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  1. Late November, in the year 2010...
  2.  
  3. The darkness fell without warning
  4.  
  5. At the same time, the previously busy examination room fell so silent that the man's ears hurt...
  6.  
  7. Public Security Man: Hey, what happened!?
  8.  
  9. He called toward the back of the room, but no answer came
  10.  
  11. After working for Public Safety for over a decade, he thought little could faze him anymore But this was uncomfortably alien
  12.  
  13. It was no ordinary blackout
  14.  
  15. If it were, the faint light from machines running on battery power, such as cell phones, would remain
  16.  
  17. But the silence disturbed him even more... he hadn't heard so much as a single cry
  18.  
  19. When he looked around, he saw one spot in the darkness where something was giving off an eerie glow, as if painted in incandescent pigments
  20.  
  21. Once his eyes began to adjust to the darkness, he was faintly able to make out the area around that light
  22.  
  23. The shining spot was revealed as a small, strangely decorated box that the man had only just delivered to the forensics unit...
  24.  
  25. Public Security Man: Forensics team! What the hell--
  26.  
  27. He called out, still squinting at the shadow of a person he could see at the window before him
  28.  
  29. ...But as the shape resolved, he saw that it was not a person's shadow at all...
  30.  
  31. Public Security Man: Huh...!?
  32.  
  33. He had no words to describe it
  34.  
  35. At first glance, it seemed to be a coffin
  36.  
  37. Indeed, that is what it was shaped like
  38.  
  39. But he had never seen a coffin standing upright, tall as an adult, shining like a dark crystal
  40.  
  41. Yet that was clearly what the crystalline mass was, squatting in the spot where a window clerk normally stood
  42.  
  43. And upon closer examination, it wasn't the only one
  44.  
  45. At desks, in front of the evidence shelf, next to a reference computer... the objects towered everywhere as if they had taken the place of humans...
  46.  
  47. Public Security Man: What are these...?
  48.  
  49. A chill ran down the man's spine
  50.  
  51. "They're people...," was the thought that instinctively came to mind
  52.  
  53. Was this the reason he couldn't hear anyone else's voice?
  54.  
  55. Was it because everyone but him was...
  56.  
  57. Public Security Man: What's... What's going on...!?
  58.  
  59. Once the fear had set in, it wasn't easy to shake off
  60.  
  61. His familiar office was starting to look like a grotesque netherworld
  62.  
  63. He felt quite sure that he had to get out
  64.  
  65. Quickly, he turned and grabbed the knob to the door through which he had just entered
  66.  
  67. But...
  68.  
  69. Public Security Man: What the--!?
  70.  
  71. It didn't budge
  72.  
  73. It wasn't that the door was locked, preventing the knob from turning the latch
  74.  
  75. The knob was completely frozen in place...
  76.  
  77. Public Security Man: Is anyone here!? Hey! Let me out!
  78.  
  79. The man slammed his fist against the door, yelling in desperation
  80.  
  81. But the sensation he felt when his fist impacted the surface wasn't that of hitting a door
  82.  
  83. It felt completely at odds with what he saw, as if a picture of a door had been drawn onto a solid wall
  84.  
  85. It was then that the man noticed that another light, similar in color to that emanating from the box, could be seen on part of his hand as he swung it forward
  86.  
  87. It was a ring...
  88.  
  89. And suddenly, he remembered
  90.  
  91. When he brought in the small box, he found several bizarre, ring-shaped objects within it
  92.  
  93. While handing it over to forensics, he suspected that they might be rings To check the theory, he put one on
  94.  
  95. And now that ring was emitting the same eerie light as the box
  96.  
  97. Though he still had no idea what was going on, it was immediately apparent that it was directly related to the current situation
  98.  
  99. The man grabbed the ring with sweat-slicked fingers and tugged, ready to pull off his own finger if necessary
  100.  
  101. But just at that moment--
  102.  
  103. Mysterious Voice: I wouldn't take that off right now...
  104.  
  105. Public Security Man: What...!?
  106.  
  107. The man can't help but gasp
  108.  
  109. He looked around, but could sense no one inside the room with him
  110.  
  111. Where had the voice come from?
  112.  
  113. Mysterious Voice: I'll be there to rescue you shortly Calm...yourself and wait there
  114.  
  115. When the man calmed himself, he realized that it wasn't a voice
  116.  
  117. The sensation was indescribable, but it was distinctly unlike hearing with one's ears...
  118.  
  119. Public Security Man: Who's there!?
  120.  
  121. Mysterious Voice: Ah, pardon me... This is Mitsuru Kirijo...We met earlier
  122.  
  123. Kirijo...
  124.  
  125. He did know a Kirijo
  126.  
  127. It was she who brought the strange, small box
  128.  
  129. And that wasn't all he knew The Kirijos were a wicked family who used their fortune and influence as a shield, continuing to frustrate the police...
  130.  
  131. Despite that, the man couldn't help but feel relief wash over him
  132.  
  133. Perhaps he might survive this after all...
  134.  
  135. Public Security Man: Oh... Well, I appreciate the help Just hurry
  136.  
  137. After getting the muttered words out, he sank to the floor, the door at his back
  138.  
  139. Mitsuru Kirijo... If he recalled correctly, she was the eldest daughter of the Kirijo Group's founding family
  140.  
  141. He noted that her voice had been far calmer than his, despite the situation they were both in
  142.  
  143. He sensed a measure of trustworthiness from her
  144.  
  145. And to think, it had been merely an hour ago that he was asking himself why such a young girl had been chosen as the head of the Kirijo Group at all...
  146.  
  147. The digital clock on the corner of the desk quietly announced the arrival of 10:00 in the morning
  148.  
  149. Normally, most of the staff would be out and about by now, but the entire police department was in turmoil today
  150.  
  151. It was only to be expected, with a key figure from the Kirijo Group visiting on unusual business...
  152.  
  153. Public Security Man: Kirijo, huh...?
  154.  
  155. The Kirijo Group was a major trading firm, synonymous with Japan
  156.  
  157. They had links to all areas of business; not a day could go by in the city without hearing their name
  158.  
  159. The clock that had struck 10 bore the logo of Kirijo Electronics, and KJ was the carrier for the cell phone provided to every member of the force
  160.  
  161. A few days ago, this same Kirijo Group had made a seemingly insane proposal
  162.  
  163. The document was hundreds of pages, but a brief summary would read: "We wish to collaborate with the police on an unofficial department for eliminating monsters"
  164.  
  165. Public Security Man: Well, it does happen from time to time... Famous...businessmen end up advocating cultish nonsense in...pursuit of their ambitions...
  166.  
  167. Upon consideration, it was decided that the Kirijo Group should be invited in to give their pitch
  168.  
  169. Of course, there was no intention of spending tax money on the outlandish proposal The police's interest in humoring the Kirijo Group lay elsewhere
  170.  
  171. The Kirijo Group had offered an incentive whereby if the police agreed to the meeting, they would provide a detailed list of the Ergonomics Research Lab's artifacts, as well as actual samples
  172.  
  173. It was this that drove the officials' decision
  174.  
  175. For there had been dark rumors bandied about the Kirijo Group over the last ten years...
  176.  
  177. While still a family-run business, some said that old man Kouetsu Kirijo had delved into paranormal research and was performing inhumane experiments
  178.  
  179. The police collected enough evidence to test the rumor and had prepared many times to force an investigation
  180.  
  181. But every time, the investigation came to nothing due to the Group exerting hidden pressure, frustrating those working on the case to no end
  182.  
  183. The investigation's prime target was the infamous "Ergo Research"... the Kirijo Ergonomics Research Lab
  184.  
  185. Exposing the Kirijo Group's dark side had been a dream of Public Safety's for ten years now
  186.  
  187. And now, Kirijo seemed willing to hand over Ergo Research's tightly-guarded secrets on a silver platter
  188.  
  189. No one knew the reason for this sudden about-face, but neither did anyone think of turning them down
  190.  
  191. They agreed to the summit not to hear out whatever proposal Kirijo was offering, but as a stepping stone toward unearthing their past crimes
  192.  
  193. Time passed and the agreed-upon time in the afternoon came...
  194.  
  195. The man was tasked with watching over and bringing in the artifacts from the Kirijo Group
  196.  
  197. Though he would not speak with the guest, the police's plan afforded him a major responsibility that gave him something like a leading role
  198.  
  199. It wasn't long before the Kirijo car arrived in the underground porte-cochere
  200.  
  201. The staff there to receive the guest only shrugged at the long, black limousine that would have turned heads on the main roads
  202.  
  203. One of the youngest recruits looked towards the man and asked a question...
  204.  
  205. Young Subordinate: Chief, what's with that car?
  206.  
  207. Public Security Man: ......
  208.  
  209. But that was the least of the surprises in store
  210.  
  211. When the Kirijo Group representative stepped out of the limousine, she was shown to be a beautiful young woman no older than a university student
  212.  
  213. Not only that, but she had attendants dressed in what could only be described as maid uniforms
  214.  
  215. All of them were young women roughly her age
  216.  
  217. The scene mesmerized the various dignitaries present to greet her...
  218.  
  219. Female Representative miThank you very much for this opportunity I am...Mitsuru Kirijo, representing the Kirijo Group...It's nice to meet you
  220.  
  221. Her brisk greeting radiated poise
  222.  
  223. From there, she shook hands with the assembled dignitiaries in a manner that showed she was no stranger to social gatherings...Young Subordinate: She's the company rep? Really?
  224.  
  225. The young recruit who was sneaking looks out of the corner of his eye muttered in spite of himself...
  226.  
  227. Young Subordinate: Their proposal said the rep who's coming today...would be leader of this new unit, but...
  228.  
  229. Young Subordinate: I thought it was supposed to be some hardcore...armed response team And she's leading it?...Well, I guess it's better than some meathead...
  230.  
  231. Public Security Man: Shut up and hold your position
  232.  
  233. But in truth, the man felt the same way
  234.  
  235. Certainly, this "monster extermination unit" would never be incorporated, but even if it were, he was sure this wisp of a girl could never do such work
  236.  
  237. Eventually, the dignitaries entered the agency along with Miss Kirijo
  238.  
  239. All of them wore lopsided smiles due to the young beauty's unexpected appearance, but that would do for now
  240.  
  241. The dignitaries were only there to receive her
  242.  
  243. Their true objective was loaded in the truck parked behind the limousine...
  244.  
  245. The documents and artifacts of Ergo Research...
  246.  
  247. Public Security Man: All right... start bringing them in...
  248.  
  249. Young Subordinate: Roger, sir!
  250.  
  251. At the man's signal, his trained subordinates surrounded the Kirijo truck
  252.  
  253. They formed a line, smoothly passing boxes from man to man into the building
  254.  
  255. The articles were of various size, with even a few that came in oversized metallic containers for aerial transport
  256.  
  257. The Kirijo Group had warned them not to handle these things carelessly until explanations were forthcoming
  258.  
  259. But in truth, the department was already prepared to begin a forensic investigation of the objects or even send them to the lab...
  260.  
  261. Young Subordinate: Are you sure it's okay for us to open these?...The instructions said not to...
  262.  
  263. Public Security Man: It won't be a real investigation if we let...them hamstring our procedures...
  264.  
  265. Public Security Man: Besides, I can't think of anything they...could send us that we couldn't handle...
  266.  
  267. Public Security Man: Unless there's real monsters inside...these things, heh
  268.  
  269. The articles were brought in silence The operation only lasted about fifteen minutes
  270.  
  271. The man himself received the last item, about the size of a jewelry box, and checked the truck to make sure nothing went overlooked before closing it up
  272.  
  273. That done, he turned and walked quickly towards the forensics room
  274.  
  275. Try though he might to maintain his composure, he couldn't contain the excitement he felt
  276.  
  277. For ten years, the darkness of the Kirijo Group had been a frustrating legend, like mist between the department's fingers
  278.  
  279. Their chance to investigate and expose them was here at last...
  280.  
  281. If even the slightest evidence matched the DNA of those who had gone missing, or the victims of the unsolved cases, victory would be theirs
  282.  
  283. The man tried to tamp down his exhilaration and took another look at the small box he held
  284.  
  285. There was no upper lid on the box A pedestal-like protrusion at its center held a number of small, circular trinkets
  286.  
  287. Their usage was completely unknown
  288.  
  289. What kind of research produced these...?
  290.  
  291. Just as the man was about to hand the box to the window clerk, he saw a wedding ring the clerk's finger, and came to a realization...
  292.  
  293. Public Security Man: Huh... are these rings?
  294.  
  295. Forensics: Hm? Oh... we're not sure yet
  296.  
  297. The man put on some protective latex gloves and tried one of the objects on...
  298.  
  299. Public Security Man: ......
  300.  
  301. After looking at it from every angle, its color and shape seemed to be nothing but ordinary If it was meant to be jewelry, it wasn't very attractive
  302.  
  303. The man couldn't picture scientists in lab coats slaving away in a lab to create rings like this
  304.  
  305. The moment that unlikely possibility came to mind, the man felt somewhat embarrassed by his ignorance of fashion and accessories
  306.  
  307. But as soon as he reached for the small box to put the ring back inside...
  308.  
  309. ...Darkness suddenly fell...
  310.  
  311. Mysterious Voice: Please step away from the door...
  312.  
  313. Public Security Man: .........!
  314.  
  315. The voice echoing in the man's mind brought him back to reality
  316.  
  317. He took a few steps away from the door, as directed, and stood ready
  318.  
  319. "Step away from the door" The more he thought about it, the stranger the order seemed
  320.  
  321. How did she know he was so close to the door when she wasn't even in the room?
  322.  
  323. Suddenly, a chill filled the area
  324.  
  325. In mere seconds, the entire door was coated in white...
  326.  
  327. Public Security Man: Wh-Where'd this ice come from...!?
  328.  
  329. It had frosted over
  330.  
  331. The man couldn't believe his eyes, but the evidence was there in front of him
  332.  
  333. He could then hear a slight knocking sound, followed by a crack forming in the center
  334.  
  335. The door buckled under its own weight and crumbled with a sound that was like building blocks being pushed over
  336.  
  337. Standing just past it was the Kirijo woman
  338.  
  339. She walked over to the man with exquisite nonchalance
  340.  
  341. At her side was one of the "maids" she brought...
  342.  
  343. Mitsuru: Are you all right?
  344.  
  345. Public Security Man: Y-Yeah...
  346.  
  347. Mitsuru: We did give you fair warning, but it...seems to have gone unheeded
  348.  
  349. The man looked towards the ring shining on his finger...
  350.  
  351. Public Security Man: Then, this happened because we touched...that box? What is this thing...?
  352.  
  353. Mitsuru: That ring gives its bearer an unstable...form of pseudopotential and allows...anyone to experience the Dark Hour...
  354.  
  355. Public Security Man: The Dark Hour...?
  356.  
  357. Mitsuru: The box itself seems to be a failed recreation...of the Dark Hour The effect radius is small,...and it malfunctions when improperly handled
  358.  
  359. The Dark Hour... he remembered that phrase coming up in the documents the Kirijo Group had sent
  360.  
  361. If he recalled correctly, it was defined as a hidden time, unable to be experienced by normal people, where everything stood still
  362.  
  363. According to the documents, it seems to have occurred every night at midnight for about ten years until spring 2011, as if forcing its way into normal time
  364.  
  365. Until now, it seemed like pure fantasy...
  366.  
  367. But could this silent darkness be the very same thing?
  368.  
  369. Public Security Man: So you're saying... those stories in...that document...
  370.  
  371. Public Security Man: That occult-sounding stuff was actually...for real?
  372.  
  373. At that moment--
  374.  
  375. A "voice" suddenly echoed from beyond the hallway, past the broken door...
  376.  
  377. Mysterious Voice Aah... nnngh...
  378.  
  379. Public Security Man: Who's there!?
  380.  
  381. The man reflexively called out in alarm, realizing that the fear had not yet died down
  382.  
  383. What emerged from the darkness was the young recruit who had greeted the guests earlier and had been helping with bringing in the artifacts
  384.  
  385. The young man was staggering as if severely drunk...
  386.  
  387. Young Subordinate: Ch-Chief...
  388.  
  389. Public Security Man: Hey...! Are you all right!?
  390.  
  391. The man began to rush to his side...
  392.  
  393. But the Kirijo woman silently stopped him
  394.  
  395. She stood between the two, as if protecting the man...
  396.  
  397. Public Security Man: What? He's my--
  398.  
  399. Before he could finish, a surprising change overtook the recruit...
  400.  
  401. Young Subordinate: Ungh, aaaah...
  402.  
  403. Young Subordinate: Aaaaaagh...!
  404.  
  405. The recruit fell to the ground with an agonized scream
  406.  
  407. A black, tar-like substance began flowing from his every orifice...
  408.  
  409. Public Security Man: What...!?
  410.  
  411. The ooze spread unnaturally across the ground and cohered into a glob... It rose up, like a beast raising its head, and what looked like claws began to form
  412.  
  413. Its appearance showed clear signs that it possessed some malevolent will...Monster: (beastly roar)
  414.  
  415. The man thought again about the Kirijo Group's initial proposal...
  416.  
  417. "We wish to collaborate with the police on an unofficial department for eliminating monsters"
  418.  
  419. Without a doubt, this was what they referred to
  420.  
  421. That name that came up again and again was...
  422.  
  423. Public Security Man: This is... a Shadow...
  424.  
  425. Mitsuru: That it is It's a monster that dwells...in every person's heart...
  426.  
  427. Mitsuru: They usually can't manifest themselves...this way, but it's quite common to see...it happen during the Dark Hour...
  428.  
  429. Public Security Man: So the research to make this happen...artificially... that's what Kirijo has...been experimenting with...
  430.  
  431. Mitsuru: That did seem to be the extent of it,...at the start...
  432.  
  433. "At the start"
  434.  
  435. The man couldn't prevent himself from shuddering to imagine the implications of her statement...
  436.  
  437. Monster: (beastly roar)
  438.  
  439. With the second roar, the half-liquified Shadow suddenly took the form of some fell beast
  440.  
  441. But where the face should have been was nothing but a mask, giving it the bizarre appearance of two creatures stitched together
  442.  
  443. The young woman, for her part, seemed not in the least perturbed...
  444.  
  445. Mitsuru: Kikuno My things, please
  446.  
  447. The maid stooped to reach something
  448.  
  449. The man wasn't sure where she had been carrying it, but she placed a sword in her master's hand
  450.  
  451. The blade was specially shaped, similar in design to a fencing saber...
  452.  
  453. Public Security Man: You're going to fight it!?
  454.  
  455. Mitsuru: Stay back This will all be over soon
  456.  
  457. At that moment, as if understanding their conversation, the Shadow squared itself and leapt towards the young woman
  458.  
  459. Its speed matched its beastly appearance
  460.  
  461. In the darkness of the room, the man found it difficult simply keeping his eye on it
  462.  
  463. The young woman did not move Her sword remained lowered in the face of the Shadow's advance
  464.  
  465. "Of course," thought the man "An amateur like her could never react in time..."
  466.  
  467. However...
  468.  
  469. Mitsuru: Artemisia!
  470.  
  471. At a word from the young woman, some unseen force slammed the Shadow against a wall
  472.  
  473. The man momentarily doubted his own eyes
  474.  
  475. For it hadn't been the woman who repelled the monster, but a silhouette that suddenly appeared behind her
  476.  
  477. It looked as though the being enveloped in sublime light, contrasting the Shadow's dark glow, was a woman wearing a majestic dress
  478.  
  479. Its silhouette held up a hand towards the crouching Shadow
  480.  
  481. Once again, the man felt freezing air fill the room
  482.  
  483. And with that, the Shadow stopped moving Frost crystallized all over it, turning it into an ice sculpture within seconds
  484.  
  485. Only then did the young woman swing the sword in her hand for the first time...
  486.  
  487. Mitsuru: Ha!
  488.  
  489. A white gleam arced through the air
  490.  
  491. Upon impact, the frozen enemy shattered like it had been crystallized sugar rather than ice
  492.  
  493. The victory was so one-sided that the man hesitated to call it a battle...
  494.  
  495. Mitsuru: Are you all right?
  496.  
  497. The young woman turned towards the man
  498.  
  499. The sound of her boots hitting the floor gave him the jarring realization that she hadn't moved a single step during the fray
  500.  
  501. Seeing that he was at a loss for words, she gave him a gentle smile
  502.  
  503. It was all too much for the man
  504.  
  505. He actually felt relieved to be protected by this small woman
  506.  
  507. One thing was obvious...
  508.  
  509. She had been through countless battles much like the one he'd just witnessed...
  510.  
  511. Mitsuru: Your fallen employee's life is in no danger,...but he'll be very weak Make sure he gets to...a hospital Should I make the arrangements?
  512.  
  513. Public Security Man: No, I should at least handle that... It is...a Public Security matter
  514.  
  515. With a nod, the young woman approached the small box and manipulated it in a way he couldn't quite catch
  516.  
  517. The eerie, yellow-green light began to fade... Moments later, the silence and darkness faded The world had been restored
  518.  
  519. The man felt his body become suddenly lighter, causing him to breathe a sigh of relief
  520.  
  521. He hadn't realized until the pressure was gone that the air had been as suffocating as if he had been underwater
  522.  
  523. There was a stir of movement in the room
  524.  
  525. The forensics team and assistants looked at the man and young woman, perplexed
  526.  
  527. The man took a quick look around...
  528.  
  529. Fragments of the shattered door were strewn about
  530.  
  531. A young Public Security worker was lying unconscious nearby
  532.  
  533. And their Kirijo guest, who had entered without anyone noticing, held in her hand a drawn sword...
  534.  
  535. Public Security Man: I'd be shocked too, if I were them...
  536.  
  537. It occurred to him that if normal people couldn't sense the Dark Hour, the sudden change in circumstances may have seemed to them like some magic trick...
  538.  
  539. Forensics: Excuse me... but this place is off-limits to all...unauthorized personnel...
  540.  
  541. Forensics: Um... hey, what's going on here...?
  542.  
  543. The forensics staff looked at the man helplessly...
  544.  
  545. Public Security Man: It's all right We had a little emergency...
  546.  
  547. Forensics: Oh...
  548.  
  549. Public Security Man: That aside, halt all examination of the..."relics" they brought in We'll wait for...further instructions from the Kirijo Group...Forensics: Huh? But you said...
  550.  
  551. Public Security Man: If there are any boxes that are closed,...don't force them open Not if you don't...want to come face to face with monsters...
  552.  
  553. Leaving the frowning forensics team behind him, the man quickly went into the hallway with the Kirijo woman...
  554.  
  555. Public Security Man: I have to thank you for your help...
  556.  
  557. Public Security Man: And about the conference... I'll join in as...well It's been arranged so nothing you say...would get through to the higher ups...
  558.  
  559. If the young woman was surprised at what amounted to a confession of betrayal, she didn't show it...
  560.  
  561. Mitsuru: Are you saying you will reconsider your plans?
  562.  
  563. Public Security Man: I can't overlook anything as serious...as this I wouldn't be doing my job as...Public Security if I did...
  564.  
  565. Public Security Man: But make no mistake, the things I saw...today are proof of the sins the Kirijo...Group has committed...
  566.  
  567. Public Security Man: They can't be punished under the law,...but now that they're known, atonement...will be made in some shape or form...
  568.  
  569. Mitsuru: Indeed I never intended anything less...
  570.  
  571. Public Security Man: Heh... you really put one over on us...this time...
  572.  
  573. Mitsuru: Hm?
  574.  
  575. Public Security Man: Oh, there's no need to be coy What...happened today was no accident, was it?
  576.  
  577. Public Security Man: We'd never have believed the reports unless...we saw it in person That's why such a...dangerous box had no lid Am I wrong?
  578.  
  579. Mitsuru: There was no lid? That's not possible......That box was classified as Risk Level 3...It should've been securely fastened...
  580.  
  581. The young woman fell silent, then gasped and gave the maid walking silently beside her a look...
  582.  
  583. Mitsuru: *sigh* Kikuno...
  584.  
  585. The maid continued without the slightest sign of remorse and left her master behind
  586.  
  587. Both the man and the young woman sighed at once...
  588.  
  589. Public Security Man: Us guys in Public Security have a reputation...for being tough... but it seems like you...guys are no slouches yourselves
  590.  
  591. ...The summit that was meant to be a perfunctory refusal took an unexpected turn Promises were made to continue the talks
  592.  
  593. Six months passed
  594.  
  595. After many opportunities to show the "actual samples" to the dignitaries were set up, the proposed special unit was established in mostly the form Kirijo requested
  596.  
  597. The Security Department, Shadow Response Unit...
  598.  
  599. It was the inauguration of the special unit that would, in time, be nicknamed the "Shadow Operatives"
  600.  
  601. ...Indeed, the Shadow Operatives
  602.  
  603. I'm quite fond of the name
  604.  
  605. Not that I normally pay much heed to these things, but in this case, I admit to being pleased
  606.  
  607. It started as sarcasm on the part of the higher-ranked personnel from the police
  608.  
  609. It could be taken to mean "those who deal with Shadows," but the real meaning is "those who operate in the Shadows"
  610.  
  611. Not only is the unit unofficial, we have the difficult-to-credit job of exterminating monsters...
  612.  
  613. Mostly, I suspect it was a dig at a group that disturbed the expected peaceful years before the older personnel's retirement
  614.  
  615. But "Shadow Operative" could also mean one who does an indispensable, albeit unrewarded, job for society
  616.  
  617. It's a name truly befitting of this organization's goals
  618.  
  619. We're approaching the first anniversary of the Shadow Operatives' establishment
  620.  
  621. Though we're still at the level of basic investigation and laying ground work... it seems a full-scale case has arisen...
  622.  
  623. Mitsuru: Fighting is not our first option, but I'd be...more reassured with you there...
  624.  
  625. Mitsuru: We have a general idea of where it was taken...The Inaba area... where there were reports of...suspected Shadow activity last year
  626.  
  627. Good as it is to hear from an old, reliable friend, I limit the call to a quick exchange of information...
  628.  
  629. Mitsuru: I'll send you the precise location later...Sorry to call when you've just returned from...a trip, but I'm relying on your assistance
  630.  
  631. I close my cell and turn towards my colleague...
  632.  
  633. Mitsuru: He's only just returned and he's going...directly to the location from the airport...
  634.  
  635. Akihiko never changes
  636.  
  637. The man I was on the phone with just now was Akihiko Sanada...
  638.  
  639. He's one of our non-permanent staff
  640.  
  641. Akihiko is an excellent Persona-user, but beyond that, he's a skilled boxer
  642.  
  643. He's a friend of mine from high school who fought the Shadows alongside me
  644.  
  645. I admire his strict determination to never neglect his training... but the extreme lengths he goes to can be rather inconvenient
  646.  
  647. After entering college, he accepted my invitation to be one of the founding Shadow Operatives, but it was his actions afterward that went above and beyond
  648.  
  649. "Sure, I'll join, but if I'm gonna use my strength professionally, I want to get my skills to a level I'm happy with first" Thus began his training expedition
  650.  
  651. He's not only wandering the country... he's traveling the entire world
  652.  
  653. I can't decide whether to be dumbfounded or impressed by his dedication to training
  654.  
  655. ...All of this is to say that he only just returned to Japan to take part in this operation
  656.  
  657. I give a wry smile and lean back in my chair
  658.  
  659. Seeing me relax, the girl watching nearby smiles
  660.  
  661. This is Aigis, known for her blonde hair and piercing blue eyes
  662.  
  663. She's a sweet girl on the outside, but she has what it takes to be an important member of our squad...
  664.  
  665. Aigis: Will we be able to find Labrys... my sister?
  666.  
  667. Mitsuru: Hm...?
  668.  
  669. When I look over at Aigis, her eyes are cast downward with a worried expression...
  670.  
  671. Mitsuru: "Will we be able to save her...?" Isn't that...what you really want to ask?
  672.  
  673. Aigis: ......
  674.  
  675. She must've known once I called Akihiko in as backup
  676.  
  677. There is a possibility that we will have to fight Labrys Knowing that, it's not a great leap to imagine that in the worst case, she may have to be destroyed
  678.  
  679. And it's true, alas
  680.  
  681. If all else fails, and our safety is at risk with no other way to stop her, that option is on the table
  682.  
  683. Still...M
  684.  
  685. itsurumiDon't worry As I mentioned to Aikihiko,...fighting Labrys is not our priority...
  686.  
  687. Mitsuru: The reason I formed this "Shadow Operative"...team is to save lives...
  688.  
  689. Mitsuru: We will find her, whatever it takes,...and bring her back We can do this...
  690.  
  691. Aigis: Yes I'm sorry to be so pessimistic...
  692.  
  693. Mitsuru: Those feelings you have for Labrys......you should tell her when you see her...
  694.  
  695. Aigis: I will!
  696.  
  697. The monitor is showing certain data that is under multiple redundant encryptions
  698.  
  699. Kirijo Ergonomics Research Lab Confidential Matters
  700.  
  701. There is, in fact, a reason I'm reviewing these materials that are normally securely concealed
  702.  
  703. For two days ago, on May 1st...
  704.  
  705. I was unexpectedly dragged into a serious incident
  706.  
  707. The passenger plane I was taking to Kagoshima was hijacked... when there hasn't been a domestic hijacking for ten years
  708.  
  709. The top brass of the police, afraid to make any mistakes, sent in the Shadow Operatives The case itself was resolved quickly and all the culprits arrested
  710.  
  711. None of the passengers were harmed either
  712.  
  713. But the hijackers' true motive wasn't terrorism or political demands, as one would expect I was surprised to find they were really after my cargo
  714.  
  715. It was a sealed box from the Ergonomics Research Lab that we were transporting to Yakushima on that flight
  716.  
  717. No one thought that the risky hijacking could have been in pursuit of just the cargo, and as a result, one of the objects was stolen
  718.  
  719. The arrested suspects are all in police custody, but none of them have any memory of carrying out the crime
  720.  
  721. Someone was pulling their strings... very probably using uncommon methods
  722.  
  723. Considering that puppetmaster was targeting Shadow-related cargo, I doubt they'll be easy to deal with
  724.  
  725. As for what was stolen... Aigis mentioned its name a moment ago
  726.  
  727. The 5th Generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon "Labrys," is an older model from two generations ago
  728.  
  729. Since Shadow-related Ergo Research documents were lost in an accident, we know little about Labrys
  730.  
  731. She is an android; most likely a female version, just like Aigis
  732.  
  733. But instead of a weapons loadout, she seems to have been fitted with some kind of experimental equipment
  734.  
  735. ...That's all we know
  736.  
  737. Still, thanks to our collaborator's quick wit, the escaping vehicle was traced with the N System It wasn't easy, but we managed to pinpoint its location
  738.  
  739. It was headed for the city of Inaba... where there may have been Shadow activity last year
  740.  
  741. Once the preparations to depart are complete, I'll head there myself
  742.  
  743. ...My mind wanders a bit
  744.  
  745. Though I was unaware of them, the shadow of the sins committed in the Kirijo name is still so painful, ten years on, that I sometimes want to avert my eyes
  746.  
  747. But now is not the time to be bound by the past
  748.  
  749. Now is the time to act
  750.  
  751. I suddenly notice that Aigis has been staring at me worriedly I give her a smile and stand up decisively
  752.  
  753. We're pulling up to Yaso-Inaba, the central town of Inaba
  754.  
  755. Though it's the central town, the main street seems nearly deserted, and there's virtually no activity to be seen through the car windows
  756.  
  757. It was confirmed that the vehicle transporting Labrys was abandoned here
  758.  
  759. Our first move would be to confirm the situation
  760.  
  761. Or so I thought...
  762.  
  763. ......
  764.  
  765. ......
  766.  
  767. I attempt to ignore the rude stares of people trying to get a look inside the car, focusing instead on the scent of my tea
  768.  
  769. People keep crowding around when we park
  770.  
  771. We've had to move it a number of times already; we didn't get a moment's peace until the car had reached the junkyard on the outskirts of town
  772.  
  773. As I try to keep from sighing, Aigis speaks up from her seat in front of me...
  774.  
  775. Aigis: Mitsuru-san Our activities are supposed...to be undercover, correct?
  776.  
  777. Mitsuru: Yes...
  778.  
  779. Aigis: For undercover missions, it will be...necessary to keep all personnel and...vehicles from being noticed...
  780.  
  781. Mitsuru: Right...
  782.  
  783. Aigis: Mitsuru-san May I say something that I've...been meaning to say for a while now?
  784.  
  785. Mitsuru: No...
  786.  
  787. Aigis: Understood
  788.  
  789. Aigis' poker face is a perfect blank
  790.  
  791. ...Though I understand what she's getting at
  792.  
  793. I've actually wanted to say something along those lines to those around me for a while
  794.  
  795. Still, it would be galling to hear it from someone else just now...
  796.  
  797. Mitsuru: All I told them was to give us a car..."with enough space"...
  798.  
  799. Suited MemberU-Um... our contact has arrived
  800.  
  801. The man approaching us is someone whose cooperation I specifically requested
  802.  
  803. His name is Detective Kurosawa
  804.  
  805. Before I can welcome him, Aigis speaks up...
  806.  
  807. Aigis: Oh my... this was not our designated...meeting area, yet he has discovered us...
  808.  
  809. Detective Kurosawa: You want to know how I did it?
  810.  
  811. Mitsuru: Ahem!
  812.  
  813. Lately, it feels that whenever Aigis wants to voice her opinion to me, she intentionally puts on the robot act
  814.  
  815. They mentioned this at the lab...
  816.  
  817. That if Aigis still speaks in that stiff, formal manner, either she's getting too human and is developing habits, or she's doing it on purpose
  818.  
  819. *sigh* Honestly...
  820.  
  821. Mitsuru: We appreciate your cooperation,...Detective Kurosawa...
  822.  
  823. Detective Kurosawa: Long time no see, miss And Aigis, was it?
  824.  
  825. Aigis: Indeed, it has been a while
  826.  
  827. Detective Kurosawa was an officer at a police box near the school we attended three years ago
  828.  
  829. He was shunned for cooperating with us and busted back down to Officer, but now that the Shadow Operatives are officially recognized, he's in their good graces again
  830.  
  831. A man who can be trusted beyond the confines of his station to solve a case, even going so far as to bend the rules... he's a rare breed
  832.  
  833. Detective Kurosawa's expression has softened while he makes small talk with Aigis
  834.  
  835. Which makes me realize that this may be the first time he's seen Aigis in her combat form...
  836.  
  837. Mitsuru: I shouldn't make you stand while we talk...Please, get in...
  838.  
  839. Detective Kurosawa: Ah, sorry I haven't seen you in a while,...so I had a lot to say
  840.  
  841. He must understand that we are trying to go incognito
  842.  
  843. ...Though it's kind of him not to point out that our vehicle and attire are completely unsuited to that goal as he enters the limousine
  844.  
  845. He sits, and does not even wait until the door is closed before getting to the point...
  846.  
  847. Detective Kurosawa: I found out quite a bit regarding the...case you had me look into...
  848.  
  849. Detective Kurosawa: First, I reviewed the report on the incidents...from last year One of the suspects...mentioned the word, "Persona"
  850.  
  851. Mitsuru: So what went on here last year...
  852.  
  853. Detective Kurosawa: It's probably related But I wasn't done...there Parts of this guy's testimony were...even more outlandish...
  854.  
  855. Detective Kurosawa: If you can take what's in the record at...face value... it seems Persona-users can...enter TVs within the Inaba region...
  856.  
  857. Aigis: Enter... TVs? What does that mean?
  858.  
  859. Detective Kurosawa: Just what it sounds like You physically...stick your body into the screen and...go inside...
  860.  
  861. Detective Kurosawa: He claimed there was another world in the...TV, and dropping people inside it was the...method behind last year's murders...
  862.  
  863. Mitsuru: This all sounds rather absurd... I'm surprised...it was included in the police report...
  864.  
  865. Detective Kurosawa: I got in touch with the detective in charge...at the time and said the same thing...
  866.  
  867. Detective Kurosawa: Apparently, the report was filed by a young...partner of his at the time He'd entertain...the wildest testimonies, like this one...
  868.  
  869. Aigis: He sounds like quite the oddball...
  870.  
  871. Detective Kurosawa: If this was what really went on, the police...would have had no chance cracking it...
  872.  
  873. Detective Kurosawa: But that detective Dojima is one shrewd guy...Even with all the supernatural hocus-pocus...surrounding the case, he caught the culprit
  874.  
  875. What I asked of him was to collect information about the serial murders that occurred in Inaba last year
  876.  
  877. The Shadow Operatives aren't public knowledge, so I thought the local police would be more willing to speak with him... but the results surpassed my expectations
  878.  
  879. Though it is slightly frustrating to already run up against something I'm powerless to achieve myself...
  880.  
  881. Detective Kurosawa: That's all I have for you right now I should...be going... I doubt either of us has time...to reminisce over the old days...
  882.  
  883. Detective Kurosawa: It's funny, though I thought the fighting...was over, but you guys surprise me every...time I see you...
  884.  
  885. Mitsuru: Thank you very much, Officer Kurosawa...Er... why don't we at least see you off?
  886.  
  887. Detective Kurosawa: Oh, that's all right I've got my own car...I doubt my department would appreciate...your tastes...
  888.  
  889. Detective Kurosawa: If I ever showed up for work in something...like this, I'd be the talk of the force...until the day I retired
  890.  
  891. Detective Kurosawa jokes with us before exiting the limousine, waving casually back at us
  892.  
  893. I had nothing to say to that as I watched him leave, rotating his shoulders to work out some kinks
  894.  
  895. Aigis, though, felt the need to comment...
  896.  
  897. Aigis: Mitsuru-san, this could be bad Our sense...of social aptitude is in question...
  898.  
  899. Mitsuru: Ngh... I can't deny that...
  900.  
  901. Suited MemberU-Um... what should we do now...?
  902.  
  903. Mitsuru: A-Ah, yes...
  904.  
  905. Mitsuru: First, we'll need to test the claim that...Persona-users can enter TVs
  906.  
  907. We are at a junkyard, after all, and I can see a number of consumer electronics that have been discarded illegally
  908.  
  909. Aigis looks around and points at a certain pile as she gets out of the car...
  910.  
  911. Aigis: There is a discarded TV over there If the...environment does not matter, we can use...it to test the phenomenon...
  912.  
  913. Mitsuru: Wait,
  914.  
  915. Aigis...Aigis: Don't worry I'm just going to touch it
  916.  
  917. That's not what I was worried about...
  918.  
  919. Aigis isn't wearing anything like a disguise, and--
  920.  
  921. No, I'm overthinking this
  922.  
  923. We've already attracted enough attention
  924.  
  925. Even if we leave now without doing anything, our pictures could still end up on the Internet
  926.  
  927. Let them gossip about the strange people in funny clothes It'll become some urban legend
  928.  
  929. My mind made up, I step outside, wearing my special equipment
  930.  
  931. Once Aigis sees that I've followed her, she gives a small nod, and stretches her hand out toward the screen...
  932.  
  933. Aigis: Amazing...!
  934.  
  935. Her hand... it's inside the TV screen
  936.  
  937. But the screen itself seems undamaged...
  938.  
  939. Aigis' hand is swallowed up to her wrist, as if she put it into a bucket of water...
  940.  
  941. Mitsuru: Interesting... it's exactly as the police...report said What's it like inside?...Do you feel anything?
  942.  
  943. Aigis: Not particularly... no, wait a moment!
  944.  
  945. Aigis: It's the same as mine...
  946.  
  947. Aigis: It's hard to say definitively since this is...my first encounter with it, but I believe...this reading is from a personality module...
  948.  
  949. Mitsuru: Does that mean our retrieval target is inside...the TV?
  950.  
  951. Man akHuh... Sounds like fun
  952.  
  953. That voice from above...
  954.  
  955. It sounds very familiar
  956.  
  957. But all I see in the direction from where it came is a man in an outlandish red cape
  958.  
  959. I hesitate for a moment Could it be...?
  960.  
  961. Mitsuru: Is that...
  962.  
  963. Akihiko?Akihiko: Ha!
  964.  
  965. The man leaps from the stacked tower of TVs like an acrobat...
  966.  
  967. Akihiko: You didn't show up at the rendezvous point,...so I went looking and found you here...This whole TV thing is pretty interesting
  968.  
  969. In spite of myself, I bury my face in my palm...
  970.  
  971. Mitsuru: Akihiko... what on earth are you wearing?...Just what were you doing overseas...?
  972.  
  973. Akihiko: Hm? Didn't I tell you that I was on a...training expedition?
  974.  
  975. Mitsuru: Don't tell me you came here from the...airport like that... does the concept of...keeping a low profile mean nothing to you?
  976.  
  977. Aigis: Mitsuru-san, I believe we have lost the...right to complain about that...
  978.  
  979. ...That's it
  980.  
  981. I'm never mentioning the subject of our appearance again!
  982.  
  983. Akihiko: Anyway We can go inside from that TV,...right?
  984.  
  985. Akihiko: What are we waiting for?
  986.  
  987. Mitsuru: Still the same Akihiko We don't know the...situation inside yet, and we'll need a secure...means of getting out...
  988.  
  989. Akihiko: So what? If we want to get this Labrys back,...someone has to go inside, right?
  990.  
  991. Mitsuru: Well, that's...
  992.  
  993. Akihiko: Our target hijacked a plane to throw her...into a TV in this town...
  994.  
  995. Akihiko: If we sit on our hands, it's possible...we'll be put in serious danger
  996.  
  997. Akihiko's right...
  998.  
  999. That's exactly why we've been trying to act as quickly as possible since this case began...
  1000.  
  1001. Akihiko: We're different from how we used to be...We made the choice to fight Shadows...as professionals...
  1002.  
  1003. Akihiko: That's why I traveled around the world and trained harder than ever...
  1004.  
  1005. Akihiko: And now that something's actually come up,...you're hesitating?
  1006.  
  1007. Akihiko: We agreed to do this I'm ready to stake...my life on the mission
  1008.  
  1009. Recklessly unafraid to state his honest opinion... classic Akihiko
  1010.  
  1011. He must understand that that is his role
  1012.  
  1013. Certainly, there are times when I need such opinions
  1014.  
  1015. And it's been a while since he went abroad
  1016.  
  1017. I think I can understand his current mindset...M
  1018.  
  1019. itsurumi*sigh* All right... wait right here I need...to go make a phone call first...
  1020.  
  1021. Akihiko: Okay, but make it quick
  1022.  
  1023. He doesn't have to tell me twice I take out my phone and bring up the contact list
  1024.  
  1025. A world inside a TV... I don't know what it might be like in there, but I do know someone that could help us
  1026.  
  1027. I was originally going to ask their help after Labrys was secure, but perhaps the time has come
  1028.  
  1029. Now... I've taken all possible precautions
  1030.  
  1031. The rest is a test of our resolve...
  1032.  
  1033. Mitsuru: Where am I...?Mitsuru: Is this... inside the TV?
  1034.  
  1035. I remember being enveloped in a white light... but what came afterwards is unclear
  1036.  
  1037. Is this the world inside the TV?
  1038.  
  1039. Oddly enough, the sight before me seems to be the main gate of a school
  1040.  
  1041. The name engraved on the entrance plate is...
  1042.  
  1043. Mitsuru: Yasogami High School... I do recall that name...from our map of Inaba...
  1044.  
  1045. Mitsuru: An existing high school has been completely...recreated inside the TV...?
  1046.  
  1047. I then came to a realization
  1048.  
  1049. I've encountered something much like this before...
  1050.  
  1051. It doesn't appear to be much different from reality as far as appearances, but it has that same distinctive, sticky atmosphere...
  1052.  
  1053. The labyrinth Tartarus that was our battleground three years ago...
  1054.  
  1055. It bears a lot of similarity to this place...
  1056.  
  1057. Mitsuru: Wait... where are the others!?...Akihiko! Aigis!
  1058.  
  1059. Being separated won't do anything to further our mission
  1060.  
  1061. Perhaps I can use my communication power to get in touch with them? Hmm...
  1062.  
  1063. Mitsuru: I can't reach them through my Persona,...either... this place is highly unusual
  1064.  
  1065. It's still barely functioning, but the noise here is severe
  1066.  
  1067. I'll need to understand this world a little better and find a quiet place to concentrate
  1068.  
  1069. As I check my surroundings again for any enemies, I hear the sound of footsteps
  1070.  
  1071. I tense, making myself ready for anything
  1072.  
  1073. But when I turn around, a uniformed girl stops, looking at me in bewilderment...
  1074.  
  1075. Girl with Black Hair: Huh!? Um...
  1076.  
  1077. Mitsuru: ......
  1078.  
  1079. I didn't expect to meet someone else here, let alone a seemingly ordinary schoolgirl like this
  1080.  
  1081. Could her age and outfit belie a connection to the theft of Labrys...?
  1082.  
  1083. But after the girl's surprise faded, she still seemed confused by my appearance
  1084.  
  1085. *sigh* It seems that even here in another dimension, people are startled by my attire
  1086.  
  1087. At least her reaction allayed my suspicions
  1088.  
  1089. People reveal something of themselves when they're caught off guard
  1090.  
  1091. Anyone in the act of committing a crime couldn't fake being perplexed so naturally...
  1092.  
  1093. Mitsuru: Did I surprise you? I suppose my outfit is...somewhat unusual...
  1094.  
  1095. Girl with Black Hair: Oh, no...
  1096.  
  1097. Mitsuru: Why are you here?
  1098.  
  1099. Girl with Black Hair: Um, well, I...
  1100.  
  1101. A loud cheer suddenly swells, cutting off our conversation
  1102.  
  1103. There's definitely a crowd present here...
  1104.  
  1105. I look around the area in confusion...
  1106.  
  1107. Mitsuru: What!? Where is that coming from!?
  1108.  
  1109. Students appear one after another, clearly intrigued to see us here...
  1110.  
  1111. Girl with Black Hair: Huh...!? What's going on!?
  1112.  
  1113. Before I can react, an image appears on the monitor buried beneath the bizarre decorations...
  1114.  
  1115. General Teddie: Hello hello! This is General Teddie,...your benevolent dictator!
  1116.  
  1117. Rise: And I, Risette, am your commentator! It's time...for the next round in the P-1 Grand Prix!
  1118.  
  1119. Rise: Are you ready to fight!?
  1120.  
  1121. Mitsuru: P-1 Grand Prix...? Fight?
  1122.  
  1123. Suddenly, on the one in the ridiculous costume's cue, smoke pours out around us
  1124.  
  1125. A spotlight shines from somewhere directly upon me...
  1126.  
  1127. Mitsuru: Ngh...
  1128.  
  1129. I instinctively raise my arm to shield my eyes from the harsh light
  1130.  
  1131. It feels like I'm being displayed for an audience...
  1132.  
  1133. General Teddie: And who do we have for Yuki-chan's...opponent this time...!?
  1134.  
  1135. General Teddie: Ooh!? It's a mysterious beautiful lady!
  1136.  
  1137. General Teddie: H-How unexpected! U-Unexpected!...U-Un-Unex-ex-ex...
  1138.  
  1139. Girl with Black Hair: Teddie? What's wrong!?
  1140.  
  1141. Mitsuru: Hm...? Do you know that bear?
  1142.  
  1143. The monitor showing the one in costume calling himself "General Teddie" suddenly fuzzes over with static
  1144.  
  1145. The static gets worse and worse...
  1146.  
  1147. Until an eerily expressionless bear costume, that looks as though it forgot how to make facial expressions, appears onscreen
  1148.  
  1149. The voice is the same as before, but his tone is harsh and mechanical now...
  1150.  
  1151. General Teddie: Case 04: Unintended intruder...Entering elimination process...
  1152.  
  1153. Mitsuru: ...What is that supposed to mean?
  1154.  
  1155. Mitsuru: Ngh...!? What's going on...?
  1156.  
  1157. As soon as the abnormality registers, I feel a bizarre noise that's like something scratching against my whole body
  1158.  
  1159. Was that... some kind of an attack?
  1160.  
  1161. It didn't seem to have any effect on me, but the girl standing beside me underwent quite a change...
  1162.  
  1163. Girl with Black Hair: You... who do you think you are,...showing up alone like this?
  1164.  
  1165. Mitsuru: .........!?
  1166.  
  1167. Girl with Black Hair: It's no use trying to talk your way out...of it There's nothing to discuss! You don't...even try to understand anyone anyway...
  1168.  
  1169. Girl with Black Hair: If you want to wall yourself off from everyone,...I'll be happy to end your lonely life here!
  1170.  
  1171. The girl's face distorts with hatred as she spits her words at me It's a far cry from her earlier demeanor
  1172.  
  1173. It's as if she's a completely different person
  1174.  
  1175. And that's not all...
  1176.  
  1177. Understandably, she seemed not to know me before, but now she speaks as if she does
  1178.  
  1179. What is this...? Could it be the effect of the noise I sensed?
  1180.  
  1181. Girl with Black Hair: You won't be so smug for long! Come,...Konohana Sakuya...!
  1182.  
  1183. Mitsuru: A Persona!?
  1184.  
  1185. The girl spreads the fan in her hand, and with a flash of light, a Persona manifests
  1186.  
  1187. How careless of me
  1188.  
  1189. I should have accounted for this possibility as soon as I saw her here in this world...
  1190.  
  1191. Mitsuru: We won't be settling this peacefully,...I see... in which case...!
  1192.  
  1193. I ready my Evoker and concentrate...
  1194.  
  1195. Mitsuru: To me, Artemisia!
  1196.  
  1197. Mitsuru: .........!?
  1198.  
  1199. Power rises from within me and the sensation in my limbs tells me that my Persona has emerged
  1200.  
  1201. But my hand holding the Evoker is still at my side
  1202.  
  1203. My Persona... Did it just appear without the use of my Evoker to trigger it? Did I summon it only by thinking...?
  1204.  
  1205. Theoretically, one doesn't need an Evoker to summon one's Persona
  1206.  
  1207. I didn't have one the day my Persona first manifested, and I've done without one several other times as well
  1208.  
  1209. But never before have I summoned it so easily without any special concentration
  1210.  
  1211. It's as if my consciousness is reaching far beyond the boundaries of my body...
  1212.  
  1213. By way of analogy, it feels like being able to control the wind with my fingertips
  1214.  
  1215. Could it be because this world is special...?
  1216.  
  1217. The girl's voice brings me back to the situation at hand
  1218.  
  1219. Which reminds me... the girl doesn't seem to use any special implements to summon either...
  1220.  
  1221. Girl with Black Hair: A Persona-user...! Fine... I still won't lose!
  1222.  
  1223. Mitsuru: Sorry, but I won't be defeated either
  1224.  
  1225. <Battle [VS YUKIKO]>
  1226.  
  1227. Once the battle ends, the monitor nearby switches on...
  1228.  
  1229. General Teddie: An irregularity has occurred... Multiple...intruders detected... Emergency...
  1230.  
  1231. General Teddie: Intruders are Persona-users... Due to...difficulties in elimination, they will be...acknowledged as valid targets...
  1232.  
  1233. He obviously refers to myself and the others
  1234.  
  1235. Does he mean that he's going to adjust his tactics for dealing with us to our various strengths?
  1236.  
  1237. The way he said that seems like a bad omen...
  1238.  
  1239. Mitsuru: "Valid targets"...?
  1240.  
  1241. I understand that we're considered to be intruders, but what did he mean by that?
  1242.  
  1243. It seems we're part of the tournament now But what was the enemy's original plan?
  1244.  
  1245. The monitor's screen fuzzes again... once more, it shows the costumed person as he originally appeared...
  1246.  
  1247. General Teddie: Geez, you need to let me know if you wanna...get in on the fun!
  1248.  
  1249. General Teddie: But this is a unique situation and you're...one hot mama, so I'll make an exception!
  1250.  
  1251. General Teddie: Just keep putting on a good show in your...next bout too!
  1252.  
  1253. Mitsuru: Who are you? Why don't you take off that...strange costume and show your face?
  1254.  
  1255. General Teddie: Hey now! I don't think a lady walking around...in a catsuit like yours can talk to me...about my bearsuit!
  1256.  
  1257. General Teddie: Enough with the questions! Move on!
  1258.  
  1259. Mitsuru: ......
  1260.  
  1261. Again!? Yet another person hung up on my outfit!?
  1262.  
  1263. Ugh... it's unlike me to let the enemy's words get under my skin
  1264.  
  1265. The monitor switches off with those cheeky words...
  1266.  
  1267. Mitsuru: Is that costumed thing the one who stole...Labrys? If so, then what's the purpose of...this bizarre tournament...?
  1268.  
  1269. Mitsuru: Fine... I'll get a read on your location
  1270.  
  1271. I quickly link my communicator and Persona
  1272.  
  1273. Some Personas are more suited to operational support than direct combat
  1274.  
  1275. In my case, though, that power is secondary
  1276.  
  1277. We normally have a Persona-user who specializes in that role, but with some specialized equipment, I can get by
  1278.  
  1279. I focus my consciousness and send it drifting throughout the surrounding area
  1280.  
  1281. The enemy must think he's keeping an eye on us, but he'll learn soon enough that he's not the only one with a bird's-eye view of the situation
  1282.  
  1283. But before the layout of this place becomes clear, an unexpected change occurs around me
  1284.  
  1285. The moment I use my power, noise runs through the students that had been spectating
  1286.  
  1287. In an instant, they turn into something like silhouettes that barely have human shapes
  1288.  
  1289. It seems their true colors have been exposed
  1290.  
  1291. Are they not human...?
  1292.  
  1293. Mitsuru: What? Were they Shadows...? If they were,...I don't sense any hostility from them...
  1294.  
  1295. Mitsuru: Were they just set dressing that thing...in the costume prepared?
  1296.  
  1297. Apparently, this disturbance isn't so serious that the large crowd that cheering implied was made up entirely of people who entered the TV
  1298.  
  1299. Which leaves it a mystery... but it may be best to consider it a blessing...
  1300.  
  1301. Mitsuru: In any case... it appears that apart from...this girl here, none of those students were real...
  1302.  
  1303. Girl with Black Hair: Mm...
  1304.  
  1305. The girl who had collapsed on the floor is coming around
  1306.  
  1307. I release my Persona and rush over to help her up
  1308.  
  1309. I wasn't fighting to my fullest...
  1310.  
  1311. So she shouldn't be suffering from any real wounds
  1312.  
  1313. There are many mysteries surrounding this girl...
  1314.  
  1315. She seems to be more than just an associate of the one in the bear costume...
  1316.  
  1317. Girl with Black Hair: Ah...!
  1318.  
  1319. The moment the girl sees me, she jumps back like a startled animal
  1320.  
  1321. Her speech is flustered, and her face a bright, blushing red There are tears in her eyes...
  1322.  
  1323. Girl with Black Hair: H-How come you knew about that!?
  1324.  
  1325. Mitsuru: About what...?
  1326.  
  1327. Girl with Black Hair: That was private! I never even told anyone...at the inn about that...!
  1328.  
  1329. Girl with Black Hair: I can't believe someone I've never even...met before knew!
  1330.  
  1331. The girl covers her reddened face in shame
  1332.  
  1333. I try and think back to what I said to her
  1334.  
  1335. Did I point out anything that would cause such a reaction?
  1336.  
  1337. One detail jumps out at me...
  1338.  
  1339. When the girl's manner of speech shifted before our battle, it wasn't just her personality that abruptly changed
  1340.  
  1341. Though we had just met, she talked as if she knew more than she should about my past...
  1342.  
  1343. Mitsuru: That reminds me, that noise I sensed earlier...is gone...
  1344.  
  1345. Yet the girl before me now no longer bears any of the senseless animosity from before...
  1346.  
  1347. Mitsuru: It seems to have been some kind of...interference from the enemy...
  1348.  
  1349. Mitsuru: Come to think of it, that bear was egging...us on The interference must have been to...ensure two total strangers would fight...
  1350.  
  1351. Mitsuru: "General Teddie", was it...? He looked...comical enough, but he's certainly put an...elaborate scheme in motion...
  1352.  
  1353. Girl with Black Hair: No... How could Teddie...?
  1354.  
  1355. She seems to have finally calmed down, and continues muttering with a perplexed expression...
  1356.  
  1357. Mitsuru: You know the one in costume, I take it?
  1358.  
  1359. Girl with Black Hair: Oh, I know him very well He's usually...not like this at all...
  1360.  
  1361. I take the girl's hand and again help her to her feet...
  1362.  
  1363. Mitsuru: I'm Mitsuru Kirijo I've come here in search...of a unique object...
  1364.  
  1365. Mitsuru: Why don't we start over? If you don't mind,...I'd like to hear a little about yourself...
  1366.  
  1367. Girl with Black Hair: Yes... oh, my name's Yukiko Amagi I'm sorry...for losing my composure just now...
  1368.  
  1369. Mitsuru: So, Amagi, why did you come to this world?
  1370.  
  1371. Yukiko: Hmm... where to start...? So many strange...things happened over the last year...
  1372.  
  1373. At first glance, she looks like an ordinary student So why is she here inside the TV?
  1374.  
  1375. Amagi briefly summarized her recent past to me in an even tone of voice
  1376.  
  1377. According to her, this world was prominent in a serial murder case last year
  1378.  
  1379. She and her friends awakened to their Personas while investigating the case, and eventually solved it
  1380.  
  1381. At the case's conclusion, this world formed by people's thoughts returned to its original state
  1382.  
  1383. ...None of this contradicts what I learned from Detective Kurosawa...
  1384.  
  1385. Mitsuru: A realm inside a TV, formed by people's...thoughts...
  1386.  
  1387. Mitsuru: It sounds absurd, but that would explain the...incongruity I sensed when I used my Persona...
  1388.  
  1389. Yukiko: We thought the case had been solved, but...lately there's been another strange...program on the air...
  1390.  
  1391. Yukiko: My friends and I couldn't ignore that,...so we came back here...
  1392.  
  1393. Mitsuru: Your friends? Are there others here...besides yourself?
  1394.  
  1395. Yukiko: Yes, I was with three other people But we...got separated when we entered...
  1396.  
  1397. Yukiko: The one in costume and the girl who called...herself "Risette" are friends of ours, too...
  1398.  
  1399. Yukiko: But they're acting so strangely...
  1400.  
  1401. Mitsuru: So this is not the way they generally...behave, then?
  1402.  
  1403. I can tell from Amagi's reactions that normally, she trusts those two implicitly
  1404.  
  1405. Considering what the enemy did to her earlier, could they be under its control as well?
  1406.  
  1407. Either way, it sheds no light on the theft of Labrys
  1408.  
  1409. How are they related?
  1410.  
  1411. Or is this incident only a coincidence...?
  1412.  
  1413. Mitsuru: There's one more thing I'm curious about...Have you ever heard the name "Labrys"?
  1414.  
  1415. Yukiko: Labrys? No, I don't think I've ever heard...of that before... what is it?
  1416.  
  1417. Mitsuru: It's the thing I'm searching for What makes it...problematic is that I know nothing of its appearance...
  1418.  
  1419. Mitsuru: Honestly, I'm not sure it has anything...to do with this disturbance...
  1420.  
  1421. Mitsuru: Though I can't write it off completely...as irrelevant
  1422.  
  1423. Though it appears that there is no connection, whoever went so far as to hijack a plane to steal Labrys brought her all the way here
  1424.  
  1425. No matter how I look at it, that means something...
  1426.  
  1427. Mitsuru: Anyway, thank you for your cooperation...I understand the situation better now...We should stay together going forward...
  1428.  
  1429. General Teddie: Whoa, think again, ladies!
  1430.  
  1431. General Teddie suddenly appears on the screen to interrupt our conversation...
  1432.  
  1433. General Teddie: Only the winner of each bout can go on!...That's rule #1 in the Grand Prix!
  1434.  
  1435. How exactly can that rule be enforced...?
  1436.  
  1437. As if to answer my unspoken question, Amagi makes an odd gesture...
  1438.  
  1439. Yukiko: Hmm...? There's nothing here, but I can...feel something... a wall, maybe...?
  1440.  
  1441. Yukiko: Wait, but Mitsuru-san could...
  1442.  
  1443. Amagi looks at me expectantly
  1444.  
  1445. I take a tentative step and walk through the place where she claims there is a wall...
  1446.  
  1447. General Teddie: Like I said, you're stuck there until the...tournament's over! Only winners get to go!
  1448.  
  1449. General Teddie: C'mon, miss! You won, so it's time to...bear-rel forward to the next stage!
  1450.  
  1451. I must leave the girl alone in this strange world, then
  1452.  
  1453. Though I'm uneasy about doing so...
  1454.  
  1455. Amagi seems to read my thoughts and smiles...
  1456.  
  1457. Yukiko: Thank you, but I'll be all right...
  1458.  
  1459. Yukiko: I fought Shadows for an entire year, too...I can protect myself...
  1460.  
  1461. Mitsuru: ...I see In that case, I'll press on and...do my best to rescue your friends...
  1462.  
  1463. Yukiko: If you see them, please tell them I'm all right...and they shouldn't worry about me...
  1464.  
  1465. Yukiko: You be careful too, Mitsuru-san
  1466.  
  1467. Amagi smiles resolutely
  1468.  
  1469. She's a very strong girl...
  1470.  
  1471. Mitsuru: All right I'll pass that along
  1472.  
  1473. I nod, acknowleding her wishes, and turn my back to walk away...
  1474.  
  1475. Mitsuru: Not only do they tamper with our minds,...they prevent us from leaving until...the tournament is settled...
  1476.  
  1477. Mitsuru: It may not necessarily ruin friendships,...but there's no way forward than to fight...one another... what a loathsome trick...
  1478.  
  1479. Mitsuru: It seems the mastermind is intent on us...fighting each other...
  1480.  
  1481. I grit my teeth in anger
  1482.  
  1483. Amagi's clear eyes remain in my heart
  1484.  
  1485. This operation... It's no longer just to retrieve Labrys
  1486.  
  1487. I make a silent vow as I go... everyone who has been dragged into this must be rescued
  1488.  
  1489. Mitsuru: Hmm, another dead end
  1490.  
  1491. As I step into the school, I realize that these invisible walls are everywhere, blocking off routes that seem open to the naked eye
  1492.  
  1493. Why is the thief who stole Labrys gathering Persona-users in this world...?
  1494.  
  1495. Not having a clear idea of their motivations is aggravating my anxiety
  1496.  
  1497. Aigis and Akihiko may have been dragged into this "Grand Prix" as well If so, we need to compare notes
  1498.  
  1499. If all goes well, we may figure out the location of the mastermind behind this that I failed to grasp earlier
  1500.  
  1501. After quickly confirming that there are no Shadows nearby, I link my communicator with my Persona
  1502.  
  1503. I focus my consciousness and send it drifting throughout the surrounding area...
  1504.  
  1505. Mysterious Voicela...hurts... So lonely...
  1506.  
  1507. Mitsuru: Hm? What was that...?
  1508.  
  1509. The presence is faint, and I can't tell where it is... yet I can definitely hear a voice
  1510.  
  1511. It seems I could sense it because of my secondary support capabilities, but when I focus harder, it doesn't seem that they're trying to communicate with me
  1512.  
  1513. It's more like the words, and the intense emotions behind them, are seeping out of the room itself... perhaps even from all around me
  1514.  
  1515. Eventually, the voice becomes clearer...
  1516.  
  1517. Mysterious VoicelaI'm scared... and alone... it hurts......Why...? Why won't anyone listen...?
  1518.  
  1519. Mitsuru: I don't recognize the voice... perhaps...one of Amagi's friends?
  1520.  
  1521. Mysterious VoicelaI didn't ask to be born a machine......How come no one understands?
  1522.  
  1523. Mysterious VoicelaWhat's the difference between normal...people's hearts and mine...?
  1524.  
  1525. Mitsuru: A machine...? Is that Labrys!?
  1526.  
  1527. I stand up and try calling to her...
  1528.  
  1529. Mitsuru: Labrys! Are you nearby!? Answer me!
  1530.  
  1531. But there is no answer
  1532.  
  1533. It seems that it's not because the voice's owner is nearby that I can hear her
  1534.  
  1535. It is subtly different from hearing voices with one's own ears, it's true...
  1536.  
  1537. I focus my senses once again, but I still can't tell exactly where it's coming from
  1538.  
  1539. Not yet having a thorough command of the layout here makes it harder to pinpoint
  1540.  
  1541. Eventually, the voice fades Only silence remains...Mitsuru: Going by what she said, that had to have...been Labrys...
  1542.  
  1543. Mitsuru: It sounds as if her heart has developed...further than we thought...
  1544.  
  1545. Even Aigis, the latest model, required a lot of time and experience to develop the heart she has
  1546.  
  1547. So then why does Labrys, who's been sealed from her development up to now, have such an advanced heart...?
  1548.  
  1549. Mitsuru: "I didn't ask to be born a machine"......It pains me to hear that...
  1550.  
  1551. The Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapons...
  1552.  
  1553. Both Aigis and Labrys were created as insurance for dangerous Shadow experimentations, in case the subjects should go berserk
  1554.  
  1555. The only thing that can stand up against a Shadow is a Persona, and being able to control one is an absolute necessity when dealing with Shadows
  1556.  
  1557. Thus they were given hearts, in order to be able to induce their ability to use Personas
  1558.  
  1559. But a weapon that has a heart contradicts itself
  1560.  
  1561. It was natural for Aigis to face that contradiction, and it caused her serious anguish in the past...
  1562.  
  1563. Mitsuru: We can't allow victims like her to be...tormented by sins of the past...
  1564.  
  1565. Mitsuru: Whether they're human or not
  1566.  
  1567. Newly resolved, I press on
  1568.  
  1569. I continue through the school, still unable to contact Aigis or Akihiko
  1570.  
  1571. The invisible walls seem to be leading me towards a gym...
  1572.  
  1573. Compared to the one back at Gekkoukan High, this one is rather modest, but the chairs stacked to unusual heights and the monitors everywhere gave it an eerie air
  1574.  
  1575. Ah, the monitor is switching on again
  1576.  
  1577. But this time, it's not showing General Teddie...
  1578.  
  1579. How strange... This appears to be a commercial for a fighting event...Mitsuru: What in the...
  1580.  
  1581. A succession of young men and women are introduced as participants
  1582.  
  1583. One of them I recognize as Amagi...
  1584.  
  1585. Mitsuru: They're wearing the same uniforms as...Amagi... I assume these are the friends...she spoke of
  1586.  
  1587. All of them are introduced with horrible epithets, but the Amagi I met in person was a completely different, sophisticated girl
  1588.  
  1589. I suppose the enemy made up all the taglines
  1590.  
  1591. Just as Amagi's introduction ends, the video suddenly turns off and General Teddie's face appears on screen...
  1592.  
  1593. General Teddie: I had to completely rejigger the bracket to...accomodate three new contestants! Sheesh!
  1594.  
  1595. Mitsuru: Three new contestants... myself, Akihiko,...and Aigis!?
  1596.  
  1597. General Teddie: On the other paw, a tournament's more...exciting with more people in it!
  1598.  
  1599. General Teddie: But getting back on track... allow me...to introduce your next opponent!
  1600.  
  1601. When I enter, someone who had already been there turns around
  1602.  
  1603. His face... It was on the video a moment ago...
  1604.  
  1605. Yosuke: Huh...? There's people besides us here!?
  1606.  
  1607. Mitsuru: You're...Yosuke: Holy crap, she's smoking hot... that thing...she's wearing doesn't hurt, either...
  1608.  
  1609. Mitsuru: You were in that video just now What was it...they called you... "Captain Ressentiment"?
  1610.  
  1611. Yosuke: Argh! How come you remember that stupid...title and not my real name!?
  1612.  
  1613. Yosuke: It figures I meet a knockout like this and...she already knows about that... gaaaah!...I wish I was dead!
  1614.  
  1615. ...Apparently, the epithets from the video hit a sore point with the people featured
  1616.  
  1617. The nickname left more of an impression than his real name, so it just slipped out...
  1618.  
  1619. At that moment, General Teddie appears again on one of the larger monitors inside the gym...
  1620.  
  1621. General Teddie: Heehee... how do you like your opponent?
  1622.  
  1623. Mitsuru: Why are you making us fight? What benefit...do you derive from this nonsense?
  1624.  
  1625. General Teddie: Hmmm? So many questions!
  1626.  
  1627. General Teddie: I just want you all to suffer! Isn't that...exciting? Isn't that fun?
  1628.  
  1629. Mitsuru: That's what this is about!? No... if Labrys is...involved, there're more to it, isn't there?
  1630.  
  1631. General Teddie: Enough jibba-jabba! Hurry and start the fight!
  1632.  
  1633. General Teddie: Look at your opponent! He's ready, see?
  1634.  
  1635. The General's smirk strikes me as incongruous
  1636.  
  1637. It's the same as that time with Amagi...
  1638.  
  1639. As I glare at the monitor, thinking that more interference is at work here, I hear unexpectedly bitter words...
  1640.  
  1641. Yosuke: Yeah, Teddie's right I mean, you're the one...who barged in here...
  1642.  
  1643. Mitsuru: .........
  1644.  
  1645. Yosuke: Man, who'd come to such a dangerous place...without hesitating?
  1646.  
  1647. Yosuke: You really are an ice queen I bet you...don't have many friends, huh?
  1648.  
  1649. It's happening again
  1650.  
  1651. The moment that noise kicks in, not only does my opponent's personality change, they begin speaking of things they shouldn't know about
  1652.  
  1653. It's exactly like what happened with Amagi...
  1654.  
  1655. Mitsuru: You talk as if you know me...
  1656.  
  1657. Yosuke: Stop acting so calm and changing the subject...
  1658.  
  1659. Yosuke: You seem like you don't know much about this...world, so how do you plan to get out?
  1660.  
  1661. Yosuke: Don't tell me you rushed in here with no...escape plan!
  1662.  
  1663. Mitsuru: .........
  1664.  
  1665. Yosuke: Oh man, seriously!? Haha, you're nuts!
  1666.  
  1667. Yosuke: People like you who obsess over responsibility...and put all the burden on yourselves......You annoy the hell out of me...
  1668.  
  1669. Mitsuru: It doesn't matter how others perceive me...
  1670.  
  1671. Yosuke: Yeah, that's what I'm talking about...
  1672.  
  1673. Yosuke: Isn't that because you don't trust anyone?
  1674.  
  1675. Mitsuru: ......
  1676.  
  1677. We clearly can't have a normal conversation with the enemy's interference... But even knowing that, I catch myself trying to argue the point
  1678.  
  1679. The heavy responsibility I suffer is mine alone
  1680.  
  1681. If I share it with someone, that means that suffering will also be shared
  1682.  
  1683. That is why I try to be self-sufficient
  1684.  
  1685. The more I care about someone, the less I'm willing to rely on them...
  1686.  
  1687. ...But isn't that no better than not believing in them?
  1688.  
  1689. I've been caught in that trap before
  1690.  
  1691. Maybe I still haven't truly escaped it
  1692.  
  1693. But how could he guess at my private distress, one that I've barely confided to others before?
  1694.  
  1695. Mitsuru: I was supposedly an unexpected intruder......What's going on...?
  1696.  
  1697. Yosuke: What're you mumbling about?
  1698.  
  1699. Yosuke: Well, let me ease your mind I'll end...everything for you...!
  1700.  
  1701. Yosuke: Let's do this, Jiraiya!
  1702.  
  1703. Rise: Go, Yosuke-senpai! Beat up that shady lady!...Let the fight begin!
  1704.  
  1705. Mitsuru: Tch... I can see there'll be no talking...sense with him like this...
  1706.  
  1707. Mitsuru: There's nothing for it, then! Artemisia!
  1708.  
  1709. <BATTLE [vs YOSUKE]>
  1710.  
  1711. Rise: Awww, you're so useless, Yosuke-senpai...Unfortunately, the party-crasher wins
  1712.  
  1713. The girl on the PA system is rather casual with her insults
  1714.  
  1715. Soon after, General Teddie appears on the monitor...
  1716.  
  1717. General Teddie: You're sooo strong, miss! I can bearly...believe how gorgeous and powerful you are!
  1718.  
  1719. Mitsuru: It seems they're not provoking us only...to have us fight one another...
  1720.  
  1721. Mitsuru: And their method... Is it more like an...illusion they're casting over us, rather...than some sort of mind control?
  1722.  
  1723. General Teddie:
  1724.  
  1725. Still trying to figure everything out?...Switch your brain off and enjoy the Grand...Prix already!
  1726.  
  1727. Mitsuru: Sorry, but I'm not some savage who enjoys...the suffering of others...
  1728.  
  1729. Mitsuru: And don't call me "miss" My name is Mitsuru Kirijo...
  1730.  
  1731. General Teddie: Kirijo...!?
  1732.  
  1733. Mitsuru: You've toyed with us, and I don't take that...lightly I'll make you pay for what you've...done You'd better be prepared for that...
  1734.  
  1735. General Teddie: Kirijo...
  1736.  
  1737. The moment he hears my voice, the face on the bear costume distorts into a mask of hate...
  1738.  
  1739. General Teddie: Grrrr! You're the one who should be prepared!...I'll never let you stop me!
  1740.  
  1741. The broadcast ends after he flings those words at me...
  1742.  
  1743. Mitsuru: I mentioned my name on purpose... he reacted...as strongly to the name "Kirijo" as I thought...he would
  1744.  
  1745. I still don't know anything for certain, but I'm increasingly sure that General Teddie is related to the circumstances surrounding Labrys...
  1746.  
  1747. Mitsuru: At first, I thought I'd stumbled into an...irrelevant side incident... but evidently...not We were meant to come here
  1748.  
  1749. Just then, the young man behind me slowly gets to his feet...
  1750.  
  1751. Yosuke: Oww...
  1752.  
  1753. Mitsuru: Ah, you're awake
  1754.  
  1755. It seems now that the battle is settled, the interference causing us both to seem odd has vanished
  1756.  
  1757. Hanamura cringes away, frightened
  1758.  
  1759. I can't help but shrug...
  1760.  
  1761. Mitsuru: My, my... Amagi reacted the same way...Were the things that the illusory me...said that harsh?
  1762.  
  1763. Yosuke: O-Oh, you bet... Wait, what? "Illusory"?
  1764.  
  1765. Yosuke: And did you just say Amagi? You met Yukiko!?
  1766.  
  1767. Mitsuru: Yes, before I came here I was forced to...fight her, quite against my will
  1768.  
  1769. I explain the situation to him
  1770.  
  1771. I also add that she shared information with me on last year's case
  1772.  
  1773. That should help prove that I did encounter Amagi
  1774.  
  1775. Just on the off chance, I ask Hanamura about Labrys, but he seems not to even know the name
  1776.  
  1777. Once we've finished speaking, he stands up and places his hand in the air as if touching something there...
  1778.  
  1779. Yosuke: Only the winner can move on, huh...? I'm the...only one who can feel this invisible wall...thing, so I guess it's true...
  1780.  
  1781. Mitsuru: I'm glad you understand I was worried you'd...doubt me, since I'm a complete stranger...
  1782.  
  1783. Yosuke: Well, you didn't seem like someone who'd...try and trick me...
  1784.  
  1785. Yosuke: I mean, what's the point? I've lost now,...so I can't go anywhere...
  1786.  
  1787. Mitsuru: Indeed You're very pragmatic
  1788.  
  1789. The young man waves away my compliment...
  1790.  
  1791. Yosuke: Nah, after what I went through last year,...I just got used to coming smack up against...insane stuff in this world...
  1792.  
  1793. Yosuke: And Yukiko... my friend you met... she...believed in you, so I don't mind trusting...you too...
  1794.  
  1795. Mitsuru: I see...
  1796.  
  1797. I can't help myself from smiling
  1798.  
  1799. Their bond seems to be real
  1800.  
  1801. I do somewhat envy the way they trust each other without a doubt
  1802.  
  1803. That could never have happened unless they had overcome the same trials together...
  1804.  
  1805. Mitsuru: I'd like your opinion on something What do...you think is the objective of this tournament?
  1806.  
  1807. Mitsuru: That "General Teddie" said it was all in fun,...but I doubt it's anything so simple...
  1808.  
  1809. Yosuke: I've been wondering the same thing, but I...don't know...
  1810.  
  1811. Yosuke: But you know, it might not just be Teddie...behind it I met this weird girl earlier...
  1812.  
  1813. Mitsuru: A weird girl...?
  1814.  
  1815. Yosuke: She was about my age and she said she was...the student council president...
  1816.  
  1817. Yosuke: It was like she had no idea that she was...inside the TV world That doesn't seem...very likely, does it?
  1818.  
  1819. Mitsuru: No, I doubt one could be unaware of such...things... Hmm It's possible that she...didn't come here of her own will...
  1820.  
  1821. Yosuke: This may be a school now, but it doesn't...always look like this...
  1822.  
  1823. Yosuke: When normal people who don't have Personas...come in here, the world changes to reflect...what they're thinking of...
  1824.  
  1825. Yosuke: It happened every time a victim was dumped...into a TV last year...
  1826.  
  1827. Yosuke: Maybe this time, she's the victim... even if...she means well, she still could have a lot...to do with the tournament...
  1828.  
  1829. Mitsuru: A girl, huh...
  1830.  
  1831. Judging from the state of affairs, I'm beginning to think that the girl in question is Labrys
  1832.  
  1833. Since Hanamura doesn't know the details of my mission, it wouldn't occur to him that what I'm searching for is a humanoid weapon with a heart...
  1834.  
  1835. Mitsuru: What did this girl look like? Did anything...about her stand out?
  1836.  
  1837. Yosuke: Huh? No, not really... she wore the same...uniform as the rest of us...
  1838.  
  1839. Mitsuru: A uniform...?
  1840.  
  1841. Considering how Aigis looks, it's possible that Labrys' appearance is quite close to human
  1842.  
  1843. But what does it mean that she's completely able to pass as a human?
  1844.  
  1845. Even Aigis has to wear clothes that cover her entire body in order for her to walk around town
  1846.  
  1847. Yet Labrys even wears the same uniform as them...?
  1848.  
  1849. Chalk up another unsolved mystery, I suppose
  1850.  
  1851. But after talking with Hanamura, it does feel like I'm starting to understand the bigger picture here...
  1852.  
  1853. Mitsuru: I see... thank you I'm getting a clearer...picture of what's going on...
  1854.  
  1855. Mitsuru: I'm sorry, but I can't stay and chat...I should be leaving now...
  1856.  
  1857. Yosuke: Oh, uh, wait a sec! Um... can I ask you...a favor?
  1858.  
  1859. Mitsuru: Hm...?
  1860.  
  1861. Yosuke: Can you look after my other friends too?...It sucks, but I can't get to them from here...
  1862.  
  1863. Yosuke: That Teddie's really not a bad guy, either......Sure, he eats my ice cream without asking...and stuff, but...
  1864.  
  1865. Yosuke: He's not the type of guy who'd get off on...watching people hurt each other There's...got to be some other explanation!
  1866.  
  1867. Mitsuru: Don't worry I was already thinking along...similar lines...
  1868.  
  1869. Mitsuru: What we saw was an illusion It may be that...they're faced with the same situation...
  1870.  
  1871. Mitsuru: I'll save everyone who's been dragged into...this, including your friends, and this..."student council president"
  1872.  
  1873. Yosuke: Thanks! Just hurry, before someone else...dies in here...!
  1874.  
  1875. Hanamura's expression, which had previously been bright--albeit desperate--darkens noticeably
  1876.  
  1877. From all I've heard, last year's Shadow incident revolved around serial murders
  1878.  
  1879. It may be... that he lost someone as well
  1880.  
  1881. To fight desperately, but lacking the power to make a difference, and being forcibly parted from loved ones...
  1882.  
  1883. I understand that pain all too well...
  1884.  
  1885. Yosuke: Haha... I must sound pretty lame, losing the...fight and then making a lot of demands...
  1886.  
  1887. Mitsuru: Not so Your concern for your friends in...a situation like this... C'est magnifique...
  1888.  
  1889. Yosuke: Magni... what?
  1890.  
  1891. Mitsuru: I sensed it when speaking to Amagi, too,...but you all seem to have very strong wills...
  1892.  
  1893. Mitsuru: I promise to do what I can to help
  1894.  
  1895. The emotions he seems to view as a weakness are actually a strength
  1896.  
  1897. I'm sure that with a little more experience, he'll come to realize that
  1898.  
  1899. He'll see how difficult it is to hold on to that will, and how valuable it is to have friends he can share it with
  1900.  
  1901. Since I am the one who'll be moving on, I'm responsible for the duties he entrusted to me
  1902.  
  1903. As if sensing my determination, Hanamura's expression turns serious... and he nods
  1904.  
  1905. After parting with Hanamura, I once again proceed through the school
  1906.  
  1907. The invisible walls continue to bar my path
  1908.  
  1909. Undoubtedly, the enemy is leading me exactly where he wants me...
  1910.  
  1911. Mitsuru: Is there no end to this?
  1912.  
  1913. The rules of the P-1 Grand Prix are powerfully enforced
  1914.  
  1915. I tried to see if I could destroy one of these walls, but it doesn't seem as though I can
  1916.  
  1917. Maybe if I used all my strength, but in that case, I'd be at a disadvantage in my next fight
  1918.  
  1919. Either way, it didn't seem worth the trouble
  1920.  
  1921. I stray from the suggested route on purpose and open one of the classroom doors
  1922.  
  1923. I sense no enemies here
  1924.  
  1925. And it doesn't look likely that I'll run into my next opponent here either
  1926.  
  1927. ...It should be safe here
  1928.  
  1929. Once again, I link my communicator with my Persona
  1930.  
  1931. This time, unlike before, my senses cleanly and smoothly spread outward
  1932.  
  1933. I sense one... no, two familiar reactions...
  1934.  
  1935. Mitsuru: Akihiko... and Aigis They both seem to be okay
  1936.  
  1937. First, I focus my senses to contact with Aigis, who's closer by...
  1938.  
  1939. Mitsuru: Can you hear me, Aigis?
  1940.  
  1941. Aigis: Mitsuru-san! I am relieved to finally hear...from you Is Akihiko-san with you?
  1942.  
  1943. Mitsuru: No, we were separated, but I've confirmed...his safety I'm sure he won't be defeated...that easily
  1944.  
  1945. Aigis laughs upon hearing my words...
  1946.  
  1947. Mitsuru: Let's exchange information while we can
  1948.  
  1949. I give her a simple outline of the current situation
  1950.  
  1951. I mention the students that were drawn here...
  1952.  
  1953. My suspicions that this Grand Prix's mastermind is almost certainly related to Labrys...
  1954.  
  1955. And what I've heard of a girl whom I'm assuming to be Labrys...
  1956.  
  1957. Aigis: I saw that girl a moment ago Though I...lost sight of her when the invisible...walls blocked my path...
  1958.  
  1959. Mitsuru: I've been told she looks more human than...you Is that possible?
  1960.  
  1961. Aigis: Not only that, she was almost indistinguishable...from a normal person I couldn't believe...it, either...
  1962.  
  1963. Aigis: Yet I definitely sensed a personality...module I don't believe there's any mistake...that she is Labrys...
  1964.  
  1965. Mitsuru: I see...
  1966.  
  1967. There's no doubt that General Teddie has strong ties to Labrys and the Kirijo Group
  1968.  
  1969. But this girl whom we believe to be Labrys is apparently walking around unconstrained
  1970.  
  1971. If he can set up this many walls, it should be easy for him to capture her too...
  1972.  
  1973. Mitsuru: Don't worry about meeting up for now Under...the present conditions, we'd only end up...fighting amongst ourselves...
  1974.  
  1975. Aigis: Understood...
  1976.  
  1977. Mitsuru: I don't know how Labrys ties in to this...situation yet, but be careful...
  1978.  
  1979. Mitsuru: Hello...? Mm... I lost her...
  1980.  
  1981. Aigis' voice trails off as my connection to her dies out again
  1982.  
  1983. I wonder if the enemy noticed our conversation and took preventative measures...
  1984.  
  1985. Though the voice I'm hearing now definitely isn't General Teddie's...
  1986.  
  1987. Mysterious VoicelaAin't there... some other way...?...If there was... then...
  1988.  
  1989. Mitsuru: That's the same voice from before...
  1990.  
  1991. Mitsuru: Labrys! Is that you?
  1992.  
  1993. It's happening again
  1994.  
  1995. The voice reaches me through my Persona ability, but I have the strangest sensation about it...
  1996.  
  1997. I get the impression that the voice is seeping out of this place itself...
  1998.  
  1999. Mysterious VoicelaWhy are you laughing? What about this...is funny...!?
  2000.  
  2001. Mitsuru: Who is she addressing...?
  2002.  
  2003. Mysterious VoicelaI don't wanna fight them anymore...!
  2004.  
  2005. Mitsuru: That reminds me... Hanamura said that the...environments here are formed by the thoughts...of those who enter this world...
  2006.  
  2007. Mitsuru: Could these be Labrys' innermost thoughts?...Is that why everything about this place...radiates her feelings...?
  2008.  
  2009. Mysterious VoicelaWhaddaya think we are...!?
  2010.  
  2011. Mitsuru: Ngh...!?
  2012.  
  2013. For a moment, I experience not just the voice, but a powerful wave of emotions
  2014.  
  2015. They bombard me through my Persona's senses
  2016.  
  2017. A strong sadness...
  2018.  
  2019. Confusion...
  2020.  
  2021. Despair
  2022.  
  2023. I can't help but fall to my knees, though nothing is assaulting me directly
  2024.  
  2025. How can I describe this weight...?
  2026.  
  2027. One possible explanation crosses my mind...
  2028.  
  2029. Mitsuru: She's not addressing anyone These... are...her memories... I see So that's what's...going on...
  2030.  
  2031. I think back to what General Teddie said...
  2032.  
  2033. That making people suffer is "fun"
  2034.  
  2035. I dismissed it as a barbaric desire not worth thinking about too deeply...
  2036.  
  2037. But in truth, what kind of horrors would someone have to go through to emerge with such a stunted perspective?
  2038.  
  2039. Mitsuru: I'm finally beginning to see the relationship...between this tournament and Labrys...
  2040.  
  2041. In any case, I must proceed on to learn anything
  2042.  
  2043. I redouble my resolve and begin walking again
  2044.  
  2045. The monitor suddenly turns on, showing a smirking General Teddie...
  2046.  
  2047. General Teddie: What're you getting so sentimental for?...The Grand Prix's not over yet!
  2048.  
  2049. Mitsuru: Then you intend to continue this meaningless...farce?
  2050.  
  2051. General Teddie: I'll decide what's meaningless or not! Bring...out the next challenger!
  2052.  
  2053. As soon as the General shouts, smoke gushes out, obstructing my view
  2054.  
  2055. It seems he isn't willing to listen to reason at all--not that I expected otherwise
  2056.  
  2057. Who will I be forced to fight this time...?
  2058.  
  2059. I strain my eyes to see through the smoke
  2060.  
  2061. It looks like it's...
  2062.  
  2063. Mitsuru: You...!?
  2064.  
  2065. I remember that face
  2066.  
  2067. Naoto Shirogane...
  2068.  
  2069. He was present as a police observer when Labrys was being transported to Yakushima
  2070.  
  2071. It was thanks to his quick thinking that we discovered Labrys had been taken to Inaba
  2072.  
  2073. If our trip hadn't been disrupted by the hijacking, he might still be with us in Yakushima
  2074.  
  2075. But why is he here...?
  2076.  
  2077. Naoto: This is a problem... I didn't think we'd...run into each other so soon...
  2078.  
  2079. Mitsuru: Is this another illusion? No... I can see...that it isn't Why are you here...?
  2080.  
  2081. Naoto: I'll answer that question later It would be...best to say as little as possible for now
  2082.  
  2083. With that, the young man lifts a finger to his lips in a gesture to remain silent
  2084.  
  2085. Directly afterwards, that staticky sensation runs through my body
  2086.  
  2087. It's then that I understand what he meant
  2088.  
  2089. Once again, this noise will prevent us from understanding each other properly
  2090.  
  2091. He's probably also noticed the effect at work
  2092.  
  2093. Nothing we say right now could be called "conversing"
  2094.  
  2095. If we both understand that, neither of us need take what the other says personally
  2096.  
  2097. That's why he called for temporary silence
  2098.  
  2099. It's an amazing assessment, given the brief time in which he had to make it
  2100.  
  2101. Before long, as expected, the young man before me undergoes a complete attitude reversal...
  2102.  
  2103. Naoto: Seriously... such impatience, handling the...grunt work yourself like this...
  2104.  
  2105. Naoto: Isn't micromanaging like this the style...of an incompetent leader, one who can't...see the bigger picture?
  2106.  
  2107. Mitsuru: ......
  2108.  
  2109. This isn't how he truly feels
  2110.  
  2111. I say nothing...
  2112.  
  2113. Naoto: The silent treatment, hm? That's fine...I understand perfectly...
  2114.  
  2115. Naoto: You don't believe in people... not a single one...
  2116.  
  2117. Mitsuru: .........
  2118.  
  2119. Naoto: You have friends and allies, but believing...in them is a different thing I suspect...you'll never break down that wall...
  2120.  
  2121. Naoto: Shall I say it for you? You're actually...scared to...
  2122.  
  2123. Naoto: The notion of growing attached to something...and losing it scares you so much that you'll...share nothing truly important to you...
  2124.  
  2125. Naoto: Even if you want to believe in your friends,...you can't...
  2126.  
  2127. Mitsuru: That's not true!
  2128.  
  2129. After the words slip from my mouth, I realize that the argument is futile...
  2130.  
  2131. Naoto: Of course it is Why not simply admit it?
  2132.  
  2133. Naoto: In truth, you have your hands full just...expiating your family's sins...
  2134.  
  2135. Naoto: You don't need the added burden of others...placing their lives in your hands......Isn't that how you really feel?
  2136.  
  2137. Mitsuru: No...!
  2138.  
  2139. The young man smirks, as if ridiculing my inability to stop myself from responding to his allegations, despite knowing the futility of doing so
  2140.  
  2141. But the smirk only helps me to regain my composure
  2142.  
  2143. The real Shirogane would never make that face
  2144.  
  2145. This is only an illusion...
  2146.  
  2147. Mitsuru: There's no use continuing this Not until...I eliminate this irritating mirage!
  2148.  
  2149. <Battle [vs NAOTO]>
  2150.  
  2151. I turn towards the monitor on the assumption that General Teddie will appear to mock us
  2152.  
  2153. But for some reason, this time, he doesn't
  2154.  
  2155. I'm not sure why, but it at least allows us time to calmly talk things over
  2156.  
  2157. I look towards the young man once again...
  2158.  
  2159. Mitsuru: Am I getting through to you now?
  2160.  
  2161. Naoto: ...Yes The same goes for me, I presume?
  2162.  
  2163. Naoto: It seems we were spellbound until the fight...began, as we both suspected...
  2164.  
  2165. Naoto: They disrupted our communications to drive...a wedge between us and make us fight...
  2166.  
  2167. Naoto: Though it's a mystery to me as to where...it draws such personal slights for the...illusions before us...
  2168.  
  2169. Mitsuru: I agree...
  2170.  
  2171. He seems to bear no animosity and is willing to discuss things, but to be honest, I'm not sure where we stand
  2172.  
  2173. Why is he here?
  2174.  
  2175. I can think of several possible explanations, but if he secretly followed us in, his canniness may prove dangerous
  2176.  
  2177. He gives a sudden wry smile, as if sensing my reluctance and trying to assuage it...
  2178.  
  2179. Naoto: There's no need to be cagey I don't intend...to dodge whatever questions you have...
  2180.  
  2181. Naoto: You were probably wondering three things...when you saw me here...
  2182.  
  2183. Naoto: First: how did I enter this world?...
  2184.  
  2185. Second: what am I doing in Inaba?
  2186.  
  2187. Naoto: And third... if I came here looking for you,...what are my true intentions?
  2188.  
  2189. Mitsuru: No wonder you've made a name for yourself as...a detective You're correct on all counts...
  2190.  
  2191. Naoto: The first answer is easy You know now that...I can use a Persona, allowing me access to...the TV world...
  2192.  
  2193. Naoto: As for the second... there's no great mystery...why I would come to Inaba I live here...
  2194.  
  2195. Mitsuru: You wouldn't happen to be acquainted...with Amagi and Hanamura...?
  2196.  
  2197. Naoto: You've met my senpai!?
  2198.  
  2199. Mitsuru: Your friends... I gather that you're comrades...who fought alongside each other during the...serial murder case last year...
  2200.  
  2201. Mitsuru: I assume you entered the TV together for...the same reason they did and found yourself...dragged into this mess as well
  2202.  
  2203. Whatever doubts I may have about them, it seems they're here because we dragged them into this
  2204.  
  2205. I'm not very comfortable with that...
  2206.  
  2207. Mitsuru: *sigh* If so, I must apologize to you...
  2208.  
  2209. Mitsuru: No doubt you already know, but the object...we seek has been brought to this world It's...most likely the cause of this disturbance...
  2210.  
  2211. Mitsuru: Whoever learned of this world's existence...must have thought it would be useful in...whatever they're scheming...
  2212.  
  2213. Naoto: You... apologizing to me...? Hrm...
  2214.  
  2215. Shirogane shrugs with a wry smile...
  2216.  
  2217. Naoto: Are you so sure you can trust me? You have...no guarantee that I'm telling the truth...
  2218.  
  2219. Naoto: And there's still the answer to your third...question to consider: I haven't yet told...you my true motives...
  2220.  
  2221. Mitsuru: Fair enough But if you're friends with Amagi...and Hanamura, I feel I can trust you Their...bonds with their friends are real...
  2222.  
  2223. Naoto: Perhaps I lied about that too...
  2224.  
  2225. Mitsuru: *chuckle* But then why would you bring...it up? No, you're no villain That's what...my intuition tells me...
  2226.  
  2227. Naoto: *sigh* You aren't at all the person I...thought you'd be...
  2228.  
  2229. Mitsuru: I'll take that as a compliment
  2230.  
  2231. His smile suggests that it was meant as one
  2232.  
  2233. It makes him look his age... or even younger
  2234.  
  2235. I can't help but smile myself at the idea that he's not exactly the hardened detective I'd imagined him to be...
  2236.  
  2237. Naoto: The Teddie who appeared on that monitor...is not our friend... he's an impostor...
  2238.  
  2239. Mitsuru: You have proof of this?
  2240.  
  2241. Naoto: I found the real Teddie...
  2242.  
  2243. Naoto: Our enemy can fog both our eyes and ears......It's possible they can make themselves...look like someone else...
  2244.  
  2245. Mitsuru: I see...
  2246.  
  2247. Naoto: But I still don't know why they chose to...take on Teddie's appearance
  2248.  
  2249. Upon hearing this, I sigh and close my eyes...
  2250.  
  2251. Mitsuru: It might be to make you all suffer... if they...led you to believe your friend betrayed you,...it would make this all the more painful...
  2252.  
  2253. Naoto: There's some truth to that But it seems too...simple a motive to warrant this elaborate...of a disturbance...
  2254.  
  2255. Mitsuru: ......
  2256.  
  2257. He's wrong If the motive is somehow connected to Labrys' memories, what had been incomprehensible becomes completely understandable
  2258.  
  2259. My conclusion must have shown through on my face, since Shirogane trails off in understanding
  2260.  
  2261. At that moment came something like a touch
  2262.  
  2263. It's a sensation I hadn't felt since entering this world, but I know this feeling...
  2264.  
  2265. It's the effect of being brushed by a Persona's informational support powers...
  2266.  
  2267. Naoto: This feeling... Rise-san! Rise-san, can you...hear me!?
  2268.  
  2269. Rise: Naoto-kun!? So you ended up here too...!
  2270.  
  2271. The voice that echoes is much like the voice I heard over the PA system, but it seems quite different
  2272.  
  2273. The announcements must have been part of the culprit's tricks...
  2274.  
  2275. This "Rise's" voice immediately turns quavery...
  2276.  
  2277. Rise: I'm so glad... Ever since this weird fake...Teddie kidnapped me, I've been all alone...The others are fighting each other, too...!
  2278.  
  2279. Naoto: It's all right Just calm down and tell me...where you are...
  2280.  
  2281. Rise: I think it's the Announcement Room... It's...kinda off, though There are these invisible...walls around and I can't get out...
  2282.  
  2283. Rise: The fake Teddie was watching me until a...moment ago, so I couldn't use my Persona
  2284.  
  2285. She seems to have been under the General's close watch, limiting her chances to use her Persona until now
  2286.  
  2287. As soon as the General stepped out for a moment, she seized the opportunity to contact Shirogane...
  2288.  
  2289. Mitsuru: You're in the Announcement Room now, yes?...I'm headed straight there, so stay put...
  2290.  
  2291. Rise: Huh? Wh-Who's that? Why can I hear your...voice, but not sense you?
  2292.  
  2293. She sounds extremely confused
  2294.  
  2295. I had temporarily forgotten that my equipment prevents me from being detected by Persona abilities to an extent
  2296.  
  2297. I prepared it after facing an enemy with similar powers once before
  2298.  
  2299. It works by making my presence difficult to detect unless they know me well and recognize my signature
  2300.  
  2301. Shirogane senses her confusion as well and introduces me to her
  2302.  
  2303. His introduction is accurate, yet concise I can see he's a first-rate detective...
  2304.  
  2305. Rise: Mitsuru Kirijo... Wait, Kirijo? Are you...THAT Kirijo?
  2306.  
  2307. Mitsuru: ...Yes, that's correct...
  2308.  
  2309. Rise: The CEO!?
  2310.  
  2311. Mitsuru: Not quite I am the founding family's--
  2312.  
  2313. Rise: You hired me for a commercial before!...Oh, crud, um... thank you very much for...your patronage!
  2314.  
  2315. Mitsuru: A commercial?
  2316.  
  2317. Rise: Oh, yes! Um, I'm Rise Kujikawa!
  2318.  
  2319. Rise: I'm a classmate of the others you met, but I'm...also kind of a starlet, and um... Ugh, it's...hard to explain!
  2320.  
  2321. Naoto: Rise-san... that can wait There's no knowing...when our adversary will return...
  2322.  
  2323. Rise: Urgh... all right...
  2324.  
  2325. Mitsuru: Kujikawa said that she was captured, but why...would they treat her differently?
  2326.  
  2327. Naoto: I suspect it was to block communication...If we could speak freely as we just did,...their whole scheme would collapse...
  2328.  
  2329. Naoto: Ah...! So that's why Teddie and Rise-san...were the hosts...
  2330.  
  2331. Mitsuru: What do you mean?
  2332.  
  2333. Naoto: The real Teddie has a similar power That's...why those two were taken separately...
  2334.  
  2335. Naoto: Not only that, but by acting as the two who...had disappeared, the enemy thought it...could portray them as traitors...
  2336.  
  2337. Naoto: ...Though it appears that Teddie managed...to escape on his own somehow...
  2338.  
  2339. Rise: How come I'm the only one fake Teddie is...watching over personally? Sheesh...
  2340.  
  2341. Naoto: You have the most powerful investigative...Persona They must have had to take greater...pains with you...
  2342.  
  2343. Rise: Hmm, I think we're keeping this going too...long We've exchanged what we know already,...so I'm going to shut down the comms link...
  2344.  
  2345. Rise: Be careful, you guys!
  2346.  
  2347. I face Shirogane once again...
  2348.  
  2349. Mitsuru: We are responsible for this case Rescuing...the ones who've been dragged into it is...part of our mission...
  2350.  
  2351. Mitsuru: Besides, she's another of your friends,...isn't she? All the more reason for me...to go save her
  2352.  
  2353. He makes a small gesture as if searching for the right words
  2354.  
  2355. After taking some time to make up his mind, he looks me in the eye once more...
  2356.  
  2357. Naoto: You're quite prepared for this... it would...be unfair of me not to tell you everything...
  2358.  
  2359. Naoto: Please hear me out The reason I came here...was to--
  2360.  
  2361. Mitsuru: Hah! You're a real straight arrow
  2362.  
  2363. I cut him off intentionally...
  2364.  
  2365. Mitsuru: You're very proud to be a detective, no?...I can see it in your eyes... you would...never sell out your beloved justice...
  2366.  
  2367. Mitsuru: If you've done nothing to be ashamed of,...that makes us even I haven't been entirely...forthright with you either...
  2368.  
  2369. Naoto: Kirijo-san...
  2370.  
  2371. Naoto: *chuckle* It seems I still have much to learn
  2372.  
  2373. Despite what I said, I can make an educated guess as to his motives
  2374.  
  2375. He's a Persona-user
  2376.  
  2377. That means the police selected as their observer someone with the potential
  2378.  
  2379. If his only task was to watch over the transfer, there'd be no need to send a Persona-user...
  2380.  
  2381. Leading me to believe that he's been asked to secretly spy on me, or my organization
  2382.  
  2383. But we have nothing to hide anymore
  2384. There are many things that shouldn't be made public, but I'm sure his judgement is sound...
  2385.  
  2386. Naoto: Well then... I will once again entrust my...friends' safety and the resolution of this...case to you...
  2387.  
  2388. Naoto: In honor of the bond we are forming,...Mitsuru Kirijo...
  2389.  
  2390. Mitsuru: I promise that I will not let you down
  2391.  
  2392. I smile back at him... and move on without looking back
  2393.  
  2394. I know that there is someone up ahead I must atone for
  2395.  
  2396. There is no hesitation in my steps
  2397.  
  2398. I reach the third floor
  2399.  
  2400. After turning a corner and going on for a while, it finally comes into view
  2401.  
  2402. The Announcement Room...
  2403.  
  2404. This is where Kujikawa is supposed to be...
  2405.  
  2406. Rise: Ah! Are you... Kirijo-san?
  2407.  
  2408. Girl in Uniform: Kirijo...?
  2409.  
  2410. As I open the door, two students greet me
  2411.  
  2412. One of them is the voice I heard through my Persona... Kujikawa, I presume
  2413.  
  2414. The other is a girl I didn't see on the video...
  2415.  
  2416. Rise: Hang tight, Miss President, we'll be okay...now that help's arrived!
  2417.  
  2418. Rise: Kirijo-san, this girl got dragged into this...mess too! We have to help her before that...General comes back...
  2419.  
  2420. Girl in Uniform: .........
  2421.  
  2422. Mitsuru: So you're Kujikawa Sorry... but I'll need you...to step back...
  2423.  
  2424. Rise: Huh?
  2425.  
  2426. I turn to face "Miss President"
  2427.  
  2428. Mitsuru: We meet at last... Astounding You really...do look human...
  2429.  
  2430. Mitsuru: But you're not, are you... Labrys
  2431.  
  2432. The girl jumps at hearing this
  2433.  
  2434. Kujikawa still looks unsure... but I can't drag her into this
  2435.  
  2436. I place myself between her and Labrys...
  2437.  
  2438. Rise: Huh? What do you mean she's not human...?...Isn't she a victim who got dropped...inside the TV?
  2439.  
  2440. Labrys being a "victim" is one way to see it
  2441.  
  2442. But if what I've learned thus far is accurate, then the one who set up this Grand Prix is most likely...
  2443.  
  2444. Mitsuru: Labrys... our records show that you were...loaded with special equipment...
  2445.  
  2446. Mitsuru: Undoubtedly a function that affects thoughts...and scrambles recognition... that's why we...saw and heard illusions whenever we fought...
  2447.  
  2448. Mitsuru: It would also explain General Teddie's...appearance and those who met you believing...you to be human...
  2449.  
  2450. Girl in Uniform: S-Special equipment...? Labrys...? What're...you talking about...?
  2451.  
  2452. Labrys' protestations of ignorance sounds as if she's in denial about something she already knows... it's tragic, hearing the desperation in her voice...
  2453.  
  2454. Mitsuru: I'm sure the reason why you captured two people...with analytical Personas wasn't just to keep...them from interfering with your designs...
  2455.  
  2456. Mitsuru: I came to a realization when I noticed I was...the only one who sensed that noise...
  2457.  
  2458. Mitsuru: An analytical Persona's searches clash with...your ability They dispel illusions......so you needed to confine them...
  2459.  
  2460. Mitsuru: You feared that if they caught you off guard and...used their Persona's ability, this would happen...
  2461.  
  2462. With that, I summon my Persona, Artemisia
  2463.  
  2464. Just as expected, noise immediately runs across Labrys' body
  2465.  
  2466. It's exactly the sensation I felt before each round in the tournament...
  2467.  
  2468. Artemisia cancels out the force scrambling our senses and the illusion begins to wear off
  2469.  
  2470. Little by little, the facade fades away...
  2471.  
  2472. And her true appearance emerges...
  2473.  
  2474. Girl in Uniform: No... what's goin' on...!?
  2475.  
  2476. Rise: This can't be...M
  2477.  
  2478. itsurumiWhat was your motive, Labrys...? Was it...revenge, in the end?
  2479.  
  2480. Labrys: I-I...
  2481.  
  2482. Mitsuru: I can understand why you'd hold a grudge...I caught glimpses of it on my way here...
  2483.  
  2484. Mitsuru: But your hatred should be centered on...the Kirijo Group Why drag innocent students...into your vendetta?
  2485.  
  2486. Labrys: Kirijo... Group...?
  2487.  
  2488. Labrys: No... I don't wanna remember...!...Never again...!
  2489.  
  2490. Rise: M-Miss President...!
  2491.  
  2492. Rise: Kirijo-san! She seems to be in a lot of pain!...I don't know exactly what's going on here,...but you can't push her any further...!
  2493.  
  2494. At that moment, Labrys grabs the equipment on her back that I had mistaken for wings
  2495.  
  2496. It suddenly separates and transforms into a giant battle axe that's larger than she is...
  2497.  
  2498. Rise: M-Miss President...!?
  2499.  
  2500. Mitsuru: Get back! Hurry!
  2501.  
  2502. Labrys approaches one step at a time, her axe at the ready
  2503.  
  2504. Her steps are halting, but she's moving with battle clearly in mind...
  2505.  
  2506. Mitsuru: The injunction against harming humans has...been removed...!? I see... no wonder she...was sealed away
  2507.  
  2508. Behind me, I hear Kujikawa pleading...
  2509.  
  2510. Rise: Is there no other choice but to fight!?
  2511.  
  2512. Mitsuru: I won't let you do any more damage,...Labrys It's me you want!
  2513.  
  2514. Labrys: Shut up, shut up! I... I ain't like that!
  2515.  
  2516. Labrys: I... I...
  2517.  
  2518. Labrys remains still I can hear her muttered denials
  2519.  
  2520. She didn't use a Persona, but it's possible that her mental instability prevented her from doing so
  2521.  
  2522. It might have been a blessing in disguise...
  2523.  
  2524. Mitsuru: I don't intend to turn a blind eye to the...sins committed against you... that is why...I must bring you back
  2525.  
  2526. Labrys is the mastermind...
  2527.  
  2528. Not only of this tournament, but maybe of the entire incident from the beginning
  2529.  
  2530. What if Labrys was never stolen, but instead escaped?
  2531.  
  2532. Considering her powers, is it possible that she deluded the ordinary human hijackers?
  2533.  
  2534. There's no knowing when Labrys regained her consciousness inside her cage
  2535.  
  2536. What if she hadn't awakened on opening it? What if she was already conscious inside there?
  2537.  
  2538. She had been sealed for roughly 13 years
  2539.  
  2540. More than enough time to formulate a plan...
  2541.  
  2542. Mitsuru: If that was indeed the case... it'd make more sense for this to be a plan devised by Labrys, rather than an unknown party suddenly stealing her away...
  2543.  
  2544. Mitsuru: I can't imagine how much resentment such...a small, artificial body could hold...
  2545.  
  2546. Mitsuru: A tragic mastermind, hm...?
  2547.  
  2548. Rise: Huh? Mastermind...?
  2549.  
  2550. Rise: You got it wrong, Kirijo-san!...That girl's not...
  2551.  
  2552. Kujikawa calls out from behind me
  2553.  
  2554. Just as she does so, I feel an imminent threat rushing toward my back...!
  2555.  
  2556. Mitsuru: What...!?
  2557.  
  2558. I turn around in surprise
  2559.  
  2560. It can't be...
  2561.  
  2562. General Teddie: Heeheehee, looks like you've saved me some...time while I was out running errands!
  2563.  
  2564. Mitsuru: Wha...!? You're...!
  2565.  
  2566. General Teddie gives an evil smirk...
  2567.  
  2568. Mitsuru: Ngh...!
  2569.  
  2570. An extremely powerful version of the noise, far worse than before, is everywhere around us
  2571.  
  2572. Kujikawa squats down while covering both her ears
  2573.  
  2574. It's all I can do to keep from falling to my own knees...
  2575.  
  2576. Mitsuru: What's going on...? This is Labrys'...interference pattern...!
  2577.  
  2578. General Teddie(?)slaMmhm, that's right...
  2579.  
  2580. General Teddie(?)slaAs thanks for cornering the real one......I'll show you something
  2581.  
  2582. The noise lifts once the mimicry is dispelled
  2583.  
  2584. But what it reveals is something I hadn't expected...
  2585.  
  2586. Mitsuru: Another Labrys...!?
  2587.  
  2588. Mitsuru: Why are there two of her!?
  2589.  
  2590. Shadow Labrys: I am a shadow, the true self...
  2591.  
  2592. Rise: It's Miss President's Shadow...!
  2593.  
  2594. Shadow Labrys: Haha... I'm taking the real one with me...I'll never let you catch me!
  2595.  
  2596. Labrys' double gives me a glare of pure malice before carrying off the original and fleeing the scene
  2597.  
  2598. I almost chase after her without thinking, but I stop myself and reconsider
  2599.  
  2600. That second Labrys... Who was that?
  2601.  
  2602. Everything I thought I knew has been overturned by this turn of events...
  2603.  
  2604. Mitsuru: What is she? You seemed to know...
  2605.  
  2606. Rise: First, tell me something... why was she...in so much pain?
  2607.  
  2608. Rise: What's all this about Labrys and weapons...?
  2609.  
  2610. Mitsuru: I'm sorry, but that's classified It's not...for civilian ears...
  2611.  
  2612. Rise: Then I won't tell you anything about her!
  2613.  
  2614. Rise: If you want what I know, you have to tell...me what you know first...
  2615.  
  2616. Mitsuru: ......
  2617.  
  2618. That may have sounded too much like I don't care if she's in pain...
  2619.  
  2620. It would be unreasonable to demand that she tells me everything she knows without offering something in return
  2621.  
  2622. And she's already seen Labrys' true form, so...
  2623.  
  2624. I give a small sigh...
  2625.  
  2626. Mitsuru: Well... I suppose you're involved now...
  2627.  
  2628. Mitsuru: All right... Her official name is...5th Generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon......codenamed "Labrys"
  2629.  
  2630. Mitsuru: She is an android weapon created by the...Kirijo Group years ago In order to use...Persona abilities, she was given a heart
  2631.  
  2632. "She's a machine!?"
  2633.  
  2634. Kujikawa's shocked expression conveys her thoughts as perfectly as if she'd spoken aloud...
  2635.  
  2636. Mitsuru: We couldn't let her run free; just look at...the trouble she's caused We came to retrieve...her and minimize any damages
  2637.  
  2638. I hold back no details in telling her of the cruel experiments she must have underwent during her development
  2639.  
  2640. Kujikawa takes it all in... and quietly sighs...
  2641.  
  2642. Rise: So when she said she didn't want to...remember... that's what that was about...
  2643.  
  2644. Mitsuru: .........
  2645.  
  2646. Rise: Hey, why didn't you listen to what she was...trying to say?
  2647.  
  2648. Rise: She said that she didn't want to remember,...but you kept pushing your demands on her...and making her feel bad...
  2649.  
  2650. Mitsuru: That's...
  2651.  
  2652. I pause, considering her accusation
  2653.  
  2654. She may be right
  2655.  
  2656. Indeed, I was so desperate to put an end to this case that I didn't listen to what Labrys had to say...
  2657.  
  2658. Rise: You gave her a heart because you needed her to...have one, and then kept treating her like that......No wonder she's in pain...
  2659.  
  2660. Tears stream from the girl's eyes
  2661.  
  2662. As angry as she is... she's crying for Labrys
  2663.  
  2664. Even after seeing her true mechanical form and learning that she is a weapon, Kujikawa has nothing but compassion for Labrys...
  2665.  
  2666. Mitsuru: Why are you siding with Labrys so much?
  2667.  
  2668. Rise: I heard her voice a few times It sounded...like... it was from her past...
  2669.  
  2670. Rise: She said she was forced to fight when she...didn't want to... that she was hurt and afraid...
  2671.  
  2672. I see... Kujikawa had also heard the "voice," just as I did, when she used her Persona
  2673.  
  2674. Kujikawa slowly tells me about what happened last year... the reasons why she came to Inaba
  2675.  
  2676. How due to her career as an idol, she was cut off from those who knew her for who she was, leaving her isolated
  2677.  
  2678. How when she had lost faith in everything, she met people who would believe in her, saving her life...
  2679.  
  2680. Mitsuru: Someone to believe in, hmm...?
  2681.  
  2682. Hearing that brought up again is a sore point for me...
  2683.  
  2684. Rise: She's... Miss President's Shadow
  2685.  
  2686. I tell Kujikawa the details I had previously said I couldn't reveal...
  2687.  
  2688. Mitsuru: Kujikawa...
  2689.  
  2690. Rise: The repressed desires you don't want to...admit... here, they take on a life of...their own...
  2691.  
  2692. Mitsuru: So that's why... then what's her ultimate...goal? Why did she take Labrys?
  2693.  
  2694. Rise: Shadows... they try to become real...
  2695.  
  2696. Rise: It confronts the original with weaknesses...to make them deny that the Shadow's part of...them... all so it can take their place...
  2697.  
  2698. Mitsuru: ...I see Then there's no time to lose...
  2699.  
  2700. Rise: Do you think you can save her? A Shadow...doesn't disappear until the original...person accepts it
  2701.  
  2702. That's why I must believe in her and support her
  2703.  
  2704. Even if it's left unsaid, I still understand Kujikawa's desire
  2705.  
  2706. I share it...Mitsuru: Kujikawa, let me amend my earlier statement...I didn't come here just to minimize the...damage I came to save everyone...
  2707.  
  2708. Mitsuru: Will you trust me on that?
  2709.  
  2710. Rise: ......
  2711. She looks into my eyes, and after wiping her face with a handkerchief, she nods slightly...
  2712.  
  2713. Rise: Make sure you listen to what Labrys wants to say...this time, okay?
  2714.  
  2715. Mitsuru: I fully intend to
  2716.  
  2717. Kujikawa smiles in embarrassment
  2718.  
  2719. She apologizes to me for taking such a spiteful tone
  2720.  
  2721. I can tell she's being honest and sincere
  2722.  
  2723. Kujikawa promises to cooperate as much as possible for Labrys' sake
  2724.  
  2725. I decide to have her contact her friends and pass on a simple explanation of the situation
  2726.  
  2727. She agrees, and adds that she'll try and contact Akihiko and Aigis as well
  2728.  
  2729. She seems to have already grasped how our safeguards against detection by Personas work...
  2730.  
  2731. Mitsuru: Speaking with you made me understand something...important Thank you for that...
  2732.  
  2733. Rise: Aheheh...
  2734.  
  2735. Mitsuru: *chuckle* It must be that smile of yours...that catches your audience's heartstrings...
  2736.  
  2737. Rise: Promise me, then! Make sure you come...back with her!
  2738.  
  2739. Spurred on by her words, I begin running to where I detect Labrys ought to be
  2740.  
  2741. ...Though I don't yet have a plan to save her
  2742.  
  2743. If I find her again and listen this time... will that truly be enough to save Labrys?
  2744.  
  2745. The invisible walls are still here, leading me to... the Music Room
  2746.  
  2747. According to the guide map, it should've been further away But just as with the Announcement Room, the layout of this version of the school is off...
  2748.  
  2749. Young Man in Uniformbc...Who are you?
  2750.  
  2751. Someone else is already inside He frowns upon seeing me
  2752.  
  2753. I recognize his face from the video
  2754.  
  2755. Hmm... if the walls are still here, does that mean the Grand Prix rules are still being enforced?
  2756.  
  2757. As a test, I hold a hand out to the space where I just entered the room...
  2758.  
  2759. Mitsuru: It seems we're locked in The rule...against proceeding without fighting...is still in effect...
  2760.  
  2761. Young Man in UniformbcAre you Kirijo-san, by any chance?...Rise got in touch with me...
  2762.  
  2763. Mitsuru: I am indeed Mitsuru Kirijo...
  2764.  
  2765. Mitsuru: As I recall, you were the Sister-Com--er,...no, your name was... Narukami...
  2766.  
  2767. Mitsuru: There doesn't seem to be anything scrambling...our senses... do you understand what I'm...saying?
  2768.  
  2769. I don't sense any noise, but it can't hurt to ask
  2770.  
  2771. He nods, showing that he understands the question...
  2772.  
  2773. Yu: Rise told me you were out to save..."Miss President"... Labrys, her name was?
  2774.  
  2775. Mitsuru: That's right But I must act swiftly There's...no noise here because our enemy thinks we'll...be hesitant to fight in our right minds...
  2776.  
  2777. Mitsuru: Would you mind conceding? I don't want to...drag you into this any further...
  2778.  
  2779. Yu: I understand... but I can't do it like that
  2780.  
  2781. Narukami gives a wry smile before his expression flattens again...
  2782.  
  2783. Yu: If the rules are still in effect, my friends...are still trapped... they still need someone...to rescue them...
  2784.  
  2785. Yu: I've fought battles I didn't want and taken...on a lot of responsibilities... which...includes saving Labrys, of course...
  2786.  
  2787. Yu: It's not that I don't believe you But I don't...think it's right to simply hand the burden...over to someone I just met...
  2788.  
  2789. Mitsuru: I see...
  2790.  
  2791. Yu: Sorry This must be frustrating to you...
  2792.  
  2793. Mitsuru: No, don't misunderstand me, I have no...objections I admire your willingness...
  2794.  
  2795. Mitsuru: With the final battle awaiting ahead,...perhaps it's best that the stronger of...us two should be the one to proceed
  2796.  
  2797. The atmosphere in the area changes Narukami senses it as well and readies his weapon
  2798.  
  2799. ...It's strange, but he reminds me of someone
  2800.  
  2801. Although his fighting stance, physique, and features are completely different...
  2802.  
  2803. He still reminds me of the one who saved us--the entire world...
  2804.  
  2805. Mitsuru: I like the look in your eyes... I will...test your resolve with my sword!
  2806.  
  2807. <BATTLE [vs YU]>
  2808.  
  2809. Mitsuru: I've won... I will move on
  2810.  
  2811. I hold out my hand to Narukami, who had collapsed on the floor, and help him up
  2812.  
  2813. Fortunately, I won the match
  2814.  
  2815. Although in fighting these people, I have come to see them in a new light...
  2816.  
  2817. Mitsuru: But first, I have something to ask you
  2818.  
  2819. In this world, to encounter another leads to an immediate win-or-lose situation
  2820.  
  2821. That's why I had intended to limit my interactions with others
  2822.  
  2823. All I felt regarding these students was regret for dragging them into this mess
  2824.  
  2825. But in order to be sure I can save Labrys, I feel that I'll need their help
  2826.  
  2827. Since they have more experience with this world, they're most likely closer to settling this...
  2828.  
  2829. Mitsuru: You said that you want to save Labrys, too...But you barely know her...
  2830.  
  2831. Mitsuru: She isn't human and has been through things...that aren't easy to understand... what were...you going to do for her when you found her?
  2832.  
  2833. Narukami quietly closes his eyes before answering...
  2834.  
  2835. Yu: ...Nothing in particular...
  2836.  
  2837. Yu: But I could have stood at her side,...at the very least...
  2838.  
  2839. Mitsuru: At her side...?
  2840.  
  2841. ...A number of things dawn on me with Narukami's words
  2842.  
  2843. Though I had resolved to fight by myself, I wasn't truly alone
  2844.  
  2845. I had family, and friends, who supported me
  2846.  
  2847. But Labrys was alone
  2848.  
  2849. She fought against the same units who shared her fate, and after escaping into this world, she had no one
  2850.  
  2851. I see...
  2852.  
  2853. I understand now
  2854.  
  2855. He politely underlined something important I had overlooked
  2856.  
  2857. He's not the first to show me a new perspective like this
  2858.  
  2859. This warm sensation that spreads within me...
  2860.  
  2861. I understand now... that's why Narukami reminded me of him...
  2862.  
  2863. Mitsuru: You really do remind me of an old friend...
  2864.  
  2865. Yu: I do?
  2866.  
  2867. Mitsuru: Yes... though he's more than just a friend...I owe my life to him...
  2868.  
  2869. I attempt to contact Kujikawa again When she responds, I give her another request
  2870.  
  2871. She eagerly agrees... and Narukami, who's listening in, nods in satisfaction...
  2872.  
  2873. Mitsuru: Well then, I'll be going now......to save Labrys
  2874.  
  2875. There is no hesitation now
  2876.  
  2877. I have seen what must be done
  2878.  
  2879. I must go forth to keep my promise with them
  2880.  
  2881. Labrys will be saved... I'm certain of that now
  2882.  
  2883. In order to pursue the escaped Shadow, I stop briefly and attempt to locate it with my Persona
  2884.  
  2885. It's on the move... but it's headed to the--Ah!
  2886.  
  2887. Mitsuru: Kujikawa, can you hear me!? The Shadow is...headed to the Announcement Room again...
  2888.  
  2889. Rise: I've already picked up on her and got out!
  2890.  
  2891. Rise: Also, I've managed to reach your friends...I was just talking to someone named Aigis...
  2892.  
  2893. Kujikawa says she's never tried to connect multiple people at once, but with a little practice, she's picked up the knack
  2894.  
  2895. Her Persona's support skills are advanced indeed
  2896.  
  2897. In contrast to my own inability to contact my friends against this noise without linking my Persona to the communicator, she easily located Akihiko and Aigis
  2898.  
  2899. Really, she's quite talented...
  2900.  
  2901. Mitsuru: Aigis, can you hear me? I need you to...keep Kujikawa safe...
  2902.  
  2903. Aigis: Understood
  2904.  
  2905. The Shadow's presence is nearby
  2906. I retrace my steps to the Announcement Room and throw open the door I'm ready to end this!
  2907.  
  2908. Shadow Labrys: My, my... you've come? Sorry, but you're...too late...
  2909.  
  2910. Shadow Labrys: You really helped me out, though You were...pretty hard on this girl, weren't you?
  2911.  
  2912. Labrys: I... I...
  2913.  
  2914. The expression drains from Labrys' face as she mutters angrily at herself
  2915.  
  2916. The Shadows must be hammering at Labrys' psyche in order to have Labrys deny herself...
  2917.  
  2918. Shadow Labrys: Look, "me" We've got a guest This human's...here to take us back...
  2919.  
  2920. Shadow Labrys: She'll never understand how we feel......A typical human!
  2921.  
  2922. Labrys: Stop...! Don't say any more!
  2923.  
  2924. Mitsuru: Labrys...!
  2925.  
  2926. I step between Labrys and her Shadow and draw my weapon
  2927. The Shadow looks at me and her face boils over with hatred...
  2928.  
  2929. Shadow Labrys: What's this all about? Oh, of course......It would be a problem if she were destroyed...while you were retrieving her, huh?
  2930.  
  2931. Labrys: Retrieve...!?
  2932.  
  2933. Labrys: No... this has got nothin' to do with me!
  2934.  
  2935. Shadow Labrys: How long are you going to lie to yourself!?...It's about time you faced reality!
  2936.  
  2937. Shadow Labrys: You want the everyday boys and girls to...experience what you had to go through...
  2938.  
  2939. Shadow Labrys: Right? That's why we're in a school,...having a fighting tournament...
  2940.  
  2941. Shadow Labrys: You want to see close friends fight for their...lives against each other... because if they...do that, then they might understand...
  2942.  
  2943. Shadow Labrys: You want to MAKE them understand...
  2944.  
  2945. Labrys: That ain't true...!
  2946.  
  2947. Shadow Labrys: But it didn't work Haha, Kirijo marched in...here and spoiled your fun...
  2948.  
  2949. Shadow Labrys: It's all right, though You don't have to...worry about that anymore I'll take care of...everything from here...
  2950.  
  2951. Shadow Labrys: I'll destroy anyone who doesn't understand...you and comes to get in your way... just like...you once did!
  2952.  
  2953. Labrys: No! No! That ain't what I want...!...You're...
  2954.  
  2955. The Shadow's smirk widens at Labrys' protestations...
  2956.  
  2957. Labrys: You're not me!
  2958.  
  2959. Mitsuru: Tch...!
  2960.  
  2961. Labrys' rejection seems to have crossed some line...
  2962.  
  2963. I can sense the Shadow's power rising dramatically in response to her words...Shadow
  2964.  
  2965. LabrysslaThat's right... I'm myself! I'm free! Even if...I'm a misunderstood machine...
  2966.  
  2967. Shadow Labrys: I'll escape from all this!
  2968.  
  2969. Mitsuru: It's gone berserk...
  2970.  
  2971. Mitsuru: But there still should be time I'll make...you settle down!
  2972.  
  2973. I support Labrys, who's slumped over, and make my intentions plain...
  2974.  
  2975. Shadow Labrys: What's with you, you hypocrite!? The way...you've been acting pisses me off!
  2976.  
  2977. Shadow Labrys: How can you be so kind to her!? No matter...what you do, it won't erase your sins!
  2978.  
  2979. Shadow Labrys: Tch, fine... since you're a Kirijo, why not...tell you exactly what your family did to me?...What they made me do!
  2980.  
  2981. The Shadow thrusts her weapon towards me as if sentencing me to judgement...
  2982.  
  2983. Shadow Labrys: Remember those spectating students? What did...you think those human-shaped silhouettes were?
  2984.  
  2985. Mitsuru: Hm...?
  2986.  
  2987. For a moment, her unexpected shift in topics catches me off guard...
  2988.  
  2989. Shadow Labrys: Those were Shadows, too... Shadows of the...prototypes you made her destroy!
  2990.  
  2991. Shadow Labrys: When they were destroyed, their information...was transferred to the victor What's left of their...hearts remains deep inside Labrys...
  2992.  
  2993. Shadow Labrys: That's right, they all had a "soul"... But because...they never fully developed, their Shadows helped...her play school after they separated from her...
  2994.  
  2995. Shadow Labrys: Do you see!? Those spectators you saw...everywhere were her sisters she had to...kill--at the Kirijo Group's orders!
  2996.  
  2997. I am at a loss for words
  2998.  
  2999. I can only stand there, speechless...
  3000.  
  3001. Shadow Labrys: I haven't forgotten! I'll never let their...memories or their pain go!
  3002.  
  3003. Shadow Labrys: I won't forgive anyone who tries to take...my freedom!
  3004.  
  3005. Her anger... it's justified
  3006.  
  3007. It's natural for her to hold a grudge after what we did to them...
  3008.  
  3009. Mitsuru: I acknowledge your anger and grief Setting...things right here is my way of atoning...
  3010.  
  3011. Mitsuru: This fight will release you from your curse,...once and for all!
  3012.  
  3013. <BATTLE [vs SHADOW LABRYS]>
  3014.  
  3015. After a fierce battle, the Shadow finally falls silent and stops resisting entirely
  3016.  
  3017. I go to elevate Labrys to help bring her around
  3018.  
  3019. When she regains consciousness, she looks at me with sorrow and resignation...
  3020.  
  3021. Labrys: Am I... gonna be alone again?
  3022.  
  3023. Labrys: What am I sayin', of course I am......After all I've done...
  3024.  
  3025. Mitsuru: No No one will lock you away, ever again...
  3026.  
  3027. Labrys: Huh...?
  3028.  
  3029. Mitsuru: I thought I had a firm grasp on things......but in the end, all I did was drive you...into a corner I'm sorry...
  3030.  
  3031. Labrys: Why... why's a Kirijo apologizing to...a machine? I mean, I...
  3032.  
  3033. Labrys: I hurt people... dragged 'em into my...own mess...
  3034.  
  3035. Labrys: I'm just like I was before... there ain't...no reason to forgive me!
  3036.  
  3037. Mitsuru: That is solely your opinion...
  3038.  
  3039. Labrys: ...Huh?
  3040.  
  3041. Mitsuru: Kujikawa, can you hear me?
  3042.  
  3043. Rise: Loud and clear!
  3044.  
  3045. Labrys: Is that... Rise-san?
  3046.  
  3047. Mitsuru: That's right, you've met her too And...
  3048.  
  3049. It seems Kujikawa accomplished what I asked of her earlier
  3050.  
  3051. I wanted her to use her Persona ability to connect the voices of her friends directly to Labrys
  3052.  
  3053. Some of them, I've met, while some I don't know at all
  3054.  
  3055. In truth, some of them may find it hard to forgive Labrys for dragging them into this, even after learning of her circumstances
  3056.  
  3057. But... I believe in them...
  3058.  
  3059. Kanji: Uhh... to tell the truth, I only saw you for...a second, so I ain't really sure what's...going on...
  3060.  
  3061. Kanji: But it seemed like you went through a lot...Anyway, hope things start lookin' up...
  3062.  
  3063. Yosuke: That's way too simple! Can't you think of...anything better to say!?
  3064.  
  3065. Kanji: Hey, it ain't simple at all! I know damn...well how tough it is to see a Shadow come...outta yourself...
  3066.  
  3067. Chie ceYeah We've all been through the same thing,...so we'd suck pretty bad if we didn't...forgive you...
  3068.  
  3069. Teddie kuYou caused me a lot of trouble! Buuuuut......it was still kinda fun! Kinda!
  3070.  
  3071. Mitsuru: ......
  3072.  
  3073. They know how to accept someone for who they are, regardless of her looks...
  3074.  
  3075. That's why even though Labrys is a machine, they will surely welcome her
  3076.  
  3077. I'm confident of it
  3078.  
  3079. And indeed...
  3080.  
  3081. They respond to Labrys with more warmth than I had thought...
  3082.  
  3083. Yukiko yuWhat we saw wasn't the whole picture, right?...That's just how our hearts are...
  3084.  
  3085. Naoto: I concur None of us can cast stones after...you've gone through the hardship of facing...your Shadow...
  3086.  
  3087. Yosuke: That aside, I'm just glad you're okay!
  3088.  
  3089. Yosuke: I was worried about you... I left you alone,...knowing you couldn't use a Persona...
  3090.  
  3091. Yu: Labrys... when you come back, we should talk...
  3092.  
  3093. Rise: Senpai's right! And not just us...
  3094.  
  3095. Aigis: Sister... can you hear me? I, too, would...like to talk with you...
  3096.  
  3097. Aigis: There's something I'd like to tell you...You may know it already, but still...
  3098.  
  3099. The voices chiming in are gentle, kind... and warm
  3100.  
  3101. I can't help but be touched as well
  3102.  
  3103. My words alone could not have accomplished this...
  3104.  
  3105. Labrys: You guys... why...? I...
  3106.  
  3107. Mitsuru: You are a machine, unlike us That is...undeniably true...
  3108.  
  3109. Mitsuru: There will be days to come when you are...tormented by solitude and caged by your...own weakness...
  3110.  
  3111. Mitsuru: But one thing will be very different...Starting today... you are not alone
  3112.  
  3113. Whether she's machine or human has no bearing on her suffering
  3114.  
  3115. To be crushed under the weight of despair, with seemingly no end to the pain, feeling that one cannot go on any longer...
  3116.  
  3117. I'm no stranger to those feelings myself
  3118.  
  3119. It was always someone else, such as friends and family, who saved me
  3120.  
  3121. But when you're alone, it's difficult to see a way out
  3122.  
  3123. You can't find it unless someone else shows you... That's when you learn the extraordinary power derived from one's relationships...
  3124.  
  3125. Mitsuru: Companionship is the greatest guide...In my mission here, I've come to be...reminded of that...
  3126.  
  3127. Mitsuru: We hope to become that guide for you as...well If you're not alone, you can stand...to face the most painful of truths...
  3128.  
  3129. Labrys: Face... the truth...
  3130.  
  3131. Labrys' gaze turns towards her own Shadow
  3132.  
  3133. There is no more fear in her eyes
  3134.  
  3135. She... understands now...
  3136.  
  3137. Labrys: I see... I get it now...
  3138.  
  3139. I watch over her as she stands up
  3140.  
  3141. No words pass between us, but I am here for her, and that may be enough...
  3142.  
  3143. Rise: Ah, Labrys and Kirijo-san!
  3144.  
  3145. Yosuke: Welcome back, you guys!
  3146.  
  3147. Together with Labrys, we head towards the rooftop, where there is supposedly an exit to the real world
  3148.  
  3149. A small crowd welcomes us on our arrival
  3150.  
  3151. Some of them I haven't yet met in person
  3152.  
  3153. If I recall correctly, the energetic girl with the short hair is Chie Satonaka
  3154.  
  3155. The well-built young man must be Kanji Tatsumi
  3156.  
  3157. And that must be the General--I mean, the real Teddie
  3158.  
  3159. His speech is no different from the impostor's, but in the absence of that evil demeanor, the real one is much more adorable
  3160.  
  3161. All the faces I saw on the video are here, with a smile on every one...
  3162.  
  3163. Chie: Whoa, you really are a robot! Hey, uh......can I touch you?
  3164.  
  3165. Naoto: Chie-san, that's a bit impolite It's hard...enough restraining myself already...!
  3166.  
  3167. Yukiko: Snrk... ahahaha! You said "restrain yourself"!
  3168.  
  3169. Labrys: Um, well...
  3170.  
  3171. I give Labrys an encouraging smile
  3172.  
  3173. She needn't be afraid to enter their circle
  3174.  
  3175. None of them are rejecting her, after all...
  3176.  
  3177. Labrys: I'm sorry I caused you guys trouble I, um...
  3178.  
  3179. KanjikaYeah, I wanna talk to you about that...That Grand Prix was you, right?
  3180.  
  3181. Labrys: Y-Yeah...
  3182.  
  3183. KanjikaIt wasn't a half bad idea! Fighting to...see who's the strongest man was awesome!
  3184.  
  3185. Labrys: Uh... what?
  3186.  
  3187. Teddie: Kanji's right! But you should have invited...me, too!
  3188.  
  3189. Labrys: S-Sorry?
  3190.  
  3191. Teddie: Ah ah ah! I won't forgive you until you...say, "I reaaaaally like you, you big...bear of a man," all sexy like that!
  3192.  
  3193. Yosuke: Guys! Stop making it even worse! Sorry we're...starting off like this...
  3194.  
  3195. Yu: In any case, I'm really glad you're all right...
  3196.  
  3197. Labrys: ...I got you to thank for that
  3198.  
  3199. They take very naturally to someone who isn't human...
  3200.  
  3201. Akihiko: Great job, Mitsuru But man... talk about...a rowdy bunch of students...
  3202.  
  3203. Aigis: Still, they are kind...
  3204.  
  3205. I look at Labrys, surrounded by new friends
  3206.  
  3207. I wish I could join them... but part of me would rather watch over them for now
  3208.  
  3209. And there are things I still need to consider...
  3210.  
  3211. Mitsuru: .........
  3212.  
  3213. Aigis: Is something the matter?
  3214.  
  3215. Mitsuru: I'm... not good at relying on others...
  3216.  
  3217. Mitsuru: My responsibilities are so heavy that I don't...even think of trusting others with them... I've...been told it before, but it never gets easy...
  3218.  
  3219. Aigis: Why not think of things more simply?
  3220.  
  3221. Mitsuru: Hm...?
  3222.  
  3223. Aigis: When something cannot be accomplished alone,...there is no other choice but to trust in...others to help...
  3224.  
  3225. Aigis: Good or bad, it is inevitable Then why...not accept it and move forward?
  3226.  
  3227. Aigis: You aren't alone either, after all
  3228.  
  3229. I can't keep myself from smiling at the truism I never would have come up with...
  3230.  
  3231. Mitsuru: *chuckle* You're right It's not difficult at...all when put that way... it's just as I...was saying about companionship being a guide
  3232.  
  3233. Indeed, I'm thankful for my friends
  3234.  
  3235. They say the things I cannot and take me outside myself with new perspectives
  3236.  
  3237. I'm sure that the same principle will save Labrys from straying from her path
  3238.  
  3239. Although...
  3240.  
  3241. I think again about the case
  3242.  
  3243. Now that Labrys is safe, there's another issue
  3244.  
  3245. The mastermind was not Labrys, but her Shadow
  3246.  
  3247. However, her Shadow emerged and began to act only after she entered the TV world
  3248.  
  3249. It's hard to reconcile that with Labrys taking the initiative to escape
  3250.  
  3251. Come to think of it, there's something else that can't be explained if we assume Labrys was behind everything...
  3252.  
  3253. Mitsuru: Was Labrys... truly the mastermind here?
  3254.  
  3255. Akihiko: Huh...? What're you getting at?
  3256.  
  3257. Mitsuru: Why did Labrys choose them? Where did Labrys...learn of them...?
  3258.  
  3259. It's the students of Yasogami High that trouble me...
  3260.  
  3261. I can't see why Labrys would have selected them
  3262.  
  3263. I thought they might have sensed the changes Labrys caused in this world on their own, but no
  3264.  
  3265. The video that brought them here called them by name
  3266.  
  3267. Not to mention that the Shadow took the appearance of "General Teddie" from the start
  3268.  
  3269. Neither would be possible unless she had identified them beforehand...
  3270.  
  3271. Mitsuru: Even we didn't know about them or about this...world inside the TV How did Labrys discover...all this?
  3272.  
  3273. Akihiko: Yeah... I can't explain it either
  3274.  
  3275. And I still have my doubts regarding the hijackers' mental state
  3276.  
  3277. Their memories were so muddled that they couldn't even explain themselves
  3278.  
  3279. Do Labrys' abilities extend that far?
  3280.  
  3281. The more I think about it, the more questions arise
  3282.  
  3283. There must be some larger plan at work here after all...
  3284.  
  3285. Akihiko: Well, the fastest way to find out is to...just ask her Hey, Labrys!
  3286.  
  3287. Mitsuru: Akihiko...
  3288.  
  3289. Akihiko's loud voice catches not only Labrys' attention, but the high schoolers' as well
  3290.  
  3291. I had hoped to keep them away from this, since they were innocent bystanders...
  3292.  
  3293. Akihiko seems not to notice my irritated glare...
  3294.  
  3295. Akihiko: When did you wake up? How did you find out...about the TV world?
  3296.  
  3297. Labrys: About... this place? Uh...
  3298.  
  3299. Labrys: .........!
  3300.  
  3301. Labrys abruptly stops moving, just before starting to convulse and taking a leap backwards
  3302.  
  3303. It happens so suddenly that even the students standing some distance away raise their voices in alarm...
  3304.  
  3305. Mitsuru: Labrys...!
  3306.  
  3307. Akihiko: Get back!
  3308.  
  3309. As soon as Akihiko cries out, Aigis runs toward the students to protect them
  3310.  
  3311. I keep a careful eye on Labrys, whose face has gone blank, and put some distance between us
  3312.  
  3313. My fears have been realized... Labrys reaches for the axe on her back and swings it without hesitation...
  3314.  
  3315. Aigis: Is she malfunctioning...? No! Someone's...hijacked her!
  3316.  
  3317. Mitsuru: What...?
  3318.  
  3319. If we're all here, the Shadow is defeated, and someone is still hijacking her, then...!
  3320.  
  3321. Mitsuru: I know you're there! Who are you!?...Show yourself!
  3322.  
  3323. I expected a response
  3324.  
  3325. But the source of my answer came as a shock...
  3326.  
  3327. Familiar VoicesmiShow myself...? Haha... how cold You treat...me as if I were a stranger...
  3328.  
  3329. Yosuke: That voice...
  3330.  
  3331. A pool of darkness emerges from one of the nearby shadows, forming...
  3332.  
  3333. Rise: No way... Kirijo-san's Shadow!?
  3334.  
  3335. It has my appearance, my face...
  3336.  
  3337. It's me in every way, save for the unnatural gleam in its golden eyes and the mocking expressions it makes...
  3338.  
  3339. Shadow Mitsuru: *chuckle* Do you not recognize your own...face? I... am you
  3340.  
  3341. Still... my heart is calm
  3342.  
  3343. In fact, her appearance may be giving me more clues as to the enemy's intentions...
  3344.  
  3345. Mitsuru: You seem to have a penchant for deception...Unfortunately, I already know that you're...the mastermind here...
  3346.  
  3347. Mitsuru: You were after Persona-users from the start...That's why you chose this school and tampered...with Labrys' memories...
  3348.  
  3349. Mitsuru: And you just demonstrated how you controlled...those hijackers...
  3350.  
  3351. Shadow Mitsuru(?): *chuckle* Hahahaha...! Very good No wonder...you managed to drive back a god once...
  3352.  
  3353. Shadow Mitsuru(?): Haha, yes... I want them even more now!
  3354.  
  3355. Naoto: You want "them"? Explain yourself...
  3356.  
  3357. Shadow Mitsuru(?): Personas and Shadows are one and the same...If I poison your hearts, I can recruit...
  3358.  
  3359. Shadows with unparalleled strength...
  3360.  
  3361. Yosuke: Wait, what? You mean... turn our...Personas back to Shadows?
  3362.  
  3363. Shadow Mitsuru(?): The heart is frail Its weaknesses are never...fully vanquished Given the opportunity,...it can betray you and return to darkness...
  3364.  
  3365. Shadow Mitsuru(?): This one's desire to make people suffer was...perfectly suited for such a plan...
  3366.  
  3367. Rise: Plan?
  3368.  
  3369. Yosuke: You caused all this to gather strong Shadows...?
  3370.  
  3371. Yu: Who are you!?
  3372.  
  3373. Malevolent Entity: Sadly, it seems things won't be going...according to plan this time But I'll make...use of what tools I have to the very end...
  3374.  
  3375. Malevolent Entity: This is my last chance... No, more like...a marvelous entertainment...
  3376.  
  3377. Malevolent Entity: Stand, my puppet
  3378.  
  3379. The Shadow ignores my taunts and raises its right hand toward Labrys, still collapsed on the ground
  3380.  
  3381. Labrys reacts to the gesture by rising up
  3382.  
  3383. Like a puppet with no will of its own...
  3384.  
  3385. Mitsuru: You bastard...!
  3386.  
  3387. Malevolent Entity: This form is exhausted from constant battle...and will be useless as an asset...
  3388.  
  3389. Malevolent Entity: But unless you destroy it, it will keep rising...up and attacking you all... What will you do?
  3390.  
  3391. Labrys obeys the Shadow's command and leaps forward to attack!
  3392.  
  3393. It seems the enemy will do anything to rattle us
  3394.  
  3395. I understood that...
  3396.  
  3397. But understanding it and forgiving it are two different things!
  3398.  
  3399. Akihiko: Tch... we'll just knock her out one more time...
  3400.  
  3401. Mitsuru: No, don't attack her! Further damage to...Labrys could put her in danger...
  3402.  
  3403. Chie: But... c'mon! She's all over us--aagh!
  3404.  
  3405. Malevolent Entity: Now... may you suffer and curse your fate!...Relinquish your Personas!
  3406.  
  3407. At that moment, I hear a voice whisper in my mind...
  3408.  
  3409. Mitsuru: Hm...!?
  3410.  
  3411. I stop in spite of myself I know this voice well...
  3412.  
  3413. Relief washes over me to hear it
  3414.  
  3415. This match will end in our victory...
  3416.  
  3417. I call to everyone assembled...
  3418.  
  3419. Mitsuru: Don't listen! Everyone, concentrate on...avoiding her attacks!
  3420.  
  3421. Yukiko: B-But... we can't do that forever...!
  3422.  
  3423. Mitsuru: Just try and hang in there! Trust me......I trust in you!
  3424.  
  3425. I realize that this is an impossible demand
  3426.  
  3427. Everyone is already exhausted by what's come before...
  3428.  
  3429. Still... I need to buy time
  3430.  
  3431. Surprisingly, the first to nod is neither Akihiko nor Aigis...
  3432.  
  3433. Yu: Everyone... we can take this much!...Yosuke, you ready?
  3434.  
  3435. Yosuke: Hell yeah, partner! Let's let Mitsuru-san...do her thing!
  3436.  
  3437. Hanamura and the others recover from their confusion at once when Narukami speaks
  3438.  
  3439. ...Interesting He seems to be a great leader...
  3440.  
  3441. Mitsuru: Akihiko, Aigis! Back them up!
  3442.  
  3443. Akihiko: You got it...
  3444.  
  3445. Aigis: No one will force my sister to hurt others,...ever again!
  3446.  
  3447. Malevolent Entity: Haha... you had best hurry and decide...Who will be destroyed? This shell,...or the lot of you!?
  3448.  
  3449. The Shadow laughs triumphantly to see us driven against a wall
  3450.  
  3451. She's acting like a god... but she's much too short-sighted for that
  3452.  
  3453. I sense what I've been waiting for
  3454.  
  3455. ...We've bought enough time...
  3456.  
  3457. Mitsuru: Sad to say, but... this show is over...
  3458.  
  3459. Malevolent Entity: What...?
  3460.  
  3461. Labrys: Ngh...!
  3462.  
  3463. Labrys comes to a halt... and is released from the Shadow's control
  3464.  
  3465. She must have been forced to exceed her limits, for she falls to the floor as if her strings had been cut
  3466.  
  3467. We didn't attack her at all, yet she's left unable to so much as break her fall...
  3468.  
  3469. A chill goes down my spine to imagine what could have happened if we'd fought her at our full strength...
  3470.  
  3471. Mitsuru: Looks like you made it in the nick of time......You saved us, Yamagishi...
  3472.  
  3473. Fuuka: Are you all okay!?
  3474.  
  3475. Aigis: Fuuka-san!
  3476.  
  3477. Akihiko: Ha... so you had a third assistant...
  3478.  
  3479. Rise: That voice... it's not coming from in here...Whoever it is is out there!
  3480.  
  3481. Yosuke: Seriously!? She can use hers in reality too!?
  3482.  
  3483. She responded at the perfect moment to my earlier phone call asking her to come at once
  3484.  
  3485. Yamagishi had a bit of initial difficulty dealing with a world so alien to her, but she adjusted quickly enough
  3486.  
  3487. Though she's far away, I can sense that we're under her protection...
  3488.  
  3489. Fuuka: It's just as you thought, Mitsuru-senpai...The enemy is only mimicking your...appearance... it's a fake!
  3490.  
  3491. Malevolent Entity: Very impressive to guess correctly from...such a long distance away...
  3492.  
  3493. Malevolent Entity: So these are the limits of a half-broken...puppet... well, no matter This was only...ever for my own enjoyment...
  3494.  
  3495. Mitsuru: You despicable monster...!
  3496.  
  3497. Malevolent Entity: I didn't expect you to fight back this hard,...but didn't you have fun?
  3498.  
  3499. Malevolent Entity: You were all taken in by an illusion This...place, these traps, everything came from your...own minds You dread yourselves most of all...
  3500.  
  3501. Malevolent Entity: Haha... a beautiful plan, wasn't it?
  3502.  
  3503. Mitsuru: Your idea of beauty is rather warped...As is your plan and your assessment of us...
  3504.  
  3505. Mitsuru: But your biggest mistake was that you...took my form in the end
  3506.  
  3507. I take a step forward
  3508.  
  3509. Seeing this, Akihiko and Aigis... take a step back
  3510.  
  3511. They know me well
  3512.  
  3513. They can see the signs of the anger boiling within me...
  3514.  
  3515. Malevolent Entity: Haha, are you angry? All right I'll play...along The show must go on, right?
  3516.  
  3517. Mitsuru: Don't say another word while wearing that face!...I'll teach you just who it is you've made...an enemy of!
  3518.  
  3519. <Battle [vs MALEVOLENT ENTITY-SHADOW MITSURU]>
  3520.  
  3521. Mitsuru: ...Check...
  3522.  
  3523. Malevolent Entity: Hahaha... this is fine with me...
  3524.  
  3525. Malevolent Entity: Good enough for my purposes that I confirmed...you have enough power to meet my expectations
  3526.  
  3527. The Shadow laughs, as if defeat mattered to it not at all...
  3528.  
  3529. Malevolent Entity: This is only a temporary form...
  3530.  
  3531. Malevolent Entity: I doubted there'd be any meaning in changing...my appearance, but sure enough, it made for...a very enjoyable game...
  3532.  
  3533. Malevolent Entity: All that irritates me is having to feign...cooperation with that foolish human until...I obtain the one true vessel...
  3534.  
  3535. "Foolish human"...?
  3536.  
  3537. Malevolent Entity: I will see you in another guise next time...Just wait until then...
  3538.  
  3539. Mitsuru: The real you will face the same consequences...soon Choose your last words carefully...
  3540.  
  3541. Malevolent Entity: *chuckle* Ahahahaha...
  3542.  
  3543. Its laugh echoes throughout the room as the Shadow borrowing my form disappears into thin air...
  3544.  
  3545. Mitsuru: Yamagishi!
  3546.  
  3547. Fuuka: The reading disappeared It didn't move,...it just... vanished What could this mean...?
  3548.  
  3549. Akihiko: Tch... back to square one again...
  3550.  
  3551. Yu: "Another guise," huh...?
  3552.  
  3553. Chie: Don't even think about coming around...here again!
  3554.  
  3555. Naoto: What are we up against? Our enemy seems...to be targeting Persona-users...
  3556.  
  3557. It seems that not even they know who the enemy is
  3558.  
  3559. Though I didn't expect they would
  3560.  
  3561. The enemy had extensive knowledge of Labrys--something even I didn't have
  3562.  
  3563. There's no denying it... Whoever did this is well-versed in the Kirijo Group's internal workings
  3564.  
  3565. Gathering powerful Shadows... now we know the enemy's general aim, but what do they plan to do with them?
  3566.  
  3567. None of that matters at the moment, I suppose
  3568.  
  3569. I signal to Akihiko
  3570.  
  3571. Akihiko catches it and turns towards the students...
  3572.  
  3573. Akihiko: Don't worry about it We'll handle things...from here...
  3574.  
  3575. Yosuke: Wait, but it kinda said it was still...after us...
  3576.  
  3577. Mitsuru: Of course, you should be aware that the enemy...is out there Akihiko only means that there's...no need to abandon your lives to pursue it...
  3578.  
  3579. Mitsuru: We will do our best to ensure that no harm...comes to you That is, after all, our duty...
  3580.  
  3581. Yosuke: But...!
  3582.  
  3583. I don't expect them to like my answer
  3584.  
  3585. But the reason I started the Shadow Operatives is to protect people from these things
  3586.  
  3587. The students... they're still young
  3588.  
  3589. Granting my permission would only mean them becoming more inexorably involved
  3590.  
  3591. We should be the ones to take responsibililty...
  3592.  
  3593. Yu: ...Guys, let's leave this to them...
  3594.  
  3595. Chie: Yu-kun!?
  3596.  
  3597. Yosuke: Are you serious!?
  3598.  
  3599. Yu: They're right that we need to go back for now...We're all at our limit
  3600.  
  3601. When Narukami signals to him, Hanamura's complaints fall suspiciously silent
  3602.  
  3603. ...That hardly fooled anyone
  3604.  
  3605. Either they take me for a imbecile, or think it won't matter even if I do catch on...
  3606.  
  3607. Mitsuru: Ha...
  3608.  
  3609. I suppose I can live with it
  3610.  
  3611. If they are that determined, I am no one to dissuade them
  3612.  
  3613. We'll have to take care of everything before they can involve themselves, that's all
  3614.  
  3615. Teddie jumps around, his footsteps sounding highly unnatural, to catch our attention...
  3616.  
  3617. Teddie: Alrighty! Attention, please! The trip doesn't...end until we get out of the TV...
  3618.  
  3619. Yosuke: Dude... We were in the middle of a conversation!
  3620.  
  3621. Akihiko: What're you doing with this ancient TV?...Hang on... where'd you even get this?
  3622.  
  3623. Teddie: It's a Teddie-vision! You can get out...from here!
  3624.  
  3625. They exchange banter, as if the recent problems are already long past
  3626.  
  3627. It's so that they can continue to be so carefree that we must fight...
  3628.  
  3629. Moreover...
  3630.  
  3631. Mitsuru: How's Labrys?
  3632.  
  3633. Aigis: There wasn't much damage to her motor...functions I don't believe it will take...much time to repair her...
  3634.  
  3635. Aigis: Still, the stress on her cognitive functions...must have been severe It may take some...time for her to awaken
  3636.  
  3637. Aigis gazes sadly at Labrys' unmoving form in her arms
  3638.  
  3639. ...We must also fight to prevent anyone else from being hurt like these two
  3640.  
  3641. This case is over for the time being
  3642.  
  3643. It's time to say our farewells to this world
  3644.  
  3645. But a newfound resolve to fight is surging within me
  3646.  
  3647. Even after we return to the real world, there is no rest for the weary
  3648.  
  3649. After-action reports on the case, investigating leads on the culprit... there's a mountain of things to do...
  3650.  
  3651. Aigis: Here you go, Mitsuru-san...
  3652.  
  3653. Mitsuru: Ah, thank you
  3654.  
  3655. After issuing instructions, I'm ready to take a break when Aigis serves me a cup of tea with perfect timing
  3656.  
  3657. The fresh scent of Darjeeling... I take a moment to savor the mellow aroma of muscat
  3658.  
  3659. That's right, spring is nearly over...
  3660.  
  3661. I feel like I can barely keep track of the seasons anymore...
  3662.  
  3663. Mitsuru: We will be leaving Inaba tomorrow Keep that...in mind when making preparations...
  3664.  
  3665. Aigis: Understood
  3666.  
  3667. We're rather limited here in this hotel room
  3668.  
  3669. Originally, I had intended to return today... but we're all so tired that we had to stay the night
  3670.  
  3671. There is also Labrys' condition to consider...
  3672.  
  3673. Still mulling it all over, I hear a knock at the door...
  3674.  
  3675. Fuuka: It's me, Fuuka...
  3676.  
  3677. Mitsuru: Come in...
  3678.  
  3679. Mitsuru: I'm sorry I had to summon you on such...short notice...
  3680.  
  3681. Fuuka: Oh no, it's all right I was on vacation too,...after all...
  3682.  
  3683. Mitsuru: How is Labrys?
  3684.  
  3685. Fuuka: She's still resting There was a lot of stress...on her, so we might have to carry her out...
  3686.  
  3687. Mitsuru: I see...
  3688.  
  3689. Yamagishi takes a nearby chair There's weariness in her eyes...
  3690.  
  3691. Fuuka: I looked into the records... Labrys was...built on a self-contradicting foundation...
  3692.  
  3693. Aigis: Self-contradicting?
  3694.  
  3695. Fuuka: Unlike with Aigis, when Labrys was being...developed, no one had the know-how to...create a personality from scratch...
  3696.  
  3697. Fuuka: So... it seems like they took an actual...girl's personality and used it as a base...
  3698.  
  3699. Mitsuru: A living girl... so that's why her heart...is unexpectedly advanced
  3700.  
  3701. Yamagishi nods...
  3702.  
  3703. Fuuka: But if she had all of the original girl's...memories, a contradiction would occur in...her self-awareness...
  3704.  
  3705. Fuuka: Normally, they'd make adjustments to prevent...that, but even then, they couldn't guarantee...it would be completely safe...
  3706.  
  3707. Fuuka: That's why Labrys was loaded with a self-...deceiving function, in case a conflict arose...in her self-awareness...
  3708.  
  3709. Aigis: She was deceiving herself? Then the function...that interfered with our perception...
  3710.  
  3711. Fuuka: It was listed as meant for infiltration, but...that was a technicality Its true purpose...was a safety mechanism
  3712.  
  3713. She was given a heart presupposing that it would cause conflicts with her self-awareness...
  3714.  
  3715. I silently beg the heavens for forgiveness at the cruelty and injustice performed upon her...
  3716.  
  3717. Labrys: I... think that should be okay now
  3718.  
  3719. A hesitant voice comes from outside...
  3720.  
  3721. Fuuka: Labrys! When did you get here...?
  3722.  
  3723. Labrys: Sorry to sneak up on you...
  3724.  
  3725. Labrys: But after I faced my Shadow and learned how...to use my Persona...
  3726.  
  3727. Labrys: It's hard to explain... but it felt like my...emotions settled down...
  3728.  
  3729. Fuuka: Actually, that may be what happened...Facing one's Shadow could be said to be...correcting one's self-awareness...
  3730.  
  3731. Mitsuru: That must be it Your developers came to...the decision that it was an insurmountable...problem... yet you overcame it
  3732.  
  3733. I approach Labrys and stroke her head
  3734.  
  3735. She fidgets, her eyes cast slightly downward...
  3736.  
  3737. Mitsuru: How do you feel? Does anything seem off?
  3738.  
  3739. Labrys: Oh, no! You guys have treated me...so well, I feel kinda guilty about it...
  3740.  
  3741. Labrys: My body's all fixed up, too, so there...shouldn't be any problems there...
  3742.  
  3743. Mitsuru: I see...
  3744.  
  3745. Labrys' expression seems gentle
  3746.  
  3747. She appears to be mentally stable
  3748.  
  3749. I doubt there's any danger of her losing control again...
  3750.  
  3751. Mitsuru: I wanted to talk to you about where we...go from here...
  3752.  
  3753. Labrys: From here...? You mean, about me?
  3754.  
  3755. Mitsuru: Originally, we planned to take you back to...the lab on Yakushima But that was when we...still thought of you as a mere object...
  3756.  
  3757. Mitsuru: Is that what you want to happen?
  3758.  
  3759. Labrys: Um... what else is there?
  3760.  
  3761. Fuuka: You could tell us what you yourself want...You do have a heart, just like us...
  3762.  
  3763. Fuuka: Who knows, maybe you could even go to...school eventually...
  3764.  
  3765. Labrys: Me? Go to school...!?
  3766.  
  3767. Mitsuru: Even Aigis has been to school, and that was...when she knew much less about the world...than you know now...
  3768.  
  3769. Aigis: Thinking back to that time, is, er......It's rather embarrassing...
  3770.  
  3771. Labrys: ......
  3772.  
  3773. Surprisingly, Labrys falls silent in thought
  3774.  
  3775. To live a life no different than anyone else's...
  3776.  
  3777. That must be exactly what she wants
  3778.  
  3779. Should I tell her there's no need to worry about living expenses? No, best to wait for her decision
  3780.  
  3781. She should be the one to decide on her future
  3782.  
  3783. After a long silence, Labrys speaks again...
  3784.  
  3785. Labrys: School... it sounds great... but I feel...like there's something I gotta do first...
  3786.  
  3787. Mitsuru: Hm...?Labrys: I mean, yeah, it's been my dream for a long...time to go to school...
  3788.  
  3789. Labrys: But... someone's after those guys...Someone's trying to wreck their lives...
  3790.  
  3791. Labrys: I wanna catch whoever it is myself...I... I wanna look after those guys
  3792.  
  3793. Rather than being with then, she chose to protect them
  3794.  
  3795. It's... a beautifully selfless decision
  3796.  
  3797. She thought for herself and chose her own path
  3798.  
  3799. I see no reason to deny her that...
  3800.  
  3801. Mitsuru: The Security Department, Shadow Response Unit...would be glad to have you Welcome to the...team, Labrys
  3802.  
  3803. I extend a hand
  3804.  
  3805. If she takes it, she'll be putting ordinary life on hold for a while
  3806.  
  3807. I know she understands that... but she takes it anyway...
  3808.  
  3809. Aigis: I get to work with you, Sister!
  3810.  
  3811. Labrys: A-Aigis...!?
  3812.  
  3813. Aigis: That reminds me... I am your younger sister,...but I am more experienced than you... This may...be somewhat confusing
  3814.  
  3815. Though the two sisters are a bit awkward around each other now, a new bond will form there as well
  3816.  
  3817. Labrys made her own choice not to live an ordinary life
  3818.  
  3819. You could say that she is truly facing herself
  3820.  
  3821. She'll be all right... Seeing the two of them together makes me sure of it...
  3822.  
  3823. Aigis: I'll give you a tour of the lab tomorrow...Make sure you're ready to write things down...
  3824.  
  3825. Labrys: T-Tomorrow...!? We're leavin' Inaba already!?
  3826.  
  3827. Labrys: I... haven't even said goodbye I can't leave...without seein' em one more time...
  3828.  
  3829. Fuuka: *chuckle* That's good to hear It means...you've made some friends...
  3830.  
  3831. Labrys: Friends...
  3832.  
  3833. I turn to Aigis...
  3834.  
  3835. Mitsuru: Aigis, get in contact with them by whatever...means you deem necessary...
  3836.  
  3837. Aigis: Understood!
  3838.  
  3839. Aigis: Hmm, how should I contact them? I only know...their names...
  3840.  
  3841. Mitsuru: Mm... Yamagishi, your usual method should...prove effective once again...
  3842.  
  3843. Fuuka: Huh!? Um, but, isn't that invading...their privacy...?
  3844.  
  3845. Mitsuru: Permission granted Remember... we have...official sanction to operate now
  3846.  
  3847. And after how they acted when we were parting, we'll definitely need their contact information
  3848.  
  3849. They won't sit quietly by--of that I'm sure
  3850.  
  3851. This matter is still open, after all
  3852.  
  3853. The mystery remains unsolved and there are still worries nagging at me
  3854.  
  3855. But that's not the only legacy of this case...
  3856.  
  3857. Labrys: I'll help look 'em up too!
  3858.  
  3859. Labrys breaks into a smile and takes Aigis' side at the computer
  3860.  
  3861. The bonds that gave her that smile... they will light our unseen path
  3862.  
  3863. There's no knowing yet where this case might lead
  3864.  
  3865. But the day that we stop in our tracks, too afraid to continue, will never come
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