Persona: Sins of the Fool
By Azrael Eternum
Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I ever owned Shin Megami Tensei or the Persona series. They are the property of Atlus.
Chapter 1 – Unwitting Savior
~December 31st, 2017~
The scotch burned ever so slightly as it slid down Souji Seta's throat. He could feel the tingling in his extremities that signified the beginnings of another slow descent into drunkenness. Ice clinked against the sides of the lowball glass as he swirled the bitter drink around absentmindedly. "New Years Eve," he mumbled quietly to his empty office.
It was just one more night like any other, and would pass into another day of hangovers and medication.
He double checked that the clip was safely removed from his sidearm and placed in the opposite drawer of his desk. He'd never been suicidal when drunk in the past, but you never can be too careful when mixing alcohol and firearms. Souji kicked his feet up on the hardwood desk, accidentally knocking over the nameplate reading: Souji Seta, Private Investigator.
He'd become a PI three years ago when he moved to New York City. He longed to be back in Inaba, or Japan for that matter, but he couldn't stand the thought of his friends seeing him like this. The Wild Card that had been such a boon to him during his time in the Investigation Team had some wicked side affects on his brain down the road, which he discovered only a year after finishing high school.
It had started with hallucinations. At first it was just shadowy figures in the corner or his eye, but soon he was seeing Personas fighting it out with Shadows in broad daylight, inanimate objects catching fire spontaneously, blood dripping down the walls, and it just gets worse from there.
Then there was the loss of control. Occasionally, some of those spontaneous fires he saw were really there; started by a misfired Agi spell that he hadn't meant to cast. After he'd shorted out two televisions with Zio spells and almost burned down his apartment complex with a misplaced Agidyne, he knew something had to be done.
He'd discovered fairly quickly that alcohol seemed to weaken the effects, though not removing them altogether. For that he'd required suppressants, old experimental drugs rumored to have originated from some underground experiments conducted by the Kirijo Group. Souji didn't care so much about the origins, or the fact that they supposedly cut years off his life. It made the crazy go away when taken regularly, and made it manageable when taken sparingly and combined with scotch.
He'd moved to the States shortly after that, too ashamed of his current state to be seen by his friends. The PI business seemed like the logical thing for him after the Midnight Channel case. This way, he could still use his powers to help people, but wouldn't have to face his friends. He didn't want them to see their fearless leader reduced to an alcohol and drug dependent shell.
He downed the rest of the tumbler in his hand, and then sat up to fill the glass with more of the brown liquid. He fumbled with the bottle, knocking it over and spilling a few shots worth onto his desk before correcting his slip.
"Maybe that's a sign that you've had enough, friend," came the voice, as it usually did at times like these.
"I'll decide when I've had enough, Nagi," Souji grumbled towards the swordsman standing in the corner, leaning against the wall with arms crossed. "Besides, I'm obviously not drunk enough yet. I can still see you."
Izanagi shrugged. "As you wish. Just doing my part to try and keep you from spending the first part of the new year hunched over a toilet seat." Souji just grumbled under his breath as he filled the lowball glass and dropped two ice cubes into the amber colored alcohol.
Izanagi was the only Persona that Souji still had any direct influence over. However, it seemed as if the strengths of many of his previous Personas had combined to make Izanagi into a veritable powerhouse. Able to wield all of the main elements, and strong against all kinds of attack, Izanagi had become like a Jack-of-all-trades, yet was master of none. And at some point in Souji's deteriorating mental state, Izanagi had started to speak to his human self.
Souji shook off Izanagi's words of concern with another sip of scotch. He heard the announcer on the TV introducing Gas Chamber, a Japanese band that would be playing in the New Year in Times Square. He vaguely remembered Rise mentioning at their last gathering in Inaba that she had met their lead singer, something about working with his wife. Pretty impressive to see them playing New Years Eve in Times Square.
Had it really been three years since he'd last seen all of them? Since he'd last seen Yukiko?
Yukiko. Now there was a line of thinking he did not want to go down. Instead, he took another quick gulp of his scotch and struggled to push her smiling face out of his mind. When that didn't work, he took another drink.
A drink which he promptly spit out when a swirl of black and azure appeared on the other side of his desk.
He sat up quickly, tossing the glass to the side and pulling his sidearm out of the right hand drawer. The tumbler shattered against the hard wood floor as he slowly breathed out, fighting his own drunkenness to try to keep his aim steady. As a figure began to materialize from within the darkness, he cursed himself for forgetting the clip in the opposite drawer.
The figure waved its hand quickly to the side, and Souji felt the pistol rip wrest itself from his grip as it flew into the wall behind the figure. Izanagi drew his katana and prepared to strike, but was knocked backwards by some invisible force before he could even begin to swing the blade. Souji reached quickly for the knife he kept hidden under his desk, ready to defend against the unexpected assailant.
A strong gust of wind threw him and his chair back against the wall, a good two feet out of reach of the hidden blade. He gasped as the air left his lungs in a rush, desperately trying to regain his composure and preparing to dodge whatever came next.
"What's going on?" he cried out to Izanagi, who seemed unable to pull himself away from the wall.
"If you would calm yourself for one second, Souji Seta, I would introduce myself," spoke an eerily familiar voice.
"No way," Souji breathed, "Margaret?" The voice chuckled.
"Close, Souji Seta, but you have me confused for my older sibling," The figure that materialized from the fading portal dressed much more "normal" compared to Margaret, wearing jeans and tennis shoes with a white shirt under a black, waist-length trench coat that hung open. Her blonde hair was straight as opposed to Margaret's golden curls and ran down to just above her shoulders. However, the striking, yellow eyes were identical to those of Souji's assistant from the Velvet Room.
"My name is Elizabeth, Souji Seta, and I have a request for you." She snapped her fingers and the portal behind her vanished. She quickly took one of the chairs opposite Souji and sat, crossing her legs and leaning back into the cushions with a sigh of relief. "Sorry for the flashy entrance, but I thought a planar jump would be a bit faster than a flight halfway around the world." She stretched her arms above her head, closing her eyes for a second before relaxing again and sliding farther down into the chair. "Just as exhausting, though. You're a tough man to find, Souji Seta. Normally a person of your ability radiates enough energy to shine brightly against the backdrop of the rest of humanity. You, on the other hand, barely even registered as one capable of summoning a Persona. I wouldn't have believed you to be a true Fool if my sister hadn't told me otherwise."
Souji stared blankly at the blonde woman who had just invaded his office as she continued to get comfortable in one of his guest chairs. He glanced at Izanagi, who had regained his composure and was eyeing the blonde woman warily, his hand resting on the hilt of his blade.
"You may relax, Izanagi, I mean you no harm," Elizabeth stated turning her hear towards the Persona. Souji nearly fell out of his chair.
"Your actions upon arrival suggest otherwise, miss," Izanagi growled, not lowering his guard.
Elizabeth shrugged. "I said I mean you no harm. That doesn't mean that I'll invite harm upon myself, which seemed all you were prepared to offer me at the time."
Souji composed himself, sliding his chair up to his desk and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the hard surface. "Chill, Nagi," he gestured to the Persona to back off before refocusing on Elizabeth. "I don't think we could take her at the moment anyway. Not if she's anything like her sister." Elizabeth just smiled at him.
Souji sighed, lacing his fingers in front of his face and resting his forehead on his hands. He studied the figure across from him for a few more seconds before speaking. "You are obviously familiar with me, but I know next to nothing about you. Your sister only mentioned you once in passing, if I recall. She said you were searching for someone."
She continued smiling. "That is mostly correct; I've spent the last seven years looking for someone. Rather, I know exactly where he is, but I didn't have a way to free him from his prison. At least, not until recently. But I've discovered a way to bring him back, but unfortunately I can't do it alone. I need the help of someone with comparable power to his, and you are the most applicable, as your power is nearly identical."
Souji's eyes widened. "The same as me? Do you mean he's a Wild Card too? Who is he? What's happened to him?"
Elizabeth's face darkened, and for the first time since arriving she looked away from both Souji and Izanagi. "His name was Minato Arisato. He was a Wild Card, the same as you, one of only two true Fools to ever exist. He died seven years ago fighting alongside his friend to save the world from Death, similar to how you and your friends saved the world from Izanami's fog. His soul now exists as a barrier separating Nyx, the harbinger of death, from Erebus, the manifestation of humanity's negative thoughts and emotions. Think of Erebus like the Shadow Selves your friends faced, except representing the whole of humanity. If Erebus ever reaches Nyx, all life on Earth shall cease. As it stands now, there is no way to remove his soul from the seal without dooming humanity to destruction. But with your help, I believe I can bring him back and reunite him with the friends that he lost with his sacrifice."
She turned her head back towards him, and Souji noticed tears welling up in Elizabeth's eyes. The look on her face was pleading with him in a way simple words could not. He sighed, rubbing his temples and trying hard to focus on the desk in front of him so as to avoid her gaze.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Elizabeth, but I'm not exactly the man I once was. This Wild Card power has been more of a curse than a blessing for the last few years. I can't even control my abilities anymore unless I'm drunk or taking drugs that will slowly kill me. I don't think I can be much help to you in this state." Souji looked up to meet her gaze, which was graced with a sad smile.
"Yes, the curse of the true Fool. You are only the second true Fool to ever exist, and the first that has lived beyond the end of his journey. My former master was unsure of the repercussions of such power on a normal human, and we had no way of knowing for sure until you started to deteriorate. The power of the true Fool, control over every arcana, is a power meant for a truly enlightened individual. A normal human can't handle the strain on the psyche, as you have seen."
"In the past, my former master had spread the Wild Card power across multiple individuals when it was needed. They would each have control of multiple arcana, but never all of them. However, in recent days, my former master's power has weakened, and he has only been able to visit his blessing of power on one individual at a time. While many can awaken to their Personas, only one person at a time can be a true Fool. In fact, Minato's death is the only reason you can even have access to such power."
Souji tried his best to absorb all this information, but his semi-drunken brain was still stumbling over Elizabeth's sudden appearance and couldn't effectively wrap itself around much else.
"I'm not sure I get all of this, but regardless, how exactly am I supposed to help in this condition?" He waved his hands across himself for emphasis, almost toppling out of his chair again in the process. He silently cursed his dependence on alcohol while at the same moment wishing for another shot of scotch to make these sudden revelations go down easier.
Elizabeth reached inside her jacket and removed a large, blue book. It was similar to the tome Margaret had carried with his Persona collection, but the binding was different. It seemed older somehow, and even in his current state Souji could sense immense power radiate from it. Elizabeth placed it on the desk and slid it towards him slowly.
"This," she stated quietly, like she was sharing some well guarded secret, "is Minato's Compendium. It contains a record of all the Personas he ever summoned. With your Wild Card power, you should be able to utilize them." She opened the book on the table, revealing the various cards held within. Many he recognized from his time fighting against Adachi and Izanami, though some were unfamiliar to him.
She began speaking before he could ask, "Some of these may be beyond your power to control, especially in your current state. However, you should be able to summon most of them once you regain your full strength. In the meantime, you can use the Compendium as a vessel for your power. It should allow you enough stability to have full control over your abilities, though you may still have occasional hallucinations."
Souji absently looked towards Izanagi. "Looks like I won't be rid of you just yet, my old friend," he thought silently. He took the book in hand and felt power rush out of him. He felt almost instantaneous relief, and his mind felt clear for the first time in years. He closed his eyes, and for the first time since he gained his power he felt only Izanagi within himself. He smiled without realizing it, eyes still closed, and exhaled a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
Elizabeth's chuckle brought him back to the present. Opening his eyes, he set the tome aside, and was relieved when the pressure didn't come rushing back over him. She reached across the desk and picked up the book, replacing it with a small, black key. "I will hold on to the Compendium for you, but feel free to call upon me whenever you need use of it," she said, tucking the book back in her jacket. "That key can be used to summon me at any time; all it requires is a door to unlock." She stood to leave, saying, "Now, I believe the first order of business should be reconnecting with those you have lost. It seems unfair of me to ask your help in this matter without allowing you the same courtesy. Besides, you will require their assistance."
Souji quickly stood, slamming a hand down on his desk. "Wait a second," he ordered, raising his voice a bit. "You just give me this power, assuming I'm going to help you, and then tell me to drag my friends into it? What's in this for us?"
The gold haired woman just smiled again, snapping her fingers. A portal appeared once again, swirling together out of nothing. "If we are successful, I may have a way of restoring your control, and your sanity, permanently. You would be able to stay with your friends instead of having to live a world away in seclusion." She chuckled to herself again. "Speaking of which; in my travels, I came across a creature searching desperately for you. He agreed to help me with my request if I led him to you." Before Souji could react, another blonde figure came out from the portal, hurtling itself across the room before tackling Souji and his chair to the floor with a loud cry of "Sensei!"
"Teddie?" Souji asked, dumbfounded. The blonde young man/shadow looked up at him with a smile that made his entire face glow with happiness.
"Sensei! I've looked everywhere for you! I'm so glad that I've found you again!" Teddie exclaimed, squeezing Souji tighter than ever. The silver haired young man struggled to breathe against the crushing admiration.
"Gather your friends, Souji Seta, and summon me again. I will explain the situation to you all at that time." She stepped into the portal, but her voice echoed through the office one last time, "The enemy we face is greater than any threat you've previously encountered. You will need all the help you can get."
Souji struggled to his feet, finally freeing himself from the grasp of the exuberant young man now sitting on the edge of his desk, all smiles. Izanagi shrugged at him as he glanced quickly around the room. Elizabeth had vanished.
Souji pocketed the obsidian key as Teddie fired questions at him a mile a minute. He smiled at his friend, the first friendly face he'd seen in years. He had some calls to make.
It was time to get the band back together.
Alright, my first foray into fanfiction in just about ten years. Also my first fully fleshed out story that I've published. Just a few notes for those of you who may be a bit confused.
This story picks up five years after Persona 4, and I'm going to tie together characters and events from all four Persona games (or five, considering that Persona 2 was actually two separate games: Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment). In the first two games, Philemon, who represents the positive elements of the collective human subconscious, gives the player and his or her party the ability to summon multiple Personas. However, he is weakened by the end of P2, and as such only appears in P3 and P4 in his alternate form: a butterfly. Remember the blue butterfly from the beginning of P3 and the save points in P4? That's Philemon.
I've played all four games recently (P3 and P4 multiple times), and I think I'm fairly familiar with the characters, but if my versions seem a little OOC, let me know. Though I think that has to exclude Souji and Naoya (from P1) since they don't have any personality other than what you give them in their games. I've not read the manga for any of the games, so I don't know how the player characters were represented "officially". I am using the manga for the official names of the protagonists, but that's it.
Yes, I'm using Personas instead of Personae as the plural form. I've seen evidence in different places for both being correct, but I don't recall ever seeing "Personae" used in the games. So it's Personas for this story.
Also, I realize this has the premise of a fix-fic, especially since one of my goals is to bring Minato back. Just keep this in mind – nothing can be gained without the appropriate sacrifice. Things are not going to be easy for our heroes, that's for certain.
Thanks for reading, and please review. I'm going to try to put out at least a chapter a week, which may have to fluctuate due to my job, but I will do my best. Reviews give me the motivation to continue, so please let me know what you think of my work!
And…long author's note over!