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My Hero Academia: Far Beyond Max Omega! [IC/PROBABLY NOT ACCEPTING/PG-16/BEST RP 2020 WINNER]

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Ayane clung onto the dragon-girl's shoulders as best she could, despite the awkward angle of attack. Due to her large wings and the difficulty of maintaining stable flight, this seemed to be an effective blind spot for Shannon. Unfortunately for the budding Riot Hero, Shannon wasn't alone.

“Get off of me!” Shannon roared, thrashing about in the air to try and shake Ayane off, but it wasn’t her actions that had an impact. Instead, Ayane, clinging to one side of her target, would instead find herself being slammed into by Diana from her left, being swung about by the dragon girl’s struggle.

“Ayane, just leave her alone!” Diana yelled for the first time as she hung on for dear life, gritting her teeth, “This is getting you nowhere, just putting us in danger!”

“Right now I would really love to!” Ayane responded. “But I’m going to be completely honest with you, Diana! I haven’t really worked out how to land from up here!” Especially not without my Quirk getting that boost from Syo…

“Then what was your plan in the first place!? To get stuck up here with me!? To piss her off!?” Diana got louder and louder as Shannon’s thrashing seemed to slow, if only just a little. “I don’t know what happened, but this isn’t the way to solve it!”

“I don’t know either, okay!?” Ayane’s grip briefly faltered, prompting her at this height to redouble her efforts at not having a long trip down to the rest of the action below. “You two had so many points and it had been so long since I saw her and I thought to show up and say something like ‘look I know we have a bit of a history but I’m a whole new girl now!’”

"Gotcha.”

As Ayane explained herself and tried to get a grip, she felt a claw manage to snag her shirt, quickly snatching Ayane with all the might Shannon could muster… and throwing her like a cheap bag at Syo, a wild grin on her face.

“Shit.” Syo had barely wiped away the trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth before being hit by his thrown partner, right in his center of mass. With a flash of light, he reformed the 11-EX armor around Ayane, but there were now visible gaps in the suit. One off-key note hastily plucked on a random string was enough to produce a platform for the two, now one once again, to land on.  Listen, Ayane, I can’t keep this up. I think we only have a few more seconds as 11-EX. Mind giving me the wheel? I’m gonna need a good string of notes.

…Alright. Whatever you’ve got in mind, go for it!

“Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” Shannon asked with a weirdly calm, but venomous voice, the grin on her face completely out of sorts. To Diana, it even looked like her mouth might have been even wider than it normally was, “I warned you. I tried. I tried so, so hard. And you wouldn’t listen. The consequences are your own fault!”

The dragoness flapped her mighty wings, shooting down at the injured 11-EX in a nosedive, Diana clinging on for dear life. The points didn’t even need to be guarded in this fight, so why did Shannon even choose her? Why was Ayane doing this now of all times? Why was she so… useless? Even with the powerup for the other two, Shannon had done everything, and all Diana had done was hold her back.

She is stronger than us. But if we do this right, we’re faster. We get in, and we hit that target before she has a chance to react. And we get the fuck out.

LETS FUCKIN GO!

As Ayane controlled the pair’s arms to tear out a fast and incredibly complex solo, a set of what almost appeared to be rocket boosters appeared on 11-EX’s back. With a flash of light, they rocketed forward, straight at Shannon, spiraling in a tight corkscrew that took an unexpected path, dipping off course only to zip up at their enemy from a low angle. Syo could see their victory clearly through their shared eyes, the dragon girl had failed to track them through their dodge. This was their chance! 11-EX reached out with their right arm, ready to land the decisive blow, before- 

"Diana!?”

Shannon’s track drew to a halt as she felt Diana kick off of her back, the blonde girl’s good eye keeping track of 11-EX’s movements, and her body moving on sheer instinct. Falling down at them as Shannon’s look changed from one of murderous intent to one of absolute fear, Diana’s mind only had time to correct her actions on one account.

If you hit them with your left arm, you’ll lose it.

Instead, she drew back her right arm as she fell into striking distance and slammed her fist into the rocket boosters, shattering the source of 11-EX’s speed… as well as her own arm, shattering into metal pieces that fell down to the ground along with Diana and her opponents alike.

With the impact, a sound like that of thunder could be heard, as Syo was violently cloven from Ayane. With a look of shock, he used one hand to wipe away the blood leaking from every facial orifice, grabbing Ayane’s wrist with the other and tossing her upward as best he could.

Sporting her own look of shock, Ayane put her hands to the neck and body of the guitar for one last chord. Diana and her points were right in front of her. She could do… something, take them, then plummet. As long as Syo caught her, everything would work out. If he could catch her. That was way too risky of a plan though. Instead, when the last blaring note rang out from the amp on her chest, what appeared was a platform, situated to catch both of the flightless girls before the descent got too dangerous. And then there was a very disappointing spurt of static from the amp.

“Ah…”

Looking at a gauge on the shoulder of her setup, Ayane’s eyes widened at the display. The amp’s battery had run out. "So… my amp ran out of power.” Grabbing the target and pulling it off her chest, Ayane held it out for Diana. "To the victor go the spoils.”

“Gotcha!”

While Ayane may have expected Diana to grab the target, instead she felt the girl’s strong grip toss her up just a bit, before catching her with that same arm, hugging her to her body as they fell to the ground. Not a moment later, a sudden whoosh shot past the girls, flapping through the sky as Diana found herself in Shannon’s arms, with Ayane in tow. While the look from earlier had softened some, Shannon still seemed to be in a state of panic as she headed down to the ground, attention fried enough that Ayane’s presence was lost on her.

"Di… Ms. Seigi, that was reckless! What were you thinking?”

“Ah, you know,” Diana tried to move her right arm to rub the back of her head, only to realize nothing was happening, "I didn’t achieve much for us, but I was able to keep you two from hurting each other… well, more than you already did.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I think my pride’s hurt more than my body.”

The dragon girl tensed up as her eyes slowly tracked past Diana to the girl she held, her eyes widening in shock, before she abruptly looked ahead, adjusting to slowly descend to the ground, wings flapping as she took a more upright position.

"... What I said stands. Do you understand, girl? I suppose you should be grateful for Ms. Seigi catching you. I’ll honor it… just this once.”

“What I said also stands. Just leaving it like this between us doesn’t sit well with me. Even if it takes so long that I’m a shriveled old hag, I’m not giving up.”

"Insolent little… were it not for Ms. Seigi, I would surely drop you!”

Diana sighed as the bickering continued onward, holding onto Ayane extra tight at that statement, as much as she could with one arm. Sure, things weren’t great, but everyone was safe… right?

Meanwhile, Syo was plummeting toward the ground. His eyes were drowned out with blood, but even if they were not he could see the tunnel vision beginning to close in, and every muscle in his body ached intensely as he felt an impending sense of doom creep at the back of his mind. But I am not going to die here. Heroes don’t die in their first chapter. Sputtering out the blood that was clogging his throat, Syo shouted with all his remaining might:

“ATSUSHIIIIIIIIII!”

Fortunately, his classmate had good hearing.

Though he couldn’t see or hear what was going on with his own senses, he knew the identity of the one who grabbed him by the scruff of his sports uniform and decelerated his way down to the ground. All in all, the response time was less than a second. Pretty good. Can’t imagine why this guy didn’t try out for the hero course with a quirk and skills like his. Syo could feel his feet touch the ground, and though he stumbled slightly, didn’t quite pass out. Barely able to peek through one eye, he grinned up at Atsushi, who looked back down at him with an expression seemingly made up of equal parts concern and annoyance.

Then, suddenly the boy’s target was struck by… Was that a tongue..? Whatever it was, it came out of nowhere and at lightning speeds, like those slow motion shots of chameleons catching bugs. Before he could ponder it much, however, the buzzer signaling the end of the event sounded.


"And that concludes the Chicken Fight portion of this year's Sports Festival," Orikami addressed the crowd and participants alike through the stadium's speakers, "if you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight."

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Though her face remained neutral, a hint of joy was evident in her speech as she continued, "This final stage, as is tradition, will be single elimination sparring matches. While the previous rounds focused on adaptability, the eventual winner will be decided based on raw combat strength. The first rounds will all be conducted simultaneously, starting in one hour" She shot a cold expression toward Mayu, before beaming at the descending Shannon with pride. After a few seconds, she straightened her back, adjusted her paper skirt, and walked off the stage.

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Hakaro scowled as confetti rained down around him. If I knew all I would have left to do is G-rated Mardi Gras I wouldn't have lost so easily. The area surrounding the stadium had been transformed into an enormous carnival complete with food, rides, and even a fortune teller tucked away in the corner. A few of his other classmates that didn't make it to the third round of the Sports Festival had dragged him out here, something about him spending too much time sulking on his own.

"Fine, we're out here, the fuck are we going to do?"


Alrighty. If you feel the need to, you can justify your characters' positions, either having succeeded or failed in the Chicken Fight, but I think it was pretty clear that the team fight structure was too much of a non-starter as far as making the RP work so hand waving it is totally cool too. Live and learn. Our top 8 are all people I think will be able to get posts out, so the A-plot should go along without too many hitches. For those participating in the fights, I highly encourage you to start working on them ahead of time.

For characters not in the bracket, there is a carnival outside to explore and have fun with. I intentionally left the group out there ambiguous for the ease of others.

As always, any questions feel free to ask on discord, either in the group or DM.


 

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Team Iron Spider
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The planned worked...though the ending part of this improved plan was actually something neither competitor could've imagined happening. But regardless, it happened. On Benjamin's mark, Risa pulled a now fully bitten and webbed up Mayu's bola and down to the ground she went. What transpired next for Atsushi, well...

“ATSUSHIIIIIIIIII!”

"Wait...oh man that guy's gonna..." Benjamin started, watching this falling blue haired young man falling to his inevitable doom...until Atsushi was now grabbed by the falling student and having his descent being slowed down, almost to the point where the one individual's feet were at the ground. Of course, the one student was already on the ground safely...but now Benjamin looked at the one seeing him so close to the ground. "Risa...Risa the weight!" he said quickly.

No sooner after saying that, the young woman began to pull the weight and it came at full speed, zooming towards Atsushi and clipping his legs in turn causing the young man to start spinning violently in the air. From what Benjamin also noticed, Risa pulling something else: the small target. Or at least she would be...if he didn't notice something else snagging it...a tongue...a lizard's tongue. Rika, no doubt about it... ...and without much of anything else...Atsushi fell onto the ground in the most comedic way possible, about the time the buzzer sounded.


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"And that concludes the Chicken Fight portion of this year's Sports Festival. If you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight."

Benjamin was surprised...even at a loss for words. The top eight...Sun, Shannon, Rika, Takehiko, Diana, Kio...and then Risa and himself. He stood there in awe for a moment before looking at Risa with a smile. "Hey! Congrats! We did it!!" he said joyfully.

Risa stared up at the scoreboard, her eyes wide and twitchy. "Did we live?" she asked hazily, sounding as if she were talking through a head injury.

"Thanks to our combined efforts, we sure did!" he extended a fist towards Risa and smiled, the two bumping fists with each other. "We got each other to the Top 8...now we really get to show everyone what we can do."

After this little exchange, Benjamin let Risa go meet up with her friends, figuring now was probably the best time for them to part ways for the time being. Would fate bring them together in a match? He wasn't sure...same time, he wasn't even expecting to arrive here, but now that he was...he-...

"Benjamin O'Hara? Are you as surprised as we are to see you in the top 8?"

He blinked for a moment, seeing himself now cornered in one of the hallways to the locker rooms. By whom, one may ask? Answer was simple: reporters for a TV station. It was...odd...to say the least. Out of no where these vultures descended...and this TV station was...basically one that dealt with gossip but at the same time, it spoke the truth and did actual journalism here and there when it was beneficial for them, if Benjamin was correct. Still, least it wasn't anything majorly incriminating.

The question was asked once more, which released Benjamin from his stupor. "Oh...uh...honestly, I am. Don't get me wrong, I was fine just making it into the Top 16, but I wasn't expecting to make it to Top 8. Guess it just helps that I had a great partner that round."

"It definitely helps to have someone with such a heroic legacy to ride along with. So what is an American doing at UA?"

Intrusive, aren't they? he thought, but focused a bit on the beginning. Again with that... "Heroic legacy or not, Risa was a great partner." Benjamin dismissed this comment originally, cause it didn't matter who her father was...she was her own person. "As for the question at hand, well you know how it is, family moves due to a job opportunity for your parent and the local Heroes just ignited the spark to be a Hero and where else to learn from then the place that has given us so many great Heroes!"

"The local heroes inspired you? Someone your age must have been a big fan of Omega Star growing up, right?"

"She was alright...no disrespect, but..." he paused, before looking away for a moment. A slight sigh escaped his lips before looking back, deciding now was the time to just say it. "...Eight-Legged Hero: Silky was my Hero..."

"Silky..? I can't say I'm familiar."

This made Benjamin's heart sink at hearing such a revelation from these people. "I believe she was still a student at the time I met her...and she saved me that day..." he started explaining, he seemed lost in his thoughts at this point. "She was the one who ignited the spark in me...I owe everything to Hachimoto Sayaka."

"It's not unheard of for hero students to dabble in heroics once they are licensed. Where-..."

It seemed the reporter said something...but Benjamin heard the words begin to trail off. He closed his eyes, letting out a sigh as he thought upon the events of that day. The memories were still vivid...just as if it happened yesterday.


BGM

It was supposed to be a normal day in December at the mall...more specifically the newest mall that opened for business, Nev-Arro Central Mall. Of course, Benjamin was there with his mother off to do a bit of Christmas shopping, the young child wanting to find something special for his father for a gift.

Unfortunately, it never panned out that direction…

Benjamin's mother was talking to a friend she bumped into and he went off to look at a few windows with some new flashy toys and electronics, so he separated from her. That was when it happened...in a blur, what went from a nice, calm winter day became a hellish nightmare in an instant. Panic ensued as three villains took over the mall, but what was worse, Benjamin was now separated from his mother in this panic...the mall was currently on fire and he was trapped on the inside. The only thing he could do was having to hide away just to make sure he wasn't found. But with the smoke from the fire filling the mall...the sounds of coughs could be heard everywhere.

What of his Quirk? His Spider Colony Quirk couldn't help much...but try as he might, he did work with his spiders to try and keep an eye on the situation. He didn't want to run into the villains...he didn't want to be found by them…

I...I don't want to d-die… Benjamin thought, coughing some more. He prayed his spiders would catch the eye of some Pro Heroes...or the police...or someone. Tears started to well in his eyes, having every possible scenario play in his head.

That's when his spiders caught sight of something. Or rather, someone. They caught sight of her. He looked up, seeing a young lady, the bottom half of a spider and the rest like a normal girl. Although she had soot and wasn't looking the best, Benjamin could see the pure sincerity in her eyes as she held out her hand.

"Hey little guy." the young lady spoke, a small cough coming from her. She motioned with her eyes to her hand, the young boy now noticing there was a spider in her hand. "Guessing this is one of yours. Lucky he found me, and good on you with that Quirk of yours." The spider jumped from her hand back to Benjamin, who was sniffling slightly. "Go on, just take my hand. I'm Silky, I'm a Hero."

A Hero? And she was a spider girl...and...she complimented his Quirk. Benjamin nodded, immediately taking the hand of Silky and he was whisked away. He covered his eyes, he didn't want to see anymore of this. But eventually, he felt the winter air hitting him and he finally looked to see that he was outside. Silky put him down and immediately his mother was rushing to him in a hug. Benjamin would immediately turn around to try and thank the Hero, but all he saw was the spider girl scurrying back inside the mall to rescue others.

He stayed there near the mall, sitting in an ambulance as he was checked up on by some paramedics. That's when the mall finally collapsed...and of course, the Hero that saved his life, was gone. Benjamin couldn't believe this...he wouldn't believe it...

It was however true, as Benjamin found himself at the funeral for the Hero a few days later. After hearing and reading about it, he begged his parents to let him go to it, to which they graciously accepted this for him. He was silent the whole time at the funeral for Silky...no...for Hachimoto Sayaka. He noticed that there were many different Heroes and students there to pay their respects, but he didn’t pay too much attention to who was there.

As some were already expressing their condolences and best wishes to her family, Benjamin slowly approached the casket and just shook his head, keeping himself from crying. “...I...I didn’t even get...to say thank you...” he muttered, sniffling lightly before wiping a few stray tears. “...t-t-thank you...Silky.” He moved away, not before placing a rose made of webbing on the casket. “...y-you...were just like me. I...just wish I had met you...b-before...”

As he left the funeral, Benjamin could hear something from his spiders: "She saved us...can...can we do that?"

This was a question that Benjamin never had crossed his mind. He wasn't as strong as the Eight-Legged Hero, he couldn't make his own webs...he was simply a guy with a mental psychic link to his spiders in which he housed within him. But then again, it did beg the question...could he do that? Could he be a Hero like Silky? It was that day he decided...no, they all decided that this would be the spark to reignite his want and desire to become a Hero.

"We've lost one spider hero...we need to be there to take up that position…" Benjamin thought, looking at a few of the spiders that were in his hand. "...we'll be a Hero that Silky would be proud of!!"


"O'Hara?"

Benjamin once again was snapped from his stupor as he cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?"

"Where is this hero operating these days?"

"..." Silence fell over Benjamin, sighing heavily as he rubbed the back of his neck slightly. "She died...Nev-Arro Central Mall's burning building collapsed and she was lost in it..."

"Oh. Well, uh, good luck."

That was it...that was the end of the interview? Benjamin sighed, watching the group leave immediately as he just leaned back on the wall and let out a heavy sigh. ...never heard of her? ...she saved so many people that day...myself included...h-how...how could no one even have heard of her? he thought, shaking his head slowly. Same time, he figured one person would've known with the memory he had: Kio. Perhaps that would be a question for him later... Right now, however, he had an hour to kill...he needed to mentally and physically prepare himself.

Edited by Chaos Sonic

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Before Kio knew it, the buzzer rang off.  The second round was over, and Kio sat atop Sun's shoulders, barely hanging on.  With Kio's strategy, and Sun's surprising amount of intellect and speed, they were able to muster up a decent amount of points.  His breathing was heavy, and his nerves hadn't stopped jittering after the intense chicken fights that happened across the stage.  

"What a challenge..." He panted, laying his arms across Sun's head, and flopping over them like a ragdoll.  "I gotta admit, Sun, I thought this would've been a lot easier.  But I'm glad you were my hair-clad chariot."  He lost his balance, but was too exhausted to stop himself, as he fell over onto the ground in front of Sun with a thud.  He held up an upward thumb towards the Monkey Boy.  "Nice Fight!  Let's meet in the finals!" 

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"And that concludes the Chicken Fight portion of this year's Sports Festival," Orikami addressed the crowd and participants alike through the stadium's speakers, "if you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight."  Kio smiled as he saw his face displayed on the screen, once again, for everyone to see.  All of his hard work had been paying off!  Maybe he could be a real hero after all.  His eyes then made his way towards his bracket mate.  Benjamin O'Hara.  A pesk to be sure.  The thought of a cascading wave of creepy crawlies heading his way sent shivers down his spine.   "This final stage, as is tradition, will be single elimination sparring matches. While the previous rounds focused on adaptability, the eventual winner will be decided based on raw combat strength. The first rounds will all be conducted simultaneously, starting in one hour"

"One hour to prepare myself, huh?  I don't think enough mental imaging will get me ready for this..."  Kio sighed.  He decided to go limber himself up in the waiting rooms near the lockers.  On his way, he stumbled upon O'Hara talking to what looked like the press.  As they left his opponent, they noticed him in the hall as well, and made a mad dash towards him.  Kio was no strange to the press, but most of his interviews came from middle school students and local small time newspapers.  

"Akagi Kio? What are your thoughts going into the 1v1 portion of the Festival?"

"Well I'm totally pumped!  I get to show Japan what I can really do!  Maybe I'll even get scouted early by a top agency!!"  Kio's grin was wide and shiny.  

"How does it feel for the whole country to know your quirk after that information got leaked? To be able to copy any quirk you see is incredible! How many memory cards do you have right now?"

"Well I couldn't keep it secret forever, right?! Although it's kind of like I've already had my hero debut...a bummer it wasn't revealed in a battle with a villain." Kio pulled one of his memory cards out of his pocket, making sure to cover the label of the quirk named on it, and passed it along the middles of his fingers back and forth. "Now I cant be giving away all of my secrets! You never know who's watching a broadcast!"

"Quirks that copy other quirks are exceedingly rare, one hasn't had this level of spotlight since the villain Wendigo went missing half a decade ago. How does it feel to be such a rarity even among the best?" 

'Why bring that scum into this?'

"Well I certainly don't think I'm anything special! A lot of my classmates have way more unique quirks than me! Trust me, I have half of them!" Kio laughed. "What I will say is that I have a rare drive to better myself! I hope I can get support from everyone!"

"One last question: Who do you think will win it all? We have our own guesses, but we'd love to hear it from someone closer to it all!"

"Well I've put a lot of thought into this myself...in terms of raw Quirk power, my money is on Almaz! But I think the biggest wildcard is Kanda! There's still so much more to his potential than I've seen!" Kio flashed a peace sign to the camera. "But don't count me out just yet! I'll make sure to do my best! I'm going to win this sports festival!"

With the interview over, the cockroaches scurried away to find their next victim.  Speaking of cockroaches, Kio's attention turned to O'Hara.  The two hadn't had much interaction before now, but it looked like that would probably come to an end here.

"Yo, Ben!"  Kio said with a salute and smile.  "Looks like we'll be duking it out soon, huh?  Don't go easy on me, got it?  Because I won't come at you with anything other than my best!"  Kio was in no way underestimating Ben, but he had stepped over bigger stones in his time.  

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It worked! Rika was in disbelief, she managed to strike just at the moment Atsushi was distracted enough to get his points. She felt a little bad sniping them from him specifically, considering he had been really helpful to her during the first round, but what else could she do? The others were all too focused and guarded and he was the easiest to tag at that particular moment... Especially with the end so close. She laughed gently, her hands were shaking a tiny bit as the buzzer rang, calling the end of the chicken fight...

"if you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight."

She took a deep breath as she turned her attention to the screen, her colors started to shift towards a pale blue, swirled with green as her hands pressed together. She was probably lucky, honestly. If she had been put up against someone like Sun or Shannon right away, she wasn't sure she was going to have a chance. Instead, she was up against Risa, the rising force from the Support Course who had stunned audiences, and some of the contestants. Did she really have much of a chance there, either?

She took a deep breath, her hands clenching together as she did. Those thoughts weren't helpful even a tiny bit, and she wasn't going to dwell on it! She had more important things to do, like go as far into this as possible. She might've be new to the Hero Course, but Risa wasn't a Hero Course student either, they were on pretty similar footing here, and Rika wasn't going to psyche herself out because of the big talk from others!

She took one, deep breath as she stepped out of the battle arena, she had to prepare herself mentally for this, and there were two people she knew she could count on when she needed to get ready for this upcoming task.

──── ⋆⋅✦⋅⋆ ────

"Hoshino Rika! How does it feel to be a replacement student for the undercover villain, and now be receiving clout for two successes in the Sports Festival!"

Crap. Rika took a deep breath as she was jumped on by cameras, her eyes narrowing a tiny bit as she tried to look for a quick escape. She wasn't able to spot anything in time sadly, and was doomed to the endless torture for the time being. She flinched for a moment after the question about the undercover villain, but... She wasn't a replacement for that, seems like information got a bit muddled over time, she was even there when Tsubasa had been arrested...

Her face fell for a moment, her skin turning a soft shade of red as she finally addressed the questions, without turning towards the cameras.  "I'm proud of my performance so far. We'll see if it holds up." She figured keeping it brief was the best plan here, it wasn't like she had any valuable input on the whole traitor situation anyway.

"How far do you expect to get when you will be facing off against someone with a legacy like Kawashima Risa?"

She had hoped they would've just left it there, she wasn't really that big a name, she couldn't imagine too many people were taking an interest in her. But then nights of angry rants from both her parents about how awful this particular publication was came back to her. Her father hated the way it played favorites with heroes and used them as toys for its sick game. Her mother hated the total and utter lack of anything resembling actual journalism, and how often a hero would come into her shop while touting their newest article as if it meant anything.

Rika shrugged her shoulders a tiny bit, her hair flicking behind her as she tilted her head back, "Legacy doesn't mean much when we're all still learning. Risa is a strong contender, but so is everyone else here. My goal is to just get as far as I can, and I've already made it further than I expected to."

"Fine. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the audience?"

She hummed briefly, "...Nope!" It was a cheap trick, but it was pretty good at catching someone off guard when they weren't expecting it. Her colors quickly shifted to blend in with her surroundings, now that she had time to think. She ducked down through the crowd while she had the opportunity. It wasn't the cleanest getaway, but hopefully it would catch them off guard enough for her to flee.

──── ⋆⋅✦⋅⋆ ────

"There she iiis!" Rika was the one caught off guard again, but her search wasn't in vain all the same. She beamed as she saw her father approaching her, running forward to catch him in a tight hug as she let out a deep breath, "You made it into the top eight, that's amazing!"

Rika smiled softly, a little mumble escaping her, "I had help from others to get there. Without Atsushi and Takehiko, I don't think I would be here now." She pulled back for a moment, before tilting her head a tiny bit, "Mom's not here, huh? I knew you were going to have your work cut out for you on getting her to come, but..."

She trailed off, before feeling his hand pat her back, "She's here, just not right here! Some... Clients wouldn't leave her alone, so she's been barking at them all day, trying to get them to back off so she could watch in peace. It hasn't been going well." He chuckled a tiny bit, before ruffling Rika's hair lightly, "She wanted me to pass on the message to meet her after the next round, she wanted to talk to you privately, you can find her..."

Rika let out a sigh of relief, she really thought her mother was going to skip the Sports Festival entirely. She listened to her dad go on about how proud he was of her performance so far, but she had a question that was starting to bother her a little bit. "...What do I do against Risa? She apparently descends from, well... You heard what was said on stage. Everyone is building her up, I feel like even if I do win, that'll just turn people against me for knocking out a favorite."

"Why worry about it?" He responded almost instantly as he pulled back Rika, his hands on her shoulders as he looked down at her, "It isn't your fault if people want to see things play out in a particular way, you're here to do the best you can. Put up the strongest fight against her you can, win or lose, you've already had a performance you can be more than proud of."

She took a deep breath, her skin swirling red and yellow, her heart pounding in her chest as she did her best to steady herself, "Maybe... I guess..."

He rolled his eyes for a moment, before ruffling her hair gently once again, "Come on, we're getting something to eat before you have to go back. You've still got some time before the next round." He started to pull her along, making it clear that there wasn't a choice in the matter for her...

Edited by Kazooie

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Well, things hadn't really gone to plan. But despite some setbacks and ultimately failing to make top eight, Ayane felt...

Honestly, she still felt pretty defeated. Physically, she was feeling fine, but her ego had definitely taken a blow. It wasn't like she blamed Shannon for it or anything, but to think there could be someone who hated her so much...

"Fine, we're out here, the fuck are we going to do?"

Speaking of people hating things, there was the issue of a certain very grumpy classmate of hers, who clearly did not like the festivities. His loss if he couldn't enjoy himself, but this was a time to loosen up, and so it was her civic duty to help grumpy people have some fun for once! There were games, and food, and music, and more! Even somebody like Hakaro should have been able to have fun here. Was he just fun-phobic? Or, could it be...

"...are you mad because there's no petting zoo?"

"There isn't a- I'm not-" Hakaro was at a loss for words, raising an eyebrow at her incredulously. "I didn't come here to be an audience for your shitty jokes, you know."

"I'm not joking. Anyone would feel better petting a soft animal, and you've got the whole animal motif going on too! Or if you want to be all grumpy and brooding about it you could say it's like..." Putting on her best (albeit still very poor) Hakaro impression, she continued "I'm doing up-close research on animals for my Quirk's development." Surely if it were with an excuse like that, Hakaro would at least try to do something enjoyable. "You never know when you may need to manifest a sheep. Or a small dog. Or a tiger!!"

"That's... that's not how it works..." pulling his hood up over his head, he dragged his palm down across his face. "Well, there isn't a petting zoo, at least as far as I can tell, so what did you have in mind?"

"Well, if there's no petting zoo, it's gotta be the festival classics! Like... like, um..." Uh-oh. "...I've gotta be totally honest. I've never been to a festival. Isn't there like... some fish scooping game? Let's find something like that!"


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What a shame.

When she heard what the next event was going to be after the rescuethon she'd effectively been knocked out from, that was the first thought that passed through Yumi's mind. She was perfect for this sort of thing. A power-focused ranged combatant who wouldn't be too much of a burden on somebody's shoulders. Even doing something like shooting those flying students out of the sky would have been feasible given some prep time. Course, then she'd end up in the top eight, and she didn't fancy her odds fighting some... well, most of the other contenders.

So in the end, maybe it was for the better she missed out. Besides, now she got to enjoy the festival without any pressure. And in the case of festivals, there was one attraction that always got her attention above all others.

The shooting gallery. With a Quirk like hers, it was no surprise Yumi not only enjoyed shooting things, but had good aim to better facilitate it. And so, where a festival had those cheap-looking rifles and prizes to shoot at, Yumi was seldom far. And now it was her chance to take home something. Something she hadn't quite decided on yet.

As she was about to step up and open fire on some cute prizes, however, she spotted someone out the corner of her eye. The class's newest addition, and top 8 contender, Rika. Maybe a bit of friendly chit-chat wouldn't hurt either.

"Rika, hi there! What a coincidence running into you. Good job on making it to the top eight."


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...

U.A. certainly didn't spare any effort making this a nice festival.

...

The food was good, there was no shortage of fun things to do.

...

Everyone else sure seemed to be enjoying themselves, if nothing else.

...

And yet...

"The hell was that!?"

Shinobu nearly jumped out of her seat at the exclamation. Mayu wasn't usually one to raise her voice - not unless a fight got her excited, at least, but even that was only during the fight itself - so the sudden outburst was a sure sign that whatever happened during the chicken fight, she was none too happy about it. She was curious. Shinobu wanted to know, and she wanted to ask just what "that" was. But knowing Mayu, she probably knew Shinobu wanted to know. And sure enough, without any further prompting than a nod from the tiny juggernaut, Mayu went on to explain her woes.

"So, for the chicken fight I teamed up with some general course kid whose Quirk let him fly. If he stays up there where nobody can get to the target, I can stay down on the ground and take everyone else's points without the burden of carrying another person. Even if I lost in a fight, or got knocked out entirely, my points were safe. The plan was foolproof. And yet..."

"And that concludes the Chicken Fight portion of this year's Sports Festival. If you will all direct your attention to the big screen, the bracket for the last phase will be visible, displaying our top eight."

She made sure to pay rapt attention to the highlights reels. The most impressive feats of each team, and the eliminations thereof. Imagine her surprise when Mayu saw such a highlight featuring her new teammate Atsushi, struck from above by a falling student before plummeting like a rock with the other boy. Some part of Mayu wanted to believe Atsushi had done something clever. Something like flip the two over so that Atsushi would land on top of this blue-haired boy and therefore not on the ground. But for the most part, she couldn't help but accept what was probably about to become reality.

And sure enough, while other names had appeared on the board - Shannon among them, of course - Mayu was nowhere to be seen in the top eight.

"This final stage, as is tradition, will be single elimination sparring matches. While the previous rounds focused on adaptability, the eventual winner will be decided based on raw combat strength. The first rounds will all be conducted simultaneously, starting in one hour"

Mayu wasn't going to pretend to be some psychologist or an expert on people. But she liked to think she at least had a vague idea of how Shannon operated. If it had been her receiving this glare from Orikami, she'd probably shrink away from it and do something like question why she had failed. "Was it my tactics? Did I not fight well enough? How could I have failed?" Naturally, Mayu's reaction was quite the opposite. Not only did she not avoid eye contact with Orikami, she glared right back, with a look and shrug that communicated her thoughts about as well as body language could.

Like you could have planned for that.

"I'm not usually a sore loser, but this is the second time today I've felt robbed."

"Sounds rough," Shinobu commented, taking a long sip from the juice she'd bought from a stall earlier. "Even if you won though, you'd have to fight Shannon sooner or later. Can you even beat her?"

"Not in a fair fight." From the comfort of a bench set aside from the festivities, Mayu observed the people buzzing to and fro, having a nice time.

"Come to think of it, I don't actually know what you do for fun."

"Mm?"

"Well, I like my puzzles and history, Shannon... does something, probably, and I wouldn't be surprised if Orikami didn't have a concept of fun in the first place. But I don't actually know what anyone else enjoys. And now I'm curious."

"Oh! Well, let's ask around! Anyone you had in mind?"

"Let's see... how about we keep our eyes open for Shishi, Shoshiki, and that Akagi kid from 1A?"

Edited by yui

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After the announcement, Diana had headed off, telling Shannon that she needed to see about getting a temporary replacement for her arm, which the dragon girl understood, though noted she headed towards the infirmary, rather than the support center. Perhaps she was concerned with their other opponent? It would be best for her to go and check on that after she spoke to her dear sister... Or that was the plan, at least. On the way over to her, she found herself stopped by reporters, offering them a smile. It was a bother, but also her duty as a rising hero.

"How can I help you, Mr. Reporter?"

"First off, Miss Almaz, how does it feel to have had such commanding wins in both rounds?"

"Why, it is only natural. Even if I, myself, faltered at any point, I had assistance from Ms. Seigi to make sure things went smoothly in both rounds."

"Fast friends, then? Speaking of which, while our mics weren't able to pick up what was said, we could see you talking to Ukemei Ayane during the second round. It looks like the potential future #1 is quite the socialite!"

"Mm." Shannon paused as she considered her phrasing, "Well, it is no secret that networking has a heavy place in our hero society. We also cannot choose who we have to interact with each time, either."

"Of course. Speaking of top heroes, it's hard mot to draw parallels between you and the retired Lord D. Do you consider him to be a source of inspiration?"

"As a matter of fact, I do. He is a great man, who always gives his all, even if he is likely to retire before too long. I have met him on a number of occasions with Ms. Orikami, and he has always seemed to be a kind gentleman, on top of his hero work."

"I'm not sure if you were aware, but he was instrumental in saving lives when the last Sports Festival was attacked by villains a decade ago. You seem like an astute student, and our sources say you are at the top of your class academically. Aside from yourself, who do you think has the best shot at winning the whole thing?"

"That is an interesting query... However, I believe my only real competition is my first opponent. Perhaps Mr. Akagi could pose a challenge, but that depends on what he has lined up."

"Trust us, he would agree. He was very boastful when our associate spoke with him earlier. That's all we have time for right now, maybe next time we interview you there will be a gold medal around your neck?"

"I look forward to living up to your expectations."

As the reporters left to pursue others in the Top 8, Shannon spent a few minutes looking around for both Orikami and Mayu... Her smile faltering ever so slightly at the edges as she failed to find either of them. Everyone but the top cut had made themselves scarce for the time being, it seemed. Well, at least she didn't have to deal with that wretched girl anymore.

-----

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"[Alright, Diana, you can do this.]"

The girl took a deep breath as she stood outside of the infirmary. She wasn't exactly used to being the one visiting, as opposed to using it... Especially not for someone who she was responsible for the injuries of. She usually would have avoided those people. Shaking her thoughts, she opened the door suddenly and walked in, greeted by the sight of Syo hooked up to multiple IV lines... and a dialysis machine.

"Ah, it's... [worse than I thought]..." She muttered as she looked aside, "So, uh, Karada... I, uh... just wanted to say I'm sorry for you being in this situation. And to make sure you were okay."

Despite his seemingly dire condition, Syo responded with a grin, "Oh! You're Ayane's friend, right? Dyna? She talked about how nice you were, was excited you were getting along with that Shannon girl. Hell of a right hook you got me with!"

"Ehm, [Di-ann-uh]... But you were close! And she was excited about... No, nevermind that for now. I wouldn't say it was much of a right hook, I just knew I'd likely lose my left arm, too, if I hit with it." Diana motioned to where her prosthetic had been a sheepish look on her face.

Syo nodded as she spoke, a hand on his chin as if deep in thought, "Hm hm hm, I think that's pretty incredible you got into the hero course despite the uh... missing bit. Must have one hell of a quirk to back you up! How'd you manage to react so fast?"

"My Quirk is... more of a curse. That I found by mistake." Diana sighed, casting her gaze downward. She had worked so hard to keep this from being public knowledge, the school had helped, yet... "It's called [Equivalent Exchange]. EE for short. There's an invisible line down the center of  my body, which causes it to be perfectly symmetrical inside and out... though my face has taken a few too many hits to maintain that," she chuckled awkwardly, "Anyway... If there's damage to one side, the other side is powered up an equal amount. And since I'm missing my right arm..." She moved and cleared the hair from her face, "My right eye," then let it go, reaching down to pull up her left pant leg a bit, "And left leg... Well, the opposite limbs and eyes are 100% stronger, more efficient, and so on. My good eye was able to keep up with your movements, and my body otherwise just acted on instinct."

At first, Syo's eyes lit up with excitement, but as he read the room and gathered the sensitivity of the issue, he turned more serious, "You know, I can definitely understand some of that. You don't think I'm in this bed because you hit me, right?" Tilting his head, he gestured toward the large machine that was pulling blood out from one of his heavily bruised arms and putting it back into the other, "My quirk, Power Suit, mixes the wearer's blood up with my own. It turns out Ayane's blood and mine aren't compatible, so being on her for the better part of ten minutes got me sick as hell." He paused before adding on, "I don't think you're cursed, Diana. Even though you lost something, hell, because you lost something, you were able to outpace two people at once. I think you'll be able to save a lot of people like that."

"Is that so?" Diana's mood seemed to lighten a bit, finally looking the boy in the eye, "Well I... I'm glad I didn't hurt you too badly. Sounds like your quirk is inconvenient, based on blood type..." She spoke absently, blushing at the comment he tacked on at the end. "It's... a bit more complicated than that. I was very much a liability for Shannon, through most of that... But [thank you] for the kind words."

"Nah. She's got the brute strength, but we would have beaten her, especially the way she was seeing red. I'd say you won that fight. And..." it took a few strenuous seconds, but Syo managed to push himself upright, crossing his legs under the thin blanket, "blood rejection doesn't tickle, but it's worth it. I can't do anything on my own, so I need to use my gift to elevate everyone else." With a chuckle and wink, Syo grinned, "Who knows, maybe someday you'll get to try on a more comfortable outfit than whatever the support class nuts made for you."

"You don't have any shame, do you?" Diana laughed at the last part, a smile breaking out on her face, though remnants of the blush remained. "That's so bold! Besides, our quirks aren't guaranteed to work together. Or our blood. And you're in that bed due to those things. Don't you think you should be a little less free with that offer?"

"Nope! It's gonna take a hell of a lot more than a hospital visit to hold Kizuknight back!"

"[Kee-zoo-nai-toh]? Is that your idea for a hero name?"

Syo suddenly turned rigid, averting his gaze as his cheeks flushed, "Is it that bad? I haven't said it out loud before, I thought it was pretty clever..." But with a fierce vengeance, he turned back to her, raising his voice with a finger pointed directly at Diana, "Fine! Then what are you planning on going by??"

"No, it's fine! I was just curious. As for me, I..." She paused, looking down a bit. Maybe the name she had before was a bit much... With a deep breath, she continued. "[Seigi no Hiiro - Artemis]."

"YOUR TITLE IS JUST YOUR NAME AND YOU ARE CRITICIZING MY IDEA?"

"I never criticized! Jeez, I didn't think anyone here would realize that..." Diana huffed before turning to the door, "Anyway... I should probably head back now. Not long before the Top 8 begins, whether I should be there or not... So let's try out your idea of seeing how our quirks mesh once you're better, okay?" Diana smirked at the boy, giving him a thumbs-up.

-----

Diana gave her new friend a wave as she stepped out of the infirmary, a warm feeling washing over her from the experience... But she was less than delighted when she found herself face-to-face with a camera, instinctually grabbing at her missing arm.

"Diana Seigi?"

"[H-hai?] How can I help you?"

"What a reveal! Do you think the prosthetic arm gave you an unfair advantage in the first two stages of the Festival?"

Dread filled Diana as she felt her heart sink, freezing for a moment before only being able to utter one word in her native language.

"... [What?]"

"It appeared to be quite advanced, the only other one allowed to bring tech in is the student who designed her equipment herself, in class. How did you manage to receive this special treatment?"

"It's weaker than I am. [Significantly]. It's a registered support item that I need to get through day to day life."

"It looked plenty strong on camera. The boy you hit was awfully bloodied just from that strike. Is he on the other side of this door?"

"I don't believe that's any of your business." she adjusted herself to block the door, trying to keep her breathing steady.

"We are nothing but concerned journalists trying to provide our viewers with the truth."

"Oh my, where are the honeyed words you reserved for me, Mr. Reporter?"

"..." The reporter froze for a moment as the dragon girl approached, before acting as if nothing was wrong. "Nothing of the sort, I assure you! We are just making sure that boy survived the assault!"

"The assault... you mean the fight? Mostly at my hands? And the only action Ms. Seigi took was to protect me from being blindsided..." Shannon's smile dropped, staring daggers at the reporter, "And even saving one of her opponents in the process? Would you not call that the mark of a true hero, Mr. Reporter?"

"We're... just..."

"I will not tolerate such blatant favortism. Ms. Seigi took actions to defend her partner, rescue her enemies, and sacrificed her prosthetic limb in the process. And you stand here and act as if she is some thug? You should be ashamed of yourself... and be glad that I am not Madame Orikami, as she would have already ejected the lot of you from the premises."

"Anyway... Miss Seigi, how do you consider your prospects for the upcoming bracket?"

"You do not have to speak to this fi-"

"I doubt I'll get far. I will give it my all, but I am not very strong. I am here because of the, uh... [grace] of someone stronger than me. I apologize to anyone I let down."

"We'll see what the public has to say about that."

As the reporter left, Shannon's sharp gaze followed him, only softening up once he was out of sight. Rather than returning to her usual expression, she looked at Diana with gentle worry, tilting her head up to the taller girl.

"Are you sure this is alright? I can try to have Madame Orikami help with this sort of situation."

"[It... It's fine,]" Diana sighed and rubbed her right shoulder, "It's not the first time I've dealt with reporters like that. Probably won't be the last, either. But... thank you for stepping in. Seems like they place a lot of value on you, if you can talk like that to them and get away with it."

Diana laughed nervously as Shannon shrugged in response, shocking the former a bit.

"I am powerful. Society dictates that means that I am and will always be a good hero, due to such. Look at our current Number 1, for example. He is a... person of questionable quality, but he gets the job done. To many, that is enough. After today, do you feel the same, Ms. Seigi? You do not have to answer that right now. Just... something to think about. Hopefully in the future, we could..." Shannon shuffled in place ever so slightly, "Discuss it after all of this is done? Of course, if you do not have training or other things to attend to."

"... [Sure]." Diana spoke, slightly dumbfounded, "But first we have this Top 8 to contend with. I... don't think I'm making it very far."

Shannon's smile returned with a bit of warmth to it, nodding as she turned around to return to the arena. 

"Well, perhaps you would prove their conclusions wrong... if you made it to the finals. I hope to see you there."

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"Yo, Ben! Looks like we'll be duking it out soon, huh?  Don't go easy on me, got it? Because I won't come at you with anything other than my best!"

Benjamin quickly looked up and saw Kio smiling with a salute, almost as if he was arriving on cue or something. The young man only gave a small smile before nodding. “Of course, Kio. I may not be able to best you and the arsenal you have, but I’m going to give it my all.” he said, moving to look at his right hand, seeing that a few spiders were out and seeming to do something that Kio could possibly see as…flexing.

You mean…WE’LL give it our all!

This caused him to chuckle lightly, nodding at the mental message from these few spiders. “Right…sorry…we’ll give it our all.” he said, watching the spiders dissipate. Though now this brought him back to the interview he had moments earlier. I know I said I should ask later…but this moment…I need to at least know. Benjamin thought, before sighing.

“Kio, I have a question for you.” he began, slowly crossing his arms, exhaling slowly. “You’ve got an amazing memory…so I need to ask…do you…happen to remember a Hero by the name of Eight-Legged Hero: Silky?”

"Silky? Didn't she have a big part in stopping the sports festival terror attack some time ago?" Kio nodded. "Of course I remember. I'm kind of forced to." He gripped his chin between his thumb and index finger. "Why do you ask?"

A soft sigh escaped his lips, nodding at hearing this. "I asked the right person..." Benjamin said with a slight smile. "I needed to ask because I just mentioned her to those people...since she's my Hero...and they honestly didn't hear about her. It...it honestly killed me..."

"Honestly, I can't really blame them. Who has time to remember some hero who died in a fire." Kio shrugged. "That's not the way any hero should go out...and I use the term hero lightly. She hadn't even graduated from U.A. yet."

Benjamin's face seemed to go from smiling to one that seemed, both disappointed and even insulted. Part of him wanted to simply lash out at this guy, big time. Just the way that he simply spoke about her like that...his hand started to grip his arm tightly in a gradual process. That's not the way any Hero should go...who has time to remember some Hero who died in a fire... he mulled these words over in his head more and more. He wanted to shout at him, but he was stopped...not by his spiders, but rather himself. Kio was a smart young man, forced to have such an edict memory that also corresponded with his Quirk. If anything he was simply stating facts and information...he seemed to be the guy to do that anyway. A simple sigh escaped his lips once more, possibly letting this go...this time at least. "...regardless if she graduated or not, she did a good job, as far as I'm concerned she is a Hero." he said, looking away for a moment.

"Mutant-type quirks don't really catch my eye, and spiders less so...but she could've done great things." Kio looked away as well. "Probably."

"Guess that's fair...least Silky did one thing..." he moved himself from the wall, his hands digging into his pockets. "She saved me that day...and gave me and my spiders the drive to be Heroes, even if we aren't as strong as everyone else."

"I guess your idolization of her makes sense then." Kio had the tendency to idolize the more powerful heroes...it was like he was drawn to the strong quirks like a magnet. "Well...I'm sure she'd be proud of you today."

“I honestly hope she would be…” he sighed again, before shaking his head. “[ANYWAY!] …I need to stop with that and get myself in the game before our match. Gotta think of strategy and how things will play out.” Benjamin gave Kio a two fingered salute before turning around and walking off to get himself prepared...though as he did...he bit his lip. He could feel tears starting to form from hearing those last few words: she'd be proud of you today. Regardless of the outcome of this festival, knowing that at least...knowing she would be proud of him...that was all the validation he needed. ...guess talking to Kio was just what was needed...huh? he asked, seeing a few spiders on his arm bouncing up and down slightly, almost as if to say yes. ...yeah, I figured it was...

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The end of the Chicken Fight round and the immediate aftermath that followed was a blur to Risa. She barely remembered much, other than a hazy reply to Ben as the two separated. Regardless, she eventually found herself out in the lower reaches of the arena, below the stands, her Stabilizing Soles held over her shoulder by the metal frames near the opening for the leg, her heartbeat finally slowing enough to fully comprehend what had just happened.

“I’m in the last round of the Sports Festival,” she said softly to herself. She was hardly able to believe it. How the hell was she here, among the other students of the Hero Course? 

To think this all started just because I was able to drag Sasaki out of that debris, she thought to herself. The thought was shocking to her, and she suddenly had a desire to find Sasaki and make sure he was alright. After all, I maybe jogged him real hard in midair… I’m sure I can just see if he’s going to make a quick recovery, right? 

“Hey, is that the Kawashima girl?” Risa very suddenly felt the need to accelerate this plan, a flush of color coming to her cheeks as she hurried down the corridor back into the stadium proper, not looking back despite calls of her name from behind her. It’s fine, it’s fine, they’ll just assume it’s somebody else, she told herself. It wasn’t until she was just around the corner from the infirmary that she realized there were likely precious few other small girls in UA uniforms loaded down with various pieces of metal and carrying foot cages over her shoulder.

Oh. Oh no. Oh god. She silently berated herself as she stopped her forward momentum to pace back and forth, back and forth. Was that rude? I mean… They want to talk to the Hero students more, surely-

“Kawashima? Kawashima Risa?”

She jumped about a mile, whipping around to see, wide-eyed, a full on camera crew and a microphone pushed in her face. “Um… Yes? Hi?” she squeaked helplessly.

The reporter, undaunted by Risa looking like a startled deer, smiled widely. “Young Miss Kawashima, we’re just looking to interview some of the heroes who have made it this far in the Festival!”

“Student, just a-” she began a meek correction, but the reporter was already forging on. 

"Kawashima, it looks like you have been doing a spectacular job upholding the family legacy!"

Risa couldn’t put her finger on why, but that question felt like a knife blade to the gut in her current mood. Regardless, she tried to smile as she answered. The result was less than convincing, but the embarrassed reaction to the interview was days away, when it was inevitably recycled on TV and she would have the misfortune to see it. "Ummmm, I don't know about that! My big sis Fumiko is the one you'd want to talk to about that… The hero Prestige? O'Hara-sama is really where a lot of the credit for today so far has to go. I really was just very very lucky to have him put up with me as a partner!”

"Funny thing, he said the same about you. Did you two know each other before all this? You've made quite the pair."

"No, I've never met any of the Hero Course before toda- EEEEEH?!? He said what? He's just being nice, he's very encouraging. But ummmmm... No, I hadn't met him, I'd only heard about his Quirk in class a few times and thought it was interesting because, well... It is, isn't it, he's learned to use such a fascinating Quirk so well, even in round two where he had to carry me around and wasn't able to crawl on walls he was-" Risa now began a long and detailed ramble about Spider Colony what she had been able to infer about it, her brain having finally latched onto something she could talk about with confidence. She failed to interpret the reporter’s peeved expression as a desire for her to stop, thinking maybe she hadn’t clarified a point correctly. 

“And like I was saying, I think he has some degree of ability to direct them, or they’re way smarter than spiders usually are, and they’re actually very smart insects, I mean arachnids-”

"I... See…” The reporter managed to finally cut her off by cutting around behind her, weaving an arm around Risa’s shoulders and leaning in conspiratorially to ask the next question. “We heard early on that whichever non-hero course student gets the farthest will be inducted into it. How do you feel, now that you have accomplished that goal and outlasted the two general course students from the previous round?"

All thoughts of Spider Colony left Risa’s head. Her brain screeched to a halt at this question. All she was able to say was:

"... Atsushi-san and Karada-san didn't advance?"

“... Well, no. Didn’t you see on the board? You’re the sole student not from Class A or Class B.”

"... I don't remember much after I saw I had advanced... I don't think I even saw the other teams that went forward..."

"Well then it's a good thing the path into the hero course isn't a memory exam, isn't it?"

The attempt on humor was lost completely on Risa’s mounting tide of panic.  "Wait, WAIT, I'M the highest non-Hero course member in the Sports Festival?!?!?"

"Congratulations, Kawashima," was the simple reply, as the cameraman started frowning at the reporter, making very clear ‘finish it’ looks with his eyes.

Risa was only able to offer a very small “thank you” in reply.

"With a legacy like yours, there will be a lot of eyes on you. Let's see how far you can go!" The reporter slapped a hand with forced cheerfulness on Risa’s shoulder before they turned to walk away, huffing out a breath.

"Yeah... We'll um…” Risa cleared her throat, not even processing that the microphone wasn’t being shoved into her face anymore. “...have to see, right? How far..." 

“Why would you want to be a hero?”

The memory of a question Risa had asked herself over and over again for years rebounded inside her head. She resumed her slow walk down the hallway, frowning as one of her hands absently fiddled with a strap on one of her Soles. Why indeed? She was smaller than most people her age, scared more easily than people her age, dumber too if her Support grades were any indication; She didn’t even have a Quirk that could make up for it.

If I didn’t get to bring these in just for being in the Support Class I wouldn’t even be here, she thought to herself, rubbing at one of the weights on her belt. There was no sense in denying that. All the rest of the top eight had gotten here on the results of the Quirks and their skill at using them. Hers did literally nothing without something to work with from the start.

I’m not like Fumiko, who can just make metal from her skin… And I’m certainly not the former Glory. So why do people keep acting like I am? 

She realized two things with horror. One was that clearly the interview crew had gone the same direction as her, and she hadn’t even noticed. She could hear the reporter’s voice around the corner even now, just outside the infirmary. The second was that her eyes were wet. She hurriedly reached up to wipe at them, almost dropping her Stabilizing Sole as she did so. She certainly didn’t want a bunch of strangers to see her crying, though she couldn’t quite put a good reason to why.

"It appeared to be quite advanced, the only other one allowed to bring tech in is the student who designed her equipment herself, in class. How did you manage to receive this special treatment?"

A stab of guilt, that. Even the casual onlookers knew that fact of the matter.

"It's weaker than I am. [Significantly]. It's a registered support item that I need to get through day to day life."

Risa very dimly recognized Diana’s voice. She and the American had never met, but this wasn’t the first time Risa had heard her speak. And after all, who else could they be talking to?

"It looked plenty strong on camera. The boy you hit was awfully bloodied just from that strike. Is he on the other side of this door?"

Risa frowned. That wasn’t exactly fair, at least not to her. Diana was right, her arm was literally missing. Only now did she think back to when she had walked by Diana in the stadium. There HAD been a small tingle, that sense she had that alerted her to any metal close enough for her Quirk to pick up on it. She hadn’t even noticed in her gut-wrenching worry about the next round. She had never seen the specs on Diana’s arm, had truthfully not even known she had a prosthetic, but it clearly hadn’t been designed to be used as a weapon first. Even she knew that, there was no way it would have broken that easily. 

She wondered if she should say something. She may not be a Hero Course student, but perhaps as a Support student her word might have some weight? Sure, she had the worst grades in her class, but they didn’t know that. Probably. But for all she knew Diana’s arm HAD been made as a weapon and there had just been some fluke, some aspect of her Quirk or Syo’s Quirk or Ayane’s Quirk or just a fluke of physics that had caused it to explode like that, though she really rather doubted it, perhaps she could ask Deerc-sensei about-

And then Shannon’s cool voice cut in from around the corner. Risa flattened herself against the wall instinctually. She had seen the variety of holy terror that Shannon was capable of. Deerc-sensei still sometimes groused about her decking his Thunderjaw by herself.

She couldn’t give a good reason for why Shannon scared her. She had been terrified of her the entire Festival, trying her best to avoid her the entire time. But now at least she could get behind Shannon’s actions as she did what Risa hadn’t been brave enough to do herself and tell the reporters off. It reminded her of something her sister might do, and Risa wasn’t entirely sure why that was concerning to her rather than a cause for relief. Or maybe it was both.

At that thought, Risa had to take a mental step back and make up her mind that the pressures of the day had officially made her thought processes, convoluted and frantic at the best of times, officially made no damn sense.

"I am powerful. Society dictates that means that I am and will always be a good hero, due to such.” Shannon’s voice, filtering around the corner again. Another frown from Risa. Being powerful… There was something to that. After all, she was weak, and not a Hero Course student. But for some reason when Shannon said that she couldn’t help but think of Ben. Think of Kawashima Fumiko. Think of Kawashima Yozo. And she still couldn’t say exactly why. But there was one thing she knew she did want to do.


“Siegi-sama?”

Risa had followed Diana away from the infirmary, waiting until Shannon had left in the other direction. She waved a hand as she rushed to catch up on her shorter legs, Stabilizing Soles held over her shoulder. 

“I um, was going to the infirmary to see if Sasaki-sama, make sure he’s alright… if he’s in there, I don’t know if you saw him. Kawashima, by the way,” she said hurriedly, waving a hand. “I was O’Hara-sama’s partner? Um…”

There was an awkward moment while she gathered her words before blurting out: “I overheard the reporters. Talking to you, I’m sorry. They talked to me too and I… really didn’t like it either.” She looked down at the ground, embarrassed to talk about it. “But I… I think the question about your arm was really unfair. I’m not the best Support student but… Icouldmaybetryand… fix it?” She bit her lip. It sounded daft when she said it that way. Surely Siegi thought she was trying to sabotage her now, she was so unbelievably awkward. But she both could and wanted to offer.

The desire to want to help.
 

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__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Takehiko panted, clearly having over-exerted his movement with the new Piece: Bishop. A bow was drawn back as he eyed around the arena, his body seemingly shifting in and out as there had been a few opponents with rather rough kicks to their back as they very quickly learned that Takehiko could now do something that would seem very similar to merely stepping forward before he appeared behind them. He would be sent careening down to the ground afterward, using Rika's dexterity with her tongue to rely on her catching him before he repeated the process to blindside those unlucky enough to fall into the planned trap.

It wasn't as long as he thought it would be before he heard the buzzer ring, practically collapsing to catch his breath from the exertion, "Good job Rika. Glad to have had you as a partner and good luck in whatever the next round brings." He'd give her a thumbs up before turning his attention to the monitor as he saw the results announced... Oh. "Diana... Well that could go... hm, I'm not sure." He'd glance over to her, smiling and giving a small wave, though he assumed he'd likely go ignored.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Kanda Takehiko! What are your thoughts going into the third stage of the festival?"


Honestly Takehiko would probably have gone back into the arena after everyone left to look over anything he missed while fighting and walked back through the fight in his head for anything to do differently so I suppose they'd find him there

"Oh me? Right I made it in. Still a bit of a shock to be honest, and it's always an honor to be considered for the third stage of the festival. I'll likely relax, take some time off, and make sure I'm mentally prepared for the trials it's sure to bring as well. Does that cover the question nicely enough for you or would you be interested in my battle analytics here? It was a bit of a rush having to take everyone's quirks into account, though thankfully there was at least a tiny bit of info I could dredge up on everyone before we started. Did you know that the public library gets new entries every year on students entering into the hero course for anyone interested? It's a bit of a small tabloid, dunno if they're well-known or not. Can't remember their name at the moment but there was an article I found from someone about 15 or so years ago that had a story of an up and coming hero doing a similar strategy. Can't say I was partial to him myself, his family got him in running a szechuan restaraunt it looked like, too spicy for me and seems he inherited the spicy spirit of those people. Anyways, when I saw some of the clever things like that armor that Syo and Akane wound up going with it was a bit bewildering, we could have lost if they chose to charge us immediately and were left to scramble for points. Good thing they didn't, huh? As well I suppose another plan in that situation would have been to merely saint step and trip him before he knew what was happening. Though you saw plenty of my Piece: Bishop today, maybe next time I'll show off Piece: Pawn and show what swarming tactics are like! Though have you ever tried to strategize with 9 other personalities in your head all screaming about the slightest changes that their neural cortex can comprehend? I've had them try to take notes for me and merely end up drawing ducks. Sorry, got a bit carried away, you had more questions?" 


"It looks like you're up against Seigi in your first match, a stand-out from the previous round. If it's between you and us, we think you've got it in the bag, but what's your plan?"


"My plan is to plan accordingly for my match. Currently I just found out that I'd be in the matchup and will need to figure out how best to approach this. And please, thinking I have this in the bag is too much praise, Seigi is a strong contender in their own right. Even the smallest abilities can shine in the strangest circumstances, after all."


"Very astute, very wise. It's no wonder your team was able to do so well. Would you say you were the brains of the operation?"


"No, it was very much a joint effort on my and Rika's end. I may have been the one to propose the idea but Rika was the one to flesh it out and edit some holes that were in my initial plan, which I'm very thankful for."


"We will see how that talent suits her, as she is going to be facing off against the heiress to quite a heroic legacy! Whatever the case, we hope to see you in the finals!"


"Thank you for the vote of confidence, and I look forward to seeing how my classmates fair."

Takehiko pleasantly waves away the reporters, continuing his inane-sounding ramblings to himself, before they were out of earshot, "Well... I think I talked enough without giving away the plan..." He looks around, starting to pick up scraps and looking at disturbed dirt and cracked stone where he believed would have come from impacts from Diana, "...Maybe I should talk to her instead." He hums as he places his hands into his coat, walking back to the school as he wound up in the office, requesting a phonebook before finding what he was looking for.

A rather sleek flip-phone found its way out of his breast pocket, opening it and dialing what he hoped was the correct number. He didn't think she'd be home, leaving a voice message, "Greetings Seigi residence, this is Takehiko! I'm Miss Diana's opponent in the upcoming match, and wondered if she'd like to celebrate us both making it? I'll be honest, this is an exchange of sorts, I'd like to get to know you better so I can try to use it in the upcoming match, and offer to allow you to do the same. My treat for wherever you'd like to go, merely give me a ring or swing by Kanda Kandy's and ask for me. My schedules pretty open after all! Hope to hear from ya soon, Diana! ...No, mom, I'm not-." His phone would cut off on the message there as he made it home, getting back into the swing of being home for now.

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While it was hard to find any shortage in the planning and funding that went into the festival accompanying this year's sports festival, what one would find - particularly if one were participating in the tournament set to start - was that there seemed to be a shortage of time to experience all it had to offer. After one hour - down to the second, the particularly time-sensitive might observe - had passed, the sound of a voice rang out through the speakers dotting the grounds of the day's big event.

"Testing, testing..."

A distinctly non-Orikami voice. A voice most would recognize as belonging to the number four hero, Ruby Heart.

"Orikami had a meeting to attend to, so for the time being, I'm fulfilling her announcement duties. One hour has passed. Will the competitors for the sports festival's tournament please gather in the arena at once?"

Once the eight lucky winners were gathered in the arena, the directions on where to go were pretty clear-cut. Signs with the likenesses of the competitors on them pointed to various rooms throughout the facility. And upon entering their rooms, they'd find that the four rooms meant for them were very much identical to each other. An open-air square arena, with straight walls forming a crosshair-like shape across the center, while the corners were similarly covered by large walls. Surrounding the smooth arena floors was soft grass, worthy of lying down in and staring up at the sky on a nice day like this. Or it would be, if not for the fighting that would have to take place soon.

"The rules are simple. Each of these four matches will be held simultaneously. To win, either knock your opponent out of the arena, have them forfeit the match, or - only if you must - render your opponent unconscious, or otherwise unable to fight any further. We expect good sportsmanship from all of you, but that doesn't mean you should force yourself to hold back. On my mark, you may begin your respective matches."

Where there were screens on UA campus, the display changed, streaming footage live from drones set up above each arena so spectators could watch the matches all at once, be it from the festival grounds, or the comfort of their own home.

"You've come this far. Show us all what you're really made of, students. Begin!"

Edited by yui

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V.S.

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"You've come this far. Show us all what you're really made of, students. Begin!"

The crowd’s roars could be heard throughout the arena…these matches were truly one that could definitely pump anyone up: audience and student alike. And of course, this proved true for the two students that now faced each other in this bout…Kio and Benjamin.  The latter of the two stretched his arms slightly, giving his shoulders a quick roll. He gave Kio a look over before cracking his knuckles whilst also cracking into a bit of a smile.

“Truth be told, Kio, ever since the semester started…I did want to test myself out against you. I know you won’t disappoint me, will ya?”

What if he copies our Quirk? Benjamin heard his spiders speak to him, as he simply shrugged.

“Honestly, I don’t know…we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there. But all I know is, I want to be able to test myself against him. Out of all of us in 1-A, he’s got the most extensive repertoire of fighting styles and the like…” he communicated with his hive. “He’s a literal walking database of everything Hero culture…the styles of fighting, their Quirks, their patterns…if we’re going to be a Pro Hero, like Silky…then we have to be able to rise above a challenge like this. Max Omega, right?”

MAX OMEGA!!! His spiders echoed back.

Standing across from his classmate, in this huge arena, Kio watched his opponent with intent.  His heart was thumping wildly, more so even than the first round of the sports festival. Kio squatted down, stretching out his left leg to limber himself up.

“I’d like to say the same, really!”  Kio responded, as he switched to stretching his other leg. “But truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of spiders!  I hope you can forgive me.” The boy laughed, as he sprouted back to standing. His hands shook out, fluttering in the breeze, while he tried to gain focus. His eyes became sharp, as he made his final statement.  “I hope this isn’t disappointing to hear, but you’re just fighting Kio Akagi today…”

"Yeah, not many people are fans of ‘em. But no sweat off my back." He snickered, before hearing the last statement. "Just Kio Akagi, huh?" Benjamin noticed the sharp look in his eyes before nodding. "Honestly, that might be the scariest thing for me. Either way, I'm not disappointed...quite the contrary...I'm psyched."

However, he did wonder, just Kio? Did that mean he intended to fight him without his Quirk? That sounded like a bad idea, but there had to be a reason, right? Either way, this gave Benjamin what he wanted regardless: a fight with the walking database of Hero's styles that was Kio Akagi. His stance shifted slightly, not moving nor seeming to make the first move.

Once the signal was given, the fight was on, but yet...Benjamin stayed put, seeming to study his opponent, but after a moment he began to rush forward and got within a couple feet of Kio and immediately dropped down to sweep and kick his legs out from under him.

Kio took another deep breath, and took his stance. Both fists were put up towards his face, while his other leg was slightly elevated, akin to that of a traditional Muay Thai stance. He watched Ben carefully.  During the second round, Kio had studied every contender’s movement’s to the tee.  One muscle twitch would give Ben’s advance away. A better move would have been to wait for his first move, but Ben seemed pretty excited. His opening attack was a dash, followed by a low sweep, an easy move to avoid as Kio bounced back from his one grounded foot.  Now all he had to do was step inside, and counter.

“So you can fight without your spider’s huh? I’d advise you to take this more seriously though.”  Kio darted into Ben quickly, with his fists tucked in. Changing his style on the fly to that of Boxing, Kio sent a quick hook into Ben’s side.  “I want the challenge!  Use that Quirk of yours!"

Benjamin grunted at the Haymaker at his side, before smirking. It hurt, but nothing he couldn't shake off.

"H-Hey...had to test the waters. Muay Thai into Boxing...yeah, this is going to be fun." he shuffled back a little, proceeding to backflip a few times before leaping into the air and immediately flinging his arms before him, making the motion of throwing something at Kio. Of course...he did. Quite a few spiders were being launched in the direction of Kio...whether they landed on the young man or around him would be up to what Kio did next. Once he landed after his little acrobatic display, he nodded. "A Hero has to gather as much information as they can, am I wrong? So I [gotta] at least attempt to learn more about your general abilities and reaction times."

Kio watched on as Ben threw air at him.  Obviously, it wasn’t some sort of bluff, but the boy stood completely still, not even trying to dodge whatever was thrown at him.  

“Go on and analyze me all you want, O’Hara. But I’ve been studying you all since day one of class. I know your moves, your weaknesses, hell I can even replicate the way you breathe.” Kio took an open handed stance.  “Now let’s see what you haven’t shown me.”

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“Go on and analyze me all you want, O’Hara. But I’ve been studying you all since day one of class. I know your moves, your weaknesses, hell I can even replicate the way you breathe. Now let’s see what you haven’t shown me.”

That was going to make things difficult, least from Benjamin's point of view. How would he be able to combat someone with that much of a photographic memory to the point that he could replicate his breathing patterns? A slight exhale escaped his lips, staring down his opponent only to slowly relax his shoulders. He eyed his surroundings of this little battlefield, realizing what he could do. He had a plan now...all he had to do was bring it to fruition.

"That's a tall order, [ya know]."  Benjamin nodded. Kio didn't move when he threw his spiders at him, so either he was confident in his abilities or wasn't thinking about them...though if he had to wager, it was the former. "But if you insist on me fighting you like you think I should, then fine by me."

He gave a whistle, his hands now being covered in webbing as he made a mad dash for the nearest wall, leaping towards it. Once he noticed the webbing was now on his feet, he began to scale the wall and immediately got to the ceiling before making his way to be above Kio for a moment. "By the way, not sure if you intended to let them hit you...but if you can take it, be my guest." Benjamin said slyly, as he gave the mental order: "Those who landed on Kio, it's showtime. Bite the hell out of him! The ones who landed around, start work on keeping his movements slowed." Once the order was delivered, Kio would definitely start feeling the various amounts of bites via the spiders. "Oooooh those will probably sting for a while. Nothing some ice won't fix...maybe some lotion." he snickered, now getting behind Kio.

Kio watched as the boy placed webbing in his hands, and started crawling all over the walls of the arena. As he made his way to the tippy top, Kio frowned. These walls were really going to be a pain if Kio was unwilling to use his Quirk…but he’d find a way. Suddenly, a bunch of small bites could be felt all over his body. Not enough to hurt, but just enough to be extremely annoying.  

“So you launched some small spiders onto me? If they aren’t venomous, this will get you nowhere.” Kio started wiping off all the spiders on his skin, swatting and rubbing, as if he was itching various spots across his body. It was embarrassing. When he was finished, Kio stood up straight and looked back at O'Hara. “So now what? Are you just going to stay up there the whole round? Or do you have more surprises up your sleeve.” Kio spread his arms out wide. “I’m not using my Quirk against you Ben!” The sounds of dissatisfaction began to rumble from people watching their fight. Some even boo’d.  

“This would be a lousy time to use that ‘Blow Up’ I just got, huh?” Kio laughed.

"Sir, you asked me to fight you seriously...so naturally, I am!" Benjamin smirked as he too laughed. "Same time, I'm sure you could've used a waaaaaaaay different Quirk than 'Blow Up'. Honestly the kid with that Quirk just had an inflated ego was all...you're ten times better." Now in his hands, was a sling and small balls made of webbing...as now he was slinging web balls right at Kio, each one with more and more spiders. "Another order for you guys, while you keep going with our original plan: if he isn't using the memory slot...at least a couple of you...see if you can see if that'll cause a bit more pain. Hate to do it to him, but if he isn't using his Quirk, we need every advantage we can get." The beginnings of his plan were in effect...and if he was unwilling to use his Quirk, then so be it. He just needed to do his best to outsmart the super computer...wouldn't be too hard if he could just "overload" his perception and focus.

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