Welcome to Animus! You can find the Tumblr page at KageShirogane.
As well, you can also find the full spiel on Animus and its disclaimers back on Chapter 1.
Thanks and enjoy the show!
The pitter patter of hard soled footsteps raced back to the hospital bedroom on the 6th floor of the building. Between the times when Isamu escaped from the scene, to when the Dark Hour occurred and passed… only about 15 minutes of actual time had occurred according to human perspective. Everything that had happened during that dark time had passed by in the blink of an eye, and like-wise, the disappearance of Naoto, Kon, and the Investigation Team from that room had also been instantaneous. The only trace of their activity that remained was the shattered window.
When Isamu returned with his back-up, the room had been cleared as if nothing had happened at all in there. Tsuge, too, had been called to the scene. When the two men entered the room, they knew very well that something precious of theirs had up and disappeared.
"W-where is it…?" Isamu blinked hard, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.
Tsuge stared at his friend with a hard glare, "Where is it indeed…"
"Is this some kind of joke…?" the emergency task force that Isamu had called in stood behind them with guns in hand and full body armor covering their torsos. They expected nothing short of a serious situation… and though they prepared for the worst, they were left with nothing but an empty bedroom to investigate.
"Maybe… it went into hiding…?" Isamu spoke meekly.
That statement was followed up with a punishing strike to the top of Isamu's head via Tsuge's fist. The taller man quickly curled down from his discipline and gave off a pained sigh. Gone… The Shadow was all gone… and not a single trace of evidence left either man thinking that it would ever come back.
April 27th 2013, Saturday
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Naoto and Kage, happy birthday to you!
The cheerfully cheesy song rang out through the dining room of the Shirogane Estate, its familiar words sung out by a dozen people. Everyone from the Investigation Team had stayed for the occasion, as well as Touko, Grandpa, and even Mitsuru who had been invited to the party in a disembodied laptop webcam form. At the head of the singing was Grandpa, who walked into the room with a ludicrously massive cake on a large tray. Hey, there were a lot of mouths to feed.
The shape that Grandpa had decided to make the cake in was ill-humored but very well appreciated. It was a large blob caked in black icing, with two little yellow beads for eyes and marzipan arms that wiggled into the air. On its back were two candles, one which was shaped as the number '18', and the other which was shaped as a question mark '?'. Everyone was immediately amused
"Shadow cake!" Kage sat up straight and clapped his hands together. A few others did the same, clapping and laughing at the sight of the cake.
"Just thought I'd do something special," Grandpa answered, setting the dessert down in front of them.
Kage and Naoto both leaned forwards and blew out the candles at the same time. During the light applause that followed, Naoto turned her eyes to Kage's and smiled lightly, "Know what I wished for…?"
Kage shook his head, "Not a clue~"
With a soft chuckle, they both shared the handle of the knife and made the first slice through the cake, dividing it up between all of their guests. During that time, Grandpa leaned forwards towards Kage and whispered lightly that 'I can get you something else if you'd like'. He meant yogurt.
The boy quickly shook his head, "No, I want to try this," he said, quite intent on giving the cake a taste test. If there was even a slim chance that he would be able to taste it, anyways… When all the slices of the cake were distributed, Kage reached for his fork and eagerly tried a piece. Feeling all eyes on him, he blinked a few times and smiled, "… It's good! It tastes super good."
Everyone else leaned back into their chairs and sighed with relief.
"Maybe it's because it's Shadow shaped," Kage joked, taking a few more bites.
Naoto shook her head, "No… it's because you're human."
A few forks dropped. As if on cue, Teddie immediately stood up and pointed, "I knew I smelled something different…!"
Kage recoiled back and turned his gaze away, a plaster of red appearing on his cheeks, "H-hey, that's…"
"… nothing to be ashamed of…" Naoto smiled, enjoying a few bites of her own cake. "Though, actually… I am a little amused. All those times that you completely and utterly refused to become human and… well, it happened anyways didn't it?"
"But… how?" Yukiko stared back and forth between both Kage and Teddie, "… I still don't understand. How did you two do it…?"
Kage blinked, parting his lips slowly, but Naoto quickly intervened, "He doesn't have to explain," she spoke, shaking her head.
Kage slowly nodded, "I found my place in this world… that's all…"
Naoto set her plate down and smiled, "I would go as far to say that I might actually consider you my brother now…"
There was an air of confusion in the room still, but as people continued to quietly eat their cake, Kage and Naoto shared a passing glance. Even though their minds had now been separated… there were times where they still understood what the other was thinking. 'To live in a higher state of mentality with your Shadow'… Makoto Nakamura would have been proud.
"So… just to clear something up… I haven't been able to summon my Persona at all since the events yesterday. Is anyone else having this problem…?" Chie spoke up.
Everyone nodded, and Yosuke followed up on that line of thought, "We don't even know why we were able to summon them in the first place… so I guess we can't complain."
Gulping lightly, Kage spoke up to answer that question, "That was… kind of my fault, actually…" He reeled back as all eyes fell on him again, "See… while I was being suppressed by Kon, he had at some point accessed the SSW servers. I watched as he did terrible things with them… he even got Ai Shadow Extracted at some point. I think he planned to use her for some other motive…" Kage tried to explain, "I didn't want that to happen… So, with the last of my energy, I took temporary control of Ai and… well… I used her to extract the Personas out of all of you…"
"Hua? Why would you do that?" Kanji quickly blinked. Ignorant to the loss of his own Persona, Kanji continued to mutter over the fact that he had never been able to summon his.
"So that you would save me…" Kage answered, looking up, "And you did."
Naoto sighed, "Alright, but… you know what Shadow Extracting does, Kage… Now we have to send everyone over to Mitsuru to get the kegare sucked out."
"But it's gone," the little boy shook his head and smiled, "When Kon turned himself into a Persona… all of the kegare that was linked with him dissipated. Because as a Shadow, it was a part of him… but now it is no more. And at the same time, all of your Personas returned to you because the influence of the Dark Hour set them straight," he made a small victory sign, "Case closed~"
"Huh…" Yu spoke up between bites of his cake, still looking down, "We humans saved a Shadow… and in turn, you saved all of us… by awakening a Persona and becoming human as well."
"Wheel of Fortune bullshit," Kanji concluded, waving a hand dismissively through the air.
As everyone finished their dessert, Grandpa's voice spoke up from the other end of the room. He had chosen to watch some TV while the Investigation Group discussed confusing matters, "I think you're all going to want to see this," he spoke up.
Curious, the group left their seats and flocked towards the living room where the TV news was broadcasting a story on the missing people incident. After summarizing up the heart of the matter, the group learned that all of the kidnapped victims had returned home in one piece. Most bizarre was the fact that none of them had any real answer as to why they had disappeared, where they had gone… and who rescued them.
"Did Kon set them free…?" Naoto blinked.
The rest of the Investigation Team softly chuckled, staring between each other.
"Actually…" Rise spoke up, "We found the victims while waiting for you to call us up to the 6th floor. They were being hidden at the back end of the building, a place that was totally unused and probably long forgotten about. Kanzeon noticed them… and so, we simply opened the door for them."
"Well, their bodies were paralyzed when we found them… we couldn't just leave them like that," Yukiko admitted, "But we didn't want to surprise them either. So, after I resuscitated them with Amaterasu's healing, we immediately left the scene and watched just long enough to make sure that they could escape. They left the building dizzy and confused… but… it looks like they all got home safely."
"Thank goodness…" Naoto sighed with an air of relief. It sounded like all the loose ends of this case were finally coming together. Well, except for one thing… "I guess… all that's left to be decided is whether or not I will be staying in this city." Everyone looked up with confusion, and Naoto continued, "I know what terrible things that Tsuge and Isamu have done… there's no way that I would be able to safely keep my job at the Yagokoro police station under their management. Thanks to this case, everything ended quite smoothly… but at the same time, we don't have any evidence of Tsuge's wrong-doing. He won't be punished…"
From the laptop which was left on the dining room table, Mitsuru spoke up and tried to get everyone's attention, "Are you talking about Tsuge?" she called out, "I already know very well that there was a breach in our company's security through his building. It doesn't matter who did it… all I know is that there's connection to the Kirijo Lab's servers somewhere within his complex…" she smiled softly, "Don't worry… he will be silenced accordingly."
Naoto stood up straight, "Mitsuru, that's… that's morbid…"
Mitsuru blinked, "What? I'm simply going to hold him accountable for all of the disarray that happened in the Kirijo Labs while he was an employee here. Trust me, if he needs to go to jail… then there are those that will very obediently send him there," she winked, "Just give me a call if he acts up…"
Naoto turned away from Mitsuru and chuckled softly, "Blackmail…? That's almost ironic…"
It was then that another voice spoke up from behind Mitsuru. It was the voice of the young android girl, Ai, as she bounced up and down behind Mitsuru and tried to peer inside the webcam's lens with her infinitely more complex eye. "Hiiii, happy birthday, you two!" she hollered out in celebration.
Both Kage and Naoto looked up and waved at the camera. "Thank you very much, it's good to see you again, Ai," Naoto spoke out, "How did the operation go?"
"Got my manual override all fixed and tidy!" Ai answered with a beaming smile, hitting a hand against her torso, "Labby-chan says that she's feeling much better too. Though actually, I was wondering… uhm… how is my brother feeling?"
Looking up from the dining room and out the front window, Naoto could see the brilliant red motorcycle resting outside on the pavement. His metal casting was polished and shone brightly underneath the afternoon sun. Not one to eat cake, Sousei had decided to stay outside for the evening, reveling in the knowledge that he wouldn't have to be contained in the Kirijo Labs. He was a free android, legally allowed to assist Naoto in all of her future endeavors. It was a great feeling, knowing that he would be needed…
"You mean Kage's babysitter?" Naoto joked.
Sousei's acute sensors picked up on her words and he gave off an alarmed honk.
"He'll be just fine."