An angry, ominous melody that was at its core militaristic, filled the bay of a large garage on a small tropical planet in the Nemus galaxy. The Planets, Op. 32: 1. Mars, the Bringer of War played from large dusty speakers on a workbench littered with tools. Izuku, the mechanic up on scaffolding underneath a massive ship, was not just humming, but singing nonsensical words that were slightly off key. He was elbows deep in the internal mechanism of the ship’s engine boosters. Cursing as he bloodied his knuckles yet again, he pulled back to shake out his hand and admire his work.
This was how Izuku made his living, repairing ships on a remote island that was only known for two things, its impressive, diverse tropical fauna and luxury vacation resorts for the wealthy. Repairing ships was a trade he had learned while serving in the intergalactic space force.
After the enemy threat had been vanquished, Izuku’s passion and love for his bi-wing fighter, the speed, the acrobatics and the heroism had bled right out of him. There had only been one bi-wing pilot more skilled than he had been, Katsuki. But just thinking about his name caused pain to bloom in his chest. Hot and piercing, dark memories came to mind threatening to pull him under once more. Izuku couldn’t go there. He’d spent too many years mourning for his friend already.
Hating that the grief still felt so fresh in his mind, Izuku wiped unwanted tears on the back of his arm. He surveyed his work once again and was proud of it. The ship’s owner had complained that it hadn’t been operating right since he’d gotten it, that every time he brought the ship up to speed it had lagged, sluggish. Well, no wonder it hadn’t been functioning correctly. Someone had put dampeners on the boosters, restrictors that were preventing the engine from getting anywhere close to top speed.
Removing the dampeners had been simple really. Izuku was very familiar with the drive on this ship. His mentor, the legendary engineer Mei Hatsume had been the one to design it, so Izuku knew this piece of technology intimately. It always amazed him how Mei had been able to come up with her inventions. She had no respect for the rules of physics or time, they simply didn’t apply to her and she had pushed the limits over and over again.
Izuku kicked the remains of the dampener off the scaffolding and the hunk of metal hit the floor with a loud clang that made Gamma ruffle his iridescent teal feathers. The magnificent creature looked like a cross between a mythological dragon and a hawk (a predatory species of bird native to planet Earth). Gamma was in fact, a benu-bird, not quite a reptile and also not exactly a bird, that came in a wide range of colors.
Gamma had been part of Izuku’s life for a while now. One night Izuku had found the beautiful blue-green creature picking through his trash. The poor thing had been half-starved, injured and unable to fly on a broken wing. Izuku had taken Gamma to a veterinarian and nursed him back to health in the comfort of his home. Ever since then Gamma had become his garage buddy, sitting sentinel on his perch while Izuku worked and sometimes offering beautiful songs.
But right now he was annoyed, and he let Izuku know this by letting out a squawk that made Izuku’s head pound.
“I know. That was loud, but I’m lazy,” Izuku said as he gathered his tools from the floor of the scaffolding and put them in their designated spots in his tool belt. He was aware that talking to his pet might seem strange, but it wasn’t like there was anyone around to judge him. Besides, he believed that Gamma was quite intelligent. Perhaps the benu-bird understood his every word.
Izuku deftly climbed down the metal supports and walked over to his computer that sat on one end of the work bench. He paused for a moment and gently ran his hand down Gamma’s back to calm him, his fingers gliding over leathery skin and soft folded wings. Gamma gave a subdued purr in response.
Leaving Gamma to his own devices, Izuku turned to his computer, logged on and quickly wrote up a message to the ship’s owner, Shoto Todoroki. In professional concise language he let Shoto know that his ship could be picked up tomorrow and attached the revised invoice. Considering there hadn’t been anything to actually fix, Izuku had cut down the price of his estimate quite a bit.
Just as Izuku sent off the message, there was a deep resounding tremor that shook everything and anything that wasn’t nailed down. Tools and spare parts jostled, metal clanking against metal, which rose in volume so loud that Gamma left his perch entirely and took to the air. Thinking it was a ship coming in for repairs, Izuku left his chair and rushed to the door.
He flung the door open, expecting to see a huge freighter...but there was nothing. The concrete tarmac in front of his garage was completely empty, devoid of anything except a few stubborn weeds growing through the cracks. And to make matters even more suspicious, the sound and shaking was gone. It was like nothing had happened at all.
Gamma joined Izuku into the night, flying on light feathered wings. He landed on Izuku’s shoulder and curled about his neck, trembling. “You felt it too. Right. I’m not insane,” Izuku muttered as he began walking around the back. It wouldn’t hurt to check, although there was no way a ship the size of the one he’d heard could hide anywhere.
The night was cool, although still humid and the moisture clung and pebbled up on Izuku’s exposed skin like beads of sweat. It caused goosebumps to rise on his arms and he hugged himself. Talk about spooky. He wished he had thought to grab something large and heavy, like a big ass pipe wrench that could be used as a weapon.
But nope, he was a grown man in his late 20s who had spent half of his life training his body and mind to fight, certainly he could handle any threat, even if it had been years since he’d fought anyone. Still, he wasn’t stupid and there was no reason to get bare hands involved when a perfectly good pipe wrench could do the job.
Coming around the back corner of his building where Tugger was secured, his eyes scanned the area. Nothing was out of place. He really was losing his damn mind, Izuku decided. But as soon as that thought occurred to him, he noticed something in the dumpster that didn’t belong. Amongst all the scrap metal trash, pale ivory shined in the moonlight.
As Izuku inched forward, the object came into focus in horrifying clarity. A pale human arm was sticking out of the dumpster. Logically, Izuku knew he should back the fuck up and call the police, but even though all the warning bells were going off in his head he had to see more, know more. Maybe the person was still alive. Maybe Izuku could help.
Having been cursed with short genes, Izuku had to climb up the side of the dumpster to see fully inside. The arm didn’t belong to a human at all and it certainly wasn’t attached to a torso. Inside was a dismantled android in a jumble of disconnected limbs and frayed wiring. It seemed like someone had decided Izuku’s was a good place to dump their trash. Although, Izuku was dying to know why someone would decide to throw out a very human-like android, one that had probably cost a fortune.
Izuku took Gamma off his shoulder and placed him on the edge of the dumpster. He began pulling out the limbs one by one, followed by the heavy torso, tossing them down onto the ground in front of the dumpster. He had to dig deeper to find the decapitated head, his fingers grabbing onto hair that felt real. Once he had it in both of his hands, Izuku turned the head so he could get a better look at the face of the android. He stared into crimson red eyes framed by pale blonde lashes, Katsuki’s eyes.
Suddenly, and all at once Izuku was falling. He’d lost his footing on the side of the dumpster and fallen flat on his back, the impact sending all the air out of his lungs in a painful jolt. Wheezing, he sat up and looked for what he’d dropped, finding the head had rolled onto its face.
He crawled over to it and turned it over to look into that face once more. Almond shaped crimson eyes, a straight nose and a strong jaw. Katsuki had been devastatingly handsome in life and this remade version of him was no different. Izuku’s own eyes stung as tears sprang forth, spilling down his face. There was no mistaking it, this android had been made in exact likeness to his childhood friend turned comrade. Only Katsuki was dead, and this was a cruel reality Izuku had been forced to live with.
Closing his eyes tightly, Izuku trembled as he recalled the past in crystal clear clarity.
It was chaos. Complete and utter chaos on the front lines of what would be the final battle between good versus evil, the united intergalactic space force versus the enemy invaders. The enemy was unknown, having emerged from the deep recesses of unexplored space and had technology that far outmatched their own. They had zeroed in on planet Earth, ignored any requests for negotiations and had systematically began missile strikes on highly populated cities. The intergalactic space force had pushed the invaders back at great sacrifice, a last ditch effort to save the Earth and mankind.
Izuku was flight commander of a squadron of 4 bi-wing fighters, Katsuki being one of the pilots under his command. They’d trained their entire lives to be the best, rivals who’d pushed each other to push the limits and go beyond. Together, fighting side by side, Izuku and Katsuki had been invincible against the invaders. Even when the other 2 fighters in their squadron, dear friends of theirs had gone down in explosions of flame, Izuku and Katsuki had been relentless in their pursuit of the enemy.
Then, Izuku had felt a change come over Katsuki, a calmness that hadn’t been there before in his voice. Katsuki had figured it out and he knew the way to bring down not just one invader, but the entire mothership. Izuku hadn’t known what that meant, his own mind sluggish from one dogfight after another. It was only as Katsuki’s bi-wing left his flank and went straight for the mothership that he understood.
The enemy invaders had been hive minded, as in, each individual invader ship had been controlled by the mothership, the queen bee and brain of the operation. Izuku had realized it too late, had pushed his bi-wing’s power drive to the limit in effort to catch Katsuki, hoping to somehow force him to reconsider, but it had been all for naught. Izuku had watched in horror as Katsuki’s bi-wing crashed into the center of the enemy’s mothership, directly in the center of the fuel cell. The resulting explosion had caused a shock-wave that reverbated outwards, all of the enemy’s pawns going out of service, non operational and drifting useless in the vacuum of space.
They’d won the war with the sacrifice of one bi-wing pilot in an incredible show of courage. But Izuku had lost half of his heart that day, scattered in the molecules of Katsuki space dust.
Izuku came back to himself in the present, still holding the face of the man he’d once loved in his hands. He hugged the android head to his chest and shook. “Kacchan!” he wailed.