GARdian of Truth
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, other than Kenta, the fictional Persona recipe and Nanako's monologue
Author Note: Perhaps the worst Persona 4 with some other series crossover ever. But it just had to be done. GAR is an internet meme for manliness by the way.
Plot Summary: Sometimes you have to surpass to succeed. Souji is given a reprieve of one week by Izanami to prepare himself for the Final Battle. This is the story of that one week. Slight crack.
"You can't be serious…" the former gas attendant snickered. "You just can't be…" whatever restraints held the snickering into a chortle broke and the mastermind behind all the incidents the town had suffered clutched her stomach as pure, genuine laughter surged out of her lips.
The silverette grit his teeth, but his attempts to stand were thwarted by his shaking legs, still woozy from the 'flashback' the attendant had given him. "I am."
If he had intended for the harsh seriousness of his tone to somber the man's cackling, well, he would have failed. The laugher in question, could apparently rival Yukiko's stamina for the act. "End it? Really? I mean-! Hah!" the attendant doubled over slightly, then reeled back. "I-I'm really sorry!" he apologized. "It's just that I haven't had a good laugh in a while now and…" his gloved hand clamped over his mouth. "Jusr give me a-a-."
A few minutes (and deep breaths) later, the conductor's limbs had returned to his sides and the laughter had subsided, though a shallow smile still played on his lips.
"Are you done?" Souji asked, finally staggering to his feet.
The stranger sighed at this. "Hardly, but geez, the gall of some mortals."
"I'll get to that later but seriously," The mirth in his voice fell, though the grin remained. "You really think you can stop me? I mean, you're a bit out of practice aren't you?"
Souji hesitated. Had this confrontation occurred December or January, with him fresh from what he had thought was the case's conclusion, he would've answered in the negative. But now… "Well…"
He didn't notice the man walk up to him and perhaps that was why he was unable to protest when he grabbed his wrists. "There see?" he pointed to Souji's hand. "Your callouses are all but gone, I bet it's been months since you last held a sword." The light grip did little to prevent Souji from yanking his arm out of it but this failed to faze either man in the slightest. "And don't think you haven't gained any weight from going for Aiya's rainy Day Beef Bowl Challenge."
"I just had to beat it!" The teenager cried, alarmed and found himself rubbing his gut in response. "Damn Meat Dimension."
"Oh the yen you must have shelled out…" the attendant said, as if he could sense the lightness in Souji's wallet. "So let's recap…" he brought one of his fingers up. "You haven't fought shadows for a loooong while," his middle finger snapped up to join the index. "You've gained a few pounds and what's more…" the grey clad hand burst open, as if emphasizing that the next point was as important as three combined. "You have no idea what you're up against."
The volley of harsh criticism, coupled with the fact they were all to an extent true, caused Souji's legs to stagger a bit. "I know you're behind it all…"
"Like I said, you have no idea." He sighed, shaking his head. "But you know…" he started, as an idea seemed to break the stranger out of his pitying motion and his fingertips began to twirl his long black tresses in a manner that was almost feminine. "If I'm going to test the will of my children, with you as their representative, you should at least be up to snuff. So…I'm going to cut you a break. After chasing down all my little pawns, you should at least have the privilege of taking a respite before trying to capture the queen right?" Seeing the silverette's expression arc in askance, he proceeded to lace his fingers together in mock contemplation. "I'm thinking, a week…Yes, that is the usual allowance for divine action."
Before he had a chance to protest, the man raised a finger to the High School Junior and wagged it disapprovingly.
"No butts." And in a flash not unlike those that ushered in the manifestation of a Persona, the attendant stood, well not stood, more like floated, before Souji, garbed in a long white funeral dress. "You will be given the last scant days of March's center with your memories intact. Though you may choose to relive the week to the letter, you may act…differently, to better prepare yourself for what lies ahead." She looked down at him, with a countenance that shone with a mixture of pity, contempt, and curiosity. Almost as if he and his actions existed only to entertain her. "I am Izanami by the way. Any question, city boy?"
He did in fact, dozens biting, slapping and kicking at one another in his mind for the right to be asked, but of all of them, one just had to be made.
"You were a girl?"
The slap that followed was very strong, so much so that Souji found it very believable that the force of the blow had sent him back in time…with 1 HP remaining.
Souji was frantically scanning the shelves of Yomeinado Bookstore, fingers tracing the spines of the novels, lightly hoping the titles on them would change. He had been doing this for the last hour or so, and being that this was a small bookstore, his pride should have yielded to the fact that he had combed over the entire inventory half a dozen times.
"Are you sure you don't have it?" he asked out loud.
Usually the proprietor of the store would've been glad to see someone take such an intense interest in literature, but his constant and identical questions were starting to annoy him. "I already told you, we don't have any left, we are SOLD OUT."
That still sounded so absurd to hear, This was Japan, how could any bookstore not have a single volume of Japanese mythology? "How?"
"Well," the owner began, scratching his head in thought. "We sold them all, just about yesterday."
The sound of shuffling books ceased and for the first time since he had begun his quest, Souji turned to look at the shopkeeper with his most intense and hostile gaze. "To who?"
The severance of this statement disturbed the owner slightly. He gave a slight cough, a small attempt at braking that stare. No such luck. "You know that perky guy who works at the gas station?" Those piercing eyes widened at this statement. "Cleared us out." He shrugged. "I'd send a request to the store in Junes, but to tell you the truth, what we got, they got, and the reverse."
Souji was out of that store so fast, that he didn't even notice he had moved. "Figures she'd do her best to prevent me from learning her weaknesses." He muttered, casting a precious glance at the outdoor display of discounted literature. Things weren't looking good. The internet in Inaba was down for some mysterious reason, with the network company promising to have the problem fixed by late March. And with the bookstore devoid of even a children's book about the infamous goddess, he had no idea how to ready himself or his friends for what could possibly be their greatest battle yet.
A groan passed the Junior's lips as he looked up to see the store's other frequent customer, tapping the Hard Boots he had given him long ago in a testy rhythm.
"You look down man, almost like you want to crawl into a hole and stay there." The customer observed.
Oddly enough that was how Souji felt at the moment, what with the threat of imminent and complete defeat hanging over his head like some cosmic Sword of Damocles.
"Visited the flood plain the other day. Went to check up on that cat…It was fatter than I remembered. And I knew you had something to do with it."
"Well," Souji thought, "I have been feeding it a lot."
His fellow bookworm began rummaging through his knapsack. "I can't stand looking into that downcast face." The sifting stopped, "So as a reward for all the stuff you've done, especially keeping an eye on that cat and giving me these sweet boots, I want you to have this."
If the act of giving him the book was unexpected, the book itself was even more startling. It was a jet-black tome, ragged and frayed. But on its cover, sleek and glossy as if it had been newly printed, was the image of a red skull, its top split and blazing like a flaming crown.
"It's the final volume of the Man series. The events and lessons in this tome have inspired whole cities into becoming more macho. Hell, there's even an entire anime based on it." He gave a small grin. "You'll be so fired up after you read it, you'll swear it was written with pure testosterone, rather than ink." Souji couldn't help but notice that the customer was looking at the tome with something nostalgic in his temperament. " Changed my life…and now it's yours." Suddenly he grabbed his raincoat off of the table and with flourish put it on his shoulders. "I'm off," and with that he left, leaving a very confused young man in his overly dramatic wake.
(Later that night)
Souji struggled to pick himself up from the floor. He still couldn't believe what had happened.
He had been reading the final volume of the Man series, "The Fiery Soul" in his room. It was about two brothers, one boisterous and confident and the other shy and meek, who escape their secluded underground village to see the surface. The world above however is full of dangerous forces that wish to annihilate humanity, but they manage to fight back via sheer determination and will, making more and more allies as the story progressed. And then the brave brother died in a spectacular yet touching fashion, leaving the cowardly one alone and sorrowful. For about two chapters. Then he had suddenly realized his own self worth, how he was unique and distinct from his brother, and after a stirring speech that made Souji's eyes moist just thinking about it, he asked one simple question and proceeded to kick a HUGE amount of ass. That was only a third of the book.
When he read that question, the spirit of the words seemed to leap off the page…and punch him in the face. He could feel them now, within him, igniting all the courage and hope he had thought gone after the week restarted, engulfing his soul in an inferno of macho. His lips trembled, begging to say, to ask the world, those eight magnificent words. But there would be time for that later. A plan had come to mind as he nursed his bruised jaw, and with it, he knew he'd show Izanami just how far humanity could go. Besides, he'd wake up Nanako if he shouted at the top of his lungs at this hour.
Daidara never wondered where these teenagers got all these high quality materials, and so he never asked. But this time was different. Usually they just let him create whatever he wanted and take or leave whatever he made. However, they had never asked for anything specific before.
"Hmmm…interesting order, scabbard might be a bit tricky, but otherwise it shouldn't be a problem." He grabbed the appropriate materials from the shelves and with his trademark swiftness produced the requested weapon. "My finest blade for my finest customer." He boasted, handing it to the silverette. "Though I gotta ask, any special reason for wanting this?"
Souji showed him the book and somehow, the blacksmith understood.
"I know you've helped me a lot, what with saving my life and making me realize that sewing ain't something to be ashamed of." Kanji noted as he stretched the measuring tape about Souji's waist. "But mention this to anyone and I will kick your ass."
"No worries Kanji." Souji assured, very much aware that his bleach blonde friend was dead serious when it came to things like this.
Casting the yellow strip over Souji's shoulders, a thought came to Kanji's head. "Bit early for Halloween ain't it?" he joked.
There was nothing joking in Souji's reply though. "It's not just for show."
"Here you go Sensei." Teddie declared in between licking his topsicle.
As he gave the small box to him, his 'sensei' made sure to shake the hand that did. "Thanks Teddie, I know this is short notice and all but…"
The Junes mascot made a loud slurping sound in protest, "Ah no worries, though I'm not really sure what you need 'em for. After all." He tossed the small wooden remnants of his ice cream in tandem. "The case is closed, right?"
Souji cringed and had to resist the urge to tell Teddie the truth. That bear's innocence was just too much sometimes, he couldn't stay dishonest to him long about the fight not being over. But a quick peek inside the box's contents assured him, that it would be, one way or another.
This was certainly an interesting request.
"Hmmm…so let's see here…" said the long nosed master of the Velvet room, his tone one of eager sophistication. "…Izanami, Hell Biker, Melchizedek, Siegfried, Eligor, Mada, Queen Mahb, Saturnus and…my, my, what an eclectic group of Personas." Igor turned to face his latest guest. "And may I inquire why you do not wish for this group to be fused immediately? You don't even know if the results will be to your…liking." His request was an odd one, a hodgepodge of Personas, some strong, some weak, primed for, but not to be part in now, fusion, at Souji's behest. If it succeeded, the results would no doubt be…intriguing, but if it failed then…he had been a good guest in any case and would be sorely missed.
The look of brief apprehension that passed through the young man's features indicated that he had pondered this problem as well. It didn't last. "I'll be fine, I just need to combine them at the critical moment."
Igor let out a small sound of approval as he shuffled the desired cards. This room that reflected Souji's heart had grown hotter as of late, the speed of the limousine faster, and the drinks more powerful. He was obviously going somewhere with all this. They were in for quite a show.
He couldn't remember what he had been doing before it. Eating, drinking, reading, he didn't know. But that just showed how powerful that kiss was.
It was completely unexpected, even to his senses. They had been slowly distancing themselves since Valentine's Day, holding hands less, spending little time alone, barely touching. So this breach of personal space on her part, since it was her idea for them not to be so close before he left, was, well surprising to say the least.
She looked at him sadly, a small longing in her eyes, before she left, quite suddenly.
Souji touched his lips, "I'll have to pay her back for that…" he decided. "Ten times…"
"You are alone…" a dark voice said from decayed lips.
They were all gone, every one of them. Chie, Kanji, Yukiko, Yosuke, Teddie, Naoto, Rise…all had pushed them out of Izanami's killing blow only to fall victim themselves.
"I have sent all your friends to my realm, that of the dead…" that was intrinsically obvious, she thought. Where else would they go? "I am disappointed that you were unable to better prepare though." He certainly didn't look any different, and his skill, though admirable, wasn't up to her standards. Had the week gone to waste? "You will join them and me down into that accursed place."
The silverette cast a small glance to the ground. "They're not gone."
At this, the rotted deity gave a rough chuckle. "Denying their departure?"
He looked at her directly, for the first time since they had started the fight. But there was neither sorrow or pain in his eyes. "They're below me, that's true. But not truly gone, that is immobile, lifeless, powerless." He took his grey framed spectacles off, everything was clear. "I can feel them swimming, surging like magma in the void, waiting to burst out." Souji tossed the glases away, and produced a small rectangular box from his pocket. "You can't keep them down there."
Izanami's black, dirty hair swayed slightly as she shook her head. "I may have failed to keep my husband at my side." She sneered bitterly. "But I have never failed since then. Escape is impossible."
Souji unsheathed his katana from the crimson scabbard on his side in response.
A red, carrion clung hand stretched from the goddess's side. "The will of Man, is not very impressive." A colossal bolt of purple energy coiled out from her arm, flying into the air, whirling and collapsing into a shadowy sphere. It lingered in the stagnant sky above the two and then descended upon the bearer of the Wild Card.
It happened as the ball which promised death and oblivion was mere inches from his face. His usually stony expression curled into a triumphant grin. "GATTAI!!!!"
And the attack found itself struggling, writhing in rage, as it was blocked by an array of small, glowing cards that had manifested above Souji.
"What?" the Izanami cried. She squinted at the obstacle to the teenager's demise. "Personas?"
A small beam of light blasted out of the one bearing her husband's portrait to one of a tall warior, then to one bearing a mechanical angel. The ray went on to connect all the cards to one another, binding them, and then in a flash, a spark of starlight in the null, brought them all together.
With a sound that could've made thunder seem like a whispher, the curse scattered, its malevolent power spiraling out, as if trying to escape the light.
The newly born Persona twirled in the air, slowly floating to Souji's hand.
"From the cradle to the grave, man finds himself surrounded by illusion and doubt." He declared, his eyes on the still blank soul. "He lives in a world surrounded by a thick fog, not that which obstructs vision, but one that clouds the soul." An image started to manifest on the card. "Whether it was put there by the gods or by himself, it must be broken through."
"Nothing shines down here." Izanami stated. It may have been a jeer, but Souji could detect the melancholy hidden in the terrible voice.
A small click echoed through the walls of the dismal abyss, the clack of a small box hitting the floor soon followed. "I can still see in front of me. If you can do at least that, the light, the truth is there." He yanked something from inside the endless depths of his pockets. "If only a small ray of light is there to illuminate the truth then I'll become that sole beam." It was a red cape, with a symbol of a blue stylized skull on it. There was no wind in this twisted realm, no life. So why did it whip and thrash like a roaring flame in his hands? "And tear a hole in the blackness, so the heavens can shine through!"
"What…" his foe began, hands poised to strike again. "…NONSENSE!!!!!" Streams of fire gathered about the boy at Izanami's behest, and lunged, hungry.
Souji grabbed the edges of his cape and swung the garment over his shoulders, the phantom gale causing it to billow and flap with an intensity that rivaled the enchanted inferno that surrounded him. "That won't work!" he yelled. And for the second time that day, another of the demiurge's attacks was repelled.
"The spirit of a man is besieged by many things, but ultimately, with persistence and determination…" he looked at the card, the image was clear, the time was now! "Nothing is beyond his grasp!" the card smashed in his stalwart grip, releasing an otherworldy azure flame that surrounded him. From this intense aura a haunting figure stepped out.
It resembled the facsimile of Izanagi that Izanami gave to Souji, Adachi and countless others. But its coat was a shocking scarlet, bright and vibrant, unlike its Magatsu counterpart, the shoulder straps spiked. Yellows decorated its elbows and knees, with two patches of orange on its chest that seemed to glare in the twilight. Its masked face was decorated by a sickle of gold that reminded her of the holy moon and what looked like jet black spectacles covering its eyes. And in the place of the Amenonuhoko's blade, was a large drill.
A shout from Souji revealed this new Persona's name.
"Through the boundless odds and unsurpassable limits, a soul of purest flame burns forth to put the Fear of Man back into god! The embodiment of a will that goes beyond such trivial standards such as bold or daring! IZANAMI NO GURREN!!!"
At this, the goddess realized how much the Junior had changed. What had happened to the quiet, reserved youth that she had shaken hands with almost a year ago? Where the hell did this screaming MAN come from? "What has gotten into you?"
"Fighting Spirit." He said simply, his fingers putting on a pair of jagged red shades that resembled the one his Persona wore. "And now it's my turn."
Izanagi No Gurren stretched its palm upwards, almost as if grasping for something and in a fantastic clamor like that of a cosmic orchestra, fluroucent cracks of the utmost intensity snaked and smashed through the dark.
Hundreds of glowing sparks fell through the gap. At first, they drifted serenely, gliding on the putrid atmosphere. However, it became apparent, as they all began swirling downward, that there was a direction to these disparate specks. Within seconds, the tiny embers connected to one another as they accelerated toward Izanagi's open palm, forming a colossal glowing spiral.
"Tearing a hole through rumors and fabrications, this is the innate desire of man to know the truth." Both he and his Persona pointed skyward, the foreign light dancing on their sunglasses. "The paths to the truth wind and twist till they intertwine into a road that breaks apart the lies!"
'Such fire…' Izanami mused, 'Reminds me of the son that slew me so long ago…" she roared viciously. "Impressive mortal, and as a reward…I will crush you with my full power!" Flames, Blizzards, Storms and Darkness bounded from behind her, intending to bring her promise into reality.
The altered image of her husband clenched its hand, collapsing the energy into an orb of power of its own.
Sharp claws dug into the sphere, and flung it at the infernal tempest. Careening toward the fallen godess, the concentrated mass of revelations quelled the raging flames, warmed the wicked cold, dissipated the cruel winds and scattered the shadows to where they could drag no one to their deaths.
Izanami roared, a powerful blast of dark power rose to counter the blow. She was surprised when it simply shattered, scattering the miniature suns all about her. 'So man's will is as weak as I…" a faint humming, interrupted her brooding thoughts. '…What?' Her hollowed sockets turned to see that the sparks had suspended themselves in the air, shaking and hovering, surrounding her. She realized too late that she couldn't move.
Izanagi No Gurren lifted its spear above its head, the drill on its tip aiming right at the heavens.
Some of the souls of truth wrapped around the drill, and in a flash, it had grown to 10 times its orginal size, a feat made even more astounding by how effortlessly the World Arcana held it up.
The Persona grabbed the naginata's shaft with both hands, lowering it to point at the immobilized creature that had tried to drug the world with falsities.
He shot forward with the speed of God's judgement, burning with a ferocious azure glow that propelled he and his weapon forward.
The collision was fierce and swift.
And all was revealed.
"Not bad…not bat at all." A voice defeated and grateful smirked as it faded into the unknown.
"Of course…" a more boisterous one said, its owner ready to face tomorrow. "Who the hell do you think I am?"
Author Note: Bet none of you saw this coming (sarcasm). This was just a totally random idea that popped into my head a couple of nights ago. It just came from a regret of mine that you couldn't get custom glasses from Teddie because if you could, I would totally equip all my teammates with Kamina shades. Then not even Elizabeth and Margaret could stop us!!! And yes, Souji basically beat the final boss…by cosplaying.
AME-NO-DRILL is a pun on the Amenonuhoku, the divine naginata used by Izanagi and Izanami to create Japan. It's name means, 'heavenly drill'.
Thank you for putting up with the complete randomness of this story. And as a reward, more OMAKEs, all filled with Persona Lagann goodness.
P.S. Might make a sequel where Souji, now very much into the role of Kamina, tries to convince his friends to cosplay for an upcoming anime convention. Bet you can't guess who Simon will be.
A small buzz announced the deliveryman at the door. He waited outside in the wam summer air, bemoaning the fact that this house didn't have a mailbox and that all deliveries that couldn't be slipped under the door had to be delivered by hand. The package also faintly smelled of chicken grease.
The door opened and the porter's eyes widened. It was the Junes mascot. The monkey, bear…whatever it was gave him a small, cheerful smile. "Can I help you, sir?"
"Y-yeah." The deliveryman blinked, trying to ignore the bizarre nature of the situation. "I have a package here from Tanaka's Shopping Program for one Souji Se-."
There was a sharp, high pitched yell from behind the bear and before either the mascot or the deliveryman could react, a small brown haired girl in a blue jacket (a bit too large for her) jumped onto Teddie's head. She stood, staring down at the man, arms crossed and a look of unbridled determination on her face, apparently uncaring of the blue creature that struggled to balance her.
"N-Nana-chan, what're you do-?"
"Big Bro is gone! He's not here anymore!" She lifted up a small spool of thread for all to see. "But in my thread…" the little girl pointed at her chest. "And in my heart, he lives on!" a small needle was produced from her side and was thrust up toward the ceiling. "Mine is the needle that weaves the heavens! Even if that sweater is out of fashion next season, as long as it doesn't itch, that will be my victory!" somehow, even with the bear tilting back and forth, her stance never wavered. "Who the hell do you think I am? I'm Nanako Dojima! Not my Bro Souji Seta! I am MYSELF!" A strong wind snapped her hair, up, splaying it dramatically.
Her audience stood aghast, mouth hanging open and grip sagging. He sighed, this so wasn't what he signed up for. "I'll just forward it to his new address." And with that he left, leaving the mascot to struggle with the still unyielding little girl on his head.
"That was badass!" a voice declared from behind them.
Nanako smiled, her hair still whipping in the artificial breeze. "Yeah, that was pretty cool." Much to the relief of Teddie and her ankles, she finally jumped off of his fuzzy head. "Although, I still think it would've been cooler if you had done it, Kanji."
The delinquent waved a hand, as if trying to swat away the compliment. "Nah, for me that's just par for the course, but for someone like you, it's pretty damn special, even though you got some terms mixed up." He turned to the trembling young boy, hands still clutching the source of the 'dramatic wind'. "Don't you think so Kenta?"
He gulped slightly. "Y-yeah," he squeeked, were all Kanji's doll making classes going to be like this? "Can I put the fan away now?"
Rise frowned, not at the giant shadow in front of them, but at Souji.
Ever since he had gotten those stupid glasses, he had started to act wilder, less careful and more…stupid in battles.
"Okay," she announced to the group, her eyes never leaving their leader, whose hand was trembling over his sheathed sword. "I've analyzed the target. It's pretty strong, immune to electricity, and probably darkness and light." She paused, he had stopped fidgeting and was instead looking at their foe intently. "So the best course of action would be to-."
She never got to finish.
"Okay mates let's do this!" Souji yelled, drawing his sword out. "SOUUUUUUUUUUUUJIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He yelled and before anyone could stop him, charged at the Shadow.
"Senpai wait!" Rise warned. "It reflects-!"
She and the others winced as the silverette was knocked back by the force of his own attack.
"-Physical Attacks…" she finished
"Hmmm…so let's see here…" said the long nosed master of the Velvet room, his tone one of eager sophistication. "…Izanami, Hell Biker, Melchizedek, Siegfried, Eligor, Mada, Queen Mahb, Saturnus and…" Igor's eyes arched in surprise. "…Why is Mara here?" a small bit of discomfort at seeing the very phallic shaped creature in the deck.
"He's full of fighting spirit." Souji answered.
A small bump and gasp was heard from beside them and they turned to see that Margaret had fainted, a goofy, mischievous smile on her face as she fantasized about this new Persona.
From this intense aura a haunting figure stepped out.
It was a man…was it a man? He seemed mail enough, but… Heavy pink mascara on its eyes, short green hair atop his head, wearing a pink vest over purple jumpsuit. Its stretched its arms out and moaned slightly.
"Was this the Wild Card?" the silverette looked up in shock. This wasn't what he was expecting at all.
"My name is Leeron." He purred, draping one of his arms around the dumbfounded Souji's shoulders. "And it will be my pleasure to protect EVERY-LAST-INCH-OF-YOU. Kay?" he winked.
Souji didn't notice his other arm snake down his chest and onto his…
His screams and Izanami's laughter rocked the cosmos that night. Leeron just blushed.