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Fanfic / Black Star

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"Tomorrow is broken. Tomorrow is nowhere."

Black Star is a completed Persona 5 fic by HassouToby. Taking place one year after the game's conclusion, a new crisis has begun to affect the entire world. Akira and the rest of Phantom Thieves find themselves investigating the new threat, and a familiar face once thought to be dead returns.

The story assumes that you have played through the entire game, so beware of spoilers.


Not to be confused with the David Bowie album, the character from Soul Eater, or the 1981 fantasy-adventure cartoon.

This fic has examples of:

  • Adult Fear: A prevalent theme is on how the adults feel powerless to assist the younger generation:
    • Sojiro and later Sae note how everyone is in danger and its up to a "bunch of teenagers and a cat" to save the day. They show a form of lament over their inability to do much more.
    • How parents and guardians are feeling when their wards are collasping or they are, leaving the kids to worry.
    • The parents of Seki Shimizu breathe this trope. Beyond his hospitalization, they struggle to understand and help Seki after he awakes and is traumatized by what he was privy in doing. In Mr. Shimizu's letter to Akechi, he notes how he feels he failed as a parent by refusing to acknowledge his son's depression before it was too late.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Goro Akechi really doesn't believe in much if anything anymore. He's not gonna let the world go down though.
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  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Ryuji doesn't believe in Chihaya's fortune telling. Ann points out that he spent the last year in the physical manifestation of people's hearts fighting monsters with a skeleton pirate that lived in his brain.
  • The Atoner: A recurring theme like in canon, with a major focus on Akechi.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Haru. While she's just as sweet as she is in canon, everyone around her is mortally frightened of incurring her ire, including Munehisa Iwai.
  • Big Bad: The Paranoia Syndrome outbreak is due to a menacing figure wandering the Dead Sea, simply called "the stranger." He's later revealed to be a high-school student named Seki Shimizu, but the true antagonist turns out to be his "Persona," Iago, which is actually a disguise for Hastur, an embodiment of the nihilism and doubt born from Shido's fall and the vacancy left by Yaldabaoth.
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  • Blob Monster: By the time the Thieves confront Shimizu's Shadow, his distortion has run rampant to the point where his Shadow is just a formless mass of ranting darkness with way too many eyeballs. It's also merged completely with his Palace, resulting in a giant, lifeless structure that his Shadow can control and rearrange at will.
  • The Chessmaster: After the story's climax, it's revealed that Igor deliberately baited Akira into entering the cognitive world with the intent of drawing the rest of the Phantom Thieves into the Paranoia Syndrome case.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Haru first encounters Iwai, one of the first things she says that really puts him off-balance is a request for a China Lake pump-action grenade launcher. Iwai eventually fulfills the order, and the China Lake proves instrumental in both demolishing Shimizu's Palace and setting up Nyarlathotep for the finishing blow.
  • Cliffhanger: Chapter 10 has a discussion with Sae about the dangers of Sojiro being left with the man who killed his love interest and tried to kill his adoptive daughter and his ward defenseless on his property, especially with the recent troubles concerning said adoptive daughter and ward. The chapter ends with the aforementioned man waking up to the sight of Sojiro chambering a round in his own pistol.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Akira reveals that, after Akechi "died" in Shido's Palace, he took the time to create a Persona that would nullify every single one of Akechi's attacks (with the exception of Megidolaon) just in case he somehow returned. He even made the Persona itself Thor, just to contrast with Loki.
  • Determinator: Goro Akechi refuses to go down, even surviving for nearly a year in an isolated hell with Shadows. When Sae expresses concerns that he might kill himself, Haru flat-out states that if he had lost the will to live, he'd have died in that hellhole without question.
    • Even in their Darkest Hour, he refuses to go down, so much so he manages to confront all of his issues and use it to save everyone by transforming into his new thief garb and Persona, born of his determination.
    • Hell, when he goes to save Joker, he proceeds to burn his hands to free him when neither Loki nor Robin Hood can help.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Goro Akechi has to overcome a variety of trials, both physical and emotional, by the story's end. Ultimately, he gets three years in prison to be served as a member of the Shadow Operatives.
  • Easily Forgiven: Unsurprisingly subverted with Goro Akechi. Only Haru is courteous with him aside from Akira. The rest of the team, especially Ryuji, are very tense in working with him. Despite this, they do work together and his saving the team multiple times leads to their victory, where they all more or less acknowledge as a friend and he to them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Hastur, as you'd expect from The King in Yellow. When he finally manifests, his appearance is so mind-rending that even the narration is affected, describing him in a single massive run-on sentence with hardly any punctuation.
  • Eldritch Location: The Metaverse, even more so than in the game. All the Palaces have collapsed into a single massive area called the Dead Sea, which takes the form of a decaying, flooded Tokyo littered with the remains of the Palaces themselves. The city is totally devoid of color, all traces of human habitation are gone (including photographs, furniture, and the lettering on signs), and everything is seemingly being digested by the water, with buildings becoming weaker and weaker until they effectively implode. The "rot" that permeates the city also affects anyone who visits there - the Phantom Thieves, minus Akira and Akechi, lose their awakened Personas and most of their high-level skills.
  • Everyone Has Standards: One for the heroes. They all may dislike Akechi and feel he should be punished for his crimes, but none of them, not even Futaba and Haru, are comfortable with him getting the death penalty. Likely since they still see him as not entirely different from them and that he was manipulated by Shido.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Big Bad is one to the Thieves, using his malevolent Persona in Iago, the Villain Protagonist from Othello with unique abilities while appearing in his own garbs, a bunch of disheveled rags. Plus, having an evil Ultimate Persona in Hastur, who is the Greater-Scope Villain here.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The chains that the stranger uses to bind his victims are described as cold enough to burn, and the story's antagonists often bring a freezing atmosphere with them whenever they show up.
  • Foreshadowing: Akira and Akechi's interactions with their masks foreshadowing their development:
    • When Akira removes his mask and calls it irritating, it's a massive hint on how much he's burdened by hiding his true feelings from his friends.
    • Akechi clings onto his cracked mask, despite the others pointing out the issues. It is showing he is clinging to the identity even though it is not him. It finally breaks when he accepts who he is, Warts and All, becoming a new gray bird-like mask. He is able to remove it easily when talking with Seki, showing he is now willing to bare his soul to people.
  • Genius Loci: The final Palace turns out to be one of these, due to merging completely with Shimizu's Shadow. Morgana says that this means his distortion has grown so severe that it's consumed his entire psyche.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Zenigata is associated with the Bless element and assists Akechi even before fully awakening. He's also a cruel, hectoring Jerkass who causes Akechi tremendous pain every time he speaks and constantly makes a point of saying how alone he is and that nothing he does will spare him the misery of being alive. This is in no small part due to Akechi's own turbulent, self-loathing personality, and when he finally awakens to the Persona, Zenigata drops the taunts and congratulates him for choosing to live on, in spite of everything.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: When the story starts, Akechi has been trapped in the Dead Sea for almost a year with his only company being Shadows and some unnamed thing stalking him through the streets. The stress, loneliness, and sensory deprivation have pushed him near the breaking point, which may partly explain why he immediately tries to kill Akira when they reunite.
  • Heroic BSoD: Seki is heavily hinted to be this in the letter his dad sent to Akechi. He's haunted with nightmares, cries frequently and now sleeps with his folks in bed. Painfully justified given he's a teenager who has been bottling in years of stress and anxiety and has come out full force with the guilt that he has hurt many people in his period of madness.
  • It's All My Fault: Futaba believes this to be the case with Akira's sudden "illness." She consequently spends the early parts of the fic in a depressed stupor before the Phantom Thieves begin to pick up on leads.
  • It's Personal: While the Phantom Thieves take an immediate interest in the Paranoia Syndrome outbreak due to Akira's disappearance, and Akira himself is interested in Akechi, the strongest example of this is Igor, who remains furious with Yaldabaoth for corrupting the Velvet Room and lends aid to Akechi in an attempt to undo the damage that the Demiurge caused.
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed and justified. Nearly all of the hard evidence of Akechi's crimes is within the Metaverse or destroyed by the Conspiracy. Additionally, Shido confessing to orchestrating his actions pretty much puts the kibosh on his attempts to claim responsibility since when an adult and a minor are engaged in a common act of misbehavior, the adult is held primarily at fault. Furthermore, Shido's confession is also skewed, done to make it seem like he coerced Akechi, likely trying to claim all the responsibility for Akechi's sake. Akechi ultimately is convicted of possession of an illegal firearm, breach of trust, concealment of documents for government use, and obstructing performance of public duty, and gets three years in juvie, which he serves out as a member of the Shadow Operatives.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Akira is characterized as one of these - he states outright that he has no faith in society's ability to change for the better and still doubts that he has any sort of future waiting for him, but just uses that as an excuse to continue helping people without regard for the consequences.
    • Goro Akechi even more so is this.
  • Light 'em Up: The Bless element serves as this, used a bit with Akechi's Persona in Robin Hood. More notably in his new Persona, Zenigata, whose suitcase transforms into a massive laser gun to shoot the Big Bad.
  • Motifs: Flames are used to represent human passion and the desire to live. Conversely, the antagonists are associated with the cold and the deep sea.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seki is left as an emotional guilty wreck at what he ended up doing.
  • Mystical Plague: The plot focuses around one of these, colloquially named "Paranoia Syndrome." It manifests world-wide, striking completely without warning, and the symptoms include panic attacks and seemingly incurable coma. Predictably, it's to be connected to the Metaverse. However, it is a variation of sorts: Akechi notes that while it is a symptom, it is not the root cause. The root cause as he points out is the all the doubt, fear and anxiety for an uncertain tomorrow that was born from Shido's fall and the vacancy of Yaldabaoth.
  • Not So Different: Akechi and Akira, both being people who strive to fight back despite their cynical beliefs and both of them heavily struggling with being true to themselves. Hammered home when Akechi undergoes his second transformation: his new attire heavily resembles Akira's, though with a gray and blood-stained trenchcoat along with remnants of his previous two outfits, such as the belts on his limbs and the military stylings.
    • Akechi and Seki are this, both being young men who were overwhelmed by their emptiness and despair. Akechi uses this to empathize with Seki, telling him You Are Not Alone and his mother is waiting for him.
  • Occam's Razor: Ultimately how Ryuji uncovers the story's true villain. The team recognizes from the start that someone with an awakened Persona shouldn't have a Palace, but Hand Wave it as Iago just being "unusual" compared to other Personas. Ryuji correctly surmises the truth - that Iago isn't a Persona at all, but a parasitic monster masquerading as one.
  • Odd Friendship: Haru and Iwai are hinted to form a strong rapport over the course of the story, in large part thanks to their mutual interest in heavy ordnance.
  • Public Domain Character: Iago here exists as a Persona, likely from [[Theatre/Othello Shakespeare's Othello]]. Hastur falls under this as well from the Lovecraftian mythos.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Pretty much all of Akira's adult Confidants from the game fill this role, as shown when the Phantom Thieves minus their leader are trying to track down information in the real world.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Even after his Heel–Face Brainwashing, Shido is still a contemptuous jerkass.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: A recurring theme throughout the story, especially with regards to Akechi.
  • Sad Clown: Akira's snarky, laid-back attitude is covering up deep self-esteem issues.
  • Secretly Selfish: Akira's main motivation is wanting to help people for the sake of it rather in a widescale belief in changing the world. It's been described as a massively selfless form of selfishness. He also feels a great sense of shame with this. It's implied this is also behind the reason that his friends' Personas are in their base form. When he finally admits this to his friends and acknowledges how much he needs them and his devotion, their Personas return to their Ultimate forms.
  • The Scottish Trope: The Velvet Room attendants refuse to call Yaldabaoth by name, exclusively referring to him as "the Usurper."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Regarding whether society can be fixed or not, with the different advocates being Akechi and Akira.
    • One can make a scale with Akechi on the cynical end, Akira in the middle and Ryuji at the idealistic end. While Akechi and Akira make their doubts known, Ryuji remains the bright light who believes in what they are for changing society and comforting people. It's implied this is partially why he clashes with Akechi. Additionally, it's Ryuji who ends up discovering the real culprit in part due to this.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Morgana pulls one of these on the Phantom Thieves in Leblanc, after hitching rides all the way from Akira's hometown.
  • Take a Third Option: Akechi is torn between Loki and Robin Hood though he uses the latter more than the former. His true Persona is born when he undergoes a new Awakening, killing off Loki and replacing him with Zenigata.
  • Tarot Motifs: In the Tarot Troubles scene mentioned below, the dominant card is the reversed Star. This turns out to represent the titular Black Star itself, which is actually the "hole" formed by Seki Shimizu's manifested despair eating its way into humanity's collective unconsciousness. It may also represent the void left over after the defeat of Yaldaboath.
  • Tarot Troubles: This comes up when Yusuke asks Chihaya to look into Akira's status.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 8. The Thieves reunite with Akira, Shimizu is defeated, and the group is set to exit the Dead Sea and plan their next move...and then Shimizu is revealed to be Not Quite Dead, launches a sneak attack and abducts Akira, leaving the group beaten, demoralized, and with a borderline-catatonic Akechi to deal with.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: This is brought up multiple times in regards to Sugimura, Haru's fiancé. Everyone secretly believes that she discreetly had him killed.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The individual responsible for the Paranoia Syndrome outbreak and near-destruction of the world turns out to be a scared and miserably depressed fifteen-year old boy who's been bottling up his concerns before his dog died and he hit rock bottom, his mind further corrupted by an Eldritch Abomination.
  • You Are Not Alone: A theme here is that people are not alone and even the scariest things like the potential end to all things is not as scary with people by your side. Akira realizing this empowers everyone back to full power as he confesses how much his friends mean to him. Akechi also does the same as he lets the group in more. He tells this over to Seki.

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