Koromaru whined unhappily as he tried to paw his mask off. Teddie, unfortunately, was nowhere to be seen.
"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 that world, and a young woman who had become important to me."
"And you three were friends with the boy, Makoto," Elizabeth said to the three other newcomers.
Koromaru whined softly.
"You told us that we may be able to save his soul," said Akihiko, "After all he's done…he at least deserves a rest."
"Yet, we must ask one final favor from him before he can have that rest," Elizabeth stated, "He is one of very few people who has the capacity to summon many Personae. If the ability to summon one Persona is one in ten-thousand, then the ability to summon multiple is more like one in ten million. The others who are able to do so are much older."
"But if he's dead," Naoto pointed out, "Then how can he help? Are you saying that if his soul was freed, we could still make contact with it? That he could still summon Personae from beyond the grave?"
"Given the powers he had," Elizabeth said, "he may actually be able to revive himself, creating a whole new body. I hope that is indeed the case. Reviving somebody from the dead has happened before. I know about the little girl who died and was revived long after medically possible."
"You mean Nanako-chan?" Naoto asked.
"Who?" Ken asked, puzzled.
"She's the younger cousin of a good friend of mine," Naoto explained, "Five years ago, when she was seven, she was put in this world by a man who thought he was protecting her. Unfortunately, her small stature, combined with the lack of protection she had from the fog and the shadows here...it took a terrible toll on her body. She flat-lined...but somehow, managed to come back after being clinically dead for a half-hour."
Akihiko scowled. "How is that possible?"
"Ultimately, her revival was dismissed by the doctors as faulty monitoring equipment," Naoto recalled, "But after everything I've experienced regarding this world, I have to wonder..."
"You can thank Teddie for saving your little friend," Elizabeth told her, "Teddie is a very interesting subject. I know that Master Philemon has taken a great interest in him. A shadow who developed his own ego, and therefore, was able to develop his own doubts, thus creating his own shadow. He then kept his own shadow from consuming him, but still accepted it as a part of him. Therefore, he was able to develop his own Persona. But your devotion to his friends yielded power that exceeds that of a human Persona-user. That power is what revived the girl.
"Before Teddie came into existence, the last time a person was revived from the dead, it was at a great price. An entirely new timeline had to be created. It was allowed, in order to allow humanity to move forward. The woman was too important to remain gone. But we learned something important: her powers had diminished in the new timeline, because the relationships that she had built had all been reset. It was the friendships that all of you have forged that enabled you to emerge from your battles as victorious."
"And here I thought it was some spontaneous miracle," said Naoto.
"A miracle, yes," Elizabeth said with a smile, "Spontaneous...not quite. We simply need to unravel the mystery."
"Well, if there's a way to stop all of this once and for all," said Ken, "I'm in."
Elizabeth looked sadly at the teen. "Long ago, humanity fought for freedom from two opposing powers: YHWH and Lucifer. 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'...at least not until mankind is able to achieve the ultimate power: wisdom...which it's far from being able to do at the moment."
"Well, it still sounds like our current demon is a huge monkey on our backs," Akihiko commented, "We can at least get rid of him, first."
"Agreed," said Naoto, "Perhaps later we can discuss defensive measures against attacks by future demons. For now, we should set off and find Teddie. 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. I hope he's not carrying it illegally...
"That's just Teddie," she reassured them, "He always dresses like that in here."
"Oh," said Akihiko as he slipped the brass knuckles on nonetheless.
Koromaru leaped onto Teddie, biting the ear on his suit, and shaking his head violently.
"DOWN, Koromaru!" Ken ordered.
The dog faltered, and then with a half-hearted growl, leaped down from Teddie.
"Are we going to have to separate you two?" Naoto asked with a sigh.
"RRRRAAAAAAWWWWWRRRRR!" Teddie growled as he began chasing after Koromaru, who suddenly deflated and began running ahead of the group.
"I guess the answer is yes," Akihiko deadpanned.
"Honestly…" Naoto sighed again 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.
"Hold on, Koromaru!" 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 said as she 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, brains and skull fragments 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 as the bullets reflected off the demon.
"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," Teddie answered.
"Well, of course!" Theodore chimed in, "Be they toy guns, cards, or whatever, 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 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 now 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?" Ken finally asked.
"New York," Margaret answered.
"Maybe I should've asked this before," said Akihiko, "But why are we here when all this Persona-related phenomena has happened only in Japan?"
"And why would this being focus all of his actions on Japan?" Naoto added.
"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. However, two of our first generation of Persona-users have been living here for a few years, and not far from one another. This is where we're hoping to get our answers."
"That makes sense to a point," 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, "It would even make sense in a place as big as America."
"Indeed," said Margaret, "But to answer your question, Naoto...the one who first summoned Nyarlathotep into this world was a Japanese CEO. That is what one of the first people gifted with Persona-summoning told our present contact years ago. He was even previously acquainted with that man."
"Have you managed to contact that Persona-user?" 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. Even our present contact is struggling to connect with him."
"Just use social networking," Ken suggested.
"I'm aware of social networking," said Margaret with a hint of frustration, "I just don't understand computers for the life of me."
"Why not summon him here 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 throw away perfectly good table," she remarked, "Now I not have to eat off za floor, and that- aiyah!"
She had turned around and jumped in surprise as she now saw everyone sitting before her.
"Welcome back, Lisa," 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 fluent 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.
And her English is full of grammatical errors...Naoto thought, but Ken's right. She speaks Japanese like a native!
"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. "It's 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 Silverman 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 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, "Japan's 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 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..."