I hardly slept that night. My mind was too set on Nanako to fret about my own well-being. Not only that, but I realized that this would be my first time venturing into the strange world inside of the TV as part of the team. I kept worrying, curling my fingers tightly around my quilt as I thought, that I wouldn't be as good of a fighter as the others. What if I was too weak? What if I had trouble summoning Sukuna-Hikona like the previous time? What if I simply froze up in fear and stood completely helpless as the others took the brunt of the struggle? Questions like these raced through my mind relentlessly as I squeezed my eyes shut beneath the covers. Growing frustrated with my anxiety, I ran my fingers through my hair and rolled over in bed, burying my face in the pillow and pleading for the apprehension to cease. My stomach was in knots. Undoubtedly, the others would look to me for guidance the following morning, expecting me to be the cool, calm detective they knew me to be. These affectations would be present as always, but this was not like any of the other cases I had solved before. However, at the moment, I was lying here in the dark of my room, terrified of what might happen. In reality, for the time being, I was far from the poised detective I normally portrayed myself as.
I wondered, then, if any of the others might have been as nervous as I was on the inside. Perhaps they were thinking the same things that I was. Perhaps, even, they suspected I was as scared as I was.
I only managed to get a small bit of sleep, but the next day I was already energized and ready to go as soon as I emerged from bed. Hurriedly I changed into my coat, snatched my revolver and multiple cases of ammunition, grabbed the round-lensed, light blue glasses Teddie had given to me, donned my signature hat and raced out of the house before my grandfather could wake up and interrogate me for slipping out the previous night.
When I arrived at Junes, the others were already there. Yosuke-san seemed to be stepping up to organize the group, seeing as Yu-senpai looked rather distraught due to last night's traumas. There were plates of food scattered around the table that they all seemed to be eating, as well.
"Ah, Naoto-kun's here," Yukiko-san said when she saw me approaching. The others looked up at me from their places as well.
"Good morning," I said as I tipped my hat to them all. "I have come prepared."
"Good," Yosuke-san nodded before picking up a plate full of eggs and toast and handing it to me. "Here, eat up. I ordered breakfast for everyone. We're all gonna need our energy before heading in."
"Thank you," I said as I took the plate.
"I got coffee for everyone, too," Yukiko-san said, reaching for a mound of cream and sugar packets on one of the food trays on the table. "How do you take it?"
"Black, please," I stated after swallowing a mouthful of food.
"Black?" Yukiko seemed surprised. "A-are you sure?"
"Yes," I insisted.
"You just look a little unsure, is all," Yukiko said politely.
"Would you can it, Yukiko-senpai?" Kanji suddenly interrupted, "She said she wants it black. She can have whatever she wants." We all looked up uneasily at -san, as disoriented as he seemed, looked over at me with an expression somewhat like concern.
"Easy there, Kanji," Rise-san said, "You're getting a little defensive there."
Kanji-kun glanced at me, snarled at Rise, and then looked away as he crossed his arms. "Will you shut up already?" He mumbled the words under his breath.
"Wha- Easy there, Detective Prince!" Yosuke-san suddenly blurted out when he noticed the rapid pace I was eating at. "You don't want to get a stomach ache… That'd be even worse than not eating at all."
I abruptly stopped and slowed my pace, blushing fiercely with embarrassment. "Guh… Sorry, Senpai."
"Oh, and also," Yosuke said, turning to Teddie, "Teddie, would you mind going into the TV and trying to sniff out Nanako-chan? Since you're so close to her, you may be able to sense her just as well as Rise-san."
Teddie nodded before running off toward the entrance doors.
By the time Teddie got back, we had all finished breakfast and Yosuke-san had given us all a brief game plan of how things were going to play out while inside the TV world. We all stood around the table, bearing our own personal looks of determination. When Teddie returned, Yosuke looked over at him tenaciously.
"Nanako-chan's on the other side, right?" he asked.
"Definitely," Teddie nodded, "There's no mistake."
"The police should be pursuing Namatame," I told them all, "So let's focus on saving Nanako-chan."
"Yeah," Chie agreed, "We're the only ones who can."
"We'll save her no matter what," Rise-san added positively.
"I often thought it might be impossible, but we cornered the culprit..." said Yukiko-san, "We've made it this far… We won't let him take Nanako-chan's life!"
"Yeah… This is it!" Kanji-kun added, clenching his fists, "Let's go all-out and get it done!"
"I made a promise with Nana-chan!" Teddie said, "I said that we'd play again… And that everything would be okay… I promised her that!"
"Yeah," Yosuke nodded to him "So let's save her. We're doing it for Dojima-san, too." He smirked. "Hehe, he'll owe us another watermelon."
Watermelon? I assumed that this had been over the summer. Part of me was disappointed that I had missed out, though I wasn't focused on small details like this. "Regardless, we must do whatever we can with what we have now. This is something only we can accomplish…"
"C'mon, we can do this, guys!" Chie-san cheered, "No problem!"
"Yeah," Yosuke nodded, "We'll do this the same as always. All we gotta do is find Nanako-chan before the next foggy day and get her out of there. Nothing to it. Let's keep calm, be careful, and get it done."
I shivered at his words. A nervous lump began to grow in my throat. Was it really as easy to them as they made it seem? Within myself, I felt like I could never compare to their skill.
Together, we all made our way into the electronics section at Junes. Thankfully, it wasn't a very busy day at the store, so there were not many people there to witness us. We browsed aimlessly among the video games on display while waiting for one couple to leave the TV section, glancing at them nonchalantly every few seconds. When they finally left, that's when we all gathered in front of the large, 72 inch display model. I remembered very hazily collapsing in front of this very model, and the feel of my palms impacting on the linoleum floor tiles still hung vividly in my head. A shiver ran down my spine at the memory of the weary feeling I had experienced on my way out of that world after being kidnapped. Now, however, I was not the one in danger, but one of those who would save the newest victim. I felt now like I was officially a member of the team, not only in the investigation aspect, but also in the aspect of search-and-rescue.
"Is everyone ready?" Yu-san asked all of us with a glance back, slipping on his own black fog-resistant glasses.
We all nodded our heads, and the others all took their own glasses out of their pockets, slipping them on. I took mine out as well, running my fingers along their round, light-blue rims, and then carefully slid them into place in front of my eyes. The smooth lenses were clear as water and even easier to see through than normal glasses. The material the lenses were made out of didn't even seem to be actual glass, but some foreign, otherworldly type of material. They didn't warp my vision like other types of glasses did, and I was glad. They would surely make for excellent combat and agility.
"Yes," I said with a nod, "We are all ready for your command."
Yu nodded once, and then turned back to the TV, holding out a hand and touching a finger to the screen. With a liquefied ripple across the inky screen, his finger phased right through it, as if the screen were made of water. I shivered with excitement as I braced myself, reaching into the breast of my coat and clutching the grip of my revolver. Then, in one swift movement, as if he had had much experience with this before, Yu-senpai disappeared into the darkness of the screen.
I heard Rise-san call out in hushed cries, "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!" and one by one, Yosuke, Chie, Kanji, Rise, and Teddie all leapt through the screen. Then, feeling my heart beat anxiously against my chest, I stuck out my hand, gripping the nothingness on the other side, and whisked myself through.
I didn't know where the others were, but an intense falling sensation overcame me, although I wasn't sure if I was actually falling. This was the third time I had experienced this sensation, now, and I was beginning to grow used to the process of entering this other dimension. All around me, alternating whites and blacks flashed before me, growing faster and faster with my "velocity," until all I could see was an infinite corridor of strobes. Eventually, fog began to surround me, and I readied myself, positioning my feet for when I would land.
The landing came a lot harder than I had expected. Solid ground rushed up to make an impact with my feet, and my knees failed me. With a surprised squeal, I toppled over, only to feel two arms wrap around me and catch my fall. I scrambled for balance and eventually regained my footing, looking up in embarrassment to see that it had been Yu-senpai who had caught me.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Er…" I nodded, feeling blood well up in my cheeks. "Yes, I am. Th-thank you…"
It seemed like everyone else had landed effortlessly. Undoubtedly, they had had more practice than me. Regardless, I maintained my composure by gripping the brim of my hat, standing up straight and clearing my throat. I then patted my breast to check that my revolver was still there.
"Look at all this thick fog…" Yosuke-san grimaced, gazing at the sickly-looking yellowish fog that filled the proximity. It did indeed seem to be a lot thicker than I had remembered from my last experience in this world, when I had gone alone.
"Does this have to do with all the fuss about the fog lately…?" Yukiko wondered.
"Something's weird in here…" Teddie, who was already in his bear suit, seemed to be scowling at all the fog with a look of depression. Seeing as he was from this world, I didn't blame him for looking so upset. "I think all the commotion in town has been affecting this world, too."
"Well, we need to hurry now," Yosuke said before turning to Rise-san. "Rise, can you tell which direction Nanako-chan is in?"
Rise-san nodded, and then seemed to focus inward as the area around her began to glow with the calming blue aura I had become familiar with. A small, blue tarot card appeared briefly in front of her, similar to mine. However, rather than depicting the Wheel of Fortune, it depicted two figures standing against a heart-shaped background. From what little knowledge I had of tarot, and also from some instinct I felt within me, which I suspected was that tying me to Sukuna-Hikona, I deduced that she was of the Lovers arcana. The card in front of her soon shattered into pieces, which intrigued me. It looked to be that she did not have to physically crush the card, but could do so simply with her mind. Perhaps this was the nature of her Persona.
Sure enough, a gigantic form soon towered behind her, and though I had seen it once before while they were battling my Shadow, getting to see it up close was truly astounding. The feminine figure was delicately draped in a dazzling ivory dress, and its long, elegant, ebony arms flowed from its shoulders, holding in their dainty fingers a golden visor which it placed in front of Rise's eyes. Perhaps its most eye-catching feature, though, was that rather than a head, a giant, crystalline satellite disc protruded from the creature's neck. The satellite disc swayed back and forth, presumably scanning the premises. The Persona- Himiko, I remembered Rise-san telling me once- was absolutely beautiful.
After a few moments, Rise-san seemed to develop a grip on Nanako's presence. "I sense her… That way!" she said, pointing out into the distance through the endless fog. "Wow… What's this warm feeling…?" Urgency seemed to strike her. "Senpai, we need to save her! Let's go!"
Yu-san led us across one of the catwalks of the TV studio-like entrance, and once we reached the end of the catwalk, we were lead to what looked like a Hollywood-esque alleyway paved with ivory stone and golden trim. It looked somewhat like the outskirts of a movie set, and I realized that if I had spotted a camera and film crew in the area, it would not have seemed out of place. The yellowish fog, as we progressed, began to be replaced with fog that shone a radiant blue, as if a divine source of light was shining through it. What the boulevard led to, however, stunned and surprised me likely far more than anything I had seen in this world to date. The condensed Hollywood-like alleyway gave way to a broad area walled off by an enormous gate made of the same ivory stone and gold trim. Elegant etchings were carved into the sides of the gate, and pulchritudinous flowers and ivy grew plentifully along its borders. Conveniently arched over the gate was a delicate rainbow, and through it, I could see billowing clouds supporting floating islands and towering beanstalks, like something out of a children's storybook. It was hard for me to believe that a realm this beautiful could exist in such a hostile place as this world inside of the TV.
The others seemed to be equally as stupefied as I was by the display. "This… Is Nanako-chan's…?" Yukiko stammered in disbelief.
"It's so beautiful…" Rise-san added, "It's like a storybook vision of heaven."
"Like heaven, huh…" Yosuke-san thought to himself. "Deep down, Nanako-chan must really miss her…"
"I'm sure she does," Yukiko-san said, "She's only a child…"
As I stared limply beyond the beautiful gate, toward the shimmering heaven that Nanako-chan's heart must have created, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. It seemed that the small girl had been much more distraught than any of us had previously believed. In any case, it seemed even more necessary now to rescue her as quickly as possible from this place, which was quite saddening. Even I had begun to feel the depression and bittersweetness of its presence.
It seemed that Yukiko-san had been feeling the same way. "We have to do everything in our power to rescue her!" she exclaimed.
"I'll need all of you," Yu-senpai said, turning to all of us with a look of determination.
"Of course!" Teddie squealed, "We're gonna rescue Nana-chan, no matter what!"
"We can find Namatame later and give him what's coming to him then," Yosuke-san added, "First, we need to rescue Nanako-chan!"
Without any further hesitation, we all began to make our way through the gaping mouth of the gate of Nanako's heaven. Everyone began to draw their weapons and take their stances, and I did the same, reaching into my coat and taking out my Nambu 2 revolver. Everyone else had much more… Creative weapons, to say the least.
"It's so quiet and peaceful, but…" Rise-san had begun to analyze the area when we entered. "What's this bad feeling I'm getting…?" She grimaced and looked down for a moment, and then pressed onward with determination. "Nanako-chan… Just hang in there… We'll save you!"
Yu-senpai ran ahead, and we all followed after. The floors were lined with gold and marble, and through the thick clouds, rainbows shone everywhere in the area. It was a truly beautiful view, though it was taken away from by the intense feelings of depression that seemed to radiate from the endless bridges and chambers we ventured through, as well as the constant presence of shadows. The others seemed to be well-trained, though, because every time a shadow would transform and attack us, they summoned their Personas without effort and crushed every one of them without batting an eye or thinking anything of it. I seemed to specialize in agility from all of my experience in the police force, but in this world, agility was virtually useless except for dodging attacks.
"I'm getting more and more anxious…" Rise-san noted after a while, "I wonder why…? Let's hurry, Senpai!"
We ventured on. Several other shadows showed themselves before us. They appeared as various shapes and creatures, ranging from animated hands to mighty lions, similar to the one I had attempted to fight on my own, though with brilliant golden fur rather than black.
"I can definitely sense Nanako-chan's presence here," Rise-san said, stopping in her tracks. "But, um, how do I put this…? Something feels weird… This place really did come from Nanako-chan's heart, right…? So why does something feel off…?"
We kept moving on, and shadows continued to attack us. Yu-san, being able to wield various Personas, easily rotated them and seemed to be matching the appropriate Persona to each shadow we faced. I observed that many shadows had weaknesses, and the others seemed to use their own personal elemental attacks to stun shadows that happened to have a certain weakness toward them. Knowing nothing of weaknesses, I simply stuck them with a few bullets whenever I got the chance, dodging their attacks to the best extent I could.
Eventually, as we ascended the beautiful labyrinth, the radiant blue clouds began to evolve into the eerie, sickly yellow fog I remembered. When this change began to take place, Rise-san suddenly stopped and cupped a hand around her ear. She seemed to be picking up some sort of signal. "I can hear her! This must be Nanako-chan's voice!" She listened intently, and the rest of us fell completely silent and attempted to listen as well. I couldn't hear anything, however. "She's saying something… But it's too quiet to make out… Senpai, please find where the voice is coming from!"
We moved on, defeating shadows all the while. The others killed them all off without even trying, while I was trying my hardest and could barely wound any of them. I hadn't summoned Sukuna-Hikona, for fear of embarrassment if he would not come, and also because I barely had time between the other team members swatting them left and right. I began to grow even more anxious, feeling like I was of no help to the others.
Eventually, entering one area, a voice suddenly rang out through the air, echoing in the distance. It almost prompted me to jump. "Mom…" Undoubtedly, it was Nanako-chan's voice. We had found the source of the voice Rise-san had heard.
"That's Nana-chan's voice!" Teddie spoke up, looking desperately up at the sky.
"Mom…" her voice continued, "Where are you…? Why did you disappear…? Why did you leave me…? No… Come back…" The words shook me to my core.
"Are these… Nanako-chan's feelings…?" Chie-san said.
Then, Nanako's voice continued. "But I'm not lonely… I have Dad with me. I know he's always late coming home… And he never plays with me because he's so busy… He can't cook or do laundry either… He tries to be nice, though he is a little scary sometimes… But I love him… Big bro is with me now, too… So I'm not alone… I'm not lonely…"
Kanji-kun looked distraught. "A little kid… Telling herself she's not lonely so she won't fall apart…"
"You idiot," Yosuke said when everyone turned to face Kanji, "You'll ruin everything if we act all sad. We gotta greet her with a smile."
Teddie continued to stare up into the sky, a bitter look on his face. "Nana-chan…"
Beside me, I saw Rise-san's sad expression turn to concern. "What's the matter?" I asked her.
"Something's not right…" she said, thinking to herself, "There's someone here besides Nanako-chan. It was faint at first, so I couldn't tell for sure… But there's definitely another person here. And whoever this is… Their power's getting stronger…"
Yosuke-san gasped at her observation. "…Could it be Namatame!? Did he duck in here after being cornered, like Mitsuo!?"
This was indeed quite an alarming thought. I remembered the entry in Namatame's diary that he had written which had centered around a young girl. "Perhaps so…" I said, "It seemed like he was particularly determined to kidnap Nanako-chan."
"But why…?" said Yukiko-san, "If he's the real culprit, he must know the dangers of coming into this world…"
"I don't know…" I said, my anxiety growing as I dwelled on the idea, "But if it is him, he may have entered from a TV near the site of the accident… Perhaps even the TV in his truck. Which means Nanako-chan may be in grave danger… We must hurry!"
With Yu leading us ahead, we carried on through the gradually thickening fog. A few shadows resembling towers made of crystalline heads manifested before us, sparking with electricity as they prepared to attack. Yosuke-san quickly dispelled the shadows with a swift wind attack. Other shadows resembling reddish cherubs and golden army tanks advanced on us as well. I threw a round at one of the tanks, but the bullets simply ricocheted off its hide and flew backward at me. I fumbled out of the way, but being too quick to evade, one of the bullets nicked me in the hand.
The wound was rather deep, and though it wasn't major, it still stung intensely and began to bleed quite heavily. When the bullet hit, I quickly pulled my hand away and groaned in pain through gritted teeth. When I examined the wound, I saw that it was not a direct bullet wound; rather, the bullet had scraped past my palm and opened up the skin. Blood trickled over my hand, and I felt my face go pale as a slight weakness came over me as a result of the shock.
"Naoto!" I heard Kanji cry out, and sure enough, he was by my side in mere moments. "Here, this'll help." He quickly reached into one of his pockets and pulled out what looked like a small, golden seed, grabbing my wounded hand and pressing it firmly into the afflicted area.
It stung for a second, and I stiffened up and winced at the pain. However, after a few seconds, a golden glow surrounded the seed, and it gradually evaporated into the air, leaving behind a completely unharmed hand. After a warm feeling made its way into my hand, the pain was completely gone, as well as the wound.
"You can't be so reckless, you idiot," Kanji-kun grunted, standing up and lending me his hand to help me up as well. "Some shadows don't take physical damage. Some of 'em are even so tough that your attacks'll bounce right off of 'em."
"You gotta use attacks they're weak to!" Chie added from where she stood before the shadow. "Like this!" she swiftly crushed her tarot card to summon Tomoe, who unleashed an icy blast which froze the tank in its place, and then promptly smashed it to bits.
"Attacks they're weak to…?" I didn't quite understand the function of elemental attacks, or even how to use them.
Yu-senpai used one of his Personas to eliminate the other tank, and then turned to me. "There are four main types of elemental attacks: Agi, fire; bufu, ice; garu, wind; and zio, electricity. That's all you'll really need to know for right now. Each Persona tends to specialize in a particular type of attack. What does yours specialize in?"
I tensed up, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head. "I… I don't know. I seem to have trouble summoning him sometimes…"
Suddenly, I felt a small pressure on my shoulder, and down at it, I saw that Yu-san had gripped it reassuringly. I felt my face go warm, but I looked up into Yu's smiling face, and something about it made me feel a sense of hope.
"Hey," he said, "Don't be afraid."
"W-what?" I snapped back at him, feeling flustered. "What makes you think I'm afraid!?"
"Don't try too hard to control yourself," he continued, resting the long, two-handed sword he wielded against his shoulder. "Relax and let your heart do the fighting. That's where your Persona comes from, after all."
He released his grip, and after grinning once more at me, he walked past me and began to move on through the fog. I stood frozen in place for a few moments as the others followed, him, thinking deeply to myself.
"Tch," Kanji-kun scoffed as he brushed past me, "Seems like Senpai thinks you're a completely defenseless wimp. Don't worry, Naoto, I know you ain't. You're one tough chick…"
"...Huh?" I looked up at Kanji-kun, feeling my face go even hotter. "S-sorry…" I began to walk alongside him.
"Ain't nothin' to be sorry about," Kanji said, scratching the back of his head and refusing to make eye contact. "Just, uh… Stick behind me. If you don't mind, I can show you the ropes."
"K-Kanji-kun…? You'd do that?"
He nodded once. "Y-yeah, I can show you, no problem. Take-Mikazuchi's always stompin' 'em left and right. Ain't nothin' to it. He could easily give a lesson or two to your… Uh… What's her name?"
"Sukuna-Hikona," I replied, feeling a slight hint of offense deep within me where my Persona resided. "And he is male."
"Oh! R-right," Kanji-kun stammered, scratching his head again anxiously. "Makes sense, since you sorta come off as… Uh… N-nevermind." He loudly cleared his throat.
"Regardless," I said, still thinking to myself. "I am honored that you would teach me, but…" I gripped my Persona very tightly in my heart. Perhaps this, at least, was something I could only do on my own. After all, one could not so easily teach another to open their own heart. Broadening the link between my human self and Sukuna-Hikona was something only I could do. I looked at Kanji and politely declined. "I think I must do this for myself."
"Huh?" Kanji-kun said, "Oh, alright. Whatever's best for you."
I felt bad for turning him down, but as I thought to myself, I realized that perhaps Yu-senpai was right. Perhaps I was indeed afraid of this new power I had received. Not only that, but I believe that my greatest fear came from my confusion associated with Sukuna-Hikona, my other self. I didn't quite understand myself, and in turn, I felt that our connection would be particularly rough. Though I didn't want to admit it, Yu-san seemed to be right. However, I wouldn't let this fear overcome me. I was determined to accept myself, and with myself, my Persona.
Not too long afterward, Rise-san stopped in her tracks, and another echoing voice began to ring throughout the heavens. However, the voice was not of Nanako-chan this time around. "N-no…" the deep, masculine voice was saying, "That's not it… I just wanted to live peacefully, that's it…" Alarm bells sounded in my mind. Was this Namatame's voice?
"Ngh…" Rise-san grunted, trying to stick to her signal, "Nanako-chan's presence is being drowned out…" She cried out into the fog, "Please answer us, Nanako-chan! Don't worry! We're on our way to rescue you right now!"
We kept pressing forward, and eventually the voice was heard again. "This place is nice… It's so quiet…" it said, "I wish I could have lived here… Together with…"
"Together…?" Rise-san said, sounding alarmed. "I-Is he with Nanako-chan!? This isn't good, Senpai! Let's hurry on!"
Yu's face contorted into an emotion of disgust and anger as he ran ahead in search of Nanako. It was becoming hard to keep up with him. Eventually, more shadows manifested before us. Two golden tanks stood and pointed their cannons at us, and three massive, crimson snakes rose from the ground and slithered in place through the air. I raised my gun to shoot, but cautiously remembered the experience I had previously had with shooting. Instead, I willed my arcana to appear in front of me, aimed my gun at it, and blasted a bullet right through the center of the Wheel. My hair was blown into my face as Sukuna-Hikona whizzed by, and then he turned around to face me.
"Go ahead and show me what you can do!" I exclaimed to him, seeing Chie and Teddie take out two of the snakes with ease.
"I have no need to show you," Sukuna-Hikona said to me in my mind, in a voice similar to my own. His golden eyes stared right into mine, and for a moment, I felt an almost overwhelming connection to the supernatural being. "You already know what I can do."
The words burrowed themselves into me, and for a second, time seemed to slow down. I looked over at the shadows, and after being obliterated by the others, there was only one left. Yu-san flashed me a grin from where he stood, as if inviting me to deliver the blow to the final tank. Relaxing every fiber of my forceful brain, I exhaled softly, reaching deep within myself to open up the connection between myself and my Persona. Then, my eyes flicked open, and a grin curled at the ends of my lips. As if by instinct, I held out my arm, aiming my gun at the tank, but I did not fire. Instead, feeling my own mind take control of Sukuna-Hikona's body, as if his limbs were my own, I sent him forward, and in one movement so swift I could barely see him, he traced with his ethereal blade a circle of pure light like nothing I'd seen before. Light then enveloped the tank, and up from the circle, a bombardment of luminous cards rose and sliced through the tank's hide. Eventually, it was completely engulfed in a blinding light, until eventually with a flash, it ceased to exist. I then raised my gun victoriously into the air, and uttered an instinctual phrase through my lips: "Hamaon."
"Great job, Naoto-kun!" Rise-san cheered to me.
"That was amazing, Naoto!" Yosuke-san added, "You took it out in one shot!"
"You really kick ass, Naoto," Kanji-kun grinned.
"Instant kill," Yu-senpai said, grinning at me with pride. "That does seem to fit your style. Can you do Mudoon?"
Suddenly, another cherub-shaped shadow flew over me, readying its bow to take a shot. The others jumped back in surprise.
"Incoming attack!" Teddie squealed, dashing behind Yosuke, who protested and attempted to shove him aside.
"Do you think you can get that one?" Yu-san said, pointing to the shadow and looking at me.
I turned to the shadow, quickly threw a bullet through my arcana, and summoned Sukuna-Hikona. "Mudoon!" I shouted reflexively, not as a command, but more like the involuntary cry one would let out while exerting a large amount of energy. This time, Sukuna-Hikona cast the circle vertically against the shadow, and rather than the golden light of the Hamaon attack, this circle had a dark, shadowy aura to it, which swallowed up the cherub-shaped shadow before it could attack, and evaporated into nothingness.
"Awesome!" Yosuke-san cheered.
"Nao-chan is on a roll!" Teddie chimed in from behind him.
"That was great," Yu said to me, "I didn't expect you to have an affinity for dark or light attacks, especially so early. They tend to be all-or-nothing type moves. If the cast is successful, it'll instantly kill the shadow. If not, nothing happens. There's usually only a small chance that it'll work, but you seem to be pretty good with them. Looks like you tend to be pretty lucky."
I grinned, for once feeling very proud of myself. "Perhaps I am. Thank you, Senpai."
"Keep up the good work," he said. "Now, we've got to get moving. I think we might be getting close."