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"A hero who can figure a way out is a better hero than even one with a stronger innate ability. A hero who can find a way doing what they can is a better hero than even one with gifts that make them appear as though they stand with gods. On the contrary, heroes who have bigger, flashier and, quote-unquote, 'better' Quirks have an even bigger burden to shoulder. A higher standard to meet. And rightfully so. In this world, it's not what you get, but what you do with it. To exceed expectation is the mark of greatness. The tools you have chosen and refined are part of that. The layman hypes up the showmanship. Professional heroes know better and see your true substance."

Her question on his place in battle twinged a bit, though not as painful as it used to. "I don't join the battle anymore. Quite the opposite. If anything breaks out, I'm the one looked after and shepherded away. Anything from a stray rock shard breaking off from someone training to a Villain drill. It was difficult to adjust. I considered quitting a few times because it made me realize what little else I contributed. Instead, similar to what you have done, I expanded my skillset. I picked up new tools and learned to use them. Once thing that can separate a hero as great from a hero as good is what they can do when they cannot use their gifts. When your go-to toolbox is inaccessible. When someone defies all expectations in the terms of engagement.

"So, no. Whether it's two students in a hall brawl or a legitimate Villain threat...I don't get involved anymore. As much as my old self would love to, I have to be smarter than I was then. Know how you can save people. The answer isn't always to jump into the heat of action when the moment arises. In my case, I win the battle before there is one. I win the battle by avoiding one. Part of knowing that now is knowing why I do what I do. Because I still want to help students. You don't have to constantly question yourself, for too much creates doubt. Every now and then, though, you need to know why. Reflect on why. Why did you come to UA? Why do you stay here?"


- - -

Ryuichi reflected in Midnight's words as he transcribed them. That self-defeating attitude had cost him dearly at the Festivals. In getting his dream internships. In getting into the work-study programs he pursued, especially with another hero whose Quirk had a similar activation condition, Nighteye. If only that part of him was refined enough from the start...though, sitting on that, in itself, was falling back into old ways as Nemuri said. As long as he tried to rise to the next challenge, his improvement would show. Even this late in his schooling, there was still a chance. Great heroes showed their greatness in their school days. His were not yet over, even as past doors had closed. Letting himself drown in that was the door to death. Maybe his. Maybe someone else's. If not in body, in spirit or heart.

"So part of our reality is we're going to jump straight into the wolves' den on a regular basis. Rather than concern ourselves now with how much better they will be, we will have to become better ourselves. Know that we can, and that someone must to keep them from reshaping things as they selfishly see fit." When she asked why he fought and why he was at UA, he paused. That was something he hadn't visited since he was a bright-eyed first-year, when he was just happy to be at UA. That it was possible with their entry requirements changing to reflect the strengths of Quirks like his, that fighting robots couldn't test. He had not yet matured to a point to rise above the jaded bitterness as he accepted the common lie - raw ability would trump all.

"I haven't answered that question since before the Entrance Exam. For some time, I fought the notion this Quirk set me on a villain's path. That didn't go away. I fought to show I could still be part of a team, even if I couldn't get the right setup for the finisher. I fought because I had something to prove. Because I thought I had not proved it yet. Now...I'm here and I fight...because this world is becoming a darker place. Left to its own, the strong survive, and I don't see myself as strong or oozing with raw power or ability. I fight to keep that order in place so others who see themselves in the shadows of the star heroes can still see the light. To help them know where to look when they can't see the sun."
Weekly bump
Virum's approach slowly started to make its way amid the drone of voices until his broke the chorus behind them. Lanestol came back to what felt familiar and real again. He turned to the companion he just healed after they made their way downhill when he was asked if he was alright. Of anyone who could have asked, it had to be the fastest learner of the crew.

"I might just be hearing things is all. I'll be fine." He continued uphill, focusing on how Virum was handling the walk back uphill. "Probably should make sure you're still together once we get back to the ship. I hope I did a good enough job, though I also like to check up on patients when I have to do off-ship operations." He tried shifting the topic so he didn't remain in a state of terror from what he thought he just experienced. He wasn't lying. He just needed to think about anything else.
Toshinori stared intently at the girl, watching as she took notes and looked back to him to listen. He could tell she was getting at least enough to work with to start. He could take hope she would have more than just his words to cut-and-paste for an assignment - that she would take this time to take his words to heart. Hopefully, the right ones. Even as he had been in this role for a while, he feared he still had some old tendencies. He felt his words, even now, might inspire too extreme a message in one direction, even as he had shied away from the other. He sat back at attention as Mela asked him further questions.

"Absolutely," he replied, answering her first question in the lull. "You are currently at the time for marketing yourself to agencies out there, while you do not have independent experience. Your brand is what you show your teachers here at UA, your mentors in your internships, your judges at exams and the people you meet along the way in working to become a hero. More by the day, people have changed their attitude about the big, bombastic, flashy hero. And they have compelling arguments. That sort of hero, who has already endured schooling and training, will almost always have the skill to back up their bravado.

"What people have discovered is, for every All Might, there are about a hundred imitators and wannabes who want to be the All Might type of hero, even if only one, maybe two, could actually do it at their peak. The other 98 will learn a painful lesson in some form...if they live to learn it afterward. Heroes are becoming much more focused on the practical. Get the right heroes for the task at hand, get the job done and get out. There will be time to smile for the cameras when the threat is defeated. The sort of theatrics I did are rightfully dying out. Villains aren't as patient to stand around while the enemy hero makes a show of it. They will cut your throat as you speak. If you're gonna make a statement, get the job done all the way first."

He listened as she next moved to the Sports Festival, a more immediate need for her to gain from and prepare for. He nodded after she posed her question. "Of course you want to highlight your strengths. The Sports Festival is, more or less, your commercial for hero agencies to watch. You want to show them what sort of role you can fulfill and what you are best suited to tackle. At the same time, you also need so how you can adapt if whatever situation you end up in is adverse to your skills and Quirk. You may not get to work at a hero agency staffed well enough that they can send out a specialist or two to handle certain tasks. You might have to go to anything and everything or pick up anything that happens on a patrol. Wherever you go, you will end up in a situation where you're outmatched. You have to think...you have to do your job. You will fulfill the mission. That alone makes a massive difference. It's amazing what you can do when you tell yourself you have to do it. Use your strengths when you can. Use whatever you have to when you can't."


- - -

Ryuichi once again tuned in on Nemuri as she started to give her thoughts on his self-assessment. He expected her to comb through his analysis, though she was set on teaching a greater lesson instead. He nodded along as she seemed to agree with the core of his though process regarding their hypothetical duel - he would be at a major disadvantage. She turned it back around with what she wanted him to take away from her question, however. If he was actually in against Midnight, there were ways he could accomplish his mission. He had to think more about it, depending on what else there was, though he had to figure out and do something.

"Your feelings can sway a battle. You cannot go in feeling like you've lost already." He underlined these words in his notes and seemed to look straight at them once Nemuri paused. Perhaps this was at least one of his keys to make the final knockout stage at the Sports Festival. More important, he needed this for anything he would do in the future, especially hero work. Sure, his Quirk was powerful if he could get it to work on someone. He had always been thinking about its limits. How he couldn't work it on anyone he couldn't touch. He had always adjusted and thought about the rest of his limits. How he couldn't take as much damage before yielding, and how others knew it. She hit it square as well on that matter - even if they know what he's capable of, he can still win.

"Thank you for that. I will be sure to hold onto that. I've thought of myself as a good analyst and a realist for those situations. I would guess the reality is we are called upon to achieve the improbable anyway. This does lead me to my next question. Heroes and villains alike are getting stronger as hero academies produce more graduates. You appear to be of the mindset to succeed any way possible. How does this work in the current outlook for combating ever-growing threats? How do you adapt in a world that seems to want to muscle you out of hero work?"
I'm still up for it
Open again to new partners or old partners who want to try something else!
Toshinori smiled a bit as Mela started the interview and commended him continuing on his work helping, even as his Quirk had long since snuffed out. If he could puff out his body to let out a hearty laugh as he did many times before, he would have done so at this moment. He was satisfied to beam as wide a grin as he could muster up, renewed with a bit of purpose once more to carry on. He heard praises over and over on a daily basis with Deku, and though he was proud to know he was doing all he could with his successor, every now and then, praise like this felt special.

"Miss...you've got the heart of a hero. You're right. Being a hero isn't just about having a powerful or impressive Quirk. I know that now from many years of having and building upon my skillset and abilities with a powerful and impressive Quirk. And from being on the other side of it for a few years now. For all that time when I could stand tall as the Symbol of Peace, I brought with it a brash attitude. I felt invincible, to a degree. Like if I could jump headlong into danger, anyone could."

He sighed as he once again remembered those times. He had even continued watching old recordings from time to time on days when he felt particularly rough or weakened. Even having moved on for the most part, there were still memories and yearnings for times when he could personally stand up to those with powerful and impressive Quirks who used them for themselves and their selfish and criminal ends. Reflecting back, it almost felt wrong in a sense. Like sending children off to be the next round of soldiers. Like assigning them to charge against villains who could kill them without remorse. And yet, the alternative - survival of the fittest - was a worse outlook yet. If they were to die and suffer, better they fall standing.

"I have started to see more and more over this time focusing on my teaching that is not always the case. Typically, great heroes do start out with a great story from their days in school. We, as a society, glorify those who, in their youth, charged into a situation, even if they knew they would lose. As you may have noticed, the reality is UA doesn't view this as kindly. Security measures have only gone up. Access continues to recede. Even the Sports Festival has been on the block since UA erected on-campus dorms. You at least have to get creative to get involved. Heroics in school like from my generation at UA will get you thrown out in this generation at UA. Part of doing the right thing is knowing what that right thing is."


- - -

Ryuichi had come in expecting no less regarding Nemuri's language when she spoke and he started jotting down notes. Even if he would have to break up her quotes into more appropriate sound bites, he took care to write down her words verbatim. He took notice of the way her office was decorated and tried to hide his discomfort with how this setup was almost so suggestive, it wasn't suggesting anymore. Nevertheless, a slight nervous sweat betrayed being a bit on-edge with her demeanor. While he understood she had a reputation she embraced, he did try to steer clear of urging the act onward.

Her comments had his slight sweat grow into one more noticeable. He still was a teenage boy and such thoughts still crossed his mind the same as they did those who had also rushed in to interview Midnight for their assignment. He seemed much more conscious about them, however, and as he heard her describe the general ideas behind what she thought it took for her to get her job done, he attempted to filter the naughtier talk for the nuggets of wisdom he could take out of the conversation. He especially latched on to relying too much on a Quirk. Frustration and disappointment were familiar to him, especially in the backdrop of his last Sports Festival on the horizon. Over the past year, he felt he did a lot of what he could to make himself more versatile, more prepared to take on anyone, no matter what they knew about him. Beyond that, she was correct to implicate he had to face off even the least favorable enemies. Lives would depend on it. His first lesson from the interview itself: learn to thrive in the face of danger.

As she cut to turning the question back on him, he snapped back out of his focus and back into a cold sweat once more, becoming conscious of her undertones again.

"Well...more or less, since I don't have anything to combat you knowing I'm there, like hypermobility, an elemental power to change the terms of engagement or anything like big bursts of energy to say 'forget what you can do, I'll just blow you away,' it would stand to reason my best bet against you would be an ambush. I would have to catch you before you could roll back enough of your suit, which wouldn't take much time at all. Even if I were successful in touching you, fractions of a second make the difference in whether you take me down with you or not. And it's more likely you wake up first afterward. As soon as you know I'm there, you could protect yourself and I would have to back out if possible."

He felt it was an honest self-evaluation, even if it had a heavy pessimistic outlook. He assumed a writing position again, ready to take further notes from Nemuri on her thoughts about his answer. Would she agree? Offer something he could use in the short time left before the Festival? Or maybe even turn his thinking around?
Lanestol observed others as they placed their items among the vast piles. He did not notice one of his comrades disobeying their guide's orders as he was more intrigued with Orky noticing an item from among a fallen of his race. He sensed the artifact's remnant energy, as though a piece of its former owner's soul lingered upon the helmet. He could not pick up exactly what, though, and let the orc have his moment to lay the fallen warrior to rest.

He snapped back to reality. He hadn't been able to pick up on that before. He was strictly a medical professional, able to tell live from dead about as well as the next doctor. He seemed to hear voices calling from the treasures and trinkets strewn out and piled high before them. Voices of fallen, of those lost adrift in space and in unknown reaches of planets. They started to sound like they were talking over one another, and only grew louder as he continued to linger at the site.

Fortunately enough, Gorchek ordered them all back. Just as well, for he needed to find a place to quell these new voices he couldn't pick up on before. He filed in to board a shuttle back to the Stone-Turner, trying not to panic or let the adrenaline rush show in a cold sweat or tense sensation, though his eyes seemed betrayed his uncertain fear nonetheless. Who were these voices? How did they speak to him now? He tried to drown them out to avoid answering those questions.
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