CHAPTER 45: PIECES IN PLACE

"We have the place surrounded." Hawks said to the other heroes as they waited for the attack. A rather bold group of villains had held themselves up in the local bank and refused to come out. They had somehow activated the building's security shutters and sealed up the doors and windows making it difficult for the heroes to swoop in and capture them. Luckily there were no hostages as the bank was closed today.

"We need to be careful, we don't know what kind of quirks they possess." Death Arms brought up.

"Plus they're backed into a corner and will probably be more dangerous." Kamui Woods added.

"You'd think the new number one hero on the scene would prompt a surrender." The winged man spoke with a sigh. 'A lot of good the title does me.' As they continued making plans they were interrupted by a loud thud from behind them. The pros spun around to see the towering golden armored form of Nemesis.

'Oh great this thing again.' Hawks thought to himself but outward kept his smile up. Midoriya's super Titan, Nemesis he called it. The new version debuted a week ago when it rescued a family from a burning apartment building. After that heroic display it was now all the media could talk about.

"Stand aside." The machine spoke with its deep digital voice as it marched past them.

'God that thing is creepy.' Hawks stood by and let it pass. This was Midoriya's ideal hero? A cold soulless machine. The robot marched over to the security shutters and yanked them open with brute strength. Nemesis didn't even hesitate to walk into the hostile environment. The pros together watched the entrance, hearing a series of frightful shouts followed by gun fire. The shooting stopped and echoes of a fight resounded.

"Should we-" Kamui Woods started only to get cut off.

"Wait." Hawks commanded. The battle suddenly stopped as quickly as it started. From out of the hole a body was thrown out into the street in front of the heroes. The villain's body was large and muscular and appeared to be encased in boulders of cement. He also appeared to be unconscious with several cracks and fist shaped impressions all over his rocky body. Nemesis appeared again walking out of the bank holding two more motionless villains up in the air with both hands.

"Villain capture complete." The golden robot stated. It dropped the two criminals on the ground next to the other one and made its way to leave.

"Still alive I hope!" Hawks called with a smile. Of course they were, but he just wanted to get a response. To his surprise he did. Nemesis stopped walking and turned its head to face him. The glowing blue eyes were almost haunting as it spoke again.

"Life readings: Normal. Casualties: Zero" Was all it needed to say as it turned back continuing on its way.

"Well I guess we were not needed here." Death Arms sneered watching the back of the robot as it stalked off to continue its heroic deeds more efficiently than they could apparently.

"I guess we can take it easy from now on." Hawks shrugged. As much as he wanted that, this wasn't what he had mind. Midoriya was digging his corrupting roots deeper and deeper into the foundations of their society. If nothing was done soon it would be nearly impossible to remove him.

"Ugh…" One of the villains groaned as he woke up and tried to stand on his feet again. He only got up to his knees before a couple red feathers pinned him back to the street.

H.R.D-BASE

"Amazing." Izuku smiled as he watched the live feed from his personal office, of his super titan take down three thugs with ease. He could see almost everything through the robot's perspective. Nemesis was working out better than expected. Originally he was just supposed to be a temporary solution, but now he was thinking he could keep the machine around and active even after a new symbol has arisen.

The gauntlet wearer relaxed in his chair happily. Everything was just going so well, so perfectly. After a childhood of rejection and misery, he finally felt happy and fulfilled.

"Do you see this Allmight?" He spoke aloud with no one but himself present. "Do you see this from wherever you're hiding?" Izuku's face looked peaceful, but his eyes held vindictive malice. "With no quirks, with no special powers I have improved society and saved lives." He chuckled lightly. "Only a mind with a set of powerless hands built this." He looked through the surveillance videos to get a look at how his other projects were doing.

Uraraka was being outfitted with a more advanced and even lighter version of her mechanical wings by Hatsume. This new support device would give her even more mobility in the air. That combined with her quirk and grapple pole weapon would make quite a formidable hero.

Iida was running laps on the special treadmill that Izuku himself designed just for his quirk. He was progressing nicely. They even had talks about a way to improve his engine quirk.

Todoroki had advanced with the fire side of his quirk in leaps and bounds. It seems without Endeavor around and his anger towards his father hanging over his head, Todoroki had unshackled himself and was free to explore his quirk in ways he never thought of. Dabi was pushing him harder and harder in each training session. Speaking of which.

TRAINING ROOM

"Come on you can do better than that." The dark haired scarred man taunted. His shirt had long since burned off, revealing more of his extensive scarring and piercings. He was left with only a pair of black fireproof shorts, and Midoriya's specially designed dampeners that covered his arms and legs. The devices had scale-like plating and the digits were pointed, giving the appearance of claws.

"I'm just getting started." Shoto panted out. He had briefly fallen to one knee. Both swords still held tightly in his fists. These were new. After complaining that the previous ones were too heaving and bit awkward to fight with, Midoriya fashioned him a new pair that resembled a pair of katanas. They were light weight and very easy to swing and incorporate his quirk with. He could launch waves and streams of ice and fire with surprising swiftness now.

"You look like you're on your last leg." Dabi called out. "Is this the best Endeavor's masterpiece can do?" He knew that would get under Shoto's skin and of course it did. The youngest Todoroki immediately stood up and threw a wave of ice at him using the right sword.

"That's more like it!" Dabi grinned and countered with his blue flames. The two attacks collided, but the fire quickly ate through it like starving termites. Shoto used his own fire to launch himself to safety. The raging inferno chased after him, no matter how far he went. The only option that Shoto had was to slam his right foot on the ground and summon a giant wall of ice that reached from the floor to the ceiling of the vast training room.

'Why is he so relentless?' Shoto thought as he tried to catch his breath. He wasn't given much time as steam began pouring off his ice and a scarred hand burned a hole straight through.

"Not good enough kid!" Dabi smirked even wider as he launched himself at the younger. Shoto created a small ice shield from his right sword that he used to block the incoming fireballs. He knew using his own flames were pointless since Dabi's were stronger and would over power them. "Come on! Show me that fire boy!" The scarred man shouted as he continued his assaults. "You'll never surpass your daddy like this!"

"Shut up!" His father was still a sore spot for Shoto. Despite not having contact with the man anymore, all it took was a mention of his name to get riled up.

"Oh! You don't like that?" Dabi stopped his attacks in an attempt to rile the other up. "Because from my point of view you look just like him!" Shoto immediately lost his temper and blasted his own fire at the former villain. "There we go!" Dabi channeled his own blue stronger fire and met the attack in the middle, creating an intense storm of heat. If this continued, neither of them would walk away unscathed.

"Energy! Conversion!" A voice shouted from the middle as the flames were sucked into a ball of raw power. Izuku held it in his hand before tossing it through a portal. An unfortunate side effect of that particular quirk. The energy had to be used right away and couldn't be stored up for later. "That's enough!"

"What are you doing?" Dabi asked haughtily. "You wanted me to train him, so why are you interrupting?"

"No I asked you specifically to help Todoroki learn how to better use his fire." Izuku corrected. "I didn't say to get him so worked up that you two end up killing each other."

"Sorry, guess I was having too much fun." The scarred man shrugged. Though the smirk on his face didn't seem very apologetic.

"I figured you would be best since your quirk is so very similar to Endeavor's." The gauntlet user said, not considering the possible connection.

"Don't ever compare me to him." Dabi spat dangerously, with a dark glare.

"Or what?" Izuku glared right back. Despite being a good head shorter than the man, the teenager could be extremely intimidating when he wanted to. Dabi broke eye contact first, not wanting to be on his leader's ire. He would never admit that he cowered away. Izuku turned to Shoto. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." Todoroki said curtly as he put his swords away.

"Your done for today. We'll pick it up tomorrow." The gauntlet wearer ordered. "You've improved so much Todoroki. You're almost unrecognizable from the young hero who accepted my invitation." He smiled at him as he passed.

"Thank you director." Shoto nodded, happy that his progress was noted and appreciated. With one last glare at Dabi he turned and exited the training room. When he was gone Izuku turned to stare at the black haired pyromaniac.

"Do you remember when we first met?" He suddenly asked.

"Yes. You easily placated Shigaraki. I just ignored you until you brought up the hero killer." Dabi recalled almost fondly. "Then you man handled Toga."

"Do you remember the private discussions we had?" Izuku continued to stare at him. "About hero society."

"Maybe." The scarred man shrugged, while picking at the dead skin on his jaw.

"You always spoke so passionately against Endeavor as if you knew him on a personal level." The young director sighed before asking his next question. "I'm only going to bring this up once and if you choose not to answer I'll never ask again. What is your history with Endeavor?" Dabi just looked at him stone faced. He didn't even blink.

"We don't have a history." He lied smoothly.

"Very well." Izuku turned away. "But remember this. Shoto Todoroki is not Endeavor. He's trying to become greater than that wretched tool could ever be." He reminded. "Whatever hatred you have for that man, I don't really care, but don't ever project it on to Shoto ever again." He turned to level one last glare at his subordinate. "Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal clear boss." Dabi smirked and gave a mock salute.

"Excellent." Izuku smiled back at him, anger forgotten, as he exited the training room.

"Dammit." The fire wielder whispered to himself. He took off his gauntlets and swiped a hand through his black dyed hair. He really needed to do something about this.

U.A

"What the hell is this?" Aizawa asked as he stared at a chess set on the principal's desk, only the pieces were modeled to look like cartoonish versions of real people.

"Sometimes making it into a game or model, helps me organize my thoughts." Nezu explained as he examined his pieces. "I've been trying to figure out a strategy to counter Midoriya for a while now with no luck, so maybe I need to look at things from a different angle." Pointing a paw at the first piece on the board, Aizawa noted it looked like Midoriya with a gold crown on his head. "Izuku Midoriya. My most dangerous and crafty opponent. Also the king we are fighting against and need to put in checkmate."

"Who's our king?" Aizawa asked. "This Allmight figure?" He pointed at a piece that looked like Allmight in his prime golden age costume.

"No. Our king is hero society itself." Nezu corrected pointing at a blank white normal chess piece. "And Midoriya, since that day he removed Endeavor and took his position, has it in check and entirely at his mercy." He picked up the Allmight piece. "Allmight was more like our queen. Our strongest champion and most valuable piece."

"And Midoriya took him out of the game." Erasure Head reminded him as he took that piece off the board himself and put it off to the side.

"Yes and now he has us on the defensive." The principal placed a paw against his furry muzzle in thought. "However thanks to young Iida we're not playing blind anymore. That is to say we know who his pieces are now." He lifted a figure modeled to look like the vicious hero killer. "The murderous Stain, his loyal bishop."

"Don't forget the other bishop Dabi." The underground hero added distastefully.

"Yes those two are definitely the power houses of his dark hand." Nezu nodded in agreement. "Himiko Toga however seems more like a pawn with the way Iida described her relationship with our young enemy. An eager lap dog might be a better term for her." He placed these pieces around the king protectively. "There we have Midoriya's shadow troops. Working behind the scenes to do his bidding, invisible and unknown."

"Until now." Aizawa allowed himself to smirk since they now knew who to look out for and catch. If they could just get one that might be enough to crumble the mad gauntlet user's whole organization.

"Ah. Let's not forget his knights." Nezu moved two pieces on to the board made to look like his former students. "Shoto Todoroki and Ochako Uraraka. Two promising hero students fallen into Midoriya's hands."

"Who are the rooks?" The underground hero wondered.

"Ah yes. That would be the new additions to his organization." He placed the first one on the board resembling a gold armored robot. "Nemesis. His artificial hero. A mechanical behemoth, programmed to be the ideal hero to Midoriya's unfair standards." He chuckled at how Izuku could be considered quite brilliant if he wasn't so obsessed. In another life, had things been different Nezu would have given the boy a full scholarship to U.A and even made him his own apprentice.

"His other rook. The criminal duo known as Gentle Criminal and La Brava." Aizawa frowned at that reminder. According to Midoriya's statement the two wanted to turn over a new leaf and surrendered to him personally. Not that the underground hero bought that pile of horse shit. The former villains were put under probation under Midoriya's employ and supervision thanks to his connections. The whole story didn't get that much attention or push back considering it was revealed right after Nemesis was debuted. Everyone was talking about that new anti-villain peace keeping machine and hardly anyone paid any attention to the former villain in Midoriya's organization story. It was almost perfect, but to Shouta Aizawa and his colleagues, had the gauntlet user's crafty underhanded signature all over it.

"We also have some of his other pawns. Mei Hatsume, Dr. Higurashi, the Titans and now thanks to Mirio telling us Nighteye's vision we know Eri plays some important role in the future that we've yet to understand." Nezu arranged the rest of the pieces on the enemy's side.

"Now what do we have. Since our queen is gone, not much I imagine." Aizawa said apathetically.

"Correct!" Nezu explained. "We don't really have any pieces that can contend with Midoriya." On the opposite side their king stood alone, facing the unsurmountable odds against the invading black army. "We do have Lemillion though." He placed a figure down of the third year hero student in the knight's position. "Allmight himself placed his faith in the boy and would have made him the next successor of One for All had Midoriya not stolen the quirk right out from under them." He paused as he pondered this dilemma. "Plus Sir Nighteye entrusted his vision to Togata and now we know what might happen in the future, something that not even Midoriya knows. Nor does he know we know this."

"If anyone is closest to becoming the next number one hero it would Togata." Aizawa added. "Maybe there is a way to use that to push back against Midoriya's strangle hold over the heroes." It was then that the underground hero noticed an important piece missing from Midoriya's side. "Who's his queen? He crippled any resistance against him when he took our queen Allmight off the board, so who's his?"

"Ah yes that." Nezu chuckled. "It took some thinking but I did figure it out, which is one of the things I wanted to discuss with you." He lifted up another figure with pale gray hair and a disembodied hand covering the face and placed it next to the king. "Tomura Shigaraki is his queen."

"I'm not sure I follow." That didn't sound right to Aizawa. Midoriya and Shigaraki had opposing goals that couldn't be further apart, so how was the latter so important to the former's control.

"Think about it. Toshinori spoke with the prime minister. He explained Midoriya's argument for giving him this position of power. One of which was an end to the threat the League of Villains posed." The principal explained carefully. "No one has noticed that he has yet to deliver on that promise because of all the other improvements he's made. Midoriya needs Shigaraki free and active. That fear keeps his position secure. Remember how he sent the league on various targets during that period of upheaval after he exposed Allmight. Tomura Shigaraki whether he realizes it or not is basically Midoriya's puppet and weapon." An ideal hero society needed ideal villains to fight after all.

"The question is what do we do with this information?" Aizawa wondered.

"Correct again!" Nezu agreed. "I was thinking that if we could prove that Midoriya is in cahoots with those three villains, but that will be difficult and relies on him making a mistake, which we shouldn't count on." That was true. Izuku covered his tracks too well. "Perhaps we should try removing his queen from the board. Without his attack dog Shigaraki, people and the government might start to wonder what the H.R.D is good for anymore."

"What about Nighteye's vision, how do we prevent that?" The underground hero questioned.

"Yes that's another thing that's been troubling me." The principal frowned in concentration. "Togata told us that Nighteye foresaw a battlefield with Midoriya right in the middle. The boy snaps his fingers and everything goes white." He had analyzed this several times, but without seeing it himself it was rather difficult to dissect. Not only that, but the foresight hero was now deceased so he couldn't question him on what details he may have seen either. "Apparently it all has something to do with Eri. She plays some important role in all this."

"We couldn't get custody of her. The girl is kept under Dr. Higurashi's care. One of his loyal pawns." Aizawa stated as he stared at the chess piece modeled after the woman, starting to get a clearer picture of what they were up against. What made Midoriya's side difficult to deal with was that it wasn't entirely made up of bad people. There were good souls mixed in like Uraraka, Todoroki and the doctor. This would be so much easier if they were all insane bloodthirsty villains like the league.

"Midoriya is not a violent person by nature. In a twisted way he believes he's doing the right thing and all who oppose him are the real villains who deserve what they get." The principal wondered out loud. "Many times he's offered peaceful solutions before resorting to violence. I just can't picture why he would start such a destructive battle."

"How do we know its his fault?" Aizawa asked. "It could be someone else that picks a fight with him."

"It can't be us." Nezu said. "We would never start a fight with Midoriya unless we knew we could physically defeat him. Which right now is impossible." Plus Nighteye warned them specifically to keep Eri and Midoriya apart. So the coming conflict must be centered on the young director and the little girl.

"If this were like real chess we could just get one of our pawns to the other side and get our queen back." Aizawa suddenly proposed.

"That's…" Nezu paused. "Actually not a bad idea."

"I was joking." The underground said dryly. "For now I think its best we keep the knowledge of Iida being a spy and Nighteye's vision, just between the two of us."

"I'm of the same mind." The principal agreed. "We still don't know how the League of Villains acquired information on are school. With Midoriya's connection to them, who knows what might get leaked to him." This was quite the conundrum. They still weren't sure who to completely trust. "I'll contact Mirio and relay him the same." Midoriya could enjoy his victory for now. However, the fight wasn't over for them just yet.


Again I want to say thank you for your patience. It really does mean a lot to me to not get hounded about posting new chapters. Thank you so much. I'm not too happy with this chapter. Mainly because a lot of stuff ended up cut out. I decided to put some of it later down the road. I'm not going to sweat it too much. I'm already going to go back and fix some things after this story is done.

I decided to do a time skip. Not a big one. A few months. But this is the last chapter before the time skip. Hence that recap bit with Nezu and Aizawa where they summarize the situation was meant to be a little later. I reference chess too much I know. Its such a good symbolism for war and mind games though.

Next chapter will be after the time skip where we see where Izuku is now. The following chapter after that we finally check in on Allmight. I gotta rewatch the first movie and take a few notes on Melissa's personality. I've really only seen it all the way through once.

Its funny that so many of you are rooting for Izuku in this. Yes he's done a lot of good, but there's a lot of bad stuff going on behind the scenes that some might be forgetting about. Remember nobody's perfect

Anyway thanks for reading.