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Just as Expected

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The hull of the downed spaceship burst open, revealing a bald human in a ragged, yellow costume with a dirtied cape and scarlet gloves.  As the sun’s rays shone off his head, he looked around as if trying to recognize his surroundings.

“Oh, I’m out.”

“Hey!  Why would a B-class like you be inside the ship?”

Saitama looked up, spotting a green-haired woman in an odd, billowing dress descending from the sky towards him.  He quickly recognized her as the crabby girl from the S-class meeting earlier; what was her name?  Briefly recollecting the events of the day, he struggled to recall her exact identity.  

Where was he?

“Sensei!” 

The bald hero turned his head the other way, spotting a blond-haired cyborg running across the ruins of City A towards him.  The blank expression on his face turned into one of delight as he recognized who it was, and called out, “Hey, Genos!  We’re done here. Let’s go.”

“Did you defeat their leader?”

“Yeah, he was really strong. Maybe the strongest I’ve faced.”

“I see...” the cyborg replied as he and Saitama began walking away from the ruins of the ship, paying no attention to the floating child above them as they continued their conversation.  As their voices began to fade away, it dawned upon her that her question remained unanswered.

Are they ignoring me?

Ignoring her—Tatsumaki, the Terrible Tornado, S-class Rank 2, the most powerful ESPer on the planet and the trump card of the Hero Association? Who were they to simply disregard her, the young upstart and the baldy? And how in the world had a mere B-class made it aboard the vessel? Had he brought down the ship?  At the mere thought of such outrageous and downright impossible possibilities, the woman lost it.

“...turns out you can’t trust prophecies to begin with—”

“Hold it right there!”

Genos and Saitama halted.

“I don’t know how you did it, but you went there on your own? You’re just a Class B! How dare you butt in like that? I didn’t need you, I could have handled it on my own! Baldy! Octopus! Boiled egg! Light bulb! Avocado!”

The two heroes stared at the ESPer with no small amount of irritation as a stream of insults came pouring out in their general direction.  Saitama nudged Genos. “G-Genos, say something.”

“Yes, sir,” Genos quickly responded, his exhaust fins flying open and plasma cannons streaming out, all bearing down on the woman. “Listen here, spoiled brat!  Shut up and get lost, or get beat down!”

“That’s it, yeah—”

The plasma batteries whined to a ridiculously high pitch when the cyborg was suddenly enveloped in a green light.  Before he or Saitama could respond, Genos found himself being hurled off his feet, crashing on a large concrete boulder with a loud, sickening crunch.  His bald companion looked at his companion, embedded on the wall, in horror: “G-Genos?!”

Tatsumaki glowed green in the sun, her right arm outstretched and a frightening glare upon her face.  “Unforgivable. Me, a brat? I’m older than you!  You’re next, Class B!”

Another voice yelled from behind the ESPer, an old and elderly voice: “Cut it out, Tornado—”

But before the voice could continue, its owner was yanked off his feet and flung off from sight in a similar green light.  “Don’t interrupt me!” the ESPer yelled, barely moving a finger.  Her eyes focused on the baldy’s shining head and widened, bringing her formidable psychic power to bear on the insignificant human that he was.

Saitama felt himself slowly float up from the ground.  “Oh look, I’m floating.”

Tatsumaki squinted and strained in frustration. Why was he so difficult to lift? At the amount of power she was using, a regular human would have already been yanked off into outer space.  Maybe an additional boost would do the trick...

The B class was suddenly pushed back but quickly regained his footing, forcing himself back into an upright posture despite the blasts of wind buffeting past him.  Raising his hand to his face to block out all the debris flying at him, he yelled, “What’s your problem, anyway? We’re already done here, midget!”

Midget?!

“M-midget? You call me a midget, then you call me a brat? And you think you can simply walk away and ignore me, baldy?!”

Tatsumaki’s eyes twitched, and with a great roar every rock and boulder within a mile of her broke free from the ground, swirling around her in a colossal funnel of wind.  The wreckage then shifted to flank her rear, allowing Tatsumaki to get one last glimpse of her opponent’s face before she released her deadly payload.  

Yet instead of the usual expression of terror at the sheer power on display, the baldy simply stood there with an infuriatingly blank stare.  Is he not taking me seriously? Then here’s something to remind him of who he’s dealing with!

She lowered her hand, and an entire avalanche of rubble came soaring towards him. Tatsumaki had only the time to see his right hand clench to a fist and rise before the whole fusillade landed on him with a deafening crash, obscuring her vision with a rising cloud of dust.  The ESPer smirked. 

“Let that be a lesson to you!” she taunted. “Nobody ignores me when—”

“No need to shout, I’m right over here,” replied a vaguely annoyed voice from behind her.

Tatsumaki whirled round.  H-how the f—

Before she could complete her thought, Saitama’s hand connected with her head as if performing a karate chop.  It wasn’t as strong as an actual chop, and way milder than his normal punches; technically, it was more of a friendly tap on the shoulder for her attention.  Not enough to outright dispatch her—that would mean a lot more trouble than Saitama wanted to deal with right now—but just enough to negate her abilities.

For all Tatsumaki cared, he might as well have dropped an oil tanker on her.  

The ESPer found herself hurtling downwards at supersonic speeds, before face planting onto the ground with a loud thud.  Saitama cringed at the sight.

Crap, looks like I used too much force there, the hero thought as he landed on the ground in a somewhat more dignified manner.  Oh, well; better check up on Genos and the old man, then. 

With his regular placid expression, he began pacing his way towards the boulder where his disciple was still embedded when a noise behind him disturbed his thoughts.  He turned around.

“Y-y-you utter egghead…”

To his surprise, the little girl was still capable of standing on her feet despite the copious scratches and blood trickling down her face and legs.  Rising from the earth, her glowing lichen light in her hair and eyes screamed cold-blooded murder, and a delirious sneer curved across her lips to reveal two rows of shining, jagged teeth.  Her pale and deathlike face—not too long ago marked by the blemish on her pink cheeks and her smooth, spotless skin—was now contorted into a landscape of valleys and mountains, the countless veins bulging as if barely holding the sheer, utter, impotent, primal fury within.  But her childish, nagging tone was gone, replaced with a calm, soothing voice heard only in abandoned buildings and ancient wells:

“So you seriously think you can stand up to an S-class like me?”

Saitama felt himself faintly vibrating, and looked around in curiosity.  “Oh yeah, sorry about that.  Is this you?”

Tornado’s manic grin widened.  “Who else do you think is going to enjoy your slow and painful death?”

The ground beneath the bald hero’s feet cracked, and he fell into the rapidly widening crater below him, leaving his head protruding from the ground.  His placid appearance remained unchanged, and the smile of the ESPer’s face twisted into a grunt of effort.  How the hell was this baldy still alive?

Even while he continued to vibrate back and forth like a plant during an earthquake, the B-class kept his blasé stare at the S-class ESPer.   “A-a-a-a-a-r-e w-e-e-e d-o-n-n-e h-e-e-e-e-r-e?”

Tatsumaki’s eyes widened in incredulity.  He still wasn’t taking her seriously?! 

“The fu—”

As if nothing was happening, he rose from the rubble and began nonchalantly dusting himself.

“The fu—?

Several voices were calling out to her from her periphery, but she had already passed the point of no return; the rest of the Hero Association’s protests reverberated across her mind unnoticed or unacknowledged as she summoned her powers for a final, ultimate maneuver saved only for the most ferocious and grueling monsters she had ever faced.

In the blink of an eye, all matter in a sphere roughly half a kilometre in size was compressed into a single, spherical point the size of a football.  The baldy’s flesh and bones would have been mashed into a heaping, bloody mess before being crushed by the rubble and nearby wreckage.  At such close distances, the atoms that made up the rocks, the metals, and whatever remained of the hero would fuse, releasing a gigantic amount of energy—enough to finish what the alien invaders had failed to accomplish.  Of course, Tatsumaki accounted for such a drastic action; some minor adjustments to her manipulations would focus the energy into a narrow beam, firing it towards an unsuspecting beast or—in this instance—harmlessly into space.  She shifted her hands and slowly sunk back down to the ground, smirking to herself as she exulted in her quick victory.

Knowing the atomizing baldy wouldn’t be able to hear her, she taunted regardlessly: “Maybe now you’ll take me—”

As the spheroidal space imploded, Saitama’s bored expression was replaced by an unnerving smile that finely captured the distinct features of his face.  Before the ball of fire obscured Tornado’s vision, he unexpectedly vanished.

“—seriously, baldy—”

The bright flare of the explosion was unexpectedly obscured, and in the brief microseconds it took for the ESPer to react she realized she was staring at the face of certain doom: the entire fusilload of plasma from the explosion had been funnelled into a single point—a red fist hurtling towards the space between her eyes at roughly the speed of light.   No amount of psychic barriers would ever stand a chance against a force of her own making; Tatsumaki squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the end.  

But she never felt the impact of his rubber gloves on her face; at the last second, the baldy’s fist swerved sharply to her left.  A painful, rushing burst of heat screamed past her ear for what felt like an eternity.  

A heavy silence fell, and the ESPer risked opening her eyes for a glance.

He missed?

She found herself staring at Saitama’s yellow sleeves.  Somehow, the already tattered costume had inexplicably managed to survive the blast unscathed; its wearer was glaring at his assailant with a ferocious glower that sent a shiver down Tatsumaki’s spine.  The exceedingly powerful hero moved his outstretched arm, and Tatsumaki squeezed her eyes shut in terror—

—as Saitama patted her hair affectionately, his semi-cognizant state of existence returning.  Tornado opened her eyes and stared at him in confusion.

“Little kids shouldn’t fight.  We’re done here; you should go back home to your parents.”

W-what?! She may have been partly dazed, but she still knew damn well who he meant by “little kid.”  She spluttered, “I-I’m not a little kid!  Come back here and finish the job!  Why did you miss that simple shot? Are you trying to make a point here?”

“I-I think he already did, Tornado,” replied a voice from the side.  

Tatsumaki turned, and realized an uninjured Bang was standing right beside her, staring in shock at something behind her.  Beside him, several other S-class heroes surrounded Tornado’s handiwork and now shared the same flabbergasted expressions on their faces.  The stalk of grain Atomic Samurai had been chewing on for the past few hours had fallen out of his mouth, while Pig God’s jaw lay wider open than the largest Demon-level monster he had ever consumed on record.  Metal Bat’s implement lay rolling on the ground, forgotten by its owner, while the King Engine tolled deafeningly and unceasingly.  Frowning in irritation, Tornado turned around to see what they were looking at; her eyes widened in response.

The downed spaceship had been cleanly bisected by the sheer force of Saitama’s Serious Punch; where there was previously burning wreckage, the entire S-class now stared at a colossal valley devoid of debris.  A single, ominous line threaded from the ESPer and through the canyon towards the distant mountains; if she wasn’t mistaken, even the range itself hadn’t been spared the wrath of the B-class’s punch.

No wonder the baldy kept ignoring her; through sheer power alone, he was ranked far beyond even the top heroes if the Hero Association.  If he ever chose to become evil...

Saitama walked towards the boulder Genos was still embedded in.  “Hey, are you alright?  Here, I’ll help you get out.”

With a metallic groan and crunch, Saitama accidentally yanked the cyborg’s arm off.

“Oops. Sorry, Genos.”