A/N: A few months ago I decided to revamp and rewrite Headstart. Two matters of business to cover is 1) There will only be hints of a relationship and 2) The story will end with the aftermath of the Hero License Exam.
Edit finished 4 August 2018. Beta provided by Kylekatarn77.
I was four when I discovered that not all men were created equal. Many are born with quirks: superhuman abilities and characteristics, mutations and adaptations. They've come to dominate society in a way not seen since the earliest discoveries: fire, bronze, chariots. While eighty percent of the world is born with a quirk, there are those who aren't born with such gifts. I am one of them, that twenty percent – only three percent in Japan – without a quirk. I was born quirkless, destined for an unfulfilled life, for I wanted more than anything to be a hero.
In the early years of our quirk society, many with quirks used their abilities to commit crime, and some went beyond simple crime to become true villains, interested in destroying, remaking, and controlling society. As such, heroes arose to fight them and to save people. And the greatest of all heroes lives today: All Might. Nobody knows much about who he is and what his quirk is, but when he first appeared some ten years ago, saving people with a laugh and a smile, everyone knew he would become the greatest.
They call him the Symbol of Peace.
It was when I was ten that I got my opportunity to begin my own journey and become a hero!
"Now this is something new, but the government has mandated that everyone ten years of age is to take the Heroic Reasoning and Logistics Test, or HRLT for short," the teacher said, her voice tired and monotone. "Many Pro Heroes, including All Might, were involved with designing this test, so do take it seriously. The purpose of this test is to sort through and organize those considering become heroes and potentially be given an easier route into various heroic high schools, including U.A. High."
Although Izuku Midoriya had been closely paying attention to his teacher's statement, he straightened in his seat hearing the words 'U.A. High.' He glanced around and saw that nearly everyone else had straightened up too, excited. Naturally, that included Katsuki Bakugou. Of course Kacchan would be interested. He has such a versatile and powerful quirk in explosions, and he has the confidence to be a great Pro Hero.
"You will be given only one hour to complete the test. Anyone who doesn't within the time limit would be best served giving up their dream of becoming a hero." There was some grumbling, but they were all focused on the test.
Izuku watched as thick packets were handed out, stacks shrinking as they moved backwards. He passed on all but one test when a stack came to him and his eyes immediately went to the name. It really is a Heroic Reasoning and Logistics Test. I should do well, memorizing all five of my Journals for My Future. Hopefully nothing requires us to approach a scenario using our own quirk…
"And you can begin…now!"
Papers shuffled as they all turned over the first page. Izuku read the first question and grinned.
1. A five-story building contains two villains, both with Shapeshifting Quirks. They have taken twenty-seven civilians hostage. Three heroes have responded. One has a Pyrokinetic Quirk, the second with a Chameleon Quirk, and the third with a Speed Quirk. How do they take down the villains while minimizing property destruction and injuries?
When the hour ended, Izuku struggled to suppress his grin. Not only had he finished the test, and judging from the groans many didn't, but he also felt proud of his answers. Especially on that final question about whether heroes suddenly move to save people. I mean, why wouldn't they? All Might said that it was possible.
A lanky man with long blonde hair walked into the office of U.A. High's principal early on a Saturday morning. He grumbled as the large white rodent in suit and tie poured two cups of tea, steam floating from the ceramic cups. He slid one across his desk as the lanky man sat down to face him.
"Why have you summoned me on such secretive terms, Nedzu?" the lanky man asked. He took a cup and sipped, smiling with the warmth. "The only hero I know that operates in such a manner is Eraserhead, though he was like that as a student."
Nedzu smiled at the recollection of the newest instructor. "We just received the final results of the Heroic Reasoning and Logistics Test," he said. "I know you were uncertain about the test, what with the current government originally designing it for the sole purpose of selecting a successor for you and One for All – "
"I am aware of the purpose of the HRLT. I was the one who suggested it could be used to help build the next generation of heroes. Plus, we both know how important it is that if something happens to me that there'll be someone to take up my mantle as the Symbol of Peace, but theat is still years away."
"Naturally, Toshinori." Nedzu set down his tea and scooted forward. "After your fight with All for One two years ago, both we at U.A. High and the government believe it best to begin preparing your successor. With your predecessor's death at All for One's hands, it is of the greatest importance that your quirk is protected from the villains that remain. She did last for several more years after initially passing One for All onto you, so we believe you will last until your successor receives their provisional license, should the worst happen."
"You must have a name then. Who is it?" Toshinori asked.
Nedzu nodded and slid a portfolio across the table. Toshinori flipped the cover and stared at the photo of a nervous boy with green hair and freckles. Frowning, he glanced up at the Principal, who had stood from his chair to walk around the table. "His name is Izuku Midoriya. Among the thirteen percent of testers that finished within the given hour, he achieved a feat that the test design team thought impossible.
"His answers matched yours nearly word for word. While some of the three hundred thousand children who took the test wrote answers similar to yours and there were some who reflected other heroes, his lived up to the school motto. There were a few that were close, but Midoriya not only had a unique insight into the ways in which quirks work and how they can be applied to a variety of situations, but he identified your connection to the final question." Nedzu paused and smiled, head leaned back and eyes close. "It is quite clear he is thoroughly aware of the operations of most Pro Heroes, even Aizawa, who is quite secretive as you said. That likely played a role into his insight, especially since he is quirkless."
Toshinori's eyes went wide and he reopened the Midoriya file. He scanned through the basic government report until he eyes rested on "Quirk: Not Applicable". I never did consider a quirkless successor. Nana truly believed in me, just as I should believe in whomever I pass One for All to.
"I know you well enough, Toshinori, to know what you're thinking. I believe this boy would be a perfect successor. There are a few years before he'll be an eligible candidate for U.A., but I know you can train and prepare him not only for this institution, but to control One for All by the time he arrives. It would be concerning if he were to arrive and suffer from self-inflicted injuries."
As always, Toshinori could feel the power of One for All simmering just beneath his skin, waiting for him to draw upon it. He allowed it to fill his lanky frame and he popped into the large, muscular form the public knew best. "He's perfect! Nana would approve of him, although I think I will give him a test of my own. It's one thing to be creative and match my own way of thinking on heroics. However, One for All is a demanding quirk and he will be more powerful than me once he comes into his own. A test that will push his endurance, determination, and build strength will be perfect."
Nedzu's head tilted. "Oh? How do you plan to test him? As you know, I have many ideas on testing and maybe if you ask kindly I will tell you all about them!"
"You know Seaside Park? I will give him exactly ten months to clear a section of the beach. Were he preparing for U.A., I would have him clear the entire beach. If he does it, I know he will be ready to accept One for All, hopefully with little oversight by our favorite healer. If not, then he will have to wait until his thirteenth birthday to receive it, assuming he continues to build up his personal strength."
"Ah," Nedzu said, understanding. "Not only will you make sure he will be ready to accept One for All and the stress it will put on his body, but you'll confirm his drive and will to surpass expectations placed upon him. He will need to do so if he is to become the Symbol of Peace, as we're hoping. I'm impressed, Toshinori." He grinned. "I approve. Once young Midoriya has finished your trial, I will talk with a few pro heroes to aid you in teaching him to control One for All." Toshinori opened his mouth to interject, but Nedzu continued on. "Reading his test and his records gives me no reason to doubt he will succeed. You will have to speak with Recovery Girl once that time comes. It is likely during those first few months he will injure himself and we don't need the press or any villain hoping to make a name discover your successor. Much is at stake here."
"I will go and speak with Midoriya and his family." He scooped up the file. "Now it is time for an exit. Why? Because I am done here!" With that, Toshinori stood and released his muscular form with a plume of smoke. No blood this time. That's a good sign.
Izuku ignored the fact nobody spoke to him as his class waited for their test results. Their teacher had told them, in her tired manner, that their test results had been sent to their school and would be distributed to them the day after. Something about the results had required them to sit on them for a full day instead of being released immediately. Today is the day! If I did well enough, I might just be able to get into U.A., even if I don't have a quirk. The door flew open and their teacher marched in, shoulders back and head high. She strutted to the from of the class and set down a stack smaller than the HRLTs.
"Three hundred thousand students, all age ten, took this test last month," she began, fingers tapping the papers. "While many wrote answers that matched the various pro heroes in the limelight, only one was able to match the answers provided by All Might."
"You saying one of us matched All Might?" a girl with floating hair asked. She had been one of seven to finish the test, although she had been frowning afterwards.
"I am." Her eyes scanned the class once more before falling upon Izuku. "Even I was surprised when Izuku Midoriya's name was attached to that test."
The class turned to him, full of angry whispers and curious looks. He shrunk back, wishing he could slide under his desk and disappear. A smoking hand slammed his desk, leaving a blackened outline.
"How did you do it, Deku?" Katsuki's questioning wasn't the bellow the green-haired kid expected, but a low tone that seemed more threatening than burns and bruises. His red eyes pulsed with anger and the smoke from his hand grew thick and dark. "Did you cheat? What would a quirkless Deku like you know about quirks and being a hero?"
"I…I, uh…I don't know!" he squeaked out. I can't imagine what Kacchan would think about my journals. "I j-just wrote wha-at I thought wa-was right. How c-c-could I know All M-Might's would be-e the same?"
Katsuki continued to stare down at Izuku for a few more moments before grinning. "Don't let your little success go to your head, Deku. Unless you suddenly develop a quirk, your surprise test result will just be just that. A surprise. When I'm a hero, I may just allow you to manage my career."
The teacher sighed. "Please sit, Bakugou. I'll hand out your results and you can look them over. They all include the hero your answers matched best." She paced around the class, handing paper after paper to their recipient. When she reached Izuku, she leaned near to him and said, "Be proud of your accomplishment, Midoriya. I was told that the only other person as close to All Might as yours is Shouto Todoroki, the son of the Number Two Hero, Endeavor. Be proud that you surpassed children with amazing quirks and high expectations to be heroes. If anyone has the capacity to be a quirkless hero, I would bet on you."
Izuku walked home in a daze. The fact he had best matched All Might on the HRLT compared to every other kid in Japan – who else could've taken that test when only three hundred thousand did? – had made him feel great, but the scorn it had brought from his classmates made him doubt anything would ever change for him. He had hoped Kacchan would react with something other than anger and the arrogance that had ruined their childhood friendship, but he was even more surprised that not even a couple people would congratulate him on his accomplishment. At least I get to tell mom myself. Maybe she'll make my favorite tonight!
When he reached the apartments where he lived, he frowned at the fancy black cars out front. A man with long black hair and a long, grey scarf watched him approach, leaning against the nearest car.
"You're Midoriya Izuku." The man's raspy voice surprised Izuku, who could only stare in shock that the man knew his name. Is he a pro hero? He doesn't look like he works for the government directly… The man shifted and Izuku's eyes spotted the golden goggles with bars over the eye sockets beneath the scarf.
"And you're Eraserhead, the Erasure Hero! Is this about the test?"
Eraserhead nodded. "Yes it is. Principal Nedzu of U.A. High and All Might are waiting for you with your mother. I suggest you head on up."
The boy nodded, still shocked a pro hero knew his name, and started up the staircase. As he reached the second landing, Eraserhead's parting words struck him. All Might is in my apartment! He's with the Principal of U.A.! And they're speaking with my… He broke into a run, rushing up the concrete stairs as if they were melting his shoes. When he reached the door, he paused, took in a deep breath, and entered the apartment.
His mother shuffled between the kitchen and their small dining room, carrying a tray of steaming mugs. She set them down and smiled. "Welcome home, Izuku. I was quite surprised when these two gentlemen showed up this afternoon. Apparently there was a test last month that you took at school and they wanted to speak with you about your results." She leaned close and whispered, "There's a pro hero in there. I think it could be All Might, but he looks a little different than usual."
Izuku frowned as he followed his mother, tray in hand, into the small dining room. One of them was an animal dressed in fine clothes, the scar over his left eye standing out against his white fur. The other was tall and lanky, his blond hair hanging long over his shoulders and his clothes a size or two larger than it should be. Two bangs hung over his face and his mother's words made sense, for the lanky man could only be All Might.
"If we may introduce ourselves, I am Nedzu, Principal of U.A. High," the white rodent said. "My friend here is Toshinori Yagi, a Pro Hero."
"I never would've guessed that All Might has a form different compared to his heroic persona," Izuku blurted out. Nedzu smiled while Toshinori flushed. "I…I'm sorry if that was t-too forward."
"Yes, I am All Might," Toshinori said. In a blink, his body expanded into the familiar muscular form of the Symbol of Peace. "We have come to speak with you, young Midoriya. Tell me, what do you wish for more than anything?"
"I want to be a hero," Izuku said, eyes blazing. A moment passed and his passion faltered like a stalling engine. "Everyone says that someone without a quirk cannot become a hero. Even the HRLT implied that a hero needs a quirk."
"They're technically correct," Nedzu said. "It is more difficult for those who do not have a quirk to deal with the strain of training and the powers of villains. However, we have a solution for you. There was an underlying purpose to the test you took, one that few know about."
All Might stepped forward, knelt before Izuku, and with a smile said, "How would you like to become my successor? To become a Hero!"