AN: Will be re-edited later when I get my stolen PSP back. _

Chapter 18: Death


1/31/10

Today…Today is the final battle…well. I might as well head to the Velvet Room first.

Velvet Room…

As soon as I entered the room Igor looked me over.

"Well, well…it seems that you've discovered each of the social links, and formed strong bonds with them all. In order to have gotten on so well, with so many different people…you must have worn many faces…perhaps you'll find this useful, since you seem to be able to adopt any sort of face. A cipher like you…should have this." Huh? A strangely clear mask falls into my hand. What the hell? "With it, you'll be able to summon…that Persona…" That Persona? What does that mean? "I'm interested to see what kind of Persona results from this…I'll be looking forward to it." he chuckles.

…Right very creepy.

I leave quickly because frankly I can't afford to summon Orpheus Telos. I hope he's not important.

[No not so much…he's within you anyway.]

I nearly jump.

Damn it Messiah! Go away!

[I-]

GO AWAY!

A slight, resigned sigh before silence. Damn Personas.

I finish shopping before heading back to the dorm.

Dorm, Command Room…

Urgh. It's like a damn funeral in here.

"Alright…This will probably be the last time we meet like this. …Is everyone ready?" Mitsuru looks around the room at all of us.

"…U-Um, can I say something?" Yukari looks uncertain as she speaks. "I know that we have to defeat Nyx…but if you think about it, that means we'll be getting rid of the Dark Hour…" …yeah. Sort of the whole point. "Ryoji-kun said before that if he dies, our memories will disappear too. So if we defeat Nyx…we might not remember any of this."

Fantastic. So if we save the world we get amnesia for our troubles.

"Our memories…" Fuuka frowns.

"True…our memories regarding the Dark Hour and our Personas…They…may disappear." I doubt there's a may about it Mitsuru.

"But, even if that happens…I want you all to know, I won't forget you!" Yukari… "Even if it robs us of all of our memories together…I will still remember you all!"

Junpei laughs. "We know you will, Yuka-tan!"

"I won't forget." I won't…I refuse to forget them.

"I won't forget you, either!" Fuuka nods in agreement.

"Neither will I!" Ken…

"I will always remember you Yukari."

Mitsuru gives Yukari a soft look. "Don't worry, even if you do forget about us, I'll remind you."

"…Yeah, so don't worry about it." Akihiko gives Yukari a small encouraging smile.

"Oh, I'm so glad to hear that." Yukari giggles.

"Okay! Then after the battle, no matter what happens, let's promise to meet each other again!" A promise Junpei?

"Good idea! But, where should we meet?" …And he's dragged Ken into it.

"I don't think it should be the dorm…we'll come back here anyways if all goes well…hey, shouldn't we also decide on when we'll meet?"

"Yeah, it should be a special day…" Akihiko looks thoughtful.

"What about Graduation Day?" …And how Yukari is that special to the six of us that aren't graduating? "When the Dark Hour vanishes, our memories might not disappear right away. So, we shouldn't plan to meet too soon after the battle. And there's no day that will have more significance to us all." …I can think of five days that'll have more significance to me.

"Wow…You're really smart, Yukari-san!" …Sure she is Ken. "Graduation Day…! Yes, that will be easy to remember."

"Yeah, that's probably our best bet…Graduation Day it is! Now, where should we meet?" Junpei looks around for suggestions.

"It should be somewhere where it's easy to recognize that peace has returned to the city." Trust Mitsuru to come up with that.

"Someplace with a good view, then? Um…" Ken thinks for a moment.

"…Oh, how about the school's roof?" Fuuka adds.

"Ooh, good idea!" Junpei grins. "Alright, the roof it is!"

"And when we meet again…we should remember how we're feeling right now…" Mitsuru you want me to remember feeling scared and slightly exasperated? "That no matter what may happen, we will never look back…"

"…I agree." Huh. Mitsuru and Yukari agreeing on something. Koromaru barks happily.

Mitsuru laughs. "Sorry, but you'll just have to wait." she turns to me. "We should get going. The Dark Hour will be here soon." She looks completely calm about this.

"Let's get going." I turn towards the door.

"Yeah!" Yukari nods.

"Together." Fuuka…

"…I shall fight by your side." Aeon..

"Good, cuz I'm counting on ya!" Junpei gives Aeon a warm smirk.

"…This is going to be easy." And thanks for jinxing us Akihiko.

"…Yes it is." Damn it Mitsuru! Why did you add to it?

"Alright. Everyone get their equipment…and let's head out." I grabbed my own equipment and gave the best armor to Aeon, Akihiko and Ken.

Tartarus…

"Here we are…" I mutter. "For the last time…one way or another."

"Indeed. We shall prevail." Mitsuru walks up to me.

"…Yeah."

"Nyx cannot be defeated. We you fight her you will understand this truth."

"Well…let's get going." A quick chorus of nods. "Mitsuru you take the second group, I'll take the first as usual."

255th floor

"I'll scan the upcoming floors…" Fuuka speaks to us. "Ah!" Hm? What's the gasping for? "I sense something powerful on the 258th floor!" …I swear to god if there are more Shadows… "…Huh? But…it's not a Shadow!" …so what is it? "It's Strega!" …I can't help but smirk. I get to kick ass now? Awesome! "I knew they'd be here…please be careful." Pfft. Like those wimps are something to fear. As we walk to the next floor the Shadows run from us in fear. Huh…I didn't know we had improved that much…

On the next floor Fuuka contacts us again. "The only thing I sense on the 258th floor is one of the members of Strega. I'm not sure which one it is, but keep your guard up…"5

258th floor…

…It's Jin.

"So, you came after all…" Yeah we're going to kick you and your boyfriend's asses.

"You…? Where's your partner?" Akihiko glares as he speaks. …Speaking of Takaya…

"Takaya went on ahead of me. He's destined for greater things."

"Ah…how romantic." I cooed. Jin simply looks over all of us.

"It looks like you're serious about fighting Nyx."

"How do you know about Nyx…?" Fuuka questions. …I am wondering about that.

"I pierced together the information Ikutsuki left behind. But, not all of it made sense…he was a real nut job." …and you're later to the party than Mitsuru's dad was.

"Did you know Ikutsuki?" Yukari looks surprised.

"We were surprised to find out he was your boss. We really only knew his name…he was just one of the researchers who created us." Researchers? Created?

"He "created" you?" Mitsuru's brow furrows.

"What the hell are you?" I snap.

Jin laughs bitterly. "There's no use in telling you…the end is near."

"Move aside." I place one hand on my sword and glare at him. "We need to pass."

"I can't. There's no way you'll be able to stop Nyx…but, I can't let you interfere with Takaya's wish."

"You realize there's nothing stopping us from killing you right? Besides, if Nyx isn't stopped you're dooming the entire world! If you want to be a emo bastard and kill yourself go the hell ahead, I could care less. But you're not dragging the world into your shit!"

He just laughs. "Why not? The world didn't care about what happened to us. Besides we won't live much longer…and we want to see the end of the world before we die. That is Takaya's wish…so I'm not backing down."

"Over my dead body!" I take out my sword and lunge at him.

"Minako!"

"Arisato!"

Damn! He blocked it! Though to my immense satisfaction the bastard looks a little off guard.

"Fine then." I threw myself back just in time when he threw a flash bomb in my face.

"Argh!" Shit! I can't see! "Damn! Aeon, cover me! I'm blinded!"

"Take-ugh!" There's a loud crash. "Damn all of you! You've covered up your weaknesses!" No. "Are you too afraid to face them?"

"You wish! We've have faced them! And prevailed over them! PERSONA!" I can't see but I use a Mind Charge on myself. "Aeon! Boost our attack! Akihiko, lower that bastards defense!"

"This is over!"

Hm? Did he just do something?

"I"ll kill him!" Akihiko snarls.

Fabulous. They're all enraged. "NORN!" I use Panta Rhei I still can't see but…

"Damnit…! I lost to these amateurs again!" there's a thump of something hitting the ground. Yes! It hit! The others then jump on him and start beating the living crap out of him.

"Calm-Calm down all of you!" Mitsuru sounds stunned but Jin just ends up screaming helplessly as they continue to pummel him. There's the sound of bones breaking. "Takeba! Do something!"

"Uh…PERSONA!" My vision returns to normal and Jin is on the ground several ugly bruises all over his body. He's on the ground and…are his legs broken? Damn. They did a number on him.

He coughs. "No…I failed…" he looks up at the bewildered Aeon, Akihiko and Ken surrounding him. They look at the blood on their hands in horror. "What're you waiting for…? Finish me off! I would do anything for Takaya."

Akihiko blinks as if waking from a dream. "Why are you so loyal to him?"

Jin laughs bitterly. "You wouldn't understand." …And yet again with the emo act. Why those two couldn't stick to cutting themselves in private I'll never understand. "Takaya showed me the light when I was in the darkness…It was a long time ago…" Oh great should I get out a violin? "In order to better understand the Dark Hour…Kirijo rounded up kids that were living on the streets, and gave them special powers…so they could investigate Tartarus."

"What?" …I suppose this is the first time Mitsuru's heard of it too then.

"But, when that power doesn't emerge naturally, it's difficult to control." …Huh. Explains the whole "different from us" spiel. "So the kids had to take experimental medication so their powers wouldn't kill them. Only three kids out of the original hundred survived, and after six months, the experiment was cancelled." …You know…if he and Takaya hadn't been attacking us I might actually feel bad for him right now. As it is…

"Then, those three were…" Fuuka trailed off.

"You all suffered at the hands of Kirijo…" Mitsuru gives Jin a pitying look. …Are they fucking kidding me? Have they forgotten these bastards are trying to KILL us?

"Takaya saved me from it all…he said, "don't let the past control you, and don't look to the future; simply live in the moment…"." What a self-destructive philosophy. Besides the past always controlled them. They were obsessed with doing to others what had been done to them. Selfish pricks. "To be honest, I don't even care about Kirijo anymore. But, Takaya's wish…must be…fulfilled…!"

"Not happening." I doubt he can get anywhere on those legs so I turn to leave. "Let's get going-"

"Huh?" Yukari's staring as if horrified at something behind me.

"What?" Damn! The Shadows! They're surrounding us!

Akihiko sucks his teeth. "We were here too long!"

"Let's move! Now!"

"But…we can't…" What the fuck Junpei? Why the hell are you trying to save the people that would have killed you?

"You idiots! I don't want your pity!"

"Whatever. I'm going. We don't have time for this. Nyx'll be here soon." I turn and head upstairs. Mitsuru is right behind me, with Ken and Koromaru close behind. It wasn't long before the others appeared. No sooner than I see Aeon than is there an explosion from below. …Did he kill himself?

"Hey…was that…?" Junpei turns.

"Stop! We don't have time!" I turn. "He choose his fate. Now…we have to do what we came here for."

"All…Alright."

"Hang on. I'll scan ahead…! I sense another human on the 262nd floor!" Oh great. Takaya. "It's Strega again. It must be that guy Takaya. This is it….be very careful."

"Understood."

Tartarus, Top Floor…

And there he is.

"Is the top of Tartarus past here?" Akihiko asks Takaya. Uh…what the hell are you asking him for Akihiko? Takaya's leaning against the pillar casually. Honestly if we really wanted we could run right past him…but the snake would probably shoot us in the back.

"Indeed."

"Then, let us through." Huh? He's not exactly in the way Akihiko…

"I am not standing in your way." he looks us over. "I take it you have defeated Jin…you are quite troublesome…"

"Yeah your little boy toy decided to blow himself to bits." I hear a sharp intake of breath behind me and Takaya shrugs. Huh. Guess Takaya doesn't actually give a shit.

"I wonder…what is it that you seek? These are your final moments…The end is nigh."

I take out my sword. "The only thing that's "nigh" is us kicking your ass. Again."

"You're merely wasting your energy. Why not celebrate this wonderful moment?" he smirks. Ugh. This snake thinks he's won? "What better way could you spend your final moments together?"

"Enough." I'm not sure how but I manage to charge him and stab him in one fluid sweep. There's a chorus of gasps behind me and I see the shock in Takaya's own eyes. Huh. I guess the smug snake let his guard down.

"Urgh!" I feel a strange detachment as I forcibly withdraw the weapon and look down at him as he sinks to the ground. There is a blank look of shock on his face before it turns into a grin. He looks up at me chuckling with a smile on his face. "To fall…to someone like you?"

Akihiko looks down at him silently.

"There is nothing more I can do…now…finish me."

"Gladly!" I hold the sword up for another blow.

"Minako!" Aeon? What the hell-! "…Are you not the least bit afraid?"

"…What a peculiar question." Takaya gives Aeon a smirk. "You know nothing of death, if you think that it is something to fear…"

"Hm?"

"You fear it, because you do not understand it…"

"Humans…always with their ridiculous fear of death. I never understood it myself. With so much suffering in the world…one would think you all would see it as a reprieve."

"…I will not explain to you any further." Jackass.

"Keep your secrets then." I snarl. "You're stupid wish isn't coming true anyway!" …Urgh. How corny.

Aeon just looks down at Takaya with a strangely contemplative expression.

"There's no honor in taking the life of someone who can't move." Mitsuru gives me a look as she says this. Goddamn it Mitsuru! "You will live to see if what you wished for comes true or not." Why should this bastard live? After killing Shinji? After trying to kill Junpei and Ken?

"What? We're just going to let this bastard go?" I snap at her.

"Sometimes the worst punishment for an enemy is to force him to watch as you destroy everything he's built. Not simply take away his life." Aeon speaks gently. "Besides. He wishes for death. Why grant him his wish? Let him live. Let him live and suffer knowing that all his dreams, all his planning, came to naught."

Damn it….I look down at Takaya before backing away. "If he gets up…"

"Lie there and repent for what you've done." Junpei looks down at Takaya as well. Repent huh?

Takaya laughs. "You are all so odd…" I would've killed you if they weren't here…you bastard.

"Let's…let's get going. Nyx is waiting." I give him a final glare before turning to the stairway. "Get yourselves equipped and hurry the hell up." I can't believe I'm letting that bastard live!

Tartarus' Peak…

"Here we are…" I look up at the moon. Huh. It's glowing as brightly and eerily as always…almost…as though something…

"Hey, look at the sky!" Yukari points up and what? What is that? Why is the moon? "The moon's…warped…?" No…it's not the moon…

"Something's coming!" …And again Fuuka will you ever not state the obvious?

"Is it Nyx?" …No Akihiko it's the welcoming brigade. What else could this ominous presence be?

"I can sense it even without my Persona. This is the first time that's ever happened."

"You…" Aeon looks up as the creature lands.

…Ryoji? No…it's…him…but it's not….

"Huh? Ryoji-kun?" Yukari's seems to recognized him as well.

"That was my name for a time…" Ryoji's voice seems to have this cold echo to it. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up it sounds ancient…powerful and very frightening. "I didn't mind it."

"So…you're Nyx?" I stare at him. I'm supposed to kill Ryoji?

The Avatar frowns slightly. "I am merely a harbinger of the Fall…though it would be more correct to say that is what I once was. There is no longer a distinction to be made between Nyx and myself…" …So is that a yes or what?

"Is that so…? Well regardless," Akihiko takes a fighting posture. "I don't regret my decision. I'll defeat you, no matter what you are!"

"I see…Then, you must already know. What people fear most…what they try to ignore…that is what I am."

The Death Arcana. …Ryoji is death itself…

"We know that already." Ken takes out his spear.

"Yeah…everyone does." Akihiko steps forward.

"It's the one certainty for all living things…" Mitsuru takes out her own weapons.

Ryoji looks over us all. "Then you must also understand that it is futile to resist. Will you still face me? There must be trembling in your hearts…"

…I am scared…but…I didn't run away before. So I'm not going to start now!

"Yeah, of course I'm scared…but who cares about that right now? I got too much to live for!" Junpei picks up his weapon as well.

"I'm not gonna live in fear anymore! Being really alive means not turning away from death…so I won't turn and cower," she loads her bow "not even to you!"

"I will stop you! Even if I must be destroyed in the process! That is my will!"

"…I see." He sounds…sad.

"Ryoji…I'm going to stop you. Here and now." I'm determined but…I look up at him. "I won't let the fall happen. No matter what."

"Come to me, Minako…" His black wings flutter once creating a wind strong enough to knock me back a few steps. Shit! He did that so easily?

"Get ready, everyone! Nyx…she's coming!" …And Fuuka is once again here to state the motherfucking obvious. "I'm also sensing multiple Shadows approaching from the lower floors!" …You've gots to be shitting me!

"We need a standby team to intercept those Shadows! This is the final battle…failure is not an option!"

"Mitsuru we'll split into the two groups like before!"

"Understood!"

"The moment man devoured the fruit of knowledge, he sealed his fate…entrusting his future to the cards, man clings to a dim hope. Yes, the Arcana is the means by which all is revealed. Attaining one's dream requires a stern will and unfailing determination. Eternity awaits!" He floats up and glows brightly.

Damn…most of his attacks are Fire based…wait…the magician Arcana?"

"ZIODYNE!" Akihiko hits Ryoji but it doesn't seem to affect him overmuch. He has no weakness but between my mind charage and Akihiko's defense lower spell I manage to land a devastating blow. Ryoji slumps before straightening up again and looking up at the sky.

What the fuck just happened? It's like he completely healed himself!

"His resistances have changed!" What Fuuka?

"Nyx's Arcana changed to the Magician! Be careful! I'll scan him again!"

I manage to hit him with another Panta Rhei.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…." AGAIN? Oh come on! "The silent voice within one's heart whispers the most profound wisdom. Eternity awaits." He glows again. Again Akihiko and I work together to take him out. Ryoji lands a blow but it doesn't do any damage Ken can't heal.

"Fuuka!"

"Scanning!"

…This is going to get really annoying really quickly. Fortunately his hits are rather weak so there's nothing to worry about. Huh. So much for being unbeatable.

Another Panta Rhei.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…celebrate life's grandeur…its brilliance…it's magnificence."

"Something about Nyx keeps changing!" …Oh you can't be that dense Fuuka. You just can't. I use another Mind Charge.

"The Aracana is the means by which all is revealed…Only courage in the face of doubt can lead one to the answer…eternity awaits."

Urgh. How many times am I going to have to do this! Another slump before he recovers again.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…It is indeed a precious gift to understand the forces that guide oneself…eternity awaits."

More healing and mind charging, at this rate will we be able to defeat him before the Dark Hour is over?

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…There is both joy and wonder in coming to understand another…eternity awaits."

Again…urgh.I begin to pant in exhaustion. I can't take much more of this…

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…One of life's greatest pleasures is the freedom to pursue one's goals…eternity awaits."

Damn it…damn it! I pant Ken uses one of the Somas.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…To find the one true path, one must seek guidance amidst uncertainty…eternity awaits."

…Ngh…almost mindlessly I keep attacking. …He has to…fall.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…It requires great courage to look at oneself honestly, and forge one's own path…eternity awaits."

…I…can't stop…

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…alongside time exists fate, the bearer of cruelty." …He sounds sad when he says this. "Eternity awaits."

No matter what…I can't.

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…only with strength can one endure suffering and torment. Eternity Awaits."

I manage to dodge one of Ryoji's swings. This…this…will there be no end?

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…in the face of disaster lies opportunity for renewal. Eternity Awaits."

Again we manage to win though everyone pants in exhaustion. We can't take much more of this.

"The moment man devoured the fruit of knowledge, he sealed his fate…" What no Arcana? "Entrusting his future to the cards, man clings to a dim hope. Yet, the Arcana is the means by which all is revealed…beyond the beaten path lies the absolute end. It matters not who you are…Death awaits you. Eternity awaits."

Ryoji glows and spreads his hands out wide as he looks towards the moon. His wings beat furiously and the wind forces me to step back several feet.

"I sense…Death! Nyx's true Arcana is Death!" …Fuuka…are you special? Everyone else figured that…a while ago.

"You cannot avoid death. To live is to die; they are one in the same…It's useless." What's that strange shimmer?

I start forward.

"W-Wait!" Huh? I stop. "Something's strange about Nyx…" Fuuka murmurs. "I have a bad feeling about this…it's definitely up to something! Have everyone hold their attacks! It's too dangerous right now!"

"What? Are we supposed to just let him beat the crap out of us and do nothing?" I gape at her it's bad enough we defeat him again and again but he keeps getting back up!

"His movement behind that…gown is limited! If he wants to use stronger attacks he'll have to cancel it! Just wait it out! Please!"

…Urgh.

"Let us finish this. It is the path of your choosing." AH! There's these boiling red balls everyone and I can't see! Both Ken and Aeon are running around in confusion.

I boost myself with a Mind Charge while Akihiko heals Ken who heals Aeon. Then in unison we all use our most powerful attacks at the same time. That causes Ryoji to collapse. …Is he getting back up? No?

"Was…was that it?" I pant in exhaustion. Oh come on! He can't be getting up again! Huh? He's floating? Towards the moon…

"Such a pity…you understand fate, yet you still fight against it with all of your will. If more people were like you, then perhaps the Fall could have been prevented…but it's too late now." He sounds so sad as he speaks.

…The moon is opening? What?

"Th-The moon…!" Fuuka stares at it in shock.

"What is that?" Yukari walks up beside me. The Shadows seem to have retreated for now.

"Ryoji-kun's being swallowed up by the moon…wait…no, that's not it! Is the moon getting closer?" …All I see is a giant fucking red eye staring at me.

"Wait just a second here…" Akihiko looks up at the moon with a dawning expression of horror. "Is the moon itself Nyx?" …That explains a lot actually.

"Soon…Nyx will soon descend to destroy us all." Aeon looks grim.

The tower bell begins ringing…what an ominous sound. You can't be telling me…we failed? Everything we did…was for nothing? I hear screaming…what the hell is going on?

Fuuka gasps as the very earth itself begins to shake as if in fear…or anticipation? "Something's coming from the moon!" What the hell was-

"Argh…!" Akihiko stumbles.

"What is this…? It's like something's crushing me…!" Ken struggles to remain upright. This pressure. Is so….so…urgh…this presence….

"Ngh…This is…nothing!" Yukari looks up at the moon a determined grimace on her face.

"Ha…haha…hahahahaha!" I turn around and there's that prick Takaya. He's laughing as he wraps his arm around his stomach. "How marvelous! I cannot believe the moment has finally arrived!" He's laying on the ground. The little snake must've crawled.

"You…!" Ken glares at him.

"Shuddup…you bastard!" …Junpei

If you fools had let me kill him…

"Death will be patient no longer…can't you see that? Why continue to struggle…?"

"Screw you! I'm not going to die here!" I snap at him.

"Neither will I. I will never falter! I won't surrender!" Aeon looks up at the moon but…his legs are shaking just like mine.

"Everything will disappear…" This psycho…I can't…I won't let his dream come true! "Jin…" he closes his eyes.

"Ugh…!" Ken trembles.

"Why…? What good will it do to rise up?" Ryoji…. "Give in…" I can't, I refuse to!

"NO!"

"Nuh-uh…I'm not backing down!" Junpei glares up defiantly at the moon.

"My mind's made up! I'm in this to the end!" Yukari's bow falls to the ground but she still stands. Another pulse and Ken falls with a groan.

"Ken! Argh!" Akihiko, Yukari and Fuuka all of them fall under the overwhelming presence.

"Dammit!" Junpei collapses.

"We've come this far…I refuse to submit!" Mitsuru screams before another pulse forces her to fall.

Hm? Why is everything…going dark? No…I can't….can't….

"Minako…!" I'm sorry…Akihiko.

"Minako!" Aeon…Mitsuru…all of you, I'm sorry.

Velvet Room…

Hm? I'm…alive? Or am I dead?

"There's no need to worry. This isn't the afterlife…you're still alive." Oh that's good. I was worried I was in hell for a second there. "Do you remember what I once told you…? How the strength of your Social Links will determine your potential?" Yeah…I remember. "Listen…Can you hear the many voices?"

"Voices?"

"Each one's power is limited…yet, they all reach out to you…can you feel them?"

"I don't feel anything-" No sooner do I mutter those words than warmth blossoms in my heart the same feeling…as when I receive an ultimate Persona.

"Close your eyes and listen carefully…their voices may be faint, but certainly you hear them."

Igor holds out his hands and an strange ball of energy gathers between them. Are these…the emotions from my social links?

"I know you're facing a difficult task…but, I truly believe that you can overcome any obstacle." Hidetoshi's voice…it's calm and warm and I feel stronger.

"Something frightful going on…but we won't give up." Bunkichi "That's right, dear…Minako-chan wouldn't want us to lose hope…" Mitsuko…

"I know in my heart, Minako-chan…you're doing all you can right now, aren't you? You always helped me out. Now it's my turn to help you." Saori…

"Minako…things are going crazy right now, and I'm scared…but I'll be all right. I can feel from here that you're doing your best…You have to believe…that you're not alone either." Rio…

"Everyone else is scared, but not me…you showed me how to be tough! I won't give up." Maiko…

"Minako-sama… 'ow are you doing? I 'ope you are okay…I am 'ere for you…like you were zere for me!" Bebe…

"What on earth made me think of you at a time like this…? Well, I suppose you did teach me a thing or two about loyalty." President Tanaka?

"You must be fightin' the good fight right about now…well, you taught me that runnin' away never solves nothin'… so I'm here for ya, kid." Mutatsu

"I know I'm not the only one who'se suffered…" Akinari… "You've endured a lot, too…but, you can't just give up…you taught me that."

"Can you hear them now?" I nod. "These are the voices of hope that wish to help you…separately, they are weak…but together, they will bring about a great change in you. Now is the time to draw on the true strength of the bonds you have forged!" The energy turns into…a Persona card? Igor looks stunned. Well…as stunned as Igor can look anyways. "I never dreamed of seeing that card with my own eyes…this is indeed a surprise. Behold! The last power you and I shall unveil. It is the power to bring about a new beginning, or the ultimate end. It may be possible now, with this newfound power…YOU may be able to defeat the one who cannot be defeated." Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron? "What you have in your hands is the power of the Universe. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility for you now."

The card floats into my hand and the warmth from my heart spreads everywhere. I feel…I feel so different. As though life itself is flowing through me…the very source of life. It's…such an odd feeling. I can…hear everything…I can see things…I know things that I should not possibly know…along with the only way to stop Nyx.

"We will soon reach your destination." Theo gives me a small sad smile. I think…he knows it too. Knows what I must do…and yet…I feel at peace.

"It seems that, in addition to Death, fate has also dealt you the wild card. …You must accept your destiny." I do…it is inevitable and…death…is nothing to be afraid of. "Our contract has been fulfilled…I have completed my role as well. …You were truly a remarkable guest." He gives me a fond smile at that. And all I see is a bright light before.

Tartarus' Peak…

Ah. I feel so light. I look up at the sky and there's Nyx…but…none of this is her fault. Humanity…brought this upon themselves. I look around at my fallen friends all of them looking at me in shock probably wondering why I am able to stand. They are trembling fighting the pressure with everything they have and yet…it will never be enough.

"How…can you move…!" Yukari…I look down at her I can see everything, her past, her present, even her future. All of this knowledge and power just flowing through me and yet…even with this…

"Minako…!" Akihiko cries out. "Wait…are you going to go alone?"

"NO! STOP!" I'm sorry…so sorry…

"No way…Why?" Yukari sounds lost.

"Damn it! Why the hell can't we stand up!" Junpei's anger covers up his own sense of helplessness.

"Wait…please…we've been through too much together…!"

"Urgh…dammit!"

"I said, WAIT! Come back, you idiot!" There are tears in Yukari's eyes now…but I still can't turn back. No matter how much I wanted too I promised to protect you all. And now…that is what I'm going to do.

?

Nyx…it's a strange looking thing no doubt. Countless hands and what? A strange blood red attack hits me.

"AH!" I fall to the ground. My body! I cough and blood comes out…what…just happened? One blow? One blow is all it took? I hit it but there's no effect…no not again! I fall back again and

"There's nothing we can do?" Ken's voice is panicked. They can see?

"Don't give up! We have to believe in here!" Akihiko even know you fight

"Give her strength! Take my life if you must!" Mitsuru…

Another attack I won't fall here.

"Yeah, I'm willing to risk mine too." Yukari

"She's going to face it all by herself!" Fuuka

"No she's not alone! I won't let her die!" Junpei

Koromaru barks.

"I won't let this world be harmed!" Aeon…

"All right. Let's do this." Shinji…?

I know now…I know what I have to do. I feel warmth spreading through me and I point at Nyx.

"I…understand…"

The universe flows through me as I stare at her and white light fills my vision.

Ah…I'm…fading….What a peaceful feeling…but…

I made a promise.

I can't fade just yet.

"Where are we?" Yukari

"Did Nyx create this place? …Or, was it her?" Mitsuru

"Is she alright, Fuuka! What happened?" Akihiko yells

"Everything was engulfed by a bright light. …I don't sense her." You don't sense me Fuuka…because your Persona senses life. …Life that I no longer possess.

Ken looks down, his small fists clenched tightly. "Don't tell me she…"

"No! That can't be!" Junpei screams in denial. "Try again! She can't be the only one…!" Fuuka simply sighs. "You gotta be kidding me…"

"Dammit…Not again!" Akihiko shakes his head.

"We all decided to put our lives on the line…in fact, we came here knowing we would most likely die." Mitsuru ever the reasonable one.

Aeon falls to his feet. "How…how could I have failed her? This…this is what I was trying to stop!"

"You're there aren't you? I know you are!" A small smile graces my lips. Yukari's as bashful as always. "I refuse to believe that you're gone! Answer me! I know you can hear me!"

"Minako!" …Aeon?

With that the rest of them filled with desperation call out to me.

I'm so sorry.

"I'm fine." I murmur.

Aeon smiles and are those tears? "Minako!"

"…Don't worry." …Pharos?

"That voice…!" Akihiko looks around but like me Pharos cannot be seen.

"I will sleep once again. Normal days will return to this universe, for you…and for her. She's found the answer to life's greatest question. It just happened a bit sooner than it will for the rest of you."

"Life's greatest question?" Aeon looks up as if willing Pharos to appear.

"Aeon…you'll find the answer one day as well. You, too, are a precious living thing. You just need to realize how the bonds of friendship have changed you."

"…Friendship." He looks at the others briefly. I wouldn't have caught it had I not had the awareness from the Universe still humming inside of me.

"The Dark Hour will soon vanish from this world…all will truly be relinquished from its dominion, and the legacy of life will continue. Congratulations, you had the miracle you sought. We shall meet again someday…"

I feel..so warm. My eyes flutter close and I feel so peace now. Everything will be fine now.

Gekkoukan High School, Front Gates…

When my eyes flutter open I'm lying on the grounds in front of the school. Everything seems to be back to normal. I feel the hum of the air, and hear the heartbeats of my friends, the vibrancy of life all around me. Except…for me. I feel no life from myself. No heartbeat, no need for breathing. I…I am supposed to be dead. But I will fulfill my promise…I won't let them down again.

"Minako!" Aeon runs over to me.

"She came back…" Yukari smiles in relief and the rest of them follow Aeon.

"Minako-chan…thank goodness…." tears stream down Fuuka's face as she speaks.

"You sure took your time! You were really stringing us along there! Honestly..!" Junpei has tears in his eyes too.

"You scared me…I-I thought we might not ever see you again…" Ken voice trembles as he speaks and his eyes too glitter with unshed tears.

"Guys c'mon. This isn't something we should be crying about…" Despite Akihiko's words his eyes are just as glittery as the rest of theirs.

"Look who's talking…"

"Finally…the gang's all here…" Even Mitsuru, Koromaru runs up to me with a happy bark and nuzzles my side. I pet him gently.

"Minako…"

I frown. Are those…tears? He's crying…

"Huh…? I…why won't they stop?" he wipes at his eyes futilely. "They just won't…"

We won. The Dark Hour will never happen again. I will…make sure of it.

And so time passed.

3/3/2010

Gekkoukan High School, Front Gates…

I've been so tired lately. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I'm practically undead.

"Yo!" Junpei grins as he waves me over. All of them have lost their memories of the Dark Hour. "Damn it's cold. But of course, you never miss a day of school." I smile at him. How can I tell him it's because I don't have many days left? "Many, can ya believe this year's already over? We're practically seniors now. Just one more year…ya think anything interesting will happen?" Compared to saving the world?

"Doubt it."

Junpei sighs. "Well, seeing the current seniors makes me wonder…seems like all they frickin' do is study. Talk about boring. Is that gonna be us next year? …Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?" …Are his memories coming back? Before I can ask I spot Aeon staring at me.

"Hey, is that guy staring at us? You know him?"

"Uh…" before I can say anything Yukari walks forward. "What are you talking about? He lives in the same door as us."

"Seriously?" Junpei turns from Yukari to Aeon quickly. "Uh…what's his name then?"

Yukari frowns before shrugging. "I dunno."

Junpei sighs in exasperation. "Well then, why're you giving me a hard time? Anyway," he sighs heavily "it's always crazy in the dorms this time of year, with so many people coming and going. Oh yeah, did ya hear? Akihiko-senpai's movin' out. Ya know, the Captain of the boxing team?" …Huh. I never did figure out what he said to Yukari…I doubt it's important now.

"I know who he is," Yukari looks away biting her lip "but I haven't really talked to him. Of course, all the graduates are leaving, even Kirijo-senpai."

"Ms. Student Council President…she's in our dorm too, huh?"

"…Man what's up with that guy? Hey! Do you want something? Is something wrong?" Aeon has such a lost look on his face that I want to reach for him. But before I can slip up he turns and runs.

"He looked rather depressed, didn't he? …You think he was interested in one of you?"

"…" I look away.

"Maybe. But if so why didn't he say anything?" Yukari points out.

Junpei shrugs. "By the way, Yuka-tan…uh…never mind forget it."

"Aw, come on now…don't gimme that." she glares at him.

"Um, well…do you remember how we became friends? I mean, don't take it the wrong way. I was just thinking…" the angry look on Yukari's face is replaced by contemplation.

"Well, it's not like we're best friends or anything, so I guess it just kinda happened." She shrugs a bit.

"Yeah, I guess so…" Junpei doesn't sound convinced.

"…it IS kinda weird, actually, now that I think about it. But, I can't really explain why. Anyway, that guy-"

The bell rings and we quickly head to class.

I find myself sleeping. I haven't been able to concentrate lately.

After School

"Hey! Minako wake up!" My eyes flutter open and Junpei's staring at me with a knowing grin. "Stayed up late last night huh?"

Late last night? No…I actually had went to sleep early. Ever since that fight with Nyx I felt as though I was fading away. But I had to hang on…for just a little longer. My Personas…they had started fading away as well.

"Yeah. I should've went to sleep a bit earlier."

"Well that's fine! You up to going to Duck?" I give him a small smile. "You know this whole year has gone by so fast. But I always get the feeling that I've forgotten something…something important." He frowns at this.

Chidori…

"…What…did I do all year? Just fool around?" his frown deepens. "About that meal…you don't mind taking a raincheck on that do you?"

"No…it's fine Junpei."

Junpei nods distractedly before walking off. I wonder is it better this way for him? I stand up and start walking towards the door when I spot Yukari.

No sooner is Junpei out of my vision before I feel as though a piece of me has been torn apart. I bite my lip to keep a scream from escaping. What was that?

[…I can not hold on anymore. I am sorry…] I feel Surt's sorrowful words and no sooner has he finished speaking than do I feel complete silence. He's…vanished completely.

"Minako!" she gives me a bright smile when she reaches me. "Hey I wanted to ask you something. Do you mind coming with me?"

"No. It's not a problem." Odd…even speaking seems to tire me out.

Rooftop

"Hey…I just wanted to thank you. For everything."

Everything? Just…how much does she remember? "It wasn't a problem Yukari." She gave me a warm smile before nodding.

"You know…I made up with my mom." That's good. "She invited me to stay with her for a while. …I'm just going to visit her first though. Do you mind going with me? I'd feel better if you were there."

I smile somewhat sadly. This body of mine…it won't last much longer.

"Anyways. I'll see you later okay?" with that she runs off before I can respond. I watch her retreating back and head downstairs. Hidetoshi is standing there with a troubled look on his face.

"Hidetoshi? Is something wrong?"

"Hm?" He looks up at me. "Ah. I was just thinking. What do you think about the way this country is heading?"

"The way it's heading?"

Hidetoshi nodded. "I was thinking about what happened this year. And how quickly the cult managed to gain control of the town. How it preyed on the people's fears. I wanted to do something about it."

"Do something? Like what?"

"Become a teacher." …a teacher? He looked at me with a slight grin.

"Aren't you going to laugh? Say "You a teacher?"."

I shook my head. "No. I think you'd be a great teacher." He taught me a lot.

He looked shocked at first before a pleased smile appeared on his face. "Okay then."

I nod weakly. Ugh…it's gotten worse every day.

He frowns then eyeing me critically. "Are you okay? You're pale."

"I'm…fine."

He doesn't look convinced. "You should get some rest."

"Thanks Hidetoshi. I'll see you later." With that I turn and leave, heading towards the door no sooner do I turn away than do I feel another loss of strength, another piece being torn.

Ah. It makes sense now. I give Hidetoshi a shaky last smile before heading to the dorm. I need to rest.

3/4/10

Another long day…just one more…one more until I can keep my promise.

3/5/10

Today is the day of my promise.

Knock Knock

Hm? I stand and open up the door. Ah. It's Aeon.

"Minako…I remember. I remember everything." He sounds so lost and sad. "I remember fighting Nyx and you…you…"

I give him a shaky smile. "Aeon…"

"It's Graduation day isn't it? We should head to the meeting place." I nod and Aeon and I walk slowly to the school.

Rooftop

I lay down on Aeon's lap, the sun is shining brightly and there's a gentle breeze. It's a beautiful day, so peaceful. It's hard to tell how long we've been up here.

"We saved the world. Even if no one will ever know." He runs his fingers through my hair. Strange they feel warm and…what is that sound? A heartbeat? I look up sleepily at Aeon who is looking down at me with tears in his eyes.

"Aeon…don't cry." I reach up and gently wipe the tears from his eyes. "Don't cry."

"I…" the tears don't seem to be stopping he shakes his head. "I…I'm happy…I…" the tears keep flowing and a few land on my face.

My vision is darkening. I feel so heavy.

"Aeon! Minako!" Akihiko?

"Hey! Wait up!" Junpei. I hear the others excited cries and smile softly. Everything is going to be okay now.

My vision continues darkening and I feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoudlers.

"It's…okay for you to rest. You've been through a lot after all." Aeon's voice trembles and I smile weakly. "I'll protect you. I'll always protect you. No matter what."

I feel…so light.

End