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That Lonely Star (My Hero Academia/Exalted)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by QafianSage, May 18, 2019.

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  1. Index: 1: Exaltation and Aftermath
    QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    1: Exaltation and Aftermath

    The sludge villain shifts and squishes between Izuku’s fingers, but he claws at him nonetheless. The heat of the fires around licks at his skin. He can see the fear in Kacchan’s red eyes, and that terrifies him. Kacchan isn’t scared of anyone. He’s going to be a hero. He’s going to be great. He can’t die here.

    Izuku won’t let him.

    He yells and dives back in, pulling away clumps of the villain, but there’s always more, more, more-

    He stands on a plain of black, beneath a sky of black, but before him there is a man of fire, four-armed and armored like a warrior. He is twice as tall as Izuku, and burns with the light of the noonday sun. It’s like standing in front of a fire; the wash of heat and power over him seeming to lift him up and push him down at once - but no, it’s not pushing him down, it’s just that he’s never felt this small before. It’s like looking up at a skyscraper and craning your head to see the top.


    “You in a distant world, you, who wish to be a hero, hear me.

    “I am Sol Invictus, King of Heaven and Father of Morning, and you shall be my herald.”
    “Wh-what?”

    The man’s face seems to soften somehow, though Izuku isn’t really sure how he can tell that through all the light.

    “You are young, even by the reckoning of mortals. The gift I give you is a mighty one, though it will nevertheless be a great burden.”
    A hand like a solar prominence descends on each of the young boy’s shoulders, and he feels warm all the way from his toes to the tips of his hair, warm and safe.

    “You will question whether you are worthy of the power you have been granted.

    “You are not. You could not be. I could not be. No-one could.

    “And so we, both of us, must do our best to use our power well, and perhaps live up to the responsibilities that have been imparted to us.”

    Izuku feels something settle in his chest, somewhere behind his heart. Something like heat, or like light, or like a miracle.

    “Go forth, my Chosen, and bring righteousness to your world.”
    And Izuku’s hand finds something solid - Kacchan’s arm; that’s his shoulder - and grips. He feels like his veins are full of lightning, like his heart is the sun. The light has followed him back. It burns behind him, above him, within him, and the mound of muck seems to retreat from him, relinquishing its hold on Kacchan just that little bit.

    It’s all he needs. His muscles burn with light, and he pulls. The sludge villain resists, sending out grasping tendrils of muck to drag Kacchan back in. Izuku refuses, and white-gold fire dances along his arm as he heaves - and Kacchan is free, toppling to cough on hands and knees against the tarmac.

    “What the fucking-” the light-haired boy starts, but Izuku ignores him, stepping forward and placing himself between his friend and the villain, now a cowering pile of muck on the floor.

    “You tried to kill my friend. You tried to kill me earlier,” he begins, and the light is still burning through him, an unstoppable tide pulling him upright, teaching him how to stand and speak to command respect, to project invincibility, to personify glory and terror despite his height and age. The sludge villain shrinks back, blowing himself up like a putrid bubble like he’s trying to look bigger than he is. For a moment, Izuku’s heart trembles, but then the light takes hold of it, bringing it into the pillar of strength that is the whole of him now.

    “You disgust me.”

    The words fall like hammer-blows, like avalanches, like the weight of the tide upon the shore. “Why? What reason did you have? Fear?”

    The villain seems to crumple beneath the boy’s words. Newscasts run through his mind - a notorious thief, four counts of assault.

    “It was, wasn’t it? You were so scared of being caught that you decided that killing a child - two children - was better than serving some time in prison.” Some part of him thinks nothing ever changes. He shakes his head, and it’s a gesture that doesn’t belong to him; it belongs to something ancient and judging and disappointed- but it fades quickly, a fog burnt off by the midday sun. “This is the end for you,” he says, and the words ring with more than just the villain. The heroes, who up until this point had been standing around, seemingly just as stunned as Kacchan and the villain, seem to take his words as a cue. One steps forwards, extends his hands and causes the tarmac to rise up in spirals, trapping the sludge villain inside.

    Like that, the spell is broken and the heroes crowd forwards. The following minutes are a blur of people talking and praising him for his powerful Quirk and admonishing him for not letting the heroes do their job and putting shock blankets around his shoulders. Through it all, Izuku looks down at his hands, watching yellow-white flames slowly die away.

    Is this my Quirk? he thinks to himself numbly. That doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t feel like how he’s sure a Quirk should. Surely, if this was his Quirk, he should do one thing. Like glow. Or… whatever he did to the villain. Not both. Quirks don’t do that.

    And then there was the four-armed man; Sol Invictus.

    But what else can it be but a Quirk?

    A choking thing worms its way up the green-haired boy’s throat, coming out somewhere between a cough and a laugh. He has a Quirk. He, Midoriya Izuku, has a Quirk.

    He has a Quirk!

    He feels like he could burst, or maybe fly. Maybe with this he can even be a hero.

    “Young Midoriya.”

    Izuku looks up to see a thin, almost skeletal-looking man. It takes him a moment to recognize All Might’s other form, the one he’d taken at their last meeting, when the Symbol of Peace had saved him from the sludge villain before.

    “A-a-all M-”

    “Sshhhh!” hisses the blond-haired hero. “I am here incognito! I was about to intervene when you solved the situation all on your own! I remember you said at our last meeting that you had no Quirk, and I most shamefully said that you would not be able to be a hero without such. I came to retract that, but I see that you have found your individuality all on your own!”

    “I, I just.” Izuku takes a moment to breathe and find the warmth and light still there in his chest, waiting to obey him. “I wanted to pull Kacchan out, and then there was light everywhere and I saw a - a man, but he had four arms and he said that I wasn’t worthy of this power, that no-one was, but that I could use it well and-”

    All Might’s face fades from an encouraging smile to something harder, more worried. In a moment the smile is back as wide as ever, but there is definitely something wrong. “From what I saw of how you handled the situation with the sludge villain, and what I saw of you before, I can think of no-one more worthy of such a Quirk,” the hero says. “If you choose to become a hero, I look forwards to seeing your career unfold! Remember, no matter whether you have a Quirk or not, or if you join the hero industry or not, you must always work to be the best you can be. See the limits and go beyond! Plus ultra!”

    Izuku nods furiously, mentally scribbling down everything that the legendary hero is saying. “I will!”

    “I’m sure,” says All Might with a smile, if a slightly more fragile one than when he arrived, and vanishes back into the crowd of onlookers.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Human Zenith.

    That’s his Quirk’s name, suggested by his ecstatic mom and a thoroughly confused Dr. Tsubasa - confused because he still shows every medical sign of being Quirkless. They’re invited to come back for a second, more detailed checkup - Dr. Tsubasa explains that while anomalies in Quirk readings aren’t unheard-of, given how varied Quirks can be, a reading this subtle might imply something wrong with the Quirk factor - but apparently his schedule was very busy, and it would take some time to analyze the results he had already in greater detail, so the second appointment wasn’t until a month or so later. Izuku’s not sure how to feel about it.

    He’s tested the parameters of his Quirk rigorously, filling one and a half notebooks with ideas, thoughts, theories and findings, but it’s difficult to work out exactly what he can do, because it seems like his Quirk is more… thematic than it ought to be. So far, and irritatingly, the best description he can come up with is ‘a pool of energy that I can use to boost myself, which replenishes much faster when I glow’, but even that way-too-broad description doesn’t really capture it.

    That’s the thing, though. Quirks don’t work like that. A Quirk is always, always, some kind of single, well-defined ability. Sure, sometimes a Quirk might have a lot of applications, but his light can just do too many things. Not that he’s not happy with that; it’s just a little irksome, but in the face of the gift he’s been given it seems like a ridiculous thing to get hung up on.

    Just the ability to feed a shred of the light into his forehead and ignite the golden disc there helps immensely in school, allowing him to shed the shameful mantle of ‘Quirkless’, even if Kacchan is still sulking (through the medium of yelling angrily and exploding things) over ‘not being told’. His real Quirk is just amazing, though.

    He’s simply good at things. Pretty much anything he puts his mind to, he can do. The hardest essays flow like water and his teachers praise him as a genius.

    He feels like a fraud.

    Maybe if he’d had his Quirk younger it would have been better, it would have felt properly part of him, but at the moment it just feels… fake. Like he’s just cheating, somehow. It doesn’t help, either, that it’s hard to tell where his own abilities end and his Quirk’s begin, or the way that it’s so easy to just feed a little of the light into what he’s doing, become just that little bit better. It’s unfair to, but he almost doesn’t notice he’s doing it sometimes.

    It doesn’t help with the feeling of faking it all.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    He has a four-foot spreadsheet laid out on his bedroom floor of all the different pros and cons of going to UA over the other hero school, and more schools besides that focus on other things - technology, police work and more. Everything needs to be considered, every angle, pro and con. He’s worked himself into a frenzy of muttered analysis by the time his mom comes in and gently pulls brings him out, sits down with him in the lounge and asks the question he really needed to hear: “Do you want to go, Izuku?”

    That brings him up short.

    Does he want to go?

    On one level, it would be a dream come true. UA! The school where the teachers are heroes! The school where heroes are born!

    But… does he want to go? Or is he just going because he thinks it’d be cool, or because it’d make it easier to become a licensed hero?

    He thinks of All Might, there in that tunnel all those months ago now, the almost-tangible glow of him, and he wonders whether the Symbol of Peace’s Quirk is anything like his. It almost feels blasphemous to think it, but… there is a similarity there. And if his Quirk is anything at all like All Might’s… surely it’d be best to go where All Might is, to learn from him.

    He’s come to the conclusion, since he got his Quirk (though he’d thought about it before that, too) that the most important thing heroes do isn’t to fight villains directly, but to fight them indirectly. In the arena that really matters it’s not fists and Quirks that are the real weapons; it’s the image and vision of the heroes, the things that make people want to be them, to be part of the fight to keep society just and, yes, to not have to fight them. He’s sure that All Might knows this - they call him the Symbol of Peace, after all, and he’s obviously going to a lot of effort to make himself the image of the superhero - “It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here!”

    UA, though. UA is a symbol, too. It’s the face of the young hero industry; even if there are plenty of other hero schools, UA is the one people know. There’s power there, for someone who wants to be a symbol of peace - maybe not the symbol, not like All Might is, but Izuku can feel the potential in Human Zenith, knows that he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do-

    “You’re muttering, dear,” his mom says gently, and Izuku jumps. “You don’t need to make the decision right now, you know. It’s another week before the submissions open.”

    “I know,” Izuku replies. “But… I want to decide. I want...” He trailed off, annoyed at himself for lacking the words. He pulls on the light, feels it fill his heart and lift him up. He remembers the four-armed man, the Unconquered Sun, and remembers how sure, how certain he’d sounded, giving Izuku this power. “I want to have certainty. To know this is what I want to do.

    “But I don’t have that.

    “I know I want to be a hero, but is it better to try to get into UA or somewhere else?” The light faded away and he ran out into “Am I just overthinking things?”

    “Maybe a little,” Inko says with a smile, and they share a little laugh. “But you’ve wanted to go to UA ever since you were little. You’ve got a wonderful Quirk, you’re a clever, dedicated young man and you’ve got the heart and soul of a hero. They’d be lucky to have you at UA, or anywhere else. Above all else, though, you should go where you want to. If you’re going to be a hero, I know you’re going to help so many people, no matter what you choose. So make this choice for your sake, Izuku Midoriya, not anyone else’s.”

    And that really does help.

    “Th-thanks, mom.” He reaches over to hug her and she pulls him into an embrace. “I’ll - I think.” Something settles in him. He takes a long breath. “I’m going to apply to UA.”

    He looks up, and she’s smiling with shining eyes. “That’s wonderful, Izuku. You’re going to go to UA, just like you always wanted.”

    Some part of him protests that no, that’s nowhere near certain yet. Sure, you don’t need to pay tuition to UA, so they can afford it, but it’s not like he’s passed the entrance exam - which is meant to be incredibly hard. There’s an answer, some arrogant little voice that says of course he’ll be able to get in, he was Chosen.

    For a little while, at least, he listens to that one.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The dojo is full of students, some of an age with Izuku, others looking like they’re more likely to be thinking about where they’ll go after high school than which one to go to. The fresh-faced new students sit seiza in two neat little staggered rows along the matted floors, whilst the more senior members stand at the ready across from them. The dojo is plain and austere, a white canvas streaked with pale pinewood pillars and a floor so polished that it almost seems to glow. Here and there, Something in Izuku aches at the sight, like a memory of something long-gone.

    The master of the dojo paces back and forth before them, a tall man with long, bone-white hair that reaches down to his waist - or it would, because as he walks one part of his hair is curling around an antique-looking gunbai, another part is weaving itself into a long, complicated braid and on either side of the braid are two more, motioning with him as he speaks.

    “Hello, and welcome to my martial arts academy. My name is Asano Kakuei. In our lessons, you will call me Asano-sensei or Sensei. This is so that we always keep in mind why we are here: to learn.”

    Asano-sensei’s eyes, Izuku discovers when they’re turned on him, are two pale shards of ice, sky-blue-white. “That applies to both you and me. What, then, is the first rule of this dojo?” He sweeps his gunbai out towards the olders students. “Uemura-san!”

    A brown-haired girl with no visible signs of a Quirk speaks up. “Never stop learning!”

    “Yes! That applies to everyone here, including me! The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop moving forwards! You must be ready to learn from everything around you; especially in this room. Being elsewhere does not excuse you, however. Diligent practice is necessary to become great at anything, few things more so than in the martial arts. Speaking of which - new students, what have you come to learn?” The gunbai flashes again, lacquered gold and black.

    “To fight?” a voice replies after a stretching moment of silence. Izuku can’t tell which of the new students it was that answered.

    “No!” replied the teacher. “No, you are here to learn the martial arts and how to defend yourselves. If any student of mine,” he pauses, his ice-shard eyes flashing. “Goes on to use the skills I have taught them to pursue violence with others, I will personally expel them from my academy and send letters outlining my problems with them to as many martial arts teachers as I know. The only exception to this is when you seek to subdue an opponent when acting in defense of yourself or others.

    “So, what you will be learning here is to defend yourself, to defend others and, most importantly, what those things mean. You may, of course, wish to apply what you learn here to competitions and the like, and in that I will support you. I was a competitive martial artist myself, in my younger years. Ojiro-san!” The gunbai once more darts out towards the older students.

    “Yes, sensei!” The boy who speaks is tall and light-haired, with a thick, muscular-looking tail protruding from the back of his gi.

    “What role do Quirks have in this dojo?”

    “We may incorporate them into free practice if our partner agrees, but not to use them otherwise.”


    “Good. Yes, the simple fact is that there are too many Quirks in this world for me to teach you how to use yours in conjunction with martial arts. Therefore, if you wish to do so you shall have to do so on your own time and, of course, on your own property, or find a personal trainer. There are martial arts tournaments which permit the use of Quirks, but most do not - and Quirks vary too widely for me to know how you should use yours best.


    “But that’s enough of that. Let’s get on with the session, shall we?”


    The class goes well - too well. It’s mostly just very basic practice, checking and re-checking stances, having a few different throws and holds demonstrated to them and, for the last half hour, running simple drills and repetition of a basic kata. Izuku’s extra-careful not to use any of the light - he doesn’t want to rely on it like a crutch - but even without that he can see the beginnings, how every movement and kata could go further, flow together, be expanded out into a full fighting style.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    He practices at home afterwards, in his room, a little less cautious of the light, and the feeling’s there too. It’s like he’s not learning but relearning, as though he just needs to get back into the habits and forms rather than pick them up from scratch.

    It’s a week until the next class with Asano-sensei. He practices every day after school, at home in his room, looking up what he can’t work out himself - which isn’t much. By the second day he can run through the full set of the basic katas listed on the dojo’s website fluidly. By the fourth, he thinks he might actually be able to use what he knows in a fight - he probably wouldn’t win against any kind of competent opponent, but he wouldn’t embarrass himself.

    He heads down to the corner store and buys two more notebooks. He titles one Human Zenith Analysis and the other Combat Techniques. The former is quickly filled up with as many details as Izuku can work out. The light isn’t just a flow or a liquid - it has units, the smallest amounts he can split it up into. More than that, he has a limited amount of units - forty-six, to be precise. On one hand, that’s not all that many considering how many units he can use up just by boosting something he’s doing.

    And that’s something else he’s discovered: he can’t boost everything. For most things, he can channel units of the light to get better at whatever it is for a little while, but there are some exceptions. He experiments with as many things as he can, but it’s difficult trying to work out the seemly-arbitrary lines along which his Quirk works.

    More importantly, though, he’s made another discovery. The glowing - which he ends up noting down as his ‘aura’, after some with himself - isn’t, as he’d first hypothesized, the result of the light leaking out or something like that - precisely the opposite. It’s something he controls, that he can spark into life, and while he’s glowing he regenerates the units of light far, far faster. The brighter he glows the faster they return, though the only time he’d gone all the way up to his full flare he accidentally starts a minor panic, because even though he does it in the day and on the roof of the apartment complex it was still a giant pillar of light going up into the sky - though it’s so cool that when he’s like that and he turns around he can see the holographic outline of a hero’s cape trailing out behind him.

    His mom gives him a stern talking-to over that.

    The combat techniques notebook doesn’t fill up quite so quickly. However, over the course of the week between the sessions at the dojo he does make a vital discovery which bridges the gap between the two notebooks. Beyond just throwing light at problems and doing better, he can direct it more carefully, more efficiently, to greater effect in some ways. One particular trick he picks up is focusing two units into his legs as he jumps, allowing him to leap almost three metres straight up! It’s not the only technique he works out, but it’s among the easiest to test.

    The real prize, though, is the knowledge that this is possible, that he can go beyond just ‘being good’ into genuinely superhuman - because the highest non-Quirk-assisted jump is a little under half that. Once he’s realized that, a whole world of experimentation opens up - and, more than that, it gives him a first clue of how his Quirk actually works. Kacchan’s produces nitroglycerine, and his mom once told him that her quirk actually worked by creating weak ‘shackles’ of air around objects to pull them to her, but in this regard his own remains a mystery.

    Whatever his quirk actually is, he’s sure he’ll be able to work it out by studying the properties of the units of energy - of the light - it gives him.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    By the time Izuku has made this revelation, though, it’s Saturday again, and he’s standing back outside the dojo waiting for the doors to open with a small group of others - not as many as had come to the first session, but still plenty. Mostly, it’s the ones who weren’t really trying all that hard before who’ve dropped out - maybe they were just there because parents wanted them to be, or something like that.

    “Perhaps it functions by somehow enhancing cellular respiration in some manner, or the movement of ions across cell surface membranes? That might explain how it can boost my muscles, and maybe the cognitive improvements, but then why does it manifest as an energy in itself? Furthermore, how do its social effects manifest? Is it somehow overclocking relevant centres of the brain?”

    The curly-haired boy’s pen dances and spins across the page of his notebook, filling pages in seconds as he notes down his thoughts for later consideration. This is another trick he’s learned, which some fanciful part of him made him call his Whirling Pen Technique. He’d chuckled to himself after putting that to paper on his growing list of techniques, but he needs to give them names - there are too many to just describe every time he wants to refer to them.

    On the bright side, with his new trick he can write all his thoughts down as they come to him, though it does drain his units - but he can just flare his forehead-mark to regain those quickly, if he needs to.

    Something descends on Izuku’s shoulder, startling him out of his fugue. It’s a hand, and as he looks up the green-haired boy sees that the hand is attached to the light-haired boy with the tail who’d answered one of Asano-sensei’s questions on the first day - Ojiro-san, the teacher had called him. He’s smiling.

    “Sorry to bother you, but we’re heading in.”

    “Ah-ah, yes, sorry Ojiro-san. I just got, ah, distracted,” Izuku stammers, slipping his notebook back into his backpack. “Th-thank you.”

    “No problem. What were you writing about, though? You seemed really into it.”

    “Oh, uh, I was thinking about my Qu-Quirk. I’m, uh, trying to get into UA, you see, so I want to make sure I know everything about it, so I can use it the best I can. And Quirk analysis is kind of a hobby of mine. So I get really into it.”

    Ojiro blinks. “You’re working to get into UA as well?”

    Izuku nods. “I’ve wanted to be a hero since I was little, and UA is the best place to do that, really. I mean, they say that All Might will be teaching there next year!”

    “Really?”

    “Well, it’s the internet saying it, but there’s pretty good evidence that they’re right.”

    “Huh. Well, that’s another reason to do my best to get in, I guess.” Ojiro smiles as they reach the doors, joining the small crowd of other students. “We’ll be rivals, though. We’re competing for very few spaces on the course, after all.”

    Izuku nods seriously, pushing down the twinge of guilt that comes with the knowledge that his Quirk makes it easier for him to learn - that he, effectively, can’t help but cheat.

    It’s not cheating, he reminds himself. That’s just how Quirks are. Unfair.

    Part of him wonders what the world was like before Quirks began to appear. Was it fairer then? People have greater or lesser talent in things not related to their Quirks, of course, but at least then the difference could potentially be made up for with training or conditioning. Well, some differences.

    He’s shaken out of his musing when Asano-sensei calls them to sit seiza in the proper places and begins the lesson. The same forms as the week before are demonstrated, and then it’s practice - repetition, repetition and repetition of stances, air-strikes and mimed throws. Izuku’s still not perfect, there’s still plenty of room to improve, but he’s much better than last week - and significantly better than the other new students.

    Almost before he realizes, the class is over and the students are filing out. He stays behind, helping one of the assistants - Nagata-san, she introduces herself as - put away the practice mats. As he’s wiping his hands clean with a tissue, he feels a presence behind him. Turning, he sees Asano-sensei, a snow-capped mountain, with his ever-present gunbai in hand.

    “Midoriya-san, yes?”

    Izuku nods.

    “This class is for beginners - but you have clearly practiced the martial arts before. I would like to ask you why you decided to apply to this course, when there are others available more befitting your skill level. My dojo is not a place that tolerates self-indulgence of the ego at the expense of your juniors and parents.” The teacher’s face is not thunderous or even angry-looking, but his eyes are flint.

    For a moment, Izuku is speechless. Something in him, something old and mighty, is offended - offended like a god in the stories his mom used to read him. Most of him is just surprised - but it is only a moment. His thoughts flash as lightning. It makes sense, from Asano-sensei’s perspective. The remorse bites; the feeling of cheating. And he is. It’s not fair, that his Quirk lets him speed past the long, arduous process of learning that all the others will have to go through, and which Ojiro-san already has and is still undergoing.

    And he’s about to cheat even more, because he’s not sure enough of himself to have this conversation without the light silvering his tongue. He opens his mouth, feeling his body prickle with the sun’s warmth even in the cool of the dojo.

    “I’m sorry,” he begins, bowing formally as some instinct drives him. “I should have told you - I’m just not really used to all this.” A touch of sheepishness as he rises from the bow, but keeping the determined fire in his eyes. He can tell that that’s what Asano-sensei likes - respect and to have a dominant position, but drive is what he looks for in his students. It’s written between the lines on the dojo’s leaflets, in the nuances of who he praises and corrects and how he does so. “I only manifested my Quirk recently - like, a few weeks ago.”

    “And how is your Quirk related to your skills?”

    “That’s what it does. It’s called, ah,” pause for sheepishness, to offset the grandiose name. “Human Zenith. It lets me learn things at an accelerated pace, and to do them better.”

    “And you’ve been using this Quirk to accelerate your learning.” It’s not a question, and the tone is one of censure, but there’s a glint in the instructor’s eye - interest.

    “Not deliberately,” Izuku clarifies. “I can’t turn off the learn-quicker part. I need to use the get-better part consciously, but there’s a bunch of things I just… learn really quickly.”

    Asano-sensei hums lowly. “I see. If this is the case, the fault is not yours but it is clear that you cannot remain in the beginners’ class. It would be a disservice to both you and your peers. Therefore, we must assess your true level of proficiency.” One of his braided hair-tendrils snakes into a bag leaning against the wall and draws out a smartphone. “I have a meeting to attend in… half an hour, so I can’t spare the time now. However, I have some free time tomorrow. If you can make it here for about two in the afternoon, we can conduct the assessment then.”

    Izuku quickly runs his schedule through his head. He’s not got anything set for then that he can’t move. “That’d be great, Asano-sensei.”

    “Good. I’ll be here.” His eyes glint again, a spark deep within. “I look forwards to seeing what you can do.”

    “Thank you, sensei,” Izuku says, bowing again, before grabbing his things and leaving the dojo.

    Now that the rush of his Quirk’s power is subsiding, he’s left feeling shocky and wrung-out by the intensity of the conversation - which is probably why he doesn’t notice the ash-blond boy until a hand closes on his shoulder.

    “Hey, Deku.”

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    So, this is a project I've had brewing for a long while. With luck, this will turn into a full-length fic. I am trying to very deliberately bring up my writing quality, though, so there may be long intervals between one chapter and the next. As always, comments, reviews, constructive criticism and so on are more than welcome, as are suggestions, though I reserve the right to direct how the story goes - this isn't a quest. That said, I'm always happy to discuss my fics.

    It is notable that I am treating a number of 'hacks' for Exalted as being canon for the sake of this fic, because I feel they better serve the spirit of the thing than the canon Exalted system. Specifically, like in Exalted 3rd Edition, Izuku has 'Supernal Abilities' in which he can access Charms (read: techniques) of greater power than he would normally be able to at his level of personal power. However, Izuku has two of these rather than one (Presence and Brawl/Martial Arts, specifically), and can only access Charms of up to Essence 3, rather than Essence 5. The second major hack is the so-called 'Anima Reactor' hack used by EarthScorpion and Aleph in their ongoing Kerisgame (the transcripts of the game may be found here: Ascensions and Transgressions: the Tales of Keris Dulmeadokht (Exalted game) and here Ascensions and Transgressions - Aleph (Immatrael), EarthScorpion - Exalted, Exalted (Roleplaying Game) [Archive of Our Own]) wherein an Exalt's anima is not ignited by spending Peripheral Motes, but rather serves as a 'reactor' which can be activated to speed the Exalt's mote regeneration.

    Charms used in the chapter are as follows: Respect-Commanding Attitude, Majestic Radiant Presence, Illustrious Solar Mien, Tiger's Dread Symmetry, Listener-Swaying Argument, Enemy-Castigating Solar Judgement, Monkey leap Technique, Whirling Brush Technique, Mastery of Small Manners, Motive-Discerning Technique and Vicious Lunge. Other miscellaneous Excellencies were used throughout to boost skill in one area or another. See if you can guess where each charm was used. :D

    A version of this story on Archive Of Our Own my be found here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/18871891/chapters/44792773
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  2. NotaWriter

    NotaWriter Not too sore, are you?

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    Good first chapter! there are so few good exalted fic that don't get abandoned after a few chapters... let's hope this will break the trend
     
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  3. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Glad you like it. And I have long-term plans for this one, as well as having worked out where I want to go and how to handle the increase in power that Exalted brings with it (there's a reason I've gone for a comparatively introspective tone and a fairly social focus for Izuku) and I think daunt many writers, so here's hoping.
     
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  4. Bagrat

    Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

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    Squeeeeeeeeeeee~

    I cannot wait to see where you take this.
     
  5. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Aaaaah! I've been noticed by the guy in the know! How are the rebuilding efforts going, if you don't mind me asking?

    In all seriousness, it's great to hear that you like it.
     
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  6. Bagrat

    Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

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    Honestly? Not too great. With the PRT defunct, many of my contacts in the organization can no longer supply me with news, rumors and other important information. It's going to be a while before I properly put together a new information network.

    Still, I've got a nice, cushy job with the local Wardens branch so at least I've got something productive to do in the meantime.

    This is great! 'My Hero Academia' was a great manga, both the Aleph-import and the version penned after the Kyushu tragedy. On top of that, you are giving the Aleph version of the main character an exaltation by the Unconquered Sun? Yeah... I'll be honest and say that Exalted was my favorite White Wolf game back on Bet. I myself am a huge tabletop gamer, even though I didn't spend that much time discussing it on PHO's Traditional Games section.

    The Wardens and I are in the middle of an Exalted game, as a matter of fact. I managed to sneak in my roleplaying book collection even though it left me with only two pairs of pants before I was able to purchase more.

    But enough about me. The story is looking great so far, and I cannot wait until the next chapter!
     
  7. openbookworm

    openbookworm Know what you're doing yet?

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    Quick question, are you thinking of mixing it up with the other castes or keeping it to Izuku's solar caste? It popped into mind when I thought of the connection between dragon-blooded and Ryukyu the draconic hero.
     
  8. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    There will be other Exalts, but I can say right now that none of the existing heroes are Exalts.
     
  9. Belenus

    Belenus Not too sore, are you?

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    Toga would make a decent Infernal.

    ETA: Not sure why Infernal popped out at me and I completely missed the obvious Lunar.... I'm a little slow today.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  10. The 17th Immortal

    The 17th Immortal Seeker of Sanity

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    What about Stain?

    IIRC, Infernal Exalts are basically Solars that were stolen and then tainted by the Yozis. In both cases, there's a certain sense of Fallen Hero, that would probably work well here.
     
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  11. Index: 2: Interrogation and Assessment
    QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    The moment the hand lands, Izuku is moving. Again?” His hands are on Vessel’s Kacchan’s sleeve, he’s twisting, he’s pulling the taller boy up and over his shoulder. His brow is burning and he sees a flash of Kacchan’s wide, red eyes and crackling hands - then he hits the ground, and Izuku is standing, looking down on his friend. I win this round, then?” He’s smiling.

    Then what he’s just done registers, and he looks around wildly. No-one’s around, and Kacchan looks more shocked at what just happened than Izuku is.

    “Sorry!” he says, and turns tail and runs.

    There’s a roar behind him, along with the sound of detonations. Izuku leaps to the left, letting the other boy rocket past, and lets the light burn through his legs and leaps up, up and onto the roof of a low house. Another leap, and another, and another, and before long the sound of Kacchan’s explosions has vanished into the distance and the background hum of the city.

    He won’t want to go above the roofs, Izuku thinks. As a civilian, being that open with using such a loud, explosive and dangerous Quirk would be inviting a fine, and Kacchan has always been careful to keep his record clean for his UA applications. Even when they were little he had talked about it.

    Why did I run? he wonders as he gets his bearings and starts the walk home. He’s had confrontations with Kacchan like that many times before, and he’s never jumped like that. Was he just off balance from the conversation with Asano-sensei?
    No, he decides. There was something else there. He was smiling while he did it, and there was… an expectation, maybe? That the move wouldn’t complete - that he’d be countered. That… That makes sense. He is - was? - no match for Kacchan, after all, but there was more there.

    Who did I think grabbed me?

    Silver eyes and silver on the brow and sharp, laughing teeth.

    Izuku shivers, feeling like someone just walked over his grave. Was that just some kind of strange distraction, or are there further depths to Human Zenith than he’s worked out so far? If so, he’s not really sure how he feels about that - how he should feel. Grateful for even more possibilities, or worried at unknown variables?

    There’s more than enough of those in it already.

    “It’s all such a mess,” he mutters to himself. “Why couldn’t I just have a normal Quirk?”

    But even as he says it, he knows that wish is a lie. Human Zenith has opened up so many options, and he’s been given a gift that no other hero he knows of has: he can grow, not just in skill but in what he can do. He doesn’t know how far that goes, but even with the abilities he has now he’s sure he could make an impact if he works hard enough.

    It’s almost a surprise when he finds himself home. The sun is still in the sky, peeking above the apartment blocks, but it’s well into the afternoon. The green-haired boy can tell without looking, feeling the pull of the sun on his heart.

    It’s such a little thing, the least of his powers, but somehow it’s that which makes him sit down on the step outside and look up at the sun, glinting through a forest of aerials and TV masts.

    “Why did you choose me?” he asks it under his breath, even as facts and figures and the elemental composition of hydrogen dance through his head. It’s a ball of fire and nuclear fusion a hundred and fifty million miles away. It won’t ever answer him. Prayer demands sacrifice.

    And yet it did, there in that place between obsidian immensities. It came to him and gave him… this power, absurd as it seems to link the real sun and the person - being, god, Celestial Incarna - who had come to him, but he can’t detach them from one another.
    Sol Invictus. He’s looked up the name; apparently that was the name of a Roman sun god, long ago in Europe. He’d heard of heroes and villains taking on mythological names (Amaterasu had been a villain with a short-lived career and a Quirk which let her induce adoration in others, while Hachiman was the retired Strategist Hero), but never anyone calling themselves Sol Invictus - and the internet hadn’t yielded anything of that kind either.

    Izuku sighs. He gets up, unlocks the door and steps inside, toeing off his sneakers. He has an assignment to write up for Monday, and with the middle of Sunday take up with testing with Asano-sensei he should probably do it now.

    The Midoriya apartment is up on the fourth floor of their block. It’s a long climb up, and for a moment the thought crosses his mind to just jump it - it would probably only take two good leaps. Then he shakes the thought off. What would be the point of it? He’d just be using his Quirk for no reason; for the sake of it.

    Like Kacchan, some part of him whispers. He crushes it ruthlessly. Kacchan’s a show-off, sure, but he’s not-

    And he’s at the door. He can hear his mom inside, talking quietly to someone that’s not there - on the phone, probably. Izuku softly turns the handle and lets himself in. Sure enough, Inko is sat at the dining table, the once-white plastic landline phone in hand. Izuku waves a little. She returns the gesture as he slips past towards his room, but her face is lined with concern, her brow furrowed as she returns to the notepad laid out on the table.

    Frowning a little, Izuku closes the door of his room behind him. Inside, the walls are laden with papers and posters - the posters mostly of All Might, but the papers on every subject under the sun. One section, pinned to a corkboard he’d managed to beg off of Mrs. Utsumi on the floor below, consists of speculations and ideas for tests and techniques to try and develop with Human Zenith, added over the last week. The rest is more varied, running the gamut from scientific papers on the Quirk Factor to lists of sightings of heroes and villains - gleaned from traces on the internet - to sketched martial arts forms to worksheets from school. It’s like walking into a room full of feathers, softly fluttering in the breeze from the-

    Open window.

    Izuku doesn’t leave the window open when he goes out. They don’t live in the worst parts of Musutafu, but he wouldn’t want to leave the window ajar.

    Did I just forget?

    But no, he remembers opening the thing earlier that morning, because the room had been stuffy, and closing it when he went out to the dojo. And the window slides up and down; there’s no way it could have blown open. Someone had opened it.
    Izuku steps over to the window and looks out. There’s nothing there at he can see out of place; just the birds on the telephone wires and a young couple wandering down the street below, shopping bags in hand. He spends a good ten minutes investigating the frame and checking that nothing’s been taken or put out of place, but nothing seems to have been - not beyond what the breeze has done, anyway. It’s as if the window just… decided to open on its own.

    Uneasiness prickles up his spine as he sits down and pulls out lined paper and the assignment brief. As he puts pen to paper, though, the trepidation begins to melt away, little by little, until he’s almost relaxed. The assignment flows onto the page, each word taking its place neatly after its predecessor in a thread broken only by the occasional need to double-check something online or in a reference book. He’s in the middle of giving evidence for his second-to-last point when there’s a soft knocking.

    “Come in!” he calls.

    The door swings open, revealing his mom, phone in hand. “A detective called; Mr. Tsukauchi. He said that the police wanted to ask you some questions about what happened when you- got your Quirk.” Her face is a picture of worry, tinged with concern and a little fear.

    Izuku blinks. “Is it about sludge villain?”

    Inko shakes her head. “He said that it was to do with your Quirk itself. He said you said something to a hero that concerned them.” She says it with the tone of someone repeating something they’d just heard.
    It must be about what I told All Might, thinks Izuku. Now I think back, he did look really uneasy.

    “Do you know what they’re talking about, Izuku?” Now her voice had taken on an edge, and he realized he’d never actually told his mom everything about what had happened; about the four-armed man or the… other place where they’d spoken.
    “Um, I think so. There was… a bit of a weird thing that happened when my Quirk a-activated.”

    She pinned him with a stare like a javelin. “Midoriya Izuku. Do you mean to tell me you didn’t tell Dr. Tsubasa about this?”

    “I-it was just really weird! I didn’t know how to describe it without sounding crazy!”

    “That’s no excuse! Your great-grandmother would have thought any Quirk was crazy!”

    “But I’m fine! I haven't had any problems at all!”

    “And now the police are asking, Izuku!”

    With that, he wilts a little. It does kind of bring it home that the police want to see him about his Quirk. Why do they question me?

    “Yeah, I understand.”

    His mom moves over and kneels down so she’s level with him sitting down, wrapping her arms around him. “I’m sorry for shouting, Izu-kun. I- I’m just worried.”

    “I am too. A bit,” he admits. “I-it feels like everything just going… too well. Like, where’s the other shoe?”

    Inko leans back, and Izuku can see that her eyes are shining in the sunlight from the window. “It’ll be fine, Izu-kun. We’ll sort this out, and you’ll go to UA and be a hero in no time.” She’s smiling; watery, but smiling. He can’t help but do so too, and pull her back into the hug.

    “Sure, mom.” He tries to radiate comfort and reassurance like, back with the Sludge Villain, he’d radiated terror and glory. He’s not sure he manages it so well, but he can feel his mom’s slightly hiccupy breaths even out.

    They linger there for a while, but eventually Inko pulls away and stands again, pulling a tissue from her pocket to dab at her eye.

    “Mr. Tsukauchi asked if we could come to the police station later today. Is that alright?”

    “That’s fine, mom.”

    “G-good. Good. I’ll call him back. You finish off your work here, and then we’ll go down. How long do you think it’ll take?”

    Izuku considers the essay. He’s only really got to finish off one point, do another and put in the conclusion. If he uses the Whirling Pen Technique, he can probably finish it in a few minutes. But he wants to take care with it, too, not just rush it out. Mr. Yamane always chews him out if he thinks he’s underperforming. “Maybe half an hour?”

    “Alright. Come out when you’re done?”

    Izuku nods, mind already starting to buzz with memories of that day.

    Why do they want to know? he wonders. What do they think I can tell them?


    They walk to the police station; it’s not far and the sun is still in the sky, and will be for long enough that unless the interview drags on for a very long time indeed they’ll be fine walking home again. Some part of Izuku whispers that he could make his own sunlight if they needed - he was practically a walking lightbulb, after all. He snorts gently at that, drawing an indulgent glance from his mom. It’s been a joke ever since he was little that he can laugh at all kinds of things inside his own head, or at the memory of something funny, so she’s used to it.

    The nearest station still has the Latin KŌBAN written in big, blue letters over the entrance, but it’s not of the poky little three-room stations that he’s read about in history books. As the world climbed out of the Quirk Recession the Japanese police system had expanded to accommodate both the growing hero industry and the realities of holding criminals with Quirks, bringing the standard up to this kind of thing: a building of three stories and about as wide across as a small apartment block. If it’s truly standard, it’ll have at least a pair of holding cells, a break room, a call room and a reception.

    His mom walks up to the front desk. The officer on duty has a Quirk which puts his eyes out on stalks. He turns his head to one side as they approach. So he can see better, Izuku realizes.

    “H-hello, officer,” says Inko. “We’re here to see, ah, Tsukauchi-san? I’m Mrs. Midoriya.”

    One of the big, black orbs blinks slowly, two sets of eyelids washing over the obsidian sphere. Then he presses a button on the intercom fastened to his chest. Izuku listened closely, feeling the faint heat of the light in his ears. “A Mrs. Midoriya here to see the detective.” The faintest of replying garbles. “Yes, a teenager…. Both green-haired. Short…. Okay.”

    He raised his head from the communicator. “Alright. The detective will be out for you in just a minute.” He gestures to the threadbare chairs against one wall of the station.

    It’s not a long wait, maybe two minutes before a tall, nondescript-looking man opens one of the doors at the back of the reception. He seems to zero in on them in a moment, stepping out of the doorway. “Midoriya Inko and Izuku?”

    Izuku’s mom nods. “That’s us. Tsukauchi-san?”

    “Detective Tsukauchi, yes. I apologize for calling you in on such short notice.” He bows. Keirei, to emphasize the apology, a part of Izuku whispers, And to well-dispose us to him, offsetting the inconvenience. He cares what we think of him. A little knot of stress unwinds a little.

    “Yes,” Inko says, standing. Her tone is a little cold. “Can I ask why my son’s Quirk’s manifestation is important to the police? You said on the phone that Izuku was in no trouble.”

    “I shall be happy to explain,” the detective replies. “If you’ll follow me through to the interview room?”

    Inko clutches the strap of her handbag a little tighter. “Very well.”

    The interview room, it turns out, looks less like the bare, windowless interrogation room he’s been imagining and more like a relatively sparse office; a cheap desk with assorted basic stationary on it, one seat on one side and two on the other. A black device from which two long antennae rise, tipped with microphones, sits patiently on the desk. The detective steps in ahead of them and stands beside the single seat. “Please, sit.”

    They sit, the elder Midoriya placing her handbag emphatically on her lap. “So, explain, please, Tsukauchi-san.”

    “You are familiar with the types of Quirks, yes?”

    “Mutant, Emitter, Accumulation and Transformation - they’re the main ones, anyway,” Izuku says.

    The detective nods seriously. “Those are the main types generally considered, though there are other systems that use different categories. Within the normal system, though, there is a fifth type; far rarer than the others: Manipulation-type Quirks.”
    “And you think Izuku has one of these?” Inko surmises.

    The detective shakes his head. “No. From the description in your registration entry, Izuku-kun’s Quirk could probably be considered a form of Emitter or Accumulation Quirk, of a sort. The fact that Manipulation-type Quirks are so rare can only be considered a blessing, because they are defined by their ability to manipulate Quirks.” The detective looks at Izuku. “What I asked you here to talk about is the matter of the… vision you described to Yagi-san after the incident with the sludge villain.”

    Izuku’s mind races. Yagi-san? I talked to All Mi-

    That’s All Might’s surname. Oh my god I know All Might’s real surname oh god how am I going to keep this a secret not I’ve got to-

    No, concentrate. They think that Sol Invictus is some kind of Quirk-manipulator. They want to ask me about him, so either they don’t have much information on him or nothing at all - Nothing at all is more likely given the fact I couldn’t find anything at all about a person matching that description, so-

    Izuku cut himself off, coming back to himself in the interview room. “Okay,” he says, simply.

    “Excellent. Now, I have to record any testimony you give, and I’m legally obliged to tell you that my Quirk is called Human Lie Detector - you can imagine it comes in handy - and that I’m going to be using it over the course of this conversation. There’s a form here which you’ll have to sign, Midoriya-san.” He slides a sheet of paper over the desk to Inko.

    She takes a few long minutes to read before raising her head. “This is a non-disclosure agreement,” she states.

    “Yes. I’m afraid that the questions we need to ask your son are of relevance to an ongoing and exceedingly delicate investigation, which is in turn involved with matters of national security.” The detective’s face is a mask of gravitas.

    “I see,” replies Inko, her eyes widening a little. She takes another few moments to read the fine print of the contract before putting biro to paper and signing, and passing the sheet to Izuku. He takes a long look at it himself, scanning the print and noting the absence of fine print. He can read between the lines; the words are intended not to entrap but to restrict - to make the reader aware of the penalties they’ll face if they break the contract and to discourage them from doing so with intimidating verbiage and diction. It’s probably about as honest as a government document like this can get. He signs.

    “Excellent,” says the detective. He smiles, if not broadly, as he gathers the papers back to himself. He clicks a switch on the side of the dark box. “Detective Tsukauchi, recording the statement of Midoriya Izuku at sixteen twenty-seven hours, Saturday sixteenth of March.” He nods for Izuku to begin.

    It takes a good half-hour to relate the whole of the events in enough detail to satisfy the detective, and even that’s not so great. Izuku finds that the memory of the thing has run like ink; it’s hard to remember specifics through the rush of light and prowess and panic and validation. “It’s perfectly normal for it to be difficult to remember emotionally-charged events like this,” Tsukauchi assures him. “After the Quirk Recession, there was a lot of policy changes around what kinds of testimony are admissible in court for that reason.” Even so, Izuku can’t help but feel like he’s not really helping.

    In the end, they’re thanked for their help and let go. Dinner is quiet, and after finishing off his essay, Izuku heads to bed a little earlier than usual, mindful of the next day.


    Izuku tightens the belt around his gi a little anxiously, then finds himself a place to sit on the cold wooden floor. Unlike the day before, he’s alone in the dojo. He arrived a little early, for fear of one thing or another holding him up, and the anticipation slowly welling up in his throat is becoming choking.

    Finally, the door slides open and the teacher steps in. Like before, his long hair is carefully woven into a trio of ropelike braids and he’s wearing a gi, plain white save for the emblem of his dojo stitched over the heart. His belt is black to Izuku’s white.
    “Ah, good. You’re here.”

    Izuku nods. “It’s good to see you, sensei.”

    Asano hums lowly. “Yes. Well, let’s get to business. Yesterday, you demonstrated a mastery of the basics significantly beyond your peers; however I don’t know whether that was you holding back or the limits of your current skill. Therefore, first we shall practice those basics, and you shall give me your best work without actively using your Quirk. After that, we shall see what you can do when you are drawing on your Quirk. From that point, we shall see. It will depend on how you do.”
    Izuku blinks. “You said last week that you don’t factor Quirks into your teaching, so...?”

    “I don’t, because they are simply too varied for me to instruct an entire class in the use of theirs. However, your case is somewhat different.” He raises a hand, ticking off fingers as he goes. “Your Quirk does not greatly alter your body or fighting style beyond the human baseline, only enhances it in a direct fashion. You are only one student, not a class’ worth. According to Ojiro-san, you are also attempting to secure a place in UA, and I challenge you to give me a hero who doesn’t use their Quirk. And, finally,” he leans in a little. “I want to see what a student who has achieved seeming mastery of the basics in a week can do.” A spark of excitement dances in the teacher’s eyes, well-banked but there.

    With that, the conversation is over and the practice begins. First, with building-block stances, then moving on to rehearsals of the motions for this throw, that block or the other strike. Even with his practice over the week, it almost surprises Izuku how quickly the forms and motions have become ingrained, and even more so how a barked name can lead his body to move almost before he registers the words.

    It’s been more than half an hour of work when Asano-sensei calls a break. He offers no comment on Izuku’s performance, but instead asks him one question after another about the specifics of his Quirk. How long can he keep it active? What consequences does activating it bring? What degree of control over it does he have? How long has he had it? Has he already actively used it in conjunction with his martial arts skills? What precise kinds of boosts can it apply when used actively? The green-haired boy answers as many questions as he can while the teacher uses his prehensile hair to make notes on a pad of paper retrieved from a duffel bag set against the wall. Finally, he comes to a stop. By this point, Izuku feels like a knife has been taken to him, every facet of his Quirk laid bare.

    “Alright, now let’s see what you can do when you’re really trying.”

    They stand and walk over to the mats. Izuku falls into his stance, closes his eyes and feels warmth burst on his forehead, like he’s looking into the sun. “Um, do you want me to go as far as I can? Or just enhance it a bit? Because if I go all the way… I’m afraid I might, uh, bleach stuff.”

    “There is no risk of actual damage? Fire or similar?”

    Izuku shakes his head.

    “In that case, yes, you go as far as you can - when I have taken down the hangings.” The teacher does so, taking a few long minutes to carefully roll up the pieces of calligraphy and ink-brush artwork. Izuku remains in his stance in the meantime. He feels the pulse of the energy through him, welling up as he gathers and readies himself. He turns his attention inwards. He’s thought of it before like light or fire or water or electricity, but it’s not really any of those things. It’s… deeper. More… profound is the word that comes to mind. Essential.

    Essence.

    The word falls neatly into place, like remembering something long-forgotten. Long hours on the adamant verandah, listening to Orinan speaking of the intricacies of Sorcery and Devonian practice...

    “Alright,” the voice slices through the boy’s reverie, and with a start he realizes that he’s closed his eyes. “Prepare yourself.”

    With a long exhale, Izuku lets the Essence rush from him even as it fills him up again. His skin flickers, then burns, then erupts in white-gold flame. The walls seem to fall away as he rises. He grins.

    “Ready.”

    This time, the forms are more than simple; they’re water and fire, smooth where they should be and violent where they must. He feels like a force rather than a person, like he’s bigger than his body. He’s not religious, though his mom takes him to a shrine for the new year and a couple other times, but if he had to put a word to how he felt he’d have to say divine.

    He feels as though he is the turning omphalos of the world.

    It comes to an end, though, as Asano-sensei calls for him to stop. His eyes gleam with reflected light. Essence rises in Izuku, a warm tide, and he sees and understands. He reads his teacher like an open book - the parted mouth, the hands subtly stretched forwards. Wonder, envy, desire and the bright gleam of an idea. He visibly schools himself before rising from his seiza position.

    “Very impressive,” he says. “And this after only a week. However, there’s only so much that can be learned from seeing your execution of practiced forms. I suggest we have a short spar, so that I can assess you more thoroughly. I will not use my Quirk, while you will use yours.”

    Izuku blink. His mind flashes.

    Looking back, the signs were all there - but he didn’t put them together. Asano-sensei is an older man, getting into his forties or maybe early fifties. He clearly keep himself in shape, but he can’t hold back time. He has to be feeling the bite of years in his muscles, his reaction times, his skills. He has devoted himself to the martial arts, so it was a strike at his very identity. And here Izuku is, a child who has gained some reasonable measure of those same skills in a week - he is a mockery of the white-haired man’s life’s work and at the same time the perfect student. Izuku could see his own shape in the teacher’s mind: a shining legacy, proof of his prowess.

    So of course Asano-sensei would want to challenge him like this. It’s equal parts pride and genuine curiosity, and Izuku can’t really blame him. He grins, feeling, somehow, the aura behind him snap into clarity.

    “Sure.”

    “Excellent,” says the teacher. His sleeves snap smartly as he gathers them around his wrists and falls into his own stance, loose-limbed and feet apart, with hands . “We will spar without attempting to cause serious injury. Avoid the neck, groin, head and face. The spar will be over when either one of us acknowledges defeat by saying ‘give’, is kept on the floor for five seconds or longer, or is unable to continue. If I say ‘halt’, stop immediately, I will do so as well. Do you understand?”
    Izuku nods.

    “Then- Begin!”

    The moment stretches, and then-

    Asano-sensei moves forward like a tide. A hand rises from its easy loll, curling into a claw. It’s going for the boy’s chest. He brings his own arm up, deflecting it to the side. It’s an effort; the teacher’s strike was heavy.

    For a moment, he considers striking back, but then the other hand follows. Izuku turns to the side, letting the strike sail past. For a moment he considers taking advantage of the overextension-

    And then Asano-sensei recovers, retreating into his open, ready stance.

    “Well done,” the teacher offers. “Your reactions are excellent. No equivocation, only action.” And then he’s moving forwards again.

    One strike, a second, a third. Izuku dodges the first and deflects the second, but he’s slow for the third. It lands solidly on his arm.

    “Unfortunately, I don’t think your body can quite keep up with your skills.”

    A fourth blow and a fifth. Izuku steps back beyond the reach of the first, and the second is far enough away that he can deflect it more easily. Asano-sensei is driving him back, but he can’t find an opening in the rain of attacks - well. That’s not true. He can see the openings - they’re there with every overextended attack; if he stepped into and around them, he might be able to catch a hand, turn and throw - but he’s just not fast enough. He knows that as well as he knows his mother’s face. He’s never been all that athletic - compared to Kacchan, he was a weed, and compared to the martial arts teacher he might as well be a five-year-old.

    A pause. Izuku hears a low, contemplative hum. “Yes. Skilled, but little conditioning. And your Quirk may help you with skill, but I don’t think it gives you experience or the wisdom to apply that skill. For example.”

    The man was a wave, white crested as he towered over Izuku. One, two, three, four, five. A step back, to the side, deflected, deflected-

    He misses one. It hits like a hammerblow, just below his left ribs. The breath goes out of him. He sees the sixth coming-

    The world brightens and breath returns to his lungs, burning with triumphant Essence. His chest expands as the hand comes towards him, but he spins away from it, into the arm that just hit him. Asano-sensei’s eyes creep wider in the seemingly-glacial moment. His own hand closes around the teacher's wrist. He twists, pulls.

    The moment runs from ice to water. The larger man’s hand closes on his wrist, there’s a twisting movement - Fourth Form, Izuku thinks, his study on the dojo and its style flashing to mind, Stream-Turning Rock - and he’s on his back. Then a knee is on his chest, pressing down lightly.

    “-Three, four, five. And that’s that,” said Asano-sensei. He gets up off Izuku and offers him a hand to pull him to his feet. “Impressive skills, but you lack the physical conditioning to take advantage of them.” Izuku nods. He’s never truly run up against the limits of his own body like this. At almost every moment he could see the path to take, but at the same time knew that he couldn’t take it. It was like looking out through prison bars.

    “As for what I said about experience,” the teacher continues, retrieving Izuku’s water bottle and tossing it to him. “You only acted defensively. You cannot win a fight with pure defense.”

    “I-I know,” replies the green-haired boy. “But… I knew if I tried to attack you’d counter me, so I stayed on the defensive.”

    “And therein lies the issue. A more experienced fighter would know that, in a situation where defeat is inevitable, any chance at victory is better than dragging out your defeat - unless, that is, you know that help is coming.”


    That night, Izuku dreams of cities of jade, carnelian and gold. He dreams of smiling men and women in moonshine-silver, star-gleaming steel and sun-bright gold dancing beneath a starless sky, hand-in-hand with stranger things he can’t put a name to. He remembers wars fought against tiger-faced monsters that danced the sky into storms, and of the armies that faced them, arrayed in jade and elemental splendour. He dreams of glory, beyond concrete and cars and high-rises and homelessness.

    When he wakes, he remembers things he’s read in textbooks and speculative essays, about where the world could have been had Quirks not appeared and plunged global civilization into years and decades of turmoil.

    He wonders whether hero means defending or striding forwards or being a star to grasp.


    And I'm back! Sorry for the wait, a lot of stuff came up.

    On the chapter, I'm sure that some people will get on my case about a Solar losing to a 'mere' mortal, but there's a few things to remember here: One, Izuku is still a shrimp, not having had All Might's workout-from-hell plan, while Asano is about twice his height, a master martial artist and generally a bit of a terror, two, there's the issue of experience Asano brought up and three, Izuku still managed to more-or-less hold his own against a very serious opponent for a baseline human. If this were in the game they'd be throwing around about the same number of dice - c. 9-11 apiece, - but I like to draw the line between skill and actual physical ability when there isn't specific magic being used to overcome that gap (my go-to example would be Increasing Strength Exercise), and in this regard Izuku is simply outclassed.

    Finally, I would like to give credit to a number of beta-readers, including the ever-wonderful GardenerBriareus, LoZCollector and ArmchairGeneral from Spacebattles and TheJSFFenix and IceCladShade from Ao3.

    As always, comments, discussion, questions and the catching of mistakes are more than welcome, but please keep it civil, sensible and on-topic.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
  12. lorimalron

    lorimalron Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    For Izuku it'll probably eventually be 'being a star to grasp'.
     
  13. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    At least partially, yes - that's kind of the role All Might took as the 'symbol of peace', after all; an inspiration to those who sheltered behind him. However, one fun thing about Exalted is that things are rarely that simple - the Solar Exalted are cast from the molds of god-kings and epic heroes, not superheroes. Glory and excellence are their provinces, not Superman-style always-saves-the-day.
     
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  14. Index: 3: Confrontation
    QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    3: Confrontation

    Monday dawns grey and cool, with the faint scent of coming rain on the air. Fog hangs low over the apartment blocks and curls around the upper reaches of the city centre’s distant skyscrapers as Izuku sets off for school. As always, the sun pulls him like a magnet, even through the blanketing clouds. As he climbs onto the bus, he wonders whether the Sun has Essence too. Is that what calls to him from so far away, like its light warms his face? He doesn’t know, but he notes it down to think about later.

    The bus runs through a few blocks before it reaches the stop outside Aldera Junior High and begins to fill. Izuku counts the stops and makes sure he’s out of the way when it draws to a halt at Kacchan’s stop - he doesn’t want to get in his friend’s way. The blond-haired boy doesn’t seem to notice him, turning aside to talk to one of his other friends, who hangs onto a handle with fingers as long as his arms. Izuku buries himself in his book, A Long History of a Short Period: the Quirk Revolution. It’s a good one; a little light on specific details but excellent in terms of explaining the larger trends and the cat’s cradle of different movements and reactions to the emergence of Quirks.

    It’s a little strange, imagining a world where everyone has two eyes on the front of their face, only a handful of colours in skin or hair, and no pro heroes. According to the book, Japan in particular was quite homogenous. It sounds like a very dull world to live in.

    The final stop comes soon enough. Izuku glances at the page number as he puts the book away, then climbs off the bus, trailing a little behind the crowd. There’s a familiar sweet spot, far enough back from the lead of the pack that he’s not in the midst, but not far enough back that he becomes a target - more than usual, at least. He falls into it habitually, blending into the forest of dark uniforms and the rising rhythms of the school day.

    When he comes to the door, through, he sees something new; something he’s never seen before: Kacchan is waiting just inside, glowering at everything and nothing as he leans against the end of one of the blocks of lockers. Izuku shrinks back a little into the throng of morning students, but his friend's eyes pick him out. Kacchan is a rock parting the sea, scattering students to either side, his hand an impossible weight. The green-haired boy’s breath seizes in his throat as it falls on his shoulder. He can smell a wisp of smoke.

    “Meet me by the gates after school, Deku.”

    And then Kacchan’s gone, a monolith vanishing into the far distance. Izuku breathes, deeply in and then out again. Whispers breathe around him, students turning aside to talk to one another. He wishes he could sink into the ground; starting a day off like this is a surefire sign that it’s going to be one of the worse ones. He’s on people’s minds now, and though things have gotten better since his Quirk manifested he’s not exactly the most popular in school. He resigns himself to keeping his notebooks in the bottom of his bag for the day.

    Sure enough, as the day wears on and he feels the hot-heavy pressure of Kacchan’s eyes on his back, he’s disturbed. A knot of students corners him by the lockers and mocks him for his late Quirk - their taunts hurt a little, but the noon-warm pulse of Essence within reassures - and a second group, girls, come over to his desk at the end of a period and ask him for help on their homework. He politely, but firmly, refuses. He’s accepted that kind of request before, and it’s only ended in him doing all the work himself, or worse.

    Finally, school wears to a close. He’s done the day’s homework in his breaks, barring the worksheet given out in the last lesson of the day. He’s prepared for however long Kacchan wants to keep him for.

    Sure enough, when he reaches Aldera’s gates, the ash-blond is waiting. He’s leaning against one of the pillars, face drawn tight and hard over the bone. Izuku can hear the rippling whispers of the other students as they pass; Bakugou’s waiting for Midoriya there. What do you think it’s about? I heard they used to be friends, you know. That last one stings a little. Used to? Kacchan wouldn’t have called him over here if they weren’t anymore.

    Emerging from the throng of homegoing students, Izuku waves. Kacchan’s eyes narrow and he kicks off of the pillar. “Come on, nerd.” Without another word, he sets off down the sidewalk. The green-haired boy jogs briefly to catch up.

    “So… What do you want to talk about, Kacchan?”

    “Shuddup, nerd,” Katsuki growled. “Not in front of the fuckin’ extras.”

    Izuku closes his mouth, trotting along beside the taller boy. He’s a bundle of energy, tightly-wound as a spring. It doesn’t take any trace of Essence to see the emotion Kacchan’s keeping bottled up inside.

    No, emotions, he realizes. No single feeling could suffuse Katsuki’s steps like that, no one passion set the tiny glimmer of aborted spark-chains dancing across his palm, smothered by a diamond will before they could fully bloom.

    He’s twisted up inside, Izuku thinks, the glimpse into his childhood friend’s heart unsettling him. What could have put him so off balance? Kacchan was always saying that he was Quirkless, weak, that he should leave being a hero to the ones with the talent for it. Shouldn’t he be happy that his friend had gained that talent - that they could stride forwards like that together, now? Kacchan had always been one to burn - but he burned brief, like his explosions, raging and then subsiding again. He didn’t bottle things up, he said them. So why?

    They turn a corner. Izuku recognizes this street; it runs back towards their houses, past a little park they used to play in when they were younger. He remembers the stream, the whispering trees, the dens of sticks they put together and that they had both delighted in blowing up, in that brief time between his friend receiving his Quirk and him being told that no such thing would ever happen to him.

    Sure enough, Kacchan comes to the gate and opens it, letting it swing behind him as he stalks through. Izuku catches it before it closes and follows. The park isn’t how the green-haired boy remembers it, shining in the summer sun and with every leaf sparkling with laughter. It’s mid-afternoon, the sky’s grey and brooding. The trees lean in close, muttering wordlessly to one another as the wind trails long fingers through their branches.

    Finally, they come to a stop. It’s in a little clearing, a deliberately-placed tree trunk forming a bench with its flattened top. Kacchan deliberately walks up to it, swings his bag off his shoulder and sets it down against the bench. The green-haired boy can see how his hand shakes minutely in the moment between releasing its grip on the heavy bag and clenching into a fist. Kacchan turns, and somehow Izuku can’t quite see his friend behind them.

    The blond seems about to say something, but then swallows and visibly strangles the words. His fists clench at his sides, the muscles of his neck are taut. Every inch is pulled like a piano string. He’s a vision of fury. Izuku can read it in every line, every crack - anger at himself, at Deku, at the world. And, more than that, confusion, written as if into his very bones. Every sinew sings the question why, and he’s angry at that too, more than anything.

    There’s only one thing Kacchan could want to talk about this badly, the thing that changed both of them: their Quirks. That’s been the thing between them for forever - the thing Katsuki had and he didn’t, the unbridgeable divide. But things are different now.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about it, before,” Izuku begins. “Shut up!” he’s cut off. The sound startles him. It’s not Kacchan’s usual yell, angry and brash but still self-possessed under all of that. It’s red-scraped and raw, confused and angry and hurting and he was wrong to see a storm in the blond; he’s not a force, he’s a person.

    “Shut. Up. I’ve got a question to ask you, Deku, and you’re gonna answer.”

    Kacchan is visibly grasping at every shred of control. Saying ‘Deku’ seems to help, lets him get a purchase in the conversation once more.

    “What...” Once again, the question seems to die on Kacchan’s tongue. Essence runs with a hot flush through Izuku’s limbs. He only barely knows what he brought the green-haired boy here to ask. That’s how deep this uncertainty runs. “Tu- turn on your Quirk.”

    For a moment, Izuku’s taken aback. “What?”

    Anger. “I said turn on your fucking Quirk, Deku!”

    Izuku closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again his aura’s glowing over his skin, a soft radiance like the summer sun through leaves. He feels warmer.

    Kacchan jabs a finger at him. “That. Where the fuck did that come from? What, were you keeping it a secret from me all this time? Laughing at me being wrong? And then you just fucking pull it out to-” Strangled again. Izuku can hear the words, though, clearly as if they’d been said: save me.

    “I didn’t keep it a secret, Kacchan,” Izuku tries to protest placatingly. “I didn’t have it until then.”

    “Bullshit,” the blond replies, stalking close. “I’ve read every fucking book I could get my hands on. Quirks. Don’t. Just. Appear. Not when you’re that old. Just doesn’t fucking happen.” His voice is low, menacing. Murderous, Izuku thinks, and surprises himself by thinking it. The word doesn’t really fit Kacchan - or it shouldn’t. He’s a hero, after all, or going to be one. Wrathful, righteous, even just plain angry are all fitting for that.

    But no, that’s what Izuku thought his friend was. The Essence pulsing through him assures him that he’s right, what he’s hearing is there. What his friend is, before him, is not what he thought he was.

    The moment passes, and the sun-disc flares to life on his forehead.

    “Then what am I, Bakugou?” Izuku surprises himself by using the blond’s family name. But the widened eyes show that it - or perhaps his tone, alloyed with Essence and purpose - has hit home. “Why can I do this? How did I save you?

    His eyes burn, his senses alight. The whole clearing seems to pulse with energy, the living world responding to the tension. That was an exposed nerve, a flaw in the other boy’s diamond soul, and he just hit it dead on.

    It’s almost painful, seeing the crack widen. But this isn’t right. A hero shouldn’t be so hardened. A hero isn’t what Bakugou is, now. He has to break through, shatter that certainty in this moment, or he’s not sure it ever will be - and he doesn’t want to see Bakugou go any further with a heart like that.

    The blond’s mouth is open, just a fraction. Izuku’s intuition latches onto it - uncertainty, speechlessness. The diamond mountain isn’t; it’s glass. The boy’s mind burns with purpose and an awful realization: to get through to Bakugou, he’s going to have to break him, at least a bit.

    “You’re not a hero, Bakugou. Not yet. Not like this.”

    “Fuck you-!”

    “No!” Izuku’s voice lashes like a whip, the force of a hammerblow behind it. “You don’t get to not see this, Bakugou!” The repetition is getting through. “You’re not helping people! You’re bullying them! Terrorising them! Terrorising me!” The words bite and claw at izuku’s throat, but he has to get them out. If he doesn’t do so now they’ll never be said. They sting his eyes, but they need to be let out. “I thought we were friends, but I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t thinking. I was afraid of you.”

    “So what?” Bakugou’s voice cracks. “People should be scared of heroes! That’s what stops them doin’ bad shit!”

    “Did All Might ever make you afraid?” Izuku’s voice has dropped almost to a whisper, but the barb hits home. “He inspires people! Tells them it’ll be alright. He’s the hero who saves the day with a smile on his face.” A pause. “The ones who make people afraid… are the villains.”

    Once again, Bakugou’s reeling. Izuku softens his voice, “You’re not a villain, Kacchan. Not yet. But you could be, can be, if you don’t think about what you’re doing. I am going to UA. I’m going to get onto the hero course there, because I have a Quirk that I can use to help others. I’m not doing it because of you, to support you or to mock you. What I want has nothing to do with you.”

    Tears are pricking at his eyes now in earnest, but he doesn’t let them fall. He can’t, yet.

    “We were friends, I think. And maybe one day we can be again. I hope...” He stops. He knows his voice would have cracked. “We can meet again, as equals. But not for now. Goodbye, Bakugou Katsuki.”

    Midoriya Izuku turns and walks away from the boy who had defined so much of his life. He can feel Bakugou’s eyes on his back, hear the half-coherent spluttering. Maybe a month ago he would have been afraid to turn his back on his fr- Bakugou, but now he knows all too well that his words have been driven like stakes into his heart, holding him back and forcing him to stop and think. It’s not until he’s left the park that he lets the tears fall.

    He doesn’t know what he’s crying for. The death of Kacchan? Just the stress of it all? He wipes at his eyes with a sleeve. When he gets home, he sinks into bed still-clothed, and is asleep in moments.




    The morning light slants through the window that Izuku didn’t close the night before, splaying red fingers across his wall. He can feel the sun outside, still flushed with the dawn. He turns over and puts his back to it, drawing the covers over him. His dreams had been confused melees of faces twisted in anger, red on the floor and red on the walls. He wonders, in the dark between mattress and cover, what it says about him that his mind can conjure so vivid an image of death and betrayal that he could all but smell the iron mingling with the glazed meats.

    The sun has climbed a little way when he hears the door opening - no creak.

    “Izu-kun?”

    The green-haired boy stays still, feigning sleep.

    “Did something… happen yesterday?”

    He says nothing, but feels a prickling begin to build in his eyes. Kacchan’s- no, Bakugou’s, he has to remember that - face drifts before him, contorted. People should be scared of heroes!

    How did he miss it? All that time.

    “Breakfast is ready. If you don’t feel up to school I can call in and tell them.”

    That rouses him - he can’t imagine facing school today.

    “...Yes please,” he murmurs.

    “Alright, sweetie. I’ll call them,” his mother says softly. Two steps, and then a gentle hand is on his shoulder through the coverlet. “Do you want me to bring food in, or...” The question hangs.

    Izuku turns to look up at Inko. Her face is haloed by the rising sun at the window. “...I’ll come out. Just a moment.”

    She nods, smiling gently. “It’s tamagoyaki - plenty of protein, for all the muscle you’re building.” She pokes his shoulder. He laughs. It’s better, for a moment.

    The weight of yesterday comes crashing back down as he finishes the layered eggs. His mom wants to ask - the curiosity and worry shines through every feature - but she doesn’t.

    “So,” she says. “Aldera said that you could stay home for the day, but they’d send over the homework from your classes.”

    He nods, finishing the last of his egg and rice.

    “I’m going to have to head out soon. Just, promise me you’ll keep safe. Don’t open the door to any strangers, all that. I know you’ve got your Quirk now, but you’re not a pro hero yet.” She smiles, but even the mention of pro heroes reminds him of Kac- Bakugou all over again. He opens his mouth, almost voicing the question - When did Kacchan stop being my friend?. What comes out instead is “I won’t, mom.”

    A few minutes later, he’s washing off the dishes as Inko wishes him a last goodbye, slips her shoes on and closes the door behind her. He finishes the job, stacking them neatly in the rack, then catches himself staring at the dripping china. He slaps his cheeks, lightly, to bring himself back. It helps, but the whole day still has a kind of hallucinatory feeling as he starts to dry his hands.

    Izuku goes back to his room and boots up the computer, but the hero-news and forum-posts just scroll by without being taken in. The idea of doing any real work feels like an impossible proposition. He closes it down. He glances over at the bed. The covers are warm and inviting- but he doesn’t just want to spend the whole day in bed. Mechanically, he climbs up from his chair and begins to make the bed, smoothing the covers carefully. From there, the movement just continues. He re-organizes his comics, his figurines, his books. He vacuums the floor, and then the rest of the apartment. By the time he stops, he can feel the subtle warmth of the sun directly above.

    He boils rice for lunch and eats it plain, then leaves the apartment, locking the door behind him. The walls feel constricting, like they’re squeezing him out.

    The boy begins to wander. He didn’t really leave with anywhere in mind to go, so he goes everywhere. His feet trace the labyrinth of streets and pathways that sprawl outwards from his home. Some, he knows well. He and Bakugou used to explore them when they were little. Some, he doesn’t. He follows them too, noting every gum-scar on the pavement, every weed and every leaning tree. There aren’t many others on the streets; most are either in school or at work. He runs into a policewoman once, but it only takes a touch of Essence to convince her of the truth - that he’s home ill. Some part of him wonders how bad he looks, that she believes him so easily.

    Eventually, though, he finds his feet have led him back to the park from Monday. He hesitates at the gate, but finally plucks up the courage to open it and step in. The low sun throws long shadows of the trees over the ground. He half-expects Bakugou to leap out from behind one of them. He doesn’t. The bench where the… confrontation had happened only a day before was bare and dry. Not knowing what else to do, he sits.

    The afternoon is warm. The whisper of the leaves seems like a lullaby, or maybe a soft, loving murmur. It is peaceful, and suddenly Izuku hates it. He hates the trees and the wind and the little stream are so calm and serene when just yesterday they were witness to everything about him turning upside-down.

    There is a cracking sound, and suddenly he realizes that his aura is up. The light of it is visibly bleaching the bench, peeling its varnish, and his clenching hand has snapped one of the slats of the bench.

    The anger breaks like a wave, and the tears like a flood.



    So, took me a while, yes? But, hey, got there in the end. I know it's shorter than usual, for whatever that means, but I hope you enjoy it.

    I'd like to thank GardenerBriareus, LoZCollector and ArmchairGeneral from Spacebattles and TheJSFFenix and IceCladShade from Ao3 for betaing this.

    As always, comments, discussion, questions and the catching of mistakes are more than welcome, but please keep it civil, sensible and on-topic.
     
  15. freakytiki34

    freakytiki34 Getting some practice in, huh?

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    This is one of my favorite MHA stories, and I'm looking forward to wherever you go with it.
     
  16. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    I'm immensely glad to hear that, especially after what I could generously call my 'leave of absence'. The worst thing is I don't really have an excuse for it beyond 'I couldn't but the final five paragraphs on this damn thing'.
     
  17. freakytiki34

    freakytiki34 Getting some practice in, huh?

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    It happens. Also, I'm not sure where you got the idea for his sun awareness, but it's an amazing little detail and definitely part of my exalted headcanon now.
     
  18. Bagrat

    Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

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    Yes! It's back! The director is going to be so jealous I get to read the chapter before her.

    But heads-up, the thread mark for this chapter is in a different tab than the other two.
     
  19. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    It is canon.
    Ah, thanks for the heads-up. Should be fixed now.
     
  20. Bagrat

    Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

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    It's in the right spot, but it's out of order. You have 1 and 2 coming after 3.
     
  21. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Now?
     
    Bagrat likes this.
  22. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    His Iconic Anima is very bland, especially for a Solar. A cape...

    Only real complaint

    Watched

    I think the Solars fit better with Fallen Heroes than Lunars.
     
  23. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    There's more to it than that. Izuku can't see all of it at that moment, in the same way it's tricky to see your back.
     
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  24. Bagrat

    Bagrat (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

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    Looks like everything's in order.

    Seriously, though. I love the chapter and I'm glad to finally see a story where Bakugo is given a reality check.
     
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  25. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    He cannot just look up? Does he have a neck injury? Shouldn't that have healed with his Second Breath (And didn't his mom explain why it terrified people?)>

    This is more in line with demonic or ghostly prayer. The only requirement of prayer is a sacrifice of time. Greater sacrifices can make it easier to be heard by the spirit being prayed to, but it isn't necessary for the spirit to benefit, so i wouldn't say it demands sacrifice.

    FTFY. It makes no sense for him to be confused about a guy either being in his early 40s or late 50s. Even a person is excellent health looks very different between those age ranges.

    Reread everything, and I am very happy about this being continued!

    Can you quote where the Anima Reactor is explained? I cannot find it in the information or apocrypha sections.
     
  26. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Ah, that was probably a bad way of putting it. What I meant was that his anima is... unusually mutable, I guess, responding to the situation and the viewer, and besides that is somewhat abstract. Essentially, rather than being a specific 'thing', it 'embellishes' him as a vision of heroism - whatever that means to the viewer - and sort of refracts the world around him into a more perfect state. It's a lens through which a better world can be seen.

    Admittedly, I was taking inspiration from American Gods there, and thus it taking time is a sacrifice - a sacrifice of time that could be spent on something else.

    Ah, thanks for catching that.

    The gist of it is that all motes are personal, and unless you have your anima up you regen motes at 5/hour when active, or 10/hour when resting. The anima is the side-effect of... heating up the reactor, so to speak, and the higher your anima the more motes you regenerate (mechanically 2/turn for Glowing, 5/turn for Burning and 10/turn for Iconic). It's so that you don't get the faintly-ridiculous situation of one of the glorious Chosen running out of gas, and so that anima serves as an actual power-aura, not a sign that you're on the ropes due to dipping into Peripheral motes. Though, having it at any level higher than Glowing is exhausting (mechanically you need to roll (Stamina + Integrity) at the end of the scene or suffer fatigue penalties for Burning, or just pass out with Iconic).
     
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  27. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    A few seconds isn't much of a sacrifice :p (IIRC [and I could be influenced by an Exalted God!Taylor fic] you can combine the act of praying with other tasks that helps you, as long as it aligns with the spirits domain, aka a god of a hospital could be prayed to by a doctor examining a patient, performing surgery, or organizing medical paperwork; the actions themselves being the prayer, since it aids the hospital [making money, improving reputation, supporting it, etc.]. However if the task has nothing to do with the domain, then it cannot be doubled up)

    Is this a thing from that fic, or something from 3E? It sounds very familiar.

    Thanks for the answers!

    Edit: Still haven't quite fixed it.
    Getting into means turning 40 (or even possibly being in his late 30s). Be being definitive, it erases said ambiguity created by the phrasing.
     
  28. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    And that's true, but there's a difference between that kind of, hmm, casual prayer and trying to get an actual answer from the Most High - that's going to require something serious to get his attention.

    I stole it from Kerisgame on Sufficient Velocity, because I like the way it works.
     
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  29. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Depends on a few things. The characters traits is one (and their Excellencies), but when it comes to Ignis Divine, he is addicted to the Games of Divinity. Even a E10 Zenith sacrificing Wealth 5 would be lucky to get more than a basic answer (and such a sacrifice and priesthood would lower the roll to -1 being a success -_-). More realistically, Ignis would pass it on to a lackey to answer the prayer.
     
  30. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    I mean, that was kind of my point. Though you're making a hell of an assumption thinking that the cosmology/celestial situation of this fic is identical to Creation.
     
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