You may have noticed something. Song of the Messiah now has a cover image! It took a lot of time finding the right images to use to make the cover, and this is the result. Seriously, there was so much trial and error (and finding an image editor that could do what I needed to do to make the cover) that even looking back on it is painful.
I noticed that last chapter, someone observed that Hell Biker is based on Ghost Rider's appearance, and I want to point out that they're partially right. Yeah, the being on fire part is based on GR, but GR's skull is the part that's on fire, and HB's collarbone is the part that's on fire, meaning that the skull is in the fire, not on fire. AoS and the movies aren't a factor in this, so don't get on me about the clothes or weapon and how GR has a scorched skull in the second movie. Just to make it clear.
By the way, for Kanade's Persona skills, I'll be using eight skills from composite Hell Biker from SMTII up to PQ2, one from each. And yes, I used Megami Tensei wiki for it. The list will be at the bottom of the chapter.
Also, to that guest complaining about how I made Kanade a Persona user: I hinted in the very first chapter that there would be a new Persona user in the story. If you never noticed, well, I don't know what to say, other than it's not my fault. Onishin wa... warukunai yo ne~
And yes, I fell into the Hololive rabbit hole. I've been in it since the Azur Lane collab. My favorite girls are the following:
Gen 0 - Miko
Gen 1 - Fubuki
Gen 2 - Aqua
Gen 3 - Pekora
Gen 4 - Watame
Gen 5 - Polka
EN - Ina'nis
Sorry to ID, CN, and Holostars. I don't really watch them. Also, RIP CN branch. And best of luck to Kira, since he graduated citing health concerns.
Anyways, onto the story!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Megami Tensei franchise or Symphogear
Kanade watched the imposing being rampage around the park, destroying Noise left and right. As her mind cleared from the adrenaline, she started to remember the past minute more vividly; the voices, the things that flashed into her mind, the emptiness in her chest that was simultaneously cold and burning.
As the car arrived in the park, Kanade noticed the case Makoto always kept on his person was next to her. She quickly opened it and grabbed the only item inside. Just as quickly, she closed the case and placed it back where it was. Looking at the item, she noted that it was a gun. More specifically, it seemed to be a semi-automatic pistol. However, there was something about it that told her that it wasn't a normal gun. Feeling for energy the same way she called on her Armed Gear when using Gungnir, she was surprised to sense something. Getting out of the van, she was about to rush to Tsubasa when she saw the wounds. Tsubasa stood there, her blood pouring upon the ground like a waterfall.
Kanade saw red. The Noise were going to do it again. They were going to take Tsubasa away from her, just like they took her family. Filled with rage, she charged forwards, ignoring the others. Raising the gun at the Noise, she pulled the trigger. However, nothing happened. Blinking in confusion, she tried again and again, but to no avail. Even when she focused on the energy in the gun, nothing happened. 'How did Makoto use it?' she thought. Taking a look at Tsubasa's fallen form as the Noise approached her, her eyes steeled. 'No,' she thought, 'I swore I wouldn't die until I avenged my family! And I won't lose Tsubasa either!'
Suddenly, for reasons unknown to her, a certain memory flashed in her mind. She saw the Noise attack on the excavation site, and her parents and little sister getting reduced to carbon ash in front of her. But they didn't fall apart. Still carbonizing, they turned to face her, their eyes lifeless and empty. "Go on," they spoke in unison, but it wasn't with their voices. They all shared the same dark voice. "You know what to do." They raised their hands to their heads and had their fingers imitate a gun, gesturing as though firing it. As they mimicked suicide, their bodies finally crumbled to dust. Looking down at the piles of ash, Kanade saw their lifeless eyes, which somehow didn't carbonize, staring back up at her. "Do it."
Kanade was back in the park. Looking down at the gun, she was morbidly surprised that she didn't feel fear. As though possessed, she grinned as she shakily raised the gun and placed it under her chin, fingering the trigger. As if by instinct, the word came out of her mouth. "Per... so... na!" She pulled the trigger.
She snapped out of her thoughts when Makoto ran forwards, Evoker raised to his head. "Oberon!" He pulled the trigger, and a handsome fair-skinned young man wearing regal clothing and a crown appeared, flying towards the Noise with his black butterfly wings, rapier at the ready. Human and Persona danced about, elegantly moving as they fought. The Noise fell left and right, numbers slowly lowering. However, the white-haired girl who escaped was wise enough to spawn several Noise that had the ability to create more Noise. Hibiki, who had snapped out of her shock, ran forwards and joined the fight.
Sensing danger, Kanade jumped back just in time to dodge a flying Noise's dive attack. Hell Biker suddenly zoomed in front of the girl and struck it, reducing it to dust. Hunching over, Kanade gritted her teeth and grasped her head in pain as the Persona roared, charging at the Noise once more. It threw its pipe, holding on to the chain to turn the weapon into a makeshift whip. The bar of steel ignited as it swung about, leaving flames in its wake. Pulling the pipe back, the Persona revved its motorcycle and shot towards the remaining Noise. Just as it reached them, it suddenly braked and swung the back wheel at the Noise, sending a wave of fire at them. As they were engulfed by the flames, Hell Biker wildly bashed them with its pipe.
Noticing this, Makoto shouted, "Kanade-san, wait! If you do that much right now, you'll-" As the last of the Noise disintegrated, Kanade collapsed to the ground, unconscious. Sighing, he picked her up and rushed back to Genjuro and Ryoko, Hibiki following shortly behind. As he handed Kanade over, he said, "She pushed herself too far, so she'll be unconscious for a while. The same thing happened to me when I started." Crouching down to check Tsubasa, who had been given quick emergency treatment, he raised his Evoker once more. "Kikuri-Hime." As the feminine Persona manifested, he held a hand over Tsubasa and finished, "Diarahan."
Tsubasa, still unconscious, gasped as her wounds healed. Watching in concern, Hibiki asked, "Will she be alright?"
Shaking his head, Makoto responded, "Only physically. She still needs to recover from the mental effects of improperly using her Swan Song." At the girl's questioning look, he explained, "From what I understand, improper use of the Swan Song will lead to severe injuries and even death. Kanade would have died two years ago if I didn't stop her." Looking to Genjuro, he sighed and finished, "I was hoping that I would be able to explain my abilities when Hibiki got used to this, but it looks like I'll have to explain it when Kanade wakes up. We should go." Genjuro simply nodded.
Two days later, Kanade groaned as she woke up, head pounding. Grimacing as the afternoon sun shone into her eyes, she attempted to get up to reach the curtain, but a hand stopped her. Weakly turning to see who it was, she blinked blearily at the sight of Makoto's relieved face. Standing right behind him was Genjuro. Coughing, she managed to ask, "What happened?"
Gently propping the girl up and giving her a cup of water, Makoto softly said, "You became my apprentice, that's what happened. Do you remember anything?"
Greedily gulping down the water, the red-haired girl slowly answered, "I remember that thing showing up after I shot myself with that gun. What was that?"
Makoto answered, "That was your Persona. A physical manifestation of thought."
Confused, Kanade asked, "What do you mean?"
Shaking his head, Makoto replied, "Now's not the time to explain. You and Tsubasa were badly hurt."
Eyes widening, the red-haired girl quickly exclaimed, "Tsubasa! How is she?"
Stepping in, Genjuro said, "She's fine, though she hasn't woken up yet. We were worried, Kanade. You were unconscious for two days. You're lucky that Golden Week had just started that day."
Makoto interjected, "And you're even luckier that it was only two days. When I first did it, I was unconscious long enough to miss a week of school."
As Kanade tried to get out of the bed to stand, Genjuro offered her support. The man asked, "Anyways, Kanade, are you feeling alright?"
Smiling faintly, the girl jokingly quipped, "I'll be fine. Just gotta get my blood pumping, you know?"
"Take it easy," said Genjuro, "you just woke up. I'll let the others know that you're awake." As Kanade managed to stand up, albeit shakily, he moved to leave the room. Pausing at the door, he finished, "Don't push yourself. It won't do you any good to hospitalize yourself again, especially after you just woke up." With that, he left the room.
Taking a step forwards, Kanade attempted to walk, only to fall over, prompting Makoto to catch her before she hit the ground. Worried, he asked, "Are you alright?" Kanade opened her mouth to respond when her stomach growled loudly. Smiling in faint amusement as the girl blushed, he said, "I'll go get something for you to eat." The girl sheepishly nodded.
A few hours later, Kanade was cleared to be released. As Tsubasa still showed no signs of waking up, Makoto had no choice but to give answers about Personas without her present. He sat in the Section Two headquarters with Hibiki, Kanade, Genjuro, Shinji, Aoi, Sakuya, and Ryoko. Taking a breath, he looked at Aoi and Sakuya and said, "You might want to record this, since I really don't want to explain it again when Tsubasa-san wakes up." After the two scientists typed in a few keys on a panel and nodded at him, he took it as a sign to start. "First off, I'm going to say it now. I'm not from this world."
Confused, Hibiki asked, "What do you mean?" Meanwhile, Kanade and the adults narrowed their eyes.
Quickly recovering, Ryoko asked, "Oh? What can you tell us about it?"
The blue-haired boy answered, "My world isn't too different from yours. We weren't as technologically advanced. Even though there was still some advanced technology that wasn't available to the public, it wasn't close to the same level as this world's. Other than that, it's just about the same in terms of lifestyle."
Concerned, Kanade asked, "But if your world's technology wasn't as advanced, how did you deal with the Noise?"
Shaking his head, Makoto said, "We didn't have the Noise." Before anyone could interrupt, he added, "We had something else - the Dark Hour, a time in which Shadows manifested."
Genjuro prodded, "Can you tell us anything about them?"
Makoto responded, "The Dark Hour was a phenomenon in which a twenty-fifth hour occurs. In the Dark Hour, monsters called Shadows manifest. Shadows are the darkness within people. In other words, they are monsters born from human emotion. In addition, they attack any human they can find and devour their minds, leaving them in a vegetative state known as Apathy Syndrome." Having prepared for the explanation, he reached into his pocket and took out one of the few photos he had from SEES's files regarding the Dark Hour. Placing it on the table, he revealed a photo of a man standing in a train station. However, the occupants of the room noticed the problem.
"What happened to him?" asked Hibiki, horrified. The other members of Section Two shared the sentiment. The man in the photo was deathly pale, his skin nearly bone white. His eyes were lifeless, and the rings around them were so dark that they almost thought that his eyes were empty sockets. The man's posture was atrocious, with his legs wide apart, knees bent inwards, mild slouch, and head rolled back and tilting to the side. In the background, similar people could be seen, though the details were blurry due to them being a distance away.
"That's Apathy Syndrome, isn't it?" said Shinji. Makoto simply nodded.
"The worst part, though, is that the Dark Hour was hidden, so most people were unaware of its existence."
Confused, Aoi asked, "What do you mean, hidden?"
Scratching the back of his head, Makoto said, "I don't know exactly how, but right before midnight started, the Dark Hour began, and when it ended, it would be midnight of the next day."
"Wait," said Kanade, "how did people not know about the Dark Hour?"
Taking out another photograph, Makoto placed it on the table as well. "When the Dark Hour began, people turned into coffins that protected their minds from the Shadows. But there were some people who didn't turn, and they were the ones who became victims of Apathy Syndrome." The photo was of a street at night bathed in an eerie green light. Scattered across it were coffins randomly placed about, with red light glowing from the bases.
Carefully, Genjuro asked, "If that is so, how did your world combat against the Shadows? There had to be some way to fight them, since it's clear that there were people aware of their existence."
The blue-haired boy answered, "There were a few people, me included, who had a special ability called Persona. Persona is the physical manifestation of a person's psyche."
Raising an eyebrow, Ryoko asked, "Persona? As in the masks a person shows to the world, as mentioned in Jungian psychology?"
Nodding, Makoto responded, "Correct. For example, a man is a loving father to his family, but at work he is a strict manager, and to his friends he is an easy-going person. That is one case. Persona, the power I have, and Kanade was discovered to have that night, creates a being based on one's personality. As you saw that night, Kanade's Persona is Hell Biker."
Genjuro furrowed his eyebrows in concern. If that was true, then what did it mean for Kanade? She was a kind girl, so how did she have such a dark being for her Persona? Suddenly, he remembered his first meeting with Kanade five years ago. His heart stopping, he recalled the details of their conversation.
Genjuro, Tsubasa, and a group of agents watched the fourteen-year-old red-haired girl violently thrash about, even while restrained in a straitjacket and tied to a chair with leather straps. According to the report, her parents were members of Section Two's relic excavation team, and had brought her and her sister with them to the excavation site due to it being a weekend. However, there was a Noise attack, and the girl was the only survivor out of everyone there.
"You're fighting the Noise, aren't you?" she snarled, almost literally frothing at the mouth. "Then give me a weapon! Give me the power to kill all those fuckers!"
Kneeling down to her, Genjuro said, "I know that it's painful, but we will avenge your family. I pro-"
Kanade interrupted, "Don't be stupid, old man! I'm the only one who can avenge them! Let me kill the Noise!"
Eyes narrowing, Genjuro asked, "Even if it means you'll end up going to hell?"
Her voice full of conviction, the girl responded, "If I can kill them, I'll gladly burn in hell." Looking into her eyes, Genjuro saw that she was serious. With a heavy heart, he embraced her, hoping she would persevere through her future trials.
Genjuro also remembered the manic smile and madness-filled eyes Kanade had when she intentionally overdosed herself on LiNKER to activate Gungnir. Concerned, the man asked, "Does the Persona affect the user in any way?"
Makoto answered, "If anything, it's the other way around. The Persona is affected by its user. If certain circumstances are met, the Persona can even change into a new one." He didn't fail to notice the adults sighing in relief, or the glances at Kanade.
Looking at the girl, he remembered something. "Oh, and this is yours now." He held out the spare Evoker to Kanade, who carefully took it. "Since you're a Persona user, you'll need that."
Curiously, Sakuya asked, "How did that gun summon the Persona, anyway?"
Shaking his head, Makoto said, "It's not a gun; it's an Evoker."
Kanade asked, "What's the difference?"
Makoto replied, "An Evoker isn't a gun because it doesn't fire bullets. It's a catalyst for summoning a Persona. Like this." He pulled out his Evoker and pointed it at his head, firing it. The others watched in shocked amazement as he summoned Pixie, who giggled as she flew around the room. A few seconds later, he dismissed the Persona.
Sadly, Hibiki asked, "But why does it have to look like a gun? Wouldn't it be better if summoning it wasn't scary?"
Makoto said only two words. "Memento mori."
Raising an eyebrow, Ryoko commented, "Remember death? That's an interesting way to put it. Am I correct in assuming that the purpose is to simulate a life-or-death situation where the thought of death triggers a fight-or-flight instinct that allows the person to summon their Persona?"
Nodding, he said, "Correct. Although it's possible to summon a Persona without an Evoker, it is much more difficult and takes a far larger toll on one's mind."
Looking her Evoker over, Kanade asked, "How did you do it?" At the inquisitive look, she elaborated, "How did you summon multiple Personas? The way you're saying it, it sounds like a person can only have one Persona, aside from if it changes into a new one."
"That's because I have the Fool Arcana, which is strongly tied to the Wild Card ability, which allows a Persona user to use any Persona, regardless of its Arcana," said Makoto. "The Arcana are, as expected by the name, based on the tarot card system. And much like the Persona, a person's Arcana is determined by their personality."
Interested, Kanade continued, "Then can you tell me what Arcana I have?"
Shaking his head, Makoto answered, "I don't know. What Arcana a Persona belongs to also depends on the person. For me, Hell Biker is part of the Hanged Man Arcana, but for you he could be of a different Arcana." After a second, he added, "Speaking of which, even if two people have the same Persona, they won't necessarily look the same. I'll show you." Raising his Evoker once more, he summoned his own version of Hell Biker.
The others in the room were surprised at the vast difference. While Kanade's version looked demonic, Makoto's looked quite plain in comparison. The Persona could have been mistaken for an ordinary motorcyclist wearing all black leather and a red muffler, if not for the bone white skull partially obscured by a black old-fashioned motorcycle helmet. The chrome-colored bike on the other hand, while still having rings of fire for wheels, was something the adults recognized as a model from nearly a century ago. Much to their confusion, it had a pink fuel tank with a small heart pierced by a lightning bolt painted on each side.
Looking down at Kanade, Hell Biker brusquely grunted, "So you're the one who got another me as your Persona, huh? You don't look like much, but then again, neither does Master. You better not disappoint." He looked down at Makoto, who was indifferent to the comment, then returned to the boy's mind without so much as a glance at the others in the room. Once again, everyone was surprised. Kanade's Hell Biker had a harsh voice with a malicious undertone, but Makoto's had a crude voice with a rebellious air.
Sighing, Makoto sheepishly added, "Oh, Personas can think for themselves too."
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Genjuro groaned, "Is there anything else we should know?"
Shaking his head, Makoto replied, "Aside from the fact Kanade needs a new weapon, which I'll talk to Ryoko-san about later, that's about it. The last thing I have to say is for Hibiki-san."
Perking up, Hibiki nervously asked, "What is it?"
Standing up, the blue-haired boy answered, "I'm going to do something I should have done immediately." Taking a breath, he finished, "I had to balance school and fighting Shadows, and nearly had my scores and social life suffer. You need to learn this too. In other words, I'm going to teach you how to manage your double life."
As everyone smiled, Hibiki couldn't help but feel reassured. However, deep down, she felt that Makoto's training would be anything but.
Yep, I referenced the alternate worlds existing that was revealed in XDU (RIP global version).
Here's the list of the skills Kanade will have for Hell Biker:
Please review, tell me what you think, but no flames. I don't want to hear your insults. Onishin Tsukitenshi, signing out.