AN: Welcome to Persona Duality. This is an original story based on the Persona series, that isn't set in any of the settings of the current games. And thus, all the major characters that appear are entirely of my own creation. Please give this story a chance regardless, though. This is the start of the prologue, which will be five chapters long. After that, every story arc will consist of ten chapters each. Please read and review, and let me know what you think. And thanks in advance!
All of the characters and events in this story are pure fiction. Any similarity they may have to real life people or events is purely co-incidental. The Shin Megami Tensei series belongs to ATLUS.
SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI
Prologue: A New Motion Begins
The smallest of events can completely change the fate of our world.
People will always wonder 'what if', forever reflecting on the past.
Regardless, there is only one path one can take down the flow of time.
Yet, what if one did the impossible, and changed the events of the past?
The flow of reality would change rapidly, no matter how little the events changed.
Thus, two flows of time begin. As time passes, each stream grows more and more different.
As of now, neither river of fate could meet. Alas, now is the time.
Now is the time for unconnected souls to be linked, as they cross the river. The other side will be completely alien to them.
They will face hardship, and a power will come from within them. With that power, they will be capable of averting a disastrous fate.
The two flows, if left unchecked, by collide. If this comes to pass, reality itself will be forever lost.
All I can do is bear witness to their plight.
Chapter 1: A Strange Fortune
|June 7th 2012|New Motus City - Farawell District - Falcon View Apartments|8:29 am|
The shrill beeping of the alarm clock pierced through the woman's heavy slumber. Before she had gone to sleep the previous night, she had been hoping to rise before it rang. As ever, she did not. Angrily, she smacked the alarm clock, and unplugged it. She did have a good reason to get up early, however. After all, today was the first day of her first job after graduation.
The months she spent searching and applying were long and tedious. Yet, her positive outlook got her through that period. It had done so for much of her life, especially during that last year of college. As she started to get dressed, she looked at the framed graduation photograph that was on her desk. There she was, in her robes. And her name was there in golden letters. Amara Furaha. Her brown skin and facial features were proof of her heritage, for she was not born in this city. Rather, she had moved here from Egypt as a child. This place had become her new home, however. And she was proud to live and work here.
After putting on her clothes - a purple tank top and blue jeans - she opened the curtains, and smiled. The bright sunshine enveloped the glorious city before her eyes. New Motus City, a massive metropolis built upon the island of Motus. The countless buildings before her eyes overshadowed her apartment complex easily, and the citizens were already walking through the streets. Living in such a vast, beautiful city had only helped her optimistic views on life. Of course, life had been easy for her so far - her father owned a fairly successful oil corporation, after all.
"Dad...I hope this goes well." Amara said, smiling at another photograph. This one was of her as a teenage girl, her arm around her proud father. The one person she could count on, no matter what. Despite promises of sticking together, her college friends had grown apart from her after graduation. But that was alright. She would always have her father's love. And what was stopping her from making friends at Real People? Nothing at all.
Real People was an upcoming magazine that had already garnered interest. It's purpose was to reach out to younger people, and give them real advice. It was not to teach them to become people they weren't, but to just be real people capable of real goals in life. And that was something Amara could readily support. Her job was to be an artist for this magazine - and art was what she loved most. Her apartment was covered with pencils, paintbrushes, paper, and other implements.
She put her black hair into a ponytail, but as she looked at it in the mirror, she frowned. She had trouble getting her hair neat and tidy. Hopefully, Real People's staff wouldn't mind. Her blue eyes, an unusual trait for someone of her race, looked tired. Hopefully some coffee would perk her up. It took her some time to get breakfast, however, due to the mess of her kitchen. Mysteriously, her art tools had wound up here as well. Sighing, she pushed aside the collection of sharpened coloured pencils, and made herself a coffee.
All she could think about now was making the best possible impression at work. But when she saw a peculiar article on the old magazine on the table, she gulped. "Dream Analysis? Maybe I could have used that..."
Dreams had always eluded Amara. Try as she might, she never had any she could clearly recall. Yet only a few days ago, she had one unlike any other. It was of her in an empty space, constantly falling. Nothing around for her to see. But she had definitely heard voices, each calling her name. How many? Three, Amara thought. She didn't recognise those voices whatsoever. But during that dream, she was relived to hear each of them. The last part of the dream was just as peculiar. After hearing the three people calling her name, she saw someone else come into view. Filled with relief, she called out that person's name. After she woke up that day, however, that person's name was lost.
"Who was that guy? Or was it a girl?" Amara said out loud. "I can't think about freaky dreams today...I've got work to do!" Hurriedly drinking the cheap coffee, she greedily finished the rest of her breakfast, grabbed her bag, and rushed downstairs.
|Scarlet Street|8:30 am|
This was Scarlet Street, named so because of an architect's penchant for red bricks. In fact, the Falcon View Apartment Complex stood out for having a beige exterior. Yet try as she might, Amara couldn't get the dream out of her head. Falling endlessly, people calling for her...where had this even come from?
She finally reached the bus stop, where the only other passenger was an old woman. As the red and blue No. 14 bus arrived, Amara politely let the senior on first, her thoughts still on the brink of that dream. For a few seconds, she hesitated, staring blankly ahead.
"Hey miss, you awake yet?" The driver, a man of around thirty asked. He had a prominent goatee, and looked rather muscular. However, he also had a jovial smile. "Even pretty chicks like you gotta pay your fare!"
Amara quickly gave him the money, embarrassed. He chuckled, and Amara hurriedly made her way to the back of the bus.
Stupid dreams! Come on, think about the job, think about the job...
|No. 14 Bus|8:38 am|
Amara felt a little better after she sat down on the comfy red seat. To her relief, she had managed to sit at the window, to the left. The bus service of New Motus City was still as popular as ever, with plenty of other routes operating within Amara's sight. Now the bus had reached the highly commercial Legarte district. It crossed over the Silvana Bridge, looking over the river that led to the bustling harbour. Amara smiled as she gazed on the city's reflection on the water. It was just like her first day in this city, when she was seven years old.
Amara was a bright and cheerful child, and this had helped her make many friends in Cairo. So when her parents told her they were moving permanently to another country, she couldn't bear it. She must have thrown countless tantrums, all to stay in her home. Finally, she broke down in tears as she was carried onto the plane. Being a child, she didn't understand why she had to go. She even took to pounding on the airplane window, in the vain hopes she could jump out and go back home. When they finally left the airport, she finally got a good look at the city. The fury that burned in her chest slowly faded when she looked at the immense skyscrapers before her. Crowds of people lined the streets, and the shining Silvana River carried grand vessels, the kind she had only read about.
"Well, Amara, do you still want to go home?" Amara's father, Rudo, asked her. Her mother had pointed to the Caramathia Department Store as they headed towards Nova Albion, the most opulent and aristocratic area of the city. Her father was a rather rich man, having just become the leader of a successful oil company. Yet, he always had time to spend with his 'favourite women' - not so he could have a good reputation, but because he genuinely wanted his daughter to grow up happy. That was what drove him to success, or so he often told her.
"Not anymore! Daddy, this place is great! I can't wait to see my new school!" Her parents smiled, as the young Amara smiled, taking in the sights. She had seen pictures of the city before, but seeing everything in person was just so much more inviting. "But can I really make new friends here? I miss everyone back home." she asked. Her dad nodded, and gave Amara a warm hug. Then, he held her hand, and said...
"Amara, of course you can. You'll meet tons of people like you here. You'll have so many things to write to your old friends about. One day in this city, you'll be able to fulfil your dreams. Whatever those dreams are, you can make them happen in this city. I promise."
Fourteen years had passed since then, and even though she no longer lived with her father, she still took every word he said to heart. Perhaps now, she could fulfill her dreams of being an artist. She gradually lost contact with her old friends, but she had made many new ones throughout her life. Even one very special man...but that relationship ended in heartbreak. That had been a few months back - now she was looking forward to a new chapter in her life. Hopefully, she could meet good people at her job, and it wouldn't be as demeaning as her job at the milkshake stand. She never wanted to be asked how much the 'One Dollar Special' cost again.
Just as the bus was at the end of the bridge, Amara thought one of the teenagers getting on the bus was staring at her. A tall blonde girl, with a strange, almost mystical necklace.
I'm sure I've seen something like it before. Maybe it was on sale in Rosa Candida. Perhaps it'd look nice when I'm partying with my new colleagues!
She was with a boy, who had messy black hair and glasses, and was in a wheelchair. Amara listened to them talking. It was silly, but there was the chance they had noticed something on Amara's face she hadn't. Alas, they seemed to be having a spirited conversation about chemistry homework. Amara shrugged, and continued to stare out the window. Smiling at the children screaming for their parents to buy them novelty balloons, she had a good feeling about going to her new job. She would see to it that her father's wishes came true.
|Motion Publishing - Real People Offices|8:59|
Amara's neck hurt as she looked up. Here she was, standing in front of the Motion Publishing premises. Until today, she had only passed it on the bus or whilst walking by. The building had over twenty stories, and within each were a countless number of magazine and newspaper teams, big and small. Now she had the chance to walk through those doors, and join these talented people. Her heart soared. Real Publishing may be new, and their offices were rather small, but Amara couldn't care less. To just be here, and work here was incredible. A tremendous start to a wonderful career, she hoped.
She gazed at the city again, as she got into the glass elevator. So many people were next to her, some on their phones, some looking rather afraid of something. Amara was relieved that none of these people were looking at her. And yet, she felt like she was being watched. None of the others were interested in her at all, though.
I'm just nervous, that's all. I have to make a good first impression.
Amara got off at the fourteenth floor, and soon saw her destination. A bright blue carpet, albeit with gum stuck on it in some spots, and white walls covered in papers and posters...it had a good vibe to it. Not too pretentious. Just like Amara preferred. As she walked further in, she saw someone come out of an office and wave at her. This was a tall woman, older than Amara, with brunette hair in a bun. She was the only one dressed in smart clothes - a black shirt and skirt. Her blue eyes lit up, as she recognised Amara. This was Karen Marshall, the editor of Real People.
"Good morning, Ms Marshall." Amara said, walking over. "I'm not late, am I?"
"Not at all." Karen said, with a polite tone of voice. "Good to see you again. Remember our interview in the employment agency? You did promise you would be punctual. I like a girl who keeps her promises." They shook hands, and both women smiled. "Feel free to call me Karen, by the way. Ms Marshall sounds like a stuffy schoolteacher." Karen gestured for Amara to follow her, and they were at the other desks. "Now then, let me introduce you to your colleagues."
"Oh!" A young lady with blonde pigtails, blue eyes, and a child-like, innocent face, stood up. "It's super nice to meet you! I'm Colette! I'm gonna be writing the fashion articles, so come to me if you need help with your wardrobe!" Amara glanced at the outfit Colette was wearing. The white top and blue skirt looked brand new. It wouldn't have been a surprise if they had been purchased that very morning. Amara smiled, and shook Colette's hand.
She seems nice. But my wardrobe's fine. An artist works on their paintings, not themselves!
"Pleased to meet ya." A black haired man said. He had a Hispanic look to him. He wore a denim jacket, over a red shirt, depicting a fiery wolf. "I'm Juan. I'm a travel guy. I've been everywhere, trust me. Paris, Mexico, South Africa, Tokyo...but I gotta tell ya, nothing's better than being back home in Brazil. Oh, and this place too, of course. It's cool being surrounded by beautiful ladies."
Wait. He's the only guy here? Oh well. Hopefully, he can hit on Colette instead of me...she seems more his type.
"Juan, don't scare her off like that." A blue haired woman said. She glared at Juan, but soon gave Amara a warm smile. She wore a flashy black and blue striped shirt, with some jeans and sneakers. "My name is Sheila. My field is relationships. Mostly romantic...but if you're hoping to score with us, Juan, I won't be giving any advice."
"Oh come ON!" Juan whined. "I'm not a pervert! I think..."
She's a romance expert? Maybe I could have asked for her help in April. Would have saved me a lot of tears.
Karen chuckled. "Looks like we're going to get on fine. Moving on. This here is the assistant editor, and therefore my right hand woman." Karen pointed to a brunette, with brown eyes to match. She had a long sleeved pink shirt, complete with many different pens in the pocket. She glanced at Amara, but didn't even smile. Not even a 'hello'. All she had was an air of annoyance. Perhaps Colette, Sheila, and Juan were bothering her. Or she detested this casual environment. "Lucy, are you not going to introduce yourself?"
Huh. She seems like a barrel of laughs.
"I'm Lucy." Amara offered her hand, but Lucy didn't even move hers. Karen smiled, and pointed to the next girl.
Now this one really stood out from the others. Amara looked at her from top to bottom, and scratched her head. Her hair was turquoise, partially covered by an oddly fetching purple turban. Also in her bizarre ensemble were a black and purple cloak, and shoes with purple skull emblems on them. To complete this getup were a pair of black gloves.
What the hell is this girl thinking? That's not a work outfit. Is she some sort of company mascot? She's like some kinda witch...
"Hello there...Miss Amara." The lady said. Her voice was almost enchanting...and even though she had only uttered a brief sentence, it echoed within Amara's ears. Her piercing purple eyes stared right into Amara's, and never faltered. Amara shivered. Whoever this girl was, she was not a regular journalist.
"This is Stella Cleon. She writes our Psychic Corner section." Karen said, with great enthusiasm. "You might have heard of her store in Kanaloa."
Now that she mentioned it, I saw leaflets with her name on them before. She's supposed to predict the future without fail. So this is Stella Cleon, the true psychic.
Amara stared at Stella, unsure what to say. Stella just smiled, with a glint in her eyes. So Stella had decided to find employment here, outside the rough and rowdy environment of Kanaloa. Why at this magazine, though? How was Amara supposed to relax with someone like her around? Her mind could be read at any second...
"Thing is, I didn't intend to have a psychic corner in my magazine at all." Karen said. Amara looked at her boss, and frowned. "What? Whilst I was conducting interviews, Stella approached me, and gave me an absolutely spot on reading. And there's no way she could have been told stuff by my friends - she knew things I haven't told anyone! So I decided. I'm going to have a genuine psychic work on my magazine, to give it that edge. She can really reach out to our readers this way. I'm sure you'll all get along, trust me."
"Of...course, Karen! it's...nice to meet you!" Amara said, feeling nervous. She had not foreseen working with a psychic. Yet if Stella was truly psychic, she would have seen this coming. No one else seemed to mind Stella's strange attire. Perhaps they had been to her psychic parlour before. Kanaloa was a rather rough area, known for violence and drunkards, so she hadn't looked around before. Stella's apperance, however outlandish, did not fit in with the image of Kanaloa in Amara's mind. Hopefully, there wouldn't be any trouble. "Let's all work hard, and make this magazine a success!"
"I can see you don't need any motivational speeches. You heard her, everyone. Get to work. Our first issue will be out next week, remember. I want it to be absolutely perfect, no exceptions." With that, Karen walked into her office. Amara started to ease into the atmosphere a little, and look out her favourite drawing tools. Among them was a picture of her and her former boyfriend.
Why do I still have this? I thought I decided I wasn't going to think about him again...
Quickly, Amara hid the picture in her pocket and got to work. Lucille spent most of the time looking at everyone's work, making sure everything was just the way she wanted it. Every time she criticised something Amara did, she felt the urge to slap her. She never did like being told how to draw. Actually, she hated people trying to control her in general. Freedom was something very dear to Amara, and she wanted to hold on to it as much as she could.
"You know, I wasn't sure about this job at first, but I checked Karen out. Turns out she's done a lot of journalism work in the past." Colette said. "And she has such great taste in clothing! Oh my god, I must get fashion tips from her!" Amara politely laughed, but she was more interested in Stella. She quietly typed on her computer, whilst occasionally shutting her eyes. Is she for real? Juan was eagerly discussing his own travels to Bratislava, but for some reason the idea of pork dumplings with sheep's cheese didn't take her mind off Stella.
Finally, it was five o'clock, and time to go home.
"Have a good evening, everyone. You all worked well today. This is the standard you have to keep if you want to keep coming back..." Karen said, as she left the office.
Colette and Juan said bye to Amara, and the former gave Amara her phone number, in case they ever wanted to hang out. It was too hard to turn down someone so relentlessly cheerful. Lucy just gave them a dirty look, and left in silence. Amara hadn't planned on befriending her, anyway. Checking her messages, she had several from her father - mostly of them good luck messages, a few silly jokes about the clients he was dealing with today - but not any others. Before Amara could leave as well, someone grabbed her arm.
"Patience. I need only a moment. Do not leave just yet."
"Hey, what's going on?" Amara said.
Stella had halted Amara's departure, but didn't answer the question. Amara just stared, no longer smiling. Stella looked serious. Amara looked around, hoping someone else would intervene, but everyone else was leaving. Crap, I'm trapped in an office with a weird psychic woman. This is not cool. Is she going to trap me in a mirror?
"Amara Furaha. From the moment we met, you have been sceptical. You try to ignore what you cannot explain, instead only concentrating on what you can see. Indeed...out of all of the people you have met today, you have singled me out as the 'weirdo'. That, Amara, is something I have had no choice but to accept. Alas, I know neither of us can leave until I perform a reading on you. The cosmos speaks through me, beyond the physical dimensions. It is destiny." she said. Amara just sighed, annoyed. "Sit down. This is free of charge, by the way. Put aside your purse." Stella said. Amara had made absolutely no move to get it.
"What - come on, do we have to do this now?" Amara said. "Alright, let's get this over with. I'm not sure I believe this stuff, and I want to talk to my dad." Sitting down on the chair Amara had already spent hours sketching at, she waited for whatever fortune-telling implement Stella was going to bring out. "So, what are you gonna use? Crystal ball? Cards? Crystals? Or can you tell my future using tea leaves?"
Stella looked aghast, like someone had burnt her turban. "I understand your lack of faith. Do not complain. I will clear any of your doubts soon enough. That, I can feel. Now, hold out your hand. Today, my insight is as clear as summer's sky." The hell is this? She took Amara's palm, and began moving her own hand over it, eyes closed. A few uncomfortable seconds passed. Stella suddenly gasped.
"What?!" Amara shouted. "You okay?!"
"Amara Furaha. You are the bearer of The Sun, one of boundless optimism. Today, the seventh day of the sixth month, is the day fate conspires to have you meet the shadows of untold darkness." Stella said, in a trance. Amara stared at her, in disbelief.
Is this some kind of pep talk?
"Only by embracing your inner self can you pierce through the darkness. You are not alone, either. Others will be burdened with this ordeal as well. One who maintains a genuine Strength, and one touched by The Moon's pale light. Tonight, Amara, is the night you will open the door, and venture into another world!" Stella's voiced boomed through the office.
"Um..." Amara was about to question this premonition, but Stella suddenly stood up. Shaking, she gave Amara one of her cards, with the logo for her psychic parlour on it. "You okay?"
"I'm not sure. I've never had such a clear reading before. Yet it was so vague. Amara, I do apologise. I've got a bad feeling about this. I'm ashamed to have to say this, but I have no idea what this all means. ...Goodnight. Take care." Without further explanation, Stella dashed outside, and Amara just sat there, lost for words. Finally, she put the card in her bag, and shrugged. Staring out the window for a while, she tried to forget about the reading and focus on something innocuous like the rain, or replying to her father's messages.
"Damn! Why does she have to act so weird?!" Amara shouted. No matter how she tried, her mind kept wandering to the reading. "Inner self? Another world? What the bloody hell does that mean? Am I gonna have another dream? Ugh!" Amara shuddered at the though of another nightmare. The one of her falling through endless darkness was bad enough. What could be worse than that? Stella said she had a bad feeling, but Amara just wanted to forget about the incident. Frustrated, she stormed out of the office and started to head home, hoping for a normal night.
Yet, tonight would be nothing but normal.