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rise from your knees (and fight like hell)

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She sat on her throne of bleached wood that appeared akin to shining bone, a savage smile on her face. Before her stood a man, shaking in his shoes.

“Sazama Namihira,” she began. He jerked, fear written in every feature on his face. “Age thirty-five, born in 2027. You stabbed your four-year-old daughter to death three years ago because she was one of the few extraordinary individuals in the last decade who developed a quirk-- you say she attacked you with her quirk, which had just developed-- specifically a pyrokinesis quirk. Found not guilty on the basis of the quirked being inhuman in the eyes of the law.

Sazama’s eyes narrowed slightly, and despite his cowardice he almost looked brave. “Yeah, so? That thing was possessed by the Devil. It deserved to die.”

Her hands curled slightly, one of her black-painted nails scratching leisurely at a callous on her palm. “You deserved punishment.”

He scoffed, all traces of fear gone. “And why should I listen to a child like you! You barely understand the world-- who are you to say a word about it?!”

The seventeen-year-old looked up from her nails, eyes dark as coal zeroing in on the man. 

“You may call me Yonaki.”

His face drained of all blood at the mention of She Who Cries at Night.

The shadow’s whispers grew excited, his fear fueling them and gathering at his feet unnoticed. The whispers Yonaki alone could hear, telling her his secrets. 

“I heard from a little bird that your daughter, Chiko I believe her name was, only made a pot of water to boil, and you realized she had a quirk and threw the water onto her before stabbing her to death.”

The man took a visible step back.

That was all the proof she needed.

There was a spray of blood originating from between his eyes before he crumpled to the ground. A smoking pistol was in Yonaki’s hand, which she lowered leisurely.

Justice has been delivered.

The quirked rise.

 

Yonaki, in life, had been powerful.

Despite her quirk being comparatively weak to nowadays, she had utilized it perfectly to listen for crimes gone unpunished. She lived with the shadows as her friends since she was five years old, and she remembered the toxic mix of thrill and guilt whenever she put a bullet into the bodies of the privileged who got away with everything.

She died as she had lived: embraced by darkness, avenging the countless quirked slaughtered for having a special ability. 

When she died, she opened her eyes as a shadow. 

She had become what she called a Remnant: the shadow of a person who had died, but persisted anyway. Most Remnants were barely intelligent, but there she was, defying every law.

She watched countries rise and fall, Japan persisting as it always had. Quirkless decreasing in numbers rapidly until it was considered odd to not have a quirk.

At first, she rejoiced. The quirked had finally risen. They were in control now. People were equal now.

Until she watched a four-year-old boy being shoved around because he didn’t have a quirk.

Until she watched a nine-year-old girl being beaten by someone who used to be her friend because she didn’t have a quirk.

Until she met a seventeen-year-old boy, nothing more than a Remnant like her, his eyes shadowed with a self-hatred she was familiar with, lingering in the halls of a high school, because he hadn’t had a quirk.

Yonaki had once been proud of the quirked, but now she looked at them and felt nothing but bone-deep disappointment.

She had fought for equality. Her methods were brutal, yes, but she fought for equality , not a new social caste with the quirkless at the bottom.

She searched and searched and searched, looking for one bright soul that could possibly revive her dream of the balance in the world. Everyone liked heroes now: what would they think if a hero fought for equality?

She looked for one, and found three.

A quirkless girl with blood-red hair and a tongue as sharp as daggers.

A catlike girl with more bad luck than anyone else on Earth.

A silent girl with black wings whose red eyes could really see Yonuki.

All with a spark in them that she once had herself. A burning desire to tear society down and build it from the ground up again.

And Yonuki swore with every ounce of influence she had in the living world that she would help them.

 

Yominokuni Kokeru was many things.

She was creepy, she was deaf, she was mute, she was dark, she was bitter.

Yominokuni Kokeru knew many things.

Her quirk was not Angel of Death-- her quirk had nothing to do with death. Her life was out of her hands the moment she was born with oversized black wings and red, slitted eyes. Her relationships were limited to staring at a particularly rowdy shadow and following her caretaker. Her ears and voice would never obey her. The shadows she watched and somehow heard despite her deafness were not ghosts. The world was against her, completely and wholly.

But perhaps most importantly, she was unloved.

The shadows grew excited, whispering about her sister, Sen. That was how Kokeru knew the young woman was coming.

She stood on unsteady feet and faced the door, her arms at her sides and oversized wings folded tightly against her back.

Sen, came into the room with a scowl as always, barking something that Kokeru could barely catch on her thin lips-- something something dressed something-- before she practically ripped open Kokeru’s closet door and threw some clothes at her. Their parents had likely sent Sen to fetch her. Maybe she would be allowed to join them for dinner? Was it even dinner? The clock had broken a few days ago, she didn’t know. 

Kokeru stripped in her silent world, dressing as quickly as possible as Sen waited, impatience coming from her in waves. She shoved her wings through the makeshift holes in the back, grimacing at the feeling of scratchy fabric snagging her feathers, but thankfully not pulling any free.

Shiba’s shadow murmured her malcontent with her situation-- fetching Kokeru-- and the thirteen-year-old understood. She wouldn’t be happy either.

Her wings dragged behind her as she followed Sen out of the basement and to their impatiently waiting parents.

Her mother said something before she was shepherded to the car. Oh, so they were going somewhere? She was going outside? She’s only been outside a few times when she was really little. Before the shadows started talking.

Kokeru bounced on the balls of her feet, being shoved rudely into the very back. She was going somewhere!

… she must have fallen asleep at some point, because she woke to the smell of smoke. She sat up, trying to focus. Blood dripped from the shattered windshield, and Kokeru blinked. What happened? What was going on?

The shadows whispered with more frenzy Kokeru had ever heard, some even raising their voices to a shout.

OUT! OUT! OUT! GET OUT!

Kokeru whipped her head around, eyes wide as she scanned the environment. She was in her car, which was horribly bent out of shape, practically crushed by another car into the wall of a building.

Everything pounded with hurt , and she could barely use her numb fingers to unbuckle and force herself out the broken windshield, trying not to shake as her wings brushed against her parents-- oh, Kami, were they still out? She had to get someone-- save them --

She had barely managed to stumble away, the only thing her deaf ears could hear screaming for her to run, before there was a burst of light and heat, and she was knocked forward, her wings flaring from the sudden burning pain.

With a fearful glance, she looked back.

The car had exploded, and her wings now had tiny bits of glass and metal shrapnel embedded in them.

She pulled herself to her feet and ran like hell, feet screaming in pain as she scrambled away. Her silent word had been routine-- the shadows whispering things she could barely catch (and even then she could hear them, and only them, because of her stupid quirk, her bad quirk), her sister occasionally sneering in her direction on the rare occasion they saw each other, her parents absent as always. Staying in the basement with two meals a day unless someone needed her or let her join them for a meal if she was really good.

Her silent world was still silent, with the exception of the shadows screaming , but it was shattered beyond salvation. 

 

Noraneko Tsutanai didn’t remember anything but the streets.

Her quirk was called Black Cat, and it was as simple as it was complicated. She was walking bad luck, something reflected in the lives of others around her. A homeless pregnant woman who had cared for Tsutanai that contracted influenza out of nowhere and died in childbirth. A middle-class man that she camped out near that lost his job and ended up on the streets. Countless children that would trip on a pebble and dirty their clothes. 

She couldn’t control it. Bad things just happened around her, and it was almost like she was immune to it all. 

The woman, her name had been Kawamoto Shiori. Her son was an infant, somehow in Tsutanai’s care. Maybe she felt guilty that it was certainly her quirk that killed Shiori-san, or that she had felt a kinship with the newborn of the woman she had looked to as her mother. The boy’s name was left to her, which was heart-wrenching for someone of only thirteen to decide. 

She called him Kichi.

If she was unlucky (so much so that even her ‘name’, the single word stitched onto a blanket she had been found in, literally meant unlucky), she swore to herself that Kichi would be the luckiest damn child she had ever met.

Kichi liked to play with her ears and tail-- a side mutation of Black Cat-- and Tsutanai would never discourage it. He deserved the world.

The alley was dark and disgusting as usual when she slipped out, holding Kichi close to her chest. In her free hand was a simple, beat-up pan. 

She walked for half an hour before finding a well-populated street corner, setting the pan down before huddling against a wall.

“Please help me and Nii-chan,” she pleaded with people as they passed. Most didn’t spare her a second glance-- homeless kids were as common as dirt in Lower Musutafu. 

When the sun began to set, she sighed softly and picked up the pan, with a pathetic few hundred yen sitting on the warped bottom. Tsutanai pocketed it before standing and hurrying to her home alley again, her mutant feline legs working double-time.

Back in the alley was an old man, who gave her a smile with stained teeth.

“Don’t worry, squirt, I’ll watch him.”

She offered a weak, fanged smile. “Thank you, Nakao-san.”

“Bah, just call me Kenichi, I’ve told you before.” Nakao stood and ambled over, gingerly taking Kichi from her arms. “Scram, I know you’ve got work to do.”

 

Gushiken Akane’s life was very simple only a month ago: she was a quirkless piece of shit that woke up in the morning, was used as her mother’s punching bag, went to school where she was her classmate’s punching bag, and then came back home where she was her father’s punching bag.

A month ago, though, she had an epiphany that came in the form of crying in a tunnel that stank worse than her father’s alcohol habit.

When she went there, she hadn’t seen anyone, but the intense feeling of worthlessness hung in the air with intense pressure. She knew how that was.

Maybe it was a ghost, she joked with herself uneasily. 

“You mind if I mope here, too?” She asked aloud, half-joking. 

The pressure let up a bit, and she took that as a yes before collapsing onto the ground. 

“Ugh. Life.”

The pressure let up considerably more, and she grinned to herself silently. In the corner of her eye, she saw a little kid, pressed against the wall. He probably had an empathy quirk-- poor kid. 

“Y’know, I heard this one joke. Something about a memory quirk. Wanna hear it?”

Silence, and she shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t remember.”

She sat there for Kami knows how long, telling jokes to herself and the kid until the pressure had all but disappeared.

“I’ve gotta head home,” she remembered sadly. “Until next time.”

On her way home, mentally preparing to be a punching bag, it hit her.

Not literally, but the thought came to her so quickly it felt almost like a physical blow. 

She didn’t have a quirk to speak of, but she made somebody’s life a little better.

And she didn’t have to let them beat her up for it.

Following that logic--

-- she could have been doing that this entire time instead of wasting her life being beaten.

That night, with fresh bruises and cuts, she packed a bag and escaped into the night.