Pree A/N: In complete contrast to my prior decision about having a 'whole chapter about everyone except Shirou, followed by a chapter of solely Shirou', I've decided to portray them occurring at the same time. L33t Horo managed to convince me to do this, and I think it ended up being better than I thought it would be, albeit longer than I initially thought.
Beta: L33t Horo
It had been a relatively ordinary day.
Sure, there was a surplus of villains to take care of, but with how many professionals were at Hosu 24/7, it was relatively easy to deal with. There was the odd team-up here and there to deal with particularly troublesome quirks, but overall manageable.
With the plan to capture the Hero-Killer in motion these past few days, Shinso honestly believed everything would be under control.
All thoughts of control had left the moment that Endeavor's pillar of fire appeared.
And following it, a horde of monsters.
Shinso ducked as a blackened limb flew overhead. The owner of said limb mindlessly stared at where he had been before correcting itself seconds later. The U.A. student could retreat as the monster's immense strength collapsed the sidewalk he had stood on just seconds prior.
That was what the police reports had labeled them. Nomu, in other words, meant the brainless. Shinso thought that to be a contradicting statement when the monster had its brain exposed for all eyes to see.
It had been… particularly disgusting to watch it jiggle as it tried to clobber him to death, but Shinso had been trained to evade more than assault.
As such, he was entirely out of his element.
"Why'd it have to be me?" he lamented as he watched a car flatten from one of its attacks. He compared how durable the car was in comparison to himself before he raised a finger to his communicator. "Uwabami-sama, I'm currently engaged with a Nomu. Requesting backup."
"Shinso!?" He heard his mentor's startled voice, likely she had not expected his call. "Shit. Alright, I'll notify the ones closest to you to send aid. We're a little busy at the moment–!"
She was cut off by what sounded like the aftermath of an explosion, which meant that the fight at her location was several times more than what he was experiencing. Just when he was feeling worried at the lack of response, he heard his communicator crackle as he turned a street corner.
The Nomu was right behind him, but due to its lack of eyes, it was slowly lumbering its way towards him. That being said, it was accurately deducing where he was. Did it have some kind of sensory quirk? The reports did mention that these things could have multiple of them…
"Sorry, I'll cut this short. It's not just the Nomu we're dealing with here. Long story short, the operation on Stain is a bust. We're dealing with a large-scale assault by the League of Villains. After help gets there, focus on evacuating civilians. As much as it pains me to admit this, but your quirk…"
Won't be of any use here.
He knew that the moment the Nomu had not even uttered a word of response. And since the League of Villains were here, it also meant that those other monsters, from the Beast's blood quirk, were immune to him.
"Understood," he replied tersely. He had to leave his hiding spot as the quirked behemoth smashed its way through the corner. "I'll try to keep this thing occupied until help arrives."
"Got it. Take care and try not to die, Shinso."
She could not see his nod but knew he had received those words.
Although, easier said than done.
Cutting off the communication, Shinso analyzed the area he had found himself in. It was obviously a recreational district with all the playground equipment everywhere, but they were destroyed, likely from other Nomu and black blood monsters roaming the streets.
Which made it all the more dangerous to be alone. In this current situation, he was little more than quirkless.
"Well, you brainless oaf…" he sighed. "Shall we?"
As expected, it did not respond to his provocations.
Shinso waited by a rotating wheel – a Merry-go-round – as the behemoth charged. A perfectly timed dodge caused the monster to crash into it. Unfortunately, the result wasn't as comical as he imagined, seeing as the behemoth had utterly caved the thing in two.
New plan. The mental controller leaped away as the giant got back onto its feet and waited by a set of chain-supported swings. This time, the Nomu did not lumber his way towards him but launched like a missile silo.
In a fit of mild panic, Shinso ducked as the Nomu crashed into the chain swings and completely totaled the playground equipment. Fortunately, the chains wrapped around it like a bind, but unfortunately, the behemoth had clipped his left arm. It was bruised and felt sore just by brushing against it, but he couldn't focus on treating it because the thing was already up and ready to charge again!
A good few seconds was all his wounded arm had bought.
Like a demented game of cat and mouse, Shinso fled as his life depended on it. He herded the mindless giant around the playground wreckage, using the playground to his advantage.
The sea-saws barely slowed it down. The slides only caused it to stumbled before it was destroyed. Even the monkey bars had completely caved in around it like a cage but were swiftly punted out of sight. It was frustrating because all the other playground equipment he could've used to stall for some time was already destroyed!
With no equipment left to abuse, Shinso sighed. He gripped a chain left over from the swing with his untouched right arm and eyed his surroundings.
"This really is a bad match-up," he idly noted, knowing by now that the Nomu could neither hear nor see him. He had guessed that its senses were based on heat, which was why it didn't notice the playground equipment. "Where are they? I should have bought enough time!"
"You definitely did!"
A giant fist battered the Nomu into the slides, wrecking it even more than it had been before.
"Did you miss me, Shinso?"
"Save the banter for after this thing is dealt with," he reprimanded. He frowned as he only noted her standing with him. "Is it just you, Kendo?" He would have thought there would be more dispatched to his area.
"The other pros are really busy," she said as she raised her fists. "But, I didn't come alone!"
A flash of red fell from above, likely one of the nearby skyscrapers, and caved the Nomu's chest in. A second flash of steel followed it and further crushed its skull.
"Did you just…" he muttered. "Kill it?"
"These things regenerate," Kendo said as the pair of hardening quirks retreated their way. True enough, the body got back even without a head, watching as a new brain was formed. "But, that's not the only thing causing the rest of the pros trouble…"
A new second pillar of fire made itself known north of them, tainting the night sky a warm orange.
However, he didn't focus on that. Atop the rest of the buildings, especially from where Tetsutetsu and Kirishima had jumped from, were several figures hunched over. They had horns, claws, spikes, and even tails, but only one thing remained consistent.
They were made of black flowing liquid.
"I suspected as such…" he muttered. He turned to those who had dropped in. "You two alright? That fall couldn't have been safe–"
It was then that he noticed that one of them was breathing more heavily than the other. One of them was hunched over and clutching his knees, a slow yet steady stream of sweat flowing from either side of his head.
"Get it together!" Tetsutetsu practically screamed. "We can take those black things. Just one good hit and they go down!"
"I know that!" The Class-1A student exclaimed. "I just… haven't gotten a good hit on them."
"Because all you do is run and let us pick up the slack!" Tetsutetsu growled. "When the hell did you get so unmanly!? Where's the Kirishima from a month ago!?"
"Cool your jets!" Kendo ordered as the black blood creatures flowed down the building like black tar. "We're going to be surrounded if we just stay here! We need to retreat. There's a barricade that the police set up so we should make use of that."
"Will the police be able to handle that though?" Shinso said.
The Nomu finally regenerated from having essentially two miniature meteorites crash onto it. He could tell that it was just as strong as when he faced it minutes earlier.
"We'll just have to hope that there'll be someone with a much better quirk to handle it than us," Kendo finalized. "We can outrun it, right?"
"Unless it decides it wants to charge– like right now!"
Tetsutetsu leaped in front of them completely covered in steel, only to be flung back by the impact. He crashed into a building, but he hung onto the window gasping for breath.
Kendo reacted by grabbing both him and Kirishima and running as fast as she could. "Let me know when it tries to charge!"
Kirishima growled but nodded. "Got it!"
Tetsutetsu landed beside them as they drew near and ran alongside them. However, Kendo did toss him onto him as Kirishima got off to run on his own, so now it was just the steel man carrying the mental manipulator.
He would have run by himself, but he knew how exhausted he was just trying to survive that Nomu. Kendo definitely knew that.
"This plan has definitely gone off the rails," he sighed once more.
"It's charging!" Kirishima warned.
In unison, the four of them dived out of the way as the Nomu barreled through the middle of them. However, it impacted the ground and created a small crater. It would likely be stuck there for a bit, so they took the time to flee.
They upped their pace once they noticed the black creatures rapidly gaining on them in the distance, forms changing from bipeds into quadrupeds.
Those monsters… were created by the Beast, which was supposed to be Emiya and Mount-Lady's job. If their plan failed and the entire coalition is fighting the League of Villain's Nomu and the Beast's black blood…
Where were the two people who were supposed to handle this, and why were they naive to think that just two people could've handled all those black-blood monstrosities?
Where is Emiya?
Two meters wide and ten across.
The alleyway in which Shirou had first fought Avenger had not changed in the slightest. In some nostalgic part of his mind, Shirou had thought it to be a fitting place for their rematch.
"What's the matter? Merely standing there is not Heroism."
"J-Just run, kid!" the fallen pro-hero beside him begged. "This guy is too much for you!"
Another parallel, of when Shirou sought to save the hero Uwabami from the villain Angra-Mainyu. However, this hero– Native if he recalled correctly, was in much better shape than Uwabami was. Yet he seemed to be unable to move.
Why exactly, he did not know, and he knew that it was not the right time to ask. However, his current opponent was not Angra-Mainyu, but the vagrant that the recent coalition of heroes was after.
A torn and weathered red scarf, surrounding a messy shag of frazzled hair. A gray combat vest, bandaged arms, and steel combat boots mimicked his own. Above all, a mask of bandages revealed his misshapen jaw and almost fanatical gaze.
The Hero-Killer, Stain.
Shirou's frown deepened.
This was not who he was supposed to be fighting.
This hunter of heroes was not the embodiment of all evil he had been seeking. He wasn't even half as dangerous as the Servant who would only become more so over time, but a regular person hunted by the law.
Yet he had tripped the bounded field?
Why? How? Was it imperfect? Did Shirou screw up setting up this particular section of the bounded field or were all the bounded fields he made screwed up? Why was Stain here but Avenger was not?
There was honestly only one reason.
Avenger had tainted Stain in some way. However, Shirou didn't know how or why. Was he tagging another potential body to use should the Nomu body fail?
"The false hero speaks the truth," the Hero-Killer said. "Leave, child. My quarrel is not with you. However, if you get in the way of my righteous goals, then you will fall."
As if something clicked into place, Shirou's mind ceased and steadied. The Hero-Killer's warnings went unheard as Shirou merely stepped forward so that he was between the killer and his promised victim.
Regardless of the reason, even if it wasn't his intended target, he was still dangerous.
And behind him was someone who needed saving.
Stain sneers. "Another mindless cog."
Shirou heard the wing whistle as Stain's blades were sent flying towards him, but as he expected such a reaction, he battered them aside with Kanshou and Bakuya and charged towards him.
The Hero-Killer, having not expected the reaction, displayed an impressive feat of athleticism and leaped high into the air by using the nearby wall as leverage.
At his current pace, he would have avoided Shirou entirely and gone after the fallen Native. However, once again, he was stone-walled as Shirou had mimicked his movements, meeting him dead in the air with an axe kick.
The Hero-Killer was fast. Faster than most adults his age, and much faster than what Shirou would consider Olympic-level athletes. It was clear he trained hard, further than most people would, but it was a shame he put it towards murder.
Shirou's younger body could not mimic that athleticism, but applying reinforcement his limbs proved to be a sufficient equalizer.
Or rather, an advantage.
With a startled gasp of pain, the Hero Killer cascaded onto the concrete floor, but to his credit, he leaped back onto his feet and gained some distance. However, for Shirou, it wasn't enough. Shirou dropped Kanshou and Bakuya – knowing they'd slice right into the concrete below and stay upright – and traced several nameless swords.
The Hero-Killer's eyes widened as he raised his worn and used daggers– still stained with drying blood, and battered them aside. However, he didn't expect the blades flying down from above him, which threatened to pierce his flesh.
It was only after a hasty kick of his iron boots, deflecting one singular blade, that allowed him to come out safely, but not unscathed as the last blade nicked his left arm. A trickle of blood left his arm before he hastily wrapped it up further with his arm bandages.
"… I underestimated you. You expected me to go after the fallen, did you?" he appraised before he narrowed his eyes. "No, you wanted me to force me away."
Shirou merely picked up Kanshou and Bakuya.
"… Not one for many words, are you?" He sneered. "Or do you think that talking to opponents is beneath you?"
"I was taught that talking in battle is a sin," Shirou simply stated. "It makes you focus on more than just the battle at hand."
"Ah, so the sinful cog deigns me worthy of sinning for," Stain silently laughed to himself. "However, a hero that does not speak is nothing more than a weapon."
At that, Shirou mirthfully smiled. Stain's eye caught it, yet did not comment on it. Instead, Stain tightened his grip on his combat daggers. A quick analysis of the blades immediately told Shirou that he was going to throw them and follow through with a charge.
Shirou took mental note of the victim behind him before standing his ground and throwing Kanshou and Bakuya towards him.
As expected, Stain was going to try to batter them aside. When he did, he immediately noticed that his common combat knives struggled against them. What remained of his attempt at deflection quickly became a parry as they ricochet to the sky.
However, honed instincts must have told Stain to watch out for any more projectiles, which allowed him to retreat even further from the subsequent blades. He tried to catch the deflected Noble Phantasms, but Shirou made them fade away, which left Stain weaponless for a short period.
It was a long enough period to launch another barrage of nameless blades.
Eventually, Stain growled in annoyance as he had to retreat out of the alleyway and onto the open road.
"Is throwing blades all you can do!?" He practically fumed.
The snarky side of him, one he discovered that Archer indulged in, opened his mouth.
The Hero-Killer braced himself as he finally caught sight of the young magus with his arms spread wide open, a black bow in his clutches with two arrows knocked loosely.
A split second later, both arrows were fired, and pierced his scarf and combat vest to the building behind him.
"There's that too."
However, Stain twisted so that the arrow slipped through his combat vest but left his scarf behind, pinned like a flag behind him.
"Are you mocking me? You missed your shot, yet you mock me?" he reprimanded.
Did it sound like mocking? Yeah, it probably did. However, when Shirou stared down at the Hero-Killer, someone how made it their sole purpose in life to hunt down heroes who he deemed as fake… something rumbled beneath him.
"Perhaps, but I didn't miss."
"So you intended to miss?" At the perceived slight, the Hero-Killer let out a deep growl, likely to temper his emotions before he got too aggravated. "What happened to 'talking in battle being a sin,' sinner?"
"I didn't say I was a saint either," he bit back. "Besides, I've stalled long enough."
"Stall?" His eyes widened and frantically looked around the open streets. He finally noticed they were all but empty.
An ambush? He thought. No, that pillar of fire means that he is here, fighting some other villain, likely that fool Shigaraki and his monstrous lackey. So any possible backup would be by his side, not some random child.
Once again caught off-guard, a figure emerged from behind the child. Two devilish horns poked out from her head as the faint moonlight revealed a form-fitting figure.
"Mount-Lady," he frowned. "Prime example of a temptress mocking heroism by existing."
"That's pretty harsh," she shouted so that he could hear. "Although, I can't really fault you for thinking that. My early days were exactly that, but I did change."
"A mask work by a witch is nothing more than a lie," he decreed. "However, a mask worn long enough becomes a real face. You have some worth, but not enough to warrant mercy."
"Right, you're definitely fun at parties," Yu frowned. "Hey, Sh– I mean Sword. Why haven't you dealt with him yet? I know for a fact you can deal with him without my help?"
As amusing as it was to see Stain visibly frown at that, Shirou gestured to the person beside him. "Native is down. I couldn't risk going into melee, otherwise, Stain could've used any opening to attack him."
True, he could've knocked aside any daggers thrown, but to take his focus off the fight to do so could prove dangerous. Even if he made them fight further away from each other, there was no telling what Stain could do to harm Native.
It was much safer, for both him and the wounded behind him, to force Stain away and keep his distance.
"Let me guess, you want me to get him to safety?" she frowned. "You know, I might be better off dealing with Stain than you are."
"And if he hides in a building and escapes to chase us down?"
"Point taken," she sighed under her breath. "Just don't push yourself. You probably don't need to, but there's a reason Stain has been on the run for as long as he has been."
"I have a surefire way to capture him non-lethally," Shirou reminded. "I had a few chances to kill him already, but you already know why I didn't."
He did not want to kill, not unless it was absolutely necessary. Not even the Nomu he put down with Gae Bolg had remained dead, and that was probably because of its hyper regeneration. It was also a monster that couldn't be saved no matter how hard he tried, but Stain wasn't a monster.
To some, he was. However, in Shirou's eyes, he was very much human. Not some animal he had to put down like the Nomu.
"Just making sure," Yu admitted as she looked over Native. He had fainted a while ago, likely because of blood loss. "Damn, he needs a hospital, but if I leave the field…"
"Archer said that the field has been keyed to allow you to enter and leave," Shirou relayed. "Don't worry and just get him to safety. Please."
His adoptive mother regarded him for just one moment.
"It'll be easier for you to fight without worrying about him, right?" At his nod, she sighed before nodding as well.
Yu picked up Native and headed deeper into the alley. The road was the other way, but so was Stain. Neither of them wanted to chance him attacking them just so Yu can transform sooner. No, there was another road on the other side of the alleyway, so she'd transform there and make her way back soon.
As arrogant as it sounded, Shirou doubted he needed the help as he walked towards the open road. Reinforcement had been proven to be all he really needed to avoid Stain's blades.
"There goes the reason you were stalling," Stain said oddly calmly. "Do you truly believe that you are all you will need to face me?"
He said nothing.
"Back to silence, I see. Very well. I admit that you are stronger than a child your age, but your skill with a blade has yet to be ascertained," he dismissed. "You have saved your query, and for that, you have some worth as a hero. However, it is arrogant to presume you would not need help… unless there are more heroes like her on the way."
"For the time being, no," Shirou decided to admit. Even though there was no merit in saying it. "Besides, you can't leave anyway."
"What makes you believe that?" he asked, but tensed as Shirou hastened his pace.
He was left without an answer as Shirou swung with Kanshou.
He did not need to know. The resulting confusion would surely dull his reactions, which Shirou was not above abusing.
The bounded field prevented all that possessed the tainted Grail's corruption from leaving. Shirou had long since guessed that Stain had the Grail's corruption flowing through him, yet he was not doubling over in pain or severely weakened like his father Kiritsugu was.
It unnerved him, but not enough so to consider retreat.
Stain would not be leaving this bounded field a free man.
The sound of rugged and sluggish footsteps was wiped from existence as a shower of black stained the walls around them.
Iida raised his foot out of the blackened tar and shook it off of him.
Where is Stain?
The bespectacled class president grunted as he eyed another civilian attempting to run away from a particularly faster variant of the black blood monsters, much more beastly.
As Iida's leg crashed through the tar-like monster, he knew that had he been a second late, the civilian would've been harmed. The thought infuriated him as he turned to face them, a wounded mother who was being protected by her son. He must have recently gotten his quirk because he was aiming his arm dumbly at where the monster was, a spike that had stopped growing out from his forearm.
"It is not safe here, please retreat to the police barricades!" Iida pleaded, but he quickly realized the child was breathing too quickly, his eyes were focused on the blackened remains of the monster, but did not move away from it.
"Sho? Sho!" his mother called, likely in an attempt to shake him from his stupor, but to no avail.
Iida swallowed some bile as he looked around him.
Buildings falling apart. Tar surrounding every building, which they would eventually reform from. Mindless monsters with their cranium exposed battling three heroes at a time.
Iida noted that Fourth-Kind was staring down another four-armed Nomu, locked in a battle of supremacy, but he was quickly aided by a surge of wood wrapping up the Nomu like chains.
Before he got any more distracted, Iida took a deep breath and kneeled in front of the child.
"Listen. Sho, correct?" he asked but saw he still did not respond. "You love your family, correct? You love your mother, correct? That is why you attempted to protect her, am I correct?"
His repetitions finally caught the frightened child's notice, who finally turned away from the tar remains, which were slowly bubbling. Iida mentally frowned as he continued.
"If you want to be a hero, then help your mother getaway. It is not safe for her here, and neither is it for you."
"B-But, I can help! I can beat them! I already beat one of them!"
So he was late enough to allow one of them to get close!?
The thought burned and boiled deep within him until he felt ashamed of himself. "I understand that, but you cannot keep fighting forever. Your mother can't wait either, she needs medical attention."
The child took a glance at his mother, and Iida mentally noted how traumatic it must be for a child to go through this, seeing their family member soaked in blood like his brother.
"Let us handle this. Get your mother to safety, as a hero should," Iida practically begged.
For some reason, he could not tell who he was begging.
At long last, the child– Sho, finally nodded and held his mother up on one arm. It looked comical with how short he was, but no one could laugh at how determined he looked.
The bubbling tar finally reformed into a monster, yet it couldn't do anything as Iida caved its head in with his heel.
Where was Stain– No! He should focus on finding civilians to help!
Iida noted that his engines had cooled enough for him to charge down the street towards the fighting. The pillar of flame had melted some of the asphalt, but Iida ran around it with ease.
"Manual!" Iida called out as soon as he noticed his interning mentor. "What is the situation?"
"Nothing has changed, though Endeavor is still fighting the Beast up on the rooftops," Manual replied as he was channeling a wave of water to put out some flames. "Can you check if there are any civilians still inside? One of those Nomu could breathe fire, but Fourth-kind already dealt with it."
Iida didn't even waste time nodding, which he was sure his brother would have commended if he were here to commend him. He bit his lip and entered the building. He looked around, noticing the burnt family portrait and broken-down doors.
A blackened monster lumbered out of a door and slowly turned its head towards him.
Iida did not know when he screamed, but he did. His foot was through the monster in seconds. He quickly checked the room the monster had left from but noted it was empty. Just like that, his heart rate calmed.
However, he did not let that lull him into a false sense of security. He rushed up the building and cried out, calling to any would-be survivors hiding within.
When he got no answer, he was prepared to leave, but by some miracle, he heard a weakened gasp.
He knocked on a door and put his ear to it.
"… in…. here…"
Iida kicked down the door and immediately noticed a male figure still in bed with a dried towel on his head. It had likely been wet earlier but dried out. A sick person? Was he under a fever when the creatures attacked?
"Hold on, I'll get you out of here," he comforted. The sooner he got him to safety, the sooner he'd be able to find Stain– Iida bit down further on his lips, he tasted a bit of iron but ignored it in favor of aiding the civilian.
In a few minutes, Iida walked out of the building carrying the feverish civilian securely. He noted Manual had gone ahead to put out the fires in front of other buildings. Civilians were calling for him from their windows, so that was likely why he left.
Iida looked down the road and saw a professional hero running up towards him. From the costume, he looked to be a speed-based hero like his brother.
"Can you take him to safety?!" Iida shouted before he could runoff. "He's feverish, and my legs are still cooling down!"
The hero regarded him for a moment before nodding. Like a professional, he didn't ask questions and immediately rushed off to help him.
Not like Iida, who wanted to rush off to face his brother's assaulter.
Not like Iida, who still wanted to avenge his brother's dead career.
Not like Iida, who was still thinking about killing Stain when there were people who need saving!
Iida clenched his fist and savagely battered his face. Why couldn't he stop thinking about him!? He trained to fight him but it was all looking to be for nothing– there were people he was supposed to be helping like Manual– his brother's assailant was going to be going to go free– he was STILL THINKING ABOUT HIM!
He only stopped when he noticed his nose had begun letting a slow trickle. Almost on instinct, Iida reached into his back pocket to apply a slowing gel. Developed on I-Island, it allowed bleeding to stop by clogging it, allowing the natural body cells to do their work.
A stopgap measure, one that shouldn't be used on someone who focuses on avenging his brother when people need him.
Iida narrowed his eyes and ran down the street to Manual, who was helping people out of the building in an orderly manner. From behind him, Iida could see the silhouette of another black monster lumbering towards him.
Iida decided to leap over all of them with a burst from his abused engines and crash through the bloodied summon. Once again, proving how flaccid and weak these were, though the main reason they were frightening was how they could reform.
"Tenya!" Manual shouted in alarm. "Thanks for the help. Can you take over evacuating this batch? Another building needs aid."
He merely nodded as Manual left with due haste.
Once again, he was evacuating people.
Once again, he was away from the fighting.
Once again, he was lamenting being unable to fight Stain.
… and once again, he was ashamed of himself.
Brother… what kind of hero am I?
He swung his dagger up from above.
The child met him with a white blade, pushing him back and denting his weapon.
A second dagger shot out from underneath.
A black blade sliced it away, bending the steel blade at an awkward angle.
No matter what he did, this child– a cog in the machine that was hero society– met him and surpassed him. A mere child surpassing him. He, who had taken down countless charlatans playing at heroism, was being beaten back by a mere child?
Unacceptable! Was his faith in his cause so weak? Was his determination lacking to a child who knows not bloodshed?
No, that wasn't true. The child and that witch with some worth were not as quiet as they had intended. He knew that this boy, and Mount-Lady, believed that he would have been defeated ages ago. Numerous times, at that.
This slight on his skill had not gone forgotten when he decided to humor the young one's attempt at melee.
Only to find himself beaten back at every try.
Stain wasn't naive to believe he was losing to mere luck. As painful as it was to admit, this young hero–Sword if he remembered his chosen name being, was extremely skilled, more so than any child his age should be.
Although, as strange as he felt it was, he somewhat recognized the face, but he did not know from where.
He sneered as he dismissed the stray thought. He went for a leg sweep, only for Sword to jump up and away. His body twisted and looked as if he was preparing to prepare another barrage of blades. Stain would not let that happen, so he halted his momentum and used his outstretched leg as leverage. He gripped the asphalt below and rammed his shoulder into the child.
He knew that he had caught him off guard, but he wasn't one to let opportunities fly away. From underneath his wrist guards, small yet sharp blades attempted to cut into his costume and taste his flesh. Yet, from how he felt the blades skim the surface, he knew it had not cut anything.
Body armor, sturdy and resistant to cuts at that. Not just a standard-issue bulletproof vest, but something lighter. Knowing the attack failed, he pushed the child away and prepared to stab away at him with his spare daggers.
A drop of blood was all he needed, enough to enable his quirk to chain this heathen with the weight of his sins!
However, the child proved to have expected this and merely kicked him away. Knowing that he did not have a strength-related quirk, he was prepared to grit his teeth and take it but was quickly overwhelmed when he felt his ribs bend but not break.
Stain leaped away to soften the blow but gasped as he found it much harder to breathe.
Strong limbs, much stronger than his form had led him to believe. In hindsight, he should have known, especially because their initial encounter had him intercept his approach.
Was his quirk more than just creating weaponry?
With this suspicion in mind, Stain raised his guard even further.
He still had ten daggers.
He was going to use them!
Just as this young hero got onto his feet, Stain assailed him. Two daggers came in one swing and met the white blade with gusto. If one dagger would bend and break, then two would take its place!
However, he knew to watch out for the black blade as well, so he served his body to avoid the blow and lashed out with a kick, forcing the child to block it with his white blade.
This freed his daggers to held at a reverse grip, which came down upon the child, like the jaws of a lion. A blue flash of light and he noticed a small dagger about to be shot towards him.
It took everything his upper body had to halt his momentum and swerve out of the way, but he managed to dodge the impromptu blade. Unfortunately, this prevented him from stopping the black blade from coming back and battering him aside– with the backside of the blade!
Preserving life as opposed to ending it, even if it meant he was going to hold back in a fight. There was heroism in that sentiment, that Stain approved of, but it did little to dissuade him from recovering and throwing his bent and savaged daggers towards the young hero.
Admirably, the child did not deflect with his blades– as that would have allowed Stain leeway into his guard– but instead summoned two more small daggers to knock it out of the way.
It was then he noticed that the blades were remarkably similar to his own.
No, they were his, right down to the chips, dents, and scratches on the surface.
Copied? Did the boy's quirk rely on copying weaponry? Then how did that explain the above-average strength–?
The Hero-Killer reacted with due haste as a shower of completely normal blades went his way, but instead of retreating as the child expected, Stain deigned his life worth risking by charging straight through, allowing the blades to soar above him as opposed to battering them aside.
His choice, which should have baffled the child, did not surprise him. It prompted the child to prepare for yet another melee.
But Stain had other tricks.
As the child prepared to receive another swipe of his daggers, he widened his eyes once he realized Stain pulled out a small spherical object and toss it towards him.
Almost as if on instinct – Stain found deeply confusing as to how a child had instincts like these – the young hero knocked it away, only to find it explode into smoke upon impact.
Smoke grenades. They were made for a quick getaway in case things got dicey and if there were more false heroes – he would never deign to call them true heroes – than he thought there would be.
As such, it allowed him to the slightest leeway to slash the only place that had open skin. His palms.
The child wised up and spammed a hail of swords around him, dispersing the short cloud of smoke the bomb had produced, but it was already too late.
He had his blood.
Stain licked the tiny sliver on his dagger and watched as his prey finally stopped moving.
Finally, it was over.
"Finally. You were formidable, but now it is time for retribution." The Hero-Killer finally relaxed and walked towards his quarry slowly. "Rest assured, I will not kill you. You have proven that you have some worth as a hero, but you are not like All-Might. You lack that essential facade to bring peace to those around you… rather, you look like you inspire anything but that."
He had realized the child was skilled and prioritized protecting life over inflicting death, all qualities that a true hero should have. However, he was not like the absolute top, the zenith that all heroes should strive to be.
"A skilled fledgling you may be, you should have thought harder and chosen your battles better," he sneered. "Perhaps a scar would be a suitable reminder–?"
Something was wrong.
Stain's legs had already tried moving the moment he noticed the child was not responding, yet he discovered that he too was unable to move.
However, unlike the child, who was prone on the floor at the will of his opponent, he remained standing as his limbs seized and refused his command.
"What did… What did you do?" Stain growled. And he certainly knew it was the child's fault. "Answer me–!"
"It took you too long to stop jumping around, Hero-Killer Stain," the child said as he slowly stood up. What blasphemy was this!? Did he not ingest the child's blood!? Even O-type blood – the blood that his quirk was least effective against – lasted longer than a mere three seconds! "However, why don't you turn and look to your left. You might find your answer there."
He was already surprised, but Stain strained his eyes to do so anyway, knowing his neck refused to obey him. However, they widened once he noticed what he saw.
A blade, the shape of a cross with a thin red guard, stabbed into his shadow, cast from a particularly bright streetlight.
As Stain said.
It was finally over
"Get back here! Villain!" Endeavor shouted as he bolted across the sky, cloaked in flames hotter than anything he could conjure at the moment. "Stay right where you are, BEAST!"
Todoroki held back a frown as he torched another blackened creature.
They seemed to have more autonomy than what he faced back at USJ. Before, they were slow and lumbering. They still were, but some of them were fast and fragile. They moved like wolves and coordinated like them too.
Alone, they were easy to deal with.
But with so many that they blocked the streets?
Todoroki did not hesitate to let his flames erupt towards them, burning and shattering their forms back into bloody tar. However, he did not stop and focused his heat on the remains, evaporating and even reducing them to ash.
Hopefully, that would stop any more from attacking them.
With Endeavor as he is now, Shoto could not provide any aid. At the very least, the number-two pro-hero left him with orders to take care of the small-fry.
Small-fry such as these black blood monsters, which had only gotten more bestial as time passed… included the brainless Nomu.
A Nomu leaped down from a burning building– already evacuated, Endeavor had assured, but the same couldn't be said for the buildings surrounding the fighting. The scope was much larger than they had measured, mostly because of the Beast and his blood summons.
However, that wasn't the issue.
One Nomu could theoretically go toe-to-toe with All-Might, and Endeavor was expecting him to deal with one alone?
Then again, Emiya dealt with one alone. His classmate, not the number-one pro-hero, nor a professional at all. Just a single student. With that in mind, he should be able to beat one too, right?
When the Nomu leaped once again – Todoroki deduced it had the quirk to jump that high – Todoroki shot a tower of ice towards it.
The monster impacted the ice, but Todoroki was surprised to see that his tower was starting to crumble. He quickly saw the Nomu was mindlessly slamming his fists down upon it, which meant it also had some form of super strength.
It was like all these Nomu had that, but then again, it was one of the most common quirks there was, followed closely by super senses.
Before he got distracted, Todoroki unleashed a second barrage of ice, hurtling the Nomu off his tower and sending it crashing into a building. However, he knew it wouldn't last long and backed up a bit to allow it to jump down towards him. He didn't want to damage the surrounding buildings any more than he already had.
The Nomu broke out of the ice and landed on the ground with a crater. It was then that Todoroki got a closer look at it. One large brain covered by nothing. Teeth that mimicked a giant rat, two burly arms, and abnormally bent legs- almost like a raptor.
It clearly had trouble moving around normally, as it crawled on its knuckles towards him, but as soon as it got solid footing, it launched towards him like a bullet.
Shoto only had one second to create a wall of ice, and he almost failed. When the impact came, he found himself being flung back almost as if it came from one of Midoriya's flicks. He had to blast a focused fire behind him to slow his momentum, enough so that he could create a wall that wouldn't be dragged with him.
Unfortunately, it gave the Nomu enough time to jump once more. However, he wasn't caught off guard like last time, so he decided to make it have its momentum used against it.
A blunted spike of ice rushed towards the Nomu, ready to ram into its chest and knock the wind out of it–
Shoto widened his eyes as the Nomu appeared closer than he thought it would.
He looked down.
He saw his ice, which hadn't been as blunted as he thought, pierced straight through the chest of the lumbering Nomu.
Is it… no, these things have regeneration.
The Nomu reeled back and clutched its empty chest as strands of muscle slowly reattached from within. He could even see its beating heart pulled up and away from the open hole– He forced himself to look away before he lost his lunch.
After fighting in controlled matches for so long, he forgot what happens if he let his control loosen for just a second.
If that Nomu couldn't regenerate… he would have killed it. Just like Emiya would have.
He knew that he didn't kill it, especially if the police reports were anything to go by, but Emiya had fought it intending to kill it. Shoto was nothing like that. He would never do that. His ice was for saving people.
Yet he nearly tainted that ice right there and then.
He growled and roared. A rush of ice came from beneath him and utterly covered the Nomu from head-to-toe. The regeneration had halted due to the new rod of ice from within. In fact, it was imprisoned in it.
A block of ice as wide as the street they fought on, almost as high as the buildings around them.
It was more than enough to prevent it from moving, and you needed to move to generate force, otherwise, it was just pure muscle powering your strikes. It could not move, ergo, it had no more power.
Knowing the Nomu was defeated, Shoto ran down the street to get away from it, lest a bloody black beast makes its way towards him. He would need fire to defeat those and burn their remains, which could melt the impromptu prison he built.
He needed to get to Endeavor, where the fighting was the most intense. The Beast was likely cornered by the number-two hero by now, so he needed to be there before Endeavor lost his cool and incinerated him.
Shoto felt that he would be the most needed there.
Trapped by unseen hands.
Shackled by invisible chains.
The Hero-Killer could not move. And he was not happy, not in the slightest.
"What is this!?" Stain grunted. "Not only are you stronger than an average child, but a blade stabbed into shadow? Of all the illogical– was your quirk not weapon-creation!?"
It didn't make sense.
Stain knew that quirks, in general, didn't make sense, but this? Increased strength and speed, weapon creation, apparent immunity to his own quirk, and apparently affecting someone's main body through its shadow?
What coherency was there–?
Stain's mind clicked to an old urban legend. A legend of a monster wielding multiple quirks. One that ruled Japan of old with an iron fist. It was a myth that all in the criminal underworld had heard echoes of. Horrified whispers from those old enough to still remember.
All for One.
Was this child-related? To him? To the League–
Related… Wait, that face.
He knew he recognized it, yet he pushed it aside for more present matters. The face that belonged to a monster. The face that belonged to a fool who slaughtered senselessly. The face that belonged to the League of Villains.
"Beast…!" He growled. "I knew the Nomu were mindless flesh clones stuffed with quirks, but to think they perfected it this much!"
The thing in human flesh blinked. "Wait, you met the Ave– you met the Beast? When? Where?"
Stain, with the few strands of sanity left in his mind, grasped the true meaning of the words and reigned his temper in. His body might be trapped, but he would not let his mind be the same, shackled with irrational rage.
"A week ago," he decided to humor him, even though he knew the boy held all the cards right now. "However, I'm certain that he and his ragtag buffoons are running rampant as we speak. What of it?"
The child seemed to be in silent thought, but Stain recognized frustration when he saw it.
"No, it doesn't matter," he eventually said. "As soon as Mount-lady gets back, we'll be taking you in. Then, we can help with the unfolding disaster outside."
Speaking of unfolding disaster… Stain narrowed his eyes at the empty streets.
Their fighting should have attracted people. Even the smoke from his earlier bomb, rising to the sky for a short few seconds, should have been enough for the more tentative heroes on the rooftops to notice them. Surely they weren't incompetent enough to ignore it?
It was true that there was a battle ongoing outside his vision, by that monstrous Beast, but even if he could defeat him, begrudging as he was to admit, it was impossible for the heroes to not have defeated him by now. That disgustingly pathetic hero, Endeavor, should be more than capable of doing so.
Another pillar of fire was caught in his periphery.
"… we were cheated out of a victory, but it won't happen again."
Like a haunting vision, Shigaraki's words returned.
… They weren't lying, were they? Stain growled at the insanity of the notion, that a literal man-child had more strength and power than he did at the tip of his hands. All thanks to a mangy beast!
There was no conviction in that man. No determination. No drive to do better. Nothing but lackadaisical reluctance and pathetic childish tantrums. The child in front of him was more mature than that failed outcome of society– yes, society. Hero society at large made this all happen. If he could root it all out from the bottom up–
Stain growled and shook his head, or at least tried to. The demented thoughts rose out of him, but through sheer force of will, he shoved it back down.
He was the Hero-Killer, a messiah that preached true heroism, not some maligned berserker!
"Yeah, Mount-Lady?" he heard the child call, likely from a communicator– and if he had one, why didn't he call for backup? Arrogance? "I've got him. How's Native? Safe? That's good. Can you hurry back to transport him?"
Stain frowned. "Certainly arrogant to talk while I'm still ready to fight. I will not let my cause fade quietly into the night."
"You might as well will," the sinner said without a hint of remorse. "You aren't going free, and I'm not leaving you alone so your allies can free you."
"… So you aren't allied with the League?"
"If I served under that manchild, alongside that beast, I would rather die."
The boy's nose twitched in irritation before he stared at Stain with a frown. "You know, struggling isn't doing anything. You'll find it better if you just give up."
"And let the false heroes take me? Never."
"Why do you even call them false heroes?"
"Blind to how faulty the system is, as expected of a sinful cog," Stain sneered once more. "People who become heroes out of self want and satisfaction do not deserve to be called as such. Money, power, reputation, those are all the modern hero care about. Notions such as heroism and altruism are abhorred and rejected. Quirks are all that matter to the system. Strong quirks, possessed by individuals who believe themselves to be blessed beyond measure, only lead to an arrogant mess of human beings. Yet it is these people who stand to become heroes, all whilst true heroism is left by the wayside. False heroes are born from this society, and I intend to remind the world what heroism. Truly. Is."
And he would not be chained, shackled by a weapon– a mere Sword, stabbed up to the hilt through concrete and shadow!
"You're looking at it wrong. You speak as if people can't grow from their past self," this fool seemed to regurgitate. "For every hero that there is to save lives, the more lives that are saved. Whether they're in it for money, power, or reputation, they still save people. They still try their best to save others. That is what should matter the most."
"It is that sentiment that led the world to where it is today!" Stain berated. "Fools that are in it for just power and money will abandon their duty as heroes when they are struggling. As soon as they become a hero, they become complacent. They will not try their best because they are convinced that someone will be able to do much better than them– just because they have the better quirk, a more suited quirk. That sort of cowardice– the kind that allows heroes the legal capacity to wait at the sidelines, is sickening!"
It was only one of the reasons why Stain had degraded himself into a vigilante once upon a time. He had thought that, through his actions, others would emulate his actions and seek to improve.
That was not the case.
They denounced him.
They thought his actions fruitless and dangerous, yet they would never step outside their comfort zone and truly become heroes.
If heroism would not make them listen, then staining his hands with villainy would. It always would, but he should have seen it sooner.
If this failed society rejected him, then he would become a Stain upon it!
"If a hero cannot save someone, then what are they?" Stain challenged as he struggled against his unseen restraints. He felt something shift, but he knew not what it was. "All-Might would never give up. He is the ideal hero, yet nobody around him seems to want to live up to that ideal! The only one is Endeavor, but he is the worst hero out of them all! If All-Might is the zenith, then Endeavor is the abyss. You would protect a society that compares sees the two as comrades!?"
"I would protect the people in that society, what kind of society it is shouldn't matter!" the cog, a little less mindless than he first thought, bit back. "Your idea of heroism is not wrong. They aren't, but you shouldn't force it on other people! This method– killing those who do not fit your biased mold– isn't right in the slightest!"
"It is the only method that will work! All others have failed. Protests through words, leading by example, guiding the young– all of it fails when being a hero is akin to a celebrity– a pretty face on a screen!"
"Those pretty faces on a screen are doing a lot more to help with the surrounding danger than you are," he snarked back. The only emotion he felt from this cog, alongside irritation and anger. "While they are saving lives, you are trying to take it. Even if your methods work. Even if your senseless killing pays off, I will be there every step of the way to make sure you never kill someone in front of me! Even if they were villains hated by everyone around them, I will save everyone!"
He frowned. He frowned so deeply that he felt his face muscles tear into pieces. The fool had conviction, mindless and broken conviction, but–!
"By saving everyone, you will be saving the fools who are bringing us all to ruin!" Stain roared. "The failed falsities who taint–no, stain the idea of heroism needs to die!"
"You'll have to try crawling out of bars before you kill anymore, and you'll have to get through me before anyone else dies!" this idiot shouted.
This fool only cared about saving lives and not what those lives were.
This fool who would try save everyone, including the worst and poisonous of them!
This foolish child had dedication– conviction, but it was pointed towards an unworthy goal. An unworthy creed.
"I will save them!"
"I will kill them!"
This child, worthier and unworthier than any other he had seen before, would never learn what he would preach– never feel for the cause he would embody. That very thought infuriated him!
Stain did not know when, but what was cracking in the back of his mind finally bent.
And out came flooding a rush of hate.
Stain– Akaguro Chizome – realized too late that his hold on his emotions had disappeared.
He heard the snickers in the back of his mind.
'Nice. Just let it loose– both the good and the evil in your heart, your true conviction,' A snicker followed. 'And let madness enhance your soul!'
Next Chapter: Late May
A/N: Alright, that's a wrap for this chapter. I will apologize for the cliffhanger though.
I'm actually a bit nervous about this one because I decided to go through Stain's POV rather than Shirou's. I felt that it was necessary because of what I've set up earlier, but that means I'm going to get lynched if I mess up his character. My interpretations of characters are not completely accurate, that I'll admit. So if it felt wrong to you, let me know. The prior segment was very emotionally charged (as it would be for two people who are unable to fight and have to resort to words) so I might let my own biases slip in without knowing. Again, just let me know.
Also yes, this arc is already showing signs of divergence, with Iida never meeting Stain, Stain not having people record him to spread his message, and the attack on Hosu by the League being much more devastating. I intend to capitalize on it in the following chapters. This chapter's draft was actually supposed to cover more, but I ended up writing a bit too much, and as a result, I reached 10k words before the halfway point of the chapter draft, which means there will likely be 2 more chapters of the current arc than planned. Not exactly bad, but still a bit annoying as I wanted to reach the training camp arc. (And not make a massively long arc like the sports festival)
My Hero Academia's newest season is here, so go check that out. It's covering the arc that made me change the earlier indoor training arc, in other words, the Class-1B quirk showcase in the form of a training exercise. T̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶q̶u̶i̶r̶k̶s̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶c̶o̶o̶l̶,̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶s̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶q̶u̶e̶s̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶w̶h̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶'̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶B̶ ̶c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶A̶ ̶c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶,̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶J̶a̶p̶a̶n̶e̶s̶e̶ ̶s̶c̶h̶o̶o̶l̶s̶ ̶t̶e̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶p̶u̶t̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶m̶i̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶s̶t̶u̶d̶e̶n̶t̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶A̶ ̶c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶e̶s̶.̶ ̶O̶h̶ ̶w̶e̶l̶l̶,̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶i̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶c̶o̶o̶l̶.̶ Edit: This seems to be wrong, which I'll admit was just a stray thought I had that made its way here. Oops.
Oh yeah, I know what's going on in the Manga at the moment. I love it, and can't wait to get to it. It's certainly an environment that Shirou would thrive in, or kill himself in, either way.
More importantly, FGO released their Idol event. Finally, Ushi and Nitocris got some clothes. Very exciting, especially for a Hololive degen like me.
As always, let me know when I've made mistakes, especially grammatical ones.
A/N 2: Fixed some errors, credit to 'RandomDude15'.