Chapter 8: Matryoshka

A/N: Starting off with using some P3 Club Book info and some creativity to fill in some blanks.

Beta'd by Erin Carde

Excerpt from: Welcome to Strega! Chapter 5: The Dark Hour

I'm sure that you have many burning questions after our last few sections, but fear not, future member, for here's an extinguisher to one of those questions. After all, we can't leave you in your darkest hour, can we?

How was the Dark Hour created?

An excellent question! You see, Shadows cannot manifest in our world as they are entities of pure thought and emotion. However, Shadows can fuse into each other many times over, creating powerful Shadows able to access their full potential and manipulate space-time itself. Thus, they create a space outside of time in which Shadows can move, but human beings cannot. It was this ability to manipulate space-time that had first enchanted the founder of the Kirijo Group, Kouetsu Kirijo.

Why do people turn into coffins?

The phenomenon of Transmogrification occurs to protect people from the Dark Hour. As for the specifics of how this happens, please, turn to chapter 7.

Why can people with Potential enter the Dark Hour then?

Those people are those who can adapt. Unlike the vast majority of people, certain exceptional individuals are able to, rather than suppress their Shadow, face their own mortality head on without falling to desiring death. Amongst those individuals are some who can tame the Shadows in their hearts. Such an action creates a "Persona" and allows the individual to use the powers of a Shadow for himself, albeit on a more limited level. After all, a Persona-user that can fuse Personas like Shadows does not exist, so they lack the power to manipulate space-time as freely as a well-fused Shadow.

But you, recruit, are different from them.

You are superior.

April 6th, 2009


The sudden voice jerked Aigis awake. Looking around, she reaffirmed that she was alone on the train. Shaking her head once, Aigis reached to the seat next to her for red headphones. She almost started her music back up before she remembered the batteries had died a while ago, hence why she slept. Stretching her arms above her, a smile drifted onto the blonde's face. Finally, she was going back. Hiko and Shinji were there, so it would be easy to find her footing here. At least, she hoped so. As there was nobody else on the train, she'd taken full advantage of this opportunity to practice her bold return.

"There is no need to cry, Hiko and Shinji, for I have returned!

"Oh, Ai, I missed you! Please, help me to be more popular instead of a weird loner who only likes to punch bags!

I joined the cooking club, but could only make burnt rice without you, Ai!" She cried, playing both roles with her in a triumphant stance and her friends as whimpering children. If they were here, she'd probably get a few whacks on the head for their portrayal. The thought of that alone made her smile.

"Now arriving at the final stop, Tatsumi Port Island, Iwatodai Station. Please gather your belongings and prepare to exit. Thank you, and have a nice day."

The doors opened. Aigis looked at the time on her phone and sighed. 11:59. One minute until everything became the Super Weird Place. She picked up her duffle bag filled with various books and games meant to keep her busy during the long trip.

Her life until now hadn't been perfect, but she'd always been able to make a few friends wherever she went. The family that adopted her tended to move around a lot, however, so that left a lot of broken off relationships and promises to stay in contact that were never fulfilled. Fortunately, Hiko and Shinji always responded to her messages, even if Shinji only tended to use one-word replies.


The world turned green, people became coffins, and water became blood. Tourists would love it here. Filling her lungs with the night air of this strange world, Aigis sauntered into city that had become a horror enthusiast's wet dream. She had memorized the location of the dorm in advance. If Aigis had one thing that she was proud of, it was her impeccable memory. It took her a little while to reach her destination.

The tall building of her dorm stood out in the street and had a distinctive Western feel to its architecture with the dark, wooden exterior and long, vertical windows. On either side of the doors that led inside were carefully maintained bushes, reassuring Aigis that the place was still being used. Though she had a good memory, she could have messed up and read the map wrong.

With a skip in her step, she bounced up the stairs and opened the door. To all of a sudden appear inside the building out of nowhere could give her the long sought after "air of mystery" to her doormates. She giggled to herself as she took her first step in. As electronics didn't work during this time, there was an impenetrable darkness in the room, save for the small amount of moonlight that creeped in from the open door and front windows. Aigis advanced inside.

The door slammed behind her.

The light that should have been coming in through the window died off as if it was never there to begin with.

High-pitched metallic sounds resounded throughout the building, like a child playing with a xylophone.

"H-Hiko? S-Shinji? Did you guys somehow find out I'd be coming this late? You can stop. This i-isn't funny."

A child's laugh responded to her words.

With a strained smile, Aigis took one shaky step backwards.

From the darkness appeared two black, metal pegs that could be considered feet. They ran up to a black and white striped dress with long sleeves that covered the arms of the thing that had appeared. From the bars that covered it arose the thing's neck, pale as death, which led to the smiling face of the being. Hair as thin and dark as a shadow draped over the being's shoulder and atop the head of this creature lay trapped in the waves of inky black a red butterfly pin. Below this, were eyes like pools of blood at the bottom of a well. This thing could only be described as ill-fitting. An existence that could no—

"Oh, it's just you, Metis," Aigis said before she walked forward, patting the small girl on the head as she passed. "I don't have any time to play today. It's pretty late after all."

Scowling, the little girl turned around and grabbed Aigis by the wrist. As she was bigger, the blonde continued, dragging Metis behind her.

"Oh come on! I worked hard on that entrance! Why are you always like this now?! Why aren't you scared of me anymore?!" Metis cried as she pulled with no effect. Aigis stopped, got down on one knee, and placed a hand on Metis' shoulder. The voice inside her head that had once taunted and haunted her had been reduced to this.

"'I'm Death itself! Fear me! I shall consume you' was it? Or how about 'If you just think about giving me control, I'll use your body and make lots and lots of friends for you?' After all these years, it just gets boring, you know? If you want to try me at tic-tac-toe, I think we'd both have more fun," Aigis said with a kind smile. Tears formed in the corners of Death's eyes.

"Don't treat me like I'm some imaginary friend!" Metis waled. A clipboard appeared in her hands. Holding it forwards with eyes screwed shut and a frown, she added, "Just sign this!"

Aigis kept her smile and eyes locked on Metis as she reached out and smacked the clipboard out of Death's hands.

"Common Sense 101: Don't make deals with the devil."


Metis stood there, frozen, staring at the fallen clipboard as if it were a lump of ice cream that had just fallen off her cone and onto the hot cement at an amusement park. The little girl fell to her knees and tears peeked out of the corners of her eyes.

"It… just says… you'll take responsibility for your actions... " Metis sobbed. "And I'm not the Devil… I'm Death! Death!"

Aigis sighed as she scratched the back of her head.

"If it'll make you feel better, Your Deathliness, I'll take a look at it," Aigis said. Metis beamed, her smile shining through the tears. Under her breath, Aigis added, "Here's hoping I don't regret this."

Bending down, she picked up the clipboard, stood, and read it. To her surprise, it matched what Metis said. Looking at the back of the sheet of paper, along the margins, and even after taking the first letter of every word, Aigis could find no hidden clause.

"Do you have a pen I could use?" Aigis asked with a smile as she reached her arm down. "This seems like an awful idea, but, hey, nothing ventured nothing gained." With her head down, Metis raised her hand up and a blue pen appeared in it. The effect of the pen was immediate, calming Aigis down and filling her heart with warmth that clouded her judgement long enough for her to write her first name.


And then the contract disappeared as if all it ever needed was her first name.

A frown passed over Aigis' face before a smile crushed it under its weight. The contract only stated what she intended on doing. Besides, it couldn't take effect if she didn't do anything that required her to take responsibility in the first place. At most, all it meant was that she'd have to actually do her homework.

Metis pouted as she stood up.

"I really hate that smile. It's not yours. Those arms and legs, that skin, and the heart the beats underneath it all don't belong to you." Metis lurched forwards, floating in midair an inch away from Aigis' face with a predatory grin. Aigis trembled. "No matter how much you borrow or steal to try to fill yourself, you'll always be a bag filled with holes. Everything will fall out."

With those words, she disappeared and moonlight began to shine through the windows once more.

"Who's there?" A feminine voice called out behind Aigis. Turning around, the blonde met with a brunette in a pink cardigan pointing a pistol at her. An enemy with a weapon. Enemy. Weapon.

[Target:Armed. Status:Enemy. Asimov's Third Law in effect.]

The life in Aigis' eyes drained away as she closed the distance, ducked under the gun, and disarmed her by pushing the barrel up while pulling the grip backwards. In an instant, the girl found herself staring down the barrel of her own gun. The brunette gulped down a scream as sweat began to form on her brow.

[Target:Clarified. Human. Asimov's First Law in effect… Wait, what? Ah, damn it not again!,' Aigis thought as the life flooded back into her eyes. 'Let's laugh it off. Yeah, sure. That'll work.'

"Sorry, I didn't mean to ruin your newbie hazing," Aigis laughed as she scratched the back of her head. She held the gun out, noticing the weird barrel and "S.E.E.S" inscription. "Here's your toy back. Man, you really got me. The name's Aigis Kubomi, by the way."

With a blank expression, the girl reached out her weapon and put it away in a holster strapped to her leg.

"Yukari. Yukari Takeba. Nice to meet you too," The girl murmured.

'Great. She's still in shock,' Aigis sighed.

"Welcome, Aigis Kubomi," a voice said as the lights turned on. Striding towards them from the direction of the staircase, the one and only Mitsuru Kirijo smiled. "We've been expecting you."

Applause rang out from one of the couches in the dorm lobby. Although she thought she was at the girl's dorm, Aigis found that a boy in a white hoodie sat there, a boy with white hair with a small streak of blue in it.

"Perfect entrance, Mitsuru," he praised with a smile as polite as the heiress'.

For a brief moment, Aigis made eye contact with the boy. The smile he held on his face froze just as something in her began to churn. A rod of cold iron stuck in her stomach, yet a calm wind blew in her heart. She knew him, didn't she? Did she? She didn't remember but she did and yet she didn't remember and she always remembered except for before she began to remember so was she remembering an old memory from before she remembered?

The white room where her memories began floated to her mind, its walls immaculate and pristine...

Save for a single crack that had appeared in the white tiled wall, a golden light shining through it. She tried to peek through it, but reality came flooding in and washed over her like cold water over the coals in a steam engine.

"I appreciate the praise, Minato, but it is still lacking. Had Takeba not been up and about at so late an hour, it would have been even better."

"However, Mitsuru, if she'd not called out like that, I wouldn't have woken up."

"I meant to ask about that. Why were you sleeping on the couch anyway?"

"The lounge has a great atmosphere."

"Is that really the best excuse you have?"

"It is also comfortable."

"Did you get locked out of your room again?"

"...Yes. Please help."

At this point Aigis tuned back into the conversation between Mitsuru and the boy, Minato, who were now standing together in front of her. Yukari had recovered enough to the point that she could put her hand on Aigis' shoulder.

"I'm sorry about that. It wasn't meant to be a hazing or anything. I, uh, just carry this around when I'm alone at night. I feel safer with it. You know, placebo effect and all that," Yukari admitted.

"No, no it's alright," Aigis waved it off with an embarrassed smile. "I don't feel right going around at night without my headphones. I completely understand."

At this point, Mitsuru and Minato's conversation finished, with the latter looking deflated.

"I apologize for the delay. My name is Mitsuru Kirijo and this is Minato Arisato. As you can see, this a co-ed dorm," Mitsuru explained with a business smile. "It's getting late, so you should get some rest. Boys are on the second floor, girls are on the third. Your room is at the end on the hallway. Your things should be there already."

"Sounds good to me," Aigis beamed. With that, she skipped past the red-haired girl and up the stairs, leaving the rest of them behind. She later had to shuffle back down and ask for her key.

April 7th, 2009 - Dorm


The blonde cannonball dressed in a t-shirt and pajama pants slammed into the tank top brandishing Akihiko as he came in from his morning run, wiping his sweat off with his red hand towel. Wrapping her arms around him, she looked up at him with her chin digging into his chest and a bright smile on her face.


"Ai, I'm happy to see you too, but… could you let go? I'm covered in sweat," Akihiko said as he looked away. With a grin, she released him and bounced a few steps backwards with her arms behind her back. Little did Akihiko know, she was wiping the sweat-soaked sleeves on the back of her shirt. The sun had only just come up and even now it peeked through the windows on the door the two stood in front of.

"How's Shinji?"

"He's… been pretty busy. Last I heard he got a part-time job working at the docks," Akihiko answered with his back to her as he moved to the fridge. Pulling out a water bottle from it, he added, "Sorry I couldn't greet when you got in last night. Fell asleep after my third set."

Aigis crossed her arms.

"Geez, I told you putting a punching bag in your room would be a bad idea," she reprimanded. She paused as a youth with red hair walked down the stairs, his uniform wrinkled and dark circles shadowing his eyes. Ignoring them, he walked over to the couch and fell face first onto it.

"Get me some punch, Punch Man," his muffled voice said through the pillow. Sighing, Akihiko reached into the fridge and pulled out an energy drink. Tossing it at him, the metal can bounced off the back of the boy's head.

"Fuck you, I hope you really get fisted in your next fight," he complained into the pillow as he flopped his arm around, searching for the drink. "Fuck this couch too. Upholstery? More like assholstery."

"Pfft." Aigis stifled her laugh.

"You're welcome," Akihiko said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Looking to Aigis, he bobbed his head towards the stairs. "You should go get ready. Sho is just going to complain until he fully wakes up. I still don't know why he wakes up this early when he hates the morning so much."

"Okay," she said as she skipped away, adding, "Don't get fisted too deeply!"

"I wanted to apologize for what happened last night one more time," Yukari said. She and Aigis had boarded the train to school together. According to Yukari, everyone else had already gone to school while Aigis was getting ready since the upperclassmen in their dorm had responsibilities. Sho, who was in their year, refused to move from where he collapsed on the couch.

"I should be the one apologizing one more time," Aigis replied with a smile as she stood held onto the handhold hanging from the top of the train. Looking out the window, she watched the sea fly by at at an inhuman speed, turning into a wall of blue. "It's just a reflex, but I've almost hurt people before and," she paused. "Always scare them away."

Yukari snorted.

"It didn't scare me at all," she boasted.

Aigis stared at her.

Flushing red and looking away, Yukari added, "Well, I'm not scared now. In fact, I think it's kind of amazing, you know? I wish I could do stuff like that. Did you learn that from Akihiko-senpai or something? I heard you two were siblings."

"No. I just kind of… learned it on my own through some cool lessons and a lot of practice," Aigis lied. Yukari nodded before glancing out the window. With resolve in her eyes, Aigis added, "Say, would you like to be my frie—"

"Oh, we're almost there!" Yukari interrupted.

Aigis pouted.

After they made their way past the front gates, Aigis parted with Yukari at the shoe lockers just inside the school. Following Yukari's suggestion to see her homeroom teacher and the directions she was given, Aigis arrived in front of the Faculty Office with a pleasant smile on her face. Entering the office, she found a woman with short, light brown hair and a light brown suit seated at one of the many desks.

"Oh, you must be the new student," The teacher asserted. Aigis widened her eyes for a moment before she nodded.

"It's the blond hair, right?" Aigis asked with a chuckle. Her teacher shook her head.

"We don't have any restrictions for dyed hair, so blond isn't as rare as you might think. It's just been school policy in recent years to make sure we can recognize the faces of new transfer students. The Chairman has made it a point to care for all new students, especially those who come from afar or have disabilities," The teacher replied with a smile. "He's quite admirable."

Scratching her cheek, Aigis said, "That's… great."

"Oh, sorry! I didn't mean to rant," the teacher apologized. "I'm Ms. Toriumi, your Composition teacher. Ms. Kubomi, you'll be in 2-F, but before that we can head off to the Welcoming Ceremony in the auditorium together." Standing up, Ms. Toriumi added, "Welcome to Gekkoukan High. I hope that this place will come to be a second home for you."

"More like fourth," Aigis said under her breath as she followed the teacher out of the room.


"Unfortunately, Principal Mishima is ill and cannot attend, so I'll be giving the official welcoming to you all in his stead," the man in front of the podium started. A low muttering rolled over the rows of blue chairs as the students seated in them started to whisper to each other. "My name is Shuji Ikutsuki, Chairman of the Board for Gekkoukan High. You can call me the CB, but I won't accept calls from truckers!"


Aigis rolled her eyes at the awful joke. Everyone around her, having no knowledge of foreign radio, stared at Ikutsuki with blank eyes. The blue-capped boy in front of her turned around in his seat to look at her.

"Hey, you're the one who came in with Yukari this morning right? I saw you two earlier. Do you know if she has a boyfriend?" The boy asked.

Aigis shook her head as the man in front of the podium at the end of auditorium continued to speak.

"'If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well.' Those are the words the principal wanted to give you," Ikutsuki said with a smile. Then, he slammed a hand down on the podium, silencing the students with the heavy knock. "However, I know you are all brilliant minds, the future of the world. Thus, I ask you to first consider whether the job is worth doing at all. Money, pride, material goods, all of these are transient, fleeting. As you are right now, your existence. Does. Not. Matter."

"So, uh, do you have a boyfriend? You're pretty cute, after all," The blue-capped boy asked Aigis, his ignoring skills top-notch. The blonde smiled.

"Nope, but thanks for the compliment! My big bro said I can only date somebody stronger than him," she chirped. "And he's captain of the Boxing Club!" The boy paled.

"Quiet! You'll get me in trouble!" Ms. Toriumi whispered from down the aisle.

"But that is why you are here, children! To become world shakers, ground breakers, idea shapers! This is the start of your journey! If you feel you are not worthy, then know that you are not, but take faith that you soon will be! Aim high, students!" Ikutsuki shouted with a fist raised to the sky. Silence consumed the student body before a polite applause broke through.

However, Aigis had watched the last few, silent words cross Ikutsuki's lips. Her lip-reading could be wrong, but it looked like he added…

"So that you can fall far."

But that couldn't be right, could it?

Much to her dismay, the speech continued on for another ten minutes.

After School - Homeroom

"'On this day Junpei Iori died by uppercut.' You don't want that in the newspaper do you? I wasn't trying to hit on you! Please don't tell your big bro," The blue-capped boy pleaded. As it turned out, he and Aigis were in the same classroom, and, furthermore, he sat in front of her here as well. Aigis stood out of her chair and stretching her arms above her head.

"I won't," she said with a smile, "But I believe in you, Blue Hat! You're the chosen one! I can sell tickets if you fight him! Business scheme!"

"It's Junpei. I even subtly introduced myself earlier…" Junpei muttered. "Besides, I was only going to compliment and make you feel welcome… and then welcome you later on… I thought it was a pretty good plan..."

"Chosen one? Maybe I should tell him then," Yukari interrupted as she walked over from the open door in the class. Glancing at Junpei's sullen face, she turned to smile at Aigis and said, "Sorry about this guy bothering you. Junpei will talk to anybody that listens. At the very least, it looks like we'll be in the same class."

"Yuka-tan, you wound me," Junpei said as the life flooded back into his bones and he held his hand over his heart. "I'm really a nice guy! She's the new girl, right? I was just trying to be welcoming. I know what it's like to be the new kid."

"My name is Aigis," she introduced herself. "Aigis Kubomi. I'm new, so please take care of me. I can tell that you're both nice people." She bowed slightly, causing Junpei to pull the tip of his cap down to cover his face.

"You'll make me blush with praise like that, you know?" Junpei replied. Yukari grimaced.

"So, uh, on that note… would you both be willing to be my friends?" Aigis asked, eyes held fixed on the floor.


Scratching the back of her head, she looked up and added, "I want to have lots of friends!"

Junpei and Yukari's eyes met and, for a moment, a silent conversation happened between them before they both shrugged and nodded.

"Sure. Friendzoning Stupei here is the ultimate protection against him," Yukari answered with a grin.

Junpei fell to his knees.

"Damn it. I should have known…"

Aigis giggled.

April 8th, 2009 - Evening

"Good evening. My name is Shuji Ikutsuki. I'm the Chairman of the Board for your school. "Ikutsuki"... Hard to say, isn't it? That's why I don't like introducing myself. Even I get tongue-tied sometimes… Please, have a seat."

Nothing had really happened since yesterday for Aigis until this man greeted her when she entered the dorm. She'd talked a little bit with Yukari and Junpei, but they both were pretty busy and had other friends. Not to mention that she still had yet to really meet with any of her other dormates. Akihiko she could see in the mornings, but the only other person in her dorm she'd seen in the past day had been Yukari.

"You're the one who gave that welcome speech…" Aigis started. She moved towards the chair where he was situated and sat in the chair facing him, a glass table between them and a couch to the right of her. Ikutsuki smiled as he pushed up his glasses.

"Terrible speech, am I right? I had such short notice to prepare it," he said with a frown. Then, smiling, he leaned into his chair and said, "As you most likely already know, I make it my business to involve myself with students from particularly far places or with any sort of medical problem that may adversely affect their health. Though I'm here for other business, you my feel free to approach me and ask me any questions. I'd like nothing more than for this transitionary period to be as smooth as possible."

"T-That's nice, Mr. Ikutsuki, but I already have my big bro," she replied with a shaky smile. Ikutsuki sighed.

"I suppose that answer was to be expected. I just wished to welcome you to Gekkoukan." he said as he rose from his chair. Checking his watch, he frowned. "It appears at this time I must be heading up for an appointment. Duty calls and I must answer. You must be tired. I suggest you turn in early tonight."

With those words, Ikutsuki headed up the stairs.

Aigis turned in early that night.

"Welcome to the Velvet Room."

When she opened her eyes, an elevator covered in blue met her and an old man with a long nose and an ever-present smile sat across from her behind a table. Next to the man stood a girl with platinum blond hair.

"Who are you?"

The man gestured to himself. "My name is Igor. ...I am delighted to make your acquaintance. This is Elizabeth. She's a resident here, like myself."

"Pleased to meet you," Elizabeth greeted.

"What is this place?"

"This place exists between dream and reality, mind and matter… To be precise, your body is asleep right now, so it's much closer to a dream at the moment," he answered.

"Why am I here?"

Igor's grin widened. Elizabeth held a hand to her face, stifling a laugh.

"Because you signed a contract. As such, our services are yours, Wild Card. Your unique gift can be nourished in this place and I'm afraid you will need my help in order to do so. All I ask is that you abide by your contract and assume responsibility for your actions."

"No. Why me? Why am I here?"

Igor chuckled.

"Because you are the only one who is qualified."

Aigis looked at her hands, at her white gloves, at the metal caps on her fingertips. She touched her hand to the back of her neck, faintly feeling the Papillon Heart beneath the red cloth of the ribbon wrapped around her neck. Looking down, she couldn't find her toes.

"If you want to grant some special power, then it should be her," Aigis objected. "Don't drag me out. This life we have been granted is not mine to—"

With a bang, Igor slammed his hand down and swiped it across the table. Three cards were left on the table as he removed his hand from it, swishing his hand to show her that he had no cards hidden.

"The Fool in the upright position, the Death Arcana, and the Empress in the reversed position," Igor explained, pointing to each card in turn. "All one being, each one trapped in another like a matryoshka. The Fool is zero, representing infinite possibility. Naturally, this one deserves the title of 'Wild Card'. That one is you and that body is rightfully yours. Your life is yours."

A blue light shined in her hand before it solidified into the form of a blue key.

"As you no doubt have surmised, this is a dream and you must soon wake from it. Hold on to that and you will be able to come here of your own accord one day. 'Til we meet again..."

Dorm - Control Room

In front of a myriad of displays, three people focused on one video feed of the blonde girl who slept through the Dark Hour. Minato, Mitsuru, and Ikutsuki watched the feed while Labrys stood in the corner, watching Ikutsuki with crossed arms.

"I already told you that I saw her walk in during the Dark Hour," Minato sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. He glanced at Mitsuru. "Wasn't that why we performed that impromptu skit about me losing my key?" Looking back at Ikutsuki, he added, "Besides, Akihiko said that she's been experiencing the Dark Hour ever since she was a child."

"Yes, but I needed to verify it with my own eyes," Ikutsuki explained with a smile as he patted Minato's shoulder. "Though I had no doubt you both were telling the truth, I am merely following instructions from Mr. Kirijo. For people who claim to have planned a more efficient observation, your failure to keep Yukari from interfering and exposing her Evoker is simply deplorable."

Behind her back, Mitsuru clenched her fist.

"Just like father ordered you to keep Labrys away from her," Mitsuru eyed Ikutsuki. In the corner of the room, Labrys scowled. Mitsuru continued, "I still don't quite understand that one. Care to explain?"

Ikutsuki grinned. "I'm afraid the reason for that is strictly confidential. We need to observe everything we can about her and, more importantly, find out whether or not she has a Persona. SEES may be your group, but it would be wise to remember who exactly provided this dorm with cameras like these in the first place."

Stretching, Ikutsuki straightened his back and began to head towards the door.

"That's all for now. I'll be back tomorrow night as well."

After he left, Labrys walked over to Mitsuru and Minato and uncrossed her arms.

"I don't like him," the ASW girl said. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Mitsuru nodded.

"I don't either, but we have no choice in the matter. Besides, he is right, we do need to discover whether or not she has a Persona." Looking at Minato, Mitsuru added, "Even though you seem very certain that she will have one, we still have yet to see one."

Minato shrugged.

"I just have a good feeling about her."

After a few minutes of small talk, Mitsuru bid the two of them goodnight and left, leaving Labrys and Minato alone. Grabbing a few chairs, the sleepless machines sat next to each other for a few moments. Labrys broke the silence first.

"His eyes. I've seen those eyes before. They're like the eyes of the scientists that created me. Full of condescension and scorn, like we're nothin' more than a buncha tools or weapons to him." She threw an arm around Minato. "Stay away from him, okay?"

"I will," Minato lied. With a smile, Labrys bid him goodnight and went off to her room. Minato sat still in the control room, watching Aigis for a few moments more. Of course, it was impossible for him to not know the face he'd etched in his mind ten years ago.

"Welcome back, superhero," he whispered.

Next Chapter: The Matryoshka Opens/Encounter with the Past

A/N: One of the most challenging chapters for me to write. Followed Aigis for the near entirety of it while trying to not get lost in pacing and making two days into two chapters.

The Empress Reversed: Indicates that something is missing or lacking in your life. It suggests you are challenged because you are bottling your true thoughts and feelings inside. This card can also suggest a dependence on others' feelings. There is a lack of harmony within you.

Question of the Day: Have you ever tried to make friends by being somebody you're not?