1020: Persona 3: Trade Me – Chapter 24

Title: Persona 3: Trade Me
Author: Bayanette Winters
Media: Video Game
Topic: Persona
Genre: Romance/Adventure
URL: Chapter 24
Critiqued by Erttheking

Ert: He wasn’t there?

Goeth: We must’ve caught him in transit. He could be at any of the previous places. We’re swapping out shifts and taking another look.

Woods: Well, on with the story?

Ert: Yeah, might as well.

Chapter 21

Ert: Song.

(Song Counter: 22)

05/14/2014 11:59pm

Yukari adjusted her pink gear, then she stretched the string of her bow. It almost sang beneath her fingers, showing off how strong it was. She gave it a smile; nothing felt more natural than having that weapon in her hands. It was too bad that she probably wouldn’t use it tonight.

Goeth: Yes, the bow is late for a meeting with the quartet it is currently practicing for, as it is clearly a magical bow.

“Takeba,” Mitsuru called. Yukari approached the leader, who was standing to the side of the others. The girl hadn’t seen many uncertain and contemplative looks on the woman’s face before. It left her unsettled. Still, she did her best to keep her voice level.

Woods: What does contemplation and uncertainty do to raise someone’s voice?

“What’s up?” She asked casually. The attempt was a royal fail, but Mitsuru seemed to appreciate it.

“I’m assigning you and Koromaru to Sonnel.” She stated it plainly, her eyes somewhere else. “Knowing the pattern of the Shadows so far, they’ve always been able to find her before we can locate them. I’ll need you to keep traveling through the city to throw off her scent.”

Ert:…I’m sorry what?

“Scent?” Yukari hadn’t been near enough to the girl to really pick up a smell…but maybe it was an ability that only the big, bad Shadows had.

Woods: Because apparently the oppressed emotions of humanity given form have an excellent sense of smell. The only one I would buy this for is the Strength arcana, and it seems we’re not doing the arcana here so that doesn’t matter.

“I can’t seem to think of another reason that they’re able to find her so quickly each full moon.”

Ert: Then go back and think harder because that’s a STUPID answer. Personas can detect Shadows at long distance, maybe it can work the other way around. Heck, before Fuuka showed up, detecting Shadows with Personas was YOUR job Mitsuru.

Mitsuru shook something out of her head. “Regardless, I’m counting on you to keep her as far away from the battlefield as possible.”

Yukari nodded. “Understood. You can count on me!”

Woods: Is anyone here actually expecting Aila to not be involved in this fight?

Ert: Nope.

Goeth: Camera rolling!

“And please remember…don’t allow her to enter the battlefield. At least for the time being.”

Ert: I’m totally sure Aila will not be taking part in any fighting! I am super certain.

“A-alright.” Yukari sensed the deep turmoil within Mitsuru’s voice and thought it best not to question her. The woman’s head bobbed again and she excused herself.

Woods: I is Mitsuru. I has turmoil. Seriously I do. Bye now.

Yukari wondered where she should take Aila. Where would they be safe from Shadows in a city like this? In the Dark Hour, it seemed too small and restricted. She couldn’t come up with anywhere good to hide.

Goeth: I suppose I could do research or ask boss lady…NAH!

Koromaru appeared at her side, nudging her leg with his furry head. Yukari gave him a gentle smile.

Ert: I WANT OUT OF THIS CRAZY MISSION! You’re all stupid! I wanna live!

“We’ll figure it out, huh, boy?” She said, rubbing the area between his perky ears. The dog barked, supposedly in confirmation.

Ert: Even though he was actually calling her stupid.

The girl felt better knowing that she wouldn’t be alone in this guard duty…but also questioned if it’d be enough to keep all three of them safe. Since Mitsuru had reported to them on Ken’s incident, most members of the team were hesitant about being near to Aila.

Woods: Because everywhere else is oh so safe. And their old leader was a paragon of safety.

For Yukari, it had become personal when the girl had started reciting one of her private moments with their previous leader. She didn’t know what it was about this red-eyed broad, but something just didn’t sit right with her.

Goeth: The moment when they did the thing? With the thing? TO THE THING!?

(Because…Thing Counter: 6)

…. …. ….

Midnight

So much for staying out of sight…

Ert: Annnnnnd no one is surprised. Seriously, this chapter didn’t even TRY to lead us on.

Yukari rounded a corner to the Paulownia Mall plaza and led the way into Club Escapade. She tried to catch her breath, as did her two companions. They’d escaped a smaller group of Shadows and were hoping for any decent hiding place at this point.

Woods: So what tactical advantage is splitting up providing? If they’re that worried about the shadows homing in on Aila, here’s what you do. Find an area where you can bottleneck them, have Aila be at the far end of the bottleneck with a guard, and have your heavy hitters at the front to blast any Shadows that come anywhere near. Is that ok or am I making too much sense.

As they listened to the monsters search for the group outside, Yukari stared at the various dancers in the club. The dance floor wasn’t too full, as it’d been late when time started slowing down.

Ert: It’s called a NIGHT club you know.

Citizen’s arms were gradually moving in unique waves and bobs. Yukari half-wondered what song had been playing before the interruption. This suddenly made her remember the new one she’d heard on the radio the other day; it seemed like one you could dance to at a club like this. If only she could remember the name….

Goeth: So this woman is the type of person that would get distracted if you jingled your house keys in front of her face, isn’t she?

Ert: Certainly looks that way.

Goeth: I’m gonna try and draw up a profile for her.

Something growled outside, snapping Yukari back to reality-or whatever this blue thing was. Aila and Koromaru both tensed beside her and listened for the noises to fade outside. The light-brown haired girl suddenly caught Aila’s gaze and held it for a moment. The naginata-wielding girl under her protection wore a midnight-blue jacket, covering her eccentric pink hair with its hood. Her jeans were her usual faded pair, littered with holes from both age and battle. Yukari had earlier heard something jingling at her companion’s belt, but couldn’t see anything now. She did take notice that Aila had the borrowed holster for her Evoker tied constricting around her right thigh. Yukari recalled Mitsuru’s previous request and made a mental note not to let Minako’s cousin even touch the gun.

Woods: *Snaps fingers* SHADOWS! OUTSIDE! SAVE THIS FOR LATER!

Ert: And what is so terrifying about Aila using her Persona that they would rather not let her fight at all. What? Give me a reason!

When everything went quiet outside, there was a collective sigh in the group.

“What now?” Aila asked Yukari. She’d been more than willing to cooperate with her team leader, which made the latter feel conflicted. As much as the archer-ess wanted to be suspicious of the girl before her, she couldn’t help but feel a bit grateful for her presence…even if she was reminded of Minako at all times.

Goeth: I feel suspicious but I like her because raisins and something about cooperation that’s worded poorly.

Wood: And archer isn’t a gendered term! A male archer is an archer. A female archer is also an archer!

“We shouldn’t stay here,” Yukari stated. “It’s not safe to be in one place for too long. We need to keep moving until the Dark Hour ends.” Aila and Koromaru nodded, cautiously following her back into the open.

Ert: Well they didn’t come into this place for some reason, so instead of trying to figure out why and exploit it, let’s just run around like chickens with our heads cut off, like it’s the headless chicken Olympics.

Goeth: Oh, you’re going to that on Sunday too?

No Shadows were present, leaving the trio to wander for a while without interruption.

Woods: Can we ask Fuuka where they are?

Ert: NO LOGIC ALLOWED!

Yukari’s feet kept moving, but they lacked direction; she had no clue where they would be safe. Thus far, everywhere she’d come up with had really strong monsters lurking everywhere. With a sigh, she stopped and stared at the buildings before them.

Goeth: But we didn’t get to see that because thing.

“What do you think, Koro-chan?” Yukari asked quietly, so as not to alert any creatures nearby. The dog whined behind her; he didn’t seem to have any ideas either.

Ert: Also being, you know, a dog.

“What’s that?” Aila inquired softly. Yukari turned around and followed her gaze. She was looking into a rather dark alley, to which she was certain held nothing but a dead-end.

“I don’t see anything,” she replied. Aila started moving towards it. “H-hey! Don’t go off on your own!”

Woods: But I like walking off in random directions and nearly getting killed by my own bottomless stupidity.

“There’s something there,” Aila insisted. Reluctantly, the team leader went after the girl. Despite the danger they were in, she was curious as to what Aila saw that she couldn’t.

Ert: Can we just rename this story “Stupid teenagers do random things”

At the end of the alley, Yukari finally saw something glitter. It was a strange door that she was certain hadn’t been there earlier. It stood against the far wall, shimmering with small white stars along the edges. The wood didn’t hold a knob-or any other way to open it, for that matter-but instead had a masquerade eyepiece at its center. While the door was painted like the night sky, the mask was a dull red. It blinked as the group got closer to it, as though the object could see their approach.

Goeth: If it’s a door with no way to open it is it really a door? Sounds more like an oddly shaped wall.

“What is that?” Yukari asked. She went towards the door and touched it; it was warm and pulsing. Her hand withdrew. “Ugh! It’s like it’s….”

“Alive,” Aila finished. When her fingers pressed over the wood, the mask’s material started shifting like blood.

Woods: How does one shift like blood?

Goeth: Hell if I know, my research into blood magic never produced any tangible results. It’s why I stick to technology.

However, it did not open. This was something Yukari would need to report to Mitsuru as soon as they met up. Luckily, the group would have a sure-fire way to find them, even if Fuuka failed.

Ert: Fuuka has already failed frankly, on account of her not really doing anything.

“Let’s get going,” she muttered, feeling a chill run up her spine as she stared at the creepy visor. “We should hurry before-”

Koromaru started growling as something approached from behind. The girls whirled around to find themselves knee-to-face with a giant beast. It was a cloaked figure that rose far above them, its piercing chrome eyes flickering at every movement the three below it made. Yukari didn’t think twice; she rose her bow and aimed straight for the hood. The black cloak shifted to the side, but its shoulder was grazed by the arrow.
Woods: Is it really a best if it’s a figure in a cloak? Beasts aren’t really well known for trying to look like they just got kicked out of a second rate cult for looking too tacky.

“Damn,” she hissed. She drew another projectile from the quiver on her back. “Koromaru!”

The dog gripped a knife in its mouth, leaping for the monster’s torso. He got in a good hit, but the Shadow didn’t pull back. It acted as though nothing happened.

Ert: With the way it was described, I’m starting to suspect it really was nothing.

Yukari saw Aila reaching for her Evoker, but called for the girl not to. She raised her own weapon to her forehead.

Woods: I think we’re all gonna die!

Ert: BUT IF YOU USE IT THEN THING WILL HAPPEN! Also once again, actually showing things is 2 hard.

“Isis!” She yelled.

Ert:…Nah, too obvious.

A winged-Egyptian bust rose from her soul. “Garudyne!” The wind picked up around the companions and centered on the Shadow. The cloak beat wildly in the air before an intense force clamped over it. It would’ve taken the air out of anyone’s lungs-or more accurately crush them-but the Shadow only wavered for a moment.

“We’re here!” Yukari heard Ken call behind the cloak. Though she couldn’t see them, she could sense her friends outside of the alley.

Goeth: The Shadow was predictably going to head straight for you but we thought ditching you was a good idea and now we’re here to help you even though we had no idea where you were or that you needed help. That’s some good story right there!

“Get that thing away from us so we can escape!” She called. Koromaru howled and summoned Cerberus. It used a series of heavy fire attacks to try and drive the Shadow back. The Shadow was pushed back slightly. There were a series of shatters, and other Personas attempted to pull the beast towards the mall plaza.

“It’s not budging!” Akihiko grunted. At the sound of his voice, Aila’s head bobbed up. She pulled back her naginata, readying for an attack.

Ert: You know, this thing isn’t really DOING anything. Man, the Shadows here are getting lame. We go from cage lady, to multi-headed thing, to many fingered mommy…to thing in cloak.

“Stay back!” Yukari ordered. Suddenly, the cloak met her gaze and slowly opened its center. Inside was no body; only a large TV screen projecting white noise. As the static faded, an image revealed itself.

Ert:…Oh. It’s got a TV for a torso. Well. That’s better than.

“Yukari….”

The girl jumped back; it was her father.

“Help me, Yukari. Please, help me.” The man started beating at the TV screen, as though its glass were a prison he couldn’t escape. Yukari shook her head and drew her bow.

Goeth: Man, there’s nothing good on today.

“N-no! You’re not real!” She let loose an arrow. It made a light and innocent clink as it hit the screen.

Woods:…Was this honestly something that needed to be clarified. Hey a giant cloaked figure walked up to me in the hour where hell breaks loose and showed me my dad in the TV it had for a torso. Guys, I think it might be legit!

“Please, Yukari, it is me. My soul is trapped in this world. Please set me free!”

His voice was so real, so close. It flooded her eyes and ears, making the rest of the world seem so distant. She hadn’t thought that she’d hear that voice ever again. Now, just when she’d really felt like she’d moved on from her troubled past, she was standing face-to-face with the man she’d loved most.

Ert: Oh no, this is sad. And emotional. And shit.

“Y-you’re not real!” Yukari cried, not even believing her own words. In her head, she had to know that it was an illusion, but it wouldn’t sink in. She was paralyzed as she stared at the man. She couldn’t break free from his desperate stare. But she had to get away, she had to escape before-“

Ert: DADDY IS IN THE TV WORLD BECAUSE THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Seriously, these people are so emotionally fragile that the slightest poke causes them to start falling apart at the seams. People break sometimes, but for fuck’s sake, you need to put a bit of strain in before that happens. Short of the most mentally and emotionally unstable people out there, I feel confident in saying we don’t just break at the drop of a hat.

“Takeba!” Mitsuru’s voice came. Without the girl’s notice, the Shadow had taken a bony gray hand and lifted her entranced body to its face. It brought her nearer and nearer to its face, to which she assumed held a vicious set of fangs waiting to eat her up. There was nothing she could do to stop it.

Wood: Summon her Persona, struggle, wiggle your way out, hit the wrist of the hand, bite, kick and stab it with an arrow. Things that she could be doing, but isn’t. Oh wait wait, SHE IS HYPNOTIZED BY TV DADDY! God this is stupid.

“Stop!” Aila cried beneath her. The Shadow flinched only slightly. Yukari’s head limply fell back, catching sight of the girl beneath her. Aila threw off her hood, revealing a half-brown, half-pink head of hair. Sharply, she drew forth her Evoker and decisively pressed it to her temple. Something dangled at her wrist that Yukari couldn’t quite place. “Come forth, Cybele!”

Ert: Cybele? Hm. Decent Persona but realistically if she’s summoning Personas like this she should have access to better ones. Also, is she pulling from Minako’s stored Personas or is she finding these herself?

A shatter rang out and a blue demon-woman dressed in nothing but a ribbon arose. She gave Yukari a knowing wink; they shared the same Arcana.

Goeth: Yes, wink at the entranced woman because you share the arcana that dozens of others also inhabit.

“Cybele, use Myriad Arrows!”

Dozens upon dozens of sharp objects rained down on the Shadow. It didn’t hurt it much, but it was irritated enough to release Yukari. As she descended, another shatter rang out.

“Come forth, Melcheizedek!”

Yukari was caught by an armored fighter that reminded the girl of a character from Featherman R. It lowered her gently to the ground beside Aila, who was still barking commands. “Use Akasha Arts!” The Persona dashed for the Shadow, pounding it mercilessly with its fists. It made the Shadow stumble back in surprise, but….

Woods: And Aila’s Personas are doing damage where the other ones couldn’t because the plot is ready to move forward. Also she’s pulling Personas that she apparently knows that she has out of her anus because why not. Also she’s giving them commands like they’re pokemon, saying things like “Use X” while everyone else just says “X” because fuck consistency.

“We’re not out of the clear yet,” Aila muttered, unzipping her jacket. That’s when Yukari saw them; dozens of trinkets were attached to her neck, wrist, and to a key ring on her belt loops. She thought that she’d seen most of them somewhere before, but couldn’t recall at first where. Then, she saw attached to Aila’s wrist a very familiar object: it was the cell phone strap she’d given Minako as a sign of their friendship.

Ert: FEEL EMOTIONS! FEEL EMOTIONS! THE AUTHOR HAS PRODUCED A RANDOM THINGIE AND NOW YOU WILL FEEL EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO IT! We don’t care if it was only vaguely mentioned in the game, you establish stuff like this, you don’t just go “Hey remember thing from game! Here is thing! EMOTION NOW!” Also is Yukari out of it or not?

Anger and fury lifted Yukari from her seat on the ground. How the hell did this girl get that?! No one had seen Minako’s various gifts in years…how had she obtained such a precious treasure to their old leader, and their old leader only?!

Woods: Because of running off in a random direction, because having actual development or struggle bring about change is to squares daddy-o

Aila put the Evoker to her head once more. “When I give the signal, you move,” she told Yukari.

“You’re not in charge of me!”

Goeth: Acting like a spoiled child for no reason mode, GO!

It was involuntary, but the scold escaped anyway. Aila’s eyes turned towards the girl, who noticed one red pupil was glowing more than the other.

Goeth: Yup, daemonic possession.

“Trust me!” Aila begged, resuming her assault on the Shadow. “Kohryu!” A brilliant dragon took the place of the action hero. Aila leapt onto the creature’s back and let it take her to the skies.

Ert: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, fuck you, no.  You are not going fucking Never Ending Story on us.

(Mary Sue Counter: 41)

The Shadow followed, opening up Yukari’s escape. She and the others watched the ascent as they gathered in the plaza’s center. The cloak caught up easily to the dragon, reaching out a violent claw to strike the creature down. Aila cried out and began to fall as Kohryu disappeared.

Woods: WELL GLAD TO SEE THAT THAT WASN’T A STUPID MOVE!

“Castor!” The horseman-Persona flew to slow Aila’s descent. The Shadow was advancing towards them.

“Siegfried!” Another armored warrior appeared, trying to block the cloak in its path. The monster barreled right into its chest, taking a moment to slowly crack through its defense. The Persona shattered and the Shadow collided with Castor. Two shouts of pain sounded.

Goeth: So while falling from the sky, Aila summons a Persona to help Shinji’s Persona rescue her…why doesn’t she just summon a Persona to rescue her? The TV man is clearly distracted.

“Athena!” Aigis pointed her Persona to Aila, which caught her before the ground could. Aila struggled to sit up from Athena’s hold.

“Lucifer!”

Ert: NO! FUCK YOU! I don’t care if he’s actually a Persona, you don’t pull out something like FUCKING LUCIFER THAT LIGHTLY! For the record, a lot of these Personas are the ultimate Personas for a lot of the arcana, and in order to make them you need to fuse them after forming a strong unbreakable bond with someone who represents that arcana. WHAT HAS THIS BRAT DONE TO EARN ANY OF THIS!?

(Mary Sue Counter: 42)

A god-like being appeared with 6 wings extending from its back. “Morning Star!”

A brilliant light blinded the comrades and they heard the Shadow let out a short cry. However, when their visions returned, it was still very much alive. Lucifer disappeared and Aila let out a choke, like she was drowning in something.

“Don’t use all of your energy, Sonnel!” Mitsuru cautioned as she and the others went to shield Aila’s form. The half-brunette shakily stood.

Goeth: This whole fight has been “They hit the thing and it didn’t work, so they hit it harder and it just kinda stood there except for sometimes.”

“Nothing’s stopping this thing,” she muttered, gripping her stomach.

“It had no present weaknesses,” Aigis observed.

“No weaknesses?!” Junpei hollered. “How are we supposed to beat it?!”

Woods: She said no weaknesses, not that it was invulnerable. Lack of weaknesses just means nothing that can be noticeably exploited.

“We must keep fighting,” Mitsuru stated. She rose her rapier, her black suit squeaking as her limbs moved. She called for Artemisia to use and ice ability against the Shadow. The cloak was slowed in mid-air; this would buy some time.

“Caesar!” Akihiko cried. “Ziodyne!” A storm came down upon the monster.

“Trismegistus! Deathbound!” Junpei’s swift Persona swooped in, aiding Caeser in his assault. The Shadow’s cloak tore in many places; they were finally starting to wear it down. As it recovered, the Shadow split its cloak open again.

Ert: It’s still going…anyone got a deck of cards?

“Do not look into the screen!” Aigis yelled.

Woods: You’ll be forced to have incredibly forced drama!

The static started to fade. Yukari watched Aila raise her Evoker once more. “Surt!” A massive being knelt just behind the group, its entire body pulsing with magma. It gripped a flaming sword in its hands and waited for its orders. “Ragnarok!”

Goeth: So is there any rhyme or reason to the Personas she’s pulling out.

Ert: No, I think she’s trying to pull out as many cool ones as she can. Problem is that it comes off as nonsensical and isn’t nearly as cool as when Yu did it.

Surt lifted its weapon and the ground beneath the Shadow started to simmer. Yukari had just enough time to catch a glance of a boy’s face against the TV before the cloak was enveloped in a searing pyre. The creature wailed and more of its fabric disappeared.

Woods: Ok, either this thing is supposed to be nothing but a cloak, which is a boring design, or the action is focusing completely on this thing’s clothes, which is boneheaded.

However, the screen was still flickering. As the Shadow sent forth a steaming breath from beneath its cloak, Aila’s eyes were mystically lured to the image. The archer-ess heard voices come from the Shadow’s torso. She vaguely recognized them from her encounter in Inaba, but paid little attention to them.

Ert: So in trying to guilt trip them to stop attacking/hypnotize them/whatever it brings up people they’ve met a grand total of one time?

She tried yelling for Aila’s attention. The girl couldn’t respond. Something she saw in the TV brought tears to her ruby eyes.

Goeth: Oh me oh may oh my. I think Aila is about to become even more twagick.

Swiftly, Yukari drew her bow and let loose on the Shadow’s head. It stuck in one of the brilliant yellow windows. The cloak cried out, lashing blindly at the team before it. Yukari and her companions managed to avoid the blows, but Aila couldn’t move, and one of the clawed hands was sailing her way.

Woods: I AM FAR TOO EMOTIONAL AND TRAGIC TO MOVE!

“Aila!” Akihiko started barreling towards her. Just as the Shadow was about to separate the girl’s torso from her hips, the silverette shouldered Aila out of the way. He took the blow to his left side, leaving long bleeding scratches along his arm and leg.

Ert: It’s been established he could’ve used his Persona to do that, but nah, let’s go for the option that lets Aila cry, because lord knows we haven’t gotten enough of that.

Aila came to from her spot on the ground. She caught sight of her friend’s injuries and a look of panic crossed her eyes.”No…”

Goeth: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!…Can I get my oscar now?

Yukari brought forth Isis to heal her companion’s wounds. Even as the marks sealed back up, she felt that something had changed around all of the operatives. Aila gradually stood, letting her head hang low for a moment. The Shadow had recovered and returned the screen to the half-brunette. Yukari’s voice went to call for her again, but when Aila’s head snapped up, the entire battlefield fell silent. An Evoker rose once more to the temple of someone strong and resolved.

Ert: *Snort* Oh sure, she was about to lose her shit because of something a static filled TV showed her, but now that Akihiko got boo-boos from both of them being idiots? SHIT BE GETTING REAL!

“Come forth,” came a voice from Aila’s throat, “Orpheus Telos!”

Ert: And go fuck yourself! And then keep fucking yourself and NEVER STOP FUCKING FUCKING YOUR FUCKING SELF! Aila just summoned the strongest Persona in Persona 3. You need to max out every Social Link to get that, and then you need a special item from Igor. You cannot just summon it whenever you want to. Speaking of which, if she had the strongest Persona in the game and could summon it whenever she wanted, WHY DIDN’T SHE USE IT EARLIER!?

(Mary Sue Counter: 43)

This shatter was deafening, and the being that came forth was nearly too blinding to handle. The harped-Persona stood strong behind its master, making all of Minako’s gifts glitter against Aila’s body.

Woods: Yeah no. Personas are formed on emotional relationships. You cannot just borrow the bonds someone else made and use them for yourselves, that’s not how it works!

With a vicious gleam, Orpheus Telos took the instrument from its back and bashed it over the Shadow’s TV, much as one would with a baseball bat or kitchen sink. The glass blasted from the box and the Shadow was knocked back.

“Wrong channel,” Aila’s ethereal voice spoke.

Goeth:…Zing?

She gave a mischievous grin. “You’re not using the right episodes on me.” Yukari felt a shudder run through her veins; this wasn’t Aila anymore.

Ert: Yeah, she’s making horrible puns. Ones that don’t even really make sense.

The half-brunette rose her hand again. “Destroy it, Orpheus! And don’t let up until it’s turned to dust!” The Persona obeyed and began conducting a lyrical and murderous assault over the Shadow’s head. The party watched the event, uncertain of whether to intervene or let Aila carry on. However, as the girl swayed in place, Yukari saw someone approach her carefully.

Wodds: Duhhhh, what we do?

Ert: Nuthin?

Woods: Good plan!

“That’s enough, Aila,” Shinjiro called, reaching for the girl’s arm. “You’re gonna hurt yourself!” Aila’s body convulsed as he spoke, and her Persona’s bashes became more uncontrollable. Shinjiro shook the girl’s limb. “Dammit, I said STOP!”

Goeth: STOP IT PLEASE! THE VAGUE ACTIONS OF YOUR PERSONA ARE MORE THAN I CAN BARE!

Orpheus Telos let out a long cry, gripping its head as Aila did the same. The Shadow, with much effort, lifted a tired claw and used the strength that remained to dig deep into the chest of the Persona above.

Woods: Wait, so the thing wasn’t dead and this wasn’t a case of overkill? It was just Shinji being overemotional and letting Aila get hurt to save her from getting hurt? IS THERE A SINGLE CHARACTER WHO DIDN’T PUT THEIR PANTS ON THEIR HEAD TODAY!?

Two screams rang out, making the ground quake. Everyone was thrown off of their feet, save for Aila and her harpist. As the pitches grew louder and louder, the group had to try and shut out the noise with their hands. Yukari felt like her head was about to implode; the sound was wrapping her brain in dozens and dozens of harp-strings, slowly constricting on the organ until she could feel blood leaking from her ears. Everyone else seemed to have the same ailment.

Ert: I’m pretty sure if someone ever caused your brain to bleed you’d have permanent ear damage. Unless this is just a case of burst ear drums, in which case, why the fuck are we focusing on the brain being constricted.

As Aila began choking on her own voice,

Goeth: Because you can do that.

Yukari saw the body of Orpheus Telos being split in half. Thanatos had risen from the Persona’s carcass, releasing everyone from the creature’s murderous melody.

Woods: So Orpheus Telos nearly killed everyone…because thing. Then Thanatos popped out of it because it happened in the beginning of the game and we had to show how unoriginal this story is, and somehow this stopped the murdering friendly fire song that, when you think about it, was kinda Shinji’s fault.

It finished the job its master couldn’t, then the fifth roman numeral rose from the Shadow’s ashes.

Ert: WELL! Glad we didn’t end on an anti-climax.

When things settled down, with Thanatos panting over the enemy’s corpse, Yukari watched Shinjiro stand to touch Aila once more. The girl slapped his hand.

“Stay away!” She hollered, two different tones escaping her mouth. Thanatos’s head bobbed up at the sounds and it rushed to Aila’s side. With a quick hand, it scooped up the girl and carried her off into the night.

Woods: Oh goodie, we’re back to this bullshit again. Because after it was torturously drawn out the first time, we obviously needed a repeat.

Goeth: *Bang* *Bang* Crunchy! Is the time machine in the fritz again? The damn interns never maintain it like they’re supposed to.

…. …. ….

The girl vaguely realized that she was being dropped off on Gekkoukan High’s rooftop. The creature that had assisted there was heaving desperately; she didn’t have much more strength to share with him. Aila lifted a hand to the cheek of its mask. The Persona nuzzled into her palm before fading into a black mist.

“Thank you, Ryoji,” she said softly. With her words, the environment reverted to normal; the Dark Hour was over.

Ert: Thank you from stopping me from doing whatever it was I was doing back there.

Aila tried to set herself back against a bench. Everything inside her hurt until she found a comfortable enough position to sit still.

Woods: Because that works.

Then, when the pain stopped inflicting her brain, she let all recollections of the previous event flood her mind. Within only a few moments, she started sobbing into her hands.

Woods: Pain inflicting her brain?

It had happened; she’s let Minako’s memories take over.

Ert: That’s what happened? I mean, YES! that’s totally what happened.

They’d been ever-present since she’d found the box full of her cousin’s old trinkets. But this time, she hadn’t tried to fight them back. She’d surrendered to them, believing that it was the only way to throw off the Shadow’s hypnotic “glare”.

Woods: Erm. This works how?

It had worked, but she had almost lost control. Having two consciousness in her head was too much for one body to handle-even if it did let her summon Orpheus Telos. After completely demolishing the Shadow, Aila was afraid that the Persona would’ve started striking everything else in its path.

Ert: Because that’s what Minako would’ve wanted? You know, here’s the main problem with this story. It can’t make up its mind on what’s going on. Minako’s memories are taking over Aila. No they aren’t, you know why? THEY’RE FUCKING MEMORIES! Memories are just recollections of past events. They don’t DO anything. And for some reason, Aila remembering everything Minako did makes her want to go on a rampage, because I guess she’s remembering all those psychopathic episodes Minako had, you know the ones that DON’T EXIST!  Also that murdering song only started after Shinji distracted you and like the shadow hit Orpheus Telos so it’s not really her fault.  In short. THIS SHIT MAKES NO SENSE!

It wouldn’t have mattered if it was friend or foe. She was lucky that Ryoji had come to her rescue when he did.

Woods: Again, because Minako’s memories apparently consisted of “Kill everyone”.  Again again, it was Shinji’s fault.

She cried for a long time up there, alone. There was no way that she could go back to her friends like this. She hadn’t wanted to return to battle due to the fear of losing herself. Yet, it seemed that this was something impossible to avoid.

Goeth: Because you do nothing to try and avoid it apart from half baked attempts.

She knew in her heart that the Shadows would always find her, no matter where she hid or who protected her. She would be a constant danger to those around her. But alas, there was nothing she could think of to make things better, nothing she could do to stop this madness.

Ert: But alas? How is anyone supposed to take that seriously?

“Are you alright?” Aila whirled around; the man watching her was not who she had expected.

“Shouta?” The stranger had made his appearance once more, hurrying to her side.

“Are you hurt?” He inspected her arms and legs and torso, checking her head last through the shine of his eyeglasses. Aila stared at him in disbelief.

Woods:…Who is this? *Flips back* Oh yeah, he was in one chapter…for five seconds.  Found her wallet…that’s about it.

“How did you….?”

“I work here,” he stated. “I’m a substitute teacher for the school. What are you doing here?”

Goeth: Yeah don’t you know? All substitute teachers are on the roof of the school at midnight.

“I…..” She didn’t even know where to explain. Suddenly, the man’s eyes shadowed over as he caught sight of the Evoker on her hip.

“I see. So you’re the one mixed up in all of this.” His mutter was almost to quiet to hear.

“What?”

“I may not have your abilities, but I know what you’re dealing with.” He knelt at her side, putting a cool palm to her burning forehead. “The Dark Hour is no secret to me.”

Ert: Because of course. We need Aila to run off crying hysterically until someone calms her down and she can go back to her friends. Because the first time just DEMANDED a repeat.

“You know about the Dark Hour?”

“Yes. My father was one of the researchers for the Kirijo group. I came to town originally to investigate it-to see if it would return after all of this time. It looks like it did.” Shouta gave her a kind smile. “Guess that it was fate for us to meet, huh?”

Woods: I call it bullshit contrivance.

“Huh….” Aila couldn’t tell what to make of the man or his story.

Woods: See above.

“What happened to you? Did you get hurt?”

Ert: Dude, no one knows what happened.

Aila wasn’t sure what to tell him, but a thought manifested before she could stop it. “I…couldn’t control it. I couldn’t control my Persona. I nearly killed all of my friends…” She pulled her wrist to her cheek in an attempt to catch the tears falling over it. “I can’t handle this anymore. I’m not strong enough….”

Goeth: I mean I went on a killing spree and murdered countless shadows by myself, but now the author has declared that I can’t control my Persona because apparently memories can take over your brain and make you kill people!

Shouta was silent for a long time, watching the girl cry into one hand. As her lips started to quiver, she would cover them beneath her fingers. It was too late to hide weakness, but she did it anyway.

Woods: Because Aila was the type of person who liked to tough things out. Established three seconds ago.

“If this is really a problem, then take these,” Shouta said at last, handing her a small prescription bottle. It was unlabeled and she couldn’t see anything through solid green surface. “I know it looks strange, but have to keep it separate from my other pills.”

Ert: Ah, nothing like good old drugs.

“What are they?” She asked, shaking the container. It rattled like a child’s toy, though gave off a more menacing aura.

“They’re Persona Suppression pills. If you use these, you’ll be able to hold them back.”

Woods: Yeah, because I’m sure they just leave those lying around where a substitute teacher can get them.

“Hold…the Personas?” She didn’t want to betray Ryoji or Fate. That wouldn’t be right.

Woods: Well then only use them in combat and stop fucking whining!

“Not just that.” He pushed the edge of his frames up the bridge of his nose. “They’ll help with the memories too.”

Goeth: Wow, the PCC is working overtime. Pills that inhibit powers AND stop hostile invasion of evil mind controlling memories? How did they know that those even needed to be a thing.

Aila’s head bobbed up. “H-how do you know about those?” How did he know any of this?

“Trust me.” He spoke quietly and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I may not know everything that’s going on, but I’m slowly figuring it out.”

“How?”

Ert: Lazy writing.

Shouta’s head looked to the stairway entrance. “I can’t explain that right now.

Woods: Has anyone ever had a good reason for “I can’t explain now”?

But listen, if you take two of these morning and night, your health will improve. You won’t be able to summon your Personas because of it, but you’ll feel those flashbacks come on less and less.” Aila gave the bottle a hesitant glance, to which he added, “It would be best for yourself and everyone else if you took those. It will keep all of you safe.”

Goeth: Can I get pills that stop the memories but let me keep my Persona?

Ert: Hell no, these are plot contrivance pills! Not logical pills!

Aila’s hand flinched over the small cylinder. “What…are the side effects?”

Goeth: Well if we look at Shinji when he took it…death.

“You may feel dizzy or nauseous, but if that’s the case, just take an extra pill before bed.”

Woods: That’s right. If you have a problem with the drug, just take more.

Aila nodded slowly, her brain sending the memorization of the instructions to the heart. “What would happen if I missed a day?”

“Just keep up to the schedule as best you can.” His head looked towards the horizon, where the sun was beginning to rise. “Listen, there’s something else that you should know…something important.”

Ert: Everything else I can’t tell you but this is an exception because I said so.

“What…?” Aila met his gaze and was shaken by how remorseful he looked. “What?”

“From what I’ve been able to gather so far, those memories…they’re from….” He sighed, not sure how to say it. Aila urged him to go on.

“If you know anything about why this is happening to me,” she insisted, “I want to know. I need to know.”

Shouta exhaled one last time. “You’re absorbing her memories because she’s trying to become you.”

Ert:…No. Fuck you.

“She’s…what?”

“The girl-your cousin, right?-is trying to take over your mind and body. She’s trying to take you over so that she can live again.”

Woods: That’s right. The woman who sacrificed herself to save the entire human race is abandoning her place as the seal so that they entire human race will die and she’ll get to live one more year. Way to just SHIT all over Minako’s story.

“Th-that’s….” Aila had trouble finding the word for it. “….That’s crazy. Mina would never-.”

“The ‘Mina’ you once knew isn’t here anymore. She’s changed.”

Ert: Changed how?

Goeth: Ah-ah, I can’t explain that for ten more chapters.

Ert: How come you didn’t tell me this before now?

Goeth: Because not enough chapters had past!

Sounds came from the stairwell. “Don’t show those pills to the others. And don’t forget to take them, if you want to go back to your normal life.”

“B-but I…I have so many questions.” Shouta rose.

“So do I. I promise that I’ll seek you out once I have more answers for you. Until then, just keep living as you have been. I’ll find you in time.” He dashed out of Aila’s view and moments later, she was approached by her two roommates.

Woods: Can I get your number? Can you tell the others?

Ert: STOP BEING LOGICAL!

“Aila!” Akihiko yelled as he collapsed next to the girl. Aila swiftly slipped the bottle into her sleeve, hoping that her friends wouldn’t hear the rattle it made.

“Dammit,” Shinjiro huffed. Both boys were out of breath. “You had us worried.”

“Akihiko? Shinjiro?” Aila looked between them in a daze. “How did you find me?”

“There’s a tracking beacon in your shoe,” Akihiko explained.

Ert: Creepy.

“Mitsuru put it in before the Dark Hour so that we’d be able to find you and Yukari easier.” Aila glanced at the sneaker. She’d kind of wondered why there was a new slit in the side of her sole….

Ert: YOU HAVE FUUKA YOU DUNDERHEADS!

“Are you ok?” Shinjiro asked. He glanced at her sleeve. She hid it behind the side of her leg.

“No. But I’ll live.” As she said it, she wondered if that was even true anymore. Would she live? How much longer could she survive this constant revitalization of memories within her?

Woods: Except they’re not memories, they’re apparently they’re the soul of a person because as we’ve established, MEMORIES DO NOT A PERSONALITY MAKE!

And could Shouta be right? Could Minako’s memories be trying to invade her body to make it their own?

Some other words were said, but Aila couldn’t hear them. Akihiko lifted the limp girl into his arms, trying to rouse her from her curious ponder. To avoid any interrogation, she pretended to pass out against the boy’s chest. The muscles beneath her head tensed, then relaxed under her warmth. They did their best to welcome her into their embrace. Aila paid little attention to them as her thoughts continued whirling. When her head started to develop an ache from the efforts, the bottle started prodding at her forearm as a reminder that they were more than willing to ease her pain.

Ert: Oh yeah feel sorry for her and stuff because we said so. And with that ends the chapter. We are only a few away from being done and-

Goeth: Hey Ert? I did the math. I think he’s heading for us.

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12 Comments on “1020: Persona 3: Trade Me – Chapter 24”

  1. agigabyte says:

    In news unrelated to this riff, I found the life story of egg drop soup. http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/egg-drop-soup/
    It is like a short fic in and of itself, with 1118 words before the recipe, which is actually only 226 words long.

  2. Tie Dye Mage says:

    Ert: Hell no, these are plot contrivance pills! Not logical pills!

    Side effects may include having whatever Macguffin you need to solve a problem, always being in the right place at the right time with no reasonable explanation and suddenly having knowledge that you didn’t have before.

    Order you plot contrivance pills today!

    • agigabyte says:

      Hmm. Do you think I could get some? My agents in the black market need some extensive training with each item, else theyturn into badfic characters and writers.

      • Tie Dye Mage says:

        Where else but the Plot Convinience Corporation? Give them a call sometime. Of course, odds are that by the time you do call, they’ll aready know what you needed and will have already sent it out a shipment. In fact, if my math is right, by the time you finish reading this sentence, it should already be in your back left pocket.

      • agigabyte says:

        The Gemini pocket-dimension-in-a-pocket is reverse engineered from PCC tech, and doesn’t allow anything in without permission. And due to contrived reasons, nothing can get through from the PCC at all.

  3. Delta XIII says:

    Ert: Well they didn’t come into this place for some reason, so instead of trying to figure out why and exploit it, let’s just run around like chickens with our heads cut off, like it’s the headless chicken Olympics.

    Goeth: Oh, you’re going to that on Sunday too?

    Wait, that’s on Sunday? Aw, damnit, I’ve got work!

  4. TacoMagic says:

    “There’s a tracking beacon in your shoe,” Akihiko explained.

    When the hell did this become Enemy of the State?


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