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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 18

Title: Reversing Arcana

Rating: T, for violence and language. Spoils everything.

Summary: Persona 3 and 4.  Six months after Souji leaves Inaba, he wakes up to his house on fire. The Investigation Team are the only ones who know he survived. But that's only the beginning of their troubles.

Author's Note:  A short chapter, but next chapter is super-long to make up for it.  Posting tonight as I'm not sure if I'll get the chance tomorrow.  Also, not sure if I'll be able to post on Wednesday, should be fine to but just in case this is a heads up that the chapter may be day or two late.

On a side note, I have now officially posted over a million words to FFnet.  Considering there's a lot on here that doesn't get posted to FFnet, that particular milestone must have properly passed months ago.  How the hell did that happen?

Previous chapter


Reversing Arcana

Chapter 18


Yosuke tears his gaze away from the shaky form of his partner to focus on that weird interloper.  He can barely wrap his head around everything that’s happened, but he’s determined to push past it.  If Souji could overlook everything his Shadow said, then it’s only fair…
Adachi raises an eyebrow.  “What are you talking about?”
“I’m saying that you’re not needed anymore,” Elizabeth says pleasantly.  With a casual gesture, the form of a young blonde girl in a blue dress appears before her. 
She giggles.  The sound echoes unnaturally.  She makes a curtsy, and murmurs cutely…
“…Please die for me.”
The wave of darkness that rolls over Adachi makes Mudoon look like a flickering shadow.  Yosuke finds his knees shaking, entirely of their own volition.
Shit, was that Alice?
She’s a terrifying Persona, one Souji rarely pulled out.  The first time he’d seen her, all Yosuke could think was that she reminded him of Teddie’s costume in the Miss Yasogami contest, but then he forgot everything else in the chilling sense of threat that followed.  He’d been counting them lucky they hadn’t stumbled across her in their mad dash through the dungeon.
The darkness recedes as quickly as it came.  Adachi emerges shaken, but unscathed.
Elizabeth, for her part, merely seems bemused.  “Resistant to that element, are you?”  She flips to another page of the book, and Alice disappears, to be replaced by an angel with enormous wings, clad entirely in ornate armour.
Adachi barely has a chance to recover before the Heavenly Blade crashes down.  He’s flung across the flaming room, and hits the ground with a painful thump, sliding until he impacts the wall.  He falls still.  Unconscious. 
Yosuke reaches for the presence of Jiraiya.  It’s little comfort.
“Guys, more company!” Rise warns.
He can’t decide whether it’s better to keep an eye on the placidly smiling girl, his friend and his Shadow who are hovering on the brink of a rejection, or the newcomers. 
Three sets of footsteps thunder into the room behind him.  “Finally!” A guy’s voice.
“Adachi!”  A girl.  That weird trio from the Kirijo Group.  Yosuke hadn’t thought they were so close behind.
“He’s unconscious,” Chie offers unnecessarily.
Running over to the prone murderer, the white-haired guy quickly slaps a pair of handcuffs on him.  Yosuke wants to suggest he cuff the bastard’s legs, too, but keeps his focus split between his friend and the girl.  If she pulls out Alice against them this time, he’s a sitting duck.
“Why?” Naoto asks.  Her gun is raised now, trained on Elizabeth.  “That’s what I can’t figure out.  Why help Adachi, then turn against him?  What’s your purpose to all of this?  What’s your connection?”
“My purpose?” With a mysterious smile, Elizabeth flips open her book, and withdraws a card – a very familiar looking card.  Just like the ones they shatter, summoning their Personae.  “This.”
With a carelessly elegant gesture, she tosses the card at Souji.  As it spins through the air, Yosuke catches a glimpse of a harp.
Startled, Souji raises his hand.  His fingers close reflexively, crushing the card.  There’s a flash of white light…
Then he collapses to the ground.
The Shadow has disappeared.
He’s in the lobby again.
Souji drags himself up off the black and white tiles, looking around.  His Shadow’s gone, but he knows he didn’t accept it – had been on the verge of rejecting it, even though he knew how dangerous that was.  Its absence aches keenly, a void so stark that he finds himself looking down to check he’s whole.
Nothing.  He looks around more carefully now.  The silence is unnerving.  The lobby is entirely empty.
No Margaret.  No Igor.  And when he turns back to look, he can’t see the limousine parked outside, either.
There’s only the elevator, standing open, waiting.
He remains there for several long minutes, but nothing changes. 
Reluctantly, he approaches the elevator – his steps a lonely echo on the chequered floor.   
There’s a velvet-covered chair within, the same royal blue as the carpet and drapes.  A small card table sits in front of it.  The back of the elevator is glass, and at the top there’s an old-fashioned clock, the hands stuck on midnight.
Souji steps inside.
“What the hell did you do?!” Kanji snarls, rushing forward.  Only Chie’s quick grab for his jacket holds him back.
“Partner?  Partner!  Hey, wake up!”  Yosuke’s kneeling next to Souji, shaking his shoulders with growing hysteria.
“He won’t wake,” Elizabeth tells them.  “Not until it’s done.”
“Elizabeth-san.”  The blonde girl called Aigis steps forward.  “What have you done?”
“Yeah, explain!” Chie demands.
“I’ve been searching for a way to bring him back,” Elizabeth explains, in a very matter-of-fact manner, the way a teacher might explain their thesis to a much younger student, never truly expecting the student to understand.
Our wildcard,” Kirijo breathes.
Rise’s busy scanning with Kanzeon.  What she’s seeing gives her chills.  It’s like her senpai is dead, even though she can still see his chest rising and falling, still sense his state of health – battered and exhausted, but unquestionably alive
“He died, didn’t he?” Naoto asks.  Rise can hear the tremor of carefully controlled anger in her voice.  “And you’re trying to bring him back.  But what does that have to do with Souji-senpai?”
“I finally found a way to reach him,” Elizabeth remarks placidly.  “But you see, there’s no body left for him.”
“And you needed a vessel,” Rise states numbly.  Elizabeth nods, and holds up three fingers.
“I required three things.  First, a host that could be stripped of its ego.  For this, I needed the talents of Adachi Tohru.  Second, that host needed the ability of the wildcard, so that a path existed for a new ego to take hold.”  The card she threw, Rise realises.  “And third… a path to this world.  The Midnight Hour ended and the time loop resolved, but new gateways into the collective heart and consciousness of humanity now exist.  Pandora’s Box has already been opened.”  She smiles at them, as though quietly delighted by her own cleverness.  She reminds Rise less of a teacher now, and more of a precocious child.  “To access these, I needed the work of the Kirijo Group.”
Kirijo steps back, genuinely horrified.  “No.  I would never… something like this…”
“Not even to bring him back?” Elizabeth asks with an innocent curiosity.
She shakes her head sharply.  “When I received those files… I never thought it would involve an innocent.  I never would have touched this research again if I knew this would happen.”  Her eyes snap to Elizabeth, and Rise can almost see the frost forming behind them.  “How did you do it?  How could you have coordinated all of this?  Not just Adachi, but us as well.”
Elizabeth tilts her head in acknowledgement.  “I may have left the Velvet Room, but there is still much influence that can be had from the world of dreams.”
“Wait,” Chie interrupts, voice steadily rising in pitch.  “I don’t get this.  Are you saying that you’re going to take away Souji and have some dead guy take over his body?”
“In a crude manner of speaking, yes,” Elizabeth replies.
“What the hell?!” Yosuke shouts.  “We didn’t come all this way to rescue him to have you take him away from us again!”
“But to the outside world, he is already dead, is he not?  This keeps things simple.”
Yosuke sputters with indignant rage, and Rise’s seriously wishing Kanzeon had some kickass magic of her own right now.
There’s a whir and a clunk, and one of the others from Kirijo’s trio steps forward.  “I don’t understand, Elizabeth-san,” the blonde girl called Aigis says.  “Why involve an outsider?  I hold the wild card too.  For him, I would gladly give my own life.”
“Pointless.  Your wild card was inherited.  A side effect from the phenomenon following that fateful January,” Elizabeth informs her.  “You are not an appropriate vessel.  Your subconscious desire for life and humanity is so strong it manifested as an entirely independent entity.  Metis would never permit it.”
The white-haired guy – Akihiko, Rise recalls belatedly – shakes his head.  “This isn’t right.  That guy wouldn’t want this.”
“Stop it!” Rise demands.  “Whatever it is, end it!  Bring Senpai back!”  Tears are prickling at her eyes.  Her senpai’s just lying there, and it’s like he doesn’t even exist to Kanzeon’s senses, and she’s terrified that he’s going to be gone for real if they don’t do something soon.
“I cannot.  No… more accurately, I will not,” she replies.  “I have worked hard for this.”  She looks genuinely bewildered at the glares she’s receiving, especially those from Kirijo and Akihiko.  “I don’t understand.  Don’t you want him back?  After everything he sacrificed?  He is surely an individual worth saving.”
Aigis shakes her head sadly.  “Elizabeth-san… I too once did not know the value of life.  But as much as I would happily sacrifice myself for him, I cannot allow you to proceed with this.”  Inexplicably, the headphones she wears begin to spin.
With pursed lips, Elizabeth says, “I’m sorry you feel that way.  I’m afraid, however, that events have already been set in motion.”  Then she snaps her book shut with an air of finality. 
Rise turns horrified eyes on the prone form of their leader.  No way… “Senpai!”

Next chapter


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 26th, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
shit shit shit that's MINATO'S compendium and dammit, this is so awesome.

... did I mention that this is so awesome and SO MANY THINGS ARE GOING ON THAT I CAN'T EVEN COMMENT COHERENTLY?!
Nov. 26th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
Haha, thanks. :) Two chapters left!
Nov. 26th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I can't wait. Haha. <3
Nov. 27th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
"[Elizabeth] told me that she was going to save [Minato] from that fate."

I suspected that since Elizabeth's appearance, and it looks like it's happening in the worst way possible. But, I suppose, part of the question is whether Minato gets a choice in the matter, and whether he'll accept that :3c
Nov. 27th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Indeed, it was somewhat predictable, and not likely to get past you. :) Hope you like the conclusion!
Nov. 27th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Nov. 27th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
I was clicking the next chapter link like crazy, and now I have to wait ;;


Is it bad that I'm hoping for Margaret to pop out and start a sisterly fight over their respective wild cards...
Nov. 28th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
Hahah, well, one cliffhanger is better than ten, right? So really, you still win.

I wonder if Margaret or Elizabeth will be secret characters in that new P4 fighting game...
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )