Fair warning this chapter includes the first majorly graphic violent scene. Considering Artemis takes the form of a child more often than not; I should give the old TFS warning. Takamura Rules does not condone child violence, however, this is a fictional parody thus I find it hilarious.
The fight scene also contains rapid POV shifts between Joker and Artemis. I'll try to space the paragraphs apart more than the others, but I won't be marking it cause it'll break up the flow, so pay attention peeps.
By the way, we'll be over 88k words with this chapter. For those who don't know, 88k is the length of Lightning Thief and the first Harry Potter Book. So yeah this is going to be a slow-burn story, not to mention I'm very detail oriented. Speaking of, I don't own either Percy Jackson or Persona despite my huge word count.
Credit goes to my beta NJGrasshopper and special credit goes to asdfo789. You two are awesome. Between this chapter and the next, I basically just dumped about 70 pages worth of material on them.
The early morning dreary mist seemed to cling to Ren as he looked over the grass fields on the outskirts of town. He had perched himself on the corner of a building top in order to keep a better watch. Sticking to his vigil he tried to tune out today's argument behind him. He didn't know why he was acting so aloof lately, he'd normally join in and add to the cacophony, it was why he picked this team after all, but for some reason, it just didn't appeal to him.
"-I'm just sayin', HOW did you not know that effin' Medusa was running the freakin burger joint?!" Ryuji yelled out. "Even I know who she is for cryin' out loud."
"For the LAST time, the smell of all the greasy food covered up her scent. On top of that Percy is pretty strong himself. With him there it smelled like overpowering sea salt fries." Morgana yowled "I don't see you getting on Futaba's case like this."
"Don't drag me into this, Kitty," Futaba pushed up her glasses "The difference between you and me is that I said I fucked up as soon as the kids started blabbing about it when they came out into the woods."
"And that makes it better, how?" Morgana questioned as his eyebrows raised at the girl currently fiddling with her laptop
Ren could see the vein bulging in Ryuji's forehead "Well, at least she said it!"
"Was that all you were looking for this whole time?! Fine. If it makes you be quiet then yeah, I admit; I messed up too."
"Thank you. That's all I asked for, Mona." Ryuji said exasperatedly.
"I'm personally surprised they didn't notice us as they passed right below us, or when they went to sleep about half a kilo away," Sumire mused. "Anyways you guys should go back to your post. We need to be ready for the next monster to jump out, which we can't do if you two keep yelling at each other." She then returned to surveying the town from her own perch opposite Joker.
As Ryuji took his place on a corner and Morgana leaped onto Ren's shoulder; he looked at the gray overcast sky. It was probably going to rain hard today, as a matter of fact, it was slightly drizzling right now. It only served to make his V-neck button-up cling to him and his faux glasses to become foggy.
The weather was both a blessing and a curse for his current endeavor. On one hand, the poor visibility and traction allowed him to easily get the drop on anything that goes bump in the night thanks to his third eye. On the other hand, he hated how humid the rain made the temperature during the summer months. The rain and humidity combined more often than not and made him look like a used mop—well more than he does normally according to Makoto. Left up to her he'd probably have every frizz neatly combed and end up looking like a teenaged Chuckie Finster from that show they watched the other day. Thankfully she or the other girls haven't found a comb strong enough yet.
Speaking of her. She and her team consisting of Yusuke, Akechi, Haru, and Ann were stationed on a nearby rooftop. With the innate stoicism of most of her members, Ren doubted she had the same noise issue he did. With Akechi's deduction(And eavesdropping on the demigods) from last night, the Phantom Thieves had made for New Brunswick in an attempt to pre-emptively take care of any monsters before the quest group could board the train. So they began their vigil shortly before dawn, much to the chagrin of the late risers like Futaba.
Percy and his group had just entered the town according to Violet, so far, so good.
"Joker, is it just me, or is there an army of little girls in the trees over there?" Morgana meowed.
Sure enough, as he scanned the tree line through the fog, girls of varying ages wearing silver parkas had taken positions in the forestry. They looked about 10 or 9 years old at the youngest and the oldest looked close to his own age. The girls were obviously hunters stalking their prey, given the bows and knives in each girl's hands. They were hidden well in the forest but nothing he and the others couldn't pick out after a year and a half of hiding in alcoves themselves. They were hiding like hunters; so as to not startle the quarry. Not like thieves whose goal was to erase one's presence entirely. "Open mouth; insert foot," Ren mumbled to himself.
"I heard that. You thought we were in the clear, didn't you?" Morgana commented.
"Guilty as charged," Ren said sheepishly as he fiddled with his bangs out of embarrassment as Morgana chuckled at him.
"So what do you think about the one in the front? She's different from the rest," Morgana's paw gestured to the girl who looked about 13 with auburn hair and was hiding at the very edge of the undergrowth separating the field from the forest. She was currently standing far ahead of most of the others. "The other girls smell like…. well, the forest. But her? It's almost overpowering, she smells like those forest air fresheners right out of the pack that the boss puts in his car sometimes. That and an abundance of nuts and berries,"
Ren then activated his third eye. In his vision, almost all of the girls appeared blue. The tall one with the long dark hair and copper skin, the second farthest out, had the slightest tinge of yellow to her, but it was a drop in the ocean.
The main girl in the front was the real surprise. She was outlined in gold, and her actual body was highlighted in pure silver. Greek characters orbited around her combining to form seemingly random words. Thanks to Athena, he managed to make out the words moon, hunt, and childbirth. It didn't take an expert in Greek mythology to understand what those words meant.
His personas thrummed and buzzed under his skin in pseudo resonance. Incessant chattering filled his head. Athena burned in friendly rivalry as she moved Black Frost out of the current mask position. He was sure of it, she was the real deal.
"Your eyes were doing that glittering thing again Ren. So, what's the status on her?" Morgana said as he peered into Ren's face.
"She's silver and gold, colors I've never seen before," Morgana's face hardened which was impressive for a cat. "Given we have a bunch of girls in silver with bows, I'm guessing the one that sticks out is Artemis: Goddess of the hunt," Ren explained.
Oracle suddenly bounced on the balls of her feet "Did I just hear goddess of the hunt?! Did the boss finally show up?!"
Ren quickly changed from his civilian attire to his thief costume, an action the others promptly followed. "Yes, Oracle. Send word to Queen that Artemis of the Olympians is here. We'll coordinate our approach,"
"Why are you telling me, leader?" Oracle asked him. "You have an earpiece and phone you can do it with, remember."
"Because that wouldn't be as fun, now, would it?"
"Hrrnngg" Oracle grumbled as she began to relay the information.
Joker then turned to the rest of the team "In the meantime, Skull, Violet."
"I want you two to try and circle around and try to get the drop on them. Be wary of the tall one near the goddess, she's stronger than the others; I doubt normal tactics will work on her." The two nodded and then soundlessly jumped off the building
"What about me, Joker?" Mona asked.
"I want you to keep an eye on the demigods. Who knows what those hunters may try to do? Maybe they've even had an ambush waiting on the platform."
"On it!" Morgana said before heading towards the station.
Oracle then tugged on his sleeve "Got word from Queen. She said she figured it was something like that as soon as she saw it. Apparently, Artemis is making Anat give off the same vibe as she does when you have Athena active." Oracle then held a hand to her ear. "Speaking of, she also said it's twice as bad since you do have Athena active right now. She sounds like she wants to rip your head off, leader."
"I'll keep that in mind,"
"Oh! One last thing. Why is she even hunting Percy in the first place?"
"Easy, Oracle, it's— "
"—The thunder god's ego." A raspy callous voice interrupted Joker and startled Oracle. They both turned to see the source of the voice was Crow.
"The hell are you doing here?" Oracle asked in one of the rare moments she addressed Crow directly.
Crow's red eyes blazed in curiosity. "Queen sent me to back up Joker, of course. She had a feeling he was going to confront the goddess on his own, so she wanted someone to look out in case he needed it. Doubtful he really does. I could have ignored her order, but I really wanted to see with my own eyes the power to take down a god. Once I have, I will then surpass you."
"Hn," Joker snorted in indifference
"To answer your question, this is the thunder god's best chance to nab his suspected culprit and if he plays his cards right, deal a blow to his biggest rival. Who better to bring him in than his unquestioning glorified bounty hunter."
"Thanks," Oracle said with a tone somewhere between monotone sarcasm and venomous hostility.
"What about the others, Crow? What are their orders?" Joker asked.
"Do you really need to ask? You and the vice leader think so much alike it almost sickens me," Crow emphasized his point by pointing to his throat and pretending to gag. "She sent the others around to ambush the hunters. She herself plans to stay close to the front to prevent anyone from joining your fight,"
Joker nodded and then pulled out his gun, funneled his magic, and took aim at the goddess, "Oracle you head towards the train and link with Mona. You aren't as fast as the others, I don't want any stray arrows or knives headed your way."
"... Got it," Oracle then hesitated for a moment then leaned over to peck Joker on the cheek, not caring that Crow saw. "Please stay safe." She cried as she ran off and leaped to the next rooftop.
Crow sneered at the display. "If you're done philandering, you man-whore; how about you get this party started already?"
"Gladly," Joker said as he squeezed the trigger.
The laser of a bullet flew in a perfect line towards the child-looking goddess cutting through the mist. In a show of supreme reflexes, she dodged it via a quick backstep, though not without slamming into the tall girl behind her and leaving a small smoking crater in her wake. It was quick enough to where Joker questioned if she had a speed skill, then he remembered she was the goddess of the hunt, speed was probably her thing.
He quickly dashed off the rooftop and into the alleyway behind it. He didn't even have to confirm that Crow did the same as he felt his presence right behind him. At times like these, they seemed to be in perfect sync.
"Come out. Show yourself. If you do so quietly, I'll give you an honorable death for the offense of attacking me." A childlike voice yelled out with an unnatural volume for its age. It also had an ageless undertone befitting a goddess.
Joker looked down at his now visible breath despite the fact it was summer. "She's definitely the real deal. Her mere presence lowered the temperature," He thought to himself. Inside his mindscape, the fire giant was itching to take over to pit his flames against a potential ice user. However, Athena was stalwart in her determination to make this her battle. Joker could work with that. He was never one to shy away from a confrontation with a god, what better way to make his Olympic debut than using one of their own in battle? As a bonus, it might sow some confusion in the ranks and take some heat off Percy.
"We both know there isn't anything honorable about the deaths you give. At all." He'd read the myths, the only thing awaiting him if he surrendered was a transformation and to be hunted down. No thanks, Crow had already attempted that once.
"A smartass huh? What exactly do you know about me?" Artemis replied in turn
"I know enough. Enough to know that we have a wayward goddess here, performing unjust acts far away from home. A mindless lapdog who can't think for herself and will only do what she's told. A puppet through and through. How sad, I can almost see your strings." Artemis' anger was visible at his words as the temperature dropped even further as evidence. Behind him, Crow was silently chuckling.
"Unnecessary self-righteousness can get you killed swiftly, especially insulting a goddess. Someone I'm sure is far above your station."
Crow was struggling to keep it in as he gripped Joker's shoulder. "I always told you to keep that shit to yourself. It's going to get you killed one day."
Joker brushed Crow's hand off his shoulder, but he couldn't help but laugh at the prospect. "Kill? I would like to see her try. And we both know I will never be able to look away from those unjustly treated by society, whether they be demigods or mortals." Satanael hummed in agreement at his re-stated resolve.
"Are we confident? Why not put it to the test?" Irritation was slipping into her voice. A thinly disguised attempt to goad him out. He decided he'd play along.
"Very well," he said, and began to walk forward from the cover of the alleyway leaving Crow behind.
The moment he stepped onto the grass of the field, he heard a bowstring being drawn, taught, and released.
He sighed as Athena appeared and intercepted the arrow with her shield, the innate glassy mirror of reflection making itself known as the arrow rebounded back at his attacker. Athena then took a defensive position hovering behind him.
He clicked his tongue as he came into view, arms splayed, "Now, now, that wasn't very nice, but you've allowed me to bring the last player we needed."
A look of surprise was smeared across the goddess' face as she wasn't looking completely at him, but Athena above him. The hunters behind her were also in similar states of shock
"Athena…" Artemis softly called out.
"Now then, let us start the game."
Joker then summoned two pistols in his hands and dashed in. Dual pistols were his preferred style when Athena was his active persona. The durability of the metaverse weapons allowed him to safely use them as melee weapons without messing up the aim.
The goddess was still too stunned at his persona's appearance to register that he had begun his assault in earnest. She'd have to pay the price for shifting her focus away from the battle.
Joker took the gun in his dominant hand and hit her in the side of the face with the butt of the gun, following through as the barrel made its way across her cheek. Golden blood flew from her mouth.
He immediately followed up by pistol-whipping her again from the other side of her face. Joker was sure that taken out of context this scene would look bad in multiple ways. He was pistol-whipping a little girl. Then again, he was sure a goddess' skull could handle the impact.
He hit her one more time before he noticed that despite the heavy impacts she still stubbornly held on to her weapon. He expected as much from a warrior deity, she was used to pain. Anyone lesser would have crumpled to the ground underneath the heavy metal. He raised his gun aimed at her forearm and squeezed the trigger without any hesitation. The gunshot rang out and the goddess was forced to let go of the arrow in her hand. He then finished his assault with a crushing kick to her exposed body that sent her flying off to the side, where she skidded on the grass.
Joker turned around and was met with stunned silence. Both Hunter and concealed Thief were at a loss after viewing the violent display.
"PAHAHAHA" Crow held his stomach while he cackled as he made his way out the wall of mist. "Damn, Joker! That was brutal. A game usually requires two players. What brought this on?"
"I'm not in a very forgiving mood today," he said as shook the blood off his gun. "Besides, it's going to take a lot more to put her down." Joker gestured a gun towards the moon goddess, who was already standing upright clutching her arm. That burning sensation was back and it was stronger than before, now it felt like he was boiling on the inside. Joker guessed that Artemis was having an effect on him for some reason. He was forceful in his methods because he wanted to hopefully put a quick end to the battle before the pain consumed him.
Artemis let loose a wad of blood, spit towards the ground, and then wiped her mouth, fingering the fresh bruise on her cheek. A black flame burned idly on her sleeve "You know those things are for shooting, not bludgeoning people. Is there no honor among demigods like yourself?"
"Last I checked I did shoot you," Joker then looked her up and down, arm attached to his hip. "You sure you should be criticizing my fighting style when you're the one who ended up eating the dirt?"
She tilted her chin up at him. "You merely caught me by surprise, but don't worry. You'll be pushing up daisies soon enough," Her eyes then focused on Athena "What in the name of our uncle are you doing here? Most of the Olympians are supposed to be back on Olympus waiting for either the quest to end or for me to bring the sea spawn in for questioning. Why are you protecting this rogue demigod and assisting this doomed quest?"
"This isn't the time for you to become the esoteric embodiment of wisdom. This is a really bad spot for me to catch you sister. You're going against father's direct orders and abetting rogue demigods. One of which is clearly Norse-" Artemis wrinkled her nose in Crow's direction "-he smells like chaos, snow, and beer. This could be an international incident. Now speak before I'm forced to take you down too," her bow and arrows disappeared. Despite her injured arm, she slid a pair of hunting knives into her hands replacing her previous weapon.
"...Is this what the goddess of the hunt has been reduced to? How pathetically far have you fallen? If I'm not mistaken the hunt was a way for you to escape the responsibilities–"
A growl came from Artemis "-Athena you should know that everyone has a line. Even though we're sisters, there are some things you just can't take back once you've said them. If you are my sister, it'd be wise of you to stay on the right side of mine."
Athena let the rare smile grace her pale face "...But I'm not your sister, never have been, never will. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a sister,"Joker looked at his persona wondering if she had gone too far, yet for some reason, Joker had the feeling it wasn't the first time Athena had said something like that.
Joker eyed his opponent. Artemis's shoulders were slumping; her face had traces of hurt, anger, and resignation. He actually felt bad for her given she still had the face of a young teenager. Off to the side, the tall hunter shook her head in pity. Even Crow looked away and huffed in dismissal.
Joker knew it was cruel for Athena to say that, watching her reaction made him feel like it was borderline emotional abuse, and psychological torture for the goddess, but the goal was to break her spirit. The goddess of the hunt could chase Percy endlessly if she wasn't thoroughly crushed here. With any luck, she'd latch on to him.
"The time for talk is over. Now come!"Athena then hefted her spear.
"... Okay then…. fine…." Artemis called in a small voice. She then lowered into a lunge and kicked off. Joker mirrored her lunge and kicked off himself, Athena following above him.
Joker couldn't help but be amused as he took stock of the situation. Two speedsters dashed toward one another while low to the ground in a field while it was raining. If it was nighttime, it would be a perfect replica of those old ninja games he and Ryuji played.
A small shockwave went out from the force of impact as the barrel of the guns met the edge of the knives. Each combatant tried to impose their will on the other as they struggled for ground. Joker had the advantage of lower leverage as Artemis had tried to jump over him to get to Athena, but changed course at the last second, realizing a bullet to the gut wasn't worth a non-guaranteed swipe at the persona she mistook for her actual sister.
"Tell me. Are you really a little girl at heart, or are you some kind of secret lolicon with a fetish?" The goddess didn't reply to Joker's quip, but her anger was palpable as she briefly disconnected and started swiping with her knives
Joker was more than happy to reply in turn, as he parried with his pistols or attempted to line up a shot. Sounds of the high-speed battle rang out through the field as the two combatants performed their lethal battle dance. Silver knives repeatedly met and scraped against silver pistols in both the offensive and defensive.
Joker performed a backflip away from the combat while still continuing to fire mid-flip. The erratic spontaneity of the move caught the goddess off guard with the first bullet grazing her hip. The rest she weaved through as she forced him to re-engage in tight quarters.
Neither combatant was making much headway, not that either was trying very hard. They were feeling each other out. However, Artemis neglected that the fight was 2v1, something which Joker was going to exploit.
Artemis was forced to disengage as Athena launched her spear and it landed in the ground between them. Taking the opportunity, Joker began to fire at Artemis. The first bullet grazed her cheek as she tilted her head to dodge it. She began slashing with her knives deflecting the other shots as Joker strafed around her. Every once in a while, a bullet would slip through the gap and make a pot shot thanks to the moon goddess' injured arm. It wasn't very significant as it seemed the jacket, she was wearing was some kind of armor.
Faster than he'd like. Joker ran out of bullets in the clip and had to eject the magazine to reload and infuse the new bullets with magic.
It was the moment Artemis was looking for, she rushed in to capitalize on the vulnerable state of her opponent. Before she could get far instinct screamed at her to jump, which she listened to, just in time for a spear sweep from behind to miss her legs. She twisted her lithe body in the air and aimed an unexpected swipe at Athena's unguarded shoulder. A quick slash and severing of the tendon would render her spear arm useless, allowing her to put more attention on the demigod.
She unhesitatingly brought the silver knife down on her former sister's shoulder, bolstered by gravity, only for it to meet Aegis in a sea of sparks. The shield had somehow independently rotated from where Athena was facing. Artemis then noticed for the first time that the shield was floating, orbiting Athena like it was a satellite. She had to hide her grimace. She knew Athena, Ares, Enyo, and their kids had a knack for weaponry–but not like this.
"That's a new trick," Artemis said as she continued her decent
"As I said, I am not your sister."
Artemis wasn't allowed a chance to retort back, as a glassy essence enveloped Athena and surged to her shield, the next thing Artemis knew, she was being flung back, her attacking arm getting the brunt of it. However, she wasn't lucky enough to be allowed to simply fall to the ground this time. She felt a hard boot connect with her back, with enough force to make her spit up more ichor before she was allowed to fall face-first to the ground. Joker had followed up, obviously expecting this to happen to her.
She wasn't given any breathing room as the instincts that had kept her alive so far kicked in again as she rolled out the way of a…. golden robotic fist? No, it was a downward spear strike. Either way, it left a crater in its wake. She rolled until she estimated she was at a safe distance. Only then did she allow herself to push up and stand once again.
"It's been a while since someone has come at me with this level of killing intent," Artemis thought as she clutched her side. Her arm was definitely dislocated. She examined Joker who had finished reloading, and Athena who had recovered from her spear strike. Her helmet obscured the top half of her face. "The boy has mastery over those weapons, both up close and at range if my bullet wounds are any indication." Athena hefted her spear as if to lob it at any moment. Her posture making her look like a one-woman phalanx "Then there's her. Based on my arrow from earlier, I'm guessing straight-up physical attacks won't work on her shield anymore" Artemis then brought out her bow and arrows. It hurt like a bitch as she moved her left hand to grab the bowstring as she notched an arrow. But she wasn't coddled like Ares, she could handle pain and battle damage. "I'll just have to weave my shots towards the boy," She then looked closer at Joker who appeared to be breathing heavily. "He looks borderline sick, it's probably making him hungry to end the fight. He'll get sloppy in his movements."
Joker wasn't feeling too good, even worse Athena's insta-heal wasn't kicking in. Athena's eyes shifted to him in worry. It was taking everything he had not to scream out as sweat and rain streamed down his face. The heat needed a release, not even the fire giant could help him. Satanael offered no answers to his condition. He had to end this fight quickly. He could have Athena use that power, but in his current state, he would only have seconds max before he passed out. Even though Queen was somewhere nearby, he didn't want to rely on the unpredictable Crow as his first defense. Not to mention it would be a very bad look for first impressions on the Olympians.
He watched as Artemis took a single arrow and fired it upwards. He was confused over the action before his eyes widened in realization. He made a mad dash for Athena, who hefted her shield skyward as the arrow rain commenced on his area. The thunks on her shield were indistinguishable from the rain currently falling. This time it seemed the goddess was ready for the blowback of the arrows being returned at her as she was already weaving through the field, but she kept firing. Joker quickly realized her plan. By keeping Athena occupied she was free to fire upon him directly with impunity.
He forced a smile on his face as he sprinted out from Athena's protective cover. He aimed one of his guns behind him at a downward angle and fired and allowed the magic burst from his gun to propel him forward. The other gun fired at the arrows, knocking them away. Shinya's training was paying off, he couldn't hit every arrow without a speed spell, but it allowed him to hit the majority of them. The ones he couldn't hit simply rebounded off him and fell harmlessly to the side. Not to the same level of Athena and other personas he used, but enough to suffice in protecting him, much to the obvious chagrin of the goddess in front of him.
Seeing her plan not working, Artemis decided to hell with conventional attacks and drew into her seldom used pool of magic. With a flick of her hand, a wave of frost flew at the teen. She had to contain her smile as it connected, slowing him down and making for her first solid hit in the fight. Seeing him struggle as the frost melted, she decided to capitalize sending another icy blast his way. It was for naught though as he angled both guns behind him a super-powered blast, substituting for his legs in a makeshift jump.
To her surprise, the boy's guns dematerialized in midair, and Joker quickly unleashed a grappling hook from underneath his sleeve. Before she could blink it wrapped itself around her arm, and he pulled himself to her. She tried to time a punch as he zoomed towards her, but he grabbed her fist, transitioning to using her as a platform to handspring over her head in order to position himself to land behind her, where he gripped the other hand holding her bow. The other hand quickly snaked around her and joined the first, grabbing the bow directly in half restraint, pressing the bow into her stomach, and pinning her remaining hand in the process. Ichor dripped from her arms being smeared on his vividly red gloves.
From an outsider's perspective, they looked as if they were lovers in a reverse embrace. Or maybe a brother and sister given the current discrepancy in ages. Either way, it was something that infuriated Artemis to no end.
"You dare touch me so casually," she said as she craned her neck only to see even his domino mask hidden by his thick frizzy hair that reminded her of Athena when she had found something particularly fascinating to study. "I have killed men for less,"
A second passed and she received no answer from the overconfident teen. She then realized his grip was slack, almost non-existent. With a single step, she shed his grip. She turned to face him, bow raised, ready for a point-blank shot. She hesitated, just by looking at him she could tell something was wrong. His hands were clenched tightly to his head. Even creepier she saw Athena nearby doing the same thing.
Nothing, however, prepared her for the screaming. The boy let out a scream so sudden, blood-curdling and so loud that she jumped back out of sheer surprise. The sound that came from his mouth was almost unearthly and shook her down to her core, to her immortal soul. She had a feeling she was bearing witness to something not entirely meant for her eyes. Low flames had begun to form in a ring around him, the strength ebbing and flowing in tune with his screams, constantly shifting from red, to orange, to blue, to even white. She could only look on in horror as the nightmarish scene played out before her. Far off she could see her lieutenant and the one called Crow also pause their apparent battle to watch in awe.
Ethereal blue chains she had not noticed before now, pulsated from his back. She looked over and noticed that Athena was on the other end of those chains as she was dragged over to Joker's position. Now hovering over his position (That was new too she might add) the chains entangled themselves around her limbs, from her sandals to even her spear. The blue chains started to slowly turn red as if they were dropped in one of Hephaestus' forges. The cloth and skin of the goddess smoked at each point of contact, until finally the goddess herself caught on fire.
It started when Joker touched her or more specifically her bow. His plan was to restrain her weapon, so Athena could bring a quick end to the fight. The moment he laid his hand upon her bow however, the heat became unbearable. Joker had no choice; he turned to the inside of his mindscape searching for a way to make it stop. What he was greeted with was that the floor looked like the surface of the sun. His few personas that couldn't fly and weren't immune to fire such as Alice, Baal, and the flute player were clinging to the ones that could, to escape the heat. Yet he found he was perfectly fine standing on it.
Satanael had his head turned to the edge of the mindscape, his gaze stony. Joker followed it and when he looked out towards the edge he felt a pull, something was calling him. When he looked back at his original persona, he nodded at him signaling him to go forward.
Joker began to walk, each step sizzling underneath his boots, yet he felt cooler than he'd ever been. He didn't know how long it took, but eventually, he reached the edge of a cliff and stared beyond at the cosmos in front of him. What lay there was what he somehow knew was the sea of souls. It was the first time he had ever seen it. Alluded to by Lavenza, Igor, and Yaldabaoth, but this was the first time his eyes had personally seen it. It was as if someone had taken all the stars in the sky and placed them right in front of him. Millions if not billions of tiny, shiny multicolored dots were placed in a vast night sphere that expanded far beyond what his simple human mind could comprehend.
Shaking off his awe and amazement, Joker tenderly reached a hand out into the starry expanse toward one particular dot that was glowing an especially bright red among the others. Out of every other star, he somehow knew he could touch this one. It was calling to him, he was sure of it, a lost soul wanted his attention.
Impossibly he managed to touch the star despite it looking so far away, it buzzed in place at his tentative touch, almost like the hum of an engine starting up after years of disuse. Joker took a chance and wrapped his gloved hand around the fiery ball of mass. Before he could settle his grip, the ball of light suddenly transformed, and Joker's vision started to go white. Joker felt himself being pulled back to reality but before he succumbed to the blankness overtaking him, he glimpsed a hand like Crow's claws but golden in color with blue tips and a white wrist cuff with black buttons, gripping his own in a firm handshake.
"What happened?" Joker thought to himself as he was returned to the battlefield that was reality. He could feel his throat was sore, indicating he was screaming the whole time. Yet the pain and burning from earlier were now gone, leaving him feeling better than he had in days, maybe even weeks.
He surveyed his surroundings. The field around him was burnt in a perfect circle. The rain, overcast, and mist were gone, no trace of it ever being there, now replaced with the intense beaming, burning summer sun. Somehow, he knew it was 95 degrees Fahrenheit exactly, pretty damn hot for New Jersey. But it didn't affect him in the slightest despite his heavy thief attire.
His eyes flicked over to his opponent in front of him; the goddess Artemis. Her bow was hanging limply at her side, her face was painted in a mixture of morbid curiosity, slight concern, and was that….an inkling of fear? Although it wasn't directed at him personally but what was above him.
Joker slowly craned his head around. The first thing he noted was the red chains coming from his back. As he followed the new colored chains to the persona it was tethered to, he half expected Athena, but he could feel her safely within his mindscape looking upon the scene in astonishment just like the rest of his personas were. He looked up in time to see the last of the embers fade away from the newly awakened persona.
Its mask that it had for a face resembled the flame of a torch. Sky blue eyes peered out to the world from behind it. The head behind the mask was fittingly shaped like a lighter. Put together both pieces resembled a cowboy hat. It wore the clothes and cape of a spaghetti westerner that went to Japan. The Japanese rising sun stood proudly on its body in red and white. The stripes of which trailed down its pants to its red boots and golden spurs. The red sleeves on its arms were adorned with black sequins leading to the same white cuffs and golden hands Joker has seen in the sea of souls. Sensing Joker's gaze on it, the persona began to speak
"The one whom hath awakened me from mine long sleep with thy fervent bid? So, thou desires to rely on my old flame? Thou who hath been marked as a sinner by society and hath faced a punishment too big to shoulder will toil no more! Arise like the phoenix and heed my call! Bid mine name vow to me, compose the power of light yours. Mine name is…"
The name of the persona entered Joker's mind as easily as breathing, all he had to was to say his name. Joker grabbed the chains and whipped them, scattering stray sparks everywhere.
Artemis flinched away as they said his name in unison. Joker took a step forward which was matched by a step backward from Artemis. In a way, she now truly looked her age in his eyes.
"You know, I never really understood you gods. You're all capable of working literal miracles, yet you oppress and enslave, then claim "It's for the good of society". I admit you're one of the better ones with your huntress group, but even you have skeletons in your closet. And Apollo here is happy to dole out punishment." Joker then gestured to the sun god who was staring at Artemis with a myriad of emotions he could sense from the reinstated persona. Longing, happiness, altruism, anger, rage, resignation, regret, protectiveness…. Love? It definitely didn't feel like a sibling or family love coming from him. Joker decided to ignore the connotations of that for later and decided to focus on the battle itself.
Before she could even get a word of questioning in, Apollo had dashed forward and sunk an explosive heel in her gut. Not even Joker was fully prepared for the sudden assault as Apollo rebounded from his kick and then swiftly threw three gigantic flaming punches at her torso, finishing with an uppercut that launched the goddess up.
"For a deity known for archery, and looks like a cowboy, he sure fights like a delinquent," Joker then darted in as well, not wanting to pass up an opportunity while the goddess was stunned and airborne. Joker wound up and threw a kick himself. Thanks to the goddess's current diminutive stature the kick landed in the middle of her face, the impact made a crunching noise as she was sent flying back.
With blinding speed, Apollo appeared behind her and stopped her flight by letting her crash into him. The persona however was not so kind as to let her gracefully fall. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her midsection and began to lift the kicking and screaming goddess over his head. At the apex of the lift Apollo then began to fall as if he was a rock, performing an aerial suplex. Before he could hit the ground, he threw the goddess in his place, allowing him to safely pull up and fly in a burst of fire in his palms. Below him, Artemis lay in a crumpled heap.
Joker carefully trotted over to where the moon goddess lay. Her vulnerable form splayed face down in the tall grass. Her jacket and leggings were frayed and torn in various places from the battle. A small pool of golden blood had formed by the side of her head. He started to check in order to make sure she was knocked unconscious, but her body glowed a faint gold, then it started to grow. The goddess grew from pre-teen to teenager until finally, she reached adulthood in a matter of seconds. Her fingers dug into the dirt as she forcibly pushed herself up to her knees. As she brought her head up, Joker saw that her otherwise otherworldly beauty and delicate features were now marred by not only the marks from where he'd pistol-whipped her earlier, but now it was joined by a broken nose that was leaking blood down her mouth and chin.
"We're …. not…. done here…. yet." Artemis rasped as she unsteadily rose to her feet on shaky legs as if she was a newborn fawn.
Joker was impressed by her persistence, after reading the Iliad, he would've pegged her for running away.
"I…can still fight. I won't let you win. You must face…true justice…."
Joker shook his head "You have my respect, but this fight is over. Surrender. Any more and you might not get up…. At all. It's just bullying at this point."
"You shouldn't look down on a goddess!" At her shout, the faint glow turned silver and enveloped her whole body as if she was a living night light. Behind her even though it was around midday, the moon was clearly visible. Artemis flashed a wicked smile as she assumed her true godly form. A surge of strength entered her body akin to a shot of adrenaline. It'd do nothing for her previous wounds, but it would suffice for now.
She'd never thought she would have to go full tilt against her brother and a random demigod, but she couldn't afford to fall here. The demigod might be vaporized before she could ask questions, but it was a small price to pay in order to take down her traitor brother and sister.
Artemis looked at the demigod only to be met eye-to-eye by his molten gold stare, the rest of his face expressionless, bored even, as he absently kicked the ground. That's when she realized he wasn't a steaming pile of ash on the ground even though he was looking at her pure unadulterated divine form.
"Are you…. Are you some kind of god?!"
In response, the boy pulled off one of his red gloves exposing his hand. After he stuffed the glove in his pocket; he materialized a knife in his remaining gloved hand. He then reached over and made a light cut in the middle of his palm. Not gold, but red blood gushed out, proof of his mortality.
"Does that answer your question?" He nonchalantly replied as he put his glove back on, disregarding the blood. For some reason, it made her even angrier. She immediately retaliated by summoning the biggest stream of ice she could. Aeolus would hate her for the weather change later, but she had to win here, lest she wanted a ticket to Tartarus.
Apollo countered by sending a blindingly hot jet of fire from his extended palms. The two blasts of opposing elements met in the middle between them. Above them, it seemed as if the sun was struggling with the moon for supremacy. A literal terminator was being drawn in the field.
A huge steam explosion happened as a result of the searing hot flamethrower meeting the arctic cold beam, sending all three combatants back and creating a thick fog over the battlefield.
Artemis' was confident that if nothing else, the explosion probably got through the demigod's seemingly unbreakable defense. She wanted badly to capitalize on the newfound vulnerability to magic, but visibility was zero, meaning long-range magic was out. She'd have to get up close and personal.
She coated her knives with ice and prepared to charge in when she viewed a light coming her way. She'd lived long enough to know a fireball when she saw one and dived to the side to avoid it–only to see more flaming orbs headed her way.
She kept dodging. The fireballs were occasionally accompanied by a bullet interlaced every so often. Incendiary ammo if the briefly blazing spot next to her indicated.
She kept evading with the grace of a gazelle, both Apollo and Joker had to be firing blindly in the fog, getting lucky with her location. Reckless with zero visibility. But she guessed she should expect such a tactic to come from her brother. Luck could only take one so far and eventually, it will run out.
A full minute had passed by under the unceasing barrage of fire and metal when Artemis realized the shots were never errant. Not close enough to hit but aimed in such spots as to keep her at bay.
"Even Apollo would struggle to see in these conditions. Can the boy somehow see through the steam?! Also, why hasn't it dissipated already?"
She decided the only way it was going to stop was to confront the source. Artemis raised her knives, gritted her teeth, and began slashing at the incoming projectiles both fire and bullets, as she made her way through the steam cloud.
Eventually, she caught sight of a mop of frizzy dark hair and darted towards it. Soon the boy came into view. She reached out to grab his lapel as he was backstepping, but before she could, a golden metallic hand grasped her wrist. A cry came from her throat as he grabbed the wrist that was shot earlier. The hand mercilessly tightened, purposefully pressing on the bullet embedded in it, causing as much pain as possible. Apollo then appeared as her captor, the steam seeming to bend around him. Parts of the rising sun on his body was now smattered with soot
Joker then walked out into full view, the steam dissipating now that she was caught. He had slightly frayed spots on his clothes from the explosion but was otherwise unharmed. In his hand was a small white ball, which he quickly tucked into one of his jacket pockets.
"It seems Operation: Blinders was a success to lure you in and get rid of that pesky ice magic," he said in his smooth voice that had an edge of mocking to it.
"Sm–Smoke bombs, what a petty party trick," she spat out, tone laced with bitterness.
"Seemed to work on you just fine," He countered with a smugness in his voice "But now you're mine"
Apollo then delivered a swift knee to her gut, folding her like a chair. While she was recoiling, he cocked his fist back and delivered a devastating punch to the side of her face, sending her to the ground and creating a crater.
Yet again, Artemis found herself struggling to stand up. As she looked up at her two adversaries it was clear now, that she was being toyed with. No, that wasn't right. The way Apollo was looking at her with those cold blue eyes, it was like he wasn't even seeing her. Joker had a scowl on his face. As if to say he was unimpressed by her performance. As if he was expecting better.
Yet…she couldn't give up. She was going to beat both of them one way or another. His playing with her only gave her more opportunities to win, all it would take was one slip up.
"I don't know who the hell you are, but I'm sure you can answer all my questions once I take you in." She said with false bravado, hoping to stall while attempting to regain her bearings. Even to her though, her voice sounded shaky.
A cruel smirk graced the boy's lips "Like I already told you It's over."
The last part of his sentence carried a note of power that was unknown to Artemis.
"We'll see about—" The sound of glass breaking interrupted her, and Artemis found she wasn't able to finish her sentence as she had suddenly found herself frozen in place—caught in some kind of chrono stasis. Only her eyes were able to swivel from side to side. It seemed she and Joker were trapped in their own little personal bubble. Everything inside the bubble, including both herself and the boy, suddenly had their colors inverted. Outside she could see everything moving just fine, including her now motionless lieutenant Zoe being dragged by the back of her jacket by the boy in the bird costume.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that golden hand of Apollo in a pointing gesture, extending itself from out behind her. The hand slowly raised up until it was out of view in what Artemis assumed was behind her head. The next thing she knew, she felt an indescribable burning pain as if she was an ant under a magnifying glass. She only caught the briefest glimpse of the world returning to normal before she passed out. How sad, she couldn't believe she was about to die at the hands of her brother and sister; Greek tragedy at its finest. At those thoughts, her consciousness finally slipped away.
Joker stood over the smoking, prone form of the goddess on the ground. He had patted her down and turned her over, so she didn't die via asphyxiation. Only at that moment, Ishtar had pointed out to him that gods didn't breathe air. Her mouth was open, and the whites of her eyes were showing.
Thankfully while majorly injured, she was still alive. With a brief study of the surroundings, his new persona Apollo wordlessly disappeared in an orange flame. The active persona position was immediately thrust upon Alice with no warning. Apollo made his way to the back of the mindscape, the other personas giving him a wide berth, not daring to get in his way.
"Are you going to kill her or should I?" a voice came from behind him. Joker didn't even need to turn around knowing it was Crow.
"Nobody is going to die here today, Crow,"
"Feh, as softhearted as always. In this world, one day you will eventually have to kill. Some people simply won't stop until they die, especially when they have superpowers,"
Joker sighed and then injected some confidence into his voice. "It wasn't when you attacked us, and it won't be today, Crow. Killing a major goddess will have unforeseen repercussions. We'd be starting an all-out war with an entire pantheon."
Crow sneered. "And this doesn't?!"
Joker turned and narrowed his eyes at Crow, who looked no worse for wear from his battle. "As you said earlier; the gods have egos. With her still alive she'll personally come for revenge, and the other will be cautious but won't act. With her dead, it'd be up to the others, and they'd move out of fear of being next until she returns, and that's what leads to war."
"Surprisingly clever thoughts coming from a dumbass. I still stand by what I said, Joker. Mark my words. The longer we stay in this world the more likely it's going to happen. And don't come crying to me when it does." He then threw the tall girl he was lugging behind him next to the goddess with an ease that was reminiscent of taking out the trash. He then clapped his hands together as if rubbing off non-existent dust. "I'm done here, I'm heading to the train." With his piece said, he then leapt off back towards the town as if he was a ninja.
Crow's absence was quickly replaced by Queen who dumped her own batch of Ko'd hunters into what was now a pile. She eyed Joker with a look that said she was trying to figure out which words to say to him. "...You okay, Joker?"
Skull (whose girls had static coming off them), Fox(whose girls had various frost patches), and Panther(whose were sleeping and tied up with her whip) who had just added their share of hunters to the pile, had also stopped to listen for the answer. "Yeah man, we heard ya screaming all the way in the forest. The hell happened?" Skull asked, his usual enthusiasm replaced with concern.
Joker gazed at his hands and flexed his fingers "I…. somehow awakened a new persona," looks of confusion and shock filtered through his friend's faces with the exception of Panther.
Fox put a finger to his chin. "Which one, if I may ask?"
Panther let out a hum of agreement "Makes sense, Hecate was whispering to me all day about the presence of the sun being close. I ignored her until the sky suddenly cleared up with no explanation."
"Yeah, and the friggn' field caught on fire!" Skull said his boisterousness now returning.
"The warm light of the sun shall expose all those who dwell in the dark."
Queen pinched the bridge of her iron mask "Thank you Fox, for your poetics–"
"You're welcome, now that leader has Apollo as a persona, maybe we can get together and–"
"Anyways," Queen cut off Fox before he could segue to a whole new topic. "Where are Noir and Violet? We really need to get to the train now,"
Just as Queen finished, two girls followed by a half dozen wolves burst from the undergrowth coated in a psychedelic glow and gently laid themselves among the others.
A cavalier hat atop a fluffy head of hair jumped down from a branch "Don't worry about us! I had to help Violet." Noir called. "She got flustered when one of the girls called her a whore in heels and a cape." She then pointed to a specific girl who had severe light burns among her body.
"She's lucky she got off with only that!" Violet said as she hopped down behind her, the only one without a hunter in tow. "Also, congratulations on your new persona Joker-senpai."
Joker cracked his neck "Now that everyone is here, let's head to the train before it takes off,"
"Yeah, it's way too hot out here now," Panther said and was met with murmurs of agreement from the others.
As Crow had done previously, the seven teenagers proceeded to leap their way towards the train station. Joker was lagging a bit behind the others, Queen slowed her pace to match his as they bounded across the rooftops.
"You really can't fool me, Joker, I know you're more tired than you let on," Queen said.
"What gave it away my Queen?"
"Both as your co-leader and someone who loves you, it's almost a requirement to know everything about you."
"Fair enough," As he descended from his current jump, the tension left Joker like the end of a song. He was sure he wasn't going to be able to make the next jump as soon as he touched the roof.
As soon as his feet hit the ground, in stride, Queen's arm was around his back, the cooling touch of Diarahan emanating from her white glove. With a smirk, Joker draped his arm over her shoulders and together they leapt from building to building trailing the others.
Queen flashed him a sweaty, toothy smile of her own. Her hair was tousled in a few places too, clearly, the heat was getting to her more than she let on. Joker thought she never looked more beautiful, so much at ease and in her natural element. "I told you Ren, you can rely on me. You're my partner, we share each other's burdens. Now mind telling me how you got worn down so quickly, you usually have way more stamina than that." Her use of his real name was his cue to drop his mask, which he did so with ease in her arms.
"You would know I go for a long time, wouldn't you?"
Queen instantly went tomato red "No! I mean yes! I don't know?! Maybe?! Y-y-you know w-what I meant when I say that! I mean Oracle always says according to stats you have the most magic reserves out of all of us but Panther and…."
"Makoto," he said to cut her off while suppressing a laugh "I know what you meant."
"Don't make me drop you," she said as they descended from their current jump.
"Yeah, I know love." Joker said, yet used his free hand to clasp onto Queen's just in case "What happened is that Apollo is pretty….liberal in the way he uses spells."
"For starters he used Freidyne to maneuver and get around, a burst coming from each foot. Then when attacking he used his skills in conjunction. Particularly God's hand on top of Agidyne for an extra mean punch." Queen looked lost in thought. Maybe she was trying to figure out how to incorporate it into her own fighting style.
"Then there's that last move I saw you do. It was amazing Ren. You literally stopped time."
"Yeah, I know I'm amazing,"
Queen rolled her eyes "You've been hanging around Morgana too much."
Joker let out another light chuckle "He's not the worst company to have. To answer your question, that move was called Nova Kaiser, and that move was one of the most magic-intensive moves I've ever used. Not only did it stop time in that area, but it was a combination of both -dyne level Nuclear and Light elements."
"Wow…two elements in one."
"You don't seem too happy about that, Queen."
"I mean I am happy. I was just…. thinking. With everything considered. That persona seems a little too experienced don't you think?"
Joker moved his hand to his chin in thought "You're right, he seems cut from the same cloth as Athena,"
At the mention of the wisdom goddess, Queen's nose wrinkled. "Can we not talk about her for 5 minutes and be happy you have a second Greek persona on hand now?"
"Instincts must be going wild huh?"
Joker wiggled his eyebrows at Queen which caused her to roll her eyes.
"Between both Athena and Artemis, let's just say I took no small satisfaction in seeing Artemis get knocked out."
"Well, we're leaving now so maybe you'll calm down a bit."
Queen bit her lip, "Ren, promise me something,"
"What is it?"
"Promise me that if we run into Athena, you'll let me talk to her and fight her. There's something I want to see for myself,"
Joker's eyes widened at the request of his co-leader, he then looked away as his hair fluttered in the breeze of the jump. "Of course, just be safe."
Queen squeezed Joker closer to her. "You're a hypocrite, you know that?" Her words lacked any edge to them, matter of fact they had a degree of softness to them. "But I promise."
"An 8 stop! It's my turn forever. Now eat this, you can't stop me with this revolution." Ryuji laid down all four 3 cards "And while it's still my turn, and you guys have no choice but to watch me win, tell me Ren-Ren, why'd you beat the shit outta that goddess like that and not kill her?" Ryuji said as he played a 5.
"You're getting pretty cocky there huh?" Morgana said
The thieves had safely secured passage on the train that was headed to St. Louis, where a layover would happen and then go onward to Denver. Of course, they were two cars behind the demigods, and just before the dining car so as to not arouse suspension from the satyr. In Ren's booth he was joined on his side by Makoto, and on the other were Ryuji and Sumire. Morgana was lounging in Ren's lap. They were currently playing rounds of Tycoon to pass the time. Cutthroat of course. In Ren's opinion, what other way was there to play?
Ren glanced at the cards in his hand, he had taken his glasses off so as to not let the reflection give away what he was holding. Morgana smirked as he viewed the card. He should probably let Morgana know eventually that he had a terrible poker face. "Like I told Crow, killing her would have just brought war on us," Ren informed as he watched Sumire hesitantly contemplate choosing a card.
"Pass," Sumire said as she finally gave up on selecting. "But we're also running the risk of her coming after us again."
"Well, that's the point, Sumire. She gets so focused on us, that she ignores the demigods. Pass," Makoto said as she set her cards face down on the table.
Ryuji guffawed, "She can't be too much of a problem though. Ren-Ren beat the shit out of her."
Ren leaned back in the booth "It's not smart to assume, Ryuji. Artemis isn't like the shadows or monsters we've fought before. She's a goddess; goddess of the hunt to be specific. The main reason I won was that I caught her by surprise for the most part. She mistook my personas for her siblings," He used his finger and made a spinning motion next to his ear, "Messed with her head."
"If she goes back to Olympus, she'll find out the truth," Makoto added.
Ren nodded his head. "Exactly. She'll adapt, and when she comes back, she'll be ready." Ren's voice had a note of seriousness in it that made Ryuji and Sumire go pale.
Morgana mewed in agreement. "There's also the off chance the other gods will want a piece of us now that we're on their radar,"
"That's right, Morgana." Makoto confirmed, "Most notably, Apollo. I don't think he'll take too kindly to us beating up his twin sister."
Ryuji hung his head, "I'm going to get shot with an arrow, aren't I?"
"Most likely, bonehead. If I were you, I'd work on my evasion skills," Morgana teased.
Sumire was mortified in the face of Morgana's comedy. "Does evasion even matter when we're talking about gods of archery?" Sumire's question promptly made Morgana's glee change to abject horror.
"Does it matter?.. Just take your turn already Ren." Ryuji said defeated
"An 8-stop. Counter-revolution, I'm out. Have fun cleaning up," Ren said as he laid two Jokers and two aces on the table.
"HA!" Morgana yelled. Thankfully most of the other patrons had their noses too buried in books, magazines, and laptops to really notice or care about the meowing. In some cases, Ren appreciated the American citizenry's general disinterest in other people's situations. Either that or the mist was covering Morgana up and portraying him as some kind of toy. He couldn't say, given Ann's not-so-subtle glance every so often.
"You monster! Shit! I still have 3 cards left!" Ryuji said as he threw out a two then slumped his head.
"That's what you get for talking smack, senpai!" Sumire said as she threw out a 6. Ren had noticed she had a good amount of high cards in comparison to Ryuji's low cards. Unless Makoto had the remaining 8 cards, he was certain the order was decided.
"By the way, should we be worried Akechi is sharing a booth with both Haru and Futaba?" Ryuji asked as he picked his head up.
"Not really, I just came from over there," Makoto said as she flipped over a 7 and laid it on the table. "They're sitting on the inside and he just changed tables. Maybe because Yusuke is lecturing them on the aesthetics of the American countryside." She finished with a sigh. Sure enough, as he looked up the aisle, two of Yusuke's three boothmates had glazed-over looks as they listened to him lecture. Haru alone was the only alert one as she actively replied back to the blue-haired boy.
Akechi was further down where he was surprisingly playing a game of cards himself. The weirder part of the scene was that his opponents were Alice and two of her teddy bears. It would look almost adorable if not for the fact the bears had live smoking TNT strapped to them with duct tape. Not that any of the regular patrons noticed of course.
"So, they're goin' to be busy for the rest of the trip huh?" Ryuji said as he waved off his turn to Sumire.
Ren shrugged, "I can think of worse ways."
It was nighttime. Ren was sitting in the booth jotting away in his probation journal. The others had either gone to the sleepers they bought or were currently ransacking the dining car. Everyone except for Makoto who was sitting next to him, leaning against him while she read. She was reading a book about a girl forced between two loves. It was physically painful for him to read it, but it gave her enjoyment, so he wasn't complaining.
Ren sighed as he closed his journal, his newest entry completed. Makoto, feeling the movement, looked at him curiously.
"You know Ren, we rarely get time to just for us nowadays,"
"What about last Tuesday where–"
Makoto immediately blushed red. "Not in a sexual sense! Though that is good, I'm talking about a simple date. Like the time we went to the Ferris Wheel."
Ren made a futile attempt to brush the bangs out of his face. "I know, love. It's just between the monsters and our financial situation not being the best, it's hard to actually see the sights of New York without fighting for our lives."
Makoto sighed. "I get it. It's just what's the point of being in another country if we can't see the sights? That's why I absolutely loved it when I got to go to the museum with you….and Yusuke….but mostly you. I just enjoy being with…. well you."
Ren blushed at her admission. "I see your point. I love spending time with you too. That's the basis of a relationship. Maybe we can summon our persona's to patrol? Satanael would love to spend some time with Anat." Makoto rolled her eyes in mock disapproval.
"Yeah, that's a good idea. Just have the demon lord and his transformer mistress rampage through downtown New York City."
"I'm not hearing a no, Mako-chan. Also, I'm surprised you watched Transformers," That answer earned him a swat on the arm.
"Where do you think Anat came from? My dad used to love them, and he got Sae into them too. Do you think I'm just a Buchimaru fan?"
"Your current choice of underwear would beg to differ," Ren said as he eyed the black and white bra strap peeking out of her halter top. "But I'll say 99%"
That one earned him a slap on the back of the head. "Pervert," she said with no malice in her voice. "Think harder, Ren. It's a good idea but it needs to be refined."
"Fine, killjoy. Black Frost and Alice are the smallest two I have. They can be discreet when they need to be."
"There we go, right answer." She kissed his cheek. She then eyed his journal laying on the table.
"I'm surprised you're still writing in that thing. I don't think anyone would believe our current daily activities. Even if they did, I'm pretty sure leaving our world, much less the country goes against your probation."
He poked her side and she squirmed a bit."That's because I'm not writing about it, my love,"
"Then what are you writing about?"
"Since I got a new persona, I realized that without the velvet room, I have no way of cataloging them anymore." He reached up and fiddled with his bangs. "So, I thought I'd take a page out of your book and start writing about them."
Makoto beamed at him, "I think that's an excellent idea, Ren. Maybe you can write about our personas sometime too?" She then turned her attention back to the journal on the table. "But that's not what's on your mind, is it?"
Ren shook his head "Just thinking back to the fight with the moon goddess,"
"I wanted to make a big statement to get them to go after us, but I wonder if I went too far,"
"Think you can't take on Zeus? You managed Artemis with ease." Her voice carried a note of smugness.
Satanael bristled at the insinuation. "No. Not that, well it's part of the problem." Ren admitted. "The problem is what even constitutes retribution in the divine world?" Makoto gave him a look of confusion. "We pride ourselves on exposing then taking everything from a target. Gods and monsters are beings who have their business out in the open and their punishments are eternal damnation."
"What are you getting at, Ren?"
He sighed again then relaxed against the back of the booth. "I mean, how do gods change? And do we have the right? Artemis is the perfect example. She's hunting down someone innocent, but she shelters abused women and children."
"Sumire and Akechi raise good points, don't they?"
"They helped teach me that the world isn't so black and white. Cut and dry. The gods here are the epitome of it."
Makoto snuggled closer to him and offered her thoughts. "Zeus changed a bit after he was tied to his bed in the stories,"
"In the one I read, Thetis freed him, and he punished Hera, Poseidon, and Apollo"
"The point is, we'll do like we've always done Ren. We have the power to stick up for those who can't. We have the power to force a change if need be after we all decide based on our judgment,"
Ryuji's Little Black Book of Shenanigans:
Since everyone is writin' shit down, I'd figure I'd do it too. Not because Mona said I don't have the brain power to do it. Definitely not!
Hmm, what should I write?
Oh, I know!
Everyone tends to tell me weird shit they've done, or I happen to walk up on it now that we live together. I'm like a magnet for creepy. I'll write this crap down, so I'll have proof of it if anyone asks me about it
Did you know that Haru sleepwalks? Shit's insane. I was up late one night tryin' to use the bathroom and when I turn the corner–There she is. I was gonna call out to her, but then I thought better when I saw she had her ax up on her shoulders. Shit scared me stiff. I figured it out when she walked past me and didn't even see me. I had to duck under her ax to save my head.
So, I followed her and this crazy chick goes out to the garden an' starts chopping wood. Who the hell does that?! It's like ever since she got used to us, she's a slasher fic waitn' to happen.
I slipped back into my room before I could startle her awake. I totally did not let out a scream. I did let Ren-Ren know cause that shit is concernin'. The big bastard jus' gave me a shit-eating grin an' said he'd take care of it.
Occasionally I still see her walkin' round. Thankfully without her ax now. Maybe Ren hides it when she goes to bed. That's jus' the tip of the iceberg of the weird crap I see and learn 'round here.
Joker's Inmate Registry:
I figured I'd start using the pages of my probation journal to keep track of my personas, after being inspired by Makoto's notes on my other personas. Without the Velvet Room, it's up to me to record their stats and growth. Also, better to keep a record if new ones like Apollo emerge.
With that being said, Apollo is going to be the first entry as he's the newest one.
A human sun god of Greece with shining beauty.
Stats:(Told by Oracle)
40= Cognitive Wakaba
90+=Maruki Class (Hypothesized)
The way Oracle explained this to me, is that if a persona falls in that 10-point range it can reasonably stand up to its comparison in that ability aspect alone. She reasoned that if all 5 stats eclipse that range entirely, they could potentially solo the comparison with little to no issue.
Admittedly, the chart does get wonkier the higher you go. Going past Wakaba, the others were used as theoretical benchmarks between myself, Mona, Queen, Crow and Oracle. This is because the chart doesn't take into account scenarios. Such as that Okumura sent mooks after us and didn't fight us himself. Or the fact Sae couldn't be attacked at certain points. Lack of talent in a given field, or exceptionally gifted in a field. Status conditions. Buffs and debuffs. Or even that specific personas such as Satanael are deliberately meant to stand up to certain enemies.
In short, the flow of battle is often unpredictable. In Oracle's words "Power levels are bullshit".
Trait: The Sun's Blessing
When this persona is equipped, vitality restored is increased during a baton pass. Changes under certain conditions.
Nova Kaiser (Unique to Apollo. Deals severe Nuke + Light Damage to an Enemy)
Acquired in a complete surprise awakening in a battle against Artemis. Looking back, physical symptoms preluded his appearance.
For some reason he scoffed upon learning my code name was Joker.
He is capable of long-range combat but prefers to pummel people with fists. Queen and Skull approve. He's also brought a completely new facet to battle in combining his skills such as adding an element onto God's Hand for a more effective punch, or Triple Shot for an elemental barrage. The drawback is that you feel the blowback of every spell used, thus Apollo went through both my physical health and my magic pool very fast. The others seem keen on adding different tactics like this to their own combat styles.
Tends to keep to himself in the back of the mindscape and seldom joins in any current discussions or arguments. However, I can sense a deep sadness and longing coming from him as if a part of him is missing.
Surt immediately declared him a "Worthy Rival Forged in Fire" upon entry, but it seems to be very one-sided on his part. On the other hand, a rivalry of coldness has developed between Apollo and Fox's persona Susanoo. Susanoo has seemingly equated Apollo to Amaterasu, and Apollo is only happy to reply in turn. Not as bad as Tsukuyomi though. Heavens forbid I awaken the sun goddess herself.
Apollo has, however, formed a strange bond with Athena. The two are simply content in just relaxing in each other's presence, no words are spoken. I can't tell if the bond is based on being from the same pantheon or something deeper. Either way, I have a feeling Apollo won't be the last persona to appear this way.
Fun fact: The reflection trick in the tycoon game has been used on me before in actual card games. You probably have to buy special shades, so it doesn't happen to you in poker.
Despite how it seems, Joker isn't super powerful here, he simply knows how to pick and choose his battles. Athena is a horrible matchup for Artemis given she fights primarily with knives and arrows, only Girimekhala would probably be worse (not that Ren currently has him). On the other hand, once Joker switched to Apollo, had she had an opportunity to connect with her ice it would have been super effective since Apollo is weak to ice. Apollo is just too experienced to let that casually happen though.
The middle eastern stuff was inspired by Justasimplewriter1's "An Age Gone By '' It's a really good Pertemis fic that features the various Mesopotamian gods. Artemis attempting to interfere with the quest was also taken from that story. (Go read that story) Once I read that part, it made total sense to me and became part of my headcanon that something interrupted her and the hunters before they could engage.
Don't expect two omakes for every chapter. Joker's Inmate registry will be operating independently of the current omake run. Whenever I feel a Persona explanation is warranted or needs to be updated, it'll pop up. One day I'll probably compile all the omakes into their own little story, but for right now I'm too lazy to do it.
Onto Apollo. In IS he's very much a late-game persona with a whopping 60 Sp cost per move. In EP he's a Mid-late game with a 39 cost, but weaker overall. I blended both games and added a little bit of the P5 touch here. I imagine him at around 60-70 if he was a DLC persona in 5(none fall in that range). So Gigantic Fist/Megaton Raid got swapped out for God's Hand. Heat Kaiser got updated to Atomic Flare. His tier 2 skills got boosted to tier 3. Finally Psychic didn't exist per se in 2, instead, it was the Nerve and Mind element. Apollo blocks them both, so I condensed them as part of the Psychic element.
I do have to give an E-cookie to Raider301. In his own vague way, he pretty much guessed what was going to happen next. So, kudos to you. Speaking of no one found that batman reference from 2 chapters ago.
Anyways remember to follow, fave, kudos, and most importantly Review/Comment I love reading what you guys put.