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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:

  • Adaptational Personality Change: Nyarlathotep in Persona 2 tended to not react well to the heroes beating him. Here, when he speaks to the Thieves after being defeated, he takes it in stride and promises them that he or another evil being created from the collective consciousness will bring humanity to their destruction as well as assuring them that they will not be alone in the darkness before departing with "For I am thou... and thou art I." Justified in that considering he was capable of returning after his banishment, it's likely that he can continue to return no matter how times he's beaten and will play the long game if he has to.
  • Adopted to the House: Discussed. Seki's parents express the wish of taking Akechi under their wing after he is done with his sentence of three years, but it's never known if he accepts it or if he even knows about their plans.
  • Adult Fear:
    • The Thieves' main adult supporters, Sojiro and Sae, note at different points their failures in being able to help things during the crisis. Sae even laments that it's up to a "bunch of teenagers and a cat" when she learns what happens from Makoto after their first forray goes awry.
    • The main characters and several anons from the text-chat intervals make it clear how worried they are when Paranoia Syndrome starts claiming their teachers and guardians, leaving them with no support and mounting medical debt.
    • The parents of Seki Shimizu are the most prominent example. It's bad enough Seki is hospitalized under Paranoia Syndrome while the parents themselves are on the verge of cracking, but then Seki wakes up and is utterly crushed by all the pent-up emotions. Mr. Shimizu laments in his letter to Akechi on parents (including himself and his wife) will dismiss their children's anxieties and fears because out of not understanding the concerns and dangers of the future they face... or the failures that they and the rest of their generation had in providing an adequate future for their children. He calls himself and his wife failures in the part they played that led their son's wrecked emotional state by downplaying his concerns and not noticing when something was wrong.
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  • The Anti-Nihilist: Joker and Akechi are this in spades, though Akechi's Character Development makes this for him more prominent:
    Akechi: This worthless life... these pointless people... this cruel and awful world... I don’t want to lose any of them!
  • Apocalypse How: What Paranoia Syndrome is trying to do, at a Planetary level. And since Nyarlathotep was the one behind it, then this was definitely his overall plan.
  • 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.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Hastur/Nyarlathotep says that as long as humans exists, he shall exist as well, in another form.
  • The Atoner: Unsurprisingly, Goro Akechi.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Ann manages to sneak herself and Yusuke into a hospital by dressing in business clothes and carrying a clipboard. Someone does try to question what they're doing there, only for Ann to dismiss them and continue on. Yusuke is especially impressed considering Ann's usual Bad "Bad Acting", though she admits she took some acting classes during the summer.
  • 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 (which itself is an avatar for Nyarlathotep), an embodiment of the nihilism and doubt born from Shido's fall and the vacancy left by Yaldabaoth.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Akira started his investigation on Paranoia Syndrome because Futaba had called him on the phone and cried because of how she watched her classmate be one of its victims.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Not the fic itself, but the end of chapter 16: The group finally managed to steal Seki's Treasure, defeat Nyarlathotep and save the world. After many turbulences, Akechi finally earned his place in the group and found his own resolve to atone for his crimes and be close to people no matter how pointless it is. However, once they all are back in the real world, Akira is still hospitalized and Akechi turns himself in to the police. The atmosphere is as somber as it sounds, with Futaba and Ryuji brooding, Ann comforting a silent Haru, and Makoto and Yusuke doing most part of the talking with Sojiro. The chapter ends with Morgana staring at Akechi's brief message to them: "Thank you for everything - Crow".
  • 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.
  • Body Horror: Akechi suffers this when he frees Joker from Shimizu's chains by breaking them. It leaves him with bleeding wounded hands that have suffered third degree burns and beginnings of frostbite at the same time before Morgana heals him. Haru actually screams in horror before yelling at him in concern.
  • The Bus Came Back: After getting banished at the end of Persona 2, Nyarlathotep returns after the defeats of Shido and Yaldabaoth caused a hole to form in humanity's collective unconscious that allowed him to escape.
  • Canon Character All Along: Hastur has several similarities to Nyarlathotep: he's The Man Behind the Man to the seeming main antagonist, he pretends to be a Persona, he possesses his "user" after their defeat, he's the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's negative qualities (in Hastur's case, he's the manifestation of humanity's fear of an uncertain future), and he even has Nyarlathotep's Catchphrase ("That is a contradiction."/"You contradict yourself."). The author confirms that Hastur is not merely a character that has similarities to Nyarlathotep but is actually the Crawling Chaos himself having assumed another form. This is implied in the story itself when Igor mentions having met Hastur before.
  • Caustic Critic: Seki's original Shadow appears to be this, with his Palace being some sort of theater. His Treasure is thus the rope of the closing curtain, which in the real world, manifests as his deceased dog's leash.
    Yusuke: I believe he is a critic...One who sees through the sentimental pretensions of the performance, and judges its true worth…or so that may be what he wishes to think.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Justified since Shido's Conspiracy used their government influence to ensure nobody could interfere with them and since people without the app can't enter Palaces or the Metaverse. By the time the Shadow Operatives figured out what was going on, the crisis had been averted for several weeks.
    Akechi: Is that so. Then pardon my language, but where the hell have you been lately?
  • Central Theme: We have two.
    • The importance of bonds and how someone's world can grow with people by their side - and how it's important to let people in. Both Akira and Goro go through this lesson in different ways. Akira learning to be more open with his friends on his insecurities and Goro learning to trust people even if the circumstances are pointless.
    • The value of justice and rehabilitation. People are always making mistakes and going through difficult situations in their lives, and the definition of justice changes depending on the point of view, along with their respective rehabilitations. invoked Word of God says that, from their point of view, rehabilitation is something that needs to come first from inside of the person instead of the people around them. Akira has a discussion about it with Sojiro in chapter 17.
      Akira: Everyone goes on about rehabilitation like if you just shove someone in a cell for a few years they’ll come out all clean and ready to take on the world. But that’s not how it works, right? Everyone just forgets about them. There’s too many people and they all want to forget and they keep shoving everyone in holes so they can ignore them. We can’t ever totally rehabilitate ourselves. We’re always making mistakes and trying to make up for them. I think that’s how we move forward, now. We need as many chances as we can get to change. That’s all I want. For people to have chances. People just need to do what they think is right. And try not to hurt anyone.
  • 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. By Igor's own admission he's interfering much more directly than he normally does, but he's intent on combating any manifestation of Nyarlathotep. Akira figures it out early on and doesn't resent being used, but does ask for a hefty favor in return, which Igor is fully willing to grant.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Nod: Many minor ones to previous Persona games, including the first two titles.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Some of the Confidants have lesser roles to play for obvious reasons, most notably Yuuki Mishima. Justified given how with the Phan-Site gone, Mishima doesn't know more than the average person and Ryuji refuses to get him involved because Mishima is occupied with entrance exams (which is very Serious Business for Japanese highschoolers) and doesn't want to put more on his plate.
  • Determinator: Goro Akechi absolutely refuses to go down.
    • He survives for nearly a year in an isolated hell with only Shadows for company. 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.
    • When he goes to save Joker from the Big Bad, he proceeds to burn his hands in trying to free him from Hastur's chains when Robin Hood and Loki are unable to save him themselves.
    • 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, borne of his determination.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: 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 Akechi. Aside from Akira, only Haru is courteous with him, and even she has no intention of actually forgiving him. 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. If that wasn't enough, Hastur turns out to be an avatar for Nyarlathotep.
  • Eldritch Location: The Metaverse, even more so than in the game. All the Palaces and Mementos 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: Rare heroic example. The Phantom Thieves are all understandably distrusting and wary of Goro Akechi and it's made clear that he's turning himself in when the entire ordeal is dealt with. However, Akira is very uncomfortable at the idea of Akechi getting the death penalty for his crimes and offers to speak to Sae about it. It's implied this sentiment is shared by the rest of the Thieves, even Futaba and Haru, the two he hurt the most. Justified given how he is Not So Different from them, even if he made the worse decisions each time (not to mention how Yaldabaoth rigged the game for Akira and him from the get-go.) In fact, by the end of the story, the Phantom Thieves come to accept Akechi as their friend, something that is represented by them calling him by his given name instead of surname, and decide to help him in getting a sentence that will give him a second chance instead of killing him or locking him for life.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Big Bad is one to the Phantom Thieves. In the Metaverse, he gains a form of apparel in being dressed in disheveled rags and he summons his own Persona in the form of Iago, a Villain Protagonist contrasting the various more heroic (for most of them) Personas of the Phantom Thieves. Iago possesses a humanoid if ugly appearance and possesses a unique talent in the form of chains to manipulate the environment. He even has an Ultimate Persona in Hastur, who is actually the Greater-Scope Villain who is using Seki as a pawn for his goals.
  • 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. Goro suffers severe burns and frostbite in trying to break them in saving Joker.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In contrast to how he reacts when he's defeated in Persona 2, Nyarlathotep doesn't seem to mind being defeated by the Phantom Thieves, mainly because he now knows that he can keep coming back.
  • First-Name Basis: The thieves start calling Goro Akechi with his given name as a representation of them accepting him as one of them, and also as their friend.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Iago's real identity as Hastur is foreshadowed by this exchange that occurs moments before he reveals his true form.
    Ryuji: Show us what you really are. Take off that mask!
    "Iago": Mask? I wear no mask.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Arsene notes humanity's contradictory nature, bringing to mind Nyarlathotep's own thoughts on humanity. Nyarlathotep appears as true cause behind the Paranoia Syndrome and the final threat the Phantom Thieves face.
    • Akira and Akechi's interactions with their masks foreshadowing their development:
      • When Akira removes his mask, he notes that it's tiring keeping it on constantly. It's symbolic Foreshadowing of the front of confidence he keeps up with his friends out of his insecurities. When he finally opens up with his friends and confides in them, his bonds with them and each other grow, restoring their Ultimate Personas through what is implied to be the World Arcana. He even becomes more willing to show his insecure side, somethign Sojiro is surprised by.
      • Akechi clings onto his mask, despite the growing cracks and the characters commenting on how misshapen and damaged it is, especially as the story progresses. It symbolizes him clinging onto his identity despite him no longer being the same person he was, out of fear that he does not know what he is underneath his guise as Black Mask. More immediate foreshadowing happens when he condemns Loki (who the mask is associated with) as gone for good when he gains his new true Persona, Zenigata and with it, a new bird-like mask, silver and with a curved beak. The fact that he can and does remove it to talk to Seki shows his new willingness to open up to people, even if it leaves him vulnerable.
  • Friendship Moment: Many of them. The biggest one in chapter 17 not so long after Akechi said how Seki has an advantage over him because he has people waiting for him to come back to:
    Akira: I don’t want this to be goodbye, Goro. Whatever you’ve changed into, whoever you are under all those masks…I want to know that person better. I want to see him again. Under better circumstances, next time. So don’t just throw your life away. Because you’ve got people waiting for you to come back, too.
  • From Bad to Worse: The end of chapter 15. From an unknown disease affecting the entire world and making everyone fall into comas to a huge shadow that has enough power to kill the Phantom Thieves and forcing them into a corner, to an apocalyptic manifestation of humanity's anxiety over the uncertainty of the future trying to bring them reckoning.
  • 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 justified due to Akechi's own turbulent, self-loathing personality and thus, being a reflection of that. When Akechi finally grasps his conviction wholly, Zenigata drops the taunts and congratulates him for choosing to live on, in spite of everything.
    • Naoto is very hostile towards Akechi when they first meet each other, and with good reasons for that. After a pep talk from Mitsuru and seeing how he truly wants to change, she gives him a friendlier approach.
  • Glass Cannon: The Big Bad's Persona Iago combines this with Fragile Speedster. Iago is powerful enough to level half of the cognitive Tokyo almost single-handedly and fast enough to parry the legendarily broken Hassou Tobi skill, but a couple of solid hits is enough to take him down, as Akechi landed a near one-hit KO on him from a single attack from Robin Hood. The same can be said for Iago's real form, Hastur. He is sent flying away from a powerful Bless skill from Goro's new Persona Zenigata and when he comes back to go through his other forms, they're taken down by the Thieves with one attack from each, albeit strong attacks buffed by Futaba. Yusuke even lampshades the frailty of Hastur and Iago. Per Word of God, this is actually because Hastur and Iago were just "projections" from the book Iago carried, which is one of Nyarlathotep's alternate forms, and the Crawling Chaos itself faces the Thieves when they're at full power.
  • 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, leading to him immediately trying to kill Akira when they reunite. He snaps back to reason after Iago comes for him and Joker, forcing the two to team up to get away.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Aigis is still like this even after years.
  • Heroic BSoD: The kid that Hastur used in his plot, Seki, is left in an extended state of this when he wakes up. According to his father in his letter to Akechi, he notes that Seki is now 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, anxiety and fear that has been now forced out alongside the guilt and horror that he was used to hurt hundreds of people by an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Seki's "Persona", the true culprit behind the Paranoia Syndrome, Iago/Hastur is revealed by the author to be Nyarlathotep.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: On a couple of occasions, Akechi is pushed to emotional outbursts. Most notably early on when it seems Joker has rebuffed him (implying that Goro is hurt and fearful that he broke the only real bonds he had) and later one when he saves Joker and Joker's gratitude and word choice indicates he considers Goro on of them as the Phantom Thieves. His relief in Akira being okay and the fact that he still has his bond with him reduces him to another intense emotional outburst and holding Akira.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: When Goro successfully saves Akira and the latter displays his thanks and confidence, the sense of camaraderie and relief cause Goro to collapse into hysterical sobbing while embracing Akira. Akira manages to embrace him back, too stunned to comment and feeling the emotional heat from him. This is actually treated as a positive thing, as Ryuji lampshades on how nice it was seeing Akechi actually be open with his emotions.
  • Inspiration Nod: invokedWord of God says their main inspiration for the fic was Goodnight Punpun. There's also more than a little of Night in the Woods, particularly in Hastur's speeches and Zenigata's interrogations of Akechi; both come close to diagnosing him and the Thieves with "monstrous existence" without ever quite dropping the term, and use very similar phrasing to The Sky Cat.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: That's Hastur's belief in humanity. Not surprising considering he's actually Nyarlathotep.
  • Ironic Echo: After being defeated, Nyarlathotep departs with "I am thou... and thou art I." It really hammers in how Nyarlathotep is the manifestation of the negative side of humanity.
  • 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. Also a bit deconstructed as the fact that it took something becoming personal to get involved actually becomes an uncomfortable sore point among the Thieves.
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed and justified. Nearly all of the hard evidence of Akechi's crimes is within Mementos (which is being consumed into the Sea of Souls) 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 the 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. He is painfully aware of the problems of society and how it runs on ignorance. He has a low view of most people in general (barring the Thieves, whom he actually sees as extraordinary) and despite this, he refuses to let the world end.
  • 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 unfolds into a massive laser gun to shoot the Big Bad.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Futaba describes her relation to Akira as such to Yusuke. However, she is so embarrassed in confessing this she tries to hang up on him, and later goes to wipe the records of that conversation and threatens Yusuke if he tells anyone. Not that he realizes what she's so worked up about.
  • Mind Screw: At the end of Akechi's trial, the Phantom Thieves pull of one of their craziest stunts to date. At Akira's behest, Igor temporarily installs the Meta-Nav onto the phones of everyone in the courthouse, pulling them into the uncorrupted Metaverse (where perceptions are reality), while Futaba spread rumors on the Internet that the Phantom Thieves would be at the trial and send a calling card to "reveal the truth". The result is the courthouse getting flooded with illusionary calling cards, each of which expresses Akechi's complicated feelings about himself in the words of the Phantom Thieves. Futaba describes the event as "we set the stage, Tokyo brought the props, Goro’s subconscious wrote the script." It lasts for 5 minutes, then everyone is returned to the real world and all evidence of what happened is gone, but to the rest of the world those people just briefly vanished into thin air, and commentators argue if it was some kind of chemical attack or actual magic.
  • Motifs: Flames are used to represent human passion and the desire to live. Conversely, the antagonists are associated with coldness and the deep sea. Holes feature prominently as representations of anxiety, uncertainty, and despair.
  • Multilayer Façade: Seki's Persona, Iago unmasks when the Phantom Thieves confront him and is revealed to be a disguise for Hastur, the being who is actually responsible for the Paranoia Syndrome. Additionally, the Hastur who initially confronts the Thieves is later revealed to be an avatar for his true form, the book he carried while in his Iago form. If that wasn't enough Hastur isn't actually his real name: it's Nyarlathotep.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seki is left in an extended state of horrified shock and regret when he wakes up and realizes how many people were hurt in his time as Hastur/Nyarlathotep's pawn. This combined with his pre-existing anxieties and fears proceeds to utterly emotionally wreck the poor kid.
  • 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 reveals that the reason everyone is going nuts is not Paranoia Syndrome per say, but as he puts it: "it’s because he’s forced everyone to confront the fragility of tomorrow." Mainly, all the doubt, fear and anxiety of an uncertain tomorrow that came about after Shido's fall and from the vacancy of Yaldabaoth. This appears to have led to the birth of Hastur, or rather the return of Nyarlathotep via a proxy through the hole formed in the collective unconscious.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: One of the few popular Persona 5 fics that lacks shipping or pairings. Although it has a few platonic hugs. The author said as a joke that Akechi/Misfortune was the only ship for it.
  • Not So Different:
    • Akechi and Akira are pretty much this. The young men work to better the world despite their cynicism regarding it (though the former much more so) and struggle with trying to be who they are. They also have a great deal of trouble of being vulnerable to let people close in. 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 from his Crow outfit.
    • Akechi and Seki are this, both being young men who were overwhelmed by their emptiness in a world that threatens to take everything from them. Akechi uses this to empathize with Seki several times, telling him You Are Not Alone. His final words to him is a gentle reminder that his mother is waiting for him.
    • Ryuji himself notes that he and Akira are a bit alike. He correctly suspects that Akira needs them as much as they need him and is the first to pick up on the hints on Akira's insecurity. When Ann asks why, he notes it is because he was the same way, which was why he still hung around the track team after disbandment, out of fear of being alone and noted why he embraced being a Phantom Thief.
  • Occam's Razor: Ryuji of all people is the one who applies this with an idealistic mindset on solving the case. 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 meanwhile realizes that someone like Seki wouldn't just want to ruin the world and while everything with the Palace makes sense, Iago clearly doesn't and thus is the real cause behind all of it.
  • 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:
    • The Big Bad uses a malevolent Persona in the form of Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. And the Greater-Scope Villain is named Hastur. A returning example occurs when Hastur is revealed to be Nyarlathotep.
    • We get a heroic example in Zenigata. He's likely named after Zenigata Heiji, a Sherlock Holmes-like hero created by novelist Kodō Nomura. A detective whose stories are set in the Edo period (1603–1868) of Japanese history, he's called Zenigata because of his tendency to use coins or zeni as weapons. Indeed, Zenigata is seen flipping a coin as an Idle Animation and using it as a weapon, albeit by loading it into his suitcase to turn it into an unfolding multi-barreled laser gun. However, his physical appearance as described is more than likely a Shout-Out to the Friendly Enemy Hero Antagonist of the same name from Lupin III, who is a descendant of the original Zenigata like how the protagonist is the grandson of the original Arsene Lupin. In fact, Akira subtly lampshades this by summoning Arsene after noting he has someone for Zenigata to meet. The two Personas tip their hats to each other in a moment of respect before finishing off Hastur, a definite reference to how Lupin III and his Zenigata are on amicable terms.
  • Reality Ensues: As noted in Karma Houdini, Akechi getting off as he did is pretty realistic, all things considered. It's his word, a minor, against that of an adult. The adult would be held as the one primary responsabile for it, especially due to overseeing the other collaborators, including a yakuza cleaner. At the same time, Shido's new conscience would lead him to claim the entirety of the responsability and thus a lighter sentence for Akechi, in order to give his son a second chance in life. Any hard evidence would've been destroyed or required access to the Metaverse (and Mementos is already being consumed into the Sea of Souls anyway meaning it would not be long before even that is gone for good.) Additionally, Akechi becoming something of a Boxed Crook through work in the Shadow Operatives makes sense given the extensive influence of Kirijo Group. Plus, Japanese law enforcement does have a history of using former criminals as spies (known as okappiki).
  • 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. Except it's subverted. It's all but explicitly said he's playing the jerkass angle up as to warrant sympathy for Akechi and give him a lighter sentence. It makes sense when you realize that with his Treasure gone, he is genuinely remorseful, especially to the son that he damaged by all of this and thus wants to give him a second chance.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: A recurring theme throughout the story, especially with regards to Akechi.
  • Rescue Arc: The beginning of the second half of the fic is focused on the Phantom Thieves trying to rescue Akira from Seki Shimizu's Palace.
  • Running Gag:
    • Akechi taking Ryuji's hoodie as a way to not attract attention to himself while investigating Seki's house. It's mentioned in the next chapter after it and in chapter 18.
      Ryuji: and speak for yourselves about the whole “friends” thing, he might’ve saved our asses a bunch of times but he still jacked my hoodie and that shit ain’t right
      Akira: I heard about that, it was hilarious
      Ryuji: DUDE. BETRAYAL.
    • Ryuji gets repeatedly baffled at how Akira seems to know and/or work part-time for everyone in Tokyo.
  • Sad Clown: Akira's snarky, laid-back attitude is a front for his concerns of the future and insecurities regading the bonds with his friends. Part of his Character Development is being more emotionally open to them. He does so when Hastur calls him out and Akechi gently tells him to. He proceeds to bare his soul to them, which they're quite surprised by. It also serves to reinforce their bonds and thus restore their Personas to their ultimate forms.
  • The Scottish Trope: The Velvet Room residents refuse to call Yaldabaoth anything other than "the Usurper".
  • 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. However, this is also pretty deconstructed; despite self-motivated behavior being portrayed positively in the game, the fanfic proceeds to dissect some problems associated with those sort of behavior. When the Thieves discuss their findings on Paranoia Syndrome, Ryuji becomes more frustrated and agitated. He ends up going on an outburst on how the main reason Paranoia Syndrome got so bad in the first place was that they, the Phantom Thieves, didn't do anything about it. When Makoto notes that they promised to leave this sort of stuff to the adults, he retorts by pointing out that the adults cannot do anything regarding cognitive pscience or Mementos and if they actually took a moment to investigate it when it was first heard, they would've realized they were the only ones who could've fixed it from the get-go rather than wait for Akira to "fall ill" (when in turn, was Akira investigating Paranoia Syndrome only because Futaba confided her anxieties to him because her new friend fell ill and Akira ended up back in the Velvet Room). Yusuke then points out the uncomfortable truth that this has been part of the modus operandi of the Thieves since the beginning. While they did have general desires to help people, what really got them involved was when It's Personal came into play, damaging morale. Morgana ends up appearing and changing the subject, noting that they need to focus on what they can do now. However, an overarching pattern in the story is that people's selfishness does lead to not noticing the problems of others until it affects everyone else and how detrimental this is since human bonds are the main thing to live for.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Akira and Akechi seem to be this with the latter on different sides regarding on society, how it works and it improving. However, because they're both Not So Different, it can be more difficult to decide.
    • However, one can expand the 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 on what they are doing and saving society, Ryuji remains the outspoken bright light who believes in what they are for changing society and comforting people. Hell, he even chides himself and the team for not being on top of the Paranoia Syndrome case much sooner. This seems to be part of why he clashes with Akechi in the story and it's this idealistic mentality that helps him deduce what is actually going on, namely that he refuses to believe that Seki would just go about trying to ruin the world on his own before pointing out how everything but Iago seems to fit and thus Ryuji confronting him. When the others realize he's right and back him up, Iago tosses the charade off for the final battle.
  • So Proud of You: Sojiro gives the Phantom Thieves a heartwarming speech of this when they go to rescue Akira once more and stop Paranoia Syndrome.
    Sojiro: I know that you’ll never be recognized for the things you’ve done. Seems like you and Akira have made your peace with that. But, for whatever little it’s worth, I do recognize it. And I’m proud of it. Proud of you all.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Morgana pulls one of these on the Phantom Thieves in Leblanc, after hitching rides all the way from Akira's hometown.
  • Stealth Pun: Iago references Hastur's Not a Mask quote after it's revealed that he's not a Persona before in turn revealing his true form. The Phantom Thieves' Personas take the form of masks when not in use.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Hastur is very similar to Nyarlathotep, down to even the same Catchphrase. In the end, the author confirms it was indeed Nyarlathotep, with both Iago and Hastur being projections of Iago's book - that ended up as another one of the Crawling Chaos' forms.
  • Take a Third Option: Akechi is torn between Loki and Robin Hood, showing his conflict on trying to decide who he is and what he wants to be. However, it's implied that Loki is closer to what he is (or rather was) while Robin Hood is based on who he wanted to be and representing his bond with Akira. He doesn't really use Loki and while Robin Hood is plenty strong (in fact, he was the one who saved Akechu back on Shido's ship), it's not enough. His true Persona is born when he undergoes a new Awakening, killing off Loki and replacing him with Zenigata.
  • Tarot Motifs: The dominant card of the story 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 Yaldabaoth and probably where the Crawling Chaos came out to torment humanity once more.
    • A more subtle example may be the World, given how Akira's Character Development has him open up entirely to his friends, making them a part of it. In fact, given how he describes them as "meaning the world" to him followed by the restoration of their Ultimate Personas, it's implied he did this through the power of the World Arcana granted to him by Igor before leaving Tokyo a year ago.
  • Tarot Troubles: This comes up when Yusuke asks Chihaya to look into Akira's status.
  • Tranquil Fury: Igor of all people shows a glimpse of the rage he feels toward Yaldabaoth while speaking to Akechi and it's pretty terrifying:
    Igor: But the Usurper? His voice grew harsher. He was the first to strike at the Velvet Room directly. To corrupt its purpose and mistreat its attendants, and mislead a guest onto a path that would end only in destruction. For this, I despise him.
    Akechi recoiled away from the bars. Igor’s fists had clenched; upon speaking that word his gentle voice had acquired a guttural chthonic rumble that set Akechi’s heart rattling in his ribcage. The entire Velvet Room seemed to bow outward like a boiler about to burst; the shadows all fled to the far ends of their cells, quivering in terror.
  • True Companions: The Phantom Thieves obviously, but the nature of this explored as the Thieves confide and lean on another. A massive moment of this is in how Joker admits this to the team and how important they and the moments they share are to him in a touching and surprising moment of emotional vulnerability. This is what re-empowers the Thieves to their Ultimate Personas. This even includes Akechi during his trial where he realizes he does come to view them as this and that he believes the Thieves view him as one as well. Akira pretty much admits its true in his text with everyone.
  • Tsundere: Futaba has subtle shades of this, namely in that she becomes flustered and defensive whenever her friends see her be openly emotional or caring. She flips out in embarrassment when she accidentally confesses to Yusuke that she sees Akira like a brother and after Sojiro's So Proud of You speech, Futaba is so touched that she begins tearing up and actually hugs Sojiro. She then wipes her eyes and glares at her friends out of insecurity they may comment on it.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Parodied in chapter 13:
    Makoto: Ryuji, classes start in fifteen minutes. Why are you just waking up now?
    Ryuji: Who even cares, this is like the best possible day to play hooky anyway
    Makoto: The world will not end within the next eight hours, Ryuji. ...Probably.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line: In chapter 13.
    Ryuji: Makes sense you’d get a little woozy if you stared into the sun.
    Yusuke: You misunderstand me. That is not the sun. It’s a hole.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Played for Laughs. Nobody seems to know what happened to Sugimura, Haru's scumbag fiancé. The Thieves half-seriously wonder if Haru discreetly had him killed, but are too intimidated by her to ask.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ryuji of all people gives one... to himself and the rest of the Phantom Thieves:
    Ryuji: What the hell is wrong with us?” Ain’t we supposed to be these big-shot saviors of society and all that? Meanwhile this shit’s been going on for months and I’ve been worryin’ about entrance exams and beating my best time on the damn track. Now the whole world feels like it’s gonna blow up any second and we can’t even do shit about it. Why’d we wait so long? ...I know it’s ‘cause of Akira. We started looking into this for his sake. But it shouldn’t have been. We should’ve been on top of this. It’s our fault it got this bad.
    Makoto: We promised to entrust society’s future to-
    Ryuji: To the adults! I know! But this ain’t what we meant, and if we’d taken five goddamn minutes to pay attention we would’ve figured that out right away! Adults can’t deal with this cognitive-psience paranormal bullshit, it’s gotta be us!
  • 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 and anxieties about the future and life for years. He finally hits rock bottom with the death of his dog, thus forming his Palace. Worse still is when Eldritch Abomination Hastur/Nyarlathotep latches onto him and uses him as a pawn to exploit the anxiety of Tokyo and cause widespread panic that spreads globally. While Shimizu does face his Shadow, he is left an emotional and shaken wreck with his anxieties out in the open and living with the guilt of what Hastur manipulated him into doing.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The Phantom Thieves try to hammer this message home when Akechi, whom at this point made it clear he doesn't care about what happens to him, is going through his trial and created a cognitive version of their Calling Card. Futaba says they were lucky with that because, if he had a worse self-worth at that moment, he would probably get a life sentence or worse. Akira says he is glad he could think about himself at least a little by the end.
  • You Are Not Alone: A prominent theme of the fanfic is on letting people in and the importance of bonds, something that both Akira and Goro go through. 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 finally begins opening up and solidifying his conviction allows him to awaken a new Persona, or rather a death and rebirth given how Loki slays himself before being replaced by Zenigata, who proceeds to save the team. Goro tells this to Seki, noting how even the frightening future can be less scary with friends by your side.
  • You Can Panic Now: Joker instructing the Phantom Thieves after Seki's Shadow overpowers them: "Everyone. Do what he says. Run. Just run!"
  • You Remind Me of X: Aigis says that Akechi resembles the way she once felt, after his trial:
    Aigis: In a manner of speaking. I was struck by your appearance after the television broadcast resumed. There was quite a bit of debate on why you reacted the way you did, upon receiving that calling card. But I think that I have felt something similar. It’s gratifying, isn’t it?
    Akechi: What is?
    Aigis: Finding a reason to live.

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