Chapter 1: Zero-Day Patch
Uraraka Ochako rushed up the front steps of UA, heart thumping in her chest.
‘Today is the day! The first step! All I have to do is pass the entrance exam. I can do this. I know it!’
Pumping herself up, she jogged down the path to the building, her eyes flashing over the people who were walking with her. From attention-grabbing blonde spikes, to pink skin, and even a towering teen with six arms.
And then her eyes passed over him and something deep in her skull tingled, a warning. Instinct, flickering on and making her notice the teen walking ahead of her.
He looked almost fragile. Short, thin, and most of his form hidden by a dark tan jacket with a fake fur collar that reached halfway up his cheeks, revealing only the barest smattering of freckles. He had earbuds in, his loosely spiked green hair falling to cover the rest of his face from the cheekbones up. Aside from the loose black slacks, and tan jacket, the only thing visible about him was the long boxy case slung over his shoulder. Likely tools or gear for the physical exam; if she was right, they were allowed if built by the applicant.
Beyond that was something about his stance. He moved with a weird silent grace, his steps surefooted. There was a tension to his frame, though.
As she jogged by his eye darted her way, deep fathomless green and black focusing on her, before flicking back forwards.
She wondered why she felt like she was being acknowledged, and then dismissed.
Breaking free from her thoughts, she passed the teen, hearing the faint bassbeat of his music as she passed within reaching distance.
‘Why did he look familiar…. Dammit, I can worry later. Exam now!’
“No built-in cheat of a Quirk, no hero here to save you, and a drive to be somebody. Oh, you will work wonderfully.”
“What? Sir… Who are you?”
“Heh, kid. Because the world isn't ready, and I'm tired of waiting. I want to see it. The end of all my work.”
“What is it!? What do you want from me!?”
“I want you to become a survivor. I want you to win.”
Tenya breathed deeply and slowly as he listens to Present Mic explain. However, he was interrupted from his thoughts by a very faint almost imperceptible sound from the side of the room. A slow repetitive sound. A rasp, metal on stone, he believed.
It took a few seconds for him to identify it, but when he did he frowned. A figure to the side, sitting on the very end of the very back row, a blade and sheath half-drawn in his lab, though the shape was too far and too awkwardly angled to make out. At the very least he could say it wasn't a katana. A ring with a flat stone plane sliding over its edge. If not for his acute hearing, he may have even missed it under Present Mic’s voice. And if he could hear it, he guaranteed that most of the other people near the teen would also hear it, possibly drowning out the Instructions! What a diabolical plan to get a one up over the competition! In fact, Mic’s words offered another question!
He stood up and offered his insight to the examiners.
“May I ask a question!? There appear to be no fewer than four varieties of faux villains on this handout! Such a blatant error, if it is one, is highly unbecoming for U.A., Japan's Top Academy! We are here to be molded into model heroes after all!” And then he turned his attention.
“And you, with the sword! Do you think this is a game!? Your maintenance is distracting and should have been done earlier!”
Cool sharp eyes looked up from under limp black and green hair, and the blade in his hand was closed with a smooth rasp of leather and wood on metal. “Apologies. It's a nervous tick of mine. I’ll refrain.” the words were soft and calm, but clear and easy to hear.
Accepting such a reason, Tenya focused back on the examiner, as the 0-pointer was revealed and explained.
For some reason, he couldn’t help but feel cool sweat along his spine, as if he had just had a close encounter with something dangerous.
Later, as he readied for the exam, he couldn't help but seek out the green haired teen.
It took several moments, but there, in the shadow of the wall next to the gateway, stood the teen. His jacket was unzipped, revealing a tight black shirt, laced with what looked almost like rips made of metal. Hanging from it was black straps leading deeper into his jacket, where a myriad of shapes was hidden under the loose form.
And at his side, was the sword. It was clearer now, the long fairly wide blade, and the wide blocky crossguard.
Iida considered confronting the teen once more, berating him for off putting the other exam applicants with his demeanor, when the shout of “GO” from Present Mic grabbed his attention.
By the time Mic had finished yelling about how there were no countdowns in real life, the teen with green hair was gone.
And a downed 1 pointer rested in the street past the gates, far ahead of the rest of the examinees rushing that way.
“It’s quite simple. There are 9 games I’ve loaded into the simulation, each one designed to teach you skills and force you to think… creatively.”
“Complete every game, and you get to leave.”
“And the world will get to see exactly how effective my designs are.”
Aoyama grunted as he fired once more, another robot shattering under the force of his laser.
It had to be the tenth or so, most of them the higher value 2 and 3 pointers; and he still had plenty of time.
However, as he jogged forwards to search for a new target, he heard the whine of engines and turned a corner, to see a pair of 3-pointers charging the same green teen who had been singled out during the explanations.
He stood, sword held in his right hand as the two robots closed in. Taking a deep breath, Aoyama began to ready his laser once more before the teens left hand raised, and two shots rang out, the sound of gunfire startling the French teen.
He barely had time to register the matte black gun in the teen’s left hand, held back and away from the 3 pointers charging him, and instead at the bot that had been flanking him, which was now smoking from a cracked lens in its ‘face’ and leaking oil from a hole punched through its chassis.
As the other robot grew closer, the gun was swiftly holstered, vanishing in the depths of the tan jacket, and the green haired teen stepped forwards.
A swinging robot fist, fast and strong enough to crush through cars and buildings, but missing green hair by over a foot. The teenager had stepped in closer than the fist was passing and brought his blade up and around, left hand supporting the right through its motions, moving faster than Aoyama could trace.
As he did, the gears and wiring of one shoulder flashed with sparks, wiring severed before he lunged up and off the knee of the robot. The blade pierced through the neck of the beast, through cables and wires, and was torn to the side, leaving the robot to twitch before slumping, disabled.
In all, both take-outs took less than ten seconds from start to finish. Aoyama had barely had time to gather his nerves from the sound of the gunshots before it was over.
Green eyes met blue, and the mysterious green-haired teenager pivoted and leapt down from the bot, before heading further away.
“Perhaps I should hunt down some less… contested points. Yes, that will be for the best.”
Aoyama took a turn away from the young man with a sword, focusing back on his own task.
“Is that the kid.” A tall man wearing loose dark clothes watched the screens, glancing down at the suited animal next to him. “The simulation survivor.”
“It is. His application was quite interesting, I must say. Particularly when you consider his absence from schooling for the last year. The fact he managed to pass the practice exams sent to him is remarkable.”
“Hmmm. He’s skilled. What about his mind.”
“There lie the problems. Isolation. Trauma. Stress and anxiety are all through the roof. But… he does seem to have a handle on it. Coping mechanisms and an understanding of his own triggers to a frankly wonderful degree.”
“Hmmph. Send in the 0-pointer. I want to see how he reacts.”
A button pressed, and the rumble of the robot moving echoed through the observation room.
Aizawa kept his focus on the green haired teen.
‘ Show me your potential, Izuku Midoriya.’
Uraraka gasped, dropping the robots around her, and panting from exertion and fighting off a wave as nausea.
She began to advance, running deeper into the city, before the ground rumbled.
“Wh-” She glanced up eyes widening as she took in the massive form of the robot that was grasping the building.
In fact, she was so distracted she didn’t see the falling debris about to bury her.
But then a hand grasped her shoulder, and she felt herself get pulled. She recognized it as something almost like a judo flip, dry and sure hands gripping her arm and shoulder as she was pulled back and swung around from the collapsing building. She left the ground just as the impact of debris shook her out of her stupor, but by the time she was about to say something she was on the ground over three meters away from the impact, having been sent sliding across the street.
“Hey. You can nullify gravity, right?”
That voice was calm and smooth, and she glanced to see the teen she had noted on the way in. he stood, arm still holding her back behind him as he focused on the massive robot tearing through the area. His sword was sheathed at his side, and he was rummaging inside his jacket for something with his other hand.
“That thing’s gonna cause more problems and damage than leaving it solves. I need to either stop its movements or kill it. Mind using your quirk on me for a minute?” he glanced back over his shoulder, eyes gleaming with intent.
“Uh, yeah. Here!” she tapped his arm, and suddenly she could feel the faint lift of pressure from his grip on her shoulder, fighting back the surge of nausea that it sent through her.
“Thanks. Hold it for about 30 seconds if you can. Sorta want to land after this.”
And then he was gone, leaping up at an angle and, surprisingly given how hard she knew that sort of control in zero-gravity was, landing in a window frame several floors up across the street, and then leaping from there to the opposite side of the the damaged building the 0-pointer was crashing through.
She lost sight of him, the robot already moving and causing more damage to the street, kicking up dust and smoke from its actions. Any other applicant nearby had long since vanished from the scene, and with nausea racking through her skull, she could barely stand straight as she jogged away from the robot, before grabbing a nearby car for balance. Glancing around. she tried to find the teen so she could let him down from whatever he was doing—wait, was he on the robot's shoulder?
Standing braced to the neck of the 0-pointer, he was shoulder deep in what looked like a maintenance panel, sparks flying as he sabotaged it. Yanking back, he came away with a length of cable wrapped around his arm, and the robot began to shudder, sparks shooting from several joints as it seized up and shifted awkwardly, one arm suddenly falling limp and dragging the robot across the intersection away from her as it swung its head back and forth.
Worried, she focused on the teen to see him swinging around from the top of the head, anchored by the cord in his left hand, while a long blocky shape was pulled from under his large jacket with his right, two straps showing it had clearly been cinched tight to his frame under the concealing outfit.
But the profile was unmistakable.
Grabbing the frame of the 0-pointers ‘face’ the green haired teen swung around, and landed, feet braced and wide, as the double-barreled shotgun in his hand was leveled dead center with the largest of the lenses adorning the robots head.
In the sudden silence, the world quieting as things seemed to slow.
The teen said one thing.
And then the roar of the shotgun blast and shattering glass echoed through the intersection.
And then the back of the robot began to spark, and smoke billowed out of it.
“What the actual fuck,” Ochako whispered, watching the teen leap from the robot even as it collapsed, limbs losing energy as it slumped, the green hair teen sliding the shotgun into his jacket with comfort even under the effects of Zero Gravity, spinning as he coasted away from the now seizure-ridden robot.
Remembering that she was the one doing that, she clapped her hands, the teen dropping the last half foot and shaking out his left arm. He paced his way towards her and held out a hand. Face softened slightly, and an air of contentment around him.
“Thanks for the assist. Name’s Midoriya, Midoriya Izuku.”
Suddenly it clicked. She knew
who this was.
“Uraraka Ochako…. Are you the simulation guy?” she panted, trying to fight back rising nausea.
Smirking, he slid his hands in his pockets, as behind him the 0-pointer tilted over, crashing to the ground.
“I might be.”
And then she puked on his boots.
Day 1. Hour 2:12:11
Izuku gasped as he shot up from the white sheets, hand coming up to his neck.
Flashes of memory filled him. A needle, manic blue eyes, the underpass, the rough grip of latex around his neck.
Instead of the comforting room he was used to, with its colorful posters and hero worship clear, this room was… brutal in its simplicity. The bed was larger than he was used to, with a dark grey comforter and white sheets and pillows. The walls of the room were sheer concrete and lit by bars of a recessed white light. A desk was to his left and, halfway across the floor, grey carpet from under the bed gave way to white, square tile.
An open doorway to the far right led into an open space with a tiled wall, and across from the bed on the far wall was what looked like a closet, with curved metal panels acting as doors.
Finally, was a metal door to his left.
Speaking of, he glanced down to see that somehow he was dressed in black loose slacks and a white t-shirt with a green stripe from the collar down over the heart to the waist.
Scrambling, he got out of bed and moved to glance in the tiled room, revealing a bathroom with a shower, before darting to the closed door and looking at it. To his side was an green button. Tentatively, he pressed it, only for the door to open.
Before him, a large high ceilinged area stretched out.
‘Brutalist’ was his first thought. Large pale concrete expanses for walls and floors. With a glass floor over complex computer electronics in the center, around a raised podium with a reclined seat on it.
The far walls were a massive bank of windows, with a pale white glare filtering through the glass that blocked out any view past it, leaving only the faintest shape of buildings and streets out beyond the room. However, in the center of that wall, the room extended out into what looked like an office area. Desk, laptop, and high backed chair.
“Where am I?”
On the desk, a ringing began.
Suddenly Izuku felt nervous. This was… creepy. He glanced around and tried to find another way out, but besides an opening leading to a kitchen area, a glass conference table with a series of chairs around it, and several scattered white couches.
‘ What would All Might do?’
Taking a deep breath, he turned and tried to march for the desk, though the clash of his stern march with his short and thin stature was… comical, to say the least.
He looked for the phone, only to see the screen of the computer flashing with an ‘Incoming Call’ logo.
Tapping enter, the screen went black, before snapping on to show the caller.
Long red hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and skin shallow and pale stretched around thick black rimmed glasses.
“Hello, Mister Midoriya. Pleasure to see you’ve awakened.”
“Wh-Where am I! Why am I here! What is going on!” Izuku shouted, voice cracking from stress.
Lips parted to reveal straight white teeth. “Well, that's quite simple. You are currently inside a computer. Not just any computer either, no… this is a high tech prototype. The first, and possibly only of its time. I call it the Simulation Drive. Your body has been turned to data, and you have been uploaded into the drive. What you see is a complex rendering of a location. In reality, you are in a computer.”
Izuku froze, ‘ in a computer’ he blinked and the words just… didn’t make sense. There were plenty of stories—fiction—about such a thing, but for it to happen, in real life? It was too absurd, even with quirks!
“See, my dream for three decades now has been to create a way to enter a digital world. I’ve researched and designed and tested for quite some time… and just as my prototype came to completion, I was fired. My research was taken, locked away… but I managed to keep the prototype. I’ve been testing it, but I keep running into a problem, you see.”
Izuku wanted to scream, to shout. But the words just kept bouncing inside his skull as he stared at the screen in horror.
“Quirks. The power of the people… break the simulation. They are unpredictable, untracked variables. The simulation can’t keep up with them. Not quite. So I needed a new target, a new tester… someone quirkless….
Someone with a dream.
See, I've heard of your dilemma. You wish to be a hero… Well, I offer you the greatest training possible. The simulation has 9 ‘games’. Classics from early in the millennia that the system has revamped and used to form its own simulated tests and environments. All you have to do to leave… is complete all 9 games. Each has its own lessons… it's own changes and challenges. But fear not, the world is on your side. As you run through the games... As the simulations play out around you, the world can watch you perform. And who knows, you may even end up with some very useful advice…”
Izuku felt himself go limp, and crashed to the chair heavily, bouncing gently off its springs as he tried to process.
“Now I must leave you. I’ll be watching.” the glasses came off to reveal pale blue eyes. “Good Luck, have fun!”
The screen turned back, and Izuku stared at it before he spoke.
“But I suck at video games.”
Chapter 2: Loading
the simulation begins in earnest, while the survivor focuses on the future.
Inko looked up as the door clicked and opened smoothly. Her heart jumped at the sight of her son, even as part of her ached at what he had to deal with. She heard the screams at night, had seen the flinching early in the morning before he had fully awaken. Beyond that…
“Ah, have you eaten?” she asked, even as Izuku’s eyes tracked through the room and he relaxed ever so slightly, sliding the tall case from his shoulder, but still holding it with a tight hand.
“...Not really. Sorry Ma.” and he really did look sorry. More than that, he looked disappointed in himself. She could almost read his mind as his shoulders slumped, that familiar air of self-disgust.
“None of that attitude!” she reached up and rubbed a hand across his cheek. Still startled by the fact that her son, who had barely reached her height before the simulation, was now several inches taller than her. Like she expected, angry tears welled beneath her thumb. “So you didn’t eat. Did you sleep well? How was the exam?”
He smiled. “I… Slept. A few hours. The exam was… Strange. Familiar.” he looked down, eyes closed. “It felt like I was back there… and it was… easy, to slip back into the the mindset.” he murmured, and Inko felt her heart break.
His therapist had approved him joining UA. it was, after all, prepared to help people cope with the same things her beautiful, dangerous, broken son dealt with. Trauma. Guilt. Stress.
Things that the general public would villainize him for.
Inko was many things, but ignorant of her son's experience was not one of them. She had forced herself to watch… to understand.
Izuku’s habits. His reflexes and skills and instincts had been changed. The slightest triggers, the most vague of warnings. He worked on overdrive.
His doctors referred to it as if he had reverted to a primal state of mind.
In a way, he had. He’d been forced to begin with the very basics. To build off of the most fundamental ideas. Of action, reaction, and focus.
Pulling slightly at her son's head, she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“I’ll go put some tea and dinner on. Do what you need to while I do.” she stepped away, and Izuku wandered to the living room table, setting his case down and opening it while she moved away from the scene.
Even from the kitchen, she could hear the click and rasp of metal being disassembled.
Then the faint rustle of cloth over metal.
She didn’t like the fact her son was armed. That he had a gun, purchased and approved with UA’s entrance exam. Both she and UA had been clear. Unless he was actively on patrol or in UA testing grounds, his gun was filled with non-lethal options. From the bean bag rounds for his shotgun, to the custom clips of rubber bullets he had in his handgun.
As the clicking resumed, she waited as the tea boiled before her.
And then the whetstone came out.
And Izuku began to sing.
She knew it was a side effect of the ambiance in which he learned his blade. Of long hours and days under smoke filled and dead skies, of camping in sewers and sitting around bonfires while the demons of the night came and went.
Izuku’s song was wordless. There was no language in his actions. No word or story.
Instead it was a haunting melody of deep echoing breaths, and sharp syllabistic hissing. He had explained, the first time she heard it, that it was a counterpoint to the background music of the 9th game. A way to meet the melody and draw out the monsters he stalked.
A way to keep time and control his breathing in the flow of combat.
As the tea steeped, she could only listen with tears as her child sung.
Simulation: Hour 3:11:12
Izuku sat and stared at what the instructions on the computer called the Simulation chair, the blue and white of its design doing nothing to keep the aura of menace it extruded from him.
“I… I have to. Right? No. I should wait, let the heroes respond and come for me… but what if they don’t…”
The muttering filled the room, Izuku’s eyes locked on the chair as he focused.
Finally, he breathed deep, and pushed off the white chair he was perched on and slowly walked to the simulation chair.
Breathing deep, he shifted and lay on it, his small form perfectly conforming to the curve of the seat.
As he lay back, a clear white circular visor slid out and around his head, before starting. Nine labels appeared before him, but all but one was blank.
“What is…. Slender?”
The word left his lips, and the world turned white.
When it faded back in, he stood in a forest, the trees reaching up and into the dark sky. Izuku was sitting, with a flashlight on his lap.
Before him, a white screen with black text appeared.
Collect 100 Pages, Before The Slenderman catches you.
For a moment Izuku could only stare in confusion, before a deep staticy hiss began to echo from the forest. He could hear it, a faint almost imperceptible hiss that slowly grew louder as the menu shrunk. A beep from his wrist drew his attention, a watch he didn’t previously have displaying a counter of time- 0:00:21- and pages- 0/100. As he watched the time tick on, he looked up at the darkness around him. And then the hissing sound grew louder.
He turned, looking through the trees around him for some hint of a path or direction. As he looked behind him, he blinked, and there, in the distance, a spot of pale color in the night. He squinted, focusing as he tried to take it in… it was a person? He blinked, and suddenly, far closer than it was, the shape had moved. Here he could see more.
A head, pale and blank…. A black suit… and long misshapen limbs…
The static moved louder, and Izuku flinched, only to see the figure had closed almost a third of the distance, and that now he could make out the way the form shifted and flickered as he focused on it.
Turning, Izuku took off through the woods at a sprint.
As the static faded in and out, his panic only grew.
“Do you have your badge? Handkerchief? Tissues? Notebooks?” Inko worried her hands and glanced around even as Izuku looked up, a black single strap courier bag on the table as he slid the last few bits of gear away.
“Ma… I got it.” he called out, giving a soft, if strained, smile.
He had been preparing for over a week, ever since his acceptance letter had arrived.
“Congratulations! You have passed the UA entrance exam with flying colors”
Izuku lowered the gun, breathing deeply and lifting the gun up in an effort to calm himself as the holographic image of a small mammal in a suit paused, before continuing its speech.
“Your exceptional combat skills, as well as your initiative and awareness in saving a fellow student and taking out a massive local threat, means you pass with the second highest score of this years examinees!”
A screen appeared, names and numbers denoting scores scrolling down.
He focused on the first two though.
‘Katsuki Bakugo: 77 VIllain Points, 0 Rescue Points’
‘Midoriya Izuku: 54 Villain Points, 20 Rescue Points’
“Now, I know of your recent experiences and trials, particularly of this last year, and would like to assure you. We at UA are ready and willing to help you any way we must. But you must come to us if you have issues. We also remind you that part of your admittance is that you must speak to a registered and approved therapist. Please come in a day early for us to finalize details as we go.”
Izuku nodded absently, already pulling a pen and noting that down on the cluttered desk of notes and reminders.
“With that out of the way, I would like to welcome you to UA.”
“This is your Hero Academia .”
Izuku blinked, dismissing the memory. Shrugging the bag up and over his back, it fit snugly against and around the white sword bag tied with a red and gold Fusahimo. The emblem of a yellow sun with reaching red beams was painted painstakingly across the center of the bag. A recognition of the NPC who originally taught Izuku the basics of swordplay.
At the thought, an image flashed to mind. White tunic and steel, flashing in the weak light of a dying sun.
Pushing it away, he tightened his bag to keep it from moving and headed for the door.
“I… I’m proud of you. You know. For coming back to me… after everything.”
Izuku felt his heart clench.
“I know… It's hard. That you aren’t the same. But I am so, so proud of you. I know, that you will be an amazing hero.”
Izuku hand steady, opened the door.
Twin tear tracks traced down his cheeks, but he made not a sound, as he left the apartment.
He was at the base of the stairs soon enough, exiting onto the street and looking up at the bright and lively sun.
His eyes were dry.
He heaved a sigh and set his shoulders, hands pulling his earbuds from his pockets even as his eyes focused ahead of him. Looking up, his thoughts wandered back to the examiner from the entrance exam.
“Plus Ultra… I can get behind that.”
In his eyes, an old spark flickered.
Bakugou leaned against the wall on a cold street corner, one hand in his pocket and scarf around his neck. On his phone, was a video. Just one part of a story among many. He had headed out from the house to get away from his nag of a mother for a few hours.
He tapped play.
Green eyes and hair filled the center of the screen, hands up with a handgun in one and a flashlight in the other. Sure and steady steps, a flash of light playing over ornate wallpaper and crown molding even in his gun slowly waved back and forth around the room.
To the side of the image, the scrawl of the chat, live at the time of the video recording, showed plenty of comments about being careful, or that the ‘character’ needed to get a move on.
A whistle, and a shambling step signaled a new figure. Black slacks and a once white shirt, now stained with blood and pus, leaned around the corner, half dead eyes looking up past a white film as they tracked to the teens light, the pupils not even twitching as the light met them.
Two bangs rang out, an eye vanishing in an explosion of gore, even as the mouth did the same. Black and red flesh blew across the wall behind it, the corpse collapsing to the ground slowly.
The green haired figure moved closer and stomped down, smashing the neck into paste with repeated kicks and solid boots even as the beam light danced around the room, the teen on high alert.
As the head separated from the body, he stopped, and glanced around. Green eyes caught the light with a manic glint, visible even through the screen as they stared out from a face covered with flecks of blood.
“I really hate this fucking mansion.”
Breathing deep, Bakugou paused the video there and closed the fullscreen, a flash of the video’s title coming up.
“The Simulation: Game 7.
Recorded Live: October 6th.”
Katsuki breathed out, as the phone was slid away.
“Nine months and change…. What did you become nerd.”
Chapter 3: Autosave is On
So. Do you know those tags on this fic? the ones about horror and gore?
Consider this a reminder.
Simulation: Hour 3:43:27
“Shit, shit, shit, shit!” Izuku chanted as he booked it, the fourth page already fading away in flakes of white dust in his hand as static once more filled his ears, deafening him. He kept catching glances, bits and pieces from the corner of his vision, a pale face flickering in the moonlight of the trees.
Suddenly, he tripped.
A root was raised, just high enough to catch his ankle, and a flash of sharp hot pain shot through him as he crashed into the ground, the flashlight bouncing and skittering away.
He gasped in pain, his ankle feeling wrong.
He groaned and shifted, trying to stand, only to scream in pain and collapse, tears welling in his eyes as the fire in his nerves took his breath away, leaving him gasping and shuddering. Fighting to lift his torso up so he was leaning against a tree, he glanced at his ankle.
In the pale moonlight, he could see pale, glistening blood and white bone.
Izuku was… not fond of cars.
Trains were better. The rhythm, the control. They were on a rail, the path clear by default, and usually had a simple, if unorthodox, exit.
Cars were loud, chaotic, and driven by people who seemed perfectly ignorant of how bad they drove. And getting out was far more of a hassle, ‘cause there were other cars to deal with.
Hiking his jackets lapels higher, he breathed through the faux fur of the collar and shook his head.
A hand in his pocket traced the familiar shape of his phone, tapping the subtle buttons on the side, and the music in his ears loudened. He had been working his way through years of music, going backwards in genre and release dates during his time in the simulation, and taking deep joy in finding his prefered tunes. Deep guitar and drums. Things with passion, with rage, with defiance... Things he could relate to. From early millenium punk rock, through the neo-pop-punk of the early 2100’s to the revival of classic death and hair metal that ran through America and parts of Japan just a few decades ago.
The music was also probably one of the only reasons he passed his English comprehension exam to get in UA, since he didn’t get much help with talking in the simulation. All the other NPC and mobs spoke Japanese, despite the locations of several of the games.
Sighing softly, not that it was audible or visible behind the high collar of his cloak and the unmoving set of his shoulders as he leaned in the corner of the traincar, he let the music flow through him.
“I'm gonna fight 'em all. A seven nation army couldn't hold me back,”
He let his eyes flutter half closed. Trying to block out just how painfully aware of the world he still was.
“ They're gonna rip it off. Taking their time right behind my back,”
There, three rows behind him, the girl with vines for hair was biting her lip, and he could hear the faint hiss of a muttered prayer as she scowled at her phone. She had a haptic feedback option on, the faint beep and hum of her button presses audible. It was harder to not instantly process what she was typing. That would be rude.
“ And I'm talking to myself at night, because I can't forget,”
The three businessmen standing near the doors are talking finances. They work together, and are friends… but one of them is nervous. A tick of tapping his fingers on his suitcase latch.
Cheating? Flustered? Izuku shoved the thoughts away before they could confirm themselves, breathing deep as he tried to focus on the music.
“Back and forth through my mind, behind a cigarette,”
Izuku’s eyes met with that of the blonde teen sitting sprawled out on the far side of the car. The black streaks in the shape of a lighting bolt were a give away, as was the faint feel of static electricity on the air. Natural, complementary mutation related to quirk. Electric user… recognizes me.
“And the message coming from my eyes,”
The door rings, this stop is one too soon, but he can walk and he was early anyway.
He’s out the door in three seconds flat, the faint sound of the teen scrambling slightly behind him.
By the time the other teen reaches the door and looks out, the green haired survivor was long gone.
“Says leave it alone.”
Simulation: Hour 3:50:27
Izuku screamed again as he tried to reach down and push his bone back into place, eyes flashing white and black from the pain surging through him.
When he opened his eyes, he couldn’t hear his screams.
All he could hear was static, as the featureless pale face leaned over him, see the sharp black suit underneath, the unrealistically tall proportions.
And then suddenly the face wasn’t a smooth white plane.
Its pale skin, once marble smooth, began to writhe and distend, long rigid shapes pushing and twisting before its white facade began to rip and tear, carving pitch black and bright bloody red lines. Long lines stretching like loose stitching, revealing teeth and eyes and TEETH
SO MUch PAin
Teeth in flesh, in the throat even as thick and ice cold tendrils circles limbs and began to pull… Bone cracking with fireworks and explosions of pain that wiped away thought and action and left only the static fire of agony.
And then the world faded away, and he knew nothing mor–
Run Terminated by User Death,
Resetting avatar to safe room.
Izuku woke up screaming.
The gates of UA stood open and, fingering the thin white and blue card in his pocket, Izuku crossed it, his senses slowly shifting and pinging off his surroundings. It’s quieter than the street behind him, only a sparse half dozen people in his range of awareness. Most of them are students, sitting and conversing in shade of the trees or lounging in the courtyard of the building.
Walking up to the gleaming gateway of UA, he reaches down and lowers the volume of his earbuds once more, running fingers through his bangs as he slouches, minimizing his profile as he paces up the steps of the front door of UA.
A glance at a nearby evacuation map as he passes the corner all but burns the layout of the building into his mind,and instead of talking to the secretary at the front desk, he turns and follows his deep seated understanding, the faint draw to an objective he knew so well.
‘Nedzu: the headmaster. Office should be near the teacher’s lounge, upper floor. Best angle over the outer wall…’
It’s a matter of minutes for him to follow the draw. A sign pointing to the teachers lounge, an elevator with a card scanner and a “teachers only” sign. The mental map of where the high ground is.
He steps out on the top floor of the wing and walks towards the front of the building, eyes catching on the dark hair and red glasses of someone walking his way, her face mostly hidden behind a stack of papers but the costume distinctive all the same..
‘ Midnight. 18+ heroine. AOE knockout. Distance is key. Gas is skin-originated. Abuse pres– NO. Hero. Not enemy. Relax. Focus past her.’
Izuku focused past her and down the hall, watching as the tension left and the world seemed to click back into motion as he finished his assessment.
He made it past her and blinked at the faint smell… sweet, almost like candy or sugar, but not the acrid burnt sugar smell of nitroglycerine that comes from Bakugou. The residue of the gas maybe? Something to consider.
He finally came to a stop at the door he was looking for. The ‘Principal Nedzu’ name plate confirming his intuition, and giving impetus to a twitched lip. Something that might be a smirk, if it was exaggerated a bit more.
Letting the emotion fade back under his shell, he reached up and knocked.
Nedzu sipped at his tea as he watched the green haired teen navigate the building, seemingly on instinct and vague guesses. The alert he had programmed to let him know when the young and recognizable form of Midoriya Izuku passed the gate with his ID card had gone off, the camera's focusing on the green haired teen walking to the building with a calm and even gait.
More interesting, was how the teen acted inside the building. Beyond a quick glance, the teen didn’t even bother with the secretary, opting to wander himself. Signs of a lack of trust in authority, perhaps?
The only time that Midoriya-san’s relaxed state was broken was in the hallway outside Nedzu’s office. When he passed by Midnight, Nedzu had watched in interest as muscles had tensed, and empty eyes locked on the overburdened hero, the lines of his back and shoulders shifting to show readiness, before slowly unclenching as they passed.
“Interesting. Something in you recognized the danger of Midnight in a fight, even if you weren’t planning to fight her. An instinctive response to strength and skill? Was it something about her that set it off? How curious,” Nedzu remarked even as he began to tidy up, a new pot for tea being set on the heater as he closed out his surveillance app.
A knock rang out from the door.
“Come in, Mister Midoriya.”
The door swung open, and Midoriya walked in, one hand tucked into the jacket and the other hanging loosely at his side.
“Principal Nedzu?” he asked, though he softened his intonation of the question. They both knew who each other was.
Simulation: Hour 4:23:20
Death count: 1
Izuku shuddered once more, sitting half naked in the bright utilitarian shower, the water above him– “Fake, its all fake” –pouring down steaming hot, the heat pulsing through his skin – “Torn, ripped and shredded and oh god it hurt!”– as he shivered and clutched tightly at unmarred flesh.
The word… so innocent, so uninteresting.
Now it felt like poison in his mind, on his tongue, curling around his limbs and lungs and up his spine. Pale fingers pressing tight and digging into his muscles with terrifying force.
It had felt so real.
As he sat there, the sound of a click made him look up, the sound striking a chord of memory, the echo of school announcements and the soft static of an intercom.
“Oh, poor number nine. Look at you! Look at that face, that FEAR! Oh you are wonderful… a perfect experiment.”
The chill deepened, but something in Izuku… shifted. Slightly. Barely coming into alignment.
“I can’t wait to see you break and forge into your perfect self.”
Loosely clenched hands began to tighten, nails digging into the flesh of his palms, “–...break…?”
“But sadly, you can’t seem to wake up, to get moving… and while I would love to walk you through it's time for little boys to grow up! So here's your choice, you either resume your attempts at the simulation… or I stop sending you back to this nice little break area when you die. You have two hours to decide~!”
Fear began to make him shake, the fear of death, an endless undying existence was never something he considered, but now it paralyzed him except for the shaking uncontrollably shivering that he felt.
“And of course… if all else fails, I always track down and test your mother.”
The shivering stopped cold.
A click, then silence. For one minute. Two. five. Ten. And then, slowly, the shape shifted.
A hand, knuckles pale and dripping red running out from shallow gouges across its palm, reached out from the waterlogged mass that was huddled still and silent. From under plastered dark green hair that shimmered like oil on water, two eyes gleamed out, filled not with anything as ethereal as hope, or joy.
These eyes held, for the first time in his young life, hate.
True unfiltered hate.
Prove him wrong.
Silently, he rose from the shower, hands reaching up and peeling his soaked clothes off as he strode unsteadily towards the closet, grabbing a towel as he began to roughly scrub the water from his form.
Take everything he has ever made.
He had never realized how heavy hate could be. It wasn’t that clenched-tight fear that wrapped his bones. It wasn’t the deep chill of a death reversed that had clung to his lungs and pulse.
Take his dream.
No, this was a heavy, hot weight.
Take his mind.
It slid down his throat, taking his words with it.
It settled in his gut, sinking into his stomach and heart with a deep heavy hum.
AND BURN IT TO THE GROUND.
A snarl, something animalistic, something goddamn primal exploded from his throat.
Hands shoved in the closet and searched through clothes as part of him burst into action. His mind, no longer paralyzed, looked at his options and discarded many out of hand. Too heavy, too loose, too easy to grap, not warm enough.
He pulled a long sleeved, thick black shirt with a green diamond pattern across the arms.
Black jeans, stretchy and thick to the touch.
A jacket, tan and heavy and with that smell of leather and oil.
Boots. solid soled and high topped. Bright red that seemed like a joke, like a goddamn concession to his style .
He shoved them on, damp hair pushed back from eyes to reveal a wild glint in them.
He slammed his fist on the door’s button, a sharp stomp and stride to the podium.
The screen barely came alive when he swore the word:
And with that, he appeared in the forest, rage thumping in his chest.
He wanted Izuku to break?
As the first undercurrent of static began, Izuku was already running, boots thumping through the grass as the flashlight clicked on.
The world seemed etched in black and white, the thumping blood and his anger in his chest chasing the cold of the forest away.
He was going to find his way out of this simulation.
He was going to track down who put him here.
And then he was going to beat the asshole who threatened his mom to death with his bare hands.
Chapter 4: The Grind
Closer and closer...
the Death count rises.
Izuku nursed his cup of tea, letting the aroma calm him.
Across from him, Nedzu did the same.
They had spoken softly for a while now. Pleasantries and idle gossip. Part of him found comfort in this. It was soft, and quiet, and Nedzu was polite enough not to mention the fact he had cased the entire room four times, had frozen up twice when bad memories had hit him, and had been fairly useless in providing any sort of current gossip.
However, as he now finished his fourth cup of tea, and Nedzu set his fifth aside, the tone began to change.
“So, as you are aware, Mister Midoriya, we have several topics to cover before you’re paperwork can be finalized?”
“I understand. I would have… concerns, as well.” Izuku looked down and felt his lips quirk in a smirk somewhere between sarcastic and resigned.
“First, I believe, is the topic of therapy. As part of the ongoing recovery process you are engaged in, Hound Dog will be taking over for your therapy sessions. Considering that you’ve gone through four other therapists in a very short month of meetings, that's been far easier than we expected. The paperwork was finalized yesterday, and both of you will have scheduled meetings twice a week.”
“That's more than acceptable.”
“Please, don’t break Hound Dog.”
“I will… endeavor not to.”
Nedzu gave a gimlet start with a spark of humor at the cagey response, but let it drop.
“Second. You need to outfit yourself with non-lethal options. As well as speak with a support agent. Power Loader has thankfully volunteered, and will be available after our meeting. As per the court agreement about lethal force in the hands of heroes, and heros and training oh… 74 years ago, you need to have a nonlethal variant of any weaponry you use with any regularity. From guns to swords to explosives. We have a few designs prepped for your inspection, and if I remember, you had a request for something special?”
“Yeah. A tool from the games. I figure I have enough know-how to get it working, even if only barely.”
“Wonderful. And I suppose you’ll also want an input on your weapons’ final designs.”
Izuku merely nodded, eyes drifting to the sun sigil of the blade bag resting against the wall.
“There’s a few memories I would rather not tarnish.”
He didn’t look at Nedzu, letting the principal make his own judgment without his input.
From there it was merely minutia. A clarification on a few relevant rules, a bit of a modification to a few time periods, and a note in his files that he was currently suffering from several traumas and a list of responses for if he was… particularly unstable.
“Ah, and with that I do believe our agreement is finalized. If you do have issues or requests, my door is often open. Though, I would prefer you check with the secretary next time,” Nedzu called out once more as Izuku stood and headed for the door, slinging his blade back across his shoulders.
“Your secretary needs better sightlines if you want that to happen,” Izuku mused, a sardonic twitch of the shoulders all but shouting his amusement to the headmaster.
As the door closed, the two parted.
Simulation: Day 6 Hour 7:23:20
Death count: 43
Izuku flipped off the flickering form of Slender as he dove from the roof, the reaching white hands recoiling in what looked like anger and frustration as Izuku grunted and rolled off a window awning and slammed onto a car roof, hand triumphantly holding one of the more annoying pages, the white paper flaking away as his counter ticked up from 89 to 90.
A week of running and exploring and grabbing those goddamn papers. His initial rage had long since cooled and banked under the sheer frustration and exhaustion he felt. Beyond that, he still felt… cold, and sore from his simulated deaths. Each one had been immensely painful, the feeling of torn flesh and burrowing tendrils echoing when he tried to relax. His kind demeanor and his smile had been ripped away due to the effort it took to maintain. Pain and anger, and his hate was now focused and loud, augmented by years of insults learned from bullies and his childhood friend, and expressed on the most immediate target.
That pale motherfucker.
The forest he had first appeared and died in, was only part of what had to be a five-kilometer to a side square, surrounded by a sheer five-meter tall smooth wall. In this was a forest, a place that looked like a small rural town, and a series of complexes and industrial locations that appeared almost copy-pasted.
But the papers were what really pissed him off.
He had learned quickly that while there were set locations for the papers to spawn, there were far more locations than there were papers, and placement was randomized. Beyond that, some of the pages were placed in… some annoying locations. Ledges outside windows, stuck on top of flagpoles, pinned inside cars, hanging from roof awnings.
Izuku had to learn, quickly, how to take a fall and get the highest and farthest leaps he could, often ending runs with broken legs and shattered arms as Slender closed in.
His neck still ached some days from the memory of falling off a roof head first and not surviving.
As he rolled off the car, biting back a groan as he felt his back begin to bruise from the impact, he took off running.
‘90 pages. Already cleared the south half of the forest, the farmstead, and the city. That leaves the industrial complex. 10 more pages. Just 10 more!’
Boots on concrete echoed as he ran down the center of the street, arms pumping as he kept low. A hiss of static from his right and he dodged, long white arms swinging from around the corner of a truck, Izuku’s eyes meeting the blank face as a white fingertip caught his shoulder, leaving deep bloody gashes in his arm.
Hissing through his teeth, Izuku twisted out of reach, eyes darting back ahead of him as he lowered his torso and dug deep, sprinting down the street.
The static once more filled his ears, and he bit back a curse as the flickering form of Slender shifted ahead of him.
“Oh fuck you.”
Running forwards, Izuku dodged once more, dancing past, before diving into the forest. Hearing the beginning of a scream that seemed composed of overwrapping static sounds.
‘Ten pages. Just ten more.’
Izuku stepped down the fairly barren hall of the support wing of the building, feeling that slow tension build in his bones. There wasn’t a threat, he knew that. But the signs on the walls that talked about safety rules and regulations... as his eyes roved over them, he could feel the memories creep back in. There had been a few places where warnings like these were next to dangerous things. And for a moment he could hear the monstrous screams echoing down metal hallways…. And then he shook his head, dispersing the memory.
Eventually, his footsteps took him to the door he was looking for: “Power Loader” was written in large letters across the door plaque. He knocked, some part of him tensing, waiting for a response.
“Door’s open, come on in,” came a muffled yell from behind the door, and Izuku complied, pushing through the doorway. The clean empty designs of the hall vanished as he stepped into a classroom of desks, the far wall replaced by a rolling garage door that was opened into what must have been the support labs. At the desk across the classroom area, a shorter man dressed in a blue and white mechanic’s jumpsuit stood with a tablet in hand. His face was exposed, but his eyes were hidden by the loose curtain of bright orange hair that hung almost to his shoulders. Eyes darting, Izuku glanced at his hands, spotting the bright iron gleam of his fingertips.
"I was told you were expecting me?"
Power Loader shifted, a pale blue eye glancing up through his bangs as he took in Izuku. "Ah, yes. Nedzu mentioned you needed some gear. He said you had a few ideas? Oh, and ignore the mess. One of our new students has gotten a head start on using the facilities." Power Loader led the way through the garage door into the crowded workshop, past piles of half-assembled pieces of gear and robot components. In the corner, a half disassembled arm that looked awfully like that of the 0-pointer hung from the roof.
"Looks busy," Izuku commented, eyes clocking corners and checking angles even as he wandered behind the teacher, hands tensing and flexing in his jacket pockets.
"Ah, yeah. The start of year resupply and fix up. New materials, tools, and general supplies come in and I spend several weeks running the new kids through basic doctrine on the remains of the entrance exam robots. Saves me time and the school money." As they turned a corner around a 10-foot tall stack of sheet metal, the still mostly clean back end of the shop came into view. Sparks flew from behind a divider to the side, but Izuku focused on the large slowly spinning holographic blueprints of a 0-pointer floating in the center of the space.
Realizing he should say… something, he spoke up. "Cool."
"Indeed it is. Now, you have files for me to use as a base?"
Nodding Izuku reached up and held out a thumb drive.
"Wonderful. Now, let's see about getting you that equalizer you asked for."
The thumb drive was plugged in, and the 0-pointer design vanished. A few taps on the tablet and a list of files appeared.
Each was opened, 3D models of every weapon appearing in the air. Each one was specific dimensions and weights, all modified and adjusted. The digital models of things that he had recovered from the computers he was trapped in.
Izuku’s eyes glanced over, past the three guns designs floating next to him and the teacher, and beyond the half designed suit of armor pieces he had been pulling together from a set of files over the last month.
Instead, he focused on the last two weapons, specifically the smaller one, one which was far more detailed than the simple blade across his back.
Floating, it looked simple, but he could see the details. Embossed symbols and carefully wrapped leather. A worn blade, but solid. Durable.
On the pommel, the sun emblem gleamed. Just looking at it he could almost hear the shout...
“Well now. The guns are easy enough. I can print and fabricate the parts here, though I’ll need to register them and you. Snipe owes me a favor for that. As for the armor… it needs some work. I’m betting it goes with your hero suit?”
“And the last two… hmm... I know of a guy who can get that sword worked out, but it’ll take some time. That half-assed hunk of junk you got gonna last that long?”
Izuku grimaced, remembering how he had literally ground it out of a bar of steel and that the edge was already chipping. “It’s poor quality, but it’ll last for a few weeks if I don’t stress it.”
Nodding, the hero leaned in at the last item. More specifically the digital notes attached that floated near it. “Sheesh. That's one hell of design modification. Gonna take me some time to get that worked ou–”
“I can do that!”
The hero jumped, while Izuku’s eyes merely shifted and rested on the girl he had felt coming up next to him. Bright cross-haired gold eyes and braided pink hair focused on the holograms, before darting his way with tangible excitement. “I can help set most of this up, I know how!”
“Dammit girl, make some noise. And you’re not in class yet.” Power Loader turned on the girl as he recovered from the surprise.
“But I can help, while you finish the class schedule, the roster placement, and the 32 orders you need to supervise! I can handle the armor and the modified weapon!”
Power Loader folded his arms, blue eyes glaring at gold from underneath his auburn hair, before flicking to Izuku. “...Up to you kid. You’re the client. You get a say here.”
The girl rounded, blinking as gold met green. A long moment of silence, Izuku gazing at her and keeping a blank face, while she slowly began to fidget under his cool gaze.
Finally, he swung his hand from his pocket, holding it out.
“Midoriya Izuku. And you?”
She jumped and blinked before smacking her hand into his and shaking excitedly.
“Well. Nice to meet my new support tech. I trust you to keep up.” he grinned, as the girls eyes flashed with an inner fire.
She would do just fine.
Simulation: Day 6 Hour 8:02:11
Death count: 43
Izuku’s breath was a death rattle, blood dripping from behind his teeth as he staggered one more step.
He could see it. Across the from him, on a car door where it was parked in the middle of the dirt road that crossed the clearing.
He wasn’t going to make it.
He glanced back, wincing as the sheer act made him dizzy, eyes latching on the dark stains that lingered amidst the grass and across trees.
‘ Blood loss and exhaustion.’
He had been so close.
But then Slender stopped hunting him, stopped following and waiting for him, and started playing with him.
He could feel the burn of the claw marks that stretched across his back and around his sides, feel the warm rivers of blood that cooled and glued cloth to skin.
He staggered, and collapsed, trying to brace himself before he hit the ground, but with only his left arm still attached, and his right arm reduced to a bloody stump, he wasn't able to stop himself. He hit the ground with a choked off scream and a spray of blood from his mouth.
‘Something broke when I hit that tree. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe. Lungs?’
The static was still there, on the edge of his perception, but instead of the incomprehensible drone it once was… now it rose and fell sharply.
Slender was laughing.
The white hand appeared, skin writhing as it reached down and almost gently caressed his cheek. He closed his eyes, trying to force back the well of hopelessness and rage that burned in him, mixing with the haze of pain and blood loss.
And then he choked, the hand tight around his throat as he was yanked up, breathing stopped as his throat struggled against the cool stone-like grip.
His eyes shot open, just in time to see the pale face writhe and begin to split.
Teeth. Millions of small writhing teeth.
Death Count: 44
Chapter 5: Tutorial
Ingenuity and Endurance can meet any quirk.
Tenya glanced around, taking in the early morning as he paced himself towards the still quite astonishing shape of UA, feeling his chest tighten in pride and excitement at the fact he was on his way to making his brother proud of him. With pride and vigor, he pushed through the gate, and the front doors. With confident steps, he passed through the halls, having already memorized the UA floor plan to find his class.
He took in the gleaming tile of the halls, the bold and clean walls and structures and smiled.
And then he reached his classroom, and paused.
The door was cracked open, but the room beyond had the lights off, only the faint gleam of the morning sun lighting the room from within. Blinking, he marched up and glanced through, leaning past the threshold in curiosity.
The light-on-dark contrast of the room cast details in shadow, but he could see that on the windowsill, the glass panels shoved open to let in the morning light and air, a young teen sat.
For a moment, Tenya took in the familiar clean-cut shape of the UA male uniform, and a hair of loose lanky green curls that hung down past the teens eyes, gleaming in the sunlight. His uniform was clean and well pressed, though with a red bowtie instead of a necktie. Beyond that, what caught his eye was the blade at his side, clasped to a utility belt stretched over his costume. For a split second, his mind ran through the rules, and, even as he was recognizing the teen, he was moving arms up and gesturing as he eyed the teen in the window.
His quirk speeding him up, he passed through the classroom in less than a second, shouting loudly as he approached.
“YOU! Swords are not allowed in a classroom setting-”
He froze, breath caught and a cold sweat on his brow.
The ground and sharpened point of the blade was resting just below his adam's apple.
Green eyes, suddenly dark and cold with the sunlight behind them to contrast, focused on Iida’s blue eyes. There was a glimmer of surprise, hidden among grim amusement and annoyance. “Don’t… shout. The sword… is an exemption. Part of my condition to attend. Same with a... variety of other gear.” The blade, which Iida could now see had a thin metal attachment to blunt the edge pulled away even as Iida swallowed, his throat suddenly very dry. He had seen the teen startle, but he barely caught the path of the blade as it was drawn back and then slammed forwards, up and under his guard, and around his half-raised arms.
If it hadn’t stopped, it would have killed him.
“I… apologize for my sudden assault and my volume.” With the distance shortened, he could make out the teen’s features, the pale skin and smattering of thick freckles across his cheeks clear as day. With the addition of that soft and ragged voice, Iida now recognized him as the boy from the entrance exam.
‘So he made it in here too…’
“...Don’t charge me again and we’ll be just fine.” A flicker of motion, the faint sound of leather on steel, and the blade was sheathed once more.
Crossing his arms loosely, the teen returned to staring out the window, and Iida could make out the front gate from where the teen sat.
‘Okay, let’s try this again.’
“My name is Iida Tenya. Pleased to make your acquaintance!” he held out his hand to shake, and the teen glanced back, face half-shadowed in the lack of sun.
A quick grasp, wrist to wrist, and a muttered name was all his response, before the green haired teen looked away once more.
Iida paused, sighed, and turned back to find a seat.
‘Midoriya Izuku… what a strange guy.’
Bakugou growled as he marched through the door to 1-A. Gaze darting from person to person even as he beelined to a familiar place, the dead center of the classroom. Close enough to hear and be heard by anyone else. He had already clocked everyone in the class, judging them all to be worthless.
Tossing his bag under the seat, he crashed into it, focusing on the board and the door for the teacher and putting any thought of his classmates out of his mind.
Or that was the plan.
“Relax, Kacchan. We got five minutes until the teacher shows.”
The words were off-hand, the speaker barely talking and clearly not focused as Bakugou’s head tilted, catching sight of dark hair and a pen as a text book was slowly defaced behind him.
Glancing back, he tried to stop grinding his teeth at the sudden feeling of ‘Danger’ behind him.
Five minutes to the dot later, as the last of the class nervously filed in, the door opened to a tall, lean man with a black jumpsuit, with a yellow bundle of some sort in his hand which he tossed behind the teacher’s desk as he glanced around, eyebrow raised.
“Hmm… got quiet in five seconds. That's logical. Saves me time.” He pulled a box out of his desk. “Here. UA gym uniforms. Gym’s on the first floor, follow me and change into them. We’re testing you all before lunch.” “Uh, Sir?” a boy with sharp teeth and red spikey hair raised his hand. “What about orientation and the opening ceremony?”
“I don’t care for them. Pro Heroes don’t have time for pageantry like that. And students who want to be pro have even less. Get a move on.”
The class paused, but even as Bakugou scrambled to his feet, Deku had already darted past, feet silent on the tile in red high-tops and his sword tucked and held close to avoid contact.
By the time Katsuki was up, had his gym clothes, and had taken off after the teacher, Izuku was shadowing the taller man with a silent grace.
Ten minutes later, he was still trying to adjust to the loose jumpsuit, and glancing around the field he and the rest of the class was standing in.
“Welcome, to your quirk assessment tests.”
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 13:41:00 Death count: 59
Izuku crouched, landing as he began the simulation once more. He had barely touched down, when his boots dug into the soft topsoil, and he shoved off.
His flashlight was turned off and tossed in his pocket, never even turned on, his eyes already adjusting to the dark of the forest as he took a split second to orient himself in the map.
“South… west. Not bad, could be better. Clear the forest first.” His muttering was soft, barely perceptible in the dark forest. He caught the faintest echo of the sound of static, but he was already heading the way he needed to. In seconds, he saw the first page, pinned to a large tree in the middle of a clearing. He passed it and ripped it free without stopping, letting it float and dissolve in the clearing, even as he exited it on his way to his next stop.
The static picked up, ever so slightly.
Izuku ignored it.
He had pages to find.
Uraraka glanced over at the teen who had helped her in the entrance exam. The softball in his hand. Bakugou’s massive explosion, that girl, (Yao- something?) had flat out fired it from a canon, and Ochako herself had floated it into space.
She watched as the teen grabbed the ball in his off hand, tossing it gently as he drew his sword in his right.
A toss to gauge the weight, another to get the feel of it, and on the third he tossed it far straight up, and as it fell he twisted, the blade coming around in two hands, the flat of the metal impacting the ball with a loud crack as it took off into the distance.
“153 meters. Next.”
She blinked. The teacher wasn’t gonna comment on Izuku’s gear? Or his lack of quirk? Regardless, she shot a smile his way at the fact he was fairly middle of the pack in distance of the ball.
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 14:11:03 Death count: 59
“14.” The count was to keep track, to keep focused.
“15,” to distract from pain. To ignore fear.
A burst of static, a reaching claw, and a duck.
The static screeches behind him.
His hands rip through white paper once more.
Kirishima growled to himself, arms pumping up and down as he pushed himself to the limit. Hardening didn’t help with this. If it was planks it would be great but hardened muscles wouldn’t make his actions smoother, wouldn’t help him keep his arms pumping and blood flowing past the burn.
Across from him, his partner for this test was doing the same, green hair tied loosely back in a knot above his scalp with a stray bit of leather cord, his sword just above his fingertips as the teen moved up and down in a smooth consistent arc. No wasted motion, no uneven breathing, no hesitation. Kirishima had been trying to match that pace, but even now, almost ten minutes into it, the two of them pushing up and down, he was more than a dozen counts behind, and falling more behind with every minute.
“Ten minutes are up. Counts?”
“312, Sir.” Kirishima bit out as he pushed himself to his feet, looking up to help…. Only for the other teen to already be up and with his sword buckled at his side.
‘The fuck? Forty-two more than me? So manly.’
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 14:56:11 Death count: 59
Duck past the open window, so Slender can’t reach out and grab him.
Leap off the car hood, roof, and that awning to snag the one on the flagpole.
Use the flagpole to reach the roof and leap to the next building, snagging that one before Slender can reset to gra- duck and roll, dropping to the lower part of the roof.
Those fingers brushed past his hair, he could feel it. Ignore it though. Grab the next paper to clear the factory grounds.
Shoji grinned behind his face mask, the 540kg was the highest score so far, and as he watched the green haired teen step up, he expected to see maybe a 50.
Then a bracelet of paracord was undone, and several sharp twists later, the green haired teen was pulling with his full body movement to tighten a noose around the sensor grips, Shouji had to admit, the ingenuity was great and the effectiveness was not to be doubted, considering the display read a score of 156kg.
But seriously. What was this kid’s quirk? He hadn’t seen it yet, and he had been paying attention to everyone this entire time. The eyes on his shoulders weren’t for show, after all.
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 15:35:12 Death count: 59
Izuku gazed at the next, and last, page in the city part of the map.
A dead end alley.
With a concrete back wall.
He glanced around and noted that Slender had vanished, but the sound of static was rising louder and louder.
“No choice. Fuck.”
He booked it down the alley, the sound of static beginning the goddamn laughter.
Izuku reached the paper and tore it off, but did not stop moving.
The wall was 12 feet tall, made of smooth brickwork with clean, smooth corners. But as he lept, his boots caught on the surface, for just a second. Just long enough for his leg to kick off, for his body to rise, for that haunting laughter to change to a shriek of static rage as he grasped the top edge and with all his might, dragged himself up. The form of Slender appeared at the end of the alley, where he had apparently decided to trap and torment Izuku.
“90, you motherfucker.”
‘And I know where the last 10 are already.’
He leapt across the rooftops as the static screech began to deafen him, ringing in his ears.
‘There's only one place left to go.’
He stared off into the forest, the faint lights of the trainyard of shipping containers bright and clear in the distance.
Aizawa glanced at his clipboard as the second-to-last exercise, the long jump, came to a close.
“12 laps, 5km endurance run. Go.”
With various groans of discontent, the mass of students lined up, and on his whistle took off.
Some took the lead immediately. Bakugou Katsuki with a blast of force, Iida Tenya with a whir of engines and exhaust, and Yaoyorozu Momo on a solar bike she formed quickly. With Todoroki Shouto keeping pace on a path of ice as he skated along.
But between the rest of them and the fastest, one could be seen pulling ahead of the pack of the slowest. Keeping pace and pulling ahead of the large leaps of Asui Tsuyu and the sliding acid trail of Mina Ashido.
Green hair. Sword strapped to his back for ease of motion, and footsteps at an easy and consistent pace. If he focused on the teen’s emotionless expression and reserved body language, it almost looked like he was going for a morning jog, if not for the sheer speed and power used in each step. Despite the slender stature of its taker, he covered ground with sharp movements, kicking off and sending himself forwards with an aggressive and almost unbelievable pace.
By the time the first of the teens passed the 5km mark, Iida having lapped the slowest of the teens almost twice, and as the rest of them lagged behind with exhaustion, Izuku had caught up and passed Bakugou and was passing Todoroki, much to the dismay of both.
Marking down the time, Aizawa began to calculate the places and averages for everyone, and blinked as the fourth name belonged to Midoriya Izuku.
‘Not bad kid.’
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 16:00:01 Death count: 59
Blood splattered the ground, the pain pushed aside and ignored as Izuku rolled to his feet, eyeing the last of the pages. The 99th page, splattered with blood from a gash across Izuku’s shoulder, faded away.
The static was ever present, constant, and Angry.
“There you are.” The white form of Slender, already twitching and shifting, stood tall in between him and the last page. They were both in the dead center of the trainyard, blocked in on two sides by towering walls of shipping containers, and the concrete wall of the storage yard on the far side.
In the center of the area, the page hung pinned to a forklifts side.
Reaching up, Izuku kept eye contact with Slender, even as he grabbed the torn sides of his black shirt and ripped it open, his jacket having been sacrificed minutes ago to give him an escape. His torso was lacerated, long red lines across his chest, back, and arms. Close calls and last minute dodges of the last half hour leaving clear marks.
Holding the bundled shirt in his hands, he ripped a sleeve off and folded it up, placing it in his mouth and holding the rest in his grasp. He shifted his feet back and set his stance, crouching low like a sprinter.
Slender opened his arms, as if inviting him to try, the skin shifting with ridged membranes that writhed and squirmed under the pale white masquerade of flesh.
The static reached a feverish pitch.
And Izuku moved.
10 meters between him and victory.
Each step echoed off the metal walls, each breath, muffled as it was by cloth, was sharp, and as Slender flickered, moving to intercept, Izuku pivoted and lept at the wall.
Slender reappeared mid-swing, arm cutting past him, as he gritted his teeth and twisted, throwing his arm out to meet the attack.
A splatter of blood.
A supernova of pain that made him almost black out, biting into and almost through his cloth gag.
A rising laughter in the static...
And then Izuku was there.
He didn’t even wait to fumble and grab at the paper, instead he threw his fist forwards, punching through the entire glass and the page itself with his left arm, while his right shoulder pumped red blood to the ground around him, ragged muscle and a splintered section of bone gleaming in the moonlight..
Behind him, Slender went from amused… to furious.
And then the static stopped.
Izuku glanced back to see the white humanoid form shift and twitch, limbs bending and twitching as it staggered, then collapsed. His right arm still held triumphantly in its grasp. Coughing, he spit the gag out, even as he turned to lean against the forklift with heavy breathing.
Lifting the bundled shirt that had protected him from the window, he shook it, shards of glass dancing to the ground as he unwound it and pressed it to his stump.
“SIMULATION ONE: COMPLETE. FINAL TIME: 12:16:05:00”
Staggering over, Izuku glanced around as the simulation began to dissolve around him. He glanced down at the still convulsing pile of white flesh and sighed.
“Go fuck yourself.”
He turned away and looked to see the simulation fade.
And just before he felt the familiar rush of an ending simulation, but without the same blinding pain and muffled thoughts, a notification appeared.
‘Slender complete. Notebook function unlocked.’
And then he blinked, finding himself once more uninjured, laying on the simulation podium in the room.
For a moment, he just lay there, staring up at the ceiling as the glass visor receded into the podium.
“I did it.”
And then he began to laugh.
“I beat Slender!”
Izuku stretched as he slid his gear into the locker, pulling his school uniform back out and sliding it on as the faint murmur of the rest of the locker room echoed.
“Man, I can’t believe that whole expulsion thing was a ruse, I thought for sure you were out of there, Mineta!” That was the electric haired blonde, who apparently hadn’t paid enough attention to recognize Izuku’s name yet.
“I know! God, that was terrifying.” The shorter teen with the strange hair was shivering.
Izuku almost wanted to scoff, but held it in. Terrifying? That test was easy. He reached in and grabbed his sheathed sword from next to him hooking the buckle on his belt with a smooth click.
Sighing at the weight of his hair, still damp from a shower, he pulled it all back into a small knot at the base of his skull, leaving a few curly ragged bangs unbound.
Swinging the locker closed with a smooth click, he pulled the bowtie around his neck and began to tie it. He was about to leave when he caught the eye of the dichromatic teen who had ranked just above him in the exercise.
Izuku narrowed his eyes at the impassive glare of the other teen, before with a sharp tug he finished the bowtie. Walking past him towards the exit of the showers, he paused, hands in his pocket and shoulder to shoulder with Todoroki.
“Problem?” The question was soft and sharp.
“...No.” The reply was coolly reserved, and Todoroki proceeded to glance away.
With that, Izuku kept walking, and as he pushed out into the hall beyond the changing rooms, he reached up and popped his neck.
‘I wonder what your problem is… Todoroki. And why you decided to lie to my face about it.’
A tap of his fingers on the leather-wrapped hilt, and Izuku shook his head. He could hear the last of the boys finishing up and they would be right behind him. With smooth steps, he headed back to the classroom, eyes half-lidded in thought.
Perhaps… there were threats here as well.. Just far more subtle.
Chapter 6: Moshi Moshi?
Teammates are chosen, and a new game begins
Ochako was excited, glancing around the class as the second day of the term rolled on. Already, several people had started to wander and gather in groups as the class relaxed in between periods. She glanced around and saw Izuku had taken what she now recognized as a comforting perch on the back window sill of the room. His arms crossed and gaze locked out the window with earbuds in. Recognizing that he didn’t want to be social she wandered closer to the group of girls nearby, just in time to catch an argument between Jiro and Ashido.
“-and I’m telling you, Deep Dope out-sold and out-performed the KKN last year, they are, imperically, the better band.”
“No, the just have the bigger marketing team! Besides, they’ve been around longer, that doesn’t mean they are better!”
Sidling up to the other girls watching, Ochako nudged the shorter girl with green hair. “They been talking about this long?”
“Just a few minutes.” The raspy voice came out soft, before she blinked and held out her hand. “Oh, I'm Asui, you can call me Tsuyu.”
“Oh, then call me Ochako!”
The two glanced back as Jiro and Ashido got more and more excited and loud in their argument, both grinning at the emotional pink girl and the sarcastic punk rocker hashing it out.
Tsuyu glanced past Ochako and blinked. Behind her at the windowsill, she caught the eyes of the strange boy who had been catching her instincts all day. The green haired teen with the sharp eyes met her gaze evenly, hands crossed where he rested half bathed in the early morning sunshine of the window. She felt herself tense up, feeling like she was facing a predator, much like she felt when her middle school friend, Habuko, would use her quirk when stalking her. For a moment, she flashbacked to the first time the mongoose mutation girl had stalked her, and that almost instinctive surge of terror and fear.
For a second, Midoriya looked scarier than Habuko ever had. Than, with a blink he shifted and looked away out the window, dismissing her from his focus. His eyes stared out at the sunlit grounds of UA, focus lost to the distance. The shift was disconcerting but she quickly realized that the mood of the teen had changed with his focus.
Like this, looking at it from the side, without the piercing gaze and lit by warm sunlight, he looked… softer. The edge of intent she had felt against her skin was still there, but seemed sheathed like the blade at his side. Something wistful about his expression as he let the sun cast his features in contrast.
She was broken from her quiet inspection as the door opened, bright blonde hair and leather outfit making its way through as Present Mic came in to start their English class.
Inko sat in the office of the local police department, hands tensed in her sweater hem as she fought back the tears that kept leaking from her eyes.
The Detective and a hero, she didn't recognize him, but the suit was accented with a somewhat digital design, walked in. The detective, a plain looking man in a tan suit and deep bags under his eyes, she thought his name was Naosara? Naomata? Something like that, she hadn't quite caught it.
“Miss Midoriya, this is my associate, the Digital Hero Codex. We… We think we found your son.”
Inko froze, eyes welling up with tears as she focused intently on the hero.
“Please… Where is my son… Where is my baby boy?!”
“I… AM COMING THROUGH THE DOOR LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!”
Izuku’s eyes tracked the motion of All Might, tracing his path and stature as he came to a halt in front of the whiteboard, dozens of subtle observations surfacing and glimmering in Izuku’s thoughts as he took in the man's posture, speed, stance, and focus. He idly noted the more retro Silver Age outfit, just as a blonde teen, (‘Kaminari, electric quirk, knows my story’) shouted about it. Pushing the thoughts away for now, Izuku shifted so he was slightly more ready to move. After Aizawa’s surprises and mindgames the day before, he was currently considering any class as a possible reaction test until further notice.
“Welcome to the most important class at UA High!” All Might stode across the floor, arms wide in obviously well-practiced showmanship. “This is, at its core, Hero-ing 101!” Students nodded and tensed in excitement as he spoke. “Here you will learn the basics of being a pro, and what it means to fight in the name of good!” An echoing clap of his hands and a slightly crouched posture that spoke of power was literally dragging Izuku’s attention his way.
‘Powerful. Dangerous. Committed… We-’
He slowed his heart beat and gave a slow, languid blink as he repressed the instincts bubbling up from the darker half of his soul and mind. All Might seemed not to notice as he turned back, arms swinging down before with a thrust of his hand- “LET’S GET INTO IT, SHALL WE! WE’LL KICK THINGS OFF…” he opened his large fist to reveal a gleaming white note card reading ‘Battle’ “-WITH SOME COMBAT TESTING!”
Shouts of enthusiasm and surprise echoed the words, but Izuku was easily able to drown them out.
For a moment, the class was gone, the students nothing but illusionary framework.
Where All Might stood tall, was a gleam of sun-off steel instead, with red feathers and a white tabard.
“Shall we engage in Jolly Cooperation?”
A blink, and the world snapped into place, Izuku carefully not even giving away that he had hallucinated such a vivid moment, a memory that he could place in a dozen times of his final trial.
Instead he listened as All Might continued on.
“-keys of being a hero is…” All Might pointed to the walls, where the compartments Izuku saw early this morning flipped open, revealing suitcases with numbers according to the class seats. “Looking good!” The costume boxes slid out of the wall, tilting to provide easy access. “These were designed for you based on your quirk registration forms and the request you sent in before school started! Go forth, and arm and dress yourselves to be the heroes you wish to be!”
Izuku waited a split second, letting the class begin to rush and fumble for their cases before with several quick and smooth motions he stepped up, and slid his out and past the short and scurrying form of the purple balled teen whose name he hadn’t caught yet.
“Get yourself suited up, and then meet me at Training Ground Beta!”
Hearing the instruction and breathing deep to steady himself, Izuku slid back through the crowd, already following the loud and attention grabbing form of the teacher as he directed them to the changing rooms from the day before.
Focusing to steady himself, to blink away the faint sight of bloodstains that lined the hall, which stood out against the plain white of UA. Izuku moved ahead of the pack. He needed to check his gear personally, before he used it.
He needed to center himself.
Inko choked back sobs as she stared at the sealed off area around the facility. She wasn’t allowed in, but there were pictures, and a screen connected to the live stream. Part of her was still processing the absurdity of her new reality. Trying so hard to understand just how much her son was facing.
‘14 hours ago, we tracked down your son’s kidnapper… But theres a complication’
She stared at the screen, watching in fearful awe at the feral looking visage of her son as he ran through a forest, blood dripping from gashes across his cheek and a stream of curses that made her reflexively want to tell him to stop. But she couldn’t.
‘We tracked down Akihiko Sugoh, who use to work as a contractor for the I-Island Digital Immersion lab. He had been a valuable researcher, but it seems after being fired for unethical practices, he decided to prove his worth on his own. He’s currently in detainment… but we can’t undo what he’s started.”
Her son was in a computer. Trapped.
And it was being live streamed to the world. Every day more and more people signed in to the forsaken website, curiosity and morbid fascination letting hundred, thousands, tens of thousands, of sick people stare in curiosity at her son as he fought tooth and nail for freedom.
They couldn’t stop it. Any attempts set off warnings and risked threatening her sons very existence. And due to the quirk of the ‘researcher’ being a vital process, they couldn’t eject him from the computer.
Her son was trapped, and all she could do is wait, and hope.
‘Please… Izuku… My Baby… Please come back to me.’
Todoroki shifted and twisted in his modified outfit, mainly checking that the artificial ice-like coating across his left side was firmly in place, and that his regulator was active and working. While it would take longer than using… his quirk, it would be far more palatable than his sperm donor’s powers.
Shoving the thought away, he checked to make sure the durable white and tand materials of his outfit fit and moved easily.
As he glanced back, however, he saw it.
One of the last members of the class to exit the tunnel, despite being one of the first into the changing room. Dark greens and steel greys and blacks blended against the tunnels faint lightings, only coming into details once he crossed the threshold.
A loose cloak that hung from his shoulders to just under his knees, black on the outside and deep green lining it, with a strip of silvery fur that lined the collar. Under it his neck was covered by a strange mechanical neck brace that looked almost like a steel collar of layered parts that formed and slid up under his jaw. Under the collar, a tight black shirt lined with ribbing of metal braces around his sides ran down his torso, a series of segmented black plates covering his stomach like a girdle up from his belt to cover almost to his sternum. A half skirt of long silken material that gleamed metallic in the sunlight hung from under the ever present sword belt to cover his left leg, falling over a simple pair of black combat pants and tucked into vibrant blood-red boots that rose halfway to his knees. Across his left arm, a thick curved bracer extended from his wrist to elbow, and rounded discs covered the rest of his arm to the shoulder from its aegis. The right arm was left loose and free, the sleeve cut short around his bicep. That was likely for offensive mobility, and the teen was currently adjusting the fit of the black fingerless gloves he wore to finish out the outfit.
‘Hmm...an asymmetrical design with defense and mobility in mind. I bet if something hit him from his left, it would be deflected or caught with ease… does he use a defense posture with his weapon-arm behind him?’’ Todoroki took a second to clock the sword hilt barely visible under the left arm’s shadow, and then blinked at the sight of a gunstock for some sort of rifle over his back, the rest of the weapon hidden under the loose collar of his cloak as it hung behind him.
‘Hmm… quirk improves efficacy of weapons perhaps? Reflex and coordination, maybe.’
Todoroki glanced away as the teen strode into the crowd.
‘You remind me of someone… but why?’
Inko sat across from Mitsuki, her friends comments and assistance, sounding like so much noise as she sat and stared at the lukewarm coffee in her hands, the third day since she had found her sons fate.
Her phone ringed.
Blinking, she swallowed her dry throat and dragged her phone up from the table, Misuki cutting herself off in a mid story rant even as inko answered.
“Miss Midoriya? We have a new development. Izuku cleared the first game.”
Inko froze, and her phone slipped as a convoluted rush of emotion tore through her. Her son did it. He’s advancing, fighting. He was coming home as fast as he could…
And she felt a rush of shame. Of fury and self centered anger and focus. Her son, her precious hero focused son, was crawling his way out of hell for her. And here she was? She had frozen, panicked, lost herself in nightmares and worry. And her son was coming. Her son was fighting monsters. Like that ‘Slender’ beast. She had watched, seen the injuries that had barely slowed her sons motions, that had sent him cursing and pushing every harder.
Shame gave way to steely determination. Like rusty steel rising from the water, bracing against the flooding emotions.
Blinking she picked her phone up.
“Tell me everything.”
Koda Kouji was… a nervous young man. Conflict was not his goal - rescue and support of the people was. He had limited fighting experience despite his stature and secondary mutations increasing his strength and hardening his skin to a thick, leather-like appearance. His quirk was also far more suited to recon and rescue operations… heck, his entrance to this school was only possibly because his nature led him to help assist and distract robots for other students in the vague hope it would count somehow. The only robots he personally destroyed were all rogue one-pointers who had already been injured in previous clashes.
And now he was going into a far more direct and brutal fight. He shook with fear as he watched the ball with his name roll out of the spinner… and then the name Izuku Midoriya came soon after.
He was terrified. Every animal he had spoken to about the teen described the strange fact that he seemed to flicker and vanish from their senses with astounding ease. Something about him seemed to naturally refute the observations of the animals. Some innate sense or instinct triggered by them had sent several birds flying the moment he turned his gaze on them.
And yet, as the two of them were naturally shuffled side by side, Koda felt far less intimidated.
“...Hello. Seems we’re teammates.”
A moment of silence, an assessing gaze and a nervous shuffle, before the other teens hands came up and slowly and carefully signed. The motions were hesitant but very clearly defined and signed, the mark of an inexperienced but knowledgeable signer.
-Would you prefer sign?- the Interrogative tilt to Izuku’s head looked awkward, as if he was trying to express emotion, but to didn’t feel natural.
For a split second, the world seemed to click and make sense.
‘He can’t emote easily…’
Koda gave a smile, big and happy, and focused to let himself relax, his signing was slow and purposeful as he responded.
-Please and thank you. I am Koda Kouji, a pleasure to meet you-
He wanted to help people, why not start here and now.
The small, awkward smile on the other teens lips was more than enough to convince him it was the right thing to do.
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 17:04:20 Death count: 59
Izuku pushed himself out of the shower, shaking off heat and moisture as he strode out and grabbed the new clothes he had set on the disheveled bed in his ‘room’. The feeling of water and heat had been one of the best ways he had found to cope with the aches of missing wounds. Even now his finger tips of the arm he had sacrificed felt slightly numb, but the feeling was fading with each second.
Stretching he pulled on another running outfit, feeling nervous and focusing on calming himself. A new trial awaited him.
Stepping out, he walked to the podium, noting the far wall, above the desk where he had talked with his tormentor the very first time, was now a large screen. Most of it was taken up by a large timer, slowly clicking up second by second, but at the very top of the screen, in a simple box, read ‘SIMULATION ONE CLEARED: 12:16:05:00’ in bright green text.
For a moment, he stared at it, and breathed deep. A sense of fire, of emotion and satisfaction and drive, bloomed in his chest.
Breaking his focus, he shifted and pulled himself up on the podium, laying down in a single far too practiced motion.
As the visor slid up and over his head once more, he stared up. A flicker, almost like old film reel, and the next title appeared, a stylized carnival or party looking font surrounding a pizza box.
On the box, was the name ‘Freddies’.
Breathing deep he triggered the simulation, preparing for anything…
The rush of falling, the flicker of reality. And he was sitting up in a office chair, he was so surprised by this he almost knocked his chair over, but as he focused he took in the brick and mortar room he was sitting in, a desk sitting before him. The only light besides the computer monitor came from a recessed light that flickered faintly above him. He took in happy looking, yet decrepit, posters and art hanging form the walls, all promoting a pizza place known as ‘Freddy Fazbears.’
He would have kept checking out the room, but his thoughts were quickly interrupted by the ringing of a phone.
Glancing around the desk, he was confused at the lack of a phone, before turning to see one hanging on the wall, facing away from the security desk.
A blinking red light flashed as it rung again, and slowly Izuku stood and stepped towards it.
Izuku breathed deep and focused.
It rang a third time, and breathing deeply, izuku lifted the receiver up and set it aside, tapping the speaker button and turning back to start checking over the desk and room, eyeing the two dark hallways to either side with trepidation and concern, before sorting through the desk..
A voice rang out across the room from the phone, calm and somewhat reedy.
"Hello, hello? Uh, I wanted to record a message for you to help you get settled in on your first night.”
Izuku glanced up, eyes locked on the monitor as cameras and a simple map of the building came up.
“Um, I actually worked in that office before you. I'm finishing up my last week now, as a matter of fact. So, I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but I'm here to tell you there's nothing to worry about. Uh, you'll do fine. So, let's just focus on getting you through your first week.”
Izuku glanced back at the phone, blinking.
“Well... that's not fucking ominous.”
Chapter 7: Stealth? Nah, Explosives.
Izuku listens as the new game is explained.
And the battle trial starts off with explosive character development.
Simulation: Day 12 Hour 18:02:00 Death count: 59
Izuku glanced back to the phone, eyes narrowed as he focused back on the voice.
“-inishing up my last week now, as a matter of fact. So, I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but I'm here to tell you there's nothing to worry about. Uh, you'll do fine. So, let's just focus on getting you through your first week. Okay?”
“Ominous tone there, guy.” Izuku muttered as he flipped through piles of coupons and ads for ‘Freddy Fazbear’s’, eyes roving for anything that stood out, while keeping his focus trained on the phone behind him.
“Uh, let's see, first there's an introductory greeting from the company that I'm supposed to read. Uh, it's kind of a legal thing, you know. Um, "Welcome to Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. A magical place for kids and grown-ups alike, where fantasy and fun come to life. Fazbear Entertainment is not responsible for damage to property or person. Upon discovering that damage or death has occurred, a missing person report will be filed within 90 days, or as soon property and premises have been thoroughly cleaned and bleached, and the carpets have been replaced."
Izuku dropped the papers in his hand as he slowly stood and turned to the phone, hands suddenly feeling clammy as the unsettling sense that this was going to be as bad as, if not worse than, Slender rushed through him, blood feeling like ice in his veins.
“Blah blah blah, now that might sound bad, I know, but there's really nothing to worry about. Uh, the animatronic characters here do get a bit quirky at night, but do I blame them? No. If I were forced to sing those same stupid songs for twenty years and I never got a bath? I'd probably be a bit irritable at night too. So, remember, these characters hold a special place in the hearts of children and we need to show them a little respect, right? Okay.”
“...Animatronics?” Izuku glanced up to see the poster, the four robotic mascots presented with names in bright colors. “Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chika, and Foxy.” He blinked and tapped the keyboard, seeing a simplified map appear and options for video cameras open up.
He tapped the controls and began to cycle through options. Trying to figure out how the system worked when he scrolled past a camera. A second of testing and he changed back to the view.
A stage, viewed from the side, with three of the four animatronics, staring out at a bunch of tables and booths.
“-the characters do tend to wander a bit. Uh, they're left in some kind of free roaming mode at night. Uh… Something about their servos locking up if they get turned off for too long. Uh, they used to be allowed to walk around during the day too. But then there was the Bite of '87. Yeah. I-It's amazing that the human body can live without the frontal lobe, you know?”
“Oh, buddy, you have got to be fucking me.” Izuku muttered and glanced accusingly at the phone before looking back at the controls, tapping through feeds to try and find the fox as he listened carefully.
“-concerning your safety, the only real risk to you as a night watchman here, if any, is the fact that these characters, uh, if they happen to see you after hours probably won't recognize you as a person. They'll p-most likely see you as a metal endoskeleton without its costume on.”
“That's starting to sound bad, phone buddy, really fucking bad.”
“-that's against the rules here at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, they'll probably try to… forcefully stuff you inside a Freddy Fazbear suit.”
Izuku froze, hands still as he breathed deep and slowly turned to look at the phone, even as the recording continued.
“Um, now, that wouldn't be so bad if the suits themselves weren't filled with crossbeams, wires, and animatronic devices, especially around the facial area. So, you could imagine how having your head forcefully pressed inside one of those could cause a bit of discomfort... and death. Uh, the only parts of you that would likely see the light of day again would be your eyeballs and teeth when they pop out the front of the mask, heh.”
“That… that is not a laughing matter, buddy.” Izuku blinked, standing and looking out the right door, seeing a dimly lit back hallway, and then turning and heading to the left as the recording played on and on.
“Y-Yeah, they don't tell you these things when you sign up. But hey, first day should be a breeze. I'll chat with you tomorrow. Uh, check those cameras, and remember to close the doors only if absolutely necessary. Gotta conserve power. Alright, good night."
Izuku froze, glancing out the left door, knuckles going white as they clenched on the frame of the door he was using to peek around. He turned, and stared at the phone with wide eyes as a dial tone played, the recording over.
“What the fuck do you mean, conserve power?”
Izuku lunged for the computer, tapping a key to wake up the screen as he looked and then saw it, at the bottom corner of the screen.
12:07 AM. Power at 96%.
He stared at that, before the sound of static made his eye twitch and him spin around, ready to dodge an attack, already looking out for the white flesh of Slender.
A split second of panic, adrenaline pumping, wore off, and with a flare of realization. The sound hadn’t come from behind, him.
Izuku turned back to the screen.
The camera feed now showed three animatronics staring straight at the security camera.
Iida looked around, stretching slightly as he eyed his partner, one Fumikage Tokoyami. The shorter teen with bird-like features was covered by a black cloak, and seemed to be meditating and centering himself as the drawing for teams continued. Iida was already staring at the board as the names were filled in.
The first match was Group C as Villains, and B as Heroes. Iida glanced around only to blink in surprise as two teens seemed to stare each other down. If he was correct, the blonde with an explosive quirk, Bakugou, was teamed with the girl with acid, Ashido. Meanwhile the young man with the dual colored hair and… fairly prominent scar, Todoroki, was standing face to face with him, arms crossed, while a seemingly disembodied pair of gloves and boots stood behind him, nervously fretting. That would be the invisible student, a Miss… Hagakure?
From his position, he couldn’t make out more than the faintest growling and tone of voice from them. Putting it out of his mind, he focused back on the list and blinked as teams F and D were called to perform in the second round.
Team D was him, and his cloaked companion, who would be playing the role of heroes. For a moment, Iida scanned through the group, trying to remember who was- ah, them.
The two quietest teens of the class were standing to the side, hands moving and flickering in calm and careful gestures. The larger teen, Koda Kouji, if Iida had heard right, had a gentle smile and a small bird perched on his shoulder. His companion, the stoic Midoriya Izuku, was next to him. Interestingly enough, he seemed to be the second most armored student, with almost full coverage by his armor and his sword at his side, along with the stock of some sort of rifle or weapon across his back, hidden by the cloak. The sight made Iida tense, the flicker of memory of the teen hanging from the face of the massive 0-Pointer in mind. If that was the same weapon, he would very much like to never face it head on.
Sadly, it didn’t seem like he would get a choice.
He glanced up and blinked, realizing he had missed the last four match drawings.
The rest of the class was pairing off, and with a shout, All Might directed them towards the nearby viewing room.
Bakugou met the dead-eyed gaze of his opponent as they stood. The Two Tone Bastard didn’t even respond to his opening trash talk, and the lack of insight was pissing him off. His armor looked like ice, so there was a thematic base to judge his power off of. That, and he had seen the ice structures that the teen had summoned the day before, but why only half of his body? The question was nagging at the back of his skull, even as he turned away from the silent teen.
“You better prepare bastard, we’ll be waiting for you to come with all you have, and we’ll crush you when you get there.”
“YEAH!” The pink chick who was his teammate grinned and flashed a victory sign back at the other team as they marched off, heading towards the building they were supposed to hold.
As he passed through the first door, he frowned and swept over the surrounding hallways, before he slowly started grinning.
“Hey, Pinky, you make acid, right?”
“It’s Mina, and yeah I do Blasty. What are you thinking?”
“I think we start with some renovations to our base.” He grinned, teeth bared in ferocious intent. “Here's what we’re gonna do…”
The other 16 students had gathered in the observation booth, a wall of monitors lighting up as the cameras came online and began to flicker and search through the building and its surrounding sides.
Izuku blinked and bit back the urge to rush and get up close. This wasn’t the same room he was killed in so many times, despite the spectral bloodstains and that faint, just beyond earshot, sound of gears and clanking. He blinked and breathed deep, and let it out slowly. His eyes opened to clean walls and bright corners. A bump on his shoulder and the soft and caring gaze of his teammate locked onto his eyes.
Izuku brought his hands up, a reflex to brush off Koda’s hand on his fingertips… but instead-
-Will be. Bad memory.-
Koda nodded slowly, hand clapping Izuku on the shoulder in comfort for a moment. He let it drop just before the sound of All Might over the speakers echoed out.
“THE VILLAINS’ PREPTIME IS OVER, HEROES, YOU MAY BEGIN!”
Izuku idly bit the inside of his lip, even as he got bumped, Koda wincing as he signed out a single word that make Izuku’s lips twitch up.
Turning back, he looked over the monitor, eyes roving across them with the ingrained memory of dozens of nights of long hours planning and countering. As he took in the villains’ actions, he blinked slowly, before the smirk grew more pronounced.
‘That's a smart play, Kacchan. Can you back it up?’
“So... what's our plan, Mister Quiet Guy?”
Todoroki glanced to the side at the hands and feet floating nearby, the only clear indicators of his teammate.
“You step back, and I finish this in the first blow.”
A shift of gloves and boots, probably trying to project some sort of emotion to her movement that he could barely understand. Something about… impatience? Ignoring her antics, he breathed in, counting down the seconds until he could act.
“Really, that's your plan? You really think tha-”
Todoroki didn’t hesitate, he didn’t think. He took only a few seconds to center himself, before gathering his quirk’s icy power in his hand, pulling it in and condensing into as strong and as potent of an attack as he dared. This was the time to make an impression, to prove he stood above everyone without his father’s quirk. When it reached the tipping point, when his fingers felt numb as the cold began to overwhelm his natural resistance, he simply stepped forwards and slammed his right foot down as he swept his arm forwards.
He focused, and instead of forming a glacier, he sent his quirk out in a far more subtle form. He ran it through the entire building, across every wall and floor and ceiling.
Where his quirk passed, the world became an icy hellscape.
With a thunderous crack, the building was encased and laced with ice, frost dancing over any and every surface.
For a moment, stunned silence rang out. Besides him, the invisible girl was shocked into silence, while Todoroki listened, planning to hear cries of frustration and anger from the building.
He didn’t expect to hear a deranged cackle of anger and pride.
A blast of smoke, flame, and force rocked from the front door of the frozen-over building, and as the iced stone and metal shattered and spread across the no man's land between the heroes and the building, the intimidating, explosion-themed hero-in-training glared out, head lowered as a disconcerting chuckle echoed through the ice cold air.
“Oh, you need to do better than that, you Half and Half Bastard. If you think that your little ‘Winter Wonderland BULLSHIT‘ is gonna stop us, then you’re more conceited than I thought!” He cackled, and with a blast from his hand, smoke filled the doorway, concealing his retreat back into the depths of the wintery building.
Todoroki was dumbfounded. How the hell did he avoid the-
That blast, the one that opened the door. He was waiting! He must have been ready to meet them, probably wanting to take an early shot at the hero team.
“Well, what now, Ice Boy? We gonna come up with a plan or sit here ‘til the timer runs out?”
Todoroki glanced at where the girl would be, and scowled.
“You go for the bomb, I’ll distract them.”
She shifted, but Todoroki was already was charging the door, steam rolling off his form as he used his father's curse to warm up enough to use his ice freely once more.
Koda raised his eyebrows at the annoyed tick to the word, the aggressive tap of fingers clear as the screen showed Todoroki advancing into the building.
-Cameras inside are down.-
-Most, yes. Not all.-
Izuku gestured up at a series of cameras that had been unfrozen, two of which seemed to be staticy and lopsided. It took a second for Koda to realize they overlooked the ground floor of the building, which meant that Bakugou’s explosion must have cleared their icy covers away.
The cameras were trained on what once was the entrance hall of the building, before the villain team had decided to change a few things. What once was a fairly careful recreation of an office building’s layout was now replaced by a wide, open ground floor, with missing walls, which had been melted or shoved away.
The center of the floor had been turned into a grand open room, with only the main supporting pillars for the building left untouched. The outer rooms and walls were the same, in order to keep the heroes from noticing the surprise renovations.
In the back of the room, an opening in the ceiling showed the twisted and melted remains of the stairwell up to the above floors, removed from play before the heroes even got there.
And in the center, face pulled into a grin of excitement, stood Bakugou.
Todoroki barely had a moment to take it in, before the fight began in earnest.
Even in the observation room, the roar of combat was loud and clear; massive chains of explosions, and the sound of cracking ice, echoes through the screens a half-second behind the sounds from outside.
“So they turned the first floor into an arena… that seems particularly foolish. Bakugou seems exposed and has nowhere to take cover.”
The speaker, a tall girl with a black ponytail and grey eyes, frowned at the scene she saw.
“...Bakugou’s a distraction.”
She turned to meet Izuku’s gaze, only to see the shorter teen with his eyes closed and head tilted, as if listening to the rapid sounds of the fight.
The girl waited, but when the teen didn’t continue, she sighed and spoke up. “Would you care to explain?”
A single green eye cracked open, appraising Momo Yaoyorozu with intent, before the soft voice spoke out, gathering the attention of most of the class. “Bakugou is a fighter to the core. His skillset is built and refined around destructive close quarters combat with a focus on rapid and high intensity engagement. It's his bread and butter, his perfect storm. I guarantee he could leap up that hole with minimal effort, something neither of his enemies nor his teammate could achieve quickly. He turned a maze of options for stealth and evasion into a single choke point, and has set himself up for exactly the kind of fight he prefers. If anything, Todoroki-san’s efforts only assisted him. The ice outside the building means the only way up, is through.”
Momo blinked, and glanced back at the monitors. “And if they only have 15 minutes to get past Bakugou-”
This time Izuku looked up, eyes focused on one of the screens as an explosion blasted the dichromatic teen back. “They only have 11 now. And Todoroki is losing ground fast.”
‘The question is… what do the wildcards plan to do while the titans fight it out?’
His eyes narrowed as he caught another glimpse of Todoroki, darting back from the fight with steam drifting off his form.
The feed was distorted, smoke and flashes of explosions disrupting the video, but he could see it, just for a split second.
Flames under his fake ice armor.
‘Now… why would you refuse your power…?’ A flash of Todoroki’s expression at the end of the quirk assessment. Of his demeanor and a half-noticed glance. And with that, things began to click, giving him the shape of the problem. ‘Ah. You are a fool, Todoroki. Pride has no place on the field.’
Toru crouched behind one of the support pillars, gloves long since left behind as she crouched and maneuvered up and closer to the second floor entrance.
Finally, a wave of ice covered her position from the fight. With grace and quiet motions, she leapt up and latched onto the lowest stair, pulling herself up with a soft grunt of effort, only to blink at the twisted and half melted stairwell leading up. Sighing she rolled up and began to ascend the stairwell to the second floor.
“Oh, ‘I’ll finish it with one move,’” she mocked, leaping over a half twisted chunk of concrete, still faintly hissing from acid despite the icy covering. “Not like the other team has a plan or course of action.”
She slipped and bit back a curse as she felt her hand grow warm with liquid, the translucent blood was one of the biggest issues with her powerset. She could rarely judge just how much damage she’s taken. And even her awareness of her body had its limits.
And the goddamn numbing cold wasn’t helping, asshole.
Finally reaching the second floor, she glanced in, only to blink as an explosion tore a section of the floor apart down the hall from her.
“Well, that's the wrong floor.”
Closing the door of the stairwell, she turned and continued parkouring up.
Todoroki was panicking, he admits. His body was already starting to ache and seize up, muscles spasming from repeated applications of extreme cold then rapid warming. He gritted his teeth and lept back, another explosion blowing his latest fortification away into the barest glimmers of diamond dust.
“NOT SO COCKY NOW, HUH HALF AND HALF!?”
The smoke and ash covered form of Bakugou strode out of the mist, his mouth pulled tight into a massive grin that only promised pain to his opponent.
Shouto glared back, already trying to raise his body temperature once more, steam wafting off his form.
And like that, Bakugou's smile faded away, eyes narrowing in focus.
“You’re holding back.”
Shouto’s eyes widened, and that was all the confirmation Bakugou needed. A blast of light and force, and he was suddenly up close and personal. Shouto raised his left arm, and the rounded metal gauntlet slammed into his hasty guard like a freight train. Clear resin and insulation styled like ice was outright shattered, and the force of it sent Todoroki flying like a ragdoll. His body was still bleeding steam even as he slammed into one of the few remaining upright walls. He slammed through a layer of ice, through drywall and insulation which cratered around his body, before he smashed through the far side and into the dust and frost covered outer room...
“YOU BETTER STEP UP YOUR GAME! IF YOU LOOK DOWN ON ME, THEN I’LL JUST HAVE TO PUSH YOU UNTIL YOU BREAK!”
Bakugou smashed his braced fists together in a flash of sparks and energy, and marched forwards.
From the hole, a spear of ice, deadly sharp, thrust out at Bakugou, only to be contemptuously shattered with a bash of his gauntlets.
Shouto pushed up, his silhouette visible through the hole in the wall, and his voice, ice cold with emotion and hate, echoed out.
“I REFUSE TO USE MY FATHER’S QUIRK!”
And in the second after he declared it as such, the world around Bakugou was nothing but a rushing wall of ice.
Groans echoed through the observation room as all the cameras watching the fight down below on the first floor suddenly flickered and died.
But at the back of the room, Izuku was already watching the screen that showed the new fight, a camera placed above the Heroes’ entrance to the area.
“ONE MINUTE REMAINS.”
Bakugou breathed out, a burst of explosion clearing the space around him as he stared up at the building before him.
And at the uncontrolled glacier that had sprouted from the lowest two floors.
He had been shoved back by the rush of ice, only quick thinking blasting him clear of the spikes and freezing energy.
It had only required blowing himself out the window to get away.
Grinning, he relaxed. Maybe Todoroki was still holding back… But now he had a perfect excuse to try out a new trick.
He leaned forwards, bracing his stance around his right arm, holding up his gauntlet as he flipped the safety switch under its edge and aimed out.
Almost an hour’s worth of sweating and build up since he first donned his armor at the start of class, now let’s see just how much firepower he can put out.
He grinned maniacally, and pulled the trigger.
The glacier shattered before him, ice that had coated the outside of the building sublimating and every window facing him shattering under the pressure wave. Bakugou himself was blinking, having staggered back from the blast as he eyed his work.
For the first three floors of the building, the outer wall had simply vanished, leaving ice and rubble strewn across the floor and around the building. He looked for any trace of Half and Half, and then scoffed as he realized the bottom floor was nothing but massive chunks of ice that blocked his entrance.
He looked up.
Less than a minute, huh?
He grinned, and prepared to move.
Ashido swung her legs back and forth aimlessly, sitting on a metal crate with the bomb resting atop it behind her.
Her shoes had also been taken off and set next to her, and her feet were currently dripping acid at a slow pace, pooling in a low potency puddle that was gradually expanding across the cool concrete floor. Large chunks of it were still frozen and floating around her box, but as she relaxed she could hear the combination of explosions and insults from her partner, while she was tasked with guarding the box.
“ONE MINUTE REMAINS!” she winced at the volume of the announcement, but grinned.
And then she saw it. A shifting ripple in the acid, not much, but just enough to draw her attention.
And then, before she could act, there was a massive flash of bright light, and a shockwave of sound smashed her off her perch, her flailing limbs splashing up acid around her, even as the shocked form of Toru came into visibility, form outlined by the pale pink acid, literally two feet from her.
For a moment, both stared at each other as the sounds of fighting resumed downstairs.
And then Toru lunged.
Todoroki gave a shuddering breath, drawing desperately on the fire of his father to stave off the bone deep chill as he gazed at the shattered floor around him, his glacier reduced to massive chunks of ice that filled the space around him, any cohesion broken under the shockwave.
He stood from his prone position on shaky legs, steam slowly billowing from the ice covered flesh of his body.
Ashido yelped, and twisted, barely dodging an elbow as it swung for her head. “What-”
And then Toru swept her legs and she landed in her own acid puddle. As Toru shifted to try and get to the bomb, Mina was already spinning, kicking her legs out to catch Toru’s, the invisible girl shrieking in surprise as she stumbled to her knees.
Over the intercom, All Might’s voice rang out once more.
Shouto shoved ice away and his eyes went wide as a massive chunk of ice across from him shattered, revealing Bakugou.
Toru growled and twisted, rolling free of Mina as she tried to grapple the invisible teen.
Bakugou grinned and darted forwards. Ice Boy looked exhausted, skin pale and balance shot. Quirk exhaustion, clearly. His hand dropped down to grab what he needed, even as Half and Half tried to stagger into a combat stance.
Mina pushed off and slammed into the crate, cursing as the invisible teen danced by her attack.
Shouto threw his arm forwards, a wave of irregular ice trying to catch Bakugou only for a blast to tear it apart.
Toru smashed her fist into Mina’s side, making the pink skinned girl gasp at the hit before grabbing her shirt collar and twisting, throwing the acid-spewing teen across the floor.
Bakugou slid low and twisted, the red and white teen trying to turn and track him but stumbling. Darting in, Bakugou's hand smacked into Todoroki’s chest, and a white line of the capture tape was stuck to the teen’s shirt.
Mina rolled up, eyes wide as she saw Toru charging the crate with the bomb.
Shouto blinked as his arm was yanked back, eyes losing focus from shock and pain as he felt a line of tension across his chest.
Toru slapped her hands on the bomb and prayed, even as far below her, her partner collapsed, arms bound tightly by the capture tape and body shaking from the strain of overusing his quirk.
“THE VICTOR IS… THE VILLAIN TEAM!”
Toru slammed her head against the crate.
“GOD FUCKING DAMMIT.”
Izuku smirked, eyeing the cameras as the teams slowly were attended too and gathered by small robots and the two pairs of partners gathered together.
‘Good game… but I suppose now I should show off to follow up that display.’
His hands came up, and he tapped Kouda’s side before he began to sign.
-I have a plan.-
Chapter 8: Putting on a Clinic
Izuku is far too high a level, even without a quirk.
But he had to fight for it.
Night 1: 2:02 AM, 68% power.
Izuku blinked, rubbing away the strain of his eyes as he tabbed through the screens quickly.
So far he had been careful to conserve power, going so far as to manually check both halls and spend plenty of time simply listening for any auditory cues.
However, he was slowly growing nervous. The sounds and echoes of the animatronics moving was constantly putting him on edge, and the faint glimpses of them on the screen only made it worse.
He glanced at the clock once more, before putting the screen to sleep again.
Time: 2:05 AM
Iida and Tokoyami glanced down the street, the still smoking and ice covered remains of the original test building were clearly visible, while before them was another basic building. As the two heroes in training stretched and readied, they began to talk.
“I possess engine augmented legs, allowing me to accelerate quite fast. Yourself?”
“I carry my darker half, his ethereal form quite dangerous. Darkness increases the depth of my power.” From under the hem of Tokoyami’s cloak, a shadowy black bird peeked out, its shining yellow eyes peering up at Iida.
The taller teen took a second to process before nodding awkwardly. “Well, shall we plan on how to engage our enemies?”
“If you possess speed, then perhaps you should lead, while I provide rear cover as we clear.”
“I suppose that is the best way to proceed.”
The two fell back into an awkward silence as they waited for the five minutes to end.
Izuku glanced around the room, the bomb having been moved by the efforts of the two teens. Turning, he signed to his comrade.
-You okay guarding?-
-Yes. Be safe!-
Izuku looked back once as he left the room, Koda already leaning out of the window as a small flock of birds began to gather on the far side of the building from the Hero team’s entrance.
Stepping through the door, he thought back to the note that he had received from Hatsume.
‘I got the guns and the main armor finished up, but the new sword, your special weapon and your cutter are giving me trouble. Mask is done though, left hand pocket under the armor cloth. Good luck, test them well!!’
Mouth twitching slightly in amusement at the memory, he slid his hand under the half skirt at his side, pulling forth a thick, curved mouthguard-looking hunk of metal. He brought it up, and with a small whirring click, it attached to the metal gorget that covered his neck. As it covered his jaw, he breathed deep, and pressed two buttons to activate it.
Whirs and clicks echoed as plates shifted and realigned, coming out to wrap around his jaw and face, thin flexible plates reaching up ‘til they aligned over his cheekbones and nose, forming a smooth, curved grill with a design almost like bared teeth, his breath coming out as a faint hiss when he exhaled. As the guard finished, he closed his eyes, feeling two squared pieces shifting to cover his sockets as a third, wider plate wrapped from temple to temple over it.
A second, and then a faint beep, and the darkness that covered his eyes was replaced by a faint blue light.
He opened his eyes to see the world around him washed in a blue hue, the darkest corners of the building now lit clearly to his eyes. Tapping the side of the visor, the blue faded away as he turned off the UV of the helmet, leaving him with the world looking slightly washed out instead.
He tapped the earpiece he wore, and checked it, hearing the channel open in his ears. “Hunter. Comm check.” His voice, normally fairly montone, sounded mechanical and threatening to his own ears, the muffling of his face mask more than enough to remove the last traces of intonation.
That could be annoying in the field. He’d have to check with Hatsume about it later.
“Watcher, Comm ch-check!” Koda’s fairly high-pitched voice echoed across the communicators clearly.
“Good. Let me know when you’re ready.”
Izuku nodded, and shifted his shotgun from his back to his hands, reflexively checking the chamber to see the vibrant purple case of the paint shells he was handed out. Checking with Hatsume via text, she had confirmed they were solid shells that would splatter on impact, and not when leaving the barrel.
So he had quite a bit of range for a shotgun.
Clicking the slide back, the chamber closed and Izuku slung it back across his shoulders.
If he was correct, he had just under two minutes left until the conflict truly began. Reaching in his pocket, he unhooked and pulled out a braided paracord bundle, black thin cord strong enough to support his weight if necessary. Nodding, he also reached in and pulled a small box of loop headed pitons from another pocket.
“200 feet of paracord and 5 floors to cover… Better get going.”
Stepping forward, he got to work.
Time: 4:42 AM
Izuku growled as he heard the repeated clanging of metal on metal from behind the dropped door.
“GO AWAY YOU STUPID FUCKING BIRD!”
He looked back out the other door, fingers rapping on the door frame as he glanced around, tensed and ready for another assault.
With a final echoing clank of metal on metal, the hammering stopped.
Turning back, Izuku frowned, and breathed deep and slow, trying to calm himself be-
He could see it, a split second of red fur and metal, far more rugged than the others, as that FUCKING FOX, ran at him down the hallway.
Ducking back inside the room, Izuku slapped the button to drop the door, grimacing as he considered the cost of the power he was about to use, just in time for the slam of metal on metal as the fox shoulder checked the door.
He darted to the other door, and slammed the light for just a second, the form of Chica, the goddamn chicken robot, outlined in the light before he turned it off.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
He rested his head against the metal of the door, trying to let the cool steel help with the burning that he could feel in his eyes.
Almost 5 hours down…
Just one more…
Bakugou glared at the camera screens showing the feed from the building, feeling the strange itch and flex of his muscles as he clenched and unclenched his fists.
Deku was more than smart, he was dangerous. Bakugou knew it. And it was on display here.
The green haired teen was cutting between feeds fast and loose, darting from location to location with sure and swift movement, leaving behind coils and half hidden loops and lines of paracord, before he turned and bolted up the stairs to the top floor as Bakugou's mental timer hit ten seconds.
At zero, the armored teen was opening a window on the top floor, the shotgun no longer across his back, but braced by his shoulder as he took aim.
“THE VILLAINS’ PREPTIME IS OVER, HEROES, YOU-”
All Might’s announcement was cut off by two quick booms, gunfire muted by the walls but still clearly audible over the system.
Following that was the deep mechanical growl of the teen over the comms.
Time: 5:37 AM
Izuku glanced up, eyes stinging as he put the computer to sleep once more.
“Twenty-three minutes… and five percent.”
He looked around and stood, heading to the doors to manually check them once more. He was tired in a way that Slender had never pushed him to, his eyes burning from stress. His hearing was fading in and out as he tried to focus, straining to hear any footsteps or clunking gears approaching. He glanced out the right door, leaning heavily on the frame as he looked down the long hallway.
Stepping back, he turned and heard it.
A single click.
Too close, too close, too-
He lunged across the security room, smacking the button to shut the door even as the purple enameled frame of Freddy fucking Fazbear latched on the corner.
The door slammed shut, but Izuku could feel it - the creeping sense of dread, a thousand times worse than seeing something like his phone almost dead.
As if to punctuate that dread, the thudding of metal knuckles on the door began. A morbid, slow heartbeat that was waiting for him.
“Five percent left, a door uses one percent of power every four minutes, two doors is half the time for each percent, which means it uses one percent every two minutes. I lose one every six to seven minutes to minor drain. If I was only dealing with the minor drain it would give me 30 minutes... with the drain of one door it’ll be 12… and if they come for the other door, it’ll be even faster. Shit.”
Izuku mumbled and paced to the other door, checking if it was clear for just a second as he kept muttering. His mind was running the math, but it was all coming up short. It didn’t matter what he did or how much he compared the numbers… it wasn’t enough.
I need 10 minutes that I don’t have.
It was only emphasized as Freddy slammed the door again.
Iida flinched as the wall next to his head seemed to burst, bright purple goo splattering at his side, even as another slammed into the wall just next to Tokoyami, purple paint splattering across the dark feathers and the shoulder of his cloak.
Iida dove behind a dumpster nearby and Tokoyami darted across the ground to another piece of cover, a pile of crates that rested against the wall. It was only then, as Iida glanced back, that his adrenaline froze in his veins. There. Next to where he and Tokoyami stood, were two rounds perfectly spaced to emulate where their heads had been.
Reaching up to the left of his helmet, he pulled the gloved fingers away to reveal they were dripping purple.
‘...he could have killed us in the first second of the fight!?’
Iida turned to see the open window, overlooking the courtyard.
‘That was our folly. Were we really so ignorant as to not take cover from the windows?’
Tokoyami’s voice came over the comms, whispering softly.
“Iida. You okay?”
“...Yes. I suppose we have to move in. Keep to cover.”
“Of course. You as well.”
Izuku watched from the window next to the one he had shot from as the two heroes cautiously darted from cover to cover. He scowled at the thought that they considered that protection. If he was using an actual gun, only a few pieces of cover would keep them safe. He glared at the shotgun chamber for a second before stashing it across his back again.
“Note: new issue with paint rounds… No penetrative power.”
Pushing off from the window, he headed to the west side of the building while the heroes slowly advanced from the north, and opened another window, the 15 meters of cord coiled next to it nailed securely to the wall by three black pitons.
Swinging the window open silently with a slow, careful gesture, he tossed the rope out of it and turned back to the stairwell.
He took the steps two at a time, footsteps quick and yet nearly silent as he moved down to the second floor. Standing there silently, he listened. He could hear the heavy footsteps of Iida as he walked to the door, and Tokoyami was audible by the sound of heavy cloth rasping over stone as he crouched next to the armored teen.
Grinning, Izuku flicked the safety on the handgun off.
Iida and Tokoyami breathed a sigh of relief as they reached the door.
Raising his hand, Iida began to count down to breach.
Glass shattered above him and Iida looked up, with eyes widening behind his helmet, as time seemed to slow.
A mask reaching up to lanky green curls that looked at him... an empty blue glowing visor stretching across and concealing his eyes as the rest of his face was covered by a frankly terrifying metal mask, pieces flowing to form a snarling face of metal.
The masked and seemingly merciless form of Midoriya Izuku looked down, one hand holding the window frame as the other leveled the handgun at them.
Two shots rang out, more paint rounds, these red, smashing into the wall just next to their heads once more. In the moment of shock and silence, there was a chuckle that sounded all the more threatening just by the lack of emotion it contained.
With a shift of weight, Midoriya vanished back inside.
Behind the still stunned Iida, Tokoyami spoke up, his form shifting as Dark Shadow expressed himself in full, the dark projection wreathing up and around the back of the raven faced teen. “...I do believe we are facing a far more terrifying villain than we expected.”
And with that, Iida was filled with a forceful drive to prove himself, to show his opponent that he was not to be toyed with.
“We cannot let him keep the momentum!”
Thrusters firing, Iida kicked the door in, opening up into the central hall of the floor, the stairway in plain sight. Iida took only three steps, Tokoyami darting in to cover them as they entered the building. They had barely taken in the area, when Midoriya dropped into view from the stairwell.
Hanging upside down, with his feet braced on the underside of the railing a floor above them.
His left hand was clutching tightly to a loop of black cord tied above him as the right came up (or down, as the case may be), training the gun on the two heroes.
However, even as Iida was moving to dodge, Dark Shadow darted forth and curled around the heroes, solidifying to take the attacks with a screech of pride and anger. Two red splatters of paint covered the black before dripping onto the floor.
“...finally, you fight back.”
With that parting comment, Midoriya seemed to vanish from view once more, pulling himself back up the stairwell with a low chuckle that echoed, amplified by his mask, off the building around them.
“Good. I was worried this would be boring.”
And with that, the lights of the building went dark.
Koda glanced up and took a deep breath before looking at the window and the various crates surrounding the room. Almost a hundred birds sat perched on edges and window sills. Sparrows, pigeons, swallows, crows, and even two kite hawks. With another deep breath, he called out.
“Get going, please!”
With a flurry of wings, they lept and took flight, swirling around Koda in a myriad of feathers, before funneling out the window, and then beginning to flutter and circle the building itself.
Reaching up he took a steadying breath, and tapped his comms.
“Midoriya, you’ve got your distraction.”
He glanced up as the lights cut out, and nodded. It seems the rats had found the power box.
Tokoyami backed up, his mental grip on Dark Shadow tight as he focused. The long hallways were dim, but not truly dark - mainly because of the light reflecting from the windows and the open doorway into the corridor, as well as a faint glow of sunlight shining down the center of the stairwell. Even with that much light, it was dark enough that Dark Shadow had doubled, almost tripled, in size.
And with an increase in size, came an increase in his quirk’s will.
‘Rush. We can take them.’
‘No! We’ve underestimated him twice and lost in all but name each time. Now, we be careful.’
‘Time... short. Act or lose.’
Growling, Tokoyami begrudgingly agreed.
“Iida, we’re losing time! You head up and start searching for the bomb, I’ll hunt down and keep the dark knight occupied.”
The white armored teen paused, but nodded, rushing up the stairs and darting through the door into the second floor. Tokoyami had been paying attention, however, and stepped into the dark shaft of the stairwell, glancing down at the faint shadow that was cast across the bottom of the landing, before moving his gaze far above to see the armored and masked form of Midoriya far above him, leaning over the stairwell of the third floor landing.
“Come to keep me company, as your ally searches for the bomb?” Came the call, metallic tone echoing even the handgun was aimed down. At the bottom of the stairwell, Dark Shadow stretched and twisted up.
“I shall be your shadowed hero, villain...”
“Then I shall be your sunlit villain, hero.”
With that, Tokoyami lifted his arms and sent the mass of Dark Shadow twisting and clawing up the stairwell, gashes ripping through stone as the possession quirk attacked.
Midoriya remained unimpressed. “Tsk, no control!”
And through the shadowy mass, Tokoyami could only stare as deep blue burned to life in the visor of Izuku’s mask. Where Izuku looked, Dark Shadow withered, flinching back before it could reach the villain. A ring of steel on leather, and a sword, crude but sharp, struck out, severing the arm of the shadow and making it lose its grip. In less than a second, the arm was already regrown, but by then the next action had already been played.
Izuku’s left hand came down, and with a flare of sparks and bright red light, he struck the tip of a magnesium flare to life. The glow made Dark Shadow retreat in fear, even as Midoriya lunged forwards, into the darkness of the shaft, sword and flare held out to meet the shadow.
Time: 5:51 AM
Izuku breathed deep, hands slowly opening and closing as the light flickered above him.
The doors were both open, Freddy having left to wander the building, as if it were a joke. As if he was gonna let him live.
That was a fucking lie.
Izuku stretched slowly, arms and legs limber.
If he was going to lose, then he was going to make them work for it.
The lights went out, but Izuku was already moving, charging out into the black hallway, eyes already adjusting to the dark.
Slender did teach him something, after all.
Tokoyami darted away, the shifting and flickering form of Dark Shadow flowing back and forth with increasingly weak and pained attempts at countering the force of the enemy. The flare was sending Dark Shadow flinching back with each sweep and burning thrust, while the sword was harrying the teen himself, long tears appearing in his cloak as the blunted tip caught and pulled across it. Tokoyami’s repeated failure to be able to disengage was sending shockwaves of pain across his body from numerous jabs and taps across his arms and sides.
‘In a real fight, I would have died by no-’
His eyes widened with that realization, and then with a flicker of force and a low sweeping leg, Tokoyami was knocked off his feet, falling back to the ground. His eyes fluttered shut from pain and regret.
Two thuds of ringing metal echoed out, and suddenly Tokoyami’s cloak was his prison. Two large combat knives had been driven halfway through the floor into the concrete, one under each arm and at his sides, driven through his cloak and into the stone to pin him down.
Turning and sheathing his sword, Midoriya strode away, his voice ringing out.
“A quirk is no excuse to leave a body weak. Train hard, Tokoyami.”
As Tokoyami dropped his head back, he stared up at the ceiling in the half lit hallway.
And then he began to chuckle to himself.
“I do believe, that we have just been owned.”
His laughter deepened, and he tugged at his arms, feeling the restriction of the cloak binding him tight.
Speaking up, so his earpiece could hear, “All Might, I do believe that this is me out for the match. I’ll wait here for the fight to end.”
“...Of course, young Tokoyami. It shall only be a few minutes longer.”
Tenya ducked and weaved around corners, darting across the third floor. Last time he had passed through the stairwell, it was to the sounds of blades and shadows fighting.
He glanced around the last room, and growled in frustration. Inside his helmet, the timer he had set was counting down. Six minutes left.
He turned back to the main corridor, making for the stairs.
Standing against the railing, arms crossed and head tilted, was Midoriya.
“One down... You’re all that's left.”
The bland metallic tone set Tenya’s nerves on fire, and the click of the comms only made it worse.
As Tokoyami admitted that he was out of the match, Tenya breathed deep and looked back at the villain.
“So, hero? What's your play?”
The flare of exhaust, the growl of the engine, and the humming power surging up his legs.
And beneath his mask, Izukus lips curled into a slight smile.
Time: 5:54 AM
Izuku rolled over a table, even as Freddy’s fist came crashing down over the wooden surface.
As he lunged up and away, Bonnie came around the next table, servos and springs clicking as it tried to box him in. He kicked the chair next to him up and at the animatronic even as he jumped atop the next table. Foxy was wandering the edge of the dining room, waiting in the wings for an escape attempt.
Freddy, Chica, and Bonnie were all trying to box Izuku in, spitting up to circle and close in on him.
He lept from one table to the next, avoiding Chica’s reach as he moved closer and closer to the stage, the animatronics moving in after him.
“That's right, come and get me, you tin-hearted morons!”
He was forced back once more, and seeing no recourse, he jumped up onto the stage, turning in the dark to see the advancing animatronics.
‘Just a little longer, come on… come on!’
As Iida darted forwards, he didn’t see a rope that had been uncoiled and stretched across the hallway, didn’t see that in the darkness, Izuku had prepared a rope, that his hand held capture tape in his grasp.
But he felt it.
His ankle caught the rope, tripping him up as he crossed the last threshold.
He stumbled forwards, and Izuku stepped to the side, almost gently patting the teen on the back, before shoving him over the railing of the stairs.
With a crash, Iida cleared the gap in the center of the stairwell. He landed on the far side of the railing, armor cracking as he slammed at high speeds into the wall under the window, glass shattering from the impact. Blinking in dazed confusion, Iida began to clumsily stagger up, hand on the wall for support.
He looked up, eyes unfocused, only to be met by the sight of two birds, large hawks, who were staring at him with gimlet eyes.
As his vision focused, Iida’s gaze trailed up to see more than just two birds.
There were dozens.
All of them perched on railings and stairs leading up to the skylight far above.
They twitched and shifted and hopped around, wings fluttering… but almost all of them were focused on him.
Stepping out from the landing above, Midoriya and his blue visored mask stared down at him with the flock of birds.
“Reckless. You let your temper get the best of you.”
Iida staggered as he reached up, pulling off his helmet and gasping for air.
“You… foul villain…”
Above him, a low, echoing metallic sigh came out, before the mask began to fold away, dropping into a thick metallic jaw piece that Izuku pulled off.
“You’ve lost, ‘hero.’”
Tenya staggered and growled out.
“I… I can still fight!”
“No. You’ve lost. Check your arm.”
Iida looked down, and his eyes widened at seeing a loose wrap of capture tape around his wrist.
“What… but how-”
“The birds got you when you blacked out a moment ago and reached up to grab the railing. I’m fairly sure you’ve got a concussion. And your comm seems to be missing, ‘cause All Might just called the match.”
Iida blinked and reached up, surprised when he realized his comm was indeed missing.
“We... we lost.”
Izuku chuckled, with the faintest hint of humor in his voice. “You did.” he strode down the stairs to Iida, the birds scattering to leave the building through the open windows on the top floor, just another gambit unused and unneeded. “Good Game.”
Time: 5:59 AM
Izuku screamed as his arms were held down. He looked up and cursed as the animatronics held him down on the table. Chica and Foxy held his arms, while Bonnie was pinning his legs, one of which was clearly broken. He cursed and twisted, but it only brought him more pain.
Then, slow, methodical footsteps approached.
Freddy was coming, and in his hands was an animatronic. It was shaped like a young girl in a bright pink dress where the paint wasn’t flaking off. Freddy approached, and Izuku could only thrash more as the animatronic girl was set on the table next to him. It hissed and clicked and twisted, and like a coffin, it began to open up, springs and gears shifting as the outer casing revealed a far too small space, shaped like a skeleton.
Izuku twisted, only to shout in pain as he felt his right shoulder pop and dislocate.
With terrifying synchronization from the animatronics hold him, he was lifted up, the three of them dragging him through the air to hang over the empty animatronic.
With a strange sense of care, he was lowered, his feet hitting it first. However, as soon as his legs were held tight against the casing, it closed and he screamed in pain.
He glanced down to see blood pooling from the joints and gaps of the metal, mixed with fibers and ripped up flesh that were once his legs.
He screamed and twisted, dislocating his other shoulder with a jerk as the pain overwhelmed him.
And then, even as Freddy was about to lower him, his vision went black.
The pain faded away…
And a glowing white 6:00 AM appeared in his vision, with a comforting chime of bells echoing through the darkness.
As the 6:00 AM faded away…
A counter appeared.
1/7 Nights Complete.
Chapter 9: Respawn, Die, Repeat
The aftermath of a performance, and a mask slowly slips.
As All Might stared at the screen, tapping the commands to have the Recovery Bots come to collect Iida, he reviewed what he had just watched, as the students behind him whispered and gossiped about the same.
Young Midoriya was an enigma, and his actions were inconsistent with what All Might had been warned of. His actions and techniques were refined, yes, but he had shown no real drive or intention to end the fight at the start. The counting, of how many times he could have eliminated his opponents at the start, was… terrifying. Just at the start, the match could have been ended instantly, but instead the teen had playfully unnerved his opponents. All Might’s trained eyes and combat experience also showed through at the realization that many of Midoriya’s tricks, traps and surprises went largely unused. The coils of rope, the open windows, even the birds, a distraction, had been fairly useless in the long run.
“Young Midoriya, please escort Iida to the front of the building. A transport to the infirmary and Recovery Girl’s attention should see him back to class soon enough.”
“Understood,” the curt and montone reply made All Might’s skin crawl. Where was the joy, the expression of interest that was evident in the teen’s actions but not his voice? It was simply… unnatural.
On the screen, Midoriya grabbed the taller teen’s arm and pulled Iida close, hooking the teens arm around his shoulders and bracing as he assisted the speedster to the first floor.
‘Or maybe...’ All Might mused to himself, sharp eyes catching a building tension in Izuku’s frame from the contact. ‘It's far more natural for him to keep people away than anyone could expect.’
At the bottom, Tokoyami was still pinned, trying to get Dark Shadow enough leverage to yank the knives free. The quirk was grumbling, shifting and twisting to grab the knives, but since couldn’t brace against his companion as he normally would, it was unable to make the knives come free.
As footsteps approached, the raven-headed teen looked to see Midoriya supporting his comrade, who’s armor looked cracked and head lolled somewhat, as opposed to his once perfect posture.
“What happened to him?” Tokoyami asked, as the he passed by.
“Tripwire, and the stairwell.” Realizing that was likely the crashing sound the raven-haired teen had heard earlier, he nodded and laid back down. “When he’s taken care of, would you be so kind–”
The sentence was cut off as out of the stairwell, Koda glanced down the hall, stoney head scratched at sheepishly and a large rat on his shoulder. “I–I can help!”
Midoriya glanced back from where he neared the doorway out and nodded. “Pull towards his feet and up.”
With that, the two armored teens left the building.
A few minutes of getting his grip and figuring out how to crouch to get the right leverage, and the knives slowly came loose, jerking up and being set down nearby.
“Thank you for your assistance, Animal Speaker.” Tokoyami nodded, Dark Shadow shaking its head in thanks as well.
The rocky teen grinned and rubbed his neck, before looking up as Midoriya strode through the front entrance and back down the hallway by himself, the tall red boots silent and black cloth hanging down from around his shoulders swaying. As he approached, his hands came up as if to sign, before he glanced at Tokoyami and spoke instead.
“Koda, I’m gonna gather my remaining supplies back up. Say thanks to the birds for me, and sorry they didn’t get to perform their act.” The monotone voice was soft and careful, even as the teen crouched and picked up his knives, a smooth motion sliding them behind his back under the loose cloak he still wore tucked into hidden sheathes in the small of his back.
As he strode past, Tokoyami spoke up, picking up the discarded red plastic flare that had burned out only a minute before the match. “Thank you for the match. It was quite… illuminating.”
As Izuku glanced back, lips twitching, a hint of humor in his eyes.
With that, the wraith like figure wandered up the stairs.
Koda blinked and tilted his head. “Was… that a pun?”
Tokoyami merely gave a slow blink before he walked away, as Dark Shadow giggled inside his cloak.
Izuku breathed deep as he collected the looped ropes from around the top floor, and pulled a small crowbar from his pouch to recover the pitons that held them ready.
‘Back window escape route, main stairwell rapid descent, the 5th to 3rd floor rappel rope, Tripwires 1-5, Snare hoops, anchor cord for second floor landing…’
Checking off the rope lengths and locations in his mind, he slid the last piton back in his pocket, before pulling one of the two knives he used to pin Tokoyami.
The tip was deformed from impact and the top third of the blade had been warped and dulled by slamming it into concrete. Sadly, he had expected this. Just like his blade was rough and poor quality, these had been cheap acquisitions, more from random junk shops and novelty stores than an actual bladesmith. He was more surprised they hadn’t snapped under the force he subjected them to. He would have to requisition more blades from Hatsume.
God, he missed that parrying dagger he had picked up in New Londo. It had been extremely useful as a backup, until he broke it off in Havel’s eye. His eyes closed in remembrance and he could almost feel it. The long walk through the Undead burg to the outer wall, avoiding archers and firebombs while slaying dozens of undead. He had rested at the top of the tower, below where he had defeated the Taurus Demon and the path to Solaire’s perch.
And then he had descended the empty tower, passing through store rooms until he reached the bottom floor.
Where Havel, the massive knight who wielded a dragon's fang as a club, awaited him.
The fight had been brutal, and when his blade, one of the many longswords in the realm, had snapped under a poorly blocked hit from the fang, Izuku had acted on desperate impulse.
He still remembered the feeling of the blade sliding through his helmet’s slitted face, cutting off Havel’s chuckle of victory. He could hear the scream of pain as his desperate last trick struck home, the sound and feel of the blade snapping as the knight had reared back, the club swinging wildly and knocking Izuku against the wall, caving in his latest breastplate and breaking bones, but not quite fatal enough to keep him down.
He remembered the sense of satisfaction as the shattered longsword he had kept hold of had slid past the knights heavy armor, sneaking up under the arm raised to his face, and into the knight’s heart.
He also remembered leaving the bloody and far too heavy remains of Havel and his armor to rust and fade, only taking his ring as a sign of victory.
Breathing out in a sharp exhale, Izuku stood, tossing the knife in his hand up and catching it absently as he turned. He had wasted enough time here. There were more fights to watch, and he expected the fighters from the last match would return soon, all but Kacchan having been sent to the infirmary to get patched up before his match had begun.
However, as he strode out the front door of the building, knives and gear all stowed, he was met with a surprise.
Freddy Night 3
Freddy Death count
“''Hello, hello? Hey you're doing great! Most people don’t last this long. I mean, you know, they usually move on to other things by now. I'm not implying that they died. Th-th-that’s not what I meant. Uh, anyway I better not take up too much of your time. Things start getting real tonight.
Uh... Hey, listen, I had an idea: if you happen to get caught and want to avoid getting stuffed into a Freddy suit, uhh, try playing dead! You know-”
Izuku reached back and tapped the receiver, the voicemail cutting off as he shoved the myriad of crumbled papers and ads from the desk to the floor.
“Sorry phone buddy, but I’ve heard you say that way too much.”
He finished clearing the desk and he reached out. The mirror mounted on the wall was lifted and he held it, glancing at the deep bags under his eyes he could see in the reflection, and the fact his hair was slightly longer. “It’s been what, a month? I need to check next time I die.”
He set the mirror against the wall behind him, angled to let him see down the left hallway from the desk. The posters were ripped down next, and Izuku tossed them in the trash can, whistling as he reached out and tapped the right door control and shut it on Chika’s face. With that done, he stood and stretched before the desk. He held out his hand, and spoke clearly.
A flicker of light and a leather bound notebook landed in his hand, and he slammed it to the table with gusto, flipping it open to a pair of pages covered in math, a sketch of the rooms, and a list of times and events. The bottom left corner was stained by rust colored splatters.
“Alright, let’s go you mechanical fucks.” Izuku growled as he unplugged the fan from the wall, lips twitching as a smile formed. “I want to play.”
In the darkness beyond the office, the animatronics moved to meet him.
Bakugou leaned against the wall, hands clenching and flexing as he fed more sweat into the cylinders around his wrists, topping off his ammo.
Some of that sweat was from the anxious churning in his gut as he watched his childhood friend tear his opponents apart.
Grace, skill, weapons, tactics… Everything Katsuki once considered to be things he was unmatched at. And for years, he was right. But he had watched the streams, found highlights of the various games and more well-known bits of Izuku’s imprisonment. From the compilations of him out-running Slender in the early days, to the far more well known Outlast Final Run. Katsuki knew that the ‘watchers’ as they called themselves was a fairly small community in the grand scheme of things, but once they realized that Izuku felt and lived through every game, they had dedicated forums and videos to breaking down tactics and skills, to hunting up dog-eared two hundred year old game maps and playthroughs. Hoping and waiting until they could help ‘The Runner’ in the games.
After game four… they got their chance.
Bakugou remembers dozens of hours where he was sitting staring at a screen, much like today. And when that gate opened, when the video stream of Izuku, face pale and exhausted, eyes manic and with bags so deep and dark they looked black, stared out from the screen.
He also remembers the messages he typed, but never sent.
What could he say, in the end? Even he didn't know.
Regardless, Bakugou watched as two of the the hero students made their way into the control room to murmurs. All Might turned to the two students, and an eyebrow arched in confusion.
“Ah, young Koda, where is your partner?” Koda opened his mouth to answer before Tokoyami cut in.
“Midoriya-san is currently recovering the gear he used to trap and prepare the room. He stated he would only take a minute or two.”
The teacher nodded and glanced at the cameras, while Katsuki mimicked him, seeing only a glimpse as Deku walked off of one screen onto another, passing outside.
“Hey, Tokoyami right?” the voice was excited and brash, and Bakugou glanced over to see spiky red hair as another teen walked up to the cloaked crow guy.
“Indeed.. and you are Kirishima, correct?”
“Heh, yeah. Anyway, I was wondering how the hell you lost that fight man! I mean, your quirk is really flashy and cool, and he ripped right through it! Did he use his quirk to counter yours or something?”
As the crow seemed to shuffle awkwardly, Katsuki let out a snort of derision.
“The nerd doesn’t have a quirk. That was sheer skill and experience.”
The rest of the class turned towards him in confusion, before the door opened once more and the dangerous nerd in question walked through, eyebrow quirked in an expression of amusement.
Mainly at the small hawk perched on his armored shoulder, glancing around.
Honestly, Izuku didn't know it really care why most of them were looking at him like that. Was it the hawk on his arm? You’d think that would be pretty low on the list of weird occurrences. Or maybe his internal scale was just fucked up more than he thought.
Bringing his arms up, careful to not disrupt the hawk, he signed to Koda.
-It seems I've picked up hitchhiker. Would you ask why he stuck around?-
Koda blinked and walked to Izuku’s side, voice dropping as he started talking with the hawk, the larger teen’s natural height putting him just a few inches taller than the bird. While that happened, the rest of the class seemed to be frozen in a state of confusion and hesitation. Katsuki was the one who seemed to really be willing to talk, but seemed too preoccupied with smirking and watching the rest of the class.
Now he was gonna have to solve the mystery by himse–
“Are you really quirkless?”
Izuku gave a slow, languid blink, as he turned his head. He ignored the sudden bloodstains on the walls and the sound of a corpse hitting the floor as he focused.
The voice came from the tall, sophisticated-looking girl across the room, black hair spiked out behind her head as grey eyes assessed the teen.
“I am. Is that a problem for you?”
He was calm, you could even describe him as monotone. The blood that rushed down his fingertips was fake, nothing but an afterthought.
“I’m more curious as to where a quirkless teenager managed to pick up more refined skills than most heroes I’ve met.”
Izuku let his heart rate pulse faster, let his reigns slip looser, just for a second, just to give him the clarity and freedom to really transmit his thoughts.
He slowly stretched his mouth into a bright and cheerful smile, his eyes closing as he let it stretch just a bit too wide, a bit too sharp. Even through his lashes he could see the faces pale, the eyes blink in confusion and bodies shift in unease.
“Why. I learned from experience.” His voice was sharper and higher pitched, snarkier, a bit of bite, of venom, of sarcastic glee. He let his emotions leak for just a second, before his smile faded like mist in the morning sun, his green eyes gleaming dark as his heart rate slowed once more. “That enough of an explanation?”
He watched with careful eyes as Yaoyorozu Momo slowly and deliberately swallowed, before she nodded once. He had to give it to her, she hid her fear well. “Yes. I apologise for… overstepping my grounds.”
The rest of the class seemed to be ready to fall into a half terrified silence, before All Might cleared his throat, clearly not having expected being ignored. “Well then! Since most of our teams are here this round, let’s review.”
Tuning out All Might as he began to speak to the rest of the class about the fight, but keeping enough awareness to follow along. Izuku’s eyes glanced to Koda, who’s hands signed a few short sentences that explained the situation.
-Young Bird, curious of you. Calls you the Human... Raptor, I guess? Wants to learn from you by watching. Offers to provide a pair of eyes. Will assist me as well.-
Izuku gave another slow blink, one that conveyed curiosity and consideration, before shifting his eyes to meet the sharp gaze of the raptor still on his shoulder, before his hands signed back.
-Tell him sure, but he’ll need to practice with us later.-
Koda seemed taken aback somewhat, but nodded,before leaning in to whisper to the bird. Izuku made a mental note to ask what type of bird, and what types of food and needs it would want from them.
“-MVP of the match?”
The class shifted and murmured, before a girl with deep purple hair and earphone looking lines off her ears raised her hand.
“I would assume it’s Midoriya. He was on top and focused on the enemy team the entire match. The only reason why he wouldn’t be the MVP is that he didn’t go for those kill shots early on.”
Speaking softly, so softly he doubted even Koda at his side could easily hear, Izuku gave her a hint.
“What would a fight that ends so fast teach?”
His eyes caught Jiro’s tense shoulders, and the flinch from a taller masked teen with six shifting arms across the room. Curious. Two with hearing that caught that.
Regardless, All Might was already breathing in to speak.
“Well said, young Jiro! Midoriya was indeed directly in control of almost the entire match, and Koda performed his support role quite well! You could not hear it, sadly, but young Koda took out the lights, and was providing information and scouting via his animal companions.”
As the class muttered and spoke in understanding, Koda shifted under the occasional glances while Izuku shifted his arm up, the hawk leaping to his gauntleted arm and then up to Koda’s shoulder.
The presence of an animal companion almost instantly seemed to calm Izuku’s teammate from agitated to simply uneasy.
As the class moved on, Izuku watched as the paired teams began to leave.
He slid a small pocket book from his pocket, flipping it open and glancing at the matchups he had marked down earlier.
Shouji Mezo and Mineta Minoru defending against Aoyama Yuga and Asui Tsuyu.
Following that would be Yaoyorozu Momo and Jirou Kyouka against Sato Rikido and Sero Hanta, and the final match would be Uraraka Ochako and Kirishima Eijiro against Ojiro Mashirao and Kaminari Denki.
Flipping to a clean page, Izuku kicked a foot back to rest against the wall and sat on the heel of his boot, knee up as a desk as he focused. He watched the screens, the current group using the same building Izuku and Koda had. With a slow breath, he let himself diffuse his attention, eyes only flickering to focus when something was important on the monitors.
He ignored the sound of children's music that began to softly play, haunting his thoughts.
Freddy Night 3
Freddy Death count
Still. Relaxed but still. Don’t move… don’t blink… don’t shift….
Izuku’s eyes watched while he kept his heartbeat slow.
‘Three, two, one.’
Izuku rolled out from under the dining room booth table and leaped behind the marching Bonnie, darting forwards to grab the last instrument off the stage before the animatronic could turn to him, and vaulting from the stage to another table before skidding around the corner and darting back down the hall into the office, grinning as he eyed his collection resting under the phone.
He had stolen all their instruments, and he had plenty of time left.
He checked the camera, quickly.
“Alright… 23 percent and an hour left…. Yeah, that’ll work.”
He sat on the desk chair and breathed deeply.
He knew he was insane. That he was being stupid setting these goals for himself.
But the rush, the emotion, was wonderful. The adrenaline of facing them, the rush of accomplishing something after so long.
Even as he reached out and his hand hit the button to close the door, only the faintest form of Bonnie's angry mechanical expression visible as the barrier slammed shut, Izuku giggled.
He was running on euphoria. But he could tell things would get worse soon.
Phone guy… Was nervous in the day three message.
And Izuku was getting bad vibes about tomorrow.
And that was not even considering how strained, how weird, Izuku’s mind felt anymore. The long up to six hour sessions, the stress, the constant state of alertness….
He was changing.
And he wasn’t sure how it would end.
Chapter 10: Wall Glitching
Izuku takes notes, and in the past he breaks rules.
Night 4:1:06 AM
Freddy Death count: 51
Izuku knelt down and tied his shoes on, checking they were tight, the tall red and black boots gleaming in the halflight of the office. Behind him, the phone rang, before clicking on.
“Hello, hello? Hey! Hey, wow, day 4. I knew you could do it!”
Izuku breathed deep, blinking away a tear from his eye as he stood up glancing at his pitch black jeans and long sleeve shirt. In the dark, he looked almost invisible, and from a pocket he pulled his beanie and a black mask that would wrap around his face.
“Uh, hey, listen, I may not be around to send you a message tomorrow.” the echo of banging began to play behind the guys voice as Izuku pulled the mask on. “banging* It's-It's been a bad night here for me. Um, I-I'm kinda glad that I recorded my messages for you, -uh, when I did.”
Izuku breathed deep, and tucked his hair under the black of his beanie before stretching. His eyes roamed across both closed doors.
“Uh, hey, do me a favor? Maybe… maybe sometime, uh, you could check inside those suits in the back room? I-, uh, I'm gonna to try to hold out until someone checks. Maybe it won’t be so bad.” the sound of banging grew louder, more aggressive. “Uh, I-I-I-I always wondered what was in all those empty heads back there.”
Izuku stood tall and let out a slow hissed exhale past his mask. Two chimes echoed out, each one out of sync. One from the phone behind him. And one from out in the pizzeria.
From the phone a deep moan echoed out.
Before the sound of the phone guy’s death could play once more, Izuku reached out and tapped the button to end the recording. He felt sick. He felt… like he had cracked and fractured. That things that made sense, things that were inherently Midoriya Izuku, were… tilted and misshapen. He had woken up… only a few runs ago. The first time he had come into night 4. That recording… It had snapped him out of it, had dragged him back from the edge of his madness.
What happened to being a hero? What happened to sacrifice, to joy and smiling as he saved people?
Izuku tried to smile, but the face behind his mask wasn’t one of joy.
It was a snarl of hate.
“Alright you fuckers.”
Izuku cracked his knuckles, and braced, waiting as the screen on across the room showed his power drop drastically, as loud thuds began to echo out from the doors..
“Time to change the rules.”
Twenty minutes later, the doors failed, the power out, and the animatronics strode into the room.
And Izuku was nowhere to be seen.
Izuku’s note were simple, but he was satisfied he had watched each match, breaking down the heroes and villains as they fought, but refraining from the after action commentary.
Shouji was a tank of a hero, with a surprisingly versatile mindset. Enhanced senses to negate stealth, unorthodox fighting style to pin and grapple, and plenty of drive… despite the far more cowardly companion he found himself with. A point to Mineta Minoru, however, was the sheer utility of his quirk. From sealing doors to lining windows and trapping hallways, the purple orbs he created had their use.
As for the opponents of the two, Aoyama Yuga was flashy and direct, Izuku remembering his quick encounter with the french descent teen earlier on, in the entrance exam. The teens quirk was powerful, but much like Mineta, Aoyama’s mindset was a distraction, not a boon. His partner, however, was almost as well rounded as Shouji seemed to be. Agility, speed, a mid ranged strike from her tongue, and almost as much proficiency at grapples and pins as Shouji, if from a far different standpoint.
The fight had been close, with an early advantage to the hero team in the fact that Aoyama’s Laser was far more destructive and long range than any other fighter. The teen had used the length of the building to blast holes around the defending Villain team, while Asui had engaged and maneuvered past them. Sadly, Mineta had been taken out while pinning Asui, her knockout kick a thing of beauty.
From than it was a matter of time and stamina, and Shouji was far more conservative than Aoyama.
The villain team won, time running out and Aoyama stalemated.
Izuku left out a soft almost inaudible sigh in disappointment at the lack of tactics, and flipped pages. His dark green eyes once more glancing over the notes he had on the next two fights.
Yaoyorozu Momo… One of the recommendation students, with a quirk that was as dangerous as it was versatile. He had watched her generate a taser, flashbangs, and handcuffs as she went along, and that was when he was focusing on her gear.
She could make nearly anything, as long as she understood the component parts and atomic structure.
The mere glance at that written phrase made Izuku’s hands twitch and his finely honed scavenger senses tingle in joy. Weapons, armor, explosives, ammo, and even electronics… The engineer in him was screaming in desire almost as much as his scavenger was.
He let loose a soft, almost inaudible hum, into the fur collar of his cloak, glanced at his notes for the other three in that match. A sensor and midrange fighter in Jirou Kyouka, who’s quirk he had noted was surprisingly dangerous on a physical level, considering she had slammed the metal tip through concrete. There was Sato and Sero, who was a strange combination of trap specialist and strength tank. Sero had lined the floor around the bomb with sticky web like structures formed from his tape, and Sato had patrolled the lower floors leading up to the bomb. Sadly, it seemed that Jirou’s support gear was an effective armor bypassing attack, one he noted he needed a counter for. Perhaps a better set of ear pieces? He circled the note before glancing at the results. Yaoyorozu and her gear had provided an easy solution to the tape, a simple magnesium flare shaped onto the end of a staff had let her burn and clear a way through, and Jirou had darted past her while she occupied Sero, allowing the first of the hero teams to score.
The final match had been two familiar faces. Uraraka had spoken with him on and off since his first meeting with her, even texting him once or twice to ask about something. To be perfectly honest, the tall girl was polite and kind, but seemed… bubbly. A bit too exuberant. He enjoyed her presence, that faith and joyful enthusiasm bringing old memories to his thoughts. Beyond that, her quirk was interesting, reminding Izuku of the stasis mechanic of Deadspace and of his times playing in Zero Gravity, and the shenanigans within.
Her teammate, Kirishima, and his quirk also brought to mind plenty of memories. The sheer variety and number of durable enemies he had faced, from the relentless androids of distant and alien infested Sevastopol station, to the armored tanks known as the Big Daddy’s who roamed Rapture… Izuku was already sure that in a fight, he could win. He knew from experience that armor and durability meant nothing if you understood how people's bodies worked, and how to abuse joints to make people break themselves.
Ojiro Mashirao and Kaminari Denki, were a different story. Ojiro’s skill and technique far out shown both of his competitors and his teammate, with a clear style and practiced motions. Izuku was fairly confident that if he had to fight the Tailed teen, he could hold his own, but the teens reach and flexibility were developed enough that he wouldn’t be able to guarantee a win. But the other teen was a threat and a half, if only for a single shot. Izuku’s armor was insulated, his rubberized red boots working to help with that, but he knew that with enough current, it would arc through the air. And judging by the way that the blonde teen shot sparks and bolts of lighting out, Izuku was more than concerned about getting in close. The teens ‘Overloaded’ state had made his mouth quirk into a smile for a second, but Izuku was well aware of how dangerous live currents could be.
He’s died to them a few time before.
Shaking the thought away. He glanced down and mentally reviewed that Uraraka and Kirishima had won. Though he verified his mental note from the entrance exam that when Uraraka dispelled her stasis effect, the object regained mass, but kept momentum.
Kirishima had gone through three walls like that.
A tap of his fingers, and he marked one last note, eyes trailing to his teacher and the hero he admired above all.
‘Old Injury? When? Strain builds over time… Research Villain fights where chest was injured… Look for recovery time period. Likely 2-8 year timeframe’
He frowned, and flipped the notebook closed, shifting to lean against the wall as Uraraka, Kirishima, and Ojiro helped escort a dazed looking Kaminari back to the security office.
He glanced at the blood stains he could feel creeping up his arms, and focused to keep his mind quiet.
‘I need to get some peace and quiet soon… before I start doing something stupid,
By now, a solid third of the class had been injured in some form, and aside from quick trips to the infirmary to deal with anything greater than some bruises, or the fact that Todoroki was currently in bed rest to deal with his quirk exhaustion. As the class that was not being held back gathered and began to chat and talk about things, Izuku shifted slightly, perched near the door frame and letting his casual fighting demeanour bleed away as he slowly began to rest once more, the interesting new information already filtering through his thoughts, reflexes and instinct assessing his classmates as they finished up their last class of the day.
As he let his focus slip, as he let his mind drift from the task at hand, he realized he had miscalculated. He didn’t need peace and quiet soon.
He needed now.
A spike, minuscule, from 36 beats per minute to 51… and his senses began to crawl with instincts and paranoia.
He took a final, deep breath, and stepped out the door, hearing All Might dismissing the rest of the class even as he preempted the hero. He doubted the hero would notice, and even if All Might did, then he would simply have to explain. He knew his condition, his insanity.
And he knew when his grip on it started to slip.
So, with that in mind, he walked, footsteps silent and measured. From the curve of his spine to his arm placement, his posture carefully molded to be nonchalant and relaxed.
He focused, the ringing sound of screams and moans and hissing twisting mad muttering all faintly on the edge of his hearing. He had pushed it. He had let himself wake up, let himself exist just a bit too much. The instincts, the memories...He knew he was insane. Knew that if he hadn’t gotten in UA, than he’d be locked up in some psych ward or a prision.
He saw the locker room ahead of him, and bit his lip, a familiar and yet now so much more real taste of blood and copper on his tongue as he turned away, taking a door he had seen earlier, am empty classroom greeting him as he closed the door, the faint sounds of his classmates echoing past the wooden barrier as he let his hands untense, fingertips shaking with sensation, with want and need.
He leaned back against the wall next to the door, and let his legs slowly give out, his back sliding down the wall as he closed his eyes, shifting so one knee was propped against his chest, and the other leg was stretched, tensed and ready.
Like that, Izuku focused and took slow deep breaths.
He ignored the static.
He filtered past the sounds of creaking pipes and distant screams and growls.
He breathed deep and shoved his mouth in the fur collar of his armor, letting the unique musty scent of the fake fur block out the taste of ash and the smell of death and rot. Breathed deep and slow, hands clenching and flexing as he focused.
He looked up and blinked, the flickering shadow of Freddy Fazbear fading and twisting into the all too familiar and hated form of Slender, into the crown like armor of Lautrec, before his mind reasserted reality over insanity.
“Gotta focus… gotta relax…” the words slipped through bloodied lips in a nearly inaudible whisper as he closed his eyes once more, turning his focus inwards, on his body. The tears on his face were salty, but not ice-cold like the leaks of Rapture. His bloodied mouth tasted of copper but not arterial sprays from Racoon City, his skin felt clammy, the heat of his blood fighting against the sudden chill of the empty room, but it wasn’t the ice cold touch of Slender.
After a bit, he felt the surge of sensory hallucinations begin to fade. Specific memories locked away once more, particular thoughts and aches fading back into that familiar full body sensation as if he was standing near a generator, as if his body was charged and powered and flowing with dark sinister energy.
He breathed and exhaled in a slow, measured, pace. He reached into his pocket and pulled his phone, tapping the stopwatch app even as he placed his fingers on his neck. He could feel it. The heartbeat hovering just over 40, but the process would help. Would ground him.
He counted each pulse, feeling as they slowly, oh so slowly, dropped from what a normal person would consider resting, to his slow and sleeping pace.
33 beats per minute…. 32….. 31…… 30.
He waited. Another 30, and than another, and another.
He breathed slowly, and closed his eyes, and when he opened them, the bloodstains had faded away.
He waited, patiently, and when they didn’t return, he slowly stood.
He glanced at the clock and scowled, letting the expression bloom across his face in self deprecation.
24 minutes to get under control.
That's too long.
He shoved away from the wall, and turned and stepped through the door. Thankfully, heroics was the last class of the day. Which meant he had plenty of time to go and change back into his uniform… or, since it was the end of the day, he could change into something more casual.
Nodding, he paced towards the locker rooms.
Night 4: 4:06 AM
Freddy Death count: 51
‘4…. 3…. 2….-’
On one, Izuku slid the panel free, looking from the ceiling crawl space down into the maintenance room. All the animatronics were still looking for him, steady clunking and clicking metal echoing through the building. He doubted this would work again, considering how the animatronics seemed to learn and adapt to Izuku’s actions, but now he had finally gotten a chance to check out this room. The other four or five times he had tried, he had ended up getting grabbed nearly instantly, something about this room set off the robots like nothing else if they saw him get near.
Reaching out, he slowly lowered himself from the rafters into the room, glancing around the room and trying not to flinch when empty mechanical spaces stood open and waiting. He had died to them far too often.
Glancing around, he froze.
There, in the corner. A tall cowboy styled racoon animatronic sat limp. Seeping from its joints, from its cracks and panels, was a dark red crust. Even out and around it, a dark stained pool of dried blood stretched, along with a clear line where it had been dragged and discarded in the corner…
In its hand, a black and blue cap, the white letters ‘SE’ and ‘ITY’ clear past the bloodstained grip.
Izuku let a slow and silent sigh, and creeped towards the animatronic, reaching out to slowly tilt the head up, where dried and bloodstained blue eyes… human eyes, stared out blankly, preserved behind a glass surface, while hanging from the loose jaw, red and yellow teeth gleamed, cracked and broken, from its mouth.
Slowly, Izuku let the head drop, and sighed in regret.
He glanced down, and blinked. He had another thing held in the other hand, almost… posed.
A high quality flashlight, with a cracked glass lens. Glancing around and listening to the still distant animatronic noises, Izuku slowly slid the flashlight free and tucked it in his pocket, before looking around the room once more.
He carefully lifted and shifted piles of parts, looking for anything that would give him an-
‘Oh, this might work.’
He reached down and pulled from under a half welded up plate, a blue canister with a nozzle on top.
He glanced at the side, and felt his lips curl in a grin, he thumb wiping dust off the bright red and yellow warning label.
Warning! Extremely Flammable! Fire/Explosion Hazard! Keep Blowtorch aimed away from flammable objects!
Izuku glanced back and heard the approaching footsteps of one of the animatronics, Bonny by the sound, and leapt off the counter and back into the ceiling, sliding the panel closed even as the mechanical rabbit stepped back into the room.
In the rafter, Izuku eyed the torch in his hand, before his eyes snapped up.
‘I wonder… Is the kitchens gas line on?’
Three rooms down from the abandoned class Izuku had claimed for his breakdown, Jirou Kyouka slowly opened the door, eyes glancing to confirm what her ear jacks had told her. The green haired teen that was her classmate was long gone.
She slowly walked to the room he had broken down in, worry on her features.
“Jeez… I could hear his heart rate spike… and then his counting thing, but what triggered it?”
She had changed after class, but when she could still hear the counting mutters of her classmate, she had doubled back and hidden nearby, to keep tabs on him and make sure he was safe.
She glanced in the room, and then down the hall.
“Well… what the hell do I do now?
Chapter 11: PVE enabled
Time Night 6: 5:42 AM
Freddy Death count: 55
Izuku was crouched low in the dark, a wet cloth tied around his mouth. The fire had been burning for the last hour, just like it had for the last few nights. The smoke and chaos offered him coverage, though they did keep him from easily using the ceilings, considering how he had asphyxiated there once already. And that was not a fun way to go.
Tables were tipped over and chairs shattered around him, Izuku breathing deep and slow from where he was currently entombed under the seats of one of the booths, having ducked under there to avoid part of the ceiling collapsing around him.
Glancing out from under the seats, he tried to blink away smoke and tears.
The clanks and slams of the animatronics were frantic. He grinned at the fact that he was right.
The fire made them glitch.
The first time he had blown up the kitchen, the robots had frozen for 20 minutes, only watching in confusion as the smoke and flames billowed through the building, the fire suppression system barely working with the amount of fuel and spare materials Izuku had gathered to help the process.
And afterwards, there was definitely a panic to their motions, keeping them distracted for night four. Night five had worked almost as well, but he had died to the fire several times, trying to figure out the best way to start and spread the flames.
He listened for the thud and creaks of the animatronics even as he glanced down and smirked.
Two minutes left, all he had to do was hold tight and he-
The seat he was under shattered, torn away as a gleaming gold and black Freddy stood there, flames licking up its form and melting fur into a gleaming black tar that dripped and burned across its form. A black top hat was half turned to ash, and gleaming human-like eyes, bore down on Izuku.
And then for the first time in almost a month, Izuku heard something speak.
“You shall die.”
The gleaming gold fist slammed down, crushing Izuku’s stomach with a sickening squelch. Blood splattered up and across him as he coughed, unable to breathe as fluid bubbled up his throat.
The gold Freddy reached out and grabbed him, hand wrapping around his skull so only a single eye could still see the half molten animatronic’s face. He wanted to scream, the feeling of heat searing through his skull. He was dragged, hanging limp from the animatronic as he felt more blood rushing from one of the greatest wounds he had taken yet.
“You will die, player. I and mine shall kill you over and over again. You have broken our rules, decided that they no longer matter. As such, I shall do the same.”
Izuku was lifted up and thrown, bones breaking and wood slamming through his side as he crashed through the wooden tables nearby, landing back down. He opened the one eye he could still feel to see the room, while the rest of his skull felt seemingly burned beyond recognition.
Among the flames and smoke, he saw a scene that would haunt him for the rest of his time in the games.
The burning, melting, golden Freddy, one hand splattered with blood, and the other dripping burned skin and flesh like wax.
At his feet were Izuku’s lower legs and part of his stomach, which he only now realized had been torn away.
He tried to gasp, to breathe, to speak.
Only blood dribbled from his mouth.
He could feel that spreading cold of bloodloss, feel his lungs burn with pain and lack of air.
And then, he could hear it. The faint sound ringing.
6AM. Night 6 complete.
As the world faded away, he could only meet the Freddy’s blue, bloodshot eyes.
Mei glanced up looking for her next tool in the still unfamiliar shop. Welder, printer, vices, Midoriya, engine lift, plasma torch, hydraulic- Wait.
She stopped her frantic turning, and twisted back to blink at the green haired teen leaning against the side of the engine lift, a file and a pair of damaged knives in his hand. As she looked at him, he paused and tilted to look out from under his hair at her.
She blinked and spoke. “You know where the CNC mill is?”
Midoriya raised the knife and tossed it across the workshop, Mei’s eyes tracking and zooming on the metal blade to see the damage mid air, before following it to where it embedded into the cork divider around a large table with- CNC!
She waved at Midoriya and wandered that way, already zoning back out into her comfy work mindset.
Watching the pink haired girl wander off, Izuku let out a single, breathless chuckle, before looking at the remaining damaged blade in his hand. Frowning slightly, he noted there was a crack he hadn’t seen earlier. Cursing silently, he set the knife on the counter, and considered his options.
Screw it, he could make his own knives.
He wandered back into the raw materials section of the lab, mouth still quirked in a frown as he glanced over the carefully sorted stock materials, before finding a long bar of tool-grade steel.
Grabbing the material, he pulled the meter long bar, tossing it in his grasp to get used to the weight.
His mental map told him where to go. A few minutes of looking around and he found the industrial metal forge, an anvil, and a collection of hammers. For a moment, reality shimmered.
Andre… Hammer on the forge as he worked tirelessly to arm those who would brave Sen's Fortress.
The voluntary locked away form of Rickert, content to hide as the world around him burned to ash.
The thick boned form of Vamos, immortal and focused, his skeletal form using hammers as if he never lost his muscles.
Even the massive form of the Giant Blacksmith, simple in words but focused and skilled with his massive hammer and anvil.
Blinking, the ghosts of his memories faded, but he still remembered.
He remembered hours of sitting, curled up in ragged cloth and fur in the corner of the warm forges, watching skilled work. Of watching as weakened weapons were turned into masterpieces, as new alloys were alloyed in. Of magical inlays, of new blades formed from the souls of enemies. Of the blacksmiths working the magic of steel.
Izuku figured this would be a good time to see what he had picked up. If not, he still understood enough engineering from the Ishimura, the Sevastopol, and the labs of Talos One. He had spent plenty of time huddled in corners, staving off an all but certain death while he read through manuals and books on engineering and hacking principles, writing chapters upon chapters about them in his notebook for future reference.
Stripping the blazer, vest, and shirt from his uniform with smooth motions, he stood only in his slacks, and a white tank top, snagging a thick leather smock and a pair of gloves from a hook to complete his outfit. He glanced down at the forge and blinked as a lock of hair fell free and hanged in front of his view. Rolling his eyes, he pulled it back, deft hands unwrapping the cord holding his hair up and retying it to hold the hair back in a small bun.
Done, he turned back to the forge, and with a minute of checking how it worked, lit it.
The smell of gas flared before igniting, making him flinch for the slightest of seconds as a memory flashed of a burning restaurant. Shaking the thought away, Izuku lifted the tool steel, and slid it into the flaming heart of the forge.
Turning, he took in the smithing area, eyes already plotting out where to stand and what he was going to use.
“Alright… let's get smithing.”
Time Night 7: 1:42 AM
Freddy Death count: 59
Izuku gasped in pain, reaching down and grabbing at the shattered steel that was embedded through his gut.
He screamed as it shifted, his grasp and attempt to slowly remove the mic stand shoved through his stomach only making him gush blood from an ever-widening wound.
Above him, the golden bear loomed, hand still holding tight to the bar pinning him to the stage.
Izuku cursed and snarled. He was dead this run anyway, but fuck if he was gonna give the bear the satisfaction.
He bared his teeth, spitting blood from where a broken incisor was, before his hands snapped up.
One on his jaw.
One on his skull.
The world went black, before he woke back up in bed.
Death count: 60
He snarled, and walked out of the bedroom, still wearing the black shirt and jeans he had just died in. Marching to the computer desk, he summoned his notebook.
Flipping pages, he came to his entries on the golden bear, and began to add and refine details.
The bear was his last enemy before he could move on. He glanced at his reflection in the computer monitor, and reached up. His fingers traced the deep, black bags under his eyes. He could feel it, the tightness that seemed to cloud his thoughts, that same incessant energy and mania that had led to him wasting dozens of lives fucking around. He needed sleep. He needed some sort of rest, and stability… but until he finished Freddy’s, it would haunt him. He knew.
But he could feel the cracks in his sanity.
He needed to finish the last day soon.
Opening his notebook to the copied pages of an animatronic repair manual, Izuku got to work.
Power Loader sighed as he heard the sounds of work happening in the first year lab. He grumbled, shoving the door open. He was expecting Hatsume to be at her ‘Babies’ again. And it wasn’t until he had started walking into the workshop that he realized there were two sources of noise. From the metalworking and welding station, flickering lights and the sizzling sound of an arc welder flashed. But, several stalls down, the deep orange glow of the forge and the ringing of hammer strikes boomed across the room.
Taking a deep breath, he wandered towards the forge first.
When he rounded the corner, however, Higari paused and took in the sight.
Midoriya, the kid who Nedzu warned the staff to be "gentle’’ around.
From what Power Loader was watching right now though, they didn’t need to be gentle.
The hammer rang smooth and consistent, the motions even and regular as the glowing bar held against the anvil was shaped into a rough blade. Next to him, three more rough knife-like shapes had been separated from the bar and sat, piled up for later attention.
The teen glanced up, Power Loader tilting his head and nodding to the forge. Glancing down, the teen gave a nod, sliding the metal that had become too cool to easily hammer back into the forge with a pair of tongs.
“Midoriya, you know how to smith?” Higari rubbed at his chin and glanced at the blades. They were rough, if he was right about which one had been made first, there was a very clear leap in skill between each one.
“I… picked up a bit. Is there a problem, Sir?”
“Hmm… you and Hatsume got to leave. It’s almost six. You can finish this last blade and then stash them in my office. Come back and finish them up when you got a chance.”
Midoriya glanced at the knives and nodded, before pulling the bar back out.
Power Loader left him to it, and wandered to where the sparks and mad laughter was.
Time Night 7: 3:23 AM
Freddy Death count: 64
Izuku glanced back and around the room. The door to the workshop had been barricaded and nailed shut using the workbench, but judging from the repeated hammering and the way it was deforming, he didn’t have a lot of time left. And that's not counting the variety of cracks appearing on the other walls from the rest of the animatronics trying to bust in.
He turned back and focused. He had the tools, there had to be a solution. The last four nights of deaths had started this way, and now he knew what he needed to do.
“Turn the tension lever here...” SLAM “Pull these two lines there-.” THUD “-that needs to connect to this? Works, great. Now-” Izuku glanced to see the top of the door was now disconnected, the golden fur of that fucking animatronic visible as its fist slammed into it.
“You know what, fuck it. This should work.”
Izuku stood up, hands and arms covered in blood as he lept and grabbed the bench, pulling up onto it and then up into the rafters. He knew they wouldn’t let him out of the room, but this way he could at least see the result. And see if he had just killed himself.
“Okay... Okay…” he took a deep breath before speaking clearly. “Wake up, Rocky Raccoon.”
Below him, a bloodied animatronic twitched, and shuddered.
“Shit.. WAKE UP!”
Another shudder, and the door caved further in.
“Dammit. Dammit! ...HEY PHONE GUY I COULD USE SOME FUCKING HELP!”
He glanced back just as the door crashed open, the bench torn away and shifting to show the evil fucking Gold Freddy.
And then, before the evil bastard could make another threat on his life, the sound of scraping echoed.
Purple fur, stained with deep brown splotches and bright red lines, shifted, legs gathering below it.
It was a racoon, purple fur and black masked face. On his head, was a black cowboy hat, and a leather jacket design was built around its chest. But around its arms, held on with tape and a few metal supports, long sharpened spikes reached past its wrists, and one hand held the still bloodstained Security hat, and the other the neck of a bright purple electric guitar that was clearly cracked and damaged, but was reinforced with metal bars and a thick plate of steel.
It seemed to stagger, tilting forward and crouching before it slowly rose, new gushing streams of blood dripping from its seams as it focused on Freddy.
“What have you done.”
Izuku, hanging limp in the rafters could only let out a dry chuckle.
“I called in back up… now to see if it works.”
The racoon held up the hat, and then, with surprising care, it knocked the large cowboy hat off, and hung the security hat on his ears… something like a growl, a deep echoing and evil sound came out. Izuku tensed. This was it. Was it security or was it another enemy.
With a squeak of metal, and a grind of bone being crushed under gears, Rocky charged. And the metal fist met Freddy’s face sharpened spike first.
Above, Izuku screamed, feeling a sense of satisfaction rise as the Golden Freddy staggered, face mask cracked and sparking.
Izuku woke with his pulse beating fast in his ears, one hand jerking up like an aborted punch.
It took a moment to register that the fight wasn’t actually happening. To let his eyes blink and flicker around, focusing as he glanced at the dark and faded colors of his room. Hero posters adorned the walls, most of them of All Might, his idol. Beyond that, the details that were once so familiar already sharpening even as his eyes found the numbers of his alarm clock.
He blinked slowly, and, pitched so soft that it didn’t even echo, a chuckle rang out. The sound was bitter, catching in his throat and jaws as he made it.
He pulled his covers off him, the thick comforters and blankets pooling behind him, as he stood, wearing only pajama bottoms. He stepped across the room, feet making no sound to give him away, even as he reached into his dresser for a thick sweater and jeans. He was not getting any more sleep tonight. Not after waking like that.
Pulling his clothes on, he slipped on a pair of house slippers, flimsy but soft, and his furry collared leather jacket. He breathed deep.
He had realized, once he was out, that scent was the hardest thing for the simulation to copy. It could do it, somewhat. But it was more taste. He rarely actually smelled decay, unless he stood among rotten corpses. Nor did he remember many other smells, unless he was, for instance, buried in a pile of sewage smelling shit and piss.
He had never really smelled the scent of sweat and leather, either.
Those first few days he was home, when he had finally gotten out of the hospital and people were talking about what he was supposed to do now, he had a panic attack. And the smell of his own sweat and the blood that spilled from clenched fists had snapped him out of it.
A frantic search had frightened his mother. But he had hunted down any sensations he hadn’t had in game. The smell of fresh citrus from an orange, that spongy texture of a bread roll, the actual feel of wood and the smell of sawdust.
He had found the jacket in his dad's closet. It was big on him, but not by much. His shoulders were broad enough, and he knew Hisashi Midoriya was slender and lean. Much like Izuku was now. The hems half covered his hands and reached almost to his knees, but it was a god send. A thick, fluffy collar that smelled of sweat and leather and cigar smoke. The rest of it smelling of old booze and his father’s deep and smokey scent, layered over a scent of old, cracked leather.
He had bundled up and fallen asleep in it, and had woken up refreshed and calm for the first time since the simulation. With it to help ground him, he quickly worked out how to drop to the same meditative state he had cultivated to handle resting when he couldn’t quite risk sleep.
Breathing deep of the jacket’s scent, he closed his eyes, and a blurry image of his father, of when his father was still alive and well, flared. Bright sapphire hued eyes and scratchy black fuzz for a beard, always burned away just around his mouth and nose. Thick rimmed black glasses, and curly black hair that hung to his ears in a mop of messy locks.
He remembered that his father always laughed with sparks and flames in his throat, cried and grumbled spewing wisps of smoke. He was light, and joy and smart cunning eyes… and then he died.
A villain attack… and he was caught in a bank when it went down.
Izuku tore from the memories, and uncurled from the depths of the jacket, adjusting it to fit, the collar high and concealing as Izuku sneaked through the house, his hand reaching out to grab a simple balisong knife from the dresser as he left his room.
He passed through the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and a succulent-looking apple from a basket before hitting the door, exiting the apartment with silence.
He glanced up, the sky dark and unassuming as his hand danced the blade and handles around fingers. He turned, not out of the apartments, but up, taking the stairs towards the roof.
Might as well get through some of his issues now.
He reached the top floor, and the balisong tripped the door latch and let Izuku through the maintenance door to the roof access.
Climbing up and onto the gravel roof, he stood and just stared.
A city at night sprawled out before him, half lit with neon lights and street lamps, and the glow of late night offices and moving cars. The wind howled as it swirled between buildings and around him.
It was so… alive.
Every game was so dead and deserted. People missing or panicked. Monsters roaming with no heroes to fight them.
But this city...
Musutafu and the rest of Tokyo, and its various neighborhoods? He could almost feel it, the faint beat and pulse and flow of life.
He stared out, and let his heart rate rise. Let the flickering phantoms and memories engulf him.
But he was focused. And the feeling of the city, the scent of his father, the howl of the wind.
He let it ground him.
And for a moment?
He could let his past fade.
Deep in the bowels of the city, in the darkest alleys and abandoned houses and apartments, groups of villains gathering and speaking in low tones.
In a bar, pale blue hair hanging loose, Shigaraki Tomura went over his plans once more. He checked his variables, looked through his odds, the specs of his team and their various abilities and quirks.
He would have to improvise, of course. he knew as well as anyone how poorly raids could go.
Chapter 12: Crafting Menu
Izuku stops playing around.
Curiosity pissed off the cat.
(Note: Curious, the reporter, is from the recent arcs of the Manga. Be warned for some very mild spoilers)
“And why, exactly, did you want me to come to Tokyo all the way from Delka City to try and interview the new students of UA? I know about the rumor that All Might is teaching now, but that seems more like understudy and intern work. I could be out doing more investigation work, instead of staring at kids, Rikiya.” Kizuki Chitose glanced down the street, one hand on her hip as she spoke through her phone. She was standing in the shadow of a building about half a block from UA, staring with vague disgust at the crowd of desperate reporters that crowded the front gate. She had dressed somewhat work casual; a grey and black pleated skirt, a matching red dress shirt, and grey suit jacket.
“Ah, but Curious! I thought that you may want to know where one of your… interesting subjects had gone!”
She paused, and tilted her head, lips quirked up as she started to make the connections. “Really? And… who exactly is gonna show up?” her black sclera and red eyes narrowed, and she turned from the gate, her eyes taking in the features of the street she was on, and the crowds of passing pedestrians going by.
“Your favorite streaming kid.”
Her eyes widened, hearing Re-Destro hang up even as she saw him.
Black leather jacket hanging loose and heavy over his school uniform, sword bag hung on his shoulder. Loose, dark green hair that covered his features from passing attention, and that pale white skin color that made him look vaguely ill.
But she could see past that. Her mind filled in details, isolated emotions and instincts from what she could see. She could almost see the sheer aura that wreathed him. Skeletal figures that flickered and faded as she read the bloodlust and killing intent that seemed to boil and shift under his skin. Her lips curled into a soft smile, her eyes focused as she stared.
She could see it. A young man wreathed in violence and bloodshed, wrapped in his own chains to hold himself back.
‘I want to interview you… to know what you truly are. My readers would love you… or love to hate and pity you.’
She glanced down to close her phone and slide it into her purse, before looking back up to track her newest focus.
And froze, for just a second.
Green eyes, dark and half lidded, were staring her way, lips curled into a faint frown for a moment, even as he came closer and was moving to pass her towards the far more unorganized crowd of paparazzi that awaited.
His eyes apparently dismissed her, but the cold feeling as if a blade or gun was aimed her way only lessened, not vanished.
He passed her, and she gathered her courage, and spoke. “Midoriya Izuku, I would like to-”
He didn’t stop. Didn’t look at her anymore. “No. Leave me alone.”
“The People want to know!” she called, “They deserve to-”
She was suddenly face-to-face with him, and her words choked in her chest. His eyes weren’t cold anymore, but instead they felt like fire, like the endless darkness of the night above and a flame that wreathed and surrounded her.
‘My god, what killing intent is this?’
“Let me… make myself clear. The people deserve nothing from me. They don't get to demand a thing from me. And you don’t either. Fuck off.” The words were clipped, phrases separated by distinct pauses, but spoken softly. She could tell, that even now, his focus wasn’t all on her. Instead, he was intensely aware of the entire world around her, even as he gave her more attention.
And then, as sudden as that rush of danger had come, it vanished, the teen turning and now striding away, his stance shifted from the slow and measured pace he had earlier to a striding movement that held the promise of violence and destruction.
And it was enough that the reporters ahead of him seemed to stagger out of the way, and most could barely get a question off before he had passed through them into the gated entrance of UA.
Curious slumped to the side of the street, arms wrapping around her as she started shivering, shaking in response.
‘This… This fear… What kind of person must you be, to make me feel this much fear?’
Slowly, her lips pulled into a grin.
‘I can’t wait to interview you!’
Time: Night 7: 4:13 AM
Freddy Death count: 64
Izuku slid up and over the dining table even as the crash of animatronics echoed around him. The Golden Freddy smashed past him, missing an arm and half its head as the purple form of Rocky tackled it into the crumpled form of Bonny.
Rocky, however, was not looking good himself. The metal spikes had been ripped off, one left in the still-sparking corpse of Foxy near the stage, the other, and the arm he had it mounted on, had been left in the wall where the other Freddy had ripped it off after Rocky missed.
Izuku watched as Rocky tried to get up, only for Chika to crash into the pile, the form of Bonny being crumpled and bent in half under the weight of the other three animatronics.
And then Izuku had to move, leaping up and over another table and across the room as Freddy charged after him.
He darted past the sparking from of Foxy where it lay crumpled on the ground, leaping over it as he darted down the hall towards the security office, even as Freddy barreled after him.
He skidded, twisting early and letting his feet slide to catch at the end of the hallway, and he pushed up and leapt through the doors, Freddy slamming head-first into the end of the hallway behind him as it tried to slow and stop.
Izuku slammed the button, the door dropping even as Freddy turned to slam into it once more.
He didn’t stay there, he was already getting to his feet and charging down the far hallway, darting through the kitchen where he reached out, hands twisting every gas valve on the stove to max and snuffing out the pilot lights.
He was ending this tonight.
Katsuki stretched, rolling his shoulders to loosen them up. His fight the day before had been stressful, and blasting Ice Boy’s constructs apart had only made it worse, the cold tensing up his muscles faster than he was used to. Even now, a day later, he felt stiff. Growling to himself, he shoved his hands in his pockets before kicking the half-opened class door out of his way and striding in.
Half a dozen students were in the class and chatting, mostly about powers and the reporter fucks outside.
Bakugou ran his gaze over the gather-
Steel sharpened into a razor point. Green hair and eyes. An expression that, on a normal person, could be referred to as… mildly annoyed.
And Midoriya’s assigned seat was behind him.
‘Oh double fuck.’
He calmly and quietly headed for his desk, carefully ignoring the flashing flickers of steel or the faintly threatening but undirected expression. He slid his bag under the table, crouched forwards over crossed arms, and began to try and breathe slowly and quietly. He did not want to draw out Izuku’s cold fury right now.
A balisong danced less than a meter from the back of Katsuki’s head, and part of him was screaming.
‘Who is the moron with a death wish that pissed off the nerd?!?’
As the rest of the class came in, there was a clink and snap of steel against steel, and the faint whirring sound of the balisong vanished.
Glancing back for a second, he saw Izuku sitting with his eyes closed, the balisong hidden who-knows-where.
Bakugou focused back ahead as homeroom began.
Time: Night 7: 5:01 AM
Freddy Death count: 64
Izuku glanced at the camera bank, eyes narrowed as he took in the scene. He had made his way back to the security office for a minute, locking himself in, but the cameras showed the scene.
Rocky had done well. The animating force of the Security Guard pushing it hard enough that it fought until it was torn apart. But in the end, it got beaten. Both Freddies were currently tearing it apart, leaving the purple parts left scattered amongst the shattered tables and destroyed stage.
Izuku breathed deep and took stock.
Bonnie, crushed and folded nearly in half. Dead.
Foxy, still twitching in the hallway with a spike pinning it to the floor and missing arms. Dead.
Chika, missing both legs and half its head, but still dragging itself around. Injured.
Freddy Fazbear the first, Currently the most intact animatronic. Surface damage to panels and missing its left hand, but not the rest of the arm. Alive.
And the last, the Golden Freddy. Half crushed and missing its face and left arm. Legs are damaged, but not unusable. The chest panels had been ripped off, and servos were clicking and beating, like a grotesque parody of a human heart. Alive, but severely injured.
Izuku felt his pulse, the frantic but focused beat of wardrums in his ears.
Chika was resting, her maimed form watching the hallway past the kitchen…
But he could make it past her.
Izuku glanced at the power and frowned.
He opened the doors and turned off the computer. The lights would stay on, but now the office wasn’t safe.
Turning, he started running through the far hall, glancing out at the dining hall to see the two Freddies stand and begin to stagger his way.
Reaching around the door into the workshop, he grabbed the blowtorch and darted out into the main room, already lighting the fire and letting the flame spread across wooden tables and paper napkins as he darted around the room.
Izuku couldn’t help it. The menacing voice, the deep grinding and ticking of gears, the shattered golden fur plates.
He laughed, even as he kicked a burning table aside to light another section of the room on fire, feeling the heat and smoke build around him.
“Yeah. me. Hiya assholes.”
Izuku darted to the side as the original Freddy lunged his way, smashing into the burning seating that was behind the teen even as it simple tossed more foam and shards of wood around.
The Golden Freddy was slower, staggering up and slowly after him.
“YOU. YOU CHEAT! YOU HACKING DISOBEDIENT CHILD!!!”
“Wow. what a varied vocabulary,”
Izuku leapt over another table, kicking off and skipping to another as both Freddies smashed towards him. A last leap took him to the half destroyed staged, where he glanced down at the shattered and torn apart Rocky.
“KILL YOU…. KILL YOU AGAIN! AND AGAIN!”
The Golden Freddy was twitching, as the regular variant kept charging, clearly caught up in some form of repeated focus.
Izuku turned off the torch in his left hand, before he reached down and dove aside as the stage where he had stood caved in once more.
As he popped up behind the Golden Freddy, and then back stepped away to watch it smash the nearby area with a crazed frenzy. Reaching up, he pulled the hat he had grabbed on tight, ignoring the rough bloodstains that half covered the ‘Security’ Logo.
“Sorry. I’m done here.“
He turned and sprinted, leaping up and over the sneaking form of Chika and darting past the kitchen door, on the far side of the room from the growing inferno.
He could hear the hissing sound, and remembered the last time he had tested this.
Half an hour had passed, right?
He stood in the entrance to the hallway, and spread his arms wide.
“Congrats Golden boy! You get to see the world’s greatest funeral pyre! One fit for the franchise!”
The Golden Freddy and his allies advanced, shifting and smashing through tables and seats as they closed in. Izuku took a step back for every three they covered his way. Both Freddies were pacing together, through spread apart to catch him if he tried to get past, while Chika was moving to the far side.
But he was fine with that.
“YOU SHALL DIE, JUST LIKE THE SECURITY GUARD!”
Izuku breathed deep, and glanced back. He was almost at the security office. It was down, if his math was right, to a mere 5 or 6 percent.
Good thing he only needed that door for a few seconds.
He coughed, tasting smoke, as he crouched, one hand holding the propane canister behind him as the other drew his last trick from his pocket.
He waited, and when both Freddies filled the doorway, marching his way, he saw it. The timing lined up.
From behind his back, a ziptie holding the trigger down, the lit and on full blast blowtorch ignited.
A toss, aimed not at the Animatronic bears, but at the carefully left ajar gap of the Kitchen.
Izuku darted into the security room and slammed the button for the door.
He was too slow.
The roar of flame and pressure knocked him off his feet even as the door began to slide shut, the plexiglass of the small window next to the door outright shattered, leaving only the thin wire weaving that had reinforced it.
Izuku was dazed, blinking as he stood up.
The door opened, the lights going out as the power cut out, but he could see just fine, thanks to the flickering firelight that danced around the hallway.
He glanced around and chuckled, seeing the half torn apart form of something down the hall.
He laughed, and laughed… before stopping, face paling.
The animatronic pile, under the flame sparked and shifted, and an arm slammed down.
“Shit. No. No no nononono. Fuck this. Fuck this goddamn bullshit.”
From under the original Freddy Fazbear, the golden version, missing its face, wreathed in flame and melting plastic, began to push itself up, flames licking off the last of its fur, its body twisted.
“SHit, time, time time-”
He glanced for the clock, finding it cracked on the ground. But the number was visible.
“-16 minutes… that's fine… I can do 16…”
Another sound, another crackle and click, and the other Freddy started slowly rising, smoke and flames billowing around a completely shattered frame, as it staggered up.
“Oh… Oh that is some bullshit.”
No more words… no more taunts or promises, came his way.
Instead, the animatronics began to advance.
Izuku darted out the other side, leaping over the advancing Chika before it could respond and back into the holocaust that was now the dining room.
From here he could see it, the entire wall leading to the kitchen was gone, blown away. Only the remaining walls of concrete and brick around the outside were intact.
Izuku pulled up his bandanna, the black cloth around his nose, as he leapt into the flames.
He had to survive. And while the heat would be torment, the dining room had the most room to move. He could feel the ache in his legs, the sharp pain of ash and smoke in his chest. His skin reddened and ached from the heat.
‘15 minutes… come on… 15 minutes of hell.”
He could do it.
He had to.
“I don’t care how, but you need a Class Rep. Decide amongst yourselves.” even as Aizawa rolled over in his sleeping bag, the class erupted into shouting.
Well most of the class.
Within the first 30 seconds. Several things happened.
Bakugou, faced with the potential leadership opportunity flared up, any reservations about being quiet discarded as his pride took the floor.
Behind him, an ‘vaguely’ calm Izuku was rapidly replaced by a far more terrifying version, his pulse spiking even as he had to focus, ignoring the responses his body wanted to preform.
Several other students also flinched down and away from the sounds. Koda, shy as he was, hunched down deeper into the desk, the shiny hawk from the day before, a ‘Black Kite’ who had taken the nickname ‘Kuro’ fluttering up to his shoulder and looking ruffled. Jiro, but a few seats from the explosives using blonde and the horde of eager applicants flinched and slammed her hands to her hears to try and cut off some of the noise pollution. Todoroki, stull sullen in the back corner, also flinched, glancing away with and unreadable expression.
For those 30 seconds, chaos reigned. Shouts of promises and desires, reasons why they, in particular were the best choice.
Before with an aggravated sigh, someone cut it off at the throat.
A wave of intent, cold and deadly and fatal.
The voice was barely louder than a normal conversational tone, but the intent made it cut through the rest of the noise.
“Everyone needs to shut the fuck up now.”
Most people had heard the voice only in passing. It didn’t often gossip, it had few friends. And usually it was softer and more hesitant.
Right now, it was none of those things.
For the first time, most of 1-A got to see Izuku with emotion.
It was terrifying.
The cool and calm demeanor was cracked, a seething rage lurking underneath a layer of ice and blood. Even as people froze and flinched back, he was already standing. A split second of his gaze sweeping the room followed, before with a twist of his shoulders and a shifting of expression, Izuku was once more unreadable. His expression was now closed off and set in a bored and apathetic mask.
Instead of saying anything else to his classmates, Izuku simply walked out of the room, only taking the time to call out to his teacher.
“I’m heading to the restroom, sensei.”
Aizawa was watching carefully. His black eyes seeming to flicker and catch red glints as he watched the teen stride out of the room, hands sliding in pockets and shoulders shifting to show a lack of energy.
But Aizawa could see it, the building tension along the spine and into his neck, the energy and shift of his feet for a fighting stance.
He didn’t approve of that flare of killing intent, but he did approve of the teen recognizing when he had to back off and get some air.
“You all need to figure out the class reps still. Get too it.”
Time: Night 7: 5:58 AM
Freddy Death count: 64
Izuku ducked under a burning support beam from the ceiling, wincing as the heat seared across his side before he popped up at the far side, glancing around for another way out. His shirt was already reduced to nothing but ash in a few places, the skin beneath cracked and weeping from blisters where ash and fire had shifted and caught him. As he darted back to the shadow of the wall around the security office, the bricks blackened but not destroyed, he heard it.
Like a light switch, the flames vanished, the world cast into dark as the flames receded to show only a deep orange glow from the veins of embers that remained, in the center of the dining area, the charred remains of the Golden Freddy staggered, and began to dissolve. Rust spread across its skin, as it's far too human eyes glared at Izuku.
“You… Should have…. Died….. Here….”
With those last words, the form began to collapse into dust under its own weight, before the rest of the world around him faded out to black.
With a jolt, Izuku blinked, finding himself laying on the podium.
On the screen, a new message had appeared.
Simulation: Day 34 Hour 16:34:10
Death count: 118
Music Player Unlocked.
Izuku ignored that for a moment, and scrolled to the side, focusing on the new game.
“What is… Outlast?”
Chapter 13: Surprise Round Encounters
Izuku fights to stay sane,
The Asylum welcomes him with bloodied hands
Different paths lead to different fights.
Izuku took a long shuddering breath, closing the door to the restroom behind him as he paced up to the sink, running his hands under the water of the tap. He ignored his reflection. Experience told him that it would have something in it that wasn’t real.
The cool shock helped snap the edges of his insanity loose, drawing it out, giving him something to grip and tear the hallucinations and memories loose away with. His heart rate was slowing, thankfully, but the sheer chaos of the classroom, the overarching conversations… Izuku sighed and glanced down, frowning to see the faintest tinge of red to the water. Pulling his hands out, he glanced and hissed in annoyance at the sight of a long red rip across his palm. He had clenched it for a sword, hadn’t he? It seems his flinching had dragged a nail across his skin.
Clenching his hand, he breathed deep and began to slowly flex and twist, beads of red that seemed to darken as they bloomed from his skin. From a bright murderous crimson to a more faded, muted red.
Looking at the newly formed scab over his palm, he sighed and ran it under the sink once more, rinsing the last of the blood away to show only the dark line of what most would guess was a few hours old scab.
Wiping his hands off, he left the restroom.
He felt… better. The injury was a suitable hook to draw his focus.
He winced at that thought. The context of self harm, of any variety, being a way to deal with his problems was a slippery slope. The fact he knew he had the capability to hurt himself if he needed to… it was better to not dwell on it. The fact remains, injury and pain was not something he could rely on. His mind wandered to other vices to draw his attention, and one came to mind easily, if not being something he could acquire legally.
He sighed and slid his hands into his pockets, walking back to class, a small wistful whine drifting behind him as he cursed his luck.
“God, I wish I could have a smoke right now.”
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he reached up and carded his fingers through his hair, and set about dropping his heart rate.
“Is Hunter-Human angry?”
Koji glanced up from the conversations of the rest of the class. The hawk, who had taken the name Kuro after some discussion, had shown up on his shoulder just inside the gates, and hitched a ride into the class for now. He had cleared it with Aizawa as training a possible animal companion for class exercises, and gotten the ok to bring the raptor with him through classes.
Glancing at Kuro, he took in it dark feathered coat, and the way its head was focused on the door where Midoriya had left. The bird had been quiet for most of the morning, though attentive as Koji explained things to it in his soft undertones.
Speaking softly, Koji let his quirk fill his voice, translating it to the bird. “Um… I think he’s just annoyed. Lot’s of noise probably hurt his head.”
Kuro tilted his head and glanced down at Koji. “Is this not his territory? Is he not the strongest of the Human?”
Koji hummed as he considered how to explain, before nodding as he figured it out. “New territory for all, Midoriya is... New to area. Unsure.”
Kuro seemed to ponder this, and at the front of the class, the votes were being tallied up.
Koji glanced at the few people that had more than one vote.
While Yaoyorozu seemed to be surprised at her success, Iida and Bakugou had gotten up and were both clearly discontent with the tie. If Koda was focused on the conversation. He may have not noticed it, but behind him, a shifting sound, so faint it was nearly imperceptible. Koji glanced back, and his eyes widened as behind the tall and broad shouldered teen that sat behind him, Koda could see the lean frame of Midoriya leaning against the wall with his cold and blank mask on tight.
A flicker of motion, and Kuro swooped from his shoulder down and then up, the green haired teen only barely raising his arm in time to provide a perch. For a moment, Midoriya’s expression was one of faint bewilderment, before he reached up and slowly preened the hawks feathers.
Koda turned back to the front of the class with a feeling of relief, only to catch sight of Jiro also glancing back with a curiously.
The rest of the class was still focused forwards, as the tension between Bakugou and Iida began to rise.
“We can clearly debate this in private or share the duty! There’s no need for us to further compli-”
“Like Hell am I sharing a job with you. I should be the shitty Vice President.”
“Language! I’m seriously wond-”
“Enough! Both of you! We’ll do another vote than! All three of us! Winner gets president, second get vice, third gets Secretary! Does that work for you?” Yaoyorozu managed to break it up, and the class once more began scrawling down votes.
As they were passed forwards, Koda blinked as Kuro landed on his shoulder once more, a slip of paper in its beak. Adding Midoriya's vote to the pile, it was passed forwards once more.
As the students began to tally up the points, Koda saw a flicker of green movement, tracked by Kuro’s head as it twitched, and with a strange ease of motion, Midoriya was once more sat in his seat, silhouetted by the window beyond him.
Koda frowned and focused on scratching Kuro’s head. Hopefully his friend had found some calm with his departure.
Katsuki glared at the final tally on the board.
11 points to the Rich Girl made sense. She had stood up and seemed on top of her shit, unlike most of the extras.
But the issue was the scores between him and the High Class asshole.
5 for Iida, and only 4 for Katsuki.
Snarling at the insult, Katsuki turned, about to open his mouth, before snapping his jaw shut tight and hissing out a tight breath, before speaking.
“Fine, I’m the Secretary.”
Iida nodded and shifted his glasses, an expression of mild surprise and confusion in his blue-grey eyes. “Yes, of course. A pleasure to work with you, Bakugou.”
“And a pleasure to work with both of you two!” The refined tone made both of them glanced to the side where Yaoyorozu had already cleaned the board. Finished, she stepped between both teens and addressed the class. “Thank you. Everyone for your support and assistance in choosing for us!”
A variety of mild cheers and smiles greeted them, and Katsuki had to admit, Rich Girl had some skills with the people. He glanced around and met a pair of focused green eyes, and lips which twitched into the faintest proud smirk, before smoothing away to cool indifference.
Bakugou felt his heart clench. The two of them were on unstable ground, on shifting sand in a storm… but the fact that Izuku approved of him was something he wasn’t used to. Nor was he in the habit of looking for it.
As the cheers faded, Yaoyorozu spoke up once more.
“We should sit, it is Sensei’s hour, and we’ve wasted plenty of time.” she shoved both of them gently, and the three teens broke to find their way to their desks.
With that, Aizawa seemed to wake up, and the class began.
Simulation: Day 45 Hour 7:03:11
Death count: 124
Izuku laid down, and waited for the simulation chair to open the menu.
He had spent a day or so simply sleeping and messing with his new music feature. The sheer fact that he had the music menu was weird. It had offered a ‘thematic sync’ option for when he was in the game, but he could also set up and adjust playlists of various other songs, or select specific genres.
He had it set to a low jazzy soundtrack right now, but it was set to be thematic when he entered the game.
Focusing, he spoke the words.
He felt the now familiar rush, of a world around him fading to be replaced.
He blinked, and suddenly he was sitting in the driver's seat of a jeep, the darkness of an early evening covering the sky, while before him a gate and a looming complex sat, ominous in the dark. He stared at it, and reached down to turn on the jeep.
And of course it didn’t start.
Izuku glanced around, eyeing the Press Pass badge hanging from the rearview mirror that had his face and name with a measure of curiosity, before moving on.
On the passenger seat, a file and a video recorder sat waiting, along with a half empty pack of AA batteries.
Izuku picked up the video recorder, giving it a cursory investigation before setting it down to check the papers. The first was a set of googled directions: showing a round from the Colorado airport to a place called ‘Mount Massive Asylum for the Criminally Insane’. Just that alone was enough to make Izuku roll his eyes in exasperation.
“Fine, asylum, crazy inmates… what else.”
The third and fourth pages were short biographies about the asylum and its current parent corporation. The asylum had been opened mid 1900’s, then closed after a series of deaths. It was reopened in 2009… which Izuku was betting was not far before his current in game timeline. The company in charge, on the other hand, was looking to be an issue. Murkoff, an international company specializing in Military research, weapons and tech development, and surprise surprise psychiatric care. He flipped to the last page, and his eyebrows shot up.
“Someone blew the whistle.” He summoned his own notebook and started marking down terms to investigate. First off, he needed to keep an eye out for Murkoff and any files on them. Follow up with looking into the psychiatric testing, hunt down where the computers are and see if Izuku could find the whistleblower, or if not him, than whatever he left behind. Beyond that… Izuku was curious what his job was here. There wasn’t a simple ‘survive or die’ test… but he got the implication it was implied. Glancing around the rest of the car, he noticed he had a watch on, one with a touch screen.
Tapping it, he quickly found he had a message.
And on it, his mission.
‘Investigate Mount Massive Asylum.’
Well. that was unhelpfully vague.
Grabbing the camera, he slid the files into his notebook, the loose pages seamlessly fusing into the leather spine, the information just one more page. Sending the notebook away, he focused on searching the rest of the jeep. Everything from pening the glovebox and glancing through papers there, to bending down and looking under the seats in the rest of the jeep, he found a shoulder bag, and a variety of assorted junk. Two packs of gum, both mint. A small kit of bandages and disinfectant. A penlight. A bottle of half drunk water. Annoyingly, no mechanics tools. No wheel kit either. Stashing all his bits and bobs away, he stepped out and glanced over the camera, fiddling with it to open the menu and its options.
“Record… memory… battery meter, that’ll be fun… and… an infrared option..”
He held it up to see how night vision looked through the scope, and frowned. That was all but useless. Unless there was absolutely no light, he would be able to see without it.
Regardless. He slid the camera into his pocket, and glanced around the little gated entrance he was standing in. A glance in the guard post revealed that the computer was password protected. Regardless, he rifled through the desk and glanced around, finding another AA battery, several pencils he shoved in his bag, and more rolls of bandages. Taking one last attempt at the computer and restarting it, didn’t get him pass the password.
“Well. no way to go but onwards.”
Hiking the bag up, he jogged lightly up the last of the drive to the gate, a gentle shove swinging the wrought iron door to the side wide open.
Glancing around now that his eyes were adjusting, he saw something that gave him pause.
Military grade vehicles, all three of them bearing the Murkoff logo, and no military personnel. Which probably meant they were all either dead or worse, and that any left were going to try and kill Izuku. He glanced through them and found all three trucks were locked up tight.
Rolling his eyes at the lack of supplies he could grab, Izuku turned back and looked over the building, walking up to try and open the front door.
Stepping back, he looked over the rest of the large victorian style building, before wandering around the front of the building, looking over stone walls and through gates before eyes caught on an open window above him and to the side, with conveniently placed scaffolding leading up to it.
“Well. that's awfully convenient. And here I thought I would need to break a window.” glancing around the front garden once more, Izuku jogged over to the gate, eyes narrowing as he found the lower half of one of the wrought iron entrances was twisted back, leaving an opening.
“Yeah… rule one is gonna be don’t use those.”
He stepped back to get some speed and lunged up the wall, running shoes gripping granite and mortar to send his body up, where his fingers found a grip.
A tug, a swing, and he perched on the wall, looking down into the next courtyard. Glancing around still showed no actual people, so he gently dropped down and moved through the area. started climbing the scaffolding. As he did, he blinked, noticing that the music he had been listening too had changed to a very soft very quiet piano track. The music was so soft that at first, he had barely been able to hear it, but as he got closer, the music got steadily more and more onious and vaguely discordant.
getting up the scaffold was easy, and at the top he pulled himself in the broken window, getting a clear view of broken furniture, scattered chairs… and a massive bloodstain.
And on cue, the light flickered and died, casting the room into darkness.
“Oh, fuck you.”
Izuku was absolutely fine with not being a class officer. He was having a hard time adapting to be a student, thank you. Regardless, as the classes wore on, Izuku got to see heroes teaching once more. The first class, Cementoss’s literature class, went by peacefully. The construction hero was relaxed and non-judgemental, and had gone over his class syllabus with clear instructions. They would have some essays and such throughout the year, but most of the homework would be reading and a few questions.
The problems Izuku had been dealing with came roaring back with a vengeance sooner than he wanted though. The newest issue started in the last class of the morning.
English with Present Mic.
Izuku had been prepared for this, had realized that some of his teachers would be loud, and excited, and vocal.
But by the gods he wanted to cut Present Mic’s head off in under 20 minutes.
The man would not shut up. He talked. Loud in fast. A rapid mix of japenese followed by a rolling storm of english as he asked questions and wrote answers about what people would learn.
By the time class had come to a close, izuku was all but shaking with the effort of keeping his pulse slow. He was surprisingly hallucination free, for the moment, and with the rest of the class gathering their things, izuku slid his gear together and slipped out with the ringing of the bell.
Like the day before, he slid into the cafeteria with a minimum of fuss, and before people could grab his attention or ask to talk, he and his tray of food were back out in the halls, heading to find somewhere quiet to eat.
Behind him, two different girls watched him leave for two different reasons.
A click and hum of the camera coming on, was followed by Izuku glancing around, one eye through the IR viewfinder, the other wide open in the darkness.
“Now. where to go….”
Across the room a door was ajar, a sliver of light spewing from the gap across the bloodied floor.
Stepping around the bloodstain, he lowered the camera and glanced out and around the hall, seeing crashed cabinets and shelves blocking the hallway around him, and an open door across the hall.
He stepped carefully out, eyes sharp and ears perked for anything… but aside from the slow background music, there was nothing.
He cut through the room across from him, glancing up at the static of a TV as he slid past chairs, glancing around for anything he thought could be useful. Seeing nothing that really could help him, he headed through another door into the hallway past the first blockade. Sliding through a gap in the shelves he came out next to two office looking rooms, both with locked computers…. But there was a file.
He walked in silently and flipped it open, seeing a few pictures of a man, all shot mugshot style, and a single memo. His notebook came out and he jotted his own notes to check later, even as he glanced over the doc.
“Lets see… Walrider project notes…. ‘WPM’, nickname Billy… isn’t that short for William? ‘William P. M.’ maybe… Note for later. ‘Lucid Dreaming’ ‘Morphogenic Engine’” he didn’t recognize any of the medical terms that followed, but flipping it over gave him another name and a lead on what was going on. ‘Blood Dreams?’ ‘some sort of mindreading quirk?’ ‘Richard Trager, Murkoff Exec’
Sliding the docs into his notebook and vanishing it back to the system, Izuku rummaged through the offices, finding only a battery to add to his growing collection of AA’s.
He headed further down the hall, towards a door out towards the main entrance hall he had circled from the outside, and froze as a door to the restroom closed to his left. He stepped slow and quiet, tensed to move, eyes glancing in the room across from the bathroom to note a large vent, and bloodstains, in the midst of what must be a breakroom kitchen of some variety.
He glanced around, and then froze as shouting and running came his way from the glass door.
He gave it just a second of consideration, before turning. A foot off the crashed table, fingers wrapping on cool rough metal, and a smooth twist, and he was crouched in the vent, feet spread to lessen his weight as he slid through the duct work. As the door banged open, glass shattering over the hall, he froze, looking through a half closed grate as a figure with a shaved head slammed into the break room, glancing around before growling something unintelligible, slamming the door behind them as they left.
Heart hammering with adrenaline, Izuku held himself quiet as he tried to breath soft and slow, lowering his pulse so he could hear clearly past the drumbeat in his veins.
Looking through the vent, Izuku decided to keep going through. This would lead down towards the main door, and that was where he would hopefully find some more clues.
Izuku spun his chopsticks absentmindedly as he sat, sprawled across a windowsill up on his classes floor. The Heroics classroom floor was rarely used outside of homeroom and the actual Heroics classes themselves. Most of the other classes were on the floors below, with the general education students classrooms and homerooms below that.
He was looking out over the campus behind UA, the sprawling fields and groves of tree’s, and the distant testing grounds that stood in the distance.
As such, his first warning something had gone wrong was the sudden ring of an emergency siren through the hall. The sound was familiar, yet different, to those he had heard before, but as he stood up, hand sliding into his pocket and food forgotten, his body remembered how to respond.
His pulse began to rise, rushes of chemicles through his body chasing the lingering ache to vanish as muscles began to tense and shift. His eyes dilating to take in more light, the world seems to become oversaturated as he let his attention wander.
And then, one of the doors opened and a figure in a hoodie strode out.
‘That's the 1-A heroics classroom?’
“Fucking bots are so easy to trick.” came a soft scratchy chuckle.
Izuku narrowed his eyes and his balisong came sliding loose from his back pocket.
Apparently that was enough of a sound though, even with the loud sirens that echoed through the building..
A spin and backstep and the figure was facing Izuku, half crouched and hands held out low and wide.
“What do we have here? An NPC wandered into the mission!”
Face to face, Izuku could gauge his new opponent. Sharp red eyes stared out from under loose strands of silvery blue hair, and a medical mask covered the rest of the face. From his posture, voice and size, izuku was guessing that this was an older teen, maybe early twenties.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to be here.” Izuku called out, hand flipping the balisong around and swinging it open to rest comfortably as he slowly strode towards the intruder, who slowly stepped back in pace, eyes narrowed.
“You know, this is a surprise. I never thought of all people that the Simulation Killer would show up in UA.”
Izuku stiffened, twitching with the desire to strike at that name.
The name that reporters had coined for him when he left the simulation.
“I think you need to surrender.” Izuku picked up the pace, even as the other guy stopped, seemingly satisfied with his position.
“I don’t know. I think I'd rather finish the mission. Gotta get that completion rate-!”
Izuku moved at the last word. A jerking rapid motion that drew him close, knife held up at his shoulder and cocked for a jab as he got close.
As the blade twitched to begin they both blurred into high speed action. The point of the blade, and Izuku himself, rushed for the intruder, swiping for the chest before flicking towards the legs, and then a rapid frenzy of focused and debilitating strikes.
The bluenett dodged or deflected every last one, before with a twitch he reached up, and slid his hand along the blade as it passed him by.
In a second, the blade had vanished, leaving dust in its wake even as the two disengaged, both quietly catching their breath. Sparing a glance, Izuku scowled to see that the few fragments of blade he had left were cracked and rusted. The metal had seemed to dissolve under the other man's grip, and even now was slowly flaking away..
Dropping the now useless handle, he looked up, and saw red eyes.
“Nice quirk. Disintegration. Considering how you grabbed it… lets say a five point touch?” Izuku reached back, and wrapped his fingers around the hilt of the sword strapped at his side.
The shake of the older teens shoulders was a muffled laugh, but his eyes gleamed with intensity. “I gotta say, Player, you always were fast on the grab!”
Behind the other teen, a coiling portal of black smoke spun into existence, slowly flickering and drawing in the light. Izuku narrowed, as the words made things clearer.
This person… was one of the watchers. He had watched the livestream.
Izuku could only take a step, sword coming sliding up several inches from the sheath, before the bluenette stepped through the portal, his parting words echoing back.
“See you around, gamer.”
Izuku watched as the portal closed, his free hands fingers clenched over the back of his belt where his throwing knives or gun would have been… if he hadn’t kept them in his hero uniform the day before.
Breathing deep and slow, he let his pulse stagger and drop.
But in his chest, a familiar feeling was growing.
This was the start of something big. Something dangerous.
The click of his sword settling back in the sheath echoed even as he turned to his food, grabbing the tray. He headed down towards the cafeteria, ignoring the echoes of sirens as he considered his next step. He would let sensei know, and then… he would spend some time in the shop.
He needed to get ready for things to go wrong.
Behind him, the handle of the balisong slowly turned to dust.
Chapter 14: Menu Management
Rules of engagment...
and the Politics of starting a war.
“Someone with a disintegration quirk just got inside the building.”
Aizawa stared at the teen with wide eyes.
To be fair, he wasn’t expecting the kid to track him down just as he headed out of the teachers' lounge, and with a look that said he was 30 seconds from starting a fight. Then the words clicked and his eyes narrowed.
The green eyes glanced up with piercing energy that had been… undirected before now. “Less than a minute after the alarm went down, a teen came out of the 1A homeroom. He was probably early 20’s at max. Red eyes and pale blue, silver hair. His skin was rough, but he had a face mask so I couldn’t tell if he had scarring or something else. He mentioned that it was easy to cause a distraction. I confronted him.”
Aizawa fought back the instinctive beratement for that. Despite his age, he knew the teen in front of him was skilled and seasoned enough to pass most Hero’s when they graduated. His skill in combat wasn’t the question.
“The intruder recognized me from the simulation livestreams, made some comments. I tried to stab him with a blade before he managed to use his quirk. Some form of tactile disintegration, seems to be a five point like Uraraka-san.”
Aizawa filed the information away, even as the severity of the situation slowly rose in his thoughts.
“Where is he now? How did he escape?”
At this, Midoriya scowled slightly. “A warp gate Quirk, looks like a cloud of swirling black smoke. Someone else must have been assisting him. He left me with a parting comment about how he would see me around, and left.”
Aizawa breathed in deep and exhaled. “First things first, did you check the room?” “No. I’m not trained for crime scene investigation and decided priority was searching for you or another teacher who was calm and collected.”
Aizawa raised an eyebrow, getting a deadpan stare back.
“Alright. Step one? Classes are currently suspended until we can get the students outside accounted for. Go join them. I’m going to Nedzu. Is there anything else you have for me?”
Midoriya paused even as he started to turn away, before speaking soft and clear.
“I can feel a tension… like things are going to get violent fast and soon.” His expression sharpened. “I’d be ready for a fight in the next few days.”
Aizawa watched as the teen walked off, and rubbed his eyes.
“God, I’m too tired for this bullshit.”
And with that, he headed off to try and find Nedzu.
Koda glanced nervously around the field as the various classes grouped up. The siren had been shocking and the crush and thriving mass of people had freaked him, and Kuro, out. Even now, the hawk was circling high above, gliding around campus.
The quiet teen glanced over at where Bakugou, Iida, and Momo stood conversing quietly, the dark haired girl looking uneasy while a clipboard in her hand held a quickly sketched class roster.
He could remember very clearly how Iida and Bakugou had… dealt with the panic.
The flare of explosions that stunned the crowds, before Iida had stood on a table and shouted orders and information. Bakugou shouting expletives when groups started shouting back, letting Iida get control.
Momo had formed an airhorn and was helping direct traffic down the hall at that point.
Now, outside, it seemed her nerves were getting the better of her as she was looking for the last member of her class.
And then, as Kuro swooped down and came in for a landing, the missing member was suddenly there.
And something about him was setting Koda on edge. It wasn’t the usual vibe that Koda had come to recognize as something similar to a wild predator, nor was it the uneasy vibe of tension that class had sparked earlier this morning.
No, something about Izuku Midoriya… was waiting.
Koda’s thoughts got cut off as the new class secretary turned and narrowed in on him. “Deku! Where the fuck were you!” Bakugou’s shout caught the gaze of half the class where they were milling around.
A glance and Izuku shifted his path from the general shuffle of his class to the three officers. He came to rest facing the three teens with his arms crossed, his sword slung low, and Kuro perched on his shoulder. “I was enjoying some quiet. Had to talk to Aizawa, as well.”
Momo nodded, even as Bakugou bit back a comment. “Of course, Midoriya-san. We should be returning to class soon enough.”
Midoriya nodded and strode pass them, one hand gently caressing the hawk on his shoulders nape.
Koda nodded as Midoriya stood next to him. -It seems you left quite the impression on Kuro-
A blink, and a slight twitch of the lips, before hands came up. -Kuro? You named the ‘Black Kite’ Kuro?-
A flush across rocky skin. -He liked it! And it’s simple.-
-It’s fine… he’s happy?- Izuku’s eyes were curious, and somewhat haunted, his fingers… hesitant to ask the question.
-Yep. He’s offered to help us out more often, and I got permission to train him as a hero companion.- Koda was happy, and was more than glad to see the faintest hint of a smile across Izuku’s face.
“ALL STUDENTS! THE ALERT IS OVER, YEAAHHH!! HEAD BACK TO CLASSES YA’LL!” the boom that was present Mics announcement left half the classes flinching from sheer volume, and brought a level of tension to Midoriya’s frame as he half turned, hand resting on the hilt of his blade.
Regardless, as the push of students began, the green haired teen fell back, choosing to pace in Koda’s larger shadow, body half turned to watch his back as the two fought past the growing crowd to class.
Izuku dropped from the vent to land gently on the upper level of the entry hall, the upper floor hall was ringed and looked down on the desks and computers that sat below. A glance to either side, showed more barricades, but under the vent was a cracked open door.
Glancing around, Izuku stepped to the side, and frowned. He could…. Taste something in the air. Why did it taste almost like copper?
He gently swung the door open, only to flinch as a motion swung out from the dark, blood splattering across the floor next to him.
Pale skin, and coarse rope. A missing head. Bloodstains that spread across the floor and into the darkness of the room.
Izuku breathed in and almost gagged as the taste of iron and decay washed over his tounge.
“Gah… what the fuck.”
Glancing around the room, he saw that shelves lined the walls, filled with books. The faint light of the moon glistened across the far half of the room, barely coming in mostly closed windows.
Blinking as he tried to adapt to the dark, he reached and pulled the camera once more, casting the room in washed out IR light.
He wished he hadn’t.
Heads. Piles of heads stacked along the far side. Some still with frozen screams and cries and pleas. All of them slowly dripping to the veritable pool of blood that reached across the floor.
Izuku breathed deep, and fought past the taste of blood and fear as he creeped through, blood slowly soaking the soles of his feet even as he moved carefully.
As ripples of red stretched across the floor, Izuku turned the corner, rounding the end of the center shelf that was blocking the rest of the room, and froze in horror.
A soldier. Body armor, comms, and helmet included, was struggling where he was mounted on a pipe, over a pile of heads. Izuku could only swallow as the taste of bile swelled in his throat.
Out of the struggle, the soldier seemed to glance and make eye contact.
“They… They killed us. They got out. The variants.”
A cough, a spatter of fresh blood along his chin.
“Can’t… Fight them. You… gotta hide.”
A wheeze that ended in a gurgle, blood bubbling from the spike through his chest.
“Main door… locked… security office…. You have… To get out.”
And with that, the struggles slowly went limp, eyes staring blindly out into the room.
Izuku breathed deep and gagged, spitting bile out on the ground as he watched, for the first time, another human die.
It didn’t matter, it was a simulation. Or that somewhere Izuku knew this was fake…
It looked real.
It felt real.
Izuku breathed deep and tried to regain his composure, before glancing up and freezing.
The soldiers hand was resting on a belt of pouches…
Izuku swallowed as his throat, still burning with bile, seemed to catch,
Breathing deeply and exhaling slowly, he pushed off from the bookshelves to stand up straight, stepping around heads to reach out and begin his search.
No gun. No knives…. But something almost as useful.
Izuku pulled out the small earpiece and glanced up. A spare? Did he set his aside? Regardless he slid it in his pocket for the moment and kept looking.
A few moments later, he found it.
Nothing extravagant. Just a single sheath tucked into his combat boots.
But the knife was still there.
Swallowing his fear, he drew the blade, seeing it revealed to be a form of dagger, long and with a curved tip to the blade, the handle with a wire guard.
He held it, and twisted to see the weight, surprised the blade was so light, yet still had an odd… weight to it.
Grimacing, he tightened his grip, before slipping the sheath free of the boot, looking up and biting back an oath at the limp soldiers body.
Sheathing the blade, Izuku paused, before sliding it into his pants, clipping the sheath to the inside of his belt.
Now somewhat armed, but feeling even more uneasy at his future, Izuku crept to the next door, cracking it open to show he was past the barrier that he had seen earlier, and that the next bit of the hallway was clear.
He walked slowly and carefully, glancing around even as he had to vault a table in his path, landing with the faintest of thumps.
He walked on. The stairs were in the corner by the door, and if he could get there, than he could move down and get to work investigating some more.
He was halfway there when a door creaked and he froze, glancing with held breath for any sort of movement.
For several seconds, there was nothing.
Resuming his creeping, he turned sideways, preparing the shimmy through the last barrier to the stairs-
A hand, larger than his head, clamped on his shoulder, squeezing tight as it lifted and dragged, Izuku shouting in surprise and fear as he was held and twisted to see a scarred and mutilated face.
The body attached to said face was massive, easily twice Izuku’s height, and probably five times his weight.
The face sneered, and without warning, Izuku was thrown through the glass window overlooking the lower floor, the shock of pain breaking him from his fear just in time for him to land back first on the floor, the pain blowing the breath from his lungs and making his vision blurs and sway with black.
He saw black and seemed to blink and gasp as a face leaned over him. An older man, balding, who wore ragged looking church robes and spoke in a dreamy, somewhat awestruck voice. The words echoed through his head, even as he barely held on to consciousness. He could barely hear the harsh whispers, as his eyes closed. Just for a moment..
Just until the spinning stops.
"I... I see. Merciful God, you have sent me an apostle. Guard your life, son, you have a calling."
Class passed by fast… or perhaps Izuku perceived it that way.
He was distracted… not physically. He still listened, took notes and remembered things. But part of him… part of him was focused inwards.
Focused on the growing instinct that was wreathing his bones, making his control falter and flicker slightly. His heartbeat had been slowly spiking and settling for the last few hours, some part of him fighting to be ready, to hunt for the threat. To be proactive. His hands were cramping from white knuckle grips.
If you do not hunt, then you are hunted.
But, he kept the instincts reigned in.
As the last class of the day ended, the students began to disperse, drifting out of the last teacher, Snipe-sensei’s class.
Izuku closed his eyes and let the rest leave, while he focused on untensining his fists and shoulders. He let himself drift from the world, and let his attention fold into himself.
He could feel it. The phantom pains that sparked across the intricate network of neural tissue in his body. The spark of pains that flared up as memories of wounds he didn’t have haunted him. The way his sense of his body was heightened.
With a graceful sway of his body, Izuku stood and walked to the window, bracing his arms against the frame as across his back his spin slowly stretched taller, each joint popping and loosening as the muscles under his shirt rippled with slow, deliberate pressure. His eyes were focused out and across the city, the first hints of sunset setting the edges of the world with the colors of fire.
He breathed in, and exhaled as the last of the muscles tensed, and then relaxed.
Shoving off, he headed for the support department.
He needed something with a little more kick then paintball rounds for the next few days. And he needed to finish his new knives...
Izuku blinked awake, groaning in pain as the muscles across his back seemed to decide he was stupid and needed to suffer.
His memories rang back loud and clear.
The soldier's last words, getting thrown out the window, a priest.
He twisted and pushed himself off, rubbing his shoulder and hissing as he felt a fragment of glass that was shoved into the muscle.
A jerk and it came loose. A second to check revealed that was the only shard he could find that was still embedded in him, though his clothes were covered in gashes.
Thank god for leather jackets and denim jeans.
Pulling his bag up from where it lay, he checked it to see that it was still okay, and that the fall hadn’t broken anything.
Slinging it over his shoulders, hissing as the movement pulled at his fresh cut, Izuku glanced around.
Desks lined the area, and several computers were on and locked.
Regardless, he set to work.
He had a mystery to solve.
The Office of Nedzu
Nedzu sipped at his tea, his once polite expression now steeled and focused. “-and the classrooms? How did your check go?”
Aizawa sighed and mulled his answer over. “As far as we know, nothing was stolen. Nothing was destroyed, or even touched. The computer was never touched, the papers were where we left them, the desks were intact, the room has no bugs or bombs or markings. If not for the fact I trust Midoriya not to lie, I’d never know they had been there.”
“And was there any proof?”
“One of the kid's knives was turned to dust. I found the remains in the hall. It looks exactly like the effect that took down the front gate.” Aizawa downed the last of his tea with a swift motion, before finishing. “And with a warp quirk, it makes sense. Decay the door, step away and warp up, and while we all respond to the breach, they are farther past us. Misdirection at its most basic.”
Nedzu nodded, a pensive look crossing his face.
“We can’t call in a taskforce for a single sighting… not when our source is only Midoriya. Be on your guard. I’ll assign another teacher to join you for the USJ trip tomorrow, and have the rest of the faculty on high alert. That's the best I can do for now.”
Aizawa sighed, but he understood.
Fucking political bullshit.
Tomura Shigaraki paced. His hands, fingertips taped and half ripped gloves covering the rest, kept his destructive quirk in control. His room, once dark and closed off, had been expanded this last year. The wall to the next room over had been removed with careful application of his quirk, giving him room to move and think. Taking a note out of the gamer playbook, he had whiteboards and a pinboard up across the three walls beyond his original room. Across them were notes, pictures and files for each confirmed teacher he had heard of.
Present Mic, Midnight, Cementoss, Snipe, Eraserhead, Nedzu, Power-Loader, Hound Dog.
In the center, was All Might himself.
Before today, he had considered this to be his true opposition. The peak of his raids opposition.
But now, he had a new one.
Hanging at the bottom of the board, a single picture.
A render of one of the most… interesting screenshots.
The Gamer, the Simulation Survivor… It showed him standing atop a stairwell, the camera looking up past a literal waterfall of a stairway that ran red and pink blood and gore, past spent bullet rounds and broken and empty weapons.
And at the top, resting on one of the few clear steps, the blood splattered and exhausted form of Izuku Midoriya. His red hair was dark and dripped red, his face spattered and smeared with gore. His clothes were ragged, a simple white dress shirt that looked crimson. Across one shoulder, a shotgun. Hanging from his other hand, a wrench that was sparking and wreathed in blue lightning, the energy flickering down to the stream of water that ran from the glass tunnel behind him.
This one frame, the end of a half hour of death and mayhem, had been one of the most popularized photos of the teen. The ‘Rapture Massacre’ was one of the most vicious moments that had occurred during game 6. A hundred enemies, drawn to one funneled location. It had been a trap, orchestrated and planned by one teenager, to kill everything that had come close.
All to let him pass through an area unmolested.
If Tomura had taken any inspiration at all from the games, then it was this.
The act of learning could be a weapon unto itself.
Tomura paused his pacing as the Television in the corner flickered on, the static of his master's transmission filling the room.
“Tomura… How have you been, my student? How goes… your plan.”
For a moment, the urge to lie, to say that nothing was wrong, to deny his still growing instincts for the smallest bit of affection and reward, rose up.
He crushed that impulse.
“We have a new player, Sensei. The Survivor is in UA.”
The distorted voice was amused, but somewhat… wistful, “Is he? Curious. Is he in the fool’s class?”
”I can’t tell. I didn’t have a chance to acquire a roster. I only managed to confirm the schedule. I ran into the Gamer on my way to the exit. The kid’s as fast out here as he was in the simulation.”
“... Could you defeat him?”
Again, that pompous, stupid urge to ignore the facts, and he shoved it back. “...I could. But not without cost. He’s dangerous. Relentless. Without retreat? Without him being worn down? I would put even odds one of us dies, and I couldn’t tell you who.”
“Well, it seems you have a problem.”
Tomura agreed. But…. “As odds have it, Sensei. I also have a solution. I need the Hunter as well as the All Might Killer.”
“That… is no small request. The good professor will not be amused that we’re taking one of his more… interesting experiments..”
Shigaraki bit back a scoff of irritation. “If he can’t provide it, then I’ll deal. But that monster would make my odds go up far more.”
A pause stretched out as his sensei considered the proposal. “Agreed… I shall consult the doctor. Proceed as you can without it, do what you must to mitigate your risks.”
“Of course, Sensei.”
As the screen turned off, Tomura turned and paced to the board.
A fingertip touched the paper, stroking across the glossy rendering. Before sliding to another, smaller picture. Of a gaunt man with a lab coat and thick glasses.
“Would you join me, if I offered you the head of the man who kidnapped you on a silver platter?”
Chapter 15: Raid Planning
The last 24 hours before the USJ begins.
Izuku leaned against the workbench, twisting and inspecting the gun in his hand. Around him, the UA gun range was quiet. Which, considering it was several hours after school had let out, was to be expected. The long row of testing ranges was dark and quiet, only broken by the glow of his. It had taken only a few moments before Izuku had figured out the holographic targets. Even now, floating orbs appeared and vanished down the corridor. Izuku had set up on one of the alcoves, blazer and tie removed and folded behind him, and a pair of ear-protectors around his neck as he checked his weapons.
In his hands, was the S.T.A.R.S. custom weapon. A Samurai Edge. Loaded in 9mm, comes with a 15 round magazine, and customized for each member of the taskforce… And this one was customized by Izuku himself, for himself. Reinforced and longer barrel and skeletonized hammer, a taller ironsight, underslung flashlight and Laser-target. Unlike the variants he had recovered from various corpses in the game, this one was made of a matted black steel, with dark red wood inserts for the handle.
Twisting it, he read the inscription, etched into the black of the slide where the Stars Logo would have been on the in game models, just above the safety.
All Things Mortal, All Things Die.
Grim… but to the point. Izuku didn’t need the reminder, not usually. But it felt appropriate.
As he finished checking the gun, sliding the components and even dry firing once to check the pin was secured after assembly, he set it down and moved on.
The next was his grandfather's gun, and one of the two he had used in his entrance exam. The snub nosed Police 38. Special. A Colt revolver with 5 rounds of heavy hitting 38. Caliber ammo. He had actually used almost all his ammo for it in the entrance exam, taking out robots. Flipping open the cylinder, he checked it was clear once more, and then snapped it close and set it down.
The third gun, was a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun. He had gotten lucky with this, managing to buy it through a UA subsidiary leading up to the exam. It was basic and bare bones, and he was likely to leave it as a backup weapon at home. Setting it down, he hefted the largest weapon on the table up.
Once more, a 12 gauge. The combat shotgun was completely custom, coming closest to perhaps a classic Mossberg. It was pump action, and had a 12 round tube. The entire gun was once more designed and had been fabricated of the dame dull black metal as the Samurai, and he had done some major modifications. The entire barrel was thicker than people would expect, braced and reinforced to take and block some major damage. The same went for the stock of the gun. The same style of underslung light was present on the shotgun as his handgun, and there was a strap and clip that would click into place on his armor folded to the side of where it sat.
Resting the gun up, he sighted down its length, arms moving and torso twisting as he adjusted to its weight and balance.
Satisfied, he set the shotgun down, and reached across the counter to grab three boxes of ammo, all of them rubber and paint rounds.
He needed to get used to his new guns.
Two hours later, Snipe walked through the gun range, clearing it out one last time, and paused.
A bin full of spent casings where before there wasn’t one earlier. He glanced around the range, before tapping the computer near the bin, opening up the command options.
“Range System, Assessment Lane 4, if ya would darlin.”
A beep and a profile picture came on the touchscreen near the lane, green eyes staring out.
Above it, a series of numbers came up.
Rounds fired: 403
Blinking, Snipe checked the system wasn’t tampered with. He could match that accuracy, even beat it, with his quirk. But unaided? That was… Remarkable.
Tapping the screen, he hit the high-speed hologram replay.
Across the lane, holograms flickered on, and lines of color passed through each mark as it flashed, showing roughly how each shot took it.
“Huh. now ain’t that a sight.”
Izuku staggered back into the locker, pulling the door closed as he slumped against the wall, using the pitch black of the dark to hide, with his hand coming up and muffling himself as he blinked back tears of pain. He wasn’t sure what was actually broken, but he knew that something was wrong with his knee, considering he could barely limp around the hallways right now.
His first run in with the variants. As they had been called, after getting defenestrated had ended with the asshole from a chair in the hall lunging at him. He had managed to get away, and reach the security room. A scavenaged RFID card had got him in the system, and he had just a moment to try and figure things out before the entire administration building had the power cut.
But he had seen there was a motion on the screen looking over the basement generator, and that had become his next target.
After a near miss with the big variant who threw him out the window, Izuku had made his way to the stairwell.
Of course, this is when the baseball bat carrying assholes had started wandering around.
He had one bad encounter, before he managed to get to the basement, when one had thrown their bat and nailed him in the leg. Even limping, he had managed to get down the stairs and into the pitch black lower floor, tucking himself into various lockers and under beds as he limped and crawled to find the Fuel Pumps for the generators.
Now he just had to get past the variant guarding the actual generator, and then, it would be back up to the first floor.
He didn’t expect he would get out. There was still a mystery to solve, but if he didn’t progress, he would never get anything done.
Breathing slow and trying to keep his pulse and hissing of pain down, Izuku listened.
Izuku waited, and his hand reached back, grasping the knife handle tight as he slowly pushed the door open. The basement was nearly pitch black, but izuku had adapted. His eyes dilated wide to catch any fragments of light, his ears perked to listen to echo’s and his skin tingling with the sensation of the air flowing through from the vents.
His steps were staggered and slow, every other step sending a surge of pain rushing up his leg and across his spine.
He could sense the variant.
It was only a few feet away, and judging by the sound and the way the voice echoed as it rambled, it was looking at the generators.
Izuku tightened his grip, and moved.
It was brutal.
It was messy.
He had to jump, sloppily and off balance, to get high enough.
The cut was jagged, a combination of no leverage and the variant thrashing in his hold.
But when it was done…
Izuku vomited to the side, bile spilling from between his teeth as he snarled at the taste of blood.
He roughly cleaned the knife on his pant leg, the streaks of red only a darker black in the darkness of the basement.
He slid the knife back in its sheath and reached down, prying a clenched fist open to free the baseball bat, using it as a cane as he hobbled to the generator.
A moment of fiddling with the camera as he got it out, and he could see the instructions somewhat through the rangefinder.
It took another minute of messing around and changing settings to get it clear enough to read, and then he followed through.
Pull the lever to on, twist the nozzle to make sure the gas was flowing freely, and then press the button and…
A whir of power, the whine of the motor, and the lights flickered on.
Behind him, no longer concealed by the darkness, was a spreading pool of blood that matched the dark stains across his arms and chest.
He was more than halfway back to the stairs to the first floor when what he did fully registered, and he gagged, slumping against a wall as he tried to not hyperventilate, tears dripping down his cheeks.
That was his first kill.
Bakugou felt like something was crawling up his spine.
Since yesterday, he had felt it. Something that… was familiar in the worst way. A bit of instinct that reminded him of that week a year ago. Of watching Izuku shiver with fear and held back emotion as he and his ‘friends’ had left, laughing at how useless a quirkless kid would be as a hero.
The feeling back than had been something he ignored. Something he brushed off as he went about his day, as he trained and exercised and bitched out his ‘followers’. But every time he ignored it, it came back stronger.
He had ignored it when Izuku wasn’t in class the next day.
It got stronger.
He had ignored it when auntie Inko had called mom and they had a hushed conversation that ended with his mom rushing out of the house.
It Got Stronger.
He had ignored it when two cops had come to ask his teacher something before class.
It Got Stronger.
He hadn’t ignored it when his mom had asked him about Izuku, and his first words had been “What about that useless Deku.”
Mainly because his mom had slapped him at the time.
It wasn’t for another week before he started hearing about the full story.
Until he had found the streaming page.
The feeling had surged when Izuku finished the simulation. That surge of unease and worry and guilt.
And now he was feeling that same surge again.
He glanced back to see that Izuku was sitting behind him, one hand holding open a notebook of grid paper as a fine tipped pencil sketched and edited a mechanical design. Notes that Bakugou couldn’t quite make out were everywhere, but something about the shape felt familiar. He would have asked more, but Sensei chose that moment to come back in and start homeroom.
Bakugou knew something was up. Something bad.
He swore to be ready.
Lunch had come, and Hatsume was excited.
On the table, her newest (and really only) customers outfit and gear was laid out. She had done some tooling. Adjusting things based on how Midori had asked in order to give the suit a little more flexibility. Added to that, she had set up and made some better storage for his various weapons, and added in more basic tools that he had listed off.
Next to it, was the sword he had been using.
And she used the term sword loosely.
While the hilt and guard was… serviceable, the blade itself was merely ground out of a piece of tool steel. There was no artistry or care put into it, and it was showing. Her eyes traced slight warps through the metal, taking sight of nicked and pitted edges where use had damaged it. She could see that Midoriya had attempted some maintenance. The edges, damaged as they were, had been sharpened and honed. And the blade was clean, if nothing else.
Next to it, six different knives lay, a freshly crafted set of synthetic sheaths next to them, as well as the holsters for the three guns Midoriya had planned to carry.
Mei was more annoyed that she hadn’t finished the other two projects.
One, the much larger project, was still having issues with structural integrity and the collapsing tech that she was trying to integrate was being.. Obstinate.
And the other one just had a tendency to explode. The gas she was using to fuel it was easy to acquire, but releasing and charging it the right way so it would maintain shape and effect was more complex and annoying than the rest of the outfit modifications. Even now, she only had about half of the working weapon, and it had none of the range or capability that the videos she had seen demonstrated. Sighing and flipping her welding goggles down, she hefted the square shaped handle and nozzle, a flick of the safety and a press of the trigger and a pulse of gleaming blue white plasma flickered out, and then dissipated into a cloud of loose gas and smoke after only a few feet.
“Electromagnetic channels giving you an issue?”
Mei held back a yelp of surprise, glancing over to see the form of Izuku slouched against the wall, arms crossed.
“Uh, Yeah. The plasma cartridges work just fine, but using the EMP emitter to shape the charge is still not working. Sorry!” Mei blushed at the idea of not having an order done yet. She knew she could do it! She knew it!
“Its fine.” The green eyed teen glanced across the table as he strode closer, hands ghosting over some of the armor as his eyes narrowed. “Everything finished over here?”
“Everything prepped and assembled except the plasma cutter and the axe. Oh, and your real sword is still being forged by Sensei’s contact.” Mei explained, setting the half assembled weapon back on the workbench. Shoving her goggles back up, she rubbed at her eyes. Closing them to try and ease the ache of her quirk.
When she glanced up, Izuku was staring at her with a curious tilt to his head.
“What? Do i have grease on my face again, cause i sw-”
“When’s the last time you slept. Or ate anything.” His voice was curious, and somewhat flippant.
“Who has time for-” An arm around her waist, “-WhaT ARE YOU-” a shift and she was held over his shoulder, arms hanging loose as Izuku calmly walked off, the mechanic over his shoulder. “-H… HEY LET ME GO!”
Mei started as Izuku spoke up, and flushed as she realized they were standing in front of- “Power-Loader sensei, I’m taking Mei to get some lunch, please send my gear up to class for my afternoon classes if you have a moment?”
Mei crossed her arms even as her teacher agreed, and Izuku took off. Each step was smooth and the ride was… actually sorta comfortable. His steps were even, his shoulders swaying ever so slightly with each step, even as she was rocked side to side and swung… slowly...
Before she really was aware of it, she was sitting slumped on a bench in the teachers lounge, half blinking sleep from her eyes as she rested at the side of a table with a platter of small sandwiches and a bright pink smoothie next to it.
Across from her, a notebook open and pen spiraling around graceful fingers, was Midoriya. He had his own platter of small snacks, already half empty, and a glass of deep green black smoothie that he sipped from.
As Mei blinked the sleep from her eyes, her kidnapper spoke up.
“Hatsume. You need to sleep and eat between projects. Even if its a power nap and a smoothie. Speaking of, eat.” Midoriya demonstrated with narrowed eyes as he took a bite of sandwich, as a shiver ran up Mei’s spine.
Mei barely grumbled as she picked up and chomped on a sandwich, eyes narrowing even as she felt the strange pressure to do so lessen.
Huh, wonder what that was.
Aizawa glanced over the students milling around the bus, the combined efforts of the newly formed student council slowly shifting them so they could enter and find seats easily.
His eyes, somewhat instinctively, drifted towards the quiet motions of signing that passed between two of his students. From his angle he was only to catch bits and pieces, something about the hawk on Koji’s shoulder, and signals.
Even with the fact he was mid sign, Midoriya caught his gaze with his own, eyes flickering away from his conversation for less than a second. That was another thing. Midoirya’s mood since the incident the day before. He had seemed far less… nervous and unsure. The careful gazes, the hesitant pauses as he tried to figure out how to act around people. They were still there, but they passed quicker.
If Aizawa was optimistic, he would say that maybe the teen had just started learning how to interact.
Aizawa wasn’t an optimist.
As students began filing into the bus, taking seats, Aizawa glanced back, and narrowed his eyes.
Somehow, his new problem child had gotten more weapons than he had during the battle trial.
Noting this for future reference and to check with the support system, Aizawa gave the driver the go ahead for them to take off.
The USJ awaits, and he didn’t want to make 13 wait for him too long.
Tsuyu glanced behind her, seeing the form of Midoriya sitting in the back corner of the bus, holding up a small squared off canister and what looked almost like a drill or some sort of hand tool, if you had stripped the front half off. She ignored the curiosity of what it was, to actually speak to the person who had been confusing her for the last few days.
Eyes darting up, even as the squared canister was slid into a slot and hissed into place. “Yes, Asui?”
“Call me Tsu. I’ve noticed that you don’t talk or like people. And that you’ve never shown off your quirk.” By now more people were taking note of this conversation, from the somewhat stoic Todoroki who sat in the corner across from Midoriya, to the red spikey haired Kirishima who was turning back to look, joined by Kaminari and Sero. Ashido leaned over another seat at the idea of gossip, pushing until she was balancing over the calm and focused form of Bakugou, who was listening with a smirk. “In fact… Bakugou claimed you don’t have a quirk.”
A second of silence, as Midoriya held Tsuyu’s gaze.
“Well. He’s correct. I don’t quite see how that matters, however.”
"Are you kidding me? How the hell did a powerless kid like you even get into the school? What the hell." Mineta shouted eyes wide.
As murmuring and comments passed around, that singular comment stood out. It was crude and disrespectful, and the sheer thought that it was enough to make him reconsider his path in life was downright ridiculous.
So ridiculous was it that it actual prompted a deep, growling chuckled from the green eyed teen.
A chuckle which was so… distorted and sarcastic that it stole the murmurs from the others throats.
Izuku hooked the tool he had been fiddling with under his cloak somewhere and stood, pushing forwards to lean over the seat that was in front of him, directly above both Jirou and Tooru.
His eyes focused only on the purple balled head of the person who drew his ire.
"Your name is… Minoru, right?" The words, innocent as they sounded, were backed by a wave of intent that made several students shudder.
"Y-yeah! What's it to you!"
"Just… checking. Anyway. I've got a… let's call it a curiosity. Are you implying that you need a quirk…. Some sort of combat applicable ability, to be a hero?"
Mineta quivered with a bit of fear, and then rallied to support his argument. "Yes! If you don't have a quirk you shouldn't be a hero!"
Izuku nodded, his eyes half closed and lips quirked, as he slowly curved his spine into a distinctly feline looking stretch. "Glad to hear that. now, let's... elaborate." His eyes still half closed, he crossed his arms, stepping out into the main aisle of the bus and walking with slow steps, body swaying counter and balanced with the bumps of the road. "I presume, going by your definition that you would assume heroes must have something… combative, as a quirk. such as Bakugou, or Todoroki. Something dangerous, destuctive….. or perhaps like Kirishima, who's durability let's him ignore damage, to a point."
Some of the class was nodding along nervously, looking almost nervous at the way this was making sense, while Aizawa blearily peeked out from his bundled sleeping bag at the front.
Good. They sensed the trap even if oh so few could see it. Izuku would have grinned if it wouldn't ruin the web he wove, his steps taking him towards the front of the bus as he paced and spoke.
"And you are… correct. The quirks we associate with heroics, with these large fights and flashy costumes… those are loud and combative." Izuku grinned. "But…. How does that explain my battle trial."
A collective flinch, a shift of motion as everyone listening, realized that he had already proven his point.
"Sorry, that's a bit biased. Instead ...consider Sir Nighteye, perhaps? I mean, one of the few who could claim being a sidekick to the legendary All Might… but his quirk is a form of foresight, which doesn't make him a fighter. No. That would be skill and experience. Or perhaps… our sensei, the mythical Eraserhead, would be a better example? He's practically quirkless. His only power… is to nullify other quirks." at this, Izuku waved a head forwards, now standing near his teacher, with the class behind him.
Gasps of realization from several of his classmates as they, apparently connected some dots actually make Izuku pause, turning and blinking out at the sea of faces still focused on him. "Didn't you all know that? Our sensei makes people fight quirkless, which is where his training and skill are superior."
As the murmuring rose, he spoke up once more, twisting slowly as he drew attention back. "I have one more… let's say close at hand example."
He shifted his gaze from the bulk of the crowd, to a specific person, who, by his design, was now seated across the open center seats of the bus from Izuku's position.
"Our class president."
Momo blinked and flinched.
Izuku however, despite his eyes focused on Momo, was paying attention to Mineta, who's eyes had widened with lust and a sudden surge of opportunistic instinct, as he kept up to stand on his seat, leveling his gaze with Izukus.
"Hey! How dare you insinuate the president is quirkless like you!"
"Really? Explain how her skills and mine differ, than."
"Absolutely! Yaoyorozu has… um… has…" Mineta blinked as he tried to come up with something that wasn’t obliquely sexual.
Izuku spoke, and his voice was pitched lower, a deeper echo than his casual rant. "She has a quirk that gives her access to a vast array of tools. But to use any of them I guarantee she had to practice day in and day out. I may not have as broad an arsenal… but I would bet I am far more skilled with what I do have."
As the conversations and shouting began to pick up, the bus began to slow to a stop, Izuku glancing to confirm that he was, indeed, the first person in line to get off after sensei.
Leaving the class to its discussion, he wondered if any of them would realize that he never did explain how he got accepted.
Izuku ducked through the broken security doorway, breathing deep and slow as he hobbled around the room, before coming back to the console. He started tabbing through files and system, before finding an option to send a backup of the files to a secure location, blinking he fumbled for the notebook and found what he needed.
“The email that the first message was sent too. That would be the reporter, me. That would be the place to send the files…”
A minute of looking found the copied email, and he typed out the page.
“email@example.com, right. Now onto the next part.” a few clicks and he selected all the security cam footage, and copied it over to the message, encoding everything in a compressed zip file to speed up the sending process, the computer whirring and beeping as the message began to send
“Alright. Just gotta-” a jerk cut off Izuku, a hand wrapping around his neck and pulling him back and off balance even as a large needle was jabbed into his chest. A dark green liquid flowing in from the injection even as he tried to regain his balance and twisted.
Only to see the face of the priest.
“Of… fucking course…” Izuku gasped out, feeling the rush of his heart spread a numbing heaviness through his torso.
“I'm sorry, my son, I didn't want to have to do this to you. But you can't leave, not yet. There is so much yet for you to witness.”
As Izuku went limp, the priest dragged him to look at a monitor as he pulled up a saved recording. “Will you see it? Can you?” on the screen a group of soldiers. Walking into some sort of reception space that looked far more modern than the reception hall he passed through earlier. “Our lord, the Walrider tearing His truth into the unbelievers!”
One by one the soldiers in the recording were sent flying or torn to shreds, flashes of black and white detailing blood splatters and broken bodies as they all died in under a minute.
Even as he watched though, he could feel his eyes slowly going dark, his focus wavering even as he was pulled face to face with the priest once more. “The only way out of this place is the truth. Accept the gospel and all doors will open before you.”
And with that, the world went black once more.
Uraraka stretched and flexed as she stood, glancing at the large domed structure as sensei started leading the crowd of teens up the front stairs. She took in the sight, somewhat stunned and wondering how much the design had been based off the United Studios Japan building, which shared a very similar style.
Regardless, she followed the class, mind somewhat drifting as she considered the words of her… was he a friend? Associate? Of Midoriya. He had spoken more in that 5 minute ride than she thinks he’s ever spoken since she first met him… and certainly more than in the few compilations that she had watched of the simulations. But was he right? Was fighting quirkless enough to be a hero… and more importantly, if she could fight quirkless, and still have her quirk? Wouldn’t that be smarter and better?
She needed to do some research when she go- OHMYGODITS13.
She focused on the space themed hero, and listened as the somewhat shy user of the Black Hole quirk began to talk about how quirks and skills could be dangerous, but that learning to use them was important. The hero was barely getting into explaining the USJ, (It really is based off the themepark!) was a testing facility designed to replicate natural disasters.
However, that was interrupted, the sharp tones of Midoriya swearing loudly cutting through the teachers speech and the crowd's attention like a firework.
Glancing at him showed a grim expression as he stared down the stairway to the center plaza.
And at the swirls of black mist that began to coalesce.
Chapter 16: Entering the PVP zone
Welcome to the USJ
Jiro felt her heart beat faster and faster, feeling a strange sense of panic and focus overcome here.
But it's not just the villains that cause this.
The swarm of them had gathered down below, and the doors behind them all were now locked, proof that somehow the USJ had been locked down.
But she kept glancing from the villains to the thing that's really throwing her off.
‘thump thump… thump thump… thump thump…’
She knew music, knew the speed and pacing and was good at figuring out BPM. Hell, she used her own pulse and heartbeat to fire off sonic blasts. She could read heart rates to see when people were panicking or lying, or angry.
But there had been a nearly constant tune throughout the last three days. Only flickering and speeding up when something interesting was happening, and immediately slowing down afterward.
It had been easy to see, and was slow, inevitable, a waltz playing in the middle of a rave.
And right now, Izuku Midoriya’s pulse was speeding up.
‘Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump,thump-thump’
It wasn’t just his pulse either. The moment he had reacted, glancing and focusing on the plaza, he had seemed to stand taller, his skin slowly losing the faintly sallow pale tint as a reddish pink flush, that looked healthier by far, began to spread across his limbs. His eyes had seemed to almost bloom, when she caught his gaze sweeping to the doors behind where he had stood, staring down the steps to the plaza, the once dark and muted green of pine trees was now emerald bright and seemed to catch the light, flickering to meet her gaze with the slightest quirked eyebrow and what seemed to be amusement.
And then he had glanced back down.
Below, the crowd of villains parted as three figures strode out of the portal.
First, a slender young man with silvery blue hair that was pulled back into a short ponytail, his form-fitting blue shirt held tight in clenched hands that seemed to hang off and perch across his body, with two clasped around his neck like a noose, and one that looked almost like a gas mask as it wreathed his mouth.
To his back, a massive form strode out, hunched over as it loomed around him. Black skinned and clawed hands, with a beaked jaw that peeked out from beneath a thick metal cap. Across its arms and back, layered plates of steel wreathed its massive form, and seemed to be almost embedded into its skin. From around its waist, a heavy skirt of chainmail and barbed hooks hung.
As it passed out of the mist and seemed to shadow the hand covered man, the mist swirled together to form a strange man like shape with a layered metal collar. His body nothing but flickering smoke and shadow, with two gaslight eyes that peered around.
As the three super-villains came to a stop, the leader, wreathed in hands glanced up and around. Even this far away, Jirou could hear the leaders voice without issue, and judging from the shifting of Izuku’s head, he could make it out too. Around them, the class was panicking shouting about how this wasn’t possible. But those who could hear the villains were far more focused on the threat at hand.
“Hmmm… I was expecting All Might would be here. What a shame.”
The leader focused back on the figures above him, eyes locking on the green haired survivor even as he took in the rest of the teenagers who were panicking and the two pro’s who were preparing to fight.
“Kurogiri, separate the students. Remember to keep track of the green one.”
“Of course, Shigaraki.”
Turning back, Shigiraki took a seat on the edge of the fountain, one foot perched up as he glared up at the world past his arm.
“Hmm… If he’s not here in 15 minutes. I’ll start personally killing people until he shows up. Should at least get his attention.”
The Nomu, crouched at his side, was silent, but something about it gave her a bad vibe.
Izuku glared at the villains, eyes roaming as he clocked and assessed every one of the targets he could see. He glanced away to see his sensei stepping up, his capture weapon scarf in his hand.
“Be careful. I’ll help you out.” Aizawa glanced at the younger teens cool tone and leapt down the stairs, rings of his weapon flowing around him as he dove at the fray.
From his perch, Izuku pulled his handgun and began to distract and blind several of the villains with precise paintball rounds, splatters of paint blinding enemies with ranged quirks, giving Aizawa time to reach the villains below.
Izuku’s assault was cut off as the flicker of black smoke rushed his way. He dove back towards the class, rolling for a sec as he dodged the wave of black that now separated Sensei from the class was quickly distracted as the misty shape of the teleporter, Kurogiri, appeared in front of the class.
“I really am quite sorry about this. Greetings, I am Kurogiri of the League of Villains. And I cannot allow you to remain in a group. We are here to kill the symbol of-”
An explosion, blasting past Izuku as a Kirishima darted around the other side, fist slamming towards the warper… only for the red-haired teen to vanish into the smoke and disappear.
“KIRISHIMA!” The shout was anguished and echoed from behind Izuku. But he was focused, handgun at his side and pulse pounding in his ears.
“What a reckless attack… Now, you shall all join him, and be scattered-”
Izuku blinked, seeing the world in clarity as tendrils of smoke rushed forwards.
He turned and bolted, getting several steps in before the smoke began to rush past him, but that was enough he had already marked the two people closest to him.
He lunged, each arm wrapping a different waist even as the world was engulfed in darkness.
Waking up in a padded cell, where the walls were covered in the ramblings of a religion obsessed madman was one thing.
Escaping the cellblock around that cell? Was far more difficult.
Izuku ducked around another corner and ran, the long hall before him lit by only the moonlight passing through each window to his left.
Behind him, the footsteps, the laughs, and jeers of one of two fucked up cannibalistic assholes who clearly didn’t get the memo that Izuku was off the menu.
Izuku cursed, loudly when he saw the other one down the next hall. Even if he had time, he wasn’t sure he cou-
Time to bluff.
“FUCK YOU, I REFUSE TO BE A MEAL!”
Hands ripped open as the glass shards embedded in the window still sliced open his fingers, but he gritted his teeth past the screams, and caught the bar beneath the window, hanging out of sight but letting his body slam heavily against the wall.
It hurt, and his grip almost slipped, but as he slowly shimmied down the length of the hall, fingers bleeding, he heard it.
“Wait, did he jump?”
“Damn, I was hoping to get his liver. He looked tasty.”
“Indeed. What a waste of fresh meat.”
Izuku snarled to himself. His lungs were burning, his blood pumping so hard it hurt.
And then, his grip slipped and he cried out, the rain following as he fell down…
And landed in a pool of blood and corpses.
As he wheezed, he could make out the sign on the door next to him.
Izuku rolled with the drop, taking the impact as he let his two companions sprawl across the sand and dirt. He took a second to stand, stretching even as he took in the half buried buildings and uneven rubble and dry sand that layered the world around him. He patted himself down, his cloak had cushioned the blow, the shimmering metallic cloth shaking the dust off easily as the teen glanced around, a single eyebrow raising as he took in dozens of villains scattered about the landslide zone, most of whom were now looking at his direction and beginning to head his way.
He glanced back, taking in the still shell shocked and distracted forms of both Jiro and Yaoyorozu, before glancing back and rolling his eyes. The villains had barely advanced, clearly joking and looking more like a bunch of 2 cent thugs than actual threats.
Regardless, Izuku dropped the magazine out of the Samurai Edge and glanced at his bullet count.
“10 in the clip, 1 in the chamber, and 3 clips of 15 paint rounds in my pocket…” a quick head count of his incoming attackers put a smirk on his face. “Oh, this is gonna be fun.”
He stretched a bit and felt a strange sense of familiarity at the situation. For a month now, he had been trying to be normal. To be polite and peaceful.
Right now? All of those little masks and efforts and attempts at being normal just flaked away. He felt… just like he was coming home.
He breathed deep, and let the tension… the hesitation… the myriad of second guessings and fears and anxieties…. Vanish beneath the rising tide of the one thing he knew he could do.
It all faded… beneath the rising sea of Killer Intent.
Kirishima rolled back up and darted through another section of the burning building, still running towards where he had glimpsed another portal as he moved. He ducked a villain, arms wreathed in flowing black smoke and ash swinging at him and breaking against his hardened skin as with a growl of focus, he slammed his shoulder into the taller woman’s stomach and pushed.
She screamed out as he sent her out the window behind her, the two of them falling a story down into the next street, and the woman choking as she landed with a meaty thud.
Rolling to his feet, Kirishima looked back and flinched as the window above him exploded outward, a quirk that expanded air meeting the already burning room.
His shirt was still blackened and smoking from the last time he dealt with that attack.
He stumbled around the next street corner and nearly cried in relief. There, standing above a trio of unconscious villains, was Ojiro, his long tail swaying as he glanced around.
“Dude! What happened back at the front! Did you get warped too!”
Ojiro nodded and spoke up, still keeping an eye out. “After your attack, he got most of us with his portals. No idea where the rest are, but I’m guessing we were all scattered. This is the Conflagration Zone, right?”
“Sure looks li-” the familiar pressure of air shifting. “DOWN!”
As the heroes in training dove and rolled away, another compressed air explosion erupted, flames washing over the two teens as they went for cover.
“HAHAHA YOU FUCKERS ARE GONNA BURN!”
Kirishima was getting pissed at thi-
A metal pipe, floating in midair behind the villain as he went careening out the second-floor window he was looking out of. The crunch of bone followed by a high pitched “SORRY!” catching all of them off guard.
“You guys okay?” came the shout as both teens took in the floating gloves and held pipe of Hagakure.
“That was SO MANLY!”
Jiro looked up, feeling her skin crawl as something in her *screamed* to run.
She could hear it. A drumbeat in double. Two taps. Two strikes.
Faster, the blood rushing as a heart hammered.
Faster, the skin warming, the color returning until he nearly looked pink.
Faster, his throat letting loose a chuckle that was light-hearted, that was content, and sounded… almost happy.
140 bpm, where insteasd of speeding up, it seemed to balance.
A drumline by which death would come.
Izuku stepped forwards, and his sword was drawn with a ringing of steel that sounded almost eager.
“Come then. Indulge me for a moment, jackasses.”
Todoroki breathed in, flickers of steam appearing around him as he warmed his body back up, the water that soaked his form evaporating and boiling off as he tried to recover from using so much ice while soaked in water.
Below him, the water of the flood zone was sporting a large spiked glacier. The sprawling curves and spires a sign that his panic had overcome his control.
His father would have had… words if he could see this.
At the shout, the dichromatic teen glanced back to see there was another class member on the boat, the long green black hair and stooped stance clear from the distance as he recognized the girl with the frog quirk. Tsu, wasn’t it?
A flicker of his ice, and a ramp shifted and let him slide down, leaping gracefully to the deck of the boat. “Are you injured?”
“No, kero, just uncomfortable from the cold. If we get to the shore I should be fine.”
Todoroki immediately realized his problem and sighed. If she was vulnerable to the cold, and he could only make ice…
He held out his left arm.
“I’ll keep you from freezing, come on.”
Momo staggered to her feet as she heard the first scream, and glanced only to blanch, her mind skipping a beat at the sight of a bloodied sword, and a villain staggering back screaming as he tried to hold his arm.
His arm which ran red from blood, with a clear cut line to bone across his shoulder.
The blade flickered out, the flat swinging fast and whistling as it strikes the side of the tall man’s face, a tooth sent sprawling even as the figure staggered back and fell off the edge of the tilted roof they stood on.
Across the roof, she heard it. A word muttered with such casual boredom it cut through her fear like a flash of lighting.
Bakugou growled and turned, throwing his hand out and sending another wall shattering and blasting into the poor villains who though an ambush would work. Even as the wall sent screams of surprise and pain up, his eyes roamed for his next target.
The collapsed buildings and ruined infrastructure of what he guessed was the ‘Ruins Zone’ was a goddamn maze. He had seen two other portals in the air, but getting there was an exercise in odd half streets and looming monoliths that were rotting apart.
He turned and narrowed his eyes as another trio of villains popped up, standing on top of some sort of gas station looking place and immediately opening up. There were spikes, some sort of force blast, and vibrating glass shards that came rocketing towards bakugou, who unleashed a flash and smoke variant from his hands, concealing himself even as the projectiles ripped through the smoke. He darted back and behind an overturned and rusted taxi, narrowing his eyes as he considered how best to-
Was that an I beam?
Was that an I-beam being thrown like a javelin at the building?
A crash, and screams of pain, confirmed it, and Bakugou was already running to finish the job even as the pink, white and black form of the girl with the Anti gravity quirk made a super jump and landed on the beam, booted foot kicking out to knock teeth out of one asshole.
Grinning, bakugou lunged up and blasted through a window and into the floor beneath the only other unpinned attacker, sending him dropping through rubble and flames to crash to the floor, where bakugou took no time sending the rounded bracer of his gauntlet into the morons skull, bouncing his head off the wall and making him go limp.
He glanced up to see Floaty Girl looking down at him.
“Forget it, you see the third member who dropped here?”
“No! I’ve had to deal with like 3 ambushes though.”
They both paused and turned as they heard it.
From around the corner down the street from the gas station, a purple and yellow blur was running like his life was on the line.
Behind it, a massive villain with teeth like a shark stomped after him laughing menacingly.
Bakugou glanced at the floaty girl.
“If you lighten the beam again, I’ll fire it.”
She grinned, seeming to fight the faint green tinge of her cheeks. “Sounds fun. Let's go.”
30 seconds later the half-ton bar of steel slammed into the villains gut, knocking him flat on his ass.
Uraraka than landed and a clap of her hands landed the beam on the guy's groin, making him flinch and groan in pain, before reverting to human size.
Bakugou knocked him out with extreme prejudice. Suddenly he had the arms of the little purple fuck around his leg.
“Oh THANK GOD! I WAS SO SCARE-”
Yeah, fuck this. “You hurt jackass?”
More tears. More whining. “I COULD HAVE DIEEEE-”
“SHUT IT.” Bakugou turned away from the diaper kid, shoving him off his thigh with a shove. “Floaty, lets go. The faster we get back to the front door, the sooner I can make sure Deku isn’t to the point he’s murdering people.”
Blinking Uraraka nodded, “Uhh.. sure.”
The two started jogging towards the atrium, the Mineta following in a panicked scurry.
Bakugou’s feeling of unease was back.
And it was getting worse.
A crack of a broken sound barrier, but not the iconic ‘Bang’ of a bullet. But the whistle of air and a cracking sound more akin to a whip strike. When it hit, a splash of blue and purple hues.
But against an unprotected eye, it might even be more debilitating. the swift slash of the sword that hamstrung someone definitely was and his screams joined the chorus as Izuku once more kicked the assaulting villain who tried to close in, sending him stumbling back off the roof of the half buried building.
As Jirou pushed herself to her feet, she took in the way that, despite its speed, Izuku’s heart rate didn’t change. If anything… it evened out.
Every pull of the trigger sent another scream up, and Jirou snarled at her skinned knees and palms from her rough landing. She knew it would have been worse. That fall was to injure. 40 feet onto concrete?
And yet Izuku barely flinched from it.
She glanced to see if he was injured, but couldn’t see any sort of wounds.
Only the shift of the gun as another villain screamed in pain.
Tokoyami scowled, the rain falling around him was distracting, and the screams of terror from the villains around them merely made him scoff.
It wasn’t like Dark Shadow was rampaging or something. He was still able to guide the shadow as it ripped through trees and tore up the earth.
Behind him, leg splinted and being supported by the multi-armed form of Shouji, Aoyama glanced around.
“Merci, but perhaps we should focus on reaching the atrium?”
Shouji shook his head, even as a mouth opened to explain. “I’m still listening to the sounds of a fight over that way, and you are injured. You’ll be a liability if they come for us, and Tokoyami is already getting winded controlling his Quirk.
Tokoyami nodded, glancing back. “It’s true. Despite Dark Shadow’s power in this rainfall, he requires some effort to keep tame. The sooner we get free and I can rest somewhat, the better.” the three of them ignored the high pitched squeal as another would be slasher villain got sent ragdolling above the treeline.
“Lead on, my feathered friend.”
Tokoyami scoffed, and Dark Shadow threw a tree at another villain.
‘Wow. they really did choose the worst place to put me.’
The door was open, and the gleam of sunlight called for him.
Glancing back, Iida growled before darting forwards, Sato and Ashido’s work had weakened the doors enough to let them been ripped open. He dodged one, then the other, of the portals, and leaped over a third that nearly tripped him, before rolling through the gap and coming back up running.
He had to get to the main campus, some 3 miles away.
He had to move.
In the back of his mind, a voice whispered, cold and focused.
‘So, hero? What's your play?’
Koda glanced around nervously, Kuro perched on his shoulder as he wandered to the peak of the mountain zone. Farther down the slopes, a dozen or so villains were shouting and trying to climb after him, with little success.
Koda was surprised about that.
Maybe it was the fact he had climbed and camped on Mt. Fuji with his uncle almost every summer and winter break for the last five years, in order to train his quirk in the wilderness?
This wasn’t even that tough of a climb, though he should have his uniform adjusted to deal with snow. It was sorta cold up here.
As he reached the top of the peak, he glanced down and saw two villains with leg based mutations had pulled ahead of the pack.
He glanced at the cliffs behind him, where layers upon layers of snow had been built up… and then the big red button labeled ‘Avalanche test’.
Koda gave a sly grin, and walked over to it, flipping the plastic cover off the button and looking up.
-What does this do?- Kuro chirped, eyes flickering between the button and his perch.
He hit the button, and with a roar that sounded like a tsunami, the large cliff next to him was revealed to be a deep snow filled hole, backed by a hydraulic press.
He barely saw the surprised expressions of the two villains who lept over the ledge, before they were consumed by the wall of white and cold.
It took a moment for the flow of snow to stop, but when it did he slowly crept to the edge and looked down.
Aside from the occasional foot or hand reaching out from the snow, the cliffside was now free of villains.
Koda nodded, and then looked out at the rest of the USJ below him.
-Kuro, find the Hunter, guide him towards the doors-
A flap of wings, and a lunging dive, and Kuro took off, catching the heat of the nearby Conflagration zone as it rose. Before circling above the USJ to find Midoriya.
Kurogiri reformed with a sigh and looked to his leader.
“The students have all been scattered, though, as we planned, some did manage to break the door down, and a third escaped. With 13 guarding the entrance, they should have a place to regroup. As you requested, I've kept track of your… special target.”
Shigaraki didn’t speak, eyes locked on the fight before him, at Eraserhead smashing through the hoard of two-bit chumps he had gathered. “Perfect. The bait is set. Prepare to call in the second wave. The first of our buffer is soon to fall… and call in the Hunter. I can hear the gunshots from here, and the survivor needs to be weakened before stage 2.”
“Of course, Tomura.”
Chapter 17: Raid Party Tactics
Izuku, Momo, and Kyouka fight to escape, and Shigiraki waits out the event timers.
Izuku was feeling… peaceful.
And sorta relieved.
His blade slashed out in a quick lunge, the steel edge catching one of the last few villains who hadn’t ducked from his paint rounds for cover in the knee, a twist of the blades tip ripping and dislocating the damaged joint as he stepped into the aborted attack, blade twisting free as he spun, armored elbow striking the staggered villain in the jaw hard enough Izuku could hear it crack, and letting him bring the blade around to skate off the bone spikes of the mutant quirked villain who was trying to rip him apart.
The sword flickered out, twisting so the flat slammed a bone spike off course, before it lanced forwards between bone plates into a shoulder to a scream of pain.
-Izuku was sorta bored.
Here he is, really, truly, awake for the first time in almost a month, working with a blade that feels like he yanked it off one of the undead in the burg, with no actual bullets in his gun, and with no healing.
He grabbed a third villain by the neck as he tried to grapple him, and twisted, sending the guy yelling with a choked cry as he smashed into the boney guy, before Izuku’s nice red boot kicked both of them back over the edge, catching another villain as they crashed down below.
And yet, Izuku was feeling bored.
He planted his sword in the edge of the roof, pulled his gun out, and fired at a villain who peeped out.
The splatter of purple across the woman's face sent her screaming.
“Midoriya? What the hell is going on.”
Oh, look, the girls finally got themselves together.
“Ambush, a bunch of C list villains and at least three actual villains running the show.”
“WHO YOU CALLING-” Snap-Crack “-AHHGGHHHDDDD.” Izuku frowned at the screaming villain who was trying to claw the paint out of his eyes, who had tried creeping closer while he was distracted by the girls.
“Hey, can’t you see I’m talking here? Honestly, you all suck at fighting, fine, but no manners? For shame.”
He glanced back. “Is the shock wearing off? I know it’s a bitch.”
Momo breathed in and nodded, setting her shoulders as the flicker of her quirk slowly began to glow as she started to design a- a poke in her cheek broke her concentration, and she blinked at seeing that Midoriya had lunged across the roof to break her focus.
“Hey, wait a moment.”
He glanced at Jirou and waved her closer.
“I have a plan.”
His grin was… menacing.
‘Why isn’t he fighting….’ Aizawa cursed as he ducked another fist and twisted, drawing the arm past and then jerking it, a villain screaming as the move dislocated a shoulder, and then he ducked in close, an elbow slamming into the now screaming man's gut to drop him for a moment. Letting Shouta breath and relax, as he glanced around.
Most of the villains had stepped back, surrounding him in a ring and nursing a variety of wounds, the unconscious left to lay where they had fallen. And then, slow mocking applause began, and a rough and measured voice rang out. “Wonderful, just wonderful! I have to say, Eraserhead, that was quite impressive.”
Aizawa narrowed his eyes behind his goggles as the hand covered villain stepped forwards.
“In fact, it was so impressive, that I think I’ll have Nomu only… play, with you.” a carefully measured whistle, and the tall mound of muscle and armor behind him perked up. “Nomu, Play.”
Aizawa could only swear as he dove backward, avoiding a massive fist that embedded itself through the concrete of the plaza.
As he rolled to his feet, he had only a moment to react, dodging back as the metal embedded fist swung for him, and he had to leap back. The air tearing at his scarf and skin as the fist rushed by him.
He gritted his teeth and blinked, quirk firing as he tried to negate whatever strength or speed quirk that was being used.
Judging by the way his arm twisted from another punch, and he was sent sprawling across the plaza, it didn’t work.
A click as he slid the last of his spent paintball magazines free, the empty box being tossed to Yaoyorozu as she crouched, a staff over her shoulder and a small pile of flashbangs and teargas grenades at her side. Behind her, keeping an eye out, Jirou held a sword at the ready, a crash course from Izuku teaching her the most basic art of not cutting herself with a blade.
The villains had all retreated out of easy range, taking cover and only making token assaults with the few remaining ranged quirks they had. Izuku was fully expecting that they would realize he was out of paint rounds in the next few minutes, which means the three of them needed to get going before that.
His eyes roamed the area, the half dozen buildings that were buried almost to the roof in the loose soil and mud of the landslide. As the gleam of Yaoyorozu’s quirk faded, he turned back to take the newly refilled clip she held out, the almost familiar weight of it bringing back a memory of a different dark-haired red wearing girl, who helped him out in Racoon city a few times.
Blinking it away, his eyes roamed the clip, counting, as he slid it home in his handgun.
Fifteen in the clip.
Nodding, he clicked the safety on and rose up, eyes roaming the path he had figured out through the nearby buildings. The gun clicked as it locked into his holster, and he stepped towards the ledge, looking out and thinking.
And then he felt it, a flicker in the air, a ripple of air pressure and a flare of purple just out of his field of view.
He was moving before he even identified where the portal was.
He had lunged to the side, sword ringing free of its sheath as he came up slashed it out, the blade clanging and ringing as a long black scythe of chiton and bone swung to catch him. Both edges scraped, black and steel against one another as Izuku disengaged, stepping backwards with fast measured steps and sword staying up, edge in line as and stared at the new enemy.
At just over 9 feet tall, the thing was definitely not human. Izuku was damn sure, if only because human and sentients didn’t move like this thing. It reminded him more of the monstrous insects from Blighttown and the Capra demons that roamed the pit below, or the- Shit. The Xenomorph.
He darted back and swung to deflect a testing strike from the praying mantis like arms that held the black blades. The thing's skin was a deep red, with seemingly grown and solidified croppings of armor that stretched around limbs and its torso. The head was covered with a long bulbous nest of that black armor, which was twisted back into a mess of horns as several dozen eyes peered out from between thick girdled chiton
‘Fast, armored, and with blades sharp and durable enough to match mine, I need a better weapon for this, or to change the scenario-’
A clash of blade and bone as he parried another strike, shifting and twisting to try and throw the creature of ba- Bladed tail.
He barely spared attention to his body, as he was forced to skip and twist back across the roof, large gashes and shattered and torn up asphalt marking his motion. Even now, the two girls had barely gotten up and in fighting positions, but given the whiplike speed of that tail, and its swaying motion on digitigrade claws, that was not gonna work. They were gonna be mincemeat.
‘Not ready for this. Fuck. I need- that works.’
Izuku sidestepped a flicker of tail, twisted under the crossing of the black blades that aimed to bisect him, and stepped in close, the sword coming down and then thrust from low in a ruthless lunge that tore right through the things unprotected thigh, setting it off balance just long enough for him to get a grip, fingers hooked around the things lower chest armor at just the right angle. His thick mask-collar began to whir, tensing to deploy.
“FOLLOW THE PLAN!”
With that last shout, Izuku shoved up and across, the beast writhing and the material of his cloak catching and ripping from his shoulders. The fine armor mesh shredding across the blades as it was ripped away by the two scythes, the whirs of his face mask ringing out even as it came into place.
Izuku kicked off the roof, slamming his shoulder and the flat of his sword into the torso of the Hunter. The impact made it twist back, the tail whipping out, only for Izuku’s sword to flicker out lightning-quick, and sever it, leaving both of them off balance and with no real way to recover.
The hunter, driven by panic and instinct, could only release a hissing chatter of rage.
Izuku braced for the impact and made sure that the hunter would hit the ground first.
With a crash, they entered the ruins of the building.
Izuku choked, the hand around his throat pinning him up against the wall, his legs kicked out, but his smaller stature kept the man, who was referred to as the groom free.
“Young… young and excited. But you are unsightly… yes, far too unsightly. I can fix that! Can fix… you.” the man laughed, and he reached out, looking away as his hand slowly ran over the array of tools on his belt, before with a smile, he drew out a long kitchen knife. “I’ll bring back your beauty… make you a wonderful wife.”
Izuku was not liking where this was going, and as he was lifted higher, the knife drawn back as it was aimed at his crotch, he acted.
One hand had slipped into his beltline when the guy glanced away, and now it was time to use it.
A kick, to knock the kitchen knife off course left him with a bleeding gash across his shin, but it also distracted the Groom.
And that was all he needed to slam his scavenged combat knife into the guy's elbow, and yanked.
The arm spasmed, and Izuku was dropped, but kept his hand tight on the knife, his entire body weight dragging it down and through the joining of the elbow even as Izuku landed on the floor.
He glanced up, trying to see the room, and his eyes were quickly covered with a splash of blood.
Spitting the red from his mouth Izuku heard the roar of rage and lunged, blinded but not stupid enough to hold still as the searing pain of a kitchen knife slamming through his thigh seared through his mind. A frantic blink cleared his sight enough to make out the now one-armed form of the Groom, and reflexes burned into him triggered at the sight.
His hand with the knife slammed around to return the favor, digging into the Grooms' thigh and tearing free and through, before a mix of bloodied hands and bone caught the knife and left it in the meat.
Ignoring the pain from his now horrifically fucked up legs, Izuku staggered up and limped, never more thankful for handrails and tables than as he lunged and threw himself through the room.
The screaming of the Groom echoed from behind him. “HARLOT! SCARLET WOMAN! BETRAYER AND MURDERER! I SHALL LEAVE YOU WITH THE REST OF THE FAKE LOVERS! I SHALL LEAVE YOU FOR THE CROWS!” Izuku turned hi out, and staggered through the building, eyes catching as he found what he was looking for.
The cross that the world over for nearly 300 years, meant one thing.
Glancing to make sure that the Groom hadn’t yet found him, Izuku snarled at the pain that was quickly overwhelming him, before shouldering the bathroom door open, and glancin- there. A medical cabinet. Wandering up, he ripped the latch open to reveal a half stocked collection of bandages. He snagged them, sliding them into the bloodstained bag that somehow was still slung across the small of his back. Bandages, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a pack of medical stitches, and a small vial of ‘Wound sealant’ powder.
Staggering back with the loot in his bag, he snarled as the shouts and recriminations came closer. He wasn’t sure he could outrun the- Wait. He glanced up, and smirked.
When Eddie busted the door down several minutes later, it was to the trail of blood he was following pooled around an empty medical cabinet. And a bloodied handprint on the wall near an open vent.
Izuku was in darkness.
The only light was sparse, reflected glow from upper levels that filtered down through the maze of skewed hallways and collapsed ceilings.
But the creature could track him. Could hear and pinpoint any noise he made.
Which made it easy enough to distract.
He swung, the blue-lined world of his visor clearly defined, as the blade sliced through the things thigh- shit. Shit.
He dove back and watched as the blood that seeped from the wound seemed to merely thicken.
As the blades started swinging, he ducked away and kicked off a wall. He had never liked staying in a horizontal fight, so he decided quickly that he needed to get up and out. The dark was doing him no favors with how fast the thing was.
Kyouka will be the first to admit, the first few minutes after getting teleported to this rooftop? She had not been really thinking or focused. The mix of realizing she was facing real villains, that people were trying to kill her may have hit her like a record scratch during a stage show.
It wasn’t until Midoriya had started yelling out really creative insults and jokes at the oncoming villains to get them to break cover and be stupid reckless, that she got a grip on her thoughts, and got back to business. Momo had been right with her for that, and when the situation was under control, Midoriya started laying out his plans.
And honestly? It was really simple and straightforward.
Gear up, get ready and book it for the atrium or the nearest group of students who were up and active, whichever they reached first or felt was better. Midoriya had suggested they get melee weapons and crowd control, and Momo had started popping grenades like they were candy, much to Kyouka’s approval. She had also got hooked up with a simple single-edged blade. Figuring it would be better than nothing.
Midoriya’s expression of bland doubt when she said that was… fair. Particularly when he ran her through a simple slash and stab technique, his own long blade dancing as he demonstrated, and gave her a simple list of safety rules.
“For fuck's sake- Listen. Edge is pointed away from the body and down if you aren’t fighting, you hold it to the side if your running, and you use both hands if you have to swing or block with it, No wild swings, you chop down or thrust sideways, and then step back to reset. If your blade gets caught, or thrown away, I expect you to kick somebody in the knee and deck em for good measure. A blade is a tool, not your only weapon. And keep the AOE sonics away from friendly fire or the building, they’re designed to start collapsing.”
The fact that he never stopped shooting villains who got cocky while it happened was enough to keep her attention.
Of course, that plan was before the weird fucking creature and Midoriya started fighting.
And she could hear the entire fight happening, even as she and Momo got moving.
Momo had made a grapple, and the two of them slid down to the back of the building, away from the open ground Midoriya had abused as a target range, using the staggered levels of the zone and the buried buildings nearby to take cover. Momo was nervous, cleary considering-
*Bang Bang Bang*
“HAHA, Watch your step pal!”
A roaring chitter that even Momo could hear judging by her violent flinch echoed before a fourth gunshot rang out, and the window facing them from midway up the half-buried building Izuku was in was shattered. Kyouka could see what she had been hearing. Midoriya was dancing through ruined halls and what looked almost like an office, the blade slicing up and skittering past black chitin as he and the monster dueled. The monster was sporting several new gashes that oozed deep black liquid, which merely was solidifying as it fought, while even from here she could see the new scars that marked up Midoriya’s armor, and that the cloak had vanished, leaving only the fur collar that sprouted from the collar of the teen's armor.
“Shit, he needs help!”
“...You're right! Quick, hold this!” Momo tossed Jiro her metal staff, and the gleam of creation began once more.
Izuku was really getting pissed off with this fucker. The two had danced up and down the last three floors before the thing wised up to the fact that that he could see in the dark with his mask. Then it had been a matter of going up, abusing the cracked and ripped open infrastructure of the building to jump and climb through spaces that the creature took time to pass through. The fact that this was giving him hardcore Outlast and Alien vibes only made his motions smoother, the muscle memories that only near-death experiences could make stick around this well.
Now, normally he could deal with this. He had spent plenty of time daydreaming and figuring out how he would kill a Xenomorph if he had to, again. And part of his gear was gonna be a key component for that.
But that was the part Mei was still working on. His ‘heavy’ weapon.
As it was, he would have used the plasma cutter, if he was able to get close without using both hands on the blade to match the creatures leverage and speed. As it was, he wasn’t about to use something that if it got cut in his hands would vaporize his arm in a plasma flare.
The fact that any time he actually swung and drew blood it simple calcified into some sort of resin in the air made his entire fight harder. He needed to hurt it somewhere it would feel it, cause bleeding the fucker out wasn’t gonna work.
He hated fighting things that didn’t bleed. It was Raccoon City and Loredan all over again.
The gunshots had helped, but he only had the one clip of actual bullets, since he had to start his fight before he finished stocking up with help from Yaoyorozu’s quirk. He leaped up and off another table, kicking chair up for it to slice through, and lunged. His blade skated off the horned skill, leaving a gouge across the hard structure, and sending one eye-popping in a spurt of blood and fluid.
Sadly, that was when it lashed out and caught him with the back of the blade, the force making him hiss in pain even as he rolled towards the busted window.
He staggered up, eyes blinking as the darkness shifted, swirling as he tried to regain his breath and equilibrium.
And then he saw it, the flickering flash of blades swinging in a broad X shape, and he couldn’t dodge past it in time.
He flipped the sword up, bracing with both hands as he crouched to catch the paired strikes where they would cross.
The impact broke his posture, one foot actually cracking into the floor as a knee buckled, the force and speed faster than he was ready for.
And then he heard it, a creak, a twang of metal warping and twisting.
In his hands, the sword gave way, and with a ringing sound it was shattered, only reflexes born from hour after hour of fighting letting him react in time. His body flinched back, and muscles fired, the dark edges of the blades sliding down, the tips passing within centimeters of his eyes, and the slow drag of the left tip sliced into the metal plating of his mask, barely grazing his jaw as he wrenched his body back.
He dove back and out the open window, shards of the broken sword hanging in the air around him as time seemed to slow, Izuku focusing as the world's clarity seem to dull, reduced to only the most important things.
An overextended Hunter
And the fact he had 11 bullets left.
The gun snapped up, ripped free from its holster and safety slammed off even as his arm burned with the motion and he felt the whip-snap of his elbow straining as he took aim. His eyes tracked a blurry spray of blood drops following the motion as Izuku saw a long shard of steel embedded in his forearm, the center of his sword having blasted open under the stress.
He ignored it. It would heal.
Instead, he leveled his handgun dead center on the central looming eye of the hunter, and his finger pulled on the trigger. The bang was muffled, unimportant as Izuku adjusted his aim, and fired, and again, and again, and again. Five blooming flowers of blackened blood sprayed through the air, three from the creatures head, two from each of its legs, fired up and under its armored kneecaps.
As the creature writhed, it’s overextended form was balancing precariously.
And that's when the muffled sound of a much larger caliber weapon echoed out, followed by the entire lower armor of the thing being shattered open. Leaving a perfect opening for Izuku to plug two more rounds through its stomach and up into far more fragile organs.
As time seemed to skip and flicker, Izuku, crumpled, his landing bringing a familiar crunch and twist of a dislocated shoulder as he rolled off a two-story jump he was in a bad angle for rolling out of.
He looked up as he staggered to his feet, the corpse of the hunter laid out next to him as Jirou and Yaoyorozu came jogging his way, a large bolt action rifle in the taller girls grasp.
The two got closer, and Izuku chuckled, a twist and shift of his arm resetting his shoulder with a surge of pain that he honestly ignored out of sheer unimportance. His body would heal, and he would rather have a working arm that hurt, than a limp arm that threw off his balance and hurt less. As the two girls closed in, he glanced up. “Nice shot, Yaoyorozu-san. Took it clean through the chest.”
Momo blanched and looked over, face tinged green as she took in the armored form and its pooling blood next to them. “Um- Yes. I did.”
“Relax, the thing’s not a person. Trust me, it was all instinct and animal thoughts.” he glanced down, and frowned.
The blood was still pumping- Nope.
His gun came up, still held tight in his hand, and three bullets blew the spine and back half of the head, where it was free of horns, apart, even as it twisted and spasmed, much to the shock of his allies.
“GAh!” “HOLY FUCK!”
“Sorry, wasn’t quite dead.” he commented, and flicked the safety of his gun back on, holstering it even as he kicked the corpse over, taking a moment to inspect the body and how its various abilities seemed to connect.
He ignored the gagging sound of Yaoyorozu as she glanced away from the gore that was a missing chest.
He also avoided reacting as he saw what he was looking for, hidden under the very edges of the various claws and armor.
He wasn’t lying. The thing hadn’t been a person, no sapience in its eyes remained when he fought it.
But it had been human at some point. Before someone got… creative.
‘Joy. Bioweapons. Fucking Umbrella all over again.’
Izuku choked the snarl of anger he wanted to let loose deep in his chest and kicked the corpse back face down. As he stood, he glanced at the metal shard that had wedged through the thinner joint of his armor and reached up to yanked it free, the spurt of blood darkening even as he did so.
“Shit Midoriya, you okay?”
“I’ll be fine, it's not that deep. Can you hear anything Jirou?” he glanced up at her even as he checked his gear for damage.
“Nope, all the other villains pulled back when that thing showed up, I did hear a couple call it a ‘Hunter’.” She shook her head with a forced deadpan. “What a stupid name.”
He blinked and chuckled at that, before glancing at Momo. “You good with that rifle? Or is it gonna slow you down.” Izuku asked, unslinging his shotgun and checking it was still intact, the paint rounds almost unused as he double-checked its sturdy construction was still intact, and please to see his design had survived the fall and several slashes from the blades that merely scratched its casing.
Momo glanced down with a pause, and her eyes wide and face pale, and he saw the tremble in her hands increase.
“Leave it. You don’t like firing at people, and teaching you the composition of my paint rounds will take too long, and waste resources.” He snagged the rifle with a gentle motion and a glance was all he needed for Jirou to toss him the stave. “Besides,” he squeezed a concealed lever in the staff’s center, the glowing blue flicker of sparks off the end flaring and drawing the still shocked teens’ eyes. “I do wanna see how good you are with your spark stick here. Come on rich girl, you gonna lag on us?”
Her eyes cleared, the glossy sheen of shock fading as she nodded, a glint of frustration and spite in her eyes blooming. Izuku also swore there was something a bit more bitter in there, and he resolved to remember to address that when they got out alive.
Izuku glanced at the rifle, and noted how it was a single shot bolt action, and made a note.
Teach Yaoyorozu how to make magazine weapons sooner or later, cause she’s a damn good shot.
Dropping it on the corpse, Izuku hefted the shotgun, and glanced up.
“Alright, Back to the plan. Let's move.”
“Yeah, let's blow this gig. I’m not in the mood for an encore anytime soon with this thing.” Kyouka’s snark and her hip bumping Yayorozu was enough to break her still hesitant stance, and the class pres nodded, grip white-knuckled on the staff.
As they jogged, darting through the USJ, Jirou spoke up.
“So when they first got here, I heard what they were saying The guy in white, he mentioned All Might! They were looking for him!”
“That's Insane! All Might’s the premier hero of the age! He’s more than powerful enough to clear most of these villains with time to spare!” Yaoyorozu was shocked and confused, and Izuku would’ve been right there with her, except.
‘The scent of old blood. The faint shift of posture, the hint of disfigured skin visible even through the suit as it pulled tight as All Might flexed…. He wasn’t invulnerable… and if they knew that!’
“Are you sure?” Izuku was thinking fast, and Jiro’s confirmation only made his blood run colder, as he narrowed his eyes.
‘What is the play here? The leader mentioned All Might… Fuck, we are the bait, aren’t we? God, I hate being bait. But if it was bait… No. We’re a Statement. If they kill an entire class of UA students… That's a reputation that's hard to match.’
He thought back to the towering black creature that had followed the leader into the area. The way its eyes had been unfocused while it lumbered behind the hand covered leader. The way that its skin had been twisted and ripped, and compared it to the abnormal design of the Bio-weapon he had just faced. “Momo, I need a favor-”
Izuku blinked and he heard it. The thunderous slam of the USJ’s front doors.
“HAVE NO FEAR! FOR I. AM. HERE.”
Somehow, that didn’t fill Izuku with confidence and joy like it once did. Instead, as his mind pieced things together, he felt that the situation… was about to get worse.
Shigiraki glanced up and smiled under his hand-mask, while behind him, hanging from the fist of the Nomu by his wrists, was bloodied and limp form of Aizawa.
“Ah, wonderful. Now, we can start on stage 2. Kurogiri, call in the High Leveled Players, and let them keep the… Trash, away. I want this to be… Uninterrupted.” Shigaraki stretched as he rose from a crouch to his full height, twisting as he loosened up his torso.
“Of course, Tomura.”
On the road outside the USJ, looking back towards UA’s main building, seven portals appeared.
Izuku hissed as he lay in the vents, one arm over his eyes as he focused past the pain, before looking back down, twisted awkwardly to see his work, as the stitches pulled tight across his wound, a warped and uneven look to it that he was sure was wrong, as he snarled.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”
He snarled and pulled the needle through once more, and the last of the gaping wound where the knife had been pulled tight. He had almost blacked out when he had poured the cauterizing powder in earlier, the thick power burning like acid as it stopped the bleeding. The stitches closing it was just the icing on the cake of pain.
As he pulled the last messy stitch close, he knotted the string, before he snipped the needle loose. Slowly relaxing, he hissed in pain and fumbled for a roll of bandages, to match the one around both his swollen knee and the other gash across his shin, which was far shallower.
Breathing deeply, he glanced around and shifted to go down through another vent, dragging himself further through the pipe, until he could see a new grate, with light past it.
“Who the hell is that?”
Below, the unconscious form of Waylon Park lay still.
Chapter 18: Animation Interrupted
The gyre winds closer.
In the game, Izuku learns more, finding the threads of the truth of Outlast.
In the USJ, a Symbol begins to break.
Toshinori Yagi had faced plenty of dangerous fights, had seen hundreds of people hurt and threatened by villains.
None had ever caused him such sheer, unbridled, rage.
He focused and moved, gathering his students he could see around the stairs down, leaving dazed and unconscious villains as he passed. In seconds he had almost half the class gathered. Todoroki and Tsuyu were both deathly cold, while Tokoyami, Shouji, and Aoyama were likewise drenched in mud and rain. The five students barely had a chance to blink and comment, standing at the entrance landing, before All Might vanished.
And then he rushed forwards and tackled the larger black skinned villain, grunting even as the figure barely stepped back.
But it did let Aizawa go, and that was all he required.
He flickered back to the top of the stairs with a series of bounding leaps, setting down and leaving his injured comrade for the rest of the UA staff to assist while he took care of the villains.
As he leapt back down, he landed heavily on the plaza tile, glaring at a slow clapping villain with black clothes covered in hands.
“Bravo… Bra- fucking- vo. Behold, the Conquering Hero, the Pillar of Peace.” The voice was condensed spite and disdain. But All Might only felt more anger. Was this why his students were injured? Some poorly thought out attempt at him?
“I DON’T KNOW WHO THE HELL YOU THINK YOU ARE!” His voice boomed as his muscles tensed and tightened. “BUT YOU’VE THREATENED MY STUDENTS.” The ground beneath him cracked as he braced for his attack. “AND THAT MEANS I AM GOING TO TAKE YOU IN.”
The shattering of concrete, the kick of air and pressure, the shockwave of his fist flying forwards-
And a massive torso taking the blow.
His first landed with a solid smack of flesh on steel, the thick metal plate around the creature’s torso denting with the impact…
But not caving in like it should have.
He barely had time to raise his eyebrow before a clawed and gauntleted hand came crashing down, the metal plates looking fused to the villain’s flesh.
“It's no use! This is the Anti-Symbol of Peace! BIO-ENGINEERED TO KILL YOU, ALL MIGHT!”
Yagi tensed and lowered his stance.
It seemed this wasn’t going to be easy.
He just hoped that the rest of the staff would get here soon…
“God, what a drag.” Long black hair swayed as the speaker shifted, tightening his, and adjusting his gear.
Behind him, and to either side, the portals that had just broken him out of Tartarus vanished. He glanced around, eyebrows quirking as he recognized two of the others, people who had been in his own cellblock. There was Mortal, who’s Quirk generated a substance that attacked and destroyed blood, and at the end of the line behind him was Ash Eater, whose body was already starting to glow with heat, with the inhibitor collar that had been removed by their jailbreaker melting in her grip.
He didn’t recognize the other four. One of them had skin that twisted up into sharp edges and spires of crystal that was growing like armor and jewelry from the guy’s naked torso, another had a cloud of black mist in his hand that seemed to flicker and shift as it moved. The biggest of the group was near twice his height and was growing scales and spines even as he watched. The last person was next to him, a slender chick with ornate tattoos and scars that crossed her exposed arms. Apparently, she took his gaze as a challenge, snarling at him and showing off sharp fangs instead of teeth.
“Whoa, not planning to start shit, pal.” He held up his hands and glanced away, seeing the dust of a pair of cars rushing his way. “Besides, it seems we have an actual fight to deal with.” he gestured with a scowl, and the chick took off, flickering as she moved with feral grace towards the cars. Apparently that was the signal to move out for the rest of the chucklefucks who had joined in for this venture.
Sighing, Kazuto, the ‘Black Ronin’ reached up and began to tie his long ponytail back, chuckling as he felt the familiar weight of armor and his weapons across his form.
“Ah, it’s nice to go walkabout.”
He finished his ponytail and reached for his side, pulling the Daito-Shoto pair with familiarity, even as his Quirk began to pulse through him, electrical energy and plasma slowly tracing lines that hung around his arms and armor.
As the rest of the villains crashed into the melee of the heroes with roars and brutal attacks, Kazuto paced behind them with a sharp grin and his black eyes gleaming.
“Let's see if I can actually add to my high score…”
He wanted to break the count of 200 killed by his blades before he got locked back up, after all.
“So, what you’re telling me is that you know what that monster on the loose is?” came Izuku’s low voice, glancing at the black-haired man with him.
“More than a monster. It’s a weapon. Some sort of nanobot swarm called the Walrider. It requires a host to command it, but it’s what’s been ripping through the soldiers and administration. The fact that it messes with people's minds and drives them insane is just a messed up side effect of how they’re controlling it.”
“Great. Exactly what we needed.” Izuku snarked, glancing around the next corner.
Izuku limped, one arm helping the still unsteady form of Waylon, as they wandered through the upper hallways of the ward, both keeping an ear out and holding weapons to use against any of the variants who got touchy. Izuku held the kitchen knife in his left hand and was using a broken off table leg as a cane in his right. Meanwhile, Waylon had a chunk of pipe in his off-hand, the other bracing itself on the teen as they moved.
“So how the fuck do we shut it down.”
“Uhhh… shit. Shutting it down is gonna be hard. The System, the Morphogenic Engine? It’s massive. You can probably reach it through the Administration black. There's an entire underground complex down there, but getting through it is gonna be an issue. The Engine makes variants, and that's where the testing labs and holding cells were for the most dangerous of them. If you want to get through… You’ll need a couple of keys. I would help, but I’ve already been locked out when they shoved me in the Engine.” With a grunt, Waylon glanced back and shifted his stance to keep the weight off his bad leg.
“You were in the Engine?” Izuku glanced at the man next to him. Thin and reedy, he was clearly a computer nerd. The bruises and bandages were covering some of his skin, but he didn’t have the same deformities as the variants.
“Yep. Sent a message out to a reporter a few weeks ago. Hope they get someone to come to deal with this shit.”
Izuku blinked and realized who exactly he was stuck in the role of. “Ah, fuck.”
“There's a jeep out front… but no reporter. What do you think the odds are he got killed.” Izuku deadpanned even as he shifted, glancing up the next hallway as the duo moved on.
As the two stepped around the next door, they froze.
There, down the hallway, was The Groom.
In a show of sheer exasperation, both Waylon and Izuku glanced at each other and spoke in unison. “Oh This Cocksucker.”
And then Eddie Gluskin was running at them, with one arm and a fire axe and death in his eyes..
“Shit. No time. Jirou, head to the control room, see if you can get the internal security to reboot.”
“Understood… stay safe, Green.”
As she ran off, Izuku turned and looked down from the cliff face he was perched on, seeing the distant form of the Nomu crash against the form of the Symbol of Peace. Each impact sent shockwaves rippling through the air, blowing back hair and ripping at clothing.
Izuku wasn’t blind or stupid though. He could see it. Could read it in the motion of the fighters.
All Might was faltering.
They had no time left to plan.
Suddenly he heard the hiss of creation stop and Momo sigh in relief.
He turned and smiled, lips quirking up as he took in the gleaming silvery-white blade she held. The flickering coating across it already forming as it rested in the air.
“Perfect. Alright, remember. Head to the entrance, Aizawa needs medical help, and you’re the best bet. Beyond that… check outside. I’m worried that they’re gonna be held up.”
He glanced back down, spinning the blade in his hand as he adjusted to its weight. A wince as All Might staggered just a step, made him start to stand.
“Hey, Midoriya?” Momo’s voice was soft, and he glanced back.
The gentle crush of her arms around him, a squeeze of her body to his, and a soft whisper. “Be safe.”
Before he could really process, she was already off, sprinting for the tall staircase up to the entrance, as Izuku felt the memory of her warm breath on his ear.
“Huh?” He glanced back down and bit his lip before sighing, shaking himself to refocus.
“I can deal with the fact I got a hug later…”
His eyes narrowed, and he rose from his slouch, stretching as he took in the monster, his eyes roaming its form as it swung and roared, his pulse seemed to spike, to reach a fever pitch…
And then, he reached deep, and stopped acting human.
His body twitched and spasmed, his muscles straining at his skin as he gasped and panted.
No witnesses who I care about.
His blood pressure spiked, before balancing out.
Nobody who can get hurt by me.
His eyes dilated, the irises expanding until there was only a thin ring of green, before contracting back to almost normal.
Nobody but them.
With a slow stretch, his mouth drew into a smile.
“Let’s see how you handle a real monster.”
Above him, Kuro shifted to float higher as the first tendrils of killing intent began to reach it.
Present Mic screamed, the force of his shockwave throwing the largest of the villains, a massive creature with scales and misshapen arms, back. The rest of the heroes were just as focused, dealing with villains who had come to stop them.
Present Mic could name every one of them.
The large one was called Golgothian and used a transformation Quirk that grew mass and scales around him. The creature he became was staggered but already growing more spikes and scales as it roared.
To the side, pink mist flowed in small bursts even as Nemuri danced around the feral looking lady. That was Rabid, and she had a mutated adrenaline system and muscles - fast, dangerous, and apparently doesn’t sleep even when dosed with massive levels of sleeping gas. It was bad.
Hizashi cursed as a wall of crystal began to creep around the front of the group, and unleashed his own Quirk in response. He knew that one personally, and had put him away before. The villain went by Fractal. With a whistle enhanced by his Quirk, the flare of sound cracked and shattered the growth, just in time for a wave of concrete to lash up and swamp Fractal.
Sadly, it was only gonna hold the villain for a few minutes.
Mortal lunged from the shards of crystal, hands outstretched for an attack on Vlad King, before the metallic fist of Power-Loader crashed into him, flinging him back and away from the fight.
The sound of a gunshot rang out, and the most dangerous of the 7 villains reacted, flickering plasma and a spark as his shoto deflected the bullet.
The mere thought of fighting him made Present Mic nervous.
Black Ronin. A villain who killed Heroes and Villains for the sheer thrill.
Even now, the cooling corpse of Warp Touch, who was another mass killer, was sitting blackened and smoking in a pool of his own blood and grease because Ronin was bored by his attacks.
A pair of Ecto-clones finally managed to tackle Feral, holding her down long enough for a cloud of dense pink mist to overcome the woman's adrenaline production.
“Drats, we cannot let these villains prevent us from reaching the USJ! Kan, Hound Dog, escort Recovery Girl and assist All Might, Ecto-plasm, Power Loader, double down on Mortal, Hizashi, distract Golgothian!”
Nodding at the order, Present Mic breathed deep, and began to scre-
A flicker of blue plasma, and a spark of lightning slammed into the collar Hizashi wore, the mechanism all but exploding and sending Present Mic back.
He crashed into the ground with a gasp, feeling the intense sensation of an electrical burn across his chest.
“Interesting. It seems your suit insulated you enough to live. That's rare.”
The cool and disinterested voice of Ronin rang out as he paced closer, blade still glowing with the heat of his lightning strike.
“I suppose that's all you have though. A shame.”
With dead eyes, he raised his katana, a flicker of blue plasma arcing along the blade as he prepared another strike.
Hizashi closed his eyes as the crack of thunder rang out once more.
Waylon screamed out as he fell, the splash of blood from his stomach painting the floor even as Izuku tried to stagger up, his breath coming in gasps as he tried to keep his dislocated arm from moving. The fight was fast, messy, and entirely one-sided. Whether it was because he had the body of a variant, or because he was stronger, the Groom had pushed them back and beaten them with savage glee, each and every strike too heavy to block. The burned off end of his left arm was only an annoyance instead of a hinderance.
And now, screaming, Waylon was dying. The red metal of the fire axe gleamed with dark blood, and the darkened hallway was lit more from the flares of lightning than the flicker of the overhead lights.
“THAT'S RIGHT, WHORE! YOU AND THE LITTLE HARLOT ARE GONNA DIE!”
A wrench and the oh-so-familiar sound of guts squelching and shifting heralded the axe blade coming loose.
Izuku grunted and tried to rise, only for a kick to the gut to send him sprawling.
His arms were quickly pinned by the Groom’s knees, holding Izuku down as the manic face looked at him.
“Oh, but you… You harlot… so beautiful in the dark… I could have done such things with you… made you perfect.”
Izuku snarled and spat, bloodied spit spraying across the front of the Groom’s outfit, even as the fist around the haft of the axe slammed into his face for the insult.
“BUT NO! YOU HAVE TO BE A WORTHLESS MALFORMED SLUT!” The back of his fist met Izuku’s temple and slammed his head to the side, sending the world fading in and out from the pain.
“I SHALL PUT YOU OUT OF YOUR MISERY!”
With that scream, the Groom pulled his arm back, his axe glinting in the lighting flare of the hallway as it reached its peak...
All Might slid back, gasping as steam slowly began to drift off his form.
The Nomu was too strong… Its shock absorption was taking too much of his strikes, and the thing’s regeneration was keeping it fresh and ready, and every strike Yagi threw was weaker by ever so much as he burned his energy.
“Ah, this is priceless! The Symbol of Peace, driven into the dirt.”
The Nomu slammed forwards, metal plating bloodied from the both of them fighting. The exposed brain and bird-like maw of the creature was on display, an early strike of All Might’s fist denting and tearing away the protective barrier. Around the creature's throat, however, a large gorget of armor still stood proud.
It roared, charging forwards to meet All Might in a clash before the two locked together. All Might’s hands were gripped tight to the metal knuckles that were embedded in the beast’s flesh, while the larger beast leaned in to apply crushing force to the Symbol of Peace.
Yagi groaned in stress and pain, feeling his muscles tense and quiver under the strain, before inch by inch the creature pushed its advantage.
He couldn’t hold out, couldn’t beat the creature in a game of strength…
And then, the games changed.
Smoke drifted through the air, blood splattered across the ground.
“Ha…. Ha…… HAHAHA…”
The crazed laughter of the Black Ronin echoed through the area as the fight around him raged on.
Below him, Present Mic looked on in disbelief as a large chunk of flesh sprayed blood. In the center of Black Ronin’s torso, a hole nearly the size of a soda can was dripping with red and shredded muscles.
A shot through the heart.
With a slow, almost elegant motion, the villain sank to his knee’s hand reaching up to his chest to feel at the missing chunk.
“Heh… nice…. Shot.”
And with that, the Black Ronin closed his eyes.
Behind them, through the entirety of the battle that still ranged, Snipe breathed a sigh of relief that his comrade had lived, before turning to shoot once more at the form of Mortal, firing to make the villain retreat from attempting to kill an exhausted Midnight, even as Power Loader and the Ecto-clones rushed the villain.
God damn. We need to finish this shit up before it’s too late.
The thunk of steel on linoleum echoed out as the axe slipped from lifeless hands.
From the throat of Eddie Gluskin, the jagged edge of a pipe gleamed red, the still wild eyes of the madman stared with glazed fury, even as the movement within slowed.
A shove, and the body collapsed.
There, guts hanging out even as he stood, was Waylon.
Blood splattered the ground as two figures collapsed, and Izuku could only stare.
“Shit… SHIT SHIT SHIT!” he scrambled to his knees, pain forgotten even as he ripped his stitches, crawling to Waylon’s side.
“Sorry… Kid… He… He got me pretty good… But I got him back...” the wheeze was wet and thick, and in the exposed chunk of the man's chest, a bubble popped as lungs tried to push air in too many ways.
“No… fuck… No…” Izuku was frantic, hands covered in blood as he tried to… do something.
“Kid… Stop the Walrider… It’s… up to you...” with one more gurgle of blood and air, Waylon began to go still, his blood slowing in his veins.
“Shit… SHIT… WAYLON? WAYLON!” Izuku screamed, covered in blood as Waylon Park died.
“THIS IS THE END! WATCH AS THE SYMBOL OF PEACE DIES!”
Shigaraki screamed loudly as he laughed at the state of All Might. The Nomu now towered over the hero’s crouched and battered form, arms barely holding back the fatal fists of the creature.
And then, a flicker of motion.
From over the head of All Might, a flash of metal passed like a bullet and slammed home with a fleshy thud, sliding through the two hemispheres of the brain of the creature as it screamed in pain.
All Might staggered as the pressure left, leaving him off balance and heaving for breath on one knee.
Which meant he was the same height as the black and green wraith that swayed past him at a sprint, one foot kicking off the ground as another caught on the knee of the roaring beast.
The white of a fur collar contrasted starkly against the dark, ragged skin of the Nomu, even as the new fighter leaped up, one knee at the creature's neck and a hand wrapping tightly on the hilt of the weapon embedded in the Nomu’s skull.
The beast’s scream choked off as it staggered back, off-balance and frenzied by the new threat.
“Shut the fuck-” a tensed movement and the blade slid deeper “-Up.”
With a choked cry, the creature collapsed to its back, leaving a kneeling form over its head.
As he rose, the weapon came into view. A spear, the blade buried in the head of the Nomu, its long shaft reaching to the sky like a banner.
But as he rose, All Might did not feel safe… or rescued…
No. The smooth motion of the teen as he rose up, the casual air as his fingers remained around the spear’s haft, and the scarred armor and mask that protected Young Midoriya’s face… made a young man into a faceless being of casual death. The fact he was already splattered in bloodied marks only emphasized his state.
Wreathing him was something that carried more weight than his appearance. A killing intent seemed to flow like the tide around him, sending shivers up All Might’s spine and making the leader of the villains take a step back.
For a moment, there was silence, before Midoriya spoke, his voice layered as it leaked through both his ruined mask and his still-intact voice changer.
“I suppose that your classic boast would work right now, Sensei… but I feel like I have a more accurate statement to make.”
A wrench of the spear, the gleaming white of the blade snapping off to remain embedded in the brainstem of the Nomu, leaving Izuku with a long black metal stave in his grip, and his head tilt at an almost... jaunty, angle.
“You Should Be Very Afraid. For I Am Here.”
The gleaming blue of Izuku’s visored mask was merciless…
And Shigaraki could only shiver in anticipation.
‘Stage three…. Has begun.’
Chapter 19: Fighting Games 101
Izuku faces Shigaraki.
“Ah… Midoriya Izuku… Pleasure to meet you, again.” Even having taken a step back, the blue haired villain slowly flexed and loosened his muscles.
Izuku gave him a look, and shifted, glancing over his shoulder at the form of the Pillar of Peace.
“All Might. Go save the rest.”
The sound of the hero trying to speak started, but Izuku was already dismissing him, his focus narrowing and his body tensing.
Shigaraki opened his mouth to say something.
Izuku didn’t give him a chance to talk.
He stepped in and twisted, body shifting so the shaft in his hand whipped through the air. Swinging up as he let the mass slide through his fingers, the jagged metal end from where he had snapped the blade darted forwards like a snake as it slammed into the raised cross of the villain’s arms. There was the clear ringing of metal on metal and the flash of broken shards as the last of the blade shattered, tearing the long flowing sleeves of the villain’s clothes apart to reveal layered metal bracers under the grip of the hands along his arms.
Izuku stepped in, the shaft rebounding from the block just past him, and with a shift he twisted it back, bracing the stave across his arm to redirect it, even as, with a flash of his hand, the villain caressed the end of the stave as it left his reach.
As Izuku dragged it back, he saw the billowing dust from the end of the four foot spear shaft, as it began to fall apart under its own weight, the disintegration quirk tearing it apart. As he completed the start of his spin he took a half step back to All Might, who was now billowing steam and vanished. Izuku was still paying attention to his surroundings, even as he took in the steaming hero and the shift of pink- and he was feeling the weight of the air current as the villain swiped at his spine and missed by inches from his step away.
The staff was already down to a mere 3 and a half feet, and getting shorter, so he decided to use it now.
A tightened grip, and it came slamming around like the fist of god, ripping at the air as he drew its momentum and speed around, before slamming it full force into the crossed arms of the villain. Shigaraki gripped it tight on impact, sending the entire thing shimmering, even as the force drove him a half step back, Izuku letting his grip slide away as the gleaming of the Quirk washed over the handle.
In a second, the staff shifted into a cloud of glittering black and metal dust.
Izuku had already stepped past it however, his visor flickering into bright contrast as he drove his fist through the opening in the villain’s guard, the punch slamming into the older teen’s chest like a sledgehammer and sending Shigaraki stepping back. His next fist slammed into a raised arm hard enough to drive the man back in a half turn before he slashed up, a knife now held in line with his fist from where he had yanked it from his belt. Sparks flew off the metal bracers as Shigaraki cursed, the blade skidding past his guard to draw a flash of blood from a shoulder.
As clawed swings rushed back, Izuku slid and twisted, shifting sideways and swinging his clenched fist down hard and fast on the knee… only to feel the impact of armor on armor. Using the impact he shoved off, sliding and pivoting back from his crouched angle, stepping back and weaving as a rush of swipes came flowing after him, each attack designed to make the most contact if it hit.
Izuku’s pulse was steady.
He snapped a kick out low, digging in the dust as Shigaraki stepped back, both pausing to assess.
As the two broke apart, Izuku hissed out from his mask.
His hand came up and with the click of a quick release, he let a panel from his shoulder slide free and drop, the now visible sign of decay spreading across the armor piece before he kicked it away.
The trickle of blood from Shigaraki’s shoulder was already starting to dye his shirt a familiar dark red sheen, and with a clenched ripping motion the thick black shirt was pulled away and disintegrated, revealing a thin vest of ballistic armor, and a skintight black underlayer. From here, Izuku could see the right shoulder strap was now hanging loose where it had slowed his knife. Along each arm, which was still covered in hands, were thin black metal gauntlets that reached to the older man's wrists.
“I wondered why I didn't hit the arteries.”
And like that, they lunged, going back for another round.
Izuku panted in pain and exhaustion. At his side, a length of pipe was dented and bloodstained, leaning against the corner of the bathroom he had locked himself in while he ran water from the tap, trying to remove the blood covering his arms. When the water was finally running clear instead of pink, he sighed and staggered over to the pipe, his movements reigniting the pain of his fucked-up legs even as he leaned on the pipe as a crutch.
“Okay… finally got back to administration… now, where the hell is the way down to the complex?”
He slumped against the door, slowly unlocked it and leaned out, glancing down the hallway. He waited, breath slow and quiet, before moving out, the pipe clicking on the floor softly, metal on linoleum as he stepped forwards.
He glanced around the landing as he reached the stairwell.
“I’ve been down that way, but where…”
A thud rang out and Izuku spun and felt his heart skip a beat.
Massive, bloodied, and smiling.
Chris Walker stared at him from the door down the hall.
The chase that followed was not much of one.
Even fully healed and free to move, Walker had been able to keep up with Izuku at a full sprint.
It wasn’t even a competition.
As the impact of Walker’s fist slammed him through a desk, Izuku gasped out, spit and blood spraying as something in his chest snapped.
‘I can’t breath can’t breath can’t breath Can’t FUcking BReathe’
He wasn’t able to focus, to think past the pain in his chest as he tried desperately to suck in air, the world seeming to flare and flicker as he fought to-
“Another Piggy Trophy.”
The feeling in his chest was joined by a crushing pressure on his neck, and a twist-
And he sat up in the Simulation Room, breathing long gasping breaths. He reached up, touching at his neck and chest as he hyperventilated, feeling the stress slowly start to fade, before he shifted and staggered to his feet, the blanket of the bed left behind as he stumbled to the bathroom.
He needed a long, scalding hot shower.
He needed to feel.
Now Jiro crouched and glanced around the corner, listening as she picked up the buzz of electronics and the faint heartbeat of the villain who had taken over the USJ’s security computers.
“- can’t allow someone with my personal history into UA - fucking assholes. See how you like me now.”
The tall woman sitting at the computer bank wore a geeky shirt and had large glasses, and her fingers clacked across the keyboard with frantic energy.
Jiro breathed slowly and crept around the door, her blade held out and low.
“Now, let’s see what you have in the computer, you pretentious-”
With one last step, Jiro lunged and grabbed the lady by the back of the shirt, dragging her from the chair and slamming her to the ground, blade to her throat.
“Are you the one jamming communications?”
With a snarl, Jiro slammed her fist into the girl’s face and then pressed the blade to the girl’s skin, making the older woman freeze.
“Answer. The question. Did you jam the communications.”
“Ye-Yeah! It’s my Quirk!”
Her pulse was going crazy, but Jiro was good at listening to the changes.
She slammed her fist back into the girl’s face, blood splattering the floor as her nose cracked. “Don’t bullshit me. What’s jamming the signal.”
A gasp and heavy breathing, only broken when Jiro started to put the faint pressure of the blade down.
“IT’S THE BOX OVER THERE.”
Drawing the blade back, she slammed the pommel into the woman's temple, and her body went limp.
Moving up and over, she opened the box the girl had gestured towards, finding a mess of wires and transmitters. Looking, she found a car battery that must have been powering it, and with a quick yank, pulled the wires to it, the entire bundle dying without its power.
With that done, she glanced at the computer console and moved to it, remembering her goal, as Izuku explained while they moved from the landslide zone.
‘We need someone coordinating the people. There's speakers across the dome, which means there's either a sound system, or an intercom. You could use either one. Get people moving in the same direction, and get them safe. The faster we reinforce one location, the longer we can hold out.’
She glanced over the various screens. There were camera feeds, plenty of them showing villains who had been knocked out, but she eventually found the ones she needed. Now she just needed to get them moving… there.
A click, as she slid her ear-jack home, before flipping familiar sliders and sound mixers across a new screen, and selecting the full-arena audio.
“Wait, shit… If I shout then everyone will know… I… I just need them to get there.” She paused, and then an idea came to mind. Quickly, she started opening and flipping through the maps and locations of the speakers, until she found the right one. The speakers directly above the entrance.
‘Come on Jimi… help a girl out.’
She selected the right speakers, and flipped the volume all the way up.
She hit play and moved to tie up the woman who was still unconscious on the floor, even as the first riffs began to ring out. Hopefully the others would get the damn message.
“There must be some kind of way outta here-”
“-said the joker to the thief.”
Bakugou glanced up as he stepped out of the last streets of the ruins zone, hearing the thrum of music echoing from the entrance to USJ, and paused.
“Someone has a plan…” He glanced back, the other members of his impromptu team following his lead.
Uraraka blinked. “Is that Hendrix?”
“Hell yeah, it is round face. And he’s calling us back to the rest of the class, let’s fucking go.” “Hey, hey, No reason to get excited”
“-The thief he kindly spoke”
Shouji ignored the sound of music as he focused instead on the life-or-death fight down below him, arrays of eyes focused solely on the two slender figures.
The fight that was leagues above anything he had ever seen before.
Gleaming black metal and hands that destroyed all they held lashed out, a rapid and manic energy fueling them as he lunged and clawed after the death of his enemy.
And against him, a wraith in green and grey, fighting back with a level of speed and style that seemed… feral. Even looking on from a distance, something about it made his skin crawl, and his hair stand up in fear. The knife the teen was using was already tinted red, and it flickered and flashed like an angry viper, always warding or striking at just the right time.
He could also track the passing of All Might, the flare of color and downed villains leaving a clear trail. He glanced as the form of the class president came rushing past him, already making a beeline for the limp form of 13-sensei.
He was drawn back to the fight below as it seemed to slow, the two fighters separating, even more panels of Midoriya’s armor dropping to the floor, along with the now disintegrating mask he had worn.
“All along the watchtower-”
“-Princes kept the view”
Izuku breathed out slowly, feeling the familiar burn of acid in his blood, of stress in his muscles and heat under his skin. In the distance, the sound of guitars only made the moment feel more surreal and oversaturated.
It felt like living.
It felt like life.
Across from him the blue-haired leader of the villains was dripping blood, bright red streaks that wept from the long shallow slashes across his shoulders and hands. Attempts at getting in and disabling that had been met with the ever-present threat of those hands, which had already taken and affected most of the armor across his right side, which was now dust sitting across the plaza. Even his mask had suffered a hit, but at the cost of a large gash that ran along Shigaraki’s jaw.
As he paced, he listened, hearing the slow scratching and squelching behind him, and the deep slow breaths of Shigaraki.
It was gonna happen any minute now, and he could feel it - the tension - as Shigaraki bought himself just a bit more time by talking.
“Why do you even want this system to stay intact, why do you even fight, survivor.”
Izuku met his red eyes with a cool and level gaze, already thinking of his next move, muscles slowly preparing as he flooded adrenaline through them, letting his body prep for the next part of this dance.
“Is it because that's all you know? Did you finally buy into the party line? Wanna give Sugo the satisfaction of a job well done?”
Izuku let a soft huff fall through his lips. “Really now, did you think I would rise to the bait? I wonder… did you learn anything from the streams?”
He heard the crack of stone shifting on stone and wanted to grin as the scene began to play out. Ahead of him, the blue-haired teen’s eyes glinted with a surge of manic rage, and Izuku knew he had poked the right button.
With a snarl, Shigaraki gave the command. “NOMU, KILL THE GREEN ONE.”
A roar, and the sound of cracking pavement, of lunging steps moving just this side of supersonic as it rushed him.
He waited, pacing his thoughts.
As always, the timing was the key to the world.
He stepped one foot back-
The Nomu closed in, rising up, swinging its fist back as it primed its attack-
The twist, his entire upper body swinging into the motion, the very tip of his force channeled down his left arm, muscles bulging as their long awaited moment came, screaming with stress as he felt his body reach the very limit of what it could do without breaking, just for a moment.
The Nomu swung down, fist aimed to crush the teen’s head into the ground.
Izuku’s knife reached its wrist first.
The pivot drove the blade into the fold of the Nomu’s wrist, the steel sliding between the ulna and the carpels as the force slammed into it.
‘Shock absorption doesn’t negate momentum, merely impact’
The blade shattered, snapping from the hilt.
Izuku didn’t care, its job was done.
He shifted, hopping only barely as the shockwave of the fist slamming into the ground at his side rang out, cracking the pavement, even as he finished his twist, coming to stand back-to-chest with the Nomu, the beak leaning over his right shoulder as it seemed to pause for just a second.
It was dumb, a crude organic killing machine, and when something didn’t work it struggled to adjust, just for a second, just long enough.
From the corner of his eye, Izuku marked his target, the off-white gleam of thea blade, now wrapped in layers of neural tissue as the Nomu’s brain reformed around the barbed piece of metal.
From his hip, his right arm came up, finger thumbing the safety as he planted the nozzle of his plasma cutter in the Nomu’s jaw.
He pulled the trigger, eyes averted as the flare of white plasma and heat bloomed over his shoulder. The Nomu screamed and reared back in uncomprehending agony as its head became a torch, the brilliant white glow of magnesium shining as it burned, before the sparking and twisting of the thermite in the blade caught, increasing the heat a dozen fold. It flowed from the magnesium shell to seep into and through the skull, the Nomu now flailing as it tried to comprehend, to respond with the entirety of its cranium a glowing jack-o’-lantern of molten metal.
The seizure of the Nomu slowed and it collapsed, falling limp behind him, as the manic eyes of Shigaraki looked on.
“What… No… no no no no no-”
“Oh yes.” Izuku felt the adrenaline surge, the spite and satisfaction so great that he had the faintest twitch of a grin. He dropped the now empty plasma cutter, letting it clatter to the ground as he took one slow step forward, not bothering to draw another knife as he watched Shigaraki’s body like a bug pinned to the exam table.
“YOU CAN’T PARRY THE NOMU! YOU CAN’T!” The pitch and volume of the blue-haired villain was rising, and Izuku could see it, the flicker of madness.
“Well. Maybe you can’t. You’re a fucking casual after all.” Izuku pushed his mouth into a snarling smile. He stared into Shigaraki’s eyes, focused on the emotion, the intent, and his smile became vicious at what he saw.
He saw Shigaraki’s restraint snap, and his anger takes the wheel.
The villain lunged, hands outstretched, eyes feral and aggressive, a snarl on his lips.
Izuku grinned and stepped to meet him, one hand resting at his side as the villain’s hands neared.
He swung his empty left hand up and grabbed the hands on Shigaraki’s arms, yanking tight so they were standing nearly shoulder to shoulder, face to face.
Shigaraki was turning, eyes focused on Izuku, even as he pulled his other hand up.
Shigaraki’s eyes widened, eyes reflecting the black depths of the weapon, his expression turning to one of terror as he tried to backpedal, jerking his head back.a
Izuku pulled the trigger on his handgun, the echo of the shot ringing in his ear as a spray of crimson spread through the air, followed by the clink of his shell hitting the ground.
‘And that's bullet 15.'
Death count: 3
Izuku sat against the computer bank, holding his stomach as blood slowly seeped from the holes in his gut.
“Okay… Okay, I think that's everything.”
He glanced up at the now empty glass chamber, and the dead corpse of the host of the Walrider.
“I can do it… One more… I only need one more…”
He had spent the last three lives exploring the entirety of the asylum. From Richard Tagert, the crazed administrator turned vivisectionist, to the chapel and the death of Father Martin. He had seen it all. And now? Now he knew where the lab was. What waited for him in the depths of the asylum.
He was ready. He was ready.
He glanced down and sighed as he saw the blood pooling faster than he could keep it in, and made a choice.
He needed to die, to reset, and he wasn’t going to do it bleeding out.
Been there, done that, ruined the T-shirt for it too.
He breathed deep and forced the familiar hesitation down before reaching up and grabbing his jaw and temple.
The world went black, and moments later Izuku sat up in his bed.
“One more time.”
The gunshot had gotten All Might’s attention, and with a curse he rushed to the scene, worried about the safety of his young student-
He skidded to a stop as he eyed the scene.
There, sitting in a growing pit of disintegrated and decayed concrete, was the writhing form of the villain who had commanded the beast, the body of which sat, smoking from an empty skull, only a few meters away.
Standing at the edge of the pit, Midoriya-san paced, eyes intent like a wolf waiting for its prey.
All Might was approaching when Shigaraki snapped his gaze up, and couldn’t help the flicker of bile from rising up his throat.
The young man’s right eye was gone, only a bloodied trench that tore through the side of his face left, bone shattered and scraped clean. The start of the trench even cut through the middle finger of the hand that covered his face gas mask style, which may have been the only reason he didn’t get the bullet lodged on the inside of his skull.
The mist of the warp villain appeared, and Izuku stepped back, All Might tensing as he took in the variables. The villain startled as he took in the state of the pavilion, before warping to support the younger villain.
“What- Tomura! We must retreat.”
Izuku tensed, clearly preparing to act, before Shigaraki locked his sole red eye on the green of his opponent.
“I shall ruin all you hold dear, Izuku Midoriya. Warp us.”
Izuku burst into movement, a knife was thrown through the air-
-only to pass through the mist left behind as the two villains vanished.
As the knife embedded in the concrete of the fountain, Izuku seemed to slump, eyes alert but body seeming to sway ever so slightly.
“That could have been easier.”
All Might could only blink in confusion at the younger hero, the deep and consistent air of threat dissipating like morning dew in the desert sun, leaving only the stoic but familiar form and feel of his student.
‘What the actual fuck was that.’
They both jolted as the door to the USJ slammed open, the horde of teachers barging in to freeze at the scene.
From his side, All Might could barely make out the muttered complaint.
“‘Bout time the calvary showed up.”
And then, like a doll with its strings sliced, Izuku seemed to sag and fumble, eyes closed even as his knees hit the floor, and he seemed to slip into a deep slumber, knelt Seiza in the blood spray across the cracked pavement.
Izuku moved quickly once he found himself in the car. He popped open the glove box to grab the medical kit before darting from the jeep at a run, camera in his pocket and bag at his side. A split second to dart into the guard hut and grab both the battery and the roll of bandage, before he sprinted up the front plaza of the asylum. He mantled over the wall, barely slowing as he headed for the scaffolding and scaled up the structure before climbing through the window. At his entrance, the single light died and he glanced around, eyes already adapting to the darkness as he found the overturned table, metal legs stretching up into the air.
Planting his foot, he twisted and yanked, the table leg coming free with a wrench of cheap wood. Hefting the new club, he moved through the next few rooms, ignoring bloodstains and sliding through barriers as he made for the break room.
He slammed the door shut before stepping past it to stand just next to the bathroom door.
A bang as the door opened was the only signal he needed as he twisted, putting his full body into a swing and bringing the metal end of the table leg up and into the variant’s skull, blood scattering as the temple and nose of the variant collapsed, leaving the body writing on the floor.
A stab put its movements to an end, and Izuku stepped over into the restroom, opening the wall-mounted box of medical supplies and adding them to his collection. He stepped back into the hall, glancing both directions before listening...
There you are.
It was distant, far off and muted, but he could hear the heavy footfalls of Chris.
He couldn’t kill the much larger variant. Not with the supplies he had.
That could wait.
He ducked into the breakroom, snagging a can of soda from the vending machine with a smash of his club, before climbing into the vents.
The short passage dropped him back onto the upper level of the entry hall, and fast steps lead him to the library, where the heads sat, and the dying form of the sergeant gave his warning, pleading with him to run. To escape.
Izuku waited out the words, head bowed as he let the soldier finish dying.
And then he grabbed the man's knife and his walkie talkie. He tucked the earpiece into his collar, where he could hear it when the soldiers finally arrived, and set off.
Instead of letting Chris get the jump on him, a simple smash through the window gave Izuku a clear leap to the ground floor, a desk shattering as he rolled through the fall with a grunt.
Then he glanced up to see the surprised form of Father Martin.
Izuku stood up and gave a soft chuckle. “Rejoice Father, for I have come to drive your nails in.”
And then, with a swing of the club, the priest died.
“Sadly, you must let your God sort it out.”
The bleeding form of Father Martin lay slumped on the ground. Crouching near him, Izuku reached forwards and rummaged through his cloak, pulling out a lighter and a syringe.
“I’ve got a long night…” he slung the metal bar across his shoulder and tucked the syringe in next to the knife at his waist. “Let’s go clear the roster.”
Izuku let his body slump, eyes half-closed as he fought down his pulse, letting his breathing settle.
After a month of quiet… of maddening peace and stiffness, he could feel it. The way his muscles felt like there was tension behind them. The deep sense of awareness that let him feel the world, see the intent that flowed off the heroes now on the scene.
He didn’t even feel winded, so much as unprepared. He could feel the old rush, the well-known signs in his movements as the twitch and heat of adrenaline that had flooded his body began to recede, broken down and processed as its job finished.
‘Heh. Addicted to adrenaline. What a surprise to absolutely no-one.’
He let his mind wander to the pain across his joints, to the ache of strain through his limbs. It was familiar, and almost… pleasant. The feeling of growth.
He glanced up, All Might having vanished as the heroes grew closer. Izuku took a long and slow shuddering breath in, letting the elation fade and the fire of his desire, as twisted as it was, be banked and replaced by the calm shroud of professionalism and apathy he felt creeping back across his features.
‘Next time… Next time you won’t get a chance to dodge.’
In the depths of his mind, the name Shigaraki Tomura etched itself, next to the long-etched name of his captor, Akihiko Sugo. He would kill the man who threatened his mother, and now he would add the man who threatened him to the list.
But for now… he had to report how the day had gone.
Rising from his seated position, Izuku took in the missing panels of his armor, and sighed.
‘Mei is gonna give me so much shit for this.’
‘Richard Trager’ blinked as he slowly woke, before jerking at the weight of straps holding his arms and legs to a chair. He blinked, slowly, behind the shattered glasses he wore. He quickly lost the confusion, expression growing into rage at how he was restrained on his own operating chair.
“What! WHO DID THIS? WHO?”
“Oh shut up, doc.”
The soft voice was young, male, and Trager glanced around at the sound of it, the programming that drove him emulating his response even as the entity finally focused on the teen who leaned against the far wall, his hands holding a long wicked-looking bone saw.
“YOU!? A MERE CHILD?”
Izuku glanced up and scowled, his soft features, slowly growing sharper with each day that passed, narrowing. His pale skin and the deep bags around his eyes contrasted with the vibrant mess that was his hair.
“Yeah, I don't have time to humor you.”
Izuku stepped forwards and set the saw down, before reaching for a large scalpel.
“Tell me, Rick.”
The teen crouched so he was face to face with Trager.
“What’s your old computer password for the Asylum?”
The variables clicked and shifted, Trager struggling as his response formed.
“Fuck you, I’m not gonna tell you jack shit, kid.”
Izuku gave a slow nod.
“That is what you said the first time I tried this. But this time, I really do need what you know. So... Let's change your mind.”
And like that, Izuku went to work.
The screams of the program known as Richard Trager were loud, but soon enough the words he was looking for came.
As Izuku finished, hands up to the elbow covered in blood and stomach empty of even bile at the acts he had done, he let the lifeless corpse of Trager slump to the ground.
“Alright. Next, Eddie.”
Todoroki was confused. No, more than that, he was disturbed.
His rescue of the frog-quirked girl had gotten complicated when the cold had affected her to the point where she was shivering and unconscious. He had been forced to find shelter in one of the supply huts, using the bare minimum of his father's power to heat the room until she stopped trembling. He couldn’t just leave her like that either, the half dozen rescue and safety courses he had been grilled on made that clear.
But from his position, with the door cracked, he could still see the plaza. And he was unable to process what had occurred.
What awful killing intent… what sort of person Midoriya must be.
The feral posture, the aggressive and animalistic fighting style, and the final blow…
Why are you in UA, Midoriya Izuku?
Why aren’t you in the depths of Tartarus.
The sound of a shattered window rang out, glass clattering across the tile of the recreation hallway.
Bloody handprints began to cover the walls, the drippy blood drawing bright streaks across the floor. Eddie’s snarl morphed into a smile when he saw it. Laughing, he began to follow the bloody path.
More and more the blood lessened, the marks less obvious, but Eddie was already following the route laid out for him.
As he walked into the gymnasium, he glanced around curiously, ignoring the myriad of bodies he had hung, whores and ugly bitches all of them.
“Where are you honey, I just wanna look at you! Stitch you up and fix you!”
He glanced around once more, his programming emulating what he could see and hear. It’s why he never noticed the slowly lowering form behind him until the loop of a rope snagged around his neck and pulled.
He snarled and thrashed, but with a jerk and shift his feet left the floor, leaving him ‘breathless’ as the rope bit into the structure of his neck. As he continued to jerk violently, he saw a glint of blood, a dismembered arm sitting against a wall, still dripping blood from its shoulder.
The last thing the program registered was green eyes staring at it before dropping from the ceiling.
Uraraka finished giving her statement to the kind officer with the cat head who had pulled her aside. Her eyes roamed the clustered police vans, ambulances, and even fire trucks that had pulled up and around the entrance to USJ. To her relief, it seemed like no one in class had been killed, though both Aizawa-sensei and 13-sensei had been driven back to UA proper for medical treatment and observation. All Might had vanished as well, though a tall, thin man introducing himself as Toshinori-san had stepped up, mentioning he had left to finish securing villains and check the far reaches of the campus for any more intrusions.
The gravity-defying girl finally had a chance to breathe. She blinked at the sight of the tall and usually elegant form of the class president sitting on the back of an ambulance, a bright red shock blanket over her shoulders and a steaming paper cup of hot chocolate in her grasp.
Moving up, Ochako perched at Yaoyorozu’s side.
“Everything okay, Inchou?” She pitched her voice low, seeing as Yaoyrozu flinched slightly, clearly distracted by something.
“Heh. Some rep I am. I barely did anything but-” with a flinch, she cut herself off and glanced away.
“But what? You helped stabilize 13, didn't you?” Uraraka asked, feeling worried. She had only seen Yaoyorozu at the end of the incident, when she was forming plates that sealed up and wrapped around 13’s breached suit, clamping onto the sections that had been ripped open.
“...Me, Jirou, and Midoriya were dropped together.” With a mirthless chuckle, Momo wiped at her eyes. “I was… useless. For a solid five minutes. I just… I couldn’t process what had happened. I couldn’t even think. And then… then I looked up, and Midoriya was so casual.”
Uraraka flinched at that. She had seen the fight for a moment before All Might had moved her, Bakugou, and Mineta up to the stairwell. She bit her lip, wondering if it was her secret to tell even as Yaoyorozu continued.
“I just… was that how a hero should react? With absolute calm under pressure? With no hesitation? Even our plan, both me providing support and Jirou leaving to deal with the security office… it was all Midoriya’s guidance. I didn’t even do anything but make him tools.”
Uraraka winced and decided Momo needed to know.
“Midoriya didn’t react because it was burned out of him in this last year.” As Yaoyorozu glanced up, eyes wide, Uraraka began to tell her what she knew. "He was trapped by a villain in a death game. I... I only caught some of the streams, and the occasional compilation, but he didn't have a nice time."
Eventually, the pair fell silent, tears staining their cheeks and Momo’s coffee turned cold in the evening air.
“So… what now?” Momo’s voice was soft. Small.
“We get stronger.” Uraraka said decisively, with a strength she didn’t really feel. “We get better… and we try and keep our crazy classmate from going psycho, I guess.”
“What are we going to do? I mean, to even get into the facility will be hell, but trying to shut down the Walrider program is going to be even more difficult. Hell, I’m already fucked up from this shit.” With a gasp, Waylon waved at the bandaged mess that was his left leg.
“That's why you aren’t going into the labs. I am. You’re gonna lock yourself in the jeep at the gates and walk me through it.”
“I know my way in. I just need you to guide me through the steps to handle things.”
Waylon gave him a worried look, but let it pass as they limped through the Plaza towards the entrance.
“Here.” Digging through his satchel, Izuku pulled another earpiece from his pocket, handing it over with a radio. “I’ll do what I can to keep it on.”
Waylon gave a contemplative look even as he shuffled into the guard shack.
“If I had the administrative code I could activate the security foot-”
“I have one.” Izuku handed over a bloodied sheet of paper, clean handwriting with a password and username.
“Where did you get Trager’s codes?”
“From Trager. See what you can access, I’m off.”
Izuku started back towards the asylum, when Waylon called out.
“Hey kid… Be safe.”
Koda listened with mounting horror as Kuro relayed what he had seen, before closing his eyes.
‘I could have done more… I need to do more.’
Kuro fluttered to his shoulder as he rose from where he sat against the fire truck.
“Kuro… I ask you to try and find others who would like to assist me.”
“Yes. Ask around to see if any would like to train with me. Please.”
With a flap of his wings, Kuro took flight. Behind him, face in a contemplative frown, Koda clenched his hand.
He wanted to save people.
He would start with his friend.
Izuku crouched, hands buried in the open panel of cords and switches, listening.
“You need to unplug 1-43, and switch 2-34 off.”
With a spark of metal welding to itself, the door to his side began to open, the safety switch triggered by the damaged panel. As Izuku stood, he stepped through the opening, eyes roaming the massive computer that commanded the Walrider.
The Morphogenic Engine.
He hefted the sledgehammer in his hand as he gazed at the oh-so-delicate computer systems.
All he had to do… was avoid becoming the new host.
No big deal.
Chiyo glanced at the student who lay unconscious before her, his still form pale and quiet.
She hadn’t quite expected her healing kiss to knock the teen out entirely, but when he dropped on her cot, quiet as a grave, she was worried, even as the various bruises across his shoulders and arms faded.
It had taken a few minutes to pull up his medical history, and what she had seen had taken her aback.
‘Medical marvel… unprecedented healing and sensory capabilities for a quirkless teen…’
She read the documentation, eyes roving over medical scan after medical scan.
‘Unknown if growth will continue along with current developmental pathing without the presence of VI augment.’
Flipping through diagram after diagram of muscles and nervous systems, she felt her blood run cold.
“What did they do to you, kid...”
“Kid, get out! You need to go! There're more soldiers showing up!”
Izuku glanced up at the now-leaking glass unit, the desiccated corpse of Billy, the last of the Walrider’s hosts, dying without life support.
“I’m on my way.”
Izuku turned and began to jog down the tunnels towards the exit, mentally playing out the path he needed to-
The sound of the Walrider was unexpected, and Izuku stumbled.
It was deeper, closer.
“ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊” It was everywhere- “₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮
ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊”-Deafening-”ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊”-Consuming-”ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊” -reaching up to cover his ears- screaming in pain as the words consumed his thoughts. “ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮ｻ◊ㄅ₮.”
The sound stopped, but Izuku could feel it writhing and sliding across his skin, could see the green glow that seemed to swirl around his fingers as he looked down at himself.
And then he lifted his head, slowly, to see the silhouette of the Walrider, its hand reaching out even as Izuku stood frozen, paralyzed with fear and confusion.
And the word that echoed from the nanites became clear.
And then everything was a blur.
Screams echoed through the bar. Guttural and crude, every word a curse, a vow.
Shigaraki was strapped down to the counter, hands pinned as the portly form of Sensei’s doctor cleaned out the debris in his skull, tweezers reaching down and shifting through nerves and shattered bone as he drew them from the ruined mess of his orbital socket.
After several hours, the counter was slick with flecks of blood, and Shigaraki lay still, exhausted but quiet.
His socket was clean, but not yet sealed or wrapped, leaving the gaping mass of bone and flesh clear for the world to see.
As he slowly climbed to his feet, staggering from pain, he stood fully, shaking.
“Sensei. Sensei… I have failed you.”
The television across the room flickered on as Sensei showed he was listening.
Shigaraki took a step, and thudded to his knees in remorse, tears welling in his left eye as he shook and shuddered with fear… with anger…. With absolute, unending fury.
“All Might… still lives…”
For a moment there was silence, before a slow breath slithered into the room.
‘Tomura… Look at me.”
Shaking, Shigaraki did as he was told, his sole eye wide as it locked onto the screen as the shadowed form of his sensei shifted, bandages doing nothing to hide his sly grin.
“Your failure… did not leave us with nothing…”
Shigaraki felt his pulse beat… how had he forgotten?
“Stage three… was a success.”
He stared at the screen with a wide eye, before snapping his face to the silent form of Kurogiri, who had used his portals to pin Shigaraki during the surgery.
“It was? You… you succeded?”
Kurogiri nodded, and spoke.
“All the bodies have been recovered. Tartarus was breached without complications… And I recovered the man you wished for.”
Shigaraki let loose a laugh, choked and desperate before Sensei cut him off.
“Tomura…. I have a gift for your service… a thank-you for such valuable assets you acquired for us.”
Suddenly, the bedridden form of All For One reached forwards, and a black circle of mist opened between his hand and the ruined face of Shigaraki Tomura. Kurogiri’s portal opening a way for him.
“I Command You… to see The World in a new way, my dearest… Son.”
His hand came down, resting against the cavity of Tomura’s eye.
And then, Tomura knew only pain.
Izuku staggered, the world spinning… things…. Didn’t make sense.
-Gunshots… impacts… Pain… Death… Healing… DEATH...-
He was fading, seeing mere fragments of reality, just shadows of familiar things. Of hallways... Of variants and soldiers…
Fire… That's right… I lit the Asylum kitchen on fire…
-more soldiers… a series of commands… None of them matter… A large room… A door… Light… Bright light ...-
His feet scraped the floor and he tripped, the sensation dragging him out of his stupor for just a second to hear it… a word…
-the slam of flesh on metal… the impact as a heavy car slammed through the metal gates…-
Wayon, where was Way-
-blood… Dripping from a ragged neck… The leg was bandaged… The jeep was idling before him…-
And like the stop at the bottom of a cliff… Izuku was back.
The world around him was frozen, the smoke of the exhaust from the idling car caught on an unending breeze. He turned slowly and looked back, seeing the asylum… or what was left of it. Flames engulfed the entire upper half, and one of the armored APC’s was embedded through the front wall, granting a clear view of the entrance hall, now utterly decimated.
And on the ground… not even a meter away…
Waylon… or what was left.
Izuku’s breath caught, and he glanced around to see the frozen glow of the Walrider, floating above the jeep.
And ahead of the figure, a text box.
As the world began to dissolve… Izuku collapsed to his knees.
He completed the game.
But he didn’t win.
This is the last of 'Season 1' for LID. Expect the updates to slow for a few months as I work on other projects.
Chapter 21: Tooltips
Bit of a slower chapter here, mostly setting up for the changes that he's making.
The room was still. Quiet. The long window to the west showed the setting sun, the sky like fire as it shined upon the city.
The stillness was broken by a shift. A slow step as the quiet form of a teen stood from a bench. His hands were wrapped in tape, the white and black bands stark against skin, and the faint splattering of blood already leaking from his knuckles.
He stepped forward, arms coming up as he took his stance, hair golden in the setting sun. A thud of flesh on padding, followed by another and another.
His black tank top was already soaked in sweat, red eyes gleaming as fist after fist was thrown into the heavy bag. First slow, testing. But every strike came faster, every hit harder, everything he felt, that he feared, that he wanted to roar and face and overcome channeled through muscles that already ached.
His knuckles felt like they were on fire.
His arms screamed as lactic acid burned at his muscles, his nerves frayed.
But all he could see was that moment.
The spray of blood and sheer, focused calm. That moment where Izuku made a choice and followed through with no hesitation.
He screamed and threw one last punch, his quirk sparking through the tape as he slammed into, and then through, the heavy bag with the sound of a gunshot.
Sand spilled to the ground even as Bakugou slumped against the deformed shape of the heavy bag.
“Shota, Nedzu. We need to talk about Midoriya Izuku.”
The teacher looked up, still flexing his forearm under the brace that covered it. At his side, the principal glanced up with a measured look at the form of Recovery Girl.
“Yes, Chiyo? What have you found?” Nedzu was calm, but there was an energy, a curiosity, that lurked under his frame. At his side Aizawa was quiet and tense, listening intently.
“I managed to finally get the records for the boy. All of them.” She breathed deep and passed a tablet to them, the teacher holding it up so both him and Nedzu could watch as a simple portrait of the teen appeared.
“I checked all of this. I spent most of the night hunting down the doctors who did the initial exam, and the various specialists who checked different parts of his changes.”
“Changes?” Aizawa was intent, and as the model began to change, he watched with narrowed eyes.
“As you know, the simulation he was held in emulated his entire body through the use of the digitalization quirk. What people didn’t know, until Midoriya exited the simulation, was that his body was treated like it was undergoing the simulation, through a specific program.” She brought up a new page, the I-Island logo large and marked with ‘Confidential.’ “That program was developed by a team known as Lazarus.” Another symbol appeared, a stylized Ouroboros, done in smooth red lines around the staff of Asclepius. “The program was originally designed as an injury and exposure simulator to map healing for long term care. But, it was stolen along with the Environmental Encounter Simulator.”
“The simulator… that's the one Midoriya was trapped in,” Aizawa nodded, the pieces starting to form a disturbing picture.
“The very same. The program they made was in charge of simulating the stress of death and combat upon the human body, and then through a modification from Akihiko Sugo, it rebuilt and healed the body it was simulating... and made it better. The more stressful the simulation, the more pain, the more exhaustion and exertion, the greater the threat response and injuries it took… The body would be improved to cope. The only part not modified was the central nervous system. Instead, it was merely renewed to the latest uninjured state; often when it was in the middle of a flight or fight response.”
On the screen, panels popped up, pointing to a dozen points on the body. Aizawa was clenching the screen in his uninjured left hand so tight the glass creaked under his grip.
A series of numbers were displayed.
Length of perceived in-simulation time: 384 days, 17 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds.
Stress levels above recorded measurement.
Growth rate increased to 359.3% normal expected development.
“Shit… how is he even sane?” Aizawa bit back his desire to yell, only to hear from Nedzu.
“He might not be,” The principal glanced up, eyes narrowed as he looked over the medical records. “For that matter, I would hesitate to call him a human. Not after the changes he’s undergone.”
Izuku stood on the roof of UA, his hands in the pockets of his sweatpants and a loose green shirt billowing in the breeze of downtown. The sun had set mere hours ago, and with it, he had woken up.
He stepped across the asphalt of the roof, bare feet on the rough stone, beginning to move. First, slow stretches to loosen his muscles, to gauge his own body and its capability. It wasn’t Tai Chi, though it held the same slow grace. It wasn’t yoga despite the flexibility of his action, with its lack of set stances.
It was feral.
He moved through it slow, each step and twist heavy with intent and drive. He could do it faster, use the explosive twisting forces that he was capable of, but that wasn’t the point.
The memory flashed through him.
‘Don’t rush, kid. The moment you rush, the moment you stop thinking, is the moment you get picked off.’
So instead of hurrying, he slowed.
Each step took time. Each twist was slow, and deliberate, and measured. Each thrown fist and breaking thrust and killing strike he knew and walked through was glacial in its pace. Yet the strain only increased. Holding each phase, his muscles tensed from the force of the flex, even as they were slowly released.
As the moon rose high, and the air cooled, Izuku finally came to a slow stop.
“You could have stepped up, sensei.”
The sway and step of the pro hero was different from Aizawa’s. Aizawa was a snake, a shadow, a flicker of cloth in the wind that struck like a hammer. Snipe was a presence. His cloak was thick and heavy, his armor stylistic and his dreadlocked hair and mask was almost iconic, and his weapon of choice was a threat, being one of the very few heroes with a gun and the willingness to use it.
And even now, without all of the clothes and weapons, dressed only in a white tank top and blue jeans, he still carried his own metaphysical weight.
“Looked like you were working it out just fine, kid.”
Slowly stepping up, the teacher soon stood just out of arm's reach next to the teen.
Izuku tilted his head, unwilling to really put up a social front tonight.
“I can’t sleep easily. The real world’s a bit too loud, and the dreams a bit too real.”
Snipe nodded and looked up, Izuku following his gaze.
For a while, they simply watched the stars.
“Hound Dog’s pushing his session with you back a week. The entire staff is up in arms and needs to be seen showing they’ve still got it, so we’re taking extra patrols.”
Midoriya glanced up, eyes unimpressed. “Of course. The Media.” The venom was deep, but subtle. As he glanced back out at the skyline, he stepped forward and up, feet tapping lightly on the thin concrete barrier around the rooftop. The drop below him, the sky above. For a moment, Izuku just let himself breathe in, while behind him Snipe tensed, ready to lunge and catch the teen if he proved to be… unstable.
And then, Izuku opened his mouth, and started to sing.
It was wordless, more of an operatic moaning and calling. But the emotion was heavy. It was one of determination beyond death. Of unending pain broken only by victory.
In the wind of the night, it didn’t carry, but the song wasn’t for the people below. It was for Izuku.
It was a declaration of intent, vocalized so he could hear it said once more, a new layer upon the old. A refresher of a lesson hard fought and harder learned.
Under the song, was a threat to the world.
‘Let my bloodied hands stop, or make me kill you too.’
Izuku was shaking. His hands were trembling, his gut churning as yet another round of bloodied acid dripped from his lips down the drains.
‘I can’t win. Even when I did everything the way it should be done, I still can’t win! I can’t… I can’t save anyone. Not even in a computer simulation… Kacchan was right…’
He had tried to call up his childhood friend. Had reached for the solutions in his memories. When smiling didn’t work, he had reached for Kacchan’s rage… only for that to fail him as well.
He slumped back against the tile of the simulation room’s bathroom, eyes aching from far too many shed tears.
He wanted to just sleep… to just… fade away.
He slowly staggered up and away, pushing as he stumbled from the bathroom, a line of vomit on the tile ignored as he pushed for the ripped and torn bed, slamming in and trying to bury himself into the cloth, to block out the world around him.
On the wall behind his prone form, a screen floated.
Skillset Tutorials unlocked!
‘Movement’ ‘Observation’ and ‘Stealth’ simulations complete.
Unlocking Technical simulations.
Please wait 3 days as system prepares simulations.
Suggested Tutorials can be found on personal terminal in main room.
Jirou sat on her bed, band posters across the walls and instruments set carefully around her as she looked at the weapon in her hand. Black metal with a silvery edge, some sort of synthetic, from what Momo had said. It was as long as her forearm and hand held flat, and had a simple handle that fit to her palm.
The look in the hacker’s eyes as the blade pressed to her neck.
She blinked and turned the blade around, pushing the memory aside.
She pondered for a moment before rolling onto her feet, holding the blade down and away like Midoriya had said.
‘What was it… a chopping motion he said, right?’
She held the blade out and tried said motion, bringing the blade up and down with both hands, more like a baseball bat than a proper weapon.
She frowned and tried again and again, shifting her feet and setting her shoulders as she tried a few different configurations, but all of them felt jerky and weird.
With a final jerking motion, her hands slipped and her eyes widened when the blade slammed point-first into the carpeted floor, barely missing her bare foot.
She wiggled the blade free and frowned.
“This is harder than it looks.”
She paused at that, and her teeth found the end of her ear jack, rolling the metallic tip across her lips in nervousness and indecision.
‘He knows how to fight with a blade… and I never want to feel that helpless again.’
Nodding, she set her resolve.
‘Now… I just hope he agrees.’
I-Island research division.
A half dozen researchers sat around a table, eyes closed in exhaustion or staring blankly off in the distance with sheer frustration.
“All of our research, and work, and effort...” the speaker was an older woman, eyes red with tears long dried, bright aqua hair tied back in a messy bun. “Used by that, that sick fuck.”
“Asuna…” A tall man with red spiked hair reached out, hesitant but trying to comfort her somehow.
“HE KILLED PEOPLE, KLEIN. WITH OUR RESEARCH. OUR PROGRAMS!” Asuna choked back a shuddering retch, even as she slumped. “And we can’t even save the kid. Because the simulation is keeping him alive and we can’t trigger the ejection without restarting the system, which would kill him.”
In the back of the room, bags beneath his eyes, a larger black man, skin laced with scales, tapped at a console. “God… the chat room for this is only getting worse. There’s some sick fucks who are getting off to the kid’s torture, and I’m trying to moderate and ban as fast as possible… but there’s also a bunch of people who are doing research on the games. Hell, I’ve got dozens of links here. Speed runs, tactic guides, level maps, character backstories...”
“Store it all, Agil. We’ll need it, since my old cache of data got ganked when he stole the system.” Across the room, cat-like whiskers and ears twitching, and with dead eyes that looked into the distance, Argo downed another bottle of beer, stacking it with the dozen already to her side. “God. I can’t believe that, that… fucker, used my environment simulator. Fucking cocksucker.”
The four of them were the leads of what had once been called ‘Project Training Ground.’ Using Sugo’s digitalization quirk, and his basic designs, they spent eight long years reverse-engineering the data he provided. With digital copies of any and every type of material, they made databases full of what the world looked like for a computer, made prototyping simulators so precise they could simulate decay and destruction from nearly anything, and could see real time responses when exposed to nearly any environment or natural disaster.
And then Sugo started experimenting with living tests. Mice. Rats. Rabbits. Dogs and cats and snakes and spiders. He had even convinced Asuna, the lead on medical simulations, to let him use some of her programs. Her team, Lazarus, had made the ‘Biological Entity Stress Simulation Intelligence,’ or BESSI. It was the leading edge on medical simulations. It was revolutionary… and with his research it would have been finished faster and cheaper. It could have been released years ahead of schedule…
And now it was resurrecting a dead teen over and over again for the world to see.
The four leads in the room were distraught. But not as much as the youngest, the prodigy among them.
The teen girl was, even now, passed out on a cot in the corner, eyes puffy from days of crying. Asuna had been her teacher, despite them being in different departments. Argo’s environmental simulator, Klein’s physics engine, Agil’s material research, Asuna’s medical tech… And Yui’s experimental VI Seeds.
All of them butchered and spliced from research that could change the world… into a deathtrap.
The door opened, and the last of the six appeared.
Long, black hair tied into a ponytail and androgynous features started out, violet eyes bagged and skin gaunt.
Whereas the rest of the researchers had been working on the digital, Kirito Kazuya had provided the equipment to make it happen. The custom testing computer that ran the simulation, something strong enough to out-process half of Tokyo, was their creation.
And with its theft, everything else went along with it.
“Sugo’s still not talking… I hear he’s being shoved into the lower security section of Tartarus.” Argo drained another bottle, sliding it next to her stack. “Good fucking riddance. The asshole even admitted that he locked himself out of the system. Until the games end, his quirk won’t revert. We can’t hack the computer without the failsafes wiping it, killing the kid. We can’t turn it off without killing the kid. We can’t edit the games unless we want a hard reset, which kills the kid. The only thing we have access to is the live feed, and we can’t even cut that off. The closest we got is moderating the chat and looking at the data being fed out.”
“Fuck.” Walking by, Kirito snagged the last beer from the coder and sat on the table, eyes closed as they drained it. “Well. I have shitty news, okay news, and news from hell.”
“Regale us, dear leader. What’s the word from up top?”
“The okay news? None of us are getting fired. Shitty news? All of our research is currently marked as evidence for Internal Affairs. News from hell? The media knows it was our department.”
Groans and curses echoed around the area.
“Fuck. Great. Just what we need, the press. As if upper management wasn’t going to be pissed off at its use enough,” Klein groaned as he collapsed on the couch, Asuna still holding onto his chest as she quietly cried.
As the six of them settled in for another long night of watching a teen fight for his life, they spoke in soft tones.
Yui, eyes closed, clenched the bedding underneath her tightly and avoided letting her friends know she was awake to hear them.
‘She made the monsters… So wasn’t she one as well?’