Whatever hell-demon had wished her here had no intention of sending her back.
But it was her power that had drained, her mind that had wanted. Kimiko Midoriya had sent herself into the heart of a villain hideout and she wasn't getting out alive.
"Little girl," said a slithering voice, "how exactly did you get here?"
She had to look up, but fear kept her still. She had to speak, but her mouth had run dry.
"This is stupid," snapped a female voice. "Just kill the thing and move on."
Kimiko's breath stuttered. No-!
"Shigaraki might want her. You know how he likes to collect."
"Ugh, whatever. Knock her out and decide later."
It was with a terrified certainty in her heart that she forced her trembling gaze off of the floor. Noticing her stare, the man flicked his gaze over to meet hers. He smiled. Kimi's legs went weak. He wasn't a villain she recognized, and she couldn't exactly pull out her notebook to check.
"Her eyes are awfully pretty," remarked the female. "Ichiro would want them for his collection. Hey Ichiro! Get your ass over here!"
"What's all the commotion?" called a silky voice from another room. Soft, predatorial footsteps approached.
Kimiko bolted, but the male villain crossed the distance in an instant. He yanked her back by her collar and threw her to the floor. The impact was brutal, bruising. The sheer desperateness of the situation – the fear – the pain – sent tears springing to the corners of Kimi's eyes. The other man, Ichiro, had arrived. There were villains on all sides of her, and there was nowhere to run. Her power, that cold, unfathomable beast beneath her skin, had gone dormant, and there was no hope that Kimi could summon to bring it back to life.
She wanted to stay on the floor. Wanted to curl up and bury her head in her arms and hide her tears from the world. She was just ten; ten years old and slow, weak, and exceptionally easy to kill.
The villains were talking amongst themselves, but the thrum of her heartbeat drowned them out. "Shigaraki might want her" they had said. Where would they take her? What would become of her? She didn't want to know- didn't want to find out what they did to little girls with strange quirks.
Kimiko rose on shaky legs. She would die trying to escape, but rather that than whatever they had planned for her.
One way or another, this place would be her tomb.
"I dunno," drawled the villain Ichiro. "Do we really want to bother Shigaraki with this?"
"We need money, and it's worth a shot."
"Ah well. Fair enough."
It was a mixture of paranoia and sheer luck that had her head rotate just enough to catch a flash of movement in the corner of her vision. The terror within her exploded, sending her launching forwards. Something smooth and scaly brushed against her ear and she flinched away, stumbling.
"Damn," hissed the woman. A night-cloaked serpent wove back around her outstretched arm.
"Useless," the male villain remarked casually. He advanced on Kimi with a slow, easy gait. She stumbled backwards and tried to dart to a side, but Ichiro was there with a feline smile and a gleaming six-inch knife. Her breath caught and she scrambled away, giving a start when her back hit the wall.
Cornered. Like an animal. Trapped prey about to die. The crashing fear was dizzying, crushing the breath from her lungs. A sob built in her throat and she was choking on the fear, the despair. Lazily, the villain rolled his shoulder and wound back an arm-
Well you know what they say about cornered rats.
Half-mad with terror, Kimiko threw herself aside. Silver flashed, and that beautiful six-inch blade came cleaving down. She rolled and sprang up, darting around Ichiro and swerving away from the serpent-woman.
"Idiots!" the woman hissed. The black snake unravelled itself from her arm.
Ichiro plowed after her, his sleek predator's build catching up with ease. A line of hot pain dragged itself down her back, and Kimi whirled just in time to see the knife surge towards her again. There was no time to dodge; it swept towards her like death itself gliding on shadowed wings, and she squeezed her eyes shut, throwing out a hand–
The fiery, soul-shattering pain did not come. There was only the sensation of smooth leather and a comfortable weight in her hand.
Her eyes fearfully fluttered open. The knife was in her hands, piercing the knuckles of the villain who'd held it, though it was only surprise that had made him freeze. That hadn't been a carefully-planned, cohesive wish, but one borne from the overwhelming, frenzied desire to live.
And now she cradled the power of death in her hands.
Even in a world full of explosion-creating hands and fists that could shatter brick walls, it was the knife -such a raw weapon of murder- that caused her to think danger, to think about life and death and how frail the human heart really was. It was dangerous and horrible and utterly beautiful to Kimi, who wasn't going to die here.
She was not going to die. Her mom was going to see her child again, damnit.
Flashing forwards, she struck with an unprecedented viciousness. Ichiro snapped out of his microsecond-long surprise, back arching and shoulders tensing, preparing to meet her head on. Then Kimi swerved with the natural dexterity of a child, feeling nothing but the thundering of her heart in her ears and the blade in her hands.
The villain was turning, just a single beat behind her, but it would be enough– it would have to be enough. She planted her feet and jumped, timing it with the exact moment he'd catch up and face her.
A fist came up to sucker punch her in the gut, but her blade was already moving, slicing through flesh with a feeling of satisfying resistance to her hands; a sort of sick satisfaction that Kimiko wasn't powerless- she had power, and she was going to live.
The knife was in his throat. It was in his throat, there was blood and he was screaming-
It was a single moment of horror clashing with defiance where her whole world focused on the collapsing form of the villain; a man with platinum blond hair framing his face, carefully sculpted aristocratic features, high cheekbones and pale, star-like eyes.
It completely clashed with her image of villains: evil-looking brutes with faces twisted in ugly emotion. But the person fallen at her feet was beautiful, and it was like she'd just slain an angel- she'd killed and that was a horrible, horrible fact that she'd have to live with for the rest of her life.
Those realizations and flashes of heart-wrenching emotions had her frozen for just a second, and it was one second too long. Her mind was forcibly snapped back to her situation as a fist slammed into her jaw at an impossible speed.
Something in her jaw gave with a sickening crunch, and that something was small and smooth as it fell onto her tongue– a tooth, she realized, a sob catching in her throat. Oh god, that's my tooth. She spat it out along with a thick red liquid that expelled itself from her jaw; she'd bitten through her cheek.
It hurt. It really hurt. Her cheek throbbed, silently screaming in agony. Her back was on fire, her clothes wet with blood, and her heart was writhing, wanting so desperately to wish the hurt away, just a quick, easy wish-
No, Kimiko told herself with all the fierceness a ten-year-old could muster. She needed to save her wishes on things that would help her escape, and the gash on her back was shallow enough to miss anything important.
Her gaze turned to man that dared call itself human; a frail, fragile human with smooth unblemished skin.
I can change that.
And then the sob burst from her throat in a long, drawn-out wail as she drove the blade, her lifeline, forwards. She was crying as she flailed the knife about, outright shrieking and screaming her throat hoarse with her unending desperation and blinding terror. Her small frame wasn't built for grappling, but the knife gave it a lethal edge as it tore through flesh as easily as it would through butter.
Kimiko Midoriya wasn't vicious by nature, but she was fighting for life in her own tomb, flailing for air when there was none to be found. She was fully aware of the maddened haze that had enveloped her, but then a wisp of death stroked the edges of her mind and she found that she didn't really care.
Die, die, die, was the mantra roaring through her head as she jerked the knife back and adjusted her two-handed grip on the handle. She screamed again, the sound raw as it tore itself from her throat, and she drove the knife in- again, again, and again into his heart.
He might've been howling in pain, but it couldn't have trumped the ear-splitting screams that must've been exploding from her mouth; Kimi would never know, as it was all just a distant sound to her ears.
There was a sudden, terror-struck moment of hyper-focus when she heard the sound of hissing.
Kimi burst into movement, but her legs tangled around the snake that had wound itself around her. She jerked her feet away, breaking into a sprint. The fear gave her speed, though not grace, and it was all she could do to slide to a stop before she tumbled down a flight of stairs.
Kimiko glanced back. The serpent streaked towards her, its master not far behind.
The wind whizzed through her hair, ripping away her breath. She hit the ground hard, a ragged yelp bursting from her lips. Both legs twisted at awkward angles from the impact, and blind pain ricocheted up her knees.
The serpent carefully wound its way down the stairs, its sleek body rippling. The female villain followed after with murder in her eyes.
Kimi took several backwards steps, not quite daring to turn her back on the snake or the woman. Her heart was some rabid beast, roaring and trying to claw out its way out of her chest. The woman collected her serpent in her arms with a sort of loving caress. She smiled–
And threw it.
The serpent's body flattened out, jaw unhinging as it latched itself onto Kimi's arm before she could react. In a blind panic, she swung the knife and lopped off the rest of its body.
The woman screamed.
The venom worked quickly, paralyzing the arm. She swung it with her shoulder, shaking off the snake, and broke into a run.
BANG. The air rippled with movement, Kimi's eyes barely tracking a bullet that shot past her ear. Every step sent pain shooting up her leg into her hip, but sheer unadulterated fear sent her sprinting forward nonetheless.
Kimi ducked into another room – a kitchen? – and dove behind a counter. The villains had used the snake when they were trying to incapacitate her, but she didn't know of any non-lethal snake venom. It was probably slow-working paralysis venom that they had an antidote to.
Whatever it was, it had awoken the dormant power that now roared to life in her veins. It was less hope and more desperation that allowed her to wish, and feeling returned to her left arm. Just as quickly as it had come alive, her power mellowed, nearly completely drained.
One wish left.
There was the crisp step-step-step of the woman's gait, and a quick peek around the corner revealed the dual pistols in each of her hands. Kimiko only had one shot at this, and she wasn't going to be able to get close to the woman any other way, so...
The knife fell from her fingers.
I want a gun.
A small pistol materialized and Kimiko gripped it with the same intensity she was using to cling to life. She stayed quiet, listening intently to the woman's footsteps.
"Come out or the venom kills you," the woman snarled. Kimi remained deathly still. There were several beats of silence as the villain counted off the seconds. With a frustrated exhale, she resumed her advance. "Damn brat… probably keeled over and died before I could rip her to–"
Kimi stood up and fired.
The woman had nearly rounded the corner of the counter before the bullet to the chest sent her toppling backwards. But Kimi wasn't ready for the recoil which sent the gun slamming backwards into her nose, blood gushing out in the next moment.
The dying villain scrambled for the pistols that had scattered across the floor, but Kimi kicked her down, shoving her gun into her gut.
"Don't move or I blow your insides out," she snarled, desperation turning her voice feral. Her back was burning, her nose and cheek screaming, and there was nothing in her world but pain– brilliant, agonizing pain.
The woman said something pleading, but the roaring in Kimi's ears drowned it out. And it didn't matter what she said because she'd always planned to pull the trigger anyways. Villains were liars– they were liars, and the woman was going to kill her no matter what.
And Kimi wasn't going to die, so she would.
Blood and guts exploded in an omnidirectional blast, a piece of flesh smacking into her face with a sickening squelch. Red sprayed everywhere, staining her world a fierce vermillion. Kimi screamed, her stomach heaving, dropping the gun as if it burned.
She ran. She kept running and running, every step bringing blinding agony, until she was out of this god-forsaken place.
She gasped in the air of the outside world like a drowning man; she gulped it down, drinking it in as if she would never get to again. Then she kept running, throwing her small body forwards; her heart was wishing, wishing desperately for someone, anyone except those thrice-damned villains.
But there was no one.
She didn't get far before finally passing out.