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The Starship Yuuei - BNHA Star Trek Story

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My name is Izuki Midoriya, and this is the story of how I defied all odds to become the symbol of peace for the Federation, the Galaxy’s greatest hero.

 

 

Chapter Text

aizawa

"I’m sure you’re wondering why I've called you here..." Vice-Admiral Aizawa grumbled as he tilted his head back to deliver eye drops to each of his bloodshot eyes.

The Vice-Admiral was melted into a large, dark blue leather chair. His jet-black hair, which usually draped lazily over his tired face was pulled back into abun that showed thought but was still a mess nonetheless. The red uniform, which was too large for his wiry frame, hung loosely on Vice-Admiral Aizawa and was covered in wrinkles. Any other Starfleet officer would be scolded for such an unforgivable dress-code violation, but Vice-Admiral Aizawa was the exception. He was exhaustion, personified. Dark bags were prominent under his black, bloodshot eyes as if he hadn’t slept in days. The Vice-Admiral’s desk was littered in precariously-balanced stacks of PADDs that chirped, demanding attention. The desk was also covered in empty, coffee-stained mugs; the strong, stale aroma permeated the entire office. A small couch was shoved into a corner of the small room and a large yellow sleeping bag was draped over it. It wasn’t uncommon for Aizawa to spend his nights in his office.

Lieutenant Commander Izuku Midoriya sat in a smaller chair on the other side of Aizawa's disorganized desk, his scarred fingers nervously drumming on the side of his leg. In contrast to the Vice-Admiral, Midoriya’s gold operations uniform was crisp and pressed. His dark green hair, while unruly in his youth, was carefully styled in a neat undercut. Sweat was starting to build up under the collar of Midoriya's uniform and the green-haired man shifted uncomfortably. No one had expected the Lieutenant Commander to make it this far. During his first year at Starfleet, Midoriya had scored the lowest in almost every subject, he had been scared of heights and space, and he had no previous familial background within the fleet. Everyone, including Vice-Admiral Aizawa, had dismissed Midoriya early on and expected the boy to drop out. Only Admiral Toshinori Yagi, or All Might as people liked to call him, seemed to be on Midoriya's side from the beginning. All Might had even been the one who had convinced him to apply to Starfleet in the first place. Midoriya managed to prove everyone wrong, displaying power and determination that rivaled All Might himself and graduated third in his class.

Sitting next to the Lieutenant Commander with an annoyed look on his face was Commander Katsuki Bakugou, his arms crossed over his red command uniform. His ruby eyes were darting back and forth between the Vice-Admiral and Midoriya, giving both men a death glare. The explosive blond had been in the same class as Midoriya, the two had even been childhood friends, but there was clearly a strained relationship between the men. Bakugou had made a point to beat Midoriya in everything they did as the academy, coming second in their graduating class with near-perfect test scores. The Commander had excelled from the start, quickly moving up the ranks as soon as he graduated. With an extreme list of accomplishment under his belt, everyone assumed that Bakugou would be the youngest person in Starfleet to gain command of a starship, but fate had other plans.

“I’m sure you’ve both heard about the starship Yuuei, a brand new vessel that Starfleet plans to send out on an exploratory mission within the next year.” The Vice-Admiral continued, Bakugou smirked confidently while Midoriya held his breath, “I’m here to announce that, after much consideration, we decided that Lieutenant Commander Midoriya will be promoted to the rank of Captain and will be put in command of the starship Yuuei.”

Bakugou jumped up, slamming his hands down of the Vice-Admiral’s desk with an explosive ‘bang’ that caused Midoriya to yelp. The stacks of PADDs collapsed and crashed, sending the devices in all directions. Rage burned in the Commander’s eyes as he glared holes into the Vice-Admiral, who was still relaxed in his chair, unfazed by the outburst.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me!” the Commander hissed, smaller explosions erupting from his palms, burning the desk. “You can’t promote Deku over me! I have more experience in the field! I’m a higher rank! You can’t do this!”

The Lieutenant Commander cowered in his chair, both hands gripping the edges of his seat until his knuckles turned white. Although Midoriya had grown up with him, Bakugou’s frequent outbursts still shook him to his core. The two had been separated for the last few years; Bakugou had been stationed on a starship engaging in war exercises along the neutral zone while Midoriya had been placed close to home at Saturn Station. The trembling man, feeling more like a boy, eyed the commander nervously, his stomach twisted into a knot as he watched his childhood source of so much heartbreak and inspiration yell into the Vice-Admiral’s face. All Might had told the Lieutenant Commander about the new starship about a week earlier and encouraged Midoriya to apply. He had done so on a whim, but he had never in a million years dreamed that he would get promoted to such an impressive rank, especially not over Bakugou.

“I wasn’t one-hundred percent behind this decision either; I don’t think the Lieutenant Commander is ready to take this position.” The Vice-Admiral sighed, the words hit Midoriya like a ton of bricks “I don’t think he is ready to make tough decisions, but Midoriya has friends in high places; my hands are tied. Commander Bakugou, you are being promoted to second-in-command. I don’t have the energy to spare your feelings. Although I think you have what it takes to really shine, you were deemed too reckless to be in command, and I agree with that assessment. This will be a good learning experience for both of you. You will both be debriefed on your mission next week. You’re dismissed.”

Midoriya leaped up and nearly ran out of the room, all too aware of the red eyes glaring daggers into his back. As soon as the door swung shut, Bakugou erupted again, his voice easily heard through the door causing people to stop and stare. The Lieutenant Commander pressed his back against the wall right outside of the office, listening to the one-sided tie-raid of a bruised ego on the other side of the door. This was supposed to be his moment. He, at 23, was the youngest person in Starfleet to be given a ship. He felt sick and deflated. An explosion shook the wall and Midoriya leaned his head back with a thud, closing his green eyes and groaning to himself; Bakugou was not taking the news well. He didn’t want this promotion. He didn’t want to be on a ship with Bakugou. Why, oh why had he listened to All Might? The room went quiet and Midoriya stood up straight with a sigh, making his way slowly down the hallway, out the door, and into the cold San Francisco air. The chilly winter breeze sent shivers down his spine as he sulked around the courtyard, his body had grown accustomed to the regulated temperature on Saturn Station. Midoriya wrapped his arms and retreated into himself, looking up at the grey sky and muttering to himself in an attempt to brainstorm himself out of his unwinnable circumstances.

“I won’t know how shitty the situation is until the debrief…” The young Captain grumbled, shivering as another cold breeze stung the tips of his ears “All Might didn’t give me many details about the ship… or what the mission is…”

A pair of small, delicate hands reached around to cover Midoriya’s eyes, shaking him out of his thoughts and he jerked at the touch. There was a chin resting on his shoulder and another cheek pressed against his own.

“Guess who!” a familiar friendly voice whispered into Midoriya’s ear, causing his cheeks to flush a deep red.

“Uraraka!” Midoriya squeaked, pulling her hands from his eyes and looking at his former classmate out of the corner of his eye.

Hopefully the cold masked his blush.

Ochako!” Uraraka whined, sticking her tongue out as she moved to stand in front of Midoriya “We’ve known each other for over four years now. You can call me by my first name!”

Midoriya laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his neck as he and Uraraka strolled through the courtyard. The two made small talk about what they had been doing after graduation. Uraraka had grown her hair out over the past few years, and it was pulled up into two buns on either side of her head. Midoriya thought her blue science uniform looked nice with her eyes and then blushed a deeper red at the thought. The petite, attractive woman went in-depth about the research she had been conducting, her quirk helped a lot with her studies over the years. He was glad to have someone there to distract him from his miserable day, but his relief quickly dissipated as the conversation turned to him.

“So what are you doing back on Earth?” Uraraka asked, nudging Midoriya gently with her elbow.

“I -uh- I… got a promotion…” The young Captain mumbled, hiding his face in his hands as he said it.

The science officer’s eyes lit up at the news; a huge smile stretching across her face. A loud, excited squeal left Uraraka’s lips as she bounced up and down.

“That’s insane!” She exclaimed, throwing her arms around Midoriya’s shoulders and squeezing him tightly “That’s so exciting! Aren’t you excited? We have to go get drinks to celebrate! Is it on that new ship? I’m being transferred to that ship too!”

“You’re going to be on the Yuuei?” Midoriya cried, ignoring her other questions as tears of relief collect at the corners of his eyes at the news. “Oh thank god!”

Uraraka pulled back from the tight embrace, holding Midoriya at arm's length. Her big brown eyes staring deeply into Midoriya’s, a look of concern plastered on her face. Before she was able to question him further, a loud explosion echoed through the courtyard. Bakugou slammed the door behind him and stomped by, his closed-fists still smoking, sticking close to the building as he walked as to avoid running into anyone. Even at a distance, Midoriya could see that the commander’s jaw was clenched tightly. He wondered how long it would his new second in command to calm down. Uraraka’s eyes followed Bakugou until he was out of sight, there was an expression on her face that Midoriya couldn’t quite place. She looked sad.

“Let’s go get drinks,” The science officer said, her eyes staring at the place Bakugou had been a moment before “I’m paying.”

Chapter Text

bnha-chapter-3-header

“Katsuki exploded at the Vice-Admiral!?” Uraraka blurted out with a heavy slur, waving wildly at a passing waitress and pointing at her empty shot glass “That idiot! No wonder they promoted you over him!”

She burst out in flamboyant laughter, slamming the table and causing a clash of shot glasses. Midoriya smiled uncomfortably, doing his best to try to counteract her ruckus and keep his full glass from tipping over and spilling onto their table. When Uraraka invited him out for drinks, Midoriya had imagined a night of nostalgia with an intimate part of his past in a cozy restaurant, not this. It must have been a sight. He spent the night, being dragged through the town, from bar to bar by an adorable, round-faced science officer, eventually ending in some of the raunchiest strip clubs in San Francisco. Midoriya had never been in such a scandalous place in his entire life. Women in all shapes, sizes, and species danced on floating platforms near the ceiling, their bioluminescent features, both natural and artificial, and glowed under the black lights. The waitresses were all covered from head to toe in colorful paint and carrying large trays filled with delicately balanced shot glasses. If the young captain had realized this is where Uraraka wanted to go, he wouldn’t have been sporting a Starfleet uniform which was attracting unwanted attention. Bodies were constantly brushing up against Midoriya in the packed room. Some were touching him on purpose, groping his triceps and whispering inappropriate things in his ear as they passed. He focused his attention squarely on his drink, keeping his head down and blocking out the noise. Uraraka, on the other hand, seemed to be having a great time, taking shot after shot like it was her last night to live. The staff seemed to like her too, slipping her free drinks and appetizers.

“I mean, I guess? Kacchan is a higher rank than I am… and he has more experience.” Midoriya had to yell to be heard over the bone-rattling music.

“You’re so gloomy, Deku, I thought you had gotten over that!” He appreciated the sentiment, even if it was shouted into his ear at point-blank.

She was practically sitting on top of Midoriya. His face blushed a deep red color from the contact. Did she mean to be this flirtatious? His hand rested on her shoulder awkwardly, gently guiding her tipsy rocking trajectory away from his face. There was a drunk, but familiar and warming smile plastered across her face. Uraraka swayed back towards Midoriya, getting so close that the synthahol fumes singed his nostrils.

“Come dance with me!”

Midoriya was yanked on to the dance floor, nearly tripping over his own feet. He steadied himself and guided Uraraka towards the door. She called him a buzzkill. She was right, he thought. Uraraka was clearly too drunk to find a transporter booth in the city by herself, so Midoriya hailed a cab. A yellow hovercar stopped in front of the pair and Midoriya shepherded Uraraka inside; she giggled as she toppled onto him in the stuffy vehicle.

“Where am I sending us to?” He waited for a response while smiling apologetically at the driver, who looked exhausted and annoyed.

They weren’t the first belligerent young couple of the night and probably wouldn’t be his last. Uraraka mumbled something incoherent and snuggled up against Midoriya’s chest. With a sigh, he gave the driver the address to his temporary housing and wrapped an arm around Uraraka. She was as soft as he remembered. They sat together in silence for about half an hour, with the low hum of the hovercar lulling them into a cozy calm. For the first time in one of the longest days of his life, Midoriya finally had the time to think and soak it all in. The assignment, Bakugo’s ego… and, whatever was happening right now; it was all so overwhelming.

“Do you ever miss this?” a soft voice whispered through Midoriya’s involuntary flinch.

The young woman in his arms shifted and looked up at him with a kind, yet somber smile. Midoriya squeezed Uraraka’s arm gently.

“Of course I do…” He sighed, looking out the window, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can talk about this now.”

Uraraka hummed in response and wrapped her arms around Midoriya’s waist, rousing a squeak in surprise. The driver grumbled something in Telerite as he eyed the pair in his rearview mirror. Midoriya offered another apologetic smile and the driver rolled his deeply-set eyes. The vehicle hummed to a stop outside a tall apartment building. Midoriya looked up at the building in awe, from the ground he couldn’t even see the roof and the whole building shone like a beacon in the night. Starfleet had never housed him in such a nice place before. Uraraka was all dead weight as Midoriya hauled her out of the vehicle, thanking the driver repeatedly as the man dismissed them with a huff. Scooping Uraraka into his arms, Midoriya carried her bridal-style up to the apartment. The room was incredible, larger than his house had been growing up and furnished with extremely up-to-date tech and furniture.

“Ooh~ the Captain’s suite,” Uraraka said with a sing-song voice, kicking her heels off her feet.

There was a gift basket on the kitchen table filled with flowers and a bottle of AldebaranAldeberan Whiskey. Uraraka squirmed out of Midoriya’s arms and grabbed the bottle, holding it above her head like it was a trophy. She giggled something about “the party continuing” and rummaged through the cabinets while Midoriya searched for a card in the gift basket. The glass of whiskey was shoved into his hands and he couldn’t help but grimace at the smell. The stuff was crazy expensive, only meant for special occasions, but Midoriya never liked the taste of synthohol. Uraraka took an experimental sip and hummed with satisfaction before downing her entire glass-like water.

“You must have friends in high places,” She said, pouring herself another full glass.

“Yeah… I’ve been getting that a lot lately…” Midoriya muttered, setting his glass down and reaching over to take Uraraka’s drink away from her. “I think you’ve had enough for one night,… Since when do you drink so much?”

Lucky, she gave up her drink willingly and stumbled towards the bedroom, her fingers brushing against Midoriya’s arm as she passed. The look on Uraraka’s face made his heart skip a beat. Even after years of not seeing each other, she could make him feel like a schoolboy. They had this dynamic ever since they met, Uraraka was kind and unintentionally flirtatious and she would always reduce him to a shy, babbling mess. It took almost a year of knowing each other for him to finally be able to hold a conversation with her. Twiddling his thumbs nervously, Midoriya followed Uraraka to the bedroom. The young woman flung herself on the bed, giggling playfully and patting the space next to her, signaling for Midoriya to lay down next to her. He opted to sit on the very edge of the bed as far away from the intoxicated Uraraka.

“It’s late…” Midoriya mumbled, flinching when Uraraka grabbed his hand and made him cup her cheek.

“You’re too nice, Deku…” she nuzzled against his hand “Come on, tell me what’s on your mind~”

“I… I just don't know if I can handle this kind of pressure. If it was just the Captain’s seat, I’m sure I would be fine, but with Kacchan… You know that we go way back, but we still can’t communicate with each other at all. Now he’s my second-in-command. How can I run a starship smoothly when I know I'm going to have to fight Kacchan about every decision I have to make. I have a week before the debrief to try to talk to him, but I doubt he’ll let me even look at him. It’s impossible to have a relationship with hi-”

“I know what you mean!” Uraraka blurted out, cutting Midoriya off mid-sentence “That man is impossible to have a relationship with. He doesn’t listen. He won't have a meaningful conversation. There was never an “us”, only him.”

“An ‘us’?” Midoriya stammered, he felt like his brain just short-circuited “Did you... date Kacchan?!”

“It was a mistake” she grumbled, letting go of Midoriya’s hand and letting her head fall back onto the pillow “I saw him as a challenge. I mistook his behavior for respect; an acknowledgment of my abilities; my competence, but was like everything else, just another facet of his hangups.” “You were better than Katsuki in almost every way”.

Midoriya grimaced, not wanting to think too deeply into Uraraka’s words. He stood up with a sigh, turning to look back at the first woman he had loved as she drifted off to sleep. Midoriya got a glass of water and quietly placed it on the nightstand, taking a moment to brush some hair out of Uraraka’s face. A small chirp from Midoriya’s communicator broke the silence and he answered it as he left the room, closing the door behind him.

“This is Midoriya”

“I only have a few seconds to talk, but I want to let you know…” a kind voice said “Young man, I am so proud of you”

“All Might” Midoriya’s words wavered as tears collected at the corners of his eyes as a flurry of mixed emotions washed over him “Thank you for everything you've done for me but… but…”

“No buts Young Midoriya,” All Might interjected “I know you have what it takes to be a great Captain you just need a chance to show everyone what you're capable of. Here’s your chance.”

“But All Mig--”

“--I sent you a bottle of Aldebaran Whiskey for a reason. Take this week to settle your nerves. Good luck, Young Midoriya.”

Chapter Text

the-debrief

Midoriya followed All Might’s advice as he let Uraraka drag him around town, bar after bar, night after night, for the rest of the week. The days leading up to the debriefing sped by in a blur of flashing light and sickly-sweet mixed drinks. It was exhausting and uncomfortable, but it successfully got his mind off of Bakugou and the rest of his upcoming challenges. The morning of the debriefing Midoriya woke up with a throbbing headache, dry mouth, and completely-scorched vocal cords. He didn’t fare well from sleeping on the couch. A twinge stabbed right in the small of his back and the sheets had been pulled off of him somehow. Uraraka’s soft snores could be heard from across the apartment in Midoriya’s bedroom, where she had been crashing the entire week.

He tossed two slices of bread into the toaster and tiptoed into his room to found his new red command uniform in the closet. There was a lump in Midoriya’s throat that he couldn’t push down, he never thought he would be wearing red or commanding his own starship. Midoriya couldn’t recognize himself in the mirror. A soft groan pulled him out of his thoughts and he turned to look down at the sleeping woman in his bed. Urarkaka mumbled something in her sleep and Midoriya smiled, they had ended on good terms and were still close friends but there was still a part of him, probably a part of her too, that wondered what could have been. That door was closed. It would be unprofessional to be intimately involved with a subordinate. On his way out the door, he reached for the toaster, only to find it empty. “Figures.” He grabbed his whiskey, practically an extension of his hand at this point, and took a large gulp. It warmed the pit of his stomach and burned his throat. He was ready as he’d ever be.

Midoriya sat rigid in his chair, focusing on the wall opposite of him, not moving a muscle. The Rear-Admiral’s office had interesting decor. There were racy photos on the wall; definitely a violation of Starfleet standards. Bakugou slouched in a chair no more than one meter away. Rear-Admiral Nemuri Kayam gained the nickname, Midnight, within a week of her introduction to Starfleet. No one could pin down the origin, but there were theories. None that could be said in mixed company. Her reputation definitely preceded her, even for an Orion. The Rear-Admiral hadn’t arrived yet and the two men sat alone in the room. The tension was so heavy between them it was almost tangible. Bakugou was visibly annoyed, his leg bouncing up as he fidgeted in impatient frustration. Midoriya felt his red-eyed side-glare scorching a hole in his side. Midoriya felt nauseous.

“You look like shit.”

“Good to see you too…” Midoriya mumbled back. Bakugou’s glare was as harsh as ever, but if anyone could find a way to escalate a scowl past its limit, it was him, and he did.

The door suddenly flung open and Midoriya stiffened in his chair, forcing his face into a calm and collected state. The Rear-Admiral strutted into the office, and Midoriya couldn’t stop himself from staring. A vintage uniform; a red, skin-tight dress; a skirt with too much peeking out and thigh-high black boots that clicked against the ground with each step. Her sweet-smelling perfume filled the room and was so strong it muddied his thoughts. Midnight dropped a large leather chair with a subtle bounce and set down two PADDs on the desk in front of her, sliding them over to Midoriya and Bakugou. Without hesitation, Bakugou scooped up the PADD and began scrolling through the crew manifest.

“I don’t want to waste your time so I’m just going to cut right to the chase” Midnight opened, a smirk seeding at the corner of her lips, “It’s a straightforward mission: there a package at Deep Space Nine. Pick it up and transport it to the science outpost on Kessik IV. They’ll be expecting your arrival within the month.”

The Rear-Admiral tapped Midoriya’s untouched PADD and he picked it up, flashing an abashed smile. Midnight dove into the mission details while he thumbed through the names of his new crew. A few names stood out immediately: Ochako Uraraka, Momo Yaoyorozu, Denki Kaminari; all familiar classmates from the Academy. Midoriyra did his best to familiarize himself with the names and faces as he continued to scroll. This was his crew. His crew. Even with Bakugou in immediate proximity, a giddy smile tugged at the corners of Midoriya’s whiskey-chapped lips. This was really happening. He was actually going to be a starship captain. Midoriya scrolled until he found a particularly-interesting face; his soon-to-be science officer. Pointed ears, a stone-cold expression, and a handsome face with a shock of red and white hair;

“Shoto Todoroki…” He whispered to himself, skimming his credentials.

“What the hell is this!?” Bakugou hissed, tossing the PADD back onto the desk. “Everyone on this list is practically a teenager. Even this science officer is young! -- for a Vulcan.”

“And?” Midnight prodded, testing his temper.

“And!?” Bakugou snapped back. “I-you bette-... This is bullshit! You go back to that PADD right now a-”

“-and bump you back down to Ensign, Mr. Bakugou?” It felt like all of the air in the room was blown out of an airlock. “You are speaking to a superior officer and you will act like it.” Midnight’s presence filled the room; enticing, terrifying, and very hard to read. “Count your blessings kid . These are some of the brightest young recruits I’ve seen in years; several of them handpicked directly from Red Squad. If you’re upset about your current arrangement,” she gestured at Midoriya, who wanted no part in this. “-then you will be in for a very rude awakening. If these students continue to advance at their current pace, then get comfortable with your rank, Commander . You’ll be in it for an extended stay.”

That threw Midoriya back, but not nearly as much as Bakugou’s response: pure and utter silence. He was a crackling pile of rage and embarrassment, but for once, he was at a complete loss for words. A retaliating explosion would do no help for him. With a quirk like hers, the Rear-Admiral could have him out-like-a-light and in a Federation holding cell with the literal flick of a wrist.

“Pick up the package, proceed to your destination, and do the drop.”

Bakugou audibly ground his teeth.

“You are dismissed, officers.”

Midoriya stood up, pivoted towards the exit, and swiftly walked out. Bakugou picked himself up shortly after, muttering through a scowl as he trudged his way towards the open archway.

“Oh, and Commander?” Midnight added as the door whooshed shut, “Try yoga.”

She burst out in a giggling fit as a deafening blast shook the office from behind the door.

Midoriya started down the hallway, stiff as he felt Bakugou’s presence standing the hairs on the back of his neck on-end. The PADD buzzed softly in Midoriya’s hand as he continued to flip through his crew manifest. He took note of the ages. Bakugou had been right, they were all extremely young. The youngest, Tsuyu Asui, was only 18. Save for Bakugou, Midoriya was the oldest human on-board. It was a weird feeling.

“Oi, shitty Deku!” Bakugou’s gruff voice tore Midoriya from his thoughts.

“Y-yes?” He intended for an even tone, but it came out as a squeak.

Just like that, Medoriya was slammed to the ground. Midoriya landed with a painful thud, his head colliding into the wall behind him. He pulled for a breath, but the wind was knocked out of him. It felt like the Borg all over again, but it wasn’t. He was caught by surprise, but he shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t a surprise. Like always, it was Bakugou. His smoking fists were clenched-white as he loomed over Midoriya with a feral, bare-toothed death glare. One for All could swat him away like a fly, but Midoriya knew he couldn’t bring himself to make a move. After all of these years, nothing had changed; One for All aside, Bakugou still had all of the power. Midoriya put his hands up defensively.

“Don’t think for one second that I’m going to respect you just because you're the Captain .” Bakugou seethed, it was clear that getting word “captain” out of his mouth caused him physical pain. “The moment you slip up, I’m dragging your ass out of that chair. I’m better than you in every way, never forget that.”

The second-in-command was shaking with rage, but Midoriya could see frustrated tears at the corners of his eyes. He opened his mouth to say something but Bakugou was already turning the corner down the hallway, palms cracking and popping along the way.

-----------------------------

The Starship Yuuei: a fresh-off-the-line intrepid class starship. Midoriya couldn’t keep himself from nerding out over every tiny detail of the starship. His starship. Slick, clean, shining metal. He ran his fingers lightly over the walls as he made his way down the hallway, his head so deep in thought that he ran right into another person, nearly knocking them over. Midoriya stumbled backward as two large hands grabbed and steadied him. One warm. The other; ice cold.

“I-I’m so sorry!” Midoriya yelped, staring at the blue uniform before scanning up to the expressionless face looking down at Todoroki’s face.

“While walking, your gaze was fixated on the walls, Captain” Todoroki stated in monotone. “I recommend narrowing your line-of-sight down the hallway or to the floor to detect obstacles. This should mitigate further incidents.” He placed his hand on Midoriya’s shoulder and goosebumps shot up his arm. “A Vulcan, showing me compassion?” He thought, incredulously.

Todoroki’s hand scooted Midoriya off-to-the-side by his shoulder and continued down the hallway. “A Vulcan.” Midoriya sighed, “showing me compassion... I guess it was too good to be true.”

When Todoroki disappeared into the turbolift, the captain clutched his chest, trying to calm his heart and remember how to breathe. Midoriya stayed frozen until he heard the turbolift open again, then continued towards the bridge. Settling his nerves and focusing on his breaths, he walked onto the bridge for the very first time.

The circular room of the bridge was breathtaking: the walls lined with glowing computer stations that chirped and beeped quietly, floors covered in a dark grey material with blue lights illuminating the pathways through each station. There were two dark leather chairs in the center of the bridge, one slightly larger than the other. This was his .

“Captain on the bridge” a voice called out, prompting a uniformed rise, turn, and solute from the dozen or so officers in the room.

Impressive, but overwhelming. The voice came from a short woman with bright pink skin, golden eyes with black scleras, and two small horns. Midoriya instantly recognized her from the manifest as Ensign Mina Ashido, his new helmsman. His stomach twisted into knots as he scanned the rest of his bridge crew: Koji Koda the Communications Officer, Fumikage Tokoyami the Flight Controller, Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu his Tactical Officer, and Mezo Shoji his Navigator. For better or worse, he had met his science officer and third-in-command, Shoto Todoroki, in the hallway. Midoriya waved his hand to dismiss the other crew members and they all sat down at their posts as he made his way to the captain’s chair. Todoroki arrived on the bridge shortly after Midoriya sat down... Then came Commander Bakugou, his face twisted into its usual scowl. The short-fused firecracker dropped into the chair next to the captain, muttering an inaudible, resentful greeting as he familiarized himself with the controls around him.

“All stations check-in” Midoriya commanded, adjusting himself in his chair to sit up straight.

Each crewman reported their status; all readings were normal and ready to go. Midoriya pushed a small button on his control panel to contact engineering. His former classmate, Momo Yaoyorozu, was the chief engineer. He couldn't have been more excited to have her on his ship. She had finished first in their class at the academy and went on to study under master ship-designer, the Geordi La Forge, in-the-flesh immediately after graduation. Yaoyorozu was extremely-intelligent, her credentials were nothing short of exceptional, and her versatile quirk made her an invaluable asset to have. Midoriya was surprised that she wasn't the one in the captain's chair.

“We’re ready to go when you are, Captain,” Yaoyourzu’s voice sounded over the intercom. Midoriya face lit up, he couldn’t contain the excitement.

“Alright crew, it’s time to go beyond!” Midoriya beamed and Bakugou rolled his eyes “Tokoyami, smash it!”

“Smash it, captain?” Tokoyami inquired

“Y-yes Commander… um.. engage?”

“Yes sir!”

Midoriya, hands clamped to his armrests, held back a giggle as space stretched around the ship like a warping sheet of starlight. And like the crack of a cosmic whip, they were off, and on their way to DS9.

Chapter Text

chapter-5

It was a ten-day cruise to Deep Space 9, but Medoriya wanted to pace himself with a two-day layover before proceeding to the Kessik IV drop-point. Much to his surprise, everything had been running smoothly. Bakugou hadn’t made too much of a fuss the entire trip, save for his usual shoves, glares, and grunts, and he hadn’t questioned any of the captain’s decisions so far. Midoriya kept his guard up anyway. The first bridge crew’s meeting had gone relatively-well, although Bakugou had been absent for the last half of it. Midoriya had the chance to meet most of his crew, wander the corridors of his starship, and familiarize himself with all the various stations on-board. He tracked-down their two holodecks and had time to test out some of its pre-installed programs. When the Yuuei docked, Midoriya gave the crew ample time to enjoy the amenities while the package was carefully loaded on to their ship. Despite the recent disappearance of their station captain, Benjamin Sisko, to a cryptically-reported quirk/wormhole “incident”, Midoriya met several of the crew members, who seemed to be taking the loss surprisingly-well. Some rumored that he was alive, in some manner of speaking, and the mood on the station seemed to reflect that. Midoriya wandered through the Promenade, watching children run through the catwalks, his ensigns absorbing Bajoran cultural experiences, and Yaoyorozu socializing in a Ferengi-owned bar.

“I know it’s a big change for you two, I’m so glad you accepted the position!” Yaoyorozu shouted over the sound of the Dabo tables to be heard.

Denki Kaminari sat across from her at a cramped table in Quark’s bar. His partner, Hanta Sero, sat next to him with a strained smile. It had taken a lot of convincing for Sero to agree to leave his home at DS9 and move with Kaminari to the Yuuei. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of living on a starship. Sero wasn’t even sure how his partner had managed to get the job offer in the first place. Kaminari had barely made it into Starfleet academy, but quickly befriended Yaoyorozu, who had been kind enough to tutor him almost every single day. She had originally been drawn to him because of his quirk, but after a short time, a strong friendship blossomed. Yaoyorozu had pulled a lot of strings to get Kaminari a position onboard the Yuuei. It was a point of extreme gratitude with a creeping burden of inadequacy. He didn't deserve to be there, but he was, and for what lacked in intellectual ability, he made up for in a rugged determination..

“You know I couldn’t turn this down, not after everything you did to get me the position. I owe you big time, Momo!” Kaminari had a goofy grin on his face; he had wanted to be an engineer for years but mathematics had never been his strong suit.

A oddly-short, Ferengi with large, dark spherical lumps covering his scalp approached the table with a plate of watered-down drinks, creeping a poorly-hidden peek at Yaoyorozu, who responded with a glare.

"I can't believe I'm losing two of my best customers!" He whined in a poor attempt at flattery. "A slip of gold-pressed latinum? For old-times sake?"

Yaoyorozu left the table and visited Dabo tables while her friends continued to chat amongst themselves. TetsuTetsu passed by unnoticed by his new crewmates as he made his way to the bar where a light-purple-haired man with a drained face sat alone, calmly nursing a Raktajino. He placed his muscular arm over the other man’s shoulders with a metallic clank, causing him to jump in surprise.

“Hitoshi Shinsou, how’s it going, man? It’s been too long!” TetsuTestsu shouted into the man’s ear.

“Not long enough” Shinsou coyly-grumbled in response, shrugging the arm off his shoulder while suppressing the small smile that tugged at the corners of his lips.

The Tactical officer has a huge grin on his face, his sharp shark-like teeth on full display. His body was a mountain of muscle coated in an iron-hard sheath of metallic skin. His gold uniform was tight around his biceps and thighs, threatening to rip at any moment. Shinsou, a field medic, had met Tetsu on-station during the Dominion conflict. Trying to stay afloat in a flood of Bajoran and Klingon casualties, Shinsou found comfort in Tetsu; who returned from missions in immaculate condition. No scratches, no punctures; the perfect patient.

“I’m surprised you’re still stationed here, Hitoshi, I thought you wanted to chase the action” Tetsu laughed, roughly patting Shinsou on the back and dropping onto a stool next to him.

“You’re thinking of yourself… besides I’m being transferred today.”

“Really? Finally gonna settle down on a planet?” TetsuTestsu probed, flagging down the bartender for another drink.

The last time the two men saw each other it was pure chaos. TetsuTetsu had done his best to ground Shinsou, who struggled to keep himself together under the pressure. The medic had sworn he would leave Starfleet as soon as the conflict was over and retire to a life of reassuring predictability. He was surprised Tetsu had remembered that.

“No… A starship” Shinsou responded, pausing to take a large swig of his drink. “What about you? Back to the front lines?”

“No, actually…” TetsuTetsu smirked, resting his cheek in his hand and leaning closer to his old friend, “A starship.”

Shinsou raised his eyebrows and glanced back at the man in his bubble. He kept a straight face but was cheering on the inside. It had been about a year since the two had worked together. Due to the nature of his quirk, Shinsou had a difficult time maintaining relationships. Most kept their guard up around him, keeping interaction to a minimum; driven by an unwarranted fear of paralysis, brainwashing, and the other rumors surrounding Shinsou. TetsuTetsu had been the exception. He had actually gone out of his way to talk to Shinsou regularly when they were stationed together.

“So I’m going to be stuck with you again?” Shinsou groaned a tug-of-war between apathy and endearment pulling him in both directions. “What a pain.”

TetsuTetsu burst into a hearty laugh, pulling Shinsou into a tight side-hug as he loudly demanded a round for everyone in the bar. The patrons erupted in cheers that echoed through the Promenade.

The two-day layover at Deep Space 9 flew by. Before they knew it, the Yuuei was loaded with its cargo, new crew members, and was ready to proceed to the Kessik IV. Midoriya felt confident that the trip to Kessik IV would run smoothly. Five days into the journey he was relaxed in his captain's chair, sipping on a warm cup of coffee as he gazed out at the endless stars on the viewscreen. His armrest was unusually warm, it was a soothing sensation. Commander Bakugou was slouched in his own chair, tapping his fingers impatiently against the side of his leg, going stir crazy. Midoriya reached for his coffee. The cup was empty. "Odd..." He needed to pace himself.

“Why are we at warp 6?” Bakugou complained, shooting Midoriya a look “We have a 9.97 limit, but you're dragging our feet.”

“There’s no reason to rush this mission.” Todoroki stated, not bothering to look at the commander “We are estimated to arrive within the time allotted; when the Kessik delegation expects us, I might add.”

“This isn’t a goddamn leisure cruise” Bakugou snapped, craning his neck to look at the Vulcan behind him, “You're wasting our time; my time!”

“Maintaining maximum warp for an extended duration would put an unnecessary strain on the warp core, Commander.”

“This is a brand new ship! It can handle it.”

“It would be illogical to go change our mission parameters only to satisfy for impatience”

“What the fuck did you say, you pointy-eared bastard?”

Todoroki and Bakugou continued to go on like siblings in a backseat argument, the commander’s explosive insults didn’t phase the Vulcan officer. The bridge crew did their best to focus on their stations. None of them were used to their superior officers having such an open confrontation; a strategic debate to Todoroki; a battle of principle to Bakugou. They expected the Captain to shut down the argument immediately, but Midoriya’s weak pleas to ‘calm down’ were a fly on the windshield. Bakugou had made it clear through his actions that Midoriya’s rank meant nothing, which pushed Todoroki. Although he’d never show it, a small seed of suppressed frustration almost rose to his surface. The workload of orienting a new crew had prevented him from meditating for days. A scheduling adjustment would suffice. The Vulcan wasn’t sure what to make of the young Captain, he found it odd that Starfleet had select such a skittish man, but it wasn’t his place to cast judgment. Todoroki also questioned the decision to assign Bakugou to the same ship as Midoriya. Their records revealed a clear pattern of conflict and an extensive, rocky history. He guessed that Starfleet intended this to be a learning experience for Midoriya, who seemed to lose all confidence when it came to his second-in-command.

It was not logical. Not in the slightest.

Across the room, one of Shoji's tentacles formed a mouth. As the Lieutenant kept his eyes intently focused on the viewscreen, the spontaneously-formed mouth pointed itself towards Midoriya.

“Captain, I'm-I.. don't know exactly what I'm seeing..I'm getting extremely strange readings.. directly starboard!.”

“Mr. Todoroki" Midoriya replied, "can you determine its makeup? Its origin??” Midoriya's demeanor changed from relaxed to on alert.

Todoroki turned his attention back to his station as the command hissed another insult under his breath.

The Vulcan paused before answering. “I’m not sure what it is, Captain… It’s a completely uncatalogued anomaly.”

“Tokoyami, drop us out of warp. Let's put some space between us and that..thing. I want to be cautious.”

“Aye Captain.”

The indicators on Todoroki’s station flared into a fritz of flashes and comm chirps as a shockwave rattled the starship, nearly knocking Midoriya from his seat.

“What the hell was that?” Bakugou hissed, more irritated than concerned.

“Captain, the anomaly is advancing towards us!” Shoji announced, his voice laced with worry.

“Evasive maneuvers! Tokoyami, get us out of here! Warp 9.75!” Midoriya shouted as another shockwave shook the ship.

“The helm is unresponsive, Captain!”

“Red alert! Yaoyorozu--”

“--That last hit rattled the warp core! We’re working to get it back online. All I can give you is impulse.”

Midoriya cursed through gritted teeth as he broke into a cold sweat Up against an unknown threat, a swift that would be their best option. There wasn’t time to think.

“Captain I have visual!” Helmsman Ashido exclaimed

“On screen, Helmsman.”

It was huge; like a massive tear in space, spanning at least 10 AU, and… something was emerging from it. A writhing swarm, thousands of black and red-striped tentacles, dozens of kilometers in length, were protruding out of the anomaly, approaching through the vacuum of space at a blistering speed. Midoriya froze, his stomach twisting into knots as he stared at the entity through the viewscreen. One tentacle shot out ahead of the rest, slamming the hull and sending another shockwave through the decks. Bakugou leaped up from his chair, hands balled into tight, smoking fists.

“Ready the photon torpedoes!” the commander yelled, stepping forward with his eyes locked on the view screen.

“It is not your place to make commands” Todoroki responded, mild irritation slipping into his words despite his efforts.

“We’re not in any position to fight this thing. We don’t know if torpedoes will even work on it.” Midoriya argued “Yaoyorozu, status!”

Bakugou whipped around and grabbed Midoriya by the collar."We can't run. The warp core is shot you idiot! Now grow a pair and strike first!”

Todoroki leaped into action, seizing and cranking the commander’s wrist until it released Midoriya’s collar. Bakugou threw a fist at the Vulcan’s face, but he dodged it easily, grabbing his other wrist. Ice erupted from Todoroki’s right hand, covering Bakugou’s forearms and freezing his hands together. Bakugou shot away and cranked back, looking like the pulled-back hammer of a gun, ready to knock out the whole room in one devastating burst... But he stopped, doubled over in frustration, and let out a blood-curdling yell. On the ground, Bakugou’s quirk was incredible; he was unbeatable. Here, trapped in an air-tight tin-can, thousands of years from civilization at sub-light speed, an explosion would put the mission, along with the lives of all its participants, to an abrupt end.

Midoriya took a deep, shaky breath. The walls were closing in. There wasn’t enough air in the room. The deafening, rhythmic thud of Midoriya’s heart grew until it overtook every other stimulus in the room. He was in a cold sweat. His racing, muttering thoughts were usually organized. Focused. Manageable. Now, they were a disordered pile-up of fear and doubt. Attack or retreat? Run or fight?

“Permission to escort the commander to the brig, Captain” Todoroki’s even words brought Midoriya back to reality

“No!...-I mean- no need, commander. He can stay.”

“But Captai-”

“It’s okay, Mr. Todoroki.” Despite the years of emotional terrorizing, Bakugou was the only person on the bridge with first-hand experience. Midoriya couldn’t afford to lose him; not now.

Louder than he intended, the captain barked, “TetsuTetsu, arm the torpedoes and fire on my command”

“Torpedoes not responding, Captain!”

“Phasers?”

Before the tactical officer could respond, the anomaly was on top of them, engulfing the ship in its tentacles, pulling it into the black abyss. Warnings blasted throughout the ship. A large crack crept across the viewscreen, branching out as the entity drew them in.

“Warning: structural integrity compromised. Hull breach imminent in 39..38..37...”

“Raise shields!” Midoriya commanded desperately

“Nothing is responding, Captain!”

“22..21..20..”

“Yaoyorozu, I need shields!” he strained to keep his voice steady. The crew was young, inexperienced, and in a panic. He was the captain. It was time to step up.

“Pussy! We need weapons!” Bakugou growled, struggling to break out of Todoroki’s ice.

Down in engineering, everything was chaos. A cascade of power failures and blown-relays followed every shockwave. Stations panels exploded through the corridors, igniting fires and sending shrapnel flying everywhere. Despite her best effort, Yaoyorozu was fighting a losing battle. Her quirk compensated for the busted replicator, but the demand for replacement parts put too much strain on her. Kaminari carried her from station-to-station, where she squeezed every last ounce of energy she had into repairs. She was on the verge of passing out when the captain demanded shields. Kaminari wasn't fairing much better, jump-starting circuits left-and-right took its toll, his eyes started to glaze over as a wave of pleasant-delirium began to overtake his last coherent thoughts.

“Yaoyorozu can only give you one!” He forced out of his mouth with as much focus as he could muster. “Weapons? Shields?” Both stations were badly damaged and they were running out of time.

The captain and commander yelled at the same time, in a jumble of conflicting commands.

“Shiel../Weapons!”

Kaminari barely sifted out the captain’s voice. “Aye Sir!” Kaminari shouted, dragging Yaoyorozu the shield controls and helping her pry it open.

The brain-fried officer watched the chief engineer nervously, wishing he could be more helpful. Deafening alarms filled every corner of the room, muffling the moans of injured crew members. The scent of burning flesh clouded his mind even further. He could feel panic rise through his body… or maybe it was vomit. Kaminari wondered how the half-conscious chief engineer could stay so calm and collected; maybe she just didn't have time to worry. Yaoyorozu got the shields back online with astounding speed, but the ship was still immobile; half-way through the dark abyss they had avoided being crushed, if that was a bright side. Kaminari tugged Yaoyorozu to the weapons system, setting her down gently in front of the access panel. There was smoke leaking out of the edges of the metal plate and it was hot to the touch. There must have been a plasma leak on the other side, accessing it wasn’t an option.

“We need weapons!” Bakugou’s voice sounded over the intercom.

“We… we can't...” Kaminari replied, looking around for another option.

His eyes met with Yaoyorozu’s. he could tell from her expression that she had an idea.

“Captain..,” She exhaled into the comm. “If we use a focused burst from Kaminari’s quirk... we can spike the warp core-- reverse -- shield polarity --give the entity a good jolt... ..and slip free while it’s confused..”

The ship slipped past the wall of darkness, jutting out of the other side of the tear. “Do it!”

The lights surged as Kaminari’s electricity hit the grid, blowing fuses and running a charge through the bulkheads. Midoriya could feel the crisp, ionized air as his hair tingled and stood on end. He had no idea Kaminari was so powerful. In addition to lights, replicators, and control panels, even unconnected PADDs, communicators, and tricorders fried throughout the ship. The captain looked at the viewscreen in awe as the shield bubble buzzed to a warm, fluid glow. Occasional bolts creeping their way across, like an aurora and thunderstorm wrapped into one, magnificent package. The tentacles became seized violently as it’s hold of the starship faltered. Sections of the long tendrils popped in and out of their places in instantaneous, unpredictable flashes; almost a glitch-like movement..

“I’ve regained helm control!” Tokoyami announced as soon as the ship slipped from the entity’s grasp.

“Full reverse!” Midoriya commanded “we have to go back through the tear before-”

“-It’s gone…” Shoji responded, staring down at his viewscreen in a speechless shock “The tear is gone…”

Midoriya heart dropped. The room was silent. Please, not this... His hands kneaded into each other to suppress his shakes. Not now... Things could be fine. This could all be a misunderstanding; a short-distance jump, a simple peak in-and-out of an event horizon, but if it wasn’t... Tears welled up in Midoriya’s eyes. I thought I was past this... They're looking to me... Captains don’t cry. He drew in a deep, shaky breath, held it in as he pushed the panic down, and let the breath out as the room cleared and his focused returned.

“Shoji... figure out our location.”

Staring at her screen with wide eyes, Mina replied in a gasp, “Captain… the stars are gone”

“On… on screen…”

She was right. Midoriya looked up at the main viewer; nothing.

After a pause, the Captain stood out of his chair and centered himself.

“Lieutenant Shoji, please investigate our location. Lieutenant Koda, please contact Doctor Shinsou to treat the injuries in engineering and activate the Emergency Medical Hologram. Everyone else…” Midoriya needed time to determine next steps, “take five.”

“Permission to confine the first officer to his quarters, Captain?” Todoroki proposed, hand still on Bakugou; ice creeping past his elbows and he was visibly trembling.

“Um.. not yet. I can see frostbite taking his entire hand, please escort him to sickbay and find a dermal regenerator.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Midoriya exited the bridge in a fast walk-turned-sprint as soon as the turbolift doors closed behind him. After a short walk to his quarters, he slipped past the archway, impatiently bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet as the doors closed behind him, taking longer than usual.

“Computer, restrict external door access and insulate sound from leaving the room for the next five minutes.”

The door locked with a click and Midoriya flopped face-down on his mattress, letting out a choking sob. He felt weak, childish, and incompetent. This was a straightforward mission. If anyone could ruin it, it was him. It was all going to hell. Bakugou was right.

Midoriya removed his com badge and placed it on his nightstand before curled tightly into his bedsheet. His puffy, bloodshot eyes grew heavy and eventually eased closed. He drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

 

chapter-6

Midoriya let out a stretching groan as he pulled himself out of a groggy stupor. The door chirped as he blindly fiddled around the nightstand, eyes still closed, trying to locate his combadge. He flopped his hand back to remove his bed-sheet cocoon but found it bunched up on the opposite corner of the bed. The cold air roused a wave of goosebumps to float over the surface of his skin. The door chirped again. It had been chirping for some time now, Midoriya inferred. 

“Captain, your door is locked and you have not responded to my several attempts to contact you. Do you require assistance?” Todoroki’s voice could be heard through the door.

Midoriya tried to hop up, falling out of the bed, a yelp and a loud thud. 

“Computer open door: Authorization Shoto 587!” 

“Whoa, Whoa, wait Todoroki!”

The door whooshed open and the Vulcan stepped inside, scanning for Midoriya at eye level before glancing down. Butt in the air, legs still hugging the side of the bed, and torso splayed across the floor. The captain flushed a deep-scarlet as Todoroki cocked an eyebrow at the sight. 

“Do you require assistance, Captain?” he repeated, taking a step towards him.

“No!.. no… I’m fine” Midoriya groaned, letting the rest of his body fall to join him on the floor before propping himself up and straightening his uniform. 

“Your presence is required on the bridge.”

“R-right, I’ll be right there…”

Midoriya rummaged for his combadge, which had somehow made its way under a stack of books.

He was greeted on the bridge by a condensed diagram of the long-range scanner’s findings displayed on the viewscreen. 

“Have you determined our location, Shoji?”

“That’s a work in progress, Captain. We’ve detected stars in several directions, but none of them correspond to any of our records. And to starboard, there’s still nothing in sight at all.”

Midoriya clenched his jaw.


“-and, that’s not all, Captain,” Shoji added, searching for words. “This place... It’s -- I don’t understand how-- but it’s a junkyard...a cemetery... There are ships littering space as far as our scanners can detect.”

Midoriya centered himself. There was hope. “Mr. Koda, hail them.”

“There’s no point Captain, none of them show any life signs.” Todoroki stated, taking the initiative to scan their surroundings “We appear to be trapped within the anomaly.” 

He bit his lip. What was this place? This wasn’t a junkyard; it was lightyears across- probably larger, and that wasn’t the oddest part... The ships, however they had gotten there, came in an endless variety of classes, cultures, and time-periods; many of them familiar. Klingon birds-of-prey.. extremely-aged Vulcan cruisers.. even Jem-Hadar and Kazon vessels from the Gamma and Delta quadrants. Some flickered ominously in the darkness. None of them appeared to be operational. Nearby, a mass of clutter and lost craft orbited a small red planet, forming a ring. 

A blip showed up on the scanner.

“Captain… I’m actually picking up a distress signal from the planet’s surface” Koda reported, pulling the image upon the viewscreen.

Midoriya swallowed thickly, hesitant to sink the crew deeper into this unfolding disaster.

“I guess we have no choice,” he muttered to himself, clearing his throat and straightening his posture

“TetsuTetsu, you're with me. Todoroki, you have the bridge” Midoriya tapped his combadge “Uraraka, meet me in the transporter room. We're going to the surface.”

They beamed down on the red planet in heavy environmental suits. It was a class-R world; no atmosphere, no water, no heat or light; completely inhospitable. It was a bone-chilling minus 243 degrees C, freezer burning the surface of the away team’s skin through the suits. Red minerals jutted out of the ground like jagged, razor-sharp stalagmites; one wrong move could slice through an O2 line if they didn’t keep their distance. Puddles of liquid-Helium sublimated behind them as their boots left sizzling footprints; Midoriya’s hopes of finding a living person here dwindled with each crackling step. He looked down at his tricorder, following the distress signal through the wasteland. The junkyard wasn’t limited to the orbital ring. As they closed in on the signal, more and more shipwrecks appeared in their path.  TetsuTetsu stopped abruptly and a distracted Midoriya rammed into his back, groaning they collided with a metallic clank. Uraraka gasped at the sight before them: a Federation starship. It was impaled on the crimson spikes, at a crooked angle, and the metal hull frosted over and coated in a thick layer of crimson dust. The ship’s identification number was impossible to read. It must have been here for decades… Maybe longer, Midoriya pondered. The distress signal was coming from inside. 

“Scan for life signs” Midoriya mumbled in awe, unable to tear his gaze away from the ship.

Uraraka looked up from her Tricorder, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I’m… I’m not picking up any lifesi-” 

“-Wait… do you hear that?” TetsuTetsu whispered before taking a few steps forward. 

A muffled noise was coming from the ship. Like a voice, barely audible and… music? Before Midoriya could react, TetsuTetsu charged into the ship through a breach in the hull. Uraraka pulled out her phaser and ran in after him, not waiting for instructions and leaving Midoriya trailing behind them. When he ducked under the frostbitten metal opening, the officers’ footsteps echoed ominously through the dark halls of the ship. Cables hung loosely from open panels in the walls. Dust and rock had been tracked inside, evidence that someone else had been here. The away team weaved through the maze-like corridors, following the soft noise until they arrived at the bridge an eerie light was flickering from inside. The door was ripped from its track and a huge spike tore the floor. Ruby colored pebbles evenly dusted floor.  A broken hologram weakly projected into the center of the room, its image sputtering and degrading to gibberish. TetsuTetsu entered the room first, his feet crunching red pebbles as he made his way towards the hologram. A subtle movement caught Midoriya’s eye. 

“TetsuTetsu!” The captain called out, as the pebbles shifted towards him.

It all happened in an instant. The red pebbles surrounded and coated the tactical officer, encasing both feet in a thick layer of mineral and proceeding up his body. Tetsu cried out, immobilized as the rock hardened into a shell around his body, climbing higher and higher until only his head poked out. His eyes were wide, staring at Midoriya and Uraraka with desperation as his stone prison locked his lungs from expanding. With a frantic wheeze escaping his lungs, he was gone; encased in that material.  A fracture appeared over Tetsutesu’s mouth and the stone pushed inwards, breaking though his helmet as the stone forced its way into his mouth. The material melted into one another, creating a perfectly smooth statue. 

With a crackle of green bolts, Midoriya burst forward in Full Cowling. Uraraka’s warning to be careful fell on deaf ears. I won't let him down. Midoriya whipped around and poured everything he had into one, solid kick. ‘I have to break through. I have to save him!’ Right before contact, the red statue shifted, raising an arm up to block Midoriya’s kick. The blow landed on its forearm, triggering a string of fractures to ripple over its surface. Tetsutetsu's face peeked through the cracks. The captain clenched his fist, electricity encompassing the limb as he sent a punch towards the statue's chest. Its other arm shot up, and Midoriya’s fist landed into its open palm, sending another ripple of cracks through its body. The hand snapped closed around the captain's fist, its jagged surface puncturing his suit and digging painfully into his skin. He could feel the stone growing around his wrist. In a panic, Midoriya leaped back, and the statue mirrored his movement, bounding forward. 

The jerk sent more cracking shockwaves through the surface, giving space for Tetsutetsu’s leg to break free. Midoriya ripped the stone arm back, de-shelling a gasping Tetsutetsu. The freed tactical officer grasped his throat as he fell to his knees, eyes rolling back into his head. Uraraka ran to TetsuTetsu’s side, slapping a respiratory regulator over his mouth. A small forcefield buzzed online, enveloping his head with a pocket of pressurized O2. The tactical officer's wheezing slowly evened out. His eyes were filled with burst capillaries and he was visibly shaken. A medical tricorder chirped as Uraraka confirmed her hopes; no permanent damage.

With the reassurance that his officer was unharmed, Midoriya turned back to the creature in front of him, now an empty broken shell. His breath hitched as he watched it transform; the fractures were sealing themselves. The stone shifted in color, transitioning from red to a color matching Midoriya’s skin tone. It slowly crept from head-to-toe, easing to a halt at the top of its head. Divots settled where eyes would be, forming red eyes that moved independently from one another with little coordination until they settled on Midoriya. It’s lower jaw twitched, the corners of its mouth fractured up to the base of its ears. The stone ground against itself as the jaw opened and closed experimentally.

“Ma… Ma...” it tried to speak, its voice was raspy and dry. 

‘Mama?’ Midoriya stiffened up. staring uncomfortably at the creature quickly refined into a humanoid form. 

“Ma… Man... what a manly move!” its mouth twisted into a wide grin.

The cracks and rough edges had smoothed out except for a small fracture above its right eye. Jagged red spikes protruded from the top of its head, mimicking hair. The creature had managed to copy every inch of TetsuTetsu, from his thick muscles to his sharp teeth, to… other details. Uraraka averted her eyes from the naked creature. It released Midoriya’s arm and raised its hands to its face, wiggling the newly-formed fingers. The fingers curled into fists in a gravelly, grinding motion... The frigid cold seeped into Midoriya’s suit through the tears the alien had made. His skin frosted over as the cold stabbed into his arm with excruciating stings, followed by numbness to-the-bone. He slapped his hand over the openings and squeezed down tightly, trying his best to seal them off. 

“Dude you just, like, bolted in to save your friend!” the creature continued with animated gestures,“-- the way you hit me and it was just like; crack! --and how you-” he pointed at Uraraka “--just leaped into action too! You both jumped in with full determination! That was amazing! So macho... so manly!” 

The away team was frozen in stunned silence, watching the newly-formed creature ramble on. Uraraka stealthily turned her tricorder towards the alien, lightly chirping as it scanned. He winced as if he could feel the scan penetrating his surface and turned towards the woman, eyes wide with curiosity. 

“What’s that! ?” he asked with a gasp, skipping over to the science officer with childlike giddiness. 

Midoriya’s combadge chirped.

“Midoriya here.”

“Captain, have you located the source of the distress signal?” Todoroki inquired.

The captain scanned the run-down bridge and spotted the flickering light on the captain’s armrest panel. He made his way over to it and switched it off.

“I did,” he responded with a sigh.

“Did you find any lifeforms?”

Midoriya glanced back at the alien interacting with his crewmates. He dragged Uraraka back to the bridge, where the barely functional holonovel played. The captain recognized it;

-- The original Crimson Riot holonovels.

Midoriya chuckled. Transporting himself back to the countless Saturday mornings he spent as a child watching the show, which premiered shortly before he had been born. Uraraka and TetsuTetsu beamed and clapped as the alien precisely-mimicked every detail of the program, swelling in excitement from his first live audience. He didn’t appear to be a threat anymore.

“...Yes Lieutenant, We did.” 

“Then it would be best if you returned to the beam-down point. We cannot get a lock on you in your current position. You are needed on-board as soon as possible. There have been...developments…”

“Alright, Midoriya out.” 

The captain turned back to his crewmates. TetsuTetsu and the alien were having an arm-wrestling contest while Uraraka was fiddling with a cracked viewscreen. Midoriya made his way over to his junior-science officer, hand still clamped around his frozen wrist. The numbness had distracted him from the deep frostbite

“I’m trying to see if I can salvage the ship’s logs” Uraraka explained when she felt his presence. She was too engrossed to look up from the screen. 

“The whole ship is dead, Uraraka… We have to go”

 Uraraka was visibly frustrated, but she stood up to follow Midoriya. 

“What about the alien?” She whispered, “We can’t leave it-- him here…”

Midoriya bit his bottom lip. 

“I don’t see an immediate threat… We’ll bring him on board but under close watch. He’s taken a liking to Tetsutetsu. I’ll let him know to act as our new friend’s handler until further notice.”

She beamed up at Midoriya, her smile made his heart skip a beat  “Aye, Captain,”

Chapter Text

Is it on?

“Yea! Now say your intro, the way we talked about.”

Okay. Personal log: Stardate.. Today. Name… uh… undetermined?

“Just jump into it."

Sure.. well, I can’t describe the beginning, at least not in meaningful terms. Warmth, shifting, a general state of being; no language, organized senses, or scaffolding to sift out meaning. Kind of like a mind-soup.

I may have been born, or formed, at any rate, in the last week.. or the last several thousand years; I have no way of knowing. The first phase of my life lasted for an undeterminable stretch of time, and it suddenly ended, or began. Does that make sense?

“Keep going bro, it’s recording.”

Okay. Well, one moment, things were the way they had always been, and the next moment, there was a shock; a loud pound and an extreme sensation of pressure.

“That’s when the ship hit you?”

I was getting to that… but yeah, that’s when the ship hit me.

For the first time, I felt heat, perceived light, guided my way through the nooks and crannies in the metal until I was in a darker, calmer place. I felt my way around until... I must have flipped a switch because I was hit by a cool, moving that glowed across my surface; accompanied by a muffled sound that I couldn’t have possibly understood, but filled me with excitement.

It drew me in. I studied it, passively absorbing it on-a-loop over weeks-turned-years, as the stimuli gained more and more clarity, more structure. Some were softer, duller, less energetic, but others… oh man! They were booming, sharp, the flashes and sounds hit me like a pounding massage or a kick-ass drum solo, you know?

“Was it the Crimson Riot holono-“

It was the Crimson Riot holonovel! It was exciting and, how can I describe it.. it was so... so…

“Manly?”

Exactly!

It’s all I knew. It was all I needed to know. Vocabulary, grammar, syntax, it was all there. I may not be the brightest.. rock.. or.. mayb-

“Reel it back in, bro.”

At any rate, I’m not the brightest guy around, but I had years to learn. A decade or two in, I had everything I needed, or, well, at least I thought.

I was lonely, and, even though I didn’t understand it at the time, I had no organized bodily form. I couldn’t wrap my hea-.. my mind around things like arms, legs, fists, that whole kind of thing. I wanted to embody my hero, but it just wasn’t coming together for me.” And then you came along.

“This is my favorite part.”

There I am, hanging out, when these squishy, Crimson Riot-like.. things... hobble into my bachelor-pad, scuffing my floor and shifting my things. I had no idea what was going on until one of them stepped in me.

“You owe me a pair of shoes.”

This is important man! At that moment.. it all came together. The language, the movement, the badass, ass-kicking, manly stuff that was roaring to get out; it all clicked. I didn’t know I was waiting for a physical form; I didn’t know I could take one, but I did.

“And a handsome one at that.”

Haha, ass. But yea, there are a lot of similarities, the copy was pretty close. And.. yeah man, that’s most of it. You know where things go from there. I’m glad you guys found me.

“Same here bro.”

Thanks Tetsu. Now are you going to teach me how to lift or not?

“Get out of my head! You know it, bro!”

Chapter Text

Lieutenant Rikido Sato, Doctor Shinsou, and Transporter Chief, Mashirao Ojiro, greeted the away-team when they materialized on the Yuuei. The doctor’s face briefly recoiled at the sight of TetsuTetsu’s bloodshot eyes and frost-burnt cheeks. The rock alien gandered the room in awe as the away-team shucked their environmental gear and Midoriya nursed his dying arm. The numbness that had pervaded the entire limb was replaced by a piercing, burning sting as it thawed. Midoriya gritted his teeth; He didn’t have time to be in pain, he was needed on the bridge. Shinsou tended to TetsuTetsu and Uraraka called after Midoriya as he left the room. 

“Status report.” The captain called as soon as he stepped out of the turbolift.

“Captain,” Todoroki began “our astrometric scans have confirmed my suspicions, our surroundings are bare no resemblance to any recorded federation star charts or our extrapolations of what may lay beyond their limits-”

Bakugou snarled, “Cut to the fucking chase! We’re not in our quadrant, we’re not in our galaxy, we’re not even in part of the goddamned observable universe!”

A wave of nausea, panic, and tunnel vision hit Midoriya. The cold sweats returned in full-force as he struggled to hold his composure. 

Todoroki raised an eyebrow, “A very crude choice of words, but accurate in substance. We are incalculably far from home.”

The captain dragged his feet over to his chair and slumped into it, unable to speak from fear of crying. A feeling of silent terror hung over the bridge like a dark cloud. This was a package delivery. Why did this happen... A god...damn package delivery...

“Captain?” the Vulcan’s voice pulled Midoriya back from the void. He looked up, greeted by the desperate, collective gaze of the entire bridge crew, excluding Bakugou.

“Yes?” The Captain responded, wiping the sweat off his brow

“Your orders?”

Midoriya’s took a deep, shaky breath, a storm of options and ideas, ranging from mediocre to outright horrible, raged in his head. Everyone was looking to him for answers; brilliant, reassuring next-steps-- steps that would validate his worthiness of being a captain. This was a lose-lose, no-win scenario with no way out; Midoriya was at a loss. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Bakugou shot him a glare, rolled his eyes, and swung himself out of the chair in a motion filled with lethargic resent. 

“We’re fucked. Even if, and there is no ‘if’, we miraculously found the way home and shot off at top speed, we could cruise for thousands of years -- millions for all we know, before even reaching anything we recognize. It doesn’t matter if it’s warp, transwarp, or slipstream. If we ever get home through any kind of travel, if home is even there anymore, whoever arrives there won’t be us.” Bakugou stated.

Whoever? It would take so many generations, there wouldn’t be anything resembling a human on-board for the earth to welcome back…” Tokoyami mumbled, holding his head in his hands.

“We need to get our weapons back online” The first officer continued with an uncharacteristically cool and collected tone. “Salvage what we can from the surrounding ships, it's not like they're in short supply, then we need to figure out where that tentacle bastard that brought us here is and hold every quantum torpedo we have to the side of its head until it sends us back to the place it stole us from.” 

“That assumes not only that we can find the entity, but that it operates on any form of organized thought or reason.” Todoroki stated, typing on his PADD “We can logically deduce that our chances of return are slim-to-none. It is imperative that the crew have the flexibility to entertain our best course of action --”

--"Don't you fucking say it.” Bakugo cut in.

Todoroki continued unphased, “--our best course of action: finding a suitable, M-class planet and beginning preparation for immediate settlement.”

“If you’re saying we should just give up then you're even more of a coward than our shitty, so-called captain”

“I am simply stating the facts, as grim as they may be.”

As the pair continued to exchange explosive jabs and dispassionate rebuttals, Midoriya worked to suppress his pounding heart. The despair on his bridge crew's faces forced the reality of the situation to sink in. Tears ran down Helmsman Ashido’s cheeks as she choked on sobs. Shoji trained multiple eyes blank eyes on the viewscreen while Tokoyami muttered under his breath. The rest of the crew murmured hollow reassurances and of pleas of denial to each other in hushed voices. TetsuTestu exited the turbolift with a visibly-indignant Shinsou in-tow, tending to him with a dermal regenerator. The red alien entered the room, trailing them like a baby duck with a towel lazily and insecurely wrapped around his lower half. The bridge had become crowded and chaotic. Midoriya clenched his uninjured hand into a trembling fist.

“That’s enough!” He barked with unflinching resolve. The room froze. Even Bakugou briefly shut his mouth. “This isn’t the time to panic”

“You worthless piece of shit, I’m not panic--”

“You know what, Kacchan? Shut your fucking mouth.” Midoriya hissed “Now everyone pull yourselves together. Senior staff, meet me in my ready room in five minutes.” 

The Captain stood up and briskly left the room, passing by the doctor, who caught sight of his damaged arm and black fingers, and followed him. Midoriya groaned, he had hoped to have a brief moment alone to collect himself. 

“I’m fine, Shinsou, you don’t have to do that…”

“No, you are not fine .” The doctor grumbled, rolling up the sleeve to inspect the damage.

Midoriya winced at the touch, his entire forearm had turned completely black. Grotesque blisters dotted the dead skin, feeling like fiery-hot pokers. He could feel the pain piercing all the way down to his bones.

“You’re arm is shot. If we were anywhere near a starbase, I would throw in the towel and fit you for a biosynthetic limb replacement, but I’ll have to make do with what we have. I’m taking you to the medical bay.”

“What? No, I can’t go now!” Midoriya protested, cradling his arm.

“Why not?”

“Beca-” He stopped mid-word as his head filled with a thick fog and his eyes glazed over. 

Midoriya slowly rose out of the fog to find himself sitting upright in the medbay, his arm back to its original color and Shinsou bending his elbow and inspecting his wrists. 

“Was that so hard?” the doctor teased before dropping Midoriya’s hand and waving dismissively, “I was barely able to salvage your tissues, and you’re going to need several more treatments for damage this extensive, but I’ve done all I can for today. You’re free to go.”

The Captain mumbled a sheepish ‘thank you’ before scooting off the table and walking out of the room. Slowly but surely, his eyes widened as the incident on the bridge sunk in. Midoriya broke into a light-sprint to his ready room, doing his best to contain himself until the doors slid shut behind him.

“I just told-off Kacchan... I just told-off Kacchan!” Midoriya murmured in giddy surprise. “I can’t believe it. I was at my limit. It just came out. I didn’t think I had it in me. He had it several-years-coming, but I never in a million years thoug--”

Midoriya drew in a long gasp and covered his mouth with both hands, “Kacchan’s going to kill me," He whimpered, “Our first mission turns into a disaster, and now this. There’s no way out. A Detroit smash to the gut? He would go down, but he would come back. The next day, the next week; he would come back. I’ll have to sleep with one eye open! There’s nowhere to hide… not in the bulkheads, he’d find me there... Not in the--”

He paused and slammed a fist down on the table, “I’m the Captain! I have a team counting on me, I can’t ju--”

The doors whooshed open and Midoriya jumped, a small yelp escaping his lips. Todoroki walked in and cocked an eyebrow at the sight. Why does he always come in at the worst times?

“Are you alright, Captain?” the Vulcan inquired, walking over and taking a seat next to him

“I’m fi-- *cough* I’m fine” Midoriya responded, his voice cracking. 

“Your outburst on the bridge was surprising, to say the least...” Todoroki stated, typing on his PADD “but it was substantive and...fitting.” 

A compliment? Midoriya blinked a few times, unsure of how to respond. The rest of the senior staff made their way into the small room. Bakugou slouched into the chair opposite from him, arms crossed. The look on his face said ‘I’ll kill you and piss on your grave’. Yaoyorozu took a seat on the other side of Midoriya, placing a hand on his shoulder, with a reassuring smile. TetsuTetsu arrived last, alien in-tow, with an exhausted expression. The tactical officer had wrestled him into an old jumpsuit from the cargo bay. The captain walked up to greet Tetsutetsu’s new playmate and took a look at the name sewn below the collar. 

“Kirishima, huh?” Midoriya inquired. 

“It’s the name of a mountain I grew up next to,” Tetsutetsu cracked a smile. “I thought it was fitting.”

He beamed as he dropped into his seat.

“We recorded ‘Kirishima’s’ first personal log and I showed him around the holodeck.”

The officers sat to weigh their options. Every possible course of action was addressed and, for one reason or another, only the original two options remained: pursue the tentacle entity or settle in a foreign domain with no hope of ever returning to their lives.

“Before we do anything, we have to get our weapons systems back online,” TetsuTetsu said while struggling with Kirishima, who was fixated on the replicator after discovering the pattern for Crimson Riot-shaped pancakes.

Yaoyorozu peeked up from her panel, “Weapons should be online within the next two hours-- wait, there's a problem... Computer, display a comprehensive scan of the tentacle entity; authorization Momo 8719.” A broken scan appeared on the viewscreen “I wasn’t able to pull a full scan, but whatever it’s composed of is completely out of phase.  Conventional weapons won't have any effect.”

“What’s the problem? Rig-up a tri-cobalt device and shove it up its octopus ass!” Bakugou interrupted, “Between you, the industrial replicator, and our antimatter stores, we can slap together as many warheads as we want.”

Yaoyorozu pondered for a moment and shook her head, “Even if we blew it up in subspace, it wouldn’t be strong enough. Nothing short of a transphasic torpedo wou-- …” 

Kirishima sprung up with a mouthful of pancake, “Trans...phase... You’re talking about a dimensional charge! My planet is littered with ships, I’ve seen tons with records of those weapons. You want to blow something up, but in all directions and frequencies of subspace at once?”

The chief engineer looked at the alien with a dumbfounded look, then back at the PADD and up again

“Umm… yes!”

“Then we should scan the planet and gather as much scrap tritanium as possible…” she said to herself, then looked up at Midoriya “Captain permission to perform a metallurgical scan and send an away team to the planet.”

“Granted” Midoriya turned to his ready room, “We should also salvage supplies from the other ships in orbit… Yaoyorozu, let’s piece together a wishlist? Like Bakugou said, we can salvage power sources from the surrounding ships, replicate the basic firing mechanisms, and you can take care of the components the replicator can’t handle. Todoroki, please organize four away-teams of three to scavenge the ships and have them proceed with extreme caution. Just because our sensors aren’t picking up life signs doesn't guarantee we are alone out here.”

“Aye, Captain.”

-------------------

A loud, bellowing creak echoed down the alien corridor as Bakugou unlatched the airlock entrance. A thick coat of dust sloughed off as his away team collectively heaved the dense hatch open. The vessel, at over twice the Yuuei’s size, sported an enormous gash down through its hull, which didn’t match any species’ designs in the federation record. 

“Bridge to the away team, what are you seeing?” Midoriya probed, held back from the mission through Shinzou’s orders. 

“It appears that this was once a passenger vessel” Yoayorozu replied, tricorder in-hand. She trudged through the hall in her mag-boots until she located the environmental controls.

“These controls are shot, Commander.”

Ensign Awase stuck close to her while Bakugou inspected their surroundings. The abandoned ship was eerie; personal belongings of long-gone inhabitants slowly drifting through the hallway. The bulkheads were splattered with dark, purple stains that flaked off as Bakugou passed over them through his think environmental suit.

“Blood.”

A lump forming in Awase’s throat. “There must have been an attack”

“Then where are the bodies?”

Bakugo rolled his eyes. “It’s obvious where most of them are. Dust is at least 70 percent dead cells. Look around and say hello, kid.” Awase’s lip broke into a suppressed tremble.

Just then, a groan echoed down the dark corridor and sent a chill up the ensign’s spine. The chief engineer withdrew her phaser, pointing it down the hallway with laser-focus. The team held their breath, locked in silent battle-readiness. A bead of sweat collected on Yaoyorozu’s face, stuck in place from zero gravity, and she glanced at Bakugou. His mouth was twisted into a primed smirk, ready for a fight. With this abandoned and unpressurized setting, Bakugou was finally free to stretch his legs.

“Computer... energize EV gauntlet enhancements.” He locked into battle position as sleek, white gauntlet extensions materialized onto his EV suit in two compact maelstroms of blinding light..

Yaoyorozu inhaled sharply and placed her hand on Awase’s shoulder. 

“Yaoyorozu to the bri-”

“Shut up,” Bakugou cut in, “I’ve been trapped in a tin can with that whining bitch-of-a-captain for over a week. Let me have this fight.”

A daunting grew to occupy the floor and walls as a hatched creaked open at the end of the hall.

A door creaked open and a large shadow stretched across the wall. A muffled tack echoed through the halls as the shrouded creature approached, it’s feet adhering to the floor. Bakugou’s fingers stiffened as embers drifted from his gauntlets. The alien stepped into the light.

“Spuueechh!” It cried, shuffling behind a storage container.

The commander’s excited grin drooped in disappointed puzzlement as the away team peeked over at the boogeyman before them, its intimidating shadow amounting to no more than a three-foot creature with a pug-like face. It had green, leathery skin coated in golden tattoos, with catlike eyes and vertical eyelids. Three carefully-wrapped bodies were drifted behind it on strings; like a child’s balloons. Yaoyorozu fumbled with the universal translator and Bakugou scanned for weapons as it pointed and shrieked in an alien tongue. It was unarmed.

“Impure!” it shrilled through the translator as it waddled closer. 

Awase flinched as the alien extended a thin hand and got to work, staining him in golden paint mirroring the tattoos on its skin.

The comm chirped, “Away team, what am I hearing? Is everything okay?”

“We’ve encountered an alien, Captain.”

“The little fucker’s not a threat” Bakugou turned on his heel and continued down the hall “let’s keep moving” 

Awase’s voice shook, “But… the bodie--”

“--the bodies died from decompression over a hundred years ago. I scanned them. That thing is a morbid little weirdo, but he’s no thre--”

“--and the wicked shall be shepherded to the cliff so that they may sustain us so-sayeth the watcher-on-high!” the alien extolled, trailing the commander, reaching a little paint-coated hand to his EV suit. “--and his reach shall soar and seize those that dare sail the void and their boats and children and deliver them to this place so that his servants may adorn them with linens an--”

“What did he just say?” Yaoyorozu head jerking to face the creature. 

“He needs to shut the fuck up before I blow every single one of us out an airlock.” Bakugou hissed

Yaoyorozu shrugged, “They must be a native scavenger species. At least we know there’s life somewhere out here, for better or worse.”

The team spent the next hour systematically scanning the ship. Through the maze of foreign passages, a light, soothing hum emanated from behind a massive bulkhead.

Yaoyorozu perked-up, “I know that hum! Oh boy...what a steal!”

She navigated her way through the ship as the sound grew nearer and nearer. She rounded a final corner and lit up. “It’s exactly what I thought, it’s a quantum singularity drive!”

“Like a Romulan warp core?”

She shrugged, “Same principle; much more alien design. It’s going to take me a while to crack, but it’s the perfect component to create multiple intersections in subspace. This will turn our firecracker into a frag-grenade!”

It went over Bakugou’s head, but he nodded, “Hey Deku, beam up back over. We got what we needed.”

Midoriya responded after a moment of radio-silence, “That’s great Commander, let’s bring it on and be on our way.”

“On our way?” Awase’s chimed in, “Where are we heading, Captain?”

“We have no point of reference, so we’re going to have to roll the dice buddy. It’s time for you all to get some res--”

“--don’t tell me when I need to rest; I’m a grown-ass man, Captain. ” Bukugo barked.

“--I--ugh-- Awase, get some rest, friend. you and Yaoyorozu earned it. I’ll see you soon. Captain out.”

Chapter Text

Days turned to weeks as the Starship Yuuei continued its aimless journey through uncharted space. The last several weeks came and went with relative ease. Ship repairs were still underway, but with exceptional progress, Bakugou and Midoriya opted to steer clear of each other whenever possible, splitting the day and night shifts, and the Yuuei’s newest resident became a fan-favorite among the crew’s Parrises Squares tournaments. The crew had spent the last two months scanning their never-ending junkyard in search of the entity, but with nothing to show for it. They had no way of knowing if they were even heading in the right direction. Despite their attempts to settle into a routine and keep their collective mind off of the families, homes, and obligations left behind in another corner of the universe, morale was low. They hadn’t run into any notable threats, a pock-marked hull here, a plasma leak there, but nothing truly formidable. The crew took some solace in that security. 

The Captain was slumped in his chair, staring blankly at the polluted void on the viewscreen in front of him. A loud, rumbling growl sounded from his stomach. It was the small things that had been getting to him; the faulty replicator gobbling up his toast every morning despite Yaoyorozu’s hardest diagnostics, his endless talent for misplacing his coffee, and the housekeeping ensigns constantly shifting his quarters around. A mug entered Midoriya’s vision and he looked up to see a handsome face; his Vulcan science officer, Todoroki. 

“What’s this?” the captain asked, taking the mug.

“I have been told that your replicator is malfunctioning again. I brought you tea.”

Midoriya blinked in surprise before taking a sip from the mug. Vulcan spice tea. 

“That was very thoughtful of you…” he mumbled into the cup, his face felt hot.

“Humans do not function as efficiently on an empty stomach. Since you have been reluctant to eat as-of-late, I thought this would suffice. This region of space seems to be uninhabited, but we must stay vigilant.”

“R-right…”

“Besides..you’ve seemed...distressed.”

Midoriya looked up to the stoic face, dying to know what laid behind it. He was at a loss for words.

***

Down in the mess hall, TetsuTetsu, Shinsou, and Kaminari contemplated life over a basket of fries.

“I don’t know what to do at this point,” Kaminari grumbled, idly brushing ketchup strokes on his wax paper lining, “The arguments are getting worse. Before I walk out of the door, every morning with him turns into a nightmare.

“You have to give him some space. Sero begged you not to take this commission. It’s understandable that he is upset, especially…well...now.” Shinsou sighed and nursed a mug of Raktajino. 

“There’s nothing I can do! We’re trapped here for better or wor--”

“--worse, definitely worse,” TetsuTetsu cut in.

Kaminari moaned and buried his face in his hands. “I’ve been taking extra shifts just to avoid being in my quarters. It’s too much.”

Bukugou strode past them with a resentful scowl. “Extras,” he growled as he made his way to the holodeck.

“Computer, load program ‘Katsuki G5’”

Holodeck is already in-use

Bakugou huffed. This was his time on the holodeck. The crew knew it, the civilians knew it, and little-bitch Deku knew it. Every single day at 1300 hours, the ship stepped aside for the Commander to blow off steam.

“Who the hell is in my holodeck. Computer! Open the doors.” The doors drifted open, and the loud crash of dumbbells hitting the floor hit him.

“Get out of my holodeck, pet rock!” Bakugou barked at an animated Kirishima, who shot up from a weight bench with an energized grin on his face.

“Looking good! Ready to get jacked, Commander!?” Kirishima beamed with wide eyes and flexed with muscles with laborious breathing; or at least a simulation of muscles and breathing. Bakugou was not amused. 

“Get out” He growled, turning to the control panel and searching for the program override.

The alien’s smile faded and he trotted over to Bakugou. Hiking clothes and supplies materialized over the commander’s uniform and Kirishima’s perked back up. 

“What are you doing?” He peaked over Bakugou’s shoulder, “Can I join too?” 

Bakugou adjusted the backpack on his shoulder and headed toward the center of the room. 

“No,” he said flatly “Computer run program; Katsuki G5” 

The holodeck shimmered as a boundless mountain range materialized around them. A thick layer of pure-white snow coated the landscape as delicate snowflakes drifted past Kirishima’s line-of-sight, inches from his nose. His jaw dropped as a dense pinewood forest overran the landscape. He could smell the crisp fresh air and feel the frosty breeze on his face. Bakugou inhaled deeply through his nose and sighed, his breath visible against the frigid mountain air. 

“Wow” Kirishima held out a hand as snowflakes gathered on the cool, rocky surface of his palm.

Bakugou’s shoes crunched against the snow with each step as he made his way up the path. The red alien matched his steps, placing his feet into the commander’s footprints as they journeyed. When they arrived at the base of the mountain, Bakugou whipped around and flashed Kirishima another glare.

“Fuck off, Rocks-for-brains” He hissed before starting up the steep mountain path. 

“Fuh-Kah, off,” Kirishima pondered. He had never heard that expression before. For him, Bakugou was hard to read. Crimson Riot was a man, he didn’t take mess from anyone. Bakugou was definitely a man, Kirishima marveled, his aggressive tone was just part of his macho intensity.

“You’re a tough guy, huh?” Kirishima probed.

A fiery blast the size of a personal shuttlecraft radiated heat from across the room, “What the hell did you say?”, 

Kirshima cocked his head, “You’re a tough guy. I like tough guys; I’m a tough guy too, like Crimson Riot.”

Bakugou sneered, “You? Don’t pick a fight with me; I will blast you to rubble before the holodeck safeties can catch it.”

“Oh, I bet you could!”

Bakugou’s face scrunched. What the hell is up with this guy?

Kirishima continued to tail Bakugou, observing his color-changes as the cold bit at his pale skin. Humans always seem to be changing colors, how fun. He mused. They got about halfway up the mountain before Bakugou’s combadge chirped. The commander cursed under his breath.

“Bridge to Commander Bakugou.”

Oh my god, what do you want?” 

“Uh, sir, we’re getting some strange readings... possibly another anomaly?” 

This piqued his interest, “Is it the one that stranded us here?”

“We’re not sure, Sir, your presence is requested on the bridge”

“Fine, I'll be right there. Bakugou out.” he inhaled deeply before saying “Computer, end program.”

***

Bakugou exited the turbolift with Kirishima in-tow to find chaos on the bridge. Alarms blared as Midoriya’s nails dug into the captain’s chair armrest.

“Is it the entity?” The commander asked, taking a seat in his chair. 

“No, it's a spatial anomaly,” Ashido reported. “We’re still trying to decipher the readings from our scans.”  

Tokoyami swiveled around from his chair, “We’re being pulled into a gravity well, Captain!”

“Full reverse!” Midoriya commanded.

The starship jarred and suddenly halted in position, knocking Kirishima to the ground. The team gradually collected themselves from the ground and inspected their surroundings. 

Todoroki straightened his uniform and reviewed the sensor feed. “Captain, we are locked in a collinear heading at warp 9.1.”

Midoriya suppressed an urge to squint his eyes, “...Then take us out of warp, Commander.”

“That is our predicament, Captain. We are not at warp. Whatever we are doing, we are not doing it of our own volition.”

“I have visual!” Shoji exclaimed, displaying the image on the viewscreen. 

The crew stood from their seats, puzzling at the sight before them.  

“Fascinating.”

“What are we seeing, Todoroki?”

“Nothing ever cataloged by any Federation record; clearly artificial in origin. It seems that several cosmic strings, essentially singularities extended into a one-dimensional state, have been intermingled to create an enclosed passage, propelling us through a corridor of event horizons.”

Bakugou turned to the commander, “What are our options?”

“None as of yet. This phenomenon is purely gravitational in origin, so no weapon or shield configuration would solve our dilemma. There are no visible gaps in the corridor walls, so a warp field would be equally as ineffective at ‘prying the bars open,’ if you will forgive the analogy.” 

“That shouldn’t be possible” Midoriya chewed on the inside of his lip as he looked at the anomaly and the hull of the starship groaned under the stress. 

“Captain, we… we’re being hailed.” Koda frowned at his viewscreen “It appears to be coming from inside the anomaly.” 

“Patch them through”

“Welcome to the Larulian Passage, to inhibit Hawking Radiation-related corrosion, please adjust your shield frequency to match the specifications being displayed on your viewscreen. The Larulian Hegemony takes no responsibility for hull damage suffered during your travel. Thank you and enjoy your journey!”

“Todoroki--”

“The data is being transmitted to us. Adjusting shield frequency, now.”

Midoriya relaxed back into his chair and let out a relieved sigh as the hull stress dissipated.

“Well, we’ve gotten ourselves caught in a finger trap, but the ship is safe and we seem to be in the company of a non-hostile party; Immediate crisis averted, huh?” The captain shot a friendly glance at his second-in-command.

Bakugou rolled his eyes and stomped off the bridge. 

***

Yaoyorozu checked the time and groaned. Her shift had ended three hours ago, but there was still work to be done and she was not the type to put it off for the morning. She grabbed a PADD from the engineering console and scrolled through the ever-growing list of repairs on the docket. The captain’s replicator popped up on the list for the third time this week. She rubbed her eyes in exhausted frustration.

“Three diagnostics, two Heisenberg compensator swaps, and an entirely-new unit; still no luck. It’s not the replicator, it’s the captain.” 

A hand fell onto her shoulder.. 

“Your shift is over, Momo” Kaminari smiled as he pulled the PADD out of her hands. “Go relax” 

“How can I relax when the captain can’t find his precious toast?” Yaoyorozu said sarcastically, grabbing the PADD back from Kaminari and returning to her station.

He patted her on the shoulder and she let out a soft sigh and rubbed her eyes. “Take it from someone who’s been banished to the couch for two weeks, you gotta get laid Momo.”

“Denki!” Yaoyorozu cracked, elbowing her friend in the ribs.

“You should talk to that Ensign in security, umm... Shishida! He’s half Klingon--” Kaminari wiggled his eyebrows.

“Kamina--”

“--his lower half.”

“Oh my god, Denki! ” Yaoyorozu’s face flushed as Kaminari burst into roaring laughter. 

Their ears perked up at the sound of a clearing throat. Ensign Awase stood awkwardly with a PADD in his hands and a light pink on his cheeks. He looked at the ground as he held out a PADD to Yaoyorozu. 

“I-I need approval before I start repairs,” Awase stammered. Engineering wasn’t his primary assignment, but the demand for expedited repairs called for extra hands on-site.

Yaoyorozu grabbed the PADD, accidentally brushing his hand on the way, and hastily processed the approvals. He blushed and mumbled a brief thank you before hurrying off. 

“Hmm...Maybe Awase knows his way around a bat’leth... Human in the streets, Klingon in the shee--..” Kaminari received a smack to the head from Yaoyorozu.

***

Midoriya made his way down the corridor, dragging his feet along the way. It was the fourth day since Bakugou, as payback for “wasted time” and a “fake emergency”, coerced the captain into taking on several of his shifts and locked himself in the holodeck.

“Computer; time?”

“The time is 0900 hours.”

“Active run?”

“The captain has been active since 0500 hours on Stardate 54402.37.”

Midoriya rocked his head back, tightly shut his eyes and let out a sigh of frustration and exhaustion. It’s been three days. He stumbled through the door and floundered onto the bed.

“This is too much” Midoriya broadcasted to no one. Reciting his logs had gotten him into the habit of thinking aloud. 

He sluggishly rolled himself out of bed and lumbered into the sonic shower... He leaned his head against the wall and let his mind drift off as the warm, pulsating waves of excited air particles loosened the knots in his neck. Failure after failure played on-loop in his head. A simple package delivery. He thought about his mom. She begged him to stay out of  Starfleet. He thought of All-Might and how he showed that same love, not with discouragement and tears over his handicap, but with admiration and the passing of an enormous responsibility. Above all, he lamented over the impossible and entirely-unknown distance separating them. Midoriya dried himself and pulled on a pair of loose-fitting boxers before slipping under his covers. He wrapped himself tightly in the soft sheets and let his heavy eyelids fall. He melted into the mattress with an even weight pushing his body deeper and deeper, like a shuttlecraft calmly setting-down on his bed with him sandwiched underneath. It was either exhaustion or depression; probably both. The young captain was in a deep sleep by the time his head settled on the pillow..

Most of the night was silent: No midnight snacks, no ebb-and-flow of consciousness, not even a fleeting amorphous thought. However, there was one dream. He was with Uraraka. Her hair was like it used to be in high school; medium-shoulder-length with cute fringes framing her round face and complementing her wide, brown eyes. They were in their old apartment before their assignments. He was laying behind her in bed, her body compensating for the firmness of their Starfleet-issue mattress. His arms were wrapped around her as they cuddled; Uraraka’s back pressed against his chest, his face pressed against her soft brown hair. It was comforting and warm. Midoriya missed having someone to come home to. A combadge chirped and she stirred in his arms. 

“Izuku” Uraraka breathed, running her fingers lightly over Midoriya’s arms and he smiled against her skin. “Aren’t you going to get that?”

He groaned and pulled Uraraka closer to his body “Five more minutes” he mumbled.

She giggled as he traced her curves with one of his hands, her hips were much broader than he remembered. She craned her head back so they were cheek-to-cheek as Midoriya’s hand drifted up her shirt. She reached her arm backward, sliding her hand up the back of his thigh and cupping him. His lips pressed against Uraraka’s jaw right below her ear and she gasped in a completely-foreign voice. 

“Izuku, wow!” The foreign voice giggled with lucid clarity, “It’s about time.”

Midoriya’s eyes shot open, swearing the voice wasn’t a figment of his imagination. His sheets were pulled off of him again, laying in a curvy mound in front of him. There was something under the sheet and his hand was firmly cupped around a warm, soft handful of it. Midoriya’s body went stiff and his eyes slowly looked down at the space in front of him; he was cradling a human-shaped indent in the mattress. It was midnight and he wasn’t alone... There was a breast in his hand.

Chapter Text

The naked truth staring him in the face.

***

It was nearing my second month on the Yuuei. The warm hum of the warp core during my midnight strolls through engineering, the hours I spend every afternoon melting into the soft leather of the captain's seat, and the endless bank of foreign dishes and snacks I replicate in the empty mess hall. Maybe I wasn't the most valued member of the crew and maybe I didn't have a commission or rank of my own, but I was part of the family; they just hadn't taken the time to warm up to me yet. I didn't find myself on the ship through the most “traditional” means: the Academy, endless applications and recommendation letters, or stuffy debriefs and mandatory assignments; I carved my own path.

It all started when a boy picked me up at a bar.

He was handsome but clearly nervous; he didn’t make eye-contact with me once. He forgot to hold the cab door open for me on our way home and seemed to take much more interest in babysitting his belligerent friend than he did in me, but I wasn't the jealous type. We have a laissez-faire relationship. He runs the starship, I bum off the crew's french fries, we visit on the bridge and share his coffee, and every night, I return to our quarters and carefully slip into bed to not disturb him, and get a good night’s sleep. I definitely wouldn't say it's love, but he's cute in a humble, neurotic way, and our casual arrangement works for both of us. He makes toast for me every morning and I eat it, all of it, even until my stomach hurts, all to protect his waistline from the excess carbs; true symbiosis. Sometimes I misplace his things, and sometimes he tries to hog the sheets (unsuccessfully, I might add); no relationship is perfect.

This morning, I hopped out of bed, had my morning toast, and was off to the mess hall. I strolled down the hall, feeling cute today, and nodded hello to my friends.

I passed by Ensign Asui and flashed her my signature smile. She was too distracted to see me; a true workaholic. Like clockwork, Commander Bakugou drudged down the hallway, too deep in an internal, growling rant to notice my wave. Oh Kaccan, always fuming about something. I stepped into the turbolift with Lieutenant Kaminari. He’s quiet, but we have an unspoken bond; almost spiritual, you know? No words or eye-contact necessary.

The turbolift door whooshed open. “Oh, hi Kirishima!”

“Hey Toru! Looking good!”

After lunch, I came across Kaminari again, leaving his quarters in a huff.

Sero fussed from the door, “I can’t do this. I didn’t ask for this. And you, you shouldn’t eve-”

“-even what,” Kaminari snipped, “I shouldn’t be in this position? Don’t you think I know that? I’m doing everything I can. I’m just not..”

I was taken aback. It was uncomfortable that they would have such an intimate argument with me directly in the hallway, but I felt for both of them. Relationships are hard, that’s why Izuku and I kept a casual distance.

“I didn’t mean-”

“-I know what you meant,” Kaminari sighed, “I’m leaving; my shift starts at 0700. I guess I’ll see you at home.”

My life on the ship is often laid-back, but it does get monotonous from time-to-time. Sometimes, having nothing to do stops my day before it begins. It takes everything I have to get out of bed sometimes. Not now though, I knew exactly what I was going to do that day.

It took hours of brainstorming and trial sketches; I had to use Izuku’s formal shirts and pants for back-up writing surfaces. He would understand. I slaved over the replicator with trials. I resorted to storing the failed designs in Izuku’s sonic shower when the room became cluttered, but it all paid off.

I returned to Kaminari’s apartment; he let me in the door after him.

Kaminari took a deep breath. “Hey... I-”

Sero stumbled over his words “-I’m sor-”

“You first.”

“I saw what you left me in engineering. An old-style analog wristwatch. You found my collection. I have no idea how you found the replicator pattern for such a rare model... I-- I didn’t know you cared.”

I was confused. I never thought I had done anything to make Kaminari think otherwise, but I’m glad he appreciated my effort.

Sero looked confused at Kaminari’s words too, but straightened his face and replied, “I found yours on the bed; molded elbow sleeping guards. You knew the sheets were jamming them. That must have taken a lot of thought.”

I was touched, it took me all afternoon to get his measurements; he wouldn’t stand still.

“Thank you, Denki”

“Thank you, Hanta”

That last part threw me for a curve, but no harm done. They would probably thank me later; probably with a cake; a very well-wrapped cake. My stomach growled. “Job well done Toru,'' I told myself, time to turn in for the night.

“What the Hell was that?” Sero said.

“Love,” I thought to myself. It was love.

I brushed my teeth with our couple’s toothbrush, and slipped into bed, ready for the new day.

Kaminari and Sero didn’t give credit where credit was due, but I slept like a baby.

A good deed is its own reward.

****

the-naked-truth

The ready-room was frozen in dead-silence. Midoriya sat off to the side, wallowing in his pajamas.

Bakugou was the first to speak.

“...You-- you’ve been in his room... Every night.”

“That is correct.” Toru replied, sitting at the head of the table draped in one of the captain’s over-sized t-shirts.

“You’ve been eating my fries...every day...naked...” Tokoyami stated in monotone contemplation.

“You know it!” She responded with a full mouth, holding a freshly-replicated basket of fries.

“My toothbrush…” Midoriya shuddered. “My dress uniforms…”

“You look fine in what you’re wearing right now, Izuku,” she winked, although no one would have known it.

“My toast...all this time… it was you…” He breathed, his voice barely audible.

“We have to determine how she evaded our sensors.” Todoroki stated.

“I don’t see where all of the confusion is coming from,” Kirishima laughed.

“We’ll deal with you later,” Bakugou grumbled, wheeling Kirishima to the corner of the room by the back of his chair.

"--and your relationship with the captain,” Tetsu probed as Midoriya buried his head in his hands, “--what gave you that impression?”

“What can I say? He’s a talker, I’m a listener. He muttered his life story at the bar, he muttered it on the way home, and he mutters his worries and anxieties every time he has me alone… classic boyfriend.”

“Please throw me out of an airlock,” Midoriya’s eyes watered.

“You weren’t saying that when you cupped me in bed,” she chuckled.

“I don’t have time for this. Todoroki, you deal with this.” Bakugou exited the room.

“Ms. Hagakure, even as a stowaway, you are Human. You have been trapped in an unknown section of the universe with the rest of our crew, and as Starfleet officers, we are responsible for the well-being of all Federation citizens in-need.”

Todoroki gave a long pause.

“Tetsutetsu, please replicate a set of proper civilian attire... Ms. Hagakure, welcome to the USS. Yuuei.”

Chapter Text

header-first-contact

Two months had passed since the Yuuei was dragged into the Larulian Passage, the cluster of artificial cosmic strings propelling them forward into the unknown. Periodically, openings would form as ships entered and exited the passage.  Midoriya spent weeks attempting to cut through the Hawking Radiation and subspace distortion to hail others in the convoy but had no luck.  

“Day 62,” Bakugou groaned into the comm. “No updates of note. No escape, no established contact with the convoy or Larulian government. We’re as fucked as ever.”

The door hissed open and out came Yaoyorozu, PADD in-hand. “Commander, I’ve been analyzing scans of the convoy vessels and discovered their method of entry and exit. You’re not going to like it.”

Bakugou snapped, “My ass is getting blisters from sitting in this damn chair, out with it!”

“Trellium D. They use it to coat their hulls. I pulled up an old United Earth record. We used it to shield our vessels against gravimetric anomalies during the Xindi conflict… It can’t be replicated.”

A light steam and the sweet, searing scent of nitroglycerin fumed from his forehead. “You’re joking. We’ve been sitting here with our thumbs up our asses for two months and the solution has been impossible all along? Ships have been zooming by right in front of our viewscreen coated in that crap and we can’t even hail them to ask for a fucking cup of sugar?”

“... there is one other option.” But please… I heavily, heavily recommend not using it..”

“Speak! That’s an order.”

“... the weapon... the one meant for the tentacle entity. We can make use of the Quantum Singularity...by using it to tear a hole in the corridor walls and slip out. It will destabilize the passage and leave us defenseless if we find the entity…or if it finds us.”

Bakugou shot up from his chair, “That’s it, we’re busting out of this damn thing.”

“But--”

“--We’ve been traveling for two months, we’re not going to run into the entity; and let me repeat: we’ve been traveling for two months, we could have had more than a transphasic torpedo by now. We’re getting the fuck out of here.” He hissed, knuckles white as he clenched the armrest of his chair “Bakugou to engineering.”

“Ensign Awase here.”

“What’s the status of our transphasic torpedo?” 

“It should be fully operational, sir.”

“Arm the weapon.”

“Commander, are you sure this is the best course of action? Regulation mandates that you inform the captain,” Todoroki challenged, glancing up from his station.

“I have the bridge; Right here, right now, I am your captain! Are you questioning my authority? ”

“I’m questioning your objectivity. We have discovered a method of escape without using conflict, we just have to find a way to obtain it.”

“We have been trying to restore the comm for two goddamn months! It’s not happening! Yaoyorozu, return to your station and make sure that weapon is locked and loaded. I am pushing that button in ten minutes, and if we shoot blanks I am going to march into engineering and breach the damn warp core.”

***

The weapon shot from the starboard launch tube. The computer sounded off,

“Contact in 3...2...1…”

A massive implosion sent ripples down the corridor, warping the cosmic strings until a gap appeared. 

“Forward!” Bakugou snapped.

“We’re losing helm control, the walls are pulling us in!”

“Full shields! Stabilize us and surf the gravimetric distortion until we glide through that gap.”

The Yuuei rode the riptide, falling into a gradual spin.

“We’re coming in sideways!”

“Brace for impact!”

Hull plating sheared off from gravimetric force as the Yuuei rolled out of the corridor wall.

“We’re out!”

A triumphant smirk appeared on Bakugou’s face, “Now was that so hard? What’s our position?”

Todoroki gathered himself from the floor and returned to his station, “Commander, we are over 170 light-years from our original location, about 2 parsecs from a binary system.”

Midoriya burst out of the turbolift red in the face and winded, “What the hell happened!?”

“I was informing the commander, we are 170 ligh--”

“--I got us the hell out of that tunnel is what happened, Deku .”

Lieutenant Shoji spun around from his seat, “Captain, there are two mid-sized cruisers approaching at warp 9.8! They’re scanning us; weapons hot!”

“Raise shields!” Midoriya commanded, as he briskly walked across the bridge to stand in front of the captain’s chair.

“We’re being hailed,” Koda called out.

The captain took a deep breath, “On screen.” 

A humanoid with semi-translucent skin appeared on the viewscreen. It had three pairs of bright golden-hued eyes from its forehead to a huge, gaping mouth cluttered with jagged, crooked teeth. It was adorned with crystals and sparkling metals from head-to-toe; possibly decorative, possibly a part of their anatomy. A string of alien characters was burned into its bare chest; a terrorizing sight for all.

“This is Leader Donyn of the vessel, Komir. Identify yourself” the Larulian snarled, its voice low and gravely.

“I am Captain Izuku Mido--”

“Captain Izuku, you and your crew are under-arrest for damage to the Larulian Passage and evasion of toll payments. Come willingly or you will be fired upon.”

Midoriya put his hands up defensively, a strained smile on his face “Whoa, there’s been a huge misunderstanding! We’ve been trapped in yo--”

A bright scan penetrated their hull, sweeping the room from right-to-left. Midoriya shivered as a soft tingle passed through him.

“We have completed a bio-scan of your vessel. You are harboring an undocumented Silexite and weaponized genetic augmentations have been detected in your entire crew compliment. You are in violation of dozens of Larulian statutes. Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded. “

Silexite? He must be referring to Kirishima. Midoriya’s forced smile faded, “Sir...I can’t allow you to take a member of my crew. Has he committed a crime?”

“A Silexite is not a ‘he’, Captain, it is a form of capital. Its free movement across our boundaries and your foreign possession of it are crimes in themselves. This is your final warning.”

“The Larulian ship is charging their weapons, Captain.” Helmsman Ashido announced.

There are stories about every hero... Their bodies moved before they had a chance to think; almost on their own...

All-Might’s words rang true ...I won’t let them have him. Midoriya shut off the viewscreen and faced his bridge crew, “If they want a fight, then they’ve got one,” Midoriya growled through clenched teeth. “TetsuTetsu, target their weapons systems and fire at will. Ashida, determine the limits of their border and find us a route out of here!”

“Aye Captain!”

The ship locked rotation with the Domir , skimming along the hull from less than 500 meters before firing three extended bursts from their phaser banks.

“No effect, Captain!”

A foreign energy bolt slammed the Yuuei’s hull and tore through decks eight and nine like tissue paper.

“Secure the bulkheads!” Midoriya slammed the comm button, “Shishida, oversee the evacuation of all living quarters! Use caution!”

“Today is a good day to die, Captain!” the young Klingon proclaimed over the comm in roaring laughter.

“Turn to port and fire quantum torpedoes!”

The missiles blasted through the launch-tubes, exploding on impact with the enemy shields. 

“No critical systems hits!” Tetsutetsu shouted over the tumultuous sound of bursting fuses and slamming debris. 

“Dammit, we have to be creative! Todoroki, what can we throw into this figh--”

A shockwave hit the bridge and launched the captain across the room. His head smacked the aft console and shattered the control screen, sending the ship into an uncontrolled tumble. 

“Override aft console and stabilize flightpath, code Shoto A2!”

The ship steadied as Midoriya returned to his chair. As the ship jolted from the continuing flurry of superior weapons-fire, Todoroki stumbled his way to the captain.

“We are in a losing battle. None of our weapons can penetrate their shields.”

“A transphasic torpedo would have!” Helmsman Ashido scolded. “Your first officer blew it up and got us into this mess!”

So it wasn’t a misunderstanding. We provoked them. Midoriya slammed his armrest. “God-Dammit!”

“Captain, we have to accept the facts. The Yuuei will be destroyed. You have to order the crew to abandon ship.”

A simple package delivery.

Midoriya grabbed the back of his chair and stood himself up. Time slowed to a crawl. He watched the bridge crew steadfast in their duties, even in the face of death. He gazed through the viewscreen as their most powerful weapons sent soft ripples through the Domir ’s shields like grains of sand hitting the ocean.

If you feel yourself hitting up against your limit, remember for what cause you clench your fists... remember why you started down this path, and let that memory carry you beyond your limit...

All-Might . Electrified pops and crackles crept up Midoriya’s spine, radiating down his arms until they reached the tips of his fingers. He shut his eyes as a brilliant light intensified, growing brighter and brighter until it was blinding. He opened his eyes as crisp bolts struck the ground and charred the leather of his captain’s chair. He knew what he had to do. 

“Kacchan, I’m going to regret this, but we’re already in battle…you have the bridge. Todoroki, you're with me. We’re taking a walk to the airlock.”

***

first-contact

Midoriya fastened his EV support-gear as Todoroki patched-in through the intercom on the other side of the hatch.

“Captain, the probability of your plan succeeding is negligible and our time is running out,” Todoroki petitioned.

“We’re trapped in enemy space without the force or even the reputation of the Federation behind us. The Yuuei is our only means of travel. Our entire arsenal of energy-weapons are useless against the enemy’s shields, so we die on this ship or we die in escape pods. The Larulian said it himself; whether we like it or not, we’re weaponized genetic augments; we either face execution for it or we use it to our advantage.”

Todoroki withheld his rebuttal. “Assume firing position, Captain. Venting airlock in 3...2...1…”

Midoriya exited the side of the Yuuei with a small hiss, an infinitesimally-tiny speck drifting between three colossal vessels that paid him no mind, separated from the endless vacuum of space by one-and-a-half inches of EV suit.

He slammed against the Domir with a loud bang, an inaudible clink against the large mass. Violent cracks of green lightning burst as he leaped across the ship, leaving massive cavities in his wake.

A mid-ranking Larulian broke from their station, “Leader Donyn, we’ve detected a small object on our stern hull plating. A weapon may have bypassed our shields.”

“Determine the nature of the weapon and handle it accordingly.”

Midoriya traveled along the surface in explosive leaps. His comm chirped. 

“Captain, you are causing moderate hull damage, but your attacks are not affecting any critical systems.”

“I haven’t attacked yet, Commander!” Midoriya answered in-between leaps, “--just getting myself where I need to go.”

Two cannons trained themselves on Midoriya as he made his way across the hull.

“We have locked on the foreign object, Leader. It’s...one of their crew members!”

Donyn transferred the weapons-lock to the main viewscreen. He stared in awe as the small speck, wrapped in lightning that gleamed like emerald, burst craters the size of a large scout ship on the Domir ’s surface.

“He’s in direct contact with the vessel, Leader. Do we attack?”

“Lower cannon intensity to ten percent and fire on the target. Defender, charge ablative hull plating.”

Midoriya sped through the valleys of the flowing ship, a glowing streak to the sensors. He whipped around and slammed the dense soles of his EV support gear to the ground, propelling himself through the weapons fire unscathed and landing him on the vertical surface of the forward sensor array.

“Get him off of there, he’s going t---”

“---SATURN STATION SMASH!!!”

The navigational sensor vaporized in a fireball as a concussive wave knocked the Domir crew to the ground.

“Navigational sensors are offline!”

“SMASH!!!”

“---targeting senso---”

“SMASH!!!”

“--shield generators!”

“SMASH”

“Leader! We’re dead in the water!”

The Yuuei bridge crew marveled at the viewscreen; not a closed-jaw in the room aside from Bakugou. Todoroki exited the turbolift and walked briskly to his console. 

“Computer, initiate programmed transport: Shoto M17.”

The room gasped as a smoking, electrified Midoriya materialized on the bridge and broke into a coughing fit as the smell of charred-EV suit invaded their lungs.

Todoroki passed over the captain’s suit with his right hand and extinguished the flames. “You pushed the suit too hard, Captain. I advise you to use more restraint in future excursions outside of the vessel.”

Midoriya got to his feet and removed his pressurized helmet with a sharp pop and slow hiss. “Mr. Koda, please put the second Larulian cruiser on-screen.”

The second Larulian ship commander blinked onto the screen. “Enemy vessel, you will drop your shields and prepare to be boarded,” He commanded, with much less conviction than the first captain.

Midoriya approached the screen, still catching his breath but with full command, “You don’t have enough ships to take us on. Now please, make the right choice and allow us to leave your space peacefully… with our Silexite passenger.”

The screen flickered and went black.

Ashido looked up from her station, “They are maintaining position, but have powered down their weapons.” 

“Sounds like a polite invitation out of the door to me. Tokoyami, take us out; warp 6”

The warp core hummed to life for a brief moment, followed by every light in engineering abruptly cutting off. Midoriya tapped his combadge when the bridge suddenly went dark. He slumped into the captain’s chair, rubbing his temples and shaking his head.

“It’s one thing after another…” he moaned “Yaoyorozu, what happened?”

“I’m not sure, Captain” her voice was laced with fatigue “There’s been a cascade of system failures, we can barely keep up down here.”

“We need to leave Larulian space as soon as possible, they’re standing in front of us tapping their feet as we speak.”

Shinsou entered the bridge.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in sickbay?” Midoriya sighed. Tension was thick in the air as the bridge crew nervously waited for power to come back online.

“I don’t understand why you won’t get this through your head; you are going to lose your arm . You froze it to-the-bone.  If we were home, I could synthesize biosynthetic replacement. But guess what; we’re not home. Stop using it,” Shinsou berated. “ Sigh , you have a few microfractures and dermal abrasions...but you’re cleared.”

Bakugou looked at the pair, then exited the bridge once the captain was cleared for duty.

Two more Larulian ships converged at their location. 

“Captain, we have to display some sign of withdrawal. Your bluff will only get us so far,” Todoroki cautioned.

“It wasn’t a bluff...well, mostly.”

“Captain, warp is still out, but we have impulse,” Yaoyorozu called over the intercom.

Midoriya let out a shaky breath “alright, if we have to limp away, we limp. Tokoyami, take us out.”

“Aye, Captain.”

They hobbled out of Larulian space at a snail-pace and with an erratic track due to power fluctuations to the navigational sensors. Three Larulian patrol ships vigilantly trailed the Yuuei at a distance until they crossed the border.

The comm chirped, “Be warned, Captain, if you are ever discovered in Larulian space again, you will be fired upon on-sight. You have made an enemy today.”

Chapter Text

“The panel latch is fused, hand me the plasma torch… No, the hand-held plasma torch." Kaminari, delegated a team of ensigns to handle the bio-neural gel pack swaps; “We have two crates in cargo bay 2.”

Yaoyorozu had been on-call for the last five days, and there was no shortage of calls. It was clear that the engineering chief hadn't slept the whole time. There was a hull breach over three, originally thought to be two, decks, the warp core was barely-functional after eighteen days of round-the-clock repairs, and the bio-neural gel packs were inexplicably corrupting left and right.

“Take a look at this one, Commander.” Ensign Awase held a gel pack, blackened in-color and with odd growths on its nodes. “What do you make of that?”

*****

“Look at him there, all alone, talking to himself.” Uraraka gawked at Midoriya from across the mess hall. “Maybe I should go talk to hi--”

“--Ochako, he’s going to be fine.” Ashido said with a firm pat on the back. “Did you see what he did to that ship!?--I--I mean, I know he’s supposed to be the protege of All-Might, but I’ve only seen them in-action on the ground... I never imagined I would see that kind of damage inflicted during a spacewalk!”

“You don’t know him like I do.” Uraraka sighed. “He hasn’t talked to himself like that in public since...well, it’s been a while.”

Asui bit her lip before replying, “I don’t know... I think you should give him some space. I’m not sure exactly what your relationship with the captain is, but...I don’t know if it’s very professional.”

Ashido rolled her eyes, “We’re trapped in the middle of nowhere with no warp. You be happy with whoever you want to be happy with.”

“It’s not like that. I’m just worried about him… what is he talking about over there anyway?”

*****

“He had a daughter...her name was Calina, I think. She’s no more than two-years-old...just old enough to know that her dad is gone.” Midoriya murmured. “I guess, as far as his family knows, or any of our families know for that matter, he was gone almost three months ago.”

Toru sat with Midoriya every day, often with his knowledge, to check in on him.

“How’s your arm?” She asked, a french fry floating where her mouth presumably was.

“I can’t think about my arm. A crew member is dead and there wasn’t anything I could have done about it.”

Toru could see the gears turning in Midoriya’s head; it was written all over his face. “Izuku, stop...don--”

“--There was something I could have done about it...I’m the only person who could have done anything about it!” The ship wouldn’t be in ruins, we wouldn’t be rationing out the replicator, and all of our crew members would be alive! I used to bust my arm all-the-time...if I had just done it at the first sign of a losing battl--Jennifer from hydroponics was dating him you know? How do you think she feels!?... worse than a busted arm I bet--”

Midoriya gagged as a french fry floated into his mouth.

“You looked like you needed a fry.”

Midoriya’s eyes watered as his damaged arm floated off of the table, cupped by two invisible hands.

“You saw that your crew members were in danger and you did what you’ve always done, jumped in front of the danger without a moment’s hesitation. I wasn’t born under a rock. I know who you are... everyone on Earth does.”

Just from her hands, he could tell she was smiling.

“You blew yourself out of an airlock, which no right-minded person would ever do.”

He could feel her smile fading. Her grip tightened.

“You threw yourself towards guaranteed death and then made a joke of it by punching a starship until it died !? Who does that?”

She was becoming increasingly difficult to read.

Midoriya’s smile strained, “Toru… you’re hurting me--”

“--Besides,” her grip loosened. “None of this was your fault. You weren’t the person who got us into that mess.”

Midoriya felt compelled to speak, but no valid response came to mind. She was right.

“...Why do I keep defending hi--”

His comm chirped.

“Midoriya here.”

“It’s Yaoyorozu. Awaze discovered a sickness-like disruption corrupting the gel-packs. I researched similar phenomena on other Intrepid-class vessels; the symptoms are similar, but I ruled out disease as the cause. I think this was an effect of the Larulian weapons-fire, some sort of delayed chemical attack.”

Toru gave Midoriya a wink and left to her quarters. He looked like he had enough on his plate.

“I’ll keep you posted on our progress Captain, but I want to flag this for you… We have a limited supply of packs. If they get infected, there are no replenishments. If we don’t revive the packs that are already plugged into the system, I’ll have to break down and downgrade them to optronic relays. We may be here for a while. We’ll have to conserve.”

“I understand Commander, Midoriya out.” He let out a sigh and turned towards the empty basket of fries, “I’m sorry Toru, I have to go.”

****

“Pussy!” Bakugou snapped as Kirishima staggered backward, “Learn how to take a punch!”

Like most other systems on the ship, the holodeck was out, but the dark, silent room had been Bakugou’s refuge for the last two weeks. Besides round-the-clock support work in engineering, sporadic sleep, and throwing punches at a very-willing Kirishima: the only person he had the strength to look directly in the eyes, Bakugou had no life. Something changed in him. Even through his lovable ineptitude, Kirishima could feel it. He had been glued to Bakugou’s hip for days, gravitating towards the strongest example of perceived manhood he came across during his exploration of the ship. Bakugou grew to tolerate his new, unshakable pet rock and made use of his tough exterior and unbreakable naiveté the only way he knew how, as a durable punching bag. Kirishima appreciated the excess testosterone in the room and paid no mind to Bakugou’s outbursts.

“I’m just getting started!” The Silexite responded, his mouth spread into a wide smile as he slammed his fists together. “Come at me!”

The first officer sprang forward and fired a punch, which met a block from Kirishima’s jagged right forearm and had no effect.

Kirishima maintained position with ease as Bakugou flung blow after blow at his forearms until his knuckles were bruised and bloodied.

Kirishima cocked his head, “Hey, Bakugou.”

The shots kept coming in as Bakugou’s skin flayed and shredded.

Kirishima caught an incoming fist, “Bakugou, wait!” the alien exclaimed “You’re hurting yourself, man! Please, stop!”

Bakugou roared and shoved Kirishima’s to the ground, toppling over in the process. As the jabs continued to come in, they grappled on the floor. Kirishima struggled to wrestle Bakugou into submission for his own sake.

“You need to stop!” Kirishima pleaded. Before he knew it, his hands were pinned above his head. Small pops combusted between the surface of his forearms and Bakugou’s palms. Bakugou was gasping for air and Kirishima parroted his movement, a force-of-habit after months with the humans.

“I get it, bro, you’re strong,” he said with a soft smile “You don’t need to prove that to anyone.”

“I’M NOT--” Bakugou gritted his teeth before deflating into a shriveled husk, he released Kirishima’s wrists and continued in a broken murmur full of pain, “--strong. This is my fault. Rivera is dead because of me…”

Kirishima stared up at the withered man above him with wide eyes. He didn’t know a human like Bakugou was capable of looking like this. Crimson Riot must have looked from time-to-time , he reflected with awe and admiration.

“They were all right about me at Starfleet…”

The commander stood up and headed towards the Holodeck doors, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes, inadvertently smudging blood across his face.

“Bakugou... hey man, wa--” Kirishima started to call after him but froze suddenly, Bakugou turned back with a bothered glare.

“What is it, Kirishi--”

A shiver shot through Kirishima’s body. He burst into a full sprint, shoving past the first officer on his way out the door.

“Oi, what the fuck? Where are you going?”

***

“Captain,” Todoroki tapped Midoriya on the shoulder, “Vulcan Spice tea.”

Midoriya was spiritless but touched, “Thank you Todoroki, that was very sweet of you.”

“--that was not my intentio--”

“--Status report” The captain exhaled, accidentally cutting Todoroki off.

“Sensors are still offline,” Ashido murmured in response.

“No warp capability,” Tokoyami slowly shook his head.

Koda sluggishly swiveled in his chair, “No responses to our distress calls.”

An indicator on Shoji’s control panel pinged, “Captain, I’m... picking up some energy fluctuations outside of the ship.”

Midoriya contemplated from his seat, “If those are cosmic rays, decontamination of the breached decks would take at least a day. TetsuTetsu, let’s play it safe, raise shields.”

The increasingly-impatient Tetsu cocked his head back to face the Captain, “Remember, our shields are still offline, Captain.”

Midoriya drummed his fingers against the side of his mug restlessly. The ship had already gone through enough, if there were additional breaches or damaged manifolds, the radiation could seep its way into populated areas of the ship. Shinsou didn’t need any more injuries on his hands.

“Yaoyorozu, I need shields. What can you do for us?” He called, even though he knew what her answer would be.

“I’m doing the best I can, Captain,” her voice was raspy and weak.

With a sudden burst, Kirishima bolted out of the turbolift and sprinted towards the captain’s chair. Already accustomed to his unpredictable but benign behavior, the crew was unphased. He halted in front of Midoriya, eyes wide and in a clear panic.

“There’s something on the ship!” Kirishima yelled as he anxiously bounced on the balls of his feet.

Bakugou rushed in after Kirishima, drenched from head-to-toe and sporting only a pair of sweats. His face was red with fatigue and rage.

“Damn it, rocks-for-brains, how many times do I have to tell you?” Bakugou hissed, “You can't just barge onto the bridge like this!” He snatched Kirishima by the arm and dragged him back towards the turbolift.

“Something’s on the ship!” the alien repeated on-loop.

Just then, a massive surge of energy surged through the relays. The bridge station monitors flashed through sensor logs, federation records, schematics, every available file in the Yuuei database in rapid succession.

Todoroki ran to his control console, “Something is bypassing our security protocols. I will attempt to obstruct its efforts.”

A vaporous haze entered through the environmental control vents and diffused through the bridge. It gleamed with countless glimmering specks of light; a compact galaxy in-itself. Midoriya shielded his eyes as it drifted past his face.

“Wow, you guys are in a bit of a pickle huh?” a two-toned, disembodied voice sounded through the room with a giggle. “That distress signal didn’t go out a moment too soon.”

“I don't know what back-water corner of space you hobbled out of, but this is a mess. Looks like Larulian weapons-fire to me...that was a big mistake, taking them on with a bucket like this.”

The mist condensed into a tangible structure. The captain opened his eyes to face a young girl, probably no older than sixteen. Light brown eyes, pink dreadlocks at shoulder length, and in an old-fashioned mechanic’s jumper covered in dirt and grime; she was a sight to see.

“Identify yourself.” Todoroki commanded, he stood from his station and walked over to the mysterious girl.

“Hastume, at your service!” She quickly pivoted and approached Tetsu’s station without paying the Vulcan mind.

The mysterious being materialized a PADD and typed-away, listing off the extensive damage suffered by the vessel. Tetsu gave Hatsume slack-jawed stare before snapping into focus and reaching to pry her away from the screen. His hands phased right through her skin.

Bakugou let go of a fidgeting Kirishima and turned to face the marvel, “What the hell?”

“The Larulians are a pain in the ass, but they’re toys are impressive, for a group of solids...Well, I guess I have no choice; I’m going to have to do a complete overhaul of all systems… I’m surprised you made it this far without a warp core breach…” she scratched her head before rushing to Tokoyami’s station, phasing through his body to get to the panel.

“A phantom of the night,” he breathed.

“I’m lucky I found you now… It’ll take a couple of weeks, but I should be able to get everything repai-- Holy crap , is that a Silexite!?” Hastume rushed across the bridge, phasing through Bakugou and hovering inches from Kirishima’s face. “Wow, at least 95 Kilos of it...and I’ve never seen one take a humanoid form before! What a find!”

His body spontaneously stiffened and grew jagged, an involuntary reaction. His eyes darted wildly around the room, looking directly through the woman one inch from his face. TetsuTetsu and Midoriya cautiously left their seats, silently prepared for a fight. Bakugou’s hand’s crackled and steamed. The captain fell into a distracted loop of thought, hypothesizing how a solid being could possibly hope to combat a cloud.

“W-why are you guys looking at me like that? You’re freaking me out...is-- is it behind me?” Kirishima stammered, looking over his shoulder.

Bakugou furrowed his brow “you idiot, she’s right in front of--”

“--Oh, it can’t see me.” Hastume cut off the commander without looking up, engrossed in a detailed examination of Kirishima. “...or hear me for that matter.”

He leapt and squirmed as she poked him, his face scrunched with discomfort and confusion.

“Why can’t he hear you”

“I don’t have a physical form. It's pretty hands-on, but with enough toying around with your synapses, I've pieced together this image. You’re relatively simple creatures, but it...I mean he … is a different ball game. He doesn’t have a brain; at least not in the traditional sense. My EM field is probably giving him a little tingle; he’ll squirm, but no harm done.”

Yaoyorozu sounded over the comm, “Captain, I--I have no idea what just happened, but we have shields! They’re as good as they were out-of-drydock!”

“First one’s free,” Hatsume winked. “Want another taste?”

“Tetsu--”

“She’s right, Captain. Shields are back online!”

Midoriya cautiously approached the entity, “Thank you, you don’t know how much you just did for us… We would love to make a trade for continued repairs. What payment would you want in return?”

“My currency is fun! If I can have full creative autonomy when I’m making my repairs, I’ll get your ship moving again. I’ll also need you to be flexible with your supplies…”

“Sure thing. What supplies do you have in-min--”

“--Silexite. I want silexite.”

“Woah!” Testutetsu chimed-in from across the bridge, “You wouldn’t consider that, right Captain?”

“...He’s right. We fought the Larulians because Kirishima is under our protection, we wouldn’t put him in harm’s way like that.”

Hatsume’s face scrunched, “I’ll only need a half-kilo. He won’t know the difference and the missing mass will eventually grow back anyway.”

Tetsutetsu squirmed for his friend, “I don’t know Captain. “

“Not convinced? I’ll open a wager. Ask him if you can borrow a finger.”

“What?”

“Go on,” She suppressed laughter, “ask him metal man.”

“Hey Kirishima, can I...borrow a finger?”

“You know it, bro,” Kirishima shrugged, tossing his finger across the room towards a mortified Tetsu.

Hatsume cracked up “See? If you have any plasma coolant, silexite is an incredible superconductor at chilled temperatures.” She whistled and fanned herself in a simulated sweat, “Whoo, it's almost 300 degrees above absolute zero in here, he’s probably running at half-capacity.”

Bakugou humorlessly chuckled, “No wonder he’s such an idiot.”

“Seriously, what are all of you talking about!?” Kirishima whined.

“Hastume wants to use you to help repair the ship,” Tetsu explained

Kirishima squinted. “Hatsume, who?”

Midoriya gestured Kirishima towards his ready-room and they exited the bridge for the uncomfortable ask. Midoriya laid-out the ship’s condition, the necessary repairs, and filled in the blanks in the one-sided interaction Kirishima experienced.

Kirishima perked up, “I’ll do it!”

“Whoa, not so fast buddy,” Midoriya placed a hand on his shoulder. “Is this something you’re comfortable with?”

“Something that will cause me no pain and stop the pain everyone else has been in for the past few weeks? Of course I’m comfortable with it!”

Midoriya was touched. This guy, he smiled in admiration.

Repairs began immediately. Hastume dropped her pink-haired persona, reverted back into a wispy mist, and diffused through walls, bulkheads, and even shields, eventually permeating the entire ship.

****

Her work was incredible. The warp core was restored to immaculate form, major hull breaches were gradually closed and left completely seamless, and most of the gel-packs were salvaged to beyond the capability of any Federation technician.

Yaoyorozu, after a full sixteen hours of much-needed rest, approached the center of the room, where Hatsume’s human representation materialized.

“You saved me months of work; without a starbase or full engineering crew, I never could have done this on my own.”

“You know, I can see you, all of you: body, brain, and mind. I’ve every person on this crew laid-out like a two-dimensional diagram; I know you better than you know yourself, and if there’s anyone who can do this on their own, I’m floating in front of them.”

Yaoyorozu cracked a smile at the corner of her mouth, “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.”

“No, thank you!” Hatsume flung her arms wide, turning to the warp core and staring up at the several-story-tall intermix chamber “This is what we live for! You may not have the most advanced ship in the sector, but working on it really was a labor of love… like an antique restoration.”

Yaoyorozu cracked up as she signaled the captain, “haha--Captain--Hatsume’s repairs are complete.”

Hatsume gave her a final nod of affection and vanished. Seconds later, she rematerialized on the bridge, where Midoriya was pacing each station to receive final system checks.

“Conn?”

“Check!”

“Operations?”

“Check, Captain.”

Security?

“Check!”

“Tactical?”

Tetsutetsu delayed, “Weapons systems are still offline, Captain.”

Midoriya turned to Hatsume, appreciative for all that she has done, and sheepishly made the Yuuei’s parting request, “You’ve done so much for us... I hate to ask anything else of you, bu--”

“--We don’t repair weapons,” she said with a conciliatory smile.”I’m sorry… it’s the only thing we won’t do. Think of it as...our prime directive.”

Midoriya completely understood.

“Thank you so much, Hatsume,” he extended his hand.

Hatsume’s mist enveloped his hand and acted along with a symbolic shake.

“We’ve uploaded some updated star charts to your databases with the territories and borders we’re familiar with. Stay out of trouble, and… I read your logs…” She winked at Bakugou, “Don’t collapse any more interstellar highways, okay?” Her laughter disembodied and filled the room as she atomized into a being of mist and slowly faded away.

Just like that, the energy fluctuations subsided.

Chapter Text

Kirishima wandered through the corridors of the USS Yuuei, and for the very first time, he was in a funk. Thanks to his sacrifice, the ship had been restored to full-function and for the first time in a while, the ship was free to travel as the crew desired. It hadn’t cost him an arm and a leg; only a hand, but as he passed through different sections of the ship, he didn’t see a single smile. Kirishima found himself in the mess hall and scanned the room for friendly faces. Tetsu, Shinsou, and Kaminari were at their usual table. Kaminari was in shambles; a common sight for the last few weeks and the attentiveness of his two friends seemed to be no consolation. Kirishima struggled to understand human relationships, and despite frequent education attempts from Tetsutetsu, the underlying pain of Kaminari’s romantic troubles still eluded him. It would be best to leave them alone. He exited the mess hall and drifted towards the holodeck in search of Bakugou. The doors to holodeck-one hissed open and a cool, crisp breeze greeted Kirishima along with the sight of a boundless mountain range.

“Bakubro!” Kirishima hollered as his feet crunched against the simulated blanket of snow. “Where are you?”

He trudged through the rows of evergreen trees, running his hand against the rough bark. He would never get over how tangible it all was. After a short trek, he spotted a spiky blond tuft poking over a snowbank.

“Don’t you have someone else you can annoy?” Bakugou huffed as Kirishima bounded across the distance; a handful of meters in reality.

Kirishima cocked his head and cupped his chin in a genuine effort to reach an answer, and Bakugou let out a sigh of acceptance. Kirishima was here to stay. They trudged through the expanse in silence for a short while, the commander always three steps ahead. The path was familiar; Kirishima tagged along on almost all of Bakugou’s mountain hikes. The commander let out an annoyed huff, his breath visible in the cold air.

Bakugou glanced back, “You’re awfully quiet.”

“I’m sorry--”

“Didn’t say it was a bad thing.”

“--it’s just... we fixed the ship… everything is back to normal… why is everything still… so wrong?”

“It’s more complicated than that.”

“What would make everyone happy?” Kirishima sighed, rambling over Bakugou’s responses, “I held a Crimson Riot marathon night, but no one showed up except for Toru and Midoriya... I think they were just being polite.”

“You’re thinking of what would make you happy. No one wants to watch an old Crims--”

Kirishima slammed his fists together, “--I’ve been thinking about what makes me happy, not what would help the crew!... but what could fill that gap?

The alien looked up at the sky; light-blue and bright with thin, wispy clouds slowly drifting. Earth must have been like this . Kirishima asked the crew about their home from time to time but gained very little insight. The crew had been away for about six months now, but no one was ready to reminisce; the wound was still too fresh. Toru was the only exception. She laid out elaborate narratives of her old life, drifting from scene to scene, exploring the Alpha Quadrant; no expenses paid. A year on a freighter living out of a shipping container, eight months as one of the best smugglers of bootleg-Andorian Ale the quadrant has never seen, and even three weeks on Romulus by-means of a senator’s private transport. Of all the destinations she unpacked, there was one that their conversations always returned to.

Kirishima, squinted his face, searching for the right memory; the place she always couldn’t get her mind off of.

“Risa!” Toru had exclaimed, “White sandy beaches, a beautiful blue sea, and...well…!” She wrapped her arms around herself and swung back and forth with a coy smile.

She gave a questioning hum with a wink, but Kirishima was oblivious... Toru was always so expressive.“That’s the place you go to relax! It’s a paradise!”

“Bakugou, have you ever been to Risa?” Kirishima asked. The question took Bakugou by surprise, “The fuck kind of question is that? How do you even know about Risa?”

“Toru told me about it, if you’ve been there we can make a holoprogram of it for everyone on board! Bakubro can you help m--”

“Absolutely not”

“What? Why?”

The commander waved him away, dismissively, as he walked away, “I’ll tell you when you’re older. Besides, that would be a waste of my time.”

Kirishima pouted and ran after him. Bakugou clicked his tongue in irritation and pushed on ahead, trying to maintain a distance a few steps in front.

“It would help make everyone happy!” Kirishima whined

“It’s not that simple, and that’s none of my concern”

He rubbed the back of his neck and smiled sheepishly “it would make me happy”

“The answer is still no” Bakugou didn’t even bother to look at him

“Bet you won't do it because you don’t know how to…” Kirishima muttered quietly, kicking at the snow with his feet.

The commander stopped in his tracks and clenched his fists tightly. He turned to look over his shoulder, rolled his eyes and let out a loud groan...

What did you say?” Bakugou spat.

“I just said maybe you don’t know how--”

“--Of course I know how to make a holoprogram! I made this one,” Bakugou spread his arms wide a twirled, gesturing around him. “I could program Risa in my sleep, but I don't want to waste my time making some fuck shack .

Fuck shack? Kirishima was still completely lost but could read a room well enough to know that he hit one of Bakugou’s buttons.

“If you can do it so easily then why don't you prove it?”

Bakugou ground his teeth together, “You can't bait me that easily…”

“Tch, fine,” Kirishima gained-ground and walked shoulder to shoulder with the commander “I challenge you to a fight. If I win then you help me make this holoprogram--”

“And what do I get when I win?”

Kirishima hadn’t thought that far ahead. “Uh--”

“When I win you’ll leave me alone for a month”

“A week”

“Two weeks”

“I’ll enjoy them.” Bakugou smirked, “Computer, end program”

The mountains shimmered and faded away, leaving the black grid backdrop and scaffolded holo-emitters. Kirishima would never get over the incredible sight. Bakugou’s winter clothes disappeared too, leaving only a pair of running shorts behind. His muscular body was covered from head to toe in scars. All of them told a story; freshly healed scars on his knuckles from their last fight, two deep cuts on his forehead from elementary school brawls, a phaser wound in his side below the rib-cage, two prominent transition scars on his chest, and a stab wound in his lower quad right above the knee. It was a truly bizarre sight to see in the modern medical age.

“Why is your skin like that?”

“Like what?”

“It looks broken… not smooth like the others.”

“...Everyone else runs crying to sickbay every time they scrape a knee… I take it like a man. Now I’m ready to see if there’s anything under that stupid rock shell of yours.”

Bakugou tilted his head from side to side, cracking his neck, and Kirishima mirrored the movement.

“It’s gonna take a lot more than you copying me for you to win.” The commander huffed and sprang forward, his hand open and cracking with deafening bursts.

A web of fractures shot through Kirishima’s face from a point-blank blast from Bakugou’s palm. He couldn’t feel or understand pain, but he let out a grunt anyway as he staggered back from the force of the blow. A grin stretched across Bakugou’s face as he blocked punch after rocky, jagged punch with his forearm. The sight of Bakugou’s blood always filled Kirishima with anxiety. Please don’t work yourself to the bone again, he internally pleaded to Bakugou. The commander lobbed a barrage of explosions and punches, forcing Kirishima onto the defensive. His body instinctively hardened, starting with face and arms first, then radiating towards his torso and down to his feet. There was a limit to how powerful Bakugou’s explosions could be onboard the ship; the holo-emitters, which were essentially advanced forcefield projectors at the end of the day, could only compensate so much for the bursts and the inertial dampeners could only accomplish so much in one enclosed area. If Kirishima could really put his mind to it, he could use it to his advantage. A strategy… one that can use the ship’s limitations against Bakugou’s strengths , he thought in a lightbulb moment. If I can go about this smartly, I may have a cha-- .

Sadly, Kirishima was not bright. The fight was over before he could complete his thought. Bakugou had him helplessly pinned and still had a hand to spare. He held it against the alien’s face, popping off warning sparks.

“Pathetic,” Bakugou sighed He hadn’t even broken a sweat “Two weeks…”

The commander made his way to the door but stopped right before the motion sensors to glance back at Kirishima. He was still on the floor looking at Bakugou’s drying blood on his knuckles. He raised his head and looked up at Bakugou with a defeated sulk. Bakugou gritted his teeth and firmly pinched the bridge of his nose.

“What’s with that fucking face?” he groaned, dragging his feet back to the center of the holodeck

“Kaminari said he does this to get what he wants,” Kirishima explained, looking up at the man looming over him. “Is it working?”

“...Goddamn it. I can’t win with you.”

***

Bakugou spent the next several days living out of the holodeck, not for snowy mountain leisure, but for painstaking programming, trial and error, and begrudging tests of his work. News about the program made its way around the ship, sparking curiosity and excitement. It had been months, years for some, since the crew had seen beautiful beaches, sipped refreshing cocktails, or, for some unfortunate souls, had their other needs taken care of. The crew was small, options were sparse, and when the ship started to pair off, some had to make do with rationed-out holodeck time-slots.

Once the program was completed, Kirishima invited the whole crew to the holodeck to give it a test drive. It was better than Kirishima had hoped for, white, soft sand overlooking a crystal-clear ocean, lush rain forest mountain ranges surrounding the whole area, and an open-bar with gorgeous servers and as much exposed skin as the holo-generators could handle. Light tropical music played while procedurally-generated birds chirped in the distance. A gentle breeze wafted through the palm trees. Everything was so real. Toru came to check it out first. Kirishima was filled with a satisfied warmth as he saw her eyes open wide and a huge smile spread across her face from across the room.

“Oh my god, it’s perfect!” Toru exclaimed directly beside Bakugou. He jumped at the sudden sound of her voice,

“Jesus-fuck! Make an announcement before you talk you transparent freak!”

Neither of them paid-mind as Kirishima pulled her into a bear hug.

Crew members steadily flowed into the holodeck as the air filled with exclamations of awe, excitement, and poorly-masked arousal from six-month-deprived ensigns.

Some ran toward the beach, others to the brightly-colored mixed drinks, and most teared-up; some with joy, others with grief, but all with gratitude.

“I missed this so much,” a teary-eyed Uraraka cried.

Some fought-back tears and took off towards the exit, “I can’t do this. I’m so sorry… This was so sweet of him... I’m not ready,” they would say as they quickened their pace through the archway.

Kirishima didn’t understand the complexities of human emotion, “Ensign, wait! Did I do something wrong?” He would call out.

He turned to see the captain’s arm on his shoulder, with a perplexed Todoroki beside him studying the environment.

“You’ve done everything right, Kirishima. You gave us a part of home. Everyone loves it; some love it so much they can’t bear that it’s a simulation. They’ll need time.”

Murmurs floated through the holodeck, “ --Bakugou?--” some would whisper, “I get Kirishima’s involvement, but you’re telling me Bakugou designed this?--”

Bakugou grumbled and paced with his hands deeply planted in his pockets. Serves me right for listening to that idiot. He walked towards the exit, feeling unappreciated as an extra layer to his background frustration when he was intercepted by a growing wall of crew members.

“This is amazing!”

“Thank you so much, Commander.”

“It’s beautiful!”

“I owe you a drink!”

Bakugou stopped in his tracks, lingered in thought, and responded as his scowl softened to an expression of reluctant acceptance.

“I guess I’ll stay for a drink. Someone get me a beer.” A Chief Petty Officer took him by the arm and towed him towards a swim-up bar.

Kirishima toured the grounds through a sea of high-fives and hugs as the warmth of bringing happiness fueled him. The Captain sat in a sun lounger next to a distracted Todoroki.

“How do you like that?” the captain gestured towards Bakugou. “He does have a heart.”

“He was under the pressure of Kirishima, no doubt, but I will admit, this simulation is extremely detailed.” He bent down and analyzed the foliage, “Fascinating, this rendering is extremely pattern-dense,” he kneaded a flower petal between his fingers, “accurate down to less than a micron. The outward surfaces projected in this simulation are indistinguishable from real-world objects not only by sight but by touch as well.”

Midoriya laughed. “I’m sure the crew is getting a kick out of that,” he nodded his head towards a crew woman, guiding a simulated resort host towards the bushes.

Todoroki raised an eyebrow in bewilderment, turned to face the captain for an uncomfortable stretch of time, and then promptly pivoted towards the archway and exited the simulation.

Midoriya held back a slight grimace and thumbed around the edge of his orange juice. A smooth, curvy shadow with flowing hair cast over him, eclipsing the projected sunlight. The outline of her cheeks shifted into a smile as she mumbled, “--sex on the beach?”

Midoriya choked on his drink as his eyes adjusted to see Uraraka in a tight-fitting bikini and towel draping her wide hips, “What?”

“Do you want a sex on the beach?”

Midoriya nervously scanned her up-and-down, extremely confused, brimming with rushed anxiety, and very guilty about the involuntary arousal he was pushing into the recesses of his mind.

“I don’t know… this is a weird time...I’m the captain now… I don’t know, maybe… right now?”

Uraraka returned his head to toe scan with an interested, but understanding smile. “You are the only person in Holodeck-B drinking orange juice in the middle of a rum-soaked tropical paradise. I can grab some liquor and turn that into a Sex on the Beach… the cocktail that everyone drinks in a place like this? Jesus, you don’t drink enough.” She laughed as she sat down and planted a huge kiss on his cheek. “You’re adorable, Deku.”

“I know what the drink is. I’m sorry, I was distracted by something.”

Uraraka let out a breath as her smile deflated into an expression of care and concern. “I’m worried about you.” The tone shifted immediately.

Midoriya shifted in his chair. “What?”

She leaned in, “I need to know that you’re okay.”

Midoriya was dumbfounded, “Do I look like I’m not okay?... I don’t mean that in a bad way, I’m just genuinely aski--”

“--you’ve been avoiding us. When you’re not on duty, you’ve been sleeping in your quarters. When we do see you in the mess hall you sit alone, talking out loud to yourself.”

For all of the other points, Midoriya was at a loss, but for the last one, “Talking to myself? Oh, don’t worry, I’m just having lunch wi--” A presence grabbed his arm.

“Ah!” Midoriya jerked his hand away, smoothly attempting to play it off and mask his brief terror. “Speak of the devil!”

A well filled-out bikini set was suspended in-air at the side of his lounger. Uraraka gasped and burst out into laughter as she filled in the blanks.

The bikini set bent down and leaned in towards the pair, “Hey! I hope I’m not interrupting!”

Uraraka’s mouth froze and thoughts buffered as she tried to tip-toe around the sensitive nature of their interrupted conversation.

Toru continued, “They’re starting a couple’s dance competition! Everyone’s too distracted to see me and Kirishima too busy gazing at the fire-twirlers. “ So manly, ooh... ” she jabbed in a poor impersonation of Kirishima. “You’re with me, Captain .”

She pulled Midoriya from his seat and dragged him towards the dance floor. He turned over his shoulder to see a still-concerned Uraraka mouthing, this talk isn’t over.

****

Bakugou floated in a blow-up recliner holding tall can of beer; his fourth. The lazy river was the only place to find relative solitude without making too obvious an escape. His bladder was full and he felt bloated from the carbonation. The path to the restroom guaranteed at least five or six unwanted conversations. You did such an amazing job, Bakugou. You were so sweet to think of us, Bakugou. He swung his head back into the recliner and groaned. He scanned for onlookers. Nothing within at least 10 meters. Everyone does it. He let out a small huff from his nose and relaxed his bladder. Just as the flow began, a hand grabbed the arm of his chair. He jumped and clenched,

“Dammit! Can you bother somebody else?” Uraraka had waded her way over.

“How did Kirishima manage to make you do this?” she asked, taking a long sip from her daiquiri.

Instead of answering, he stared off into the crowd of smiling faces. Uraraka clicked the side of her glass with her fingernails. “You don’t have to be an ass…”

“I don’t know why I did this,” Bakugou finally responded, avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t even want to do this. I won our bet, I didn’t have to do this…”

Uraraka was surprised by his answer. She followed his eyes and looked into the crowd of dancing bodies. She spotted Midoriya right away. He was sandwiched in the middle of two sweaty crew members in the dance pit, flushed with embarrassment and wheezing from the heat... She looked past the crowd and spotted Kirishima at the bar, talking to Tetsutetsu with a huge smile on his face.

“You’ve got a soft spot for him.”

The comment shook Bakugou out of his thoughts. “Wha- No I don’t!”

She turned to him with a bittersweet expression; happy that he was giving something to Kirishima that he would have never given her. “Yes, you do.”

“I don't have to listen to your shit,” He hissed.

He wriggled out of his chair and trudged against the flow towards the exit. She didn’t bother to stop him. Bakugou shoved his way through the crowd and out the door, bumping shoulders with a recently off-duty Shinsou.

Shinsou had been treating minor scrapes from volleyball, nausea from those who brought real alcohol from their quarters, and pulled ligaments from the program’s more illicit attractions. The moment his shift ended, he jogged down the corridor and shimmied himself into a floral-patterned button-up. He dismissed the perpetually-upset first commander and made his way in. He looked around him, eyes widening in amazement. He was no more than four or five steps in when Tetsutetsu’s metal arms wrapped around him from behind and picked him up, hauling him towards the nearest outdoor bar.

“‘Toshi!” Tetsu cheered with a light slur, “I didn’t think you were gonna come, buddy!”

Shinsou struggled against his tight grip, his arms pinned awkwardly at his sides.

“Tetsu… can’t… breathe…”

Tetsu released him with a hearty laugh, looping his arm around Shinsou’s shoulders as he guided him towards the bar. Shinsou had seen Tetsu act like this on a number of occasions; despite his large size, he was a lightweight, and a touchy-feely one at that. Shinsou was used to it. Tetsu flagged down the bartender, a simulated Risian, and ordered two large comically-large Pina Coladas.

“I can’t stay long…” Shinsou protested as one of the drinks was shoved into his hands.

“Come on, ‘Toshi. If anyone needs a break, it's you!” Tetsu replied, his face bizarrely close as if he was attempting to yell over the light, tropical background music. “The EMH is on right? That thing is programmed with like a hundred cultures worth of medical facts. Have a drink with me!”

“It’s over 3000 cultures,” Shinsou sighed and took a sip, grimacing at its overly-sweet taste.

“Whatever. It must have sucked being locked up in the med-bay all morning, I’ve been here,” he gestured at paradise, “...living my best life! You don’t know how to have fun, man. I mean me and Kirishima were hitting the gym the other day when he…” Tetsu droned on, too loud for the setting and too animated to keep his hands out of Shinzou’s personal bubble. Shinzou slowly sipped on his drink, tuning out the story but appreciating the enthusiasm.

“--and it was in my shoe the whole time! So this guy whips his rock head around and says, ‘I guess you should have brought a towel!’ I was laughing and laughing. You should have been there, man.”

“What?”

“You should have been there!”

In the distance, the crew broke out in cheers as Ensign Shishida drunkenly swung a personal chalice of blood wine and led the way in a Klingon drinking song.

“Ejah-Dak So-tas Ghos-Aa Skral, by-Teek Em-Pa...”

Shinzou grimaced at the words, roughly translating to, “and the River, Skral ran crimson-red.”

“On the day above all days… When Kahless slew evil Molor dead!” The crew broke out in hardy cheers.

Tetsu yanked at Shinsou’s sleeve, “C’mon man! Let’s get in on the action!”

“I want to relax, not swig grog with space-pirates.”

“Oh, lighten up,” he laughed. “Let’s get you another Pina Colada, light on the rum ,” he winked, “and show ye how a real pirate likes to party ... Arg !”

Shinsou jerked his arm away, “Back off! I’m not in the mood for that man.”

Tetsu took a step back with an expression of disappointment and guilt. “I’m sorry man, I just want to liven things up for you.”

“No,” he let out a long sigh. “I’m sorry. I just want to hang out and sip thi--a slightly less sweet drink, but I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. You were just coming on a bit too strong.”

Tetsu put a hand back onto his stool, preparing to sit back down.

“Tetsu, go have fun with the crew. I’m actually having a good time,” he said with a worn out, but genuine smile. “I like watching you make an ass out of yourself. If you get bored, I’ll be relaxing over here.”

***

Down the way, Kaminari’s arms were wrapped around Sero’s waist as the band slowed to a smooth, warmer melody. Sero was smiling for the first time in months and it almost brought a tear to Kaminari’s eye. The last six months had been a nightmare, and Sero never asked for any of it. I made him join the Yuuei, I ripped him from his family, and I’m the reason he has been trapped in his quarters with nothing to occupy his time. It took Kaminari hours to convince Sero to join him in the holodeck.

“It’s like we’re back home,” Sero said, resting his head on Kaminari’s shoulder.

“I know, right?” Kaminari laughed. This was one of the first conversations in weeks that didn’t feel like an inevitable path to a night of yelling or crying.

“He must have put in a lot of work making this! It’s insane”

“Yeah, it’s a real masterpiece. It’s almost better than the real thing.”

Sero’s body stiffened at the words. Kaminari stumbled over his toes as the pair broke from the music and skipped a beat. Sero down at him. The twinkle in his eye faded, leaving an all-too-familiar void in its absence.

“No, it’s nothing like the real thing,” Sero responded as he took a step away from Kaminari.

“Hanta… I didn’t mean--”

“You’re not going to sell this to me like I wasn’t taken from my home!”

“I’m not! Hanta, please, I just--”

“I’m leaving.” Sero pushed his way through the crowd to the door.

“Hanta, wait!” Kaminari struggled to weave through the crowd.

It was too late. He slipped through the exit and was gone.

Kaminari, defeated and out-of-breath, leaned his arm on the exit’s control panel. He took in a deep breath through his nose, working through his oncoming tears when a tall figure stumbled towards him.

A buzzed Yaoyorozu, with a sizable bite-mark on her cheek, patted Kaminari on the head. An equally-tipsy young communications officer acted as her handler, shepherding her with their elbows locked together.

She introduced herself. “Ensign Jiro, Sir. It’s a pleasure.”

Kaminari forced a half-hearted smile. “You don’t have to be so formal.”

“I know,” she snorted. “One of us has to be formal, so I’m being formal for the both of us.” She gestured to Yaoyorozu.

“Denki!” Yaoyorozu slurred, ruffling his hair heavy-handedly, “I took your advice!” She pointed to the purple bite mark on her face.

Kaminari laughed uncomfortably. “I was just about to go… Han--”

“No no no, don’t go!” She wiggled out of Jiro’s grip “Come and have fun! Just one drink.”

“But Hanta--”

“Shush, shush, shush.” Yaoyorozu clumsily wagged a finger near Kaminari’s lips, almost sticking in his mouth. “We can talk about your relationship problems all night, but wouldn’t you rather do it with a margarita in your hand?”

He submitted and was dragged through the crowd into the festivities. A part of him was content with delaying the inevitable fight brewing in his quarters, the other part was growing more anxious by the second; every minute he spent out here added another stick of dynamite to a ticking time-bomb. A double-shot glass slid across the bar into his hands. Before he could register the drink, Yaoyorozu flung her head back, downing her third as the patrons cheered. It reminded him of their weekends together back at Starfleet Academy, twelve drinks in and she could still school the whole room in advanced warp field theory.

Shishida weaved through the crowd and reached to put his arm around Yaoyorozu’s waist, but Jiro intercepted.

“You’ve both had enough for one night. Move along, Khaless,” she grinned.

“Qa’pla!” He cheered as he lumbered away.

Kaminari watched from the side. Wow, she’s popular tonight. He caught sight of Ensign Awase sitting alone nursing a beer and made his way over. Awase stared at Yaoyorozu with a forced smile, clearly miserable underneath.

“What’s wrong, not a party person?”

“I missed my chance with her…” Awase mumbled, “I waited too long and I missed my chance… If I ever had one.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, buddy… it’s not like she’s dating Shishida; it’s just a fling.” He gave Awase two tough pats on the back.

They watched as Jiro and Yaoyorozu stumbled to the dance floor.

“I mean, I completely respect her right to be with whoever she wants… I just think she’s… amazing and…” He trailed off.

Momo dropped her arms around Jiro’s shoulders as they swayed to the music.

Kaminari nudged and gestured to the dancing pair, “Hey, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. With Jiro around playing guard, neither you or Shishida will get a word in!”

Before long, the girls leaned in and engaged in a deep kiss. Awase groaned and buried his head in his hands.

“Oh… ouch… shit, I spoke too soon...here,” Kaminari handed him his full shot-glass. “Medicate, buddy.” He clicked his tongue in awkward silence as Awase downed the drink. “...apply liberally...”

On the dance floor, Midoriya swayed with Toru.

Midoriya took a look around. “Huh, would you look at that…”

“What?”

“No one is staring at me. Us, I mean.”

“What do you mean?”

Midoriya laughed. It felt silly. “For the last few weeks, well months actually, the crew thought I’ve been speaking to myself.”

Toru burst out in laughter, prompting stares from the crowd. “You must have felt like such an idiot!” She choked on laughter and broke out into a coughing fit. “I’m dying!”

“You should wear clothes more often. It really props up the ‘stable captain’ image, don’t you think?” They both broke out in howls. He wiped the tears away from his eyes and forced his words through laughing hiccups, “I take it back!”

“Image--not--found!” Toru responded in a robotic voice through gasps.

Uraraka turned and watched the pair from a table across the dance floor. Maybe he will be okay. She felt content for the first time in weeks.

Chapter Text

“Let me guess, Vulcan spiced tea?”

 

“Yes. I thought it would assist in your concentration.”

 

This late in the evening, the aft observation lounge was calm. Around this time, most of the off-duty crew would be in the mess hall for dinner or retiring to their quarters. The occasional young couple would venture in, staring as stars converged from all directions and receded into darkness, distorted in the ship’s wake.

 

The sight was extraordinary, but Midoriya had larger things on his mind. Kal-toh required an extreme balance of concentration; a laser-focus on small details juggled with a crystal-clear perception of the jumbled pile of thin metal rods as a whole. The underlying nature of the game eluded Midoriya for months. Chess, Jenga, even some elements of Twister? After what felt like 2... maybe even 300 matches with Todoroki, he only had the broadest semblance of what he was looking at. After seven minutes of silent contemplation, he slowly unfurled his fingers, gripped and slid a rod out of place without disturbing the messy heap, and reinserted it into the pile in a meticulously thought-out spot. He held his breath as the pile phased out of place and reoriented itself into an organized geometric shape. Victory. As soon as the thought came out, the shape flickered, wobbled, and rematerialized as a formless mess on the table. Maybe next time.

 

“You failed to complete a Kal-toh for the two hundred fourteenth time, but your persistence is admirable,” Todoroki complemented, in his own way.

 

Midoriya suppressed a smile. “Let me watch you do it again… it might help.”

 

Todoroki nodded and methodically reoriented the pile rod-by-rod with no obvious rhyme or reason. The sphere gradually phased itself into increasingly-geometric configurations and, not after long, the sphere let out a harmonic chime and materialized into a perfect sphere.

 

Midoriya shot his hands up. “Yahtzee!”

 

“I fail to see why you say that every time I achieve full Kal-toh.”

 

“It’s just fun,” Midoriya replied, shyly evading Todoroki’s gaze. 

 

Todoroki opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by the light chirp of a ship-wide time reminder. “We have one hour remaining before the evening systems evaluation, you should eat before we begin.”

 

Midoriya gave an affirmative nod and they were off to the mess hall. There wasn’t much talk on the way, but the silence was a subtle conversation in itself. Midoriya gave Todoroki a brief side-glance. He’s becoming more like us every single day. He could tell that Todoroki took some enjoyment from their evening games of Kal-toh; surely there were more valuable uses of his time. He would even crack a joke from time to time. They were limited to dry jabs of sarcasm but were jokes nonetheless. Todoroki detected the glance and directed his gaze to the ground. Despite his insistence that he couldn’t experience embarrassment, Midoriya’s outburst gave him a brief moment of lightheartedness, as if a chuckle were buried somewhere under his many layers of mental discipline. He didn't like it.

 

“The entity’s star charts have proven extremely informative.”

 

“Oh, is that right?”

 

 The door slid open and they entered the mess hall.

 

“It has defined several Larulian border points and has highlighted potential regions rich in dilithium. Also, it has provided additional data for our navigational array to use as markers.”

 

“That’s great!”

 

“It may also please you to know that the weapons components from last week’s trade will be integrated into our systems in the next 36 hours. I’ll visit engineering soon for a progress report.”

 

Midoriya gave a sly grin, “ I’ll ? Was that a contraction I just heard?”

 

Todoroki paused, taking time to formulate an excuse. “Contractions are more time-efficient. I’ve given the matter much thought and chose to integrate their use into my daily routine.”

 

What a terrible liar. Midoriya chose to take the bluff and see how far it would go. “Well, good. I look forward to… efficient conversations from here-on-out.” He won’t last a week.

 

“I look forward to it as well, Captain.”

 

***

“Read ‘em and weep, idiots,” Bakugou sneered, tossing a set of three queens onto the simulated poker table. 

 

After months of whittling him down, Kirishima had managed to get Bakugou out of his isolating mountain program and into a social setting with real crew members. They were in Holodeck-A in an old 20th-century pub. A husky redheaded bartender wiped mugs behind the counter as the group tested Bakugou’s patience, which had marginally improved over the months. The group groaned as Bakugou encircled the pile of chips in his arms and slid them into his corner.

 

“This sucks,” Ensign Bondo grumbled. “Let’s turn on the Risa program.”

 

Rin sighed. “I’ve used that almost every day for the last six months. It’s starting to get old… no offense Bakugou.” 

 

“I don’t give a shit.” 

 

“We could play Crimson Riot!” Kirishima suggested with a shy excitement. “You could both be Mystery Shadow and Razor Claw.”

 

“...and you can be Crimson Riot, we know.” Bondo groaned. “That game is like 40 years old, it’s for kids, and it has a stupid premise.”

 

Kirishima’s face fell slightly but he forced a smile.

 

Rin sneered, “Grow up and pick a real game.”

 

“Get the fuck out of my holodeck,” Bakugou growled.

 

The room stared back at Bakugou with wide eyes. The infamous sound of hisses and pops sent a shiver down the ensigns’ spines. They stood from their chairs and walked briskly to the doors. Kirishima stood to leave and Bakugou grabbed him by the back of his shirt. 

 

“Not you, rock head,” He sighed. “Computer, run the Crimson Riot holoprogram.”

 

“Can I b--”

 

“--yes, you can be Crimson Riot.”

 

***

Down in engineering, Yaoyorozu paced the room in complete confoundment. Her tongue examined the inside of her cheek, searching for a spot she hadn’t bitten raw in the last two days. After a fruitless search, she transitioned to nipping away at the inside of her lip.

 

“I’m out of options here… their written language makes no sense, the power source is completely temperamental, and I don’t even know if this alloy will stay bonded with our replicated components without constant monitoring. Awase, can you come look at this?”

 

Ensign Awase peeked over Yaoyorozu’s shoulder at the stream of complex formulas on the screen.  “It looks good to me…” He muttered, scratching his chin, “but I said that last time… and you know how that went.”

 

“It wasn’t that bad,” Yaoyorozu lied as she grabbed a PADD from a pile that had accumulated at her feet. “We’ve been getting closer every time.”

 

“...I have an idea.”

 

After days of trial and error, with an emphasis on error, Yaoyorozu didn’t have the emotional energy to dignify that with a response. She nodded for him to proceed without looking up.

 

“We’ve already adjusted the components to at least function with Federation technology. To get around the bonding issue, what if… hear me out… we transport the entire assembly into place to overlap and completely meld with the contact points?”

 

She stared at the assembly and back at Awase. “There would be no need for bonding two objects if they became the same object… I could kiss you!”

 

“Oh, well thank you, I mean, I really admire y--"

 

“--go grab me three transporter buffers and hollow out everything in the weapons port except for the power contacts!”

 

Awase did as instructed. Within ten minutes, the two of them stood in Transporter Room 3 giddy with anticipation. 

 

“Initiating transport.”

 

The weapons assembly dematerialized in front of the two officers as they crossed fingers. 

 

“Transport complete. Power flow is within safety margins.”

 

They jumped with relief and joy. The ship had been virtually weaponless for six months. Aside from smooth system operations and a steady flow of ship-to-ship trade, the Yuuei had been trapped in a state of stagnation, too cautious to stray from the safest path and unable to make true discoveries in their journey.

 

“Yaoyorozu” Midoriya’s voice sounded through her combadge “We’ve located an uninhabited rogue moon, what’s your status?”

 

“We’re ready to begin testing, Captain.”

 

***

 

Tetsu fidgeted enthusiastically at his station. Their extended cruise had given him time to unwind and be a consistent thorn in Shinsou’s side, but he was growing restless. These weapons tests were the highlight of his week. 

 

“We have a lock on a large mound, 1,080 meters in height.”

 

Midoriya inhaled deeply and crossed his fingers. “Fire.”

 

An emerald beam shot from their forward phaser array and made contact with the mound, kicking up a plume of ash and dust that enveloped miles of the surface. 

 

“Any visual?”

 

“Coming on-screen, Captain.”

 

The dust settled, uncovering a moderate crater a few hundred meters in diameter.

 

Todoroki approached the viewscreen. “Results… twenty percent of original projections.”

 

Tetsu slammed his fist and rested his head on his console. “Advanced military vessels, border defense systems, or… the entity, we would still be a fly on the windshield to them. “

 

Midoriya stood from his seat. “In worst-case scenarios… yes, we would still be defenseless, but that’s no change from our current situation. We’ve attempted to steer clear of danger, but it still could have popped its head up at any time. We finally have enough firepower to diverge from this path and stop bartering tech with cargo freighters. It’s time to make a move.” He felt a dull ache in his right arm; he was overdue for his weekly check-in with Shinsou. “Todoroki, you have the bridge. Lighten up everyone, this is a win! It’s time to get our search back-on-track!”

 

“Which direction should we go, Captain?”

 

Shoji turned from his screen. “I’ve completed a metallurgical scan of surrounding space. I am not picking up many nearby indications of technological civilizations.”

 

“Well, which region is showing the lowest probability of tech?”

 

“Heading 118-mark-357.”

 

“Then turn in the opposite direction of that and let’s get this show on the road!” Midoriya smiled as he nursed his arm. “I’m going to head to sickbay, keep your chins up!”

 

Tetsu manned his post as the captain exited. This was a win… today was a win. He repeated Midoriya’s words like a mantra, fighting his disappointment. I set my expectations too high. We are back in business. This was a win. Since the weapons trade two or three weeks prior, Tetsu had buried his head in sensor logs, reviewing the Larulian confrontation on-loop. Even at full-capacity, straight out of space-dock, their ship was no match… and now look at them. If the Yuuei ran back into them, it was over. He let out a sigh and matched the morale on the bridge by forcing a smile. The Captain’s plan to form alliances with other races in this galaxy had given the crew a renewed sense of purpose over the last few months. There was a glimmer of hope in everyone’s eyes that, with enough patience and determination, they could find a way home and all of this could be written off as a bad dream. Tetsu had given up hope after the nine-month mark, but it wasn’t a dark moment; it was a moment of clarity and extreme relief. He didn't have any family back in the Alpha quadrant, he hadn’t been tied-down by romantic attachments since he enlisted to fight the Dominion, and most of his closest friends were right here on the Yuuei. This was his family. He just wanted a change in pace, and the disappointing weapons test felt like a confirmation that they would stay in arrested development. He was tapped on the shoulder by his shift replacement and rose from his station with a groan. He needed sleep, but he roamed through the halls to walk off his echoing reservations.

 

Through no direct intent, he found himself walking through the medbay door. Inside, Shinsou tended to Midoriya’s arm. The limb was covered in unsightly scars. The areas that made contact with Kirishima’s fingers were now shallow dents in his skin. Of all the beatings that arm has taken… and delivered… all it took was a little bit of frostbite to take it down. It really made him think. Shinsou glanced at Tetsutetsu from the corner of his eye. Midoriya spotted him too and offered a large, friendly smile, which quickly broke when a wave of pain radiated up his arm and rippled through his body. The crew was generally oblivious to Midoriya’s condition, but Shinsou had conveyed the gist to Tetsu over drinks back in the Larulian Passage. “--Tetsu, it’s not just frostbite,” he would say. “That weather was as close to absolute zero as a system can get.” He would always circle back to the same finger-wagging. “If Ururaka hadn’t put that respirator on you, or had waited even a few more seconds…”

 

“How was your day?” Shinsou asked while passing over the captain’s arm with his dermal regenerator.

 

Tetsu snapped back to the present. “Oh you know, same old, same old. What about you?”

 

“...Same old, same old,” he parroted. He placed the regenerator down and picked up Midoriya’s arm by the wrist. “I’m going to test your range of motion. Stay limp and let me do the work.” Shinsou curled Midoriya’s fingers in and folded his wrist inward, prompting a loud gasp in pain. “You feel that grinding? Your bones are eroding at the joints. You need to tell me these things. Now sit still.” His arm was clearly getting worse, Shinsou switched to an osteo-regenerator. 

 

Tetsu made some passing attempts at small talk; “How was your day?”, See any strange patients?”, “How was lunch?”; but most were met with subtle nods and one-or-two-word responses; “Good”, “Not yet”, “A bit bland.” After a pause, Shinsou, with his eyes still on the captain’s hand, tilted his head in Tetsu's direction and engaged.

 

“Your shift tomorrow doesn’t start until 1300, right? Wanna meet up in the mess hall around 0900?”

 

Tetsu rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh, sorry, Hitoshi, I can't.” Shinsou raised an eyebrow without looking up from his work. “Kirishima and I are going to hang out!” 

 

Shinsou looked up from the procedure. “Oh, you’ve been hanging out with him pretty often.”

 

“Well sure, Commander Bakugou only has so much time for him, so--”

 

Shinsou nodded affirmatively without breaking eye contact. “Sounds fun… what umm… what have you been doing with him?”

 

Midoriya began to squirm. “Shinsou, is it supposed to burn? I’m feeling a burn.”

 

Shinsou snapped back into focus and inspected the arm. No damage done, what a relief. “Everything is looking good. Please come in for your check-ins when they are scheduled or I will march you in here, conscious or unconscious. It’s up to you.”

 

Midoriya slid off of the table, gave a compulsory smile and nod, and walked out of the med-bay. He made his way down the softly-lit corridor, exchanging pleasantries with his crew members as they passed until he reached his quarters. He was excited to get moving and break the monotony, but was stagnation all that bad? Aside from some restlessness, relationships had formed, new team members had integrated into the culture, and the constant terror breathing down their necks had subsided. In the blink of an eye, their six months of breathing room vanished and they could feel the vacuum of space again.

 

He curled up in the sheets and calmly stared at the ceiling as hope overcame his apprehension. He was out like a light.

Chapter Text

 “...so… five out of ten...eight out of ten?”

 

Ashiso lounged on a bean-bag chair across from Uruaka and Asui. Her quarters were cramped for the three of them, but what it lacked in space, it made up for in flamboyant style. 

 

Uraraka shared the floor space, leaning her back against a hot-pink mattress and sipping a lukewarm mug of raktajino. “I don’t know… a six? He was nice, but I don’t think there’s anything there.”

 

Ashido raised her hands in playful defensiveness. “Ooh, Uraraka the heartbreaker.”

 

“Have you talked to the captain recently?” Asui croaked.

 

“You’re always so worried about him… you should be worried about Toru,” Ashido perked her eyebrows up, “... next time you see him, she could be sitting right there on his lap and you would never know it...maybe she’s in this room right now!” She spooked the room with a half-leap, rousing a flinch from Uraraka. 

 

“Stop it!” She howled in laughter. “Toru’s amazing...and they’re just frie--” She snapped back to her train of thought. “--Midoriya and I are friends… I love him, but not that way. That ship has sailed.”

 

Her coat chirped from the corner of the room. “Todoroki to Uraraka.”

 

She leaped up and stumbled, managing to fling her arm forward and reach her target. “Uraraka here.” 

 

“We’re picking up abnormal energy fluctuations. Please report to the Astrometrics lab right away.”

 

“Understood.”

 

Uraraka downed the rest of her coffee in two large gulps. 

 

“Ladies.” She saluted with a wink, flung the coat over her shoulder, and stepped over them out the door. 

 

The girls were fun, but Todoroki was strictly business, which was both calming and irritating at the same time. He glanced at her from his monitor when she entered the room. She unpacked her station and, after a long silence, made the mistake of initiating small talk.

 

“So… how’s the Captain?”

 

She had not seen Midoriya in about a week, and even that interaction was limited to a passing smile and hello.

 

“I don’t see how that is relevant to our current task.” Todoroki concentrated on the astrometric readings. “You should be asking me about these readings.”

 

Uraraka shut her eyes and sent a plea out into the universe; please give me the strength to deal with this man . She looked down to study the data and immediately caught a flicker of it; a mystery rising from the static. “These energy fluctuations look like a pulsar… but they’re chaotic… almost unpredictable. If we can cut through the interference we can locate where it’s coming from.” 

 

She expanded the wavelengths, trying to find some underlying pattern.

 

“We’re focusing on EM energy fluctuations; switch to a gravimetric analysis.”

 

Just then, she saw it. 

 

Uraraka gasped. “It’s a signal… a gravitational signal! I'm going to try to enhance it!”

 

It popped up on the main viewer, as clear as day.

 

“I have no idea how, but whoever is making these signals knows how to use gravitational waves as a source of communication. The signal would weaken over a distance, but never actually fade!” She looked up at Todoroki. “They must be advanced.”

 

He nodded. “Advanced enough to have useful trade resources.” He tapped his com-badge. “Todoroki to the bridge.”

 

“Midoriya here, is everything okay?”

 

“Uraraka and I have isolated a signal originating approximately… five light-years from our current position; less than an hour away at maximum warp.”

 

Midoriya sprang to attention. “Transfer the coordinates to the helm and let’s get out there!” He couldn’t hide his excitement.

 

Bakugou smirked. “Jesus Christ, sit down. They’ll probably just shoo us away.”  

 

“Maybe they will,” He murmured. “...or maybe we’ll make our first friend.”

 

Bakugou rolled his eyes and slumped back in his chair.

 

Midoriya, too excited to be phased by Bakugou’s continuing difficulty, made a friendly offer; “You can end your shift early if you want to…” As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew it was a mistake. After the Larulian incident, Bakugou couldn’t be trusted in first contact proceedings. He knew it inside but had no intention to slip the suggestion so transparently.

 

The commander’s head whipped back around with a red-faced scowl. Midoriya shrunk back instinctively.  

 

“I’m… fine…” Bakugou hissed through clenched teeth.

 

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, the doors slid open and out came Kirishima, followed by an exhausted Tetsutetsu. 

 

“Hey, Baku-bro! Tetsu has a shift coming up. I loaded our program on Holodeck B!”

 

Bakugou sunk into his chair in embarrassment, scanning the room for reactions. He slowly rose and dusted himself off, glaring at Midoriya.

 

“This isn’t over. You better call me when we get there.”

 

His eyes briefly darted through the faces in the room, then he followed Kirishima out of the room with his chin held high.

 

The doors hissed shut and Midoriya let out a much-needed exhale. Call him back? I might as well skip the battle and punch a hole in the hull myself.

 

***************************************

 

Two coffees and one restroom trip later, Midoriya walked onto the bridge to a breathtaking sight; a gleaming planet of bronze infrastructure and violet foliage visible from orbit. A swarm of sleek objects orbited at a high elevation; an aesthetically-pleasing sight, unlike the clutter that circled Earth before the unification. Beams emitted from three objects, disabling the Yuuei's weapons in one pass.

 

“Any damage?”

 

Tetsu shrugged and double-checked his readings. “Nothing on my end. Shields and all systems are still operational.”

 

“If they can disable our weapons, I don’t see anything stopping them from disabling the rest of the ship. Jiro, let's hail them. Put on your best smile, everyone.”

 

Jiro transferred an incoming transmission to the viewer. A pre-recorded message broadcasted in several unknown languages.

 

“--forae^h, cho oulch--”

 

“--rjyxe soLx txe’laDh--”

 

Jiro squinted at her screen. “It’s locking onto the syntax.”

 

“Maktou Ja…sloon do chon… Hello new friends!”

 

“Got it!”

 

“Welcome to Ekan! Your weapons have been disabled by the Monali defense array. Rest assured, they are undamaged and will reactivate outside of our security perimeter. A greeter will contact you shortl-- Hello? A small man appeared on-screen, peering into the bridge from his end of the monitor.

 

“This is Arim the Greeter! How are you today?”

 

Midoriya paused to look for queues from the crew, then proceeded with a smile. “...This is Captain Izuku Midoriya. It’s great to meet you... Arim the Greeter.” 

 

“Why are you here and where did you come from?” His wide eyes darted to Mina. “Also, why is that woman pink? Does she need an anti-inflammatory lotion?”

 

The bridge was at a loss for words. There had to have been something about this in first-contact protocol. “Umm… No, she just looks like that. Our place of origin… I apologize in advance, it’s a long story. We don’t know the exact location we came from, relative to here, but we entered this area of space throug--”

 

“I would love to hear about your planet!” He said with great enthusiasm. “Would you like to visit us and share stories?”

 

The crew looked tense. Midoriya gave them a reassuring nod and agreed to come down to the surface. 

 

“I can assemble a crew and come as soon as you are ready. Where should we beam down?”

 

“Oh dear, I wouldn’t want you to beam down; not with the interference from our net. If your technology is incompatible, I would be greeting a splatter on the ground! We can open an aperture and beam you through with our transporters if you are comfortable with that.”

 

Midoriya looked to Tetsu, who gave a squeamish shrug. 

 

“Thank you for the offer. I will take a few moments to work out the logistics with my crew!” He clicked off the screen.

 

“I don’t know,” Tetsu said. “It’s a risk, but if they wanted to harm us, I doubt they would have kept our shields and life support systems online.”

 

The screen clicked back on, “I’m excited to meet you, Arim. We will see you soon!”

 

Tetsu headed towards the turbo-lift. “Should I get Bakugou?”

 

“No...” He constructed an excuse on-the-fly. “If we run into any trouble on the surface... I wouldn’t want both commanding officers to be trapped behind the security net.”

 

Tetsu bought it.

 

“Jiro was able to cut through their interference and wrangle the universal translator back into function, I would like her to join us."

 

He contemplated then continued. “Outside of relationship-building and allyship, our top priority is still getting our weapons back. If we secure a negotiation for components, I’ll need Yaoyorozu to explain our needs.”

 

“Aye, Captain.”

 

**************************

 

Midoriya, Yaoyorozu, and Jiro materialized on a large, outdoor platform. Jiro was hit with a wave of nausea and dropped to one knee as Yaoyorozu clenched her stomach and broke out in wild laughter; a result of their foreign transport system. Midoriya felt it too. Their pass through the net must have stalled the information transfer. It almost felt like his stomach was still in orbit, trying to catch up with the rest of him.

 

In the distance, he spotted a small group coming to greet them. The leader of the delegation yelled from across the platform, “Welcome to Ekan, Captain Izuku! I hope our transport was comfortable. The first time is always odd!” He sprinted towards them, prompting Yaoyorozu and Jiro to flinch and look to the captain for instructions. “At ease,” he whispered. “If they wanted to attack, they would have done so from orbit.”

 

Arim halted less than a meter from the captain. “We are the Monali, and you are?”

 

Midoriya was on a lag. “Oh... we are the... Human!” He grimaced as the words stumbled out of his mouth. “I mean the Humans ... Multiple humans.”

 

Arim had beautiful rose-gold irises that let out an iridescent glimmer when they were hit at the right angle. Without warning, he took Midoriya’s hand, examined it, and flipped it to view the underside. His demeanor calmed and he looked up. “Why is your arm damaged?” he asked matter-of-factly, no particular suspicion in his voice.

 

“Frostbite... severe frostbite.” Midoriya shifted his hand around to grip Arim’s in a gentle handshake. “This is how we say hello. It’s very nice to meet you and you have a beautiful planet.”

 

“Thank you. We’ve put significant energy into its development.”

 

Midoriya’s eyebrows raised. “Are your people native to this region of space?”

 

“Our place of evolutionary origin is lost to our cultural memory; like many, our species arrived here through spatial anomaly… roughly three and a half thousand years ago. It’s taken that long to adapt this planet.”

 

Incredible. Midoriya asked the greeter if they had any recorded encounter with the entity, but they had none of note; just a generational ship and a few thousand embryos caught in the gravitational pull of an unknown anomaly. Without human embryos or access to genetic resequencing, we won’t have the genetic diversity to keep a stable populat--. Midoriya stopped himself. You’re getting ahead of yourself. No need to be morbid. We will get home. 

 

“Our capital city is only fifteen minutes away by shuttle. Would you care for a tour?”

 

Midoriya looked to the team. Yaoyorozu shrugged with a smile. “Sounds great, engineering can take care of itself for a few hours.”

 

*************

 

The city was breathtaking. Massive buildings with rounded, fluid forms that melded into each other, gradually transitioning from color to gleaming color with public squares and walk paths flowing through their valleys. 

 

“I’m curious about your home, Captain. It’s taken us so long to get to this point. How does your society operate?”

 

“Our elimination of scarcity removed the core motivator of material greed. With some massive cultural shifts, we’ve been able to maintain a kind of social democracy for the last few hundred years.”

 

Arim nodded in understanding and personal contemplation. “I have something I think you would appreciate. Would you like to see our educational system?”

 

“Of course I would! Do you have a nearby facility?”

 

Arim smiled and gestured around him. “The world is our facility!”

 

Midoriya was lost but knew an explanation was on its way.

 

“When we landed on Ekan, our economic system was tied to the acquisition of materials. The system was tolerable while it was quarantined in private trade, but once it leached resources from our lowest earners and infected our public services, we plunged into crisis.”

 

“Our youth’s public schooling became as transactional as the job markets they were predestined to enter; trading years of wasted time for a certificate of completion with little-to-no applicable knowledge to back it up. They had memorized answers to loaded questions, but had no comprehension of the subjects themselves.”

 

The walkway opened into a public plaza, where students of all ages interacted, sipped drinks, and went about their business. It was a picturesque, but ordinary setting. Midoriya didn’t see much besides a public square.

 

“Read between the lines, Captain.”

 

He spotted it; a quick flicker near the jungle gym. A hologram. It played with the other children, chasing them to different areas of the plaza, pointing at interesting sights and helping the children deduce their purpose and origin. Midoriya’s focus shifted to a lounge area, where young adults paced the grounds, collectively talking themselves through complex calculations with a holographic moderator.

 

Jiro’s eyes widened at the sight. “Is that subspace mechanics?”

 

Arim nodded with a grin. “We don’t need to coerce children into seeking out knowledge; they crave it intensely. If you provide them with someone patient enough to guide them through their endless flow of questions, they’ll eventually lose all need for the holograms and teach themselves.”

 

A small face poked up from a huddle of children. “Dad!” She ran over, flailing a tree branch. “Find me a unit of cellulose scaffolding gel. I want to try grafting this to our tree at home.” She looked up and stared at Midoriya. “My name’s Irma. Your right arm is ugly and I want to know why your head is so big.”

 

His face contorted into a grimaced-smile. “She certainly is curio--.”

 

“--and you’re pale. Have you ever contracted skin cancer?”

 

“No, I ha--”

 

“--or does your atmosphere block ionizing radiation?”

 

“...most of it.” He looked back to Arim. “I actually have a question… and we will completely understand any answer you give.”

 

They walked to the lounge area and took a seat next to each other. 

 

“We’ve been helpless for the last several months. We had a confrontation with a hostile species and barely made it out alive. We’re a peaceful people and aren't the type to seek out a fight, but our weapons systems are shot and we’ve been looking for adequate replacements.”

 

Midoriya outlined the events that brought them to the junkyard, the passage, and eventually to Ekani. Arim nodded and listened intently, then raised a finger mid-sentence. “You need weapons. I understand.”

 

“Yes. I know it’s a lot to ask--”

 

“--say no more. We are open to interspecies trade… with conditions. I’m enjoying the time we are spending together, but we will need to verify your claims. We will need temporary access to your databanks and logs for a full review. Once we are confident that you will not use your weapons for offensive purposes, we would be happy to arrange a trade of some sort.”

 

Midoriya let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much.” 

 

He tapped his combadge and ordered the information transfer. Arim gave an enthusiastic nod and fast-walked towards a segment of the flowing architecture. “I’ll monitor the review and return as soon as our conclusions are in!” 

 

Irma tagged along with him. “Don’t let your arm fall off!”

 

*********************** 

“This is bullshit” Bakugou hissed, slumped in the captain’s chair. “I’m second-in-command, I should be down on that planet!”

 

“The captain thought it would be wise to have a commanding presence on board in case of emergencies.”

 

“...Commanding presence my ass. He’s trying to keep me chained in the backyard like a fucking dog. I’m a grown-ass man.”

 

“Clearly,” Todoroki responded in a deadpan tone.

 

Bakugou shot up on his feet, blood boiling. “You green-blooded son of a bitch, I…” They stared at each other in a stone silence. “...How much longer on that data transfer?” 

 

“About fifteen minutes” Todoroki responded. 

 

The turbo-lift slid open. “Bakubro!” 

 

Bakugou stared at Kirishima as he exited the turbolift, his usual bright smile spread across his face. There was something off; something wrong. Just then, it hit Bakugou like a slap in the face.

 

“Wait!” He rushed to Todoroki’s station, his face twisted with sudden concern. “Quarantine the last eleven months of data, quick!” 

 

Todoroki raised an eyebrow at the odd request. “Why should we interrupt the trans--”

 

Bakugou shoved past him and scoured through the file transfer log. After several seconds of scrolling, his darting eyes halted. “Oh, thank god. They haven’t found it.”

 

He dragged the files into a closed-off section and started parsing out the content. “You’re all a bunch of fucking idiots! Why didn’t you think of Kirishima? He’s a walking pile of diamonds, we can’t trust them with him.”

 

Todoroki took a moment of pause, then joined the commander. “You continue isolating and removing all records of his discovery. I will pull the other files, introduce randomized corruption, and re-enter them into the file transfer. If we succeed, they will interpret the corruption as computer core damage from the Larulian confrontation.”

 

Kirishima leaned on the captain’s chair, wearing flip-flops and a tank-top. “Did you forget about our holodeck reservation? I found a replicator pattern for hotdogs. Humans like hotdogs, right? Will they eat them burnt?”

 

“We’re not going to the holodeck… and you’re not going anywhere!” Bakugou scrambled to the opposite work station, fiddled with a PADD, and shoved it into Kirishima’s arms. “Here. I set up 8 petabytes of Crimson Riot holonovels.” He pushed Kirishima to the turbo-lift by his shoulders. “I hope you like the warp nacelle catwalk, because it’s the only place with enough interference to mask your signature… and it's your new home.”

 

“What?”

 

“Let’s go.”

 

*************

 

The away team waited in the public square, marveling at a nearby pack of young teens debating string theory when Irma popped up from behind their lounge chairs.

 

“My dad is almost done.” She motioned for them to come along and they followed the set of small, bobbing pigtails through the plaza.

 

“How many Cochrane’s of subspace distortion do your warp nacelles produce?”

 

Midoriya scratched his head. “I have no idea... Yaoyorozu?”

 

She quickened her pace and nestled Irma’s head against her hip, tussling her hair. “Over 700, cutie.”

 

“I’m not cute, I’m a scientist.” She said, too fixated on Midoriya to make eye contact.  “How much data can your communications systems transmit?”

 

He shrugged and nodded towards Jiro.

 

“About 18 kiloquads a second.”

 

She slipped out of Yaoyorozu’s arms and walked alongside Midoriya. “My dad let me watch your sensor logs. Did you punch a ship?”

 

Midoriya paused. They really don’t have boundaries, do they? “...Ye--”

 

“--How?” Her eyes widened. After several seconds, she was compelled to fill in the awkward silence. “I bet I could be a hero.”

 

Midoriya smiled down at the little rascal. “Oh really?”

 

“Yeah,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’ve never had to punch a ship before... we have a planetary defense net.”

 

“Oh is that right,” Midoriya wanted to see where this was going.

 

 “...but other planets don’t have anyone to protect them. You’re not the first people to be attacked by Larulians. I could probably protect them.”

 

Midoriya was touched. He was walking with an aspiring symbol of peace. “If you ever have to, I’m sure they would appreciate it.”

 

Arim emerged from the building, “Okay Mr. Midoriya! Your species has hit rough spots, but nothing out of the ordinary. It is clear that you have no ill intentions. You’re cleared for trade.”

 

Oh, thank god.

 

The negotiation progress moved forward with few minimal issues. At the tail-end of a round table discussion with Arim as a proxy, the Yuuei agreed to spare two bio-neural gel packs for a phaser array restoration and replenishment of their torpedo stores.

 

They left the negotiation table with mutual satisfaction and stepped out as the sun began to set.

 

“Do you drink, Captain?”

 

“Oh, me? Not particul--”

 

“--We would love a drink, Mr. Arim,” Yaoyorozu and Jiro interjected.

 

“Fantastic! We’ve earned it!” Arim patted them on the backs. “Captain, your crew is free to sample the Capital's nightlife.”

 

Yaoyorozu leaned in. “It’s ok to let go every once and a while, Midoriya,” she whispered into his ear. “You’re still as stiff as you were at the academy. Relax!” 

 

*********

 

Two large moons illuminated the night sky as the team weaved their way through the city’s valleys. They marveled as the valleys opened to uncover a swath violet trees with bioluminescent leaves. Upbeat music greeted them as they entered the bar. Arim fetched four fluted glasses of neon liquid. Yaoyorozu flung her head back attempted to shoot the drink, but her hand was stopped short.

 

“Wait,” Midoriya cautioned as he removed a bio-analyzer from his pocket. “We don’t know if it’s compatible with our biology.” 

 

“Honey, it’s alcohol. Of course, it’s not compatible with our biology.” She swung back and took the shot. “Now take your poison, Captain.”

 

Midoriya grimaced and choked down the drink. The flavor was light and fruity, but he couldn’t get past the sting. “Hey! You both have fun… I’m going to sit down for a minute.”

 

A finger tapped on Yaoyorozu’s shoulder. She turned to face another pair of shimmering rose-colored eyes. “Hello there, are you from outer space, because your beauty is out of this wor—“

 

She burst out in laughter, “Are you serious?”

 

“I made you laugh, didn’t I? Do you mind if I make you a drink?”

 

“Oh! Do you work here?”

 

“I might as well, I’m half of their foot traffic.” He took a swig of an unlabeled bottle on the counter and pointed to the sky. “Making you proud daddy.”

 

Yaoyorozu giggled, “I’m Yaoyo… Momo... I’m Momo.”

 

“Oh, the alien has a name,” he winked. “Enough about my demons, what’s your deal? Do you spit acid or something?”

 

“No, but I actually have a friend wh--”

 

“—you’re joking.”

 

“I’m from a place called Earth… of the Milky Way galaxy… it’s kind of a big deal.”

 

“Clearly.” He handed her a drink. “How did you get here?”

 

“The usual fairytale; Ship meets swarm of wormhole tentacles, gets invited out for drinks, wakes up on Andoria with a missing kidney… that sort of thing.”

 

“I have no idea what a kidney is, but I’m sure what you said was… probably funny. It must be hard being away from home like that, just like our founders.”

 

“Yeah… We’re not ready to give up just yet. We’ll find a way home.”

 

“I hope you do.”

 

They sat in contemplative silence as music boomed through the building.

 

“So, are you like those hologram-taught kids?”

 

“Oh god no! Those kids are perfect. I was in the pilot batch. Those programs get ten times better every year. But yes… I’m a genius… if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

“Oh? What is the fourth law of subspace dynamics?”

 

“Don’t drink during a subspace dynamics lecture?”

 

Yaoyorozu reached across the counter and poured herself another shot.

 

 

***********

 

Midoriya’s head slumped into his hands, waiting for the crew to tire out. A short rustling in the bush outside of the window caught his eye. He leaned in from across the room, squinting to cut through the dark. A small hand popped out from behind the bush. Irma. When she caught his eye, she jumped up and down in excitement, waving him over. He scanned the room for Jiro and Yaoyorozu. Jiro was still on the dance floor and Yaoyorozu was tied up with a local. They wouldn’t notice if I slipped out. Just for a minute.

 

He stood and slipped out of the door.

 

“Irma, what are you doing here?” 

 

The little girl grabbed his arm and tugged him along. 

 

“I gotta show you something.” Irma was jittery with excitement.

 

After about six minutes of traveling through the winding architecture, they arrived at a large tree with a rope ladder hanging down from a high branch. She small body scampered up the tree and waved for him to follow. They ascended the ladder and disappeared into the brush. After several rungs and rough branches, Midoriya caught up and wriggled his way onto a stable surface.

 

A floating orb of light flickered on several feet ahead of him and revealed a small room. 

 

Midoriya gained his footing and looked around. “This is so nice, you made yourself a little treehouse!”

 

“It’s not a treehouse,” She grabbed him by the hand. “It’s my workshop.”

 

She led him to the corner to a pattern-locked storage container. She grabbed him by the wrist and placed his hand on a scanning surface, popping open the clamps. “You humans shed a lot of skin; a lot. I took some from your seat in the plaza and added your bio-markers to my hero vault.” She released the clamps and opened the container, revealing an unfolding chest of trinkets and make-shift gadgets.

 

“Wait.” She sifted through the top layer and pulled out a hypospray capsule. “Here!” She curled it into her hand plunged it into his arm.

 

“Ack!” Midoriya flinched. He pulled himself back to avoid alarming the little girl when he was suddenly flooded with an odd sensation… He looked to his arm, then curled and uncurled his fingers. “The pain, it’s gone! I had gotten so used to it... I forgot how this felt.”

 

“I followed your skin-dust trail until I got a good enough sample, then synthesized a salve for your gross arm! I used a self-regenerating bio-mimetic gel, so you’ll never run out!”

 

“Well..” He bent and unbent his arm at the elbow in disbelief. “...Thank you! This is amazing.”

 

“Your arm is still broken, but this will help the pain so you can punch more ships until it falls off.” She looked it up and down. “...and it’s going to fall off.” She looked him in the eye. “It’s really ugly.”

 

He knelt down and patted her on the shoulder. “You’re my hero.”

Chapter Text

“I am stationed at the transporter pad, prepared to receive shipment.”

 

“Ekan ground control; initiating transport.”

 

Yaayorozu stood in Transporter Room 1, nursing a mild hangover. Two crates of weapons components materialized on the pad.

 

“Transport complete. Monali personnel will join you soon, feel free to prep systems for installation.”

 

Yaoyorozu gave an affirmative nod in the empty room and wheeled her supplies towards the turbolift in a haze. “Computer, please replicate a glass of water when I arrive in engineering.”

In engineering, Awase was steady at-work, stripping the previously-traded system. “Progress report,” Yaoyorozu requested as she entered the room and walked towards the replicator. 

 

“Our ‘brilliant’ plan screwed us over, Lieutenant. Transporting the entire assembly into place was a good idea at the time, but it was easier to put it in than it will be to get it out. All of the contact points are melded together.”

 

Midoriya sounded over the PA. “Attention crew, the Monali installation team is on-board, please comply with all directions given. Thank you to our new friends; we appreciate your service and look forward to a continuing relationship with the great people of Ekan!”

 

Yaoyorozu continued, “If we have to strip and replace the contact points, then we’d better get started.” She walked to the replicator. “Computer, replicate a mild analgesic hypospray. I can’t work with this headache.”

 

“Aww, you poor thing,” an eerily-familiar voice said from across the room. 

 

You gotta be shitting me . Yaoyorozu turned to face the voice. “Adan…” The young man leaned against the archway in thinly-veiled excitement. “What are you doing here,” she asked, already knowing the answer.

 

“I single-handedly disabled your defenses and skillfully snuck aboard just to catch another glimpse of your face.”

 

She glared at him.

 

“No laugh? I thought it was funny. I’m here to fix your ship.”

 

She rolled her eyes when the revelation hit her, we were in the middle of the capital, right next to the central government building. “You work in the same building… that’s why you’re always at the bar.”

 

He paused. “Yes… That’s why. Let’s get started.” 

 

The three of them dove into the Yuuei’s systems. Awase stripped the contacts and prepped it for the refit. Adan inspected the systems and spotted a unique feature.

 

“Hey Momo, is this a silexite processor… and is that a silexite conduit? This is incredible!”

 

The officers froze. Yaoyorozu gave up her search for a smart response, crossed her fingers, and let her mouth take over. “The… I… our native area of space is rich in silexite. I was able to use our last kilo to save the ship after the Larulian attack.” Shit. I’ll have to fill the whole crew in and get our stories straight.  

 

Adan lit up. “That’s amazing! I’ve never seen this much of it in one system.... you might as well have a diamond-crusted hull.”

 

“Wow, I didn’t know it was that valuable… in this area of space. It’s so common where we come from, we must take it for granted.”

 

They continued the refit with ease. Hatsume’s upgrades and the abundant silexite smoothed the transition.

 

“If we don’t run into any problems, I could see us wrapping up by the end of the week! I’ve never worked with a system with such easy power conversion.”

 

**************

 

Captain’s Log: The installations are proceeding ahead of schedule. Yaoyorozu and the Monali crew are doing an outstanding job. I’ve been called to the Prime Minister’s office to discuss our relationship and am hopeful for a positive outcome. 

 

Midoriya walked behind the Monali escorts down a flowing hallway with a fluid curve at every corner. The door to the minister’s office was surprisingly modest. Midoriya was expecting large, gilded double-doors at the end of the path. Instead, he found an average door relative to the Monali architecture, with a slightly short archway matching the users’ average height. 

 

“Captain! Would you like a snack or glass of water? We researched your culinary database; we have something similar to your ‘cho-ko-late’ derived from a root native t--”

 

Midoriya rubbed his neck and gave a flattered smile. “That’s so nice of you, your planet has been nothing but kind to us. I would love to sample your foods, but I’ve been preoccupied with the repairs. Maybe later today?”

 

“Haha, of course, young man.” He leaned over his desk and extended a hand, “Prime Minister Adar.”

 

Midoriya approached the desk and leaned over-enthusiastically. “Captain Izuku Midoriya.” 

 

Adar opened his desk and removed a light-brown root, “whenever you’re up for it.” He winked and munched on it through the conversation.

 

The captain took a seat and sunk into a remarkably-soft, elastic material and let out an embarrassingly-involuntary groan of satisfaction.

 

“Ooh, I can see it written on your face, Captain. It’s a polymer aerogel, the whole thing ways less than half-a-kilo and it has almost no thermal conductivity.”

 

“I don’t know where my skin ends and the chair begins.”

 

Adar gave a second wink. “We wheeled out the ‘fancy’ seats for our new friends, I can’t stress enough how glad we were to meet you out here. It sounds like you and your friends have been through quite the ordeal these last few months; that’s a lot of responsibility for any one person to take. I’m sorry for the lack of detail in my request to meet you; there’s so much to talk about, I didn’t know where to start!”

 

Midoriya smiled and nodded. “I completely understand. So…” He straightened himself in the chair and his head in with hopeful interest. “...what would you like to speak to us about?”

 

Adar leaned in. “We have been here for millennia and have seldom seen friendly faces; hostile Larulians and their allies, or the occasional unexceptional cargo ship, but virtually no-one like you and your crew.” He sat back in contentment and contemplation. “Our histories and current circumstances have striking similarities, your culture is similar and easily compatible with our own, and above all, your values are in alignment with ours. If half of your crew wasn’t so tall and pale, we would have mistaken you for Monali!”

 

That statement warmed Midoriya’s heart. Despite his confidence, there had been no guarantee that this discussion would start on positive terms outside of a gut hunch; it was nice to have it confirmed.

 

“...we know that you want to return home. In the face of our ancestor’s countless failures to make that accomplishment, I am worried about your chances of success… but we respect your choice to push forward.” He took a bite of his root and paused before continuing.

 

“However… I want to let you know that our doors are always open if you decide to settle down.”

 

Midoriya’s eyes widen in elated gratitude. “I don’t know what to say…” He began to tear up. Shit. Dial it back; you’re not 15 anymore. “We have loved ones at home… and we can’t let them down. But… if things ever change… you’ve literally given us a world of help.”

 

“I know…” Adar scooted up to close the distance between himself and Midoriya and spoke softly, as if he was attempting to hide an intimate one-on-one secret from the empty room. “Hopefully, for your mission, the day never comes where you will have to settle. Until you return home, I wanted to call you in to offer a partnership: in resources, sanctuary, and… pursuit of the entity that brought you here.”

 

That took Midoriya by surprise. He opened his mouth to ask for clarification, but nothing came out.

 

“Many are unaware… although we’ve created a paradise here, our raw resources will dwindle in the next two or three centuries. It sounds a long way off… but our descendants will pay if we don’t begin an investment now.”

 

Midoriya extended his hand. “Consider us partners.”

 

They exited the room and walked through the lobby, chewing on two chocolate roots.

 

******************

 

Adan gripped his hands on opposite sides of a cylindrical capsule jutting out of the wall. With a final sustained grunt and shove, the cylinder locked into place. After a few moments of silence, chimes and blips of affirmation sounded from Yaoyorozu’s PADD and the two let out a collective sigh.

 

She tapped her badge. “Captain, the forward torpedo launcher is operational!”

 

Midoriya responded from the surface. “That’s fantastic! Thank Adan for his hard work.”

 

Adan leaned over toward Yaoyorozu. “Anytime, Captain.” The comm chirped off.

 

He slowly packed his supplies. “So… I guess your team will take care of the torpedo launchers from here.”

 

“Yeah…” She stirred and offered a consolation. “...but I’ll see you in a few days when we start on the starboard phaser array.”

 

“Of course. Then I guess you’re back out to the stars... I had a good time.” He smiled and dragged his feet towards the door.

 

Yaoyorozu sat at her station and tapped the side of her PADD. She was at a loss for words. What the fuck am I doing? I’m a grown-ass woman. She stood up, “Let’s go on a date; wherever you want, but I want it quiet and intimate. If I feel like it afterward, we can go to your place for the night, but we’ll see.”

 

Adan stopped in his tracks, set his tools on the nearest surface he could spot and turned around with a blank stare.

 

“Uhh, yeah... That sounds good. I, umm… I’ll figure out a place.”

 

**************

 

“Oh my god,” Midoriya mumbled with a full mouth. “It’s melting in my mouth. I’m in heaven.”

 

He proceeded to the building’s exit with Adar and looked back on their conversation.

 

“Adar, you have replicator technology… why would you have problems with sustainability?”

 

“Our replicators can rearrange atoms, but that’s their limit; if the planet doesn’t have carbon or nitrogen, there goes our food supply; if there’s not Hydrogen, there goes our water. We’ve tried to colonize nearby planetoids, but they are all the same. It took us almost three millennia to scrape together enough materials to get by.”

 

Midoriya took a quiet breath through his nose. So habitable planets are in short supply.

 

“We’ve barely just developed our replicators past the atomic level in prototype tests, but at this point, we’ll need to implement it on a mass-scale to have any effect.”

 

“Here’s hoping.”

 

He entered the cool evening air outside of their central government building and took in a breath of triumph. Everything is going to be okay.

 

“Midoriya!” Irma came running from her father’s office.

 

She stopped in front of him and did a full turn with her arms spread out at her sides. Midoriya couldn’t believe his eyes: Armguards, thick soles, a faceplate that spread across her mouth and nose like a broad grin, and two extensions protruding from a helmet.

 

“I made a suit! I have carbon-nanotube guards, the gloves and torso plating can withstand a blunt force impact of two-thousand sixt--”

 

She trailed off at the sight of Midoriya’s face: overwhelmed to the point of numbness. He mumbled, “When I was… I made a suit… my favorite hero…” He stared through her in a long pause. “...All Might.”

 

She squinted at him, searching his face for clarification. “Well, you’re my favorite hero. Do you like it?”

 

He knelt down and wrapped her in an exhausted hug. “I love it.”

 

When he stood up, his gaze shifted from the little girl to his arm. 

 

Broken. Barely alive. Rotting. 

 

The image of the cavernous pit carved in All Might’s stomach was burned into his skull. 

 

I don’t understand why you won’t get this through your head,” Shinsou’s voice echoed. “You are going to lose your arm.”  

 

He stared into empty space as his left hand rose to meet his head. It combed through his hair and lowered to face him at eye-level. He stared at the gaps between his fingers, where two loose, curly strands of hair rested. He looked down at Irma.

 

All Might’s words surfaced and slowly escaped his mouth.

 

“You too… can be a hero…”