Port 10: Shadow of the Priestess
Author Notes: This is my first time publishing a Shadow encounter. I'm struggling to write the actual battle itself, so I decided to give you guys the encounter and see what I did right and what I did wrong. Think of this as a learning experience!
In this chapter: To save Yukari, Fuuka, Ken, and Junpei, Yosuke, Aigis, Labrys, Teddie and Koromaru enter the Midnight Channel, only to find something that Fuuka didn't want anyone to see….
"M-Me?!" squealed the real Fuuka. This Fuuka was not her… or so the terrible makeup job splashed on her face would say. What really alarmed Fuuka were not the lips smeared in red, but the golden, glowing eyes, caked in eyeshadow, which only served to highlight those eerie, unnatural eyes. Her mouth was smeared into an insane grin as well. And her body was clad in a form fitting black dress, with glittery jewels pasted around it, giving it a fake, pathetic aura.
"Yamagishi-san, she's a Shadow! A part of you!" cried Yosuke, "That's what the Midnight Channel is all about!"
When Fuuka looked to Yosuke, Labrys nodded as well, a determined, but scared look written upon her face, "That's right. This I know too well, it's kinda like somethin' ya don't wanna admit. Ya can tell us what ya wanna admit, Fuu."
Fuuka couldn't listen to them though. She was staring right into the mad, bulging eyes of the other Fuuka, who glared at her with sinister glee. The horrible doppelganger's aura was only enhanced by the unnaturally glowing gold eyes, held so wide you could see the entire iris. Fuuka backed down a step, and frowned, "B-But… I'm me… I'm Fuuka Yamagishi… you're just wearing my face, right?"
"Unfortunately," snorted the other Fuuka, "I mean, not like I'm some gorgeous model like a friend of mine, right?"
Fuuka felt a sting right to the chest, and her hands pressed against her own features, her round cheeks, her lips, her wide, large eyes… she wasn't a beauty… not at all. Not like Yukari, or Mitsuru, or Aigis. She looked down at her boots, and frowned, "Um…."
She saw the Shadow's hips shuffle a little, implying a shrug, "Besides, everyone is prettier than me. Even with all my makeup on, I still am me, plain ol' me, ugly little Fuuka Yamagishi."
"H-How are you… why are you wearing my face as a mask…" gasped Fuuka. So this was what Labrys had gone through… yet the way this Shadow was saying all that stuff right in front of everyone without a care in the world, this stunned her. She gulped, and glared at the Shadow with furrowed eyebrows, "h-how can you say that!"
"Yeah, when your makeup is just your Mystery Food X splashed across your face," cracked Yosuke.
From the boy's remark, anger began to boil up in Fuuka's chest, that and embarrassment. Everyone could see this monster caked in makeup, yelling and whining about being ugly. She bit her lower lip, trying to distract herself from the words being thrown at her.
But Shadow Fuuka simply scoffed. She put her hands on her hips, and smirked, "What does it mean to be… pretty? Accepted by everyone? To be on TV? To be loved? To have people surround you?"
"W-what do you mean… I… I get nervous when I get attention…!" cried a shuddering Fuuka, "I… I like just being in my little group, with my friends!"
"See? Your little group that shows you're not pretty! I don't want your little group full of your SEESies, I want to be loved by everyone! Unfortunately for me, my innocent, quiet little bookworm act kinda backfired on me, what with that robot and that bitch who nearly doomed our world!"
Before Fuuka could open her mouth to respond, someone else spoke up, a more innocent character, "Oh bear… don't tell me… Fuu-chan is jealous of… Ai-chan and Yuka-chan?"
Fuuka immediately turned around, to see a confused Teddie, with Labrys by his side. She stamped her foot, shaking her head vigorously, "N-no! H-How can I be jealous of my dear friends!"
The silver-haired android quirked her eyebrows, but narrowed them, clearly not believing what the Shadow was saying, "But when ya worked with me and the others in da Shadow Operatives, you always seemed so lovin'!"
Fuuka actually felt some relief at Labrys' good-natured remark. However, that remark was enough to make Shadow Fuuka snort mockingly, then burst into a fit of mad cackling, palming her face, "Hehehehe… hahahahaha… GEHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Do you seriously," she snorted, "believe in that garbage?!"
Koromaru growled viciously at the golden-eyed, crass version of Fuuka, and Labrys' eyes jerked wide open, a deep frown forming on her face. "Well, yeah, of course I do! Fuuka's one of my friends, and ya don't mess with my friends, bozo!"
"Would you be her friend after what I'm going to tell you, you fake bitch?" Shadow Fuuka snarled. Labrys shut up at that point, her frown settling for a furious snarl.
The Shadow even turned over and pointed to Aigis, who backed a step at the harsh glare she was given, "That goes for you too, 'Ai-chan'!" but then, she reached out and grabbed the real Fuuka by the shoulders. Pain shot through Fuuka's nerves as she felt the Shadow's nails dig into her sensitive skin, as Shadow Fuuka spoke again, "But this is dedicated just for you, me~"
Fuuka tried to push the Shadow away, but she found she couldn't do it. The grip Shadow Fuuka had on her shoulders were like a vice grip, and no matter how hard she tried, Fuuka just couldn't even budge the ghastly visage. "What do you want!? Let me go!"
"What do I want? I just want to show you the truth you keep denying! What you really are is just a jealous little girl, who wants to be adored, just like your friends! You claimed you weren't bothered at all back in senior year, when it was always Yukari, or Aigis getting all the date offers, but you want to know the bitter reality? You wished it was YOU who got those date offers… but no, that wasn't the first time those bitches wronged you…."
Fuuka paused, unable to think of anything to say. There was a bit of truth in what the Shadow was saying: she really didn't wish it, but she did feel a brief tinge of envy back then….
"Speaking of high school, didn't you have such a big crush on Minato? I remembered you planned to confess to him during the festival, then turns out he's dating Yukari! Oh, how you cried that night! Tried to hide your tears, then when you saw him and that bitch in her precious little yukata, which were so much better then yours, you had to rely on that brat Ken and that musclehead Akihiko to console you!"
Fuuka shook her head, yes, she had a crush on Minato, but she was over him. She refused to think of what could have been, had he not fallen for Yukari instead and went to her. She remained silent, but her breathing began to grow heavier. The Shadow may claim to be her, acts like she knew everything about her, but Fuuka thought it was insane.
Much to her surprise, Shadow Fuuka had tears streaming down her eyes, and she cried like a cartoon character. "Oh, oh, oh, Minato will never notice me now, it was such a silly crush, I was such a fool to believe Minato could ever notice ME~!"
The sight was so ridiculous, so pathetic, that everyone stared at the Shadow as she rubbed tears from her dark eyes, but the golden gleam and eyeshadow remained untarnished by the tears. Fuuka in particular stared at the Shadow in a mixture of horror, fear, and repulsion. "But… Minato's dead, so I doubt your words mean anything…."
"No, it's not about Minato. Fuck him. It's about how ugly we are. How much of an ugly duckling we are, compared to the beautiful swans of the S.E.E.S.. I mean, look at Mitsuru. That stern, ice cold leader of ours was considered the most beautiful woman in Gekkoukan High… who could match with that, huh? Oh, I know, Yukari, that bitch! She's Ms. Junes now, and everyone seems to love her sooooo much, huh? That's because she's pretty, so she's accepted! Everyone likes Aigis, and look at her! She's adorable!
"And look where you are… you try to be social, but everyone always flocks to someone else, someone who can actually look attractive and hold a conversation for less than ten minutes without trying to make them eat their shitty food…."
Fuuka looked down, the harsh glare and cruel words of the Shadow starting to get to her. No, she wasn't jealous, she didn't want attention. She shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut to stop the tears starting to form, "No, no… I don't like socializing… I don't think those things about my friends… I don't…."
Shadow Fuuka pointed directly at Fuuka's temple, "That person is you!"
Then, the strange Shadow girl rose her arm up, and then, darkness clumped together and formed into a large computer monitor, resembling one of the brand new LCD displays they had in the electronic stores. Fuuka stared at the monitor, eyes now widening, as the rest backed away, watching the monitor flicker on.
"Remember last night? I thought I had issues, but that night you spent surfing the web, and went on your blogs? That really opened some eyes!"
A sick, grinding feeling passed through her stomach, and she felt her knees start to falter, to weaken, as her thoughts began to whirl into a void of unconscious doubt, anger and fear. Doubt over her physical appearance and if anyone truly wanted her. Anger at this foul Shadow impersonating her.
And fear, because how everyone else would see her.
Her knees were starting to wobble and buckle. Her breathing began to get tighter and tighter, her throat almost constricting in on itself. She couldn't look at anyone else, especially since she imagined what kind of thoughts could be going through their heads now.
Actually, she really didn't want to think of their thoughts right now. This time, she was glad she couldn't hear Juno within her….
Then, her green eyes widened, and Fuuka looked up at the golden-eyed doppelganger, who was busy tapping some keys with poorly manicured nails. The second that familiar logo of 2channel popped up, Fuuka's shoulders hunched. She tried to step forward to stop the Shadow, before she did some real damage.
"N-No! Stop it!"
"2channel?" Teddie's innocent voice spoke up, "I didn't know you enjoyed that website too, Fuu-chan! Yosuke goes on there all the time!"
"Shut up, you stupid bear!" Shadow Fuuka positively screamed at Teddie. Such a shock caused the bear to jump in his boots, and he began to shake.
"Ooooh! I don't like this side of Fuu-chan!" he squealed. Fuuka felt really sick now, and looked at everyone else, who stared at her with wide eyes.
The green-haired girl felt even worse now, and she squeezed her eyes shut, but, she couldn't resist, and let her eyes open. Then, she gasped.
There was a giant monitor, zoomed in on one particular thread. There were photos of Yukari, some from modeling magazines, others from what looked like college, and most of all, the official photos of Ms. Junes, from her posing in a bikini, to that silly costume she wore at JunesCon.
'I hate Junes, but goddamn, that new chick they hired is so hot.'
'Junes is run by Koreans!'
'I bet that Hanamura guy is descended from Koreans!'
'Shut up, you NEET!'
'Her name's Yukari Takeba apparently! I think she was my senpai back in high school lol'
'Wait, Takeba-senpai! She goes to my college! She's hot, but pretty antisocial, except for when she's with this girl….'
Then, there was that post. Fuuka's eyes narrowed, and her fists clenched every time she thought of that post. Seeing it was even worse. It was from an anonymous poster, but it had a photo, a college snapshot of Yukari and Fuuka, the brunette's arm over the meek girl's shoulder, flashing a confident grin. Fuuka, on the other hand, had an awkward smile on her face.
What revolted Fuuka, given what she had said, was that Yukari was in a pink tanktop and jeans. Now, as she looked at the photo again, she sniffed and felt her shoulders slacken, "Y-Yukari-chan…."
'ms junes is perfect but that bitch better gtfo'
'Wow, she hangs out with that pig?! Tell her she needs to get hotter friends, anon!'
'I bet that fat bitch is a Korean!'
Fuuka almost teared up when she saw the message she posted as an anon. And the Shadow then looked out at everyone, and grinned.
"To make things better, why don't I read out my true feelings on that whore?!"
Fuuka almost collapsed, her mind at wit's end with the Shadow's taunting, and her knees wobbled. She almost fell to the ground, but stopped herself quickly. All she could issue out was a weak whisper, "S-Stop… s-stop….!"
"I've known this bitch since high school. You know she's called Yukari Takeba, but what you don't know is that she's a clingy, spiteful, selfish girl who can't let the past go! She would just spit in your face instead of being grateful, and yet you people make her out to be some sort of goddess!"
'who cares, she's hot!'
'so who wants to be smothered in Junes-tan's ass? She has a real cute ass!'
'I think Ms. Junes is a bit too old for my tastes, but she's just too cute!'
The monitor switched off at that point, leaving everyone to stare in stunned silence. Shadow Fuuka, however, looked rather pleased with herself, and Fuuka could barely look up, now that the incriminating text was gone. However, her face was heating, her throat was tightening, and her eyes were blinking, her emotions running haywire.
Why? Why her? She just needed to vent, and now, everyone was going to hate her and see her as an envious bitch! Fuuka swept a finger past her eye, trying to wipe the forming tears, and with no one approaching her, she felt all alone.
Shadow Fuuka then snarled at the real Fuuka, and spoke again:
"So, you know what this means…? People consider you a crime against nature! You know it to be true! When compared to your flawless, beautiful friends, you're nothing! So… you know what this means…?"
Aigis' eyes narrowed, but everyone else looked rather surprised to see another side to her. An ugly side, an evil side. Fuuka looked back at them, and quickly threw her hands over her face so she couldn't see them, but she knew they'd still keep staring, and that was the worst part. "No! Don't look at me! J-Just don't look at me!"
"EVEN A DOG IS PRETTIER THAN YOU!" screamed Shadow Fuuka. Her eyes blazed with a fire as she screamed those words. Koromaru growled and barked angrily, but Shadow Fuuka ignored that, as Fuuka stared wide-eyed.
"H-How can you… argh…" Fuuka almost fell to the floor there, and she felt her face heat up, while her eyes began to burn. She felt tears dribble down the corners of her eyes, and she put her hands to her face, trying to hide them away. A hot, heaving emotion rocked her mind, and rather than fear, only one emotion seethed through her right now.
"So, here's the thing: you still have time, let Yukari suffer! Let her suffer for being better than you in every single way! Let everyone suffer for being prettier than YOU! Let Aigis suffer for being nothing but a machine with a pretty face! Nobody would want her, except freaks who think scrap metal is hot! Let Mitsuru suffer, for being nothing but a haughty bitch trying to play commander! Or hell, you like Risette, right? To hell with her, that plastic bitch!"
"S-Stop it!" yelped Fuuka, her heart in her throat, unable to look at Aigis, or anybody else for that fact. She shut her eyes tight and shook her head, hot tears rolling down her cheeks, "Whoever you are, s-stop it! I d-don't think that way about anybody! Not Yukari-chan, not Aigis, not Mitsuru-senpai, not even Rise-chan! I'd never say those horrible things!"
Shadow Fuuka sniggered, then she fell into a horrible, full blown laugh, an evil cackle with no heart, and all malice, a sickening thing to hear from the screeching other self, "Why? Whoever? Oh, you stupid, shallow, jealous bitch, I'm saying these horrible things because, as I said before, I'm you!"
Fuuka let out a loud sob, and she fell to her knees then. She spoke clearly and with full intent, "No! No! Y-You can't… you won't… no, no! I would never really think those things! I…I…."
Labrys was the first to jump in, "Fuu, no!"
However, she was caught by Aigis, who simply watched. If Fuuka was looking, she would have seen a pitiful expression drawn over the blonde android's face.
She didn't know what Yosuke and Teddie were doing, and she didn't care. Koromaru, on the other hand, was whimpering.
Fuuka stared at the golden-eyed Fuuka, the evil, fake, plastic Fuuka, and yelled out her true thoughts, "You're not me!"
Shadow Fuuka was silent for a few seconds. Then, she grinned so wide, it looked like her cheeks would fall off. Then, she began to cackle, loud and clearly, a hauntingly loud laughter that roared through the closed building. A dark aura surrounded her, as Shadows began to pour in from the doors of the distorted dorm, and an explosion of pure power spread from aroud Shadow Fuuka.
The turbine caused was enough to send some chairs sprawling over, but soon, the dust cleared, revealing the Shadow's transformation.
All stared in shock at the transformed Shadow Fuuka. There was Juno, but instead of the mask she wore, she now had the wide, grinning expression of Shadow Fuuka, with fake, plastic lips, wide, darkened eyes with that golden glow, and her peacock shawl was tossed over her back, now enveloping her shoulders.
But that wasn't the most drastic change. Juno had a bubble for her body, but Shadow Fuuka's body was now replaced by a skeletal thin frame, so thin and mangled it barely resembled a human figure, or even anything close to human proportions. One thin leg was crossed over the other, and she arched her back, posing rather seductively. It was a horrifying sight, given the malformed shape of the Shadow's figure.
"T-That's Juno?!" cried Aigis, who rightly sounded quite horrified.
"Aw man… dis ain't good!" yelped Labrys.
Fuuka stared in horror over what Juno had become. Only now, did it really hit the poor girl.
She had rejected her own Persona.
Her whole body shook, and she barely pulled her arms back to put her hands over her dry lips, eyes wet with tears, as her body began to lose its strength. She could barely keep herself conscious, and soon enough, she felt she was going to collapse.
Tears only fell down her face. However, she snapped out of it as Aigis cocked her fingers, Labrys readied her battle axe, Yosuke twirled his kunai, Teddie sharpened his claws, and Koromaru snarled, and the five moved to approach the twisted Juno. Fuuka couldn't say anything, for now, her friends would have to face the Fuuka Yamagishi she never wanted anyone to see.
This must have been what the Inaba kids had gone through two years ago….
Shadow Fuuka, meanwhile, poised herself seductively, and snarled in a heavily distorted voice.
"I am a Shadow… the true self… I won't be held down by beautiful people anymore… and you're going down first!"
Final Author Note: For those wondering about the 2ch comments, it's based off translations I've read. Enjoy, anyways!