AN: Hey everyone, sorry for the long break. I've just started a new incredibly time intensive job lately and won't have any time to update in the foreseeable future. So, unfortunately, no writing. But there's still this chapter that I've managed to write.
King sat in a small fishing boat accompanied by Bang and Kamikaze, or more commonly referred to as the S-class heroes Silverfang and Atomic Samurai.
"You know something Silverfang?" Asked the swordsman
"What is it Atomic Samurai?" The martial artist responded.
"It's… kind of peaceful, isn't it?"
The lake was tranquil, there was silence. There were no people in sight, no busy city streets, no monsters and most importantly no interruptions. But for King who was an avid gamer, the experience was getting a bit boring.
There was no stimulation, he was merely sitting in a boat and watching the water.
They had been fishing for quite some time and Bang and Kamikaze had talked about surface-level subjects such as the weather. The blond hero was feeling a bit excluded and together with the fact that they hadn't caught any fish yet, King wanted to leave.
But he didn't want to interrupt their experience. King was afraid that they would deem him a shallow, simplistic and immature child. And so he sat in the boat with his usual stoic expression painted on his face, bored out of his mind.
"Since we fought those aliens a few weeks ago there hasn't been a major incident." Atomic Samurai said.
"We're lucky that there hasn't been a major disturbance since then." The Silverfang responded.
King blinked as he went over the growing list of monsters he stopped over the past few days. To start with there was that worm that could control the ground, the chicken man who could throw exploding eggs, the berserk gryphon that spread terror, etc….
The intimidating hero wondered how his fellow heroes were so lucky. They for some reason didn't encounter any monsters while he encountered at least two on a daily basis.
It seemed as though ever since his power manifested, he attracted more and more monsters to his location. It was honestly getting difficult to be in public since there were always monsters in his way.
"Since then have you healed?" Kamikaze inquired.
"Eh?" Bang responded, surprised at the line of questioning but responded anyway. "Obviously, though if I was in my youth then I wouldn't have gotten injured at all. Compared to my younger years, I find myself a bit winded after sprinting a few dozen miles. Though I feel like I've hit my peak in terms of martial arts."
Bang inadvertently released an intense aura that radiated sheer power that scared away all the wildlife.
Now, now you're scaring all the fish away," Kamikaze said lazily. "Though I have to agree with you, I'm not getting any younger. I had to cut the sake and I can't go drinking for weeks like I used to. But my mind is sharper than ever."
An intense sharp aura emanated from the samurai, cutting through the atmosphere like a blade.
"Now you're doing it as well." Bang commented. King just watched the two, bewildered by their sudden titanic pressures.
"But in the end, the aliens weren't too troubling, but that shapeshifting guy was a bit tricky."
"Shapeshifting guy?" King inquired curiously.
"Oh, right... you weren't there, were you?" King shook his head.
"Well he wasn't very tough but he was annoying. Every time I cut him up he regenerated, I was sure that I would have to listen to him yammer on for days." The unsaid message inside the samurai's words conveyed that Kamikaze would eventually kill Melzargard, the regenerating alien.
"But Bang here managed to find his weak spot." Kamikaze explained, patting the old man on his shoulder in a friendly manner. "He had a blue marble inside every head,"
"Every head?" King questioned, didn't monsters usually only have one? There were rare occurrences where mysterious beings had more than one head, but they usually had multiple personalities and were easier to deal with.
"He had eight, I think," Bang informed. "But after we broke them all he died."
Eight! That was an incredible number, King was surprised that the alien didn't kill itself with so many different personalities.
"Did he have differing personalities?" The stoic hero asked inquisitively.
"I didn't notice," Atomic Samurai stated. "All he did was chatter away, did you Silverfang?"
"No, I didn't pay much attention, but from what I did grasp, all of his heads contained the same personality," Bang replied.
"Interesting," King muttered.
"Why," The rank 5 hero questioned.
"Nothing important," King shook his head. "It's just that every multi-headed monster that I've fought had a different personality in each of its heads. I wonder if the alien had a psychic link that connected his mind?"
"Oh?" The old hero queried. "I don't think that I've fought any monster that had multiple heads, but if they were like that alien then it doesn't really matter how strong they are, right?"
"I guess, but I fought a nine-headed Hydra that could breathe many elements in the form of energy beams. While it was only a demon level threat, it could cause a lot of environmental damage.
"If any other hero fought it, a large part of the city would have been destroyed, perhaps the whole city. Although perhaps Tatsumaki could have stopped it like me- in one hit." King explained.
This was one of the longest speeches that the rank 2 hero had given to his fellow S-class heroes. Ever since he manifested his powers, his confidence was slowly rising and he was opening up to his fellows a bit more.
"I don't think that I heard of that," Bang said.
"You wouldn't," King told them. "I ended it with one hit. I did my best to minimize property damage so I killed it quickly."
"Wooow," Kamikaze drawled. "So you're finally breaking out of your shell, ay? What alien did you fight to make you so open?"
"I fought their leader Boros with my friend Saitama. He could probably be a God level threat." King ignored the first question.
"This is the first I'm hearing about this," Bang said with a finger stroking his goatee.
"Oh?" Kamikaze asked questioningly at the same time. "God level? That's new, are you sure that you're not overestimating him? After all, I'm pretty sure that there has never been a God level threat since the Association's founding."
"The alien, Boros, said his title was the Dominator of the Universe and that he had bested many other powerful opponents," King replied.
"Even though he fought a few chumps, that isn't enough to qualify to be a God level threat. Dragon, understandable- but God. That's too much." Kamikaze stated arrogantly.
"Maybe so, but his strongest attack had the power to completely destroy the Earth's surface if left unchecked. However me and Saitama stopped it and he's dead, the Earth is safe." King stated calmly.
"Saitama? Is he some powerful hermit that came out of hiding?" The samurai asked King.
King didn't know how to explain who Saitama was to Atomic Samurai, but Bang who clearly understood his dilemma took over and explained: "Kamikaze, do you remember that bald B-class hero that sat with us in the S-class meeting?"
The swordsman racked his brain, a concentrated expression appeared on his face. "Wait are you talking about that stupid-looking fellow?"
Bang nodded, "that's Saitama."
"Impossible!" Kamikaze exclaimed angrily, "stop playing around. Who is he really?!"
"That's him," King said, backing up Bang's words.
"But he was so dull and moronic, there's no way that was actually him." Atomic Samurai denied disbelievingly.
"Before I arrived Saitama had held Boros off and we defeated him together. Though I'm sure that even without my help, he would have easily defeated him. Speaking of which, I've nominated him for S-class."
"It's about time," Bang said. "I'm glad you did so as well, I'm sure Genos-Kun has sent his letter of recommendation too. Hopefully Saitama will finally get what he deserves- credit for his heroic actions."
"Hmmm…" Kamikaze hummed, "perhaps I should go see this Saitama as well. I'll give my judgement to the Hero Association afterwards."
On the other side of the lake
The A-class hero Chain'n'toad stepped out of the bushes. He grunted in dismay, "these are-"
Chain'n'toad looked down on the shore and saw inhumanely large tracks leading into the lake. "Hey, Mumen Rider! I've found something."
"You did?" Mumen Rider rushed out from behind the bushes. He stopped next to his fellow hero and crouched, "these tracks are unmistakable- the monster escaped into the lake."
"So it was aquatic after all," Chain'n'toad stated. "We better watch ourselves, the monster has the overwhelming advantage over us. For all we know, it could be watching us now! I-"
"Chain Toad!" Mumen Rider exclaimed, "look over there!" He gestured over to the middle of the lake. "There are some people fishing over there!"
"We need to warn them!" Chain'n'toad responded.
"No!" Mumen Rider exclaimed. "If we tell them now, they'll likely panic. We'll lead the monster right to its defenceless prey. In order to protect the civilians..." He paused, "we'll need to defeat it right now!"
Back on the boat
"... And speaking of the Hero Association, many of the kids there think they're hot stuff." Atomic Samurai stated. "Not you, of course, King," he clarified when King looked at him. "I'm talking about those rookies like Bad, Flashy Flash, Amai Mask and even Demon Cyborg to name a few."
"I don't necessarily agree with all your examples but in general, I have to agree- hot air is all they're full of." Bang acknowledged. "What about your experiences King?"
"Hm?" King was caught unaware.
"What I meant was considering you are a member of the younger generation, how do you think the youths are nowadays?" Bang clarified.
"Hmm..." King thought hard and well about his experiences with his fellow heroes. Tatsumaki was terrifying, Metal Bat was also incredibly unpleasant, Amai Mask was downright egotistical and murderous and Fubuki had been a terrible person, acting more like a gang leader than a hero. They were the radical cases, but they were apt representations of the rot that was inside the Hero Association.
But on the other hand, there were heroes like Saitama who whilea bit misguided, helped and refused to take credit for his deeds. There were also positive examples such as Genos who had an intense desire for justice and would rise to the challenge, Tanktop Master who helped everyone and even weak but heroic heroes like the famed cyclist of justice Mumen Rider.
"I think that while there are many bad eggs, that doesn't mean that the current youth should be judged by them. There are many heroic examples such as Tanktop Master or Mumen Rider, who while not the strongest, shine the brightest!" King finished his impassioned opinion with a shout.
He looked around and saw Bang and Kamikaze's dumbstruck expressions and chuckled sheepishly. "Sorry, It's just that I'm very passionate when it comes to the subject of heroics."
"No, no, it's fine." Bang assured the scarred hero reassuringly. "Excuse me but have you've always felt that way?"
"Ehm," King stuttered. "Well I guess I've felt this way since my childhood when I read plenty of Manga about heroes."
"And this inspired you?" Atomic Samurai asked, tacking on his question to King's answer.
"I… guess," King said after a brief pause.
"I see," Silverfang and Atomic Samurai said in unison.
With Mumen Rider and Chain'n'toad
'The battle with the Aliens reminded me of how incredible the S-class heroes are. They sacrificed so much to reach that level of strength, so I too must put it all on the line- to save innocents!' Mumen Rider thought to himself emotionally while clenching his fist.
"Shh!" Chain'n'toad shushed him after Mumen Rider accidentally said the last part of his speech out loud. "I sense a presence."
They both looked at the lake cautiously.
With the S-class heroes
"And if we're on the topic of heroic actions, is Iaian who sacrificed his arm, alright?" Bang asked.
"He lost his arm? You have my sympathies," King said after hearing the elder's question.
"Huh?" Kamikaze grunted.
"It must be pretty hard on him… to lose his right arm when he is right-handed. All the more because he's such a dedicated swordsman. His whole life's work, gone down the drain." Silverfang elaborated.
"Heh, don't underestimate my disciple," Atomic Samurai replied irately.
"Even as we speak, my student is working his ass off to become even more dangerous with one arm than he was with two."
Kamikaze looked at Bang and inadvertently looked at King as well. "That's the kind of man one has to be to become my disciple."
King's eyes widened. The ability to overcome life-crippling obstacles and make them your strength. That was a quality only heroes had! Man, compared to them he felt like such a fraud.
"My apologies." Bang replied, his eyes crinkling. "It was a foolish question. It was never my intention to insult you or Iaian."
"Forget it." Atomic Samurai said good-naturedly, his previous irritation gone like it was never there.
"I can't help but admire your student Atomic Samurai." King said, "such a mindset is an invaluable tool to have, especially as a hero. I have no doubt that he will only grow stronger."
"Mah, mah." Kamikaze smiled when he heard King's praise. "To receive such high praise from you is such a rarity. I'm sure that when I tell him he'll be delighted."
"But to hear you describe such dedication, such honour… I thought I found these qualities in him too." Bang said somberly. The previous jubilant atmosphere dissapeared in an instant. In Bang's eyes was a nostalgic look.
"Hmm?" Atomic Samurai looked at the elderly teacher questioningly. King had no doubt that Bang was talking about his renegade student Garou.
"You could say he broke my heart." On Bang's face was a wide smile, that anyone could tell was fake, a mask to hide away the pain.
"There's nothing you could have done. I don't understand the youngsters today, as I said, even some of the younger heroes. They just don't make sense to me."
"Well I'd say that the Hero Association's methods are partly responsible: Points, Rankings, Popularity, they've lost all sight of what it means to be a hero." Silverfang responded, taking the change of subject in stride.
"I agree with all your points, but at the same time I have to defend my own position; that while there are plenty of bad apples, there are also plenty of good ones as well." King added.
"Now, now. We weren't denying your points, merely highlighting the problem." Bang said pacifyingly.
"Anyway King, but you can't deny there isn't a problem. There's even a hero who wears a frog's head over his own because he isn't popular enough…" Atomic Samurai responded.
King had no argument towards that point and shrugged.
On the lakeshore
After watching the water for a few minutes Chain'n'toad leapt into the air and launched his chain into the water. "Found you!" He exclaimed triumphantly. "I think I scored a hit!"
Unfortunately for him at that moment, the monster decided to resist and Chain'n'toad was pulled into the water.
"Come help me!" He called out to Mumen Rider, who immediately jumped into the water and helped pull.
The monster pulled as well, dragging the heroes further and further into the lake. As a result of its strength, a whirlpool was beginning to form directly above it. Both heroes understood the peril they were in.
"If the monster struggles any more, those fishermen will get pulled in!" Mumen Rider shouted.
"So what do we do?" Chain'n'toad shouted back.
"If we injure it, it'll have to slow down!" The helmeted hero replied. "That's the only solution I can think of!"
Mumen Rider then unexpectedly dove into the lake.
"Oy Rider! Damn it." The masked hero swore under his breath before diving under the waves as well.
A minute later a large salamander-frog hybrid leapt out of the water and clutched in his hand was the powerless Mumen Rider.
Back in the boat
"Have you noticed more monster appearances lately?" Atomic Samurai asked.
"You noticed too?" King replied.
"I did," Bang said.
"So did I," Kamikaze responded. "And it's not just the quantity, it's the quality and overall power as well."
"Perhaps these are simply the times we live in?" The elderly hero asked.
"No, recently I've been receiving premonitions that something big will happen soon," King said solemnly.
The older heroes looked at each other with a hint of trepidation. If the legendary King says that there's something to worry about then they should be worried.
The resulting clash between Chain'n'toad, Mumen Rider and the reptilian monster caused an enormous wave that headed straight towards Bang, Kamikaze and King's small fishing boat. The boat got flipped over.
The three passengers jumped over the wave and landed on the now-flipped boat and continued their fishing while gazing at the battle between the Chain'n'toad and the frog monster.
Mumen Rider had been sent flying out of the lake and landed on the shore with a loud thud.
The A-ranked hero stood on one rock in the lake while the frog monster was on a nearby one. "How about this!"
Chain'n'toad launched his chain and after the monster dodged he hooked it back so that it was pulled around the monster's throat. But when the hero tried to pull the monster to himself he failed.
The monster laughed, "while you are skilled, you lack strength! As you are now, you shall never defeat me, the mighty War Salamander! From this very lake, the surface world shall experience armageddon! Hahaha!"
He then yanked the chain causing Chain'n'toad to be sent flying in his direction.
"Ahhh!" The hero yelled, his legs flailing helplessly behind him. War Salamander leapt into the air and opened his large mouth. Chain'n'toad wasn't able to dodge and was swallowed by the monster.
"Guess that's the best he could do…" Bang commented while watching the scene unfold.
"I'm going to go help him," King stated, ready to attack the monster.
"Wait, wait." Atomic Samurai expressed reassuringly. "Of course we'll help, I just want to see what the other hero will do."
"That's Mumen Rider, of course, he will do the right thing, or try to… I'm pretty sure he'll fail." King commented, feeling the need to defend the most heroic individual in the Hero Association.
War Salamander turned to Mumen Rider, "on the battlefield only a fool pursues the enemy into their native element. Because of you, your friend is dead! Hahahaha!"
Mumen Rider groaned in pain. War Salamander turned around, "now to eradicate all witnesses and I shall report back. Let's see who's here." His eyes fell on the trio in the upturned fishing boat.
"See those fishermen?" He asked Mumen Rider, "they shall be the victims that you couldn't save because of your stupidity! Do you see how scared they are? They're trembling so much that their legs don't work!"
The monster was prepared to jump off the rock and into the water when he heard a loud shout, "I won't let you!"
The cyclist of justice had managed to rise to his feet and was glaring at the salamander through a half-broken visor.
"Have you forgotten our fight now? No way a weak, talentless tadpole like yourself could defeat such a powerful being as me. Or perhaps you simply have a death wish?" War Salamander smirked arrogantly.
Instead of responding, the cyclist of justice dove into the waves.
"Impudence!" The monster declared before jumping in as well. Under the waves, Mumen Rider charged at War Salamander and smashed into him while screaming "Justice Tackle!"
Of course, the charge barely moved the aquatic monster and it dove to the bottom of the lake and started smashing the hero into the ground.
"Alright we've seen enough, you've convinced me." Atomic Samurai said with a smile, "while he definitely isn't strong enough, he definitely has guts."
"Perhaps I shall take him as a disciple? Hmm." Bang said out loud.
King's heart which had been beating rapidly boomed and his King Engine's arm materialised and shot into the water. In an instant, the War Salamander clenched in the avatar's hand.
Mumen Rider had been holding onto the monster's tail. He looked terrible, the only other time King could remember him in worse shape was his fight with that aquatic monster "Deep Sea King."
King manifested his avatar's other arm and gently placed the wounded hero onto it, before depositing him onto the shore.
"Now to get the other one out," He muttered. The King Engine moved it's finger and pressed down on the monster's lower abdomen. Immediately Chain'n'toad was puked out and was launched into the water.
"Wait, wait!" War Salamander cried. "Please don't kill me, I'll tell you everything!"
"Hmm?" King quizzically hummed.
"I-" He was interrupted by a huge explosion in the lake.