I tried to tune out the clash and clang of sword on sword behind me. Native was far below zero HP when I arrived. Only an aspect of his Quirk Talent was what kept him not only alive but conscious. If I had arrived two minutes later, he would have been dead. There was more than just the deep cut in his stomach. That was actually multiple partially overlapping gashes. And there were dozens of smaller cuts all over his face, chest, and arms. It told a story. Even after Native should have gone down, the Hero stayed up and awake. And Stain kept cutting him, trying to force him down. Native hadn't given up until his HP was deep in the negatives, and his Stamina was drained.

I had to pinch together Native's veins and bones, even as I flooded his chest with healing energy. I hadn't noticed, that time in Mordred's Dungeon, but Ki Healing didn't work as well on someone with the Dying status. That skill effectively overcharged a person's healing with my Ki. And someone who was dying... They effectively weren't healing. Or their body was trying to heal, but the damage had overwhelmed it. So I was afraid I wouldn't have enough Energy, to get Native back to zero or above. I reached down to a pouch on my belt. I pantomimed opening it, to hide that I was pulling a stamina potion from my inventory. I drank it quickly. But I still wasn't sure if it would be enough.

I still had my healing potion from the Earphone's dungeon. I wanted to save it for one of the Knights, or Nezu. Someone who already knew about the Gamer. Or for Eri. But if I had to, I would use it on Native. I would deal with the consequences after.

But I was still distracted. Mordred grunted in pain or annoyance. I brought up the Party window, and saw her HP had dropped a bit.

She was good. I had seen her fight in class, in the Dungeons. And she had gotten noticeably better the last two days. Say what you will about Torino-sensei and his training methods, they were effective. And Mordred should have had the simple numbers advantage. She had three floating swords, plus her heavy gauntlets. Her costume's armor had been upgraded after the USJ attack, and gauntlets covering her hands and wrists should have been able to block Stain's swords. Unless his Quirk somehow enhanced the blades.

But this was Stain. He had killed eleven Pro Heroes, and permanently disabled another eight. That wasn't counting Ingenium or any of the unconfirmed attacks that were believed to be the Hero Killer. Ingenium was a speedster and number 43 in the Japanese Hero rankings. And Stain was able to defeat him without Iida-san determining what Stain's Quirk might be. Stain's victims ran the gamut; melee to long range, fast to strong to tough. The only type the killer hadn't attacked was telepathic or presentient type Heroes. At least that I was aware of.

On top of that, Mordred was still suffering the overconfident condition. The fact that he seemed to be a sword fighter, and had two blades to her three, probably only egged her on.

I needed to stabilize Native as quickly as I could, so I could help my friend.


The three floating swords came out of the shadow, but Stain blocked them with ease. The number tickled something in the killer's memory, but for the moment he was too busy defending himself. But only for a moment. Then he pushed back. He threw the knife in his left hand at the feminine figure that seemed to be controlling the flying blades. In a single smooth continuation of the move, he drew another of the combat knives littering his body and blocked the kukri aiming for his throat.

Stain hated to put more distance from the dying fake, and let the boy potentially undo his good work. But he needed to draw the second interloper in. He needed a better view of the floating swords to fight them. And also to draw the girl out of the shadows at the mouth of the alley. Stain wanted to get a better look at her. She had blocked the thrown knife with her forearm, suggesting some sort of armor, as did the silhouette of her shoulders.

Stain realized two things in the next exchange of blows. He wasn't going to get out of the girl's range without retreating. But she had a different weakness. She was guarding the boy and the fake. So he drew her blades out and to the side.

In quick succession Stain smashed down on her blades as hard as he could. Turned and threw one of his combat daggers and the smaller throwing knife on his shoulder. He aimed them weakly and randomly towards the boy and the fake. Stain completed his rotation and unleashed another dagger at the girl. Drew his last combat dagger. Plotted how to recover the first blade he threw, the closest.

The floating katana and kukri he deflected, but the heavier blade seemed to resist. It shot away and intercepted the two blades before they hit the annoying healer. But in the process, he finally got a good look at the broadsword.

"That sword," he sounded surprised, "That's Clarent, isn't it. I remember when he was working on it... That would make you Modura-chan."

The girl stepped forward. His knife was imbedded in her breastplate, shallowly, but enough that a thread of blood appeared on her bodysuit under the bottom of her armor. Her hair and eyes confirmed his guess.

"How do you know me?" she demanded, "Know my sword?"

"I was a friend of EMIYA," Stain told her, almost gently, "Of your dad. I knew you seemed familiar. You and your Quirk. You are the spitting image of Saber."

"Liar!" Modura declared angrily.

Stain bristled. She was just like the other fakes. So quick to judge. To believe in her own righteousness. He started to rant at her, but she continued before he could.

"No friend of my dad would ever leave a sword in that poor state," she pointed. Clarent flew deliberately into his ragged katana.


"What are you doing, Stendhal?" the tall, red-haired man asked, tapping the powdered ball against the blade of the gladius.

"What do you mean, Shirou-kun?" the black-haired man countered. Then Knuckleduster glared at him, and Chizome rolled his eyes, "What do you mean, EMIYA?"

The vigilante emphasized the semi-pro Hero's codename. Such as it was.

"Why are you putting your sword away, without maintaining it?" Emiya explained.

"Isn't that backwards?" Chizome chuckled, "Why are you wasting all your time fixing up those swords? Your Quirk lets you make and maintain them faster and easier. So what's with all the antique techniques?"

Shirou picked up a piece of newspaper. It folded itself into an oversized kitchen knife. Shirou spun his wrist once, and sliced through a chicken bone like it was warm konbu and the blade was made of razor sharp surgical steel. Then he released the effect of Unlimited Blade Works. The paper kept its new shape, but flopped over.

"Most of the swords I make with Unlimited Blade Works are disposable," Shirou agreed, "Once free of its influence, blades of sand crumble and blades of paper are as flimsy as they were before. But when I make a proper sword, I am not just using my Quirk, but my knowledge of smithing as well."

He took the katana out of Chizome's hand. The chips in the blade instantly smoothed. But Shirou didn't return the weapon. Instead he frowned at it sadly. EMIYA disassembled the katana with the practiced skill of a soldier field stripping a gun. He set the guard and handle parts aside. The steel straightened, and the narrower hilt widened and the pin holes filled in. The bar of metal then lengthened and folded itself, welding together without heat. Then a second fold, and a third. Finally Unlimited Blade Works tempered it, giving it the curve and hamon line without needing a forge, clay, and oil. Shirou replaced the habaki and tsuba. He reassembled the grip, every piece as smoothly and tightly fitting as it had been before.

"But real swords are works of art as well as weapons," he explained, returning Stendhal's katana, "I would say they even have a soul, a small fragment of the maker's spirit merged into the blade. So of course I care for them respectfully."

Chizome looked at the katana again. Other than the repairs, it didn't look different. Yet somehow, it felt different. Better.

"Huh," he grunted.


Stain looked at his katana, almost as if seeing it for the first time in years. And he couldn't refute the girl's words. He had disrespected his friend, and if EMIYA were here, he would have given Stain a verbal dressing down. Actually, he probably would have tried to defeat Stain, to take him in. Because like All Might, and in some ways more, EMIYA stood for what a true Hero was in Stain's eyes.

It wasn't accurate to say the Emiya Shirou's death was the reason Stain had gone from Vigilante to Hero-killing Villain. He had worked on the dark side even before that. But it was one of the major tipping points that pushed him over the edge.

"So you are going to be a Hero, Modura?" Stain asked.

"I'll be a Hero, because that is what is required," she said thoughtfully. She might have been overconfident and unaware of it. But that didn't make her foolish or unmilling to take advantage of her opponent's known predilection.

"So I don't get me family or master in trouble. But I'm not trying to be some famous icon. I just want to protect people. That's my duty as a knight."

She wasn't lying, not exactly. But she had carefully worded her statement to try to lead Stain to a specific and not entirely true conclusion.

Something she learned from watching then becoming close to Izuku.

"Well," Stain smirked, "It looks like the next generation might not be as bad off as I feared. But you can't beat me, and I won't let you stop me. So why don't just take the green kid and leave, and let me clean up these damned fakers?"


"Hey, Dad?" nine year old Mordred Pendragon looked up at the person she admired most. Shirou looked up from the red lacquer he was inlaying in the blade with both brush and Quirk.

"What is it, Mo-chan?"

"I was just thinking," she said shyly, "If you can make all these cool, real swords, why do you only carry two with you? Why make all those fakes, when you could just have some extra really real swords first, and take like five or six of them with you."

"Well," Shirou smiled gently, "For one thing, unlike you and your Father, I actually have to carry them with me. And swords can get a bit heavy, especially if I were to carry five or six of them. Besides, my swords are like me. I'm a faker at heart. There is no rule that says a fake can't surpass the original, right?"


"I don't know how you know my name, or Father's," Mordred growled, "But if that is what you think, you obviously didn't know my Dad."

With that, her three blades all slashed out at Stain.

"He didn't care about what society called you," she screamed, beating down with her weapons and stalking closer.

"Hero? Vigilante? Police? Civilian?" she ranted, "He'd even work with criminals if it meant saving people! He was only a Pro Hero to protect the people around him. He would work with anyone, 'real' or 'fake', just so long as they tried!"

"Right," Stain barked back, "But what if they... didn't... EVEN... TRY!"

CLANG!

The saw teeth on the back of his survival knife caught the edge of her kukri, and then he slammed the butt of his katana across the curved dagger's flat. It shattered into three large pieces and dozens or hundreds of smaller fragments.

Mordred's eyes widened in shock and then regret. But Stain didn't hesitate. He poured it on, showing her the difference in their skills, now that their blade counts were even. The blonde tried to respond by breaking Stain's katana. But the EMIYA reforged blade had maintained its flexible and perfectly tempered spine. A few chips came off the edge, but the sword held true.

After only a handful of seconds, the Hero Killer had closed the distance. And then he kicked her in the stomach. Mordred's breastplate covered the top half of her torso. The bottom was covered by her bodysuit, a weave of high tech materials that was thin and light while being resistant to cutting, piercing, and flames. It would stop most bullets, though not without bruises. But it was less effective against blunt attacks. While Mordred could take a blow, especially after her Dungeon sessions, Stain knew how to deliver a blow. So while it didn't drop her HP very much, the student was unwillingly forced to hunch forward and cough harshly.

In that moment, Stain sheathed the dagger he was holding. Grabbed the one still lodged in her armor. Ripped it free, widening the shallow wound. Brought the knife up to his mouth. And licked her blood off the blade.

Mordred gave him a look of disgust. Then all strength flooded from her body and she collapsed to the dirty pavement.

"I'm not going to kill you," he told her condescendingly, "Even if I didn't owe it to Shirou, you have potential. Stay down."


I heard the exchange. But more importantly, in the party window, next to Overconfidence, a new status appeared next to Mordred's name. Paralysis.

I stopped healing Native. He was still in the negatives. He would survive for at least two hours with his HP slowly ticking down, back to where it was when I arrived. Or he would be dead in less than a minute if I let Stain reach him.

I stood, and turned to face the Hero Killer.

"I appreciate you spirit kid," he told me, "But I am going to finish what I started here. Leave, and I won't have to go through you to do it."

[Quest Alert
Fact Or Fake
Survive Stain. Escape or wait for help. Do not allow Mordred Pendragon or James Cross-Winds to be be killed. You don't have to win, just stay alive.
Rewards:
Guild Bank Deposit (200,000,000¥)
Level Up x 2
Bonus Talent: ? ?
(reward hidden while ? Tab is locked)
Failure Penalties:
Nothing beyond the natural results of allowing Stain to kill again and escape.
(Accept) (Decline)]

'That wasn't necessary,' I thought. And hit accept.

"No w-way," I told the Villain, stammering slightly, "No hero would run away and let you kill someone."

"Too bad, but not a surprise." With that, he slid forward, blades descending on me.


Status Changes for Midoriya Izuku:
Health: 1006 → 1030
Energy: 1749 → 1774

Attributes:
(E)ndurance: 66 → 67
(W)it: 62 → 63
(I)ntuition: 64 → 65
(D)etermination: 73 → 74

Skills:
Analyze (W) – Battle Scan: 66 → 67
Ki Detection (D/I): 49 → 50
Ki Healing (D/E) LB: 38 → 40
First Aid (W/A): 12 → 14
Tactile TK (I/D): 43 → 45
Ki Diagnosis (D/W): 33 → 34
Telepathy (I/C) LB: 20 → 21
Sense Hostility (I/C) - Hostile Aura: 46 → 48
High Speed Vision (W/Q) 31 → 32
Berserk Resistance (D/W): 3 → 4
Confusion Resistance (D/W): 3 → 4