Author's Notes: Wow, months since I last updated. I really should keep track of my pace. I might be a bit late with these chapters but I have another fanfic going and not to mention school life is catching up to me. I'm sorry for the lateness and please Read and Review!
Bustling streets with sounds of people talking over each other and crowded alleyways with colourful flags and stalls were the first things to be seen in Quelas City. Streets were filled with stalls and shops made of stone or wood with dozens of people looking and crowding over each one. Most of the people in the streets wore robes, tunics or garbs that looked like they were designed from Middle Ages of Europe. A few people in metal plate armour similar to Sergeant Miller's could be seen wandering the streets. The buildings were all made from either stone or timber that was beautifully built like Roman streets.
Through all the bustling people S.E.E.S followed Sergeant Miller into Quelas City. Fuuka was amazed by all the people and buildings. "My goodness," she breathed out, "I knew there were a lot of people in here but to think all these people can fit inside these walls..."
Sergeant Miller looked behind him and nodded, "The city's bigger than it looks from the outside. Stick with me to the atrium or you'll get lost."
Nanako walked along side Mitsuru and Akihiko in front looking at all the passing people as their loud voices surrounded them. "I've been meaning to ask Sergeant," Nanako began, "Who is Fenrir and what does he do?"
The sergeant gladly turned his armoured head to Nanako. "I guess you can say Praetor Fenrir is the one in charge of here. Or more accurately, he's the one who protects the city. There's no other Bellator I've ever seen that could best him."
Nanako thought about this for a moment and then said, "So Fenrir is a Persona-User, is he?"
Miller chuckled. "He most certainly is. If I was to compare him with someone in Zorn's forces, I'd say he would be as one of the top Arcane... uh, Arc-something Templar..."
"Arcana Knight," Nanako corrected.
"Ah, yes," Miller continued, "He mastered his Persona when he only had it for three months. The guy's a prodigy. Even though Zorn took ownership of Gerra ten years ago he still hasn't laid a finger on Quelas City thanks to the Praetor."
"Three months?" Mitsuru queried with her curiosity apparent with a hint of shock.
Akihiko rubbed the back of his head mumbled, "We've had ours for so long and this guy manages to master his in three months?"
Miller shrugged. "I don't get most of the mumbo-jumbo this Persona stuff is involved with but what I do know is that some people master their own ego easier than others. Praetor Fenrir's probably one of them."
"So you don't have a Persona sergeant?" Nanako asked.
The sergeant briefly touched the rifle strapped on his back absent minded. "I'm just a soldier. But just because you don't have a Persona doesn't mean that you can't beat someone who does. Having a Persona sure helps, but on a rare occasion you'll find people out there without a Persona who can still kick some Shadows to the curve."
"Like you?" Nanako asked innocently.
The question lowered the sergeant's head a bit. "Um... I said on a rare occasion... so no. That's why we're stationed in groups and squads around the city. Soldiers like me can only be a good defence in numbers."
"At least you're honest," Akihiko commented.
"Ahem! I think we should hurry along," Miller hastily coughed.
"Right," Nanako responded before she turned to the back and called out, "Guys, you better keep up!"
Miwa looked up and turned when she heard Nanako call out in front of a market stand filled with colourful fabrics. "Huh?"
After passing through the bustling market streets the walkway became wider and eventually lead to what it seemed to the town centre. It was formed like a circular plaza made of clay coloured stone bricks and a fountain of clear water in the centre. Buildings of stone varying in size surrounded plaza and there were a few more market stands at the edges. Other pathways lead into of the plaza and people casually walked in and out, some carrying sacks or goods, some dragging carts and some more guards in armour were present around the circle that were stationary and paying more attention than the guards touring the streets. The tallest and biggest of the buildings towered as tall as one of Earth's skyscrapers and the exterior resembled much of a cathedral with all the triangular roofs and coloured glass windows.
"My goodness..." Fuuka breathed out at the sight of the cathedral, "It's like the Notre Dame..."
"Heh heh," Sergeant Miller chuckled, "We take pride in our architecture. Though we can't compete with Vistry or Illuminat in terms of modern building, we can do a pretty good job with more regal structures."
They headed over to the tall doors of the building resembling a cathedral and entered. As Nanako went in she expected the interior of the building to be like any cathedral, but instead to saw something more simular to an interior of a library. The room was large with colour filtered light coming from the windows as shelves of books were standing by the walls. The centre of the room had a few long wooden tables with elegant armchairs and a large staircase starting from the direct centre and branching out to both sides to a higher level.
"Woah," Reiji muttered, "Can't criticize the taste."
Sergeant Miller turned to the group of Persona Users as they walked in. "Welcome to the Quelas Atrium," He proudly greeted with his hands up, "In this place we make most of the city's most important decisions at these tables. And at the head of the tables is Praetor Fenrir, protector and governor of Quelas City."
"In other words, this is the Praetor's office building," a monotone, female rang out from above.
S.E.E.S turned their attention to the top of the left side of the staircase. Walking down the stairs was a young woman with long raven black hair. In a sky blue dress that went down to her ankles she gracefully walked down while holding a thick hardcover book in her right to her chest while pushing her oval glasses up the bridge of her nose with her left hand. Her face was beautiful to say the least but her stern frown gave a 'no nonsense' aura.
"Ah! Alexine!" the sergeant called out as she came down to the ground floor. He turned to S.E.E.S and gestured his hand to the woman who was apparently Alexine. "Everyone, I'd like to introduce Ms. Alexine. She's the Atrium's caretaker, Quelas City's financial organiser and Praetor Fenrir's daughter."
"Don't forget to add father's secretary," the black haired woman added as she stood by Sergeant Miller. She looked at the group of people in front of her. "I presume these are the Bellators father spoke about?"
Mitsuru stepped forward and politely offered a handshake. "My name is Mitsuru Kirijo, current leader of S.E.E.S. I appreciate your city's hospitality."
Alexine politely returned the handshake. "Thank you Ms. Kirijo, but if you're looking for my father then I regret to inform you that he isn't in this building at the moment."
Miller brought his hand to his helmet in surprise. "What?" he queried, "I only just gave him a message a few minutes ago!"
Alexine sighed. "He said he wanted to go out to meet with you in the city plaza. If he did not, there's only one other place I can think he would be."
The soldier hung his head down. "The pub," he dully said.
"I'm afraid so," the woman confirmed.
"Well that's just great," Junpei said, "This guy's supposed to help us and he's getting himself a drink at a bar? Are you guys sure this is the right guy that can help us?"
Alexine ignored Junpei and coldly walked past him to the front door. "If you like I can take you to him. I suppose father needs another lecture on his responsibilities. Sergeant, you can return to your post until further notice."
Sergeant Miller gave her a salute. "Yes ma'am," he replied before heading to the door. Then he stopped, turned to Alexine and said, "Oh, I forgot to mention this. S.E.E.S was able to bring back Hitotsu for us. He's currently in the infirmary awaiting indoctrination reversal."
The young woman's eyes blinked at the news. Then she replied calmly, "I see. We always knew that it could've come to indoctrination. It is fortunate to have him back." She gave a firm nod and Sergeant Miller nodded in return before heading back to the gate.
Maiko took a step forward and said, "The sergeant mentioned that Hitotsu was one of your people. I'm a little confused of how he ended up as Zorn's soldier."
Alexine looked at Maiko for a brief moment before heading out the door. "I will explain on the way. If you would please follow me I will take you to father."
Nanako and the rest of S.E.E.S all looked at each other before Nanako nodded and they all followed.
Once again entering the bright sunlight that shined onto the plaza the group made left into another alleyway. Nanako caught up quickly to Alexine and walked beside her. "Okay, we're following, now can we have that explanation?'
Alexine pushed up her glasses again as she continued walking, her pace uninterrupted. "Hitotsu is our finest blacksmith and weapons designer. He was born in this very city and defended it from the very start of Zorn's domination. For both father and I, he is our most loyal companion."
"Loyal?" Yuuta said, disagreement and sarcasm apparent in his voice, "That guy freakin' almost beat me and my stupid tutor to a pulp! In that asshole Zorn's name as well."
"Who are you calling a stupid tutor!" Junpei yelled from behind him.
Alexine ignored Junpei and went on. "I'm afraid you'll have to forgive poor Hitotsu. He was probably... not himself when he attacked."
Mitsuru joined in, "What do you mean?"
"Most of Zorn's subordinates serve him of their own free will," Alexine explained, "Though they are some people with certain skills he covets very much but they would not bow to him. In these cases he would first try to persuade his target to him with riches or power and dominion. If that doesn't work, he has them captured and he releases them after a period of time. But after they're released they become... different."
Nanako didn't like the sound of that. She cautiously asked, "In what way, different?"
"... They seem to have become willingly to serve Zorn, but people who knew them best would immediately know something is wrong. These people who are kidnapped were indoctrinated."
Yuuta looked puzzled. "Uh... I forgot to bring my dictionary here, so can someone explain what that means?"
Miwa bluntly looked at Yuuta. "She means they were brainwashed. You really need to pay attention to Ken-sensei's next class."
"The indoctrinated individuals lose most of their original personality traits," Alexine continued on, "It hasn't been revealed on how Zorn proceeds with the indoctrination process, but I have made a few connections of what level of indoctrination he can inflict."
"Level?" Reiji queried.
"There are certain differences between indoctrinated individuals depending on how intense the process needs to when it used was on them. People with small mental defences and not enough experience with highly stressful scenarios tend to need a low level of indoctrination. These people keep most of their personality. Others with a good amount of mental strength and training require more pressure during indoctrination. These people take more time to change and by the time they are finished, their personalities would be emptier than before. Some have been known to barely make sentences afterwards."
Yuuta and Junpei looked at each other. "Well that explains why he was talking so weird," Junpei commented.
Yuuta turned back to Alexine. "Okay, so the rampaging guy in rusty iron is your friend. But is he really that good a... weapons maker? Like, your best?"
Alexine pushed her glasses and for the first time S.E.E.S had known her, she smiled. A little bit. "Hitotsu's not a good blacksmith in Quelas, he's the world's best blacksmith. I have never seen anyone else who can endure the fires of the sun while trying to craft a steel cutting sword."
"Fires of the sun?" Miwa nervously repeated.
"Steel cutting sword?" Yuuta repeated, with a new light in his eyes.
Not wanting to break the peace, Nanako kept the conversation going. "So, is Hitotsu going to be okay? Yuuta and Junpei managed to take a lot out of him." At the back of the group Yuuta and Junpei gave each other a hi-five.
"I'm Hitotsu sure will recover from both his indoctrination and his wounds," Alexine replied, "We have top grade medical facilities in Quelas and our best minds in science can rectify the indoctrination as long as it isn't too severe. And since you told me he was capable of some speech I'm certain he'll make a swift recovery."
"That's a relief," Nanako sighed.
As the alley narrowed the further they went in, Mitsuru spoke "I appreciate the information you've given Alexine, but I would like to meet your father as soon as possible. When will we-?"
A few metres ahead of them one of the building's windows on the ground floor burst into shards. At the same time a chair had flown out of the smashed window and clattered into the street. From inside the building cheers and yells of men could be heard.
Alexine sighed and tilted her head forward a bit. "We're here," she said dejectedly.
The group looked to the building on the right and looked through the former window. Inside they could men in noble and common clothes parading in drunken stupor. Each of the men had a least one mug of what seemed to be beer frothing at the top. In the centre of the apparent pub was a man with wavy blonde hair lifting and waving a mug in his hand that was filled to the brim. His back was facing the Persona Users so they could not see his face but they could see the man was fairly tall as even his hair that was a long as a horse's tail only reached the end of his back. He wore a black jacket with a hood that had thick grey fur on the rims and dark blue jeans tied with a leather brown belt.
The blonde man seemed to be at the centre of attention in the tavern as he danced around and the other people were cheering him on with the loudest of voices.
"Who's up for another round!" the blonde man shouted in what Nanako guessed to be an American accent. S.E.E.S silently stood and watched as the drunken chaos ensued inside the building. However, Alexine swiftly enter through the door, which was off its hinges, reached out and grabbed the man's ear tightly.
"Ow! Ow!" the man cried as his head was lead by Alexine's hand.
"Father," the stoic woman sternly said, "You said you were going to greet our guests. May I ask why you're drinking the pub's supply dry again?"
"C'mon!" the man whined, "I wasn't even halfway through the whole thing!" That earned him an even tighter pull. "Ow!"
Alexine rolled her eyes at looked at the humble man behind the counter. "How much more did he put on his tab, Gerald?" she asked politely while still holding the ear of who appeared to be her father.
The bartender gave a small chuckle before saying in an amused tone, "Only about thirty mugs of beer, more or less."
Alexine dejectedly looked at her father. "Well I guess I should be glad you're still sober so you can talk to our guests."
One thought ran through all the S.E.E.S members' minds. 'What do you mean 'still sober' after more than thirty mugs of beer?'
"Let go of my ear Alexine," her father whined, "I'll introduce myself."
With a flick Alexine released the man's poor ear and he finally turned around to face them. His face was revealed to be handsome with a long face. Hardly any facial hair could be seen, giving him the look of someone in his early twenties. His hair at the brow ended like a bowl cut but at each side the hair extended down in two long untied locks going down to his face. His black jacket was open revealing a grey t-shirt and a silver pendant shaped like a shark's tooth hanging around his neck from black string. When his grey eyes gazed upon the team he brought his hand up to his chin as if in thought and walked towards them, or more accurately out of the tavern through the broken window.
After a long silent stare exchange by both parties, the man looking intrigue and S.E.E.S just waiting in anticipation, the man finally said, "My first impression of you people... you guys look a lot more ordinary than I imagined."
Reiji blinked and plainly asked, "And you are...?"
The blonde man opened out his arms as he leaned a little back with a smile. "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Fenrir, guardian and Praetor of Quelas City, and I'll be your host for this evening."
The group plus Fenrir and Alexine had returned to the chapel, which looked more like an office upstairs. In a vast room with oak wood floors and a large stain glass window on the far wall, Fenrir sat in a tall leather chair in front of the window and behind a wooden office desk with the typical office equipment, including an olden day telephone. Though the room looked grand from its oak wood and fancy furniture Fenrir was lazily laid back in his chair with his hands behind his head and in a slouch. Alexine was standing next to him as the members of S.E.E.S were gathered in front of the table. Some were a bit on edge about the man who was sitting in front of them.
Like Yuuta. "Pst," he whispered to Reiji beside him, "This guy is supposed to be some kind of prodigy and super strong Persona User, right?"
Reiji whispered back, "Yeah, so what?"
"I just think he looks a little too wild to be this 'ultimate protector' of the city and he's too skinny and tall to look scary or powerful," Yuuta replied.
"Yeah, like- Hey!"
"So," Fenrir's voice caught everyone's attention, "If I'm not mistaken, you guys are gonna be fighting in the Tourney, correct?"
Mitsuru stepped forward and took the lead. "Yes. To be honest I would prefer avoiding using our powers again for fighting, but Zorn's decree of war against our home galaxy certainly doesn't give us the option. And as I understand, he is no ally of yours either."
Fenrir leaned forward, put his elbows on his desk and breathed out heavily. "You can say that again. Ten years ago Gerra was pretty much alright on its own and doing its own thing. Then Zorn comes in making offers to Persona Users on Gerra and suddenly there's a coup d'état followed by a takeover. Now Zorn's doing it again on a bigger scale, which I have to say he's risking quite a lot for some property. Quelas City is one of the few areas where people can call themselves independent from Zorn without getting shot and he's been trying to beat us down for the last few years. Of course, with the Tourney going on his attacks are pretty much gone from three times a month to pretty much zilch. This is probably what you guys would call calm before the storm."
Mitsuru went over to the table, leaned forward and looked Fenrir in the eye while sternly placing her hands on the desk. "Then you can agree that if Zorn is beaten you can take back Gerra, correct?"
"We can free Gerra," Fenrir replied with a cautious tone, "Gerra doesn't belong to anybody. It's supposed to be a haven, if you can ignore all the battles with Shadows coming from the underground."
Mitsuru raised an eyebrow. "Underground?"
Fenrir shrugged and plainly said, "That's something for another time. But first I'll make this clear, you guys don't stand much of a chance against Zorn at the moment as long as five of you are inexperienced. To improve your chances, the five kids here will need to be trained and I can train you guys."
Nanako eyebrows were raised at Fenrir's statement. "You can train us to fight Zorn? Enough to fight against even Arcana Knights?"
Fenrir nodded with a smile. "Positive," he replied.
Yuuta beamed and exclaimed, "Great! So you'll help us?"
Fenrir suddenly frowned and replied in a low tone, "Negative."
"What?" Yuuta asked as he slumped.
Maiko stepped forward and in a demanding tone asked, "Why not?"
"As much as I want to see you five newbies fair in my training regimen," Fenrir continued as he sat up with a bit of a grimace on his face, "There's a complication."
This raised Mitsuru's eyebrow. "A complication?" she asked.
Fenrir shrugged and lifted his hands. "Before I tell you why, I'm just going to warn you that you shouldn't take it the wrong way. You see, the reason why we haven't been attacked these past few months is because... there's a truce between Zorn and the cities that resist him."
The members of S.E.E.S looked at each other for the news had implanted some doubt into them. Aegis's eye caught sight of Reiji reaching for his Pisyx and she reached out to him shouting, "Reiji-kun, don't-!"
The green haired Persona User had taken out his metal bat, charged past Nanako and Mitsuru who were in his way and ran towards Fenrir with full intention of not getting into another trap set by Zorn. With both hands he swung his metal bat down.
Reiji blinked. His arms were down but the bat had not made contact with his intended target.
It did hit Fenrir, but now Fenrir was out of his chair and in front of the desk, standing beside Reiji. The top end of Reiji's bat was resting in Fenrir's hand, inches away from the top of the desk.
"Hey kid," Fenrir said casually, "This is a one-of-a-kind desk and the craftsman who designed it is dead. So I would appreciate it if you don't break it."
'I...' Reiji thought as he slowly turned his head in Fenrir's direction, 'I didn't even see him move from that chair...'
Akihiko's voice snapped Reiji back to reality. Reiji turned to his tutor and Akihiko was sternly staring at him. "Back down, Reiji," Akihiko calmly ordered, "There isn't a need to fight."
Reiji reluctantly pulled the bat away and returned it into its Pisyx form.
The tall blonde man breathed out a sigh. "I told you not to take it the wrong way. It's not like we're working for Zorn. After all, we wouldn't be called the resistance if we bowed to him for a truce." Fenrir made his way back to his leather chair rested his cheek on his hand and continued, "But I'm the Praetor of a city. That means I put the people of the city first before an uprising. Zorn and the other cities... agreed... that as long as Zorn is held up with the Tourney, we would be left alone until it's over. In other words, no more attacks. An opportunity like that could help the cities rebuild from the losses of every attack and give the civilians some peace of mind. Then there's the complication. In return for the ceasefire, we're not allowed to assist you guys or any other saps that're in this Tourney against Zorn. That was the deal."
Nanako looked down and sighed. "I guess it would too much to ask to put us before the people you're protecting."
"As much as it pains me, yes," Fenrir answered, "I've lived in this city my entire life. I really wouldn't live anywhere else. And the people... are family to me. I became the Praetor for them. If it weren't for all the battles everyone's lives would be so much better and I could settle down and finally just raise my sweet potato patch without a care in the world. But so many lives have been lost just to defend the city that the temporary peace is the least I can give to my people. So no, I can't break the truce, there's too much at stake for us here."
Just as everyone seemed to begin looking disappointed Fenrir broke out in a smile. "But I didn't say I couldn't help you guys if Quelas City wasn't getting paid for it."
Yukari asked in a confused voice, "You mean we have to pay you so you can help us?"
"Precisely," Fenrir answered with satisfaction, "There's a small loophole in this truce, you see. We aren't allowed to help you freely, but..." Fenrir gestured to Alexine and the young woman brought out a blank sheet of paper and a feather quill, "If we are bound to an agreement, a contract, stating our deal then it will be business. It wouldn't be breaching the truce and Zorn can't say anything about it."
Miwa nodded in agreement. "It sounds good. Any existing contracts that don't breach the agreement can't be touch by it."
Yuuta fist pumped and cried, "Woo! Let's get the show on the road! Come on, sign the contract already!"
"Not so fast," Fenrir said while waving his hands at Yuuta to calm him down, "First, we need to settle the price of the training and how'll it be done."
Yuuta brought his hand to his chin and as if a light bulb above his head lit up he grabbed one of his Pisyxes and in a flash some sort of action figure was in his hand. "How about a first edition Underwater suit Featherman R action figure! Bet you can't find any of these on Gerra!"
Everyone in the room sweat-dropped and Yuuta felt the awkward mood. "What?" he asked innocently.
Mitsuru sighed and gently pulled Yuuta back by the shoulder. "We might not have the currency required Fenrir-san. We are from another world after all. I'm afraid we might not have anything of value either."
'Anything of value...' Nanako thoughts repeated Mitsuru's words and then something in her head clicked. She reached down into her pocket and took out the gate amulet she gained from Zatch's Pisyx. Nanako held it up to Fenrir and asked bravely, "What about this?"
When Fenrir's eyes found the amulet they widened by just a fraction. In a surprised tone he asked, "That's quite a valuable artefact you have, miss. Where did you find that?"
Nanako paused and thought of Zatch and the penalty he'll have to pay if Zorn ever found out that he gave her the amulet. Then she finally said, "A friend gave to me."
Fenrir and Alexine looked at each other in question. After shrugging Fenrir replied, "That should be alright. Alexine, write down contact please." Alexine nodded in response and started writing down on the paper with the quill.
Fuuka looked back and forth between the amulet and Nanako before nervously asking, "Fenrir-san, what is that artefact? We haven't been able to use it as we don't know what it does."
Fenrir sat up and waved his hand inwards, gesturing Nanako to hand the amulet over to him. Nanako passed the amulet into his hand and Fenrir brought it up for all to see. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Gatekeeper, one of the rarest artefacts crafted by the Eternates in the... well, universe. Can you guess how much someone would pay to get their hands on something like this?"
"A lot?" Junpei childishly guessed, earning an eye roll from Yukari.
Alexine pushed her glasses up, continued writing and answered, "The Gatekeeper's current bid in the market is equivalent to five hundred trillion Australian dollars on Earth, excluding expenses on obtaining the artefact."
Miwa's eyes bulged out at the high price. "F-f-f-five hundred trillion!"
Akihiko was also baffled by the price and questioned, "Why is it worth so much? Isn't it just another artefact?"
"Artefact value is determined by rarity and function, Mr. Sanada."
The silver haired police officer blinked. "How did you-?"
"Know your name?" Alexine finished for him. "Thanks to channels and informants that work on Earth it was easy to find out who you are just by your appearance Mr. Sanada. How else do you think these walls and buildings look so similar to your own home planet?"
This time it was Maiko's turn to ask a question, "How is it that a civilisation that was given mystical artefacts because of its lack of technology have modern Belgian F2000 rifles?"
Fenrir couldn't wipe the smile off his face. "Didn't Alexine say we have sources on Earth? Gerra is a haven that continuously tries to better itself by watching the development of other planets with life. Earth is no exception. I don't know much of Gerra's history to be honest, but I do know that one of the wise guys decided to use an observing artefact to watch and learn from other planets. Lots of stuff on Gerra is similar to Earth because I personally think Earth is the planet with most taste. We know how to make everything from automatic rifles to toasters."
"That's kinda creepy," Yuuta mumbled, "How you guys have been watching us and stealing our ideas."
Fenrir merely shrugged. "Maybe, but we learn from your mistakes and try not to make them here. Of course some freak accident happens on Gerra every once in a while but at least we know to be extra careful when getting environmentally hazardous liquids in the middle of the ocean." He said the last part with a grin.
"Now that's just mean..." Yuuta mumbled again.
The blonde threw the artefact in the air and caught it while gazing upon it. "I'm amazed that this managed to fall into your hands. The only Gatekeeper known to be found is Zorn's."
Alexine put down the feather quill and stated, "Finished, father."
"Thank you," Fenrir said to his daughter and pushed the paper to Mitsuru. "Read carefully."
Mitsuru took the brand new contract and read out, "By signing this, my fellow members and I agree to handover the Gatekeeper artefact to Fenrir Lupus in exchange for training the five newest members. The training will go over three days and the training will go however Fenrir Lupus decides. If this promise cannot be kept by the profiteer, Fenrir, then he must give an immediate full refund and a gift of his choice free of charge." The red haired woman looked up from the contract and gave Fenrir a mutual stare. "Three days? Are you sure you can accomplish that?"
"Whether you believe in me to train your junior members or not isn't up to me," Fenrir answered, "Do you want me to train them or not?"
Ken, who was quiet at the back of the group, finally emerged to the front with a stern look on his face. "This training... what exactly will they learn from it?"
Fenrir flexed his fingers out. "I'll make them stronger in both mind and body, that's for sure. They'll get more control and skill with their Personas. And, as your green haired newbie demonstrated, they'll need sufficient training with their weapons. Not to mention the new ones they'll get."
Ken unconsciously leaned forward. "What new weapons?" he asked in a low tone.
"... I'll be teaching them how to wield firearms. I think they'll need it."
This made Ken clench his fingers on the desk and scowl. "No, absolutely not."
By his side Nanako was surprised at Ken's response. "Ken-san..."
Her teacher turned to her and said, "I'm your teacher and I'm saying no. Getting you guys to pick up weapons and going into battle is one thing, but guns are far too dangerous."
"I'm not changing my mind Mr. Amada," Fenrir bluntly said, "And you're naive to think that there won't be other people who wouldn't hesitate to point guns at them. These five have to be ready for anything and that means giving them all the skills possible. Knowing how to aim and fire a gun is no exception."
"They have Personas," Ken argued, almost like a growl.
"Which may not be enough," Fenrir countered, "There are many soldiers who carry firearms for the very possibility that they'll fight Bellators. And though the Persona is our first and main weapon, don't forget that'll one day they won't have the strength or possibility to use theirs. A second weapon could surely help them. And remember, a Persona does not make us invincible. Maybe hard to kill, but not invincible."
"But-!" Ken was going to argue again but stopped as Nanako reached out to him.
"Ken-san," Nanako began as she looked into his eyes with confidence, "It's okay. We'll do it."
Reiji followed her up. "Remember what happened back at the forest? Against that Arcana Knight? We... couldn't do much really. You wore him down and we managed to deal with him but in the end he was still too strong for us. We would've died if that old man didn't come in. If we had... something else at that time we could've made a difference."
"We'll handle the training Ken-sensei," Miwa said, "We don't want to feel what we felt in the forest ever again. That feeling of helplessness."
Ken looked across the three of his students as Fenrir smirked. "Looks like you're out voted," the blonde man muttered, "Are you gonna listen to them? It's a teacher's responsibility to teach to and learn from his students for the better."
Ken paused and looked down before finally breathing out, "Fine. But they better not get hurt by a single gun from this training."
"... I can't guarantee anything-!"
Alexine tugged on her father's ear.
"Ow! Okay! Okay! I promise!"
"I can't believe we're going to learn how to use guns..." Yuuta muttered.
Maiko shrugged with a smile. "It'll be easy. Besides, it's been a while since I got some target practice with a rifle."
"Yeah... wait, what?"
"Ms. Kirijo," Fenrir began again, "If you wish for these five to increase their chances on living through this, sign here."
"I'll ignore the crude reasoning," Mitsuru said as she carefully looked down on the paper and quill. She looked to Nanako, leader to leader, and Nanako merely nodded with a confidant gleam in her eye. Mitsuru gave a small smile and finally picked up the quill and wrote her signature down on the line.
"Very nice," Fenrir commented as he pulled the signed contract back to him. "I've got some calls to make before we start training, so why don't you guys go into the markets and go shopping while I finish up? I'll be done within two hours, I think."
Miwa had beamed for a moment when the 'shopping' was heard but then she sighed as she remembered something. "But we don't have any money..."
Fenrir smirked. "Should I mention I owe a favour to a tall blonde woman dressed in velvet blue and works for a long-nose, wide-eyed master?"
"You know Margaret?" Nanako asked.
"Of course!" The blonde man chuckled, "She and her siblings are regular customers here. They come every month or so to buy furniture and clothes for their workplace. Though I always wondered why they always went for the velvet blue stuff..."
Reiji raised an eyebrow. "Why would they come here to buy furniture? Can't they get it anywhere else?"
Fenrir's smirk somehow grew smugger. "Well, wasabi head," he began but not before pausing to see Reiji twitch at his new nickname, "Do you know what Quelas City is famous for?"
"A drunken blonde protector?"
"No..." Fenrir replied with a bit of a wince, "You saw all the markets and stalls out there right? That's what Quelas City lives for. We're the economic juggernaut of Gerra, the world's largest market for about anything. Clothes, foods, weapons, artefacts, even information. You want something of value? Chances are that's we had it, we've spun it up and made it into something more valuable to put on the shelf. We've hardly had economic problems cause the markets here a way too good to stop people from coming here."
"That still doesn't explain how we are supposed to buy stuff without money," Junpei mention negatively.
Fenrir leaned back on his chair and stretched before answering, "Well... some time ago Margaret ordered a very nice sofa and a canvas. She said it was for her colleagues. But there was a mix up in the times and we didn't bring it to her in time, thus breaching the contract. Though a few days later we did manage to send the items to her, we still had broken our promise. So to make up for it I told Margaret that I owed her a single favour as an apology for the breach." Fenrir bent down and reached under his desk. He pulled up a large black briefcase and opened it up to show S.E.E.S the contents. "She called in that favour yesterday, saying that you'll need money. Well, here it is."
The contents of the briefcase were square golden chips the size of regular erasers. They were neatly packed side by side and row by row, glistening from their golden colour. Fenrir grinned at the gaping expressions of the S.E.E.S members. "I wouldn't be able to use this money for the payment for your training since this on a favour, not an actual price. But this should help you guys resupply and get new weapons. You can use them in any town since all of Gerra uses the same currency."
"O.M.G," Miwa said with her mouth open like a fish for a few seconds.
"Five million credits," Alexine stated, "You may wish to take it in cash or..." She help out a few PDAs of some sorts and handed them to Mitsuru, "You can take them electronically with these PTMs. These are more convenient than carrying five thousand gold chips."
"You guys have EFTPOS?" Yuuta asked, trying to take his eyes off the case of gold chips.
"Were you not listening when we said we incorporated many of Earth's ideas to our own?" Alexine rhetorically asked with a strain of annoyance, "These PTMs, Portable Telling Machines, are the equivalent of your credit cards on Earth with the exception that the PTM itself is your own bank account."
"How much is one credit one Earth?" Fuuka asked.
Alexine once again pushed her glasses up and said, "Approximately fifty American dollars."
Yuuta bounced on the spot and waved his hand up and called out, "If we're getting guns, dibs on the sniper rifle!"
"Like teacher, like student..." Yukari mumbled.
"I wasn't that bad, was I?" Junpei asked her. She didn't answer.
Enjoying the commotion, Fenrir clapped his hands for attention. "Listen, I need to get some things done, so I'll get Alexine to open Hitotsu's storeroom-"
"No need for that, your worship."
Everyone turned to see the door open behind them. Walking into the room was a six foot tall man with absolute muscular features and a head void of hair as he didn't have any eyebrows either. A bronze chest plate was all he wore at the top and pants were just simple trousers made of black leather. His arm was also in a cast that slung over his shoulder. Everyone looked at him wide eyed as Yuuta and Junpei pointed at him and shouted, "YOU!"
Hitotsu rubbed the back of his neck and grinned. Yuuta then noticed that his mouth straps and cover were gone.
Not that it made him any more comfortable. "Why are you here?" he yelled accusingly.
"Hitotsu!" Fenrir happily called out as he walked across the room and friendly placed his hand on Hitotsu's shoulder. "I didn't think you'd be up so soon!"
The welcome of the Praetor had given Hitotsu a guilty frown. "Forgive me, Lord Fenrir. I should've been stronger to withstand indoctrination. And I was careless when I went out to find more Oricha-"
"Hahaha!" Hitotsu was interrupted by Fenrir's laugh. "That's in the past my friend," Fenrir cheerfully said, "I'm just glad to see you back."
"I'm not!" Yuuta shouted while still pointing his finger at Hitotsu, "I was almost killed by this guy! If I don't get to swing my sword at him or get Zephyrus to run him over give me a good reason why!"
Hitotsu crossed his arms and looked at Yuuta. "Because I'll be the one giving you your weapons, kid. Free of charge."
Yuuta dropped his finger while putting on a puzzled look. "Say what?"
Hitotsu bowed down deeply without going back up. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused while I was... 'unsure' of myself. I don't remember much of what I did under Zorn's indoctrination, but I remember you defeating me and bringing me here. That was a silent wish I was never able to speak out and for that I thank you with a free set of weapons from my own stock."
Junpei uneasily walked to him. Giving the bowing Hitotsu an odd look he turned to Fenrir. "Are you sure he can be trusted? He wasn't with you guys for long."
Fenrir opened his mouth to speak but his daughter got there first. "Hitotsu can very well be trusted," she said much to the annoyed look on her father's face, "The time to reverse indoctrination varies on the level of indoctrination. A simple level one indoctrination would only take half an hour to reverse more or less. The time could also vary depending on the person."
Reiji placed a hand on Yuuta's shoulder and told him, "Give him a chance, will ya? We're getting guns for free after all. Not something we can complain about."
Yuuta looked back and forth between Hitotsu and Reiji slowly, still wary of the man who only tried to kill him yesterday. Then he gave out a sigh, "Alright. I better not regret this..."
"You're going to make plenty of mistakes to regret in the future, what's one more gonna do?" Reiji cheekily joked.
"I'd liked to catch up with a drink Hitotsu," Fenrir began to cheerfully talk to his friend but then his daughter started sending ice glares at him, "But we'll have to take care of some business first. I'll see you at the pub tonight." Another glare from Alexine sent a small chill down his spine. "Better make that tomorrow night..." he nervously corrected.
"I'll look forward to it," Hitotsu replied, unaware of his friend's dilemma.
He turned to the watching group of Persona Users and brought his hand up in gesture to follow him. The members of S.E.E.S walked out of the office with him and proceeded down the stairs of the cathedral. Alexine turned to her father and bluntly stated, "I do not want to see you anywhere near the pub or any other alcoholic drinks for today. Understood?"
Fenrir merely crossed his arms and mumbled, "I thought I was the parent here..."
The blonde man sighed, "Understood."
With a satisfied nod Alexine exited out of the room.
Fenrir got back in his chair and ruffled his hair. "What to do now?" he asked himself.
Suddenly the telephone on the desk gave out a vibrating ring. Fenrir answered it and talked into it. "Praetor Fenrir of Quelas City, how can I help you?" he asked in a bored tone. As the voice on the other side of the phone talked his expression lit up. "Ah! There you are, sir! Yes... yes, your new line of suits should be ready within the week. You can pick it up by Wednesday... I got them exactly as you always want them, dark purple silk with the yellow tie. I have to ask, why the blue dress?... I see... alright. I never let a regular down Mr. Cyphre. Thanks for your purchase." He put the phone down.
Hitotsu lead S.E.E.S into a vast room that seemed to be a forge. An anvil and furnace were at the back as in the middle were tables laid with tools and hammers. At the sides of the room racks and shelves held what seemed to be weapons of all kinds. Swords, knight armour, knives, rifles, spears, handguns were hung and stored all around the room. Red light from the furnace lit up the room dimly.
Miwa looked around the room nervously stepped away from the three pronged spear leaning on the side of a metal shelf. "Yikes..." she said as she eyes the tip.
"This place is kinda- Oof!" Yuuta began to say but then Maiko rushed past him, knocked him over and went over to all the shelves in haste.
"Oh my goodness!" she squealed, her eyes gleaming over the guns and weapons in front of her. "That's a TAR-21 assault rifle with magazine extensions and holographic sight! And an Intervention sniper rifle! And I think it's got a thermal sight! And- That's a M4A1! With extended magazines and a red dot sight!"
Yuuta got up while the junior division of S.E.E.S looked at Maiko surprised and bewildered by her behaviour. The girl looked like she hadn't had a care in the world except for the weapons. "I haven't seen a girl on a shopping spree with that much bounce," Yuuta mumbled.
"I guess Maiko had a shopping fetish somewhere," Nanako enthusiastically commented, "Maiko may be as tough as a boy but she's still a girl at heart."
Yuuta wasn't exactly thrilled. "What kind of girl shops for guns and knives?"
Before Maiko could look at anymore of the weapons Hitotsu grabbed her shoulder. "Okay, slow down miss," he told with a chuckle, "I appreciate the enthusiasm for my work but I need you to relax so you guys can get one, alright?"
Maiko breathed in and out calmly, though the gleam in her eyes and smile didn't waver.
Hitotsu curled his hand at the junior division of S.E.E.S to come to him. The five teenagers walked over to the front of the table as Hitotsu leaned on the table. "As a token of my appreciation, I'll give you guys some guns for your training. But you'll only get five and they'll be of my choice."
"What?" Yuuta cried annoyed, "Only five? Wasn't getting you back to the side of the good guys worth much?"
"I have to make living, kid," Hitotsu retorted, "Not that I don't appreciate what you did for me, don't forget you also beat the crap out of me in the process. I'm still feeling some shrapnel and grains of rock in my back. Not to mention these weapons are expensive, so since you're getting some for free I don't think you should be complaining. Any other weapons you want will have to be from your own pocket."
With a swipe of his arm across the table Hitotsu pushed the tools and hammers off onto the floor with clangs and bangs. Then he went around the room and picked up weapons from the racks and shelves. When he returned to the table he spread the firearms across it and stepped back to reveal them. "Take your pick, because the one you'll get will be the one you're training with."
The Nanako and her friends looked over the table's contents. Laid out on the table was an assault rifle with a ringed barrel, a sniper rifle with a square tip at the end of the barrel, a shotgun with a crooked armrest and pump, a small submachine gun and finally a pistol and grenade set. Nanako looked a little uneasily at the weapons but then kept her cool and turned to Maiko. "Maiko, you're an expert in firearms, can you tell me what these are? Maybe tell me which one I should take." she asked.
Maiko nodded cheerfully, picked up the assault rifle and held it ready. "This is a M4A1 assault rifle, an automatic with good mid to long range firepower. Easy to hold and has little recoil, I think this one's good for you Nanako." She handed Nanako the rifle and her friend took it nervously. "Oh, don't worry Nanako, there isn't a magazine." Nanako gave Maiko a puzzled look and Maiko continued explaining, "That means it doesn't have any ammunition." Nanako then looked a little more confident holding it.
Maiko went on by taking up the shotgun, "A SPAS-12 shotgun, pump action and has better range than most other shotguns. But it's still best at close range demolishing. Reiji, you should be good with this." The passed to the green haired teenager and he took it with great care.
She then took up the submachine gun. "The UMP45 is a rapid fire weapon and though it may not have as much control as a M4A1 rifle, it makes up for it at close to mid range combat. Miwa, you're pretty good at long range with Hippolyta's ice spells but you might want this in case someone attacks you from up close." Miwa was nervous like a wreck as she took the UMP45 from Maiko. Her hands were still shaking.
Yuuta stepped forward and took the sniper rifle. "I guess that leaves me with this-!"
The sniper rifle fired a round as Yuuta had accidently pulled the trigger in excitement. The bullet went past Hitotsu as he jumped to the side and smashed a sword in the corner. Hitotsu held and waved his fist at Yuuta. "You're paying for that one!"
Maiko quickly took back the sniper rifle from Yuuta and took out the magazine. "This," she slowly began as Yuuta backed away from the weapon, "Is a Barrett .50cal sniper rifle. A long range weapon and semi-automatic with good firepower with every bullet. And I'll be using this."
Yuuta then looked to the pistol and grenade on the table. He picked them up and dully said, "I guess that leaves with this..."
"A grenade will be better than a sniper rifle in some situations Yuuta, "Maiko explained, "And a USP .45 handgun isn't that bad."
Yuuta dejectedly sighed.
Nanako held her new weapon ready, with her hand on the barrel rest and the other hand holding the handle with her trigger finger away from the trigger. She looked to the others and saw that they inspecting their new weapons and holding them accordingly. They gave each a look in the eye and nodded at each other and Nanako turned to Hitotsu. "Thank you," she said to the blacksmith.
Hitotsu shook his head. "You guys brought me back home, this is the least I can do. I'll give you smoke grenades and concussive rounds for your stash, I know you guys don't like killing."
Nanako bowed in thanks and turned to her friends. "Let's get going! Fenrir promised to train us and we're not backing down are we?"
Yuuta gave a thumb up. "Like I'd back down from that guy!"
Reiji handled his new shotgun. "You didn't even need to ask."
Miwa smiled at her best friend. "I'm with you guys all the way."
Maiko placed her sniper rifle in her pisyx and nodded to Nanako. "We still have a long way to go."
Nanako smiled at every one of them and they all set off. Hitotsu was still leaning on the wall as they walked out and smiled. "Youngsters, they have no idea what Lord Fenrir has in store for them."
Aaannd it's time for Author's recommendations! For those who love Person4 a couple of stories here should be great to read!
Persona 4: Reach out to the truth, by El-Poofy, this is a retelling of Persona 4 with potential.
Working!, by College Fool, a funny fanfic of how Yosuke and the others try to help Souji. Key word, try.
Persona IV, by GerbilsRival, a combination of my two favorite games Persona 4 and Final Fantasy. This one's good.
Next Chapter forecast: Nanako and the others have new equipment and new weapons, but can Fenrir really make them stronger in three days? Especially since the deadline for the preliminaries draws closer and closer? Find out in the next chapter!
And as always, Read and Review, I want feedback bbbbaaaaddddlllllyyyy.