Villain.Deku Chapter 15: For What we Believe In

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The sun hangs low in the sky, having only recently climbed over the horizon. The forest below is only barely illuminated and the entire atmosphere seems tired and hesitant. At least, it would if not for the dozens of screaming students.

"Don't get your tape on me, idiot!"

"Try not to slip in Mineta's scalp blood!"

"Everyone, move! Uraraka's gonna spew!"

Their scattered calls penetrate the still air as they run around camp. Two of them are debating over something. A kid with spiky red hair and another whose hair is both red and white. Thinking about it, I can recognize them from the U.S.J. as Kirishima and Todoroki. From my distance, I can't make out what they're saying, although I can see Kirishima gesture wildly at nothing. They seem to be getting heated until

BANG

The pair's argument is soon interrupted by an explosion rocketing off into the air, followed by intense howling. "Will you idiot just shut your goddamn mouths and move?!" Bakugo's voice echoes. "You're making it hard… to… concentrate!" he forces out as

BANG

He fires off another explosion. The two back off simultaneously and I fidget a little as well, all of us being caught off-guard by Bakugo's intensity. I drop my binoculars as I exhale deeply, trying to relax despite his continued barking in the distance.

My sudden movement brings my attention to the aches forming due to my position, lying as flat on the ground as possible. After looking over the camp for almost 20 minutes like this, my elbows and neck have begun to cramp. I roll onto my back and roll my limbs around, still taking care to stay out of sight. My eyes bounce across this cliff area that I've been stationed at. It's the same location that I'll be taking up later tonight and I can see why. It provides an excellent vantage point and it's secluded from the camp. The closest students are still half a mile away, although that's still too close for comfort.

As I move back and look through the binoculars again, I search the camp once more. The list of those present include all of the students from Classes 1-A and 1-B, as well as the heroes Eraserhead, Vlad King, and the Wild, Wild Pussycats. Neither All Might nor any of the other teachers are present, just like the info that Toga stole said. However, I'm still here even though I've confirmed that about ten times by now. My only job was to make sure all of the information lined up so why am I still here?

The answer comes back to me again as my eyes are drawn to another explosion in the distance. Looking through the binoculars, I can see Bakugo collapse to the ground from exhaustion. He lies still for a moment before climbing back to his feet and submerging his hands back into the boiling water. My thoughts just keep wandering back to Bakugo. From Shigaraki's perspective, I can see why he would be a good pick as a potential villain. He's brash, arrogant, and an overall jerk most of the time. But I know better than anyone that he would never agree to work against heroes. I can't pretend to understand why but he's always wanted to be the Number One Hero and I don't expect the league to change that. So then, why didn't I stop Shigaraki?

Part of me wants to think that it wouldn't matter. Maybe he'd just dismiss me or maybe he'll be able to convince Bakugo anyways? Even if it fails, there will just be another plan so it won't really matter that much. But I'm sure that I know the real reason. I see it every time I think about the last time I fought with Bakugo.

I want to talk to him. I want to explain everything to him, why I'm fighting, what I want, and why I need to do this. I feel like if I can get him to understand my intentions just a little, it will somehow validate all of this. Because no matter how much work I put into my training and the League, I can't ignore this pang of regret. The fear that I made the wrong decision is always there. If I could even convince Bakugo, the one person who hates me most in the world, that I'm right then maybe I can stop doubting what I'm doing.

A pain in my hand flare up as I realize how tightly I've been holding the binoculars while I've been thinking. I exhale quietly and reach for my phone. There's no point in staying any longer when I should be getting ready for tonight. I begin to back away from the cliff and towards the extraction point, resisting the urge to look just a little more.

Shink shink shink

Extend and retract. Extend and retract. Over and over, I extend the new tendrils of Impel and retract them. This process of sitting alone in my room and activating Impel has finally started to become somewhat monotonous. But after endless practice over the last two days, I'm finally adjusting to the idea of these new appendages. They have no nerves so I can't feel anything with them and they seem to be directed by my thoughts alone. However, even with All for One's guidance, I've only reached the most basic level of proficiency with them. I can't shake the fear that I may not be ready for a mission of this scale. Still, I have no choice to but to go anyways and do my best.

I stand up and give myself another look over before stepping out. There's no point in hiding my identity since I was recognized at the U.S.J. so I've decided to ditch the mask. I can't help but feel underdressed in a simple black t-shirt and baggy gray pants, with the same dark green jacket that I wore in middle school. I guess I just have to accept that I'll never be as eccentric as someone like Spinner or Twice.

As I close the door to my room, I notice the abnormal absence of any intense nervousness. Even with the fear of my inadequacy with Impel dragging me down, I feel more confident than I ever did before my previous missions. Maybe it's the fact that I've done something similar before or the knowledge that I have more capable comrades this time but I just feel better.

Once downstairs, I'm greeted by Shigaraki, obsessing over a half built card tower at the bar, and Kurogiri pacing nervously nearby. "There you are," Shigaraki starts, his attention barely being dragged from his project. "I was starting to think you were ditching us."

"Oh please, Shigaraki" Kurogiri urges as he steps forward to inspect me. "You are fully prepared, right Deku?"

"Yeah, I'm ready to go," I answer as I throw in a reassuring smile.

"That's good," Kurogiri responds. "And remember, there's no need for you to face any of the Pros. Leave them to the more experienced members and just neutralize any student that poses a threat. And try to-"

"I think he gets it, Kurogiri, so quit rambling," Shigaraki interjects. "The brat's gonna be fine. After all, he's representing the League out there," he adds derisively. "If he underperforms, our new subordinates might doubt our authority. So I'm sure Deku will pull through," he declares before returning to his card tower.

Kurogiri gives Shigaraki a disapproving look before resuming. "Well, it's almost time. You might as well be early, I suppose." He steps back and, with a wave of his hand, creates a portal in front of me. I move to walk through it but Kurogiri places a hand on my shoulder to stop me. He seems to hesitate for a moments, not saying a word for a few moments.

"We villains have our own personal ideas of justice and what is right or wrong" he says in a grave tone. "It's because of the difference in our ideals and the rest of the world's that we are labelled as criminal. There's any number of things that could go wrong tonight and you might not know what to do in the confusion. All I want is for you to stand by your beliefs and do what you believe is right."

"Kurogiri, I… I don't know-" I start, caught off guard by his sudden straightforwardness.

"I can agree with that," Shigaraki interrupts in a more genuine voice than before. He turns away from his tower and addresses me directly. "I wasn't lying when I said that I trusted you. I don't know about all those idiots but I know that you'll probably do what's best for the League. So do whatever you want and there's a good chance I'll tolerate it."

I should be happy. The two of them telling me that they can depend on me should be a source of comfort. But all I can think about is how selfish I am. They're trusting me to succeed on a mission that I know will fail. The only reason that I haven't tried to call it off is because I need validation like a little kid.

"Well, you know that I won't let you down," I answer with as much confidence as I can muster. "I guarantee that we'll come out on top tonight, no matter what."

Kurogiri nods as he releases his grip on my shoulder. Shigaraki lets out a small chuckle as I step through the gate on my own.

I emerge on the other side on a rocky path that leads to the same outlook that I inhabited before. As the gate closes behind me, I'm greeted by the brisk air of the night as a cool breeze drifts over me. The sensation provides a welcome distraction from my own thoughts. I simply don't have the luxury of contemplating everything during such a high stakes operation. So I'll just have to keep moving as planned and hope it works out.

Walking on the trail, I'm a little startled by the lack of noise. The only thing I can hear is the slight rustling of leaves which is a sharp contrast to the earlier auditory chaos. Even though this tranquil state is only temporary, it's kinda nice. I finally make it to the cliff and stare out over the edge. Just for a moment, I want to savor the peacefulness.

"Wh-who the hell are you?" a scared voice calls out, shattering that moment.

I whip around to follow the voice as my body immediately tightens. To my right, I see a small boy with a horned cap shaking. Despite my earlier searches, I don't recognize him at all. Why would some random child be running around in a hero camp? He draws back nervously as I turn to face him. His frightened demeanor tells me that he isn't equipped for what's about to happen

"Kid, I don't know what you're doing here but you need to leave now!" I command. If he doesn't disappear soon, I won't be able to control what happens next.

"Don't try to threaten me!" he yells out. "Everyone knows that I'm up here so if I'm not back soon, they're gonna come for you!"

"Then leave! Just go before-"

"Oh, what do we have here?" a sadistic voice taunts from the dark,I turn to see the masked figure of Muscular emerge from the path. He exerts a massive pressure as he strides forward. Neither me or the kid can force ourselves to answer before he continues.

"Well, damn. Looks like some brat saw something that he wasn't supposed to see," he smirks. "Can't have a snitch running around, can we?" he asks as he saunters towards the kid.

"Wait!" I exclaim with all the authority I can muster. "There's no point in getting rid of him. The plan's already in motion and one kid running around isn't gonna change anything. By the time he tells anyone about our position, we'll be long gone. So it'd just be easier to let him go." Muscular stops and, for a second, I almost believe that he's considering it.

"Yeah, but this a good warm-up anyways," he states coldly. He takes another step towards the kid.

"Y-you get away from me, freak!" he screams.

"Woah, freak seems a little harsh," Muscular responds in fake hurt tone. " But I bet it's because of this mask." He takes the mask off with a flourish. Beneath it, the right side of his face is carries a jagged scar extending over a prosthetic eye. His wound serves to exaggerate his vicious expression. For an instant, he looks inhuman. Like a monster.

"There, see?" he continues. "Now I'm a normal person, just like you."

Upon seeing his face, the kid has frozen still. "You… you're...you're the one who-" the kid forces out as he shakes with fear.

"Now then, kid, try to last a couple minutes," Muscular request as he charges towards the kid.

From what I remember from his quirk, it's some kind of body enhancement. That means that in a solo fight, I stand little to no chance. Not to mention that defeating Muscular could mean losing a huge asset to the League, all for the sake of this kid.

All I want is for you to stand by your beliefs and do what you believe is right

I sprint towards the kid as well. Even though I'm closer, Muscular quickly overtakes me and skids to a stop before the kid. I desperately reach out with my hand and activate Impel. A tendril rockets forward and latches onto the kid's shirt as Muscular raises a fist to strike him.

"Arrgggh!" he screams as I retract and drag the kid across the ground. He's only moved a few inches before Muscular's hand crashes to the ground, barely missing him. He flails as Impel drags him closer until I catch him. He begins to struggle before stopping and clutching at my shirt.

"If I'm remembering correctly, it's Deku, right?" Muscular asks in a condescending tone. I don't answer. "Yeah I'm sure that's right," he continues. "Can you tell me, Deku, what the hell you're doing?"

"I said we shouldn't kill him," I answer. "So I'm not going to let you kill him."

"Well, I hope you're ready to get slaughtered," he states as he stretches his arm over his head. He's mocking me but I need the break anyways.

"Hey," I beckon to the kid gripping to my chest. "Can you tell me your name?" I ask kindly.

"It's Kota," he whimpers. The feeling of wet spots forming on my shirt tell me that he's started to cry.

"There's no need to be upset, Kota, because I'm here," I reassure him. "And I won't let you get hurt." I push him behind me as I step towards Muscular.

Immediately, I dash towards the rock wall and away from Kota in order to keep him safe. Muscular's eyes follow me and he crouches on the ground in a running stance. Discolored pink and red ribbons cover his legs for a second. In that instant, he covers the distance between us and raises his arms to strike me. Both hands swing around in an attempt to clap my ears.

With my right hand, I launch two Impel tendrils. They both strike the underside of his hands, forcing them up. Muscular claps just above my head, the deafening sound almost making me flinch. I ignore it and take the opportunity to get closer to him. While he's off guard from his attack missing, I get close and drive my elbow into his diaphragm. But instead of the underside of his ribs, I feel my strike bounce off a solid pad. It's too malleable to be armor but too strong for my charge to be effective.

Taking advantage of my confusion, Muscular drives his knee upwards. I can't get out of the way before it collides with my gut. I let out a gasp as the force lifts me into the air. Muscular continues his assault by raising his leg to kick me into the rock wall. I can barely raise my arms in defense before he strikes. I slam into the wall, with every part of my body aching from the force of the impact.

Without relenting, Muscular charges forward to pummel me further. I extend my right arm to the side and lodge an Impel tendril into the wall a few inches away. As Muscular moves to punch straight in the face, I retract the tendril. I'm immediately dragged to the spot in the wall as Muscular's fist cracks the stone where I was a second earlier. With his movement temporarily limited, I lift my leg and kick him directly in the chin. The force sends his head rocking and he seems to stagger.

I try to back up as quickly as possible. But as I pull my tendril out the wall, the force disrupts my balance and knocks me off my feet. I fall straight on my back and quickly attempt to stand again. As I try to regain my balance, Muscular begins to laugh.

"That wasn't too bad, Deku," he smirks. "But I should really stop holding back." His words make my heart drop. "You see, I'm not your average human." He clenches his fists. Like before, discolored pink and red ribbons wrap around his body and cover his entire body. He lowers himself into a sprinting stance again. "My strength," he adds, "goes way beyond someone like you."

He dashes forward, disappearing from my sight completely. I can only follow the sound of his feet crashing into the ground.

Crash

To my left

Crash

On the wall, farther left

Crash

Behind me

I turn around just in time to see Muscular lazily raise his hand to strike me. Before I can think of what to do, he slams me to the ground. The wind is knocked out of me as I crash into the ground. Muscular just watches as I struggle desperately to breathe. Several seconds pass before I can force air into my lungs. Just as relief fills my body, Muscular drives his foot down and steps on my chest. I strike his foot over and over but it doesn't budge.

He begins to put more pressure on my chest and chuckles at my desperation. "This couldn't have gone any other way, Deku. My own skin couldn't contain my strength. What makes you think you can?"

I'm unable to answer as he pushes harder into my chest. Even so, I grit my teeth and try to think of a plan. But no matter how hard I try to focus, I can't think of anything other than the burning in my ribs.

"GAHH!" I roar aloud as I hit his leg. But once again, the impact is absorbed by the growth that surround his body.

Suddenly, the pressure lessens and I feel a few drops of water hit my face. Muscular is drenched and, by following his gaze, I can see Kota with water dripping from his hands.

"Get away!" Kota cries out as he sprays more water in Muscular's face.

"Ha! What're you gonna do, drown me?"he laughs aloud.

I can almost understand where Kota is coming from. For a physical beasts like Muscular, cutting off air supply would be the best way to win. But Kota is clearly not developed enough to do that and I don't have any method to even try.

Or do I?

I carefully raise my hand and extend a tendril towards Muscular's leg. As expected, the ribbons are organic so once it makes contact, I activate Impel. I can experience the raw power flowing through me, the ability to manipulate my strength as I please. I focus all of it on the throat, urging the muscles to grow without end.

"Aaa, aaaah, aaaaaaaah," Muscular groans as he clenches his throat. He instinctively begins to back away, taking his foot off of my chest. I begin to breathe easily but I keep the tendril on him.

"You've probably noticing the clump in your throat by now," I start. "That would be a group of your muscles blocking your airway."

"Aaaaaaaaaahhaag" Muscular continues to struggle, his nails digging into his neck in an attempt to free it. He's panicking too much to notice the suspicious tendril digging into his leg. In his desperation, he begins to grow his arm muscles more in order to free his airway.

"Muscle have blood too, you know," I continue. "That means that they require oxygen as well, oxygen you can't keep providing."

Realizing his mistake, Muscular returns his arms to normal but continues to claw at his neck. His fingers clench and his toes curl as he starts to spasm. His expression has become manic as he gasps "W-why?"

"Because, no matter what you believe in, a child should be off-limits," I answer. "Anyone that would be willing to go that far doesn't have a place in the League."

Muscular reaches his hand towards me, as if to strike me again. It shakes in mid air before falling limply to his side.
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