news on the nines @stanzas
Ingenium VS The Law of Gravity originally published 28. july 2018 (available on ao3)

I. Ingenium VS The Law of Gravity

There is always some degree of risk-taking in being a hero. His career isn’t the choice for the weak hearted, or those unable to keep up with the taxing demand of entering into situations filled with imminent peril. Heroes take risks. Heroes make hard decisions in a split second that either fail or save the lives of countless people around them. Good heroes are the ones who succeed at making the right call.

Tenya is a good hero. He isn’t one to take drastic risks. He calculates everything beforehand to minimize the likelihood of accidents. Reaction time, instincts, and fighting skill will only go so far. Strategy is his most developed weapon, and the most effective. Taking risks is the equivalent of gambling; and one does not gamble when the lives of others are involved.

In some instances, however, there is only so much he can do. Even good heroes make bad decisions. To err is to human, and there isn’t a person on the planet who would expect Tenya to predict the future. There is no person on the planet -- except, perhaps, those with quirks that permit them -- that can predict the future. 

Heroes can’t predict the future. They can’t predict what will go wrong. Heroes are the ones who react on instinct. 

Right now, all of Tenya’s instincts tell him he should run the opposite direction and leave. 

Around him he hears the cries of frightened civilians and the screams of sirens. Muffled through the sheetrock in the building, it all seems much farther away. The baby from the floor above him lets out a tremendous wail. Tenya glances quickly from the gap in the collapsed staircase to the jagged edge of concrete and piping sticking out like a child’s immature art project. He calculates the distance. He takes a few steps back, activates Recipro Burst, and leaps.

He makes it. Barely. 

The floor crumbles under his feet as he runs, but Tenya pays it no mind. He will not be returning the way he came. The building won’t last long enough, and he can’t worry about the crumbling structure around him more than required to keep him on his feet, keep himself moving. He needs the floor beneath him now, for a moment, for one final climb. 

It is much easier going down than going up, after all. 

Crack! 

Kicking open the door to the apartment where the cry originated, Tenya leaps over the sofa and dashes for the nursery. As the mother outside described, her son is awake and screaming in his crib. Tenya lifts the child gently and tucks their head against his chest for protection. The building shudders around him. 

There aren’t any windows large enough in the apartment for him to jump from. At this height, it is unlikely he or the child would survive the fall. With the shrieking child in his arms, Tenya bolts out the door and peers over the stairwell outside the apartment. The stairwells beneath are out of commission. He won’t be able to jump safely with the precious cargo in his arms. He would never risk injury for himself or a child so small and fragile. His engines are still cooling, and he can’t activate another Recipro Burst. All he has at the moment is his natural speed and wit. 

He turns his head and looks up. The roof it is.

Evacuation teams and rescue heroes are patrolling the perimeter of the building. On the roof, where he would be most visible, is the safest course of action. It is the likeliest scenario for rescue. His radio is out of commission for the moment due to range, and the roof is the only logical course of action.  He’s close enough to the roof as it is, as the apartment was located near the top of the complex. Three floors. Tenya knows he can make it. 

The baby in his arms does not quiet despite his sincerest efforts to soothe it. “I am very sorry,” Tenya tells the baby. “I know this is very uncomfortable. But I promise you will be alright.” Louder piercing wails fill the air in response. Tenya shifts his arms and sprints up the stairs to the next floor without looking back.

In most instances, Tenya would be more considerate in regards to public property, but he holds back no hesitation and kicks down the door to the roof. The building is collapsing as it is, so he doubts this will reflect on his quarterly financial damages review. Out of the three of them at the agency, Tenya has the lowest record and the longest running streak for Under 10% Property Damage, a title he boasts proudly and frequently. Todoroki, a victim of frequent water & fire inflicted damages sits at the top with a comfortable 21% (lower than the national average of 24%, which is a feat in itself). Midoriya sits between them with a modest 14%. His score would be lower if it weren’t for the nature of the villains he is frequently paired against. 

This building Tenya is standing on will be added to the statistic for improper use of quirk-reported incidents. The cause, from his understanding, is unknown. The explosion that tore apart the lower half of the foundations would indicate someone with a powerful quirk was responsible, although the suspect fled the scene before being sighted. The unstable foundations beneath the building proved to be a more complex issue, as the property the complex was built upon had no support. The building would collapse and sink into a city garage sized sinkhole within minutes.

Tenya glances down the side of the roof and experiences a naseauting surge of vertigo as he watches the ant-sized heroes and paramedics streaming in and out of the lower levels. He spots Uraraka in the crowd in vibrant pink, although the enormous stack of concrete floating above her head is a much larger target. 

“Ingenium!” Tenya curls the child protectively against his chest on instinct. His radio crackles in his ear. “You got him?”

“The child is safe with me!” Tenya replies, and hopes his voice is loud enough to carry over the limited reception. “I’m waiting for assistance on the roof, the lower levels are impossible to navigate.”

“Uravity is busy with rescues right now.” The operator replies, regretfully. “I’m sending up Heli in the meantime. She’ll take the kid. I’ll find someone else to grab you, hold on.” 

Heli is the newest sidekick in their precinct, with an incredible helicopter-like quirk that allowed her to manipulate the fibers of her hair and rotate them in bands fast enough to allow her to hover for short periods of time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hold both her own weight and the weight of another passenger. A small child, however...

Heli climbs slowly up the side of the building. Tenya notices she is covered in ash from head to foot by the time she hovers at eye-level. She’s smiling, however, so it must not bother her. 

Tenya hands the child off to Heli. “You did good.” Heli reassures him, tucking the disgruntled child into the crook of her arm. Tenya doesn’t know if the child stopped crying, but it’s hard to hear anything over the sirens below and the sound of news choppers above him. “Hang tight now, little man! You’re okay now!” She slowly descends to the ground team and Tenya watches her dash off with the child in search of the first aid tents where his mother is waiting. 

All the tension in his body releases. His duty is done, for now. If he can safely return to the ground team, he should be cleared to help the rescue teams evacuate the nearby buildings and --

The ground beneath him trembles. Over the radio, he hears the frantic alarm from the operator. “Hold on, Ingenium! The building is clear but it looks like it’s going down any second. Do you have an escape route?

Tenya races from one end of the roof to another. “Negative, I’m afraid the roofs below are too far.”

What about up?

“My engines haven’t aren’t finished cooling. I won’t be able to make the jump.” The operator curses. “Do you have any other suggestions?”

I’ll try convincing one of the news choppers to make a close cut and swing by. That’s your last shot.”

“Understood. Thank you.” No sooner than the words leave his mouth, Tenya’s whole world shifts. The building gives way. And Tenya is still on it. Beneath him, the flooring falls through and collapses into itself. Tenya scrambles for the edge and falls.

Something slams into him on his way down. It isn’t hard enough to be rubble, or a chunk of concrete, but it knocks the breath right out of him. Tenya’s vision goes dark. He fights and clings to his last shred of consciousness, praying for everyone down below is out of range, hoping he survives…

“Iida, you’re crushing me.”

Tenya blinks, clearing dust from his eyes. The padding beneath him is not the ground, as he thought. Midoriya coughs and rubs ash off his face. “Iida. Iida-kun, are you okay?”

Remembering Midoriya’s complaint, he rolls over. Sitting up is a mistake. The ground spins around him in a starting swirl of color. Midoriya places a firm, warm hand over the back of Tenya’s neck to steady him.

“Hey, you’re alright.” Midoriya says, and smiles. “I caught you.”

“You did.” Tenya agrees, feeling lightheaded. “But what -- how?

Midoriya laughs. “I ran very fast.” Shifting his hand, he wraps his arm over Tenya’s shoulders. Tenya is grateful for the comfort and leans into it without thinking. “I think faster than you. Maybe I’ll finally beat you in a race.” He waves over a paramedic, and Tenya spots two-toned red and white hair bobbing and weaving out of the hurricane of first aid responders. “Well, okay. Todoroki-kun helped. A little.”

Todoroki jogs over and puts a cold hand against Tenya’s face in greeting. He wraps his entire hand around Tenya’s jaw and tilts his head to the side. “You have a concussion.” Todoroki informs him. Tenya blinks. Todoroki’s intense gaze crosses every inch of his body before he is satisfied, and turns on Midoriya to scold him. “That was very stupid. I almost didn’t make the wall in time.”

Midoriya shrugs, still smiling for some ridiculous reason. If what Todoroki said is true, he made an incredibly risky move jumping after Tenya in the rubble. There is a line between brave and stupid, and Midoriya is often toeing between both. He pokes Midoriya’s arm and says, “Thank you.” The lecture will come later.

Todoroki grumbles, “You’re lucky you’re both alive. Jumping from that height -- what were you thinking…?”

Tenya decides sitting upright is too taxing and lays back down in Midoriya’s lap. His lap is much softer than the ground. Todoroki’s low voice filters in and out, often met with the soft tones he recognizes from Midoriya.

Tenya comes to in the first aid tent beside Uraraka. “You’re awake!” Uraraka exclaims. She winces sympathetically at Iida’s headwrap and lowers her volume because she is an excellent and considerate friend. “The medic said you’d be fine.” She smiles, and teases, “Your boyfriends are out there talking to the press.” 

Ignoring her last comment, Tenya sits up abruptly and swings his legs off the bed. “I need to check in with Detective Isozaki. Thank you for taking care of me, Ochaco-kun!”

“Give Deku-kun and Todoroki-kun a big kiss for me!” Ochaco cackles as he ducks out of the tent. 

Tenya isn’t able to find Detective Isozaki in the chaos of emergency responders, but he finds Todoroki and Midoriya with ease. Leaning one arm on Todoroki’s shoulder, Midoriya looks as tall as the other heroes beside him. Even Todoroki appears to stand at his height, but Tenya knows that is due to poor posture more than anything else. If only Todoroki would listen to him when he offers power walking tips! His spine would thank him for it.

Todoroki is the first to see him. He spots Tenya in the crowd and angles his entire body towards him, ignoring Midoriya’s protest as his armrest shifts out of reach. “Iida,” Todoroki says. “Glad to see you up.”

Midoriya elbows him. “I told you he’d be fine. Hey, wanna get hot pot after this?” Todoroki’s lip curls, and he chuckles. “Alright, I’ll lay off the jokes. For now. You pick dinner, I’ll pay.”

“Thank you for the offer,” Tenya says. “But I’d much rather head home. Today was…”

Exhausting.” Todoroki agrees wearily. “If you don’t mind the company, we could order food and have it at your place.” Tenya nods heavily. He returns his attention on Midoriya and waves his hand emphatically as he begins his lecture about safety and risk management. Midoriya endures the treatment with an expression of patient exasperation. 

The officers on scene interrupt and clear them for duty. Tenya bows and thanks the rescue teams and sends his thanks along to the volunteers in charge of coordinating the radios and the operators for the event. Todoroki sticks close to his side and wards off any intruding reporters with a cold glare. At any other time, Tenya would remind him not to rebuke the press, but he finds his too tired to voice any sufficient complaint. Midoriya bounds along beside them and chatters about the new Red Riot merchandise line. Finally, the stress holding Tenya up collapses. He leans into Midoriya’s shoulder and allows Todoroki’s warm hand at his back to steer him the right way.

Under his breath, Todoroki mutters as he walks. “I’d sleep a lot easier if you two would stop jumping off things and expecting me to catch you.”

1. Ingenium VS The Law of Gravity 2364 0 0 2. Entropy VS Naptime 1772 0 0 3. Ingenium VS Solid Objects And The Inability To Phase Through Them 749 0 0 4. Todoroki VS The Media  829 0 0 5. Todoroki & Iida VS Punctuality (Or Lack Thereof)  449 0 0 6. Deku VS Murphy’s Law 1168 0 0