Villain Hides His True Colors
[Translator – Yasi ]
[Proofreader – Karane ]
Less than a week until the school festival.
Trainees had been gathering each day with their teammates as they busily prepared for the upcoming event.
"Now! Everyone, take one of these! It was specially ordered, so accept it."
Mousin brought out luxurious shopping bags and handed one to each teammate.
"Oh! What is it? What is it? Is it beef?"
"Saki...why is meat the only thing ever on your mind? Hey, it's a lot more expensive than that."
"Wah~ If it's not meat, then I don't really want it..."
"Haha...See if you can say that after opening the bag. You won't be disappointed."
"What the hell did you bring?"
Everyone opened their shopping bags one by one when they saw Mousin with a more than usual confident expression.
At a first glance, there was a coat that looked very expensive.
"Hiiing? What's this? Why clothes all of a sudden...?"
"I thought it would be nice to have a team uniform. So I contacted some people and had it made right away."
"Wow~ What has gotten into you, ahjussi? This is really nice of you. Huh? But isn't this a really expensive brand?"
"Ahem. Well, I guess that's true, hehe..."
The uniform was of the highest quality and was made by a famous hero company.
Not only did it have the basic function of communication between teammates, it was a practical piece of clothing that could absorb the impact of bullets and help the wearer's mana circulation.
"Oh? This is expensive?"
"Keuh...I heard that you have to make a reservation at least a few months in advance to get a uniform there...Thank you very much for this. I'll wear it well! I especially like the flame pattern engraved here."
"...I'll wear it well."
Teammates who had received the gift from Mousin couldn't hide their joy.
Noah looked at the coat in his hand with interest while Yeom Gangjun thanked Mousin with a deeply moved expression.
Even Fernando, who was usually quiet, kept fiddling with the hem of the coat as if he liked the gift.
"I have a lot of friends around me. You all know, right? Even if you have money, you can't get it. This could only happen because of me, euahaha!"
Mousin smiled with open shoulders for the first time in a while. Everyone around him also smiled after him.
"Ahjussi, but I might prefer beef..."
"H-hey, what? Do you know how hard it was for me to get this?!"
"Hahaha! Since I rarely ever get any present, I'll treat you to beef after the school festival!"
"Wow! I'm excited! I feel like I'm fired up all of a sudden."
Ever since the team was first formed, there had been an awkward tension between everyone, but with just one gift Mousin had prepared, the atmosphere of the team had become amicable in an instant.
However, even in this united atmosphere, there was one person who was frowning...
He...wants me to wear this?
Shirahui trembled as she crumpled the uniform she had received from Mousin.
Her eyes turned to the writing on the back of the uniform.
The team name was determined by combining Yeom Gangjun and Saki's suggestions from the other day.
As such, even if it was a little cheesy, shouldn't the name be something like 'Strongest Flame' or 'Fiery Fervor?'
Why is his name in the team's name?
Wasn't she the one leading the team? This made it seemed as if the team was prepared just for Noah.
She looked at Noah with venomous eyes.
There's something's wrong with this!
No matter how talented Noah was, wasn't he someone who was late and had barely managed to join the team?
On top of that, she was certain her father would come and watch her after all this time.
She never wanted to show the appearance of being a side-character in front of him.
"I'm not going to wear clothes like this. You guys wear it if you want to."
She angrily threw the uniform on the floor. Seeing that, Mousin suddenly flared up.
"What?! I've been so considerate, so what's up with your attitude!"
"Hmph! Why don't you pay more attention to the school festival if you have time to prepare for such things? You know you're just the filler on our team, right?"
"Wh-what? What did you say? You're just a grasshopper, how dare you talk to me like that..."
Mousin rolled up his sleeves and approached Shirahui threateningly. On the other hand, Shirahui raised her chin as if to tell him to try if he dared.
A truly tense situation.
At that moment, Noah, who had been quiet, opened his mouth.
"Ahjussi, it's noisy, so sit back down. What can you do besides getting annoyed like that?"
Mousin, who seemed as if he was about to throw a punch, quickly changed his expression as if he was doing Bian Lian and smiled.
(TN: Bian Lian is the art of face change.)
"Oho! What do you mean? I'm not angry. Look, I'm smiling like this."
"Really? Then apologize to her."
"Haha...I'm sorry. I just got worked up for a second."
Without the slightest hesitation, Mousin apologized to Shirahui. Then, Noah looked at Shirahui.
"Noona, I think it's all cleared up now, so let's move on quickly?"
Shirahui stared at Noah as she let out a short sigh.
"No. It was me who got worked up. I'm sorry."
"Haha, that's very good to see, Rahui! It's important for a hero to know when to admit their fault!"
After the small disturbance, the members of team Blazing Noah began to discuss the school festival in earnest.
"I think everyone knows some basic information about this event."
In principle, the school festival at the Hero Training Institute was as its name suggested. It was the kind of school festival in which each team could freely present a theme of their choice.
However, because the trainees wanted to use this opportunity to make their name known to the scouts and outside guests, the original intent of the festival was nowhere to be found.
So at some point, to show their individuality to the fullest, the 'sparring performance' had established itself as tradition at the institute's school festival.
In any case...
The sparring performance won't be easy...
Trainees wanted to showcase their most flashy skills, but it had to be thoroughly practiced so that there would be no injuries.
As such, in order to keep the sparring performance going smoothly, they must constantly work together to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses.
There's not much time left because the team formation was too late.
It was a hard situation to begin with because they didn't even know what abilities each other had.
And it could be said that there wasn't enough time before the event to practice each person's individual movements for the sparring performance to show their individuality to the fullest.
Looking at her teammates in front of her, Shirahui spoke.
"First of all, please tell me your talents. I need to know what you’re capable of so I can plan ahead."
Saki, the furthest, raised her hand.
"Me! Me! My ability is..."
"It's alright because I already know."
Saki's ability was similar to a nuclear explosion.
Even if Shirahui wasn't told, the whole school already knew.
After her, Yeom Gangjun spoke gallantly.
"Haha! Then is it my turn? My ability is to burn flames in my body..."
"You don't have to tell me either."
"Really? But I can explain it one more time..."
"No. It's fine."
Shirahui cut off Yeom Gangjun's words before he could begin explaining.
In fact, his ability was also well known.
Born into the famous Daegu family, he, who grew up called a genius from a young age, was a celebrity who often appeared in broadcasts and newspapers.
In any case, I already have something in mind on how to showcase the skills of those two, so it's okay.
She looked away and asked Mousin.
"What's your ability?"
Raising his chin and clearing his throat, Mousin answered.
"Ahem. You called me a filler earlier, but I'm actually a multi-talented person with the ability to deal with everything."
He took out a pair of tonfas hanging from his waist. And from it, flames of a fire spirit bloomed.
"From close combat using tonfas to rear support using spirit weapons, any position is possible. Plus, I have the foresight to see approaching death, so I could save a teammate from an enemy attack. How about this much?"
"So...That means you're not particularly outstanding. Well, I roughly understand it."
"Wh-what! Take that back right now! Do you know how well I did on the Hero Exam? Hey, Saki! Don't stay still and tell her!"
"That's right! Even if ahjussi isn't good at fighting, he's a good detector! If you just tie him up tightly to a pole, he's very...Hmm! Hmm!"
"N-no! I-I don't want to do that even if I die!"
Once Mousin hurriedly covered Saki's mouth, Saki silently looked at Noah as muffled sounds were heard.
After looking at them for a moment, Shirahui sighed inwardly.
Well, I didn't expect much from him anyway, so it doesn't matter.
Mousin was from a prestigious family, so it was enough to use him to attract people's attention.
Shirahui turned her head to the pale boy who was still fiddling with his uniform.
"Fernando. What exactly is your ability? I've never heard of it properly."
In response, Fernando uttered a short sentence.
"Is that all...?"
She asked again, but Fernando was silent, as if he had no intention of talking anymore.
He was a very uncooperative fellow.
* * *
[ Translator - Yasi ]
[ Proofreader - Karane ]
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* * *
But even if he was, given what she had seen in class, she thought that at least one more person was easy to plan for.
Body enhancement from the looks of it.
Well, it didn't really matter what his ability was. Now, there was someone else she wanted to know...
"Choi Noah. What kind of ability do you have?"
Shirahui asked Noah who was sitting idly and looking at her.
Concerning Noah's ability, nothing precise had been known so far.
She had used all her connections to gather information about the hotel incident and the Hero Exam, but there wasn't any useful information. She only knew that he was someone who used a sword.
And if she looked at the recent video in Hong Kong, he had swung a giant sword the size of a small building, so maybe his ability was to make objects bigger.
I'll take this opportunity to clearly understand what he's capable of.
Just as a sense of rivalry was burning in her head, Noah tilted his head.
"Excuse me, noona. Before that, can I ask you something?"
"Yes. If you have any questions, please tell me."
"Why do you need to know our abilities?"
"That's, of course, to make a plan for the sparring performance in the upcoming school festival. Only when we know each other's capabilities can we cooperate without injury."
It seemed Noah didn't even know the basics. Did she have to explain the concept of the sparring performance?
"So, in the end, don't we just have to show our abilities to the fullest and not get hurt?"
"Yes. So hurry up and explain your abilities. We don't have much time to practice."
However, Noah answered with a look as if he didn't understand.
"Hmm? Then, why do we need to do such a cumbersome thing as practice?"
"What does that mean? If you're not interested in attending the school festival now..."
"No. It's not that. It's just that everyone should attack me at once and I stop them, that's all."
"There's no one here at the institute who can hurt me anyway."
Noah said, smiling brightly.
* * * * * * * * * *
"Your application for use has been approved. You can train freely for the next 3 hours."
Training facilities set up at the institute. It was a kind of imaginary space created at the expense of a large budget.
In such a virtual world, Shirahui and other members of Blazing Noah had entered.
On one side was a magic circle control panel that controlled the environment of the facility, and on the other side, their biological signals were displayed as their bodies laid quietly outside side by side.
There was no tension in Noah's appearance as he looked at the scenery of the imaginary space with fascination.
I didn't expect him to really go through with this...
Shirahui had wondered for a moment if Noah was bluffing, but from the look on his face, it seemed he really didn't feel any threat.
Is he relieved because this is an imaginary space?
However, that was obviously the wrong idea.
Even though this was a separate space from reality, the injuries suffered here wasn't just a lie.
If the body was cut, there would be phantom pain even if they went back to their original body. And, there were even severe cases of being unable to move the affected area.
And worst of all, the mind will cease to exist and the body left outside will become a vegetative state if you were to die inside.
For that reason, when training here, a lot of caution was required as if it was an actual battle.
Despite being clear about the facts before coming in, Noah spoke with a smile.
"That's great. I don't have to worry about controlling my strength here."
A tone of indifference as if he didn't think anyone could even put a scratch on him. It was typical of those who were drunk on power.
After receiving an undeserved evaluation, he really thinks he had done it with his own strength.
She naturally admits that Noah was very outstanding compared to his peers, but she knew better than anyone else that he wasn't as powerful as the media or the world made him out to be.
In the first hotel incident where he stood out, he was accompanied by a former B-Rank hero. As for the special qualification of achieving A-Rank in the Hero Exam, the Hero Association had mistook him for dead, so they had just posthumus given it to him to placate the public sentiment.
She also knew that the Ilsan Lake Park incident needed a bait to bring out Eighth Layer Hell.
And...the same goes for the Hong Kong incident.
Hong Kong, which wanted to be independent from China’s influence, had used it as a means to show that they didn’t need China’s S-Rank hero support. And although the media had been busy hailing Noah as a hero who had saved the world, many heroes including herself who had seen the video had slightly different ideas.
It was just mere luck.
She didn't know what happened in the middle, but Noah had already been eaten by the so-called dragon.
There was no one in the world who would deliberately crawl into the belly of a monster. Which meant he was already defeated by it up until that point.
But as if God had helped him, his ability to magnify objects had only served as a perfect counter in such a situation.
He's a hero on par with father? That's laughable!
To reach S-Rank, to escape the human limit and become an absolute existence.
Her father's ability she had seen was far from that level of rubbish.
His strength was nothing less of a natural disaster.
But the reporters don't even know that and they're talking as they please!
When she took out the media bubble and thought about it objectively, she guessed that Noah's level was at the top of the B-Rank. However, if she was being generous, it was at the early A-Rank.
Noah's exaggerated performance was nothing but due to various political intentions.
So if all of us here really come at him, I'm sure Choi Noah will get hurt.
She didn't want that either.
Although she wanted to lower him, who was full of misled pride, down a peg, she didn't want to be so hard on him.
"If you apologize to your teammates now and take back what you just said, I'll let it all go."
Shirahui showed patience and gave Noah a chance. However, with an expression of annoyance, he replied.
"Noona, stop asking. Why do you keep making me repeat the same thing?"
In the end, the handful of conscience Shirahui had left vanished the moment she heard him.
She spoke coldly.
"...You'll have to take responsibility for what you said."
"Oh, I got it, so let's get started."
The choice was made by himself. Now no matter what happens, it really wasn't her fault.
With that thought, she told the others.
"Since he said so...Do the plan as we discussed earlier."
"Okay! Then I'll fall back!"
Saki, who had an ability that could hurt allies, fell into a corner while the remaining four people stood looking at Noah.
There was a desolate silence that didn't fit the background of a large city.
After a moment,
"I wanted to have a proper fight with you again even if it wasn't for this. Please give me pointers!"
To start off was Yeom Gangjun. Pure flames rose from his arms.
"I haven't been idling my time since then."
And in almost no time, the flames that had climbed up both arms took the shape of a burning dragon.
As if Yeom Gangjun had really believed what Choi Noah had said, he went on the offense with all his might.
"Receive the fruits of my training...Double Dragon Fists!"
And with a somewhat embarrassing skill name, he stepped forward.
At the same time, two flame dragons shot out of his fists and opened their mouths.
But despite the attack, Noah had a nonchalant look on his face.
Flames that seemed to swallow everything hit Noah. And at that moment,
The burning flames were sucked into somewhere in an instant.
As if everything that had just happened was a dream, there wasn't even a trace of heat left.
Instead, in its place was the running figure of Yeom Gangjun covered in flames.
"This is the real one! Fire Fist!"
Highly compressed flames were blazing on one of his hands.
The punch that contained his full power aimed for Noah's face.
As if two trucks had collided, a sound that was hard to imagine to have come from a physical collision resonated.
"Haha...Maybe it's because my durability has improved this time, but this is comfortable."
Noah stood there looking fine.
Then, he grabbed Yeom Gangjun by the wrist and threw him to one side.
A deafening roar incomparable to before.
Yeom Gangjun, who flew like a cannonball, penetrated the buildings and completely disappeared from view.
"Ah...Should I have used even less strength? Don't tell me he died?"
At the murmur of Noah, the corner of Shirahui's eye twitched.
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