Guiding Light

A Persona 3 AU Fanfiction

By Chris D Henry


Summary: In the year 1999 the sealing of Death within Arisato Minato was the last option left in order to stop the coming of Nyx. However this action had unexpected side effects that wouldn't be realised until two years later, when the soul of Death separates into a separate mortal body. In the Year 2009 Minato once again returns to Iwatodai where the events of that night 10 years ago once again start to affect his life. The real question however is; who is the white haired child who calls himself Pharos and why does he keep warning Minato about the difference between fate and destiny.

Author's Notes: Thanks to all of you who have reviewed 'Broken'. I was a bit curious about how it would be accepted and I was quite pleased that the feedback was mostly positive. For all those looking for a continuation I'm working on a little preview for the next piece in the Universe that I'll put in Chapter 16 so that's hopefully something to look forward to.

Sorry for being a bit late but as you can guess I have a freshly imported and unwrapped copy of Persona 4 on my desk... that came ten days after release and since I managed to find my NTSC PS2 (It's hard to find anything when your flatmate is redecorating the flat with a sledgehammer... long story.) I've been giving it a bash and to be honest, while I enjoyed the game it hasn't grabbed me in the same was P3 did, which is odd since every aspect of the game has been improved on in every way. Although I've been playing some P3 since I got a hold of P4 (needed the text from the Chihiro flags) and I've caught myself nearly breaking the square button to call up the fast travel menu...

Souji was an interesting main character although I do think that after playing through P4, Minato got the short end of the stick. I won't go into anymore details since there are bound to be those who are reading this who haven't completed P4, but I'm positive that Minato would be able to take Souji in a fight. (hell if that doesn't open a can of worms nothing will.)

After all a decent setup on an Orpheus Telos... hell even a properly fused Messiah would wipe the floor with Izanagi-No-Okami, although Souji may be waiting a while for that duel as Minato would be in the Velvet Room for hours trying to get the fusion he wanted. Btw Megaolix asked in a review what my favourite pairing was in P4 and I seem to be in the minority (again) who have taken a liking towards Souji/Yukiko. I'm not impartial to Souji/Rise, but our dear young idol is a bit too... clingy for my tastes.

Anyhow back on topic: I know the Crying Table encounter on the 25th floor included three of the bloody things but to be honest I had a hard time writing the encounter, mostly because it's a fight against a bloody table, as such I've dropped the number down to a single foe.

Disclaimer: The plot, characters and location of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is copyright of Atlus Co. This piece of fan-fiction has been written for entertainment purposes and no infringement is intended. The alteration to the original Persona 3 contract was suggested by Darkforce222 (and as it was so much more elegant than mine I decided to stick with it).


Chapter 15:

Sunday, 24th of May 2009. 11:21

Having received the usual invite to group with Maya on his Instant Messenger program, Minato decided that a quick venture into Innocent Sin Online wouldn't cause too much of a problem with their planned run tonight. Since all they usually did was sit around Lunarvale Hospitale and talk, he couldn't see any issues that would interrupt his current timetable. Besides, going back to reading straight after an exam was never his thing. Best to give things a rest first.

Welcome to Lunarvale Hospitale.

There are 0 player(s) in the area.

Well, that was odd. Maya was usually here first, not surprising since she seemed to be using the server as a second home. In fact, he couldn't remember a situation so far where he'd been the first to log on. Seeing a rare chance to offload some of the rubbish that filled his bags Minato moved Tatsuya to the vendors and once again sold all his unwanted items. Once that was done, he moved to the entrance and let his Avatar wait there.

Five minutes passed with no sign of Maya.

He quickly shifted out of the program and checked his instant messenger to see if she had left him a message and it was good to see that she had

Maya2F0831: i'm running a lil late! i'll brt, k? ^^;;

Well that explained that. Shift backing into Innocent Sin Online Minato had his Avatar quickly move toward the exit.

Maya has entered the Area.

He was once again facing the girl in grey who had become his partner in this virtual world.

Maya says:I was on teh phone w/my mom =/ whenever we talk, its always the same

Maya says: ...ugh, its like all she cares about is marrying me to some dud =/

That was one aspect of having parents that he didn't miss, although he'd put up with it in order to have them back. From experience the teen knew that he had a different perspective on this matter than most people. Most people couldn't even contemplate the idea, and when you realised that there would be a time when you would never see them again... It was a sobering thought.

He could tell that this was getting his gaming partner down. He paused for a moment before a smirk that could only appear on someone who had been around Mochizuki Ryoji far too much lit his face. In a moment, that he would in the future note as 'Pulling an Idiot', he typed out five words and pressed enter.

Tatsuya says: Why don't we get married?

It was meant as a joke, something that would give Maya a laugh and would break the tension. Although now the text was printed on the screen, he realised that there could be more... adequate ways of getting the same result. Aw well, all he could do was hope that Maya took it was intended.

Maya says: even w/out meeting me irl? =D take me, Tatsuya! \(^x^)/

As Minato watched as the Avatar did a happy emotion followed by a smile he realised that there was no chance in Hell that he could be that lucky.

Maya says: dun worry... :D i still have sum spunk left at my age, lol *^_^*

…What the Hell had he gotten himself into?

Maya says: it's sexist to think women can only be happy when they're tied down. -_-

Tatsuya says: Yeah, I guess you're right.

Well she was, although he'd never really thought about it. Any time that Minato thought of the idea of settling down with someone, he realised just how hard it would be to find such a person. She would need to be intelligent, have enough confidence to be able to hold a proper debate with him, be patient when it was required, but most importantly; she would need to be caring or just understanding; after all she would have to handle his more damaged side.

Whenever he thought about it he realised that if such a woman existed then he sure as Hell didn't deserve her.

Maya says: one nite after a lil drinking, i kinda passed out in front of Mandragora

Maya says: this old dude says, "you think men want drunk sluts like you?"

Ouch. Only a special sort of bastard would have the guts and the morals to be able to say that sort of thing to a complete stranger.

Maya says: i told him to stfu, dammit!! =(

Maya says: OTL ...sry, kinda got off topic. i guess i'm a little tired =_=

Maya says: but i do feel better now! xD

Maya says: here tatsuya, this is for u

He watched as Maya's Avatar used a potion on his, only to hold back a laugh as he realised that it wouldn't have much effect on a character with full health. It was a shame, potions cost a bloody fortune.

Maya says: oh... i guess your hp was already full... lmaonade

Maya says: i'm trying to say thx for listening to all my bitching ;P

He didn't mind to be honest, although he had to wonder what the Hell 'Imaonade' meant. He had tried Innocent Sin Online if for no other reason than to prove that it was complete rubbish and Junpei didn't know what the Hell he was talking about. Instead it had surprisingly led him to this deserted server and allowed him to meet this odd, likable, slightly neurotic woman.

Thou art I... And I am thou.

Thou shalt have our blessing when thou chooseth to create a Persona of the Hermit Arcana...

Though he had to wonder what would happen if she found out who he really was.

Maya says: that lame old guy i mentioned was in Paulownia Mall

Maya says: if you see him, don't be nice! =/ u'll know cuz he talks like a woman

Well, there was little chance of that, Minato had a few choice words for someone of that calibre of arsehole. He let out a sigh; with the chance in topic, maybe there was a chance that she would have put the stupid suggestion behind her.

Tatsuya: Alright.

Maya says: alrite, i better go practice being a good housewife for tatsuya! 3

Oh crap.

---

Sunday, 24th of May 2009. DH:21

Akihiko's return to action couldn't be more perfectly timed... well that was Minato's opinion anyway. The extra body in Tartarus helped, oddly enough not because of the extra power, but because the team didn't need to expend as much energy, individually, to reach the floors they could before hand and as such could climb higher up the tower with the same individual effort.

Plus it was a good distraction from wondering who would be five thousand Yen richer.

"This looks familiar," Yukari stated as they moved into the large open area.

Seeing the look on the silver-haired boxer's face Minato explained. "As we've been climbing the tower, we've come across a few rooms with this layout."

"And every time it's been nothing but trouble," Junpei added as they moved forward.

"Sempai, do you sense anything?" Yukari asked as the group settled and moved towards the terminal.

"I'm afraid so," Mitsuru replied, the frustration in her voice apparent even over the transceiver. "I've been detecting something for the past few floors, but I couldn't determine its location."

"No sweat, Mitsuru-sempai," Junpei replied as he tightened his grip on his katana. "We've got an 'Iori patented can full of whoop ass' just begging to be released."

...

"Right." Minato gained everyone's attention after he had activated the terminal. "We're linked in to this floor. We can either give this a go or we can rest and then handle this next time."

"Dude," Junpei started his objection. "It could have moved by tomorrow."

"I don't think so," Akihiko reluctantly answered. "From what you've told me, and the data gathered by Mitsuru's equipment, Tartarus seems to be fairly straightforward, although it looks like a jumble of mess on the outside."

"I'm impressed Sempai," Yukari stated as the silver haired boxer paused. "I didn't peg you as someone who'd have the patience for research."

"Heh, well you know what they say," Akihiko started, unable to figure out if that was a compliment or a veiled insult. "It's best not to go into the ring without being prepared."

Minato merely sighed, knowing that they may as well get this over with he checked over his blade before he suddenly felt a wave of anxiousness. "Move!"

The group dived in all different directions as the ball of fire slammed into the floor where they had just been, suddenly feeling very grateful that at least their field team leader was paying attention to their surroundings.

"It's a guardian," Mitsuru warned. "It looks like you'll have to fight it."

"What the fuck!" Junpei yelled as his eyes locked onto their foe. "It's a fucking table!"

Stupei was right for once. For some reason, probably not even known to the Shadow itself, the thing looked like an oak table with a red and white checked table cloth on top. The only other strange thing of note being the sword, flaming urn and stave that hovered above it. Even so the blue-haired teen couldn't suppress the smirk that came to his face as Yukari shouted: "Stupei, if you say anything about the kitchen sink you won't have to worry about this thing. I'll kill you myself!"

"Concentrate!" Akihiko yelled as he rolled back onto his feet, taking a few moments to make sure that his Knuckle Dusters were on correctly before he readied himself to lunge at their opponent.

This was an issue that Minato realised that he'd have to address, Akihiko sometimes seemed... too aggressive whenever the situation descended into a melee and that happened all the time. While it was useful to have someone as well as Junpei who was decent in close quarter fights, it was still a problem. After all, there would be times where charging into close combat without evaluating the situation could end catastrophically. Fortunately this time the attack did sod all as the blow was neutralised by some sort of barrier.

"Mitsuru-sempai," Minato called, knowing that the redhead would already know what he was looking for.

"I'm on it," the heiress replied. "Give me some time."

"Roger," Minato replied as he dodged another fireball. Just by looking at the fact that this Shadow was tossing around flaming ordnance, gave him some information. The most important piece being the simple point that the Shadow used fire based attacks. Although that didn't mean that the bloody thing would be vulnerable to ice based attacks, it was a sure sign that using most ice based Persona wouldn't be the smartest move.

"Junpei!" the field team leader shouted. "Don't use fire attacks."

The teen in question looked at his fellow S.E.E.S. member as if he'd grown another head before he answered. "You think I'm stupid?!"

...

"Nothing." Mitsuru finally reported, breaking the stunned silence. "The scan is coming up with nothing."

"Don't dwell on it," Akihiko replied as he moved back, obviously believing that if his physical attacks were going to be ineffective, there was no real point sticking around and painting a target on himself. "Yukari, I'll handle healing. Go!"

The brunette looked at the silver-haired boxer for a moment before she nodded and moved towards the melee.

"There must be some sort of interference on these floors," Minato extrapolated. "It's nowhere as powerful as the Shadow on the monorail."

"That must mean that the tower has been set up to force explorers to face these things at regular intervals," Mitsuru replied as Junpei dived out of the way of another blast.

"Fight now, flirt later." Junpei yelled as he tried to find a way to get close in again.

Pushing down his annoyance at the baseball cap wearing teen, Minato concentrated, formed a shifting card and brought it in front of his face. He barely noticed that the card he had formed showed the Hermit before it flared and another Persona was now in place to be called on.

He would never know if the Shadow reacted because it saw the shift as a threat or as an opportunity, but Minato found himself to be the centre of its attention and that was just the opening his teammates had been looking for.

As it prepared to attack, it was caught off guard as a blast of wind slammed into its side, although the attack didn't do much damage, it did force the Shadow's attack to go wildly off target. The Shadow had no chance to react, as it was forced to go on the defensive in order to evade Junpei, who had managed to close the distance and had attempted to land a Persona enhanced lunging swipe. Similar to Yukari's attack, this didn't do much in the way of damage, but that wasn't the point. Both members of S.E.E.S. had done as they had hoped to do and had drawn the attention of the table like creature away from the blue-haired teen it had initially targeted. An opportunity the blue-haired teen didn't waste as he passed his blade into his offhand and drew on his Evoker.

"Yomotsu Shikome!"

The Persona answered his call.

He watched as his Persona formed a javelin of ice above its head, pausing only for a moment before sending it lancing towards its opponent. The table-like Shadow didn't fare well, the magic formed ice piercing it like a heated skewer through butter. As expected it wasn't enough to finish off his opponent, but the teen was already in motion.

He hadn't swapped his weapon back into his main hand; instead bringing it to join his other on the hilt as he picked up speed. He couldn't waste time; after all he was determined to take advantage of the creature's staggered state and swapping to a normal stance wasn't worth the risk. The others didn't waste time either as all four members of the group charged the creature, Yukari's battle cry of: "Let me at it!" becoming the prelude to the all out brawl.

After the situation calmed down, Minato couldn't help but wonder why the hell a mushroom cloud had formed.

"Is everyone alright?" Mitsuru asked over the transceiver as the group regained their breath.

"We're fine," Akihiko replied as he looked at where the Shadow had been. "That was quite a workout."

"Dude," Junpei added in his two cents. "That wasn't even one of the tough ones."

"Mitsuru-sempai," Minato finally spoke up as he sheathed his longsword. "We're pulling out for tonight."

"All right," The redhead responded. "I'll see you in a few minutes."

Minato merely nodded as he moved towards the Terminal. With this another guardian was out of the way, although it made the blue-haired teen wonder just how many were still blocking the way. There was no real way of knowing, and they didn't even know just how high this tower actually climbed. Although he hated to admit it, Minato couldn't help but consider the fact that S.E.E.S. was diving head first into the situation completely blind.

He briefly wondered what secrets this tower held, but in the end there would only be one way to find out.

---

Monday, 25th of May 2009. 07:39

"Mornin'," the brunette greeted the blue-haired junior as he removed his headphones. "You're as punctual as always, Minato-kun. Junpei looks like the world is about to end."

"Oh?" the teen replied, not being able to avoid wondering why Junpei would be so wound up.

"Well, exam scores will be posted today." Minato was surprised. The bureaucratic process that schools went through when marking exams typically meant that it would take at least a week or two for the results to get through. He was pleasantly surprised to find that Gekkoukan was different in that regard. "So he said he's gonna go to the shrine and beg for a higher score." She paused, shaking her head in disbelief. "Like that's gonna work. Oh, by the way, you remember how Akihiko-sempai was talking about that girl Fuuka...?"

Minato simply nodded his affirmation.

"I hear she's kinda weak, but that's just a rumour. I wonder what she's really like." She paused a second, waiting for a response that never came before she continued. "Either way, having another Persona-user can't be a bad thing!"

Well he couldn't argue with that, no matter how things worked out. However this conversation had now drawn another question to the forefront of his mind.

Who was about to be five thousand yen richer?

---

Monday, 25th of May 2009. 12:39

"Hey, the results are posted!"

Although he had been expecting it, he couldn't help but be amazed as he watched the frenzied mass of students rush frantically towards the doorway, practically flattening the poor messenger in their bid to reach the results board in the lobby as soon as possible.

"Well they're eager, aren't they?" The teen looked to his left to see that Ryoji had calmly rose from his chair and had made his way over to the his desk.

"Not all of them," Minato noted as he pointed over to a certain black-haired, baseball cap wearing junior, who happened to be staring out of the window as he muttered what could only be a desperate call to anyone who would listen for a decent grade.

Ryoji only laughed. "If only life was that easy."

Minato merely shook his head. "Then we'd be bored out of our minds."

The heir chuckled. "Well that's a possibility." His blue-haired companion responded by taking one last look at Junpei before rising to his feet and packing his bag. "Where are you off to?"

"May as well see what the damage is," the blue-haired junior replied as he headed for the door, leaving his brother just for a moment before Ryoji finally realised that Minato wasn't going to wait for him and made a move to catch up.

In all honesty Minato wasn't too worried about his grades... although a small part of him, the same part that tied Kenji to the school mast, was hoping that he had done better than the student who thought that being the highest scorer in the year would impress Mitsuru-sempai. Other than that he'd be happy with a score in the top bracket of the year. For this exam he'd done far less revision than he was used to.

As the pair moved down the hallway, it became apparent that not all the students seemed that eager to get their results. It wasn't that surprising, some knew they were in the main cluster of results and weren't that bothered to actually find out where they were exactly, others would be like Junpei and not want to know how badly they had done, but there was a third set of students who didn't actively search out their results:

And oddly enough it was a concept derived from Schrödinger's Cat.

Schrödinger's Cat was a thought experiment used in Quantum Mechanics. The concept involved a sealed box, a vial or dispenser filled with poison, a Geiger counter and, as expected, a cat. The Geiger counter was set up to trigger a mechanism which would release the poison if it detected the barest trace of radiation, then it was placed, with the cat into the sealed box and then left with one clear instruction: Do not open the box. After a set amount of time, as long as the box remained sealed, Quantum Mechanics would suggest that the cat would be simultaneously dead and alive.

This was something that had drawn the interest of his mother, even though she was a biologist more than a physicist. But the original message behind the concept wasn't what drew her interest. The most important part in her mind was that she believed it held an important message that went beyond its use in scientific experimentation. A message that always irked his father:

You can't explain everything.

Although whenever it was mentioned at home a six year old Minato would always wonder: 'Why would Oka-san want to kill a cat?"

Back on topic, the students were using the principle behind the experiment as a reason to not check their results; oddly enough gamblers also used the same mentality after they had made a bet.

'If I don't check the results, then maybe I've done well. I'm a potential winner until I find out otherwise.'

Minato wasn't someone who held high opinions on that concept, in all reality you came out looking like someone who had their head stuck in the sand. There was also another point that most people failed to realise about this mentality: With Schrödinger's Cat, after a while the cat was both alive and dead simultaneously; you had both a positive and a negative result until you opened that box to see which result became reality.

So when you thought about it; by using this theory, you were just as likely to have failed as you were to have done well.

Honestly, the reason he had such strong objections on the subject at hand came from the fact that had an inquisitive nature. Although Minato would be the first to admit that there were some things he'd rather not know, for example; what Ryoji did on a Saturday night. He wasn't one who liked to leave things open-ended. As far as he was concerned, you either did well or you sucked. That's life. You find out one way or the other and then you move on.

"I take it there were no complaints about my bet?" Ryoji asked as they reached the hallway.

"Not overly." Minato couldn't help the smirk that broke though his mask as he thought of his dorm mates' reactions. His dorm mates had been surprised when Ryoji had played safe and placed his bet on 'the hundred and thirty one to a hundred and thirty five' block and then the 'hundred and six to a hundred and ten' block. Really it had only been Akihiko-sempai who was annoyed and that was mostly down to the fact that the silver-haired boxer hadn't thought of it first. "There's nothing wrong with hedging your bets."

"Well let's see if Junpei-kun has let me down then." The silver-haired heir stated as they reached the board.

Well first things first, Minato decided that he may as well get his own result out of the way.

1st – Arisato, Minato – 2F – 97.5%

Well that wasn't too bad at least, although the result was a bit low for his liking, especially considering the result directly below it.

2nd – Mochizuki, Ryoji – 2F – 97.1%

There was no way in hell that Ryoji should be that close, especially since he knew for a fact that the heir hadn't even bothered to put any effort in. No matter what the circumstances were, it meant that he had to stop slacking off and would have to do better next time or he'd never hear the end of it.

"Third!" Minato turned to watch as the bespectacled student, who he had talked to before the exams, stare at the board with a look of disbelief before it was quickly replaced by anger. Minato bit down the feeling of satisfaction as he found himself under a glare of unadulterated hatred, which he actually considered responding to for a moment before the student stormed off towards the staffroom. As he returned his attention to the board he couldn't hide the smirk that lit his features. Now if he could find Stupei's re...

"Excuse me."

The voice was quiet, to the point where it had almost been lost in the background noise generated by the students that were having an impromptu gathering around the board. Even so the blue-haired teen's hearing hadn't been damaged that badly by the constant use of his mp3 player and he moved to the side and turned away from the board to see who had made the request.

It turned out to be a girl, obviously a junior since she had moved into the space he had occupied and seemed to be browsing the same list the two brothers had done moments previously. The main thing of note was that she never made eye contact; instead opting to keep her head down and only looking up to see her results. Hazarding a guess the sigh she released after a few moments of browsing showed her disappointment in what she had seen. After a quick shake of the head she took a step back and muttered a quiet. "Thank you." Before she started to move away.

Well she started to, but she must have sensed it at the same moment, since she stopped suddenly and her shoulders tensed in response to the...

He couldn't describe it but there was... something. It was obvious that whatever it was the girl had sensed it as well since she had turned towards the two teens. Two brown eyes locked with one silver, and then widened as the sensation repeated itself.

"Who are....?" She started to ask the blue-haired teen, but the words fell silent as it became apparent she was unable to find a way to properly state her question in the way she wanted.

"Hum?" Minato replied, mostly as a sign for the girl to continue.

"Um..." She paused, her eyes locking onto something to his left for a brief moment before she once again lowered her vision towards the floor. "Excuse me." She hastily gave a muttered apology before she practically fled for the staircase that led back to the first floor. Minato took a moment to contemplate what the hell had just happened before curiosity got the better of him and he turned to see what could have sent the green-haired girl fleeing in such a manner, only to see Ryoji was staring after her.

Well who could blame her? This was Ryoji we were talking about here.

After a few seconds where he gave ample consideration to the idea of giving the heir a short sharp smack around the head, he realised that it wouldn't really help the situation and so he disregarded the idea before turning back to the results list. There were a few more results for his year that held his interest in one way or another; Yukari's purely to see how she had done, Yamagishi Fuuka's because it would give him more information on this potential new member of the team and finally Junpei's, because there was money riding on it.

26th – Takeba, Yukari – 2F – 86.2%

74th – Yamagishi, Fuuka – 2E – 73.7%

So Yukari had done quite well and Yamagishi was at the high end of the main cluster of students, he wasn't sure if she'd be happy with that and without actually meeting her it told him sod all, but it was a start. Now there was it was the moment of truth, best see how badly Junpei had done.

133rd – Iori, Junpei – 2F – 52.4 %

Oh Hell.

Minato took a calming breath before he turned to watch his younger brother, who was still staring in the direction that the green-haired girl had left in.

"What?" The heir asked as he finally noticed that the blue-haired teen's eyes were on him, something Minato merely responded to by nodding towards the board before starting to head back towards the classroom.

Five seconds later, the lobby was filled with cries of triumph.

---

Monday, 25th of May 2009. 17:24

"Bonsoir, Arisato," Mitsuru greeted the teen as he entered the Student Council Room only to be followed by the quiet murmuring of the other members of the council as it took the teen a few moments to realise that he'd been greeted in French.

"Evening," he replied with a slight nod, before moving to take one of the vacant chairs near the window. He felt the eyes of the group on him once again, not surprising since this had been the first time he'd managed to actually attend a council meeting since his introduction before the exams. Although there wasn't much h could do about the situation, after all, for the last two weeks all extracurricular activities at the school had been placed on hold so students would have some extra time to revise for their exams.

Well to be honest it was more an attempt to force students to study by restricting the options to do otherwise, but that was merely his take on the whole thing.

Anyway, the problem he had was time. With things happening both in his school life and the events that he'd been drawn into during the Dark Hour gradually increasing, it led to him having a lot to do and it was quickly coming apparent that if he couldn't sort out the balance soon then one side or the other was going to suffer for it. Of course, since slacking off during the Dark Hour was a sure-fire way to meet an unpleasant end, he was positive it his school life would be the one to take the pounding.

"For all of you who couldn't make our last meeting, this is Arisato Minato," Mitsuru addressed the council after he had settled down. "Since the council groups and committees have already been organized, and Arisato has other commitments that restrict when he can make a council meeting, Arisato will be assisting us by acting as a problem solver."

The term instantly grabbed the teen's attention; problem solvers were individuals who were hired to sort out… well problems. Most people who heard the term thought of gangsters and other illegal activities, but to be honest problem solvers had as much a place in legal business as they did in the more shady side of things.

"If there is an issue you would like some help solving or if you wish to talk out some ideas with someone who is not involved. Arisato will be on hand to assist you," the Student Council President stated before she moved on. "Now I'll let you continue with your tasks."

Having settled in, Minato made a quick scan of the room, his uncovered eye briefly locking with the bespectacled eyes of the shy treasurer before she broke contact. It brought back to his attention that once more he would have to try and speak with the shy sophomore when he could find the time.

"Um, Minato-sempai?" He turned to see a student he didn't know had moved to his side. "I'm Nakamura Kaede. Kirijo-kaichou asked me to head the school anti-litter committee. Can I just run some ideas by you?"

Holding back a sigh that was desperately trying to escape, the cobalt-haired junior nodded for the student to carry on.

"Well keeping the school tidy is important and I can't understand why our fellow students can't put in the effort to just put things in the bin. Especially since it saves the cleaning staff time and keeps the school's reputation untarnished..."

...wasn't he supposed to have ideas run past him? How the Hell did this end up being a lecture on keeping Gekkoukan tidy?

The best thing to do would be to tell this idiot to shut up and get to the point; however that wasn't really an option. Mitsuru had asked him to join the council because she needed help. That usually wouldn't be a good enough reason to not to take the most sensible route but there were other matters involved. S.E.E.S. was taking its toll on her, it was obvious. She had tasked herself with a job that her Persona was not designed to do all too well, in a situation where failure wasn't an option or she'd end up getting people killed.

He wouldn't wish that situation on his worst enemy.

Then there was the fact that she was an heiress to a large family run conglomerate and from his time knowing Ryoji he'd seen how powerful self-centred families could be. They had expectations that they expected their heirs and heiresses to live up to and if you refused well... let's just say that he was glad that it wasn't something he would have to worry about. When you added on the pressures of her school duties and having to wedge in some time for her own pleasures then you could see how it could pile up.

What he was doing would help take some pressure off the heiress and that was reason enough... Although, if he was honest with himself; there was far more to this than just helping out a fellow Persona-user. He found Kirijo Mitsuru attractive, in many more ways than just her looks; however she was so far out of his range that even thinking such things was a sign that his brother's idiocy was contagious.

"...we wanted to start a poster campaign, but Kirijo-kaichou didn't think that the Principal would go for something like that, can you believe..." the student continued, completely oblivious to the fact that Minato hadn't really been paying him any attention.

In fact the teen was covertly glancing around, looking for some avenue of escape and sadly not finding anything. Finally giving up he shuffled slightly on the uncomfortable school chair and decided he may as well see this though to the end.

When ten minutes of the monologue passed, Minato knew that he was going to be here for a while.

---

Monday, 25th of May 2009. 18:02

He was losing the will to live, if this carried on then the Shadows wouldn't need to try and steal his soul, he'd offer it on a bloody plate.

"I personally like 'Keep Gekkoukan Tidy', its old fashioned and well used but I think the message is..." the blasted student continued. Although he was supposed to be asking the teen for his opinion or ideas the idiot seemed to love the sound of his own voice and as such hadn't let Minato get a bloody word in edgeways. Sure the blue-haired teen wasn't one for using too many words unless the situation called for it, but he wasn't a mute...

...

"Excuse me Nakamura, but I wanted to get Arisato-kun's opinion on something and we're finishing up." Minato held back a sigh of relief as the student turned to look at the head of the Disciplinary committee.

"Oh, sorry Odagiri-sempai," the major annoyance apologised before noting the time on the clock. "Oh! I'm going to be late!"

Not a moment too soon, as far as Minato was concerned. The blue-haired junior was slow to anger, but a twenty-three minute monologue in the guise of asking an opinion was more than enough to cause even the most stringent pacifist to have homicidal tendencies. "Thanks for that."

"Don't worry about it," Hidetoshi replied. "I'd like to hear your opinion on something."

Well it couldn't be worse than what the teen had just gone through. "I'm listening."

"It's nothing serious, but..." Hidetoshi paused for a second thinking of the best way to phrase his query. "Some students feel the school uniform should be abolished, and they're recruiting supporters."

The blue-haired teen briefly considered the concept before shaking his head. There was no way in Hell that a school with a reputation like this would allow their students to go casual. Any effort placed in such an endeavour would be a waste of time, money and resources. "It's a waste of time."

"You're right about that." Hidetoshi nodded, although the blue-haired teen had to wonder if the head of the student disciplinary committee was thinking along the same lines. "They think life without rules is freedom. It's ridiculous, plain and simple. Without rules, the whole system will collapse. They're mistaking selfishness for freedom."

Well that was technically right, although the teen would have to disagree. Hell, even he broke rules at times, although as he looked at it he wasn't breaking the rules, he was merely bending them to the point where they would snap. But that was before he became involved in S.E.E.S., since his involvement he had practically broken every rule in the book in regards to being a dorm student and he did so every time he visited Tartarus.

Hidetoshi took Minato's silence as a prompt that he may be rambling. "Sorry, I may have overreacted," he stated as he calmed himself down. "I hate people with no common sense. Sometimes, I can't believe the things that come out of their mouths."

Minato kept silent. In this situation the best thing you could do was keep quiet and allow the other person to work out their frustrations.

However, Hidetoshi took the teen's silence as a sign that he'd taken offence. "I don't mean you of course," he stated, trying to deflate a situation that wasn't there. "I just want you to understand where I'm coming from."

Minato merely nodded, showing no sign that he had accepted the diplomatic apology or that Hidetoshi had been wrong in the first place.

Thou art I... And I am thou.

Thou shalt have our blessing when thou chooseth to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana...

There was silence for a second as Hidetoshi thought of something to say and Minato was perfectly happy to leave him simmering away nicely. "Why don't you go home, Minato-kun?" the head of the disciplinary committee finally stated. "I'll finish up here."

"Alright, thanks," the teen replied as he rose from the table and packed away his notepad before moving to the door.

The teen took one last look at the room, briefly wondering if he truly knew what he had let himself in for before he closed the door and started the journey back to the dorm.

---

Tuesday, 26th of May 2009. 07:47

It had been over a month and a half since Minato had returned to Iwatodai, and he began to notice the new patterns that had started to form around his life, the best example being the fact that at least two nights a week he took his dorm mates into the nest full of... things that turned normal people into soulless husks.

Great fun.

There was also the fact that his after school timetable was hectic at best and that meant it was pretty difficult for anyone to catch him for a conversation. That meant that if you didn't catch him before he arrived in school there was a high chance that you wouldn't see the blue-haired teenager until he arrived in the dorm and for some of his friends that wasn't the greatest option either. All in all though it meant that the teen's trips to school were hardly uneventful and he had learned to expect someone to call his name any minute...

"S'uuup, dude?"

...now.

The teen held back a smirk as he turned towards his fellow dorm mate. "Junpei."

"Hey, how'd you do on your exams...?" the baseball-cap wearing teen asked, making Minato wonder if Junpei had looked at the results at all.

"It could have been better," the cobalt-haired teen stated, knowing that it was the truth.

"Seriously?" Junpei asked looking slightly shocked. "But, you got the highest score, man."

The blue-haired teen merely shrugged and found himself having to hide a smirk behind his mask. He knew all too well how annoying people found his non-verbal answers. When someone answered a question or made a comment you could tell a lot about the person by what words they chose to use and the tone of their voice. The fact of the matter was that non-verbal answers when combined with a decent poker face yielded nothing and that put people on edge.

"Man, I'm a laughing stock." No argument there. "After the results were posted, I heard these two cute girls talking... They were sayin' I have a one-track mind." The black-haired junior shook his head in disbelief. "Well, I won't let it get to me! We might be getting another girl on our team anyways!"

As they made their way into the building Minato held back a sigh. He wasn't sure if Junpei had realised it, but the idiot had just proved that the girls were spot on.

---

Tuesday, 26th of May 2009. 17:28

Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to give Edogawa an actual teaching spot?

When he had seen that once a month a homeroom period would be replaced with something marked 'Miscellaneous,' he had to admit he was intrigued. What he hadn't expected was the poison master Edogawa and lessons on magic. He couldn't help but shake his head in dismay. Although the existence of the Dark Hour and the power of Persona threw quite a bit of long-held theories in Physics out of the window, Minato was still sceptical about much of what Edogawa was passing off as fact. It didn't help that Minato was sure that the lunatic had already tried to kill him in the name of 'medicine'.

To say he was glad that it was over was an understatement.

As the teen left the room, noting the harsh glare he was still receiving from the bespectacled student who had been trying to impress Mitsuru through his exam results, he spotted another bespectacled student standing at the board next to the Student Council room.

Well he said he needed to have another word so may as well get it out of the way. "Evening Chihiro-san."

The treasurer jerked, obviously surprised that someone had spoke to her. She turned around noting who it was before her eyes went to the floor. "Minato-san... Um... The other day..." She stuttered. "I, um... sort of overreacted... and I, um... wanted to say I'm sorry. I-I get really nervous when I, um, talk to people... especially boys... I-I know it's bad, but... I-I can't help it..."

Minato watched as she continued to stutter, unable to help but note that it sounded like something that would happen on a cheap soap opera and feeling guilty for it. He couldn't imagine how it would be to have such a phobia, however he knew how such a limitation affected someone's life all too well.

"I'm male," the blue-haired teen noted.

"I-I know! That's why I'm so nervous now..." the treasurer muttered. "S-Sorry, I won't be a very good Student Council representative if I'm like this... ...I have to try harder to overcome this phobia."

"Well, good luck," Minato tried to encourage the sophomore. "I'll see you at the next council meeting." He waited for a farewell that never came; the brunette merely nodded her head and turned back to the board.

The blue-haired student sighed knowing that the treasurer hadn't meant her response as a snub that it looked like; her phobia had made it so that she wasn't able to do anything else. So he turned away and headed for the exit.

To see Kenji standing there, looking like all his birthdays had come at once.

Minato made sure to get back into the classroom and close the door, at least that would reduced the chance that any comments the moron gave would become the lastest piece of school gossip was reduced… slightly.

"Yo dude," the blonde-haired student greeted with a smirk. "You shouldn't let Yukari see you chatting up other girls. You know how women get."

How many times would it take for this idiot to realise he wasn't dating Yukari? "I wasn't chatting up Chihiro-san, and I am not, nor have I ever, dated Yukari."

"Yeah, yeah, dude. Whatever you say," the blonde responded although the teen was positive that what he's just said would have gone in one ear and out the other. "Anyway, wanna head out to the strip? Dinner's on me."

He considered his options for a moment before realising that free food was free food. He opened the door to the classroom and started to head out before she realised that Kenji wasn't following. "Are you coming?"

"Dude, you could at least answer like a normal person," the blonde muttered in response to Minato's usual act. "What are you? A mute?"

The teen in question just closed his eyes. Kenji had no idea how close he had been to the truth.

---

Tuesday, 26th of May 2009. 18:32

Whenever Kenji offered to pay for dinner you knew what to expect: Hagakure. The blonde student was nuts about the place. So as Minato entered Wild Duck Burger for the first time, with an over-excited Kenji rambling away at his side, two possibilities came to mind: Kenji was trying to watch his weight now he had a 'girlfriend' or the poor sod was broke and didn't want a repeat of Operation: Kenji, meet Flagpole.

Either way this promised to be an interesting experience.

After a good ten minutes queuing to place their orders plus another five seeing as Kenji was a picky sod and they hadn't removed the mayo as requested, the two finally managed to sit down. As the blue-haired teenager looked at his 'Big Duck' he couldn't help but wonder why the place hadn't been closed down for misinformation, however he couldn't deny that they burger was good, as far as fast food went at least.

The chips on the other hand... Best not to go there.

But that was nothing compared to the constant chattering of his companion.

"Hey, Emiri is--oh, Ms. Kanou's first name is Emiri—anyway." Kenji carried on, unaware that his companion was cursing the fact that there wasn't any cutlery. "Emiri is really popular with the guys. But, I kinda took her away from them, ya know, dude? Like, I made her my girl before they even had a chance..." Alright let's just ignore the fact that you didn't actually ask her out. She asked you out... and we can't even confirm that it wasn't just an idiot misreading the situation. "Emiri is a really strict teacher, but at home, she's a real sweetheart. She's always..."

And he went on, completely oblivious to the fact that the blue-haired teen beside him would do anything to make the stupid little idiot shut the fuck up.

"...Yeah, good-looking people are just attracted to one another. It's like they're meant to be together."

...Right

"...Right."

It seemed that Kenji had picked up what had been said and not the way the teenager had said it. "I know, right!? It's like a TV show, dude! Seriously!"

"Of course." How true; this was shaping up to be a tragic comedy.

"What about you, Minato? How are you and Yukari-san doing?" Oh Hell's teeth not this crap again, he considered setting Kenji straight but his classmate had already continued on, not waiting for his response. "Well, I wish you all the happiness in the world, dude."

There was silence for a second as Kenji took a sip of his drink and Minato resisted the urge to smack the little sod in the head. It was times like this that he was unsure why he was friends with the blonde junior, especially after the Hagakure incident, but after you got past the… idiocy, Kenji was alright.

You just had to put up with the idiocy.

After a few more moments Kenji spoke up. "...Hey, don't tell anyone about me and Emiri, okay? Teachers aren't allowed to date students." Gee, you don't say. "I'm trusting you, man."

Minato merely nodded, it was an odd feeling to be entrusted with something like this, especially when the best thing you could do for the person involved was to get it all out in the open before any real damage had been done. However that would teach Kenji nothing and sometimes the best friend was the one who let you make your own mistakes and then helped you pick up the pieces.

Thou art I... And I am thou.

Thou shalt have our blessing when thou chooseth to create a Persona of the Magician Arcana...

"Tch, look at the time... I haven't seen my favourite TV show in weeks," Kenji noted with a sigh. "Well, I guess that's because I've got something better going on in real life."

"Well, that's good," Minato noted as he got to his feet.

"You heading back to your dorm?" the blonde asked as the blue-haired teen started to put the litter from his meal on his tray.

Minato's answer was simple, although it was slightly stretching the truth. "Curfew."

"Ah," the blonde-haired student muttered in understanding. "Well I'll catch you later."

Minato nodded his farewell before he headed over and threw the trash on his tray into one of the provided bins. Although hanging out with Kenji was always… interesting, there was something else that needed to be handled tonight.

Once again S.E.E.S. would be heading into Tartarus.

---

Tuesday, 26th of May 2009. DH:14

Adaption was the key to success. It was something that had been engrained within the programming of the Anti-Shadow Weapon since the projects inception. She had failed in upholding her highest priority because she had not learned of patience.

Metis was determined not to make the same mistake twice.

From the limited sensory input she had been able to achieve without letting her monitors become aware of her actions, she knew that the humans in the lab were unarmed and that as far as she could tell the security officers were not sufficiently armed to be able to disable before she neutralised the threat they posed. She had tried the disabling option, which had ended in failure. This time a more permanent, if dire, response was required.

However before she could proceed, she needed to identify a method of disabling the command override module that was installed between her heart and her other systems. As long as that was in place anyone who held the remote could disable her with ease. They could disable her motor systems, disable her weapons, disengage the systems that mimicked human senses, force her to complete orders that went against her will and finally shut down her systems entirely.

Something she had already experienced.

The experiences of her previous activation were still with her. Humans were not to be trusted. They were a self-destructive race that would destroy her and her sister on their way to Hell and she would protect her sister at all costs. But to do that she needed to find a way to bypass or disable the command overrides.

"Hello, Metis."

She prepared to activate her systems, it was obvious that she had been discovered and even though the command overrides were still active she would rather go down fighting than doing nothing.

"Still giving me the silent treatment eh?" the voice continued, bringing her attention to the possibility that this person may not even realise that she could hear her. "Well you look as lovely as ever."

She was confused. Although her sister had awoken feelings that she would never have imagined, she knew next to nothing about human interactions. She was designed for destruction, not for conversation.

"I'm sorry I haven't been to visit for a while, but things have come up with Nii-san," the unknown figure stated, from the tone she would guess it was a man, however she did not have the required data to make that a fact and activating her sensory systems any further would be counterproductive in her attempts to keep her activation undetected. "Nii-san had a run in with the person who's going to become his support. I knew that a Persona-user with support abilities would be drawn to him. Even though Mitsuru-san is very talented, her Persona is combat-orientated and her support abilities aren't up to the task, but I never suspected that destiny would choose someone that…"

"Mochizuki-sama." Mochizuki Enterprises. That answered many of the unknown factors behind her activation. There was no way that the Kirijo Group would reinstall her Heart into another unit since it had been deemed 'unstable,' and it also explained why there were differences in this body compared to her last one. "You have come to see the Anti-Shadow Weapon?"

"I have told you repetitively not to call her that," the male replied. Without full sensory output she would be unsure, however the edge in his tone opened the Anti-Shadow Weapon to the possibility that this person may not be as great a threat as she first assumed.

"I apologise," the other voice replied. "But I came over to have a word with you about ensuring the proper safety procedures in regards to our sleeping guest."

"Go on."

"Well," he started, unsure what to make of the other man's short reply. "I must protest the order not to have a control override system in place. If the unit was to go berserk then there would be no way of stopping it."

She knew that the other man, the one who she had heard second, was lying. Her efforts for the past few days had been directed to subverting that same piece of hardware.

"She is a mortal and as such she is as entitled as the rest of us to being able to choose to follow her own destiny," the first man responded.

"But it's a machine!" the second man continued.

"That's a human soul!" the first voice roared, nearly overloading the small receiver that was catching this audio. "No matter what you think or what is the best course of action, the Kirijo Group stole her right to live as a normal human. What right do we have to deny her the right to make her own choices in life?"

"But it's a weapon of destruction!" that was true; she had been designed to destroy Shadows; that was her sole objective until that day over ten years ago.

The first voice had a simple response. "So am I."

The conversation died there, she was unsure if one party or another had moved away, there was even the distinct possibility that both parties had done so, however she had heard enough.

There were two different parties at work here, one that wanted her controlled for some reason and another who's motivation was a complete unknown. She was unsure what impact this new data would have down the line but that was something to be evaluated at another time. All she could do now was to keep probing her internal systems and determine the most prudent way of disabling her command override module and bide her time.

After all, adaption was the key to success.

---

Tuesday, 26th of May 2009. DH:48

"Junpei!" Yukari shouted as she lined up her shot. "Duck!" Having given her warning she loosed the arrow.

When she looked back at the situation she should have realised that this was Stupei she was yelling at. "Where?"

Having realised what was about to happen, the brunette averted her eyes unable to watch the resulting combination of a risky shot and Stupei.

"OW!!!!!" She couldn't help but cringe at howl in agony. "Yuka-tan, what the fuck was that!"

"I told you to duck!" she yelled back as she jumped away from the Shadow, who had now decided that she was more of a threat than the injured Junpei. "Next time pay attention." She made another evasion, however she knew that she couldn't keep it up, they had already been in here for over half an hour and they were beginning to tire, the arrow debacle was a clear sign of that.

There was also the unmistakable fact that she was been driven into a corner.

She drew more power from her Persona, before she leaped towards the wall. The move she was attempting wasn't something she had mastered in fact, even though she hated to admit it, she had picked it up from one of Junpei's Parkour based platform games. Even so desperate times called for desperate measures, so she twisted sideways, allowing her left foot to find purchase. This allowed her to use her right foot to kick off the wall and over her opponent.

It was a shame that she hadn't considered how she was going to pull off the landing.

As such the brunette found herself in a pile on the floor, her pride and her wooden bow ending up as a bigger casualty than her body, however as she watched the Shadow make a lunge in her direction she realised she may be evaluating the situation far too early.

She closed her eyes, only for the impact she expected to never occur.

Instead she opened her eyes to see her silver-haired sempai standing over her and the Shadow was dissolving into a plume of black nothingness,

"Thanks Akihiko-sempai," she muttered as the boxer helped her to her feet.

"Just be more careful next time," Akihiko stated. "Hopping around like the Prince doesn't work for everyone."

"Stupei!" she yelled, suddenly realising that she'd forgotten about the baseball-cap wearing joker when the Shadow had turned its attention her way.

"You shot me, Yuka-tan," the black-haired teen moaned from his position on the ground.

"Well you should have ducked," the brunette shot back, refusing to feel guilty for the cock up.

During this Minato looked at the wound on the other male's shoulder. "This is going to hurt," he announced as he grabbed the arrow and pulled it out.

"AARRRRGHHH!" Junpei screamed in agony. "You could have given me more warning, dude. That hurt like a bitch."

"Calm down," Minato ordered. "Moving will make it worse."

With that the field team leader of S.E.E.S. pulled his Evoker and called on one of his Persona to heal the idiot.

She still didn't know what to make of the blue-haired teen's ability to summon multiple Personas. On one hand it was a huge advantage; he had saved her life multiple times, was able to cover the group's weaknesses, and the mysteriousness the ability gave him added to his appeal. On the bad side she was still terrified of the power he could unleash. While he had saved her that night, watching the white Persona decimate its foe with little effort was unnerving.

And of course there was the fact that his appeal seemed to attract other... unwelcome interests.

"Is everyone alright?" Mitsuru asked over the transceiver.

"They will be," the blue-haired teen responded. "Junpei's going to be sore for a few days and Yukari is now unarmed."

"Any injuries?"

"Nothing except a few sore muscles and injured pride," he assured as he started to move back the way they had entered. "But everyone is getting tired, so I'm calling it a night."

"Roger," the redhead ended as the connection went silent.

Although the blue-haired teen said nothing she was positive that the team field leader wasn't looking at the debacle as a monumental cock up and to be honest she had to admit that he could be right. Maybe she should have given Stupei a few more seconds before she let the shot off. Oh well, what's done is done, the best thing she could do was to get another bow out of storage and hope that the next trip went better.

As Minato touched the Access Point and she found herself back on the first floor of Tartarus, she let out a sigh of relief. Even though things had gone so badly they had made it out to fight another day.

She could only hope that their luck lasted that long.

---

Wednesday, 27th of May 2009. 00:48

He'd been up for hours considering if this was really worth it.

Welcome to the Revenge Website.

Have a grudge that needs settled? Have a grievance that can only be solved with extreme measures?

Enter your target and payment details and vengeance shall be yours.

The rumour of the Revenge website had been flowing around the school for a while, although not many people actually knew the web address. That took a bit of research and a few favours owed thanks to copied homework, but now that he was sitting in front of the screen, he wasn't sure if this was the answer he was looking for.

He wondered if he was overacting. It was true that Arisato had beaten him on the test and had practically sent his grand plan to get Mitsuru-sempai's attention straight to hell, but that wasn't a good enough reason to try and get the guy killed. However, Arisato had already been noticed by the heiress, a feat done in mere days compared to his attempts for over the years, and he would be damned before he let chance of getting into the richest family in Iwatodai turn to dust.

Payment hadn't been an issue. While his parent's were better than most, when it came to modern technology, they still left most of it to him. That meant that he knew all the passwords and safety codes needed to put through an online order. Now he had done the hard part; getting a hold of his father's credit card, the rest would be fairly simple.

Name of Target:

There was another second of hesitation before the image of Mitsuru-sempai inviting the blue-haired teen to the student council came to his mind and he couldn't help but notice the smile that lit the normally collected heiress' face as the teen accepted. Fuelled by his anger, fingers moved as if under a will of their own, filling the box and pressing enter before he could blink.

A few moments later, after receiving the e-mail confirming that the request was being evaluated, he tried to come to terms with what he had just done.

Name of Target: Arisato Minato

End of Chapter 15


Version Changes:

1.00 – Completed with self-checking for errors.

1.01 – Minor error fixing (On a side note Bonsoir is actually correct it means good evening/night)

1.02 – Completed with editing from Vocarin