Author's note: Fair warning, this one's a bit of an info dump. But I also have an outline for chapters 3-13, so it looks like this one will be continuing...

The funeral for Bakugou Katsuki was held three days later.

It was pretty much an emotional rollercoaster for me.

I was sad, of course. Kacchan was my first friend. Even if things had been strained between us over the last decade or so, I still considered him as more than just a classmate. And then there were his parents; of course they felt terrible. And while I didn't know Bakugou-san that well, Mitsuki-oba-san had always been good to me. So I felt bad for them.

I was mad, of course. Mostly at that villain. But it was dead, burned to ash by Endeavour. Kacchan hadn't been hurt by his flames. It was already too late; Kacchan had suffocated and also been partially digested. Unfortunately, there was more to it than that.

See, the school had offered our grade the afternoon off, so we could attend the funeral. Almost everyone took them up on the offer. But only one of them showed up. The quiet, blue haired girl from the class next door. I didn't know her name, and didn't feel comfortable approaching her. I wasn't sure how she was connected to Kacchan. Had she liked him? Hate and feared him? Or was she just that respectful?

I tried to give the others some credit. Maybe it was just to hard for them. I know in their place, Kacchan would have gone to the arcade, not able to admit to his feelings. Or face his own mortality through the death of a classmate. I still couldn't help but think that they should have shown up.

I was happy, surprisingly. Not that Kacchan was dead. No, it was because my dad's company actually agreed to fly him back for the funeral, so I got to see him for once. Even better, some Heroes came. Mount Lady, Kamui Woods, and Death Arms all came. They all apologized to Kacchan's parents, for failing to save him. Endeavour was too busy to come, but sent a representative from his agency to offer his regrets.

Years later, I learned that that was a lie. Endeavour didn't even know Kacchan's name, or bother to learn when the funeral was. His daughter, the 'representative', did it all on her own.

Both mom and Mitsuki-oba-san were inconsolable. That didn't stop them from trying to comfort each other. Which only seemed to make thing worse. It hurt me to seem them like that.

"Mitsuki-oba-san," I said, edging slowly closer to the sobbing ladies. Both moms turned to look at me, as did Bakugou-san.

"I just..." I stuttered. Then I took a breath and steeled myself, "Kacchan and I both had the same dream. To get into UA and become Heroes. His dream was even greater, to be the #1 Hero, while I would have been happy just to make it in. But not anymore. From now on, I'm going to work even harder. Hard enough for both of us. And I will become the #1 Hero. For both of us."

"I'm sure Katsuki-kun would have been very happy to hear that," Bakugou-san told me kindly.

"Really?" I blinked, "I thought he would have called me 'stupid Deku' and yelled that I would never surpass him."

"Ha," Mitsuki-oba-san barked a laugh, smiling for the first time that afternoon, "That does sound more like our son."

"'Deku'?" Kacchan's dad copied me, "Did he call you that?"

"Yeah," I nodded with a sheepish grin, "It's another way to read my name. And he said it fit me because I was like a deku (wooden doll); cheap, empty, practically worthless, and unable to do anything on my own."

He flinched at that, and the moms exchanged glances.

"You know that brat was never good at expressing himself," Mitsuki-oba-san told me with fake levity, "He probably just never thought to mention the other side."

"Other side?" I prompted, confused.

"Yes," she said firmly, clamping her hands on my shoulders, "Because you are empty, that means you can be filled up. Just like you can paint a blank wooden doll to be a Hero, or an anime character, you can become anything. I think deep down, Katsuki believed that. And I believe you will become a Hero."

I didn't miss how my mom turned away, so I wouldn't see the look on her face.

[Congratulations! You have read the entire Basic Manual (seriously, who does that anymore?). Wit +3, Endurance +2, Determination +2, Japanese Language skill improved (lvl 12).]

If I was going to use my power, live up to Mitsuki-oba-san's expectations, and become the #1 Hero, I needed to know everything about my power. Fortunately, like all good games, it came with instructions.

There were ten tabs when I called up the interface. [Status], [Inventory], [Skills], [Talents], [Party], and [System] were all visible and active. There was one concealed tab between [Inventory] and [Skills], and three of them between [Party] and [System].

Unfortunately, [System] did not include a save function. It did let me turn on a customizable Heads Up Display, which I played around with a bit before turning it off. Seeing a floating display of my health was a little disconcerting. And a little morbid. I could also choose from a couple of styles for the interface wihdows and change the interface language. Most importantly, there was the manual.

[Status] was a list of my current abilities. It was also where I could spend saved up points to improve my attributes. Just as a test, I put one more point into Luck, not wanting to have the lowest possible value.

Speaking of Attributes, there were a number of ways I could improve them. Just by naturally doing things associated with them, they would go up. More the harder I worked. Except for Luck, apparently, another reason I put a point into it. The second way was just as obvious, every time I leveled up, I got seven points to spend. Other people only got five, which was a benefit of my power. Similarly, I got three skill points per level, instead of two. And while most people got one talent point every third level, I got them every third level and every fifth level, too. Except for multiples of 15, then one of the two talent points was delayed a level. Anyway, as I did with Luck, I could spend my points freely, improve any Attribute or Skill I wanted without even trying. According to the manual, other people only spent their points subconsciously.

I could also improve my attributes by unlocking certain talents. And there was a fourth method, but it was hidden.

[Inventory] showed what I was wearing and using, equipment if you will. And also let me store a small number of items in an extra-dimensional space. I only had ten blocks of storage, in a two by five grid. But small items could stack in some cases. Both a handful of pencils and three of my Hero Notebooks only took one block, but each of my school books took up one of its own. My desk chair took four blocks, and even when I took everything else out, I couldn't store my bed.

[Skills] gave a deep explanation of the skills I had. It also showed new skills I could unlock, with basic descriptions. I could spend points to buy or improve any of those Skills. Also like Attributes, I could improve Skills by using them. There were also Skill books, which I could use to improve or unlock a Skill, but the book would be consumed in the process. It seemed my chemistry book qualified, but I wasn't going to destroy school property. There was a greyed out way to improve my Skills, too.

The Skills tab also showed Skills I was close to being able to unlock, along with the prerequisites. As well as dozen of greyed out skills I was either not close to, or would never be able to unlock.

[Talents] was much the same; what I have and what I could get. Except that Talents could not be improved, they were one and done. And the only way to get them was to spend points or use the hidden method.

My Talents themselves were a bit more interesting.

[Studious] simply gave me a constant bonus to improve my Wit and Intuition, as well as any associated skills.

[Gamer's Body] let me heal almost anything with a good meal and eight hours of sleep. There were some status ailments it could not cure, and those might block my healing. It also reduced feelings of pain and fatigue. Finally, it gave me a single 'Energy' pool, instead of separate pools for 'Stamina', 'Mana', 'Ki', and 'Psions'. My Energy was only equal to the two highest pools I would have normally had, but since I could freely use it for anything, it was a decent trade off.

Except magic. I had purchasable Talents for Psychic powers and Ki powers, but nothing for magic. Maybe it wasn't real, or maybe they were just Talents I couldn't access yet. Either way, all three of them required me to buy Talents, before I could start using the Skills. And I was carefully considering which one to buy first.

[Gamer's Mind] made me immune to mundane fear, confusion, surprise, etc. Basically, I wouldn't freeze up in battle. It also gave me resistance to mental status ailments from Quirks. Or, I guess, other powers like mine. If they existed. It also protected me from Survivor's Guilt, PTSD, and similar mental issues. That part worried me a bit, but I quickly got over it.

[Party] was just like it sounded. I could invite up to four people into my 'Party'. If I did so, they would get access to their own [Status], [Skills], and [Talents] tabs. As well as more restricted access to the [Party] tab. It also meant we shared any experience points we got, but increased the overall total.

That was the other thing that struck me. There were multiple mentions of XP in the book, and both I and my Skills had levels. But none of the screens offered me any sort of XP total or gauges.

"So now what?" I mumbled to myself, "Obviously I need to train. The UA Exams are in ten months. I'm going to need equipment. And I should see if any of the books in the bookstore will unlock new skills, especially physical ones. And I need to decide if I want to get the first Ki Talent, or the first Psychokinesis Tal..."

I was cut off by a pair of quick, sharp pings. Accompanied by pop up screens.

[Quest Alert
Oldest Ally
Tell your mother about "The Gamer" and convince her to help you attend UA.
Advance on your allowance to buy training materials
Talent: ? ?
Talent: ? ?
Failure Penalties:
None (However the reward talents are normally not available until higher levels and you must purchase them on your own.)
Time Limit: 76 Hours
(Accept) (Decline)]

I immediately hit accept, having been planning to talk to my mom and ask for an advance anyway. That just made the decision easier. But the second screen made me shiver.

The Path of a Hero
Gain entrance to UA Academy in the Hero Course.
100,000 XP
5 bonus skill points
2 bonus talent point
Failure Penalties:

Immediate and permanent loss of "The Gamer"
Time Limit: 314 Days

I did some quick math in my head.

[Calculated a future date. +1 Wit, Mathematics, Basic skill improved (lvl 2)]

314 days. One week after the UA entrance exams. One shot, or I would lose my power. Forever.

Then, as I watched, the clock ticked over to midnight, and the counter went down to 313.

I hit the accept button. And then went to bed. Tomorrow was Saturday, so I would have time to talk to my mom then.

But before I fell asleep, I checked something on instinct (and got another +1 Intuition for it). The blank tab between [Inventory] and [Skills] said [Quests] and was no longer disabled.

Current Status:

Name: Izuku Midoriya
Age: 14
Level: 2
Active Title: The Gamer
Health: 18/18
Energy: 52/52


(S)trength: 3
(A)gility: 4
(E)ndurance: 5
(Q)uickness: 3
(W)it: 19
(I)ntuition: 15
(C)harisma: 5
(D)etermination: 8
(L)uck: 2

Unused Points:
Attribute: 8
Skill: 3
Talent: 1


Modern Tech (W): 13
Computer Gaming (W/A): 14
Japanese Language (W/C): 12
English Language (W/C): 4
Scientific Method (W/I): 6
Oral Hygiene (C): 3
Analyze (W): 1
Mathematics, Basic (W): 2
Dodge (A): 1
Chemistry, Basic (I): 1
Creative Writing (C): 1


Gamer's Body
Gamer's Mind