Valve update schedule REAL

Chapter 45

Beta: L33t Horo

Cover: LousGndiner

The aftermath of the exams was admittedly calmer than Shirou would've expected.

Endeavor kept to his word and publically supported him against his detractors. He had even gone as far as to claim that, to begin with, such rumors shouldn't have even been taken seriously. Coming from a top hero who fought with the Beast that Shirou was supposedly connected to, it was enough to quell the controversy.

At least for now, that is. Shirou intimately knew how these rumors don't just disappear overnight. It would take another incident to put the claims back into the limelight—just one incident.

Yu had beat that perspective into him, figuratively not literally.

Though, speaking of his adoptive parent… she'd likely be disappointed to hear that he'd have to stay in the dormitories for just a while longer, even if they had managed to convince the public that he wasn't a danger to the school. Shirou could guess the reason why though. Aizawa knew him well enough to block his chances at finding Angra-Mainyu. His homeroom teacher reasoned it'd be better to chain him up figuratively than let him run headfirst into his death.

At least Yu was allowed to visit him now. If he remembered correctly, she'd be coming over later today. He'd lie to himself if he said he wasn't looking forward to it. Should he prepare something for her to eat? Maybe some curry? If there were leftovers, he could hand them off to Yu so she could reheat them whenever.

I wonder what she's been doing while I've been gone?

"Shirou?" Melissa Shield's familiar voice called from inside the dorms. "Are you done out there?"

"Just about," he said. "What's wrong? Do you need something?"

"Your friends called about a swimming pool?" She said, holding her phone. When did they exchange numbers? "Looks like they're going to be practicing swimming. They asked if you wanted to join."

"Swimming…" he briefly pondered. "... No, tell them I'm not going. I have a guest coming around later. I'll need to whip something up for her."

"Her?" She had a coy smile. "A girlfriend?"

It was a moonlit night.

While he stood behind a woman in knightly armor, eager to rush ahead and slay a bastard in red, he could not help but eye the young lady behind him.

"So that's how it is, mister amateur Master?" she smiled. "For now, let's start with this. Good evening, Emiya-kun?"

A twin-tailed beauty in red.

"No, just my adoptive mother," Shirou quickly answered. "But I'll need to take a shower and make something to eat. How do you feel about curry tonight?"

"Curry…" she stretched her lips in consideration. "I'd love some, but my dad isn't good with spicy stuff. The last curry we had was in India and…"

"Was it too much for him?" Shirou raised a brow. "I can make it milder."

She gave him an okay with her hands before going back into the building. "Call me when lunch is ready!"

"Got it."

He turned to the clock hanging overhead.

"A little over thirty minutes until Yu gets here," Shirou muttered. "Plenty of time."

Especially if he was going to be making enough for four people.

If Rin were here, she'd scoff and ask why he was making lunch for the Shield family in the first place. The only answer he could give her was that he offered, seeing as they were going to be living together for a while. Shirou didn't want to dull his skills by only cooking for himself.

That, and he'd feel bad if he didn't. There were several days until the training camp started, and if he let his fellow tenants cook for themselves while knowing he could've helped? He just couldn't let that happen.

His lips pursed as his hands once again fell into his pocket. He fished out a familiar red pendant for a moment before putting it back.

Night fell as a cafe sign flipped. To outsiders, it was clear that Cafe d'Acier was no longer open for business, at least until tomorrow.

Unfortunately, even when it was clear that the owner was taking the advertising signboard inside, it didn't stop the figure in a coat from walking up and stopping right behind him.

"You're here again," Archer muttered. "Unfortunately, we're closed for today."

"I met with that child," he said. "Are you sure this is a conversation that you'd want to have outside?"

In other words, let's go somewhere private… huh?

"Go around back," Archer simply walked back into his cafe while looking off somewhere behind his visitor. "You'll trek mud into my store."

Enji Todoroki narrowed his eyes, acknowledging the `stragglers` behind him.

"I'll be sure to clean up after myself."

Archer simply snorted as he locked the door behind him.

One on the roof three blocks away. Two seemingly having a date across the street. Finally, one last person was smoking on a veranda.

If several people are following him… his reputation must be under question. It seemed that `siding` with a suspect did not go well with the Hero Public Safety Commission. Archer normally would have laughed at him for his situation, but seeing as that negatively impacted his quaint little lifestyle, it only irritated him.

If he, who was technically under Endeavor's protection, was to be put under further suspicion… it would likely end poorly for him. If Endeavor was to be investigated, so too would he. Doubly so if they learned that he was technically an illegal immigrant with a forged identity.

And by coming here, Endeavor intended to drag Archer to whatever trouble he got into kicking and screaming.

"You better start with something good," Archer said as he saw Enji find a seat in his storage room. "Did you even take care of all of the stragglers?"

"I had a few of my people take care of them discreetly. Those fools were likely from the more `proactive` members of the HPSC. I've gotten them to back off for now. However… they'll likely try to look into you further."

"I suppose this little vacation of mine wouldn't have lasted forever," Archer then snorted before redirecting a glare. "So? What nonsense are you pulling this time?"

And why are you dragging me into it?

"Cut straight to the chase, eh?" Enji scoffed. "Then I'll get right to it. There'll be a raid coming up soon. I'll need you to join in. This is non-negotiable."

Archer frowned.

"And if I refuse?"

"Non-negotiable," Enji narrowed his eyes as he gestured to the cafe. "Unless you'd rather squander my goodwill?"

The Counter Guardian simply stared before sighing.

"If I feel that I am needed."

"Good," Enji turned to leave. "I shall see to it that you'll be able to fool around in this cafe of yours for the foreseeable future… no matter what kind of filth you drag into it."

"I'm impressed. It took you this long to insult one of my employees?" Archer found a smirk worming onto his face. "Quite unfortunate that your daughter seems to get along with him just fine."

"Don't push your luck," Enji almost growled. "Not if you want to stay on this `vacation` of yours for a little while longer."

He could've said more, but the short mirthful scoff gave him enough satisfaction, especially when he knew that Enji had heard it.

However, Archer's eyes softened as his gaze traveled toward his hands.

He hoped that he wouldn't be needed, that the `heroes` could competently resolve their problems without his aid. Because if they couldn't, he'd need to step in…

"... Short vacation," he sighed. "Eh, maybe they'll be fine."

Knowing his luck, that was a far-fetched dream.

Dinner had finally arrived. Yu arrived with little fanfare. However, instead of relaxing, she ended up spending most of her time helping Shirou out in the kitchen for what little remained to help with. She had mostly just stirred the pot while he prepared some flatbread. However he didn't use the right type of flour, as he couldn't find it locally, so it ended up being less than what he had hoped.

But, as his `roommates` had said, it still tasted good.

"Once again, I must thank you for going out of your way to make dinner for us," David smiled as he spooned another mouthful of curry. Thankfully, he waited until he finished chewing before speaking again. "What kind of curry is this? I've been to India for a few commissions, but I haven't had much time to try many types of curry. The local spices are a bit too overwhelming for me."

"And just you. Your tolerance is just low," Melissa rolled her eyes and shoved in a mouthful. Thankfully, she shared her father's manners. "More importantly, Miss Yu, I've been curious about something ever since I've first seen your debut!"

"Ah, you have?"

"Yes," Melissa took out her phone, likely to take notes. "You see, I've always been curious as to how your suit does not destroy itself whenever you use your Quirk. I've heard guesses as to how the microfibers were altered using your DNA."

"That's mostly correct… probably," Yu said. "I'll be frank with you. I didn't pay much attention to whatever explanations they gave when we were working on my bodysuit. I only really pitched in the development when it came to its looks. As far as I'm aware, it just works., but I think that they took hair samples. Does that help?"

"It confirms that they did indeed use your DNA to synthesize the suit," Melissa tapped on her phone with a smile. "With this… I think that this will greatly help my paper."

"You're writing a paper?" David stopped eating momentarily. "Was that in the curriculum?"

"Most of the seniors say to start researching before the teachers tell you to do so," Melissa supplied. "It'll save me a lot of heartache when it inevitably gets rejected. They also said to prepare more paper ideas when that happens, because they couldn't afford to waste time thinking up a new topic… not only that, it counts to almost fifty percent of our final grade."

"Ah… I see that U.A. is as strict as I thought it was," David muttered. "I thought that All-Might was exaggerating, but I suppose that the school expects a lot out of its students."

"I'm pretty sure that's just the support course," Yu added. "The hero course, from what I remember, was a lot less strict… but I guess they've switched it up this year. There's that training camp that they're going on, which should've happened in their second year."

"It can't be helped," Shirou shrugged. With the country as it was, this was only expected. It'd be worse if the school did nothing and sent them out lost and underprepared… and speaking of being lost.

Yu was distracted by something. Though, he supposed that he should've seen the signs. Yu wasn't as clingy as she usually was with him.

"Speaking of help…" David placed his cutlery down. "I'll do the dishes. As expected, it doesn't sit well with me to not do anything for you, especially since you've been cooking for us all this time."

Shirou sighed.

"You don't have to–"

"I insist," David said as he picked up his plate. "I'll just go right ahead and do that. Melissa, bring me yours when you're done."

"Just take it now," she said as she shoved whatever remained into her gullet. Shirou already knew not to comment on it. There were easier ways to die. "I've got to finalize the research proposal. If I'm right, we can have clothes that mimic Quirks, without the need to use Quirks!"

"That'll certainly be interesting," her father smiled before he walked away. "Ah yes, before you go, remember to tell our host what you wanted to tell him. You'll end up forgetting otherwise… again."

"Ah," Melissa paused before she could leave her seat. "Right… I nearly forgot."

"Do you need me to leave?" Yu smirked. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

Shirou rolled his eyes.

"No, it's fine!" Melissa shook her head. "You see, other than my paper, the reason I brought up Mount Lady's costume is that I want to try and do the same for you! Your Quirk works by generating energy and transforming it into a preconceived form, right? I understand that it's easier for you with bladed objects–" extremely easier "–but there's a wellspring of potential that I believe we can tap into!"

"In layman's terms?"

"Quirks don't create something from nothing. Every Quirk, even the miraculous ones like Stars-and-Stripes' New Order, shares this limitation," Melissa said before pausing. "Ah, right. New Order is a Quirk that allows the user to enforce two rules onto their surroundings. Even non-corporeal surroundings such as the air or sky."

Shirou blinked.

"Wait, can you explain that a little more," he raised a hand as if in class. "Like, what kind of rules?"

"I'm not certain on the specifics beyond what the hero herself said," Melissa shrugged. "Then again, I don't think she'd readily explain the weaknesses of her Quirk like that. But if you want a mental example, I've seen her turn the clouds and nearby mountains into a form of herself. Does that help?"

"That sounds a little…"


Even with what little he knew about Quirks, he knew that they weren't as conceptual as this. That sounded more like a Noble Phantasm to him than anything he's seen thus far.

Even Aizawa's Quirk, which looked almost fantastical in how it nullified other Quirks, had some basis in reality. Shirou could even hypothesize that Aizawa's eyes sent a special wavelength that interfered with the target's genes momentarily. Did this `New Order` also work the same way?

Were Quirks able to go that far?

"But the TLDR of it is that the Quirk lets the Stars-and-Stripes do what she wants," she shrugged. "We've gone off-topic. The point of me saying this is that what if we could capture and store this energy that your Quirk uses for further study?"

Shirou blinked.

"Let's say that this energy of yours can be stored," Melissa continued. "We already know that your constructs seem to last a very long time–" in reality they lasted for as long as he wanted, barring certain Noble Phantasms "–which means we can potentially have a battery that you could use. I'm almost certain that you've experienced situations where you wanted just a little more energy for one reason or another. Imagine if we could circumvent that entirely?"

He pursed his lips.

… Truth be told, that was tempting. He knew that, with his current strength, he wouldn't be able to hold a candle to Angra-Mainyu. Fighting him was always an uphill battle, especially with that damage reflection ability. Even if Shirou could stop him from regenerating, he knew that he'd either end up dead or close to it, even if he came out victorious by the end of it.

True, he had a plan for that eventual fight, one that he hoped would work, but it was nothing concrete. Anything that could help him stand a better chance was worth it.

The only problem was… he wasn't sure if his magical energy could be stored.

"I guess we can give it a go," Shirou agreed.

"Wonderful! I can get started right away– ah," Melissa jumped from her seat, only to suddenly stop. "... or rather, I can get started after you get back from that training camp. The school also has its support course going through a training camp of its own. I nearly forgot."

"Good luck."

"The same goes for you too."

When she left, presumably to dive right back into schoolwork, Yu snaked her way to his side with a smirk on her face.

"So? I see you get along with her~"

"We're not doing this, Yu."

"Party pooper," she rolled her eyes with a sigh. "I'd have thought you weren't interested in the opposite sex if it weren't for…" she shuddered. "Never mind, I'm not bringing that up again."


"But, now that we're finally alone…" her tone drastically shifted. "Shirou, be prepared for this training camp."

Shirou raised a brow.

"I'm guessing that this isn't going to be a regular camp," but he had already guessed that was the case. He doubted that even his classmates were unaware of how fervent they'd been throwing themselves into training.

"U.A.'s been aggressively recruiting heroes recently," she said. "Of course, that includes me, which means that all this manpower is going to be put to use somewhere. Your training camp might end up more dangerous than we first thought."

"Hence the need for more security…" Shirou sighed. That might be why Principal Nezu seemed to be supportive of his little after-school training club. "At least they're prepared. Am I allowed to know what they're recruiting you for?"

"Officially, no," Yu shrugged. "But seeing as you and I both know that we don't care about that at the moment."

Not while Angra-Mainyu still lives.


"And… it looks like I'm going to be joining you on your trip," she smiled. "However, I'm supposed to be one of the ones guarding the camp at night. There's, apparently, another lodging nearby where you're going to be staying. A bunch of other heroes will be there to quickly respond if there's a problem."

Or rather, when there's a problem.

"For your sake, I hope that we don't have to do anything," Yu sighed. Unfortunately, Shirou knew his luck a little too well by this point. "... Gah, you're making that face again."

Shirou blinked as Yu's arms wrapped him in a hug.

"You're too much of an open book, Shirou. Sometimes, I think you care too much," Yu ruffled his hair. "There aren't any words of comfort I can offer, not any that'll put you at ease. But remember what I told you? Other heroes can help you– are helping you. Whatever they're planning, we'll be able to deal with it."

"If only," he sighed. "Things tend to go awry when I'm involved."

The Holy Grail War, USJ, and recently Hosu.

Those were all such scenarios.

"I doubt you're the sole reason something might go wrong," she rolled her eyes and ruffled his head again, albeit much rougher than before. "The world doesn't revolve around you. You'd have to be pretty arrogant to think otherwise… but I know that's not why you think that way. You just care too much, but not enough about yourself. Just remember, we're a team. You can rely on me when the time comes."

Shirou could only nod.

"... This is probably not the right time, but after this, when it's all over," Yu added. "I'm planning on taking you somewhere. A nice place to relax. It'll be my treat, alright?"

He smiled.

"I'll be looking forward to it."

The day had arrived.

"'Training Camp! Training Camp! Training Camp!'"

Shirou tuned out the excited exchange of his classmates as they boarded the bus. He mentally recounted whether or not he had brought his toothbrush before being shoved into his seat by a particularly irritated Aizawa.

Looks like someone didn't get enough sleep.

Though… Shirou couldn't blame him. The sense of unease he had whenever the trip was announced was impossible to ignore.

Neither was this Training Camp.

Even though all knowledge of its location was kept from the public, it still proved to be too much of a good target for the League of Villains, and by extension, Angra-Mainyu. His gut was telling him that, somehow, they'd be attacked. It only compounded with what Yu had told him last night.

Until then, all he could do was be prepared for anything.

"Looks like someone's cranky this morning," Jirou whispered from the seat behind him. "And I'm not talking about Bakugo. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed this time, Emiya?"

"Am I?" Shirou looked back. "I don't think I'm that tired. I got a good amount of sleep in."

"And how much is that?"


"Look at Mister Perfect over here," Jiro whistled. "Anyway, I got something I need to ask. You know how we had a little get-together at the pool a few days ago? You weren't the only one who didn't go. Iida was a no-show."

Shirou let his eyes stray to the class president momentarily, seated at the front and looking straight ahead. Strangely, he took the seat beside Eraserhead. His usual friends sat behind him, but they weren't talking as he expected them to.

"And? I imagine that you're not bringing this up for no reason."

"Good ol' Prez hasn't been doing too good," Jiro said. "Pretty much everyone knows it, but we're kinda lost on how to cheer him up. Ochaco-chan and Midoriya wanted to try talking to him today, but as you can see…"

Now that it was pointed out to him, Shirou could only nod in understanding. After all, he was the same way. Iida's mind, and his priorities, were elsewhere.

"So… any ideas?"

"I have a few guesses, but that's as far as it goes," Shirou sighed. "Just leave him be for now."

"Bummer," Jiro shrugged. "Didn't realize that he hated getting extra classes that much."

For some reason, Shirou felt that wasn't the case but kept his silence.

"Shiiiiit," he heard Mineta in front of him squirm. "I forgot to pee."

It hadn't taken long for the bus to stop by the side of the road, at a designated resting area.

Shirou took a moment to survey their surroundings, but as expected, the mountainside only looked like a mountainside. Even with reinforced vision, he couldn't see anything resembling civilization for miles… save for the worn-down path that led to the forest, meaning that it was at least well-traveled.

"Something on your mind?" Jiro poked him from behind. Once again, she was accompanied by Kaminari and Yaoyorozu.

"This isn't a resting spot," Shirou replied.

"I think Mineta knows that already," Kaminari snickered slightly as he watched their classmate run around like a headless chicken. "When do you think he'll realize he can go by a tree or bush?"

"He better not," Jiro winced. "I don't want to be anywhere near the smell."

Just as Shirou was about to reply, he paused as several figures made their way towards them… coming from the forest. Not just one or two, but from their silhouettes, Shirou determined at least five, with who knows how many others hidden from them.

Were they going to be attacked already!?

"Calm your head, Emiya," Aizawa walked beside him. A pat on Shirou's shoulder soon followed. "They're no threat to us."

Sure enough, upon closer inspection of their guests, their body language was anything but aggressive.

"What? Did we spook the kid?" Someone cackled. From how their head flickered with green embers momentarily, he caught sight of their distinctly feminine form. "Are the U.A.'s latest and greatest such wimps?"

"Please watch your mouth," someone with a short bob cut beside her muttered with a slight sigh. However, the most eye-catching feature was her costume, which made her resemble a cat. "Why did you even tag along?"

"Because it's boring back there?" She rolled her eyes before they narrowed on one student in particular. Her mouth twisted in interest. "Well well well, if it isn't the boss' kid."


"Hey, Todoroki," Kirishima poked his side. "Do you know this chick?"

"A bit. She's a part of Endeavor's agency," From his tone, Todoroki wasn't the most pleased. "But, if she's here…"

"What? Looking forward to seeing your pops?" She said, not knowing how far she was from the truth. "Unfortunately for you but he's far too busy to be babysitting a bunch of kids. That's why I'm here!"

"Babysitting?" Midoriya blinked.

"I haven't gotten around to explaining everything to them," Aizawa took that moment to walk up beside the other heroes. "However, as for introductions…"

"You'll find that we'll be able to handle that!" A blond woman smiled before… before…

"Lock on with these sparkling gazes!"

"Stingingly cute and catlike!"

"Wild Wild… Pussycats!"


Shirou didn't know what sort of face he was making, but from how the flame-haired woman was snickering, it probably wasn't a good one. The fact that they could do that without being embarrassed was probably a testament to their professionalism… probably.

"These two are Pro-Heroes who will be working with us during the training camp, the Pussycats," Aizawa continued to introduce. "And–"

"They're a four-person hero team who set up a joint agency!" Midoriya suddenly piped up. "They're veterans who specialize in mountain rescues! This year should be their twelfth year at–"

"I'm eighteen at heart!"

Midoriya was silenced instantly with a paw to the face.

"Midoriya… to even hint at a woman's age," Jiro frowned. "Not smooth at all."

"The fury of a maiden scorned…" Tokoyami muttered. "Frightening."

Twelve years… Shirou was relieved at least. If they've been operating for that long and still appear spry and full of life, then they must be incredibly experienced. However… four people? Only two of them seemed to be present. He'd have said three, but the flame-haired woman didn't seem a part of their circle.

"Interrupt me again, Midoriya, and I'll be sure to double your upcoming workload," Aizawa grumbled half-heartedly. "And as for the other person–"

"–Professional Hero, Burnin!" She exclaimed. "I'm also here to aid in your training. If you're not stupid, then I'm sure we'll get along just fine!"

"More like, you're here to train up the half-and-half," Bakugo almost scoffed from beside Kirishima before sending Todoroki a slight glare. "Finally getting someone to help you with the rest of your quirk? It's about time."

"It wasn't my idea," Todoroki refuted before he sent the Pro-Hero a look. "Look, I don't need his help–"

"Hold it," she raised a palm in his tracks. "Sorry kid, but I ain't here for you. The fact is that your school has some brains and requested some help. Normally, there would've just been the Pussycats, of which there are four with the other members back at camp. However, having four split across, what? Like forty or so students? That's asking for a bit too much."

"Six, with the addition of Vlad and I," Aizawa corrected. "But she is correct. My hands will be tied up with providing remedial lessons to certain individuals," his side-eye sent shivers down Kaminari and Ashido's spine. "... Hence our need for aid. Burnin will be here to provide said aid, alongside even more back at camp. I'm sure you all realize that having more professionals with us is not a bad thing."

"And as for why we've been chosen," Mandalay continued after him. "As you can see, from that mountain top to the edge of the valley, it's all owned by my team. It's private land that we've used to polish our techniques. And at the foot of the mountain is where the lodges are."

Shirou blinked.

"... That's a little over three and a half kilometers," Shirou muttered, but unfortunately, his classmates had heard him.

"If it's that far…" Asui muttered. "Then perhaps…"

"Nah," Sato shook his head as he took a step back. "They wouldn't make us do that."

"Maybe we should head back to the bus?"

Shirou didn't recall who made the suggestion, seeing as it came from multiple of his classmates, but his eyes rapidly caught the slight smirk on all of the professional heroes present.

He sighed.

"Shit, they're making us do it!" Kaminari ran as fast as he could. However, even before the others could join him, Pixiebob intercepted them and shoved her hands seemingly into the dirt below.

"It's nine in the morning right now, but if you're fast… noon?" Mandalay calculated before smiling. "Kitties who don't make it back by twelve-thirty don't get any lunch, okay?"

Shirou sent one last glance to their homeroom teacher.

His smirk dwarfed the others.

"The training camp has already started."

"Damn it, Aizawa."

Those were his last words before the ledge they stood on collapsed, sending them spiraling to the forest below.

Once again, he had to utter a bold lie.

"Those brats better not embarrass themselves down there," Aizawa scoffed before walking away from the ledge. He knew they'd be fine. They'd suffered worse, but that wasn't at the forefront of his mind right now.

The `guest` between the Pussycats was the target of his ire, and he wasn't talking about Endeavor's little op.

Another little brat.

What on earth was Mandalay thinking bringing the brat along? Aizawa could barely believe it. They all knew of the plan, to have their kids act as bait– well-protected bait, to catch the League of Villains as soon as they show their faces. Aizawa would personally see to it that their escape plan, Kurogiri, would not interfere via his Quirk.

However, just because they had several professional heroes guarding the perimeter, with some of them even in the top billboard of heroes, doesn't mean that it wouldn't be dangerous.

"What's the kid doing here?"

"I live here, hobo!"

"Kouta, don't be rude!"

Smartly, Aizawa ignored the uncooperative brat.

"Mandalay, I better get an explanation as to why this… kid is here," he sent her a withering glare. "You and your team already know what's going to happen."

The brat in question just glared right back at him.

"He's aware of it," Mandalay replied. "And… I didn't exactly have anywhere else for him to stay."

"We could've arranged for temporary lodgings," Aizawa pointed out.

"We already had lodgings prepared. Emphasis on `had`. They canceled on us at the last minute," Mandalay replied. "We're trying to find a new place, even a hotel or something, but they were all booked ahead of time."

"All of them?" Aizawa narrowed his eyes. That wasn't normal. "Is there a convention being held somewhere nearby?"

"No, but remember how I-Island shut down due to safety concerns?" Mandalay brought up. "Some of the scientists there were reliant on the expo for funding. They decided to hold a private convention in Japan and invited investors for said funding."

"A bunch of companies flooded in once they realized that scientists from I-Island were there," Pixiebob added. "Even the most bizarre of inventions will get some people clambering for it. Even the hotels in nearby cities are full because the trip to the private convention is still cheaper than one to the island."

Damned scientists going off on their own… did they even have any plans to inform the HPSC?

"We should've been notified of this earlier," Aizawa grunted. "We have dormitories back at U.A. for this exact reason. He wouldn't even be alone, as there are already two tenants."

"You do?" Mandalay raised her brow. "That's great! I'll send word to Nezu. Would they be able to take him immediately?"


Aizawa narrowed his eyes at the brat's whining.


"I'm not going to a place filled with liars and phonies!" The brat sneered.

"Would you rather be dead?"


"Screw off!" The brat shouted one more time before running away, likely down the path back to the lodgings.

"Smooth, Aizawa," Burnin chuckled. It would've been better if she stayed silent. "I'll catch up to him. You two are busy entertaining the kids, right?"

"Yeah," Pixiebob said. Her Quirk was admittedly difficult to micromanage, seeing as she was controlling several dozen dirt golems, not that he would know. "Your kids are something special alright. They've already taken down five of them. I'll have to up their numbers. Speaking of which, who's the one ahead of the rest?"

"Let me ask," Mandalay raised her hand to her ear. Whether it was vital to her Quirk or just a placebo to help use it, Aizawa couldn't tell. "Ragdoll says that it's the red-haired one."

"The Kirishima kid?"

"No, the one she lost track of ages ago."

"Sheesh, she still hasn't forgotten that?"

Aizawa tuned out their little discussion as he focused on the forest. The brief flashes of light were probably courtesy of their resident explosive. However, the figure at the far front shooting down earthen beasts was without a doubt the Emiya brat.

Even now, he was still helping out his classmates. Aizawa couldn't help but give a slight sigh. Well… given what they might end up facing in this camp, it wasn't an unwelcome thing.

Got to hand it to this school. They have increasingly interesting ideas for training.

Shirou, equipped with Archer's giant metal bow, shot an arrow, which was little more than a hunk of iron, directly at the monsters made of dirt behind him and his classmates. One shot destroyed their heads, but it did nothing to slow them down.

Changing up his strategy, Shirou launched a rapid volley and shattered the remaining body. One of them tried to sneak up on him, but he sniped its legs. It crumbled under its weight but still tried to crawl towards him. Shirou didn't bother to waste an arrow and simply shattered it with a well-placed kick.

He repeated this with most monsters he caught in his sight. They came with such variety that Shirou was honestly astounded. Some flew like dragons, others slithered like snakes, some stalked like tigers, and others charged in without regard for safety.

Perhaps it was training for them to deal with a variety of enemies?

An earth beast, shaped like a gorilla with bony protrusions, seemingly crawled out of the ground and tried to crush him against a tree, but Shirou severed the arm with Kanshou before taking its head with Bakuya. Its remaining arm tried to grab him, but Shirou jumped away. It hobbled towards him before being shattered into pieces by a familiar green-haired classmate.

"Emiya-san!" Midoriya shouted. "There's more up ahead!"

"Then we'll need to stick together," Shirou concluded.

"Has anyone seen Mineta?" Kaminari asked.

"He's hanging around somewhere," Sero shrugged. "Not gonna lie, I kinda hope he stays further away. I don't think he held it in when we fell."

Shirou wrinkled his nose as he took a hesitant whiff of the surroundings.

"We're going to be overwhelmed if we stay in one area for too long," Yaoyorozu hurried to their side. The rest of their classmates weren't too far behind her. "We'll have to take the shortest route."

"Just go in a straight line and destroy anything that gets too close?"

"Finally, you mobs are speaking my language!" Bakugo snarled as he launched himself into the air. "You better keep up with me, mooks!"

Then he launched himself to what looked to be the east.

"As rude as ever, that one," Aoyama struck a pose. Was it wrong for Shirou to think that he was used to it by now?

"But at least we know he's going the right way," Todoroki said as ice sprouted from his leg. "I'll mark a path. Don't stray too far. I don't think we'll have the time to go back for you if you do."

"Then we better hurry," Kirishima smiled warily. "I don't think Bakubro's in the mood to wait."

"I'd rather not miss lunch either," Ashido shivered.

Shirou agreed. He could honestly catch up with him, and probably make it to the lodgings by himself… but that wasn't him. Staying back to help his classmates was his priority. He didn't want them all to be deprived of lunch. As his Servant once said, hunger is the enemy.

Thus, their training camp experience began in exhausting combat.

… He hoped it wouldn't end the same way.

"Oh? You guys made it in record pace," Pixiebob's smile was slightly strained.

Truth be told, her pride had taken a bit of a hit. While she expected that they could take them on easily, she didn't expect them to plow through her Earth Beasts with relative ease. Even when she turned up the difficulty, she didn't notice them slow down at all. She had thrown at least a hundred of them at the little tykes, but the most notable change she could do was make them take a detour or two.

And at the heart of it all… the so-called top students of their class. Katsuki Bakugo, Midoriya Izuku, Todoroki Shoto, and Emiya Shirou. She could already tell that they were something special in the making.

However, despite their efficiency, Pixiebob still noticed some concerning outliers, one such being Ingenium's little brother. He had some unresolved issues, and considering his brother's history with the Hero-Killer and the fact he was involved in Hosu… it was increasingly likely that he was there for wholly selfish reasons. Not very heroic of him. Hopefully, they could deal with that while they still can. She doubted that they could once everything else went into full swing.

"Three hours…" Sero Hanta, the kid with the Tape Quirk, muttered with a smile. "We barely made it in time!"

You lot were supposed to take even longer than that. We haven't even finished gathering the ingredients yet… How do we stall for time?

"You should've arrived much earlier," Aizawa berated. "Being earlier than expected will benefit your career in the long run. First off, since I notice how some of you aren't exhausted yet in the slightest, why don't we change that?"

Nice one, Aizawa!

"Your peers in Class B have yet to arrive, so until we receive word that they have, you will be running laps around the lodgings," Aizawa revealed his openly sadistic smile. "Of course, if you fail to complete at least ten laps, then you'll be running laps every night until dinner."

"'You monster!'"

Okay, maybe not so nice, but it bought them some time.

The students, despite their complaints, started their jog. Perhaps it was because of their previous experiences that made them less willing to complain. If grueling stamina-building exercises would help them live even a little longer…

Damn it. Pixiebob couldn't stop thinking about what would happen soon if their predictions were correct.

"Um, excuse me," She turned to see Midoriya approach their teacher. He had yet to start running, but she had little doubt he'd catch up with that Quirk of his. "I couldn't help but notice. Whose child is that? I don't recall any of the Wild Wild Pussycats being married or–"

"I'm working on it!" Pixiebob shouted. "In fact, I'm working on it right now!"

Shirou took a step away as she suddenly appeared beside him. He ignored Mineta's not-so-subtle curses from behind him.

"How about it?"

"Never mind her," Mandalay smiled. "This is Kouta. He's not one of ours. He's my cousin's kid. Don't worry, he's not staying for long. You can introduce yourself if you want to."

The sooner they got him out of here, the better.



Mandalay rushed up to her nephew, arm blocked by the shin of that Midoriya kid, with him wearing a look of shock while the other wore irritation.

"I'm not getting along with you hero wannabees!" Kouta shouted as Mandalay pried him back. He shrugged her off and ran back into the lodgings.

"Sheesh," Pixiebob overheard one of the students whisper. "What's his problem?"

Pixiebob, or rather Tsuchikawa Ryuko, couldn't help but sigh.

Too many to count.

Running for nearly an hour or two wasn't as difficult for Shirou as it was for others in his class, but it was still quite the workout.

He was still lively enough to help Pixiebob and Mandalay with cooking, much to his classmate's pleasure. However, he admitted that all he did was whip up some miso soup with the remaining ingredients. The other pro heroes were surprisingly competent in the kitchen.

… Maybe he shouldn't be using Yu as the standard.

Speaking of Yu… it was nearly nighttime, which meant that Yu must be starting her evening shift. He felt a little better knowing that there'd be someone he could trust keeping watch, but as expected, even if Yu had the help of other recruited professional heroes, his paranoia couldn't be helped.

Shortly after that, they entered the local hot springs. Shirou has not personally been to many, other than when some of Fuji-nee's `family friends` invited him. Still, he enjoyed the experience whenever it came.

"... Why're you guys staring at me?"

Mineta looked at his classmates in irritation.

"Don't take this the wrong way," Kirishima said. "But we kinda expected you to be trying to sneak a peek."

"Oh ye of little faith," Mineta looked smug. "Do you really think I'd do such a thing?"


The boy's verdict was unanimous.

"Do you think we're stupid or something, Mineta?" Shirou heard Jiro shout from the girl's side of the hot spring. "You better not try anything or we'll make the rest of the training camp your personal hell!"

"As if such threats could work on me!" Mineta shouted back, but still, he did not move.

"Mineta-kun," Midoriya sighed and gave up his effort before it even began.

"You're just tired from running to even try peeping," Kaminari rolled his eyes as he slumped deeper into the water.

"Tch, he figured me out."

"Besides," Kaminari continued. "Do you honestly think that Emiya over here would let you?"

"Skewer him if he does, Emiya!" Jiro shouted once more. "You have our permission!"

Shirou snorted as he shouted back his reply. "Got it!"

"Damn it…!" Mineta curled up into a ball and sank into the hot spring. "Surrounded by heathens at all sides…!"

Shirou rolled his eyes as his gaze landed on the sight of Kouta, who was hard to forget after what happened earlier today, sitting far up above them on the wall separating them from the girl's side. However, his gaze was firmly on most of them… primarily on Mineta.

Aizawa probably let them know about what Mineta could've done and planned to stop him early… but what Shirou didn't understand was the hostility in his gaze. Come to think of it, Kouta had said something to Midoriya after he tried to assault his classmate's family jewels. Midoriya was lucky to have blocked that.

'I don't plan to hang out with guys who want to be heroes!'

Shirou kept a level gaze, which Kouta clearly noticed, as his glare increased in intensity before he scoffed at him as he slinked away. He must've realized that Mineta wasn't going anywhere… this time, at least.

Well, Shirou would've stopped him before he did anything. He had enough respect for his classmates to do that.

"Man, the water here is pretty good," Kirishima rubbed at his aching muscles. "Aizawa-sensei is so mean. I'm sore in places I didn't know I could get sore!"

"I've been meaning to ask, but how do you get sore muscles when you can harden your body?" Midoriya suddenly asked. "Muscles get sore from being overworked, with the muscle fibers being damaged and then repaired by the body. Do your muscle fibers still get damaged even when hardened?"

"They don't," he answered. "But I figured out pretty early on that it's better to turn off my Quirk while exercising. Can't build any muscle if I don't."

"Then does that mean you haven't fully pushed the limits of your Quirk?"

"... I have," Kirishima gave a wry smile. "Though, it was only recently."

His face reminded them all of only a few months ago.

Seemingly on a whim, Kirishima's Quirk activated. His skin hardened until it started to sprout from his body like spikes. "When I force it enough, I can do this. I call it `Red Riot: Unbreakable`, but I haven't managed to keep it active for more than half a minute."

Shirou's nose twitched as he remembered what David Shield had said. They hadn't managed to remove the taint left behind by Angra Mainyu, evident by the few black lines seemingly pulsing on Kirishima's skin.

"Yooo!" Kaminari shot up from the water. "That's sick! Why'd you keep this from us?"

"I thought you guys already knew?" He raised a brow. "I mean, Sato already knew."

"No, I didn't."

"Really?" He blinked. "But you barely reacted back at the exams?"

"I was more focused on the exams."


"Dude, how can you see?" Sero openly gaped at him. "Your eyes are basically rocks aren't they?"

"Says the guy who shoots tape from his elbows," Kaminari jibed before poking Kirishima's ribs. "Dude, I think you could literally grate cheese on those."

"So, how much damage can you take while you're like that?"


"A lot," Kirishima replied before it disappeared. "I didn't get to test it out, but I can at least survive whatever Cementoss-sensei could throw at me."

"We're definitely going to test your limits tomorrow," Kaminari smiled. "So, does anyone else have a secret skill they want to show off?"

"My twinkling soul~!"


"Turn that light off!"

In the scuffle that followed, Shirou simply sighed as the somewhat serene atmosphere of the hot spring was ruined. However, he supposed it couldn't be helped, not with how rowdy his classmates usually were.


Soon, they would show the world how flawed their fake heroes were.

Stain took a step back, allowing a dagger to just barely graze him before kicking away a heteromorphic child.

"Too slow, Spinner. Your body should be better than your average man. Make use of it."

"I understand, Stain-sama!"

His efforts redoubled. However, they would soon prove fruitless. Whatever moves Spinner made, Stain had already prepared for them. After all, Stain had been teaching him everything he knew.

His crusade, as much as his pride hurts to admit, would not succeed by his will alone. If he had continued on his lonesome then it was inevitable that he would be taken down. If not by a skilled combatant, then by numbers alone.

His mission, his purpose, and his message to society at large would be lost to the annals of time.



He stopped a leg sweep from Spinner, but that had quickly transitioned into a grapple. Spinner's dagger would've found its home in his neck had he not broken free. His grip strength was lacking. More foundational training was required, but unfortunately, time was of the essence.

It would have to do for now.

A reckless jump into the sky followed by an axe kick. Stain sneered as he moved to the side, his hand following Spinner's leg before he grabbed it. A quick knee to Spinner's back sent him flying forward, but Stain's grip made him crash into the floor instead.

"Do not do that again," he berated. "Jumping at your target, while in their sights, is asking for a counterattack. You are not nearly fast, nor durable, to make such a plan succeed. What did I tell you?"

"Approach from behind and wait for an opening."

"And if you are seen?"


"Failing that?"

"Create an opening with projectiles."

"Correct," he kicked Spinner away, who used that as a chance to land on his feet. He knew he would be fine, as his heteromorphic body made him durable enough that it mattered little. "Then why have you not done so?"

"I believed that you would be expecting it."

"And you believed rushing recklessly would be better?" He scoffed. "Nevermind. We are upping the ante. This will be the last session before the main event. I allow you to use `his` gift."

Spinner paused before nodding.

One second, Spinner was there.

The next, he was not.

Stain held steady before taking a step back. His scarf rustled but he caught sight of it being torn slightly. He kicked upward, but upon the lack of contact, it quickly converted into a forward kick. A hasty retreat was likely made, but Stain knew his student.

He stepped forward to where he knew he would be. Predictable. He'd need to hammer home why that wasn't a good habit. He threw another kick, but this time, he knew that contact was made when a cloud of dust appeared from the wall in front of him.

Stain frowned as he saw Spinner come back into view.

"You did not approach from behind, again."

"... I–" he coughed. "... had thought you would expect that."

"Even then, I would've needed an extra second to react. You could have put on an offensive, no matter how meager it might've been," he finished the berate. "Rise and rest. You have made enough progress."

It was exactly what he expected from him.

"Yes, Stain-sama!" He bowed before a small cough left him.

That Quirk, Invisible, was not as compatible with his body as they were led to have believed. The damage to Spinner's throat would likely accumulate, had they lacked the means to treat it. He would need to obtain a remedy from Kurogiri once more.

Merely holding one's breath to obtain complete invisibility sounded impressive, but even invisibility leaves behind traces. A skilled hunter would be able to pick up the signs. A broken twig, footprints, the sound of a heartbeat, or even the sound of wind rushing towards them.

However, those are outliers. Against a bunch of fakes, this would have to do.

"Oh, you're done already?" A chuckle followed after. "I thought you'd be going at it for longer!"

And speaking of said outliers…


"Not yet I'm not," again with that inane response. "Relax, I was just checking in on you two."

"I need not your pity," Stain sneered. "Nor does young Spinner."

"Fine, fine. No need to get your panties in a twist."

"Stain-sama does not wear panties!"

"I guess you'd know!" The parasite laughed at the young Spinner's expression. "Anyway, there's a few changes with the plan. I just wanted you to be aware of it."

"I already know," Stain said. "Kurogiri had informed me when we last met."

Informed him about their… extra hires.

He did not like them. Cheap mercenaries for hire would never hold any cause to heart, let alone his own. Pagans that worship money and power for the sake of money and power. He'd sooner slit their throats than let them stand as representatives of his noble goals.

"Then we're all okay," he shrugged before walking away. "I'm hitting up the arcade today. You coming Spinny?"

"... I will pass for today," a wry glance was sent towards him. It would seem his protege had been slacking off under his notice. Once their mission was over, he'd redouble his training.

More importantly…

"Do not get yourself caught, Beast."

"I won't~"

He sneered.

Carefree swine.

Shirou swung his blades once more.

Nothing had happened last night. Shirou was thankful for that but knew that his relief was temporary.

It was early in the morning, nearly five, but Shirou found himself restless. He decided to let off some pent-up stress with his usual morning routine. However, he knew that there'd be more training later in the day, so it was a little lighter than usual.

"Up already, Emiya?"

The sight of his teacher crawling out of the lodgings made him pause.

"... Did you even sleep, Aizawa?"

"Just because I look like this doesn't mean I didn't catch some shut-eye, brat," he scoffed. "Perfect timing. Go and wake up your classmates. I've already sent Mandalay to wake the girls. They have thirty minutes to prepare for today… and put on a shirt. I get that you don't want extra laundry, but unless your Quirk requires you to be naked, we need to keep up with public decency."

"When you groom yourself enough to not look like you fell out of bed, I'll think about that," Shirou snarked.

Aizawa raised a brow "Since when did you grow a snide streak?"

Since he fought with Archer. However, those snide remarks usually made their home in the privacy of his mind. Shirou supposed that he just felt more open to doing so, probably because Archer saw no need to keep it hidden.

That, and Shirou felt that Aizawa wouldn't mind a little tongue and cheek.

Thirty minutes later, his class gathered in front of the lodgings under Aizawa's watchful eye.

"Today, we will begin the training camp in earnest," Aizawa started.

"So the running yesterday wasn't earnest?"

"It wasn't, but since you feel that way, we'll add it to your upcoming sessions."

"Nice going, Mineta."

"In any case," Aizawa continued. "The goal of this camp is to increase your strength, and following that, aid in obtaining your provisional licenses. By doing so, we will be preparing you for threats that have been increasing as of late… but I'm sure you do not need me to tell you that. You all seem to intimately realize that."

USJ and Hosu were still fresh on some of their minds, after all.

"Bakugo. Throw it," Aizawa tossed a familiar ball. Without complaint, Bakugo did just that. His eyes narrowed as the ball soared across the sky, seared soot black. However, Aizawa only sighed as he held up his phone. "Your previous record was 705.2 meters. As you can see, 709.6 is not much of an improvement. True, the trials and tribulations you've had so far have heightened your mentality and skills… but as far as your Quirks go, barring an exception or two, not much has changed. This is what we will be focusing on."

He smirked.

"You'll feel like you want to die, but please try your hardest not to. Especially you, Kirishima."

The student in question balked.


"Did you think the faculty turned a blind eye to your impromptu Quirk usage yesterday?" He said. "We let you off for that only because we were on private property, but some punishment is still in order. True, it'll be punishment disguised as training, but it'll still feel like death is right behind you. Cementoss has been eagerly waiting for this day."

"Cementoss-sensei is here!?" Kirishima widened his eyes. "Wait, I remember now! You said that there'd be even more at the camp."

"But we haven't met anyone else yet," Midoriya muttered before an epiphany struck him. "Wait, are they–!"

"We're right here!" Burnin shot into the view, having been hidden perched on a tree branch. "Be grateful kiddies! You're getting the best of the best here for you!"

"We went all out," Mandalay walked up from behind them. "I'll be serving as the coordinator. Five of you will also be paired with a single instructor. You see, to train each of your Quirks, we've prepared specialized regiments tailored for you. They'll be responsible for helping you out with that."

"Greetings," a man wearing the same outfit as his teammates stomped into view. "I am the professional hero known as Tiger. I am pleased to meet you all."

"Hello," a man wearing a wooden helmet appeared from behind him. "Kamui Woods. I'll be taking care of some of you."

"And I'm certain you already recognize some of your teachers," Aizawa continued. "Cementoss, Ectoplasm, Midnight, and of course, Thirteen. As you can see, we've readied nine instructors to individually oversee your efforts."

"Nine…" Yaoyorozu muttered. "Wait. If there are only five students assigned to each instructor, correct?"

"Your mathematics are correct, Yaoyorozu," Aizawa nodded. "From the forty-two students split across Class A and B, there will be one instructor with only two students. The instructor in question is not here with us yet."

"Hold your horses, lad. Just because I've yet to make myself known does not mean I have not already arrived," an armored figure walked out from the forest, a stern eye focusing not on his teachers, but on someone in particular. "I've been here the longest out of the other instructors. You youngsters need to learn the importance of being early. Well… at least one of you does."

And that someone was Shirou.

"Greetings. I am Yoroi Musha," his eyes narrowed. "It is a pleasure."

A/N: Getting back into the groove of writing is painful. It took me several months to even continue writing, but it always hung in the back of my mind.

I think I'm under some sort of burnout. I can't follow a concrete deadline anymore, despite trying for months. Ever since the pandemic, I've completely lost the will to do much of anything. You'd think I'd be able to get life sorted out after three years but nah. Just nah. I want to keep writing for this, but yeah. Burnout. I'm staving it off by writing little oneshots for other things, and it seems to be working.

This would've been uploaded sooner this week... but I had a part-time job to worry about. Do you know how difficult standing for ten hours is, for four whole days? My muscles still hurt and it's only the weekend. I do not anyone who has to do this. At least I got paid good money. That'll support me for a bit.

I'll try to get a chapter out next month. Again, no promises, but I do have a solid idea of how to tackle this arc and the following one.

... I'm not sure if I have anything else to say really.

Oh yeah. I've been floating on the idea for a Patty, but that's a legal loophole that I'm not sure if I'm willing to go through, even if it'll get me some extra income. The main reason I'm not sure about the whole idea is that I don't have anything to provide potential supporters. It'd pretty much be a money sink until I can get a good idea. I'd like your opinions on this. I asked this in my other main story and the responses there are mostly positive. I think that maybe the responses will be different in this story, with a wider audience.

I don't know. I'll just see where life takes me. I've had enough of failing to reach the expectations I set for myself.

On better news, Fall 2023 anime be BANGING. Frieren, Shangri-la Frontier, Eminence in Shadow, JJK, and Ancient Magus Bride S2 cour 2. They are so good that it's not even funny. I'm even planning on watching Undead Unluck, but I'm waiting for it to end before binging. OH! And Dead Mount Death Play cour 2. That one's seriously my jam. Way too many bangers this season.

Until next time,