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Persona: Worlds Under War

Chapter Text

March 17, 20XX


Location: Tokyo, Japan - Earth XX

BANG!

That was the sound that Kasumi Yoshizawa hears from Ann Takamaki's room. Failing to save her teammate on time, she inspects the room and sees her slumped corpse on the bed. On her feet is a letter containing an apology to a few people:

"To anyone who is reading this,

Yes, I am now dead as you begin reading this. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm beginning to make myself look like an idiot. Anyway, I'll cut to the chase before things get worse...

For my best friend Shiho, I'm sorry I couldn't save you on time. I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise of being strong for you. If only I knew how to move on from what happened, I wouldn't feel like this. The guilt in my heart hurts more and more after you passed away, and with recent events I have been thinking you came back to life as if it was a dream. I guess I'm dumber than I am after I realized it for nearly two years now.

For my dear friend Akira Kurusu, I am so sorry I have neglected you when you needed us the most. After Futaba-chan found your rotting corpse in Leblanc's attic, that's what hit me back to reality. I promised to be by your side for best or for worst, and sadly I haven't fulfilled my promise to you either. I'm gonna miss your charismatic aura that makes everyone feel comfortable.

For Kasumi-chan, I'm sorry I ignored your warnings. If you happen to read this before anyone else, I hope you don't feel any grudges towards me after I called you names.

For everyone else, I hope that the future will be better for you. Even when things are getting tough, do me a favor and don't fuck up like I just did. Fight for what's right. And I'm speaking this as both Ann Takamaki.... and as the Phantom Thief Panther."

Kasumi felt a sense of guilt in her as she muttered under her breath, "How many people do I have to fail in saving? First, Akira... then Okumura-senpai... now Takamaki-senpai?" Tears begin to flow from her eyes as she recalls her past experiences, "I know I failed to save Sumire from that road, and I know I failed to save Father when Shido won the election. Am I some sort of unlucky charm?" She then stands up and lets Ann's lifeless body lay on her bed, closing the blank blue orbs that stare at her for a few seconds. She then approaches the main door when a certain blonde boy and red-eyed girl appear in front of her.

"WHERE'S ANN!?" was all Ryuji can say as he is panting heavily.

"Ryuji! Will you not yell at people's faces for once?", Makoto scolded him as she looks at Kasumi, "What happened to Ann?"

Kasumi never spoke a word and gave them Ann's letter. Enraged, Ryuji rushes past Kasumi and enters Ann's room as he begins to mourn loudly on his fallen friend's body. Makoto tries her best not to cry as they know the situation is getting worse. She catches up with Ryuji and consoles him before telling him to leave as Kasumi watches the hallway for any threats. Ryuji then spoke up, "The hell, man?! Is it because we accepted Doc's reality that made us weak? That he made us forget about our leader while he plotted some damn idea on killing all of us!?" Makoto places her hand on his shoulder and sternly reminds him, "We know this is our fault, but that doesn't mean we're weak or oblivious. What would Akira say if he saw us in despair and feeling discouraged?" Ryuji sighed and kicked the floor as he marches out of the door.

As the three proceed to leave the Takamaki residence, Ryuji is shot in the knee by soldiers. "THERE THEY ARE!", the captain of the squad yells as Kasumi changes into her Phantom Thief outfit, which consists of a gray coat with frilled sleeves, leotards that show a red violet color, a belt with a diamond carved into a rose, and thigh-high stilletto boots. Her crimson gloves reach for her battle rifle to fire back at the soldiers. "Get him outta here. I'll provide cover for you two," she commanded Makoto as the latter carries Ryuji and assists him in taking cover. The soldiers were outmatched for Kasumi's quick reflexes that made her dodge their shots, giving her an advantage of taking them out flawlessly. After the last soldier is killed, she runs to the hiding duo and gives them help in escaping the neighborhood.

The trio arrive in Yongen-Jaya, but as soon as they set foot in the backalleys, they hear more soldiers entering through the other side of the district. "Shit," Ryuji cursed, "we're screwed! Now what?" As Makoto and Kasumi think of ideas that could help in avoiding the incoming soldiers, they suddenly hear a woman giving a battle cry as she attacks their pursuers. As they took a peek at the fight, they are shocked with what they see: a robot with a ponytail and a huge axe is wiping the floor with them.

She notices the trio and calls them over, signalling them that the fight is over. "Oi! Right over here! It's clear now!", said the robot. Cautiosly exiting their hiding spot, Kasumi and Makoto assist Ryuji one more time as they join their savior.

"Who are you?", Makoto asked. She did not expect the response, however.

"My name's Labrys, an Anti-Shadow Weapon made by the Shadow Operatives."

Kasumi suddenly glares at Labrys, as if something pissed her off. "Shadow Operatives? You mean that terrorist group that hunts down Persona users?"

"Wait, ain't that bad?", Ryuji and Makoto panicked in unison.

"Trust me, lady, if I wanted to hunt down Persona users you'd be dead by my axe already."

"Doesn't mean you've atoned for your crimes, especially letting Kenzo Manahashi have the Sacrificial Lamb project!"

Makoto, now intrigued by what Kasumi said, inquires Labrys. "What's the Sacrifical Lamb Project, if I mean to ask without offense?" Kasumi gives Makoto a glare before sighing in defeat, as she knows that her own team outcasted her while investigating said project.

The battle robot replied in detail, "The Sacrificial Lamb Project was supposed to be a confidential operation wherein the Shadow Universe would be blocked off from the real world with the help of a machine using a Persona user's power. When enough power has been absorbed, that power is used to seal off the portal between the worlds at the cost of the Persona user to become mortal once again."

"However, because they let some scumbag named Kenzo Manahashi have the project, things went wrong. And to put the tiniest cherry on top, he recruited Doctor Maruki to the project as a way of having the Metaverse in his power," Kasumi interjected, "His top priority? Kidnap or kill all Persona users for the sake of powering the machine further."

"Holy shit. So Maruki was with this Manahashi guy from the start?" Ryuji asked as if he was making a point. He kinda did as Labrys replied to him.

"It'd seem like it. He was the guy with the research that split up into two factions: one for Shido, and one for us."

Before the discussion went further, Makoto informs them of their position. "I hate to break it to you guys, but this isn't the perfect place to talk about something like this." Ryuji, Kasumi, and Labrys agree as they walk to Leblanc. Or what's left of it.

In front of them is a now-destroyed Leblanc Cafe, shown with a door broken to bits on the outside and everything - from kitchenware to books to even the seats - in a state of derelict. The attic seemed okay on the outside, but only the Thieves know what its inside looks like.

"Good. You're here," said an orange-haired girl accompanied by a tall boy with blue hair and another boy with a tan coat.

"Took you long enough," Ryuji uttered as Makoto sets him down, "where's Morgana?"

Without hesitation, the blue-haired boy spoke with sadness in his tone. "Dead."

The boy with the tan coat then followed his word, "We already found him rotting near Untouchable. It seemed that he had the same idea as I did."

"Well, that means we're undermanned in this. But thanks for the information, Akechi-san," Kasumi courteously thanked.

The orange-haired girl, Futaba Sakura, noticed her statement and questioned it. "Undermanned? Wait, where's Ann?"

Silence filled the air, meaning only one thing for them in a time like this. After a short while, Akechi broke the silence.

"Pardon me, robot lady, but we have something to check in the attic. Mind watching the lunatic with the bleeding knee here for a minute?"

"The fuck did you say, Akechi!?" Ryuji fired a look at him as he scowled.

"He didn't mean any ill intent, Ryuji. That's his way of saying, 'watch my friend'." The blue-haired boy told him.

"I'm neither friend nor foe, Yusuke. You know it," Akechi barked as he made his way through. Kasumi, Makoto, Futaba, and Yusuke followed.

The group arrives upstairs, with the sight of a blanket covering a body being the first they see. They stop dead in their tracks before they get close to the body, all showing looks of grief and dejection. Akechi notices this and proceeds forward.

"It seems you've all feel guilty about abandoning him," Akechi's words shot at the group like a spear going through, "I guess it didn't have to be my hand that killed him after all."

Angered by his blaming, Yusuke furiously defends the group. "Are you trying to say this is our fault to begin with!? I cannot believe you would have the nerve to say things like that to us - HIS OWN TEAMMATES!"

Futaba followed up his defense, "Yeah, and what the hell were you? A snake in the grass want to bite Akira in the neck since the day you met him."

"ENOUGH!"

All have their eyes on Kasumi, who is holding back her tears. "You all should be ashamed of yourselves! Blaming each other for things that you are all responsible for!" No one tried to defy her. "I myself am at fault as well for this. If only I have realized it sooner, we would have stopped this madness. But we are already too late for that."

Akechi stares at her intensely before pulling out a notebook under Akira's bed. It is a notebook that contained details about The Conspiracy, as well as how they are connected to the Shadow Operatives.

"Looks like you weren't the only one looking into them, Yoshizawa."

Futaba then alerts the group suddenly, "Guys, I'm picking up hearings of another patrol unit entering Yongen. We need to leave now!"

The crew rushes downstairs only to see Ryuji standing by the doorway with his leg bleeding.

"Ryuji!", Makoto yelled, "You shouldn't be standing."

Ryuji replied with a dark look in his eyes, "That Labrys lady says we only have three minutes to prepare and leave. She's grabbing her friends who will get us in the main road. And the last thing I need is pulling you all down because of my knee."

"What are trying to say?"

"I'm staying behind. If these bastards want us, they will have to go through me first."

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?", Makoto now scolding Ryuji but at the same time began worrying, "That's suicide!"

Ryuji finally decides to speak his heart out, "I let Akira down. I let the Phantom Thieves down. I let my mom down. I let everyone down. Bad enough if I have to keep everyone down all the time. So do me a favor and just get out while you can!"

Not wanting Ryuji to die alone like everyone else, Yusuke steps forward. "Then I shall join you."

"Forget it, Yusuke. You're in good shape to escape with the rest."

"Physically, I may. But mentally and emotionally, I am not. I fooled myself as I fooled everyone. And I will not stand to live my life with that sorrow burdening me to my last breath."

Not arguing against his reason, Ryuji sighs and walks over to the counter. "I feel hungry. Mind cooking for me, Yusuke?"

Before Yusuke can respond, Kasumi pulls his shoulder to confirm his decision. "Are you sure about this, Kitagawa-senpai? This is a one-way ticket."

Yusuke hugs her before speaking in a soft tone, "I should thank you for opening my eyes. In fact, as I reunite with the others who have passed, I should thank them as well for being alongside me in this journey. I should also apologize to Akira when I see him for neglecting his pleas of help, which brought me back to my old self. You, Yoshizawa, are now one of the last Phantom Thieves in this. I trust you like how Akira does."

Labrys then returns to the group, "Alright, you guys. The van's ready. Hurry it up!" As she watches the group leave, she looks at Ryuji and Yusuke inside Leblanc. "Are you certain about this?"

"My mind's made up. We're gonna go down the hard way."

"I agree. Let this be known as a splendid finale for the marvelous Fox and the intimidating Skull."

Labrys nods and leaves the two alone. Yusuke then begins to create a beef bowl with what's left of the ingredients in the fridge.

As they wait for their impending doom to happen, Yusuke spoke with doubt. "Has it been our fault that this series of events have unfold? Maybe it is, maybe tis not. But regardless, we failed our duty as Phantom Thieves the moment we destroyed the God of Control." Ryuji can only laugh at his words and reply with a heavy heart. "Akira'd surely be kicking our asses right now if we listened to him. Seeing Ann's suicide note made things worse for me to take in."

"If you do not mind, what was written in her note?"

"Something about failing Shiho, Akira, and us. She had little hope left to give to us before she offed herself."

"I see," Yusuke can only say as he gives Ryuji his meal.

As they look at the broken clock, the footsteps of the soldiers grew louder.

"Ready?" Ryuji prepares his shotgun, loaded with only ten rounds.

"For the Phantom Thieves." Yusuke declares as he readies his assault rifle with his last mag.

The soldiers arrive at the doorstep, and Ryuji and Yusuke begin their defense until their guns clicked and their bodies dropped.

Chapter Text

March 17, 20XX

Location: Tokyo, Japan - Earth XX

The sound of gunfire can be heard in the empty region of Yongen-Jaya. Futaba and Makoto enter the van first, hoping things would not be as worse as they thought. They are then greeted by an old dog wearing wings.

"Koromaru, you can stop now."

The girls then look at the driver of the van, who is somewhat as old as Makoto. Seated next to him is a short-haired police officer who is oddly wearing a green vest instead of the standard blue. And the one who will be seated next to them is a familiar face that only Futaba would recognize.

"PINK ARGUS!? ARE YOU FOR REAL?"

"Not so loud, Sakura.", Akechi scolds her as he scans the area if they got compromised.

Yukari Takeba, star of Futaba's favorite show, is indeed a Persona user. She also works as the Shadow Operative's marksman, having her signature bow and arrow with her. After hearing about the sudden attack, Yukari escaped death after her film crew were killed by an Abaddon spawn, which she was glad to kill it with her Persona Isis.

"Zip it, Defective Prince! You don't know how a true fan appreciates her favorite celebrity."

"Oh, tell me more. I am DYING to find out."

Kasumi and Labrys enter last as they monitor the area, making sure the soldiers only faced Ryuji and Yusuke. A sad expression falls on Kasumi, trying to pull herself together as she adds two more bodies into her thought. Labrys notices this and gestures Yukari to talk to her.

"Is everything alright? You look tense." the actress asked.

"Tense? Yukari-san, I don't think this is how a tensed look is.", the driver commented.

"Really, Ken-kun? How does a woman look like when she's tensed?"

The driver, identified as Ken Amada, pulls out his snarkiest comment. "If I told you now, I'll tell Junpei san as well. And Junpei-san wouldn't be your number one target for your annoyance and anger anymore.You wouldn't want that to happen now, would you?"

Yukari held off, knowing that out of all the people she throws jabs at Junpei doesn't have a clue on her mood. At least, she thought he doesn't. Shifting back to Kasumi,

"I know how you feel. Losing a lot of teammates is really a shitshow."

The gymnast remained quiet before she mumbled on her own. She must be that tense, everyone thought.

The police officer spoke up, "So you guys are the infamous Phantom Thieves? Kinda few from how I saw them. Plus, I should see a guy with suave hair in your team. He is your leader, right?"

Kasumi stayed quiet. Closing her eyes and citing a small prayer, she ignores the people inside the van.

"No point in talking to her, officer. She just felt trauma one after another in a matter of days." Akechi defended Kasumi's lack of response.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't know," the officer apologized, "but if you must know... We lost a lot of friends yesterday. And Mitsuru-san told us to find you guys before this went to hell. I get that you don't want to talk to us, and it's okay. I'm sure we-"

Before she could finish, Ken abruptly stops the van. Koromaru starts barking angrily, giving the group a chance to look at what's ahead. A group of Seth are charging at them as Ken backs up the van to a considerable distance. Kasumi then stands up and gets out of the van to clear the path.

"Let's go, Guinivere!"

She summons her Persona, who appears as a violet-skinned huntress with a bandoleer of throwing knives around her torso, black tights with chains wrapped around her legs, and medieval boots and greaves. She lets out a laugh that Akechi would love.

"HehehehahahahHAHAHAAHA! Show them the light!"

Guinivere unleashes a barrage of Shining Arrows, weakening the Seth group before Kasumi whips out her spear chain.

"You guys just drive. I know what I'm doing." she ordered the group. She then launches her spear to latch onto one of the wyverns and commands it to follow the van as it moves.

"Nice job, Angel! Smooth as always!" yelled Futaba as she pumps her fist in the air.

Angel. Her Phantom Thief name. She given the nickname by Akira after they started teaming up in Sae Niijima's Palace. Back then, Akira put himself on the line to save everyone. But have they done the same to him when he was the one who saw beyond Maruki's lies?

Kasumi can't help but feel a mix of emotions in her. She coughed out the chance to cry. Which alerted Futaba as the little gremlin then begins to annoy her.

"Aww, is our little Angel crying? It's been a while since I heard you cry over the nickname in itself."

Kasumi lets out a playful laugh as she rolls her puffy eyes. "Aw, shuttup! Only he has the right to tease me."

Back inside the van, Akechi just finished calling someone. "I just finished alerting Hasegawa-san of our current situation. He should rendezvous with us near the Kirijo Headquarters." He then turns his sights onto Labrys, who stares back at him.

"I heard there were two of you."

"The other one's dead. Her powers were the first to be absorbed." Labrys answered bluntly, but Akechi can tell that there is an underlying emotion in her statement. Dismissing the thought, he spots the headquarters and asks Ken.

"I believe that is the Kirijo Headquarters?"

"Yeah, it is."

"Seems a bit off, don't you think?"

"What do you mean?"

"The exterior of the place is supposed be blue, correct? Why is it black?"

"Are we seriously going to hear criticism about interior design from you?", Futaba interrupted the two to avoid further complications. The group gets startled when the Seth Kasumi rode on falls down to a ditch. Makoto was the first to see if the young gymnast is okay, but to her surprise she is now sitting on top of the van.

Kasumi catches her glare and asks, "What? Is it wrong that I feel bored from just riding that thing?"

"You nearly scared us! What would happen if something bad happened to you?" Makoto chided Kasumi like she was a toddler. Rather than argue, Kasumi returns inside the van and catches the attention of Akechi, who is suddenly blushing from something. Futaba, Labrys, and Yukari notice it as well but decide to not ask further.

"Alright, guys. Home sweet home," Ken gleefully proclaimed.

"Not exactly the word I'd use, considering your activities." Kasumi coldly stated.

"As expected, the Kirijo Headquarters took the mere disguise of a regular office building. But then again, it's obvious to be suspicious if the-" Akechi claimed before getting cut off by Futaba, who suddenly informs everyone of a problem.

"GUYS, WE GOT BOGEYS BEHIND US! TOO MANY OF THEM!"

Everyone takes a peek at the back and sees an entire military division catching up to them. Labrys tries to volunteer in distracting them, but before she could exit the van...

"What the - They got rocket launchers!?" Futaba panicked even more.

"They're hellbent on killing us. Not surprising from Shido anyway." Akechi calmly (and coldly) stated as he suddenly switches to his Phantom Thief outfit, consisting of a black bird helmet that resembles a crow, a dominantly blue jumpsuit with black stripes, a ragged caped, and a silver belt. "Let's kill them before they kill us."

Yukari protested to his idea, "No one is killing anyone in Kirijo grounds! We can make it without engaging in a fight."

Ken hears this and accelerates the van to reach the base, earning a scolding from the police next to him.

"Damnit, Ken! At least warn us next time!"

"You heard her, Chie-san. We have to hurry."

As the crew focus their eyes on both their destination and their pursuers, Kasumi can only sense something is wrong. She carefully observes the military tailing them, and notices that they are not making any effort in speeding up.

"Something's not right. We're speeding up, but they're not."

"It's a good thing they aren't speeding up. Bu-"

"You got to be kidding me!" Ken shouted as he spots a tank taking aim at them.

"Labrys, you know what to do."

"Aye, aye! Come, Ariadne!"

Before the tank launches its cannon, it is suddenly crushed by a Persona that appeared on top of it as it performed Beast Weaver. The group celebrates in victory, but is too late to recognize the SECOND tank that popped up.

"INCOMING!"

The tanks fires at them, and before Kasumi could summon Guinivere, she is knocked unconscious by the blast. Minutes later, she is being dragged off by Chie as Yukari and Akechi give them cover fire while the rest proceed inside the building. Regaining consciousness, she is greeted by Koromaru's licking on her face and the looks of people she didn't recognize. One of them was obvious Rise Kujikawa, but with her appearance she is nearly unrecognizable. Another face is a guy with spiky hair and headphones on his neck. He also has a cast on his right arm and sports a scar on his face. Next is a woman with turquoise hair tied to a braid who provides her a drink. Fourth is a man who wears a hat similar to Haru albeit without the feather. Surprisingly, he has the same revolvers as Makoto except they are dual-wielded and larger in size. Lastly, a tall man with an appearance that reminds her of Ryuji gave her a blanket (which is cute, if she might add) and glances between her and the main door.

"You sure they'll be alright?" Rise spoke up.

"They'll manage. If anything, that Akechi boy is literally the definition of berserk.", Labrys replied.

"And to think Akechi was as bad as Adachi.... He's worse than I thought," the man with the broken arm complained.

"It's okay. He may be a sociopath, but he means well. A little too well...." Makoto tried to reassure him.

"You know, the place isn't safe. If they reach the chamber, we are screwed before our plan can come to fruitition." the akimbo man warned.

"Hasegawa-san is right. We don't have much time left before Manahashi gets here.", the woman with turquoise hair spoke to encourage everyone to keep moving.

Analyzing the area, Futaba suddenly has an idea. "Hey, do you guys have a map of the entire place?"

"We do. Just a moment," the woman replied with a serious look as she approached the AI kiosk, "Fuuka Yamagishi. Operative 1-3-0-3."

The AI recognizes her voice key, and soonafter a holographic map is displayed for everyone to see. Futaba carefully studies the map before she draws to a conclusion.

"Alright, if I could get into the server room and hack multiple pathways to make sure everyone gets to your safe zone in one piece, we'd have no problem in completing this plan of yours."

"Should we tell them?" Chie looks at the group.

"We should. They've come this far, and even if I am disappointed that there are only a few Phantom Thieves you got-"

"Damnit, Yosuke! They lost most of their members already! Can you be sensitive for once?"

After getting elbowed in the ribs by Chie, the man named Yosuke apologized. "I-I'm sorry.... I didn't know..."

Kasumi sat up and patted his shoulder to reassure him, but her face says otherwise.

Futaba studied the map as Fuuka explains the plan. "Okay, so we know that Manahashi has the Sacrificial Lamb machines. With Souji dead and Aigis destroyed, the machine already did a reverse effect by opening the portal to the Shadow Universe. Thus the presence of unusual creatures..."

"But where does that lead us to?" Makoto inquired.

Rather than explain further, Fuuka allows the man with the hat to continue. "Hasegawa-san?"

"So we managed to find an old machine in the warehouse. We only learned just hours ago that it is a multi-dimensional transporter, so we decided to turn the tables on that bastard."

Kasumi then simplified it, "So basically, we just go to another dimension ahead before he does?"

"Precisely."

As Hasegawa confirmed Kasumi's deduction, Futaba turns to the group with a face that spells good news and bad news.

"Good news and bad news, guys. The good news is, my hacking skills are capable of giving you all 500% safety as soon as you arrive in the warehouse."

Yosuke whispers to Chie, "I am so glad she's on our team."

"But the bad news is...." Futaba pauses, gathering the right words to say without making everyone worry, ".... I have to stay behind. The moment I lock the doors, I can't access my way to the warehouse with an alternative route."

Makoto cursed under her breath while Kasumi looked at her with helpless eyes. "Is there no other way?"

"Sadly, no. I'm on my last health bar on this one. But then again, as if Sojiro were still here to lecture me about being reckless again..."

Silence filled the air again until the tall blonde man broke it.

"If we're gonna do this now, we better get to it. I'll remain with the gremlin to make sure all of you get through."

Makoto, knowing that she is at her wit's end, rejects his decision. "I'm sorry, but you won't be joining her at all in this."

"Ma-Makoto?"

"I'm going with you, Futaba. I'm not leaving you behind on this one."

"But that means you're leaving ME behind."

Makoto and Futaba turn to look at Kasumi, who couldn't hold back her tears anymore.

"You know how hard it is to be ACTUALLY alone already? I lost Sumire, Dad, Mom, Akira, Morgana-senpai, and everyone else! I can't.... I can't afford to lose you two as well...."

As the others hear her voice breaking, they look onto the two Phantom Thieves with concerned faces. But Makoto and Futaba showed their determination at them, knowing this will be the last time they will work together.

"Kanji, take her with you. We'll restock first on supplies before heading for the warehouse."

"You sure about that, Rise?"

"I'm certain. Zenkichi-san, Ken-kun... let's go."

And with that, everyone proceeds to their respective assignments. Meanwhile, outside the Kirijo HQ....

"SHIT! I'm running low on ammo!" Akechi growls as he reloads his Moebius.

"And I'm running low on energy! Can't you summon your Persona for once?!" Yukari complains as she begins to weaken.

"If I do, I won't be able to control it....."

"Just do it!"

Akechi gives her a glare before giving her a warning, "Don't say I warned ya. Now run!" Yukari complies and slowly makes her way to the entrance.

"Come...... LOKI!!!!!!"

A Persona with a matched stripe pattern to its master appears between him and the military. Some soldiers begin to show fear, while others directly push forward firing at Akechi.

"Call of CHAOS!"

In a snap, Loki begins brainwashing some soldiers into a psychotic rage as they begin to turn on each other one by one. However, a man in the distance shoots Akechi in the neck before he could use another spell. Choking on his blood, Akechi crawls towards his gun only for a foot to step on his hand.

"Already, my son? I leave you alone for a week and you betray me?"

"Damn you, Father! In fact.... ACH!"

Akechi chokes more as Masayoshi Shido steps on his neck. "You know, I gotta thank Maruki for his work. Giving me a reality where I rule does seem fitting for an emperor." the latter spoke.

"Should we order an airstrike on this building?"

The man behind him, Kenzo Manahashi, speaks up. Sporting a sickening green suit and tie, he grins at Akechi's dying body as he speaks once more. "It'd be a better idea for us since no one will then interfere with our business."

"Keep in line, Manahashi. Just because your proposal of obtaining the Sacrificial Lamb doesn't mean you have all authority for it." Shido growls at him as Akechi knew where this was going.

Elsewhere, Futaba and Makoto make it to the server room and begin reprogramming the security system. They receive a distress call from a radio, and Makoto picks it up to answer.

"Hello?"

"Niijima? Is that you?"

"Takeba-san? You sound hurt. Everything alright?"

"Akechi's down. Shido and his men are currently outside and on top of him."

Futaba shot Makoto a look that begs for a trap she can get a hold of.

"Are there any security measures we can try to trip off?"

"The main lobby itself. But I can't get it to activate since the lock is up."

'We're in the server room. We'll unlock the security measure there and you deal with what's going on."

BANG!

Yukari turns around to look at Akechi, who is now seen with a bullet to the head. Terrified of how ruthless the Conspiracy has gone, she immediately tells the pair.

"Akechi's dead. These guys are no joke at all...."

"Pink Argus, stay focused. You know that you have to face the danger head on!"

"Damnit, Sakura-chan, now is not the time!"

".... Sorry."

Upon knowing Akechi died, Makoto remembered something.

"Takeba-san, how far are you from Akechi-kun?"

"Not that far, but not near either. Why?"

"Akechi has a notebook regarding the Conspiracy's plans and stuff. Akira took notes before he died."

Yukari didn't need to be told twice as she knows where this is going.

"You want me to get it, don't you?"

"As soon as the security is unlocked."

"Hope this works," she muttered to herself as the soldiers make their way inside.

Futaba then sports her devilish grin as she reprograms the security in the main lobby. "In 3... 2... 1..."

With a push of a button, a couple of turret guns pop up and open fire at the soldiers in the lobby. While the chaos is happening, Yukari rushes to Akechi's corpse and retrieves the notebook only to be compromised by Manahashi. "We have a runner!" Without a second to spare, Yukari takes the shortcut and runs towards a glass tunnel that connects the main building to an annex.

"Takeba-san's really fast." Makoto spoke with an impressed smile.

"I wish I had more time to spend with her." Futaba remarked with a sad smile.

"How much longer do we have?"

"About five minutes, since the guns would overheat."

"Let's get to it then."

Meanwhile, in the warehouse, Kanji tries his best to cheer Kasumi up. Even with the assistance of Yosuke and Chie's (somewhat) playful banter, Kasumi remains down. Labrys then tries to hug her only to be pushed away. At this rate, even the veteran Persona users are having a difficult time keeping morale up.

"Damn. I didn't know she was this broken," Kanji quipped.

"Can't you two learn how to understand a girl's pain for once?" Chie retorted.

"It's okay, you guys. I'm sorry for being like this. This is just too hard to take in all at once...." Kasumi apologized as she avoided eye contact.

Labrys then tries to contact Makoto and Futaba for updates to avoid pissing Kasumi off with their insistence on cheering her up.

"Makoto, Futaba... how's it going there?"

"Not so good. I can't believe you Shadow Operatives have countermeasures for my hacking!"

"Futaba, are you certain you never hacked on their site before all of this?"

"No way! That'd be like spoiling myself with all the good crap they have."

Labrys can only laugh at their bickering but suddenly hears gunfire not too far from them. She exits the warehouse and finds Yukari dashing like there's no tomorrow.

"Yukari-san! Ariadne!"

Labrys uses her Persona to attack the soldiers while she rushes to Yukari. However as soon as they come in contact, Yukari gives her the notebook as she warns her to not open the door to anyone. She doesn't stop for a second and begins to lure the soldiers to another part of the headquarters.

"HEY, I'M RIGHT OVER HERE!"

Labrys, knowing how it will end, reluctantly returns to the warehouse and contacts the duo once more.

"Futaba-chan, the soldiers have breached the area. We need that lockdown fast!"

"Hang on! Gonna recalibrate the layout of the security pattern. It'll take thirty seconds!"

A third party in the voice of Rise Kujikawa would beg to differ. "Make it ten seconds! We got heat on our tails!"

"What's going on on your end, Rise?"

"Hasegawa-san is hurt, and I don't have enough power to let Kanzeon fire anymore."

"Futaba?"

"Gimme a sec, Makoto."

With enough time to spare, Rise, Zenkichi, and Ken managed to escape the soldiers. However, Zenkichi is badly wounded.

"Tis but a flesh wound...." he jokingly told them

"Can't you heal him, Rise-san?"

"I would if I could," Rise tells him as she slumps next to Zenkichi, "but I'm at my limit."

"Let's take it slowly then. The warehouse shouldn't be far."

In the server room, Makoto whips out her Peacemaker as she prepares for incoming intruders. "Futaba, you handle in the security system. I'll take out whoever is coming here." Futaba nods her head as she locks another entrance to the warehouse.

"One more entrance... I hope Risette gets past this one."

Manahashi makes his way to the server room along with seven heavily armed men. As he makes a turn, he narrowly avoids Makoto's shot and taunts her.

"You should have ran away when you had the chance."

"And let you win? Over my dead body."

"Ah, I knew a Niijima's soul will be as strong as a lion's. However, I did not expect you all to be as dumb as a turtle. Especially your sister, after I skinned her face alive for not giving you away."

Makoto can feel the rage in her boiling. This man murdered her sister and is still expecting her to surrender. She can imagine the pain Sae felt as she bled to death.

"YOU SON OF A BITCH!"

Giving her all in the last stand, Makoto engages herself in a deadly gunfight with Manahashi and his men. Elsewhere, Shido finds Yukari bleeding in an empty room and approaches her as he steps on her leg wound.

"Going somewhere?"

"You won't... make it out... alive...." Yukari slowly insulted him before receiving a kick to the face.

"Do you not know what happens when you cross with Masayoshi Shido!?" he angrily leers at Yukari and picks her up by the collar.

"Wouldn't care anyway." Yukari slyly responds as she lifts up a detonator, which primes the explosives of the room they are in. The lights suddenly turn on to reveal that the room is rigged with high explosives.

"You wouldn't dare!"

"I do. Futaba!"

Futaba herself had to detonate the room, knowing that Yukari had a dud detonator to scare Shido. She cries as she hears Yukari's radio going static, and looks back as Makoto continues her fight outside. It wouldn't take long until Makoto runs out of bullets as she is killed by Manahashi afterwards. Futaba, seeing that the recalibration is at 95%, tries to fight Manahashi herself but is overpowered and killed. Manahashi then notices the system and realizes that they walked right into a trap. He immediately rushes out of the building and orders an airstrike.

In the warehouse, Labrys desperately tries to contact Makoto and Futaba.

"Makoto-san! Futaba-san! Someone! ANYONE?"

The absence of a response only tells Kasumi one thing: they're gone. She stands up and finally speaks up to the others, "I guess I really am the last Phantom Thief. Of this Earth, at least."

Chie, confused by what she meant, asked for clarification. "What do you mean 'of this Earth'?"

"Akira's plan was to infiltrate the headquarters of the Conspiracy and destroy the machine. That was Plan A."

Ken,now intrigued by the notebook's contents, asks more. "What Plan B, C, and D?"

"Plan B is to go to another Earth and ask for their help. Plan C is to eliminate everyone by force, which for me is too grim to accept. Plan D...."

Her sudden pause puts everyone on the edge.

".... Suicide bombing."

Suddenly, the power goes out. And as it does, the teleporting device activates. Before they have the chance to express their awe, the building suddenly shakes.

"What the hell?! What's going on out there?" Kanji asked anxiously.

"Fuuka-san!"

Fuuka then begins to show signs of worry and fear as she warns everyone. "Looks like they are launching an airstrike. We don't have much time before the machine is destroyed by the debris. We have to send someone in!"

Zenkichi adds to the warning, "However, this will only accommodate one person only. It'd take 5 days for us to fix this junk if the debris will destroy it. Two weeks, if it is worse."

Kasumi, having nothing to lose now, volunteers without question. "I'll go."

"You sure about this, Yoshizawa-san? It may be a one-way trip, if things go wrong..." Rise speaks in a soft yet worrisome tone.

"I'm certain. I've lost everything, so allow me to prevent the next world from losing everything as well."

As she spoke, she switches back to her normal clothes.

"Why would you-" Yosuke wondered before getting cut off by Kasumi.

"it's best if I have a disguise. If the next world hasn't been exposed to the effects of the Sacrificial Lamb, then I can find a way to prevent this and fight back against Manahashi."

Another shake occurs, with the ceiling beginning to drop a few.

"Hurry! We don't have much time."

As Kasumi steps forward to the machine, she turns around to look at the remaining Persona users. Seeing their eyes filled with determination, fear, hope, and despair, Kasumi nods to all of them as she delivers a message to them.

"I know we are currently in a situation that may bring our extinction as Persona users. Without the guide of our leaders, we see ourselves as lost sheep looking for a home. But we cannot stay lost forever. We have to stay strong as we look further into ourselves and face the cruel reality that has been given to us. I know none of us have that leadership spirit, but I damn well know that we have that fighting spirit in us. So until I return.... give them hell."

And with a flash, she marches into the portal and disappears.

Chapter Text

March 17, 20XX

Location: Nayami National High School
Time: 1850 hours

 

"Look who's finally here!"

"Damnit, Daisuke! You're too loud!"

Amused by his friends' energy, Ren Amamiya exits the taxi as he approaches them. Sporting a devilish red coat with a gray suit underneath, red slacks, and black Victorian boots, he could say he almost looks like Arsene. (except for the wings, ofcourse.)

"Okay, I'm gonna have to agree with Daisuke here. Damn! You look good in red."

"Where'd that scolding go, Kana?"

Daisuke Matsunaga and Kana Sato have been Ren's childhood friends until his probation, and even though they have their pal back they still feel guilty for shunning him away during his stay in Tokyo.

He spoke to stop the banter, "Alright, you guys. We don't have time to waste."

"Is my only date to the prom about to ditch me outside?"

Daisuke, Kana, and Ren turn around to see a face Ren would recognize with awe.

"Holy moly, Suzui.... You-you look..."

"Astonishing." Ren finished Daisuke's sentence.

Blushing in reaction to Ren's comment, Shiho bashfully responds. "Thanks.... I-I hope you like me wearing this." She starts twirling around in her seafoam green dress with a silver star motif on the side and a slit that shows off her left leg. On her feet are white heels that leave an impression on its texture.

"Why not we have a photo together first? Pretty sure Ann would love to see us like this." Ready nonchalantly states while he pulls out his phone.

"Good idea. Though she'd get mad I'm having prom night with her man."

"What?" All three tried to make Shiho clarify herself, but she simply shakes her head.

"Alright, Ren. I thought you said you had no girl back in Tokyo," Kana begins to accuse him as he positions himself next to Shiho for the picture.

"Who said I didn't?" Ren shoots back with a smug grin on his face, one that Shiho has begun to get used to.

"Alright. Say cheese!"

The two former Shujin students flash smiles as the shutter goes off. However, before Shiho can move, Ren stops her from leaving. He then pulls out a bouquet of white roses.

"Sly dog!", Daisuke began to compliment him.

Shiho begins to lose her confidence, as she did NOT expect him to present her flowers. "I-I-I thought.... But y-you're..."

"Ann won't feel convinced if she saw you stealing me for one night without any signs," he teased furthermore, much to her embarassment.

"One more time?"

"One more time."

Shiho and Ren reposition themselves and flash smiles again as Kana takes their photo once more. Daisuke then suddenly starts complaining. "Man, how come Ren gets the ladies most of the time? First, Suzui," Shiho glares at him with a red face before he clarifies, "not that you two are really dating and all. But then there's this Ann chick you two keep talking about, and the mysterious girlfriend Ren has. Why can't I be a chick magnet for once?"

Shiho giggles as Ren begins to lecture him on how to get a girl on their way to the gymnasium, "First, you must have Knowledge at the level of Erudite. Then, you must possess the Angelic Kindness that can give you girls who can appreciate your heart. Then, it is on how Lionhearted you are in Courage to make sure they stay safe from all harm. Afterwards, having Transcendent Proficiency keeps you crafty so you can impress them with your skills. And finally, you must possess a Charm which spells Debonair all over."

"Uh......" Daisuke is at a lost for words due to Ren's pacing in the lecture.

Kana turns to Shiho and whispers, "I envy your date. He looks like he knows what he's doing."

Shiho regains her composure and curtly replies, "My, it must be natural for him."

The group arrives in the gymnasium, which is packed big time. Feeling the cool breeze of the air conditioner next to them, Kana freely declares, "Finally, some cold air in this place!"

"The gym has been cold most of the time, though." Shiho remarked.

"Yeah, Kana. See, the transfer student knows that the gym has been with cold air. You have been schooling here, and you never noticed it." Daisuke began to poke fun of her.

"Ren, they're bullying me!" she pouted at her friend as a last resort.

"Seriously, Kana. Better stop going to the beach if you want the cold air." Ren decided to play along.

"I have been betrayed...." Kana surrenders as they go to the food stand.

After hours of letting the MC speak and having intermission numbers to bore them to death, the group began to snore it off until ballroom dancing begins. As soon as the music begins playing, everyone puts themselves in place for the dance to begin.

"I hope your leg isn't bothering you as we dance, Shiho." Ren inquires her with a smile.

"Not at all. I bet you wanna dance without your glasses in the way," Shiho returned the snark.

"These glasses are fake."

"Huh?" Shiho is shocked to actually hear Ren confessing that his glasses are just an accessory.

"Sorry I forgot to tell you. It has grown on me, you know?" Ren apologizes to her as he tries to cover his shame.

"Hey, it's aright." Shiho reassures him before kissing his cheek. "Don't get the wrong idea, Amamiya. I know you have someone waiting for you back in Tokyo, so I have no right to let you enter the harem route."

"Why do you suddenly sound like Futaba?" He groaned at the sound of the term. She lets out a small laugh.

The dance continues on until a sudden elimination round was declared by the MC. Without a doubt, Shiho and Ren were the last to continue dancing as they win the sudden game. Before they could execute a graceful finale, Ren suddenly feels a sharp pain in his head. Shiho, noticing Ren before she stopped spinning, maintains her balance as she assists Ren. Daisuke and Kana follow suit.

"Ren-kun, what's wrong?"

"Bro, you okay?"

"Ren, say something?"

"Is there a first aid kit around here?"

The voices of the people around began to become inaudible until it rushed back to his ears. As he opens his eyes, they sport a bright yellow color that could only mean one thing. For him, at least.

"Re-Ren? Your eyes...." Shiho slowly pulls out her mirror the show Ren his reflection.

"Ren, you look like you've seen shit." Daisuke adds up as he pointed out his facial expression.

"Hey, you're sweating a bucket load." Kana points out his rapid sweating.

Before he could respond, Ren's Third Eye suddenly functions and notices a Shadow charging upward to Shiho's location. Without warning, he tackles her out of the way.

"LOOK OUT!"

As the crowd reacted at his action, they reacted more to what came out of the gymnasium's floor. A Moloch appears out of nowhere as it begins its rampage in the gym. Not soon after, a group of Decarabia spawn in the hallways followed by groups of Onmoraki, Black Ooze, and two Raja Naga shadows. As everyone fled the area, Ren and his friends remain cornered by the Shadows.

"HOLY SHIT! WHAT IS THAT THING?" Daisuke shouts as he backs away from the Raja Naga.

"Ren! What are we gonna do?" Kana starts panicking at the sight of the Black Ooze.

"This has to be a dream.... this has to!" Shiho hides behind the trio as the Onmoraki approach her.

Before he could respond, a voice begins to call him in his head.

"So we meet again this time, Trickster! For you have not sought trouble as trouble sought you! Let us use this opportunity to reawaken once more to the rebellious soul that resides within you."

"Yeah," Ren blunlty answers as he eyes the Moloch. "Let's do this."

Daisuke catches this and looks at him with a puzzled face.

"I AM THOU, THOU ART I! Thou hast reawakened to a sleeping power that awaits your rage! For thou hast faced the trials and defied thy treacherous fate, let us unleash once more the power for the sake of thine justice!"

A domino mask appears on Ren's face, which catches attention of the three people behind him.

"A mask?" Shiho wonders.

Ren immediately pulls his mask, and remembers that he will be undergoing the same level of pain he felt when he first awakened his Persona. He begins to scream in pain as the mask rips off his face, blood dripping from the spot.

"WHAT THE F-" Kana shouts in terror.

Ren suddenly laughs like a maniac as he finds himself engulfed in blue flames. His red coat is replaced by a long black coat with a three-parted tail, his red slacks have been replaced with black ones instead, and he feels the crimson gloves form in his hand.

A figure behind him appears, displaying a figure with a red suit and gray legs that are near-metallic. On his back are dragon wings colored yellow and black, and on his head shows a red gangster hat.

"Let's go, Raoul!"

The figure laughs as it uses a spell that placed its enemies to sleep. Although it was their perfect chance to run, Ren had other plans.

"Does anyone know how to activate the sprinkler system manually?"

No response.

"Guys?"

Still no response. Ren then turns around and sees his friends having faces of shock and awe. Slapping his face, Ren forgot that he isn't with the Phantom Thieves. "Oh, shit...."

"YOU'RE A FREAKING PHANTOM THIEF!? AWESOME!" Daisuke yells joyfully as he is not only meeting a Phantom Thief, but also being friends with one the whole time.

"Were you hiding this from us the whole time?" Kana accused him, this time with a tone of curiosity.

"So you're the ones who did everything back in Tokyo. Even after I-"

Shiho is cut off when one of the Raja Naga woke up, prompting Ren to improvise.

"Raoul! Eigaon!"

The figure unleashes a heavy curse spell that staggered the beast, which recovers quickly and attacks with a Maziodyne. Ren commands Raoul to defend the three with his wings and starts commanding them as Raoul deals with the awakened Shadow.

"Daisuke, I need you to head for the Chemistry Lab and find some kerosene. Afterwards, you rendezvous with Kana and create molotovs in the cafeteria. You'll be attracting the little shitbirds, since they're weak to Fire. Shiho, you're on Decarabia duty. Those pipsqueaks are not as tough as they look. Hit their eyes and they'll drop like flies. Then rush outta here to activate the sprinkler system."

Shiho questions the idea, especially Ren's role. "What about you? Those things will come after me as soon as I leave the gymnasium."

Showing off his signature grin, "I'll handle them with ease. IT'S SHOWTIME!"

The group then splits up as Ren commands Raoul to attack the sleeping Shadows with a Megido spell to wake them up. Daisuke and Kana rush together as they throw stuff on the Onmoraki group while Shiho uses a volleyball to catch the Decarabia's attention. Ren remains facing the two Raja Naga and Moloch Shadows.

In the second floor of the school, Daisuke and Kana rush to the Chemistry Lab with the Onmoraki in pursuit.

"Crap, it's like that nightmare of mine where I was chased by roasted chicken!" Daisuke quoted as he frantically looks for the kerosene in the chemical cabinets.

"As much as I want to laugh at that, I can't seem to." Kana fearfully admits as she watches their exit point.

Daisuke ducks down and opens a cabinet with the kerosene inside it. "YES!" As he grabs it and closes the cabinet, he is greeted by the demon in front of him. His scream of terror caught Kana's attention as she rushes to save her friend and kicks the chicken demon away.

"Where the hell did they pop up!?" Kana panicks even more. They then hear noise from the vents, and without looking at where they're going they bump into Shiho.

"Watch where you're going!"

"Not an option!"

Shiho picks up the duo and sprints with them as the Shadows chase them down. Finding the cafeteria, Shiho then formulates an idea which Ren would be very much impressed.

"I have an idea, and this may end up with us expelled."

"I am already not liking that idea!" Kana retorted.

"Whatever! Just say it!" Daisuke scolds Kana as he pressures Shiho to tell her plan.

"We're gonna lure all of them here in the cafeteria and cause a fire. Then we'll let the smoke detector catch wind of the smoke, so that the sprinklers will go off."

"What? You didn't find the source of that sprinkler system?"

"I panicked, okay?! Giant, one-eyed stars chasing me puts my anxiety to an all-time high!"

"What about making the molotovs?"

"We don't have time!"

The trio enter the cafeteria and spread the kerosene to a few places. The Onmoraki and Decarabia arrive, and while the demons hunt the three civilians down, the latter group sneaks their way out as they turn on the stoves in the kitchen. The moment they reach the door, Daisuke slips and alerts the monsters.

"RUN!"

Shiho lights up the kerosene trail as it leads back to the kitchen, resulting in an explosion that triggered the sprinklers. Catching their breath, the trio are relieved to be alive. Meanwhile, back in the gymnasium....

"Crap! These things are tougher than we thought, Raoul." Ren stated as he lifts himself up.

"It appears that these foul creatures have gained more resiliency since we last encountered them back when I was known as Arsene."

"Where are the waterworks?" Ren grimaced as he prepares his dagger at the large enemies. Just as he was about to lunge towards them, the sprinklers have been activated right on cue. Ren then asks Raoul if he can summon other Personas.

"You would not be called the Trickster if you do not possess such power now, wouldn't you?"

Ren smiles and calls him back to summon another Persona. "THOR!"

The Norse God of Thunder appears in front of the enemies and unleashes Wild Thunder on them. Paralyzing every foe, Ren begins to make a run for the door when the Black Ooze spawn on his feet. He cursed as Shiho, Daisuke, and Kana return to the place.

"REN!" all three called in unison. But just like Ren, they get caught by the Black Ooze.

"The hell is this black shit?" Shiho can't hold in her thoughts and curses at the sight of the Shadow holding them down.

"Hang on!" Ren attempts to call out another Persona but is greeted with more Black Ooze around him, preventing the chance of having a clean shot at saving the three. As all four of them struggle against the formation of the ooze, the huge demons recover from their paralysis and charge onto the Persona user.

Kana notices a shadow on the beam of the gym and catches everyone's attention. "Hey guys! Look up there!"

"ELLA!"

A Persona in a wedding dress spawns over the Shadows, and with just one spell from her owner annihilates the Black Ooze. "Makougaon!"

The Raja Nagas and Moloch are hit with the spell as well as the figure jumps down from the beam while firing a lever-action rifle with one hand.

"Damn, she's cool! Is she a Phantom Thief too?" Daisuke calls out Ren, who only responds with a grin as he reunites with the mystery person.

"Great to see you again, dear." He flirts at her.

"Never thought it would be like this, Senpai." She responds without hesitation.

"How can we help?" Shiho inquires the both of them as she glances at them and the behemoths in front of them.

"We got this, Suzui-senpai! Get out while you still can!"

Shiho notices her formality and her address to her name. She will be asking those two later.

"No way! After everything that has happened, we aren't leaving!" Kana objects the other Persona user's command.

"Senpai?"

"It's okay. They are helping us, anyway."

The three civilians stare at the powerful duo as if they feel an aura in them. Shiho then spots an opening near the stage and rushes to it. Daisuke and Kana follow her as one of the Snake demons begin to go after them.

"I'll take the bull, you take the snake."

"Got it. Raoul!"

"Let's dance, Ella!"

The two unleash their personas and attack their assigned enemies without holding back. As for the third behemoth, it began to corner Ren's friends.

"This was a stupid idea, Suzui!"

"No shit. We can't get out."

"Yes, we can!" Shiho proudly declares as she puts the air conditioner at full power, causing the Snake Demon to shiver. Shiho uses the opportunity to jump OVER its thick serpentine body and use the spotlight to electrocute it.

"Heads up, you two!" She warns them before removing the plug and dropping it onto the puddle below the demon as it falls down defeated and frozen.

"Guess you can say we shocked it out cold." Daisuke punned terribly as he receives two punches in the ribs by the girls.

Meanwhile, the Moloch falls defeat while the Raja Naga is determined to defeat them as it blocks their attacks.

"We're not gonna make it drop. Every time I take it out, it just grows stronger." Ren growled.

"Then I have an idea," the other user looks up to the beam she just came from. "Ready?"

Figuring out her idea, Ren smirks as he whips out his grappling hook. "Of course, my dear Sumire."

"That's Violet to you, mister."

Ren then catches Sumire as she jumps and clings onto him in mid-air. Pulling out his Desert Eagle, he unloads the entire clip and tosses Sumire in the air.

"All yours!"

Sumire then begins to draw her ribbon out and wrap it around the Shadow as she imagines it as a dance with her deceased sister before landing in Ren's arms.

"That was wondeful, Senpai!" was all she can say as the ribbon kills the Shadow behind them. Taking advantage of the position, he leans forward to kiss her lips as she starts blushing rapidly.

"Se-Se-Senpai! Come on! No flirting on the j-job!" Sumire begins to feel flushed out of embarassment. Ren can't help but hug her.

"I missed you."

"I missed you as well."

"Uh, Ren?"

The two lovers are interrupted by Shiho, whose dress in now covered in ooze, kerosene, and dirt. She smirks at the two lovers as she continues, "I didn't know that you were dating the gymnast honor student of Shujin."

"Eh? Gymnast honor student?" Daisuke finds himself dumbfounded before Kana spoke up.

"So this is the mystery girlfriend, eh?"

"Wait a second.... Are you Kasumi Yoshizawa?"

Stunned by his question, Sumire responds calmly and respectfully. "Oh, I'm not my sister. I'm the younger twin, Sumire. I take up her appearance to honor her after she died."

Not entirely true at first, darling. Ren just stares at his group before hearing a voice echo in the hallways.

"Joker! Joker! Damnit, where are you?! There you are!"

"HOLY SHIT! ANOTHER MONSTER THING!"

"Morgana-senpai! I miss you so much!"

"Eh? Sumire? What are y- Geff off uf mfeff!"

"Uh, Morgana? Ren, is this your cat?!"

Ren just continues to stare at them as Morgana his being hugged to death by Sumire. Shiho takes the silence as a yes and looks at Morgana even further.

"Wait," Kana starts connecting the dots, "your cat is a Phantom Thief. Your girlfriend is a Phantom Thief. What's next? That Ann girl you and Shiho talk about is a Phantom Thief?"

Morgana mistakens Kana's comment about Ann as an insult. "How dare you insult my Lady Ann! I should have you know that I have enough skills to make you feel the pain!"

"If you're Ren's cat, then you better remember how many times I had to yank your tail everytime you take my tuna!"

Morgana begins to hesitate in his comeback, "I-I was hungry, you know! And if I didn't snatch it away from you, you would have been sick all day!"

"That's a lame excuse for a cat."

"Call me cat one more time, you hu-"

"Guys," Ren interrupts them, "we need to get out of here first. Police are going to arrive and inspect this place."

"Suzui, tell your friends to get out of here first. I gotta talk with Joker and Violet here."

No one budged a muscle, since they can't take Morgana seriously.

"What? Is it because I'm a cat? Is it because I look like a discount mascot? What is it?"

"..... Did anyone else see you on your way here?"

Morgana then remembered getting kicked out by Ren's parents after he suddenly transformed to his Metaverse form. Then he also remembered the students running away from him as he strolled his way to the school. "Oh crap."

"Morgana-senpai!"

"I didn't know I was gonna be that noticable!"

"And you were the one who said Phantom Thieves travel in the shadows. I'm disappointed in you, kitty." Sumire begins to play dramatic at Morgana's mistake.

Shiho then turns to Daisuke and Kana, "You two better make a valid excuse to the cops. If they ask about a giant-headed cat roaming around the street, tell them you saw no such thing and that the other students must have been traumatized and began hallucinating."

"You know trauma and hallucinations don't go simultaneously," Kana starts spitting facts before Shiho angrily instructs them again.

"No monster cats. No Phantom Thieves. Just civilians playing heroes. Capische!?"

"Yes, ma'am!" the two responded with chills on their spines as they leave the stadium.

"Suzui, you need to leave as well." Morgana encouraged her to go, but she insisted on staying.

"You won't make me leave that easily, Mona." She stood her ground, smirking as she focuses her eyes on Ren.

"Did she know about us already, Joker-senpai?" Sumire asks Ren in a low voice.

"It's okay. We can trust her." Ren responds with a whisper.

"Alright, Ren... or should I say Joker... let's have a talk." Shiho then demands an explanation. 

Chapter Text

March 17, 20XX

 

Location: Chinmoku Park, en route to Amamiya residence
Time: 2130 hours

 

"Start talking."

Shiho's persistence in finally uncovering the Phantom Thieves matches that of Makoto's in her pre-Phantom Thief days. However, Ren still owes her an explanation, considering that Shiho IS the catalyst in the Phantom Thieves' debut in Tokyo years ago. Next to him is Sumire, who holds his arm tightly as she fears that Shiho may be going rough. And next to their interrogator are Daisuke and Kana, who is locking her glare at Morgana. The cat sits a few meters away from Ren and Sumire, thinking he would ruin their mood if a third wheel is with them.

"Well?" Shiho impatiently demanded as she tries to avoid scaring Sumire.

"Okay," Ren began, "you now know that the three of us are Phantom Thieves. And you know now how we operate in situations like earlier."

Morgana then turns to him and speaks in defeat, "If only I was there, I would have managed to at least help you out. But what am I supposed to do? I'm just a cat."

"Suddenly, you claim you're a cat when the scenario doesn't demand it." Kana teased Morgana before the latter lets out a large hiss.

"Anyway, you were saying?"

"We began after your..." Ren paused mid-way as he knows the next word would give Shiho bad memories. Shiho, however, gave him a nod to continue. "... incident back in Shujin. As soon as we knew what Kamoshida did, we had to stop him immediately. After him, we went on to do what is right: bringing justice to the world full of injustice, no matter the risk and no matter the cost."

Shiho then notices Sumire's downcast expression as Ren explained.

"Sumire, right? Is something wrong?"

Sumire hears Shiho call her attention and fixes herself before answering her. "Actually, what Senpai said isn't just for show. The Phantom Thieves nearly died thrice in a span of 18 months. As a de facto member, I knew something would go wrong after that casino. But I was weak that time, and last summer's incident just had to be when I was in Malaysia." She sighs after this, but Shiho begins to softly speak to her.

"Hey, it's not easy being a hero. There will always be risks, and I'm pretty sure that's what Ren did when he was trying to give us the easy tasks while he gave himself to the big guns. Regardless, we all have to show our courage and charge at life head on."

Sumire chuckles at Shiho's words. "Did my boyfriend teach you how to be an inspirational speaker?"

"I think it's more on the lines of Debonair and Angelic social skills."

Ren can't help but smile as Shiho managed to cheer Sumire up and relieve her of her worries. Meanwhile, Morgana taps his shoulder as they come close to his home. Before they could step foot of the house...

"Shit, we're still in our Metaverse attire. How are we going to explain to my parents about this?"

"I don't know. I probably might get kicked out again by your parents."

Shiho senses a figure behind them and pulls Joker's gun off his coat. Trying to act intimidating for the figure to come out, she begins her warning.

"I-I know you're out there, you creepy stalker. Just c-come out of your hiding spot before I-I-"

An icy tone stops Shiho in mid-speech as he reveals himself. "You'll what? You do know that you are not capable of combat since you clearly have three strong imbeciles behind you."

Ren, Sumire, and Morgana immediately identify the figure, and their reactions are nothing but shock as he steps into the light.

"Akechi..."

"Oh, my God! You're alive, Akechi-san!"

"Impossible. How did you cheat death twice?"

Daisuke and Kana notice their reactions and follow suit, only in different expressions.

"OH MY GOSH! THE DETECTIVE PRINCE AKECHI IS WITH US! AND IN THE FLESH!" Kana couldn't hold her excitement while Daisuke said otherwise.

"Come on, Ren! Even this bastard knows you? Just how famous did you get, man?"

Akechi just laughed at his comment and answered for Ren. "I bet you're willing to make your own criminal record so people can be your friend. Go ahead... be my guest."

Ren confiscates his gun from Shiho and starts interrogating him. "What are you doing here? How did you survive? I thought Maruki told us you were only a figment of the false reality he created."

"Even after all of this, you still fell for his tricks. Looks like the Trickster has been tricked." Akechi insults him as lets out a genuine smile. He turns to Sumire and compliments her, "Yoshizawa, it's been a while. You've quite grown since we last met. You're looking a little mature compared to last time."

Unsure how to respond, Sumire lets out a blank reply. "Thanks, I guess. Same goes for you, I think."

Suddenly, a door opens behind them. From the look of everyone's faces, it isn't going to end well. In front of them is a middle-aged man with short, wavy hair wearing a clean polo shirt and khaki pants, and behind him is a woman approaching her middle age as she sports long, wavy hair with her left eye nearly covered and wears a yellow blouse with blue denim jeans.

"Kids? What are you doing out here?" the man asked as he looked at Ren, "Son? I don't remember you wearing that black coat. Or having a red-haired date at all."

Sumire intensely blushes and lets go of Ren as she starts apologizing to the man. "ImsorrysirIdidntknowyouweregonnabemadatyoursonforruininghis-"

The man can't catch up and tells her to speak slowly. Sumire blushes further as now all eyes are on her, and speaks slowly at the expense of stuttering out of embarassment.

"I'm s-sorry, Sir! I didn't k-know you were gonna be-"

Cutting her off, the man looks at her closely before letting out a haughty tone. "I don't believe it. Am I looking at Sumire Yoshizawa? Honey, that gymnast champion is with our son! And in matching outfits with our son as well!"

"DAD! Knock it off already!" Ren now begins to blush as the man, now identified as his father, gave a comment that Ren wished he never heard. Shiho, Akechi, and Morgana snickered behind their backs before Daisuke spoke.

"I'm sorry, Amamiya-san! We just need to borrow the living room for something we need to discuss."

"Are you referring to the incident earlier or this?" Mr. Amamiya's expression drastically changed as he then pulls out a gun from his bag. Although Ren and Morgana can dismiss it as an airsoft toy, the markings on the gun said otherwise, earning them winces.

"A model gun based off the Heckler and Koch USP45 with a red barrel. Rightfully owned by Ren Amamiya..."

Sumire and Shiho look at Ren as they prepare themselves for a scolding.

".... callsign Joker. Mind explaining to me, son?"

Morgana decides to step in to save Ren's dignity from being tampered by his family. Ren gives him a look of approval before his dad saw.

"Forgive us, Ren's dad," Morgana started as the man steps backward. "but what your son is really doing is saving the world. He owned that gun to defend himself from those who are hellbent on killing him."

Silence covered the group as the howls of the wind are the only source of noise. Sumire speaks up next instead, only for her to regret the words she will say.

"What are you talking about, cat?"

"What Morgana-senpai means is that your son is the leader of the Phantom Thieves and we just prevent a Shadow attack from causing mayhem here in this town."

Ren and Akechi both facepalmed at how direct she spoke to Ren's father. "Perfect." both groaned in unison. They did not expect the response, however.

"Should've known. I wanted to believe it wasn't true, but I guess it is. Come on in, including the weird cat monster."

"I explained it in simpler terms!" Morgana argued at Sumire, who looked at him sternly and replied, "You know that Amamiya-san is a straight-to-the-point person."

"How would you know that?"

As they enter the house, his mother greets them all with a concerned face. Tuning in to the news, they see a reporter giving a live news report outside the school where police begin to examine the downed Shadows. Sumire leans forward to Ren and whispers to him, "I'm so sorry, Ren-senpai. I think your parents are mad at us." Ren can only nod as his mother began to lecture them.

"You made us worry, you all! Those monster things (Shadows, hon.) attacked your school, then you try to play hero with your friends and Detective Akechi just to-" she stops after seeing Akechi, immediately changing the topic.

"A-Akechi? But the news reported you dead two years ago!"

Akechi gave her a soft smile as he drinks a glass of water, "Masayoshi Shido knew I was investigating him, so I faked my death to avoid getting killed by him or any of his men."

I call bullshit on your claims, Goro. Ren thought in his mind as he reminded himself of what transpired in the interrogation room and in the engine room in Niijima's Palace and Shido's Palace, respectively. Sumire gives Akechi a glare, making him choke on his drink before giving Ren's mother the signal to get back on track.

"Do you not know how dangerous it is to fight those things?! Or even be in the middle of it at all?!"

"Hon, why not we let them explain? They are the Phantom Thieves, after all. Including the cat, since I now remember seeing you before."

Ren, Morgana, and Sumire winced once more. Ren then defended himself and his team.

"Mom, Dad.... I get it, You lost me once back when I shipped out to Tokyo, and you don't want to lose me again. But why have the sudden urge to become concerned of me?"

His mother did not take this lightly as his tone was more of aggressive than defensive. His father waved his hand at her to avoid making any form of argument.

"Back when I had my probation, all you did was send my stuff to Sojiro and never called me to see how I'm doing or how I'm feeling. And that goes for the both of you as well!" Ren began to heat up as he pulls his friends into the argument. "And what I learned in Tokyo is that there are those who see beneath the surface, even if it is in a hot surface. I learned who my true friends are, who stuck with me to the end, and who I'm willing to let my life go on the line. I'm not gonna stand by and watch as evil takes its place in the world. If I can't stop it like how I stopped Shido, who will?"

His mother's expression changed from mad to sad, and his father then responds to his defense. "I get it. We're terrible parents. We neglected you to avoid our dignity into the town's rumor mill. You think we asked for this? And then all this Phantom Thief nonsense... you being their leader, your cat suddenly talking, being friends with a dead man.... I don't know if you're making the right call in handling yourself."

"YOU'RE WRONG!", Sumire shot up as she starts to be defensive as well, "What your son did to all of us.... to all of Japan... he did it for the greater good. If it weren't for him, this cat wouldn't be his best friend! If it weren't for him, Akechi-san would have died! If it weren't for him, Suzui-senpai's justice would never have been seen into the light! If it weren't for him...." She began to lose her breath while trying to defend her boyfriend.

"Calm down, young lady," Ren's mother then politely requested.

"If it weren't for him, I would have mourned my sister further and ended my life. Your son is the reason I continue to live... and that's what I love about him." Sumire then gets flustered and hides behind Ren.

His father stood up and turned to his wife. "Ayumi? If I can have a word in private?"

Ren's parents then proceed to their bedroom for a round of arguing. And while they argue, the Thieves and their civilian cohorts begin to plan things out.

"Okay, so what your parents are trying to say is that things are gonna be hard if you engage in this alone. But then again, I do have faith in your skills, Joker." Morgana did his best to translate the argument while keeping his spirits up.

Kana began to ask in regards to the Thieves. "Why do you call him Joker? And why is your girlfriend called Violet? And you being Mona?"

"It's our codenames we use to avoid being detected by the enemy." Akechi supplies the answer to her question. "Like what Amamiya's parents said, it's uncertain if you're making the right call at this point."

Ren suddenly feels betrayed by Akechi's thought. "What are you implying, Crow?"

"Crow?"

"What I'm implying is you cannot lead these mortals into a battle against Metaverse demons. With your team disbanded, you can only have me, the cat, and your girlfriend as your only team left."

Shiho protests Akechi's suggestion without warning. "Hey, you can't let us out of this mess! We got involved too, so we aren't backing out."

Akechi stares her down and begins elaborating the reason why she and the others can't help. "Let me tell you this, Suzui. Fighting these things take a lot of energy, and losing a lot of energy means you'll be dead weight and ready to be grounded to death by those things. Sure, the guns and melee weapons can be effective; but if you're not careful, you will not live to see the light of day."

Ren and Sumire begrudgingly nod at Akechi's argument, claiming that what he said is true. "He's right. If you guys die, then I can't bring you back to life with our powers. We have a hard time in defending each other mission after mission, so defending you guys is gonna be a challenge for us. Understood?"

Shiho frowns and looks at her feet in defeat. "I understand."

"Morgana, what's our plan?"

"First, we find out where the Shadows came from. They managed to enter your school, but my senses speak for themselves. Your town has an aura of Shadow activity since earlier, so having me in the team is purely essential."

Akechi groaned at Morgana's pride while Sumire laughed. "Oh, Morgana-senpai... Never change."

"Afterwards, we can infiltrate the source of that aura and take it out like it's another day for us..."

Sumire looks at Shiho, who looks dejected as Kana and Daisuke try to cheer her up. From the looks of it, it seemed that Shiho wanted to join them regardless of her mortality.

"Ren?"

"Hmm?"

"Can we talk in private?"

Without questioning why, Ren follows Sumire outside to the porch. She then does breathing exercises in order to convince Ren to let Shiho join.

"Why not we let Suzui-senpai join? She knows about us more than the rest does."

"We can't bring her. She might end up hurt or worse, and the last thing Ann needs is her best friend murdered by a Shadow."

"I know that. But what if she really wants to help us? I mean, look at her."

Ren looks back inside, beyond the bickering of Akechi and Morgana. Shiho's expression is that of an abandoned puppy, and Ren is now put in a dilemma in regards of her membership as Sumire presses more.

"She may not be a Persona user like us, but she can do other stuff like being our medic or backup member or even be our item handler. Anyone is a helping hand for us, at this point. Think about it."

She retreats back inside to talk to Shiho after kissing his cheek, hoping Ren would be convinced. Meanwhile, he summons Raoul and consults him about it.

"Raoul, what do you think? Is it a good idea to bring Shiho around?"

"Although the risk of her demise is likely, it surely does not spell defeat for all of us. For all we know, she may have a potential in awakening a Persona of her own."

"Last I checked, Igor was the one selecting the Persona users. Not us."

"Oh, Trickster. It is not entirely in his hands. Have you forgotten about your friends' awakenings? They were all born from their acceptance and rejections of their own shadows and the desire that hold them in. It doesn't matter where or how the awakenings occur, but it is on how and why they happen."

Raoul disappears as Ren's parents call him back in.

"Ayumi?"

"Hiro?"

"Kids, we've argued about your stance in doing this Phantom Thief business. And it made us reflect on what happens in the future. Yes, we are very protective of our children to ensure a good future. But sometimes it's the children themselves who have their decisions to do in materializing that future." Hiro turns to Sumire, "Young lady, you defended our son like he was the last person on Earth you would protect at all costs. And although your current appearance is not good for a first impression for us, your spirit is what matters."

Daisuke ruins the moment as he opened his mouth, "What does that mean?"

Ayumi continues the talk, deliberately ignoring Daisuke's question. "Ren, sweetheart, I know you want to do the right thing not just for yourself but for everyone else. I can approve that behavior in you, but you must know when to retreat from an unstoppable encounter."

"As if Sojiro never told me...." Ren mumbled under his breath.

"As for you, cat...." Ayumi looked at Morgana cautiously, "Though we took you in for a sweet animal, your appearance now appears menacing. But based on your interaction and mannerisms, it seems like you have no ill intentions. So I apologize for kicking you out to the curb hard earlier this evening."

"No need to tell me twice."

Hiro looks at Akechi, the only Thief not in his attire. "And Akechi-san, we entrust your excellent skills as a detective to protect our son in your investigation about this Shadow phenomenon."

"Trust me, he does more than protecting my ass."

"Ren, we're serious!" His parents yelled at him for trying to joke about Akechi's actions.

"Do not worry, Mr. and Mrs. Amamiya," Akechi bowed, "if he does begin to show signs of fear, I can happily change his underwear."

"Screw you, Akechi."

"Call me shameless if you will, Ren."

After resting up a few more minutes, Daisuke then stands up and walks to the door. "Sorry, y'all. But Imma have to go home."

Hiro began to greet him farewell as he cleared the table. "Stay safe, Daisuke."

Daisuke then waved farewell to everyone and still wonders about what transpired tonight.

"Uh, Dad. What did you mean about Sumire's appearance being 'not good for a first impression'?"

Hiro is caught off-guard by his son's defensive question, knowing he might have triggered something again. "Uh, what I meant was that it's rare for a redhead around this town. I might have mistaken her for one of the girls that hog on Ren in school if she weren't your girlfriend."

Sumire forces a grin as she turns to Ren with a glare. "Is that so? Suzui-senpai?"

"Not telling. Ren?"

"That's a lie! Dad, you need to give better explanations or compliments than that." Ren exclaimed as the heat in his cheeks began to show.

"Why is he your dad again?" Shiho is suddenly amused.

"Him and his lack of tact and humor is what attracted my mother."

"We heard that!"

Sumire can't help but laugh at Ren's brutal comment, and Shiho laughs after. They then overhear his parents commenting about Morgana and Sumire.

"To think he was crazy about talking to his cat.... Looks like he wasn't crazy after all."

"At least we spared ourselves therapy cash."

"But what about the girl? I could have sworn I've heard her before."

"Uh, Sumire Yoshizawa. Gymnast champion. Does it ring a bell to you?"

Akechi stops their eavesdropping and bluntly informs them of something. "We may need to start tomorrow. Considering what happened, your school is probably gonna be closed down until further notice."

Shiho sighed. "So much for our graduation."

Ren reassures her as he lets Sumire lay on his shoulder, "Don't worry about it, Shiho. We'll have our chance in no time."

"Back to the matter at hand, it seems we have reached an agreement?"

Everyone nodded, and after this Kana stands up for her turn to go home.

"I'll make sure that blabbermouth does not yell about you being a Phantom Thief, Ren." She says with a smile.

"Thieve's honor?"

Kana gives him a thumbs up before waving to Akechi and exiting the house. All that's left is Morgana, Akechi, Shiho, and Sumire.

"Suzui, aren't you gonna go? Your parents will be worried." Morgana said with kind concern.

"Yeah, I guess." Shiho slowly stood up before speaking in a low voice. "This is the best and worst day of my life."

Ren noticed her expression and consoles her as he lets the sleeping beauty next to him lay down on the couch. "Hey, if it makes you feel better... we'll have you on the team."

Morgana and Akechi catch his words, with the latter disappointed with him. "I thought we already established this, Amamiya. We CANNOT bring mortals with us."

Ren spoke the words that only Morgana can be convinced with. "Well, she wants to assist us and learn more on how we handle our missions. For all we know, she might have a Persona to call her own."

Shiho blushes as he gives her his trademark smile while Morgana switches his expression from worried to understanding.

"Considering that Yusuke had awakened his power after seeing his passion, Makoto finding justice, Futaba accepting the truth, Haru realizing her beliefs, and Sumire accepting herself...... maybe Suzui might be a good candidate."

Akechi opens his mouth to argue, but closes it back. There is no more time for arguments in his schedule, so might as well leave Shiho Suzui in the hands of Ren Amamiya or Sumire Yoshizawa to deal with.

Shiho bows respectfully before hugging Ren. "Thank you for reconsidering. I promise I won't let you all down."

"EHEM."

The two turn to Sumire, who woke up to the sight of her boyfriend hugging another girl. The two broke off the hug, showing signs of shame.

"Sorry, Yoshizawa-chan. I was just thanking him for letting me in the team."

Ren looks at Sumire as he informs Shiho, "You should thank Sumire more. She convinced me to let you in."

Shiho approaches Sumire and hugs her tight. "Thank you, Sumire-chan."

Sumire returns with a smile as she hugs back.

"No worries, Suzui-senpai."

"Call me Shiho."

Akechi approaches the door and gestures Shiho to leave. "I'll accompany her to her home in the meantime. I'll provide the explanation her parents would like to hear."

Ren nods before he looks at his parents in the kitchen. "Yeah. Maybe I have to discuss our plan to them, too."

"They know the risks now. They should know what benefit will they get from it."

"See ya around, bird brain."

"See you tomorrow, clown face."

Both show smug grins before parting ways. Last guest of the house is....

"Senpai? Can I sleep with you tonight?"

Ayumi and Hiro hear this and try to ask for further details. After Sumire explained that she was passing by town without a place to stay, they let her sleep in Ren's room under one condition.

"I expect that your cooking will impress us after what transpired tonight, Yoshizawa-san." Ayumi challenged her.

"I promise, Mrs. Amamiya. I'll give you the best impression you'll ever experience." Sumire accepted the challenge.

Hiro then gives a gesture to Ren to bring her to his room and call it a night. After freshening up and changing their clothes, Ren and Sumire shared the bed together. Morgana then gives out a realization that peaked both of their curiosities.

"I wonder why your Thief outfits never reverted back to your normal clothes."

"Didn't you say the Metaverse aura is evident in town?"

"Yeah, but I didn't expect this. It feels like the merging of the worlds again."

Ren then reached a realization as well, since he knew a certain someone was absent during the incident.

"Hey, sweetie.... Where were you when Mementos merged with Tokyo?"

"I-" She began to choke on her words before letting it out with a sad tone as she looked at his eyes. "I was scared, Senpai. I was scared to skip the training outside of Tokyo and return to help you guys. I was also scared of the fact that everyone was dying when it happened. From what Mishima-senpai told me, you all took a heavy beating and still fought despite your injuries. If only I was there sooner..."

Ren hugs her as she finishes her sentence.

"I'm scared of losing you."

"Hey, don't worry. I understand what you were going through. Worrying about us... Your dad... Everyone you cared for. We were all scared as well, but we can't just give up that easily."

As Sumire pays attention to his words, her heart sank. Ren wraps his arm around her as he continued.

"Remember what I told you before: you have stay strong and believe in yourself, both as a Phantom Thief and as my dearly beloved. With me by your side, you'll keep moving forward as you hold your chin up high with pride and confidence."

Sumire smiles at her boyfriend's encouragement before her yawn surrendered her sleepiness.

"Goodnight, Senpai. Thank you so much."

Ren kisses her cheek as he bids her good night as well. Morgana pounces on the small makeshift bed Ren made him as he made another comment.

"If what you're saying is true, then Suzui would be filling my spot for this. I'll resume my duties as navigator."

Ren shoots a joking mockery at his statement. "Before you claim yourself as navigator, learn how to avoid getting caught with that big head of yours."

"Hardiharhar. Go to sleep, Joker."

As the two sleep, everything suddenly shifts back to normal. Ren's Joker outfit returns to his prom clothes, Morgana reverts back to his cat form, and Sumire's Violet outfit reverts to her gym clothes and tights.

 

March 18, 20XX

 

Location: Amamiya Residence
Time: 0525 hours

 

Sumire wakes up to see her boyfriend wrapping her in his arms as he snores. She notices Morgana back in his cat form and puts a mental note for later. As she checks her clothes, she wasn't surprised that her Thief outfit went back to normal. But what caught her eye is Ren's prom outfit. Leaving a note next to him, she goes down to the kitchen to cook breakfast. She then senses Ella watching her as she prepares the meal.

"What's wrong?"

"I sense a strong power, my lady. It appears to match yours."

"If it's about the cooking skills, I can tell that Mrs. Amamiya is a great cook."

"No, not towards your prince's mother. This power.... I sense it bearing a resemblance to you entirely."

Sumire freezes at the words of her Persona. A power that looks like her? She shook off the thoughts and continues preparing the meal until she finds Ren downstairs wearing the suit, untattered and clean as it was before the attack.

"Good morning, handsome." she flirted as her plan worked.

"I knew you were plotting about it."

"What? It suits you dashingly."

Ren decided to return the favor in the flirting. "Well, with an adorable princess like you, I have to be appeasing to your eyes all the time."

Sumire's face turns red as she tries to think of a comeback before pouting. "You cheater."

They share a kiss before Ren pulls out his phone.

"Senpai?"

"How about we have a photo together? While I am wearing this and you wearing my clothes."

"I-I-I..... guess...?"

Ren continues to tease her as they position the camera to have a full shot at them.

"Where is Morgana with that bouquet?" Ren whispered to himself.

With perfect timing, Morgana arrives with a bouquet of violets in his grasp. Sumire accepts the flowers and does not bother asking Ren where and how did he get the flowers at the dawn. Morgana volunteers to be the photographer as Ren and Sumire stand next to each other.

"Say Phantom Thieves!"

"CHEESE!" the duo shouts as they avoid the Ryuji syndrome, much to Morgana's disgust at his plan.

The photograph has been taken, and then suddenly Morgana scurries up to the bedroom while avoiding the parents who are approaching downstairs.

"You two are so noisy." Ayumi complained as she rubbed her head.

Hiro notices his son wearing the prom outfit and questions him with a puzzled look. "Where did you find it?"

"Closet." Ren answered swiftly.

"Huh. Okay. Just change back to comfortable clothes. You embarassed your girlfriend by letting her wear your clothes."

"Either that or he embarassed himself by wearing that in his sleep."

His parents begin to tease him as Sumire blushed and laughed along. While Sumire is preoccupied by his parents, Ren returns to his room to change as he finds Morgana grinning at him devilishly.

"What did you do?"

"Nothing. Just had to change your wallpaper on your phone."

Ren snags his phone and marches down to eat breakfast. Not long after Sumire impressed his mother with her cooking, he brings up the topic of their mission.

"Alright. So we might be out of town if the investigation calls for it."

"Akechi-san said that we could find its source here in town, but if the source is near town..."

Hiro stops her from completing the debriefing and puts his hand on Ren's shoulder. "We get it. Do us a favor and make sure no one - not even you- gets hurt in this."

Ren gives him a thumbs up as he smiles at Sumire.

Ayumi then adds something else. "Oh, and if you plan on lying, please do better. You two are terrible liars, you know that?"

Ren then finds confusion in her words, but Sumire does not.

"Your girlfriend here lied about not having a place after waltzing into town in the middle of a monster attack. If I recall correctly, she called me earlier this week via telephone to see if you were busy. And it was only last night that I realized it was her who talked to me."

Ren looked at Sumire, who smiles sheepishly. "Surprise?"

"Sumi, I love you so much. But at least let me know directly if you're coming over. Especially since it was a very busy week for me."

"I'm sorry." Sumire looks down and blushes despite her guilt.

Ren hugs you as he reassures her it's okay. After breakfast, Ren heads back to his room and again to the living room with weapons.

"To think my son owns a magnum pistol. And his girlfriend owns a rifle... what kind of weird stuff are you guys about to fight?" Hiro mouths his thoughts after seeing how realistic the guns are despite being dummies.

"The kind of stuff that are possibly found in the dark web."

"I didn't need to know." Hiro gives up on inquiring.

After bidding his parents farewell, the trio march down to Chinmoku Park to rendezvous with Shiho and Akechi.

Akechi began by jabbing at Ren and Sumire. "I assume you both had a passionate sleep?"

Ren jabbed back to avoid embarassment. "I didn't know Shiho was your type, Akechi."

Shiho gave him a glare as she turns beet red from the uncalled jab.

"That was uncalled for, Ren."

"I only jest, Shiho. Nothing personal."

"Whatever. Anyway, we already found our source." Akechi bluntly stated as he interrupted the two.

Morgana leaps down the brick wall. "That was fast of you two to find it."

"Why bother finding it when it has become too obvious?"

The group then trots inward to the park's center, where signs of a summoning have occured. Ruins of park huts can be seen scattered all over, the grass of the area burnt to ash, and the hieroglyphics emit a low glow.

"How did we not see that last night?"

"I guess none of us thought of going to the center of the park last night due to how sudden things were."

"Good point. You reckon we enter now?"

"Wait. What about Shiho-senpai's weapons?"

"Don't worry about it. Shall we go?"

"Joker?"

The group looks at Joker as his clothes change again.

"It's showtime!"

As they witness the transfiguration, Sumire, Morgana, and Akechi also change. Shiho attempts to question Akechi's clothing, but saves it for another time. The group then hop over the fence as they charge to the summoning ground.

Chapter Text

The familiar eerie air blows into the group's faces, earning a lot of mixed reactions.

"Ah, feels good to be back in this place." Ren exclaimed as he looks at the deteriorating mass that is the Metaverse.

"Sometimes, I wonder what kind of sick fetish you have." Akechi spoke, disgusted at Ren's obvious jest.

"This looks worse than Mementos, guys. I recommend we stay on guard." Morgana advised, knowing that the appearance of the Metaverse is an ever-changing one.

"Right. Although this place is creepier than Maruki's Palace." Sumire cautiously walks forward.

"I just hope I'm not hallucinating from looking at these skeletons." Shiho pointed out as the team stumbles upon a vast empty area. Shiho's statement wasn't exactly a lie; skeletons of animals and human beings are present, giving an impression that the Metaverse now feeds on living beings.

"Holy shit. Looks like we weren't the first place the Metaverse tried to break through." Ren examined the remains of a skeleton, managing to pull out a uniform badge. He recognizes this immediately as he cursed under his breath. "Shujin Academy."

Shiho grabs the badge from him, and immediately acknowledges it. She then helps Ren investigate the remains and finds a more disturbing discovery.

"Guys," she called them, "this one looks fresh. Take a look at this."

Akechi without a doubt identifies the corpse. "A student from the University of Kyoto. With the rotting flesh still intact with the bones, I fear what happened in Kyoto did not end well."

Morgana then realizes that one of their own members lived in Kyoto. "Joker, doesn't Wolf live in Kyoto?"

"Wolf?"

"Wolf is one of our older members of the group. Well, technically he's an adult with a Persona."

"Not surprising, considering a cat has a Persona."

Morgana takes Shiho's amusement seriously and ignores her as they progress further. Ren then leaves a text message to Wolf to see if things are okay. Wolf, respond with a vowel if the situation was handled. Respond with a consonant if things went to shit.

"Senpai! I found something!" Sumire waved her hand to call their attention.

What Sumire found is another set of hieroglyphics but located in a suspiciously rocky terrain. Shiho begins to feel anxious about the mission and lags behind the team. After a few minutes, she arrives with Ren creating a trap.

"What are you doing?"

"Creating a trap."

"I can see that. But why?"

Akechi provides the answer instead of Ren. "To be fair, you are incapable of battling a demon one-on-one. So sometimes we would plot out traps to make sure our progress goes smoothly and without error."

Shiho finds the tone in his emphasis, and she deliberately ignores Akechi. Sumire teams up with her in setting the other traps while Morgana and Akechi assist Ren on the big trap.

"I still cannot fathom why you would bring her here." the detective scolded Ren.

"Have faith in her, will ya? You may be a pretty boy, but God you lack the heart to help them out." Ren scolded him back.

"There's no point in arguing, okay? We gotta stick with what we got, even if it means letting her be our assistant." Morgana defused the two of them before things get hot.

"Even I can't fathom whose side you're really on, Morgana."

"Crow, I may agree with you on not wanting a civilian to help us. But on the other hand, it could help us learn if Suzui has what it takes to be a Phantom Thief."

"You and that almighty bullshit ethics of yours."

"You and that backstabbing personality of yours."

The boys then hear chains rattling in the distance. Their blood ran cold as they did not need to ask stupid questions.

"Reaper." Morgana silently muttered.

"Shit. We gotta run!" Akechi growled as he prepares his pistol.

"Mona, find the girls and let them rendezvous with us. Akechi, we gotta trigger the traps at the right timing." Ren immediately commands them as he wraps up the traps.

"Roger!"

"On it!"

Akechi then grabs a triphook and hides behind a pillar while Morgana races to the girls. Meanwhile, Sumire and Shiho are facing a problem of their own: they are attacked by a demonic Fafnir.

"Shitshitshit!" Shiho panics as she runs ahead of Sumire.

"The gun is no use. Shiho-senpai, do you have anything to slow it down with?" Sumire grimaces as she stops firing at the Shadow.

The raven-haired girl then pulls out bottles with cloth. "Just some cocktails. Though I dunno if I can hit the face with us running away from it."

"Then I guess I have to do what I have to do: ELLA!"

Sumire summons her Persona as she stares at it dead in the eye. Shiho stops running and hides behind a rock as she witnesses the gymnast face the demon.

"Shiho-senpai, I need you to throw those cocktails when I order you to. Got it?"

"Roger that, Violet!" Shiho responded, getting into character after saying Sumire's codename.

"Let's show the beast our Masquerade!" Ella then unleashes a colossal attack that stuns the Fafnir, giving it an opening for Shiho to light the cocktails and launch her attacks.

"Fire in the hole!"

The cocktails prove effective against it, causing it to go blind as the girls continue running. Morgana bumps into them as he tries to catch his breath.

"Mona, what's wrong?"

"Re-re-Reaper!"

"WHAT?" Sumire is taken aback with shivers going down her spine as Morgana pulls her hand and rushes back to Ren and Akechi.

"Hey, wait up!" Shiho trails behind as she throws another cocktail just in case it regains its field of vision.

As the trio arrive, they arrive in time to see the trap go off and stagger the Reaper. Akechi and Ren then pop out of their hiding spot to attack it.

"You won't stop me!" Akechi yells as he summons Hereward and uses Call of Chaos on himself.

"Let's go!" Ren latches onto a stalacite and hops from rock to rock before slashing the Reaper. "Go for it, Crow!"

Akechi rushes onto the Reaper and unleashes a murderous flurry of slashes from his saber and slices through it. Ren goes down and fires a bullet at it, but the Reaper immediately recovers.

"The hell!" Akechi angrily exclaimed, "That didn't do shit to it!?"

"Damnit, we need another attack. Violet, Mona, your turn to attack!"

Shiho then remembers bring smoke grenades with her. "Guys, take these!"

"Smoke grenades? How lovely." Akechi shows a bit of rudeness in his thanks.

"You're welcome, asshole." Shiho retorted.

The group takes advantage of the smoke grenades and uses it to blind the Reaper. The hideous abomination then begins to fire its bullets wildly, hitting the rock Shiho was hiding and another hitting the Fafnir approaching them.

"That thing's behind us!" Sumire warned the group.

"Shit, a Fafnir?" Ren groaned under his breath.

"ONE AT A TIME, YOU SHITS!" Akechi uses another buff spell as he grows more psychotic.

Shiho begins to murmur to herself as she hopes for the Fafnir to not see her. "Pleasedontcomenearme, pleasedontcomenearme, pleeeeease...."

As she continues her tiny prayer, she hears the team screaming in pain. She takes a peak and sees Ren holding onto a rock as he tries to stand up, Sumire grunting as she crawls for cover, Morgana shaking his head off after a strong attack, and Akechi down on the ground paralyzed.

"Damnit.... Raoul! Phantom Show!"

Raoul then performs a sleep spell that only worked on the Fafnir behind them. Ren immediately switches his Persona to a samurai with bloodshot eyes. "Yoshitsune!"

Sumire recovers and summons Ella to buff herself up. She unleashes a Vorpal Blade attack to support Yoshitsune's infamous Hassou Tobi attack. Morgana rushes to Akechi and removes his shock effect, forcing him to unleash Rebel's Blade onto the Reaper. Luckily for the team, the Reaper was defeated but they quickly realized that the ground begins to shake.

Shiho feels the quake and rushes to the group, but the ground gave up and she falls down to a pit along with the Fafnir. Sumire jumps down to see if she got wounded, and much to Ren's relief Shiho is only suffering a broken rib. The Fafnir wakes up and attacks the girls, prompting Ren to summon a Persona to protect them as he goes down to help.

"ARAHABAKI!"

"Senpai, I'm running low on energy." Sumire began to show signs of wear-and-tear as she reaches for a bottle of Arginade to regain her energy.

"Ngh!" Ren felt Arahabki getting bashed by Fafnir's attacks, eventually giving in the Agidyne spell and getting hit directly.

"Ren!" Shiho tried to save him, but instead gets cornered by the beast. "Violet, go save Joker!"

Sumire begins to worry as Shiho, a human, is about to go head to head with Fafnir, a Norse beast. "But what about you?"

"I'll...." Shiho pauses as she begins to tremble at the pace of the demon. "... damnit, what do I do?"

Suddenly, she hears a voice talking to her as the world goes silent.

"Have you decided to face danger without fear? Will you prefer to go to a life where you are nothing but a pawn to everyone? Without anything to limit your rage and power, you can have my blessing to overthrow the enemy before you."

Shiho's eyes slowly turn yellow as the beast draws near. Sumire notices this and points it out to Ren.

"Senpai...."

"I knew it."

"Accept thy fate. Accept the danger before you and outwit it to your heart's content...."

...

"... do we have a deal, my lady?"

"Damn right, I do."

With the voice laughing in her head, Shiho begins feel pain.

"I am thou, thou art I. For you have been weakened before, and now nevermore. You have faced the threat that exploits you, so let us return the favor and exploit it to the death!"

A dark blue mask with a linear visual hole appears on her face. Without hesitation, she removes it and screams as blue flame cover her body. The Fafnir is blown away by the flames as they fade away, revealing a young woman suited with a tactical spysuit in a shade of indigo and sapphire, knee-high black boots, and gray gloves. Behind her is a blindfolded figure that wears a black-hooded assassin armor with gray leather sleeves, a blue sash trailing from her left shoulder down to her right hip, a triple-striped legwear that along with gray spiked boots, and a sword sheathed on the back of her belt. As Shiho lets out a menacing grin, the demon before begins to be engulfed in ice.

"Let's stagger them, Nora!"

Her Persona unleashes another ice attack, completely putting the Fafnir in deep freeze.

"Joker, Violet.... shatter this bastard in one strike!"

The two nod as they charge towards the icicle and smash it entirely, killing the beast and summoning a horde of lowly Berith. Shiho takes advantage of the ambush as she unleashes another spell.

"You two know what to do. Mabufudyne!"

As the Berith freeze...

"Raoul! Brave Blade!"

"Ella! Unleash our Sword Dance!"

Without a second to lose, the trio survive the ordeal as Morgana and Akechi return with rope.

"Rope? Seriously?" Ren asks with a face.

"You better be grateful we had to rush out to a nearby hardware store for this, Joker!" Akechi hisses at him.

As they get out of the pit, Morgana and Akechi notice Shiho sporting a Phantom Thief outfit. Much to Morgana's delight and Akechi's bewilderment, Ren claps his hands as he congratulates Shiho.

"Bravo, Suzui! I am very much impressed by your awakening."

She blushes as Ren gave her a compliment. She blushes more when Morgana and Sumire give out their compliments as well.

"I don't believe it! You look as meow-velous as Lady Ann, but with a colder aura!"

"I knew you had it in you, Shiho-senpai! A perfect 10, in my book!"

The four of them stare at Akechi, expecting him to give out a harsh comment.

"I guess I underestimated you, Suzui. Looks like you went beyond my expectations and proved me wrong. If anything, I wish I could have seen how you've awakened."

Silence fills the air as they try to process Akechi's words. Shiho then speaks up.

"Thanks, Akechi-kun. In fact, I had to do what I had to do. It was me or Sumire-chan and Ren-kun. I had to make a decision, even if it will kill me internally. Then my head hurt and my Persona - my other self- began to talk to me about how weak I was back then. I wonder if your Personas had to mock you first before letting you show the true potential..."

Joker gave his insight to make sure Shiho isn't alone. "For me, my awakening was like trying to tick me off since I wasn't right in my mind. Kamoshida had Ryuji cornered and ready to be executed, and I can't stand looking at another crime which I will not tolerate."

Sumire followed up, "At first, I just awaken to my Persona out of the necessity to accept myself. But then I realized my powers were unstable since I did not truely accept myself. Hiding behind the likeness of my sister, I-"

Sumire is cut off, cautiously observing her environment.

"Sumire, what's wrong?" Morgana snapped her back to reality.

"I sense something. Ella, is this what I think it is?"

"Indeed," the phantom bride began to confirm, "this sensation is around this vicinity. We must go after it."

"Sensation? What sensation?" Shiho inquired as Sumire tried to breathe carefully.

"Ella warned me earlier this morning about a power as strong as mine. To make it creepier, that power resembles my likeness."

"But that's impossible! Ella is both your Persona and Shadow. How is it you can detect a power identical to your own?"

"Forgive me, feline, but even I do not know what is going on here."

Akechi decides to summon Hereward and gives him an assignment. "H, scavenge the area for an entity bearing the appearance of Violet here."

"With pleasure, my prince!"

As Loki begins his hunt, the group then turns to Shiho.

"What are you all looking at me for?"

"You need a codename! Of course, we wouldn't forget about it." Sumire joyfully declared.

"Right. Since only you and Joker saw her in battle, you might as we-" Morgana is cut off by Ren, who then gave hints for Morgana and Akechi to formulate names.

"Ice. She uses ice attacks."

Akechi goes first. "I'll go first then. Zero."

Shiho disapproves of the name immediately. "Hell no. I'm not gonna be called that after having this bad-ass Persona."

Morgana goes next. "How about Snowflake?"

"Nope. Try better, cat."

Sumire tried her best. "Sapphire?"

"Are you guys going to call me deliberately after how I look or what my powers are?"

"More or less. Sorry, Shiho-senpai."

Shiho tries to figure out their pattern to see how she can have her codename. "Well, how did you guys get your codenames?"

Morgana then began to explain, "Well, we call Ren Joker because he is our trump card. With his capability of summoning multiple Personas, he most likely our biggest gamble."

Ren didn't appreciate being called a gamble, despite gambling his own life more than once. He stayed quiet as Morgana continued.

"For Ryuji, he called himself Skull because of his mask. For Lady Ann, it was Panther since she disapproved all our proposals. (I can see why.) I called myself Mona to make it simpler. For Yusuke, it was due to his mask and extra tail even though he tried to call himself Da Vinci. For Makoto, her domineering stance and commanding prowess earned her the title Queen. For Futaba, she called herself Oracle in reference to a Greek deity of guidance. For Haru, it was her choice to be called Noir as a nod to how we Phantom Thieves operate. For Akechi, like the scumbag he is..... he accepted Crow for a nickname. Quite fitting now with how he looks, if you ask me."

Akechi felt offended by Morgana's description of him. "Are we done with your charade? We still have a job to do."

"For Sumire, it was more on the English translation of her name. I can see why Joker called her that."

"Is it because she is as beautiful and elegant as the flower itself?"

Both Sumire and Ren blush at Shiho's direct interpretation of things. Akechi groans impatiently.

"If you desire to call yourself something, then do it already."

Shiho then thinks carefully. Sumire whispers to Ren's ear about something.

"How did she impressively know about that?"

"Well, she did insult Ann back when they were in middle school for her bad painting."

"First the acting, now the painting. I don't know, but I think Ann-senpai might have a problem when she goes for college."

"More or less. But we're her friends for a lot of reasons."

"I know. And thanks. Again. For the codename, you know."

Ren notices Sumire's cheeks heating up as Shiho finally came up with a name.

"Diamond."

Akechi began to deduct her reason on picking the name. "I would assume this isn't about your power or your appearance, correct?"

"Mhmm."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I were to see it in a different light.... you picked the name Diamond because you are displaying an unbreakable spirit that lets you shine in your glory and achievement. Correct me if I'm mistaken."

Silence fills the air again as Hereward returns to his mater.

"My mischievous prince, I have detected the intruder emitting the same aura as the redhead. Shall we go after them?"

"In a minute. After these imbeciles correct me."

Shiho gets flustered by Akechi's TOTALLY accurate deduction.

"H-How the heck did you know a-about my reason?"

"Pardon me?"

"Are you psychic or something?"

"To be blunt, no. I just know how to see right through you."

"Like how we did with you and your beloved pancakes." Ren smugly taunts him, earning his silence in glory.

Morgana chuckled with pride and stared at Akechi, "Keep in mind that because of your ears towards my comment, we knew you were plotting something against us."

Shiho and Sumire proceed to not comment on what the boys were implying.

"So, Diamond!" Sumire cheerfully welcomed Shiho, "You are now an official member of the Phantom Thieves!"

The girls hug each other as the boys began bickering about something.

 

 

Somewhere in the distance, the Phantom Thieves' echoes in the new Metaverse nest earned the attention of someone else.

"S-Sumire?"

 

Chapter Text

March 18, 20XX

Location: Amamiya residence
Time: 2130 hours

 

Hours after they exited the Metaverse and guided Shiho home, Ren, Sumire, and Morgana retreat to the Amamiya residence while Akechi will catch up to them after buying some snacks. While waiting for Akechi, Ren and Sumire are currently having a video chat with a few old friends.

"For real?! There were Shadows around during your prom?!" the loud mouth named Ryuji Sakamoto shouted in shock.

"Yeah, and if it weren't for Sumire here my ass would have been handed to me." Ren sheepishly responds, admitting his weakness as he held Sumire's hands.

"And what about Shiho? How is she?" the worrisome tone of Ann Takamaki went out of her mouth. Her tone immediately changes to an agitated tone when everyone notices that Ren is whispering something to Sumire.

"HEY! Don't just ignore us here!"

"Sorry, Ann-senpai," Sumire apologized before speaking again, "Shiho-senpai is doing alright. She managed to be the hero for once by helping Ren out before I arrived."

"Oh, thank goodness. For a moment there, I was afraid Shiho ended up in the hospital again." Ann sighed in relief.

Before anyone could speak further, Morgana jumped in front of the webcam and tapped on the screen.

"Hey, Morgana! Get off!" Ren tried to shoo him away.

Futaba recognized the tapping as a Morse code, and saying it out loud brought a face of disgust to Morgana from Ren.

"Oh, right. Thanks for reminding me, kitty!"

"Oh, great....."

Letting out her signature chuckle and devilish grin, Futaba then began typing fast as she spoke on the camera. "Earlier today, Morgana sent something to me for you all to see."

"I knew it. Wallpaper, my ass." Ren muttered to himself as he gave a glare to Morgana.

"So, for the moment of truth.... Ta-da!"

Futaba then uploads photos of Ren and Shiho before the incident, and Ren and Sumire before they started the mission. The latter couple blushed furiously and yelled directly to the gremlin who uploaded it.

"FUTABA!"

"FUTABA-SAN!"

A couple of "Awww" and "Oooh" noises can be heard, particularly from Ann.

"OH MY GOSH! SHIHO LOOKS WONDERFUL! THAT DRESS LOOKS PLEASING, THE DESIGN IS SO DARING ESPECIALLY THE EXPOSURE OF HER LEG, AND-"

Haru interrupted her excitement. "Ann-chan, should we give the couple their explanation first? I feel intrigued with the second photograph."

"Indeed. The positioning of their bodies give out a perfection in centering the subject without any signs of contrasting colors in their clothing. I agree with Haru in her intrigue." Yusuke bellows as he examines the photo.

"Okay, you guys. Shiho and I were dates in the prom..." Ren cut off as he turned to see Sumire giving him a disapproving stare. "... coz we were the only ones who knew each other closely after she transferred here. As for the second one- Sumi, come on. Don't give me that look."

"My, my. Is Violet getting jealous?"

Sumire caught Futaba's accusation and sharply defended herself. "I am most certainly not jealous!"

"Ryuji, do you think she's jealous?"

As clueless as ever, Ryuji can only answer with a dumb look. "Uh, she's a bit red-faced. But how is this related to jealousy?"

The girls in the chat groaned as Sumire picks up a mirror and sees her face becoming crimson.

"Sumire-chan, it's okay to be jealous." Ann reassured her while giving a forced smile. "I mean, I am kinda jelly that Shiho had Ren to the prom and you dating him. But then again, who am I to complain?"

Makoto decided to tease Ann with her feelings after hearing her. "Are you sure, Ann? If I remember correctly, you stomped out of Yongen after you saw them kiss, then you called me to eat crepes with you and afterwards watched a cheesy romcom to relieve you of your stress."

"H-Hey!" Ann begins to feel embarassed as she opened up the hornet's nest. "Makoto, I trusted you!"

"As a matter of fact-"

"Yusuke, don't you dare!"

"I happened to see Ann trying to show herself off more by engaging in more sultry photography. If I had known that was intended for him, I wouldn't have painted you after I took the shot."

"Yusuke, why on Earth did I allow you to see my photoshoots?!"

"Creepy Inari. Bet he took the pic then drew ya nude at last."

"I beg to differ against your claims of nonsense!"

As if it was a surprise, Shiho enters the house and shows off a smug grin after approaching behind the couple. "Toldja Ann would be furious."

Sumire turned and gave her an odd look. "Yeah, but I don't know what is impacting her more: me dating Ren or you partnered with him."

"Ren, I told you not to take the harem route. Now you're trying to add me to the list? Shameless of you." Shiho began to play around, causing Ren to raise his hands up in the air.

"I'm done. ANYWAY...."

His tone caught everyone off-guard and let everyone focus again. But the sight of Shiho behind Ren and Sumire forced Ann to squeal and make the video chat noisy again.

"SHIHOOOO! I HATE YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING HIM AS YOUR PROM DATE!"

"Hey, Ann. Quit the yelling already! Ma thinks I'm watching weird shit again."

"Shuddup, Ryuji! Your mom should know by now that you keep your stash under your bed since middle school."

"Ryuji?"

"Don't listen to her, Makoto."

"Ooh, Ryuji got a stash? How high is it?"

"Will all of ya shut up?"

Ren, Sumire, and Shiho can only laugh until she meddled with the chat log. She then sees her photo with Ren and decides to join in the chat.

"What's wrong, Ann? Think you can outshine me in my glorious moment that is the prom?"

"Oh-ho, I see where this is going. You dare challenge the great Ann Takamaki?"

"Ah, yeah. The great Ann Takamaki who painted literal shit."

"Yes, I did. Wait, hey! No fair!"

Hiro then calls Sumire to assist them in the kitchen. Shiho follows suit, leaving Ren alone in the video chat.

"So, when are we gonna meet up?" Ryuji eagerly asked, hoping for another reunion.

"Sadly, we won't." Ren blurted out with seriousness.

"WHAT?"

"THE FUCK?"

"Seriously?! Joker, you're joking right?"

"I do not understand. Why is there no need for a meeting?"

"Is something wrong, Ren-kun?"

"Ren, we want to know first why you won't call for a meeting."

Everybody did not expect their leader to deny a meeting. Hell, this is the first time he shut down one. Not a call-off, not a change of plans. A literal shutdown.

Ren then gave an explanation he hope'd the team would understand. "Okay, I understand you are all upset with my decision to not call for a reunion. As far as I'm concerned, everybody is on a hectic schedule in their personal time. I don't want to disrupt that time just so we can go back to the good old days."

"Dude-"

"Ryuji, you're still in the final stages of your rehab. Ann, you're not even allowed to leave training camp until next week. Yusuke, you're still known as Madarame's last pupil in Kosei. So I expect you to not stand out with the urge for a Thief business."

Morgana then pounced onto the space next to Ren as he continued.

"Makoto, Haru, you both are in college. I am not going to risk your education just to help me out here in the sticks. Futaba, I want to make sure you're doing okay WITHOUT the need to use the PC. I know you guys want to help, but I don't want to disturb you guys in your progresses. Until I say it's time for a meeting, we won't be seeing each other for a while."

The group goes silent, pondering about what Ren said is best for them. Finally, Ann spoke up.

"Alright then, Ren. If that's your call. We'll hold off for now. But if we find out you got in some super-duper trouble, we WILL go after you."

Taking the warning warmly, Ren nods his head before everyone logs out. However, Shiho said something that made Ann's eyes widen in question.

"See ya, Ann! Meetcha in the Metaverse sooner or later, mkay?"

"Alright, Shi- Wait, what?"

Shiho turns off the camera and laughs to herself.

"You did not just tease her about being a Phantom Thief, right?"

"Ain't fun if I stay as boring, bashful Shiho. Right?"

"You surely got cocky with yourself, Suzui."

"What can I say? There's room for me to grow braver each moment."

As soon as Sumire called them for supper, everyone dashed and ate the hearty meal. Minutes later, Sumire asks Shiho about her stay tonight.

"You sure your parents allowed you to sleep here?"

"Yeah. I just told them Kana and Daisuke are part of this. Even though I literally socked them off before coming here."

Ren just watched the girls talk as Hiro called his attention. "So, Ren. Any progress?"

Ren sternly gave the details he found so far. "So there's a weird gaping hole in the center of Chinmoku Park, and we investigated it. From what we found in that morbid pit, there were corpses belong to students from Shujin Academy all the way to the University of Kyoto. The bones were still warm, so the activity was just recent."

Ayumi stared at her son with a horrified look as if she was talking to a murderer. Hiro tried to snap her out of the trance before asking him to continue.

"We then found out that Shiho here is like us: a Phantom Thief. But that wasn't the only power we felt in there. There is something else... something that looks like Sumire."

The girls stopped talking as they shift their attention to Ren's detailing. "Based on what Akechi told me..... If we don't hurry up with this investigation, the entire Japan may be engulfed by these monsters in less than...... two weeks maximum."

"TWO WEEKS!?" The girls shouted with their mouths open, not expecting the time table to be that long. Sumire then tries to persuade Ren to make their mission shorter.

"Can we j-just do it in a week? I only promised my dad I'll be out of town for a week..."

"We'll try, Sumi. But as far as we know, we only have two weeks until the end of the world."

A knock is then heard from the front door. Hoping it was Akechi, Ren walks towards to door and, to his surprise, sees a young woman with a blue coat. Shorter than Futaba? Nope. But shorter than Sumire? Yeah.

"Good evening. My name is Naoto Shirogane, and I hope I am not intruding you all at-" she stopped as she looked at everyone in the dining room. "Dinner? At nearly 10 pm?"

Ren gave a sheeping nod and smiled, "Well, we forgot to buy ingredients earlier this evening, so we did it at the last minute."

"I see." Naoto then surveys the room before inquiring with him. "Do you mind if we can talk? I have a few questions to ask you and your friend there."

Ren whistles to Shiho, giving a signal that it's serious matters and the cops are involved. Sumire begins to mind herself with the dishes as she hid in the kitchen while Hiro and Ayumi chat at a low voice in the dining room. Naoto is then gestured inside, and immediately sits across Ren and Shiho. Meanwhile, Sumire whispers to Morgana carefully.

"Morgana, can you try to hear what they're gonna talk about?"

"Should I play sleeping or play stupid?"

"How about both?"

Morgana then scoots his way to Ren's feet and pretends to sleep. Naoto raises an eyebrow but dismisses the cat's presence.

"So, before I begin interrogating you two... I want to make sure I am getting the names correctly. Ren Amamiya? (Present.) Shiho Suzui? (Aye-aye!) Excellent. Now can you describe to me what happened during the attack in Nayami National High?"

Ren and Shiho nod at each before explaining what happened. They obviously omitted the fact that Ren and Sumire were Phantom Thieves and replaced it with just four dorks playing heroes against tough demons.

"So based on what you're saying, the demise of the creatures we are currently investigating are by your hands? Now if that were the case, it would be too impossible for teens like you to find easy ways in defeating them." Naoto began her sharp deduction.

"Well, we came home late in the evening. The reason why we didn't go directly to the police is that one of my friends was already hurt and I decided to take the quickest action possible." Ren defended the team.

"How admirable of you. But that still does not give me the answer to my current question. One, we found a one-eyed star monster charred to death without any signs of damage to it. If you were all trying to play hero, the least you could have done is give it a bruise or something to show how intimidating you are."

Sumire gulped in the kitchen, getting worried of what Naoto is connecting.

"Two, the black ooze found in the gymnasium grounds. No burns, no disconnected slime, no nothing. It's like the ooze spawned and dissipitated without a trace on how they perished. Three, the giant snake was seen frozen and shocked to death without any signs of damage as well."

Shiho butted in and sternly provided an explanation, "Well, their scales were too thick to break. I tried smacking it with the microphone, but it didn't dent at all."

"That explains the broken microphone. Okay. Fourth, the bull. The only thing with bruises, yet it did not rampage further into the city along with the giant snakes. It's as if it was distracted by something and it was harmed by one person as the pattern of bruising is identical."

Morgana's ears perked up as Shiho stiffens in her spot, getting anxious now of the interrogation. 

"Am I making you uncomfortable?" Naoto noticed Shiho's lack of movement or expression.

Ren saves her and pulls out a not-so-bad-but-not-so-good excuse. "Forgive my friend, Miss Shirogane. She isn't used to these things ever since she was sexually assaulted by her teacher in her old school. Police never believed her testimony during her stay in the hospital until his arrest."

Ah, the victim of Suguru Kamoshida. Naoto thought as she then changed her approach. "I apologize. I didn't mean to intimidate you with my manner of interrogation. I didn't expect to actually meet one of his victims."

Shiho breathes slowly before reassuring Naoto. "It's okay. What's important now is I've gotten stronger since that day, even though it would haunt me from time to time."

"Well then, on to my last question. If it's alright?" She gets nods as responses. "Do you two know the Phantom Thieves?"

Naoto's words struck a cord on Sumire as she nearly dropped a plate, which might have alerted her presence. Shiho tries to not be petrified while Ren takes off his faux glasses and cleans them.

"Well, to tell you the truth..." Shiho and Sumire began to tense up as Morgana opened one eye. "... I think the Phantom Thieves are bullshit."

HOW DARE HE! Morgana yelled in his mind.

I THINK HE JUST SIGNED A DEATH WARRANT. Shiho mentally wrung herself.

SENPAI, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Sumire is confused by his choice of words.

"Bullshit? Why do you say so?"

"Well, I heard from Suzui-san here that the rumors of the Phantom Thieves already began before she was assaulted. If they existed prior to her attempt to end her life, they would have stopped Kamoshida before things got worse. And then the news reports kept coming on, showing how not only are the Phantom Thieves exposing true criminals, but by not allowing the world to let them fend for themselves is nothing more than replacing the old ruler with the new ruler of the same kind."

Deep down inside, Sumire felt it personally. She did indirectly helped Maruki develop the alternate reality.

"I see. Well, I'm going to run this interview with other people some other time." Naoto stands up and bids them good night. But as she leaves, she notices the laptop showing a photo of Ren and Sumire.

"Do you know Sumire Yoshizawa?"

Ren tensed up, now his turn to be on edge. "I do. Why do you ask?"

"Is she still around here? I would like to ask her these questions as well."

Shiho elbows Ren to let him see the photo in the laptop. Shit.

"Unfortunately, she already left. She came by to see me in my suit for the prom then left back to Tokyo."

"Damnit." they heard her curse. "If she ever contacts you, please let me know. Her father has been looking for her for a week." She leaves a card with her number.

"Understood." Yeah, I understood that bullshit lie you're smearing at us.

"Alright. Have a good evening." And with that, she left. Causing Sumire to sneak back to the living room and observe Naoto walking into the dead of night.

"Holy shit." Ren sighed as he took in the relief.

"I thought we were gonna die. That Naoto girl sure is sharp." Shiho tried to shake off the tension.

"Senpai, you knew she was lying. Didn't you?" Sumire cautiously observed Naoto until she is nowhere to be found. "I already told my dad I'll be out of town starting yesterday. He was okay with it."

Morgana shoots back up, "That Naoto woman is sharper than both Akechi and Makoto combined. And she never gave out a look of surprise or shock, even after Ren explained Shiho's incident."

Hiro and Ayumi exit the dining room and give them a small lecture.

"Even the old Detective Prince is after you."

"But she is a girl, though. So shouldn't it be Detective Princess?"

"Ayumi, not now. We're here to discuss Ren about the new risk that just added into his burden."

"Kids, you need to be extra careful now. You have police on your tails... again."

The tense dropped when Akechi enters the house. "Sorry I'm late. Did I miss dinner?"

Ren then gave the gist of what happened to Akechi. Slamming his fist in the table, Akechi cursed to the highest.

"That bitch! Even in these parts, she is investigating about us?!"

"Not only that, she was sharper than you and Makoto. Was this close to breaking Shiho and Ren, and even found out about Sumire's presence." Morgana gave in more details about Naoto.

"Senpai, we need to be cautious now. We can't stand out, especially me." Sumire noted the raven-haired leader, who then had an idea in mind.

"Not on my watch....."

Morgana notices his grin. "This will not end well......"

 

Location: Hodamayashi District
Time: 0010 hours

 

"Teddy, are you sure about this?" A man with silver hair said to a very attractive blonde man.

"Most certainly, Sensei. My nose bear-ly lies to me." The blonde makes a horrible bear joke, but his talkmate laughs.

"Where's Naoto? She should be here by now."

"Well, we're living the adult life now. No more sleeping at this time!"

"Maybe for you. But for us, it's our job."

Naoto then meets up with the two and walks along with them.

"Any luck?"

"I thought my deductions were correct. If only I was considerate..."

The silver-haired man noticed her change in demeanor. "What do you mean by that?"

Naoto sighs. "Unfortunately, I gave Shiho Suzui a traumatic moment. Apparently, I accidentally interrogated Suguru Kamoshida's rape victim."

Both the blonde and the silver-hair winced hard at the statement.

"Maybe it was a bad idea, Teddy."

"After hearing that, maybe my nose was just tricking me."

"Sorry, Ted. But you did your... Hmm?"

"Yu, what is it?" Naoto noticed his words fade.

Yu then prepares his umbrella. "Someone's watching us....."

*sniff sniff*

Teddy speaks up, "Sensei's right! Someone is watching us! Right over there!" He then points to a small waiting shed, where a girl is hiding behind it.

"Shit." The girl curses and runs away as fast as she can.

"After her!"

The trio pursue the girl from the main road to the small alleys up to a small open field. However, they lose her after reaching the field.

"Damnit. We lost her." Yu spoke in defeat.

"Teddy, can you track her?" Naoto asked without a pause.

"Nope. Lost her scent already. And we were so close...." Even Teddy showed signs of defeat as they retreat back to their hotel.

What they didn't know is that the girl is hiding under a bridge, stripped down to her underwear to avoid Teddy's super smelling skills.

"That was so close...." She whispered to herself as she wore her clothes again and escaped back to the main district.

 

March 19, 20XX

 

Location: Tojou Hills District
Time: 0915 hours

 

Ren and the team go out into the main city as they gather around supplies for their mission. Ren was showing off a cheeky grin where the others... not so much.

Sumire is given pigtails and eye contacts along with a bad gaudy outfit (her idea.)

Shiho is seen with her hair down and has mascara on her right eye as her locks cover the left matched with an all-black outfit (still Sumire's idea.)

Akechi somewhat has Ren's glasses and hairstyle while wearing a 'Games Is Love, Games is Life" T-shirt (Ren's idea.)

"I cannot believe you repeated the same disguise tactic as before!" Akechi protested.

"And I know you wanna have a disguise, Sumire-chan. But goddamn, your style is horrible." Shiho harshly judged Sumire's lack of fashion sense.

"But this was my last option! I would still be identified by people with how I look." Sumire tried to justify herself as she pouted.

"Keep it down, you three! We're trying to make sure we avoid attention, especially from Shirogane." Morgana reminded them about the risk of charging into downtown.

They arrive at a convenience store to find Kana and Daisuke lotiering.

"Hey, gu- HOLY SHIT, REN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO THEM?" Kana's outburst nearly caused their disguises to be exposed, but instead gathered a crowd of insults.

"Holy crap! Look at those losers!"

"Are they from here? They look like they lived in the swamp?"

"Pigtails are so childish! And gamer nerds are childish as well!"

"Not how I imagined it will go...." Ren slapped his face in disbelief as Kana tried to apologize to them.

"Anyway," Daisuke spoke up, "what's with the shit designs?"

"We nearly got caught by police so we have to lay low in gathering supplies."

Daisuke looks at the group and gives Ren the benefit of the doubt. "How about this? I'm gonna be the one buying your stuff until Kana fixes their looks."

"Dai, they know about Sumire. We can't let her hair down or hair tied to a ponytail."

"Right. Shit."

As Ren ordered the three to join Kana for a make-over, Ren and Daisuke deal with the supplies instead. While lining up, someone bumps into Ren and caused him to drop the drinks.

"Oh, crap. My bad! Here, let me help you." The stranger helps out Ren in picking the drinks up.

Ren then appreciates the help and turns to him. "Hey, thanks."

The two look at each other in the eyes, and for a few seconds it felt like they knew each other.

"Hey, man. Quit staring down the old man there." Daisuke shoved his friend to the counter.

"I'm not old, you know. I'm only 23." The man claimed.

"Explain the gray hair, old timer."

"Shut it, Daisuke." Ren scolded his friend before bowing to the gray-haired man. "Forgive my friend, he's a bit of a dick."

The gray haired man just laughs and extends his hand. "I can see that. Name's Yu Narukami."

Ren then extends his hand and shakes him. "Ren Amamiya. Playboy of the Year."

The cashier can only giggle while Daisuke groaned. "We get it. You're a chick magnet, even for the cutie in the counter. Come on!"

As Ren and Yu bade farewell, the cashier then tried to flirt with him. "So, you free tonight?"

"Sorry, miss. But I'm waiting for my date with Risette."

The other store attendants spat their drinks after hearing him. Looks like Rise is quite famous here, after all. Yu thought.

 

Location: Hodamayashi District
Time: 1244 hours

 

After receiving a change of appearance (except Sumire, who retained bad outfit), they eat lunch in the town's infamous Taurus Beef Bowl Bistro, Ren and company begin to discuss about their plan. Only this time, majority disagree with it.

"Marching into Chinmoku Park at night? No thanks." Shiho bluntly rejected.

"I heard the Metaverse is scarier during the night. Sorry, Senpai, but I'm gonna have to say no." Sumire politely denied.

"You're completely mental if you truly plan on bringing us to the Metaverse at night, Ren." Akechi did not hesitate.

"It's our only chance. We just got lucky to enter it in broad daylight due to the lack of visitors yesterday. Do you not see the police lines earlier when we passed by the park?" Ren tried to convince them.

"Daisuke, please tell the cat to fuck off my food." Kana began to be annoyed at Morgana pointing at his mouth for food.

"Kana, please tell him yourself." Daisuke tries to avoid any more shenanigans.

A man with thick hair sits next to Ren and orders a large wagyu bowl. Sumire recognizes him without a thought.

"Doctor Maruki?"

Akechi, Ren, and Morgana turn their attention to the man, who greets them with an awkward smile.

"Doc, what are you doing here?"

"Yes, Doctor. I want to know what are you doing here."

Maruki notices Akechi and shrugs his shoulders. "It seems that the Phantom Thieves' cognition kept you alive, Akechi. Either that or some wishing star granted a wish."

Everyone sans Akechi and Morgana knew what he meant. Maruki continued.

"I just came here to relax. Things have been stressful lately. I just arrived a few days ago, and then I hear the Metaverse merging again."

"Yeah, it's happening again. But we don't know why or how this is all happening."

Maruki can only look at Sumire. My, she has grown so much since our last encounter, Maruki thought. Then he noticed Ren looking at his phone.

"Oh, by the way.... Amamiya-san."

"Hmmm?"

"Why are you dating so many girls?"

Maruki's comment made Ren drop his phone, Sumire choke on her meal, and Shiho drop her spoon. Akechi, Kana, and Daisuke take the chance to see if it reached social media. Akechi can only grin.

"Yeah, Ren. Why are you dating many girls?"

Shiho retorted without blushing, "That's bull."

Sumire recovered, "What are you saying? It's just me and Ren.... right?"

Ren immediately investigated the accusation and noticed his social media got hacked. The hacker? Futaba Sakura.

A post containing pictures of Ren alongside Ann, Makoto, Haru, Hifumi, Sumire, and Shiho became the trending post of the day with a few comments below it.

 

"oraclegremlin2k: you're welcome ;)

SakManofMuscle: damnit, futaba! you rubbing this on my face after i kicked your ass??

makotoniijima: futaba! don't you have any shame at all!?

artistnamedinari: such gorgeous photography! it seems morgana knows how to be artistic after all.

annchanpanther: futaba! for the last time, stop trying to rile us up!

shogivenusofkanda: um, this is unexpected.

MishiMan: wow, amamiya is a pimp!

cinnamonfluffokumura: futaba-chan!"

 

Sumire immediately commented on the post to make sure Ren doesn't get stressed.

"shysumire_325: hands off my man, ladies. :P"

Ren blushed at the comment, knowing that it has a double meaning as Sumire gives him a smug smile of her own. Maruki notices this and takes note that Ren and Sumire are the true couple. He spots a girl watching him from behind, but chooses to ignore her as he continued his interaction with everyone. Shiho sees the comment and responds:

"volley_bird_suzui: @annchanpanther you lose"

Before she can press enter, the girl bumps into her and accidentally drops her phone.

"Hey!"

The girl frantically gets her phone and gives it back to her. "I'm sorry!"

Suddenly, Sumire finds Ella talking to her urgently.

"It's her."

"Ella, what?"

"The entity with the matching aura. It's her!"

Sumire sees the girl next to a mischievous Shiho, and begins to approach her.

"Um, excuse me?"

No response.

"Hello, miss? Are you-"

She stops mid-sentence as she takes a short glimpse of the girl. Eyes, nose, mouth, figure, everything. All identical to Sumire. Akechi, Ren, and Maruki take notice and try to approach Sumire before the girl pushes her and runs out of the store.

"Sumi, you okay?" Ren picked her up from the ground as everyone witnessed what happened.

"She's getting away!" Morgana screeches as everyone goes after her.

"Are you sure that's her, Ella?" Sumire demands the answer from her Persona.

"Indeed, my lady! I have no doubts about my crystal-clear confirmations!"

'Is she talking to her Persona? Amazing...." Maruki blankly observes as Akechi reminds him. "If you have forgotten, you managed to talk to your own Persona back then."

"Right. My mistake. Wait, where are we going?"

Ren finds the chase to be tiring and begins to formulate a plan.

"Everyone, split up and search around the district individually!"

Everyone splits up as the girl remembers the pattern of last night's ordeal. Before she can try to strip to remove her scent, Morgana discovers her and forces her to retreat further. Before she knows it, Akechi give a swift kick to her face as she is knocked out-cold.

"Brutal much?" Shiho remarked.

"I did what I had to do, Suzui." Akechi barked back.

"Wasn't exactly a good idea, though. Kicking a girl in the face is too much, Akechi." Maruki scolded him in a serious tone.

"It can't be........"

Everyone looks at Sumire as she uncovers the face from the hair. Ren crouches next to his girlfriend to button back the girl's blouse.

Their response after seeing the face of the girl brings about shock and bewilderment.

"Impossible..."

"For real?"

"Sumire...?"

"..... Kasumi?"

Chapter Text

November 2, 20XX

Location: Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo - Earth XX

 

"What do you mean this is all a lie!?"

Kasumi furiously protested against her boyfriend Akira Kurusu, who may as well end becoming her ex-boyfriend if the fight keeps up.

"This isn't real, Kasumi. I've gathered all clues with Akechi, and it all leads up to Maruki. He somehow rewrote the Metaverse into a world where we never lose our happiness."

"Don't you think this is all a misunderstanding? And why associate yourself with Akechi when he tried sinking a bullet on your head thrice?"

"As aloof as that son of a bitch is, he isn't that stupid to accept things as is."

"Why can't you just be happy with us, Akira?! Do you find it disturbing that everyone is finally smiling without worrying about Shadows and all that shit?"

Akira held his tongue for a short while, prompting Kasumi to calm down and let him explain.

"I really do want you all to be happy, and you of all people know that. But then again, you're the only person who has talked to me over the last few months."

Kasumi can feel her throat choking as she took in the last words Akira told her. Only person to talk to him for the last few months.

The doorbell rings as Sojiro asks for help from them. As soon as the two finish in setting things up, Sojiro quizzically looked at Akira and faced Kasumi.

"Hey, kid. I didn't know you brought a boy here when I left."

"What are you talking about, Sakura-san? Akira lives here."

"Who's Akira? And I don't remember letting strangers live in my establishment."

Kasumi began to drown in her anxiety and paranoia. As she sits in one of the booths to process things, Akira just leaves LeBlanc without a word. From the looks of it, he is going to meet up with Akechi again.

"So you brought a stranger in here and you didn't know? Jeez, can you be more careful with the people you go with?"

Kasumi took caution as she started asking questions.

"Sakura-san.... do you remember having a part-timer here?"

"No, I don't think so. Unless you will consider Okumura-chan, I don't seem to have one." Sojiro shrugged.

"What about having an interaction with a guy like him?"

"The boy from earlier? Listen, like I said I never seen that boy before nor knew his name."

Something's not right. Kasumi began to analyze Sojiro's responses. Why is he suddenly forgetful about Akira? He has been aware of him for a long time, so why dust him off like it was nothing?

She immediately used the chat to ask the former Thieves.

 

"Angel: Guys, does anyone know where Akira lives?

Skull: Huh? You mean four-eyes?

Navi: You idiot! I'm not this Akira person Angel is talking about.

Fox: Hold on a moment. I do not remember who this Angel person is.

Navi: Yeah. Who are you and how did you hack my phone?

Queen: Relax, you guys. It's only Kasumi.

Noir: Kasumi-chan, who are you talking about?

Morgana: Akira..... that name sounds familiar. But sorry, I don't know him nor where he lives.

Queen: Why do you ask about... Wait, why is my name here Queen?"

 

Kasumi didn't need to think twice about it as she left LeBlanc to wander around the city and ask everyone who Akira Kurusu is. She runs into Haru in Harajuku, who was trying on some new clothes.

"Oh, Kasumi-chan! Lovely to see you here!"

Kasumi remained quiet as she analyzed Haru's expression.

"Kasumi-chan? Is something wrong?"

"Are you certain you don't know who Akira Kurusu is?"

Haru was taken aback by Kasumi's serious tone, but answered her jubilantly. "Of course I don't know him. Have we met him before? I hope he is a wonderful person to introduce to Father."

Kasumi then accompanies Haru in her shopping trip before a limo stops in front of them.

"Haru, are you finished shopping?" Her father, Kunikazu Okumura, then notices Kasumi holding Haru's bags. "Oh, Yoshizawa-san! How delightful to see you! Come on and join us!"

"It's okay, Mr. Okumura. I just ran into her and held her bags while she splurged."

"Oh, come on. We can't let you walk home on your own. At least let us treat you to a meal in Shibuya."

Kasumi complied as she joins the Okumuras en route to Shibuya. Using the quiet interior as an advantage, Kasumi tries to question the father-daughter duo.

"Mr. Okumura, are you aware that you daughter has a friend named Akira Kurusu?"

"Kasumi-chan..."

"Oh, really? My, Haru.. you never told me you had a boyfriend."

Kasumi immediately defended not only Haru's innocence but also her pride.

"N-No! Not boyfriend as in dating.... a boyfriend as in a friend... who is a boy. Yeah!"

Kunikazu sets his eyes on Kasumi's blushing face and lets out a laugh. "Oh, Yoshizawa-san. Talking about boys already. I wish I could hear Haru talk about a boy soon."

"F-F-Father!" Now Haru is the one blushing.

As the trio arrive in Shibuya and walk their way to Big Bang Burger, Kunikazu begins to feel sick.

"Father?"

"I'm okay, darling."

"Okumura-san, do you know the Phantom Thieves of Hearts?"

"Are they a new rock band?"

"No, Haru. I think I heard of them as well. They were superheroes, I think."

Kasumi crossed her fingers, hoping that a memory of Akira could be struck.

"What if I told you that Akira Kurusu was a Phantom Thief?"

Both Okumuras laugh.

"Oh, Kasumi-chan. You and your cute admiration for those kind of things." Haru cheerfully said as they enter Big Bang Burger.

 

December 24, 20XX

Location: Shibuya, Tokyo - Earth XX

 

Kasumi wakes up from the train ride as she arrives in Shibuya. As she exits to the station square, she finds her friends -or something like that- calling her. She prances her way to them to avoid bringing a bad mood.

"Yo, what took you so long?" Ryuji chided her.

"Ryuji, that was rude! Apologize to her." Ann scolded him.

"Sorry, guys." Kasumi bowed as she expressed her apology, "I just feel really tired."

"Welp, just don't overwork yourself!" Futaba chimed in with a teethy grin.

"Haru, what's wrong?" Makoto inquired the fluffy-haired girl.

"It's about Father. He began feeling sick, so I had to leave home without him."

"Don't worry. He'll be fine in no time before Christmas ends." 

As they patiently hung out near the Bochiko statue, a woman with silver hair and a buff man with glasses walks over to them.

"Sis! Dad! You're here!" Makoto said with excitement as she rushed to hug her family.

'Wouldn't miss it for the world, Mako."

"Dad wanted us to have a huge party, but after your insistence on Leblanc we agreed to go there with you."

Yusuke suddenly feels nauseous, and while Ryuji blamed him for eating too much before meeting up Kasumi thought otherwise.

"Kitagawa-senpai, are you feeling alright?"

The blue-haired boy nodded. "Yes, I am. However, I feel something wrong with Madarame."

A phone call breaks the silence, and Mr. Niijima answered the call.

"Niijima..... Sorry, Sir. But I decided to..... WHAT?!"

His sudden response alerted the group.

"The Sayuri exhibit is on fire!?" Futaba covers her mouth in shock as she looks at Yusuke.

Yusuke's head pain worsens, earning Ann's concern.

"Hey, Yusuke. You feeling okay?"

"No.... I remember something..."

Futaba brews her curiosity from his words. "Remember something? Like that camera I bought you on your birthday?"

"No.... it's something more...."

As they bring about their worry, the jumbo screen displays a distorted logo of the Phantom Thieves. Haru looks up as she stares at it.

"F-F-Phantom Thieves?"

It was her turn for a head pain.

"Haru! Hey, stay with me." Makoto tried to keep her conscious.

Kunikazu arrives from the station and witnesses the group in pain. He rushes over to Haru, who is suddenly burning up.

"Haru, stay with me. Daddy's here... I'll bring her to a hospital, if that's alright?"

"I'll keep an eye on the rest of the kids. Don't worry about it, Kunikazu."

"Thank you, Niijima."

As Okumura called his limo to come to Shibuya Square immediately, he begins to hear Haru speaking softly.

"Father?"

"Haru! Are you feeling okay or anything?"

"No... But I remember something..." Her begins to fade.

"What do you remember, dear?" Kunikazu softly speaks to her.

"About how you abused our employees in Okumura Foods...."

One strike.

"About how you tried to let Sugimura toy with me...."

Two strikes.

"And how.... nngh!" Haru starts struggling in her breathing.

"Haru?" The older Okumura begins to panic as he tears up.

The limo arrives as the group watches the Okumuras enter the vehicle. In just a few seconds, Haru clings on to her father...

"Haru."

"And how you just... died." With her final breath, Haru closes her eyes lifelessly.

Third strike.

A beeping sound was heard under them. Before he could open the door....

BOOM!

An explosion shoots everyone back, with expressions of shock, sadness, and fear in the faces of everyone.

"HARU!"

"HARU-SENPAI!"

"OKUMURA!"

"HARU!"

Everyone took notice of the explosion and alerted the fire department. After the fire was doused, they only saw the charred remains of a man holding onto his daughter in the inferno.

"Haru..." Ann began to weep.

"I don't believe it...." Niijima growled as he began investigating the car.

"Sis..." Makoto hugged tightly onto Sae as her close friend just died in front of their eyes.

"The hell, man!? Who tried to kill her?" Ryuji began to loudly express his thoughts.

"Damnit. She was looking forward to celebrate with us...." Morgana muttered devastatingly.

Kasumi decides to leave everyone be and message Akira about what happened. Akira, Okumura-senpai was killed tonight by a car bomb.

As she walked her way past Big Bang Burger, she noticed one of the staff walking away from the store and switching immediately to a black uniform. Horrified, she ran inside the restaurant and asked the employees about having an employee who clocked out early. After finding out that the employee does not exist in their logbook, Kasumi immediately ran off to warn the group but gets knocked unconscious when the restaurant explodes behind her.

 

March 19, 20XX

Location: Kinikyo Inn, Nayami - Earth X
Time: 1602 hours

 

"GUYS!"

Kasumi screeched as she wakes up from her nightmare only to see that she is in a well-cleaned room and that her own gun is pointed at her by a black-haired girl, who looked like her sleep was disturbed.

"H-Hey," she calmly negotiated, "Easy there.... Please p-p-put the gun away from me. I'm sorry if I-I disturbed you with my scream..."

The black-haired girl slowly lowered the gun as a knocking sound was heard. The girl stands up and walks to the door as she faces a young woman who exudes elegance.

"I'm sorry, Miss, but I couldn't help but know what that scream was about." the woman politely asked.

"Oh, uh.... Sorry, ma'am. My girlfriend and I were just messing around, if you catch my drift." Shiho tried to put up an excuse to make sure they don't look suspicious.

The woman glances behind Shiho and sees a girl covering herself with a blanket as if she's naked, earning an embarassed expression.

"Oh, so you're one of those..... girls. My apologies for -" she coughed as she tried to focus on Shiho.

"Is something wrong?"

"N-Nothing! I'll just pretend I didn't hear anything, okay?" With that, the woman scurries back to her room. Shiho sighs deeply in relief before hearing the bolt of the gun she held earlier make a noise. She turns around to see that the barrel is facing her forehead as the girl holds the gun with one hand and covers her body with the other.

"Start talking. Who are you and where am I?" Kasumi demanded.

"I'll tell ya everything if you point that thing away from my face." Shiho carefully talked to her without blinking.

"Where are my clothes?"

"They were dirty and ripped. I'll get you new ones after I finish patching you up." Shiho slowly made her way to the first aid kit.

"Patch me up? Ow!" Kasumi felt a sharp pain on her face and body as she looked at herself in the mirror. She then complied and went back to her futon. After getting her injuries tended, she patiently waits for Shiho to get her new clothes while looking at the room.

"Do you like what you see?" Shiho chimed in as she gives Kasumi her new clothes. "Don't worry about the money. I bought them for you."

Kasumi stands up and bows in front of her. "Thank you."

"I'll leave ya alone to dress up first. Then we'll talk." Shiho leaves the bedroom and waltzes her way to the stuff she pulled out from Kasumi's old clothes. She found a small diary titled "Akira Kurusu and his Journal against the Administration", a ribbon, a few bullets for the rifle, and a photo set. Pictures of her with Akira, mostly.

"I believe that belongs to me." Kasumi coldly told Shiho as she marches to her stuff.

"This man," Shiho pointed at Akira in the photo, "do you know who he is?"

"I..... I used to."

Shiho identifies her demeanor switching from tough bitch to sad girl quickly.

"What do you mean by that?"

Kasumi instead starts crying as she hangs her head low, avoiding Shiho's eyes. Shiho shifts her body close to her and hugs Kasumi to let her feel welcome.

"Ssshhh... it's okay. You can trust me."

"Okay." Kasumi exhaled as she began explaining, "I thought I knew him after we met. He was so cocky and much of a smartass, but he was also protective and focused on his goals head-on without any signs of doubt."

Shiho remained silent as she slowly spun a bullet around her fingers.

"However, one day he called me. And then he said that everything I knew was a lie for two years. He insisted that he knew something, but I just shunned him away. After a few weeks of ignoring him, I came to his place only to find him dead." Kasumi let out a few more tears.

Shiho felt a heartstring tugged as she felt her pain. She extended her hand.

"Well, whatever it is you're trying to do... we'll help you. Name's Shiho Suzui."

Kasumi shakes her hand until she realized something. "Shiho Suzui? Is Ann Takamaki with you?"

Startled by Kasumi's knowledge about Ann, she quipped quickly, "No. Ann is in New York as we speak, since she decided to finish her schooling there."

Kasumi paused for a few seconds as she looked at Shiho. "So she isn't here?"

"No. And how the hell do you know Ann?"

"I was her friend...." Was.

"I don't remember a Kasumi that oddly looks like her other friend."

"What do you mean?"

"You, my friend, look like our friend Sumire Yoshizawa."

"She's alive!?" Shiho did NOT expect that reaction, and hopefully she wouldn't encounter the woman from earlier as well.

"Of course, she's alive. Just who are you anyway?"

"Kasumi Yoshizawa."

Shiho then remembered talking to Ren and Sumire at some point regarding the dead sister. She shook her and told her honestly as she tosses the bullet to Kasumi.

"Impossible. Kasumi Yoshizawa died two years ago."

Blood ran cold in Kasumi's body. She died two years ago? How? Why? Then a thought in her mind hit her.

Did I manage to save her in time at the cost of my life?

Shiho snapped her fingers in front of her face. "Hello, Earth to fake Kasumi Yoshizawa."

"I'm sorry... How did 'I' die?"

"Blunt force trauma and a few broken bones that led to instant death. Kasumi Yoshizawa saved her sister from getting hit by a car."

I knew it. Kasumi closed her eyes as she took in new information despite how old it is in her memory.

Shiho stared at Kasumi until she realized something. She then tries out a theory that popped into her head.

"Okay, what was the Phantom Thieves' first goal when they began?"

"To kill Suguru Kamoshida after YOU died, Suzui-san."

Motherfucker, she didn't need to tell me that! Shiho furiously spoke in her head until the last few words reigned on her. 

"Wait, did you just say I died?"

"Yes," Kasumi answered bluntly, but immediately looked after remembering who she was talking to. "Kamoshida sexually assaulted you one day, and then the next morning you committed suicide by hanging yourself by the rooftop barrier."

So my fate is totally different. Shiho started sweating as her fate was more morbid than she thought. Stay focused, Suzui. You are not dead, you are NOT dead.

"Who were the Phantom Thieves' next targets? Mention only those who survived."

"Masayoshi Shido. Sae Niijima, Makoto's arrogant sister."

Looks like the Thieves killed everyone else.

"Who is your leader?"

"..."

"Kasumi."

"... Akira Kurusu. Codename Joker."

Holy shit. My theory is close....

"Who are the only surviving Phantom Thieves?" Shiho confidently asked, thinking she would hit the jackpot as Kasumi spoke with a sorrowful tone.

"Me. Just me."

Huh?

 

"Haru Okumura: died from a car bomb assassination.

Akira Kurusu: killed by Takuto Maruki.

Ann Takamaki: suicide by gun.

Morgana: killed by the Conspiracy.

Ryuji Sakamoto and Yusuke Kitagawa: died fighting the army..."

 

Shiho notices Kasumi's voice tremble as the latter attempts to hold her tears back.

 

"Makoto Niijima, Futaba Sakura, and Goro Akechi: died defending my life.

Sumire Yoshizawa: died after I failed to save her.

Shinichi Yoshizawa: died after I failed to save him...."

 

Shiho immediately hugs her again to keep Kasumi calm as she begins to cry again.

"Hey, hey, hey..... it's okay, Kasumi-chan. I'm here, okay? I'm here....."

Shiho felt a tear drop from her own eye after hearing Kasumi recall her dead allies as her survivor's guilt showed.

Not soon after, Sumire, Ren, Morgana, and Akechi return to see Shiho comfort an emotional Kasumi.

"Kasumi?" Sumire called her name.

Kasumi pushed Shiho and rushed to her sister, tears streaming more.

"I'm so sorry, Sumire...... I failed you.... I failed everyone...." She clung on to her as she couldn't hold it in anymore.

"I'm here, sis. Don't cry now... everything will be fine." She can't help by let some tears out as well. Even though both Yoshizawa girls are not actually hugging their respective sisters, hugging their counterparts was close to that feeling.

Ren approached Shiho, who was wiping her tears away. "I reckon something happened?"

"This Kasumi...." she glances at the two crying girls, "... she's not from this world."

Morgana became curious at her statement. "What do you mean she's not from this world?"

"She told me everything. In this world, Kasumi Yoshizawa is dead; in hers, it's Sumire. In this world, the Phantom Thieves change the hearts of the wicked; in her world, they killed all but Masayoshi Shido and Sae Niijima."

"Wait," Ren took concern at Shiho's description of the other Phantom Thieves, "They killed Kamoshida, Madarame, Okumura, and Kaneshiro?!"

"They killed Kamoshida after I....." Shiho still felt a personal pain from Kasumi's description of her demise. ".... hung myself from the rooftop."

Ren and Morgana stayed silent while Akechi spoke further.

"Did she describe whatever fate the Thieves had in her world to the point where she came here instead of staying there?"

Shiho shook her head and provided them what Kasumi described. "She's the last Phantom Thief. Everyone of you guys are dead."

"Dead? Is she certain about that?"

Shiho repeated the names and causes of their deaths slowly. Ren and Morgana showed signs of sadness and remorse while Akechi kept a deadpan face while he stroke his chin.

"I did become human... but at what cost?"

"Seems like Ren's counterpart was the only one battling. Shame that the Thieves got blinded and let their leader down."

"So that's what happens if we let Maruki take over for good. I die as he puts me in an eternal sleep."

"Lady Ann must have felt depressed after she remembered you died, Suzui. Killing herself while in grief is more painful than anything."

"I know, cat. I know...."

"Haru being assassinated.... Ryuji and Yusuke fought to the death.... Makoto, Futaba, and you defending her until you fell...." Unsettling thoughts begin to surround Ren's head as he hoped he made the right call by not assembling the Thieves.

As the four look at the girls recovering from their crying, Maruki opens the door and trips his way inside.

"Ow! Sorry for being late."

"YOU BASTARD!" Kasumi lunges at Maruki and starts punching him in the face before Sumire pulls her away.

"What are you doing? He's the reason why everyone is dead!"

"Hey, I dunno what your deal is. But let's just talk this out like civil people, okay?"

"I'll show you something civil, you four-eyed f-"

"KASUMI."

Ren's baritone command caught her attention, a feeling that Akira would display. Kasumi stops her fury, and lets Sumire pick up Maruki from the ground.

"So... you really are Kasumi Yoshizawa."

"Yes," she coldly answered, "but I'm not from this Earth."

Shiho steps forward. "Do you want me to explain, Kasumi-chan?"

Kasumi nods in approval, and Shiho begins explaining to everyone about her situation. After a short while, Maruki stands up and begins to apologize with guilt.

"I-I am so sorry, Yoshizawa-san. I had no idea that my power in your world was that strong. And my condolensces to your fallen loved ones...." He then convinces Kasumi that he is a different person. "But let us reassure you that I am so much different from your version of myself. I was defeated by the Phantom Thieves fair and square, and with that my powers have been stripped off me. I now stand before you as a friend."

Kasumi looked at Sumire and places her hand in Maruki's shoulder. "Okay then. Even if you attempted to kill this world's Phantom Thieves, you have conceded honorably and remained as an ally to them instead. You have my trust then."

"Thank you, Kasumi-chan."

Sumire then spoke up, feeling a bit disturbed by her sister's counterpart's tale. "So you failed to save me on time?"

"Sumi..." Ren knew where the conversation was going.

"I tried to stop you, but some guy snatched my bag and I fell on the ground. As I recovered, the last thing I saw was your eyes begging to me to help you before...."

Sumire approached her and gave her another hug. "It's okay. I know how you feel, and I underwent Maruki's guidance until I had to accept the truth of who I am. Your death still haunts me as my death haunts you.... it's okay to feel scared. But we shouldn't forget who we are or what our purpose is. We gotta keep moving forward with our chins up with pride and confidence."

"You sound like Akira...."

"I only took it from my boyfriend."

Kasumi then widened her eyes in realization that her sister's counterpart is dating her boyfriend's counterpart.

"Is it just me or does the surviving Yoshizawa twin date a daring guy like him?" Kasumi tried to joke about Ren. Although the sisters laughed, Morgana interjected their faux joy.

"In any rate, you're the last Phantom Thief. Who is hunting down the Phantom Thieves?"

Kasumi locked her eyes in front of Maruki once more. "Although Maruki killed Akira, the other Thieves were killed in the hands of Masayoshi Shido and his leftenant, Kenzo Manahashi."

Akechi growled as he heard that Shido hunted them down. "So I assume Maruki gave him his happiness as well?"

Maruki instead replied as he guess, "I think I gave everyone their happiness in her world. I might be foolish to even give that bastard my power."

"Indeed, you were."

Kasumi continued after waving off Akechi, "After Ann died, we got ambushed and was rescued by Labrys, a robot from the Kirijo Group."

Maruki muttered. "Kirijo Group....."

"As always, that bitch is still up to no good after her father died." Akechi put up a vile comment.

"You know them?"

"We did investigations on them before. Of course, that buff friend of hers wasn't even the friendliest as she shooed us off."

"As I was saying, we were then taken to their base... which was immediately attacked. Shido was killed in the firefight, so that leaves Manahashi as our highest threat."

The group then ponders about the mission's next step. Yes, they planned on infiltrating the crater in Chinmoku Park... but after Kasumi gave insight on who is responsible, their mission is already branched without second thought.

"How did you get here to our world?" Ren inquired.

"The Kirijo Group had a multi-dimensional portal that was somewhat a prototype. I used it to teleport here and landed in the sticks."

"A portal?"

"Yes. A portal. If I have to go back to my world, I should be looking for Kirijo Headquarters in this."

Shiho searched on the internet the location of Kirijo Headquarters. Luckily, the place is located in Tokyo. However...

"The place looks abandoned."

"Akechi, what do you think?"

"They must have relocated after we hogged into their business."

Ren then silently thinks of something as he calculates every possibility and every conclusion. Morgana looks at Sumire and Kasumi.

"Sumire taking the appearance of Kasumi and Kasumi taking the appearance of Sumire. You two are really dedicated to each other, no matter what."

"Thanks, Morgana-senpai."

"Thank you, Morgana-chan."

Ren finally comes to a decision as he skims onto Akira's notebook.

"According to this notebook, Kenzo Manahashi is a red threat. Meaning he is a very dangerous foe. With our Shido in bars and her Shido in ashes, Manahashi will regardless take over the Conspiracy and begin terrorizing Japan. Our mission is to investigate Manahashi and his connection to the Metaverse's anomalies."

Akechi laughs as he puts his hand forward. "I would love to visit Father dearest about this, Ren. Maybe I'll gut him for information."

Morgana puts his paw on top of Akechi's hand. "This mission will not be for our own investigation, but also for one's personal vendetta."

Shiho comes next. "Forcing the Persona users to extinction is the one thing that will never happen in this world."

Sumire and Kasumi follow suit. "For my sake and her sake, we will not lose this one!"

Ren lands his hand last. "It's unanimous then."

Everyone nods, including Maruki.

"Let's begin our investigation tomorrow. Sumire, you will keep watch on Kasumi as we venture the pit ahead of you. If you run into Shirogane or anyone who looks like the fuzz, get to the pit immediately and warn us. Understood?"

"Roger, Joker."

Kasumi began to show a wry smile, having to feel the vibe of a Phantom Thief mission once again.

"Shiho, you need a weapon of your own. Kasumi and Sumire have their rifles, so I recommend you find a weapon that you can handle without struggle."

"Gotcha."

"Doc, you're gonna have to be with us on this one. Akira's notes contained data about you understanding hieroglyphics in the Metaverse."

"Hieroglyphics? Okay, I'll see what I can do."

"No objections?"

Silence from everyone.

"Good. Let's all rest up for tomorrow. Will you be fine on your own, Kasumi?"

Kasumi nods. "Yes, Aki-I mean, Ren." She felt embarassed by nearly calling Ren Akira.

As the others leave, Kasumi decided to stroll around town for a bit with Sumire.

"Sorry for the bruised chin. Akechi kinda kicked you hard." Sumire winced as she gave an apologetic explanation.

"It's okay, Sumire..."

"What's wrong?"

"... This is the first time I've hung out with my sister again. Well, my sister's counterpart actually."

"I could say the same to you, 'sis'."

The girls giggle as they enter Taurus once again. The chef recognizes the two and reprimands them.

"You two caused a commotion earlier, you know!"

"We're sorry!" both apologized in unison.

"Hmph. Be glad that Amamiya had to pay for the meal."

Sumire and Kasumi took a seat and ordered their meals. As they waited for their food, Sumire checks on the hacked post Futaba did on Ren's social media. New comments have been added in the list:

 

"oraclegremlin2k: you're welcome ;)

SakManofMuscle: damnit, futaba! you rubbing this on my face after i kicked your ass??

makotoniijima: futaba! don't you have any shame at all!?

artistnamedinari: such gorgeous photography! it seems morgana knows how to be artistic after all.

annchanpanther: futaba! for the last time, stop trying to rile us up!

shogivenusofkanda: um, this is unexpected.

MishiMan: wow, amamiya is a pimp!

cinnamonfluffokumura: futaba-chan!

shysumire_325: hands off my man, ladies :P

volley_bird_shiho: @annchanpanther you lose

annchanpanther: @volley_bird_shiho says the lady whose prom was ruined

SakManofMuscle: at least she had a prom. shujin doesn't even give a damn prom at all!

MishiMan: ever since you guys left, we already organized a prom committee as early as june last year.

SakManofMuscle: @MishiMan you fucking traitors!

cinnamonfluffokumura: if i have to guess, we'd pick ourselves in the voting of who is best partnered with ren. right?

makotoniijima: guilty as charged.

annchanpanther: you all already know.

shogivenusofkanda: i concede.

pancakemonster: seems like ren can't help with a harem, after all.

artistnamedinari: apparently so. my condolensces ahead, joker.

PTJoker: GUYS!"

 

Kasumi laughed as she looked at the comments along with Sumire. The latter then asked her about her social media life in their world.

"My Futaba would throw in memes and explicit content while hacking into our own personal chats just for fun. One time, she secretly caught a picture of Makoto trying on a new set of underwear and immediately sent it to Yusuke. You might as well guess what happened." Kasumi joyfully explained.

"Well, as you can see in this post.... our Futaba is a literal demon in the Net." Sumire snorted as they laughed.

"I kinda like your picture with him." Kasumi swiped to Sumire's pic with Ren in the New Year's gathering just a year ago.

"You know, I tried to use your identity on him." Sumire exhaled as she began to tell Kasumi about her plan. "After you died, I fell harder into depression as I tried to kill myself with some sleeping pills. Dad found me trying and consulted me to Doctor Maruki. He was friendly and goofy, but had I known he would use me as a sample for his power...." Her expression became sad and guilty. "... so when I invited him for the event after I returned to Tokyo, everything felt okay until he broke out of Maruki's reality first. And boy, he was fast...."

Kasumi looks at her faux sister in the eye. "Yet you feel like that moment in the picture was the first genuine moment as Sumire and not as me."

Sumire nodded rapidly as their food is served.

"To our reunion!"

"To the yummy food!"

Both sisters began to chow down their food and immediately ordered seconds. However, a group of people from a table far away from the entrance noticed the girls.

"Hey, isn't that Sumire Yoshizawa? And..... hold on a minute."

"Darn it, Yosuke! You're ruining the moment."

"Ah, shut up, Chie! Not my fault Narukami paired us, Rise-chan, and Akihiko-san in this."

"You both are gonna get it if you won't keep it down."

"Kasumi Yoshizawa..... she was reported dead two years ago."

"Then why is she with Sumire... in the flesh and bone of things?"

"Should we call Narukami, Rise? You are his girlfriend after all."

"And I'm just the bodyguard with a battle scar. What was my use here anyway?'

Rise Kujikawa, a.k.a. Risette, pulls out her phone and sneaks a photo of the Yoshizawa 'twins' having fun with their dinner.

"I hope Yu-senpai gets this quick."

"We gotta keep watch, though. This town looks like it's about to go to hell if another Shadow pops up."

At this point..... Chie, Yosuke, Rise, and Akihiko can only observe for now.

 

Chapter Text

March 21, 20XX

Location: Lotus Hotel, Nayami - Earth X
Time: 0000 hours

 

In the lobby of the quaint hotel, a large gathering is seen occupying nearly all of the space. It seems that they are conducting a group assembly. Yu Narukami stands in the front as the rest held their tongues for the debriefing.

"As you all know," Yu began as his voice demanded full attention, "Rise took a photo of Sumire Yoshizawa and someone who looks like her dead twin Kasumi Yoshizawa. Earlier, we had discussed about Sumire Yoshizawa's involvement with the Metaverse after her father refused to answer Naoto's interrogation. Futhermore, she escaped our grasp after we caught her spying on Mitsuru-san and her clients."

Everyone stared at each other as they try to figure things out.

"Hey, how sure are you Sumire is involved? I mean, we all heard from the bug in the card that she just arrived in Nayami a few days ago?" Yukari asked for clarification.

Naoto stood up and explained. "If you are smart enough to hide, then your own gym bag would not be seen loitered in the living room. I just managed to catch my eye on Ren Amamiya's laptop having a photo of her in a temple to make it look like a sudden coincidence."

"Okay, but why should we pry our eyes on a girl who just wants to see her boyfriend?"

"Jeez, Yuka-tan," a man with a baseball cap groaned, "she's trying to say that Ren Amamiya is a Phantom Thief, her father is hiding that fact, and we got sent here by Mitsuru just to watch over them until the next attack."

"Wow, big words for the original Ace Defective."

"Piss off."

Yu cleared his throat as Yukari and the Ace Defective went quiet. "We can't say her father is hiding the fact that his daughter is a Phantom Thief. For all we know, he denied Naoto's interrogation simply because he won't tolerate his own daughter to jump into action."

Everyone went quiet, giving Ren an awkward air to breath.

"Was it something I said?"

"Yeah," Yosuke spoke up, "how do you think Kasumi Yoshizawa died?"

Yu acknowledged Yosuke's words and apologized to everyone before continuing.

"So we have three targets for now: Ren Amamiya, the Phantom Thief leader.... Sumire Yoshizawa, the leader's lover and possible collaborator..... and the doppelganger of Kasumi Yoshizawa, whom Rise said has great power in her."

"Hey, Ted."

"Yeah, Kanji?"

"Is it possible for a dead girl to harness enough Shadow power to resurrect?"

Teddie was impressed by Kanji's inquiry, and while the others showed curiosity and awe at his words Kanji spoke out angrily to release the eyes off him.

"The hell is wrong with you guys? Just because I'm still sporting the tough guy look doesn't mean I'm 100% stupid!"

"To answer your question, Kanji: no, you can't. There's bear-ly any energy strong enough to do something like that." Teddy supplied an answer that even Yu cannot try to debate against. He sighed.

"Well, this is our mission after all. So when we get her, we can get answers. Understood?"

Everyone nodded their head except Akihiko.

"Care to share the objection, Sanada-san?"

Akihiko cleared his throat and cracked the tense feeling off his neck as he began talking. "Well, we could split up and go after them just for answers. But I can't help to notice their chemistry. You go after Sumire Yoshizawa, and her doppelganger sister might go apeshit. Kidnap Kasumi Yoshizawa, and we're gonna be receiving hell from our actual target."

"So what are you implying, Akihiko?"

"How about we just go for someone who is possibly a collaborator but cannot access the Metaverse?"

Naoto figured out only one person who can fit that job. "Shiho Suzui."

"Kamoshida's victim?"

Teddie's loud tone earned silence from everyone before Naoto resumed.

"Yes, Teddie. After checking the way she answered her questions as well as the mannerisms, I would like to finalize my point that Shiho is unaware that Ren Amamiya is a Persona user."

"And this relates because...." Akihiko expected.

".... because Amamiya knew too much about the events that began after Suzui's attempt."

The group began to make noise and formulate theories and plans. Yu gave a small smile as he knew he was leading them well. The noise died down after as Yu then calls for a vote.

"In favor of prioritizing Ren Amamiya, raise your hand."

Three: Naoto, Yu, and Teddy.

"In favor of prioritizing the suddenly-revived Kasumi Yoshizawa?"

Two: Chie and Yukiko.

"In favor for Sumire Yoshizawa?"

Three: Fuuka, Yukari, and Rise.

"So the rest goes for Shiho Suzui then?"

The rest raised their hands. Suddenly, Junpei's hand gets hit by a dart.

"AH, SONUVAB-"

"Junpei!"

"Where did that dart come from?"

Yukiko pulls out the dart that had a small message and reads it.

"Hunt us down and we will slaughter you before you do. -Crow"

"Looks like someone's listening, Senpai." Rise looked around to see nothing unusual.

"Yeah. Let's hold off for now. Head back to your respective stays and wait for my signal." Yu commended to the team as they disperse the lobby. Akihiko however approaches him cautiously.

"You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I know, Akihiko-san. It might have something to do with what Mitsuru told us."

"If this kid is gonna go peek at our troubles, she's asking for it as well."

"Let's not roughen things up, alright? You're intimidating enough to scare the poor girl."

"Or the fabled Thieves either."

Elsewhere, Akechi chuckles evilly as he watched the group leave.

"You have no idea what you're getting into..."

Pulling out his cellphone, he contacted Ren quickly to inform him of a possible ambush. We got heat on our tails. Shirogane has a whole team to look for us around town tomorrow.

He received a reply instantly. Gotcha. We'll stick with the plan, but let Sumire and Kasumi accompany each other so they can bait those bastards to us.

 

Location: Chinmoku Park
Time: 1030 hours

 

Akechi's warning immediately forced Ren to call for a quick emergency meeting.

"Change of plans: looks like Shirogane's team is gonna split up and look for Suzui instead of the twins."

"Does that mean I have to accompany you guys instead?" Shiho tilted her head in disbelief.

"No, I'll have you girls go together. We boys will set things up in the pit so we can try to trap them." Ren tried to say the new plan as simple as he can.

"The nerve of that woman...." Morgana gave a scowl.

"We can manage, Ren-senpai. Right, girls?" Sumire reassured Ren as the other girls nod.

"Alright then, ladies. Go have some fun." he winked at them as he jumped over the fence.

"Ah, that Joker...." Morgana sighs as he followed.

"That charm of his is so unbearable." Akechi spat out as he watched the girls head back to town.

As the girls head for the Hobayashi District, Shiho began to notice that there are people watching them. She pulled the twins close to her.

"Eyes and ears up, ladies. We got company." She discreetly spoke.

"Kasumi, stay with me."

The girls then arrive at Oda's MasterKey store. If anyone is dumb enough to not notice the shotgun logo in the store, then the town is either okay with guns or just lacks perception.

"Welcome!" Oda greeted the girls.

"Hey, Oda-san!"

"Good morning!" both twins bowed and greeted at the same time.

"Suzui! I didn't know you brought the.... wait a second." Oda stopped before noticing someone who ISN'T supposed to be alive.

"Kasumi Yoshizawa.... Gymnast extraordinaire. Didn't you die two years ago?"

Sumire butted in and tried to give an otherwise horrible excuse. "Sorry, sir! This is just my cousin, Eia-san! S-she just looks l-like us!" Forcing a wide grin while stuttering didn't help either. Luckily, Shiho saved them after pulling out a machine gun.

"H-Hey!" Oda exclaimed in sudden shock, "You can't just carry that around like an umbrella!"

Shiho then examined the gun. Lightweight? Check. Capable of holding many bullets? Check. Customizable? Indeed.

"I'll give ya 300K if ya customize this with a precision sight and a foregrip."

Oda and the twins just look at her in both amazement and confusion.

"Since when did you take a liking in guns?"

"Since I was nearly killed by those things that ruined my prom."

Fair point.

"Okay then. If it is for the purpose of defense..."

Shiho and Oda then proceed to the back room for the customization. Meanwhile, Kasumi examines the rifles lined up in one row, earning Sumire a sly smile.

"Like what you see, sis?"

"I just don't know why I have to be stuck with a battle rifle."

"You're lucky your gun is easy to use. Do you know how tiring it is to pull the lever without the fear of pulling the trigger?"

The girls continue to chat about rifles as Akihiko enters the store and takes his cue.

"Hello? Anyone here?"

Sumire informed him kindly, "I'm sorry, sir. He is currently attending to another customer, so please look around for now."

Akihiko had to play dumb to avoid blowing his cover. "Alright. Thank you."

Kasumi then noticed his change of demeanor and warned Sumire. "He's not here for the guns. He's here for something else."

Sumire then decided to pretend to be scared as she approached Akihiko. "E-e-excuse me, s-s-sir? Do you h-happen to be part of the Y-Yakuza?"

Akihiko has caught off-guard by Sumire's fake acting. Am I really that intimidating?

"Uh, no. Not at all. Please forgive me for how I look."

"Okay then, S-sir!"

Akihiko rubbed his head in shame and disappointment in himself. "Someone kill me now...."

Next on cue is Junpei Iori, who snoops around and stares at the handguns in a huge case. "Oh-ho, man. If only this wasn't for something else, I could get one or two of these babies!"

Kasumi played along, knowing it's her turn to act. "Do you like what you see?"

Junpei, being the moron that he is, stumbles and accidentally breaks the case.

"Jeez, lady! You scared me!"

"Sorry, sir! I didn't mean to intrude...." Kinda like what you're doing. Kasumi then begins to shed crocodile tears, which sparked Sumire to keep up with the facade while Akihiko contemplates on the plan.

"Hey, you're not gonna cry. Right?" Junpei sheepishly asks, earning a disgusted sigh from his teammate.

"What did you do to my cousin!?" Sumire acted like a defensive cousin at this point, knowing that her real sister would have been proud of it.

"I-I-I didn't mean to get mad at her! I just thought she was some creepy girl and stuff."

A facepalm from Akihiko. Certainly NOT going along with the plan.

"Eia, what did this pedophile do to you?"

"Pe-pedophile?! Hold on just a minute there, Yoshizawa-san!" Crap.

Crap.

Bingo!

"I'm sorry?"

"What I, uh, meant to say is.... you look like the pretty Yoshizawa-san from TV!"

Good one, Junpei.

Damn, that was smooth as hell. I am still da man!

Sumire just furiously blushed, but she knew Kasumi had one last trick up her sleeve.

"HELP! WE'RE GETTING MOLESTED BY TWO MEN!"

What!?

You're shitting me, right?!

As if through instinct, Oda bursts out of the back room and finds Junpei trying to approach the twins.

"What do you think you're doing!? Don't make another step or I'm calling the police!"

Akihiko grabs his arm as he cracks his knuckles on his chest. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

"And so should you, if you wanna live."

Shiho pops out of the corner, aiming her new machine gun at Akihiko. Junpei panics at the sight of Shiho and the machine gun, and lets the twins rush behind her.

"Forget the cops, Oda-san. From the looks of it, they can pay you double for causing a disturbance, damage of property, AND attempted rape."

Akihiko glared at Shiho as she gave a smug grin while passing in front of him.

Holy shit, Akihiko-senpai! You just got whipped!

Don't give me that look, Iori. You just had to screw it up.

Both men looked at each other caustiously, then surrendered as they whip out wallets while the girls stroll out.

"You can't be serious in bringing that all the way to the park, right?" Sumire anxiously asked as people began to whisper about Shiho and her gun.

Do you think she bought a gun for those monster things?

Shiho Suzui... now has a machine gun. I feel terrorized.

Even a girl can bring a gun around. What is wrong with society lately?

"Ah, fuck them." Shiho shrugged as she looks at Sumire.

"Kasumi, are you feeling alright?"

"I am. Man, we make such good actresses." 

"Better than Ann, if you think about it."

Kasumi showed a confused look. "Huh? Your Ann does modeling AND acting?"

Shiho laughed. "Uh, just the modeling part. As for the acting... 1/10."

"Our Ann is actually a model and a singer." Kasumi chimed at her remark.

"What? Ann? Sing? Bullshit." Shiho tried her best not to let another laugh go out.

Sumire asked Shiho after her obvious profane judgment. "Why would you say that to Ann-senpai?"

"Because she sings like a horse was trying give birth with choking on a carrot."

The three girls laughed loud as they scurried along. They then run into a boy who is as old as Akechi and a woman with a tracksuit.

"Damnit, Ken. You beat me again!"

"'Course not, Chie-san! I just got lucky."

The two then notice the trio approaching their way. What they did not expect, however, was the presence of a genocide harbinger.

"HEY, WAIT! Don't point that thing at us!" Chie panicked as Shiho intentionally swings the gun around, garnering also fear from passersby.

"You do know that carrying a weapon is a crime, right?" Ken channeled his inner policeman as he stepped in front of Shiho.

"Whatcha gonna do, kiddo?" Shiho started to talk smack into Ken, "Cuff me to the nearest pole?"

"Now what made you think I'll cuff you to a pole?"

Shiho gives her machine gun to Sumire, who carries it with little struggle as Shiho walks to a pole.

"So that you can go frisk me while I am like this." She begins imitating a stripper who has her hands tied to the pole. Ken begins to feel shameful of himself as he turned to Chie with a red face.

"Seriously! You play cop, but can't keep your composure alright?!" Chie chided him as she tries to look away with a red face.

Shiho continued her teasing as Sumire and Kasumi tried to sneak behind Ken. "What's the matter? Getting cold feet?"

"N-n-no! It's just that.... how are you so daring!?"

Their facade ends however, when Shiho suddenly shifts to her Metaverse outfit. Sumire and Kasumi watch in horror as they themselves transform as well.

"Shit."

"Get her, Ken-kun!"

Before Ken can lunge at her, Shiho kicks his manhood and sprints past him and Chie. Sumire began to giggle as they ran.

"What?"

"That was some pretty convincing play there."

"Thanks!"

Kasumi remained quiet as they reach Chinmoku Park. But as they enter, they are greeted by multiple pursuers.

"Already in their Phantom Thief attire?"

"No shame in showing the thief game."

"Let's get after them!"

Shiho nabs the machine gun from Sumire and begins firing at the group. Yosuke gets hit by a bullet in the cheek as he yelled in pain.

"DAMNIT THAT HURTS! I THOUGHT THE INTEL WAS THEM USING TOYS!"

"How would we know?"

Sumire turns around and summons Ella to shroud the pursuers with Makougaon. Naoto, Koromaru, and Teddie fell down as they get hit by the attack.

"Later, gators!" Sumire taunted them as she jumped into the pit. Shiho and Kasumi follow her as they rush their way to Ren, Morgana, and Akechi.

"A machine gun!?" Akechi did not say this out of anger, but out of fear.

"Yeah," Shiho proudly lifted it up to eye level, "pretty cool, right?"

Echoes of Narukami and the rest reach earshot, and Ren gives out sign language that says 'Ready up!'. As soon as the Shadow Operatives arrive, they see an empty lot with weird hieroglyphics. Both teams didn't prepare for what was gonna happen next, may it be a good one or bad one.

Takuto Maruki falls down and lands on his back as he regrets trying to be cool like his former pupils/rivals.

"Owwww..... not gonna backflip again."

Ren and the crew curse quietly as they have COMPLETELY forgot about Maruki.

Narukami recognizes him without pausing his breath. He then walks over to him and grabs him by the collar.

"Takuto Maruki?"

"Yeah, that's me. Can you, uh...." Maruki began to sweat as he shifted his vision between Narukami and the rest of the team. ".... put me down for a sec? I feel sick."

Narukami lets him go as Maruki began to puke, earning unsatisfied faces from the hiding Phantom Thieves.

"So mind telling me what's going on here?"

"We heard you can read Shadow hieroglyphics, according to Wakaba Ishiki's research. You are one of her apprentices, after all."

Maruki showed a glare of unappreciation as we looked at Yu. "So I was. What do you want?"

Kanji did not take a second to think for the right words. "We're gonna use ya as bait for the Phantom Thieves."

"Straight to the point, huh? But what does that have to do with hieroglyphics?"

Akihiko cuffs him from behind as he pushed him forward. "Mitsuru wants to speak with you in private, anyway."

"You gonna report me for something?"

Ignoring the counselor's complaining, Yu then radios a few more backup. "Aigis, Labrys, get down here and scan the hieroglyphics. If what Mr. Manahashi said is true, we can use the Kirijo tech to study about the Metaverse."

Kasumi froze in fear as she looked at the gathering below. These people work for Manahashi?! Shaking her head, she notices Sumire looking at her with a frown.

"Don't."

Two robots then arrive in the scene and begin examing the hieroglyphics. Morgana eyed the robots as he felt impressed by how progressive they are doing. Akechi leaned to his ear as he tries to warn Morgana.

"Those robots are anti-Shadow weapons. Rumor has it from our intel that they are Persona users as well."

Morgana's expression then changed. So much for tinkering with their tech.

"Joker, what's your call?" Sumire looked at her boyfriend, now showing a serious look.

"Kasumi."

"Yes?"

"Smoke bombs. Blow them."

She then triggers the smoke bombs before turning back to Joker.

"It's Angel, by the way." She then jumps out before pulling out a spear chain to cling onto the ceiling.

Junpei, after catching up, spots Kasumi above. "AMBUSH!"

Akechi steps out of his hiding spot and summons Hereward.

"My skills are beyond yours!"

Junpei jumps back and bumps into Yukari and Ken, who then notice Akechi and Hereward.

"Goro Akechi?"

"Forget about him! Look at his aura!"

"Kala Nemi!"

"Isis!"

"Trismegistus!"

Akechi then faces three Persona's that pop in between them. He begins to laugh maniacally, creeping out Junpei and Yukari.

"His laughing isn't helping."

"He has the looks of a pretty boy, but that laughter is something else."

The Mad Detective then proceeds to charge at the Ace Defective and his teammates. Meanwhile...

"I figured you were involved with the Phantom Thieves, Suzui. But to think you're one of them..."

"Call me a rook if you want, but you know you're gonna get your ass kicked."

"Don't get cocky now, kid!"

"I dare ya, muscle crepes."

"Takeji Zaiten!"

"Yamato Sumeragi!"

"Woof!"

"A dog?"

"Woof! (Cerberus!)"

In front of Shiho are Naoto Shirogane, Kanji Tatsumi, and a dog named Koromaru. Although their Personas show intimidation, they did not faze Shiho.

"I see three chickenshits. Am I right.... NORA!"

Maruki tries to scramble in the middle of the smoke and fighting. Narukami grabs him and takes him away from the battle only to get nicked in the face by Morgana's slingshot!

"Damn cat! What was that for?"

"You're not going anywhere, hotshot!"

Morgana then pulls Maruki to lead him to their exit point. Narukami recovers and commanded anyone not fighting to retrieve Maruki from Morgana.

"We got this, Narukami!"

"Hang back, bro!"

"Find the other Thieves, Narukami!"

Morgana then shoves Maruki to Sumire, who is still watching Kasumi wherein the latter just observes them.

"I'll hold them off, Violet! get Maruki outta here!"

Without a second to think, Sumire nods and tugs Maruki close to her.

"Diego! Miracle Rush!"

"Crap! That cat seriously gonna try to kill us?"

"Haraedo-no-Okami!"

"Sumeo-Okami! Let thy flowers burn!"

"Takehaya Susano-o!"

As the battle goes harder, Kasumi closes her eyes and begins meditating. Ren notices her doing this and leaves her be. Maybe she's waiting for the right moment to strike, I guess. He rendezvous with Sumire and Maruki, and tries to summon Raoul before getting punched by Akihiko.

"Not so tough now, are ya?" Akihiko bragged before getting kicked in the face.

"Right back atcha!"

"I got this, Joker-senpai!"

"You sure?"

"I am."

Sumire receives a kiss from Joker as he departs with Maruki.

"Getting a little cozy there now..." Akihiko teases Sumire as she fights back her flushed face.

Labrys and Rise jump in for the fight.

"Ariadne!"

"Kanzeon!"

"Hail, Caesar!"

Surrounded by three strong Personas, Sumire can only hope to outwit them after summoning Ella. Meanwhile, Ren and Maruki arrive close to the exit point until Aigis and Narukami interfere their escape. Ren uses his Third Eye to detect their strength and, to his surprise, discovers them to be a high-powered weapon and a Wild Card, respectively.

"A robot, a joker, and a chad walk into a bar..."

"Are you serious right now?" Maruki panicked.

"We do not wish to engage with you in combat. However," Aigis then activates Orgia Mode, "we will not hesitate to deliver no mercy should you refuse to comply."

"I'll think about it."

"I don't think so. IZANAGI-NO-OKAMI!"

"ATHENA!"

Ren then kicks Maruki to the side as he consults Raoul.

"Raoul?"

"He is with us."

"SATANAEL!"

Behind Narukami is a white omnipotent figure with a gear-like sword. Behind Aigis is a shield-bodied Persona of the goddess of wisdom. And behind Ren is a giant armored angel with black feathered wings and a horned helmet.

Teddie and Fuuka, who intentionally did not join the fight, detects the power level as an all-time high.

"EVERYONE! RETREAT!"

"Persona levels on code RED! I repeat, code Red!"

The groups stop fighting and begin to witness Ren go up against Yu and Aigis. Battling Yu with his knife while taking down Aigis with his pistol, Ren made sure he doesn't get a scratch as Satanael holds onto Izanagi-no-Okami's blades and struggles with Athena's shield. Giving the Phantom Thief an unfair fight, Aigis and Yu eventually overpower Ren, but their moment of glory is short-lived when Kasumi finally finishes her meditation.

"Come forth, Guinevere!"

Guinevere appears above them and unleashes a barrage of Shining Arrows that endlessly pour onto everyone, giving Ren enough time to summon Raoul.

"Phantom Show!"

With Raoul's special spell, the Shadow Operatives suddenly fall asleep. The Phantom Thieves then converge together as they catch their breath.

"Shit.... these people are no joke." Akechi cursed as he panted.

"Give us a warning next time, Angel." Ren rudely told Kasumi.

"Sorry. I just had to harness a lot of energy for me to do that." Kasumi gave an apologetic look before bowing in front of everyone.

"At any rate, looks like we aren't alone as Persona users in this world." Morgana stated the obvious as he rubs his head after Chie kicked him in battle.

"Joker-senpai, where's Dr. Maruki?" Sumire asked cautiously before the sounds of groaning alerted them.

"Here..... huh?"

The Thieves approach behind Maruki as he examines one of the hieroglyphics.

"A coming apocalypse..... an army of Reapers..... Power at the darkest hour..... Endless fog....."

"I'm impressed you read that crap, Maruki."

"What do they mean, Doc?"

Maruki continues to examine the hieroglyphics as his eyes grew wider.

"Amamiya-san, how long do you think this will last?"

"According to Akechi, two weeks."

"Better start panicking... because this apocalypse will begin in ten days."

Sumire turns her head to Maruki as she crouched next to him. "Ten days!? But it's been-"

"Four days." Shiho gave out a sigh. "The doomsday is sooner than we thought."

Maruki continued. "The ruins will pop up again in Hiroshima. I suggest we go there tonight to avoid delays and save the people first before it's too late."

"What about them?" Morgana pointed out to the sleeping Persona users. "They'll likely hunt us down again."

"We can already kill them as they sleep."

"Akechi?"

"What?"

"Don't be a douchebag."

Sumire began to study the faces of the sleeping people. Her expressions went from shock to intrigue to confusion and to seriousness.

"Futaba-san will like it when she realizes Yukari Takeba is a Persona user. Ryuji will probably have his hormones go high when he learns Risette is one as well."

Ren can only chuckle as he remembered how much of a horndog Ryuji is about Rise and how much of a fangirl Futaba is to Yukari.

"Although Ann woulnd't mind asking those two for help if she wants to boost her acting and singing." Shiho jokes as Sumire laughs out loud.

"Already knew about the karaoke incident, huh?"

"Yep. She told me to keep it a secret from you coz you were 'sleeping' while she sang."

Sumire then continues her evaluation.

"I remember seeing this woman. Yukiko Amagi, the owner of the Amagi Inn in Inaba. Then this guy... Ken Amada. He tried to hit on one of my senpais in the gymnastics."

Kasumi then turned to Sumire and gestures her to Junpei.

"And this guy.... he looks like a professional athlete, but he has the face of a pervert."

Maruki finally stands up and began drawing the hieroglyphics. Pretty soon, they hear rattling chains from a distance.

"Damnit, another Reaper."

"Should we leave now, senpai?"

"Wait, we can't just leave them here!"

"Why not? They nearly kicked our asses, so kicking the Reaper's ass will be a breeze for them."

Sumire pouted at Ren's intentions on leaving the Shadow Operatives behind. They did notice, however, that Teddie's nose is twitching.

"Looks like they're waking up."

"We need to leave now, damnit!"

The group then rushes to the exit, but before leaving the hole....

"Satanael! Mind breaking the ground to give us space?"

The fallen angel then destroys the ground between the Shadow Ops and the Phantom Thieves, waking the former group up quickly.

"I would love to stay and talk, but some things aren't worth standing by." Ren smugly grins at them as he hooks his way out.

The Shadow Ops then turn around and see a triad of Reapers approaching.

"Yu-senpai, they're-"

"Too strong? Not when all of us are here." Yu boldly states.

The Shadow Ops, knowing that they failed in capturing the Theives, decide to let loose some steam as they prepare themselves to fight the behemoths.

Chapter Text

 March 21, 20XX

Location: Metaverse - Earth X
Time: 1700 hours

 

"ACTIVATING ORGIA MODE!"

"LET'S SETTLE THIS DOWN!"

Aigis and Labrys activate their battle modes as they charge straight into the first Reaper. Kanji and Akihiko follow them as they unleash Ziodyne from their Personas. The Reaper appears to flinch a bit before recovering. Meanwhile, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Ken, and Koromaru take on the second Reaper as they unleash a flurry of attacks to keep it immobilized. As for the third, Naoto, Yukari, Yu, and Junpei tackle against the third Reaper. However...

"No matter how many times we hit them, they ain't dropping!" Yosuke yelled as he begins to get tired.

"We're gonna need the big guns. Aigis, ready the Nigitama Cannon!" Yu commanded.

As Aigis sets up the cannon propped in her back, Labrys is given a different set of orders.

"Labrys, get everyone out of here and use Beast Weaver on my command."

Everyone follows Labrys as she gets enough distance between her and the battlefield.

"Yukiko, Junpei, unleash the Ring of Fire!"

Yukiko and Junpei then summon their Personas to entrap the Reapers inside while Narukami summons his Persona once more.

"Izanagi-no-Okami! Ready, Aigis?"

"Cannon at 100% full charge! Ready!"

"Fire!"

Aigis unloads the energy from the cannon to weaken the Reapers as Narukami calls upon a powerful spell to grind them to dust.

"I unleash the Myriad of Truths!"

The Japanese god spins its blades and fires an Almighty attack that rocked the world they are currently standing on. As the dust faded, the two rush away before requesting Labrys to do Beast Weaver on the ceiling, causing a cave-in to block any incoming Shadows.

"That was a close one," Ken spoke up as he drank a bottle of water.

"No shit. Any energy used on those things guarantees you a body bag." Yukari grimly commented.

"At least we lived, right Narukami?" Chie called Yu but he ignored her. "Narukami?"

Everyone then watched as Narukami walked forward to a hall of bones and corpses. Fear began to run on everyone's blood as they follow Yu. Naoto and Teddie then examine two bodies that were still rotting.

"These bodies are fresh. It seems we were focused on one place only..."

"Really! I can bear-ly stand the smell!"

Naoto glances at the corpse Teddie slouched at and examined the coat.

"Kirijo Corp. Looks like they reached Tokyo without us knowing."

Akihiko sighed as he leaned forward to examine another dead body. "This is a police officer from Okinawa. The city logo may be corroded, but I recognize those colors."

"Another one. A monk from Nikko."

"Soldier from Nagasaki."

"Don't tell me the Metaverse is feeding on people now to ensure its survival..." Fuuka spoke as she walked closer to Junpei and Yukari.

Everyone stopped moving when Yu came to a halt. His body frove in both shock and terror as he lurches forward to see one the victims faces.

Slowly moving the hair, his eyes widened as he abruptly put the head down. "No way...."

Rise rushed to her boyfriend's aid. "Baby, what's wrong?" As she tried to look at the corpse carefully, she too drops the head down as she gasps loudly.

"Did it reach Inaba already?"

Akihiko was the one who grabbed the head and whiffed off the hair. "Tohru Adachi. Holy shit...."

"Adachi-san's dead!? How?"

"That sonuvabitch is far skilled than all of us and equal to that of Narukami's! How is he dead?"

Yu notices Adachi's hand and retrieves the crumpled paper as he expands it to read what was written.

"What does it say?"

"Curse you and your lambs, Kirijo. That's just it."

Yukari asked, "What did he mean by lambs?"

Akihiko marched forward with a scowl, something which Yu will not ignore.

"You know something, Akihiko?"

"No, but I'm gonna go ask Mitsuru for that."

"Is it regarding the lamb comment I made?"

"JUST SHUT UP, TAKEBA!"

His anger echoed the empty chambers of the dead. Yu then tried to walk on thin ice.

"You know something, and you just want to ask Mitsuru to confirm that."

"Don't cross that line, Narukami."

"You know I wouldn't, Sanada-san. But you also damn well know that a true warrior does not deceive himself and his own kind."

Narukami's words shot Akihiko like he was a dummy for target practice. He was gonna make the mission personal again, but this time he was saved from his vendetta by Narukami.

"Right," he blurted out, "I know something. And I just wish it wasn't true."

He waltz past Narukami as the others continue investigation as he recalls what happened days ago.

 

March 13, 20XX

Location: Somewhere in Tokyo - Earth X
Time: 2100 hours

 

"I assure you, Mitsuru." A man runs his hand around Mitsuru's body as he gives her ass a slap. "What I'm offering is one that cannot be refused nor taken back."

Mitsuru, clad in a small lingerie that betrays her bosom, glares at the man as she looks back at Akihiko, who is currently aiming his gun at the man.

"If you're trying to coax me into surrendering the company for your political interests, I am willing to DIE instead of accepting it if there is no refusal." Mitsuru hissed at the man before earning a slap to the face.

"Listen here, woman. As you all know, you're facing multiple scandals involving your investment stocks, annual budgeting of your R&D team, and that...... incident back in your teenage days. And with the events that happened back in the summer, people are beginning to point out that you may have a hand on those events since you ignored Shirogane's pleas. Evading the Detective Princes is one thing, but evading us is another."

The man looks at Akihiko as he unbuckles his belt. "Make one move and she will be feeling all of it."

"I'd say the same to you. But then again..." Akihiko fires the lamp in the room, giving pitch black. "you can't see shit in the dark."

"Akihiko! Now!"

The man is then tackled to the ground after Mitsuru held him from escaping. Mitsuru pulls out a flashlight and attempts to retrieve the files on the nearby table as she and Akihiko attempt to escape. They are, however, unfortunate in their escape as they get cornered by men in black.

"Trying to run away with your own secrets?" The man gave a wicked smile as he approached Mitsuru. Akihiko steps in front of Mitsuru, but he is then shot by the man and falls to the ground in pain.

"Do not toy with me, you brute." He swiftly kicked Akihiko and pointed his gun to Mitsuru. "Reconsider it."

Given a dilemma between saving Akihiko and saving the files, Mitsuru spoke up. "Fine. But I will still remain as the leader of Kirijo Corp."

"Excellent. Now come back to my room for our time together."

Mitsuru gives an apologetic look as she follows the man back. The men disperse as Akihiko bleeds in the hallway, trying to call medical help. Before he could press dial, a young girl rushes to help him.

"Oh, my God! Sir, are you feeling okay?" The girl politely asked for his current state.

"Just a gunshot wound. Nothing worse than that."

"Stay calm and don't move. I'll try to help you out."

Akihiko then stares at the girl as she pulls out a first aid kit.

"You had training in medicine?"

"No, I bring this with me. Being a gymnast isn't easy since you get prone to injuries."

"Heh... like boxing, too."

As the girl tends to Akihiko's wounds, she lets him rest next to a door and keeps the kit. She then hears screaming sounds from above and investigates it. She finds guards blocking an entire floor as she instead goes back downstairs and takes the back side of the building to find out what's going on. As she successfully reaches the room where the screaming is coming from, she peeps at the window and sees a naked woman in bed and the man buckling his belt.

"That was a wonderful stress reliever, Kirijo-san. I didn't know you had it in you."

"Go to hell!"

"Uh-uh-uh, not so fast." The man walks over and reviews the files as he pulls out a five-page document. "Project Sacrificial Lamb. This sounds interesting...."

"Manahashi..." Mitsuru covered herself as she growled. "Don't you dare read that file."

He continued. "Project Sacrifical Lamb: Discontinued. Project purpose: To put an end to the presence of the Metaverse without the need to venture into uncharted territory. Procedure..."

The young gymnast carefully listened in to the details being dictated by Manahashi. The next words caught her attention, and not in a good way.

"... For the final procedure, a minimum of 3 Persona users and a maximum of 15 are required to create the capable power in sealing the Metaverse and warding off any nearby Shadows once and for all. My, my. You really are a crazy bitch."

"That plan has been discontinued. So I suggest you let me go or-" A gun is now pressed on her forehead.

"You may be retaining your company, but it will now be under my hands to make sure this project will never go away."

Suddenly a burst of gunfire was heard, giving the girl enough time to sneak for better gathering. As she looks back to the room...

"What on Earth!?" Mitsuru looked in shock.

"Who are you and why do you have my face?!" Manahashi yelled as the assailant closes the door behind him.

"Pardon my intrusion, but I'm here to help you. You see..." The mystery man then removed his hat. "I am you, Kenzo Manahashi. But I belong to another world."

Mitsuru then showed a face that says What the fuck all over.

"It seems you know something, dearie."

"What do you mean she knows something?"

"Find the file titled 'Yggdrasil' and tell me what it is."

Manahashi (of Earth X) began to pull out a three-page document with the aforementioned title. Manahashi (of Earth XX) then ogles at Mitsuru, who then shows an expression of concern regarding Akihiko.

"Is something the matter, dear?"

"None of your business."

"Project: Yggdrasil.... Status: Active. This is interesting..."

The gymnast shifted her position but nearly fell from her hiding spot. She's lucky to be a good gymnast.

"... a multidimensional system, huh? Is that why you're here?"

"Indeed, and I will need your help with this. We use the Yggdrasil, we can rule multiple worlds. And when we put the Sacrificial Lamb Project back into production, we will surely get rid of the Phantom Thieves once and for all."

"Wait a second," Manahashi X began to eagerly listen and inquired, "did you say we can use this project to get rid of them?"

"Well, yes. But in my world, they have died through other means since I only knew of the Yggdrasil before I came here."

As Mitsuru was beginning to hear the idea, she is then morally conflicted between sacrificing Japan's recent heroes by hunting them down like wild animals or sacrificing the very last inheritance that her father left as well as the security of Japan as she knows it. She then came to a decision that would shock the spy outside.

"Fine.... you win."

"Kirijo-san?"

"What are you talking about?"

"As president of the Kirijo Corporation, I will grant you our projects in exchange for us hunting down the Phantom Thieves. But under two conditions."

"Alright, speak those conditions. And give the woman her clothes, damn you!"

After Manahashi X offered Mitsuru's clothes, she harshly pulls them off his hands and begins to detail the conditions.

"First, we will be hunting them down on our terms. No backup from your men or the military. Second, spare me and my team from your diabolical plans. If you have names, we'll get you those people. Just leave us out of this, okay?"

Manahashi XX put a hand on his chin and nods in agreement. "You seem to bargain more than your counterpart. Sadly, a lot of you died because you rebeled against your will.... so don't make their mistakes, mmkay?"

Manahashi X then notices eyes on the window. "WE HAVE A SPY!"

"Crap!" The gymnast quickly jumped onto an oscillator as she evaded the gunfire. Smoothly traversing to the ground floor, she began running when she bumps into Akihiko, who recovered already.

"Hey, kid. You alright?"

"Stop that girl!" Manahashi X called Akihiko out.

"What?"

"She has the secrets! She must be stopped!"

Conflicted between his hatred for that guy and the importance of those 'secrets', Akihiko ran after her as traffic began to cruise along the road. With the young gymnast's speed increasing, Akihiko power-rushed onto the traffic as he avoided car after car. Before she could jump out of the road, a speeding car nearly hits her as she loses her balance and slumps onto the curb. Akihiko nearly reaches her but his wound opens up again, causing him to crouch in pain as a bus is about to hit him. He is saved by the gymnast, who is instead hit by bus after the vehicle was forced to break. Suffering a head trauma, the gymnast lays unconscious next to Akihiko. Passersby began to look at what happened, and Akihiko asks the bus driver to bring the unconscious girl to a nearby hospital.

"But what about you?", the driver asked after noticing his wound, "You need help as well."

"Forget about me," Akihiko coughed. "She needs help more than I do, at this rate."

He places the girl down on the backseats and looks at her necklace. Violet. He then exits the bus and watches as the girl who helped him twice is going to be okay. He then returned to the building as he is greeted by Mitsuru.

"Where's the spy?" she dangerously asked.

"Gone. She escaped past the main highway." He lied.

Mitsuru sighed in disappointment. "We have new orders from Manahashi."

Akihiko's fist clenched. "Where's that son of a bitch?"

"He left with the projects. He will spare us on one condition."

"Which is?"

"We hunt down the Phantom Thieves and use their power to seal the Metaverse forever."

Akihiko was appalled by Mitsuru's dictation of the mission. "Are you fucking serious?!"

"You seem angry about it."

"After all that blackmail... after he forced you to do unpleasant things.... you are gonna go for his condition on taking down the new heroes of Japan?"

"They are not heroes, Akihiko. They are just children trying to play heroes."

"Kinda like us, remember?"

Mitsuru couldn't respond to his rebuttal, knowing that she has become a hypocrite of their past adventures.

"What is really the plan, Mitsuru? Save the country.... or save yourself?"

Silence between them.

"I know you too much. You have a backup plan on this. So make sure you know what you're doing."

"I'll review the surveillance cameras and identify our spy. Then I'll ask Shirogane to investigate it."

Akihiko can only shake his head as he leaves her alone.

 

March 21, 20XX

Location: Oshiwaga District

Time: 1930

 

The Shadow Operatives finally reach the surface and call it a day to re-energize and restrategize. As he was about to head back to the hotel, Yu notices Akihiko walking to a playground.

"Akihiko-san?" Yu questioned him softly after their argument earlier

"Don't mind me. I just need to clear some stuff off my head." Akihiko waved him off, but Yu's next question stunned him.

"Is it about Yoshizawa? I noticed you held back against her earlier."

Gritting his teeth, Akihiko then sighed in admission. "Yeah. I did."

"Would you mind talking about it?"

Akihiko and Yu then walk to a swing set and sit on the empty swings. Akihiko takes a deep breath and begins talking.

"This mission... Although it is our goal to nab the Phantom Thieves, I just don't like this mission at all. We're talking about kidnapping a bunch of teenagers who just saved Japan twice!"

"I get how you feel, Akihiko-san. I guess your moral compass is trying to find the right path yet." Yu related to him as he feels the same.

"Sumire Yoshizawa.... She actually saved me twice." Akihiko then showed a downcast expression which surprised Yu.

"Saved you? When?"

"It happened during the night Mitsuru and Manahashi made the agreement. I was used as an example on how menacing that bastard is, and as I lay bleeding she saw me and patched me up. Though, I wouldn't say she's an expert in first aid."

"What made you say that?"

Akihiko pulls out a gold ribbon still containing his blood. "She used this as a replacement for the missing gauze wrap. Resourceful, huh?"

"She is. But when was the second time?"

"After Manahashi told me to chase her, she managed to outrun me after my wound opened. Rather than let me get run over, she jumped in front and pushed me off before getting hit. I placed her on a bus to reach a hospital as she was unconscious."

Yu nods in approval and gives out a conclusion. "So you owe her a life debt."

"You can say that."

The duo then notice a certain redhead walking with groceries. Akihiko stands up as Yu pulls his arm.

"What are you doing?"

"We can't risk ourselves."

"At least leave this to me?"

Yu lets him go as Akihiko carefully approaches Sumire, who dropped her phone.

"Come on, don't glitch on me..."

"Excuse me, Yoshizawa-san?"

Sumire turns around and immediately goes on a defensive stance.

"What do you want? And how did you find me?"

"Was sitting with a friend."

"And the others? You gonna go ambush me now?" she squinted her glare closely on him.

"No. Actually, I want to return this to you." he pulls out the golden ribbon and puts it on her arm.

Sumire took the time to remember and realize what is  happening.

"You?"

"I got you on that bus after you saved my life. Yeah, you're welcome."

"But why are you still going after me?"

"I know you snooped on Mitsuru and Manahashi. But I won't snitch on you to my team, so consider this a blessing."

Simire begins to widen her eyes to express hsr bewilderment.

"I guess that's why you held back earlier."

Wincing at her statement, he nodded.

"Yeah. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is thank you for saving me."

Sumire bowed and gave him a smile. "I had to make sure you get back to your family safe." She looked down at the groceries and muttered for Akihiko to hear. "It would be tragic if the people you love learn that you died so suddenly."

Akihiko examined her and began to feel pity. On top of that, she saved him to make sure he goes home to a family he lost already. To avoid making things awkward, he extends his hand.

"I should feel more grateful then. But I still apologize for suddenly putting you through hell."

Sumire then shook his hand before her phone dropped again. Akihiko caught it on time though.

"Wow, nice reflexes!"

"You're quite clumsy for a gymnast, you know that?"

Both of them laughed before Sumire bowed in front of him.

"Thank you for talking to me like a normal person, Sir."

"No formalities. Call me Akihiko."

"Mhmm."

As she turned to leave, she looked at him and Yu, who watched the exchange with a smile, and gave him a smug smirk.

"The next time we see each other and fight, don't hold back. I feel bad for the woman who adores those muscles if they aren't put to good use."

Yu laughed while Akihiko shook his head as she went along.

"Felt like a chip on my shoulder is gone."

"I know that feeling. Let's go get something to eat."

Maybe Yu was right: a true warrior does not deceive himself and his kind. And for him, Sumire is a one-of-a-kind warrior.

Chapter Text

March 22, 20XX

Location: Amamiya residence
Time: 0150 hours

 

As the entire Amamiya household is sleeping, Sumire remains awake and slowly wriggles out of her boyfriend's sweet embrace. Her hand began to sweat as he runs her hand on her head. She feels a small cut that was stitched as she then remembered what happened with her encounter with Akihiko earlier. Saving his life from getting hit by a bus somewhat similar to Kasumi's sacrifice, but unlike Kasumi... Sumire was assisted immediately by Akihiko. Her thoughts began to echo with depressive memories as she heads downstairs to drink a glass of water. She is surprised that someone else is awake.

"Can't sleep?" Sumire looked at Morgana.

"No." He answered rudely.

"What's wrong?"

"Those Persona users from earlier....." Morgana began processing. "..... Not all of them were fighting at their fullest. Something's off."

"I managed to cross paths with one of them. I knew he held back, and I remember why." Sumire informed Morgana as she showed him the bloodied ribbon.

"What is this?" Morgana crossed his eyes as he tried to make sure he isn't thinking of something bad.

"It's the ribbon I used after I judged a small contest of aspiring gymnasts. As I was leaving," Sumire began to tell Morgana of what happened between her and Akihiko. However, she omitted the part where she overheard about Projects Sacrificial Lamb and Yggdrasil. Morgana's expression went from serious to bright as he was proud of Sumire's actions.

"Although you nearly ended up like Kasumi, your actions did not hinder that Akihiko guy from returning the favor." Despite how insensitive Morgana started talking, Sumire can nod as she knew it wasn't intentional. "You possess so much bravery now, Sumire. You really did grow."

"Thanks, Morgana-senpai. I just hope they would realize what they're doing is wrong. Like what he and the other guy did."

Morgana then hopped onto the couch and reviewed the plan that was laid out there.

"Hours from now, we will be facing another Shadow attack upon arriving in Hiroshima. We need to proceed with extreme caution since we got them on our tails, too. Unless something happens, we are only to focus ourselves and ourselves only."

Sumire yawns as she nods her head. Morgana took this as a cue to put her back to sleep. Sumire was smarter, though.

"Hey-"

"Not another word about sleep, Morgana."

"Shoot. You knew."

"I slept with Ren in the attic a few times for me to hear that from you."

"Wait, so Futaba was right?"

Sumire began to scrunch her face as Morgana was unaware of what he's gonna follow it up with.

"About what?"

"You and Ren go..... you know...."

"N-NO! We did not d-d-do that nor will we ever do so, M-Morgana!" She became so embarassed that her voice woke Ren up with an irritated tone.

"Can you guys keep it down? We're sleeping."

"Sorry, Senpai!"

"So I guess Futaba was just messing around then."

"Why would you listen to her?? You and I both know that I love Ren with the best intentions, and you bugging us to sleep as you leave would make you smart enough to know that."

Morgana then looked down in shame. Yes, he only bugged the couple THRICE (twice in LeBlanc) to sleep and all, but he should have been more careful with his assumptions.

"Sorry."

Sumire sighed. "I'm going ahead. Sleep well, Morgana-senpai."

Morgana goes out of the house to look at the stars. He remembered the moment where he became a small helicopter that can try to reach the stars, but if things were different he would have been having fun with the power.

"If only the Velvet Room could help us...."

Truth be told, Morgana was hoping Lavenza or Igor could at least help them. But they haven't showed up since the incident in Nayami High, and their lack of presence in the Chinmoku Pit adds more worry to it. He then returns inside to sleep. Meanwhile...

 

Location: Kinikyo Inn
Time: 0210 hours

 

Kasumi sleeps alone in her futon as she dreams about the last time she and Akira shared a bed. Though it was a bit 'hot' for her thoughts, she couldn't help but remember the warm feeling he gave her as they slept. Watching over Kasumi is Maruki, who has been studying the hieroglyphics he saw earlier. He then began to add things up as he wrote down in a piece of paper.

"Dark Hour phenomenon in Iwatodai.... that was 10 years ago. Kirijo Corporations were responsible for detaining the Shadows that wander around the city killing people like they're the Angels of Death. Then there's the Inaba Mist Incident dated two years after that. Shadows kill their masters if they are not accepted in the midst of the Midnight Channel timeline...."

He drinks his cup of coffee as he looks at the phone's wallpaper. Rumi..... How I miss you everyday.

".... Shadows have been worshiped by a cult in Iwatodai called Strega.... then Tohru Adachi was responsible for the Inaba murders associated with the mist. Then five years later, The Phantom Thieves craze and the merging of the Metaverse..... Something's missing."

Maruki looks at his watch as he sneaks carefully to retrieve Akira's notebook. He examines it further as he takes a look at one particular information in the notebook.

"Takuto Maruki has granted the wishes of my team and wiped their memory of me or their time as Phantom Thieves for nearly a year. But now, we got the sonuvabitch as Akechi and I will stop him before it's too late. If I have to do this alone, it's freedom or die trying."

Maruki then looks at Kasumi as he muttered, "I can't imagine how far I have gone to put you all in both pain and pleasure in your world, Kasumi."

He then steps outside the room and looks at the empty hallways of the inn. He decides to take a stroll to clear his thoughts out. He knows this is a death wish for him since he is now Persona-less, but if it means making it up for everything then so be it. He whips out his phone and searches for the Iwatodai and Inaba incidents, all with familiar faces in the photographs used in the articles.

"Kirijo-san..." he angrily whispered, "What are you trying to do again?"

After finding out more on the incidents, he returns to the room and examines the hieroglyphics more as he then figured out what the final hieroglyphic they collected says.

"... Apocalypse and Ruin. One wish to save one world and destroy another. If this is the Sacrificial Lamb project, then we have no match for them." He gasped. He finishes up his study and decides to share it with the group later during the trip.

 

Time: 0745 hours

 

Kasumi wakes up and stretches her body to stay awake. She finds Maruki sleeping on the floor and drags him to the futon. Afterwards, she takes a look at Maruki's notes and observes the last note regarding the wish of fate.

"One wish to save one world and destroy the other." She notices the notebook next to his coffee cup and returns it to her bag. She leaves her room and tries to go along with a jogging routine. She then takes a break in the nearby supermarket and purchases a water bottle. Before she could drink her water, she sees a dog walking towards with its tail wagging. Kasumi recognizes him and did not hesitate to give him water.

"Thirsty now, Koromaru? I know you're not like the one in my world, but that doesn't mean I'll treat you badly here."

"Woof!"

Kasumi then opens up her tracksuit to feel the cold breeze. "That's better." She then sits next to Koromaru and tries to converse with him.

"Where is your owner?"

"Woof!"

"Sleeping?"

"Woof woof!"

"Will people call me crazy for talking to you?"

Koromaru whines at her statement. Kasumi just chuckles and plays with him for a short while until Koromaru leaves. Kasumi then began to think of something that would have been done in her world.

"I wonder if I should've asked Dad for a puppy back then....." Her face went downcast. "No point for it now."

She returns to the inn to see Maruki already with their bags and checking out.

"Are we going now?"

"Yeah. Ren will pick us up outside."

Ren has a car? Akira told me he didn't have one in his hometown. Kasumi thought. But then again, this IS an alternate timeline.

Ren then arrives with the RV he used with the Phantom Thieves in their summer escapade. On board are Shiho, Sumire, Morgana, and Akechi.

"Welcome to the Morgana Transport Services where you finally hear music and not weird cat purring." Ren jokingly greeted the two.

"That wasn't funny, you know!" Morgana exclaimed as he felt offended.

"That's what you get for telling us to sleep and trusting Futaba's horseshit." Ren clapped back at the cat.

Maruki then began to ask what they are talking about, only to be answered with glares. Akechi, however, did not help the two as he made a deduction.

"Considering that Futaba is involved in this report of shenanigans, I assume she and the cat accuse you of already doing intercourse?"

"HOW THE HELL DO YOU HAVE THE BALLS TO SAY STUFF LIKE THAT?!" Ren angrily yelled at Akechi as he avoided getting any ideas.

"Akechi-san, you're the worst friend to listen to. Morgana-senpai, you and Futaba cannot be trusted anymore." Sumire shook her head as she chided the two.

"So you two didn't get freaky yet? Odd." Shiho lets out a playful smirk to see how far the conversation can go.

"Can we not talk about that? Please?" Sumire began blushing furiously as she avoided Ren's eyes.

"Have some decency, guys."

Shiho then turned to ask Kasumi, but pouts when she refused to answer. Akechi was about to say something, but Kasumi punches his ribs to shut him up. The group arrives in Taurus and eat their breakfast there. They meet up with Daisuke and Kana, who happened to be eating there as well.

"Well, well. If it isn't the two idiots." Akechi harshly gave them a welcome.

"You're beginning to piss me off, dude." Daisuke coldly shrugged him off.'

"Enough, guys. Akechi, keep your mouth shut."

"Was it something I said?" He smugly grinned as Ren finally felt his cheeks heat up.

"Nevermind."

"Did you guys ask him if he got laid?" Kana nonchalantly spoke. Everyone nodded.

"Well, he managed to tell me he was saving all his power until Sumire heads for college."

"Kana, you moron! Did you forget who you're talking to?!"

Kana turns back and sees Sumire (now super red after hearing Kana), Shiho (also super red), Maruki (who cleared his throat to try to talk to Ren later), and Morgana (who hangs his head and whistles as he passed by). Whoops.

Ren looked at Sumire and asked her if she heard Kana. She gave a slow nod as he hissed under his breath.

"I'm sorry, you had to hear that. It's not what you think it is..." Ren tried to reason out.

"It's okay, Senpai." Sumire gave a weak smile as she avoided his eyes again. "I'll go for it when you're ready."

"And suddenly, you two start planning. Can you give your hormones a break until you both are mature enough?" Akechi is really having fun with this.

"Shut up, dickwad."

"Please shut up, Crow."

Both surrendered and stayed quiet even as they eat. Meanwhile, Kasumi guards the RV and fiddles with one of her bullets as she preferred to have her food taken out. Using a small earpiece the Thieves used back in the day, she can only laugh as the conversation took place.

"It won't be easy, if they wanna know that."

She then takes a look at the RV as she looked at the things that were kept in there. Swimsuits, kimonos, and even a part of their Thieves attire seemed to attract her attention as she rummaged through the closets.

"Colorful ones must be Ann-senpai's..... dark ones suit Makoto-senpai.... Huh. Now that I mention it, I never saw them in swimsuits."

She then glances down to a photo frame of the Phantom Thieves having fun. Ann was glamorous as ever, Ryuji was still the resident goofball, Yusuke and Makoto try to reach out to be seen on the camera, Haru and Morgana managed to squeeze themselves into the picture, and Ren.... Shit, how do I even start when he is Akira's equally dashing counterpart? She was too engrossed at the picture as Shiho snuck up on her.

"Well, I didn't know they had swimsuits and kimonos in here."

Kasumi squeaked. "Shiho, don't startle me like that!"

"Sorry. Couldn't help it."

"How are Ren and Sumire?"

"Both are mad at Futaba for going too far in the teasing." Shiho claimed as she coughed.

"Well, one of these days they are gonna do it."

Shiho puts on her thinking hat to try to analyze her statement until she dropped her jaw.

"You and Akira already done it... didn't you?"

"Won't explain the details."

"R-Right." Shiho began blushing as she shook her head to remove dirty thoughts. Kasumi laughs at her and gives her the Thieves' group photo.

"I'm sad that neither Akechi nor I were in the picture."

Shiho looked at her with a concerned look. "From what I heard, Sumire was in Malaysia competing for the Asian Division title. She managed to win, and it landed her a spot to vie for the Olympics."

"And Akechi?"

"He was rumored to be dead after the Shido incident. Hell, we were surprised when he came out of nowhere after we survived the school attack."

Shiho then looks at the photograph and opens her eyes wide.

"Damn, Ann. Way to let your hair down and try to question my sexuality."

Both of them laughed as the rest return to the RV.

"Futaba-san seems to be apologizing a lot." Sumire asked her boyfriend after he placed his phone on his pocket.

"That's what she gets for putting out a stupid rumor about us." Ren answered as he looked at Morgana. "No more bugging us to sleep against our will. Understood?"

"Yeah. Understood." Morgana replied with a dejected tone.

Maruki sighed. "Well, at least you two lifted off a few personal secrets. And as much as I admire the idea that you two will go very intimate later on, at least be quiet about it."

The phone rang as Ren and Sumire check the chat while Akechi began starting up the RV.

 

"Joker: Futaba, you're in big trouble.

Oracle: What kind of trouble?

Joker: THE RUMOR kind of trouble.

Oracle: Damnit, Mona! Can't you keep that big mouth of yours shut for once?

Violet: He spoke up after I told him that his signature line was beginning to get annoying for my ears. Even after he does that to ruin our Valentine's and White Day evenings.

Panther: Wait, Morgana did that? Doesn't that go off about his ever-so-repetitive 'gentleman' thing?

Violet: It obviously is. And to think he'd share info on us to Futaba.

Queen: Futaba, we are going to have a one-on-one conversation about privacy. Haru, you do the lecture as well to Morgana.

Noir: With pleasure. >:)

Joker: Morgana says he's doomed.

Fox: Are we talking about Ren and Sumire already doing what Futaba calls 'the deed'?

Joker:....

Violet:....

Fox: Is there something wrong?

Queen: Did I say one-on-one conversation about privacy? I should add 'rumor-making' to the talk as well.

Skull: What just happened here?

Oracle: Shut up, Skull."

 

"She really needs to socialize normally. All that Internet has corrupted her already."

"Isn't that what's fun about her though?"

The couple can't help but laugh it off instead as Akechi groaned at their joyous sound. Maruki made a mental note to talk to the two more about their relationship while Shiho watches a Western cartoon on her phone. Kasumi watched them carefully as she ate her food, thinking that she may very well get used to this world. Maruki then spoke up as he pulled out his phone.

"Okay, so we'll be heading for Hiroshima. A place that had already experienced annihilation back in World War 2. And according to a poll, Hiroshima is the city that least adores the Phantom Thieves."

Everyone winced at those words. Wow, they aren't gonna be given a warm welcome in Hiroshima.

"So at this point, we're just gonna have to fight them like regular civilians." Shiho stated which earned a bark from Akechi.

"If we will fight them like civilians, we would not be in our Metaverse outfits if that were the case. But then again, we ARE fighting Shadows."

As much as anyone would want to argue, Akechi was right: with the Metaverse appearing, there is no way they can fight without transforming into the Phantom Thieves. Maruki then looks at the group and inquires Ren.

"Amamiya-san, how is it that you managed to gather a team like this already? This feels different compared to how you had Takamaki-san and the others as your teammates."

Ren gave a smile and answered, "Well, it's just a part of me that attracts certain people. I'm nothing special, Doc."

Akechi scoffs at his humility. "Well, if you put it that way.... I'm nothing special as well. I may be a psychopathic and admirable detective, but it's not like I give a shit about that."

Morgana includes his insights. "I agree. I'm not special either, since I get undermined as a cat and all."

"That's beyond nothing special. You seem generic already before your ego had the best of you, cat."

"You're no better than Ryuji, you shaggy-hair clown."

"I wouldn't mind teaming up with Sakamoto to kick your ass."

"Bring it on, then!"

As the group watch at Akechi and Morgana bicker with amused faces, it was Shiho's turn to talk. "I'm not special as well. I only awakened to my Persona just days ago, and even though I act like I know how to be a Phantom Thief, I'm nothing more than just an amateur."

Sumire followed. "You already know I'm not special as well, Doctor Maruki. And I don't need to explain it further since I talked to you about it a lot."

Kasumi observed how honest they were to each other and decided to make her say as well. "Well, I'm in no place to talk about how special I am or how special you are. In the end, we are all special for a reason."

Ren nodded his head as he was impressed by Kasumi's words. Sumire gave her a hug while Shiho patted her in the back.

"Indeed, you all are. I'm proud to finally know how the Phantom Thieves really feel."

"Why did you have to make everything dramatic?"

Everyone began to look confused as they heard someone talking.

"Did you hear something?" Maruki started.

"I heard someone talking. Mona, was that you?" Shiho asked Morgana.

"Hell no! My voice is better compared to what we heard."

"You have no honor as my friend anymore, Mona. You broke my heart."

Ren then smirked and decided to shout in the RV as he tried to trace the voice.

"I didn't know you bugged the RV, Futaba."

"I got bored, okay? I decided to reactivate the bugs in the van and I heard how you all were talking about how special you all were."

"Like what Kasumi said, we are all special for a reason despite our humility."

Silence took in before Futaba responded cautiously.

"You mean Sumire, right?"

"Uh, Senpai?" Sumire looked at Ren with a fearful expression. "We didn't tell them about Kasumi."

Shit. Ren wasn't supposed to let the others know about their new member. Wait, scratch that - TWO new members.

"Oh, yeah. Who's the other new member? You trying to go for the harem route already?"

"Piss off, Futaba. You aren't forgiven just yet."

"I know, I know! Please don't confiscate all my CDs of Phoenix Ranger Neo Featherman X...."

Sumire then added herself to the conversation. "As long as you keep whatever we said in this RV private. No nonsense to make us look bad. Understood?"

"Yes, Mrs. Amamiya."

"F-F-Futaba! I m-mean it." Sumire blushed hard.

"Alright, Violet. I'll shut up about all this."

Futaba then turns off the bugs, which everyone sighed afterwards. Until she spoke up again.

"Did I just hear Akechi and Doctor Maruki earlier?"

Maruki sighed and smiled awkwardly. "You're right, Amamiya-san. I guess there is nothing special about the Phantom Thieves or its members."

"I object, Doc! Joker has a specialty in gaining allies through his heart of justice, Violet is special with her way staying humble and considerate between two personalities, Mona knows the Metaverse despite him coughing furballs, I know how to hack into government servers and-"

"Wait a second, did you just say you can hack into government servers?" Sumire opened her ears.

"Yeah, whydja ask? I thought I told you this in school."

"You didn't."

"Oh."

"Can you try to pinpoint Kirijo Corporation's last location?"

Everyone was impressed at how Sumire thought of using Futaba's skills to find the Kirijos.

"One moment, please."

"Not bad, Yoshizawa-san. Even I didn't think of that." Akechi mused as he looked at Sumire with the rearview mirror.

"Even my mobile data couldn't help me." Shiho added with a frown while keeping her eyes open.

"Impressive as always." Ren kissed her cheek as her grew more embarrassed at every compliment she was given.

"I didn't know my own 'twin' was intelligent enough to take advantage of skills." Kasumi finished off the four-hit combo.

"Okay, so their last known location is 50 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. But there is a headliner in Hiroshima about Mitsuru Kirijo having a meeting with Mayor Satoshi Takasi alongside a man named Kenzo Manahashi."

Sumire held her head as the sharp pain returned. Kasumi, on the other hand, clenched her fist.

"Sumi, you okay?" Ren then sees the cut on her head. "Sumire, when did you get that cut?"

"Huh? You didn't hear the news on Sumire saving some detective from getting run over?"

Darn it, Futaba-san. Sumire hissed in her head as she tried to explain.

"It happened after I judged the little ones in their practice. I helped this man out after he got shot, then I stuck around to do some investigating."

"What did you see?" Kasumi looked at her seriously.

"The woman, Mitsuru Kirijo.... and two Kenzo Manahashis."

"TWO? What does that mean?" Futaba starts searching his records. "His birth certificate says he has no twin brother or anything."

"Turn your bugs off, Futaba. We want to hear the story without you interrupting."

Futaba turns the bugs off as Sumire was given the go signal.

"I wasn't joking. I saw one Kenzo Manahashi... then another one. But older in appearance."

"What did you get in this conversation?" Ren tried to be strict in his tone, but he had to reconsider it since this is about their target/s.

"Something about a Project Sacrificial Lamb and hunting down 3 to 15 Persona users to-"

"Seal the Metaverse." Kasumi interrupted her and received a serious nod from her 'twin'.

"Yeah. And Mitsuru made the decision of saving her company by allowing her team to capture us for the Manahashis."

Kasumi's face turned into one with rage, and she wasn't spared by Shiho or Ren as they try to calm her down.

"Kasumi-chan, we get it. Your Manahashi must've met up with our Manahashi. But please don't let your vendetta get you." Shiho warned Kasumi with a stern tone.

"Who knows how different things are here compared to there.... Best if we stay on our toes and act without impulse." Ren convinced her further.

"Cut to the chase on how you had the cut."

Sumire gulped. "So it turns out the man I helped was Akihiko Sanada, one of the Persona users after us. His wound opened up when our chase happened on the main road. And I had to save him from getting hit by that bus."

"BUS!?" Ren and Kasumi yelled in unison as Sumire covered her face.

"I didn't mean to jump on the road and get hit by it. It's just.... it... I can't stand to let someone die again because of me." Sumire began to cry as she remembered how her fate was nearly similar to her Kasumi. "I-I-I know it was reckless and dangerous, but at least I'm still here thanks to him."

Ren hugged Sumire as he comforted her. Shiho calmed down as well while Kasumi covered her face in stress. Maruki then took a look at Sumire's cut and said that her injury was nearly as bad as Kasumi's, but with Akihiko's quick action she was spared of that fate.

"In short, we have at least one person who knows hunting us down is a bad idea." Morgana summarized it.

"Even though Sanada-san will still go after us, he knows he can't stop us."

"What made you say that, sis?"

"We're all special at the end of the day. He would rather allow us to do our job than be Kirijo's straw dolls."

Everyone nodded in Kasumi's statement as Ren looked at their path.

"Let's show them how special we are, then. We can do this the easy way.... or the Phantom Thief way." he proclaimed with a grin that everyone loves.

Chapter Text

March 21, 20XX

Location: LeBlanc Cafe, Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo - Earth X
Time: 0830 hours

 

"Alright. Violet saying there are two Kenzo Manahashis sounds ultimately far-fetched." Futaba muttered as she stared at her curry. Sojiro snaps her out of the trance and pats her head to catch her attention.

"You seem out of it today."

"Sorry, Sojiro. I just accidentally overheard Ren in the RV and-"

Sojiro gave an exasperated look as he groaned from hearing Futaba's eavesdropping habit.

"Futaba, we talked about this. You can't just hear on other people talking."

Futaba looked at him apologetically and then looked at her food again.

"I know. After Ren scolded me, I guess I should stop."

"What did he scold you for?" Sojiro inquired.

"That I kinda messed around with him and Sumire for sleeping together during Valentine's and White Day last year."

"You know, those two haven't done anything just yet."

"How would you know?" Futaba began to shoot him a look that could spell disaster to her ears.

"Well, if they did.... the cafe would reek of their scent for the customers to keep asking me for." Sojiro gave off a grin which earned a fake vomit from Futaba.

"You didn't had to tell me how THAT smells!" Futaba exclaimed as she tried to eat her curry to avoid the thought.

"Well, you shouldn't give off rumors like that. That's how Ren got here in the first place, remember?" Sojiro then lectured Futaba to make sure she understood what he meant. She nodded in defeat as the sound of the bell alerted the two.

"Good morning, Sakura-san! Hi, Futaba!"

"Ann?! You're here a bit earlier than scheduled."

The blonde model, who managed to get sexier than she last looked, walked to the counter and asked for a nice Cuban brew. Sojiro then tells her that her drink will come soon.

"I miss this place. Although the cafes in New York are great, it can't beat LeBlanc when it comes to atmosphere and its genuine taste." Ann cheerfully spoke, which made Sojiro smile.

"Glad you still loved the place. What brings you here in Tokyo though?"

"Well, it's spring break in America. So I have at least a week here in Tokyo before going back." She hugged Futaba before realizing she was eating her curry.

"Ch-Choking! N-not breathing through these boobs!" Futaba gagged.

"Shut up! They haven't grown bigger..." Ann paused for a second. "...right?"

"Ask Ren or Ryuji or even Inari. I haven't even grown a pair yet."

The girls then heard Sojiro cough in the cooking area as he wasn't pleased with what he heard. He then served Ann's coffee.

"Thanks for the drink!" she showed her gratitude.

"On the house, Ann-chan."

"So, Futaba..." she turned to the orange-haired girl. "How's Ren doing?"

"I'll explain later. We'll use Ren's old laptop and call the others from there." Futaba whispered.

"But I'm already here though. The reason why we do video calls was because I wasn't around here." Ann clarified.

"Right. Forgot about that."

As soon as they finished their meals and drinks, the girls then went up the attic and called the others. While waiting for them, Ann tried to talk to Futaba about what she said regarding the couple.

"For the record, Futaba..... You only spread that rumor as a joke, right?" Ann's tone was more intimidating than Makoto's for Futaba's ears.

"Y-yeah. Sorry I made all of you believe it." Futaba looked down with a sad face. "I bet Mona is getting kicked like a bucket as we speak."

"How was Sumire-chan there with them though? Wasn't she in Tokyo days ago?"

"How would I know? I couldn't trace her phone ever since March 13."

Ann then turned her head to see two smiling ladies who hugged her.

"It's good to see you, Ann." Makoto, now wearing glasses, greeted her warmly.

"You look more fabulous every time we meet, Ann-chan!" Haru cheerfully complimented her, which Ann blushed afterwards.

"You don't need to tell me that, Haru."

The boys followed, and the greetings were quite different.

"DAAAAAAAMN, Ann! You're looking hotter than ever. New York made ya get that slim, huh?" Ryuji earned a slap to the face.

"You idiot! Is that how you greet an old friend who missed you all like hell?!" Ann chided the blonde boy as Yusuke butted in.

"Indeed, Ryuji. You have to learn how to be gentle with women in both actions and words."

"Ah, shuddup!"

Makoto then began to assume her Queen identity. "If you are all done, we can begin our meeting?"

"Yes, Queen." All three responded in fear.

"Now, Futaba. Shall we begin?"

"Okay, so I turned the bugs in the RV we used last summer. And I managed to pick these up from them..."

Futaba then plays the recordings as each member tried to identify the voices.

"Amamiya-san, how is it that you managed to gather a team like this already? This feels different compared to how you had Takamaki-san and the others as your teammates."

"It's Doctor Maruki." Yusuke spoke. "What is he doing there?"

"Well, it's just a part of me that attracts certain people. I'm nothing special, Doc."

"Ren." Ann quietly spoke. "What are you up to this time?"

"Well, if you put it that way.... I'm nothing special as well. I may be a psychopathic and admirable detective, but it's not like I give a shit about that."

"AKECHI??" Makoto was appalled at the sound of Akechi's voice. "He's alive!?"

"I dunno how or why either, Makoto." Futaba confessed.

"I agree. I'm not special either, since I get undermined as a cat and all." 

"I dunno if I should be happy or disappointed by how Mona-chan said that." Haru quoted.

"That's beyond nothing special. You seem generic already before your ego had the best of you, cat."

"You're no better than Ryuji, you shaggy-hair clown."

"I wouldn't mind teaming up with Sakamoto to kick your ass."

"Bring it on, then!"

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wouldn't mind teaming up with that asshole to kick the cat." Ryuji proudly said that as the girls looked at him angrily.

The next voice gave Ann a look that showed concern and confusion.

 "I'm not special as well. I only awakened to my Persona just days ago, and even though I act like I know how to be a Phantom Thief, I'm nothing more than just an amateur."

"Shiho?"

"Awakened to her Persona?"

"Wait..." Ann remembered her teasing back in their video chat the days before yesterday. "No fucking way!" She is surely gonna hog Shiho for info when she gets a hold of her.

"You already know I'm not special as well, Doctor Maruki. And I don't need to explain it further since I talked to you about it a lot."

"Aw, Sumire-chan..." Haru said sadly.

"To think that she would still remember that after all this time..." Yusuke added. However...

"Well, I'm in no place to talk about how special I am or how special you are. In the end, we are all special for a reason."

"Indeed, you all are. I'm proud to finally know how the Phantom Thieves really feel."

"That voice before Maruki's..... wasn't that Sumire's as well?"

"I know. But Ren said Kasumi.... then I heard Sumire whisper to Ren about it."

Everyone then looked at the recorder as they analyze what was going on there. Makoto then made her deduction.

"Okay, so we have a lot of things that happened here. First, the conversation itself."

"They kept rambling about how they aren't special and stuff. Is something wrong?" Ann asked.

"From the sounds of it, having Maruki around is either a good thing or a bad thing for Sumire and the 'Kasumi' we just heard." Ryuji blurted out.

"I don't like where this is going either. Do you wanna hear more?"

"Shiho saying she's a Phantom Thief may either be a joke or a truth. But I'll hold on that concern for another time." Ann showed a determined expression as she needs to know more on their mission than her friend's secret.

"Why did you have to make everything dramatic?"

"Did you hear something?"

"I heard someone talking. Mona, was that you?"

"Hell no! My voice is better compared to what we heard."

"Self-conceited as always." Makoto felt disappointed at Morgana.

"You have no honor as my friend anymore, Mona. You broke my heart."

"I didn't know you bugged the RV, Futaba."

"I got bored, okay? I decided to reactivate the bugs in the van and I heard how you all were talking about how special you all were."

"Right..... the privacy conversation. Thank you for reminding me, Futaba." Dark red irises then began to make Futaba want to pick up a crucifix and scare away Makoto's inner demon.

"Like what Kasumi said, we are all special for a reason despite our humility."

"You mean Sumire, right?"

"Uh, Senpai? We didn't tell them about Kasumi."

"Is she referring to her dead twin? Why is she suddenly alive or something?" Ryuji asked dumbly.

"Oh, yeah. Who's the other new member? You trying to go for the harem route already?"

"Not funny about Shiho, Futaba." Ann's turn to give her hell through the eyes.

"Piss off, Futaba. You aren't forgiven just yet."

"I know, I know! Please don't confiscate all my CDs of Phoenix Ranger Neo Featherman X...."

"As long as you keep whatever we said in this RV private. No nonsense to make us look bad. Understood?"

"Yes, Mrs. Amamiya."

"F-F-Futaba! I m-mean it."

"Alright, Violet. I'll shut up about all this."

"Forgive me, Violet. I can't help it....."

"Did I just hear Akechi and Doctor Maruki earlier?"

"You're right, Amamiya-san. I guess there is nothing special about the Phantom Thieves or its members."

"I object, Doc! Joker has a specialty in gaining allies through his heart of justice, Violet is special with her way staying humble and considerate between two personalities, Mona knows the Metaverse despite him coughing furballs, I know how to hack into government servers and-"

"Wait a second, did you just say you can hack into government servers?" 

"Yeah, whydja ask? I thought I told you this in school."

"You didn't."

"Oh."

"Can you try to pinpoint Kirijo Corporation's last location?"

"One moment, please."

"What in the f-" Makoto was close to cursing as she was shocked at what she heard. "She inquired you about looking for Kirijo Corporations?"

"Didn't expect it either. But yeah." Futaba shrugged.

"Not bad, Yoshizawa-san. Even I didn't think of that."

"Even my mobile data couldn't help me."

"Impressive as always."

"I didn't know my own 'twin' was intelligent enough to take advantage of skills."

"That 'twin' tone sounded off." Haru noticed the conversation's tone change.

"Either she was saying it playfully or not, we can't be sure if this is the Kasumi Yoshizawa who died."

"Okay, so their last known location is 50 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. But there is a headliner in Hiroshima about Mitsuru Kirijo having a meeting with Mayor Satoshi Takasi alongside a man named Kenzo Manahashi."

"Sumi, you okay? Sumire, when did you get that cut?"

"Huh? You didn't hear the news on Sumire saving some detective from getting run over?"

"WHAT?!" Ann furiously stood up. "She nearly got killed?"

"And to make things worse, it was similar to how her sister died." Futaba added as she showed the group the headline from last week: Gymnast champ saved, Detective declines hero moment

"It happened after I judged the little ones in their practice. I helped this man out after he got shot, then I stuck around to do some investigating."

"What did you see?" 

"The woman, Mitsuru Kirijo.... and two Kenzo Manahashis."

"TWO? What does that mean? His birth certificate says he has no twin brother or anything."

"Turn your bugs off, Futaba. We want to hear the story without you interrupting."

Everyone now looked again at the recorder. Yusuke gave in his insights.

"Seems like their mission involves the Kirijo Corporation and the duality of a man named Kenzo Manahashi."

Makoto nods her head as she texts her sister.

"I'll ask Sis if she knows Manahashi. If not, then we'll ask Hasegawa-san about it."

"Not sure if he'll answer..." Futaba then showed them another headline: Kyoto Under Ruins: mysterious outlaw saves city from giant demons

"Even in Kyoto?" Ann began to feel worried about everyone not in their hideout.

"Makoto, what's the plan?" Ryuji asked her.

"W-Why me?"

"You're Joker's right-hand woman. Plus, you and Ann were all lovey-dovey about him anyway."

Ann looked at Makoto, who blushed while she glared at Ryuji. "Feeling betrayed, Makoto?"

"Can we talk about that some other time?" She hung her head in shame.

"At any rate, it seems that we can't do anything about it." Haru told the group. "If Kyoto and Nayami were the only ones hit with the Shadow attacks, then we should wait until Tokyo gets hit."

"Why the hell would you think of that?!" Ryuji growled.

"So that Ren-kun and his team can come here and explain to us what's going on."

Huh.

Huh.

Huh.

Everyone was speechless. Although a reckless idea, Haru seemed to have a good one.

"So is that our final decision, Queen?"

"Yes. We'll hold off for now until we have enough information to operate on our own. For now, we trust in Ren, Sumire, and the rest to deal with Kirijo and the Manahashis."

The group then adjourns the meeting and heads home. Ann lays on Ren's bed and asked Futaba if she could sleep in the attic for the night.

"You sure you wanna lay there? It smells like RenSumi, y'know?" Futaba teased.

"Ah, shuttup. Maybe I'll do them a favor and get your CDs instead." Ann wins after hearing a defeated sigh from Futaba.

Minutes passed, and Ann didn't feel sleepy at all.

"Huh..... I wonder if this is why Morgana would bug him to sleep."

Chapter Text

March 21, 20XX

Location: Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima
Time: 1900 hours

 

"I am very grateful to have you as our guest for tonight, Kirijo-san," Mayor Satoshi Takasi proclaimed jubilantly. "although I would wonder why of all places would you select our meeting point in here."

"Don't worry, Mayor Takasi." Mitsuru patted his shoulder as she gave him a grin. "This place will serve as a reminder that not only did this building survive an atomic bomb but it will also survive the catastrophe that has occurred in Tokyo, Okinawa, Kyoto, and Nayami. This is serve as a hidden base for our proposed security team."

Takasi looked at her -specifically her breasts- with glee. "I'm sure you have a great deal in mind?"

Rather than answer him, Mitsuru glances at Manahashi X who then elaborates the idea.

"Mayor Takasi, as Kiriko Corporation's newest advisor to Mitsuru Kirijo, I would be honored to present to you the Kirijo Anti-Shadow Countermeasure Service or KACS for short. We proposed this to you as our offering in this visit. Here are the details that would prove that KACS is a legitimate private military that can remove any threats to Japan."

"Such as the Phantom Thieves?"

Mitsuru tensed at hearing that, but responded sternly.

"Yes, even them."

Manahashi's stomach begins to growl as he waves the concern off. "I must be starving. My apologies."

"Oh, no worries. I have brought us food as we have this discussion."

Somewhere near the ruins, Ren and the Thieves keep their eyes on the group as they continue to talk.

"Remind me why you let Maruki drop us off here and told him to turn back to Nayami." Shiho began to talk with a confused look.

"We can't put him in danger. Plus, the RV has loads of Thieves intel and weaponry in it. I needed him to drive off after bringing us here." Ren explained.

"That doesn't mean we should have left him with Morgana-senpai." Sumire pouted.

"If we had Morgana, he would be a dead giveaway for the enemy to notice us."

Kasumi added her comment. "It's also not recommended for him to be around. The Shadow activity may not be strong, but having a cat inside your bag will guarantee you a lot of questioning."

The group then stops talking and continues to watch Mitsuru and Manahashi. Meanwhile, Akechi has been tasked to actually approach the three during their discussion. He changed his appearance to avoid being detected, and he can only hope on his way of talking to not give him away.

"Uh, excuse me?" He flatly began.

Mitsuru glares at him while not identifying him. "What do you want? Can't you see we're in the middle of a meeting?"

"I'm sorry. I was just about to ask for directions. You didn't had to be rude about it." Akechi wasn't bitching around with Mitsuru.

"Come on, Kirijo-san. Give the tourist a break." He then turned to Akechi. "How can I help you?"

"I was wondering if you know where Mayor Satoshi Takasi is."

Manahashi X began to observe his movement. "Who's asking?"

"Well, I hate to tell you this...." Akechi took a deep breath. ".... there have been calling cards posted all over City Hall."

"WHAT?!" Takasi furiously yelled as he grabbed Akechi by the collar. "When did this happen, boy!?"

"Not too long ago, I think." Akechi gives a calling card that had no message, but the silence alone was the message for Takasi.

"Those goddamn Phantom Thieves! You come with me!"

"Ow, ow! Sir, please calm down.... my arm is hurting."

In their hiding spot....

"Get ready." Ren commanded.

As Takasi made a turn on his way to City Hall, he is suddenly knocked unconscious by Ren as he watches Akechi hold his arm in pain.

"That bastard sure has a tight grip." He scowled.

"No one will be there to hold your hand, too." Ren joked.

Akechi shrugged off his joke as he readies his pistol. Ren stops him by the shoulder as he gave a rather grim warning than a stern one.

"Remember: we need either Kirijo or Manahashi injured as we take one of them with us. The other will just be left behind to serve as a warning to them."

Akechi can only grin as Ren lets him go.

"Violet, any sign of movement since Takasi left?" He contacted his girlfriend.

"Negative. They're just standing there."

"Something feels off...." Kasumi spoke on the radio.

"Standby and keep observing them. If anything happens, run like hell."

Ren commanded the Yoshizawas to wait for further instructions unless attacked. As for Akechi, he forced his Black Mask outfit to transfigure as he fires bullets at Mitsuru and Manahashi.

"Ngh, damnit!" Mitsuru growled as she gets hit in the abdomen.

"Fuck!" Manahashi yelped as he was capped in the left knee.

"Don't move a muscle unless you wanna meet your maker early." Akechi psychotically chuckled.

"Holy shit, Crow isn't holding back with this." Shiho remarked as she watched the events happening.

"Hmmm..... eenie, meenie, miney.." Akechi then grabs Mitsuru, knowing that Kasumi will not let her vendetta ruin the return trip. But as he pulled her up, he sensed a Brave Blade attack and quickly dodged it. The girls then stand up to search for the source of the attack.

"See anything?"

"I didn't see anything or anyone using Brave Blade."

"Joker, we got trouble. Someone used Brave Blade on Crow and we can't find the source."

"I'm on it. How's Crow?"

"He dodged it on time. He somehow kn-" Sumire cut herself from talking as she sees a shadowy figure behind her summoning Agneyastra. Sumire then warns the girls and jumps over to the next building.

"Joker, we're being ambushed! Running to checkpoint Xenon now!" Shiho started reporting as she summoned Nora to buy them time to escape. "Mabufudyne!"

Kasumi stopped running and uses her battle rifle to unload at the figure as if she was ALREADY aware of who it is.

"You two go ahead. I'll cover ya!" She ordered as she unloaded one entire magazine before reloading.

The figure finally laughed and unleashed Ziodyne on her, but she evades it at the last second as he begins to mock her.

"It's quite a surprise we meet again, dancer."

"I'll piss on your grave after what you've done..."

"Big words for a tiny fellow like you." He unleashes Brave Blade again only to be blocked by a Tetrakarn spell. "Impressive."

"You think this is fun, you sick bastard?! After what you've done with everyone, you will still think this is just a game?"

"Getting rid of you was Shido's plan the entire time, but after we discovered Maruki and his reality-warping powers we had the power to make sure we will remain in charge."

"Even if the country sinks in either lava or water," Kasumi unleashed Shining Arrows on him, "you still have the nerve to let it sink deeper!"

"Herod!"

A king-like apparition appears behind him as he performs Vacuum Wave, which nearly got Kasumi knocked critically.

"Guinivere!"

Returning the favor, the persona of Arthurian lore caused the figure to flinch after unleashing a strong Megaton Raid on him.

"Gah! Good-for-nothing thief!"

As Kasumi ran off to escape him, she reunites with the girls who are held at gunpoint by KACS mercenaries. Before anything could happen, the mercs fell asleep.

"Good job, Raoul." Ren appeared as he helps the girls out. Akechi is then seen firing at the soldiers as the team reconvenes with him.

"Hereward!" Akechi summoned his Persona. "Find something we can use to escape."

"Consider it done, my prince." Hereward then vanishes to look for means of escape while the Thieves open fire.

The figure then halts the gunfire as he pulls out a megaphone.

"Come on, Phantom Thieves! We should stop this childish game." The figure called them out as Mitsuru takes the megaphone from him.

"If you do not comply to surrender, you will face execution for your false vigilantism."

Akechi cannot help but shout back with a cold, deadly response.

"'Face execution', my ass! If I have to hear that bullshit from you again, I wouldn't mind crossing the line about your family's past atrocities!"

Ren then took his turn in responding Mitsuru.

"You dare claim our vigilantism as false when you, the president of a high security firm, cannot even protect people from the ones corrupting and abusing their power onto the weak? Pathetic!"

Manahashi X then grabbed the megaphone.

"If you do not surrender now, we will show no mercy and have you in Japan's most wanted list." The Thieves don't seem scared at this fact.

Shiho mocked them further, "Go ahead and try! We'll make it look like it never existed!"

The figure then summons an Asian brute Persona behind him.

"Attila! Deadly Fury!"

After one huge slash destroyed the team's only cover, Sumire and Kasumi opened fire as they provided enough cover for Shiho to summon Nora and create a wall of ice to block the bullets.

"We really kicked the hornet's nest on this one!" Shiho complained.

"No shit, Sherlock! We can't compete against that bastard.... especially his Persona." Akechi growled as he witnessed how their cover was cut clean. Soon after, the Thieves run into a horde of Orthrus and Rakshaja en route to who knows where they're going.

"Now there are Shadows?!"

"Diamond, not helping!" Sumire began to panic as she ran out of bullets to fire at their pursuers.

"Does anyone know where we're going? We're running like headless chicken around here!" Kasumi impatiently yelled.

"Crow, where's Hereward?" Ren inquired.

"He should be back by now!"

"My prince." The black archer returned.

"ABOUT TIME YOU SHOWED UP!"

"My apologies, sire. But I have found our way out of this treacherous place."

As soon as Hereward finished saying this, the team is greeted by gunfire from soldiers in two helicopters.

"HEY! THIS IS SOME SERIOUS SHIT ALREADY!" 

"There is a helicopter located in the Daily Hiroshima news station. We can use it to escape."

Sumire sprinted quickly as she talked to the persona. "Do you know the way?"

"......"

"Hey!"

"You all passed by its shortcut four minutes ago."

"Damnit, just get back here!"

As Hereward returns to Akechi, Ren summons Raoul and asks him a favor.

"You may be the Trickster, but that kind of an idea seems diabolical if you ask me...."

"We need those choppers off our asses if we're gonna have to run around until we find the news station." Ren negotiated with his other self.

Sumire was the first to object the idea. "Senpai, things will get worse if Raoul destroys those choppers. What if one crashes and blocks our last path to that news station?"

Shiho was the second to object. "Yeah, uh, I don't have much ammo left so would you please think of something else?"

Kasumi, however, proposed a better idea. "Joker, you have your grappling hook, right?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"I'll call forth Guinivere to take down the choppers. Use the grappling hook to traverse to the rooftops."

"You're not serious, are you?" Sumire looked at her with a worried face. "This is only one grappling hook, and he can carry one passenger."

"Which is obviously you, Violet." Shiho spoke as she reloaded her ammo against the Orthrus pack as they take a path in the alleys.

"Don't worry. Crow!"

"What?"

"Take this!"

Kasumi throws what appears to be a spear chain. Akechi examines it closely until Shiho realized what it's for.

"Oh, I get it. We use this spear chain like a grappling hook! Cool thinking, Angel!" She raised a high five, and Kasumi returned the favor.

"Let's go!"

Kasumi summons Guinivere and uses Shining Arrows on the choppers to disrupt their pattern as Ren and Sumire go first. Afterwards, Akechi and Shiho follow as she remained last.

"There's the news station!"

"Yeah, and those things aren't much helpful."

"First that guy, now the soldiers, then the Rakshaja and Orthrus, now we got a bunch of choppers on our asses and fucking Rangdas in front of us..." Ren cursed as he counted who is hellbent on killing them.

One of the choppers then calls them out via megaphone.

"It's too late, Phantom Thieves! Surrender now! There is no escape!"

"We'll show you escape!" Shiho calls Nora and uses her strongest attack to dispel Mitsuru's chopper. "Ice Age!"

Soon, a quarter of Hiroshima began to be engulfed in thick ice and snow. Civilians are temporarily frozen while the Shadows begin to feel chilly and either get frozen or die from the cold.

"Shiho, at least warn us next time?" Ren cocked a brow as he looked at the frozen civilians down below.

"Whoops. Sorry."

The group then jumps back down to the main road as they rush to the news station. Knowing that the Shadows will still hunt them down after unfreezing, Akechi made the only wisest idea to save the people inside the building.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a goddamn raid!" He fires his gun in the air as Shiho and Ren followed.

"Directions to the helicopter, ma'am?" Kasumi spoke with the receptionist only to receive a scream as the latter looked behind her.

A Rangda shadow tackles Kasumi as the receptionist hides. Akechi prepares to attack the Rangda but was spared the energy after Sumire threw a Sacramental Cross on the demon.

"Angel, are you okay?" Sumire rushed to her twin as she gained a slash in the torso.

"I-I'll live. Thanks."

Ren then orders the team to use the stairs as he makes a short confrontation towards Mitsuru, who enters the building alone.

"Mitsuru Kirijo."

"Ren Amamiya. Goro Akechi."

Ren turns around and sees Akechi aiming his gun at her. Seems like this is more than just a petty grudge now.

"I'm afraid you two are gonna have to come with me for what you did." Mitsuru dictated at the two as she expects no answer.

"No thanks. I have my girlfriend to do that with." Ren smirked as Akechi knew what he meant.

"Apologies, bitch. But I don't do those kinds of stuff despite how alluring you look."

"What's that supposed to m-" Mitsuru thought for a short while until she realized they were using innuendos to throw her off as they ran. "Artemisia!"

Mitsuru's Persona then blocks the stairwell with ice.

"Looks like we'll do it the hard way then."

She raises her rapier and readies herself for a fight.

"Crow."

"Joker."

"Let's beat this tyrant and teach her a lesson."

The two then clash blades with Mitsuru, who began to physically dodge their swings and kicks and countered them with her own. Akechi began to feel how hard her attacks are, but Ren is obviously cheating for obvious reasons.

"How is it you're not fazed?!" She was astonished by how resilient Ren is.

"Shido's lapdogs kick harder than you, lady." Ren mocked her with a smug grin as she summoned Artemisia again.

"Diamond Dust!"

Ren summons Jack Frost to absorb the cold attack, but failed to realize Mitsuru used it as an opening to attack him. Akechi recovers, however, and kicks Mitsuru's leg before she could strike Ren.

"Damnit!" she hissed in pain.

"Never underestimate a psychopath. Come on, Joker."

The two escape her, but not after Ren throws a queen chess piece.

"It's checkmate when you beat me. So hold on to that, mkay?"

"Bastard."

Ren and Akechi make it to the helipad where Shiho is still firing her machine gun at the incoming Shadows and choppers.

"Damnit, this is too much!"

"Akechi, start the chopper. Shiho, on me!"

Akechi runs to the pilot seats to start their escape vehicle. While Sumire tends to Kasumi, Ren and Shiho began to hold onto each other and use one of the choppers to swing around the building with the grappling hook.

"Excuse me, gentlemen. I'll be borrowing this for a second." Ren fought off the soldiers in the chopper before kicking them out of the flying machine (with Raoul making sure they land safely)

"You hanging on, Shiho?" Ren asked his teammate who is dangling by the grappling hook.

"I'm good. Let's take this baby out for a spin."

The two former Shujin students then spun around the building as Shiho unloads her machine gun onto the Shadows climbing up and on the ground. Mitsuru nearly gets hit by the bullets as she was defending herelf from the Shadows as well.

"Woooooohooooooo! This is so much fun!" Shiho cheerfully laughed. "I ain't letting go of this trigger until it goes click!"

"Too bad, Shiho... your earlier attack kinda forced this chopper to use a lot of fuel." Ren warned her as he jumped out and joined Shiho as they swung back to the helipad.

"Shiho-senpai, Ren-senpai!" Sumire rushed to hug them both. "You two are reckless, you know?"

"All fun and games until that chopper lost fuel." Said helicopter explodes in the background.

"I wish we could do it again, though. Never thought my inner self enjoyed greater heights and all... Considering what happened to me." Shiho lamented.

"It's gonna be hard, you know. Might as well buy our own helicopter."

As they reunite and board the news chopper, Akechi began to use the radio to alert the staff of Daily Hiroshima.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your mentally unstable captain speaking. If you have doubted the Phantom Thieves before, now is the time to praise them. WE JUST SAVED YOUR ASSES FROM A DEMON INVASION, SO BE THANKFUL FOR IT!"

As they fly away from the city, Kasumi looks beyond the window and sees the two Manahashis looking at them. One with a grin, and the other with a scowl. Sumire looks at Ren and taps his shoulder.

"Hey, I know that was a Showtime attack."

"Yeah? I knew it felt like that."

"So what will you call it? Ours is Dances with Thieves."

Shiho asks Akechi to turn on the radio, and as he does a classical British song plays.

".... Mercy in the Sky with Diamond."

"Wow. You sure know how to make things sound cool, Ren."

Ren smiles and kisses her forehead as he tells her to nap for a while. Akechi suddenly gave a smile out.

"Seems like we outwitted Kirijo-san. Never thought that felt refreshing."

"We are both angry people, Akechi. We just need to know how to let our steam off."

"So.... Mercy in the Sky with Diamond. Not bad, considering ours is Bladed Runners."

"Our Showtime isn't bad, you know. I kinda like edgy murderous vibe we give to it."

"Oh?" Akechi tilted his head. "Turning to the dark side now, are we?"

"You really need to stop watching Nebula Wars."

The two laugh as they maneuver the chopper to their rendezvous point with Morgana and Maruki.

 

Location: Daily Hiroshima News Station
Time: 2254 hours

 

"Unbelievable! The Phantom Thieves saved us??"

Mayor Takasi was not happy with the sudden crowd that appeared in front of City Hall. Mitsuru gave a defeated look.

"They outmatched Manahashi's private army. They outmatched those things that came out of nowhere. They kicked my ass big time for it." She looks down at the chess piece in her hand. "But they told me it isn't over yet."

"Mayor Takasi, since the city has turned to the Thieves for their help, maybe we should use our private army to deal with things like this." Manahashi X lifts up a decapitated Rakshaja head, presumably from Akechi's blade.

"Not a bad idea, even though I still hate the Phantom Thieves. But if it means protecting the city, then let's get down to business."

As the mayor and the negotiator began settling the deal, Mitsuru walks over to Manahashi XX and ask him about his powers.

"Multiple Personas.... seems like you have the abilities of a Wild Card like Amamiya."

"No, dear. I am not born with such power. You see, your counterpart led a terrorist organization that focused on using the Metaverse as an instrument of war." He pulls out an empty vial. "Call this the Arcane. An artificial Persona buff where I can use any kind of power I want at my will and command."

Mitsuru took the vial and examined it carefully for its contents. "The duration is how long?"

"A few days from now, I will be back to being good with my fists and guns."

"I can see that."

She then texts Akihiko regarding the Arcane. Akihiko, you and your incompetent team can make up for it by heading back to HQ and look for Project Arcadia. She looks at Manahashi XX as she then fakes a smile.

 

Location: Hikari Beach, 70 kilometers outside Nayami
Time: 2330 hours

 

"Looking cool, Joker!" Morgana jumped out of the RV to congratulate the team.

"Impressive. Even the elimination of the Shadows around the news station was flawless." Maruki clapped his hands as he too congratulated them.

"It was nothing, really. We sorta kicked the hornet's nest by accident." Ren admitted.

"What do you mean?" Both Morgana and Maruki cocked eyebrows (well, it's hard to look at Morgana if he is cocking an eyebrow considering how hairy he is as a cat).

"Manahashi used his Personas against us and forced to run before heading to the news station." Kasumi summarized bluntly.

"Alright, losers." Shiho stretched before removing her clothes. "I'm going for a swim, if anyone is looking for me."

Ren, Morgana, Akechi, and even Kasumi looked at Shiho and her figure. Although she was wearing compression shorts under her pants, her blue bra didn't spare her cleavage from being visible. Shiho snaps back to notice how the four ogled at her.

"H-Hey! Have some decency, will ya?" She furiously blushed as she turned to Kasumi. "Hey, quit staring too!"

Sumire cleared her throat aggressively towards the four as they march back inside, leaving Shiho to have fun in the water. After she finished her swim, she heads back to the RV. As she entered, Ren tossed her new clothes and simply told her to enter the small bathroom quietly since everyone (except Maruki, who is listening to the radio) is sleeping. After changing, Shiho raises her fist to Ren for a fist bump as the ride back to Nayami begins. However, as they go along the road, Ren notices one of the stars glowing brightly as it approaches the asphalt. Ren slowly stops the van and exits it as he greets the being that appears.

"How's it going, Jose?"

Chapter Text

March 22, 20XX

Location: 55 kilometers away from Nayami
Time: 0100 hours

 

"Oh, hi there! It's been a long time!"

Jose beamed as he saw Ren's face and made a few honking sounds, which woke Maruki up.

"Hey, people are sleeping at this time, Jose. Lower the noises." Ren softly requested him as he nodded in response. Jose then speaks up again.

"I hope you're feeling okay despite the weird things happening here."

"We managed, Jose. You know we can't be beaten."

"Except to that big ugly cup back in Tokyo not too long ago." Jose failed to notice Ren's grim expression after the latter heard. "Where ya going?"

Ren shook his head back to focus on Jose. "Home, actually. We just beat bad guys and we might be fighting more bad guys later."

"Sounds dangerous."

"The world can be cruel, little one. We are only given little chance to conquer it."

While Ren and Jose converse outside (in the middle of the road, to say the least), Maruki observes how they interact. It wasn't with a funky jive or something that spells hilarity or sarcasm; their bond is more on solemn kindness and more on taking value in things. He channeled his inner counselor and wrote down notes. Shiho startled him from behind, causing the horn to blare by accident. Ren and Jose look back at the van, with Ren shooting a glare while Jose shushed it gleefully.

"Humans are weird creatures, big bro."

"Indeed, they are...."

"DON'T..... scare me like that." Maruki tried to be mad at Shiho, but he lowered his voice as he regained composure.

"Sorry. Habit of mine to do so." Shiho hung her head in shame as any louder sounds could have woken the whole group up.

"Well, that little thing Ren is talking to seems to like it."

"What is that? An egg-like alien?"

"I have no idea."

Meanwhile, Jose begins to look at the junk in his mini-car and finds three Wishing Stars. Ren takes a step back as he remembered what those stars were used for.

"You still have those, Jose?"

"I always have these. Though my master keeps getting mad at me for giving away too many stars." Jose began to look sad.

Ren pats his head as he cheered him up. "Hey, your stars are helpful. If it weren't for you, my friends and I would have been hurt and lost forever. If anything, you're our hero."

"Thanks, big bro." He gives the stars before his car begins to glow. "I guess I have to go now. Bye!"

Ren waved him farewell as he drove off to God knows where he is really heading. As he enters the van, Shiho intercepts him by the door.

"Did the alien know you were our leader?" She can let out a smile as he entered and ruffled her hair.

"Very funny, Shiho."

"So," Maruki talked to Ren, "What was that all about?"

Ren decided to answer vaguely, since vague is the only thing he can describe about Jose as a whole. "He just gave me the genie treatment. Except I'm done with it already." He gives the stars to Shiho as she carefully examined them.

"They aren't glowing, though. I can see a crystal inside, but no glow."

"I guess the moon isn't out on its scheduled day then."

Maruki snapped his fingers thanks to Ren. "Speak of the devil, thank you for reminding me! So I examined the hieroglyphics we found and look what I managed to decipher." He pulls out his notebook and shows Ren the translation of the signs.

"Dark Hour.... Fog.... Mental Shutdowns....." Ren read the notebook as he used his Third Eye to watch the road. "All of these are related with Shadows and the Metaverse. But how is this possible in our current timeline?"

"Well, to start things off.... I will tell you about the first phenomenon: The Dark Hour." Maruki began to explain to the two active Thieves. "So basically the ruins show two versions of the Dark Hour: stable and unstable. The first recorded incident about the Dark Hour was back in 2009, when Shadows and a cult known as Strega used the time as their murder spree and chance to invade the real world."

Shiho and Ren nod their heads, prompting Maruki to continue his discussion.

"But after its stability broke sometime after January 31, the portal between the Metaverse and the real world have slowly cracked. Thus bringing us to our current state: the unstable version. Rather than focus on doing their invasion at night, we are forced upon by their invasion at around 7:30 to 8:30 in the evening. However, it can go earlier or later than what the broken pendulum-like thing in its operations would go for."

"So our prom and the attack on Hiroshima...."

"Were all Dark Hour-related invasions. Hiroshima was different, since Mitsuru was already there to use the company's security horseshit to promote themselves in places far away from Tokyo."

"Speaking of Kirijo, she was already the president of Kirijo Corporations - then known as Kirijo Group - by the time her father was murdered by their adviser Ikutski."

"Doc, are you implying that she's trying to cover up what happened back then with what she's doing now?"

"It's a possibility."

Silence was their only friend later on as they went along the road.

 

Location: Hasegawa residence, Kyoto, Japan
Time: 0430 hours

 

Yu Narukami, along with Rise, Naoto, Ken, and Chie, arrive at the front of Zenkichi Hasegawa's home. From the looks of it, the house was nearly wrecked to the ground as a fallen tree remains crashed in the kitchen area. Without thinking any further, Yu rings his doorbell.

"Hello? Zenkichi Hasegawa?"

A gruntled voice can be heard from inside. "Who's asking?"

"My name is Yu Narukami. I'm a private investigator partnered alongside Detective Naoto Shirogane. If it is okay with you, we would like to ask a few questions in regard to what happened here days ago."

"If you wanna enter my house, go through the exposed kitchen." Zenkichi coughed badly as the group made their way inside.

"Hey," Chie spoke up as she carefully approached Zenkichi. "Are you okay? You look like hammered shit."

He laughs at Chie's comment. "You could say that, Officer Satonaka."

Chie turns red after she heard him. "H-How did you-"

"I'm a special agent of the new National Security Task Force. I should know each and everyone of you all." He sternly explained to Chie, which Rise snickers from behind.

"I'm guessing Sanada-san didn't teach you a lot, Dragon Warrior."

"Shut it, Rise."

"So what's all this about, Mr. Narukami?" Zenkichi demanded them to cut to the chase.

Yu then gives him a dossier of intel regarding the events that transpired in Kyoto, Nayami, and, as of recent events, Hiroshima. Naoto then discusses what exactly is the cause of these events after thorough investigation.

"I'm guessing the kids are back at it, huh?" He could only sigh. "For one thing, I was already that heroic outlaw in here. But for the Phantom Thieves to be involved in two incidents in only a matter of days....."

"Which is why we need your help in capturing them." Naoto requested, unaware that Narukami's face turned sour at the word 'capturing'.

Zenkichi glanced at Narukami (still sour) and Naoto (still serious) as he fixed his posture. "Why would I capture my own teammates for this?"

"It is reported that the Thieves hold vital information that may be used against the Kirijo Corporation."

"Gee, I wonder why...."

"Mitsuru is not a person to make a fool of. She will not hesitate to resort to drastic measures in accomplishing her goals."

Chie and Rise looked at Ken, who suddenly became tensed.

"Something wrong, Ken-kun?"

"N-Nothing." He lied.

"Liar." Rise immediately deducted.

"What do you mean by that, Shirogane?" Zenkichi's tone became defensive, as he has an idea on what she meant.

"She will not hesitate to put you or your daughter in the Most Wanted list for associating with the Phantom Thieves. As of this moment, only the five of us know you're a Phantom Thief yourself." With a blank face, Naoto just explained what could be seen as blackmail.

"You bastards!"

"Mr. Hasegawa, I reassure you that I will not let that blackmail happen at all. Right, Naoto?" Yu glared at Naoto, who then realized what she was doing.

"My apologies, Hasegawa-san! I didn't mean to say it in a threatening manner."

"Sounded like it." His words slashed through her head as she tried to comprehend what she just said until he raised his hand. "But if this means keeping my daughter safe, then okay. I'll help you find them."

Naoto nodded as she tugged her sleeve. "Thank you, Haseg-" She was abruptly interrupted by him, who gave everyone a warning.

"But that doesn't mean I'll help you capture them. I already went beyond that stage and saw their cause front and center;"

Yu can only nod while the others exchanged confused and concerned looks.

"Narukami, you sure about this? Mitsuru-senpai won't be happy..." Ken expressed his doubt.

"Relax, Ken. Everything will be fine." Yu reassured him as he looks back at Zenkichi. "I apologize for all of this, Mr. Hasegawa. Truly, I do."

"It's alright, kid." He chuckled as he observed everyone leaving. "You remind me of him, in a way."

"Pardon?"

"If you're after the Phantom Thieves, you're already aware who Ren Amamiya is."

"Indeed, I am aware."

"Well.... it seems like we always have no choice but to follow orders nowadays, huh?" His face showed sadness this time.

"It'd be like that sometimes, but we always have something to look forward to when this is all over." Yu continued as he placed his hand on his shoulder and spoke in a low voice.

"If we do encounter them and fight, I'll give you the chance to switch teams." Zenkichi was shocked at what he heard. "Trust me: I know what I'm doing."

With that said, Yu bids Zenkichi farewell and leaves the house. As he retreats back to his room, the old Phantom Thief checks in on his daughter, who is fast asleep with a smile.

"No other choice, alright...." He muttered as he closes the door.

 

Location: Amamiya residence
Time: 0700 hours

 

"FREEDOM!" Morgana pounced out of the RV as he started scurrying around the neighborhood while the rest exit the vehicle. As they enter the Amamiya household, they notice the frustrated faces of the parents as they began to lecture Ren again.

"Unbelievable!" Ayumi began yelling, "Not only did you tackle against those things in Hiroshima, but you also went up against the military, the Kirijo Corporation, AND hijacked a news station while going guns blazing as a quarter of the city was frozen!"

"I don't know how you kids operate, but the last thing we need is you all getting sent to prison." Hiro spoke.

"Not my fault Mitsuru Kirjio began attacking us...." Ren coldly answered.

"Which you deliberately spied on. If I had known that being a Phantom Thief is harder than expected, I would have recommended you to stop all of this."

"And what, dear mother, would that help at all in solving this case?" Everyone noticed his sudden change of tone.

"What is that supposed to mean, Ren? And why speak to your mother in that tone?"

"It's not like the both of you are involved in this shit, anyway. You two always have a habit of forgetting what matters whenever it doesn't involve any of you."

"LISTEN HERE, YOUNG MAN!" Ayumi spoke with fumes on her head as Ren continued staring at her dead in the eye. "I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR!"

"How dare you try to go against us! Have you forgotten who we are?"

Akechi groaned as he answered for Ren with a deadly tone. "He damn well knows who you are. You are two, unbelievable parents who will do anything to keep bullshit outta your asses when shit hits the fan big time. From what I've learned between the last argument and this, you were holding back against his revelation to you all because you just want to shake it off and pretend that your own son is not the daredevil everyone has adorned and loved. You just want him to resume his life of boring horseshit as if nothing happened...."

Everyone remained quiet as Akechi looked at Sumire for support. Sumire averted her gaze, prompting Akechi to continue.

"And I'm not just Ren's friend for nothing. His silent demeanor tells me that your natures prevent him from fully enjoying his life before Tokyo, and even after what transpired in Tokyo you still act as if he is the same boy you ENTIRELY IGNORED for a year. As for what happened when he had his summer vacation with the other Thieves instead of you, I can only tell that you barely gave a damn about it as well."

Hiro angrily retorted. "You think we had a choice!? If our own goddamn son didn't fight back Masayoshi Shido-"

"YOU KNOW MY FATHER'S CLAIM AGAINST HIM IS PURE BULLSHIT!"

Ayumi isn't having any of this, either. "YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST COME HERE AND SAY THAT WE ARE TERRIBLE PARENTS FROM THE START AND PRETEND THAT YOU KNOW OUR SON LIKE HE WAS YOUR ONLY FRIEND!?"

Akechi held back for a second as the words shot his chest. True, Ren is his only friend during the events in Tokyo. But that didn't mean that he would pretend to be his friend.

"Tell me: did you actually decide to defend him and help him transfer to Tokyo.... or cast him away to make sure not one motherfucker looks at you with a suspicious face in this stupid town?"

Silence surrounded the area as a few people were trying to notice what's going on. Maruki saved the group by honking loud in the RV and pretended to sleep.

"I-We-" Ayumi looked away from Akechi.

"We tried to-"

"The word 'tried' is pointless in your answer. It looks like you never did defend him nor assist him in any manner at all."

"Akechi, you can stop now." Ren's aggressive tone gave Akechi the signal to shut up now. "Everyone, on the living room. NOW."

Shiho, Sumire, and Morgana shifted their way to the living room.

"If you two had no choice but to disown me for a year, then let me tell you this: I had no choice as well in becoming a Phantom Thief. I may be given choices in helping people or not, but I prefer doing what is right than allowing it to be my choice of action." Ren told his parents as they remain quiet.

Sumire then approached Ren and hugged him from behind. "Come on, Senpai. Calm down now."

Akechi leaves them alone as he went back to the RV. His parents look at each other and ask Sumire.

"I take it he had no choice but to help you out as well in your gymnastics?" Hiro broke the silence between parents and kids.

"Yes," Sumire replied. "He has been doing great since the day we met. And hearing Akechi argue at you two made me realize that you two did have a choice, but you surely made a terrible one."

"I just don't want our son in jail again, okay?" Ayumi looked down as she prevents crying.

"I already went to jail more than once. What difference does it make?" Ren spoke.

"I.... I guess it can't be helped. I mean, I don't know how you managed your own back in Tokyo despite meeting new people and helping out Sakura-san in his cafe." Hiro decided to give up.

"You wouldn't care, anyway." Ren then urged Sumire to enter back inside as the parents tried to calm themselves down.

 

Meanwhile, in the RV....

"What kind of a poor display of distraction was that?!" Akechi scolded Maruki.

"Not really my best idea, okay? It was that or I yell 'Snake!' at the local rumor seekers." He held his hands up in the air as he defended himself.

"You know, that was a bad idea... but a good one as well." Kasumi commented as she bit an apple.

All Akechi can do is nap while Maruki slumps down his seat and read the newspaper.

 

In the Amamiya residence, the tension still occupies the space as Ren's parents have another short meeting with each other while Ren packs his stuff inside a bag.

"You're not considering leaving the house, right? Senpai?"

Sumire's cautious questions did not affect Ren, who searches the item box under his bed for ammunition.

"Look, if you don't want to talk to me...."

"Sumi." Ren tried his best to not yell at her. His parents' annoyance and faux care was already enough to piss him off.

"Sorry. I know what your parents said earlier was wrong. And we know what Akechi said to them was sorta right and sorta wrong. But at the end of the day, only you know which is the truth."

Ren turns around and sees Sumire looking at his old family photo hanging by the bedroom. Her next words stung him deeply.

"Have you ever asked your parents if they really cared for you since you were born?"

"I'm guessing you brought that up coz of-"

Sumire shook her head as she interrupted Ren. The train of thought about her Kasumi's death began to flood her head as she begins to feel anxious.

"Okay then. I won't push further."

"Thank you, Senpai."

"And to answer your question, I'm not leaving my house. I just feel like going home."

"In LeBlanc?"

"Yeah. They're the closest to home since my case."

Silence went between them for a short while.

"Sumi..."

"Ren..."

As the two look at each other, they draw closer and lock their lips together. The feeling of kissing the person you love is unforgettable.... if only no one was looking.

"Ehem!"

Sumire and Ren stopped kissing to find Shiho by the door with her arms crossed.

"You two will have your chance, okay? Just not now." She gave a playful comment.

"How much did you see?"

"About 15 seconds of it."

"F-f-fifteen seconds? I-I-I didn't know w-w-we kissed that long...."

Shiho laughs as the both of them blush intensely and look away from her.

"Well, if you two are done packing for the trip... I assume we have a plan then?"

"We do. But we can wait for you."

Shiho tilts her head in confusion until she realized what he meant.

"Shit, I have to go home! Can we have the meeting around... 1 pm?"

Ren nods at Shiho, who then rushed out of the house. Looking again at Sumire...

"Now, where were we?"

The two kiss again, and the longer it got, the more they get into the feeling of passion. Caressing her figure while she grips his strong arms and sculpted torso. Until another person interrupted.

"Any more of that, and Futaba might open her camera on time to record you two doing that." Morgana snickered as he teased the couple.

"B-bastard cat...."

"Morgana-senpai...."

 

Time: 1222 hours

 

Lunchtime has been awfully quiet. The Amamiya family refused to talk, Sumire and Morgana kept sharing concerned looks, and Akechi (who joined them at Morgana's request) just fiddled with the fork.

"Uh, Mr. Amamiya?" Sumire broke the silence in the dining room as she tries to talk to the parents.

"Yes?"

"How much do you love Ren?"

Now Hiro and Ayumi shot up and showed wide-eyed reactions to Sumire's question.

"Why do you ask?" Ayumi countered her question.

"I saw your family photo in Ren's room..."

"Sumi...."

"... and I notice that you weren't entirely smiling at the photograph."

Morgana runs up and retrieves the photograph. Akechi nabs it from his mouth and looks at the photo.

"She is right. I don't see any happy expression except for Ren's."

Hiro then looks at Ren. "We're trying our best to be good parents. We can't provide with everything most of the time, and sometimes you just wish you were alone."

"Isn't it obvious?"

"But," Ayumi continued her husband's statement. "When you aren't alone, you seem to be a different person. Like you weren't our child to begin with."

"So I'm guessing Ren is an accident?"

Ren and Akechi choke at their meals. Everyone stares at them as they drank up two whole glasses of water.

"Damnit, Sumire. At least watch your words..." Akechi snarled as he grabbed another glass of water.

"To be honest, no. He isn't an accident." Hiro blankly stated.

"Thanks for letting me know." Ren tried to recover from the choke. "Now I can't have any idea on forgetting that imagination."

"Anyway, it seemed like we provide him enough to keep ourselves happy. We just forgot how to make him happy."

Akechi then looked at most of the family photos in the living room. Not all showed Ren smiling or with a lot of friends.

"So you kept him lonely for years?" Akechi coldly asked.

"Heavens, no! But we just-"

"Had no choice but to go along with it and see if I might change, right?" Ren's deduction earned a somber nod from his parents.

Sumire gave her insights as she was careful with her phrasing. "Well, it's not easy balancing a happy child with happy parents. Sometimes, we have to do what's best for everyone instead of focusing on ourselves. It's not an obligation nor a choice; it's something we keep with us as we grow."

Ayumi looks at her son, then to Sumire, and then to her husband. "Hiro?"

"Blessing has been given already."

"W-W-What?! B-blessing?" Sumire was caught off-guard and hides her pink cheeks.

"Mom... Dad...?"

"Err, forget that I said that."

"Right."

"Anyway, we reflected on what the three of you said to us earlier. Yes, we are terrible parents after all. We just used our power of decision to evade trouble on us."

"To be honest, I was left with no choice but to endure the rumors. But they aren't what I expected them to be."

"And we do care, Ren. We just.... I dunno."

"Poor reasoning."

"Nobody's perfect, you know."

Sumire took her cue and hugs Ren from behind in front of his parents. Akechi made a disgusted sound in the background.

"I'm guessing we'll leave you two alone now? We still have work to do, anyway...."

With that said, Hiro and Ayumi leave the dining room as they prepare their stuff for work.

"You really have caring parents, Ren."

"They may be caring, but I'm very daring." He tried to flirt to cheer himself and Sumire up.

They try to settle for another kiss, but Akechi blocked their faces with a plate.

"You can have your fun after this mission. I don't see why you two suddenly started kissing like a bunch of cliched teenagers."

Morgana snickered as the two blushed again. Seconds later, Shiho bursted through the door with a lot of bag.

"Alright! I'm prepared!"

Noticing that Akechi has a plate in front of Ren and Sumire, Shiho turned to his parents.

"Have they convinced you?"

"In the weirdest way possible, yes."

"Did the Holy Girlfriend's Powers work?"

"Convinced us in a way."

"Did you kn- Ow!"

Shiho received an elbow to the ribs by Sumire as they convene back to the living room. Akechi pulls out a map as he began to explain the plan.

"So, Maruki told me that Manahashi took over Shido after his downfall. And half of the soldiers hired by Kirijo look skilled, so they may be international recruits as well."

"Scary..." Sumire softly commented.

"If we are reckless, yeah." Ren finally resumed his serious attitude.

Hiro notices the map and gave a few information about it.

"That area looks like a fortress. If I were to enter it without causing a ruckus, it's be from the tunnels below or through paragliding."

Ayumi smacked his head as she reprimanded him for giving them ideas again.

"At the very least, they should know how bad it is."

"Well, as if you care about their missions..."

"I'm sorry, who panicked when a video of Ren hanging by a helicopter was shown?"

As the parents left, everyone hung their heads with shame and guilt.

"Shit...." Akechi cursed.

"We forgot we were in a news station." Shiho added.

"I guess Dad saw it too..." Sumire feared.

"Our missions are gonna be headlines now." Ren concluded.

As they reviewed the layout of the fortress (which is revealed to be Kirijo Corporations' Military Site), the group then reached to four plans.

"Plan A is us infiltrating our way to the fortress and disabling all their armed forces. That way, we can eliminate any hostiles hunting us down with guns."

"Plan B is getting the leader of the hostiles to turn against the Shadow Operatives. We can convince them that Mitsuru is planning to get rid of them by allowing her special ops team to wipe them out."

"Plan C is us gathering information and forcing the Kirijo Corporation to fall on its own. This means going to places where high-ranking officials are in cahoots with them."

"Plan D is charging head on and stealing the equipment for their future projects to avoid any further difficulties."

Shiho and Sumire remained quiet as they try to pick which plan to go through. Morgana hums as he tries to make his own plan. Ren and Akechi look at their members as they wait for Maruki and Kasumi to arrive.

Sumire was the first to declare her vote. "I'll go for Plan D. We can sneak in and deal with the guards while having someone in the extraction point pick up the material we steal to prevent their war machines."

Shiho begged to differ. "Sorry, Sumire. As cool as that sounds, I prefer having Plan B. Let's just have the wild dogs attack each other instead."

Morgana couldn't come up with his own idea and decided to vote. "I'm with Sumire on this one. Plan D sounds extravagant and thrilling."

Ren showed an amused smile as Maruki and Kasumi enter the house.

"Care to share what happened with that yelling?" Kasumi inquired only to earn silence from everyone. "Suit yourselves."

Maruki looked at the plans and scrunched his face. "What the hell? These plans are too complicated in detail..." Sumire gave him the summarized version afterwards. "Thanks, Sumire-san."

"Kasumi, which plan do you think is most suitable?" Ren asked her as she reviewed the plans.

"Honestly, Akira could do better plans." Ren grimaced while Akechi scowled. "But, these aren't bad ideas though."

"Why would your teammate plan better than us?" Morgana felt offended by her statement as it somewhat stained their essence of Phantom Thievery.

"Because our Phantom Thieves think realistically. Yeah, there is that cognitive mumbo-jumbo.... but it couldn't guarantee us easier access to Palaces."

"So you winged all your missions?"

"According to Akira, yes."

Morgana facepalmed while Shiho rubbed her temples aggressively.

"We're literally getting screwed if these plans aren't approved by her."

"We can do Plan C and D, but they must work in a matter of two days tops."

Akechi suddenly felt intrigued by her remarks. "Okay, Angel. How do we do this?"

"There's six of us. Seven, if you count Morgana. (Hey!) Three of us can go find the high-ranking officials while the other three can begin stealing the valuable parts of the corporation's tech. But we have to make sure this works all fast and smooth or else we'll get screwed big time."

Ren thought to himself. If we will go after high-ranking officials of the Kirijo Corp, we're gonna have to find their sponsors first. Sumire beat him to asking Kasumi that.

"But how will we find the officials? Do we like, spy on them again like how we did with Mitsuru?"

"Unless you wanna risk everyone, spying in the shadows is not a good plan for that. We need to gather information from them publicly."

Akechi realized what - or who- can help them. "You know, I haven't visited Father dearest yet. Still wanna gut him for information."

"Akechi," Ren warned him, "People think you're dead. Remember?"

"Yeah, Akechi-san." Sumire supported Ren's reasoning. "It's a death sentence if you go in there and then every criminal identifies you."

"There's no other way, guys. Shido may know something about Kirijo Corporation, and with him behind bars... he's the safest bet."

Everyone thought his proposal through. Maruki then added his idea instead to ease the sudden suspense.

"How about this? Akechi, Suzui, and I will visit Shido in prison while Amamiya, the Yoshizawa twins, and Morgana infiltrate the fortress after getting the green light from us?"

"Impressive, Doctor. Putting the obvious people into the unexpected plan will put them down with their pants off."

"You mean catch them with their pants down?"

Akechi became embarrassed at what he said. "You get what I meant."

"Aren't you an obvious person, Akechi?" Shiho pointed out.

"Yes, but after learning a thing or two from Ren... I think I know how to make a disguise of my own."

...

...

"There is no other way then?" Ren spoke up, wanting the confirmation of the team.

"I hope you aren't concerned about something trivial again, Ren."

"For the last time, your life isn't 'trivial'."

"I am just expendable, after all."

Kasumi decided to break their spiel. "As much as you want to show more bullshit than lighter shit towards him, you feel grateful that someone is caring about you in this kind of catastrophe." She bumps his shoulder as she goes to the kitchen. "Keep that in mind."

"Tch."

"All in agreement?"

Everyone gave an approving sound.

"Alright then. Come back here around midnight. We leave for Tokyo at the earliest trip."

 

Location: Shibuya Accessway
Time: 1310  hours

 

"It's definitely Ren."

Ann carefully watched the news as she recognizes the damages done in the battleground of downtown Hiroshima.

"Dude, it's like he's working without us." Ryuji complained.

"And with a team of his own, nonetheless." Yusuke added.

"But why would Ren-kun find new people to work with? Is it because we're far from him?" Haru sadly asked.

"We dunno for sure, but from the looks of the shot...." Futaba zooms in one of the photos caught by a witness. "Sumire is obvs with him."

Everyone was unaware that the pose Sumire was caught with made Ryuji comment dirtily. "Maaaaan, I know Yoshizawa was flexible. But not THIS flexible." He grabbed the phone to examine more.

Ann jabbed his head and gives the phone back to Futaba. "You moron! That girl you're checking out is your best friend's girlfriend! Remember?"

"R-Right. Sorry." Ryuji tends to his aching head as Makoto spoke.

"Looks like we're gonna have to do the very thing he doesn't want us to do."

"Which is?"

Makoto closed her eyes before speaking with a determined look and voice. "We're gonna have to go back to being Phantom Thieves."

"HELL YEAH!"

"What for, Mako-chan?"

"We're gonna do our own investigating. If we find Mitsuru Kirijo, we'll get answers from her. If we find Ren, we'll get answers from him. Either way, we can't leave this be."

Everyone nods their heads in agreement. Ann steps forward and uses her hand like a sword.

"I dub thee, Makoto Niijima, as new leader of the Phantom Thieves!"

"All hail the Queen!" Futaba chanted.

"Let's start our mission tomorrow. We need to know first who we're up against. Futaba, you're on recon duty. Yusuke, I want you to try to convince Mitsuru Kirijo to talk to you on anything."

"As long as it's not nude painting!" Ann yelled to make sure Yusuke won't do anything stupid.

"Noted."

"Haru, see if there are any links of the Kirijos towards your company."

"Roger that, Mako-chan!"

"Ryuji, Ann... you two will stay on your toes and keep an eye out for men in black. Copy?"

Both blondes gave Makoto a thumbs-up.

"Good. Let's get going."

Chapter Text

March 22, 20XX

Location: Junes Foodcourt, Inaba
Time: 1601 hours

 

After recruiting Zenkichi Hasegawa from Kyoto, Yu and the others rendezvous in Inaba as they plan to have a meeting without the acknowledgment of Mitsuru. As the new branch manager of Junes - Inaba, Yosuke had to close off the food court for two reasons: one being the meeting, and the other....

"I can't believe you vomited this much, you moron!" Yosuke yelled at Teddie, who is still vomiting in a bucket. "I told you to monitor the food's quality without eating it!"

"I'm s-s- BLECH!" Teddie tried to apologize as he puked. "I'm so sorry, Yosuke. They were just too delicious to look at and I can't help it."

"Those things were already decaying. You and that tiny brain of yours really needs an upgrade."

As the two continue to bicker, a few members have arrived to witness the poor display Teddie has befallen to. Yukiko can only give out an obnoxious laugh while Yukari approaches Teddie to pat him in the back. Akihiko opens his mouth to ask what happened, but Yosuke raises his hand and prompts him to not talk about it. Kanji and Fuuka arrive with a small banner that spells "SHAODW OPEARTIVES" on it, with Junpei laughing and crying his ass off as Kanji accidentally formed the letters differently. Chie, Rise, Naoto, and Ken follow suit until Narukami, Aigis, and Labrys arrive last.

"Huh? Where's Koromaru?" Kanji asked Ken.

"He's sleeping. Koromaru is getting older and older by the day." Ken replied sadly as he knew that Koromaru is close to meeting his end in his old age.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to ask you like that." Kanji apologized, "But let's just hope he has more years to live, okay?"

Yu cleared his throat to begin the meeting. Akihiko reads a newspaper in regards to the Hiroshima attack.

"As we all know, the Phantom Thieves struck again in Hiroshima last night. Although Mitsuru and Manahashi had literally 300 soldiers around with them in the Genbaku Ruins rendezvous, they were outmatched by only 5 of them. It seems that strength in numbers doesn't cut it." 

"So you suggesting we take turns in fighting them? Coz we still our asses handed to us when we went 3-against-1 on them." Yosuke commented as he rubs his neck, still feeling the pain he sustained from Morgana.

"Not an option, either." Akihiko spoke up as he crumpled the newspaper, much to Yosuke's disdain. "Mitsuru said that the Thieves are stronger than all of us. She tried fighting Amamiya and Akechi before getting her ass handed by the psychopath detective. Amamiya didn't even flinch when she kicked him and tried to slash him."

"So he must be using a Persona that nullifies Physical attacks."

"More or less. Anyway, Mitsuru briefed us about our 'incompetency' and is gonna send a few of us back to Kirijo Corporation's HQ to secure one of the projects she had in development."

Fuuka's eyes beam with curiosity as she asked Akihiko. "What project are we talking about here, Akihiko-senpai?"

"Project Arcadia."

"A boat?" Junpei asked dumbly as Yukari shook her head in disbelief.

"Not close. It's a cover for one of her best projects: a weapon which allows you to wield multiple Personas like Narukami and Amamiya."

Everybody's eyes widened after hearing him. The power to wield multiple Personas is like having a God complex in their hands, but only Yu (and Ren) acknowledge the pros and cons of it. Although given a temporary time of wielding the power, Aigis knows too well not to let it fall to the wrong hands.

"Are you certain about this? I do not remember Mitsuru-san telling me this at all." Aigis asked for confirmation, which Akihiko nods to seal it.

"She's been working on that ever since the events here that led up to our dear red-haired sonuvabitch." Yu's expression went cold after remembering the mastermind of the second Inaba incident. Labrys notices his face and does the same.

"I wonder how's Sho-kun at this point...." She mumbled.

"As far as we know, Manahashi has no knowledge of this. But that doesn't mean we should let it be."

Rise then stood up and tries to call someone, much to the confusion of everyone.

"Hon, you okay?" Yu asked kindly.

"Is your agency calling you again, Rise?" Yukari added.

Rise ignores their questions and waited until the receiver answered.

"Platinum Star Hotel! How can we help you?"

"Um, yes. This is Rise Kujikawa, and I would like to book a premium room for 2 please."

Everyone's faces grow red as they look at Yu.

"W-What the hell are you guys looking at?" Yu covered his face.

"You're seriously gonna do IT in a time like this? Come on, man." Akihiko shook his head and sighed.

"How am I supposed to know?!"

"Sensei is already gonna have fun with Rise-san? How scandalous!" Teddie gleefully laughed.

"Yukiko, what did you teach him?"

"I didn't teach him anything! Yosuke?"

"Screw that! I bet Chie corrupted him."

"You motherf-"

Rise returned to the group as she announced what she did.

"Well, Yu and I will be heading for a hotel in 4 days."

"You two aren't married yet, though." Junpei bluntly spoke. Yosuke, however, had an idea.

"Hey, Yu. I got something to show ya. Come on."

As the Ultimate Chad and the Prince of Junes leave the food court for a while, Rise resumed her plan.

"I heard Mitsuru-san will be attending a ball in the Platinum Hotel. We'll be her back-up in case the Phantom Thieves attack her there."

"Oh, I get it. But why a room for two?"

Rise blushed at that fact. Yukari knew what this meant and signaled everyone to stand down.

 

Meanwhile, in the Jewelry Department in Junes...

 

"I can't, man."

"Dude, it's your chance!"

"Yosuke..."

"You and Rise. Finally gonna be alone. Maybe signs of banging are included.."

"Yosuke."

"And this is the perfect chance to whip out the rock and-"

"YOSUKE."

Yu tries to convince Yosuke to not give away a 200,000-yen engagement ring. Yosuke, however, convinces him to finally propose to Rise.

"You two have been a couple for nearly 5 years now! Just say the four magic words while showing her this and kapow!"

Yu groaned as Yosuke continues to egg him for it.

 

Location: Suzui residence
Time: 1900 hours

 

Shiho sighs as she looks at her parents talking about recent events involving the Phantom Thieves. As much as she wants to tell them, they're too good-natured to bear the truth. She doesn't want to see the same faces that she saw after she tried to commit suicide years ago.

"Hey, Mom... Dad..." She slowly approached to them.

"Going out again?" Her dad was the first to figure out her request.

"Yeah. But...." She trailed off, which prompted her mother to ask her.

"But? Is something wrong?"

Shiho took a deep breath and then told them about the plan to go back to Tokyo.

"You sure about that? I mean, not that I oppose you in your plan..."

"But the city itself gave us bad memories.... especially-"

"I know. But I can't run away from it forever."

"You really want to confront him?"

"Yes, Dad."

Shiho glanced at the TV that showed the report about Hiroshima again. As she noticed that the ice and snow thawed, she sighed with relief that no innocent soul was killed by her powers. She watched how people commented on the Phantom Thieves' unorthodox actions changed their view on them, while others remain bitter towards them. At the very least, no one complained on how a quarter of the city was temporarily engulfed with the cold.

"I can tell you're becoming braver by the day, Shiho. I can tell that Amamiya boy has gotten you good." Her mom winked at her.

"N-N-No! It's not that. Plus, he has a girlfriend already." Shiho awkwardly laughed while hiding her now-crimson cheeks.

"Huh. I could have sworn he was single last time when you invited him over." Shiho can only groan as she waved her parents goodbye, with the hope of returning to them soon.

 

Location: Shimizu-Matoken Station, Nayami
Time: 2350 hours

 

Ren, Sumire, Kasumi, and Shiho purchase their tickets for the 4 am train ride. As they wait for Akechi and Maruki, they take shelter at the small diner near the station as their stomachs begged them to eat.

"Anyone up for ramen?" Ren asked the girls before they hummed in agreement.

"I'm surprised you know how to disguise yourself, Kasumi." Sumire gave her 'twin' a compliment as she looked at her false identity: Kasumi gave a small color streak on her hair while having green contact lens on her left eye to presume herself as a girl with hetero-chromatic irises.

"Yeah, thanks. But we really need to work out with yours." Kasumi did not hesitate to judge Sumire's disguise, which is nearly identical to her previous disguise minus the pigtails.

"Maybe I should buy new clothes then. Senpai, can you help me find my fashion sense when we go back to Tokyo?" Ren nods as she hugged him tightly. "What will I ever do without you?"

As they settle down and ordered their food, Akechi appears along with Maruki. The former detective is currently sporting slicked-back hair while also pretending to be a hetero-chromatic person, which earns him a bicker with Kasumi.

"Hey! I thought I'm supposed to be the hetero-chromatic kid!" She pointed her finger at Akechi, who just smirks as he finds Kasumi amusing.

"Well, we could always portray ourselves as siblings and all."

Shiho sips at the hot choco and gives out a look that doesn't buy their tomfoolery. "I don't see how 'Jasone Watson' and 'Millee Strucker' are supposed to be siblings."

Both Kasumi and Akechi glare at each other until Akechi decides to remove his contacts.

"You win this round, Yoshizawa."

"Eat it, Pancake Ass."

Shiho notices Morgana's absence. "Hey, where's Mona?"

"He's currently hiding on top of the train. He said he wanted to feel the breeze, but I doubt he'll like how fast it's gonna be."

Maruki returns with their tickets, and right on cue their food is served. As they finished their meal and walk back to the station, Sumire softly speaks to Ren in a fight against sleepiness.

"Senpai."

"Hmm?"

"Don't you see this as home?"

"Not always. Like what my parents said, they forgot to keep me happy here in my life before Tokyo."

Sumire looked down, feeling guilty that she might have made him mad. Ren pulls her close to hold her shoulder as they walk.

"Don't look guilty, Sumi. Even I feel sad about it. I mean, Daisuke and Kana are my only friends since childhood. Being outcasted by them after the arrest wasn't any different than how my parents disowned me out of shame, but they tried to put effort into making me forgive them."

"And your parents?"

"They never bothered asking. They only asked if I had friends, good terms with Sojiro, and why I put myself in juvie until Shido's trial."

"So they never asked about me. But how did-"

"Mother kinda had an idea already and must have gossiped it to Father. Her mouth runs a lot when it's gossip or news that would wreck her nerves."

Sumire giggled as she heard her boyfriend talk. "Hypocrite much?"

"Pretty much."

The two stop under a lamppost and kiss for a short while. Unbeknownst to them, Shiho took a photo of them and ran off before she could get caught. As the lovers arrive in the station, they find Daisuke and Kana there as well.

"What in the actual fuck are you two doing here?" Ren hissed as he didn't want to make a commotion.

"Shiho told us about your plan..." Shiho ducked behind one of the benches. "... and we just came here to say goodbye until you come back here."

"Yeah. I know it's been a rough week for us, but we'll manage. We'll keep you two updated about our graduation rites, okay?"

Ren nods as he give them goodbye hugs. Shiho and Sumire followed as Kana gave the latter a compliment only girls would understand.

"Get him whipped good, okay?"

"I-I-I think so. I h-hope."

"Don't taint her mind with dirtiness, Kana."

"Shut up, Shiho."

As the train arrived, the team decides to sleep until they reach Tokyo. That is, when the train starts moving.

 

March 23, 20XX

Location: Shibuya, Tokyo
Time: 0630 hours

 

"Senpai."

"Ngh... ten more minutes."

"Babe, we're in Tokyo now."

"Ten more seconds."

"Ren-senpai, you do-"

Ren pecks Sumire in the lips to let her know he's awake as the two look outside the window. The semi-busy district of Shibuya at the early morning was a sight for sore eyes as Ren lets out a smile that was so genuine Sumire can only kiss him in the cheek to avoid losing that sight.

"Tokyo. Home." Kasumi pondered for a while. "At least it was until I fucked everything up."

Sumire's smile became a concerned frown as she looked at Kasumi, who sports a downcast expression that brought back bad memories of her world. Sumire shifts her way to Kasumi and reassures her that they will save Tokyo before anything else will go wrong. Kasumi can only show her a small smile before looking at a certain spot in the city that haunts her to this day.

Sumire, please stop!

Go away, Kasumi! You don't know anything!

Sumire, please stop and listen to me.

NO!

"Hey, are you okay?" Sumire snaps her out of her trance.

"Y-yeah." She lied, which caught Ren's attention.

Shibuya. Welcome to Shibuya.

The train doors open as the six feel the urban breeze once again. As soon as they arrive to Station Square, they immediately called a condominium realtor for their place to stay. Despite this, however....

"I can't join you guys."

"Same here."

"Although I appreciate the offer, I am going to check my old apartment nearby if it has been scrapped or occupied by someone else by now."

Sumire, Maruki, and Akechi have actual homes in Tokyo. Which means Ren, Kasumi (Millee), and Shiho are going to be on their own in the condo unit. After reaching the condominium, which is located near Dome Town, Ren and the two girls finally relax as they take in the essence of home.

"Feels good to be back." Shiho calmly stated.

"Yeah. As much as I want to head back to LeBlanc, Futaba might still have bugs planted in there." Ren admitted that he wants to stay in LeBlanc, but because Futaba's eavesdropping habit will NEVER go away he had to stay somewhere away from her ears.

"Your Futaba has vocal bugs, my Futaba has surveillance cameras the size of a fly." Kasumi let out a small laugh as Shiho then remembered something.

"Oh, yeah! Ren, there was a time that her Yusuke watched her Makoto dress up in skimpy clothing. Then he took screenshots and used it for his art. Poor guy had an entire canvass up his ass afterwards."

Ren can only laugh. As much as how things are different in Kasumi's timeline and their timeline, some things never change.

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence, Kichijoji
Time: 0710 hours

 

"I'm home!"

Sumire called out her father as she entered the house with her spare keys. As she slowly made her way to the living room, she took glances at her photos with Kasumi. Her Kasumi.

"Dad would have been so happy if only you weren't from another dimension."

She unties her bow and puts her glasses down as she hears someone talking on the phone.

"Yes, I am aware..... Okay. Understood. Thank you."

"Dad?"

"Sumire! Thank goodness, you're home!" He rushed to hug her with joy. 'I heard about what happened in Nayami. Your boyfriend had it bad, huh?"

"D-D-Dad!"

"Well, if you're okay... that means he's okay also."

"Yeah. Anyway..." Sumire began to choke on her words before she could even start talking.

"Yes? Is something wrong, sweetie?"

"Do I have to go back to school? My body's been aching all week."

Shinichi Yoshizawa can only laugh at his daughter's complaints. "Well, it that means skipping your finals exams today..."

SHIT. Sumire had completely forgotten about the final exams. As soon as she remembered, she dashed past her father, took a quick bath, brushed her teeth, and gave him a goodbye hug as she ran off in her Shujin uniform. He proceeded  to unpack her stuff for her when three particular things fell off.

"Hmm?" He wondered as he picked up a black masquerade mask, a notebook labeled 'Plans vs. Kirijo & Manahashi', and her golden ribbon, stained with blood.

"What are you up to, my dear child?"

 

Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 0830

 

"Holy moly, Ms. Kawakami! Sorry I'm late!"

Sumire caught everyone's attention as she bowed politely and apologized. She gets surprised, however, to see Kawakami giving out a smug grin as she gave her papers.

"Don't worry. I know what really happened, Yoshizawa-san."

As she began answering her tests (and impressively finished it faster despite being late), she took a deep sigh and decided to wait it off until the exams are done. During lunchtime, she cautiously dodged Futaba, who is now hanging out with Kaoru Iwai, the adopted son of the Thieves' resident weapons supplier Munehisa Iwai. Kawakami managed to catch her alone in the rooftop as she went on for a one-on-one talk.

"Care to share, Sumire Yoshizawa?"

Sumire gulped as she began shaking out of fear. She turned to face Kawakami and bowed furiously.

"ImsorryImissedclassforaweek!IjustfeellikevisitingRenforawhileuntiltherewereShadowspoppingouta-"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down, kiddo." Kawakami was about to have a headache from listening to Sumire's rapid apology. Rather than asking her to repeat the explanation, she went straight to the point.

"Have you and Ren been doing Phantom Thief work again?"

The redhead's wide-eyed shock gave it away. "Y-y-you know about u-u-us?"

"Well, to be honest.... yes. Your boyfriend isn't exactly a good keeper of secrets."

"Y-y-you know about our r-r-relationship too!?"

"Uh, yeah. He did try to flirt with you when Kamoshida was still touring you with that vile look of his." Kawakami cringed at the fact that she saw him as a friend until he confessed to his crimes.

"Oh. I see...."

"Plus, there was the school festival... the practices in in the gym... your posts of your Valentines and White Day dates..."

Sumire couldn't get any redder than this. To add the final nails to the coffin, Kawakami pulls out her phone and shows her the caught photograph of the Thieves when they were escaping from the helicopters. Did he hold my waist when we were running? Must have been the adrenaline rush since I never knew.

"Anyway, I'm actually glad you survived the first day of exams. Though I will also presume you just came back?" Sumire nods in confirmation. "So I'm guessing he's here also?" Sumire nods again, but with a cherry-red face this time.

Kawakami stands up and pats her head. "He's quite a charmer, you know. Keep him well."

 

Location: LeBlanc Cafe
Time: 1600 hours

 

Futaba slumps on the booth as she complained about the final exams.

"The final round began, and I already lost a lot of health." She looked at Sojiro, who was cooking his infamous curry. "Sojiro, I hunger!"

"I know, I know. Take it easy." The doorbell rang as both Sakuras looked at who entered.

"Mmmm! This is such a relaxing place, Yu! We really should read small books about places like this one."

"But you barely read anything that peaks your curiosity."

Futaba can only squeal and shout with excitement.

"HOLY SHIT, IT'S RISETTE! IN LEBLANC!"

Yu and Rise laugh as the latter then spoke shamelessly. "I guess my identity is out. It must be because of my looks, right Senpai?"

"Crap, your boyfriend is older than you?" Sojiro received confused looks from Yu and Rise while receiving a paper ball thrown at him by Futaba.

"Is something wrong with that?" Yu asked without offending the old geezer.

"No. Not at all. You seem to remind me of a kid I used to house here a long time ago."

Rise whispered to Yu without anyone else hearing. "You sure this is where Amamiya-kun lives?"

Sojiro offered his hospitality to the two lovebirds. "There's curry available. Would you two like some?"

"Yes, please! And one Cuban cup, please!"

"I'll take your offer as well, but a Blue Mountain for me instead."

Sojiro gave a smile and told them to wait for their orders. Meanwhile, Futaba took a photo to the group chat.

 

"OracleSakura: GUYS! RISETTE! IN LEBLANC!

OracleSakura sent a photo

SkullSakamoto: FOR REAL!? THE HELL, FUTABA!?

OracleSakura: Whatcha getting mad at me for?

SkullSakamoto: I'm currently in my rehab and this happens! Can ya tell them how long they'll stay there?"

 

Futaba asked the couple on how long they'll stay in Leblanc as she explained that her friends will join later on. Rise and Yu gladly answered that they will stay until closing time, which surprised Sojiro.

"Are you sure? I mean, I can always ask you for more orders and-"

"It's okay, Sir. We'll keep paying as long as we stay here. We don't want to waste your time stressing out about us."

Rise pulls out 20,000 yen as Sojiro then asks for their future orders. Futaba takes another photo and sends it.

 

"OracleSakura sent a photo

SkullSakamoto: Hell yeah!

FoxKitagawa: Hmm? The blossoming romance of a pop star and her beloved as they give a warm feeling to Sakura-san.... the brilliance of it can be perfect for my next artwork!

PantherTakamaki: No way! How are they there and I am not?

FoxKitagawa: But aren't you on your way there though?

PantherTakamaki: The trains are slowing down for some reason. So I'm taking a bike going there.

NoirOkumura: Aw, how wonderful! LeBlanc is surely gonna be recognized in no time!

QueenNiijima: Ann, where did you get the bike?

PantherTakamaki: I paid 15000 yen for this. It may be cheap, but it's better than marching to LeBlanc and arriving with sweat all over me.

QueenNiijima: Well, it wouldn't hurt asking them for an autograph.

SkullSakamoto: Screw an autograph! A photo with her is already a blessing!

NoirOkumura: Yes, it is! I agree with Ryuji!"

 

They didn't expect that they inadvertently added Ren in their chat despite it being a Ren-less Phantom Chat.

 

"JokerAmamiya: Rise in LeBlanc? I'm impressed."

 

Futaba didn't like the fact that Ren was literally in their secret chat. And as she slammed her head to the table, Yu and Rise just shrugged.

 

Location: Sunrise Residences, Suidobashi
Time: 1624 hours

 

"Not good."

Shiho and Kasumi spoke in unison as they reviewed the photo of Rise and Yu in LeBlanc. Ren kept a straight face as he waited for Sumire and Akechi to join them after alerted the two.

"Hey, what if they catch us and all? Aren't we gonna be screwed?"

"I can always be the diversion. Seeing a ghost isn't exactly a good thing for most people." Kasumi offered to be bait if the time comes.

Shiho rejected the idea and offered to be the bait instead. "No way, Kasumi. I'm gonna be the bait. Ann, Ryuji, Niijima-senpai, Okumura-senpai, and probably Kitagawa know me a lot so my appearance should raise questions."

Ren rejected both of their ideas and clarified their mission objective. "We are not supposed to be seen or caught by anyone who is not going to be helpful for us. As much as we want to pull this off with a little chaos, it's better that we don't have chaos at all."

The girls stayed quiet until they read Ann's latest message, which now puts a part of their mission at risk.

 

"PantherTakamaki: Why is Morgana here?"

 

They forgot he was with them on the way here. How did he forget about the plan!?

Chapter Text

March 23, 20XX

Location: Sunrise Residences, Suidobashi
Time: 1630 hours

 

"PantherTakamaki: Why is Morgana here?

PantherTakamaki sent a photo"

 

Fear ran on the trio's blood as they notice Morgana casually strolling in Yongen-Jaya.

"Goddamnit, Mona!" Shiho gritted her teeth as she buried her face with a pillow.

"I dunno if the cat is dumb with the plan or dumb for Ann again." Ren groaned as he gave the phone to Kasumi.

"I got an idea...." Kasumi immediately dialed Ann's number, which made Ren panic.

"What are you doing?!"

"Just say that Morgana got lost and you want him home."

"Will that even work? This is Ann we're talking about."

"The very same ditzy blonde we've become friends with."

"Who happened to find out about my lies before our friendship went deep."

"Hello? Ren?"

Without a second to lose, Ren grabs the phone and talks to Ann.

"Hey, Ann! Uh, how's New York?"

"You know I'm in Tokyo, Ren. You just messaged in the chat regarding Risette in LeBlanc, so you should have noticed my messages."

Ren slowly covered the recording part of the phone to whisper to Kasumi. "Toldja."

"Anyway, are you looking for Morgana? He happens to be here f-"

"LADY ANN!"

"Damnit, Mona! Qwuiff powshing on me!"

From the sounds of it, Morgana IS really dumb for Ann. Kasumi can only grimace as she dressed up.

"I'm getting that cat. Keep them stalling." She immediately left without hesitation.

"Ren? You still there?"

"Yeah, yeah. No wonder I haven't heard him the whole day." He gave an awkward laugh that only made Shiho laugh.

"Alright, so I don't want to keep Morgana with us coz he might disturb us in our study session. (Hey, I won't disturb you!) Buuuuuut if Sumire-chan is back in Tokyo, you can call her to pick Morgana up. Maybe she might hold on to him until she goes back to your hometown...."

Ann was obviously teasing him (and torturing herself) as she dared Ren to contact Sumire to pick him up. However, Ren had a better idea.

"Hey, can you give the phone to Morgana for a sec?"

"Huh? You want him to talk to you in the middle of the street?"

"There's a laundromat across LeBlanc. Let him use your phone there."

"Alright then. Mona, come on."

Ren then carefully hears Ann and Morgana walk their way to the laundromat. As soon as she arrives, she gives the phone to Morgana.

"Should I put this on loudspeaker or- "

"No. I wish to speak with him alone."

Ann took this as a warning for Morgana and leaves him alone while she buys snacks. Morgana then answers the phone.

"Hello?"

"You moron! You forgot the plan, didn't you?" Shiho jumped out of the couch as Ren began scolding the cat.

"What plan? I thought we're supposed to go to LeBlanc."

"I told you earlier that we will stay off Futaba's grid for the entirety of this mission. Now Ann knows that you're here...."

"When the hell did y- Why didn't anyone of you wake me up in the train anyway?!"

"You said you wanted to try independence when we reach Tokyo. I was expecting you to be responsible, too."

 

Location: Yongen-Jaya
Time: 1640 hours

Morgana sighs as Ann is nowhere in sight.

"So what should I do then, Ren?"

"Kasumi is on her way to get you, but you need to make sure Ann doesn't suspect a thing when she arrives. Got it?"

"Wouldn't she mistaken her for Sumire though?"

Ren didn't think that through. Even if Kasumi does use her false German identity, her appearance will not get away from Ann's thorough analysis.

"Shit."

"Lady Ann's coming back. How should I play along?"

"She thinks you strayed off alone. Better pretend like it."

"You two done?"

Ann started munching off some chips as she returned.

"Yeah, Lady Ann. We're done. He's sending someone."

"Is it his beloved Sumire?" She tried to coo.

"Aren't you at the very least sad about it?" Ren asked with both a teasing and worrisome tone.

"Sh-shut up! I told you I'm moving on from that part of life."

Ann technically lied to Ren. Though she still fell in love with him, a part of her is broken after he picked Sumire for the role of girlfriend. And damn it all if she still felt that jealousy for nearly a year now.

"Anyway, I'll hold on to Morgana for now. Maybe Boss can-"

She stops talking after she comes face to face with a girl wearing sunglasses and having a walking stick.

"Hello." The girl greeted with a nonchalant tone.

"Uh, hi there. May I help you?" Ann greeted her back awkwardly.

"I'm here to collect Morgana."

"WHAT? COLLECT? WHAT AM I, A TOY?!" Morgana yelled with fury.

"I'm sorry, but how do you-"

"I can hear Millee from here. Glad you two finally met."

"Give me a moment, please." Ann grabs her phone back and hisses at Ren with a flustered expression. "You didn't tell me you sent a BLIND girl to pick up Morgana!"

Ren can be heard chuckling on the other end, making Ann pout even further. "Don't worry. She may be blind, but she is capable of handling herself."

Ann sighed in defeat, but her kindness began to convince her for something else.

"Is it okay if I let her join us in LeBlanc? I'll make sure Futaba is sensitive enough to consider Miss....?"

"Millee. Millee Strucker."

Ann was surprised. "Oh, you're German? You don't look like it."

"I'm adopted." Kasumi's acting really got a hold of Ann, who then expressed pity and guilt.

"Oh. I'm very sorry. Would you like me to treat you to something?"

Ren (on the other end) and Kasumi cautiously listened to Ann as she spoke further.

"I know you're from around here and all... and Ren is a douchebag for sending you to get Morgana (I detest that, Ann Takamaki.) But the least I can do is make you feel welcome by us here in Yongen."

"Do you live here?"

"I'm sleeping in the attic of the cafe across us."

 

Location: Sunrise Residences
Time: 1652 hours

Lucky for Ren, his coughs were inaudible to Ann's ears while Shiho spat her coffee out.

"What the fuck?" Ren blurted out.

"Looks like someone misses you badly." Shiho teased as she recovers from her reaction.

"Why not you spit your drink again?" Ren fired back as Shiho goes back to the mini-kitchen.

"Ren, I'm gonna treat your friend and Morgana to LeBlanc for a while.That is, if it's okay with you."

Ren can only nod in defeat as he told Ann that it's alright. She hangs up afterwards, leaving Ren and Shiho to wonder what is gonna happen in LeBlanc.

 

Location: LeBlanc Cafe
Time: 1700 hours

 

"MONA-CHAN!"

"Lookie-lookie, it's Morgana!"

"The cat's here?"

Morgana is greeted by many reactions from the Phantom Thieves, however what came next was more of a sweat-inducing moment.

"Look, Yu-senpai! It's that cat we saw a few days ago!"

Yu turned and sees Ann holding Morgana, who looks at him not as a hostile, but as a person who is clueless about his appearance.

"Ah, this is relaxing." Morgana lays down on Haru's lap as purred his way with comfort.

"Oh, by the way," Ann went back to the door, "this here is Ren's friend, Millee Strucker! She'll be bringing Morgana back to Nayami."

Kasumi slowly bowed to the group to make sure her sunglasses does not fall off. Ryuji was the first to speak up.

"Dude, is Ren being a dumbass or what?"

Makoto followed. "Ryuji's right. Ren must be stupid enough to ask a blind girl to bring Morgana back to his home."

Kasumi cleared her throat as she explained herself with a German accent. "Well, my friend can be aloof most of the time. But I assure you that I am capable of handling myself."

"Wow, with a strong German accent too! You should take pointers in accents from her, Ann!" Futaba snickered as Ann scrunched her face at the little gremlin. This does not escape Rise and Yu, who have been observing her for a short while.

"Senpai?"

"It's gotta be a disguise. But they're falling for it, though."

Sojiro approaches Kasumi and offers her a menu before remembering that she "can't see" it and instead dictates the orders.

"Jamaican, please."

"Coming right up. I hope you're doing well with yourself." Sojiro gave a concerned look as he studied Kasumi's appearance. Suddenly, the doorbell rings as a young girl arrives.

"Good afternoon, guys!" Sumire greeted her friends, but froze after looking at Rise and Yu.

"Oh, are you Sumire Yoshizawa? That gymnast all-star who won the Malaysian tournament?" Rise began to play dumb as Yu played along.

"Yeah, it's nice to finally meet you. My girlfriend and I saw your performance on TV. Truly phenomenal!"

Sumire can't help but feel heat on her cheeks, even if they are coming from people she just kicked ass with the previous week. "W-W-Why, thank you...."

Ann spoke up as she remembered Kasumi. "Hey, Sumire-chan. Can you tell your boyfriend to not be an ass and send a blind girl to get Morgana?"

"H-Huh?!"

Sumire surveyed the area until she spotted Morgana laying on Haru's lap. Damn it, Morgana-senpai! You're not following the plan! Sumire internally scolded the cat as she cautiously approached Kasumi, who is still sporting the blind girl persona.

"What are you doing here?" She whispered.

"Getting the stupid cat."

"Does Senpai know?"

"Yep."

"He seems relaxed."

"...... a little too relaxed."

Sumire stares at Kasumi, then at Ann.

"Ann-senpai, I didn't know you're back here."

"I'm only here for a week, though. So I'm gonna be looking forward to hanging out with you guys!"

Sumire beamed a smile as she asked Ann where's staying, only to choke on her water as Ann told her she sleeps in LeBlanc's attic.

As night began to fall, the team plus Rise and Yu began to play Tycoon out of boredom. Meanwhile, Ann guides Sumire, Morgana, and Kasumi to the main road to get a taxi. Unaware to the girls, Yusuke actually followed them as he eyed Kasumi. Ann found out after he stumbled onto a trash can and caused noise.

"Jeez, Yusuke! What are you doing this time?" She groaned as she picked him up.

"My apologies," Yusuke began speaking, "but I couldn't help but notice Miss Strucker's stunning beauty behind the blindness."

Kasumi blushed hard. My Yusuke was never this smooth with words. If he does some weird wording, then I'll be relieved, she thought to herself. She then responded to Yusuke's comment as she shook off the feeling, "Why thank you. I guess even a decent man like you is charming enough to go for a woman like Miss Takamaki or Miss Yoshizawa here."

"Kas-Millee!" Sumire was close to exposing her identity as she got flustered by Kasumi's answer.

"Hey, how come a blind girl like you can charm your way to us?" Ann turned red out of flattered embarrassment.

"It is only natural for me to give the best comments."

"I guess we should be going now." Sumire looked down at Morgana, who is fast asleep. "Mona looks really tired."

Ann and Yusuke nod as they gave each other farewell hugs. Out of impulse, Ann hugs Kasumi, whose sunglasses dropped and revealed her appearance to Yusuke. Despite a shocked expression, Yusuke decides to remain quiet about it as he gave her sunglasses back behind Ann. Sumire sighed in relief as they bid them goodbye. Ann did not let the feeling of hugging Kasumi go away as she pondered with Yusuke.

"That's odd." she muttered. "Why did it feel so familiar for some reason?"

"What do you mean?" Yusuke said with a blank expression.

"Like, I hugged that Millee girl, right? But for some reason, it felt like I know the girl longer than I should have."

"It must be out of your kindness that you did so."

"Yeah, but still though.... it either felt like hugging a ghost or hugging Sumire. Or both."

Yusuke had a feeling that he knew who 'Millee' is, but kept it to himself as he critically thinks of an explanation for it.

"Hey, uh, are you okay?" Ann waved her hand on his face.

"Huh? Sorry. I was thinking about your comment about the blind girl."

Ann stayed quiet until she had a thought that popped out.

"What if she wasn't blind?"

"What do you mean?"

"Her walking stick is still here." She pointed at the stick that was still leaning on the wall after Yusuke crashed to the trash can earlier.

Yusuke inquired Ann about her accusation. "Hmmm.... If she wasn't blind, why would Sumire volunteer to help her then?"

Ann's expression went serious. "Something's up. As much as I trust Sumire and Morgana, I'm now getting red flags about this Millee girl. Ren should have known better."

As they enter LeBlanc, they are greeted by a shirtless Narukami as he played his cards to win Tycoon again.

"Behold the Myriad of Truths!"

"Go, Yu!" Rise cheerfully supported her boyfriend.

"What?! For real?" Ryuji hung his head in defeat as he slumped back down to the booth.

"I can't believe I got outsmarted by Mr. Narukami." Makoto was baffled by his consecutive win streak.

"We keep losing to him. And he doesn't even have a shirt anymore!" Futaba temporarily ogled at Yu's chiseled torso before Sojiro tosses a bean at her face.

"Futaba..."

"Sorry, Sojiro. Can't help it. He's hooooot."

Sojiro sighed as he turned to Ann and Yusuke. "Ann-chan, do me a favor and lock up. Make sure our guests aren't having too much fun."

Ann can only pinch her nose bridge in irritation. Yusuke then stared at the walking stick of Kasumi, his eyes squinting after examining it.

"Just who are you, Millee Strucker?"

 

Location: Sunrise Residences
Time: 1945 hours

 

"Damnit, Morgana."

"Sorry..."

Ren and Morgana began their little lecture while Kasumi washes up. Sumire and Shiho relax on the couch while Akechi (who joined them hours earlier) is in the middle of a call. After Kasumi finished dressing up, she approached Sumire and told her about the accident.

"So Kitagawa-senpai saw the real you?" Sumire worried.

"I'm just surprised he just put my sunglasses on for me." Kasumi added.

"Ann might figure it out by now. Coz for a blind person, you sure came back here without your walking stick." Shiho spoke with her eyebrows furrowed. Kasumi then checked her disguise and realized Shiho was right.

"Shit."

Ren then finished scolding Morgana and began to talk to Akechi, who finished his call.

"How's the plan to visit Shido?" Ren seriously inquired.

"It'll work out well tonight. The guards will be bribed accordingly as I venture my way as the last visitor." Akechi flashed a cocky grin as he slides a small pistol onto his sleeve.

"You do know that they have metal detectors for the weapons. And even if you do want to gut Shido, not all guards will take it lightly."

"It will all come down to what will happen in there."

Shiho puts her jacket on and gestures Akechi to the door. "Let's go already. Visitation hours are until 9 pm, y'know."

Akechi huffed at Shiho. "Impatient now, are we?"

"I just have something personal to deal with."

Ren knew that her role in the prison infiltration would mean running into Kamoshida, who ruined Shiho's life. But before he can speak up about it, Shiho shows him a soft smile as she reassures him.

"Don't worry. I'll be fine." Her words became so dark that Akechi laughed with impression. "If all else fails, I'll find something to wreck havoc with."

"You're really an interesting individual, Suzui."

"Don't try to hit on me."

 

Location: Tokyo Maximum Correctional Facility
Time: 2045 hours

 

Not wasting any time at all, Shiho and Akechi take a taxi to the prison where they meet up with Maruki. They then approach the first set of guards and bribe them 15,000 yen each as they are given entry. As they approach the second set of guards, they bribe them with 20,000 yen each until they reach the visitors' lounge. The sounds of a rusty door opening alerted the group as a bald man with tinted sunglasses is escorted by a guard and placed to talk with them. The guard is then bribed 30,000 yen and aims a gun at Shido's head as Maruki began talking.

"It's been a while, Shido." He spoke coldly as he stares at him.

Shido laughs as he is somewhat relieved from the threatening tension. "Takuto Maruki. Unbelievable."

"How does it feel to be behind bars?"

"Comforting, if you ask me." Shido gave out a sly grin as he leaned forward. "Better here than getting some assassin to kill me on the inside."

A bullet is planted between Maruki and Shido. A bullet that can only come from a weapon Shido knows very well.

"I see you brought him with you in this lovely visit."

Akechi appears out of the dark as he keeps his pistol raised. "Hello, Father." Shido growled at hearing the f word. "I told you never to call me that."

"How can I? You raped my mother and left us for death."

"I'm surprised you're not dead."

"Apparently, I'm just a mere ghost to your feeble eyes. Even if you try doing something, the guard behind you can just do me a favor and shoot you point blank to lessen my worries." Akechi coldly addressed to Shido before lowering his gun. "But first, we're going to need some information from you."

Shido starts laughing maniacally and claps his hands as it irritates Akechi further. "This is something out of the ordinary."

"Zip it, you bald piece of shit. We want answers, not jokes."

"Okay then, son. What is it you wish to ask me?"

Maruki showed Shido a piece of paper with several things in all caps. "You were supposed to hold a partnership with the Kirijo Corporation, right?"

"Ah, Mitsuru Kirijo." Shido reviewed the paper as he continued. "I'm guessing the bitch hasn't given up yet in her pursuit for security."

"Indeed, she hasn't." Maruki confirmed, "And now, she has your right-hand to go further with it."

Shido shot a look that made Akechi grin with pleasure. "Manahashi? What the hell is that rat doing with her?"

Maruki tapped the glass to let him know what was in the paper. Project Sacrificial LambYggdrasil, and a few other projects the group has yet to confirm.

"And here I thought Kirijo was crazy. She's crazier than I thought, considering these projects."

"Of course, she is crazier. She nearly murdered us with her affiliation with Manahashi and his counterpart."

Akechi's words peaked Shido's curiosity as he looked at the guard behind him. He proposed an extra 10,000 yen bribe if he lets this conversation be private. The guard complies and leaves them alone.

"Impressive negotiation."

"There's a reason why I became a chairperson in the first place."

"Akechi," Maruki ordered the young assassin, "hammer him the details on what we know so far."

Akechi then explained to Shido about the events that occurred and their tip from an 'anonymous' source.

"So Manahashi's craziness and Kirijo's craziness have aligned." Shido gave a tired look as he explained what he meant. "You know, even evil has its standards."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"I only wanted to dominate this world by using Wakaba Ishiki's cognitive psience crap, and then I'll be satisfied. Manahashi went nuts by saying there are other worlds to become kings of the universe, but I damn well know that I am not capable of ruling an entire galaxy like some overlord."

"So keeping yourself afloat as the world sinks is enough for you? I'm actually glad the Phantom Thieves changed your heart, Shido-san." Maruki spoke without hesitating to insult him.

"Be glad I am not like Kenzo who really wanted to go for that quantum physics crap."

Shiho finally spoke up after remaining silent for nearly 30 minutes, which startled the guys.

"Regardless on whose plan it is, we are running out of time. We have less than 5 days before this all goes to hell."

Shido then asked Shiho with a cold voice.

"Tell me: what makes you think I will help you with this?"

Shiho responded with a colder tone.

"Manahashi killed everyone in the other world. Including you."

"He killed the Phantom Thieves of the other world? And he had the balls to kill me after the job was finished?"

Shido laughed and laughed and laughed.

"That motherfucking bastard..." He considered their offer. "Alright, I'll help you out in this. Maybe when Kirijo is put on trial, I can testify to put more fuel to her fire."

"How long are you stuck in this God-forsaken place?"

"Two life sentences. And I only finished one year."

Shido then asked Maruki for a pen. After receiving the pen, he wrote down various addresses that looked like Kirijo Corp sites.

"I heard she is going to sponsor something in the Platinum Star Hotel in Ginza. Better deal with that first."

The buzzer sounds off, meaning that their time has ended. The guard returns and picks up Shido as Akechi gives him the extra bribe. Both father and son nod at each other as another prisoner is brought in.

"I'll handle this one. It won't take long." Shiho sternly told them as she remained. A mixture of anger and fear wrap around her as she is now face to face with the prisoner.

"Well, if it ain't Shiho Suzui." Suguru Kamoshida spoke with sarcasmtic joy.

"Long time no see, child fucker." Shiho did not hesitate to brand him. "How's life behind bars?"

"Not exactly comfortable. You get to be known for one thing, then you get dethroned by another."

"Tch! Fame is still what you care for?"

"I was just stating the obvious." Kamoshida noticed that Shiho isn't flinching. "You grew tougher since last time."

"Fuck off."

"Whoa, there. Even foul-mouthed like Amamiya and his friends."

"At the very least, they treat me better than the likes of you."

"Why bother coming here then?" Kamoshida looked at her dead in the eye.

"Just want to let you know that even though you killed my hopes and dreams, you never killed me at all. For the most part, I have had nightmares ever since that day. My mind would switch between me dying or you dying. You may have given all Shujin students traumatizing moments, broken promises, and even abusive authority..... but there are souls which you will never break." Shiho coldly but firmly said to him.

Kamoshida gave an amused looked at Shiho's resolve. He couldn't say any words as he and Shiho stared daggers at each other.

"In a way, I gotta thank you for this. You forced the old Shiho Suzui to die, only for the new Shiho Suzui to grow out of her shell."

"That was unexpected, Suzui."

The buzzer sounds, meaning their time is up. Both of them stand from their seats and head for their respective exits. Before he could step out, Kamoshida asks Shiho one last thing.

"Suzui."

"What?"

"Who gave you that courage to confront me after all these years?"

Feeling cocky about herself, Shiho gave a mischievous grin and answered vaguely. "Just some people I met." After leaving the correctional facility, the trio then return to their respective homes. Akechi then called Ren to make an early-morning emergency meeting. After agreeing to it, Ren picks up Shiho from the station and escorts her back to the condominium.

 

Location: LeBlanc Cafe
Time: 2200 hours

 

Despite closing hours, Ann tries to practice brewing coffee on her own as she looks at the group chat.

 

"OracleSakura: What do you mean Ren's blind girl isn't who she thinks she is?

FoxKitagawa: Ann had a suspicion about it. And after analyzing her walking stick, I seem to agree with her."

 

The old Thieves discuss on the sudden appearance of Millee Strucker (a.k.a. Kasumi Yoshizawa), and they made sure Ren is not in the chat anymore.

 

"QueenNiijima: Yusuke, why do you have her walking stick??

FoxKitagawa: Ann and I found it leaning on a wall after I was stuck in a trash can.

PantherTakamaki: If only you could catch up to us like a normal person!

SkullSakamoto: Well, what have you learned so far?

FoxKitagawa: The craftsmanship of the stick is well-carved and given a smooth texture as it stays parallel to its wielder.

SkullSakamoto: Cut to the chase, Yusuke.

FoxKitagawa: The stick is created by me, but I do not remember carving anything at all.

NoirOkumura: Do you think it belonged to Madarame, Kitagawa-kun?

FoxKitagawa: No, I believe not. Madarame never gave us gifts except more art materials.

PantherTakamaki: At any rate, I have two conclusions: Either Ren is involved in this and intentionally let Morgana come here..... or the blind girl isn't exactly who she is.

QueenNiijima: I feel concern as well for Morgana. What if Ren is just using him as a pawn?

OracleSakura: Or what if this Millee lady is gonna dissect him for alien parts?

QueenNiijima: Futaba.

PantherTakamaki: Guys, we need to start our investigation now. Based on what I've talked with Rise-san and her boyfriend, there is an event in Platinum Star Hotel in Ginza, and she invited me to be her partner when she opens up the event with her latest hit.

SkullSakamoto: FOR REAL!?

FoxKitagawa: You seem riled up.

QueenNiijiima: That photo of you and Risette isn't enough, Ryuji?

SkullSakamoto: It WAS until Ann said the partnership crap.

NoirOkumura: Speaking of Kujikawa-san, didn't anyone remember earlier?"

 

Earlier, 1913 hours

 

Yu and Rise began making out by the booths as Sojiro left them alone to fish in Ichigaya. Ann was wondering why and how they were making out until she noticed a bottle of alcohol. She immediately called out the prime suspect among the group.

"Ryuji!"

Ryuji sprang up after slumping down in the booth. "What-what?!"

"You gave them alcohol, didn't you?" She picked up the empty bottle and shoved it on his face.

"Like hell, I did!"

Rise broke their kiss and apologized to Ann woozily. "S-sorry, Takamaki-san..... the old guy just recommended this to see if it still has its taste. Yu and I chugged a lot of it."

Ann can only sigh in disbelief as she turned to Yusuke, who was leaving ahead. "Going home already?"

Yusuke paused as he opened the door, but he showed Ann the stick and told her he will examine it in his room. Ann gave a thumbs-up as he continues his leave. She then begins to tell everyone left to clean up for the night.

"Yu-senpai, let's continue our wild night in our hotel now...." She sung like a siren to Yu as the Phantom Thieves around them felt heat on their faces.

"Uh, you don't h-have to say that out l-loud, Risette." Makoto fought her trembling embarrassment.

"You can call me Rise, Niijima-chan."

"Right. My apologies." As Makoto rose from her bow, she was facing in front of Rise's chest, blushing harder than usual.

"Oh? Feeling shy about these?" Her poking didn't help either as Ryuji scooted behind the counter while Ann and Haru look up in the ceiling. "Don't worry, Niijima-chan. Perky chests like ours have better sensation, so go find a guy who wouldn't care about how big or how soft boobs are."

Ryuji slammed his head as he gave in to his dirty thoughts. "Damnit, Boss."

Futaba, on the other hand, blasted her music to high volume to avoid the commotion.

"Rise, come on. We gotta go." Yu turned to Ann and thanked her. However, Rise's mouth just won't shut up as what she blurted next placed tension everywhere.

"We didn't see Amamiya-kun today, though."

!!!

"Rise...."

"All we saw was his cat. And don't call me crazy when I heard it talking in its sleep."

!!!!!!

"Rise..." Yu's warnings were getting heavier.

"And then Sumire Yoshizawa and her dead twin showed up here and drank Jamaican coffee. Jamaican!" Rise obnoxiously laughs as Yu decides to carry her in a bridal manner.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Look at me, world! I'm getting married tonight!"

"Uh, d-don't mind her! She has low alcohol tolerance...." Yu gave an awkward chuckle after saying this.

"No, it's fine!" Haru chimed to release the awkward air. "Will you come back here again some time?"

"HELL YEAH!" Rise's words alone kinda answered for Yu already.

"I guess she already said it. Uh, have a-"

Before Yu can finish his farewell, Rise jumped out a rushed to the Sayuri painting.

"Aww, Yu-senpai! Look at this painting... so fascinating."

Yu examined the painting as he went familiar with the art style and contour. A woman with a downcast face as she looks at a sleeping infant held in her arms. The coloring is somewhat a standout, but its message proved otherwise.

"Sayuri...." he muttered. ".... the artwork that former legendary artist Ichiryusai Madarame was arrested for counterfeiting. But this is very different..."

Rise turned to the group and asked Futaba as she pointed her finger at her.

"You!"

"Me?"

"Yeah, you! Where did your dad buy this?"

"H-huh? How would I know? Inari's the one who-" Futaba was cut off by Makoto's death glare. "He knows who and where it came from."

"I see. It's quite wonderful. But wanna know what's more wonderful?"

"What?"

"Being a member of the Phantom Thieves! Hi-yaa!" Rise made a very weird fighting stance as Yu had to drag her instead.

"A-a-anyway, we'll be coming back soon! Thanks for the coffee and food!"

"Yeah, and tell the old man to bring more beer!"

As the two left LeBlanc, Yu shook her body to get her active again.

"Rise, did you realize what you have done?" Yu panicked.

"What did I do?" Rise asked dumbly.

"You blew our cover because we got drunk."

"Blew our- WAIT, SENPAI! I didn't mean to blow us!" Rise whined to avoid getting a scolding from Narukami.

"Let's just go to the hotel. We gotta prep up. We'll talk more there." Yu suggested, since the talk is gonna be a long one.

As the two head for the station, the Phantom Thieves in LeBlanc remained quiet. Everything went really awkward.

 

Present time, 2213 hours

 

"PantherTakamaki: Yeah. I wanna know how they were smart enough to figure out about Ren, Sumire, and Morgana.

OracleSakura: Can we talk about how mad you were at Ryuji? You were like, "Ryuji, you can stop jacking off under the counter."

SkullSakamoto: The hell! You've been watching me?!

OracleSakura: Bugs, remember?

QueenNiijima: I don't see how bugs work when a guy is m-

PantherTakamaki: You DON'T wanna know, Makoto. Unless you've heard its sounds already.

QueenNiijima is now offline.

FoxKitagawa: Why is she suddenly offline?

NoirOkumura: Must be out of embarrassment.

SkullSakamoto: You know, Makoto was about to say the M word. Do you think she-

PantherTakamaki: BACK TO THE MATTER AT HAND

OracleSakura: Well, what do we do now? She heard Mona talking, she was pissed that Ren wasn't around, she was surprised Sumire was drinking Jamaican...

PantherTakamaki: That's the part that disturbs me. She said "Sumire Yoshizawa and her dead twin".

QueenNiijima is now online.

QueenNiijima: Sorry. Had to bury my head in shame.

FoxKitagawa: So you admit to-

QueenNiijima: As you were saying, Ann?

PantherTakamaki: Sumire Yoshizawa and her dead twin. Was it me or is Rise a ghost whisperer?

NoirOkumura: That's a bit far-fetched now, Ann-chan.

QueenNiijima: I hope she was just drunk when she said the dead twin part.

PantherTakamaki: I have a hunch, but she and Mr. Narukami might be Persona users.

QueenNiijima: Indeed. Only a Persona user would hear Morgana, sleep-talking or talking with his condescending voice.

NoirOkumura: What do you suggest, Mako-chan?

QueenNiijima: We'll take her offer. Ann, you'll perform with Rise while Yusuke will continue his task in meeting with Mitsuru Kirijo. Futaba, I need you to hack the cameras on the night of the event and see if anything might be worth the catch. Noir, you'll be an honorary guest in this one... so you'll be the distraction during the ball. Ryuji, you and I will be on lookout with binoculars. Any objections?

....

QueenNiijima: Good. Get some sleep, everyone."

 

Ann then looks at where Sumire sat with Kasumi. Dead twin, huh... She thought as she sipped her coffee. That Millee girl had a warm feeling similar to Sumire's. If what Rise said is true, then Millee is actually a doppelganger of Sumire. I gotta warn Sumire and Ren about this. This is not good.

Unbeknownst to her, someone is staring at her from the cafe's door.

Chapter Text

March 24, 20XX

Location: Kirijo Corporations Research Center , 10 kilometers near Iwatodai
Time: 0700 hours

 

"What do you mean 'We have no clearance'?!"

At the early hours of the day, Fuuka Yamagishi did not expect herself to be denied permission to enter her own friend's special headquarters.

"I'm sorry, but I have not received word from Kirijo-san about your appointments." The receptionist courteously informed them.

"You can't be serious, right? I'm one of Kirijo-san's closest friends and she won't give us permission to enter the premises?"

Behind Fuuka, Yukari can only shake her head as Mitsuru is not answering calls. She turns to Chie, Teddie, and Zenkichi (who somehow brought his daughter Akane with him) and tells them the bad news.

"Well," Zenkichi began to doubt, "so much for our first day of investigating." He knelt down to Akane and asked her if she wanted snacks, to which she nodded eagerly.

"We'll just be down the road. Blondie, you coming?"

Teddie went along with them as he started mentioning the kinds of snacks he wants to eat.

"Can we call Kurosawa-san instead?" Yukari carefully asked Fuuka, who is beginning to panic.

"H-huh? Oh, sure. Maybe he could help us."

"I can't promise you he'll answer, though."

As Yukari dialed Kurosawa's number, she began to notice the area becoming shrouded in mist. She immediately erased the number and speed-dialed Zenkichi. Meanwhile, Akane and Teddie were eating their ice cream when Zenkichi answered the phone.

"Hello? Takeba?"

"Hasegawa-san," she responded with a cautious tone, "is it me or is this place fogging up?"

Zenkichi then took her words and observed his surroundings. The town they just entered is indeed fogging up, and it seemed like no one is bothered about it. The blonde next to his daughter, however, sensed it faster before Akane could call her dad.

"Grizzlies! It's happening again!" He screamed as Akane drew closer to Zenkichi.

"Dad, what's going on?" She trembled in fear as Zenkichi suddenly transformed into his alter-ego Wolf. "Dad, your clothes!"

"Oh, wow! Even you have a fancy suit for a Phantom Thief!"

Zenkichi looked down and saw that he is wearing his thief attire once again. Knowing what this meant, he immediately warns Yukari.

"Takeba! Get inside the building now!"

Suddenly, a few townspeople began to run and scream as an Abaddon demon sprouts out of the ground. The 20-foot behemoth then opens its mouth to devour a small bar with a few people inside.

"Blondie, get my daughter out of here!" Wolf began to aim at the creature with his dual revolvers. Before Teddie could respond, Chie can be heard behind them.

"Hasegawa-san! Teddie! Akane! RUN!"

"Chie! You're our hero!"

"Zip it, Ted! Hasegawa-san, that thing is not weak to gunfire!"

Zenkichi wouldn't believe Chie at first, but after his shots were absorbed and instead alerted the beast to them, they ran back to the car only for a monstrous Kumbhandra to slash it in half.

"Damnit, I bought cleaned that car! And that big ugly Moloch wasn't helpful with my neighborhood back in Kyoto." He began to angrily fire his bullets at the skeletal horse until it weakened.

"Hiiiii-YAH!" Chie gave a Dragon Hustle with her Persona to it before everyone can continue running. However, Zenkichi realized that the Abaddon would lose interest in far targets and insisted on Chie bringing Akane back to the research center. Despite minimal arguing, Chie complied and left Teddie and Zenkichi to fight the giant muck. As she protects Ayane from the incoming Nue horde, Chie radios the rest of the team.

"Reporting in, Shadow Operatives! The town is under attack! I repeat: the town is under attack! Hasegawa-san and Teddie need back ASAP!"

Aigis was luckily the closest responder and flew her way to where the fight is happening. Meanwhile, in the town square, Wolf runs out of bullets as Teddie continues to slow it down with Mabufudyne from Kamui-Moshiri.

"Damnit, we're only slowing it down and dealing any good damage!" He growled as he summons Valjean. "Unleash Megidola!"

The French ex-con unleashes rays of black, Almighty power at the Abaddon, which was staggered a little. Wolf was not happy with result and immediately pulls out an Atom Match he gained from Ren a few months back. "Let's see if this put you down for once." He lights the wick and tosses the small bomb onto the mouth, which then explodes upon impact and finally put the huge beast down.

"ALRIIIIIIGHT!" Wolf exclaimed as he pulls his pride up. "Now for the kill!"

"We need more than that, Hasegawa-san!" Teddie interjected only to be confused by Wolf's comment.

"Hasegawa is asleep. Only the Wolf is awake right now."

"Sensei wasn't kidding when he called you weird." Teddie murmured as he unleashes another Mabufudyne as Aigis finally arrives.

"Nigitama Cannon ready for release!" Aigis waited for Zenkichi's command.

"Aigis, mind if you can charge that cannon into nuclear?" He grimly demanded.

"No problem, Hasegawa-san! Switching to nuclear power!"

The trio then turn to see the Shadow recovering from the attack, but right on cue Aigis' Nigitama Cannon is now in full nuclear power.

"Fire!"

The cannon unloads a light-blue power ray, bearing a hole onto the behemoth as the three proceed for an All-Out Attack. After the monster is defeated, they are approached by the surviving townspeople but are placed back into action when a horde of Kumbhandra and Nue appear and attack them again.

"Kamui-Moshiri! Freeze them to the winter!"

"Athena, charge at them!"

"Valjean, bring out our chaos!"

The town was then rocked with intense attacks as the Persona users do their best to save the town. Meanwhile, back in the Kirijo Research Center, Chie and Akane arrive to see several employees dead as a Nebiros Shadow appears behind them. Before it could ambush them, it was crushed by Ariadne, the Persona wielded by...

"Oh, Labrys! Thank goodness, you're here!" Chie cheerfully told her as Akane clapped.

"Should've watched your back there, Chie-san. I saved your ass again." Labrys gave a smug grin, which made Chie remember what that meant.

"Damnit, I lose 10,000 yen again."

"Huh?"

"N-Nothing, Akane-chan. Just stay close with us."

Chie, Akane, and Labrys then find Yukari and Fuuka hiding in the guest's area. Yukari nearly kills Chie with her bow as the latter was shocked at the moment.

"Damnit, Yukari! You nearly killed me with that arrow!" Chie gave a scowl at her.

"Well, sorry if I have to make sure Fuuka-san here doesn't get killed by those things!" Yukari defended her actions as a mob of Oni appear near them.

"Yosuke-kun, where are you already?" Labrys radioed Yosuke, who laughed at his end.

"Relax, Labrys... Time to make an entrance."

Yosuke plays an American hiphop song as he charges his motorcycle at the Oni. "Hotshot with a bunch of demons up the ass, coming through!"

Chie and Yukari heard what he said and looked at the horde of Nue and Kumbhandra behind him. They prepare themselves as the motorcycle crashes onto the demons and Yosuke lands on his feet.

"Smooth, Yosuke." Labrys shook her head as the man who saved her life years ago was showing off again.

"Chie, wanna go for a round with these things?" He asked the cop with a sinister look.

"Loser buys three beef bowls!" Chie accepted his words as a dare as Yukari and Labrys go deeper into the building while Fuuka protects Akane.

"Will my Dad be okay?" Akane looked at Fuuka with sad eyes. Fuuka pats her head and tells her that everything will be okay. She then looks at Chie and Yosuke, who are then killing the Shadows with nothing but their bare hands. She sighs neither out of relief nor worry.\

Yukari and Labrys then show up and find the archives room. As they see the place in disarray, they began to look for their target file.

"Project Arcadia, Project Arcadia...." Yukari frantically looked for the files.

Labrys scanned the room with her sensors. "Yukari-san...."

"Don't you dare tell me it isn't here."

"It isn't here."

Furious, Yukari storms out of the room and begins her ranting.

"Why the hell would Mitsuru even transfer her headquarters to a peaceful town that doesn't want any part of this Metaverse bullshit or whatever the hell she's hiding!"

Labrys tries her best to console her. "I'm with ya here, Yuka-san. It has been years, and maybe the Mitsuru we know has changed differently."

"Yeah," she looked at Labrys with a somber look, "she'll be pissed off at us even more since we have no idea where-"

She was abruptly interrupted by a man wearing a white tuxedo with a blue polo shirt under it, white pants, and gray shoes.

"The Project Arcadia is? You mean this?" He laughs evilly as he pulls out the file.

"Who are you? And where did you find that?" Yukari aimed her arrow.

"Please don't bother. You are all seeing this as a dream.... Azatoth."

The man summons his Persona and puts Yukari and Labrys to sleep as he witnesses how Yosuke and Chie are fighting. He escapes to the back area, but runs into someone he wished dead.

"Drop the files or you're a dead man!" The woman aimed her rifle at him.

"I didn't expect to find you here, Yoshizawa-san." He turned to see Kasumi Yoshizawa glaring at him.

"What made you into this monster, Doctor Maruki?" She began to talk him down. "I know it's power, but there is something else to it."

"Well, I won't give an answer that easily." He gains a bullet graze to his arm as she used the spear-chain to grab the files back.

"Then you won't be getting this file easily." She flashed a devious grin as she summoned Guinivere to attack him. Maruki (of XX) retaliates by summoning Azatoth and using the Guiding Tendrils to stall her movements. She was fast to notice his trick and dodged his attacks.

"It seems you've learned my tricks."

"The moment you killed Akira, I have already seen beyond your trick!" Her tone was beginning to shake as she fired her rifle.

"Oh, really? From the way I saw things, he was all alone. No Akechi, no Phantom Thieves, not even you."

"One more word from your fucking mouth and I will beat you to death."

"Go ahead," he didn't falter with his taunts, "do the very thing you did to Sumire."

With bloodlust and vengeance on her mind, she pins the files to the wall and charges at Maruki XX. He uses the tendrils to stop her, but she summons Guinivere to cut herself loose, gaining the surprise from Maruki.

"I-impossible!" He spoke with his mouth agape.

"Never underestimate the surviving Phantom Thief!" She dropkicks him as he stumbles down a flight of stairs. Angered by this, he vows to return at night and murder anyone left inside the building. With a dangerous level of arrogance, Kasumi dared him to as she picked up the files and left the building undetected. Meanwhile, Yukari and Labrys wake up to realize that the mysterious man has the files. As they searched for the man, they come across a destroyed area of the building.

"Looks like he came through this way." Yukari said as Labrys goes through the hole and inspects its exterior. She then sees an empty boat sailing off down river.

"He came via boat." She deducted as she pulls off a grappling hook attached to the wall. "But he didn't use it to escape."

"So he has an alternate route." They then hear marching, which could mean Kirijo soldiers are nearby. They reconvene with the others as they took a breath of relief.

"Phew! Thank goodness, you guys are here!" Fuuka happily spoke as Chie and Yosuke drank water behind her.

"Yeah, we would have been screwed if-"

"Yukari Takeba and company, you are under arrest for intrusion of the Kirijo Corporation, stealing company files, betrayal of trust, and terrorism to the public!" the commanding soldier yelled at them, which made everyone step back.

"W-w-WHAT?" Yukari angrily stomped her foot.

"Wait a minute. You're joking, right?!" Chie tried to march at the soldier, but Labrys stops her.

"You're fucking kidding here, right?" Yosuke began to object.

"The sentence given by Mitsuru Kirijo is execution on foreign soil!"

"Bullshit! On whose orders!?" Yukari demanded until she sees the man once again.

"My orders, to be exact. Hello there." He gave an eerie grin that put everyone to unease.

Witnessing these events from the rooftop, Kasumi readied her smoke bomb to give everyone time to escape as she informs Zenkichi (via burner phone) to take the boat by the river and use it to rescue the group via the hole in the back area.

"Zenkichi Hasegawa?"

"Who's this?"

"Your daughter and her protectors are in danger. I'll only give them a small window of time to find the escape route I have created. You must sail alone and pick them up."

"How can I trust you with this?!"

"You don't need to. Coz in what may be two minutes, these people will be executed by Kirijo soldiers. Move now if you want your daughter alive!"

Zenkichi hangs up and rushes to the nearby riverbank despite finishing off the horde seconds ago. He sees the boat and begins to use it to sail his way to the extraction point. As Maruki XX gives out the order to aim at them, Kasumi drops her bombs on time and sneaks back inside to find a vantage point for cover fire.

"What the hell?! Smoke grenades!" Maruki XX snarled as he and the soldiers couldn't see a thing.

"Now what?" Yosuke dumbly asked as Labrys gestured them to run.

"I'll cover ya!" She wields her axe as she charges alone to the soldiers, giving them time to run.

"We found a hole earlier that leads to the river!" Yukari gave out her plan, "It's gonna be a huge jump, but we'll survive good!"

"Have you forgotten that we have a kid with us!?" Yosuke reminded Yukari as she looked at Akane.

"Shit."

As they reached the back area, they are greeted with a gunship firing at them. Forced to take cover, the team began to show fear.

"H-Hey! We can't run with that thing firing at us! One hit and we're dead!" Chie shouted as the guns blared.

"Dad! Dad! I wanna go home..." Akane began to cry for help as the shots grow closer to them. The team then closes their eyes as they meet their impending doom, but the sound of Beast Weaver saved them in the nick of time.

"Crush 'em like hell, Ariadne!"

"Labrys! You're okay!"

"Someone was kind enough to give me covering fire and told me to reattach the hook."

"But why?"

"Akane's dad is on his way. He has the boat that was sailing off earlier."

"Then let's run for it!"

As they run, the echoes of a rifle can be heard as the group sees Zenkichi down below, waving at them. Slowly taking turns in sliding down, the group escapes successfully while Kasumi makes a run for it to the back area and dive to the river. Outraged, Maruki XX calls Mitsuru and decides to improvise with his plan.

"Maruki? What do you want?" Mitsuru's tone was cold, but she also demanded an answer.

"Y-Your team.... attacked your headquarters."

"What?! Wait, why are y-"

"Manahashi heard one of them plot against you. Said something about a file called Arcadia."

Mitsuru cursed in her head. Fuck, did he find out? Then why is he calling me with a pleading sound?  "Go on."

"They destroyed the place, killed the employees, and stole a lot of files...."

"What are you implying?"

"They betrayed you, Mitsuru. They plan on taking you down instead."

 

Location: 40 kilometers away from Iwatodai
Time: 0823 hours

 

After renting a van from one of the survivors, the Shadow Operatives get out of town before Kirijo soldiers take over the place in anticipation of the media. Discussing what just happened, the group began to formulate some theories.

"That guy back there.... have we seen him before?" Yukari asked as she opened her blouse to release some heat.

"I dunno, Yukari.... but the soldier's yelling kind of disturbs me." Fuuka recalled.

"What soldier?" Teddie curiously asked, but Zenkichi answered him instead.

"There were Kirijo soldiers by the building, saying that we're arrested for intrusion, treason, and stuff. And unfortunately, Takuto Maruki must have had half of the Kirijo soldiers under his command."

"Takuto Maruki? You mean that weird, goofy guy we tried to capture days ago?" Chie blurted out dumbly.

"What?"

"We tried to get him a few days ago, but the Phantom Thieves kicked out ass big time."

Zenkichi began to ponder at what Chie explained. Why would those kids go after a man who just ordered a hit on Kirijo-san's team?

"That girl we fought before.... that must have been her."

"Whatcha mean, Yukari-chan?"

"You mentioned some girl with a rifle, right?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I only know two girls with rifles: either it's Sumire Yoshizawa or her twin Kasumi."

Zenkichi was surprised to hear those names. A gymnast and her dead twin... wielding rifles? Something tells me there's a fault in this mission. He shook off the thought as he continued driving to Tokyo. "You guys wouldn't mind for some coffee, right?"

 

Location: Setsumagi, 9 kilometers near Iwatodai
Time: 0825 hours

 

Emerging from the water, Kasumi hid under the pier as soldiers began to investigate the area. She observes the townspeople's movements as they were being gathered up by the soldiers for questioning. She then grinned as she pulls out a detonator.

"Right on cue, boys?"

"Right on cue. Hit it, Angel! "

As she triggers an explosion onto the research center nearby, the soldiers were fazed and ambushed by Morgana and Akechi, who somehow donned his White Prince outfit.

"I still don't know how you can change your costume." Morgana complained.

"My skills exceed yours, after all." Akechi bragged as he dumps the soldiers inside a dumpster bin. One of the townspeople approaches him and thanks him for saving them. Akechi immediately switches to his faux personality.

"Please, no need to thank me. We are simply doing our job as-"

"PHANTOM THIEVES!" More soldiers come in as Akechi readies his lightsaber while Morgana takes point with his slingshot. After kicking the soldiers' asses, the boys call out the coast is clear. Kasumi then pops out of the water and asks the civilians if they have seen Zenkichi and his team. After getting information that they have left, a young boy tugs on her leotard and points towards something followed by a soldier's call.

"Boss! Take a look at this!"

Hiding behind a broken building, Kasumi, Morgana, and Akechi then take a look at what just spawned: the town square, now identified as Setsumagi, is now a giant hole.

"Hey, we never inspected Hiroshima, right?" Kasumi now mentioned it, no one bothered returning to Hiroshima to investigate.

"Let's just hope Shirogane and her team are looking into it like how Takeba's team was in here." Akechi hoped as he forced a smile.

"And to think they got Zenkichi. That guy basically saved our asses thrice last summer." Morgana grudgingly said as he is hoping Zenkichi did not betray them.

"Should we get in?"

"Let's wait until something-"

Akechi stopped talking as he noticed the man in charge.

"I believe this is your world's Maruki, Yoshizawa-san?"

Kasumi looked at Maruki XX, showing off a murderous intent as Akechi felt amused.

"Hungry for blood?"

"Damn right, I am."

"Well, we're gonna have to wait until they get in or stay out." Morgana wisely warned them.

They then observe Maruki XX commanding soldiers to enter the pit without hesitation. When one of the soldiers refused, he immediately shot him in the head. Akechi and Morgana look in terror while Kasumi tightened her grip on her rifle.

"Brutal."

"You can say that again."

"I can now realize how thirsty you are for your vengeance."

They slowly sneak past the soldiers and Maruki XX himself as they descend to the pit, which is more horrifying than before as it showed more corpses and skeletons on its walls. They evade the soldiers examining the place as they go for the same goal as before: obtain hieroglyphics from a specific rune and escape. To their luck, the soldiers were engaging with hostile Incubus and Succubi as they hopped from stone after stone. They nearly fall to a deadly ravine, causing them to find another way through.

"I guess we have no other option but this way." Morgana pointed at a narrow hallway with bodies mangled on the walls and ceilings.

"I'm glad Suzui or Sumire aren't here..." Akechi sighed in relief. "Their screams would most likely attract the soldiers."

As they venture into the tight space, they carefully observe the dead bodies. From students to businessmen... to even young toddlers with their parents.

"Kirijo opened herself a Pandora's box. A lot of people are getting killed from each incident."Akechi commented.

"But Tokyo was never hit yet. And there were Shujin students." Morgana rememebered the dead student who may have been either Futaba's classmate or Sumire's.

"Doesn't matter," Kasumi coldly shut them down, "The sooner we find the runes, the better."

Akechi took a look at a dead police officer that wasn't stuck on anything. "I found something." The trio then approach the corpse and examine him. "Kyoto Police Department. Garuku Hanzo."

"He's.... just a kid." Morgana spoke sadly as he looked for a cause of death.

"Sometimes, kids like him do jobs that would match ours." Kasumi noted, "From the looks of it, he could be as old as us."

Akechi grabs his badge and dog tag. "I'll return this to Hasegawa. He may want to know about this." Kasumi nods in approval.

The trio then finally arrive in the runes and began copying the hieroglyphics marked on the runes. Kasumi immediately noticed how the hieroglyphics are actually forming an image when combined with the first set from Nayami. Akechi and Morgana examined further and agreed with her as the former then blurted something with a thumb to his chin.

"Seems like the Metaverse is playing us like a fiddle. These hieroglyphics serve as a photograph of something, but unless we figure it out quickly, we're just being made as fools here."

"Yeah. We're getting played for solving stuff like this. Hell, we don't even have the hieroglyphics of Kyoto and Hiroshima." Morgana added.

"We didn't come here empty-handed, so at least we have our intel." Akechi reassured them as they then cautiously find their escape route. They get nearly caught by Maruki XX, who then barked orders at the soldiers as he lets Azatoth survey his surroundings. Suddenly, a cry for help was heard from the ravine. Maruki ordered the soldiers to check it out, giving the chance for the three to run. As they return to the surface, they are held at gunpoint by the soldiers. Maruki XX applauded them sarcastically.

"Fooling me with the old recorder trick? You played that song on yourself." His wicked grin gave Kasumi more reason to deal with him.

"Shit."

"Anyone got bright ideas?"

"I have one. But..."

This isn't going to end well in a few minutes.

Chapter Text

March 24, 20XX

Location: Setsumagi, 9 kilometers away from Iwatodai
Time: 0855 hours

 

"I have one, but...."

"Say it already. We're waiting, Yoshizawa."

Kasumi carefully thought her words as she is fully aware that her plan may go awry.

"Call of Chaos."

Akechi was baffled by her words. Yep, she didn't think this through.

"You're joking, right?" Akechi snarled, "I cannot just summon Hereward and make another Persona user go berserk!"

"Just do it!"

As Akechi summons Hereward, the soldiers take aim at them. However, Maruki XX held his hand up and told them to lower their weapons as he sees Kasumi's idea as nothing but a bluff. He was dead wrong as the black archer used the Call of Chaos spell on Kasumi, causing her to laugh hysterically.

"Oh, boy...." She cackled at the soldiers as stares at them with bloodshot eyes. "You're all screwed now, dumbasses!"

Morgana and Akechi jumped to cover to avoid what she may unleash with her psychotic state. Maruki XX knew this too well (since he encountered Akechi XX using the power) and walked away from the soldiers as Kasumi begins to charge at the soldiers with no mercy. The bullets pierced through her body, but she kept regenerating as she brutally murders every soldier against her. Morgana watched in horror as he witnesses the carnage while Akechi changed into his Black Mask form and leapt out of cover.

"No way in hell is she enjoying this on her own." He smiled as he charged to the battlefield. Before he could reach it, Kasumi summoned Guinivere and called out an otherwise deadly attack that would nearly kill everyone in its blast radius.

"MORNING STAR!"

"Impossible! Only the soul of Lucifer is capable of that power alone!" Akechi growled as he backtracks his way to cover. After returning to cover, the sky suddenly glooms and a ray of black and white Almighty power descends from above, killing everyone in its path. As the dust clears, Akechi switches back to his white outfit and calls out everyone from hiding. Morgana then rushes to find Kasumi, who was only sitting on the end of the pit's opening.

"Are you serious!?"

"What?"

"After you went super crazy, you're just sitting there like nothing happened!"

Kasumi can only giggle at Morgana's reaction as she looked at Akechi trying to win the people's favor in the half-demolished town. She immediately grabbed her phone and checked if Sumire or Ren left any messages.

'Sorry if I can't join you guys later. I have finals to deal with uuuuuuggghhhh.' Kasumi read Sumire's text in her tone. She reads another one, coming from Shiho. But then she felt guilty as she looked at the message.

'Hey. I couldn't find you earlier, so I decided to stroll along Shibuya on my own. With Sumire taking exams and Ren out to get supplies with Maruki, I just feel bored and lonely. Answer when you get this message.' Kasumi made a mental note to hang out with Shiho later tonight.

"The townspeople said they can manage. They'll be asking the mayor of Iwatodai to assist them in the rebuild." Akechi announced to them nonchalantly.

"What about the research center? Or Maruki's counterpart?" Morgana questioned.

"Angel?"

"We go back there first. Gonna make sure Maruki won't terrorize this place later tonight." Kasumi knew that his threat on killing everyone hiding in the research center were a lie, and the only thing she blew up was the back area of the center without damaging the important rooms. As the three return, they notice the carnage Labrys left behind. Akechi nods with impression while Morgana ran off to find any survivors. Kasumi, on the other hand, didn't bother waiting as she went back to the archives room and finish off what Yukari and Labrys did.

"I thought we already have what we need." Akechi watched her as she searched the place.

"Nope. The Arcadia file isn't enough." She groaned as she dropped some papers and bent down to pick them up, causing Akechi to turn around and avoid gazing at her butt. "There should be files of researchers who could be involved in those projects. We have one, but they have two."

"I supposed by finding these researchers, we prevent them from going on with the project?"

"Yes." Her enthusiastic yet serious response was all that Akechi needed to hear.

They hear screaming from the nearby cafeteria as people began throwing stuff at Morgana, who flees back to the main lobby. That gave Akechi and Kasumi the signal to reassure them of their safety. As for Maruki XX, he can only watch from outside as he observes Kasumi instead of forcing another confrontation.

 

Location: Megami Fieldhouse, Hiroshima
Time: 0945 hours

 

"Looks like Setsumagi is trending on the Internet."

Ken showed the other half of the Shadow Operatives the breaking news that has been announced. Outskirts of Iwatodai ravaged, Phantom Thieves heroes again.

"What happened to the research center?" Junpei asked.

"According to Yukari-san, the place was wrecked by a man who shared similarities with Takuto Maruki."

!!!

"Are you serious? Now there are two Takuto Marukis?" Akihiko was trying to make sure Yukari wasn't joking.

"Apparently, yes." Ken confirmed as he tries loading an interview on his phone. "Luckily, Mayor Wakarama is willing to help the small town recover and rebuild."

As they watch the interview on Ken's phone, Akihiko began to think if Mitsuru is actually going along with Manahashi's plan. He clenched his fist as footage of the destroyed research center was shown along with several bodies riddled with bullets and claw marks.

"Despite suffering more than 1,200 casualties, the town of Setsumagi stands strong with the remaining 4,400 souls as Mayor Hidei Wakarama begins to operate in restoring the town's state. The townspeople also requested the mayor to file a lawsuit against Mitsuru Kirijo and her company for endangering the place they call home."

"Well, that can't be ignored. Mitsuru-san is already having a lot of issues towards the public lately." Yukiko mumbled as she eats her burger.

"Bastards wrecked the place like hell, and then they try to silence the town. What the hell is she thinking?" Akihiko angrily thought out loud as they continue sitting outside the stadium.

"At this rate, we're not gonna be hearing anything else from her." Naoto concluded as the team goes silent to think about their plan. Suddenly, a few people caught her glimpse.

"Guys, look."

Across them is a short-haired brunette discussing with what seems to be her friends. Two blondes, a skinny boy, and what looks like...

"Haru Okumura? What is she doing here?" Yukiko stood up after Naoto wondered, earning the surprise of the team.

"What the hell is she doing?" Akihiko groaned.

"Woof!" Koromaru joyfully barked as he caught up with Yukiko.

"What the -Koromaru!"

Meanwhile, Makoto and the old Thieves just arrived after a long ride in Haru's new SUV.

"After 6 hours, we're finally here....." Makoto sighed in relief with dark circles in her sleepy eyes.

"The hell did you make us drive all this way for, Ann??" Ryuji yelled in front of Ann as she retaliated by slapping a piece of paper on his face.

"THIS. This is why."

Ryuji yanks out the paper as he read the contents. "A fate that puts the world in danger. Scavenge the hole in the latest incident and uncover a key that ensures mankind's survival."

"That's some vague description." Yusuke judged as he read the letter. "If I were to make any assumptions, this can be only the work of our dear friend Lavenza or just some stalker who knows about this."

"But we haven't seen her since the Kyoto incident." Haru realized what she said and corrected herself. "I mean the first incident, that is."

"From the way this place took a beating, it felt like our time in Okinawa." Makoto compared as she recalled the past events where they engaged with Shadows.

"Hmm?"

Yusuke notices Yukiko and Koromaru dashing to them. If Yusuke wasn't the artistic weirdo that everyone loves, he would have fallen for Yukiko's beauty. But for some reason, he felt an aura akin to Haru.

"Are you Haru Okumura?" Yukiko approached them with a bright smile and enthusiastic demeanor.

"Why yes, I am." Haru gently responded. Before she could ask, Yukiko grabs the burgers and asks for her autograph, earning a feeling of awkwardness from the others.

"I can't believe I'm getting autographed burgers.... Pffffft.... Snnnrkkk..." And thus begins Yukiko's erratic laughter as Haru joined along while signing the wrappers of the burgers. Ann buries her face under her jacket while Ryuji bangs his head on the wall. Makoto, however, decided to play with Koromaru.

"Hi there, boy! What's your name?"

"Woof!"

"Kengomuru? That's a funny name."

"Woof!"

"You seem hungry." She pulls out the beef jerky she had purchased. "You want some?"

As Koromaru ate her offering, she can't help but feel a warm fuzzy feeling inside her. "Good boy!"

"Woof!"

"Kengomuru.... That's funnier than Koramamarukumo! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Ryuji murmured as he stopped banging his head. "This can get any worse, huh?"

"Shut up, Ryuji." Ann shook her head in disbelief until she saw a truck transporting corpses of Rangda.

"Makoto."

"I see it."

Yukiko and Haru stop their laughter and notice the truck.

"Oh my, I didn't expect the Rangda monsters to actually be here."

"You know what those things are?"

"Yes, I do. According to folklore, Rangda is Barong's nemesis as they both represent darkness and light in an endless battle."

"Wow, Okumura-san! You seem knowledgable about this."

"I learned it from a friend of mine! Though I am not sure if he can be called a friend."

Everyone looked at Haru with uncertainty. For Makoto, she prayed that Haru will not compromise the team. For Yukiko, she prayed that Haru will. Instead, both find a bit of disappointment and confusion.

"What made you say that?"

"Well, you see..."

"Ehhehehe, don't mind her. She's been having a rough time in school and all."

"Mako-chan, please. I want to get something off my chest."

"Okay then."

"This friend of mine... I think I fell for him. But he is currently in a relationship, and although I feel sad and glad for the two of them, I still feel the heartache in me."

"O-Oh, I see."

Yusuke broke the sudden silence when he sees the Rangda suddenly resurrecting in the truck.

"The Rangda!"

"Shit!"

"Naoto-chan!"

The Shadow was put to rest by Naoto's revolver, which caught the attention of multiple passersby. Akihiko and Kanji decide to take action to put witnesses away from the scene.

"Move it, people! Nothing to see here!"

"There's nothing to take photographs of and be happy about! Keep along if you want your phones alive!"

Naoto approaches the group and bows to apologize to them.

"We're so sorry, you shouldn't have seen that. A monster running around the streets like this would actually make you wet your pants."

Ryuji responded with the presence of dumb pride and the lack of subtlety. "Eh, no sweat. We can stand against those things anyway."

Ann hammers his head and scolds him for saying it while Yusuke looks at the walking stick again. Naoto was about to make an interrogation but looked at the stick instead.

"Is that yours?"

"Well, it's complicated to explain."

"Sir, I am the living proof of complications. From my appearance down to my deductions, even I can't make my life easier."

Those words dawned onto Makoto and prompted her to ask Naoto.

"You don't happen to be the First Detective Prince Naoto Shirogane?"

"It seems that Tojou Niijima's daughter recognized me through my disguise."

Makoto clenched her fist and gritted her teeth when Naoto inadvertently spoke in a rude manner.

"What do you know about my father?" She dared to ask.

"A noble man who sought the right kind of justice. I trained under him until he perished while I was at high school." Naoto answered honestly to avoid getting the Niijima wrath.

"I presume you're not here for leisure."

"Perceptive of you. I could ask the same to you."

Makoto had to create an alibi quick before Naoto will deduct them as Phantom Thieves. Ann was there to save the Thieves' honor for a short while as she came up with a good excuse (despite her bad acting).

"Well, we heard that a hole formed in Hiroshima. And as much as we decided to go spelunking with a group, I forced them to try out this hole here and see if it is any fun."

Kanji blurted out something that ultimately offended Ann. "Uh, with your clothes? I dunno.... you picked the wrong clothes for a spelunking trip, especially with how thin the fabric is."

"What the hell does that make you, tough guy?!"

"Hey, is it wrong if a guy like me takes interest in textile clothing and fashion!?"

"I sense something wrong if you have judged my appearance that much."

"H-h-Hey! I don't dig guys, alright!?"

"I didn't say anything...." Ann somehow cooed and pissed Kanji off more.

"What the f- Sonuvab- Argh, you blonde ditzy bitch!"

"The hell you calling a bitch!?"

"BOTH OF YOU, ENOUGH!" Akihiko's strained voice gave a heated warning to shut them up. Regardless, Naoto decides to play along with their ploy and allows them to tag along with the team as they make their way to the inside of the stadium. There, they go beyond a police tape as they see the morbid but glorious hole that has formed in the middle of the field.

"Daaaaaamn, that is one big hole." Ryuji gave out an astonished look as his mouth hung open.

"This is an eerie sight to begin with." Yusuke commented.

"It's too big. Maybe it is meant for spelunking." Yukiko wasn't helping the Shadow Operatives in their fake assistance.

"Shall we go? I wonder what we can find there." Haru leapt down to the field as the others stare at her bravery to approach the unknown.

"Is she always like this?" Naoto looked at Makoto, having witnessed the heiress of the scandalous food chain march to the beat of her drum without a second thought.

"Kinda. She does own an axe and a grenade launcher in her home." Ryuji bluntly told them, scaring Ken, Kanji, and Yukiko afterwards.

"Damn, Naoto. Now I'm having second thoughts." Kanji whispered as he leaned forward to Naoto.

"Getting cold feet?" Naoto teased him.

"Hell no!" Kanji reciprocated quickly to keep his pride alive. Akihiko chuckled at his recovery as everyone went down to the pit. From there, they can see Haru preparing rope for the descent.

"When did you find the time to get rope?" Ann asked.

"It was already in the car when you called." Haru softly spoke as she struggled to firmly plant the hook. Ken helps her out and successfully placed the hook on the rough ground.

"Thank you!"

"No worries."

Slowly, the team rappels down to the pit's base where they began feeling stagnant air around them. Ann did not hold back on her comments while Makoto became entirely expressive of the creepy surroundings.

"Jeez, not one minute in this place and I am already feeling the heeby-jeebies."

"This is too scary for me to handle, for some reason. Can I hold someone's hand before I chicken out?"

Akihiko offered his arm as Makoto held on to him. As the group proceeded forward, they get a horrible glimpse of what the Metaverse has been doing.

"Damn, there are more corpses than last time." Junpei pointed out, and it did not escape Haru's ears.

"Last time?"

Naoto elbows Junpei and reminds them that they are baiting the Thieves into something. The next sight allows them to examine the bodies as they look for a way in to advance.

"Damnit, our path is blocked."

"That means we're done, right?"

"Nope. Search the bodies. There should be something here."

Yusuke looked at the stick and began to use it in frisking the bodies stuck on the walls. He then noticed a familiar sight as he pokes the head and pushes it to reveal the identity.

"My word......"

"Wait, isn't that that Makigami guy?!"

The group looks at the corpse of Kazuya Makigami, one of the Phantom Thieves' targets in Mementos. The man had already been corroded to nearly bones, but Yusuke figured out the structure of the corpse.

"This is worse than we thought."

"Hey, can I see your stick?" Naoto asked sternly as Yusuke gives it to her. As she carefully examined the stick, she notices the engravings marked on the stick: The path of your life begins when you walk against the norms. She approaches one of the walls and pulls off a body, which revealed a hole where the stick can fit.

"Do you mind?" Naoto turned to Yusuke as she aims the stick to the insertion.

"It is not mine, after all." Yusuke answered both with honesty and with dishonesty.

"What are you talking about? This has your name, right?"

Yukiko pointed out Naoto's accidental reveal. "You never asked for his name though."

Kanji, Ken, and Junpei stiffened at the words she said. Holy shit, she compromised us.

"Is Yusuke Kitagawa not your name? If you are not the owner of this stick, then who are you?"

"Just put it in and open whatever the hell is behind there." Akihiko impatiently ordered. As Naoto plugged the stick, the walls glowed and revealed a narrow pathway (still with corpses) as they venture further. The more they go to the inner portions, the creepier the environment becomes.

"Damn, this place reminds me of Mementos...." Ryuji murmured.

"Yeesh! This place reeks of piss and blood." Junpei complained.

"Woof!"

"We know, Koromaru. We gotta be brave." Ken carried Koromaru to give him rest.

"Check it out... we found the runes."

Akihiko, Naoto, and Junpei dashed while Makoto and the Thieves followed. They somewhat entered a chamber that shows vague illustrations and signs that could be hard to decipher.

"Wow, as much as this place was creepy on our way here...." Ann was bedazzled by the appearance of the hieroglyphics.

"I agree with you, Ann. This place seems extraordinary despite its lesser vibe." Makoto ran her hand across a rune as she immediately studied.

"Do you mind if we took photos?" Haru gestures her camera as Naoto gave them a nod. Junpei approaches Naoto and calls Akihiko to the huddle.

"You sure it's okay to let them do this?"

"Would you care? They're just exploring."

"But they're the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. We could already capture them here while we have the chance."

"Shirogane, you need to learn how to be considerate of things."

"What does that mean, Sanada-san?"

Akihiko's sense of consideration clashes horns with Naoto's sense of dedication. Junpei backs up and bumps into Yukiko, who accidentally activates the chamber. Everyone is alerted by this, and are startled to the bone as they suddenly hear chains rattling nearby.

"Fuck."

"Grrrrrrr woof!"

"We got company."

Not soon after, the Thieves prepare for the fight. Their clothes transfigure into their Metaverse attire, and their reactions range from excitement to disappointment.

"HELL TO THE EFF YEAH!" Ryuji roared as he looks at his biker outfit.

"Ugh, I forgot this gaping hope in my chest exists." Ann expressed dismay as she remembers why she doesn't miss the Metaverse a bit.

"It seems the stick has changed as well." Yusuke looks at the walking stick in his hand as it transformed into a sword.

"Damnit, not in this suit again." Makoto hung her head in shame as she felt the iron mask on her face once again.

"My, I missed this hat so much!" Haru joyfully waved her hat.

Their short period of reminiscence was interrupted by Naoto, who attempts to cuff Makoto.

"The hell!"

"Sorry, but Mitsuru Kirijo's orders."

"Naoto, uncuff the girl now."

"Sanada-san, you wouldn't like it if Kirijo-san would have us in her platter, right?"

The chains draw closer as a moan of horror echoes in the pathway.

"Goddamnit, lady! Just let us fight." Ryuji protested as Ken cuffed him.

"This is bullshit!" Ann is cuffed by Kanji, who gets kicked in the nuts by her afterwards.

"Did we do something wrong?" Haru asked innocently as she was cuffed by Yukiko. 

"Stay still, man. Nothing personal, okay?" Junpei cuffs Yusuke.

Left with no choice, Akihiko grabs the sword and points it to Naoto. The latter aims her revolver at him as the two face a standoff.

"Sanada-san..."

"Naoto, take a look around you."

The sounds of death come closer.

"This isn't the time for that."

And closer.

"What's gotten into you?"

AND CLOSER.

"We're fucked if we don't let them go now!"

Finally, the Reaper bursts through the walls and looms over the group. Naoto scowled as she was forced to give the order Akihiko would appreciate.

"Uncuff them now!"

The Shadow Operatives uncuff the Phanton Thieves as they prepare for battle.

"CAESAR!"

"SUMEO-OKAMI!"

Their Personas attack the reaper with God's Hand and Burning Petals, which made the Reaper stagger as more attacks came through.

"TAKEJI ZAITEN!"

"YAMATO SUMERAGI!"

With a strike of Wild Thunder and Megidola, the Reaper was beginning to weaken. However, it caused desperation in itself and built up its power instead.

"TRISMEGISTUS!"

"KALA-NEMI!"

"WOOF! (CERBERUS!)"

A flurry of Maragidynes burn the beast, but it wasn't enough just yet as it unleashed a high-powered Megidolaon at the Shadow Operatives, blasting them to the walls in the process. As Kanji tries to charge at it, he receives a whip to the face from Ann as she begins to power up and call out her Persona.

"Celestine! Give them hell!"

The Reaper is then burned alive by the long-haired Persona. As soon as this was done, a horde of Belial, Raja Naga, and Kali close in on them.

"Fox!" Makoto commanded Yusuke as she powers up, "Can you try to slice them all at once?"

Yusuke gave out a condition as he picked up the sword. "I could if I have a better vantage point."

"Then look for one! Noir!"

Haru knew the order and summoned her Persona. "LUCY! Aid us all!" Everyone then feels a strong coating that repelled the incoming attacks on them as she commanded it again. ""Psycho Force!"

Ken tends to Koromaru as he witnesses how the old Thieves work compared to Ren's team. "They seem systematic."

Naoto winced as she nods her head in admission. "True. Amamiya winged their plan despite the great introduction."

"William! Let 'em have it!" Ryuji commands his Persona to go while as the cannon arm fires a high-voltage attack. Meanwhile, Yusuke leaps from rock to rock in getting the right spot to strike. After finding the spot, he signals Makoto for the debuff.

"Agnes, give them Checkmate!"

"A motorcycle?" Akihiko watched in surprise.

"Not just any motorcycle..." Junpei's mouth gaped with awe and drool. "That's a speed demon!"

Makoto performs a donut spin as she weakens the horde, giving Yusuke the chance to freeze them with his Persona.

"Freeze them to their despair, Gorokichi!" As soon as the enemies froze, he uses the new sword to slash them all in one strike. At the click of his sword returning to the case, all the enemies shattered. This didn't give them a break in the fighting, though.

"Take them down, Trismegistus!"

"For real!?" Ryuji takes a hit from Junpei, who attempts to swing his bat at him while he was dazed. Ryuji recovered quickly and swung his steel pipe to counter Junpei's bat.

"Wily bastard!"

"Nothing personal, kid."

"Kiss my effing ass!"

 

Makoto and Naoto did not hesitate to recover and aim their revolvers in a stand-off.

"Figured you were gonna do the same, Niijima-san."

"Don't mess with the Queen, if you want to live."

"It all comes down to the fastest hands in this fight."

The gunfight begins with both of them taking cover. Both get hit by only one bullet.

 

As for Ann, she is suddenly playing tug-of-war against Kanji.

"THIS IS FOR WHIPPING MY FACE!" He tugged the whip to his end.

"THIS IS FOR FUCKING SETTING US UP!" She pulled her end harder, giving Kanji a little trip.

"HOW DO YA LIKE THIS THEN!?" Kanji attempts to shock Ann with electricity, but Ann had the same idea by lighting her whip on fire.

 

Yukiko runs off and uses her throwing fans as Haru drags her axe towards her.

"H-Hey, Okumura-san! P-P-Please spare me from whatever murderous intent you have...."

"If only you all considered what we've done for you..."

"We didn't mean to! We were just following orders!"

Yukiko pleads for her life as Haru drew closer to her. She passes out after Haru giggled and said that she wasn't gonna kill her.

 

Oddly enough, Yusuke's sword reverts back to the walking stick. Luckily, he won't have to kill Akihiko as he uses the stick to block his punches.

"How... are... you... fast... for... mah-my..." The gray-haired boxing cop began to tire out from only hitting the stick and the air.

"I should be concerned of that as much as my concern for this stick."

"How is that not breaking?"

"I do not seem to know."

"Where did you get that, anyway?" Akihiko gave up punching, catching Yusuke off-guard as he showed the stick.

"It appears to have been made by me, though I do not remember engaging in craftsmanship like this."

"Who owns that anyway? Madarame?"

"No, I believe the owner was Millee Strucker, whom we have had suspicion since she visited us for strange reasons."

"Now why would she have a walking stick?"

"Because she claimed to be blind." Ann aims her VZ61 at Akihiko's head. "Yet, she had asked for assistance from our other friend instead of relying a lot on the stick."

Pretty soon, the Shadow Operatives are forced to surrender after the guns were pulled out. Naoto was running out of bullets, so she too surrendered. Afterwards, Makoto demanded answers. She began her rough interrogation with Junpei.

"Start talking."

"We were only sent by Mitsuru-senpai to investigate this pit alone and find out more of its origins!"

She turned to Kanji.

"You guys just had to show up, so we thought capturing the old Phantom Thieves was a good idea and all."

Ann caught his words and echoed it. "Old Phantom Thieves?"

Makoto turned to Yukiko, who spoke slowly. "We already had word that your leader had a team in Nayami, but to think it was't you guys..."

Haru and Ann look at each other with concern and worry. Ryuji tries to comfort them, but decides not to. Not yet, at least.

"What did this team look like?"

Akihiko can only give the codenames. "Joker, Crow, Mona, Violet, Diamond, and Angel."

Ryuji jumped at the sound of Akihiko mentioning four familiar names. "Wait, so Morgana.... Sumire.... and Akechi are the only ones we know."

Makoto gives an approving sound as she continued. "Do you know the identities of the other two?"

Naoto spoke up. "We only know one out of fact, the other.... is a mystery to itself."

Ann walks to Naoto and shows her a photo of Shiho. "Is this the one?"

"Indeed. I don't know which codename, but she is indeed one of them."

Ann was taken aback, both shocked and angered by the fact that Ren forced the old Thieves out and replaced them with two new members.

"So Shiho Suzui is-"

"A Phantom Thief. And a mouthy one, too."

Kanji received a slap to the face from Ann.

"Say one more word about my best friend again, and I will make this whip coil on your neck."

Ken, who is now hugging Koromaru, finally broke his silence. "She kinda is. Said a lot of F bombs throughout our fight."

"For real?!" Ryuji can't help but blurt out his catchphrase.

Makoto immediately shrugged off the thought and ordered them to talk about Mitsuru's plans.

"It's for something called Project Sacrificial Lamb. We don't know much of its contents." Akihiko lied, knowing that telling them the truth would force the Thieves to act impulsively instead of wisely backing off.

"It involves you, though I dunno how or why." Naoto followed up.

Yusuke pondered at the title of the project. Then an idea struck his mind.

"What if we ask Mitsuru Kirijo about that?"

Akihiko was appalled by the thought process Yusuke had. "Are you out of your mind? She knows you're a Phantom Thief! No way you can get to her without being caught."

"Hmm? I was simply planning on asking her that while I paint her nude."

One.

Two.

Three.

Silence filled the derelict zone they are standing on.

"Did you just say you'll paint her nude?"

"Of course. Is there something wrong with it?"

"N-N-No....."

Haru notices Junpei and Akihiko turning red. Seems the thought of Mitsuru naked brought back some old (forgettable) memories.

"Damnit, this kid has balls..." Junpei hissed under his breath.

"Uh, are you two okay?" Kanji asked them.

"We can ask the same to you, blood boy."

"H-Huh?!" Kanji notices that his nose is bleeding. Shit, I just had another dirty thought.

Ann realizes this and immediately screamed and made obnoxious singing noises as she covers her ears and walks out.

"What's wrong with her?"

"Boy issues." Ryuji snickered.

"Fuck off, Ryu- AHHHH!"

Ann's words were cut off after one of the hanging bodies fell on her. Ryuji immediately rushed to help her and, to both their surprise, are petrified at the sight of the body's identity.

"Nishiyama-kun?"

"What the hell...."

 

Location: Shujin Academy, Aoyama-Itchome
Time: 1200 hours

 

"Hiya, Sumire!"

"Oh, Futaba-san!"

Futaba finds Sumire on the rooftop eating her lunch alone. After insisting on joining her, the two girls began to talk about exams and Neo Featherman. As the discussion went on, Futaba's phone rang and excused herself from Sumire.

"Yo!"

"Futaba, where are you now?"

"Makoto? How's Hiroshima?"

Futaba mentioning Hiroshima stopped Sumire from eating further. As much as how peaceful the rooftop is, it isn't a good idea to talk about secret stuff. She pretended to eat slowly as she continues eavesdropping on Futaba.

"What do you mean don't trust Sumire?"

"We found other Persona users. Apparently, they know something we don't. And Ren refuses to answer our calls, so we suspect that something is up ."

"But what does have to do with Sumire again?"

"She knows something, and it's obvious she won't tell us. Until then, don't trust her on our mission unless she trusts us with theirs."

Sumire slowly retreated to her spot as Futaba ends the call. Giving a fake smile, she asks Futaba who was calling her.

"Eh, it was Makoto. Her field trip to Hiroshima got jacked coz of the recent incident."

The bell rang as Futaba dashed out to her class. Sumire, on the other hand, called up Ren.

"Sumi?"

"They know...."

"What? Who knows?"

"Makoto-senpai and the others.... they know what we're doing."

"What?! How?"

Sumire can tell how angry he is, so she tried to muster up more courage to avoid receiving a portion of his anger.

"Futaba-san was called earlier, and I overheard them talk about the Hiroshima attack." She paused before finishing her explanation. "They must have encountered Sanada-san or Shirogane-san."

"Damnit, we gotta call in an emergency meeting. Will you make it later?"

"I-I'll try."

"Okay. Don't pressure yourself. You're the only one who is living the normal life among us. Shiho can't show up in Shibuya anytime she wants. Akechi is supposed to be dead. I'm not supposed to running around buying supplies. And Kasumi... well, we can't explain to them about her yet."

"I'll be fine, Senpai. We just need to hurry with this mission now or we're gonna have Sanada-san, Kirijo-san, Manahashi, AND our old team after our tails." Sumire gave a clear understanding as she accepted the possible risks if their plan goes bust because of a new problem.

"Alright. Take care now. Say hi to your dad for me."

"I-I love you."

"I love you too."

After hanging up the phone, Sumire felt relieved temporarily as she now has a new problem of her own.

"Why am I suddenly the guest of Dad's show?"

 

Location: Genbaku Ruins, Hiroshima
Time: 1330 hours

 

"Better watch yourself."

Akihiko gave them a final warning as he and the Shadow Operatives bade farewell to the Phantom Thieves. Meanwhile, Makoto showed signs of frustration after hearing what they said.

"How could Ren do this to us!? We're his teammates, for fuck's sake!"

Ann is conflicted between being angry at him (and Shiho) or trying to understand him.

"Dude can't just betray us.... right?" Ryuji frowned as his uncertainty gave more worries for the group.

"Well, I don't believe them on the betrayal part." Ann spoke. "They can be right on them hiding stuff from us, but they are wrong if they think Ren abandoned us."

"I agree with Ann here." Yusuke supported the blonde model. "If our leader were to betray us, he wouldn't be interacting with the likes of Sumire."

"I don't seem to follow, Yusuke." Makoto tilted her head with a finger on her chin.

"He may be operating without us, but he certainly would need us for later parts of his mission."

"And how is that ever helpful?"

Ann answered Makoto for Yusuke to think more. "Well, he will open up to us. We can always corner Sumire or Morgana or even the 'Millee' girl for answers."

Haru then had an idea from what Ann said.

"Oh! I just remembered that Sumire-chan will be on TV tonight!"

"Hey, yeah! Didn't she come from winning a championship to tutoring your kids to saving that detective on TV?"

Ann gasped at the realization and searched for the article again.

"Ann, ya alright?"

"I just remembered something..."

Ann finds the article and shows the photo of AKIHIKO carrying an unconscious Sumire after the latter saved him.

"Damnit, they tricked us."

"Looks like they were in cahoots with Ren."

"No. Just Sanada-san, from the looks of it. Looks like he isn't the only one keeping secrets."

Makoto analyzed the photo as she began to think through. "What if Sanada-san is an inside man for the Shadow Operatives?"

"You mean like a double agent?"

"Yeah, something like that."

Haru took a look at more articles about Akihiko regarding the incident. It was mostly him denying the connection between Sumire saving him and him raiding a child trafficking site.

"Sanada-san is surely adamant about his stance regarding Sumire-chan's heroism." She said with a downcast look.

"We can't trust Shirogane as well." Ryuji argued.

"What made you say that?"

"You expect her to tell the truth after she tried to cuff us? What if she is making us target Ren and the newbies while they wait until we get too tuckered out?"

Ann sees a point in Ryuji's logic. "True, they cuffed us when we planned on defending them. But that was before we knew they were Persona users. And them being Persona users makes things 10x scarier."

Yusuke adds his argument. "It simply puts to show that we have no idea who to believe. We can simply rely on Ren, though his lack of contact and communication obviously puts us on edge."

Haru placed her argument. "We can't trust Sanada-san either. The last time we trusted a detective, we were already planned to be killed. And even though he isn't entirely with Mitsuru-san, it could be possible he is using us as expendable assets."

Makoto took into account all their hypothetical arguments. She sighed as she resorted to a last option.

"I guess I'm gonna have to call Futaba-chan again. We'll play our own game at this point."

"What do you have in mind, Makoto?"

"We'll have Futaba reserve us seats for her live interview. We WILL make sure she gives up Ren's true plan."

Chapter Text

March 24, 20XX

Location: Ogikubo, Tokyo
Time: 0800 hours

 

After sending her message to Kasumi (who ran off with Akechi and Morgana to Setsumagi for the intel heist), Shiho sighed sadly as she entered the ramen shop. Normally, she would just go buy crepes or bread for her breakfast, but she decided to eat there to kill time until the plan begins. The chef somehow recognizes her as he gave out the menu.

"Shiho Suzui. It's been a while since we last saw you here."

"Oh, hey." She replied with a forced smile, her gaze instantly going back to the menu.

"Something the matter? I don't remember you coming here for breakfast back then." Even the chef noticed.

"I just feel like having a huge breakfast. That's all."

After ordering five beef ramen bowls, Shiho told the chef to take his time in serving her orders as she has all morning to do so. She began to wonder how things will go well in their plan. 

Normally, the Phantom Thieves would just infiltrate a 'Palace' and look for a treasure. She recalled what Morgana told her after her awakening the previous week. But things are way different this time. And especially when I heard that Akechi-kun tried to kill Ren during one of their missions....

Ren...

Why are you so daring all the time?

Shiho began to turn pink at the thought of their leader. She tried shaking her head off the thought and went back to the plan.

Sumire-chan is also gonna try her best to be helpful in this one, since this is her second mission with them. I should ask her for tips in regards to being the rookie of the group.

She receives a message from Sumire. 'Guys, my Dad just invited me to his show tonight. I dunno why he suddenly made me a guest, but I have a bad feeling it's about Hiroshima.' The message alone made Shiho worry further as the possibility of a missing member in their mission puts the whole thing at risk. She slammed her head to table in troubled thoughts.

Damnit, how the hell are we gonna pull this off? Where's Maruki-san when you need him?

After finishing her last bowl, she paid and thanked the chef before heading for Shibuya. Reaching for her pocket to get the train fare, she felt a bullet inside and decided to meet up with Ren and Maruki in Shibuya. After arriving in the back-alley gunstore Untouchable, she finds Ren struggling to customize some of the weapons. Maruki, however, is nowhere in sight.

"Having a problem there?" She greeted Ren with a blank expression.

"A bit." He pretended to fix the gun. "It's a lot tricky to add the extra firepower for Sumire's rifle." A chuckle can be heard behind him as a man with a cap and large military coat approaches Shiho.

"You got way too many chicks on your team, Ren."

"Come on, Iwai. It isn't what you think it is." Ren furrowed his eyebrows in annoyance.

Iwai didn't seem seem to stop enjoying. "Well, if being a Phantom Thief makes you a ladies man, go figure. I'm just surprised they can hold a lot of guns."

Shiho whipped out the bullet and asked Iwai for a matching ballistic in his menu. While the gruff checks out his mini-warehouse, Ren walks up to her.

"I take it you finished breakfast?" He kindly asked.

"Yeah. Five ramen bowls wasn't really bad at all." She responded with a downcast look only to switch to a startled one after Ren expressed his shock to how many bowls she ate.

"Why do you sound surprised?"

"If I know one thing, Sumire actually ate 7 in under two hours."

Seven!? In two hours?! Fuck, his girlfriend had a bigger stomach than mine or Ryuji's!

Ren managed to read Shiho's silence as she kept her eyes wide open after hearing that. Shiho quickly recovered as Iwai returns with a PKP Pecheneg machine gun.

"Well, this is the closest I can get for ya." He gave an apologetic look at her. "The bullet is from an M249, yet we don't even have the replica for it here."

"It's okay." She gave a small smile. "Mind if Ren can customize it on his tab?"

"Wait, what?"

"Hahaha! Letting Ren pay for the changes? Alright, you got a deal there."

As Shiho and Iwai shook hands, Ren shook his head in disbelief.

"I just had to tell her about this place."

 

Location: LeBlanc, Yongen-Jaya
Time: 1200 hours

 

Arriving at the famed cafe that housed the Phantom Thieves, Shiho made her way inside as she looks at the place.

"Quaint... Peaceful... Make ya wanna live like a grandpa... Man, they weren't kidding." She mumbled to herself as a man with a pink shirt and beige pants looked at her with a smile.

"Welcome. Please have a seat."

"Thank you!"

As she sat on the booths, Sojiro presented to her the menu as he picked up the newspaper next to the phone. After Shiho ordered her lunch, Sojiro tells her that her meal will be served shortly. Soon after, the doorbell rings and alerts the two of the new customer.

"Welcome." Sojiro greeted him with a half-smile, opposed to how Shiho entered.

"Thanks, Sakura-san." The man bowed his head as he made his way to Shiho.

"Oh, Doc! What are you doing here?" Shiho sprang up from her seat as Sojiro looked at the two.

"Well, I was gonna come here to have the good feeling of reminiscence."

"About the coffee or about the Phantom Thieves?" Sojiro sternly asked him as he damn well remembered that he talked to Futaba a few times and made her desire into fruition. Sojiro himself admitted that he somewhat shared the same desire as Futaba, but wished he didn't submit to his alternate reality that easily.

"Well, both actually." Maruki showed a sheepish smile as he turned to Shiho. "I was gonna ask you what you're doing here though."

As the two sat down, Shiho looked down at her feet and untied her ponytail. She then spoke up with a somber tone.

"I just wonder if I'm actually worth it."

"Hmm?"

"You know... being a Phantom Thief and all."

Maruki looked at her cluelessly until he realized what she was implying. "Oh. You want me to hear your thoughts on it?"

Shiho gave a short nod as she looked at him dead in the eye.

"Actually, it all started after I told Ann that I was moving away..."

 

18 months ago, September 20XX

Location: Shujin Academy, Aoyama-Itchome
Time: 1730 hours

 

"Have you finished your goodbye with Ann and her friend?"

Shiho's mom sadly asked her, knowing her daughter is going to be alone once again.

"Y-Yeah. I told her I'll come back soon."

"That may be a long time, however. Considering that this city has gone to hell ever since the Phantom Thieves showed up, I don't want any of us to be in trouble." Her father strictly explained as he held a grudge on Shujin Academy for their inaction towards his daughter's unfortunate fate. His words shut down Shiho's hope in reuniting with her best friend.

"As soon as we arrived home, we packed our remaining stuff and immediately took the long way to Nayami. Of course, it was boring as fuck on the way there, but it was giving an emptier feeling than I thought." Shiho recalled the series of events that transpired as she then went to the part of her enrollment in Nayami National High.

"After we arrived in our new home, we directly went to the school and had me enrolled there immediately. I was used to Shujin being a big school that I felt overwhelmed by how big Nayami National High was. The science labs were wide and had a lot of apparatuses there to accommodate two classes at once! Then there is a cafeteria for us to eat instead of feeding ourselves in the classrooms, the courtyard, or the rooftop! The classrooms and library were huge due to the number of students attending, so we kinda hit the jackpot in a way."

Maruki laughed at how enthusiastic Shiho was in explaining her story. Earlier he saw her with a sad face, and now he gazes at her as she went to a cheerful look. Sojiro can't help but listen to them as well after serving their food.

"As much as I enjoyed how living the countryside life is, I still felt empty."

Aaaaand she's back to being sad.

 

Location: Nayami National High School
Time: 0800 hours

"On my first month in school, people gave me weird looks and comments along the lines of 'A city girl in the sticks? She must have fucked up big time.' or 'Only a scandal would force a girl like her to come here. And honestly..."  Her eyes began to tear up as she tried to wipe them off. "I never felt that alienated before. I mean, Ann felt like that as well but I became her friend after a few days. As for me? Who the hell would even be friends with a rape victim from the urbanized life? Even the teachers seem to talk to me out of pity."

"And you wish for them to see you as a normal person without any labels?"

"Yes."

"We're so sorry, Suzui-san. We were not aware that someone leaked your information." One of the teachers apologized while the other gave her reassurance.

"We'll look into it and reprimand the one who leaked it."

As she listened to them, she gave them a grim look that made one teacher flinch.

"I don't think you plan to help me out entirely."

"What made you say that accusation?"

"Because the teachers in Shujin said the same thing before and after I was violated!" Shiho's tearful look went parallel with her present-day look. She continued as she cried her heart out.

"I helped an old classmate of mine ward off the rumors he was shot at, and I damn well know it isn't true. Try to reprimand your own students after they let out something that is not meant to go out!" She ran off and went straight to the rooftop, hiding there to cry freely until she slept. She woke up around night time with 7 missed calls, and depressingly went home without giving a good explanation.

Maruki and Sojiro looked at each other, then at Shiho. Shiho bawled her eyes as she looked at them staring at her not out of pity but out of concern and openness.

"Go on. We're listening now." Sojiro gave her an assuring look as she continued. Shiho then continued as a few more tears leaked from her eyes.

 

17 months ago, October 20XX

"After the whole Okumura incident, people only approached me if I was supporting the Phantom Thieves. I only told them they saved my life, and they immediately scrutinized me for it. Like, what the fuck is wrong with supporting them? As far as I know, the Thieves never did anything wrong. I knew something was off, but what can I do to help? I'm just a nobody."

"Tch." She gave a disapproving look. "The hell is wrong with them?"

A girl purposefully spills milk on her meal, causing Shiho to chuck it to her hair. The girl was furious after everyone laughed at her instead of Shiho.

"I hope those Phantom Thieves kill you, you slut!"

"I thought you never believed in that crap?" She gave off a smug grin as people whispered around her. "If anything, they should go after you and your posse there."

The principal arrived and called the both of them to his office only to let Shiho go free.

"Justice always prevails..."

"Hey, Suzui!" A boy called out.

She turned and saw him running up to her. "Whatcha want with me?"

"You believe in the Phantom Thieves? Why?"

"I owe them a life debt after they arrested the man who sexually assaulted me. If they were the ones who saved your life, wouldn't you repay them?"

Her question stunned the boy as she walked off.

"So you were aware of the Phantom Thieves for how long?"

"When Ann told me that Kamoshida was arrested for good, I felt a relief on my chest. Then she showed me their first calling card, which gave a red flag considering I only know one person who would write like that. But I shrugged it off as if it was a joke. But when the news came rolling about Madarame, that mafia guy in Shibuya, and Medjed.... I can't help but believe in them for doing something what others can't do."

"You seem to find inspiration from the Phantom Thieves. Did you use that inspiration in Nayami?"

Shiho paused to think on the times her strength and faith in the Phantom Thieves (specifically, Ann and Ren) was applicable in her new life.

"Well, there was that one time I was forced to teach the sports club volleyball against my wishes. Though I didn't gain any friends from the sports club, I did teach them not only volleyball but also a few sports ethics."

"Looks like Takamaki-san wasn't joking about the whole 'volleyball is life' thing."

Shiho laughed at the comment, knowing that Ann really loves using the "_______ is Life" joke. "Well, yes and no. One, I do wish to compete as a professional volleyball player in the Olympics, mainly to outshine Kamoshida and to make my family and friends proud. Second, I see myself more as an adventurer, so maybe an anthropologist or something along those lines could help me."

 

"But that doesn't give out a lot of money unless you're searching for artifacts." Sojiro pointed out as he gave an exasperated look.

"Well, I would get paid for discovering some ancient civilization or something. If not, I'll settle for becoming a trainer." She curtly shrugged as she finished her food.

"You have big dreams, Suzui-san."

"Well, they only came to my head after I found Ren's resident idiots."

Sojiro was wondering who she was talking about until Maruki figured out.

"You mean Daisuke and Kana?"

 

16 months ago November 20XX

"Yup!" she changed to her happy face, "Those two were very chatty to the point that the whole anthropology thing caught my interest. Kana was interested in becoming like some badass artifact hunter while Daisuke was more of the suave man with a plan when it came to that. After I clarified them about what they were talking about, only Daisuke continued to talk to me. Kana only became my friend after I saved her ass in gym and English class. One day changed for all of us...."

"You better thank her, Kana!" Daisuke's voice boomed at the now-empty classroom.

"Just because she helped me in English doesn't guarantee her a friendship pass." Kana bitched around while applying her lipstick.

"Yeah, well she made you copy her answers and saved your ass a lot in gym class. Just show some gratitude to her, will ya?"

"Goddamnit, Dai. You're simping on her already?"

"Shut up! You're acting like those girls who leaked her info."

Kana stopped in her tracks and slapped Daisuke hard.

"You better watch it, Daisuke, or I'll-"

"Or you'll what?"

"Suzui!"

Shiho appears from the stairway as she finished reading a book. "I heard everything, you know."

"Then you damn well know I won't go easy on you, Suzui." Kana warned her.

"Then go. Your friend seems to be eager to talk to me." She dared with a stoic tone.

"Coz he has a thing to be nice to girls he likes."

"Fuck off, Kana."

As the two passed by Shiho, the loner spoke two words that were directed to Kana. "You're forgiven." She then makes her way to the rooftop. Daisuke goes after her to keep her company, forcing the suddenly doubtful Kana to join them.

"H-Hey, Suzui..." Daisuke looked at Shiho, who was standing at the edge. "HEY! GET OFF FROM THERE!"

"Damnit, Dai. You're too- Holy shit! Don't you dare jump!" Kana found herself in a state of panic.

As Shiho glanced at the ground below, she slowly sat down and watched the sun set, much to the relief of the two.

"Were you nuts about jumping off the roof?" Daisuke scolded her. "You could have died!"

"How do you think I ended up here?" Shiho hung her head, trying to avoid crying. Daisuke glared at Kana as he walked towards her.

"What the hell was on that leak?"

"Dai.."

"Tell me, damnit! We already lost one friend, and we're gonna lose another."

Kana reluctantly told Daisuke what was on the leak: Shiho was abused physically and sexually by Kamoshida to the point where she jumped 40 feet off a rooftop to kill herself. Pretty soon, they hear her weeping with her head buried in her knees.

"Hey, it's alright..." Daisuke tried to hug her but recoiled at the last second. She kept crying as Kana decided to hug her instead.

"I-I'm sorry for doing that to you..." She suddenly felt the guilt of her actions crawling on her skin and forcing her to cry. "I just thought you made those stuff up to make yourself famous, you know?"

"Not a valid reason to do that, you know." Daisuke looked at his crying friend as he scolded Kana again. "You became the very thing you detest."

"Dai, mind if you can watch her for a bit?"

"Where ya going?"

"To get myself expelled."

"WHAT?!"

"It's my fault, okay?"

"Like hell, you're getting expelled! No one is leaving today!" Daisuke clenched his fist as he struggled to keep his composure. "Not anymore."

Shiho lessened her crying and noticed the two arguing about the sudden decision. "Please don't do that."

"Huh? But why? I sorta ruined your stay here in Nayami National High?"

Shiho then told them that finding another school would be difficult for her if her parents found out about another attempt. She was planning on jumping when no one was looking anymore.

"Okay, how about this? You promise you will NEVER jump anymore if we keep tabs on you. Alright?"

"That was a poorly established promise, Daisuke! It's supposed to be 'You promise to never attempt something like this again if we help you get used to this place'.

Kana realized that she just spoke out of character.

"Look who's the sensible one now... Hmmm?"

"You bastard! You tricked me!"

Shiho began to giggle, then laugh at the two as they began bickering.

"You somewhat made new friends in the end."

"Yeah, and I was planning to spend New Years with them until I went into a coma."

 

"A coma!?" Sojiro's tone went worrisome as he thought that hearing the small counselling session is a blessing and a curse.

"Yeah. I just fell ill one day and went down to it for nearly three weeks. I don't know how or why, but even I find it a mystery."

Maruki remained quiet as he thought to himself in his head. It was foolish of me to grant Takamaki her wish after all. I nearly killed Suzui-san for it.

"Then I just woke up one day, and before I know it... Daisuke and Kana apologized for no reason."

Sojiro tried to help out Maruki by asking her of her memory prior to the coma.

"What do you remember before you went out cold?

 

15 months ago, December 20XX

Location: Hodabayashi District
Time: 1633 hours

 

"Man, Tokyo looks so dull after the elections."

Daisuke drank his soda as he, Kana, and Shiho watched the news in Taurus.

"Can't believe that Shido even tried to persuade this town to vote for him and his 'bright future'." Kana said in disdain.

"My friend said that he ruined the life of one of her friends by sending him to prison. So I guess their broadcast a few days ago was true all along." Shiho added as she finished her beef bowl.

As the three watch, Shiho suddenly sees the sky on TV turning red. She rubs her eyes to make sure she wasn't hallucinating.

"Is it me or is the sky turning red in Tokyo?"

"Huh?" Daisuke checked the TV and saw the very thing Shiho saw. "What the hell?"

"That's giving off an ominous vibe." Kana spoke out.

Seconds later, bony structures pop out of the ground as Tokyo is being overrun by what looks like a skeletal tree. The camera gave a short view of a certain group standing in the Shibuya crossing as they stare at the tree.

"Ann?" After mentioning her name, she began to feel dizzy. Kana is alerted and asks Daisuke to call her parents, but Shiho insists that she is fine. She bids the two farewell to go home on her own. As she arrived home, she noticed her parents watching Shibuya under terror.

"Those Phantom Thieves better save those poor souls..." Her dad muttered under his breath.

"God, guide these young souls to victory..." Her mother prayed. Shiho decided to sit with them and watch as the battle unfolds. Seeing the Phantom Thieves battle against a giant, mechanic demon as they battled more and more. When her parents went out to buy dinner, Shiho continued watching as she saw the faces of the Phantom Thieves.

"I saw them on TV. Ann, Ryuji, Yusuke, Niijima-senpai, Okumura-senpai, Futaba.... some weird cat thing, and Ren. I thought it was my dizziness hitting me hard and making me see things, and after they went down and battered to the core, I forced myself awake as I hoped for them to win."

"NO! NONONONONO! You can't just go down and give up!" She roared at the TV. "I know you're there to save us! Please get back up!"

Her eyes widened as she saw them stand up one by one. A wide grin was displayed on her face, and it became shock and awe when she witnessed Ren summon Satanel.

"Oh, my God....."

"That was the biggest thing I've ever seen. It was slightly bigger that the giant robot thing, but it was bigger than their Personas. And after it shot the heard of the robot, I felt a pang on my head. Then I collapsed."

 

"So that's it, huh?"

"Yeah. My mom told me she found me unconscious with a smile, then my face went back to being blank as I reached the hospital."

"That must have been hard. Being unresponsive for three weeks...."

"I woke up from my suicide attempt after two weeks. No biggie." And just like that, Shiho returned to her cocky nature.

"You must have had some sort of unbreakable spirit in you, Suzui-chan."

Maruki snapped his fingers suddenly as the words of Sojiro reached his ears. "So that's why your codename is Diamond!"

"Codename? Wait, are you-" Sojiro lost track of what he was gonna say as Shiho gave him cocked eyebrows in response.

"Great. Another Phantom Thief. Is this why you came here?"

Shiho winced out of guilt. "Yeah. Sorry about that."

"It's fine." he reassured her, "Though I reckon you wanna continue your story?"

Shiho nodded and opened her mouth to speak again. "So after everything was said and done, things were back to normal in school. That was, until last year...."

 

11 months ago, April 20XX

Location: Class 3-A, Nayami National High
Time: 0900 hours

 

"I can't believe we're classmates thanks to you, Shiho!"

Kana joyfully hugged Shiho as she and Daisuke finally reached the top class on their final year in high school.

"In your face, bitches! Daisuke Matsunaga has conquered you all!" Daisuke let out an evil laugh as he taunted his fellow basketball teammates.

"You got lucky coz that Suzui chick is blowing you hard!" One of them insulted Shiho.

"What the hell did you say? Your mom is blowing you hard?" Shiho retaliated and gained some praise from the basketball team.

"Dude, you just got served by her..."

"Hey, Aoi, don't try to shove a fist at her..."

"Yeah, please don't. The last thing we need is expulsion."

"Hey, I ain't like that geekball Amamiya who assaulted Shido last year."

Shiho didn't like that one. "You have no right to speak of him like that."

"Oh? Triggered something from the cute little fuck rabbit?"

"Aoi, knock it off...." Daisuke tries to break them off.

"You have some nerve to come here and insult my friends, asshole." Shiho glared at him as she clenched her fist.

"Hmmm... I was hoping it wasn't your coach who got ya ripped inside. I wonder how Amamiya would do you if he was such a sleazebag in the f-"

POW!

A tooth falls onto the ground. Shiho shakes the pain off her fist as Aoi looks back at her with a bloody mouth.

"You little...!"

He raises his fist as he attempts to punch Shiho back. Instead, Daisuke takes the hit and gets knocked to the ground. He swings another fist but is instead hit by a frizzy-haired boy.

"That's enough out of you, Aoi."

"Amamiya...!"

Shiho, Kana, and Daisuke stand there with smiles as Ren saves Shiho from getting hurt. Daisuke complained, however.

"Why didn't ya show up in time, man?"

"I forgot there were no trains in Nayami."

Shiho chuckled. "You got used to city life, huh?"

"Yep."

As Aoi attempts to stand his ground, his teammates block him from causing a fight and drag him to his classroom. Fortunately, they sided with Ren... but out of guilt for humiliating him in his final days of Nayami during his probation.

"Next time I find you hurting my girlfriend, I'll kick your ass." Ren defended Shiho, who blushed behind him. He turns to her and asks her if she felt okay.

"Y-Yeah, thanks. I should be asking you the same though, considering I helped in getting Maika Enishi to get ya outta there."

"Wait.." Ren looked at her with shock. "You did that?"

Daisuke and Kana asked the same thing. Shiho nodded.

"I just wanted to say thanks for, you know, helping out Ann and all." She slowly swayed her body as she felt a pink tint on her cheeks.

For obvious reasons, Daisuke brought up what Ren said.

"Wait, does this mean you two are a thing? Ren, you bastard!"

"I can't believe you actually believed what I said." Ren facepalmed as Kana laughed.

"Oh, Dai... you're one hopeless heap of shame."

"I could say the same to you, you cheap knockoff!"

"You little..."

As the two bickered like always, Ren sighed in both relief and disbelief.

"Even after I left for a year, they're still at it."

"Hey, at least they improved on a few things."

"How've you been, Shiho?" A smile crept on his face, glad to see a familiar face with him this time in the school that cast him out.

"I've been alright." She smiled back.

"As soon as I debriefed Ren what happened, he and I would spend most time alone together. He would share stories about Sumire and he saved her more than once like a damsel in distress, but he remained humble about it."

"How is your relationship with Ren since his return?"

"Well, he began to teach me stuff he learned in Tokyo. The first time we hung out without the knowledge of Daisuke and Kana was in Nayami's branch of Penguin Sniper as we played a few rounds of 501."

"501?" Maruki gave a puzzled tone as Sojiro used a simpler term.

"She meant darts."

"Oh, my bad. Continue."

 

10 months ago, May 20XX

Location: Penguin Sniper- Nayami Branch, Yokirewa District

Ren and Shiho arrive in Penguin Sniper, where Ren began to explain how fun it was to spend time with the Phantom Thieves in playing darts and billiards. They were greeted by some students who then whispered and murmured about the two of them. Ren gave them a deadly gaze that made even the game attendants mind their own business. Shiho saw his actions and playfully slapped his arm.

"Gee, you really dunno when to keep eyes off you."

"What can I say? I have gained enough charm to even catch guys' attention, and sadly I don't swing that way." He spoke with a smirk on his face.

"Cheeky bastard."

"So..." he proposed, "501 or Deadshot?"

Shiho looked at the options next to her. On her left is an open space for darts partnered by complimentary drinks. On her right is a wide billiard table with a mini-snack bar. She hummed as she began to choose wisely.

"Would 501 be alright?"

"Of course."

As the two pay up to play 501, Shiho began to ask him a few questions.

"Last month, you defended me from Aoi by calling me your girlfriend." She then gave a sly smile. "And since I know that was a lie... I assume Ann managed to snag ya?"

Her comment made Ren miss the bullseye and land on a lane of 5. "I wonder if you're trying to make me lose already."

She shrugged. "That was your own fault. Your defense?"

"Ann didn't snag me."

"Huh? Wait, why?!"

Shiho was suddenly put off from her playful nature. "No fair! I was gonna try to tease her already."

Ren again missed the bullseye. "Well, at one point I did like her...."

"Go on..." She drew close to him out of curiosity.

"... but she knew that things would not work if we went dating."

"Pfft. If anything, Ann wouldn't mind having you anytime, anywhere."

"You sound sure about that."

"I'm her best friend. Duh."

Ren finally hit the bullseye. "Well, we're not dating."

Shiho pouted as it was her turn to throw the darts.

"My turn for questions..." Ren's expression changed. "Did you try to jump off again?"

Shiho paused before hitting the bullseye. "I'm sorry... Daisuke must have told you, huh?"

"Yep."

She shot her second bullseye. "And what Kana did?"

"Yep."

She flunked on the last dart, having lost her focus. "I'm really sorry."

Ren gave her a short hug that caught her off-guard. "Why not you try to beat me so I can tell ya who I'm dating."

She took the bait - hook, line, and sinker. "You're on."

"I obviously lost that match, but it was quite fun. I insisted on 3 rounds, and I lost on Round 2. And even after we spent the whole afternoon there, we would end up becoming regulars in that place."

"Any other activities you two have engaged?"

"Well, we tried running together in that open field in Hadobayashi... and damn, he runs fast. And then there was that school play where I had to play Ophelia from Hamlet. It was somewhat funny because..."

 

8 months ago, July 20XX

Location: Nayami National High Gymnasium
Time: 2045 hours

"UNCLE CLAUDIUS! It is too late now to escape my kingdom!" Ren bellowed as he portrayed Hamlet. "I have exposed thee of thy treachery for which you have deceived us for far too long...."

"You think you can win against me, poor boy?" his fellow actor devilishly laughed. "You have been wounded and poisoned by Laertes' blade! Thou cannot defeat me as I flee!"

Ren then pulls out a throwing knife (which everyone thinks is a prop). "Not if this will stop thee!"

He tosses it to the actor, who hopes that it hits the pillow under his costume. "GAH!"

"Do not take me for a fool, Uncle... the blade I have thrown at you will reveal your true form!"

"You fiend..."

"Make a choice, for we are all bound to die... Isn't that right, Laertes?"

"Think of this as a repayment for exposing his treachery, boy..." Daisuke slumps as he plays possum.

As the actor pretends to drink the cup and die from the poison, Ren suddenly waltz his way to the center.

"I did it, Father! I finally avenged thee!" He raised his fist and shook it as he waits for the right moment to drop. "I have destroyed our family for thy justice! I have destroyed my life for thine own vengeance! And in the bitter end, I shall watch with thee in the heavens as the kingdom falls in anarchy!" He falls dramatically and faked his death.

"He insisted on using an actual throwing knife instead of a toy sword to poison Claudius. Of course, everyone was scared of it. But that's what makes Ren... well, Ren."

 

"I can't believe he actually went to act in a school play... I wonder if that caught him the attention of the ladies." Sojiro just can't help but tease the poor bastard as he imagined a crowd chasing after him.

"I know, right? He wasn't even supposed to be that sexy in that voice of his..." Shiho admitted.

"Well, I guess we'll skip one month, considering he spent his vacation here and all..."

"Which is why I kinda felt depressed a bit."

Her words caught Maruki's attention again.

"Why do you say that?"

"Well...."

 

5 months ago, October 20XX

Location: Amamiya residence
Time: 1920 hours

 

"Summer was busy for me, too. So I was training for the tournament as well. I managed to hang out with Ren again, but he looked stressed. So during one of our group projects..."

"Ren, you feeling okay?" Shiho noticed Ren's weary appearance.

"Sorry. I haven't slept properly the entire summer vacation."

"I bet Ann dragged ya to a lot of shopping places, huh?" Shiho elbowed him playfully.

"How did you know my summer was with Ann and the others?"

"Uh, coz you told me before you left?" Shiho now looked at him with concern.

"Sorry," Ren yawned, "I'll go take a nap, alright?"

"Suit yourself."

As soon as Ren caught Zs, Daisuke whispered to Shiho's ear.

"Someone's jealous."

"Shut up. He told me he isn't dating my best friend-"

"Which means you're the perfect candidate."

"He ALSO told me he has a girlfriend." Shiho emphasized to keep Daisuke off her ass.

"I kept telling myself, 'I won't fall for him. He's like my first guy best friend and all! Sorry, Dai, but I feel closer with R- Aw, sonuvabitch. I can't let these thoughts hit me...'"

"So you began to fall for him as well?"

"Not entirely."

"Go on."

"After I finished our project and gave Ren his blanket, I decided to keep my head off of him by ignoring him for a week."

"That didn't work, didn't it?"

"Nope. As always, I get bashful and I can't help but talk to him or Dai or Kana just to shake off the feeling."

"So then what happened?"

"I started opening up the topic about Phantom Thieves. He kinda stiffened at first, but he told me about the crazy adventures they did. I knew back then they were the Phantom Thieves, but since my coma.... I already forgotten about them until the Alice incident."

"So he just shared you the information despite your slight memory loss on the Phantom Thieves business and all?"

"Yeah. And before I know it..."

 

1 month ago, Valentine's Day 20XX

Location: Class 3-A
Time: 1200 hours

 

"Please have my chocolates, Amamiya-san!"

"No way! Have mine!"

"You two are cheating! Taste mine first!"

Ren is then overwhelmed by the girls trying to give him chocolates. In the corner of the room, Daisuke bangs his head to the wall while Kana sits and watches him.

"How come he gets the ladies' attention?"

"Guy's a charmer, y'know." She turns around to see Shiho return. "Oh, Shiho! Perfect timing!"

"Why?"

Kana leaned on her ear to whisper. "Please tell me those chocolates are for Daisuke."

"Nope." She answered bluntly as she gestured the girls hounding on Ren to give her space.

"This came from the school mail. Chocolates didn't melt, for some reason."

"What!? You have a girlfriend, Ren-kun?" One of the girls pouted sadly.

"Yeah, I do. But don't worry, these chocolates won't be wasted."

The girls' screams pierced Shiho's ears as she placed her chocolates as well.

"Oh, Suzui has the hots for him also!" A girl with long locks pointed out.

"Oooh, how scandalous!"

"What are you? A tween?"

Ren looked at Shiho as he opened the chocolates. On top of the chocolate box was a piece of paper that said, "Please go to the prom with me."

"FOR REAL!?"

"SUZUI-SAN, YOU'RE SERIOUS?!"

"WE HAVE PROM?!"

Ren smiled back at her and wrote on the paper.

"All the time for you until I reunite with my lover. He wrote that with that damned smile on his face, and damn me if the last lines never made me twitch my eye."

"Ah, he has done it to the maximum level. I'm a bit jealous of Ren at this point."

"Sakura-san, you can't be serious..."

Shiho bowed in front of Ren and goes outside of her classroom, pumping her fist as she internally celebrated. But her expression changed after she remembered the mail she just gave. Gotta endure it, Shiho. I am not gonna be as jealousy-prone as Ann.

 

Present Day

Time: 1411 hours

 

"So this counseling session is somewhat more about your feelings for Ren."

"Huh?"

"None of this ever mentioned about your doubts as a Phantom Thief."

Shiho processed herself and realized she has finally fell for him and shifted her supposed talk to another direction.

"HOLY SHIT."

"Don't worry. We won't tell a soul."

"You two are unfair! You didn't stop me from talking about my feelings!" She pouted as Sojiro patted her head.

"Well, If I were to remember it closely.... you need to be saved the Phantom Thief before you can express your true feelings."

"But the least you can do was tell me to get straight to the point!" She furiously blushed as she continued pouting.

"I can tell you this, Suzui-san... If you ever get distracted by the dynamic that Ren and Sumire are showing, there is always room for you to grow your own dynamic and outshine them in your way." Maruki advised her strongly.

"Should I say my thoughts on being a Thief?"

"Will it be lengthy?"

"I'll try to keep it short this time." She slammed her head on the table. "Why the hell did I pour out my feelings......."

As Maruki and Sojiro refilled their coffee, Shiho then spoke out and summarized her Phantom Thief thoughts.

"As much as it fun to finally be a Phantom Thief, there are also reasons to not like it. Sometimes, I would wonder if what I'm doing is right. Shooing away Ann and her team just to make sure they don't get hurt. I mean, we will ask for their help eventually... but now, it feels like the secrecy of things is a moral dilemma for me."

Sojiro then turned off the TV and guided both Maruki and Shiho to the attic. The two were astonished to how many decorations Ren had during his stay in Tokyo.

"These gifts were given to him by the people he saved during his time as a Phantom Thief. From Ann-chan giving him that Rise Kujikawa poster, Kitagawa's stars on the ceiling... Hell, even Futaba gave him that I Love Tokyo shirt despite it being too small for him."

Shiho gave a little water to the plant when she saw its leaves dying. "Why show us this, Sakura-san?"

"There were many times the kids would doubt their membership and pathway to justice. Then Ren would just encourage them more and more with minimal verbal cues. For him, actions speak louder than words. And I believe it's best that your actions will determine where your moral dilemma should lean to." Sojiro discussed.

"I agree with Sakura-san." Maruki added, "It may be a dream come true for you, but it is all on you to show how much you want to be a Phantom Thief. It's always the hardest choices that requires the strongest wills."

Shiho then pondered quietly. Ren, Sumire, Akechi, Morgana. They have been through this more than I did, and from what I learned... Not everyone has the strongest will. Especially Ren.

"But how will that help my doubts as a member of the Phantom Thieves in our current mission?"

"Now that, is all up to you." Maruki places a hand on her shoulder as she gave a confident nod.

"Okay. If I managed to stay strong on my own for nearly 18 months as Shiho Suzui, then I can handle being strong for the Phantom Thieves as Diamond."

Both adults gave her a smile and began to make their way downstairs. But an unexpected surprise awaits them downstairs by the booths.

"I knew it."

"Sumire-chan?"

"Yoshizawa-san?"

Sojiro remained quiet as he analyzed her expression.

"You heard us, didn't you?"

Sumire nods her head slowly.

"Even at my...."

"Yes." Her response was low.

"Look, I'm so sorry. I just couldn't hold it in anymore." Shiho cautiously approached Sumire.

"Actually, it's okay." Sumire gazed at her with a positive expression. "I kinda knew you liked him since you two were classmates together."

"But-"

"I have my right to be jealous, and so do you. You're jealous about me being his girlfriend while I'm jealous about you being one of his only friends in his school. I'm not suggesting that you can try to woo him for his heart, but you can try to wow him with your style."

Sumire's words showed how much she matured during their long distance relationship. Maruki was at a loss for words while Sojiro can only chuckle.

"Smooooooth."

Sumire extends her hand to Shiho. "Well, we wouldn't want our Diamond to crack during today's emergency meeting. Right?"

"Emergency meeting?"

"I'll explain later."

Shiho smiles and shakes her hand. "Thanks for helping me lift something off my chest."

"You can thank Sojiro-san and Doctor Maruki for listening to you more."

"I just wish I confessed sooner." Shiho felt bashful for keeping her secret from the couple.

"You'll find someone someday. Like Ann-senpai. Or Makoto-senpai. Or Haru-senpai." Sumire slowly finished her statement as she hugged Shiho tightly.

"Your boyfriend is such an asshole for being a Debonair."

"I know."

"Now, shall we get going?"

The two girls bade the doctor and the cafe owner farewell. Before Maruki can leave...

"Uh," Sojiro cleared his throat. "You gotta pay for her meal."

Chapter Text

March 24, 20XX

Location: Shibuya Central Street
Time: 1600 hours

 

Having a snack in the nearby diner, Sumire and Shiho wait for the others. Feeling a bit awkward, Shiho avoids Sumire's eyes for a while until Sumire pats her shoulder.

"Come on, I told you it's okay." Sumire chimed at Shiho.

"It feels wrong, though." She retorted.

"As long as I know you two aren't dating behind my back." Her grim tone somewhat betrayed her gleeful smile. Shiho then pulls off Sumire's glasses and tries to put them on.

"Shit, how do you see in these?" Shiho looked around with her glasses until she notices a few figures walking to her path.

"Come on, Shiho. Give back Sumire's glasses." Ren requested Shiho as the latter returned Sumire's glasses.

"S-Sorry." She blushed and looked down. Morgana knew from the get-go what that meant.

"Oh? Has the teasing become true?" He arrogantly taunted Shiho's feelings.

"Zip it, Morgana. Or I'm gonna tell Ann you sneak out of LeBlanc sometimes just to watch her sleep." Shiho blindly blackmailed him, and Morgana can't call her bluff.

"You wouldn't!"

"Morgana, you're better than this." Ren shook his head as he faced Shiho, who is still looking down.

"Is something wrong?" She got spooked a bit.

"N-Nothing. It's just..."

Sumire decided to tell Ren the truth. "She fell in love with you like how Ann-senpai, Makoto-senpai, and probably Haru-senpai did."

And there goes another tally. But at least I can use her old teasing as a rebuttal. Ren thought to himself.

"So you have finally fell to the harem route, huh?" he cockily teased Shiho with a smirk as he observed her face turning red.

"H-Hell no! I would n-never!"

"When did you find out about this, Sumi?" he pats her head, which made her blush more than Shiho.

"I saw her heading for LeBlanc. She was talking with Doctor Maruki and Sojiro-san."

"Oh, no..." Ren dramatically said. "The Harem God was discovered another candidate."

"REN!"

"Senpai!"

He laughs at their reactions. "I'm kidding. We all know Sumire is my one and only." He then switched his expression into a dumbfounded one. "Seriously, though... Sojiro does that sometimes."

"I can tell." Shiho shook her head off from Sojiro's girl comments. "But he does give great advice. He even showed me the attic."

"Which I can't believe you sleep there." Sumire playfully gave him a pout. "You know how hard it is for two people to sleep in there, Ren?"

"Not that hard." He replied nonchalantly.

"I didn't mean it literally."

Akechi and Kasumi arrive as the two lovers began playing with each other. Akechi fakes a vomit while Kasumi smacks his head.

"Quit being a baby, Akechi."

"Like you would have the balls to show public affection."

"I do. In MY world. All the time." She sports out a grin.

"Oh, I wonder how that Akira guy managed to handle you." He groaned.

"With tender, loving, and extensive care." She answered smugly, annoying Akechi even further.

"You did not need to tell me that."

Shiho and Kasumi hug each other until the former slapped her shoulder.

"The hell were you? I got so damned bored and let my heart out with embarrassment."

"What are you talking about?" Kasumi tilted her head in confusion.

"N-Never mind! Just start our little meeting, Ren."

Ren gave a stern nod and ordered everyone to follow him to Untouchable. As the group entered, Ren notices Iwai and Kaoru tinkering with the machine gun Shiho ordered earlier.

"I see you haven't paid the man, Ren." Shiho sighed in disappointment. "And here I thought, you had infinite money in those pockets of yours."

Iwai turns around and sees Ren and his crew. Kaoru stood up and offered Ren their special handshake. Akechi and Kasumi laughed while Shiho and Sumire looked at the two. Not soon after, even the Yoshizawa twins did her special handshake as Shiho stared at Akechi.

"Just a fist bump will do." Akechi reached his fist out and let Shiho jab at his knuckles lightly.

"So this is your new crew, huh?" Iwai observed their faces carefully. "Ren.... Yoshizawa #2 (Number 2?)... Machine Gun Chick... Blind Girl... and Spoiled Brat."

"The hell did you just call me?" Akechi was ready to throw Iwai down to the ground as Ren pointed out his disguise.

"Easy there, Jasone."

"Why the hell would you bring a blind girl here, Ren? That's fucked up." Iwai shook his head as Kasumi spoke.

"Do not worry, Mr. Gunsmith. I, Millee Strucker, am no weakling to my surroundings."

He sighed out of worry. "That doesn't help me, but whatever."

He then gives them the back area to hold the meeting. He glances at Kasumi again and notices her beauty mark behind her sunglasses.

"Have I seen you before?" He stopped her for a second.

"I believe not. This is my first being led here."

"Huh. It's funny coz you look like that Yoshizawa girl's twin with that mark on your eye."

Everyone froze as they slowly looked at Kasumi, who stopped dead in her tracks before Iwai laughed.

"I was just messing with ya. Go have fun."

As the group convened in the mini-warehouse, Ren lays out the 411 for the mission.

"Considering that my dear Sumi is tonight's guest instead of you, Akechi... (Piss off, Ren.) We're gonna have to operate behind the scenes. But after Sumire gave a compromise on Makoto's team, they know a slight bit of our operations so far."

"How the hell did they find out?" Kasumi looked at Ren with furrowed eyebrows.

"Either Naoto Shirogane or Akihiko Sanada told them about us. Considering that Yu Narukami is here in Tokyo while Yukari Takeba and her team were in Setsumagi earlier, they are the most probable snitches."

"So we're improvising." Akechi took a wild guess.

"Yeah. All of you will work as staff of the studio as you try to counter whatever Makoto and her team are doing."

Sumire analyzed the idea until she discovered a missing piece. "Wait, what about you?"

"I'll be your partner in the show."

"What?!"

"How are you gonna pull that off, Joker?"

"Please tell me you have a valid explanation for your stupidity."

"I am called by many names. Ren Amamiya. Akira Kurusu. Arsene Raoul Lupin. (What are you trying to do?) But now, they shall see in the spotlight," He steps on a box as he flexed his arms. "the one and only Phantom Thief Joker!"

Shiho spits her drink out and expressed her anger. "Are you fucking nuts? That's a kamikaze stunt you're trying to pull."

"I'm with Shiho-senpai. That's too dangerous, exposing yourself to public and all."

Ren looked at Sumire and sighed in defeat. "I know. But it's the only way we can catch her team off-guard. If there are any Kirijo soldiers, then we'll have them kicked out as well."

Akechi then reconsidered Ren's plan. "As much as I hate to admit, but his idea seems sound. Although Sumire will be garnering the attention for the most part, having Ren interrupt the show would keep the audience at their feet as we go in and do our job."

"He's right." Kasumi agreed with Akechi as she opened the blueprints. "The center stage is the widest spot in the area, and Joker can actually cling on the beams until we put the lights out for a sec. Meanwhile, for the staff...." She carefully studied the perimeter until she finally gets an idea. "Shiho, you'll be posing as one of the prop handlers. I need you to make sure that the new movement-sensing spotlights follow Joker and rig a few things like the vote caster or the sounds."

"On it!" Shiho made a salute as she understood her role.

"Akechi, you'll be the one taking charge of crowd control. If things get hot, you-"

"Fire my gun and let hell break loose. No worries." Akechi sort of deviated her idea, but was close enough.

"Morgana, you're on security. Hide in the shadows at the surveillance office and provide us with what you see."

"Roger!"

"I'll be on standby near the hall. Once I hear Akechi's shot, I'll take down whoever is in the area."

"Understood." Sumire gave her twin a determined look before receiving a hair scruff by her.

"In the meantime, good luck with all the juicy details in the show." She winked.

 

Location: Asakasa Mitsuke TV Station
Time: 1900 hours

 

After another long ride, Makoto and her team finally arrive in Tokyo. After a short break, they took the train to the TV station as they see Futaba already waiting outside with shaky knees.

"Already?" Ryuji looked at Futaba dejectedly. "How long were you waiting?"

"Since 5 pm!" Futaba extends her open hand. "You guys cursed me for lounging in the waiting area for too long!"

"It wasn't entirely our fault. If anything, you were too excited." Yusuke blankly told her as she stomped her foot down in anger.

"I shouldn't have given you that reservation if you were gonna bitch about it, Inari!"

"What did I do this time?"

"GUYS." Makoto's signature glare silenced the two as they made their way in. As the reach the 8th floor, they are slowly escorted by Akechi (who disguised himself as a security guard) to the studio. In the security room, Morgana signals the team of their arrival. Ren immediately ducked behind the props as Shiho (sporting a fake mustache) sets up the lights and audio in arrangement of their plan. Kasumi (disguised as an usherette) continues guiding the guests as she memorizes their seat numbers. The lights go dim for a sec as the show announcer introduces the host and guest.

" Ladiiiies and gentlemeeen! Boys and girls! It's another evening for our wonderful host of The Tonight Show with Shinici, Mr. Shinichi Yoshizawa!"

The crowd applauded as the elder Yoshizawa appears.

"And our lovely guest for tonight: Gymnast champion in the preliminary, national, AND international stage! With a reputation of heroism and a kind soul for young ones, give it up for Sumire Yoshizawa! "

"Bingo. Looks like she is here." Ann looked at Sumire carefully.

Sumire appears to the crowd, wearing a violet blouse and black slacks with white sneakers that give off her bad fashion sense (A bit okay on Ann's book, though.) while holding out a bouquet of flowers (obviously from Ren). She sat down along with her father as the show began.

"Good evening to you all, and good evening to you, Sumire!" He cheerfully greeted the crowd and the guest.

"It's an honor to be here on this show with you, Dad." She gave a sweet smile before frowning a bit. "Would've been nice if Kasumi were still here..."

Audible Awww noises can be heard from the crowd, and even Haru can sympathize with her.

"Even after all this time, she still wishes her sister was alive."

Everyone nodded until Futaba placed her headphones on, obviously going to watch the show that is literally in front of her via livestream.

"Yes, my dear. I wish so, too. In fact, I do have something to show you before we get started." Shinichi snaps his fingers, causing confetti and balloons to drop from the ceiling. A birthday song is then played while displaying the photos of Sumire and Kasumi.

"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!"

Sumire was speechless at what was happening. As she looked between the crowd, her father, and the screen behind them... all she can feel are tears of joy and sadness as the final photo showed them as toddlers.

"H-H-How?" She tried to wipe off her tears as she is crying on national television.

"One of the staff gave me a reminder about it. It was all at the last minute, so think of it as a surprise." Shinichi admitted to nearly forgetting his daughter's birthday. Sumire looked at Shiho, who gave her a thumbs up and then a mischievous smile as she used her lips to point out the photo behind them. Now there were sounds of awe as a photo of Sumire and Ren was displayed.

"W-W-Wait! I can explain about t-that..." She felt heat on her face as she was now getting embarrassed.

"It's okay, Sumire." He chuckled as he gave her a violet balloon. "I won't pry much on your relationship with him. We are going to be focusing on you entirely, Miss Birthday Girl!"

Meanwhile, Makoto shot a look at Futaba. Futaba waved her off, meaning the sudden insertion of the photo was not her doing.

"Now, let's talk about your recent win at the Rhythmic Acrobatics Tournament in Inaba last March 11. How did it feel to win four consecutive championships in a span of one year?" Shinichi had a little pride in his tone, but what can he do? Sumire won those tournaments by unanimous decisions.

"Well, honestly, I was a bit nervous when I competed back in Malaysia. Finishing the preliminaries was one thing, taking home the Nationals was another, and certainly the Olympic qualifier was another. It felt like my heart was gonna explode when I saw people from around Asia vying for those spots. And I'm only a high school student, so the odds were very high." Sumire answered her father's questions with confidence.

"I see. It seemed like Kasumi took over your body and earned those championships with those unanimous wins." While everyone laughed at the half-assed jest, Sumire and the other Phantom Thieves showed sad expressions as they were fooled into thinking Sumire is Kasumi not too long ago.

"It felt like it. It was as if Sumire Yoshizawa never existed..." Her tone became somber as she looked at her father with sad eyes. "On that fateful day, she was gone from all of us. We had to face our struggles on this. I had help after she passed, but it wasn't enough. Then I found someone who..." She swallowed her voice and wiped off more tears. "... saw through my pain and went out to help me in more ways than one. When I reached my all-time low, he saved me from a fate I would have been foolish to take. He showed me that I still have a chance in life not to continue mourning my sister and sinking further into depression, but to let me live life to its fullest and do these things to honor her instead."

From the crowd, Ann, Makoto, Futaba, and Haru wept as Ryuji and Yusuke listened to her words with sad emotions stinging their chest. From the ceiling, Ren felt those words personally as he tried to shake off the emotional feeling. "No time for tears until everything is clear." he whispered to himself. From the other areas of the studio, Shiho tries to drink her water as she didn't fathom how suicidal Sumire was until now. Akechi showed a downcast emotion as he wondered what would have happened if they didn't save her. Morgana heard her words from the security room and lowered his head as he pondered on Sumire's coping during the events that lead to Maruki's downfall. Kasumi, lastly, felt the words with the most personal emotions. She slumped down from the wall she leaned on and cried silently as she took in her dead sister's counterpart's words of despair and resolve.

"I'm sorry, Sumire..." She wept.

Shinichi wiped his eyes off the tears. "I... I knew you were having a hard time. But to think you've been holding that in for years..." He can't help but give his daughter a hug to comfort her. Afterwards, he then fixed himself and continued on with the show. "Now then... Moving on..."

Sumire placed the flowers next to her. What they will hear next will put everyone unprepared.

"Recent events showed that the Phantom Thieves have returned in saving Hiroshima from demonic harm. Now for the media, it is seen as a hoax and that the government sent Kirijo Corporation's private military to contain the situation. But I analyzed these photographs and decided to talk to you about it." A photo of Sumire firing her rifle alongside Akechi and Shiho was flashed to the screen.

"Fuck." Akechi cursed.

"Motherf-" Shiho uttered under her breath.

Sumire tensed up at the sight of the photo. Holy moly, this photo is crispy clear! She panicked internally.

"Do you think this photo is real? Are the Phantom Thieves fact or fiction?"

Sumire noticed her father's change of tone, hinting that something's off. "I don't remember the Phantom Thieves having those members in those clothes. If you would notice the broadcast they had against Masayoshi Shido, there were only eight of them. One of which-"

The lights go out. Ren grinned in the shadows. "It's Showtime."

Shiho activates the spotlight, which then garnered its movement on Ren. "One of which is already here!"

The old Phantom Thieves look up as they see Joker sitting around like nothing's happening.

"I go by many names. Arsene. Raoul. Satanael. But many of you only know the legend, so why not learn the origin of the legend? For tonight, you shall learn more about..." He somersaulted to the empty seat next to Sumire, the lights following him until power in the studio is restored. "... the Phantom Thief Joker."

Futaba yelled from the crowd. "Oh-ho, you arrogant little weasel!" Ryuji covered her mouth as Makoto apologized to the crowd.

"Already having a fan in the crowd? I'm impressed. I was thinking this lovely lady here was my only fan." Joker flirted with Sumire as Shinichi looked at him.

"Mr. Joker, as much as I would be upset about you interrupting the show... I'm glad instead."

Huh?

"I want you to tell us whether the Hiroshima incident was your doing or not."

Oh, boy. I was not expecting this.

Ren then turned around and analyzed the photo. Humming as he leaned forward (much to the annoyance of the Thieves and the gullibility of the crowd), he then spoke up with a lot of sarcasm that went undetected.

"Yes, we did save Hiroshima. But whoever took these photos must have been having fun in the photo editor. You see..." He pulled out his dagger to point the 'flaws'. "One, this one with the toy pistol and ugly-looking pajamas while wearing a weird bucket for a mask. (You motherfucker.) He lacks the flair that my team and I possess, as well as his stance. Oh, no... He looked like a child waiting for his lollipop in the candy store."

"That asshole is having fun with this." Akechi can only hiss as his grip in his pistol tightened.

"Now for this one. Navy blue spy outfit. Looks like a cheap knockoff of one of my teammate's suit. (Moron.) The suit she wears is too generic, and look at her weapon. A machine gun, people. A MACHINE GUN! We Phantom Thieves operative with subtlety and style. A machine gun is too unladylike to exist for our girls. It looks more of a cosplay here than the actual thing."

"I can't wait to kick his ass later." Shiho's eye twitched as Ren continued his judgment.

"Oh? This fine young lady has legs for days! Mamma Mia!" He felt the glares Sumire shot at him. "Honestly, she would make a fine candidate for a Phantom Thief. Her outfit gives out the gracefulness and classical look, but the amount of skin exposed... We're the Phantom Thieves, not the Phantom Strippers."

"Senpai, I will give you a beating later..." Sumire uttered under her breath.

"I'll give that frizzy-haired bastard a piece of my mind." Ann's temper rose. "Hey you! Just what the hell do you think you're doing!?"

Ren turned to see Ann and the group trying to hold her down. "My apologies if you felt offended, Miss...?"

"Don't give me that bullshit! Do you realize what you're doing, putting yourself to the public eye?"

Sumire awkwardly looked at her father, who shared the same look as Ren and Ann throw insults at each other.

"Well, these wannabes have been garnering the public eye. It is my duty to right the wrongs."

"How is that even helpful advice?!"

"I presume you're the one who made this hoax?"

"Like hell, we did!" Ann's hot head was the last straw as Shinichi ordered security to take Makoto and her group out of the studio to calm her down. After they left, Akechi can only snicker as he approaches Kasumi, who is recovering from her crying.

"So that was his plan? Clever bastard."

"Sorry, Ann..." Shiho bowed her head in shame before looking back at the center.

"My apologies, Mr. Joker."

"Eh, I get haters all the time."

"I see." Shinichi pulls out Sumire's mask from his bag and gives it to Ren, surprising the remaining Thieves inside and the calming Thieves outside. "Now if you run into those amateurs, please give them back this mask."

Damnit.

Well, isn't this a sudden fuck-up.

How did Dad get that?!

Damn, we're done for!

Oh, shit.

"Okay then." Ren accepted the mask. And continued to sit as the show went on. He watched and listened. SIlently.

"Oh, that reminds me. Sumire, I have heard from rumors that you saved a man's life from an oncoming bus?"

Sumire froze again, this time as she saw the news article of her saving Akihiko two days after the tournament.

"Two days after the tournament, you went to train young girls with your coach. After everything has been done, this happened. Would like to share why you did so?"

Sumire sees her dad pull out the bloody ribbon. Before she could answer, Morgana calls them in on the radio.

"We got soldiers coming your way."

"Well, actually, I was going to go home directly after I finished up cleaning. But I found that man injured and dying so I had to rush and assist him." Her eyes went serious. "After I tend to his wounds, I went off to look for anyone in the building who could be helpful enough to bring him to the hospital."

"And instead, you yourself were brought to one instead after suffering a head trauma." Joker decided to cut to the chase as Morgana gave an update.

"Damnit, Yu Narukami is here."

"After I was being chased by soldiers for no apparent reason." Sumire added to Ren's conclusion. Shinichi and the crowd were shocked when Sumire bluntly told them that soldiers were after her.

"Could you be elaborate more on that, Sumire?" He cautiously asked, his voice becoming that of a strict father.

"Let's see... I saved a guy, soldiers shoot me, guy I saved chased after me coz I ran... then he fell and I saved him."

"Rather vague."

"Well, I don't have the time to exaggerate my experiences like how you exaggerated the amateur Thieves in the hoax." Sumire's words stabbed Ren like ice, prompting to find a backup plan.

"Well, I wonder what else do you have in store for me, Mr. Yoshizawa?"

"Since you are here, yes I do." The old man began to carefully speak his words. "What do you think of Mitsuru Kirijo's plan of actions in response to the recent attacks in Kyoto and Hiroshima? As of yesterday, she deployed her private army, Kirijo Anti-shadow Countermeasure Service, to begin assisting the survivors of the attacks."

Sumire, Shiho, Kasumi, Morgana, and Akechi cautiously watch Ren as they are hoping he can spit more bullshit to throw them off their trail.

"Publicity stunt, obviously. I mean, my team caught footage of them trying to murder civilians inside their own research center outside Iwatodai." Joker snapped his fingers and the background showed a small recording of Kirijo soldiers firing at Yukari's team while Labrys attacks the soldiers.

"A robot?"

"A robot meant to guard innocent lives. One of the Kirijo's finest projects, and they decided to take it out as well to finish killing them."

The footage stopped when a man in white walks behind the charging soldiers. For the Phantom Thieves inside, Kasumi already debriefed them about Maruki XX. But the ones outside of the studio....

 

"No effing way!" Ryuji shouted.

"Maruki." Yusuke mumbled.

"I thought we changed his heart!" Ann stomped her foot in both outrage and shock.

"Looks like he reverted back to his old ways." Makoto theorized.

"I don't see how he is capable of handling an army, though." Futaba clarified the team as she is trying to enhance the video quality.

"Whatever Ren-kun is doing, he knows how to put non-Persona users off the trail." Haru observed Joker since Ann's outburst.

 

"So are you saying that Mitsuru Kirijo ordered an execution team on her own people?" Shinichi expressed his disgust as the crowd followed suit.

"Yeah, she did."

"Sumire, do you believe in what he's saying?" He asked his daughter carefully.

"For me, I would go follow Mr. Joker here, Dad." She began justifying her argument. "Like, the Phantom Thieves showed us that there are abusive people trying to tower over others. Them capturing this video would already show that Mitsuru Kirijo is their next target for a change of heart. Correct?"

Ren nods firmly. Shinichi then asked the crowd via a poll if Mitsuru Kirijo needs a change of heart.

90% of the crowd agreed. 10% was only capable of a few people, specifically Yu.

"Although I would agree to your statement, Miss Yoshizawa," Yu stood up, gaining attention from the crowd. "I can't help but disagree with it one certain part of it. The Phantom Thief standing next to you has performed unorthodox methods in making their target have a change of heart. If you think it is easy for them to do so, ask the black gentleman next to you."

"Thank you for your wise words, slick." Ren sharply spoke as he continued explaining, "Yes, it is difficult to do so. That's why we resort to unorthodox means because an average mission for us is like eating ice cream on a rainy Monday."

"I don't seem to follow."

"Yeah, Sen- Mr. Joker."

Shinichi caught her sudden pause.

"So going back to you, my dear daughter..... tomorrow is your birthday. So what would be your biggest wish and why?"

Sumire was taken aback by his question. She looks at Ren but he just shrugged in front of her. Looking at Yu, he also shrugged. Left with no choice but to bare with the impending embarrassment, she opened her mouth and replied.

"I wish I could spend a romantic night with my b-b-boyfriend. Like, a dance or a trip to the beach or... or..." She began to stammer at her words and gets a bit of fright. Joker tickles her waist to put her back to reality.

"Don't be touchy with me!"

"You're too adorable to get flustered on national television, champ."

"It's okay, Sumire. I guess we know what you want. But now for the why."

"Well, y-you see..." she looked at the flowers, and then asked her dad to flash their photo from White Day. "I missed this year's White Day due to my stay in the hospital. And for me, one night with him would be the very best to keep me relaxed and stress-free. We've never been dating a lot due to our long distance relationship, so.... yeah." She buried her face under her hands as she avoids looking at the cameras.

Akechi faked his gag as he was about to exit. He bumps into one of the soldiers and ruins his disguise, but he was quick enough to incapacitate him.

"You surely miss him, do you? I bet he's watching you right now." Shinichi showed a smile as he gave her a cue to express her feelings on camera. This doesn't end well for the fellow Thieves outside the studio.

"Hey, Se-Se-Senpai.... If you are watching this, I just w-w-want to make sure t-t-that..." She exhaled to regain her composure. "... I miss you every day. Whenever I pass by the halls of Shujin, I miss your goofiness trying to entertain me before class. I miss us going to Destinyland, and maybe the time you had ice cream on your face which I wiped off after..." She slowly went red. "I miss the times where it's us against the world. I l-l-love you, Ren Amamiya. Always and forever."

 

"The fuck!?" Ann wasn't blushing. Totally not. At all.

"Did she just openly express her love on national television?!" Makoto was stunned, also not blushing. Not. At. All.

"I didn't know that was an actual thing... I must have a press conference about this." Haru's not flustered about it. Yeah, she ain't.

"You three sure know how to deny jealousy." Futaba sarcastically said.

"Her confession was poured out through the heart. I must capture that moment again!" Yusuke bellowed as he accidentally attracted unwanted attention.

"Way to go, you idiot." Ryuji scowled.

 

The crowd felt her message and gave her Awww sounds as she blushed madly, knowing that the man she just confessed her love to is literally next to her. However, things are about to get messy as Akechi discovers a radar device in the pocket of the man he just knocked unconscious. Looking at the readings, he widens his eyes just as Morgana warned them.

"We got company! Inside the studio!"

The screen behind the Yoshizawas began to crack as a claw breaks through. Suddenly, a demonic Seth emerges and begins to makes its way further. Seeing that the crowd is being too slow to react, Akechi fired his gun and caused the crowd to panic. Kasumi immediately guides them out as the beast finally breaks through and looms over Shinichi.

"Dad!"

"Sumire!"

Ren and Akechi fire at the wyvern to buy Sumire time to get her dad to safety. Shiho emerges and grabs a rifle from the bag.

"Yoshizawa!"

Sumire turns and catches the rifle, giving her dad a bewildered expression.

"Ren-senpai took me hunting one time, okay?"

As Kasumi guided Sumire and Shinichi out of the floor, the old Phantom Thieves suddenly transfigure to their costumes.

"The hell?!"

"PHANTOM THIEVES! Open fire!"

"What?!"

The soldiers fire at them until Haru summoned Lucy to create Life Aid around them. Ryuji and Yusuke retaliated as the fight in the building intensified. Back in the studio, Akechi and Shiho finally transfigured and battles the beast. Kasumi joins them and unloads her rifle on it.

"Hereward! Rebellion Blade!"

"Raoul! Black Viper!"

"Nora! Bufudyne!"

"Guinivere! Kougaon!"

Attack after attack, the Seth doesn't seem to be weakened by their attacks as it decided to terrorize the city. Kasumi uses her spear and latches onto the Seth while the others jump off the building.

"This is gonna be fun." Akechi smirked.

"Last one's a rotten egg! Sorry, Diamond." Ren flashed a cocky grin as he jumped after.

Shiho looked back at Ann and the others, who are now fighting the soldiers. She decided to do them a favor by firing her machine gun through the walls, killing the soldiers and NEARLY killing Yu, who just came back from the restroom.

"Shadow activity?" he asked her.

"Damn right. Go help them out with the soldiers." Shiho commended.

"What about you, Diamond?"

"Calling me by my codename already... I'll be fine." She reassured him as she faced the hole in the wall and whispered under her breath. "This is gonna suck." She then jumps down just in time for Joker to catch her.

"You anticipated this, huh?"

"Pretty much."

"Where's Crow?"

"Hanging by his damn boot."

Ren then successfully brings them to a rooftop with a helicopter.

"Tell me I'm dreaming." Shiho rubbed her eyes as she is in surprise to see it.

"You didn't mention this in the plan." Akechi furrowed in irritation.

"Surprise, bitches!"

Before he could enter the chopper, he gained two strong punches to the back.

"Oh-kay, I think I deserved that. Ow..." He grimaced in pain as Shiho stuck her tongue out while Akechi laughed at his misery.

In the parking lot outside the TV station, Sumire guides her dad to the car as she notices Lilim spawns coming out. Keeping her cool, she fired at the devils as her father is witnessing how damn good she was with her aim.

"I can see he taught you well?" He spoke with a hint of uncertainty.

After finishing off the last spawn, Sumire entered the car as she reloaded the rifle. "Let's go, Dad."

As he started the car, the two of them jumped as talons pierced through the car. A few seconds later, they witness themselves heading upward.

"Are we flying??"

Sumire took a peak outside and saw the Seth, now grown to a massive 40 ft in length, carrying them around. On its tail is Kasumi, who is hanging on for dear life.

"Angel!"

Shinichi takes a look via rearview mirror and observes in horror that a person is clinging on the beast's tail.

"Oh, my God!"

"Dad, panicking is not gonna help us." She tried to be the cool-headed one between them. "Angel! Can ya hear us?"

Kasumi gave a thumbs-up, showing her that she's good.

"Can you try to take it down?"

She responded with a nod. She then slowly aims her rifle at the Seth's eye as she tries to time it right. Before she could fire, The Phantom Chopper flies by above them. The wyvern is distracted and instantly goes after the chopper. As Akechi and Shiho pilot the chopper, Ren uses the grappling hook to swing his way to the Yoshizawas while avoiding the impending demise that is the ground. He successfully lands on the Seth's clawed appendage and slips his way to them.

"Sumire?"

"Joker!"

"Thank goodness, you're here."

Ren forces the car door to break as he offers Shinichi's hand. "You're coming with me first."

He quickly refused, insisting that Sumire goes first instead. After a brief argument, Sumire finally convinced her father to escape first as the strength of the demon starts to crush the car. He swings his way back to the chopper with the elder Yoshizawa while Sumire climbs out of the car on her own, further traumatizing her father. As he buckles on his seatbealt while Ren swings back, he notices the crew being the 'amateurs' he called.

"Wait, you're-"

"The machine gun girl."

"Bucket head."

"R-R-Right."

The chopper is suddenly pulled down by the Seth, give an imbalance in handling their vehicle and causing Ren and Sumire to swing in mid-air. They reach Asakusa where they are close to crashing to the Sky Tower. Kasumi narrowly diverts the disaster as she paralyzes the winged behemoth, causing it to lose control and begin crashing down. The helicopter regains its power, but they lose the power couple as they are forced to break through the glass to avoid dying. Meanwhile, Kasumi diverts the monster to crash in Shinjuku, getting tossed in front of it after impact. Luckily, she lands on the water as she recovers back to the ground. Unfortunately, she is cornered by Seth, who has regained consciousness.

"Guinevere!"

"Yes, my queen?"

"Hold it off until everyone arrives."

"Understood."

Kasumi attacks the beast on her own for a while until the chopper hovers above them to save her in time. Shiho began firing the machine gun at it as its attention changed to them. Shiho jumps down and teams up with Kasumi as they ward the monster off the chopper.

"Nora!"

"Do you prefer to go easy on this fiend or settle for hardball strikes?"

"The latter, please."

As Guinivere switched to a healing role while Nora went to the offensive, Akechi lands the helicopter and attempts to leave Shinichi behind.

"Wait! You can't leave me behind here!" He begged as his paranoia rose up.

"This is as far as you will go. Your lovely daughter will be joining you here shortly."

As if it was right on cue, Ren and Sumire caught up with them. Sumire hugged her father, but recoiled after she revealed to have sprained her knee.

"It's fine. I can manage."

"Sumire, watch your father for a second. Crow and I will be assisting Diamond and Angel for now."

She gave them an approving nod while her father tended to her knee.

"What have you gotten yourself into, Sumi?"

"Sorry, Dad. I guess bad luck goes wherever I go."

"Don't say that!" She squeaked at the anger her father showed. "Your words earlier made me realize that we have been wrong to assume you were okay when you were not. I did not know you were dealing with your sister's death harder than I have. The last thing I need is you going away."

"My dear, shall I assist your allies in their confrontation?"

She nods to both her dad and her Persona as she straightened her leg for him to apply a compress on her.

"After tonight, I'm pretty sure this would be a wild penultimate day to your 17th birthday, huh?"

She gave a chuckle at his words. "Gonna be better than last year, though."

"My lady..."

Before Ella could finish talking, all Phantom Thieves were thrown to the helicopter. Everything was okay until Shiho's gun cracked the windshield.

"I just bought the damn thing...." Ren groaned.

"You still possess nearly 400 million yen after all this time, and you complain about a crack?"

"Not helping, Raoul...."

"Raoul?" Shinichi parroted.

"It appears we are no match for its High Counter, my prince."

"Tell me something I don't know, Hereward!"

"Hereward?"

"We have made a fool of ourselves. This adversity is far more powerful than we thought."

"Don't beat yourself up, Nora. We can still fight."

Shinichi decided to stay quiet as he can't ascertain what's going on.

"I'm sorry, Your Highness. It doesn't seem to falter like before."

"We just need to find its blind spot."

The creature slowly makes its way to the downed members as Sumire tries to distract it by firing her rifle as she limps.

"Sumire!"

"Get them out of here, Dad! I'll cover you!"

"I won't let you-"

He is suddenly pulled back by Akechi, who growls at him.

"You're too protective, you know that? Just believe in her."

He watches as Sumire leads the beast to the water. Ren sees this as well and takes advantage.

"Crow!"

Akechi catches a shock grenade from Ren and tosses it to the water with a good throw. The Seth begins to weaken due to shock, giving Sumire a chance to break its scales. Despite the advantage, it was short-lived. And after firing the last bullet, Sumire is now backed in a corner until a stone hits the wyvern's head.

"Hey!"

"Dad, what are you-"

"Run, Sumire! I'll distract it!"

"My lady, you need to let loose now!"

"I can't..." She felt scared with a lot of reasons. "If Dad finds out-"

"Your father will suffer a gruesome fate if you hold back. Your team is spent and unable to summon their other selves..."

Sumire then had to make a choice. She closes her eyes and carefully thinks it through. As the elder Yoshizawa was cornered, Ren summons Kohryu and attacks the Seth. Calling out Shinichi, Ren tosses Sumire's mask and orders him to run to her. Kohryu is eventually damaged as Ren felt its pain. As father reached the daughter, the beast was already making its way to the downed team.

"Joker gave me this to give it to you."

Sumire froze in fear.

"Dad, I-"

Rifle bursts are heard as Kasumi gets it blind and rushes to them.

"Hurry it up, Violet!"

The monster swings it tail and hit the Yoshizawa family, injuring Shinichi while nearly killing the twins.

"We're never gonna break it at this rate."

"S-S-Sumi...."

"Dad..."

He still gives her her mask.

"Dad, I-"

"It's okay....." He gave her a weak smile despite being in pain. "I know about it."

Surprised, Sumire glances between her twin and her dad. She kisses her dad in the forehead to let him rest as she finally transfigures into her Phantom Thief outfit. She casts a Diarahan spell on him as she makes her way to Kasumi.

"Ready, Angel?"

"About time you turned, Violet."

The duo then perform a Showtime move where Kasumi spears the Seth and pulls it to her direction so she can give a huge rising kick. As the monster flinches, Sumire jumps over Kasumi and onto its head as she fires bullet after bullet until the beast is too weak. Kasumi takes the time to slash the letter Y on it as her sister finishes her shots. Tossing Sumire one of the extra spears, they attach the blades to its chest as they both pull it towards them one more before getting one last bullet to its mouth.

"GET OVER HERE!"

With that said, the beast finally falls dead. Shiho made cheering noises while Akechi gave them an impressed applause. Ren gave a smile as he kissed Sumire.

"You truly are remarkable." He spoke to her softly.

"You've embarrassed me all night, Ren-senpai." She can't help but smile back.

"That was astonishingly brutal." Akechi complimented Kasumi while Shiho pulls up Shinichi. He regains consciousness as he looks at the Phantom Thieves without their masks at last.

"I guess I was right all along."

"So you knew." Akechi squinted his eyes on him.

"Yes. And it was only yesterday when I found out about it."

Sumire hid behind Ren, knowing that she is the guilty party in this.

"Sumi?"

"I'm sorry, guys." She hung her head in shame and avoided looking at them. "It was stupid of me to drop my gym bag and let Dad see everything."

"It's okay, sweetheart. I never showed any signs of opposition to your membership with them." He turns to Akechi. "Never thought I'd-"

"See me back from the dead? Can I at least have a 'Good to see you again' instead of 'I thought you died' bullshit."

Shiho laughed. "Poor Akechi."

"Amamiya."

"Sir."

"You had the courage to compromise yourself to the public in order to expose the Kirijo Corporation's corruption. First time I've heard anyone vocally go against the Kirijo bloodline." He patted his back. "Now I see why Sumire loves you so much."

It took him ten seconds to realize what just happened.

"Wait, so greeting him on camera was pointless then because he was actually next to you, Sumire."

Ren snickered to himself until Sumire stepped on his foot. "Oops. Sorry, Senpai!"

"You want to have your romantic night with him tomorrow, right? I'll leave you two alone after your exams then." Shinichi gave them an approving look. "Promise you'll keep an eye on her, okay?"

"You got it, Sir."

"I have to admit," he continued, "your entrance in my show was so stylish. And your drama to make it look like your teammates were just posers..."

Wait.

Teammates....

Shit. Morgana. He was last seen in the TV station.

"Now for the other elephant in the room." Shinichi spoke in a more heartbroken tone. Kasumi bit her lip as she slowly turned to her counterpart's father.

"You're.... you're....."

Knowing her emotions would get her in the end, she hugs him tightly and bawled as she felt his warm embrace once again. Everyone, even Akechi, can't help but smile at the sight of a somewhat family reunion.

"I missed you so much, Kasumi...." He now sheds a few tears.

"Me too..... Dad."

Shiho then asks Morgana via radio if he was alright. Instead, she gets a different responder.

"Narukami-san? Where's the cat?"

Yu was unsure how to respond to her. "Uh, well.... You see...."

 

Earlier, 2030 hours

 

"Fists of justice!"

Makoto continued brawling with the soldiers as Narukami unleashed Yamato-no-Orochi to freeze the soldiers. The Phantom Thieves were surprised by this and went to a defensive stance.

"Easy, everyone. I'm not here to hurt you all." he raised his hands in peace.

"So you were a Persona user after all." Haru stated as Yu replied honestly.

"Whose side are you on?" Yusuke asked as he readies his katana.

"Guys, please... Ease up, and maybe we can talk."

Before anything else, a horde of Rakshaja and Anubis began to close in on them. The Rakshaja were easily dispatched by a familiar figure.

"Diego! Magarudyne!"

"Mona-chan!"

"Hey, Mona!"

"What are you doing here?"

"Well, to be honest, I was stalking Lady Ann. (Ew, Mona. I thought you were a gentleman.) I know, I know. I have an explanation for this but for now..."

"We take these Shadows out." Narukami pulls out his sword from his umbrella. This earned three impressed commentary.

"Oh, wow! He's so sneaky!" Futaba chimed.

"Have you been carrying that the whole time? Awesome!" Ryuji can't help but beam at the sight of the sword.

"Hiding a sword in an umbrella. Not bad." Makoto smirked.

"Let's go!" Narukami took the role of impromptu leader.

A horde of Rangda pop out of nowhere. As the team battles the Shadows, they are gonna be given an added challenge in just a bit.

"Hey, guys!" Futaba began her warning, "We got foot soldiers incoming!"

"How many of them?"

"Approximately 300."

"300!? Kirijo summoned an entire company to kill us!?" Ann was perplexed by the number of hostiles they will have to deal with.

"Don't give up!" Narukami stood his ground as he sliced and diced the Shadows crowding them. The moment the first wave arrived, Yusuke calls out Gorokichi to create an ice barrier for the soldiers to not pass through. That didn't stop them the ones in the elevators and windows.

"William! Shock them 'til they drop!"

"Izanagi!"

Ryuji and Narukami unleash deadly Ziodyne attacks at the soldiers crashing through the windows. As for the ones in the elevator, they are only greeted by the terrifying glares of Makoto and Haru as they received hell inside the elevator and was prevented retreat.

"That felt good." Haru giggled while Makoto can only pinch her nose bridge.

"Don't ever gouge their eyes out again, Haru."

As the fight ended with all enemies defeated, everyone took a sigh of relief. Everyone except...

"That was so cool! You were amazing!"

Morgana impulsive jumped on Ann, expecting her to hug him back. Instead, she felt the annoyance and threw him out of the window. It only took her a second to realize what she did.

"Oh, no! Mona!"

"I'll go get him. You all take a break." Narukami volunteered to get Morgana.

"You never told us whose side you are on." Makoto strictly demanded for his answer.

Yu looked down and muttered away from earshot. "Lullaby." He summoned Isis and calls on the sleeping spell that placed everyone to sleep. Meanwhile, he rushes out to Morgana, who cartoonishly landed face flat on a car. He hears Shiho's voice in the earpiece that was on the ground.

"Suzui-san?"

"Narukami-san? Where's the cat?"

"Uh, well.... You see...."

"Fim fffokeei" He spoke with his mouth glued to the ground.

"He's unconscious."

"Oh, boy. And the rest?"

"Asleep. The spell will wear off in a bit, so they should be able to escape before police arrive to the scene."

"Alright. You're a cop, right?"

"Private investigator, actually."

"If the cops are looking the Yoshizawa family, tell them they have fled safely to their home."

Yu took a quick paused before he asked Shiho.

"Did he see his 'dead' daughter?"

"Yeah. It's gonna be an awkward talk later."

"Stay safe, Suzui-san."

"You too."

 

Location: Shinjuku
Time: 2122 hours

 

"Narukami seems to be on our side, for some reason."

"At least he knows what we've done."

Shinichi finished his embrace with Kasumi. "I want to know how you came back."

Silence crossed the whole place.

"Is something wrong?" he asked with a dumbfounded expression.

"It's gonna be a long story, if you want to know." Sumire admitted as the group walked to the helicopter.

Chapter Text

March 24, 20XX

Location: Room 402, Platinum Star Hotel
Time: 2200 hours

 

Yu Narukami has had a tiring day. Not only did he had to run around town to gain information about Ren and his crew but he also managed to run into him in the TV station during a predicted Shadow attack. Rise wasn't kidding when she told him that it brew strong Shadow levels. Speaking of Rise....

"Oh, Yu?" She steps out of the bathroom wearing nothing but her bathrobe. "You looked stressed. Mind if you want me to give ya a good old massage?"

Rise has always been the playful flirt towards Yu. It'd be a lie if his unpredictable personality didn't woo her entirely. But tonight, it's gonna be one of those nights.

"Sure thing, Rise." Yu complied as he rubbed his left shoulder. "Damn Kirijo soldiers aren't pulling their punches."

Rise slowly removes his shirt and starts massaging him gently. "Do you think that what Amamiya said on TV was true?"

"As much as I want to doubt him, he is right." Yu sighed. "I don't even know why she would order a hit on everyone involved."

Rise began to feel naughty as she untied her bathrobe and teased his back with her breasts. "Well, there are times that Mitsuru can be a pain in the ass...."

"I feel something soft on my back. Did you just put a pillow between us?"

"No way. What you're feeling is my all-natural boobies." She kissed him in the cheek as she whispered.

"Seriously? You sound like a kid when you say that." He had the audacity to tease her more than she could expect.

"Hey!" She playfully slapped his shoulder. "You were supposed to say something else."

"Like what?"

She leaned to his ear as pulled him to face her.

"Let's go to heaven tonight."

The two then get things going as they passionately kiss while Rise's bathrobe falls off, drop to the bed, and begin to caress each other's bodies.

"Mmm, Yu-kun." Rise broke their kiss for a while. "I'm all yours tonight, you hear me?"

"Want me to go all out?"

Rise gave a mischievous grin and kisses Yu once again. "Let's not piss Mitsuru off. She still wishes to remain the Empress of it all....."

Their kiss intensified as they began to go wild in bed. In a matter of minutes, all their clothing are on the floor as sounds of moaning mutes the incoming calls from Mitsuru herself.

The rest of the night belongs in pleasant history after more than thirty minutes of sexy time. As Rise lays sleeping next to Yu, he plants a kiss on her forehead as he reads Mitsuru's (somewhat) angry message.

I'll meet you in the Platinum Star Sponsorship Ball. There is something I have to discuss with you.

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 2230 hours

 

"Finally! We're home!"

Sumire swung the door open as she and everyone else entered the household. Kasumi opted to enter last as she takes in a familiar sight which she missed for a long time. Strolling inside, she observes the family photos lined up. From birth to present day, Kasumi felt emotional as she saw Sumire finally showing off her smile for the first time since their time playing baseball and having ice cream.

"You okay?" Sumire asked her kindly.

"I'm fine. Thanks." She lied.

"How were our photos lined up in your world?" Sumire peaked her curiosity as Kasumi hid her teary eyes.

"They aren't."

"Why not?"

Kasumi did not respond, signalling Sumire to back off and not force her to talk about it. The brown-haired twin can only look at her with sadness as she began to recall the day her Sumire finally expressed her hatred.

 

Two years ago, March 25, 20XX

Location: Kichijoji Station - Earth XX
Time: 1200 hours

 

"Happy Birthday, Kasumi-chan!"

"Happy Birthday to you, Kasumi-san!"

Birthday greetings showered upon Kasumi as she cheerfully thanked them all. Her proud smile has caught the hearts of her friends as they walk towards the Yoshizawa residence. They enter the house to see that it is well-decorated for a party. All smiles and laughs in this celebration except for one.

"Sumire, don't you wanna join them?" Shinichi asked his depressive daughter, who was sitting by the stairs.

"No thanks."

"Well, if you change your mind..."

"'Kay."

Shinichi never understood why Sumire was being moody, but he shrugged it off as he pulls out the birthday gifts for his daughters.

"Hey, Sumi! Come on and join us!" Kasumi offered, but didn't receive a response from Sumire. She asks one of her friends to invite her to the gathering. Obviously, Sumire refused.

"Come on, it's your birthday too! Can't blow the candles without you!"

Kasumi's friends then gave out insensitive comments.

"Oh yeah, I forgot it's Sumire-chan's birthday also!"

"You dork! They're twins, remember?"

"Though they seem like opposites. I guess Sumi-san prefers being a loner."

Sumire's fists clenched as she heard them. As the cake was prepared, Hanaki called out her daughter to join them.

"Sumire, please come down. Don't be gloomy on your 15th birthday. Kasumi wouldn't want her best sister in the world to be sad all the time."

Sumire retreated to her room, giving her mom no choice but to ask Kasumi to get her. As she enters the (shared) bedroom, Sumire is seen covering herself with a blanket.

"Sumi? Sumi?"

"You're called Sumi too, KaSUMI."

Kasumi blew a strand of hair off her face. "Come on, we have a birthday to celebrate! Plus, Coach will be coming here soon with our results!"

Sumire's ears twitched as she sat up.

"Did you say the results are today?" Kasumi rapidly nods her head.

"You should join us! Not only will we celebrate our birthday but also our promotion in the gymnastics rankings."

Sumire gave out a soft smile and told Kasumi she'll be down in a bit. As both sisters wear their tracksuits for some reason, the candles have been lit and and blown as the party began. Sumire began to watch TV on her own while Kasumi played Truth or Dare with her friends. Suddenly, Coach Hiraguchi arrives and greets the twins as she gave them their result cards. As expected, Kasumi was promoted two ranks higher while Sumire remained in her rank. The long-haired twin did not like the result and threw it as she went to get another piece of cake.

"I got two ranks higher, Sumire! How much did you get?"

Silence.

"Hello? Sumire-chan?"

Again, silence. Kasumi began to worry.

"Hey. Wanna go for a walk?"

Sumire complied without expression. Before they could start their walk, Goro Akechi arrives uninvited as he gave his greetings to the twins. He presented them two gifts: a crimson bow for Kasumi, and ebony-rimmed reading glasses for Sumire.

"I didn't know what to get you two, so I just went along with whatever was the best gift at my budget."

"Thanks, Akechi-san!" Kasumi cheerfully wore her bow, which her friends admired a lot. Sadly, the only person who admired Sumire as she wore the glasses was her parents and Akechi.

"T-Thanks, Akechi-san...." She slowly made her way past him. Akechi noticed her expression and walked over to Shinichi for his next appearance on Good Morning, Japan. Kasumi noticed Sumire is gone and follows after her.

"Wait for me!"

Sumire turned to see her sister, scowling at her in the process. Kasumi saw the hostile expression and walked side by side with Sumire.

"Hey.... You sure you're okay?"

"Why do you ask?"

Sumire's tone shot Kasumi, but the latter assumed it to be a sound of irritation.

"Well, you grew a bit taller now... so that's good!"

"We're twins, remember? We have the same face, same height, same brain cells... but different in everything else."

"Aw, cheer up! I'm sure you'll do better next time when we practice-"

"You don't get it, do you?!"

Rain began to pour out as Sumire couldn't hold in her frustrations anymore.

"Oh, I forgot. YOU NEVER GET IT! All my life, I've looked up to you as my inspiration, my friend, my heart and soul!" Sumire growled.

"Sumi, what's gotten into you?" Kasumi was too oblivious at her sister's horrible state as she opened up her umbrella.

"Sumi, what's gotten into you?" she imitated.

"Okay, this isn't a joke anymore."

"And neither are you! Kasumi Yoshizawa, prodigy gymnast... honor student... best daughter... jack of all trades... You have everything you've ever dreamed of already! And what about me? Your dear younger sister?!"

Their argument began to create a gathering as people watch them bicker.

"You've already abandoned me the moment we started gymnastics! You said you'd always be there to help me achieve my goals..."

"Sorry, Sumire, but as we grow up we can't rely on others to fix our problems. We have to become independent and do things on our own."

Kasumi's words were not the right ones to ease Sumire's mood.

"You still don't get it! You. Abandoned. Me! Have you even forgotten I exist?!"

"Of course not!" Kasumi barked with offense. "I remember a lot of things about you!"

"Okay then," Sumire challenged her. "What was my favorite ice cream flavor?"

"Uh... Tutti Fruity?"

"Vanilla."

"I was gonna answer that next." Kasumi began to sweat as the pressure of people looking at them is getting the most of her.

"What happened when we visited Suidobashi and rode the roller-coaster on Mom's birthday 5 years ago?"

"Umm... she bought you a bear to hold on to when you got scared?"

"NO! Only the three of you rode while I stayed and ate my cotton candy. I lost my stuffed unicorn on that day and cried like hell for it!"

People started whispering about the argument, pressuring Kasumi further.

"You know what? Give me the hardest one yet! I can answer it in one fell swoop!"

"When was the last time anyone made me smile genuinely?"

Onlookers watched Kasumi bite her trembling lip as the rain got harder. Sumire was getting drenched while Kasumi kept herself covered, but that didn't matter to them now.

"Umm.... Uh..."

Sumire's anger dropped to sadness as she never ever expected Kasumi to forget the one thing she hoped she remembered.

"Look, let's just go home. You're getting wet, and-"

Sumire throws her glasses and runs away from Kasumi. Kasumi picked up the frames and ran after her, calling Akechi in the process.

"Goro Akechi speaking."

"Akechi-san, I need your help!"

Sumire sprinted and sprinted, forcing Kasumi to pick up the pace and drop her umbrella.

"Something's happened to Sumire, but don't tell Mom and Dad yet! I need you here by the intersection."

Akechi looked out the window and noticed the downpour.

"It's raining. What on Earth are you two doing out in the rain?"

Sumire charged through the crowd while Kasumi excused herself to avoid bumping into anyone.

"We were supposed to walk, but Sumire just went crazy and ran off!"

Sumire wept and wept as she ran with her mind running crazy.

"Sumire, stop!"

"Go away, Kasumi! You don't know anything!"

"Sumire, please stop! Listen to me!"

"NO!"

Kasumi..... why did you forget that moment out of all the things you could forget? You forgot about me after all....

Suddenly, Kasumi notices that the stoplight turned red and she only has a slight window to pull her back to the sidewalk. She abruptly ends her call, but is tackled by a homeless person, who steals her bag and runs the other way.

"Hey, my bag! Someone stop that man!"

"Holy shit, she's on the road!"

"The light's red!"

"Kid, get out of there!"

"Hey, girlie! A truck's coming!"

Kasumi stood back up but lost her balance at the last second. In her final moments, she saw the emptiness in Sumire's eyes as she knelt down and looked at her. With the blare of a horn and unresponsive movement, the truck forced a break but skidded due to the wet road and gave Kasumi the most traumatizing moment of her life. The truck slams onto Sumire, pushing her around until she was sent flying to the center of the intersection. As for the truck, it crashed and mortally wounded the driver. To everyone's relief (except Kasumi's), today resulted in one fatality.

Akechi arrives with the man and Kasumi's bag, but turned his gaze to what was in the middle of the road.

"Oh, no...."

In the dead center of the road, Sumire's bloodied lifeless body lays as her eyes look at the dark clouds. Kasumi ran despite her newly discovered sprain and tried to wake her up.

"Sumire? SUMIRE! Wake up please!"

Nothing.

"Sumire, come on.... if you wake up now, I will give you a trip to the aquarium!"

No response.

"If not the aquarium, a trip to Destinyland!"

Gone.

"Sumire....."

She's gone.

"Sumi...."

Forever.

"No..." Kasumi wept as Akechi approached her from behind. "It's all my fault."

Akechi bent down and closed the lifeless eyes. He broke down and wept with Kasumi as a crowd gathered around them.

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence - Earth X
Time: 2300

 

"That's how it happened."

Sumire and Shinichi were at total loss for words as Shiho, Akechi, and Ren felt sad with the story. Kasumi looked at them, then the house, and then at the photo in her hand.

"It was actually a wishing  star that made her smile genuinely."

"Like what our Kasumi would tell you, Sumire." Shinichi somberly told his surviving daughter.

"It was because of that one night in training camp, right?" Sumire tried to see if the time she made her counterpart smile was the same.

"No, it wasn't." Kasumi went deeper into her memory as she then remembered that moment.

 

Six years ago, October 20XX

Location: Ikebukuro - Earth XX
Time: 1530 hours

 

"Here we are!" Hanaki announced to her daughters as they visit the planetarium. The twins missed their field trip due to their first time in training camp for rhythmic gymnastics, so their parents made it up by bringing them to the planetarium.

"Wow! Look at all these planets!" Kasumi beamed with joy and wonder.

"Look how pretty the stars are!" Sumire watched the stars in the ceiling glow.

"Settle down now, kids." Shinichi calmed them down. "The show's gonna start, so please sit down."

The twins sit properly and watch the show begin. Traveling to different galaxies, different planets, being on the moon or Mars.... what kid would not love the science of space?

"The stars are shiny, Kasumi. Look!" Sumire forced her sister to look at one corner of the area.

"Mom, is that a comet?" Kasumi inquired.

"No, dear. That's a shooting star. People say that when you watch a shooting star fly in the sky, you can make a wish from it."

"Really?! Wowwee!" Kasumi giggled with excitement.

"A star that gives wishes?" Sumire asked her twin.

"Yes!"

"Okay, let me think of a wish."

Unfortunately for little Kasumi, the star flew by them now.

"Wait! I haven't made a wish..." She frowned and crossed her arms.

"I made a wish."

"What was it, Sumire?"

Sumire looked at her sister with a bright smile as she told her her wish.

"I wished that you will be with me forever, Kasumi. You're the best sister in the world."

The two of them hugged a warm embrace, earning smiles from their parents.

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence - Earth X
Time: 2312 hours

 

Kasumi broke down to tears and cried after telling them. Sumire hugged her and gave the same feeling that her real sister gave her. Shiho already joined the crying party while Ren wiped off a tear. Akechi, on the other hand, asked a question that was somewhat out of place.

"Yoshizawa-san, where is the wife?"

"She's out of town, supposed to be home today for-"

"Shinichi!"

The group heard a feminine voice calling out the old man.

"Shinichi! Are you and Sumire all..." she stopped as she stared at the woman Sumire is hugging. "okay?"

"Hi, Mom." Sumire greeted as Kasumi looked up and gave a weak hello. Hanaki drops the bags and cautiously steps forward towards Kasumi.

"Am I dreaming?"

Sumire answered her, "Yes.... and no."

Hanaki knelt down and touched Kasumi's cheek. Kasumi impulsively held her hand before hugging her as well.

"Are you a man of coincidences?" Ren whispered to Akechi.

"Something like that."

As the Yoshizawas went in for a family hug, Shiho volunteered to tell Hanaki the truth about Kasumi to spare the girl her tears and emotions. Meanwhile, Shinichi advised Ren and Akechi to wait for Shiho and go back to the condominium afterwards. For Maruki's sake, Shiho recorded her tale and made sure every word was discussed. Speaking of which....

 

Earlier, 2217 hours

Location: Yongen-Jaya

 

"Not only did we get bamboozled by Narukami, but we also lost the damn car!" Ryuji flew his hands in anger as the Phantom Thieves walked their way from Shibuya instead of taking the trains as they go look for trash cans and rocks to kick at.

"I'm sorry I forgot to put up the license plate. Although it may have been my reckless driving that caused the car to be impounded." Haru sadly admitted to her fault.

"And we didn't learn anything from Ren, especially that the sonuvabitch is actually here in Tokyo." Ann growled as they arrive outside LeBlanc. Sojiro began scolding them for coming back late until he remembered that they fought Shadows.

"So the kid's actually here in Tokyo? Figured. A girl actually came here and poured her heart out about him." Sojiro spoke as he opened the door with guests still inside. In the booth is Akane Hasegawa, sleeping soundly. In the counter...

"Hasegawa-san!" Makoto noticed.

"Hey, kids. It's been a while." He curtly said as he sipped his coffee. On their left side was...

"HOLY SHIT, PINK ARGUS!"

"Ssshhh! You'll wake the girl up." Yukari scolded her self-proclaimed #1 fan.

Ann felt surprised. "Wow, Yukari Takeba! In LeBlanc!"

"I kinda like the atmosphere it gives."

Yusuke didn't hesitate to put things bluntly. "But it's closing time though."

"As long as Hasegawa-san and Takeba-san are here, I won't close yet." Sojiro watched Yusuke as he looked at the stick. "I thought you returned it to the girl."

"I'm afraid I do not know where she lives." A tired sigh came from Sojiro as Makoto looked at Yukari with a soft expression.

"Yukari-san, mind if we ask something?"

"I'll ask you guys first. What's with the weird costume party?"

Everyone realized that they have not transformed back to normal just yet. Makoto bangs her head on the wall while Ann grabs a magazine to cover her exposed chest.

"I was kidding. Come on and sit down already, Phantom Thieves."

Everyone displayed no signs of shock as they sat down in their usual spots.

"I'm pretty sure your leader was smart enough to blackmail Mitsuru and the entire Kirijo Corporation. What I don't understand was how was it none of you saw through his lie."

"Uh, well..."

"Actually, I lost my temper." Ann confessed as she let her hair down instead of keeping the pigtails, "I wasn't having it with his tricks, so I tried to break him. Seems that he broke me before I heated up."

"At any case, we're glad you made it out alive, Takeba-san."

"You knew I was in the footage, Makoto Niijima?"

"Yes. No one would actually have your hairstyle as well as having a bow and arrow in combat."

Yukari looked down in shame as Zenkichi just laughed. "Caught in the act."

"I'd address the same to you, Hasegawa-san. Your daughter was in the footage, so it must be horrible for her to experience near-death."

Zenkichi finished his fourth cup of coffee. "That was her second time, remember?"

"Right. Sorry. I forgot about your family tragedy." Makoto felt ashamed for being insensitive for a second.

"Anyway, back to the matter at hand...." Yukari cleared her throat. "We believe that our own friend is trying to kill us as loose ends."

"But why?"

"That is the question we want to know." Zenkichi filled Yukari's insights. "One day, orders were to help Mitsuru. Then the next day, we are on her shit list."

"So you were all being played from the very start?" Both adults nodded as Yukari drank her coffee.

"By the way... do any of you know Takuto Maruki?"

"You're referring to the man in white, right?"

"What if I told you there are two versions of him....."

!!!

"For real?! Two Docs??" Ryuji reacted first as always.

"Hang on! Is this some kind of joke?" Ann tried to ask for confirmation from Yukari. She shook her head and told them it is no joke, much to Ann's chagrin.

"Wait a second, we heard Ren before talk about two Manahashis and-" Futaba was interrupted by Zenkichi.

"Manahashi? You mean Kenzo Manahashi?"

"Yeah, that's him. Why?"

Zenkichi can only grit his teeth as he cursed. "Motherfucker."

"Do you know him?"

"Yeah. We go way back...."

Cutting things to the chase, Yukari gives out three tickets to the Platinum Star Sponsors Day Ball that would be held tomorrow.

"Wait, Rise already invited me as her back-up singer." Ann defended as Yukari clapped her hands.

"Wonderful! Now I don't need to worry about my bad singing."

"Uh, you're Yukari Takeba. I'm just Ann Takamaki. If anything, I sing worse than you."

"Eh, whatever. We're just gonna be letting Rise sing more." The Lovers Arcana ladies laughed at their idea.

"So I guess Yusuke will need one, if he's gonna need to go to Kirijo for this."

"I'm already an invited guest, so I have a ticket of my own." Haru announced.

"So that leaves Futaba, Ryuji, and you, Makoto."

After further planning and LeBlanc closing, the Hasegawas and Yukari bid them farewell as they return to the nearest Inn they took refuge in temporarily. In LeBlanc's attic, Ann decided to sleep in her underwear due to the heat of her surroundings. She surveyed the room to make sure Futaba wasn't looking. Said gremlin sent her a message.

Looking good in your undies. Perfect match for the scene if Ren existed behind you.

She shuts her phone off and groaned. Still not feeling sleepy, she looked around and exhaled.

"It's been a while since I did this. Futaba, you better not be recording any of this."

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 0030 hours

 

Sumire watched Kasumi sleep peacefully after what transpired. She thought it would be best if she slept in her bed instead of what was originally Kasumi's, and in all honestly, Kasumi's bed is...

"Not as comfy as I thought. Maybe that's why she's an early riser." Sumire thought as she sees Kasumi shift her sleeping position. She then goes out of bed and looks for Kasumi's stuff in the attic. Luckily, her stuffed Buchimaru toy is still in good condition, and Sumire decides to give it to Kasumi. She gave her a goodnight kiss as she whispered.

"You'll always be the best sister in the world, Kasumi." She noticed her smile at her words. She opened up Akira's notebook (which was luckily the only thing not opened by her parents) and used her phone's flashlight to read more on the Sacrificial Lamb project. After an hour has passed, both sisters are now asleep while an egg-headed figure looks at Kasumi from the window.

"I sense her need for a wish..."

Chapter Text

March 25, 20XX

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 0600 hours

 

Sumire wakes up to the sun shining onto her face. She takes a small peek at her bed only to find Kasumi gone.

"Must be awake." She yawned as she slipped on her bunny slippers and made her way downstairs to prepare for her bath. As she reached the stairs, she hears someone singing in the kitchen. She then sees Kasumi pulling something out of the oven and decorate it.

"A cake?"

Kasumi continues to sing as she puts the finishing touches to the frosting and slowly makes her way to the dining room. Luckily, Sumire snuck past her to start bathing before she ends up late in her last day of school. After her bath, she exits the bathroom to find her clothes already prepared. A red blouse with black vertical stripes, black jeans, and gray ankle socks to match her red jogging shoes. A note is found on top of the clothes as she reads it: You're welcome.

After wearing the aforementioned clothes, she meets up with Kasumi as she starts singing.

"Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday, dear Sumi.... Oh wait, it's you and me!"

Sumire sheds a few tears as the sight of Kasumi smiling and singing her a birthday song was one of the best things she has ever experienced. Kasumi can only feel the same as she wipes off her tears with the apron.

"I know I'm not a great baker. But it's the thought that counts, right?" She shyly spoke as her eyes are locked in on Sumire.

"It wouldn't matter, as long as it's from you." Sumire chimed as she hugged her.

"I guess..."

"It's been a while..."

"... We saw each other smile." Both said in unison as they finished it with giggles. Sumire pulls out her phone as she switches it to front camera.

"Wait, seriously? At least let me remove my apron..."

"You got ten seconds."

"Done."

Sumire and Kasumi then take a couple of selfies together as they showed the brightest smiles that would make Ren shudder more than once. They then sat down and ate the cake together. Truth be told, Kasumi actually made a very delicious cake.

"Wow! This is a very tasty cake, Kasumi!" She beamed as she ate her slice.

"Yeah." Kasumi spoke before looking up at the small chandelier, "I was gonna put up candles until I realized there were no candles."

"It's okay."

"Do you have a wish?"

"Yeah. I said it last night on national television." Sumire remembered what happened last night as she blushed again.

Kasumi chuckled at the sight of Sumire turning red because of it. "I'm guessing a good, romantic night with him is enough for you?" Sumire went redder as Kasumi continued teasing. "Or maybe you want things to be more than goofor the both of you later in the deepest night?"

"Kasumi!"

"Haha, I'm kidding." She fixed herself as she ate the last slice. "Won't blame you if things go that far, though."

Sumire began to look at Kasumi with a quizzical look as she tried to piece what she is trying to imply. Surviving Yoshizawa twin + dating badass country boy + major dates + fearlessness of the topic = !!!

"Kasumi, did you do it with Akira?"

"Oh, now someone is interested..." Kasumi teased her with a smirk and bouncing eyebrows.

"I-I-I am not!" Sumire defended her from Kasumi's forged dirty thoughts.

"You are so easy to tease." She finds her embarrassment amusing as the younger Yoshizawa tries to steer the idea off immediately. "But, yeah. We did it already."

Sumire blushed intensely than before and shook her head fast to remove that line of thought. Kasumi, on the other hand, laughed at her sister's persistence to stay innocent.

"Ah, Sumi... So innocent..."

"I-I-I-I'm n-n-not g-g-gonna a-ask...."

"Hey," she held her sister's trembling hands. "it's gonna happen one way or another. As long as it's with the person you truly love."

Sumire bit her tongue to avoid saying something stupid, so she asked her carefully.

"How long were you with your boyfriend?"

"We started dating during our trip to Hawaii. We got steamy around Christmas time, and was still his even after he died...."

Kasumi trailed off as the painful memory of what happened kills her slowly inside.

"In short?"

"Thirteen months."

Sumire was somewhat not surprised, much to the surprise of Kasumi.

"As expected from you, Kasumi. Getting a boyfriend who gives you everything."

"Nah, I think I had a bad end to that relationship." She admitted knowing damn well what happened in her world.

As the twins finished eating, Sumire readied her bag and made her way to the door. But before she turned the knob, she goes back to Kasumi and gives her a warm, loving hug. After letting go, Kasumi told Sumire her wish.

"Wanna know my wish?"

"Go ahead."

"I wished that I'll become the best sister you've always wanted."

Sumire gave a small smile. "You know you don't have to force yourself that after bringing up bad memories."

Kasumi shook her head. "No, it's for the best. I wanna make up to what I did to you, both as your Kasumi and myself."

Sumire was about to say otherwise, but held her tongue instead and nodded at her. Kasumi gave her a quick warning.

"Watch yourself in school. You're gonna be the talk of the town, considering what happened last night."

Sumire tensed up at the warning, knowing that she WILL be questioned by many students....

 

Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 0805 hours

 

Arriving a little late in school, Sumire made her way to class and opened her door. As quick as her reflexes are, she narrowly dodged Ushimaru's infamous chalk strike as she went to her seat. Ushimaru had the gall to talk her down.

"If being exposed on TV is your reason for being late, I will not accept it!"

One of her classmates spoke up.

"But Mr. Ushimaru, didn't you watch what happened last night?"

"No, I have not finished it." He coldly answered as he gave the papers.

"Something tried to kill her and her father."

"Does it look like I care?" He responded rudely before getting a chalk strike from Sumire... courtesy of Kawakami at the door.

"You're a few steps closer from ending up like Kamoshida now, aren't you?"

He growled as he slammed down Sumire's test paper and looked at Kawakami.

"You and that damn smugness of yours, Sadayo."

After finishing her first exam of the day, her classmates began to hound her over what happened last night.

"What happened to you last night?"

"Did you kill that dragon thing?"

"Are you dating the Phantom Thief Joker?"

"No way! She's dating Amamiya-senpai, remember?"

"Why would you date a country boy and not the Phantom Thief?"

"Is it true about your depression?"

"EASY! ONE AT A TIME!" Sumire yelled to silence everyone's annoyance at her. She gets a knock from the door as Futaba greeted her, which added more fuel to the fire in her developing headache.

"Haaaaappy Birthday, Sumire!"

"Thanks, Futaba. Much appreciated." She covered her face with a manga that belonged to Makoto.

"Hey, cheer up! I know you were surprised that Ren showed up to your interview last night."

Futaba, being the new loudmouth, forgot that nobody in her class knows the true identity of Joker. So Sumire had to whack her head with the manga.

"What was that for?!" She said as she fixed her hair.\

"You do realize where we are, right?"

Futaba watched around her surroundings as everyone was too busy looking at the headlines. "Whoops. Sorry."

"It's fine." She sat up as she looked at the present in Futaba's hands. "Whatcha got there?"

"A little present for our dear, dear Violet."

Sumire shook her head with a smile as she opened up her present and, to her surprise, the present was marvelous.

"Are you for real?!" She spoke out astonished as she looked at her gift, which is a violet-colored Hymns headphones on top of a spotted pink blouse and black compression shorts.

"Three-in-one combo for you!" Futaba grinned as she swayed.

"Thank you so much!"

Futaba let out a gesture that said 'no biggie' as the bell rang. With that, the gremlin made like a bird and flew off as she ran back to her class. She lets out a mischievous laugh as she pulled her phone out.

"Headphones bug: activate in 6 hours."

She also received another text, but from an infuriated Ann.

"FUTABA! I TOLD YOU NOT TO RECORD WHAT I DID LAST NIGHT!"

She's soooo gonna get an earful. Meanwhile, Sumire inspected her gifts and noticed a slight tamper in the headphones. Knowing that this is Futaba who gave it to her, she lets out a mischievous smile of her own.

"Two can play at that game, Futaba-san..."

 

Location: Dome Town, Suidobashi
Time: 0923 hours

 

Shiho was not having a good morning as she was left to hold onto Ren's bag while he went to the restrooms. After what seemed to be an okay breakfast, Ren went sick and ran off to the nearest restroom he can find. As she was about to drop his bag and consider ditching him, she hears his phone go off. Opening his phone with a very easy password, Shiho sees the message coming from Futaba with the header 'Enjoy' and opens it. She immediately blushed and placed the phone back to his bag.

"What the fuck did I just see?" She was mortified by the very sight of Ann doing something indecent, and obviously Sojiro told Ann that he heard weird noises from Futaba's room last night. She grabbed the phone and double-checked it to see if it was fake. Nope, the entire thing is real and she quickly deleted the video until Ren came back.

"Why are you checking my phone?" Ren asked with a slight hint of anger on his voice.

"Looking for your playlist. Mine is getting boring now." She had to lie while hoping Ren wouldn't see the horror in her eyes.

Lucky for her, he shrugged and asked his phone back. As Shiho gave it back, she notices a man walking up to them. At first glance she couldn't recognize him until he was really close.

"I almost didn't know that was you, Doc."

Maruki, who is somehow not wearing glasses, fessed up. "I bought myself contacts yesterday. Wouldn't want to be seen by Shibusawa or Rumi or anyone who could recognize me."

Ren decided to jest a bit. "And you have betrayed the Four-Eyed Cult. I shall report you to our leader."

"Very funny, Amamiya."

Shiho was then reminded by this and pulls out the wishing stars Jose gave them a few days ago. Maruki and Ren looked at her with bewilderment and took one star each.

"I nearly forgot these were with us." Ren let out a shamed chuckle, his gaze going away from Shiho.

"Y-Yeah, Suzui-san. I was about to ask about that." Maruki whistled to avoid being a fool. Shiho laughed at the sight and sighed.

"Boys."

"By the way, Suzui.... I managed to receive your recording earlier this morning." Maruki sat down and spoke with a guilty expression. "I... I didn't know that Kasumi was handling survivor's guilt like Sumire, and although she didn't pretend to be her like what our Sumire did... she just never got used to moving on as she believes that everything is always her fault."

"Yeah." Ren joined. "And after telling us her short tale about her life with her Sumire, it seemed pretty fucked up that she was too insensitive about her."

"Imagine how much pain would that be if Sumire survived in that world."

Maruki looked down at the birds feeding on the bread crumbs lying on the ground. "If getting killed by a truck won't work, there are other means for her to kill herself. Overdosing drugs, hanging, jumping off a building..." He stopped after realizing who he was talking to. "Sorry, Suzui-san. I shouldn't have said that."

"It's fine." She said with a deadpan tone.

As the three stood up to return to the condominium nearby, they notice Akechi playing basketball in the neighboring court. Ren called his attention with a whistle, prompting the shaggy-haired brunette to stop playing and join them. Maruki took notice of Akechi's sudden involvement of the sport and noted it down.

"Do you really have to write down everything you see?" Akechi spoke with slight annoyance.

"I'm just drawing."

"Bullshit."

"Well, even I would take notes about you playing basketball. I always see you as a soccer player, based on how hard you kick every Shadow we've encountered." Ren smirked as he tried to get Akechi on his nerves. Sadly, Akechi sighed and went ahead of them to their unit. After arrival, Ren tosses him one of Jose's wishing stars as he jumps on the couch. Akechi's eyes widened as he kicked Ren off the couch.

"Where the hell did you get this?"

"Jose gave it to me one night. Shiho just happened to bring it with her all this time."

Akechi turned his eyes to Shiho, who flips him off in case he will say something bad to her. His last resort? Maruki.

"Maruki, do you have one for yourself as well?"

"I have one, and Suzui-san as well. The third is for anyone, honestly."

"I agree with the doctor." Ren spoke as he jumped back to the couch. "You already made your wish last time, Akechi, so you can't have it."

Akechi snarled, but scoffed in defeat as Ren was right about it.

"True, I did wish you to be my equal rival regardless. So I'm guessing the egghead wants the stars to whoever hasn't made their resolve yet."

"More or less."

Shiho overheard this and muttered under her breath. "So that's how you do it...."

"Anyway, shall we beg-"

The unit's doorbell interrupted Akechi before he could speak. Ren walks up to open the door and sees Daisuke posing as a mailman.

"Special delivery for the smug son of a bitch who rocked the show last night!"

"Shut up, Dai."

Ren lets him in as Shiho gave him a fist bump greeting and Akechi cocking his eyebrows at him.

"Whoa, what's with the stars?" He saw Shiho and Maruki holding them.

"We're finding it out." Shiho put it frankly as he opened the box.

"You owe me three beef bowls in Taurus, man."

"Here's the pay." Ren gave Daisuke 20,000 yen to repay him for bringing their package.

"So this is your plan?" Akechi laughed as he pulled out Ren's prom suit. "You're surely gonna stand out in the ball tonight."

"Yeah, I know."

"But why, man? You suddenly got ADHD since the probation?" Daisuke joked as he received a smack from Shiho. "What did I say?"

"That wasn't funny, Daisuke."

"Anyway, it seems like this was the only thing in this package?"

"Not quite." Daisuke unearthed more stuff: holsters for Ren and Akechi, nightsticks for Shiho, and a few earpieces in a box. "Considering how hellish this mission you guys are about to go through, y'all are gonna need these."

Maruki pulls out another item from the box. "A device jammer?"

"For anyone who would try to hack their way with audio-visual transmissions."

Shiho lets out a sly grin. "You slick bastard. Suave man with a plan, indeed."

"I guess I am." He bragged to Shiho as Ren finds this amusing.

"Okay, suave man. Enough flirting."

"I wasn't flirting!" Not so suave now, huh?

After offering Daisuke some breakfast (pancakes, much to Akechi's dismay), the team then begins their plan.

"Calling out Mitsuru on national television is one thing, and making sure she gets cornered is another. So for this one, she would surely address to the people in the ball about this. Thanks to Akechi's intel gathering on Shido, we'll get quick access to the hotel without charges."

"But not everything comes for free. I want to make sure this mission ACTUALLY becomes successful."

"Sumi and I-"

"Which Sumi? There's Kasumi and Sumire."

"Glad you pointed it out, Dai. Sumire and I will be the one heading for the ball as guests and directly interact with everyone, including Mitsuru. Shiho, you'll pose as one of the staff members and place that device jammer on the main hub. I'm certain that Makoto and the team will be there, so Futaba's hacking could ruin the operation. But keep your radio on since I might have to give updates and new objectives after every interaction. Akechi-"

"I will certainly kill her when no one is looking."

"NO. We need her alive, so you'll be a guest as well who will monitor the presence of the Shadow Operatives. For Kasumi, she will be on overwatch along with Doc until they get the signal for the snatch and grab."

"Wait, why am I part of the plan?"

"Akira's notebook stated that you're needed for the project to work, and you'll be the bait for it."

Maruki buries his face in his hands while Akechi laughed hard. Daisuke slightly moved away from Akechi and whispered to Ren, "I thought this was the same arrogant son of a bitch I met last week. Why is he suddenly laughing like that?"

"That's Akechi... on a daily basis."

Shiho then laughed at Daisuke as he felt chills down his spine.

"So is everyone in agreement with the plan?"

Everyone except Akechi, who somewhat pointed out one personal flaw.

"Considering that you are going to spend the rest of the evening with Sumire-san, you will be entirely distracted by her for the most part. Especially if she suddenly goes missing."

Ren cursed under breath as he overlooked that part of the plan. "Damnit."

"And who knows what you two would do during the ball? Bump some rich dickhead or self-conceited bitch, and the mission is a bust. Get too personal with Kirijo, and the mission will be compromised. So in my shorter words, be careful with each other."

Everyone gave Akechi a look that would only mean one thing.

"Wow. Character development much?"

From the window, Morgana spoke as he finally reunites with the group.

"Where the hell have you been, cat?"

"Shut up, Akechi. It contradicts your caring nature for the lovely couple."

"If I will have to deep fry you, I wouldn't hesitate."

Ren leaned over to pick up Morgana. "How much did you hear?"

Morgana arrogantly responded, "All of it. And I know you didn't assign me an objective, so I'll have the liberty of doing recon during the ball."

Daisuke wasn't as sharp as Ryuji, but he damn isn't afraid to point out Morgana's flaw. "But you're a cat though. And Platinum Star Hotel has a no cats policy."

"WHAT?!"

"Let's just say I dug up its history and a sudden infestation of cats a few years ago forced it to close down for a short while."

Ren turned to Morgana and ruffled his fur. "Looks like you'll be doing overwatch with Doc instead. Kasumi will be doing the recon instead."

As much as Morgana wants to object, he can't help but accept the idea. "Well, alright. We'll watch over things from the outside."

As everyone adjourned the meeting, Akechi calls out Daisuke and Maruki to leave with him. As they make their way to the door, Akechi decided to give Ren a set time since he knows he would be taking Sumire out for a birthday date after her exams.

"8 pm tonight. Be the last guests to enter, if you wanna avoid any trouble."

Ren gave him an acknowledging nod as he exits the unit. He turns to Shiho and gives her the nightsticks while giving a joke.

"No funny business with these things, alright?"

"You are seriously one weird kid, Ren."

 

Location: Platinum Star Hotel Dining Hall
Time: 1134 hours

 

Rise and Yu eat their lunch in the hotel's exquisite dining hall as the menu was exclusively American. Yu enjoyed his Texan glazed beef while Rise is still consuming her Hawaiian-styled buttered shrimps.

"You're taking your time. Still exhausted from last night?" Yu asked her with an expressionless look.

"I have to be cautious with my meals, Yu-senpai." Rise glared at him. "I felt ashamed when you had to grip my thighs and waist last night as they jiggled."

"You know I would care less about how you look. All that matters is you stay true to yourself and not let other judge ya."

"You're right. I'm sorry."

Yu kisses her cheek as he spotted a few people looking at them and taking photos. Looks like they don't have privacy wherever they go.

"Looks like we got paparazzi on us."

"Fuck. Now Inoue-san will know I'm back."

As they chat a little more, a striking figure marches to their way. Her scarlet hair stood out in the dining hall as she kept her disguise to a minimum.

"I didn't expect the two of you to be here already."

"Oh, Mits-"

She slammed her hand to Rise's mouth, preventing her from mentioning her name.

"Not in a place like this, Kujikawa." She turned to Yu. "Mind giving me an explanation?"

Yu didn't hold back and gave her a glare. "I'd ask the same question to you."

"Come with me to my room. We'll discuss there."

As Rise and Yu follow Mitsuru back to her room, they were amazed at how she managed to get the presidential suite of the hotel for herself.

"If you're wondering how long I was here, I'd say for nearly a week."

"So after Hiroshima...."

"I instantly came here to join the sponsorship in the hotel's anniversary ball. But with recent events-"

"Let me stop you there, Mitsuru-san." Rise's interjection caught both Mitsuru and Yu unexpected. "Yukari already told us that your own soldiers kicked the hell out of them under YOUR orders."

Mitsuru beat herself up internally. Fuck, why did I even have those soldiers? Now they know about my plan.

"And from what Chie told me, you sent them there after they recruited Zenkichi Hasegawa." Yu's tone was getting more serious and aggressive. "Hell, you were close to murdering a child back there outside Iwatodai!"

"I am fully aware of that. Had they not brought a non-Persona user there, things wouldn't have been escalating to the worst."

"Unbelievable."

Mitsuru turns the TV on in time to witness the news report regarding the sudden leaked footage of her armed forces murdering civilians and attacking Yukari's team.

"Damnit, now they're branding me as a terrorist leader."

"You need to decommission the armed forces now."

Mitsuru stayed quiet until she made her decision.

"I'll address the public later tonight in the ball. I'll be in contact with the rest."

Rise challenged her order. "You sure you don't want to gather everyone so you can kill them on the spot?"

"Not another word from you." She raised her rapier onto Rise's eye, which triggered Yu to raise his sword.'

"You can be a real bitch when you're in charge, Empress."

Forced to back down, Mitsuru lowers her sword and prepares her dress.

"I'll do my speech at 8 pm. Be there to watch my back."

 

Location: Shibuya Station Square
Time: 1450 hours

 

Kasumi meets up with Ren and Shiho as the two make their way to Untouchable. But before they could begin, they just HAD to run into a certain someone who was 'people watching'.

"Ah, you're here."

"Yusuke? What are you doing here?"

"Concretely doing the same thing I've always been doing."

"You really need to find new activities."

Yusuke turns to see Shiho and Kasumi, who dons her German persona.

"Ah, Miss Strucker! I believe you left this behind a few days ago." Yusuke stated as he grabs the walking stick from his bag.

"Oh, thank you! I'm sorry I made you worry."

"I don't understand."

"I have thirteen more of them at home."

Yusuke stood there blankly as he asked another question. "Do you know who created these walking sticks?"

"I am blind, my friend. Sadly, this stick does not have Braille in it."

Yusuke examined the stick again and finds no traces of material for her to 'read'. "My apologies. It must have been rude of me to ask you that."

"Whydja ask, Kitagawa-kun?" Shiho tilted her head.

"This stick was created by someone who is using my name albeit the carving of this stick is refined and magnificent as opposed to my artistic skills."

Ren took a look at the stick as he reads the small print near the grip. Carved and presented by Yusuke Kitagawa.

"You sure you didn't do carving lessons?" Ren tried to play.

"Absolute not. But I am tempted to try." Yusuke spoke honestly.

"Alright. We'll be going now."

As Yusuke bade farewell to them, he realized that he failed to give the stick back.

"I should've known...." he sighed in disappointment to himself.

Meanwhile, Ren and Kasumi remained outside as Shiho enters Untouchable to grab the guns.

"One PKP Pecheneg with a precision sight and silencer. One customized Beretta Px4 Storm with a crimson barrel. One customized USP45 with a striped motif and silencer. One Winchester M1898 lever rifle with a 4x scope. And one customized SIG 556 with chrome plating and an auburn-colored barrel."

"Seems like you're preparing for a war, Missy."

"Something like that."

As Iwai went to pick up the guns, he tried to converse with Shiho.

"Kaoru told me about you."

"Really?"

"Shujin is known for many incidents." He carefully considered his next statement. "Apparently, you were that girl who tried to give up the ghost."

Shiho bit her lip and clenched her fist, alerting Iwai that he triggered something bad.

"Sorry, I shouldn't said that."

"It's fine. I already confronted the child fucker a few days ago."

Iwai was impressed at her strength. "You got guts, kid. Even after you tried to kill yourself, you still have guts."

"Life's an endless battle."

"I agree with that." He places the disassembled guns (for public carrying's sake) and announces the total payment. "500,000 yen."

"Sure thing. Gimme a sec." Shiho opens the door and demands Ren for the cash, with the latter hanging his head in defeat.

"You really are gutsy. Even asking Ren to pay all this up." He chuckled heartily. "You should be grateful."

"And damn right, I am. Thanks, Iwai-san!" Shiho gave him a salute as he pulls out another lollipop. As she exited the store, Kasumi already began her teasing.

"You're suddenly money-conscious for a man who has nearly a bank's worth of cash in his pockets."

"He seems to be picky with the money. Even when trying to bring me back, he was cautious. But then again, that damn Igor demands payment too much for just a simple call-up." Raoul decided to explain on his stead.

The trio then bump into Sumire, who gave Kasumi a quick hug and kissing Ren in the cheek.

"Hey, cutie." She flirted.

"Not as cute as you are today." He coolly told her, causing her bravado to fade and blush hard on site.

"N-n-no fair! How are you unfazed by my comments?"

"You look really great today, Sumi." Ren looked at Kasumi. "You planned this, didn't you?"

"It is her birthday wish, after all." She gave a smug grin to Sumire, who fixed her locks as she pouted.

"It's yours, too."

Shiho winked at Ren, giving him the idea that it's alone time for them.

"Say, uh, Sumi..." He started, "You wanna start our date now?"

"Already?!" The three gave a warm laugh at Sumire's flustered look.

"We'll be fine, lover girl. Rendezvous is at 7 pm, mkay?" Shiho reminded them as Ren gave her a thumbs up.

"I'll find a way to kill time on my own. Until then..." Kasumi gives them their invitations.

As they split up, Ren holds Sumire's hand as they start walking.

"Where to first, my dear?"

"Inokashira Park, my dear debonair."

Ren didn't expect that. "Wait, huh?"

Sumire finally got him to lose his cool. "Yes, the park. I just want us to feel relaxed as you throw in your cheesiest jokes and love confessions."

"H-Hang on, why are you so bold and graceful in saying that?" He felt a slight heat on his face.

"My, did I just make the calm and collected Ren Amamiya feel a little.... embarrassed and off-guard?"

"You know I'll bounce back."

"Mhmm, from how I see it..." she removes his fake glasses. "A charming ray of sunshine like you can't be too good to be true all the time, you dork."

Now he's feeling the heat. "You win."

"Yay!"

As the two take the train ride to Inokashira Park, eyes were on Sumire as passengers began whispering and murmuring about them. They don't seem to care as they continued holding hands while Sumire leans her head onto Ren's shoulder. Ren may have felt a blush on him, but he didn't mind as he looked the girl next to him being sweet as always. After arriving at the entrance of the park, the two lovers began taking a stroll around the place. They stop by to help a lost duckling return to its mother in the lake.

"Seems like we happen to find the nicest things when we're together, Senpai." She smiled as she watched the duckling paddle to the mother duck.

"Yeah. I kind of prefer these kind of things, if it weren't for the Phantom Thief business we're having."

Sumire can tell from the sound of his voice that something not right.

"What do you mean by that?" She inquired as Ren took a deep breath.

"I want to make sure that this is our very last mission. After we take out the Metaverse without activating the Sacrificial Lamb, I'm officially disbanding the team."

"But don't you always say that?"

"I'll make sure it's final. We can't keep allowing these things to happen."

"What if there are new cases?"

"Then I can't do anything about it this time. Igor better let a new team deal with that."

Sumire didn't sound pleased with his decision and perished the thought before it will escalate into an argument. Ren looked at her from the corner of his eye and faced her to explain why he wishes for it.

"We're not just gonna disband because I don't want to help anymore. Take a look at the Shadow Operatives for one example: judging from how they fought us, it seemed like they've been at this for years. We'd do them a big favor and give them their biggest break. No more Shadows or Metaverse to hustle our asses around."

Sumire took into thought what he meant: although it is fun to repeatedly go about with their business as vigilantes of justice, they can't rely on that forever to live their lives. They are still human beings with that power, but they are not meant to abuse that power because they feel like it.

"Okay, Senpai." Sumire firmly spoke. "If that's what you want for us, then I'm with you."

Ren kisses her in the lips for a few seconds, causing her to blush once again.

"Ren: 3. Sumire: 1."

"No fair!"

The two then proceed to buy ice cream nearby, wherein a certain blonde wearing a purple jacket spots them.

"Yo!"

"Fuck."

"Oh no."

Ryuji jogs his way to the two, giving Ren a fist bump and a high five to Sumire. He's probably hungry, too.

"You didn't tell us you were in the city, man!" Ryuji jeered.

"You damn well know I was after last night. I grew worried for my dear Sumi here." Ren replied nonchalantly.

"Oh, uh... Right." Ryuji kicked the dust off the ground as he sulked a bit. "I just wanna apologize to you about Ann last night. I know that she can bitch around at times, but she means well. She's worried that you're bringing the team into trouble again."

"What do you mean?"

"Didn't you just pull off that Joker stunt last night?" Ryuji began to answer impatiently.

"That wasn't me." Ren decided to gamble Ryuji's stupidity.

"Bull. Shit." Ryuji's tone went more hostile.

"I'm serious. I just got off the train to be with Sumire tonight. It is what she wanted tonight: a romantic night with the love of her life to escape the hellish reality of society." The two of them notice Sumire hiding her face under her blouse. Ryuji sighed and apologized to Ren, which he forgave him easily.

"If that wasn't you, then who was- Crap!"

"Something wrong, buddy?" Ren faked his concern.

"N-Nothing! I just remembered what I was supposed to do! Gotta go!"

With that, Ryuji dashed as fast as he can until he was nowhere in sight. Ren and Sumire blinked until they realized they have also something to do.

"Oh, crap! The sponsorship ball!"

"Don't worry, Sumi. We got time..."

"You sure?"

Giving an affirmative nod, Sumire's body relaxes and leans onto Ren's.

"Thanks."

"What for?"

"Being my hero every time."

"But-"

"Uh, uh, uh. You need to acknowledge your kindness, Mister."

The two of them went on to walk their way to Kichijoji. Meanwhile, Ryuji pants hard and finds Morgana strolling along. He immediately grabbed and shook him to warn him about what he discovered, which Morgana secretly found it to be amusing.

"MONA! MONA!"

"Quuuieieieieit shaaeeeaeaeeking meeeeieeieie!" Morgana vomited in front of Ryuji after being vigorously shaken.

"Damnit, I just bought these shoes!"

"The hell did you just do that to me, you ape?!"

"Why ya little- Never mind. I gotta warn ya about something!"

"What is it? You found a girlfriend?"

"Well, no. Not yet. BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT!"

"What is it then?" Morgana's impatience grew as Ryuji finally went to the point.

"Ren has a clone posing as Joker!"

"What made ya think of that?"

Ryuji then explained what Yukari told them last night and told Morgana that he ran into Ren who 'wasn't Joker last night' during the incident. Morgana had to keep himself from laughing to avoid complications.

"That does sound dangerous."

"Right?! I gotta warn the others about this! We're going after the wrong guy!"

"Wrong guy?" Morgana faked a gasp. "Are you all trying to do Phantom Thieves business without us?!"

"Well, uh...." Ryuji gave up. "Yeah, we are."

"Then better save Ren and Sumire while you can."

Ryuji gave him a thumbs up and ran once more. Morgana had to wait until he is completely alone to burst into laughter.

"Boy, what an idiot he can be..."

But then again, he just told Ryuji to tell the team to save those two.

"Whoops."

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 1641 hours

 

After going through numerous stores and food establishments, Ren and Sumire finally arrive back in the Yoshizawa household. Upon entry, Sumire is greeted by her parents, Shiho, Kasumi, Akechi, and Maruki. Ren let out a smile as Sumire felt like tearing up again.

"Twice in one day, Kasumi. You're really trying your best." Sumire fell on her knees and bawled.

"Hey, sweetheart. It's alright to feel overwhelmed." Shinichi helped her up as Hanaki prepares the candles.

"Now we have the candles to blow." Kasumi poked fun at the cake.

"I noticed you baked yourselves a cake."

"How did you know?"

"The dirty plates and utensils."

Kasumi winced. I forgot to wash those, considering how busy we're gonna be.

As Shinichi reads Akira's notebook with Akechi and Maruki to get a gist of their mission, Kasumi and Shiho lead Sumire up to their room try something out. Meanwhile, Ren looks at his phone and admires the selfie he took with Sumire before switching to his prom suit. Both seem to be in matching outfits, if you think about it: red, black, and gray clothing. Hanaki goes upstairs to see what they're up to and instead lets out a satisfactory remark.

"My goodness, you look beautiful! I can just squish your cheeks right now."

"M-Mom!"

"Don't bother, Mom. She wants only Ren to give more than just squishing in the cheeks."

"Kasumi!"

As the boys look at the stairwell, they began to drop their jaws as Sumire emerges. Donning a light blue off-shoulder dress with white frills and a black belt, Sumire looks astonishing as Ella gave her a comment.

"You look a-freaking-mazing, my lady! Your faux twin and raven-headed friend knows you very well with what you're born to wear."

Ren remained speechless as Akechi waved his hand in front of his face.

"He has apparently died from shock."

Kasumi then follows up by emerging in a gray ballroom gown with black gloves and a red sash going from her shoulder to her hip. Akechi then felt speechless as well as he observed the twins.

"Admiring my other daughter now? You know you have no chance with her, Akechi."

"I am not simply looking at her as my potential wife."

"Oh? Then you're perving on her." Shinichi went into strict dad mode as Akechi felt offended.

"What? No fucking way!"

Hanaki clears her throat and gestures them for the cake. As Sumire and Kasumi blew their candles, Maruki does not notice that his star is glowing. As the family went on to continue the small festivities, Akechi informed them that he and Shiho will go ahead to set up for their plan. Ren once again took a selfie with Sumire, but now joined by Kasumi as the family finally began to fill the house with life once more. Maruki signals Ren and Sumire to ready up as the clocked struck 6:30 p.m.

"Be careful in dealing with Kirijo." Shinichi gave them a reminder while Hanaki kissed her daughter farewell.

"Shall we go?" Maruki (now dressed up as a taxi driver, with a real taxi) honks the horn to call them. As the girls entered first, they noticed two flower bouquets inside. One of them had violets (Sumire) while the other had cherry blossoms (Kasumi). Both girls turned to Ren as he waved them off.

"It was worth my budget."

"You mean a budget that still remains to be 400 million yen in your pockets. A surprise that fixing the slight chopper crack was only around 17,000 yen!"

Ren ignored Raoul as he sat between his girlfriend and his counterpart's girlfriend.

"Ready to go?" Maruki looked at them from the rear view mirror.

"Let's do this." Sumire grinned.

"Let's show them what we're made of then." Kasumi spoke with a smile.

"It's showtime." Ren smirked.

Maruki then drives the trio to the hotel at high speed.

Chapter Text

March 25, 20XX

Location: Platinum Star Hotel, Ginza
Time: 1900 hours

 

Ren, Kasumi, and Sumire finally arrive at the Platinum Star Hotel, where they see several people attending the Sponsorship Ball during its 10-year anniversary. Stepping out of Maruki's taxi, Ren and Sumire whistled Akechi (disguised as a bellboy) as Maruki pulls out their 'luggage'.

"All you need is inside this bag, alright?" Maruki reiterated.

"No worries, Doc. Stay parked by the parking lot building across us and keep an eye for anything suspicious." Ren gave him a command that Maruki can do.

"You got it. And, uh, I'll try to study more on the hieroglyphics if I get bored."

"Sure thing, Doctor." Sumire flashed him a smile.

"To be clear, I would advise caution for you both. It seems the threats are harder to get past than I thought." Akechi whispered at them as he takes their luggage and pointed out several people in the crowd.

Akihiko Sanada: Mitsuru Kirijo's right hand and best friend.

Naoto Shirogane: Mitsuru's left hand and master analyst.

Yukiko Amagi: Proprietress of the Amagi Inn and special guest of the sponsorship.

Chie Satonaka: Inaba's youngest police sergeant and Yukiko's bodyguard.

Haru Okumura: youngest president of Okumura Foods. Callsign Noir.

Yu Narukami: Private investigator. Naoto's tactical partner and former Velvet Room guest.

Rise Kujikawa: Pop idol and modern-day sex symbol. Better known as Risette.

Ann Takamaki: Quarter-American model and latest face of Teen Vague. Callsign Panther.

Yukari Takeba: Award-winning actress. Most known for her role as Pink Argus in the Phoenix Ranger Neo Featherman series.

"Well, shit. This is gonna be a fun night."

"Assuming you WILL be involved in the fight."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You two... in a hotel room... all alone. What happens next?" Akechi smirked with mischief.

"You dirty sonuvab-"

Sumire held onto Ren's arm, showing embarrassment in her face. But she shook it off and told him that they have to focus on the mission as they approach one of the guards.

"Names?"

"Sumire Yoshizawa and Ren Amamiya."

Akechi prepped a tranquilizer in case the deal between him and Shido is not in effect. Thankfully, the guard nodded and let them get through to the receptionist.

"Here's your room number 411! Thank you for choosing Platinum Star!"

As the Royal trio enter the elevator and make their way up to the fourth floor, they took a glance at an anime with an odd but badass animation style playing in the small tv installed.

"Even the women look like they're on steroids." Akechi slapped his forehead.

"But they fight like they're Persona users." Sumire continued watching as she clung onto Ren's arm.

"Still cool to watch, if you ask me." Ren shrugged as the doors opened.

As the made their way to the room, they scope the place for any stragglers and spot Shiho down the hall.

"Psst! Shiho!"

The black-haired athlete looked up and saw her teammates, making her pick up the pace. Akechi opens the door and lets everyone move in fast before shutting it behind him.

"Where's Kasumi?" Shiho asked.

"She went somewhere to put on her disguise. As much as she wants to enjoy tonight, she can't rest." Sumire sadly answered.

"Even on her own birthday? Damn."

Akechi unloads the device jammer and passes it to Shiho. "You'll need to make sure you get access to the security hub. If they resist..."

"Kick their ass with the nightstick. Got it."

"You two, I need you to put your earpieces on recorder mode. We need to get vital info out of this mission, so whatever comes to your ears goes to Suzui."

Ren and Sumire nod as they adjust their radios.

"I won't be much help for you three except towards Kasumi. That is-"

"That is I own a different look."

The four of them turn to see Kasumi, who is now looking like a bombshell with the alternate look. The dress she wore earlier now has a slit that shows her right leg while her gloves are now fingerless. The wig she wears is now that of a radiant purple to match her contact lenses. Sumire slaps Ren while Shiho slaps Akechi for the same reason: ogling at Kasumi.

"Sumi! I-I didn't mean to!" Ren covered his face with his hands.

"I-I-I was not ogling at you like a foul animal." Akechi gulped.

"So what's your identity this time, Kasumi?"

"I'm the surprise guest performer, Berlin Konstantina."

"That's a dead giveaway, considering your appearance."

"I know, but it's worth the shot."

Shiho immediately leaves with her nightsticks and the device jammer while Kasumi receives Ren's pistol in the meantime. Akechi equips his silenced pistol and waits until Ren and Sumire head down after they set up the failsafe guns.

"Let's go already!" Akechi impatiently hissed.

"Hang on, will ya? Stashing the machine gun under the bed isn't easy." Ren snarled as the two wrapped up and went down with Akechi. As they arrive in the venue on the third  floor, the host calls everyone's attention for the opening remarks of the ceremony. After so, he calls up Mitsuru, who earns numerous gossip from the crowd.

"I would like to thank you, Platinum Star, for inviting me to this wonderful ceremony." Mitsuru began her speech. "It is with great honor to stand in front of you all and create a discussion that will surely strengthen our hearts and souls."

"Tch. What horseshit." Akechi scoffed from behind as he helps out random guests.

"As you have heard, the Kirijo Corporation has been accused by the Phantom Thieves for corruption of power and militarized abuse. Well, pay no attention to them or the man who claims himself to be the Phantom Thief last night. Standing before you is the truest and most sincere of the Kirijo bloodline (Bullshit!) that promises you not only a better future with our security measures but also a safe and secure one to partner its resolve. To provide the sponsorship with the highest amount of money to be offered, I am generous enough to share 200,000,000 yen for the good of humanity, the good of our world, and the good of our future."

Sumire and Ren look at each other until the notice Kasumi moving a few steps forward.

"Kasumi, don't..." Sumire muttered as she carefully watched.

"So tonight, let us all enjoy ourselves and make our best impressions." Mitsuru's short speech ended with the crowd clapping, unsure whether it was for show or sincere. While Ren and Sumire strayed off and eavesdropped their way (with Shiho getting an idea on how strong the AV transmissions are via radio comms), Yu and Rise decide to talk to them as they reached the balcony.

"Hey there, Joker." Rise started things off, startling the young couple.

"Relax, you two. We're here to talk, actually." Yu reassured them. Ren and Sumire immediately lowered their defensive stance and welcomed their offer to talk.

"So... how's the party?" Ren tried to break the ice a bit.

"A bit alright, but my performance isn't on until the geezbag with the red tie would inform me." Rise begrudgingly said. "I'm so gonna rock this party after dinner."

"Speaking of which, why not we eat?" Sumire pointed out as everyone's stomachs grumbled.

"Sounds good." Yu spoke before being pulled back by Ren.

"Hang on. You two don't have radios in you, right?"

"Rise."

Rise pulls out a small radio that was attached to her cleavage hole of her dress. "Don't ask, kids."

"Turn it off, but don't make it obvious."

Yu gave her the approving nod as she turns it off carefully.

"Done. Now what?"

Sumire calls in Shiho. "Alright, Diamond. Scramble them."

No response.

"Diamond, do you copy?"

Yu begins to see the worrisome face of Sumire.

"Should I look for her?" Yu volunteered until they hear a voice from the other end.

"FUCK, those guards weren't holding back!"

"You took long." Ren idiotically pointed out, making Shiho groan and answer sarcastically.

"I'm sorry, sir, but it seems that we cannot provide a one-woman assistance crew against an entire security office."

"Sorry, Shiho-senpai... We ready?"

"Yeah. Anyone you with?"

Sumire passes along her earpiece to Yu and Rise, which is quite a relief.

"Good. Then we're set."

Shiho then plugs the jammer in the server and activates its code, creating a scramble on visual and audio waves and distorting them entirely.

 

Not far away, Futaba is pissed off by the sudden loss of her communications.

"Fuck, what's gotten into my little hacking bug?!"

"Want me to whack it?" Ryuji offered only to receive a glare from her.

"Not my babies."

"Whatever you say."

 

"You're good to go. Have fun."

Shiho gave them the signal as she chows down on her Saturn Burger. Ren guides them to the Dining Hall and begins to pick out the food. Due to the menu still being American, Ren couldn't help but chuckle as he grabbed the Hawaiian buttered shrimp.

"Something wrong with the shrimp?" Rise asked.

"Reminds me of my field trip in Hawaii."

"What?! We got stuck with travelling to Iwatodai and you get to have fun in America?" Rise hissed at the fact that Yasogami High was not good with their field trip management.

"It was a bit okay. Spent some time with Makoto to help her relieve her stress." Ren added.

"So one of the reasons why you have Tiki Keychain." Sumire nudged him. "I should have gave you one as well, but-"

"But Hiraguchi wouldn't allow you to stray off, right?" Sumire nods at Ren's filler sentence. The four then make their way to a table by the corner where one chair is sat by Akihiko, who is avoiding Mitsuru for some reason.

"Sanada-san." Sumire bowed in front of him.

"Yoshizawa." He looked at Ren, then Yu, then Rise, and lastly back to Sumire. "Damnit, I feel under-dressed for this occasion."

"Don't kick yourself, Akihiko-san." Rise sat next to him. "The least you can do is enjoy our company."

Yu, Sumire, and Ren sat as well as they began chatting about personal stuff.

"Didn't expect the power couple to show up on TV, get their asses kicked while kicking asses, and show up to this party like nothing happened." Akihiko grinned at the couple's resilience. "I wanna know your secret to that."

"Well, the power of love, of course." Ren joked as the group chuckled. "I would go to the world and back to keep Sumi safe."

"You seem more dedicated with her despite the long-distance relationship."

"He is. He's never given up on me despite previous circumstances."

"Soooo tell me how did you two meet and fall in love."

Sumire and Ren took turns as they shared their journey together. The adults' reactions and responses ranged from joy to sadness to anger until relief. After they concluded their story with the recent date, Rise went bubbly after hearing them.

"You two really do defy LDR!"

"And the endless video calls when you get the chance... Rise would always get interrupted by her manager more than during one video call."

"Yeah, I sometimes wonder if Inoue has a love life."

"Don't be that harsh, Rise. Guy probably has a wife to smack him with a newspaper at home."

The group laughed heartily to Akihiko's attempted pun. Sumire tugs Ren's suit and whispers to his ear.

"How about you, Sanada-san? Got a dame to live for?" Ren asked, indirectly causing Rise to annoy him a bit.

"Yeah! Got a lady in your heart, Akihiko-san? Is she smart? Is she pretty? Is she good in bed?"

Sumire slowly slumped down in embarrassment, having to hear Rise ask him with even the most explicit questions. Ren and Yu can only facepalm as Akihiko broke his silence.

"I used to."

"Oh?"

"Truth be told, I kinda fell for this girl back in college. Really stunning. Headstrong and stubborn, but she would always find time to fluster herself."

"Sounds like a great girl."

"To answer your shameful questions, Rise, yes. She was good in bed, but that was only on three conditional scenarios."

"Um, why three though?"

"Oh, yeah. You two planning to doing the deed anytime soon?"

"Rise-san!" Sumire hid her face more as Ren cuddled her for comfort.

"I was kidding. Sorry if I made it too uncomfy."

"You kinda did." Yu felt pain from Rise's stilettos as she stomped on his foot.

"Not. Helping."

"Sumi, it's okay. Take a few deep breaths, and let yourself be calm in mind, body, and soul." Ren tried his to take her blush away, but she blushes even more.

"Seems she feels more flustered around you than Rise's questions." Akihiko also gets a stiletto stomp to his foot.

"T-T-Thanks, Senpai."

Sumire and Ren look at each other closely.

"I-I-If we end up doing it... I-I just w-want y-y-you to know that I-I-I love you so much."

"I feel the same way, Sumi. But we can only let fate tell us when to do it."

 

Still listening to their conversation, Shiho tried her best not to make things uncomfortable on her end.

"Yeah, 50,000 yen says they won't do it." She proclaimed her bet as she drank her pineapple juice.

 

"So, Akihiko..." Yu leaned forward with a smug grin. "Who's the lady?"

"I think her name was Sae."

Ren spat his drink out while Sumire began a coughing fit while recovering from her flustered behavior.

"Son of a b-"

"Did I say something wrong?"

"You're not referring to Sae Niijima, right?"

"Yeah! That's the one."

Ren winced while Sumire whistled.

"Oh... Mutual friend of ours, huh?"

"More or less."

Akechi approaches the team after overhearing the sudden confession.

"I'll be happy to remind Sae-san of you, Sanada."

"You seem oddly dressed, Akechi."

"This IS a disguise, after all."

"Right."

He then turns to the two. "There's been a change of plans. I overheard Mitsuru talking about the two of you."

"What is it about, Akechi-san?"

"You two have been selected to dance in all three pperformances. One by Risette and her somewhat trio team (We're called the Lovers Arcana.), then one by Kasumi, and lastly some pop rocker called Shotgun."

"What's she up to?" Yu asks Akechi for more details.

"Even I cannot ascertain more info on that. Ren, you're gonna have to dance with Mitsuru during Kasumi's segment."

"Got it." Ren answered without skipping a beat.

"You can do your dance with Sumire-san during Rise's song and Shotgun's. But the last one, I have no idea on how his music will impact the mission."

"Isn't it rock music, so you can do basically the shady shit while things are noisy?" Rise pointed out what may be an idea.

"You're suddenly an expert on these, Kujikawa."

"Don't be a dick about it, pretty boy." Rise glared at him for his comment.

"Why thank you. I'm charmed." He arrogantly used sarcasm to the statement. "You're on in 10 minutes, so drink what you need and proceed on stage."

After that, Akechi leaves them alone while Shiho scans the ballroom to designate a pattern for their comms to catch to her ears. Ren and company then leave their table and proceed to the ballroom, where Rise splits up with them to join Ann and Yukari. Akihiko and Yu then plan to reconvene with Chie and Yukiko to avoid suspicion, leaving Ren and Sumire to walk together, her arm clung onto his like a royal dance.

"Under different circumstances, this would have been the best prom we'd have together." Ren softly spoke to Sumire.

"Yeah, this place feels majestic to have the dances and all." Sumire remembered the person on the other end of the comms. "Isn't that right, Shiho-senpai?"

"Not gonna lie, I will damn agree. Nayami's Prom committee fucked up half of the stuff in what could have been a nice event. But then again.... Shadow attack."

"Yeah." She glances at Ren, who kisses her forehead. "Stick with the plan, but stay safe as well when I'm with Mitsuru."

Sumire kisses him back in the cheek as she beamed at him. "Of course! Wouldn't want my birthday to end without you."

As they reach the center of the room, they are surprisingly met with Haru behind Sumire and Yukiko behind Ren. Of course, both ladies have dance partners, but it doesn't help in the sudden tension. Rise then turns her mic on and calls the attention of the crowd.

"Good evening, monsieurs and mademoiselles! It's Risette here with a few of my gal pals here and we're excited to play our song together! Ready?"

The crowd applauded as Rise gives the signal to start their pop song titled Nevermore. The cheerful rhythm along with the funky beats gave a sign of relief to Ren as he jived along with Sumire, who is (obviously) a natural dancer. As the song played, Ren and Sumire share a little chat while they kept their bodies grooving.

"Didn't expect you to show off moves like that."

"You kinda felt sad when I didn't take your hand during the school festival years ago. Only after Ryuji kicked my ass and made me bump into you did I have no choice."

"No wonder you looked funny with your movements."

"Think of this time as a way to make up for it."

"Sure thing."

As the band went half way to the song and made Sumire show her moves once again leaving everyone else stunned while making Rise smile. Yukari looked at Ann, who was beginning to falter in her voice, and cheered her up by showing her a few coupons while singing as to not disrupt the performance. Sumire reaches her hand out to Ren, who accepts it this time with a smile on his face.

"Senpai."

"Hmm?"

"I wonder if we can dance like this every day... when we're not far away anymore."

"Sure thing. We can borrow the attic in LeBlanc and dance there."

"We won't hit the plant, right?"

"Nope."

Both began to really enjoy themselves as the song reached the bridge. The two engage in a short embrace as the song picked up the pace once again.

"Now YOU are the one showing the moves."

"Getting the hang of it now."

"Of course, senpai."

As the song reached its final moments until the coda, Ren and Sumire never let go of their hands and their gaze at each other. Both of them blushed, both from the tiring dance and their sweet moment together, Rise jumped off the stage to join in their dance and made them follow her moves a bit. From the security hub, Shiho can grin and laugh at their performance until she noticed the next performer wasn't Kasumi. She radioed the team about this.

"Guys, that's not Kasumi."

"Is it Shotgun?"

"No, it's-"

"Hello, grizzlies!"

Rise and Yukari laughed as Ann was mesmerized by Teddie. And as always, Teddie flirted with the ladies. And Ann is apparently his latest victim.

"My goodness! We have similarities to each other! Blonde hair... blue eyes... pale skin... kind heart." He grips Ann's hand. "You and I shall be lovers by the end of tonight!"

"WHAT!?" Ann was very perplexed by this and pulls her hand away, making everyone laugh. Now furiously turning red, she marches off the stage to avoid further humiliation.

Before she can reach the door, said door opens and reveals another blue-eyed man.

"You have got to be kidding me."

"I heard it from outside, Lady Ann. Where is he?"

Ann pointed at Teddie and ran off. Morgana (in human form, for some odd apparent reason) stomped towards Teddie and challenged him to a duel to win Ann's heart, much to the girl's dismay.

"Why are idiots attracted to me?"

Mitsuru interrupts their little stand-off. "Can I find the reason why you're challenging this man, Mister..."

"Morgan. And I will not let this good-for-nothing, shameless pimp get the heart of my Lady Ann!"

Ren, Sumire, Shiho, Kasumi, Akechi, and Haru can laugh as they watch the debacle occur.

"Teddie, you were supposed to find Yosuke and let him sing."

"Uh, about that..."

 

Earlier, 20 minutes ago...

 

Yosuke wasn't feeling well since he arrived in the hotel. Endless vomiting became his enemy as he accused Teddie of...

"You poisoned my food!?"

"I just added what Yukiko-chan told me."

"You damn well know that Yukiko's cooking sucks!"

"How was I supposed to know it would make you sick?!"

"Your body system is fucking abnormal while I have a regular, balanced body system." He vomited again as the staff decided to help him.

"You're gonna do the singing. No flirting with any girls, ya hear me?"

"Yes, sir!"

 

In the hotel's mini-infirmary, Yosuke witnessed what Teddie did to Ann.

"Stupid bear."

 

Mitsuru then pinched her forehead in disbelief as she tried to think of something. Ren, luckily, had the perfect solution.

"Dance off! Dance off! Dance off! Dance off!"

Sumire followed after her boyfriend, then Rise joined, then Yu, then Haru, then the crowd. Meanwhile, Yukari finds amusement while Ann found annoyance.

"Why couldn't it be Ren who did a confession like that?" She murmured but failed to hide it from Yukari.

"Oh, so you have the hots for Yoshizawa's boyfriend?"

"Yeah." Ann sighed as she leaned to the wall. "Honestly, I shunned him off at first because we aren't exactly in good terms. After Shiho nearly died and Ren showed me the truth of things, I relied on him to lead me to the road of empowerment. As time went by and our missions grew tougher and more personal, I slowly fell for him. When we were in Hawaii, I caught him with Makoto... and that's where I showed my jealousy. But that damn smile and kindness of his puts me off my guard and in the end... I can't hate him entirely."

Yukari pulled her close. "Cheer up, Ann. At least the love of your life still remains here on Earth..." She trailed off with a downcast expression as she remembered that blue-haired stoic who went against all odds to save the world. Ann saw her sadness and quickly changed her expression. "Oh, I'm sorry I forced some bad memories......"

"It's fine, really. He taught us a lot of things in life, even if it mean not being here to grow with us."

As the two girls looked at the stage, they notice Teddie showing off disco moves while Morgana resorts to freestyle hip-hop. Kasumi (still disguised) called Yukari over for a second.

"Looks like one of your projects worked, Takeba-san." She whispered.

"Yeah. I did not expect the cat to be damn good-looking though."

"Well, better pick: a pimp or a simp?"

"Neither."

Yukari then returns to Ann to watch the dance off, which is then voluntarily judged by Mitsuru and Ren (since he started it). As the performances began, both the executioner and the thief made small talk while keeping their eyes on their respective buffoons.

"Why'd ya make us be in the stage?"

"Was supposed to talk to you as we danced."

"We're talking now, so say what you need to say."

"I want you to get off my ass."

"Phrasing, Mitsuru-san."

"Cocky in your puns, Amamiya?"

"Phrasing again."

Mitsuru groaned not out of annoyance, but out of kid. "You're a strange kid, you know that?"

"My charm says otherwise."

"I'm serious, though. I'm only warning you this once: stay away from Manahashi and his-"

"Clone? We're aware. We have our own, after all."

"Right. He's far more dangerous than anyone we've faced."

"Diabolical man wanting to rule multiple dimensions, right?"

Mitsuru was surprised with his knowledge. "How did you-"

"Our 'clone' happens to have notes regarding Manahashi."

"I see. But I want you to back out now. I have a plan up my sleeve that could prevent all this from happening."

"Akihiko hoped you'd say that. But he kinda lost faith in you now."

"I'm aware. Sadly, Manahashi controls the armed forces now, not me."

"Is that what you wanted to tell me? To walk away from the biggest mystery we've ever faced?"

"You have until midnight to decide. If you wish to continue pursuing us, do it in two days time. We'll be in the fortress 50 kilometers southeast from here, but I cannot guarantee your survival."

"You know my decision before things were already explained."

Mitsuru gave him a somber look, then nodded her head. "Okay then. I respect your decision."

"Shall we declare the winner now?"

"Yes. HALT!"

Everyone stared at Mitsuru while Teddie and Morgana stopped on mid-performance. Teddie is struggling to stay still with the Michael Jackson lean while Morgana is stuck with one hand on the ground and his body in mid-air. Everyone was impressed by their endurance to the action.

Ren fixed his glasses while Mitsuru adjusted her locks to the back of her ear.

"After careful consideration of this ridiculous contest..."

"The winner of this contest is..."

"NO!"

Ann burst to the ballroom and protested their impending decision. "I get to decide."

"Take it away, Lady Ann."

Ann glared at Ren and muttered something as she grabbed the mic.

"You never fail to flatter me, huh?"

Ren shrugged as he tapped his foot to the ground.

"Neither of you won."

Teddie and Morgana fall off their positions and drop to the ground.

"But why?"

"Lady Ann!"

"You two clearly don't have the grace and style of an artist. If you had noticed earlier, there was a couple who danced to their own rhythm with a unique style that placed their own grace. You two only did this to win some prize..."

Ann dropped the microphone and ran off as it left everyone stunned. Ren looked at Sumire, but both hesitated and went against their morals.

Mitsuru picks up the microphone. "Well, that was..... Uh, I don't know what to say..."

The crowd began murmuring about Ann's outburst as Haru instead went after Ann and found her crying in the balcony.

"Ann-chan."

"No, Haru." she placed her hand in front of the heiress. "Don't even try to comfort me at all."

"It's because of Ren-kun, isn't it?"

Ann rapidly nodded her head as tears streamed out of his eyes.

"I'm so weak. So envious of them... I thought I moved on, but... but..."

Ann receives a hug from Haru as she slowly stops crying.

"I felt jealous too, Ann-chan. I felt that way when he only told us we're just friends, and I know better that it's worse to hold on to it for a long time than to let it go easily."

"What are you saying?"

"You have to show him that you never stopped. It's somewhat a closure for the both of you."

Ann snorted a bit. "You better not encourage me to force him to cheat."

"Oh no, I'm not. That would be horrible for Sumire-chan."

"Right."

Ann fixes her dress and hair as Haru watched her. "How do I look?"

"Like a train wreck."

Both girls giggled as they decided to finish the evening in the dining hall. Meanwhile, Kasumi finally took her chance as she gave the host the cue.

"Mitsuru-san", he spoke, "Berlin Konstantina is ready to perform."

"Alright."

After the host announces Kasumi's presence, Ren and Sumire returned to the dance floor along with different groups. Yu and Rise now join them as the two Phantom Thieves look at Kasumi, who gives the hired pianist to play a piece that she wrote. She closes her eyes as she begins to sing.

 

In the night where I dreamt of a dream, I closed my eyelids staring at you

If I woke up your warmth, your hand on mine and your voice, too

Would disappear together with my slumber

 

Ren and Sumire slowly follow the flow of the melodramatic sound of the piano keys, waltzing slowly as they embrace. Unbeknownst to each other, Kasumi's lyrics is slowly absorbing them. The lovers look at each other in the eye as they made talk.

"Senpai..."

"Sumi..."

"I... I don't want this to end yet."

"Me too..."

 

Even if we'd never meet again, even if the time that has passed should transform into pain

That pain will guide me towards the stars of the sky that shine above me

 

As the beat of the sound went on to be paired by violins, a bass guitar, and drums, the pacing of the dance changed as they switch from intimate to passionate movements. Ren and Sumire stood out once again from their dance moves as they perfected the shift of steps to synchronize with the music.

 

You put a stop to that sweet, sweet fairy tale kingdom

That is the distorted world where I met you

And you gently closed the mouth that says that it's fine to accept a false happiness

 

Sumire cuddles onto Ren as the tone returns to its somber state. Ren looks at her and asks her a question that she will never regret in answering.

"Sumi... Do you want us to finish the night together?"

"I do... Only if you want."

"You know now when my mind is made up."

"And you know when I decide for it."

"True."

They slowly leaned to give a long, intimate kiss in the middle of the dance before immediately returning to the rhythm. Kasumi, however, begins to tear up.

 

When the morning will come and I will begin to remember

You will be gone

But even if it will be painful, I will go on and walk along the path

That I've chosen for myself towards the stars of the future I awoke into

 

Returning to their hotel room, they begin to make out like there's no tomorrow. No holding back, nothing to hide anymore.

 

Since the sadness felt in waking into a reality

different from yesterday's is  important

I will live on!

 

They land on the bed as they continue kissing passionately and holding on to each other. Ren has lost his top after Sumire accidentally rips it off as he does the same by unzipping her dress. There's no turning back now.

 

Even if we'd never meet again

Even if the time that has passed should transform into pain

That pain will go beyond the tears that flow

 

"Ren..."

"Sumire..."

Red orbs stare perfectly towards the gray orbs.

"I'm selfish for you and for you only..."

Her chest is then exposed and pressed onto Ren's bare torso while her arms wrap around his neck.

"... I'm all yours, so please be gentle."

"Happy Birthday, Sumi."

"I love you...."

They kiss one more time, and begin what will be their most daring performance as a couple.

 

And it will reach our light

That will float eternally in the sky.

 

Kasumi finishes her performance as the crowd gives her a round of applause. She then had a brief hallucination that Akira and Sumire were watching her from the crowd. After bowing down and making her way out, she rushes to the restroom, with Akechi following her.

 

Meanwhile, the couple managed to forget removing their earpieces.... causing someone to accidentally and shamelessly hear ALL of it.

"What the fuck am I hearing?" Shiho can only shudder as she slowly listens to the steamy experience happening.

Chapter Text

March 25, 20XX

Location: Platinum Star Hotel, Ginza
Time: 2157 hours

 

"What the fuck am I hearing?"

Shiho didn't like what she was hearing. She could only hope that they aren't what she was thinking.

"S-S-Senpai..."

"Does it hurt?"

"A bit..."

"I guess I'll be really gentle then."

Turning cherry red to the sounds of impending loss of innocence, Shiho removed her earpiece, grabbed one of the guards' helmet and screamed to her loudest.

Morgana, having been humiliated and disappointed Ann big time, has reverted back to his cat form as he wandered around the hotel to kill time while avoiding staff. He somehow passes by Shiho and notices her making weird noises.

"Hey, Shiho." He interrupted her moment.

"FINALLY! WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN!? MY MIND IS RACING LIKE CRAZY! MY INNOCENCE IS BEING TESTED! MY LIFE IS ON THE LINE!"

"Wait, wait, wait! What are you talking about?"

Knowing Morgana didn't have an earpiece, he gives the earpiece to him and allows him to hear what could be sounds of pleasure. Morgana then shares the same mortified look and screams at the same helmet.

 

While the girl and the cat screamed bloody murder to remove the thought of Joker and Violet making love, Akechi looked at his watch as he waited for Kasumi to recover from her emotional performance. He spots Ann coming his way and immediately went back to his disguise.

"Hey," Ann called him out, "do you know where Ren Amamiya and Sumire Yoshizawa stays? I... I have something to talk about to them."

Without hesistation, he told her that he does not have any idea while using a not-so-Akechi tone. Ann apologized and made her way past him, but took a second look at him as she saw him nowhere in sight. Akechi, after seeing Ann walk past him, he had no choice but to hide in the girls' comfort room.

"Blast that woman for coming here." He snarled until he saw Kasumi slumped by the wall, still crying. He tried to talk to her, but his words couldn't reach her ears. He looks at her with pity as he bent down and gave her a hug. Startled by the sudden touch, Kasumi pauses her crying to see Akechi hugging her.

"If this will make you stop crying like a spoiled child..."

"S-S-Sorry....."

After nearly an hour, Akechi lets go of his embrace and helps her up.

"What was in that song, anyway?"

".... Akira."

Akechi huffed as he didn't need any more detail about it, but as he looked again at Kasumi (still in her disguise albeit her contacts are gone) at her current state...

He can't help but feel some warm feeling about her. As the duo exited the comfort room and made sure no one followed, they return to the bustling ballroom to look for Yu and Rise. However, they seem to be nowhere to be found. After letting Kasumi rest a bit in one of the tables in the dining hall for a while, Akechi immediately contacted Shiho.

"Diamond, come in."

No response.

"Diamond."

Still no response.

"Fuckers.... is everyone suddenly having their own business tonight?"

Before he stormed out of the ballroom, he received a message from Maruki. Rest of the Phantom Thieves and Shadow Operatives are here. Stay cautious, especially when you see Futaba. He hugged a wall as he tries to take a peek in the hallway.

Futaba, Ryuji, Makoto, and the other Shadow Operatives are here. This is bad. He leaves Kasumi behind as he hid in the kitchen, hoping that none of them would discover him.

 

Meanwhile, Yosuke recovers from his sudden food poisoning and attempts to reunite with the team. He notices Kenzo Manahashi entering the hotel with several men in black. Yosuke hid in the mini-infirmary as he observed them one by one. Unfortunately, he felt a cold brass cylinder pressed onto his skull.

"Hiding from us?"

Yosuke can only raise his hands and surrender.

 

Arriving in Mitsuru's suite in the hotel, Yusuke knocks on her door.

"Who is it?" she can be heard from directly behind the door.

"It is I, Yusuke Kitagawa. The young artist who inquired about painting you nude for a cause."

"Right. I was waiting for you all night."

"My apologies, but I seem to lack the train fare to come here."

"Do you have an assistant?"

Yusuke was intrigued at what she meant, but his silence served as an answer for her question.

"I can't have you struggling while you paint. Why not ask one of the staff members around to help you?"

Yusuke complied and began searching for anyone who could help him. For the most part, the housekeepers ignored him for his eccentric nature. Before he could give up, he spots Shiho (still disguised) and runs to her like a puppy who just found its master.

"YOU!"

"Wait, Kitag-"

"You seem to be a younger member of this hotel, but I beg you for your assistance in creating the most beautiful nude painting in the world."

"WHAT?! WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT!?" Shiho kicked Yusuke, who learned from his past smacks and stopped his body from landing to the ground.

"M-My apologies." He bowed down as he gave out a sincere apology. "It was shameful of me to tackle you out of nowhere."

"Don't sweat it. So who the hell are you gonna make a nude painting of?"

"The woman in room 420, Mitsuru Kirijo."

What?! We were rooms away from Mitsuru Kirijo the whole time?!

"Uh, are you sure you want me to assist you in that?" Shiho is trying her very best not to lose her innocence. Avoiding Ren and Sumire's audio of their first time was one thing, but being Yusuke's partner in his nude painting session is another.

"She requires an assistant. Truth be told, I am merely helping my friends learn more about her as I take into art her natural beauty."

I guess there's no other way, huh?

"Alright. I'll accompany you. But first, let me just grab something that was left in Room 411."

"Understood."

Shiho then made her way to the team's default room. She was (un)lucky to have a universal key due to her disguise, but as she opened the door...

She began to sweat bullets as she hoped they are done for the night. As she hoped, Ren and Sumire are now sleeping together under the sheets. Shiho tiptoes her way to the bed to grab her machine gun, but notices Yusuke following her and noticing the sleeping couple. Shiho instantly gestured him to zip his mouth and avoid any noise. After retrieving her machine gun, she slowly made her way back to the door. Seeing Yusuke taking a photograph of them, she decided to take a photo of them as well.

This is for taking away 10% of my innocence. Shiho internally got her revenge.

I have captured the blossoming romance of Joker and Violet in their slumber! Though I do not understand why their clothes are on the floor and the presence of white liquid on the bed. Yusuke thought with total oblivion to what transpired in the room.

After exiting the room and locking it again, Yusuke spoke up and startled the paranoid Shiho.

"I wonder why do you have a machine gun with you."

"Do you know how to alert people first before they notice?"

"I get that impression sometimes. My friend, who we saw in the bed, said that I'm unpredictable at times."

"I don't think he meant it literally." Shiho just shook her head and walks with Yusuke to Mitsuru's room. Knowing her disguise will contradict it, she quickly changes her clothes without Yusuke even looking behind him as she does so. She runs back to him as he notices the change.

"Weren't you-"

"I'm freelance."

An audible huh came out of Yusuke as he knocked on Mitsuru's door.

"Mitsuru-san? I have found an assistant."

"Come in."

Yusuke and Shiho then enter the room as they witness Mitsuru walk around fully naked. Yusuke felt an inner urge trying to unleash while Shiho unconsciously develops a nosebleed as her eyes roll up.

"It seems your assistant is quite a pervert."

"Like hell, I am!"

Mitsuru just chuckled as she passed a tissue. "Explain the nose."

Yusuke agreed. "Yes, there's blood coming out of it."

MOTHERF- Shiho immediately wiped her nose and fixed her posture.

"Shall we begin?" Yusuke prepped his equipment.

"How shall I pose, dear artist?" Mitsuru suddenly asked with a dangerously seductive tone.

"Uh, whichever pose you wish." He replied nervously as he was unprepared with the dominance that exudes in Mitsuru.

Mitsuru went daring and laid on the bed with her left arm serving as a support for her head with her right hand cups her breast. Shiho does some breathing exercises to keep herself from panicking.

Good-bye, innocence. I just wish it was under different circumstances. Shiho felt dead on the inside.

"How long does this usually take?" Shiho asked Yusuke.

"Probably around an hour or two."

"I wouldn't mind that." Mitsuru added.

"Why do you say that?"

"I've had a long, grueling day. I can just sleep like this as you finish." She looked directly at Shiho. "Press the right buttons to wake me up afterwards."

Ren owes me big time.

 

In the dining hall, Futaba called in the others as they discuss about a potential hacker in Ren's team.

"First, we gotta find whatever the hell is preventing my hacking from going through the security feed." Futaba started as she chowed down on a steak.

"You sure there's someone counter-hacking ya? I mean, you're totally Medjed! Just counter-hack the counter-hackers." Ryuji suggested without even thinking of his surroundings.

"You're dumb, you know that?" she retorted.

"Give it a rest, you two!" Makoto chided them. "At any rate, we should wait for Yusuke here. He's probably negotiating with Mitsuru at this time."

"You mean getting the cock-and-ball torture?" Futaba zipped her mouth after Makoto glared at her.

"Sometimes, I'm tempted to ask Boss to unplug your servers to prevent you from acting like that all the time."

Futaba hissed at Makoto as they see Haru approaching them.

"Haru! Where's Ann?"

Haru then explained what happened before they came in the hotel. Ryuji insensitively laughed at the tale until Haru reached the point where Ann couldn't bear herself.

"So she's looking for them?"

"Yes, for closure."

"As much as we want to sympathize for Ann, we still need to know what Ren is up to."

The very instructions of Makoto reminded Ryuji of something he just heard earlier.

"WAIT!"

"What is it, Ryuji?"

"I just remembered what Ren told me when I saw him earlier."

"You saw him and you didn't tell us?!" Makoto is not happy at Ryuji's lack of urgency.

"I just forgot, alright? Take it easy on me."

Makoto huffed and crossed her legs as she demanded for his explanation.

"Okay, so Ren told me that he just arrived in town earlier this morning after what happened with Sumire."

"Are you sure, Ryuji-kun? The Joker we saw on TV kinda looked like him." Haru frowned at what she thought was disappointment in him.

"Hell yeah! I mean, think about it..."

Everyone leaned forward to hear Ryuji's logic.

"Yukari Takeba said something about having two Marukis, then Ren mentioned something about two Manahashis last week. Wouldn't that mean he is unaware of his own doppelganger?"

"That's.... actually a good theory." Makoto thought it through with widened eyes as she continued processing the possibility.

"So we got three people having doppelgangers. Who's next? Sumire has her version?"

"About time I found you guys."

Everyone looks down to see Morgana, who is still sulking onto his fault from earlier.

"Mona! They won't believe me that Ren has a clone!"

"Let them believe what they want to believe." Morgana laid on Haru's feet.

"What's wrong, Mona-chan? Is this still about Ann-chan?"

"Oh, yeah. I heard you and some blonde guy named Teddie got shut down by Ann."

Morgana remained unresponsive as he opted to doze to sleep.

"Aaaand the kitty is asleep."

From the corner against their view, Kasumi just giggled. "Even here, they're the same."

 

An hour and a half has passed, and still no talking from Yusuke, Mitsuru, or Shiho as Yusuke was 70% complete with his artwork.

"So...." Shiho tried to break the ice. "You seem very relaxed in your boldness, Kirijo-san."

"Let's just say I don't have time to relax after tonight." She grimly answered.

"Hmm? What will you be doing tomorrow?" Yusuke inquired as he kept painting.

"I have to go visit the fortress. Apparently, I am unsure who to trust anymore."

"Ah, the pros and cons of being rich and powerful."

Mitsuru gave a slight chuckle before returning to her expressionless form. "That's one way to put it."

"May I ask why?"

Keeping her eyes on Shiho and Yusuke, she began to elaborate. "To tell you the truth, I have a special task force in my grasp that investigates the recent monster activities that occurred in Kyoto, Nayami, Hiroshima, Setsumagi, and, as of recent, Tokyo. I cannot afford using the KACS to deal with them, so let's say this work is... special."

Yusuke hummed while Shiho paid close attention to Mitsuru.

"One day, during the mission in Setsumagi, I was informed by one of my generals that the team betrayed my trust. And because I didn't give any damn about whoever was in Setsumagi that time, I can't even ascertain who the traitors are. According to the general, several documents and vials were stolen..."

As Mitsuru went on to talk more about her current dilemma, the two Phantom Thieves are on both ends of the reaction spectrum: Yusuke began to pity  Mitsuru due to the burden she is holding on to while Shiho remains skeptical of her. After Yusuke puts the finishing touches, Shiho finally sighs in relief while Mitsuru sits up and puts on her night gown.

"It's impossible! I... I managed to finish my art in just one try!" Yusuke spoke in shock and awe. Mitsuru approaches Yusuke and looks at his presentation with impression. Shiho finds it surprising that what Ann told her about Yusuke was not as accurate as she described him.

"I find it impressive, Kitagawa. The shade and lighting are well done, my form looks more wonderful than how I actually looked, and the background is more intriguing to look. C'est magnifique!"

"You speak French, Kirijo-san?"

"I have a habit of using French terms, but I haven't been to France just yet."

"Do you plan on going there soon?"

"Maybe after all of this scandal is over soon."

Yusuke nods and stands up, extending his hand to Mitsuru. "I thank you for giving me the wonderful opportunity to make you my model for this artwork."

Mitsuru shows a soft smile and shakes his hand. "Pleasure is all mine. I wish I have a copy of it to hang on my bedroom wall."

"Of course! I shall bring this back with me, see if my skills are exactly the same as tonight. If so, then I can hand you the perfect copy that is in front of you."

"How much should I pay?"

Silence went past them. Clearly, Yusuke didn't had any idea on financial commissions.

"What do you mean?"

"You mean you paint without getting paid? Unbelievable."

"Is something wrong with that?"

Mitsuru frowned. "You mean nobody acknowledges your skills in the world of art?"

Yusuke gritted his teeth at that truth. "Frankly, yes. Although it gained me a special scholarship, I always feel the emptiness in me as it affects how I present these. Ever since my time with Madarame, I have always been reliant of him in exchange of being raised well. After I have discovered the cruelty that he has foregone in life, I had no choice but to denounce him and search for my talent alone."

Shiho drank a glass of water as Mitsuru looked at him with an apologetic expression.

"I'm sorry for what you've been through.... it seems you and I are alike, in a way."

"Why do you say that?"

Mitsuru grabbed a chair to sit and encouraged Shiho to do the same. "Back when I was a young girl, my father built this corporation with hidden motives of summoning demons from another dimension. For us, we call it the Dark Hour. For my other teammates, it's the TV World. For those Phantom Thieves, it's the Metaverse or something along those lines."

Yusuke remained quiet as he looked at Shiho for a second.

"One day, the summoning became too scientific. And it ended up being tampered and abused with, causing a rip between the two worlds. Several people died, and my father would refuse to acknowledge the family's faults until everything has been finished." Mitsuru lets a few tears flow. "But even after we eliminated several Shadows during the full Moon, it wasn't enough. My father died after we were betrayed, and not long after... one of my friends gave up his life to make sure the power of the other world is limited. Otherwise, things would have been worse than this."

"I see. Even at a young age, you've been aware of this because of the illegal actions your family has been doing. And it feels like your life is always on the line." Yusuke pitied her more after knowing her back story.

"I'm sorry if I have taken much of your time."

"It's alright. Even my appointed assistant here seemed interested to hear."

"Hey, no worries."

Mitsuru walks over to her purse and pulls out 150,000 yen. She gives it to Yusuke, who is bewildered by the generosity she offered.

"I... I can't."

"Please do. I am both your model and customer. I should be grateful."

Shiho nudged Yusuke to take the money, which is he still surprised about. Mitsuru then writes down the address to her next destination for Yusuke to deliver the copy.

"Just show the painting in the cameras and the guards will let you through."

"Understood."

As Shiho and Mitsuru bid farewell to Yusuke (who left ahead), the latter began to talk down to Shiho.

"Not bad hearing my plans now, right?"

"So you knew." Shiho puts the gun's mode at safety.

"The machine gun gave it away. Don't think I forgot about you, Suzui."

"So what do you want?"

"I have no intention of interrogating you. Since you already know my past and my present, you can tell what that means." Mitsuru lays in bed as she fixes her hair.

"So you did order the hit on your own team." Shiho kept her glare at her.

"Manahashi made the call. I can only tell you this: the Sacrificial Lamb Project will be more powerful than ever if Wild Cards are the ones they are absorbing the power from."

"Why trust me?"

"Coz Takeba did after she trusted your other friend."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Was she not the one who requested the Humanizer to have some fun with something?"

Shiho then remembered the little show Morgana and Teddie had earlier.

"I wonder what kind of creature would survive a serum like that.... that was just a prototype."

"You really have no idea on how to not be shady, huh?"

"Nope. It's like a leech latching on to me."

Shiho stands up and walks her way to the door. Mitsuru speaks out one more time.

"By the way, how's Amamiya and Yoshizawa? They left the dance earlier after their kiss."

Shiho began to shake at the memory that she just witnessed not too long ago.

"I, uh, have no idea."

"Very well. I'll see you in two days then."

Shiho exits her room and sighed in relief. She retreats back to Room 411 and decides to improvise by switching the locations of the failsafe weapons without waking the couple up. After she does so, she slumps to a wall and decides to sleep.

 

Akechi arrives outside of the hotel after using the emergency exits and catches his breath. He hears a slightly audible cry of pain as he texts Maruki for backup, receiving an emoji as a response which he will consider as a yes. After Maruki meets up with him, the two began to follow the trail of the sounds. Arriving at a small lockup, they find Yosuke getting beaten to a pulp while having his face torched slightly.

"How sickening." Maruki commented. "What should we do?"

Akechi then transforms into his Black Mask costume, prompting Maruki to rely on him.

"Hereward."

"My prince."

"Call of Chaos. Now."

"As you wish."

Maruki prepares his pocket knife as he watches Yosuke a little more. Akechi begins to cackle maniacally as Maruki steps away from him. The men torturing Yosuke begin to be paranoid and set up defensive positions.

"Oh, how pitiful of you all to think about defending yourself."

Akechi throws down the corpse of their sniper and furiously attacks the men. While the frenzy is happening, Yosuke attempts to heal himself with a Diarahan until he sees Maruki approaching him.

"You the good Maruki this time?"

"I'll take it that you saw my counterpart?"

Yosuke winced enough to let Maruki confirm his hunch and was released from his capture. Akechi removes his helmet to take a breather after the whole place is showered in blood.

"Finally. All that anger has been released."

"You can be scary, you know that?"

"If that's your way of saying thank you, I wouldn't care."

"Don't mind him, sir."

"The name's Yosuke Hanamura, Doc."

"Sure thing, Yosuke."

As the three move their way to the nearby stairwell, Akechi reverted back to his disguise and assists Yosuke to the kitchen.

"I'm certain you're hungry." He looked at him.

"Uh, yeah. I was actually food-poisoned earlier due to my friend's horrible cooking." Yosuke admitted as his stomach growled.

"Don't worry. I'll cook you something good in the meantime." Maruki offered as he began to ask one of the chefs.

Akechi observed Yosuke for a few seconds. American headphones, American sneakers, and American-branded shirt. He managed to deduce one thing.

"You must be the performer known as Shotgun, aren't you?"

"Y-Yeah. Was gonna try my debut earlier until that bastard Teddie gave me the wrong food."

"I see."

A few minutes passed, and Maruki returns with some miso soup for them. Yosuke thanks them both as he began to drink his soup.

"What were they trying to force from you during that torture?" Akechi started talking.

"Well, they were trying to get info off of Ren Amamiya and my bro Yu."

"Why is that?"

"Something about that stupid Sacrificial Lamb crap. Is my face still burned?"

Maruki raises a tray to let Yosuke look. Not good, but not bad either.

"Damnit, my family's gonna kill me."

"We can always say you got kidnapped and fought your kidnappers."

"R-R-Right."

"Did they say anything as to why?"

Yosuke shook his head. He then finds an empty vial under one of the food cabinets and reaches for it. The label reads HUMANIZER - Kirijo Prototype as he read it.

"Damnit, so this is what Ted used."

"What is that?"

"Kirijo project from not too long ago. Ted requested for it so he can't rely on the other world's power to put him into human mode."

"What do you mean, Yosuke?"

The kitchen staff and the trio jumped at the sight of Teddie, who is in bear form. Teddie noticed the staff and removed his bear head to reveal his human head.

"Relax! It's just me."

Hearing audible Phews and Ohs were the relief of the crew as Yosuke kicked Teddie in the groin.

"You bastard! You used the Humanizer and tried to hit on Takamaki!" Yosuke yelled in anger towards Teddie.

"I didn't use the Humanizer thingy! I didn't even know it was ready..." Teddie cried as he clutched onto his groin. "So this is what real pain feels like...."

"So if you didn't use it, who did?"

Akechi smirked and chuckled. "I think I have an idea on who..."

 

March 26, 20XX

Time: 0052 hours

 

After the Phantom Thieves left the dining hall to find Yusuke, Kasumi makes her way to the door. Before she could return to their designated room, she bumps into Ann.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Ann apologized as she helped Kasumi up.

"It's okay. I get bumped at all the time." Kasumi fixed herself and checked if the wig fell off.

"Hey, you're that singer earlier... Berlin Konstantina."

"Yep. That's me."

Ann tightly hugged her. "I honestly loved your song. It felt... personal."

Kasumi returned the hug. "Y-Yeah. It was dedicated to someone I lost not too long ago."

Ann released the hug and frowned. "Oh, I'm sorry for your loss."

"It's okay. I probably deserve it anyway."

"Why say that?"

Ann and Kasumi lean onto the wall and talked.

"Well, I was somewhat a normal girlfriend. Love and hate all over our relationship. Then one day, I just abandoned him when he needed me the most."

Ann sees the sadness in her eyes.

"Then one day, I found him being laid to rest by his killer." Ann covered her gasp as Kasumi decided to conclude her story immediately. "Then shit went down fast."

"I... I don't know what to say."

Kasumi stood up and decided to call it a night. Ann, however, had something to say.

"I wish you talked more about yourself, Millee."

Kasumi froze momentarily as Ann approached her.

"Care to share what you're doing here?"

"Meet me later here. 6 am sharp."

Ann was dumbfounded and clarified. "But I don't even have a room here. Hell, I just want to look for your friend and his girlfriend."

"What do you plan to do with them?"

"I just want to talk to them. Get something off my chest."

Kasumi played around. "Like your big bazookas?"

"Yeah, like my- HEY!"

"Well, you know I'm not who I am now. So why bother talking to Ren?"

"Who gave you that right to guard him from me?" Ann was already unhappy with Kasumi.

"He isn't in the mood to talk to his friends. He just wants a night with his girlfriend on her birthday. Nothing more, nothing less."

"As if you know him any better."

"I damn well do!"

Ann took a step back at Kasumi's sudden anger. She wisely dropped the argument.

"Okay then. Don't make me talk to him. But I WILL get him to talk before he returns home."

"Good luck with that."

The girls go on to stare down at each other as three men approach them.

"Is something the matter?"

"Lovers' argument, boys." Kasumi told them without any reluctance.

"What?" Ann looked silly.

"Well, if that would be the case...."

"By the way, do you happen to know any of these people?"

One of them shows a collage of photos of the following: Ren Amamiya, Sumire Yoshizawa, Takuto Maruki, Goro Akechi, and...

"Shiho?"

"Yes. We have been looking for them since-"

"Since the Nayami incident?" Kasumi took a step forward.

"Yes. Do you know any of them?"

"Yes....." She puts on her sunglasses. "Coz I happen to be their guardian angel."

In a span of only twenty seconds, Kasumi dispatched the men and turned to Ann.

"Get out of here now!"

"Just wh-"

"GO! If ya have any teammates here, get them now and leave."

Kasumi snaps the man's neck to make her point for Ann.

"Fine, but we're not gonna stop until we get answers from you and Ren."

"When the time comes, Panther."

Ann was shocked at Kasumi's use of her code name, but decided to run off and find the others first. As for Kasumi...

"Shit, did I just call her Panther?"

Chapter Text

March 26, 20XX

Location: Platinum Star Hotel
Time: 0345 hours

 

Sumire wakes up from her sleep and blew a few strands of hair off her face. Hours earlier, they have done the most passionate thing they've ever done. Looking under the blanket, she realizes that she and Ren, still snoring, are completely nude.

"Wow..." she muttered, "I guess it really was real."

She surveyed the area to see if there was anything different since they made love. A table which was empty earlier now has a thermos and two cups with powdered coffee next to them. She grabs one of the blankets and slowly moves her way to the table. She notices a small note under the thermos that reads Congrats on moving to the next base. Thanks for traumatizing me. Sumire re-read the note until she got an idea on who wrote the note. She placed a hand on her ear and felt the earpiece still stuck in there.

"Oh, my goodness.... Shiho-senpai...."

Said senpai is actually sleeping by the wall next to the balcony door. She looks for a spare blanket in the cabinet to cover Shiho from the cold air. She hears mumbling from behind her as her beloved boyfriend is suddenly awake.

"Whatcha doing, Sumi?"

She bit her lip for a sec, hoping that Ren would get an idea instead of her talking.

"Sumi?"

She pointed at the kitchenware present on top of the table. Ren rubbed his eyes and stares at Sumire for a quick second. He doesn't realize that Sumire is looking behind her shoulder.

"S-Senpai!"

"Cute butt." He joked, earning him a towel toss from Sumire.

"Not funny." Sadly, she was blushing with mixed reactions, from hearing the word "cute" to being embarrassed about her exposed butt.

Ren notices the dried amount of liquid on the bed. "Well, we got messier than I thought."

"As long as you didn't unload inside me. I don't want Dad to think of it." Ren hummed as he figured out what she meant.

BOOM!

"What the hell?!"

"What's going on?"

Ren and Sumire felt the building rock as an explosion from literally below them occurred. They weren't the only ones to feel it.

Emerging from where she slept, Shiho aimed her gun blindly as she woke up. A series of blushes happen between the both of them.

"S-S-Shiho-senpai!"

"Sumire? WAIT, I-I-I can explain..."

"No! I should be the wu-wu-one to exp-p-p-plain..."

Ren snapped the both of them out instantly. "We can save the apologies later. Sumi, go get yourself washed up first. Shiho, wait for us outside."

"R-Roger."

"Okay, senpai."

Shiho prepares the failsafe guns before going out. She immediately contacts Akechi to inquire what is going on.

"Crow, come in! Crow!"

No response.

"Damnit, Crow! Answer!"

Still none.

Before she could try to contact him again, she gets shot in the shoulder by a soldier.

"What the f-" She responded by opening fire at him. The soldier covers himself with a riot shield until he is close enough to attack Shiho with a machete. She retaliates by sidestepping the attack and whipping out her nightsticks to match his blade. She is eventually overpowered by the soldier after one of the sticks broke. Before he can deliver the final strike, Akechi shoots him in the head just as Sumire and Ren open the door.

"About damn time the three of you came to. I did not expect the three of you to go at it in one night."

"Shut up! I was so damn tired that I entered the room after a few hours of enduring their sounds."

Ren whistled awkwardly while Sumire looked up to avoid Akechi's gaze.

"Tch." He scoffed. "Whatever. Let's hurry now. Maruki is in deep shit, as we speak."

Ren, Shiho, and Sumire felt alarm bells ringing in their head.

"Mitsuru got him?"

"No..." Akechi grimly stated. "Much worse..."

 

Three hours earlier

 

Ann rushes her way to find the other Thieves. Stumbling after a few feet of reaching the stairs, she ditches the shoes and decides to go barefoot.

"Ryuji! Makoto! Haru! Yusuke! Futaba!"

She calls them out once again, but to no avail. As she catches her breath, Ann is suddenly pulled into a room by Yukari as the latter closes the door behind her.

"Yukari!"

"Ssshhh! Keep it down."

"Sorry."

Yukari and Ann then sit down by the bed to talk. Yukari pulls out a few special arrows from under the bed and polishes them as they speak.

"What's going on here?"

"Kenzo Manahashi. His men are in this hotel, looking for Ren and Yu."

"What do you mean by that?"

"He's hunting down Wild Cards. Mitsuru told me that." Her voice went cold as she finished polishing.

"Shit."

"Yep. Shit."

The two girls then peep out the door to see if there were more men coming. As they thought the coast was clear, five men arrive via escalator just as they stepped foot out of the room.

"We found stragglers."

"Take them out."

Yukari didn't hold back as she quickly launched an explosive arrow onto one of them, forcing the other guys to run before detonation. Ann then proceeds to kick the surviving goons and runs with the archer to find the others.

 

As this was happening, Ryuji and Makoto were already beating a few men as the crew bowl through their attackers and rush to a nearby vacant room. Sadly, they have no key card for it.

"Shit! We can't get in!" Ryuji growled as he continues to push the door by force.

"Futaba, is there a way you can try to hack the card scanner?" Makoto pressured the orange-haired girl.

"The jamming device is still active. I can't hack through anything, remember?" She spat.

"Fuck." Makoto slammed her fist to the wall.

As the Thieves thought of ideas to enter the door, they are suddenly surprised when the door is unlocked from the inside.

"Voila!"

"Way to go, Mona-chan!" Haru picked him up and hugged him tightly.

"Ch-Choking!"

"Sorry!"

Yusuke went in first with his painting and lets it rest beyond the others' reach. After Makoto locks the door, Ryuji suddenly jumped off the bed and reminded everyone of one missing fact.

"Holy shit, we forgot Ann!"

"Morgana!"

"On it!"

Morgana jumps to the outside window and traverses his way downward. Meanwhile...

"How much info did you gather, Yusuke?"

"We have another chance to meet two days from now in her fortress."

"A fortress?"

"Yes."

"Y'know, maybe Ren was right about Mitsuru Kirijo being one corrupt bitch."

"If we stop after tonight, Ryuji-kun, it would mean we already lost."

"Y'all wanna go after her directly?"

Makoto and Haru nodded firmly. Futaba gives him a thumbs up while Yusuke just stared at him.

"Fine."

Haru then frowned. "I hope Ann-chan is okay..."

 

Yu and Rise just finished a game of Jenga (where Rise lost a lot of times) when there was knocking on the door. Rise approaches the door and opens it to see three buff men in front of her.

"Can I help you?" Her question is ignored by the men talking to each other.

"Is this her?"

"Yeah. Grab her."

The third man grabs Rise while the other two go for Yu. Avoiding the attacks of the other goon after getting caught from a missed swing, Yu leveraged himself loose and pushes the man off the balcony. Now going one on one with the second man, he narrowly evades the knife before pulling out his sword and impales him before grabbing his gun and shooting Rise's captor dead.

"Yu!" Rise ran up to Yu as she began crying in fear.

"It's okay, Rise. Looks like we're not gonna be sleeping well tonight."

Yu pulls out his phone and contacts Akihiko, who answers it immediately.

"Akihiko-san."

"If you're gonna ask about Manahashi's men, yeah I am aware. Currently kicking ass right now."

From the fifth floor, Akihiko is seen punching the goons dead while sending a few out of the windows.

"You're gonna have to find other backup, if you're looking for help!" He hangs up and punches a thug so hard that he died from the haymaker alone.

"Looks like we're on our own for now, Rise." Yu grabs his sword and guides Rise to the lower floor.

 

Kasumi, who stayed behind to keep the enemies off of Ann, has already reached a twenty-man headcount in her kills. She stops as she hears clapping from behind her.

"Wonderful display of violence, Yoshizawa."

Kasumi pulls Ren's pistol and fires at the source of the voice. The bullet struck the chest, but nothing happened. Not even a drop of blood.

"Herod's Physical resistance makes your guns weak, remember?"

"You diabolical son of a bitch."

"I assume you want to know how I managed to get here?"

"By all means, please tell me." She sarcastically offered her ear.

Manahashi XX laughed as he began to tell the tale. "As soon as you left, our men managed to break through the defenses. Some of your defenders went hardball and tried, but they all failed to kill me."

 

Two weeks ago, March 13

Location: Kirijo Warehouse - Earth XX

An hour after Kasumi traveled to Earth X

 

With nearly every defender dead, Manahashi slowly walks his way to a wounded Yosuke, who attempts to fire a gun at him.

"Get any closer and I'll do this the old-fashioned way!"

Manahashi just grinned as a tentacle pierces through Yosuke's chest, rendering him lifeless.

"You should have left that one to me, Maruki."

"Now that wouldn't be fun now, wouldn't it?" Maruki stepped inside the warehouse as his Guiding Tendrils wither. "We're gonna need their bodies for experimentation later."

"Save it. We got other plans to do."

"You mean Yoshizawa-san?"

"Yes. As long as she still lives, she remains a threat to me." Manahashi then pulls an injured Ken Amada and Zenkichi Hasegawa as he ordered them to rebuild the machine or face death. Ken tries to object, but Zenkichi reluctantly tells him to comply instead.

"You sure she knows what she's doing?" Ken spoke as he picks up the pieces of the bottom half of the transporter.

"Have faith, kid." Zenkichi bluntly told him.

"After I had them fix the machine, I gave them a choice on who to kill and who to spare. It was delightful to see Zenkichi volunteer, but I wouldn't want his daughter to cry. So instead, I gouged out Ken's eyes as I split his skull in half. What joy it was to look at."

 

Present day, March 26

 

Kasumi's grip in the gun tightened as he taunted her more and more.

"I gotta say, it was quite a bold move for your counterpart's twin to escape us with knowledge of our secrets. Would be a shame if something happened to her or her family now." He went to laugh evilly as Kasumi fired the gun again and again until she was close enough to summon Guinivere to attack with Megaton Raid. Unaware of the attack, Manahashi felt the pain and flinched.

"Sucker! You think I didn't know you were switching Personas?" She smugly chuckled at him.

"Grrr... Perceptive one. Babba Yagga!"

Coming out of him is a spiny demon with lifeless eyes and a teethy grin that goes along with long, winged arms and long, scaly legs.

"Demonic Decree!"

Kasumi barely evaded the attack as she was still weak to Curse attacks, but lost her landing and fell as Manahashi approached her with the same attack. After seven more evasions, she begins to tire and gets hit by the same attack this time.

"Ngh! Shit!"

"How does it feel to be in pain once more!? To fail the people you promised to save?! To fail even further the ones you failed to save?!"

Kasumi gritted her teeth and decided to give it all she got, even if she will get beaten again and again. Hit after hit, she stands her ground and gives him a few blows to stagger him from time to time.

 

An hour has passed, and a large crowd has been forced to the ballroom as Manahashi X steps onto the stage.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that you are all interested to hear what I would say." He began pacing back and forth with his icy voice piercing the whole room. "As you all know, there has been recent.... mishaps that have occurred as the hunt for the terrorists have begun. Now here are my conditions: I want to know where the following people are hiding: Ren Amamiya, the boy who shamed my friend Masayoshi Shido; Goro Akechi, his bastard son who betrayed him; Sumire Yoshizawa, the girl who infiltrated Kirijo Corporation and stole valuable information, and Yu Narukami, the traitorous leader of the special task force of the Kirijo Corporation."

As the display of their faces show on the jumbo screen, Manahashi then orders his men to pull out two civilians. A couple in their honeymoon was selected and dragged onto the stage. As this happens...

.... Goro Akechi has rushed onto the security hub with Yosuke, Maruki, and Teddie.

"The moment I saw those guys, they were up to no good." Teddie spoke, trying not to panic.

"Well, we saw a few civilians pulled out and gathered onto the ballroom. Why are we here?" Maruki looked from left and right to ensure no henchmen are on their trail.

"We got the whole place jammed, remember?" Akechi searched for the spot where Shiho placed it earlier.

"And how is this related to the ballroom that would become a slaughterhouse in seconds!?" Yosuke yelled.

"Simple." Akechi finds the jammer and pulls it out as he switches a lot of cables to different slots. "We expose them."

"So you want the massacre to be live on television instead of saving them?"

"This would garner attention to make sure no one from the Kirijo or Manahashi factions would dare oppose us."

"Ted, go contact Yukiko and the others to see if they can save th-"\

Gunfire was heard from the monitor as the screen showed the couple's heads blown off by Manahashi's magnum.

"Shit." Maruki cursed at the sight of it. "Whatever the plan is, we gotta make it fast."

Akechi finally finishes reconnecting the feed and uploads it to the media as live footage.

 

Chie and Yukiko heard the gunfire from below as they rushed to the elevator.

"You think it's Manahashi?" Yukiko inquired.

"It might have been. Narukami was right all along." Chie rambled as they enter the elevator and ready themselves for a fight. The elevator stops as they are joined by Kanji and Naoto.

"Gonna head for the ballroom, too?" Kanji angrily blurted.

"What do you-"

"Sudden live footage showed Manahashi murdered a couple in front of an audience. Kanji and I saw it while we were watching a wrestling match." Naoto explained.

Yukiko and Chie were mortified as they checked the video, which was also being streamed. When the elevator doors opened, in front of them were Kirijo Corporation soldiers.

"What the f-"

"We got Persona users!"

The soldiers turned around and aimed their guns at them.

"Aw, shit. Here we go!" Kanji cracked his knuckles before Naoto throws a flashbang.

 

Junpei, Ken, Fuuka, Koromaru, Aigis, and Labrys were en route to the scene after the footage has been distributed to all networks.

"Holy crap, this guy is intimidating...." Junpei blurted with fear as the car is close to the hotel.

"Aigis, Labrys, we're gonna need you to wait here until our signal. If they see the two of you, they will increase the number of heads to kill to who knows how many." Fuuka gave them a straightforward instruction as both battle droids complied.

"Ready, Koromaru?"

"Woof!"

"Alright, let's kick this motherfucker outta town!" Junpei abruptly halts the car and dashes out for the fight, with Ken and Koromaru joining him.

 

Thirty minutes passed, and Manahashi grew impatient after already killing 18 civilians. He decided to take things up a notch.

"Bring those kids to me." He ordered one of his men to force two young children away from their parents. As the parents cried out for mercy, Manahashi then gives out one last warning.

"If no one will speak out about the people in this screen, these children will be the next to die!"

He raises the magnum on them as the older child covers her brother with her own body.

"On the count of three.... ONE..."

The kids began to cry.

"TWO...."

The adults were afraid to step forward.

"TH- Gah!"

An arrow strikes Manahashi in the shoulder as Yukari and Ann come in to save the day.

"If you want them, you're gonna have to get us first."

Ann immediately changed into her Phantom Thief outfit prior to opening the door. She aims her VZ61 SMG at the soldiers and fires away while Yukari goes close range and attacks them with her bow. The children run back to their parents as Ann engages against Manahashi.

"I didn't know a young slut like you would dare to defy me!" He roared with authority.

"Assholes like you deserve to answer for what you've done!" She uses her whip to yank the gun off of his hand.

"Just go back to sucking dick like how you women should be."

"Go fuck yourself, dipshit!"

Panther and Manahashi engage in hand-to-hand combat, both besting one another. While Manahashi's military expertise outmatches Ann in strength, Ann's body coordination outmatches him in speed. As Yukari assists the civilians to stay outside of the hotel, Junpei and the others arrive to help in escorting them out.

"Who's kicking Manahashi's ass?" Junpei asked Yukari.

"Takamaki has it covered. We should back her up after every civilian is accounted for by me."

"Roger. Ken, Koromaru... go help Ann for a while."

Boy and dog then rush to assist Ann, who cannot summon her Persona due to the fact that Manahashi X is not a Persona-user. Speaking of Manahashi....

 

Kasumi is slammed to the wall as Manahashi XX uses Attila to strike her with Megaton Raid.

"How about a taste of your own medicine, you whore!"

Kasumi begins to limp as she struggles to get back up.

"Guin."

"My queen, you're too weak to handle him already. His persistence is besting us too much."

"Go find any nearby help...."

"But Your Highness-"

"GO."

Guinivere then speeds off to find back up. With her luck, Morgana just so happens to be in the area as he still continues searching for Ann.

"Feline!"

"What the f- Lady Guinivere? What are y-"

"There is no time! Miss Yoshizawa is getting battered to a pulp and requires medical attention!"

Morgana then follows her and reaches right on time to cast a spell on Kasumi.

"SALVATION!"

"What the f-" Manahashi XX just had to lose focus as he gets jabbed by Kasumi's fist.

"Gotcha, you sonuvabitch!" She rushes to Morgana and pats his head. "Thanks, Mona."

"No worries." He looks at Manahashi XX. "This is the guy who killed your team?"

"Yeah."

"Let's make him regret it then."

Kasumi and Morgana summon their Personas as they charge straight to him.

 

Ryuji and Makoto began to fight more soldiers to let some steam off while Haru just scares them off with a fireaxe. Futaba finally reaccesses her hack with much joy while Yusuke watches her.

"HEEEEEEEERE'S 'TABA!" She started typing rapidly as she accesses the cameras and systems.

"Find Ann, Futaba! Morgana's taking too long and I fear that they may have gotten him!" Makoto rushed Futaba as she was beginning to lose her strength.

"How the hell is it that the army is trying to kill us?!" Ryuji's complaining wasn't enough.

Ryuji and Makoto gave up with close quarter combat and went on to steal the guns of their opponents.

"Shotgun for me!"

"I'll take the rifle!"

"Is there something for me to use?"

"Take this rifle, Haru. It isn't much, but you can give 'em hell."

 

Akechi, Yosuke, Teddie, and Maruki arrive in the second floor after using the emergency stairs. With the crowd being escorted by Yukari and Junpei still up, Akechi encouraged Teddie and Yosuke to assist them while he and Maruki search for their teammates.

"You sure? In this chaos, I-"

"Trust us, Hanamura. With your sudden condition, we cannot risk having you as collateral damage."

"But I can still fight!"

"Ted, you can help Yukari and Junpei in this. I'll have to sit this one out instead, like they said."

"We need to go, Akechi."

Splitting up, Akechi and Maruki head for the other way as Yosuke and Junpei notice each other.

"Holy shit, you look like you got barbecued to a crisp." Junpei was shocked at Yosuke's second-degree burn in his face.

"What happened to you?"

"That bastard Manahashi had his men torture me... If it weren't for Ted and Akechi, I'd be a goner."

As soon as they reach the Jacuzzi, Akechi and Maruki are attacked by Mitsuru. Akechi was impressed when Maruki elbows her face to set himself free before she can lock him.

"I never knew you can fight." Akechi smirked.

"Don't underestimate me just because I don't have Azatoth anymore." Maruki smirked back.

Mitsuru spat out blood as she removes her fur coat and tosses her rapier. "Okay then, boys."

Akechi charges at her and begins giving a flurry of kicks while Maruki settled for the punches. Mitsuru somehow manages to survive the double-team attack and splits them both up from ganging on her.

 

Finishing up the fifth floor, Akihiko turns to find Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, and Naoto coming out of the elevator.

"You missed the party." Akihiko bragged.

"We had a bigger party, Sanada-san." Yukiko tried to match his arrogance.

"Are you okay, Master?" Chie looked at him with a worried look.

"I'm fine. How about you guys?"

Naoto answered him. "Well, we're about as good as dead, if this keeps up."

"We need to find Narukami and Kujikawa."

"Yeah. Yu-kun and Rise-chan haven't made contact with us yet."

Yukiko spoke too soon as she saw Yu and Rise emerging out of the emergency exit.

"Hey, guys." He blankly looked at them.

"We, uh, ran into a few guys and stuff." Rise sheepishly smiled.

"As long as the two of you are in good health." Naoto pats their shoulders. "Good idea in using the emergency stairs as well."

Everyone then went to use the stairs cautiously.

 

Akechi and Maruki still outmatch Mitsuru, causing her to wear out and go down on her knee.

"Had enough?"

"Damn you, Goro Akechi..."

"This scuffle looked easier than I thought."

Before Akechi could comment, a man with the same voice as Maruki appears from behind them.

"Don't take advantage of things, Goro Akechi."

"Wha-"

Maruki XX uses the Guiding Tendril to swat Akechi into the water as he slowly approaches Maruki X.

"So this is me in your world? Maybe having things go my way was as bad as expected."

"You dare jest at our ultimate power?"

"That is not ultimate power, Takuto. That is already abusive power and greed running in your blood."

"You've forgotten the true reason why we we do this, haven't you?"

"Forcing other people to be happy will not bring Rumi back!"

Maruki XX summons a tentacle to choke his counterpart.

"Never mention that woman's name again! She is dead to us! FOREVER!"

"Y-Y-You k-k-can't t-tut-tell me s-h-i-t."

He slams him hard to the guard to render him immobile for a short moment as Akechi attempts to shoot him. The attack backfires as Maruki XX sends the bullets back to Akechi, hitting him the torso as the water turned red. Maruki XX picks up Maruki X and commands Mitsuru to stand up.

"We're running late. We have what we need for now, since they will come to us instead."

Mitsuru looks at Akechi's floating body as she walks away.

 

Kicking Ann towards Koromaru, Manahashi is left to deal with Ken after breaking the lad's spear.

"I'm sorry, did I break your fishing hook?"

"Screw you."

Manahashi X receives a message from Mitsuru as he slams his knee onto Ken's gut.

"Manahashi, we have their Maruki. Pull out now! Let them come to us."

Manahashi then looks at his opponents and laughed as he activates a C4 explosive and throws it to their area.

"Good luck in 10 seconds." He made an evil laugh as he locked the door from the outside.

"Shit! It won't budge!"

"Woof!"

"Panther, unload your gun or something!"

Ann uses her SMG to shoot the knob, then the hinges as they escape the explosion in the nick of time.

 

Present time, 0410 hours

 

"His counterpart got him?" Sumire was surprised after Akechi explained what happened to Maruki.

"Yes. With how strong he struck him to the ground, the other Maruki would have killed our Maruki had he not have a Persona experience."

"We got our guns now, so what should we do?" Ren spoke.

The power shuts down, locking the crew in the elevator. Ren and Akechi improvised by using the elevator shaft to travel to the first floor.

"Never would I thought that stuff like this would happen to me in life." Shiho ackowledged their actions as a weird experience.

After prying the first floor doors open, they run to see that Yu and Mitsuru are face to face with each other. Sensing a battle that will happen, Ren advises everyone to hide rather than engage.

"This is gonna be ugly, from the way I see it...." Ren spoke as he can only witness what will happen between the Shadow Operatives.

Chapter Text

March 26, 20XX

Location: Platinum Star Hotel
Time: 0355 hours

 

Arriving in the ground floor at last, Yu and the group make their way to the main lobby where an argument with familiar voices can be heard from nearby.

"You can't be fucking serious!"

"I trusted you, Takeba!"

"Trust me as a friend, not a fucking accomplice!"

They arrive to see Mitsuru holding an unconscious Maruki hostage while Manahashi aims his gun at Yukari, Junpei, Teddie, and Yosuke.

"Mitsuru-san, we can't just turn our backs against each other."

"I'd say the same for you, Hanamura!"

Yu was the first to intervene. "What's going on here?"

Mitsuru looked at Naoto, who then pointed her gun at Yu.

"H-Hey, Naoto!"

"Naoto, what are you doing?" Yu calmly but coldly addressed Naoto.

"I'm sorry, Yu, but this is for the sake of Japan."

Akihiko butts in as he aims a shotgun at Naoto.

"Sake of Japan, huh? Of course, Mitsuru will tell you that bullshit."

"Akihiko, what the hell are you doing?"

Akihiko switched targets and aimed at Manahashi. "Tell your new boyfriend first to drop his gun."

"Yu, tell Sanada-san to drop his gun."

"Not if you drop yours first, Naoto."

"Maybe we shall all drop our weapons once Miss Arrow Cunt here drops hers first."

"Why not I shove one arrow down your throat before I stick another up your ass?"

Fuuka, Aigis, and Labrys arrive in the scene and witness the stand-off. Mitsuru takes the advantage and reaches for a remote control that overrides Aigis' and Labrys' A.I.

"M-M-Mitsuru-s-s-san...."

"W-W-What the f- H-H-H-Hey!"

Both battle droids are now devoid of emotion and now respond to Mitsuru's command. The redhead then commands them to threaten the people across her with their weapons.

"What the hell did you do?" Junpei was both shocked and angry.

Manahashi took no chances and shot Yukari in the leg whereas Yu subdues Naoto and fires at Manahashi in return.

"I don't what's on your mind right now, Mitsuru, but now is the time to reveal whatever you're fucking planning!" Yu demanded as he aimed the revolver on Naoto's head while he locks her arm.

"Don't force us to incapacitate you, Narukami."

"Or what?"

Manahashi fires at something that was about to lunge at him.

"KOROMARU!"

Ken rushes out of his ambush spot to tend to Koromaru, but Manahashi aims his gun at the teen as everyone stares at the bleeding Inu.

"You bastard!" Kanji gritted his teeth.

"You fire one more bullet, and it's gonna be good-bye to your plans!"

Mitsuru gives a tiny slit to Maruki's neck, waking up.

"Ack, motherfucker!"

"Quiet!" Mitsuru threatened him further.

"You think this will end well for all of you? Just do us one goddamn favor."

Chie answered on behalf of everyone. "What is it, you two-faced murderer?"

"Surrender Yu Narukami, and we will spare all of you."

Naoto regains her strength and strikes Narukami in the ribs before she retreats to Mitsuru's side.

"Damnit, Naoto!" Kanji yelled at her with boiling anger.

"I'm sorry, but what they're demanding is true."

"Give us a damn reason we should obey your stupid command." Yukiko hissed as she made her way to Koromaru and Ken.

"Yamagishi." Mitsuru's cold command was enough for her to reveal the reason.

"For Project Sacrificial Lamb to become fully functional, we need the power of Persona users to seal the barrier between the Shadow world and this world. But because there were modifications that should accommodate Project Arcadia, the requirement is now two Wild Cards to fully charge the machine."

Yu felt Rise hold tightly in his arm as everyone tensed up.

"Are you trying to say we should let Yu die just to save the world? That's fucked up!" Rise objected.

"I'm sorry, Rise-chan. I wish-"

Mitsuru point the tip of her rapier to Fuuka's throat. "Not another word from you."

"Akihiko-san, is this..." Yukiko trailed as the man in question nodded affirmatively.

"This wasn't supposed to be a fully operational project, but because Manahashi forced Mitsuru (Convinced, you dumb sonuvabitch.) to make it work, that's when shit began."

"So all those attacks... Kyoto, Nayami, Hiroshima, and the TV station..."

"Were all from the Lamb trying to work."

Mitsuru grew impatient and began to use blackmail to form her alliances.

"Narukami, what would happen if your refusal was the cause of Dojima-san and Nanako's deaths?"

Yu glared at her and clenched his fist.

"Hanamura, do you really want to bear witness to your father burning inside Junes?"

"You wouldn't fucking dare!" Yosuke's blood began to boil.

"Satonaka, your family and your boyfriend aren't exactly gonna feel happy when we tell them you allowed their demise as they are executed."

"Keep them out of this!" Chie gritted her teeth harder than ever.

"Amagi, your family and friends in the Inn.... Wouldn't it hurt if you let them perish in the confines of the very establishment you own?"

Yukiko kept quiet and looked down.

"Tatsumi, your mother is already feeling ill as we speak. Do you want her to die because of us or the Shadows? Or will you let her pass in peace?"

"Get Ma outta this, Mitsuru!" Kanji was shaking, and immediately he dropped his anger.

"Kujikawa, your career will be over if you wish to pursue against us. You will never see the light of day the moment you have cuffs in your hands."

"Better that than surrendering my boyfriend for your illegal horseshit!" Rise snarled at Mitsuru.

"Iori, your little league team won't last another week as long as the Shadows exist. Refuse, and my men will do the job faster."

Junpei shook despite his anger, and hung his head as he thought through with the dilemma.

"Amada, we can-"

"Don't even try to fucking talk to me, Kirijo." Ken's anger gave him a murderous aura.

Teddie checked on Koromaru and casted a small Dia spell on him. He sniffed around and detected Ren and his team hiding nearby.

"Sensei."

"Teddie."

"I'll bring Koromaru to safety first."

"Go for it."

Teddie carries Koromaru and takes him to Ren. As the tension in the air grew, everyone was now on edge. That was until...

"Y-Yukiko?" Chie stammered as Yukiko walks towards Mitsuru.

"I'm sorry, Chie, but I'm not gonna live like nothing happened if I allowed my family to die."

Kanji was next.

"Kanji-kun!"

"I can't afford to let Ma die because of what I've done. Not gonna let that happen."

Junpei followed suit.

"As expected from you, Stupei."

"Like you know anything, better."

Ken coldly addressed Mitsuru. "What's wrong? No blackmail for Sanada-san and Takeba-san?"

Mitsuru shook her head. "Pointless to talk to stubborn chaff."

"Look who's talking." Yukari scoffed.

Manahashi aimed his gun at Yu again.

"You're really not gonna surrender?"

"Over my dead body." Yu readied his sword as he notices Zenkichi above them.

"Very well." Before he could fire...

BANG!

Mitsuru and Manahashi were both shot, forcing Maruki to run towards Yu's group. Zenkichi drops down to Yu's side.

"Nice to see you again, you son of a bitch." Zenkichi aimed his revolvers on Manahashi.

"Long time no see." Manahashi retorted blankly.

"Nice to see you, Hasegawa-san."

"You too, Narukami."

Another stand-off happens as Maruki makes his way to Ren.

"Hasegawa. Seems like you chose the wrong team to survive this ordeal with." Mitsuru spoke with anger.

"I dunno... Maybe I picked the right team. Considering you murdered Kurosawa and Adachi to cover up your track record regarding Kyoto last week."

"You murdered Kurosawa!?" Akihiko growled.

"Adachi is dead because of you and that horseshit project of yours. He... He saved my ass and a few others by sacrificing himself."

Team Narukami then stayed quiet as they process the information. Rise asked him cautiously.

"Was it out of care or out of boredom?"

"A bit of both, I think. He had a death wish, after all."

The stand-off continues.

 

Meanwhile, Teddie reaches Ren's hiding spot with Koromaru in his arms. Without any second thought, Sumire grabs hold of Koromaru.

"Poor doggie." Shiho comforted Koromaru as Sumire casted another Dia spell.

"Bear, we need some cover the moment we get out of our spot." Akechi coldly requested.

"No need. Shiho, grab your gun and keep it at them. Sumire, hold onto Koromaru." Ren gave out a better idea.

Maruki finally joins them. "Damnit, these people are taking this personally."

"You okay, Doc?" He receives a thumbs-up.

"Bear, grab hold of Maruki for now. Joker, you and Diamond are capable of combat alongside me."

"But what about Angel?" Sumire shot up and remembered Kasumi.

"We lost contact with her for some reason. She'll come back to us, Violet."

"Alright. Eyes on them. The moment they pull the trigger, it's chaos."

Ren and crew slip out and keep their guns aimed at Team Mitsuru. Manahashi hesitated to even fire a bullet, especially when looking at Shiho's machine gun. As they enter Maruki's taxi, the Thieves escape without even having to fight again. Ren takes over the driving as Teddie and Sumire watch Koromaru and Maruki as Shiho rode shotgun and Akechi in the back.

 

"I forgot to tell you about that." Mitsuru facepalmed.

"What's wrong? Got cold feet?" Akihiko taunted.

"You know, Mitsuru, I noticed one thing as we got older." Yukari began talking. "You cared more about the company than us. We're suddenly your special task force, yet you don't bother to join us in better leisure time. What happened to you?"

"Don't act like you know what's good and what's bad, Takeba."

"And you know? Giving up your friends just to save your own ass from giving away the corporation for corrupt you have become?"

"ONE MORE WORD FROM YOU AND YOU WILL DIE, SANADA!"

Yu marched forward as they begin to fight. Mitsuru does the same as the battle begins while Manahashi retreats since this is, according to him, a power-packed fight.

 

Yu vs. Mitsuru

Chie vs. Yukiko

Yosuke vs. Labrys

Yukari vs. Junpei

Akihiko vs. Aigis

Ken vs. Kanji

Zenkichi vs. Naoto

 

Swords clashed as Yu tries his best to knock Mitsuru off.

"After everything we've been through..."

CLANG!

"... and the hardships we endured together..."

CLANG!

"... you'd rather satisfy yourself than what others need?"

CLANG!

"As if..."

CLANG!

".... you know how bad it hurts...."

CLANG!

".... to bear the burden of the world!"

Mitsuru slashes Yu in the torso while he slashes harder on Mitsuru's leg. Yu then pretends to rev up his sword with the handle as he and Mitsuru clash one more time.

 

Kung fu and tae kwon do clash between the two best friends.

"I can't believe you, Chie! You'd give up your loved ones just to make things harder for all of us!?"

"I can't believe you actually learned tae kwon do..."

Chie receives a kick to the face while Yukiko gets a roundhouse to the head. Both girls flinch momentarily before they resume fighting.

"Gonna have to do better than that, Yukiko."

"You're ticking me off, Chie."

Both girls strike one more time to see who is left standing.

 

Yosuke narrowly dodges Labrys' huge ax as he runs towards the mini-infirmary.

"Labrys, snap out of it!"

"Stand still, Yosuke Hanamura. Your resistance against the Kirijo Corp will end well soon."

"I don't see how that will end well for me!"

Labrys gives out a sinister, monotonous laugh as she kept swinging. Yosuke crashes onto a medicine cabinet and is staggered until Labrys could get close to him.

"Time for your medicine, Sir." Labrys' voice adjusts to that of a seductive nurse.

"Damnit, why that voice out of all generated voices installed in you?" He slides under her as she raises the ax and makes a run for the door. Labrys follows him but is smacked by a fire extinguisher.

"Suck on that!" He sprays at her with the extinguisher and drops it on her head. He instantly runs away to the emergency stairs after she activates Chaos Mode, which is reminiscent of her Shadow self.

 

Yukari and Junpei use their weapons to smack each other. Although Junpei's baseball bat is harder than Yukari's bow, her agility provides her enough speed to make sure the bow doesn't break.

"What's wrong, Yuka-tan? Getting the ol' wear-and-tear?" Junpei rubbed his insult on her face.

"Nope! Still wondering how you can fight despite smelling like alcohol!" Yukari kept her distance.

"Hey, it wasn't my fault, alright? Some reporter chick dragged me to some bar with her cross-dressing friend!"

"Ew! I didn't know that was your kind of thing!"

"Damnit, Yuka-"

Yukari used enough distraction to send Junpei flying with her bow. He grimaces as he recovers from the hit.

"You know, that was unfair."

 

Akihiko does his best to avoid Aigis' strikes, as his bare fists alone cannot penetrate through her tough armor.

"Aigis! Wake up! This isn't you!"

"Silencing Akihiko Sanada is my only task commanded by Mitsuru Kirijo."

"Damnit, had I known Mitsuru would use you and Labrys in cases like this..."

"Activating Orgia Mode!"

Aigis then unlocks her ultimate power as she charges up for her attacks. Akihiko can only sidestep and pray that the metal will not land on him at all.

"Damnit, it could be worse...."

 

Ken and Kanji punch each other. Without Koromaru or his spear, this is technically the first time Ken will go head to head with just pure muscle.

"Stay still, damnit!" Kanji tries to land a punch on Ken.

"Nope! Not after you just sided with Mitsuru-san!" Ken hastily avoided every blow.

"How would you like it if your mom is dying and you let her die because of the Shadows?!"

What Kanji didn't realize is that he struck a nerve off of Ken, whose mother was already dead due to a past ally. In a flash, Ken staggers Kanji with an uppercut and begin pounding him to near death.

"U-U-Uncle! I give! I give!"

 

Zenkichi and Naoto turned the conference hall of the ground floor into a shooting range.

"Smartest mind, but slowest hand."

"Sharpest shots, but loudest mouth."

The two exchange hostilities as the fire off their own bullets to deflect the bullets of the other.

"Nice try on counterattacking my bullets."

"Wasn't even aiming for the bullets."

"You may be limping your ass on Kirijo-san, but I'm a member of the National Security Force. And from the looks of it, you're now a national security threat."

Naoto reloads her revolver. "Let's see who gets to hit who first!"

The sharpshooters fire at each other once again.

 

Yu pins down Mitsuru on the table as he tries to force her to drop her sword.

"Under different circumstances, Kujikawa wouldn't like what we're doing now."

"If that's your way of catching me off-guard for a surprise attack, I'm not gonna fall for it."

Mitsuru waited until she has a clear shot of Yu's head and headbutts him off of her. She then feels the pain of a headbutt.

"Was this suppose to hurt?"

"You can't even tell real pain until it hits you." He mocked her, seemingly unfazed.

"You did not just switch your Persona."

"Whatcha gonna do? Execute me?"

Mitsuru shakes off the feeling and thrusts onto Yu.

 

Spitting out blood, Chie grins at Yukiko's anger.

"All that for a drop of blood? Come on!"

"HI-YAH!"

"WOO-TAH!"

Both begin to throw at each other a flurry of punches and kicks, but Yukiko uses this as an advantage to grab a fan and strike it at Chie. Chie successfully blocked her attack and headbutts her.

"Ow, Yukiko! Your head is as hard as a rock!"

"My head's a rock? Yours is like a wrecking ball..."

Both took the time to recover before fighting once again.

 

Yosuke leads Labrys to the Jacuzzi as he tried to lure her into the water.

"Come right here! The water is fine like old English wine!" He mocked her.

Labrys immediately activated her waterproof armor, much to Yosuke's chagrin.

"Aw, fuck! Seriously?"

"Come here, Yosuke-kun!"

"Will ya quit with the nurse voice already!?" He kicks her in the face before escaping her grasp by the pool. Using one of the torch props, Yosuke swings it around like a staff only for Labrys to cut it in half.

"Shit!" He went running again.

 

Junpei manages to knock Yukari with his bat. However, Junpei panicked the moment he saw blood spilling out of her head.

"Oh, shit! Shitshitshit! Nononononono, what have I done?"

He rushes to Yukari, who smashes his head with a vase.

"You idiot! If you wanna knock me unconscious, don't make me land in glass!"

"I ALMOST THOUGHT YOU DIED THERE!"

Yukari launches an arrow at Junpei, who catches the arrow in mid-air. Much to the two's surprise, that is.

"Holy shit, I caught Yuka-tan's arrow!"

"Holy shit, did I just use a flash arrow?"

"Huh?"

The arrow explodes with a blinding light, causing Junpei to be blinded temporarily while Yukari punts him. Unaware of his arm's location, Yukari's pants were suddenly tugged by the unconscious Junpei, revealing a Buchimaru-themed panty.

"Even after I kick your ass, you're still a perv!"

"I see Buchimaru for some reason.... Ugh."

 

Akihiko runs up the escalator as he avoids Aigis' Orgia Mode. Hoping to outlast her until her overheating process, he rushes onto the destroyed dining hall and slams a chair onto Aigis. Detecting the damage, Aigis forces Orgia Mode to level up and make her more dangerous.

"Damnit, Akihiko, that was a bad move." He talked to himself.

Now he has to face Aigis' newly-spawned arm turrets.

"Yep! Bad move, alright!" He runs to the kitchen.

 

Ken continues to pummel Kanji as he tries to crawl his way out of his rage.

"H-Hey! I said I give up, alright!?"

"Murderer! Murderer! MURDERER!"

"I think I brought back some bad memories onto him."

Kanji finally spots a broken plank nearby to put the fight back into his favor. He swiftly kicks Ken before he can strike again and sprints towards the plank just to swing it onto Ken at the last second.

"Do you know how much pain you gave me with your damn punches and kicks!?" Kanji kicked Ken, who didn't respond.

"Oh, shit. Uh, it wasn't me, alright?" He picks up a random cap and placed it on Ken's unconscious face.

 

Firing their last bullets, Zenkichi and Naoto end up in a draw.

"Impressive persistence." Naoto panted.

"Oh, that isn't all of it...." Zenkichi growled as he withdrew two short-bladed swords.

"You have got to be kidding me." Naoto groaned as she picks up a nightstick to challenge his swords.

The two then clash their melee weapons as they cheat their way to win by using their legs to deal extra damage.

 

Rise and Fuuka can only hide under the reception table and hope they don't struck. Fuuka sees this as a chance to snitch on Mitsuru and passes to Rise a scroll.

"Read it when you're safe."

Fuuka then forces the fights to end by faking an urgent retreat order.

"Mitsuru-san, Manahashi has ordered us to withdraw!"

"In the middle of a fight, Yamagishi!"

"He said we have no time for them now and we must focus on luring them to the fortress!"

Rise looked at Fuuka with confusion, but figured out what she meant.

"Good luck, Rise-chan." She whispered to her with luck as she runs out of the lobby. Right on cue, police arrive and attempt to arrest Team Mitsuru before getting massacred by Aigis and Labrys.

 

Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Yukari, Akihiko, Ken, and Zenkichi reconvene with Rise, who is being interrogated by the police. Lucky for them, Rise's acting and reputation - matched with Yukari's - gave them the benefit of the doubt and had the police on their side. Stepping out of one of the cars was someone whom Akihiko wished would never see again.

"I'm surprised that an actress and an idol were capable of fighting off Mitsuru Kirijo." The woman complimented Yukari and Rise. "Sae Niijima, at your service."

Rise, being the snoop that she sometimes is, recognizes the name and looks at Akihiko.

"Oh, Akihikooooo! Look who's here!!"

"Shut it, Rise!" Akihiko hissed, causing Sae to casually look at him.

"I'm glad I see a familiar face."

"Yeah, uh, hi."

Yukari began to tease Akihiko further while Zenkichi filled Sae in with the sudden events.

"I didn't know you had the hots for Makoto's big sister!"

"Since when were you close with the younger sister?"

"Since I heard from Junpei about how she whooped all your asses in Hiroshima."

"Sh-Shut up."

Sae walks up to Akihiko and looks at him seriously this time.

"You seemed busy."

"I could say the same to you." His expression changed. "I'm sorry about your father, by the way."

Sae hummed and shrugged. "It's fine. I've had help to keep me calm nowadays."

"You're still seeing that basketball jock?"

Sae then played along to Akihiko's curiosity, something she missed for a long time. "Why do you ask?"

"N-Nothing. Just asking."

"You wanna pick up right where we left off from our junior year?"

Akihiko whipped his head in shock as he saw Yosuke, Chie, Rise, Yukari, and Ken holding in their laughter.

"You can go with her now, if you want. Make up for lost time." Yu spoke in a deadpan tone.

"How the hell are you calm about this!?"

Zenkichi chuckles as he spoke to Sae.

"You seem knowledgable about Shadows."

"I could say the same to, Kyoto's Outlaw."

"I'll explain that some other time. Maybe-"

"A coffee in LeBlanc?"

"With the mouth-watering curry?"

Their smiles made Akihiko a bit sick.

"Come on, already!"

"Easy, Sanada..." Zenkichi pats his shoulder. "She's all yours later."

"Not what I- Forget it."

Sae pulls out her phone and contacts Makoto, who instead emerge from one of the elevators along with the others.

"Makoto!"

"Sis? W-What are you..."

"I thought you were at home..."

"Sorry. Futaba insisted on coming here for the buffet."

Said girl was offended and defended herself. "LIES!"

Ryuji went along with it. "Yeah. She wanted to try all-American meat."

"YOU KEEP OUT OF THIS!"

Yusuke pinned the last nail. "So you dare deny that you rebelled against Sakura-san for not providing you enough food in both LeBlanc and your home?"

"AW, SHUT IT INARI!"

Sae shook her with a smile. "Never change, kids."

Yu walks up to them. "What happened to you? You all look like hammered shit."

Makoto, looking at her team, decides to hold her energy a little more as she explains what happened.

Chapter Text

March 26, 20XX

Location: Platinum Star Hotel
Time: 0430 hours

 

"What the hell happened?"

Kasumi woke up with a splitting headache and a torn dress. She looks down to see the dress her 'father' bought as already been to thigh as her legs were bare enough for anyone to try peeping under the skirt. She then checks if she was exposed on top but is luck to only have tears by the waist and rib areas.

"Any more ripping and I would've been naked."

She surveys the area to find the place in ruins. She cursed under her breath as she remembered what happened.

"Fucking Manahashi....." She looks around for Morgana as she stumbles upon a few dead bodies, from soldiers to civilians. She makes her way back to Room 411 to change her clothes. Replacing her tattered dress is Sumire's old gym clothes, which somehow managed to fit her. As she was about to begin looking for the cat, said cat just happened to be wandering around Room 420.

"Morgana!"

"There you are. You should take a look at this." Morgana spoke in a dead-serious tone as he limped back into the room.

Kasumi noticed his limp. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Kinda sucks when you have to fight in cat mode instead of giant-headed cat mode." Although he was trying to say something to shrug the hurt off, he low-key accepted the fact that he lost the battle.

As the two began rummaging around Mitsuru's stuff, they notice from the window that Yosuke is running for his life as he escaped from Labrys in the Jacuzzi. Ignoring what is happening, they discover a file which has labels on them. The file was confidential, obviously, but they didn't to give a shit and looked at its contents. Kasumi's face went into despair as she realized that the plan is coming close to replicating the same one in her world.

"Holy shit," she murmured in fear, "now they're planning on using Narukami and Ren as their energy banks for the Sacrificial Lamb."

Morgana examined every page and began to speak as he read. "This is no doubt the same Sacrificial Lamb project Sumire must have overheard. But with the plans changed already into specifics, this is becoming more of-"

"The same way everyone in my world began to die." Kasumi finished it, with Morgana trying to cheer her up.

"Hey, we'll finish your mission and recapture our glory on this one. No one is going to die."

Kasumi remained quiet as her eyes began to twitch. Morgana sighed and claws her leg back to reality.

"Ow! Morgana!"

"Wait, Morgana?"

Fuck.

"Where did that sound come from?"

This is bad. Makoto's Phantom Thieves are here. She tries to flee to the nearest elevator when Ann catches her with her whip the moment she turned from the corner.

"Sorry, Millee. It's time for us to talk." Ann, obviously exhausted and in pain, tightened the whip. Unbeknownst to her, Kasumi was already cutting off the whip though she didn't expect it to be thick.

Makoto, Ryuji, Haru, Futaba, and Yusuke then arrive at Room 420. Morgana took the advantage and hid under the bed as Ann brought Kasumi into the room.

"Guess who I found."

Haru covered her gasp. "Ann-chan! Why do you have Berlin-san?"

"She's not Berlin Konstantina. This is our dear friend Millee who tried to pose as a singer."

Makoto approached Kasumi and gave her a mean left hook. Kasumi spits the blood on Ryuji's shirt as she decided to taunt Makoto more.

"My tooth didn't fall off. Care to try harder?"

Makoto gave her two more hooks before they tie her to one of the chairs. Yusuke surveys the place where he mastered his skills and inquires Kasumi.

"Miss Strucker, do you happen to notice where Mitsuru Kirijo went?"

"What am I, the information center?" She retorted with a grin before Makoto jabs her stomach.

"What are you doing here? What is your motive with Ren in this party?" Futaba tried to threaten her with a spray can, but Kasumi called her bluff and dared her to spray it. As expected by the former gymnast, nothing came out of the spray.

"Why would you want to know about Ren?"

"Coz I do." Ann stepped forward in anger as she went on. "We all do. For fuck's sake, we're his goddamn teammates! Then one day he decides to replace us with Sumire and you? What's next, Morgana's ugly form is back?"

Morgana held his tongue despite hearing the backlash from Ann.

"Wait a sec." Ryuji interrupted them. "Didn't you say Ren and Sumire were here? Which room are they?"

"I believe they were in Room 411. I caught a photo of them last night in their sleep." Yusuke responded as he showed Ryuji the photo.

"Dude, why would ya e-" Ryuji's initial disgust turned into a rowdy excitement. "HOLY CRAP! I knew it!"

"What's wrong, Ryuji-kun?" Haru walked towards them and took a peek before looking away with a blush on her face. "O-Oh, my..... I, uh, did not e-expect that."

Futaba went over and snatched Yusuke's phone. "Oh, ho ho! This will be wonderful blackmail material for sure! Now he's gonna spill it!"

Haru blushed further at Futaba's comments as Makoto was the next to look at it.

"The.. the... the hell!? Why am I feeling embarrassed by this?!" Makoto felt a touch of pink on her face as she shakes off the sight. "That is something I shouldn't have been seeing!"

Ann was the last and opened her mouth wide. But her comment was so soft that only Kasumi can hear the words. "The whole bed is so messy.... It would have been messier if we were the couple."

Kasumi used that to rile her up. "Hmm? What's that? You would be messier if you and him were the ones having fun in bed like bunnies?" Of course, she earned a slap to the face.

"Ann, now is not the time to build up new fantasies!" Makoto scolded her a bit. Ann wanted to retaliate, but opted not to as they have bigger priorities.

The group hears gunfire from below as they try to stay focused on Kasumi. Haru goes outside and grabs a fireaxe to make the threats more serious.

"Haru!"

"You can't just bring that out of nowhere!"

"We already have guns! What happened to the rifle Makoto gave ya?!"

"I kinda broke it to pieces when I ran out of ammo, so I shoved the broken pieces onto the soldiers as they begged for mercy."

Kasumi broke her laughter as the Thieves were convincing Haru to not go overboard with the interrogation.

"You guys are quite a natural bunch! Hahaha! Oh, boy... I can't believe that you're being scared of your teammates's demeanor after you all tried to go hardball on me."

Haru swung the ax and destroyed a portion of the bed near her. Kasumi still kept her smile as she is now turning the tables of the confrontation.

"Such power! Do you lift weights everyday, Noir?"

Her smile immediately faded after using the codename by accident. Damnit, I hate myself.

"How did you know my codename was Noir?" Haru was surprised that a woman who pretended to be blind was smart enough to figure her codename. (Well, technically... Haru is still Noir in her world.)

"Damnit, I've messed up now." She muttered under her breath as Makoto pulled her head up.

"If you don't answer our questions one more time, you're gonna be feeling pain when Yusuke will bash your knees with the fucking walking stick you left behind!"

Speaking of walking sticks...

"My apologies, but i'm afraid I left the stick back at the studio. I can return with it after I leave my artwork there."

Facepalms surrounded the aloof boy as Kasumi chuckled in amusement.

"Okay, okay. I'll give you your answers if you spare Kitagawa-kun here."

Makoto lets go of her hair and sits across her. "Now talk."

Kasumi used her acting once again in an effort to fool them once again. "I truly am Millee Strucker, and I am German-Japanese. But I grew up entirely in Berlin, hence my alias in this mission. I'm here on a protection mission towards Ren Amamiya, who was formerly known as the Phantom Thief Joker. While giving him the security he needed, I stumbled upon research from the Kirijo Corporation regarding a deadly project called Sacrificial Lamb."

Although she wanted to keep that part as a secret, she considered using that option instead to try to scare them off.

"Now this project is a danger to Ren and his crew. He only told me that Sumire Yoshizawa is his closest crew member (Dude, ouch.) and his obvious lover. Never would I thought that his team was made up of actual barbarians. (Don't piss me off, woman.) Regardless, this project is a doomsday device."

Futaba's interested have reached a peak and loosens her hostility. "Doomsday device? We're listening."

"The project is a Persona user killer. Once they kill the user, they only have a 24-hour window to bring the corpse into the device to extract his or her energy and power that is still stored within them."

Multiple reactions flew across the room: Ryuji had his shockingly mad expression, Ann was more on the shock-only expression, Yusuke's face gave off an aggressive one, Makoto's anger dissipated and became a face of intrigue, Haru's was more of a mortifying expression, and Futaba just started hacking away in her laptop.

"Navi, I'm thinking you're looking up the Kirijo database again?"

Futaba stopped typing and looked up to Kasumi. "Navi? The name's Oracle here, lady!"

"Right."

Futaba manages to hack and confirms what Kasumi said was true. Though when she tried searching up Kasumi's database...

"Millee Strucker. Non-existent."

"DAMNIT, THEY KICKED ME OUT ALREADY!?" Kasumi feigned her anger. "I TOLD THEM TO GIVE ME MORE TIME."

Ann, although a bad actress herself, switches with Makoto and tries her way to interrogate after seeing through her act. Based on her previous encounters with Kasumi, she is torn between holding a grudge and showing sympathy towards her.

"I saw a side of you last night when no one else couldn't. I can tell you're hiding something, but I'm not sure if you're doing this for Ren or for someone else." She placed her hand on her shoulder. "Please.... we need the truth."

Kasumi was gonna go through with another act when her earpiece buzzed.

"Angel, we're on our way to a vet near Kanda Church. Meet us there when you get this."

Ann recognized the voice from the earpiece. "Shiho?"

And right on time, Kasumi finally cuts the whip loose and uppercuts Ann before kicking both Haru and Makoto onto the boys. She grabs Morgana from under the bed and tosses him out of the balcony before she performed parkour to the lower floor.

"Seriously!? After I was being nice to her this time!" Ann growled.

"It seems she has no intention in talking to us at any cost." Yusuke remarked as Makoto picks up her rifle.

"We're gonna do this the hard way then."

The Thieves then run to the third floor as Kasumi tries to rendezvous with Morgana and escape. As Makoto and the others arrived on the third floor, she commanded Haru, Futaba, and Ryuji to corner her in one of the exits on the second floor while they handle the other. Kasumi arrives in the Jacuzzi to see Morgana floating and shakes him off his apparent drowning.

"The least you can do was warn me about it!?" He yelled.

"Sorry! Head for Kanda Church. Ren and the others should be there." She instructed him.

"But what about you?"

"I'll manage." She reassured him as he pounced to the alley behind the building.

Though said alley happens to be loaded with dried blood and mutilated corpses. Damn that Akechi, Morgana thought as he ran off. Meanwhile, back in the Jacuzzi area, Makoto and the others arrive to try cornering Kasumi. However, she just casually sat there playing with Ren's pistol.

"Took ya long enough." She nonchalantly said to them. Ann spoke first among the group.

"Those skills of yours... First, those men in black. Now us. How are you that much of an expert?"

"Let;s just say I have training meant to win at all costs."

"Those looked like gymnastic moves.... similar to Sumire Yoshizawa's."

Fuck, she figured it out, Kasumi cursed in her head as Ann pushed further.

"Not only that, but your figure as well."

Ryuji interrupted Ann's analysis on Kasumi. "But aren't super spies supposed to be that slim though?"

"Even Skull seems to have a point, Ann-chan."

Ann groaned in disbelief since no one was apparently agreeing with her entirely. Kasumi yawned as she began to challenge them.

"Are we gonna start fighting or what?"

Makoto and Ryuji aimed their guns at her and fired, but were shocked to see Kasumi dodging the shots flawlessly. Kasumi smugly grinned at them as she fires back at them. Everyone took cover at the poolside huts as they conversed for a new plan.

"SHIT!" Ryuji cursed. "She dodged all those bullets like they were nothing!"

Makoto grunted a bit as she received a bullet in her calf. "And her shots alone are deadly. One-handed, like Joker's or Crow's."

"I still have that one smoke grenade with me!" Futaba raised her voice as she yanks off a grenade from her hip pouch.

"Excellent! Toss it at her direction!"

As Futaba leaned out of cover to throw the grenade, one of the bullets managed to hit her.

"FUTABA!"

"I'm fine!" She shrieked back to cover and threw her glasses. "She fucking nearly killed me!"

They can hear Kasumi apologize as the smoke began to pop. The brunette survivor notices the smoke and prepares herself for close combat. She expected Ryuji to go at her first, then Makoto, and either Yusuke or Haru.

It's gonna be Monkey Boy first, then Shoulder Pads, then either Kitsune Man or Beauty Thief. Man, I miss using those names on them.

As she expected, Ryuji went first to deliver a pipe strike to her head. She swiftly dodges this and kicks him in the groin. Following him, Makoto charged at her with brass knuckles, but misses her strike as Kasumi knees her gut and elbows her back before throwing her to Ryuji. Out of expectation, Yusuke and Haru double-team her from both sides as she bends backwards from their swinging blades before staggering them with a somersault and a reverse roundhouse to them, respectively. She didn't expect that Ann would actually swing the broken prop from an earlier fight at her as the smoke cleared.

Ann noticed that her makeup was tarnished as the beauty mark is revealed. She then furrowed her eyebrows as she tries to remember where she saw it before until Kasumi pulls out her spear chains.

"Shit."

"Yeah, it's shit you're gonna get!" Kasumi launches the spear at Ann, who defends herself with the prop. The prop was yanked off of Ann's hands as Kasumi throws it away.

"H-H-Hey, I'm sorry for smacking your face!" Ann waved her hands furiously as she backs off of Kasumi with fear. Before Kasumi could take another step, Ryuji grabs her ankle while Makoto grabs her right arm. Proving too much for them, she forces Ryuji off her leg and sends him flying back to the huts and nearly breaks Makoto's knee.

"Ack!" Makoto yelped in pain as Ann went in for the offensive. Kasumi uses her spears once again to distract Ann.

"Will you stop using those things!?"

"Nope."

She detects Haru from behind and dodges her ax slam. Ann was NEARLY the victim and chided Haru for it before getting pushed to her direction, causing both girls to fall onto the water.

"Man, you look drenched. Go find some new clothes, especially for you... Bazooka Tits." She smiled as she continued fighting Makoto.

Haru immediately commented on her insult. "I think she's referring to you, Ann-chan. You are in your Thief attire, after all."

"Shut up, Haru."

Makoto continues going fist to fist against Kasumi, who manages to sidestep quickly without giving Makoto a chance to recover and strike back.

"Getting slow, now?"

"Stay still, damnit!"

Kasumi chuckles at her mercy but is stunned by Yusuke, who throws a left hook onto her torso without warning. Makoto sees the chance and kicks her in the jaw.

"When one expects the opponent to be down for good, it is with unexpected events that their guard will drop along with their pride." Yusuke formally stated as Kasumi tries to recover. Ryuji sprints at her and punts her head, making sure she doesn't try to fight back.

"Try beating that, asshole!"

Ann and Haru get out of the pool and draw closer to Kasumi. Now being placed in a hold-up position, Kasumi carefully watches them as she keeps herself awake.

"Ryuji, I think you kicked her too hard." Ann scolded him.

"Me!? Makoto knocked her in the jaw first!" Ryuji tried to pass the blame, angering Makoto even more.

"I'll shoot you after I shoot her. You want that to happen?" Makoto snarled at Ryuji as the boy gave up. The group then looks at Kasumi, who gave out an eerie laugh.

"Uh... guys?" Ryuji panicked.

"Futaba." Makoto demanded.

"Uh.... her energy levels are going high...." She cautioned them as her laughter gets more psychotic.

"Oh, Guuuuiiiiinn...." She sang to her Persona.

"My queen, please do not do this."

"I'll need Survivor's Guilt now."

"But-"

"GUIN."

With no other choice, Guinivere is summoned in front of the group.

"Her Persona?" Ann wondered.

"Wait a second. That color scheme is similar to Sumire's second form, Vanadis." Yusuke acknowledged the team as the Persona casts onto Kasumi Survivor's Guilt.

Survivor's Guilt, Kasumi's special buff spell. Using this buff will increase Attack and Accuracy to a whopping 5x stack, doubly decrease Defense, and enforces a random affinity resistance.

In her case, Guinivere gave her a Gun Attack resistance considering that Makoto and Ryuji still have their guns.

"Let's come out and play, guys." Kasumi slowly rose up from the ground with a demonic grin on her face.

"MOTHERFUCKER, SHE IS SCARY!" Futaba yelled as she ducked back to the hut.

Kasumi yanks her spears out and wraps the chains around her arms to make them as knives. The group then stayed caution as Haru applies Life Aid to them from Lucy while Yusuke applies Hyakka Ryouran with Gorokichi. Makoto tries to use Checkmate on Kasumi, but it has been rendered ineffective.

"Looks like we can summon Personas without having our Phantom Thieves at-" Makoto was abruptly interrupted by the flash of their attires. "Never mind."

The Thieves then began to horde onto Kasumi, who evaded their attacks and retaliated with a stronger attack. Surprised by how strong she is, Yusuke casts a Masukukaja spell to make their attacks more accurate. However, Kasumi made sure they will miss their marks as she evades the attacks once again.

"How is she dodging all our attacks? We have, like, higher accuracy and evasion than her!?" Ann complained as she narrowly misses a Kougaon spell against her.

"She called it Survivor's Guilt, right? It's quite worse than Akechi's Call of Chaos or Sis' Desperation buffs." Makoto carefully analyzed Kasumi for her attack pattern.

"Lucy can't cast too many Life Aids. We'll lose our guard and be defeated too soon." Haru gave them a stern warning. Unaware on how the brunette (still wearing the purple wig and the purple eye contacts) is capable of fighting them, Ryuji unleashes William to cast Fighting Spirit.

"Let's kick her ass naturally then!" They went for Ryuji's plan and ALMOST succeeded as Kasumi taunted them once more.

"Fools! You'll never see the true nature of my power entirely!"

She summons Guinivere once more for Shining Arrows. The group scrambled around to dodge the bright spikes dropping down on them. This was all part of Kasumi's plan as she calls on Guinivere one more time for the last blow.

"Bold Charge!"

Bold Charge, a colossal Physical attack to all foes with chances of a Critical Hit. An equivalent of this in Earth X's surviving Yoshizawa twin is Masquerade albeit only hitting one target.

Guinivere then attacks the group as they all stumbled down. Makoto and Ryuji fire at Kasumi with the guns as a last resort as she kicks them all one by one into a serviceable  elevator. She then grabs a taser and hotwires the lift to bring them down as she taunts them one last time.

"Toodles, ladies and gents!"

The Thieves' attire revert back to their normal attire. She then jumps off of the second floor and reaches the alley where Akechi's carnage happened hours earlier.

"Same old Akechi with his bloodlust." She snorted as she suddenly felt the fatigue and bullets stuck in her. "Shit, I forgot about that." She limps her way out, hoping that no one could find her.

 

Time: 0624 hours

 

Sae shook her head as she found the idea of Makoto getting beaten up believable and unbelievable. While the others are getting treated by a few paramedics, Zenkichi then made a deduction.

"So you're telling me that the guest singer is a Persona user AND trying to protect Amamiya and his girl? Sheesh, talk about pain in the song."

"Was that supposed to be witty?" Makoto glared at him with a black eye.

"Nah. Just some stupid joke I made. I wonder if it's worth a dad joke."

"Trust me, it isn't." Sae laughed.

Akihiko passes another ice pack to Makoto as he asked her. "Survivor's Guilt... Bold Charge... those sound like something only a person with great depression would have."

Ann spoke up after hearing his comment. "She may be depr-OW!" The paramedic apologized as her needle caught on an area that wasn't cut. "Depressed. When she sang the song on the ballroom, I noticed how sad the lyrics were and how her emotion ran through her performance."

Yukari approached her with a song sheet. "It's this one, right?"

Ann and Makoto read the title of the song in unison. "Our Light."

Sae had her turn in reading the song. "Whoever this song is dedicated to, it must be a motivator for her to finish whatever mission she has."

Yukari looked at Rise and Yu as they are the only ones who knows Kasumi's true identity. Yu gave her a sign to keep the identity away from knowledge until the time is right.

"Regardless, it would be difficult for us to track this woman down." She sighed. "Akihiko."

"Yeah?"

"Would you mind taking the kids home for now?"

"Got it." He turned to the Phantom Thieves. "So where do y'all live?"

Yukari gave him a heads-up. "Takamaki and Futaba are staying in Yongen by a cafe."

Sae noticed her words. "Takamaki? In LeBlanc? I thought you live somewhere near Harajuku."

"I, uh, just felt like staying LeBlanc for now." Ann sheepishly explained. But Futaba's comments said otherwise.

"She just misses her forbidden lover, so staying in his old room was the best thing to do instead while she does something in her alone time. Mwehehe."

"Futaba, I will force those servers off for good now." Ann was unhappy with the gremlin's mischief.

"Okay then. You two will accompany me and Hasegawa-san to LeBlanc."

Akihiko nodded and asked the same question.

"I live around Kanda. Kosei was kind enough to provide me a dormitory that can help in my studies and passion for art until early April." Yusuke gave out.

"I live near Asakusa. You won't miss my mansion because our roof is somewhat dome-shaped like a burger bun." Haru informed him.

"Uh, I live near Ichigaya." Ryuji spat.

"I live nearby, so don't worry about me." Makoto assured him, with Sae already agreeing.

"Our home is only 3 kilometers away from here."

"Alright then. The three of you, come with me. I'll have a few paramedics accompany us." Akihiko directed the three Thieves while Sae enters her car with Zenkichi, Ann, and Futaba.

"Hasegawa, I think you can tell us about the Kyoto incident once we arrive in LeBlanc." Sae requested as he reloaded his revolvers.

"Sure. Let's just get Akane first in our hotel." He said.

 

Location: alleyways of Jinbocho
Time: 0702 hours

 

Her vision getting blurry and her body feeling weak, Kasumi kept evading main roads and stuck to small passageways. But she is beginning to bleed out, and she slumps onto a car as she was close to her limit.

"S-S-Somebody...."

She crawled a bit.

"H-H-Help...."

She stopped crawling as a figure notices her.

"Oh, my God!"

Kasumi's vision began to blink into darkness as she slowly goes unconscious.

"H-Help?"

"How are you alive?!" The figure's voice echoed.

".... Coach?"

Kasumi begins to hallucinate a bit as she looks at the figure behind Coach Hiraguchi before passing out.

"...A-Akira?"

Chapter Text

March 15, 20XX

Location: Hasegawa residence, Kyoto
Time: 1823 hours

 

Eleven days ago.....

 

Akane's screams alerted Zenkichi as he rushed upstairs to find his daughter being cornered by a Hastur spawn.

"Akane!"

"Dad!"

Without skipping a beat, he picks up a pipe and swings it to the demon. The attack would be ineffective as it was resistant to Physical attacks. In a flash, it turned its attention to Zenkichi.

"Shit." He swung the pipe again before the creature breaks it in half and chases after him. Not after he arrived in the kitchen did a Moloch appear and destroyed the roof of the area.

"Aw, come on! I just mopped the floor!"

The loud-mouthed officer then outwits both demons and runs to the living room to look for his revolvers. He finds them but stumbles when the Hastur startles him from behind, causing the guns to fly to the stairs. Cornered by the hulking beast waiting for him outside and the shapeless specter facing him, Zenkichi grabs an umbrella and prepares to fight until the Hastur was downed by Akane.

"Akane! Give me the guns!"

His daughter chucks the revolvers at him, prompting his transfiguration to his Phantom Thief attire. Chuckling, he raised his guns at the Hastur again and kills it.

"Thus begins the return of the Wolf."

"Holy cow, Dad! You're back to being a Phantom Thief!" Akane expressed with wide eyes and a bright smile.

Looking at himself in the mirror, he immediately grabs the mirror and uses it as a weapon.

"Akane, grab the flashlight and shine it here!" He called her as she scooted for the bedroom to grab it. Staying upstairs, she flashes the light onto the mirror as the Moloch notices her.

"Dad, it's coming near!" She began to panic.

"Hold the light steady!" He ordered before muttering to himself. "To bait one's prey...."

The Moloch is suddenly blinded by the light reflecting off the mirror as Zenkichi found the right angle. He summons his Persona to perform a new trick he's been wanting to try.

"Valjean! Quick Roulette!"

Quick Roulette. A Gun attack that deals Heavy Gun damage 6 - 8 times with mid chance for Critical.

The Moloch falls onto its knees as he calls out Valjean one more time.

"Megidola!" He commanded as he fires his revolvers at the same time, eliminating the beast once and for all. Before he could catch his breath, Akane warns her father as she discovers civilians running towards their direction. Behind the crowd (and some dead people that came along with it) are a herd of Bicorn and Eligor.

"Akane, call in my team and tell them to come here ASAP."

"Yessir!" She gave a salute before running down the stairs to call Zenkichi's special team.

Meanwhile, the elder Hasegawa whistles their attention towards him. Noticing that one of them is volatile in appearance, he observed their formation carefully.

"So, boys.... how was the city?" He tried to taunt them as he waltz back and forth in his front yard. "I bet you went to Naoki's infamous takoyaki snack bar! He's got that infamous Russian takoyaki challenge every night, that lucky bastard." The herd drew closer. "Such a shame... you won't get to be in it any sooner."

He immediately fires at one of the Bicorns and killed it instantly followed by a series of pot shots against the other enemies. He switches out his guns and pulls out the double swords from their cases and starts slicing them quickly. The commotion managed to attract another horde as he groaned in annoyance.

"Come on! More of them! I can't just rely on being a sword master and a gunslinger alone!"

Lucky for him, his team arrived on time. Three police officers stepped out of the patrol cruiser: Senior Officer Kuwabara Hanzo, Sergeant Mitzi Kishinama, and rookie Officer Garuku Hanzo, Kuwabara's son.

"The Royal Guard is here to save the day!" Mitzi proclaimed.

"For the last goddamn time, Kishinama, we are not called the Royal Guard! What are we, those weird people with beards for hats?" Kuwabara chastised her energetic claim.

Setting up a firing position, Zenkichi leads the way as he slices and dices the enemies while the three officers fired with their pistols. For obvious reasons, Zenkichi fought the Eligor as the Bicorn get bullet-ridden. After clearing out the weaklings, they exploit the volatile Shadow as it ambushed them from where it hid.

"Waiting for the right moment, huh?" Zenkichi grinned while the others took aim. "Guns down. This one's mine."

The volatile Shadow reveals itself to be an Ose, and from the looks of it... it will be a kamikaze after one strike. Zenkichi studies its movement until he finds a blind spot. Firing at the transformer on top of the demon, he keeps his distance as he lures it to the trap he made. He fires a second shot that drops the high-voltage machine and shocks the beast, leaving it open for Valjean to give it a Quick Roulette.

"What the fuck?" Mitzi felt amazed by the sudden appearance of Valjean.

"Did I just see what I see?" Garuku couldn't blink at all as his father talked to Zenkichi.

"Christ Almighty, Hasegawa-san. Didn't know you had some sort of magic power in ya." Kuwabara remarked in exasperation.

"Can ya blame me? I'm special." He cockily spoke as Akane rushes out of the house.

"Aunt Mitzi!"

"Hey, kiddo!"

"Kuwabara, was there something unu-"

Garuku interrupts them for a second as he told them that an apartment complex is being attacked by several Onmoraki and Kali hordes. The group rushes towards downtown and finds the SWAT team trying to plan out on how to deal with the situation. Zenkichi and the Hanzo boys approach SWAT Captain Shinoda.

"Captain Shinoda!"

"Kuwabara. Kid. And what the fuck are you wearing, Zenkichi?"

The entire squad looks at Zenkichi's appearance with puzzled faces. No one can comprehend whether their fellow Hasegawa-san is trying to look cool or this is just how he operates nowadays.

"Do not question how the predator appears, but question how the predator uses that appearance." He gruffly spoke as the quizzical faces get more quizzical.

"Are you okay, Hasegawa-san?" Garuku asked him. "Do you need medicine?"

"The Wolf can tend to his own injuries."

"Ignore him, son." Kuwabara instructed him. "He must be this weird with the suit on."

"Ahh, okay."

Captain Shinoda shook his head as he debriefed them about the situation. Without any warning or notice, Zenkichi walks towards the apartment with no backup whatsoever. Gunfire can be heard as the police force watch the Onmoraki getting flown out of the windows and the Kali slumping outside of the windows with bullets to the head, all coming from one man.

"Clear!" Zenkichi called out.

"What the f- How did anyone not notice him?" Shinoda was more than in surprise. He was in awe, damnit!

"Dad did the same thing earlier with the weird unicorn thingies and the ugly lion thing and th-" Akane was cut off by Mitzi, who covered her mouth and laughed awkwardly.

"Considering what his kid just blurted out, I don't even seem surprised anymore." Kuwabara mumbled as Zenkichi steps out of the building with all lives accounted for.

"No casualty, no fatality. A clean hunt for the Wolf."

"Whatever you say, Hasegawa."

Zenkichi began to ask for a debrief. "How long has it been since the first attack?"

"An hour, actually. First sightings were in the two hot springs hotels in the upper district. Then more were reported near your residence."

"They owe me a rooftop for my kitchen." He retorted with irritation.

"Then this apartment complex. It looks like it's heading south towards wherever is the next area those things will spawn."

Garuku interrupted them again and reports that the University of Kyoto has been discovered housing a pit with a devilish glow in its campus courtyard. SWAT and the Royal Guard rush towards the school where students panicked and wept to mourn the loss of their classmates who were attacked and killed during the first hour. The first responder, Yuuki Uzumaki, is nowhere in sight until one of the students informed them.

"He-He went down that giant hole to investigate it." a trembling junior said.

"Mitzi, keep an eye on Akane here and console the students." Zenkichi gave instructions to the sergeant as he turned to Captain Shinoda. "I want 2 of your best men alongside me and the Hanzo boys."

Kuwabara objected the idea. "No, we are not bringing Garuku on this one."

"What!? Why the hell not?" His son protested, but his father gave him a stern warning that should keep him in line.

"I am not going to be going home tonight without you stepping foot in the house. Now stay here and don't do anything stupid until we return. Do you understand?"

Garuku kept his silence and averted his glare away from his father.

"Stupid old man, trying to make himself look tough so he brag about being a hero again."

Kuwabara heard his rambling and punched him in the face.

"You ungrateful piece of shit!"

"Kuwabara, now is not the time to deal your personal issues."

"Back off, Hasegawa, or I'll pull the trigger towards that mouth of yours."

Zenkichi went closer and grabbed Kuwabara's gun as he placed it in his hand. "Do it now then."

"Dad!"

"Hasegawa-san!"

Everyone tensed up as Kuwabara and Zenkichi's argument reached the attention of the students. Kuwabara returned his gun to the holster and storms off with Shinoda's men. Zenkichi then helped up Garuku and empathetically spoke to him.

"Kid, I know you wanna help your dad. But as a father myself, I can't bear to lose my own child in the hands of something like this. Even if you want to prove that you have what it takes on the force, it shouldn't end like this. Please understand the situation right now."

Zenkichi did not speak as Wolf, but as the caring yet clumsy person that everyone knows. Garuku sat back down and just stared at his pistol while Zenkichi reconvenes with Shinoda.

"What do you need?"

"Electric grenades, incendiary grenades, flash grenades, and nitrogen grenades."

"Wait, that means-"

"Everyone in the team must be wielding grenade launchers."

Kuwabara shook his head as he grabs a SPAS-12 from the trunk while everyone armored up. Shinoda then made a short speech before everyone dove to the pit.

"Tonight, we are facing an enemy we are unsure of defeating. It has caused damage to both our properties and our lives. Tonight, we will dive down this depth of evil and suppress it from delivering further chaos into the city. Even if we may be hailed for our actions after this, we should be aware that what we're doing is for the sake of keeping the city safe and peaceful. Arms up!"

Everyone rose their guns. But Shinoda shook his head when he saw Zenkichi and his revolvers.

"Don't tell me you're gonna use that during our trek to Hell."

"I'm doing ya a favor by not wasting expensive grenades unless I order you to."

"Whatever. TO HELL!"

Everyone followed after Shinoda as they charged down. Kuwabara slapped his face in disbelief.

"That's like a battle cry to your death."

 

Down in the depths of the Metaverse pit, everyone - including Zenkichi - became shaken with goosebumps as they went further. They end up getting stuck in a roadblock when a bridge with unknown markings is left raised.

"Should we break this bridge for it to lay our path?" Kuwabara asked nonchalantly. Zenkichi can shake his head in disapproval after he tested how brittle the material of the bridge is.

"I'll contact Kishinama and see if she-"

"Hasegawa-san, Chief Sukano informed me that they will be using one of our prisoners to assist us. He seems to have knowledge about this phenomenon." His radio was loud enough for everyone to hear Mitzi's announcement.

"A criminal? To help us? Like hell, I would accept that!" Kuwabara barked as the SWAT team stared at him.

"It's that or you lose your job, Hanzo-san. Her orders."

"Damn that woman!" He stopped contact as he punched one of the walls.

"A criminal, huh? Anyone wanna take a guess?" Zenkichi decided to have some fun while waiting for their new teammate.

"I'm gonna bet it's that fat tub of lard from Shibuya. Rumor has it he used this phenomenon to boost the mafia activity there." One of the SWAT members said.

"Nah, it should be that guy with the red hair and scar on his face. Keeps going in and out of prison in his own accord." Another said, which peaked the interest of the third.

"What do you mean by his own accord?"

"He goes psychotic and murders some guards and prisoners in a prison break, but he calmly walks back here whistling and making bad puns on his way back to the cell."

"Dude, isn't that like dissociative identity disorder or something?"

"I dunno, man. I'm just guessing."

"Well, it could be Shido's loyalist buddies Hasegawa arrested six months ago." Shinoda joined before their betting game was interrupted by an argument echoing from where they entered.

"You idiot! Handle me with care! I'm a very important person!"

"I don't give twenty shits, skinny man! If the world hates ya, so do I!"

"Jeez, and I thought I was the one with sociopathic issues."

The cops looked up to see Garuku escorting the man before them.

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Why is this klutz doing here?"

"Should've went for a tougher guy than this prick."

Tohru Adachi. Well-known for his Inaba murder streak where he guided Inaba congressman Toro Namatame, who was a delivery man back then, into attempting to murder Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Rise Kujikawa, Naoto Shirogane, and Nanako Dojima, Yu Narukami's younger cousin. His only successful murders were Miss Yamano, Saki Konishi, and Morooka (better known by Yasogami High as King Moron). All because he was BORED and RESENTFUL.

"Come on, guys. At least give me a warmer welcome than Junior right over here." Adachi's playful but cold request sent a shiver down Shinoda's spine for some reason.

"Why are you the one being brought here!?" Kuwabara scowled as he aimed his gun at him.

"I came here coz I heard your boss received inside info from some detective in Iwatodai."

Zenkichi immediately stepped forward to identify the detective.

"Kurosawa, right?"

"Yeah, it's him. Something about Mitsuru Kirijo experimenting this shit." He then looked at Zenkichi's clothes. "When did I miss the Halloween party? Or was it you?"

"Why is Mitsuru Kirijo, president of Japan's leading security firm, involved in something like this?"

"Your boss kinda asked me the same thing, but I dunno anything about it either." He shrugged as he marched towards the bridge. "Ah, I think I know what to do with this wishbone."

"Which is?"

"Uncuff me first."

Kuwabara and Shinoda aimed their guns.

"Not gonna fucking happen!"

"Can't go further without my heeelp." He mocked Kuwabara as he shook his wrists. Garuku steps forward and uncuffs him, much to Kuwabara's chagrin and anger.

"Be thankful Junior here understands simple instructions, something you don't understand even during your childhood." Adachi laughed as he borrows Zenkichi's revolver.

"Do you mind?"

"Be my guest."

"MAGATSU-IZANAGI!"

Adachi fires a floating card as the darker version of Izanagi appears in front of them.

"Him too!?" Garuku was baffled.

"What? Anyone else here have special talents like mine?" Adachi hissed as Zenkichi called out Valjean.

"There's two of us."

"Oh, shit. I didn't know that was you, Hasegawa."

Everyone groaned at Adachi's sudden mood change.

"Are ya gonna make the bridge go down or not!?" Shinoda impatiently barked.

"Hold your fucking horses, alright!?"

"What's your plan?"

"You see those stalactites? Knock them down until this abyss in front of us not as empty as it looks."

Zenkichi uses Quick Roulette on the rock spikes as they shoot down enough to create a platform as Adachi uses Magatsu Mandala to break the bridge down and make it land on the platforms.

"Let's move."

"What? No thank you or something?"

Adachi is shoved by Kuwabara, who makes sure he doesn't move a muscle by aiming the barrel of his gun to his head.

"Do something stupid and I'll kill you before you could go out."

"Why bother killing me? This will only lessen my triple life sentence by just one year!"

"You're fucking with me. Should have been 30 days instead."

While Adachi and Kuwabara trade jabs at each other, Shinoda stumbles upon a wall of dead organisms. Seen hanging from the ceiling are people who fell victim to the Metaverse.

"Christ Almighty..." Shinoda held the urge to vomit at the gruesome stuff.

"This is all like exploring some dead animal's stomach cavity." Zenkichi commented, making Garuku puke followed by Shinoda.

"Yech! That's disgusting, Cap." One of them winced.

"Shut it, Kazama!"

As Adachi looked around the grotesque appearance of the place, he makes a comment that even Zenkichi would feel the hairs on his body standing.

"If I were to guess this right, this place looks like it's eating up Kyoto. Every victim seems to be transported to this shithole and gets consumed until they're nothing but bones."

Silence was their best friend, and for a good reason as they would enough of it for the next place they step foot upon. In front of them is a vast open space with more weird markings. If Adachi were to use Magatsu-Mandala in that space, it could level the entire pit. Same goes for Zenkichi with Megidolaon.

"Well, shit. Look at what's coming at us." Adachi pointed out the two incoming Fafnir that crawl their way to them.\

"What the actual fuck...." Garuku's mouth was left hanging as he whips out his pistol.

"Ready.... Aim!" Zenkichi's command broke everyone out of their shaking knees and prepared the grenade launchers on its location.

"Shock the left, burn the right! Fire!"

Two of the officers fired electric rounds and incendiary rounds at the dragons, resulting in only one advantage: One Fafnir got electrocuted, giving others the chance to focus on the other one only.

"Unload onto the other ugly motherfucker!" Shinoda yelled as grenades and bullets began to overwhelm the beast, causing it to go down easily. Zenkichi nods at Adachi as he gave a warning.

"Heavy Attacks only. Anything heavier, and the whole floor will collapse."

"Don't need to tell me twice. Magatsu-Izanagi!"

"Valjean!"

Both unleash a Garudyne and Megidola spell, respectively, to weaken it further. Kuwabara then notices the pattern of the markings and orders his son to take photographs of it. Garuku cautiously gets the shots, but accidentally alerts a sleeping Raja Naga as it towers over him with terror.

"FUCK!"

Kuwabara notices the beast in front of his son and opens fire at the Snake Man, breaking the formation and forcing Kazama, one of the SWAT members, to back him up with nitrogen rounds. The other Fafnir recovers as it lunges onto Shinoda before getting tackled by Magatsu-Izanagi.

"You motherfuckers stupid or what? Keep your distance!" Adachi growled.

"Valjean, how bad would things be if it isn't the dragons or the snake?"

"Do you not remember the abomination with the bagged head?"

"Riiiiiiiight." Zenkichi then remembers encounter the Reapers prior to fighting the Demiurge with the Phantom Thieves. They were a real pain in the ass for him and the A.I. named Sophie, who somehow generates a Persona when activated.

"Shall we level this wretched domain into oblivion?"

"Not just yet... We haven't even awaken the big one."

After Adachi's Persona kills the first Fafnir while the second one succumbs to its injuries and dies. A quick Garudyne to the Raja Naga saved the Hanzo boys, but it isn't enough for everyone to take a rest. The sounds of chains begin to echo the entire place, sending shivers once again to everyone's spines.

"Garuku, take the photos again quickly!"

"G-Got it!"

"What the hell is that noise?"

"I'll check it out."

"Kazama, don't be an idiot and stay here."

"Relax, Ekiya. It'll be quick."

Kazama rushes over to investigate the sound as the group notices that he forgot his grenade launcher. In a flash, they witness him burn to death after a gunshot was heard.

"KAZAMA!"

"What the hell!?"

"Hasegawa, what just happened!?"

The non-Persona users began to panic as Adachi looked at Zenkichi.

"Reapers." they both spoke simultaneously.

"What?" Garuku was trying to clarify when the chains got louder.

"We need to go now!" Zenkichi warned as Adachi has the liberty to use Kazama's grenade launcher and uses it to slow down the harbingers of death.

The group began to retreat their way back to where they came. But upon reaching the area where the hanging corpses were supposed to be, it was replaced by a rocky wall.

"Shit, we're trapped!" Ekiya exclaimed in fear.

Garuku notices a small crevice in the next wall and tosses a flare onto the pathway. "We got a way out! Follow me!"

Garuku went first in entering the crack followed by his father, Shinoda, Adachi, and Zenkichi. Ekiya and the other surviving member, Maobu, debated on who goes first. In the end, Ekiya was forced in as she witnesses Maobu being decimated by a Megidolaon shot. Reuniting with Zenkichi and the others, Ekiya sadly announced to them Maobu's death. As the apathetic person that he is, Adachi continues forward as he investigates the area for another exit.

"Damnit, kid. You just had to bring us to another death trap." Adachi sighed.

"What the hell, man? First Kazama, now Maobu. Which one of us is next?" Shinoda went into a panic fit until Kuwabara sees a figure limping in the distance.

"Uzumaki." He runs onto the first responder, who is completely without arms and dying from blood loss. The man spoke his dying words after Kuwabara catches him.

"Ki....ri....jo...."

"Adachi, search the area for clues." Kuwabara ordered as Zenkichi did the same without needing the words for it. On one end, Adachi manages to see several equipment belonging to Kirijo Corporation. On the other end, Zenkichi finds an entire military battalion corpse pile.

"You may wanna take a look at this, Garuku." Zenkichi called him to take the shots while Ekiya does the same for Adachi's discovery.

"My father worked for Kirijo Corporation..."

"And I'm pretty sure he fucked it up. Best dad ever. Wow."

"You really have no sense of sympathy, huh?"

"Does it look like I care?"

The banter stops as Ekiya discovers a corpse behind one of the scrap metal. Mortified, she takes a few steps back before landing on her butt.

"It.... It can't be..."

Adachi and Zenkichi notice her reaction and investigate what she saw. To both their expectations, a headless member of the Kirijo Corporation was found pinned to the metal with bony spikes.

"From the lab coat itself, this must have been a researcher." Zenkichi said as Adachi said otherwise.

"Or he could be a spy posing as a lab researcher. But we'll never know because we have no DNA reader or something."

The scrap metal is somewhat a trail as Zenkichi observes its pattern. Judging from Uzumaki's words, Kirijo Corp is involved... but why is their material all over the place?

"Holy shit, look...." Shinoda pointed out as the group looked beyond the horizon. They witness a young University of Kyoto student being cut in half and eaten by a pair of Moloch. Next to them is a pair of students being cooked alive by a group of Lilith. They then hypothesized that Uzumaki was about to suffer the same fate, but are unsure who dismembered his arms.

"Looks like a shit show." Zenkichi stated bluntly.

"You think there's anyone left alive?" Garuku asked naively.

"We'll find out soon enough. Shinoda, you and Ekiya look for an exit. Zenkichi, you and Garuku go search for survivors and make it back here in one piece. Adachi, you and I will go investigate further about this." Kuwabara gave out orders as the survivors split up.

 

Safely evading the sight of the Shadows, Zenkichi and Garuku make their way to the center as they looked around for survivors.

"This isn't gonna be easy, considering how big these things are." Garuku whispered in doubt.

"Trust me, we'll find them when we find them." Zenkichi reassured as he then suddenly started sniffing like a wolf.

"Uh, Hase-"

"Ssshh. I'm trying to pick their scent."

"Oh-kay?" Garuku spoke awkwardly as he uses his camera as a scope.

"You nervous?" Zenkichi asked as he saw him shaking.

"...Yeah."

"Me too, kid."

Zenkichi moves a bit further until he sees a few students hiding under a few rocks. He approaches them carefully while keeping a hush gesture.

"It's okay. We're here to rescue you." He whispered calmly as one of them thanked him.

"Thank goodness, you're here. Would've been worse if we suffered like them."

"Just follow me carefully, and don't make any noise."

As Zenkichi leads the group to where Garuku is, the rookie was already hiding in another rock.

"Garuku, what are you doing here?"

"Dragon."

"What?"

The younger Hanzo pointed above them as a Seth demon dives onto their position. One of the students screamed as she gets chomped in half, alerting the rest of the Shadows on their location.

"Shit, we gotta go!" Zenkichi pushed Garuku as the group rushes towards uncharted territory. One by one, the surviving students get picked off and killed their pursuers until the survivor count drops to 4.

"Hasegawa, we found something here! Get over here now!"

From his left, Zenkichi spots Magatsu-Izanagi battling the Moloch and orders the group to follow him there. He and Garuku are suddenly ambushed, causing two more students to get killed by another ambush. Zenkichi quickly summons Valjean and uses Megidola on them as to avoid vaporizing his teammate and the last two students. They quickly recover and rendezvous with Kuwabara and Adachi.

"That was close." Garuku panted heavily.

"Yeah, but we lost 15 students along the way. And my bullets don't seem to work on them." Zenkichi grimaced at the losses they suffered.

"Are we gonna be okay?" The student looked around at the safe zone until she spots something in the corner.

"Project.... Sacrificial Lamb?" She yanks it out of one of the corpses.

"What does it say?"

"It's just the cover. The contents are nowhere in sight." She sadly told them.

"Well, ain't that terrific?" Adachi threw his hands up and walks ahead of the group. Zenkichi then takes the folder from her and finds out that the project is Kirijo-based.

"Mitsuru Kirijo..... How corrupt have you become?"

Kuwabara then talked to the surviving teens to stay close to them and avoid any signs of danger while Adachi fiddled with a bullet. Zenkichi kept his hands on the holsters in case shit hits the fan. The man known as Wolf began to deduce the findings.

First, there was the pit. It was specifically in U-Kyoto grounds, and based on what I've heard Mitsuru Kirijo finished college here. So a direct connection to Mitsuru Kirijo must be present for the incident to happen. Second, Kirijo Corporation tech are looted everywhere. And with the bodies being fresh, it must have been hours since the incident happened. Either there was a lab under the school or this place was absorbed by the Metaverse elsewhere. Either way, it brings to our last clue... Project: Sacrificial Lamb. No word was found about it nor does the project exist publicly. Classified information shit. This potentially have two possibilities: either Mitsuru Kirijo is responsible for this or she has not foreseen the accident that happened in her company.

Whatever is in that Sacrificial Lamb crap isn't in good hands.

Zenkichi snapped back to reality as Garuku waved his hand in front of him.

"Sorry for that. Dad was wondering if you were okay." He apologized sheepishly.

"It's fine. Actually, can you ask Ekiya about Kirijo Corporations when you see her in a bit?"

Adachi overheard this and decided to be the bearer of bad news. "I don't think we'll see Ekiya at all....."

The two students, Kuwabara, and Garuku look up to see Ekiya's head planted on top of the tunnel frame. That could only mean one thing left.

"Shinoda. Either he's been sent here to kill us or ran off when those things attacked us again."

Speaking of Shinoda, they overhear him arguing with someone as they traverse to the tunnel and quietly ducked for cover. There, they can see the SWAT captain being beaten up by soldiers.

"Soldiers? In here?" Zenkichi peeped.

"They have the Kirijo Corp logo on their chestplates." Garuku pointed out as he took photos without getting caught.

Shinoda, already unable to stand up, taunts the soldiers one more time. "You little jackrabbits better go home and fuck your mommas instead of doing a big boy's job. Hehehe-ACK MOTHERF-"

Receiving a stomp to his already broken knee, Shinoda cries in pain as the familiar chain rattle returns to the group's ears.

"Shit."

"It's back."

The soldiers, on the other hand, set up attack formations.

"Ready the rockets!"

"Gun ready!"

"Steady now, boys. We gotta make the big boy cry louder." The leader said as he twisted his foot onto Shinoda's knee, further aggravating the pain as the Reaper spawns once again.

Zenkichi gestures Adachi to create a distraction so they can run towards the exit, which is around 5 miles from where they are.

"MAGATSU MANDALA! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Adachi's terrifying laughter alerts the soldiers but also distracted them for getting a clean shot at the Reaper. Suddenly, half of the soldiers are killed and Reaper is staggered for a good amount of time for Zenkichi to unleash Megidolaon and begin their escape.

"Come on! Move it!" He ordered the group as they hijack one of the Hummers and resist the soldiers as Zenkichi summons Valjean again.

"Valjean, give it hell to the head!"

The Persona unloads a critical One-Shot Kill attack on the Reaper, putting it not only brain-dead, but having go in a triggered frenzy. With Shinoda saved and everyone on board, Adachi rams through the soldiers as they make their getaway against the Reaper. What they have forgotten was that there was a second Reaper, which fires a Freidyne round and sends the car flying. Kuwabara then notices that another small crevice exists and leads them to the bridge crossing.

"Hey! We're near our opening!"

Adachi then thought about their would-have-been exit earlier.

"Well, isn't this shit-for-giggles?"

"What are you talking about?"

"That would mean there are two entry points to this place."

"Where does the other entry point come from?"

Zenkichi carefully analyzed the distance between their entry point and the Kirijo soldier's entry point.

"The soccer field." He made his best guess.

"Bingo. Everyone of the car now!" Adachi demanded. 

"The hell you gonna do?!" Zenkichi roared at him for an answer.

"We need to make sure these shits don't get out of this hellhole, right?"

Zenkichi and Kuwabara paid attention to his idea.

"I'll play bait and cave in the pathway to the soccer field. You guys find a way to cave in the pathway to the courtyard."

"Hey, wait a minute!" Garuku tried to object but was stopped by his father.

"Alright. Will you be fine?"

Loosening his tie, Adachi pulls out Ekiya's grenade launcher. "Don't worry. I'll give them a SHOCKING ending."

Everyone exits the car as they crawl through the hole while Adachi fires the electric rounds on the Reaper.

"Right here!"

Adachi analyzed his position as he calculated the possible coverage of the cave-in. If I do Magatsu Mandala here, it'll surely kill everything its path. But I ain't ready to die just yet....

He fires one more round and calls out Magatsu-Izanagi one final time.

"MAGATSU MANDALA!"

As the Persona performs the attack, Adachi looks at the Reaper dead in the eye.

"Playtime's over, you one-eyed freak!"

With the power unleashed, a cave-in begins to occur as it buries the survivor soldiers, the Reaper, and Adachi alive.

 

Meanwhile, Zenkichi and company reach the bridge crossing but are greeted by the frenzied Reaper before they could proceed further.

"Go! I'll bury this bastard alive!" Zenkichi called out Valjean and fires a Megidolaon spell on top of it, causing the cave to begin shaking. Now exhausted, the man known as Wolf was unprepared by a Freidyne attack, sending him flying onto the students. Kuwabara's strength gives in and he nearly drops Shinoda to the abyss. Garuku, being the only one left with energy, tosses his camera to Zenkichi as he watches his father drag Shinoda out of the bridge.

"Garuku, come on!"

"Son! Get out of there!"

The younger Hanzo aims his grenade launcher at the platforms to destroy them for good as he drags a rocket launcher out of the hole they just crawled out of.

"Garuku?! GARUKU!"

"Kuwabara, let's go!"

"I am not leaving my son here to die!"

"JUST GO ALREADY! I'LL MEET UP WITH ADACHI AND WE'LL FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET OUT OF HERE ON OUR OWN, OKAY!?"

Garuku's anger finally reached its hottest, forcing Kuwabara to stand down and carry Shinoda out to the courtyard. Zenkichi takes one last look at Garuku, who fires all four rockets for the cave-in. He then runs out to the opening and escapes on time as the pit's opening is sealed by a barrier. Feeling relieved, he witnesses Akane and Mitzi rush to him as he hugs his daughter. Mitzi notices Kuwabara's demeanor as she asks him where Garuku is. After learning that he sacrificed himself along with Adachi to prevent a far worse catastrophe, she knelt down to mourn her teammate.

 

Present day, March 26, 20XX

Location: LeBlanc Cafe
Time: 0824 hours

 

Staring at Zenkichi and Akane, Sae, along with Ann, Futaba, and Sojiro, felt sadness in his story as he went on to finish it.

"After that, Kuwabara didn't want any credit from the mission. So did Shinoda, but I heard he died from his injuries. That's why I'm the only one hailed as a hero on the news."

"And the camera? What happened to the evidence you all took?" Sojiro took off his glasses to clean them as Zenkichi spoke somberly.

"The files got corrupted in the middle of inspection."

A brief moment of silence envelopes the cafe.

"Looks like Kirijo can go beyond mercy when it comes to having hostages or captives in their hands." Sae pinpointed the cruel fact she has discovered from his words.

"Yeah. The people she hires are ex-cons, mercenaries, and even corrupt soldiers and police officers." Futaba added as Sojiro decided to join his insights.

"Kirijo would go all the way to make sure their business is the only reason Japan is still alive. I mean, look at the Phantom Thieves incidents! They never showed and gave the kids a break. But I'm glad they didn't because God knows what will they do to us all."

"So our new enemy is Mitsuru Kirijo herself then." Ann concluded. However, Zenkichi gave them a warning.

"I would practice caution, though."

"What makes you say that?"

"Now that I realized that Mitsuru teamed up with Manahashi in creating that doomsday project of theirs, shit's gonna get worse once all the Shadows escape to this world. There will be no survivors left in Japan if they successfully accomplish that goal."

Futaba and Ann looked at each other and nodded to discuss with the group later in the evening. As Ann was about to take her rest, the bell chimed as a delivery man appears.

"Special delivery for Zenkichi Hasegawa!"

"But I don't live here."

"Huh? But that's what's written in the box."

"I'll handle it." Sojiro offered. "Should I pay?"

"No need, Sir. We mail this for free."

With that, the delivery man left.... until he hid in the corner.

Damn, Ren. You made me come face to face with Ann Takamaki at last! She's so fucking hot! Daisuke thought to himself as he resumed his disguise.

Sojiro opens the box and sees a badge, a note, a tie, and a gun inside.

"What the -"

"Wait a minute.... That's Garuku Hanzo's badge! This tie and the handwriting of this note... no doubt it's Tohru Adachi's. But the gun.... I dunno who owns that." Zenkichi was surprised that long-lost items were suddenly sent to him.

"Who sent it?" Ann looked at him.

"I don't know, but I'm gonna have to bring these back with me to Kyoto for the burial."

 

Zenkichi Hasegawa. Kyoto's Outlaw. He is ready to bring back the honor of his fallen comrades once he returns home.

Chapter Text

March 26, 20XX

Location: ???

Kasumi is being taken by Hiraguchi to somewhere she hasn't been familiar with before.

"Hang in there!" Hiraguchi told her but to no avail.

With the blood loss and exhaustion from the previous fights, Kasumi blacks out and began to dream....

 

Two years ago... April 12, 20XX

Location: Shujin Academy - Earth XX
Time: 0724 hours

 

Kasumi walks down the halls with a depressive look on her face as students began to spit out rumors about her.

Is that her? The gymnast honor student?

She looks sad. Does she hate being a nerd?

I heard there were two of them though.

She must have killed her twin to avoid being outshined.

"SHUT UP." Kasumi already detested the rumors before she could be properly introduced to her new school. As she sat down by the courtyard, she is approached by a black-haired girl with a ponytail and a knee brace.

"Hi there! My name is Shiho Suzui, and I welcome you to Shujin Academy!"

Kasumi looked up and gave her a soft hello. Shiho notices her frown and tries to cheer her up.

"I bet you got hit with the usual Shujin rumor mill. Sadly, that's how the school is being supplied with. Kinda like a heart when the blood vessels distribute the blood to and fro."

Kasumi stared at her, wondering why she was this cheerful. She stood and asked for her classroom.

"1-A, eh? Never fear! Super Suzui is here!" Shiho posed a la Neo Featherman, which made Kasumi laugh.

"I cheered ya up now, right? Come on!" She pulls Kasumi towards her classroom when she bumps into one of the students.

"Oh, sorry! Didn't see you there, Kurusu-kun!"

"No worries, Suzui-san." The boy named Kurusu shrugged his elbows nonchalantly.

"I told you already, you can say my name without formalities."

"Okay then."

"You're not gonna listen to me, are you?" She pouted as Kurusu laughed.

"I listened to you about the rumor mill, right?" He finds it amusing to see Shiho roll her eyes playfully.

"First Ann, now you. What will I ever do to- Oh, I almost forgot." She made a faux salute. "As president of the Welcoming Committee, I introduce to you...." She trailed off, knowing her mistake.

"Well?"

"Hold on a sec." She whispers to Kasumi. "What's your name?"

"Kasumi."

Shiho returned to her fake salute. "I introduce to you.... Kasumi!"

"'kay."

Shiho stomped her foot as Kasumi blinked confusingly. That's it? He isn't gonna go judge me or something? Weird.

"I worked hard on my scripts! Give me some cred, man."

"Maybe later."

"You jerk!"

Kurusu yanks off Kasumi's glasses (though she can see without them) and replaces hers with his own glasses.

"Yeesh, I can't even see Shiho's nose from here."

"For a kid who got framed for assault, you're really rude."

Kasumi caught her statement and whipped her head straight. "Framed? For assault?"

"Yeah," Shiho sighed sadly. "I have a good guess on who did it." She eyed Makoto as she passes by the hallway.

"Suzui-san." Her greeting felt robotic.

"Prez." Her greeting felt cold.

Kurusu then offered to bring Kasumi to class. "You want me to take her instead? I'm pretty sure the Welcoming Committee was supposed to hand out baked cookies."

"Crap! The cookies in the Home Economics room!" she jumped in panic as she rushes back to the other building. "1-A, and make sure she feels welcome!"

Kurusu shook his head and chuckled. "I guess Takamaki wasn't kidding about her being energetic."

"Shall we go?" Her expression went dark once again.

As the two arrived outside 1-A, Kasumi bowed and entered the classroom. She immediately ran out after she heard him fall off the stairs.

"Kurusu-senpai! Are you okay?"

He gave her a thumbs up and realized that he has her glasses.

"I believe these belong to you?"

Kasumi reached the out as she felt the lingering pain from witnessing Sumire's death weeks ago. Kurusu notices this and gets back up to hell her.

"Hey, you okay? You don't feel so good." She held onto her back and hand to keep her from falling off the stairs. Kasumi blushed big time when she stumbled onto him and embraced him to prevent him from falling again.

Is that the delinquent transfer student?

Trying to get it on with the gymnast now?

Kamoshida won't be happy when the punk is messing with the sports girls.

"Ah, fuck 'em." He warned her as he stared in her eyes. "Just promise me and Suzui that you'll live long enough to see better days for us to help you."

Kasumi looked around her surroundings before nodding her head. She was quite glad to be with friendly faces ever since the incident, so this is something she needed. Later on after school, Kasumi joined Shiho for a tour around the school as she gave her tips and trivia about the place.

"So this is the principal's office, as we all see, where it houses the biggest rotten egg in the world. Legend has it he never cleans himself up." Shiho poked fun at Kobayakawa.

Kasumi giggled at her joke. "I think it's more of an egg mutant not ready to be shown to the world."

Both girls laughed until a tall, broad-chinned man with a mophead hairstyle approaches them.

"Suzui! I didn't know you were gonna be touring the new gymnast transfer student today." The sound of his voice made an eerie tone only Kasumi could figure out.

"Oh, Kamoshida! You know I'm part of the Welcoming Committee of the school, so here I am." Shiho spoke nervously, making Kasumi catch that.

"Well, don't stress yourself now. Wouldn't want the Volley Bird to lose its flight, right?"

"Of course. I'll make it for practice tomorrow."

"Wonderful! I'll see you ladies around." Now he's just being fucking creepy.

Shiho sighed and leaned on a wall. "I forgot the tournament is close. Stupid me!"

"Hey, it's okay. It wasn't your fault." Kasumi held her hand and rubbed it.

"You sound like a guy trying to flirt with me by using comfort." Shiho snorted, making Kasumi wince.

"Was that how it sounded? I'm sorry..." She lets go of her hand and looked down again.

"I was kidding! Come on. Let's go somewhere fun!" Shiho began to drag her to Shibuya as the former plans to prank her best friend, Ann Takamaki, in the middle of shopping. Disappointment came on her face, however, when she didn't see her at her usual spot.

"Fuck. Seriously?" Shiho hung her head in defeat.

"I guess your friend isn't here then."

"Welp, my idea is ruined. Why not we grab some grub in Big Bang Burger?" Shiho proposed with Kasumi giving a thumbs up. As they arrived and went to order, they accidentally became the afternoon challengers of the Big Bang Burger challenge, which was a new promo the mega food corp gave out to all branches. Shiho and Kasumi were surprised to see their burger being as big as three schoolbooks. Kasumi naturally finished the challenge in one go while Shiho was close to finishing. After gaining the Second Mate Badge, Kasumi looked at Shiho and smiled.

"Feeling okay?" She asked.

"How... did... you..." Shiho was trying to breath from the mega-chompfest.

"I'm a gymnast, remember? When I-" She stopped talking, knowing that she might say something about Sumire. Shiho held her hand and gave her a nod. Kasumi then shared her experience as a gymnast alongside her twin, who died in front of her eyes.

"That's... that's terrible." Shiho held back her tears as she hugged Kasumi. After letting her finish crying, Shiho took out her phone.

"How about we make new memories then? As a start." Shiho offered Kasumi a chance to have a picture with her as her new friend.

"Sure. Sorry you had to hear my rambling." She apologized sheepishly.

"Better than not being shared stories at all, honestly." Shiho admitted she gave Kasumi a tissue to wipe her eyes. She pulls the brunette close to her as she takes a selfie.

"Give me your brightest smile, Kasumi!"

Kasumi felt warm and gave out a sincere smile. Not the brightest, but a decently sincere one. Shiho shows her the photo and asks if she wants a copy. After giving her the photo, they call it a day and part ways. Kasumi felt happy that someone actually cared about her instead of just looking at her like a nobody. That would likely change as a few days later, she would lose her first friend to gain new ones....

"Shiho-senpai hasn't been answering my texts since last night. I wonder if something's happened to her." She muttered as she entered the school. The place was nearly empty so she can start her warmups. Catching up to her was Kurusu along with a blonde boy and a dorkish guy.

"Kasumi-chan!" He called her out.

"Oh, Kurusu-kun! Lovely to see you." she gave a small smile.

"Do you know where Shiho is?" His voice went serious as if he's chasing something.

"I don't know. She told me yesterday that Kamoshida called her out to his office after the performance she gave out in the rally." She showed them her recent text.

Damn Kamoshida called me up. I'm sorry we're gonna cancel today's library dozing session. I'll make it up to you tomorrow.

"Dude, you thinking what I'm thinking?" the blonde spoke as Kurusu nodded and dashed out to the courtyard. They stopped running when a call came to Kasumi. It was Shiho.

"Hello? Shiho-senpai?"

"Kasumi-chan, I'm so sorry for this...."

She can hear a metal door opening. "Shiho-senpai, where are you?"

"Somewhere where I can finally be free from this world."

She overhears the boys cursing as the practice building was still locked.

"I-I can't help but lose my endurance to the pain I've been suffering."

The sounds of a fence can be heard as Kasumi slowly looked around with anxiety.

"If you can, please save my friends. Kurusu-kun... and Ann. Tell them I'm sorry for going away too soon."

"SHIHO!"

Kurusu's voice snapped her out as she follows where his eyes are focused on. She drops her phone and covers her mouth to see Shiho wrapping her neck with a noose and still talking to the phone, prompting Kasumi to pick it back up.

"Kasumi Yoshizawa.... thank you..."

Kurusu and the blonde ran back to the main building.

"For being my friend...."

The boys chased as Kasumi's heart was beating fast, hoping they can make it in time.

"When I needed one the most."

Shiho jumps off the ledge and begins twitching. Students began to scream and call for someone to help as they watched Shiho Suzui hang to death. Kasumi broke down to tears as she mourned her loss. Mishima, the dorkish boy, dropped to his knees and slammed his fist to the ground. As Kurusu and the blonde boy reached the rooftop and tried to retrieve her body, Kamoshida's ever-so-toxic voice called them out with a sinister smile to match that.

"MURDERERS! They have finally done it!"

The girl alongside Kamoshida was the most unhappy of them all.

"SHIHOOOOO!"

She tried to run to the roof, but Kasumi stopped her by holding her arm. Ann tries to tug it but Kasumi's grip went tighter. She then began barking at Kamoshida.

"What did you do, Kamoshida?"

Kamoshida turned around to see Kasumi, both a mess of tears and anger, and started playing dumb. "What are you talking about?"

Is she seriously gonna try fighting Mr. Kamoshida?

For an honors student, she's being a dumbass.

She has no chance if she is gonna go head-to-head with him.

Kasumi didn't care anymore of the labels she will be thrown at. She lost her first friend in the sorry excuse of a school, and she will avenge her.

"You called Shiho to your office to talk about her performance yesterday. I don't think you talked to her at all."

"What kind of nonsense are you spitting at me now, Yoshizawa?"

"Tell the truth, you good-for-nothing bastard!"

Kamoshida smacks her to the ground, knocking her glasses off as he began bragging.

"You seem to have forgotten your place, Yoshizawa. Let me give you a quick reminder: this school is nothing without me, so you and that big mouth of yours can find another benefit for it." He lets out an evil grin. "I'm afraid I'll have to ask the principal to discontinue your stay here, especially when you murdered your sister weeks ago."

Everyone began to stare at Kasumi, and as what Shiho told her back then, rumors are what flow in Shujin. Kasumi stared at Ann, who runs off to the rooftop to meet with the boys.

"If you don't want that to happen, meet me tomorrow after practice so we can 'discuss' about it."

Kasumi never felt so scared in her life. Her knees trembled as he made an announcement.

"Anyone who dares mock me or the school shall be placed on the expulsion list! Starting with those boys up there... and you."

Kamoshida felt a jab straight to his face as Kurusu landed a clean hit onto him and helped up Kasumi.

"Senpai-"

"Head for Ryuji and Ann. Now."

She looked at him for a second and saw a different person. Someone who has fire in his eyes fueled by anger. The rest of the faculty arrive to stop the fight, with obvious favor of the teachers siding with Kamoshida. Kasumi felt disgusted and pulls Kurusu with her instead. Hours later, she avoided everyone to find her senpai as she sees them in the entrance.

"Kurusu-senpai! Ryuji-senpai!"

"Huh? She knows me already?"

"Ryuji, you're the only person who hasn't met her yet." Kurusu turned to Kasumi and gave her glasses back. "Sorry if it doesn't look the same."

"It's fine. How can I help?"

The boys look at each other with uncertainty.

"We're gonna punish the King."

"Dude, you can't blurt something out like that!"

"Will it be torture or death for him?" Her grim question spooked Ryuji as Kurusu found amusement.

"Straight to the point, huh? If things go wrong, we might kill him as a last resort."

Kasumi nods her head, but gave them an extra idea. "Make him confess to everything. From the abuse to the leaks of our records.... to him possibly raping Suzui-senpai."

"Wait, why would y-"

"He's been acting creepy since I transferred here. I already had a feeling it would lead to this."

Ryuji didn't talk further. For once, a girl managed to figure out his point against the pervy teacher. As they were talking, a boy with blue eyes and a yellow hood arrives next to them.

"We ready to go?" He spots Kasumi next to Kurusu. "Uh, Akira."

"Yeah?"

"Why are you bringing girls to the Palace?"

Girls. That would mean...

"Whatever you guys are plotting, I'm gonna join in." Ann returned from the hospital with a cold stare. "I don't fucking care anymore if he dies. He killed Shiho, and we'll make him pay for that."

"She's right. I'm not gonna stand by and let this happen." Kasumi made her resolve, but the boy had another idea.

"How about this? Brunette girl here can go find anyone to help us in putting that bastard Kamoshida in his place."

"Why? What would it benefit, Morgana?"

"A chance for the cognitions to be less hostile to us when we enter. We don't want a repeat of the kitchen now, do we?"

Kasumi then had an idea.

"You guys go on ahead with whatever you're doing. I got something else to do."

"Wait, Yoshizawa-san.."

"Call me Kasumi. I prefer being called that." She runs off to find Makoto, who was in the middle of a discussion with Haru. The bob-cut brunette sees her approaching and directly reprimands her.

"You should have known better!"

"I could say the same to you." Kasumi fired back. "How long were you aware of the students being abused by Kamoshida?"

"What kind of an accusation is that, Yoshizawa-san?" Makoto furrowed her brows in anger.

"Let me rephrase my question:" she repeated it in a very cold tone, "how long have you been covering for Kamoshida in the students' abuse?"

"Are you accusing me of having a hand in Shiho Suzui's sudden death?!"

"You damn well know that the bastard did something, and you just stood by and did nothing."

"Look, I am trying my best to find ways to e-"

"Find ways? Take a look around you. Kamoshida thinks he is a god in this school." God is more of a better sense since he has that complex. "He is forcing expulsions on Kurusu and Sakamoto for just taking off Shiho-senpai's hanging corpse."

Makoto clenched her fist as Haru became more curious to Kasumi might say next.

"If you say something else one more time..."

"What would happen if she is the one who gets it next? Or her? Or HER? Or maybe.... You?"

Haru then intervened their argument.

"I'm afraid she's right, Mako-chan."

"Haru?"

Haru began to validate Kasumi's words. "There are the rumors of Takamaki-chan, then Suzui-chan's death, and an apparent meeting with him for Yoshizawa-chan."

"Call me Kasumi."

"What if Kasumi is right? Who do you think he will go after next if Takamaki-chan is gone also?"

Makoto began to think of a solution when Kasumi turned around and insulted her one more time.

"It doesn't need a long time to think about it. You just need the heart for it, Miss Robot."

As she walked away, Haru jumped as Makoto slammed her fist to the wall, breaking it in the process.

Holy crap, I couldn't believe what I just did.... Kuru- I mean, Akira-senpai.... I won't let you all down.

Gaining Haru was the start of what would be a mini-women's rights movement in the school, which accidentally made things worse for the Phantom Thieves in the Metaverse due to cognition overwriting.

 

May 24, 20XX

Location: Shibuya Accessway
Time: 1730 hours

 

Weeks after Kamoshida confessed to his crimes and committed suicide by gun in front of the students, Shujin hires Takuto Maruki as the mandatory guidance counselor for the students who have been involved with Kamoshida. Although Kasumi is personally a client to Maruki's counselling sessions, she felt it necessary for him to be around Shujin to ease things up. Speaking of Maruki...

"Oh, Yoshizawa-san! I didn't expect you to be here." He startled her by accident.

"Doctor Maruki! I'm sorry you saw me fall." She felt embarrassed as he helps her up.

"Don't worry about it. I'm a bit clumsy, you know."

"Right...." she looked sad once again.

"Is something wrong?"

"You know what that is."

"Yoshizawa-san, as your personal counselor... I can't keep telling you advice you don't want to hear. I can tell from your face that you are mourning for another person aside from your sister." He watched her tense up. "But believe me when I tell you to find the best people who can listen to you as well. I'm a counselor, not a genie."

"Akira-senpai."

"What was that?"

"Akira-senpai is behind you."

As she thought, Akira approached the two and tried to humor her.

"Howdja know I was coming?"

"Reflection." She wasn't lying though.

"Alright then." Akira turned to Maruki. "Doc, great to see you here."

"Yeah. How was the clean-up?"

"A bit of a kiss-ass. Kasumi here stayed with me for a while. Felt sweet to have someone like her talk to me when everyone else wouldn't."

Kasumi felt a blush running onto her. How could he say that without feeling embarrassed?

"Oh, yeah. Speaking of which, I heard you ran a movement of 20 girls against Kamoshida days before he died. Why was that?"

"It was a way to 'punish the King with a god complex' in Shujin."

Akira smirked as he heard her emphasize what he said while adding extra words to the insult.

"Were you inspired by someone to do that?"

Kasumi remained quiet as she blushed more.

"I'll hold you on to that. How about we eat somewhere?"

"Your treat, Doc?"

"Yeah, let me just get my.... Uh-oh."

"Something wrong, Doctor Maruki?"

He gave out an awkward laugh. "I seem to have left it in school. You two go on ahead. The treat will come some other time. I promise!"

He runs off and takes the Aoyama train again. Akira starts laughing.

"What are you laughing about?" Kasumi inquired before she can go back to moping.

"I can tell how occupied Doc is to others' needs until he forgets his own."

"Like the money?"

"Yeah. But it's a bit fun to have someone like him around."

"I guess." Now she continued moping.

Akira notices this as he sees Yusuke coming his way.

"Ah, perfect timing."

"'Sup, Yusuke."

Kasumi looks at her side to find Yusuke Kitagawa holding on to a painting.

"How's Madarame?"

"Sleeping. I doubt he'll wake up any sooner."

Carefully hearing their conversation, Kasumi once again heard the word 'Palace' and 'cognition' from their mouths. After they bade farewell, Akira turned his attention back to Kasumi.

"Still not feeling okay?"

Kasumi nods her head as she is suddenly carried by Akira and hoisted onto his shoulder.

"H-Hey! Put me down!" She squirmed around as felt the heat on her face.

"Nope." He smugly replied as many people began to stare at them.

"H-H-Hey! T-This is embarrassing, you know?!"

"Dunno, duncare."

After a long (and awkward) walk, the two arrive in Big Bang Burger. Kasumi felt a sting in her heart as she remembered the first time in coming to BBB. Akira grabs her hand and leads her to the counter.

"Good evening, welc- Oh, Ma'am!" Akira felt confused and surprised at the waitress' recognition of her. "It's been a long while since your last visit!"

"Y-Yeah. I guess I just got too busy." Kasumi scratched her head as the waitress then offers the two the Big Bang Burger Challenge. Surprisingly...

"Wow, you two are currently at Second Mate. Tonight's challenge will reward you the First Mate Badge. Are you two ready?"

Both of them hummed as the waitress left to get the megaburger.

"So you've been here?"

"Yeah. Shiho-senpai brought me here after the tour last month."

"Oh. Okay." His tone sounded disappointed.

"Why the long face?" She noticed his expression.

"I just thought bringing you here would have been cool for me to show off my real hunger powers."

Kasumi chuckled at his reason. "You're cute when you least expect it, you know."

"What?"

"What?"

They broke into laughter as they went on to make more small talk until the burgers arrived.

"Holy shit, this burger is bigger than the last one." Akira was astonished as the waitress explained.

"Yes, sir! The higher the challenge, the bigger the burger!"

Kasumi inquired further. "And how many challenges are these, exactly?"

"Around seven, I think."

"SEVEN!?" Both spoke in unison, which made her laugh and wished them luck.

"Here we go."

"Time to get to work."

After nearly 20 minutes of eating, they accomplished the challenge and obtained the ranks of First Mate. They began walking out of the restaurant and paid for the meal as they share their thoughts on the challenge.

"Damnit, we got five more challenges to do. At this rate, I'm gonna forget the taste of Sojiro's curry."

"I'm still in the mood to eat."

"Seriously? How about I treat you to curry tomorrow after school?"

Kasumi showed a bright smile that opposed her depression for a short while. "Sure!"

As the two drew close to the trains, Kasumi blurted out something before they split up for the day.

"I meant it."

"Hmm?"

"You really are cute when you least expect it." Kasumi blushed really hard.

Does she... like me? Akira thought before shrugging it off.

"I'll see you tomorrow!" Kasumi rushed to her train as Akira shook his head with a smile.

 

June 19, 20XX

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 2100 hours

 

Depression strikes Kasumi once again as she has been experiencing nightmares about Sumire's death and her ghost haunting her.

You killed me inside out.

You never cared for me after all!

I'm nothing but your shadow cast into darkness when you stole the light.

You're a murderer, Kasumi!

She shook the words off as she finishes filling the tub. She slowly undresses and enters the tub, but submerges onto it entirely. She hopes to drown in her recent attempt to kill herself out of guilt. She counted until she couldn't count anymore. She was CLOSE to successfully killing herself when Shinichi enters the bathroom to brush his teeth.

"KASUMI!" He frantically pulls her out of the bath. Rushing to make sure she stays alive, he quickly dried her up and called an ambulance before giving her decent clothes on the trip to the hospital. Seeing her contacts, Shinichi calls the three recent people she has talked to: Doctor Maruki, Akira Kurusu, and Goro Akechi.

"What!? I'm on my way there now!" Maruki hustled up.

"Hang on, Mr. Yoshizawa! I'll be there in no time!" Akira scrambled off as he told Sojiro he won't be back for the rest of the night.

"Damnit, I'll be over shortly." Akechi curtly informed him.

As the three men arrived (with surprised looks towards each other), they meet up with Shinichi outside the ICU room.

"How is she?" Akira asked first.

"They're extracting some water trapped in her lungs and other organs." Shinichi sadly told them.

"Her mortality rate?" Akechi inquired next.

"20%."

"It'd be a miracle if she survives this." Maruki lamented as the four men sit down and wait. Much to their relief, the doctors successfully revived her and are transferring her to a recovery room. They observe her breathing slowly, but her heartbeat is slower than that.

"It seems her depressive thoughts have gone through her head for too long." Maruki was the first to speak.

"It seems that even I couldn't save her enough." Shinichi spoke with doubt and guilt.

Akira and Akechi agreed to watch over her for the rest of the night with Shinichi's permission and authorization. In the early hours of the morning, Kasumi regains consciousness and sees Akira sleeping on the chair in front of her while Akechi snoozes by the table. Realizing what her actions meant, she cursed herself for being selfish and reaches out to Akira as she combs his hair. She is startled when he broke his act of sleeping.

"About time you woke up."

"S-Senpai! You startled me!"

"Not like you startled all of us." His tone was not the usual playful or kind one, but now more on authoritative. "What the hell were you thinking?!"

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry isn't enough for all of us. You gave your parents a heart attack, had me and Akechi panic in the middle of our respective businesses, and prompted good ol' Doc to find more ways in counselling you again."

Kasumi looked down as Akira continued scolding her.

"You can't just keep clinging onto that day forever-"

"How would you know!? You weren't there as a bystander nor were you a direct witness to it!" She fired back, causing a heated argument that surprisingly does not wake Akechi up.

"I don't have to be in it to understand it, Kasumi."

"Like you've understood my level of pain!"

"I do! I lost my grandparents in an accident, lost my sister on her own birthday, lost my own freedom because of that damn accusation! Hell, if you wanna count Shiho on the death toll, then fine! How much more when I lose someone like you!?"

Kasumi was taken aback. Not only was she selfish to succumb to her own problems but she was also insensitive towards Akira, who is trying to help her by forcing her off her moral code of independence.

"Akechi told me once that you would prefer having people solve their own problems instead of relying on others." He grabbed a mirror and showed Kasumi her reflection. "Is this the face of someone who is capable of solving her own problem?"

She grabs the mirror and throws it accidentally towards Akechi, who is still asleep despite the hit.

"Look at you. Avoiding others' help. But you were very different back in April when you had Okumura and a few other girls to charge into Kamoshida's office. You helped them not because you are defending yourself, but you helped them because you know it is for the best."

Kasumi remained angry and quiet.

"Fine. If you won't talk to me, you can talk to Akechi here."

Akechi is suddenly awake at that moment and waves them off. "Not gonna happen."

"Why not?"

"She's too stubborn for her own good. If she wouldn't listen to me, she certainly would do the same."

"Some friend you turned out to be." Kasumi hissed.

"Right back at you."

Akechi leaves the room to grab some pancakes, leaving Akira and Kasumi.

"Still can't convince you, huh?"

Silence.

"Okay then."

Akira stands up and places a box of sweets on her feet as he walks away. The box has a note on top that says Get well soon. Kasumi cries after being left alone.

 

July 17, 20XX

Location: Teikyu Building, Shibuya
Time: 1555 hours

 

Kasumi arrived two hours early for the fireworks festival and sat by the nearby chairs alone. She switched to her normal clothes after her parents encouraged her to wear a yukata against her will. After waiting until the clock turned 5 pm, she rose up and made her way to ground level to witness the fireworks up close and personal. As she looked around, she notices a peculiar group frantically calling someone.

"Damnit, where the hell is he?" Ryuji tapped his foot impatiently as Makoto groaned in disbelief.

"He told us to come here and then ditched us at the final hour. What to expect from Kurusu-kun?"

Ann shook her head and sighed. "At least Yusuke and Morgana challenging each other to a takoyaki-eating contest would be fun to watch."

"I don't see how Yusuke would win though. He's probably there to gaze at the food." Ryuji snorted.

Kasumi pinched her nose bridge as she had a feeling what it meant.

"Enjoying a time like this alone is not good, y'know."

Akira showed up next to her holding two packs of cotton candy. He offers her one, and she reluctantly accepts.

"What are you doing here instead of being with your friends?"

"Eh, they'll manage."

Kasumi studied him closely until his eyes look at hers.

"Um... Um..."

"Something wrong?"

"You should..." She removes his glasses as he removes hers.

"You're better without them, Senpai."

"I could say the same, Kasumi..."

Both felt their stomachs bursting with butterflies and their organs jumping up and down to the beat of the heart that is going crazy. The two lean to go for a passive (and probably first) kiss until Morgana interrupted the moment, saving the both of them for going too forward.

"Am I interrupting something?"

"Damnit, Morgana."

"Thanks for saving my life from this ruffian."

"Excuse me?"

Morgana can laugh at their playful banter. "If you were gonna have a date with Kasumi here, you could've just said so."

"We're n-" Before Kasumi can say somthing else, Akira pulls her for a quick kiss to the cheek.

"Now, now. Let's not be hasty here, darling."

Kasumi felt everything around her going in circles. What did he just do?!

"Alright, Joker. No need to rub it in my face. I'll tell the others that you got stranded in the middle of the tunnel."

"Thanks, bud." The two then perform a special handshake, which made Kasumi turn her frown upside down.

"You're even cuter than I thought...." And then she went mad. "What the hell was that kiss for?"

"To ward him off. I prefer spending the fireworks festival with you tonight coz of something."

As the fireworks began launching and exploding, Akira and Kasumi began to watch it together. They unconsciously hold each other's hands as Kasumi began speaking.

"Senpai."

"Hmm?"

"I just want you to know that.... after what you said in the hospital...." Akira can tell that she is struggling to find the right words. "You've been straightforward yet kind to me. You made me realize that I've been only caring about myself, and that was the mistake I made with my twin."

"What do you wanna do know?"

The two look at each other and get their first kiss. They made their 30 seconds worth it as, unaware to the two of them, Yusuke managed to take a photo and decided to leave them alone. The two part their lips and share blushes that match the big red fireworks.

"Uh, Kasumi..."

Holy guacamole, he's blushing!

"Y-Yes, Senpai?"

"I'm always here for you, okay?"

She nods as she scoots closer to him. She then wondered...

"Was that kiss..."

"It was real."

They proceed to watch the fireworks explode after taking one quick selfie.

 

September 10, 20XX

 

"Finally! Some good rest."

Kasumi, regaining her composure and confidence for the gymnastics training, drops down to her bed after Hiraguchi grilled her to perform under the sun. After meeting Akira in one of the souvenir stores, she was lucky to find a Gala charm in the shape of a musical note with wings. She texts Akira as she hopes that he is free later and, to her joy, he replies with a yes. Quickly up on her feet, she changes from her gym clothes to a purple bikini with white tie straps and rushes down with her gift to meet up with him.

"You're late." Akira smirked.

"Was busy trying to look good, you know?" She winked at him as she extended her hand. "Shall we?"

"Yes, please."

The two began strolling along the beach as they explored the wonderful view of Hawaii. As they stop by a shrimp kiosk, one of the vendors noticed them.

"You two from Japan?"

They both nodded.

"Well, I hope you know what those Phantom Thieves did. All those change of hearts and stuff, but it feels sad that those people resort to just offing themselves."

Akira replied with very fluent English. "Yes, although we can't rely on them to do what the police should be doing.... it is what it is for everyone to judge."

"I agree, kid. I'm not entirely against them, after all. So if ya ever come in contact with one of them, tell 'em Dave Patson of Hawaii says hi with a huge bowl of seafood." He chuckled as he gave the couple a special seafood bowl.

"You're obviously eating all of this."

"Come on, Akira-senpai. Let's just share the food."

After paying the vendor named Dave, Akira and Kasumi sat on a nearby table and watched the surf moving back and forth to the sands.

"Don't you just love this place?" Kasumi gleefully crunched on a lobster. Akira made a mental note about it.

"Yeah. I love this place when I'm with you." He tried flirting.

"Aw, but you should love this place as much as you l-" She stopped talking as she was this close to saying the three magic words.

"What was that?" Akira grinned as he leaned closer.

"N-Nothing."

The two then notice Ryuji and Mishima looking for girls and end up failing. Kasumi shakes her head in amusement as she grabs another squid ring. Instead, she grabs Akira's finger and brings it to her mouth for biting.

"OW!"

"Oh, my gosh, I'm sorry Senpai!"

"Be gentle with me."

Kasumi felt flushed for the rest of the afternoon.

As the sun began to set, the lovely would-be couple sat on a bench and watched it go down together.

"Today felt wonderful, Senpai." Kasumi remarked as she dusted off the sand stuck between her feet and her sandals,

"It sure was. Though I'm not certain if I can return here on my own accord."

"We will. I just know it."

Akira noticed the 'we' in her words. "We?"

"Yeah. Actually, there has been something I wanted to confess."

"A love confession, right?"

"What the- Unfair, Senpai! You reading my mind?"

Akira chuckled as Kasumi pouted.

"I already made my confession back in the fireworks festival. I just wanted to see if you felt the same now."

"I-Well-Yes!"

Akira pulled her closer for her skin to touch his skin. Kasumi looked at how physically fit he is until he caught her peeping.

"Already?"

"Shut up, Senpai."

Before Kasumi knew it, she felt something being attached to her neck. It was a golden necklace with a blossom motif in the center.

"Oh, my goodness! How did you get the time to buy this?"

"I have my connections."

She pulls out her phone to see herself with it. "It looks amazing."

Akira grabs her phone and opens the camera. "Come on then."

The two grab a nice selfie together as Akira hoped Futaba didn't bug Kasumi's phone. Kasumi, in return asked for another selfie after she gave the Gala charm to Akira.

"Letting the beat of our own music lead us to the highest skies."

"Wow, you have such philosophy." Kasumi was amazed by how her new boyfriend (of only 5 minutes so far) was that intelligent.

"Yeah, but I only have one goal for it."

Kasumi didn't need to ask as they kiss intimately for a few seconds.

"I love you, Akira."

"I love you too, Kasumi."

"THERE YOU ARE!"

The two new lovers turn around to see an enraged Ryuji dragging Mishima again.

"I've been looking for ya everywhere! Do you know how hard it is to look for chicks until now?!"

Kasumi cleared her throat and made her presence known. "Ryuji-senpai, Akira and I are in the middle of a date?"

Ryuji then whipped his head left and right until he pieced it together.

"You traitor." he cried as he hung his head in defeat. "Let's go, Mishima."

"Huh? Already done? Finally!"

Akira sighed in relief. "Now I won't be bugged by him."

"But of course, you'll be bugged by me." She leaned forward and kissed him again.

 

October 14, 20XX

Location: Odaiba (unknown Palace)
Time: 1821 hours

 

"Yoshizawa!"

"Kasumi!"

Kasumi wakes up after crashing down one of the catwalks and finds herself cornered by a trio of Black Riders. She crawls backwards to keep her distance.

"Senpai! Morgana! Help!"

"Don't worry! We'll find a way down!"

"Please hurry!" Kasumi's cries of help and pain made Akira rush. As the Shadows draw close to her, a voice echoes in her head as she curls herself.

"Why are you worrying? Is it because of what impossibility trouble faces at you? Or is it simply because you have not yet decided to rise up on your own? The bells struck at the time of our old pain, so let us not have the chimes worry us anymore."

She opens one eye to look at the monsters backing up away from her.

"Put on that glass slipper, and see how it fits to you and you only. I am thou, thou art I..."

Her eyes turned yellow as the monsters went forward again.

"... no longer will I fall behind nor make fault in the dance to glory. Shall we begin the waltz of the lifetime?"

"Certainly......." She chuckles as blue flames shower all over her, revealing a red violet leotard under a lavish gray coat. Red gloves made its way to a spear swinging by the belt.

"Shall we dance?" She taunted the Riders as she summons her Persona. "Cendrillon!"

The blue fairy tale Persona fires rays of light onto them as Kasumi uses the spear to yank one of the Shadows towards her for a kick.

"Boo-yah!" She pumped her fist as more enemies show up. She unleashes a Makouga Spell on the enemies and kills them all before Akira and Morgana arrived to back her up.

"K-Kasumi?" Morgana carefully walked close to her.

"Yeah. It seems I'm one of you now." Kasumi shrugged as Akira looked at her.

"Holy crap...." Akira looked at her all over. "Angel."

"Already!?"

"Wait, Senpai."

"Nope. Final decision."

Kasumi lets out a small chuckle after Morgana gave up convincing Akira to not let her join. She parroted her new codename. "Angel..."

 

Two weeks later, October 28, 20XX

Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 1921 hours

 

After Akechi revealed blackmail material and forced Akira and the Thieves (except Kasumi) to make a deal with him, everything has been unsettling. As the school festival was about to end, a dance intermission was held as anyone can join.

"Oh, come on Senpai! Let's go bust a few moves out there!" Kasumi eager said as she pulls Akira's arm.

"Alright, alright. Give me a few minutes...." As he left his focus from her, Kasumi pulls out her crimson ribbon.

"Just this once....." She murmured as she took off her glasses and tied her hair as she stepped onto the dance floor. Obviously, rumors went up again as she started dancing.

Hey, it's Yoshizawa-san!

Damn, she looks prettier with that ponytail.

She's good, but she lacks the grace.

Is that why she's planning to quit gymnastics?

"Heh, just you wait." Kasumi bragged as she showed more dance moves to impress everyone, especially her boyfriend that's somewhere in the crowd. When she finally turns to his direction and sees him in a different attire, she felt a pink tint as she offers her hand to Akira as the two danced together.

The delinquent can dance!?

Oh, wow. He's good though.

Damn, now I wish I was his partner.

Shut up! These are troublemakers you're looking at.

Akira paid no mind to the words of his fellow student body as he and Kasumi continued to dance until the intermission was finished.

"W-Wow. Never knew you had it in ya." She panted as her eyes were dead set on his.

"I still got a few tricks up my sleeve." The two kissed in front of the crowd, gaining multiple reactions including that of Ryuji's.

 

November 22, 20XX

Location: LeBlanc
Time: 1800 hours

 

"Is Akira-senpai here?"

Kasumi rushed to LeBlanc a day after the 'supposed suicide' of the leader of the Phantom Thieves. Betrayed by her closest friend since Sumire's death, Kasumi felt a grudge forming between her and Akechi. But on Akira's personal order, she can't turn her back on him.

"Right here, milady."

Akira stepped down from the attic with an arm cast. Kasumi carefully hugged him and cried her heart out.

"You moron, I thought I lost you....." Her tears flowed as Sojiro watched.

"You won't lose me. I'll promise you that."

After Sojiro volunteered to explain to her the new plan to expose the head honcho of the mental shutdowns, Kasumi slammed her fist to the table.

"Whoever the fuck is responsible for this, he must pay with either his mouth or his blood!"

"Calm down, kid." Sojiro softly instructed her. "This is going to be one dangerous fight for all of you. Even Niijima-san said it herself."

"I know. But we can't keep risking our lives on this." She turns to Akira. "By the end of the year, it better be the last job for the Phantom Thieves."

"Why?"

"I can't afford to lose any of you. Please promise me that."

"But-"

Kasumi never gave him a chance to speak. "Promise me that you won't be putting yourself in harm's way after all this!"

Akira thought carefully. This is his girlfriend he's talking to. Someone who isn't ready to lose another soul. Someone who still has that depressive state inside her, and he knows she's hiding it well.

"Alright. Just join us in this one, party member or recon. You can keep an eye out on me this time."

Kasumi nodded, and just when things were going well....

 

December 13, 20XX

Location: Engine Room, Ruler of Pride's Palace
Time: 1643 hours

 

"...You killed Dad! He trusted you!"

Akira and the others hear a heated argument after they just took down the cleaner. Running up ahead, they witness Akechi and Kasumi pointing their guns at each other.

"Akechi!"

"Long time no see, Akira. Seems like you've cheated death once again."

"Dude, why is Yoshizawa here? And in those clothes? With that gun?"

"Oh, you're still brainless as ever, Sakamoto. SHE IS A PHANTOM THIEF HERSELF."

Akira and Kasumi continued their staredown with Akechi as he explains his true nature and his role as the culprit of the mental shutdowns. His recent murder was more personal, as he had killed Shinichi and Hanaki Yoshizawa in their home to push further his agenda in framing Shido.

"You motherfucker! They had nothing to do this!" Akira growled as Kasumi placed her finger on the trigger.

"To think we were friends for a long time, Akechi."

"I'm sorry, Yoshizawa, but I honestly see you as a pawn rather than a friend."

As the argument went on, Akechi summons two Shadows to fend the other Phantom Thieves off while he, Akira, and Kasumi engage in a close quarter combat. Knowing his chances are nigh impossible to win, he reveals his true form as the Black Mask and amps up the fight by summoning more Shadows to keep the others at bay.

"Don't you feel remorse on the day Sumire died?!"

"She had it coming, and you're the one to fully blame for this!"

"You think I didn't realize that after all this time!?"

Kasumi and Akechi traded blows as Akira was still fazed by the Laeveteinn spell Akechi smacked on him.

"You tried to kill my boyfriend and murdered my remaining family.... you're unforgivable!"

Kasumi summoned Cendrillon and unleashed multiple spells of Vorpal Blade onto him. Akechi saw an opening and thrusted his blade onto Kasumi's abdomen.

"ANGEL!"

Akira awakens and witness her getting impaled, but is shocked to see her still standing and pulling the sword out.

"What... What the hell!?" Akechi was speechless to even try to talk to Kasumi.

"I'm done being made to look like I'm fragile. I've broken again and again and again."

Her wound remained as she began to twitch.

"You wouldn't understand how personal you have made things. Your single loss is nothing compared to losing everyone around you....."

Her fists clenched as she lets out a matching psychotic laugh, scaring everyone including Akira.

"CENDRILLON!"

Her Persona appears in front of Akechi, and bashes him to a wall.

"My fight is with Akira, not you!"

"You made it MY fight, too."

She proceeds to beat the living hell out of Akechi, who can only endure her hits rather than fight back.

"MURDERING.... BACKSTABBING.... VENOMOUS.... BASTARD!"

"Akira, I recommend you do something!" Akechi wasn't holding on for too long as a fist landed on his face.

"ANGEL!"

Kasumi stopped moving and turned to Akira, who marched directly to her.

"He's right. The last thing I need is you suddenly killing him. And we don't that to happen anymore to anyone we consider as a threat."

"Pay attention to him, Yoshizawa. You seem to li-" Akechi gets shot in the abdomen by Akira.

"Let's make a deal, Akechi. If I win, Angel here brings you back to the real world where you will arrest yourself for the crimes you have committed."

"And if I win?"

"Good luck fighting her in her rage." Akira smirked against his own warning.

Akechi accepted the challenge, and lost to Akira. Kasumi grabs his arm and twists it as she prepares to accompany them to the exit when Kasumi is shot by Shido's cognition of Akechi, who then revealed that Akechi is meant to die after the election. Akechi fires a bullet onto the bulkhead lock, separating him and Kasumi from the others.

"ANGEL!"

"We're fine."

"But we'll be dead in a few minutes! Yoshizawa's bullets won't last."

Gunfire is heard on the other side as Akira bangs his fist to the bulkhead.

"Angel, get Crow outta there!"

"It'll take a while, Senpai. But we'll make it out."

Akechi observed how determined Kasumi is in getting them out alive.

"I'm currently looking for an alternative route outta here. Just get out of here!"

She can hear Akira's voice becoming desperate.

"I'm not leaving until I get the two of you out of here!"

"Akira... Please."

"Have faith in your own girl, Kurusu!"

Kasumi sees Akechi smiling at her as he fired his gun onto the incoming Shadows.

"Shall we dance?"

"With pleasure."

Gunfire echoed the entire area until they faded. Futaba announced their signals as gone, making Akira grieve over the loss of two people he cared. Unbeknownst to them, Kasumi actually dropped Akechi into the deeper part of the engine room and chucked him into a life boat.

"We made a deal, right?"

"Yes. I guess I will turn myself in and cause my revenge against that man to go down in another way."

Days later, she reappears in the Palace and keeps her distance to the team as Akira and the team fight Masayoshi Shido. After defeating him in battle, she gave a victorious grin as she observed Shido promising to make amends.

"That's for everything with your dirty hands, you good for nothing bastard."

Suddenly, Shido's Shadow dusts itself as the Thieves feel the boat shaking. She makes a run for it to catch up with the others as they witness the ship sinking. A lifeboat was spotted by Ryuji as he runs to it against his aching leg. In a dramatic moment, Ryuji gets the boat to go down and is caught in the explosion, sending him to the water unconscious.

"Ryuji!" Ann teared as she was hoping he didn't die.

"Ryuji! Where are you!" Makoto frantically looked for him.

Kasumi spots movement in the water and spears the pillar to dive into the water and scoop him up. Morgana noticed the spear landing and informs Akira.

"Joker! That spear..."

"It can't be..."

Kasumi projected her movement well and scoops Ryuji outta the water and drops to the lifeboat. Everyone hugged her in relief while Akira gave her a long kiss.

"Don't fucking scare me like that ever again, Kasumi...."

"Sorry to keep you waiting..."

"Come on! No flirting in front of the single ones, bro."

Everyone was more relieved that Ryuji lived.

 

December 24, 20XX

Location: LeBlanc cafe
Time: 2100 hours

 

Kasumi and Akira arrive in LeBlanc after getting upset of the lack of available establishments for their date.

"No matter where we go, it's always full of people. Even the bars are stacked." Kasumi relented.

"Hey, it's not bad. Although Shido still winning is bad."

"I know, Senpai. But he is only given two years to rule and atone for his crimes, so he's technically not a Prime Minister."

"Depends. All that matters right now is I still have you, and you still have me."

The two share a deep kiss that went a little overboard. Kasumi pulls back and blushes.

"I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."

Akira lifts her chin. "If you wanna do... well... it, then we-"

"No. Only if you're okay with it, Senpai."

"I am." He kissed her in the lips. "Let's head upstairs then."

In a span of 2 hours, the two have made love for the first time and slept on the same bed. Kasumi, covered in a blanket, skims over the photos they had earlier.

"I wish my family were still alive for this...." She felt sad as Akira cuddled her close.

"If it makes you feel better, we're your new family."

"I know that. It's just.... the moment I return home, it's gonna be very lonely there. No laughter, no joy, no nothing."

"If you want, I can ask Morgana to move there while you move here with me."

"Isn't it the other way around though?"

Both laughed as they made the last few minutes of Christmas Eve feel romantic.

"Akira."

"Hmm?"

"I love you, always and forever."

"I love you too, Kasumi. Forever and always."

They give one long kiss as the clock struck 12 midnight. Akira can sense Kasumi's Persona transform into a stronger one, Guinivere. What would happen as the year went by becomes a series of events that made their relationship strain entirely.

 

One year later....

 

Kasumi wakes up in the Underground Walkway after Big Bang Burger got bombed. The man who saved her was...

"Akechi-san?"

"Glad to see you're awake."

"Wait a minute," she surveyed her surroundings, "Where's Akira-senpai?"

"He...." Akechi was unsure whether to tell her the truth or spit out a lie.

"Akechi-san?" Her tone went hostile.

"He told me to save myself during our battle with Maruki."

"Maruki? Like, Doctor Maruki?"

"Yes, that four-eyed son of a bitch."

Before she could ask further, the two spot Ann running up to them with worry.

"Guys, has anyone seen Shiho?"

Kasumi then remembered something: Shiho Suzui, the girl who became her friend. The girl who died to fuel the Phantom Thieves. The girl who never got the chance for a bright future.

"Shiho-senpai's been dead for nearly two years, Ann-senpai."

Ann began shaking her head rapidly.

"No, no, no, no! She's not dead! I just walked with her to Station Square earlier this evening!"

"Yoshizawa is correct, Takamaki. Suzui has been dead for a long time now." Akechi interjected, but Ann wouldn't accept it.

"NO! She is not dead."

"I guess Maruki got you right in the head."

"Shut up, asshole! Don't you dare call me crazy!"

Ann runs away crying as Kasumi and Akechi rushed to Yongen-Jaya.

"Why are we running here?"

"We need to make sure we've finished the mission successfully. All we need to do is-AGH!"

Akechi grips his head in pain as Kasumi tried to comfort him. He waves her off and tells her to go ahead. As she burst through LeBlanc, she sprints upstairs to find Maruki putting Akira's head on a pillow.

"Yoshizawa-san." He coldly spoke.

"What did you do to him?" She spoke angrily.

"A house call. He was feeling down that nobody wanted to hang out with him anymore and stuff, so he called me to visit him."

Kasumi notices that both Maruki and Akira have bruises on their faces.

"Bullshit, Doctor. Tell me the truth."

Maruki sighed as he walked past her. He pats her shoulder and talked more. "Just let him rest. He has done his part now."

She turned around to see no one behind her now. She slowly walked towards Akira and held his hand as his breathing went slow.

"H-Hi, Akira-senpai. M-Merry Christmas? I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm very sorry for not being with you lately. It seems that I have returned to being selfish in my reasons. I know you want to make us feel happy, but it's better if we knew the meaning of it rather than take it to face value."

She watches his breathing get slower as Akechi arrives.

"I kept thinking about our times together... The pain we suffered together... If it weren't for you, I'd already fail what my family wanted me to be.... I'd fail what Sumire wanted me to be."

His breathing went slower.

"I just want to say that..."

And slower.

"... I may have forgotten a lot of things and made you feel betrayed, but..."

And slower.

"... I have never ever forgotten about you and your love to me."

And slower.

"I love you, Akira Kurusu. You can rest easy now."

The breathing finally stopped. Kasumi couldn't hold it in anymore and cried as Akechi punctured the Phantom Thieves banner with his fist.

"We succeeded.... but at what cost?"

Kasumi never stopped crying until she fell asleep. Akechi pulled her body up and lets her lay down on the couch. It was his turn now for the eulogy.

"Akira.... When we first met, I knew you were one of the most interesting people I've ever met. Even during my days as Shido's attack dog, I was already contemplating whether I should kill you or not. A part of me said that you're the closest I've had to family... And turns out, it wasn't wrong."

He places his dagger next to him.

"This blade symbolizes your sharp sense of justice in the most unorthodox form. Even if your goals weren't for the best intentions back then, I had hope that you would one day save us all from the damned cruelty of society."

He pats his dead friend's shoulder, head hanging in guilt and sadness.

"Goodbye, old friend. Until we meet again." He sits on front of the couch and looks at Kasumi, whose face still showed sadness in the heartbreak she had indirectly caused.

Months later, more events occurred as the Phantom Thieves of Earth XX began remembering things: Tojou Niijima and Wakaba Ishiiki dies during an operation while putting Sojiro into a coma, thus letting Makoto and Futaba remember the pain of losing their loved ones; Ann has been told to see a psychiatrist as people began calling her a schizophrenic person, causing her to finally remember that Shiho died because she avoided Kamoshida the day before she died; Ryuji is suddenly stripped of the scholarship offer after one of the sponsors happened to recognize and insult his mother, making him remember why he's doing the Phantom Thief business. As everyone set out to find out why, Ann goes into regression and depression as she begins to put the bullet in the gun that would begin the events of now.....

 

Present day, March 26, 20XX

Location: Coach Hiraguchi's house, Jinbocho - Earth X
Time: 1045 hours

 

Kasumi wakes up to find herself in someone else's bed and her torso wrapped around with medical gauze. Sitting up, she sees multiple medals hanging on a wall as she tries to get off of bed without alerting anyone. She makes her way to the living room to escape on for a small creak to give herself away.

"I see you're awake now, Kasumi."

Coach Hiraguchi, although still surprised since she found her, turns around and offers her food. Kasumi approached the table with a limp, realizing that she must have sprained her knee again.

"After two years, you suddenly came back from the dead. I can't even believe it." She wipes her face with a small towel. "If it has got to do with those monsters attacking your twin and your father two days ago, then I could be in for a treat."

"Nice to see you too, Coach." Kasumi sarcastically greeted her.

"Well, let's just go straight to the point. Your twin has won championships to honor you and found a boyfriend to be inspired by, and here you are covered in blood and bullets. Which contradicts the manner on how you died."

Before Kasumi could respond, there was knocking on the door. As Hiraguchi opened it, she sees Ren and Sumire gasping for breath.

"Don't tell me the two of you ran your way here."

"We.... did...."

"Sor....ry.... Coach...."

She shook her head and guided them to the dining room where Kasumi just finished her meal.

"Kasumi, meet your sister and her-"

"Boyfriend. We already met."

Coach Hiraguchi now showed a confused look.

"I'll explain, if it's alright with you."

Kasumi and Ren nodded as they allowed Sumire to tell Hiraguchi the whole truth, even if it meant compromising themselves. After hearing everything, she only had a few things to say.

"That explains why you've missed nearly two weeks of practice and survived your exams."

"Yeah, sorry about that."

"As for your Phantom Thief business... how long have you been with them?"

Ren answered her question to save Sumire from getting tongue-tied. "Well, she's an on-and-off member. You know... gymnastics and all."

"I see. So this Kasumi I'm looking at... is the surviving Yoshizawa twin in her world?"

"Yeah."

She looks at Kasumi. "I take it you failed to save your sister on time?"

Kasumi looked down. "Yes...."

"So what's this all about then? Coz Sumire is already saved thanks to you."

"I'm just here to prevent a similar phenomenon from happening here in this world after it destroyed mine."

"And you're unsure whether you could accomplish it or not?"

Kasumi nodded, showing a downcast expression.

Hiraguchi placed her hand on Kasumi's (pained) shoulder. "Look, I've experienced Sumire feeling the same way as you are right now. I mean, she pretended to be you for nearly a year. But I'm not here to talk to you as your Coach, but as your closest friend. Whatever it is you're doing, I'm not gonna stop you. But if things are too much, don't hesitate to rest, alright? If you keep pushing yourself to finishing this mission without regarding your health, then you might not be well enough to see it come into fruition."

Sumire and Ren stayed quiet as Kasumi looked at her.

"And what if I fail, despite how well I am?"

"No more what ifs. You need to be confident in yourself at this point." She pats her shoulder, to which she apologizes after Kasumi winced in pain.

Coach heads upstairs to find a shirt for Kasumi to wear, giving the time to Ren and Sumire as they took their turn in talking.

"I never knew Coach here was so caring." Kasumi commented.

"She wasn't in your world?" Sumire inquired.

"No, she acted like a drill sergeant in a military camp."

"I wonder if you stayed under her training back in your world." Ren scratched his head as he gave Sumire a glass of water.

"Nope. I quit a week before we stormed into Niijima's Palace."

"We're just glad you're okay, Kasumi." Sumire carefully hugged her as Ren then went to the big question.

"Where were you when we, uh, you know..."

Kasumi's concerned look became a teasing one as she realized they went dodgy.

"Oh, so you finally did it, huh?"

"Kasumi?"

"You know, the little rind-and-grind?"

"Kasumi!" Sumire began blushing hard as her faux twin laughed.

"Alright, alright. Your team kinda had my ass handed after Manahashi screwed me and Morgana during battle."

Ren winced as she gave more details. Sumire notices Coach return with the clothes.

"You know I can hear your little chat down here." She turned to Ren and Sumire as Kasumi changed. "Seemed like you had fun on your birthday, Sumire."

"W-W-Wait, C-Coach! I c-c-can explain about t-t-that!" Redder and redder did Sumire blush while Ren turned red as he whistled his way out of awkwardness.

"Relax. I'm not the type who wants gossip like Kasumi here. (Hey!) Just be careful, okay? Especially you, Sumire, since you owe me two weeks of training."

Ren thanked her sincerely while Sumire hung her head in shame for the payback she will be doing.

 

The trio bade Coach Hiraguchi farewell as they reunite with Shiho, Akechi, Morgana, and Maruki. After inquiring about Koromaru, Ren leaves a text for Narukami to pick up the wounded dog as they decide to take a break.

Chapter Text

March 26, 20XX

Location: Asakusa
Time: 1730 hours

 

After dropping by the Yoshizawa residence to let Kasumi and Sumire rest there, Ren, Shiho, Akechi, Morgana, and Maruki head for Asakusa to discuss their plans regarding the sudden civil war between Mitsuru's league of extraordinary heroes. Being as private as they can, the group enters a newly-opened teriyaki bar and made their orders.

"Now... for the good news and bad news." Maruki made his announcement.

"Let's start with the bad news, Doc." Ren stated.

"Kirijo-san re-enhanced the Sacrificial Lamb project and reduced the number of Persona users need to just two."

"So she's gunning for the Wild Cards." Morgana whispered.

"So they're going to hunt down Narukami and Ren instead?" Shiho asked.

"Yeah, most likely. With Yu Narukami having very strong Personas and Amamiya-san here having slightly stronger Personas (Ouch, my pride.) in their hands, there is no guarantee that they'll go easy on you." Maruki gave them a cold warning, which didn't faze Ren or Akechi.

"If they're gonna get Amamiya, they will have to go through me." Akechi bragged as he remembered the carnage he created earlier.

"Whatever you say, Akechi."

After finishing their food, they remain seated to get their food digested without haste. Shiho catches Mishima by the corner of her eye and ducks her head as said boy walks up to Ren.

"Oh, Amamiya! You're here!" He turns to Maruki, then Akechi. "Oh, Doctor Maruki is here too!"

"Nice to see you too, Mishima-san."

"And who's this?"

"The name's Jasone. Jasone Watson." It was for good reasons that Akechi used his disguise; otherwise, Mishima's big mouth could compromise the entire mission.

Mishima stared at Akechi quizzically. "What are you, some pop star?"

"In a way, yes."

"Weird. Never thought you'd be this famous. But then again, the TV station visit was more awesome than I thought."

Maruki and Akechi tensed, but Ren waved them off.

"Well, it's glad to see you here! But..."

All four (Morgana included) stared at him as he looks at Shiho, who is still hiding her face from him and even removed her signature ponytail.

"... aren't you gonna wake your friend up?"

Shiho immediately buzzed them a similar message: Don't even think about it. Do something!

"Well, she's all tuckered out. She's been crying because the guy she fell in love with was already taken by someone who was cuter than her."

Akechi shakes his head in disbelief while Maruki smiled at Ren's acting. Morgana, however, just kept eating the fish pieces that dropped.

"Oh, I see. Well, keep her happy like how you keep Yoshizawa-san happy, okay?"

"Sure, man. See ya around."

Mishima waved and went on his way. The moment Ren turned back to Shiho, he received a huge slap to the face. This caused Akechi, Morgana, and Maruki to laugh.

"You just HAD to pull my confession card, huh?" Shiho's blood boiled, but she was also feeling heat on her cheeks.

"If I said anything else, Mishima WILL bug you until you wake up." He pointed out how much of an idiot Mishima is sometimes.

"The least you can do was not rub it on my face."

"I owe you some free time when this is over. Okay?" Ren proposed to keep her calm again.

"Penguin Sniper. 501. You pay everything."

"Deal."

Akechi slapped his face. "Oh, boy."

"At any rate," Morgana pounced next to Ren, "this will be considered a suicide mission if we don't figure this out fast."

"Kasumi is doing this to save our world, remember? Have faith in her." Shiho scolded him.

Maruki then brought up Kasumi into the conversation.

"By the way, how is Kasumi-san?"

Ren explained to them about what happened earlier. "Well, after she got hammered by her Manahashi, she got a run-in with Ann and the others. They had one hell of a fight, and she had a couple of bullet holes on her."

Akechi's icy tone was out of impulse. "Does the bitch remember how to use a healing spell?"

"Akechi!"

"Akechi-san, please. Not the right time."

They looked around to see if anyone heard him, but as they returned their gaze, they notice a small note.

Sky Tower. 8 pm.

"Someone left this here." Maruki picked up the note.

"Anyway, you were saying?" Shiho cued the resumption of the story.

"So Coach Hiraguchi finds her and mistook her for a zombified Kasumi." Shiho slapped his arm. "Then Sumi and I arrived and gave her the truth."

"Just how many people will you keep sharing your identity as a Phantom Thief to?" Akechi sounded unhappy.

"They find out eventually. So I gotta pick the wisest option."

"Not even wise at all."

"Whatever you say, Captain Gunslinger."

The group then makes their way to the Sky Tower at the exact time. There, they meet up with Yu Narukami, who happens to be alone.

"Narukami-san?"

"Hey, guys."

"What are you doing here? Where's Rise?"

"Sleeping in her condominium near Ikebukuro. I decided to leave her alone for a while to discuss things."

As the team listened to Narukami, Ren noticed his bag glowing. Yu sees this and stops talking for a second.

"What's going on with your bag?"

"The star!" Morgana held the star as he popped out of the bag.

"Why do you, uh, have a wishing star with you?" Yu is suddenly confused and amazed.

"We have a friend named Jose who gives us wishing stars. It's a bit complicated to explain further." Ren told him, earning a nod of understanding from Yu.

"But why is it glowing though?"

Without anyone's warning, Jose spawns behind Maruki.

"It's because it's presenting itself to its new owner."

"Damnit, Egghead!" Akechi glared at him.

"Take it easy on him, Akechi." Yu held him off as he knelt down to Jose. "Hello there."

"Hi there, Bigger Bro!"

Shiho snorted and laughed at his new nickname. Then she decided to joke around.

"He's not Bigger Bro, little one. He is our leader. Wooooooooo!"

"I'm not an alien, pretty lady."

Shiho pouted after her fun was short-lived. "I appreciate you calling me pretty lady, even if you did kill my vibe."

Jose then looked back at Yu. "Big Bro's star has chosen you as its new owner!"

"But why me and not him?" Yu pointed to Ren.

"Big Bro already made his wish. I think it was to 'keep moving and changing the world, even if it hurts'."

"I don't seem to comprehend." Maruki now wanted to know what Ren's wish was.

"He wished for his friends and family to be headstrong and accepting towards reality, but he didn't want them to forget about your sacrifices too." Jose looked at Akechi. "You are part of his wish, Other Big Bro!"

Akechi was then baffled by Jose's words and looked at Ren. Everyone else followed.

"I remember now... I couldn't leave you to stay dead, but it didn't also mean I would let you walk away free. So aside from wishing everyone to accept a reality where we do not submit to our desires nor surrender them to whoever or whatever can control us, I placed you in that wish for you to start a new life."

Everyone remained quiet and pondered. Maruki and Akechi felt it as personal.

It seems that he brought him back from the dead for good reasons. Sometimes, I am fascinated by how your mind and heart partners together, Amamiya-san. Maruki thought sincerelty.

He brought me back here to make me a new man. Flattering, but my rivalry with you still stands. Thank you and damn you, Ren. Akechi thought smugly.

"What? I gave out the best reasoning I had that could be about Akechi's second revival and you all stay quiet?" Ren spoke irritatingly as if he was talking to a wall. He looked at Jose again. "So why did it glow?"

"Because it is near his wishing time!"

"Wait, now we have specific times to wish now?" Yu smiled amusingly. "It really is a wishing star."

As soon as Yu finished saying that, Shiho checked her star as it glowed as well albeit with a different color.

"Hey, my glow is giving off a light blue color." Jose looked as he then explained to Yu.

"When the owner finally holds the star, it gives off a light blue glow to indicate that your wish is coming soon. If it doesn't glow, it means it is not within the owner's grasp."

Morgana then blurted out. "When you put it that way, our stars must have glowed during our third awakenings."

"What do you mean, Mona?" Ren looked at the cat as he spoke out his deductions.

"We all have our resolves, right? Ryuji has one, Lady Ann has one, heck even I have one! But yours took longer to glow. If remember right, you only had Showtimes with Akechi and Sumire prior to the one you showed off with Shiho."

"So meaning Ren has more than one resolve."

"Correct!"

"You know, Amamiya-san, you're free to talk to us when something is bothering you." Maruki offered, with Ren giving a soft, sincere grin.

"When the time's right, Doc. I mean, you really did a great job with Shiho though."

"Ren Amamiya, I swear to God...."

Ignoring the banter, Yu looks at his wishing star as Jose watched him.

"Do you have a wish yet?"

"... No. Not yet. But how long will these glow?" Yu hid his secret wish and immediately inquired more about the star.

"It will glow when you have the power to make your own resolve, Bigger Bro."

Yu stares at the star as he began thinking through with his wish. He was interrupted when Ren asked him to resume their discussion. Yu looked for Jose, but the little eggman disappeared.

"Where did he-"

"He does that sometimes." Ren shrugged coolly.

"Alright, before Jose interrupted me," Yu began to start their short meeting, "I want you guys to make your team officially go off the grid. Get them out of our tails."

"You read our minds. Go on." Ren and Yu shared serious expressions as the latter continued.

"They got their asses handed by Kasumi Yoshizawa. And I also heard that they are having an extracurricular mission to have you tell them the truth. So I'm saying give them what they want."

"You sure that they'll screw off if we do?" Shiho asked with uncertainty.

"It's a possibility. But if they go after us even after learning the truth, then it can't be helped."

"So what's the primary concern?" Maruki looked at him with an inquisitive look.

"At one hand, we are delaying the inevitable. Today was the supposed day of reckoning, according to the hieroglyphics we saw in Nayami, but it was just pure bullshit all along."

"On another, it could be just baiting. And we're the ones who will start the apocalypse."

"We can handle ourselves and lessen the possible casualty count. To make it worse, Manahashi managed to convince Mitsuru to install a kill order that any Persona user entering Kirijo Fortress will be immediately shot and absorbed for his or her power."

"Survival chances are?"

"10%."

"So this is gonna get tougher and tougher." Shiho murmured to herself as she learns more and more on operations like this.

"We'll figure out a way. I mean, we do have a way in now. And she is expecting us."

Ren's tough-as-nails bravery somehow bested Yu's strict-but-sincere conviction, and both smiled with respect to each other.

"So.... what's your way in?"

"Not what. Who."

They all look at Shiho, who then cursed under breath as she was selected to play bait again.

"Fuck."

 

Location: LeBlanc Cafe, Yongen Jaya
Time: 2000 hours

 

Ann and Futaba managed to reserve the evening for a Thieves-only meeting. They decided to spare Zenkichi the trouble by letting him contact Kyoto Police for his personal matters.

"Okay, so now we that we are all here...." Futaba began as Ann cut her off to get to the point.

"We have a new clue among our knowledge."

"You stole my thunder!" Futaba hissed.

"What is it, Ann?" Makoto ignored the gremlin's complaints as Ann debriefs them.

"From what Hasegawa-san told me and Futaba, the Kirijo Corporation is getting deadlier by the second as the Sacrificial Lamb project we just learned about today is the cause of all the Shadow attacks in Kyoto, Nayami, Hiroshima, Setsumagi, and right here in Tokyo. They weaponized the thing to only two Persona users now, possibly Ren and another Wild Card."

"Dude, not only is this some sci-fi bullshit... but this sounds really scary." Ryuji admitted.

"I agree with Ryuji. From how we encountered those soldiers back in the Platinum Star, they were deadset on getting us specifically." Makoto said as Yusuke retorted while copying the painting of Mitsuru.

"But we are not Wild Card users, therefore we do not hold such value unless it is their necessity."

"I am aware of that, Yusuke. But we can't let this go alone and in the hands of both Narukami-san's team and Ren's team."

"So what are you trying to say, Mako-chan?" Haru tilted her head.

"We need to find Ren. Make him tell us the truth of all this. And then convince him to let us through with his plan."

"But what if he fights us? Or if his team and Mona would say otherwise?"

"Futaba, this is Ren we're talking about. If he fights, the rest will do the same unless ordered not to."

"The guy should also be aware of his clone though."

Everyone stayed quiet once again until Ann debunked the theory.

"No, he surely lied to you on that one. I know the Ren I fell for has his way with words, and that Joker on TV was most certainly, absolutely, positively HIM."

"And the Ren I fell for isn't one to show off his bravado on national television unless he wants to. Remember the time you all had your social studies field trip and how he challenged Akechi on the Phantom Thieves' justice?" Makoto added.

"And the Ren I fell in love with has his bizarre ways to show how much he cares for all of us by putting himself ahead to spare everyone else from trouble." Haru chimed.

"Blech, you are all trying to something nice about him so you don't get a personal grudge." Futaba chastised them as they retreated to their seats with shades of red on their cheeks.

"Hey, Yusuke." Ryuji called him out.

"Yes?"

"You still got that deal with Kirijo, right?"

"I still do. Why?"

"How much did she pay for you? Coz you never went out shopping for food and clothes aside from your usual art crap."

Everyone turned around and realized Ryuji wasn't kidding.

"Holy crap, Inari! How rich did ya get from just painting someone naked!?"

"It somewhat deviated from the actual thing in a way," he enlightened them as he finishes the copy, "but she was amazed enough to give me a large amount of money to provide me with what I need."

"Damn, I need cash too...." Ryuji turned to Ann, who raised a fist before he could even say something. Futaba, however....

"Well, Ann can get richer with just the push of a button...."

"FUTABA ISHIIKI SAKURA!"

Everyone except Makoto wondered what the exchange was about. Queen snapped them out of their issues and went back to focus at the task at hand.

"Tomorrow, we'll follow Yoshizawa-san to Shujin for her training. Then we'll make her accompany us to their meet-up point."

"Kinda like what you did to us back in your pro-Kobayakawa days, Makoto." Yusuke brought back memories which then triggered a short argument. Haru then takes a look at the painting and gains an idea.

"Yusuke-kun, how do you plan on going there?"

"By taking the train to the address of her location."

"Inari, you moron! There are no trains that go to Kirijo Fortress!"

"No, but there is a limo that can carry a capacity of 8 people inside." Haru cocked her eyebrows and gave a smug grin. "If we can try getting some answers while Yusuke and I accompany Kirijo-san, we'll be doing Ren a favor and save him from getting in trouble again!"

"Haru, you know that he's a walking danger magnet." Makoto sighed. 'Regardless, we'll take Haru's idea after we confront Ren. Yusuke, can you make the call to Mitsuru Kirijo and inform her that you'll be arriving to the fortress at night?"

"I'll see what I can do."

"Ann, your flight home is in less than 4 days."

Everyone stared an Ann after Ryuji blurted out the now-bad news. She sighed in disappointment as she sipped on her coffee.

"I'm gonna apologize ahead if we don't finish this mission on time. It's just.... a lot has been happening, and all I wanted was a simple getaway with you guys."

Futaba then grinned as she got an idea.

"Y'know, you don't have to go with us on this one."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"The only people who can actually have a legit reason for Kirijo to not suspect us is Yusuke, Haru, and Makoto."

"Wait, what do I have got to do with this?"

"Remember that your sister is now a defense attorney?"

"Yes, but we are not going to let her defend a possible terrorist."

"Who said anything about letting that happen in reality?"

Makoto stayed quiet as she hummed louder and louder until she realized it.

"So we're just gonna pretend I'm proposing a defense attorney on behalf of Sis."

"While Yusuke is busy with Kirijo's holy painting and Haru going to probably mess around with some stuff."

"I'm not that naive and curious, Futaba-chan." Haru felt offended by Futaba's short description of her role.

"As for Ann, Ryuji, and I.... we'll be on the evening waves and try to pass on some info to Hasegawa-san and Yukari-san for this."

Makoto observed how Futaba intentionally left out Yu. "But what about Narukami-san?"

"He's in cahoots with Ren and his team. So were Sanada-san and Risette."

Futaba played a clip of Ren and Sumire having dinner with Yu, Rise, and Akihiko.

"Although that jamming device ruined my hacking, picking up this baby from one of the Kirijo-sponsored tech was good enough for me to crack and compromise what was going on."

Yusuke replayed the video. "Hold a moment. That man passing up to Sanada-san."

Everyone squinted as Futaba decided to enhance the quality.

"You could have done that sooner?"

"Shut up, Ryuji."

Ann's eyes widened as she pointed out one of the figures in the video. "Hey, I know him! He served me that weird parfait last night."

Makoto analyzed his facial appearance.

"He seems to look like Akechi, in a way. But more Western-looking."

Ann muttered away from earshot. "Better him than that weirdo Teddie and Morgana."

"We need to find more witnesses we can possibly trace, Futaba." Makoto ordered.

"It's gonna take a while...." She gave her a precaution.

"Just do it."

As Futaba began a run on the devices, it is what she expected.

"Jammer range went this far? Not even during the moment Ren and Sumire went-"

"FUTABA." Ann and Makoto forced her to quit the line of thought.

"Alright, alright. Would have been cool to see how it went."

"Sometimes, you're outright perverted for someone your gender." Yusuke chided her.

"Well, it was what I expected. There were only a few places that the jamming device didn't handle: the dining hall, the Jacuzzi, and the Room 420."

"Wait, Mitsuru's room wasn't hacked? How come we can't see the footage?"

"Whoever is Ren's new hacker, he's got a lot of skills to stop me from hacking into the whole place and finding traces or clues." Futaba growled as she typed a few more codes to bypass the jammer for Room 420.

"I remember seeing Berlin's face after I smacked her." Ann brought up what she recalled about earlier. "She had some sort of beauty mark on her face that I've seen before."

"A beauty mark?"

"Yeah. But I can't tell who has a similar one like hers."

Yusuke stood up and asked Ann for the song sheet. He carefully analyzed the lyrics and returned it to Ann.

"It seems she will stop at nothing to accomplish what 'her light' would want her to do."

Ryuji took a turn in looking at the lyrics. "Damn, the song seems sad, now that you think about it."

Ann then shared to them what Kasumi told her. For the most part, they considered her situation and laid off her for a short while.

"So it's like a redemption arc for her." Futaba simply put it like that.

"In a way."

"This mission is getting more confusing for every new discovery we get." Makoto sighed as she finished her coffee.

"At the very least, let's summarize what we have to do now." Haru informed them. "Yusuke, Mako-chan, and I will head over directly to Kirijo-san while Ann-chan and the rest stay here in LeBlanc to hear in on what's going on and watching what's in store."

Ryuji was about to ask about Sumire and Kasumi, but Haru beat him to it. "As for Sumire-chan, we'll tail her tomorrow before and after her practice to avoid any suspicion that we are looking into her. For the mystery girl once known as Millee, we just have to wait until she appears so we can ask her by full force."

"That was a great summary, Haru. I'm impressed." Makoto can't help but give out an applause. "No objections?"

After the meeting has been adjourned, Ann laid on Ren's old bed and stared at his stuff on the shelf. She pulls out her phone and looks at a picture of her and him after her photoshoot in Odaiba, which was oddly a few days before Sumire got sucked into the Palace for the first time.

"If only you told us the truth, Ren.... you big fucking liar." She closes her phone and sleeps it off.

 

Location: Kirijo Fortress, 50 kilometers SW of Tokyo
Time: 2330

 

Mitsuru stares at her bedroom window as she waits for Manahashi X, Manahashi XX, and Maruki XX to discuss about their next move. Right on cue, the three arrive but on hostile terms.

"We are not gonna gain anything if Ren Amamiya and Yu Narukami will not submit to our demands even if we place a knife on their eye!" Manahashi X exclaimed.

"Your anxiety will not bring us anywhere, Kenzo X. We need to ascertain our success even if it means killing their closest ones for them to break." Manahashi XX proudly remarked.

"Yet we cannot let them break or else the project will be a failure. I prefer a more diplomatic yet threatening approach like how Miss Kirijo does it." Maruki XX commented as he slapped Mitsuru in the butt. "Shall we begin now?"

"Don't get too touchy." She grunted as they sat on the chairs she prepared for them.

"Seems like they won't back down on this one. As I expected." Mitsuru began to elaborate to the three diabolical men. "Amamiya and his crew will go after me at one time while Narukami and his team will do the same on another time. If they are practicing caution, so should we."

"Kirijo, you should have disposed of Sanada-san earlier than before. You knew he was gonna turn on you and-"

"That was an unpredictable reaction. If I had known he saved Sumire Yoshizawa rather than let her go, I would have already branded him a traitor from the very start!"

"So that's why you didn't blackmail him. You had your suspicions." Manahashi XX drank his coffee as Mitsuru stopped walking back and forth.

"Yes, and apparently they held true."

"So what do you plan now?"

Mitsuru then hears her phone going off. Maruki XX picks it up and tosses it to her bed.

"It's Kitagawa."

Mitsuru swipes the accept logo and begins talking on loudspeaker.

"Mr. Kitagawa... what a surprise for you to call me at this time."

"My apologies, but I have some news for you regarding our artwork together."

"Wait, you're done already?"

"Of course. To my shock, I was able to replicate your nude painting in just one try."

"Seems like your talents are finally paying off."

"Agreed. The huge amount of money you gave is enough for three months worth of living."

"Three? But that amount is only worth a month and a half."

"True, but I seem to be tight on my budget as to make sure I have enough money for more art supplies."

Mitsuru pinched her forehead while the men furrowed their eyebrows.

"So what time will you be coming here?"

"Maybe around the evening. I just searched up the address and found no trains en route to your destination."

"I'll send over a team to pick you up."

"No need. I asked my friend Haru Okumura to give me a lift to your place."

"Excellent. If you don't mind, why not you and Okumura-san join me for dinner as means of repayment?"

"It would be an honor, Mitsuru-san."

"I'll see you tomorrow night then."

Mitsuru then ends the call and sighs. Manahashi X approaches her with a devious look on his face.

"We can use those two to lure out Amamiya and force him to give himself up."

"My dear counterpart," Manahashi XX spoke with a better idea. "how about we invite them all over here?"

A part of Mitsuru shivered at the idea. Is he seriously considering kidnapping them?

"But of course! How should we do it?"

Maruki XX stopped their train of thought and ruined it by giving out the facts. "We cannot simply call them altogether for a single dinner. They're all perceptive, and that's what makes the Phantom Thieves dangerous. The moment they see the red flag rising, they burn it instead of running away. And you know what I mean by that."

Manahashi XX smacked his back with joy, causing him to drop his glasses. "I am glad I have chosen you as my advisor. Come, let us have a drink."

"I take it the meeting is done?" Mitsuru nods as she stares out the window again. After the men leave her room, rain began to pour hard. Mitsuru looked at the now-gloomy sky as she ponders on the sudden pace of plans.

Kitagawa and Okumura may be Amamiya's teammates, but it seems they have no idea about his actions or his mission. It's best to leave it that way... but what about Narukami? For the past few years, I considered him as a great leader and praised him for his intelligence and wisdom. But his stand with the Phantom Thieves is completely the most flawed decision he has made in years...

Lightning flashed as she saw the reflection of her father.

Father.... your actions and ideology caused the Shadow phenomenon to begin. Even though I am your only daughter, I can't help but condemn you for bringing us this burden to protect Japan from something like this. Although, I can't condemn you entirely for you were only a tool for -

Lightning flashed again and this time, she saw Shuji Ikutski's reflection.

Shuji Ikutski.

"What am I doing?....."

 

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 2355 hours

 

Kasumi wakes up hours after bedtime. She notices Sumire sleeping with her hair in her mouth and giggles a bit before fixing her twin's sleep posture. She makes her way downstairs to brew some coffee while trying to remember how Akira made them for her to enjoy.

"Was it medium-fine or extra-fine?" she muttered as she turned to the kitchen to see Jose trying to reach for the cupboard.

"Hello?" she curiously called his attention as he turned around and stopped jumping.

"Oh, hi! You must be the other pretty girl. The best sister in the world!" Jose happily spoke as Kasumi felt flattered.

"Well, I'm still on my way to becoming the best sister in the world." She bends down on her knees and pats his head. "Who might you be?"

"My name is Jose, and I'm feeling hungry right now."

"Don't worry, Jose. I'll make ya something for you to eat."

"Yay!"

Kasumi smiled as if she was taking care of her own kid. Oh, Akira... I wish you are not looking down on me with that teasing smug grin of yours at this time.

She pulls out a few bacon strips and apple slices as she is now intended to make her special curry dish.

"What are those?"

"They're called bacon strips. They're made of pork, which is from pigs."

"Cool. I can't wait."

Jose then noticed his satchel being too big and removes a wishing star out of the bag. "Big Bro was right about this being heavy."

Kasumi finishes cooking the curry and brewing the coffee as she and Jose share a meal together. She notices the star on the table and asked.

"Hey, Jose."

"Yes?"

"What is this star for?"

Jose gobbled down a few more scoops of curry before explaining what it is. "That's a wishing star."

"For real!?" Kasumi was amazed that Jose gave her a wishing star that has magical powers.

"Yeah. Do you want it?"

"Of course I do!" Kasumi grabs the star and tries to shake it. "Does this function like a genie's lamp or something?"

"What's a genie?"

Kasumi stared at him wide-eyed and blinked. "You don't know what it is?"

Kasumi spent an hour teaching Jose cool stuff (for him, at least) whereas Jose shared her facts about flowers in return.

"You seem to love flowers so much. How cute!"

"Yeah, Big Bro says that it's not girly to like flowers anyway."

"Who is this Big Bro you're talking about?" Kasumi began to feel adventurous in her questions.

"He has frizzy hair, gray eyes, and a weird cat. His name is Ren."

Kasumi then wondered for a while, but perished the thought as she looked at the star again.

"How will the star work?"

"It will give a light blue glow to its new owner." As if on cue, it glowed. "Just like that."

"And then?"

"It will glow yellow on the moment your wish is possible to happen."

Kasumi frowned. "Aw, man."

"It's okay, Big Sis."

"... Big Sis?"

"Of course! I call many ladies pretty ladies, so I wanna call you Big Sis instead."

Kasumi felt a heartstring getting tugged. "Well, feel free to call me your Big Sis then."

"Kasumi?"

The two hear Sumire's sleepy voice as she approaches them downstairs.

"May I borrow the bathroom?"

"Sure thing."

As Jose runs to the bathroom, Sumire arrives at the bottom of the stairs.

"Who are you eating with?"

"Someone named Jose."

Sumire puts on her glasses and finds a wishing star in her hands.

"He gave you a wishing star?"

"Yeah. I dunno why, but I suddenly feel hopeful about it."

Sumire rubbed her head. "What do you mean?"

"I can finally wish everyone to come back in my world!"

Sumire couldn't help but give a smile. "That's great! I hope that the star would glow at the right time."

"Huh?"

"We still have to stop a madman, remember?"

Kasumi's excitement dropped as she remembered the reason why she came to their world. "R-Right."

A few minutes passed, and Jose did not come out.

"Jose? You okay in there?"

Sumire remained quiet as she figured out what Jose did. Kasumi walks to the bathroom and finds it empty.

"I knew it! He is magic!"

Sumire laughed as she brought the dirty plates and mug to the sink.

"Good job, sis."

For Kasumi, she is now determined to use the star to wish everyone back in her world. For Sumire, she is determined to make sure Kasumi gets her life back.

 

March 27, 20XX

Location: Sunrise Residences, Suidobashi
Time: 0230 hours

 

Ren was sleeping peacefully in his bed until Shiho opts to sleep with him instead. Fortunately, nothing malicious happened because...

"Did she really have to kick me that hard out of my bed? Come on now." He rubbed his head after falling for the fifth time. He stands up and repositions Shiho's sleep posture as he lays back into the bed.

"Daisuke just had to sleep on her bed. Idiot."

He goes back to sleep and hoped for Shiho not to kick him again. As he fell into deep slumber, he can feel a cold breeze running in his head as he wakes up in his Phantom Thief attire (without his mask) as he hears a familiar voice that he has missed for quite a while.

"Welcome back, Trickster."

"Lavenza." He gave a gentle smile.

"It seems we may have reached you out a bit later than projected. On behalf of the Velvet Room, I apologize for the delay."

Ren pats her head, then ruffles her hair. "Don't sweat it. At least you're here now to assist me and-"

"Yeah, I know. Me too."

Yu Narukami stands behind Lavenza wearing a grand gentleman's suit. For what Ren could guess, it could be his attire if he were a Phantom Thief.

"Nice suit, Narukami."

"Thanks, but nothing beats your dark, debonair style."

"Come on, I would die for my suit to be as clean as yours."

"Are we done with our complimentary remarks?" Lavenza interrupted the two as she had to make the briefing quick. "Listen carefully, you are both bound to get caught in the spider's web. Although this is a bad idea, it is a good move in a sense."

"How is it good in a sense?" Yu asked seriously.

"This would put into challenge the other Persona users present. Only when the danger is at its strongest do the power of your bonds grow at its strongest as well."

"So it would convince them to turn their back on the Sacrificial Lamb project?"

"Yes. However, I strongly advise against doing that idea. Your mission altogether is to prevent it from happening, not allow it and summon chaos to the world just to make yourselves look heroic."

Ren and Yu avoided her glare as she gave one more warning.

"Be warned, however, that if the doomsday has befallen upon you all.... there can only be a spoonful of Persona users left alive to finish the ordeal."

The alarm blares as Lavenza looks at them.

"Remember my words, Wild Cards. Do not lose this battle for us."

Chapter Text

March 27, 20XX

Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 0715 hours

 

"A large manhunt is now issued against Kirijo Corporation president Mitsuru Kirijo, United Front of Japan member Kenzo Manahashi, and several other cohorts after a terrorist attack has occurred in the Platinum Star Sponsorship Ball which Kirijo herself was one of the top benefactors of the event. Witnesses claimed that Manahashi was after Ren Amamiya, the boy who gained fame for overturning a case against Masayoshi Shido; Sumire Yoshizawa, a rhythmic gymnast who has recently won several events and is the confirmed love interest of Mr. Amamiya; Goro Akechi, the long-dead Second Detective Prince who fell from grace after being involved in a series of murders under Shido's orders; and Yu Narukami, an up-and-coming private investigator known for assisting Inaba Police in the arrest of now-deceased psychopath Tohru Adachi. Manahashi and Kirijo are now held responsible for the deaths of over 90 people, including children..."

"Jeez, girls." Shinichi rubbed his temples in disbelief. "You just had to make things harder than I thought."

"Sorry, Dad." Sumire scratched her head. "It just happened all of a sudden."

"An earlier report stated that Hiroshima Mayor Takasi has been murdered in his office a few days ago after he was somewhat struck with a large cylinder to the torso in his sleep. Suspicions went to Kirijo's Anti-shadow Countermeasure Service, who were supposed to be responsible for maintaining Hiroshima from the recent kaiju attacks. Kyoto Police released a statement that Kirijo equipment were spotted in the University of Kyoto as she has now gained the title "The Executioner" for her sudden authoritative actions and merciless demeanor in public."

"So, Sumire.... you owe Coach Hiraguchi two weeks of training?"

Sumire smiled and laughed awkwardly as she slumped down her chair.

"She's in trouble big time." Kasumi blurted out smugly.

"Thanks, Kasumi. Real helpful."

"So what will you do for the rest of the day, Kasumi? It's obvious you will garner too much attention if you go with her to Shujin." Shinichi asked her strictly.

"Well, Sumire said that Coach wants me to watch her. Then I have to give out my judgment about her performance."

Shinichi felt dumb and remembered about the Olympic qualifying rounds after Hanaki spoke about it.

"I forgot that was next month."

"Is the school treating you kindly after what happened, Sumire?" Her mother asked since she became aware of her daughter's involvement over the past few weeks.

"Yeah. Despite what's happening, they're not bullying me or anything."

Kasumi looks at the clock and gestures her twin to finish up. As Sumire went to shower, Kasumi kept her eyes on the family photos as Hanaki whispered to her.

"You miss them, do you?"

Kasumi nods her head and looks at the star in her hand.

"After all this, I'll make sure everyone in my world comes back. You, Dad, Akira, Sumire..."

She began to feel arms wrapped around her.

"You'll get them back. I believe in you with the greatest intentions."

Kasumi smiled as she hugged Hanaki back. Shinichi returns with her disguise.

"Remind me how on Earth did you manage to portray a blind German-Japanese girl, an indie singer, and now... a gymnastics judge without garnering attention."

"A Phantom Thief never reveals the secrets."

"I thought it was magician."

The family chuckled as Sumire finished up bathing and dressing up for practice. Kasumi picks up the rifles and stashes them onto Maruki's taxi.

"You're not serious on bringing the guns into school grounds, right?" Maruki frowned in concern.

"Just in case we run in to any enemies. Otherwise, the guns stay inside." Sumire reassured him.

"That doesn't sound fully reassuring."

 

Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 0800 hours

 

Ann, Ryuji, and Futaba watch the gates in the alleyway while Yusuke, Haru, and Makoto pretend to be bystanders taking a drink in the vending machines as they wait for Sumire to arrive. The gymnast arrives in the short passageway to Shujin as she notices the group present.

"Hi, guys!" She gave out a warm greeting.

"Hey, Sumire!" Ann approached her and gave her a slight hug. "I'm still sorry for my outbursts back in the TV station and in the Platinum Star."

"It's fine. What brings you guys here though?"

"Well," Ryuji tried to come up with an alibi, "we just miss Shujin, y'know? It felt empty leaving the place behind despite what happened there."

"Yeah, I mean when I moved to New York to continue there... I felt like an outcast again."

"I see. Well, I gotta head for practice."

"Is it okay if we watched you in practice, Sumire-chan?" Haru asked before Kasumi began her act again.

"YOSHIWAZA!"

Everyone turned and saw Kasumi in a new disguise: a black, shoulder-length wig, a brown blouse with a heart logo in the center, a purple knee-length skirt, high-top boots, and the usual sunglasses, but they are now round.

"O-Oh, Miss Amano!"

"Tardy already. You were supposed to be in the gym at eight o'clock sharp." Kasumi made sure her voice wasn't too light but not too deep. Her strictness is spot-on though.

"Sorry, ma'am. And it's Yoshizawa, not Yoshiwaza."

"Hmph. Skedaddle it already! I will not tolerate any distractions in your presentation."

Sumire made a run for it as the Thieves gave way for Kasumi to march towards the gym.

"Jeez, that bitch is scary." Ryuji spoke as he received a stone to the head.

"I HEARD THAT, YOU DELINQUENT!"

"WHAT WAS THAT, BITCH!?"

"Ryuji, quit making a scene!" Makoto scolded him as his temper went high instantly.

 

Meanwhile, Kasumi and Sumire let out a phew as their cover was successful and made their way to Coach Hiraguchi, who is standing by the door waiting for someone.

"What on earth are you wearing, Kasumi?"

"A disguise. I got it from that old game called Innocent Sin and dressed up as the female protagonist."

"Even you are influenced by video games. Yet the style suits you.... except for the skirt."

Sumire pumped her fist while Kasumi clicked her tongue.

"I win."

"Shut up."

Kawakami arrives with the keys and tosses it to Coach. She greets Sumire and Kasumi (who she thinks is a judge) as she made her way back to the faculty.

"Alright, ladies. Get dressed. I wanna see how you two can try competing."

"Huh? But Kasumi isn't okay after her injuries." Sumire panicked.

"It's fine. Just wanna try to let you know that even when I'm injured, I can rob ya of your glory."

Sumire noticed the tone of her voice and grinned. "You're on!"

 

Inside Shujin, the group stays in the courtyard and wait for Sumire to be finished.

"That Miss Amano seemed rather intimidating." Yusuke tried to drink his 1-UP while his hands shook.

"Dude, I feel bad for Sumire. Getting grilled on by her AND Hiraguchi." Ryuji stated.

"What's wrong, Ann-chan? Are you thinking of something?" Haru watched her friend look at the sky.

"This place gave me good and bad memories. I just don't know what to feel right now."

Ryuji and Makoto look at her as she shifted her gaze from the sky to the rooftop to the gym until returning her gaze to them.

"I guess you miss the feeling as well, huh?"

"Huh?"

"Ann, you're the only one who is far away from us. You're probably in a dilemma in regards to your decision back in the last school year." Makoto pointed out. "Your dream was to be a model and an inspiration, right? Are you beginning to regret it?"

"No, I don't regret it at all. But sometimes I get thoughts about how we could run around doing God knows what as we show how much we enjoy our company."

Yusuke and Haru then shifted their ears to Ann as they began to listen to her.

"The Phantom Thieves business is my big break, yeah. And it did help me get close to you all as well. But.... I don't know to say this..."

Futaba turned to hear her.

"I'm quitting the Phantom Thieves after this mission. If there are any more Shadow attacks, I am not gonna bother volunteering in helping anymore."

"Ann!"

"Ann-chan!"

"What are you saying?"

"I can't inspire people as Panther all the time. When they look at me as Ann Takamaki, they see me as a person who would dare to challenge the modeling world. But when I'm Panther... there is more praise to that than towards the real me."

"Look, Ann...."

Ann's expression went down as she balled her hands into fists. "I want to show others my strength not as a vigilante of justice anymore. I want to show them how a normal, mixed girl can show others and prove them wrong about their judgments without the need of the Phantom Thieves."

Makoto kept quiet. Understanding Ann, she was here for a week to have fun and go along their minor mission. But as the going got tough, she couldn't bear to witness herself falter all the time. Emotionally, she feels betrayed by Ren the most. Physically, she may not last another week and she is needed to go back home. Mentally, she repeatedly gets confused or troubled at every new knowledge obtained in their shenanigans.

The group then notices Sumire exit the gym and approach their way.

"You guys really miss coming here, huh?" Sumire went on to grab a Arginade and drank it.

"It's nostalgic, in a way." Haru said.

"Sumire-chan."

Sumire looks at Ann, who still sports the downcast emotion. "Can we talk later? Alone."

"Um, sure. Does 5 pm sound good?"

"How about an hour earlier?"

"Then 4 pm it is."

Ann hummed as Sumire returned to practice.

 

Location: Sunrise Residences
Time: 0934 hours

 

"Kana's gonna kill me, man."

"Yeah, she will. Now git!"

"You don't need to kick me, Shiho."

"You stole my bed last night! Thanks to you, I had to be Ren's official dropkicker last night!"

As Ren watched the bickering of Shiho and Daisuke (who is about to return to Nayami), he receives a text from Kasumi as he receives a photo of them practicing as well.

Uninvited guests by the courtyard of Shujin. Meanwhile, guess who won. ;)

Ren then informs Shiho to gear up. When Shiho asked why, this was all he had to say.

"The twins are compromised. Ann and company are trying to get answers from her at this point, and letting Kasumi fight them again is a bigger risk."

Shiho nods as she goes back to her room. Daisuke then wondered what's going on, but Ren ordered to go home as he whistles at Morgana.

"I'm not a dog, you know." He spoke with annoyance.

"Head over to Shujin and lure Ann and the rest outta Sumire's tail. Make sure you lure them away from our objectives."

Morgana nods and pounces down to the lower floor as he races to Shujin. Ren then begins texting everyone in his new group chat.

 

"True_Trickster: Everyone, change of plans: we're gonna have to do our duties now.

CandyCounselor: Is there a particular reason on changing the plans?

True_Trickster: Makoto and company tailed the twins upon arrival in Shujin.

DeadPrince6/2/98: Well, how inconvenient of them.

CandyCounselor: Bold of you to assume it's them who is in inconvenience.

VolleyBirdSuzui: Morgana has been sent to get rid of them. We gotta move fast.

True_Trickster: We'll be two hours early from our window. Let's just hope Iwai-san managed to fix the chopper."

 

"You still worry about the broken windshield?" Raoul spoke in a mix of amusement and irritation.

"I just don't want that thing to break."

"Pfft. I wonder what will be their reaction when they realize we own a helicopter."

"Yeah, I ain't telling them shit."

 

Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 1118 hours

 

"How long has she been in there?" Ryuji tapped his foot impatiently. It's been three hours since they waited for Sumire to finish her practice. Ann strays off and ends up in the rooftop, looking through the fence at the very spot where everything began.

"Are you sure you wanna ditch your duties as a Phantom Thief?" Celestine challenged her dilemma.

Ann laughed absentmindedly. "Wow, it's as if I can hear my Persona talk to me."

"I am, you ditz."

Ann looked up and saw Celestine hovering above her, causing Ann to fall and land on her butt.

"SHIT!" 

"First time talking to you, and I already feel unwelcome. How sad."

"You can't just pop out of nowhere! You're a ghostly version of me, after all!" Ann pointed her finger at her Persona, who just lowered her sunglasses and stared at her before returning.

"Sorry to do that. Wasn't really sure on how to approach you."

"It's fine."

Celestine looked at her with studious eyes and spoke out softly this time.

"You really want to leave your life as a Phantom Thief?"

Ann bit her tongue as she isn't sure of her answer. "Well, yes and no. I guess."

"The lack of certainty in your words means you have the moral dilemma of it, correct?"

Ann nods as she tries to get back up. Celestine then gives her a brief warning.

"Your team is at risk, for the truth you are looking for will be the one to break you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Celestine disappears before her, giving her a view of Morgana looking for them in the courtyard. She sprints back to them and alerts them of Morgana, who is perched up by the practice building's entrance.

"Mweheheheheow! Being here feels nostalgic!" Morgana exclaimed as he witnessed Makoto rushing towards him.

"Morgana!"

"Mona, what are you doing here?" Ryuji dumbly asked.

"Aren't we supposed to detain him?" Yusuke just had to spill it.

"Detain?"

"Damnit, Inari! You and your big mouth!"

"Detain!? Never!" Morgana sprints under their legs as they proceed to chase him down.

"Hey, Morgana!"

"Get back here!"

"Mona-chan!"

Peeping through the door, Kasumi hisses a victorious yes as she then looks at Sumire performing her last routine.

 

Location: Akihabara
Time: 1130 hours

 

Never would Goro Akechi thought that looking for new earpieces would be difficult to do in Akihabara. Although Maruki is enjoying his trip down the district, Akechi becomes more irritated by the minute.

"Goddamnit, we're not gonna find a store that sells military earpieces!" He shouted in frustration.

"Calm down, Akechi-san. We don't wanna attract a lot of attention." He reasoned with him as they approach another gadgets store.

"Uh, excuse me."

Maruki called the attendant's attention. He was shocked to see that it's...

"Rumi?"

"Yes, can I help you?"

Ah, Takuto Maruki's old flame. The catalyst of his pursuit to the guidance towards happiness. The reason how got hellbent on creating an alternate reality. After his reality broke, Rumi suffered a huge case of PTSD since her family was murdered. Again.

"Doc."

"I know." He whispered to Akechi as he talked to Rumi once again. "Um, do you happen to have earpieces similar to these?"

Looking at the earpieces on his hand, Rumi informed them that there are a few stocks available.

"We'll take 9 please."

"Of course! Please have a look at our dazzling merchandise while I get your orders."

As she walked to the storage room, Maruki sighed deeply. "Of all people, why her?"

"It still seems she doesn't recognize you despite this being the true reality." Akechi emphasized as Maruki only had one guess.

"It seems she moved on. I may not know if her smile right now was genuine or out of presentation, but I already know that Rumi would be happy without me."

"I didn't need the details to that, but whatever." Akechi faked a vomit, much to Maruki's annoyance.

"Maybe Amamiya was right. You really do lack the sympathy for anyone."

"And yet here I am, ready for a new life." He spoke sarcastically.

Rumi returns with the earpieces and guides them to the cashier. As Maruki was going to reach for his wallet...

"OH MY GOSH! YUKARI TAKEBA IS OUTSIDE!"

"PINK ARGUS IS MVP!"

Yukari's presence outside made fans of Neo Featherman run wild, bringing along with them Akechi by accident. The only people left were those who didn't care about Yukari, and those who are just buying necessities.

"That was... awkward. But surprising that the actress is in good shape despite yesterday's news." Rumi commented as she waits for the payment.

Maruki grabs his wallet and gives her 40,000 yen. "Y-Yeah. I was kind of there when she fought off Mitsuru Kirijo."

Rumi then gives him the change, but stares at his eyes for a few seconds before speaking up. "Have we met before?"

Maruki shook his head gently as he began to sweat. "N-No, we haven't. It's only the first time I've seen someone as beautiful as you."

She blushes at the comment and greets him a great day as he leaves. As he begins to look for Akechi, he finds him hidden next to a dumpster with his clothes marked by footprints. Yukari jumps down from her hiding spot.

"Sheesh, I can't catch a break."

"I can tell."

Akechi woke from his daze and stands up quickly. "If it's alright with all of you, I can go buy new clothes to replace these fresh rags."

Maruki gives him cash as he runs to the clothes shop across the alley. Yukari notices his cheeky grin.

"Did something happen during your supply run?"

"Yes. Yes, it did."

 

Location: Shibuya
Time: 1241 hours

 

Kasumi and Sumire, along with Coach Hiraguchi, alight from the train as they make their way to the square where they part ways. As the twins leave, Hiraguchi gives off a small smile.

"Never seen them so happy. I miss the real Kasumi, though." She muttered as she goes to her train.

The twins then travel to Untouchables where they plan on customizing the existing weapons to Iwai, but instead of the grumpy man they find his goofy son.

"Um, h-hello there, Yoshizawa twins."

"So you know?"

Kaoru nodded. "You here to change a few things?"

"We just need more perks."

Helping out Kaoru in customizing the guns further, Kasumi impressed Sumire by how she managed to attach and detach every part of the gun for upgrades.

"Amazing."

"Jelly?" Kasumi teased.

"N-No!"

In just thirty minutes, they were already done. Right on time for Iwai to arrive back.

"I was out for an hour. What did I miss?"

"How'd you know I was the other Yoshizawa?"

So Kaoru told them. "The beauty mark. I read magazines and newspapers a lot, and that right there..." he poked Kasumi's cheekbone. "... is something that would stand out like hell."

Sumire looks at Kasumi, who just nods and gives him an impressed grin.

"It took thirty minutes, Dad. Kasumi-san here did most of the handiwork."

"Th-Thirty minutes!?" Iwai dropped the paper bags of groceries and other stuff. "She just beat Ren's record. Fuck."

"How long did it take for him?" Sumire asked.

"Thirty-one minutes."

Suddenly, they hear noise coming from the alley outside of Untouchable. Iwai tries to investigate, but Kasumi and Sumire stop him after they hear a cat screeching and teenagers yelling.

"You'll never get me alive like last time!"

"You effing cat! Get back here!"

"Mona, wait! We just wanna talk!"

"What the fuck was that?" Iwai stared at the door dumbfounded as Kasumi volunteered to fix the outside area.

 

Location: LeBlanc
Time: 1308 hours

 

"Out doing Phantom Thief business again?"

Sojiro's fatherly tone asked Ren as he brews some coffee while he cooked the curry.

"Yeah. This is gonna be one hell of a mission."

"I still wonder why you're not letting Futaba in on it. Or anyone from your group, for that matter."

Ren froze for a second. He knew they were having meetings, but having the meetings be frequent meant that they really want him to talk.

"It's too dangerous for everyone to engage."

Sojiro's tone went strict. "What makes you any different?"

"I'm not." Ren responded sternly. "I'm protecting them for their own good."

"By shunning them away?"

"I got Morgana (that cat?), Sumire, Maruki, Akechi, and Shiho to back me up." Ren did not mention Kasumi at it would be too complicated to explain and would take up too much time to cover. Two names that were mentioned gave Sojiro a reminder.

"By the way, Maruki and Shiho were here the other day. The girl poured her heart out instead of telling her thoughts on the Phantom Thieves. Hoo-boy!"

Ren groaned as he could imagine what advice he gave her. "What did she say about me?"

"How you were so eager to keep her company a lot. And how your charm and heart got the best of her, even after she figured you were dating someone already." Sojiro groomed his goatee as he explained.

"Did anyone walk in to hear her?"

"Your girlfriend did, but she was okay with it as long as you don't double-cross her." His tone is stricter than usual.

"Relax, Boss. I know what I'm doing." He finishes brewing the coffee and places them in a few thermos.

"Ann-chan's been worried about you the most."

Ren shifted his body to Sojiro as he inquired more.

"What did she say?"

"I can't tell, but she keeps changing her mood. From resentful to caring, then from angry to wistful. If I were to judge her behavior, she may have reached the level of loving you as much as Yoshizawa does."

"And for Makoto and Haru? I had an idea I stole their hearts at some point." He showed off his signature Joker grin as he joked.

"Getting cocky now, are ya?" He laughed as he placed the curry in food containers. "Well, Niijima gives you the most respect while Okumura praises you more than insulting you."

"As expected."

Sojiro placed the pot down and opened his arms for Ren to hug him. "Take care of yourself, kid."

"Take care of them for me, Boss." he said.

After heading up to his old attic to grab some stuff for crafting, Ren bids Sojiro farewell as he rides the train back to Shibuya to return to Suidobashi.

 

Location: Harajuku
Time: 1501 hours

 

After Ren arrived back in the condo unit, it was Shiho's turn to do her job as she began to look for several costumes to try on that could help in her disguise towards infiltrating Kirijo Fortress. Her ideas went from simple to wild as she roamed around the entire place to look for the perfect attire.

"Should've went to Harima Mall instead of here." She groaned. After a few minutes passed, she gave up and informed Ren that there were no good costumes for her.

It's okay. We'll just have one from the Metaverse.

"Do I really have to be the bait? It's obvious that a bait with a machine gun is not suitable." she texted.

Then why is your Thief outfit a spy suit? she can hear the smug teasing in that text.

"Jerk. Give me another role."

Alright, alright. Head back to the condo. We'll discuss further there.

"Shiho?"

Shiho turns around to see an exhausted Ann and Ryuji. Morgana must have spent the whole day making them look like idi- WAIT. DAMN THAT CAT.

"Shiho!" Ann marched towards her with Ryuji following behind.

"Shit." Shiho started running to the station.

"SHIHO SUZUI, GET BACK HERE!"

Shiho began bumping into people as she started evading any blockades or obstacles that would benefit Ann and not her. She began calling Ren as she kept her eyes on the road.

"Shiho? What's-"

"I've been compromised! Ann and Ryuji found me!"

"Damnit, can you make it to the trains?"

"I could."

"Get on the train and head back for Shibuya. If the others find you, make your way to Odaiba ASAP. I'll contact with the others after we end." He instructed her with careful consideration. This was not around Plan A to Z. This is around AA or whatever, on Ren's book.

Shiho catches the train on time and immediately makes herself hidden. Ann and Ryuji enter the same train as it makes it way to Shibuya.

"Damnit, where'd she go?" Ann snarled.

"You for real? That was Shiho?" Ryuji panted as he asked for confirmation.

"Aside from Ren, I'm the only person who saw her with her hair down. And I'd be damned if it wasn't her."

What they don't know is that Shiho is literally right behind Ryuji, hiding by using a yuri manga to ward them off. As the train reached Shibuya and opened its doors, Shiho dashes forward again as Ann and Ryuji resume chasing her down. This time, Shiho uses the earpiece to contact Morgana.

"Morgana, you moron! You led them to me!"

"What do you mean?"

"You led them to Harajuku!"

"I thought you were in Kichijoji."

"I'm gonna kick your ass later, but for now get Ann and Ryuji off my ass!"

"Roger that! Time to show my love for Lady Ann!"

"You desperate romantic."

Shiho bumps into Yusuke, who initially isn't chasing her.

"Ah, the assistant in my painting! What a surprise seeing you here."

"YUSUKE, HOLD HER DOWN!"

Yusuke's attention was drawn by Ryuji's yelling, causing him to let Shiho continue running towards the Underground Mall.

"Damnit, Yusuke!"

"What did I do this time?" Yusuke innocently asked.

"That was Shiho! She's working for Ren!' Ann angrily gripped his collar.

"You could have just reminded me through text rather than yell out like just now."

"This is no time for arguing!"

Ann's temper is now at a boiling point. As they arrive in the Underground Mall, they split up to look for her. Ann had an idea though.

"Celestine."

"My dear charmer."

"Find Shiho for me around here. You can see her, but she can't see you."

"Good idea."

Unfortunately for Ann, Shiho had the same idea.

"Nora."

"My lady."

"Check if Ann and the others are off the area."

"At your service."

Celestine and Nora wandered around until they collided. Both girls felt their presence as Shiho tenses up with Ann in pursuit. Entering the girls' comfort room, Ann began to mock her.

"Hmmm... I wonder where that best friend of mine went."

Shiho held her breath as she hid in the last stall. Ann began looking at the bottom space of the stalls to see if anyone is in them.

"I dunno. Should I even call her a best friend when she is doing something behind my back?!"

Ann's tone went very aggressive. Shiho began to sweat as she finds herself in front of Ann.

"Especially when she's trying to throw me off her trail like now!"

Ann kicked the last stall, revealing no one inside it. Shiho escaped quickly, but was startled by an orange-haired girl who used a stall to download a few stuff.

"Boo!"

Shiho jabbed Futaba in the face and swung the stall door, smacking Ann in the face as well.

"What were you doing in there, Futaba!?" Ann growled as she rubbed her forehead.

"Was looking for illegal research, okay!?" Futaba defended herself while readjusting her glasses. "That chick can punch hard."

"That was Shiho! Come on!"

Ann and Futaba run out of the comfort rooms to see Ryuji and Yusuke on the ground.

"What happened?"

"Suzui kicked my nuts while she headbutted Yusuke."

"Her head was made of steel."

"Up and at 'em, Inari!"

Catching back up to the surface area, the quad finds Shiho taking the route to Odaiba. Futaba pulls out her phone and calls Haru.

"Haru! We found Ren's teammate!"

"Where is she?"

"She's heading for Odaiba. We need transpo ASAP!"

They hear a car horn behind them as Makoto and Haru are already inside.

"Get in!"

With everyone on board, they drive their way to Odaiba to catch up with Shiho.

 

Meanwhile, in the train...

"Fuck.... I hope they aren't taking this train." She breathes intensely as she felt a pain in her knee.

"Not again."

As she rested, she turns her head to see the news channel on the monitor telling the public that there will be sudden rain later.

"As far as Odaiba goes, I wouldn't mind diving into the water to hide."

 

Back on the road, Makoto honks the horn aggressively.

"Goddamnit, traffic fucking sucks!"

"Would you like me to dash forward and see where out target is?"

Makoto blinked thrice as she looked at the others. "Did someone say something?"

Everyone shook their heads.

"Come on, my man! Take up the Queen's orders and we shall conduct a search."

"Eh? You said something, Yusuke?"

"I didn't say anything at all."

"Are you for certain they can see us, Celestine?"

"Ah, William. Better be patient for now. You can contact them after the little skirmish is done."

Ryuji slumped on the seat. "I'm beginning to hear things."

 

Arriving in Odaiba, Shiho rushes towards Ren and the crew and warns them about their Personas' extensive assistance.

"It seems we should separate from your flesh in the meantime to keep the heathens at bay."

"For the most part, yes. But what about Maruki? He has no more Persona - hell, we are standing at what used to be his Palace!"

"Patience, my prince. We will coordinate with each other to buy you time for defensive formations."

Akechi growled and loaded his gun as Ren makes him put it down.

"We're not killing them. Remember what Narukami proposed to us."

Defeated, Akechi puts the gun down and glares at Shiho. "Then why does she get to hold her gun?"

"I'm doing this for warning shots, Akechi. Unlike you, I'm not homicidal." Shiho spat back.

Sumire looks at Maruki and asks him to hide in his taxi in the meantime. He complies and wishes them luck as everyone began forming.

 

Time: 1600 hours

Makoto and the rest finally arrive in the district after cursing at the traffic and toll roads. Watching the train station, they began circling around as they look for Shiho. Unbeknownst to everyone, Morgana was inside with them as he waited for the right timing. Ann spots Shiho walking out of the station and orders Makoto to gun it, but they suddenly stop in the middle of the road.

"What the f- Why did we stop?!"

Haru looks outside from the window. "Our tires are popped!"

Forced to go on foot, they chase down Shiho again. Said person runs once again as she leads them to the unfinished Odaiba construction.

"She's slowing down!"

"We got you now, Shiho. No more r-"

Morgana lunges at each one of them and begins to screw around with them, angering Ryuji further.

"YOU FUCKING CAT!"

"Come and get me, monkey boy!"

Morgana met up with Shiho as they spot Team Makoto in close range and enter the area. With the uncertainty and unpredictable layout of the place, Ann attempts to use Celestine to scout for them. Her Persona recruits the others as they are not yet operationally connected with their users.

"Switching to the heartbeat detector!" Futaba pulls out a device and slowly walks so she can get their heartbeat locations.

"Come on... come on...."

Ann felt something off as the Personas returned empty-handed.

"This place is almost like a labyrinth of emptiness." Makoto commented on how hollow yet complex the layout of the site is.

"This stupid thing isn't getting any heartbeats!" Futaba was getting impatient.

As they turned to the next corner, they spot Ren sneaking around.

"Ren-kun!" Haru alerted everyone.

"Damnit." Ren began to run and perform parkour to escape them.

"Ren Amamiya, you have a lot of explaining to do!"

"Sorry, Ann, but this is a kiss-and-tell secret only."

"Asshole!"

As they reached the open area, Ren attempts to book it faster until Makoto fired a bullet onto his path, causing him to stop.

"YOU ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE THIS TIME!" Makoto aimed her Colt Python at him. Ren raises his hands up and turns around to look at them.

"Guys, I can explain..." He started.

"It better be a good explanation, dude! You've been duping us for quite some time now." Ryuji made his move as he pulls his SPAS-12 at Ren.

"Dude, you're not gonna put me on Hold Up, are ya?"

"You left us no choice, Ren-kun." Haru pulled her M79 GL.

"Yusuke, bud. Help a guy out?"

Yusuke pulls out his H&K 416, but remains quiet as he shifted his gaze around his environment.

"You have no idea how much trouble I'm getting into..."

"And you had enough balls to bullshit on us when we wanted the truth." Ann points her dual VZ61 submachine guns at him.

Ren sighed in sadness. "I was hoping we'd do this the easy way....." He opens his hands, then closes it to a fist. "I guess not."

Machine gunfire began to scare the Thieves into finding the shooter before Ryuji gets kicked by Akechi, Morgana pounces on Futaba, Sumire charges at Haru, Kasumi tackles Yusuke, and Shiho ambushes Ann, leaving Ren to go one on one with the Queen.

 

Ren vs. Makoto

Shiho vs. Ann

Akechi vs. Ryuji

Kasumi vs. Yusuke

Sumire vs. Haru

Morgana vs. Futaba

 

Amidst the confusion, Makoto was not quick enough to see Ren jab her face and disarm her.

"Makoto, stand down. That punch is just a warning shot."

Makoto recovers and cracks her knuckles. "Better make me stand down, Ren."

Ren begins to avoid Makoto's aikido attacks and counters them with his mixed martial arts skills. Block after block, hit after hit... both the leader and the lieutenant went at it without hesitation.

"Ow!" Makoto takes a kick to the ribs before faking a haymaker at Ren.

"Caught ya!" Ren then felt his jaw in pain after a strong uppercut. "Damnit."

"You wanna talk now? Or get hurt even more?"

Seeing Makoto pull out her brass knuckles, Ren chuckles to himself. "Best of both worlds, Makoto. Come on."

 

Fists against feet, Shiho and Ann clash against each other as the latters guns went berserk and clicked.

"Damnit, Shiho!" She breaks free from her lock and goes into a fighting stance.

"Ann, this is for your good. Step down right now." Shiho raises her hands.

Ann, however, is not gonna back down to just a simple surrender from her best friend. The very best friend who worked as a Phantom Thief behind her back.

"So you really are a Phantom Thief now? I thought I was your best friend, Shiho."

"Call me Diamond, Panther."

Ann grimaced in anger as Shiho grinned in arrogance. "Let me show you what I got."

Closing her hands, Shiho blocks Ann's somersault and fires back with a right hook, which was blocked by Ann. They clash legs as they deflected their kicks.

 

Akechi kicked Ryuji in the leg to send the shotgun shells flying upward. Ryuji swings the shotgun and hits Akechi in the face.

"Howdja like that, asshole!"

Akechi smoothly stood back up and cracked the joints that held him back. "That was just a warm-up."

"So howdja return from the dead?"

"Ask Ren that, you idiot. I'm not some know-it-all entity."

Ryuji then gritted his teeth as he shook off the lingering pain in his leg. "Same old self-condescendin' bastard."

Akechi let out a smug but sinister grin. "Call me shameless, if you must."

Ryuji launches a fist while Akechi raises his leg as both managed to hit each other critically.

 

"So we meet again, Millee." Yusuke coldly stated as he recovers from her tackle.

"I'm starting to get tired of that name." Kasumi sighed. "But then again, so is this disguise." She removes her disguise to reveal her gym attire from earlier. She retains the wig, though.

"So you had your training like this?"

"In a way. Hit me with your best shot, Fox." She calls him out.

Yusuke uses the walking stick and swings it at her. Unfortunately for him, she dodges his attacks as his body physique, matched with the crude piece of wood, wore him out faster than he can say Masukukaja.

"What? Getting as slow as a snail now?" She went off-guard and gets hit by the stick in the same area where Akechi kicked her days ago.

"It seems that this is how old men fight."

"Gee, ya think? Fucking idiot." She performs a sweep kick on him as she holds her jaw temporarily.

 

Haru's grenade round flies above Ren as Sumire charged at her. Haru is enraged as she picks up a shovel nearby.

"You've tested my patience long enough, Sumire-chan!"

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Haru-senpai." Sumire cockily replies before her eyes widened at what happens next.

Haru swings the shovel as Sumire dodges it.

'You've been very selfish with Ren-kun lately... Didn't your family teach you how to share?!"

Another swing.

"Haru-senpai, we're protecting you all from danger! Don't you all understand that?"

Sumire's eyes widened again as Haru slammed the shovel near her and breaks it in the process.

"You should have been telling us the truth from the start."

Haru swings the broken shovel, but Sumire kicks it off her hand as she dares her to go fisticuffs.

 

"STUPID CAT!"

"DEVILISH INKLING!"

Futaba attempts to shake Morgana into spilling the truth, but Morgana's cat form forces Futaba to go for measures she would call hilarious.

"Quit making me turn around in circles, Mona!"

"That's your own fault!" He arrogantly left Futaba dizzy as he softly pounces off her.

 

Blow after blow, Ren and Makoto still went at it with their combat movesets. Ren made sure she wouldn't get hurt entire as she is still feeling the pain of yesterday's incident.

"I hope you're happy about abandoning us." Makoto angrily yelled as she tries to perform a roundhouse.

"Does it look like I'm happy with this!?" Ren responded as he blocks her kick and pulls her in for a sucker punch.

"Then why won't you tell us the truth?!"

"You can't handle the truth this time!"

Makoto finds an opening and begins throwing a flurry of fists onto Ren's torso. Trying to stop her, he slaps her ears that temporarily rung her ears.

"That was a dirty move!" She complained as she held her head.

Ren spat a few blood. "So were your punches, Fist of the Phantom Star."

 

Ann receives a kick to the face from Shiho, who has already gained a black eye from Ann's fist.

"You hit harder than I thought." Shiho lamented.

"I've gotten stronger, remember?" Ann bragged.

"Pfft, I'm still landing harder hits than you, fish sticks."

"You'll eat your words, Suzui."

Ann intentionally kicks Shiho in the knee, who winces in pain as she jabs Ann in the gut.

"Ow, my stomach!" Ann goes down on one knee, holding her torso.

"Your fault for kicking my knee!" Shiho tries her best not to fall down.

 

Akechi and Ryuji square off as the two of them already showed bruises and blood.

"Never knew you were soft, Akechi." Ryuji taunted.

"I was being merciful. You prefer me being psychotic?" He flashed a look that scared Ryuji in a way.

"Uh, n-no." He shifted his position. "Just don't try to kill me."

"That was the plan all along."

Catching the blonde off-guard, Akechi kicks him in the face before noticing Ryuji catching his foot upon impact. The charge commander of the Thieves then pulls him in for a hammer fist in the face, sending Akechi down to the ground. Akechi hisses as he kicks Ryuji in the groin in retaliation.

 

Sumire gracefully evades Haru's kicks, which she is surprised at how strong she was after breaking a hollow cement block next to her.

"How are you this strong? You're full of surprises, Okumura-senpai!" She spoke.

"Sumire-chan, I know you're trying to distract me." Haru figured out her ploy.

"And here I thought, it would work." Sumire sighs as she takes a few steps back.

Haru notices her backing up and grins as she approaches her.

"Okumura-senpai, please... I don't want to hurt anyone...." Sumire tries to talk her out of it.

"Don't worry, Sumire-chan. I promise I'll be very gentle."

Before Haru can strike, Sumire pulls out a ribbon and dances her way to her back as she ties her wrists and leaves her tied to a rebar.

 

Yusuke and Kasumi continue their brawl as she is about to be overpowered by his speed.

"It seems the tables have turned for our fight in my favor now." Yusuke boldly declared as she lands a kick onto her face. The beauty mark is revealed again as Kasumi backhands Yusuke in the ribs.

"Didn't Madarame ever teach you not to be violent towards women?!" She growled in anger.

"How did you know what Madarame told me!?"

Kasumi already grew tired of running and hiding, so she pulls out a gun and aims it in front of Yusuke.

 

Everyone stops fighting as they watch Kasumi pointing the gun at the blue-haired boy.

"Just what the hell are you doing?" Ann barked as Shiho backed up to Kasumi's side.

"You all don't know how to take a hint, huh?" Kasumi spoke in her own voice.

"We can't fight with our guns, but YOU can?"

"Wait, your accent dropped." Yusuke pointed out, upsetting Kasumi more.

"Of course it fucking dropped."

She removes her wig and reveals her brown hair. Taking off her eye contacts and makeup, everyone on the original team was in shock.

"K-Kasumi Yoshizawa!?" Futaba yelled as Morgana scurried back to Ren's team, who have already convened alongside Kasumi.

"What's going on!?" Ann demanded answers now, and so they shall receive.

"Yes, I'm Kasumi Yoshizawa. The supposedly-dead Yoshizawa twin.... and the surviving one."

Ren stepped forward and explained.

"The Kasumi Yoshizawa you know is not alive. This Kasumi is from another world..." He paused as he stares at them. "A world where we all died."

Suddenly, everyone's anger dropped.

"D-D-Died?" Haru stuttered in fear.

"I call your bluff, you faker!" Futaba points at her with accusation.

Kasumi spoke. "You already knew by now about the Sacrificial Lamb project, right?"

"How did you know about that? Was that based on your disguise yesterday or you already knew about it for quite some time now?" Makoto seriously inquired. This is what they had in mind, but the fight was quite unexpected on their part.

"The Sacrificial Lamb project entails the idea that it will use a Persona user's energy and power to permanently seal the barrier between this world and the Shadow world. According to what we found on the files and hieroglyphics, the process begins on a midnight of full moon where any Persona user being nominated will have a little chance of survival."

Sumire watched Kasumi's finger as she keeps it off the trigger. But considering that this version of her sister is impulsive at times, she holds her hand to keep her collected.

"As of yesterday, our intel was updated. Rather than have the users be at the maximum of 15, only the Wild Cards' powers are required since they can withstand enough pain to deliver the goal into success."

Makoto looks at Ren, her eyes telling them that she is beginning to worry. "Why didn't you say this to us? We could have helped!"

Ren's tone went icy as he lectured them. "And get you killed in the process? No! After what Kasumi told me about what happened in their world, I am not going to allow that to happen in our world."

"And for the most part, it seemed he need a team to remain subtle in the operations we have undergone."

Ann didn't hesitate to object. "But your appearance on TV and in the Platinum Star weren't subtle!"

"It was to confirm that Kirijo Corporations are not handling their business like they should. They claim safety and security when they were the ones responsible for summoning the Shadows to the real world without merging both!"

"And you'd expect us to standby? Dude, you're our goddamn leader!" Ryuji howled in fury.

"I ordered you all to stand down! Now look at what's happening! Risking your own goddamn lives against my orders."

"Orders that deviate from what our duties our!"

Kasumi snapped. "IF HE HAS TO PUT A BULLET ON ALL OF YOU TO FOLLOW HIS ORDERS, HE WILL!"

"Shut up, fake Yoshi-" Futaba stopped after Kasumi fires at her spot. "I give up! Don't kill me!"

"Kasumi, calm down." Shiho comforted her, but Ann brought out the elephant in the room.

"And speaking of which, SHIHO, why the hell did you keep all of this a secret to me?"

"Oh, me keeping my secret identity isn't allowed while you can?"

"The hell is that supposed to mean?!"

"You should have told me the truth about you guys being Phantom Thieves! The vigilantes of justice against an unfair injustice. The epitome of heroes going against the world to save it."

Ann looked as Shiho continued.

"I only became a Phantom Thief for only a week... yet it feels like a lifetime fighting side by side with Ren, Morgana, Sumire, and Akechi. You wanted to inspire people, dontcha Ann? You inspired me, and that's been the best thing you've ever done for me."

"Shiho, I-"

"So please.... let us return the favor and do this job for you guys." Shiho calmed down as the machine gun he hid drops to her hands. She aims it directly at them. "Even if it means putting you all into retirement by force."

Ann felt the regret in Shiho's warning. Ryuji then spoke up with an upset expression.

"So you're breaking us all up? Is that what you're trying to say?"

"It's a suicide mission, Ryuji. I can't have everyone die because of my actions."

"But you're bringing my best friend with you to that suicide mission, Ren!"

Akechi chuckled at their protests. "You all don't get it. He needs our skills and not yours in this mission, so fuck off already!"

"We didn't ask you to speak, dipshit!"

"Care for a rematch then?"

Ann approaches Shiho. "You do realize that if you die this time, it's all on you. Right?"

"Just fuck off, Ann. I know what I'm doing, and I don't hesitate in making these tasks happen."

Sumire decided to join in the argument. "I know you guys are being upset by all this... and I know you are all eager to assist us in fighting Mitsuru and her men, but I'm gonna have to stop you right here."

"Sumire-chan?"

"Kasumi here is from a world where we all died. And the men responsible for our deaths are already here on this Earth to expand their reign of terror. Kasumi is the last surviving Phantom Thief, and maybe the last surviving Persona user. She has enough survivor's guilt to hold on to as she is fighting to save our world when she couldn't save theirs."

Yusuke holds the stick in his hands and goes for uncharted territory as he looks at Kasumi. "So this was made by me in your world?"

"You carved it for Madarame on his birthday. When Akira told me that he used that stick to beat you when you couldn't give him an artwork..."

Yusuke drops the walking stick as he was mortified of the revelation. Makoto accuses her of trying to scare them off. Kasumi continued.

"You won't believe me? Let me run down how everyone right now died in my world: Haru Okumura was assassinated by a car bomb along with her father during Christmas..."

Haru then wondered. Killed with Father on a Christmas day?

"... Shiho Suzui hung herself after getting raped by Kamoshida..."

Ann looked at Shiho in front of her. Shiho can barely keep up with her anger as she tightened her grip on the gun from hearing how she died in Earth XX.

"... Morgana was murdered by police. He was never a cat in my world to begin with..."

For obvious reasons, Morgana was surprised by her statement. I forgot about that.

"... Ann Takamaki committed suicide after remembering Shiho's death..."

Ann now looked at Kasumi, who was shedding a few tears while keeping the pistol pointed at them. I killed myself?

"... Yusuke Kitagawa and Ryuji Sakamoto died fighting Kirijo soldiers in the ruins of LeBlanc..."

Ryuji releases his fist and placed his hands in his pocket. Damn, I went down either like a boss or like a wuss.

Yusuke looked down on the stick. My own demise was due to my inability to fight in the real world?

"... Makoto Niijima, Goro Akechi, and Futaba Sakura died while covering me to safety when Kenzo Manahashi terrorized our escape...

Akechi kept his cool as he did anticipate his counterpart's death. Makoto looked at Futaba, who was attentively listening.

I ended up like Dad. Fighting evil in the name of justice does have its flaws.

I don't why, but I feel like this Kasumi is being truthful. But still... why did I die?

".... Sumire Yoshizawa committed suicide by truck after I failed to b-b-b-be her sist-t-ter..."

Everyone then sees how broken Kasumi still was, with Sumire holding hands tighter.

"....A-a-and Akira Kurusu... the love of my life... my shining light in the darkness.... died saving us all from Maruki's false reality that we were under for a year."

Kasumi drops the gun and shakes her head to shake off the feeling. Futaba speaks up after she finished.

"I never heard Ren's name mentioned."

"That's because Akira is Ren."

The original Thieves turn to Ann, who finally understood what their mission was. "You told me that your song was based on losing the person you loved dearly. But from hearing your story now... you lost all of us, with Re- I mean, Akira being your biggest loss. No wonder you used our code names instead of our real names."

Kasumi nods her head as she wiped off the tears.

"You want us safe, right?"

She nods her head again. Ann walks up to Ren.

"Ren, I-"

"It's okay. You're gonna try and tell me not to get killed like always, right?"

Ann looked at him with a baffled expression. Did he just read my mind or am I getting too predictable?

"Yeah."

"I can't promise you that, though. We're fighting a group of Persona users siding with Mitsuru, so the odds are higher."

Ryuji broke his silence. "So that's it? You're really putting us out of commission. For good."

Sumire faced them with serious eyes. "I'm sorry, Ryuji-senpai, but it is the only way to ensure your safety as well as ours."

Akechi added his remarks. "Although I would advise Ren to have you on standby, that wouldn't be the case if we were to fight someone who has a sudden Wild Card nature that can murder us if not the military."

Makoto asked, curious at what Akechi meant. "Wild Card?"

"The man, Kenzo Manahashi... he was associated with Shido back in the old days, and his counterpart in Kasumi's world is far deadlier than our version. He nearly killed us during our short mission in Hiroshima."

Shiho kept her eyes on Ann as she lowers the machine gun. "How much more convincing do you want?"

Ann turned to Shiho and walked to her at a closer and safer distance. "A few more." Both girls returned to showing anger at each other.

"Then there's Maruki's counterpart. His false reality lasted for a year, and he has his Guiding Tendrils in his power. He can kill anyone with them without warning."

Futaba looked at Ren, now feeling sadness. "We can't convince you to let us join... at all? Even after all the missions and hardships we went through?"

Ren nods as it was his turn to announce. "This will be my final mission as Joker. After that, I'm retiring from the Metaverse warfare for good."

Yusuke pointed something out. "Funny. That's what Ann said as well."

 

After silence blew around them for minutes, Haru gave off a sad face and turns to the exit. "Let's go, everyone."

"H-Haru?" Makoto was unsure with her sudden mood.

"Ren-kun's right. And so was Sumire-chan. We can't be fighting this war if we'll end up losing."

Futaba objected. "But what about the plan tonight?"

Ren, Shiho, and Sumire asked in unison. "Plan?"

"No point in hiding it now, Futaba-chan" Haru advised her as she stops by the doorway.

"We're infiltrating Kirijo Fortress while Yusuke gives her the nude painting he made."

"And it wouldn't be possible if it weren't for you, Suzui-san."

"Shut up." Shiho sighed, remembering the night her eyes were not innocent anymore.

"So Haru, Yusuke, and I will be going to Kirijo-san to gather info." Makoto sighed in defeat. "We'll relay the intel we gathered and retire for good."

"Guys, I-"

"Ren-kun, I'm gonna agree. I'll retire as well after we get information from Mitsuru. I hope this will help you entirely."

Haru wiped off a few tears as she, Makoto, Futaba, and Yusuke leave the area. Ryuji approaches Ren and punches him in the face, prompting Makoto and Haru to scold him.

"So much for being my best bud, man." he growled in a low voice.

Ren stood back up and jabbed Ryuji in the jaw. "Now we're even."

Morgana finally spoke up. "Should we head for the chopper now?"

"CHOPPER!?" Now everyone was suddenly peaked.

"You dunno when to keep your mouth shut, cat." Akechi said as he facepalmed.

"Not big enough for the 12 of us, anyway." Ren admitted. "And it's still on repair."

"For just a tiny crack in the windshield though." Shiho pouted at Ren.

"Dude, you abandoned us, made us disband, now you're gonna cruise along with your new team in a helicopter?"

Ren felt how upset his friends were, and remained quiet instead to avoid more arguments.

"See ya, Amamiya. And I definitely don't wanna be ya." Ryuji turns and leaves the place.

"Shiho, can I have a word with Ren?"

"Not when I'm in front of you."

"God, how much more of a bitch can you be?" Ann was getting annoyed.

"You lost your faith in Ren as a leader, and in me as your best friend. I can be a bitch when I want to be, Takamaki."

Ann stepped back after Shiho called her by her last name instead of the usual 'Ann'. She looked at Sumire instead.

"Sumire, can I borrow your boyfriend for a bit?"

"Why?"

"I just.... want a word with him. In private."

Ren gestured Sumire to wait for him by their exit as the rest made their way out of the site. Ren then turns to Ann, who held her arm and looked on her feet.

"About earlier.... I just want to apologize on behalf of everyone."

"Why?"

"It's just that... we miss you, you know? And I know you're trying to protect us from whatshisname and Kirijo-san. But couldn't you have been more straightforward and told us that you were going to be busy and let us help you without the need for our powers?"

Ren looked at her and felt guilty. Maybe he was being overprotective with his methods.

"And we're still friends, remember? At least let us have some time together..."

"With the way everyone acted, this entire day is a roller-coaster of emotions now."

Ann looked at him dead in the eyes. "If you can't promise to keep yourselves safe, at least promise me one thing."

"What's that?"

"Don't lose sight of us. We're gonna be struggling in forgiving you, but we'll make sure that whatever you to make up for this mission of yours should be enough."

In an act of impulse, Ann puts her lips on Ren's as they kiss. Sumire's eyes widened, then she furrowed her brows in anger. After their kiss, Ann looked away from Ren and cast her gaze at Sumire.

"I, uh-"

"I'm sorry, Ren. I'll, uh, go talk to Sumire... even if I will be slapped twice or thrice."

"Ann..."

Ann leaves to goes talk to Sumire about what she and Ren discussed. Surprisingly, she only received one slap in the face as she enlightened Sumire about a few things as well.

"Something off your chest, huh?"

"I'm really, really sorry, Sumire-chan. It's just-"

"I get it, Ann-senpai. You still have feelings for him. But you should have told me you wanted to make out with my boyfriend."

"I wasn't making out with him. Hell, I know that my kiss to him is empty. You're his girlfriend after all, and I'm just the half-jealous admirer."

"I forgive you for that. Just... don't do that again after something like this. Nor will you do that coz you feel like it. Okay?" Sumire was already upset, but she had to be careful in how she scolds Ann.

Ann nods and gives her a small awkward hug as she wishes them luck. After leaving the area, Sumire slaps Ren twice.

"I knew it."

"Why'd you let her kiss you?"

"I didn't know, okay?"

Sumire crossed her arms and sighed. "She apologized for it anyway. So let's not dwell on it furthermore."

Reuniting with Akechi, Shiho, Kasumi, and Morgana...

"Man, Narukami was right. We convinced them that the mission is entirely dangerous." the cat said somberly.

"I know I have every right to be mad at them, but... I feel a bit sorry for them, too." Shiho lamented.

"I know we have to apologize to them, but we are already behind schedule." Akechi reminded them as he remembered something. "Okumura, Niijima, and Kitagawa will be doing us the favor then. And if ever they end up in trouble, we can just simply pick them up with the chopper and bring them home."

"That's quite considerate of you, Akechi."

"I am a human being, Suzui. I am still capable of feeling emotions."

Kasumi stared at Ren and Sumire. "Were we too harsh on them?"

"We might be." Ren scratched his head as he admitted. "It's my fault I kept them in the dark."

"I had a lot of things to tell them, but I'll save it for another time."

"When this is all over, Kasumi." Sumire pats her shoulder before hugging her. "We'll make sure you hang out with them even for just one day."

"Shall we go now? We still have a mission to do, and a side mission to stay patient for."

At Morgana's heed, the new Phantom Thieves set out for Suidobashi to re-plan and reorganize themselves.

Chapter Text

March 27, 20XX

Location: Odaiba Seaside Park
Time: 1640 
hours

 

Ann arrives at the seaside park's bridge with a sad look. In front of her was the spot where she and Ren hung out together after finding her meaning in life in the middle of a photoshoot.  She slumps down after finding a bench and starts crying as people passed by her with weird faces. Confronting Ren and confessing to him (well, not directly until she kissed him) has got to be the worst day of her life as it cost her a lot.

"Why did I even bother....." She sniffled as she tries to wipe off her tears. "I wish it could've been done easier. Plus, the look on Sumire-chan's face kinda gave off a hint that someone else must've -!"

She then began to formulate a few theories, but gave up instead as she watched the sun set.

"No use.... I'm flying back to New York with a broken heart for many reasons...."

She remembers what Ren said. This will be my final mission as Joker.

"So he's retiring from it, too. Pretty sure everyone wasn't expecting him to say that."

Ann spent the remaining time alone, her thoughts shifting from Ren to Shiho to the Phantom Thieves to their mission until she thought about home.

"Home.... I wonder where am I home to?"

 

Location: Odaiba Park
Time: 1645 hours

 

"Anyone knew where Ann went?" Ryuji asked the group as they sat in the benches outside of the construction site.

"Last I heard, she wanted to talk with Ren and-"

"Don't mention that asshole's name. Ever." Ryuji stopped Yusuke from completing his answer. Apparently, the blonde boy took the whole revelation seriously.

"Who does he think he is, keeping us away from all the action!?"

Makoto sighed as she tried to talk to him without losing her temper. "He told us it was dangerous, and we couldn't convince him enough. He convinced us to back out, which is not surprising at all since he would do that sometimes."

"But still!"

"Suzui-chan and Mil-I mean, the other Kasumi-chan were seriously dedicated to help out Ren-kun in-"

Ryuji angrily grabbed Haru in the collar. "I SAID DON'T SAY THAT MOTHERFUCKER'S NAME!"

Makoto snapped and slapped Ryuji in the face hard.

"If you wanna vent your fucking anger out, vent it on me and not Haru!"

Ryuji didn't hesitate and boxed Makoto in the gut before receiving a stronger hit from her.

"Be careful of what you wish for, Ryuji-kun."

"Agreed. You're better than this, dude."

Ryuji looked up and jumped backward. "HOLY SHIT, A GHOST!"

"No, you idiot! It's me, William! Your inner self!"

Everyone turned around and saw Ryuji's Persona floating in front of him.

"About damn time you morons saw me. We tried to talk to you all earlier." William sounded with irritation.

"How can you speak to us?" Makoto inquired.

"First of all, ouch! I felt that jab to the gut, Agnes!"

"Is it my fault that you have gone rowdy and violent even to harming dear Lucy herself?"

"I do not mind the violence, but I can certain put you in the world of pain if you dare attack me again, you oaf!"

Now Makoto, Haru, and Ryuji witness their own Personas arguing at each other. Right in front of them, of all places.

"Just stop arguing! We just came from one, and we are not in the mood to hear another argument." Futaba spoke out as she buried her face on her knees.

"Do me a favor and don't harm any women, Ryuji." William warned him.

"Does the Fool's words affect your current mission now?" Agnes asked Makoto.

"I thought we could make him put us in the mission. I had the initiative to prove to him that we can still fight, but I didn't convince him enough nor did I convince Sumire, Morgana, and even Akechi of all people."

"There is a reason for his judgment, my Queen."

Makoto pressed her nails onto her palm and started sobbing. "We were foolish to even try...."

Yusuke still had the stick with him despite its history. Haru wiped her tears off as she asked him about it.

"You still have the stick. Why?"

"Although the Yusuke Kitagawa of Kasumi's world has perished, I cannot help but be conflicted in owning his stick to honor him or to cast it away to remind myself to never repeat his mistake." he answered with a conflicted expression.

"I still can't fathom the way Kasumi-chan explained our deaths. Would that be the case if we accepted Maruki's reality forever?"

"That would seem to be the case."

Gorokichi then appears in front of Yusuke.

"Are you still expressing doubt in your path towards success in the hands of rebellion?"

"Something like that."

"I have no recommendation for you in regards to that thing. It is all on you if you wanna honor it or decimate it."

Ryuji stood up and apologized to Haru for grabbing her by the collar.

"It's fine, Ryuji-kun. I get how you feel right now."

"Yeah. It felt like a stab to the chest, y'know?"

"What would the Ryuji of her world do?"

Futaba noticed that there is a notebook on her pocket. "Akira's Diary?"

Makoto looked at Futaba and parroted the title of the notebook, with Lucy and Agnes giving out their comments.

"It seems that feline placed it in there when you were busy spinning around like a ballet dancer out of rhythm."

"Not my fault he kept crawling around me like a spider." She pouted.

"Now then... shall we take a peek?"

The group minus Ann then took a look at Akira's diary. Although Yusuke grew fond of how Akira draws, the others have learned about themselves from the other world:

 

Makoto learned that The Phantom Thieves do killing instead of changing hearts with the exception of Sae Niijima and Masayoshi Shido.

Futaba learned that she was never a Palace ruler, but a Mementos victim in development of a Palace and an ally before she revealed herself after Kaneshiro.

Yusuke learned that Akira was a dedicated friend to all, even to the point of giving away his money to them for the sake of helping out.

Ryuji learned that he saved the group from dying more than once, and Akira kept kicking his ass to save him a lot from dying to return the favor.

For Ann's sake, Ryuji learned that she actually spent more time with Akira as a party member than him or anyone. Even after dating Kasumi.

Haru learned that she tried to save her Father, but a blackmail happened between saving her life or Kunikazu.

All of them learned that they were near-death to the God of Control and were saved by Akira's bravery to face death, but abandoned him after submitting to the false reality, even to the point where they already forgot about his existence.

 

"What the fuck...." Makoto closed the diary.

"So that's why..." Haru muttered.

"Dude was afraid of losing us for real... and our versions in his world became douchebags for a year." Ryuji moped.

"Looks like he was afraid of that possibility, so he went for Plan D and made a team who never abandoned him." Futaba deduced.

"But Sumire tried fighting them when she was threatened in her erasing, remember?"

"Indeed, but it was only because of survivor's guilt that she engaged in presuming the false identity of her late sister." Agnes told him.

"The Sumire inside never abandoned Ren entirely. Otherwise, she wouldn't have panicked after Ren allowed her to fire at his chest." Makoto thought.

"Excellent perception. Although based on how Violet told us, she deeply cared for the boy as she felt apologetic for what she has done because of her depressive state."

"Akechi betrayed him though!" Ryuji pointed out another one.

"Akechi happens to be a loner, from how he spoke in his battle in the engine room. But he only saw the Fool as the closest thing he has as family, and in truth he never planned to kill him the second time."

"Now that's just building up the guilt, Makoto. Quit guilt-tripping us!" Futaba exclaimed.

"I sometimes hate my brain." She buried her face in her hands.

Everyone remained quiet for quite some time. A phone call blares, with Haru answering it. After ending the short call, she turns to the group.

"I guess our ride to Kirijo-san will be here in about 30 minutes."

Yusuke then brought up Ann and Ren's decisions of retirement. "Okumura-san."

"Yes?"

"You're retiring after tonight, aren't you?"

Haru bit her lip and averted her gaze from him. She had second thoughts about this, and thinking about it more would distract her from the mission.

"I.... I don't want to say right now."

Yusuke respectfully accepted her answer and hummed. "It seems I'm the only one who is confirmed in also considering retirement aside from Ann."

"Dude, for real?" Ryuji wasn't liking where the conversation is going.

"Yes. My apologies, Ryuji, but even if I am enjoying our endeavors right now, I cannot help but wish for it to end for good."

"If it wasn't for you guys, I'd be dead. I made bonds with the people who saved me from my pain, and yet.... I'm also considering retirement."

"Futaba." Now Futaba is considering retirement as well, much to Ryuji's chagrin. At this point, only he, Haru, and Makoto don't have a final decision about it.

Haru stood up and tried to cheer them up. "Anybody want ice cream before we go?"

Everyone nodded, hoping that their snack now would be their last as a vigilante group.

"Looks like everyone isn't happy with the truth."

"You think so, Billy?"

"Don't ever call me that."

"How come my Persona won't talk to me?"

"Al Azif speaks a forbidden language. The best preference and solution is to stay mute and use you as the speaking medium."

"Jerks."

"As expected response."

Haru returns with 5 ice cream cones in her hand. Makoto then makes a toast out of it.

"A toast to the final mission of the Phantom Thieves. Betraying the leader and betrayed by the leader..."

"An unfortunate ending to an unexpected journey..."

"The most thrilling engagement of them all..."

"To the best of friends formed under the banner..."

"To the ones who saved Japan thrice from extermination..."

After doing so, they eat the ice cream until the limo arrives.

"Shall we get your paintings in your dormitory, Yusuke-kun?"

"Of course. Makoto, let's go."

Entering the long-bodied vehicle, Yusuke, Haru, and Makoto bid Ryuji and Futaba farewell as they speed off to Kanda. The two then proceed to look for Ann outside of the district.

 

Location: Odaiba Seaside Park
Time: 1930 hours

 

Ken walks along Koromaru after the dog's surgery from the gunshot wound as means of rehabilitating him. Koromaru runs off towards a bench where a sleeping girl is around.

"H-Hey, Koro- Huh?"

Koromaru then pounces on the girl and licks her face to wake her up.

"Mmmm... Ryuji, you're being gross by licking my f-"

She opens her eyes to see the old dog panting with joy.

"Oh, hi there. Koromaru, right?"

"Woof!"

"Where's your owner?"

Ken walks up to her, holding the broken leash. "Right here. Even after getting shot by Manahashi, Koromaru remains strong."

Ann gives him a wry smile before looking at the sky.

"Shit! What time is it?"

"7:32 in the evening."

"O-Oh. For a moment there, it looked like midnight."

"Midnight..." Ken looks up to the sky and made his way to sit with Ann, who then asked him about his experience as a Persona user.

"Amada-san."

"Yeah?"

"How did fighting Shadows for a lifetime feel for you?"

Ken carefully thought through with his response as he tries to give the best reasoning and consequence to it.

"To be honest, I'm hoping this would be the last."

"Why?"

"I started fighting Shadows when I was 12. At that time, I was already on my own after my mother died from a rogue Persona."

"Rogue Persona?" Ann now began to be interested in learning more as she runs her hand on Koromaru's fur.

"One of my teammates was revealed to be the murderer of my mother, but I couldn't face him with pure anger. During my time with him, he felt like an older brother for me. And seeing him die by a Strega assassin irritated me the most because not only did I show how weak I was, but it also showed that I'm not strong enough to keep the people close to me alive."

Ann's expression went sadder as he continued.

"Then we all had been given some sort of ultimatum: face death and delay humanity's doom, or allow death itself to deal its hand as we slowly perish."

"I see. So you've been given a deadly choice."

"We all chose to defy it. And we lost our leader in the process for it." Ken's expression went downcast.

"I'm so sorry..." Ann placed her hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay." He gently placed her hand off him. "Mitsuru and Akihiko kept an eye on me until I finished Gekkoukan High."

"When did you and Narukami-san meet?"

"I was actually a reserve member of the Shadow Operatives due to school. So were Junpei-san and Yukari-san due to their careers. When the main members were captured by a man named Sho Minazuki, who was later revealed to be possessed by a malevolent being, we were called in to save them in Inaba. Then we ran into Narukami-san when they were in danger. In the end, we prevented shit like the Midnight Fog from happening."

Ann then noticed his change of expression to seriousness. She dared ask him a question which dreaded her for a while.

"Do you.... regret being a Shadow Operative?"</