Having awoken from a rather light sleep- Last night's Midnight Channel was a bit much- Yu had found that Nanako was already alone.
Well, this is just perfect. I dunno if it's the best idea to just leave her...
Noticing her cousin's shifting feet, Nanako made her thoughts a little clearer.
"Are you planning to go out? I can watch the house by myself. I'll be fine: I've had to do it a lot before."
And with that Nanako turned on the TV. The forecast that came on ended quickly- Apparently, the weather would be quite clear for a while. Yu waved good-bye to Nanako by the door, closing it just as a show featuring a group of people in bird-themed superhero outfits jumped onto the TV.
Yu was the first to arrive at the Food Court, though Yosuke wasn't terribly long after him.
"I found some stuff we can use in the closet at home!"
Yosuke suddenly produced an aikuchi and a short katana...
Yosuke, you idiot.
"We've got our Persona, but a golf club isn't terribly reliable as a weapon. So, which one strikes your fancy."
Yu thought back to how he had used the club and that strange dream he had almost a week ago.
"Um, the katana, I suppose, but Yosuke, don't you thin-"
"Ahh, you've got discerning tastes! This is a Junes exclusive! The blade's fake, though... As for me... Wait! Maybe I could use both of 'em!"
Yosuke started swinging the blades around.
"K-kinda like this!? Or like THIS? Or how about THIS
... I'm having flashbacks to that time you shoved yourself in a trash bin from your bike. That's not a good thing.
A passing off-duty patrolman happened to be passing by. One thing led to another, and...
"... You didn't seem the type to pull a stupid stunt like this."
Yu was getting an earful from his uncle.
At the police station.
Because he and Yosuke had been arrested.
Because Yosuke's a spaz. Who didn't see the problem with waving weapons around in a crowd. Idiot.
"You know what's been going on around town. We've got men stationed everywhere."
I knew that. Stop looking at me like that.
"For god's sake... You're lucky I was around, or this would've ended up on your permanent record.
Yosuke turned his head slightly towards the ground.
... Dammit. Now I can't rant at him.
A pair of rather loud policemen were walking past while talking about the case- Apparently, Yukiko had indeed disappeared...
After explaining the nature of his workplace at the moment, Dojima released his nephew and said nephew's friend. They were heading towards the exit, when a younger officer carrying a cup of coffee almost bumped into them.
"Whoa... Pardon me. Huh? Aren't you staying at Dojima-san's place?"
Yosuke decided to ask him something.
"It's about Yukiko-san... I mean, Yukiko Amagi, of the Amagi Inn. Did... Something happen to her?"
The young detective-
Well, he sure looks the part, with that suit...
Looked more than slightly confused.
"Huh? Oh, umm... Am I allowed to say...? Well, if you're friends with her... Keep this between us, okay? We got a call from Ms. Amagi's parents yesterday evening saying they couldn't find her anywhere. Since it was the weekend, the workers at the inn were extremely busy, and no one saw Ms. Amagi at that time... Oh, but it's not really a case just yet..."
Wow, he's just throwing classifieds out like that... Why is "vomiting info" the first phrase that comes to mind?
"We're all really hot on info like this right now, given the murders on foggy days... By the way, did she say anything to you guys about maybe going through some hard times?"
Yu and Yosuke both denied her saying anything to them.
"Well, that announcer, Ms. Yamano, was staying at the Amagi Inn before the first murder. Seems she had some harsh words for the manager about the staff's attitude towards guests. That much stress made the manager collapse. And with Ms. Amagi being the manager's daughter... She must've felt pretty strongly about it, y'know? By the way, did she ever hint that she might be leaving the house? 'Cause if not, some of us think she might be layin' low for one reason or another..."
No. Stop. Even if she wanted to off someone, she could never hang two bodies like they were found.
"... Crap, I've gone too far! You didn't hear that, okay?"
Dojima's voice sounded from down the hall.
"Adachi! What the hell are you chattin' with civvies for!? And where's my damn coffee!?"
"S-sorry! I've got it right here! Psst, forget I said anything! Please!"
So he works for my uncle... I guess I'll be seeing him around a bit more, huh? Great.
Chie had arrived to meet the boys after their release. Naturally, she was upset. She told them that she had gone to Yukiko's home, and found no one there. Yosuke spoke up-
"I guess we've got no choice but to go THERE now, huh? But that aside, the cops are sayin' some weird stuff, like that she might be laying low for some reason."
Yosuke, I hope you aren't really that concerned over it. A second grader could tell you that's not how it is.
Yosuke related the story from the idiot detective back to Chie. Both of them got rather agitated. Yu took it upon himself to step in.
"Let's all calm down."
And somehow, that was all it took. Yosuke explained that his weapons had been confiscated, but Chie promised a special secret to fix that problem, as long as she got to help save Yukiko.
A small sign on the outside of a building in south end of the Inaba Shopping District read out: "Daidara Metalworks"
"They sell all sorts of metal crap... Like, katanas and stuff."
Chie, I'm both astounded and unsurprised.
Yosuke voiced his doubts.
"Look, I know how you feel but..."
That's not the kind of anger one has for one small jerk move, no, this is a slow, deep burn. She's hurting bad.
"You don't know shit about how I feel! Yukiko could be dying in there, for cryin' out loud! I'm going, and that's that!"
Yu couldn't tell her no after that, even if she lacked the means to fight Shadows.
"Okay. But be sure to stay behind us. It gets nasty in there."
Chie confirmed that plan, over Yosuke's protests.
Sounds like someone's playing knight. If it were some other girl, that'd be one thing, but I think Chie could probably guess when it's time to run...
Yosuke forced her into agreeing to buy some armor, which she started feverishly combing through...
"You're our main asset in battle right now, so I want you to buy for both us. Get whatever makes life easier for you, Partner."
And with a smile, Yosuke handed Yu 5,000 yen, then left the building, with Chie not far behind.
Guess I won't tell him about my parent's madness when it comes to cash.
Counting his last three months of allowance, Yu now had around 1,400,000 yen.
They might have had to move around a lot, but at least the Narukami's jobs paid well.
"We'll have to hide this stuff before heading into Junes, though..."
Chie chimed in, having finished finding some armor for herself.
"Why not conceal them under our uniforms? That'd be easy, and I doubt anyone would notice."
The group agreed. After Yosuke and Chie left, Yu purchased some equipment for himself and Yosuke- An actual katana and a set of hunting knives, both unfortunately false-edged- And left himself.
As he was walking away from Daidara's shop, a bizarre blue door appeared, floating just a bit above the sidewalk, and in front of the nearest wall...
Everyone's just walking on by... I guess this is something for my eyes only, huh? It's all been too real for me to be dreaming this up, and I've seen weirder things...
"So it finally begins. Now, if you'll give me a moment of your time..."
Yu's Velvet Key flashed brightly, and the door opened...
"Welcome. We have been expecting you. The catastrophe that is headed your way... It has already taken human lives in its approach towards you. But you have nothing to fear/ You already have the power to fight against it."
Igor and the Velvet Room.
Well, I suppose I should feel welcome... I am their 'guest,' after all.
Yu took in the soothing piano-soprano duet as Igor spoke with him.
"It seems that the time for you to use your Persona has come. Hmmhmm."
His blonde assistant-
Explained the nature of the empty yet special Wild Card ability that Yu alone possessed...
And Igor told him of Fusion.
"You have the power to hold multiple Personas, and to use them accordingly. My role is to help you give birth to new Personas- By mixing together two or more Persona cards, I can transmute them into a new form..."
Ah, like that movie from a few years back- "Spirit Haxxors" or something like that?
"When you defeat an enemy, the seeds of possibility may appear before you, as cards. At times, they might be hard to grasp... But you must master your fear, and reach out to them. When you obtain new cards, please, do not hesitate to bring them here. After I bring forth a new facet of yourself, your Social Links will bring forth a new power- If you've been thoughtful enough to develop them."
Igor gave Margret a short glance, and she spoke up.
"The Tome you see in my hand is the Persona Compendium. Register a Persona in it with me, and you may withdraw it at any time- For a small fee."
And Igor returned as she finished...
"When next we meet, you will come of your own will. Hmmhmm. I look forward to it. Until then, farewell."
After leaving the Velvet Room, Yu arrived at the Junes Food Court as quickly as he could.
Yosuke still tried to convince Chie to back out, but she resisted once more.
It's still unnecessary, Yosuke...
Chie was thoroughly surprised to see Teddie once more.
Teddie, however was too busy deli-bear-ating over his nature to really introduce himself back. Yosuke told him that he probably hadn't come up with anything-
"I've seen the inside of your skull, and... It was empty."
"How rude. You're right, though- I try snd try but nothing comes outta my head."
Chie scolded them for joking when Yukiko was in danger. In a bit of a strange conversation, she and Teddie formally introduced themselves to each other, then headed off for wherever Yukiko was.
Upon arriving, they found the Castle from the last Midnight Channel...
Chie, Yosuke and Yu all had a few questions to ask Teddie, who made it clear that no one was actively filming anything: It's always been only him and Shadows in his world. Chie got herself worked up over how out-of-character Yukiko's behavior was on the Midnight Channel-
"Saying stuff like "score myself a hot stud..." That's not like her at all!"
Oh, dear. Looks like the bear's learned some new words...
After a few more confirmations- And Teddie asking what, exactly, "Scoring a hot stud" meant, to no avail- Chie ran inside, having heard that Yukiko was indeed inside. By herself.
Chie is... Quite headstrong. But she's devoted, I'll give her that...
Teddie told the guys that there were lots of Shadows in the Castle- And that they should hurray. He handed Yu a small bead- It had the character for "life" carved into it- And a small pile of ten candies, five of one kind, five of another.
"It's good to be prebeared!"
The Castle was meandering and poorly laid out...
'Let me guess, it's supposed to be confusing, right? These sorts of places always are, and never for any reason beyond that.
But there was a smattering of treasures around to keep things interesting. The Shadows of the first floor were nothing terribly dangerous, but Izanagi and Jiraiya could only handle so much before their users got dinged up and had to heal each other.
Peach Seed candies- They always said that the Vitamin C in 'em was good for you, and I guess they weren't lying.
After the defeat- Yu hesitated to assume they could truly kill the things- Of several Shadows, Yu had a series of visions of cards that he wound up drawing. A few wear blank, but most of them had monsters of some sort pictured on them...
Yu has welcomed the Personas Slime, Ukobach, Pixie, Apsaras, and Angel into his heart...
So, my psyche contains a blue-skinned priestess type, a pile of ooze, a smug green pyromaniac, a fairy in a leotard, and a winged woman in light gimp gear. I'd hate to meet the version of God who made that the dress code. Then again, Yosuke's contains nothing but disco-ninja-frog, so maybe it's for the best that I can swap whenever I like...
After contemplating the benefits of his abilities, Yu found a door that opened to a stairwell, which he and Yosuke quickly climbed, as Teddie insulted Yosuke's fighting ability, while praising Yu's.
"... And the worst part is- I agree. Completely."
Yosuke sighed his insecurities out loud as they reached the top of the stairs.
"Hey, Yu... I'm counting on you, partner."
Yu nodded, before spotting...
Yep, definitely one of those nonsense buildings.
The Fool and the Magician stepped forward and opened the doorway...
"Chie! Are you all right?... Chie?"
The kung-fu fangirl stood in shock, as Yukiko's voice sounded from somewhere...
''Just like with the Konishi girl...
"She said that red looks good on me..."
Yosuke shouted for the long-haired girl...
"I hated my name... Yukiko... "snow"... Snow is cold, and it melts quickly... It's transient... Worthless... But it's perfect for me... Apart from inheriting the inn, I'm worthless..."
... Well, that'd explain the gloomy aura she carries all the time...
"Still, Chie said that red looks good on me."
Yosuke had pieced together that these were Yukiko's inner feelings, himself, and he suddenly became very somber... Teddie explained that the Castle was probably created because of Yukiko's victimization...
Chie barely could say her friend's name, before her voice suddenly returned...
"Chie was the only one who gave my life meaning..."
... What to say about that. It sounds...
"She's bright, and strong, and she can do anything... She has everything that I don't..."
... Scary, and sad...
"C-compared to Chie, I'm... I'm... Chie protects me... She looks after my worthless life... And I... I don't deserve any of it... Chie is so kind..."
Chie was barely restraining her tears...
Yu focused on Chie- If Yosuke's Shadow appeared in Saki's world, then that could mean-
"Chie is soooooo kind," huh? What a joke."
That distortion again...
Chie responded to the other voice, as Yu and Yosuke got into a slight defending position.
Another Chie walked out of the fog, with searing yellow eyes and dark flame radiating of of her- Its?- Body.
Yosuke prepared himself, as Yu had...
"It's just like Yosuke! She lost control of her suppressed self!"
Thanks, Ted. I just needed an absolute confirmation... So, this is exactly the sorta thing the first two went through...
The Shadow laughed at its owner.
"Are we talking about THAT Yukiko!? She says that I'm protecting her!? She says she's worthless! Heehee, that's how it should be, right?"
Chie was aghast.
"W-what're you saying?"
"Yukiko's sooo good looking... Sooo fair-skinned... Sooo feminine... She's the one all the guys drool over. When Yukiko looked at me with such jealousy- Man, did I get a charge outta that."
A cycle of self-loathing and jealousy, huh?... I can't say I'd have ever guessed.
"Yukiko knows the score. She can't do anything if I'm not around. I'm better than her! Much, much better!"
And there's that sadism, like in Yosuke's... These things really like blunt cruelty, don't they?
Chie tried to yell through her sputters of sadness.
"N-no! I have NEVER thought that!"
Yosuke was panicking-
"Wh-what're we gonna do?"
"Calm down. We need to protect Chie"
"You're absolutely right, Sensei!"
Yu and his companions tried to approach Chie...
"N-no! Don't come near me! Don't look at me!"
"Chie, calm down."
"No! No! This isn't me!"
"W-wait, stupid! Don't say anything else like that!"
Another mean-spirited laugh...
"That's right. I'm the one who can't do anything alone... I can't win as a girl, let alone as a person. I'm pathetic! But Yukiko... She depends on me... That's why she's my friend. I'll never loosen my grip on her. She's too important to me."
This is getting really ugly... And the way Chie's holding herself...
Yu firmly gripped the hilt of his blade.
"No... That is not how I think of her..."
"Hehe. So, you're just gonna turn your back and deny me again? But things are different now... When the time comes, I'll be the one left standing... But you won't mind, right? I'm still you!"
"Shut up! You're-"
"You're not ME!"
And with that, the Shadow let out another creepy laughing fit, as red fog flooded into it, as it blasted Chie away...
When it had reformed, it took the form of a yellow-leather clad dominatrix-
From 'sorta obscure' to 'blindingly obvious'... These things sure like their symbolism.
Sitting atop a stack of three schoolgirls, standing on each other's shoulders, their legs quaking like they'd give out any minute...
They... Look just like Chie, if she were robbed of her color... And her face.
The dominatrix wore long, black hair that fell far behind her, as long as her whip...
It's like Yukiko's... So, the Shadow 'stole' what it was most jealous of...
A crack of its whip, and the Shadow let out a terrible shout...
"I am a Shadow. The true self. What do you guys think you're doing, trying to defend the 'real' me? Then... You're gonna pay the price!"
"Shut up! Quit being such a pain! Chie... Just hang in there a little longer..."
Yosuke was already showing more Courage than Yu would've thought he had in him a few days ago...
"Hah... Think you can stop me that easy!?"
Yu was the first to land a strike-
The bonded figure summoned a small whirlwind-
And threw it off balance!
"Let's do this, partner!"
And with that, Yu and Yosuke flew into a huge assault on the beast, an action repeated when Yosuke knocked it down with his own Garu spell. It through up a wall of green-
To stop that strategy cold...
"Scream for me!"
A wave of lightning-
Fell upon the fighters...
Yosuke and Yu managed to brace for the blow just in time, and just as her barrier wore off.
"Are you guys idiots!? Why're you protecting her like that? She's nothing but a grubby bitch!"
A solid blow from her whip had hurt Yosuke bad-
Yu called forth the tiny sprite to recover some of the damage the Magician had endured, who then thanked him, and followed up with another Garu for a further opening.
"Ngh... Don't make fun of me... You're nothing against me...!"
Another volley of whip strikes were dodged by Yu, and he and Yosuke both landed a Garu each, finally allowing them to pummel it into submission.
The Shadow's altered form faded away, along with a cloud of red fog...
Yu pushed the bridge of his glasses up, as he felt a surge of energy...
Chie was barely able to stand after the battle.
She looked to see her other self right in front of her.
"What's the matter? Got nothing to say anymore?"
Chie started to approach it aggressively, but Yosuke stopped her-
"Stop it, Chie. It's all right..."
She's a bit hesitant, too... Understandable.
"We all have different faces. You are more than that thing, Chie, even if it is a part of you."
"He's right- I went through the same thing. I can understand. I mean.. Everyone has a side like this."
Chie stepped towards her reflection.
"Yeah... I kinda get it now. You... Are me... A side of me that I couldn't forgive. That I tried to ignore... But you still exist. You're a part of me."
The Shadow nodded.
The strength of heart required to face oneself has been made manifest... Chie has faced her other self... She has obtained the facade used to overcome life's hardships, the Persona Tomoe!
"I... Umm, well, it's true that part of me feels that way... B-but I wasn't lying about being friends with Yukiko...!"
"I never doubted that."
"Heh, yeah. We know. Huh? H-hey, Chie!"
Chie had collapsed to her knees...
"I'm okay... Just a... A little tired."
"You don't look okay at all! And I bet you can use the same power Yu and I have now..."
Yosuke looked concerned at his... Friend.
"Hey, what should we do?"
She's not going anywhere like she is. The last thing anyone needs is for her to get hurt because she can't move.
"It's tough to say it, but... Let's go back."
"I agree. We need to let Chie rest."
Chie protested, but was ultimately convinced that returning for her to rest would be for the best, as she could help out on the next attempt. They also explained what they knew about how the World Inside the TV worked, and how it affected people...
And her Persona looks much less silly than Yosuke's. It'd be interesting to see how she handles herself, regardless.
"It'll be a while before the next rain, so we have plenty of time to get ready..."
"So, we'll all save Yukiko-san together, right?"
Yosuke and Chie both repeated Yu's sentiment.
On the way out, Yu was reminded to explain the glasses to Chie. Teddie then handed her another pair he had just made for her.
... That fast?
After a bit of reassurance to Chie, Yosuke suddenly added-
"Hey, you mind being our leader? You were the first to get this power, and you're way better in a fight than either of us. I think it'd be best for everyone if you set the pace."
They've got a good point.
"Leave it to me."
Chie, Teddie and Yosuke all expressed their utmost confidence in Yu...
Time froze for just a moment, as an image of a card bearing the number "0" and an abstract image of a man with a bindle and a dog appeared before Yu's eyes...
Thou art I... And I am thou...
Thou hast established a new bond...
It brings thee closer to the truth...
Thou shalt be blessed when creating Personas of the Fool Arcana...
Particles of light flowed from Yosuke and Chie's glasses and Teddie's eyes, coalescing into Yu...
The three members of the newly-formed Investigation Team left together, and all returned home...
Dinner was a bit livelier than usual- Dojima was actually home, and had brought a sizable meal from Aiya, the Chinese diner with him.
As the news went to break, Dojima wore a stern expression on his face and turned towards Yu. He asked if he was getting involved in any "strange business"...
Like you wouldn't believe...
"What happened at the station today is still bothering me... Is there... Anything you're not telling me?"
"Of course not."
"Well, it's just been nagging at me, that's all..."
Nanako spoke up, sounding a little scared and sad.
"What's wrong? Are you two fighting...?"
And with that, the conversation was abruptly changed to current events.
"And now, our weather forecast. Due to high pressure fronts from the west, the weather will be mostly clear for a while longer..."
"... Is this lady the one who decides the weather?"
Yu's Level: 7
Fool: Rank 1
Magician: Rank 1
Woo! First trip to a dungeon! And the next update's probably going to involve developing the Social Links...it's good to see that the action is starting to pick up, and I certainly hope that things go well for you.
Thanks! I'm trying hard to make this at least modestly interesting, and it's good to hear that seems to be the case. ^_^