As voted on by my patrons, the newest monthly story 'One to Find All'!
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Beta-ed by xenosaiyan
Like most great stories, it all started when a boy fell from the sky. At least, that's how most of Yang's stories started, usually because she'd punched the boy into the sky in the first place. Did that make the punching the start?
In that case, Ruby thought the start of the story was when she'd been reading the weapons magazines in the back of From Dust 'till Dawn. Then that guy in the suit and sunglasses had tapped her on the shoulder, said he was robbing her, and then she'd kicked him through the window because, duh, that was what you did with bad guys. Though she was pretty sure dad was going to take the cost of fixing the window out of her cookie allowance.
Then it turned out that there was actually a whole bunch of guys in suits and sunglasses at the front of the store pointing guns at the nice old shopkeeper! Oh, and some redheaded guy with weird eyeshadow, a hooked cane, and a cool hat… wait, wasn't there a guy like that in dad's monthly bounty notices that he told her not to look through? Greek Lampstick? Persian Candle? Roman… yes! Roman Torchwick!
Oh gods, she was stopping Roman Torchwick from robbing someone.
Best day ever! Yang was going to be so jealous!
"Okay…" Torchwick muttered. He looked at his minions, who were all gaping at the awesomeness that was Crescent Rose. "Well? Get her!"
The suit and sunglasses goons quickly obeyed their boss and rushed her, each one carrying a huge red sword.
Ruby's eyes narrowed at their approach, but on the inside she was ecstatic. Her first goon fight! Yang never let her join in whenever she had them at clubs, but now it was finally her turn to take down a bunch of bad guys single-handed!
No, focus Ruby! This was serious. Uncle Qrow always said to never take any opponent lightly, whether they were human or Grimm. For all she knew, one of these guys could have some super powerful semblance, like that teleporting short person all the bounty notices had said Torchwick always had around him. For all she knew, she could be in for the fight of her life!
She activated her semblance and sped around the goons, clouds of rose petals flying in her wake. Her scythe lashed out at their knees, their throats, their faces, all the places Uncle Qrow had taught her to aim when she was fighting for her life.
Five seconds later, all the suit and sunglasses-wearing men were laid out of the ground.
Huh. That was it? Lame.
Apparently, Torchwick agreed, sighing at the laid-out forms of his men. "You were worth every cent, truly you were."
The criminal dropped his cigar to the ground and squashed it with his cane. "Well, Red, I think we can both agree it's been an eventful evening—"
That was when everything changed. A flash of blinding white light exploded just above and in front of Ruby, both her and Torchwick forced to cover their eyes from the sudden flare. When the light faded, something, or rather someone, had suddenly appeared in midair.
A boy with a shaggy head of green hair, wearing a jumpsuit of the same color. There was some sort of breath mask on his collar while bracers supported both his arms and legs. His feet were covered by crimson steel-toed boots, the same kind an experienced huntsman would wear if they specialized in fighting with their lower body, like a Yang that used their legs.
The guy numbly blinked a few times before his eyes widened at the lack of ground below him. "Ah!"
His limbs flailed and some kind of emerald lightning began to spark off his body, but he still proceeded to plummet to the ground, his foot kicking Ruby in the face as he landed face first onto the street.
Ruby couldn't tell which of them said it first, that kick had smarted even through her aura, but her scythe was already back in ready position while the guy was still pretending to moan on the ground. Nobody who had a semblance that could make them appear out of thin air could possibly be so discombobulated by its use. Especially not someone with this person's reputation.
Oh yes, the huntress knew who this was. Roman Torchwick's bloodthirsty lackey, the ghost of the Vale Underworld, the infamous teleporting short person of the bounty notice who the police had never been able to get more than a name for.
Laying before Ruby was the infamous Neopolitan!
She had to be careful. The boy in front of her was so dangerous that the police had never even gotten a good look at him. If she let him get on his feet, she didn't know if she could take him and based on all the people he'd killed, the poor shopkeeper could be his next victim. She needed to use Uncle Qrow's ultra-secret strategy!
Slash it till it dies!
"Hiya!" Ruby yelled, Crescent Rose coming down in at the criminal's chest.
The green-haired boy wobbled around to her, his eyes widening at her descending scythe. The green lightning surrounded him once again as he dove to the side to avoid the swing, scrabbling to his feet to avoid Ruby's follow-ups.
"Wait! Wait!" he shouted. "Stop!"
"Silence, villain!" Ruby proclaimed, keeping up her assault. Neopolitan was trying to distract her by talking, but it wouldn't work. She knew that the crafty criminal was trying to get her guard down, but Ruby knew better than to give him that opening. "You can't trick me!"
"Villain?!" the boy screeched, his hands frantically waving in front of him as he desperately dodged Ruby's swift strikes. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I'm not a villain!"
"Exactly what a villain would say! You can't fool me, Neopolitan!"
"Neo? You think he's—psh," Torchwick said from the side. The crimelord suddenly burst out laughing, having to lean over his cane just to stay upright. "Hahahahaha! Oh, Red, that just made this night so worth it. She is gonna get a kick out of this."
"She?" Ruby squeaked, pausing her weapon mid-strike. She looked again at the green-haired boy, her mind no longer filled with Uncle Qrow infused paranoia. His hand was held out defensively before his body while his face was lit with panic, definitely not the typical behavior from a villain, even one trying to fake innocence. "You're… not Neopolitan?"
The boy chuckled awkwardly, giving her a little wave. "Izuku Midoriya. Nice to meet you."
Ruby's cheeks suddenly burned red with shame. What had she done? She'd attacked an innocent civilian. Sure, he'd appeared out of nowhere but that was no excuse to stick a scythe in his face. Urgh! How was she ever going to become a huntress—
"Look out!" Izuku Midoraya shouted. Once more green lightning wreathed his body, the boy leaping forward and tackling Ruby to the other side of the street. Where they'd been standing a moment before, a fire dust bullet from Torchwick's cane exploded and tore the road to shreds.
"Woah, thanks," Ruby said. She could have easily dodged that shot if she'd seen it coming, but blindsided as she'd been, it would have blown her to bits if this guy hadn't intervened. "I'm really sorry about trying to slash you and all."
"N-n- No problem," Izuku muttered, his hands on top of Ruby's upper arms near her chest. His cheeks were also really red for some reason. "I'm touching a girl..."
Ruby cocked an eyebrow. Why was this guy freaking out? She could understand being angry at her, he certainly had every right to be, but he was acting like he had something to be embarrassed about. He had just saved her life for gods' sake! If he hadn't been there, Torchwick would have—
"Torchwick!" Ruby screamed, throwing the mumbling Izuku off her and leaping to her feet. She scanned the surrounding area, spotting the thief climbing a nearby fire escape with a case of dust in his arms. "He's getting away!"
"Getting away?" Izuku glanced between the broken shop window and the shopkeeper who had made his way to the door. His eyes narrowed, locking onto the fleeing criminal. "Is he a villain?"
"Totally," Ruby nodded. In hindsight, with the way he was moving when she attacked him and that lightning that was coming off him, he was obviously a huntsman in training like her. She looked to the shopkeeper. "Are you okay if we go after him?"
The old man nodded.
Ruby turned back to the rooftop, but then immediately glanced to Izuku. "Are you okay with coming with me?"
Izuku's brow furrowed. For just a moment, it looked like he might decline, stay back. Technically, neither of them were licensed huntsmen. They weren't supposed to chase the bad guys after they'd driven them off. Honestly, they probably should have stayed back until the police and actual huntsmen showed up.
But Torchwick would have gotten away by then! And then he'd go on to hurt other people just like he'd hurt the shopkeeper. They had a chance to stop him and they had to try. If Ruby had to do it alone, then she would.
Fortunately, Izuku's gaze hardened a moment later, his hands curling into fists. "Interfering when you don't need to is the essence of being a hero. Let's go. One for All: Full Cowling!"
Green electricity erupted from his body and the boy leapt into the air. Ruby grinned and followed behind, quickly overtaking her new ally with her semblance. She wasn't sure what his own semblance let him do beyond that cool lightning, but it certainly wasn't speed. He wasn't going any faster than any other person she'd seen with aura. Maybe it was whatever had caused him to appear out of nowhere?
Well, whatever it was, they were going to take Torchwick down. There was no way he was getting away from the combined team of Ruby Rose and Izuku Midoriya!
Ozpin calmly took a sip from his coffee mug, the door to Ms. Rose's interrogation room closing softly behind him. Taiyang would be there soon to pick up his daughter, and he dared say the young girl would not mind waiting in the dark room a bit longer with how ecstatic she was at his offer.
Glynda, whose scowl he could feel even without turning to face her, was far less so. "This is not a good idea."
"You're not blaming our young friend for Torchwick's escape now, are you?"
"Of course not. That scoundrel has evaded entire teams of huntsmen before," his deputy said. "Frankly those two children are lucky to be alive. Can you imagine what could have happened to them if that little friend of his had been with him tonight?"
Ozpin frowned. If Neopolitan had accompanied her partner on his most recent escapade, he had no doubt he'd have had to make a very different call to Taiyang. One informing him his youngest daughter was in the hospital or worse, the morgue.
"A fair point," he conceded, the two huntsmen walking side by side down the hall of the police station. "But a point in favor of my offer. With Ms. Rose in Beacon, we can not only hone her skills, but also ensure she does not take on any endeavors she is not yet ready for."
"Really?" Glynda inquired, an eyebrow raised. "And this has nothing to do with Amber's condition?"
"Please, Glynda. I may hope that Ms. Rose joins our cause one day, but I'm not about to throw a fifteen-year-old up against an assassin capable of defeating a maiden, silver eyes or not," Ozpin countered. "You and I shall handle Amber's protection."
"Of course. But bringing her to Beacon two years early does bring that potential 'day' ever closer."
Ozpin shrugged. "The Queen has devised a method to split a maiden's power. She is getting more and more devious in her methods. Who knows what strategies she has in motion even as we speak?"
"I understand," Glynda sighed. "I didn't mean to question you."
"You did, and that's good," Ozpin smirked. "I've made many mistakes, Glynda. I am grateful that you are here to keep me from making a few more."
His second returned his smile. "I do try."
The pair stopped in front of another interrogation room, the one-way mirror window in the doorway revealing the green-haired boy nervously fidgeting at the table within.
"Now then," Ozpin said. "What is it you find so interesting about this boy? I know he assisted Ms. Rose, and that is certainly commendable, but I'm afraid I had to skim most of the report. Why should we not just have the police contact his parents and send him on his way?"
"Because he has none."
Ozpin frowned. "I see."
It was a sad, but unrelenting fact of their world. The Grimm were an ever-present threat, and anywhere outside the major settlements shielded by natural boundaries, a near implacable one. Children orphaned by The Queen's scourge were hardly uncommon, with the path of the huntsmen appealing to many either out of revenge or a desire to ensure no one else had to go through their pain. He'd consoled many of both through Beacon.
"Well, he must have some guardian. That equipment suggests he has some support, we just need to—"
"No, sir, you don't understand," Glynda interjected. "He has no guardian on record, but that's because he is not in the record."
Ozpin quirked an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"He says his name is Izuku Midoriya. But not only does that not fit traditional color theme, but there is also no record of it in any database on the CCT. I ran his picture and got the same results," Glynda explained. "Not only that, but on the rooftop, he displayed physical abilities on par with Ms. Rose, including some sort of green energy that flowed over him."
Ozpin tilted his head. "I can see how the first part could be concerning, but not the second. Nothing you just described is out of the realm of possibility for someone with aura."
"That's what I thought initially as well. Except these are his current readings." Glynda raised her tablet, the device displaying a typical chart used for tracking a person's aura level in combat. A chart that was completely blank.
Ozpin's eyes widened. If the boy's aura wasn't even unlocked, then displaying the abilities Glynda had seen from him should have been impossible. Unless, he was somehow alternatively enhanced. Mystically, perhaps. By a certain dark benefactor.
"Has he said anything else since he arrived?" he inquired. "Anything that might give us a clue?"
"Not much," Glynda informed him. "Beyond his name, he just said that he was looking for his friends. And that he was supposed to find someone to help him. Someone named Ozma. Does that name ring any bells to you?"
Ozpin's heart skipped a beat, his hand clenching tight around both his cane and mug. It was only his eternity of experience at faking his composure that kept him from gasping out loud.
This boy, he knew his name. His first name, from all those eons ago. There were only two people left on Remnant who knew of it, and he certainly hadn't told him. But… that name also brought up memories best left forgotten for the Queen, memories of a better time, of happiness and children loved and lost. She had no more desire to revisit that agonizing period than he did. She would not have told this Izuku Midoriya. What was there to gain from it anyway? Nothing that could be worth the pain, surely.
No, this boy was likely not a servant of The Queen. He could not dismiss the possibility, but he felt there was something else at work, something powerful. And he couldn't protect his world if he didn't know what that something was.
Fortunately, it seemed his only source of answers wanted to speak with him just as badly.
"Glynda, shut down the cameras inside here," Ozpin ordered. "Ensure no one enters this room, before I leave. Whatever Izuku Midoriya and I speak of, we must have complete control of who knows it."
Glynda blinked in shock for a moment, before nodding. James might have argued, Qrow would have snarked, and Leonardo would have politely inquired what had caused his pique of interest, but not Glynda. She might question him when she thought he was wrong, but she also understood when he needed her complete faith and graciously granted it to him every time. He was ever so fortunate to have her by his side in this life, protecting the world.
But in the name of that endeavor, Izuku Midoriya was someone he had to face alone. For if any hint of his past got out, if Salem's complete immortality became known to his circle, they would lose whatever false hope he had managed to instill in them. And then the Queen would run roughshod over the unprotected masses.
Whatever this boy was part of, whether he really was just looking for his friends or if some other larger game was being played, Ozpin had to know.
Izuku really wished he could stop his foot from tapping. It made him look nervous. But his legs had been fidgety ever since he'd started developing his Shoot Style and he was pretty sure his trademark mumbling would make him look even worse. As it was, it was taking all his concentration to keep from breaking out into observations, like how that girl with the red hood could be strong enough to wield her scythe so effortlessly because even if she was in superb shape the sheer size of the weapon would have made it too unwieldy for anyone to use, unless they had some kind of strength-enhancing quirk but there supposedly weren't any quirks on this world—
Okay, he really needed to stop, or he wouldn't be able to help mumbling.
And he supposed it wouldn't be too bad if he looked nervous, since he was probably more terrified than he'd ever been since he'd first asked All Might if he could become a hero. Being inside a police station was far more frightening when you were in an interrogation room instead of getting your statement taken in the main bullpen, especially when said police station was in another world and he was fairly certain the officers would get suspicious when he didn't have any records, or parents, or anyone he knew. He'd told them about Ozma, but it wasn't like he knew anything about him, or even if he'd be around to help. The God of Light had said they'd try to get him close, but given that they'd teleported him into a crime in progress, he wasn't sure how much stock he placed in the deities' abilities.
But he didn't have any other choice. Somewhere in this world, his friends were trapped, adrift without their memories. Kacchan, Uraraka, Todoroki, Kirishima, Yaoyorozu, Jiro, he wouldn't let them down.
The door to the room opened with a creak and pulled him out of his thoughts, his foot slamming into the floor as he used all his willpower to appear as sane as possible to the person coming in.
Said person was a tall, thin man with white hair in a dark green suit. He carried a cane in one hand and a mug of some steaming beverage in the other. His bespectacled eyes looked over Izuku with a kind, grandfatherly smile as if trying to put him at ease, but his mouth was tugged a little too tight for the young hero to think it was genuine. The man before him, whoever he was, was nervous. He must have seen the tapping foot.
"Izuku Midoriya, correct?" the man said.
"Um, yes, sir," the young hero replied nervously. "I… um… don't suppose you're Ozma, are you?"
The man's eyes narrowed. "Do you know who I am?"
"Uh, well… um…"
Izuku's mind whirled. Was he supposed to know the man? Was he some kind of prominent figure on this world? Would it be suspicious if he didn't know him? Was Ozma in some kind of protective custody and this person was his protector? Was he going to lock Izuku up for looking for him? Or would he only do that if Izuku did know who he was? Should he pretend to know him so as to not attract attention?
No. Izuku wasn't great at lying in the first place, but if he pretended to know, he'd just look even more suspicious when he was inevitably asked something he should have known but didn't. It wasn't without its problems, but honesty was still his best policy for the moment.
"I don't, sir," he sighed at last. "I'm new to this city. I only just arrived… recently."
The man cocked an eyebrow suspiciously. "I see. New to the city yet seeking Ozma."
Izuku's eyes widened. "You do know him!" he gasped. "Please, can you put me in contact with him? There is something I really need to speak with him about."
"Oh? About what I wonder," the man inquired carefully. "I can't see how your altercation with Mr. Torchwick tonight would necessitate his involvement."
Izuku cringed. It was only after the villain in the bowler hat, this Torchwick, had escaped in his aircraft and the scary woman who'd created those glowing glyphs had brought him and the red hooded girl to the police station that he'd thought to wonder if his attempts at heroism would be well received in this world. After all, even in Japan, if he'd done as he had without his provisional hero license, he would have been in trouble for public quirk usage and vigilantism, just like he, Iida, and Todoroki nearly were after their fight with Stain. Of course, the red-hooded girl had seemed to think it was a good idea, and she knew more about her own world than he did—wait!
"The girl who was brought in with me, the one with the red hood," Izuku said, shooting to his feet. "What's going to happen to her?"
"Ms. Rose?" For the first time since he'd entered the room, the suited man seemed surprised, his calm façade breaking outright as his eyes widened just a fraction. "She's quite alright. While her actions were far more eager than the police would generally prefer, they are hardly going to press charges for being a good Samaritan. Her family will be picking her up shortly."
Izuku sagged back in his seat, a small smile playing across his face. "That's a relief."
"Indeed," the man said, slightly less caged than before. "if I'm being completely honest, it is a state of affairs I sorely wish to replicate with you, Mr. Midoriya. However, you don't seem to have any guardian in our system. I don't suppose you could supply us with someone we can entrust you to? Your equipment does seem to indicate you have some support."
The aspiring hero cringed. Of course, he wouldn't be in the police's database. He wasn't from the same planet. And he could hardly give his mom's name since she wouldn't be in there either. He only had one contact, and he'd never even met the man. But it was the only card he had to play.
"Ozma," Izuku said, already hearing that his voice wasn't nearly sure enough to be convincing.
The man's eyes regained a bit of their edge. He set his mug down on the table between them and set both hands on the pommel of his cane. Izuku wasn't sure why, but he felt like the man had just grasped a sword instead of a walking stick.
"My name is Ozpin, Mr. Midoriya," he spoke softly, yet with the weight of stone. "And whether you know the significance of that name or not, we both know that you are not Ozma's ward."
Izuku instantly deflated even further. Whatever connection this Ozpin had to Ozma, he could hardly bluff any real connection to the man. Maybe if the green suited man was the wizard's associate, he might believe Izuku if he told him the truth? But if he didn't, if he thought the aspiring hero was insane or an elaborate liar, it could impede Izuku's quest to find his friends. Or worse, if he was in league with the witch, he might just attack him right here and use whatever influence he held in the city to get Izuku branded a criminal. He could hardly track down the others, much less help them remember, if they thought he was a dangerous villain. No matter what world or life they lived, none of them would ever trust him if they thought he was a criminal. And to save them, he needed them to trust him.
"There's something I really need to speak with Ozma about," Izuku pleaded. "And just him. Please, I'm begging you."
Ozpin took a deep breath. "Mr. Midoriya, you assisted the daughter of a good friend of mine tonight and showed concern for her even when your own situation is quite up in the air. That leaves me inclined to trust you. However, my decisions dictate the fate of people all across Remnant. I cannot put my faith in you on a mere inclination. If you are a friend to Ozma as you say, then I need you to tell me how you learned of him and why you are seeking him. Otherwise, I'm afraid there is nothing I can do to help."
Izuku gulped. "You wouldn't believe me. It… it sounds crazy. I still can't entirely believe it. Please, I need to talk to Ozma."
The green suited man's face softened, his brown eyes letting down some of their stalwart glare. "Ozma has shared more than a few tall tales with me. If your story contains similar… outlandish elements, I promise I will not judge you for them."
Yeah right. Ozpin may have been being truthful, he just wouldn't be able to comprehend what Izuku would tell him. Kacchan hadn't believed him the first time he'd said he'd gotten his quirk from someone else. Alternate universes, mystical soul reincarnation, gods of light and darkness, how could anyone, however well-meaning, believe a ridiculous story like that?
But… he needed to get to Ozma. He was the only lead Izuku had to find his friends. It was a long shot, but he had to tell him the truth, take a leap of faith.
"Alright," he said. "Not long ago, me and my classmates were studying late at night in our dorms…"
"Hey, Kacchan," Izuku demurely asked, coming around the corner of the dorms. "Do you know where the snacks are? They aren't where I put them this morning for the study group… Kacchan?"
The lack of response from his childhood… friend... companion… associate, and newly agreed upon rival was hardly unprecedented. Katsuki may have had a colorful vocabulary on the best of days, but ever since their duel and subsequent house arrest, he'd been far moodier than usual, only shooting off into tirades when anyone other than Izuku talked to him. It was certainly a sign of the progression in their relationship that he'd replied calmly to Midoriya's inquiries about what he could improve on from their battle. Maybe he was just too focused on his work to hear his current question?
Of course, that seemed unlikely when he was laid out on the carpet, along with Uraraka, Yaoyorozu, Jiro, Kirishima, and Todoroki with the rest of the students of Class 1-A crowded around them, except Iida, who was strangely absent.
Izuku's eyes widened. Bakugo was a lot of things, but a slacker was not one of them. He'd never lie down on the job, to say nothing less for the rest of his classmates.
"Guys!" He called out, rushing over to kneel to the sides of his classmates. "What happened?!"
"I don't know!" Kaminari blabbered. "They just suddenly keeled over after I screamed about how I'm going to fail the math portion of tomorrow's test, and then there was this flicker and oh my god did I do this?!"
Mina slapped Kaminari upside the head. "Shut up idiot. None of this is your fault. But, he's right Midoriya." Mina looked uncharacteristically confused, along with a healthy dose of frustration. "I can't explain it. It's like the world just, flickered, like an old TV changing channels. Before it happened they were upright and normal, and then after they all suddenly started falling down. They're still breathing but…"
Mina turned Bakugo onto his back, allowing Izuku the chance to glance over him from top to bottom. The explosive hero-in-training's fiery crimson eyes were completely glassed over, staring blankly at the ceiling above. His face normally so sharp and full of determination for even the most mundane tasks, was sagged and empty, arms falling limp at his sides. He glanced over at Uraraka, only to find her in a similar lifeless condition, the same with all the others.
"Iida ran to get Recovery Girl for healing and Aizawa-sensei in case this is a quirk affecting them." explained Sero. "In case of a villain attack, he's also carrying Hagakure since she can get off him and sneak attack any villain."
Deku's eyes were still on his prone classmates in stunned disbelief. Should he try shaking them? No, that only worked in movies! What could have happened? He'd been talking to Katsuki and Ochaco only a few minutes ago. Had some villain with an infiltration quirk snuck in and attacked them? But how had they gotten past the campus security and the rest of the students? The entire point of them moving into the dorms was to keep them safe from villains!
No, he could worry about what had caused this strange catatonia later. Green sparks surrounded his body in rage as he turned around.
"Midoriya! What are you do-"
"I'm going to search for the villain." He gritted out. With no response, he turned back around in confusion, only to be greeted with frozen expressions from all his fellows, their eyes locked blankly at where he was a second before. Kaminari was reaching out to him, his arm stock still mid-movement, something that the sporadic electricity user could never manage. "Guys?"
"Do not search for what does not exist, boy." A resonating voice announced from behind him.
Instinct flared as he jumped back and up onto a couch. The deep, dark voice passed over Izuku like a towering wave, engulfing him and dragging his body down to the depths of the ocean. Despite not recognizing the speaker at all (how did he even get in?), the young hero felt a terror wash over him the likes he hadn't felt since he encountered All for One.
Slowly, shaking with dread, he turned around to face the new person, readying Full Cowl to activate at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, all his preparation evaporated when he laid his eyes on the speaker, his jaw dropping to the ground.
First off, there was not one intruder, but two, though they looked more like Tokoyami's Dark Shadow or Kurogiri of the League of Villains than anything he'd expected, beings of pure energy. The one on the left was a black hole come to life, a dark purple figure with a pair of curved ram's horns atop his head, light seeming to bend and die all around him. In contrast, the being to the right positively beamed with golden light, elegant antlers extending from the top of his scalp, his posture straight and serene. Both gazed upon Izuku, though that might have just been conjecture since they didn't have eyes so maybe they sensed via some other factor, maybe echolocation or telepathy—
"Cease your blabbering, boy," the black energy being snapped, his rumbling voice identifying him as the one who'd spoken before.
Roused from the mumbling he'd apparently been saying out loud, Izuku dropped into a fighting stance, careful to keep himself between the two intruders and his defenseless classmates.
The golden one raised a hand. "Peace, Izuku Midoriya. We mean you no harm."
The green-haired boy raised an eyebrow, his fists unconsciously opening back into open palms, his legs straightening out his ready position. For some reason, just as the black figure's timbre stoked a cold grip of dread in the young hero, the golden one's words calmed him, like a cool breeze in the midst of a blazing summer noon.
Still, just because the person's voice made him feel better wasn't a reason to drop his guard. He was more than familiar with brainwashing quirks. If they were using one on him, he had to be careful not to let them influence him, though without knowing the activation requirements, there was little he could do.
"Who are you?" Izuku looked over to the rest of his classmates, who hadn't moved an inch from when the two beings had appeared. "What did you do to them? Some kind of… conscious manipulation? Body manipulation, to force them to stop moving?"
"Body manipulation? Ha!" the black one snorted. "What kind of charlatans do you take us for, boy? I should rip out your throat just for that insult—"
"Brother," the golden one cut across pointedly. "What he said is fully believable for the extraordinary world the boy lives in. Also, need I remind you that we are guests? And not entirely welcome ones at that either."
"Right, right," the ram horned figure groaned. "Just get on with it. I don't want that demon getting on our case any more than he already is."
The golden figure sighed, turning to fully face Izuku. "To answer your question, we are not manipulating their bodies, your senses, or any other types of control. We have simply, with the permission and assistance of the god of your world, stopped time."
"WHAT?!" Izuku squealed, leaping back aghast, his finger flailing accusatorily between the two beings. "Bu—but that's impossible! There's no quirk powerful enough to stop time! I mean maybe there's one that hasn't been discovered yet, but quirks are physical abilities, they can't interact with a metaphysical concept like time! And what do you mean 'the god of my world'?! Isn't it your world as well? Unless you come from another world, but if you know the god of this world, when no one in this world has every confirmed he exists…"
"And the penny drops," the black being quipped.
"You're gods," Izuku whispered, instinctively knowing it to be the truth as soon as the words left his lips, no matter how insane they sounded. "You're actually Gods. And from what you're saying, Gods from a different world."
The golden one nodded before cocking its head. "I am the God of Light. This is my brother, the God of Darkness. It is a pleasure to meet you, Izuku Midoriya."
"You're gods from another world."
"Oh, great job brother." the God of Darkness said sarcastically. "Truly a quick-witted child, not an adult, but child you have found for the job. I swear, Ozma seems like a genuinely capable person in comparison to this wretch."
The God of Light let out a long, suffering sigh, as if he had heard the same insult repeatedly. "Izuku Midoriya, I believe we should bring this conversation back onto topic. Let me explain what happened to your classmates and friends."
This snapped Izuku out of his shock, at least slightly. "What happened to them?!"
"Physically, nothing," the God of Light explained. "But their souls have been extracted."
"Souls?" Izuku repeated. As terrifying as his friends' newfound peril was, he couldn't help but marvel at all the metaphysical concepts he was suddenly getting direct divine confirmation for.
The God of Darkness let out a very ungodlike groan. "Yes, to make a long story short, on a world that we made, a deceitful little wench attempted to set us against each other. We discovered the attempt, and instead of doing the sensible thing and kill her, this fool decided we should make her immortal in some asinine attempt to play teacher."
"You act as if we should have just cast her aside without a second thought," the God of Light protested. "We made the humans; it is our responsibility to at least attempt to guide them."
"Well, I guided them straight to extinction. Which they recovered from… somehow," the dark being waved it off. "In any case, said immortal witch has spent the last few eons waging a shadow war to wipe out humanity. But since someone decided to try to help again and use a loophole to revive her husband, he's forced her into a stalemate, incompetent man that he is."
"That's rather impressive by itself, considering the position he was in brother. Ozma is an extremely capable man. The mere fact that humanity hasn't already gone extinct again is rather unbelievable even with his blessing."
"Yes, yes, as you've said before but never actually showed. Anyways, the witch had been looking into magic she shouldn't be to break the standoff, impatient welch she is, and used a spell she didn't understand to bring new pieces onto the board. Said spell crossed dimensions, potentially caused irreparable damage to the multiverse, and ripped your friends' souls out of their bodies to reincarnate them onto the Remnant of our world."
Izuku wasn't sure his eyes could get any wider, his mind swirling with the titanic concepts that were getting dropped on him, struggling to come up with a coherent response.
"Okay…" he mumbled. "So, this witch… has reincarnated them into your world… but you're gods. Can't you just snap your fingers and fix it?"
"That would be nice, wouldn't it," the God of Darkness mocked him. "But unlike you mortals, we gods are not insignificant. Our whispers can sunder stars and our speech can rend reality. Which means we cannot lie or break our word as your kind does without significant cosmic consequence far worse than this trite little scenario."
"What does that have to do with—"
"We swore that we would not return to our world until summoned by the union of four Relics. At that point, our humanity shall either be united and at peace, or we would wipe every last one of them from the face of the planet."
Izuku gulped. "Oh."
"In hindsight, more lax conditions would have been a wiser choice," the God of Light noted. "However, only we have the authority over our world to take your friends out immediately, and we cannot do it with any precision outside the realm itself. As such, the only alternative is to manipulate the natural course."
"The natural course?"
"If your friends can remember their lives in this world, then when they die in our world, their souls will follow their natural course and return to their bodies here. With the time differentiation between the two worlds passing decades there while only minutes here, as long as they can be made to remember, this whole experience may only be a bad dream in the long run of their lives."
Izuku hummed in acknowledgment. That didn't sound too bad. After all, everyone died eventually, and if anything, it would just give them more experience to call upon when they returned to their original world and continued to train to become heroes. Of course, there was the other matter to consider…
"What happens if they don't remember?"
"They die," the God of Darkness bluntly stated. "Both here and there."
He thought of Kacchan's parents, vibrant and caring, finding out their son who'd only just been saved from villains had suddenly dropped dead for no conceivable reason. He thought of Uraraka's family, kept away from their daughter for so long due to work, only to receive a call from the school that she'd passed on while they were away. He thought of the magnificent heroes they were all sure to become that would never see the light of day.
He clenched his hands into fists and resolved that such a terrible thing would never happen.
"What can I do?"
It might have been his imagination, neither of the deities had mouths after all, but he could have sworn he saw the God of Light smile at him.
"Thanks to Salem's inexperience with the spell she used, we have a slight opportunity to sneak you into the world through the slipstream of the seven she's called herself. We can only send one person and we believe you have the best chance at awakening the memories of the others," the God of Light explained. "We will take your soul and deposit it within a copy of your body in our world. We will do our best to transport you nearby Ozma, the witch's enemy. Tell him we sent you, and he'll be able to help."
"Um, okay," Izuku nodded. "But how will I be able to track down my friends? If they're reincarnated, wouldn't they look different? Wouldn't they be different people who've lived different lives?"
"Most bodies' growth tend to be influenced by the souls within them," the golden being assured him. "As for the rest, whatever new experiences they go through, whether they can recall their memories or not, their original selves are still buried beneath. You will have to call those memories up, but underneath it all they are still the same people you know. You can find them."
"And if you don't, we can still tell the god of your world that we tried," the God of Darkness shrugged.
The God of Light sent his brother a pointed glare before raising his shining hand, his palm facing Izuku. "The task before you is momentous, young hero. Are you sure you want to do this? No one would think less of you if you stood down."
"Not even me," the God of Darkness concurred. "I already think you're dirt."
"A question first though. Why? Why them?"
The God of Light sighed, even as the God of Darkness started laughing his ass off. "The spell the witch had used allows for certain vague requirements to be met in a person before their soul would be taken. The qualifications were apparently met in one of your friends, but rather than just take the one child, the witch's inexperience with the spell took random people near the boy in order to fully drain her of her magic. Once her magic was completely drained, the soul snatch shut itself off."
Considering how hard the dark one was laughing, Izuku dreaded asking the question that followed. It was necessary, however. "And these qualifications were?"
"They were, oh Me, the qualifications were 'want for vast amounts of destruction' and 'large amounts of power' so the witch would get a highly influenceable, and highly powerful servant. Apparently one of your Hero buddies fulfilled both though. Guess who it is!"
Izuku cradled his face in his hands, instinctively knowing the answer. "...Damn it, Kacchan." This sent the God of Darkness into even more howls of laughter.
Even the God of Light seemed embarrassed, though whether that was for him or due to his brother was up to debate. "...Izuku Midoriya, will you journey to another world, a world with pain and death on a scale you have never imagined, in order to save your classmates?"
"I'll do it," Izuku declared instantly, lifting his face up from his hands.
These were more than just his classmates. They were his friends. They'd fought for their lives beside one another, saved people beside each other. Even beyond his duty as a hero, he refused to leave them to die because of the whims of this witch.
He would find them. And he would save them.
The God of Light nodded, a blinding glow erupting from his palm. "Good luck, Izuku Midoriya. If you can awaken them all, then we can pull you all back immediately."
The God of Darkness was still laughing even as everything faded to black.
As he finished his story, it suddenly occurred to Izuku that he'd once more rushed into a situation without thinking in order to save people. In hindsight, he really should have asked more questions of the Gods, such as what Ozma looked like or how he was actually supposed to make his friends remember who they were. Heck, he was lucky that they'd seen fit to outfit with his hero costume, complete with his bracers and boots, otherwise, he'd have nothing in this entire new world but a t-shirt and shorts.
Of course, there were some benefits. His hands felt far nimbler than they'd been in months, since before the Sports Festival. A cursory rubbing of the back of his skin against his gloves had revealed that the horrific scars he'd obtained from the tournament and after during his battle with Muscular had disappeared. He'd been startled for a few moments before he'd recalled that his current body wasn't 'his' body, just a copy the gods had created to house his soul in this world. His original form was back home, catatonic just like the others, scars and all. If he died in this world, he'd just go right back to it, since he had his memories. That was somewhat reassuring, though it was a bit disturbing that there were beings in existence capable of creating a copy of One for All and all the strength it had stored up for generations with apparently no effort.
Oh well. At least this time, he could use what experience he already had to make sure he didn't damage his body the same way he had his other one.
That was if he didn't get labeled as insane and thrown in a padded cell.
Ozpin's mouth had dropped wide open, staring blankly ahead as if the world had just crumbled before him.
Izuku tensed, ready to jump into action if he needed to. He didn't want to fight law enforcement, but he couldn't afford to be locked up. He had to find everyone.
"Seventeen years ago… I sensed a mystical disturbance from the Grimmlands," Ozpin muttered. "But I never imagined she would do something like this."
"Wait," Izuku said, his eyebrows shooting up. "You believe me?"
The silver-haired man took a deep drink from his mug and let out an exhausted sigh. He shot Izuku a reassuring smile. "It sounds like the kind of impossible task the gods would set out for someone. And you are hardly the first they have done so with."
Izuku raised an eyebrow, a theory slowly taking shape in his mind.
Ozpin extended his hand. "Nowadays, I am known as Professor Ozpin, huntsman and headmaster of Beacon Academy. But, a long… long time ago, I was born as Ozma."
"You're Ozma?" Izuku grinned. "That's amazing! Can you help me?"
"I shall do my best," Ozpin assured him. "Salem has brought your friends here to tip the scales of this world to her side. By helping you rescue them, I can prevent them from becoming her weapons."
"Thank you," Izuku replied. He understood that Ozpin's reasons were not wholly altruistic but given that he had apparently been fighting a shadow war for the fate of humanity for who knew how long, he couldn't really blame him for his pragmatism.
"Think nothing of it," the professor said. "Now then, I don't suppose you have any idea where your friends might be? We have an entire planet to cover after all."
Izuku furrowed his brow in thought. Searching the entire planet for six people would be a titanic undertaking. There was no guarantee that his friends, despite apparently being seventeen years old in their new lives, would be in any electronic systems Ozpin had access to as head of a school, or even any of his shadow conspiracy ones. People slipped through the cracks sometimes, it was a sad truth of the world, and that meant finding wherever they were might be impossible.
But maybe it wouldn't be as difficult to figure out where they would go. After all, the God of Light had said that even if they couldn't remember their original lives, they were still the same people underneath.
And no matter their new lives, no matter where they'd been born, or what they had gone through, there was only one thing any of his friends would want to be.
"Professor, is there any profession in this world that is similar to a superhero? Actually, do you have superheroes in this world? Do you have comic books in this world? Or manga? I mean, both industries rose to prominence in part due to needs and aftermath of World War Two, so unless something similar occurred to mimic those effects, an alternate stimulus would be required—"
"Stop," Ozpin cut in, holding up a hand. "I can't say I'm knowledgable on the evolution of the industry, but comic books and the concept of superheroes do indeed exist in this world. As for an occupation that resembles them…"
The headmaster flashed a smirk, a scheming twinkle in his eyes. "I believe I know just the thing."
And here we begin 'One Find to All', the newest monthly story. Izuku will be attending Beacon to find his friends, but as he is exposed to the struggles of his new classmates and the immense threat of the Grimm, will he truly be able to just find his friends and get out as planned? Or will the hero who meddles where he doesn't need to end up becoming distracted helping everyone he can?
If you wish to see more of this story, vote for it to be updated next month in the poll on my profile.
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Thank you for Reading! I hope you enjoy what comes next!
Go Forth and Conquer!