View Poll Results: What is your favorite fight scene so far?

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  • The Ghoul (Chapter 7)

    0 0%
  • The Slipping Hableries (Chapter 13)

    0 0%
  • Shadow Yosuke (Chapters 14-15)

    2 7.41%
  • The Lying Hablerie and Calm Pesce (Chapter 18)

    0 0%
  • Shadow Chie (Chapter 19)

    12 44.44%
  • Shadow Yukiko (Chapter 21)

    8 29.63%
  • The Yomi Duo (Chapter 25)

    5 18.52%
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Thread: Fate/Reach Out (Fate/Stay Night x Persona 4)

  1. #441
    EDIT: did an extensive clean-up of all the leftover "Â"s from formatting. Sorry about that.

    Chapter 44: Into the Void



    July 16 – Junes Food Court

    Yosuke arrived early to the food court, waiting for the others. It was agreed that they should avoid grouping up as much as possible after a few close calls with the police. It was raining non-stop now, and Shirou figured it would be a good day to check on the 8-bit castle. Not for training, but to see if things were escalating yet.

    Luckily, Junes tables had tarps for bigger seating groups for when the rain rolled in, and with how big the Investigation Team was getting, a bigger table was necessary. Kanji was happily petting Tama, Chie was stretching her hands and legs, and Yukiko was asking Rise something about acting lessons. All they had left to wait on were Shirou and Fujimura-san.

    In the meantime, Yosuke stared at his phone yet again, waiting for something to happen. A call, a text, anything, to ease the worries that festered since his teacher’s death. “Sacchin…”

    “What are you saying, Shirou? Sacchin's… Sacchin’s another victim! She has to be! She can't possibly be the culprit! She wasnÂ’t even here until the deaths started!”

    "Then how do you explain her and Mitsuo disappearing the same day Morooka-sensei died?”

    “They probably went into hiding, or… or the real kidnapper just took them without putting them into the TV to avoid suspicion!”

    “Fuji-nee saw the one who killed our teacher. She’s certain that the Kubo siblings are to blame.”

    “It was dark out that night! And… and raining! It could have been anyone! Hell, she was even drunk and then thrown into the TV right after!”

    “She still remembered more than the others when put into her situation. For all her faults I trust in Fuji-nee.”

    “Are you saying you trust your guardian over your friend here?”

    “…”

    “Okay, you’re right, jerk move. But how do you think I feel about all this?”

    “Yosuke—"

    “She isn’t a vampire, okay? I mean, come on, do you realize how crazy that is?! That I’d be dating some horror monster that was responsible for what happened to Saki-senpai?!”

    “Well, we’ll figure this out one way or another. I just don’t want you to get your hopes up when the worst comes.”

    This case sucked. No two ways about it. That conversation with Shirou was cycling in YosukeÂ’s head as a morbid reminder while he scrolled through his texts. All of them from him, and in growing desperation and impatience. He tried to convince himself that the only likely scenario was because she got stuck in the TV world where there wasn’t a phone signal. Trapped in a dungeon with no way out until a Shadow decided to eat her.

    Although she could just as easily be sitting on her metaphorical throne waiting for them. No, that wouldn’t make sense. Wouldn’t the mastermind actually take the fight to the ones messing with their plans? Unless she had some ulterior motive, maybe.

    It was a constant mental struggle for Yosuke, trying to decide if Satsuki Kubo was the villainess or not, or why she had done so. Why the lies, why the killing… why mess with the world at all. Shirou said that vampires were creatures of the night and thought differently from humans. The blood drinking was actually a vital need to sustain themselves, for example.

    Oh, and finals were in a few days. How could he possibly study with everything going on? The timing of it all couldn’t be any worse. He wouldn’t be surprised if Satonaka scored higher than him this time.

    …okay, no way in hell was he going to lose to Satonaka in academics. All the more reason to resolve all this sooner than later.

    “Oh, they’re here!” Chie said aloud, noting the arrival of the last two members of their team. They waved them over as the duo sat down with them.

    From there, conversation was kept minimal and vague while Yosuke sort of zoned out. He did hear Shirou ask for a clarification on the weather report, and Fujimura insisting on better study habits, but it was as much white noise as everything else in Junes.

    His mind was returned to the questionable state of his girlfriend. Please respond when you get this. He had written before. Where are you, another time. He tried to avoid sounding too desperate but it was barely a mask he held up. What if Satsuki had already been killed? Wait, if she was really a vampire, then wouldn’t she be dead to begin with?

    “Huh?” Yosuke stirred, looking up to see Shirou shaking his shoulder.

    “I said we’re going to Teddie’s place now. Are you coming?” Teddie’s place being code for “big screen tv portal” in case the cops were listening in, not that they had to worry. Only Naoto ever figured out their DnD lingo, and luckily he was on their side.

    “Oh, yeah yeah, sure.”

    Well, he could worry about that later. He could use some of TeddieÂ’s bad jokes right about now.

    <><><>

    TV World, Hub Space

    Somehow things went from bad to worse. There was no sign of Teddie at the main gate. Usually he was pacing or waiting in front of the TV stack for them to visit, or more recently so absorbed in his thoughts that he didnÂ’t notice them right away. This time the bear was gone.

    “Teddiiiiie! Where are yooooou?!” Rise cried out. Only her echo in the vast TV world reverberated back.

    “Geez, why would he leave here?” Chie grumbled. Her face was scowling, but she was just as worried as everyone else that Teddie was gone. “I thought we had a pact to never go out until we’re all here.”

    “Come to think of it, hasn’t Teddie been acting a little… off, lately?” Yukiko asked.

    “He’s a talking bear in another dimension,” Taiga said. “He’s not exactly normal like the rest of us.”

    “No, I think Amagi-san has a point,” said Shirou. “Ever since you pushed the vampires in, he’s been antsy about finally confronting them. They’re probably responsible for ruining his home dimension.”

    “Well, yeah. We promised to help him when we first came in, after all,” Yosuke recalled. “Must have driven the poor guy nuts when he saw us squatting at the front door.”

    “Hey! We’ve been working towards making sure you guys didn’t die fighting a vampire! You should be thanking me!”

    “Oh, uh, thanks, sensei,” Kanji said earnestly. Taiga was taken aback, clearly not expecting someone to literally thank her, but she beamed all the same.

    “Regardless, we need to focus more on finding Teddie first.”

    “Where do we start looking?”

    “Where this mess all started from,” Shirou said, his gaze turning to the south. “The vampire’s castle.”

    Nothing more needed to be said; as one, the Investigation Team marched down the fog-entrenched path to what would likely be their final destination. Fitting that it was a dungeon suited for a final boss in a video game.

    Everyone was anxious. They had to find Teddie, stop the culprit, and come back alive. Thoughts of those lines circled their heads with each heavy step, and before long they were at the gates of the blocky NES-filled nightmare.

    <><><>

    Moon Voidania, Second Stratum

    It was dark inside, almost as expected.

    The shading of the interior almost hid the blocky texture from keen, discerning eyes, were it not for the light illuminated by pixelated flames. It was different from the main entrance room they’d used as a makeshift dojo the last few days and more akin to a cavern than a castle.

    Before the Investigation Team made a single step forward, a black text box opened up in front of them.

    >_Begin new quest

    End your quest

    “Eh?” Taiga blanched. Before anyone could think of a response themselves, the screen changed and typed itself out.

    Enter Player One

    Please enter your name:

    Mitsuo__

    “The hell?” Chie felt her anger rise upon reading the screen. “Is that guy taunting us?!”

    “Guess he really thinks this is a game,” Yosuke noted, coming to reluctantly believe that at least the brother was involved. “I thought this was supposed to be Castlevania, not Dragon Quest.”

    “Wait, there’s more,” Rise said as the screen changed.

    Enter Player Two

    Please enter your name:

    [email protected]#%(!-/

    ERRORERRORERRORERR010101010112010—

    The screen seemed to glitch just as the name was typed, and then spelled a long series of number codes much too quick for the human eye to read, much less comprehend. Just as quickly as it happened, the screen shattered into glass pieces, only to subsequently vanish like a Shadow slain. A grim silence followed as the Persona users tried to discern what they had just seen.

    “That’s… new,” Yukiko said slowly. It was actually scary, and not the good kind that intrigued her.

    “Yeah, but what the hell was that?” Kanji wondered aloud. Rise and Taiga looked similarly alarmed.

    “We don’t fully understand it ourselves,” Shirou explained. “But these dungeons seem to reflect the subconscious thoughts and feelings from the victims thrown in here.”

    “Teddie would know more about this, probably,” Yosuke said. He awkwardly tugged his scarf, thinking of the bear. “Then again, he was just as much in the dark about these things as the rest of us.”

    A sickening growl broke their thoughts as they saw a pack of Shadows appear further down the corridor. The team reflexively summoned their Personas, with Yukiko and Yosuke quickest on the draw. They blasted the Shadows with a conflagration of smoldering flames and fierce winds, one strong enough that the conflict was over before it could truly begin. The Shadows were incinerated in an instant.

    The team, still tense, slowly relaxed as they realized there weren't any more enemies coming… for now. “Wow, that was… easier than usual.” Yosuke said, stupefied.

    “Must be the new spells we learned,” Shirou noted. Ma-prefix spells with a wide area of effect wasn’t anything new, but the suffix-a spells were a game changer. A bigger cost of prana for a stronger burst of damage.


    Mazio, Mabufu, Garula, Magaru, Agilao, Maragion. They reminded him of a similar fantasy game series that Yosuke had tried to get him into. Final Fantasy, he recalled. Even their physical attacks were stronger now, even if their names weren’t as obvious to the power behind them.

    Taiga grinned like a smug cat as she puffed her chest out and brandished her shinai over her shoulder. “You’re welcome,” she boasted. The training had definitely paid off.

    “All right, guys, let’s stay focused and start looking for Teddie,” Shirou said. “Rise, do you have a read on him?”

    “I think so,” she answered. “I know he’s further down at least.”

    With nothing else to say, the team started to explore the pixelated castle. The Shadows went down quickly, barely given a second thought. They were small fries now to the team's battles, even the newcomers weren’t all that bothered by them. Kanji had regularly fought gang members while seeing the worst from his own Shadow. Taiga had years of martial arts under her belt and connections to her grandfather’s “business”.

    The Shadows never had a chance.

    <><><>

    “Finally!” A jovial voice giggled from the throne, watching a crystal ball before her. “I was starting to think they would never leave past the first stratum!”

    And what efficient fighters they were! They weren’t holding back any more like they did when propping themselves up during training. They were fast. Quick. Merciless. They used just the right attacks to obliterate the Shadows, or at least knock them off balance before swarming them in a big ball of violence.

    Even in the rare situations where they couldn’t hit that sweet spot, they just resorted to the hardest hitting attacks they could. One girl’s samurai ghost smashed the ground so hard that a flurry of fists surged out in a wide area. Tatsumi-kun’s skeletal toy ghost swung its bolt-sword like an executioner's ax and almost always decimated its foes in one hit.

    But the older woman, the one who survived their encounter, was different. She just knew that this woman was the biggest hurdle, next to possibly the boy with multiple changing ghosts.

    She was the perfect warrior with both speed and strength. Her defense was just as good as she kept her footing loose and was spatially aware of her surroundings. She lacked the elemental prowess of her teammates but seemed to be greatly favored by luck with her close calls and critical hits.

    She was like a luckier Yosuke-kun, actually. Speaking of whom, he was showing a bit of resolve now, and his knife skills were a bit sharper. Maybe he’d be different from Shiki-kun.

    Well, it would depend on how they handled the first hurdle…

    <><><>

    Moon Voidania, Third Stratum


    Taiga wiped the sweat from her forehead with a relieved sigh as they climbed to the next floor. “Whew! We’re on a roll here!”

    It was probably foolhardy to feel boastful or proud, but Shadow-busting has always been therapeutic for the team. Infusing their pent-up frustrations and fears into their Personas before blasting the monsters away, there was no feeling quite like it.

    It did wonders for Yosuke’s self-esteem as he shredded all the Shadows he could with his wind and slashing attacks. Not a perfect fix, but close.

    “Just stay focused,” Shirou said aloud. “For now, we should focus on finding Teddie.”

    Rise quickly summoned her priestess Persona for a scrying. “Hmm? Hey guys, I think Teddie’s on this floor!”

    “Wow, that was fast,” Kanji noted. “And with just a straight line in front of us, too!”

    It was indeed a single corridor before them. It stretched so far that there didn’t seem to be an end on the other side, or it was too far away to be seen from the blocky candle lights.

    And so they walked.

    And walked.

    And walked.

    Before long the team soon realized that it was farther than it had any right to be. It was like an endless path that didn’t change or had an end in sight.

    Finally Chie voiced a concern that was no doubt circling all their heads. “Uh, guys? Is it just me or—?”

    “’Does this pathway never seem to end?'” Kanji blurted out. “Yeah, I was starting to think that too.”

    “It’s… not that much farther, is it?” Yukiko tried not to sound tired, but her slouching lean to the wall was evident. A few others had slumped over to catch their breath, the adrenaline from their lower-level fights waning.

    “Probably just a dungeon gimmick to delay us somehow,” Yosuke said. “Like trap doors and such.”

    Rise exhaled out a loud breath and summoned her Persona, which towered behind her as before. The hall was just wide enough to fit her, but not to scan around her. Just as well, she only planned to look straight forward… and was surprised by what she saw. “This is… guys, we’re in trouble! This entire floor is a trap!”

    “I think that much is obvious by now,” Yosuke quipped, earning an annoyed slap to the shoulder from Chie.

    “How bad?” Shirou asked.

    “Just listen.”

    They did so. They weren’t sure what to be listening for, but it came to them in a distinct sort of churning and metal cranking. It wasn’t like any Shadow growl they had heard so far, and they could just faintly hear it beyond the walls. In fact, the walls were slowly crawling to the side as if watching out from the window of a moving car.

    “The floor is actually small,” Rise explained “But that’s because the hallways themselves keep rotating. They shift from behind and latch on ahead of us, just outside of our view, while also pushing so that another hallway can be slotted. We’re moving forward but the place keeps moving backwards. Sort of like a conveyor belt.”

    “Wait, they’re just gonna trap us here until we die of starvation?” Taiga asked incredulously. “That’s a pretty devious, if not boring, way to stop us.”

    The bleached-haired teen stomped his foot down in frustration, “To hell with that! We came here to help Teddie, didn’t we?! I’m not just gonna sit here and wait for little miss vampire to swoop in and eat us!”

    “Actually, maybe we should?” Yukiko reasoned. The others looked at her, confused. “Think about it. We’re already stuck here, and the room goes in a circle? If we stay long enough, we might reach the other side and find Teddie.”

    “That’s assuming that whatever Shadow is rigging this room lets us reach the end,” Shirou said. “Or isn’t aware of our positions either.”

    “Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if the one responsible here, the mastermind or just a big Shadow, has some form of clairvoyance like with my Persona. Given how no Shadows have appeared here at all, they might want to psyche us out indirectly rather than have a straight-up fight.”

    Kanji deflated, but still clenched his fists in anger. “Dammit,” he growled. Many others in the team shared his bitterness. “Isn’t there anything we can do?”

    “Hey, it’s not like we can be in two places at once," Chie lamented. “All we know how to do for sure is summon our Personas, and even that feels way out of our depth.”

    Kanji stared at her. Yukiko stared at her. Everyone was staring at her, even the fox that seemed to blend into the background whenever it fancied doing so. They all had the same, wide-eyed expression towards her too. Chie suddenly felt very embarrassed at all the attention. “Wh-what did I say?”

    <><><>

    “How are our guests fairing?”

    “Sir, I think they’re onto us. They’re rushing through even faster than before!”

    “No matter. Keep pushing the rooms back. Every bit of time between us and them is a step of certain victory for our mistress.”

    “Yes, sir!"


    The Shadows were more cunning than at the previous dungeons. Their presence in the castle relegated them to mere lackeys of differing ranks under the master, but their cognitive awareness meant that they were more than just mere beasts. At least until they transformed to fight. The form of human silhouettes was necessary to operate the crane.

    The mistress was clever in realizing this feat within them, within himself, and breaking them free of their mortal limitations. Stopping the intruders was the least he could do to repay her.

    Still, he expected a bit more from this “Investigation Team”. Did the training and downtime make them soft? Were they not preparing themselves for this confrontation for months now? They believed that this would be their “final dungeon” to solving the case, and it was. Just not for the reasons they thought.

    “Huh?” The Shadow stopped turning the giant cog wheel at the side. He was not worried about stopping as last he checked, the brats were very far behind. He moved down the hall and spotted a wide, white circle with markings carved and etched over the floor. “That wasn’t here before…”

    The Shadow’s overseeing boss followed his gaze, realizing what it was right away. “It’s an ambush!”

    “I know, that’s what we’re-GAAH!” The Shadow was slain in an instant with a pair of blades hacking his turned neck off. Before it could transform and fight, a wooden shinai and a wet floor sign bludgeoned it into exploding dust.

    The rest of the Investigation Team stepped out from the circle and visibly relaxed as they did, like an invisible burden had been lifted. “I can’t believe that actually worked!” Chie said.

    “I can’t believe you came up with a brilliant idea!” Yosuke told her. “What is this, opposite day?”

    “I’m more impressed with that cage-mat stuff Emiya-senpai pulled,” Kanji grinned. “They didn’t see us at all while our Personas were moving for us!”

    “Thanks, but the magecraft was luck on my part,” Shirou admitted. He patted Chie's back, unknowingly causing her to flinch and blush. “It wouldn’t have worked at all without Satonaka’s idea.”

    Taiga grimaced, covering her mouth with her free hand. “Just, let’s… not do that again anytime soon,” she said, fighting the urge to throw up. “I’m still reeling from motion sickness after sitting and running at the same time.”

    “So that’s how you bypassed my Mobius strip. Clever.”

    The team’s victory was short-lived upon hearing another voice, just beyond the darkness covering the hallway further down. Only a pair of golden, slanted eyes stared back at them from the shadows, but it was enough to get the team to tense and be on guard.

    “You hid your presence in a bounded field, so we wouldn’t pick up your presence as your tamed Shadows marched deeper inside. As expected of you… ‘Shirou-sensei'.”

    Shirou was surprised by the last word, as were the others. The figure took a few squeaking steps forward and they saw a familiar figure with a sinister sneer instead of a smile. “Teddie?!”

    “Guys, watch out!” Rise called out. “That’s not Teddie. Not ours, anyway.”

    Looking closely, the team could see a faint purple aura surrounding the Teddie lookalike. But he was still unlike any Shadow they had encountered thus far. Teddie’s voice was usually high and chipper, as if coming from a child. But this other Teddie, while arguably the same voice with a filter, sounded composed and mature. A condescending voice that talked only to tear down someone else’s worldview.

    Like Kotomine.

    “Alright, you!” Chie shouted and pointed. “Where’s our Teddie? The real one!”

    “Haven’t we done this song and dance enough times by now, Chie-chan? I am in fact a part of ‘Teddie’, and thus real, as we are intertwined. In fact, one could say I am his true form.”

    "But you look exactly like him!” Kanji snapped.

    “Exactly. Shadows take the form of suppressed desires and motives. Why else were you, Yuki-chan and Rise-chan running around in loincloths, princess dresses and bathing suits?”

    Shirou had to admit, he had a point. The other Shadows they had fought were wearing drastically different wardrobes to suit the theme of their captive dungeons. Yosuke and Chie’s Shadows were outliers, but they sort of appeared without a demesne or theme of their own.

    Looking over to the group, half of them were very perturbed by the Shadow’s remark; namely the rescued members. Their silence and embarrassment were telling enough. Taiga, on the other hand, looked thoughtful and nodded to herself. “Makes sense, I guess,” she said softly.

    Suddenly Yosuke paled, a thought coming to him. “Wait, don’t tell me— You’re the one behind the murders?”

    Shadow Teddie's eyes squinted slightly in irritation. “That would be a trite twist if true. ‘The lonely bear was secretly the mastermind, playing its guests like fiddles’. Not that it’s an unreasonable theory based on what little you know, but no, I am simply a servant to my Mistress.”

    Mistress? This was the first time they had ever heard of Teddie having a “mistress” in this world.

    “Hey, Shirou,” Taiga whispered next to him, a backhand covering her mouth from Shadow Teddie’s view. “Let’s try to glean some intel out of this guy.”

    “Is that a good idea? This is Teddie’s Shadow we’re talking about.” He glanced over, but the Shadow hadn’t moved closer to them. Nor had he stepped away. He was just standing there. Menacingly.

    They all knew that this situation could end up in a fight, and the friendly Teddie was still nowhere to be seen. A quick look towards Rise, shaking her head no, confirmed that.

    “I’m not talking about his personal baggage if that’s what you’re worried about,” Taiga added. “I mean more about this ‘mistress’ character. She’s probably our vampire friend who whisked him away and brought out his evil twin.”

    Ah, now he understood what she meant. It would be hard normally to interrogate a vampire’s thrall, but it wasn’t like they had any better leads. Teddie’s world was different enough that even if Shadows were hostile, they were loose-lipped and explicitly shared what was meant to be hidden. The truth was just as dangerous as their pent-up rage, but could they use that to their advantage?

    It was worth a shot.

    Giving a quick nod to Fuji-nee, he stepped forward to address the Shadow. “If you don’t mind me asking, Teddie, who is this mistress? Why work for her?”

    “She has freed me from my chains of the ‘real Teddie’, and I am indebted to her. She has grand plans to spread her Palace to all corners of this world and shape it as she sees fit.”

    It was concerning to learn that their Teddie was a captive, but not as much as a supposed doomsday plot. “Wait, like rule the world?” Yukiko asked, eyes widening. “That’s why we’ve been thrown into the TVs?!”

    “Not necessarily, but my Mistress did glean the potential,” the sinister bear said. He turned his head up to gaze somewhere beyond the ceiling. “This world is saturated with prana and limited by imagination. There is no filter to suppress the inner psyche, and once it is actualized, it blooms to form a world within a world.”

    That sounds almost like—
    Shirou stopped his thoughts there. There was a more pressing matter to address. “What are you saying?”


    “Must I spell it out to you?” The Shadow droned, turning back towards him. “Why do you think our worlds are connected? Or that you each have your own Shadow?”

    The Investigation Team all exchanged glances with each other, pondering. “Uh… what’s so weird about it?” Kanji asked innocently. “They’re us, right? To become Personas?”

    “And what of every other Shadow you have fought getting here?”

    Chie gasped out the word that everyone was thinking. “N-No…!”

    That question chilled the team to the bone with horror. If Shadows were a reflection of themselves, then were they just going around slaying other reflections? Were they killing… other people?

    No, they couldn’t be people. They weren’t cognizant enough, and Shadows could become amalgams by bonding. But how was such a feat possible anyway? Magecraft had rules to follow, even the true magics. It just wasn’t humanly possible.

    Wait… the revelation came to Shirou like a thunderbolt. “They’re human thoughts,” he said. “This whole world… is a collective unconsciousness?”

    “Correct,” Shadow Teddie nodded, pride showing in his voice. “Every thought made by every human by every moment forms Shadows in this world. They are small thoughts, easily discarded on a whim after the attention is diverted. Alone they are as fickle as specks of dust. But when such thoughts gather over time, the stronger the Shadow's form.”

    So that was where Shadows came from. For a moment, Shirou thought back to Nami and their conversation about a talking board. Shaking his head, he almost missed Chie asking another question, “So, what’s your mistress’ plan from all this?"

    “That, you don’t need to know, for you are not permitted to see her,” Shadow Teddie said.

    “And why the hell not?!” Yosuke yelled.

    “You wish to fight her and take her to justice. I am here to stop you. The only reason we are not fighting right now is that I still hold a little sentimentality to you all.”

    “So you don’t want to fight us?” Rise asked hopefully.

    “I don’t want to waste time fighting you,” he clarified. “There’s a difference.”

    “Sounds to me more like you’re a chicken,” Kanji taunted. “You never fought the other Shadows before, and suddenly you think you can take us on now that you’re one yourself?”

    “Kanji-kun!” Yukiko chided him. How could he be so careless and egg on Teddie’s Shadow to force a fight?

    Fortunately, the Shadow just chuckled before explaining. “Every Shadow you have faced has only grown exceptionally stronger because more and more Shadow thoughts have been accumulated from your ‘Midnight Channel’. Last time you fought yourself, Shirou-sensei almost died. Do you really want to take your chances with me? Or the Mistress?” Even though Kanji had deflated by this point, the Shadow leaned in condescendingly to drive the point home. “Because in case you aren’t aware, she’s a vampire. A being several times stronger than any Persona. And very, VERY famished for blood.”

    Yosuke winced like he had been sucker-punched. Every bit of confirmation of this “vampire” story made it harder for him to hold onto hope. Was it truly too late to help Satchin like it was for Saki-senpai? He didn’t want a repeat of that, not now.

    Shirou had a similar crisis. It was one thing to speculate on why a vampire was here, or even take Fuji-nee’s word for it, but quite another to be outright confirmed by Teddie’s Shadow. He usually acted so differently from the wonders of the world. Excited even. But never apathetic. Was Teddie, Shadow or otherwise, truly an accomplice to this mistress? This mastermind? The one who put people into televisions to kill them?

    He had to know. “You know what vampires do, right?”

    The other Teddie tilted his head to the side. “What of it?”

    What of it?! Shirou wanted to scream but remained calm, if barely. “What about this world?” Shirou pressed on. “The reason you asked us to help was to stop it from being cluttered from all these thoughts in the first place!”

    “That,” The Shadow said, “Was simply an impulsive desire of mine, born out of a fear of the unknown. Fear of change. I had just forgotten the best way to handle it.”

    “And what is that?”

    “To just ignore it.”


    A stunned silence filled the room, enough that one could hear the kindling of blocky fire lighting the hall. No one dared utter a word but all silently demanded an answer via staring.

    “Obtaining the truth is simple, actually,” The Shadow continued jovially. “You just have to believe it to be the truth and move on. It is hard to discern the truth from a lie, so it is better to just not waste the effort.”

    Shirou barely got the words out of his mouth through grinding teeth. “Well, that’s a lie and you know it. How can you just pretend nothing’s wrong when people are dying? Doesn’t that alone deserve to have answers?!”

    “People die all the time. It is simply an inevitable fact of life. Even if you do save someone from an instant death, they’ll succumb and pass on through natural causes anyway. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.”

    “So, it’s fine to live without knowing how or why your life is at risk? Just because we die someday doesn’t mean we should give up when it’s convenient for someone like your mistress! Why should people be denied knowing the truth about the world they live in?!”

    Shadow Teddie scowled at him, finally losing patience. “You of all people should understand how hard it is to grasp that truth, Sensei. The Clocktower. The Church. The powers that be, the ones aware of the moonlit world. They will make sure that their secrets stay hidden and buried from the ignorant masses.”

    “Th-That’s…” Again, Teddie somehow had knowledge about magecraft, even through the connection of his Shadow. Just what is he?

    “It's a smarter way to live. But I guess I shouldn’t expect you to understand, Sensei. You’ve imprinted on me, on Teddie, so much that he didn’t listen to reason either.”

    Shirou’s blood chilled in grim realization. “Teddie already rejected you.”

    Although Shadow Teddie’s face was frozen, one could sense a chilling smile emanating from it. “Right again, Sensei. It is a shame you weren’t there to witness his folly, but he breathes yet still. The true despair to his existence will be seeing you die by his own claws.”

    And before their eyes, a familiar swirling vortex surrounded Shadow Teddie, only without the fanfare of an orgasmic battle cry. Rather, it began with the shattering of the small hallway around them, causing everyone to freefall down to the foyer they had used for training. Between their Personas and refined reflexes, they landed safely but didn’t have time to even catch their breath from screaming.

    A moment later, their newest challenger landed nearby with a tile-shattering thud. It was grotesque, to say the least. Shadow Teddie didn't really transform as he did expand into a lumbering giant. His limbs, his body shape, everything stretched and grew. He couldn’t stand up under the weight of his new form and instead hunched over on all fours. The once stubby glove-like paws became enlarged claws, curved to a lethal point. The face cracked at the left eye hole, both of which were now hollow windows to the darkness inside. Slanted, blue-purple neon eyes stared back, giving them a foreboding sense.

    “I am a Shadow of the True Self,” he said. “There is only one truth you need to know. You will all die here!”
    Last edited by Kishou the Badger; March 21st, 2022 at 03:41 AM.

  2. #442
    祖 Ancestor Alternative Ice's Avatar
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    Great work. Excited to see how this fight goes. Just one thing

    EDIT: did an extensive clean-up of all the leftover "Â"s from formatting. Sorry about that.
    I think you missed a few

    July 16 – Junes Food Court

    “We donÂ’t fully understand it ourselves,” Shirou explained. “But these dungeons seem to reflect the subconscious thoughts and feelings from the victims thrown in here.”


    The team, still tense, slowly relaxed as they realized there weren't any more enemies comingÂ… for now. “Wow, that was… easier than usual.” Yosuke said, stupefied.


    Even their physical attacks were stronger now, even if their names werenÂ’t as obvious to the power behind them.


    They were small fries now to the team's battles, even the newcomers werenÂ’t all that bothered by them.


    They werenÂ’t holding back any more like they did when propping themselves up during training.


    Maybe heÂ’d be different from Shiki-kun.


    It did wonders for YosukeÂ’s self-esteem as he shredded all the Shadows he could with his wind and slashing attacks. Not a perfect fix, but close.


    Just as well, she only planned to look straight forwardÂ… and was surprised by what she saw.


    They werenÂ’t sure what to be listening for, but it came to them in a distinct sort of churning and metal cranking.


    Yosuke and ChieÂ’s Shadows were outliers, but they sort of appeared without a demesne or theme of their own.


    This is Teddie’s Shadow weÂ’re talking about.


    I’m not talking about his personal baggage if that’s what youÂ’re worried about


    Chie gasped out the word that everyone was thinking. “N-NoÂ…!”


    “So you donÂ’t want to fight us?” Rise asked hopefully.


    You never fought the other Shadows before, and suddenly you think you can take us on now that youÂ’re one yourself


    “Kanji-kun!” Yukiko chided him. How could he be so careless and egg on TeddieÂ’s Shadow to force a fight?


    “Because in case you arenÂ’t aware, she’s a vampire. A being several times stronger than any Persona. And very, VERY famished for blood.”


    Just because we die someday doesnÂ’t mean we should give up when it’s convenient for someone like your mistress!


    ShirouÂ’s blood chilled in grim realization. “Teddie already rejected you.”


    He couldnÂ’t stand up under the weight of his new form and instead hunched over on all fours.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nasu
    I don't care if it doesn't make sense. I don't have any intent of making it make sense.

  3. #443
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Poor Teddie . . . His antics frequently annoyed me in-game, but he didn't deserve that.

    This should be an interesting confrontation, though - and don't think I didn't notice that Shadow Teddie never actually named his mistress. It's possible, certainly, that Sacchin picked up all that lore about the Moonlit World; I don't think it likely, however . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  4. #444
    Chapter 45: Shadow of the Mysterious Self

    For better or worse, the team was in a familiar area. Days of running around the open ground floor of the castle for training came to them quickly, and there was plenty of room to coordinate with each other.

    However, they never had to fight a giant bear-themed Frankenstein Monster swinging column-sized claws to sever and/or crush them to death. It took most of their energy just to avoid getting swatted by the claws.

    “What the hell, bear?!” Yosuke yelled. “Didn’t you say you had some sentiment about not fighting us?!”


    “I never said I wouldn’t do what I had to,”
    the Shadow coolly stated. “Just as you are determined to find the truth of this crime, I am determined to stop that from happening.”


    “But why?” Shirou demanded. “Why stop us? Why stand by and let innocent people keep dying?!”


    “If you have to ask, then you wouldn’t understand even if I told you.”


    Shadow Teddie reared his head back for a deep breath, and then exhaled as he leaned forward. A frigid breath of ice flooded the room, spreading frozen crags in a ripple-like effect. Yukiko held back, immediately crossing her arms into a guard and crouched down to avoid being knocked away. The others stood their ground, shrugging off the attack and avoiding the crags. Chie all but vaulted forward with her armored boots, crushing the icicles underfoot with nary an effort.


    “Boots of Abigor, don’t fail me now,” she muttered under her breath. She ducked into a slide, with the speed and grace of a figure skater. As she skidded right up to the front of Shadow Teddie, Chie lifted her right leg and smashed a roundhouse kick directly into his face.


    With momentum and a Persona on her side, the kick actually did some knockback and damage enough to cause the Shadow to rear back. Chie didn’t let up. She offhand summoned her Persona card and crushed it in her free hand without fanfare. Tomoe brandished her naginata in a quick flurry fast enough to land several hits at once.


    The monstrous bear Shadow had girth and weight in his new form, and although the impact forced his already fractured head back, he ignored the barrage of Persona strikes with a heavy swing of his tree trunk-sized paw. He struck Tomoe true, sending her, and subsequently Chie, flying across the room.


    “Chie!” Yukiko cried out. She was too far out of range for Konohana Sakuya’s healing. Chie’s reflexes shined through though with her righting herself just before skidding on the floor, panting for breath. Relief soon turned to anger as Yukiko slashed down her Tarot to summon her Persona and subsequently conjure a pillar of flames under the Shadow’s feet.


    Shadow Teddie stumbled backwards, staggered by the singing embers on his fur. Shirou sheathed his sword and drew out his bow. “Pelt him at a distance! His reach is long but he can’t hurt what he can’t hit!”


    “Sounds good to me!” Kanji yelled and swung his wet-floor sign at his Persona card. Take-Mikazuchi set his sword down in front of him before crushing it with his fists from both sides, letting out a surge of electricity.


    “Let’s blow him away!” said Yosuke, summoning his own Persona with a stylish jump cut. Jiraiya made a ninja hand-sign that unleashed a gale, barely inconveniencing him from the way his scarf fluttered back.


    Arrows and spells struck the bear in rapid succession, slowly pushing him further back. The assault gave the others, especially Chie, much needed breathing room to consider another plan of attack. They all knew it would take a lot more than this to even come close to defeating the Shadow.


    “It’s futile to resist,”
    Shadow Teddie droned, slowly righting himself through the barrage. “Even if you win against me, you will fall to the might of my mistress, and only know despair. There is nothing worth fighting for in this path.”

    “Stuff it, bear!” Kanji cried, throwing his fist forward in a jab. The action followed suit to his thunder-sword God Persona as he changed gears, stomped forward and threw his own punch.

    It cracked against the eroding “face” of Shadow Teddie, chipping a few pieces off and slugging him a good distance away from the Persona. Shadow Teddie showed no clear sign of fatigue, and stared Take-Mikazuchi down with his eerie ghost eyes.


    “You’re a poor listener, even towards Sensei’s orders.


    He crouched for a moment, and then pounced on the Persona with the full weight of his forward tackle. Kanji gasped and fell, a phantom pain crushing his chest down. A one-two punch later, Take-Mikazuchi dispersed into light from the pain of a giant bear’s might bearing down… no pun intended.

    “Kanji-kun!”

    “I-I’m alright, Yukiko-san,” he winced. He wanted to get back up to assuage her worries but this pain wasn’t something he could ignore right away. At least his senpai was quickly healing his wounds with Diarama.


    Shirou and Yosuke were the only ones left standing for the vanguard, to which Shadow Teddie was advancing towards in lumbering steps. They abandoned ranged combat in favor of melee, rushing forward with their Personas in tow.


    “Izanagi!”


    “Jiraiya!”


    “Begone.”


    Shadow Teddie did not give them a chance to intercept. He swung his claw arm down like a sledgehammer at the ground in front of them, and the resulting shockwave distorted the Personas’ forms and blew them away into shattered light. Their users were just as easily thrown back, sliding across the floor before colliding against Kanji.


    “Ow!” he yelped. “Hey, I just got that bruise mended!”


    “Uh, guys?” Yukiko started, and they looked up to see the feral bear towering over them. Chie was still out of bounds, Rise was between them when trying to reach her, and the fox Tama had disappeared sometime when the fight started.


    Yosuke winced even as he pushed himself upright. “Yeah, this isn’t going well at all.”


    Shadow Teddie leered down at them as he stomped closer. “Such a misfit team to search for the truth if there ever was one. Some children in education, a former idol, a pet, and a private eye who isn’t here. Not even the loud one could hope to close the gap.”

    “‘Loud one’?” Shirou echoed. “Who’s that supposed to be?”

    “I want to say he means me, but I don’t want to be insulted for having a loud mouth,” Yosuke said.


    “He obviously means me!” Kanji yelled. “I got a good hit on him, didn’t I?”


    “So you admit to being a Moronji?” Rise deadpanned, nearly out of earshot. Nearly being the operative word.


    “I told you to stop calling me that!”


    “It’s neither of you idiots,”
    The Shadow said with a no-nonsense droll. “It’s the one that escaped the mistress on her own and then trained. You know, the one in the-” Shadow Teddie gestured with his pointing claw towards the group, but stopped. The finger and eyes searched for something that wasn’t there. “Wait. Where is the loud one?”


    “Ooooooahahahahahaaaaa-ahahahaaaaa!”


    A loud, primal jungle cry echoed in the room. High above, swinging from a chandelier chain, was the “loud one”. Taiga, while everyone was distracted, climbed the stairs to the upper foyer and latched onto a chandelier. After swaying her body on it a few times, she now had a swinging vine.


    “Fuji-nee!” Shirou exclaimed. He was more surprised than worried that she took such initiative, and she was at the perfect height to counter the Shadow.


    She leaped off as she came close to the giant bear, and landed on his head before grabbing a fistful of hair to stay secure. Then with her other hand, armed with her shinai, she started to smack the Shadow.


    The attacks forced a bear-like roar from Shadow Teddie, either from pain or fury or both. With his attention preoccupied, everyone quickly scrambled away to regroup and steer clear of his building rage.


    Shadow Teddie immediately tried to reach her from his back, but struggled doing so. His arms might be long, but his body was wider than before, and he had trouble moving his arms and legs in a restrictive body-shape to begin with. “Get off of me.”


    “Not so high and mighty now, are ya?” Taiga gloated between strikes.


    “Cease this futile assault and I will rend your body to ribbons,”
    he said neutrally, as if he didn’t just emit an angry roar moments ago.


    “I think you got the order messed up there,” she said smugly. That earned her a more immediate claw attack grazing the Shadow’s back, and forced her swing slightly away. “Whoa! Okay, fuzzy, why don’t you pick on me while I’m your size?” She held her shinai up, and her Tarot card appeared just below it. She swung down to crush it, and smack the bear’s back in the process. “Persona!”

    Kaihime vaulted out from the blue flames conjured around Taiga, and landed in front of the Shadow. Body bent low, she drew her sword and quickly slashed at his arms hard enough to smack them back. Shadow Teddie swiped back at her as fast as he could, but she was faster still as she parried the claws higher while she ducked. Following that motion, she moved her katana in a semi-circle before quickly striking the exposed abdomen. And just to remind the bear of his other problem, Taiga continued to smack his back with her shinai while clinging to his fur.

    The two-pronged attack continued to divert the giant Shadow’s attention away from his other attackers. The rest of the Investigation Team were now recuperating at the opposite end of the foyer, as Shirou, Yosuke and Yukiko took turns mending wounds with their Dia and Diarama skills.


    “Hell yeah, look at her go!” Kanji cheered. “Kick his ass, Sensei!”


    “Don’t celebrate just yet,” Shirou said. “Fuji-nee is strong, but not strong enough to handle that Shadow on her own.”


    “So what’s the plan, leader?” Chie asked. “Do we support her or what?”


    Shirou furrowed his brow in thought. Every large Shadow fight thus far was a trial by fire, and Teddie’s was no exception. They couldn’t afford to be reckless with what attacks he could muster. But they couldn’t be too cautious either, else he would come up with his own counter strategy. And they still had Satsuki to find, too.


    “Shi-rou-sen-sei.”


    Yukiko stiffened and stopped healing, looking over her shoulder. “Wait, did you hear that?”


    “I did,” Shirou said, also looking around. “And it sounded like-” He stopped and stared when the fox slowly walked over to them accompanied by a barely familiar face.


    Compared to his usual round, cheery self, Teddie looked like a balloon that had sprung a leak and deflated. Due to a lack of support from his lower body, the poor bear was draped over Tama like a towel as she carried him. It was a morbid look for sure, one that made most of the Investigation Team retch with horror and sympathy.


    “Teddie?”


    “My god, what the hell happened to you?!”


    “I’m-<cough> I’m sorry, Sensei, everyone…” the bear wheezed weakly. “I didn’t mean for this to happen. I… don’t even know what to say, except sorry.”


    “It’s okay, Teddie, we’ve been there,” Shirou assured. He personally hadn’t, but he knew that personal demons were never an easy thing to handle. “Once we take care of your Shadow, we’ll beat the vampire too.”


    “No, not that. Well, not just that. I mean I’m sorry for lying,” Teddie clarified, coughing again. “The thing is, I haven’t been completely honest about myself.”


    <><><>


    Flashback, yesterday


    “Oh, where are they?” Teddie said, pacing around by the stack of TVs. He was feeling more antsy than usual, hoping the others would come back soon. But they had been gone for a long time doing “studying” for a “test”. Teddie had lost track of how many days it’d been.

    Before, he had no trouble waiting or wandering around for days as they flew by. Now he was impatient, curious, and wanting. Having friends who were willing to help fix his world made him eagerly enjoy the visits where they fought through the Shadows. But he wished they came here for more than just business.

    “Hehehehe…”

    “Whaaaa!” Teddie jumped and whirled around. Where did that feminine laugh come from? It didn’t sound like Rise-chan or the other girls. “Who’s there?”

    He didn’t need to look very long before seeing a silhouette at the edge of the studio area. He couldn’t make out the body shape, or even if they had long hair or not. It was almost entirely black. It laughed again. “Hehehehe…”

    “Huh? A girl?” That’s what it was supposed to be, right? How did she get in here? Another victim pushed inside? She was just far enough out of reach that he couldn’t quite smell her.

    Then she turned and walked away, deeper into the world of Shadows.

    “Hey! Wait up!” Teddie rushed after her. It was dangerous here, and she didn’t seem to understand the rules of this world. A Shadow could easily get to her if she lapsed from a strong emotional outburst!

    He didn’t know how, but in following her he ended up right back at the Voidania castle. His concern for the girl grew as it was the most dangerous place in the world thus far. He hoped she didn’t go any further than the front door because he didn’t have enough courage to go further himself. Not when it looked foggier than ever, and that was supposed to keep the Shadows docile.

    Just as Teddie was contemplating about waiting for Shirou-sensei and the others, he heard her voice again. “Do you want to play with me?”

    Teddie looked around, spooked, “P-play?”

    “Play. Maybe have a date? A play date?”

    Teddie flushed and tapped his paw digits together. “Uh, I’m uh… not sure how to answer that.”

    “You can just say yes. Or no, if you don’t want to go.”

    “Well, we can’t date now anyway!” Teddie said. “You shouldn’t even be here! You know how dangerous this place is?”

    “You’re a pretty funny bear, you know?” The girl sounded disappointed. “Why are you wearing that silly costume? You’re fit for something more scary or powerful, like maybe a wendigo!”

    “I don’t want to be scary, though! I’d scare the girls like Chie-chan and Rise-chan!” Teddie argued. Then he scratched his chin and pondered. “Although Yuki-chan might be the exception.”

    “So there’s someone that might understand,” she said. “As long as you’re true to your real self, you’ll be fine!”

    This girl didn’t seem to listen to him. And what was that about a costume? Or real self? He wasn’t wearing or hiding anything. Right?

    “But… this is the real me, isn’t it?” Teddie asked. His uncertainty was in whether he asked that question to the girl or himself.

    “You don’t even know? That’s silly. Everyone at least knows something about themselves. Don’t you know what you are? What you want?”

    Teddie felt very put on, almost forgetting that he was supposed to help this girl get back home. Instead she was grilling him with uncomfortable questions. “What’s with the twenty questions!?” he snapped. “You sure like to hear yourself talk! Do YOU know who you are? Huh?!”

    “I know I want to drink blood. Which reminds me–”

    Suddenly, Teddie felt a pair of hands hold his head and shoulder in place as a pair of incisors punctured holes into his body. Between the zipperline, actually. “GAAH!”

    It lasted only a moment before he was alone on the ground floor again, and still had the bite wound on his person. “Y-You bit me!” It dawned on him that this person wasn’t actually a victim, but the victimizer. “You’re the vampire!!”

    “Yep, though don’t worry about me turning you,” she said carelessly. “Trust me, I tried. Your eyeholes don’t seem to register my hypnosis and you have no blood to drain out. You’re weird.”

    Teddie was relieved to learn that he was immune, but didn’t like the idea of having no blood. Much less being called ‘weird’. “I’m weird?! I don’t go around eating people for fun, you DA-wannabe!”

    “What’s a DA?”

    Teddie almost answered that, but realized that he knew despite feeling like he shouldn’t. So he huffed and folded his arms. “None of your business!”

    The vampire girl laughed. “You’re interesting, if only because you don’t know who you are.”

    “Of course I know who I am! I’m me! Just a bear named Teddie! That’s the real me!”

    “Real? Me? What a trife.”

    “Whoa, did your voice get deeper or something?” the vampire asked eagerly.

    Teddie’s blood (or lack thereof) froze. He didn’t say those words just now, and he wasn’t hearing things either. Slowly, he turned around, and his eyes shrunk at what he saw. A near copy of him, leering down at him with golden eyes.

    But how?! This shouldn’t-!

    “This shouldn’t be possible. Is that what you are thinking?” The other Teddie said coldly, despite his mouth-line not moving. Teddie gulped and stepped away, tripping over his feet and fell down on his backside. “The truth of the matter is pointless, as it’s unobtainable regardless. It will always be obscured by the fog you see before you. Some areas might look brighter than others, and you may fumble to grasp something in the mist, but that’s it.

    “And because you can only scratch the surface of the mysteries around you… why bother? What sense is there to yearn for a truth? Another one will just pop up in its place, in a near infinite loop. It is too stressful to think, so it is better to close your eyes and lie to yourself.”

    Teddie knew he shouldn’t argue. He had seen enough times to know where this was going, and he wasn’t sure what he was going on about anyway. But he felt personally attacked for being told to lie. He was a member of the Investigation Team. A team determined to save his home and find out why everything bad was happening in their worlds.

    “Now wait just a minute!” he shouted. “Where do you go off saying stuff like that? You must think you’re so smart using big words like that. Maybe I’m not smart, but I think hard every day! And right now, I think you’re full of it!”

    The other Teddie’s eyes narrowed. “It is the defiant actions you speak of that are the very fumbling of truth, and thus useless. You already know this, and yet you refuse to accept it. But you are not the only one. You are but one in a million, among others who also deny what is inevitable. You were just… disappointed, that you fell in line like the rest. Like those ‘fuddy-duddies’ who fight a losing battle with progress.”

    “Okay, now I know you’re making stuff up!” Teddie pointed angrily. “Never mind your cryptic bad guy allusions, but I only remember being alone here! And I never thought of Shirou-sensei and the others like that! They’re my friends!”

    “Friends that you coerced into a personal problem you had no courage to resolve on your own,” the other Teddie cooly retorted. “And would they truly still think of you if they knew you? The real you?”
    Teddie shrunk under his lookalike’s gaze. The intensity alone made him uncomfortable, like they were freakier looking than usual. But the questions made him feel especially squeamish. “I-I don’t know-”

    “Exactly. And it is that uncertainty that provides comfort. You are better off not knowing the truth than finding it out at all. At least in this middle ground you understand that your friends accept you as you are, for now.”

    At that moment, there was no castle. No girl that he tried to look for. Just him and his mirror self, overwhelming him with a sense of vertigo.

    “But if they knew the truth? That your current form is just a shape to deny your nature? That you are literally a shell of a past life, formed from regret and bitterness? That you had no lost memories at all?”

    “Shu-shut up…”

    “Shall I spell it out for you, ‘Teddie Kuma’?” The lookalike sneered with mocking. “You are but a mere-”

    “SHADDUP!”

    He rushed to attack, make him stop before he said anymore, but then he was casually swatted aside. Or rather, the action was swatting, but it felt like a boulder-sized fist crushed through the part of his body that was bitten and something was gushing out of him. Blood? Air? Or was it… some black ooze that filled his body up?

    Regardless, Teddie collapsed on the floor with no strength left inside him. A familiar sensation crept over him as a cloud of darkness surrounded the figure, and Teddie’s own eyes became heavy as he lost consciousness. The last thing he heard was the vampire girl’s voice commenting on the whole development.

    “I think I can work with this…”

    <><><>

    “After that, she drank me dry and tossed me aside while ordering the other me around like a butler.”

    Chie broke the silence with the only words anyone could think to say. “Oh, Teddie…”

    No one said a word until the end of Teddie’s story. It wasn’t groundbreaking or revealing at first glance, but it revealed that even the bear was insecure about himself. The evidence was all there in hindsight, but he’d had his Shadow moment.

    Part of the problem was because of them. Even now he was still afraid to admit to them what he was or might be. Shirou had a faint idea what that might be… but he decided it wasn’t important. If Teddie didn’t want them to know, then that was his business, not theirs.

    There was some truth to his Shadow’s words, ironically enough. One can’t grasp at every bit of truth they want and hope for the best. It comes out when it’s ready, and that usually comes in confronting it. But if Teddie ever needed to confront that part of him, the hurdle of the Shadow needed to be dealt with first.


    Speaking of which… holy hell, was Fuji-nee still holding the giant Shadow back?!

    “Just what the devil are you, woman? Shadow Teddie droned. He had been throwing swipes and spells left and right but she parried them with finesse. Her dress suffered minor scratches and frost chippings that were starting to melt from room temperature, but she looked smug and confident. Her heightened breathing was due to adrenaline from her fighting rather than exhaustion.

    She posed with her left side facing the Shadow, an action her Persona Kaihime mimicked beside her. “I’m the woman who is feared in Inaba and Fuyuki alike! Wielding the cursed sword Torashinai, I am the Tiger of Fuyuki! Taiga Fujimura! And with the power of my Stand Kaihime, I’m gonna kick your stuffing!”

    “My god, she knows JoJo,” Yosuke whispered in awe. The girls were more impressed by her boasting the name reference, and Kanji was chuckling to himself.

    Shirou, on the other hand, was embarrassed and worried. If she had enough sass to do an act like that, then she might actually be running on fumes after all. Or attempt something crazy soon. “Oooookay, I think now’s a good time to jump in before she really hurts herself,” Shirou said.

    “You’d… still fight?” Teddie asked slowly. “I guess that makes sense, if only to save Tiger-chan.”

    “We’re helping you too, Teddie,” Shirou insisted.

    “Yeah, to help you get through whatever… this is,” Rise added. The others nodded. Even the fox.

    “B-But… I don’t even know who I am,” he said dejectedly. “What use does a liar bear like me have?”

    Shirou smiled and gently rubbed Teddie’s now flat head. “You’re our friend, Teddie. That’s enough for now.”

    Teddie was so moved that his eyes glistened with tears. “Shirou-sensei!”

    With a grunt of slightly aching muscles, Shirou turned to his team. “Come on, guys! Let’s help Fuji-nee!”

    With the team motivated, Kanji answered for all of them as he flexed his arm with an elbow curl. “Hell yeah, let’s kick some stuffing!” And they rushed over to join the fight.

    Teddie watched them from the flank, still supported on Tama’s back, softly crying. “Good luck, guys.”


  5. #445
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Well, that was different . . .

    Once again, I have to commend you on how well you handle characterisations: Taiga is syllable-perfect, and while I've never enjoyed seeing Sacchin as a villain (it makes sense, I just have a soft spot for her), you write her chillingly well. The action works out well, too, balancing the actions of Persona and wielder such that I can see it happening.

    Beyond that, my only real complaint is that there wasn't more of it.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  6. #446
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Huh. I remember reading this years ago, but it took me binge reading far too late last night to read everything. Good writing, and good characterization, with Sacchin coming out of nowhere for things! Thanks for the story, man.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

    I write like Douglas Adams. Proof: http://iwl.me/s/696f37bd

  7. #447
    Fate/Reach Out
    Chapter 46: Bleeding Hearts


    This is it; she had realized. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.

    Taiga had never felt more alive until this moment. She had pushed herself to be stronger, as a dedicated kendoka, and did have her share of thrills from her grandfather’s “business”. But she had plateaued. Peaked. There was no struggle in her life anymore aside from the boredom of grading papers and house sitting. Didn’t even have willing students that looked up to her.

    But now she was facing a giant mutant bear to a standstill, being the only thing between him and a gaggle of kids. Kids she had personally trained. Kids she felt responsible for. Kids that she’d damn well keep safe until this whole murder mystery case was closed.

    Her Shadow had been right. She wanted to accomplish something in her life. She just didn’t know what she wanted to accomplish outside of teaching. But Taiga knew then and there that this was what she needed to be. Their teacher. Their shifu. Their sensei. Their big, violent protective tiger that was ready to maul down anything in their way.

    “Fuji-nee! We’re coming!”

    But trust that thick-headed Shirou to rush in and ruin it for her. It was okay when he stood in front of danger, but not anyone else. Especially not her.

    Taiga smirked and rolled her shoulder, loosening her joints and ignoring the numbing pain from some close calls earlier. “Nah, you kids just hang back. I got this guy on the ropes.”

    “You are as bold as you are foolish,” Shadow Teddie said. “Whether it’s one Persona or a hundred, you can’t hope to defeat me. And yet you make this harder for yourselves by dueling me?”

    “I got this far on my own, didn’t I?” she quipped back. With a smirk, she dashed to the Shadow, ignoring the surprised gasps from her peanut gallery.

    To his credit, Shadow Teddie swung his arm to try and swat her, but she ducked and slid down on the floor just under the limb. Stopping just short of his body, she leaped and swung her shinai quickly in a three-hit combo. Kaihime leaped high enough to slam down in a finishing slash, pushing the bear further away.

    That last attack definitely did some damage. He couldn’t keep up with her hardened battle senses. So seeing a chance to finish this quickly, she swung her shinai more and more. Kaihime joined in the assault, creating a whirlwind of blades to hack down the Shadow.

    It actually forced the Shadow to jump back. The resounding stomp of his landing caused all but Taiga to wobble in their footing. Naturally, she saw him backing away as a win. “Had enough?”

    “Indeed,” the Shadow answered. “No more games. Ultra Charge.”

    A surge of electric-blue energy flared around the Shadow, focused mostly on his claws. The eerie blue glow darkened to a shade of vermillion as it condensed into a ball like a miniature sun before darkening to a black hole. Shadow Teddie raised his claw high, further winding up the power of this new move with an intent to end the fight.

    It blew Shadow Rise’s Megidola out of the water from the sheer pressure it was expelling.

    Rise was done scanning with Himiko. She raised the visor slowly over her head, her complexion as pale as a sheet. “If that hits us,” she said slowly. “We’ll be paste on the wall.”

    Shirou balked and cried out, “Fuji-nee!”

    “Just stay back!” she yelled back. “I got this!” Taiga rushed Shadow Teddie once again without looking back, unleashing the same intense combo that pushed him back before.

    Except the Shadow shouldered through the barrage. The seconds dwindled in agonizing length as it came down to a test of endurance. Could Taiga push through? Or would the Shadow finish his attack?

    “Nihil Claw.”

    Finally, he swung his arm in a haymaker towards the side of her body. Both swords bounced off it, allowing the palm blast to hit her hard enough to send her flying and screaming. Kaihime vanished from Taiga’s lapse of focus. The shockwave alone was daunting and would have knocked the rest of the team out too if not for them staying out of harm’s way.

    “Fuji-nee!” Shirou cried, immediately rushing over to catch her. Seeing she was too far away and moving too quickly for him to do that normally, he summoned Izanagi to cross the distance and intercept her. He and the others arrived over to her moments later. “Are you okay?”

    “Uuh,” she groaned weakly in the God Persona’s arms. A stark contrast to her earlier bravado. “Come on, Nekochan, don’t cut me off yet. Just one more glass?”

    Well, she was blurting out non-sequiturs now. She was alive at least.

    “Do you see now?” The Shadow taunted. “All ventures to truth lead to pain and defeat. So just surrender and accept death as your only escape.”
    That threat might have gotten to them… if not for his staggered stance. Taiga was no slouch in the power department, and she made sure he got his just desserts.

    “All that and she couldn’t stop him in time,” Chie lamented. “We might really be out of our element here guys.”

    “She had the right idea, though,” Shirou said as he laid her down. “That attack he used took up all his concentration to do. Even though it affected the whole area, we were fine as we were guarding through it.”

    “Yeah, and he was a sitting duck that whole time,” Yosuke thought aloud. “So the next time he does that move, we either stay back and guard again—”

    “Or go all out,” Kanji finished. “My kind of fight.”

    “Let’s not rush this though,” Shirou warned. “He’s weakened and cornered, but likely to pull off some desperation move. Wouldn’t be the first time a Shadow his size tried that.”

    “That’s what we’ve been training for, isn’t it?” Yukiko asked rhetorically. She leveled her Persona card on her fan, concentrating before making her summon cut. “Let’s end this.”

    Konohana Sakuya burst into the scene with petals and glass. Right away she pelted the bear with her strongest Agilao and singed his fur.

    “Scatter!” Shirou ordered, and the team dispersed in different directions. They each summoned their Persona in tandem. Yosuke conjured winds to whip up whatever embers lingered, while Kanji and Chie rushed in from the same angle to strike with their weapons. Rise stayed behind with Yukiko, committed to her sensory role.

    Shirou decided now was the time to switch Personas. It’d become almost second nature when he drew new Personas to use, and found two new ones from the Shadows that they had slain on the way here. “It’s your turn, Oukuninushi!”

    The ruler Persona arrived kneeling in front of his summoner. He was a pale, fair-skinned man with hair as black as night, with long bangs and the back end tied in loops. He wore silver chainmail over his white hakama, and a large sword strapped to his back. His yellow eyes snapped open, he rose upright, and with both hands, he unsheathed and swung his sword overhead, crying out, “Blade of Fury!”

    Between the magic and the sudden kill rushes, Shadow Teddie was truly taken aback when a flurry of slashes nicked him three times in succession. He was truly starting to get winded. “But… how?” he asked softly, for the first time aghast. “How do you still have the strength to move towards a futile goal?”

    “Saving another person’s life is never futile,” Shirou answered, willing his Persona for another attack. This time Shadow Teddie was on the defensive, parrying the sword with his claws.

    “Even if you win today, how can you be sure your actions will mean anything later?” The Shadow argued. He was starting to be pushed back from the blade duel, and could feel projectiles of elemental energy hit him. “Nothing is certain but pain and suffering. Anything you do—Everything you do is futile!”
    Oukuninushi chuckled between blows. “Oh, I’m no stranger to pain and suffering. But every action has a reaction, and a seed can just as well bloom and grow as it can wither and die. The only futile action is to do nothing because of the fear of death.”

    He suddenly swung hard enough to ricochet Shadow Teddie’s claw back, leaving him wide open. “And if my partner wants to brave the dangers for what he believes in, I’m more than willing to guide him to his goal.”

    “Kanji, follow my lead!”

    “On it, senpai!”

    Shadow Teddie could do nothing as Oukuninushi vaulted over him and pierced his head with a sword plunge. Take-Mikazuchi appeared a moment later to thrust down his thunderbolt in the same vicinity of the Shadow’s head. As the ruler Persona leaped back to safety and held his hand out towards the blade, the thunder god Persona twisted his clenched fists with jolts and bashed his sword between them. They cast their spells at the same time.

    ““Zionga!””

    Thick blue bolts surged from above and down on the Shadow, barely a foot apart from one another. The electric spells surged through the conduit of the makeshift lightning rods. Shadow Teddie roared in pain as it felt its inner darkness get fried and light up from pure energy. When the attack ended, he collapsed on the floor with a deafening thud, face down and arms limp.

    This had to be it, Shirou thought. With all the damage Fuji-nee and the others threw at him, the Shadow had to be beaten into compliance now. He could see black-red particles evaporating from his body. Just a little more…

    The Shadow grunted in pain, turning his head before he lifted his paw. Directed at Shirou. “N-Nullity…”

    Uh oh. Those were prana sparks!

    “Guidance!”

    In a split second, Shirou saw the space in front of him crack and ripple as blood-red energy threatened to engulf him. It was similar to the Shadow’s previous attack in nature but focused on a single point.

    But just before it could detonate, his body was shoved forcefully to the side, hurling him far and away from the danger.

    And then it exploded upon the person who’d taken his place with the shock and sound of a cannon. Clothes were shredded, blood splattered, gravel cracked underfoot… It was a surefire kill shot at point blank range.

    “Fuji-nee!”

    And yet despite that, Taiga Fujimura stood firm. Her body seemed to move on its own as she summoned Kaihime back. The princess Persona flickered past the bear, sword drawn. Then, she slowly sheathed the blade in a tense, stretched moment.

    The behemoth Shadow seemed aware of what had happened, and was in shock and awe. He barely had time to utter his thoughts aloud. “Impossible.”

    As the sword clicked in place, a thick cross-shaped gash tore into the Shadow’s already exposed head, and the force of the attack ruptured it. His face exploded for a lack of a better term, but the resounding death cry still filled the room even as his body disintegrated. It was over. Shadow Teddie had been slain.

    Shirou recovered, caring not for the spectacle of the fading red dust. Instead, he rushed over to his guardian. Kaihime vanished as her consciousness faded, and he barely caught Taiga as she slumped forward. “Fuji-nee! Hey, Fuji-nee!”

    There were a few open wounds and blood was seeping out, but they looked shallow. She coughed loudly, a few drops of blood spilling out her mouth. She looked like hell and was slumping in his arms. Her breath was light, and she rasped out one sentence:

    “Okay… I’ve had enough, Nekochan.”

    Shirou sighed in exasperated relief, too tired to laugh. Another Taiga Fujimura sequitur.

    <><><>

    When the smoke cleared and everyone caught their collected breaths, all that was left was to handle the now docile Shadow of Teddie. There was no rush as he wasn’t moving or talking, and stared blankly at them. With the lack of blinking eyes, he might as well be a statue. Yukiko and Rise tried to ignore that as they patched up their unconscious trainer with one of Tama’s leaves. The others stood firm and watched it like a hawk, just in case.

    The original Teddie stared back too, but with a frown etched on his features. It was like he was waiting for something, to break this fragile moment. Shirou walked up to his side, thinking he needed some emotional support. He didn’t know what to say, but he would help his friend regardless.

    Teddie gulped. “Is… Is Taiga-chan okay?” he asked, still staring at his Shadow.

    “She’s been through worse,” Shirou assured him. Granted, he was worried for her too, but she was safe now and the immediate danger was over.

    “That’s good,” Teddie nodded. “So, what happens now?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Do I… accept myself? Move on from my hiccups and hope I get a Persona like you guys?”

    Could Teddie get a Persona? That was a question the others on the team had never thought to ask. They just accepted at face value that he knew parts of the world and was their guide/client. He didn’t have problems like theirs because they were actively helping to fix his world. But his issues of self-identity ran deeper than they could have imagined.

    “Do you want a Persona?” Shirou asked.

    Teddie stiffened, turning to his role model. “W-well… it should be more of a matter that I deserve one than wanting one!”

    “I told you before, didn’t I? You’re our friend, Teddie. And friends help each other. You’ve wanted to prove yourself and I think you’re more than deserving of one at this point.”

    “So… even if I don’t really want to find out who I am, that’s okay?”

    Shirou raised an eyebrow. “But I thought you wanted to find out who you are.”

    “I did, but… I’m scared of what I might find out. Or rather, remember,” Teddie’s flattened head creased as he stared down to the floor, and he poked his crippled fingers together. “Maybe there is no big answer to my mystery. Maybe I lived here all my life. Maybe I’m better off alone.”

    Man, this was worse than Shirou had first realized. Maybe it was no surprise after all that Teddie had a Shadow outbreak. Anyone would have a mental breakdown in real life with stress piling up and no answers.

    The magus scratched the back of his head, racking his brain for a suitable reply. “Uh… If you want to stop looking for answers, then I suppose you are free to do so. Some moments of our past might be better off hidden, after all.” He spoke from experience as the night of the Fuyuki fire never seemed to stop haunting him. “But you’re wrong about one thing, Teddie. You’re not alone.”

    “Huh?”

    “You have us,” he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder to the rest of the team. They were sitting back, resting, and not so subtly listening to the conversation going on just a few feet in front of them. “Whenever you need help or to figure something out, we’ll chip in.”

    Teddie looked back, surprised by the smiling faces of the Investigation Team. It started out small with just three kids stumbling into his world like the victims before them. But with each rescue, the group grew and things were less bleak. They weren’t just helpers that agreed to save his world. They were his friends.

    He couldn’t help but sniffle, feeling his eyes water. “Y-You guys…” he fought the urge to sob… badly. “I-I’m such a lucky bear to meet you all! WHAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!”

    A light stirred behind Teddie, causing the gang to flinch. Teddie hiccupped, worried what his Shadow would do for his crybaby act.

    But to everyone’s surprise, Shadow Teddie transmogrified. In simple terms, the new form was a stout, round orb with arms and a cape, resembling a robotic Teddie. In fact, the figure shared a lot of Teddie’s colors. A blue cape fluttered, tied around the Persona’s small, hood-like head. The body was mostly red chrome metal with yellow painted markings. The chest area doubled as a hatch with the twist handle where the navel would be. Four small white limbs popped out of socket-like holes with layered leather, and the hands held aloft a white tomahawk missile.

    And then as quickly as it appeared, the robotic Persona morphed again into the familiar shape of a card that slipped into the subconscious. Teddie’s subconscious.

    “It’s… a Persona,” Teddie gasped. “My Persona!”

    “Congrats, man!” Yosuke grinned with a thumbs-up. “You’re part of the headliners now!”

    “Hell yeah! One more to stick it to the vampire!” Kanji added, jumping up and slapping the bear hard on his back.

    “WHAA!” Teddie cried and fell down face-first with a thud. He was still flat as paper, after all.

    “Kanji-kun!” “Moronji!” The girls chided him almost immediately. The young punk-looking teen winced and sweated from their ire.

    “You see?” Shirou smiled and pulled the bear upright. “You’ve been on the team the whole time. It’s just more official now.”

    “Officially on the team,” Teddie repeated to himself. He turned to the girls with hope in his eyes. “Does… does that mean I get to score with you girls then?” he asked eagerly.

    For a moment no one said anything. Rise recovered first and flushed, looking anywhere but at him. “Wh-what? You can’t ask a girl like that so suddenly, Teddie!”

    Chie boomed with laughter, more amazed by his question than anything else. She was just so relieved that he was gonna be okay. “Sure, why not?!” she giggled.

    Yukiko’s face, however, dropped to an expression between anger, pity and exhaustion. “Don’t encourage him,” she pleaded.

    Teddie only heard Chie’s response and that was enough to embolden him. He leaped up and landed on Yosuke’s shoulders, pointing his flimsy arm to the sky. He knew he looked cool in his pose, nevermind his sensei grunting or holding his legs steady. “It’s settled then! I’ll help you beat the vampire out of my home and yours, or my name isn’t Kintoki-Douji!”

    Kanji blinked. “But… your name’s not Kintoki-Douji.”

    “It’s the name of my Persona, Kanji,” Teddie deadpanned. “You know, ‘he is me’, ‘I am he’? Thou thy thou, Persona? It’s common sense!”

    “I bet you just made that up anyway!” Kanji snapped and pointed angrily. “I’ve read the story about Kintoki. He was a warrior guardian for children and had a tomahawk for a weapon!”

    “So does my Kintoki!"

    “Nuh uh! Yours has a missile!”

    Teddie’s smushed-up face still managed to make a smug expression as he uttered, “A tomahawk missile.”

    Everyone stared gobsmacked at the bear as they realized the truth of his words. And how it truly represented a part of his soul. Even his weapons were weaponized puns.

    Yukiko’s cheeks puffed. A chuckle escaped. Finally, she doubled over laughing like a hyena. “Hahahahahahaaaaahahahaaaa!”

    “Oh god, even Teddie is making her laugh now,” Chie said.

    “You got to admit,” Shirou smiled. “It is pretty funny.”

    “I knew you would get my genius, Shirou-sensei!” Teddie beamed.

    “You didn’t actually create the way your Persona looked though, did you?” Rise asked.

    “W-Well… subconscious thinking is more profound! Only men would understand!”

    “Hey, yeah! That’s true!” Kanji nodded vigorously. Rise gave him and Teddie dubious looks and sighed.

    While everyone else was talking animatedly, Yosuke was stuck still holding Teddie on his shoulders for some reason. Annoyed, he looked down to the floor. “I wonder if a drop from this height would be enough to shut him up.”

    <><><>

    “Aww, they’re leaving already?! Just when it was getting good!”

    She didn’t mind that her glorified teddy bear butler had been defeated. She wanted to fight the kids herself after all, and it would have been boring if they lost at the first boss. Not that she wouldn’t have minded that he actually came out on top, but she knew Yosuke and the guys weren’t going to be easy to beat.

    Whether it was cowardice or strategy, they opted to leave after the fight. Probably helped that the fight took them to the front door and one of their fighters was nearly KOed (Killed Off). The bear was also converted to their side now.

    “Ah well. At least it wasn’t a total wash. Got to see how they turn Shadows into Personas.”

    One way was to defeat the untamed Shadow and convert the soul within. That was how Emiya managed to get that Oukuninushi shade from a skirmish earlier. The other way was to beat their own Shadow back to compliance and… talk to it? Acceptance? The bear was more talking to his friends than his Shadow so it was hard to tell if that counted or not. And it didn’t feel as natural as the other Shadows here.

    It was different from the other Shadows, anyway. But weren’t all Shadows different? Like how humans were different?

    The doors boomed open as someone stomped into the throne room. “Sis!”

    She looked up to her guest/brother. “Oh, Mitsy. How are you?”

    “Terrible,” he grounded out. “It’s bad enough that we’re hiding here in this dump, eating scraps we find in chests… god, it feels like we’re in a rogue-like game.”

    “You’ll get used to it,” she told him. And if he didn’t naturally, she’d force it one way or another. “We’re on the lam, remember? So just hold out until it’s time to make another heroic act.”

    “I’m trying, but…” Mitsuo sighed. “Sis, when are you going to get rid of… that?”

    “That what?”

    “You know, that… that thing!”

    “What thing?”

    “The ugly freak pretending to be me!”

    She adopted a sad look but inwardly she was excited. His refusal to work with said “thing” was just going to make it stronger. Perfect as a stage two boss for her intruders. And when all was said and done, they’d have their own Persona user.

    “Mitsy, you know that’s not nice to call other people names,” she chided. “You don’t like it when people do that to you, do you?”

    Mitsuo shook in anger, dismayed that his sister would say such a thing. “Th-That’s different! He’s mocking me by saying all this nihilist crap like how much I suck!”

    “The chicken or the egg, Mitsy? Which came first?”

    “Huh?!”

    “Never mind.” Sometimes it was easy to forget that Mitsuo Kubo was so simple-minded he didn’t understand hints, let alone cause and effect. Being mad at himself was fine, if he could bounce back from it later. “Just, try to keep an open mind when around him. For me.”

    The last part she threw in as a precaution, but it always worked before with Mitsy. The simple-mindedness helped in keeping her reins on him, if only for short bursts so he wasn’t a mindless thrall.

    He was lost staring into her eyes for what felt like an eternity. After trying and failing to think what else to say, Mitsuo clicked his teeth and stomped out of the throne room. Just because she implanted the suggestion on him didn’t mean he was going to accept it without being mad.

    As he left, she smiled and whispered, “I’m counting on you Mitsy. Both of you.”

    <><><>

    July 17th, Junes Shopping Mall

    After the fighting, it was pretty much unanimous for everyone to take a break. Even Teddie agreed that he wanted some alone time for once, trying to recoup his lost body mass and fur. By doing pull-ups.

    Shirou didn’t question it, as he had to make sure the sleeping tiger on his back was delivered home and without incident. The rest of the night passed without incident, and the group was forced back into their daily lives to rest before tackling the castle again.

    Luckily there was a two-day weekend break, and the rain was going to let up on the morning of the first day. Everyone had plans for their days off: Chie studying with her fellow athletes, Yukiko working at her inn, Rise hanging out with her bandmate, and Kanji filling in for some daycare job. Yosuke normally would have been on a date with his girlfriend, but… the less said about that the better. Even Yosuke knew what was the likely outcome. But for his friend’s sake, Shirou decided to avoid addressing the elephant in the room as long as possible.

    Which led them to having a nice slow day exploring Junes. Or rather, doing the rounds of the store for what needs an assistant’s help, and being called as a last-second temp for some coworkers that ditched. It was interesting to see how varied the job was, and Shirou took mental notes of Yosuke’s actions for when he might tackle a similar job.

    Even in the crowded store full of people bustling and shopping, they could hear distinct squeaking boots pass them by. “Hi Shirou-sensei! Hi Yosuke!”

    ““Hi Teddie,”” they chorused as they walked by. Their next stop was the electronics store to check up on Teddie who just walked up and played with the customers’ kids—

    They doubled back to the fit and round bear walking around in the real world as if yesterday never happened. ““TEDDIE?!””

  8. #448
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Well, your characterisations remain excellent and entertaining - but given some of your music choices, I'm now wondering if your waiting for Red Garden's release before revealing Sacchin in all her villainous glory, so you can see what she's like "officially" first.

    Nevertheless, I remain on pins and needles (or should that be "fangs and claws . . .?") for what happens next. Perhaps another check-in on Marie . . .? Or just the Velvet Room in general, really - it's been a while, as I recall.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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