Groundhog's Day

 /=====================( - Tartarus - Desert of Doors - )=====================\ 
|                                                                              |
|         The soul is heavy. It falls so easily away from the light...         |
|                                                                              |
|      After a seemingly endless descent, there is a sense of light. The       |
| oppressive sussurance of the Dark Hour is gone, more noticable in its        |
| absence than its presence...                                                 |
|                                                                              |
|      However, the insidious horror of the Dark Hour might have been          |
| preferable in some ways. Those who come here are confronted with an endless  |
| desert, an infinitely vast expanse that stretches on to be explored, only    |
| for one to return to their starting point after passing some invisible       |
| point. The land itself seems to leach away hope and joy, leaving behind only |
| a profound regret, or worse, apathy. The only landmark within the wasteland  |
| is a set of six doors, arranged in a circle and facing inward towards the    |
| entrance point. The doors, each different in their own way, call to certain  |
| people, allowing them within to discover the secrets they hold.              |
|                                                                              |
|===============================( - Players - )================================|

|===============================( - Objects - )================================|

|================================( - Exits - )=================================|
| <U> Up:                  Tartarus - 1F                                       |
| <SW> Southwest:          Desert of Doors - Ptolomaea                         |
| <W> West:                Desert of Doors - Antenora                          |
| <NW> Northwest:          Desert of Doors - Judecca                           |
| <SE> Southeast:          Desert of Doors - Caina                             |
| <E> East:                Desert of Doors - Malebolge                         |
| <NE> Northeast:          Desert of Doors - Dis                               |

Time repeats, time repeats...

The Keys are being assembled. Thy call to each other, fate demanding their reuniting. The moon rises high over Tartarus tonight, the full moon gleaming with its unearthly pallor down upon the shifting, living structure that is Tartarus.

But above is not where people are turning their attention, but below. The Desert of Doors yawns before them all, the inscription above the door as ominous as ever: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.

Yosuke is probably standing next to the door with a huge sack, selling an array of theoretically useful products and Junes surplus at reasonable prices.

The six doors of the Desert are closed as ever, but a pedestal has risen, bearing slots with keyholes and card slots to insert each of the Keys of Time. The keys must be inserted by the one chosen to bear the responsibility and hopes of those who trust him... Or perhaps the will to power of one who is able to forge their own path. Either way, the pedestal remains, awaiting the six keys.

"...This is going to suck."

In all the hurried planning, in all of the worry on the train ride, Shirou tried to think of something suitably epic to say that'd raise the morale of him and his friends.

That's all he could come up with.

The call went out! Now it was only up to people to show up. Thora didn't know how much the word would spread, but she hoped it would spread enough that the appropriate people would show.

At least that's what the plan was. Thora has very low expectations given what she's observed these past few weeks. If nobody showed up today, that would be fine. She had infinite mondays to keep trying.

Thora stands in the very center of the Desert of Doors, watching the entrance. Her hammer rests next to her, inverted and leaning against her tree-trunk of a body. Ideally, there wouldn't be a fight. But if Thora has learned anything by this experience, fighting was going to happen and deep down, Thora was okay with that. It'd be /fun/.

Mondays had been repeating and repeating ad ignasium and it was getting old at this point. So, of course, Hitoshi was going to be on the bandwagon to head down into the Abyss with the rest of the SEES team to try and resolve this mess once and for all... and most importantly, to make Monday stop looping ad ignasium...

So, before midnight, he had gotten himself ready. He had armed up with his weapon of choice - his inkpens, tossing them into a fanny pack he had gotten used to carrying, and he had even put his Evoker holster onto his belt, as well. With things having changed so much, the fact he had apparently been able to summon a Persona with concentration was remembered... but in the Dark Hour, especially -within Tartarus,- he was going to take no chances. So, down he goes with the rest of the crew, somewhere in the mix-mash of it all, hanging relatively close to Yoshiro.

The rest of the SEES team may notice Hitoshi isn't exactly... erm, himself, either. Or rather, most of his head is bandaged, and he even wears a pair of sunglasses. No, it's not a new trend the writer's trying to influence.

Yoshiro didn't go to the Okina Fountains for the chocolate thing. He's given up after five failures... or has he? He told his mom about this 'cool chocolate event thing' earlier in the morning. He doesn't know what's happened since, as word's gotten out there may be a way to stop the repeating Mondays once and for all. He can really only cross his fingers and hope that come /Tuesday/ there will be a chocolate strawberry or two (or two hundred) waiting for him.

The tense air around SEES does help cement that there is something far greater at stake than satisfying a mere sweet tooth. He's come along with the rest of SEES, Evoker already drawn in his left hand. In his right... a purse with strawberry prints. Let's not dwell on that.

Yoshiro gives nervous glances to the surroundings every so often, being as soon as the Dark Hour ends, he's just going to wake up in bed and that's going to be jarring and scary if they don't get this off. If it can be gotten off. Will it be Monday forever?

Chisaki Tohsaki is on hand with the SEES contingent. The girl is dressed in combat gear today; a white tank-top and blue jeans, with her utility belt around her waist. It holds a few camping spikes and a single leather loop that has her baseball hanging from behind it. The weapon swings at her hip, and her crossbow hangs from her back. She frowns, and looks sideways.

She nods to Hitoshi. Then, she looks back -- and catches a /certain/ cop out of the corner of her eye. Her cheeks redden with slight embarassment.

She keeps walking.

The things Arisa does for friends. Now that she knows that Raj is... protentially with the Potential since he can sense that time is repeating (or so Minako has implied?!), Arisa came to the dance more than once (which shouldn't be neccessary). She even *danced*. *well*. It was the only way to make sure Raj was protected!

This cannot continue. Thus, Arisa talked to Minako, and, well, they're here. Arisa has her naginata fully assembled and at the ready, as well as her ever-present duffel bag of goodies. "Never thought this place would cause such a huge mess..." she murmurs idly to no one in particular. "If someone or something is behind all this, I will be more than glad to voice my complaints." If not? Well. It'll be a lesson of how the supernatural can from cohesively without the hand of someone guiding it. Order out of chaos, if you will. Yoh Yamagatani says, "Hey alls! Can i get a port to there to watch? :>"

It sure it handy to have someone who's connected to all three major organizations who've bothered to put a stake into this venture tonight, huh? (Well, all three major organizations that Adachi cares about. Technically he cares about Strega, granted, but not in a... positive fashion. Although the other three aren't--and anyway this is splitting hairs.) Adachi looks over at Thora, rubbing the back of his head, before he laughs nervously at Shirou's remark.

"Yeah, probably, right? Still... We gotta do what we gotta do." The detective looks around then, specifically for Tohya and various members of SEES. He has come as a SEES ally tonight, to help clean up this mess that's gone badly awry. Sure, the repeating Mondays were fun at first, but now he's starting to get bored with it. At least the pre-warning meant that he was able to actually treat today with some modicum of seriousness--though honestly, Adachi figured that'd happen.

"A-anyway," Adachi says, looking over at Yoshiro, Thora, Aigis, Minako (funny to meet her in *this* form), and various other SEES members, "let's all do our best! Okay? I'll do whatever I can to keep your backs safe, kids!"

SEES was here, so that meant that Minako was here, too. She had to do her part! And on that note, actually...

Earlier today, she'd been engaged in a truly epic dance party. When one of her partners had asked her a very pertinent question, she'd answered, and asked Arisa in turn if she'd mind coming along with her tonight. They could use all the help they could get!

She'd returned the spear she'd borrowed, after bugging Shinjiro to get her a spare naginata for tonight. Arisa used one too, they could be super naginata buddies! Currently dressed in her school uniform--she has spares--with her SEES band pinned to her sleeve, her gaze flickers across the Tartarus basement. She's excited, but it's a good kind! "We'll take care of it, okay, Arisa-chan?" Someone had heard her words, after all?

Tohya will not be abandoning hope. Not now, not tomorrow; she's been through the Desert of Doors, entered and explored her own door. This isn't a place of 'no hope''s just scary. That's all. She has not come this time in her position as KNOWS leader, not precisely; much like she appeared within the Desert, she has returned, once again by her own will...but this time with extra knowledge. And a few allies.

She heard Thora's call, and came along with the group. The Daybreak leader is here with the SEES contingent, dressed for mobility. Her sleeves are loose, her usual heeled boots replaced by something a little more sensible, and the only weapon she carries is a small, well-crafted dagger sitting on her belt. Just now, she's standing near Arisa, a familiar face and someone she wants to look out for. "...You may get your chance Shiratori-san. But I find that anything that gives people power like this is going to cause a mess." ...She also took a bit of medicine before arriving. She is hopefully mostly over her cold by now. Hopefully.

Either way, she gives Thora a nod as she reaches sight of her and lets her eyes slide over to Adachi. It's kind of strange to see him here, too.

Metis arrives at the Desert. She knows that today is the day. She does not know how she knows, only that the 'feeling' in her tells her it is such. She has her axe on her shoulder and her visor down, uncommunicative in the face of what might be her complete annihilation. Will she survive this evening? Will Aigis? Will anyone? She does not know, and cannot imagine the possible futures from this point.

Metis moves into the Desert. She passes Thora as she enters, but does not approach the pedestal. Wordlessly, she moves to a point overlooking the pedestal from the 'left', relative to the entrance, and sits down on the sand.

Metis puts her axe in her lap, turns the blade toward her, and begins to run a whetstone along the edge.

Monday, January 31, 2010


"Yes, Grandmother?"

"Can you pick up a package at the bookstore on your way home from school today?"

"Of course, Grandmother."

Monday, January 31, 2010


"Yes, Grandmother?"

"Can you pick up a package at the bookstore on your way home from school today?"

"...what, another one?"

Monday, January 31, 2010


" want me to pick up a package at the bookstore, right?"

"Yes, on your way home from school, dear. That would be wonderful."

Monday, January 31, 2010

Mizuno Anzai kneels on the floor of his bedroom, staring at his phone. He's been working up the courage to make this call for over a day now. The first time he volunteered to get involved in something like this, it nearly cost him his life. The second time, he ran like a coward and hid away from the Dark Hour and the people who run through it for months. But this...this is something he cannot ignore. Anzai sucks in a breath, nods and begins turning the dial. The line clicks over almost immediately. "Could I please speak to Ai---" he says, then blinks as he is interrupted by a short bark. A few moments later, he hears another voice. "Aigis-san," he says politely. "It's Mizuno. Is there..." Anzai coughs into a fist and takes another deep breath. "Is there something going on you all need help with?"

Monday, January 31, 2010

Mizuno Anzai walks through the Desert of Doors near the back of the pack, trying (and failing) not too look either terrified or like a FNG. At Aigis's suggestion, he came in his school uniform and carrying a weapon - in his case a round staff of white oak measuring slightly under six feet in length, which he is carrying in his right hand and using as a walking stick. A satchel containing various helpful items is slung down across from his left shoulder to right hip. Anzai licks his lips nervously and hazards a soft smile after Adachi speaks - things will be all right if there's a cop here, after all.

Walking in with the others from Inaba, admittedly a bit bewildered though trying his best to hide it, Fumiya Watanabe keeps up a casual stride. He knows what he's doing and what the score is, just watch how casual that stride is!

Ok, truthfully, this whole Desert of Doors and key hunt has mostly passed him by. This was largely due to recovering from a foot injury, though it didn't help that by the time he did recover he felt a little in over his head with all the info he fell behind on. But that's not stopping him from coming along tonight since it sounded particularly important.

He tries to hide his disappointment with himself in missing all the big stuff lately, he's here to do a job. And to class up the joint. Plus he heard something about Aigis' probably hot robot sister. Not that he has anything in mind.

Not three seconds into the desert he already conspicuously dusts off his neon pink jacket. "Come on Shibrou, this'll be radical! Right?" He jabs his fellow Yasogami High student with his elbow, though it's obvious he's kidding around. Still, Fumiya'll try to look on the bright side of things, if only because it'll get on Shirou's nerves.

Shiori had tagged along with the rest of SEES, although she had been waiting in front of the Gekkoukan school building before midnight, mainly because she did not have much else better to do. One week of repeating days was not exactly conducive to her emotional well-being, and if there was any chance of being able to fix time, she was definitely going to be all over that.

Her preparations were, as usual, not exactly high end. A first-aid kit in her backpack, and whatever mysterious objects had been put into her Evoker pouch to replace what she did not need anymore, just to make up the reassuring weight.

Currently she was sticking close to Hitoshi, glancing at him apologetically for almost the entire trip down to the Abyss of Time. This was, admittedly, only done with a fair amount of distraction: her real attention was on trying to figure out just what was around the next corner, reaching out with her spotter senses.

A pedestal with keyholes was not entirely expected, but it seemed to fit with the whole suspiciously convenient hints that was the theme of Tartarus. Shiori wondered vaguely whether anything untoward would happen if not all the Key-bearers showed up.


Minato Arisato encounters Takahisa Kandori. They have a rational, civilized discussion, full of philosophical quandries, rife with threats, and constructed of truths and very few lies. It's enlightening.

And then they throw down, because that's just the way of things.


Minato returns to the hideout of the Midnight Crew, absolutely mangled. His eyes are sunken; one is black. He looks like he can barely move his jaw, and his arm hangs all funny. He drags himself over the threshold, his good hand clutching something tightly. Someone asks what happened. He just mutters, "Kandori."

And then he collapses into blissful darkness.


Minato leads the Midnight Crew into the Desert of Doors, dressed in the apparent uniform of the small group, a well-tailored but kind of rumpled black suit with a matching hat in a very classic mafioso fashion. It offsets his injured appearance. The edges of bandages are visible around one wrist, disappearing into his sleeve, with another barely visible across his forehead. He looks battered and bruised, but he's still standing.

He looks upon the pedestal, staring at the six slots with a frown on his face. Every former key-bearer in the room senses the keys--all of the keys. Minato's hand shifts in one of his pockets.

The pocket clinks, just a little.

One of the people arriving probably counts as 'unexpected'.

Kaede Ikeda - not the bestial, wild Murava, but the chunky teen with the facial birthmark and no real combat skills - came with Minato and his gang. She is in her Gekkoukan uniform, and has a backpack. In lieu of being able to fight, she brought a first aid kit and assorted other sundries that might come in handy, if she can dig them out at the right time and avoid losing control of herself. She tenses when she sees some of the other people in the area. Chisaki, for instance, who might still have something out for her.

Oh, and she has a fedora. There seems to be no reason for it aside from a vain attempt to match Minato. Kaede keeps adjusting it, as if not sure she likes how it sits.

20 minute pose rounds?! Is Philemon mad?! INSANE? Nevertheless, Aigis can handle this terrible speeding up of time. Clearly, one might think, this is an effect of the Desert of Doors tearing time itself apart! But Aigis is a machine, capable of processing acts faster than mere flesh and neural synapses.

"Chisaki-Chan." Aigis tells her friend, "How are you holding up?"

Adachi already met Metis and she smiles briefly at him. "Certainly. We are counting on you." she has absolute faith in Adachi's honesty and inherent goodness!

But Metis, typically, has the bulk of her attention. She seems robotense to her so she rests a hand on her shoulder as part of her attempts to leth er know that everybody will not die here today.

Hopefully she can believe that herself soon!

She seems surprised to see Anzai and she adds, "Anzai-San. Are you alright?"

Junpei was a little freaked at that. Coming back in HQ all banged up. But then again, that seems to be a constant almong the Midnight Crew to begin with. Minato done it for a very particular reason.

The Ex-SEES stands next to his good buddy, also in a well-tailored black suit, with designer's shades and a nice, fancy mafioso hat. He has a new bat over his shoulder, a pretty regular wooded one with nasty nails into it. He also looks up at the locks.


"Pretty good," Chisaki says. She looks at Aigis and nods, before she flashes her a grin. "It's too bad. Tomorrow, I was gonna make Beowulf dress up like Sailor Moon." She sighs. "Shoulda, woulda, coulda."

She waves innocently at Anzai, and then looks back. She sees Minato up ahead; she frowns slightly, and then she blinks at Kaede. She pauses -- something familiar, something that she cannot place. She tenses, a little.

Minagi walks on Minato's right...

She is in her midnight crew attire, weilding a giant TV Antenna. Why? Because she's the safe cracker.

"This is going to be a busy night." Minagi says, who has her own injuries healing...but mostly gone at this point. Most of note, a nasty looking scar on her neck made by what looks like a sword, and a slowly healing bruise on her head. She looks at Minato, and makes it clear she's going to back him up...

Also, she still wants an answer about how he just did what he did. Kandori was only a half explanation! There will be no cop out to her!

"I've come to hate mondays." she says, miserably.

Monday, January 31, 2010

The young priest covers his face with his hands, rubbing his eyes under his glasses as he tries to process what the voice on the other end of the phone is telling him. Altering time? They /may/ be able to stop it? The young man opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. What are you supposed to /say/ to something like that?

"Oh and Anzai-San," Aigis's voice echoes in the receiver. "Please do not feel pressured to come if you would feel uncomfortable doing so."

Monday, January 31, 2010

Anzai nods gruffly and clears his throat, trying to keep his voice low and even. "I'm fine," he says quietly. "Let's just do..." he waves helplessly. "...whatever it is."

"Ah, sure thing, Adachi-san!" Yoshiro replies with... well, it's not enthusiasm but it's enough of a strong tone to warrant that exclamation mark. He himself is afraid of what lies beyond, the hand on his Evoker shaking unsteadily. He has never had a good grip on it.

He also hasn't seen Anzai in a while, especially since he almost ran him over at the very beginning of the school year (and, all due likelihood, has probably come close to that many times since). He sticks somewhat close to Hitoshi if only to make sure that's one less place he needs to turn his head. Although it does make Yoshiro wonder if he himself has gotten out of the endless Mondays fairly light, the... humiliations and very condescending/threatening talking-tos aside. He never wants to discuss those again. Ever. He is so happy that they basically never happened, except they sort of did, and he'll remember it forever. Sigh.

"So... so they're getting it ready?" Yoshiro asks of nobody in particular, as if on the verge of saying his usual catchphrase (+finger him if you must know).

"Everybody hates Mondays," Kaede grumbles, as if she did not expect to be pulled into Temporal Hell in the next two minutes.

She pretends not to see Chisaki looking at her. She has practice.

A nod is given to Adachi quietly. Hitoshi had never met the man before... and the BANDAGED YOUTH isn't going to really comment on the new adult much, either. The others seem to know him. Meanwhile, as others begin to show up, Hitoshi begins to look around slowly. He spots Anzai among their group... and tilts his head.

Hadn't he seen him at the shrine? Hm. Oh well. He smiles a small, encouraging smile, and gives him a thumbs up. He also looks to Chisaki, returning her nod. "We've got this,"he comments toward her with a bit of a grin, before taking a breath and looking around again....

The Midnight Crew. And some of his old friends. He says nothing, shuddering a little to himself. He then looks toward Yoshiro... and shrugs.

"Hell if I know, Yoshino-san."

It's impossible for Minako to not notice the arrival of one person in particular. Concern flickers for a moment in her gaze as she stares over at him, taking stock of his apparent injuries, and seconds tick down before she calls out, just a note of that worry finding its way into her voice, "Big brother--!"

Koromaru, perhaps in cue, ambles up to sit next to her. Unconsciously, she reaches to pat him on the head.

Thora knew she could at least count on Shirou for being here. If the whole 'gather keys in this spot' didn't work out, she'd resolved to take him up to Tartarus so he could experience that for the first time. Heck, if more KDA folks came, she could have made it a little party!

However, much to her surprise, SEES does show. Not only that, /Adachi/ arrives with them. Tohya arrives as well-but frankly, she'd expected her as well since this particular gathering was really her idea. Thora was just the messenger. "Well this is a surprise." she remarks aloud, turning to watch as Metis walks by then gets right to sharpening up her axe. It's a little refreshing to see her so prepared to deal with whatever trouble would drop tonight.

Then Minato arrives. Thora's eyes narrow as she watches him enter, then lifts a hand, pointing two fingers at her eyes, then one finger at him. "So these pedestal things are new. I figure we stuff the keys into the pedestals and see what happens."

Swiftly, she unfolds her arms, reaches down, and grabs her hammer, hauling it over a shoulder. "And no funny business or I'm gonna be a very unhappy camper."

They arrive, from all walks and places. From a multitude of lives and happenings. Dozens of strands of fate meet here, tonight, gathered here for a singular purpose.

What is the nature of the Keys?

What will happen when they are brought together?

What will happen when this funky pedastal thing is unlocked?

Did they remember to buy from the handy merchant?

Did they use the save- Oh wait, you don't have those here. OH WELL.

The pedestal looms mysteriously and perhaps a bit ominously before Minato, waiting for those jingling objects in his pockets. And not his spare change.

Shirou's standing by Thora, grunting as Fumiya elbows him a bit.

"Don't call me that."

He dusts off his elbow just a bit, nodding to Thora. "Let's just jam the keys in and get this overwith. ...Fifty yen says we unleash some eldritch evil though. 'cause... you know. Keys tend to keep things locked up or people locked /out/..."

Of course! Leave it all up to the police, kids--it'll be okay! Even if as far as you know this policeman doesn't have any psycho head powers to beat up Shadows or various other crazy things like that. Adachi at least has a smile for all of them, particularly Aigis who radiates trust and Anzai who seems heartened by his presence, which is pretty ironic, because Adachi remembers the last time they met in very, very different circumstances.

Well. This ought to be plenty interesting.

"Thanks! Just leave it to me!" he tells Aigis brightly, before turning a curious look Metis' way. He remembers her. He doesn't /quite/ remember that huge axe of hers, since he's never been around when she was busting stuff up, but he still attempts a friendly smile and a wave. "Nice seeing you again, Metis-san."

Huh. And there's Minato and crew. Adachi gives them a thoughtful look before glancing over Minako's way, then Thora's as she threatens him with no monkey business OR ELSE, then gives Minato a bit of a critical look. Then he gives the former field commander of SEES a slow nod. "...Guess it's up to you, huh, Arisato-kun," he muses. For some reason, he's rather looking forward to it.

Shinjiro is standing with the SEES contingent, in a vaguely supervisory manner. He's not watching his actual charges, though; he's staring hard at Minato's back, gaze palpable. He's still obviously mistrustful, still not particularly happy about turning over the keys to him-- but recognizing it was perhaps the only option, given the circumstances.

He's clearly waiting to see how Minato performs in this 'test.'

Uncharacteristically, Kaede raises her head and looks straight at someone.

It's Thora. Her lips curl back, just a fraction of an inch, as Kaede avoids telling her exactly what she thinks. But she doesn't say anything at all, lowering her head again and pushing up her glasses with a thumb. Minato has to do this part. Nobody gave her any keys.

She is fairly certain the key to her dorm room won't actually do anything here.

Yoshiro's grip on his purse (yes, he is armed with a purse) tenses to the extent his wimpy stringy arms and his thin, weak hand can ever squeeze anything while waiting for whatever it is that's going to happen. C'mon, I wanna wake up to my mom saying she got something for me, he thinks - this is probably the first time in a long time he's been hopeful about his mother accomplishing something for him.

"Hurry it up already!" Yoshiro can't help himself in saying it. It's panicked and a little disrespectful, but perhaps he simply wouldn't be Yoshiro without belting that out. He looks over to Hitoshi.

"Th-they're going to put them in, right?"

Shiori had never actually met Metis before, in any timeline, but the axe-sharpening sound of the whetstone set her teeth on edge. That, and the very obvious presence of the Keys, pinging like very loud beacons indeed in her mind.

For some reason, she was sticking /very/ close to Hitoshi. Almost clinging to him, in fact, out of sheer nervousness.

The presence of Minato's crew was actually something of a relief for Shiori. The last she knew, Minagi still had one of the Keys, and she was afraid that some bizarre reason would have them boycott this attempt to make things right. And however else their opinions might differ on who gets the Keys, endlessly repeating Monday for eternity was definitely not a good thing.

"I think everyone's just as eager to get time moving again, Kobayashi-san," she murmured to Thora. "But... Sekigawa-san's right. Something might be released when the Keys are put in." Not that Shiori could sense anything yet, but she couldn't sense anything beyond the doors either, so obviously the usual spotter rules were being suspended in the Abyss.

And quietly, Hitoshi just stands there and waits, nodding a little bit when Yoshiro speaks again. "I assume so, Yoshino-san. Just... wait, let's see."

He finally turns his sunglasses covered eyes toward the other first year boy, noticing the purse.

"What is that?" he asks, rather deadpan.

Chisaki looks at Shinjiro. She nods her head, and then keeps walking. Don't let Adachi get to you, she thinks; it would be bad if he pointed out that she was drunk and fell into a fountain. She actually wants Shinjiro's respect. A hand reaches down, checking on the Evoker at her side.

This time, she thinks, will be different -- and not just because of a dog with them. This time, she can control Beowulf. Her eyes narrow.

She mutters to Shinjiro. "Aragaki," she says, quietly. "What'll happen, you think?"

"It's a purse." Yoshiro replies almost as deadpan, as though confused at the idea as to why the question has to be asked. "Why?"

It is indeed a purse with strawberry prints all over it.

"... -Why?- That's the most -odd- thing I've ever seen -anyone- carrying. And I've seen a Shadow with a riding crop, Yoshino-san. That's saying something."

Hitoshi glances toward Shiori, who's hovering nearby, relatively close. He says nothing, but instead, glances back toward Yoshino...

"It's a very nice purse," Shiori said helpfully. "It, uh, suits you, Yoshino-kun."

"Are you sure that would have been a good idea?" Aigis asks of Chisaki. "It might be remembered." She looks over to Minagi, Minato, and even Junpei and Kaede as they approach, having not really exected them until like 5 minutes ago when she read the latest updates from Mitsuru. She wonders if she would have made the same decision.

Her eyes settle on Minagi a bit longer. She doesn't have any keys on her right now since they were all handed to Minato.

"I am surprised." She tells them, lowering her head a little. She doesn't seem very happy. In fact, she doesn't seem angry either. She seems, somewhat, sad.

Anzai Mizuno plants his staff in the sand beneath his feet and begins unbuttoning his uniform jacket - even if it's not blazing hot out here, it feels like it /should/ be - and frowns as Hitoshi starts talking smack. "It's a satch--" he says half a second after Yoshino, and breaks off immediately. "Uh...oh," he says, clearing his throat again. "Thought you meant...sorry."

He tries to subtly turn the right side of his body away from the group as he pretends to study one of the doors.

Metis does not have a f3d0r4 but may equip one later if it has sufficient stat bonuses. She runs her whetstone over the blade of her axe, continuing to wait for what she feels is an inevitability. She glances up at Aigis, nodding once and smiling just a little.

"Officer," she says to Adachi, focusing again on her axe. "Be cautious. There is imminent danger."

"Er... thanks... I guess." Why is he carrying a purse? Yoshiro does not seem apt to really answer that question. Maybe it just had a really high attack stat and he didn't bother to see how crazy low the accuracy rating on it is. His posture lowers a little sheepishly. He seems to be purposely not making much eye contact with Shiori.

"Ah... Tamiguchi-san, what's with the head wrap?" Yoshiro asks.

Shinjiro doesn't take his gaze from Minato. It's obvious he heard the question of the underclassman at his side, however, especially as he's prompt in answering Chisaki quietly. "I'll tell you what I WANT to happen. This shit to resolve itself. Other than that... can't know." He actually glances at her then, something that might pass for concern showing very briefly in his eyes. "Take it easy with him. It helps," he adds. He obviously means Beowulf.

"If we unleash something, then we'll have to put it down, won't we?" That's Tohya's response to Shirou's worry, as her eyes slide immediately towards a boy she has met only once; Minato Arisato, the current holder of the keys. ...All of them. She trusts Shinjiro and Mitsuru; she knows just enough to be pleased rather than concerned at his presence. The plan worked; /someone/ people can at least maybe agree on has he keys.

So, she approaches the pedestal with him, planning, just as Thora mentioned, to watch for any funny business, especially out of the 'Midnight Crew' as a whole. This is important, after all; this is time. This is a power tha shouldn't be tampered with lightly...a fact that she likes to think has been quite adequately demonstrated.

Now, if she can get out of this without being shot by a robot tha'll be bonus points.

She's ready, anyway, held here more by stubbornness than physical ability to endure all of this. Especially because Thora did just as Tohya hoped she would; she gathered people together. For that, the hammer-wielding girl gets a grim smile ou of the tall (but not quite as tall today) senior. Her arms are crossed, her hands on the dagger's hilt; she's not planning to draw it, but it's something of a point of security. After all, last time she was out on a key errand, she was jumped.

Fumiya responds to Shirou's irritation with his usual grin and a shrug. Stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jacket, he follows along with the KDA group, letting them lead the way. Best he just hangs back until something happens that he actually understands.

Though it won't stop him from commenting. But for now he fortunately keeps his yap shut.

Takahisa Kandori walks in shortly after Minato Arisato. He REALLY doesn't say much, going to stand near Tohya and Thora. He gives Kobayashi a nod of the "we will speak later" variety. Adachi gers a wave of acknowledgement - and then he turns to lock eyes with Minato Arisato. He calls across the room: "Now, don't disappoint me, boy."

He has no visible injuries. He is carrying a sword that appears to STILL carry bloodstains.

Investments should be watched carefully.

After Kenji and his oar, Shiori had more or less been inured to unusual choices of weaponry.

She winced as Yoshiro asked Hitoshi about the bandages. "Um," she said weakly, but let Hitoshi actually do the answering. She didn't seem to notice Yoshiro avoiding eye contact with her, at least just yet.

"Oh, ohoho. Very classy, Yoshino-san. Grade-A." Hitoshi actually smirks a little bit at the pun on his name... but then, when he's asked about the headwrap and his bandaging, Hitoshi furrows his eyebrows a little bit, causing his sunglasses to slip enough to allow a peek at a blooming set of bruised eyes under them. However, he says nothing else about it, pushing the glasses back up quietly and coughing.

"No offense meant, Yoshino-san. It's just... a purse. It's surprising."

He thumbs up then, appropriately. He then goes back to listening, watching... when Shinjiro speaks up. He nods a little bit.

"Here, here to that, Aragaki-senpai," he calls lightly.

Minagi looks back towards Shinjiro, leveling a glare at him, before turning her gaze towards Aigis and shrugs.

"I didn't give Minato my key, actually, though I would have. I got...suckered by Kandori." Minagi says. Perhaps a bit too angrily, but that thought immediately intensifies as Kandori himself walks in. Minagi's weapon is immediately pointed towards him.

"What do you want?!" Minagi barks, it is probably only a calm hand from Minato that will keep her from jumping at him right then and there.

Shirou /death glares/ Kandori. Full Power. No Filler. He just tries to bore a hole into Kandori's skull with the sheer intensity of his desire to end his life.

Hands grip tightly on his spear, but for /now/, with the fate of time on their shoulders... he relents, but says nothing to the man.

Adachi glances over at Shinjiro there. Since Chisaki's right next to him, all Adachi does is give her a big, friiiiiendly smile, but it fades soon once he focuses on the third-year. "...Aragaki," he says quietly, slipping his hands into his pockets. "It's been a while." He quirks a smile his way. "Assuming we both survive, we've got a lot of catching up to do."

Then Metis actually gives him the time of day, which Adachi is honestly kind of surprised by! "O-oh, sure thing! Don't worry, I've gotten caught up in this kind of thing before," he tells her quickly, pulling his gun. It's actually /not/ the police sidearm standard--it's something with a bit more oomph to it. "I won't get in the way!"

For now, though, Adachi takes several steps out of the way, getting himself over to Shinjiro and staying well out of the way of the pedestals. This is in time for Kandori to arrive. Adachi sees that wave of acknowledgement, and he rubs the back of his head and waves back, a touch sheepishly.

Something very like a growl emits from Shinjiro's vicinity as Kandori implies he has some kind of arrangement with Arisato. God help you if you fuck around and screw shit up even more, Arisato.

"Sure," Chisaki admits. "But I think not worrying about it too much is a good idea..."

She smiles slightly when she talks to Aigis -- it fades as she addresses Shinjiro. She nods, looking dead serious. One hand rests on the handle of her baseball bat, and her eyes look back at Minato. She waits; she tries to be patient, but she isn't. "Yeah," she says. "I'll try to. Of course, if something comes out of that... thing, and we gotta start fighting, it'll be rough."

Kandori is here, Junpei note, eyeing the devil of a man itself with some warringly eye. He still remember that encounter with him extremly well, and it wasn't /pleasent/ at all.

Metis has learned a teensy bit more politeness from Aigis. Perhaps Aigis is rubbing off on her. Or she is adapting her camouflage to new data. Either/or, at least she is a little more pleasant to work with. She has no particular affective reaction to Mr. Kandori, though she does glance at him as he enters.

Looking at both Minako and Tohya, Arisa nods, a grim expression on her face. "I'm also here to make sure that time is being returned to normal. Even if it makes me look horrible for it. I can't stand by my actions unless I stand by my morals. Throughout this I've noticed even my memories changing- I don't like the outcome something that powerful and wide-reaching happening left to what makes me feel good."

She's silent as Kandori enters, her mouth a forced line as she follows his line of sight to Minato. ".... What's he planning..." she wonders aloud, but quietly- probably only overheard by the two next to her. Her hand grips the naginata a bit tighter.

"We're gonna survive, Adachi," Shinjiro says, a little crossly, though the irritation is obviously not Adachi's fault. "Don't be stupid." Behold, how Shinjiro greets his friends!!

Kandori's arrival gets Tohya's attention, alright; as he walks up, she glances back towards him, not sure whether she ought to really be surprised. ...Especially with what he says to Minato. She can at least see the bloodstains on his sword. She is not at all concerned by his walking up near her, though, instead nodding to him. "Good to see you, Kandori-san." ...Perhaps this may be a strain to the SEES contingent, to see her interacting well with him. To Arisa, though, she says, "...Good, Shiratori-san. Stick with that idea, and you'll do just fine." Definite approval.

She smiles at the question, and as Kandori approaches. "We'll see."

Yoshiro just responds to the bruising with a slow nod, and rolls his right shoulder a little. Maybe he's carrying something heavy in the purse? Something like an actual weapon? (Perish the thought.)

"I guess... it is a surprise, isn't it?" Yoshiro thinks. Then again, the more he thinks about it, he could probably pull this off with a straight face after all.

Not that he can really keep a straight face with the tension as it is.

That's... "...Kandori-san?" Minako's voice is low, perhaps only audible to Arisa and anyone close to her. She's never actually met the man, and outside of other people talking about him... But she doesn't act particularly nervous or hostile, her body language betraying instead a mild curiosity, tempered with a youch of wariness.

At her feet, Koromaru curls his lip, emitting a low growl.

Well that's a surprise too. Then again, Thora did know the risk she'd run if she sent out an e-mail call to action on the /regular/ KNOWS distro that Kandori would see it. Nevertheless, Kandori gets a return 'yeah we do need to talk later' look. Theoretically, she could jump him right now but...


Idilly, she tugs Shirou a little closer to her as she watches his reactioni to Kandori's presence. "Kidzuki's right, Shirou. If we unleash an eldrich horror, then we fight an eldrich horror. Whatever we need to do to put an end to this shit." In spite of her calmness, her resonance is bristling with aggression-which is really nothing out of the ordinary for Thora's persona.

Taking note of Kaede's look, Thora returns a brazen one of her own, one eyebrow raised. "What?"

Kandori's presence was noted with a passing glance and a subsequent double-take. Ooookay, so he had apparently come to some sort of arrangement with Minato. Shiori could kind of see that. The Keys had been such important prizes that all sorts of alliances were made and broken, sometimes drastically.

Which didn't really matter all that much to Shiori. To her, they might as well have been fighting over chocolate-covered strawberries or something. What was important was that people had gotten /hurt/ over these... trinkets. And time had broken, and Shiori had to go through the week of repeating days feeling like she was trapped inside a glass box made of cracks.

Mondays forever probably counted as a large enough common enemy for everyone to unite against, at least for the moment. After that, though...

Besides, Kandori himself had been reassigned in Shiori's mind to some sort of incredibly creepy old man, with plans within plans /far/ above what would probably be her hypothetical pay scale. Let someone else try to unravel his plots; Shiori just wanted to avoid dealing with the man as much as possible.

Deidra Doyle is keeping an eye on the non midnight crew, reaklly she seems intent to protect Minato from anyone who gets the idea of making a key grab. She does keep an eye on Kandori but she's a bit less jumpy about him, he did give Minato the keys before right?

Belatedly, Arisa realizes how her suspuscion may look, then relaxes. "I mean no disrespect to you, of course, Tohya-san. If Kandori's goals are the same in this situation, it doesn't matter." Looking over at Minako, Arisa nods, lightly touching her fingers to her shoulder. "Don't give him any more power over you than you need to. You need a clear mind to deal with everything else."

Initially, Hitoshi had not actually -noticed- Kandori. But then, when attention steadily draws itself to him, Hitoshi takes note of him... and frowns just slightly. He opens his mouth slowly, saying nothing at first... but then, he glances toward Shiori for a moment, as if remembering something. He gapes for just a second... but then shakes his head, remaining muted as he turns back to the pedistal to watch things unfold.

The silence is broken. One would notice the bandaging sort of muffles his impassively low voice. "This probably won't go as smoothly as we thought," he quietly says. "I've suddenly got one of those bad feelings.

"All up to me," Minato mutters. It is, isn't it? He has these keys, and that is the lock. What will he unlock, though? What's behind the doors this time? He glances between the Midnight Crew, and then back at Kandori. He just keeps frowning, staring at him for just a moment.

Minato steps up to the pedestal. He looks down at it, resting his free hand on it's side. It feels... normal. Safe. And yet, the sense of enormity to this whole thing is getting to him. He feels all of their eyes on him. Shinjiro's gaze practically burrows into his back. God had better help him, because nobody else will.

What decision will he make? The one they want from him? He has so many choices, so many things he could do. The possibilities are nearly endless. He has, with these keys, control over time itself. What could he do with that?

Minato draws out the keys, one by one, fitting them into their slots with care. The changes he could make come back to him in force. He could make it so they never betrayed the trust of SEES. He could save Kazuo and his family. He could find Kaede before she was possessed and stop it. He could stop the Desert of Doors from ever opening--but, no, then he couldn't do this, and it would make a bigger mess of things.

What else? Two, three, four keys. He gets the next, a card rather than the traditional sort. He could save Hoshimoto's brother. He could keep Fujimori from becoming one of Strega's leaders and preserve who knows how many lives. No, that wouldn't be enough; someone else would step up.

The card goes in. The last key is drawn out, touched with rust and wear. A house key, the kind you see all over the country. Nothing out of the ordinary. He turns it over in his hand. The Dark Hour. He could figure out when it happened, go back, and stop it from occurring. Then none of this would have happened. Would that work? Could he do it? Would it hold off the Fall? Would it--

Minato stops, hand hovering over the pedestal. He looks over his shoulder at his sister, eyes resting on her for a moment. He looks back ahead, at the task at hand. His heart races. His hands begin to sweat.

They could have a family again.

Minato presses the last key into it's slot.

"Nice to see you too, Aragaki," Adachi tells Shinjiro with dry humor, before going back to watching the drama unfold. Minato's inserting the keys now...

"I remember you, that's all," Kaede says, to Thora. She remembers egging her house, mostly. She still doesn't feel guilty for it. That, and it's rare for her to see anyone who looks as ... off ... as she herself does, from what the world considers beautiful or worth making popular.

She takes half a step to the side, getting out of Minato's way and, possibly accidentally, into Minagi's. She keeps her mouth shut, though, not trusting it - and watches Minato.

Kandori stands there, opens his pocket, and removes a small brown bag.

He reaches one hand inside, removes a handful of sunflower seeds, and eats it.

The seed handful, not the hand.

He stays back near Kidzuki and Kobayashi, not approaching the pedestal. But he does move around a bit to place himself behind Minato's shoulder blades. He says nothing more, chewing and occasionally spitting a removed seed into the Cosmic Sand Of Infinite Oneness or whatever metaphor all this sand is meant to serve.

"There's no shame in faltering.", he notes, keeping with his policy to tempt against interests, but otherwise watching Minato closely with one hand on his sword and the obvious intent to disembowel if things start to go wrong.

"Things /never/ go as smoothly as we think, Hitoshi-san," Shiori said with a short hysterical giggle. "And the whole of Tartarus has been giving me a bad feeling ever since, well, I moved into Port Island." She looked around at the crowd. "I know what you mean, though. This many Persona-users in one place... tends not to end well-"

She clammed up, as she noticed Minato pushing in the last of the Keys. This time she /did/ cling to Hitoshi's arm, trusting in his support, whatever happened.

====================== MONAD ======================

The keys are inserted. Fate is sealed. The pedestal retracts into the sands, the Keys vanishing. For a moment, there is a sense of anticlimax, perhaps even disappointment.

Suddenly, the great door at the top of the spiraling staircase closes with a loud CLANG and locks... And the staircase itself begins corcscrewing downwards, pulling down into the seemingly infinite sands of the Desert. There is no escape for those within, as they are inexorably drawn downwards, as if a plug has been removed from the center of an hourglass. One by one, each of those present are drawn down into the sands...

And appears on a large platform, looking out into an infinite starry void, all traces of sand and grit gone. Gleaming traceries of energy arc through the distance, alien and beautiful. The platform itself bears a butterfly marking on it, and hovering crystal walkways arch through the area. There are no signs of Shadows, but something seems... strange. There is a sense to the place that is timeless, incorruptable, and perhaps even in some way, holy... as if this is a place humans should not be walking.

Aigis does not have the prereq of humanity to mock Kandori's actions but she can't help but feel a little dissapointed. She considers briefly if she should give Kandori the satisfaction of responding to his belittlement of Minato, or defend him, or something like that--but she thinks she can have SOME tiny revenge against Minato for making her feel--she is not sure what the word is--and still be a proper bodyguard. So, she does not immediately jump to his defense saying things like 'he doesn't have to listen to you' or 'stop jacking of to yourself'.

Instead, she says, "Minagi-San. I have been wondering. Why did you seek to protect the past before, at the threat of violence, and do not now? What changed your mind?"

She mightn ot get the opportunity to get an answer when suddenly the staircase starts going downward. She is alarmed, and her grip on Metis tightens just a little, as if she is afraid she might lose her to the sands (of time) again.

"--Do you...know what this is?" She asks of Metis.

As the last key is inserted into it's slot, Hitoshi's hand goes to his Evoker, almost instinctively. He watches, eyes narrowing.

"I think we'd better be ready," he says slightly, mostly addressing those immediately near him... that being Yoshiro and Shiori. Then, it seems as if the sands of time are literally swallowing them up, and engulfing them.

Initially, Hitoshi growls, and begins to struggle. "I -ain't- chokin' to death on sand!"

Of course, though, it takes no time at all for the things to come back to 'normal.' Or at least, 'relatively normal' should be the term as they appear on the platform. Eyes go to Aigis when she speaks to Metis, ears tuning in...

"Please don't talk about things going wrong right now," pleads Yoshiro as he puts his Evoker to his head in anticipation. It won't do much good given how he simply can't keep a strong enough grip on his Evoker to ensure it will be shooting in the right place--

Not helped by the fact his footing is now also just as loose, descending along the staircase with his heart racing. A steady rhythm, at least, in comparison to the one time itself has not been following. Not that you can call any of this steady!

A short yelp later, Yoshiro's on his bum in a humiliating display (how many of them has he had all these past Mondays?), staring out into the void. Are they dead?! With all those lights that are kind of hard (but beautiful) to see, and...

"Wh-where are we?!" Yoshiro asks the obvious as he scrambles back up to his feet.

"...yeah, anyone else get the sense we shouldn't be here?" Shirou says quietly, mostly to Fumiya and Thora, his spear out and at the ready. Something chilling is in the air, his resonance rippling as he glances around, looking around at the strange, alien sky.

"Come on brain, think... I get the symbolism of the sands and desert now, but this is... I don't have the right /words/ to put it into context..."

Kandori takes a deep breath before going under the sand, which proves to be unnecessary. Upon emerging on the platform, he spits out a single seed in surprise.


He swallows, and puts the bag away.

Then he waits, laying a steadying hand on Tohya's shoulder and leaning in close enough to quietly confide a message.

Junpei watches Minato turn on the keys. He can feel the tension going on, the power of choice is a terrible burden, he knows that much. He watches his friend insert the keys, observing the last. What is he wondering about? Where are they at?

Iori stumbles a littl as they are transported somewhere else, somewhere far more... arid? He don't know. Things feels different in here, as if... "... Okay, that's new." He mutters, looking at Minato, tapping his shoulder once. Whatever you did, man, I belive in ya.

Like a hawk, she watches Minato act, ready to spring into action at the slightest sign of betrayal. Thankfully, she doesn't need to. "Well that was..." Thora murmurs in the brief bout of silence after the last key was entered. "...ant-"

Before she can even finish, the door slam shut and the sand begins to drain beneath her feet, pulling her and everyone else down. Immediately, Thora starts struggling, clawing and climbing through the sand before eventually grabbing onto Shirou and Fumiya before everyone is dragged under. Something was happening but Thora did not have any interest in becoming some kind of sacrifice for the ~greater good~ so time could resume.

It's just as jarring to suddenly appear on that platform with no sand in sight. She still keeps her grip on Shirou and Fumiya-Fumiya's in particular might be a little painful because her hammer handle is squeezed into her hand as well. Speechlessly, she looks around.

Chisaki goes down. She yelps in surprise but quickly steadies herself; sand flies out from behind her in trails that fade to nothingness as her descent finishes, and she comes down. She lands on the platform in a three-point stance, her eyes narrowing. There is no sand around her, now, and she stands up, and shakes out her ponytail.

"Arisato!" she calls out, turning her head to look at Minato. "What did you want, when you put the keys in? Did you cause this--or would it have happened anyways?"

She looks like she might be freaked out -- and she halfway wants to. On the other hand, she thinks, maybe this is a good thing. It might also be a better thing.

Tohya recgonizes her key as it's held up. She also recognizes the hesitation, the lethal possibility of Kandori's presence, and then...the change. Nothing happens, and then /something/ happens, as she's drawn back down towards the sand again--for what she hopes is the last time. There's time for a quick breath, as she then opens her eyes to see the void aroun them, the platform here...

This place is beautiful. Beautiful, and familiar, somehow, as the world itself opens up underneath her perception. Tohya's eyes grow distant for a time, as she lifts a han to reach out without thinking. "It's..." So /much/. She stops her hand, then, and smiles, looking about the void, a sense of peace descending over her despite the situation. All things...Maybe humans shouln't be here. But, she'll do her best to respect this place.

"Shh," she says as Yoshiro freaks ou, and then to Shirou, "Be respectful." But why does seeing a butterfly make her feel nostalgic...? There's little time to consider it. Kandori whispers to her and she makes a small gesture with her hand, a hesitation first and then a completion.

Metis is drawn down onto Final Destination. She does not resist, tucking her axe against her as she slides down into the sands. She has fallen through these sands before. There is a certain ... acceptance she has of them.

Metis pulls herself up on the platform, helping Aigis if needs be, and assesses the situation. She slides the handle of her axe through her hand, bringing it to proper striking distance. She does not see enemies. She sees a butterfly and ... vastness. A place of Order. She instinctively -- instinctively? She is a robot -- feels this place to be correct.

"Perhaps we will be exterminated now," she says, mostly to herself.

For once in her life, Minako has no words, watching mutely as her brother inserts each of the keys in turn. She doesn't even dare to breathe. Of course she trusts in him, she'll always have faith in him, but, the question remains: what will happen next?

And will it hurt him?

It's like sand in an hourglass, indeed. Or water in a tub, right after someone's pulled the plug. She starts as she begins to sink, and would have fallen over if she hadn't reflexively reached out and found purchase, steadying herself with a hand on Arisa's shoulder.

"Where are we?"

She glances around herself, taking a step forward and away from Arisa's side. "Wowww, it's pretty!" she says, actually smiling a little. It's eerie, too, but that's not exactly registering for Minako right this second.

Staying quiet and keeping still while all the important stuff went on was harder for Fumiya than you probably might thing. Nevertheless, not a peep comes out of him before the final key is put in. The odd tension in the room with the various parties is mostly lost on him due to being comically lazy with keeping up with recent news. About all he comprehends of it is the usual 'Kandori bad!', which is what he chalks everything else up to.

He's about to open his mouth and try to say something funny or goofy when nothing happens, but then... something happens. Once the door is locked, the stairs recede, and the sand begins to sink beneath them he says the one thing everyone is probably thinking (or some approximation):

"Oh... bogus!"

Luckily the potentially fatal thing proves to be entirely non-fatal, and he climbs out of the sandpile, brushing the sand out of his clothes and spitting it out of his mouth comically while taking a look around. Scratching his head, he ponders.

"So... um... can someone fill me in on what all /this/ is, or are all of you on the same blank page I am?"

Shiori clutched Hitoshi tightly, not letting go, as the plug was pulled from the bottom and the sand started flowing downwards. She shut her eyes, held her breath, and hoped that they would survive all of this-

A gasp, after an eternity. Shiori stared unseeing at the sky that was not, up above her, as she lay flat on her back on the platform; sometime in the siphoning of sand, she had apparently lost her grip. But she was still right beside Hitoshi and Yoshiro, as she struggled to her feet.

"We're everywhere," she said distantly, slowly turning to survey the scene around her. "This is... everyplace. Every /time/. This is... it's beautiful."

If we summon an eldritch horror...Anzai closes his eyes and pretends not to hear that. It doesn't so much work. The first-year shakes his head and stares down at his feet, trying to compose himself as Minato begins inserting the keys. After a moment, Anzai smiles softly and begins tracing an odd design in the sand, hearing an odd clank and watching the sand beneath him...drop away? He looks up, opening his mouth to shout a half-strangled warning that is lost as something begins pulling at his legs. Anzai sucks in a breath and holds it, trying to quell his racing heart as he's dragged down, down, down into...

...into what?

Anzai sucks in a breath as the vista shifts, his eyes wide and wild as he turns left and then right, looking for...what exactly? All around him people are asking the obvious questions and so instead he looks for familiar faces - the cop. The biker girl. The delivery boy. The robots. The young man's shoulders drop as he relaxes slightly - looks like all (or most?) of the people are still here. Wherever it is. Anzai breathes deeply once more and looks around, trying to get his bearings. His voice echoes out low and soft as he looks around, almost instinctively falling back on old habits.

"In prayer do I humbly approach the Kotoamatsukami," he whispers. "Sweep impurities from our beings and purify our spirits. Bestow protection and guidance on us all. Keep us from harming others. Grant us good health and spiritual renewal..."

Minagi looks at Aigis... However, she imposes herself between Kandori and Minato...glaring.

"Because...the past wasn't changed then...and when it was changed...then it was reality. Those people we made not exist...don't exist anymore. That is something we all have to carry the burden on I guess." Minagi says. "maybe I don't understand the feeling fully...I haven't...had time to." Minagi says, competely seriously. "I guess perserving what is there is most important to me.."

She shrugs, very unsure. Then reality shifts, Minagi looks around awed by the sight, but still wanting to protect her friend. "It feels like this is...someone's...home?" Minagi says, not sure why she gets that feeling.

The stairwell spirals downward into the sand. Nothing blows up. Adachi is vaguely disappointed until he's sucked downwards into the sand, at which point he takes a big breath and holds it until he's spat out the other side, clutching at his chest. "Th-that's not good for the heart," he stammers, looking around at the others as his grip tightens on his handgun. "W-wow, though... This place is... kinda beautiful." Unintentionally echoing Minako, the detective straightens, musing on that feeling that he shouldn't be there. He ignores it, taking a few steps forward towards that butterfly platform and crystal walkways. Metis' remark on them being exterminated earns her a nervous laugh. "R-really? You think so, Metis-san?"

Metis does not laugh. She is bad at jokes. "Affirmative."

Kaede Ikeda does poorly when the sand starts to pull her down. She will be ashamed later when she realized she screamed. Yelped, really.

She picks herself up from where she ended up - sitting on the platform. Kaede reshoulders her backpack as she looks around. She doesn't know where this is but it feels ... off, to her. Something isn't right. It makes her hair stand on end, and this isn't even the shape she has most of her hair in.

"Minato," Kaede says, once she's sure her voice is more or less controlled again. "Did... /it/ tell you where this was?" Maybe. She can hope. "Can we get out?"

Deidra Doyle watches as the keys are inserted as fate is sealed but just what has been unlocked? She's pulld downwards with everyone else she's suprised really suprised but prehaps should just give in anf dollow. There's no shadows here, something strange, someplace? Mortals have no right to be. She looks around and just sticks with the Midnight crew for the moment. Kaede brings up a pretty good point, but nothing else can be done?

"No," is all Minato says to Kandori, once, firmly, just before he's drawn beneath the sands. The last thing he sees is a brief glimpse of black and white stripes before he goes under.

When Minato opens his eyes again, he's on the platform. He looks all around him, turning in a circle. He can see a great deal of his friends, former allies, and even some enemies here. He isn't surprised. He looks confused, and maybe a little disappointed, and turns to Chisaki. She's freaking out. He can't really help that.

"I wanted..." He just shakes his head. It wasn't this. He doesn't even know where 'this' is. He looks to the rest of the Midnight Crew and murmurs, "I don't know," at Kaede, "but get ready."


Hitoshi suddenly begins to look rather calm in his stance and his feelings. It's -huge,- he can tell that. He looks around again slowly... barely able to see for all of the light... but still. He knew someone - Shiori, judging from her voice - was -right there- with him. He also could hear Yoshiro and his other SEES team mates. And others. He just... reaches out an grasps at the air blindly for a moment.

"This... it's trippy," he whispers quietly, hand waving aimlessly for a moment as he considers it. He says nothing else for now, but just marvels.

"... This would make a perfect plot twist in one of my stories," he whispers to himself, almost perhaps in the middle of plotting out a new story to write...

Yoshiro recoils at the command to 'shh,' why the hell could anyone be all 'shh' after a trip like that?! Even if it is... a lot to look at. He more or less spends most of the rest of the conversing between people looking around and, perhaps, failing to really appreciate the true beauty and eeriness of the whole situation as opposed to looking for a way out, which he'd like to do riiiiight about now.

"I don't think anyone would believe it if it happened in a story, Hitoshi-san," Shiori murmured, still in that distant voice. She continued twirling around, staring up and around and everywhere except where she was going. If someone didn't grab her arm or something, she might be on her way to falling off the platform by sheer accident.

".... Keep going," Arisa comments carefully, not knowing Minato's thoughts, but inferring from his hesitant actions an emotion of doubt. "You can't take responsibility for everyone's pasts. Only the present." Was it loud enough? Arisa doesn't know.

Either way, things start to get dicey. When the floor dissolves like sand downwards, the valkyrie attempts to grab out towards Tohya as Minako holds onto her, but misses. Instead, she she hooks onto Minako, gritting her teeth. "Damn it, I don't want to drown like th-" She's cut off as she sinks further, forced to take a huge gulp of air.

Deposited at the strange platform, Arisa is ataken back, then, barely, maintains the presence of mind to locate Tohya and the wandering Minako. Then looking to Minato, Arisa frowns, though... not in an accusing manner. "What happened has happened. The present is now, and in this present, all our actions count."

The platform appears safe for the moment. No Shadows leap to devour the intruders. Nothing seems to attack them.

There are walkways stretching from the platform in many directions, criscrossing and branching through the void. What direction would you want to go? There is a light in the distance, however, a pulsing beat that throbs to those sensitive to Resonance. Is that the direction one would go?

Chisaki looks at Shinjiro and Aigis. She looks at Minako, too -- she may not know the girl, but hey, she seems nice. She frowns. "Should we check it out?" she says, motioning in the direction of the light. The Resonance is pounding, slightly, in her head. It makes he wonder; did Minato do the right thing? He had saved her life once, but then this...

Her lips tighten into a line. "'Cause I'm not sure. Could be a distraction."

...Great. Walkways.

Shirou looks to Thora and Fumiya and the others, and then ... tosses his spear into the air. Provided it doesn't come blade point down, he watches where it points.

To him, it seems to point towards a walkway that leads up and to the right. With a shrug, he grabs his spear. "I'm going this way. Thora, Fumiya, you coming?" He smiles a bit, even a bit sadly; he did /not/ like going in blind. But his mind made up, he moves decisively in that direction.

As Hitoshi begins to notice the walkways stretching in their different directions, Hitoshi quietly observes the light in the distance, staring at it. While he's not Resonance sensitive to a high degree, he can feel -something.- He closes his eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath and considering things. "Does this place want us to actually... go out and look in it's depths?"

It's a rather metaphysical musing there for a brief moment, but it causes Hitoshi to look toward Aigis, stepping away from Shiori and Yoshiro, and toward Aigis... "Aigis-senpai. What should we do?"

Shiori stopped spinning, reorienting to the light in the distance, which everyone else could probably see without needing a spotter to point it out.

"Something's there," she said redundantly. "I... don't know what it is. But it's..." She tried to find the words, and failed. "... interesting. Um. Do we want to check that interesting thing, or avoid it?" It sounded like a genuine question.

"Ah?! I see a light!" There's many lights, Yoshiro! He points his Evoker down towards the light in the distance, but that probably doesn't break it down very much for those here given there's a lot of glowy things in the sky.

He's not keeping his voice respectfully quiet.

Minagi immediately, "Check it out."

"Pretty, yeah, I know." Thora finally says aloud, shouldering her hammer after giving Fumiya a sympathetic glance. Shirou gets one too because Thora's grip is...pretty strong and pretty rough. Now that she's got her bearings again, she looks over to Kaede and tries to remember where she's seen her before. Didn't....she go into Tomomi's door with her?

"Yeah, let's go." Thora follows after Shirou. "There has to be a way outta here."

"I hope that is not the case." Aigis tells Metis. She cannot readily comfort Anzai because she could use some herself. The most comforting person to her right now may be Fumiya. He seems to be the same as when they last spoke--the same can be trusted.

She considers Minagi's answer. She supposes it's a fair enough answer, what she was risking? Well--perhaps they will find that out when they are all destroyed today.

She lets her hand drop, calming down vaguely. She is not intrinsically terrified of this place, though it was certainly startling.

Did Kaede end up Minato's friend when she wasn't looking? She smiles faintly. For some reason that too is soothing to the robonerves.

"I am uncertain." Aigis says.

And then she remembers something.

"Ah, no. I am not uncertain." She looks to Hitoshi. "We find the entity that caused this to happen and beat on it until the situation approves." She looks to Metis, "Is that acceptable?"

She made a promise to Sarah after all.

Fumiya has a bit of a belated reaction to a rather nasty bruise he recieved when Thora grabbed him with her hammer-hand. He pats the spot on his clothes, trying not to make it look like it smarts. Because it doesn't! He's a manly man's man, and part of him being squeezed between a she-behemoth's meaty hand and a large hammer handle is absolutely nothing to talk about.


Fumiya falls into pace behind Shirou, trying to look fascinated by what he sees and like he actually knows what he's looking at. "This sure is a place, huh?" He's not quite as good at faking it verbally.

When Shirou takes the lead, Fumiya shrugs and follows behind him. "Sure bro, I'll back ya up in style." Adjusting his glasses, Fumiya spins around and starts moonwalking along the path. This has a tactical use! He can move forward and still keep an eye on their rear! No surprise attacks for them!

"I like Aigis's plan!" Thora suddenly blurts out.

Kaede Ikeda cannot sense Resonance, not like this. If it was a Shadow she could smell it, think of it as prey. It isn't. All she can see is the light.

Kaede reaches into her backpack, at a weird angle, to feel around. It's there. She takes her hand out without actually pulling it out; she knows she can get to it in a hurry if she needs to.

"I'm going to walk," she says to Minato. "Do you want to pick which way to go?"

"Find bad thing, beat it up," Chisaki repeats. She looks at Aigis and grins. "Sounds like a plan to me!"

"... Heh. What a plan." Hitoshi begins to reach into his pouch. Out of it, his trusty inkpens come, and he nods a little bit.

"All right, then." He begins to twirl one of the pens around in his fingers idly, before nodding to the rest of the group. "I'm down. Shiori-san..." He glances toward her for a moment. "You gonna be okay?"

"... I think we'll have to spilt up to resolve this." She looks to Minako and Tohya. "Minako-san. Tohya-san. I request one of you have me come with you, or that we all go together. If this is anything like what happened before, we may see secrets about each other. You two are such people I don't mind seeing parts of my past, though I will understand if you two do not feel the same way."

She looks to Shiori and nods. "I sense it too. However, the right path may not always be the obvious path. In my opinion, we should spilt up equally to avoid the 'right' path being the one that has the least amount of people on it. We should also consider being with people we know well, in case this turns out to be like the doors. .... Which it may not be, but." She shrugs. "That is my theory."

Shiori Hibiki [KDA] has posed.

Shiori settled back down to the present. "I-I'm all right, Hitoshi-san." She spread her arms, indicating their surroundings. "It's just so /big/ and wide and vast and we can touch the /world/ from here and-" Blink. "We... we're not meant to be here. This isn't a place for us, for... for people. This is a... distant place. A place in the /other/. Um. I don't know how to describe it."

She shook herself. "But, um. I'll follow your lead, Hitoshi-san."

Because I trust you.

Gazing here and there, Minako's movement doesn't exactly suggest that she's heading anywhere in particular. Is she deciding to be a tourist /now/ of all times? Well, it is really pretty in here!

But her eyes taken on a certain sharpness of focus, as she looks ahead. "Hey--" She suddenly /points/, off into the distance. "There's a light!" She turns back, towards some of her fellow SEES members (and allies). Quiet a moment, she listens to Arisa, before nodding. "It'll be okay. I'm not afraid of you guys seeing my past. We can do it!" She pumps a fist in the air., to make her point. "Let's go!"

Koromaru doesn't even need any prompting. He's right on her tail as she starts off ahead.

Junpei eyes their surroundings, nodding. Yeah. They can't linger here forever, he thinks. He looks over at Kaede, bobbing his head again. "Right. Well, I guess we'll have all to go somewhere, wont we?" He declares, shurging his shoulders slightly.

The present is now. Good thought, Arisa. It might sound like a tautology, but that's fine; Yoshiro recoiling from her words is frankly outside of her notice; she doesn't make the most comforting of figures, necessarily, a distant young woman whose mind is on somehing...greater, just now. At least, as far as she's concerned. "Alright, Arisa-san. ...Come with me. And I'm not worried about people seeing something; I don't have something to hide, here."

The light ahead pulses in her mind; she starts to step toward it, regardless of whoever else might be approaching. The long-haired girl doesn't have to worry about falling off the platform, at least. ....Besides, it sounds like someone is offering prayers of purification, and peace. That feels right; Anzai is getting points. "The light's calling," she says softly, and pauses her steps to add, "No, people you know are people you can trust. I'm headed over here." Time to keep going. ...Maybe Kandori will join her. Maybe not. In any case, Shiori seems at least a litle stressed, so the older spotter says to her, speaking up some, "Don't worry, Hibiki-san. We /are/ here; just be careful if you're worried." ...And meanwhile, she has a confident Minako and an adorable dog at her side. Koromaru gets a look, but that is all. ...There is time for good dogs later.

Platforms! Walkways! This is really getting out of hand. That Resonance is something else, though. Maybe if they just pick a direction...

Minato looks towards the source of the resonant pulse. That way, maybe. But these walkways may not be what they seem. He turns back to the assembled mass of teenagers with attitude and theoretically more responsible adults. "Be careful," he says, speaking maybe a little too loudly to just be addressing the Midnight Crew.

Minato picks a walkway and starts, well, walking. No sense sticking around. He just follows his gut.

Deidra Doyle is very uneasy with the lack of shadows about, she looks about. To the mightnight crew as a whole. "We should keepo together." She nods to Minato once and follows right after him, onwards they go!

As you travel through this strange place, the pathways split and rejoin seemingly endlessly and without conscious design. Something about it tickles at the edge of awareness, but it is impossible to truly tell what it is. Along each pathway, different visions are reflected in the walkways and traced in the lights in the distance. Visions of hope and pain. Famous acts throught history. Dreams and fears. The Tianemen Square Massacre plays out in alien light, while terrifying black ships sail towards the ports of Tokyo elsewhere. There are speeches and wars, births and deaths, pivotal choices made throughout history, woven together in a great tapestry for those to see. The glory and sin of humanity is laid bare, as betrayal is shown besides trust, murder across from salvation. There may be a rare glimpse of a dinosaur backflipping through the air while flying on rocket wings.

Arisa did state something Shiori had considered, but she wasn't sure where else the split-up people might go. "Away from the light" was a little vague. Still, Shiori glanced towards Arisa, and shrugged helplessly.

Shiori took a deep breath, calming herself down. "Thank you, Kidzuki-san," she said gratefully. "I'll... um. I'll keep that in mind." Determined. "You're right. We're here. And we'll be careful."

"We'll be all right," Hitoshi finally remarks slightly, mostly to reassure himself... but Shiori gets it, as well. He then looks to the rest of the SEES group, again, taking a deep breath.

"Let's do this, then? Let's just... pick a way, and go. There's no sense in us standing here and being indecisive..."

At which point, Hitoshi begins to move toward the light. Or rather, onto one of the other pathways... From time to time, he pauses to stop and watch something with Einstein in it, or something involving foreign history. Seemingly enthralled at the idea, he makes -frequent- stops, of course...

Metis is not particularly sensitive, but nor is she blind to such things. She decides to follow along with Aigis-sempai, who is of course much more knowledgable about things than she is. Especially when Aigis has such good ideas!

Metis nods, bringing the axe up into both hands. She moves to a support position next to Aigis, intending to follow her somewhere.

Kandori chooses a different walkway from Minato, beckoning Tohya after him but not turning to check if she follows. Time to explore the wandering dark. He makes no hostile move, and he doesn't draw his blade. Hands in his pockets, the CEO begins exploring, gazing at various images as they roil from the darkness. Or from the light.

He pauses by the Massacre and looks at it, unable to suppress a slight mirthful laugh. There he goes. Spelunkin' in ur timestream.

For every pathway, for every split, for ever decision, Shirou walks on unflinchingly. Charon was there with him, a black robe that hangs in the air as he summons him forth...

"I am the Ferryman; I will guide myself through the river of time. I am the Ferryman; I will guide us through the river of time." Shirou repeats under his breath as he steps, trying to feel his way towards that pulsing /thing/ in the resonance.

"Gods, we're outside time... We shouldn't be here. We shouldn't be here at all..." He says, under his breath. No shadows; why would there be shadows in a place untouched by humanity? That made sense. "I swear if we get back home and there are SS officers everywhere I /will/ come back here and stab Hitler's brain..."

Minagi, looking towards Minato...

Finds that he already made a choice and is going!

"Heeeey!" she says, and runs after him, holding her weapon of choice over one shoulder. She is sure Aigis and her will talk...later...but not now. Now is too hard to think about anything that isn't about not screwing up time or whatever it is they could screw up here.

She is also glad Kandori is gone for the time being...

"Minako!" Aigis shouts. SHE, on the other hand, is terribly afraid of seeing Minako's past. She stares ahead, eyes wide, before walking after. Who knew the power of genki could be so deadly? She slows as history plays out, but presses on--this is no time to admire history! Er, well, maybe it SHOULD be but it isn't at the moment. She will probably try to keep Minako from getting herself killed.

Even more of a full time job than keeping Minato from dying. She's lucky that guy sleeps around all day, especially on sunday, and plays games on the internet--

Yoshiro is awe-struck at some of the things that flash by him as he follows along with the rest, staying somewhat close to Hitoshi on principle that he really shouldn't... get left behind. This doesn't always work.

The more frightening glimpses of time long gone see him putting an Evoker up against the side of his head for moments at a time.

He does not even think for a moment that some of this may be important to watch, perhaps for the sake of his terrible school grades. Something about a huge explosion makes his skin crawl. He should know why.

He may be wandering off in some weird directions for stretches at a time, rejoining at bizarre intervals and sometimes even coming close to walking into someone.

Even in a bizarre plane of existence, Yoshiro is kind of that sort of guy to walk into people unexpectedly.

EChoing Minato's thoughs, Junpei follows along, looking around with a growing feeling of unease. What are they looking at, here? The images they see... what madness is all this?

"Creepier than last time." Junpei comments.

Fumiya is the same as ever, at least as far as anyone is concerned. Perhaps the benefit of missing out on all the recent drama is that he didn't get involved in said drama. So yes Aigis, Fumiya is as radical, bodacious, and other positive 80s slang he ever was!

"...dude, was that dinosaur riding on rocket wings?" Fumiya abruptly asks, missing a lot of the truly significant historical bits of humanity's past just so he could see the most extreme thing it had to offer.

As Shirou starts quoting whatever it is he's quoting, Fumiya returns to gazing at the visions being presented to them, mostly out of the hopes of seeing the kickass dinosaur again. "Wasn't there some video game where you blew up Hitler's head? You could try that." He wonders aloud in response to Shirou's mutterings.

"This is what you are," Metis says, again mostly to herself. "This is what you have always been."

As they travel forward, Adachi watches the visions with mild fascination. You can't get *this* kind of entertainment on cable TV. His favorite one is that one he just barely saw of the backflipping dinosaur. That's just *awesome*. They seem to just keep reuniting with each other, though...

"Woah, hey, Yoshino-kun!" he says as he almost walks into the girly-boy. "Careful there, okay? You almost ran right into me! We don't know what's here, so keep your guard up, okay?"

As if a guy with no Persona should even talk!! He also grins over at Fumiya. "Hey, I saw that too! Wasn't that the coolest thing?"

To Thora, that pulsing thing smells unusual though there is the vague hint of sand, perhaps. With her particular flavor of resonance, tracking something that has it in a detectable way for her can be done! "This whole time thing shouldn't have happened." Thora remarks. "Kidzuki-san was right, people shouldn't have the power to fuck around with time."

Idily, she glances around as scenes from human history play around her, most of which goes unrecognized. She likes that dinosaur though, that was pretty cool. "That was totally a dinosaur, Fumiya." Unable to help herself, Thora snickers at Adachi's reaction.

Birth records, baptismal records, records of death~

Human history--no, the history of the world, the universe--is a long strange trip, isn't it?

Minako stops in her path, glancing back over her shoulder. Koromaru pulls up to sit next to her. "Aigis-chan?" A beat. "It'll be okay, Aigis-chan! Just hang in there! We can do this!" With an encouraging grin to go with her words, she picks up the pace once again.

Shiori remained close to Hitoshi and Yoshiro, following their lead (and whoever else might be with them), but with several worried glances at the others on different paths.

The paths we choose, sometimes converging, sometimes separate, but all of our own choices...

The images around them were... odd. Shiori recognized several scenes from history, while others were... unfamiliar. Did that really happen? Was it due to Shiori's limited knowledge of foreign history, or was it made-up? Or did it actually happen, in some other reality and timeline?

It was hard to focus on sensing ahead. There was just so much around them, so many things flooding into Shiori's mind, and it was all she could do to reach out to grab onto Hitoshi's sleeve, trusting in him to guide her.

He wouldn't let her fall.

"Uh, Arisato-san," Chisaki calls out after Minako. "Maybe we should be a little careful, one of those dinosaurs might be real. Or, uh--"

She pauses. "Is that a viking?"

Kaede Ikeda expected Minato to pick a direction and walk. Kaede has to hustle to keep up; she's not the world's fastest person. She tugs her hat down as she goes.

And she looks. There's a lot of things to see. Kaede has taken a lot of history; she recognizes /maybe/ half of them, either not placing the others or showing things she simply does not know of. Some of the speeches may even be from the future; how is she to tell?

Kaede reaches into her backpack and pulls out a Polaroid camera. No electronics: simple physics and chemicals. Ever since her digital camera shut down in the Dark Hour, she thought she'd go simple. Kaede attempts to take a picture of the timescape. It may be the only one to exist, in any time, ever.

"Wha?!" Yoshiro almost jumps right off the path upon the brief bump into Adachi. "Ah... y-you're right, Detective Adachi." He bows his head briefly in apology, though not without a hint of nervous twitches before he continues on his way.

He missed the backflipping dinosaur.

Perhaps she should follow Kandori; Tohya notices his call as he moves to explore the area, and nearly does. ...She decides against it after a moment, saying to him, "I'll keep track of where you are." It's not as if she can't do something as simple as that--she is following neither Kandori nor Minato, though it may be that she's on he same walkway as one of them. She, too, sees the scenes of history here. She knows some of what she sees...but her focus is the future, more than the past. She left behind being trapped in what's already hapened when she left her door. She believes that. And so, while she'll look...

The absolute destiny is /not/ apocaylpse. She's certain of it. A little amusement reaches her eyes at Minako's enthusiastic encouragement, though. She can hear, distantly, Thora finally agreeing with her. But there's energy. It feels strange. She's not quite sure /how/ she feels at this point. Her eyes drift, once again, to the CEO, to see how he's taking in the timestream.

Indeed, Hitoshi would guide Shiori along. As paths split and converge, Hitoshi looks for the rest of the SEES group, biting his bottom lip. He didn't expect to get separated so easily. Then again, he didn't expect Minako to make such a forward decision and go on ahead. Thus, his focus is on returning to them, and making sure he doesn't get hurt... nor Shiori.

That doesn't stop him from pausing to look at some of the things that go on in the timestream. For example, he stops to watch a speech being given by Sir Winston Churchill... then one by Kennedy, in front of the Berlin Wall...

"Ich bein Berliner!"

He smiles just a little bit at it, for some reason, before continuing on. Once he finally is able to catch a glimpse at Aigis and Metis, and Minako... and the rest... he begins to break for it, bringing Shiori along. Not quite dragging her, of course, but he does wave his hand and he calls out...

Anzai stops praying once the group hits the walkways, as the sights surrounding them are enough to take his breath away, enough for even his sheer terror to be replaced by a slightly more respectable awe. He follows behind the robots, his staff tapping a soft accompaniment to his footsteps. The dinosaur does not make it past his mind's internal censors, however, as...

"'s Toba-Fushimi!" he shouts suddenly, eyes wide as he points at a field of battle where men with guns and assorted irregulars are storming along a bridge, pursuing more traditionally geared. "The imperial forces...they're routing the shogunate. That must be Bungobashi bridge, and..." Anzai trails off and looks around, his brain catching up with him as a red flush blossoms on his cheeks. "I...I just wrote an essay about it," he mutters, then goes back to tap-tap-tapping after the others.

Minako stops again, at Chisaki's warning. And she turns, to gaze fully into the stream of time. "..." she breathes. "Oh wow! I've never seen a real live dinosaur before!" This is just so cool! At least, she exercizes some caution and doesn't reach out to try to touch, uh, history.

"The happy fun velociraptor is NOT your friend!" Chisaki groans.

Minato walks onward. He inevitably draws a few people into his wake. He just sort of accepts it at this point. If his team wants to come further, then they will. If anyone else looks to follow... well, maybe. He keeps an eye out for Aigis and Minako whenever their paths intersect. They can handle themselves; he doesn't want to draw them into this any more than he has.

He finds his eyes drawn to history playing itself out all around them. It's interesting, but he's seeing the big events of the world, and... well, he knows about some of them already. He looks for the little things, the things floating around here about all of them. Maybe he'll glean some insight into the nature of this place.

Whereever Tohya and Minako go (assuming they are on the same path), Arisa silently follows, declaring no more pearls of wisdom, just simple observations. ".... Pearl Harbor. ..... the Battle of Okehazama. The first performance of Beethoven's 5th... Magellean..." Then-

Stopping and starring at the backflipping dinosaur, Arisa frowns. "...... That did not happen. It is too silly."

Seemingly satisfied with this critique, Arisa continues onwards. "The signing of the Magna Carta..."

"It's all right, Yoshino-kun," Adachi tells Yoshiro generously. "You can't help it--I know that's just how you are." He gives a little laugh over Anzai's way after he starts geeking out about Toba-Fushimi. "...You know, I did an essay on that too when *I* was in high school," he remarks, turning black eyes to the history display in question, along with various other ones that give him flashbacks to his various history classes. "Man, this is making me all nostalgic, now..."

Time passes, and wonders and sights are there to behold. Children laughing, guns firing, music playing, air raid sirens blaring, tender moments, brutal conflicts... On and on and on it goes, some faces familiar, others completely unknown. The possible information here is incomprehensible. It seems random, but not, as if there was a pattern just out of reach. It boggles the mind. There is so much to see, one might believe they could stay there forever. However...

Eventually, however, all roads lead towards what appears to be the center of this strange place.

There, on a great platform, rests a large female clad half in black and half in white, swathed in ofuda and diaphinous robes, her face obscured by a wide crimson mask. Her dress leaves little to the imagination as she kneels, looking towards the direction that all must come.

~...thank you...~ a hushed, whispering female voice echoes all around the gathered humans, Persona-User or otherwise. Despite its quietude, somehow it manages to find its way too all ears, to tickle into the brain and make itself heard. ~...for gathering those keys for me. I had been sealed in this place ten years ago due to the efforts of that spiteful robot you call Metis, and I have yearned since to be free.~

Mist fills the air, rolling outwards to surround everyone. It's only knee-high at first, but as it begins to fill the room, it climbs ever higher. Just what is this...? ~Now, thanks to all of your quibbles of whether or not to fix time, the fissures in temporal reality have been given the chance to take root, allowing the being here to repeat the 31st day of January in the Anno Domini year of 2010 endlessly for the coming of Nyx. I have usurped that power, and now, time is mine to command as I will!~

The Priestess Arcana Shadow flings forth her black arm, and the mist consumes several individuals darkly. ~The future!~ She flings forth her white arm, and more mist wraps around several other individuals brightly. ~The past!~ She lifts both arms upwards, and those who remain... are at her mercy, as all of reality seems to break apart and begin flying through time and space. People's footings remain, but they may well get powerful cases of vertigo. ~Boast all you like that you shall overcome me with mere application of force--you shall find soon that your Neanderthalistic efforts are worthless. All of you shall be flung to the ends of time!!~

The Past
Now where has the Priestess just taken you all...?

"Yes, it was awesome, Fumiya." SHirou induldges his friend, but he takes a moment to rub the bridge of his nose just a bit with his hand. He tries to... Wait, what.

He spots a face just before he's sucked into whatever odd world we're in now, an Englishman kissing his Mother tenderly.


Look out Shirou and Fumiya, Thora's grabbin' your wrists again before she's yanked off into the timestream.

This time Shirou gets the hammer handle wedged in there.

The 20th year of the prosperous Taisho era.


An underground, nameless shrine.

A man in black kneels down in front of a carefully laid-out uniform, a sheated sword, a pistol and a group of strange, metallic tubes. From somewhere in the cave, an elderly voice speaks. With the utmost respect, the man listens, eyes closed.

"As the sun shines above, it casts shadows on the land below. Such is the law of the heavens; the law of the earth. Likewise, where there is man, so too will there be darkness. We exist to vanquish that darkness. The time has come. You, who aspire to become the next Summoner, I will determine whether or not you are worthy of the Kuzunoha name."

The man stands. The cape is donned, the tubes sheated, the sword and pistol at the ready.

The sideburns.

The hat.

A man of action.

Raidou Kuzunoha

The XIVth

He turns to face the camera. Today, a hero is born.

A black cat and a white shiba-inu dog run in front of him, the former chased by the latter. He looks at them pass, stoically surprised.

This is the moment the wall behind him takes to /explode/, revealing a pale, humanoid creature, covered in black, fleshlike membranes, with gleaming, golden eyes. "...Kuzunohaaaaaaaa!!"

Huh-oh. Koromaru stops in its tracks to growl at the emerging beast. It doesn't hate cats THAT much. The black cat stops as well. "...What the hell. That WASN'T supposed to happen."

...It TALKS?!

Fumiya knows Shirou is annoyed, and doesn't care. It's a benefit to being a pal with someone, you get to really annoy each other. But, sadly, Fumiya never gets to see the rocket-powered dinosaur again. Hopefully it will not be lost in time forever, and will at least be a kickass boss battle in a video game someday, or something.

When they arrive at the main platform, Fumiya is quick to react to the woman they all see before them. "Wow... who's this babe?" That is all he gets to ask before she begins to speak, and before he and so many others get thrown to the winds of time. Or rather, when Thora grabs him and takes him along for the ride again.

Whether or not they land violently upon their arrival, Fumiya is thrown to the ground anyway with a loud thud. Because he's not as good at entrances as he'd like. "So.... is this whole night just gonna be us getting flung from one place to another?"

Standing up to take a look around, he finds his questions are not immediately answerer. In fact he has several more. But as the talking cat appears, along with Kusunoha and the strange creature, Fumiya just has one thing to say.

"Oh Great Scott.... this is Heavy."

Adachi is enveloped in shining fog, and has enough time to go "What the f--?!" before he's snatched BACK THROUGH TIME and dumped in some random cave somewhere along with a black cat and Koromaru. He blinks, bewildered by the turn of events (even if this is pretty damn awesome), and stares up at some dude with massive sideburns and a couple of weapons. /Huh,/ he thinks, /wonder if he's related to Detective Suou./

Then he gapes at the cat. "You can TALK!?"

The Priestess Arcana comes above Chisaki. She yelps -- and clutches her head, staring, as vertigo and sheer surprise overtake her. She squeezes her eyes closed, trying to ignore it as she swallows hard. Her head pounds.

She opens her eyes.

A cat is talking to her. She stares at it -- and then she jumps up and shakes her head quickly. "What the--what the hell was that?!" she yells. "When did a cat learn to talk!" She points a finger down at it; her finger shakes, pent-up fear bubbling over into a healthy amount of poorly directed anger. "Explain yourself!"



And now back to the TP. Shirou grunts a bit as he sees both his (younger, hot) mom kiss a man he's never met, but also getting a hammer handle ground into his wrist.

And then Fumiya /has/ to make an '80s reference. One he gets. "Err... yeah, heavy as a definition of weight or whatever Doc's line was." He snarks, as the wall blows out behind them and the cat talks. "...You know what. Not even the strangest thing I've seen by a long shot."

Now, the monsterous thing in front of them? That's new. He cracks his neck a bit, eyeing Thora. "Fastball special?" He says, grinning a bit wider.

"Did you really?" Anzai asks Adachi happily, his face lighting up. "I was interested in it ever since my grandparents took me to visit Osaka Castle and we were reading about the fall on the plaques there. I'm sure you know..."


Anzai, who has long since fallen or been shouted silent, has loosened up slightly on the walk over, partly because Adachi was such a good person and let him talk out his fear and partly because nothing has tried to kill him yet. As the group arrives, he stares openly at the woman atop the platform, his eyes drawn first to her, er, assets and second to the ofuda covering her, which he evaluates professionally as being pretty darn powerful.

His appraisal ends immediately once she starts talking into his brain. His head turns toward Metis as the woman mentions her - how the hell did Aigis's sister not /warn/ them about this thing, he wonders, though he quickly concludes that she just might not have filled him in. The young man grips his staff a little tighter, shifting his grip on it as he watches the figure closely, feeling the overwhelming wrongness of her presence and anticipating an attack. As she explains the reasons behind their coming, Anzai hardly has time to wonder what a Nyx is before he's dragged into another darkened void, his terrified scream cut off by dark...


Anzai groans as he pushes himself to his feet, using the staff as a crutch. The young man shakes his head to clear it and adjusts his glasses as he looks around. He can see Adachi, and Thora, and one or two...Anzai blinks as the cat seems to speak, and then he looks down at it. And then at Adachi, who confirms his observation. And then back at the cat.

Anzai's shoulders square. Right. At least /this/ he can deal with.

"Our eyes may see some uncleanliness, but let not our mind see things that are not clean," he chants formally as he steps forward, left hand reaching into his pocket for an ofuda. "Our ears may hear some uncleanliness, but let not our mind hear things that are not clean," he continues as he approaches the cat. "In the name of Amaterasu Omikami, born from the left eye of Izanagi as he purified himself in a river..."

Someone should probably have stopped him by now.

Dropped unceremoniously in some unspecified time IN THE PAST, Shinjiro is... nearly as alarmed as Chisaki about the talking cat, though he is considerably less effusive about it. He checks his weapons, his Evoker-- all still present-- he takes stock of who else is here with him...

And then he notices the strange tableau beyond the talking cat. For once, Shinjiro is completely at a loss.

Thankfully, Thora's quick to let go of the wrists of those she dragged along with her. Only a passing glance is given to those that have been shot into this section of the timestream, just to take stock of who she has to work with. She's pretty pleased with the loadout at least-especially since with Adachi here, she knew she could keep an eye on him and make sure that he doesn't get his ass killed!

Thora starts to lift her hammer, ready to start pounding the most shadow-looking thing here (that is, the black membraneous shadow thing) when Shirou brings up some /strategy/. "Alright! Talking cat aside, /hit me/ Shirou!"

The cat simply /stares/ up at Anzai. "Hey. Hey. Kid. What're you even babbling about?" The others also seem rather confused. And with even better reason than they might think-- to a few of the people present, that particular cat might look a tiny bit... familiar, somehow. "Of course I can talk. The name's Gouto-- Anyway, no time to /exposit/! We've got a situation here!"

Raidou, or at least the man who will soon be known as such, does not speak up at the sight of the many teenagers suddenly appearing, nor even that of the talking cat. He's a little busy here, what with the masked, growling creature stalking right towards him. He reaches for his sword...

"NO! You don't have a chance against that thing, not yet!"

A /second/ black cat, with a definitely similar voice, dashes out of the shadows. It leaps to Raidou's side, to the amazement of the one who (apparently?) came with the group. "What the..."

The creature, as it gets even closer, lets out a tortured scream. "S-so cold!... She did... something to me... I'll destroy you all!!" From its partially "masked" mouth, it... inhales. And but a second later, a torrent of frigid mist pours out towards the group. Not one to let innocents be harmed, Raidou leaps in front of it... along with the cat accompanying him. "What do you think you're even do--"

Moment later, both the future Devil Summoner and cat are suspended in mid-air, frozen in a block of ice.

The cat... facepaws. "Oi. Not our finest moment." It turns to the Persona-Users. "Don't just stand there, kids! That woman thing-- the Priestess, it seems she's meddlin' with time. If you don't stop it, the Red Cape-- well, the Black Cape, will kill the 14th and change history!"

Done expositing just like he said he would not, Gouto looks back and gracefully leaps out of the way of the black-and-white creature... and just in time, too, since it's firing another blast of frigid mist at our heroes!

COMBAT: Theodore has activated Black Cape.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Thora Kobayashi with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore misses Shinjiro Aragaki with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Tohru Adachi with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Anzai Mizuno with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Chisaki Tohsaki with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Shirou Sekigawa with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits you with his Frigid Mist attack.
COMBAT: You have taken 62 points of Ice damage.
COMBAT: The Agility Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: Theodore has finished their turn.

"FINE WHATEVER CAT!" Shirou yells out, grunting as the freezing atmosphere drains his energy, feeling quite pained by that... he wishes now that he'd brought something with a bit more 'fire power'. Oh well.

He slides behind Thora, jabbing her five times in the back with two fingers, making a star symbol, grinning... she'll feel the familiar rush of time slowing down for her, subjectively, as everyone else watches her speed up a little more. "Hit hard, hit fast, get him /out of here/" He grins, cheering on his girlfriend.

COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa hits Thora Kobayashi with his Healing Touch attack.
COMBAT: Thora Kobayashi has been healed.
COMBAT: The Luck Up status effect has been added to Thora Kobayashi.
COMBAT: The Heal Over Time status effect has been added to Thora Kobayashi.
COMBAT: The Agility Up status effect has been added to Thora Kobayashi.
COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa has finished their turn.

Chisaki looks sideways at Shinjiro. Maybe he will know how to hold his own against a talking cat and respond; he is, after all, a senpai. He has seen everything on the streets, or so she likes to think, and maybe that (somehow) includes talking animals.

No, she realizes, he is staring at it too.

This shit just got real, she thinks. She twitches and frays underneath the pressure; Anzai's continuing prayers are what, finally, scrapes at her. She looks at him with a twitching eyebrow. "Would you stop that MUMBO JUMBO?!" she yells. "IT'S A TALKING CAT! STOP TRYING TO--"

Chisaki turns her head. She sees the Black Cape inhale; her eyes go wide, and the blast of frigid air strikes into her. The yelling girl is picked up and thrown. She tumbles, slamming into the ground, icicles and mist clinging to her clothing and hair. She shudders, and then pulls up her Evoker. She grits her teeth, teeth chattering, as she slams the barrel of the gun to the underside of her chin; she feels Beowulf in the back of her mind, clamoring to be free. Her finger hesitates on the trigger.

Then, not knowing whether it was fear or will, she pulls the trigger. "BEOWULF!"

Blue light explodes out of the top of her head and rains down around her. Beowulf comes free, twisting around, and hovers in front of her. Blue and silver armor cling to a black body, frost seeming to be entwined with the man, who looks at her with a smooth face of steel; eyes human-like, but mouth and nose missing. His hands come upward, and don't clutch either sword or spear on his back.

Then, green light swirls, and twists around the Black Cape.

COMBAT: Chisaki Tohsaki misses Theodore with her Rakunda attack.

"Of all the places and all the times I could've been sent off to, I had to end up in the one with the talking cat," Adachi complains. Deeeefinitely not a cat lover here, which may mean said cat will have to rub ALL OVER HIM, because that's what cats do to people who don't like cats. Or maybe not, given as suddenly there's a second black cat, and then there's a masked creature, and then HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THIS FREEZING MIST AAAAAH and Adachi is *slammed* by it. How does that even work?! It's frigging mist!!

He scrambles up to his feet, scurrying away as he shivers. His vitality is better than this to let him get just whalloped down, but /damn/ that's cold!!

"O-okay! Whatever you say, cat! Gotou! Frigging whatever!!" Adachi yelps, getting behind Thora and Shinjiro before he turns, points his gun, and opens fire. Let the big people be his meat shields!! Plus, he actually trusts those two...

COMBAT: Tohru Adachi misses Theodore with his Pierce Attack - Handgun attack.

...Well, Aragaki, looks like it's time to SAVE TIME yet again.

...Shinjiro is SO SICK of saving time!!

Having already wasted a moment in vertiginous staring at the cat, Shinjiro is very quick to angrily correct for his dawdling and get the hell out of the way of the blast of icy wind. "Well, you heard the fucking CAT," he grumbles to Chisaki, yanking out his Evoker. "Let's go."

As always, he moves straight up to the forefront of the action, in the process happily shielding Adachi, even though he's not immediately attacking-- rather, using this one window of opportunity where he's not yet slowed in order to reinforce himself.

The familiar shot of the Evoker cracks the air, and the skeletal form of Castor leaps to life, its hooves nailing down over the frosted floor.

COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki hits Shinjiro Aragaki with his Power Charge attack.
COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki has been healed.
COMBAT: The Strength Up status effect has been added to Shinjiro Aragaki.
COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki has finished their turn.

Whoah, now there are TWO talkings cats! "Hey, wait a second, which of you is supposed to be here?!" Thora exclaims, glancing over at the Devil Summoner. Her glance begins to linger a little as she starts to notice how much like Naoto he looks like. Not only that he was taller than Naoto which thusly makes him double attractive to the teenager.

Thora's face turns red and she forces herself to look away as Raidou takes the brunt of the mist for the persona-users. What does get by doesn't hurt Thora /that/ much. The jabbing to her back snaps her to the present and power /flows/ into her.

"YES!" Thora roars, her eyes growing wild. With a second shout, she summons Garm to her side, the blood-red hound with eternally bared teeth. Both persona and master go charging at the Black Cape, descending upon it in a flurry of violence that is pretty graphic to watch.

Fumiya takes a second to take in his surroundings before the creature flips out. Aside from Shirou and Thora, he spots Shinjiro and Adachi. No one else he recognizes. But at least that's at least four people he can trust.

Well... maybe three?

"Oh, Aragaki-san, Detective Adachi..." He says, offering Adachi his proper title for once. And Shinjiro is one of the few people Fumiya will offer a proper honoriffic to. "I didn't see you guys before, do you get what's going on here----"

His time-wasting mumbling gets interupted when the creature blasts them all with a frigid blast of ice. "Oh... gaaaahk.. gnarly. Gross man.... augh..." He grunts, trying to shield his face from the blast as much as possible. It chills him quite a bit despite his efforts, though. "Geez... lame..."

He barely manages to piece together what their objective should be, and decides to join in with everyone else at fighting the BIG BAD BOSS MONSTER!

Snapping his fingers, he calls his own Persona into the fray. Something he hasn't done for awhile. "Light 'em up, Murugan!" Calling his Persona from the cobwebs of his mind, it appears to send a blast of fire at their opponent.

COMBAT: You have missed Theodore with your Agilao attack.

Anzai is going to banish you with his ofuda, demon cat, and would in fact have already done so if his prayer wasn't really, really long. People particularly sensitive to resonance effects may hear an high-pitched, ringing tone or its sensory equivalent as he lifts the ofuda in front of his face, the edges of the paper stirring faintly Anzai blinks as he hears the cat...a cat... "There's two of you?" he says, rather uselessly. It is a good thing he brought more ofuda. His eyes go up to the Black Cape. A /really/ good thing.

Then the mist slams into him, and Anzai experiences pain like he's never known. His voice cracks as he screams, a massive spike of pain ripping through his mind as the cold seems to bite deep into his bones, leaching away the heat from his very spirit. He slides backward along the wooden flooring, leaving a trail of mist and water as he eventually slows to a stop, his body instinctively curled into a ball. Frost and icicles begin to form on Anzai's body, and his lips and skin are tinged blue as he slowly tries to straighten himself out.

"Wha...was..." he sputters, fingers slowly fumbling for his staff as he tries to push himself to his feet. Why the hell is he so /cold/?

The creature called the Black Cape cares not for your silly antics! Thanks to Shirou's little boost, Thora is /quick/, and manages to slam into the strange creature and smash into it quite thoroughly! However, as it manages to hop away from getting much more of a beatdown, a flurry of more attacks are flying towards it-- fire, mysterious green light, even /bullets/! One moment it's there...

And now it's not.

In a blink of light, the black monster has disappeared and reappeared a few meters away. With lightning-quick speed, it dashes towards the ones who stood behind (meaning more or less everyone but Thora and Anzai, who is mercifully out of the way), and fiercely swipes at them with its claws! Indeed, the black membrane solidifies for a quick instant, just enough to cause more than a bit of pain. It hisses, inhumanly. "You don't understand! ...It's not my fault!"

And once more, it blinks away from a quick retribution, again "inhaling" the light around it... before swiping at the room with some kind of laser beam, one that those touched will find is quite draining on their mental reserves!

Meanwhile, people will probably be too busy to notice this, but Gouto has endeavored to scratch ineffectually at the block of ice Raidou is trapped in. "You should learn to respect your elders more, Shirou."

COMBAT: Theodore hits Shinjiro Aragaki with his Claw Swipe attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Tohru Adachi with his Claw Swipe attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Chisaki Tohsaki with his Claw Swipe attack.
COMBAT: Theodore misses Shirou Sekigawa with his Claw Swipe attack.
COMBAT: Theodore missed you with his Claw Swipe attack.
COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki hits Theodore with his Counterstrike counterattack.
COMBAT: Chisaki Tohsaki hits Theodore with her Counterstrike counterattack.
COMBAT: Theodore misses Thora Kobayashi with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: Theodore misses Shinjiro Aragaki with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Tohru Adachi with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: Theodore misses Anzai Mizuno with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Chisaki Tohsaki with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: The Magic Cost Up status effect has been added to Chisaki Tohsaki.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Shirou Sekigawa with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: The Magic Cost Up status effect has been added to Shirou Sekigawa.
COMBAT: Theodore hits you with his Doubt Beam attack.
COMBAT: You have taken 33 points of Mystic damage.
COMBAT: You take less damage due to your Mystic resistance.
COMBAT: Theodore has finished their turn.

"KILLING NOW! RESPECT LATER!" Shirou does have his moments of having a one-track mind. This is one of those times. Seeing as how they're getting rather smacked around, he grunts a little bit. The claws he managed to avoid by ducking, but that laser beam thing slices down at him, cutting his uniform, cutting his skin. "Graaaahhh!..." He pants, looking around, and nods to Fumiya. "Come on man, burn him up!" He tries to keep his spirits up, as he summons up Charon to give his best friend a little pick-me-up.

COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa hits you with his Diamai attack.
COMBAT: You have been healed for 34 points of damage.
COMBAT: The Heal Over Time status effect has been added.
COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa has finished their turn.

Yeah, Fumiya -better- offer a proper honorific. Shinjiro'd knock him on his ass if he didn't!! ...Or he would, if he didn't currently need that ass to help deal with this situation. "Don't have the first fucking idea," he replies when Fumiya tries to ask what's going on, "but I have a pretty good idea what will happen if we don't handle this shit."

The words prove prophetic. The monster carves straight into their group, and Shinjiro hisses as it lays his chest open with its claws. Some temporal dogs JUST ripped him open there a couple days ago!! Long experience makes his retaliation nigh-instant, Shinjiro one-handedly slinging his axe around to smash into the creature in a countering attack-- and then it's gone again, and Shinjiro is already strafing around to avoid the laser.

It's got an affinity for cold? Well, might as well try the other end of the spectrum first, then, Shinjiro thinks. The Evoker fires again, and Castor lunges after the monster, discharging a blast wave of raw heat with a swing of his weapon.

COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki hits Theodore with his Heat Wave attack.

The claws come swiping in. Chisaki yells in pain, as two of them cut down her left forearm. Blood splashes on the ground; her eyes go wide and she stumbles back, hissing, before she overcomes herself and lunges forward. She swings her bat out, slamming it at the Black Cape. She stumbles back, then, bat still raised -- and her Evoker back in its holster. Beowulf hovers by her side. She looks at him.

The Persona's ice blue eyes blaze, as he looks at her. The beam comes sweeping across the room; his form is singed, ghostly matter disrupting where it is struck, and the beam slashes along her body. She gets knocked backward with a groan.

Beowulf does not open his mouth, but he roars just the same.

The blue and silver Persona flies forward over the ground. He reaches a single hand over his shoulder, and draws free the large sword held there. The claymore glimers slightly; Chisaki looks up, breathing hard and in clear pain -- and then her eyes go wide. Beowulf acted with no direction from her. The blade shines in Beowulf's hand; the area around it seems to dim.

The blade cleaves down at the Black Cloak. Light explodes off it, a spike of energy exploding into the air.

COMBAT: Chisaki Tohsaki hits Theodore with her Atom Smasher attack.

Now a giant blue blur, Thora's quick to pursue the Black Cape when it takes off and slips free of her beatings for a second. Her eyes are wild and her lips pull back into a ghoulish sneer. "Not your fault? Not your fault?! WELL TOO FUCKIN' BAD, YOU'VE GOT MY ATTENTION!" Laser swings in her direction and Thora takes advantage of the speed that Shirou has gifted her with to dodge out of the way. Tough luck for Adachi if he was expecting her to stand there and be a meat shield!

Their opponent was clearly tainted by the obscene woman shadow that caused this whole mess. However, she will leave it to cooler heads such as Anzai to deduce that and subscribe a better solution than flat-out beatings. Maybe shrine kid could exorcise him or something.

Sidestepping at a speed she wouldn't normally be capable of, Thora calls for Garm with a dramatically thrust hand. In a second, it becomes evident that the hound's speed had also been augumented-not that surprising, really. Between Beowulf's attack, the Black Cape will get no break and no quarter as Garm leverages its superior size on the shadow-touched demon. Those tooth-filled jaws gape open impossibly wide as Garm tries to stuff the Black Cape's head into his mouth.

COMBAT: Thora Kobayashi hits Theodore with her Double Fangs attack.

Adachi yelps in genuine pain as the Black Cape goes around slashing everyone, then lasering him. So much for letting Shinjiro and Thora block for him--even with Magatsu Izanagi's vitality protecting him, he's got deep, oozing wounds, and the laser's knocked him flat on his ass. Breathing heavily, he struggles back up to his feet. "No..." he hisses. "N-no, I'm not gonna... Like hell I'm gonna die here to a son of a bitch like you...!! There's still lots I want to see and do!"

He glances over at Fumiya quickly then when the boy addresses him. "There's some tool in a cape here trying to kill us," he says bluntly. "That's good enough for me!" He unloads another couple of bullets towards the enemy. Should he reveal that he has a Persona...? Ugh, he really doesn't want to, but if he's already this beat up and it's not even a minute into the fight...

COMBAT: Tohru Adachi hits Theodore with his Pierce Attack - Handgun attack.


"Ghh---" Anzai hisses through gritted teeth, wincing as another agonizing wave rushes through his skull. "I can..." he sputters, saliva freezing on his lips as he shakes through the chill. "/Feel/ you..." he groans, breath misting as he plants his left palm down on the ground and pushes his body upward, joints and muscles creaking as they stretch out. His left leg slides forward and eases under the core of his mass. One knee. Another jagged edge running down the inside of his head.


"You w-w-want...out..." Anzai stutters, his body still shaking. "I need to..." He looks down at his left hand, then wipes the back of his right sleeve across his glasses, clearing the condensation from them, seeing his crumpled ofuda smoking in his palm. A wave of energy washes over Anzai then, and his fear rushes back through him, dragging him down into the cold. What is he even doing here? What can he hope to accomplish? Aigis didn't even /want/ him to come, and he's useless against...something like...


Anzai's right fist slams down into the floor, calloused knuckles cracking the thin film of ice that's formed over the wood. The young man's skin begins returning to its natural colour, the bluish tinge draining away from his lips. He can feel his heart pounding, his blood spreading warmth through his body. The rime begins cracking and splitting, frost flaking away from the Gekkoukan uniform as Anzai adjusts his glasses and wraps his right hand around the middle of his bo. He can feel the ofuda pulsing in his hands, resonating in time with the pounding of his heart, the throbbing of his head. The fear, the doubt, the uncertainty is chased away as something else rushes in to replace it.


The paper crumples in Anzai's fist, and a pulse of resonance echoes out from him as a dark red figure slowly rises up from the floor, a doglike demon with a long, thin body measuring up to twenty feet or more. The beast curls around the high-school student, and the ice runs to water as Anzai focuses on the creature in front of him. It's as though he can /feel/ the heat rising up in him, itching to be released. Waiting for him. He grips his bo in both hands and sucks in a breath, sweeping it slowly behind him. "Enha..." he whispers, then brings the staff down. "HOUYOKUSHOU!" Anzai screams, Makami roaring as a bird of living flame bursts out from his body and speeds toward the demon, heat flooding the room with its passage.

COMBAT: Anzai Mizuno misses Theodore with his L'Oiseau de Feu attack.

Fumiya pretty much shares the same fate as Shirou, dodging the first attack and being hit with the second. This sends the 80s kid flying back a little ways, as his balance was already thrown off from the icy attack from earlier. He crawls to his feet all the same, though, and manages a quip while he's at it.

"Dude... what's with the talking cat, why does it know you, and why are you fine with that?"

That Darn Cat aside, Fumiya is only able to offer a nod in reply to Shinjiro, at least he got something of an answer. And he's right, they need to take care of this thing. At least this isn't tough to fight (power aside), it looks inhuman enough for Fumiya not to have any difficulties.

Feeling energized by Shirou's support, and inspired by Shinjiro's attack, Fumiya stands defiantly at the creature and loudly proclaims: "Yeah! What SHE said!" Motioning to Thora. So yeah, take /that/. When Adachi gets to his feet to shoot at the creature, Fumiya actually puts himself between the Detective and the monster (once Adachi was done shooting of course, he's not that dumb).

"Don't worry, no one's dying here today! Get back out here, Murugan!" Summoning his Persona, Murugan reappears and hurls a flaming lance at the creature. "Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!" Fumiya quotes, despite getting the context all wrong, as well as the fact that the lance isn't a ball.

COMBAT: You hit Theodore with your Heat Wave attack.
COMBAT: You are healed 15 points of damage from your ongoing Heal Over Time effect.
COMBAT: Fumiya Watanabe is now covering Tohru Adachi.

Both Chisaki and Shinjiro manage to scrape the Black Cape's surprisingly resilient armor before it teleports again for more. The beam does a good job of cleaning up the house, but not for long.

Anzai finding the courage to counterattack does not happen in vain. The bird of flame soars towards the black creature, who, with a swipe of its hand, extends its black skin into a massive claw and bats the large thing away. It seems that, despite a few people's initial impressions, it doesn't find fire to be /that/ much of a problem.

The moment it takes to do this, however, buys crucial time for Adachi's bullets to strike true, and Garm, now the fastest thing alive, to chew into the Cape. There's a loud, shrill shriek of pain from it, and the observant will notice that these fangs are the first thing to draw actually blood from the creature so far! Black, ooze-like blood, but close enough.

Meanwhile, Adachi will feel... something rubbing up against his leg. Oh, hey, it's Gouto. It looks up. "Hey, you. If all you've got is this piddly peashooter, why don't you make yourself useful and find a way to get the big boy out of there?" Well, naturally the cat had to be drawn to /him/. It's science.

Meanwhile, the pileup on the Black Cape is too graphic to be described-- but... "AAAAAARGH! GET AWAY FROM ME!" There's a massive blast of flame, thankfully limited to whoever was unlucky enough to be within melee range at the time.

While the beatdown is effective, though, the creature still has a very nasty trick in its bag-- namely, that of teleporting away, which it promptly does. Once more at a safe distance, it shouts its fury to the heavens. Anzai might find the whining sound coming from the man's soul quite unpleasant. "...I can't control myself!" Hissss. "It's not my fault, it's the automobiles...!"

...Wait, what?

COMBAT: Theodore misses Thora Kobayashi with his Anger Blast attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Shinjiro Aragaki with his Anger Blast attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Chisaki Tohsaki with his Anger Blast attack.
COMBAT: Theodore missed you with his Anger Blast attack.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Theodore with his Justification attack.
COMBAT: Theodore has been healed.
COMBAT: The Dekaja status effect has been added to Theodore.

Shirou's still rather ton up, but for now, his friends are fine. Good. He does note that Adachi is getting ruffled up pretty bad himself. He sighs a little bit, and summons up Charon once again.

"CHARON! Diamai! Keep Adachi-san on his feet..." He mutters a little bit, his breathing just a little ragged. "I'd like to get home with the timeline still in place; ...wait, what was that about automobiles?"

COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa hits Tohru Adachi with his Diamai attack.
COMBAT: Tohru Adachi has been healed.
COMBAT: The Heal Over Time status effect has been added to Tohru Adachi.
COMBAT: Shirou Sekigawa has finished their turn.

Anzai grimaces as the creature swats his flame away, and begins gathering himself for another assault, holding the bo in both hands and sucking in a lungful of air. The young man flinches at the blast of flame and turns away from it, shielding his eyes with his left forearm as he waits for the burst to subside. he goes back to building up strength as the flame subsides - the heat was quite pleasant, really - and lifts his staff again, bringing it down to...

The kannushi blinks. Wait...automobiles?

Anzai adjusts his glasses and stares at the creature. "I can...I think there's someone in there!" he shouts at the top of his lungs, mind racing as he considers his options. As a priest in all but name, he's charged with safeguarding the people of his area, protecting them from evil spirits. If this man is possessed....he has a duty to try to set him free. Anzai nods and reaches into his pocket, coming up with another ofuda. He glares at it for a second, letting an angry breath out of his nose. It worked on the creature Aigis called a wendigo, but...he doesn't exactly have time for a prayer.

At least not a traditional one.

The young man grips the ofuda between the first two fingers of his left hand. "Gettu!" Anzai snaps in thickly accented English. "Zha! Fahkku!" he adds, the symbols along the paper suddenly gleaming with light as he raises it over his head. "OUTTO!" Anzai shouts as he drops to one knee and slaps the paper to the floor, a surge of magical energy sending blazing lines of light that arc outward toward the Black Cape and then explode into a massive replica of the formal prayer inscribed on the holy sheet. It is probably bad news for demons.

COMBAT: Anzai Mizuno has reset their health to full.
COMBAT: Anzai Mizuno hits Theodore with his Banish Spirit attack.
COMBAT: The Magic Cost Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: The Cursed status effect has been added to Theodore.

Caught full-on by the retaliatory surge of heat, Shinjiro is blasted back against an as-of-yet intact wall of the shrine, cursing and spitting a mouthful of blood. The scorches are more mental than physical, but they still hurt like hell; Shinjiro grunts, pushes away from the wall, shakes off the pain, and keeps moving.

It doesn't escape him that those fangs are the first thing to have any palpable effect on the creature-- nor that its skin appears to be a highly-flexible sort of armor. "Try to pierce it," he barks, already fumbling throug his mental rolodex. Fuck, he hasn't got anything that can precisely -do- that. "Get through that shit covering it up." Best thing to do if, as Anzai says, there IS someone in there...

His Evoker comes up again. It's not precisely a stabbing attack, but slicing is as good as Shinjiro can do at the moment. Castor reappears yet again, his blade this time trailing a smear of smoking black as it swings towards the monster.

COMBAT: Shinjiro Aragaki hits Theodore with his Zan-ei attack.
COMBAT: The Luck Down status effect has been added to Theodore.

Eyes blazing with excitement, Thora advances on the Black Cape as it squeals in pain from being munched on the head. Slowly, she lifts her hammer high over her head, ready to whack a mole that poor bastard into the ground once she gets close enough. Just when she gets in striking range, the Black Cape unleashes a spray of fire that engulfs Thora. With a panicked cry, she drops to her knees as flames and smoke wash over her body.

But as seconds pass, it quickly becomes apparent that she's absolutely unscathed save for the faint red tinge her body has taken in wake of the attack. With a start, she jolts to her feet and whirls.

The look in her eyes should be familiar to those that have fought alongside Thora before. She's gone, gone gone lost in the berserker rage she seems capable of summoning. The cry she unleashes as she rushes at the Black Cape is anything but human. She leads with a horizontal swing with her warhammer, followed by another in the opposite direction, a blow that comes far too fast than what should be physically possible. Then there's an upward, two-handed swing to catch the Black Cape beneath the chin and launch him into the air.

After he falls, she tosses her hammer aside and /grabs/ the demonic creature, lifting him overhead and swinging him into the ground repeatedly. As her energy leaves her, she hoists the demon up once more and turns to face her companions.

Huffing, she holds it still, out in front of her like a shield. "Go."

COMBAT: Thora Kobayashi hits Theodore with her World Revolution attack.

That's a good boy, Fumiya. Be a meat shield for Adachi! Shirou even goes to the trouble of giving him a bit of healing, for which the detective gives Thora's boyfriend a grateful smile and thumbs up. "Th-thanks, Sekigawa-kun...!" Getting other kids to do his fighting for him: always awesome.

Except when talking cats use this as an excuse to rub up against his leg (a shudder courses up Adachi's entire body from the feet up to the top of his head, and his head tilts s l o w l y with an expression of disgust down to the mangy animal in question) and sass him for being useless. Adachi's eyebrow twitches slightly, before he reaches down and--assuming he can catch Gotou in the first place--picks him up from the scruff and holds him outward and away from his face, like a smelly diaper.

"I wouldn't talk if I were you, cat," he says flatly, moving back from the battlelines. "You're nothing but a ball of fur and kitten scratches!" ...Adachi doesn't like cats. ...but there *is* something to be said about the novelty of talking to conversant animals, even if it just HAD to be a cat, so he eyeballs it suspiciously while the others wail on Black Cape some more. "So which big guy, the one who got himself trapped in ice?" Now he eyeballs the young man and the other Gotou in the ice cube. "I guess I could shoot him out or something." He aims his gun over that way and fires off an experimental shot. Well, why not? And if that's not what the cat meant, well, it's his own fault for not being more specific!!

Luck stays with Fumiya as he manages to avoid the second attack from the creature. Though he, too, takes a brief moment to be confused by its mad shouting. "...the automobiles?" He echoes in a dumbfounded voice. What could cars have done... and who even calls them automobiles anymore?

Oh right, time travel.

Shinjiro, thankfully, drops a helpful piece of advice. "Pierce it? Oh hey! You can totally leave that to me!" He exclaims, a bit excited. Finally, something he can do! Calling Murugan out once more, the Hindu War God hefts two of his mighty lances, and charges the creature attempting to impale it.

Fumiya takes one moment to look back at the cat, and Adachi's conversation with it. "...weird." Is his only comment. Seriously, it's a talking cat. When did this turn into a kid's anime? For /girls/?!

COMBAT: You have missed Theodore with your Twin Shot attack.
COMBAT: You are healed 12 points of damage from your ongoing Heal Over Time effect.

"Automobiles...?" Chisaki calls out. Her eyes go wide -- and the flame erupts downward. It washe sover her and Beowulf; she hisses and raises an arm, burnt but not brought down, and the girl shudders as she forces herself up to her feet. "What do you mean?!"

Beowulf looks up. His eyes continue to burn an icy blue. He surges up; Chisaki hears what Shinjiro says, sees the prayer strip fly, and realizes that Beowulf is moving without her control. He twists around, and brings the sword with him. Electricity explodes along the body -- shooting up the aror and the length of the sword. The Persona roars mouthlessly, again.

She tries to will it to stop; she does all but shout for him to.

Beowulf turns, and electricity explodes off the sword -- as the blade cuts down in a swath, trying to cut into the Black Cape along the midsection.

COMBAT: Chisaki Tohsaki hits Theodore with her Galvanic Wrath attack.

Gouto is grabbed all right, if only because it never quite expected anyone in their right mind to do such a thing in the middle of a fight. Its bright green eyes widen in alarm. It listens to the cop's little spiel, and looks at the cube of ice being /shot/, and its pupils narrow. Okay, he's seen enough. Claws are drawn, noses are swiped with /terrible mighty fury/, and a cat lands on its four legs.

Before Adachi can do any more damage, Gouto skips back off to the ice block. "Sheesh, they'll give anyone a pistol these days, won't they? Now if you're done compensatin' and taking it all out on the cat, we're trying to rescue the future savior of the world, here, not /kill/ him."

Past-Gouto and Raidou's surprised expressions peek out at the group, as if they realize they had just been shot.

A quick inspection of the room should reveal that there's a set of torches about. Aha! These should be /perfect/, if Adachi wants to go for the slightly kinder method. Gouto resumes to trying to, for some reason, /scratch/ Raidou out, but this time, he's joined by Koromaru.

Cats and dogs putting aside their differences to save the world, ladies and gentlemen.

The exotic words of Anzai's exorcism escape the creature's grasp, but the intent is clear. Somehow, it seems stunned for a moment, clutching its head in pain. "Whaaaaat am I doing?!"

This is why, despite its inhuman speed and blinking abilities, the Black Cape is effortlessly snatched by Thora before it can do much. Despite Anzai's pleas, neither of them looks particularly human as a most vicious beatdown is delivered, and the monster once again shrieks inhumanly. Whatever traces of humanity the not-priest managed to awaken are all but gone, now. Whoops.

Still within Thora's grasp, its golden eyes flash with manic glee. "I'll show you... I'll show you all, starting with YOU!!"

Its "cape" bends to curl up over its head, sloooowly... and then, suddenly, they solidify into already blood-soaked spines, extending to impale the massive girl's entire body! Whether she lets go fast enough to avoid this or not, the Black Cape should be out of her grasp, now.

Castor and Beowulf manage to get it to stand still for a second and get it sliced up. The effort is a good one-- the monstrosity is still incredibly resilient, but all that hurt finally seems to be getting to it! Before Fumiya can deliver a powerful hit with Murugan's lances, however, the thing... Blinks out again. This is very annoying!!

"IT'S... THE AUTOMOBILES' FAULT... DON'T YOU GET IT?!" is all the explanation it seems anyone will get tonight, at least from... whoever that man is. They did kind of pop up in the middle of someone else's story and all. But while it doesn't attack now... its few wounds start to close up with a sickening sound at the sound of this war cry. Its muscles bulge, and soon, it's darting about the place like never before!

It's gotten /serious/.

COMBAT: Theodore hits Thora Kobayashi with his Bloody Spines attack.
COMBAT: The Damage Over Time status effect has been added to Thora Kobayashi.
COMBAT: Theodore hits Theodore with his The Automobiles' Fault attack.
COMBAT: Theodore has been healed.
COMBAT: The Luck Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: The Vitality Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: The Agility Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: The Magic Up status effect has been added to Theodore.
COMBAT: The Strength Up status effect has been added to Theodore.