Chapter 17: Circus
A/N: And we arrive at the gates of the U.A. Sports Festival! The festival will be a multi-chapter arc, for those wondering.
Also, I will state again that I have a poll set up. It's been going along quite smoothly, but I think that I'll leave up for another week to pick up any straggling voters.
Anywho, to the action!
The next two weeks were a mix of experiences to Izuku. The day after that whole crowd had gathered outside of 1-A, All Might had found Izuku out in the halls and apologised for not being able to confront him sooner. All Might then went on to praise Izuku for his actions at U.S.J., but did so while also scolding him for being so brash and reckless against the villains.
Izuku appreciated the thought, especially the fact that All Might was treating him as he usually did. All Might didn't shiver, didn't give any cold glares, and didn't avoid him as best as he could. Instead, he had purposely sought out Izuku with his own will. Though, whether that was due to All Might being used to Izuku's quirk via his previous encounters with the boy, or just his general forgiving attitude towards things was anyone's guess.
The curt meeting was left off with All Might telling Izuku not to over exert himself, and another apology for not being there for 1-A when the villains initially attacked. Izuku responded in kind by telling All Might that it wasn't his fault, reminding him that he had run out of time for [One for All] that day. All Might did a double take at that, a look of confusion appearing on his face, which slowly morphed into realization.
As per usual, All Might laughed it off with his signature smile, and bidded Izuku a good day. Izuku looked on, somewhat baffled at All Might's reaction.
Had be forgotten that day on the roof?
Izuku supposed that it didn't manner in the end. Not at all.
Both of them had left that discussion in good regard anyhow. And both had left in somewhat higher spirits than they were in before.
Classroom antics of 1-A were mostly back to normal, albeit with the still present - however unnoticeable it was - tension towards Izuku. While people like Ashido had reverted back to her bubbly self around Izuku, or someone like Sato had spent his own time baking Izuku a cake, there were still those who were still apprehensive with his presence.
Sero had somewhat come out of his shell, making curt comments to Izuku when needed, but that was where the progress ended. Izuku could somewhat tell that the swarm at U.S.J. was still a sore spot for Hagakure, given her still reserved nature around him.
Kaminari was the worst of the bunch, avoiding Izuku's gaze and doing all he could to avoid conversation with him. It was noticeable enough that even Aizawa had scolded Kaminari for it during one assignment that required the whole class to participate and interact with one another.
But Izuku didn't let such things bother him. Like Yaoyorozu had said, he just needed to give time for his disgruntled to get over the fact that he amassed swarms of bugs with his quirk. In the meantime, Izuku found himself having to work his usual schedule around to fit his newfound responsibilities as Class Representative. This, unfortunately, also came with the problem of finding time to train for the upcoming Sports Festival.
Thus, Izuku went to arrange his schedule differently for the time being. With most of the remnant Yakuza in Musutafu having gone underground, Izuku decided that he could cut down on his efforts to walk around the city to report crime.
He spent a little less time helping Mei with her inventions - such as her Hover Soles that she was fine tuning for the festival - much to her chagrin. However, the promise that it was only temporary until after the Sports Festival let Izuku get away with the idea (even if the end result required more guinea pig time with her).
And so, after two weeks of juggling around his time with schoolwork, training with Kawabata-sensei in his dojo, and inventing with Mei, Izuku found himself trained to his current best. And before he knew it, the sports festival was just around the corner.
A lot more people had come to the Sports Festival than Izuku had expected. Granted, he should have expected such a high headcount given the notoriety of the Sports Festival. The event was known throughout the country, being broadcasted to every television in Japan. He supposed that he had somewhat underestimated how much the populace had cared for the event.
Around him, his fellow classmates were in varying degrees of anxiety and/or determinedness.
Some, like Ashido — or Uraraka who was trailing along — were amping themselves up by doing stretches and spewing out encouraging chants to the others.
Others were a bit more reserved, like the despondent Todoroki or the off-to-the-side Shoji and Tokoyami.
Izuku himself wasn't exactly doing all too much in the waiting room at the moment, instead honing his connection to all the bugs in his three block sphere of influence.
Then again, people probably didn't want to disturb him due to the increase of bugs in his immediate vicinity, especially those who were still a bit jumpy in his presence.
Since everyone else was still engaging in their own little rituals before the event, whether calming their own nerves down or finding their concentration, Izuku decided start another activity of his own. Multitasking was still a thing, after all.
Izuku decided to entertain himself with his bugs, going out to survey the masses with his trusty army of millions. The Sports Festival really held up to its name, given the variety of people that had gathered to watch the event. Prominent business tycoons, famous celebrities, budding politicians, and the like.
One particular discovery had Izuku taking in a double take at what he saw. The eyes of his flies were met with the unfortunate presence of Renjiro Isoshi. Somehow, even in the light of such a spectacular event, the man had maintained his grumpy-looking face that Izuku had known him for. If Izuku were to take a guess, the principal was probably here to cheer on his prized pupil — Katsuki Bakugo, of course — so he could gloat to his colleagues about how he'd brought up such an exemplary student at his school.
After all, despite the fact that he had called both Izuku and Bakugo to his office to celebrate their U.A. acceptances, he had spent the entire time focused on Bakugo. The stern principal still had shown bias and shortsightedness when the facts were dangled in front of him.
The sight of the man should have really put a hamper in his mood, but another recent discovery took his attention instead. Just five rows down and fifteen seats across from Renjiro Isoshi sat a rather familiar mop of greying hair. Izuku really shouldn't have been surprised, all things considered. And so, Izuku sent some bugs in that direction, planning to form a bug clone so he could say hello.
Well, that is, until a certain purple-balled haired boy interrupted Izuku.
"Hey, Midoriya. You all ready for the Sports Festival?"
Izuku turned to look at the voice. "Hmm. I suppose that I am. How about you?"
"You betcha!" Mineta replied. "In fact, I have this little plan in mind for later. It involves cheerleaders and—"
"Mineta," came the stern voice of Izuku.
Mineta went to open his mouth again, but stopped himself at the last second. "Fine, fine. Oh alright. I'll just find somebody else to help me then."
As Mineta walked away, he prepared himself to form up his bugs again. However, yet another interruption came up before he could do just that.
"Bakugo. Iida. Midoriya. Tokoyami. Yaoyorozu," came the voice of Shoto Todoroki. The people he named looked over at his direction. This single moment was the most first he'd specifically sought anyone out, after all. Most he had ever talked, even.
"With the way things have been so far," Todoroki continued, "I see you five as the most powerful and resourceful in our class."
"Why, thank you To—" Iida went on, before being interrupted by Todoroki.
"But looking at things objectively, I think I'm stronger than any of you. And therefore, I am going to beat all of you."
"Ha! Yeah right, Half-n-Half. You better give a good fight! But don't count on Deku on doing so. He'll probably be beat in the first round!"
Todoroki didn't respond to that, walking away instead. Izulu, too, chose to ignore Bakugo's taunt. Izuku instead spoke out to the boy who had essentially declared war on his classmates.
"Todoroki." Said boy stopped in his tracks, looking over his shoulder.
"Good luck with that," Izuku spoke. "I'll be aiming to beat you too." Even if such a thing is unlikely to occur.
As before, Todoroki didn't respond. And Izuku was fine with that.
The announcement that signified the start of the Sports Festival rung not too long after that, and class 1-A joined the rest of the first years on their way to the field.
Present Mic's voice filled the stadium, setting up the mood for what was going to no doubt be a spectacular event. But Izuku didn't really care about that. He had other priorities than to listen to the entomophobic pro hero. Instead, he formed one of his bug clones up in the audience.
"Ah! Midoriya! I was wondering if you'd notice me," said Kage Kawabata.
A few people around Kawabata recoiled in surprise at the sudden appearance of a figure made entirely of bugs. A few even voiced their own comments upon seeing it.
"Wow! Is that quirk from one of the students down below?"
"What? Are you kidding? That's disgusting."
"Eww. That sends chills up my spine."
"He controls bugs? So cool!"
"Are we sure he ain't a villain?"
Izuku brushed off what he heard. "But of course, sensei. What kind of student would I be if I didn't recognise my teacher?"
"A shoddy one, that's for sure."
The bug clone laughed. But, it soon stopped, Izuku remembering something else."Again, I'm sorry that I haven't been able to go to the dojo as often as before."
Kawabata tsked. "Nonsense, Midoriya. You got a lot on your plate. Didn't you tell me that you became Class Rep for your class?"
"Well, yeah. But that doesn't excuse—"
"Midoriya, I don't mind if your school activities take up our time. You're still a teenager, after all. Besides, you've already grown far and wide beyond my expectations. You've been developing in your own ways for a long time now. And there isn't much an old man like me can teach you by this point."
And don't bother coming to the dojo this week. You've earned yourself a break with how far you've come."
"... Thank you, sensei. I'll see you later."
"Mhm. Just try not to hurt yourself as much as you did at U.S.J."
Izuku found himself back within the crowd of students, Bakugo up at the podium digging 1-A into a hole he had dug all those weeks ago.
Izuku straightened himself out, eyes focused forward. The first round was about to start.
The entirety of U.A.'s first year class was waiting just before the starting gate of the obstacle race. Many of the people present were muttering amongst themselves. It was perfect for Izuku and some of his friends to talk before the first round started.
"Are all of you ready for this?" Manga asked.
Pony nodded, somewhat withdrawn due to the suffocating presence of everyone around her. She was sticking close to Mei.
Izuku and Mei, on the other hand, responded in-sync with words of 'yes' in confirmation.
"I don't know. I haven't done something like this before. It's kinda nerve-racking, you know?" admitted Uraraka.
"Ha! You think this is nerve-racking?" said Manga. "You should try being Mei's guinea pig some time."
"What's that like?" asked Uraraka.
"You don't want to know," said Izuku.
"Oh, I don't know. I could use another test subject if she's interested," said Mei.
"I, uh…" She looked at the rapidly shaking head of Izuku. "Heh. Probably not."
Mei harrumphed. "Suit yourself. You don't know what you're missing."
"You really, really don't want to know," said Manga."
As his friends talked among themselves, Izuku set to task of placing a single insect on anyone around him that could be considered a potential threat. This included people like Bakugo and Todoroki, or 1-B students like Honenuki or Shiozaki due to their insanely potent quirks. Others like Mei were also included since Izuku knew how dangerous she could be when she had a whole bunch of her gadgets on her person.
Izuku then looked forward, past the starting gate, studying the cramped, concrete corridor ahead of him. "It's going to be a free-for all when that gate lights up, just so you know. And by the looks of that corridor, the first test will be right after the gate."
"What do you mean?" asked Uraraka.
Izuku smirked, covering himself in a veil of his bugs that covered his entire body. "You'll see."
Manga shivered a bit. "Dang it, man! Give us a little warning before you do that!"
"Somehow, I don't think you are," mused Manga.
Izuku merely shrugged his shoulders in indifference.
The lights on the gate began to fade, three lights falling to two, two lights fading into one, until—
The stampede of students immediately filled up the hallway. The giant fumbling mass of people clumped together, pushing and shoving one another in a desperate act to get to the front. Izuku however, was getting through the crowd a little more easily than others. The giant swarm of insects surrounding his body seemed to be quite effective at warding off his contenders. Most of the students avoided him like a plague, sliding around his form and pushing others to stray further away from him.
Huh, avoiding me like the plague. Technically, they aren't too far off when you consider all the viruses that these bugs carry inside of th—
One of his bugs suddenly became victim to a sudden flash freezing, a little up ahead from where Izuku was. He noted that the bug was the one on Todoroki, which proba—
Izuku searched with his bugs, and surprisingly found Mei just behind him, using his swarm as a deterrent to other students. She was trailing right behind him, falling close behind with little care for the bugs. She advanced in his shadow in a way that most wouldn't be so comfortable with, a factor Izuku found possible since Mei had gotten used to his bugs long ago. Smart move.
Izuku abruptly turned, uncovering himself of his bugs — sending them out of the tunnel — and grabbed for a surprised Mei. He needed her here at the moment if he didn't want to get holed up in this suffocating hallway as a snowman. "Hover soles! Launch up!" he yelled.
"Just do it!"
Izuku hugged Mei body, ensuring that he would launch up as she did.
The boots weren't designed for sustained flight, but rather acted as a form of levitation. That didn't mean that there wasn't any power behind the thrusters, however, since another feature allowed for an enhanced jump height if used correctly. It was that capability that Izuku was counting on.
A giant wave of ice and cold filled the hallway, trapping many of the students who weren't able to react fast enough. But the few seconds of upward movement spared Izuku and Mei from the freeze. As soon as the duo touched upon the ground, Izuku let go of Mei and sped forward. "Thanks Mei!"
Mei followed her friend after a second or so of confusion, shutting the engines on her Hover Soles off to conserve their power. Pony and Uraraka, on the other hand, were waiting on Manga's heating words to thaw them out of the ice.
Zooming ahead, Izuku took notice of the upcoming robots with a couple bugs he sent on ahead of his stead. Those too met the icy wrath of Todoroki as an entire Zero-Pointer became encased in Todoroki's quirk. The heterochromatic boy continued on with ease.
Izuku had to adapt to a different approach, lacking any efficient ways to take down the robots without his equipment. Bare fisted attacks would leave him with battered and broken, while chewing through the robots' wires would take too much time. As such, Izuku adapted an evasion-based tactic, using his superior speed and smaller form to dodge the bulky robotic obstacles.
It was immensely easy to predict their movements, the hulking masses shifting around so much air and weight that his insects had plenty of time to warn Izuku of any potential danger. It wasn't long before he strode past the robotic danger zone and was met with the next obstacle.
The giant earthen terrain consisted of an immense drop, so far down that you couldn't see the bottom. Giant pillars of rock strutted around the landscape, various wires spread out between them, connecting them together like some sort of spider's web.
A little upways ahead, he could spot Todoroki icing the wires and riding over them. Off the top of his head, Izuku held no immediate shortcuts to traverse such an obstacle like Todoroki had done so. So, he did the best thing that he could: he went along with it. And so, Izuku made his slow crawl along the underside of the wires.
Bakugo flew over not long after Izuku began his crawl across the first wire. The explosion-oriented boy had caught up with Todoroki, even, the two making an obvious bid for first place. If Izuku were to guess, the boy was probably only took until now to catch up because he got caught up destroying robots.
Suddenly, another shadow passed right over his head. "Bye Izuku!" exclaimed Mei as she passed over Izuku, utilizing a combined use of her Wire Arrow and her Hover Soles. Izuku himself was barely halfway past the third wire, having maybe two or so more to go. Others like Shoji was taking immense leaps to glide across the outcroppings of earth, and Iida using his engines to perform a rudimentary balancing act. Eventually, Izuku made his way across, and sped his way to meet up with the others ahead of him.
He stopped, however, when he stumbled upon the last obstacle. It seemed to be a minefield, complete with mines that emitted a pink, launching gust of force on those who stepped on them if the person that flew past him was any indication. Izuku scouted ahead with his bugs.
All the way up in the front, Todoroki and Bakugo were butting heads. Both had devolved to the simple exercise of running; Todoroki's quirk was too destructive and would set off the mines, and Bakugo couldn't keep up his explosion-propelled flight forever.
1-B's aces weren't too far behind; Shiozaki was utilizing her vines to upend the mines and find her way around them, while Honenuki liquified the ground as he advanced, rendering the mines useless.
I could try tiptoeing my way around the mines. The indentions in the ground aren't too difficult to see, but one wrong one or misdirected look could send me sprawling all the way bac— That's it!
Izuku took a single bug a slowly placed lowered it onto one of the indentions on the ground. As the bug landed, no change of force was indicated, and the mine hadn't gone off. Ha-ha! It works!
Izuku went surrounding setting bugs on all the indentions ahead of him in a straight line, utilizing an aerial view to ensure he didn't miss one single mine. Iida had passed him while he was doing this, as did Tokoyami, but he paid no heed to their advancements. By the time Izuku was done, all the mines immediately in his planned trajectory were accounted for and completely covered, his connections to his bugs strong as ever.
With that, Izuku sprung forward, deftly moving his feet in all the spots absent of his swarm. With his connection to his bugs, he didn't even need to physically look at gis bugs. Izuku could easily pinpoint his path ahead of him, avoiding any of the mines that would risk his placement just by sensing for his bugs' positions. Of course, he lifted off the bugs behind him as he went — didn't want to give anyone else the upper hand, after all.
The round culminated for Izuku as he passed the finish gate, panting anxiously. He looked at the scoreboard; he'd made i—
Wait a minute… Todoroki, Bakugo, Shiozaki, Honenuki, Iida, Tokoyami… That leaves me in… 7th place! Again!?
Alright! Who the heck is rigging my scores?!
A/N: And we finish with the Obstacle Race. Next up, Cavalry Battle!
And remember: there's a poll to be voted on!
'Till next time in [Chapter 18: Chariot]!