AN: Hi, I'm not dead... surprise! :D I edited this chapter myself, so feel free to point out any mistakes or inconsistencies in my writing. I don't know how soon the next chapter will be out, but for more info on what I'm working on next, see the bottom of the chapter!
Saitama trudged through the streets of Y-City, staring at the ground while clutching a single small cardboard box full of his only surviving belongings rather despondently, idly kicking away a fist-sized rock, causing it to skitter into the street. His eyes idly followed the rock, noticing a cheap-looking apartment block, a dingy and weathered old sign proclaiming a few vacancies leaning on the lone surviving fence post out front. Turning his steps towards the building, he managed to negotiate a lease on one of the apartments, stashing his things inside, then returning to wandering Y-City, looking for someplace to earn some money with which to pay for his new apartment.
A week later
Tatsumaki huffed as she idly floated high in the sky above Y-City, her earpiece off again, as per usual. "Keep an eye out, he said. It shouldn't be too difficult, he said. It's possibly a Dragon-level threat, he said." She huffed again, clearly unhappy with the lack of success they'd had locating Saitama. She had several loose bits of rubble floating around her in a complex pattern, denoting her frustration. "We don't know anything about this… this thing!" Her voice had risen to a shout, though she was too high in the sky for anyone to notice. "For all we know, it could've been Metal Knight, leading us on a wild goose chase! We have no information!" A crumbling sound stopped her ranting as she noticed she'd accidentally crushed the bits of rubble she'd been using to entertain herself on her - up till now - fruitless search, and she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Great. Losing control again, just what I needed after that stupid Invasion last month."
She dropped towards the ground, the glow around the gravel she'd been fiddling with fading to nothingness as she let it all fall with a gentle pitter-patter onto the roof of a mostly intact building. She started floating down the street, about 3 stories up. She wanted zero interruptions, and floating out of reach of the populace tended to be the most effective deterrent. As she floated by a restaurant, she caught a whiff of the freshly-cooked noodles, and her stomach growled, making her groan and touch down, entering the shop with her public face on: the usual haughty glare that prevented anyone who thought to disturb her from doing so, which let her order some udon soup in peace, sitting on a bench next to the recently-replaced front window.
After a few minutes, her soup arrived, and she started eating it, paying little attention to the interior of the shop, preferring to stare out the window, a blank look in her eyes as she became lost in thought. The peaceful scene - and the window - was shattered scant few minutes later as an explosion rocked the city block, a plume of fire and smoke rushing past an annoyed Tatsumaki, who'd reflexively started to levitate, though she'd had enough presence of mind to save her soup from the destruction, as she hadn't quite finished it yet.
She grumbled, finishing the soup quickly and setting it back on the now dusty bar, the soup bowl now the only clean thing in the entire restaurant other than herself. "And there goes my peaceful lunch… whoever just made that explosion is gonna pay!" She shot off towards the center of the small newly-formed mushroom cloud, dispersing the smoke in front of her with her abilities, and touched down at the edge of the crater, looking around for the cause.
As she looked around, she noticed a few twisted bits of metal lying on the ground that didn't look like they came from any buildings. Upon closer inspection, she found a half-melted hand, what looked like half a metal leg, and a metal foot. "...The hell? Did Metal Knight do this?" A tick appeared on her forehead, the green telekinetic glow around her getting dangerously brighter. "When I find him..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed a few decidedly organic body parts laying around, though they weren't fully human. She levitated them off the ground to get a closer look, and grimaced, going a bit green. ...well, greener. "What was this, some kind of mosquito monster? EW!" She gathered both the organic and metal remains, flying back to A-City at high speed to report her findings, and to chew out Metal Knight.
All the way on the other side of Y-City, Saitama was browsing through the shelves of a supermarket that had opened in the last week, and he'd managed to score several great deals on some merchandise due to the "Grand Re-Opening" of the store. "Hmm…" He mumbled to himself as he fished around in his coin purse for enough change to pay for his not-even-half-full cart. "I definitely need some kind of job…" He walked out of the store with his bags of food, when a flyer for the Hero Association flew (heh) straight into his face, causing him to stumble backwards in surprise, his swearing muffled by the paper.
Once he managed to peel the advertisement off his face, he stared blankly at it. "...A 'Hero Association'? THEY'RE HIRING!?" All that was left of Saitama was a trail of dust and wind as he rushed home, stashed his things, and tore off towards what he hoped was the local examination center, the address of which was printed on the flyer clenched tightly in his hand.
Several hours and plenty of physical and written examinations later, Saitama was standing in the locker room, smiling down at his results sheet, which had a massive "C" on it. "Well, at now I'm employed… Where do I-?" He was interrupted by the intercom, which called for him to go to a specific classroom for an information session.
As he walked into the empty classroom and sat down, - Saitama's record-breaking scores in the physical exams had caused everyone else to quit prematurely - he noticed that there was a man in a snakeskin suit dozed off in the armchair behind the big desk up at the front of the classroom. Saitama raised a hand inquisitively. "Hello? Are you supposed to be giving me some info about being a hero?"
The man stirred slightly, opening one bleary eye. "...Wake me up when everyone's here." He promptly fell asleep again, prompting Saitama to sigh and fish a piece of gum out of the pocket of his hoodie, popping it into his mouth and beginning to chew on it.
15 minutes later, Saitama was getting rather annoyed. Nobody had arrived, so it was still him and the sleeping man in the only comfy chair in the room. Finally getting fed up with waiting, Saitama strolled over to the man, poking his cheek a couple times. "Oi, I'm the only one here. You gonna do something, or what?"
The man startled awake, flinching back in his chair a bit, rolling a few inches away from Saitama's outstretched hand and looking around. "Wha-? Oh. Just one, huh? Makes it easier on me, I guess…" The man got up from the chair, stretching to wake up his limbs, giving Saitama a once-over. "You don't look like much. What rank did you get?"
Saitama pulled out his paper with a shrug, showing the front to him. "C-Class."
What Snek didn't notice, however, was the distribution of Saitama's scores. All he saw was the 71/100 overall score that was posted right beneath the massive 'C' on the diploma, and he scoffed. "C-Class? And I see you barely scraped by." He waved Saitama off, causing him to carefully put away the certificate. "You're barely worth explaining this to, so I'll keep it brief. You're a C-Class hero. The lowest of the low, since you'll start off at the bottom… somewhere in the three hundreds, I don't know. You C-Class heroes are fodder, and unless you show some real potential, that's all you'll ever be. To prove that you really wanna be a real hero, you need to do something heroic at least once a week to prove it." He pointed his finger at Saitama, an intimidating look on his face. "And make sure you act like a hero, got it? You'll be on the Hero Association's website, so make sure you act like you deserve it!" Snek jabbed his right thumb at his own chest, puffing it up proudly. "I'm A-Class, Rank 38! That means that you'll show me respect as your senior and superior, got it?"
At a blank look from Saitama, Sneck started to get annoyed. "At the bottom of the totem pole, there's you and the rest of the C-Class heroes. All of you are cannon fodder to the real monsters. The next rung up the ladder would be the B-Class heroes, and they're a bit better, but not much to sneeze at. Second from the top would be us A-Class heroes, and we're the cream of the crop! We do most of the hero work in the Hero Association. At the top of the pyramid, there's the S-Class heroes, like Tatsumaki, Bang, and King." He shuddered a little, as if remembering a scary memory. "They're almost monsters in their own right; they're crazy strong, stronger than anyone! ...They don't do much, though." Sneck scowled a bit, but then shook his head. "That's all you'll get from me, newbie. Try not to die." Once he was done, Sneck shoved his hands in his pockets, brushing past Saitama and then left.
Saitama shrugged, tucking the manilla folder with his certificate in it under his arm, shoving his hands into the pocket of his hoodie, and wandered out the door, eventually making it home to put the paper in a place of honor. "Guess I'll start making a name for myself tomorrow…" As the sun set, he flicked his TV on, and started surfing the channels.
Back at the Hero Association HQ, a glasses-wearing man approached Sneck, pulling him aside, explaining to him Saitama's phenomenal results in the physical portion of the exams. "That man you talked to…" He checked the paper he had with him. "Ah, yes. Saitama. He may be only a C-Class hero at the moment, but that's because of his low written exam score."
Sneck raised an eyebrow, not entirely getting the point. "What was his score distribution?" He swiveled the chair he was sitting in to face the other man, his attention fully focused on him.
The other man gave a small smile, looking out over the city, bathed in myriad oranges and reds from the setting sun. "He got a low score on the written exam, but he earned a perfect score on the physical tests. Not only that…" He turned to look at Sneck fully, his glasses flashing. "He broke every single record the Hero Association has."
Sneck sat forward in his chair, a skeptic look on his face. "Puri Puri Prisoner?"
The brown haired man shook his head, the smile growing slightly. "Hardly a mark by comparison."
"Darkshine?" Sneck's elbows came to rest on his knees, his hands folded in front of his mouth.
"Not even close."
"Bang, Atomic Samurai?"
The man turned back to the window. "We don't have concrete records of their strength, but still no, especially not in sheer power."
Sneck gave a low whistle. "We're sure this wasn't a fluke?"
The other man nodded. "It's quite possible that he'll join their ranks as S-Class soon." He placed a few photos on the desk by Sneck, showing the destruction Saitama had caused in the testing center, and started walking out of the room. "It's almost as if there's a god living in that body…"
As the sun shed its final rays on the room Sneck was sitting in, he marveled at the pictures, getting a contemplative expression on his face.
The next day, Sitch received a call on his WATCH, and answered, the glasses-wearing employee's head popping out of the WATCH. The man looked rather excited, and Sitch noticed a few notifications of some mail from the man that had just called him. "What is it?"
In a low, fast voice, the man recounted the results of Saitama's tests. "...I think we have a suspect, sir!"
Sitch's eyebrow raised. "A suspect of what, if I may ask?"
"The Dragon-level Mysterious Being that halted the Subterranean Invasion, of course!" Read the documents I sent you, and you'll notice that we found a man whose strength is literally off the charts!"
Sitch retreated to his office, transferring the call to his desk to allow him to browse and continue the conversation. "...impressive… And what information do we have on him? Any addresses we can find?"
The other man shook his head sadly, "He didn't actually leave an address, so we don't know where to find him." The man looked apologetic. "I'd have sent some operatives to check, but by the time the information on him got to me, he was long gone. The only clue we have is that Sneck came back late last night with a large bruise on one cheek, saying he'd tried to crush the new guy, this… Saitama fellow… but he'd gotten beat down with little effort at the outskirts of Y-City."
"Damn…" Sitch pounded the desk in frustration, causing the hologram of his assistant to get a bit fuzzy for a second. "I wish we had more operatives, but with the Invasion…" He sighed, sitting back in his black leather spinny chair with a huff. He looked back up at his assistant, who was giving him a small apologetic smile. "I'll get back to you on the subject later, we need to focus on rebuilding the Association first. Keep me posted on anything else you find on him, though." The man nodded, and the call cut out, leaving Sitch alone in his darkened office. He preferred it dark, that way he could manage his visitors more easily. Most people didn't like darkness, and tended to feel uneasy in his office as a result. As for those that it didn't affect, more often than not they respected him more for it. Add to that the fact that he was one of the highest authorities in the UHA… few people crossed him outside the S-Class heroes.
AN: I'm happy to announce the premiere of a spin-off for this story, titled: "The Subterranean Apocalypse - Omakes"! I'll be working on the first chapter of that next, as it's a look into what this fic could've been since I couldn't bring myself to just completely drop Genos completely. You're welcome, Genos fans! :D I'm not sure when it'll come out, but I've already got some of it written, so it shouldn't be near as long as the wait between chapters 3 and 4 of this.