Port 11: Supermodel Dissonance
Author Note: ST has a TV Tropes page now, thanks to ExtraSaber and ChrisX! Go check it out, the link's on my main page.
In this chapter: Juno isn't exactly a pretty girl….
The distorted, twisted Shadow Self wavered loftily on her feet, her head leering to-and-fro, her skeletal, angular body twisting dainty. Her narrow hips swayed, almost hypnotically, and she began to speak, her voice filtered with a haunting echo.
"Look at you beautiful people… making me feel so jealous… so insecure…."
"Oh! This bear may be beautiful, but you shouldn't be so jealous! I'll save you, Fuu-chan!" growled Teddie. As he tensed up, a blue aura began to swirl around him, warping with overwhelming power. The bear growled, and his eyes took an intense shine to them as a rotating tarot card came to view, then he suddenly threw his hand past and shattered the card with his claw.
"Kamui!" yelled the bear. A bulbous shape came to being above Teddie, and its features took form: comical eyes on its head, what looked like a goofy grin, claws and paws, and what looked like a missile for its tail. "Now, Bufudyne!"
And so, the first thing the Persona did was fly up above Shadow Fuuka and raise its paws up, mist gathering in its hands. Kamui then threw his arms down, sending a blistering glacier careening towards the Shadow, but the strangest thing happened:
As the glacier fell onto Shadow Fuuka, it melted at a rapid pace. Teddie gritted his teeth and pulled his arms back, torqueing himself, then he spun towards Shadow Fuuka, his claws extended. The gangly Shadow only cackled, and swatted away Teddie with her hand. The bear went flying into the wall and shouted out in pain as it collapsed, leaving a hole, and trapping him in rubble.
"Ted!" cried Yosuke, and he turned to glare right at Shadow Fuuka. The boy tensed up, and he began to focus himself, bringing to mind his other self. The same blue, swirling aura began to flow around his radius, and Yosuke's eyes narrowed at the Shadow, "I'm countin' on you, Susano-o!" cried the boy. A glowing card materialized into thin air, causing Yosuke to spin around and clock the card with a hard blow, as the flame-haired entity dashed towards Shadow Fuuka like a white blur.
Susano-o bent his fist back, wind swirling around his fist. Shadow Fuuka turned over to the Persona, and she bent her back in a sickening way, dodging the hurricane punch, before her rib area began to crackle with electricity. The Garudyne from Susano-o's fist erupted forward, but slammed into the balcony, sending sawdust everywhere. The dust had cleared to reveal a chunk had been taken out, but Yosuke had no time to really assess the damage.
"Hmhmhm~ you know, I always considered you rather hot~ such a shame you could never notice a pig like me~!"
Shadow Fuuka's hands began to glow with lightning, and Yosuke, realizing what she planned to do, grit his teeth. He tried to have Susano-o crawl away, but Shadow Fuuka was too fast and her hands, in an arc of lightning, was about to plummet into Susano-o's chest….
However, the giant hand of a metallic titan grabbed Shadow Fuuka's hand, and after a purple glow and a fizzle, it was no more. The giant hand belonged to the armor-clad Persona of the Norse thunder god, Thor, and, from behind Thor's back, several missiles struck Shadow Fuuka with Thor still holding onto her.
Yosuke spun around to see Aigis, missile pads sprouted from her back, staring down Shadow Fuuka. "Aigis!" he grinned.
Aigis had a stone cold mechanical expression on her face, and spoke a whispered command, "Gigantic Hammer."
Shadow Fuuka made no reaction however, and chuckled as the smoke cleared, revealing the Shadow unharmed, yet still in Thor's grip. The thunder god silently raised his hammer, which sparked with electricity and light, then slammed it down on Shadow Fuuka's temple with such speed it was almost a blur to everyone's eyes.
And yet, after a piercing boom, the only sound left was Shadow Fuuka's cackling. Thor raised his hammer off Shadow Fuuka's head, but a howling gust and a sharp, cutting wind began to whirl around the Shadow, with Thor visibly weakening, and Aigis audibly grunting in slight pain. Labrys grunted, and was about to attack with her axe, but Shadow Fuuka placed her palms on Thor's chest and blasted him with a whirling turquoise tornado.
The blonde android screamed out in pain, and Thor vanished into blue fragments. A click could be heard from Aigis, and immediately, the figure of a Greek warrior came to view, her ceramic face and gleaming armor revealing her identity: Pallas Athena. This time, she charged towards Shadow Fuuka, her spear raised and her shield in front.
"Kill Rush!" yelled Aigis.
To follow up with that, Koromaru growled, and his muscles tensed, his legs visibly tightening up before he rushed right at the mangled Shadow. A figure erupted from within him, a three-headed dog, which rushed right at Shadow Fuuka, bearing its fangs. And from the Persona's mouth, came a bellowing stream of flames aimed to envelop Shadow Fuuka.
"Cerberus," Aigis nodded, before she pulled her arm back, pulling out a mini-gun. She grabbed hold of the handle, then unleashed a full round against the Shadow as Athena charged at Shadow Fuuka.
However, Shadow Fuuka only cackled, and she spun around to face Koromaru and Cerberus. She grinned, and held her hand out, "Heh! You stupid dog… I know Cerberus' a dark type! And I know a fire spell when I see one!"
The bellowing fire slammed into Shadow Fuuka's hand, but instead of enveloping her and incinerating her, it fizzled to smoke. Koromaru's eyes visibly widened, and Shadow Fuuka's leg glowed with a yellow shine. However, the intense brightness was enough to warn the canine, as when she kicked up, Koromaru threw himself to the side, the torque enough to barely dodge the Hama kick.
Aigis continued to pelt her with bullets, but it seemed the Shadow barely recognized the bullets at best. The android grunted and retracted the mini-gun, just as Shadow Fuuka turned over and glared at her. "Fake little bitch… your stupid weapons don't do shit to me… just like how you're just scrap metal…."
And when Athena tackled her, she grabbed hold of the spear, and this time pushed her hips forward, blasting Athena with an electrical surge. Aigis fell to the ground this time, shaking in pain. Teddie ran up to her, and Kamui emerged from behind him.
"I'll save you, Ai-chan! Diarahan!" he yelled, and a white glow surrounded Aigis. She got up, as good as new, and smiled warmly at Teddie.
However then, Shadow Fuuka threw a series of Maragidynes at them, while Yosuke blocked them and winced at the slight burning his arms got, the rest all managed to dodge.
Still trying to recover from nearly getting hit by that Ziodyne and the slight damage from the blocked Maragidyne, Yosuke gasped, and gritted his teeth, rather agitated at how things were going, "Damnit! How can we beat her if she's like this…?!"
"Den how 'bout 'dis?!" when Shadow Fuuka turned around, she saw Labrys practically flying in the air, her battle axe hoisted behind her shoulders, the joints in her arms whirling. Labrys heaved forward and slammed her battle axe onto Shadow Fuuka, who caught it with both hands almost nonchalantly.
"Heh… you're even more pathetic then your sister… you're just pieces of junk, both of you…!"
Shadow Fuuka then twisted her ankle and back to an unnatural bend, like a deformed model. Electricity crackled around her wrist and onto Labrys, using her axe as the conduct, and Labrys struggled momentarily. But when she was zapped, Labrys yelled out in pain and went limp. Shadow Fuuka, with a twisted grin, spun her wrist and forced it down so Labrys would be slammed head-first onto the floor, which would do immense damage.
Luckily, before Shadow Fuuka could do so, a white, maiden-like figure, with medieval style remnants on her legs and shoulders, Ariadne, evoked and charged at Shadow Fuuka while wrapped in the lined visage of a bull. Surprised, the Shadow dropped Labrys, and Ariadne scooped her up, coasting away from the frail beast.
Now that Shadow Fuuka was distracted, Yosuke looked over to Teddie, and grinned, "Here's our chance, Ted!"
Teddie nodded, and they both charged at the confused Shadow, their steps fast and light, their feet practically soaring past the floor. Teddie bounced into the air while aiming at Shadow Fuuka's malformed ribs, torqued his small body, and extended his claws, spinning into a drill.
At the same time, Yosuke basically kicked the air and soared over Shadow Fuuka's head. The Shadow had kept her eyes on him, however, but Yosuke grinned: all according to plan. After he flew past her, he then twisted around and slashed at her face with his kunai, at the same time the Teddie Tornado smashed into her ribs.
And just to add to that, Labrys put her hand out, and Ariadne, her Persona, spread her arms out. From beneath Shadow Fuuka's feet, rows of spike-like swords emerged, and stabbed right into her. Shadow Fuuka grunted out loudly, her blood flowing down onto the magic blades, but she kept her sinister grin.
While she stumbled back from the slash to the face and the blunt impact on her ribs, and to lead up to the assault, Yosuke flipped back and summoned Susano-o, whose sawblade began to spin around, glowing yellow, "Masukukaja!" he yelled.
Yosuke felt his whole body ease up and lighten, like he could actually soar in the air. Everyone else had the same glow, which Labrys and Koromaru took advantage of immediately.
The silver-haired android rushed at the groggy Shadow Fuuka, rearing her arms back, her axe glowing crimson. A whirling whine of gears screamed around the room, Labrys yelled out and followed up with a brutal slash of her axe directed at Shadow Fuuka's stomach. Shadow Fuuka went flying from the impact and smashed into the wall.
A white blur immediately soared past Labrys, barely identified as Koromaru, and cut right down the Shadow's body with his knife, causing blood to spill out.
The demented Shadow only yelled out, and her arms and legs spasmed with pain and fury. Yosuke began to feel a little more comfortable, they'd grown so strong that they could actually beat her!
"H-Hey, we can actually do this! Ya hear…" however, when he turned around, Aigis was still on guard. The blonde android's eyes were narrowed at where Shadow Fuuka stood, and when she caught sight of him, he almost flinched at the stern glare she gave him.
"Yosuke-san! Don't let your guard down!"
Suddenly, purple lightning bolts flew from Shadow Fuuka's body, and slammed into the entire group. Yosuke roared out in pain, being weak to electricity, and Teddie fell to the floor, Aigis spasmed erratically, and same went with Labrys. He bit his lip: four out of five were weak to electricity!
While Koromaru wasn't as affected, when he summoned Cerberus, who responded with a terrifically hot fireball aimed directly at Shadow Fuuka, she again blocked it with a hand, and this time, with the same hand and a flick of her wrist, phased a freezing beam at Koromaru cold enough for the dog to whine in pain and start shivering.
Yosuke and the rest, however, were still grounded from the electricity. Shadow Fuuka walked over closer to them, and grinned sadistically, plainly satisfied that things were going her way.
"I'm gonna torture you beautiful people… make you as ugly as me… Mazionga!"
A weaker, but still very painful, burst of electricity hit all of them. They all shouted in pain, and he swore that Aigis' voice was starting to buzz with each further Zio spell that hit them.
"S-Sis! Change yer Persona or somethin'!" cried Labrys.
Aigis slowly turned her head, her body barely able to move, "I-I can't… I need to focus…!" she moaned.
Yosuke's legs were about to falter. He couldn't stay on his feet, and his arms strained with pain, his hands almost dropping his kunai several times. He, painfully, turned his head to look at Teddie, who was on his knees, and Labrys, who was using her axe to support herself. His heart sank at Labrys in particular, her eyes wrinkling with pain, and her breathing hard. Koromaru was whimpering painfully, and while Aigis was clearly still up on her feet, she too was starting to strain, and her expression was certainly pained.
Then another Maziodyne was thrown at them. Yosuke roared in pain and he fell to his knees, while sick short-circuiting could be heard crackling from the two androids, echoed with Labrys' howl and Aigis' screech. Teddie grunted, but then he collapsed, on the verge of unconsciousness. Koromaru whined, but when Shadow Fuuka threw a glowing ball of Hamaon at the dog, he dodged it by a silver this time.
"Damnit… we can't die… not like this…!" Yosuke suddenly saw not just his friends, but the smiling faces of Saki and Yukari. His hands grasped his kunai tightly, ignoring how his palms were starting to open up and seep blood from the injuries, as he thought about his memories with Saki, how she had fallen, and how he had hurt Yukari.
He wanted to see her again. He wanted to apologize.
Yosuke gritted his teeth, and tried to stand up, but the voltage coursing through his body caused him to fall down before too long. He gasped painfully from the edges of his throat, and tried to grip his kunai as hard as he could, while his aching muscles worked to overdrive just to get him on his feet.
"I… I can still fight…!" Yosuke grunted. That only got the attention of the Shadow, who put a skeletal arm across her chest and laughed, her peacock shawl wavering in the air as she cackled.
"You idiot… you think you're some super guy, and ignore me for everyone else… you ignored me for that bitch, didn't you?!"
The peacock shawl lifted high into the air, dancing with electricity, and Yosuke could feel particles heating up. Dread came over him… if this hit, he was dead. He was already in tremendous pain, and he wasn't sure if this Ziodyne would either kill him, or just knock him out.
Images of his life, his friends, and his days with the Investigation Team flashed through his head. He prepared to say goodbye, when….
Suddenly, a roar was heard, and a three-headed dog clashed with Shadow Fuuka, all three heads bellowing scorching, twisting flames that licked at Shadow Fuuka. While the Shadow whipped out a barrier of wind to protect herself and throw the flames away, Aigis was the next to arise, and from her shoulders came two missile pads.
The hailstorm of missiles was launched against Shadow Fuuka, who then placed two hands out. A magical vacuum emerged, and Shadow Fuuka grinned as the missiles were redirected and flew back directly towards Aigis. Aigis' thigh rockets then burst open, and with inhuman speed, dodged the rockets at the split second, leaving several small craters dotted around where she once stood.
She had a sad smile on her face, and she silently gestured to Koromaru, who nodded.
But then, Koromaru, who had been operating Cerberus while shaking off the damage, narrowed his brows. His legs poised, his tail wagged, and he gripped his knife in his mouth even tighter. He then burst into an explosive dash, building up speed as Shadow Fuuka continued to wrestle with Cerberus, who was trying to bite her and blast her with funnels of Agidyne.
It didn't take a second later for Yosuke to realize what Koromaru had planned, "Dude, no! There's gotta be a-"
"Dis alright, man… Koro knows what he's doin'…" the familiar accent let Yosuke know that Labrys was alright, and he felt a wave of relief wash through him, as he listened, "he decided he's gonna get rid of Shadow Fuuka for all of us, so we can get to the others…."
"Ooooh!" Teddie moaned as he struggled to get up, "Me and Koro didn't get to a good start, but I hope he pulls through!"
Shadow Fuuka by now had grabbed hold of Cerberus, and had aimed a Hamaon right below it. The glowing hole appeared, and the holy signs began to circle around Cerberus. Yosuke was about to react, but then, Kamui came forth and fired out a hail blizzard right at Shadow Fuuka, which made her wrap her shoulders in flames to defend herself.
But, this left her vulnerable, and it was then that Yosuke realized the plan. He looked at Teddie, who gave him a thumbs up and an innocent smile in response.
"You… goddamn… mongrel! You ugly little…! Stop struggling!" yelled Shadow Fuuka. But, as the Hamaon started, and the pillar of light began to emerge:
Koromaru leaped, and tore Shadow Fuuka in half with a blurring slash right through the midsection. It was a beautiful hit, and Shadow Fuuka stared in shock as her upper body briefly floated in the air.
"You… are all ugly…!"
"We did it!" cheered Labrys.
Shadow Fuuka, overwhelmed by the assault, screamed out shrill. Her body had given out by then, and she collapsed to the floor, collapsing into a pile of dark, smoke-like essence. She was defeated.
But nobody's attention was on the fallen Shadow. Now, it was on the injured dog. Koromaru's legs were wobbly, and Cerberus could be seen behind him, flickering to-and-fro from solid form to spiritual particles, then back again. They all knew it was a miracle Koromaru was still standing, given the power of Hama-based techniques.
Teddie put his hands to his mouth in shame, and Labrys was biting her lip. Yosuke turned his head to her, and frowned: he did feel that he wanted to comfort her, but his thoughts were pushed aside by Aigis, who rushed to Koromaru, clearly worried about the dog.
"K-Koromaru-san!" Aigis yelled in horror. The dog weakly turned around to the blonde android, and barked happily… then his legs gave out, and he fell to the floor.
Fuuka had watched the entire fight from the sidelines, her heart in her mouth, her cheeks stained with tears, as her mind went through the entire battle.
Everybody fought so hard. They were willing to fight her darker side, the corrupted Juno, the side of her that was just so jealous, that she feared she couldn't compete. She felt so horrible, especially since Yosuke and Teddie, two people she had only known for a few days, were willing to go in and save her.
Fuuka got even more upset when she thought about it: her powers, which she had tried to use for good, were used by her darker side to cause harm to her friends. Had it not been for Koromaru's sacrifice, they might have very well been killed…!
Cold sweat eased down Fuuka's forehead, and she wiped it away, trying to keep it from her eyes, which were already wet with tears. Everything that had happened in the span of 15 minutes was so disturbing… first, she actually went to the Midnight Channel, then, she encountered that hideous Shadow wearing her face and humiliating her.
Then, after all that… and now that she thought about it… what the Shadow was saying, was true. She was jealous. She wanted to be seen as beautiful, as equal to the rest of her friends. She was, indeed, just wanting a chance to be seen as attractive as Mitsuru or Yukari. And in fact, she was not pleased over Ms. Junes, especially since it meant Yukari was loved by everyone now.
And especially Mitsuru. Fuuka began to tear up again, and sniffled to herself, as everyone turned their heads to her.
She only looked down, not wanting their disapproval.
"It's okay, Fuuka-san. You don't have to fear our disapproval… we're here."
Aigis' voice, now incredibly gentle, caught Fuuka's attention. She looked up, and saw Aigis, Labrys, Yosuke and Teddie all smiling at her with genuine happiness. The bear in particular stood up, and cheered.
"Fuu-chan, you may be jealous, but I think you're a bear-y hot stud as you are right now! You're such a cutie pie!" Teddie spouted. Humorously to her, Yosuke groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Ted, stop trying to score," a deadpan Yosuke muttered. The timing of it all made Fuuka giggle, there really was a friendship between the two.
Teddie only huffed, "Well, at least I'm not trying to score with Yuka-chan!" the response shut Yosuke right up, and he was left angrily stammering with red cheeks.
Even so, Teddie's praise did lift her spirits up, but she put her hands across her chest, and grasped the opposite arm with each, "Even so… I don't think you're being for real…" muttered Fuuka, unable to keep the wide frown off her lips.
"Naw, Fuu. Ted's for real," Labrys said seriously, "listen ta me... you saw how the whole Shadow thing went down with me last year, right?" the silver-haired android's expression and vocal patterns took more melancholic tones as she continued, "All that strife, that mental trauma, repackaged into a monster like that… it's real tough to accept. Especially when it's about… all that… but…" the android took a bit to compose herself, and breathed in, "you're a good person, and ya just need to work over this jealousy when it's all over."
Fuuka gasped, and thought about Labrys' words. She then turned to the disorientated Shadow Fuuka, and gulped, her eyebrows lifting in fright and shame. As comforting as they were, Shadow Fuuka was so frightening, and….
"Yamagishi-san… Fuuka…" Yosuke was the next to speak up, "we saw your darker side, but that doesn't mean we're gonna judge you… I mean, I made that mistake, judging someone over their Shadow. But you're still that nice girl I met at Junes, the one I took shopping. The girl I almost died eating food from," and even then, instead of guilt, the smile on Yosuke's face only made her laugh instead, "and yeah…."
Fuuka was finding herself more and more willing to accept Shadow Fuuka, and when Aigis spoke, it confirmed her resolution to face herself.
"Fuuka-san… you're a good person. You have flaws, but so does everybody… and so, you can accept that, and work to overcome them, and be a better person… that's what we all promised three years ago, isn't it?"
And now, Fuuka couldn't help a sad smile spread across her face. Aigis was right. They were all right. And so, with bravery surging forward, Fuuka turned to face Shadow Fuuka, who was now back in the black dress and the high heels, and the sloppy makeup.
She couldn't help but hesitate in her steps. She was so scared, so troubled to accept this beast. But, everyone had seen it, and still didn't hate Fuuka herself. Fuuka gasped, and gulped down the contents in her stomach. She had to be brave. She knew what she needed to accept, and despite being a parody, Fuuka knew those elements of her were true.
The girl walked over to the dazed, yellow-eyed doppelganger, and she lowered her head, smiling sadly.
"... yes. I do understand. I... I did feel jealous, because... no matter how hard I tried, I always felt ignored. That nobody wanted to pay attention to me. No matter how pretty I tried to make myself, that... that nobody would care, and would go to other people, like Yukari-chan. I felt so bad about myself, that I was angry. But... but I get it now. This is me. You... you are me... It doesn't matter if you're not pretty, or attractive... that doesn't matter at all. People should love you for who you are... I have friends for who I am! And they're your friend too... you're me... and I'm you..."
Shadow Fuuka, after staring at Fuuka for a few seconds, then broke into a sincere smile and nodded her head. Then, she dissipated into a warm blue, and rose up as the gentle protector, Juno, with her bubble, her face mask, her long green hair and her peacock shawl intact. Fuuka's face split into a wide grin, to finally see her other self in its purified form, and yet, for some reason, she felt stronger as her Persona filtered back into her.
Everyone was all smiles, even the wounded Koromaru barked weakly in joy. This made Fuuka pleased… although she had hurt everyone, she had control over herself, and her emotions.
The girl closed her eyes and put her hand to her heart, resonated with her true self once more.
"Welcome home, Juno…."
"W-What… what is this place…" muttered Yukari as she looked around the strange hotel. When she had woken up, there was this strange, otherworldly atmosphere that wrapped around her, "is this that… Midnight Channel….?"
She hardly had any idea how she got in there. She had fallen asleep soon after yelling at Junpei, so she thought, but then in her dreams, she felt like she was floating, like some weird sensation tingled down her spine. Yukari clutched her tanktop, and shuddered, glad that she had fallen asleep in her usual clothes.
It was a strange, foggy, otherwise unreal atmosphere. Her memories flickered, and she felt a pang in her heart as she recalled something she could never forget, especially as it was so connected to him.
This was like Tartarus… only, instead of being cold, silent and dark, it was foggy, hazy, a little warm, even, and rather lit, despite the darkly lit hotel corridors. And if it were like Tartarus… then there would be Shadows.
She had fought Shadows as an Operatives member, but even then, she had been called only for part-time work. Isis was still powerful, but at least Yukari always had the protection of a bow in her hands, and a quiver of arrows on her back. She was completely empty-handed at this point of time.
And worst of all, she had no way to defend herself. At least, the Shadows here were supposed to be tame, said Teddie….
However, by instinct, Yukari held a breath when she saw the familiar signs of the Shadows rising. Dark liquid began to slither and smoke on the floor, and Yukari watched with widening eyes, her shoulders tensing.
She could fight them. She had to.
Several Shadows gathered. A pool of darkness clumped together, and from within the dark abyss, came forth the forms. Two were strange, lion-esque beasts, whose names skipped her right now, and the other, or what seemed to be the leader, was an Avenger Knight. The Shadows began to approach her, the Knight raising its lance, and the lions snarling as they dragged their balled chains beside them.
Yukari frowned. First, she had to get stuck in this weird place inside the TV, and now, she had to fight Shadows. Well, she only had the clothes on her back, but she did know from Mitsuru and Aigis that this weird place may be where Shadows are created, and by that logic, Personas, too.
The brunette focused herself, preparing for the summoning, "Shadows, huh? You picked the wrong girl to mess with…" Yukari psyched herself, and prepared. She prepared for the burst of adrenaline, the lifting feeling, the power of summoning her Persona. Her eyes narrowed, her fists balled together, and she stood up tall, "I'll show you my true power!"
But nothing happened. Not even a surge of energy. Not even the blue, flowing aura that usually surrounded her. Yukari's eyes widened, and the Shadows only got closer and closer, their ethereal shouts getting eerier and eerier. Yukari felt a shiver crawl down her spine all the way to her toes, and she almost froze on the spot.
But wait, fear was the key to summoning a Persona, right? She was afraid. Maybe, just maybe, she could pull off a summoning. It was the best she could do… after all… she had no Evoker with her….
'Help me! Isis, help me!'
Her fear pressed down on the walls of her mind, her teeth chattering. Yukari, doing all she could, reached within the sea of her soul, and tried to pull out Isis. She had to. She needed her help. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, not even imaging Isis in her mind could bring forth the Egyptian healer. And again, there was no blue glow, nor even a rush of energy. Her Persona had completely vanished from her mind. It was gone.
What happened to her Persona? Where was Isis? She needed her help!
She began to shake, beads of cold sweat falling down her forehead, down the bridge of her nose. She was helpless. She instinctively grabbed at her back, and then mentally smacked herself when she realized she had no bow. She had no arrows. She had nothing to defend herself with.
She couldn't fight. She was helpless. She was now a wounded woman, unable to fight back, just a hunt for the hunters.
Without a second's loss, Yukari turned and ran for it. Her steps shook with fear, her long legs thrust forward, carpet collecting at her feet as she ran. She didn't dare look back. She couldn't look at the Shadows now, as brave as she usually was, she had no way of fighting back. That split-second delay could be the end of her life if she dared stall.
The monsters behind her snarled and twitched, oozing and just dying to consume her. She was so afraid, to the point where tears were gathering in the corners of her eyes, and she sobbed, her heart heaving with pain and guilt.
She told him she would fight, right? That she would live her life to the fullest.
That was a lie. Deep down, that was all it was. A lie. And now, she had nowhere to turn to. She was alone, frightened, hurt, and in despair.
The frightened young woman, although subconsciously knowing that her thoughts were deluded, cried out for the boy she loved, her savior, the one who made everything better. She needed him. Only he could solve all her problems… to be in his warmth once more… he was protecting them forever now, right?
'Help me… Minato… please help me, Minato-kun!'
Aigis had spoken on their current situation as they opened the first door, which had a love heart printed on.
"Koromaru-san will stay by the portal. He'll be the first to notify anyone if our search goes badly."
Upon opening the first door, the group was confronted with a sight that brought up mixed feelings within the group. While Aigis, Labrys and Fuuka either rolled their eyes or blushed, Yosuke and Teddie couldn't help wide, perverted grins. It was in the middle of a dark, foggy city road, and capturing everyone's attention was a large neon billboard attached to a seedy-looking hotel.
'Yuka-tan's Love Love Paradise Hotel'
Fuuka gasped, and her cheeks went a little red. Yosuke raised his brows, "What's wrong, Fuuka-san?"
The green-haired girl then put a finger to her braid, and began twirling it around rather anxiously, "Um, you see… it reminds me of something that happened four years ago…" she paused, her face going redder, "it was… very awkward…."
Aigis stepped forward, and with no tact whatsoever, responded, "Yukari-san and Minato-san were hypnotized by Shadows, and almost became intimate with each other during a mission."
Fuuka's face went scarlet red, and Yosuke couldn't blame her. In fact, his own face burst into a heated red, and he shivered in his sneakers.
"Oh wow! Did Minato-sensei score big time with Yuka-chan?" the enthusiastic Teddie cheered. Even Labrys was starting to go red in the face, and if Yosuke swore, he saw a dash of pink appearing on Aigis' cheeks.
"Um..." Fuuka paused, obviously trying to recover from a dizzy, flustered spell, "n-no… luckily…."
Yosuke didn't know what to say. Of course, he knew about Minato being Yukari's boyfriend before his death, but hearing about that, how Yukari had almost made love to him under the Shadow's influence, was enough to make his heart sink. He had to accept it, of course, but it did hurt.
It was like when he heard Saki was actually planning to move to a city with a college boyfriend of hers. He accepted it, but he didn't want to hear it.
He spun his kunai around his fingers, and shook his head slightly, easing off his headphones. "… Come on, let's go," muttered Yosuke.
Weirdly enough, there had been a certain lack of Shadows in the area. There had been a few Shadows, like a Lovers Serpent, or a few Maya types, but it was pretty much empty. However, Yosuke did notice something as they ventured deeper into the dungeon: glowing cracks started appearing around the floor and walls. At first, there were just a few cracks popping around the corners and in brief blasts, but with each hallway and door they walked through, the groves got deeper, thicker, and the glowing became stronger.
Soon enough, the cracks were appearing everywhere, and even linked to each other. Yosuke looked around the hallways awkwardly, and then stopped in his tracks. He pursed his lips, in fact he was curious as to what this meant, as he hadn't seen distortion like this back in his adventures….
Aigis looked over to him, but her eyes spoke a different story. She bit her lip, and when Yosuke looked to Fuuka, she put her hands to her chest, and her forehead was even glistening slightly with sweat. Then came voices, obviously of Yukari's voice. It sounded haunted, and switched from sadness, to denial, to anger, to despair.
"It's my fault… I let him down….!"
"I can't move on… I can't move on!"
"Why does everyone keep telling me to move on!? He died, but I can still think about him!"
"I WANT TO SEE HIM AGAIN!"
"Don't tell me this is about… Yukari-chan and… no, Aigis…" Fuuka gasped, and the worry in her eyes was really attracting Yosuke's curiousity.
Before Aigis could say anything, however, a girlish giggle echoed across the hallway. Aigis' eyes widened, "That sounds like… my sensors indicate… Yukari-san!"
That immediately got Yosuke's attention. Yukari? So this really was Yukari's Shadow dungeon… and the voices got louder, as the lights seemed to dim further. Then, a saxophone blared a high note, and music suitable for a porn, with a groove base line and a steady drumbeat, bounced off the room as the Shadow made her appearance.
First, a teasing leg. Yosuke's eyes almost popped out and he felt his heart skip a beat, that light skin tone, those slender thighs and calves, and his jaw almost dropped when the figure slinked around and showed herself to all.
A slender, long-legged figure popped around from behind the corner. Like on the TV, her body was covered only by a pink towel, while everything else was clear to the eye. Yosuke barely noted her face, instead busy staring at her smooth legs, his face growing redder by the second.
"It's Yukari-chan's Shadow!" cried Fuuka. When Yosuke did pay attention to her face, he frowned, seeing it was indeed the doppelganger. It was like Rise's Shadow, in a way: hot body, but the face was just off-putting.
Shadow Yukari had the glowing golden eyes of the Shadows, the eerie light highlighting planes of her face. Her mouth was twisted into a grimacing grin, showing white, pearly, yet fanged teeth. But when she saw who was looking at her, though, she had a haughty tone of voice and a generally arrogant expression of both facial and body language.
And something noticeable was a blue-haired plushy of a boy in uniform under her arm. She lifted it up and hugged it close, and while he didn't know, he had an idea of who it was.
"Dun tell me… she got a Minato doll…" Labrys muttered, her tone actually rather pitiful. The Shadow then gritted her teeth with a heated glare at the group.
"Oh look, it's that bitch Aigis and her posse."
Aigis simply frowned. The Shadow continued, and glared at all of them, one-by-one, with extra hostility aimed towards Aigis. In fact, it seemed like the sadder aspect of her expression were highlighted when she looked at the android.
"What're you losers doing here?! Cuz I'm on the lookout for love!"
"Ooooh, scoring some hot studs!" said Teddie happily. But Shadow Yukari growled, and snarled viciously at the bear. Everyone, especially Teddie, reeled back at the sheer hostility the glare held for everyone.
"Not like a shitty bear like you! I'm in love, and the man I love is so much better then all of you! You could say he's to die for, tee hee~!" the Shadow giggled, cocking her leg up proactively with a coy grin. Yosuke couldn't resist ogling that long, slender leg, with that dainty foot, and… his inner train was interrupted by Shadow Yukari's snarling again, "I'll show everyone what true love is all about! I'll let everyone know how much I love Minato-sama! And you can't stop me! So don't even try!"
And then, the brunette Shadow winked and blew a kiss to all of them, "Well, I must be off now~ toodles!"
And as the final insult, she smugly smirked at Aigis before she smashed her lips onto the Minato plushy. After a few disgusting seconds, Shadow Yukari looked back to them, and snarled arrogantly, before skipping into the hallway of the hotel.
Yosuke only sighed, "That's Takeba-san's Shadow…? Man…"
"She was bear-y mean! Oh, I'll get her back for that!" huffed a cross Teddie.
Fuuka bit her lip, and looked over to Aigis, "A-Aigis… you don't think… this is about…."
Aigis immediately shot Fuuka a look, but it wasn't a harsh one: it was one that spoke of sadness, guilt and regret. This interested Yosuke, and he cocked an eyebrow as she whispered, "I… I hope not… she can't go through fighting her friends again…."
Yosuke thought his breath got stuck in his throat, and he gulped. Wait, she wasn't in the tournament last year! What did Aigis mean, by Yukari fighting her friends? "W-Wait, what?" stuttered Yosuke, "What do ya mean?"
Labrys bit her lower lip, and looked at Aigis with harrowed, wide eyes. Fuuka also shuffled awkwardly, and put her hands to her lips. "Aigis…" Fuuka muttered softly, "should…."
Teddie, however, growled and flexed his muscles with a cross expression, "Hm! I may not know Yuka-chan well, but I know she's a good girl, and she'd never hurt her friends! Because friends are friends forever!"
Whatever Aigis, Labrys and Fuuka had in mind, they dropped it, with awkward smiles of varying authecinity at Teddie's behavior. Labrys actually had a genuine smile on her face, "Dat's right, Ted! We go through our hardships, but friends are friends!"
Aigis had the falsest smile, and Yosuke raised his brows, rather curious as to what seemed to be troubling her conscious. Not one to be quiet, Yosuke nodded to Aigis so he gained her attention, "So, what happened with Takeba-san back then? I mean, she wasn't in that tournament last year. That was just you, Akihiko-san and Mitsuru-san…."
The blonde android's cerulean eyes flickered with shame, "… I'll tell you some other time."
He wasn't satisfied with the answer, so Yosuke just awkwardly frowned. After what happened last afternoon, he wasn't going to push anything like that again, "Yeah, sure."
Yosuke's thoughts drifted towards other ideas, like, what if that had been him that Shadow Yukari seemed to be obsessed with? Well, he wasn't dead, so that was something, but what if…?
What if Yukari loved him like he loved her?
Yukari's legs pumped as fast as they could, and right now, she was glad she kept up running after Tartarus. Her cardio let her keep up her pace, thankfully, and her fear kept her accelerating past the hallways.
She barely recognized the familiarity of the place, or the cracks appearing in increasing fashion.
She was desperate. She needed an escape. Luckily, she soon saw a pink door, a large one, with handles and all. It looked like it was a V.I.P. room. And so, Yukari, with no other choice, groaned and ran for it. She opened the door, slid between the small crack, and then closed it.
When she turned around however, what she saw was enough to take her breath away, and this time, she was really creeped out.
It was a large hotel room, with torches settled on the dark pink walls, hot pink flames flickering and dancing. The entire room smelt of incense, like a couple had booked the night and were preparing to spend a night of passion together, as lovers….
The thought brought a pang of pain to Yukari's heart. She thought about Minato, about Junpei, about Yosuke, but Minato was the one she could truly think about. She looked around, cocking her eyebrows at the strange, cheesy room. A series of white Greek-style pillars decorated the end of the room, pink, translucent curtains draped from each, but what caught her interest was the giant TV on one wall.
Yukari's eyes widened at the movie, if you could call it that.
It was the sight of a female in bed, her naked, sweaty back arching beneath the bed sheets. Her voice, light and chirpy, hissed in pleasure, and the camera began to zoom out. It then focused on her feet, her toes curling and splaying. Then, it showed that the woman was on a bed, and she was with a man.
The man was a teenage boy with blue hair. The boy had wide, gray eyes, and a vulnerable expression. Yukari gasped, her face dropped in shock.
"M-Minato-kun!" then, her face creased in anger, "How would… where would they get footage of Minato, and…."
When the focus went on the woman, Yukari gasped. The same short brown hair, the same pierced ears, the same pink lips… it was herself! "Me!?" yelled Yukari, her eyes wide open.
Then, she heard cackling laughter. It was feminine, yet cheery, mocking, and bitchy.
"So, you came, huh, you obsessed slut?"
The shower door opened, and out came a long legged, slender figure, wrapped in a pink towel. The figure turned her back, and seductively walked over to the bed, which was cut in a love heart shape, with red duvets and a pink blanket, and twirled her butt rather seductively, before she sat down on it and kicked her feet innocently as she faced Yukari.
When the girl turned her head around, Yukari almost screamed. This girl had her exact face, and her hair was immaculate and light brown just like her own hair. She had full eyelashes, but her eyes were jerked open and showed the entire iris, which, instead of a healthy milky brown, glowed an eerie topaz color. Her glossed, full lips were spread into a wide smirk, the corners of her lips tucked in too tightly.
She crossed her long, sleek legs, one leg over the other, hiding her crotch along with her towel. The doppelganger then gave a half-lidded, sultry look to Yukari, and hugged her Minato plushy close to her. Then, she stood up, and began to walk.
"The only person worth anything in this world is Minato-sama… without him… this world is nothing! I'm an obsessed slut, just like you!"
Yukari stood there, watching the strange figure, clad in only a pink towel, her perky hips swaying to-and-fro with each step. She pressed her lips in confusion and anger at such slutty behavior, but what really got her was the face of the person. The measurements, too, fitted with her own figure.
The girl had her face. Her hair. Her eyes. But this girl's eyes were a strange topaz, and her lips were crossed into an alluring, yet far too wide smirk. Yukari furrowed her eyebrows, and tensed her shoulders, "Huh… who are you…?"
The fake Yukari stroked the Minato plushy in her grip, and smirked cockily, "Looks like the little bitch doesn't even know herself~"
Then, it clicked. Yukari's lips pressed into a tight, disdainful scowl, "Myself?! What the hell?!"
Then everything went to hell once she heard the door slam open. Yukari turned her head, and her heart sank to see who it was. "A-Aigis! L-Labrys! Fuuka?!" and she saw the other two figures, and her eyes widened, "Hanamura?! Teddie?!"
Yosuke had tried to dash forward towards her, but he stopped. His eyes looked lost, horrified, and his arms shook. Then, when he focused on the real Yukari's eyes, there was a shine to them. He almost smiled.
Yukari looked down from him… deep down though, she actually felt a small comfort from the way he looked at her.
"Oh, it's that bitch Ai and her little group, with that wannabe president bitch Labby, that ugly little geek Fuuka, that virgin loser Hanamura, and that useless bear Teddie! What're you gonna do, you gonna take Minato-sama away from me?! You'll never take him away!"
Yukari gave her the same hard stare everyone else was giving the Shadow. While the brunette held only anger towards the Shadow right now, she wouldn't say it, but she was afraid. This girl could wear her face like a natural mask, and with the way she acted, it scared her.
What else would she say? What else would she do? Yukari waited with baited breath, as she and the others stared at the personification of Yukari Takeba's fears and darkest secrets, her Shadow….