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  1. Naoto: What follows are my impressions of the...organization called the Shadow Operatives,...as well as their leader, Mitsuru Kirijo
  2.  
  3. My fingers fly across the keyboard
  4.  
  5. My last case was... special
  6.  
  7. I need to complete my report before I forget any important details
  8.  
  9. My name is Naoto Shirogane
  10.  
  11. I'm a detective
  12.  
  13. The Shirogane family has been working as detectives for generations
  14.  
  15. Though I'm young and still in high school, I have been given the opportunity to take on several cases and have built up experience as a detective
  16.  
  17. My work has earned me some trust, as every so often the police will come to me for my assistance
  18.  
  19. That's where this story begins: a sudden request from the Inaba Police Department
  20.  
  21. That was about a month ago--early April
  22.  
  23. Last summer, I had received a request from the prefectural police to come to the town of Inaba
  24.  
  25. A bizarre series of murders was occurring: A corpse would turn up every morning after a foggy night
  26.  
  27. In the end, it turned out to be the most difficult case of my career It's been about two weeks since that case was closed
  28.  
  29. No... From the public's viewpoint, four months have passed since the crimes were stopped
  30.  
  31. The culprit has been arrested and prosecuted Peace has returned, but to return there is a depressing proposition
  32.  
  33. I'm not unwilling to help the police again, but...
  34.  
  35. My involvement with the previous case is not something I'd like to go through again
  36.  
  37. To be completely honest, that particular case was no simple series of murders
  38.  
  39. During the course of my investigation, I obtained a supernatural power known as my "Persona," making me more than just a detective
  40.  
  41. I collaborated with other "Persona-users" and became directly involved with the events of the case
  42.  
  43. Of course, if I was to tell this to the police, it would be treated as nonsense
  44.  
  45. Worst-case scenario: I would be discredited
  46.  
  47. Having to leave out those details while explaining the events of the case is more than a little nerve-wracking and feels like lying, but there you have it
  48.  
  49. While on my way to the police department for this new case, I go through a list of possible questions and answers I would need
  50.  
  51. ...Something's different today, though
  52.  
  53. After greeting the receptionist, I'm not led to the usual dull meeting room Instead, I'm taken to a reception area on the top floor
  54.  
  55. A leather-trimmed sofa, a curved wooden table...
  56.  
  57. A nouveaux riche setting...
  58.  
  59. Naoto: *sigh* Looks like this may take some time...
  60.  
  61. If this was just going to be paperwork and basic questioning, they wouldn't have brought me to this special room
  62.  
  63. Is it a new case?
  64.  
  65. I have to wait several minutes before someone comes to speak with me
  66.  
  67. When the door finally opens, a man wearing a suit--not fitting the uniform of a local officer--walks in...
  68.  
  69. Man in SuitmkoI'm sorry about the wait
  70.  
  71. He hands me his card...
  72.  
  73. Man in SuitmkoAllow me to introduce myself
  74.  
  75. His card has a lengthy title: "National Police Agency, Security Bureau: Security Planning Division"
  76.  
  77. I was shocked
  78.  
  79. They're more commonly known as the "Public Safety Police"
  80.  
  81. The Security Planning Division is the command center for departments that handle terrorist threats, coup d'etat plots, and foreign affairs
  82.  
  83. The "Secret Police" also belong to this group
  84.  
  85. Why would a person of this importance come all the way to a rural locale like this...?
  86.  
  87. I look him in the eyes He appears to be measuring me up...
  88.  
  89. Public Safety Officer: I see you're enough on the ball that you don't...need a lengthy introduction Good
  90.  
  91. Without any further talk, the man gets to his point...Public Safety Officer: Have you heard of the Kirijo Group?Naoto: I doubt there are many who haven't...Public Safety Officer: I'll get right to the point We'd like to...hire you to perform a sub rosa investigation...on them...Naoto: You need a corporation quietly investigated?...Why me? I don't see what I can do that your...own department cannot...Public Safety Officer: I would agree... if Shadows and Personas...weren't involved...Naoto: ......!
  92.  
  93. This time I'm unable to hide my surprise
  94.  
  95. But the man continues, either failing to see or purposefully ignoring my reaction...
  96.  
  97. Public Safety Officer: One summer twelve years ago, there was an...explosion at the Kirijo-owned Tatsumi Port...Island, killing over 50 people...
  98.  
  99. Public Safety Officer: You would've been very young at the time...
  100.  
  101. Naoto: I've reviewed that case The official...explanation was that a gas main leaked...during a construction project...Naoto: Afterwards, though, a bizarre rumor saw...quite a bit of circulation...Public Safety Officer: The mass media noticed that there was a...suspiciously large number of researchers...amongst the casualties...Public Safety Officer: They floated the theory that the official...explanation was a lie, and that the explosion...was really caused by some dubious experiment...Naoto: No concrete evidence was ever found to support...those claims, though As I recall, the matter...was left unsettled...Naoto: Some may still remember the incident, though I...don't think many could recall the finer points...Public Safety Officer: Those rumors were all true
  102.  
  103. His voice becomes firm...
  104.  
  105. Naoto: What...?
  106.  
  107. Public Safety Officer: Those researchers under Kouetsu Kirijo, the...old Kirijo Group manager, were working on...harnessing the power of Shadows...
  108.  
  109. Public Safety Officer: The experiment went awry, and they lost control of the Shadows... That's what caused the explosion...
  110.  
  111. Naoto: Experiments using Shadows!? They lost control!?
  112.  
  113. Naoto: Are you saying the Shadows flooded the city--the real world!?
  114.  
  115. Public Safety Officer: I can't speak to that There was no way of...getting hard answers back then No one took...the spooky stories seriously...
  116.  
  117. Public Safety Officer: But that accident got the government and the...police's attention Though they didn't launch...an investigation until a year or two ago
  118.  
  119. That couldn't be helped
  120.  
  121. Law can only preside over the world as we know it
  122.  
  123. Things that can't be explained can't be governed...
  124.  
  125. Public Safety Officer: Only those in the Kirijo Group know exactly...what happened and how much of the aftermath...was dealt with...
  126.  
  127. Naoto: The aftermath...?
  128.  
  129. That word has a bad ring to it
  130.  
  131. It brings to mind a cover-up of some dark secret...
  132.  
  133. Public Safety Officer: Their cleanup efforts continued until quite...recently They were using some method known...only to them, entirely behind our backs...
  134.  
  135. Public Safety Officer: We think they've been conducting illegal...activities in the ten years since then while...hiding behind their "cleanup efforts"
  136.  
  137. Naoto: And you wish for me to confirm this?
  138.  
  139. Public Safety Officer: Not only do you have a relationship with us, you have a Persona, and extensive experience in the field...
  140.  
  141. Public Safety Officer: We can't think of a better candidate...
  142.  
  143. Naoto: And since I'm not directly affiliated with...the police, if I were to be caught in a trap,...it wouldn't lead back to you...
  144.  
  145. Public Safety Officer: If that's the way you want to put it
  146.  
  147. My reply was meant to be sarcastic, but this conversation is exceptionally draining
  148.  
  149. I must applaud Public Safety
  150.  
  151. They know everything about anybody they choose to investigate
  152.  
  153. There's no point in trying to bargain with them
  154.  
  155. He continues explaining indifferently, as if able to sense my resignation...
  156.  
  157. Public Safety Officer: Last year, in conjunction with the Kirijo Group, we established an unofficial department in the force, nicknamed the "Shadow Operatives"
  158.  
  159. Public Safety Officer: It's a special unit capable of dealing with...Shadow-related cases...
  160.  
  161. Naoto: This is news to my ears...
  162.  
  163. Naoto: That's a rather bold move You went so far as...to join forces with the ones you suspect of...illicit activities?
  164.  
  165. Public Safety Officer: That's exactly why we did it We must keep a leash on them by integrating them into the system...
  166.  
  167. Naoto: But the police are far behind information-wise...Officially, you are higher on the chain of...command, but less so in practice
  168.  
  169. I try throwing out a theory as I begin to get a grasp on what's taking place
  170.  
  171. The man didn't so much as flinch, but he didn't give me much of an answer either...
  172.  
  173. Naoto: You'd need some leverage to keep your hold...on them Thus, this secret investigation...What exactly do you want me to do?
  174.  
  175. Public Safety Officer: That will depend on your answer
  176.  
  177. So that's their game plan I figured as much
  178.  
  179. An organization as big as the Kirijo Group is hiding the secret about Shadows...
  180.  
  181. Now, should I take the job or not?
  182.  
  183. As a person with Persona abilities, I'm naturally interested in learning how much is known about the Shadows
  184.  
  185. And this job could potentially give me leverage over the government in the future
  186.  
  187. While I'm deep in thought, the man continues, as if he can read my mind...
  188.  
  189. Public Safety Officer: If you think we're hiring you to further...our organization, you're mistaken
  190.  
  191. I can't help but look up at the obvious change in his tone...
  192.  
  193. Public Safety Officer: Our sources say it's possible that they've been...talking students from the Kirijo-owned school...into doing their dirty work...
  194.  
  195. Public Safety Officer: They've been pleading ignorance while making...ordinary kids clean up whatever messes...they've left...
  196.  
  197. Public Safety Officer: And that, we don't forgive We're supposed...to be upholding the law We can't overlook...things like this
  198.  
  199. He's surprisingly sincere
  200.  
  201. He's staring right at me Unlike up until now, his eyes are strong and bold; he truly doesn't want anyone innocent to suffer
  202.  
  203. Of course, this could be an act to convince me, but even then, I do agree with that opinion
  204.  
  205. All that remains is to find out Kirijo's intentions...
  206.  
  207. Naoto: All right In that case, I accept...
  208.  
  209. Naoto: Though I don't plan on abandoning my school...life here I'll do what I can to help, but only...within those limits
  210.  
  211.  I would never have dictated conditions like this before
  212.  
  213. But the reason I had come to this town and transferred to Yasogami High School was all for my investigation
  214.  
  215. But the school life and the dear friends that I've gained have become irreplaceable to me
  216.  
  217. It may sound childish to demand that I stay with my friends, but if they refuse to budge in that regard, that's that
  218.  
  219. However--
  220.  
  221. Public Safety Officer: That's fine with us
  222.  
  223. He accepts my condition... almost too easily He then immediately begins to explain the details of the case...
  224.  
  225. Public Safety Officer: At the end of this month, the Kirijo Group is...airlifting some special cargo...
  226.  
  227. Public Safety Officer: Kirijo has asked our help in making sure the cargo is transported safely...
  228.  
  229. Public Safety Officer: We'd like you to accompany them as a police observer...
  230.  
  231. Naoto: What do they mean, "transported safely"?
  232.  
  233. Public Safety Officer: A police escort, assurance of no public...investigation if any unforeseen situation...were to arise... things like that...
  234.  
  235. Public Safety Officer: Of course, if anything does happen, we will hold them responsible...
  236.  
  237. Naoto: And what is this special cargo?
  238.  
  239. Public Safety Officer: It's something to do with the Shadow research...They've admitted that much, but we don't know...the exact details...
  240.  
  241. Public Safety Officer: According to our research, it's most likely...something from the old Ergonomics research...laboratory Classified as risk level 4...
  242.  
  243. Public Safety Officer: In other words, even though it's sealed up...tight, it's extremely dangerous
  244.  
  245. They even have a risk scale for something like this...
  246.  
  247. It seems that Kirijo's research goes into a variety of different things...
  248.  
  249. Public Safety Officer: Also...
  250.  
  251. As I'm thinking, the man slides a photograph to me
  252.  
  253. It's a beautiful young lady
  254.  
  255. Her eyes show a strong will, as striking as her blazing red hair
  256.  
  257. Her hair reminds me of something
  258.  
  259. I may have seen her picture while going through the documents regarding the Port Island incident
  260.  
  261. Of course, the girl in those pictures was much younger...
  262.  
  263. Public Safety Officer: This woman will be on that flight Her name is...Mitsuru Kirijo...
  264.  
  265. Naoto: Kirijo...
  266.  
  267. Public Safety Officer: She's the oldest daughter of the Kirijo family,...Kouetsu Kirijo's granddaughter It was he who...devised the experiments 12 years ago...
  268.  
  269. Public Safety Officer: You should know that she's also a powerful...Persona-user...
  270.  
  271. Naoto: ......!
  272.  
  273. A Persona-user besides us...!
  274.  
  275. I was suspecting something like this, but to hear it out loud is still shocking
  276.  
  277. So there ARE Persona-users other than those of us involved in the case last year!
  278.  
  279. Public Safety Officer: We believe she took the lead in gathering students three years ago when she was still in high school...
  280.  
  281. Public Safety Officer: We'd like you to first go to her residence...and meet with her...
  282.  
  283. Naoto: ...All right...
  284.  
  285. Public Safety Officer: I'm sure you've figured out by now, since she's...a high-ranking Kirijo Group official and a...Persona-user, but she's a Shadow Operative...
  286.  
  287. Public Safety Officer: She's member #1, the general manager......and not because she's a Kirijo, but because...she has the abilities to back it up...
  288.  
  289. Public Safety Officer: Can you do this? If she's dirty... then this...won't be easy for you...
  290.  
  291. Naoto: I already accepted your assignment, so I must...simply make the best of it
  292.  
  293. I offer my hand
  294.  
  295. He has the firm grip of someone who's worked on the front lines of the law
  296.  
  297. A few days later, I receive a message informing me that the transport is to be on the 1st of May
  298.  
  299. It's on a school day, but since I've taken the job, there's nothing I can do about it
  300.  
  301. In fact, I should be glad that this didn't overlap with the extended holiday
  302.  
  303. I haven't heard the details, but I expect to have some important arrangements during Golden Week
  304.  
  305. Arrangements to reunite with my upperclassman, Yu Narukami, who was the leader of our group during last year's incident
  306.  
  307. I keep thinking about our reunion
  308.  
  309. It's only been two weeks since he left, but it feels much longer
  310.  
  311. I suppose that goes to show how much I'm looking forward to it
  312.  
  313. ...But I'm going off-track I need to think about my new job, so I hastily pull myself together
  314.  
  315. May 1st...
  316.  
  317. The "cargo" is due to be transported from a laboratory near the Kirijo mansion
  318.  
  319. I make my way to the mansion to present myself, and end up accompanying the security detail
  320.  
  321. ...The limousine is incredibly long
  322.  
  323. Apparently, it isn't all that rare for the upper class in other countries to ride in cars this large, but it's downright comical on the tiny roads of Japan
  324.  
  325. That was where I met Mitsuru Kirijo in person...
  326.  
  327. Naoto: Nice to meet you My name is Naoto Shirogane...I'll be acting as an observer today...
  328.  
  329. Mitsuru: I've been told about you It's nice meeting you...as well I'm Mitsuru Kirijo
  330.  
  331. Her beauty is enough to attract anyone's attention
  332.  
  333. She was so much less imposing than in the picture...
  334.  
  335. Mitsuru: I didn't expect the police's observer to be...so young...
  336.  
  337. Naoto: Does that bother you?
  338.  
  339. Mitsuru: Ah, no I didn't mean to downplay your abilities...Forgive me
  340.  
  341. I took a look at Kirijo-san's face
  342.  
  343. She's the only daughter of the founding family, but it's been two years since she renounced the practice of the Kirijo Group being run by the family
  344.  
  345. In other words, she's simply the CEO's daughter now, not the heir to the company
  346.  
  347. She must be used to constant stress, being a female leader at such a young age Getting people to acknowledge her must have been a struggle
  348.  
  349. I don't need to mince my words in dealing with types like her...
  350.  
  351. I decide to cut to the chase...
  352.  
  353. Naoto: Tell me, what are the contents of your cargo?
  354.  
  355. Mitsuru: I'm ashamed to have to admit this, but since...the original researchers have passed away,...we don't know what's in it either...
  356.  
  357. Mitsuru: We can't allow the worst-case scenario for...such an item to come to pass in the middle...of a city...
  358.  
  359. Mitsuru: That's why we plan to transfer these items...to a distant facility according to their...indicated risk level
  360.  
  361. A natural decision
  362.  
  363. Her posture, her actions... If that was all an act,  I must commend her for her ability to deal with the unexpected
  364.  
  365. But personally, my impression is that she's a trustworthy person
  366.  
  367. Before leaving, I have a chance to see the Kirijo mansion I have to say that it's surprisingly simple
  368.  
  369. It wasn't just empty luxury, but something rather more rational I feel that it shows what kind of person she is
  370.  
  371. At any rate, her intelligence and presence are proof enough of her upbringing
  372.  
  373. If she was hiding something, it would be hard to figure that out...
  374.  
  375. Naoto: Then I'll stay near the cargo along with the...police escort I'll contact you immediately...if anything happens...
  376.  
  377. Mitsuru: All right If anything is unclear to you,...feel free to ask me
  378.  
  379. Her eyes look straight at me, and I feel like she could see through everything
  380.  
  381. I end our conversation shortly after, and quietly wait for us to arrive
  382.  
  383. The limousine, transport truck, and multiple security cars reach the airport without any incident
  384.  
  385. The cargo may be dangerous, but according to the records, it was kept safely in storage for the past ten years
  386.  
  387. Plus, it is worthless to the average person
  388.  
  389. Because of this, the people involved in the security don't look tense
  390.  
  391. Kirijo-san hands her servant her travel bag It's almost as if she's simply going on vacation...
  392.  
  393. Naoto: Yakushima, eh...?
  394.  
  395. The plane's destination is to one of the southern islands
  396.  
  397. I'm sure it'd be fun to go with everyone
  398.  
  399. I realize what I'm thinking, and have to laugh to myself
  400.  
  401. A year ago, I never would have considered that it would be fun to spend time with others
  402.  
  403. But I can't help but think that way now
  404.  
  405. Soon, they'll begin moving the cargo out of the truck
  406.  
  407. I clear my mind of daydreams and look back to the truck
  408.  
  409. They pass through the gate for large cargo shipments
  410.  
  411. The shipment is in imposing metal cases, but among all the other shipping containers, it doesn't attract much attention from the airport staff
  412.  
  413. It's not long before the final case is unloaded from the truck
  414.  
  415. It's obviously different from the rest; it's covered in what seems to be heavy, industrial-grade steel
  416.  
  417. It's about a meter wide and broad, and two and a half meters tall
  418.  
  419. It looks like something very special is in there, but even if someone was targeting the shipment, it would be impossible to steal that
  420.  
  421. Four men in suits slowly tip the case sideways to place it on the cart
  422.  
  423. Seeing it on its side reminds me of something
  424.  
  425. ...It looks like a coffin
  426.  
  427. The moment I realize that, a shiver runs down my spine
  428.  
  429. Hmm... It does look big enough to have room for a person to lie down in
  430.  
  431. Could there really be a person inside it...?
  432.  
  433. Could it be that this tight security is not to prevent theft, but to keep the "cargo" from escaping?
  434.  
  435. ...No How can I imagine things like this without any proof?
  436.  
  437. I shake my head to clear it of these pointless thoughts
  438.  
  439. Am I just shaken because I heard this has something to do with Shadows?
  440.  
  441. Eventually, the check-in process is complete, and the announcement to begin boarding echoes through the airport
  442.  
  443. I relax a little, relieved that nothing has happened up to this point
  444.  
  445. Once the plane takes off, the only thing in our way is the sky
  446.  
  447. I had put on an earpiece tuned to the police radio to keep up with the current situation
  448.  
  449. So far, nothing was out of the ordinary
  450.  
  451. Kirijo-san's group finished checking in and had boarded the plane; the cargo should be loaded soon
  452.  
  453. After I supervise that, I'll check in and--
  454.  
  455. Just as I think that, an urgent voice jumps onto the band...
  456.  
  457. Voice from Radio: The aircraft's squawk code has changed to 7500!
  458.  
  459. Naoto: 7500...
  460.  
  461. I have trouble mentally shifting gears after the long period of inactivity
  462.  
  463. I never imagined I would hear that number with my own ears...
  464.  
  465. Naoto: 7500!? A hijacking!?
  466.  
  467. Is the plane I'm investigating being hijacked!?
  468.  
  469. That can't be a coincidence...
  470.  
  471. But could this have been set up by the police or the Kirijo Group--?
  472.  
  473. No... There's no benefit for either of them to get involved with the general public
  474.  
  475. If that's the case...
  476.  
  477. Naoto: Is it the cargo they want...!?
  478.  
  479. There really is someone after the cargo!
  480.  
  481. ...Wait If they're after the cargo, why hijack the plane?
  482.  
  483. If they're not trying to steal the cargo, could they be after Kirijo-san?
  484.  
  485. ...No, that doesn't feel right
  486.  
  487. Hijacking isn't an efficient method to carry out a kidnapping... or an assassination
  488.  
  489. If they have the time and the resolve to pull this off, they would be far better off trying to take over the plane in mid-flight
  490.  
  491. I can't figure out their objective
  492.  
  493. Why would they do something that attracts so much attention--
  494.  
  495. --Attention?
  496.  
  497. This is a very peculiar time to attempt a takeover of the plane
  498.  
  499. Very peculiar, indeed
  500.  
  501. Hijacking before departure forfeits the biggest benefits of hijacking
  502.  
  503. But at the same time, all normal airport operations will come to a halt while everyone turns their focus on the plane in question
  504.  
  505. Ah The airport will naturally stop loading baggage onto the plane while this "hijacking" goes on...
  506.  
  507. It's the perfect distraction
  508.  
  509. So they ARE after the cargo!
  510.  
  511. Naoto: If that was the case, the hijacking is only...a decoy...
  512.  
  513. Naoto: But would they really risk their lives...hijacking a plane over one piece of cargo...?
  514.  
  515. As I think, I scan the area from my viewpoint up in the boarding area
  516.  
  517. I see a van that had been parked near the cargo area suddenly peel out...
  518.  
  519. Naoto: Huh!?
  520.  
  521. A suspicious departure at this time?
  522.  
  523. I have a bad feeling about this
  524.  
  525. But the cargo was just unloaded right in front of my eyes
  526.  
  527. I didn't see anyone steal it--
  528.  
  529. --Hold on!
  530.  
  531. The four men in suits with the hand cart!
  532.  
  533. I don't see them!
  534.  
  535. I'd lost track of them in the rush of activity after the hijack call
  536.  
  537. I grind my teeth and interrupt the radio call...
  538.  
  539. Naoto: This is 002, over A suspicious vehicle is...leaving the scene Stay in pursuit It's a...large vehicle, about two tons, license plate...
  540.  
  541. I hear someone confirm with "Roger," but there's shouting and confusion going on in the background
  542.  
  543. I'm unsure if my intentions had been understood
  544.  
  545. I run across the airport by myself
  546.  
  547. I need to grab hold of these people's tail, even if only to get a few hairs
  548.  
  549. Of course, there's no way that I can catch a vehicle on foot, but...
  550.  
  551. I have a plan
  552.  
  553. I run down the escalator and bolt for the passenger pickup area at the arrivals lobby
  554.  
  555. I looked around outside and--
  556.  
  557. There it is, just as I thought!
  558.  
  559. The suspicious vehicle was coming this way
  560.  
  561. The airport's road layout is a loop
  562.  
  563. After leaving the departure lobby, cars must take a turn and curve back around to the arrival lobby before being able to reach the surface streets
  564.  
  565. I hide in the crowd and wait for the van to get close...
  566.  
  567. ...and as it passes by, I throw a small, sticky lump at the van
  568.  
  569. Luckily for me, it strikes and sticks, low on the van's side
  570.  
  571. There's a compact transmitter in there
  572.  
  573. You'd have to be pretty close to pick up the signal, but it's better than nothing
  574.  
  575. I take my hat off and wipe my forehead
  576.  
  577. The pedestrians around me begin to stir
  578.  
  579. Everyone stops and stares at their smartphones
  580.  
  581. I didn't need to look; I knew
  582.  
  583. The first news of the hijacking is hitting the media
  584.  
  585. I put my hat back on and pull the brim low
  586.  
  587. I'll have to be careful not to let all the information flying about confuse me
  588.  
  589. I keep my guard up as I quickly walk back to the departure lobby
  590.  
  591. Another 45 minutes pass without any more clear information coming through
  592.  
  593. There's chaos on the radio, and people are in a panic
  594.  
  595. But after an hour, the confusion suddenly stops and a shocking report comes in over the radio...
  596.  
  597. Voice from Radio: All personnel on scene: the suspects have been...apprehended The hijacking is over I repeat...
  598.  
  599. Naoto: They dealt with it so soon!?
  600.  
  601. Though some passengers were ill, there were no casualties
  602.  
  603. As far as I know, the "hijackers" didn't even make any demands
  604.  
  605. It's hard to think that the police could have negotiated with them
  606.  
  607. But, on the other hand, there's no indication that the Special Assault Team had stormed the plane
  608.  
  609. Did the group surrender, now that their decoy objective was complete?
  610.  
  611. Naoto: What's going on here...?
  612.  
  613. Just then, a radio call came in directly for me...
  614.  
  615. Voice from Radio: Operator to 002, over The hijacking has...been dealt with, but the transfer must...be canceled...
  616.  
  617. Voice from Radio: The whereabouts of one piece of cargo cannot...be confirmed All indications are that it...has been stolen...
  618.  
  619. Naoto: Then that vehicle earlier... are you still...in pursuit!?
  620.  
  621. Voice from Radio: We're tracking it through the N System...Head to the guest room immediately so we can...discuss our response
  622.  
  623. It looks like my call to report that suspicious van had not been a mistake...
  624.  
  625. Naoto: ...Understood
  626.  
  627. Soon after, the involved parties were gathered in the VIP room
  628.  
  629. Kirijo-san and the police are talking hurriedly
  630.  
  631. But, because there's a lot of confidential information being discussed, it was only expected that there would be some difficulties in communicating
  632.  
  633. At any rate, the van on the run can be tracked through the N System
  634.  
  635. The hijackers were handed over to the airport police, while those of us who "knew the truth" about the cargo were moved to one of her buildings...Naoto: That was a very tidy operation I had thought it would take at least half a day...Mitsuru: To put it delicately... we had someone with...special abilities handling this...Mitsuru: Then again, though we prevented any harm from...coming to the hostages, we lost the cargo...Naoto: Nothing for it, I suppose Who would have...expected an entire hijacking to cover up...the theft of some cargo?Naoto: I must apologize to you as well I was the...closest at hand when it happened...Mitsuru: No, you did more than enough It's thanks to...your sharp eyes that we're able to track the...suspicious vehicle now...Mitsuru: I'm impressed that you realized in all the...chaos that the cargo was the true target...You even spotted their getaway truck...Naoto: Thank you...Naoto: Our next step should be to interrogate the...suspects in custody and--Mitsuru: Sadly, it won't be that simple...Mitsuru: I haven't heard much yet, but it seems they're...having unexpected difficulties with the...interrogation It will take some time...Naoto: Mm If they were prepared to risk their lives...for this operation, I suppose they won't...break so easily...Mitsuru: We made an error in judgement... we were too...focused on preventing the item itself from...doing any damage...Naoto: But since they targeted something so unusual,...that should narrow down the suspect pool...Mitsuru: I can't deny it's possible that someone...connected to the Kirijo Group is behind this...Mitsuru: Thank you for your assistance, Shirogane...I'm sorry to have involved you in this mess,...but the professionals will take it from here
  636.  
  637. Professionals... In other words, she plans to investigate this herself, as a Shadow Operative...
  638.  
  639. Naoto: Does that mean my work here is done?
  640.  
  641. Mitsuru: I'm afraid so We do value your cooperation
  642.  
  643. This is a bit of a pickle
  644.  
  645. The Kirijo Group and the police want to keep this under wraps... that is, they cannot open a public investigation
  646.  
  647. On top of that, the Shadow Operatives are, technically, an organization working for the police Technically, there's no room for freelancers here
  648.  
  649. Therefore, by my reasoning there's no need for me to be involved in the investigation any further
  650.  
  651. Refusing to back down, however, would only draw attention
  652.  
  653. With no other choice, I decide to take my leave
  654.  
  655. It must have been chaos at the office; despite the unusual events, the man who hired me has not yet gotten in touch with me
  656.  
  657. I entertain the thought of returning home to Inaba, but luckily enough, I've brought enough luggage for a short trip out of town
  658.  
  659. I decide to stay the night at a business hotel near the airport, and wait a while for my client to contact me
  660.  
  661. Time passes...
  662.  
  663. At nine o'clock, I finally receive a phone call from the man...
  664.  
  665. Public Safety Officer: Things have taken an unexpected turn This case...is under the jurisdiction of the Shadow...Operatives now...
  666.  
  667. Naoto: That will make it very difficult to continue...my secret investigation...
  668.  
  669. Public Safety Officer: But right now, you're the only one we have...who's gotten that close We heard you earned...Kirijo's trust after the hijacking...
  670.  
  671. Public Safety Officer: We'd like you to keep up your investigation...We're currently making arrangements for you...to pick it up again in a natural way...
  672.  
  673. Naoto: What are you going to have me do? I will not...act as a spy...
  674.  
  675. Public Safety Officer: I'll be in touch later
  676.  
  677. He hangs up without waiting for my reply...
  678.  
  679. Naoto: *sigh*
  680.  
  681. I sigh...
  682.  
  683. I feel a weight in my heart
  684.  
  685. This has a high possibility of turning into a "private investigation from the shadows..." Pretty much a polite way of saying "corporate espionage"
  686.  
  687. If I'm to take on this job, I need to have some sort of plan
  688.  
  689. At any rate, I cannot plan my movements without knowing how the situation is progressing
  690.  
  691. It would be far better to prepare for tomorrow instead of getting worked up with worry
  692.  
  693. I read the newspaper and watch some of the TV coverage of today's events, then go to bed early
  694.  
  695. A day passes... And even by the night of May 2nd, the man has not contacted me again
  696.  
  697. It seems the police are having trouble zeroing in on the suspicious vehicle
  698.  
  699. Considering the skill with which the crime was pulled off, I wouldn't be surprised if that van was dumped somewhere and the cargo loaded onto another vehicle
  700.  
  701. Going through all the possibilities is just a way to kill time
  702.  
  703. But, that was the only thing I had to do... Nothing happened until the sky began to darken as the sun went down
  704.  
  705. My phone finally rang
  706.  
  707. But, surprisingly, the name on the screen brought a smile to my face...
  708.  
  709. Naoto: Yes, Shirogane speaking...
  710.  
  711. Chie: Hi, Naoto-kun? Oh, I'm not interrupting your...work, am I?
  712.  
  713. Naoto: No, it's quite all right...
  714.  
  715. Chie: Sorry to call so late I wanted to at least give...it one more shot about tomorrow
  716.  
  717. That's right... So much has been happening that I completely forgot that the school holidays start tomorrow
  718.  
  719. And, of course, we're supposed to have our reunion with Yu-senpai when he visits from the city tomorrow
  720.  
  721. I was supposed to be able to meet up with them...
  722.  
  723. I didn't imagine that I'd be stuck here for three days thanks to the attempted hijacking at the airport
  724.  
  725. But, since I've undertaken the job, I have obligations that I can't just abandon
  726.  
  727. I'm starting to actually feel some anger towards whoever the culprits are...
  728.  
  729. Naoto: I'm sorry, but it seems I still won't be able...to make it I'm actually not in Inaba at the...moment, to be honest...
  730.  
  731. Chie: Oh yeah, you mentioned that Hmm, then I guess...you can't check even if it rains...
  732.  
  733. Naoto: "Even if it rains"...?
  734.  
  735. Chie: Oh, nothing! Just talking to myself!
  736.  
  737. Hm? What was that?
  738.  
  739. Chie: It's okay, Naoto-kun I know there are people...who'll be in trouble without you You need to...stay there and help them out!
  740.  
  741. Naoto: Y-Yes, well...
  742.  
  743. "Help them out," huh...
  744.  
  745. It irritates me to know that what I'm going to do is pretty much spy work...
  746.  
  747. Naoto: It really is a shame Give my regards to...Senpai and the others, won't you?
  748.  
  749. Chie: Will do Good luck with the job!
  750.  
  751. I hang up the phone
  752.  
  753. Seeing my dear senpai again...
  754.  
  755. I feel that's much more important than a job with an uncertain outcome, and I feel a little sad that I'm going to miss it
  756.  
  757. Maybe I should just turn the case down and make a surprise visit tomorrow...
  758.  
  759. Naoto: I wonder if any train would make it in time...
  760.  
  761. ...But it looks like the case is not about to let me leave
  762.  
  763. Just after my talk with Chie-san, I was preparing for bed
  764.  
  765. The Public Safety official called me again...
  766.  
  767. Public Safety Officer: It seems we may be back on for the secret...investigation Mitsuru Kirijo just requested...our cooperation...
  768.  
  769. Public Safety Officer: We agreed A detective by the name of Kurosawa...will be heading out tomorrow We want you to...accompany him to the rendezvous point
  770.  
  771. When I ask about this Kurosawa fellow, I receive an unanticipated answer
  772.  
  773. Apparently, he had helped Kirijo-san's activities on his own while he was a constable
  774.  
  775. Even though his superiors didn't understand what Kirijo-san was up to, he followed his own instincts and helped her to protect his town
  776.  
  777. Normally, he would be punished for this, but the situation took a 180-degree turn thanks to the establishment of the Shadow Operatives
  778.  
  779. His knowledge has been invaluable, and rather than being disciplined, he has been promoted to plainclothes detective...
  780.  
  781. Public Safety Officer: Kurosawa is willing to leak you whatever...info he learns about the Kirijo Group through...his cooperation with them...
  782.  
  783. Naoto: I'm surprised he agreed to that Hasn't he assisted Kirijo-san and her group in the past?
  784.  
  785. Public Safety Officer: I'm afraid that's something you'll have to ask him about, although he seems to have his own agenda
  786.  
  787. I confirm several other details before ending the call
  788.  
  789. Detective Kurosawa:
  790.  
  791. If he's working with the Kirijo Group, it could be something of a problem...
  792.  
  793. But if they have information to leak, that means they must have located the vehicle in question
  794.  
  795. Still, considering how long it took them to find it, I may be in for a long trip
  796.  
  797. Where am I going to be sent now...?
  798.  
  799. I shrug to myself
  800.  
  801. The next day
  802.  
  803. May 3rd
  804.  
  805. I meet with Detective Kurosawa
  806.  
  807. I expected someone who looked shadier, but the man appeared hardworking and honest...
  808.  
  809. Detective Kurosawa: I'm Kurosawa...
  810.  
  811. Naoto: I'm Naoto Shirogane Thank you for your assistance...
  812.  
  813. Detective Kurosawa: I've heard rumors about you, ace detective...Let's get going
  814.  
  815. We make our greeting brief, and I get into Detective Kurosawa's car
  816.  
  817. A private investigation in a location that I have no prior knowledge or experience of...
  818.  
  819. This was a depressing job in the first place, and the addition of more and more unknown variables is only making me more displeased with it...
  820.  
  821. Detective Kurosawa: You seem pretty listless...
  822.  
  823. Naoto: Oh, no... I'm fine...
  824.  
  825. Naoto: Where are we headed, by the way?
  826.  
  827. Detective Kurosawa: The place where they found the getaway car...from the "hijacking"
  828.  
  829. Detective Kurosawa: A town called Inaba It's a small place with...an odd history They just had a bizarre...serial murder case there last year...
  830.  
  831. Naoto: Inaba!?
  832.  
  833. I can't stop the surprise from showing in my voice...
  834.  
  835. Detective Kurosawa: That's your hometown, right? Isn't that why...they're sending you?
  836.  
  837. I'm at a loss for words, but Detective Kurosawa continues instead of waiting for me to reply...
  838.  
  839. Detective Kurosawa: The request I got from the Shadow Operatives...was to assist in gathering information about...those murders...
  840.  
  841. Detective Kurosawa: They want me to meet with the supervising...detective of that case and ask him for the...full story...
  842.  
  843. Detective Kurosawa: Haha, not only are they a part of Public Safety,...they're an unofficial unit They can't come to...the district police for information...
  844.  
  845. Naoto: Why him...? Is his case related to the robbery...in some way?
  846.  
  847. Detective Kurosawa: Public Safety is sharper than you might think...They do basic reviews on all cases to see if...Shadows were involved...
  848.  
  849. Detective Kurosawa: Inaba is is on their watch list now And with...that cargo being brought there, they naturally...suspect a connection between the cases...
  850.  
  851. Naoto: ......
  852.  
  853. If there is a connection, then it might be related to "our case"
  854.  
  855. I begin to have ominous thoughts, and my expression darkens
  856.  
  857. But Detective Kurosawa doesn't probe into that topic
  858.  
  859. Perhaps he's the type of person who doesn't judge people based on evidence, but gets a feel for them through conversation and actions
  860.  
  861. How am I reflected in his eyes?
  862.  
  863. I can't help but wonder...
  864.  
  865. Detective Kurosawa goes inside the Inaba police station while I wait in the car near the junkyard
  866.  
  867. ...The familiar sights of Inaba seem strange, somehow
  868.  
  869. The detective in charge of this case must be none other than Dojima-san
  870.  
  871. Detective Ryotaro Dojima... Of course, I am familiar with him
  872.  
  873. And not just as a fellow peace officer...
  874.  
  875. Dojima-san acted as Yu-senpai's guardian while he stayed in Inaba
  876.  
  877. I feel like I'm betraying him as well, and can't stop myself from sighing again
  878.  
  879. Soon enough, Detective Kurosawa steps out of the station
  880.  
  881. I thought he was coming back--
  882.  
  883. But, halfway to the car, he turns and walks into the junkyard
  884.  
  885. I wonder what he's doing... I stick my head out the window and try to track him
  886.  
  887. ...There's another car parked behind a pile of junk
  888.  
  889. That distinctive grill style...
  890.  
  891. That's... Kirijo-san's limousine!
  892.  
  893. I hurriedly pull my head back into the car
  894.  
  895. That's right; Detective Kurosawa came here to cooperate with Kirijo-san
  896.  
  897. But, still, to bring me along and park so close to her is...
  898.  
  899. ...Then again, it's very unnatural to park far from a rendezvous point
  900.  
  901. Detective Kurosawa made the right decision
  902.  
  903. I calm down and slide into the rear seat, keeping my head low
  904.  
  905. Still...
  906.  
  907. Kirijo-san uses that black limousine while undertaking her Shadow Operatives duties as well...?
  908.  
  909. That car sticks out like sore thumb here in Inaba... Heck, it's distinctive anywhere in Japan!
  910.  
  911. Why would someone as clever as Kirijo-san take that car on a special mission like this?
  912.  
  913. Does she have some profound reasoning behind it?
  914.  
  915. After a while, Detective Kurosawa finally comes back to the car...
  916.  
  917. Naoto: Kurosawa-san, may I ask you something? Why are...you working with Public Safety?
  918.  
  919. Detective Kurosawa: Ha, you're asking that now? I thought that...would be your very first question
  920.  
  921. After wiping his dry smile from his face, Detective Kurosawa turns to me with an incredibly serious expression...
  922.  
  923. Detective Kurosawa: You can spy on Mitsuru Kirijo and her Shadow...Operatives to your heart's content, and never...find anything suspicious...
  924.  
  925. Detective Kurosawa: But for that to be understood, at some point...or another, everything she does has to be...investigated to eliminate those doubts...
  926.  
  927. Detective Kurosawa: In which case, it's better someone like you...do the investigating than some official who'll...never understand That's all there is to it
  928.  
  929. So he does have his reasons, after all...
  930.  
  931. Naoto: Thank you for your cooperation...
  932.  
  933. Detective Kurosawa: I'll leave the rest in your hands
  934.  
  935. I exit the vehicle, and Kurosawa-san takes his car onto the highway and speeds out of sight
  936.  
  937. He has no doubts whatsoever regarding Kirijo-san's activities
  938.  
  939. To be honest, I'm inclined to agree with him...
  940.  
  941. But I can't jump to conclusions without any evidence
  942.  
  943. I use heaps of junk as cover to sneak close to the limousine and watch
  944.  
  945. Not long after, I see two people exit the vehicle
  946.  
  947. One of them is Kirijo-san
  948.  
  949. However, unlike when I saw her at the airport, she's wearing equipment likely suited for combat
  950.  
  951. The other person looks strange...
  952.  
  953. Naoto: Is that the fabled "humanoid weapon"...?
  954.  
  955. There was information about a "humanoid weapon" mixed in with all the data I had about the Kirijo Group When I first saw it, I was confused
  956.  
  957. But, that had to be what was standing in front of me
  958.  
  959. It seems natural, almost lifelike, but there's no denying that it's an artificial construct
  960.  
  961. It seems that the rumors of an unorthodox anti-Shadow unit were true
  962.  
  963. Another man comes to join them soon
  964.  
  965. He, too, was dressed in outlandish attire
  966.  
  967. He was shirtless, and wore a red cloak like a desert nomad
  968.  
  969. He's the perfect example of someone who ought to be detained for questioning
  970.  
  971. I compare his face to the list of pictures of the people involved with the situation
  972.  
  973. While his taste in clothing has changed, I believe that this man is Akihiko Sanada
  974.  
  975. I can't imagine what would possess him to go about dressed like that, but...
  976.  
  977. I speculate about their actions
  978.  
  979. What business do they have here, in a junkyard?
  980.  
  981. There's nothing here but a pile of broken household electronics and abandoned televisions...
  982.  
  983. Then it hits me
  984.  
  985. Detective Kurosawa had told Kirijo-san about last year's incident
  986.  
  987. And, of course, she has prior knowledge of Personas and Shadows
  988.  
  989. Then, no doubt she's heard of the idea of entering the TV world
  990.  
  991. After all, it appears many times in the testimony of the killer from last year
  992.  
  993. Dojima-san may have disregarded it for being too far-fetched, but Detective Kurosawa must have caught on
  994.  
  995. I take a closer look There's a mountain of old television sets
  996.  
  997. Victims of last year's switch to digital broadcasts...Naoto: They're not planning to enter a TV from here,...are they...!?
  998.  
  999. Even as I say that, the mechanical girl already has her hand sticking into a TV screen
  1000.  
  1001. It's exactly as I thought
  1002.  
  1003. The mere fact that they are testing what they heard so recently cannot bode well...
  1004.  
  1005. Uncertainty crosses my mind
  1006.  
  1007. The three of them are clearly preparing to enter the television
  1008.  
  1009. Should I blow my cover and warn them about what they're doing?
  1010.  
  1011. If they enter, they may not be able to leave
  1012.  
  1013. But... the other world should no longer be dangerous anymore
  1014.  
  1015. And, I heard from Yosuke-senpai that he'd asked Teddie to leave the Exit TV out, just in case
  1016.  
  1017. If they're Persona-users, they should be able to handle the Shadows They shouldn't be in any peril, but...
  1018.  
  1019. However, Kirijo-san made a decision faster than I could
  1020.  
  1021. I stand there blankly...
  1022.  
  1023. Naoto: Is the stolen cargo inside the TV...?
  1024.  
  1025. Should I chase after them...?
  1026.  
  1027. If I turn back here, we may never be able to find the three of them again
  1028.  
  1029. And if that happens, the truth about the case will be lost forever
  1030.  
  1031. If her property was placed into the TV world, it means that whoever stole it knows the truth about last year's events
  1032.  
  1033. If that's the case, then I can't ignore this, no matter what my assigned task is
  1034.  
  1035. Plus...
  1036.  
  1037. Naoto: Well, if they're determined to enter the TV...despite not knowing the risks, I can hardly...allow cowardice to prevent me from following
  1038.  
  1039. I realize that the straw breaking the camel's back is not logic, but my pride, and I smile to myself
  1040.  
  1041. But my mind was made up
  1042.  
  1043. I stand up, look around, then step inside the same television they used
  1044.  
  1045. It's been a while since I've felt this falling sensation
  1046.  
  1047. But this time, the sensation seems to continue longer than it did when I would enter a TV as part of the Investigation Team
  1048.  
  1049. Before I know it, the falling has ended
  1050.  
  1051. I take cover behind a pillar and look around for the three Shadow Operatives
  1052.  
  1053. Did I lose them?
  1054.  
  1055. We all entered from the same television, so we should have arrived in the same place...
  1056.  
  1057. I relax a little and take a look around
  1058.  
  1059. When I stand up, I notice it... but it's difficult to believe
  1060.  
  1061. I take a good, hard look
  1062.  
  1063. This... is a school
  1064.  
  1065. And not only that, but...
  1066.  
  1067. Naoto: Yasogami High School... What's going on...?
  1068.  
  1069. This is the gate to the school I attend
  1070.  
  1071. The familiar school building is inside
  1072.  
  1073. But, there is something unfamiliar out in front
  1074.  
  1075. There's a stack of strange monitors
  1076.  
  1077. They're all displaying the words "P-1 Grand Prix"
  1078.  
  1079. This place looks like the real world, but there's something warped about it
  1080.  
  1081. It feels like the world is dangerous again, like it was while we were investigating the incident
  1082.  
  1083. But this world has returned to the way it was before...
  1084.  
  1085. While I'm thinking this, students come walking out of the building
  1086.  
  1087. They gather together, and soon the area is filled with people...
  1088.  
  1089. Naoto: Impossible! How could there be this many...people in the TV world...!?
  1090.  
  1091. Suddenly, the students surround me and start cheering
  1092.  
  1093. I see an all-too-familiar burst of static play across the monitors...
  1094.  
  1095. Naoto: Wh... What!?
  1096.  
  1097. Kill...joy... Detective...
  1098.  
  1099. The shock leaves me dumbfounded for a while
  1100.  
  1101. Plus, Yu-senpai, "Sister-Complex Kingpin"?
  1102.  
  1103. Well, it's true that--
  1104.  
  1105. --N-No, no, calm down, Naoto
  1106.  
  1107. Calm down and analyze the situation
  1108.  
  1109. This otherworldly program, where real people's foibles are exaggerated to unworldly proportions...
  1110.  
  1111. The static before the video made it very clear
  1112.  
  1113. This broadcast could only be the Midnight Channel
  1114.  
  1115. ...And what was this "fighting tournament" about!?
  1116.  
  1117. The members of the Investigation Team are the combatants!?Naoto: It seemed that Teddie was acting as the...host for this...
  1118.  
  1119. All of us know that Senpai is coming back to Inaba during Golden Week
  1120.  
  1121. Then could this be...?
  1122.  
  1123. Some kind of way to welcome him back...?
  1124.  
  1125. No, no, no!
  1126.  
  1127. Calling him a "Sister-Complex Kingpin"? That's not a welcome That's a challenge
  1128.  
  1129. Who would publicize a negative nickname like that!?
  1130.  
  1131. Besides... Whatever the reason, I can't imagine that someone would seriously want us all to fight each other
  1132.  
  1133. What is going on?
  1134.  
  1135. Does it mean that the rest of them are in the TV world as well?
  1136.  
  1137. Without warning, the sound of microphone feedback pierces my ears
  1138.  
  1139. Rise's voice echoes throughout the school's PA system...
  1140.  
  1141. Rise: Hellooooo, boys and girls of Yasogami!...Sorry for the wait!
  1142.  
  1143. Naoto: That voice... that's Rise-san!
  1144.  
  1145. The students go wild
  1146.  
  1147. On the monitors, Teddie appears to be wearing some sort of costume...
  1148.  
  1149. General Teddie: I'm proud to announce the commencement of our...bear-y own P-1 Grand Prix!
  1150.  
  1151. It looks like Rise-san and Teddie are the ones running this
  1152.  
  1153. Do they really plan on holding this P-1 Grand Prix?
  1154.  
  1155. Rise: And now the moment you've all been waiting...for, the challenger in our first battle!
  1156.  
  1157. If that promotional video is correct, then are the members of the Investigation Team going to show up?
  1158.  
  1159. Just as I lean forward to see what's going on, a spotlight shines directly into my face, blinding me...
  1160.  
  1161. Rise: Naoto Shirogane!
  1162.  
  1163. Naoto: What!?
  1164.  
  1165. The students around me raise their fists to the air and shout
  1166.  
  1167. This is a pickle...
  1168.  
  1169. It seems that I won't be able to chase Kirijo-san down at this rate
  1170.  
  1171. First the plane hijacking, and now another unforeseen interruption...
  1172.  
  1173. General Teddie: Come on down, Nao-chan!
  1174.  
  1175. Naoto: Teddie! What is the meaning of this?
  1176.  
  1177. General Teddie: Didn't you watch the intro video? It's a...fighting tournament!
  1178.  
  1179. Naoto: I gathered as much, but I was asking why you...would do such a thing Pitting friend against...friend in battle is going too far for a joke...
  1180.  
  1181. General Teddie: It's not a joke, though! I'm giving this...100%, just like I always do!
  1182.  
  1183. General Teddie: Now get out there, Nao-chan! Show me...everything you've got!
  1184.  
  1185. Naoto: You're not making any sense! Besides, there's--
  1186.  
  1187. While I'm speaking, I see the area in front of me... twist
  1188.  
  1189. I close my eyes at once...Naoto: Ngh!
  1190.  
  1191. When I open them, I see that only certain things around me have been warped by... whatever that was
  1192.  
  1193. The scene on the monitors, the students around me...
  1194.  
  1195. I blink and rub my eyes, but I soon realize that my eyes aren't playing tricks on me...
  1196.  
  1197. Naoto: What the...? Are these students an illusion...someone is creating...?
  1198.  
  1199. With their skins missing, the students have become dark shapes that only resemble human form
  1200.  
  1201. Are these... Shadows, of some sort?
  1202.  
  1203. Well, I do find it hard to believe that so many people could have wandered into the TV world
  1204.  
  1205. Even if this many people did get in here, the town would be in an uproar over the mass disappearance of so many students
  1206.  
  1207. It makes more sense for them to be Shadows, but if that's the case, why did I see them as students...?
  1208.  
  1209. Could it be...?
  1210.  
  1211. Teddie and Rise do both have the power to interfere with other peoples' thoughts to a certain extent
  1212.  
  1213. It may be possible for them to be projecting illusions into my mind
  1214.  
  1215. But, that would prove that the two of them really are the hosts of this show
  1216.  
  1217. I decide not to jump to any conclusions for now
  1218.  
  1219. ...Even if the two of them are behind this, why would they hold a tournament and deceive me with illusions?
  1220.  
  1221. I won't be able to figure out anything until I determine what their objective is
  1222.  
  1223. As I'm considering my next course of action, Teddie--or should I say, "General Teddie"--speaks directly to me...
  1224.  
  1225. General Teddie: What're you all fidgety for, Nao-chan? Do you...need to powder your nose?
  1226.  
  1227. Naoto: No!Naoto: Anyway... if this is not a joke, can I assume...you won't easily let me go?
  1228.  
  1229. General Teddie: Bingo! You have to win the fight if you want...to move on! Only the one who makes it to the...very end is set free!
  1230.  
  1231. This is getting me nowhere
  1232.  
  1233. Talking to him isn't helping me figure out what's going on here...
  1234.  
  1235. General Teddie: Well then, let's get this started! Bring out...the first opponent!
  1236.  
  1237. Another spotlight appears across from me
  1238.  
  1239. A person steps out of the darkness It's--
  1240.  
  1241. Yu: It's been a while, Naoto...
  1242.  
  1243. Naoto: Senpai...! Why are you here...?
  1244.  
  1245. Yu: I promised I'd come back during Golden Week...Don't tell me you forgot...
  1246.  
  1247. Naoto: N-No, of course I remembered! It's just,...I didn't expect to see you here...
  1248.  
  1249. Yu: I could say the same thing I heard you...couldn't make it because of your job...
  1250.  
  1251. Naoto: Y-Yes... Actually, I'm here on matters related...to my work It came as a surprise to me as well...
  1252.  
  1253. Yu: Huh... Looks like you're as uninterested in socializing as always
  1254.  
  1255. Huh...?
  1256.  
  1257. What did he just say?
  1258.  
  1259. Yu: Everyone says that though they think of you...as a friend, they never get the same vibe...from you...
  1260.  
  1261. Naoto: Th-That's not true! I just happened to be busy...with a case But really, now's not...
  1262.  
  1263. Yu: Work, work, work... I guess work's all you...care about in the end...
  1264.  
  1265. Yu: Even now, I'd say you're more concerned with your work than us...
  1266.  
  1267. Yu: Ah, I get it... hanging out with people outside...work is a burden for you It's like an invasion...of your privacy...
  1268.  
  1269. Naoto: Senpai...?
  1270.  
  1271. He's not the type of person to speak so poorly of others, is he?
  1272.  
  1273. Is this an illusion, too...?
  1274.  
  1275. Yu: Relax I'll help get you knocked out of the...tournament so you can get back to the work...you love so much!
  1276.  
  1277. He summoned his Persona!
  1278.  
  1279. Naoto: Wha--Are you serious!?
  1280.  
  1281. Naoto: Ngh!
  1282.  
  1283. Senpai attacked me with his Persona
  1284.  
  1285. That wasn't an illusion... It was real
  1286.  
  1287. If he'd hit me, I would have been seriously hurt
  1288.  
  1289. But... Now I know something
  1290.  
  1291. He's clearly not in his right mind right now
  1292.  
  1293. The leader of the Investigation Team I knew would never, under any circumstances, harm his friends...
  1294.  
  1295. Naoto: What a reunion this is turning into......If I must fight you, I will!
  1296.  
  1297. <BATTLE [vs YU]>
  1298.  
  1299. Naoto: *pant* *pant*
  1300.  
  1301. My shoulders heave as I gasp for breath
  1302.  
  1303. I managed to win, but Senpai was as strong as ever...
  1304.  
  1305. Yu: Ngh... Naoto... are you okay?
  1306.  
  1307. Naoto: Y-Yes...
  1308.  
  1309. Senpai stands up and offers me his hand as I sit on the ground
  1310.  
  1311. Despite the fact that he was hurt worse than I was, the look in his eyes shows that he is seriously worried about me
  1312.  
  1313. ...He's a completely different person than the person I saw before the battle
  1314.  
  1315. Yes... This is the person I know...
  1316.  
  1317. Naoto: Thank goodness...
  1318.  
  1319. Yu: Huh...?
  1320.  
  1321. Naoto: Er... I mean, are you all right too, Senpai?...I'm sorry for hurting you, even though the...circumances demanded it...
  1322.  
  1323. Yu: Oh, everything's fine here... You're back to...the usual Naoto, I see...
  1324.  
  1325. Naoto: The usual...?
  1326.  
  1327. What's that supposed to mean?
  1328.  
  1329. I wonder about the use of his word "usual," but there are more important matters at hand...
  1330.  
  1331. Naoto: Er, can you tell me what's going on here?
  1332.  
  1333. Senpai tells me about what had happened at Inaba while I was gone
  1334.  
  1335. I'm at a loss for words
  1336.  
  1337. The "Midnight Channel" started to air again
  1338.  
  1339. The video that I saw was the promotional video for something called the "P-1 Grand Prix"
  1340.  
  1341. Apparently, it had been shown a few times before I just saw it
  1342.  
  1343. Wait, that video...
  1344.  
  1345. I-It was shown all over town--
  1346.  
  1347. --N-No, now's not the time to let that sort of thing discourage me
  1348.  
  1349. According to Yu-senpai, not only did the Midnight Channel make a comeback, but several of us--Kanji-kun, Teddie and Rise-san--have gone missing
  1350.  
  1351. Senpai and the others entered the TV at Junes to investigate this...
  1352.  
  1353. Yu: I was shocked to see it looking completely...different than before...
  1354.  
  1355. Naoto: Indeed But it seems, at least in part,...to be an illusion...
  1356.  
  1357. Yu: Really?
  1358.  
  1359. Naoto: In fact, the students gathered to watch our...battle were not real...
  1360.  
  1361. Yu: Hm, yeah... they did seem like Shadows, but...different somehow... I didn't get the sense...that they were hostile, though...
  1362.  
  1363. Naoto: I thought that Rise-san and Teddie might have...been illusions, too, but both have gone...missing And given their Persona abilities...
  1364.  
  1365. I cut myself off
  1366.  
  1367. Senpai shakes his head in response...
  1368.  
  1369. Yu: It's possible that that really was them...But we should have faith If our enemy can...use illusions, they might be victims as well...
  1370.  
  1371. Naoto: You're right... I can at least have more...faith in my friends than that
  1372.  
  1373. I raise my head to look at Senpai, who is watching me
  1374.  
  1375. Our eyes meet, and I hurriedly look away...
  1376.  
  1377. Yu: Speaking of which, why are you here, Naoto?
  1378.  
  1379. Naoto: That's...
  1380.  
  1381. ...There's the question
  1382.  
  1383. Well, it's only natural
  1384.  
  1385. But I'm here on business, not anything personal
  1386.  
  1387. I cannot disclose the details of my investigation
  1388.  
  1389. Not only are there rules... but if I spoke up, I would end up getting him involved
  1390.  
  1391. I have to avoid that at all costs
  1392.  
  1393. As I'm deciding what to say...
  1394.  
  1395. Yu: Hey, you know, forget I asked I'm just happy...to see you again...
  1396.  
  1397. Naoto: Me too! Oh... er, I'm sorry...
  1398.  
  1399. Yu: What's the matter now?
  1400.  
  1401. Naoto: I mean, well... about me being unsociable......Please understand that it's not because my...work is more important than my friends...!
  1402.  
  1403. Yu: Hm...? I've never thought that about you...at all I don't think any of us have...
  1404.  
  1405. Naoto: Senpai...
  1406.  
  1407. General Teddie: Alrighty, time to break up your little chat...
  1408.  
  1409. Naoto: T-Teddie!
  1410.  
  1411. General Teddie: Nao-chan wins! Very impressive, beating up...the almighty Sensei!
  1412.  
  1413. General Teddie: But now it's time for you to go on Your next...opponent's already waiting!
  1414.  
  1415. When his speech is over, the monitor shuts off
  1416.  
  1417. "Next opponent," huh...
  1418.  
  1419. I'd rather not continue this charade, but I have to push forward in order to get a hold on the situation...
  1420.  
  1421. Naoto: Well then, we should get going
  1422.  
  1423. Yu-senpai nods reassuringly
  1424.  
  1425. I feel a sense of relief welling up within me
  1426.  
  1427. I can't let my guard down, but knowing that Senpai is with me to help me face whatever lies ahead, I know I have nothing to fear
  1428.  
  1429. --Or so I think
  1430.  
  1431. Senpai is walking next to me when he suddenly stops...
  1432.  
  1433. Yu: What the...? An invisible wall? What is this?...And how come you can pass through...?
  1434.  
  1435. A wall...?
  1436.  
  1437. There's nothing there...
  1438.  
  1439. I wave my hand through the place where Senpai said he couldn't pass through, but I don't feel anything
  1440.  
  1441. But Senpai doesn't look like he's faking it
  1442.  
  1443. The monitor turns on again
  1444.  
  1445. Teddie's face fills the screen...
  1446.  
  1447. General Teddie: Hmm? Did I forget to tell you? Only the winner...can move on to the next fight...
  1448.  
  1449. General Teddie: No one's getting out of this school until...a champion's been crowned!
  1450.  
  1451. General Teddie: Only the one who fights to the beary end and...comes out on top can leave!
  1452.  
  1453. Yu: Ngh... so neither opponent can leave the...area unless they fight each other...
  1454.  
  1455. Yu: You go on ahead, Naoto I'll try and find...a way to catch up...
  1456.  
  1457. Naoto: ...Very well Be careful, Senpai...
  1458.  
  1459. Yu: I will See you later
  1460.  
  1461. I am hesitant to leave Senpai behind, but it can't be helped
  1462.  
  1463. I'd like to try to destroy the wall, but there's nothing I can do if I can't touch it
  1464.  
  1465. With Senpai smiling at me, I decide to go on ahead
  1466.  
  1467. It looks like no matter how many people I fight, I'll have to progress by myself
  1468.  
  1469. After some time walking, I run smack into something, even though there's nothing there
  1470.  
  1471. I didn't understand what was going on at first, but I soon come to realize something
  1472.  
  1473. So this is one of those invisible walls Senpai was talking about...
  1474.  
  1475. It seems that some of them won't allow anyone to pass, no matter who wins the fights
  1476.  
  1477. It's completely transparent... The only way to know that it's there is to feel its glass-like smoothness
  1478.  
  1479. I have no choice but to take a detour
  1480.  
  1481. But, time after time, these walls keep getting in my way
  1482.  
  1483. I'm not choosing my path, I'm being herded...
  1484.  
  1485. I suppose I'm following some plan laid out by whoever set this up
  1486.  
  1487. After I open the door to the gym, I saw a space cleared away... for that
  1488.  
  1489. As I expected, General Teddie appears on the monitor...
  1490.  
  1491. General Teddie: You're so slow, Nao-chan! Your second...opponent's been waiting for you!
  1492.  
  1493. Naoto: I've said it before, but I don't intend to...fight my friends--
  1494.  
  1495. General Teddie: Alrighty, let's do this! Bring out the next...opponent!
  1496.  
  1497. Kanji: Yo, yo, yo! How's it hangin', Nao doll?
  1498.  
  1499. Naoto: K-Kanji-kun...?
  1500.  
  1501. Well, he certainly looks like Kanji-kun
  1502.  
  1503. But it only looks that way...
  1504.  
  1505. Kanji: Ya know, I been thinkin' The way ya talk is...so lame...
  1506.  
  1507. Naoto: H-Huh...?
  1508.  
  1509. I thought I was ready to face anyone, but this isn't a matter of being in my right mind or not
  1510.  
  1511. Is this an illusion?
  1512.  
  1513. Oh, please let this one be an illusion!
  1514.  
  1515. Kanji: It's like, way too uptight and goody-goody!...It makes ya sound so distant, ya dig?
  1516.  
  1517. Naoto: Is that so...?
  1518.  
  1519. Kanji: See, that's what I'm talkin' bout Ya coulda...just said, "Oh, ya think so?"
  1520.  
  1521. Naoto: Y-You think so?
  1522.  
  1523. Kanji: Yeah, now you're gettin' it! Now I feel...like I'm on your wavelength!
  1524.  
  1525. Naoto: Th-Thanks...
  1526.  
  1527. Naoto: Then again, relatability aside, I feel like...you were miles away from me to begin with...
  1528.  
  1529. Kanji: Heeeey, yer doin' it again What's with the...Ms Manners act?
  1530.  
  1531. Naoto: I'm sorry, it's a habit of mine...
  1532.  
  1533. Kanji: Or maybe it's that ya don't care about gettin'...close to us, huh? You don't feel like ya gotta...bother gettin' to know us and stuff?
  1534.  
  1535. Naoto: Of course I don't think... H-Hell no, man...
  1536.  
  1537. Kanji: Tch, you never warm up to anyone because you...set your standards so goddamn high...
  1538.  
  1539. Naoto: (Oh dear, he's shown his true self!)
  1540.  
  1541. Kanji: Is it you-know-what? Are ya putting on a show...of not lettin' anyone near you 'cause you got...no confidence in yourself? Is that it!?
  1542.  
  1543. Naoto: Kanji-kun...
  1544.  
  1545. They may be false accusations, but some of their statements are hitting home...
  1546.  
  1547. I can't brush off these words, and my heart aches...
  1548.  
  1549. Kanji: What's got you so nervous? Your height?...Your body? That girly voice?
  1550.  
  1551. Kanji: Then lemme give you a little lesson in...manliness! I hope you're ready for the...pain I'm bringin'! Haaaaaa!
  1552.  
  1553. This is insanity!
  1554.  
  1555. Naoto: W-Wait a second, I didn't say any--Ugh!
  1556.  
  1557. <BATTLE [vs KANJI]>
  1558.  
  1559. Naoto: Kanji-kun, are you all right?
  1560.  
  1561. Kanji: ...'Course I am Your attacks were like little...bug bites I just let my guard down, is all
  1562.  
  1563. I don't know if he's acting tough or trying to be courteous to me, but at least he's back to the usual Kanji-kun
  1564.  
  1565. The usual... Kanji-kun--
  1566.  
  1567. Usual?
  1568.  
  1569. Wait, didn't Yu-senpai say that, too...?
  1570.  
  1571. Well, at the very least, it seems that the spell is broken once the battle ends
  1572.  
  1573. I let out a sigh of relief
  1574.  
  1575. Still... For some reason, Kanji-kun has yet to look this way...
  1576.  
  1577. Naoto: Are you... really okay? I was told that the...others lost contact with you, so... how did...you come to be here?
  1578.  
  1579. Kanji: H-How? Well, I, uh... i-it was a change of pace?
  1580.  
  1581. Naoto: You came into the TV for a change of pace?...Did something happen? I'm willing to listen if...you'd like to talk about it...
  1582.  
  1583. Kanji: There's nothin' to talk about! I mean,...wait, n-not that I don't wanna talk to you...
  1584.  
  1585. Kanji: Like it's, it's not that I DO wanna talk or......that I don't wanna... A-Anyways, there's just...some times a man wants to go inside a TV by himself!
  1586.  
  1587. Naoto: I'm not sure I follow...
  1588.  
  1589. Kanji: Get off my back, will you!? I didn't come in here...because I like it... A-Actually, no, that is why...I came! Because I like this place!
  1590.  
  1591. When Kanji-kun turns around, his face is red But with anger, or something else...?
  1592.  
  1593. Naoto: I just don't understand why you're being so...loud about it and blushing so fiercely...
  1594.  
  1595. Kanji: I-I wasn't blushing!
  1596.  
  1597. Kanji: B-Besides, it's your fault! Y-You're the one...that was, uh, well, being all, you know...
  1598.  
  1599. Naoto: Me...? What are you talking about?
  1600.  
  1601. Kanji: Y-You want me to come out and say it!? Geez,...I thought you'd gone crazy 'cause of that!
  1602.  
  1603. Naoto: Me? Crazy? You were the one who was acting...oddly... calling me "Nao doll" and whatnot...
  1604.  
  1605. Kanji: "N-Nao doll"!? Why would I call you that!?
  1606.  
  1607. Naoto: Hm, wait a second...? Acting strangely...
  1608.  
  1609. I saw Kanji-kun as mad, and he saw me as the same
  1610.  
  1611. And yet, both of us claim that we hadn't gone crazy
  1612.  
  1613. ...I get it now
  1614.  
  1615. That's why Yu-senpai called me "the usual Naoto"
  1616.  
  1617. Naoto: Ah, of course An illusion...
  1618.  
  1619. Kanji: Huh?
  1620.  
  1621. Naoto: I believe we were both under the illusion that...the other had lost their mind...
  1622.  
  1623. Naoto: That's why neither of us remembers saying what...the other heard...
  1624.  
  1625. Kanji: Illusions, huh?
  1626.  
  1627. Naoto: It must be a scheme to make friends fight each...other But if that's the case...
  1628.  
  1629. It's not as simple as the person I have to fight being "crazy"
  1630.  
  1631. Yu-senpai and Kanju-kun both said things that dig deep into my personal problems
  1632.  
  1633. If these are illusions, then whoever's creating them has to be someone who knows us...
  1634.  
  1635. Naoto: The ability to interfere with others' senses......the prior knowledge of us... putting it all...together, it must be...
  1636.  
  1637. Kanji: Must be what?
  1638.  
  1639. Naoto: The Teddie acting as the tournament's host,...as well as Rise-san, must be genuine...
  1640.  
  1641. Kanji: You moron There's no way it's them
  1642.  
  1643. I look up at Kanji-kun in surprise...
  1644.  
  1645. Kanji: That Ted and Rise are fakes C'mon, they're...not twisted like that You of all people...oughtta know
  1646.  
  1647. He doesn't have any proof
  1648.  
  1649. But his unshakeable trust in me sets me at ease
  1650.  
  1651. Even if I told him that Rise and Teddie are both missing, I'm sure his answer wouldn't change...
  1652.  
  1653. Naoto: Who else, then?
  1654.  
  1655. Kanji: Well, you know... there is someone here...besides us I saw her on my way here...
  1656.  
  1657. Kanji: Some girl with long hair...
  1658.  
  1659. Naoto: A girl...? Did she happen to be wearing a white...fur shawl and combat gear beneath it...?
  1660.  
  1661. Kanji: Fur? What're you talking about? She had on...a normal Yaso girl's uniform And her hair...was like, tied back...
  1662.  
  1663. Naoto: A female student with tied-back hair?...I don't recall anyone like that...
  1664.  
  1665. I thought he might have run into Kirijo-san, but that doesn't appear to have been the case
  1666.  
  1667. Is that girl Kanji-kun's talking about a suspect?
  1668.  
  1669. I can't tell for sure...
  1670.  
  1671. Naoto: I'll keep it in mind Well, I should be...moving on...
  1672.  
  1673. Kanji: Hold on, I'll come with... Wait, what the hell?
  1674.  
  1675. Ah The invisible walls again
  1676.  
  1677. Just like last time, I can't touch it myself...
  1678.  
  1679. Naoto: The rules seem to dictate that only the victor...can proceed I'll come for you later...
  1680.  
  1681. Kanji: Eh, don't bother I'll figure this out...myself somehow...
  1682.  
  1683. Kanji: That aside, you beat me... You better make...sure you're the champion in the end!
  1684.  
  1685. Naoto: That's completely irrelevant to the larger...objective...
  1686.  
  1687. I leave Kanji-kun behind and push on ahead
  1688.  
  1689. We're being shown illusions that portray our opponents as having lost their senses
  1690.  
  1691. But why is the host of this tournament going to such elaborate lengths?
  1692.  
  1693. Obviously, it's to get people who know each other to fight, but is that the only goal?
  1694.  
  1695. Still... I wonder how I had appeared to Senpai and Kanji-kun
  1696.  
  1697. I'm not that worried about Senpai, but thinking about Kanji-kun's reaction--how he had blushed--is burning a hole in my stomach
  1698.  
  1699. As I walked down the hall, I come to another likely location for a match
  1700.  
  1701. Just as I figured, Teddie appears on a screen...
  1702.  
  1703. General Teddie: Your next opponent is a special guest! We've got...a lady jumping in on the fun! It'll be a big,...emotional reunion for you, Nao-chan...
  1704.  
  1705. Naoto: Could it be...?
  1706.  
  1707. General Teddie: Bring out the next opponent!
  1708.  
  1709. Naoto: Kirijo-san...
  1710.  
  1711. Mitsuru: Shirogane...!? Why are you here...? I thought...you were...
  1712.  
  1713. Naoto: This is a problem... I didn't think we'd...run into each other so soon
  1714.  
  1715. The purpose of this event is to have the participants fight And because there's only one path to take, I figured we would run into each other sooner or later
  1716.  
  1717. I never imagined that it would be this early on, though
  1718.  
  1719. No, there's something else I need to be concerned with
  1720.  
  1721. Like the previous times, the opponents will not be seeing each other correctly
  1722.  
  1723. With that in mind, I watch her closely And, as expected, I see a change in her
  1724.  
  1725. Mitsuru Kirijo-san's face twists into an expression of contempt, and her composure shatters...
  1726.  
  1727. Mitsuru: To say I'm surprised to see you here would...be an understatement...
  1728.  
  1729. I don't reply
  1730.  
  1731. There's no point in saying anything, after all...
  1732.  
  1733. Mitsuru: Ha... the silent treatment How ridiculous that...you, who lives a lie, would dig up other people's...hidden secrets for a living...
  1734.  
  1735. Naoto: ......
  1736.  
  1737. Mitsuru: You seem gentle, but you maintain an aloof...distance that keeps people at arm's length......I've thought that since our first meeting...
  1738.  
  1739. Mitsuru: At first, I thought it must be typical of...a detective But that doesn't seem to be...the case...
  1740.  
  1741. Mitsuru: You simply lack confidence in yourself
  1742.  
  1743. I... have some trouble staying silent...
  1744.  
  1745. Mitsuru: You hide your true nature because you know that...once you grow close to someone, you'll no longer...be able to protect your pride...
  1746.  
  1747. Mitsuru: That's why you won't let anyone in You use...your job as a pretext to keep your distance...and never get too attached...
  1748.  
  1749. Mitsuru: And it's from that position that you're...trying to discover what others are hiding?...Hahaha...
  1750.  
  1751. Mitsuru: How contradictory... not to mention completely...ridiculous and unfair
  1752.  
  1753. I clench my fists, in spite of myself...
  1754.  
  1755. Naoto: Persona...
  1756.  
  1757. Kirijo-san's relentless words...
  1758.  
  1759. Even if it's only an illusion, I begin to feel that if I lose, I'll never be able to be near her again
  1760.  
  1761. I cannot lose here...!
  1762.  
  1763. Naoto: I'd dearly like to answer your charges,...but I see no need...
  1764.  
  1765. Naoto: There is no reason to defend myself against...the accusations of an illusion!
  1766.  
  1767. <BATTLE [vs MITSURU]>
  1768.  
  1769. Mitsuru: Ngh... you're stronger than you look......it seems you're a skilled fighter...
  1770.  
  1771. Mitsuru: And a Persona-user as well, eh...
  1772.  
  1773. With that, Kirijo-san stands up...
  1774.  
  1775. Mitsuru: I'd like to clear something up Before our...battle, I may have said or done some things...that seemed disrespectful, but...
  1776.  
  1777. Naoto: I understand We were shown illusions to...goad us into fighting each other...
  1778.  
  1779. Mitsuru: So you already knew You are a credit to the...Shirogane name, then...
  1780.  
  1781. Mitsuru: In that case, I'l... well, I'm willing to...forget all the things you said about my body
  1782.  
  1783. Wait, what?
  1784.  
  1785. Her BODY!?
  1786.  
  1787. What did the illusionary me say!?
  1788.  
  1789. Mitsuru: Hmm, though... if you're a Persona-user, that...gives weight to two of my theories
  1790.  
  1791. Kirijo-san looks straight at me...
  1792.  
  1793. Mitsuru: One is that you were one of those who solved...last year's serial murders... the few, proud...anonymous heroes
  1794.  
  1795. I shrug
  1796.  
  1797. And then... I brace myself for the other shoe to drop
  1798.  
  1799. I know what she's about to say...
  1800.  
  1801. Mitsuru: The other... is that you are one of my enemies...
  1802.  
  1803. Mitsuru: You were an observer at the hijacking, which...means a Persona-user was sent specifically...
  1804.  
  1805. Mitsuru: Yet you hid that from me... somehow I doubt...you were there just to watch over the cargo...
  1806.  
  1807. Naoto: ......
  1808.  
  1809. Mitsuru: If my suspicions aren't off-base... then there's...something I must say
  1810.  
  1811. In all honesty, I feel like I have no defense for what's going to happen next
  1812.  
  1813. I begin trying to find a way to make it through this conversation without ruining whatever goodwill I may still have with her...
  1814.  
  1815. ...But Kirijo-san's next words take me completely by surprise...
  1816.  
  1817. Mitsuru: Shirogane, can I ask for your cooperation...once again?
  1818.  
  1819. Naoto: ...What?
  1820.  
  1821. Mitsuru: You know more about this world than I do...And since I lost our match, I will be unable...to move on from here...
  1822.  
  1823. Naoto: Wait a moment! I thought you distrusted me...
  1824.  
  1825. Mitsuru: Even if I did, is continuing to oppose each...other the wisest course of action?
  1826.  
  1827. I have no words
  1828.  
  1829. Kirijo-san smiles as she watches me
  1830.  
  1831. Her proposal completely surprised me
  1832.  
  1833. My surprise must have confirmed what she was thinking about me
  1834.  
  1835. ...She knew that I'm not the type of person who would become her enemy under normal circumstances
  1836.  
  1837. That is why she smiled
  1838.  
  1839. ...I am no match for her
  1840.  
  1841. She's on a completely different level than I am
  1842.  
  1843. It's not a matter of social rank; she simply has the type of personality that makes people want to follow her
  1844.  
  1845. Kirijo-san doesn't wait for me to answer and continues...
  1846.  
  1847. Mitsuru: As you have guessed, we are here in pursuit of...the stolen cargo...
  1848.  
  1849. Mitsuru: Upon investigation, we figured out that it...contained the 5th Generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon, Labrys...
  1850.  
  1851. Mitsuru: She was a machine, developed as one of a series...of test models They were intended to receive...Personas in order to combat Shadows...
  1852.  
  1853. Naoto: Isn't a Persona the manifestation of one's...strength of heart? How could a machine be...capable of using a Persona...?
  1854.  
  1855. Mitsuru: You're right to ask that Labrys has a mind...of her own We don't know what she looks like,...but it's probably very close to human
  1856.  
  1857. A humanoid machine...
  1858.  
  1859. I did see something fitting that description before I came through to the TV world
  1860.  
  1861. So that was a weapon developed by the Kirijo Group...
  1862.  
  1863. A humanoid robot--one with a heart, at that
  1864.  
  1865. This is the fruits of Kirijo technology, created from the research of Shadows...
  1866.  
  1867. I cannot help but be surprised
  1868.  
  1869. However, if the culprits were specifically after this "Labrys" weapon, there's a high probability that it has been removed from its case and is mobile
  1870.  
  1871. But I can't fathom how that would benefit the thieves...
  1872.  
  1873. There is one thing I can deduce, though...
  1874.  
  1875. Naoto: Around the time of the robbery, we began to...see activity in this world as well... I doubt...this is a coincidence...
  1876.  
  1877. Naoto: I feel sure that your "Labrys" is connected...to this ridiculous tournament...
  1878.  
  1879. Mitsuru: I agree
  1880.  
  1881. Before I know what I'm doing, I reach out to shake hands with Kirijo-san...
  1882.  
  1883. Naoto: I accept your earlier proposal And I think...I'd best hurry...
  1884.  
  1885. Mitsuru: Thank you, and I'm sorry Your friends must be...facing their own troubles...
  1886.  
  1887. Mitsuru: It's possible that they've met Labrys without...knowing it, too...
  1888.  
  1889. Naoto: They'll be all right, I'm sure...
  1890.  
  1891. Mitsuru: The records showed that Labrys had some unknown,...experimental equipment We don't know what she's...capable of Don't take her lightly...
  1892.  
  1893. Naoto: Oh, no, that isn't what I meant...
  1894.  
  1895. Naoto: She has a heart, yes? Then fighting her isn't...our only option She can be saved... I'm sure...the others will reach the same conclusion...
  1896.  
  1897. Mitsuru: ...I see
  1898.  
  1899. When I say that, I can see a smile on her face
  1900.  
  1901. I can tell she believes in her friends as well...
  1902.  
  1903. Mitsuru: Oh yes, I meant to ask Have you been able...to contact your friends?
  1904.  
  1905. I shake my head...
  1906.  
  1907. Naoto: No... two of them have analysis-capable...Personas, but both of them have gone missing...
  1908.  
  1909. Mitsuru: I actually have a few powers in that area...myself Can you tell me what these friends...of yours look like?
  1910.  
  1911. I give her as detailed descriptions of Rise-san and Teddie as I can...
  1912.  
  1913. Mitsuru: Hm? A bear costume and a girl? Are they...?
  1914.  
  1915. Naoto: Yes... they're the ones acting as hosts for...this tournament But they're not usually...like this...
  1916.  
  1917. Mitsuru: I see... well, anyway, knowing that will make...searching for them easier Let me see...
  1918.  
  1919. Kirijo-san focuses and closes her eyes
  1920.  
  1921. Her power must allow her to see an image as she searches
  1922.  
  1923. It may be only "a few" powers, but it's still quite amazing...
  1924.  
  1925. Mitsuru: I'm getting a match some ways from here......It's not moving, either...
  1926.  
  1927. Mitsuru: ...Aha, I found her...
  1928.  
  1929. Naoto: ......!
  1930.  
  1931. Mitsuru: Can you hear me?
  1932.  
  1933. Rise: Huh...? Who is this!?
  1934.  
  1935. That voice...!
  1936.  
  1937. Mitsuru: My name is Mitsuru Kirijo I am with one of your...friends, Shirogane
  1938.  
  1939. Kirijo-san looks at me and nods
  1940.  
  1941. She is communicating to me so that Rise-san can hear my voice as well...
  1942.  
  1943. Naoto: Rise-san!?
  1944.  
  1945. Rise: Naoto-kun... is it really you!?
  1946.  
  1947. Naoto: Yes Though I could ask the same of you,...Rise-san...
  1948.  
  1949. Rise: I'm so glad... this weird fake Teddie kidnapped...me, and then everyone was fighting each...other, and...
  1950.  
  1951. So Rise-san's voice on the PA system was a fake
  1952.  
  1953. That being the case, then there's no reason to believe that the image of Teddie on the monitors is the real thing, either...
  1954.  
  1955. Naoto: It's all right, please calm down Do you know...where you are right now?
  1956.  
  1957. Rise: It looks like an Announcement Room But there...are these invisible walls stopping me from...leaving...
  1958.  
  1959. Rise: Plus, the fake Teddie is watching me, so I...can't use my Persona...
  1960.  
  1961. I don't know who that fake Teddie is, but it seems that Rise-san and the real Teddie were kidnapped to deprive us of a means of communication
  1962.  
  1963. ...In other words, to keep us fooled while we were in this world
  1964.  
  1965. Then again, that explains nothing about whatever objective could be gained by doing this to us
  1966.  
  1967. How does Labrys' existence tie into this?
  1968.  
  1969. Rise: Oh, right Um, thanks... Kirijo-san, right?
  1970.  
  1971. Rise: Wait, Kirijo...? I know that name......Well, it's not important now...
  1972.  
  1973. Rise: Are you a Persona-user too?
  1974.  
  1975. Mitsuru: Yes, but we can discuss that later...
  1976.  
  1977. Mitsuru: I sense a Shadow-like presence very close...to your position Are you all right?
  1978.  
  1979. Rise: The only thing near here is the fake Teddie......Wait, is that what you're talking about!?
  1980.  
  1981. Naoto: So it's a Shadow...
  1982.  
  1983. I was hesitant to make a decision
  1984.  
  1985. Kirijo-san does not know Teddie
  1986.  
  1987. Of course, she wouldn't know his origins
  1988.  
  1989. Even if the General was the real Teddie, she would probably think of him as a Shadow if she didn't know better
  1990.  
  1991. But, if the General is merely something else that's taking on his appearance, it leads to a completely different conclusion
  1992.  
  1993. That is... it's a Shadow from a normal human who doesn't have any tolerance for this world
  1994.  
  1995. But if that's the case, then why is the Shadow mimicking Teddie?
  1996.  
  1997. I don't have enough pieces to begin solving this puzzle yet
  1998.  
  1999. While I'm in the process of thinking things through, Kirijo-san speaks up...
  2000.  
  2001. Mitsuru: Shirogane, you need to hurry on I'll try to...maintain communication as best I can and...keep you in the loop...
  2002.  
  2003. Naoto: All right, then, I'm off Stay safe!
  2004.  
  2005. I nod back to her and start running
  2006.  
  2007. Onward...
  2008.  
  2009. To the Announcement Room where Rise-san is being held
  2010.  
  2011. As I hurry on, led by the invisible walls, I reach a classroom
  2012.  
  2013. I'll be forced into another fight here, too, no doubt...
  2014.  
  2015. General Teddie: Looks like you're chugging right along And now,...another special guest for you!
  2016.  
  2017. General Teddie: The gloves may be off, putting you up against...this one, so I wanna see your best moves...out there, Nao-chan!
  2018.  
  2019. General Teddie: Now, bring out the next opponent!
  2020.  
  2021. I see a silhouette framed in the spotlight
  2022.  
  2023. It's...
  2024.  
  2025. Well... How could I forget that attire?
  2026.  
  2027. Naoto: You're... Akihiko Sanada, as I recall...
  2028.  
  2029. Akihiko: Interesting I've been gone for a while, and...here I meet a stranger who knows who I am...
  2030.  
  2031. Naoto: You're a member of Mitsuru Kirijo's...organization... her friend, actually, no?
  2032.  
  2033. Akihiko: I see... so it's really Mitsuru you're...interested in, Ace Detective
  2034.  
  2035. His words cause me to tense up
  2036.  
  2037. He just called me "Ace Detective"
  2038.  
  2039. Perhaps that was just a guess from my family name, Shirogane, but he could know that I'm spying on them for the police
  2040.  
  2041. I carefully search his eyes for anything that might tell me how much he knows
  2042.  
  2043. He looks me over, from head to toe...
  2044.  
  2045. ...and immediately sneers mockingly...
  2046.  
  2047. Akihiko: Jeez... Look at you You have the...physique of a 12-year old...
  2048.  
  2049. Naoto: What...!
  2050.  
  2051. Akihiko: A detective needs a strong body more than a...strong brain! All-night research sessions,...long stakeouts... you need stamina for that!
  2052.  
  2053. Akihiko: But look at those twiggy arms and legs...of yours!
  2054.  
  2055. Akihiko: You've got an overdeveloped chest, but from...the looks of it, I'd say it's all fat and no...muscle Seriously......
  2056.  
  2057. Naoto: Wh... What...!?
  2058.  
  2059. What is wrong with him!?
  2060.  
  2061. That's the part of my self-image I'm most sensitive about!
  2062.  
  2063. Akihiko: Let me teach you the secret to bodybuilding...
  2064.  
  2065. Akihiko: First thing: protein Second thing: protein...Third, fourth, and fifth: more protein!
  2066.  
  2067. Naoto: Don't you think that's rather unbalanced!?
  2068.  
  2069. Sanada-san flexes his muscles like a bodybuilder...
  2070.  
  2071. Akihiko: And finally, you gotta spar!
  2072.  
  2073. Akihiko: One, two! Haaaaa!
  2074.  
  2075. Naoto: Aah!
  2076.  
  2077. He said "sparring," but that punch was meant to do serious damage!
  2078.  
  2079. This is absurd
  2080.  
  2081. No matter what he says, his fists are definitely real
  2082.  
  2083. ...Shoot, I can't dodge them all!
  2084.  
  2085. Mitsuru: Stop it, Akihiko!
  2086.  
  2087. Akihiko: Mitsuru?
  2088.  
  2089. Sanada-san stops suddenly as a familiar voice echoes through the room...
  2090.  
  2091. Mitsuru: You're under the effects of an illusion...Shirogane has done nothing Do not attack...
  2092.  
  2093. Akihiko: What do you mean? He's the one who attacked...me all of a sudden...
  2094.  
  2095. Naoto: I attacked...?
  2096.  
  2097. ...Suddenly I remember
  2098.  
  2099. That's right; this is all an illusion
  2100.  
  2101. I've never met Sanada-san before, so I didn't know what his "usual self" is supposed to be
  2102.  
  2103. On top of that, I allowed the first thing he said to get under my skin
  2104.  
  2105. ...How stupid of me I let myself get swept up in the situation and failed to realize what was really happening...
  2106.  
  2107. Naoto: From my perspective, it was you who dealt...the first blow...
  2108.  
  2109. Naoto: We were both being shown an illusion to make...us fight each other...
  2110.  
  2111. Mitsuru: Shirogane is an excellent detective ...and a Persona-user I told him everything...He's agreed to cooperate with us...
  2112.  
  2113. Mitsuru: He was originally on the scene as a police...observer in this case, so we've already met
  2114.  
  2115. Kirijo-san and I explain to Sanada-san what has been happening up until now
  2116.  
  2117. It's a relief to learn that, despite his appearance, he's actually quite a reasonable man, and quick to pick up on things...
  2118.  
  2119. Mitsuru: That noise-like phenomenon that fogs your...senses is already gone You should be able...to communicate normally now
  2120.  
  2121. We reintroduce ourselves and shake hands...
  2122.  
  2123. Akihiko: Looks like I fell for a cheap trick...
  2124.  
  2125. Naoto: I'm sorry for forgetting myself, too I can't...even claim to have been unaware of the deception...
  2126.  
  2127. Akihiko: So you're a Persona-user, huh...? Well, since...fate already brought us together, wanna test...your skills before you move on?
  2128.  
  2129. Sanada-san slams his fists together...Mitsuru: Akihiko... you're doing it again Just...cooperate with him...
  2130.  
  2131. Akihiko: Tch... all right, all right C'mon, Naoto,...let's go...
  2132.  
  2133. Naoto: Ah, wait! The tournament rules say...
  2134.  
  2135. As Sanada-san walks away...
  2136.  
  2137. Akihiko: Hrgh...!
  2138.  
  2139. As I figured, he hit the wall...
  2140.  
  2141. Naoto: Are you all right!?
  2142.  
  2143. Mitsuru: What's the matter? What happened!?
  2144.  
  2145. Akihiko: I don't know... There's some kind of invisible...wall here...
  2146.  
  2147. Naoto: The rules dictate that only the winner of...each match can advance So, er...
  2148.  
  2149. He was flustered mere seconds ago, but now Sanada-san has taken on a more lively expression...
  2150.  
  2151. Akihiko: So we need to have a match even though we've...got nothing against each other...
  2152.  
  2153. Akihiko: We're fighting after all then, huh? Alright,...then, come at me!
  2154.  
  2155. Naoto: P-Please go easy on me...
  2156.  
  2157. <BATTLE [vs AKIHIKO]>
  2158.  
  2159. I could almost hear Kirijo-san sigh in exasperation...
  2160.  
  2161. Akihiko: That was a great bout You're good...
  2162.  
  2163. Naoto: A bout...?
  2164.  
  2165. Mitsuru: What an annoying rule...
  2166.  
  2167. Akihiko: Hm...? Wait a second...
  2168.  
  2169. Akihiko: That reminds me, I saw that guy calling himself "General"...walking with a girl If only one person can move on,...that's against the rules
  2170.  
  2171. The fake Teddie and Rise-san were together all this time
  2172.  
  2173. Then could the girl he's talking about be Rise-san?
  2174.  
  2175. No--
  2176.  
  2177. Naoto: Do you remember the details of what this...girl looked like?
  2178.  
  2179. Sanada-san tells me about the girl he'd seen
  2180.  
  2181. What he said matches the description of the "unknown girl" Kanji-kun had talked about
  2182.  
  2183. Which means that there's a high probability that the person seen walking with her was not the General, but the real Teddie
  2184.  
  2185. At the very least, this is evidence against the argument that Teddie is the General
  2186.  
  2187. This creates another theory, though
  2188.  
  2189. If the General is not really Teddie, then he's someone's Shadow...
  2190.  
  2191. And there's only one person that fits the bill
  2192.  
  2193. Well, not "person" per se, but...
  2194.  
  2195. Naoto: If that girl was Labrys, then... well, is it...possible we're dealing with her Shadow?
  2196.  
  2197. That's right, Labrys
  2198.  
  2199. If she has a heart capable of using a Persona, then it stands to reason that she could create a Shadow
  2200.  
  2201. In light of how the events of last year played out, it makes perfect sense
  2202.  
  2203. She was kidnapped by someone who threw her into the TV world, creating a reflection of her heart...
  2204.  
  2205. Mitsuru: Hmm... none of the data I have shows any...connection between Labrys and Yasogami High...
  2206.  
  2207. Mitsuru: On top of which, I don't see how she'd know...about you or your friends...
  2208.  
  2209. I'd been having doubts about that, as well
  2210.  
  2211. But, at least I have a feel for what's going on
  2212.  
  2213. What Labrys' kidnappers hoped to gain from this remains unknown, however...
  2214.  
  2215. At any rate, it wouldn't be good if the Shadow were to run into its owner
  2216.  
  2217. Either way, it's best if I head to the Announcement Room
  2218.  
  2219. It's much more logical to restrain the false Teddie, since I know his location, then it would be to have to search for Labrys somewhere in this world
  2220.  
  2221. Still, if that really is Teddie with Labrys, why are they traveling together?
  2222.  
  2223. Rise: Sheesh, what's that Teddie doing...? I'm sorry...I can't help much, Kirijo-san...
  2224.  
  2225. Mitsuru: You'll have to forgive me for my meager skills...as well My Persona's communication powers are...more for operational assistance...
  2226.  
  2227. Mitsuru: A friend of mine from school was much stronger...than myself in that respect, but...
  2228.  
  2229. Rise: Oh no, it's all that stupid bear's fault,...anyway He's a real genius for making...people worry...
  2230.  
  2231. Akihiko: Man, it's strange running into so many...Persona-users I'd never heard of all at once...
  2232.  
  2233. Akihiko: Ha... I gotta say, it brings back memories...
  2234.  
  2235. Naoto: For us, too We were as surprised as you...
  2236.  
  2237. Naoto: Not to say that the possibility of other Persona-...users hadn't crossed our minds, but to actually...meet them...
  2238.  
  2239. Rise: What you said about a "friend from school" kinda...reminds me of us, too What was school like...for you? I'd like to hear about it...
  2240.  
  2241. Mitsuru: Well... ignoring Akihiko's current appearance,...he was a boxing champion in his student days...
  2242.  
  2243. Akihiko: Hey, that dig was uncalled-for!
  2244.  
  2245. Mitsuru: After that, I don't know what went through his...brain, but he started saying he wanted to...search for stronger opponents...
  2246.  
  2247. Rise: H-He went on a journey to hone his skills!?...I thought that only happened in comics and old...samurai films...
  2248.  
  2249. Akihiko: I thought I had to do it, so I did it...That's all
  2250.  
  2251. This peaceful moment was shattered by Kirijo-san's voice...
  2252.  
  2253. Mitsuru: Wait, what's this I'm sensing...? It's like...a Shadow, but bigger...
  2254.  
  2255. Another Shadow presence? And it isn't the false Teddie?
  2256.  
  2257. Rise: Huh? What's going on...? That fake Teddie left...the Announcement Room!
  2258.  
  2259. Rise-san made a report immediately after that
  2260.  
  2261. Sanada-san and I look at each other
  2262.  
  2263. It looks like the situation is changing
  2264.  
  2265. Sanada-san nods to me, and after taking a small bow, I run off
  2266.  
  2267. With no one watching over her anymore, Rise-san was able to summon her Persona
  2268.  
  2269. The job of providing support moved from Kirijo-san, who not all of us knew, to Rise-san
  2270.  
  2271. Rise-san contacted the rest of us and let us talk to each other for a moment...
  2272.  
  2273. Chie: Oh! Rise-chan!? Thank god you're safe!
  2274.  
  2275. Yukiko: Don't worry, the others are here too...We'll rescue you in no time...
  2276.  
  2277. Yosuke: Huh? Wait... Why's Naoto here?
  2278.  
  2279. I can't help but smile at this as I tell them about the others I had seen so far
  2280.  
  2281. It seems we're all safe for now
  2282.  
  2283. And now that we can communicate, we've greatly increased our awareness of the situation and our ability to share information
  2284.  
  2285. The General must have known that leaving Rise-san alone would result in this
  2286.  
  2287. If he did know, but left her anyway, there must have been something major happening
  2288.  
  2289. Either that, or he no longer has any reason to hide
  2290.  
  2291. I hurry on while we share what we know
  2292.  
  2293. The actual design of this place may differ from the real Yasogami High School, but the general layout appears to be the same
  2294.  
  2295. Then, if I climb the stairs and turn the corner, the Announcement Room should be right there
  2296.  
  2297. However, Rise-san calls out a warning before I can get there...
  2298.  
  2299. Rise: Bad news, Naoto-kun! The fake Teddie's back...
  2300.  
  2301. Naoto: I'm too late...
  2302.  
  2303. Rise: Huh? What the? Is that... the real Teddie!?...Hey, the real Teddie's here too! He's got some...girl with him... I don't know her
  2304.  
  2305. The fact that Rise's communication didn't get cut off once General Teddie reappeared is somewhat worrisome
  2306.  
  2307. But, then again, General Teddie doesn't have the time to bother watching Rise-san
  2308.  
  2309. After all, if the real Teddie and Labrys are both right there as well, he has more important things to be concerned with
  2310.  
  2311. This confirms that General Teddie is a fake
  2312.  
  2313. It's only natural, then, to assume that he is Labrys' Shadow in disguise
  2314.  
  2315. However, that makes things dangerous
  2316.  
  2317. Labrys and her Shadow are confronting each other...
  2318.  
  2319. Rise-san should know the dangers of this situation, but she doesn't know Labrys
  2320.  
  2321. She might not realize what the relationship is between the girl and the Shadow
  2322.  
  2323. I have to warn her!
  2324.  
  2325. But before I could speak, it happened...
  2326.  
  2327. Rise: ...(No way! What's with that girl...!?)...
  2328.  
  2329. The static gets worse...
  2330.  
  2331. Naoto: Rise-san? Rise-san!
  2332.  
  2333. Why can't I communicate with her when we're so close!?
  2334.  
  2335. There's something happening in the Announcement Room
  2336.  
  2337. I run as fast as I can towards it...
  2338.  
  2339. Rise: Aaaaaah!
  2340.  
  2341. As I reach the door, I hear a loud scream from inside
  2342.  
  2343. I slam the door open without a second thought, prepared for a fight
  2344.  
  2345. But the attack came from an unexpected assailant
  2346.  
  2347. Of anyone in that room, I wouldn't have thought it'd be...
  2348.  
  2349. Naoto: Rise-san!
  2350.  
  2351. Rise: Look out!
  2352.  
  2353. Naoto: Huh!?
  2354.  
  2355. I see something glimmer in front of me
  2356.  
  2357. Acting purely on instinct, I duck instantly
  2358.  
  2359. A low whizzing sound passes above my head
  2360.  
  2361. What was that?
  2362.  
  2363. Did something get thrown my way?
  2364.  
  2365. Rise: Naoto-kun!
  2366.  
  2367. Rise-san turns towards me
  2368.  
  2369. I look at her from across the room
  2370.  
  2371. She is lying on something large on the ground
  2372.  
  2373. On closer inspection, the red-and-white lump she is holding down is Teddie
  2374.  
  2375. I see General Teddie in the back of the room, so the one with Rise-san has to be the real one
  2376.  
  2377. A girl is standing between Teddie and the General
  2378.  
  2379. I've never seen her before, but looking at her mechanical body, I can tell who she is
  2380.  
  2381. That's Labrys...
  2382.  
  2383. Rise: What should we do...? That girl wasn't normal......she wasn't even human...!
  2384.  
  2385. Rise: I know it sounds hard to believe, but she's...a robot or something! She defeated Teddie...and, um...
  2386.  
  2387. Naoto: Calm down! Are you talking about Labrys?
  2388.  
  2389. Though Rise-san is quite shaken, she still nods...
  2390.  
  2391. Naoto: The riddle is solved, then...
  2392.  
  2393. Naoto: You're not the real Teddie You're only a Shadow...taking his form...
  2394.  
  2395. Naoto: The Shadow of Labrys here, to be precise!
  2396.  
  2397. General Teddie: Ahaaa, no wonder they call you the Detective...Prince, Nao-chan! You cracked the case!
  2398.  
  2399. General Teddie: But even if you've figured it out, there's...still nothing you can do
  2400.  
  2401. I carefully watch General Teddie as he scoffs
  2402.  
  2403. Whatever it was he threw at me...
  2404.  
  2405. I was too busy dodging to see it clearly, but it must be dangerous
  2406.  
  2407. I'm sure he won't hurt his "owner" until he hears a certain phrase from her, but he has no reason to be gentle with the rest of us
  2408.  
  2409. I point my gun at him, ready for any more of his attacks
  2410.  
  2411. However...
  2412.  
  2413. The next attack comes from a direction I had not been expecting...
  2414.  
  2415. Naoto: What...!?
  2416.  
  2417. There's a droning sound... It's coming from a giant axe, flying at me
  2418.  
  2419. The axe is bigger than I am, spinning through the air towards me
  2420.  
  2421. Like a boomerang, it curves back and returns to the hands of its wielder
  2422.  
  2423. There are thrusters behind the blade, allowing the axe to fly as it spins
  2424.  
  2425. It wasn't General Teddie attacking me...
  2426.  
  2427. It was Labrys Not the Shadow, but the real one
  2428.  
  2429. What's going on!? Wait, did she attack me the first time, as well!?
  2430.  
  2431. That would explain why Rise-san is so shaken up...
  2432.  
  2433. But the Shadow's right in front of her; why is she going after me!?
  2434.  
  2435. Labrys: It's not true... I'm human... This is all just...a bad dream... I gotta destroy everything...
  2436.  
  2437. Naoto: "I'm human"...?
  2438.  
  2439. I can't find any meaning in what she's saying
  2440.  
  2441. I want to convince her to stop, but I can't come up with the right words to do so
  2442.  
  2443. Labrys takes a fighting stance without wasting a moment
  2444.  
  2445. It looks like the only way to bring Labrys back to normal is to fight her...
  2446.  
  2447. Naoto: Rise-san, please stay back...
  2448.  
  2449. Rise: Naoto-kun!?
  2450.  
  2451. I never really expected to be able to convince her in the first place, with the Shadow here
  2452.  
  2453. I bite the bullet...
  2454.  
  2455. Naoto: I will stop her... no matter what!
  2456.  
  2457. <BATTLE [vs LABRYS]>
  2458.  
  2459. General Teddie: Aww, she beat you fair and square You really...are useless, Labby-chan
  2460.  
  2461. After Labrys collapses, the Shadow looks at her as if she was trash...
  2462.  
  2463. General Teddie skuYour whole reason for being is to fight,...and you can't even do that...
  2464.  
  2465. General Teddie skuYou're not worth a damn!...You... don't need to exist anymore
  2466.  
  2467. The Shadow's voice and speech pattern begin to slip away from its impersonation of Teddie
  2468.  
  2469. No, that's not all
  2470.  
  2471. The fake Teddie's appearance begins to warp, as well
  2472.  
  2473. ...Finally, the time has come for it to reveal its true self
  2474.  
  2475. The form that it takes is... As I thought Labrys!
  2476.  
  2477. Shadow Labrys: I am a shadow, the true self...
  2478.  
  2479. Labrys: That's... my face...
  2480.  
  2481. Shadow Labrys: Huh, you don't want to remember?...Fine! You can die like that!
  2482.  
  2483. Labrys: Huh...!?
  2484.  
  2485. What!? She's attacking her owner now!?
  2486.  
  2487. Is it a threat to pressure her...?
  2488.  
  2489. No, this is a Shadow we're dealing with after all
  2490.  
  2491. There is no knowing what it will do...
  2492.  
  2493. Naoto: Stop it!
  2494.  
  2495. Shadow Labrys: What's this? Why are you protecting her?...It's her fault that you all had to fight...each other, you know
  2496.  
  2497. With that, she turns to her other self and looks down at her with disdain in her eyes...
  2498.  
  2499. Shadow Labrys: You want the everyday boys and girls to...experience what you had to go through...
  2500.  
  2501. Shadow Labrys: Right? That's why we're in school,...having a fighting tournament...
  2502.  
  2503. Labrys: Huh...!? Th-That ain't...!
  2504.  
  2505. Shadow Labrys: My home was a horrible place... They made us...fight and kill each other just to collect...combat data...
  2506.  
  2507. Shadow Labrys: It hurt so much... but no one understands...How can I make them see...?
  2508.  
  2509. Shadow Labrys: I know! I'll force friends to fight each...other... Maybe then they'll understand...
  2510.  
  2511. Shadow Labrys: No... I want to MAKE them understand...
  2512.  
  2513. Labrys: Th-That ain't true...! That's not what I want!
  2514.  
  2515. Shadow Labrys: Oh yeah...? Then let me take over from here...
  2516.  
  2517. Shadow Labrys: I'll destroy everyone who pretends to...understand... just like you did before!
  2518.  
  2519. Labrys: Stop! I've had enough...!
  2520.  
  2521. Naoto: Labrys...!
  2522.  
  2523. Labrys: No...! You're not me!
  2524.  
  2525. Shadow Labrys: Ahahahaha! You said it! You finally said it!...The power... I can feel it building!
  2526.  
  2527. A sinister aura surges from the Shadow
  2528.  
  2529. Even the surroundings begin to warp with its energy
  2530.  
  2531. In an instant, the area becomes dominated by a piercing red light
  2532.  
  2533. The view from beyond the window has changed completely
  2534.  
  2535. I hear Rise-san gasp behind me
  2536.  
  2537. I don't know what this place is modeled after, but I get the sense that someone carved open a living creature's stomach
  2538.  
  2539. This is the reflection of Labrys' heart... The suffering she carries...
  2540.  
  2541. The Shadow's golden eyes stand out even more in the dusky redness, focusing on me
  2542.  
  2543. I change my mindset
  2544.  
  2545. There is only one thing to do here
  2546.  
  2547. Just as my friends did for me...
  2548.  
  2549. Naoto: Rise-san, you watch Labrys and Teddie...
  2550.  
  2551. Rise: I got 'em Good luck, Naoto-kun...
  2552.  
  2553. Naoto: Yes... I'll save her
  2554.  
  2555. <BATTLE [vs SHADOW LABRYS]>
  2556.  
  2557. The giant creature behind the Shadow--I had begun to think of it as part of the Shadow itself--vanishes with a loud roar
  2558.  
  2559. I managed to defeat her
  2560.  
  2561. She shows no further signs of resistance
  2562.  
  2563. Cautiously, I turn around and walk to Labrys, who is still sitting on the floor, being held up by Rise-san
  2564.  
  2565. It seems Teddie has also regained consciousness
  2566.  
  2567. He had broken into a sweat, flustering as he stands next to Rise-san...
  2568.  
  2569. Naoto: Are you all right?
  2570.  
  2571. Labrys has a melancholy look on her face as she hangs her head
  2572.  
  2573. She's so human-like...
  2574.  
  2575. The sheer authenticity of that expression makes that thought appear in my mind...
  2576.  
  2577. Naoto: I didn't have the chance to introduce myself...I'm Naoto Shirogane...
  2578.  
  2579. Naoto: You're Labrys... is that correct?
  2580.  
  2581. She raises her head, but neither confirms nor denies it
  2582.  
  2583. She just quietly stares at her double across the room
  2584.  
  2585. A machine given the ability to summon a Persona...
  2586.  
  2587. The Persona ability was the primary objective in her creation; the fact that she also developed a heart came as a byproduct
  2588.  
  2589. How much suffering did she have to go through, having been treated like an object for so long?
  2590.  
  2591. It isn't easy to imagine...
  2592.  
  2593. Naoto: I can't claim to understand your pain...
  2594.  
  2595. Naoto: It was only today that I learned you existed,...to say nothing of the weapons program from...which you sprung...
  2596.  
  2597. Naoto: But there is one thing I do understand...
  2598.  
  2599. I kneel and look Labrys in the eyes...
  2600.  
  2601. Naoto: Look carefully at me Do I... seem like a...man or a woman to you?
  2602.  
  2603. Labrys: Huh...? Whaddaya mean?
  2604.  
  2605. Naoto: You and I are alike... there is such a gulf...between what we yearn to be and what we are...that we have trouble accepting our true nature...
  2606.  
  2607. Labrys: Our true nature...?
  2608.  
  2609. Naoto: Just as I cannot break the glass ceiling of...my profession, you cannot become human......that is the painful truth...
  2610.  
  2611. Naoto: But if we were able to change, would that truly...bring us happiness?
  2612.  
  2613. Naoto: I feel there is something only you or I can...offer, because of who we really are...
  2614.  
  2615. Labrys: There's somethin' a machine like me can offer...?
  2616.  
  2617. She pauses...
  2618.  
  2619. Labrys: Even if there is somethin' like that......there's no place I belong...
  2620.  
  2621. Teddie: That's... not true I'm not human either,...but I work at Junes!
  2622.  
  2623. Teddie: The part-time ladies give me sweets sometimes...and everything!
  2624.  
  2625. Labrys: ......
  2626.  
  2627. Naoto: The heart is always lacking something It may...be that you and I will be troubled by this same...thing for the rest of our lives...
  2628.  
  2629. Naoto: But please don't forget that you're not...alone anymore...
  2630.  
  2631. Labrys: I'm... not alone...
  2632.  
  2633. I nod strongly to Labrys as she looks up at me
  2634.  
  2635. I repeat it for emphasis...
  2636.  
  2637. Naoto: Don't worry You're not alone...
  2638.  
  2639. Teddie: That's right! I'll stick to you like glue!
  2640.  
  2641. Rise: And it won't be just us! I'm sure you'll make...lots of friends with everyone in town!
  2642.  
  2643. Labrys: Really? A machine like me...?
  2644.  
  2645. We nod Labrys stands up and approaches her Shadow...
  2646.  
  2647. Labrys: They said... it's okay to be me Doesn't that...make you happy too?
  2648.  
  2649. She takes the Shadow's hand as it droops its head listlessly...
  2650.  
  2651. Labrys: I'm so sorry I locked you up inside me for...all that time...
  2652.  
  2653. Labrys: But we'll be okay now I'm not alone... and...you're not either, right...?
  2654.  
  2655. Naoto: Labrys, there are some people from the Kirijo...Group here looking for you...
  2656.  
  2657. Labrys: I wonder if they'll stick me back in that...box again...
  2658.  
  2659. Labrys: Haha, of course they will... after all, I caused...a lotta trouble... what else are they gonna do?
  2660.  
  2661. Naoto: I can't say anything about that for certain...
  2662.  
  2663. Naoto: But you should talk with them It's your right...to be where you belong...
  2664.  
  2665. Labrys: Yeah... you're right...
  2666.  
  2667. At that moment, I hear several sets of footsteps approaching from outside
  2668.  
  2669. I stand and take a fighting pose for an instant, but relax when I hear familiar voices
  2670.  
  2671. I ease up and smile...
  2672.  
  2673. Yu: Is everyone all right?
  2674.  
  2675. Kanji: Whoa, S-Senpai! You're back from the city...already!?
  2676.  
  2677. Chie: Never mind him, Kanji-kun, what about you!?...What've you been doing all this time!?
  2678.  
  2679. The Shadow host was defeated; the invisible walls must have disappeared
  2680.  
  2681. This place is familiar to all of us
  2682.  
  2683. With the walls gone, finding each other is a piece of cake...
  2684.  
  2685. Yosuke: Yo, Naoto! Haha, guess you made the big...meetup after all, huh? I swear, we're tied...together by fate or something...
  2686.  
  2687. Yosuke: Actually... is that the real you, Teddie?
  2688.  
  2689. Teddie: *sigh* You're so blind sometimes, Yosuke...
  2690.  
  2691. Yukiko: Rise-chan! I'm so glad you're safe...
  2692.  
  2693. Rise: Senpai! You're all here!
  2694.  
  2695. Kirijo-san's group comes in behind Senpai and the others
  2696.  
  2697. The room instantly falls silent
  2698.  
  2699. Perhaps some of the others had encountered them during a match before I did, but in general everyone was shocked to see them
  2700.  
  2701. Kirijo-san weaves between all of us and walks directly toward Labrys...
  2702.  
  2703. Mitsuru: ...You must be Labrys
  2704.  
  2705. All of us hold our breath at Kirijo-san's dignified voice...
  2706.  
  2707. Mitsuru: I'm Mitsuru Kirijo You may have heard already......but I came to collect you...
  2708.  
  2709. Labrys: I...
  2710.  
  2711. "Collect"
  2712.  
  2713. At that, Labrys takes a step back
  2714.  
  2715. I put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her
  2716.  
  2717. She looks at me, and I nod
  2718.  
  2719. Human, robot... anyone It doesn't change anything
  2720.  
  2721. But, no matter who you are, there are things that you have to carry out through your own actions, using your own words...
  2722.  
  2723. Labrys: I don't wanna go back in that box......or to that lab...
  2724.  
  2725. As Labrys managed to say it, a voice speaks up from behind Kirijo-san...
  2726.  
  2727. Aigis: Mitsuru-san, I'd like to ask that you consider...her request...
  2728.  
  2729. Aigis: Labrys'... my sister's abilities will surely...be useful to us Please...
  2730.  
  2731. Aigis: Can't we enlist her on a trial basis and...see what happens?
  2732.  
  2733. "Sister"
  2734.  
  2735. Surprised by that unfamiliar appellation, Labrys looks towards the speaker...
  2736.  
  2737. Labrys: You're a robot, too...
  2738.  
  2739. Aigis: It's nice to meet you I'm Aigis, the 7th Generation...Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon...
  2740.  
  2741. Aigis: I'm your successor... Sister...
  2742.  
  2743. Labrys: We're... sisters?
  2744.  
  2745. She answered Labrys with a smile
  2746.  
  2747. Amazing... Her tone, her expressions; they are all so human...
  2748.  
  2749. Naoto: I'd like to third their request I'm well...aware that I'm in no place to make demands...on you, but...
  2750.  
  2751. Kirijo-san gave a wry smile after a third objection...
  2752.  
  2753. Mitsuru: Haha, I'm starting to feel like the bad guy...
  2754.  
  2755. Mitsuru: There's no need to worry I wasn't thinking...of sealing you away again...
  2756.  
  2757. Labrys: R-Really...?
  2758.  
  2759. Mitsuru: You've awakened to your Persona and gained...control over it...
  2760.  
  2761. Mitsuru: True, I don't know for sure that the danger...is past, but I don't feel that you need to be...sealed off from humanity...
  2762.  
  2763. Mitsuru: Particularly since... it's obvious that you...have a heart...
  2764.  
  2765. Naoto: Kirijo-san...
  2766.  
  2767. Teddie: Labby-chan doesn't need to be all alone...anywhere!? Yaaaay!
  2768.  
  2769. Yu: Uh, Naoto? Sorry to interrupt, but who are...these people...?
  2770.  
  2771. Yosuke: They kinda look like a bunch of freaks...
  2772.  
  2773. Kanji: Yeah, I mean, one of em's not even human...
  2774.  
  2775. Yu: Uhh... I guess she's a robot?
  2776.  
  2777. Chie: Hm...? Wait a sec, "Kirijo"...?
  2778.  
  2779. Chie: As in, the Kirijo Group!? Wait, what!?...What's going on here...!?
  2780.  
  2781. All my friends begin to look at me, the only one who knows everything
  2782.  
  2783. Er... Where should I start?
  2784.  
  2785. More importantly, how much should I disclose?
  2786.  
  2787. Either way, it looks like it's going to be a long explanation
  2788.  
  2789. First, though, I suggest that we change locations
  2790.  
  2791. It's important to share information, but it is imperative that we all get out of here safely
  2792.  
  2793. Teddie leads us to the roof
  2794.  
  2795. When he opens the door to the roof, though, we find ourselves in a place that looks nothing like the real thing
  2796.  
  2797. Everyone besides Teddie starts in surprise
  2798.  
  2799. Outside the door is a space that resembles a TV studio...
  2800.  
  2801. That's right... It's the place that we used as an "entrance lobby" to the TV world last year
  2802.  
  2803. It disappeared once, but it must have reappeared when Labrys entered this world and created the school here
  2804.  
  2805. The others told me that the Midnight Channel aired again; whoever watched the broadcast must have associated it with last year's airings
  2806.  
  2807. That explains why it looks exactly the same
  2808.  
  2809. At any rate, it looks like we'll be able to exit here in one piece
  2810.  
  2811. As I sigh in relief, Kirijo-san turns to us...
  2812.  
  2813. Mitsuru: I should introduce myself to the rest of you...
  2814.  
  2815. Mitsuru: I am Mitsuru Kirijo I cannot tell you who I...am affiliated with or my position, but I bear...all responsibility for Labrys...
  2816.  
  2817. Mitsuru: This case... the whole disturbance was mainly...due to us I'm very sorry for putting you in...such danger
  2818.  
  2819. Kirijo-san sums up the sequence of events
  2820.  
  2821. Labrys' entry into this world was the cause of it all
  2822.  
  2823. She and the others came here after her...
  2824.  
  2825. Chie: Um, how do you know Mitsuru-san, Naoto-kun?
  2826.  
  2827. Naoto: That's, well...
  2828.  
  2829. Mitsuru: Shirogane was working with us Since it was our...first time in this world, he helped us safely...reach Labrys...
  2830.  
  2831. Yukiko: So the "job" you had was to bring Mitsuru-san...and the others here?
  2832.  
  2833. Naoto: Huh...? Er, well...
  2834.  
  2835. Mitsuru: That was basically it I'm sorry, but there...are some things he cannot disclose I ask...for your understanding in that regard...
  2836.  
  2837. Chie: Sure, sure, detective stuff I getcha...That's pretty cool!
  2838.  
  2839. Sanada-san and Aigis-san don't say a word, even after Kirijo-san's "explanation"
  2840.  
  2841. It's not completely a lie, but still...
  2842.  
  2843. I shrug and sigh softly
  2844.  
  2845. If I had denied that incomplete explanation, it would be the same as admitting that I was working against them...
  2846.  
  2847. Naoto: (Haha, I really am no match for her...)
  2848.  
  2849. Teddie: Well then, let's all go home!
  2850.  
  2851. Teddie: Alrighty! Attention, please! The trip doesn't...end until we get out of the TV...
  2852.  
  2853. Yosuke: Dude, you really gave us a scare! And this...isn't the first time, either!
  2854.  
  2855. Yosuke: *sigh* Well, at least it ended well...
  2856.  
  2857. Chie: You know... I understand about Rise-chan and...Teddie, but why did Kanji-kun go missing again?
  2858.  
  2859. Kanji: Huh? Oh, well, because, uhh...
  2860.  
  2861. Naoto: You needed a change of pace, no?
  2862.  
  2863. Yosuke: ...What?
  2864.  
  2865. Naoto: Did I misspeak? You said something like,..."sometimes a man just wants to be alone...inside a TV"...
  2866.  
  2867. Chie: As if!
  2868.  
  2869. Kanji: Naoto, you bastard! Why'd you have to tell...'em that!?
  2870.  
  2871. Labrys laughs at our small talk
  2872.  
  2873. Looking at her, I begin to feel like this episode wasn't so bad after all
  2874.  
  2875. But, suddenly...
  2876.  
  2877. Labrys' smile suddenly disappears, and her body freezes in an unnatural position...
  2878.  
  2879. Naoto: ...Labrys...?
  2880.  
  2881. Labrys does not answer me
  2882.  
  2883. Sanada-san shouts a warning...
  2884.  
  2885. Akihiko: Get away from her!
  2886.  
  2887. Everyone jumps back, confused
  2888.  
  2889. Kanji-kun wasn't even sure what he was supposed to be backing away from at first
  2890.  
  2891. Soon, though, we all stand around her in a ring
  2892.  
  2893. Labrys stands in the center, completely motionless...
  2894.  
  2895. Mitsuru: What's going on!?
  2896.  
  2897. Aigis: I don't know! I can only tell that she's probably...being controlled from outside...
  2898.  
  2899. Controlled!?
  2900.  
  2901. As we all watch her, confused and nervous, Labrys' right hand slowly begins to move
  2902.  
  2903. It reaches around her back to her thrusters... or rather, to the axe
  2904.  
  2905. Labrys' eyes were staring blankly into space, but suddenly glance at me
  2906.  
  2907. Mitsuru: Shirogane!
  2908.  
  2909. The warning comes at the same instant as the attack
  2910.  
  2911. I can feel the wind of the axe's passage as I bend backwards to dodge the blow
  2912.  
  2913. If she'd gone after anyone else, things might not have been so fortunate; I'm the only one who's actually seen that attack
  2914.  
  2915. But, Labrys follows up with a different attack
  2916.  
  2917. I gulp in spite of myself
  2918.  
  2919. That white, elegant silhouette behind Labrys...
  2920.  
  2921. I'd almost forgotten
  2922.  
  2923. Labrys now has the power of a Persona
  2924.  
  2925. Fighting her won't be as easy as it was before...
  2926.  
  2927. Naoto: Labrys... why...? Never mind, it can wait!
  2928.  
  2929. <BATTLE [vs LABRYS]>
  2930.  
  2931. I emerged victorious, but I don't have enough energy remaining to run up to her
  2932.  
  2933. I breathed heavily and look at her
  2934.  
  2935. Aigis-san runs towards Labrys in my place...
  2936.  
  2937. Aigis: Sister, are you all right!?
  2938.  
  2939. Labrys: Ngh...
  2940.  
  2941. Suddenly, an uncanny voice echoes throughout the studio...
  2942.  
  2943. Familiar Voice: My... to think she'd fall so easily
  2944.  
  2945. Everyone glances around, trying to find where it came from...
  2946.  
  2947. Familiar Voice: I hoped that she'd provide more entertainment......What a disappointment
  2948.  
  2949. As soon as this sentence is complete, all eyes turn towards me
  2950.  
  2951. I cannot blame them
  2952.  
  2953. After all, this voice... was mine
  2954.  
  2955. The darkness in the center of the ring twists and squirms like gel
  2956.  
  2957. A face forms on its surface, and it hardens into limbs and a human-like body It stands up
  2958.  
  2959. The thing standing before us was... again, me
  2960.  
  2961. No... just something taking my shape...
  2962.  
  2963. Chie: Naoto-kun's Shadow!? Why...?
  2964.  
  2965. Kanji: I thought you disappeared!
  2966.  
  2967. I can't stop myself from being filled with anxiety
  2968.  
  2969. But I keep my voice calm as I ask it a question...
  2970.  
  2971. Naoto: Who are you?
  2972.  
  2973. Shadow Naoto(?): Once you've gained your Persona, you're not...supposed to see your Shadow again... that's...what you thought, isn't it?
  2974.  
  2975. Shadow Naoto(?): Did you really think I had gone away?
  2976.  
  2977. Shadow Naoto(?): Hahaha... well, too bad Man cannot let go so...easily of his weakness! I'm always with you!
  2978.  
  2979. Yosuke: No... this can't be happening...!
  2980.  
  2981. My friends become even more disturbed
  2982.  
  2983. They certainly had cause to worry... Could the same thing happen to them? Will it?
  2984.  
  2985. I, however, did not stir Instead, I suddenly understood what had happened
  2986.  
  2987. This thing's objective was clearly to cause us to panic...
  2988.  
  2989. Naoto: Enough farce... you are not my Shadow
  2990.  
  2991. I walk towards this copy of me... the real enemy...
  2992.  
  2993. Naoto: I know that for two reasons First, I was able...to use my Persona in the battle just now...
  2994.  
  2995. Naoto: One's Persona and Shadow are two sides of...a coin... if you are my Shadow, my Persona...should have been unusable...
  2996.  
  2997. Naoto: Second, you took control of Labrys just now...That's an unusual power, far beyond the...capabilities of a human like myself...
  2998.  
  2999. Shadow Naoto(?): ......
  3000.  
  3001. Naoto: I'm sorry to say you've dug yourself a deeper...hole by showing off that ability...
  3002.  
  3003. Naoto: With a power like that, you could drive a man...to extreme acts... which was the missing piece...in this case...
  3004.  
  3005. Mitsuru: You mean the hijacking wasn't just the work...of a highly motivated crew...
  3006.  
  3007. Mitsuru: Rather, whoever we're talking to now was...
  3008.  
  3009. Naoto: It was Labrys' dark wish that we fight each...other, but what if someone knew beforehand...that that would happen?
  3010.  
  3011. Naoto: Labrys has a heart, but she's also a machine...Unlike humans, her memories can be tampered with...
  3012.  
  3013. Naoto: By using Labrys, you thought you could...orchestrate the disturbance her Shadow...would create in this world...
  3014.  
  3015. Naoto: Your objective is as you just said... To gather...Persona-users, have them fight, disrupt their...hearts, and steal their Personas...
  3016.  
  3017. Naoto: That's why you're appearing in the form of my...Shadow right now... to confuse me...
  3018.  
  3019. Naoto: You're the real puppetmaster behind this case!
  3020.  
  3021. Shadow Naoto(?): *chuckle* I'm surprised... very insightful of you,...Naoto Shirogane Quite impressive work!
  3022.  
  3023. Malevolent Entity: I didn't expect you to fight back this fiercely...Sadly, it seems things won't be going according...to plan this time...
  3024.  
  3025. Malevolent Entity: But I'll make use of what tools I have to the...very end This is my last chance... No, more like a marvelous entertainment...
  3026.  
  3027. Malevolent Entity: Now stand, my puppet
  3028.  
  3029. Labrys staggers to her feet
  3030.  
  3031. There's no doubt now This is the person controlling Labrys...
  3032.  
  3033. ...and she has yet to break free from the spell...
  3034.  
  3035. Malevolent Entity: Poor thing It's all worn out because of you...It shouldn't have much strength left to fight...
  3036.  
  3037. Malevolent Entity: But unless you destroy it, it will keep rising...up and attacking you all... What will you do?
  3038.  
  3039. Naoto: ......!
  3040.  
  3041. Labrys pointed her axe at me for the second, no, third time
  3042.  
  3043. Rather than caution, I felt sympathy
  3044.  
  3045. The forced "killing of comrades," against one's will...
  3046.  
  3047. I see now...
  3048.  
  3049. This is "the past" her Shadow had talked about...
  3050.  
  3051. Mitsuru: Shirogane! You need to stand back!
  3052.  
  3053. Kirijo-san steps in front of me...
  3054.  
  3055. Naoto: Wait! If we all attack her, we may end up...destroying Labrys!
  3056.  
  3057. Mitsuru: But...!
  3058.  
  3059. Naoto: She's just under its control If we can release...her, she should stop attacking!
  3060.  
  3061. I glance over at Rise-san...
  3062.  
  3063. Rise: Huh? Is that possible...? All right, I'll give...it a try!
  3064.  
  3065. Perhaps Rise-san's Persona was powerful enough to do it...
  3066.  
  3067. I think it's worth trying
  3068.  
  3069. However...
  3070.  
  3071. Rise: Ngh... it's no use! What is that thing!?...It's not a Shadow... it's way too strong!
  3072.  
  3073. I had a feeling things wouldn't be so easy
  3074.  
  3075. Out of options, Kirijo-san signals Aigis-san with a troubled look on her face...
  3076.  
  3077. Mitsuru: Aigis... prepare for the worst
  3078.  
  3079. Aigis-san opens her eyes in shock
  3080.  
  3081. A look of astonishment, and not the good kind
  3082.  
  3083. But she quickly regains her composure and begins readying her weapons
  3084.  
  3085. She slowly aimed them at Labrys
  3086.  
  3087. Realizing what was happening, Rise-san hastily interjects...Rise: No, wait! Let me try again...!
  3088.  
  3089. But, Aigis-san pays her no heed; Labrys is in her sights
  3090.  
  3091. She looked calm, but it hurts just to see her expression
  3092.  
  3093. That's only natural
  3094.  
  3095. She called Labrys her sister...
  3096.  
  3097. Malevolent Entity: Good... now suffer Relinquish your Personas!
  3098.  
  3099. At that very moment...
  3100.  
  3101. Kirijo-san suddenly looks up
  3102.  
  3103. She closes her eyes
  3104.  
  3105. She gathers her strength, as she had when she tried to establish a line of communication with her own Persona
  3106.  
  3107. But who is she trying to reach...?
  3108.  
  3109. Mitsuru: I see... Now!
  3110.  
  3111. Who is she talking to?
  3112.  
  3113. Is there someone here besides us?
  3114.  
  3115. As I stared at Kirijo-san in bewilderment, it happens
  3116.  
  3117. Without warning Labrys freezes in place
  3118.  
  3119. The menacing aura that she had been giving off dissipates in an instant...
  3120.  
  3121. Malevolent Entity: What!?
  3122.  
  3123. For the first time, I can hear panic in the enemy's voice
  3124.  
  3125. Freed from the power of the enemy, Labrys' body collapses to the ground
  3126.  
  3127. Aigis-san's weapons fold back into her body and she runs to Labrys, as if all her pent-up emotions were exploding behind her like a rocket...
  3128.  
  3129. Yosuke: What the heck was that...!?
  3130.  
  3131. Rise: I don't know... I was getting desperate, too...It seemed like something far away stepped in...
  3132.  
  3133. Malevolent Entity: Ngh... this can't be...!
  3134.  
  3135. Mitsuru: It's just as we thought The enemy is taking...on your appearance and has no connection to...you Feel free to cut loose
  3136.  
  3137. Kirijo-san's voice is full of confidence
  3138.  
  3139. I don't know what she did, but when she speaks so confidently, it's impossible to doubt her
  3140.  
  3141. I look at the enemy again... My face, but with a different expression...
  3142.  
  3143. Naoto: There's something I want to ask before I fight...
  3144.  
  3145. Malevolent Entity: What now?
  3146.  
  3147. Naoto: Why... did you choose me?
  3148.  
  3149. Naoto: Of all the Persona-users here, why did you...use my face?
  3150.  
  3151. Malevolent Entity: Hahahaha, is that all!? Of course I chose you...
  3152.  
  3153. Malevolent Entity: You were the most unstable of the lot!
  3154.  
  3155. Malevolent Entity: Never quite sure whether to call yourself...a man or a woman... your indecisiveness...made you the perfect prey!
  3156.  
  3157. I clench my fists, but keep my anger in check After a moment, I nonchalantly tip my hat back on my head...
  3158.  
  3159. Naoto: There's actually something I've been curious...to know all this time...
  3160.  
  3161. Naoto: Last year, when my real Shadow went berserk,...I was forced to the sidelines...
  3162.  
  3163. Naoto: It left me wondering... whether I could have...overcome that other "me" on my own...
  3164.  
  3165. Naoto: This is the perfect chance to find out......I won't hold back an inch!
  3166.  
  3167. <BATTLE [vs MALEVOLENT ENTITY]>
  3168.  
  3169. The enemy staggers and falls to her knees, her face--or rather, mine--writhing in agony...
  3170.  
  3171. Rise: You did it!
  3172.  
  3173. Teddie: You're so cool, Nao-chan!
  3174.  
  3175. Kanji: I can't believe you could go that nuts on...something that looked like you...
  3176.  
  3177. Naoto: It may have taken my shape, but it wasn't me...I had no reason to relent
  3178.  
  3179. I fully believe what I said, but Kanji-kun doesn't seem satisfied, for some reason
  3180.  
  3181. Kirijo-san looks down at the enemy...
  3182.  
  3183. Mitsuru: You'll be coming with us There are some things...we still want to ask you...
  3184.  
  3185. Malevolent Entity: Hahaha... this is fine with me There were many...twists and turns along the way, but I'm not...displeased with the results...
  3186.  
  3187. Malevolent Entity: It was good enough for this time that I confirmed...you have the power to meet my expectations...
  3188.  
  3189. Naoto: "This time"...?
  3190.  
  3191. Malevolent Entity: This is only a temporary form...
  3192.  
  3193. Malevolent Entity: I doubted there'd be any meaning in changing...my appearance, but sure enough, it made for...a very enjoyable game...
  3194.  
  3195. Malevolent Entity: I will see you in another guise next time...Just wait until then...
  3196.  
  3197. Malevolent Entity: *chuckle* Ahahahaha...
  3198.  
  3199. The enemy laughs and begins to fade away...
  3200.  
  3201. Mitsuru: Wait!
  3202.  
  3203. Of course, the enemy simply disappears into thin air
  3204.  
  3205. Who was she...?
  3206.  
  3207. What was her objective, trying to separate us from our Personas...?
  3208.  
  3209. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to the core of the matter
  3210.  
  3211. But still, "next time," huh...?
  3212.  
  3213. Yosuke: Hell no! Don't you dare come back again!
  3214.  
  3215. Chie: Yeah, what he said!
  3216.  
  3217. Kanji: Seriously, that was one sick bastard...
  3218.  
  3219. Teddie: Copying Nao-chan was going too fur!...Bad enough that it was in violetation of...my image rights, taking my form like that!
  3220.  
  3221. Yukiko: I wonder if this is the start of something...bigger...
  3222.  
  3223. Rise: Yeah... I don't think we should let our...guard down
  3224.  
  3225. Everyone's face clouds with anxiety
  3226.  
  3227. No one could have imagined that we would run into some bigger threat like this
  3228.  
  3229. Does the enemy plan to cause another incident like this again...?
  3230.  
  3231. ...Are we going to get more humiliating catchphrases?
  3232.  
  3233. "Killjoy Detective..."
  3234.  
  3235. A-Am I really that bad...?
  3236.  
  3237. It appears that Kirijo-san has worries of her own, though...
  3238.  
  3239. Aigis: My analysis didn't make it in time...But that was...
  3240.  
  3241. Mitsuru: It's hard to believe Then again...
  3242.  
  3243. With a strong look in her eyes, she swallows her fears and comes to us as we discuss who the identity of the mastermind could be...
  3244.  
  3245. Mitsuru: In any case, you don't have to worry about it...It's our responsibility from here on out...
  3246.  
  3247. Yu: But it was obviously targeting us We can't...shrug and go on our way after that...
  3248.  
  3249. Naoto: He's correct Given that it's taken an interest...in us, we must arm ourselves against it...
  3250.  
  3251. Mitsuru: Of course, you should be aware that the enemy...is out there... but there is no need to abandon...your lives to pursue it...
  3252.  
  3253. Mitsuru: We will do our best to ensure that no harm...comes to you That is, after all, our duty
  3254.  
  3255. I can sense that she is completely sincere
  3256.  
  3257. We all trade glances, but we eventually concede with our leader's opinion: we'll agree to Kirijo-san's offer
  3258.  
  3259. There are some lingering regrets, but we have little choice right now
  3260.  
  3261. Seeing that everything is settled, Teddie butts in and strikes a strange pose
  3262.  
  3263. We turn to look at him, and with a grin of pride, he kicks at the floor with his heel
  3264.  
  3265. That is his usual little dance when summoning the "exit" TV to get us out of the TV world
  3266.  
  3267. Kirijo-san's group is obviously surprised, and they look pointedly at the TV...
  3268.  
  3269. Akihiko: What're you doing with this ancient TV?...Hang on... where'd you even get this?
  3270.  
  3271. Teddie: It's a Teddie-vision! You can get out...from here!
  3272.  
  3273. Mitsuru: This TV is our escape route...? Can we......really fit inside...?
  3274.  
  3275. Teddie: Ooh! Are you a little too front-loaded...to fit!? In that case, I wouldn't mind...helping you squeeze through...!
  3276.  
  3277. Rise: You're even worse than before, you know that...?
  3278.  
  3279. We all pass through Teddie's TV and make it back to the real world
  3280.  
  3281. Of course, Kirijo-san is a bit flustered to find herself in the middle of a department store
  3282.  
  3283. Labrys looks slightly lonely, but she follows Kirijo-san by her own free will
  3284.  
  3285. There shouldn't be anything to worry about... Remembering Aigis-san's gentle smile, I know that they'll make sure Labrys is all right
  3286.  
  3287. And so, the incident came to a close...
  3288.  
  3289. The following day: May 4th
  3290.  
  3291. Kirijo-san had stayed the night pursuing a follow-up investigation, and is going back to the city today
  3292.  
  3293. We learned that from none other than Labrys, who had called us all, wanting to say goodbye in person
  3294.  
  3295. And, of course, we were obliged to see them off
  3296.  
  3297. At an intersection just outside the shopping district, we gathered by that oh-so-familiar limousine to exchange parting words with Labrys...
  3298.  
  3299. Labrys: I'm really sorry for causing you guys so much...trouble...
  3300.  
  3301. Teddie: What're you saying!? I had a blast meeting...you, Labby-chan!
  3302.  
  3303. Rise: Likewise!
  3304.  
  3305. Rise: But I can't believe you didn't notice at all...that Kirijo-san was searching high and low...for you! You're so thick!
  3306.  
  3307. Teddie: That IS mysterious! I wouldn't hesitate to...answer the call of such a beautiful woman!
  3308.  
  3309. Teddie: It must've been because I was having so much...fun talking with Labby-chan!
  3310.  
  3311. Yosuke: Sheesh, he never gives it a rest So, um......what're you gonna do now, Labrys?
  3312.  
  3313. Chie: If you need help, we don't mind sheltering you!...Yukiko's house is a great hideout!
  3314.  
  3315. Labrys: Haha, thanks But I'm plannin' on working...with Mitsuru-san...
  3316.  
  3317. Labrys: We're gonna catch the scumbag who tried to...use you guys... this time, it'll be me that's...got your backs...
  3318.  
  3319. Yu: Heh Sounds promising...
  3320.  
  3321. Naoto: It sounds as thought you found a place where...you belong, then...
  3322.  
  3323. Labrys: ...Sure 'nuff...
  3324.  
  3325. Yukiko: Come back any time to hang out, okay? We'll be...here for you...
  3326.  
  3327. Labrys: Okay... thanks, you guys!
  3328.  
  3329. Labrys' expression is radiant
  3330.  
  3331. I turn around to see Kirijo-san and the others watching from inside the car with gentle smiles
  3332.  
  3333. I leave the circle gathered around Labrys, and approach Kirijo-san There's something that I have to confide in her after all this time...
  3334.  
  3335. Naoto: I confess, I had known about the existence...of the Shadow Operatives from the start...
  3336.  
  3337. Mitsuru: As I thought... well, considering what we've both...been through, there's no need to keep it...hidden from you anymore...
  3338.  
  3339. Naoto: Why are you taking the lead even if it risks...your life? A woman in your position needn't--
  3340.  
  3341. Mitsuru: A great many people were hurt because of...mistakes the Kirijo Group made in the past...I won't let it happen again...
  3342.  
  3343. Mitsuru: To leave behind nothing that could jeopardize...the future... that's my mission More than...that, it's a vow I made
  3344.  
  3345. I feel like she's speaking to someone else... someone who's not here to hear her
  3346.  
  3347. She then nods to me
  3348.  
  3349. The sincerity in her eyes is all the confirmation I need
  3350.  
  3351. In my line of business, you rarely come across people who actually speak what they mean... people I would call "noble" She is one of the few
  3352.  
  3353. Her eyes show trust in me, and that makes me proud to know her, as well...
  3354.  
  3355. Mitsuru: You've been a real help About the next step,...though... I doubt you'll back down that easily...
  3356.  
  3357. Naoto: Who knows...? It's not my decision to make
  3358.  
  3359. I give a casual reply and Kirijo-san shakes her head with a smile...
  3360.  
  3361. Mitsuru: I understand that that nothing I say can...dissuade you But I want you to be cautious
  3362.  
  3363. Her expression turns serious
  3364.  
  3365. This is likely to be a personal warning--about the investigation I should be keeping secret from her...
  3366.  
  3367. Mitsuru: Of course there are those within the Kirijo...Group who don't think as I do There are no...doubt a lot of dark secrets to be unearthed...
  3368.  
  3369. Mitsuru: The current Kirijo Group has drifted away from...the family businesses I am only the founding...family's daughter Not the strongest position...
  3370.  
  3371. Naoto: Haha, what an odd warning It's as if you're...showing compassion to your enemy...
  3372.  
  3373. Naoto: Well, I too personally hope you find success...You be careful too, Kirijo-san...
  3374.  
  3375. Mitsuru: Just call me Mitsuru...
  3376.  
  3377. Naoto: Of course, Mitsuru-san Well, until next time...
  3378.  
  3379. The car soon departs in the direction of the highway
  3380.  
  3381. We watch as Labrys waves from the window... believing that one day, we'll meet again
  3382.  
  3383. After seeing them off, we head to the food court at Junes
  3384.  
  3385. It's been a bit delayed, but it's time for Yu-senpai's welcome-back party
  3386.  
  3387. These last few days have been full of trouble, but I can't help but feel that some sort of fate has brought us together in the end
  3388.  
  3389. Soon, the topic at hand changes to what Yu-senpai had said:
  3390.  
  3391. "We should reform the Investigation Team"
  3392.  
  3393. Just as Mitsuru-san had predicted, it was the only natural reaction to what we had been through
  3394.  
  3395. Not a single one of us objects to the idea, and we all talk about our plans to continue
  3396.  
  3397. ...By the time we split up and I arrived home, it was close to midnight
  3398.  
  3399. But, I sat at my desk and turned on my computer, so that I may compile my report on the investigation...
  3400.  
  3401. Naoto: What follows are my impressions of the...organization called the Shadow Operatives,...as well as their leader, Mitsuru Kirijo...
  3402.  
  3403. Naoto: As a member of the Kirijo Group's founding...family, Mitsuru Kirijo strongly wishes for...the corporation's stigma to be cleared...
  3404.  
  3405. Naoto: Yet the Shadow Operatives are not ultimately...a means for her to clear this stigma...
  3406.  
  3407. Naoto: Her first priority is to protect and save those...who are at risk The way she handled the lost..."cargo" in this case made that much clear...
  3408.  
  3409. Naoto: Though discarding it would have been more...advantageous and it would have been simple...to destroy in secret, she chose not to do so...
  3410.  
  3411. Naoto: She sees the restoration of the family honor...as a byproduct of her true mission...
  3412.  
  3413. Naoto: I will continue my secret investigation It is...apparent that the Kirijo Group still harbors...many dark secrets...
  3414.  
  3415. Naoto: Yet I must note that no matter how their internal...affairs are worth watching, we need not trouble...ourselves overseeing Shadow Operatives...
  3416.  
  3417. Naoto: Mitsuru Kirijo does not shrink from the...responsibilities she bears We will never gain...leverage over her based on her family's sins...
  3418.  
  3419. Naoto: Even if the true culprit behind this matter has...ties to the Kirijo Group, she will--
  3420.  
  3421. I stop typing and delete the last sentence...
  3422.  
  3423. Naoto: No... this report is no place for conjecture...
  3424.  
  3425. Naoto: Haha... I suspect this is only the beginning