Once upon a time, Toshinori had started his day with a little light crime fighting. He’d get up, shower, drink a nutrition shake, jump out the window, and be punching bad guys within twenty minutes.
He remembered those days fondly as he tried to argue with his dog that, no, it could not go to work with him.
“Go too.” Basil warbled in a deep, barely human-sounding voice.
This was not what Toshinori had expected when the T3s had asked to give it a Japanese lexicon. He’d thought that meant it would understand Japanese. He’d heard Basil vocalize a little, but he hadn’t realized it was capable of language. Even Inko had been shocked. Apparently they weren’t known to be all that intelligent, something along the lines of a very smart dog or small-ish child, but Basil was smarter than the wardroids she’d encountered before.
“I’ve heard them communicate in droidspeak sometimes, but Basilisk riders were known to heavily customize their mounts based on what they needed.” She’d shrugged helplessly. “Your parents must have upgraded Basil’s processors. If they were by themselves then they might have wanted it to have better communication and problem solving abilities.”
Basil had lifted its head where it was doing an impression of a napping dog in the middle of the livingroom, having recognized its name. “Smart.” It agreed before putting its head back down.
It didn’t have the cognitive processing power of D5 or the T3s and it only had specific areas of expertise. It liked to play a bit, but mostly ‘napped’ in standby around the penthouse; usually in a spot where it was guaranteed to be in the way. It had always let him leave without issue before and seemed to prefer to stay home so it could ‘guard’ the house, but when he went for the landing pad that morning it tried to follow him right out.
“What is your problem?” Toshinori hissed before he shot a careful look back into the darkened penthouse.
Inko was up, but she’d had one of her restless nights and was still a little quiet and preoccupied. She’d startled awake around 2 AM with a wounded noise only to subside back into restless shifting that no amount of soothing would banish. Akatani had warned him that it was probably coming after something upset her during that botched fitting and the man’s instincts were right on the money. Toshinori’d wanted her to sleep in more, but she’d wanted to stick to her morning routine. She was remarkably functional for someone with untreated PTSD so he hated to get underfoot, but he did wish she’d be more gentle with herself on the bad days.
Young Izuku hadn’t woken up in a much better mood, but he could probably sense something was off with his mother without being told. He’d taken off earlier through the freight elevator, still looking pinched and a little off. Toshinori could only hope young Bakugo would balance him out again before class began.
This was the sort of thing no one told you about living with a bunch of psychics; contagious trauma.
Inko’s back was to them as Toshinori wrangled with the dog and she tidied up after making the lunch boxes for the day. She said she planned on going back to bed for a while, but he didn’t want to get her worked up. A rambunctious war droid would do that for sure.
“Jedi.” Basil jerked its snoot in Inko’s direction. “Elevated stress. Threat level increased. Stay close.”
What the hell was a Jedi? Was it talking about Inko? The word sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it. He’d have to text D5 later to let him know that the vocabulary the T3s loaded Basil with had some nonstandard additions. He wasn’t about to ask Inko after last night.
“What was that?” Inko wandered over, drying her hands on a dish towel. She looked a little bit better than she had right after waking up, but still a little peaky.
“Basil wants to come to work with me.” Toshinori was surprised to see her look pensive at that and then nod.
“Maybe it’s not a bad idea.” She said. “The Fo…” She stopped and shook her head. “Something is happening. It’s causing a disturbance I can feel. I’m not sure what’s going on. I just know that it’s going to be bad. Izuku was picking up on it too.” She patted Basil’s shoulder and it leaned into the affection. “My biometrics must have put Basil on alert. They have very sophisticated threat assessment modules.”
A cold finger slid down Toshinori’s spine. “The children are going on a field trip today.” He didn’t believe in coincidence.
They’d gone to a lot of trouble to obfuscate when the USJ trip would be, but they still had to hold rescue training for the first years within the first week of classes. Most of the Heroics program lesson plans built off that trip. Suddenly having his very protective and nearly indestructible robot gun dog tag along didn’t sound so disastrous.
“It’s not guaranteed to be anything we’re involved in.” Inko didn’t sound convinced even as she tried to reassure him. “I would feel better if you had him with you. ”
Toshinori put a protective hand on Basil’s back. “I’m not sure I can.” He admitted. “I’m already running a bit late. I don’t think I can go at his pace. We would have to walk.”
Ink thought about it. “If you call in a visitor’s pass for me then I could drive you both in the truck.” She offered.
“You said you were going to go back to sleep.” He probably wasn’t going to win this fight, but he wasn’t going to just give up.
“I don’t think it’ll happen with…” She made a face, wrapped her housecoat a little tighter, and sort of looked around at something he couldn’t see or feel. “... this going on.”
That unfortunately seemed fair. Toshinori sighed and decided to make an end run around her by ordering dinner in and calling it an early night. He loved Inko with all his heart, but living with her made him realize that he owed major apologies to the people in his life who’d stuck with him when he’d been the one stubbornly refusing to look after himself. He suspected she wasn’t near as bad to deal with as he’d been, but it was still not fun.
“All right.” He sighed and got his phone out to text Nedzu. “We’ll have to leave soon then.”
She pulled him down for a kiss, which did a lot to sweeten his morning. “I’ll be fast.” She promised.
Nedzu took the news that Toshinori’s murder robot wanted to come to school with him suspiciously well.
Nedzu: Send me a picture of it, if you will?
‘It’ being Basil.
He was quiet for a moment after Toshinori complied.
Nedzu: Can it communicate why it wants to stay with you today, specifically?
AM: Inko-san had a bad night and is exhibiting ‘elevated stress.’ She thinks Basil is reacting to her.
Nedzu: Bring it.
Toshinori frowned. He wasn’t about to argue with being given what he’d asked for, but…
AM: Thank you. I may be running a bit behind to catch the buses in that case. Inko-san will drive us directly to the USJ in my truck.
Nedzu: Excellent. Bring her too.
All right, that was a bit much.
AM: What’s going on?
Nedzu: Potentially nothing, but I’d rather be prepared than not. If she comes in costume then the students won’t even question it.
AM: That would be difficult since she doesn’t have one anymore.
Nedzu: Would she be willing to stay in the area with whatever gear she still has?
Toshinori went to stick his head into the bedroom. Inko had changed into a fluffy sweater with a winking unicorn face on it and a pair of jeans; the sort of thing any person would wear to run a quick errand. This had the potential to get real weird if everyone’s bad feelings ended up coming to fruition.
“The principal is asking if you’d be willing to hang around the USJ after you drop Basil and I off.” He paused, trying to think of a good way to phrase the second half of the request. There wasn’t. “Armed.”
Inko paused in the middle of tying up her hair. “Really?” She hurriedly pinned her bun in place. “Did he say what he was worried about?”
“There was the break in.” Toshinori pointed out. “The facilities schedule was the thing they spent the most time with.”
“Alright.” Inko held her hand and her handbag flew into it. She reached inside and pulled out the lightsaber.
Toshinori abruptly remembered where he’d heard the term ‘Jedi’ before. She’d called her laser sword the ‘traditional weapon of a Jedi.’ Toshinori had just forgotten about it under the onslaught of all the other revelations he’d gotten that evening.
He could understand Basil’s agitation better now. Inko had said her abilities weren’t all that unique among the people who had them. The droid must have had an algorithm in that ‘threat assessment module’ that accounted for the presence of a friendly Jedi and knew to use their mood as a litmus test for ambient danger.
He went back into the livingroom and banged Basil a few times on the side the way it liked. “Good boy.” He said quietly.
“Yes. Good boy.” Basil agreed and went to go wait patiently by the freight elevator.
Izuku discovered his biological father had the day off like this:
“Hey, is that Ass Face’s car?” Katsuki grumbled, looking back through the rear window of their bus.
Sure enough there was a black van following them at a short distance driven by a lanky man with bushy hair and a pair of sunglasses.
“Yeah, that’s him.” Izuku sighed.
They’d both gotten really good at spotting the man, given the number of their dates he’d crashed in recently. Izuku was fine with letting him do whatever, but Katsuki wasn’t so calm about the matter.
“The fuck is he planning on doing?” He asked and then frowned. “Nevermind, I just spotted the binoculars. Get a fucking hobby, freak.”
“Woah, woah.” Kirishima looked over. “Did I hear you say someone was following us?”
Kacchan jerked a finger at Izuku. “His bio-dad just found out about him.” He grunted, responding to Izuku’s instinct to turtle up when a Cool Kid™ started talking to him.
“Mom offered to introduce us.” Izuku hastened to assure his classmates who went from vaguely alarmed to definitely concerned. “He’s… a little weird. She says to ignore him until he’s ready to talk. He’s harmless.”
“That isn’t normal.” Kirishima observed.
“He ain’t normal.” Kacchan confirmed and Izuku was low key excited to see those two starting to develop a dynamic.
He’d been briefly worried about Kacchan hanging out around someone as nice and, um, hot as Kirishima. It turned out Kirishima was super duper straight though and had a kind of hero worship/rivalry/crush thing with Ashido going on. Kacchan, meanwhile, spent a lot of time wishing Kirishima would put a shirt on. He was reluctantly warming up to the idea of having the other boy in his space and making noises at him though so Plan ‘Get Kacchan a Non-Toxic Peer Group’ seemed to be taking care of itself.
“How did he not know about you?” Uraraka asked with the innocence of someone who’d grown up in a very tight knit and loving nuclear family; a place where babies were planned for and welcomed with unadulterated joy. Her brain was a great place to be even under stressful conditions. She was wall-to-wall nice even if she had to break someone’s nose. Between her and Iida, Plan ‘Make Friends Who Aren’t Your Boyfriend’ also seemed to be going well.
“They broke up before mom realized I was happening.” He explained. “He travels a lot so it was hard to get in contact with him after.”
“Oh, are they going to get back together?” Uraraka startled at the laugh that escaped Kacchan, sort of like a backfiring car. “What?”
“No, um, she’s seeing someone else now.” Izuku coughed. “They’re happier being friends again anyway.”
“She traded way up.” Kacchan translated and leaned back with his arms over his chest. “I’ma let the air out of his tires when we stop.”
“No, you’re not.” Aizawa-sensei made his way to where they were seated. “Here’s a life rule for you; never make it harder for annoying people to go away.” He fixed Izuku in place with one black eye. “Are we about to have a problem?”
“No, sir.” Izuku started twiddling his index fingers. He knew Eraserhead wasn’t mad at him. The teacher seemed to genuinely like him sorta, which was weird and new and incomprehensible. Having his teacher’s full attention was still really intimidating. “He keeps his distance. Mom says he’ll knock it off soon.”
Aizawa-sensei didn’t seem convinced, but he did go back to the front of the bus. Unfortunately, that exchange reminded him that he still had that itchy bad feeling he’d woken up with. Mom had explained it to him while Toshinori-san (... dad? This was even harder than he thought it would be) was in the shower since it was a Force thing and they’d agreed that the Force sounded a little crazy to anyone who couldn’t feel it.
There was no way to tell if the distressed ripples pulsating through the Force were the result of someone’s actions nearby, a natural disaster, or what. Not every bad feeling he got would be about him or anything he could control. They had to go about their regular day and just stay ready for things to go pear-shaped.
Toshinori-san… Dad… All Might was waiting at the USJ entrance with Thirteen when they pulled in and Izuku couldn’t help but relax a little bit --until he spotted Basil hanging out in the background with its sensors activated and periodically scanning their vicinity.
Then he really started to worry.
Inko had just collected her tea latte at the cafe down the road from the USJ entrance when the little disturbances she felt in the Force all morning coalesced into one big warning klaxon in her head. She had a faint Force bond with Izuku as his parent. It was fading as he grew and started to become his own person, but not enough for her to miss his sudden surge of alarm and subsequent pain.
“Hey, my phone just lost reception.” Someone -a young man at a nearby table- commented with vague annoyance.
“Mine too.” Another person sitting with him grumbled. “It’s probably the local tower.”
‘Bet you it’s not.’ Inko thought as she tossed her drink straight into the trash, grabbed her purse, and started to make her purposeful way across the street.
The entrance to the Unseen Situation Joint was abandoned when she got there, which was a major red flag. Fortunately the security gate had its permissions cached locally so her visitor’s pass worked. Otherwise she would have had to sacrifice time breaking in.
Once she was in, she was close enough to hear the sounds of fighting; crashes, shouts, and an enraged wardroid. That last was especially hard. It had been so long since she’d heard such a thing that she was blindsided by how it made her feel. She grabbed her nerves by the throat and set them aside.
It was going to be awful later when everything caught up, but for the moment she didn’t have the luxury of giving in to the darkness trembling at the edges of her vision.
One thing you never realize about war before you’ve been in one is how fast the fighting goes. It seems like eons from inside, but if you are the reserve forces racing in to help then the hours slip past like heartbeats. It was a long run and she almost felt like the ground was rolling backwards under her feet.
Most of the ruckus seemed to be going down in the big central plaza, but Inko could see evidence of smaller scuffles off in the distance. Basil was yowling in the plaza. He would either be with Izuku or Toshinori. So that’s the direction she ran in.
A big black thing punched through the geodesic dome covering the central plaza. Inko only got half a glimpse of it before it passed beyond sight. It looked big, ugly, and faintly surprised.
Inside the dome was chaos. The ground was littered with people in costumes. They were all fortunately too old to be the students. She didn’t spot Izuku right away, but she could see Toshinori who was in costume, fighting a bunch of smaller people, and madder than anything.
A costumed person she didn’t recognize was laying face down on the ground with the back torn out of their suit. Underneath was no kind of flesh Inko had ever seen. She hoped it responded to Force Healing or otherwise she wasn’t sure she’d be able to help.
Aizawa-san was still on his feet, but badly bloodied and cradling his arm. It looked like the skin had been flayed from his muscles and tendons there. There was a big smear of blood on the ground that suggested he had only just peeled himself up from there.
Basil was over by a patch of shore that led out to a sort of man-made lake with a fake shipwreck in it. There were sinister looking people with aquatic quirks there, but bound together with little purple ball things and they were NOT happy about it. Basil made a threat noise when one of the main combatants, a lean person in their early twenties with a costume made out of hands, turned away from Toshinori and charged at Basil.
No, he wasn’t charging Basil. He was going for the three kids hiding under Basil’s belly. The war droid dropped its head and shoulders to meet the man head on. He got his hands on the edge of the droid’s battering crest and made a noise of irritated shock right before Basil got his nose up under the man and sent him flying.
The Hands villain landed a short distance away and caught himself on a rock, which crumbled into dust under his touch. The villain stared at his dirty hand and then Basil in irritation.
Inko could have told him that Basilisks were armored in beskar when they weren’t made out of it entirely, not that he’d know what that meant. It was the toughest alloy known in civilized space, but the people of Earth hadn’t discovered that process yet. That villain could probably destroy it given enough time. That assumed he survived long enough to do it. They’d given Basil orders to avoid killing hostiles whenever possible, but any minute now it was going to decide that man would be less annoying if he stopped breathing.
A shot rang out through the dusty air and Inko heard someone scream. When she followed the direction of the sound she saw a bald person with fleshy antennae for ears struggling away from a little splatter of blood where the sniper (she guessed it was sniper since she couldn’t see anyone with a gun and the deep thunderous retort of the shot sounded like the big mass driver weapons she’d seen people use on Earth) shot them in the leg. It wasn’t bleeding enough to endanger the person’s life. The gunman had just winged them, but quirks with secondary mutations frequently hid a clue about their nature in the appearance of their host.
Like that, she understood who the gunman was. Hisashi had been stalking Izuku again and for once it had been helpful instead of just annoying. He’d tagged people of interest for her that way before or flushed them out of hiding. He must have spotted the hole Toshinori's larger opponent had left in the dome and decided to make use of it.
Inko pointed. The antennae villain dropped and passed out cold. Immediately her phone and several other phones in the area began to wail; confirming that the jammer was out of commission.
Another shot rang out. This time Hisashi was after the Hands villain; herding him away from Basil and the kids and back towards Toshinori, who had finished up with the small time annoyances trying to keep him pinned and seemed only too happy to go have a similar ‘chat’ with their ringleader.
There were plenty of metaphorical fires burning, but the biggest one looked to be the person in the space suit. Toshinori was fine and she’d had the T3s leave Basil some conditional programming on the side that unlocked its ion canon in circumstances very much like these. Nothing was getting near those kids.
Inko skidded to her knees next to the fallen teacher. They were still breathing, but she wasn’t sure if ‘bleeding’ was the word for the black smoke-like materials leaking out of the hero’s suit. It felt like bleeding in the Force so she decided to treat it as a traumatic wound and started to pump raw life energy into the flagging person under her hands. It was the kind of healing you never did off of the battlefield or a critical emergency. The patient was saved, yes, but you ran the risk of reversing old corrective surgeries. She’d have to worry about that later.
The wound under her hands solidified into a slightly tougher substance that still wasn’t quite flesh, but wasn’t billowing away like before either. She felt the fallen hero stabilize and then begin to breathe more easily as they slipped out of unconsciousness into regular, restorative sleep. This part she knew well. They would sleep until they were ready to wake up.
Eraserhead, meanwhile, had limped over to her and was starting to bark orders. “You need to evac… what are you doing?” He scowled as she grabbed him by the chin and yanked him down to her level in order to examine his face. Someone had bashed his poor head in. He had road rash all up and down his right side. His cheek was fractured. His pupils were different sizes. It was a miracle or sheer stubbornness keeping him upright.
“You’re concussed.” Inko diagnosed him aloud. “Hold still.”
He was not in near as bad shape as his fellow teacher given the fact that he was walking around, but internal bleeding was a concern in situations like this. Inko checked under his ‘hood’ to find that yes, he was bleeding internally. Badly. No cerebral hemorrhaging, thank goodness. Although it was a very near thing. He was headed for a long hospital stay if she didn’t do something fast.
He exhaled like it was being punched out of him as she blitzed him with life energy. The damage was minutes old and closed like it had never been there, leaving Eraserhead blinking and dazed.
“Get the kids out.” Inko told him. “Don’t engage with anyone if you can avoid it. You’re going to be loopy and your reflexes will be off for a while. Sleep as soon as you possibly can. It’s the only thing that will help.”
Students were starting to find their way back to the central plaza. Inko spotted Katsuki-kun among them. Thank heavens.
Inko got to her feet as the big double doors slammed open to reveal a winded boy in heavy armor and a line of ticked off pro heroes. Nedzu must have been ready to move. Inko didn’t have a good sense of how long it had been thanks to the adrenaline, but they couldn’t have wasted a single moment.
Things happened very quickly after that.
One of the teachers had a big weird looking gun, but they were a far superior marksman to Hisashi. He shot out both the remaining villain’s legs before a… a thing appeared to shield him with its amorphous body. Inko couldn’t even call it a person because its presence in the Force defied description. It was living. It was dead. It was neither, but somehow it still moved. Everything about it was abhorrent to her.
The Force, which had never reached out to her before in such a way, came crashing down on her in a mute demand for her to do something, anything.
By the time her ears stopped ringing, the thing was gone and it took the ringleader villain with it.
“Mom!” Izuku came running over. “Mom!”
“I know, darling.” She caught him by the cheeks to look him over, but he fortunately wasn’t hurt; just damp and smarting. Then she added, in basic: “We’ll talk about that thing later.”
“Okay.” He spotted someone over her shoulder. “Kacchan!”
Inko released him before he could tear himself free. The boys collided at the half-way point between them and if they were trying to keep their relationship on the down low at school then they’d probably just outed themselves.
Eraserhead was unconcerned when she checked his mind. Granted, yes, he had other priorities. None of the downed villains were restrained. He rolled his shoulders, trying to reconcile that with what he knew about her quirk before he dismissed it as a problem for later, got a roll of hero tape out of his pocket, and started hog-tying people.
The teachers dispersed without a word to follow Eraserhead’s example and also go after the kids who hadn’t made it to the central plaza by themselves. Inko couldn’t sense anyone in distress that wasn’t also an adult person within range so the kids had largely taken care of themselves.
Principal Nedzu came over to her and because she was in a state of high tension she checked his mind before speaking and was startled to realize that he didn’t think in Japanese. Not everyone thought in words, but some things slipped through as mental vocalizations. Nedzu thought mostly in pictures, the mental sense of mathematics, a language she didn’t recognize, and occasional bits of Galactic Basic.
Well, that would explain why he looked like no mammal that could be found on Earth. She didn’t recognize his species, but there were millions of sentient species in the known galaxy alone.
“Is there a comfortable place where we can move this person?” She asked in quiet Basic as she went back to the fallen teacher.
“Dear me! It seems I’ve been caught!” Nedzu replied in the same language -he didn’t sound particularly worried- and then switched to Japanese. “I hear sirens. Paramedics will be here shortly. Did you stabilize Thirteen?”
“Is that their name?” Inko asked and nodded. “They’re healed. Eraserhead too. They just need to sleep it off. I’ll have to follow up with them later to make sure there aren’t complications.”
“Eventually…” Nedzu’s beady black eyes followed Basil as it stomped after Izuku. “...you’re going to have to tell me where you found a Basilisk. I thought they’d all been impounded.”
“That is a long story.” Inko wasn’t about to reveal Toshinori’s secrets, but she also wasn’t convinced he could successfully lie to someone like Nedzu.
“It certainly would be. I look forward to hearing it.” Nedzu squinted over towards Toshinori and, ah. He’d spotted her and was heading over.
He didn’t seem to have taken much, if any damage. His costume had been ripped a bit on one sleeve and there was a streak of blood on his face perilously close to his mouth.
“How are Thirteen and Eraserhead?” He asked quietly.
“They’re fine for now.” Inko groped in her purse and came up with a packet of moistened towlettes. “Why are you bleeding?” She fussed.
“It’s not mine.” Toshinori mumbled as she scrubbed it off.
“All the more reason to not swallow any.” She crumpled up the wipe to try and hide the way her hands were shaking. “How bad was it?”
“Far less than it could have been.” Toshinori told her. His mouth was a flat unhappy line. “You missed the crazy guy monologuing. They knew I’d been injured. They were counting on being able to wear me out.”
“I’m glad they got an ugly surprise instead.” She felt her jitters start to ease. Izuku was safe. Katsuki-kun was safe. Toshinori was both safe and victorious.
“A very ugly one.” The corner of his mouth quirked in a mirthless smile. “I’m worried about that big guy, though. He screamed ‘bioweapon construct’ to me.”
Was Earth’s level of technology anywhere near that yet? She sure hoped not. Bioweapons were so gruesome and difficult to control that even the ancient enemies of the Jedi would hesitate to use them and they’d hardly ever balked at anything.
“Perhaps Midoriya-san would appreciate some privacy.” Nedzu observed and Inko realized he was watching her hands; specifically the fine tremors wracking them that she was not even slightly in control of.
Time sped up again as the first responders hit the scene and Inko got hustled off to one of the control buildings. She’d assumed that she’d be interviewed eventually, but Hisashi showed up smelling faintly of gunpowder, parked himself in the door frame, and would not budge for anyone except the teachers.
She sighed and got comfortable on her hard little plastic chair. It was going to be a long day.