Friendly reminder: the last chapter opened with a bullet point list recapping the key events related to the escape. So go check that if you need a refresher! Enjoy!

Chapter 131


Pandemonium reigned on the street as the monstrous creature went on its rampage, leaving molten holes in the road with each step. A swipe of its hand toppled streetlights with ease, the twisted metal still glowing dangerously hot and a hazard to the surging crowd trying to flee. Already several people had been shoved into the melted metal and left with severe burns, their cries cutting through the air.

They still fared better than the one man the creature actually struck before being pulled to safety, though. Agonized wails accentuated the mounting terror, the smell of charred flesh and blood clogging the air only added to the overall panic. The panicked shouts increased further as the creature halted in the middle of the street and its jaw unhinged like a snake's, preparing to release another ear-shattering screech.

Instead, a dark object flew into its open mouth, making it choke as something black and powdery burst in its throat.


The booming voice had people's heads snapping upwards to see two figures on the roof of a nearby building, capes billowing in the breeze. The darkness made it hard to see their features, but the sight of them jumping off the roof and bouncing on the air itself was enough for several to recognize them.

"It's Gentle Criminal and Phantom Shadow!" someone yelled, voice tinged with hysteria and disbelief. The famed phantom thief duo raced towards the creature, Phantom Shadow flinging more black pouches at its still-open mouth. It stumbled back as they burst inside its jaws, hacking and clawing at its tongue. A shadowy hand shot from beneath the younger thief's cloak, punching the beast in the center of its chest and sending it stumbling back.

The sight was enough to momentarily quiet the panicked shouts, people halting to watch in shock. And in that momentary silence, the voice of Gentle Criminal rang loud and clear, echoing with a sense of authority rarely heard.

"We may not be heroes, but we cannot turn a blind eye to such a frightful situation!" he declared, never tearing his gaze away from his monstrous foe. "We will hold this creature back, so all of you, get to safety!"

His words were enough to break the stunned spell, everyone bursting into motion once more to resume fleeing. "In here!" someone yelled from the open door of the restaurant, and panicked pedestrians began scrambling towards it and other businesses now opening their doors.

Danjurou focused on the creature—the noumu, as the children called it—as Fumikage moved closer to his side. "I couldn't even knock it down," the teenager murmured, just loud enough for him to hear over the chaos below, and he hummed in acknowledgement. It had been pushed back but showed no signs of being bothered, apparently more perturbed by the explosive ink pouch still coating its mouth than the punch.

Not many could weather a heavy hit from Dark Shadow like that, especially with the darkness of night boosting its strength. They already knew their enemy was strong, but this just further solidified its status as a threat. Between its sturdiness, that Quirk-enhanced shriek and its molten-hot feet and hands, this would not be an easy battle.

"This is far from a good matchup for us," he mused aloud, and allowed a vicious smirk to take root as he continued, "But that will not stop us! Not with so many people counting on us!"

Fumikage nodded in mute agreement, eying the noumu warily as it shook its head a final time, unhinged jaw swinging wildly. It seemed to have gotten the worst of the ink out and released a furious roar that shook their bones, but not nearly as badly as its earlier shriek. Still, it seemed to be preparing to release another Quirk-enhanced screech, and the people still on the street began yelling apprehensively and covering their ears.

And then something hurled at its face and exploded into pink goo.

"Shut up, you stupid oversized monster!" yelled a new voice while the noumu struggled to pull the sticky goo away from its mouth. They turned to see two more figures on the restaurant rooftop, and Danjurou's smirk grew into a wide grin, eyes glinting with excitement.

"Spectacular timing, Miss Punk Step!" he called. "It appears to be time for a glorious team up between rivals!"

"Save banter for when we're not fighting a freaky monster!" Jirou hollered back and turned to Kaminari, who had one arm aimed at the noumu. "Taser, do it now!"

"On it!" A silver needle shot from his gauntlet and hit the sticky goo dead-center, and electricity sparked along the wire attached to it. The moment the spark reached the goo it ignited and exploded, the blast managing to knock the creature back with an agonized shriek. Fumikage didn't waste the opening, descending upon the noumu with Dark Shadow's arms springing from his cloak to finally shove the creature off its feet.

"Bullseye!" Kaminari whooped, pumping a fist in the air.

"Don't celebrate yet!" Danjurou yelled in warning. "I doubt that will be enough to keep it down!" Even as he spoke the creature staggered back to its feet, peeling away the now-burnt goo and ripping some of the skin around its mouth with it to leave the muscles beneath exposed. It showed no sign of being bothered by the injury, merely flexing its jaw a bit as if to test the mobility.

"Don't give it a chance to shriek again!" Fumikage hollered, flinging another ink pouch at its open mouth. This time the beast swatted it away though, releasing another bone-rattling roar as it charged forward. Fumikage narrowly managed to dodge its swipe, red-hot claws barely missing him.

Danjurou dove to grab his sidekick's arm and hoist him into the air, quickly bouncing out of the noumu's reach and creating a new elastic foothold high above. The beast roared in anger, the newfound distance doing little to dampen the bone-rattling effects. "Madness," Fumikage murmured as he gazed at the wrecked street, the damage even clearer from their new vantage point.

Danjurou found his attention drawn elsewhere though, eyes riveted on scattered pockets of smoke rising all across the city skyline. "It appears we're not the only ones fighting a monster," he declared grimly, and Fumikage's head snapped towards him in alarm.

"You mean there are more of these beasts?"

"I have no reason to doubt otherwise." His lips curled in displeasure, knowing instinctively that similar battles awaited at each plume of smoke. The thought of more noumu like this one rampaging around the city cast a grim air over the duo.

Still, he could not let that dread deter him. He stood tall, his resolve hardened as he turned back to their foe. "Come, we must hurry and vanquish this monster as quickly as possible!" His sidekick nodded, and the duo quickly jumped back down to the roof where the vigilante duo waited to inform them of the other likely attacks. As they moved he did his best to quash the pit of unease in his stomach. After all, he knew a grand distraction when he saw one.

And whatever used monsters like this as a distraction could only be part of a truly nefarious scheme.

"Hurry up, move faster!"

"I'm running as fast as I can!"

"Shit, shit, shit, this is so bad!"

Everyone's voices blended together behind Koichi as he raced down the street, their words drowned out by the panicked shouts and increasingly distant sounds of fighting. The vigilante had no issues sliding across the ground to artfully dodge the frantic crowds, the streets in a state of disorganized chaos even a couple blocks away from the battle. Vaguely he registered Asui leaping along and keeping pace with him, but he didn't know who else might have followed. And at the moment he didn't care to check, focused solely on getting to the van.

Things had moved fast when they got the text declaring the escape would be happening now. Their plans were officially out the window, and Koichi didn't linger long enough for the others to discuss their next move before taking off. All he knew was that he had to get to the Villain Alliance's base ASAP, and the escape van was a good five blocks away from the restaurant.

Only years of practice allowed him to smoothly time his turn to slide into the alley where they'd parked the van, Asui missing the turn entirely and having to double back. By the time she caught up he'd already gotten the keys out and yanked the driver's door open. "Any chance you can grab the others with your tongue?" he asked as he jumped inside and turned on the engine.

"I can, kero," the frog girl replied.

"Then hop in the back and reel them in!" He slammed the door shut just as Asui opened another door to hop inside, quickly darting towards the back. She managed to keep her balance as the van peeled out of the alley and onto the road, throwing open one of the rear doors.

"Holy shit," a male voice yelped as he was yanked into the van.

"You couldn't just wait for us to catch up?" a girl asked, sounding more shocked than anything.

"No time," Koichi said, eyes focused on the road. He'd been a vigilante for years, he knew how fast things could go to shit. And right now, there were five teens breaking into a place full of villains to rescue three more teens and an injured hero. A place currently under attack of some kind. Any reluctance about his role in this crazy rescue plan flew out the window when he realized just how urgent the situation was.

He spared a brief glance at the rearview mirror as he heard the rear door shut, seeing the two newcomers were Spinner and Kendo. The younger vigilantes looked winded as they collapsed onto seats, neither of them possessing Quirks really suited for traveling extended distances in quick bursts like that. Kendo's presence further confirmed that the original plans were out the window since she'd originally been on distraction duty.

"Okay, so what's the plan now?" she asked, her words stilted and punctuated by gasps as she tried to catch her breath. "Get there, and wait? Or what?"

"Hagakure-chan said there's a fight in her message, kero," Asui piped up. "I think that must mean some sort of outside attack. She hasn't said anything else since then though, kero, and I'm not sure it's safe to message her."

"Wait, are you in that chat or whatever?" Spinner asked.

"No, Jirou-chan lent me her phone so I could check it, kero." Another glance at the mirror showed her holding two different phones in her lap with both screens lit up.

"It's definitely safer to not respond," Koichi said. "They're probably inside the base by now, and if someone's phone goes off it might get them discovered. Also, can one of you pull up a GPS or something so I know where to go?" The last part came out closer to a whine. He might know the general direction, but he had zero knowledge of Nabu's layout beyond what he'd seen so far. Which was basically nothing.

"I would, but I need both phones free, kero."

"Oh, right! Sorry!" Kendo scrambled to pull out her own cell phone, and soon an electronic voice sounded telling him to turn in two blocks. "Why do you need both phones though? I get the one with Hagakure, but...?"

"I'm still waiting to hear back from Rogue-san and Nettmegg-chan, kero. They haven't responded."

"Is that... weird?"

"I think so, yes."

While the girls talked Spinner took Kendo's phone and headed to the front of the van, crawling over the center console so he could slip into the passenger seat next to Koichi. "So, any guesses on what she meant about the fight?" he asked as he buckled himself in. "Think there's some sort of attack going on like Asui said? Or they're just fighting each other all of a sudden?"

Koichi grimaced at the question. "Don't know, but whatever it is, no way it's good." After the past few years, he'd learned to go in expecting the worst and hoping for the best. In this case, "best" would be everyone already outside waiting for them safe and sound, rescue victims included, so they could drive off immediately.

However, his gut instinct told him that the timing with the "noumu" attack wasn't a coincidence. Which meant that the "worst"... Well, he just had to hope those expectations wouldn't be met.

The first sign anything was wrong was when the building shook.

"Earthquake?" X-Less asked with a huff, the former hero lifting his freshly refilled glass from his table so the drink wouldn't spill.

"That or a fight somewhere," Sharkyonara retorted, the shark man downing his own drink. The remark got a snort from the gorilla-armed woman to his left.

"You kidding? Hero fights haven't been that flashy since Endeavor kicked the bucket. At least not around here." The shaking stopped at that point, and she waved an arm. "See? Already over."

"Don't say that, you'll jinx things," X-Less said dryly, just before the trembling resumed stronger than before. The glasses on the wall behind the counter rattled noisily as they bounced with the motion, and Kurogiri turned to look at them sharply. Dabi rose from his stool at the counter, feeling a surge of wariness at the bartender's own alarm. When he did, one fact quickly became clear to him:

The floor wasn't shaking.

"Shit!" he blurted as he instinctively ducked down to the floor, getting curious looks from the other patrons just before the wall exploded. Glass shards and wood flew everywhere, the counter shielding Dabi from the worst of it. Kurogiri warped out of the way to avoid the blast, appearing on the other side of the counter unharmed. Others weren't so lucky though, several yelling in pain and alarm as they got buffeted by the sharp debris.

A teenager in a pizza uniform stepped through the new hole in the wall, glancing around almost like a tourist. "Hoh, so this is the Villain Alliance's famous bar, huh?" he asked, stepping on top of the counter. "More stylish than I expected. Well, besides all the broken glass and dust. Pretty dirty."

"That's your fault, asshole!" one of the patrons hissed angrily, reptilian frills around their neck flaring and flashing with yellow light.

"Is it? Maybe the wall was just flimsy."

"The wall only broke because you broke it!"

The teen cocked his head to his side. "Ah, well. That seems more like a you problem." While they talked Dabi got off the ground and backed away, putting some distance between himself and the newcomer. Anyone with a brain could tell he wasn't a delivery boy, which made the pizza bag he carried all the more suspicious.

"How'd you even get back there?" Magne growled, rising from a back table with a dark scowl on her face. "Slycer should've been guarding the back door."

"Slycer, Slycer..." The teen repeated the name, as if trying to stir his memory, before snapping his fingers. "Oh, that guy with the bad haircut, right? Yeah, no, he's busy right now. You guys really need better security in the back by the way. I only saw two guys on my way here, and if that's the quality of the guys you recruit—wow. I mean, gun fingers? Really?"

"You asshole, Victor's one of the coolest guys here!" Twice yelled while shaking a fist. "How dare you insult him!"

"Don't know about that, but I'd barely call that a fight."

"He's just a lame low-level grunt! Beating him doesn't make you hot stuff!"

"Well, hopefully the rest of you will put up a better fight," the teen said breezily, and everyone tensed as he reached for the bag. Several projectiles instantly flew at him from several directions, both Quirk-made and empty bar glasses, but he skipped back a step to fall off the counter and duck behind it. As he did he pulled a dark tile from the bag and threw it in the air, the tile flipping mid-arc to reveal a glowing white circle on one side.

A broken wine glass flew towards it, only to be smacked away by a large hand suddenly punching out of the circle. Beefy fingers grabbed the circle's edges and began dragging it, stretching it wider until it expanded beyond the tile's edges. The people in the center of the bar near where the tile was passing over reflexively scrambled away, Dabi included, just before an inhuman-looking head thrust out of the opening.

He skidded to a halt towards the far end of the bar, watching as a hulking giant of a person—if you could call them that—squeezed through the portal. With the tile still arcing through the air they hit the floor head-first, which had to hurt with their exposed brain. They showed no signs of pain though, their legs bending forward over their torso at an unnatural-looking angle until their toes touched the floor, at which point they twisted their body into an upright position.

The tile clattered to the ground next to them with the portal face-up, a new set of hands pulling at the edges so another, smaller creature could climb out. Someone shot a plasma ball of some kind at it, but the creature barely reacted as it exploded and coated its shoulder in a glowing red-white substance. The skin sizzled and steamed under it, but already Dabi could see the muscles mending.

"So, just so you know, these guys are tough," the not-pizza-boy said cheerfully as he stood up, grinning with a vicious glint in his eyes. "I can't wait to see who's stronger! Go on noumu, have at it!" As he spoke the first one turned and charged at the closest person, grabbing their face with an oversized hand and squeezing.

As pandemonium broke out Dabi made a split-second decision and hopped over the counter to run for the door behind the bar. The room directly behind it had an open door leading to a hallway, the floor tiles there noticeably cracked. When he passed through he glanced at the direction the cracks seemed to originate and saw two people sprawled near the epicenter. From this angle he could see one had a very mangled-looking head in a puddle of blood.

Yeah, they weren't getting up again.

He quickly looked away from the bodies towards the people rushing down the hall from both directions, drawn by the loud bang from the bar's wall exploding. At least they'd been already in sight before Dabi stepped out, so they probably wouldn't think he did it. "What the hell's going on?" a crusty-faced guy with bluish-gray hair at the front of one group demanded.

Before Dabi could respond more people burst through the door behind him, frantically scrambling past him to flee down the halls. A few shouted in horror when they turned one direction and saw the bodies, prompting them to join the exodus in the opposite direction.

"M-monsters!" one of them screamed as he ran past the group that way. "Th-those things aren't human, they're monsters!" His hysterical shouts echoed as he darted down the hall and out of sight, clearly terrified for his life.

"Well, you heard the guy," Dabi said with a shrug. The blue-haired man's eyes narrowed at the flippant remark and he started to growl in irritation. Before he could do or say anything else Twice ran through the door, waving his arms.

"Shigaraki, Shigaraki, it's terrible! A pizza guy showed up and summoned monsters to attack the bar!"

"Monsters? Pizza guy?"

Twice's chest puffed out as his voice took on a haughty tone. "Yeah! Coward wouldn't even fight us himself, just used some tile thing to summon super-lame monsters to fight for him! Guy's probably cowering behind the bar right now regretting he ever messed with us!"

Then his tough facade broke as he frantically yelled, "It's a total bloodbath in there! There's more blood than tiles! The pizza kid is just taunting us! They took down Victor!"

Shigaraki stared at Twice for a moment before turning to Dabi. Who, while a total stranger and potential threat, also (probably) wasn't prone to contradicting himself or currently hysteric. "What?"

"Some kid dressed like a pizza guy broke the bar wall, and then got a tile-thing from his bag that had a portal on it," Dabi elaborated. "And yeah, I'd say 'monster' is probably pretty accurate with whatever those things that crawled out are. Though not sure the guy's weak, because I'm pretty sure he did that on his own." He gestured to the two bodies in the hall with his head.

At that moment an even more thunderous crash erupted from the bar area, the kind that usually signified significant damage. Shigaraki wasted no more time and ran past Dabi towards the bar while cursing, leaving the dark-haired man to continue down the hallway past the other startled mooks. None of them made a move to stop or question him, too busy debating on how to handle the attack.

He had no time to get drawn into whatever shit was going down—and shit was definitely going down. If he'd learned anything in the past forty-eight hours, it was that all the brats involved in this mess were impulsive in the worst ways. No way would any of them wait around once they noticed the chaos, they'd be coming in.

Right now, there were three brats being held prisoner here, a fourth brat he'd smuggled in, and four more brats who would be trying to break in. All in the midst of some sort of attack. So he might as well try to find Kuroiro and the prisoners first.

"Hey, what the hell's going on out there! Open the door and let us out!"

Katsuki pounded on the door furiously, ignoring the sting in his fists from colliding with steel as he yelled at the top of his lungs. For the past three minutes they'd been hearing all sorts of chaos outside, starting with an apparent earthquake followed by explosions and screaming. The fact they could hear it here, in this largely isolated part of the base, only served to highlight how serious it was.

As he continued banging on the door Hijack huffed behind him. "Knock it off, no one's coming," he said. "Not like anyone who'd know the code would be likely to hear you anyway. And not sure we'd want to trust anyone else who'd come over this way either."

The comment had him growling in frustration. "Dammit, I don't care! If some idiot opens the door to attack us, I'll just blast their face off!"

"Good luck with that." Katsuki responded with the middle finger but didn't bother speaking. He instead took a deep breath, the inhale shaky as he tried to steady his mounting agitation.

He was sick of this, sick of sitting around waiting for stuff to happen. It had been like that since he first landed in this shithole, never able to do anything himself except wait for others to do stuff. It grated on his nerves on a good day, and the current sounds of distant battle only made him gnash his teeth.

If only the dumb hinges were on this side, he could blast them off and try to kick open the door, but no. They were stuck here, only able to listen to whatever the hell was happening and wait for someone to show up like always. His breathing stuttered when he heard another distant explosion, pupils shrinking to pinpricks as his frustration spiked.

"Steady," Hijack said before he could do anything. "Don't go exploding now."

"How the hell are you so damn calm about this?" Katsuki bit out, turning to glare at the vigilante who sat on the bed looking way too nonchalant while holding Mion on his lap. "Aren't you frustrated?"

"Of course I am," Hijack replied with a shrug. "It's obvious something huge is going down. I just know it's better not to get worked up over stuff out of my control." His mouth curled into a bitter scowl as he muttered, "Not like I'd be able to do much even if I went out there right now anyway."

The reminder of the other boy's current near-helplessness had some of Katsuki's rage ebbing, overshadowed by his ever-mounting frustration instead. It just made him remember the current overall situation, the fact that even if they managed to get out of this room, they were still outnumbered. Still vulnerable.

The sound of another explosion snapped his already thinning patience, whirling back to the door with an angry roar. "Dammit!" His fist sparked as it collided with it once more, a small explosion scorching the metal but doing no other damage. Just reminding him how trapped they were.

Then someone rapped on the door.

Katsuki jumped back in surprise, blurting, "The hell?" Who the hell knocked in this dump?

"Hey, is someone in there?" someone called. It was an unfamiliar voice, a guy who sounded maybe around their age with a bit of a rasp. The fact Katsuki didn't recognize it just set him on edge. "I heard an explosion from inside just now." The doorknob jiggled, but obviously didn't open.

"Door's locked, numbskull," Katsuki said almost automatically even as he took a step back. Hijack had risen from the bed to join him by the door silently, clutching a book from the shelf like some sort of weapon. A silent reminder that this was a potential foe, and that they had limited means of fighting back.

He heard a huff from outside. "I gathered that much. There's a keypad out here, do you know the code?"

"Why do you want to know?" Katsuki countered. Because he didn't recognize this guy's voice at all, and he couldn't trust just anyone.

"Because I'm pretty sure you're Bakugou, and I'm here to help you and the others escape!" The mention of his name had Katsuki freezing, eyes going even wider at the words that followed.

"Escape?" he repeated, because—it couldn't be, he couldn't mean

"I can't prove it, but I'm—I'm with that group! The ones who know Midoriya!" His stomach flipped at the mention of Deku, hope building painfully in his chest despite his caution. The doorknob wiggled more as the stranger continued in a rushed tone, "Look, we don't have time! I was supposed to just be scouting but there's an attack going on, and it's now or never! Someone could come here any minute, and I still need to find Midoriya, Hijack and Eraserhead!"

In that moment, time seemed to stop, Katsuki's breath catching in his throat. Anticipation built up in his chest because—because shit, this was risky, they still had no reason to trust him, no proof this guy was who he said he was beyond his word, but—

This might be it. Their opening to finally take their fucking fates back into their own hands at long last.

Beside him Hijack looked similarly stunned, eyes wide and face pale as he stared at the door. "8442," he whispered, making Katsuki's head snap to him. The vigilante swallowed, calling out more clearly, more desperately, "8442! The code to the door is 8442!"

There was silence, and then—

The single most glorious beep Katsuki had ever heard followed by the click of the lock turning.

He threw the door open, narrowly missing hitting the teenager standing outside. The guy looked like he fit right in with the villains with his edgy black getup and pitch black skin, but he was definitely their age. And the fact they hadn't met or heard of him, even back at the wheelchair race, meant he was definitely an outsider. With the door finally open they could hear the sounds of battle even more clearly, shouts and yells mixed in with the distant sounds of stuff breaking and the occasional explosion.

The newcomer nodded to them, already turning. "Come on, we need to go."

And this time, Katsuki didn't hesitate to move.

And we're back! Again!

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. I didn't mean to go almost a whole year without a new chapter, but I got sucked into other fandoms last spring as MHA's final arc dragged on and time just flew by. And then last August... Well, let's just say writing got put on the back burner. I won't give further details because I'm not looking for sympathy and have already made my peace with what happened, and honestly all the attention and well-meaning platitudes kinda make me squirm.

Good news is, I've built up a buffer! Draft is up to 135! I can't promise a regular schedule right now, but with MHA nearing the end, the latest few chapters have been reminding me of just why I fell in love with this series in the first place. It's also given me a burst of inspiration for some of the OCs for this story, and certain events leading to this AU becoming so twisted. So hopefully this muse will keep going and I can settle back into a schedule! I am so EXCITED for some of the scenes coming up, this chaotic escape is finally coming together~ One of the scenes had me so energized I had to jump up and just MOVE. I was playing a bunch of old Vocaloid songs that just gave me such a burst of energy.

As a final note, there's a lesson I learned long ago that I want impart to you all: if you love someone, make sure you always tell them that when you say goodbye, because you never know what will be your true last words to them. Goodbye, good night, I love you. I am just so glad I learned that lesson without having to learn it the hard way. It's one less regret for me, and made this a lot easier.