So hey -

Oh wow, it's been 2 months ALREADY? Jesus, I didn't expect this to take so long. I'm going to be honest: I should have just submitted this chapter a while ago, since it's been done for quite a while. However, I wanted to be ahead in terms of chapters so I chose to wait until I finished 7. Sorry? 7's done, at least. I'll have it up whenever I finish 8 which should be sooner? Anyway, reviews.

Kisdota: Yeah ok so if you like, legitimately aren't going to read my fic because you're annoyed that I respond to you in all caps, that is... really silly. Like, seriously, I'm hoping you're joking about that, but just in case you aren't joking, I'll refrain? Anyway, look, I already have the fic planned out. Like, entirely. Suggestions and criticisms on my writing style, characterization, and stuff like that is cine, but I don't want suggestions for the plot because I'm not going to be changing it because it's already planned out. And I don't want people asking what will happen since I won't answer because Id on't want to give spoilers.

Also, I hate hate hate HAAAAAAAAAATE Decade. Like, I wrote this gigantic rant about it. And then I read it out loud. Twice. I put in the decade quotes before I watched the show, so that's why they're in. Tsukasa is a giant mary sue, the characters are all bland and stupid, the plot is full of holes, etc etc etc. *Also yeah, fuuka was a priestess, not fortune.*

Ranma Uzumaki: Thanks~

Destinydeck: Samurai Kamen Rider? Obviously, he transformed into a shinkenger. Obviously. /joking

Bog: Ok seriously, these are like, the most helpful reviews ever and I love you

Ok here's a chapter:


Minato yawned. The climactic battle against the priestess had taken place just yesterday, and by god, he was tired. He walked around the halls of Gekkoukan, waiting for lunch to hurry up and end. Unfortunately for him, the period in which he ate and was supposed to socialize during had only just begun, so he had a long time to wait. In his drowsy state, he found himself almost tripping on something at his feet. It was shiny. And metallic. And also light. Rubbing his eyes and yawning, Minato drowsily picked up the object at his feet. It was a can. Maybe it was a soda can. Honestly, he didn't feel like reading the label. Somehow, that would require effort, and he was waaaaaaaay too tired to put out any effort.

Though still, he should recycle it. In his current state, the act of walking towards a blue bin and dumping the can in apparently took less effort than reading the can's label. He took one slow step towards the can. Then, he moved his other foot in front of the other one. He vaguely heard some people walking towards him. Nuts. He would have to leave this secluded hallway because he did not feel like dealing with anyone stupid at the moment. Hopefully, it wasn't crazy gun woman. God, she was annoying.

His hand was now directly above the opening to the recycling bin, and his fingers began to release their grip on the can, which would theoretically end with the can dropping into the bin. But for a moment, Minato actually had to recall how to drop the can. He was really sleepy. Unfortunately, that good deed would never come to pass, as he found the can being roughly wrenched out of his fingers. The surprise actually caused Minato to wake up slightly. He blinked, his vision becoming much more clear. Standing in front of him were two generic looking guys and some kid who... "... By god. I don't think I've ever seen someone who looks so slimy without even trying." He looked at them. "What is it? I'm just doing a good deed." The slimy kid in front motioned towards the kid to his right, the one who had grabbed the can out of his hand. The generic goon held out the can, confusing Minato for a moment before he decided to expend the effort and read the label.

It was a beer can.

"... Oh."

This was a rather compromising situation. Before Minato could say anything to defend himself, he found his arms being roughly grabbed by the two on the slimy kid's sides, with said slimy kid glaring at him. "I'm afraid we're going to have to bring you to the office." Minato just gawked at him for a few moments, comprehending that this situation was quite legitimately happening, before attempting to respond.

"What for? I just found it, I didn't drink it or anything!" Apparently, the slimy kid didn't believe him. The expression on his face said everything. Fighting back would be completely stupid, so Minato decided to just follow along for now, sighing agitatedly and beginning to walk so the other two didn't just drag him around. Slimy kid spoke up.

"We'll hear your story at the office." What was this, a cop show?


One breathalyzer test later, Minato was pronounced innocent. The breathalyzer had saved his life, or at least, his motorcycle, since Mitsuru was in the room. Hidetoshi frowned, staring at the thing before demanding they do another test. Minato snorted. "What for? It'll just say I'm clean. Again." Slimy kid, who was apparently named Hidetoshi Odagiri, glared at him, before turning to Mitsuru in an attempt to gain some support.

"Just in case. That test could have been faulty, and - " Mitsuru, seeming to be on Minato's side for once, cut him off with a sigh. Honestly, she didn't seem to like Hidetoshi very much. Thinking about it, Minato had heard some rather harsh things about the leader of the disciplinary committee. Maybe it was this guy? He didn't pay much attention to rumors, but Minato already had some rather harsh things to say about Hidetoshi.

"You can try, Hidetoshi, but I don't believe the results will change." Hidetoshi opened his mouth to protest, but promptly closed it. Even he didn't feel like arguing with the president of the student council and the heiress of the Kirijo group. He placed the breathalyzer back onto the table, frustration growing in his face. Whether it was at Minato for so obviously being the drinker or himself for accidentally picking the wrong culprit, he didn't exactly know. Mitsuru cleared her throat, snapping the leader of the disciplinary committee out of his thoughts and grabbing the attention of both him and Minato. "Now then..." Her gaze turned to the latter of the persons she was talking to. "Minato, I've been considering asking you to join student council for a while, and..." She didn't get to finish that sentence, due to the protestations of both Hidetoshi and Minato.

"What? HIM?"

"What? ME? Why would I... Of course, I - "

Mitsuru glared at him. Motorcycles.

"... accept. Of course."

She smiled. "Excellent." Goddamnit he was basically her bitch, wasn't he? "Now then, while we'll have to go through formalities later... Minato, I would like to ask a favor of you." Knowing he really had no choice in the matter, Minato nodded dejectedly. "A while ago, the butt of a cigarette was found on the floor of the men's bathroom on the first floor." She glanced at Hidetoshi, then back to Minato. "I would like you to help Hidetoshi find the culprit." Ignoring their protests this time, Mitsuru continued. "Now then, I have some issues to attend to. Kindly spend the rest of lunch investigating." And with that, she turned around, leaving the room within the school's office, leaving behind a momentarily speechless Minato and Hidetoshi.

Minato broke the silence. "Tch... bossy woman."

Hidetoshi turned his head, snapping at Minato, "Don't talk about our student council president like that!"

"Alright, alright. Geez..."

A familiar sound suddenly rang in Minato's head.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."

Minato chuckled, seemingly for no reason. Apparently, Hidetoshi secretly agreed with him. Hidetoshi also was not amused by his chuckling. "What are you laughing at?" Minato didn't answer, only walking out the door.

"Nothing. Come on, we've got a crime scene to investigate." As Hidetoshi said something or other, starting to follow Minato out the door, the wild card stopped, realizing what he just said. By god, this was turning into a cop show.


A brief trip later, Minato and Hidetoshi were in the first floor's bathroom. It had been locked, to the anger of most of the first year males, but Hidetoshi had a key that let them in. Inside it... looked mostly normal. It was about as clean as most of Gekkoukan's bathrooms, and there was very little out of place at first glance. Looking at each other with a nod, the newly formed duo began to search the bathroom for anything out of place. The first, and most obvious, clue they found were some slips of paper on the ground, along with other miscellaneous objects. Other than a few coins, the most important objects in there was a cloth, around the size commonly used to clean glasses, and a few photos, mostly of various landscapes. There were a few of various students.

A big more digging around later, Minato found something interesting in the garbage can: a business card. After reading its text, they figured that it was for a therapist of sorts. This was, since the bathroom had been locked, the last thing placed into that particular garbage can, so it was entirely possible that the culprit had thrown it away as well.

Hidetoshi, in the meantime, had begun to look at the cigarette. "I can't believe someone was stupid enough to smoke during school... what kind of idiot smokes during high school, anyway?" He looked at Minato, a critical look in his eye. "You don't smoke, right?"

Minato raised an eyebrow. "Nope. Not interested." Hidetoshi looked away, nodding in agreement, but Minato managed to catch the look of approval in his eye.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."

He could have just left it at that, but Minato wanted to speak his mind a lot more than he wanted to social link this idiot. "However, I don't think that some kid smoking is just cause to act like... this." When Hidetoshi turned around, a question in his face, Minato elaborated. "Look at us! We're investigating this bathroom like we're cops or something. Honestly, I think this is silly, and the most we should do is make an announcment that smoking is bad, blah, blah, blah, etc."

Hidetoshi glared at him. Minato felt the social link reverse.

"Thou shalt not have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."

"'Blah, blah, blah, etc,' is EXACTLY what the student who smoked this thing would hear if we just put up an announcement. If we don't do anything, there's still going to be some idiot ruining himself by smoking and doing god-knows-what-else because we thought that investigating this was silly. Knowing something happened and not doing anything is almost as much of a crime as the crime itself," Hidetoshi hissed at him, and was about to mouth off even more at Minato when the bell rang, signifying that lunch was over. Standing there awkwardly for a second, Hidetoshi turned around to leave the bathroom when Minato called out to him.

"Oi." Hidetoshi stopped, so the wild card took that to mean that he was listening. "Thinking about it... I guess you're right." Minato didn't say anything else. There were quite a few factors that contributed to him agreeing with Hidetoshi. For one, motorcycles. For another, he did sort of want to get this social link, as they did increase his power somewhat. Having the leader of the disciplinary committee out to get you was also a bad thing. And, oddly enough, he found himself agreeing with Hidetoshi. At the very least, if he was smoking, Minato knew that there was no way in hell he would listen to an announcement.

Glass cracked.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."

Minato went off to his next class.


One excruciatingly boring class later, (that teacher REALLY needed to shut up about samurai) Minato found himself stepping into the lobby of the dorm. For the moment, crazy gun woman wasn't there, and the only ones in the lobby were Mitsuru and Junpei. Junpei appeared to be preoccupied with his PSP, but Mitsuru noticed his entrance. "Ah, Arisato." She nodded in achknowledgment, to which Minato grunted in response. "How did it go with Hidetoshi?"

Junpei looked up in surprise. "Eh? Minato, did you go on a date?" Both Minato and Mitsuru stared at him in disbelief. Minato replied first.

"... Hidetoshi's a guy." Junpei restrained a giggle, and not very well.

"Yeah, I know."

Minato rolled his eyes, and went sat down on the sofa. It was surprisingly comfortable. Comfortable enough to sleep in... Minato caught himself falling asleep, and realized he had yet to answer Mitsuru's question. Both her and Junpei were now looking at him curiously. "Arisato, are you alright?"

He yawned, leaning over and rubbing his face. "Yeah, yeah. Just tired." He looked at her. "Anyway, to answer your question, it went pretty well. We found a few objects at the scene of the crime, and the suspect list has been narrowed considerably."

Junpei's eyes widened, and he looked enormously confused and intrigued. "Ooh, ooh! What happened? Was there a crime?" Before Minato could snark at the other persona user, Mitsuru interrupted him, elaborating on the situation, describing the cigarette butt found in the bathroom and the incident with the beer can. Color drained from Junpei's face, and Minato was beginning to suspect the rather stupid teen of one of the crimes. He was about to ask when Junpei posed a question. "So... err.. what color was the beer can?" Minato blinked, attempting to remember. He had been really sleepy at the time, but had gotten a good look at the can's label, and from what he remembered, it had been...

"Green."

"Oh..." Junpei grinned sheepishly. "I think that was mine. Whoops?"

A short pause followed before Mitsuru and Minato both yelled out at once.

"WHAT?"

"Yeaaaaaaaaah, sorry about that, you guys." Junpei blinked into their angry, staring faces, before realizing the detail he had forgotten to mention. "Oh, but I wasn't actually drinking beer!" Judging from their expressions, the other two weren't buying it. Starting to stutter, Junpei hurridly explained the rest. "I-I filled them with soda! I cleaned them out before! I w-was just doing to trick people!" Mitsuru blinked, seeming to believe him, and just kind of sighed at his idiocy and relaxed. Minato, however, smacked him on the back of the head.

"Idiot. You nearly got me in trouble!"

Junpei rubbed the back of his head. "Ow..." He gave a pathetic smile to Minato, shrugging. "Sorry?" Mitsuru spoke up, catching Minato's attention and diverting the topic from Junpei's antics.

"Anyways, both of you, go upstairs and prepare for a trip to Tartarus. The barrier at the top of Thebel has disappeared, so we will be exploring the new block: Arqa."

Junpei pumped his fists into the air. "Hell yeah! I've been waiting to go back! Can't wait to kick some shadow ass..." Minato frowned at him.

"Oi, you... are you really taking this seriously?"

"Oh, err, of course I am! Why wouldn't I be?"

Mitsuru frowned at their antics, but didn't comment. "Hopefully, we won't encounter any major problems."


The only real major problem the encountered was that the shadows in the Arqa block were really freaking strong.

Minato wasn't sure how many times he had punched this stupid freaking bird already. And his fist was on fire, too! God, he'd hit this thing like, a dozen times by now, and it seemed like he was doing absolutely no damage at all. Maybe the shadows on this floor were invincible, and they were actually all doom -

"According to my scan, these shadows appear to be completely unaffected by fire spells."

Minato stopped his fist in mid air, his other hand letting go of the stranglehold he had on the shadow, causing it to fly away. Underneath the mask, his face looked throughly unamused. "Oh gee, thanks Mitsuru. I couldn't have used that sooner or something."

"ZOUCHOUTEN FORM."

With a grunt, Minato stabbed at the bird. Apparently, the small amount of physical damage he had been doing with those punches had taken their toll, as he managed to take out that bird in one, electrified stab. He grinned. "Alright! Who's next - "

Apparently, another one of those damned Black Ravens were next, as one of them smacked into his back, sending him stumbling forward a few steps. He turned around, about to hit it with his sword when he saw that it had just finished charging up a wind spell to aim directly at his face. Cringing in anticipation, Minato was surprised when Junpei jumped in at the last moment. He grabbed the shadow by the neck, tossing it to the ground and ferociously stomping on it. Minato took the opportunity to go ahead and stab it in the neck while it was down, sending electricity coursing into its body through his sword. It sparked for a moment before exploding. Minato looked at Junpei, who gave a thumbs up. "Haha, yeah! That was AWESOME!" He gave a stupid grin. "I guess I don't owe you anymore for the beer can thing, huh?"

Minato snorted. "I'm not sure about that..."

"Come on, it was an accident!"

"Yeah, yeah... Hey, Yukari's in trouble."

Yukari was surrounded by a swarm of the ravens, attempting to fend them off with her bow and arrow. Remembering that she actually had other weapons, she looked to the always odd cow-skull thing that she had on her right forearm, pointing her arm forward and shooting it into the group of shadows. Although it didn't immediately destroy all of them, the wind energy charged within it managed to push the enemies back into range of Minato and Junpei. The two had decided to test out a new feature of the rider system Mitsuru had told them about. Manifesting their cards between their fingers, Minato threw his card at Junpei and vice-versa. Sliding each other's cards through their belts, its usual voice said a new message:

"FUSION SPELL."

Minato's sword began to spark with electricity, while Junpei's sword suddenly blazed with fire. The two held their swords in a ready position, standing on opposite sides of the small swarm of shadows before leaping through it, slashing through the air only once. They landed on opposite sides, and the shadows stopped flapping their wings, seeming to pause in midair for a full three seconds before exploding in a glorious mess of fire and smoke. They sheathed their weapons, Minato flicking his hand out calmly while Junpei celebrated their victory in a much more active manner: He ran towards Minato and slapped the other rider on the back. "Heck yeah, that was awesome! Now THIS is what I signed up for!"

Minato frowned at that comment.

Junpei looked at him, a hopefully look on his face. "I'm forgiven for that beer can thing now, right?"

Minato snorted, having come to a decision. "This has taken 300 yen off of the 2,000 you owe me for that ordeal."

"... W-Wait, I owe you mon - "

Mitsuru's voice came over on the radio, interrupting Junpei's protestations.. "Intriguing... Although individually, you both were using electricity or fire, the net damage output was actually almighty damage."

"Almighty damage? What's that?" Junpei piped up.

"It's a form of spell that no enemy is capable of deflecting or resisting."

"Whoa. So we can hurt ANY enemy with a fusion spell?" He looked at Minato, about as giddy as a small child. "Man, Minato, we should totally use these for every enemy! No one would be able to stop us!"


The next enemy they ended up using a fusion spell on was the first boss of Tartarus: A... table.

Their first reactions were not favorable: they stared at the thing for several seconds, just taking in the fact that the first boss of Tartarus was.. a table.

And then they started laughing. A lot. Mitsuru's protestations didn't phase them at all.

What DID phase them was when it started beating the crap out of them. THEN they decided to get serious.

"FUSION SPELL."

At this point, Minato was back in Orpheus form, so the fusion spell would be a bit different this time. Like it did during his regular finishing move, Minato's right foot began to glow with fire. In an unexpected turn, however, Junpei's did as well. He looked at Minato. "Aww yeah. We doing this?"

"We're doing this."

They both jumped up in the air and did a somersault, extending their right foots into a kicking position.

"RIDER DOUBLE KICK!"

Unfortunately, their timing seemed to be off: Junpei hit the shadow first, seeming to just bounce off the table with little to no effect, while Minato struck afterwards with the same effect. They both staggered up to their feet, moving away from the enemy. Junpei was confused. "Wh-what the hell? Why didn't it work? Fusion spells do almighty damage, right?"

Mitsuru nodded, although they couldn't see it, and was beginning to make sense of what had just happened. "It didn't work because you two didn't perform the fusion spell correctly. Because you two were out of sync, Junpei hit before Minato did. Your combined strengths was what caused the almighty damage, but if you strike separately, it's just regular fire damage... which this enemy seems to absorb. It is, however, weak to ice damage."

Minato was already pulling the Jack Frost card out of thin air before she could say that last word. "Got it." He slid it through his belt.

"JACK FROST FORM."

As a miniature blizzard whipped around him, Minato shouted at the other two. "Distract it!" As different armor clamped onto Minato's body, Junpei was still in disbelief that their attack didn't work. Yukari decided to use the oppertunity to actually do something tonight, since it seemed like Minato and Junpei were taking all the attention. She slid her own card through her belt, activating her all out attack. An arrow was drawn back on her bow, a miniature green tornado whipping around its tip. The arrow fired, implanting itself into the table and causing it to emit a shriek of pain. At this point, Minato had finished changing. He nodded at Yukari before leaping up into the air, his left foot not gaining any visible changes, but becoming really cold. Actually, if one were to look closely, chunks of ice were beginning to form around it.

Jumping up into the air, Minato kicked the arrow that Yukari had shot at the shadow, his makeshift rider kick landing right in the middle of the tornado. The result was a small blizzard being aimed directly at a shadow weak to ice.

It exploded.

Minato walked calmly away from where the shadow had been and punched Junpei in the shoulder. "That's 500 more added to your debt.

"H-hey, wait a minute, why do I owe you money!"

"It's your payment for that incident."

"Why you..."

Minato and Junpei began to shout at each other, and Yukari just watched from the sidelines, shaking her head. "Men..."


The next day, as Minato was exiting the dorm, he found himself being caught by Junpei. Raising one eyebrow, Minato adjusted his backpack before speaking. "What? You have my money?" Junpei groaned in frustration for a moment.

"Look, I'm not paying you your... Anyway, anyway." The next few words instilled fear into Minato's heart. "Dude, check out what I have..."

"Is it more beer cans filled with soda?"

"No it is NOT more beer cans filled with soda... Ta-da!" Of all things, Junpei pulled out a pair of sunglasses. "You and that Hidetoshi guy are investigating stuff, right? Well then you've gotta wear these! You just HAVE to! Ooh, and you can wear them around school, and, and, and..." Junpei continued to talk excitedly as Minato slowly grabbed the glasses, inspecting them. He then placed them onto Junpei's face. Upside down.

"No."

He walked outside, and was about to begin walking to school, but winced immediately at the heat. Seriously, it was weirdly hot that day. He went inside, hanging his school jacket up on the coat rack because he would not be needing that today. Pausing by Junpei, who had just frozen in place after Minato put the shades on his head, the wild card went ahead and grabbed the shades back, placing them atop his ears and nose. He looked at Junpei. "Thanks."

As Minato proceeded to casually walk towards his usual route to school, Junpei followed. "W-Wait! We still need to discuss my debt!"


Right as the period before lunch ended, Minato walked out the door, meeting up with Hidetoshi. Hidetoshi was also wearing sunglasses.

"... You too?"

"It's hot."

"They're going to think we're actually high or something."

"..." That gave Hidetoshi pause. He decided to just ignore the comment. "Let's go investigate."

"Whatever." The two pushed their sunglasses up, and went off to go interrogate some suspects.


Before they could actually do any investigating, Junpei arrived on the scene. "Oh, 'sup Minato? And, uh, Hidetoshi."

Hidetoshi immediately suspected him. He leaned over to Minato, whispering. "... I think this guy did it." Junpei apparently overheard them, and began to protest.

"Wh-what? Why ME? I didn't do a thing!"

Hidetoshi thought for a moment. "You just look suspicious." Junpei snorted.

"Me? I look suspicious! Look at Minato, he's the one blackmailing me for 2500 yen!" Hidetoshi turned to Minato, one eyebrow raised.

"Is this true?"

Pausing from his glare towards Junpei, Minato paused a moment, just for effect, before responding.

"I wouldn't believe him. He does look suspicious."


"It wasn't me! I swear!"

Hidetoshi continued to glare disbelievingly at the short first year student, but Minato glanced disapprovingly at him. That guy seriously was too suspicious of everyone. "We haven't said that it was you. We just need you to supply some information."

"O-Okay..."

"Alright then..." Minato fished through his thoughts for a moment, remembering the evidence they had found in the bathroom. They were interrogating one of the members of the photography club, and the only reason he called it an interrogation was Hidetoshi's rather rough questioning at the beginning. "Is there anyone in the club that wears glasses?"

The first year student scrunched up his face, trying to remember. "Well... There's Hiraga-san, he's the club leader. I don't think he'd smoke though... Yamagishi-san is also in the club and she wears glasses sometimes, but... actually, she's been absent for a while, now. Oh, and there's Yaguruma-san, but she - "

Hidetoshi snapped his fingers. "It's Yaguruma." Minato looked at him, raising an eyebrow.

"And you know this... how?"

"Her name. It just sounds suspicious, like it would be long to some kind of psychopath or something."

"... Uhuh. Whatever you say."


"I-I-I-I-It w-w-wasn't m-me! I s-s-swear!"

Holy jesus this girl stuttered a lot.

Hidetoshi continued to shout at her, grabbing the attention of every student nearby, who had stopped to watch the spectacle. It really wasn't helping his reputation at all. Minato decided to intervene, grabbing the overzealous student by the shoulders and dragging him backwards. "Holy shit man, calm down! Just let me do the talking..." Ignoring his quip about inappropriate language, Minato went up to the incredibly nervous third year, looking rather calm. "Now then... I'm pretty sure it isn't you, but I'll just make sure: what do you clean your glasses with?"

"E-Eh? W-w-w-w-with th-this..." Chouko pulled out a small, well-used handkerchief. She held it close. "Sora-kun gave it to me~" He noted that she didn't stutter whens he talked about who he assumed to be her boyfriend.

"... Alright then. I'm pretty sure you aren't the culprit, then. When did you receive that handkerchief?"

She was beginning to look suspicious of him, a rather unexpected reaction. "About two weeks ago..." Her eyes narrowed. "Why do you want to know?"

Minato shrugged, holding out the glasses-cleaning cloth they had found in the bathroom. "This was found in the bathroom. Since it's not yours, it's pretty safe to rule you out."

"... O-Oh." Minato nodded.

"Thanks." He walked back to Hidetoshi, slapping the other teen on the back. "Well, hey, we figured out it's probably not her. Our good-cop-bad-cop routine seems to have worked."

"We were doing one of those?"

"Accidentally."


Minato and Hidetoshi had wasted a solid 20 minutes already, and were now poring over the facts they had. Coffee helped. In a dark, secluded corner of the lunchroom, they placed the notes and various bits of evidence they had on the table and sipped their coffee, thinking over the facts of the case.

"We know that the suspect likely had glasses..." Minato noted, wincing at how hot the coffee was. This shit was boiling. "However, out of the three that have glasses, one of them is obviously not the culprit, and another was absent the day of the crime." He stopped. And then he unstopped, because really, the fact that this was becoming a completely silly cop show didn't even faze him at this point. Hidetoshi pulled a thin file out of nowhere, slapping it onto the table with a dramatic relish.

"I went ahead and found the file of the last guy. Keisuke Hiraga. He's club leader, so he's likely to have quite the love for photography..."

"... To the point of carrying around photographs in his pockets?"

"Exactly. He also seems to have issues at home, and occasionally sees the counselor. Apparently, he also sees a therapist on the side."

Minato could feel the case wrapping up already. "And he wears glasses, too..."

"I think we have our man."

"Mmhmm."

They both sipped their coffee.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."


After school, Minato, Hidetoshi, and several other members of the disciplinary committee were waiting inside an alleyway just outside the school. They had predicted that Keisuke would be walking through here, (don't ask how) and were waiting for the guy to walk in front of the alleyway so they could nab him. Hidetoshi was glancing constantly over the corner, waiting for Keisuke to appear. Minato, in the meantime, was commenting on how goddamn silly this entire setup was before Hidetoshi silenced him with a, "Shhh! He's coming!"

Right before Keisuke stepped in front of the alleyway, all five of them walked casually outward, Hidetoshi flashing his official badge as leader of the disciplinary committee. "Keisuke Hiraga. You were smoking in the first floor's bathroom two days ago, weren't you?"

Keisuke was incredibly surprised, to which Minato couldn't blame him, and attempted to deny it. "Wh-What? No, what're you talking about? Of course I wouldn't..."

Hidetoshi snapped his fingers, and the disciplinary committee members were already grabbing his arms. "Save your story for the office."

"W-Wait! I didn't do anything! What did I do?"

"You know what you did."

As Keisuke was dragged off, wailing, Hidetoshi turned to Minato, a rare smile on his face. "Looks like we did it."

"I suppose we did."

Hidetoshi frowned, looking off at Keisuke's retreating figure, and sighed. "That kid... he's still denying it. Still though, by the end of this ordeal, I hope he knows what he did wrong. Maybe then, he'll comprehend the purpose of outlawing smoking, and comes out a better person." He nodded at Minato, crossing his arms, still smiling. "It's nice to know that we might have done that kid a favor." Minato looked over Hidetoshi's shoulder. Yeah, that kid did not look like they had done him a favor, at least for the moment.

But hey, he got a social link out of it.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Emperor Arcana..."

Suddenly, an explosion sounded through the alleyway. It seemed to be quite a ways away, but it managed to draw their attention nonetheless. Hidetoshi gawked in surprise, taking a moment to regain cognitive functions as compared to Minato, who had gotten used to all the explosions at this point. "Wh-what the hell was that?"

"Is it a chthonic attack...?"

"A what?"

Minato realized he had been speaking out loud, but coughed to cover up his mistake. "Err, never mind. Let's go check out what it is." The two began to run towards the source of the explosion.


Actually, Minato had been right: It was a chthonic attack. Hidetoshi stared in disbelief, along with the small crowd, at the creature rampaging around a construction site. It was overly muscular to the point of being bulky, and its skin was a blood red metal, with many rivets and bolts inside it. Its hands were nonexistent, instead being replaced by large, metal spheres that it seemed to be whipping around on chains. Hidetoshi began to wonder why he was watching the incredibly dangerous monster destroy a half-constructed building when he should be running away, and was about to do so when he noticed to severe lack of Minato. "... Minato? Where'd you go?" In this situation, it wasn't good to get separated.

It was around that point that Minato was visible on the roof of a nearby building.

Of course, Hidetoshi couldn't tell that it was Minato: he had transformed into Orpheus form, and his face was covered. The leader of the disciplinary committee stared in disbelief, along with several other bystanders. "K-Kamen Rider?"

Minato winced. Aww, shit, he had forgotten that he was doing this in public this time. Although, he wasn't completely sure what Mitsuru had against transforming in public, as long as no one actually saw his face. Actually, did anyone know about the existence of the riders? Considering that people were pointing and whispering at him, that was probably a no. He cursed under his breath. Mitsuru was going to kill him.

Oh well, he had a monster to fight. Leaping from the building, he kicked his leg out and spun in the air, performing a flying tornado kick to the Chthonic's face. It flew backwards, and Minato decided to take the opportunity to tell the idiot civilians to stop staring and leave. "Oi! Stop gawking and get the hell out of here! Hurry!" They took the memo, along with Minato's frantic hand gestures, and fled in all directions, leaving Minato alone with the creature. It growled at him, tossing one of its wrecking ball hands at him. The chains rattled as the heavy, metal sphere smashed into the floor where Minato had been just a second ago, the second one acting similarly as the Rider just ducked it. The enemy spread its arms outwards, sending the weights shooting towards the Chthonic's sides, with Minato in their path. He jumped, backflipping out of their range.

As Minato formed Orpheus' card between his two fingers, the Chthonic retracted his "hands," placing them next to each other in what seemed to be an action akin to pounding one's fists, but in reality, was just it combining the two wrecking balls into a single, gigantic wrecking ball. For the moment, Minato's facial expression shifted to one of horror at the blatant disregard for the laws of the universe, but he ignored it, considering that he had just slid a card through his magical gun belt that allowed him to transform into a Kamen Rider using monsters that were apparently part of his mind.

"ALL. OUT. ATTACK."

The Chthonic began to swing the wrecking ball above its head before tossing it at Minato. Careful to get the timing right, Minato ran right towards it, leaping at the last moment and using the weapon as a jumping point to get even higher into the air. When he was quite a distance above the creature, he pointed his, now flaming, right foot downwards, aiming to kick it in the face. He shouted his attack name in english. It felt only right. "Blazing Arcana Smash!"

His foot hit the Chthonic right in the face, knocking it backwards. Minato pushed himself off it, landing a few meters away on one knee, his left hand splayed out to the side and his right hand placed on the ground in order to balance him. He stood up, turning away from the alleyway he now found himself facing, and looked towards the monster. He flicked his wrist and, coincidentally, the monster happened to explode at the same time. "Accept the responsibility for your actions."

Not untransforming just yet, Minato looked over at where the Chthonic was now laying. Its armor dissipated, specks of it floating off into the sky and disappearing. The victim seemed to be a simple construction worker. It was rather anticlimactic. He was hoping that it'd be the president of the United States or something. Of course, that was entirely improbable, but still... The battle had been surprisingly easy, though. And seemingly not related to anything...

Minato froze. If he was as genre-savvy about Kamen Rider as he thought he was, then that meant...

"I really am growing tired of you interfering in our plans."

Minato turned around. He wasn't fast enough.

"HENSHIN."

A fist met his face. Minato heard something crack as the gloved hand met his cheek, sending him flying backwards, skidding across the floor. He struggled to his feet, attempting to dust off his legs nonchalantly. He pointed at the newcomer. "Who're... you?" His attempt at seeming cool was ruined when he saw his new opponent. Very thin and off-white armor covered their blank bodysuit, and a black X was placed on his face, composed out of two strips of metal. Inside the two side portions of that X were yellow eyes, their plain nature depriving this rider, in Minato's opinion, of the vaguely comforting, human-like nature of the appearance of normal riders. The two most striking features were the red veins spreading all throughout its body, and the enormous black wings growing out from behind it.

The rider began slowly walking towards Minato. "I am Takaya Sakaki. Kamen Rider Fortune."

Minato looked the rider over once more, this time noting their belt. It was similar to his own belt, with blue instead of read, but the evoker was not nearly as ornate, and the internal structure seemed different, far beyond a few customizations... He took a step backwards. "You... are you in Strega?" His fists were clenched. It was quite apparent he was preparing for a fight.

Takaya paused, as if amused by the fact that Minato was talking to him. "So it would seem I am. Tell me. If you know of our existence, why do you continue to fight for Kirijo?"

"... I have my reasons." Minato, for a moment, had felt a pang of sympathy for the group, but remembered that they were probably the ones creating the Chthonic. He pointed to where the construction was now lying unconscious. "... Now you tell me something. Were you the one that created that Chthonic?"

Takaya answered without hesitation. "I was."

Anger began to bubble inside Minato. The pang of sympathy was replaced by a sudden influx of rage. He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath to collect his thoughts, leading up to a single question. "... Why?"

"In order to lure you out. You have been - "

"DON'T GIVE ME THAT BULLSHIT!" Minato roared, charging forward. One fist was held back as Minato charged it with an Agi spell, aiming it right at Takaya's helmet. A vein on his shoulder sprung up off of his suit, wrapping around Minato's fist in midair and stopping it in its tracks. Takaya himself didn't move an inch. Minato gave a battle cry once again, and tried with his other hand. The tentacles appeared again, and proceeded to wrap around both his hands. Growling, Minato refused to allow Takaya to block any attacks he had. That smug 'hmph' the Strega member gave was the last straw. Rearing his head back, Minato proceeded to slam it into the other Rider's.

Not having suspected the move, Takaya stumbled backwards, grasping at his forehead. "Impressive..."

Minato snarled in response. "Where the hell do you get off calling yourself a Kamen Rider?" He pulled Orpheus' card into existence once more. "Riders are supposed to protect the people, not turn them into goddamn monsters!" The card was pulled through the slit on the SEES driver, Minato getting into a ready stance. "You aren't a Kamen Rider. You're nothing but a criminal!"

"ALL. OUT. ATTACK."

Jumping into the air, Minato tried his flaming drop kick on Takaya. "Blazing Arcana - !"

At least half of the tentacles on the enemy rider's body sprung up and wrapped around Minato, wrapping everywhere around his body. The flames around his foot were snuffed out, and he found himself suspended in the air, unable to move. "Hmph." Takaya still hadn't moved, but the tentacle-veins proceeded to smash Minato into the wall before tossing him onto the floor. Ignoring the pain, Minato attempted to get up, and would have fallen over if he hadn't grabbed the wall in time. Using it to regain his footing, Minato ran at Takaya, aiming to punch him in the face. For the first time in a while, the Strega Rider moved, blocking Minato's wild swing with a simple motion. Takaya's other arm smashed into Minato's face and immediately retracted into a defensive position. His knee shot out, catching Minato in the stomach, and his other hand, still blocking Minato's punch, was pulled backwards and sprung into Minato's face backhandedly, sending the Rider tumbling to the floor.

Sparks were flying from Kamen Rider Fool's armor, and smoke was seeping through the cracks. Minato feebly attempted to pull himself up, but the costume just wouldn't respond. Takaya stood over him. Minato lost the ability to breath as the enemy Rider placed their foot on his chest, and groaned in pain as Takaya proceeded to grind it in.

The Strega Member spoke. "Hmph. Child, allow me to tell you something the Kirijo dogs didn't want you to know...

That attack you just did. The 'all out attack,' was it? I recognized that form of attack." He reached towards his belt and pulled the prototype evoker out of it, Kamen Rider Fortune's armor disappearing from his body. "It relies on the same mechanics that power my Evoker. You know about my evoker, right...?" Slight fear was beginning to grow in Minato's chest, along with the panic. From what he remembered, Strega's evokers were incredibly powerful, but just as unstable. "Every time you use that attack, the instability of your Evoker increases bit by bit... until it's just as bad as mine. Whenever you use that Rider Kick, just remember: You're coming closer and closer to your own persona killing you."

Even untransformed, Takaya's kick to Minato's side hurt. "The only way to suppress it are these pills." He pulled a bottle of pills from his pocket, rattling them. "But these will also kill you... just slower."

Minato saw the error messages forming in his vision, and knew that the suit had sustained too much damage to continue functioning. He felt the armor disappear, its familiar weight lifting from his body. As Minato felt his vision fade and himself drift into unconsciousness, he could hear Takaya's last message as the other Rider walked off.

"Do not meddle in our plans again."

Minato lost consciousness.


Mitsuru uneasily sat down in the cafe, her associate already waiting for her. It was the dead of night, almost closing time, but Mitsuru being the heiress of the Kirijo group helped her get into places late. How exactly her table partner got there first was completely beyond her. She sat there, uneasy, until her associate sipped at her coffee. She placed it down, and broke the silence.

"So... have you been prodding him along like I said?"

Mitsuru nodded. "Yes. He's been following my orders, just as you said he would."

"I see."

"Next you wanted him to... join photography club?"

The associate put her cup of coffee down before nodding affirmatively. "Yes. I'm afraid he's come out a little bit antisocial... I need him to make friends, you see."

The two sat there awkwardly for a minute, occasionally taking sips of their coffee. Curiosity won over hesitency in Mitsuru's mind, and she posed a question. "You... do know what you're doing?" Her associate looked uneasy for a moment, but smiled.

"I certainly hope so."

Mitsuru could smell strawberries.


NEXT TIME ON KAMEN RIDER FOOL:

The two stared at each other in an awkward manner before Minato broke the silence. "So, what arbitrary activity do you want me to do this time, Kirijo-kun?" Mitsuru raised an eyebrow at him, tempted to chew him out, before sighing. She decided to let his smart mouth go. She did have a job to do, after all.

"Join photography club."


"I'm just making sure our investigation was thorough, Odagiri." The two glared at each other for a moment. Minato, remembering something his former partner-in-crime said, expanded onto his argument. "That thing you said? About helping someone with a problem?" Keisuke blinked, rather confused. Hidetoshi faltered, but kept up his angry look. Minato continued. "I'm just making sure we're helping the right guy."


Minato extended two fingers on his right hand, bringing it up to his left shoulder. Junpei did the same, and a card appeared in both of their hands. "Remember! We've got to be in sync! ONE MORE TRY!" Minato was holding the Hermes card. Junpei was holding the Orpheus card. They both scanned the slips of paper in the slits in their belts.

"FUSION SPELL."

The cards disappeared, and both riders went into a crouching position. They spoke as one.

"RIDER DOUBLE KICK!"


"Oh... I'm preparing something for Minato. A new weapon."