Authors: This is a collaborative/collab fanfiction between myself and Firebreath Fishslap. While she has her own account (firebreathfishslap is her username), the rules of the site only allow one author to upload a specific fic. She deserves as much credit as I do.
Rating: The rating of the fanfiction currently stands at T. It will be raised to M at a future date, but only when an applicable chapter is posted. This is due to the site's system not allowing M rated fanfictions to come up in searches without fiddling with the settings. This was in part due to Firebreath Fishslap's suggestions.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights of Persona 3: FES, Persona 4, Devil Survivor: Overclocked, Yu-Gi-Oh! Or any other involved franchises. Those rights remain solely with Atlus and Kazuki Takahashi et al. No infringement is implied nor intended.
Honorifics Used Within the Chapter: -sensei (refers to any "master", not just teachers. Another common example would be doctors), -san (generic term for being polite. Commonly translated as "Mr." or "Ms.".
Chapter 1: Deliverance
Throughout the history of the worlds, and the superstitions of each, a full moon has meant many things. There are those that have gazed upon the pale orb with reverence; others with fear. Some have seen it as a sign of blessing, others as a harbinger of man's demise. But that guiding light, no matter what path it sent one down, has always meant something. The large disc that hung in the sky that clear mid-August night was no exception. It meant something was about to begin...
If anyone had been standing on the roof of Odaiba International High School that night of beginnings, they would have been privy to a rather unusual event. At first, all was calm. The starts were muted thanks to the city lights, but they could be seen if one wished it. A fence lined the entire roof so as to prevent some student from tripping and falling to the ground below. None of this was peculiar.
The peculiarity was formed by a brief instance. Perhaps a nanosecond, certainly no longer. To the side of the chairs and tables set upon the roof, there was an empty area. It was no bigger than would be needed for a small group of students to walk by. It was large enough, however, for a teenager to manifest. Nothing flashy; merely where there had been an empty place before now lay a teenage boy. He looked to be in his later teens, perhaps a Junior or Senior in high school. It was the sudden appearance and the complete lack of fanfare that made it odd. A small noise was all that accompanied his arrival. A "pop" of sorts, the sound of an empty space suddenly becoming full.
The teenager looked at peace. Closer examination would have likely set one's hair on edge. It would reveal that he was at peace the way a corpse might be. Completely still, not even the movement of a chest rising and falling to break the calm. His skin was pale enough for him to be called recently deceased. Indeed, he looked as if he would have been more at place in an open casket than in the still air of the high school roof. A slight breeze ruffled his dark blue hair, a large portion of which fell directly over his right eye in an untidy clump.
A solitary black father twirled in the wind as only feathers seem capable. It floated down with the fading wind, which moved the curled feather towards the teen's face. It was more like the down one might see upon a chick than a true feather. It ever so gently cascaded towards the still teen and set down just below his left eye.
It was as if a switch had been flicked for Minato Arisato. His face twitched at the exact moment the words, "I will... burn my dread..." came blaring from the silver headphones he wore. They were not over his ears, the stiff black band that would fit over his head looped behind the back of his neck. The volume of the music, however, made it clear that even had he been wearing them, a person several feet back could have at least made out the music. The exact words, aside from the oft repeated "burn my dread", were however somewhat difficult to understand.
It was not the only change the feather seemed to herald. For the teen's chest had begun to move. More than before, it was clear he had not been breathing. A slight bit of color returned to his face and hands, the only parts of his body the black school uniform he wore allowed one to see. Even his neck was concealed thanks to the high collar of his white shirt, tied shut with a loose black bow.
A small groan could be heard escaping from Minato's lips. It was a familiar sound to many a teenager, and almost all parents. It was the groan of one who had been sound asleep only to be woken and informed they had to be somewhere. His right hand lifted up and reached over to shoo away the tickling sensation brought by the feather. His hand managed to catch the feather's edge, allowing it to be caught by another gust of wind. It spiraled up towards the moon before the wind shifted and carried to towards the ocean view afforded by the rooftop.
Minato opened his eyes, although it took a few moments for the action to mean he was awake. The round orb that comprised the moon hung directly over his head. He jerked up, almost as if the sight of the moon was a sign of something terrible. He felt foolish for the action and his expression faded from one of almost terrified shock to something altogether dull. As his thoughts gathered, one seemed to shine above the others.
No response came. That gentle, feminine voice that had once been robotic and forced was not there to comfort him. It was not, as could be misinterpreted, that he held Aigis above his many other friends. Despite her obvious, and indeed admitted feelings for him, it was the promise she had made that caused him to think of her first. She had told him that she would always protect him. It had been a little creepy, but he had sensed the kindness in that promise. She would always protect him... It made it seem odd she was not by his side.
He looked down at the mp3 player that hung from his neck by a thick black lanyard. The remix of Burn my Dread was still playing, but he knew from the many times he had listened to the song that it was about to end. Music tended to help him think, and when the situation required it, block out the world around him. It seemed to be accomplishing the opposite tonight, and he turned off the device as he climbed to his feet.
Minato looked at the scenery around himself. He had been so exhausted on the day of Senior Graduation; the day Mitsuru and Akihiko would be leaving high school. Akihiko had plans to go off to college, while Mitsuru was going to leap right into leadership of the Kirijo Group. It was a legacy her father had left her, and one she wanted to maintain with utmost dignity. He had been tired the entire week before that, and it was through sheer willpower he had not slept through the whole event. His eyes widened as he remembered why he had been tired.
He had been tired because he had been dead. His body had been merely a shell kept in motion by a promise he had made. His soul had left about a month prior to create a barrier between the god-entities Nyx and Erebus. Nyx had been summoned to bring about The Fall, and if she reached Erebus, all life in the world would be lost. He somehow knew deep inside that his soul and body were once again one. That, however, likely meant the Great Seal he had performed had been broken.
He felt his hands shake as he reached towards his pocket. What time was it? Was it before midnight? If it was before midnight, he would be able to wait and see if his fears were founded. If the world changed at the stroke of midnight... He had to stop his thoughts and look down. In his rising panic he was missing his pocket. He took a moment to steady his hand and reached into the pocket, pulling out his cellphone. He flipped it open with a flick of his wrist, only to find it dead.
Of course it was dead. He hadn't had the energy to even plug the phone in during his last week of life. However, it meant he had no way of knowing the time. Erebus... It constantly hammered upon the door his soul had guarded. Even if it had become tired of its repeated attempts, the constant flow of negative emotions from man would not permit it to stop for long. Even if fortune granted the reprieve of Nyx leaving her post, Erebus would seek her out. It would find her, and the world would Fall. He felt his legs trying to give out as he made his way towards the door that would lead into the school. He managed to convince his hands to go out and grab the handle.
He pulled down and felt resistance. He jiggled the handle a few more times, but it remained locked. He walked over to the fence at the edge of the rooftop and put his fingers between the large chain links. Minato did not know why he had awakened here. The best he could figure out was that it was where he had closed his eyes for the last time. A warm breeze blew by him. It was far too warm for early March. Just how much time had passed? It seemed late summer, although he was too far up to make out the trees and colors of their leaves in the darkness.
He took a few steps towards the door and turned his back to the wall beside it. He then slid into a sitting position and took his head into his hands. He and his friends had once made the decision to fight Nyx. Nyx, who they had been informed could not be beaten. That had been the truth. Nyx had not been beaten, merely thwarted. They had found a loophole to Death, or at least granted the world one. But... He had died for it. He was not dead now...
Relax, Minato. This isn't like you. If you're alive, it means something has changed. And nothing can be looked into right now. You're trapped up here until morning. The weather indicates late summer, and if you make enough noise in the morning someone is sure to check on you. It will do no good to deprive yourself of sleep...
Minato's thoughts were punctuated by a yawn. He turned his mp3 player back on, switching to a different track than what had been playing. A gentle grin spread on his face as his chosen melody began to play. He carefully lifted his headphones and placed them over his ears. "Kimi no Kioku"... "Memories of You"... That month he had spent after sealing Nyx had given new meaning to the song for him. It always made him think of Aigis. Now that he knew the feelings of that time had been of his life slipping away, the song held a far more bittersweet tone to it. Despite that, it soothed him and he was asleep before the song had the chance to loop.
The blue haired teenager's face twitched. He had woken up just enough for his closed eyes to sense the new light levels. He raised his right hand and rubbed his right eye as he slowly opened the other. The sun had risen while he slept.
Minato was no expert at telling time by the position of the sun, but it seemed like it was sometime in the morning. He let out a small yawn before looking down at his mp3 player. He had set Kimi no Kioku on repeat, but no sound was coming out. A few presses of the various buttons confirmed his suspicions. Like his cellphone, the player was now dead.
He used the wall behind him to get to his feet. He glanced around again, pausing to look at the view he had been too worried to gaze at the night before. The familiar sight of skyscrapers and Ferris Wheel greeted him. He turned to face the school yard and hesitated when he saw the gate. It wasn't the gate he knew Gekkoukan to have. It was a different time of year, but had it needed to be replaced?
Minato saw someone coming towards the school. He was two stories up, far too high to make out if he knew the person. But it was a person. He walked to the fence and waved one of his arms, shouting in an attempt to get the new arrival's attention.
Down below, a woman had nearly gotten to the front door when she heard a faint shout. She paused and looked around, wondering who it could have been. It was improper for teachers to run around yelling, after all. She was about to pass it off as her imagination when she heard the shout again. It had most certainly come from above her. She took a few steps back and looked up to see someone in a dark outfit waving upon the rooftop. A student? What in heaven's name was a student doing at school during summer break?
"I shall be right up!" she stated, speaking in rather formal Japanese.
Minato relaxed and stepped back. He had worried for a moment she wouldn't hear him. He glanced towards the chairs and tables behind him. He stuck his hands in his pockets, walked over to said chairs, and sat down. He had begun to wonder if the woman was going to show up after all when he heard the sound of rattling keys. The door opened and the woman, likely a teacher by her age, came out.
"What, pray tell, are you doing up here young man?"
Minato said nothing. The truth was he had no explanation. Coupled with the fact that he wasn't a very talkative person around people he did not know well, there was really no reason to speak. He didn't recognize the woman, and wondered if she had been hired to help with summer school. She seemed annoyed by his silence.
"You should speak when spoken to. What is your name? I do not recognize you and I make it a point to know the names of students."
"Arisato Minato," he replied.
"Arisato-san...? I think perhaps I have run across that name, but you still do not look familiar. And I do not believe 'Minato' was the first name of that student. Who is your homeroom teacher?"
"Toriumi-sensei," Minato replied. It wasn't completely accurate. If it was summer, it meant the classroom assignments would have changed. He was a senior now, and Ms. Toriumi was a second year homeroom teacher.
"What kind of joke is that? We do not have a Toriumi-sensei on staff here."
Minato looked a little surprised. However, the woman seemed like the type of teacher it was better off keeping their mouth shut around. And so he dead, leaning back slightly as the woman refocused on him. She indicated his outfit with a scowl.
"You are not a student of this school, are you? That appears to be a uniform, and yet it is not that of Odaiba International."
"...I go to Gekkoukan," Minato said, which until a moment ago was where he thought he was at. If he wasn't, it nicely explained the gate out front. But it created other problems.
"Ge... kou... kan...? Where is that located?"
"Tatsumi Port Island," Minato had to wonder why he was answering this question. The Kirijo Group owned Gekkoukan Private High School and it was one of the more elite schools in Japan. What were the odds she had honestly not heard of it?
"You are a terrible example of youth today. There is no such place as 'Tatsumi Port Island'. I suggest you march down from this rooftop and never show your face around here again. Do you understand me?"
Minato decided he did not like this woman. At all. However, in the interest of not having his ear talked off via a lecture, he nodded and walked past her. He could hear her huff as he pulled the door open and walked through. He glanced at the floor inside as he walked over it. The woman was right, this was in no way Gekkoukan. Even if he could have passed off the gate, there was no way they would have ripped up the white tile flooring and replaced it with polished hardwood.
The teenager felt confused. He had hoped things would make more sense in the morning, but now they made far less sense. Despite the view being the same as his high school, this was not Gekkoukan. That could perhaps be explained by perspective and such. Maybe this place wasn't that far from Tatsumi Port Island.
Except the woman had claimed to have never heard of Gekkoukan. Minato wasn't sure what to make of that. He'd known about the fierce competition to attend there. The tuition alone was something else, even for a private school. And she claimed there was no such place as Tatsumi Port Island. The Island was as much a staple of Japan as Tokyo or Hokkaido. What kind of person had never heard of Tatsumi Port Island?
Minato walked down the stairs and glanced around. The familiar model with the Kirijo Group slogan was not there. "Two in harmony surpasses one in perfection". He saw no signs of a snack bar, either. The only thing that seemed truly the same was that the doors could be reached if he turned left. He glanced towards where he expected the bulletin board to be. It wasn't there, although a quick look around revealed it on the other side of the lobby. Whoever had built the school seemed to have used the same basic floor plans as Gekkoukan.
He walked down the steps leading to the front doors after pushing them open. He didn't check to see if it would close on its own. His mind was racing. His being alive put the Seal in danger. He hadn't been attacked in his sleep, but that could be explained with him having the Potential. Of the type that awoke naturally, he told himself. Or naturally enough. He wasn't sure his connection to Death made it all that natural, but it hadn't been forced the way Strega's ability had. He hesitated for a moment and flipped up the side of his school jacket. It was there. Why was it there?
He, nor the other members of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad, or SEES, had continued to carry the gun-like Evokers after the Dark Hour had ended. While he and Aigis had been the only ones who remembered it, he had placed his Evoker with the others in the former Chairman's room. He hadn't informed Aigis of the memories until after she approached him the day of Senior Graduation, either. He hadn't actually known she remembered until then.
It all meant he shouldn't have it with him. His body had given out without it on, why was it on him now? Why did he even have a body to begin with, for that matter? It was summer, they would have cremated him by now. He shook his head and let his jacket fall back into place as he continued walking. He needed to be grateful the teacher had not seen the Evoker. Guns were, after all, illegal in Japan.
He needed to get the present sorted out before he worried about the past. He needed both sorted out before he could decide on the future. It seemed the best thing to do at this point would be to contact Iwatodai Dorms. Perhaps not the best thing, but he could think of nothing else to do. He pulled his wallet out of his left pocket and opened it. Good, at least he still had his phonecard. At least he had a place to start...