Smoke and debris were still up in the air, turning the examination site into a real battlefield. Dozens of black silhouettes were approaching, running closer and closer, until they weren't mere shapes of color in the distance, but clear human figures still running forward.
There was a lot of movement all around. Be it from the pseudo-villains invading the area, from those who had not yet forgotten their rationale and knew they had to move the wounded to a safer place, even from the rescuers from far away, who had no doubt heard all the commotion by now and had realized the added challenge.
Through it all, Atsuhi remained unmoving, feet rooted in the ground, fists clenched by her sides, and a pair of eyes staring hard at the oncoming danger.
The fighters over here are few and far between. The rest are going to arrive sooner or later, but until then, someone's gotta hold them off...
She briefly tore her eyes away from the incoming enemies to look around, spotting but a few people who could fight at all. It wasn't going to be easy, that much she already knew for certain. The question was – was it even possible?
"Only time will tell," she mumbled under her breath. Noticing Gang Orca and his minions (whose style of dressing was surprisingly coordinated, as all of them looked identical) approaching dangerous territory, she turned to the one person she could still notice standing just as motionless as her in her peripheral vision.
"Midoriya-kun!" she called out, making the greenhead look at her surprised, as if he hadn't noticed her before. "Can you help me with holding out the front here?" Midoriya nodded, moving closer to the girl and taking on a battle stance. He looked to be in thought for a short second, only to turn to her with furrowed brows and a serious expression.
"I'll take care of as many as I can from up in the air. Can you handle those who manage to slip past?"
"You got it. What about Gang Orca?"
A brief silence followed.
"We'll try to hold him off, at least until the others get here. If bad comes to worse, you can use your new ultimate move, Heat Wave. Kirishima-kun told me about it during the break." Atsuhi chuckled a little. Ever the fanboy, she thought. Though she couldn't argue that it was a useful asset in times like these.
"Right. We can do this."
The first wave was almost onto them. And worst of all? Gang Orca was at the very, very front of it.
Midoriya crouched lower, his final move before he could jump up, and Atsuhi prepared a hand on the grenades on her belt, running through the possibilities of taking down a pro with just the two of them.
Yet, a blur of black and green whizzed past before either of them could even move an inch.
The blur, whom she quickly recognized as the Shindo of Ketsubutsu High who had so enthusiastically introduced himself just before the exam, headed straight for the main hero – or rather, villain. He moved low, body close to the ground, and calmly handed out instructions.
"You two help get the civilians farther away from here. I'll hit those guys with shock waves spaced at one-second intervals," he said, and a mere second later, the ground cracked up beneath the villains' feet, sending them tumbling and falling around.
Unfortunately, it hadn't managed to hit everyone. It hadn't managed to hit a very troublesome individual. The moment Atsuhi realized what was about to happen, she cried out.
"Shindo-san, get back, you will-"
"Too slow," Gang Orca calmly said. Just like that, Shindo was knocked down to the ground, temporarily paralyzed. Both Atsuhi and Midoriya already looked alarmed, knowing what Gang Orca's Quirk was capable of.
He's essentially like an orca, except on dry land. And Shindo-san just got hit by his ultrasonic attack... For a second there, I thought we had a chance. But now it's back to two again... Where is everybody else...
In the next instant, ice swept the villain away. With it, came not only Todoroki, but a few other familiar faces too. With Mina, Ojiro, and Tokoyami now having arrived, things were looking just a little brighter. She could faintly see Inasa flying closer too.
So they did, after all, have a chance against the new threat.
Atsuhi noticed Midoriya gazing at the distance, where the still motionless Shindo had been knocked back to, and just before the boy could dash off on his own, she put a hand on his shoulder and motioned towards the oncoming minions Gang Orca brought with him.
"It's fine, I'll go get him to safety. You will do a much better job than me at keeping this place safe anyway." With no more time left for unneeded chats, Atsuhi scurried off to the slightly more quiet and farther area of the field, though her run wasn't nearly as peaceful as she'd hoped, having to take down a few attackers on her way.
She quickly spotted the black-haired boy desperately trying, but to his frustration, failing to get up, and went to him.
"Hey, hey, don't strain yourself now! Are you okay? You got blown off quite far..." She moved to put one of his arms across her shoulders and helped lift him up on his feet. To her surprise, he could support most of his weight himself already, perhaps lacking only the strength needed to get up. Shindo, on the other hand, looked at her with a dozen questions written on his face. Either that, or the paralysis was affecting his ability to express as well. Atsuhi suppressed a chuckle.
"What? I'm not gonna let an odd first impression influence me. We're supposed to work together here, after all!" She spoke cheerfully, moving with slow and steady steps towards the evacuation center. One thing she unfortunately didn't know about Gang Orca's Quirk, was how long the effects of this attack of his were supposed to last. Having no idea how long Shindo would be unable to move, she thought it best to get him to safety first.
"Huh? Who would've thought..." he mused quietly, but remained silent afterwards.
Jeez, thank you for making things awkward... We should be there soon enough anyway though.
By this point, she supported almost none of Shindo's weight herself, and the boy was almost back to normal. At this rate, they wouldn't even have to go back to the evacuation center in the first place.
"Wow, the effect really seems to be wearing off quickly," Atsuhi turned to him in awe. "How?" Shindo laughed quietly.
"Sound waves or vibrations, my brain is used to getting scrambled up by my own Quirk every day. Guess you could say I've built up some resistance to it." Atsuhi cocked an eyebrow.
"Come to think of it, I only saw your Quirk briefly there..." Upon feeling a slight resistance from Shindo, she slowed to a halt, as he slowly took his arm back by his side, making sure it wasn't numb anymore. He stretched a little, and turned to explain.
"I can make anything I touch vibrate. That's it, pretty simple. Though it sometimes leaves me immobile for a few seconds, depending on the scale of the attack." Atsuhi nodded along, taking note of how this ability could come into use very soon, when the two would have to return to the battle front. She kept casting concerned glances at said battle front though, noticing both Todoroki and Inasa were on the scene, only for them to be... arguing with each other.
"At a time like this? Jeez, good job, you're about to fail all of us..." Atsuhi couldn't help but mumble out loud, causing Shindo to look over in the same direction.
"Well, well, would you look at that, the two biggest hero schools in all of Japan, fighting between each other," he smirked, though the teasing look he cast at the girl clued her in that it was meant to be a joke. She pouted, barely containing her laughter.
"Anyway, we should go and help out..." Atsuhi's words drifted off, eyes briefly turning to the side, where she seemed to think the air had suddenly become a little too warm for comfort.
In the blink of an eye, two things happened.
First, she realized the reason for her concerns, as she gazed at the flames headed their way, almost like they moved in slow motion.
Second, the scenery in front of her sharply changed, as a strong weight pushed her off the course of the flames, and towards the ground.
Between the sudden heat and the sharp impact, she coughed a few times, and opened her eyes, not realizing when she'd shut them tightly in the first place. She could feel the weight quickly lift off of her back, and she pushed herself up from where she'd fallen to the ground following the sudden pressure. Looking around frantically, she noticed the place where they’d been up until now was left scorched, but also Shindo right beside her, quickly realizing where the weight had come from. Upon opening her mouth to thank him however, she was met with a shake of his head and a particularly smart idea.
"Let's just move outta here." Atsuhi immediately nodded, and the two took off again, this time running and taking care to avoid any more flaming attacks. Every once in a while, they would glance back to where the real fight was in its wake, only to realize things weren't looking any better, with Midoriya trying his best to get Inasa and Todoroki to cooperate, yet seeing all of his attempts fail miserably. Worst of all, the three could barely handle Gang Orca by himself, yet there was a large group of his minions heading for the heroes transporting the injured.
Atsuhi could tell that's where Shindo was looking too. Without turning to her, he asked, eyes darting around and scanning the area.
"What about your Quirk?"
That's right. What's the point of having two heroes together like this if they can't figure out how to use their Quirks in unison, after all?
"I can alter the temperature of anything I touch. So mine's pretty simple too." She could hear him inhale and quickly continued, knowing his question already. "Yes, I can use it on the ground. My range there is only about 20 meters though."
"Good enough. We're gonna do this."
The two were almost there already, quickly finding themselves between those carrying off the wounded, and the villains. Atsuhi stopped in place and turned to face the latter, while Shindo crouched down beside her. She could spot Midoriya looking at them from afar and nodded to assure him that they've got it under control.
"Heat Wave-" Atsuhi called out, already activating her move, as the ground before her cracked a little due to Shindo’s help. "Breaking Point!!" With that, the two's Quirks took full effect, and the last of the villains were down.
Now, all that's left is...
"Gang Orca..." Just as Shindo got up and dusted off his hands, the two looked on at the main battle, only for the villain in its very center to suddenly be enveloped in a powerful fire tornado.
"W-woah! They really might just defeat him at this rate!" Atsuhi exclaimed, a grin already forming on her lips.
"Not to mention that the two are paralyzed..." Shindo added, eyes wandering beyond the massive attack.
"Eh? Y-you're right!" She quickly spotted both Inasa and Todoroki lying on the ground motionless and on different ends of the examination site nonetheless.
It was a feeling unlike any other, knowing that the test may come to an end any second now. Knowing that soon enough, she was going to find out whether she had passed or not. Whether everybody else had passed or not.
No, now's not the time for thoughts like these... We don't actually know what's gonna decide when the test ends in the first place. Until then, all we can do is fight back and protect those who have been injured.
And oh, was she glad she had taken this moment of calm to psyche herself up. For in the distance, where the fire tornado should have still been going strong, there was now only Gang Orca standing in the middle of the clearing. A small blob of color moved somewhere far away, the colors she could barely see leading Atsuhi to believe this was Midoriya coming in to help at the most desperate of times again, only for him to go straight at the villain, pulling back his leg to deliver a strong kick.
All movement halted.
"Ahem! As of this moment, every single member of the 'Help Us Company' on the field has been rescued from immediate danger. As such, I officially declare the test to be over!"
After another brief moment of silence, Atsuhi’s eyes widened.
She knew that she should've felt a wave of relief wash over her, that her racing heart should've calmed down, that her thoughts should've slowed their wild speed. That she should've sighed and smiled at the thought of having made it.
But that was just the thing. She had no idea whether she had made it yet or not.
Because in times like these, there is only one thing more frightening to befall you once the test comes to an end.
Seeing the results.
Knowing if your labor really has paid off. If your best was just enough. If you were ever good enough to make it in the first place.
A sense of dread set in. Among everybody.
The students anxiously moved out, going to get changed as per instructions.
It's almost over, Atsuhi... You just gotta wait a little longer...