I can't say that things were pleasant last chapter, and I won't promise that it'll get any better.

My Alien Academia

Chapter 59

To Stand Against the Storm

Once, not that long ago, Midoriya would have been bouncing off the walls in excitement. He was such a fan of Heroes, and being in a room full of some of the best in the entire world was something he had never imagined happening, even in his wildest dreams. He knew all about these seven, or at least what their governments allowed people to know, plus his own estimation of their abilities.

Now, instead of devolving into a rabid fanboy, he just calculated how much they would be able to help in a fight against Shigaraki.

"So, you're the famous Midoriya," Stars And Stripes said, her hands locked together in front of her.

Midoriya met her gaze evenly from the opposite side of the table; in fact, he liked to think that his own stare was more intimidating. "And you're Stars and Stripes. I know you trained under All Might for a while. Are we going to have a problem?"

Beside him, Melissa looked a little nervous; Stars and Stripes was arguably one of the strongest Heroes on the planet, and Midoriya was speaking to her like she was a student a year younger than him.

Stripes shrugged. "I know what All Might said about you, but Nezu vouched for you, and I saw you fighting that Shigaraki brat. Considering what Nezu said Shigaraki is going to be capable of, I'm willing to at least give you the chance to prove yourself."

"That's all I ask." Midoriya turned to the other Heroes. "Is that acceptable for you?"

Gentleman Jack looked at the others sitting on his side of the table, and nodded. "We've made worse deals in the past. You'll get your chance, lad."

Panzer abruptly stood up and marched over to Midoriya; he loomed over the boy, but before Melissa could try to pull him back, or Midoriya could transform, the big German swept him up in a backbreaking hug.

"Welcome to the team, little one!"

The tension immediately vanished, and the other Heroes groaned.

"Panzer, mate, could you be serious for more than five bloody minutes?" Ranger asked.

At first glance, Ranger looked like a typical park ranger, complete with a stereotypical Australian hat, with half the brim pinned up. The only differences came with the heavy belt loaded with tools and weapons, and his Quirk, which not only let him track down anyone he had seen anywhere on the planet, but could see their weaknesses as glowing spots on their bodies. While he wasn't the most lauded of the Heroes here, he had been instrumental in taking down criminal organizations worldwide, and had practically erased organized crime in Australia.

"You never let me have any fun," Panzer said, and gently lowered Midoriya back into his chair.

Monkey King rolled his eyes. "The problem is that you have your fun at the worst time. You really need to read the room."

"Like you're one to talk, mister I-pranked-the-UN-with-itching-powder-in-their-seats!"

"You have no proof it was me!"

Melissa stared at China's top Hero with wide eyes. "I saw that on the news! People thought it was a chemical attack!"

Monkey King shrugged. "It resulted in better security protocols that prevented an actual chemical attack, and nobody got hurt."

After exiting the plane, Monkey King had gotten into his costume—a set of dark armor in a style similar to that used by Sun Wukong in the fables, with his hairy hands, feet and tail exposed. Leaning against his chair was an ornate staff that he could use with not just his hands, but also his feet and tail. His mutation had nothing to do with his Quirk, which was called Probability; the laws of probability literally bent to give him the best possible odds in whatever he was doing. It also gave him a sort of sixth sense that usually put him wherever he was most needed. That had resulted in a flawless record as a Hero, and a permanent ban in all gambling establishments around the world.

"I have a question," Geosynch said, changing the subject. "How are you all speaking Russian so fluently?"

Geosynch had also put on her costume, which was really just the outfit she'd been wearing, but now with white tights and a white coat that went down to her ankles. Despite being the top Hero in Russia, many people around the world looked at her with the same distrust and disdain that her country had earned for generations, and Geosynch had done everything in her considerable power to show that Russia had changed from its pre-Quirk days, but it was too early to tell if her efforts had been successful. Still, she was powerful; her Quirk, Singularity, allowed her to control gravity in any way she pleased, as long as she maintained eye contact with her target for more than three seconds. She could weigh something down, send it hurtling into space, or even lock it into orbit around an object; she could also use her Quirk on herself to fly, or become immovable. The scary part was that she could apply her Quirk to as many targets as she wanted, and it only stopped when she wanted it to.

"They aren't speaking Russian," Midoriya said, and held up the Omnitrix. "My watch also acts as a universal translator, so when I saw all of you, I activated a translation field. I've never had to use it before, since usually only one person in a group I've been in spoke a different language."

"I want that," Stripes declared. "The last time I tried speaking Italian, I almost caused an international incident."

"Well, at least we can all speak in the languages we're most comfortable with," Jack said. "And we really should get back on track, before someone derails the conversation again."

"Killjoy," Panzer muttered, but sat back down.

"Sorry about this," Maccabee said tiredly. "We all have to be these shining examples for our countries, but when we're like this, we tend to goof off a little. It keeps us sane."

"It's fine," Midoriya said, though the banter reminded him of the Rising Stars, and it made his heart ache. "What do we need to do first?"

Ranger pulled out a tablet. "I've looked up all of Detnerat's locations. Now that we know it was the front for a Quirk-supremacist organization, I can see how each of these could be used as bases. They could easily hide all kinds of illegal activity in there."

"The closest one to I-Island is in Mexico City," Maccabee said. "I suggest we hit that one now, before they have a chance to destroy any evidence."

"Can you, though?" Melissa asked. "I mean, don't you need permission from the Mexican government, and your governments?"

Stripes grinned. "Well, the information about Shigaraki has already been passed on to just about every country that will listen. We're keeping the whole 'omnipotent' thing from the public to prevent a panic, but the top levels of the world know what kind of threat we're dealing with. We might not have permission to do this, but nobody is saying we can't do this."

"We'd rather ask for forgiveness than permission," Jack said. "And we had best get going. Even with our jet, it will take us several hours to get to Mexico."

"Um, what should I do?" Melissa asked.

Panzer shrugged. "You're Melissa Shield; your father might be in jail, but his assets are still valid. I-Island's laboratories and workshops are at your disposal."

"I don't get possession of those until I'm eighteen," Melissa protested. "That's next month."

"Considering what's at stake, I don't think anyone will mind," Monkey King said. "Forgiveness instead of permission, remember?"

Melissa considered that, and nodded. "Okay, I'll get to work on anything we might need."

"Don't hold back," Midoriya told her. "Think of the kind of crazy things Mei would build, and do that."

"Minus the explosions?" Melissa asked innocently.

Midoriya couldn't help but laugh. "If at all possible."

Stripes clapped him on the shoulder. "Time to see if you really live up to the hype, kid."

Midoriya nodded. "I'm ready."

The flight to Mexico didn't take nearly as long as the older Heroes expected, thanks to Deku. He turned into Upgrade, an amorphous alien covered in what looked like green circuitry, and merged with the jet, and quickly turned it into the fastest thing to fly on the planet.

"Where are we going to land?" Deku asked as he turned back to normal; his arm and eyes ached, but he needed to give the Omnitrix time to recharge.

"Nowhere," Stars And Stripes admitted. "We barely had time to talk our way into Mexican airspace, so actually getting permission to land isn't going to happen. Geosynch, can you lock the plane up here? We'll have to airdrop onto the target."

"No problem," Geosynch said brightly. "I can also get us back up here when we're done."

Stripes towered over the younger woman, and patted the white-furred hat on her head. "See, this is why you're my favorite Russian."

Geosynch blinked. "Am I not your only favorite Russian?"

"She's American, you're lucky she has even that many favorite Russians," Maccabee said, and pulled up a hologram of the blueprints of the building they were flying over. "We can't expect any of these plans to still be valid. If anything, we should expect hard resistance."

"Not on the outside," Ranger corrected. "If the intel provided by Nezu is correct, and I'm positive it is, Detnerat used a lot of innocent people as a mask. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a small army hiding out in that building."

Panzer chuckled darkly; his right arm clanked as metal emerged from his skin, forming a cannon. "It's a good thing the eight of us are worth an army."

Stripes grinned for a moment, and then got serious. "Okay, we don't have an accurate floor plan, so we'll go with shock and awe. We drop down, fight our way through anyone who wants to stop us, and go for their server rooms."

"We should also try to find any physical copies," Deku suggested, and all eyes turned to him. "I mean, if I wanted to hide important stuff, I wouldn't want it on a computer, where it could be hacked."

"Unless it's on a private server that can't be accessed from the outside," Ranger argued, but shrugged. "Still, it wouldn't hurt to look, just in case."

Panzer elbowed Stripes. "Talking like a pro already. Kid's really serious about being a Hero, huh?"

The American raised an eyebrow. "We'll find out." She turned to Deku. "You don't have a problem with jumping out of a plane, do you?"

Deku met her gaze evenly. "I've done scarier."

Something in his eyes told her that he was serious.

Geosynch easily guided them all to the rooftop without detection, and Deku turned into Ghostfreak to scout out the inside. What he found was such a shock that he almost stopped being invisible before he could make it back outside.

"Lots of employees in the outer offices, just like we thought," he reported. "But the lower levels are filled with Nomu tanks, just like the ones under Jaku Hospital."

Maccabee tapped the lower edge of his mask. "Were any of them active?"

Ghostfreak shook his head. "No, it looked like they were still, um… cooking."

"That's good for us," Stripes said. "It means we won't get bogged down fighting a bunch of those monsters. I say we split up into three teams; one team focuses on getting the civilians out of the building, another team destroys the monsters, and the third team goes for the intel."

"Geosynch, my dear, I think we should get the civilians out," Jack said.

"It will take a long time for me to use my Quirk on so many people," Geosynch said with a frown.

Jack chuckled and blinked twice to use his power; as soon as he did, he had copied her Quirk, at twice the power and effectiveness. "I believe that we will cut that time down significantly."

Monkey King closed his eyes and focused; his eyes snapped open, and he turned to Ranger and Maccabee. "We should go for the computers. Something tells me we'll be most effective there."

Both of the other Heroes nodded, while Maccabee made sure the plane would be ready to fly as soon as Geosynch let it go. "Got it."

Stripes cracked her knuckles. "That just leaves the rest of us to get rid of the Nomu, kid. You ready for a fight?"

Deku's only response was to turn into Rath, and he growled.

"Oh, I like this kid," Panzer laughed, and readied his cannon-arm. "I'd say we're done being quiet, yeah?"

The first sign any of the Detnerat employees had that they were under attack was when the roof suddenly and violently exploded. Before any of them could even scream, eight Heroes dropped into their midst, ready for a fight.

"Civilians are to come with us!" Gentleman Jack shouted. "If you offer resistance, we will use force!"

Some of the employees, the ones that had actually been members of the PLF, tried to fight back, but they were left floating and helpless by both Jack and Geosynch before they could do anything. The rest were quick to surrender, and followed the Heroes outside. Ranger, Maccabee and Monkey King only stayed long enough to quickly interrogate one of the employees to find out where the server room was, and then hurried to reach it.

Rath led Stripes and Panzer to where he'd found the Nomu tanks. As they got closer, cables running along the walls started to hum ominously. When they reached their objective, the first of the bioengineered creatures were starting to pull themselves out of the pods.

"I thought you said they weren't awake!" Stripes shouted.

Rath didn't try to defend himself; instead, he just lunged at the nearest Nomu, a spindly creature with tentacles that writhed around its exposed brain. The Nomu raised its arms and fired barbed darts, but Rath powered through the barrage until he was within reach; he crushed the Nomu's brain with a single punch, and then kept going into another.

Panzer aimed his cannon at a Nomu and fired; the monster's hide kept it intact, but the blast was still enough to bowl it over. By the time it got up, its head was hacked off by Panzer's other arm, which was now a screaming chainsaw.

Stripes moved in a blur, smashing apart a small mob of Nomu in a matter of seconds. Even as Rath, Deku couldn't help but marvel at how powerful she was; she reminded him of fighting All Might with Bakugo. She definitely wasn't as fast or as strong as he was now, but she was certainly beyond almost anyone else.

Thinking of All Might soured his already foul mood, and Rath roared as he punted another Nomu through a wall.

After stepping around the remains of another Nomu, Panzer turned his chainsaw-hand back to normal and held it to his ear. "All teams, we've engaged hostile Nomu. I repeat, the Nomu are waking up. What's your status?"

"Geosynch and I have cleared the outer levels," Jack reported. "Local police are on the way, and I don't think we want to explain ourselves. I suggest we hurry."

"We've located the servers," Maccabee said, over the sound of fighting in the background. "Monkey King is accessing their files now, but we ran into some resistance. Nothing we can't handle, but it might cause us a delay, over."

With Stripes and Rath still busy with more Nomu, Panzer took command. "Jack, Geosynch, join up with Maccabee and help them get out of there. That data is what matters."

"Do you need help with the Nomu?" Geosynch asked.

"I think we've got that—Stripes, look out!"

The Nomu—a hulking brute that looked like a humanoid rhino—was too close to Stripes for Panzer to use his cannon, and he was too far away to turn into something and intervene. He could only watch as the beast bellowed and charged… only for Rath to put himself between the monster and the American. There was a sickening crunch as a horn on the Nomu's face impaled Rath through the shoulder, stopping a mere inch from Stripes. Panzer didn't know if Deku powered through the pain, or was too angry to register it, but Rath locked the Nomu in place with his injured arm, and used the other to reduce the monster's exposed brain into so much soup.

With a grunt, Rath pulled the corpse off of him and turned into Swampfire. "Are you okay?"

Stripes blinked—first at the healing Swampfire, and then at the dead Nomu. "Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks for the save."

"No problem." Swampfire double-checked that all of the Nomu were dead, and sighed. "I just want one day where nobody gets hurt."

"None of the good guys, anyway," Panzer added; he made to slap Swampfire on the back, but stopped when the smell hit him. "Okay, I think we should start getting out of here. The police can handle the rest."

The sound of helicopters got Swampfire's attention. "Assuming they're not here for me."

"They'd have to get through us," Stripes said, arms crossed. "You could have died taking that hit for me, kid; that earned you a little trust today, so we'll see how things go."

Deku nodded. "I guess we will."

"We're coming to you live from All Might's most recent press statement. As before, All Might has stressed the importance of unity of purpose against the Villains rampaging throughout Japan. Despite growing protest, All Might has refused to comment on allegations that he convinced the Prime Minister to sign off on an arrest warrant for one Midoriya Izuku, despite having no evidence that the UA student has committed any crimes. The police have also refused to provide a comment, other than saying that Midoriya's flight from the country is suspicious—"

Todoroki raised an eyebrow when a splash of acid reduced the TV to a puddle. "That seemed extreme. We could have just turned it off."

"Oh, like anything else is on these days," Ashido growled. "All anyone talks about is alien stuff, Villains, and how Midori is a criminal because All Might says he is." She huffed and put her head on his shoulder. "You'd think they'd have something else to yammer on about, like the weather."

Todoroki glanced out the window, where the rain was still coming down. "Like that's any better."

The rain had started two weeks ago, right after what people were calling the Disaster at Jaku. All of Japan was being lashed by the storm, and those in the know suspected that Shigaraki was somehow behind it. The handful of people in Japan with rare weather-related Quirks had tried to stop the storm, and had all either died or been left comatose for their efforts. All Might had tried to clear away the clouds with a few well-placed punches; it gave the country clear skies for about twenty minutes, and then the clouds rolled back in. After a dozen attempts to cheer people up by giving them clear weather, All Might had given up trying.

All Might's recent failures—from trying to stop Shigaraki, to stopping the storm—had only reinforced his dip in popularity. Almost everyone had seen videos of him attacking Midoriya, and shouting baseless accusations at him, only to then fail to stop Shigaraki, while Midoriya had fought him to a draw.

Plenty of people still believed in All Might, and crowds gathered daily to demand that whoever was harboring Midoriya should send him back to face justice. However, the longer All Might failed to provide evidence that Midoriya was secretly working with Shigaraki and All For One, the more people wondered if there was any truth to the accusations. It also didn't hurt that the best lawyers in the country had been hired to defend Midoriya, even though he wasn't there.

Yaoyorozu had been particularly smug when she told her friends that her parents had spared no expense on defending their daughter's best friend. It had been a bit of levity that the rest of the students at UA needed after what people had learned about the true nature of Quirks. Many people around the world were coming to terms with learning that the human race had been altered by an alien from another universe. Someone had put the pieces together that Midoriya could turn into the various pure versions of what everyone had received DNA from; it had become something of a game to guess which alien was the source of which Quirk.

Jiro was convinced that her sound powers had come from Echo Echo's species, and Shoji was positive that he was related to Eye Guy. Some of the others were harder to identify, especially when many of their powers came from the merging of several different aliens.

Todoroki sighed, and tried to change the subject to something less gloomy. "Did you finish your homework?"

Ashido gave him a look. "I copied Momo's work. You really think I care about that right now?"

"No, but Izuku will hate himself if he thinks we failed school because we were worried about him."

"That's not fair," Ashido said angrily.

"It's still true." Todoroki wanted to kick himself for bringing up Midoriya; his absence was still a raw wound for his friends, and using him against those who loved him felt wrong.

Ashido leaned into his left side; it was warmer on that side, and the heater in the dorms barely staved off the cold outside. "Whatever, I'm too tired to be mad."

Todoroki put his arm around her shoulders. "Did Sky Dancer ever get back to you about patrols?"

"No, she hasn't responded to any of my messages." Ashido frowned. "She didn't die during the battle, I checked. I'm worried she just… quit."

More than a few lower-ranked Heroes had retired following the battle at Jaku, but also a few high-profile Heroes as well. The most notable of those was Yoroi Musha; he claimed that he was quitting out of some kind of penance, that he didn't deserve to be a Hero, but many people thought he was just too afraid to fight anymore. To be fair, plenty of other Heroes had quit for the same reason; they couldn't wrap their minds around the sheer devastation caused by a single Villain, when most of them had expected to fight simple thugs for most of their careers. The difference between those Heroes and Yoroi Musha was that he was in the Top Ten, the Heroes expected to lead the charge in a crisis. If someone like him was going to give up, what could the rest do?

To Todoroki's surprise, his father had come up with the answer. After waking up from surgery, he demanded to speak to the press, and simply said that the only thing they could do was fight, because the alternative was to allow the Villains to kill them all.

In private, Shoto had informed his father about the true identity of Dabi; Endeavor knew his youngest son would never make up something so serious, nor would he make a mistake. The two of them made a promise that they would be the ones to defeat Toya; after his eldest son was no longer a threat, Endeavor swore that he would come clean to the press about everything he had done to his family. Shoto understood why he didn't do it immediately; with everything going on, the last thing anyone needed was a scandal like that, and Endeavor would be needed on the front lines.

Endeavor had also recently earned points with Shoto, as well as the Rising Stars, by rallying those people—Heroes and civilians alike—to support Midoriya. Time and time again, Endeavor brought up how All Might never had any evidence to support his claims, while pointing out how Midoriya had put his life on the line while battling Shigaraki, the High-End Nomu, and the Eight Precepts. Endeavor insisted that people judge Midoriya on what he had done, not on what someone said he'd done. Endeavor's no-nonsense defense of Midoriya had drawn in anyone who didn't have blind faith in All Might; there were still many who believed that Midoriya was guilty, but at least the entire country wasn't against him.

Todoroki was about to try changing the subject again, but it was taken out of his hands when he saw Asui coming down the stairs, and Ashido shot to her feet.

"How's Ochako doing?" she asked.

Asui sighed. "She hasn't cried today, so that's a good sign."

"That's three days in a row," Todoroki noted. "Does that mean she's getting better?"

"For now." Ashido scowled. "She's still on house arrest until tomorrow. It's such crap; that guy had no right to say that to her."

A few days earlier, a student from General Studies had confronted Uraraka, heaping abuse and accusations against her. His tirade had been so intense and hate-filled that even the handful of other students that had been with him had been taken aback. Already beyond upset by Midoriya's departure, Uraraka hadn't handled it well, and proceeded to break the other student's arms. That had made the others attack her, and even though Uraraka knew how to fight, she was outnumbered; she had been helped by Bakugo, who had been nearby, and by the time the teachers arrived, only the Hero Course students were standing, with only a busted lip between them.

While the General Studies students had been disciplined, it was Uraraka that had thrown the first punch, and was told to stay in the dorm for five days. In a show of solidarity, the other Hero Course students had decided to stay in the dorms with her at every spare moment that they weren't required to go to class. Granted, the school's feeble attempts to reestablish a normal schedule hadn't done much to get people to want to go to class, but Uraraka appreciated not being alone.

Todoroki started to relax against his girlfriend, but an alert from his phone got his attention; despite a whine from Ashido, he shifted away and pulled his phone out of his pocket. The text from his father made him smile—something that was odd enough that he briefly worried he was going insane.

"What is it?" Ashido asked.

"My father got some news about Izuku," Todoroki whispered, just in case someone was eavesdropping. "He still won't tell me who he and Melissa are working with, but he said that another Detnerat building got raided. This one was in Lithuania."

Ashido's eyes went wide. "That's the second one. Is he sure Midori was involved?"

Todoroki turned the phone to her, revealing a picture from a security feed that showed Diamondhead carving his way through a steel door. Ashido smiled, even though it hurt knowing that her twin was relying on strangers, instead of his friends.

"We should show this to Ochako," she said. "It'll cheer her up to know he's still kicking."

"Yeah." Todoroki stood up, but paused when what remained of the TV sparked. "And you should ask Momo if she'll make another one of those."

Ashido winced. "Oh, right. Whoops."

All Might shook off the rain as he walked into his Agency. The building was emptier than it had been before he'd retired, despite his efforts; he had managed to rehire some of his employees, but more than a few had refused to work for him again. He was disappointed, but wrote them off as having been swayed by Midoriya's supporters. As much as he wanted to bring the young man in, Midoriya hadn't done anything against All Might yet, so he was willing to tone down his rhetoric. He still felt obligated to remind the populace that Midoriya was still on the loose, following All For One's will, but he was starting to shift his focus on the threat that was closer to home. Besides, he still took his promise to save everyone with a smile seriously, and if he was seen fighting crime, it helped alleviate the anxiety that was building up in Japan.

"You are the biggest idiot I've ever known," Gran Torino said as All Might walked into the office.

"So you've said." All Might closed the door behind him, and raised an eyebrow. "If you're all going to keep coming in here, I should start charging rent or something."

"Don't try to be funny, Toshinori, you're not good at it." Sir Nighteye had stopped calling him by his Hero name shortly after Midoriya had gone on the run; it felt like his former Sidekick no longer thought he was worthy of the name. "Your speech was better this time. You only ranted about Deku for three minutes."

All Might shrugged and headed for the fridge. "As you've pointed out repeatedly, he is outside of my reach, but all indications are that the League is still somewhere in Japan. I'll focus on them, for now."

Gran Torino glared up at him. "And if you finally figure out that the kid is innocent?"

There was a crunch as All Might's frustration got the better of him, and he crushed the handle of the refrigerator. He almost snapped at his old mentor, but a part of him that didn't want to sever the ties he'd worked so hard to restore stayed his hand.

"If you have hard evidence that he isn't working for All For One… I'll apologize." All Might glanced at them. "Do you have hard evidence?"

"None of us have evidence either way, and you know it," Nighteye said. "But if you keep allowing your obsession to blind you, more people are going to die."

Now All Might flinched; UA had made it very clear that he was partly to blame for Eraserhead's death, and had severed ties with him. It wasn't just UA teachers that hated him—Ms. Joke had sent him a message with enough vitriol that All Might's legal advisor saw it as a death threat. His mood had been even worse at the time, because he was still convinced that Midoriya had abducted Melissa. Only when Nezu admitted that Melissa had willingly gone with Midoriya had All Might even temporarily ceased his rhetoric, but only because he was too busy being disappointed with his sort-of niece.

He had even considered that she was an accomplice of All For One, but he had made the mistake of saying as much in front of Togata. That had earned him a fractured jaw when his successor punched him.

Togata's expression had gone scarily blank, reminiscent of Sir Nighteye when he was extremely angry, and had told All Might in no uncertain terms that if he ever accused either Melissa or Midoriya of being Villains in his presence again, he would put All Might in the hospital. Togata had refused to speak with him since.

"Is there anything you actually need, or did you just come here to read me the riot act again?" All Might asked.

"You missed the weekly briefing," Gran Torino said. "You know, the one you insisted all major Hero Agencies attend, even virtually? Even I do that, and I hate computers."

"There was a group of Villains raiding a JSDF armory, and time was of the essence." All Might finally opened the fridge and grabbed some juice; he took a moment to enjoy a drink with fully-functional organs. "After that, I had to talk down that group of people in Sapporo that were going to jump off a building—"

"And then you had to rescue a cat out of a tree," Gran Torino interrupted. "We get it, Toshinori, you're busy. Do you want to hear the report, or not?"

"I'll take the short version."

Nighteye adjusted his glasses, and then pulled out his phone to read. "The good news is that the curfew the government implemented has helped reduce the number of victims in Villain attacks."

"Most people don't want to go out in this damn rain anyway," Gran Torino commented.

Nighteye ignored him. "Crime is still up almost thirty percent, and civil discontent is at an all-time high. Granted, it has only been a few weeks since Jaku, but the panic has been largely replaced with anger and confusion. The… the 'alien' situation has caused more than a few existential crises, and people are convinced that the government knew about it, not just the Commission."

At first, All Might hadn't believed that Quirks had come from an alien scientist, but when the leaked documents had been confirmed to be genuine, he accepted it as the truth. Granted, he had been so busy that he hadn't had time to really process this revelation, but his own shock was kept at bay by knowing that it really didn't affect his job.

"The worst part is that Japan's relationship with the international community has almost completely fallen apart," Nighteye continued. "The HPSC discovered the satellite, hid its true origins, and refused to share the truth with anyone outside of the country. It will be a very long time before we regain our international standing… not that we held much esteem in the first place, since our media was very clear how 'superior' our Heroes were to other countries."

"Complete bullshit," Gran Torino said bitterly. "I've met plenty of Heroes from other countries who are just as good as any of ours."

On that, All Might had to agree; in fact, it was something he had advocated for years. He wondered how his peers in the network Nezu had created were doing; he had tried to contact them several times after Jaku, but none of them had responded. He assumed they were busy chasing down Villains or maintaining order, just like he was.

"In summary, the line between order and anarchy is tenuous, but we are still in control, for the moment." Nighteye sighed. "Our main problem is that, with so many Heroes dead or retired, we don't have the numbers to effectively hunt down the League."

"Even if we could, they've still got Kurogiri," Gran Torino added. "The best we can manage is a stalemate."

"Just focus on finding them," All Might ordered. "I'll take care of the rest. With my power at its peak, I'm fast enough to grab them before Kurogiri can warp them away."

"You're assuming that you can defeat Shigaraki now," Nighteye said sternly. "As I recall, you couldn't stand against him before, and that was with Deku fighting him as well. Assuming Azmuth's estimations are correct, Shigaraki will be even stronger."

All Might reluctantly accepted that, but he was mostly just grateful that Nighteye hadn't brought up that he'd been trying to fight Midoriya just as much as Shigaraki. It was a sticking point that even some of his supporters refused to let him forget.

"That is exactly why we have to find them as quickly as possible," he said. "The sooner we do, the less likely things are to go beyond the point of no return."

Uraraka quietly finished putting on her costume; as her helmet slipped onto her head, it bounced against her lip, and though the cut had healed, it reminded her of the scar she'd earned from that scuffle. The idea of an aspiring Hero, especially one who had a helmet in her costume, getting a facial scar in a schoolyard scuffle would have been funny just a few weeks ago. Recovery Girl had offered to remove the scar, but Uraraka had refused; it wasn't disfiguring, and it would help remind her to keep her head every time she looked in the mirror.

"Hey, Ochako, are you ready?" Ashido asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." Uraraka gave herself a quick once-over to make sure her equipment was set properly. "Who are we patrolling with today?"

Yaoyorozu frowned. "We went over the schedule three times this morning. Are you sure you can handle this? If not, I could speak to Nezu-sensei—"

"It's fine, Momo," Uraraka snapped. "Let's just get this done, okay?"

The other girls in the locker room—the new 2-A and 2-B alike—shared a worried look. Because of her house arrest, Uraraka hadn't been able to go on patrols after the battle at Jaku, like the rest of them. Between her inexperience with the new schedule, and her emotional state, none of them were sure how she would handle it.

"Our team is going with Lemillion," Yaoyorozu said, ignoring Uraraka's rudeness. "It's you, me, and Hanta, handling outer security for UA. It's only about a kilometer away from the school."

Togata, along with the rest of the Big Three, had graduated with their year group to little fanfare. The three of them had quickly become fully-licensed Heroes, and had begun the paperwork to start their own Agencies. With everything going on, actually getting a building and support personnel was impossible, but if people saw that they were preparing for a future outside of the crisis, then it might give them hope.

Uraraka sighed. "Okay, that sounds… easy."

Genesis and Uravity met up with Cellophane near the entrance to the school, and then went to join Lemillion at the gate. All three students were surprised to see their friend glaring at another Pro Hero; Hawks tried to look nonchalant, but even from a distance, his slump showed just how exhausted he was.

After learning that he'd been spying on Midoriya, the students didn't have it in them to pity him. As far as they were concerned, he deserved whatever happened.

"Look, kid, I'm not here to start anything," Hawks said. "I'm just dropping off some intel to Nezu, and then I'll get out of your hair."

"Yeah, you do that." Lemillion crossed his arms and glared even harder. "If you're not out of here in five minutes, I'll drag you out."

Hawks looked unimpressed, but he still moved at a brisk pace to deliver whatever information he had. As he passed by the three students, there was a flash of recognition across his face, and he had the good grace to look ashamed, if only for a moment.

"I hate him," Cellophane muttered. "I don't care if he never planned to hurt Izuku, if even half of those leaked documents are true, that guy should be in jail."

Genesis put a hand on his shoulder. "We all feel the same way, but he's useful. When this is all over, he'll face justice."

"Good." Cellophane waved at Lemillion. "We're ready to go!"

Lemillion took a few deep breaths, and then smiled brightly. "Right, we'll just have a few sectors to patrol today, but remember to keep those smiles up! Well, Genesis and I will have to, but you two can hide behind those helmets. Still, if anyone talks to you, keep it positive; we want to assure people that we're doing everything we can to keep them safe."

"It's about the only thing All Might is doing that I agree with," Uravity muttered as they left the shelter of UA and into the rain. It wasn't too bad today, barely more than a drizzle, but they all knew that they would be freezing and wet by the time they finished their patrol.

"Oh, don't get me started on him." Lemillion managed to maintain his smile, despite the venom in his voice. "At least Sir and Gran Torino finally talked him out of badmouthing Izuku during his weekly speeches. I haven't heard him mentioned in days."

"It wasn't just Sir Nighteye and Gran Torino," Genesis said, with a hint of smugness. "My parents' lawyers have been making progress with their case, and the government may have ordered All Might to cease."

"And this is why we love you," Cellophane teased. "You throw money at our problems until they go away."

Even Uravity couldn't resist a chuckle at that, and her friends relaxed a little; even if it was for a moment, she sounded like her old self again.

"By the way, Lemillion," Cellophane continued, "did you figure out that new Quirk you got?"

Uravity blinked. Lemillion had gotten another Quirk from One For All?

"Only when I managed to speak to the echoes of the previous holders," Lemillion said. "It's called 'Danger Sense'. It basically does what it says on the box. Oh, and they also said that I should get the last three soon enough."

"Should we be worried that you can talk to dead people in your head?" Uravity asked.

"Only if I start talking out loud," Lemillion said with a wink. "Then you have permission to hit me to make me stop."

Uravity raised her metal hand. "Oh, don't tempt me."

Lemillion made a show of hiding behind Genesis, and the four of them laughed as they stepped out into the rain.

If Hawks thought he could avoid all the hate after he entered UA, he was badly mistaken. As soon as he walked into Nezu's office, he realized he'd made a tactical error; not only was Mirko present, but also the Midoriya parents.

Inko was so furious that her Quirk dragged his entire body forward, and his throat landed in her open hand. Hisashi had so much fire streaming from his mouth that he triggered the smoke alarms in the office, which Nezu quickly dismissed.

"Easy, ma'am," Mirko said as she carefully pried Inko's hands off Hawks' throat. "I'll be the first to say he deserves it, but your son wouldn't want to see you go to prison."

Hisashi held back his fire through gritted teeth, and then guided his wife out the door. Hawks watched them warily as they left, and rubbed his throat.

"Somehow, I expected a lot worse," he admitted.

"You deserve everything you get, you fuckin' rat," Mirko snarled, but then paused and looked at Nezu. "No offense."

"Some taken." Nezu shuffled a few papers on his desk. "As much as I dislike his actions, he has been helpful since, so I will tolerate his presence in my school." He fixed Hawks with an even stare that scared Hawks far more than the hatred from the Midoriyas. "Assuming, of course, that he brought something worthwhile."

Hawks allowed himself a tiny smile, and handed a flash drive over. "I smuggled in a little present from a certain blonde girl who accompanied a mutual associate-in-exile. It's a design for a new type of scanner to find Kurogiri; according to her, it should help backtrack his portals to him."

Nezu plugged the drive into his computer and looked over the blueprints. "This… this could work. I'll have our Support Course build it immediately; Hatsume-san will be happy to work on a project from her friend."

Mirko frowned. "How the hell did you manage to get this from out of the country?"

"The benefits of being a spy, I know how to talk to the right people." Hawks looked a little smug. "And without the Commission holding my leash, I can finally use those skills for the right reasons."

"Better late than never," Mirko said, but finally relaxed enough to lean against Nezu's desk; she brushed part of her hair back, exposing her eye patch. Recovery Girl had repaired the damage to the rest of her body, but Mirko's eye wasn't salvageable; it was hoped that Eri would be able to heal her, but she was still drained from restoring All Might, and neither Recovery Girl nor Mirko would risk the little girl's health for something Mirko was already adjusting to.

"Thank you for this, Hawks," Nezu said, already reading through reports from other agents across the country. "You can see yourself out; we still have a great deal of work to do."

"Of course we do." Hawks smiled again, but it was tired and sad. "After all, we can't do any less than Midoriya, can we?"

First of all, I want to apologize for the delay for this chapter. I moved into a new apartment, and increased my hours at work. Between those two things, I haven't had the time or energy to do much writing, but it's here!

Obviously, there have been a few timeskips since Deku and Melissa had to leave Japan. Everyone there, and around the world, is adjusting to everything they've learned, and I wanted to give you all a little look at how some of our favorite characters are handling things.

In some ways, not too badly. In others… not well.

And Deku has teamed up with seven of the top Heroes in the world! I understand that some of them have insanely good powers, but my thought is that many countries have their equivalent of All Might. I mean, Stars And Stripes is canon, and her Quirk is broken, so why not have everyone be that good? Monkey King was particularly fun to design, as is the idea that he's banned from all gambling establishments.

As always, please consider buying my book, Alpha Sanction, by Josh Gottlieb. You can find it on my website (link in my profile), or on Amazon, in both eBook and physical format. Now that I'm settled into my apartment, I can finally get back to work on the last couple of chapters for the sequel!

You can also support me on P-atreon (link in my profile). Seriously, I could use all the help I can get to pay my rent, since California housing is ridiculously expensive, and the less I have to worry about, the more I can focus on my writing.

Thanks to the following patrons, who help keep me afloat:

Serious Muffins: Nimrod009, Aaron Meek, Matthias Matanovic, Red Bard, Lokthar, Hakuryuken, Anders Lyngbye, Kristen Tyler

Incredible Muffins: RaptorusMaximus, Crazyman844, CherryGoesBoom, michaelb958

Ultra Muffins: RangersRoll

Next Chapter: Time passes, and as the grains fall down the hourglass, a hero returns home, whether or not he's truly ready.

Plus Muffin!