I got up at the normal time on Saturday, even though first years did not have classes. This was due to the few who were traveling for internships outside of Japan, and fairness for the rest. There were three that I knew of. Ibara of 1-B was flying to Seattle to learn from Isley Amanda, the hero known as Curling Ivy. Kendo-san was traveling by ship to Hong Kong to train with the martial arts master Kei-Ying Yang better known as Seven Deadly Brothers. And lastly, Aoyama-san from my own class was going all the way to London, England, to intern with the company his older sister Minako currently worked for.
Eri knew I was going out this morning, before she or Mom got up. I assured her after the party last night, that I would be back for dinner, maybe earlier. And then we would spend the night drawing or playing games.
After a quick but hopefully balanced breakfast, I headed out to Nezu-sensei's office for the third time in two days. I arrived just before seven, but both Nezu-sensei and Recovery Girl were there waiting for me. Skits was also there. However the kitten didn't seem particularly interested in my arrival.
Also in the room was a large box on wheels. It was made of some sort of black or blackened metal, and was big enough that all three of us could have fit inside. Which it turned out was an ironic thought for me to have.
"Good morning, Nezu-sensei, Shuzenji-sensei," I greeted them both, "Good morning, Skits."
"Hello, Midoriya-kun," Nezu said.
"Good morning," Recovery Girl said.
"Did you get a good night's sleep?" the principal asked me.
"I did, thank you." I answered, then asked, "Shuzenji-sensei, are you going to help us today?"
"I am," she responded simply, giving both of us suspicious looks.
"Midoriya-kun, I did not want to do so without your consent," Nezu-sensei addressed me, "But I think we need to explain a little to Recovery Girl, to make this easier."
"I will trust you on that, sir," I said cautiously. I wasn't sure what he wanted to tell her, and also knew he could dissemble or flat out lie better than I could. Besides, he was smarter than me, and even I could also see potential issues if Recovery Girl went into this blind. So I would trust him and let him take the lead.
"Chiyo," he turned to her and called her by name, speaking gently, "I believe you are aware of the existence of irregulars?"
"I had to treat Aquaman once," her eyes narrowed and she considered me.
"Wait, Aquaman is like me?" I demanded in surprise.
"Not remotely," Nezu was apparently amused by my misstep, "But his powers also did not come from a Quirk. You don't seem surprised, Chiyo."
"I'm not," she agreed, "At least not exactly. I suspected there was more to Midoriya-kun's Quirk than Tactile Telekinesis. I didn't jump to non-Quirk powers until you just mentioned it."
Nezu nodded. I rubbed the back of my head, and probably looked as embarrassed as I felt.
"I wouldn't worry too much, young man," she reassured me, "Not many people would even know to think that. And your cover has been fairly good so far. Other than you being immune to Aizawa-kun's Quirk, though the rest of the staff has managed to convince themselves there is another, more normal reason for that."
She paused and then added, "I take it whatever Midoriya-kun can really do, that is related to what we are doing for Iida-kun today, and Yagi-kun in July?"
"Yes," Nezu confirmed, "If I told you he was a global esper, would that mean anything to you?"
"Esper was a common name for fake psychic power users," she mused, "Before the coming of Quirks. Now it is more used in fantasy and sci-fi fiction. Though I suppose, given the existence of irregulars, maybe not all of the past psychics were fakes."
"I have a strong suspicion that many, if not all, mythological heroes were irregulars, or possibly carried as earlier version of the Quirk gene," Nezu told us, "But that is neither here nor there. The point now, is that Midoriya-kun's abilities are not limited to Telekinesis. He can learn and refine a broad spectrum of psionic powers. He might even be able to create new ones."
"I take it that Midoriya-kun's other powers are how you intend to heal Iida-kun and Yagi-kun?," she prompted us, "Some sort of psychic healing power."
Nezu-sensei waved his hand to me. I explained to Recovery Girl about the five psychic disciplines.
"There is no teleportation school?" she mused, "Nothing to manipulate space and time?"
"No. That's only in games," I said. Then I considered it and added, "I guess Clairsentience might be controlling space and time. Just on an information level, rather than a physical level."
"Hmm," she frowned in thought, "So how is Psy-biology different Psychokinesis? How is manipulating cells different from manipulating other matter?"
"Well," I hemmed as I tried to think of how to explain, "Well, I could use Clairvoyance to zoom in and see a cell in action. And in theory I could use TK to move the cell. I'm not skilled enough to do that, yet. But with enough practice, that fine of control should be possible. But even if I could, that doesn't mean I could use those two powers to cause the cell to undergo mitosis. Maybe the two of you know enough to do that. Even then, I don't think you be able to do that to dozens or hundreds of cells at the same time."
I paused. Considered Ki and all the mysteries of life. So I added, "Also, life isn't just biochemical processes. There's more to it."
"True enough," Nezu agreed with me.
"There may be more truth to that than you realize, young man," Shuzenji-sensei said, "So, you have this power and will be able to repair the damage to Iida-kun."
"I will use a telepathic power called Skill Jockey," I told her, "To lend my Psychic Surgery and Clairvoyance to Nezu-sensei. Because you do need to know how to operate, to properly use Psychic Surgery."
"I have been brushing up on various medical and biochemical skills," Nezu-sensei said, "And practicing my surgical skills. I hope this will help alleviate your doubts."
He activated his computer, and on the four panel screens brought up before pictures and x-rays of Skits, as well as her current x-ray.
"And this was all done by you," she prompted, "Using Midoriya-kun's powers."
"Yes," we both confirmed.
She exhaled. Looked at both of us. And then shook her head.
"Iida-kun has agreed," she said, "and I will be there to monitor the surgery. And most importantly, I suspect you will go ahead with this, even if I say no."
I looked between them anxiously. I had heard other students in elementary school talk about their parents fighting. I imagined this was how that felt.
"There is more to this than just Tensei-kun," Nezu said softly, "Or even getting practice before operating on All Might."
"Fine. I will help."
"Excellent," Nezu's voice brightened, "Then Midoriya-kun, get in the box!"
He opened the black crate. The left side had drawers and shelves packed full of various devices Nezu-sensei had purchased or built. Mostly built. The right side had a small, padded chair, and enough room for Nezu-sensei or a somewhat larger person to sit comfortably. On the side wall there was also a monitor and a pair of joysticks, each with trigger and thumb buttons.
"This box is shielded," he explained, "I use it to protect my devices from detection. I can also use it as a hiding spot. It is self-mobile, it will follow me around if I am outside, or I can control it from the inside. It can't handle stairs, unfortunately, but the wheels can telescope up to a meter, so it can get up a single stair, or load itself into a vehicle."
I leaned in and looked inside.
"These are various tools and devices that might be useful," Nezu-sensei continued, "A jamming device, some medical monitors of my own creation, a nutrient solution Recovery Girl formulated, a variety of antiseptics and other drugs. My scalpels, and other standard surgical supplies, just in case."
"Fortunately, your height and build should allow you to fit comfortably inside," Shuzenji-sensei looked at me and then at the seat.
"I want you to get in now, so you won't see seen on the way to the hospital," Nezu-sensei concluded, "To or from. And depending on the situation, you may not need to get out of the box at all."
"Alright," I agreed.
He reached in and hit a button. The chair rotate and extended out. I sat down, and the chair tucked and turned back in. There was maybe a centimeter of clearance for my left shoulder, and at most two for my head. He closed it, and a small internal light came on, so I wasn't staring at the monitor in the dark. The setup gave me a 180 degree view of the front of the box.
"Party disband," I remembered, "Party invite, Nezu."
To his credit he didn't react. He hit the button casually, while reaching for the door.
"Let's go," he said to Recovery Girl, revealing that I had sound as well as visuals.
They walked out, and the robot followed them. It was a bit jerky on the inside, but nowhere near as bad as some of the coasters in Toru's Dungeon. Skits tried to sneak out, but they stopped her, and the principal locked his office. He led us to the elevator, and down to UA's garage.
"I'm driving," Shuzenji-sensei told him firmly, "I don't want Midoriya-kun getting bounced around that box, or having a cardiac episode before we get to the hospital."
"That will be fine," Nezu-sensei pouted slightly.
As he said, the box loaded itself into the van. Not the same van from when we rescued Eri, that one was off to the side and still getting the dents worked on from what I could see. Once the crate was in place, magnetic clamps activated, locking it, and me, down. The was a seatbelt on the chair, and I buckled it.
It was about a fifty minute drive to the hospital. We might have made it faster, but Shuzenji-sensei was a careful driver, a fact for which I was thankful. We arrived, and they unloaded the box. It followed Nezu into the hospital, and Shuzenji-sensei walked beside. Once we were through the doors, there was a pair waiting for us, and they immediately walked over to Nezu-sensei. They were both women, one in her late thirties or early forties, and the other probably closer to sixty. They looked similar, and familiar. The younger woman had blue hair. The older's hair had mostly white hair, with a few remaining streaks of blue.
"Good morning, Mizuno-sensei, Director Mizuno," Nezu-sensei inclined his head to them. And I felt foolish for not realizing why they looked familiar.
'Your grandmother is the director of your mom's hospital, Ami?' I asked over Guild Chat.
'Huh?' Ochako's voice was sleepy.
'Sorry,' I whispered over chat, remembering it was Saturday and they didn't need to be up.
'Yes, she is,' Ami sounded like she was already awake, 'Remember the department administrator, from my Dungeon? After mom left that hospital to escape her, and we moved in with my mom's parents, my grandmother offered Mom a job. Grandma had retired from her director position, but was still on the board at her old hospital. They wanted her back, so she agreed if they also hired my mom. Not that they wouldn't have anyway, from what Grandma says. But she wanted to make sure Mom was taken care of after her last job and my parents getting divorced. Why?'
'I guess their hospital is where Iida-kun's brother is, because we just arrived there. Nezu-sensei and Shuzenji-sensei are talking to your mom and grandmother now.'
'I didn't realize that Iida-san was at Hosu General,' the bluette told me, 'I didn't follow the news about him too much.'
'No offense,' Kyoka suddenly said, 'But can you two drop the Guild Chat? Some of us are trying to get some extra sleep.'
'Sorry,' we both said in unison. Then I said aloud, "Party invite, Ami."
'Nezu-sensei, I added Ami to the party, since I thought this might interest her,' I said over the narrower chat, 'Especially if she will be helping us with All Might's operation.'
'Excellent idea,' he multi-tasked conversations with ease, 'And good morning to you, Mizuno-chan.'
'Good morning, sensei,' she replied.
'Now that I am done talking to your mother and grandmother,' he told her, and by extension, me, 'we can proceed.'
We took the elevator up three floors. Down the hall and around the corner. A single room with a label 'Iida Tensei' outside the door. Nezu-sensei knocked twice, then let himself in.
"Good morning Iida-kun," the mouse-dog said brightly.
"Good morning, Nezu-sens... Nezu-san," Iida Tensei responded. He looked both better and worse than I was expecting. Seeing an amazing Hero like Ingenium in this state hurt my heart. I had to remind myself that we were here to fix this.
"Good morning, Shuzenji-sensei," he added a moment later, "I almost didn't recognize you."
"A fortunate accident with an out of control Quirk has given me a new lease on life," she said, smiling slightly.
"I wasn't expecting you," he added.
"I wasn't expecting this fool to try something like this," she shrugged, "And yet here we both are."
"So you don't trust his treatment?" Iida-san asked cautiously.
"I do," she countered, "But 'trust, but verify' and 'better safe than sorry' are sayings for a reason."
"On that note," Nezu-sensei opened up the left side of the box, leaving me hidden. He took out a number of antenna like devices, and started to set them up around the room.
"What are those?" Iida-san asked.
"Electronic interference devices," Nezu-sensei explained, "While I trust director Mizuno when she says the hospital won't record anything that happens here, she is not the only person in this hospital. I can think of multiple other reasons that the doctors, executives, or lawyers here would choose to circumvent her instructions. So I'm making sure our deal is kept. Starting... now."
"That sly old fox," Mizuno Ayane shook her head as the secondary camera feed cut out, "Or whatever he is."
"Now then, Iida-kun," Nezu-sensei returned his attention to our patient, "There is one more matter we need to address, before we begin."
"And that is?" Shuzenji-sensei asked before Iida-san could respond.
"Anesthesia," the bear-dog answered, "Do you want to be awake for the procedure or not?"
Nezu-sensei raised a hand to cut him offer, "There are reasons both for and against. The plus side of knocking you out is that you won't know what exactly we did here. I trust you with this secret, even without the NDA and liability clauses of the paperwork. But at the same time, there are Quirks out there that can read and control minds. Just a few weeks ago, a criminal was caught with a Quirk that compels people to answer his questions truthfully. If you are knocked out, it won't matter what those sorts try, you won't be able to help them."
"Better safe than sorry," Iida-san repeated.
"Quite. The second reason it is better, is that it will make the procedure easier. You won't be able to react to the healing. It should not hurt, but we can't be sure that it won't itch or tickle. And if you start squirming, that could make things tougher."
"On the other hand, despite all the advances, anesthesia still has risks. They are quite low, but they do exist. Part of why I asked Recovery Girl to help is that she is much better at administering anesthesia than I am, and is more useful if there is an issue. The second reason you should stay awake, is that it will make the procedure easier. You will be able to react, to tell us of something hurts, or more likely and importantly, if something feels better. If the feeling in your legs improves. If you can wiggle your toes. That will allow us to gauge the effectiveness during the process, rather than wait until it is done."
"So, I am leaving it to you," Nezu concluded, "If you have any questions about the risks, Recovery Girl can answer them. But I think it is only fair; do you want a small risk now, or an unknown risk later?"
He considered that for a moment.
"This isn't my first surgery," he said, "I know the risks. But I'm also not a doctor. I'll do whatever you recommend."
"I would say put him under," Nezu-sensei turned to UA's nurse.
"And I would rather we didn't," she countered, "But I know your reasons, and that this is a special case. So I will do it."
Both men nodded at her. I felt a little bad, but was also relieved no-one else would find out about me. Even if it was just the limited version we had told Recovery Girl.
Recovery Girl had hooked Iida-san up to both the general anesthetic and the nutrient drip. After a about a minute, he was unconscious. She checked him over twice, before telling us that he was fine and we could proceed.
Nezu-sensei opened the box fully, and I stepped out. He wheeled it over to the bedside, and opened a number of drawers, but didn't take anything out for the moment. He pulled Iida-san's chart of the bed and set it on one of the open drawers. He flipped through it briefly, as if refreshing his memory. Then he extended one paw to me.
"Skill Jockey: Psychic Surgery, Clairvoyance," I announced loudly. Then under my breath muttered, "Ki Diagnostic."
"Okay," Nezu clapped his hands. Closed his eyes. And then said both out loud and over Party Chat, "Let's start small. Deep jagged cut to upper right arm. Stitched, but muscle and dermal scarring expected."
He extended one hand towards the bandage just below Iida-kun's right shoulder.
"Decay the damaged and scarred tissue," he said softly, "carry it away to be eliminated naturally. Regrow healthy tissue. Maintain telomere length. Reconnect the cells on either side of the break. Verify structure and standing. Good, good. That's one down. Stepping it up a bit..."
He continued to describe as he worked on the various cuts and stabs to Iida-kun's head, neck, arms, and legs. He also casually mentioned cleaning up a few older injury scars. Then he got to the big ones. The stab through Ingenium's stomach, that went out his back and partially severed his spine. And the second stab, to his back as he fell. That one was higher and did not damage his other organs, but had cut completely through his spinal cord. It was the combination of these two injuries that limited the cybernetic options.
"First the through and through," Nezu told us, "Since that only partially cut the cord between the first and second lumbar, but also damaged the abdominal wall and intestines. Start with the intestines, and work our way out."
He described, briefly, repairing the organs, muscle, skin, and even the chipped first lumbar vertebrae.
"Now the critical part. Reconnecting all of the nerves in the spine."
Up to now, he had just rested his hands on Iida-san, as close as he could reach, to the injury he was fixing. Now he pulled his hands back. He began to move them subtly, like he was weaving or perhaps knitting. He began to hum 'It Binds us Together' again. And I found myself humming along, in the counterpoint. Sometimes it blended into the main melody, but mostly it was a lower, softer harmony.
He stopped once, and then suddenly twisted his hands. A bead of sweat creeped out of his fur. Recovery Girl moved up quickly and mopped it away. There was no wound for it to drip into, and his eyes were closed, so there was little risk. It was likely something she had done to the point it was nearly instinct. He started weaving again. The color of the injury revealed by Ki Diagnostic faded more slowly this time compared with the previous sections of the surgery. But eventually, it vanished completely into the golden yellow aura that was the rest of Iida-san's ki. And then Nezu-sensei leaned down on the box.
"That was more tiring than I thought," he said, "especially considering I am using your skill and your psychic energy, Midoriya-kun."
I checked, and my Energy was just over half.
"I'm still good, sensei," I reassured him.
"Good," he bobbed his head, "But I can use a snack and a drink."
He opened another drawer, and took out a thermos and a reusable plastic container. They contained a chilled black tea, and what appeared to be yogurt mixed with fruit and granola. He quickly ate and drink it, then let out a combination of a yawn and a sigh.
"Now for the main event," he said, then added silently, 'My apologies, Mizuno-chan, for not narrating the last part. I was getting a feel for finding and reconnecting the right neurons. It was draining and required focus, but I think I am getting the hang of it.'
'It is fine, sensei,' she told him, 'The operation comes first.'
"Okay, now for the complete severing of the spinal between the 8th and 9th thoracic," he cracked his fingers, and leaned in over Iida-kun again.
"So, to explain this, I am using Psychic Surgery to stimulate the brain, and also the muscles and nerves in the legs and lower torso. I send a signal to the brain to bend the right big toe. I see... well, not see, but sense... I sense what nerves fired down to break. Then I simulate the same action in the toe, and observe the other end. Of course, that is an oversimplification, and I am running dozens of simulation to isolate each precise nerve connection... But he now should have full feeling and control in his right foot. Moving up to the calf."
He continued to describe as he reconnected the nerves, and occasionally there were twitches under the sheet covering his legs. I kept an observing the black spot in the ki over his spine. Threads pierced through the cloud, with each reconnection.
"And now to regrow the disc," he finished, "and there. I also tried to counteract the atrophy in his muscles, but there is only so much I can do there. We need him awake to confirm it, but his legs should be working. There will still be some recovery and therapy, but from what I can tell, he will be able to walk, run, play basketball, and anything else normally."
He looked at me. I nodded.
"And finally," Nezu-sensei said, "The toughest part."
He reach down and gently turned Iida-san's left arm out. One damaged, metal tube stuck out, and there were two bandages inside his arm and one just above his elbow, where missing exhaust pipes and mufflers should have been.
"My understanding is that these should grow back," Nezu-sensei said
"When he was a student, he ripped them out," Shuzenji-sensei grumbled, "Said they would grow back better and stronger. Which they did, but it was still as stupid thing to do."
The bear-mouse nodded, then continued, "Unfortunately, due to the damage done by the cuts that... removed them, the doctors are less sure this time. And personally, we face the issue of will Psychic Surgery even work here. The Iida family's Engine Quirks are mostly organic. Except some parts are manufactured by their bodies but are purely mechanical. I know, for example, that Tensei and Tenya's father had some of the bushings in his Engine surgically replaced with a lower friction titanium alloy, to reduce the heat. I will fix these injuries the best I can, but, I can't be sure. That said, I did also come partially prepared."
He touched Iida-san's arm more intently than before. I felt a more firm pull on my Energy than before. And a moment later, a gear emerged from the skin, leaving no mark. Like when I extracted the organs or planted needles from my test subjects. It was a dark grey steel, and had a large crack through it. Nezu set it on a medical tray. Then he pick up a gear from one of the open drawers in the box. It was a different, lighter metal, but the same shape.
"I prepared this replacement gear based on the x-ray, and past x-rays," Nezu-sensei explained, "along with a handful of other parts. The material is also sturdier, so it should act as an upgrade as well as a repair."
Then he got to work, replacing damaged parts. And regenerated the living components of his Engine. Then his face creased in a frown.
"His engines are repaired, but I was only able to get a few centimeters of growth for his pipes. There just isn't enough iron in his system, or in the solution. They should be about four times as long. But they should also regrow naturally. It isn't an issue with the healing, just with the materials available."
He leaned back again, and sighed.
"But that's done. I don't really sense, or see with Clairvoyance, anything else I can do," he told us.
'I don't see anything else, either,' I said silently, 'His ki aura is clear and...'
"Analyze," I whispered.
'... the only status ailment remaining,' I continued, 'is "Reduced Quirk Speed (Exhaust Pipe Recovery)'. So I thick... think he will be fine.'
"Are you two talking telepathically?" Shuzenji-sensei prompted us.
"Yes," Nezu-sensei said frankly, "We were. We're done now. Midoriya-kun, back in the box, please."
"Cancel Skill Jockey," I said softly, and sat back in the chair.
Then I had to turn it back on. Shuzenji-sensei removed the two IVs from Iida-san, and then Nezu-sensei healed the punctures. I removed Skill Jockey again, and then they closed the robot's cockpit to hide me. They put everything back in the box, leaving the scramblers for last. The principal closed the left half box again. Recovery Girl continued to monitor Ingenium, and after maybe ten minutes, he began to stir. A few more minutes after that his eyes opened.
"Wassa..." Iida-san grumbled, "What's going on. Weyou finished with that?"
"Yes, the operation is complete," Nezu-sensei told him, "And so far it appears to be a complete success. After you have a few minutes to wake up and clear your head, we'll run a few tests."
Mizuno-sensei came in with a large glass of juice with a straw. I analyzed it and discovered it was a mix of prune and orange juice, with artificial flavors. Which was good, because at least to me that didn't sound like an appetizing blend. She held it for Iida-san, but began looking him over as he sipped.
"Thank you, Saeko," he told her. Then his eyes flickered to Shuzenji-sensei and Nezu-sensei, and he quickly added "Sensei."
"Of course, Iida-san," she said demurely, "The nurses were fighting over who would get to come in, but as your surgeon I pulled rank. I need to see how you are."
She handed the glass to him, and he continued to sip. Then she went over to the machines and began to check his readings.
"This... I want to say this is impossible," Mizuno-sensei said, "Except that word has very little meaning these days, and I can see that it is possible."
Then she glared at Nezu-sensei, like she was hoping her hydrokinesis Quirk would suddenly change into telepathy.
"Is the fog clear?" Nezu-sensei asked, once the glass was empty.
"Yeah, pretty much," our patient agreed.
"Good," Nezu went to the end of the bed. Lifted up one side of the sheet, and indicated for one of the ladies to hold up the other. Mizuno-sensei beat Shuzenji-sensei to it, and looked over Iida-san's feet, which he could not see. Then the dog-bear pulled a long pin from his jacket.
"Tell me, can you feel this?" He poked the arch of Iida-san's left foot.
"Please say where."
"Oh, left foot. Near the middle."
"Good. And this?"
"I don't feel anything."
"Also good, that was a trick question. Here?"
"Right big toe."
"Ouch! And left heel."
"My apologies. I thought with the calluses you have built up, it would be less sensitive."
Nezu-sensei kept poking Iida-san's feet for a while. Then moved up his legs. Then he switched to a feather, and some sort of tube that Iida-san complained felt cold.
"Well, I am satisfied that your sense of touch is restored to normal. I expect your physicians and therapists will want to do a more thorough test. But now for the important part. Iida-kun, can you wiggle your toes?"
The speedster looked down at his feet, now uncovered, and a moment later both sets of toes wiggled back and forth.
"Now just the right... Good. Just the left... Good. Now straighten your toes out and spread them as wide as you can."
Iida-san complied with a slightly look of concentration. I worried there might be an issue, but then tried it myself. My shoes limited my movement, but it was still tougher than I would have thought. So it was hopefully a normal issue with the action, rather than something we missed. Since he was able to do it.
"Now... Tensei, I want you to try to lift your right leg. Just lift up at the hip. But don't try to hard. Don't strain yourself. And don't get upset if you can't. Remember..."
Iida-san's foot lifted off the bed. Then his calf. Then his thigh.
"... you will still need time and therapy," Nezu-sensei continued, ignoring the movement, "to recover your full strength and control. But since you are ignoring me, can you rotate your leg out... Now in. Now bend your knee down and try to place your foot flat on the bed."
Nezu-sensei had Iida-san repeat the process with his left leg.
"Well, that wraps it up for me," Nezu-sensei said lightly, "Iida Tensei, I will say it again as it bears repeating. I have many doctorates but I am not a licensed surgeon or physician. More specifically, I am not your surgeon or physician. And your medical care professionals will put you through their own tests and therapy. But from what I can tell, the operation has been a complete success, excepting your still short exhaust pipes. And I believe you can and will recover to the point it will be like Stain never attacked you."
"Thank you, Nezu-sensei," Iida-san said, tears in the corners of his eyes.
"I have no response, as you are not welcome to end up like this again, nor can I honestly say it was 'no problem'. Instead, I will say: thank you, Iida-kun. As much as this helped you, it will also help others."
Once the box was back in the van, I took out my phone. No bars. Which wasn't surprising, whatever was keeping the inside from being scanned was also probably blocking my phone.
"Party Disband," I said again, "Party Invite: Uravity."
A moment later, I heard, 'Hi, Izuku. Good morning I guess?'
'Sorry we woke you up earlier,' I told her, 'And hi. Can you talk now? Are you busy?'
'Sure?' she sounded both happy and unsure, 'What do you want to talk about?'
'Yesterday,' I started, "You asked if 'we' could go out, after the internships. My first thought was that you were asking me out on a date. But then a voice cut in, in my head. It said, "There is no way a sexy girl like her would want to go out with a useless Deku." It sounded like a couple of the people I knew at Aldera. But then my own voice, the logical side of me, pointed out that even if you were interested, you probably wouldn't ask me out in front of my mom, All Might-sensei, and all of the other Knights.'
"Oh', she said softly.
'Then I remembered what happened after you found out how much money was dropped in the Dungeons,' I continued, pretending I hadn't heard her. Or didn't hear her again after that next statement.
'And Mom also told me that multiple of the Knights were potentially interested in me. And someone else implied that you might be. Interested. In me. So I wasn't sure. I decided to treat it like an open invitation to the group. Since I do think that is a good idea. But I also thought that way would be the least embarrassing for the two of us. And then I could clear the air later. Ask you what you really wanted. Which is now.'
'And if I was asking you on a date?' she countered cautiously.
'Then I would have said we needed to talk,' I told her, 'Which would have potentially sounded bad. Even though it might not be. But it is true, and we can talk now.'
'What do we need to talk about?' she sounded nervous now.
'Tsu and I are dating,' I said simply, 'Well, we've had one sort of date and one real date. And we want to go on more, but between studying and Dungeons and everything else that has been going on, it's hard to find time. Also, Ami and I have a date scheduled for after the internships. This isn't a secret from either of them. I'm not cheating. We are all figuring out how we feel. And also, Tsu is actually pushing me to date them both. Ami seems cautiously fine with it. And I'm finding myself more open to the possibility than I would have expected.'
Then I paused. She didn't say anything.
'I'm telling you this to be open and honest like I am with them,' I explained, 'If we go out, I want you to know that I will still be dating the two of them. At least at first. I can't predict the future. Maybe Ami and I will decide we are better as friends, and Tsu will dump me for someone in the Support Course. Or maybe the three of us will end up in a steady, committed relationship. Or maybe the four of us... There's been a lot of talk about polyamory, apparently most of it when I wasn't around, but I'm not sure if you were in on it either. But I want to be honest with you. If the fact that Tsu and Ami and I are already trying to determine how we all feel and how we all fit is... not good for you, I want you to know. And I'm not saying you have to accept a multi-partner relationship, if we are going to go out. We could go out to find out how we fit as an ordinary couple. But I also know many people don't want someone they are dating seeing anyone else. And at this point, that is not on the table for me.'
'Sorry,' I realized, 'I was kind of talking at you, rather than to you. I get caught up mumbling... rambling... and well... But... ummm... what do you think?'
Ochako started laughing. Not an angry or mocking laugh, but one of genuine mirth and amusement.
'Sorry, I'm not laughing at you,' she said, 'I was just remembering. The night you went to pick up ramen and almost got robbed? All of us girls chatted after that, and Tsu suggested that she and Ami could both date you, and tried to pass it off as a hypothetical. And then we all talked about harems, and this British CEO with two wives. So it was funny that Tsu actually did it, and that you didn't know we were all pretty much aware of it. Well, not Toru and Mo-chan, we haven't talked to them about it yet. Or at least I wasn't there if anyone else did. But it also sounds like Mo-chan's parents were a threesome, before her Dad... Did you know that? Was I not supposed to tell you that?'
'Yes,' I reassured her, 'Ami and Momo told me, at Mo-chan's request.'
'Okay,' she sighed in relief, 'So then yeah, I know about you and Tsu and Ami. And I'm not sure about myself yet, but I would like to go out with you, at least once or twice. See if what I'm feeling is strong enough to share. If, you know, that's okay with you?'
'I think so,' I told her, 'I don't feel for you like I do for them. But I also don't know you as well yet. And I'm definitely attracted to you...
'I got that,' she sounded just a bit smug. Then with a hint of self-depreciation added, 'And I'm not too sexy for you.'
'So I'd like to get to know you better,' I continued, 'Personally and privately. What about Thursday after the internships?'
'Sure,' she said happily.
'Great. Then I think we are leaving at about the same time tomorrow, same as most of our class. See you then?"
Though later than I hoped, I got back in time to have lunch with Mom and Eri. After that the three of us played Pokemon Party on my Destiny. But only one round, and then Eri asked if the two of us could read. Both Mom and I could tell she wanted to be close and alone with me, before I was gone for a week. So I agreed.
We went into my room. Eri grabbed the Elemental Magic Primer off the shelf and snuggled up next to me. We were in the water section of the grimoire, and Eri was enjoying the depictions of rainbows and dolphins the accompanied some of the spells.
"Izuku-nii-chan?" she prompted me after we finished the spell to purify contaminated water.
"Why can't I do magic?" she asked, "I've been doing what the book says, but nothing happens."
"I have an idea about that," I told her, "I think people can have a Quirk or magic, but not both."
The only person I had ever Analyzed who had Mana was Ichiraku Teuchi. Who happened to be Quirkless. And maybe the Bookkeeper, though her stats were all hidden, so her 'Mana' might just have been a placeholder and obfuscation, so I wasn't sure if she did or didn't.
Everyone had Stamina. Except me, with my Energy instead. And most people had Ki, or Psions. But I had never seen another person with Mana. It could just be a coincidence or dumb luck. But I doubted it.
"Oh," she looked sad. Then she looked up at me, "So if I got rid of my Quirk, could I do magic instead?"
"I don't think it works like that," I said gently, "Would you want to do that?"
"Maybe," she said sadly, "My Quirk is bad."
"I don't think your Quirk is bad," I hugged her, "It might be powerful, and you may have to work hard to control it. But I think it's an amazing Quirk. And you'll help a lot of people some day."
"Really?" she sounded relieved.
"If that is what you want, and if you practice," I told her, "Then absolutely. And I'll help you do that. But if you just want to live a quiet, peaceful life, we can do that too."
"Okay," she hugged me back, "Thanks onii-chan."
Then she looked down at the book again, "But I'm still going to try to learn magic. In case my Quirk goes away."
I wondered where she got that idea, but didn't argue with her. Instead we started on the spell to make water bubbles that were as tough as basketballs.
"I'll try to call you every day," I told Mom and mostly Eri, "But I can't promise that. I don't know what my internship will be like. But I'll definitely see you a week from today, okay?"
Eri nodded stoically.
"Get stronger, Izuku-nii-chan," she told me. I gave her a brief hug.
I jogged quickly to the train station. I would be getting there early, but there was something in my morning news feed I wanted to watch.
"Good morning, Midoriya-kun!" Iida-kun said brightly, "You are here early."
"Yes," I nodded, "Probably for the same reason you are. Do you know what this is about?"
"No, just that my family encouraged me to get here early so I would be able to watch. We only have a minute."
We found a couple of seats and took out our phones. Glancing around, we weren't the only ones.
The reporter for the network gave the standard introduction. Then the camera switched and panned to a small podium. But the camera focused to the side of the stand. The door in the corner of the room opened. A wheelchair was pushed in. Iida Tensei, with Mizuno Saeko behind him. She parked him next to the podium, and then locked the wheels.
Next to me, Iida-kun, Tenya-kun's, eyes tightened.
"Good morning," Iida-san the elder addressed the reporters, "In case any of you, or your viewers, don't know, I am Iida Tensei, perhaps better known as the professional Hero Ingenium. Most of you likely know that two weeks ago on Thursday, I was attacked and seriously injured by the villain who calls himself 'Stain the Hero Killer'. Since then, there have been multiple updates on my condition, some misunderstandings, some rumors, and even misinformation. Yes, I nearly died. Yes, there were doubts as to the degree to which I would recover use of my legs. In my darkest moment, I considered retiring and passing on the name Ingenium..."
Mizuno-sensei handed Iida-san a cane. He placed it on the floor. Then placed his right foot on the floor. His left foot. And using all three points, he pushed down. Lifted himself up, into a standing position.
"But I will recover. I will return to protecting the public as the Hero Ingenium. My doctors are saying four to six months of therapy, before I am fully recovered."
Then he stopped, and lifted the cane up. Supported himself with just his legs. Mizuno-sensei frowned slightly at him.
I guess that stunt wasn't part of the plan.
"I intend to be back in three months. I don't want to put myself at risk, but I also am someone who likes to go fast. By the end of summer, Ingenium will be back on the street."
Then he supported himself with the cane again, and slowly returned to the wheelchair.
"But that doesn't mean I'm at 100 percent yet," he laughed lightly, and then exhaled.
"So, any questions?" he smiled broadly at the press.
I turned my phone off. So did Iida-kun.
"So did you know about this?" Tsu asked from behind us. Iida-kun jumped. I knew she was there. I recognized her footsteps, and the smell of her shampoo.
"I didn't," Iida-kun said, his voice rough, "My brother called me yesterday, and said he was feeling better, and that the would be a short press conference this morning... I suppose it is a good thing I didn't take the name Ingenium."
"Did he know that you didn't?" I asked.
"Yes, I had told him."
"What is going on?" Mo-chan noticed our expressions, as she joined us.
"My brother just announced that he will make a full recovery, and return to Hero work."
"That's awesome," Mo-chan said happily, and punched him lightly in the arm.
Iida-kun flinched. So maybe not that lightly.
"Yes," he seemed somewhat dazed.
"It is good you are interning in Hosu," I said softly, hoping to push him, "When you aren't working, you can go to see him. Maybe help him with his therapy."
"Yes," he seemed conflict, "That is a good idea."
Ami, Cassandra, and Ochako joined us. Also Tetsutetsu-san and Awase-san from 1-B. We talked about Iida-san's announcement. And about our internships.
"Walk me to my train?" Tsu asked. She was traveling northeast, while most of the rest of us were taking the westbound train about twenty minutes later. Though Ami's internship was south, just outside Kyoto.
We walked to the end of the station, and crossed to another platform.
"I'll see you in a week," Tsu said, "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, too. I'll call if I can."
"We have Guild chat," she said, "Or Party chat."
"But then I can't see you," I countered. She smiled slightly. Then she gave me a quick peck on the lips, and hopped onto the train.
"Hey, little brother," Aoyama Minako waved to Yuga as he exited Heathrow Airport into cool early, early London morning. The younger Aoyama's eyes widened. He had not expected his sister to be the one to pick him up, even if he was interning with the agency she worked for.
"Ma jolie grande soeur," he said in surprise, then returned to Japanese, "I am surprised to see you. I thought Sir Justin would be coming to pick me up."
"English, little brother," she reminded him, "And no, our boss delegates to junior Heroes. Besides, I volunteered. I wanted to see my little brother. It's been almost two years."
She helped him load his suitcase into the boot, and then they took off. Minako was a good driver, but a bit fast for Yuga's taste. But rather than talk, she focused on the road, and a silence settled over the car.
"Why to you really come to get moi, Minako?" he finally asked her.
"I just... I wanted to warn you," she said cautiously.
"Warn me?" he asked nervously.
"The Galahad Agency are all good blokes," she said, "We'll help you, and you'll do fine there. But the thing is, Sir Justin didn't start the agency on his own. We have a silent partner. Round Table Industries owns forty two percent of the agency."
"Round Table Industries? The phone and TV company?" he prompted confused.
"They have their fingers in a lot of pies," she said, "They started in agriculture, moved to agricultural machines, and then cars. And yeah, now they are best known for high end phones and 3d projection. But they still do all the other things. And they also have stakes in twenty one Hero companies. Most in Europe, but also Canada, Brazil, Australian, and South Africa."
"And why tell me this?" Yuga asked.
"Because there is a chance you could meet them. 80 percent ownership of Round Table rests in the hands of the Pendragon family. And I've met them all. The CTO Igraine Pendragon and CFO Vivian Pendragon are both good people. And the President and CEO Uther Pendragon... There are lots of rumors about him, both good and bad. I don't know what's true and not. But I've met him. He seems to be an honest man. But he's also intense, and more than a little ruthless."
She paused and glanced away from the road to grab his eyes with hers.
"But Igraine and Uther's daughter, Morgana Pendragon. She's the VP of Human Resources and the one you are most likely to meet. She's a right crazy witch. There are rumors she killed her younger sister. And while I'm not sure if they are true or not, I can definitely believe that she would. If she develops an interest in you, if she gets her claw into you, she will do anything to keep you. If you hear me, or anyone, say her name, you turn and walk the opposite direction."
"Promise me, Yuga."
He nodded, worried.
The rest of us boarded the western train, after saying goodbye to Ami and wishing her luck. It wasn't a bullet train, and it stopped, so it took almost about twenty minutes to get to Hosu. That was where Iida-kun got off, and Awase-san transferred to a different train, heading north to Lothal Town. Tetsutestu-san got off three stops later, leaving me alone with Ochako, Cass, and Mordred. We chatted lightly, but a certain nervousness settled over the three of us, as we grew steadily closer to All Might's enigmatic and frightening mentor. When Ochako finally left, the chill seemed to deepen. I invited them into my Party, so the three of use could talk privately and without signing. Only we didn't say much.
We crossed over into Yamanashi Prefecture, and then finally reached our station. Following our phones, we reached a four story apartment building. There was a sign for the Torino Agency over the door. The sign was gaudy and drooping to one side.
'It looks a bit... dilapidated,' I commented silently.
'It looks like it could use some repairs,' Cassandra said gently.
'It looks like it should be condemned,' Mo-chan said what we were thinking.
I walked up the steps, and pressed the buzzer. Nothing happened. I waited for a moment, in case the bell couldn't be heard inside. Then, finally, I knocked on the door.
"Come in," a gruff voice said. I opened the door, and we went in.
He was shorter than any of us, by a decent margin. He had a scruffy grey beard and a matching head of hair. At least it was a full head of hair. His costume looked like Mega Man, except in shades of yellow. And he had a cape and a stylized romanji 'G' for a belt buckle. He stared up at us intently, almost angrily.
"Good af..." I started.
"I had a glorious prank all planned," he cut me off, "I would leave the door open. The local butcher makes these wonderful sausages, that taste incredible but still look like guts. And this lovely barbeque sauce that looks like blood. I would be lying on the floor, looking for all the world like I had been disemboweled and left for dead. Then, when you got close or someone asked if I was alive, I would jump up, revealing the plate, and act like I was some senile old coot who just spilled his lunch and then fell asleep in it."
His eyes narrowed further.
"Then I realized it would never work. After all, there is no way the daughter of the Orphan wouldn't be able to feel my heartbeat and tell I was fine. And neither part would work on someone who could just 'Scan' me and see that I was neither injured, nor suffering from any mental conditions. Isn't that right, Midoriya Izuku.
Status Changes for Midoriya Izuku:
Energy: 1675 → 1699
(I)ntuition: 61 → 62
(D)etermination: 70 → 71
Scientific Method (W/I): 15 → 16
Chemistry, Basic (I): 14 → 15
First Aid (W/A): 10 → 12
Ki Diagnosis (D/W): 26 → 31
Clairvoyance (I/W) LB: 51 → 53
Psychic Surgery (I/D) 36 → 40
Skill Jockey (I/C): 39 → 42
Trap Detection (W/I): 1 → 2