Koromaru whined unhappily as he tried to paw his mask off.
"No, boy, we need you to keep that on, so you don't get sick, okay?" Ken chided the dog.
"How is it you are involved in this?" Naoto asked the newcomers.
"Master Igor monitored two parallel worlds," Theodore explained, "But for a few differences, the two were exactly alike. The world I decided to assist was consumed by Nyx. I wish to avenge it, and a young woman who had become important to me,"
"And you three were friends with the boy, Minato," Elizabeth said to the three other newcomers.
Koromaru whined softly.
"We'd gotten word that we may be able to save his soul," said Akihiko, "After all he's done…he at least deserves a rest,"
"And if there's a way to stop all of this once and for all," said Ken, "I'm in,"
Elizabeth looked sad. "Long ago, humanity fought for freedom from two opposing powers. This freedom cost the world protection from rogue demons everywhere. Mankind will always be looking over their shoulder. There is no 'once and for all',"
"Well, it still sounds like our gnarly-demon is a huge monkey on our backs," Teddie commented.
"Agreed," said Naoto, "Perhaps later we can discuss defensive measures against attacks by future demons. For now, we should set off. Elizabeth, lead the way,"
Elizabeth nodded. "Follow me, then,"
She led the group down a twisted pathway, that seemed to get darker as they continued walking.
Naoto's senses felt heightened. She knew it had nothing to do with the fact that they were on the other side. It had everything to do with the adrenaline rush she was feeling. Not since the last time she had been through the TV had she felt this way. Despite the cases she had taken on after Inaba, nothing else had tested her wits, endurance, and patience like the Midnight Channel murders had.
Apparently, experiencing the supernatural made the rest of the crime-solving industry pale in comparison. Perhaps she was meant to solve these supernatural mysteries. One certainly had to think outside the box in these kinds of situations. Not only that, but forensics in the subconscious realms would never be in her curriculum.
"Might as well take these out," Akihiko said as he opened his backpack and took out a pair of brass knuckles.
The group spun around to see Teddie, dressed in his bear suit, shaking his fists angrily.
"Talking shadows?" Ken exclaimed as he took out what Naoto thought to be a gun.
I thought I was the only case of a child in Japan allowed to carry a gun…Naoto thought before her hand shot out, staying Ken's.
"That's just Teddie," she reassured them, "He always dresses like that in here,"
"Oh," said Akihiko as he slipped the brass knuckles on.
Koromaru leaped onto Teddie, biting his ear, and shaking his head violently.
"DOWN, Koromaru!" Ken ordered.
The dog faltered, and then with another growl, leaped down from Teddie.
"Are we going to have to separate you two?" Naoto deadpanned.
"RRRRAAAAAAWWWWWRRRRR!" Teddie growled as he began chasing after Koromaru, who suddenly deflated and began running ahead of the group.
"Honestly…" Naoto sighed as she and the others began chasing after the two.
"How much longer until we're there?" Ken wanted to know.
"Not very long at all," said Elizabeth, "They're actually heading in the right direction, so we don't have to-!"
"SHADOW!" Teddie screamed from around a corner.
"Let's go!" Ken shouted as he sprinted off.
Naoto, Elizabeth, Theodore and Akihiko followed closely behind, both coming to a sudden stop, their mouths dropping in shock.
Before the group was a griffin-like shadow flapping its wings as it floated in the air. It carefully eyed the group before it swooped low, clawing at Koromaru.
The dog jumped out of the way.
Akihiko pulled out his gun.
"Good idea," Naoto did the same. Then, to her horror, she saw the two boys raise the guns to their temples.
"NO!" Naoto shouted as Akihiko pulled the trigger.
But instead of blood and brains shooting out of Akihiko's head, a bright cloud of blue dust-like substance burst out. Suddenly, a Persona appeared and attacked the shadow.
"BEAR-SONA!" Teddie yelled as tossed his card into the air and struck it.
Ken lowered his gun and stared in amazement. "You did that by just raising a card?"
He then dove to the floor, avoiding a blast of fire coming from the shadow.
"Ice doesn't work!" Teddie concluded.
"Neither does electricity!" Akihiko called out.
Naoto took out her own gun and began shooting.
"No good!" she shouted.
"Almighty spells!" Elizabeth cried, "That's its weakness! Stand back unless you have those spells!"
Naoto stepped forward, summoning her persona to cast a Megidolaon spell. Elizabeth cast the same thing.
The shadow screeched and fell to the floor.
"BEAR-PILE!" screamed Teddie as he jumped on the creature and began clawing at it. The others followed suit.
Elizabeth watched the fray, smiling amusedly. Then, she looked at her brother and raised an eyebrow.
Theodore nodded and held his compendium open, casting one last spell.
The creature was enveloped in a flash of light, disappearing completely, just as Naoto shot her pistol at it. The bullet ricocheted off the floor, causing everyone to duck for cover.
"That gun was real…!" Ken panted as he stood up.
"I thought you were trying to- what kind of gun is that?" Naoto asked incredulously.
"It's not," Ken replied, puzzled as he held up his summoning tool, "How were you all able to summon Personae without one of these?"
"You mean that's not a real gun, but a summoning device?" Naoto asked.
"Yes- it's an evoker," said Akihiko, "We thought you knew what they were since you seemed to have one too,"
Naoto reached absently for her holster. "This is the real thing,"
Ken suddenly looked nervous.
"This is how we summon," said Naoto as she held up her Arcana card.
"Well, I'll be!" Teddie exclaimed, "So my theory is true!"
Naoto glanced at Teddie. "What theory?"
"That the blue matter that summons the Personae can look like anything a person wants to,"
"Well, of course!" Theodore chimed in, "Be they toy guns, cards, they still achieve the same purpose,"
But why feign suicide in order to protect yourself? Naoto wondered.
"Shall we get going?" Elizabeth suggested.
"Indeed," Theodore agreed, "I was hoping maybe at some point today, I might find an archway,"
"Arcade," Ken corrected him, wincing.
"I wonder if they have takoyaki in New York," Elizabeth mused.
"Ah, so you've tried that as well?" Theodore asked his sister.
"Your cheeks appear to be intact," Elizabeth observed.
"As do yours!" Theodore said, beaming.
Naoto glanced questioningly at Akihiko and Ken.
"Oh! That's the slogan at the old takoyaki place in Iwatodai City!" Ken recalled, "You'll smile so wide that your cheeks will fall off, or something like that,"
Naoto bit her lip, trying not to smirk. Both siblings were like foreigners, taking everything literally. Having met Margaret only once, and briefly, she wondered if their eldest sibling was as eccentric as they were.
"Hey! There's an exit here!" Teddie called out from up ahead.
"Teddie- stop wandering off from the group!" Naoto called out as she and the others caught up to him.
"Hey, I happen to live here!" Teddie huffed, "Just not this particular…address,"
Ken peered at the large tube TV set on the floor.
"It's safe to enter," said Elizabeth, "Go on,"
Teddie got on his hands and knees and began to crawl through the screen. Just then, he let out a cry as the rest of his body seemed to be dragged through.
"What the-?" Ken peaked inside, only to be dragged in as well.
"What's going on?" Naoto asked Elizabeth.
"I intend to find out," said Theodore as he began to slide in feet-first. Predictably, he also began sliding in uncontrollably, but not without a struggle.
"Ouch! That was completely uncalled for!" a woman could be heard saying.
"Oh dear…" Elizabeth looked crestfallen, "This is indeed an unfortunate misunderstanding,"
Margaret, the eldest of the three siblings, glared at Theodore as she quickly cast a "Dia" spell on her eye, which was beginning to swell. Theodore's face had a red handprint on it, but his compendium was being guarded by Margaret, so healing himself was out of the question.
They and everyone else sat on the floor in the living room of a small apartment, empty save for a large flat-screen TV in the corner of the room.
"Where are we?" Akihiko finally asked.
"The place where Nyarlathotep first crossed over into the conscious realm," Margaret answered, "That would be Lunarvale, New York,"
"New York…" Naoto mused, "But why would he strike here first, and then focus all of his actions on Japan?"
"What we're trying to find out is if there might be other places he has shown up at," Margaret explained, "Not every incident may be reported,"
"That makes sense," said Akihiko, "Especially if he showed up at, say, some primitive village in the middle of some jungle somewhere,"
"Or maybe the witnesses were killed," Ken suggested sadly.
"You asked why the first incident differs in location than the others," Margaret said to Naoto, "But there is one detail that you may find interesting. The man who summoned Nyarlathotep into the world happened to be a Japanese CEO. The leader of the first group of Persona-users was a Japanese exchange student,"
"Again with the Japanese connection," Ken mused.
"Have you managed to contact him?" Naoto asked.
Margaret shook her head. "Negative," she said, "I'm afraid the best way to contact someone out of the blue is beyond my grasp,"
"Just use social networking," Ken suggested.
"I'm aware of social networking," said Margaret, "I just don't understand computers for the life of me,"
"Why not summon him like the other leaders were?" suggested Akihiko.
"That is a trick that only the master and his master could do," said Theodore.
"Well, good thing I packed," said Ken. He reached into his backpack and pulled a leather case out. He opened the case, taking out a tablet.
"4g?" Akihiko asked him.
"Yep," said Ken as he turned on the tablet.
Just then, the front door opened, and a blonde Caucasian woman came inside, hauling a coffee table inside, her back turned to everyone.
"Ngo Faan Lai Laa!" she said in Cantonese before switching to English, albeit with a heavy Japanese accent, "I can't believe somebody just threw this perfectly good table away," she remarked, "Now I don't have to eat off the floor, and that- aiyah!"
She had turned around and now saw everyone sitting before her.
"Welcome back," said Margaret, "As you can see, our allies have begun to arrive,"
"I didn't know it would be so quick!" the woman exclaimed, switching to Japanese, "I suppose I got here in time. Sorry for the condition of this place, but I just rented it last week, the lease started just yesterday, and I haven't had time to furnish it,"
"Excuse me, but your Japanese is amazing!" said Ken.
"Ssenk-yoo-berry-machu!" the woman bowed, "My name is Lisa Silverman. Nice to meet you all,"
"I knew it!" Teddie exclaimed as he leapt to his feet. "Ginko-chan! The idol! I have all your old CDs!"
Something clicked in Naoto's mind. She had recalled Rise talking about an idol that she had looked up to. She remembered that the singer was Caucasian, had an American name, but sang in both Japanese and Cantonese. Was this the woman Rise had talked about?
"Lisa lived in Sumaru city during the Joker murders," Margaret explained, "She's also a persona-user,"
"What?" Teddie shrieked excitedly, "On top of everything else, she can use Personae? Ginko-chan is truly amazing!"
Lisa laughed, "It's nice to see I still have fans. Happy to make your acquaintance. And you are?"
"I'm…uh…" Teddie tried to think.
"His name is Teddie," said Naoto, "I'm called Naoto Shirogane,"
"My name is Elizabeth,"
"Call me Theo,"
"Looks like I'm not the only 'celebrity' here," Lisa said as she glanced at Naoto, "The Detective 'Prince' is on the case too? It's amazing who turns out to be a persona-user, isn't it?"
"Nao-chan and Ginko-chan!" Teddie said happily, "What a star-studded day this has turned out to be!"
"I don't recall you ever being excited about my alleged 'status' in society," Naoto said to him.
Teddie put a finger to his lips. "Shh! Don't ruin the moment!" he whispered dramatically.
Lisa dragged the coffee table to the center of the room as the others made room.
"You all must be hungry after what I'm guessing was an intense trip," she said, "Let me order something for us all to eat, now that we have something to eat on,"