01 September

Minatodai Dormitory, 1st Floor Lounge

Evening

Junpei kicked his feet up, lounging on the sofa. With his nose firmly planted in a magazine spelling out the latest something or other, he waited impatiently for someone else to return to the Dorm. And thinking if [i]she[/i] was busy sketching on the bench again. While he wanted to go out and check on her again, it was too dark for that, and he found himself thinking about the announcement that Mitsuru had made after school that day.

Those terrorist attacks in Tokyo three weeks ago had gripped the entirely of the nation. A whole ward in Tokyo shut down and isolated due to the biological and chemical contamination; the Tokyo Lockdown as it was being called was the stuff that could break a government.

While it was all very interesting to Mitsuru, the perennial slacker Junpei found that politics and government meant nothing. All that mattered to him was that in response a large-ish section of students that had been trapped inside the Yamanote Line had moved out of the damaged city and that Gekkoukan High had opened their doors to some of the displaced students.

It was therefore simplicity itself to introduce Aigis to the student population as one of these unfortunate souls. No one would question the robot girl too closely in the midst of so many new faces, making the keeping of her true nature a secret more likely. That she acted weirdly could be attributed to post-traumatic stress of some sort or another. Heck, the school even had a couple psychologists on call for just that thing.

Officially they would be introduced tomorrow. But today Mitsuru let the rest of SEES know, and to get Aigis' help in filling out the last details of her paperwork.

"Meh, whatever." His grunt of dismissal of such things fell only onto the ears of Koromaru, who looked up at him with sad eyes. There was a full moon in four days. They had to be ready for that. Minato had scheduled a trip into Tartarus tomorrow, last minute training he said. Junpei groaned, hoping that it would be a quick Dark Hour.

05 September 2009

Minatodai Dormitory, 4th Floor Command Centre

The Dark Hour

Ikutsuki watched with SEES and their newest recruit as Fuuka scanned the Dark Hour for the existence of their next target. "Have you detected it yet?"

Fuuka, ensconced in her Persona, nodded. "Yes... I think. It's near or at Paulowina Mall. I'd have to get closer to find it precisely."

Minato stood, "Come on. Let's go get it."

Paulowina Mall, Club Escapade

She took another glance at the impossible thing that occupied the centre of the room before ducking back behind the bar. The entire world was tinted in a sickly green with red splotches that reminded her of nothing so much as blood. Yet this demon was just sitting there, giving off a blue aura and reeking of electricity. Her current spot was safest to allow her to avoid the wires and the massive amounts of Zio she had seen that thing put out.

She desperately wanted to fight it, but while her COMP was still on her, it was still inactive. She had a weapon on her, the habits wouldn't die any time soon, but she also had no Demons, nor a Harmonizer to level the playing field to let her beat this thing directly.

This wasn't supposed to happen! He became the King! They has ascended to the top of the Hills and defeated Babel, sending all the Demons away! Why was there one here and now? What was going on? And without her COMP, she could do nothing.

Nothing...

She didn't want to die either, so she stayed hidden.

Paulowina Mall, Main Concourse

SEES stood in a rough circle around the central fountain, stopped in the empty moment between seconds. "Tch. Lame-ass underclassmen slouching off." Shinjiro grumbled as he expressed his displeasure at their missing member. It was not an unshared sentiment, though Fuuka was ignoring Junpei's latest antics in favour of focusing on finding the Shadow nearby.

"Tell me, O Lucia, what is this thing that deceives me?" She sought out through her expanded senses into the larger universe. Delivering an improvised prayer, she looked harder. "Hear the wind's answer in our ear. Touch the earth's answer with your fingertips. Taste the water's answer with on our lips..." Her brow furrowed with an effort to do what should have been obvious.

"Is she alright?" Akihiko asked, joining Fuuka in the 'ignore Shinji for the moment' crowd. Privately he felt that her prayer was something odd to give to one's own Persona, but if it helped her, he wouldn't be the one to judge. But if she couldn't find it, how would they fight it?

"Please don't break her concentration." Mitsuru delivered her warning while burying her own worries. She still had to lead by example.

"Found it!" Fuuka said triumphantly. "It's over there!" She pointed towards Club Escapade, where a small line of transmogrified coffins lined up, the people entombed while waiting to enter. "But it seems to be quite diffuse, spread out over the area. The central part is in there!"

Club Escapade

Shinjiro carefully inched open the door to the Club, not surprised that it was unlocked. The posters said there was a concert there tonight for some teenaged idol or something like that. But what worried him was the tight confines. The Club was crowded with transmogrified patrons, and so they couldn't move about freely.

It was just Minato, Yukari, himself and Akihiko – who insisted on going along with Shinjiro's first Full Moon Arcana hunt. Fuuka had determined that it was of the Hermit Arcana, though what that meant for the battle ahead, no one knew.

So without knowing exactly what sort of trap they were walking into this time, it seemed like a good idea to put the man whose Persona had no weaknesses up front.

And there it was. Standing right in front of the stage like it owned the joint. A lot of coffins were scattered about, and the four of them advanced carefully into the Club, trying to get as close as possible to the Hermit before the battle could begin in earnest.

They managed to get into striking range when they ran out of cover. On Minato's signal, they charged at the Hermit, who in turn let loose an electric shriek and the battle was joined.

At the sounds of fighting, she poked her head around the top of the bar, just a little. It was enough to see that she wasn't imagining things. That there were people out there with weapons and that they were fighting against the Demon.

She should be out there, really, but every time she went for her club, her hands refused to move. She tried to justify this to herself by saying that four was enough, and that adding in a fifth would just make things harder.

And none of them had a COMP either that she could see. How did they keep summoning their Demons like that? But then again, it didn't look like a real summoning. The Demons just appeared, then vanished right away. And they were using... guns?

That made no sense at all!

Of course, things making sense stopped being critical to her over the past month.

Her reflections stopped when the girl with the bow took a heavy hit from a Zio attack and fell back hard, probably unconscious. Her name – Yukari – was yelled out by the nearest man, a boxer of some sort. He tried to rush to her aid, but was blocked by one of the waving tentacles, the bundled mass of electric wire as effective as any wall.

She could see that the demon was charging up for another attack, one that was certain to put this Yukari out of the fight, if not her life.

That meant there was only one thing left to do. She didn't need to know how she could safely fight to do it either.

Breaking cover, she prayed to the King of Bel that she would be in time. A wordless yell escaped her lips as she dashed those few scant meters between safety and rescue, jumping over one of the demon's wires to reach Yukari. Behind her, she could feel the familiar charge of energy and realizing that she couldn't make it to safety in time, covered Yukari with her own body.

Pain. Oh, she'd felt pain like this before, been hit with pretty powerful Zio spells in the past. But the pain was real, she was still alive, and that meant she was under the Harmonizer's effects. The pain would pass. She stood up to let Yukari do the same.

Yukari opened her eyes into a stranger's smiling face. "Are you alright?" she asked the girl, the sounds of the others renewing their battle to keep her – no, them – safe.

"I'm fine," her rescuer replied. "It'll take more than that to put me down. You?" She offered a hand to the prone archer to help her up.

Yukari's answer was drowned out by another blast of magical power. This one was directed squarely at the mysterious girl, who took the blow on her back, completely unprepared for it. She fell to her knees, vision going black and red.

Ow, she thought, the only cognisant thing that crossed her mind in that moment. She saw Yukari pull out a gun and stick it in her mouth, summoning up a demon to try and heal her. Ow. My knees. Silly girl, you can't summon a demon properly that way. You need a COMP. That's how it's done.

Darkness and numbness. Am I going to die? That... kinda really hurt. But at least I did it like a hero! For Love and Justice!

I only wish he could have seen me. I'm not afraid of this. I just wish we could have fun one more time. We'd do wonderful things together!

As the Magical Girl Warrior of Love and Justice, Komaki Midori fell to the ground, she whispered the name of her one truest friend in her heart, calling forth the image of him from her deepest desires. Unheeding of the consequences, the summons was put forth, desire in the veil of shadows between this world and another.

And he answered.

"Black Frost"

The Velvet Room

Igor's head snapped up, worry and fear written clear across his face. "No! This must not be!"