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Izuku being Quirkless was bad enough - but then it got worse: a mad scientist with a Quirk that allowed him to transform people into data used him as his guinea pig for his invention, a device that could create a detailed simulation for data-ified people. Forced through a year of hell to survive, Izuku came out of the other end broken, traumatized and skilled beyond belief.

A few months later, he begins to deal with a new set of issues.

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Locked in Digital is a My Hero Academia fanfic by RogueDruid (Icarius51). It can be read on Archive of Our Own here.

For other fics by the same author, see Hero Class Civil Warfare and Horizon: Star Driven.

This fic contains examples of the following:

  • Action Pet: Koda ends up getting a lot of animal companions that he uses for hero-work.
    • Kuro, a hawk who was the first to join Koda because the bird is interested in Izuku, can be used for scouting and tracking.
    • Two more hawks, Spar and Corras, end up joining Kuro.
    • A snake named Seras also agrees to help Koda in heroing.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Being trapped in a virtual program for nearly a year to play nine horror games in a row while dying repeatedly doesn't give Izuku the best mental health when he finally comes back.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Shigaraki is smarter, having a more well-thought out plan for the USJ attack than he did in canon which allows him to at least partially succeed in his overall goals for the day and having better people skills so he could talk Stain into working with him.
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  • Adaptational Jerkass: While Mineta has never been the most heroic of 1A's students due to his perverted tendencies, there is an element of Fantastic Racism added to him, as shown by his multiple attempts to pick on Izuku for his Quirklessness.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Some of the students use different hero names than canon.
    • Aoyama chooses Cavalier instead of Can't Stop Twinkling.
    • Momo is Genesis instead of Creati.
    • Mina goes by Xeno rather than Pinky.
    • Kyoka chooses Ear Jacked rather than Earphone Jack.
    • Izuku takes the name Revenant rather than Deku.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Izuku: Instead of being the Nervous Wreck cinnamon roll he is in canon, he is instead quiet, distant, and Wise Beyond Their Years but at the cost of being a traumatized, borderline-sociopathic Blood Knight trying to rein that dark part in, though it comes out at times as a sarcastic, slightly sadistic streak.
    • Bakugou: His canon Jerkass and It's All About Me tendencies are greatly reduced, thanks to witnessing Izuku's simulation run. Having to watch his Quirkless "childhood friend" fighting for his life while getting stronger and cleverer, forces Bakugou to have a Heel Realization and acknowledge Izuku's strength, to the point where he will unconsciously look for Izuku's approval when he does something well. He also took the initiative to attend therapy and learn better self-control.
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    • Yaoyorozou: Downplayed example, but she becomes more confident, self-assured, and more flexible in battle because of her training with Izuku.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In canon, Izuku has a mentor relationship with All Might due to inheriting One for All, and his friends are Iida, Ochako, Todoroki, and Tsuyu. In the fic, Izuku and All Might never met until the Number One hero starts teaching. All Might is actually unnerved by the teen, despite having some knowledge about what happened to him. Izuku also unnerves Iida and Tsuyu, has a light acquaintanceship with Ochako, and Todoroki somewhat ignores him, his rivalry with Izuku instead taken up by Bakugou. Izuku is instead friends with Koda, Yaoyorozu, Jirou, and to a lesser extent Hatsume, while his relationship with Bakugo is complicated but based more on mutual respect and understanding than anything.
  • Alien Geometries: Koji's explanation as to why he dislikes bugs: it's not that he's afraid of them, rather it's that the very ways in which they think and communicate are very difficult to understand.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • For Izuku, Akihiko Sugoh. One of his main hopes is to find the man and kill him with his bare hands for the hell he put him through and for threatening his mother.
    • Another is Shigaraki for trying to kill him, with the feeling being mutual.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Kyouka asks Izuku to dress as a cheerleader to get revenge on Mineta for trying to perv on her and Momo, the result of which is enough to make Mineta pass out from a nose bleed. Izuku gets disguised as a girl again with Kyouka's help in order to get through the reporters before going to his internship, and pulls it off well enough that it fools Iida, who notes there's an attractive touch to him.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Canon!Izuku is already shown to be a very skilled analyst, being able to quickly deduce strengths and weaknesses of Quirks and fighting styles. Here, this skill has been further honed by his time in the simulation, to the point he can find minute details and come to accurate or near-accurate conclusions. For example, he immediately figured out that All Might has a Game-Breaking Injury on his torso that was received between 2 to 8 years ago, and pinpointed Yaoyorozou's self-esteem issues, both based on their body language.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Izuku has chosen to kill himself within the simulation when backed into a corner that he knows he can't escape or faced with a particularly sadistic monster (like Golden Freddy), to give himself a quicker death and forcefully restart the game.
  • Body Uploading: Akihiko Sugoh's Quirk is the ability to upload any real thing into the digital space. This is how he traps Izuku in the simulation.
  • Broken Ace: Izuku is an incredible fighter, with lightning reflexes and a skill with weapons that approaches nothing short of amazing - skills earned at the cost of suffering through terrifying experiences where he died hundreds of times, leaving deep psychological scars in him.
  • Breather Episode: The chapters immediately after the tense and action-packed Sports Festival are mostly about Izuku enjoying a peaceful day out with his friends.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Monoma tries pulling his usual anti-1A garbage, this time on Izuku specifically. Already fed up and annoyed by the public's hypocrisy and disdain and the media's portrayal of him, Izuku gives Monoma a point-blank Death Glare that completely cows the latter into submission.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The simulation Izuku was trapped in was designed to strengthen and improve his body every time he was hurt or killed, and he's now over three times stronger and faster, and with better endurance and reflexes than a normal person. Principal Nedzu wonders if he can even be called "human" anymore after the changes he's undergone. Word of God says that he's still technically human, his capabilities falling just within the theoretical limits of what should be biologically possible.
  • Commonality Connection: Miruko takes an interest in Izuku due to their similar repressed Blood Knight tendencies, and they bond over this during his internship with her.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Izuku's psyche has been burned so much by his year Trapped in Another World that he cannot be shocked anymore.
  • Crossdresser: As part of getting back at Mineta for trying to trick them into wearing cheerleading uniforms, Jirou asks Izuku to dress as a cheerleader. He agrees, and actually pulls it off really well, much to Mineta's consternation. Izuku dresses as a girl again as part of his disguise to get the reporters off his back when leaving for his internship.
  • Death Glare: Izuku gives one to Monoma so potent that not only is the latter reduced to temporary catatonia, but the rest of the cafeteria felt it even if it was not directed at them.
  • Door Stopper: Over 200,000 words and counting.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Dabi is strongly implied to be the one who caught the tail end of Shigaraki's and Stain's meeting.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Izuku is Quirkless, but after the year trapped in the simulation he has gained impressive skills that make him a better fighter than most of his classmates, and the experience also gave him a Healing Factor and Super Senses.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Akihiko Sugoh and Garaki Kyudai form a rivalry over whose creations will be better.
  • Eye Scream: Shigaraki gets his eye shot out by Izuku at USJ. All For One gives him a new one after a painful surgical process.
  • Famed in Story: Izuku is well-known as the kid that was kidnapped and placed in a simulation where he was put through hell. This unfortunately includes villains and bigots.
  • Fantastic Racism: Izuku is discriminated against by the public in general and certain high-profile people like Endeavor because he is Quirkless, however technically the term can still apply to him when he has a Healing Factor and a near-literal Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The story is set in two parts. "A" is the present, where Izuku tries to adjust to normal life after the simulation by going to UA. "B" is the past about Izuku going through the simulation with references to other people learning about what is happening.
  • Feed It a Bomb: How Izuku kills his first Xenomorph, sacrificing his arm to do so.
  • Fights Like a Normal: This trope is the basis of Izuku tearing apart Mineta's argument that Quirkless people can't be heroes. Aizawa's Quirk is to nullify other Quirks; he forces his opponents to fight on his terms, as if everyone is Quirkless, where Aizawa's training is superior. Sir Nighteye's Quirk is the power to see the future; this does not help him in combat – it's his training and experience that lets him fight equally with villains. Momo's Quirk lets her produce equipment which she then uses to fight; at no point does she use her Quirk in direct combat. And Izuku's own skills are similar to and superior to Momo's in using equipment to fight.
  • For Want of a Nail: The nail in question is Midoriya Izuku being kidnapped, digitized, and uploaded into a simulation before his canon encounter with the Sludge Villain. This sets everything on a different path:
    • Izuku never encounters All Might, resulting in the hero giving One for All to someone else (implied to be Melissa Shields or another female).
    • Both Bakugou and Shigaraki get some Character Development thanks to watching Izuku fight for his life. For Bakugou, see the Adaptation Personality Change above; for Shigaraki, he loses some of his Psychopathic Manchild tendencies and learns how to adapt his plans. As a result, he asks for a specific Nomu to fight Izuku, doesn't underestimate the teen when they fight, breaks out some Tarturus prisoners in order to distract the non-All Might heroes from reaching the USJ, and despite the USJ failure, succeeds in his secondary goal of pulling Sugoh out of Tartarus.
    • Although he doesn't receive One for All, Izuku gains the second highest score in the UA entrance exam thanks to his skill and weaponry (ironically higher placed than canon).
    • See Adaptation Relationship Overhaul above for the change in Izuku's friendships.
    • Izuku meets Mei Hatsume earlier than canon, who becomes his personal weapons and costume support engineer.
    • In the Heroes vs Villains simulation, Bakugou is teamed with Ashido and Iida teams with Tokoyami; the former playing the villains to Todoroki and Hagakure's heroes, while the latter plays the heroes to Izuku and Koda's villains. Uraraka teams up with Kirishima.
    • During the USJ, Izuku is grouped with Yaoyorozu and Jirou; this team up causes the two girls to decide to train with him later to get stronger. Tsuyu was grouped with Todoroki, while Mineta and Uraraka are grouped with Bakugou.
    • Izuku kills the Anti-All Might Nomu, as well as another brought specifically to fight him.
    • Izuku is already famous in certain circles, thanks to his simulation being broadcast, and thus some heroes already know who he is. Izuku himself does not want the limelight thanks to this, and thus was not at first interested in the Sports Festival.
    • Because of Bakugou becoming a better person earlier, his speech at the Sports Festival is actually decently inspiring instead of deliberately provocative.
    • In the obstacle course in the UA Sport Festival, Izuku comes 9th instead of 1st, though there is heavy indication that he could have won if he wanted to. Bakugou wins by a hair against Todoroki.
    • The second round is the King of the Hill, instead of the Cavalry Battle. Izuku handily wins in the last few seconds.
    • Because he had pegged him as a rival earlier, Todoroki tells Bakugou about his family life instead of Izuku.
    • 1-B gives a better showing than in canon, taking several of the 16 tournament slots that had in canon gone to 1-A students.
    • Except for the canon Mei/Iida, Tokoyami/Yaoyoruzu and Kirishima/Tetsutetsu setup, the 1-vs-1 first round battles and results are as follows,
      • Izuku vs. Tokage: Izuku wins easily.
      • Uraraka vs Fukidashi: Uraraka wins easily.
      • Yaoyoruzu defeats Tokoyami thanks to the training she went through with Izuku, although Tokoyami had also trained due to Izuku's advice.
      • Kirishima wins his match with Tetsutetsu.
      • Iida still wins his match, but Mei actually fights him while doing her pitch.
      • Bakugo vs Shinso: Bakugo wins due to temporarily deafening himself and then physically fighting him. He also gives Shinso "The Reason You Suck" Speech about the both of them.
      • Monoma vs Hiryu: Monoma wins.
      • Jirou vs Todoroki: Todoroki wins, but Jirou fights back, getting a few hits in before losing.
    • Thanks to the changes of the first round, the second round is as follows:
    • In the third round:
    • As for the finals:
    • Some students pick different mentors for the internship week: Izuku chooses Miruko, Kyouka picks Edgeshot, and Momo goes for Fatgum.
    • Thanks to Shigaraki's Character Development, his meeting with Stain goes better: They form an alliance with Shigaraki being a distraction for Stain's Hero-hunting, while also pointing the Hero Killer towards Endeavour to be his next target.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Akihiko Sugoh is this since his kidnapping of Izuku derails the canon plot. He is also (in)directly responsible for giving three of the characters in the story (Izuku, Bakugou, and Shigaraki) Character Development into stronger and cleverer people, for good or ill. He was captured and sent to Tarturus mere days after putting Izuku into the simulation, but is referenced in both the Past and Present sections of the story. Sugoh is bumped down to Big Bad status, however, the moment he is freed from prison by the other main antagonist, Shigaraki, becoming part of the Big Bad Ensemble with Shigaraki, All for One, and Kyudai.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Izuku has a bad reputation because the media leapt on the chance to paint as negative a picture of him as possible after it comes out he is the Simulation Survivor. There is also an element of Fantastic Racism involved as people like Endeavour call him a "Quirkless freak" and Chitose of the Meta Liberation Army ties his negative traits to his Quirkless status in her article on him.
  • Immoral Journalist: Kizuki Chitose, best known as "Curious" from the Meta Liberation Army, writes an almost libelous article claiming that Izuku's experiences make him villain-like while subtly implying it's also tied with his Quirkless status.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Stain still attacks Native in spite of being encouraged to target Endeavour.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • The UA staff and certain heroes and civilians (like Bakugou and Uraraka) know that Izuku is the "Simulation Survivor". Uraraka tells this to Yaoyoruzu after the USJ Incident and Miruko learns this fact from Edgeshot during the Sports Festival. In fact, the reason Izuku was given a chance to participate, despite his unstable nature, was to make sure that people will learn who he is on UA's terms as well as being able to show off.
    • The readers and a majority of the cast are aware that Izuku's simulation run was being broadcast online all over Japan and maybe the world. Izuku had forgotten Sugoh said he would do so until after he finished his fourth game, which unlocked the blog featuring posts talking about it. Izuku didn't take it well.
  • Killing Intent:
    • Izuku is capable of giving off a deathly aura that scares people as a result of his experience in the simulations.
    • Shigaraki learns to do the same thanks in part to learning from Izuku by channeling his anger and hate. He uses this to cow Sugou.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Many spoilers from the games Izuku plays are present, such as The Walrider from Outlast or Solaire's corruption from Dark Souls.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Akihiko Sugoh, the man who put Izuku into the simulation, started with "merely" unethical practices before he moved up to kidnapping people in the belief his simulations can create the perfect being.
    • Garaki Kyudai also falls into this category with his creation of Nomus.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Izuku has suffered hundreds of deaths across the different games he was forced to play through.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Between My Hero Academia, Slender, Five Nights at Freddy's, Outlast, Alien: Isolation, Prey (2017), Bioshock, Dark Souls, Resident Evil, and Dead Space.
  • Meaningful Name: Izuku picks "the Crucible Hero, Revenant" as his Hero Name. Crosses over into Bilingual Bonus and Genius Bonus, as the Author's Notes show that kanji used for "crucible" is tatara (鑪), the clay smelting tub used in Japanese swordsmithing to create high-quality sword-steel for forging. The name Revenant itself, referring to a corpse that has returned from death to gain vengeance on the one who wronged them, is a variation on the term "Undead", which is the only one he really feels he earned after deciding not to Link the Fire.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Izuku can anticipate danger before it happens. While he was stuck in the simulation, he dismissed it as the simulation warning him, but he realised otherwise after the USJ attack.
  • Mythology Gag: Sugoh refers to Izuku as subject Nine (his ninth human experiment as well as its only survivor). One can't help but see how it echos in canon, being that Izuku becomes the ninth holder of One for All.
  • Odd Friendship: The classmate Izuku gets on best with is Kouji Koda.
  • One-Man Army: During his internship, Izuku singlehandedly destroys a gang while inducing pants-shitting terror in them all.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Kuro likes hanging out on Koda's and Izuku's shoulders.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Revenant, upon interrupting Stain's execution of Iida, followed by blocking the crazed psychopath's sword strike:
    Revenant: Surprise Hero-Killer… You aren’t the only swordfighter around.
  • Psychological Projection: When Todoroki realises Izuku held back during the first event of the Sports Festival, he becomes outraged since other people were giving their all and taking the Sports Festival seriously. This is all while Todoroki is still handicapping himself by not using his fire.
  • Race Against the Clock: After completing his fourth game, Izuku is able to contact the outside world. An I-Island scientist reveals to him that his run is being broadcast for the world to see, and that the server he has been digitized into will overheat and destroy itself within seven months, killing Izuku with it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Akihiko Sugoh and his former I-Island research team shown in chapter 21 are one to Sword Art Online. Sugoh himself is a combination of the first two antagonists in the novel/anime.
    • In Chapter 48, one of the pieces of Support Gear that Mei has created for Izuku is a functional recreation of the Plasma Cutter.
    • Fatgum's personal chef is two at once: a deeply-tanned, red-haired man named Shirou Yukihira.
    • During an instance at Prey where Izuku's opening a vent, the chat queues multiple themes from The Pink Panther and Mission: Impossible. Then, when he gets a shotgun, someone queues in Nightcore's Angel with a Shotgun.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • While Nezu has no problem in allowing Izuku to attend U.A., he does request that Izuku regularly meet with a psychologist, on account of his deep-seated issues after what was pretty much a year in hell.
    • Izuku spent his entire last year of middle school in the simulation. It takes the next two months for him to catch up in his studies while also trying to recover.
    • It is not surprising that there are people who wonder why Izuku isn't in Tarturus when shown the violent Blood Knight side of him; even Izuku wonders the same.
  • Tame His Anger: After learning what happened to his bully victim, Izuku, and witnessing how much suffering and growth the Quirkless teen was going through, Bakugou has a Heel Realization before deciding to go to therapy to control his Hair-Trigger Temper and a Quirk dojo to control his Quirk better.
  • Taught by Experience: The only way for Izuku to get through the horror of the simulation is by learning from every failure and death. In this regard, Prey (2017) proves problematic because it wipes his memory every time he has to start a new run.
  • Teach Me How To Fight:
    • When Jirou and Yaoyorozu witness Midoriya's fighting prowess in the USJ, the duo chooses to ask the teen to train them, Jirou fighting with knives and Yaoyorozu to improve her skills. This also helps boost their confidence which pays dividends during the Sports Festival.
    • Iida also asks for Izuku's help to learn how to fight Stain.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Izuku was kidnapped by a villain who forced him to make his way through nine different horror games.
  • Vein-o-Vision: Shigaraki's new eye seemingly works like this, allowing him to see blood flow, muscle movement, and even bioelectric currents.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Several separate individual villains are interested in Izuku:
    • Sugoh kidnapped Izuku due to his belief that his Quirklessness and determination would help the teen survive the deadly simulation and turn him into a trained superhuman.
    • Shigaraki learned through the broadcasted simulation run to become a better strategist and has made it his mission to try to recruit Izuku by any means necessary, killing him being the last resort.
    • Toga is also interested in Izuku because of the simulation showing him getting covered in blood countless times which results in her becoming obsessed with getting his blood.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Shoto shoots ice at Monoma... only for Monoma to reveal that he has copied Endeavor's Quirk.
    • Izuku is walking back home after his victory in the Sports Festival... when he's suddenly attacked by a blonde girl (Toga Himiko) armed with knives.
  • Willfully Weak: In the third round of the Sports Festival, Izuku fights with a huge and bulky sword which weighs nearly seven kilograms (almost fifteen and a half pounds), because forcing himself to focus on controlling the weapon will stop him from getting carried away and seriously hurting someone. In his final match with Todoroki, he finally stops holding back, pulls out his real sword out from the larger blade, and proceeds to utterly thrash his opponent.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Downplayed example, but from Izuku's point of view, the simulation lasted over a year, while to the outside world it was eight months.
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