"Hogwarts Smash!" I shouted, even though I felt bad doing it. As I had stood and turned to face Stain, I had palmed a handful of... let's call it mud. Which now shot towards the villains eyes.
Stain reacted faster than I expected. He turned the combat knife in his left hand so the broader blade blocked most of the muck. Not all of it, some splattered across his face. But it missed his eyes. In spite of that, his katana did not slow. He aimed for my neck. I brought my left hand up, and concentrated on my TK Armor.
Only instead of stopping or at least putting pressure on my armor, the blade kept going. It only slowed slightly. Almost on instinct rather than thought, I pushed back with my TK and spun out of the way. The sword brushed my palm, but not at an angle to cut me.
[Sword of Stendhal
A sword remade by master swordsmith Shirou Emiya using both his skill and Quirk. Not technically magical, but might as well be.
Durability: Resists corrosion and is stronger than most steels without being brittle.
Armor Piercing: Bypasses most armor, physical or supernatural (this only functions where the original blade edge is intact).]
I did a deep scan on Armor Piercing. Unless a Quirk, skill, or physical armor had 'Harden Armor', 'Indestructible' or a similar property, its effectiveness was reduced by eighty percent. Even if the remaining protection was strong enough to stop most or all of the attack, a quarter of the damage would get through. It was effectively a stronger version of the Sharpness ability Mo-chan's katana gained from the dungeon.
I also managed to glance at Stain.
[Name: ? ? (Stain)
Race: Human (Quirk metagene positive)
Active Title: Hero Killer
Health: ?/? (72%)
Stamina: ?/? (42%)
Ki: ?/? (66%)
Reduced Sense of Smell
The first thing that caught my eye in the limited data I received about Stain, was the lack of the Overconfident condition. The status ailment was still affecting Mordred and Native, and pinged my resistances again. Did the Hero Killer have some way to resist it? Or, more likely, was it somehow related to Stain and thus not targeting him? Could his Quirk generate multiple status ailments? Was someone else helping him? Or was Overconfident from Stain's Quirk and the Paralysis some sort of poison on his knives? I quickly discounted the last one, because there was no hidden data on his weapons, nor anything listed that would cause the Paralysis.
I dodged his next swing and tried to sweep his legs. He stepped back on one foot, and lifted the other over my attack. Then he stomped down and brought his katana down on my shoulder. He cut into my costume, through my TK Armor. But then Gamer's Body kicked in. So while I lost a good chunk of HP, he didn't break my skin. If he kept landing 100+ damage hits, it wouldn't be long until my HP was below half and I would get wounded.
Upper left slash. Right stab. Double slash.
I tried to get a counter in, a quick jab to his stomach. But Stain read me and blocked. He had realized I was cautious of his katana but less so of the combat knife. The latter would drain a bit of my energy, but couldn't bypass TK Armor. Better not to get hit by the knife, not as much of a problem if I did. So the murderer focused on the longer blade, but still mixed in attacks with the shorter weapon.
He aimed for my neck, but I ducked under. Then he tried a simple punt style kick to my crotch. I turned my knee in. I blocked the kick and only took a little damage, but he forced me back.
'Drive 1,' I thought as hard as I could. I had dropped my enhancements, to save Energy while I was trying to heal Native. I forgot that for a moment. Now that I remembered, I had to be careful. Drive 3 or just Drive 2 would drain me to empty far too quickly. Drive 4 was right out. Especially when accounting for his katana. But that sparked another realization. One from an old American isekai novel series Ami had recommended to me. A variation of the indestructible door fallacy.
If you can't beat the swordsman, beat the sword.
"Iida-san, what do you make of this?" Todoroki Shoto held up his phone to the taller boy.
'Sensei. On Echo Street. Dying person. We're under metal attack.'
"That the text is addressed to his sensei makes me believe Midoriya-san sent it to you by accident," the speedster said, "And I am not sure what he means by 'metal attack'. Perhaps a ferrokinetic?"
"Do you know who his mentor is?" Todoroki asked.
"Not..." Iida started to deny it, then paused, "On the train he, Penryu, and Cain said that they were interning together. Torono Agency, or something like that. I haven't heard of it before. Cain-san was just here with an older gentleman, possibly their mentor. But the pair of them went after the bear-like Nomu that broke off. Should we try to alert them?"
"If Midoriya is in trouble, it may be faster if we text Cain-san," the red and white-haired boy shook his head, "And go ourselves. Echo Street is close, though it is a longer street. We can get there faster, especially if Cain-san can't check her phone."
"Well reasoned," the straight-laced student agreed, "And I find myself thankful that Yaoyorozu suggested that we all exchange numbers. Please send a message to Cain, while I inform Manual of what is happening."
Then he darted over to his mentor.
"A classmate of mine texted that there is an issue on Echo Street," Iida to Manual, "Todoroki-kun and I would like to go check on him."
The Hero looked around and recognized that they would be moving away from the battle, not towards it.
"Okay, but be sure to contact me if there is another Nomu or any other major threat," he instructed the boy firmly.
"I will let Endeavor know," Manual added, "when he is done with the Nomus."
Iida jogged back to his classmate, faster than most could have sprinted.
"I have informed Manual," the speedster said, "Who will inform Endeavor when there is a free moment."
The students ran three blocks west to Echo Street. Then they paused.
"The southeast end of Echo Street is longer from here," Iida told Todoroki, having studied Hosu for his initial goal of hunting the Hero Killer, "I would suggest we split up, and that I go south east."
"Reasonable," the other boy nodded, "I will text you if I find Midoriya and Penryu."
"I will do the same," Iida nodded. Then he ran off.
Shoto turned northwest. But after only a matter of steps, his expression changed. He slipped his phone back into his pocket. He wouldn't need Iida's help. He would save Midoriya on his own. Shoto would take this chance to prove he was superior to the green-haired boy.
My health and Energy were both falling steadily. I managed to sneak an energy drink out of inventory. Only for Stain cut the bottle. It seemed accidental, like he was aiming for my hand.
Which was the biggest issue I was having. I couldn't read him. Stain's swordsmanship had no style, no flow. He never seemed to intentionally target my joints or vitals. He was flailing wildly, counting on instinct, physical ability, and combat experience. He probably had a high level of the Brawling skill like All Might, as much as it pained me to compare them. Or the sword equivalent of Brawling, if that was a separate skill. I didn't recall and couldn't take the time to look up skills and read their descriptions.
On the other hand, it was possible that the Hero Killer was a master swordsman and had physical attributes in the low Superhuman range. The fact that he was matching my Strength and Quickness implied the latter. In that case, even with High Speed Vision and all my various combat skills, I wouldn't be able to read him.
Then a jab of his katana at my shoulder twisted wildly. Stain drew the blade down my right forearm. My uniform sleeve shredded. I considered requesting bracers for my next upgrade. The ragged edge hit my arm, through my TK Armor. And my HP went below half. For a moment pain flared from the rough cut, overcoming Gamer's Body. There was a small spray of blood. The sword was coated. Stain gave me a nasty grin and brought the katana up. He broadly licked the blade.
[Status Resistance failed. Paralysis Resistance improved (lvl 5).]
[You are paralyzed.]
Unlike Mo-chan, I did not collapse. My TK Aura and Armor held me up, even as all of my muscular tissue went limp. I could control my eyes and tongue, but not well. Everything else was like a cold, wet noodle.
Stain flinched. Watched me for a moment. Then his grin returned.
"Had me for a moment. It must be part of your Quirk. But you can't move."
I said nothing. I couldn't.
'Status,' I ordered silently. I had no skill points unspent. I remembered Nezu-sensei admonishing me for spending all my points to boost Skill Jockey. But I didn't regret it. And I had another option.
'Add 2 each to Endurance and Determination.'
By improving the related attributes, I could get another chance to resist, with better odds.
[Status Resistance failed. Paralysis Resistance improved (lvl 7).]
Slightly better, since the skill level was more important than attribute bonuses.
"My heart says to finish the fake and let you go," Stain said.
'Add 2 each to Endurance and Determination.'
[Status Resistance failed. Paralysis Resistance improved (lvl 9).]
"But my instincts are screaming to kill you now," the Villain continued, "Before you become more powerful and are corrupted by the system."
'2 more to E and D.' I thought faster.
[Status Resistance failed. Paralysis Resistance improved (lvl 11).]
"And I haven't survived this long ignoring my instincts."
He lifted his battered katana. Considered me for a moment, as if deciding the best place to hit me.
If I had Pause, I could have fed points to Endurance and Determination one at a time until my resistance succeeded. But I didn't have time for that. I probably only had time for one or two more tries.
'Add 16 to Luck!' I shouted in my own head.
Luck has reached 'Peak Human' tier. Please select a bonus Talent.
Gamer's Body II
Resistance to Physical Ailments and improves other Gamer's Body I powers.
Increased chance and damage of critical hits.
… Comes Great Interest Rates
Increased money drops in Dungeons.]
'Thank you, The Gamer,' I thought, 'Gamer's Body II!'
[Status ailment Paralysis resisted. Paralysis Resistance improved (lvl 12).]
'If I make it through this, I'm going to beg Tsu to let me give her a four hour backrub while she uses her paralyzing oil,' I mentally promised. I was mildly surprised that didn't generate a quest. Then again, Tsu probably wouldn't make me beg very hard before agreeing.
The katana was dropping towards my head. Stain was trying to bisect me. He wouldn't have succeeded, but taking the hit would have been costly for me. And if I was still paralyzed, he could have just followed it up.
I watched the blade fall in not quite slow motion. Studied it. Found the ideal spot. Held still. Waited for the perfect moment.
"Hogwarts Smash times Two!" I yelled.
With the katana only a few centimeters above my head, my right knuckles hit the flat of the sword above the deepest and most obvious crack in the blade. My left fist punched the opposite side, just below the crack. In addition to the physical contact, I launched a TK attack through each punch.
There was a cracking sound, then the katana shattered. The top two-thirds of the blade flew away. A spray of shards hit me, but failed to break my Armor. And Stain staggered forward from the change in his momentum. As he did, I reversed my arm. I drove my elbow into the remains of the Villain's nose. Both the impact and the pain forced him back.
Rather than press, I took another energy drink out of my inventory. I blasted the top off with a small burst of TK. I gulped it down.
Bloody soaking into his mask, Stain glared at me. His eyes widened. Then he glanced at the remains of his katana, and his pupils narrowed to pinpricks.
"You... YOU!" he howled.
Then, unexpectedly, he stabbed the broken tip of the katana into his left bicep. He ripped it back out. Brought it to his lips, and drank his own blood.
Stain charged me, moving faster than before. And his swings were harder, too. The bigger problem was I had miscalculated. His katana was now the size of a tanto, and the majority of the remaining edge was undamaged, sharp, and thus still carried the Armor Piercing enhancement.
The potion wasn't recovering my Energy. It was a stalemate against the drain of Aura and Armor. And Drive1 wasn't enough anymore. Instead, despite the cost, I focused my telekinetic power on defense. Layering my Armor and holding down the air between the layers. My training with Torino-sensei was paying off, but I wasn't sure it would be enough.
[Armored air attained.
TK Armor active mode 'N Armor' unlocked.
Focusing on the air instead of pure telekinesis, you can create a barrier with the 'Harden Armor' property.]
That slightly mitigated the Energy cost of my new technique, and allowed me to stop Stain without losing as much HP. But he was still pushing me back and draining my Energy with his insane barrage.
Slash, stab, double slash, kick. I tried counter that by catching his foot and pushing him away. But he tore his leg free, sacrificing his boot. Then both knife and broken sword slashed at my left elbow, with enough force to hit me again and draw more blood. Thankfully, he didn't try to paralyze me again.
I was ready to sacrifice my dwindling reserves for a boost back to Stain's level. Before I could finish the mental incantation, the temperature in the alley plummeted. A wall of ice appeared between us. Thankfully, Mordred and Native were on my side. As was our savior.
"You can't handle a swordsman?" Todoroki-kun addressed me. There was a smug note to his voice. I didn't respond to the provocation.
"He can paralyze you if he gets your blood," I explained instead, "That's what happened to Mo-chan. And presumably how he got Native. I was able to break free with my power, but I'm not sure how long he can maintain it, or if he can do anything else with it. Can you buy me a minute?"
"You can do what you want," he told me. The ice cracked.
"I don't need your help," Todoroki-kun concluded, though he was frowning at the barrier.
"I thought you didn't want to be like your father," I said flatly, "Arrogant, and dismissive of others."
I could guess that the Overconfidence ailment was pushing him. So while I didn't want to, I was willing to push back. Push his psychological buttons.
Todoroki's lips twitched lower, and his eyes narrowed.
"Fine," he said, "One minute."
He reinforced the wall. And then fired a few spiky balls of ice over. Stain swiped them out of the air, and went back to chipping at the divider.
I ran. I collected Clarent. Then Mo-chan's unnamed katana. Finally the swordswoman herself. She glared at me silently as I princess carried her over to Native. I set her next to him, in a more comfortable position. I bent down, and whispered in her ear.
"We are under a telepathic attack," I whispered, "Called 'Overconfidence'. Your dad wouldn't be proud of you, acting like this. You are better than this."
She turned to look at me, her expression softening.
"Whatever this is is also blocking my Chat abilities," I told her, "So I can't call for help. I texted, but I don't know if sensei saw it. So we have to hold out as long as we can. I'm counting on you as our last line of defense."
I wrapped her right hand around Clarent's hilt, and her left around the katana.
"You can control these, even though you can't move your body, right?"
Her eyes dipped in agreement.
"If Stain gets past us..."
She eye-nodded again.
"Thank you," I told her.
I paused for a second. Regretting it even as I did it, I took out the healing potion. I started to give it to Native. Then I paused. I gave him half, and the other half to Mordred.
I heard the wall break. It had only been forty seconds and change. Not that I would mention that.
Unless it was necessary.
I grabbed a bottle off the ground. Darted back to my classmate.
"Hogwarts Smash!" I shouted. Mostly to get Stain's attention and let Todoroki-kun know what I was doing. The glass shot through the broken ice. Stain cut it down with his military dagger. And did not flinch as his bare foot crushed the sharp glass.
"He's not feeling pain," I realized, "is he able to selectively paralyze his nerves?"
"Well, aren't you a bright one?" Stain growled.
"Then simply chilling him will not work," Todoroki said.
"It should," I said, "But not until he has been cold enough, long enough, to do real damage."
Stain slashed at me with his tanto and Todoroki-kun with his dagger. I blocked his wrist rather than the broken sword. Todoroki-kun wrapped the blade in a ball of ice. Which he caught in his hands. Then he thrust his left hand forward. A gout of flame shot at Stain. The Villain ducked aside. He slammed his knife against the ground to knock the ice off. Then he rose up, stabbing both blades at me. I knocked them away and kicked at his knee. He managed to dodge me, but took a glancing hit from an ice spike instead.
"Fight me one on one, cowards," Stain hissed.
"If your partner comes out and fights me, hypocrite," I shot back.
Stain's eyes narrowed. Then there was a scraping sound, and we all glanced over. Mo-chan was using the wall to unsteadily drag herself to her feet.
"What are you, a type O?" Stain groaned.
"Fine," he said darker, a moment later, "Creature, get out here."
A being emerged from the shadow. Its arms and legs were disproportionately long for its torso. It had a 20 centimeter, pointed and razor sharp nail extending from the second and fourth digit on each hand. But most notably, it was all black. Vantablack given form. Skin, nails, eyes. Even its beak and exposed brain. It was only wearing a pair of spats, as dark as a the rest of its body.
"Nomu," I flinched. I had expected Stain's ally to be a Human, watching from a distance. Not another of the League's victims slash monsters, standing dangerously close and completely unnoticed.
[Name: Test Type Infiltration Nomu
Race: Nomu (altered former Human) (Quirk metagene overload)
Height: 106 cm
Weight: 46 kg
Active Title: Disruption Assassin.
- Shadow Meld
- Assassin Claw
- Telepathy Lock
- Ego Burn
Quirk Resonance: Ego Burn effect range extended by Telepathy Lock (from touch to approximately 223 meters)
It was nowhere near as tough as the USJ Nomu. In spite of that, something about it set me on edge. After all, the first Nomu had only been a third of my level at the time, but was still more powerful then I was at the time. This one was half my level. And even though I knew someone was nearby, I had been unable to detect it.
"Kill them," Stain ordered, pointing at us. The Nomu jumped forward, its talons spread wide, like some sort of inky bladed scissors.
Whirrrrrrr. Slam. CRASH.
The Nomu disappeared, and then slammed into a dumpster at the far end of the alley.
"You didn't text me," Iida-kun told Todoroki-kun, using his disappointed class president voice.
"It's not his fault," I said quickly, "That Nomu has a power that makes everyone around it aggressive and distracted."
"Nomu," Iida's from deepened, "Then this is..."
"Some new flunky of the League of Villain," Todoroki said.
"He attacked Native, and then Mo...chan and I when we tried to help," I explained, specifically avoiding Stain's name for obvious reasons, "And the Nomu also has some ability that lets it hide in shadows.
"Well, then," the speedster noted, and then nine spotlights spread across his armor and helmet turned on, six facing forward and three back. The alley was lit up and the Nomu hissed. Stain tried to stab at Iida. I hit the Villain with a weak but silent Asgard Smash, knocking his attack aside. Then I remembered. I reached into one of the pouches on my belt. For real this time, not as a mask for using Inventory. I pulled out three flashlights. Two smaller, subtler ones meant for investigating. And one that could temporarily flash-blind a person or be used as a small mace.
"Give those here," Todoroki insisted. He pulled out a light of his own. And then froze them all in a ball. The crystal diffraction spread the light further, creating a steady glow in the areas where Iida's torches didn't burn away the darkness.
"What do we do now?" Iida-kun asked, as the Nomu started to approach us again.
"I texted our mentor before the Nomu's power hit us," I said, "We have to hold out for backup."
"Your text went to me," Todoroki said flatly, "That is why were are here. I forwarded it to Cain, since I did not know who you were interning with. But we can't know when she will see it, with all of the destruction the other Nomus are causing."
Stain smirked at that.
"Then... we... just... win..." Mordred forced out. She lifted her right hand, and Clarent floated unsteadily before her. But then she shot me a wink.
"That sounds good to me," Iida agreed, sounding very Overconfident.
But before I could try to rattle it out of him, he charged the Nomu.
"Drive two," I mumbled, in spite of my previous worries.
Status Changes for Midoriya Izuku:
Max Health: 1030 → 1106
Max Energy: 1774 → 1925
(E)ndurance: 67 → 74
(D)etermination: 74 → 80
(L)uck: 34 → 50
Attribute: 48 → 20
Dodge (A/Q) LB – Catch: 55 → 56
Boxing (S): 44 → 45
Ki Blast (D/W) LB: 25 → 26
Telekinetic Attack (I/A) LB: 32 → 33
Telekinetic Armor (I/E) - N Armor: 51 → 54
Telekinetic Aura (I) LB: 52 → 53
Tai Chi Quan (A/S): 23 → 24
Ki Diagnosis (D/W): 34 → 35
Paralysis Resistance (E/D): 3 → 12
Telekinetic Shaping (I/W): 11 → 13
Berserk Resistance (D/W): 4 → 5
Confusion Resistance (D/W): 4 → 5
Gamer's Body II
Author's Note: Between the fight scene (which I'm not entirely satisfied with) and IRL stuff (work, holiday commitments, Pokedex), this took way longer than I wanted. But it's here now. And for anyone wondering about Stain's boost, Izuku is on the right track. Stain paralyzed his own pain receptors, so he can push his body past its limits, and also partially paralyzed his own cardiovascular system to force more blood to his muscles and less to other areas. Like an even more dangerous form of blood doping.
Also Happy New Year.
Author's Note II (new 2023/02/01): I'm doubting my next chapter. I could uses a few people to bounce plot off for feedback. Anyone interested, please PM me.