A/N: Alright. So anyone who still pays attention to this story probably saw this coming a mile away. As of this moment, Persona 4: Face Every Shadow is abandoned. After many attempts to keep it going despite my abject lack of will to write it, after bringing on someone I now consider an (admittedly spacy) friend to finish it for me, I have to admit this story will never see its proper ending. I had a solid plan and outline for how the rest of the story would unfold. I knew what characters would get together, how, what characters from other series would appear, what plot twists would occur and what divergences from canon would happen and why. And you know what I discovered?
Writing a story you've already told in your own mind is boring. At least for me.
It's why I took up writing more organic stories where I didn't really have a plan for the long run. Reapersona and Fate Butterfly (also abandoned, surprise surprise) were some rough spots in developing that style but I think I came out better for it. And I now know writing a very strict and defined plotline is something I'm just not comfortable with. I need to know that the characters can run away from me. I need to have the freedom to change the plot's outcome because the characters demand it. And there is the greater flaw in this story's concept. It's not my story. I had to stick to the framework that Samjaz left me with. And on several occasions that caused problems. Of specific note is Yosuke who I wanted to be something of Seta's closest confidant. But couldn't because Samjaz specifically stated in his sequel that Yosuke was missing some key facts about the world the characters inhabit. I couldn't move the characters forward in a way I thought they would or should and it got harder and harder to push onward in a direction I didn't want to go.
So let's reflect real quick. How could this situation have been resolved? Honestly I don't think it could without Samjaz bending over backwards to accommodate my every whim (which would be massively unfair to him). If Samjaz hadn't posted For Every Soul at all and gave me complete freedom this may have gone further. There's no way to know and I won't ask him to remove his work even seemingly abandoned as it is to find out. This fic has more or less just become an albatross around my neck that I heft around every time I think about writing. "You should write more FES. You haven't posted a chapter in months. What are you even doing? You have the whole thing planned, just type!" But I could never bring myself to.
So here we are. I'm cutting the cord. Writing this fic has been a great experience for both the highs and lows. I want to thank everyone who stuck with it even when it took me months to post chapters. I want to thank Sgt Baker/The Name's The Same/Ethan for trying to continue this when I couldn't. And for being so understanding when I put my foot down on certain things he wanted to include. I want to thank Dhaos, Have a Little Feith and Slicerness for acting as betas. I want to thank the people who reviewed whether positive, negative or stupid. And I want to thank Samjaz for saying go ahead and do this. If he had said no, I don't think I ever would have started writing and I wouldn't have met so many cool people from participating on this site.
Now, as I said, I did have a plan for how the rest of the plot would go so I won't leave you hanging. From here on I'll be giving all of the details I can remember for what was going to happen in the rest of the story. So... Spoilers, I guess?
Alright. So the last chapter was the camping trip. During and after that, the plan was to power through the Chariot social link as quickly as possible so Chie and Seta would get together. Chie's nature being cautious before randomly deciding to jump in head first, they'd end up sleeping together not long after. After allusions to a pregnancy scare that wouldn't be outright stated and Seta would be blissfully unaware of (and wouldn't come to anything), the Rise arc would begin.
Seta would be doing his level best not to fanboy over her considering he has a girlfriend. The stakeout would play out somewhat the same with Adachi pushing buttons to make it so. However, it would also be the start of the World Arcana social link with Adachi. Seta would assume it was because he already had the hanged man social link (the arcana Adachi is masquerading as).
So the Rise dungeon would play out similarly but with one major difference. At one point Rise's shadow would pull some lotus eater machine shenanigans (like the Lovers battle from P3) and successfully seduce Seta. Partially mind control, partially Seta really wanting it and being a selfish dickhole. Naturally Rise's shadow would bring this up at the worst possible moment in the final fight to make things worse.
Teddie's role would come to light here for people who didn't read Fairly English. Teddie is the shadow of Lucifer who rejects him at this point to give Teddie a power boost and turn the tide of the battle. Standard Teddie boss fight. Moving on.
Fallout from that incident would take some time to get past. Seta and Rise would be on one side, Chie and Yukiko on the other (Yukiko more than happy to be a convenient rebound, if unaware of that status) while Yosuke and Kanji were stuck in the middle playing mediator. Eventually Seta and Chie would have a real conversation about it and clear the air. They wouldn't be close again for the rest of the story but they would come to a mutual understanding.
Before the cutoff date for the Rise arc (when Morooka gets killed), Naoto decides she's had enough of Seta playing coy and messing her about and decides to test her theory far earlier than in canon, making it a rush to get her out in time. So we have a full party in time for the Mitsuo arc.
The Mitsuo arc would have no mystery. The team would figure it out almost immediately because of what they already figured out. But still a person was trapped in TV land so they go in to save the day. Mitsuo's dungeon setting was changed to Minecraft. I planned to have lots of fun with that. Shame.
After that we have a big ol' open space because Naoto is already onside. Mostly this would focus on social linking. Rise's would finish and she and Seta would sleep together. Rise's choice. She has an unusually open attitude to sex with how she grew up in showbiz (uncomfortable details about that would be part of her arc, nothing sickening but certainly skeevy). But she still wanted her first time to be with someone who genuinely cared about her as a person and not just as an idol. That's all it would amount to.
Then Naoto's social link would begin proper. And that was going to be a long and complicated Death Note like story where Naoto is trying to find out the truth behind her brother's death and Seta is supposedly trying to help while subtly guiding her down false paths. Eventually things would come to a head when the two speak with her grandfather and some truths get revealed to her. Specifically that Minato was like her or more specifically like Seta and that he died in a fight much like theirs. Privately with Seta he reveals he knows far more than that and asks Seta to keep Naoto away from the knowledge of what Minato has become.
Eventually that social link would finish with the two of them getting together. But it would take a WHILE.
Then we have Namatame's arc. Naturally the dumber plotholes would be filled. Dojima would find out the truth at home with proof so no trip to the police station. Instead, the family would go to dinner at a restaurant so Seta and Dojima could have a long private conversation while Nanako could be distracted by a nearby game machine. Naturally a panicking Namatame followed them and grabs Nanako when he thinks everyone is distracted. He was wrong. Dojima notices and tries to stop him but fails. Seta finding out what happened after the fact chases Namatame down directly, diving into his TV head first. Having watched it happen, Dojima immediately calls Adachi to get the Hanamura's contact details. The Namatame boss fight would include one of the very few uses of Seta's Wild Shift. Specifically as Black Frost.
The bad end moment doesn't go as it does in canon. There is an element added in that Seta spots an arcana number with no attached person in the room. Had he not seen it, he would absolutely have ended Namatame's life. The number was 8. This was a plot element added by Samjaz and he didn't explain it to me.
Minato's intervention saves Nanako's life at the hospital. Because leaving it entirely unexplained pissed me off. I don't truck with miracles, ta.
Then we have the Adachi arc. Seta's social link for World sits at 8 at this point. When it all goes down Adachi doesn't run. He blows his way through everyone, revealing his Wild Card in the process and basically says 'if you want me, come and get me'. In the first confrontation he talks about how he knew Minato back in the day. Naoto assumes it was him that killed Minato which Adachi just shrugs off, saying he might have shot the guy a few times but the bastard was too stubborn to just die. All in good fun and all that. "But then I just wasn't on his level in the end. Neither of us are, are we, Souji-san?"
The initial boss fight is the same as canon. Adachi is shitty. Then Ameno-Sagiri shows up and gets offed and Adachi is back to showing his full capabilities, saying he'll go quietly on one condition. A one-on-one between himself and Seta not to see who is the strongest wild card but who takes a respectable second place. Winner completes the social link, Adachi revealing that every time Seta ranked up, so did he. Seta wins. Barely. Rank 9. Rank 10 is unlocked with Adachi's note for the true ending.
At this point we would diverge to the end of Seta's personal bullshit with his dad. In late February he is called to Tokyo by his dad for something. Then the Devil Survivor plot starts. Seta being something of a big shot at this point but still something of an outsider for the conflict stays on the sidelines. Stepping in occasionally to give advice to the protagonist of that game, having some experience with weird pseudo 'chosen one' circumstances. At the very end he reveals that the lancer of that game (I forget his name) was actually a plant by the Tamashi organisation to get some control of events. And that his prompting to spread the demon controlling technology to government agencies is actually to get it all handed over to Tamashi's hands. He also points out that of all of the protagonist's companions the most honest has been the girl who wanted to run away.
So we move on to the final fight. The true ending with Seta steamrolling the place with Izanagi-no-Okami and other top tier persona. The boss fight goes mostly the same until the auto fail sequence. At which point events diverge a bit. Seta never got the truth orb thing because even all throughout the game even as they were solving the case, Seta was still wading through fog trying to find the right path but never succeeding. He gets reminders of all of his social links but it isn't effective because many of them were just a means to an end and he never really cared. Instead, his shadow, his real shadow appears with his aspects in tow. Through a long conversation (possibly over multiple chapters) Seta comes to grips with who he really is. Selfish, conniving, willing to do the right thing if it doesn't go against his interests. He can (and did) kill hundreds for the sake of keeping himself and the few people he cares about safe. Even devouring demons stopped bothering him long ago. Every circumstance no matter how outlandish has been something he has taken and used to reach greater heights. The one thing that has been at the core of his being, as the wild card, as the Zero Soul... Seta Souji is adaptable. He can be and is whatever he needs to be if it's for the sake of Seta Souji.
He doesn't get his true persona from accepting his shadow. Instead its power is incorporated into his own form, making his shifting abilities more powerful and giving him more control to the point where even with a Wild Shift he has equal power to the demon he is invoking. Still, he stays silent as the true Izanagi says a final goodbye to what remains of his love.
When leaving Inaba Seta confides that he will see everyone again in three months once he has settled the affairs of his suddenly and tragically deceased parents. That they would die wasn't in question. Who killed them was though. I wanted Seta to do it; Minato warning him not to but being ignored. Samjaz wanted similar, but with Minato beating him to the punch for crimes entirely unrelated to Seta. So who knows.
Samjaz also suggested on the train ride Mitsuru would invite him to join Tamashi. My suggestion for Seta's reaction after everything he's seen and done? 'Hell No'.
And that's pretty much it. If anyone wants to ask questions on anything specific let me know and I'll rack my brain for answers. I did have more than this but the ideas have dripped through my sieve-like brain and reside somewhere near my cheekbones right now.
… That was a weird extended metaphor that had no purpose.
Final thing. It wouldn't be an update from me if I didn't plug my podcast. The Fandom Flux podcast now releasing weekly on Youtube starring me, Slicerness, KingofZeroX and Kenchi618. Also, we have some Let's Plays of Worms that are pretty entertaining with more similar content upcoming when we get chance to record.
So... This is it then. I suppose there's only a couple things to say. I wish this story and everyone who read it a fond farewell and as always...
Thanks for reading.