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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 15

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: I've been super-productive this week!  Almost makes up for the past fortnight of non-productivity... here's a chapter.

Previous chapter


Reversing Arcana

Chapter 15


Someone is shaking his shoulder.  Yosuke swipes at the offender with a grunt.  His body feels like a sandbag – if sandbags could ache - and there’s no way in hell he’s getting up yet, school or work be damned.  He’ll call in sick.  It’ll be the truth.
“Senpai. Psst, Senpai!  Wake up!”
Yosuke lurches into a sitting position, and their skulls crack.  Kanji swears as they both clutch at their foreheads.  It’s such a cliché moment that Yosuke’s too embarrassed to be annoyed.  “What are you-”
Then he notices their surroundings – the mirrored walls, the hard ground, and the fox curled up against his side giving him a displeased look.
This is definitely not his bedroom.
It rushes back after that, and he slouches.  “How are we doing for time?”
“It’s been three hours.  We probably oughta get goin’.  Do you wanna wake up the others?”
Three hours.  Three measly hours of sleep is not nearly enough after a whole day of school, then hours of cycling with a pop idol and fox on his bike, and then another couple of hours of dungeon trawling after that.  Why’d he have to go be all macho and insist he and Kanji would cover the watch?  They should have made at least Teddie do some, except nobody actually trusted Teddie with keeping watch.  They probably would have woken up with Shadows as pillows.
And Kanji even has the nerve to not look tired at all.  How much damn working out does that guy do anyway?  No way hauling fabrics can make you that buff.  “Fine, let’s go.”
He’s too exhausted to even make a fuss of it, and wanders over to Teddie, kicking the bear suit in the side.  “Hey, Ted, get up.”  The old routine feels marginally comforting, even though it’s been months since Teddie last stayed with him.  Chie gets the same treatment, prompting swearing.  He leaves waking up Yukiko, Rise, and Naoto to her, lest he gets accused of being a pervert.
“I’m dying, seriously,” he mutters, forcing himself to do some stretches so the mere act of moving won’t hurt.  Working at Junes just isn’t the same as joining an athletics club.
“Don’t complain, Yosuke-senpai.”  Kanji’s overheard him.  Great.  “Senpai’s been in here for a lot longer.”
“I know that!” He’s snappish and irritable.  Too bad – he’s barely slept, and this whole mess keeps getting more complicated and is stressing him out.  “I’m just… frustrated, okay!  Leave me alone!”  It’s so much worse, too, trying to fight with Jiraiya.  He feels like dead weight.  “Are we ready to go yet?  I don’t want those other guys to get a big lead on us.”
“The Shadows will slow them down,” Rise states confidently.  “And they’ll have to rest, too.”
“And they don’t have Kanzeon or Teddie’s nose, right?” Chie chips in with a yawn.
“Right!  Even if I can’t see as far, I can keep us going in the right direction.  And we won’t waste time retracing our steps.”  Rise is somehow perfectly bubbly despite having just woken up after a night on the cold hard ground.  It must be some secret idol superpower.
Naoto, on the other hand, is quiet, standing off to the side.  She’s been like that since they came across those other weird Persona-users. 
He doesn’t make any move to go try and talk to her, though.  After all, she already knew someone else had bought the TV in Junes and didn’t say anything, even when everyone had been accusing him!  And that she went off and told other people about the TV world without discussing it with them…
Souji probably would have been understanding.  He knows how Naoto’s mind works best out of the lot of them.  And heck, they all knew how the junior detective liked to keep things on a need-to-know basis, annoying as it could be.  But Yosuke doesn’t have it in him to overlook the betrayal, not right now.  Maybe after they get Souji out of here he’ll feel a little more reasonable.
Yosuke shivers.  Besides, those newcomers are just weird.  Shooting themselves in the head to summon their Persona?  How messed up is that?
It looks like he’s not the only one feeling that way – there’s an awkward silence hovering over the group as they knock back a breakfast of TaP sodas and energy bars and make their way back out into the dungeon. 
The Shadows are, at least, few and far between – they obviously haven’t spread back into the areas Adachi and those strangers cleared yet.  They make pretty good time, though even Rise can’t tell how large the dungeon is.  They’re even getting used to ignoring their creepy reflections.
That’s when they get another curve ball.
“Watch out!  There’s an unusual Shadow ahead!” Rise calls out in warning.
Yosuke flips his daggers in his hands, ready to call on Jiraiya – pointless though it is – on a moment’s notice.  Tired as he is, he wouldn’t mind working some of his current frustrations out on some hapless Shadow.
The Shadow that bounces into view, however, is not what any of them expect.
Short. Snow-white. The proportions of a teddy bear.  And wearing a rather adorable blue cap and collar.
“Is that… Jack Frost?” Chie asks in disbelief.
When the familiar Persona spots them, it freezes, like a deer in headlights. 
Yosuke looks around, expecting to see his buddy not far behind, but the corridor is empty. 
“Oh noooooo, no no no no,” Teddie moans, as though something has occurred to him.
Chie half-crouches, approaching the cute Persona like one might a scared puppy.  “Hey there, little guy.  Where’s Souji?”
“Um, Chie, I’m not sure if…”
Then suddenly, his mouth opens wide, and the two gleaming fangs inside are no longer looking so adorable.  “Hee-ho!
A wave of ice batters them, chilling Yosuke to the bone and leaving frost on his glasses.  “Whoa!”  The ice barely affects Chie, but she’s caught by surprise all the same, and stumbles back, fighting to keep her feet. Yukiko shrieks.  Naoto moves to help her up, but Kanji beats her to it.
As soon as she’s upright again, she sweeps her fan through the air.  “Agidyne!”
Jack Frost screeches, and disappears into a pillar of flame.
“Eeek!”  Yukiko’s flustered.  “I didn’t mean to-  Sorry!  I overreacted!”
“No, no, it’s okay.” Chie waves her off.  “He attacked, it was his fault!”
“This is weird,” Yosuke says, looking at the charred patch of ground Jack Frost inhabited mere moments before.  “How can his Personae be running around without him?”
It’s starting to look like they have more than just interlopers to worry about in this dungeon.
“What the hell do you mean he can’t come to the phone?!” Doujima barks.
The other officers in the station pause, looking up from their work.  Cursing under his breath, Doujima reaches over and slams shut the door to his office.
He loosens his tie, and tries to restrain his voice.  “Look, stop trying to feed me that crap about transferrals.  I’m a detective.  I can see that he’s right there in your records.  And I want to speak with him.”  He pauses.  “What do you mean ‘do I have a subpoena’?  I don’t need one!”
The tinny voice on the other end babbles some more legal crap at him.  It’s bullshit.  Doujima might not be one of those young hot shot geniuses who memorise the handbook and are forensic expert and lawyer and detective all rolled into one, but he’s been in the business for a hell of a long time.  For all the battering his department’s reputation went through the previous year with those bodies strung up on aerials, he’s still a damn good detective.  He knows the rules and regulations like the back of his hand.
A growl builds in his throat.  “Why do I need to talk to him?  It’s none of your damn-”  He takes a deep breath, and pinches the bridge of his nose.  As much as he wants to, losing it isn’t going to help him any.  “There’s a case I thought he might have some information on.”  The tinny voice on the other end poises another question.  Grumbling under his breath, he replies, “No, it’s not a formal interrogation.  Look, do I need to come up there myself?”
Their response nearly makes him pop an artery.  “Don’t bother?!  What the hell is-”  His grinding teeth must surely be audible over the line.  “Forget it!  I’ll be talking to your superior!”  He scribbles the name down on the notepad next to his phone, and slams it back into its cradle.
This stinks worse than day-old sushi from the Junes food court.  How the hell can’t a detective get a call through to a prisoner?  He’s spoken to Adachi twice before without any problems, once after he’d confessed and once more after his trial – and that hadn’t even been using his clout as a detective!
Doujima lights a cigarette.  The smoke curls towards the ceiling, but the nicotine does little to soothe his anxiety.  He doesn’t want to relax.  His intuition has been going crazy, and his patience has run out.
He doesn’t know what to do, though.  They never properly solved those murders.  Once Adachi confessed, there had been enough circumstantial evidence for his conviction, but they never managed a full reconstruction.
He leaves his office, and wanders through the station.  The two other officers on the floor – doing paperwork after their patrol – openly watch him, but nobody asks what the outburst had been about.  They’re all walking on eggshells around him these days.  It was like this when his wife died.  When Adachi betrayed them, too.  And now, with his nephew…
He stops outside the interrogation room.  In the back corner, shrouded by shadows, is a wide screen TV.  It’s mostly used for video conferencing, though they’ve been known to put it on in the past to occupy children waiting for their parents, or for showing videos on road safety.
Doujima takes a drag on his cigarette, and slips inside the room.  He doesn’t bother turning on the light.
TVs, huh?  It’s all so outrageous.  And he never did get a proper explanation from his nephew.
Tentatively, he reaches out.  The distance between his hand and the dark screen slowly closes, and…
Nothing.  The screen is unyielding beneath his fingers.
He flattens his palm against it, and lets it rest there for a moment, cool against his skin.  When he finally lets his hand fall, there’s an ashy set of fingerprints splayed across the screen.  Half-heartedly, he wipes the worst of it off with his sleeve.
He goes back to his office, and flips open the internal directory to prison services again.
He might as well stick to questions he can answer.  And there are still a lot of numbers left to try.
It’s not long after their encounter with Jack Frost that the Investigation Team runs into Adachi again.
He turns when he hears their footsteps, and smirks.  “Look who’s caught up.”
There’s the promise of murder in Yosuke’s voice.  Naoto feels the urge to step in, but shame stills her feet.
She does not have the right to act on the Investigation Team’s behalf anymore.
Adachi ignores the outburst.  “You were all taking so long, I thought you’d given up on poor little Souji-kun.”  He looks around the dungeon with a grin.  “Pretty creepy, right?  Bet you’ve been wondering what it means.  If any of you really know him.”
“Shut up!  You’re not allowed to talk about Senpai like that!” Kanji threatens.
“Big words from a bunch of brats who haven’t even finished high school yet.  You’ve been taking an awful long time to rescue your friend, you know that?  How long ago was that fire?  Three weeks?” Adachi’s smirk twists into a leer.  “Boy, you kids must really suck to take that long to get here.”
“But we’re here now!” Chie says, putting her foot down and her fists up.  “Don’t think we’ll let you get away with this!  What have you been doing to him?”
“Compared to all of you?  Hardly anything.”  His voice is oily; his tongue like a striking snake as it spits out venomous, deadly words so easily.  “Sure, I roughed him up a little, but like that hardly matters.  It’s nothing nearly so bad as his friends betraying him.” 
Naoto flinches.  She can’t help it. 
“And what about this damn bear?  Pathetic.  He doesn’t even have a reflection.  He can’t even summon a Persona anymore, can he?”
Teddie is shaking his head back and forth, distressed.
“Leave him alone!” Yosuke snaps.  He rushes forward, daggers brandished.
Adachi slips to the side, and one swift jab sends Yosuke stumbling.  He follows through with a knee to the gut that makes the others wince in sympathy.  “Is that all you’ve got?” he taunts.  He grabs Yosuke by the neck before he can find his feet again.
“Let him go!” Chie yells, ready to rush in herself.
“Guys, watch out!  Don’t forget, his Persona’s really strong!” Rise warns.
Naoto grits her teeth.  She can’t shoot, not with Yosuke in the way.  Chie and Yukiko are panicking without Souji’s guidance.  Kanji’s too slow.  Teddie’s useless.
No choice.  “Persona!
It’s a mistake.  The minute she tries to call it forth, she knows it’s a mistake. 
Instead of the armour-clad, sword-wielding pixie-like Yamato-Takeru, it’s the boyishly-dressed, bandage-wrapped Sukuna-Hikona.
Adachi pauses, eying her woefully insufficient Persona with interest, even as Yosuke swears and struggles in his grasp.  “Hey, now.  That’s not the Persona I remember.  Isn’t that interesting?”
It doesn’t seem to matter, though, as she’s bought time for Kanji to charge in, shield brandished.  “Take this, you bastard!”
Adachi dodges that, too, but he breaks his hold on Yosuke to do it.  Kanji grabs him by the back of his shirt and drags him to safety.
The former detective doesn’t seem bothered, though.  He’s looking at her, in a way that makes her skin crawl, the way she’s seen psychopaths look at their victims in a courtroom.  Like she’s a puzzle, one he’s solved and now wants to break apart.
“Heh.  I’ve been wanting to test it.  To see if it would work on others, too.  I guess I’ve got my answer.”
Naoto eyes the others. 
She and Yosuke are liabilities like this – against Adachi’s Magatsu Izanagi, their weaker Personae won’t cut it.  Teddie’s even worse off.  That leaves only Chie, Yukiko, and Kanji.
All of them, with Souji included, had struggled against Adachi that dark December.
With only three of them at full strength, they don’t stand a chance.
The call to retreat is on the tip of her tongue when the air grows suddenly frigid.  Moments later, massive crystals of ice bombard the corridor, shattering like glass and spreading frost to all they touch.
Mabufudyne.  A strong one.
She looks to Chie, who waves her hands.  “It’s not me!”
“Tch.”  Adachi scowls.  “This again?”  He tosses a look their way, full of cool contempt.  “…I wanted to play some more, but this way could be fun too.  A race, right?  Which of us will make it to your precious Souji-kun first?” 
With that, Adachi cuts and runs again. 
“The hell?!  You-!” Kanji starts to run after him.
“Wait, guys!” Rise calls in warning.
Through the clearing ice, Naoto catches a glimpse of dark skin, Egyptian silk, and white feathers. 
“Oh shit,” Yosuke states plainly.
Looming above them is the unmistakeable form of Isis.

Next chapter


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2011 08:08 am (UTC)
Magician level 1. One of the first personae you can get. The first arcana/social link to lose their amped up persona.

Isis, also Yukari's amped up persona.

....... the IMPLICATIONS.
Nov. 16th, 2011 08:13 am (UTC)

Isis is also the highest fusion in Empress arcana/social link in P4.
Nov. 16th, 2011 08:26 am (UTC)

... oh shit. Margaret. D:
Nov. 16th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
I swear, you are the mistress of cliffhangers.
Nov. 17th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Thank you. I work hard on them. (It's called reader entrapment.)
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
I think my feelings can be succinctly summarised as OH SNAP.


/has been quietly reading all this time
Nov. 17th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Nov. 17th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)

Also have you seen the inclusion of Mitsuru and Akihiko in that P4 fighting game? I'M. DYING OF LAUGHTER OVER HERE.
Nov. 17th, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
Awesome! Wait... WHAT ARE THEY WEARING? Seriously, Akihiko, a cape with no shirt?! XD And Mitsuru looks like a Russian dominatrix.

Mar. 8th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
I've been refraining from gibbering over every chapter so that the inbox spam is somewhat contained, but I CAN'T HELP IT HERE.

Doujima's detective instincts! *mad cheering over here*

All these hints you've been dropping have been slowly killing me! I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I didn't have the whole fic in front of me right here and now. Souji's weakening Personae in combination with his weakening links and the weakening powers of the IT... Dear mother of all, this cannot be good... WTF did Adachi DO? T-T

Also, it's interesting that the Personae they've encountered so far are the ones that Souji can still summon. I wonder... What if there's more to this mirror thing than I initially thought? Maybe they've actually caught up to Souji... Hmm...

I giggled a bit at poor little Jack Frost, though now I'm imagining how bad it could be if they ran into some of the stronger ones... I'd wet my pants if Lucifer jumped me.
Mar. 8th, 2012 10:07 am (UTC)
Heh, I take this to mean you have finished P4 then? :)

I think you're the only person who noticed that the Persona encounters were only the ones he had left! So props for that. Although your idea here was pretty cool, with the mirror thing. *regret*
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )