paramind (mha cyberpunk!au) - gotachipinmyhair - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)

Chapter Text

I steal a living

Tell me I’m wrong

Will I be forgiven?

If I wanna walk like you

Swingin’ it back when I want

A small, motorized cart moves through the crowded streets of Musutafu. Foot traffic is terrible, it’s rare the cart moves more than ten miles an hour. This place has no streets to drive. This place has no cars to own.

The driver of the cart is not human. A bot, programmed to do a job, not programmed to do much else. Its AI is barely advanced enough to know not to run people over. It has driven this route a thousand times.

Nobody walking the alleys takes any notice of the cart, much less the tarp-covered boxes it carries in its trailer. But surely they can’t be blamed. How could anyone pay any attention to such a plain thing? In this place, their eyes look up, forever soaking in the “City of Lights and Song”.

Neons in every direction. There isn’t an inch of free space on the side of any building. Every flat expanse of wall bears the weight of a glowing sign, advertising for business, announcing upcoming events. Some are even just plain words spelled in metal tubes of liquid fluorescents. The colors bleed into the space and bounce off of each other, reflect from puddles formed by a simulator that produces artificial rain three times a week. Windows throw the lights back onto themselves. Every inch of the city is overflowing with it.

And of course, high above it all, the high-end technology of stars. Only a few cities in all of Japan feature the hermetic lightboard, invented and installed in the roof to mimic the appearance of a long-forgotten night sky. Sometimes one was almost able to forget there was a roof at all, though not for long. Because for as bright as the city is, it’s been centuries since it had so much as a taste of the sun.

Plant life here is unheard of, but the lights could never be replaced. They shine along the walls of alleyways, beam from standing signs on corners and outside shop doors. They echo from interiors of buildings, carry a low and incessant hum of electricity, flicker every once in a while. But they never go out. The City of Lights would be nothing without its neons.

The cart steers carefully around a group of people chatting in the street. A patron is nearly skimmed by the wheel and tosses a curse in the direction of the cloaked driver, but it is made of metal. Steel cannot be hurt by words. All it does is continue to drive on.

“Vinyls! Real, authentic vinyls and record players!” Calls a shop owner from his doorway, waving a thin, square vinyl sleeve out before him, “Buy a record player, get your first vinyl free!”

A few people are drawn in to browse the collection. Vinyls aren’t being manufactured anymore, a rare antique worth immense amounts of money. But the bot has no need for material items. All it does is continue to drive on.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

Blaring music floods from the open doors of a nightclub, the bass thundering loud enough to make the metal plating on the bot driver vibrate. The very streets seem to rumble beneath the wheels as drunken patrons stumble out, opening up more room for new dancers to come filing in. Security in this place is almost entirely made of robot forces, two large bots standing before the doors with crossed arms, checking IDs to let people through.

Music exists here almost as prominently as the lights do. Almost every business is outfitted with radios to create ambiance, and the sounds of the nightclubs and bars fight for the limited space in the city, drowning one another out, mixing together with the chatter of people into a cacophonous collection of noise. Quieter speakers and record players bleed from open windows and off of balconies high above, and through it all there’s even people walking the streets with headphones on, bobbing along to their own tunes. It’s rumored that Musutafu has more music-making technologies than any other city in the world.

A few cats sprinkle the streets, quite possibly the only animal species that managed to survive the downfall. They lounge upon air conditioning units and balcony railings, scratch at shop doors and beg the owners to feed them the same technology of reorganized atoms that humans make a diet of these days. They take the shape and taste of real food, but actual food is so rare that most people can’t afford it. But science is an incredible thing.

A patron from the nightclub has been stumbling alongside the cart for a while now, and while stopped at an intersection, she grabs onto the edge of the trailer and begins to puke onto the street. The bot doesn’t turn around as it leans over to push her hand away from the cart.

A red-headed man and his husband browse the aisles of a local bodega with open windows. He hears the rumble of the cart’s engine and idly turns his head to watch it drive past.

“I want tteokbokki for dinner,” says his husband.

“That bot’s gonna run somebody over with that cart.”

“Hey, pay attention to me, dumbass. Chicken or pork?”

The red-headed man likes robots. He finds them interesting. But the bot does not notice him. All he does is continue on.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you, I won’t

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

The brilliance of the city could be overwhelming to those who aren’t used to it. The buildings that line the footwalks are of various shapes and sizes. Balconies and roofs are packed to the brim with carpets, chairs, decorations, pots with fake plants and TVs haphazardly wired to power lines. String lights and lamps, too, as if the neons weren’t already enough. The warm light contrasts in strange ways with the cool touch of the fluorescents, where darkness has become something of the long past.

Or at least, up here it is. But not even the City of Lights is devoid of its shadows.

The bot makes a slow turn of the wheel, steering the cart along a particularly narrow alleyway that slopes steeply downward, sinking away from the cover of the stars. Here the buildings still look like frozen sentinels on either side of the street, but the neons aren’t quite as widespread, thinning out and dimming to purples and pinks and reds.

They snake along the walls, tendrils of verdant violet ivy in a plantless world. The people begin to thin, too, because there are parts of town that average citizens keep their distance from. But the bot is programmed to drive this alley, and no other. All he does is continue on.

As the bustling nightlife dies, so does the atmosphere of those within it. People down here are people who bury themselves beneath the cover of cloaks and hoods, who don’t show their faces or leave any trace to let them know they were even here. This city is one of lights and plenty, iridescent and packed, but it’s not a lawless land. There are still places that certain types of people must hide.

Places like this one. The cart winds through backways of concrete foundations, so far below city level that most of the buildings are nothing but empty storage basem*nts holding up the residences above them. Few people dot the streets, and those that do don’t speak to each other. They rummage garbage cans and slip through narrow doors, people the government would consider suspicious and worth paying extra attention to. But although the police have prowled these streets a hundred times, none have found anything they could consider a crime.

Inside this killing

Cut if I want

Time to leave

Lucky I got what I want

The music is harder to hear from this place, but the rumble of the bass is still felt even down here. It’s similar to the sound of thunder that plays from the emulator twice a week, because even the weather is on a schedule. Three days for rain, but only two for thunderstorms. One for lightning.

The bot follows the path of a winding sewage pipe, nearly twice the size of the cart as it twists and turns along the narrow alleys. If a human with little experience tried to drive this route, they’d be likely to scrape the paint off the cart trying to make these tight turns. But the bot isn’t programmed to make mistakes. All it does is continue to drive on.

It reaches what makes an appearance as a dead end, the rusty pipe taking a sharp right turn and disappearing into a concrete wall. The bot’s delivery is nearly complete, though anyone that saw it now would likely think it had malfunctioned and made a wrong turn.

The bot climbs from the driver’s seat of the cart and takes a look around. Heat sensors wired into its eyes scan for any signs of human life, even ones hidden behind walls or inside buildings and trying to peek, but this corner of the city may very well be dead. The bot is alone, the way it has only ever been when approaching this section of its delivery.

Stepping up to the metal pipe, the bot runs a steel hand along the joint where the two sections of pipe meet, surrounded by massive metal bolts screwed in to keep the pieces together. Slender fingers start to press these bolts in a particular order, first the top, then three to the left, six right, one left of the bottom, the top again.

Something inside of the pipe unhinges with a groan. The bolts twist around and unscrew themselves from the inside out, allowing the right-angle junction of the pipe to rise into the air, exposing the pipe’s interior.

The police think this is a sewage pipe. But the inside of the pipe is dry, empty, and large enough to fit a motorized cart. The bot returns to the driver’s seat and continues on. The pipe isn’t open long before it slides back shut and the bolts screw down once again.

The interior of the pipe tunnel is so horrendously dark that a human could never hope to traverse it without a guiding hand to the wall, much less drive in it. But the bot was programmed to see in the dark. It was programmed with the sole purpose of making this very drive.

Deeper and deeper and deeper, the pipe extends beneath the city, past the real sewage and drainage lines, past the subway tunnels, past the buried electrical lines and the underground landfills. The bot must go to a place beyond the eye of the law. And the only direction the law cannot secure is straight down.

After several minutes of pitch dark and the hum of an electrical engine, a vague purple light begins to seep from the far end of the tunnel. The bot drives on, until the pipe gives away and the wheels meet cobbled street once again. But things are different here.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

Yami-ichi. The Black Market.

A sprawling expanse of more buildings and shop fronts, though these are considerably smaller, and none who dabble in this place are stupid enough to display their wares on neon signs outside on the streets. Instead, the signs display symbols with little to no meaning to those who aren’t privy to the purpose of this place, silent indications of what items can be found where.

These lights are almost entirely shades of purple and pink, with a few odd glimpses of red mixed in, and the walls of every building are an explosion of graffiti and murals, replacing the color that has been lost since leaving the city’s surface. There are no stars here, only a low-lying roof of pipes and concrete a hundred some-odd feet above. People roam the streets in many clothes, hiding their identities but otherwise confident in being here.

Being a place that sits beyond reach of the law, what was invented as a way to hide from the oppressive nature of the laws’ requirements has become a bustling hub for criminal activity: drug deals, brothels and prostitution, sex trafficking rings, illegal goods, and more. Anything frowned upon by the police is achievable here, an escape from the government that has thrived below concrete for hundreds of years now. Trying to dismantle it with how big it has become would take decades.

The people here aren’t like the people on the surface. They know what lies in the boxes that the bot drives and have no issue stepping out of the way to let it through, sneaking hands reaching out to try to peel the tarps up for a look. Some even begin to follow the cart as it passes by, ready for the show that always tail ends its arrival.

A building stands at the center of a cobblestone square, outfitted with haphazard wooden beams and railing to create a makeshift stage just beyond the front door. Already a few people litter the square before the stage, chatting idly to each other about the prospect of new products being displayed at the upcoming show.

The cart makes it way through them and pulls around the back of the building, rolling to a stop at the end of a steep alleyway. The bot gets out and unhooks the tarp, but away from the eyes of the public, no one can see what lies beneath just yet. It begins to make its deliveries inside.

One box, then a second are deposited on the stone floor of the building, one of the only places in all of Yami-ichi with no surplus of neons and lights. The corner the boxes lie in is dim, with only a singular overhead LED that feels like a sunburn the minute the tarp is ripped off. Something bangs on the top of the box. It rattles like metal, because this isn’t a box.

It’s a cage.

“Work pants on, hybrid! It’s showtime!”

There’s a light whirring sound as your eyes slowly peel open, your power-up process moving through your body in a light show of blue wires and veins crisscrossing beneath your skin. Your limbs are stiff and the metal in your left leg groans as you uncurl from the ball you’ve formed in the corner, squinting in the bright light.

Your voice is hoarse and carries an undertone of copper that doesn’t feel like you. “Where am I?”

“Don’t speak,” says the man, who doesn’t even look at you as he opens a compartment in the bot that delivered you, mashes a few buttons, and sends it on its way for another job, “We’ll mute you for the show if you make a scene.”

“Where am I?” You repeat, hands reaching up to curl around the bars of the cage. Skin touching skin, and metal touching metal, “Where is my owner?”

The man frowns. “Hm. You must’ve not had your chips wiped properly. You’re not supposed to remember that you had an owner.”

“Where is she? What have you done with her?”

“It’s not what I’ve done with her, it’s what she’s done with you,” he says sneeringly, leaning down to be eye-level with you and reaching through the bars to tap at the faux skin coating stitched to hide your robotic eye, “She returned you, idiot. She wasn’t satisfied with your service. Normally the boss would just have you dismantled for proving to be a faulty hybrid, but your previous owner specifically wanted you resold. And lucky for you, you’re here just in time for the auction.”

You blink owlishly, confused. The mechanisms that make you work whir a little louder as your brain starts to chug. “She wasn’t satisfied with my service? But I thought I’d been very satisfactory.”

“She said you were whiny, plez,” he says, “Complained too much about what she wanted you to do to her. So she returned you and bought a different model. Now seriously, quit talking. I don’t feel like digging through your mainframe to find your mute button.”

“It’s on the back of my neck with my chip motherboard, sir,” you tell him, “Would you like me to mute myself?”

“Would I like—? Uh, no, I guess not? Just don’t talk. Maybe they did wipe you and just didn’t finish the job. You’re behaving far better than the boss thought you would. Speaking of which, she should be here any second. Sit still and don’t go anywhere.”

Your head tilts to the side. “I’m in a cage, sir. I cannot go anywhere—“

“f*cking hell, I forgot how much you hybrids take everything seriously. It was a joke, plez.”

“Oh,” you nod, “My apologies, sir.”

He chuckles, not that you have any idea what he finds funny, and exits the room, leaving you alone with the other pleasure model in the cage next to you, but it hasn’t been powered on yet and only sits slumped against the bars with eyes shut.

His assumption that your memory chip hadn’t been wiped was wrong. Trying to remember how you got here is about as easy as trying to remember where and when you were born. But something must’ve gone wrong during the process, because you’ve at least retained vague memories of your previous owner, not to mention some of the things she wanted the two of you to do together.

Figuring out how you ended up like this is something much harder to achieve. You’ve been a pleasure model for as long as you can possibly remember, a hybrid with both robotic and human parts deliberately designed to be a sex toy for the highest buyer. Your anatomy is interchangeable, your hands and other body parts can vibrate, you have power cells meant to keep you going for tens of rounds longer than the average human is supposed to. All of you has been carefully curated for intimacy; Pl-ez Model V13. That’s probably why the man from before called you ‘plez’.

Your entire left leg, one of your hands, half of your face, one of your eyes, parts of your arm, hips, thighs and stomach have all been replaced with robotic parts, as well as things on the inside. Some of you is blood and veins, some of you is wires and circuits, intertwined so that all of you is the perfect machine. Your exterior robotics have been outfitted with faux skin prices, sewed into your real skin so as to give you the appearance of a human, because your very existence is against the law and if the Japanese government found you, you would likely be dismantled and scrapped.

It’s not the first time that you’ve been down here, and now that the man from before has mentioned a show, you think you’re recognizing where you are. Tucked into the back of an auction house deep in the throws of the Yami-ichi, you are a commodity about to be sold to the highest bidder.

Your chest whirs a little louder as pain strikes somewhere behind your breast. Your previous owner mentioned that she thought you might have a malfunctioning piece of hardware somewhere inside, but clearly she either didn’t mention it to the auctioneers or they weren’t able to fix it. Probably the former, as your price would’ve dropped had they known you were broken. Perhaps the malfunctioning piece is part of the reason you’ve been returned.

You’re not sure how many times you’ve been sold, if your previous owner was the first or if there had been more before her. You’re not even sure when you were built, though from what you know about hybrids and their purpose, you at least know you hadn’t become this by choice. You can’t imagine anyone wanting such a life.

But it hadn’t been all bad. Your previous owner was kind to you outside of the bedroom, at least. And for the most part you were allowed to go where you pleased so long as you always kept your faux skin on and always returned the second she called. Like a creature on a leash, your freedom was yours until she was in the mood to claim it back for herself. You can only hope your next owner is the same.

Slow, carefully

Slow, carefully

The door from before swings open, and your head turns to watch a rather plain-looking woman enter the room. Her hair is brown, styled into a bob with curly ends, her eyes a matching shade, cheeks dusted with heavy blush to turn them pink. With how eclectic and unusual people tend to look these days, it’s almost odd to see someone resembling how humans used to be.

“What’s this I hear about a half-wipe? Have you been resisting your superiors?” She demands.

“No, Uraraka,” you answer, dipping your head in submission, hands clasped neatly in your lap, “I don’t know why the wipe wasn’t completed in its entirety. There’s few things I remember.”

“Well, at least I know you’re not programmed to lie to me,” she says, thumbing at her skin in frustration, “I don’t have time to send you through a second wipe, you’re my headliner and the show starts in just a few minutes. But you were always one of my well-behaved hybrids. Can I trust you to keep all traces of your memory to yourself, V13?”

“Yes, ma’am,” you nod, “Perhaps if the highest bidder is willing, you could delay my delivery long enough for a second wipe after I’m sold.”

She smiles approvingly. “Excellent idea, there’s my good girl. Come, get out of that cage so I can fix you up. I have several buyers who are very interested in your model in particular.”

Uraraka has had one of her hands replaced with robotic parts, done up with technology that allows her to digitize her belongings inside it so she doesn’t have to carry them. Holding up her palm, there’s a sparkle of light as a set of keys materializes in her hand, and she unlocks the door of the cage.

It swings open and you crawl out, rising to your full height above her. She brushes some dust off your plating, makes a few touch ups to your hair and clothes, ensures that the shape of you is obvious and tantalizing. The top of your breasts peek from your scanty outfit, pants forgone in favor of some pathetic pair of bottoms that barely covers your interchangeable genitals. The only thing that provides even a small amount of cover is the cloak tied about your neck, hood down but accessible so you can easily go home with your buyer without being seen. She orders you to stay in “female mode”, which means most of the buyers outside are probably male. You’re not sure how excited you are at the prospect of being owned by a man.

“Let’s get your chips checked. Turn around,” she orders, and you obey, tilting your head down to allow her to pop open a small square of plating on the back of your neck. There’s an odd collection of buttons and switches, all designed to make your body do different things, and right next to your mute button is a chip interface with five slots, designed so that information can be loaded onto the harddrives in the chips, then transferred to your mainframe. Three of the slots are filled.

“Good, the service chips are still properly installed,” she taps on of the chips, the faintest of tremors traveling your spine at the odd sensation, “What is this? Looks like they installed a combat chip in you. You’re not a fighting model, V13.”

“Yes, ma’am,” you agree, “My previous owner was very paranoid that someone would discover my existence. She downloaded and installed the combat chip so that I could protect her from any attempts to punish her for the crime. I was never required to use the chip, so I’m not sure what all it contains.”

Uraraka frowns, contemplating a moment before shrugging and shutting the plate with a soft click. “I’d take it out, but there’s an extra ten grand right there if I can advertise you with combat prospects, too. Anyway, they did a half-assed job at wiping you, but at least they properly charged your cells and re-oiled you. You’re ready for the stage, my dear.”

The insincerity of her apparent fondness for you is palpable, not that you are programmed to desire her approval in any way. In fact, if it weren’t for the anatomy you’ve been given and the assets to know what to do with it, you wouldn’t be much different from the bot that delivered you here.

Uraraka has been in this business for a long time, and as such she’s gotten smart when it comes to how to make a worthwhile hybrid. Hearts are the first to go, replaced with an engine that keeps all of you running the exact same, except without any pesky emotions that could get in the way of you obeying orders. Your brain is some off mix of tissue and metal, certain parts removed while others were kept so that you weren’t a completely helpless fool, but also didn’t have the capacity for much critical thinking beyond what was asked of you. Smart enough to follow orders and solve what problems you were supposed to solve, but with all senses of independence stripped out.

The rest of you is a neatly ordained concoction of blood running through veins, electricity through wire, criss-crossing and intertwining into the perfect system. The juice provided by your power cells is like a booster for your blood, making you stronger and faster than the average human and giving you the necessary energy to never say no to another round. Your faux skin is soft to the touch and sewn so carefully that it’s almost impossible to tell that it’s there, and in a few places the wires run so close to the surface of your skin that you can see them glowing blue from time to time, pulsing as your machinery runs. These places are very carefully kept hidden beneath your clothes.

“Showtime, V13,” Uraraka says. Another pair of people that you don’t know appear to start preparing the other pleasure model, but you don’t have time to talk to him before she’s ushering you out of the room and down the hall. The muffled noise of music and chatter gets a little louder as you approach the front door and step out, separated from the stage by a collection of ratty red tarps. Uraraka leans close over your shoulder, voice like a gust of wind into your ear as she whispers, “Make me some money.”

It’s not an encouragement. That you know. It’s a threat. If you fail to be sold after you’ve already proved yourself worth returning, your future is one of garbage disposals and scraps of metal. Uraraka grins like your death means nothing and shoves you out onto the stage.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

Purple neons that would be blinding if your robotic eye didn’t hyper-adjust to the light, pupil dilating while your real eye slowly follows suit. Your head is high, shoulders squared, staring straight ahead the way you’ve been programmed to as the sounds of the crown flood with renewed energy, oohing and awing at you in the bright getup you wear. Not a hair out of place, with a face sculpted to perfection with makeup, eye color and outfit highlighted by your eyeshadow, eyeliner making you look sharp and scandalous the way you’re always supposed to be.

Vibrant stage lights spring to life just before your feet, furthering drowning you in shades of purple and pink. Flashes of faces hidden beneath the pull of hoods. Unintelligible shouts of command for you to display this part of you or show off that part of you. Shaking hands anxious to rise skyward the moment the first bidding is called. The outfits in the crowd are almost as luxurious as yours. Hybrid-dealing is not a cheap business.

Uraraka walks out close behind you, clearing her throat into a microphone as her empty hand rests on your shoulder. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you our newest, finest model: Pl-ez Model V13! Isn’t she a pretty one?”

She reaches around to tug your top a little lower, exposing more of your pristine flesh as a few whistles of approval sound from the crowd. Your engine whirs and clanks as you avoid the subtle urge to look around, face remaining impassive and body still the way you are meant to.

“Now,” Uraraka goes on, the speakers crackling a little, “This is one of our newest models, featuring only the latest in vibration technology! Her anatomy is interchangeable, ready to fit whatever fantasies your heart may desire, and with four premium vibranium power cells, no amount of intimacy will tire her out! Enjoy the feel of human skin and connection, or remove the faux skin pieces if a metallic touch is something you’re into! The size and shape of her anatomy is customizable to make a perfect fit, and with two mainframe chips designed for pleasure and service, there is no task she can’t complete. f*ck the night away and have her clean up for you in the morning, keep the house tidy for you while you’re away, she can do it all!

“And, as an added bonus, this model in particular also comes with an additional combat chip! Should it interest you, she can participate in hybrid fight rings or act as a personal bodyguard for you in public. Almost everything about her is customizable, from the style of her hair down to the color of her wires and machinery. If you don’t like something, stop by our auto shop and have her repainted or even redesigned! Nothing is out of reach.”

Whispers of conversation breach your ears, little comments here and there about the way you look, what they’d like to see you do, what they want to do to you themselves. You are impervious to it all, programmed perfection, until the very moment that something starts to feel strange in your chest.

You don’t feel much pain. Given the nature of those who find themselves in the hybrid-dealing business, it was better that you were programmed not to feel things like that. The only reason you’re allowed to feel pain at all is so it can be used as an indicator that someone is performing rough enough to damage your parts, but it would take a lot of effort to reach that point.

As such, there is no plausible reason why your chest should be hurting the way it is now. Your internal processor whirs and spins as it tries to pinpoint the source of the problem, because now is quite possibly the worst time that your engine could be malfunctioning. It isn’t the first time you’ve felt like this, and now that you’re feeling it again, it makes more sense that your previous owner returned you. A malfunction of this magnitude won’t be easy or cheap to fix.

Sensations of panic are unfamiliar to you, but if there was ever a time to do it, it would be now. Your fingertips twitch with the inexplicable urge to move, pieces of your silver plating shifting back and forth against each other without your permission. If your engine continues to act up, it may cause other parts of your robotics to falter, and should Uraraka notice it, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be deemed unfixable and scrapped.

You take the smallest of steps to one side, unaware of the movement until a sharp slap against the back of your arm moves you back into place. Uraraka shoots you a sharp glance, subtle enough for those in the crowd not to notice you, but you know what it means. It’s another warning.

The shouts of the crowds get louder. Your body is beginning to feel hot, like something is overheating or working in overdrive to make up for whatever is happening to your engine. You could almost feel the way it’s sputtering and kicking inside you. But if you asked Uraraka to put you through repairs before selling you, given all the other trouble you’ve caused for her, she’d likely deem you more work than worth and have you sent to the nearest junkyard.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

It’s not in your programming to ever be out of breath, or sweat. Yet you find yourself panting anyway, the back of your neck hot and damp under the blaring lights.

People are starting to notice the slight wriggle of your fingers, the restlessness of your legs. Strange looks and whispers are passed throughout the crowd, but when Uraraka starts the bid with a ridiculously high number— higher than you were sold to your previous owner— there are still plenty of hands that launch into the air. Eager to buy. Eager to make a meal of you.

Uraraka knocks the bid higher. Hands rise. Higher. They rise. Eyes are hungry when they meet yours. You are an object, and it’s never been clearer than when standing on this stage. One of the patrons calls out a request to see you naked. Uraraka declines, but only because it would be a hassle to remove your outfit.

Your memories of your previous owner, foggy as they are, are not fond. The struggle of your busted engine trying to keep up with her treatment of you in bed surely must’ve hurt the way this does.

“It looks like we’re down to one final hand! Any other buyers, speak now or forever hold your peace! Going once!”

You can barely hear the crowd over the sound of your own mechanics running. The man with his hand in the air wears a sad*stic grin. When he discovers that you are broken, his treatment will not be kind. You don’t remember how you were made, but you’re smart enough to know the shape of a scrap machine.

“Going twice!”

Your engine aches. Is it death if only part of you is human enough to die?

I won’t, won’t tell nobody


You take off running.

“Hey!” Uraraka shouts, “Get back here! Stop her!”

Leaping off the edge of the low stage, you hit the ground and shove through the crowd, tearing away from pathetic grabs at your limbs. One of the patrons managed to rip a few of the finely sewn threads from the skin on your arm, but this pain you don’t notice. All you feel is the potent and almost violent surging of your engine, ears ringing with shouts and yells from behind you.

Skinny service bots line the edge of the crowd, acting as security as one opens its arms to stop you, but your mainframe reacts for you as you co*ck your arm back and launch a fist into its face, smashing the metal in. Sparks of electricity jump from its busted motherboard as it collapses into a heap. You jump over its fallen body and take off running down an alleyway.

A quick glance over your shoulder reveals that you’re being pursued by a collection of men, including the one you met when you first woke up. You’re faster than them, but you don’t know where you are, much less where you’re supposed to go. All you know is that this act of insubordination has condemned you to the scrapyard if you’re caught.

Your metal leg whirs and clanks as you sprint along the street, blindly pushing passerby out of the way, yanking trash cans and boxes down behind you in the hopes it will slow your pursuers. Your cloak flutters behind you and you yank up the hood, uncertain of whether any law exists in this place. Better not to be recognized as a hybrid if you can, though your outfit certainly isn’t sparing you any curious eyes.

“Quit running, hybrid!” Shouts the man from before, somewhere behind you, “The more you run, the worse you make it for yourself!”

Your programming urges you to listen. But there is still a part of you human enough to possess some concept of death. Maybe if you turned around now, they’d be kind enough to simply dismantle and rebuild you into something that knows better than to run away. But even if they were, you’re not sure a new version of you would still be you.

You round an alley corner only to find a man with a raised fist waiting for you. But your processing unit is advanced enough to speed up your reflexes, and with the combat chip it’s easy to duck beneath and raise your metal leg, kicking him in the chest hard enough to knock him clear backwards into the side of a dumpster. You deny your programming the obedience of helping him and continue running instead.

Your robotic eye is equipped with several variations of scanners and useful interfaces, heat sensors and night vision and more. All of them are active and working at full capacity to try to locate a place to hide, and while running, your skid to a halt in the entrance of a dead-end alley, scanner zooming in and out.

A bot you recognize as the one to deliver you here is driving a small, motorized cart. But you don’t care much about the cart. What you care about is the massive metal pipe it’s driving into. You’re aware that the Yami-Ichi is a hidden world, and that the city is somewhere above it. Surely this must be how you reach your freedom.

Sprinting forward, you slip past the side of the cart and take off into the darkness, a flashlight inside of your right eye clicking on to light your way. The thunders of footsteps behind you ensures you’ve been seen entering this pipe, and judging from the panic in the voices of those that yell for you, you’re assuming you’re heading the right way. The bot in the cart is not programmed to give a sh*t about you. All it does is continue to drive on.

Making your way through the twists and turns of the pipe, you reach a sharp ninety degree angle… and nothing but a wall of metal. You’re cornered and there is no way forward. Turning around the face the approaching men, you surmise that you’ll have to fight them until the bot and the cart arrive and reveal how you’re supposed to get through.

Backing up, you press your hands flat to the wall behind you, ears picking up the sound of a soft click as a square of the wall gives and shifts inward beneath your hands. There’s a deep rumble that rattles in your ears as the bolts on the outside of the pipe unscrew, and the men have just rounded the nearest corner as the pipe folds itself upward and allows you to get out.

“Hybrid!” Shouts Uraraka, heading the group, “You’d better not go through that pipe! I’ll have you pulverized for this!”

You stumble backward and fall flat on your ass, scrambling back a few feet before rolling over and taking off once again. You’re back in the city of lights and the sounds of music get louder the higher you run up the road, but never are you not aware of Uraraka and her men behind you.

When I find myself next to the

Don’t you forget about me

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

You’ve been running for so long that your engine is struggling to keep up, and the cloak you wear is the only thing hiding the ardent glow of your wires under your skin. They flash in colors of blue, dotted with the occasional red thanks to the combat chip in your mainframe. Not even you can run forever, and you know that. If your engine doesn’t give out on you, your power cells will deplete eventually, which means you have to get far enough away to hide yourself before they do.

The outfit isn’t doing you any favors. With as colorful and scanty as it is, the only places you even remotely look like you fit in are the clubs and bars. You consider trying to slip away into the crowd of the nearest one, but it’s too much of a risk that someone will realize that you’re a hybrid, and then you’ll have the government on your backs alongside Uraraka. It will be a guessing game of who finds you first. The best idea you have is to continue running until you locate a part of town barren enough to keep you hidden.

But then what? Clothes you can change, but without Uraraka’s auto shop and repair team there’s no telling how long you’ve got before your engine damage becomes irreparable, or your faux skin comes undone and needs to be fixed. Addressing either of these issues to anyone means revealing yourself as a hybrid, and it’s never certain that you can trust anyone enough to keep that a secret so they can help you.

How long do you think you’re going to survive on your own, with the threat of capture in every direction and the constant looming anticipation that your disguise will fail at any moment? How long does a hybrid have in a city built against you?

Time doesn’t exist here the same way as it does in the sun, but work zones require a schedule nonetheless. It figures that you’d manage to find your way up here during one of the most crowded times, where people are flooding from the bars to start returning home or to work, or wherever it is they belong. Many of the businesses are already closed, limiting the number of hiding places you have, and now you’re stuck in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd barely moving fast enough to take a step.

Someone grabs your arm. You rip away from the touch, further tearing your faux skin as you tuck that arm beneath your cloak. One of Uraraka’s men is right behind you, fighting his way through the crowd just as you are. But the difference is that he’s much bigger, and it’s easier for him to get through. You’re reaching the edge of the crowd, hoping to slip along the building and shopfronts where there’s fewer people to get in your way.

But he’s catching up. He shouts the human name you’ve been assigned, because not even he is stupid enough to call you a hybrid in public. If anyone notices the commotion, no one says a thing.

You round a corner, thinking you’ve managed to evade him. Then a hand clamps itself over your mouth, and you’re drug inside a building as the door slams shut. Your wires glow red as you struggle against your assailant blindly, plating shifting and gears grinding with your attempts to escape.

“Shh,” says an unfamiliar voice, one hand over your mouth while the other grips around your shoulders to keep you still, “They didn’t see you come in. Be quiet.”

You slowly go still, and sure enough, there’s a thunder of footsteps just outside as Uraraka’s men fly right by the door, shouting that you’ve disappeared off in a different direction. They don’t know where you are. You’ve been provided a place to hide.

A few seconds of tense silence pass before you’re finally released, immediately turning around and backing up against the wall to face your attacker. But what’s confusing is that he’s got you alone, and is making no attempts to attack you.

“It’s okay,” he soothes, “You’re safe now.”

He’s human as far as you can tell. Tall, muscular around the shoulders and in his legs and arms, but his eyes are compassionate and surprisingly gentle. His hair is red like fire and matches his eyes, and his clothing is oddly normal compared to the dark, identity-protecting hoods and cloaks of Uraraka’s men. Behind him stands another man, slightly shorter and leaner in stature with blond hair and sharp red eyes.

“Who are you?” You ask.

“My name is Kirishima Eijirou,” the man explains softly, “This is my husband, Bakugou Katsuki. We saw you being chased by those guys through our window, trying to grab you and stuff. I don’t know why you were running, but it didn’t look good. I’ve heard of people being kidnapped for trafficking rings around here, and you’re not exactly dressed like someone who got in trouble for stealing or something, so…”

He trails off, scratching his head a bit awkwardly. You’ve already scanned him for some sort of weapon and found none, and the heat signatures put off by him and his partner prove they’re both fully human. He’s done a kind thing and hidden you from danger by no one’s volition of his own, but by no means is that enough for you to trust him with what you really are.

“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” you say. Your programming permits you from lying, but it doesn’t permit you from carefully spinning your words to offer a concealing truth, “Yes, I don’t think those men wanted me for anything good. Thank you for hiding me, I admit I didn’t have any idea where I was going to go to get away. You might’ve just saved my life.”

He shakes his head in disapproval. “People can do such horrible things. I’m sorry this happened to you.”

“How’d you get wrapped up in all that sh*t anyway?” The other man, Bakugou, asks, “Have too much fun at the club and catch a bad eye or something?”

“No, I was—“ Your engine sputters, and you hesitate for but a moment— “I was gonna be sold to the highest bidder in Yami-Ichi. But I got away.”

It’s not the whole truth, but it’s enough. Sympathy is a foreign commodity that you don’t recognize at first when it appears on Kirishima’s face. “You were in Yami-Ichi? I’ve heard of that place but I didn’t know it was real. f*ck, that sounds terrible. I’m really sorry again. Um, you’re welcome to stay here for a while and lay low until it’s safe enough for you to go back home.”

You nod rather than admit that you don’t have a home to go back to, not that he seems to notice such a discretion. Bakugou, however, is inspecting you a lot more closely, one of his eyebrows twitching up in subtle intrigue. “Thank you, sir.”

“It’s very polite of you, but you don’t have to call either of us that. What’s your name?”

Pl-ez Model V13 is what’s been engraved into your mainframe. But all you say is, “Y/n L/n.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” he says with a smile. He certainly seems to be the more talkative one in this relationship, “Though I wish it could’ve been in better circ*mstances. Do you live around here? Maybe Katsuki and I can walk you home when you’re ready, just to make sure no one’s lurking around.”

“I think I should be able to get around on my own, but thank you,” you glance over your shoulder towards the door, tucking your cloak close around your body protectively, “How long do you think I should wait before I can leave? I wouldn’t want to burden you by staying here.”

Kirishima waves his hand dismissively. “No, don’t worry about that. We both just got off work so we have plenty of time before we have to be anywhere, and we haven’t had kids yet so our second room is still empty. You’re welcome to stay as long as you need, right Katsuki?”

He nods, though he certainly doesn’t look as excited for the prospect of a guest as his husband. “We’ve got food, if you’re hungry. Dunno if they fed you down in Yami-Ichi.”

You keep your eyes on the door. Your engine has calmed somewhat since entering this building, but the dull ache of it is still there, somewhere inside. “No, sir. I’m not hungry.”

“Well, how about a change of clothes?” Kirishima offers, “It’ll be a lot harder to spot you when you leave in something a little more… well, I hate to say normal, but…”

You tilt your head at him. “This outfit wasn’t chosen by me. Call it whatever you would like.”

“Oh. Well in that case, it’s kind of ugly,” he says, then his eyes widen, “Not that you’re ugly, by any means! That’s not what I meant! You’re very pretty, it’s just the outfit is very loud but I suppose that makes sense if people were trying to make you look marketable down there in Yami-Ichi—“

“Learn when to stop, Ei,” Bakugou mutters.

“Sorry,” Kirishima apologizes, cheeks dusted with a light flush of embarrassment, “Sorry, I should’ve phrased that better. My bad.”

“It’s alright, Kirishima. I’m not offended. But different clothes would be helpful in protecting my identity, yes. Thank you.”

“Of course! And you don’t have to keep thanking me, it’s really no trouble,” he says, “Let me go find something of Katsuki’s, I think my clothes will be too big. Here, um, why don’t you have a seat? I bet you’ve been running for a while, you’re probably tired.”

Tired is something you don’t know the sensation of, not even now, but you obey his unintentional command nevertheless, sitting in the center cushion of a small brown couch. Kirishima disappears down the hall while Bakugou takes a seat across from you, watching you as you survey his apartment.

You’re strange, he’s noticing quickly. You’re sitting with your back straight and head raised, hands clasped very neatly in your lap and cloak drawn tight around your body. The hood of it droops over your eyes, but even inside you don’t bother pulling it down. Your breasts sit quite pretty in whatever weird top they’ve forced you to wear.

But more so than your appearance, he’s paying attention to the oddly calculated and smooth nature of your movements, eyes moving back and forth in continuous, fluid motions rather than flicking from side to side. You keep calling them sir when they already said you didn’t have to. Every inch of you is almost ominously still, save for the soft movements of your head swiveling about on your shoulders. No anxiously tapping foot, no fiddling fingers, you’ve just escaped a life of sex trafficking and unimaginable horrors and you don’t look phased by it at all.

A normal person would probably be crying, or still look at least somewhat stressed out. But your face is calm, and the way you talk is so consistent and almost monotonous. Something about you isn’t normal. He can feel it.

“Where do you live?” He pries, casually enough that it comes across as idle conversation.

“Not here,” you say simply.

“Okay, then where?”

Trying to work your way around your own programming may prove to be more difficult than hiding your very appearance. “I don’t know. The people that took me wiped most of my memories, I’m not sure how. I’ll probably have to wander for a while to figure out where I belong.”

“Do you remember where you work?”

“No, sir.”

His eyes narrow. “Well, what do you remember?”

You hesitate again, and maybe he’s just being paranoid, but he could swear that one of your eyes just flickered with something inhuman. He’s never met a hybrid, but he knows what they are, and he knows what they tend to masquerade as when they’re trying to avoid the government. You’re scrambling for a response that doesn’t reveal too much, and for once you’re not coming up with any good answers.


“Hey, so I think these should fit you alright,” Kirishima says as he re-enters the room, unintentionally saving you once again as you immediately rise to meet him. In his hands is a simple pair of trousers and a black shirt, “Is this okay, or do you want something different? We don’t dress in anything super fancy most of the time.”

“This works perfectly, thank you,” you tell him, taking the clothes from his outstretched hands.

“There’s a bathroom down the hall to the right where you can change,” he says, gesturing over his shoulder.

You nod, but don’t get more than one step before Bakugou’s voice stops you. “Give me your cloak and I’ll hang it up.”

“I can take it with me, it’s no trouble,” you say.

“Give me your cloak,” he repeats simply, and when you turn around you find him closer than you thought he was, all but looming over you as he mocks your words right back at you, “It’s no trouble.”

It’s a command. You are programmed to obey. With a small swallow, you reach up to unclasp the cloak, pulling it off and balling it into his hand. He doesn’t move, and you’re just beginning to turn around, thinking yourself safe, when he suddenly grabs your arm.

“I knew it,” he snarls. Yanking your arm upward, he twists it around to reveal the place where your faux skin had torn, peeling up just enough to reveal a hint of metal.

He reaches out and yanks it all the way off, and the sight of it close up makes it easier to tell the difference between it and your real skin as he grabs the edge of your facial piece and rips it off, too. Kirishima’s eyes are wide— clearly he never expected such a discovery.

Silver, glinting metal plates. Wires glowing bright red in alarm. Blinking buttons and switches on the control panel on your arm. A robotic eye that shifts and rolls inside its socket. You found your way around your programming in your words, but it wasn’t enough for such perceptive eyes. You can’t get yourself to move.

I won’t, won’t tell nobody

“We just let a f*cking hybrid into our apartment.”

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