Sorry it's a little late today!

Chapter 25

It had been only ten minutes since Deku had made his way to the basement. They could hear the creaking and groaning of the walls as one of Chisaki's men trapped the heroes in a living maze. But soon it all went quiet. And out of nowhere, a blond man in a cape appeared out of the wall behind them. Deku had memorized every hero there was and this man was not one of them. That must mean he hadn't graduated yet. He must be an intern—a foolish dream chaser.

"You shouldn't have been able to get here so easily," Chisaki said, a twinge of annoyance in his voice.

"I took a shortcut," the blond stranger replied. "I came to save the girl."

"You barge into my home and expect me to listen to your selfish demands?" he scoffed. "What makes you think she even wants to be rescued by you. No child wants to be taken against their will. To this girl, you're no hero."

"I'm here for the girl," the young man repeated.

Chisaki sighed. "It seems I'm not getting through to you, so I'll put it simply."

The fledgling hero rushed forward. But before he could reach them, he swayed and collapsed against the wall.

"You're just going to die." Chisaki glared down at him.

Glancing above them, Deku spotted one of Chisaki's top brass hanging from the exposed pipes. He was guzzling a bottle of alcohol, cackling as he stared down at the bright-eyed youth who had been chasing them. Deku had only seen the drunk man once before. His Quirk allowed him to radiate a drunkenness that could affect others. Deku strode toward the collapsed hero-to-be and gazed down at him. He frowned. There was something about him that seemed familiar. The realization suddenly dawned on him.

"I remember you! You're a third-year student at UA, aren't you?" Deku said. "What was your name…Mirio wasn't it?"

Mirio's head snapped up, his eyes wide. "You! You're the missing first-year, Midoriya-kun! What are you doing here?" Mirio struggled to stand. "Are the Eight Precepts keeping you against your will? So those League of Villain scum really are working with—"

The hair on Deku's neck bristled. He quickly stepped to the side just as two bullets shot past his face. Mirio barely managed to dodge the attack. Chisaki's right-hand man stepped forward, gun in hand. Like the others, he kept his face covered with a bird-shaped plague mask.

"Step back if you don't want to get hurt," the man said, his voice muffled behind the mask. He turned back to Mirio. "What is your Quirk?"

"It's called 'Phaser.' While it's activated anything and everything will slip right through me!" The young intern quickly covered his mouth, eyes widening in shock.

"I remember that from the Sports Festival a few years ago," Deku said. "You didn't really stand out back then. Unless you count having all your clothes fall off. That was pretty memorable."

"I was wondering what crevice you managed to crawl out of," he said, cocking his handgun.

Chisaki's right-hand man fired again. But Mirio let himself fall into the wall, disappearing within it. Deku leaped back, but the other two weren't quick enough. Mirio exploded from the floor, punching both lackeys hard enough to knock them out. Before they could react, the intern disappeared into the floor once again.

"Boss!" The henchman with the gun shouted. "Behind you!"

The leader turned but Mirio was already gone. He reappeared again behind Chisaki and swung hard. Chisaki barely managed to avoid his attack. Using his momentum, Mirio kicked Chisaki's subordinate in the face, dropping Eri in the process. In a blink, Mirio dove forward and caught her effortlessly.

"No!" she cried, eyes wide with terror. "Stop! He'll kill you!"

"Don't worry, everything's alright now," Mirio said, smiling down at the child in his arms. "Don't worry, Midoriya-kun! The three of us will get out of here together!"

Chisaki glowered at Eri and Mirio. Deku had seen what Chisaki did to the ones that made him mad. The plucky upstart in front of them was about to experience it firsthand.

"Come back here, Eri," he said tersely. "Do you care if I kill that man? If you keep acting selfishly like this, then I've gotta go and get my hands dirty. And you know how much I HATE getting them dirty!"

Eri shuddered. She looked from the man holding her, back to Chisaki. Then her eyes flicked over to Deku.

"Everything's going to be okay, Eri-chan," Deku said with a gentle smile. "Promise."

She chewed on her lip. Though fear was reflected in her eyes, she nodded slowly. When Eri didn't move, Chisaki removed his gloves and slammed his hands into the floor. Everything instantly broke to pieces. As quickly as he destroyed it, Chisaki reassembled the ground into massive spikes of concrete, trying to pierce the young hero-to-be. Though the spikes went right through Mirio, he held Eri aloft, trying his best to protect her. Deku stepped back. He couldn't act foolishly. He would have to wait for an opening before he could rush in and rescue Eri.

"Looks like you've got more going for you than just your Quirk," Chisaki grumbled.

"You'd put her in harm's way just to get her back?" Mirio shouted angrily.

"Yep. It doesn't matter if Eri breaks." Chisaki shot more jagged spikes in Mirio's direction. The young hero managed to dodge them, still holding tightly to the child. "If I reassemble her in time, I can bring her back to life. And Eri doesn't need to come out of it pristine, since I can revert her back to her original state anyway. Trust me, Eri and her body know that first-hand."

His words enraged the young hero, Deku could see it in his scowl. Even Deku was angry at the callous way he spoke about torturing Eri, but he had to hang on to his composure. Mirio continued to dodge Chisaki's spiked attacks while holding tightly to the girl. Eventually the boss blocked the only exits using his Quirk.

"The real question is, what are you gonna do if Eri gets hurt? In this situation I'm the only one who can heal her," Chisaki pointed out. "You can't phase your way out of here while holding onto her, so are you going to fight me here? Do tell, Mr. school-boy. I already sealed off your escape with my Quirk."

Out of the corner of his eye, Deku noticed Chisaki's hooded henchman stir. Deku ducked behind one of the spikes. All of Mirio's attention was fixed on his attackers. If he waited a little longer, he might have a chance to get a hold of Eri. Two loud bangs echoed throughout the room. Peering around the pillar, Deku glimpsed Eri wrapped in Mirio's cape, but the hero was nowhere to be seen. Now was his chance. He charged forward, scooping Eri into his arms. The little girl clung to him desperately, tears brimming in her eyes.

"It's okay, Eri-chan," he said softly. "I've got you."

"Deku!" Chisaki shouted. "Bring her here! Now!"

"Midoriya-kun, don't do it!" Mirio yelled. He was trying to hold off the yakuza boss, but Chisaki was stronger than he appeared. "We can go back together! The heroes are here to rescue you both!"

"Enough of this!" Chisaki shouted. "Shoot them!"

His henchman aimed at Deku and Eri. Mirio charged forward, his desire to protect overtaking him. The man fired, the shot echoing loudly in the concrete room. The bullet struck Mirio in the shoulder. He fell to the ground, his teeth clenched in pain. But he was only down for a moment before he leaped to his feet. There was something different about him, Deku could sense it. Mirio rushed at Chisaki and struck him hard in the chest.

"Even if you take the Quirk I was born with, I still have an ace up my sleeve!" he proclaimed, a smile spreading across his face. "After all, I'll become the Symbol of Peace one day."

It felt like someone had slammed on the brakes in Deku's mind. Mirio's words…it was like he was proclaiming to be All Might's successor. Deku knew it was bound to happen. Sensei had told him the nature of All Might's Quirk and how it was passed down through the ages. But he never thought he would meet his idol's protégé this soon. He ground his teeth in anger. The hypocrisy, the foolishness…it was maddening! It wasn't fair!

A series of loud explosions disrupted the fight. Deku turned to look behind him. Another loud explosion broke a gaping hole in the wall. A figure launched through the opening, a blur of black, green, and orange. Deku frowned when Bakugou skidded to a stop in the middle of the room.

"Damn it, don't go running off, taking all the fun!" Bakugou shouted at Mirio. When Bakugou noticed Deku standing there, holding Eri, he frowned. "Deku!"

"Hello, Kacchan," Deku sneered. "Long time no see."

"Quick!" Mirio shouted to Bakugou. "Escape with Midoriya-kun and the girl! Their rescue is our top priority!"

"You know, the thing is, I don't think I need rescuing," Deku said.

"Midoriya-kun, what are you saying?" Mirio's eyes were wide.

"Didn't I tell you? I don't go by that name anymore."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Bakugou shouted.

"Isn't it obvious?" Deku laughed.

"What's going on?" Mirio looked between the two of them. "What are you talking about?"

"Deku wasn't kidnapped by the League of Villains," Bakugou said through gritted teeth. "He's working with them."

"Eri-chan, hold tight to me and don't let go," Deku whispered. "Close your eyes until I tell you to open them."

Eri nodded. She climbed onto his back and Deku tied Mirio's tattered cape around himself to hold her in place. Eri clung to the back of his shirt, her hands trembling. Deku swung his arm, a pillar of black flames shooting toward the heroes-in-training. Mirio rolled off to the side while Bakugou launched himself in the air with his explosions. Deku kicked off the ground. He shot toward Kacchan, his fire Quirk boosting his speed. Bakugou lifted his hand to blast him.

"Don't shoot!" Mirio shouted. "You can't harm the girl!"

Deku punched Kacchan hard in the jaw. The force sent him careening to the ground. Chisaki slammed his hands against the floor. Concrete spikes shot skyward, but this time they were directed at Deku as well.

"Traitor!" Chisaki screamed.

Quickly pulling the gun from his vest, Deku fired it at the yakuza leader. It struck Chisaki in the shoulder. Though Deku's gun didn't contain the bullets to permanently destroy a Quirk, he could still disable it. He aimed at Mirio and fired again. Mirio tried to dodge but the bullet grazed his arm. It didn't matter if it hit the hero directly, as long as it was enough to get the serum into his bloodstream.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Bakugou shouted. He wiped the trail of blood that trickled from the corner of his mouth. Deku's punches were stronger than he remembered.

"What does it look like?" Deku scowled. "This is a rescue mission."

"Like hell it is!"

"But before I go, I have a question for you, Mirio." Deku turned his attention to the blond third-year. "You said you're going to become the 'Symbol of Peace'. Tell me, does that mean All Might passed on his Quirk to you?"

"You know about One For All?" Mirio said, taken aback.

"My Sensei told me about it." Anger glimmered in Deku's red eyes. "He told me all about the hypocrite All Might's so-called Quirk."

"DEKU!" Chisaki roared, his eyes filled with rage. "GIVE HER BACK!" He charged toward him, but Mirio dove toward him, grappling him to the floor.

"I'll deal with Chisaki! Ground Zero, you get the girl back!" Mirio shouted at Bakugou.

"Ground Zero?" Deku laughed. "Is that your hero name, Kacchan?"

Bakugou threw his arms behind him and launched forward with his explosions. A wall of black flames erupted in front of Deku, cutting off Bakugou's attack. Kacchan skidded to a stop. Deku lunged forward. Snatching Bakugou's wrists, Deku kicked his legs out from under him. He pinned his former friend to the ground.

"You always were pretty hasty." He smirked. "I didn't think you'd be this anxious to see me."

"You fucker!" Bakugou struggled beneath him. "I want to bring you home, asshole!"

"And you thought insults would help you do that?"

Flames leaked from Deku's hands, burning his former friend's arms. Bakugou bit his lip to keep from screaming in pain. He wouldn't give the nerd the satisfaction. He rammed his knee into Deku's stomach. The blow knocked the wind out of the young villain. The moment he loosened his grip, Bakugou grabbed Deku's face, a loud explosion bursting from his palm. Deku leapt back, blood dripping down his face.

"You've got people waiting for you to come back," Bakugou shouted. "You're not a villain! So stop making your mom cry and come home already, shit nerd!"

"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CAN'T BE!" he roared.

With a burst from his flames, Deku launched forward. He spun, his leg sailing toward Bakugou's head. His former friend managed to block his kick, but Deku's swift punch caught him off guard. Deku could feel Kacchan's nose crack under his knuckles. He swung again, but a loud voice stopped him.

"Deku-kuuuuun!" Toga's voice echoed throughout the room. "We're out of time!"

Bakugou reached for him, but Deku sidestepped him. He snatched Kacchan by the back of his neck and slammed him into the concrete.

"I may not have had the power to fight back before, but I do now," he snarled. "How does it feel to be on the receiving end?"

Bakugou elbowed him hard in the jaw. Deku stumbled back, out of reach. Throwing his arms behind him Bakugou prepared to launch himself forward. The nerd wrapped himself in a pillar of black fire.

"See you later, Kacchan!"

Deku's voice echoed from the vortex of flames. When they finally dispersed, he was gone. They may have apprehended the Eight Precepts, but they had utterly failed to rescue Eri. Deku had fled with the little girl in tow. Bakugou slammed his fist into the ground, the floor cracking from his explosion of frustration.

"FUCK!" He ground his teeth, annoyed. The mission was as good as a failure. "Fucking damn it!"

Remember to leave a review and check back on Monday for Chapter 26!