Chapter One: Awakening
Aegis' sight was full of static. She could not see her friends, but hear their cries. The cries of her friends. Her body would not respond, no matter how many times she wanted to move, she could not. She sat, motionlessly to the wall, unable to do anything as this unknown attacker began killing off her friends.
Her friends… If she lost them, would she truly be alone?
He had already left her, in the end of graduation day. While they were alone on the rooftop, she had promised to protect him, always. But she wouldn't be able to keep that promise. By the time the others had finally arrived… he had closed his eyes and had fallen asleep. Only to never wake again. With all attempts to wake him, he did not. He continued to sleep peacefully… then slipped into a coma, and finally, passed away.
He was gone. Gone forever.
She could not bear to think of him, because it caused so much pain… yet… All sound was drowned out. Suddenly, the world had become pure white; moreover… he was standing directly in front of her. Only his clothes and his face had color, but it didn't matter. He smiled that smile that she loved so much. Her two-toned blue eyes stained to look up. Aegis couldn't bear to lose anyone anymore…
"No…" She staggered to her feet. "No…"
The boy who taught her how to live, his face flashed again. It burned itself into her mind. His mouth moved, and let out one word.
"I won't let that happen anymore!" Aegis cried, then became enveloped in blinding golden light. "Athena!" Aegis wasn't aware of what was happening. She only had one thought at the moment: to protect her friends.
Her familiar persona appeared behind her, but something strange was happening. A large, crimson circle appeared over Aegis' head. As soon as Athena passed through it, it had changed into his first persona. Minato's first persona.
"Orpheus?" Junpei said awestruck. "What the hell's going on?!"
The new persona's mouth moved, as if screaming, but all noise came from its speaker. Suddenly, its orange eyes widened considerably as sound convulsed from the speaker on its torso. It held its head, as if it were being possessed by something, and let out, loud, estranged noises from the speaker.
The attacker stopped choking Ken, and took notice of what was happening. Immediately, the figure lunged for Aegis, but before she could react, the resonance let off by Orpheus stopped her from coming close to Aegis, and knocked the figure into a smashed China cabinet. Smoke was wafting from the red, butterfly-shaped visor, which cover its face snapped open.
"Sis…ter…" she muttered, with her red eyes shining in the light.
"What?" Everyone murmured.
Even Aegis heard what the girl had said, but she couldn't stand anymore. She felt herself falling as her vision grew out of focus. She could no longer hear her friends calling to her… then everything went black.
"Welcome, to the Velvet Room."
Aegis woke with a start, and then looked around. She was in an elevator-like room, sitting on a chair across from an old man with a long nose on a navy blue loveseat, and a white-haired, yellow-eyed girl in a peculiar blue and black outfit.
"H-Huh? Where am I…?"
"Relax. You are very much alive. Ah?" The old man peered at Aegis, then said, "Are you a simulacrum, or indeed human? Whichever the case, your fate is very similar to mine."
"Excuse me, but who are you?" Aegis asked as she relaxed into the chair.
"Ah, forgive me. Where are my manners? I am Igor, and this is my assistant, Elizabeth." He gestured to the yellow-eyed girl.
"Pleased to meet you." She said plainly, with a small smile.
"This is the Velvet Room, a place that lies between mind and matter. That fact you are here means that a contract was made." Igor paused and added as an afterthought, "Why, not too long ago, there was a young man here with the Wild card ability as well."
Aegis stood up from the chair, and nearly shouted, "You knew of him?"
"Yes… That young man achieved a marvelous thing; He found his answer to life."
"The answer… to life?" Aegis sat back down in her chair.
"Yes." Igor murmured softly. "Might I see your Wild Card?"
"Wild Card…? Do you mean… this?" Aegis held out her hand, and an ornate Tarot card emerged, which floated to Igor a moment later.
"Ah. The Master of Strings? It seems that young man is closer to you than you think. I should tell you that this particular persona will be harder to control, for a reason, of course. But that is all I can tell you." Igor paused, and the card returned to Aegis' hand. "Now, the matter at hand and the fact you are here, means you will require our assistance in the near future. Please, take this." Igor waved his hand, and an oranate, navy blue key fell onto Aegis' lap, and vanished.
"I shouldn't keep you hear any longer. Next time, you should come here of your own free will. 'Till then, farewell."
The Velvet room began fading out of sight and focus, like a blurry photograph. Aegis blinked, but before she realized it, everything had gone black again.
"Hmm…?" Aegis woke again, this time in the dorm's lounge. She was laying down on a couch, near Mitsuru, Junpei, Yukari, and Koromaru. It felt strange, after waking up from the time she had been in the Velvet Room, but other than that, she felt fine. She sat up.
"You're finally awake." Mitsuru said coolly. "There was no telling when you would wake up again, so I managed to repair your body, but…" She let out a small sigh.
"Oh… this is…" Aegis looked down and saw that there was new equipment on her body. "What is this?"
"A number of things appeared under the lounge. That android told me, 'If you want to protect Aegis, put that on her.' " She quoted.
"Thank you, Mitsuru-san." Aegis smiled lightly, and then stood up.
"I have another thing to tell you. Other than that girl, there's another problem. Two, actually."
"What is it?" Aegis asked earnestly. The others merely exchanged looks, then pointed behind Aegis. She looked at them wonderingly for a moment, then turned around. There was Orpheus, standing behind her.
"…Was he always there?" Aegis asked the others inquisitively, but she herself was not actually alarmed. The persona gingerly walked over to Aegis, as the others exchanged glances again. Aegis blinked, then curiously examined Orpheus. She had never actually seen him before; she had only heard of him, from stories Junpei had told her.
For the most part, Orpheus resembled Minato very much, except that Minato had navy blue hair, and kind gray eyes, not white hair and expressionless, reddish-orange eyes. Minato was also not made of steel, however, they apparently shared the same mannerism as well, they had the same silent expression, slouching stature, and oddly, his arms were awkwardly bent by his sides, as if he was hiding his metallic hands in invisible pockets.
'Perhaps he acts this way, because he was Minato's First persona.' Aegis thought to herself. Orpheus looked away from Aegis' gaze, and lifted a metallic hand to tuck his red scarf a bit closer to his gray face, as though he were embarrassed.
Aegis finally turned away, and reiterated to her friends, "Was he always there?"
It was Junpei who spoke. "Well, yeah… It was acting weird most of the time though. Like, it didn't vanish like personas usually do after the battle, either."
"How so, Junpei-san?"
"While you were out, it stayed with you while playing that thing on its back."
"I believe that is called a 'lyre', Junpei-san." Aegis corrected, and Orpheus nodded in approval.
"Would you let me finish?" Junpei scratched his head, and Aegis looked apologetically at him. "Whatever… Anyway, it started floating around the dorm, checking up on you every so often. It also vanished for a couple of hours, but when it came back, it started looking around the dorm for something, namely, Minato's MP3. At first, it tried listening to it, but then it tried plugging the damn thing into itself! I tried confiscatin' it, but it got mad after I took it away, and then it went to your side again." He paused and added as an afterthought, "The funny thing is that it was actin' kinda… human."
"Are you saying he is not?" Aegis inquired. "If that is the case, why do you consider me female?
"I dunno. Are they?" Junpei shrugged. "I mean, have you ever seen a persona act human? And Aegis, You were designed to be a girl, so there's no arguing in that department."
"It is true I have not seen a persona act human until now, but does that mean they aren't?"
"Forget it." Junpei said flatly as he hit himself lightly on the forehead. "Here's our other problem. C'mere."
Junpei, followed by the Aegis and Orpheus, made their way to another room, where Aegis immediately recognized another simulacrum like herself, chained to a wooden chair.
"Don't worry. She's on her best behavior now that we've got our evokers." Akihiko stated in his usually confident tone.
"Excuse me." Aegis called to the motionless simulacrum, who remained motionless. Quietly, Orpheus walked in front of Aegis and Junpei, while startling Junpei and Akihiko and Ken in the process. Once in front of the android, he poked her head.
"Nnnh…?" The red butterfly shaped visor snapped open again, revealing the younger, paler version of Aegis, except that her body and was black, and her eyes were red, compared to the blond and white-bodied Aegis. "Huh…?"
"You mean she was asleep the entire time?" All those endless shifts were for nothing?!" Junpei groaned loudly, while the others ignored his complaints.
"Umm… I won't attack anymore, so these restraints aren't necessary anymore." The girl said quickly, and looked up at Aegis.
"No one is going to believe you if you don't explain why." Aegis said coldly, which hurt the red-eyed simulacrum's feelings.
"I was doing it for your sake!" She protested. " I really won't!"
Aegis, paused, then let out a small sigh. "Akihiko-san, please un-restrain her."
"What? Are you serious Aegis?"
"I do no doubt that she is lying. If she truly is a simulacrum like myself, then those type of restraints are of no hindrance."
No sooner than Aegis had said that, the girl lifted her arms effortlessly and shattered the chains no pieces. She had kept her word, and did not attack.
"Now, who are you, and why did you attack my friends?"
"I am Metis." She stated and stood up from the wooden chair. "As you can see, we are practically sisters. I attacked them because it was the quickest way to solve this hopeless situation."
"So that is why you called me your sister earlier." Aegis frowned slightly. "What do you mean hopeless situation? Why didn't you just explain it to us?"
Metis hesitated, and turned away form Aegis' gaze. "I-I… Thought you wouldn't like me…"
It became quiet during the moment. The others seemed amused at Metis' remark. Orpheus however, was apparently glancing back and forth between Metis and Aegis. He finally stopped once he hit his other hand lightly with his curled up fist, as though he was done registering that they were sisters.
Junpei was highly alarmed by this. "Aww, Dammit! The it goes again!" Junpei yelled, while pointing at Orpheus. "Does anyone other than me think this is weird?"
"Not as weird as you're acting, Stupei." Yukari quipped bitterly. "I don't see what the big deal is. It's just a persona."
"Yuka-tan. It's like having a constant reminder of… Minato." Junpei scratched his head, and his expression became downcast, followed by Yuki, who also saddened by the remark. Even Orpheus looked a little sad.
"Yukari-san… Junpei-san…" Aegis unenthusiastically turned to Orpheus, and mumbled quietly, "…Please go back…"
The persona reluctantly nodded, much to Aegis' surprise. She didn't really want the persona to leave, because it felt like having him nearby. Orpheus gazed into Aegis' eyes for a moment, and then closed his eyes. He was enveloped in a flash of light, and then simply vanished.
"Aegis… thanks." Junpei heaved a sigh. "Yeah… I mean, it acts just like him…so…" His voice trailed off.
Aegis nodded, then turned to Metis. "Now, please explain this hopeless situation."
"It's better if you see it for yourself." Metis glanced nervously at Aegis. "Umm… Can I call you 'Sister'?"
"Okay." Aegis smiled warmly. "Now, please show us."
"Follow me, sister." Metis said with more than a hint of happiness,
Followed by Aegis and the group, Metis walked to the lounge and carefully lifted a trapdoor, which led to a fleet of stairs. They followed Metis down the stairs, until they had reached a desert. The entire group had stopped walking at the opening of the stairs, but Metis continued walk until she was at the middle of the desert-like room.
"This is the Abyss of Time."
"The Abyss of time…? I think I read about that somewhere." It was Fuuka who spoke this time. "The Abyss of Time was classified as a by-product of Tartarus. It was supposed to disappear with Tartarus and the Dark Hour, so why is it underneath our dorm?"
"It was supposed to disappear, but instead, it grew, and attached itself to your dorm. This is the reason why the day keeps repeating itself." Metis explained.
"It's Tartarus all over again…" Junpei grimaced, and this time, nobody argued.
"I just wanted to get on with my life, and this happens?" Yukari huffed, then glanced at a stunned Junpei. "What's your deal?"
Junpei merely shrugged, then ran back upstairs without a word.
"Hey guys, what that…?" Ken asked, and pointed to a familiar black figure running through a door. "Huh… Oh, Aegis. Behind you."
"Orpheus was standing behind Aegis again. She had not noticed at all, but what she did notice was the frowning expression on his face. "How…?" Orpheus gave Aegis a small nod, then vanished again.
"Did you call it out, Aegis?" Ken asked.
"No…" Aegis now understood Igor's words. This persona could do things of his own will. Did Minato have this kind of problem as well?
"Well, I kinda see what Junpei-san means now. Oh well." Ken shrugged.
"Well in any case, if this is anything like Tartarus, then that means that there'll be shadows. I think we should go upstais and prepare." Mitsuru paused to see if anyone objected. "…Well then, let's go everyone."
The group, excluding Aegis and Metis, went back upstairs.
"Sister… he's back." Metis looked thoughtfully at Orpheus, who had reappeared behind Aegis again. She gave Aegis a look, before saying, "I'll leave you two alone." With that, Metis retreated upstairs.
Now that they were alone, the persona turned to Aegis, and opened its mouth as if he was trying to say something. Aegis tilted her head. What was he trying to say? Aegis watched intently as the persona mouthed the words.
GO TO THE VELVET ROOM.
"Go to the Velvet Room…? I do not even know where it is…" Aegis glanced at Orpheus wonderingly. "Why?"
Before she could receive an answer, Yukari yelled, "Hurry up, Aegis!"
"Coming!" She called back, and turned away from Orpheus. When she had looked back, he was already gone.
'What is he trying to tell me?'