone just in time to avoid it.  She had pounced around Nico’s left side and slashed her cat claws across her arm.  “Shit!”

Now!  With this opening, Sofia turned around and put her palms to the back of Nico’s shoulders and let off the strongest explosions she could muster.  The power behind it blew her off her feet, but Nico was also thrown forward, landing on her hands and knees. 

“You bitch.”  Nico’s seething growl was accompanied by her pushing herself onto all fours like an animal in the jungle.  “You think you can beat me with my own Quirk?”  She craned her neck and glared at Sofia, sending a chill through the copycat’s spine.  “I’ll kill you.”

“I’m hearing booms,” Onada said as he and Takahashi ran through the top floor.

“Good booms or bad booms?” Takahashi asked.

“Well, two legacy kids are hurting each other, so either way, I’d say it’s good booms.”

“…You got some issues, man.”

“Yeah, but they’re my issues to have.”

“…Fair enough.  I can dig that.”  They turned another corner to keep following Hanako, but instead of continuing to run, she had turned around to face them further down the hall.  By her side was her last teammate, Guren, and far down in the final room, they could see the weapon.  “That was a quick search.  All we’ve gotta do is break through.”

“Easier said than done,” Guren called out.  “We won’t let you past us!  Right, Shiozaki?!”

“That’s right.”  Hanako clasped her hands together, as if she was praying, and her silver locks began to move again, fanning out and growing longer.  “My iron locks won’t fail this time.”

It seemed like you could counter her pretty well, so I guess you can take her,” Onada said to his teammate.  “Dammit.  Three different legacy students in my round and I can’t beat up a single one.”

“Look’t you, making the big sacrifices,” Takahashi deadpanned.  “Careful of that short dude.  He looks like he can throw a good punch.”

“That’s fine.  I can take a good punch.”  Onada shot forward in a sprint, and once Takahashi’s arm blades sprouted back into place, she followed him close behind.  Hanako made the first attack and sent her hair forward.  Onada seemed to rush straight at the locks, but at the last second, he pressed the tip of his staff into the floor and vaulted over his opponents.

“I’ve got him!” Guren called out.  With only one opponent left in front of her, Hanako moved her hair to entangle Takahashi’s legs.  With a smirk, the swordswomen slashed away the hair and went for a slash.

“We’re done here!”  Takahashi swung her arm, but to her surprise, the attack was stopped by some of Hanako’s hair.  “What the—”

“Binding my foes isn’t my only trick,” Hanako revealed.  “If I will it, my hair becomes hard as iron.”

Hanako Shiozaki.  Quirk: Metal Fibers.  She can freely manipulate her hair, including lengthening it at will and stiffen it to a metal-like hardness.

“Crap!”  With her attack prematurely ended, Takahashi was left open to an attack and Hanako’s hair was sent to wrap around her body.  Criss-crossing through the blades, Takahashi wound up constricted and hung in the air.

“I’ve got more tricks up my sleeve, but like you said, we’re done here.”  Hanako smiled up at her opponent with a competitive glint in her eyes.

“Not so innocent after all, eh?”  Takahashi momentarily stopped squirming, and after taking a deep breath, she suddenly slashed her arms to the side, slicing a few strands of hair.  From there, she used the loosened grip to cut more hair until she finally dropped back to the floor.  She dashed at Hanako to attack, but once again, her hair hardened to block the attack. 

“I won’t let you past me.”

“Goddamn!”  Another slash of Sofia’s claws hit Nico’s arm, drawing more blood from her.  “You’re fucking DEAD!”  She set off another explosion, but Sofia dove away in time to avoid it.

Just I thought, Sofia thought.  If her arms are injured, she can’t take the recoil from her explosions as much.  If I just keep hurting her arms, she’ll become weak enough for me to overpower eventually.  The two girls were left in a heated staredown with Sofia assuming another violent attack was coming.  Instead, Nico held her arm up slowly and reached for one of the dynamite sticks on her gauntlet.  Pulling the cord on the back, the front end flipped open and Sofia saw a bright light.

“Burn up and die!”  From her gauntlet, a fiery stream of fire erupted down the hall.  Sofia nearly froze up, but she regained her wits in time to drop to the floor and activate Onada’s Quirk.  The long-rang explosion passed her by, but she could see that the walls were singed from the power.  “Want another?” Nico prodded while reaching for another stick.

Is she really trying to kill me?!

“Is she really trying to kill her?” a boy in a hazmat suit wondered.

“Isn’t this the part where you stop them, Mr. Bakugo?” a girl with star-shaped irises asked.

“Those gauntlets were tested and the blasts are non-lethal,” Bakugo told the class.  “If Monoma gets hit directly, it’ll knock her unconscious at worst.  Now quit worrying!”

“I’m starting to see a pattern here,” a yellow-eyes boy noted smarmily.  “Is it genetics on you part or does everyone with an explosive Quirk have an equal temper?”

“Cram it!”

“Damn.  And I just got it today.”  Onada picked himself up off the ground and frowned at his bodysuit’s new red color.  “How’re you not dead yet?  That’s a lot of blood loss.”

“Don’t you worry about that,” Guren told him while sauntering into the room he had knocked Onada into.  “Just worry about all the bones this next attack is gonna break.”

“We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?”  As Onada pushed off to attack, Guren held his right palm forward.  From it, a stream of blood shot out at an extreme speed that Onada just barely dodged. 

“Crimson Hose!”

Burodo Guren.  Quirk: Blood Bag.  His body can produce tons of extra blood that he can fire at high velocities from his skin.

“I’ll have to push through!”  Onada dipped underneath the hose again, closing the distance until he and Guren were close enough to touch.  Onada shoved his shoulder into Guren’s hand, making the blood spray outwards and creating a screen of red between the two.  Having lost sight of their opponent, both sides began to throw wild punches at the other.

“Go down, dammit!”

“Ha!  Fuck no!”  With his Quirk letting him fight without worry, Onada eventually broke through with an uppercut and escaped the room.  Turning his head, he saw Takahashi still battling Hanako, surrounding by fallen hair strands.  Just as he turned to leave for the weapon, Hanako noticed him behind her and sent her hair to capture him.

“Lockdown!”  As the hair flew at him, Takahashi dashed around and sliced up the strands stylishly. 

“Keep on movin’, Onada!  I’ll cover you!”

“Right!”  Onada turned to run ahead, but once again found Guren in his path.  A blast of blood came, but Onada ran by and snapped his staff at Guren’s head.  Now closer, the boys began another exchange of punches, while behind him, Takahashi prepared to attack again.

“I finally got your power figured out,” she claimed.  “As long as your hair is moving, you can’t harden it and I can cut it.”

“You’ve noticed.  Alright then.”  Hanako’s hair splayed out again, putting Takahashi at the ready to slash, but instead of attacking her, the hair wrapped around Hanako herself.  Her limbs were wrapped around with hair, which hardened into a spiky covering.  “In that case, you won’t have any opportunities to slash through anymore.  Not while I’m protected by my Iron Maiden Jacket.”

“Y’know, I’m surprised you’re getting so serious It’s impressive,” Takahashi complimented.  “Your behavior before made me think you’d be childish all the way through, but I’m glad we could battle like this.  If you weren’t so tight with that Sofia girl, I might’ve just picked you up and carried you off for myself.”  Hanako began to walk forward, punching her armored fist together, while Takahashi clinked her blades together.  “Oh well.  Guess I’ll settle for the win.”

“You’re pretty damn eager to die!”  Pulling another string, Nico unleashes another blast down the hallway.  Not bothering to stop, Sofia ducked down in the corner to minimize the damage to her and pressed on, ignoring the pains in her sides.

Now that the time limit’s run out, I can’t count on Onada’s Quirk.  Whatever hits I take will be in full, but still, I will beat her.  Nico pointed her gauntlet again, this time aiming to corner Sofia and leave her win no exit.  However, once the string was pulled, Sofia activated her remaining copied Quirk – Nico’s.  She blasted herself into the air, letting the blast pass underneath her and landing in front of Nico.

“What the—”  With no hesitation, Sofia shoved her palms into Nico’s stomach and unleashed the strongest explosion she could muster.  Having no time to brace herself, Nico was blown off her feet and flew down the hallway.

I have to get her to that one place, Sofia told herself.  That’s my chance of ending this for good!  She watched Nico put her hands out and use her own explosions to slow her momentum and land, injured but still standing.

“You little bitch.”  Sofia raised her hands to attack again, but Nico dove forward and grabbed her, locking her arm in with a bear hug and lifting her off the ground.  “Think you can beat me with my own Quirk?!  HUH?!”  On her back, Sofia felt a sudden heat and then a burst of pain.

“A-AH!”  Nico set off a strong of small explosions on her, leaving Sofia stuck with her legs kicking feebly, struggling in her embrace. 

“Don’t get so whiny.  This is nothing compared to what my dad does to real villains.  Be thankful I won’t just blast you to pieces!  BUT I WILL MAKE YOU TASTE HELL, SOFIAAA!”

“Uuuuuurgh…” Sofia bit her lip as the explosions continued, trying to find a way to escape the grasp and enact the plan she had thought of.  After a bit of wriggling, her hands were mobile enough for her to reach up to Nico’s chin and push up on it, forcing her head back.  The loss of balance and control made Nico’s grip falter for long enough for Sofia to finally escape, leaving the girls separated again.

“Why you!”  Nico prepared her arm to swing forward, but Sofia moved quickly and pressed her palms against Nico’s shoulders, sending her skidding back with a pair of explosions.

“Finally, we’re here,’ Sofia mumbled while holding her back, feeling the burns on her costume.  “You haven’t even noticed, have you, Nico?”

“Notice what?” she snarled once she finally stopped herself.

“Then I was right.”  As she spoke, Sofia produced more explosive soap from her palms and flicked them forward, spreading out the soap on the floor.  “They’ve all floated to the ground by now.  Your explosive bubbles.”

“My—”  Nico cut herself off and looked back to see she was precariously close to her bubbles, now sitting on the floor like landmines.  Her eyes then followed a trail to soap back to Sofia, who crouched down. 

“And now, you can’t even run.  How sad, Nicotsuki Bakugo.”

“SAD FOR Y—”  Sofia made a spark in her palms on the soapy floor, making the liquid burn up and bring the reaction to the bubbles.  In an instant, there was a flash of light that blinded Sofia, a boom that deafened her, and a shockwave that knocked her back, but still, she had a smile on her face.

I did it.  Her strength… I made it my own.

“Hurry it up, Onada!”  Panting heavily, Takahashi slashed at Hanako again, but against the iron-like hair, she couldn’t make any headway. 

“Lockdown!”  From her Iron Maiden Jacket, Hanako quickly unraveled her hair and wrapped up her exhausted opponent. 

“Seriously, I’m done for!  Get the weapon now!”

At the end of the hallway, Onada was brawling with Guren at the doorway leading to the weapon.  “I’m a little busy here!”  Taking a quick look to see Hanako approaching, slowed by the weight of her captive, Onada made his move to push Guren back.  He shot his fist into his hard stomach and used all his strength to push him back just enough to make an opening in the doorway.

“Blood Burst!”  Just as Onada moved to enter, he was blown into the wall by Guren’s attack.  The red-faced competitor cracked his knuckles and approached for what he was hoping would be the final blow.  “Looks like this round’s ours!  That huge explosion must’ve been Nico finishing off your last teammate and Hanako’s got your other!”

“So what?  I’ve got the weapon on my sights, so it’s still my game to win!”   Onada shoved his staff into the ground and pushed off, trying to go over Guren again.

“Pole-vaulting again?  I don’t think so!”  Guren blasted the pole away with his blood again and readied himself to attack when Onada fell.  Instead of a disoriented and fumbling opponent, though, he saw Onada somersaulting in the air.

“You feel for it!”  Sticking out his leg, Onada hit Guren’s head with an axe kick and then pushed off his head.  Just as he saw Hanako finally enter the room, Onada opened his arms and grabbed the weapon.  “Captured!”


“Darn it.”

“Hell yeah!”

“The weapon has been captured!” Sofia heard over the loudspeakers after a horn blare made her ears continue ringing.  “The hero team wins!”

“Yes!” Sofia cheered, picking her arms up in victory despite sitting on the floor.  The movement made her wince, but she still had a satisfied grin on her face. 

“…Dammit.”  On the floor nearby, she saw Nico still lying face down, where she had been after the final blast of their fight.  “What… the hell?”

Disappointed, eh?  Sofia grinned impishly as she imagined the tantrum Nico would be having if her body was able enough.  Go ahead and grumble.  I guess my drive outweighed yours.

“What… did I… do wrong?  I was…”  As Sofia watched and listened, something odd about Nico came to light.  She had assumed the shaking was due to either an effort to move or from rage, but that assumption changed when Sofia saw water starting to pool on the floor under her face.  “I wanted to be… just like you…  Dad… what did I do wrong?”

What?  Though she felt uncomfortable doing so, Sofia continued to listen, intrigued about what she saw from Nico.

“What did I do… that wasn’t like what you do?”  Finally moving a little, Nico moved her hand up to her face and covered it, letting tears drip through her fingers.  Sofia didn’t know what speaking would do, so she remained silent, letting her plans to gloat a little drift away.

Now it’s starting to make sense.