Hello, my name is Takmura Rules, and welcome to my first story, I was inspired by BukuBuku's "Doth Thou even steal hearts" and finally got moving to put pen to paper and write my own story. I choose Percy Jackson there were seldom if any crossovers with it, and I feel such a concept has a lot of potential for storytelling, being the game series about mythology and the book about it. This is my take on it. Before we get to it, we have to get the mandatory part out of the way:
I do not own Persona or Percy Jackson, and I do not make money off them. All rights belong to Atlus, Sega, Rick Riordan, and Disney Hyperion Books
Now that's out of the way,
Let us start the game…
"I'm done running from myself"
Those words had constantly rang in Maruki's head for the last couple of days, since January 12th. In the control room of his palace, his eyes endlessly viewed the security cam footage on his computer where he saw Yoshizawa's persona Cendrillion blast her way through a squad of his security guards (Loas he somehow knew) with bursts of light.
He was split, he was happy she finally found a group of people she could truly connect with, yet…. Why would Yoshizawa subject herself to even more pain and strife by confronting her past like that? Why would she reject his power? He who had given up everything to ensure no other had to suffer as he did. He, who in exchange had obtained the power to change reality at will. With just a single hand wave he could make all the pain go away, so why take the more challenging option and face it head-on? It was unfathomable to him. Then again, he figured it was due to Joker's influence. Joker firmly believed that these painful experiences are what shape a person. That the future has no meaning if a person doesn't earn it. He firmly believed that if a person falls, those that surround them will help pick them up.
The teen had been slowly reaching a point where he could be called his antithesis. One by one he had been planting the seeds to make his teammates question this new reality. He thought they might question it. Sure. It was a big change, but he was confident they would accept it in the end and in turn, convince Ren to accept it as well. However, it was completely out of his expectations for them to reject his reality just like he did. How Ren did it was unclear, but what was clear is that he and Joker would never see eye-to-eye. He wished the one person who supported him and brought his ideas to reality would see things his way, but it was not meant to be. He held another ideology that could not exist alongside his own. Yet a part of him wanted to hold onto that hope, the hope that Joker could be convinced to see things his way. Especially considering it was thanks to Joker and his team that his powers had awakened after all.
The doctor tore his eyes away from his security footage and then stood up where he then headed to the monitor room. The head shadow guarding the area easily let him pass. This area was very important to him for several reasons. He had been monitoring the progress over the penetration of the palace known as 'Mementos'. Mementos was the palace of the public; he had happened upon it after he wished for access to it, after inadvertently learning about it from Ren. Mementos was special because not only did it not have a ruler, but it contained the shadows of almost every member of the general public of Tokyo and was constantly expanding to encompass other nearby cities. He found it invaluable as he could reach the "true wishes'' of a countless number of people. He could diagnose the issue straight from the horse's mouth and easily remedy the problem! He had complete access over the bottom three layers: Iweleth, Sheriruth, and Adyeshach. He'd probably have the middle three layers by the end of next week if things continued as they were. He was satisfied with his progress, but then he got an alert on his screen as if to dash his hopes. Some unknown entities had entered Mementos. He quickly swapped screens and found the source of the problem-The Phantom Thieves or more specifically Joker, Crow, and Mona. Considering that the others weren't with them, they were most likely doing reconnaissance work.
Maruki had speculated, if not outright confirmed the Thieves had access to Mementos due to his numerous conversations with Ren but seeing them in action was a whole other experience and it brought a host of new problems as well. Their mere presence meant that Maruki's work was at risk to be discovered and shut down before it was complete. He absolutely couldn't allow that! He started to panic, he started to sweat, and his breathing rate increased so much it started to fog up his glasses. He was about to start hyperventilating but then he felt a firm voice start to speak in his mind.
"There is nothing to fear. You have another option, my other self. If you are that desperate to stop them and they vehemently reject your ideals, why not banish them?"
Grateful to be stopped, Maruki pushed up his glasses and immediately replied, "What do you mean Azathoth?"
"This reality is yours to control for the good of the people. If they reject it, why not send them to another?"
Could he do that? The very idea was insane…yet intriguing.
"The false god had this power as well but neglected to use it. He succumbed to his ego in a vain attempt to utterly erase the Phantom Thieves if they would not submit to his rules. That power has now been passed onto you. Do what he failed to do. Prove to the Phantom Thieves and then the world that all they need is a firm guiding hand from above"
The more he listened to Azathoth talk, the more his conviction hardened, he was doing this for their own good after all. "How do I achieve this?" he exclaimed
"Simply will me into being and I shall take care of the rest".
Maruki decided to put his full trust in his persona, Azathoth had never steered him wrong before. Although he couldn't summon Azathoth right in the middle of the monitoring room, there was no reason to needlessly destroy his precious equipment. He left the monitoring room and made his way through the research room and the counseling area. He took the elevator up to the picturesque Twilight Corridor. People were floating up to the ceiling, the very picture of the joy he would bring to the world once his project was complete. He made his way through the very last hallway to the most important spot in the whole laboratory: The Garden of Eden. The staircase automatically unfurled in his presence allowing him to move unimpeded to where the core of his cognitive world was stored. The formless golden dream-like cloud hovered in the middle of the room. Maruki already knew instinctively what it was. It was the newspaper that contained the article covering the day Rumi's parents died. The day his ambitions began. He also faintly saw it had the outline of a torch. He was supposed to be the guiding light for humanity, to show others the way if they listened to him.
Maruki took a deep breath. The Garden of Eden gave him the strength he could feel in the depths of his soul. He could easily draw upon his power as long as he was here. As he willed it, his body was engulfed in blue flames, he was faintly aware of his clothes changing. First, he saw the outline but then as it became more solid, the golden caduceus-looking persona appeared before him. A surge of bluish-green tentacles came out from the bottom and crisscrossed on the golden frame, with each tentacle having blue-tipped ends giving off the feeling of hands, and an eerie-looking visage appeared on the face of the persona. It looked as if someone had taken only the brain and spinal cord of a person and pasted them on the caduceus. Two electric blue eyes had been carved out on the base of the brain where it met the spinal cord. The eyes looked lifeless yet somehow gave off the hint of madness and wanton need for destruction.
After his summoning was complete four tentacles' "hands" rose from the writhing mass of appendages each glowing with a different colored light: gold, black, green, and blue. Each hand took an even more ominous appearance under the soft glow of the lights.
"I've given you four options. Now my other self, all you must do is choose. The first option is a world where creatures and humans work and fight alongside one another."
The tentacle holding the golden light drew closer. "However, evil lurks among the ranks of good.
The second is a reality where magic is everything, yet the divide between races threatens to bring the world to ruin." The one holding the black light squirmed in response to his words.
"Your third option is a world composed of heroes and villains where everyone has a "superpower"." The appendage that wielded the green light moved and Maruki could vaguely see bioelectricity coming from it.
"Lastly your final choice is a world where gods rule over men and monsters walk among the populace". The blue light grew brighter.
All the options were equally intriguing to Maruki. Who wouldn't be interested in other realities, other worlds? It was something out of the stories and manga he read as a kid. Then again, the Metaverse constantly surprised him every day it seemed. He could sense Azathoth's impatience growing as he stood there deliberating. He quickly weighed his options, but one seemed to be calling to him. The mysterious blue light seemed to be drawing him in. It felt almost as if fate itself was pushing him to pick that world. His white-gloved hand stretched out towards the light as if he was a child reaching for the cookie jar.
"Ah, so you have chosen that world. A fine choice my other self. That world might teach them how benevolent you are with your powers compared to some of the atrocities they commit with theirs. Now all we must do is send the intruders there"
"Wait, Azathoth! Can we hold off on this until the next time all the Phantom Thieves are together? I'm already causing them so much pain, I don't wish to cause anymore by having them remain separate in different worlds"
He truly meant every word from the bottom of his heart. Even a fool would be able to see how close the Phantom Thieves have become over the past year as he watched them from the background. They were closer than most families. It was almost envious for one like himself who lost his chance at one. Yet at this point, he just wanted to wash his hands of the situation without having to kill or imprison them. Besides the way Azathoth put it, another world might need some good in it like the Phantom Thieves.
"Very well my other self"
BEEP BEEP BEEP
Ren Amamiya's phone alarm had struck 5 am, waking up both the owner of the said phone and the tuxedo cat that slept on his chest. A hand reached out of the thick comforter and into the cold air of Lebanc's attic and turned off the alarm.
Ren was tempted to roll back over, between the scouting he Mona and Crow did yesterday, and the history homework the now friendly Mr. Ushimaru gave him (which still creeped him out) left him exhausted, and some of the fatigue was carrying over to today. At least he had Kawakami make him a bunch of tools last night, the new change in mood for both students and teachers lighting her load a bit. However, he knew today was an important day. It was the day they officially gave the reborn Sumire the rundown of how things work in the metaverse
The cat on his chest jumped off him and onto the floor allowing Ren to get up, then he said his usual morning greeting to start the day.
"Morning Ren, ready to start the day? Oh yeah, you gotta do that exercise routine of yours, right? I think you're insane to wake up this early just to immediately start working out. Especially with it being this cold out. If you ask me this is the perfect day to sleep in and start the day with some tuna"
After sitting up Ren grabbed his probation Journal and started flipping through the pages until he got to the current date January 15th, 2017. He then looked over the day's planned events while talking to Morgana. "Well, most of the time, early in the morning or late at night are the only periods I get to have a solid workout. Besides today is the day we get Yoshizawa up to speed"
"That is right. She'll get to learn what phantom thieving is all about today. This is our biggest heist yet Joker. We can't afford to hold back or have anyone dragging us down! Anyways I'll come back when it's time for breakfast" With that the cat left out of the window and onto the sill then vanished out of sight. Before he completely vanished, Ren thought he noticed a flash of melancholy on his face.
He then confirmed the events for the day, closed the book, took off his bedtime sweater, and proceeded to do his pre-workout stretch routine. After he completed his stretches, he moved on to standard two-handed push-ups. He did five sets of twenty followed by five sets of twenty sit-ups. With his body now warmed up he started on the real meat of his exercise routine. He grabbed the chair next to the bed and used it to elevate himself high enough to grab the ceiling beam, he started with pull-ups making sure to keep his body steady as he did so. He eventually switched to the even more impressive ceiling crunches. If one were to walk into the attic, they might have mistaken the scene for something out of an old sports movie. Though Ren didn't care, he was something of a health nut if his 6-pack was anything to go by, despite his sometimes-sub-par diet. Ren was the leader of the Phantom Thieves, and as the leader, he strived to keep himself in tip-top shape to adapt to any situation physically. It wouldn't do for a leader if he fell behind his subordinates. He needed to set a good example. Besides, he was pretty sure a couple of other thieves were conducting their own early morning workouts. He had woken up extra early that morning to squeeze in a run around Yongen Jaya. The enemy in question they were facing could change reality itself, Ren felt if he skimped on anything it would come back and bite him in the ass when it mattered most.
He changed out his bedroom wear for the standard Shujin academy gym uniform. He then walks down through the cafe portion of Leblanc and out the door. The cool winter air hit his face giving him a jolt to bring his thoughts to focus. He thought about Maruki and why he needed to be stopped. Bluntly put, he was running away from everything and forcing others to do the same. Not to mention a world where everyone got their wish granted would bring on countless contradictions. Most importantly of all to him, it was all done with the person in question having no choice in the matter. That lack of freedom was the ultimate dealbreaker. He could see the appeal in his world, and some may call him a villain for wanting to stop him, but he didn't mind playing the villain sometimes.
He eventually rounded back to Leblanc Cafe; his morning jog finished. He opened the door to find Morgana sitting on one of the stools. "So, what's for breakfast today, Ren?" He thought about it for a moment then replied "I was thinking rice, miso and some fish" Ren could see the twinkle instantly in Morgana's blue eyes. "Oooh oooh oooh can it be tuna? Please tell me it's tuna." Ren was feeling good that day, so he nodded his head in agreement to Morgana's demands. "Just let me get dressed first." He went to the attic and changed out of his now slightly sweaty gym outfit, and into his winter gear consisting of his black turtleneck, and gray trench coat, with dark blue jeans and brown leather shoes. Of course, he couldn't forget his trademark glasses.
Just as he finished making breakfast for himself and heaped some tuna onto a plate for Morgana, his caretaker Sojiro walked in at almost 7:45 on the dot. Sojiro was a man in his mid-fifties with a slicked-back cowlick covered up by a fedora. He traded in his usual white fedora for a black one to match with the black coat, black pants, and black dress shoes he was also wearing. Underneath the coat, he was wearing a red scarf. Ren started to eat as Sojiro started talking.
"Hey, there kid. A wonderful day out there, isn't it? Well, everyone else sure thinks so. It's honestly creepy how the smiles seem to never leave their faces." He pulled off his fedora, scarf, and coat as he walked behind the counter, revealing his apron and pink shirt underneath. Then he took out a cigarette, lit it up, and took a puff
"Maybe there's some kinda new drug going around. If there is, you keep your nose out of it, kid." Suddenly, he gave a pointed look at Ren, who was eating his rice. "Bah, who am I kidding? After you beat whatever the hell that thing was last month, I wouldn't be surprised if you already knew what was behind it all. Just don't let Futaba get hurt and try not to die yourself kid. Or I'll kill you myself." "He's got you there Ren," Morgana said as he gave Ren a smug look. Ren could only smile at him as he absentmindedly played with his bangs. Sojiro then proceeded to prepare for the day's customers. Ren finished his breakfast as this was happening, just for the door to open and a familiar brunette girl with striking red eyes, wearing her homemade hairband walked through. She was wearing a long blue pea coat with a thick white scarf over a white turtleneck underneath. She had on basic but fashionable brown leather gloves, a black pencil skirt with brown stockings matching her gloves.
This was Makoto Nijima Shujin's current student council president. His High Priestess confidant but most importantly she was also known as "Queen" when part of the Phantom Thieves, and most importantly its vice leader. She was effectively Joker's right-hand man, or Woman he guessed. "Hey, Ren. Are you ready to go to Dr. Takemi?" Makoto greeted him. After she joined the Phantom Thieves, she had insisted on joining Ren as he prepared for that day's particular mission. After a while, she would eventually start taking care of some of it herself freeing up time for him. To be honest with himself, with how hectic his life was, she was a godsend.
"Of course," he responded as Mona jumped into his bag and he started walking to the door. "Take care kid." Ren waved to Sojiro as he walked out of the cafe. As he walked down the familiar streets of Yongen-Jaya with Makoto she talked to him going over the day's events.
"After we stock up on medicine at the clinic, we have to visit Iwai at the airsoft shop to see if he's got any better weapons for both Crow and Violet. Then before meeting up with the others in Shibuya," Her voice switched to an inquisitive tone "You want to go to Shinjuku to visit that fortune-teller? Honestly, Ren, I'm still surprised you believe in that stuff." she said as she looked at Ren.
"She's the real deal!" Morgana chimed in "According to Joker she can even force changes in the Velvet Room!" Makoto's eyes widened a bit at that statement.
"You mean that blue prison place we went to last month, where you get your personas?!"
"The very one." Ren supplied.
"Well in that case it is worth the trip." Makoto acquiesced. After they finished talking, they realized they had arrived at Dr. Takemi's clinic. Ren opened the door for Makoto, and they went in.
Takemi's bored face behind the windowed counter greeted them as soon as they walked in. "Glad to finally see someone who doesn't have that goofy smile plastered on their face. I'm curious as to what their dopamine levels are compared to yours, guinea pig? Although, I'm guessing that's not what you guys are here for, correct?" The punk doctor asked
"You know it." they both answered. Takemi walked around, opened the door, and gestured for them to come to the back. They asked for the standard set of painkillers, sedatives, compresses, and gauze. For some reason, medicines had an instant healing effect in the metaverse and Takemi's help was invaluable considering she was the only one to sell to the Phantom Thieves no questions asked, in exchange for Ren helping her with research for making her compounds.
After they had paid for their various purchases and said goodbye to Dr. Takemi, they then headed onto the subway train going to Shibuya. All three members of the phantom thieves were subtly disturbed as they now got to see first-hand what Sojiro and Takemi were referring to. Big, wide, and simply unnatural smiles plastered on a good amount of the people they encountered. The disturbing part was the one who wasn't affected, at least not yet. They casually talk about topics such as husbands or boyfriends suddenly leaving their significant other to shack up with someone they only mentioned once or twice years ago. Or people making a radical career change from CEO to a musician. More stories and rumors reached their ears as they made their way to the Airsoft shop on Central Street.
As they entered the back alley shop, they saw the owner Iwai Munehisa with his feet on the counter. "Hey, yo. And I see you brought the lady friend this time," he said in his gruff voice and counting the money of a recent customer. Although, Ren spotted that something looked different about the banknotes…It was greener in color compared to the reds and yellows of the Japanese yen. Iwai noticed his gaze on the notes "What? You interested in this?" He waved the money in his hand.
Before he could say anything, it was Makoto who replied first "That's a U.S Dollar, isn't it? I've seen it a couple of times when my father used to bring them home."
Iwai genuinely looked impressed "That's a good eye. You better keep this one by your side kid. Karou always wanted a big sister." Makoto's face immediately flushed red at that statement "W-W-What! We're not like that! Not like that at all!"
"Okay," he replied but his drawn-out tone indicated he didn't believe her at all. Morgana couldn't help but laugh at the situation and called her hopeless, which in turn caused her to threaten to put him on a no sushi diet which promptly caused the cat to stop talking and bury himself back in Ren's bag. Ren then smiled and gained a glint in his eye that those close to him only knew meant one thing: mischief.
Makoto felt a chill and felt a sense of dread go down her spine as she watched Ren open his mouth. "Where did you get that money anyway? Did you finally do something illegal and have to skip town?" Makoto felt a sense of relief that Ren wasn't teasing her as he would usually do, but then realized what he said and became flustered over the fact they might get kicked out of the shop.
"Agh, Ren!" She gave him her family patented Niijima glare. However, to her complete amazement, Iwai smiled and then began to laugh.
"Ya got balls kid, that's for sure! To answer your question though. No, ya moron. The customer right before you two was that foreigner barker who stands in front of the bar down the street. He didn't have any Yen on him, and I saw no reason to not take his money."
"Why?" Ren questioned and Iwai was only too happy to give him the answer. "Well kid, when you get into the real world, sometimes it pays to have another type of currency. Especially in my former line of work, if you catch my drift."
Makoto then added "The U.S dollar is also the most traded currency in the world, so that helps too"
Both Ren and Iwai had their eyebrows raised at her. "I'm telling ya, kid, she's a keeper." He then ignored Makoto's ensuing blush and stammering, and asked Ren what he could do for him.
"Well, what do you have in terms of rapiers and serrated swords? Then I need to look at some antique rifles. And I can't believe I'm saying this: ray guns." Iwai had to muffle a laugh at that last one, and he swore he could hear the cat laughing at him too. "I'm guessing you got two new members considering you got two categories there. I'm assuming it has to do with why everyone is so goddamn happy suddenly." Iwai gained a scowl on his face. "You know what? Forget I asked. It isn't my place to ask questions after what happened last month…. Just remember we got your back kids." Iwai was Ren's "Hanged-Man" confidant. Because of this, Iwai was one of the select few that remembered what happened in December with the god of control. Along with Dr. Takemi and Sojiro his "Death" and "Hierophant" confidants respectively.
He then took out some models for what he'd recommend. "First, for your sword needs, I have your basic Flamberge." He pulled out a sword with an abundance of curves that almost made it look like a snake.
"Do you have anything else?" Makoto interjected.
"Serrated swords are pretty hard to find, little lady. This is pretty much the best you're gonna find unless you make it yourself" she nodded her head in understanding. "As for rapiers…" he scratched his slate gray hair underneath his hat then pulled out a dagger-like item from under the counter. "This is a Zirah Bouk if you're looking for something more realistic. It may look like a dagger, but you can use it like a rapier. Other than that, I have the White Snow Rapier if you're looking for something…. weird." He pulled out a pure white model rapier that gave the distinct feeling of being fit for a princess or a goddess rather than be used for battle. Ren found the idea of the red-headed Sumire swinging it around pretty fitting (and threatening) for some strange reason. He tried to think about it some more, but he felt as if the answer was constantly slipping through his fingers.
"Hey, Kid. Are you still with me?" Iwai waved his hand in front of Ren's face while Makoto shot him a concerned look
"Yeah…What do you have for guns?"
He pulled out a single-barreled rifle that looked double-barreled, thanks to the magazine attached beneath it. It had a copper trigger and receiver making it look almost golden in the light, complete with a wooden finish for the stock and forestock. "Since we were talkin' American shit. This is the 'Yellow Girl'. It was modeled after the 1866 Winchester Carbine known as the 'Yellow Boy'. Any random jackass worth their salt was welding something from the Winchester line, in the American 'Wild West' era. Well, either that or the 1872 Colt, but I bet the girly standn' next to you could tell you more about that than me. Can't get much better than that for antique rifles at least." Makoto looked over the gun in interest. Ren figured that just like Iwai said, it wasn't too far off from her own weapon of choice.
"Unfortunately for you, I don't have shit in the way of Ray Guns. Though I guess you'll manage to find something. After all, you two have been bringing me plenty of weird shit to customize lately." Despite his harsh words, the shop owner had a smile on his face. "Now what do you want?"
"Well, we want to get the Yellow Girl, Ren. And the Flamberge too. Any other suggestions?"
"I'm really leaning towards that rapier. I don't know about you but it kinda seems…Oddly familiar."
"Now that you mention it, it does…But dammit I just can't place where. It's probably a good idea to take it with us anyway."
"Yeah, Ren. I get the feeling that weapon would be a real pain in the butt if it was in an enemy's hands" Morgana chimed in
"Alright Iwai, we'll take those three then."
He then put the model kits in an inconspicuous paper bag and as they paid gave his usual warning of "Don't use these to play a prank" and then sent them on their way. As they took the train to Shinjuku, they could see the Laboratory of Sorrow pulsating in the distance. It wasn't exactly strong yet, but still worrying all the same considering they could see it in the real world, rather than in just the metaverse. They felt the thrum of their personas intensify and then lessen as the view of the lab came and went.
In Shinjuku, they came across the fortune teller Chihaya Mifune down the road from the Crossroads bar that Ren frequented. They saw the headband-wearing woman sitting outside her recently bought store with the foldable table she was known for throughout the time Ren had started visiting her. "Ah I was expecting you two," Chihaya said with an oddly blank look on her face. This was out of the norm for her, so Ren and Morgana had a vague sense of alarm as they approached the table.
"Well excuse me you're Chihaya Mifune, right? I was hoping you would do a reading for me and my friend here."
"Of course! I'll always be willing to do a reading for Amamiya. He's helped me so much after all. Also, I was going to ask to meet with him anyway for a reading, but something weird happened."
"How so?" Ren asked. He had a feeling it had something to do with Maruki. Chihaya had a knack for seeing and predicting the major players in Ren's life at any given point. She predicted Haru and Futaba after all.
"The cards were calling out to me about the Phantom Thieves last night so I did a reading, but I couldn't get anything past the first card. The counselor card popped up yet again as it had been for the past month. However, this time…" A frown then appeared on her face "It almost feels as if it's forcing the next card to appear…" She flipped one of the cards spread out on her table and it revealed itself as The Fool. She gasped "A new beginning. Why now of all times though?" She flipped the second card, and it revealed the image of a man sitting in a chair with a staff in his hand and the roman numeral for 4 above his head.
"It's the Emperor, right? What does it mean exactly?" Makoto asked
"Hmm, The Emperor card refers to two things mainly. However, this one is unclear. I'm not completely certain whether this card refers to a person or a difficult decision to be made. Could be both when it comes to you guys." She then proceeds to flip over the last card which had the image of a feline creature sitting on top of a wheel, surrounded by swords. "Oh, the Wheel of Fortune. It seems these events will be guided by fate." She then adopted a smile on her face "That means I don't have to worry about you guys. I know you'll make your own fate"
"That's our Ren, he's beaten impossible odds and overwhelming foes before," Makoto said with a smile
Morgana then popped out of the bag again "Yeah I'll hang up my scarf if Joker let's something as silly as fate get him"
"Actually, I'd like also to get a money reading, Chihaya." Three pairs of eyes look at him in exasperation
"What? It's not cheap being a Phantom Thief. We just dropped over 50k today, you know."
"L-let's just go meet with the others after this." She said at Ren's brazen admission
After the last reading, the three made their way back to Shibuya. The time was approaching mid-afternoon as they met with the others outside the main subway entrance near the famous Shibuya Crossing
"Hey, Ren-Ren over here!" The voice of the familiar blond-headed boy echoed through the crowd. Ryuji Sakamoto finally came into view as they walked toward him. It was Ryuji, the team's frontline expert, and former Shujin track star. Also the most excitable of the group, though no one really minded as his energy tended to infect the others, making him the heart of the team.
"Does that bonehead really have to be that loud every time?! Also, how is he not cold wearing his jacket open like that? It's like -6 today! I guess idiots really don't catch colds"
"I heard that cat!" Ryuji fired back instantly
Morgana couldn't help but reply in return "My point exactly!"
Ren and Makoto could only grab their heads in exhaustion as the two began bickering as usual.
"Will you two knock it off for once?! We only just all got here!" Ann Takamaki, the team's other resident blonde, shouted at the two. Ann was usually the voice of reason between Ryuji and Morgana ever since Okumura Palace. A testament to her steadily improving acting and people skills as seen as both boy and cat grew quiet. She then grabbed and fidgeted with the red earmuffs on her head. "Besides, I'd like to get a move on. It's unusually cold out here and it might snow any minute."
Futaba stood up from her squatting position next to the entrance and closed her laptop. Probably analyzing the bugs she had on everyone's phones If Ren had to hazard a guess "I agree with Panther on this one. Some of us are not built for this weather." She then paused for a moment and looked at the ever-populated Shibuya Crossing "Or Crowds! Let's get to the grinding for the noobs already!"
"N-noob?" Sumire repeated dejectedly though the other Phantom Thieves knew Futaba meant nothing malicious about it. Sumire's eyes then gained a fire to them. "Well, all that means is that I have a lot more to learn from you guys. Please take care of me senpais" Completely ignoring Sumire trying to psyche herself up. Yusuke the team's artist and scout decided to make his opinion known
"I enjoy people watching though. The mid-winter setting brings out a certain charm and vibrance in the population that only comes with the wearing of more clothes." Ryuji and Morgana sniggered at the irony of that statement, after the Ann modeling fiasco almost 8 months ago. Ann herself only sighed in exasperation "Take Haru for instance," The blue-haired teen then took his classic 'viewing' pose by making two L-shapes with his fingers and connecting them into a box, then focused on Haru in the center of his view. "The beige coat-dress with that pink beret gives a very distinct 'Lost in Paris' movie-like feel"
"Uh…Thank you, Yusuke." The fluffy-haired girl in question shifted her weight in response to the awkward attention she was receiving. She tried to divert the attention by asking Makoto a question. "So, Mako-chan, how was your day with Ren?" It was clear to the other girls on the team that Haru was implying something else, but none of the boys' sans Akechi and Ren caught on "Please don't phrase it like that, but yes we got all the supplies and weapons for today's excursion.
"If that's the case, I suggest we head in." Akechi finally spoke up. Ren noticed he had been repeatedly adjusting his black leather gloves, signaling he was getting impatient but tolerated the other Thieves' daily antics. Which in Ren's opinion was a significant improvement. Granted the comparison was a smart alec, suave, douchebag who was secretly plotting to kill them. And a completely unhinged maniac who was actively trying to kill them. It was progress nonetheless to Ren.
He took Akechi's interjection as his opportunity to take the initiative. As much as he loved watching them go, he knew they had a job to do. He took off his false glasses, put them in his coat pocket, and put on his best 'Joker' voice.
"Alright, team. It's time to get to business. We have a job to do! It's Showtime!" At the tone of his showman-like voice, every team member became alert, their movements became concise, and they gained an edge to it seen in veterans as they walked into the subway. A determined and dangerous glint appeared in their eyes. The Ren-turned-Joker turned on his phone and pressed the red app that used a mysterious-looking eye as its logo that looked like the symbol of a tribe from a game featuring a certain green hero.
After he pressed the app the world around the teenagers began to distort. The subway became even darker and more dilapidated and took on a creepy red look. The normal railroad track went from being made of metal to being made of bone. The walls and support beams were stamped with a visage the Thieves now knew was Yaldobaoth's face. This was Mementos, most of the team was used to it by now. What really came as disturbing to the Phantom Thieves though is that now electric-blue cable ran along with the ceiling and across the main subway control panel. They were not unlike Maruki's tentacles in nature and this fact was clearly noted as Sumire's face went pale and some of the others became distinctly uncomfortable at the sight.
Trying to corral the team before they lost their nerve, Joker went over the day's objectives while Queen took out the supplies they bought earlier. Joker raised 3 fingers in the air "So today, we have 3 objectives. First, we need to get Violet up to speed." The girl in question nodded her head. "Second, both Crow and Violet need to work on teamwork. So, we're gonna do drills so everyone can brush up."
"Why the hell do I have to do that shit?!" The black-suited raven helmeted teen exclaimed. And there it was, Joker thought. The psychotic vulgar-mouthed Crow had taken Akechi's place.
"It's because you're part of a team. Then our opponent is an unhinged reality-warping, grief-stricken madman. If The God of Control taught us anything, you can't win on your own" Joker pointed out
"Tsk" Crow sucked his teeth and looked away.
"Lastly, and most importantly, we have to find the source of those cables. It's not only pulling shadows into his plan. It's also blocking our progress into the palace itself. Does anyone else have anything to add?" Joker looked around at the faces of his team
Oracle, the alter ego of Futaba, fiddled with her goggles and spoke up "I'm getting a huge energy reading down in the Prison of Sloth where the holy grail was." Queen was the next to speak "Then I suggest we go to Iweleth so we can train on the way down"
After the others nodded their approval, she then pulled out the weapons they bought earlier, she started with the Flamberge. "Whoa, that sword looks effin badass!" Akechi's eyes gained a dark glint to them as he took the orange blade "Oh, yeah…. I can slice those bastards apart real good now"
"I personally prefer the straight edge of the katana myself, but I can say that sword is visually stimulating. I can feel-"
"Uh, phrasing Fox. We've talked about this" Mona cut off Fox.
Joker watched as the team continued to talk about the supplies and weapons Queen handed out. He couldn't get enough of it; they were like family to him despite their constant bickering. As he was lost in thought, he felt a tug on the back of his 3-piece tailcoat. He turned around and saw a small girl dressed in all blue, with long pale hair, golden eyes, and carrying an oversized grimoire. He instantly recognized Lavenza, the appointed attendant for his journey as a 'fool'
"Your presence is needed in the Velvet Room, Trickster. "He nodded his head and began to follow her.
The sound of his comrades talking gradually faded as he stepped through the blue door that separated the different planes of existence. He came inside a prison chamber completely covered in blue and the center area was surrounded by 27 uniform cells. Although unlike before he was no longer in prison attire and locked in the one marked with 0. He heard the familiar 'Aria of the Soul' being played, though now he could make out the faint outline of a singer and piano player in one of the far cells each. The personas inside him thrummed in joy as they listened to the tune. He wondered if it had to do with his cognition changing, similar to him finally being able to leave his own cell.
"Welcome to the Velvet Room," said Igor, the man with the long nose in the center, sitting at the desk in the middle with his arms folded.
"As you may know, the one named Takuto Maruki has gained the power to not just alter cognition but to interfere with Mementos and even reality itself."
Lavenza then picked up where Igor left off "Because of this we're increasing the number of personas you can carry around." Joker then felt as if his mind had become vividly clear, and he heard his personas marvel at the now vast amount of space. "Only my master has been capable of carrying so many around at once. Yet…. We sense even more potential from you Trickster, a potential that has slumbered for decades. You truly are the greatest man in the world."
Even in his Joker persona, Ren was still unsure how to handle Lavenza after her love confession on Christmas, and she was forward in her feelings as well…Even if she did still have the twin's habit of not hesitating to beat the tar out of him and his team in practice battles. Even so, he took the praise in stride. "I'll always do my best to live up to your expectations," He said as he adjusted his blood-red gloves in an iconic fashion the other Phantom Thieves had seen hundreds of times.
Lavenza hefted the tome in her arms, tilted her head, and flashed a warm smile at Joker. "Now go forth Trickster, put an end to this false reality and finally earn your true freedom."
As Joker prepared to leave, Igor offered one last word of advice. "Do be aware Trickster, not only within you but things that haven't moved in decades are beginning to stir. Do not let yourself be caught off guard. As our duty commands will be watching and following your journey with great interest, no matter where you might end up." That last part caught his attention, but he decided not to dwell on it as he exited the isolated space.
"Where have you been?" The voice of Skull greeted him as he came back, Joker shot him a look. "Nah, I'm just messin' with ya partner. I always wanted to say that line. You were at that blue place again, right?" Skull called from the back portion of the Mona bus
"I believe it was called the Velvet Room Skull. I would love the chance to see Lavenza and Igor again. Lavenza seemed so sleepy the last time we saw her." Noir said as she clasped her hands together.
Queen then stepped forward. "Anyways we got Mona all set up. It's your turn to drive today." The transformed Mona bus purred in response as some of the others had already begun to climb in
"What about Noir? I thought you were trying to teach her to drive Queen, maybe she could try and get some practice in today?" at Joker's suggestion the two girls in question took contrasting expressions. Noir's lips upturned in glee while her eyes gained a strange light in them that frankly, unnerved Joker, she looked like she did as she was about to cut a shadow down with her ax. Queen, on the other hand, became as pale white as the glove she wore, began sweating, and strangely started grabbing her stomach.
"Maybe we should hold off on it until after Mementos?" She said just a tad bit too sweetly. Joker took the hint and climbed into the driver's seat with Queen riding shotgun.
"Skull, Panther, Fox, Queen, Oracle, Noir, Crow, and Violet" Joker took stock mentally to make sure everyone was there and accounted for. He hit the gas and started their delve into Mementos. Mementos had a neat little quick travel feature that let them teleport between rest stops. After they reached the first rest stop, they teleported to the Iweleth layer of Mementos. Iweleth was only a single floor, it was meant to be the barrier between the regular layers and the depths, but that singular layer housed the strongest shadows without going into the Prison of Sloth: perfect for training purposes.
Maruki was watching as Akechi and Yoshizawa handily dispatched a King Frost…Safely from his Da'at control station of course. Maruki had been keeping an eye on the Phantom Thieves ever since they entered Mementos, and just like he and Azathoth expected, they headed straight for the depths. He watched them do drills which were…. actually rather impressive he had to admit. They looked like seasoned warriors more than a band of teenagers, but that made them more of a threat to remove from the board. The thought of it was painful as he had got to know almost each one of them on a personal level, but it had to be done. It was a simple matter to plant a fake wall in Mementos at this point. Being the layer closest to the depths he had the most control over it. He could even take temporary control over Morgana; they wouldn't know what hit them.
As they got closer to the area he set up, he readied Azathoth and pressed a button on the control panel that allowed him access to the intercom. This was his chance! He wanted to make himself imposing, intimidating, someone not to be messed with. Instead, what came out when he started talking was…Static. He guessed it wasn't dilapidated looking for nothing. "Uhm is this thing on?" He tapped the microphone and leaned in. He got too close and hit his head on the mic causing a boom and then a high-pitched screeching sound to reverberate throughout the Iweleth area.
"D'ouch! Why does this happen every time?" He could see Joker and Queen struggling to control their laughter in the front seat of the Mona bus. He sighed, rubbed his head, and continued onward.
"Anyways, you've done well to make it this far in Mementos. However, I can't allow you to disrupt my research any further. Though you may reject me. Others need me. The world needs me. I don't wish to kill you much less even fight you. So, Azathoth, my persona has presented me with another solution. In short: I'm banishing you. I'm sending you to another world where gods and monsters walk among men. The good news is that you'll all still be together. I have a feeling you'll be able to bring some good to that world. So, this is goodbye, good luck, and Godspeed Phantom Thieves."
He laughed at his terrible pun as he took control of Morgana. He locked the doors and got the portal ready. Although unknown to him one of Azathoth's tentacles broke off from the crawling mass. Azathoth wanted to make sure the Thieves stayed locked away so sent the tentacle into a smaller portal so it would arrive there before the Thieves.
As soon as Maruki went off the intercom, the Thieves descended into a cacophony of chaos and panic
Skull leaned his head forward into the gap above the console "What the shit man! What does he mean by banish?!"
"Cool! That's just like all those anime and manga I've been seeing!" Oracle's fists were clenched in the air
"Totally NOT COOL Oracle! What about work? And school? What about our families?" Panther chided the younger girl
"There's a competition coming up next week. NOOOO I can't miss it. Coach will kill me"
"I think we have bigger problems than that Violet" Crow in a rare state of calmness in the metaverse countered
"I doubt he can do this. Most people will take notice of this many people disappearing all at once" Then as if to spite Fox the intercom came on again.
"Oh, you won't have to worry about your families and friends. With my actualization powers, it'll be like you never left.
"Oh my! That was very nice of him." Noir moved her purple gloved hand in front of her mouth.
Joker looked around at his team. They were all still yelling and trying to make sense of the situation except for Crow and Queen. Crow looked like he simply didn't care what happened. Which he guessed was a reasonable reaction given his situation. Queen just stared at him with her striking red eyes. Although she wore a poker face her eyes betrayed her worry. Before he could say anything to reassure anyone the bus started moving…And he wasn't pressing the gas, matter of fact he had his foot firmly on the brake. He shouted, "Mona, what's going on!"
Mona stammered his response "Uh-Uh-Uh I don't know Joker! I'm not doing anything."
"Well, neither am I!" He tried to open the door, but it didn't budge so he tried to kick it.
"I can feel that Joker!" Mona's voice came out labored
"Shit! It's locked" He disregarded Mona's complaints as he tried out again
"Mine's locked too!" Queen tried hers as well
"Same with the back doors!" Fox reported. Then Mona slammed through a false wall.
"Joker I'm getting a reading something big is coming up" The reading Oracle was talking about rapidly came into view. A pair of giant silver and black iron doors stood at the end of the corridor. Each side of the doors was etched with art deco designs, which Joker was sure Fox would stop and appreciate if he wasn't currently screaming for his life. As the doors opened a black mist poured out. Joker felt a hand slip into his. He looked over and his silver eyes met her red ones, he saw Queen looking at him with a dejected expression. He squeezed her hand, and she returned the gesture as if he were her last lifeline. In the back, he could hear Crow complaining, telling the others to get off him. Despite the passengers screaming, the Mona-mobile finally drove between the doors, and with a creak and a loud thud, they closed behind them.
He was running late. Very, very, very, late. Later than an IRS godly tax adjustment. Gods he hated those. Especially considering Plutus couldn't see. Then again, that was normal for the number of deliveries he had been recently making. The man was wearing a brown postman uniform and a mailman's hat covered his sandy brown hair. Along with his stubble, he looked like he could be in his late 20s or early 30s but still retained a boyish face. He had just finished delivering Apollo's latest shipment of guitar strings and coconut-scented shampoo. He was about to deliver a special way-before-even-theaters-release first copy of Adam Sandler's newest movie "The Longest Yard" to his father Zeus. Before he could take a step in the direction of his father's temple, he felt a flair of divine energy that felt like his. He assumed one of his children had been born yet again. Although, this one decidedly felt more…. Roman. Hermes' godly form flickered for a moment, and he grabbed his head in response to the splitting headache that came on. Whatever it was he had a feeling a lot of change would be coming.
Some of Joker's personas affect his personality and battle tactics more than others so I thought I'd write down the subtle changes I noticed
This persona gives Joker a cheerful disposition and he's a lot more involved in terms of battle tactics, which is appropriate given that the persona in question looks like a cheerleader. (Which seems to annoy Crow) When he has this persona equipped Joker seems to specialize in physical attacks and puts an emphasis on his dagger. This is capitalized by the powerful "Cross Slash" attack, where both persona and summoner unleash a devastating slash in two directions. One horizontal and one vertical. The scary part about this move is that one cannot tell which direction either being is going to slash. Very good for as Ren puts it "Mix-ups". Skull and Fox have tried to replicate this move with varying degrees of success, with Fox being the closest. Anat does wield a blade, but my martial arts are not suited for the gigantic slashes the move requires
Side Note: This persona also seems to affect Fox as well. He becomes more standoffish and frigid towards the others and constantly competes with Joker for the most shadow kills (Which he usually loses) Not surprising, given that Izanagi and Susanoo are father and son.
Phew, that's chapter 1 done. So, how'd you guys like it? Maruki's parts were surprisingly hard to write. Mainly because he's a bad guy with good intentions. Almost to an extreme level in his case, he believes everything he's done is for the good of someone else, to the point of having a messiah complex if his palace is anything to go by. I hope I did a good job of portraying that.
Ren's introduction was based off of the Mementos Mission Manga. Seriously he's ripped in that: also go read it it's pretty good.
Anyways I've been super excited to start writing this story, it's been rumbling in my head for months now. It's a pretty big and ambitious project but I want to stick it out. Please leave reviews the only way I'm going to get better is if I know what I did wrong
BTW I'm looking for betas both someone to line-by-line edit and a critiquer to help keep my ideas straight. DM if interested
Gave The other Thieves bigger intros and broke up dialogues to better help know who's speaking