(Iwatodai …)
Takeba Yukari had never been so scared in her life.

She'd been spending the night at a friend's house, the group of them having a study party for the upcoming midterm exams. Mitsuru had given the okay for it, seeing as how they had reached a new gateway in Tartarus, and the full moon was a couple of days away. They had figured it would be safe enough for the brunet to spend a night outside of the dorm, with their group so large.

Oh how wrong they had all been.

Whimpering a bit, the brunet hid behind the remains of part of a building, cowering as she hugged her knees close to her chest. She was only in her pajamas, having fled from the crumbling remains of her friend's house via Io, and hadn't had a chance to change into something more practical yet. If she could just make it to one of the malls, Yukari had started telling herself, she could at least be safe for a few moments, and get into something more practical.

'As it is I feel like I'm just the stock character who always dies in American slasher films.' Yukari sighed, whimpering more as she dared glance over her makeshift shield of rubble. A large dragon was sitting on the other side of it, scales a brilliant crimson color, and if the way Io was wigging out was any indication, it was eating a Shadow that had tried to attack it without a care. Yukari had already noticed several broken coffins on her mad dash to try and get to safety, but she hadn't dared look inside of them. The brunet girl no longer knew how much blood was caused by the Dark Hour itself or not.

Mercifully, the dragon seemed focused on its meal; apparently one of the beast-like Shadows had charged it, and the dragon was taking its time with pulling the thing apart and eating it. Moving as quietly as she could, Yukari did her best to slip away from the dragon, biting her lip to keep from yelping as she stepped on broken glass and concrete in her escape.

Yukari had rounded the corner, and was about ready to bolt out across the wide open road when she was grabbed. One hand slapped over her mouth, and she was pulled down into the broken doorway of a store nearby, dragged into a shadowed corner. Her brain sent off several warnings that she should struggle against whoever was holding her down in hiding, but they were stopped when a familiar voice hissed in her ear.

"Keep still! There's a bunch of those things sitting on the rooftops; you'd be dead before you got ten feet."

That accent ..! Yukari's eyes went wide. Not too many people in Iwatodai had a Kansai accent, so that meant that … ! When the person holding her let go, she turned around as much as she dared to confirm her suspicion.

Sure enough, Shirato Jin was sitting there, frowning as he glanced out the window to try and see if the dragons he spoke of were gone or not. Yukari sat there dumbfounded, unsure of how to react; true, Jin had been a minor annoyance to SEES – he hadn't actually attacked them or anything – and was a lackey of Takaya's, but at the same time, he was the first person she had found in this hellhole, and he'd just saved her from beating eaten.

Wait … "Where's your creepy buddy?" Yukari asked, keeping her voice down as she focused on healing her injured feet.

"Dead." Came the flat response, making the brunet girl snap her head up so fast she almost gave herself whiplash. Sparing a glance back at her, Jin frowned a bit. "Don't know how, why, or who's responsible, but I'm pretty damn certain he's dead. Willing to bet a dragon got a hold of him." Frowning as he turned back to the window, the blue-haired male let out a growl. "Dammit, they're not moving. We're not going to be able to get to the Moonlight Bridge with them there."

"'We'?" Yukari hissed after a moment. "What do you mean we?"

"Unlike you, I can actually fight." Jin retorted with a frown, nodding to the metal briefcase that was next to Yukari. "Now that I don't have Hypnos prodding around inside my brain, Moros is actually good at fighting."

"Huh?"

"I'll explain later." Jin was frowning now, and he turned away from the window and grabbed the briefcase in one hand, pulling Yukari upright with the other one. "We're going to have to book it out the other way and take the long way out of town. Probably gonna run past the place you guys called home too; we can see if any of your 'friends' are still alive."

The mention of S.E.E.S made Yukari's heart hurt; she had no clue if her friends were still alive or not in this fiery wasteland, and if they were, why hadn't they come looking for her? Were they … gone? The brunet didn't want to think about what it meant if her friends and comrades were dead, but at the same time, she wasn't completely stupid. These were dragons. DRAGONS, like the creatures she heard about in fairy tales, the ones that required a gallant knight in shining armor to slay.

S.E.E.S … S.E.E.S was only human. A group of teenagers with a tagalong little kid and a dog. What chance did they have standing up against a group of dragons? Eyes starting to blur as she teared up, Yukari followed Jin along solely to the grip he had on her hand, the blue-haired teen leading her through destroyed buildings and back alleys she didn't even know existed, but was too tired and emotionally wrung-out to pay attention to.

Before long, they had reached the part of town where the dorm stood. To the brunet girl's shock, the building was still in tact, and she tentatively slipped inside with Jin behind her. "Everyone …?" She called out, voice choked. "H – hey, is anyone here?" Taking a few steps into the building, Yukari forced her voice to keep it from trembling, climbing upstairs with a shaky hand. "Minato-kun? Junpei?" She called out, unnerved by the dead silence the rest of the building had. "Ken-kun? Senpai?!"

Panic was starting to set in, and Yukari found herself running up to the third floor, still calling out. "Anyone!?" She eventually called, tripping over the last step to the third floor in exhaustion. Hearing nothing in response to her calls, the brunet girl opted to curl up into a ball on the landing, sobbing to herself. She had hoped … she wanted to see that they were all there, alive and well … or at least ready to fight. Not … not this; she didn't know if they had been killed or if they were out there fighting. She didn't know, and that was scaring her.

Jin was a few steps behind her, the normally crass teen pensive as he looked around. This probably was hurting the girl more than she let on; it took less than a day for her world to turn upside down, and unlike what had happened with him and Strega … she had no clue if anyone was alive or not. Sighing, having no real way to comfort the girl, Jin took care to step around her and leave her to her thoughts, looking around to see if he could find something to get for supplies.

"Wherever we try to make a break through, we're gonna need food and water." He spoke, catching Yukari's attention as he started prodding at the vending machines on the floor. "Moros and I can hack into this here, but I don't know what all you guys have in the kitchen ..." as if on cue, the blue-haired teen's Persona appeared in a flash of blue light, making Yukari stare; it looked like a one-armed robot made out of bright silver tops and dice, the numbers and coding on the silver surfaces lighting up as Jin began to fiddle with the vending machine. Noticing the brunet girl staring at him, he gave a nod. "... You might want to get changed and grab your Evoker. I have a feeling we're gonna be fighting tooth and nail to get out of this city."

Yukari felt her body give a nod as she got up, weakly heading down the hallway to her bedroom. A small part of her wanted to question why Jin was being so helpful to her, but right now, she was too tired, and she should focus on getting her things. Wearily opening the door, the brunet looked around at the sight of shattered glass before going and getting changed. All she had clean were her winter boots, capris and another one of her pink cardigans, but they would have to do. Her armor for Tartarus was also there, along with her bow and a quiver full of arrows.

Strapping them on, she paused again, looking at her desk drawer. She still didn't know if her Persona would be any use against the dragons, but she could still heal … Sighing, she reached into it and pulled out the holster, strapping it onto her thigh as something red also fell out of the drawer. Her S.E.E.S armband. Her hand shook as she knelt, reaching to grab it. As much as she hated it, and had only joined for her own goals …

This was all she had left of everyone.

Cradling the strip of red fabric close to her chest, she looked around with blurry eyes; she doubted Jin would be able to carry all of the food and drink they would need in his briefcase. Her school bag was useless, but the duffel bag for archery … Where did she stick the dumb thing? Eventually finding it under her bed, Yukari grabbed it – to her relief, spare arrows and bowstrings were in the one pocket – before deciding to head back downstairs, heart heavy.

Jin wasn't on the third floor, but a quick dart down the stairs showed him in the kitchen, checking the fridge. "Holy cow how much food do you guys go through?" The blue-haired teen grumbled through an apple in his mouth, looking up when he heard Yukari approach. Pulling the fruit out of his mouth, he nodded at the duffel bag. "Smart call. Put it on the counter and we can start putting food in it; both of us are range fighters, but at least I don't need something stuck on my back. I'll haul the food around." Before Yukari could protest, he had already returned to poking through the fridge again, apple back in his mouth to eat.

Not having the energy to trudge over to where he was and smack him, Yukari instead did just what he said, having it halfway full of food and the drinks Jin had managed to gather from the vending machines when he decided to help her, a fresh apple in his mouth. Did the boy ever eat? Yukari went to ask when both of them heard footsteps coming down from the fourth floor. Panic overtook the blue-haired boy's eyes, but Yukari nodded at the cupboard.

"One of those is hollow and empty! We can both probably squeeze in there!" Nodding, the two scrambled to hide, bringing the duffel bag with them to stick in the oven while they hid in the cupboard, one door ajar enough for Yukari to see out of.

It was the chairman, looking completely unharmed, arms folded over his shoulders. "Hmmm … they're late." He let out a sigh, sounding upset about something. "Perhaps I should have been more precise when I told them to meet me here instead of the Tower."

Yukari – about ready to call out to him – had her mouth covered by Jin. The blue-haired teen way lying on top of her due to the lack of room in the cupboard, and if the situation had been any less life-threatening, Yukari would have been mortally embarrassed. As it was, the two of them had no other options, and could only lie in wait as the building started shaking, the steady thudding of a set of large wings coming towards the dorm.

Ikutsuki seemed relieved. "Ah, good … There they are." Was all he said before the double doors that lead to the dorm were melted down, and a strange man walked in to the dorm, a pair of smaller dragons snaking their heads in to flank him. The newcomer was tall – perhaps even taller than the senpai – and his darker skintone was offset by hair the color of flames. His robes were long and a deep crimson trimmed in braided brown leather, and the girl could just see the peak of a white scar on his chest above the neckline of his robes.

The man walked forward, stopping directly in front of Ikutuski, the two other dragons right behind him. "You are most impatient, man-spawn." His voice – however he knew how to speak Japanese, Yukari didn't know – was deep and gravely, and something about it seemed just plain wrong. "My kin were enjoying the city, for the most part. I did not have a pleasant time of it." At this, a deep frown crossed the strange man's voice. "I thought you had disposed of your toy man-spawn fighters."

Yukari's building rage was subdued by the other teen lying on top of her, but she was all but certain she would have yelled if Jin hadn't had his hand over her mouth. As it was, Ikutsuki frowned, arms crossing over his chest. "I did, however, barring a few that could have easily been disposed of by you and your fellow dragons. The child and the dying man in particular."

"That dying man you speak of, is he the one who controls the rider with the spear through his torso?" The man retorted, voice taking on a penetrating quality that had Yukari shaking. "He wounded me; took his spear and stabbed me in the mouth, even as I tried to eat him." Orange eyes flashed as he brought a few fingers into his mouth, only to draw them out again, blood on them. "Even now, after about an hour, the wound bleeds; he managed to strike deep into tender flesh that boasts no armor. No dying man has any right to that much strength. As it were, a strange … creature … came to aid him, and its powers were not something I was prepared to handle without aid." Frowning, the tall man reached out and wiped the bloodied fingers on Ikutsuki's shirt, walking around him. "That man should have been the first one you disposed of."

To Jin's satisfaction, Ikutsuki winced at that, although the man resisted the urge to wipe the blood off of his shirt. "I didn't suspect Shinjiro-kun would be willing to try that stunt again. The last time he attempted it ended quite disastrously, and none of his regular moves would have damaged you; I suppose something must had made him decide it was worth trying to fight off a dragon. I'm more surprised your wound hasn't healed yet."

"My kind heal at a different rate, and this wound is on a place where my scales do not reach." The man replied, now beginning to pace around Ikutuski in a circle. "Now, tell me, foolish man-spawn, what did you hope to cause by our arrival? If sending the other man-spawn through the gate was as simple as my warriors claim, there was no need to call us here."

"But of course there was, you inept lizard." Ikutsuki's voice suddenly sounded smug. "Why else would I call you through here? You are needed to summon the Mother Night and bring about an eternal darkness!"

At this, the man paused, and the two hiding teenagers could have sworn his face was amused. Two seconds after making the assumption, the dragons in the doorway started to make a strange noise, almost somewhere between a roar and a growl. When the large man threw his head backwards in a hearty, powerful laugh, they blinked to realize that the dragons were laughing with him.

"Summon the Mother Night?" The man in front of him laughed, orange eyes amused. "Why on earth would fire dragons do such a thing, and why would the Mother Night usher in an eternal dark? You stupid, stupid man-spawn, I am not the inept one here." At this, he stepped behind Ikutsuki, a clawed hand on the man's head. "It is you." the man's claws began to dig into Ikutuski's skin, drawing blood. "Now, if things were a bit more in our favor, I would keep you about as a pet jester. At least you're amusing in your idiocy. However, at the same time … I cannot have you open the gate again."

As he spoke, the man's hand went to Ikutsuki's throat, the claws drawing blood to the surface. "As such … your usefulness has almost expired. The one thing left for you to do?" A cruel, cold smirk crossed his mouth, and the next thing the teenagers saw, Ikutsuki had been thrown to the two waiting dragons. "Is to be a snack. Enjoy, my brothers of flame."

One of the dragons let out a joyous shriek, and that was all the prompting Yukari needed to hide her face, unable to cover her ears at the crunch that echoed through the dorm a few seconds later. From the way Jin's face was pressed against her hair, he had looked away too, both of them shaking in fright as the sound of the chairman being torn apart echoed in the gloom for a few seconds, the strange man letting out a dark chuckle.

"Good riddance." He commented, walking over to the sofa and wiping his hand off on it. "But this place is nice; I believe I shall retreat to the highest floor here to rest. I doubt it will have much in the way as this floor down here." Nodding, he turned to the two dragons, whose muzzles were both smeared with blood as they licked their chops clean from the sudden snack. "The two of you, guard this building's entrance, and guard it well. We need not obey the laws of the Dragonstones here, but I am not going to take the risk of there being no dragonslayers running around this land."

Both of the dragons let out replying growls, moving their heads out of the doorway before proceeding to barricade it with bodies covered in hard scales. The man let out another laugh before starting to head upstairs, bypassing the kitchen entirely as he walked up the stairs, the rank of thick, woodland smoke following him. As it was, both Yukari and Jin remained where they were for what felt like several minutes, too scared to move until the crashing from the fourth floor settled down, and they could hear the snores of something large far overhead.

"... We need to get out of here now." Jin whispered in Yukari's ear, slowly sliding off of her and out of the cupboard. They had left the oven door open, allowing him to wriggle their bag of supplies and his briefcase out without much trouble as Yukari slipped out of the cupboard as well, still shaking. "... Is there a back door?"

"Y … yes ..." Yukari nodded, keeping her voice low as well. "Th … this way ..." much to their relief, none of the dragons stirred, and there were no nasty surprises waiting for them outside the back door. As it was, the two of them made a mad dash, eventually reaching Iwatodai Station without any risk of a dragon attack. Leaning against the spiral staircase, Yukari felt her stomach churn, and gripped onto the metal as she took sick over the railing.

Jin let out a wince in sympathy, digging out a bottle of water to hand to her. "... I can't blame you. For as much evil as that bastard did, that wouldn't be an end I would wish on anyone." He said as Yukari took the water bottle, rinsing out her mouth. "Now … now the two of us just need to get out of this city, some – Chidori!?" The sudden change in his sentence and tone made Yukari look up, following Jin's gaze; there, on the tracks, was the redheaded girl, walking along as if in a trance, headed for Port Island proper. The pale green of her hospital gown stood out in the hazy red that the Dark Hour had become, and she seemed unaware of their presence.

"! How'd she get out of the hospital?!" Yukari was just as surprised, eyes worried. "L – let alone, how'd she get this far away from it without a dragon ..."

"... Medea. Of course." Jin scowled. "She's probably the same as me; without Hypnos around, she's thinking clearly. But why's she headed right into the death trap ..?" Before Yukari could stop him, the blue-haired teen made a beeline for the tracks, Yukari drawing her bow and stringing it as she raced to keep up with him. While Chidori didn't move faster than a brisk walk, the red-headed girl had a not-insignificant lead, and it took them a few moments of running for them to catch up with enough to hear her talking to herself.

"A brilliant steel gate … Yes Medea, I know … I can see it." She seemed to almost be in a trance, and Yukari could make out the faint outline of what could only be her Persona leading her along. "That gate … I know I'll find Junpei there … Somehow …" The two following her came up short, ready to shout when they saw a dragon perched on a nearby train, casually scarfing down people from the inside of the vehicle without a care to the defenseless girl walking along the tracks beside it.

"... It didn't budge." Yukari hissed in Jin's ear, voice filled with confusion.

"Medea's got some sort of passive shield ability." Jin explained, voice deathly quiet as the two of them began backing up. "That dragon probably doesn't realize she's there." Something about him seemed to be wavering, like he was debating chasing after the redhead anyways. "But … she's the only one who has that skill. If I tried to run up to her, all I would do is bring her to the dragon's attention, and that would be bad."

He wanted to go after Chidori, Yukari realized with a blink. He was scared for the redhead girl, even though she was clearly the safest out of them all at this point. "She … she kept mentioning a gate … She might know where the others are at."

"Even then … the two of us wouldn't last." Jin's sigh was every bit as painful as the first. "We're too close to that dragon to try and risk getting her attention, especially since Moros doesn't have that sort of shield block on me." A long, heavy silence passed, in which Chidori proceeded to get further along the tracks to a part where a dragon was all but sprawled across the bridge, sound asleep; the two watched in nerves as the redhead simply got on her hands and knees and crawled beneath the thing's tail, before vanishing from sight on the other side. Jin let out a pained noise. "... even if I could, it would be stupid to chase after her. She's honestly safer than we are."

"... I'm sorry ..." Yukari whispered, looking down. "I … I know we aren't exactly on the same page with goals, to understate things, but … I know you two were friends."

"Tch, the book got thrown into the ocean when the dragons showed up." Jin shook his head, frowning. "Right now, we need to find what set of tracks will get us out of town, and fa – GET DOWN!" Yukari felt herself being pushed backwards, making her fall onto her rear as a pillar of fire slammed into Jin where she had once been standing.

To her shock, the fire didn't turn the blue-haired teen into a cinder. In fact, a mirror-like surface formed in front of him, and the fire shot back at the dragon, earning a shriek of surprise. "Shit!" The next thing Yukari knew, Jin had pulled her upright and pushed her in front of him, both of them running. The dragon pursued them, continuing to breathe fire; to Yukari's shock, Jin would push her out of the way each time, reflecting the flames back at the dragon for another screech of shock and anger.

They reached the train station and holed up in it, Yukari crying as the gigantic beast landed on the roof with a screech and began trying to claw its way through the roof and ceiling to get to them. Jin let her cling, frowning as he prepared to shove her into some form of safety and run out again to draw the dragon away.

He'd done enough wrong to deserve death. Nobody would mourn him.

The dragon finally crashed through the ceiling, flames and smoke dribbling from its mouth as it extended it's neck into the building, searching for it's food. A large forked tongue snaked into the air, and Jin was all but certain it could taste fear. Finally spotting the two, it let out a victorious shriek, lunging forward to bite them.

Instinctively throwing his hands up as he put himself between Yukari and the dragon once again, he was shocked when Moros lunged, the Persona's presence changing in his mind to something larger as a responding roar met the attacking dragon.

"Y – your Persona ..!" Yukari's voice was shocked amidst the fear, making Jin lower his arms and look, pure shock written over his face. In between them and the dragon was a second dragon, this one coated in the blue flames of a Persona. It was Oriental in shape, a long, serpentine body covered in blue scales with a lighter blue mane racing down its back. Green fins sprouted from its forearms, and a bone-like protrusion on its chest arched over the creatures shoulders to create a sort of sail, a pearl glowing in the center of the growth. White antlers sprung from its head, and glowing green eyes locked onto the fire dragon as it let out a primal roar, a torrent of water firing from its mouth to strike the other reptile in the face.

Ryuujin.

The name rang in Jin's mind as the fire dragon screeched, clearly not liking the blast of water striking it in the face. Ryuujin remained where it was, blue aura glowing as the ceiling dragon shot a pillar of fire at the blue dragon. Like with Moros, a mirror-like surface appeared, repelling the fire back at its point of origin. The display earned them a feminine chuckle, and a strange woman in blue appeared from the doorway.

"Well well, I guess the saying is true; 'fire cannot kill a dragon'." She spoke, deep voice impressed. The fire dragon turned to her, managing to force more of its body through the destroyed roof. It seemed to have decided that the blond woman was an easier target than the two currently hiding behind Ryuujin. "But my oh my, you are a bold beast. I suppose it would bee foolish of me to let you run amok." A red aura flared around her as she opened the book, a card hovering over it. "Siegfried? Take care of the dragon."

At her call, the card shattered, and a blond swordsman in red and black quilted armor appeared, a sword in his hands. The dragon seemed taken aback by this, but couldn't retreat in time and ended up losing its head as the swordsman's blade cut through the neck with ease, killing it and severing the head.

Scarlet blood cascaded onto the floor from the stump of the neck as the body jerked back in a death throe, the severed head hissing and snarling as Margaret looked it over for a few moments. A second later, a pixie had appeared, and the head was destroyed. "There, that's one annoyance out of the way." She muttered, approaching the two teens as they stood up, Ryuujin vanishing in a flicker of blue light.

"Who … who are you?" Yukari spoke up after a long moment, still clinging to Jin's arm. She wasn't normally this timid, not by a long shot, but it was all just so much the brunet girl wasn't fully able to keep her normal attitude about her. The golden-haired woman looked at the two teens, a soft smile on her face.

"I'm Margaret." She introduced herself, beckoning them over. "While I can't give away full details as to where I come from, I can assure you that I am an ally in this situation." Looking them over, she gave a sad sigh. "I wish I could tell you that the battle flows in our favor, but that would be a farce. This city is too large to be defended properly, and with your allies missing, there isn't enough manpower to even attempt such a force. Iwatodai is lost to the dragons."

Jin and Yukari both looked to the floor, a heavy weight filling their chests. They had suspected that this would be the case, especially with the rest of S.E.E.S unaccounted for. Without any resistance, the port city was a sitting duck, and they'd been unlucky enough to get caught in the middle of everything. "So … what do we do now?" Yukari eventually asked, her voice small. "Do we just … lay down and die?"

"Of course not." Margaret shook her head. "There are still plenty of other Persona-users throughout Japan, not even touching on Tokyo." Seeing the stunned looks she was getting, the woman let out a soft chuckle. "What? Did you think all those stories of magical girls, kamen riders, and sentai were mere fantasy? Those are adaptations of the stories of the Tokyo based Persona-users. The most populous city on the planet it might be, but Tokyo has a defense force that even a dragon would be foolish to try and take on."

"So the only reason we're giving the dragons Iwatodai is due to not enough people to defend it?" Jin clarified, sighing. "And on top of that, it's where the dragons themselves are popping out of. Even if we kill all of them here, they'll just respawn from inside of Tartarus."

"Correct." The gold-haired woman gave a nod. "So, the first order of business would be to get you two out of the city before another one tries to eat you both." Still speaking, she walked over to a large television display, the one that normally showed the departure schedules. "Much to our relief, there is someone who can get you through to safety. It's unorthodox, but it'll have to do." Margaret knocked on the display's frame at that, ripples of black and white appearing on the screen. "Teddie, are you there, little one?"

{Yup!} Yukari and Jin both jumped a foot as the display spoke back, the voice sounding polite and cheerful. {None of those stinky, scary lizards in here yet! You find people to send to Inaba?}

"Yes, I have, and fighters too." Margaret nodded. "Be gentle though; they've narrowly avoided being eaten several times."

{Okay! Send 'em on through! I'll get them to Inaba as fast as you can blink!} The voice replied, and the black and white ripples solidifying. {Come on in!} Margaret chuckled a bit.

"Don't be frightened; Teddie is quite harmless." She replied, gold eyes soft. "I came across him when I was escorting citizens to cities with better security, and he mentioned that there was a small band of resistance fighters forming in Yasoinaba. He'll guide you there, and for now, it seems that the dragons cannot enter."

{They're too big! And they smell like burnt food!} 'Teddie' replied from inside of the television. {But yeah, hurry, hurry! Let's get you guys outta there before another one shows up!}

Jin glanced at Yukari, still seeing her shaking and teary-eyed from nerves, and gripped her hand. She looked at him, and he felt his stomach tie in knots. This … this was the same girl with the bow who had yelled at him that night in July, right? Why did she seem so much smaller now? Was it just because she was alone, and her friends were most likely dead? Whatever the reason, the sight made whatever had given rise to Ryuujin flare up again, and he gripped her hand tighter. "... We need to get to saftey."

"O … Okay ..." Yukari eventually replied, letting Jin lead her into the display, Margaret handing over the dropped duffel bag full of their food before they tumbled through the black and white ripples, eventually landing in a foggy area, a blue bear in a red and white suit waiting for them inside.

"Hi there!" The blue bear greeted, waving a small paw around. "So there's two of you? That's good! Pops will appreciate all the backup he can get! I'm Teddie, by the way." Yukari blinked, staring at the bear for a moment as she got onto her feet, Jin right beside her.

"Teddie?" the brunet girl asked, voice exhausted. The bear seemed to notice, because he gave a small nod and toddled over to them, stubby legs squeaking a bit as he came to the two teens.

"Yeah, that's me." He nodded. "I … I know, it's scary out there. All of my friends scattered when we heard them outside, but it seems that they're too big to get in here. I can get you to Inaba nice and safe, a – and Pops will look after you from there. There's not as many dragons out there, so you guys can get settled in and ready to help fight without problem!"

"F – fight?" Yukari's voice broke. "As in, fight against those dragons? Are you insane!?" She was trembling where she stood, hands balling into fists that gripped her S.E.E.S armband tight. "I … I'm not a fighter. I was so scared of just fighting Shadows, even though I wanted to know what all happened with my dad … A … and even then, I wasn't good. I didn't have the right bow, my aim was horrible, and I only focused on healing. I'm not a fighter like my friends … and … and they're all gone."

"M-Miss?" Teddie seemed rightfully panicked, putting furry blue paws on her bent arms. "I – it's gonna be okay! I – I promise!"

"No! No it's not!" Yukari countered, tears rolling down her face. "T – the dragon in the dorm said he tried to eat Shinjiro-senpai, and … and the rest of them were 'disposed of'! If they could get rid of them so easily, what chance do I have?! I … I can't do anything … I'm useless right now ..." Her knees gave out again, and Yukari hit the floor with her face buried into her SEES armband, sobbing hysterically as Teddie reached out and hugged her, the blue bear doing his best to try and calm her down.

Standing off to one side, Jin let out a sigh. He had been expecting this to happen, he really had, but it still frustrated and annoyed him. Did she really have that little faith in her power as a Persona-user? Even after seeing firsthand that neither Jin or Chidori had been harmed by dragon fire thanks to theirs? "You know, healers are still needed in a war because they keep people from dying." He eventually spoke up, voice stern. It did the trick though, and made both Yukari and Teddie look at him. Frowning, Jin pulled his glasses off to clean them as he kept speaking. "So you're weak? Get stronger. You're not a fighter? Focus on your healing skills." Returning his glasses to his face, the blue-haired male frowned. "You're the only one who can make yourself change. If you give up this badly already, then why are you even trying to run from the dragons if you're certain you're going to die?"

Yukari didn't seem to have a response to that, hazel eyes wet from crying. Sighing, Jin walked over to her, locking eyes. "You saw that the Personas can stand up to the dragons." He said simply, voice calm. "As long as we remain active in trying to bring them down, the dragons won't win against us. We just need to get somewhere where we have backup, and the only place we can go," At that, Jin gestured to Teddie and the expansive, foggy world they were standing in, "is somewhere through here, where there's other people waiting to fight the dragons off. Humans are stubborn, stubborn bastards. And I'm not gonna let that asshole Ikutsuki's wish come true."

Turning when Yukari still didn't respond, Jin bent down to pick up the duffel back and briefcase. "Stay here if you want, Takeba; if you want to change, you're gonna have to be the one to make the first movement. Personally, I'm done with lying around waiting to die. The dragons are gonna have to rip me apart to get me down this time."

Yukari stared at his back for a long moment, not knowing what to say at first. Teddie looked between the two of them, stubby arms still wrapped around Yukari, looking like a lost child. Jin was right; Yukari let out a mental sigh, the memory of the blue dragon Ryuujin appearing in a flare of blue fire burned into her mind's eye. What … what could make a Persona change like that? That wasn't like the Wild Card the Arisato twins possessed; she had watched Moros transform in mid-flight into the blue dragon.

She was snapped out of her thoughts when Jin walked over to her, still standing; the blue-haired male was waiting for her response. "I … I'm scared." She admitted, voice hoarse. "I … I don't want to die, but … I can't get stronger on my own … I don't want to be left alone ..." It was painful to admit, and she had to blink when a glove-covered hand was offered to her.

"Then get up and let's get walking." Jin's voice wasn't as hard as it had been a moment ago, making her look up at him. "I don't mind company, I just don't want to deal with someone who gives up all the time." Yukari looked between him and his hand for a moment before nodding, taking the hand offered to her in one of her own.

With a quick tug, Jin had her back on her feet, and Teddie was at her side, holding onto her dropped bow. "That's good ..." Teddie let out a smile, nodding as he offered Yukari the weapon again. "Nothing good will happen if we stay here; Pops is gonna be happy to get all the help he can." Twirling after the brunet girl took the bow, the blue bear pointed off in a random direction. "But introductions will have to wait; for now, let's go to Inaba!"

The trip was quiet afterwords, the trio somehow making good time through the thin fog; according to Teddie, the fog was normally thicker, but the chaos of the outside world meant that the fog was drawn over there like some sort of horror game. Even pauses for food and drink didn't take long – Teddie was eager to chow down with them, expressing glee over the sweet taste of the pop – and before long, they came across what looked like a recording studio. Looking at the metal support beams overhead, Yukari bumped into Jin when the latter stopped, looking around as well.

"Well … this place isn't ominous." Sarcasm laced the blue-haired male's voice, making Teddie turn to him.

"Yeah, but it's always been like this. You get used to it." The bear nodded. "I'm gonna have to send you guys through really fast, okay? I think Margaret might have more people for me in a different entrance; because of the way this place works, I can get people safely to places like Tokyo without any chance of a dragon attacking."

"And you look like a toy bear." Yukari nodded after a moment, voice still sore from the crying she had done previously. "I don't think anybody should be scared of you."

"Yup yup!" Teddie nodded. "That's why I took this form; I don't wanna scare people." As he spoke, the blue bear tapped his foot on the ground, causing a tower of retro televisions to manifest. "And here's the gateway to Inaba, like you guys need! And oh, good! I hear Pops out there!" Turning to the stack of televisions, the bear leaned forward a bit. "Hey, Pops, it's Teddie! I've got a couple more people here, and one of them's a healer! Get ready to catch!"

{What th -! Damn it Ted, I have sharp objects in my hands! Gimme a second!} An adult male's voice shot back through the televisions, sounding panicked. Yukari couldn't tell what all was being said on the other side, however, especially as Teddie grabbed her and Jin and pressed them against the tower of televisions.

"The hell are you doin'!?" Jin shouted, eyes wide.

"Here they come Pops!" Teddie called out instead, shoving the two teenagers through the televisions. Yukari was aware of the black and white ripples of light for only a moment before landing very hard on something uncomfortable with a mutual 'Oomph.' The sound of a thud and a groan of pain from Jin told her that he had landed as well, faceplanting on the ground.

"What did I land o ..." She started asking, only to blink when she saw she was sitting on someone in a police uniform, black hair covering the person's head as they groaned. "Oh my god! I'm sorry!" she squeaked, getting up to try and help the man up.

"Teenagers?" The gruff voice the two had heard from before was behind her, making Yukari turn. Standing there, carrying an armful of naked blades wrapped up in a leather cloth, was a second police officer. He appeared to be in his late thirties, an unlit cigarette in his mouth as he looked her and Jin over. "Dammit, if shit wasn't so bad right now, I'd tell you two to head for the hills. But we're not really spoiled for choices here." Frowning again, the officer waited for the younger cop to be upright again before nodding. "Alright you two, I'm Dojima; shits gone to hell and we're gonna make sure it doesn't get worse."


Tori's Notes: Okay be honest, how many of you were expecting me to end it with that?

So yeah, Ikutsuki is now dragon noms, Jin is not evil, and Iwatodai has been handed over to the dragons because there weren't enough people around to defend it.

Now, for those of you wondering about the appearance of the p4 cast, I'm going to be quite blunt; because of the time frame, Souji and Yosuke will not be appearing in this story. It's still about a year and a half too early for Souji to arrive, and while the Junes in the Inaba area is halfway through being built, I don't think it would make sense for Yosuke and his family to be moved down to Inaba until it was completed. The rest of the Investigation team is much more likely, although don't expect to see Rise either; she's most likely on tour in a different part of Japan at this point in time.

next chapter will get us back to Elibe, and we'll get started with Lyn's story. Seeya then!