CHAPTER 47: REWARDS
The crowd watched as Shoto Todoroki kept the villain at bay with his ice quirk. The skill and finesse of his power was matched only by its raw strength. The criminal he was fighting had the ability to manipulate asphalt and was using it to wrap that very substance around his body, generating a suit of armor, making him look like a large golem. The civilians had yet to be evacuated which prevented him from going all out to defeat him. Luckily with the strategic lessons Midoriya gave him, Todoroki had learned how to think things through and plan. So instead of hammering the villain with ice and fire he was merely corralling him into a safe zone away from the innocent lives.
While that was happening, Tenya Iida used his speed to grab civilians in the area and deliver them out of danger while Ochako used her quirk to remove rubble and damaged vehicles out of the way. All together they were shaping up to be quite a hero team.
As soon as the area was clear Shoto went full force using his firepower to melt the asphalt. With the special katana that Midoriya designed and built for him he could hack away at the villain's armor at the same time. The villain panicked and tried to manipulate the melted asphalt to fight back, only for Shoto to freeze it all in place with a swing of his other sword. Once he got through the armor he grabbed ahold of the frightened villain and dragged him out of it before encasing most of him in ice.
"Please!" The nearly frozen criminal cried. "Please don't take me to Midoriya! I don't want to lose my quirk!"
"He doesn't do that to the villains we arrest." Todoroki calmly lectured. "You'll get processed like every other common criminal." The police finally converged now that it was safe to approach and started dragging the sobbing pathetic man away. Ochako, who happened to be hovering close enough to hear their words levitated down to ground.
"You'd think if they were so afraid of Midoriya taking their quirks then they wouldn't cause trouble in the first place." She scowled as she watched the officers take him.
"Yeah." Shoto didn't pay the villain anymore mind, he merely nodded his head and agreed with her logic. "Iida report."
"I'm several blocks east with the crowd." Iida said through the communicator. "Everyone is safe. No injuries to report."
"Good we're headed to you." Shoto looked at Uraraka who nodded back and folded her mechanical wings together so she could walk easier. Midoriya wanted them to have good relations with the public, and not just behave like well-oiled machines. The Titan robots were for that. He gave Todoroki specific instructions to greet and assure the public after their heroic acts. If there was a crowd at least. No show boating was allowed though. According to Stain, there was fine line between being a true hero that made everyone feel safe and assured, and then there was being an attention whore.
The three heroes of the HRD converged together in front of the crowd of civilians who were unfortunately caught in the crossfire of this villainous assault. Uraraka had a naturally outgoing and bubbly personality that was ideal for the public. She smiled and waved at the people and told them that everything was fine, and the villain had been stopped. Iida joined her, putting on a show in case Midoriya was watching. He had yet to determine the full reach of his boss's eyes and ears. Best to play the role he was given for as long as possible. Shoto pulled down the scarf that covered the bottom half of his face and did his best to smile at the crowd. He didn't want to come off as cold as he did at the sports festival. He especially didn't want to be as prickly and unapproachable as his father was when he was a hero. No, he wanted to be a hero that his mother and siblings could be proud of.
Shoto shook several hands, politely refused some attempts at gaining autographs and some eager journalists wanting a scoop. His phone suddenly vibrated in his side pouch. He pulled it out to see an unknown number on the emergency channel. How odd? The only one who uses this channel is Midoriya.
"Hello?" Shoto answered.
"Hello Shoto." A familiar voice responded back.
"How did you get this number?" The half cold half hot user scowled, turning from the public so they didn't see his pissed off expression.
"I still have connections. They haven't taken that from me." The man on the other end spoke. "There's an empty café two blocks north. I need to speak with you Shoto." The youngest Todoroki was tempted to simply hang up and pretend that this call never happened. However, he wasn't a coward. If this man wanted to speak to him, then he'd accommodate and be done with it. There was nothing to fear anymore.
"Fine." Hanging up he gave a few quick orders to his team to take care of everything here. He told them there was something he needed to check on and that he'd be back. Leaving the crowd, Shoto slipped through an alley and made his way towards the café. What he didn't know was that his phone call was being monitored by a certain individual.
Stepping inside the small café Shoto's mismatched eyes landed on his father Enji Todoroki, the former number two hero, sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant, wearing civilian clothes. The man's face was a mask of neutrality as he nodded at his son. The teenager walked over to the seat across from him and sat down, leaning his two swords against the side of the table.
"Shoto." Enji began. "Your…looking well." His son just stared at him coldly. "I see you've made improvements to your fire. You know if you need some advice in that department. I'm always available."
"Your assistance is unnecessary and unwelcome." Shoto shut down that possible path to getting reconnected almost immediately. Father and son just stared at each other awkwardly. The silence and tension were almost painful.
"I spoke with your mother recently." Enji tried again only to get cut off.
"If you so much as lay a hand on her." Shoto practically snarled at him.
"We just talked." The older cut him off, trying to lay his son's worries to rest. "That's all. Our conversation caused me to take a good long look at myself." The man breathed a long heavy sigh. "I'm aware I wasn't always the picture of a good father."
"There's something we agree on." Shoto bit out the snarky comeback. He was starting to wonder if it was a mistake coming to meet him. The man let out a frustrated breath while running his hand across his face.
"This is me here trying to apologize." Enji attempted to make amends. "For everything."
"Its too late for that." Shoto denied it. "Where was this when I was younger? Where was this apology when you drove my mother mad? When you made Touya kill himself?" That got a visceral reaction out of the former hero. Enji didn't know how to respond to that. He was acknowledged that his son was correct. It was too late to apologize. However, Rei told him that an apology no matter how late was never meaningless.
"I'm sorry." He said again.
"Stop." Shoto glared at him.
"But I am truly sorry." Enji tried again.
"You just want your quirk and your hero license back." Midoriya warned Shoto that his father might try to petition him, if he decided to meet with him. The young director did his best to look for signs of emotional manipulation.
"I don't care about that anymore." The man swallowed his pride down. None of that mattered to him anymore. He didn't even support his former sidekicks in their protests against the HRD and Midoriya. Shoto just looked at him skeptically. He was sure there was an ulterior motive here. Midoriya told him that there would be.
"I'm sure you don't." Shoto's heart was still filled with the fire of disdain towards his father. A fire that people like Midoriya, Stain and Dabi did their best to keep kindled.
"I'm sorry Shoto." The older Todoroki's tone sounded more defeated than before.
"Stop saying that!" The younger raised his voice.
"Is there a problem here?" Enji And Shoto turned to see a tall black uniformed man with a terrifying draconic helmet that hid his face and disguised his voice.
"And just who are you?" The former hero demanded.
"Special agent Dragon, of the HRD." The newcomer introduced with glee in his tone. "I know who you are Enji Todoroki."
"You work for that brat Midoriya." Enji growled out almost venomously at that name. Just because he could now see how terrible of a father and husband he'd been, that didn't erase the anger he felt towards the director of the HRD.
"No. I work for that genius Midoriya." Dabi corrected with an unseen grin underneath his helmet. He wanted so badly to incinerate the man right here and now but resisted. Midoriya ordered him to leave Endeavor be.
"What are you doing here Dragon?" Shoto asked. "There's no need for you to get involved."
"Come now Shoto." Dabi called him by his real name and not the code name he was supposed to use. "You know our illustrious director tasked me with looking after your wellbeing." He said almost playfully. Not like how a special agent should be speaking. More like an amused older brother. "Seeing you being harassed by this sad pathetic excuse for a man, father and ex-hero, well I had to step in."
"I wasn't harassing him." Enji glared at the agent. "Is there a problem with me speaking to my son?"
"Last I checked he wasn't your son anymore." Dabi was growing more and more giddy. He didn't think being this close to Endeavor and mocking him to his face would excite him so much. Being simultaneously amused and furious was a new feeling. It was like his blood was boiling, but at the same time he wanted to double over laughing.
"Its fine." Shoto stood up from his seat. "I was about to leave anyway." Without another word to the two, he walked away without so much as glance towards his father. When he was out of earshot Dabi turned back to Enji.
"It's a shame Touya isn't alive to see you fall so low." He whispered to the now quirkless man, making him flinch. "I'm sure he would have loved this."
"You don't know anything." Enji snapped at him. Dabi just chuckled which sounded menacing as it was distorted by his helmet.
"Have a nice life, Enji Todoroki." The special agent continued to laugh as he walked away. Izuku was right, this is a much better revenge. Why kill him when he can let him live to watch him squirm. Like playing with an ant that was too funny to make it dance rather than burn it with a magnifying glass.
THE HRD-CITY OFFICE
Izuku smiled as he stared at his list of new hero candidates. The list was divided into those with quirks and those without. Even though his lists were segregated he wanted them all to get the same fair treatment. The same opportunities to grow and thrive.
There was one name that was submitted very recently, just this morning that excited him more than the others. It seems a seed he planted was starting to bear fruit. He sent an email to this individual, inviting him to visit at his earliest convenience. With that done he stood up and left his office. Immediately after stepping through the door, he was swarmed by his secretary.
"The Prime Minister wants an answer on whether or not you'll attend the expo on I-Island." He said while they walked towards the elevator. The secretaries worked as a group and rotated shifts weekly, sharing their information and amongst themselves to efficiently do their job. Izuku didn't know their names unfortunately. He simply referred to them as a collective.
"Tell his office he'll get an answer this evening, and that I'm very interested in going." Izuku talked as he walked through the building. He was hit by a series of important decisions like this every day. One of his goals with the HRD was to eventually get it to a point where it could run on its own without his supervision. All for One had it wrong. It's an exercise in futility trying to rule the world. The plan should be to get the world to rule itself.
On a personal note. Had the dawn of quirks not set back technology and research into artificial intelligence. Izuku believed that the digital brain in Nemesis could probably run the whole department by itself. If it was more advanced. But that was all just theoretical. Unfortunately, though powerful and analytic, Nemesis basically had the mind of a loyal dog. Only knowing what it was told, with no ability to think for itself.
"Also, the auditorium is filled and ready for the presentation." The secretary finished, interrupting his thoughts.
"Good work." Izuku stepped into the lift with the secretary and pressed the button for the ground floor. Waving at a few employees he passed he made his way to the auditorium. Silently he stepped out onto the stage and made his way to the podium in the center. The audience stood up and applauded as soon as they saw him. He looked out at every seat filled by his wonderful employees. Most of them handpicked.
"Good morning." He smiled at them. Off to the side, but in full view of the public was a dark-haired man handcuffed to an office chair that was being levitated in the air. The man looked scared and anxious as he floated above the stage. Despite being in sight of the audience, he didn't bother calling out for help. He knew it wouldn't do him any good. "Please be seated and we'll begin." Once everyone sat down Izuku took a glance at the list on his podium for this month's items on the agenda.
"First I believe congratulations are in order." The wielder of the gauntlet continued to smile at his employees. "Not to me, but to you." He gestured towards the crowd. "All of you. In five months, we've become a fully functioning government department. A few adjustments, some hiccups along the way, but here we are." Izuku applauded them all himself. "Please give yourselves a round of applause. You all made this possible. I'm just the guy with the infinity gauntlet. It's the people that make this all work." It started out small, but soon the whole auditorium was buzzing with excitement.
"Now our next item for the month." Izuku started when the cheering died down. "Our wonderful prime minister has once again rejected my proposal to tear down the former hero known as Allmight's hero agency building. Might Tower." He smiled wider hearing the boos and jeers of the crowd at the mention of the ex-symbol of peace. "However, we the HRD are proposing a new angle. To repurpose the empty building into another office for my department." The employees seemed interested in that idea. "We will be putting together a team to work on a petition for the project this week." During the entire presentation he never once looked at or acknowledged the bound man suspended above the stage. Until every item on his list was taken care of.
"For those of you wondering, we are joined this morning by one Kumo Uragirimono. 'Former' member of our little IT team." The chair holding the handcuffed man was lowered to the ground to rest in the middle of the stage. "Mister Uragirimono here is a plant from the Hero Public Safety Commission. Sent to spy on me and my department." Izuku's amused smirk never left his face as he explained.
"That's a lie!" Kumo shouted pathetically.
"There's no point in deception anymore. My crack security team has found out everything about you." Izuku left his podium and approached the bound man. "Even the fact that you're not actually quirkless are you Mister Uragirimono?" The spy paled when he said that. Many of the staff in the audience who were truly quirkless glared at the man. "According to this file. Your actual quirk allows you to telepathically interact with computers. It's how you were able to trick everyone into thinking you were good at your job. Such a rare quirk. How fascinating." Izuku chuckled. "I could see why the commission would send someone like this. You must have fed them information through the computers with your quirk. Right?"
"I'm not saying anything." Kumo spat out.
"Oh you don't have to. The commission will deny everything." Izuku smirked at him. "I'm sure they told you, when they assigned this mission, in the event of your capture you will not be claimed." He then waved for someone backstage to come out into the open. Out stepped a young man roughly the same age as Izuku himself with short brown hair and an athletic body in training attire. "Please introduce yourself."
"My name is Neji Ichiban." He introduced himself.
"Tell them what you are." Izuku commanded in a calm gentle tone.
"I'm quirkless." Neji stated with frustration.
"We met through the training program." Izuku addressed the audience next. "In addition to being quite athletic Neji here is also very intelligent. I saw your grades. You should be proud of your merit."
"That's…That's right." Neji looked down with a sigh.
"Unfortunately, due to his quirkless status he is still looked down upon by his peers." Izuku said with disgust. "Despite everything I've done, Neji is still not given the same opportunities as those with quirks. I don't think I need to show them your rejection letters from multiple hero academies." He then smirked. "Well that's about to change." Stepping close to Kumo who glared at the teen he held his gauntlet out. "I think Mister Uragirimono's quirk would be better suited for someone like you."
"W-Wait! No!" Kumo struggled in the chair he was bound to.
"Yes actually." The soul stone glowed in the palm of his device. "And before you start. Whatever rights you think you have, were forfeited when you decided to spy on my department." He reached out to grab his head.
"Wait! Please! I have names!" Kumo tried to plead by ratting out other spies in Midoriya's department.
"I already have those names and dealt with those spies. The only one left is you." Izuku smirked down at him as he took his quirk. The man screamed and passed out from the pain. Izuku then walked over to Neji and placed the gauntlet on his head, transferring the quirk to him. It wasn't a pleasant experience in either direction, but when it was over Neji stood proud and bowed gratefully.
"Thank you. Thank you, Director Midoriya." He said from his position. "I won't waste this opportunity. I promise."
"You don't have to bow to anyone, not now or ever." Izuku smiled down at him. "I expect great things from you." With that he ended the presentation with thunderous applause from the audience at seeing such a bright young youth given the quirk he deserved. The curtains closed in front of him. "Make sure to call the office if you experience any unpleasant symptoms with the quirk." He told Neji before leaving the auditorium. "Was that necessary sir?" This week's secretary asked as they reunited in the hall. "You usually just have the spies arrested."
"Your point?" Izuku asked as he walked back to the elevator.
"This public display. It just seemed a bit unnecessarily cruel." He said with a meek voice.
"An example needed to be made." The gauntlet user explained. "I grow tired of the commission sending throw aways to test my defenses. Like children they need to understand that their actions have consequences." That was true. However, what he didn't tell the secretary was how disgusted he was when it was revealed the spy lied about being quirkless just so he could infiltrate the HRD. He had to pay for that.
"Tell the prime minister's office that I will attend that expo." Izuku changed the subject, after taking a deep breath to cool down. "I'll be bringing the titan robots with me, with some of the support devices I developed." The elevator opened and the secretary rushed to carry out those orders. When he was gone, Izuku secretly pulled out a small vial of blood from his pocket. A little sample he took from the spy before removing his quirk. He allowed himself a small smirk as he pocketed it and headed back into his personal office, where he was met with an interesting surprise.
"What's this?" Izuku stared at the stacks of files on his desk. These were not here when he left.
"I'm finished." Aiba Manami aka La Brava the co-head of his internal security team announced proudly from his chair.
"With?" Izuku asked as he approached the desk.
"Nana Shimura and all her known associates. Plus, the associates of those associates and so on." She smiled at him. "I went back as far as I could, just like you told me, and dug up everything I could find."
"Amazing." The tall gauntlet user was impressed as he looked at the files. "Hard copies, just like I wanted. You and your partner will be rewarded handsomely for this."
"If you don't mind me asking director Midoriya. What was all this for exactly?" Aiba wanted to know what was so important about this Shimura woman and why he wanted to find all these people that had barely a connection to each other. Almost all of them were either dead or too old to be of any use.
"A secret personal matter I'm afraid that's all I can tell you my dear." Izuku deflected the question quickly. "Just know that you've helped me out greatly with this. Also, it would continue to help me if you kept quiet about this little project. That will be all." He waved her away dismissively. La Brava looked at him oddly then left his office without another word. Izuku sat down at his desk and opened the top file. He saw a headshot of Nana Shimura, recognizing the smiling woman's face from his dreams. He started flipping through the other files looking for familiar faces. If his theory was correct, then the other people he kept seeing in his dreams were in here somewhere.
He thought back to something All for One told him, once during their private meet ups, back when he worked for the League of Villains. When the old villain first explained his younger brother's quirk, One for All to him. A key piece of information that he dismissed at the time.
"What if it could stockpile more than just raw power?"
Finally got a new computer. Now I can throw away that pile of junk I was using before. I shouldn't say that since I got ten years out the old one. This new one is so fast and not constantly crashing. Its very exciting.
So I've decided to do something different with Endeavor. He's not getting his quirk back. I want to make that clear, but he is going to have a role in the climax of this arc. Which means I can't kill Dabi off like I originally planned, so he gets to live.
I'm thinking I might drop the code names. Looking back, it seemed like a cool idea. Now that I look at it. It doesn't make much sense for Todoroki, Iida and Uraraka to have code names. It does still for Stain, Dabi and Toga, because they are villains and its supposed to be a secret that they are working in the HRD. At the very least I wished I stuck with the Greek mythology naming theme. I might retcon that and then go back later and change it.
Any ideas? The code names can be a Greek god, goddess, titan, monster, weapon or character from that mythology. If I can get a good one for all six of Izuku's followers, then I'll seriously consider the retcon. Its fanfiction, we can be loose with rules.
That second part of the chapter was actually something I cut from the last chapter. I looked at it, changed some things and decided to put it back in. It was a lot more cruel in the original version. I toned it down a bit.
Enjoy. Thanks for reading.