2.Q – Death is Not a Hunter Unbeknownst to Its Prey
An Author's Note
As Persona 5 has finally been announced, I suppose that if there was any time to give some sort of an update on the status of this story it would be now.
Reverse Rebirth is permanently discontinued. And so definitively so that I'm going to take the opportunity to not only explain why it's being discontinued, but more or less explain where the story was going to go from where it stopped.
The reasons are pretty much the usual deal, but I'll explain them both in depth:
One, this story grew completely out of my control. I originally had this planned out as a more SMT-like Persona story that wouldn't really be anything all that long. I was going to treat it like an SMT Law Route and if it was well received I'd go with a Chaos and Neutral Route. But as I set up the groundwork for the story I ended up adding far too many things and couldn't decide which to take out. I eventually settled on the complicated mess that ended up being depicted in what has been posted so far. I went significantly further, but this story ended up becoming complicated to the point where not only did I not have the time to continue writing it (despite having given myself a huge gap between Parts 1 and 2) but ended up losing the motivation to do so. Once Part 3 would have started, I would essentially be starting from square one with a newer batch of characters and have to develop things all over again. I could essentially seeing myself going on and on with this pretty much endlessly, which is why I cut Part 2 as short as I did and went on hiatus. Without telling anyone.
Two, the audience shriveled up and died. The complexity of it, while intriguing to some, most certainly alienated more people than I'd consider the story worth continuing past the drafting phase for. While I'm no stranger to stagnating review numbers, it got to the point where the audience following this story, while starting out significantly larger than anything else I've done to date, fell through the floor so much faster. I can sort of align this drop with the bit where Labrys outright murders Akihiko and what followed, namely the 'everyone dies except for Ken and Fuuka' conclusion to the first part, which I could definitely see putting off some people. This is more or less the most important bit – I had no intention of completing this story for only one person to read through, especially when the amount of time I can put into these sorts of things gets smaller and smaller almost every day.
So with that out of the way, I might as well go ahead and spoil the rest of this story for what it's worth the way it is now. I'm going to be explaining almost everything. In detail.
Part 2 was more or less going to go how I set it up to go – Souji would fight each of the horsemen one by one until fighting White Rider, who would turn out to be the reanimated corpse of Hisano's husband. White Rider would flee from battle and return several times throughout Part 2, eventually culminating in the aforementioned reveal.
Souji would continue through the usual Inaba thing while his increasingly unhealthy relationship with Yukiko would develop, while at the same time gradually falling in love with Marie. Over the course of that time he would become drinking buddies with Adachi and Namatame at the Shiroku Bar and as such would get to know Adachi that much better than he does in the canon series. When December comes around and Adachi is found out Souji starts having doubts about Adachi's candidacy for the culprit.
While this is going on, Yosuke and Naoto actually start dating due to significant character development between the two, but end up breaking things off when Naoto convinces herself that she isn't right for Yosuke, and due to a bond she'd formed on her own with Chie, who she knew cared more than she let on for Yosuke, leaves him for their sake. Despite this Naoto becomes pregnant mid-December with Yamato – over the course of Part 1 she was always pregnant, but simply never narrated so. The extreme delay in Yamato's birth is a result of the spatial distortion that occurred in Inaba. In essence Yamato never should have been born in the first place but eventually propagated anyhow.
When the Investigation Team follows him, he ends up going all out and kills Chie, who dies protecting Yosuke, an event that causes Yosuke's Susano-o to transform into the screwed up one he fights Naoto with in Part 1 and sort of sets in place the mentality that eventually leads him to becoming King Leo. Souji then confronts Adachi alone, wins, but more or less calls Adachi out on not being the killer. There's another human involved – I'm not going to say who explicitly for other reasons, but it would've been completely out of left field and forced Souji to seriously consider how valuable the truth is.
In the aftermath of that battle, we cut to Christmas Eve where Teddie appears at the Dojima Residence in his human form, and very suddenly stabs Souji to death. Yes, this would have happened without warning. We then pick up with Yu Narukami, who then wakes up inside the TV on the studio stage.
It would have turned out that there was something going on outside of the whole Izanami plot. Teddie, of all people, reintroduces himself as the new antagonist, implying that he is an avatar of Lucifer. This is more or less done to provide some dark humor on an oddly popular theory that made its debut on TV Tropes awhile back.
It's then explained why I kept going back and forth between the names in what I released of Part 2 – the protagonist from 4 is essentially stuck in an endless time loop, living out the events of that year in Inaba until he either died or left the town on the train, no matter the protagonist forgets everything upon the start of the next cycle, while Teddie's memories persist to the point where he has been driven clinically insane by the endlessness of the cycle.
We then get into the identity of M. Throughout Part 2 M would consistently summon Personas for Souji at random out of the Wild Chronicle, each being one of the archangels. This is because M himself is Mastema, an angel introduced to the series in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey and more recently used in SMT4.
This then gets into how all the mainline SMT games are interconnected into the story. After the events of the True Demon Ending in SMT3/Nocturne, the Demi-fiend and Lucifer wage an all-out war with YHVH, a battle that they lose. The Demi-fiend is destroyed entirely and Lucifer is stripped of his wings and cast down, but is unable to cross into the Abyss as Izanami has awoken and sealed Yomotsu Hirasaka completely (Persona 3 and 4 are explain as having only Shadows as opposed to demons because of this).
Mastema, having recently achieved his angel status and wishing to become an archangel, attempts to impress YHVH and foolishly pursues Lucifer in order to ensure that he could never rise up as the Demon King ever again. In the following battle, Mastema is beaten and sealed within the rock wall of the Samegawa Floodplain, but Lucifer is unable to maintain his physical form, having lost the majority of his power and is unable to cross entirely into the Abyss. He degenerates into a Shadow form that retains just enough of Lucifer's consciousness to slowly become self aware again, eventually becoming Teddie.
Teddie's memories of his existence as Lucifer returned to him when on one of the many cycles of Souji's year in Inaba when he comes into contact with Igor in the Velvet Room, who for the sake of escaping from the time loop himself reawakens him. Before this point in time the true ending of Persona 4 was impossible for the various Soujis to achieve – as on paths before this Teddie would never return to locate Adachi within the TV.
It is then established that the time loop was put in place by Philemon, who wished to calm the imbalance between law and chaos in Inaba by creating Souji himself, a replica of a younger Steven (the primary neutral character of the early SMT games and most recently appearing in 4), to impose perfect neutrality. But in almost every cycle Souji pursues the truth all the way to the end and brings everything out into the open, leaning almost entirely on the Chaotic path, thus attracting Teddie's attention. Philemon eventually makes use of the amnesiac Mastema to try to balance Souji's chaotic nature with law, leading to the events shown in Part 2.
Teddie's overall plan was to essentially rebuild his demon army from scratch, starting with creating a new Demi-fiend. Once his plan was put into motion he closely observed the protagonists of every timeline and searched and searched for the strongest one. Yu Narukami, the protagonist who would have gained the ultimate form of Izanagi earlier than any other incarnation, was the one he found most suitable. Souji Dojima, the Souji that Teddie inexplicably kills, apparently diverged from the normal path the various Soujis had taken (discovered the true culprit, dealt with Izanami earlier, etc.) as Yu Narukami had, but was in fact far weaker than any other Souji and as such was deemed obsolete.
Teddie more or less offers Yu the powers of the Demi-fiend, in other words, the power to both escape the time loop and take Marie with him, but at the price of having to kill all of his friends. At this point Yu is emotionally distraught enough over certain events that he agrees reluctantly. He is unable to kill Yukiko, however, his bond with her being far too strong, and with her insisting he almost caves in altogether, but White Rider appears one final time and kills her himself, causing Yu to more or less go completely nuts and become the new beholder of Lucifer's fighting spirit.
Prior to Teddie's reveal, Marie had managed to free Mastema of his bindings and removed the mask that kept his memories at bay. Immediately upon recalling his identity he kills Marie on the spot, as she is a goddess of a pagan faith, and proceeds above to finish off Lucifer once and for all.
He then battles Mastema to the death on Lucifer's behalf and manages to pull Marie out of the Abyss before she can fall through completely, but in doing so Marie is left in a skeletal state, but at the same time as the fog begins to lift from Inaba with the time loop ending she begins to truly revive, and as established reviving Izanami will destroy the barrier between the human and demon realms. Yu manages to mitigate the damages by sealing Marie within Izanami's tomb (where the fight with the goddess Izanami takes place in this timeline), leaving the world in its current partial-Megami Tensei state, but while he does so Teddie reassumes his demonic form and raises his castle out of the Abyss, destroying all of Magatsu Inaba and at the same time wiping Inaba itself from all time and space. Having been tricked into doing several unforgivable things Yu attempts to repent for his actions by saving as many people as he is able. Naoto and Yosuke are the only two who survived Yu's rampage and manage to make it out of Inaba alive, but their memories are severely impaired and the events leading up to Part 1 more or less are set in stone.
The now half-Lucifer half-human Yu guards Izanami's tomb with everything he has. As Lucifer still lacks his Demi-Fiend, he is unable to begin his conquest of the human world, and so he waits for the moment Yu's determination falters. If Marie's coffin were ever to be opened the barrier keeping the Abyss and the human world from completely intersecting would completely shatter and all life on earth would end in the ensuing chaos. In essence, the events of Reverse Rebirth thus far are entirely Yu's fault.
Ken decides to help him maintain the barrier, and Yu sends him, along with Fuuka and Raidou, to confront the resurrected Minato and subdue him. Yu claims that with Erebus' soul it would be possible to force Yomotsu Hirasaka completely shut. They lose. Badly. Ken loses his legs and Fuuka gets blown away completely. Raidou dies too, but not before letting us know that she's actually Nanako, who managed to survive Inaba's destruction and is the way she is now due to that key event from Part 2 that I'm not mentioning. Ken only survives due to Nobunaga's sudden appearance – Minato more or less destroys Nobunaga's mask entirely, but Nobunaga manages to bring him to a stalemate before escaping with Ken.
Nobunaga would, at this point, be revealed to be the Female Protagonist from Persona 3 (Hamuko, Minako, whatever you feel like calling her), who goes by the name Aradia, a deity from Shin Megami Tensei III who presides over the realm of those who should not exist. It turns out that there are actually several thousand Nobunagas, each one being a warrior of that realm, who were all led by Mastema in his fight with Lucifer in the Abyss. Aradia was essentially the princess of that realm.
Mastema was once a man named Rengoku who, with a man named Akira reached the realm of non-existence after the events of the Law Ending of Shin Megami Tensei IV, completely barren of all memory regarding their pasts. Akira is deemed inhumanly strong, while Rengoku is a far more fragile individual. Where Akira is Flynn, protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei IV, Rengoku is essentially what is left of Jonathan, the Law Hero of Shin Megami Tensei IV, after separating from the four archangels.
Aradia and her people were suffering from two major crisis – the demons that had invaded their land, and the slow de-resolution of their very beings – in essence, the people of the realm were slowly losing all perception of themselves and were slowly degenerating into Shadows, while those who could hold on to their identities were being devoured by the demons. Rengoku, who makes contact with YHVH and vows to serve him, goes about saving these people by creating a symbol for all of them to rally behind and uses Akira's strength to give structure to his ideals. The image of Nobunaga is created when Akira becomes the first Nobunaga, named after the Japanese emperor of the same name who Akira recalled feeling strongly about. Akira dies in a large scale battle with the demon force, but does not die in vain. Rengoku manages to use Akira's sacrifice as a weapon to spur the people, and before too long thousands of the desperate people had taken up the mask and struck back against the demon force, wiping them all out in a single battle.
For his service in eradicating the demon force, YHVH grants Rengoku the status of an angel and grants him the name Mastema. Mastema then brings YHVH's influence upon Aradia's people, who are willing to do whatever he says. The realm of non-existence then becomes almost a mirror image of YHVH's perfect society, and under the guise of Nobunaga the people are able to live on without fear of reverting into a Shadow state.
All is well until Mastema begins to connect with Aradia. One day she feels as though she trusts him enough to entrust the story of her past to him – in essence, Aradia's story is identical to that of the normal Hamuko, but upon becoming one with the Great Seal she was cast from all time and space by YHVH, who favored Minato for his greater strength. But through sheer force of will she managed to preserve her existence by becoming one with Nyarlathahotep, the Crawling Chaos, banished from time and space similarly, who resides within her and maintains her consciousness and physical form at the cost of being unable to come into physical contact with another human being. It is Nyarlathahotep's power that allows Aradia to reap the souls of human beings.
Learning of her sacrifice, and learning of the nature in which YHVH had cast her aside for her male counterpart despite both having lived the exact same life and having died for the same purpose, Mastema begins to question YHVH's divine judgment. Going against his vows, Mastema falls in love with Aradia and marries her. YHVH, enraged by Mastema's disobedience, sends the four archangels from heaven to strip him of his wings.
The realm of non-existence is thrown into complete chaos as the Nobuanga army is overwhelmed by the angelic force. Most are blown away completely while others are scattered to the winds of time and space. Aradia vanishes in such a way and Mastema, having her torn away from him, begs YHVH for forgiveness. YHVH does so, but Mastema is deemed unworthy to ever become an Archangel. Mastema refuses to accept this and, gathering what remained of the Nobunaga army, when the battle with Lucifer eventually occurs, Mastema leads his army into the Abyss to kill the fallen angel once and for all in hopes of once again receiving YHVH's favor, but his army fails him as most question the integrity of Mastema and his devotion to YHVH. The army is destroyed solely by Lucifer, and the rest is history.
Aradia remains trapped in limbo, but manages to slip back into the time space continuum when Lucifer raises his castle, being dropped into modern Tokyo along with Yosuke, Nanako and Naoto. As the last Nobunaga, she vows to destroy the establishment wherever it reared its face and began to hunt down other Persona users in hopes that she could one day dethrone Lucifer and take back her freedom. Nobunaga's mask keeps the emotions left over from her life as Hamuko at bay. Without the mask, killing the people she cared about would be impossible.
In her battle with her former teammates, Akihiko cracks her mask, causing some of Hamuko's instable emotions to leak through. Her emotional reaction causes Nyarlathahotep within her to go out of control, the following frenzy killing Aigis in the process. As Hamuko, Aradia had loved Aigis as a sister and had gone into the battle intending to leave her alive.
We then get into the events of Part 1. In the aftermath of this event, Aradia encounters Elizabeth, who despite having gained the power of the Fool has lost all hope of ever releasing Minato from the Great Seal. Aradia takes Elizabeth under her wing, noting that if she were to free her other half from the Great Seal and join his soul to hers, she would effectively be strong enough to stand against YHVH on her own. When the proper number of souls is acquired Aradia and Elizabeth attempt to shatter the seal and use the collected soul mass to replace Minato and succeed, but Minato has long since opened his heart to Erebus and the two combine. The battle that ensues nearly kills Elizabeth and Aradia loses Nobunaga's mask to keep her emotions at bay, and Minato escapes to wreak havoc. Elizabeth then learns of Aradia's story in full, vowing to stick by her no matter what.
At the end of Part 2, Aradia's plan was to attack Minato on the new moon, when Erebus' strength would be almost non-existence, but Yu mobilizes too quickly, forcing her to act spontaneously. Ken ends up being the only survivor, and in essence Aradia is out of Persona users to rely upon. When Minato attacks her, he not only destroys the mask of Nobunaga but also rips Nyarlathahotep from her, leaving only Hamuko behind. Hamuko begins to fade away, the power maintaining her physical form having been taken from her, but Ken acknowledges her existence, claiming that even though they didn't share the same past he understood her as well as he understood Minato, somehow granting her a tangible form. Hamuko and Ken flee to Muladhara, the underground city created by other citizens of the realm of non-existence that managed to find their way back into time and space, where Ken is given mechanical body parts to replace the ones he lost.
Hamuko claims that a counterattack will be possible as long as they wait for the right moment, but as this is all going on, Yu is revealed to have had an agenda of his own. Simply put, Yu knew about pretty much everything beforehand, including Nobunaga's identity, having assumed Mastema into himself upon defeating him. He planned on drawing Nobunaga into the open and into a scenario where Nyarlathahotep could be stolen from her. With the Crawling Chaos free from an isolated point, Yu is now able to channel it to finally restore Marie's full physical form.
He throws his fight with Yosuke, who then opens Marie's tomb and is promptly swallowed whole by the corpse inside. Marie, now having assimilated Yosuke's body into her own, is allowed to once again take her goddess form, rising from the tomb as a revived Izanami. Reviving her completely completes the Megami Tensei and Lucifer is allowed passage into the human world even without a Demi-Fiend.
Izanami condemns Yu for his actions, demanding that he explain himself. Yu claims that overtime he came to the realization that Izanami was the only individual who he could ever bring himself to truly care about, and that even though she had loved humanity he did what he did without a second thought because he had the opportunity to be with her again, and that humanity itself could burn eternally as the light that symbolizes his love. Izanami eventually acknowledges the immoral condition to his feelings but ultimately accepts them, claiming that even if thousands die, millions will be born anyhow, now having fully come to terms with the tragedy that had caused her separation from her other half in the first place.
Yu has, in essence, become the perfect neutral being Philemon had desired all along, and from this point forward becomes irrelevant to the story. He's done his part, and he's willing to live with what he's done.
Part 3 would then pick up from here, with the story having gone full-SMT. The story would advance several years into the future where Lucifer's legions and Minato's YHVH-acquired angels battle for world domination – Minato wishes to strike humanity from the face of the earth, while Lucifer refuses to abandon the human race as is part of his nature and instead seeks to rule them himself. Yamato, Naoto's son, becomes the protagonist and is the first of the final four.
The final four, who are destined to deliver the world to a new, unknown future, come in the form of several new characters, all of which are children of established characters. Yamato, Naoto and Yosuke's son, is the Hero. The young girl that Ken spotted in Part 1's conclusion is Ryoma, Yukiko and Yu's daughter, who is born from the dying Yukiko in the Abyss itself, is the Heroine. Miaka, Mitsuru and Akihiko's daughter, is the Law Hero, who fights alongside Minato's angels. Yoshitsuna, an anti-Shadow weapon created from Aigis' remains and is essentially Hamuko and Ken's son, is the Chaos Hero, who desires to become human more than anything else, straying from the proper path several times over the course of the story.
Part 3 and 4 are more or less the same thing – Yamato and company seek to return the earth to its original state and battle both demonic hordes and angelic legions to do so. All awhile Lucifer seeks to turn Yamato into his Demi-Fiend and at the end of Part 3 succeeds, but Yamato's bonds with those he cares about leads him to turning on and finally defeating Lucifer once and for all.
The end of Part 4 has Yamato and Ryoma challenging the angelic Minato directly, and while Ryoma dies in a vain attempt to blow Minato up Yamato manages to separate Minato from Erebus and devours Erebus himself. Overcome by the pure essence of human malice Yamato turns into the beast Erebus and while virtually all traces of Yamato himself are obliterated Erebus retains his desire to kill Minato. The two battle and Minato ultimately wins, using YHVH's flaming sword to erase Erebus from all time and space. But by doing so, Minato has wielded YHVH's power to destroy a component of free will, and eliminates all malice from the human heart, including his own, thus eliminating his drive to continue living. He simply stands there in a dormant state for all eternity.
The story ends with those that survived the chaos attempting to rebuild. Without Lucifer the demonic legions return to the Abyss out of fear and the angels are ordered to retreat, with all four archangels having been slain and the messiah having been beaten. Yomotsu Hirasaka remains wide open, but the rupture that Minato created within space and time did not entirely destroy Erebus, it mainly contained it to a single, isolated point in-between dimensions. This rift is the Schwarzwelt from Strange Journey that keeps the Abyss separated from the human world, and at the same time the angels away from the human world as well. The survivors claim that as long as humanity never allows things to grow so far out of hand ever again, it will finally have the world it's desired for so long.
The story ends on somewhat of a high note, with the world having more or less been reset. But it's not entirely a happy note, since Strange Journey still happens after it, and from that we know that humanity more or less goes back to the way it used to be. But for the time being, it's a happy ending.
This is more or less how the story was going to go. As you can tell just from the length of this summary, this story would have literally taken ages to finish. And given how few people ended up sticking with this story, it wouldn't have been worth it.
So that's that. That's the story, that's how it was going to be. Leaving it completely unfinished wouldn't be fair to those of you who actually stuck with this story – and speaking of, to however many of you there happen to be, thank you kindly, and I'm sorry.
That being said, the reason why I left some things out of my explanation is fairly simple. I'm not entirely done with this series yet – at some point in the future I intend to more or less restart – to write a 'Reverse Rebirth' that won't get so out of hand and grow so far beyond my control and have pacing that's actually attractive. And on top of that be a story that people would more readily enjoy. So until then, this is where I stop talking.