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Akane no Mai - Book I



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Ford1114

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Hello everyone. I am a returning user that first came to these forums back around 2011 - 12. It's been a while, especially with KHIII already out and us celebrating its release alongside what comes next in the franchise.

Anyway with getting active, I decide to promote a consolidated story written by an author named Kanius. It's a crossover of Persona 5/Royal and Code Vein, with guest appearances of Nioh and Kakegurui. I am the main contributor of the author of helping a lot of concepts and spreading this story to other places. The story will consist of three books/arcs. As of this forum, it starts of with the first arc with subsequent chapters that follow.

Here is the prologue below that'll lead to the first book for first impressions. Enjoy. Besides that, here is the link of fanfiction.net of the story/prologue: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13538181/1/Akane-no-Mai

Prologue: The Wormhole

Walking out of a ruined city devastated by disaster long ago, five individuals forged a trek toward a new destination. After completing a previous mission to ensure their kind’s survival, the group traveled to communicate with outside sources and investigate matters regarding abominations referred to as ‘the horrors’.

With this being the first time beyond their home’s boundaries, this group maintained vigilance with their new surroundings.

The colors of their locality were bright as light but dull like grime. There was not a hint of activity from any other person or creature.

Eyes scanned the arid and desolate surroundings free of most foliage with only ruined infrastructures, a reminder of a former civilization in the distant past. Poking out from the terrain are tall obelisks shaped like massive spikes with trims of golden yellow crystals around them.

Ears picked up on any sudden sounds that could deem a potential threat. The rancid stench of the dirty air and the scent of rotten carrion filled their sensitive nostrils. Their tongues tasted the same scent from the rotting meat.

Despite their vigilance, the five individuals pressed forward without reservation. Their reservation checked out once they left their dwelling.

Of the five individuals, three are male and the other two are female. Save for one, they each carried with them individual, specialized weapons to defend themselves.

The leader, a youthful man with an unkempt brown hairstyle, eyed his compatriots.

On the man’s right is a youthful male. He has dark brown hair in an unkempt style and locks of hair covering the right eye, and from a distance the hair color could appear to be black.

Walking behind the leader is a taller man with red hair placed in a small ponytail and bangs covering the sides of his face.

On the leader’s left, the fourth member is one of the two females, a short woman with blonde hair tied into pigtails and a tall black wool papakha hat.

Also on his left with the short blonde is the other female. Her hair is tangerine-colored and tied in a single ponytail, contrasting the blonde’s twin-tailed hairstyle. Of the five, only the tangerine-haired woman carried no weapon, but instead a massive army green traveler’s bag that was hilariously thrice the size and weight of her lightweight body.

Just then, a dreadful presence filled the air around them. There was not a person or a thing to be seen in the vicinity.

In response to the imminent threat, their eyes instinctively flared bright red. Their teeth clenched hard and their urge to kill escalated.

Drawing out his sword, the leader faced the other way with his four colleagues on their guards. The woman carrying the large bag couldn’t grab her weapon inside the bag in time, leaving her wide open for something to ambush them. The young woman’s face transformed into a look of trepidation when two creatures rushed steadfast to attack them.

When the leader desperately rushed over to guard the tangerine-haired woman, the short blonde intercepted one of the creatures with a long bayonet. As her eyes turned red, a look of ferocity formed on her features. The blonde then went face to face with a creature they’ve encountered on their previous travels.

In front of her and the others is a dark clothed, black spiky-haired humanoid wearing what resembled a gas chamber mask. It wore dark torn garments over its lanky body frame.

Attacking the blonde woman with an ax, it went for another devastating strike, but the tall, red-haired man swiftly ran over and stabbed the malformed abomination’s side with a two-handed sword.

Suddenly, another creature jumped out from a crevice between a large obelisk and a ruined infrastructure barrier. With murderous intent on its frenzied mind, the creature charged at the leader. The other brown-haired man interceded the creature’s attack and stopped it with a sword.

Now in front of the leader and his sword-wielding compatriot is a tall, bipedal gray-skinned humanoid with a long, shapely anteater-shaped snout. The creature attacked with a sword that was countered by the young man’s blade.

Just then, two more similar gas mask-wearing creatures came running out of a ruined building. Both individually brandished a hammer and a sword. Two other gray anteater-nosed humanoids rushed toward the group. The two creatures carried axes.

In response to these dangers intent on killing them, the red eyes of the individuals burned bright red. Metal masks mystically formed over their mouths. They then launched a quick counterattack against their unearthly enemies.

With his two-handed sword, the red-haired man slashed through the first gas-masked creature, dismembering and severing off its right arm. With a fast sword swing, he decapitated the creature.

The blonde woman shoved her bayonet through an ax-wielding anteater humanoid’s torso. Quickly taking out her bayonet, she unleashed lightning fast slashes and cut the creature up into gory pieces. When the other ax-wielding anteater humanoid rushed her from behind, a flicker of dark red light formed from the blonde woman’s back. From the red light, a long metal tail impaled through the creature’s body. Then, a sword quickly shoved through the creature’s chest. The blonde saw the tangerine-haired woman behind the monstrosity. Pulling out what resembled a Japanese greatsword, the young woman slew the abomination.

Before dispatching the first gas-masked creature, the brown-haired man slit its throat with his sword. The two other gas-masked beasts headed him and the leader off.

Taking an immediate stance against the threats, the leader rushed the two brutes. When meeting the gas-masked creatures head-on, his eyes intensely glowed red. He quickly produced another sword, granting himself dual swords to fight them. He rushed the two creatures, cutting off the head of one and bisecting the other’s torso, leaving them to collapse in a bloody heap.

After dispatching the creatures, the slain bodies dissolved into black dust.

The group huddled together to regroup and collect their belongings. They mused on where these surviving creatures came from, believing they already eradicated the last of them.

These were not the ‘horrors’ described to them. These misshapen humanoids were merely the standard monsters they’ve been used to fighting against.

When the tangerine-haired girl reached for her giant bag, the leader offered her a helping hand.

Then, a bright flash of red light exploded and blinded all but the leader, who had his back facing the light. Quickly turning his head, the leader felt his body being pulled on its own into the mouth of a white distortion hole. He desperately tried grabbing onto rocks and his nearest surroundings to hold himself in place.

When the others regained their bearings, they witnessed their leader being pulled into a distortion of unknown origin. The young man with the sword jumped forward and grabbed his friend’s hand. For a moment, he had a firm grip on the leader’s hand, but the force of the portal pulled the leader into it. The others reached for him, but their efforts were in absolute vain when the force of the portal sucked their leader inside, who vanished from their sight.

When the portal closed, the group was left distraught with the loss of their friend. The young man, cursing himself for failing to save their colleague, screamed out his friend’s name. The others did the same, but their pleas couldn’t bring him back.

They were left without their compatriot to continue their harrowing trek.

As for the leader, he was on his way to another world, one unlike the one he was leaving behind.
 

Ford1114

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Book I: Fellowship Forged by Code

Chapter I
: Homecomings

Who knew coming back to Yongen-Jaya would be this exciting? How long has it been almost three years? Time has gone by, hasn’t it? I remember the exact day I came here after being wrongly accused of saving a woman’s life from an abusive man.

Oh, by the way, my name is Amamiya Ren.

Anyway, I came to Yongen-Jaya to serve a year’s probation after being sued and wrongly accused by the abuser. I was sent to live in Café Leblanc under Sakura Sojiro’s supervision. He, like other adults of the time who only went by hearsay about my ‘criminal’ behavior, saw me as nothing more than a delinquent. It was worse when I was sent to Shujin Academy. With word spreading about my criminal actions, the principal, teachers, and student body treated me like I was a troubled individual and an outcast looking to ruin the school’s reputation. It didn’t help when Kamoshida Suguru, the P.E. teacher, made it a personal mission to make every student’s life miserable. Me being no different.

However, my time at Shujin wasn’t all gloom and doom. I met my first best friends: Sakamoto Ryuji and Takamaki Ann. Ryuji was previously injured by Kamoshida, who was known to physically abuse his students, and he used this as an excuse to end the track team, giving the other track students reason to despise Ryuji. On the first day of school, Ryuji and I stumbled into some weird dimension with a weird and sinister-looking castle. Initially I didn’t know what happened. Where did this castle come from? Well, it turned out there was a weird-looking red app that appeared on my phone, which I thought I deleted, that transported us to this castle where our school should be.

Soon after our arrival in this castle, we ran into some knights and were thrown in a prison cell. If that wasn’t weird enough, Kamoshida, or someone who looked like him, confronted us and declared himself a king. When he and his knights decided to torture us, a voice reached out to me. It had a dark but calming tone. As it turned out, it was my Persona. After making a pact with this Persona, I broke the chains in my heart and ripped the mask from my face, liberating myself and becoming Joker. Imbued in an aura of intense blue flames, I emerged with my Persona, Arsène. After freeing Ryuji, we met a cat-like creature named Morgana.

Heh, sorry, Morgana. You’re not a cat. Did I forget to mention he has a Persona, too? Yep, his Persona is Zorro.

After we freed Morgana from his prison, we escaped Shadow Kamoshida’s castle. According to Morgana, the Kamoshida we met was the man’s Shadow, physically derived from the darkest inner desires of the real Kamoshida’s heart. The Persona I summoned is the inner force representing one’s rebellious heart. After going back into the Palace, we discovered other students in there being tortured, but Morgana told us these were mere cognitions of students from our school. When confronted by Kamoshida’s higher guards, Ryuji’s Persona, Captain Kidd, awoke.

During the first couple of days, I often woke up inside a cold jail cell. Two wardens resembling little girls named Caroline and Justine introduced me to their boss Igor, a mysterious being inside a place called the Velvet Room. It was here he had me put through a rehabilitation process, gave me vague advice about the power of Personas, building up healthy bonds with others, gaining Confidants, and learning to utilize my Personas. I would come here every so often while I’m asleep. So, how can I be in one place and still be asleep? You could say it’s like a dream, but very about it is real. I remember everything comes in and out of my conversations with Igor and the warden twins.

As for Ann, I met her on my first day in the rain on my way to school. Who showed up to pick her up? The piece of shit Kamoshida. At the time I didn’t know, but I later learned he blackmailed Ann into a relationship while keeping her friend Suzui Shiho for volleyball practice. It turns out the relationship came with physical and mental abuse, affecting both Ann and Shiho.

This ultimately drove Shiho to fall off the roof, nearly committing suicide. Having witnessed her best friend nearly dying, Ann vowed revenge on Kamoshida. When we went to invade Kamoshida’s Palace… yeah, we learned the castle was something called a Palace, which according to Morgana is also created from a person’s distorted desires. Just when we were about to raid the Palace, Ann managed to follow us. It turns out Ann ended up with the same app. She was then captured. When we came to her rescue, Shadow Kamoshida appeared with a Cognitive Ann as they taunted the real Ann. Once we gave Ann words of encouragement, we helped her invoke her Persona, Carmen. Vowing to bring down Shadow Kamoshida, Ann joined us.

By our next mission, we came up with codenames: I called myself Joker. Ryuji decided on Skull. We came up with Mona for Morgana. Ann chose Panther.

After sending the calling card, we raided Shadow Kamoshida’s Palace. We stole his treasure and together defeated Shadow Kamoshida. Not one to bring herself down to Kamoshida’s level, Panther spared Shadow Kamoshida and let him live to suffer the consequences of his actions. It was an admirable act on her part. Afterward, the Palace collapsed, a sign that we’ve changed Kamoshida’s heart. Days later, Kamoshida confessed to his sexual and physical abusive crimes in front of the school. To the staff and students, this was a shock that ultimately tarnished Kamoshida’s reputation. Since he was a well known Olympic athlete, the news of his crimes spread like wildfire.

After Kamoshida left, students previously abused confessed about his wrongdoings. This prompted the school to hire a therapist to speak with the student body. This therapist was Dr. Maruki Takuto. A man with good intentions, he also came off as somewhat bumbling and treated students with snacks. What does he think we are grade school kids? For the students, it was voluntary for them to see Dr. Maruki, but for some like my friends and I, it was mandatory. We vented our grievances and told him about our current conditions. Dr. Maruki saw something in me and wanted me to assist him with some experiments for a project of his. Whatever it was for I would later find out.

When I also arrived in Shujin, I met a polite girl with a red ribbon. Initially, she introduced herself as Yoshizawa. I would later find out her name is Kasumi.

After a celebratory lunch, Ryuji and I bumped into someone, whose voice I recognized. He sounded very familiar. That same day we called ourselves the Phantom Thieves.

In between Palace missions, we took on requests to steal the hearts of Shadows manifested from other horrible people. Mishima, a student previously a victim of Kamoshida, set up this forum he called the Phan-Site. After accepting a request, we go into Mementos, track down that specific target’s Shadow, and destroy it to change that person’s heart. It’s helped build our cred with our supporters.

Along the way, I’ve gained Confidants after establishing bonds with them to boost my Persona’s power. Among such Confidants have been the Untouchable shop owner Munehisa Iwai, the fortune teller Mifune Chihaya, the positive-minded politician Yoshida Toranosuke, the paparazzi reporter Ohya Ichiko, the back alley doctor Takemi Tae, the famous Shogi player Togo Hifumi, a little gamer kid named Oda Shinya, and a few others, including my own teammates and Sojiro. By establishing a tight network with these people, my power connected with my Persona grew stronger.

After our first exams, we met an artist named Kitagawa Yusuke, a prodigious artist and a student of the famous painter Madarame Ichiryusai. In the public, Madarame is viewed as a highly respected and prestigious artist, but underneath the artist’s facade, he learned he was a plagiarist that worked his students under unhealthy conditions and took credit for their work. Sadly, Yusuke was one of them. When he presented him the truth, Yusuke felt betrayed. This enabled him to unleash the chains binding his rebellious heart, allowing him to don the Fox mask and command the Persona known as Goemon.

Like Kamoshida before, we stole the treasure and confronted Shadow Madarame in his distorted Palace. With Fox’s help, we stopped Shadow Madarame and convinced him to confess his crimes. After Madarame confessed to his crimes, Yusuke joined our cause.

Meanwhile, the school principal sent for the Student Council President, Niijima Makoto, to investigate the Phantom Thieves. A very sharp and obtuse young woman, Makoto followed our activities for a while. Morgana warned us he suspects Makoto might be aware of us being the Phantom Thieves. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we later found out Makoto is Niijima Sae’s younger sister. Yes, the same prosecutor who would later interrogate me.

Though all it took was Ryuji opening his big mouth and that’s all Makoto needed to go by to find us out. Smooth move, man. Luckily for us, she offered not to reveal our identities but only if we helped her with a situation. If not, she’d blackmail us. This led us directly in conflict with the dangerous mafia boss Kaneshiro Junya, who on the surface seemed like a ruthless and greedy crime lord, but beneath the facade was a petty conman. He and his underground network used Shujin students to deliver illegal drugs for money. Makoto got herself involved in an effort to prove she isn’t useless, but the scumbag threatened her with blackmail by releasing photos of us to the school if we didn’t pay 3 million yen within 3 weeks. If Makoto didn’t go through with the debt payment, she’d be forced to sell herself to Kaneshiro.

Then, when Kaneshiro decided Makoto’s sister, Sae, would make a better fit for a sex slave, it unleashed Makoto’s unbridled rage. That rage allowed her to liberate the chains binding her rebellious heart. Makoto became the Phantom Thief known as Queen, who vowed to crush Shadow Kaneshiro with her fists of justice.

Later, we took down Shadow Kaneshiro and shut down his Palace. Before we left him to reflect on his wrongdoings, Shadow Kaneshiro revealed intriguing information: there was a third party out there other than them who has the ability to manipulate Palaces for their own ends without regard for the people in reality. Then, he deleted the photos, ended the debt for Makoto, and turned himself over to the police.

The notion there was a third party out there was intriguing, but who could it be? Who else could manipulate Palaces like we can and these Shadows have been able to?

Through the course of these Palace infiltrations, we met the junior detective, Akechi Goro. He was Sae’s partner and someone who greatly opposed our philosophy of dealing with justice. He thought our methods were unorthodox and dangerous. He came to us one day and asked for our views about the Phantom Thieves. Akechi especially grew very interested in my story and we had discussions. So much so that Kasumi ended up getting into insightful discussions.

After Makoto joined our team, summer vacation arrived. During our break, we found out more about Sojiro. We learned Sojiro usually gets called by someone who needs help. It turns out that he’s been in care of another person. At the same time, we received mysterious texts from a hacker named ‘Alibaba’ to help us steal her heart while taking down Medjed, the group of cyber hackers. Somehow, Alibaba knew of my identity. Later, we ended up meeting Alibaba herself - Sakura Futaba. Notice the surname Sakura? She’s Sojiro’s adoptive daughter.

Sojiro would tell us that Futaba’s mother, Isshiki Wakaba, was a prominent researcher on cognitive psience, a study on the supernatural phenomenon about the cognitive world. She gave birth to Futaba out of wedlock, acting as the sole caretaker and provider for her daughter. Knowing she worked in a dangerous position, she kept a distance from her daughter, but did so to protect Futaba. Want to know the big reveal I didn’t expect? Sojiro was a former government official who worked closely with Wakaba. He helped with her research and in return she helped refine his curry and coffee recipes. It wasn’t clear if she truly reciprocated feelings for Sojiro. Sadly, she died after supposedly killing herself by throwing herself into traffic in a fit of psychosis. Later, we would find out her death was caused by an outside influence.

Agreeing to steal her heart, we were permitted inside Futaba’s Palace, which was a pyramid in the middle of a hot desert. Inside, we met Shadow Futaba, who showed us Futaba’s tragic past. The further we went through this Palace, we ended up facing a giant sphinx monster with Wakaba’s face. Apparently, Futaba created this cognition based on her mother’s supposed true feelings. Blaming herself for her mother’s death, Futaba imagined her mother as a monster condemning her. During the battle with the monster, Futaba would muster up resolve after admitting to being naive enough to believe in someone’s fabricated lie. That person who fabricated Wakaba’s death was the same man responsible for my probation: Shido Masayoshi.

After coming to terms with her mother, Futaba invoked her Persona, Necronomicon, and helped us defeat the monster. Afterward, she fell into a near month coma. Our back alley doctor, Takemi Tae, helped to diagnose her and confirmed the month long coma, which had us scared she wouldn’t wake up.

By the time she did, all was well. Futaba became something like a sister to me. She and Yusuke struck a comical relationship.

After that, we returned to school. But, just when we thought summer vacation was behind, our school scheduled for a trip to Hawaii. So, that begins our Hawaii trip. We used that time to hang out. It was there I helped a young woman named Togo Hifumi from a group of foreigners, probably American, harassing her. She remembered me. Yes, I met this girl at a church back home and she taught me to play Shogi. Pretty cool, right?

The Hawaii vacation came and went. Then, our group had a bit of a falling out, mostly over a petty argument with Ryuji and Morgana. This led to Morgana temporarily leaving us. During our infiltration of the next Palace, we found Morgana but with a young woman named Noir, who commands the Persona called Milady. It turns out she’s really Okumura Haru, another student from our school and the daughter of Okumura Kunikazu. We learned Mr. Okumura, not only bent on power and control of his company, but agreed to an arranged marriage between his daughter and a malignant son of a business associate. Refusing to accept an unhealthy marriage with Sugimura, Haru sided with us to steal her father’s heart and turn him back to the caring man he used to be.

Upon reaching Okumura’s Palace, we confronted him. We learned his wrongdoings involved his fast food businesses benefitting from recent deaths from rivals due to mysterious mental showdowns, which have run rampant in Tokyo even before I came to Yongen-Jaya. After stealing documents from Sae’s laptop, Makoto entailed us that these breakdowns have been carried out by a group called the Conspiracy. This and on top of Phan-Site’s comments against the Okumura business practices pushed us to stop Okumura. After defeating Okumura, he resigned to changing his heinous ways.

Prior to Okumura’s confession, Kasumi and I fell into a mysterious Palace at a construction site. There, we engaged a strange shadow copying the appearance of a cognition close to Kasumi. As a result, in a shocking turn, Kasumi invoked her Persona, Cendrillon, and gained a Metaverse form. Together, we defeated the Shadow. Realizing this was a chance to recruit a new member, Morgana tried to persuade Kasumi to join us. But, Kasumi declined. Nonetheless, this wouldn’t be the last time Kasumi fought alongside me.

Shortly afterward, when Haru invited us to celebrate at Tokyo Disneyland. What was supposed to be our biggest celebration ended up being a horrific nightmare. When Okumura offered his public apology, he suddenly collapsed from a mental breakdown and died. We remembered the black ooze seeping from his eyes and mouth just as he passed away. This horrified poor Haru. As a result, this event turned the public against us. The Phantom Thieves were branded as criminals. Our days of riding a wave of success were over.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Akechi eventually caught on and called out us as Thieves in private. Offering to keep our identities secret, he blackmailed us by coercing us to help him with a case related with Sae. Not one to let anything bad happen to her sister, Makoto vowed to know what’s happened with Sae. With Akechi joining us, he revealed his Metaverse guise: Crow. Together, we confronted Shadow Sae, who manifested from Sae’s growing frustration of working to defend the court’s ruined reputation. This combined with her frustration with the system after being toyed by the political corruption caused her Palace to manifest, taking the form of a casino. Wanting us to feel the same despair she’s felt, Shadow Sae challenged us to a roulette game where we ultimately beat her. Rather than steal her treasure, we convinced Shadow Sae to let go of her envy. This resulted in Sae letting it all go.

Things went south when security caught onto us. We escaped. I ended up taking another way, meeting Kasumi again. After that brief reunion, we went our separate ways, but I ended up caught by the police. Once taken in for questioning, I met Sae in interrogation. After explaining my side of the story, Sae got all she needed to ensure my escape.

However, Akechi confronted me and revealed the truth. He was revealed to be the ‘man in black’ that Kaneshiro hinted at and was responsible for murdering Okumura. He finished tying up loose ends and shot me square in the head.

And I was dead. My death would enable Shido to move forward with the final push to his political victory as the next Prime Minister.

Akechi and Shido won.

Or, so they thought.

Thanks to Sae and our contingency plan, the ‘me’ that Akechi killed was a cognition. I was hiding out at Leblanc. Realizing Akechi and Shido were working together, we moved forward with the next phase: infiltrating Shido’s Palace.

With his Palace resembling a ship, it symbolized Shido’s desire as a leader to ‘steer’ the country in his direction. As we infiltrated his ship, we confronted Akechi along the way. Learning that he’s Shido’s son, we tried to convince him of all his wrongdoings. Once we beat him, cracks began to form, fracturing his mental state. He unleashed his true face: Loki, a more fitting personality to his trickster nature. Even still, we defeated him. Sensing his son failed him, Shido sent a Cognitive Akechi to finish the real Akechi off. Seeing this infuriated me. How could someone kill their own son for failure? No, I shouldn’t be surprised. This was the same man who framed me and solely responsible for my year of probation. Akechi spared us seeing him being killed by his cognitive self. Once he shut us off with a door, gunfire rang out, but since no one of us was there to see who got shot, it was unclear whether Akechi survived.

The time finally came. We confronted Shadow Shido. Ultimately, it came down to him and I. I fired the last shot and brought Shadow Shido to his knees. We learned that every conflict up to this point, Kaneshiro funneling his money to Shido’s political campaign, Okumura being killed by Akechi, and even Akechi being Shido’s accomplice, tied back to Shido. After we changed Shido’s heart, he resigned from the political race and admitted to his crimes, prompting his campaign team to do damage control.

It was over. The man responsible for my probation was humbled. Because of his confession, that means our reputation as Phantom Thieves should go up, right?

Well, it turns out. It did not. Our popularity meter didn’t change. No increase or decrease.

Why? Well, the true mastermind behind these schemes was still at large. People’s darkest desires still manifested, giving strength to the anomalous power inside Mementos. We banded together once again to meet the mastermind: the God of Control.

Remember I mentioned Igor? Well, he’s the mastermind behind these schemes, but it wasn’t really Igor. The ‘Igor’ I’ve been seeing was the God of Control all along - Yaldabaoth. Having been manipulated by the God of Control, Caroline and Justine merged into their original form: Lavenza. Then, the real Igor appeared and informed us of Yaldabaoth’s meddling up to this point.

After nearly disposing of us, we rebounded and faced Yaldabaoth for a final showdown. Combining our wills and hopes as well as the rally support from the masses, we invoked the full potential of our Personas, all of which reached their Ultimate Persona states. Then like a scene straight of a mythological story, Satanael appeared from our beckoning. One bullet through Yaldabaoth’s head was all it took.

And it was over. Yaldabaoth was gone.

The battle was settled one day before Christmas.

Sae confronted me to talk about my prison term. Before I had a chance to turn myself in, Akechi appeared before me in a surprising way. How did he manage to survive? Well, it didn’t matter because Akechi offered to confess to all the allegations in my place. What should’ve been me serving time in prison went to Akechi. That meant I could spend the rest of the holidays and the last few months of my probation with my friends.

With Yaldabaoth gone, clearly that was the end of our tale, right?

Well, not quite. You see, before our battle with Shido and Yaldabaoth, Dr. Maruki’s term with Shujin ended on November 18th. According to him, he amassed enough data for a project of his. He talked to me about it and said his thanks before taking off. That was the last I’ve seen him.

Until the new year.

Heading into the new year, Kasumi joined us for a New Year celebration. It was enjoyable and a great way to start our new year. However, something happened.

I woke up to find a young man with dashing good looks. It turns out this guy was Morgana. Did he somehow regain his new form? Then, more strange occurrences happened. Futaba’s mother, Wakaba, was somehow alive. Likewise, Haru’s father was alive and friendlier than he was before. Shiho, who apparently left town, was back and hanging out with Ann. Makoto and Sae’s father was alive. Ryuji was in good graces with his track mates again and his leg healed. Yusuke somehow made amends with Madarame and allowed him to display ‘Sayuri’ with his mother’s name at an art museum.

Something was off. Then, Akechi appeared to me and told me if I noticed anything off. I verified that with him. He told me the source behind these strange events is due to a new Palace. It was the same one Kasumi and I went into before. With Akechi and Kasumi’s help, we investigated this strange Palace. The deeper we went, we noticed the inside resembling a hospital. Then, we met the source behind this Palace. It was Dr. Maruki.

Maruki revealed to us he used the power of Azathoth, which manifested from Adam Kadmon, to resurrect the dead instead of conjuring them as simple cognitions. They directly unleashed mass salvation by warping the very cognition of humanity using a Palace directly linked to Mementos and the real world in Odaiba following Yaldabaoth’s downfall. Maruki wanted to end humanity’s suffering by granting us eternal happiness. He warned if we dared intervene he would make us see the pain of reality.

And Kasumi. Well, what Maruki revealed to us, she was never Kasumi all along. The ‘Kasumi’ we’ve bonded with is Yoshizawa Sumire, the younger sister of the real Kasumi. The real Kasumi died saving Sumire from getting hit by a car. Taking the fall for her sister, Kasumi tragically died. Feeling responsible for Kasumi’s passing, Sumire aspired to live in her late sister’s footsteps, even going as far as becoming a gymnast in Kasumi’s memory. She didn’t just want to continue her sister’s life, she wanted to become Kasumi. So much so, she used Kasumi’s image to mask her true insecure self.

Taking advantage of Sumire, Maruki manipulated and turned her against us. As Akechi and I fought hard to save Sumire, her Persona was too much to handle. Then, my friends appeared, completely free from Maruki’s reality, and saved us. Standing united, we vowed to not accept Maruki’s reality.

Prior to our final battle with Maruki, we learned about his tragic past. He had a girlfriend, named Rumi, whose entire family were murdered as a result of an indoor burglary. This caused her to fall into a catatonic depression, leaving Maruki to comfort her by unwittingly invoking a trigger phrase by mentioning her family’s name. Once this drove her into a breakdown, Maruki fell into grief. Later, he manifested Adam Kadmon as a Persona and struck a deal. Once their deal was finalized, Rumi fully recovered from her depression. Using his power to reshuffle her memories to make her forget him, Maruki cut ties with her and vowed to further his research so he could help humanity.

With his research praised, but also rejected by his university, his dream of a cognitive psience research center in Odaiba was shattered. Instead, a stadium was set to be built in its place. This was due to Shido seizing the assets and funds for his research. So, once again, Shido ruins someone else’s life. Looking deeper into his research, he found out how dangerous meddling with cognitive psience could be. Though terrified, he still attempted to prove its use and utilized Adam Kadmon’s reality warping powers to assist people and make the world a better place. Eventually, he met Sumire and used his power on her, gaining some understanding she lost Kasumi and wished to live as her. Through his cognitive power, he made Sumire think she’s Kasumi. Granted, Sumire told us she allowed him to do this. This helped Sumire put a halt to any suicidal tendencies and allowed her to regain her sanity. Her meeting me allowed her to stabilize. And that’s when Maruki eventually moved to Shujin to assess our Metaverse abilities. He knew we were Persona users and wanted to see our potential.

Before our battle with Maruki, our Personas hit their Third-Tier levels. With our Persona maxed out, we confronted Maruki, who had now become Azathoth. Together, we defeated Azathoth and I ended up saving Maruki. Realizing he lost his salvation plan, Maruki vowed to restore everything to their original reality. He saw me as his ray of hope.

After saving Maruki, reality was reset to normal. I ended up serving juvie after making a testimony against Shido. Akechi vanished without a trace, presumably dead along with everyone else Maruki revived in his altered reality. Sumire no longer has Kasumi’s mask overlayed her mental state.

After serving my time, I reunited with my friends and Confidants. All went well.

March 20, 2017. My day of departure. 345 days ago, I wasn’t the same person I was then. I remember acquiring Arsène a year ago. That day was met with scorn and mistrust. Now, I have accumulated a network of friends and trusting Confidants. There’s no doubt I came out a better individual. Maybe getting probation was the best thing that happened to me. If that single incident never happened, I wouldn’t have formed the Phantom Thieves and we wouldn’t have changed the world.

That day when my friends drove me on the way, we spotted detectives tailing us. But, who came and offered me a ride to my train without further delay? Maruki, who was now a taxi driver. Thanks to him, I reached my train. Along the way, I saw Sumire for the last time. On my way back, a blue butterfly flew past me.

It was a sign that I’d be back to see my friends again.

How true was that? One year later, I reunited with my friends. By then, Makoto and Haru graduated from Shujin and were college students. Together, we took a vacation to Osaka. Once there, we didn’t just sightsee, but Shadows arrived and disrupted our vacation. The Phantom Thieves were called back into action.

While we were in Osaka, we met new allies. Among them was an inspector from the Kyoto Prefectural Police’s Security Department, Hasegawa Zenkichi. Just like us, he’s a Persona user, commanding Valjean at his beckon. Another addition to our group is a mysterious girl named Sophia, who originally was a giant box. From a wish made by me, I granted Sophia a ‘human’ form. She, too, wielded a Persona named Pithos. Thanks to them along with Zenkichi’s daughter, Akane, and a researcher named Ichinose Kuon, we were able to stop the Shadows, a group of entities known as Jail Kings, and the source of their power.

A year after our summer adventure, Ann and I started dating. After some on and off online chats, we really got to know each other. By the time we graduated, our relationship hit off.

Now, after nearly 3 years, the Phantom Thieves will be reunited at the only place best fit for our reunion gathering.


Dimension: Akane-no-Mai/Café Leblanc (純喫茶ルブラン)/Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (四軒茶屋, 東京)/July 24, 2020 (2020年7月24日)/10:45 AM (JST)

Morning has come to Café Leblanc, a coffee shop owned by Sakura Sojiro. Once a former one year home for Ren's probation, it was now a special hang out place for him and his friends.

Serving coffee to his customers with a courteous smile, Sojiro kept himself occupied on this busy morning. He looked nearly the same removed from four years ago, save for some tufts of gray showing up on the sides of his hair and beard. He had on his long-sleeved pink shirt complete with his familiar white pants and shoes.


Opposite from the coffee shop owner sat seven young adults and a black cat. Sojiro’s gaze met those of these seven people and their feline companion. He smirked and let them carry on with their reunion.


“How long has it been since you kids been together like this?” Sojiro said, eyeing the head of this group. “Heh, you know how to draw them back in, Ren. Or, do you still go by that silly name? Joker, right?”


Formerly going by his Phantom Thief alias Joker, Amamiya Ren looked nearly the same four years removed. He kept the same glasses, which he often took off. His normally unkempt black hair was neatly groomed, although as the day wore on his hair regained some of its scruffiness. He had on a gray blazer, and under it a white long-sleeved dress shirt, though he had already unbuttoned the sleeves and pulled them back to make for a comforting short-sleeve shirt. He also had on dark gray slacks, black shoes, and a black waist belt.


"Dudes, it’s freakin’ great to see y’all again!”


"Yeah, it’s good to see you again, Ryuji." Ren addressed his boisterous friend, who sat across the table. “This is our first reunion in the Reiwa period.”


Sakamoto Ryuji's outward appearance was a stark contrast to how he used to look like during his high school days. Gone was the blonde dye that made him stand out from the crowd. Having stopped coloring his hair, it had gone back to its natural black. He grew out a black goatee on his chin that completed his transition into a young man. Ryuji's build was more muscularly toned after a few years of physical training. He had on a white t-shirt, red sweat shorts, and white tennis shoes. He also wore a small fit band, which he used to time his runs.


"It’s hard to believe a few years have passed since our last engagement,” a woman in a police uniform stated, saluting her friends.


“Hey, relax, Makoto. You’re off work, right? It’s cool to be casual around us.” Ren concurred.


“Sorry. It’s a force of habit these days.”


Niijima Makoto, now a policewoman, wore the female police uniform, consisting of a similar colored dress shirt but short-sleeved. She also had on a black tie, dark blue pants, and a blue police cap. Having grown her hair longer, she was almost a mirror image of Sae, save for her brown hair, which she had in a bun hairstyle.


"Yeah, this brings back memories." Mona chimed in, his dialogue came off as simple meows to everyone else but this group of seven. "I totally don’t forget all the times I teased our 'monkey' right here!"


"Hey, shut it, cat!" Ryuji snapped at the sardonic cat.


“You haven’t changed much, Mona. And I don’t mean your looks either.”


The black cat with the yellow collar, blue eyes, a white muzzle, paws, and tail tip turned to meet the gaze of a beautiful, platinum blonde-haired woman.


Morgana (Mona for short) put up a brave face. “You know it, Lady Ann!” He replied, putting emphasis on the ‘lady’ as a title of endearment he’s had for this young woman.


“Still using Lady, are we?” She gave a soft giggle along with blowing him a cute raspberry.


Takamaki Ann dressed in her latest modeling wardrobe. Ann had on a black sleeveless and backless halter top, openly exposing her full midriff without a care in the world. She wore black leather pants to match her halter top. She had on a red trench coat over the halter top. Ann's other accessories: red lipstick, red painted nails, and a pair of red bracelets on her right wrist. Having embraced womanhood, Ann no longer wore her pigtails. She freely let her wavy blonde hair loose down to her lower body.


“I’m glad you’re all doing so well,” a woman sitting next to Makoto spoke up.


“You, too, Haru,” Ren replied to the young woman.


Okumura Haru retained her chin-length curly auburn hair. She wore a lavender blouse with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath. She had on a black and white polka-dotted skirt, knee-length black stockings, and brown dress shoes. She carried with her a red purse. Other accessories she wore were a pair of silver earrings and light red lipstick.


“We’ve been long overdue for a reunion, my friends,” an eloquent-sounding young man chimed in.


“You got that right, Inari!” A quick and snappy remark came from a woman sitting on the polite man’s left.


“I’m glad you both can make it, Yusuke and Futaba,” Ren addressed the two.


Sakura Futaba was a different-looking one from four years ago. The most notable difference in her appearance is her hairstyle and color. Her hair was now short and neck-length like her mother's. She ditched the orange hair she had when she was younger and allowed her natural dark color to resurface. Beyond that, she wore a short-sleeved gray shirt with a green Hatsune Miku character embellished on it, an orange beanie, and white & gray cargo pants. She had her feet planted in a pillow cushioned under her buttocks.


Kitagawa Yusuke, now wearing a ponytail, had on a long-sleeved violet shirt with a gray vest over it. He also wore black pants and a graduation ring, which he earned after graduating from Kosei High School.


Ryuji smirked and slipped in a sly remark to Ren. "Soo, how long have you and Ann been together, dude?"


"Ryuji! Knock it off!" Ann blushed and shouted. "We've only been dating and keeping in touch after we graduated!”


"Calm down, Ann. It's okay." Ren eased his girlfriend’s tension.


"Yeah, I just take it in stride." Ann sighed. "Besides, we're closer than ever, Ren."


"I think you two will have a wonderful relationship." Haru smiled.


"Indeed, this artist can foresee a relationship brimming with love." Yusuke illustrated a visual painting with words alone.


"Thanks, you two." Ren genuinely replied.


"Hey guys, do you also know why we’re here together again?!" Ryuji interrupted with a holler. "The Summer Olympic Games are in Shinjuku today!"


Ren nodded. “Yeah, I knew that was coming up.”


"We already purchased our tickets, so we're good to go!" Futaba mentioned.


"Heh, you kids are off to see the Olympics while my old ass is staying here minding the shop,” Sojiro interjected with a heavy chuckle. “Thankfully, I’ll be watching it on TV.”


Ryuji openly grinned. "Heh, you can say that again, boss!"


Just then, following the ringing from the door came another guest. A woman with long gray hair parted to the right side and reddish eyes walked into the café. Sae stood dressed in a black business suit with a matching colored turtleneck and dark gray heels. She had on her black blazer; the blazer's cuffs and the lower area have clamshell-like designs. She had on a section sign-shaped necklace, silver earrings, and black hair clips above her right ear. Her fingernails are violet.


Scanning the coffee shop, the defense attorney quickly spotted the young policewoman. After pursing her lips, the woman cleared her throat, garnering Makoto and the whole group’s attention.


“Sis!” Makoto addressed the woman with a smile.


“Sae, good to see you again,” Sojiro welcomed the defense attorney. “How’s your husband been? I think he’s from Fukuoka, right?”


“Yes, and Hojo’s doing quite well teaching,” Sae greeted the older gentleman as she approached the table. “Hello again.” A cool smirk replaced her usual stern demeanor. “Phantom Thieves.” She whispered with a wink.


“Hello, Sae. It has been a while,” Ren addressed the defense attorney.


“So, are we having a reunion here?”


"Yeah, and we're going to the Summer Olympics!" Ann beamed her brightest smile.


"That sounds like fun. Well, I was going to get some coffee, but imagine my surprise to see you all here together again. Make sure you enjoy your time at the event.”


"You bet we will,” Ren replied. Seeing Sae again reminded him of his previous tense experiences with Sae back in the interrogation before later becoming one of his important allies.


“Sae, are you going to be off duty to watch the event with your friends?”


“Yeah, sis. I’m going to change out of my uniform first before I head out with them.”


“I see. Just be careful out there.” Sae nodded as she headed over to sit on a barstool to talk with Sojiro.


“Of course, we’re gonna to be ok,” Ryuji slightly rolled his eyes. “What’s the worst that can happen?”


Makoto sternly frowned. “Anything. There have been bombings, even attempted ones, at these events. As a law enforcement officer, I have to be vigilant and protect you guys if I must.”


Haru placed a hand over Makoto’s fingers. “Yes, that’s our Mako-chan, our responsible policewoman.”


“Seems there’s a few of us who still haven't fully learned responsibility. Right, monkey man?” Morgana slipped in a snarky jab at Ryuji.


“Shaddup up, cat! And I’ve become responsible, I’ll show you!”


Futaba snickered. “Riiiight.”


Finishing his coffee, Ren rolled his eyes. “Are we all done here?”


“Yeah, the opening ceremony is tonight, right?” Ann queried.


“Yes, so we have plenty of time for Mako-chan to shower and change before we head out,” Haru said.


Makoto nodded. “I shouldn’t take long.”


Ren smiled. “It’s ok. We have time.” With that, after finishing their breakfast and coffee, he and his friends left the café and then headed straight for Makoto’s apartment before later taking a train station for Shinjuku.





Sophia University (上智大学)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/3:05 PM (JST)


In the "University of Higher Wisdom", students and faculty members enjoyed another daily productive day. Things started to slow down due to the summer season.


Getting up from her seat, one student managed to beat a fellow classmate in Shogi, the Game of Generals.


"Whoa! I can’t believe you beat me with intensity, Hifumi-san!" The random classmate cried out.


Now a college student in her third year of her education, Togo Hifumi is the same beautiful dark green-eyed young woman with long black hair and bangs. Hifumi has since retained the youthful beauty she's had since her high school years.


She collected her belongings and walked out with the classmate. She had on a casual white dress with orange, navy blue, and white checkered designs, sans the sleeves that were free of such elaborate designs. She also wore long black stockings and dark shoes. She still wore her red hair accessory that resembled a three-leaf clover, which she's worn since high school.


A long time acquaintance of Ren, Hifumi never forgot their first meeting at Kanda Church. She also attended Kosei High School with Yusuke.


Hifumi sincerely smiled at her classmate. "I warned you not to challenge me.”


"But, I was so eager to face you!”


"It's alright," Hifumi said.


"Say, are you going to the Summer Olympics?" The classmate asked.


Hifumi answered, "I don't think so, because I just want a calm walk going home. Perhaps, I’ll watch the Olympics on television."


"Aww bummer. Oh well." The classmate gave a defeated sigh.


With that said, both went their separate ways.


Hifumi was usually a reserved young woman, the exception being when she’s playing Shogi. Though she has friends, she wondered about her future. Hifumi reflected on the good times with Ren. She was especially grateful the Phantom Thieves saved her mother from controlling her Shogi player reputation. Knowing full well she became a 'phony player', she rebuilt her reputation from scratch under her own terms.


As she passed by the hallways and the university's gates, Hifumi looked around the Chiyoda ward with a serene mindset.


“Today is just another mundane day.” Hifumi breathed in and exhaled. “It’s ok though. I like it this way.”



Kichijōji, Tokyo (吉祥寺, 東京)/3:24 PM (JST)

Getting off from a bus stop, a young woman with long, back-length red hair walked around to admire the popular locale known for its family friendly and quality parks, restaurants, and shops. She wore a celeste black polka-dotted blouse, white shorts, and brown & blue tennis shoes. Carrying a small white purse over her right shoulder, the redhead headed for the local park to take her mind off of work.

Enjoying her relaxing walk, Yoshizawa Sumire passed by an electronics shop. She paused and watched a segment from the Summer Olympics event.

Putting on a pair of glasses, the red-haired woman murmured. “I guess the gymnastics events aren’t on their schedule today. That’s too bad.” She then turned and walked away. Once she turned the other way, she headed toward Inokashira Park.


Ueno Zoo (恩賜上野動物園)/Taitō, Tokyo (台東区, 東京)/3:47 PM (JST)

Killing time for the remainder of their day, a young woman, Jabami Yumeko, invited her two former Hyakkaou Private Academy classmates and best friends, Saotome Mary and Suzui Ryōta, to the Ueno Zoo.

“Heh, look at those funny-looking birds,” the long black-haired Yumeko pointed to some shoebill storks. Yumeko had on a cute white t-shirt with a black cat centered on it. She also wore a blue jean skirt and red tennis shoes. Carrying a white fluffy purse, her red eyes intently stared at the birds like a cat would with its prey.

“They are kinda weird-looking. They look like something straight out of a fantasy story,” Mary assessed the shoebill storks. She kept her blonde hair in the same twin ponytailed style. She wore a long-sleeved black shirt with a red coat over it. She also had on a white skirt, white thigh high socks, and black heeled shoes.

“They look like dinosaurs if you ask me,” Ryōta pointed out the long debated connection between birds and dinosaurs. No longer a Hyakkaou Private student, the brunette-haired Ryōta could now freely go out in casual wear. He wore a green hoodie with a yellow t-shirt under it, a dark blue baseball cap, blue jeans, and white tennis shoes.

“Huh, now that you mention it. They kinda look like dinosaurs. But, how come? Aren’t dinos long gone?” Yumeko curiously asked Ryōta.

“There’s been long discussions about their skeleton structures being similar to birds. This is especially true if you looked at their hips and breast bone areas,” Ryōta explained to the best of his knowledge.

“I wonder if birds could make great gamblers?” Yumeko eagerly pondered.

Mary sighed. “Geez, get a grip. You know birds can’t gamble.”

“How do you know? Sure, they don’t gamble for money, but who’s to say they don’t bet on food?”

“Well, birds can be highly intelligent. A crow can utilize tools like rocks to break open nuts and build their nests. They even use tools to carry objects. It’s true!” Ryōta revealed fascinating tidbits about bird behavior.

“Wow, that’s cool. Well, still don’t think they can gamble, Mary?” Yumeko got right up into her friend’s face.

“No, and even if they could, none of us have ever seen them gamble!” Mary snapped back.

Yumeko turned and called out to the shoebills. “Hey, can you guys gamble or not?!” She got what she expected: no response from the shoebill storks. This elicited an annoyed groan from Mary, but Ryōta chuckled at his friend’s outburst.

Ryōta pointed out. “Anyway, where are we going to watch the Summer Olympics? The opening ceremony has already passed.”

Yumeko tapped her chin. “You’re right. It just started today. Hmmm.”

Mary suggested. “We could find a café...” Yumeko quickly cut her off.

“That’s a great idea!” The black-haired woman beamed with joy. “After this, we can find a place to chill and watch the games. I like how you think, Mary!”

“Well, I didn’t give it much thought, but whatever.”

“Is that ok, Ryōta?”

He nodded anxiously. “Y-Yeah, sure!”





“This is great! We should also make bets on who wins each event!”





While Yumeko excitedly rambled on, Mary and Ryōta exchanged wary glances and sighed together.





Japan National Stadium (国立競技場)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/4:30 PM (JST)


At the recently built stadium in Shinjuku, the Tokyo Summer Olympics commenced in the Reiwa period’s second year. Huge crowds filled the stadium and cheered for the opening ceremonies. Having joined the audience Ren's group watched the Opening Ceremony events progress without delay. The ceremonies displayed athletics for varying disciplines: archery, football, tracking, and judo.


Even Morgana, hiding inside Ren’s backpack, poked his head out to observe.


“I can’t believe all these people are competing for some medals!” An intrigued Morgana cried out.


Ryuji quickly interjected. “They aren’t just any medals! They’re the most prestigious awards for athletes!”


“Still, this is the first time I’m seeing a huge stadium in person! These crowds are going wild!” Morgana openly added.


Ren chuckled. “Well, aren’t you excited?”


"Hey, take the cat some slack! He's having the time of his life!" Futaba replied to her brotherly figure.


“It’s the first time he’s seeing events of this caliber. I can hardly blame him,” Yusuke said. “I can only imagine what it was like back then when the Olympics started in Olympia.”


“How long ago was that?” Ann queried to the artist.


“Over 2,700 years ago.”


Ann gaped in. “Whoa, that was a long time ago!”


Makoto added with a smile. “Don’t forget there was a time before our modern society became what it was.”


“Of course, I knew that. I’m just surprised the Olympics have lasted this long.”


Sighing hard, Ryuji addressed the others. "Man, I kinda wish I could’ve gotten into the Olympics sooner. If it wasn’t for that damn Kamoshida incident, I would’ve…!” He almost yelled, garnering the attention of his friends.


"Care to remind us?" Yusuke asked Ryuji.


"Look, it’s just tough having to recall the time I was part of the track team until shit went sour for me. Meeting Ren changed my life and he helped find my purpose. The dude lit a fire under my ass. I needed it to get my passion back.”


Reminded of the goodwill he brought to his friend, Ren smirked. “You’re welcome.”


“It sucks. I didn’t have time to register. It would’ve helped me in the long run. I just gotta get the hang of getting back on track.”


Haru pointed out. “But, you’ve done track.”


Ryuji chuckled. “Hehe, it was just a figure of speech.”


“Don’t worry. You’ll rebound, Ryuji. I just know it,” Ann smiled as she briefly stood up and cheered at the sports performances. “YEAH!” Her lively reactions, compared to the more reserved and polite clapping, brought a smile to Ren’s face. Her bright presence helped to lighten up the crowd scene.


Scanning the crowds, Morgana whispered. “Lady Ann, you might wanna calm down ‘cause not everyone is cheering loudly like you.”


"Just let her be. We’re here to enjoy the show,” Ren muttered to the cat.


“How long are we going to be here?” Haru asked Makoto.


“However long we want, this is just the opening day.”


“That’s fine with me as long as I’m with you, Mako-chan.” Haru leaned against Makoto, eliciting a smile from the policewoman.


Hifumi's House/Kanda (神田)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/5:15 PM (JST)


Hifumi and her family resided in a traditional household. No one, but Hifumi, was home. Her mother was at work. Her father was away on a business trip.


As she approached the front door, Hifumi opened it with her house keys and closed it behind her. Upon entering the household, she removed her shoes and put on more comfortable sandals. Wandering the house, she took a deep breath and meditated in thought. Putting on some relaxing music, she sat down in the living room and closed her eyes.


The moment she started to relax and visualize a waterfall in her mind, a faint sound emanated from outside.


Startled, Hifumi’s eyes shot wide open. She faced the direction where she felt and heard the sound. The sound seemingly came from the backyard. She raced over and opened the back doors, hurrying outside.


To her surprise, Hifumi’s eyes faced an unconscious person lying underneath a tree. She couldn’t make out who it was as this person had their back facing her way. Looking back and forth, Hifumi made sure no one else heard and came out to investigate. Taking several cautious steps, she approached the unconscious person. Reaching over, she put a hand on the person’s left shoulder.


“H-Hello?” She asked. “How did you get here?” She shook his shoulder. “Can you hear me?” She wondered how this person caused a loud crash. Scanning the backyard, she saw no signs of anything broken. Not a tree branch fell and no fence was broken into. There was no evidence of this stranger breaking entry into the backyard.


Following several deep breaths, Hifumi pulled the person’s shoulder and flipped him on his back. Taken aback, the person she turned over is a youthful man. She felt warmth in her cheeks. Palming her rosy cheeks, the Shogi woman wondered if this was one of those love at first sight situations.


Perishing those thoughts with a nod, she wondered where she came from. Judging by his appearance, he looked like some kind of foreigner to her.


The stranger appeared to be a young Caucasian man. Hifumi described the stranger’s facial features, assessing him to be roughly her age. He had a scruffy brown hairstyle with hair locks sticking outward and some locks hanging over his face. His mostly dark clothing consisted of a black, long-sleeved slender shirt with a large neck collar covering most of his neck, black pants, and gray shin-length boots. There are black leg belts on the left part of his leg. Silver armor of some kind covered most of his left arm.


Nevertheless, Hifumi grabbed the unconscious man’s arms and dragged him inside into the living room. She placed him on the couch and looked at his face.


“Oh, what’s this?” Hifumi wondered, her eyes shifting from his face toward the metal mask covering his face. She slowly removed the mask mouth guard, revealing his mouth.


Suddenly, a hand grabbed Hifumi’s arm, forcing her to drop the mask. It was a blink and miss moment for Hifumi as she now realized the young man awoke and seized her arm. Struggling to jerk her arm away, Hifumi turned and met the man’s gaze. His red eyes quickly turned a bright crimson. Snarling, he opened his mouth. Hifumi noted two sharp fangs, appearing vampiric from a glance. Seeing the sharp fangs elicited a small gasp from her.


When he slowly opened his eyes, the young man briefly saw the image of a woman in white with golden eyes staring over him.


“Io…?” He started stirring until the image of the pale woman faded, now replaced with Hifumi’s presence. This sparked a hostile response from the stranger.


“...who are you…?!” The young man raised his voice, his predominant snarls overtaking his manner of speech.


She was initially confused by his choice of language.


“You don’t speak my language?” Hifumi asked in Japanese, realizing the clear language barrier between the two. “That’s English you’re speaking?”


“...what?” He asked, backing away from Hifumi. When she approached him, he snarled. He paused and sniffed Hifumi’s scent, distinguishing her scent with his own. “...you’re not a Revenant like me, you’re human…? ...where am I?” He meticulously scanned the household. Befuddled, he didn’t know where he was anymore.


“Y-You’re in my family’s place,” Hifumi nearly stammered. “Please, it’ll be ok. Tell me, what is a Revenant?”


“I thought you were her… I thought I saw Io…” The man muttered. When he untucked his right arm, Hifumi noticed an amber-colored, bead-shaped object under his pit. Realizing she has her eyes on it, he covered it.


“Listen, surely you don’t understand me, but you mention this ‘Io’. Whoever that is, I’m not that person.”


Shaking his head, the man scoured the household and stormed outside into the backyard. Much to his shock, he saw a tree full of leaves and heard the chirping of birds. He noted the blue sky. Almost forgetting he wasn’t wearing a mask now, the very air he was breathing and tasting had no toxic properties. In fact, he could breathe. Everything about this place was new to him. It took a full minute for him to grasp the possibility he may not even be home anymore. He speculated whether he was in another time. When assessing Hifumi’s appearance and her clothing, that seemed to be the case.


“I-I’m not anywhere near… where are… Augh!” He howled in pain as he seemingly recalled being pulled through a portal. The last people he could remember were four others: two men and two women.


“Are you ok?!” Hifumi called out, sliding over to check in with the young man. “Listen to me, you’re going to be ok. I’m here, but I’d like to take you somewhere else that’s not here. Please, let me help.” She offered a hand to the unnamed Revenant, who cautiously faced her.


The more he looked at this woman, he no longer sensed hostility, but someone with genuinely good intentions. He reached out to her, she grasped his fingers.


“My name is Togo Hifumi,” she tried her best to communicate. With the little English she knows, she authenticated her English into something more ‘Engrish’. “My name is Togo Hifumi.


Making out her ‘Engrish’, the man replied. “Si…” He paused abruptly when he noticed the household seemingly distorted as if being torn apart and altered into something no longer resembling the Togo living room.


Then, Hifumi noticed the changing environment. She looked around in horror and confusion.


“What’s going on?” She asked.


Suddenly, a powerful surge of energy resonated within the Revenant. As energy burst out of him, the energy dispersed and formed a protective aura around them, protecting them from the changing environment. Doing so nearly exhausted the Revenant. He fell on his left knee and panted hard.


“Hey…!” Hifumi reached for him. She paused and witnessed her family’s traditional home distorting into a twisted version of said household. The elaborate furnishings were replaced with something straight out of the 1600s Sengoku period, but there is a demonic atmosphere to be felt. “My family’s home! What has happened?!”


“...we’re in danger…” The Revenant muttered, eliciting a confused and terrified look from Hifumi.
 
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Ford1114

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Chapter II: First Encounters



Japan National Stadium (国立競技場)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/5:42 PM (JST)

As the Olympics went on, a sudden rift opened up in the middle of the stadium. Audiences and the performers paused and witnessed the strange occurrence, which interrupted the events. Immediately taking note of this disruption and rising from their seats, the Phantom Thieves became alarmed.

“What the hell is that?!” Ann exclaimed in distress.

“You’re asking us?!” Morgana was equally bewildered as the others were.

As if that wasn’t enough, a burst of raw energy came out of the rift and crashed into the middle of the stadium, causing panic and scaring the competitors away. Viewing this as an attack, terrified screams erupted from various audience members. The audience started fleeing from the stadium.

“Oh shit! I swear this isn’t Mementos coming back, right?!” Ryuji exclaimed.

“Again, you’re asking us?!” Morgana cried out. “And no, this doesn’t look like…!”

Before the cat can finish his sentence, more energy cascaded from the rift out of nowhere. Unbeknownst to the Thieves, the energy started diminishing, revealing shadowed entities of varying sizes and shapes. Upon seeing these monstrosities, the audiences fled from their seats. Discerning the creatures, the Thieves stayed behind to get a better glimpse of the monsters.

Among these abominations are a mix of demonic creatures and dark gray-skinned behemoths wearing masks.

Of the demons that the Thieves could make out: an Onryoki, a large shaggy white-haired, red-skinned and yellow-horned oni.

Several Skeleton Warriors and Axemen appeared. They appear as their names imply, being half-decayed, sword-wielding skeletons in samurai garb and a few larger, ax-wielding skeleton entities.

Three Yoki, massive horned red-skinned oni with glowing crystals jutting through their shoulders then appeared.

Three Namahage, blue-skinned, straw-caped Yokai with two curved horns, buck teeth, and wielding cleavers, appeared in unison.

One Enki, a large monkey wielding a spear and with similar glowing orange shoulder crystals as well as a crystal forehead horn, materialized

An Ippon-Datara, a massive, one-legged, one-eyed monster carrying a large hammer behind its shoulders, appeared.

Of the masked monsters that the Thieves discerned: A group of Shamed Thralls appeared. They are dark clad, black spiky-haired humanoids wearing gas masks, dark torn garments, and black spiky hair. Some held axes. Others carried swords, bayonets, hammers, and shields. Others were distinguishable with a lack of weapons and wore red pants as opposed to dark-colored clothing, but stood in battle stances.

Among the other masked creatures are Stonecrushers, a pair of large rotund beasts. Both of them carried big swords and wore masks.

Others called Snouted Wanderers, resembling bipedal gray-skinned humanoids with long, shapely anteater-like snouts, appeared. Some carried axes and others wielded swords.

Acting as the head hunter of this group is the Insatiable Despot, a 9’0 foot tall thin creature garbed in black garments, appeared with the other Lost. A row of black and red spikes protruded from its back. It has on a black mask with its red eyes glowing through. The visage of its mask has the mouth twisted into a creepy and menacing grin. It brandished twin yellow blades in its hands.

“If these aren’t Shadows, then they’re for real?! Like real freakin’ monsters?!” Futaba exclaimed.

“I don’t feel anything inherently Shadow in nature about them,” Morgana assessed the conjured abominations.

“These things look like Yokai I’ve seen in illustrations!” Yusuke verified based on his artistic readings.

“Yeah! I think I remember fighting one of them in Madarame’s Palace! But, my mind’s drawing a blank here!” Ryuji recalled.

“Hey, something’s happening!” Makoto pointed to the monsters.

Once more civilians fled from the stadium, the Thieves were left open for the monsters to see. To the Thieves’ shock, the monsters ignored the fleeing civilians and set their sights exclusively on them. Roaring in unison, the monsters headed toward the Thieves.

“Uh, this doesn’t look good. Why are they only looking at us and no one else?!” Ann realized the monsters’ intent to kill was set on them.

“Have they figured out we’re the Phantom Thieves?!” Haru wondered out loud.

“I hate to say it, but better us than these innocent civilians getting hurt!” Makoto openly stated.

“Since none of us has access to the Metaverse, all we can do is run!” Morgana clarified to the group.

“Guys, we better out asses moving now!” Ryuji shouted. “Ren, let’s get everyone out of here!”

“This way!” Ren pointed toward the stairs. He ran up leading the group out to safety. In the back of his mind, he wished he and his friends had their Metaverse powers to fight these abominations. It has been nearly four years since the Phantom Thieves were last seen in the public eye.



Distorted Japanese House/Kanda (神田)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/5:50 PM (JST)

Still trapped inside the demonic house, the Shogi woman and the Revenant felt unrestrained energy materialize around them. This energy triggered the Revenant’s emotions, causing his eyes to turn red. The foreign energies became suffocating to Hifumi. It was Yokai energy, giving off volatile and dangerous vibes.

From this formless Yokai energy, two monstrosities materialized.

The first one is the Ogress, a monster with claw-like nails, wearing a kimono, long yellow horns on her forehead, and shaggy black hair.

The other abomination, the Queen’s Knight, was a much larger entity, a 7’0 foot tall obsidian armored behemoth. Its head has four massive spikes coming out of the sides of its face. Three smaller spikes protruding the crown of its head. It wielded a massive spiked sword, one side has red spikes and the other has faint bluish gray spikes. It also carried a shield. Additionally, it has a pair of wing-like daggers. Its small red glowing eyes scanned its newfound opponents to slay.

Panting with heavy breathing, Hifumi grimaced at the sight of the two monstrosities. “I can’t focus… just what are those creatures?”

Setting his sights on the two creatures, the red-eyed Revenant growled intensely, but mostly at the 7’0 foot tall armored giant.

“A Lost here?!” The Revenant yelled out, gnashing his teeth angrily.

“A Lost?” A bewildered Hifumi queried to the Revenant. “Is that what they are?”

“Just the giant. I can’t identify the other one,” he replied as the Ogress sinisterly chuckled toward him and Hifumi.

“Based on its appearance, it appears to be a demon,” Hifumi muttered.

“A demon?”

“More like a Yokai. They’re based on our country’s folklore.”

Wasting no time to spill some blood, the Ogress anxiously flew at them with her claws ready to skewer them. As the Revenant readied to fight back, Hifumi swiftly grabbed him and yanked him back from the Ogress’ attempted killing blow. Hifumi ran across the demonic dimension with the unnamed stranger. Growling in frustration, the Ogress pursued them. The Queen’s Knight hefted its spiked sword and sauntered close behind the Yokai.

As Hifumi and the mysterious youth outpaced the Ogress, Hifumi briefly conversed with the Revenant.

“You said you’re a Revenant. What is that? I saw your fangs. Are you a type of vampire? And what is a Lost?” She hit him with a barrage of questions he wasn’t prepared for.

Barely catching up, the stranger answered, “I’m a Revenant, but I’m not this vampire you speak of. And that giant with the sword is a Lost. They’re fiendish creatures I’ve fought from…my world.”

“Your world?” Hifumi was confused by this vague revelation. “Then, are you not from here?”

“Let’s hurry! That other creature is catching up!” The Revenant grabbed Hifumi’s hand and escorted her away.

“All I can say is I shouldn’t be in this world,” he muttered with despair. “A chain of events is happening.”

“What do you mean?”

Before Hifumi could get an answer, the Ogress deeply inhaled and expelled fire from her mouth. As Hifumi and the Revenant stopped at a dead end, the flames came forward to engulf them. Using the strength he could use, he pushed Hifumi away and ducked to avoid the flames. When they fell, she was right on top of him, her hand unknowingly touching the Revenant’s amber bead.

With luck, they survived a near death situation. However, loud footsteps emanated from the other side of the hallway. Stepping out from a corner, the Queen’s Knight found them and roared a beastly bellow. Lowly chuckling, the Ogress approached her victims.

“You can still fight, right?” Hifumi asked the Revenant, withdrawing her hand from the amber bead.

“I can, but I haven’t fully recovered since waking up.” He said, checking for the amber object he kept safely tucked inside his shirt. ‘But, I’ll protect us both… just stay behind me, Togo Hifumi.” He instinctively stood in front of Hifumi as if he were protecting one of his own kind. His red eyes scanned the Ogress and Queen’s Knight, the latter would be the harder foe to defeat.

Backing away, Hifumi meticulously eyes the demonic dimension. Realizing she was no longer in her family’s household, her mind raced while trying to comprehend all that just happened. Was this all real? She thought.

Hifumi heard the Revenant’s intense roar as he charged forward to fight the Ogress and Queen’s Knight with reckless abandon.





Ueno Park (上野公園,)/Taitō, Tokyo (台東区, 東京)/5:56 PM (JST)
A similar distortion opened up and released hostile energies into the vicinity. Witnessing the strange occurrence unfold before them, Yumeko and her two friends were initially confused about what this entailed. However, their worries were verified when a Yokai group materialized.

“Are you two seeing this?!” Ryōta alarmed his two friends.

“Monsters?! Here?!” Mary exclaimed like any sane person would when seeing supernatural entities in the same place.

However, Yumeko seemingly fell into a trance and grasped her bosom. “Those are real? Are we sure they aren’t special effects?”

Ryōta shook Yumeko’s shoulders. “Do you see any film crew here?! We need to get out of here!”

“If that’s the case, yes let’s go,” Yumeko nodded as she prepared to leave with her friends.

Several female Yokai, called Flying Bolts, in long cotton cloth covering their half-naked bodies materialized. Their pale-skinned figures were mostly naked with certain areas covered, namely around their bosoms, crotch & waistlines, and heavy bandaged layers all over the right leg. They had long black hair, black teeth, black sharp fingernails, and black long nails. White ethereal aura formed over them. They let out otherworldly sensual moans and giggled evilly.

Accompanying the Flying Bolts are samurai-armored, sword-wielding, white-faced, slender-necked Yokai called Rokurokubi.

Six tiny malnourished humanoid Yokai with sharp claws known as Gaki appeared.

Joining these demonic entities is a Kasha, a pale-skinned woman with long, back-length black hair, black-armored hands & claws, and a dark pink kimono exposing her front cleavage and her large breasts. A pair of glowing molten yellow cat ears, yellow cat eyes coupled with black sclera, and cat whiskers, making her a Yokai catgirl. Sitting on top of a pair of massive wheels imbued with glowing orange crystals, the Yokai produced a long whip imbued with fire, which she used to slap the ground with and unleashed an explosive trail of flames.

The Yokai turned their gaze on Yumeko and her friends. Locking eyes with the trio, a malevolent smirk crossed Kasha’s cat-like features and tossed her fiery whip at them. The whip created a fiery wall that interceded their escape route.

“Shit, they got us trapped!” Mary fearfully cried out.

“That demon cat lady’s got a fire whip! One hit from that and we’re goners!” Ryōta exclaimed.

“Cat lady?” Yumeko turned to meet Kasha’s gaze. Before she realized it, the Gaki surrounded her, Mary, and Ryōta. “Are these your friends?”

A fiendish smile formed on Kasha’s face as she prepared to make the three humans her own playthings. Kasha beckoned the Gaki, the Flying Bolts, and Rokurokubi to trap them.

Panicking, Mary screamed loudly. “Get back! What do you want with us?!”

“We’re really going to die here, are we?!” Ryōta cried out in fear of his and his friends’ lives.

“Hey!” Yumeko slapped a Gaki’s face. She then looked up at Kasha. “Tell your friends to keep their hands to themselves! Unless you want to play a game and if we win you let us go?”

“I doubt that’s going to work, Yumeko!” Ryōta yelled out, pulling her back from the Yokai.

On the other hand, Kasha has other plans for the trio. Readying her fiery whip, she watched her Yokai minions box the three humans in and threw her whip forward, forging a wall of flames that confined the trio.





Kichijōji, Tokyo (吉祥寺, 東京)/6:00 PM (JST)

A powerful and sudden tremor shook the prefecture, causing some panic. Many civilians were caught by surprise.

Falling on the floor, Sumire dropped her glasses. She then heard panicked cries from civilians and picked up her glasses.

“What’s going on now?” She wondered, seemingly forgetting that a tremor just occurred, but earthquakes were often a normal occurrence in Tokyo. She put her glasses back on.

Then, what she saw wasn’t a normal natural disaster. Seeing the crowds flee in terror, Sumire slowly propped herself from the floor. Lifting her head and eyes upward, she witnessed a group of Yokai and Lost appear in the vicinity.

Among the Yokai present: The Great Centipede, a large demon centipede with a skull-faced visage and giant mandibles with enough power to crush bones, folded its body over an infrastructure, but seemingly ignored the fleeing crowds.

Appearing with the demonic centipede is Joro-Gumo, a spider-woman with an upper woman’s body and a spider’s body with armored legs for the lower half.

Amassed around the Joro-Gumo are Yamanba, a group of short Yokai resembling old hags and carrying blood-stained knives.

Another Yokai that appeared spun around like a fiery tornado. As it stopped spinning around, the Enenra, a light gray-skinned creature with glowing red eyes and tusk jutting from its bottom mouth, appeared. Long black tendrils shaped over its head.

As if the Yokai pestilence wasn’t enough, a few Lost appeared.

Of the Lost, one among them led the rest, the Butterfly of Delirium, a half-naked woman with pinkish skin that wore next to nothing, except metallic golden armor covering her breasts, her lower abdomen & space between her legs, and footwear starting from the shin to the feet. Her white hair spiked up into tendril-like extensions. There were other tendrils that emerged from her back with purple spore-shaped ends. She has six 6’0 feet long purple butterfly wings, three on each side, granting her flight. A fat demonic head, doubling as her tail, poked out from her buttock area and opened its mouth full of sharp teeth.

In addition to the Butterfly, a fleet of masked humanoids garbed in gray garments, known as Euphoric Soldiers, appeared wielding either swords, axes, bayonets, and shields. All of them have one red eye glowing inside their masks.

Other Lost included two behemoths called Raging Noblewomen appeared. With similar builds like the Stonecrushers, they are more obese. They have on horned masks and two large tubes coming out of their backs.

Accompanying these warrior Lost are Dark Vampire Wolves, canines resembling large mutated hounds with gray skin and black-headed crests.

With her mind trying to process what he was seeing, Sumire choked out. “...monsters? They don’t look or feel like Shadows! They’re real…!” Before she can finish, one of the Dark Vampire Wolves growled toward her direction.

Once the wolf found Sumire, the other Lost and Yokai attentively faced Sumire’s direction. Sumire noted the creatures ignored the fleeing crowds and focused solitarily on her. It seemed they have no interest in other humans. Only she got their attention and she couldn’t comprehend why. Before she could further process what she was seeing, the wolf rushed in to snatch Sumire in its jaws.

Instinctively preparing to fight back, Sumire just then remembered she no longer has access to Mementos. Therefore, she no longer has access to the source to turn her into a Phantom Thief. Her mind snapped back to the reality of her situation. The wolf lunged at her ready to maul her. Closing her eyes, she prepared to accept her fate.

A few seconds later, Sumire reopened her eyes and found herself in someone’s arms. Her eyes scanned an arm folded over her. She looked up and recognized the face of her rescuer. Half expecting it to be Amamiya Ren, she was shocked to see someone she wouldn’t have expected to face again.

“How are you ok, Sumire? Or, would you prefer ‘Kasumi’?” A young man’s voice with an etiquette tone said, causing the red-haired woman to gaze into the red eyes of Goro Akechi.

Akechi looked relatively unchanged since the last Sumire saw him. She recognized his shaggy, chin-length brown hair. He wore a green vest and a white dress shirt, both under a brown buttoned coat, blue jeans, and brown loafers. He smiled down at Sumire, who crawled away from him.

“Akechi? B… how? How are you here?!”

Akechi’s smile faded as he faced the Lost and Yokai heading their way.

“I’m afraid I don’t have time to explain. You’re not the only one being pursued by these creatures. As soon as I came here, they chased me. Luckily, I gave them the slip.”

“What are they?”

“Who knows? Demons, I’d venture to guess.”

As Sumire stood, the Lost and Yokai cornered her and Akechi.

“I don’t know how you’re even here, but thank you,” Sumire expressed her gratitude to him saving her.

“Thank me later. Right now, we need to get out of here. Perhaps we can find Amamiya Ren and the others.”

Upon hearing Ren’s name, a distracted look formed on her face. She wouldn’t give to see Ren and the others again, but chances are she may not see them again.

“Stick with me, Sumire. I’ll get us to safety.”

“If we’re able…” She muttered as the monsters continued to corner her and Akechi.




Japan National Stadium (国立競技場)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/6:05 PM (JST)

While the civilians filed out of the exits, Ren and his friends fell behind the rest. As they spotted an exit, a pair of Snouted Wanderers and a group of Skeleton Warriors blocked their path. Other civilians were trapped with Ren’s group as well, but the monsters showed no interest in the civilians and kept their menacing gazes specifically on the former Phantom Thieves.

“Shit, we’re trapped!” Ryuji cursed.

“Hey, the rest of you find another way out!” Makoto called out, showing her badge to the civilians. “I’m a police officer! Do as I say and find the other exits! You will find exits! Help will be on the way!”

With that, the remaining civilians fled and searched for other exits. Left alone, the Thieves could now focus on the Lost and Yokai presence. As if the situation couldn’t get worse, the Insatiable Despot, Enki, and Ippon-Datara appeared behind Ren’s group.

“And we have no way out,” Makoto muttered.

“At least you helped get those people out of here,” Haru said. “Still, this is not how I want to die!” She fearfully cried out.

“No, this can’t be the end of the road for us,” Morgana refused to accept this to be their fate. “Stay close to me, Lady Ann!”

“And protect me? No offense, there’s no way you can handle these things,” Ann gulped as she and Ren had their backs against the other.

Before the monsters prepared to slaughter Ren’s group, a surge of red light quickly enveloped the group. When the monsters closed in, the raw energies repelled them. Surprised at this turn of events, Ren’s group was baffled as to what could’ve possibly saved them. Although the energy seemed similar to the power that summoned these monsters, this came from an entirely different source and saved them.

Closing his eyes, Ren remembered Lavenza’s words as they burned inside his mind.

"...You are held captive. A prisoner of fate to a future that has been sealed in advance. This is truly an unjust game... Your chances of winning are almost none. But if my voice is reaching you, there may yet be a possibility open to you... ...I beg you. Please overcome this game... and save the world... The key to victory lies within the memories of your bonds—the truth that you and your friends grasped. It all began that day... when the game was started half a year ago... For the sake of your world's future... as well as your own... you must remember..."

These words resurfaced as a reminder to Ren and company’s early days being vigilantes that went against the corrupted system to give society its freedom. Now, these vestiges returned to Ren and his friends’ minds, restoring the masks they once wore and granting them access to their Metaverse powers again.

As the crimson light diminished, Ren and his friends were gone. In their place, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts resurfaced in their full glory. Their masks and outfits returned to them. Upon realizing they were Phantom Thieves again, the awestruck group was pleasantly shocked.

Their leader, Ren, became Joker again. The trickster had on his stylish black ankle-length tailcoat, the high-necked waistcoat with the yellow accents, black pants, the dark brown winkle picker shoes, and the red gloves. His black and white domino mask shaped like a bird’s face resurfaced on his face, concealing most of his face, but his intense gaze and confident flare beamed through. Joker readily brandished his Paradise Lost dagger and Tyrant Pistol.

Behind Joker is his Persona, Raoul, a sleek-looking, fiendish-looking gentleman garbed in a lavish bright red suit & hat, a pin-striped blue dress shirt & black tie underneath, black pants, and black & yellow sharp-edged, high-heeled shoes. A pair of dark gray metal, demonic wings adorned the gentleman thief’s back.

Ryuji became Skull. Skull had on his black jacket and pants coupled with knee pads. He also had on his red ascot, combat boots, and yellow gloves. The skull mask resurfaced over his face, concealing all but his eyes and mouth. Skull wielded his Ruyi Jingu Bang mace and Megido Fire shotgun.

Behind Skull is his Persona, William, a skull-masked pirate garbed in a sleek black and yellow leather coat with long back coattails, black pants, and black & yellow tennis shoes. Riding on what looks like a silver aerial battleship, the figure carried a massive laser gun into battle.

Morgana became Mona. The cat regained his original anthropomorphic, bipedal tuxedo cat-like appearance. While his body was predominantly black, his limbs, tail, and the bottom front half of his face was white. Fitting the majority of his face is a mask, revealing his elliptic eyes that have white sclera, blue irises, and black pupils. A yellow scarf tied around his neck. He also carried a utility belt around his hips. Mona held both his Claiomh Solais scimitar and Sudarshana slingshot.

Behind Mona is his Persona, Diego, a nobleman swordsman with a robust upper body frame and a slimmer lower half. The nobleman had on a long-sleeved white dress shirt with large sleeve cuffs with turquoise patches and elaborate designs over it. The Persona also has on turquoise gloves, dark blue jeans coupled with a large silver belt buckle centered on top of a brown waist belt, light brown boots, a black mask coupled with a dark blue long bandana, a dark blue rose on the chest, and two horizontal protrusions sticking outward on both ends of the face. He pulled out a rapier sword and readied it for combat.

Ann resumed her identity as Panther. Panther once again donned her skintight red latex catsuit. The catsuit had its cleavage cutout and zippers intact. Coupled with the catsuit, the red panther mask materialized over her face. Pink gloves, dark red high-heel boots, and a clipped tail completed her sultry Phantom Thief suit. Panther brandished the Naraka Whip and Wild Hunt submachine gun.

Behind Panther is her Persona, Celestine, a woman with bright pink skin and garbed in skintight black upper attire, including a black crop top and matching colored latex booty shorts. Strapped across the booty shorts are two white leather belts with full red lips centered over them. The woman’s left leg is covered in a knee high pink and black pinstriped sock. Her right leg is covered in a knee high solid dark pink sock. Celestine’s footwear is leather black high-heeled shoes. She also has on a leather black coat and black gloves. A black hat with long ears adorned Celestine’s head, covering her red hair. However, the hat wasn’t large enough to conceal the long braided bright red pigtails that doubled as nooses, hanging a strange-looking Chippendale dummy with a round black head. Another Chippendale sat hunched on all fours, providing itself as Celestine’s personal footstool.

Yusuke became Fox. Fox wore his black high-collared and puff-sleeved jumpsuit, white motorcycle-style boots, and bright blue gloves. Other accessories consisted of a white fox tail on his bottom jumpsuit, a striped sash worn across his hips, and a traditional Japanese kitsune-style half mask. Fox readied both his Usumidori katana and Heaven's Gate assault rifle.

Behind Fox is his Persona, Gorokichi, a metal-faced male humanoid with a bubblegum blue pompadour with red accents and neon-colored clothes. Long, outlandish red shades with sharp edges covered up the eyes. Gorokichi has on a thick leopard-style coat trimmed with bright pink fur. Underneath the thick leopard coat, the flashy Persona wore a see through mesh shirt, black skinny leather pants, and high-heeled platform shoes. Centered on the Persona’s chest is a golden chain with a ‘5’ on it. The Persona held a long metal blunt, which it inhaled before giving a few huffs and spewing smoke.

Makoto regained her Queen status. The dark blue and black skin tight suit formed over Makoto. Her Phantom Thief outfit also gained its long black scarf, a dark gray corset-style breast armor, shoulder & knee pads with spikes. She has boots with metal heels and toes. Clenching her fists, her hands are fitted in white gloves. Her iron mask reformed on her face. Queen readied her Sabazois knuckles and Judge of the Dead revolver.

Beside Queen is her Persona, Agnes, a steel black motorbike imbued with brilliant golden embellishments and armored guards. Adorning the hood of the motorbike is a golden statue head of the legendary Pope Joan. The head of the statue head has wings like an angel’s, a clear indicator of this pope’s status as a holy woman serving God. The front section of the motorbike has a golden guard, giving it and its rider protection. Inside the motorbike is a slot with a sizable seat for its Queen.

Futaba became Oracle. She regained her skintight fluorescent neon green striped bodysuit and matching black boots with neon green soles. Doubling as her mask, Oracle had on her large black goggles with orange lenses.

Oracle was inside her Persona, Al Azif, a triangular-bodied silver spaceship with four smaller green triangular embellishments on its surface, including a larger-sized one centered on the top side, giving it a somewhat pyramid-like shape.

Finally, Haru regained her Noir status. She has on her long-sleeved pale pink blouse with a white neck jabot, a black corset vest with golden buttons, bloomers matching her royal purple hatband, black pantyhose, a holster belt carrying her ammo. Adorning her curly hair is a dark purple cavalier hat with a single feather plume tucked into her hatband. Her hands are fitted inside black and violet gloves. A dark and violet mask materialized over her face. Noir is wielding the Fleurs du Mal ax and Yagrush grenade launcher.

Behind Noir is her Persona, Lucy, a vague-looking shadow woman concealed underneath a large, thick caramel-colored dress coat with large, round golden buttons and black & purple dress sides. She has on a neck scarf tied, also covering her head, consisting of varying striped colors: blue, purple, rose, lavender, and hot pink. Her main accessory is white shades with red lenses. Adorning the top of her head is a yellow cloth. In her left hand, Lucy carried a metal gray briefcase.

Futaba was the first to break the unending silence. “No way! This is for real?!” She then noticed her short hair not only became long, back-length, but regained the dyed orange she once had.

Likewise, Ryuji noticed his blonde hair returned. “Dudes, how did we not see this coming?! My hair and goatee are back to the color I had before!”

The group let the realization sink in.

The Phantom Thieves have returned.

“I can’t believe it,” Fox was awestruck.

“We’re in our Metaverse forms again!” Noir realized.

“And I’m me again?!” Mona cried out in joy over the return of his Metaverse appearance. “But, hold on a minute! The Metaverse was supposed to be gone completely now!”

“Moreover, our Personas are in their third awakened Ultimate states!” Panther exclaimed. “They didn’t reset back to their original states like last time!”

“I don’t know how these monsters got here, but that strange energy we saw wasn’t directly from the Metaverse,” Queen assessed the monsters with keen observation.

Readying his Tyrant Pistol, Joker coldly scowled toward the creatures. “It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad to be out of retirement.” The scowl on his face turned into a sinister grin. “Now, I’m feeling fired up. After all we’ve faced and beaten, including Yaldabaoth, these things look like a piece of cake to me!” With a hand wave, he readily beckoned Raoul forward to confront the Lost and Yokai.

“Hell yeah, man! Let’s kick their ass straight out here!” Skull boasted, calling forth William in front of him.

Mona rolled his eyes. “Still, full of yourself, aren’t you, Skull?”

“Here they come!” Panther called out, bringing down her whip to the ground with a loud thack. “Ready to show these things the door, Celestine?!” She raised a hand and pointed to their enemies.

At that moment, a fierce battle erupted. The Phantom Thieves and their Personas fended off the Lost and Yokai entities. Before the Thieves landed their attacks, Oracle boosted her party members, greatly enhancing their speed.

“Here we go! Speed up!” Oracle announced from within Al Azif.

“Treat them like you would any Shadow!” Joker charged, slashing through two ax-wielding Shamed Thralls with his Paradise Lost dagger and beheaded an Onryoki. Turning his Tyrant Pistol, he shot down several Skeleton Warriors. A sword-wielding Shamed Thrall ran at the Phantom Thief leader, but quickly fell to pistol shots. When an Onyroki snuck up behind him, Mona jumped in and slingshotted the creature’s face.

“You totally owe me for that save!” Mona proudly cried out.

Wearing a sly grin on his face, Joker shoved his dagger through the Onryoki’s belly, slicing through and opening up its intestines. Upon seeing this grisly scene, Joker averted his nose from the putrid smell from the Yokai’s intestines.

“So, they are real. This changes some things,” Joker verified the nature of these beasts. He then called out to the other Thieves. “Just a heads up, they’re real monsters, but don’t let that hold you back!”

The gravely injured Onryoki slapped Joker away with its claw. Upon landing on his feet, Joker recovered and shook off the direct hit he took from the Yokai.

“Now, you’ve done it!” Joker raised a hand, beckoning Raoul to do his deed. “Go! Raoul!”

Raoul lifted a hand and conjured a projection of the full moon over Onryoki, a few Skeleton Axemen, and Snouted Wanderers. The moon’s light cast a sleeping spell, known as Phantom Show, on the group of Yokai and Lost monsters.

“Now ravage them!” Joker commanded as Raoul unleashed red beams that tore into and cleansed the creatures away.

When a Stonecrusher and several Yoki charged at Joker, the Phantom Thief rushed at the Yoki first. Switching between his dagger and pistol, he slashed apart and fired holes through the Yoki. As he approached the Stonecrusher, the rotund behemoth swung its massive sword over him.

“Come forth, Satanael!” Joker called and evaded Stonecrusher’s crushing force.

A burst of blue flames came shooting out from his mask, conjuring a large demonic entity. Towering behind Joker, the 10-foot tall archangel materialized with six black fallen angel wings. It was downscaled compared to its gargantuan presence in the final phase of the Yaldabaoth battle. Two sets of horns adorned the demon’s head. Two horns curved outward at the front while the other pair of horns poked out of the back of its head. Its arms, covered in black armor coupled with a red cloth strapped over the right side of its body, were conjoined with two massive shoulder armor. Its legs are long and almost disappointed with the rest of its upper body. Despite its human-like face, Satanael’s red eyes gave it an otherworldly and demonic aura, differentiating it from a mortal man. The front part of its face is covered by a mask resembling the top and front part of a skull’s face.

Lifting its right arm, the archangel readied its Riot Gun. Satanael painstakingly faced the Stonecrusher. It then fired Riot Gun from its pistol to blow a hole through the Lost creature. Skewered, maimed bodies and monsters full of bullet holes covered the area until all of them dissolved into a mix of red and black dust.

Skull and Fox faced off against a pair of cleaver-wielding Namahage. Swinging their cleavers at the Phantom Thieves, the duo casually evaded. Using Gorokichi, Fox’s Persona cast Myriad Blooms to increase his and Skull’s attack and defense stats.

Fox unleashed Bufudyne, freezing one of the Namahage. Using his katana, Fox then stabbed one Namahage’s forehead and sliced through its brain. He then brutally slashed its face open, leaving it to drop dead.

Skull dodged the other Namahage’s cleaver and smashed its face with his mace. He then beckoned his Persona for him to blast away the Namahage with Megaton Raid.

Just then, the Enki roared and charged at Skull.

“Look out, Skull!” Fox called out as a hammer-wielding Shamed Thrall blocked his path.

Already well ahead of the Enki’s approach, Skull beckoned William to stop the Yokai monkey’s spear. As William gave him Soul Injection, a greatly enhanced Skull quickly fired shots into the Enki’s hide. As the monkey’s forehead horn glowed, it fired a blast from the crystallized protrusion. Narrowly dodging, Skull climbed up the monkey’s back and smashed its horn with his mace.

William then finished off the Enki with his laser gun.

“Hell yeah! Now we’re fired up, William!” Skull boasted.

In quick succession, Fox and Gorokichi finished off the Shamed Thrall.

“That was easier than cleaning my brushes,” Fox whimsically remarked.

On the opposite side of the arena, a group of Lost, three Onryoki, and an Ippon Datara surrounded Mona and Panther. The Thieves nodded to each other and beckoned their Personas to assist them. Utilizing Magarudyne, Mona blasted away some Snouted Wanderers and Shamed Thralls. Brandishing his rapier, Diego used Miracle Rush, skewering two Onryoki and Shamed Thralls.

Turning over to Panther, Mona smiled. “Alright, Panther!”

Bringing down her whip, Panther unleashed a wave of flames. As Celestine empowered her with High Tension, the red leather clad Thief quickly wiped out the last Onryoki and Lost with Blazing Hell.

Just then, the Ippon-Datara stepped in to face Panther and Mona.

“This looks like a job for our Personas, Panther,” Mona suggested, eliciting a nod from the red leather clad woman.

“Dance, Celestine!” Panther beckoned her Persona to assist Diego against the large hammer-wielding Yokai.

Diego briefly engaged Ippon-Datara with his rapier. Ippon-Datara tried to keep up, but the more skilled swordsman outdid the Yokai and slashed it with quick and successive strikes. When the Yokai fought back, Celestine stepped in and helped Diego dismember Ippon-Datara with attacks.

“Wow, Panther!” Mona chimed in Panther winked at him.

“That’ll show them!” She added with a peace sign.

Noir and Queen faced incoming monsters from encompassing directions. Several Skeleton Warriors, Snouted Wanderers, and a Stonecrusher. The duo quickly split up to take the remaining monsters.

Several Skeleton Warriors attacked Noir. Evading their strikes, Noir cut beheaded and disarmed them with her ax. At one point, she split a Skeleton Warrior’s skull in two with her ax.

When several Snouted Wanderers ambushed Noir, Lucy conjured Life Wall to guard Noir. As Lucy occupied the Lost, Noir obliterated the monsters with Psiodyne.

“There’s a big one heading our way, Queen!” Noir called out to her Thief colleague, who was already revving up Agnes.

“I’m on it!” Queen faced the Stonecrusher. “You’re a big one, but can you handle my fists of justice?” She drove Agnes forward. A group of Yokai and Lost barricaded the Stonecrusher, but that didn’t stop Queen and her Persona hitting them with Checkmate, not only decreasing their attack and defense powers but also running them down like roadkill.

Hefting its sword, Stonecrusher dropped its heavy sword down, which Queen and Agnes narrowly evaded at the last second. Spinning Agnes around, Queen spotted a platform as an idea came to her. She drove her Persona toward the ramp and launched high into the air. Hopping off her Persona, the Thief somersaulted over the Stonecrusher. She then came down and delivered a combo of punches and a kick to the Lost’s face, knocking it down to its knees.

With her ax, Noir crippled the back of the Stonecrusher’s knees. Queen then finished the Lost with a Freidyne, annihilating the monster as its blood-curdling bellows rang out.

Landing on her feet, Queen inhaled and sighed, recognizing she just killed a real creature.

“Ok, so that was an actual monster. Not a Shadow, but what difference does it make? It was trying to kill us,” Queen muttered.

Noir patted Queen’s back. “Yes, this is something new for us, but we’ll deal with it.”

“Yeah…” Queen then turned and gasped when the Insatiable Despot methodically paced toward them.

Calling Raoul and Satanael over, Joker confronted the largest threat out of the monsters. Put off by its menacing grin, the Phantom Thief rushed ahead and fired pistol shots. The Despot evaded the shots and raised a hand, summoning a red circle beneath Joker’s feet. Seeing this, Joker jumped out of the way and saw a red crystal materialize. Seeing a Lost creature forming inside this crystal, Joker fired a pistol shot and shattered the crystal into pieces, ceasing the Lost’s development.

Suddenly, the Despot jumped in front of Joker, knocking the Phantom Thief back. Responding to the Thief’s plight, Raoul intercepted a spinning attack from the Lost. Satanael blasted the Despot with Cosmic Flare.

Getting up to his feet, Joker favored his side.

“I could use a boost, Oracle.”

“I gotcha, bro!” Oracle chimed in as she restored his physical condition. “And I’ve boosted your defenses! Get ‘em, Joker!”

Joker coolly smirked. “Thanks. Alright, let’s end this, Raoul!” He directed Persona to end the battle.

Going for another spinning attack, the Despot slammed into Raoul. The Persona halted the Lost and cast a sleeping spell.

“Get ready, everyone!” Joker beckoned the other Thieves.

“Time for a beatdown!” Oracle announced as she joined in with the Phantom Thieves and unleashed an All-Out Attack on the Despot.

Following the Thieves’ ultimate beatdown, the Despot’s body became consumed by blue flames and collapsed. Its burning body buckled and exploded into black dust.

“That’s all of them,” Queen scanned the empty arena.

“I can’t believe we just killed real monsters, yo,” Skull pointed out the sentient nature of these next enemies.

“Definitely real,” Noir suggested.

“Well, they at least dissolve when they die. So, good thing we don’t leave corpses behind,” Mona acknowledged the similarities with Shadows.

“But, regular people were able to see the monsters. On top of that, we just fought physical entities. Clearly, they’re not cognitive beings from the Metaverse.” Fox stated.

Mona nodded. “Right, the Metaverse is gone now. Who knows where these things might’ve come from?”

Suddenly, they heard crowds of people outside the arena cheering the Thieves on big screen monitors. The group turned to each other.

“We better get out of here. We’ll talk more about our enemies somewhere these people can’t find us,” Mona suggested as they vanished in a veil of smoke.





Kichijōji, Tokyo (吉祥寺, 東京)/6:15 PM (JST)

Akechi and Sumire were cornered by the Lost and Yokai. Finding themselves with no way out, they resigned to their inevitable fates.

That is until an unknown source of energy stirred within them. Two beams of light flashed over their faces, blindsiding the creatures. Akechi and Sumire saw masks materialize over their faces. Caressing their masked faces, their apprehensive demeanors changed. Their steely eyes glared at the monsters.

Exchanging firm gazes, Akechi and Sumire realized their masks meant the return of their Metaverse-based powers. However, with the Metaverse gone, they briefly wondered how their powers became accessible again.

“How is this possible?” Sumire wondered about this.

“We can ask questions later. We still have them to deal with!” Akechi answered as they both faced their opposition.

Seizing the moment to strike, Great Centipede launched at Akechi and Sumire. A burst of blue flames formed in front of the two and repelled the demonic centipede. The other Yokai and Lost tried to intervene, but the flames pushed them away.

A veil of translucent light enveloped Sumire, cleansing her body of her clothes and leaving in a nude state. Then, numerous rings of blue flames coalesced all over her body, creating a new set of clothing out of thin air. Undergoing a transformation reminiscent of a magical girl, a new set of outfitted clothing materialized over her. Sumire recognized her black mask with the silver accents. She was outfitted in a strapless black leotard coupled with a chain belt with two silver rose motifs, a black choker, and red gloves. She also has on black bolero jacket with golden buttons, ruffled sleeves, and three floor-length coattails. Thigh-length hose covered most of her legs. Her footwear is stiletto-heels that resemble ballet shoes. Upon placing a hand over her mask, she removed her glasses and pulled up her long hair, tying it into a ponytail with a black ribbon. A scabbard then materialized in front of her. Grabbing the scabbard, Sumire pulled her Sword of Sinai rapier out of it and brandished her weapon, alongside her Sahasrara rifle. Sumire has once again donned her Violet guise.

Next to Violet is her Persona, Ella, a tall pale and pristine-looking woman with a resemblance to Cinderella, even using Cinderella’s real name based on adaptations of the story. Her body is stainless and clear like glass. The Persona has on a waist-length white dress and thigh-length glass legwear with stiletto-heel ice skates. A long back-length veil, doubling for hair, cascaded down her back. A white-flowered headdress shaped the Persona’s crown. In her left hand, Ella carried a bouquet of white flowers.

Once again donning his Crow garb, Akechi was outfitted in a black and blue-striped full-bodied outfit. Several black belts are strapped to his arms and legs. A dark knight helmet enclosed over his head with a red mask resembling a sharp beak. His outfit gave off a chaotic vibe, matching his previous lack of agency. It contrasted his old princely outfit that not only gave a heroic aura but masked his true character and intentions. Behind his mask, his steely gaze met the Lost and Yokai with intense ferocity. Crow wielded both his Hinokagutsuchi laser sword and Doomsday ray gun.

Next to Crow is his Persona, Hereward, a massive black-bodied humanoid with a burly upper body built. The Persona’s head in contrast to its upper body size was disproportionately smaller. Bat-shaped wings adorned the sides of Hereward’s head. Hereward opened up its sharp red eyes, using them to scan the enemy monsters. In its right hand, the Persona carried a long steel compound bow and a dark gray arrow. A pair of knee-length dark gray boots made up the footwear. Adorning its waist is a black waist belt with a pair of black hip quivers.

The Lost and Yokai erratically became drawn to Violet and Crow’s powers. Having seen their Persona materialize, the creatures launched an attack on the two Phantom Thieves.

“Shall we?” Crow queried.

Quickly drawing out her rapier, Violet pointed it at the Lost and Yokai’s direction. “Shall we go, Ella?!” She and her Persona performed a ballet duet

Crow beckoned his Persona. “Let’s deliver justice, Hereward!”

With that, the two Phantom Thieves and their Personas quickly fended off the Lost and Yokai, first eradicating the lower-level Yokai. Half of the Yamanba fell to Violet and Crow’s swift attacks. Violet skewered a few with her rapier. Crow slashed away some with his serrated swords.

Several Euphoric Soldiers rushed at Crow and Violet. As a sword-wielding Soldier attacked the duo, Crow intercepted the Lost and delivered a double slash, cutting up the creature as it screeched and dissolved into dust. An ax-wielding Euphoric Soldier swung at Crow. Violet quickly stepped in and shoved her rapier through the ax-wielding monster’s back. She twisted and slid her rapier’s blade through the Lost’s body, bisecting it into two halves. Then, a bayonet-wielding Euphoric Soldier and a shield-wielding one attacked Crow and Violet. The two Phantom Thieves fought off the Lost.

The other Yokai and Lost surrounded Hereward and Ella. Despite being completely outnumbered, the Personas managed to stand their ground. Hearing the beckoning of their Phantom Thief wielders, Hereward and Ella fended them off.

Joro-Gumo rushed at Ella first, but the ballet dancer performed a backflip and used Masquerade. She sliced through spider woman with her ice skate’s blades. After quickly splitting the Yokai spider in two, Ella was quickly knocked back by Enenra’s spinning body tornado. Enenra tried another fiery tornado attack, but Ella tossed her bouquet at the Yokai. The bouquet exploded, obliterating Enenra completely.

Escorted by the two Raging Noblewomen with hunting dogs, a pack of Dark Vampire Wolves lunged at Hereward. Hereward quickly readied and fired an arrow, quickly wiping out the wolf pack. One of the Noblewomen raised and swung its giant hammer over Hereward. Evading a direct attack, Hereward struck the rotund Lost with Rebel’s Blade. However, the Noblewoman kept coming. Another blow from Hereward’s attack ended it.

Shifting sights on Crow and Violet, the other Raging Noblewoman headed them off. Lifting her hammer over them, the Noblewoman prepared to pound them like ground beef. Seeing the attack coming, the Phantom Thieves narrowly dodged the hammer coming down on them quickly. Rolling over to the Noblewoman’s left side, Violet slashed the back of the rotund creature’s right leg. Rapidly swinging his serrated swords, Crow took out the other leg. Once bringing down the obese monster, Ella quickly beheaded the creature with his skate blades.

As the last Noblewoman collapsed in a heap, its massive body dissolved. Taking advantage of the distracted Thieves, the Butterfly of Delirium quickly dove and unleashed five purple projectiles at them.

“Look out!” Crow pointed to the incoming projectiles targeting them.

Taking heed of his warning, Violet rolled away as the projectiles released a purple poisonous mist that blanketed the vicinity. Evading contact with the poison, the Thieves set their sights upward as the winged behemoth roared above them. They also heard the bellow from the Great Centipede. Launching forward for a powerful bite, the Thieves narrowly evaded getting caught in massive pincers.

“That was close!” Violet cried out, taking in deep breaths from all the running and evading. At any given moment, they came close to meeting their fates.

“I know, but we still have our Personas at their absolute peak. We can’t lose to these monstrosities!” Crow boasted, doing his best to lift Violet’s spirits.

As the Great Centipede turned around, it sprayed a poisonous ball at the Thieves. They dodged the putrid ball as it landed near a vehicle and melted it down. Watching the car melt down into goo, they realized that could’ve been them. The fact these were real physical monsters and not cognitions became an eye opener to them.

“Despite the fact they’re real monsters, we must slay them as if they are Shadows,” Crow reminded them.

“Yes,” Violet nodded, the shock etched on her face was replaced with resolve. She beckoned to her Persona. “Ella!”

“Hereward, show them no mercy!” Crow called out.

Heeding the call from their respective summoners, the Personas turned loose on the Butterfly of Delirium and the Great Centipede.

When the Butterfly swooped down with a tail swing, Hereward dodged and readied an arrow. The winged Lost quickly took to the air and landed a double hit strike. Absorbing the impact from the Butterfly’s front attacks, Hereward punched the Butterfly away. Rebounding from Hereward’s blow, a whirlwind attack from the Butterfly knocked Hereward down.

“Stand up, Hereward!” Crow shouted.

Standing up, Hereward watched the Butterfly lift its tail and fired a purple beam. Hereward dodged backward and waited for the beam to fade. Then, Hereward quickly sensed the Butterfly flying from the left. Almost taking Hereward with a surprise attack, the winged Lost prepared to shroud herself and Hereward with a poisonous mist.

“End it,” intensely gritted Crow as Hereward fired and plunged an arrow through the Butterfly’s torso, killing it as its body dissolved into black mist.

The Great Centipede collided head on with Ella. The Persona kicked her skates into the centipede Lost’s face. Ella shoved her skate blades into the centipedes’ vehicle crushing mandibles.

“Break its defenses, Ella!” Violet called out to her Persona.

Kicking both feet up, Ella’s ice skate blades broke off the Great Centipede’s mandibles. Despite losing its second set of jaws, the Great Centipede’s primary mouth expelled a large rock. Ella performed a ballerina dance and kicked her left foot up, shattering the rock into pieces. Skating toward the Great Centipede’s right side, Ella landed another kick and broke off segments of the Yokai’s armored body.

“Let’s finish this performance!” Violet declared, watching her Persona somersault high into the air.

Recovering from Ella’s attack, the Great Centipede met its end when the Persona dropped down and crushed its head with her ice skate’s blades. Delivering a crushing blow, Ella took a bow to her dance partner Violet.

With the Lost and Yokai removed, the Personas returned to their summoners and vanished.

While trying to take in everything they experienced, Violet and Crow exchanged bewildered looks. They never thought they’d be called back into action to deal with otherworldly entities.

Before either Thief could try to answer each other’s questions, sirens from the police were heard. Knowing they’ll be confronted by the police, the two Thieves bolted off into hiding to undo their superpowered forms.

Upon entering an empty alleyway, they had time to recover from the life and death battle.

“It has been a while, hasn’t it?” Crow half-chuckled, modestly smiling to Violet.

After a few deep breaths, Violet shut her eyes and sighed. “Too long. What were those things? They were too real! Even people were able to see them!”

“Who knows, but they’re clearly not Shadows and there’s no Metaverse anymore. In other words, these monsters had to come from a different source.”

“And you don’t know?”

“I’m afraid not. I think this is where we go and see the Phantom Thieves. Surely monsters were sent to attack them.”

Hearing this, Violet’s eyes softened. “You know, these monsters only attacked us. They didn’t even pay attention to the civilians. Why just us?”

“Probably whoever sent these creatures programmed them to specifically hunt us. If that’s true, the Phantom Thieves are in trouble.”

Clasping a hand over her chest, she smiled. “I do want to see Ren-senpai and his friends again.”

“Don’t we both? So, how about we surprise him and the others?” Crow nodded.

“Yes, let’s see them.”




Distorted Japanese House/Kanda (神田)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/6:20 PM (JST)

Gliding forward headlong at Hifumi and the Revenant, the Ogress attacked again. In response, the Revenant conjured a long single-edged, one-handed sword. With a swing, the Revenant narrowly missed the Ogress, reeling from disorientation after waking up. The Ogress tried to attack again, but the Revenant invoked a power. “Taste the power of my Queenslayer.” With it, he produced Frenzied Fire, a dark projectile, that repelled and damaged the Ogress.

“What was that?!” Observing from the sideline, Hifumi was taken aback with the Revenant’s ability to conjure ‘magic’ of some kind.

“This? Queenslayer is my Blood Code. It grants me access to my Gifts. What you saw was my Gift called Frenzied Fire. It can do other things like equipping my weapons and Blood Veils.” Clarified the Revenant, eyeing the Queen’s Knight biding its time until the Ogress can inflict damage to them.

“Blood Veils?” She tried to follow everything he said, but could make out a few names despite their language barrier.

“Watch,” the Revenant watched the Ogress floating off the ground. With his eyes glowing red, something materialized from his coat and crawled over his right arm. His right arm quickly converted into a dark armored demonic-looking limb with his fingers becoming red and black claws. “And this is one of my Blood Veils: the Ogre-Type Blood Veil!” He rushed at the Ogress steadfast and went for a killing blow, attempting to shove his demonic-looking hand through the Yokai.

Just when the Yokai quickly dodged, the Revenant still managed to run his claws through the Ogress’ side. Having waited long enough, the Queen’s Knight rushed at the Revenant and brought down its spiked sword. Quickly lifting his Queenslayer’s Blade, the Revenant guarded himself and Hifumi against the Lost’s reach. He delivered a quick slash over the giant’s right leg, but the Knight guarded its leg with its shield. The Knight then kicked the Revenant hard and knocked him into a wall.

“No!” Hifumi cried out. As she ran to him, the Ogress quickly seized her right arm. Hifumi tried prying her hand from the Ogress’ grip, but the Yokai tightened its grip around Hifumi’s wrist. Slowly coming to and seeing Hifumi in danger, the Revenant instinctively stood, but stumbled forward and doubled over.

“Hifumi…!” He called, but the Queen’s Knight charged toward his path again. When the Knight swung down the red side of its spiked sword, the Revenant performed a quick barrel roll, letting the behemoth’s sword obliterate a table in his place. He then activated another Gift and conjured a healing ability called Cleansing Light to repair his bodily damage. Facing the Queen’s Knight, he ran swinging his Queenslayer’s Blade while striking its front legs. After taking out its knees, the Revenant faced Hifumi, who was held captive by the Ogress with its claws to her throat.

“Help me…” Hifumi muttered, her voice strained from fear of the Yokai slitting her throat.

“Don’t move!” The Revenant called out to her.

The woman closed her eyes and prayed in thought. Waiting for her demise to happen, the exact opposite occurred when a beam of energy quickly engulfed her and the Revenant. The mysterious veil of amber energy repelled the Ogress, saving Hifumi’s life.

Seeing them both covered in the same white veil, the Revenant pondered. “What the hell is happening here?” He realized and gazed at the source of the amber light: the amber bead. It glowed, pulsating in conjunction with the amber aura shrouding Hifumi, who was clueless what this entailed.

“Tell me what this means,” Hifumi queried for a clear answer from the Revenant.

He faced her and answered. “My bead! You touched it, didn’t you?!”

“Yes, when we fell, my hand slipped over it.” She eyed the glowing amber bead and gasped. “What is this supposed to signify?”

“This is the Blood Bead that contains Io’s essence,” the Revenant replied, eyeing both the amber bead and Hifumi. “If you touched it, then you’ve absorbed all of her blood from this Blood Bead!”

Realizing this, Hifumi cried out. “What?! Can’t you get it out of me?!”

“I-I can’t… I...” Before he could finish, Hifumi sensed something within her burning. Grinding her teeth, she let out an intense cry. Covering her from head to toe, the Blood Bead’s power coursed through Hifumi, changing her outward appearance. “Hifumi!”

Doubling over, Hifumi cried out and folded her arms across her chest. Something metal quickly materialized over her nose and mouth area. The male Revenant recognized a similar mask he wore covering Hifumi’s face. Hifumi’s green eyes then turned bright gold. Then, the amber veil spread over Hifumi, changing her entire wardrobe.

As the Ogress and Queen’s Knight recovered, the Revenant brandished his Queenslayer Blade. In his right hand, a second weapon materialized: a curved, single-edged blade forged after a katana. Engraved on the blade is named Hanemukuro, seemingly once the property of someone else before this young man took it. Turning to face the two monsters, the Revenant beckoned them off. “Between my Queenslayer Blade and Hanemukuro, you don’t want to cross me!” He quickly faced Hifumi, whose outward clothing changed completely.

With the amber aura fading, Hifumi’s new appearance was revealed. Hifumi’s new wardrobe consisted of a cyan sleeveless dress. The centermost section of her dress cut into a v-shape, revealing some of her bosom. Thick white straps intersected each other and covered the v-shape section where her bare bosom was exposed. Layers of white bandages covered her waist coupled with a black waist belt. Two forearm-length arm warmer accessories formed on her arms, revealing her bare shoulders and her hands. Her hands, coming out the mouth of the arm warmers, revealed cyan fingernails. Two tufts of white-feathered accessories came down her back. New footwear, a pair of white sandals with intersecting cyan straps, formed over her bare feet. Her pedicure nails matched color as her fingernails and dress. Her red hair accessory is retained.

Opening her eyes, her eyes turned green again. As she regained her bearings, she scanned over her new form and was left bewildered.

“Am I really wearing these?” She touched her new wardrobe wear. “Yes, this is real.” She then ran her hands over the mask covering her mouth. “And I have a mouthguard like yours?” She turned to the male Revenant, who was just as astonished at the sight of Hifumi in Revenant-like wear.

“Your form has taken some of Io’s characteristics.”

Much to her surprise, Hifumi heard the Revenant speaking to her in her native tongue. “You can speak my language now?!”

“What? I don’t know what…” He realized he was speaking Japanese to her. “What did I just say?” He muttered in his tongue in befuddlement. “Did Io’s Blood Bead do this…?”

Before he could say anything more, the Ogress and Queen’s Knight became drawn to Hifumi’s new power. As they went to attack her, the male Revenant interceded the Knight’s path and delivered a double slash with both swords. The Ogress managed to slip by to attack Hifumi.

“HIFUMI!” The Revenant cried out to her while fending off the Lost.

As the Ogress expelled fire at Hifumi, the Shogi woman’s perception suddenly heightened, allowing her to feel the Yokai’s attack and sidestep. Overcome with shock, Hifumi realized she just dodged a Yokai’s attack on her own without the male Revenant to save her. When her eyes turned gold, her body instinctively dodged the Ogress’s second fiery attack. When the Ogress flew into Hifumi, the Yokai pushed her against a wall. Finding herself in a scuffle with the Ogress, Hifumi initially struggled to resist. Then, she clutched the Ogress’ hands and pushed her back with newfound strength.

Noticing her new strength, this surprised the woman.

“You’ve inherited Io’s strength! Use it to finish that thing off!”

“But, how?! I’m just realizing now I have super strength and can perceive attacks!” Hifumi exclaimed as the Ogress flew at her.

“Conjure a weapon at will! Anything that comes to mind!”

“Easy for you to say!” Hifumi cried out as she dodged the Yokai. When she turned, the Ogress readied her claws again to skewer Hifumi. Closing her eyes, the woman focused on the new powers coursing through her. Clearing her mind, she imagined the first weapon that came to mind: a ko-naginata.

Suddenly, the Ogress’ claws were halted by something in Hifumi’s hands. Hifumi realized she held a long ko-naginata, which stopped the Yokai’s attack. The Ogress intensely screeched as Hifumi looked her dead in the eyes. The uncertainty on Hifumi’s face was replaced with a resolute gaze.

“Yes, I see now. I know what I must do with this power now.” Hifumi proclaimed as she pushed the Ogress back with her ko-naginata. She pulled back her ko-naginata.

The Ogress unleashed a succession of frenzied claw slashes. Now able to perceive the Yokai’s moves, Hifumi elegantly dodged every strike with ease. Hifumi delivered a quick slash through the Ogress’ body, splitting her in two.

“This weapon shall be named Kunitokotachi.” After gravely wounding the creature, the Ogress dove for a desperate attack, but Hifumi’s Kunitokotachi conjured a bolt of lightning called Divine Thorn and tossed it at the Yokai, wiping out and dissolving it into dust. “Farewell to your inhuman existence.” She turned toward the male Revenant, who was still fending off the Queen’s Knight.

“Hifumi, I’ve got this!” He called out as he shoved his swords through the Knight’s torso.

Lifting the blue side of its spiked sword, the Lost attempted to flatten the Revenant. With his eyes turning red again, he invoked his second Blood Veil, a long metal tail forming from the back of his coat. “Now, you’ve forced me to unveil my Stinger-Type Blood Veil.” He then shoved the metal tail through the Queen Knight’s shield. The force of the tail cracked the Knight’s shield. With another blow, the tail shattered the shield into pieces and shoved through the giant Lost’s chest.

However, the Queen’s Knight still had some fight left and swung its sword over the Revenant.

“Hang on!” Raising her spear, Hifumi summoned a Shogi piece construct, which forged a lightning-based barrier called Shogi Shield and absorbed the impact of the Knight’s sword. “That should be enough to stop its attack! Finish it!”

This defensive move allowed the Revenant to run his tail through the Knight’s head. After drawing back his tail, he invoked his Ogre-Type Blood Veil to slash apart the Lost’s arms, disarming its sword. He then slashed off its head and shoved his demonic hand through its chest, ripping out his vital organs. Blood quickly spilled from its headless body. With a stomp, the Revenant swiftly crushed the Knight’s foot.

As her eyes returned to their natural green color, Hifumi came to and was taken aback by the bloodied mess left from the battle. She promptly removed her mask and deeply exhaled.

“All of this blood…”

“You’re going to have to get used to it since you now have Io’s essence in you. With her infused with you, you’ve essentially inherited her power, Togo Hifumi.” The Revenant turned to face the Japanese woman. “Do you understand? The Lost and that other creature didn’t just attack me. They went after you, too.”

Nodding, Hifumi resigned to this fact. “So, I’m in this for however long these things come after us?”

“Until we found the source that’s bringing them into this world, yes.” The Revenant answered as he doubled over and collapsed on his right knee.

“Hey! Easy now!” Hifumi called out as she caught him. “Thank you. While we worked together to beat those creatures, you saved me.”

He said nothing of the matter, but he appreciated the woman’s compliment.

Just then, their distorted surroundings quickly altered. The corrupted demonic house faded and returned to being the Togo household.

Hifumi blinked in bewilderment. “So, this is what happens after we slay our enemies?”

“You’re asking the wrong person.”

“We’re back in my home?” Hifumi scanned her familiar surroundings and was aghast by the lack of property damage. “And nothing’s been damaged? It’s as if we weren’t really here!” She then faced the Revenant, who fell headfirst on her lap. “What?! Hey, are you ok?!”

He muttered. “I’m a little thirsty… feed me…”

“What?”

“Blood.”





Ueno Park (上野公園,)/Taitō, Tokyo (台東区, 東京)/6:30 PM (JST)

Pursued by Kasha and the other Yokai, Yumeko and her two friends barely escaped getting caught in the crossfire. They happened upon an open space walkway. Their heartbeats became felt throughout their bodies. Taking a few deep breaths, Mary quickly scoured the area for any Yokai sightings.

“I think we outran them,” Mary muttered, trying to get her voice back. “Are you ok, Ryōta?”

“I am for now. What about you, Yumeko?”

The Compulsive Gambler gave no response. Instead, an ecstatic grin formed on her pale features when she saw multiple glowing eyes flashing in the darkness.

“Look, they found us,” Yumeko chuckled as she licked her right index finger. “C’mon, you want to play with us?”

“Shit! They caught up to us!” Mary openly cursed as she grabbed Yumeko’s hand. “Quit getting their attention and let’s get our asses moving!”

“They have no interest in playing games with us, Yumeko! They probably want to eat us! Please, let’s get going!” Ryōta pleaded to his gambling obsessed friend, who then jerked her arms away from her friends. “Yumeko!”

“But, where’s the fun in that? We can give them a chance to play. I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to gamble against monsters.”

Kasha hissed toward Yumeko and readied her fiery whip. However, Yumeko didn’t budge an inch from her spot and beckoned Kasha to hit her. Taking Yumeko’s invite, Kasha threw her fire-imbued whip.

“YUMEKO!” Ryōta and Mary cried out to their friend for dear life.

Mary quickly reached for Yumeko. “Get back!”

Just then, a burst of white light came out of Mary’s hand. The mysterious light quickly formed a barrier between Yumeko and the whip. Kasha witnessed the holy barrier nullify her whip’s power. The barrier negated the fiery properties permeating from the whip. Pulling back her whip, Kasha hissed toward the barrier.

“Yumeko!” Ryōta ran over and grabbed her arm. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, but what is this?” Yumeko reached out to touch the barrier. Pivoting to Mary, she queried her friend. “Hey, how did you do that?”

Mary, on the other hand, was baffled. “Uh, I don’t know?!” She blanked out at the sight of the barrier.

Suddenly, a spiritual ball conjured in front of Mary. The ball formed into a female long-haired, two pigtailed humanoid with butterfly-wings for limbs, antennas, and a kimono. The spirit faced Yumeko, Ryōta, and Mary.

“Mary, are you sure you don’t know what this is?” Mary balked. “No! I mean, I don’t even know how I did this!”

“It looks like a spirit to me!” Ryōta incredulously added.

“A spirit? Yes, that makes sense,” Yumeko nodded, eyeing the winged spirit with fascination. “Whatever you are, thank you!”

Upon seeing the spirit, Kasha and the other Yokai snarled viciously. The divine energies emanating from the spirit disturbed them.

Mary approached the twinged spirit. “You saved us. But, how did you get here?” She reached to touch the spirit, who floated around her head. “We’ve never met before, so I don’t know how I brought you here.”

The spirit communicated with Mary and addressed her.

“Wait, your name is Janomecho?” Mary queried.

“Hmm, I’ve heard of this spirit in stories,” Ryōta stated. “If I’m right, Janomecho was a spirit originally wielded by Otani Yoshitsugu and Sanada Yukimura a long time ago. Its name loosely means Satyrinae in Japanese.”

“That’s interesting and all, but why is it here and why did it choose me?” Mary asked.

“Maybe you play a bigger role than you think, Mary!” Yumeko pointed out.

“This is going to sound weird, but the spirit is telling me it’s called a Guardian Spirit and that you two have your own Guardian Spirits.”

“Really?” Ryōta asked.

Yumeko happily squealed with delight. “I get my own Guardian Spirit, too?! Wonderful! What’s my spirit like?!”

“Wait,” Mary then communed with Janomecho. “On top of everything this spirit is saying, it’s given me the ability to translate other languages?!”

“That’s definitely going to happen when our spirits appear to us. So, we can avoid any miscommunications,” Ryōta replied.

Just then, similar spiritual balls of light appeared in front of Yumeko and Ryōta. Another spirit orb materialized in front of Mary.

Two spiritual spheres appeared in front of Ryōta. The first one turned into a white wolf with a black-beaded neck collar and flames burning from its back, hide, and tail. The other spirit sphere’s essence formed into a clear-colored turtle carrying what looks like a mountain on its back. Its back tail doubled as the long snake’s neck.

The second sphere near Mary opened and released a red-bodied dragon-faced Kirin with antlers. The creature shook its head and neighed.

The spiritual sphere near Yumeko exploded into a pillar of white smoke mixed with fiery mist. A fully white-furred fox emerged with three red onibi surrounding her. Her nine bushy white tails waved around and then opened up behind her back. The fox turned her head and walked over to greet Yumeko, whose cheeks turned red and her face twisted with delight.

“My spirit is a fox?! You look so cute!” Yumeko embraced the nine-tailed fox.

“That’s not just any fox. According to Janomecho, that’s the Nine Tails. She was once wielded by Oichi and Yodo-gimi, the latter of which is also known as Lady Chacha.” Mary clarified, translating for Janomecho. She then faced Ryōta. “Your two spirits are Kato and Genbu.”

“Wow, I have Genbu the legendary turtle as my spirit?” An awestruck Ryōta knelt down to greet Genbu and Kato. “But, I get two spirits?”

“I have a second one, too. My other spirit is named Enku,” Mary eyed the dragon-faced Kirin.

“Interesting, our spirits are based on folklore,” Yumeko realized.

“Yeah, and Janomecho said all of them were once wielded by historical Japanese figures,” Mary briefly explained to her friends.

“Seems like we’ve been chosen for an important role to fight these Yokai,” Ryōta then glared down at Kasha and the other Yokai trying to bring down the barrier.

Just then, Janomecho went into Mary’s body.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Mary cried out as the spirit resonated within her. As Yumeko and Ryōta ran over to her, a white light enveloped Mary. The blonde woman shut her eyes and willingly allowed the spirit to bond with her. As she came to, Mary saw her clothes changed. Her regular clothing was ultimately replaced with a black kimono with bright yellow and green linings up to the skirt. She has thigh-length black stockings and sandals. Covering her face is a left-sided half white Japanese mask with a lily. A spear with curved blades extending to the left and right from the center blade appeared in her right hand.

Witnessing their friend’s dramatic transformation, Yumeko and Ryōta were awestruck.

As her mind became filled with a new purpose, Mary turned and faced the Yokai breaking open the barrier.

“Quick you two. Resonate with your Guardian Spirits!” Mary commanded, quickly brandishing her spear. Janomecho reappeared on her right shoulder. “With this spear, Janomecho has given me power to fight these Yokai!”

Nodding, Ryōta replied. “Ok, but I don’t even know which one to resonate with!”

“Piece of cake for me!” Yumeko extended a hand to the Nine Tails. “Well? Shall we?”

With that, the Nine Tails placed her paw on Yumeko’s hand. A bright beacon of red light enveloped the Compulsive Gambler. The fox’s spirit resonated with Yumeko as a surge of blazing hot energy filled her to the core. Her face contorted with ecstasy, causing her to let out an orgasmic-like gasp. Her red eyes gleamed with delight. A spiral of fire seeped out of Yumeko, forging a fiery red cloak of divine energy around her.

Moreover, Yumeko’s outward clothing changed. Her clothing gained a burnt appearance with tufts of white fur covering her shoulders and back. Her face gained fox-like whiskers. Thin fox irises filled the inside of her red pupils. Small nine fox tails appeared out from her back and buttocks area, twitching and wagging around. Yumeko’s face was outfitted with a fiery-designed mask with a red dice hanging on each side.

Mary and Ryōta watched in shock over their friend’s wardrobe transformation. The Yokai finally broke through the barrier and rushed toward the gamblers. Readying her spear, Mary prepared to fight them off.

However, Yumeko conjured flaming cards and tossed them at several Rokurokubi, Gaki, and Flying Bolts. These flamed cards exploded like bombs, setting these Yokai ablaze and reducing them into ash.

“Wow, way to go, Yumeko!” Ryōta cried out, entranced by Yumeko’s superpowered presence.

“Ryōta, resonate with one of your Guardian Spirits! Do it fast!” Mary cried out, stabbing and skewering a Rokurokubi with her spear.

“Right! But, which one…?!” Before Ryōta could settle on one, Genbu transferred some of its divine power to him.

Once Genbu’s power resonated within Ryōta, the male gambler gained green and black samurai armor. In his right hand, he held black steel shield resembling a turtle’s shell. His samurai helmet has a turtle emblem on it. A green and silver mask fashioned with a turtle’s face fitted his face.

Upon seeing his transformed state, Ryōta shook his head in disbelief. “Hey, I’m a samurai now?!” A pair of tonfas appeared in his left hand. Hearing the advance of a Gaki, he defended with his shield. He then threw and slammed the turtle shell-like shield against another Gaki’s face. He then battered and crushed the head of a Rokurokubi with his tonfas. Genbu and Kato assisted Ryōta against the Gaki.

Assisted by Enku, Mary stabbed and took down several Rokurokubi. A Flying Bolt tried to throw a bandage as if it were a blade. Janomecho swiftly attacked and wind blasted the Flying Bolt. Mary then bisected the Yokai with a clean swing from her spear.

“Thanks,” Mary nodded to Janomecho.

Kasha directed two Flying Bolts to attack Yumeko. Sensing the Yokai’s approach, Yumeko utilized newfound quick reflexes, casually evading their straight forward attacks. She then cast two flaming pillars shaped like dice, which dispersed and incinerated the Flying Bolts into dust.

Shifting away from the slain Yokai, the Compulsive Gambler set her sights on Kasha. She responded with excited glee. “It’s just you and me now!” Her red eyes glowed with murderous intent. “C’mon, let’s gamble our lives away! Fight me like you mean it!” She cackled and charged toward Kasha.

Hissing angrily, Kasha rushed head on with Yumeko. The demonic catwoman tossed her fiery whip, sending a trail of intense flames at Yumeko’s way. The Compulsive Gambler quickly sidestepped Kasha’s fiery trail and jumped over the Yokai. Yumeko landed a clean kick to the back of Kasha’s head, knocking her off her wheels. Conjuring a pair of flaming dice, Yumeko fired and battered Kasha with them. Trying to pull itself off the ground, Kasha tried to fight back, but Yumeko interceded her. Folding both arms around Kasha, Yumeko spun around with the Yokai and conjured flames from her nine tails.

While Mary and Ryōta slew the remaining Yokai, they heard Yumeko’s devilish laughter. They looked up and witnessed Yumeko carrying Kasha into the air. Both were engulfed in the Nine Tails’ flames. Kasha’s horrid screams filled the air while the Nine Tails burned the catwoman. As the flames burned off her face and skin off, a grisly visage was revealed. The Yokai’s veins and skull burned away as the scorching flames obliterated the creature into dust.

Upon landing, Yumeko landed on all fours. Her face contorted with sheer delight with killing Kasha.

“Yumeko!” Ryōta called out as he and Mary hurried over to meet with their friend. They stopped as Yumeko landed sprawled on all four feet. Her posture mirrored that of the Nine Tails. When he and Mary approached her, Yumeko quickly twisted around and momentarily snarled. Startled by his friend’s aggressive response, he backed off.

“What the hell’s gotten into you, Yumeko?!” Mary shouted as Janomecho whispered to her. “So, she’s taken on some of the Nine Tails’ nature. Will she be ok?”

As she said this, the cloak shrouding Yumeko vanished. The Compulsive Gambler immediately came to and scanned the burned remains of Kasha.

“Oh, so we won,” Yumeko smirked.

The Nine Tails materialized beside Yumeko. The gambler turned and smiled at the Guardian Spirit.

“I’m starting to like you already, foxy,” she patted the Nine Tails. “I think we’re going to make great partners.”

“Yumeko, we need to get out of here. I don’t think we want to get caught in trouble with the police.” Ryōta suggested, grabbing Yumeko’s arm.

“Yeah, I mean who’s going to believe us if we told them about Guardian Spirits and Yokai?” Mary added as Janomecho murmured to her. “What? You want us to go to Sensō-ji in Asakusa in four days.”

“Why there?” Yumeko asked her blonde friend.

“Apparently, we’ll meet Yukimura and Lady Chacha’s spirits there. So, we’ll see them on July 28th.” she plainly answered, verifying their predetermined location. She listened to her Guardian Spirit whisper. “And Janomecho will let me know on that day.”

“In the meantime, let’s get out of here. To your relatives’ place, right, Mary?”

Mary answered Ryōta. “Right, but what do we do about these Guardian Spirits?” As she said this, the Guardian Spirits transformed into orbs of light and went inside the gamblers’ bodies.

Then, a bright flash of light engulfed them, changing their clothes back to normal. Their masks were also gone.

“Well, that solves our problems. Shall we head to your relatives’ place then, Mary?” queried Yumeko.

Nodding, Mary escorted her two friends out of the park. On the way out, the blonde placed a hand over her face and tried comprehending all that just occurred within the past half hour. Yokai and Guardian Spirits filled her already bewildered mind. This was not like anything she usually came to grips with. They actually killed real monsters. This was no game and Mary had to keep Yumeko from treating it as such.

Incidentally, Yumeko’s erratic behavior became a red flag, which Mary vowed to be cautious with. This went beyond their scope of gambling. Mary wondered if she and her friends may have to gamble their lives using Guardian Spirits.

“Mary?” Yumeko prodded, seeing her friend deep in thought.

“Huh? Yeah?”

“Is everything ok?”

Mary faked a chuckle. “Um, yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Just checking.”

Averting her gaze from Yumeko, Mary sighed and quietly murmured so her friends couldn’t hear her. “What else could go wrong?”



Japan National Stadium (国立競技場)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/7:05 PM (JST)

Returning to the stadium, security allowed the audiences to return after the Phantom Thieves exterminated the monsters.

However, the reappearance of the Phantom Thieves sparked intrigue and invoked a positive reception from the general public.

Watching from the balcony of the arena, the Thieves watched and secluded themselves from the audience. They heard many sections from the crowds chanting and praising the return of the legendary vigilantes. Their return reignited a support movement not seen since the Thieves were last seen together.

Cupping his left ear, Skull grinned. “Hear that? Our popularity just went up!”

“You’re not kidding!” Panther said, delighted to hear the cheering crowds.

“We’re the talk of the town once again,” Noir said.

“That could be a good or an annoying thing,” Queen added. “Anyway, I suggest we leave before we’re spotted. As an officer, I wouldn’t want the police to ask why one of their own law enforcement is running around playing vigilante.”

Nodding, Mona replied. “Yeah, that might not be a good look for you.”

“This might also give us time to recover any other lost powers,” Fox suggested.

“In the meantime, we’re going to need to go dark for a while until another one of these monsters appear,” Joker stated.

“Right, let’s disperse for now,” Mona concurred as he and the Thieves vanished from sight.




Hifumi's House/Kanda (神田)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/7:10 PM (JST)

In the aftermath of the skirmish in the distorted dimension, Hifumi carried the Revenant over to the couch. As she tended to him, her regular clothing returned.

“Hifumi, you don’t happen to have blood on you?”

She nodded. “We don’t carry blood here. We don’t work with anything involving blood.”

“I see. Then… I don’t want to ask, but…”

Narrowing her eyes, Hifumi responded. “You want my blood?”

“I don’t want to force your hand… but you do have Io’s essence coursing through you…” He stammered, feeling the urge to drink taking over.

“Hold on,” Hifumi said as she left to grab a knife in the kitchen. Upon returning, she sat beside him and slowly cut her left index finger, drawing blood out. “Here. Drink as much as you can.” She opened the small wound, allowing tiny goblets of her own blood to fall into his mouth.

The blood drops filled the base of his tongue. Drinking the blood, he was renewed with energy and awoke far less lethargic. Quickly getting off the couch, he quickly grabbed Hifumi’s finger and hungrily licked every drop of blood that seeped out. Taken aback by his aggressive approach, she almost jerked her finger back, but she willingly let him feed.

With a soft smile adorning her features, the woman queried. “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, thanks to you. I tasted Io’s essence after drinking your blood.”

“Was this Io your friend?”

“Yes, and that amber bead you saw is her physical vestige. It’s all I have of her. When you touched it, her essence entered you.”

Hifumi gazed over her own hands and body. “And now she’s part of me?”

“It would explain why you now have Revenant-like abilities.”

“Like you?”

“Well, not like me. Do you have a sudden thirst for blood?”

“No.”

“That’s good. Do you feel any different? Any changes?”

“When I suddenly transformed, I felt stronger than I’ve ever been. I was able to see and keep up with that Yokai better.”

“So, your senses have heightened and your reflexes are better than a normal human’s. While you’re not a Revenant, you now exhibit some of our attributes, but thankfully you lack our thirst. You see… we need to drink blood.”

“Like a vampire,” Hifumi said, eyeing the sharp fangs in the Revenant’s mouth.

Covering his fanged mouth, the Revenant withdrew from facing her. “Perhaps. Is that what you’d call us in this day and age?”

“Well, yes.”

“Are you not afraid of what I am?”

“No, why would I be afraid of the man who saved me?”

“Because the humans from my dimension feared us. Humans are scarce where I come from. It’s just surreal that I’m here being treated by a human instead of my own kind.”

“How often do you need to feed?”

“As long as we need to drink. Since there are no Blood Beads here, I will require some form of sustenance with blood.”

Placing a bandaid over her finger, Hifumi responded in kind. “Then, I’ll voluntarily let you drink me.”

“I can’t just depend on you…”

“That isn’t up for debate. I will allow you to drink me.”

“Are you sure?”

She placed her left hand over his. His eyes scanned the bandaid on her index finger. When he looked at her, her gaze was soft and demure. Gone was the fierce, murderous glare she had when she fought the Ogress.

“Thank you, Hifumi.”

“So, what happens if you don’t drink?”

“I…” He paused and sighed. “You know that monster I fought?”

“The larger one?”

“Yes, if I don’t feed, I would fall into a frenzied state and turn into one of them. I’d become a Lost,” he answered with dread in his tone, drawing a faint gasp from Hifumi. “But, thanks to you and Io’s essence coursing through you, I don’t have to worry. I just ask you don’t overdo it. I should be fine now.”

“Just let me know when you need a drink.”

“Thank you,” he politely responded.

“This other world you come from, was it like mine?”

“It was before disaster struck. I can tell you all about it another time.”

“I’m sorry, but after all that just happened, I still didn’t get your name.”

“My name is Sion.”




?-?/9:18 PM (JST)

Inside a darkened office on the topmost floor of a skyscraper, an obscured man in an unbuttoned black shirt and white fur coat scanned past a glass window of Osaka. Having just watched the shocking events at the Summer Olympics broadcast, a calm and baleful smile adorned his mostly concealed face.
 

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Chapter III: New Interactions



Hifumi's House/Kanda (神田)/Chiyoda, Tokyo (千代田区, 東京)/July 28, 2020 (2020年7月28日)/12:30 PM (JST)

It was another passing day for Hifumi and Sion. Both sat and talked about various subjects at the dining table. Hifumi ordered pizza for them. She was surprised Sion knew about pizza.

As Sion bit into his pepperoni pizza, he noted Hifumi meticulously observing him. He suddenly became disquieted.

“What is it?” Sion asked.

Hifumi blinked for a moment. “Huh? Oh, I’m sorry!” She replied apologetically. “I hope the pair of clothes my father left you are ok.”

“Oh, these? Yeah, they fit just fine.” Sion answered, casually dressed in a short-sleeved white dress shirt, beige khaki pants, and dark blue & white tennis shoes.

Smiling, Hifumi curiously asked. “I just wanted to know if you do eat foods besides drinking blood.”

“Didn’t I say before I can eat solid foods?” Sion asked her.

“You mentioned that. I just wanted to see if you like pizza.”

“Yeah, it’s not like pizza is a foreign concept where I come from. It’s just not commonly produced, especially since a lot of Revenants require blood.”

“Right, I get that,” Hifumi said, watching him hungrily devour a whole pizza slice. Offering him a napkin, he wiped the pizza sauce off his lips. “With that sauce on your face, you might as well be drinking blood.”

“Well, I can safely say that the pizza here tastes much better than in my world.” Offering a soft chuckle, Sion eyed the bandaid on her right shoulder. Noticing the way he looked at her, Hifumi covered the bandaid.

“Hifumi…”

“No, it’s ok. You needed blood. I said I’d let you drink me. Don’t worry about me.”

Sion sighed. “I don’t want to be burdened to you.”

“You’re not. You saved my life and now I’ve been gifted with new abilities. It’s the most I can do.”

“Thank you, Hifumi. And thanks for letting me stay here.”

Hifumi chuckled. “Well, I’ve had to convince my parents you were a European foreigner looking for a place to stay during the Olympic season. There’s no way they’d believe me if I told them you were a vampire from another dimension. You understand how outlandish that sounds?”

“Perhaps it does. Your parents are very nice people. Despite my sudden arrival, they’ve treated me well. It’s comforting. However, I do miss my friends back home, who I consider my family.”

“These friends of yours sound very loyal.”

“They are. Io, Louis, Yakumo, Mia, Rin, and the others have been there when I needed them.” He looked down at the pizza in front of him, sighing as he recounted the last moments in his native dimension. “I remember Louis, Yakumo, Mia, and Rin trying to reel me from the wormhole that pulled me. They’re the last faces I remember before landing here. When I awoke, I admit… I was scared. Then, your human scent caused me to react out of hunger.”

“I’m sure glad you didn’t, but I’m glad I helped in any way I could,” Hifumi said, watching him take a bite from a second slice. “Listen, about Io, I didn’t mean to take that amber bead.”

“It’s ok. You had no idea, but if I know Io, she probably had a good reason to allow you to absorb her essence.”

“So, she’s part of me? Does that mean I’m a Revenant now?”

Sion nodded. “No, you’ve only gained some of our characteristics, especially what you already showed in that transformed state. But, you don’t exhibit our thirst for blood and you still have a functioning human heart.” He placed a hand over his chest. “Us Revenants have these BOR Parasites to keep us alive. Should those get destroyed, we die.”

“You also mentioned if you don’t consistently feed off blood or Blood Beads, you turn into those Lost?”

Deeply sighing, the Revenant regrettably answered, dread in his apparent tone. “Yes, and I’ve seen it happen. Too many times to count. I knew someone who turned right before my eyes. His name was Oliver Collins. Before I met Louis, he was a friend, who became frenzied and turned into a Lost. Louis and I had no choice but to end him.”

“Is there no way to turn a Revenant back?”

“No, once a Revenant becomes a Lost, there’s no going back.”

Hifumi fell silent.

“But, you needn’t worry. Since you’re not a Revenant, you don't need to drink nor will you ever become a Lost yourself.” As he calmly reassured her, he noted serenity etched across her face.

“I have noticed my wounds have been healing much faster. Even your bite mark near my neck is gone.” The dark-haired woman added, caressing the bandaged spot on her shoulder.

“That’s because Io’s essence is healing you. Her innate powers are coursing strongly through you.”

“I see. She really is looking out for me.”

“Because she trusts you to take care of me and she’s given you abilities to help you fight with me.”

“Fight against those Lost creatures you mentioned?”

“Yeah, and also that Yokai, wherever it came from. I don’t know how Lost got here, but I’ll do my best to eliminate it and these Yokai.” Sion vowed on his new mission.

Hifumi reaffirmed with a determined look. “And you won’t have to fight alone. Your friends aren’t here, but you have me now.”

“Thank you, Hifumi. Just knowing you’ll be able to aid me puts my mind at ease.”

“We know more Lost has appeared since we watched the reports of the attack at the Olympics. Thankfully, the Phantom Thieves reappeared to stop them. Sadly, that attack forced the Olympics to be postponed until next summer. Now, they’re discussing stay-at-home orders in case there’s another attack. I know certain areas close to the Japan National Stadium might be placed under lockdown.”

“Taking security precautions might be a good idea. I suppose we’ll see if there’s another Lost attack.”

Hifumi nodded, sighing. “I hope that’s not the case.”

Sion then noted her opening a box and setting up a board with Shogi pieces. “Ah, another round of Shogi? I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

“Thanks to me, of course,” Hifumi said proudly.

Upon hearing the mention of them, Sion addressed her. “These Phantom Thieves. They’re heroes in this city?”

“Well, they’re more urban heroes, but yes they’ve helped bring hope after exposing Shido’s corruption and revealing the dark hearts of horrible people.”

“So, they can change people’s hearts?”

“In a literal and figurative sense. They helped change my mother’s heart.” Hifumi said, referring to the previous incident of her mother fixing her Shogi matches to establish Hifumi’s idol status. She did this to gain fame through her daughter’s work. “But after the Thieves changed her heart, my mother’s greed subsided and she became the good person you’ve met.”

“That’s horrible what she did to you.”

Hifumi shut her eyes. “You’re right.”

Sion shifted a Shogi piece to the right. “But, for the Phantom Thieves, they must have incredible influence. Having seen them through the TV footage, they fight well together. In some ways, their unity reminds me of me and my friends’. I’d like to meet the Phantom Thieves.”

She smiled, moving a Shogi piece forward. “You would?”

“Yes, since they helped your mother, I’m sure you know them?”

Hifumi added, moving another piece. “Well, I have the faintest idea who the one named Joker is, but I can’t say for sure if this man and Joker are one and the same.”

Sion then stated, moving a piece and removing one of Hifumi’s. “Well, who do you think it is?”

Hifumi offered, removing two of Sion’s pieces. “He’s someone who I connected with and he helped me through that difficult time in my life. He became my confidant.”

“This guy sounds mysterious, but has good intentions.”

Hifumi gave a heartfelt chuckle. “I wouldn’t call him mysterious, but he did work in mysterious ways. I have him to thank for getting me out of my rut.”

Sion asked, intensely staring at the board as Hifumi got one over him. “And what’s his name?”

“Check,” Hifumi answered, declaring her victory. With a winning smile, she answered. “His name is Amamiya Ren.”




Café Leblanc (純喫茶ルブラン)/Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (四軒茶屋, 東京)/1:00 PM (JST)

After some time to think and rest, a reassembly for the Phantom Thieves was called on by Makoto. The Thieves sat at their meeting table. They reviewed what happened on July 24, a day that signified the return of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. They were once again hailed as heroes. All this after the vigilantes redeemed themselves when Tokyo’s citizens supported them against the Holy Grail. Now, they’ve been praised after stopping these latest monster attacks.

Of course, Makoto readdressed an issue. “While it’s true the people praised our return, our attacks still did some considerable collateral damage inside the stadium. Thankfully, I can report there have been no human casualties.”

“Thank goodness, but those creatures we killed certainly aren’t Shadows,” Yusuke stated.

“They were physical manifestations. I checked and any link to Mementos is gone,” Morgana clarified.

“That was real blood we spilled then. Of course, that’s not excusing the monsters’ attack,” Haru said.

“Have y’all been keeping up with the tweets and headlines? We’re all over the place again!” Ryuji proudly soaked up the fame they’ve been gaining since the Lost attack.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s been all over the news, I’m kinda sick of hearing it,” Ann sighed in exasperation. “Now, variety shows just want the Phantom Thieves. That attack not only canceled the Summer Olympics, but officials have postponed them to next summer.”

“Man, I was looking forward to the event,” groaned Ryuji, feeling dejected from being denied a fun and exciting summer event.

Makoto added. “Sis has been talking with the media. Law enforcement has told the media to warn civilians of any future monster attacks, but we haven’t issued lockdowns just yet. Thankfully life is returning to some normalcy. Even still, a stay-at-home executive order is being pressed for areas close to the Japan National Stadium, Kichijōji, and Taitō.”

Haru inserted. “Don’t forget Ueno Park. That’s been closed to the public since monster attacks were reported there.”

Rubbing his chin, Yusuke deduced. “But, why attack those locations specifically?”

Futaba then pointed out one peculiar pattern. “And why did they attack us? They ignored every other person in that stadium!”

“And who were they targeting in Kichijōji and Ueno Park?” Wondered Ren. “I don’t even have a clue.”

“Well, think. They isolated everyone else, except us. It’s like these monsters knew we’re the Phantom Thieves and specifically attacked us,” Ann said.

Ren then came to a realization. “There’s Sumire.”

Morgana turned to Ren. “You might want to call her. She might’ve been at one of those two locations.”

“Right,” he said, scanning through his caller ID list on his cell.

“We have to consider people linked to us as possible targets,” Makoto suggested. “Thankfully, sis wasn’t at those other two locations. Speaking of sis, she’s thankful we’ve managed to stop those monsters and mitigate any more potential disasters that may have followed.”

“Heck, even Boss was thankful we showed up to beat those monsters’ asses!” Ryuji said, referring to Sojiro.

“Yeah, but Sojiro did remind us not to get too deep into trouble,” Futaba said.

“So much so that law enforcement are scaling back and entrusting the Phantom Thieves to handle these otherworldly threats,” Makoto pressed on.

“Even some famous figures have spoken about the situation. One such figurehead is Hyakkaou Private Academy’s former student council president, Momobami Kirari,” Yusuke commented.

“In any case, we’re not stealing the ‘hearts’ of corrupted figures, we’re venturing in a realm of supernatural entities from a physical realm,” Morgana professed.

“So, if the Metaverse didn’t bring these things here, we’ve got an alien invasion,” Futaba said.

Yusuke corrected her. “You mean a demon invasion?”

Futaba nodded, frowning. “No, they could be aliens. Or cryptids.”

Ryuji blinked in confusion. “Crypt-what?”

Ann sighed. “Forget it, Ryuji.”

“So, if what Mona says is true, then there’s no Palaces for us to check,” Futaba pointed out. “We’re totally working with our Metaverse abilities in the real world!”

Before attempting to call Sumire, Ren warned his colleagues. “But, we’re also in serious risk of causing damage to surroundings, or worse we end up hurting bystanders.” This warning caused the group to reassess their battle tactics outside the Metaverse.

“For a while, we let the adults take over handling the responsibilities to protect society,” Haru recalled a previous comment since the final Mementos heist. “But with all this, we’ve been forced out of the shadows.”

Ann concurred with Haru’s sentiment. “I feel it’s premature for us to return.”

“As cool as our comeback might’ve been, Haru and Lady Ann are right." Morgana acknowledged the situation they’ve entered. “I’m also wary of where these monsters came from and why they targeted us. We need answers.”

“Well, I did go into the Velvet Room a few hours ago,” Ren verified, causing them to flip around and face him.




The Velvet Room (ベルベット・ルーム)/Flashback

Ren entered a spacious room. From a glance, it resembled an enclosed prison. The very air Ren breathed had a thick, musky quality. Scanning the room, his eyes caught the prison cell, the very same one he once occupied during this rehabilitation period. Scouring the familiar surroundings, he noted the dark ceiling, the cinder block walls, the intense blue hue that colored the schemes of the room, and the mist. The atmosphere of this room gave off an otherworldly vibe.

Glancing away from the prison cell, he faced a rotting wooden desk.

A single bulb hung over the desk and illuminated the spot. He spotted two familiar figureheads. One was a man and the other a little girl.
"Welcome back, Trickster," greeted the man in front of the desk. His tone was calm and lowkey. Although, one would surmise from first glance if this 'man' was really human. He had features uncharacteristic for a human. He has the physical features of an elder man, but his long beak of a nose and wide bulging eyes appeared bird-like. Tufts of gray hair adorned the back of his head. Unusually thick black eyebrows made up the strange man’s face. He had on a black suit and white gloves. He raised his head to Ren's level, grinning wide.
A subtly collective grin formed on Ren’s face. He added. “Igor.” Identifying the strange beak-nosed man first. The Trickster, as Igor named him, veered over to the right side of the table. His eyes fell on a long platinum-haired young girl. She wore a blue dress and a matching headband decorated with white butterflies and yellow roses. Her golden eyes scanned Ren, who approached the desk as the bulb's light unveiled his presence.
“It is good to see you again. I, Lavenza, am at your service once again,” the girl greeted him in a logical and composed tone.
“Are you surprised that my friends and I came out of retirement?” Ren casually asked the Velvet Room occupants.
"Indeed, it was an unexpected turn of events," Igor stated, grin widening. "We presumed the Metaverse had fallen out of existence. Due to these recent monsters that are not from this world, these Yokai, and the connected energies that you and your friends back into the Phantom Thieves, these connections have been tightly knit together from a source.”

"We sensed that there is an anomaly that traversed into this dimension." Lavenza theorized.

"An anomaly?" Ren asked in concern.

"Yes, an entity that should not exist in this world has forced these events to materialize. However, there must be another real reason why.” Lavenza answered.

"You must seek these answers, Trickster. To pinpoint this source, go to the Meiji Shrine. There you’ll find a special recruiter with a Guardian Spirit.” Igor provided guidance.




Café Leblanc (純喫茶ルブラン)/Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (四軒茶屋, 東京)

"An anomaly?" Mona was left befuddled over what Igor told Ren.

"Whoa! Holy hell, you mean we're dealing with someone who just came from another world?!" Ryuji cried out.

"Yeah, something tells me that it won't be easy," Ren warned his friends.

"And what about Meiji Shrine?" Ann pondered.

"You’re telling us that we should recruit a Guardian Spirit?" Yusuke suggested. "I’ve heard of Guardian Spirits, but I thought they were simply legends. Granted, we’ve encountered cognitive Personas and Shadows based on mythological figures, but certainly not genuine spirits.”

"If Igor and Lavenza wanted us to, then yeah," Ren answered them both. "And, if we're going to deal with someone much tougher than anything we’ve experienced with the Palaces, then we need to do this."

Ryuji enthusiastically grinned. "Hey, I’m in, dude."

“Me, too!” Futaba shared Ryuji’s enthusiasm.

“Consider me intrigued,” Haru added with a bright smile.

"While our Personas are certainly maxed out based on the battles we’ve had, we still need to take caution with our surroundings. We want to avoid creating property damage and actively keep civilians away,” Makoto openly advised her teammates. in not inflicting property damage from ourselves

“Then, I guess this meeting is adjourned then,” Ren announced as Ann grabbed his arm.

“So, you weren’t able to reach Sumire?” Ann asked Ren.

Nodding, he sighed. “I got nothing. She’s not answering for whatever reason.”

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Ryuji said.

Morgana considered another possibility. “Unless she was at one of those locations? If anything, she’s probably had her abilities restored like the rest of you. Knowing how resourceful she’s been, Sumire might be hiding out until she’s ready to meet with us.”

“So, you think she’ll be ok, Ren?” Ann asked Ren.

Clenching his smartphone, he nodded. “She’ll come to us when she’s ready. Let’s meet at Meiji Shrine tonight.”




Yotsuya, Tokyo (四谷, 東京)/2:22 PM (JST)

Later that day, Hifumi took Sion out on the town to explore the streets of Yotsuya. It was a clear and sunny day. This relaxing weather made a world of difference to the Revenant, who up to now has adapted in harsher and dangerous conditions. The rays of the sun bathed across Sion, almost blinding him. The air quality was worlds apart from Sion’s dense and almost toxic world. Breathing in the air from this world relaxed Sion’s stress levels.

Most of all, the passersby around them are all human. Where he lived, humans were a scarce food source with many living outside the world of Vein. Seeing these humans became overwhelmingly surreal for Sion. Despite appearing human, the Revenant felt like an outsider.

"Walking here feels nice," Sion muttered, scanning the Japanese crowds and the infrastructures. He was mesmerized by the buildings in place. He only explored infrastructure ruins left abandoned following apocalyptic disasters. He and other Revenants only know about previous human events from texts and hearsay.

"Yes, but wait until we explore the big areas. This is nothing compared to Shinjuku,” offered Hifumi, taking Sion’s hand while guiding him.

Sion continued scanning the crowds, eyeing people on their smartphones either calling or texting. He saw others walking, tending outlet shops, driving on the streets, and some just aimlessly touring the area. “There’s so many people here. It’s just like what I’ve read from the texts. Cities like these teemed with human activity!”

While walking, Sion then noticed surgical masks being worn. This quickly reminded him of the dark masks he and his Revenants usually had on. The Revenant mouthguard masks were worn to protect them from the toxic air and sedate their bloodlust. This also helped prevent them from becoming Lost. Luckily in these modern times, no such toxic air was around, helping to alleviate Sion’s anxiety.

"I see you’ve noticed civilians wearing masks." Hifumi noticed Sion's curiosity when observing the masked people. "Those masks basically protect them from allergies and also prevent them from spreading bacteria and viral infections."

"I suppose that’s right. They don’t want to spread infections that can get many people sick. Well, us Revenants don’t have to worry about being infected. Our bodies are resistant to human diseases in our dimension. Wow, but I had no idea this was part of the Japanese culture.”

Hifumi replied. “This is indeed part of our culture.” Turning around and without paying attention to what’s in front of them, she and Sion bumped into a long, black-haired young woman. Hifumi replied apologetically. “Sorry about that!”

“Oh, no worries. I should apologize. I wasn’t paying attention!” replied the woman. Hifumi and Sion faced Jabami Yumeko, who waved her hands out apologetically. Just then, Yumeko’s newfound spirit powers allowed her to sense supernatural energies from the two. “Wait, I sense something off about you two.”

Hifumi and Sion held their ground. Before they could dismiss or rebuke Yumeko’s statement, they noticed Mary and Ryōta running up behind Yumeko.

“Hey! Don’t walk so fast! You left us behind!” Mary chided Yumeko, pinching her cheek.

“Ow! Sorry!” Yumeko apologetically replied to her friend.

Ryōta noticed Hifumi and Sion. “Oh, hi. Sorry about that.”

Hifumi smiled. “It’s ok. My friend and I weren’t looking and we bumped into your friend here.”

“Hey, you two don’t have Guardian Spirits, but I can sense weird powers from you,” Yumeko readdressed Hifumi and Sion.

“Guardian Spirits?” Sion was confounded from Yumeko’s seemingly baseless remark.

“What do you mean by Guardian Spirits?” Hifumi asked Yumeko.

“The spirits that my friends and I possess. We just got them a few days ago and used them to fight some Yokai.” Yumeko plainly answered with a smile.

Once Yokai was brought to their attention, Hifumi and Sion recounted the previous battle with the Ogress that accompanied the Queen’s Knight.

“Yokai? You also fought some of those?” Hifumi quickly raised this to the gamblers’ attention.

“Wait, you fought Yokai, too?!” Mary exclaimed in disbelief.

“Just one, but we also fought some other monster called a Lost,” Hifumi said.

“We don’t have these Guardian Spirits,” Sion stated.

“Then, how did you fight back?” Ryōta asked, curious to find out the nature of Sion and Hifumi’s abilities.

“Well, you see. My powers come from a different source,” Sion tried his best to explain without revealing his Revenant nature. “Hifumi got her powers from something I had.”

Nodding, Yumeko listened with great interest. “Mmhmm, I see. Well, I don’t know what your powers are based on, it’s neat to meet others who have specialized powers. Oh, where are my manners? My name is Jabami Yumeko!” She then motioned over to the other two. “And these are my friends, Saotome Mary and Suzui Ryōta! We attended Hyakkaou Private Academy not too long ago.”

Upon hearing this, Hifumi responded with a quizzical look. “Hyakkaou Private Academy? Is that not the infamous gambling school?”

“Yes and I quite enjoyed being a gambler there!” Yumeko’s face beamed with overbearing ecstasy.

“Well, I’m not exactly a fan of illegal gambling. I am a professional Shogi player,” Hifumi stated, differentiating her and Yumeko’s choice of gaming.

"Oh, I've heard of Shogi," Yumeko said, coyly smiling. "Perhaps once we get to know each other more, we can play."

"Hmm, if you insist." Hifumi mulled over Yumeko’s challenge offer. “My name is Togo Hifumi.”

Lifting a brow, Mary turned to Sion. “And your name Mr. Quiet?”

“Sion.”

“It’s nice to meet you two!” Yumeko greeted them.

“Listen, it’s great meeting you two, but our Guardian Spirits are telling us we need to go to Sensō-ji in Asakusa.” Mary stated, quickly grabbing Yumeko and Ryōta’s arms.

“Why go to Sensō-ji if you don’t mind me asking?” Hifumi queried.

“Why don’t you come with us?” Yumeko offered Hifumi and Sion.

“Should we? The spirits only asked us three to go there, Yumeko,” Ryōta said.

“What’s the harm with bringing these two? They have special powers and fought a Yokai!”

Eyeing Hifumi and Sion, Mary folded her arms. “I don’t know. Sure we can take their word they fought a Yokai, but they don’t have Guardian Spirits.” Just then, Janomecho’s voice conversed with Mary in her mind. “What? They’re telling the truth? So, it’s ok to bring them?”

“Who are you talking to?” asked Sion.

Nodding, Mary addressed them. “Alright, it seems like my spirit said it’s ok. You two can come with us.”

“Isn’t that great?! You’ll be meeting some spirits there! Now, let’s get going!” Yumeko excitedly said, clapping her hands.

Sion whispered to Hifumi. “Is this ok? I know you wanted to show me around town.”

With a reserved smirk, Hifumi replied. “This is a great excuse to see the more traditional side of our culture, Sion. You’ll like this.” She faced the gamblers. “Shall we get going to Sensō-ji?”





Sensō-ji (浅草寺)/Asakusa, Tokyo (浅草, 東京)/3:26 PM (JST)

Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers arrived near the famous ancient Buddhist temple and it is Japan’s oldest temple. Of the group, mesmerization filled Sion, who scanned over the beautifully lavish historical ground. They faced the front of the temple as a congregation of tourists started leaving.

“This is incredible,” Sion muttered in awe at the Sensō-ji. “There’s nothing like this where I came from!”

“Really? Where are you from?” Yumeko asked Sion.

“He came from overseas,” Hifumi answered on Sion’s behalf.

“Oh, I see. Well, Tokyo has a lot of fascinating locations to see. I’m glad you’re taking him around the town, Hifumi!” The Compulsive Gambler stated.

As the tourists cleared the vicinity, the gamblers’ spirits materialized in front of them, surprising Hifumi and Sion. The Nine-Tails appeared next to Hifumi. Janomecho and Enku materialized around Mary. Kato and Genbu appeared on Ryōta’s opposite sides.

“Amazing! These are your Guardian Spirits?” Hifumi asked in awe.

Sion blinked in befuddlement. “Wow, I can see them now. Thankfully, I sense good intentions from them.” He noticed none of the other passersby noticed the spirits. “Strange, only we can see them?”

“That’s because our spirits ensured only us five can see them. No one else here knows we’re communicating with the Guardian Spirits,” Ryōta answered Sion.

Hovering on Mary’s right shoulder, Janomecho communicated with her. Mary nodded.

“They’re coming, guys,” Mary addressed everyone.

Before everyone’s eyes, two ethereal pillars of light materialized. From these pillars, two figures materialized on the temple grounds. The Guardian Spirits briefly congregated with the two spiritual figureheads.

“Well done coming here as we asked,” a voice belonging to an older man addressed the Guardian Spirits and the gamblers. This spirit emerged from the ethereal pillar, revealing himself as a man in crimson armor coupled with an antlered, red helmet. He smiled when Janomecho and Enku hovered next to him.

“On behalf of our Guardian Spirits, we are grateful you can come, young ones,” the second voice belonging to a woman said with genuine intentions. The second spirit, a beautiful pale-skinned Japanese woman with long black hair, emerged. She has two long strands of hair tied and hanging in front of her chest. She has on a black royal robe covered with white feathers covering the top areas. Her primary clothing is a red kimono underneath the robe. Yumeko watched Nine-Tails saunter toward this beautiful woman.

“Wait, I’ve seen artwork depicting these two,” Hifumi muttered.

“Who are they, Hifumi?” Sion asked her.

“They’re historical figures from the Sengoku era and both had integral roles during the Siege of Osaka.”

Nodding, the Revenant balked at the history lesson. “Right, looks like I have a lot to learn about your culture’s history. So, these two are the ones who called for you, guys?”

“Looks like it,” Mary frowned as she approached the historical figures. “We’re here like you asked.”

“That’s Sanada Yukimura, who’s also known as Sanada Nobushige! And the beautiful woman is Yodogimi, mother of Toyotomi Hideyori! She’s also known as Lady Chacha!” Ryōta identified the spiritual figures.

“Wow, you’re good, Ryōta!” Yumeko clapped her hands. “This is truly an honor!”

Glancing over her shoulder, Mary groaned. “You mean you didn’t know their names?”

“Sorry, but their names were a blur to me until now.”

“Yes, so that’s Sanada Yukimura and Lady Chacha. I remember them from historical stories.” Hifumi smirked.

The older man, Yukimura, chuckled. “You’re an interesting group of young people. Welcome, my friends.” He and Lady Chacha both bowed their heads.

“We thank you for utilizing these Guardian Spirits,” Lady Chacha said, her eyes now facing Yumeko. “And thank you for keeping my former Guardian Spirit under control, young miss.”

Yumeko bowed. “It’s an honor, Lady Chacha. Your fox spirit is so cute and loyal.”

The woman smiled. “How shall I address you?”

“My name is Jabami Yumeko.”

Yukimura turned toward Mary and Ryōta. “And what are your names?”

“I’m Saotome Mary.”

“Then, you’re the one Janomecho has chosen.”

“Yes, Yukimura-sama.”

A composed smile adorned Yukimura’s older features. “Then, Janomecho has chosen well.” He noticed her trembling. “Are you ok, Saotome-san?”

Looking away, Mary mumbled. “...what? Oh, please don’t mind me, but I’m not used to seeing ghosts.”

“You needn’t worry, young miss,” Yukimura chuckled, shifting his eyes on Ryōta. “And I’m impressed you knew about us. I see Genbu and Kato are with you.”

“I’m Suzui Ryōta…!” The young man shook anxiously. “Sorry, but I’ve never interacted with spirits before. So… if I sound like I’m shaking…”

“Hehehe, aww don’t be scared, you two. They might as well be friends now!” Yumeko tried livening up the mood with her infectious laughter.


Mary took a deep breath. “I’m not scared. I’m still getting used to spirits hanging around me. Seeing ghosts of people is a different story.”

Hifumi pointed out. “And Yokai didn’t scare you?’

“Of course, they scared me, but that’s beside the point,” the blonde-haired woman sighed. “Anyway, we’d like to know why these spirits chose us?”
"It all happened when strange energies materialized a few days ago and released the Yokai along with a host of other unknown creatures. When these monstrosities appeared in various spots, we sent our spirits to find and help new candidates. They ultimately chose you three.” Yukimura addressed the gambler trio.

“So, those two were your Guardian Spirits?” Hifumi asked the Sanada warrior.

Beckoning Janomecho and Enku toward him, they floated around Yukimura. Enku neighed. “They were my trustworthy partners. Janomecho’s previous wielder before me was Otani Yoshitsugu. Enku represents the symbol of the Sanada Brave." Yukimura faced Hifumi and Sion. “Apparently, the spirits have granted you permission to meet with us. They informed me that you and this young man engaged an Ogress and another monster? I also understand you two wield different sources of power.”

Hifumi verified. “That’s correct. We slew the two monsters.”

“What are your names?” Yukimura asked.

“I’m Togo Hifumi, Lord Sanada,” Hifumi bowed.

Yukimura turned toward the Revenant, waiting for a response.

“And I’m Sion, sir.”

Yukimura immediately assessed Sion’s Revenant presence and suspiciously viewed him as an enigmatic figure. “And you are not from this world. Yet, I sense no hostility inside you."

“Wait, not from this world?” Mary picked up on Yukimura’s vague wording.

“You could say that,” Sion replied. “But, I’m not from around this part of the world.”

“That’s right! He’s from some European country! He’s so mysterious, isn’t he? Hifumi is being very nice and taking him out to see Tokyo’s wonderful sights.” Yumeko asserted on Sion’s behalf.

Sion added. “I’d be lost here without Hifumi’s guidance.”

“I’ve taken care of him quite well, like a knight and a squire,” metaphorically stated Hifumi.

“What do you mean?” Sion asked her.

“It’s a compliment.”

Yumeko confronted the two spirits. “I’m glad to be involved in this. I don’t know why, but the Nine-Tails spirit has been very attached to me.” The Compulsive Gambler watched the Nine-Tails gallop back to her.

Lady Chacha chuckled. “Yes, I see the Nine-Tails has picked a very interesting successor. She’s drawn to your vibrant and free spirit, Jabami Yumeko.”

“She’s very cute,” Hifumi eyed the Nine-Tails spirit as Yumeko petted the fox’s head.

“I know. Isn’t she?!” Yumeko concurred with the Shogi player.

Lady Chacha added. “Before she became my Guardian Spirit, the Nine-Tails belonged to my mother Oichi. Miss Yumeko, treat her well and she will return the favor with undying loyalty.”

Yumeko nodded. “I will, Lady Chacha.”

“We entrust you all with the Guardian Spirits. They will protect you and assist against the Yokai.” Yukimura said, pressing his knuckles against his palm as he bowed. “Now we must take our leave.”

“If you wish to see further answers about other Guardian Spirits and the Yokai, you must go to the modern vicinity now known as Shinjuku. Other spirits like us will be there,” Lady Chacha suggested.

“Thank you for your guidance,” Mary bowed in respect.

“Yes, thank you for helping them,” Hifumi nodded.

“We wish you all well,” Yukimura added with a bow as he and Lady Chacha faded away through a wall of ethereal light, returning to the afterlife.

As he tried to make light of what happened, Sion remarked. “Now that was… interesting.”

“They gave these three a lot of encouragement. So, was it enough to entice you to fight these Yokai?” Hifumi asked the gamblers.

“Yeah, it sure did,” Mary firmly nodded.

“But, first let’s head over to Shinjuku like Lady Chacha suggested,” Ryōta said.

“Yeah, what Ryōta said! Let’s go and explore some more!” Yumeko giddily cried out. “Hifumi and Sion, will you two join us?”

Sion turned to Hifumi. “It’s up to you. I’ll go wherever you go.”

Hifumi smiled and addressed Yumeko. “We’ll join you only so Sion can see Shinjuku.”

“Yay! Sion, I promise you won’t be disappointed!” Yumeko said with enthusiasm.

Mary sighed. “Ugh, pipe down, Yumeko.”

Hifumi patted Sion’s shoulder. “If you want, we can head home after we explore Shinjuku.”

“No, I’ll be fine. Thanks, Hifumi.”

The Shogi player smirked. “If you insist.”



Meiji Shrine (明治神宮)/Shibuya, Tokyo (渋谷区, 東京)/4:10 PM (JST)

The Thieves reconvened at the shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, the symbol of the Meiji Revolution. Scouring through the shrine grounds, the Thieves bypassed a shrine maiden giving a tour to tourists.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same. This place remains artistic as ever,” Yusuke’s artist eye admired the famous shrine.

"Hey, Ren. Do you remember when we met Takemi Tae here?” Ann recounted their brief interaction with the back alley doctor.

Ren coolly smirked. “I remember.” He recalled every visit to the Takemi Medical Clinic, doubling as a patient and Tae’s ‘guinea pig’.

"Alright, so we’re our spirit friend supposed to be?” Ryuji wondered, quickly and frantically searching around the shrine.

Clamping a hand over his face, Yusuke sighed in exasperation. “Show some respect, Ryuji.”

"Shouldn't we be careful since we have people surrounding us?" Haru queried worryingly.

"I don’t think so. If they are spirits, they’re probably anticipating us and only allowing us to see them. They won’t permit normal people to notice them,” Yusuke deduced. “If anything, these spirits could be figureheads from Japanese Mythology.”

Futaba interjected. “How would you know that, Inari?”

“It’s just me conjecturing.”

The gremlin girl rolled her eyes to the left side. “Riiight.” Just then, she heard a signaling beacon from her handheld device. “Whoa, you might be onto something, Inari! Guys, I just picked up a reading!”

Taking heed of Futaba’s word, the Thieves took on stances. Their ears picked up on some rattling in some bushes near them. Expecting a man or a woman, instead a white cat with black spots popped out. The cat paused and stared at the group with its yellow eyes.

“Uh… huh, ok I didn’t expect that,” Ryuji gawked dumbfoundedly.

“It’s just a cat, Futaba,” Ann pointed out.

“Not exactly, miss,” the cat suddenly spoke with its mouth moving on its own. This quickly startled the Phantom Thieves, but none more shocked than Morgana.

“Did that cat just talk?!” Haru exclaimed.

“Yeah, it talked just like you, Mona!” Ann cried out.

Narrowing his eyes, Morgana suspiciously eyed the cat. “Hold on. That's not a cat. Something briefly possessed it.”

“Yeah, Mona is right! The readings are coming from this cat!” Futaba traced the beacon straight to the cat.

“Well, I guess it’s time to reveal my real self,” the cat sighed as a sphere of light energy popped out of the cat. Then, the sphere of light floated above them. The sphere opened as a small white twin-tailed cat with a black eyepatch on the right eye and a purple scarf emerged.

Looking over the tourists and other passersby, the Thieves noted no commotion over Nekomata’s presence.

“Greetings, youngsters. I am Nekomata,” The spirit cat introduced himself in a sagely and eccentric tone.

“You’re just like me!” Morgana spat out, eliciting laughter from the spirit cat.

"He’s not a cat. He’s a Yokai called a Nekomata. He’s one of the benevolent ones and the Guardian Spirit for Hattori Hanzo from the Sengoku era.” Yusuke explained.

“And how would you know this, Inari?”

“My dear Futaba, I’ve read the books based on the legends.”

"Needless to say, it is an honor to meet you, honored spirit." Makoto offered up a bow to Nekomata.

"Likewise, Niijima Makoto," Nekomata replied.

Makoto was taken aback. "Wait, how do you know my name?"

Ren smirked. “It’s like you’ve been watching over us.”

"We are Nigitama, Guardian Spirits that are born from the light of human faith and belief. We have observed the modern world on a daily basis since the dawn of recorded history." Nekomata explained, basing his knowledge on his interactions with humanity. "Human society is an interesting and fickle kind. For as long as humanity wanted peace, they’ve always returned to their warring ways. Back in the feudal era of the Warring States up to the Genna Era, there were prominent wars over the possession of Amrita."

"Amrita? I know some of my party members used techniques with the name, but what exactly is it?” Ren asked the sage spirit.

"In Hinduism, Amrita means immortality as a gift of the Devas. They are mystical spirit stones that grant power for humans and us Guardian Spirits. But, they are also one of the main sources for the Yokai. Known as the Aratama, these fiends are born from the darkness of human’s self-loathing and resentment. Nigitama and Aratama have long opposed one another."

Just then, Makoto realized. "Wait, could the Amrita have been responsible for bringing the Yokai and those other monsters into our world? Could someone have rediscovered the Amrita?”

Suddenly, a series of spiritual energies congregated and materialized in front of the Phantom Thieves and Nekomata. As if he was expecting company, Nekomata turned to meet a wall of ethereal white light. More Sengoku Era figures emerged from the wall of light.

“Good to see you’ve all arrived. William, our guests are here.” Nekomata addressed the first of a few spiritual figureheads.

The group faced a non-Japanese, pale blonde-haired Irish man in Japanese gray samurai armor with a blue cape. He has his hair tied in a ponytail.

“That’s… that’s William Adams, who also went by the title, ‘the Blue-Eyed Samurai,’” Yusuke fell into astonishment over the Irishman’s presence.

Futaba glanced over William. “Cool, so there were non-Japanese people in samurai armor then.”

“Hattori Hanzo, it’s good to see you again,” Nekomata addressed a black and gray uniformed Jōnin ninja.

The legendary ninja removed his mask and bowed to the Thieves. "Greetings, Phantom Thieves of Hearts. We are so honored to meet you."

“No way! Hattori Hanzo?! That’s a name I’ve heard of!” Futaba exclaimed.

“Okatsu, our guests are here!” Nekomata beckoned as out came a kunoichi in a blue ninja uniform and a black shirt underneath the uniform.

Facing William and Hanzo, Okatsu approached them. She, too, bowed to the Thieves.

“Date Masamune,” Nekomata called forth the next historical figure: a blue and black armored warrior with a right eyepatch and a yellow crescent fashioned on his helmet. The man joined with William, Hanzo, and Okatsu in unison.

“Date Masamune, too?!” Yusuke let out a shocked gasp. “These are some of the more revered legends and historical figures of our country’s past together!”

Futaba patted Yusuke’s shoulder. “Easy, Inari. Don’t go fainting on us.”

“No, this is a very surreal experience, guys,” Makoto added, intrigued by the spiritual presence of the aforementioned figureheads.

“Do you guys remember when we went to Sendai a couple of years ago?” Ren called their time in Sendai when incidents broke out there.

“Yeah, that’s the city of Date Masamune! We saw his statue there!” Ann remembered, facing the historical figurehead in front of them.

Ryuji’s mouth dropped. “Man, that’s really him.”

"I remember reading about these people in historical stories and classes," Yusuke stated. "Especially the One-Eyed Dragon of Ōshu that wielded the Blue Dragon Guardian Spirit."

“Ah, but that’s not all,” Nekomata called forth three more individuals.

William turned toward the three individuals emerging from the wall of light. “Ah yes, we cannot forget about you two.” He and his three colleagues turned as a large, robust man emerged.

The man is garbed in a tattered set of clothing, including a bright yellow shirt over a long-sleeved green undershirt, thick black leggings, black-armored leg garments, and dark brown open-toed straw sandals. His overall wardrobe appeared older than what William, Hanzo, Okatsu, and the other spirits have on. A yellow belt with a white sheet with Japanese characters embellished over it rounded out his waist. A red cloth, fashioned like a bandana, is tied around his neck. Covering his forehead is a dark brown cloth. While not too conspicuous from a first glance, he has a sword sheathed behind him.

A Guardian Spirit resembling a monkey materialized next to the large man. Its baby blue eyes scanned the large man, finally settling on the Thieves. It is largely covered in white fur. Its yellow mane resembled a crown adorned its head and face. It also has tufts of golden fur resembling flames covering most of its chest. It has on black wrist guards with yellow flamed markings emblazoned on them. Squeaking at the guests, the monkey spirit floated around the man.

“This is Tokichiro, otherwise known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi,” Nekomata introduced the first of the three newcomer spirits.

“This is the actual Toyotomi Hideyoshi?” Yusuke asked Nekomata and the other spirits.

“He is indeed. He would become Japan’s second greatest unifier.” Hanzo clarified.

Tokichiro acknowledged everyone with a customary bow. “Good day to you all. You can also call me Tokichiro.” He addressed the Thieves in a relaxed manner. He petted his monkey spirit. “And this here is my friend Masaru! Say hi to our guests, Masaru!”

The monkey spirit greeted the Phantom Thieves with lively squeaks.

“Aww, how cute!” Ann and Haru said together.

Taking full notice of Masaru, Morgana devilishly grinned. “Hey, look, Ryuji. One of your relatives?” Morgana teased the Phantom Thief.

“Heheh, yeah. Very funny, cat,” quipped Ryuji, pressing his knuckles into Morgana’s back.

“Merow!” Morgana screeched.

However, Ann quickly chastised them with an intense glare. “Hey, knock it off, you two!”

“Come on, my friends! We have guests!” Nekomata beckoned the remaining two spirits.

Stepping out of the wall of light, the second spirit is a younger man with unkempt neck-length black hair. A faded black mustache and goatee made up his face. His choice of clothing consists of thick brown animal fur, covering most of the right side of his body. On his left side, he has on a dark blue upper body garment with a brown shirt under it. He has dark blue pants and black legwear. He has dark brown straw sandals. The man’s steel gaze eyed the crowds facing him.
.
Nekomata went on. “This man has no real name. The few who have accompanied him often refer to him as Hide.”

Hide bowed to the Thieves.

“You have no real name, huh? They just call you ‘Hide’?” Haru added, garnering the second spirit’s attention.

“Yes, it’s a name he went by!” Tokichiro replied. “But, personally, I liked calling him ‘Hiddy’. Right, Hiddy?” The man jovially laughed while slapping Hide’s back. “But everyone else just called him Hide. And did you know he’s a half-Yokai and half-human? We often call his kind Shiftlings.”

“He’s a human and Yokai hybrid?” Yusuke blinked. “How astonishing.”

“But, how Shifting?” Makoto queried.

“Because he would shift between forms in the heat of battle. You oughta see him when he really cuts loose! Hiddy’s a monster in battle!” Tokichiro heartily laughed, causing Hide to sigh deeply.

“Yes, that much is true. My father can attest to Hide’s strength while training with him,” Hanzo recalled his father’s previous spar matches with Hide.

Hide faced the wall of light as the spirit materialized, taking on the form of a young huntress woman with dark brown, neck-length hair. She has on a full-bodied red outfit with an armored waist belt and battle dress. The woman has on a black coat with feathers covering the topmost areas. A necklace full of bones and beads comprised her neckline. She has on black sandals. In her right hand is a black scythe roughly the same length as the woman’s body base.

Appearing beside the huntress is a mermaid whose body consists of clear white, greenish blue, and purple colorations. Adorning this Guardian Spirit’s head is a light purple jellyfish, doubling itself as a hat. The woman’s hair and face remain largely pale. Her eyes are obscured by the long strands of white hair and the jellyfish’s tendrils.

“And this is Mumyo, leader of the Sohaya people, a Yokai hunting clan,” William introduced the huntress.

“And her Guardian Spirit is Yaonami-Hime, thought to have been a princess that was turned into a mermaid following an unfortunate incident,” Okatsu stated.

Mumyo then went into her Guardian Spirit’s origins. “In truth she devoured the flesh of a mermaid and was granted immortality. Needless to say, her immortality came at a price as she witnessed all her loved ones pass away one by one. Unable to bear this tragedy and cope with the loneliness, she drowned herself and deep in the water’s surface she turned into a mermaid.”

“These three were around long before William reached Japan,” Nekomata said.

“Hiddy and I played big roles during our time together serving under Lord Nobunaga. I was a traveling peddler of Spirit Stones and I had a driving ambition to rule as a leader. I would realize my dream and become Hideyoshi. However, a dark evil corrupted me and drove me to accomplish my goals with malicious intent, which stood against what I wanted.” Tokichiro added, sighing regrettably. Facing Hide and Mumyo, he gave them an apologetic look. “And because of that I nearly destroyed our bonds.”

Mumyo nodded. “We’ve already forgiven you. Right, Hide?” To which he nodded and smiled toward Tokichiro.

“Thank you, Hiddy,” Tokichiro graciously said.
"And to answer any questions you may have,we once dealt with intruders such as Edward Kelley and Maria who’ve amassed Amrita, which has brought conflict to the land,” William informed the Phantom Thieves.

"We sensed that someone enigmatic and wretched might be using the stones right now," Okatsu said.

"There's also the mysterious anomaly that's not from this world which ties into this," Masamune added.

"In fact, we sensed his presence in Shinjuku," Nekomata announced.

"Really?" Ren raised an eyebrow.

"Shinjuku? But that's not far from our location!" Ann exclaimed.

"Not only him, but there are three individuals who’ve recently acquired Guardian Spirits.” Nekomata clarified.

“They should have Guardian Spirits like ours,” Tokichiro pointed out.

"Wait, there are three who have Guardian Spirits now?” Yusuke asked.

“And you referred to this anomaly as him. Now, I’m interested,” Makoto astutely said.

William added. "Yes, their involvement is unexpected. Of course, we don't know if they and the anomaly are on our side."

"And that's why there's another reason why we're here." Ren addressed the spirits. "I went to the Velvet Room and discussed my concerns about the recent events. They suggested seeking out and recruiting you.”

Nekomata nodded. "Yes, we are aware. We have been acquainted with Igor and his assistance. Cognitive Personas are a wonderful thing, but working together alongside spiritual folklore is fascinating."

"Will you join us?" Ren asked Nekomata.

"On behalf of my colleagues, it would be my pleasure to join you on your quest, Phantom Thieves." Nekomata offered his services.

"Sounds like this is going to be a great partnership,” Morgana remarked. “Just what we need is another talking animal companion.”

"Haha, sounds like you're jealous that another cat is joining us!" Ryuji snidely joked at Morgana’s expense.

"Like hell I’m not!" Morgana retorted at Ryuji.

“Chill out, you two!” Ann chided them.

“Sorry, Lady Ann,” the black cat apologized.

"It is time for us to go. We wish you well, Phantom Thieves." William announced.

"Good luck on this journey," Okatsu said.

"Do not let your guards down," Masamune reminded the younglings.

"Stay safe, heroes," Hanzo bid his farewell.

“Yeah, do your best and take those Yokai down!” Tokichiro cheered the Thieves. “Ain’t that right, Hiddy?”

Hide nodded.

Then, the spirits of William, Hanzo, Okatsu, Masamune, Tokichiro, Hide, and Mumyo disappeared into the wall of light. As the divine door closed, bewilderment overtook the Phantom Thieves.

Futaba blinked. "Whoa, now that was freaking awesome."

"Indeed, now you see why these legendary figures are so revered?” Yusuke said with admiration for the spirits.

"Now, we know what we must do,” Ren turned to meet the other Thieves. “We’ll need to confront this anomaly and these three with Guardian Spirits.

"Are we all set?" Makoto asked the Phantom Thief leader.

"Yeah, we're off to Shinjuku," Ren announced to his team.



Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/4:52 PM (JST)

Scouring through Shinjuku, Hifumi, Sion, and the three gamblers viewed the prefecture’s landmarks and went into several store outlets. As his mind tried to take in everything he'd seen in this modern world, Sion was still overwhelmed with shock. Although, much to the Revenant’s relief, there were a few who spoke English fluently for him to understand and communicate with.




Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁舎)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/5:15 PM (JST)

Known in short as the Tochō, this area was the next sight for the trio. Hifumi explained to Sion the significance of the government building. Admiring the prestige of the building, the Revenant learned how humans in this dimension handled government policies.

Not one to let this opportunity pass, Yumeko took a selfie of herself, Yumeko decided to do a selfie with herself, Ryōta, and Mary near the government building. Then, Yumeko took another with the three of them, Hifumi and Sion. Almost hesitant to get in for a selfie, Sion was convinced by Yumeko that’d make a great souvenir for Hifumi.

Glancing over the selfie with them, a genuine smile spread over Hifumi’s face. Sion smiled back at her.




Kabukichō (歌舞伎町)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/5:25 PM (JST)

The group later visited the red-light district. Thankfully, it is not nightfall yet, allowing them to scour this section of Shinjuku. They headed up a girder bridge to get a better view of the buildings and the busy roads.

“This is a really nice view,” muttered Sion, enjoying a glimpse of the local infrastructure.

“I’m glad you like it, Sion,” Hifumi smiled.

“If this is a red-light district, then there should be a place to gamble!” Yumeko exclaimed, flailing her arms around. Mary quickly grabbed the Compulsive Gambler’s arms.

“Down, girl,” remarked Mary.

“Want to move on to the next sight-seeing location?” Hifumi asked Sion.

“Sure, lead on.”

Near the same area, the group scoured outside a Toho cinema known as the Shinjuku Toho Building. Next to the cinema plaza is a store decorated with Godzilla advertisements and memorabilia. Situated next to the cinema plaza is a tall skyscraper with a Godzilla statue.
“And that skyscraper there is called the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku,” Ryōta pointed to the infrastructure with the Godzilla statue.

“And that giant monster you said is called Godzilla?” Sion blinked at the iconic Japanese monster.

“Yep, he’s a famous movie monster and one of our country’s symbols!” Yumeko enthusiastically added.

As they entered the Godzilla-themed store, the group glanced over the array of action figures and shirts. Shown on several TV screens are Godzilla films from the past and present eras: the Shōwa (including the original 1954 film), Heisei and Millennium series of films alongside Shin Godzilla, the Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters trilogy, and the Godzilla Legendary Films.

Sion was flabbergasted by the reverence for a Japanese movie monster. No, a movie icon. He didn’t realize he was in a place with historical pop culture significance for many generations.

“So, what do you think, Sion?” Hifumi asked, breaking Sion out of his mesmerized state.

“T-This is incredible. What else is there to see?”

Yumeko raised a hand. “I know a place!”



Cat Café Calico/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/5:53 PM (JST)

“Isn’t this place just great?!” The group’s entrance into the cat café accompanied Yumeko’s giddy laughter. Running over to meet the adorable cats wandering the floors, the Compulsive Gambler naturally made herself right at home and lied on the ground. “Merow!” She beckoned for the cats over to her.

Scanning through the café, the Hifumi, Sion, Mary, and Ryōta saw cats resting on couches and cats climbing trees.

“These cats…” Sion blinked, eyeing the free-roaming animals.

“Yes, you may pet them, but we have a do not hold cat policy,” one of the cat café workers informed the group.

The group watched tourists petting some of the cats. Pivoting across the cat café, they saw two tourists, a young man and a woman from Melbourne, Australia, skimming through a manga collection. There was a female European couple petting a brown tabby cat.

Suddenly, several cats circled and rubbed against the Revenant, seemingly drawn to his presence. Urging him to pet one, Hifumi crouched over to pet a black and white spectacled cat. Facing a black cat, Sion reluctantly reached over to pet it. The cat leaned over, letting SIon pet his head. The other cats joined in receiving head pats and neck rubs. Feeling more at ease with the cats’ company, a warm smile formed on his face.

“This feels nice and cozy. Definitely different from where I’m from.”

Mary curiously asked. “What part of European are you from, Sion?” She tried to pry an answer from the enigmatic Revenant.

Before he could answer, a white cat suddenly hopped on Sion’s back. Then using him as a platform, it bounced onto a bench nearest to him. Taken aback by the cat’s sneak pounce, Sion heard Hifumi chuckling.

“Are you… really laughing at that?” Sion gawked at her.

“Sorry, but that was cute what that cat did,” Hifumi apologized.

Mary smirked. “You should’ve seen the look on your face.”

“Yumeko! Get off the floor!” Ryōta was heard yelling at the Compulsive Gambler, who was lying on the floor and acting like a feline.

Meowing with a coy smile, Yumeko crawled up to Hifumi and Sion. “What do you think? I’m a naughty cat! Meow!” She pressed her knuckles against her face like a cat would with its paw. This elicited awkward glances toward her abnormal behavior.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Sion balked at the Compulsive Gambler’s odd behavior.

“YUMEKO!” Yelled Ryōta and Mary, quickly pulling up their friend and saving her further embarrassment.

“Do you really want to act like a house pet again?” Ryōta asked Yumeko, reminding her of her low ranked status back at the academy.

Mary sighed. “God, please don’t do that again.”

Hifumi leaned into Sion’s ear, whispering. “Want to move along?”

“Yeah, might as well.”




Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/6:23 PM (JST)

Having seen enough of the Shinjuku ward, the group headed over to Japan’s famous park. Despite some civilians and tourists in the area, Hifumi, Sion, and the three gamblers admired the peaceful atmosphere.

Letting out a deep breath, Sion sighed happily. “That was a great time. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long while.”

“That’s great to hear. I’m glad,” Hifumi nodded approvingly.

“Meow!” Yumeko playfully teased Sion, crawling around him. This prompted Mary to ear grab her.

“Hey, what did I just say?!” Mary chastised the Compulsive Gambler.

Ryōta shook his head. “Oh boy, you’re a handful, Yumeko.”

“Oh please, have some etiquette already, Jabami-san,” Hifumi lectured the eccentric gambler.

As they headed midway through the park, ominous energy materialized, alarming the group. Out of warning, a pocket dimension made of clear light unseen by any other bystanders formed over the group. The pocket dimension trapped Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers.

“Hey, what the hell is going on here?!” Mary exclaimed as her Guardian Spirits, Janomecho & Enku, appeared. It didn’t take long for Yumeko’s Nine-Tails and Ryōta’s Kato & Genbu to appear.

Suddenly, a black aura formed over Sion’s new civilian clothing and his Revenant attire returned.

“Hey, your clothes!” Ryōta exclaimed as he and the gamblers noticed his attire change.

“Is this part of that power of yours?” Queried Yumeko.

“Ok, fess up! What’s the deal with those clothes?” Mary harshly raised her tone at Sion.

Hifumi scanned the surrounding pocket dimension. “I don’t think that matters now. Sion, is this not like what happened to us last time when we fought that one Yokai and Lost?”

“It appears so,” Sion suspiciously eyed the pocket dimension. “This isn’t good.”

Just then, the pocket dimension started shifting.

“What now?!” Mary exclaimed.

“I don’t like this. Something’s coming,” Sion scowled as Hifumi turned to him with despair.
 

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Chapter IV: Phantom Thieves vs. The Revenant

Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)/Shinjuku, Tokyo (新宿区, 東京)/6:30 PM (JST)

Upon arriving at the park, the Phantom Thieves scoured for the anomaly that William alluded to. As soon as they started looking, they were being pulled by the same force pulling in Sion, Hifumi, and the three gamblers.

“Hey, what’s happening?!” Haru cried out.

“I can’t move!” Yusuke yelled out.

The Thieves were transported into the exact pocket dimension. Much like what happened with Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers, no civilians noticed their disappearance.

As they opened their eyes, not only were they inside the pocket dimension but donned their Metaverse attires again.

“Wow, that was weird!” Oracle blinked, looking over her Phantom Thief attire and adjusting her goggles.

"But how is this possible?" Fox pondered. "We didn’t willingly invoke our Metaverse forms.”

"Not just that, we have company." Joker alerted his teammates as they faced Hifumi, Sion, Yumeko, Ryōta, and Mary.

Of Hifumi’s group, shock overcame Hifumi as she faced the Phantom Thieves, but most of all she recognized Joker the moment he and his friends entered the pocket dimension. That brief moment she saw Ren transform into Joker.

Taken aback by her presence, Joker yelped. “Hifumi?!”

“Amamiya Ren?! So, it is you!” Hifumi cried out.

“Wait, you know one of the Phantom Thieves, Hifumi?!” Yumeko gasped.

“I can’t believe the Phantom Thieves are here!” Ryōta cried out.

“So, what else about you do we not know about?” Mary asked Hifumi.

Sion intensely glared at the Phantom Thieves, sensing an urge of danger. “You’re the Phantom Thieves? No, it can’t be.”

"Wait, the Togo Hifumi from my high school?!" Fox yelled out, identifying the famous Shogi player.

Recognizing his voice and mannerisms, Hifumi turned toward Fox. “Is that you, Kitagawa Yusuke?!”

"I remember meeting Hifumi before, but that's not the point here," Queen remarked, facing Sion with a fierce gaze. "I take it that he's the anomaly we've been looking for."

In response to Queen’s baseless accusation, Sion intently faced the Phantom Thieves. "And how do I know you’re not as you say you are?!”

"You have some nerve to say that!" Queen gritted, taking offense to the Revenant’s retort.

"Wait, what if this is just a misunderstanding, Queen?” Noir wondered. “Look, Hifumi and those other three are unharmed.”

“He also seems to be speaking clear English,” Mona comprehended Sion’s language.

“Thankfully Nekomata granted us the secondary ability to translate anything we couldn’t understand before,” Fox stated. “That certainly saves us the issue of language barriers.”

“And not to mention I’m here. I’m bilingual and can understand everything he says!” Panther exclaimed.

“And who the heck are these three?” Skull turned toward the three gamblers.

Just then, Nekomata materialized in front of the Thieves. “Ah yes, so my ability to allow you to translate and understand other languages works well. That’s good. And for your information, those three just happen to possess Guardian Spirits.” With his eyes canning the gamblers, he first identified Nine Tails right next to Yumeko. “Young lady, is that the Nine Tails next to you?”

“Why yes, but how did you know?” Yumeko asked.

Facing Nekomata, Mary furrowed her brows. “That’s because he’s one of the revered spirits. Well, since you know we have Guardian Spirits.” She showed off Janomecho and Enku. “Go on, Ryōta. Show him yours.”

“If you say so,” Ryōta complied as Genbu and Kato materialized next to him.

Seeing the Guardian Spirits, the Phantom Thieves were taken aback.

“They summoned them like Personas!” Noir cried out.

“Amazing, these are some of the Guardian Spirits! The Nine Tails as well! Yodo-gimi was said to have inherited that Guardian Spirit.” Fox admired the spirits’ mystic presences. He veered over to Mary. “And that’s Janomecho, once wielded by Sanada Yukimura.”

“How did they acquire these spirits?” Mona wondered as Nekomata answered his and the Thieves’ concern.

“It must have something to do with that source that restored your Metaverse powers, Phantom Thieves. These three likely inherited these Guardian Spirits due to the sinister energy’s presence,” Nekomata explained.

Readying to attack, Sion stood his ground from the approaching Joker.

“Look, why don’t we talk and sort this out? We don’t need to fight,” Joker cautiously walked up to the wary Revenant.

“Back off!” Sion resisted, hardening his gaze and gritting his teeth. In response to Joker’s advance, the Revenant’s eyes glowed red. “I said back off now!” He shouted as the Queenslayer Blade materialized in his right hand. His course of action alarmed the Phantom Thieves, prompting them to prepare for battle.

“Sion, stop this!” Hifumi pleaded, grabbing a hold of his right arm.

“Please stay back, Hifumi! I’m the one they want!” The Revenant beckoned her away, standing between her and the Thieves. With his eyes on the Phantom Thieves, the Revenant pointed his single-edged sword at them. “This is your last warning!”

“Hey, let’s not fight, you guys,” Ryōta pleaded to Sion and the Thieves.

Mary pulled Ryōta back. “I don’t think they’re listening, especially not Sion.” She eyed the Revenant very so closely.

“Yes, c’mon let’s all try and get along?” Yumeko suggested.

On the other hand, Nekomata viewed the situation differently. “I doubt anything you say will stop them. That young man is resonating with anomalous energy. It’s perhaps the source William, myself, and the others referred to.”

“Then, he’s the one Igor hinted at,” Joker said, quickly drawing out his Paradise Lost Dagger. “One way or another, we’re going to make you talk.” Dropping into a battle stance, the other Thieves followed suit and conjured their choice weapons.

With his eyes glowing red, Sion merely scoffed. “I have nothing to say!” With that, the Revenant’s facial mask reformed and red electrical bolts coursed through his body.

“Please don’t!” Hifumi pleaded, but Nekomata cut her off.

“I sense you have a power similar to that young man. Why don’t you call upon it to stop him?” Nekomata asked the Shogi player, who veered away looking ashamed.

“Because I don’t wish to fight Ren and his friends. They’re not our enemy.”

“Well, you better convince him, because he’s raring to beat them down if you don’t do something!” Mary called out.

Before Hifumi could intervene, it was too late.

Dashing ahead with his intent to protect himself and Hifumi, Sion swung his Queenslayer Blade at the Phantom Thieves. Swinging his sword with reckless abandon, he watched the Thieves split up, but Joker remained standing in front of him. Sion’s eyes widened, seeing Joker’s dagger holding back his sword.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” warned Joker as blue flames erupted from his mask, and from these flames Joker conjured a Persona. “Cait Sith!” A purple cat, invoking the appearance of Puss in Boots, with a red hat, cape, boots appears with a sword in hand. Sending Cait Sith into battle, the Persona stopped Sion’s sword strike.

With Joker’s Cait Sith occupying Sion, the Thieves prepared to attack the Revenant on their own. Suddenly to their surprise, and Joker’s, Sion swiftly bisected Cait Sith with his sword. Quickly dispatching of the Persona, Sion veered his sights on the Thieves.

He ran head-on with Joker, only for Skull, Panther, and Mona to cut him off. Throwing her whip at him, Panther tried to ensnare him, but the Revenant battered the whip away with his sword. Springing high into the air, Skull fell down and slammed his mace over Sion’s sword. While guarding himself against Skull’s direct attack, Mona lunged at the Revenant with his scimitar. Nearly stabbing Sion, Mona’s attack missed as Sion sidestepped him. As Skull dropped down and went for another mace attack, Sion swiftly kicked him off his feet.

“Damn, he’s fast! Watch yourselves!” Mona exclaimed.

Running steadfast while Sion had his back turned, Fox shoved his katana through the Revenant. Sensing the Thief’s sneak attack a mile away, Sion seized Fox’s katana and instinctively activated a Blood Veil. The Thieves, Nekomata, and the gamblers watched in horror as Sion’s right arm transformed into a dark armored demonic-looking limb equipped with sharp claws.

“Fox, look out!” Queen yelled as the claw reached for Fox. Roaring fiercely against her foe, Queen’s Sabazois knuckles connected with Sion’s Ogre-Type Blood Veil, knocking the Blood Veil back with force.

Recoiling his Blood Veil, a look of shock spread across Sion’s face. With his guard down, Noir fired a round of bullets at the Revenant’s direction. Sion’s Blood Veil quickly intercepted Noir’s bullets.

Scanning Sion from a distance, Oracle warned. “I’m not getting a single reading on this guy. He’s definitely not from our world! Be careful, guys!”

“You can deflect bullets. Let’s see if you can take them from all directions?” Joker drew out his Tyrant Pistol. “Ready fire!” Following his command, a barrage of bullets sailed out of the Thieves’ guns and headed for Sion.

Seemingly caught in an omnidirectional barrage of bullets, Sion’s demonic hand vanished. Then, the long metal tail reformed from the back of his coat. Swinging the metal tail around, Sion’s Stinger-Type Blood Veil casually batted away the Thieves’ bullets. No bullet hit Sion.

Skull’s mouth dropped at this bullet-stopping feat. “Holy shit, what the hell is this guy?!”

Panther was aghast. “So, he can make weapons out of thin air?!”

Sion growled. “I warned you not to fight me. You’ve brought this on yourselves, Phantom Thieves!”

Queen scowled. “We only came to investigate and ask questions. You’re the one who attacked us first!”

“Everyone, please stop!” Hifumi called out.

“What now, Joker? Our bullets aren’t going to get through that ultimate defense of his,” Mona asked.

“We’ll use our Personas, everyone!” Joker announced.

With that, the Thieves summoned their strongest Personas. Blue pillars of flames materialized in front of the Thieves, each conjuring their respective Persona. Raoul emerged first beside Joker. The other Personas: William, Diego, Celestine, Gorokichi, Agnes, Al Azif, and Lucy appeared.

The other onlookers were astonished by the Thieves’ Personas. Hifumi almost couldn’t believe she was right in the thick of seeing the Thieves up close.

“I see now. These are the Personas that Igor mentioned to me,” Nekomata mused. “They are much like Guardian Spirits to some degree.”

Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds against him, the Revenant stood his ground. He dashed forward, swinging his Queenslayer Blade at Joker and Raoul. Skull’s Persona, William, hastily swept across, knocking Sion away. Conjuring Matarukaja, Skull buffed up his whole party’s attack powers.

“Here we go!” Joker yelled, making a fast beeline for Sion and slashing him with his dagger. However, Sion blocked Joker’s dagger with his sword.

“You aren’t going to beat me with that!” Sion shouted in Joker’s face. Just then, he heard the loud bang from a grenade launcher. Quickly turning to the far right, Noir’s One-Shot Kill knocked the Queenslayer Blade from his hand.

Noir’s Persona, Lucy, unveiled her dress, revealing guns firing projectiles at the bewildered Revenant. Evading the barrage blasts, Sion sensed a shot being fired from the far left, evading Mona’s slingshot. However, Mona’s Persona, Diego, sliced his rapier around, unleashing Garudyne. As he evaded Diego’s wind attack, Joker swiftly came behind the Revenant and slashed his back.

Gnashing his teeth, Sion growled through his masked mouthguard. A devious grin crossed Joker’s face.

“Didn’t see me coming that time,” the Trickster snickered.

“I’m just getting started!” Sion chuckled, invoking one of his Gifts through his Blood Code: Queenslayer. First, his second weapon, Hanemukuro, appeared in Sion’s right hand, which he used to slash Joker with.

Backing off, Joker was met with a barrage of strikes from Sion. With his Circulating Pulse Gift, the Revenant knocked the Phantom Thief away.

“Don’t get too carried away!” Roared Queen as she dashed over and unloaded a flurry of punches and kicks at Sion. Keeping up with the rapid footed Queen, Sion countered all of her blows with his single-edged blade. “Surrender now!”

“I won’t!” Sion resisted, countering and matching Queen blow for blow. During the heated exchange, the Revenant removed his mask, baring his vampiric fangs, briefly scaring Queen.

Just then, Queen’s Persona, Agnes, smashed head-on with Sion and knocked him far back. Before Queen went for her next attack, Panther’s whip struck Sion’s back. Unleashing Agidyne, she and Celestine bombarded Sion with flames. The Revenant used another one of his Gifts, Frenzied Fire, and nullified Panther’s attack.

Summoning his metal tail again, Sion swung it toward Panther’s direction. Celestine cut off Sion’s attack. Queen dashed over and punched Sion’s metal tail, nearly breaking it into two.

Skull then shocked Sion with Ziodyne. With Gorokichi’s help, Fox’s Brave Blade stunned the Revenant, hitting him with a devastating sword slash.

Suddenly, as the metal tail vanished, another Blood Veil took its place: the Hound-Type Blood Veil. Coming out from the Revenant’s back are two wolf-like canine heads. The menacing hound heads growled and attacked Skull & Fox. William and Gorokichi defended them from Sion’s Hound-Type Blood Veil.

“Hang on!” Queen added, restored the Thieves’ health with Mediaharan. With that, the party regrouped while the Revenant planned his next attack.

Through the course of the battle, the Revenant became impressed with the Thieves’ effective teamwork. Their tactics reminded him of his and his Revenant colleagues’ style of attack, minus the use of Personas.

“Man, he’s taking most of all we got!” Skull exclaimed, impressed with Sion’s sheer tenacity.

“We’ve got to wear him down, guys. We still need him to talk to us,” Mona firmly stated.

“Right, and we will,” Joker nodded, conjuring another Persona with Raoul. “Lucifer!” The aforementioned Persona materialized, taking the form of a large sea green-skinned, long-horned humanoid demon with six 15-feet wide wings, three on each side of its body, and with long, shaggy yellow hair. Its yellow eyes scanned over Sion. With a scowl, Lucifer’s face contorted with fury.

Diving toward Sion, the Revenant rolled away. Quickly picking up his Queenslayer Blade, Sion brandished his two swords to take on their Personas.

“I don’t know what monster that is, but I’ll slay it like I would any lost!” The Revenant jumped up, swinging his swords at Lucifer.

Evading Sion’s attacks, the Lucifer Persona repelled Sion.

With its Morning Star attack, the demonic Persona swiftly brought Sion down. As Joker dashed over to strike Sion, the Revenant quickly jumped up and slashed him with his swords. Drawing from Raoul’s passive power, Joker blasted Sion with Blazing Hell, sending him flying back and all the while losing his swords.

After being felled by Joker’s devastating attack, the Revenant used his healing Gift, Cleansing Light, to restore some of his health. As Joker went for a dagger strike, Sion planted a hand to the ground, summoning ivy spikes from the ground. Almost getting skewered by the spikes, Joker hopped several times backward.

“Sheesh,” breathed Joker, staring intensely at the spikes that could’ve turned him into a pincushion.

“I’ll clear the way!” Panther declared, unleashing Maragidyne to burn away the ivy spikes. Throwing her whip forward, she ensnared and jerked Sion forward.

Struggling to break loose, Sion briefly struggled. Before getting the chance to invoke a Blood Veil, he heard the stomping of feet and turned. The next thing he felt was a powerful force colliding with the left side of his face. He noted Queen with her fist firmly planted in his face.

“Now, Noir!” Queen called in for assistance. Queen then blasted Sion with Atomic Flare. Noir followed through and blasted him with Psiodyne. However, while invoking his Ogre-Type Blood Veil, Sion broke loose from his restraints and knocked away the two Thieves.

“Queen, Noir!” Mona cried out.

“Now you’ve made it personal, asshole!” Skull roared, running over and madly swinging his mace at the Revenant.

Sion dodged each unfocused swing. Batting away a mace swing, Sion quickly grabbed Skull and planted him face-first to the ground. Coming to Skull’s rescue, Fox fought off Sion with his katana. Shooting off Bufudyne, Fox froze Sion’s path.

Getting to her feet, Queen’s face contorted with anger. Gnashing her teeth, she made a beeline for Sion. She and Fox double teamed on Sion.

“Don’t think you’ve beaten me easily!” Queen fiercely cried out, delivering consecutive jabs and body shots to Sion as if he were a punching bag. Sion gritted and doubled over some of her blows.

While Fox and Queen fought off the Revenant, Joker summoned another Persona. “Black Frost!” He summoned a black snowman-like blob creature with impish red eyes and a devious grin with two sharp fangs. It has on a purple two-pronged hat, a neck ruffle, and pointed shoes.

Entering the fray, the Black Frost Persona blasted Sion with Diamond Dust, After being inflicted freezing damage, the Revenant summoned his two hound heads. The heads delivered powerful bites, crushing the ice attack.

Drawing more power from Raoul, Joker quickly made a mad dash for Sion. Unleashing untold damage with Eigaon, he and Raoul crushed the hound heads. Then, readying his dagger, he slashed Sion multiple times before kicking him down. Throwing his dagger at Sion, Joker stabbed him in his right shoulder. Then, after ripping out his dagger, he kicked the Revenant into the air.

After slashing him, Joker slipped away and let Mona slingshot Sion’s head. This dazed Sion enough to send him falling.

“Now, Oracle!” Queen ordered.

"You got it!" Oracle then used Al Azif’s abilities to temporarily paralyze Sion, holding him in place.

"Hey! Wh-What is this?!" Sion struggled to break loose to no avail. He couldn’t even summon his Blood Veil or Gifts to bail him out.

"Alright, team! We have him where we want! All-Out Attack!" Mona declared.

With that, the Phantom Thieves, except Oracle, congregated and rushed head on with Sion, unleashing a lightning fast beatdown.

"Beat him up!" Oracle cheered loudly.

From Sion’s perspective, the lasting images he saw was a bright crimson background with black silhouettes zipping all over the place like fast moving ninjas. Then, Sion reopened his eyes, finding himself attacked omnidirectionally by the Thieves. Despite the severe beatdown, Sion endured every second of damage the Phantom Thieves dished out.

The end came when Sion’s face contorted. His eyes saw Queen punching him down to the ground.

“Sion!” Hifumi cried out as she dashed over to him. The gamblers, too, followed her, but Sion with one arm beckoned them off, especially Hifumi. She then watched the Phantom Thieves point their guns to Sion.

"Surrender now." Joker coldly warned, his finger almost gripping the trigger.

“Ren, don’t!” Hifumi pleaded to him.

"Okay, that’s enough!" Nekomata interjected, quickly appearing in front of the Phantom Thieves. As the Thieves backed off, the wise Yokai eased the tension between them and Sion’s affairs. “There’s no need to drag this nonsensical battle. Having assessed the battle, I see this man bears no ill will, but he fights to protect this woman and the three Guardian Spirit wielders.”

“Maybe so, but he attacked us first,” Mona frowned.

“It will be better if we put aside our differences and focus on finding the true source.”

“So, this guy isn’t the anomalous source that unleashed those monsters?” Noir asked.

Skull groaned. "Great, why didn't you tell us sooner?"

"Hey, good news! The strange energy that pulled us here is fading!" Oracle announced as the pocket dimension containing them dissipating like fog smoke.

As the pocket dimension vanished, the Phantom Thieves and Sion’s civilian clothing returned. The Personas are gone, too.

“Whoa, we’re back!” Ryuji scanned the familiar park grounds.

“Not a moment too soon. Thankfully nobody was around,” Makoto paused, noticing the lack of bystanders and crowd at this early evening hour.

“Yes, and look! Not a single scratch to the area,” Yusuke pointed at the park’s conditions.

While Hifumi tended to Sion, her eyes met Ren’s.

Smiling, Hifumi properly addressed him. “So, we meet again, Amamiya Ren.”

“It has, Hifumi. But, what are you doing with…” He noticed Hifumi with an arm over Sion.

“My family and I have been housing him. Since the Olympic Games were canceled, Sion wasn’t sure where to go, so I asked my family if he could stay for a while.”

Makoto interjected. “No disrespect, Hifumi-san, but do you realize he has those dangerous abilities?”

“Yes, I do. I remember you from the Jinbōchō bookstore a few years back."

"Yes, I am Niijima Makoto. It’s nice to meet you again."

"Same here." Hifumi smiled back.

"Don't forget me, Hifumi-san." Yusuke stepped in.

"Yes, I do remember you, Kitagawa Yusuke." Hifumi reacquainted herself with her school mate. "You were the artist that strove to follow his dreams."

"Likewise so, Togo Hifumi." Yusuke replied back to her.

“So, doesn’t this guy’s crazy powers scare you?” Ann asked Hifumi.

“No, because thanks to him I have abilities, too,” the Shogi player casually answered.

“Wait, so you can turn your hand into a big demon hand and can shoot scorpion tails from your back?!” Futaba frantically asked her.

“No, nothing like that, but I can conjure a mask like his and I can wield a weapon.”

Upon hearing this from Hifumi, the Thieves looked to each other worryingly.

“Don’t worry. There are no bad side effects. I’m fine,” the Shogi player calmly reassured the Thieves.

Suddenly, Yumeko cleared her throat, garnering the attention of the Thieves.

“So, you guys are really them?! Oh my god, this is incredible!” Yumeko quickly walked up to the Thieves. “Nice to meet you. I’m Hifumi and Sion’s new friend, Jabami Yumeko!” She then introduced her two friends. “And these two are…”

Mary scoffed. “No need for you to introduce me. Hi, I’m Saotome Mary.”

Ryōta added. “Hello, Phantom Thieves. It’s an honor. I’m Suzui Ryōta.”

"Wait, that name sounds like Mogami Yumeko back in Shujin Academy!” Ann remembered one of their schoolmates.

Ryuji then added. “Hey, you’re right! We took care of her distorted Shadow back in Mementos!"

Ann closely observed Yumeko. “This Yumeko acts strangely familiar to the one from our school.”

Just noticing Morgana, Yumeko crouched down. “Aww, it’s a black cat!” Crawling over to him, she reached to cuddle him. “There! I’ve got you!” Lightly holding him, Morgana yelped.

“H-hey, what the hell?! Let me go!"

Quickly taken aback by the cat’s yell, Yumeko gasped and almost dropped him. “Did this cat just talk?! I could’ve sworn you just said something.” She then turned to the others, wondering if they heard the same voice. “Well? I’m not going crazy here, right? You heard this cat talk?”

“I’d normally say you’re a nut case, but I just saw that cat talk, too!” Mary concurred with the Compulsive Gambler.

“Well, we already have a talking cat with us,” Hifumi pointed to Nekomata. “What’s so strange about another one?”

“Well, just that this black cat looks just like a normal cat,” pointed out Ryōta.

“That cat is the same cat-like being that helped us fight against Sion just now,” Ann answered on Morgana’s behalf.

“Really?! That weird-looking thing with the slingshot is this cat?!” Yumeko did a double take before looking back at Morgana. The black cat let out an exasperated sigh.

“Yeah, that was me. Will you put me down now?”

“I’m so sorry!” Yumeko complied. After placing Morgana down, the Compulsive Gambler addressed Ann. “By the way, your voice sounds strangely like mine.”

“Really? You think so?”

“Hmph, like that really matters. Lady Ann, don’t pay her any mind,” Morgana scoffed, walking away from Yumeko.

Scanning each Guardian Spirit, Nekomata addressed the gamblers. “Hmm, yes. You three are the chosen new wielders.” He turned to Yumeko. “Jabami Yumeko, I presume?”

“Yes, and aren’t you a cute kitty,” Yumeko smiled to the spirit cat.

“Yes, and I see you’ve been chosen to wield the Nine Tails. You’re Oichi and Lady Chacha’s successor. I advise you to wield the Nine Tails well.” Nekomata then veered toward Mary. “You, Saotome Mary, now wield Janomecho and Enku. I understand Sanada Yukimura has given his blessings.”

Mary replied. “He did.”

“Good.” Nekomata pivoted toward Ryōta. “And you?”

“Yes?” Ryōta blinked.

“You now possess Kato and Genbu.”

“Yes, I do, sir!”

Nekomata gave a hearty laugh. “There’s no need to call me ‘sir, young man. However, you must know Genbu is a respected deity.”

“Of course, Genbu is one of the four guardian beasts.”

“Not only is Genbu one of the four fabled guardian beasts and the guardian of the north, but it was the Guardian Spirit of Tenkai, who was at one point Akechi Mitsuhide.” Nekomata clarified. “Suzui Ryōta, treat Genbu well and he will grant you great wisdom.”

Ryōta bowed. “I will.” After raising his head, Ryōta, Yumeko, and Mary watched Nekomata float around them.

“It’ll be an honor to work with you, Guardian Spirit successors.”

As Hifumi helped Sion to his feet, Ren confronted them and met Sion’s gaze.

“That leaves you. Since we’re no longer fighting, what’s your name?”

“Sion.”

Ren narrowed his eyes. “Is that it?”

“Yeah, that’s it. Look, I get the impression your cat friend told you I’m not from here,” Sion said, cautiously eyeing Nekomata.

“We were told you’re from another dimension or something like that,” stated Ryuji.

“Did they mention that I’m a Revenant? Or, some kind of vampire?” Sion asked.

Ann blinked. “Wow, you’re really a vampire?”

Yusuke folded his arms. “That would explain why your strength is superior.”

Makoto frowned. “I could tell the moment I saw your fangs up close.”

“It took us a great deal just to subdue you,” Morgana commented.

“Are all Revenants this strong?” Haru asked Sion.

“No, just me and my group of friends back home. We weren’t created equal,” Sion answered.

“And what are those dangerous weapons you used to fight us?” Futaba curiously asked as she checked over Sion’s arm. “Those were some badass looking swords and armaments!”

“Please everyone. Sion is tired now,” Hifumi beckoned the Thieves off. “You gave him a tough fight.”

Ren nodded. “Understandable. We can talk more about this in private. So, Hifumi, you said you and your family are taking care of him.”

The Shogi player nodded. “Yes, that’s right.”

Hearing this from Hifumi, Ren became more at ease. “Then, he’s going to become a valuable ally to us.” He amicably offered to Sion. “After seeing your power in action, we need someone like you.” He then turned toward the gamblers. “And you three would make for great support, too, with your Guardian Spirits.”

“Really? We’d be honored to join you!” Yumeko happily accepted Ren’s alliance offer.

Mary folded her arms. “I’m not so sure.”

Ryōta chuckled. “C’mon, Mary. Let’s give it a shot. We’re helping the Phantom Thieves.”

“Alright then, but as long as we keep Yumeko under check.”

However, Sion had reservations about Ren’s offer. Having fought the Phantom Thieves, he gained a new degree of respect for them. In his mind, their teamwork reminded him of his and his Revenant friends’ effective unity. Although they weren’t Revenants like his friends, the Thieves were shown to be as reliable and possess individual strengths. The fact they possess Personas made up for a lack of Blood Veils.

What’s more, is Hifumi’s relationship with Ren. This helped ease the tensions between him and the Thieves.

“Hey, are you ok? My boyfriend’s willing to let things go. And so am I!” Ann kindly encouraged Sion.

“Hell, I think we’ll be good friends in no time, man,” Ryuji grinned at the Revenant.

“We’ve never interacted with a vampire before. So, this will produce some interesting discussions,” Yusuke said.

“Yeah, I want to know more about your powers and weapons!” Futaba eagerly said.

Haru nodded. “We’d be happy to have you join.”

Morgana added. “It’s up to you, but the more help we can get, the better.”

“What do you think, Mako-chan?” Haru asked the former student council president.

“Yeah, what do you have to say to our new friend?” Ryuji queried.

As Sion and Makoto’s gazes met, Makoto frowned and turned her back. Without anyone looking, Makoto let out a disgruntled huff.

"I don't even care. You can let him come with us, but I don’t see any reason why he should come,” Makoto bluntly answered back. Her off-putting tone surprised the other Thieves. They sensed some kind of hostility between her and Sion.

Ren wondered if Sion’s vampire nature might’ve put Makoto off from accepting him. Perhaps Sion being a vampire from another dimension might be the reason.

“How do we know he won’t lose control and drink someone’s blood?” Makoto wondered.

Hifumi frowned. “Sion wouldn’t do that. Besides, I let him feed on me.”

Turning around to face Hifumi, Makoto warned her. “You better stop doing that!”

“I won’t!”

Sion growled. “That’s enough!” He put himself in front of Hifumi.

“Sion.”

“Hifumi willfully let me drink her blood. Initially I advised her not to, but she insisted. So, you’d best back off now!” The Revenant growled, causing Makoto to flinch and step away.

“Ok, that’s enough. We must stay on the same page, my friends. It matters not what Sion is. We must find the source behind the Yokai incursion in your world.” Nekomata advised the groups.

“That’s right. It’s what he said,” Ren said. “So, Makoto, can you learn to get along with Sion?”

Not taking her eyes off Sion, Makoto gritted her teeth. “Fine.”

Ryuji jubilantly laughed, changing the tense mood. “Welcome to the team you five!” He openly welcomed Sion, Hifumi, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta into the group.

“Yay!” Yumeko cheered.

“We’re truly honored,” added Ryōta.

“Should be fun,” Mary grinned.

Hifumi pleasantly smiled. "Thank you for allowing us to come. I look forward to it."

"As I discern, the pocket dimension was produced by the same being that wields Amrita,” Nekomata announced.

"Yes, I’ve heard about Amrita in mythological stories as well. Interesting concepts that brought gifted power," Hifumi said about these stones.

"So, that perpetrator wanted us here in one location just to unite? He or she must have planned this from the start,” Ren speculated.

"And since I’ll be joining you, I can also help and find out if this source is also behind me and the Lost being here,” Sion offered.

Ren nodded with a smile. “That’s great. We’ll need your expertise on these Lost creatures.”

"Indeed. Thieves, Revenant, and Guardian Spirit wielders, the location of the source will be far away from Tokyo.” Nekomata openly addressed the group.

"And where will that be?" Makoto asked Nekomata.

Nekomata answered. ”We will go to Osaka.”
 

Ford1114

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Chapter V: Settling In



Café Leblanc (純喫茶ルブラン)/Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (四軒茶屋, 東京)/August 1, 2020 (2020年8月1日)/1:24 PM (JST)

A few days have passed. The Phantom Thieves and their new allies reconvened for a meeting at the coffee shop. Having packed for their upcoming trip to Osaka, they decided to discuss their main objective for this trip.

Sitting together, the Phantom Thief founding members and Sion ate some curry. The other Thieves, Makoto, Haru, Yusuke, and Futaba lounged in one of the tables.

"Oh, so he's from somewhere in Europe?" Sojiro asked Ren relating to Sion’s home.

"Yeah, technically speaking. He’s also a new ally who’s going to help us on a mission. Hifumi has been taking care of him,” Ren answered Sojiro while concealing Sion’s Revenant nature and where he came from.

Sipping some coffee, Sion gave a satisfied sigh. “This coffee is good and this place is very relaxing.” Scanning through the café, the Revenant couldn’t feel more at ease. The place has a welcoming aura.

"Thanks for the compliments," Sojiro smirked, taking Sion’s polite compliments while making out some of his English. “You’re not the first English speaking customer I’ve had.”

“Really? Interesting.”

“I’ve had a few American and English customers come in. So, don’t be surprised if I can interpret your language.” The old man casually grinned.

"Hey, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I’m curious Sion,” Ann asked him.

“Yeah?”

“What kind of music do you like?” She asked the Revenant.

Taken aback, Sion found himself stumped by this random question. “Music? Well, anything I guess. Where I come from, there wasn’t much music to listen to, except for a few radios that played some loud and intense vocals.” He interacted and fluently communicated with Ann in English.

With a wholesome smile on her face, Ann took out a pair of earpods and put them in Sion’s ears. “Well, tell me what you think? You’re going to hear a music band. Let me know when you’re ready.”

“Um, sure.”

“Let’s see here. Let’s start with this band. Ready?”

Nodding, Sion replied. “Go ahead.” When Ann pressed the play button on her smartphone, the strumming of an electric guitar played in Sion’s ear. A male vocalist then started singing, causing Sion to lean forward and nod his head. As the vocalist continued singing, the tone of the music was soothing and haunting enough, lifting his spirits and visualizing himself with his Revenant friends once again. As an outpouring of his nostalgic memories hit him, a relaxed smile formed on his face. Ann, Ren, Ryuji, and Morgana watched him nodding and smiling. Noticing their glances, the Revenant shook his head. “Sorry.”

“Judging from that calm look on your face, you like it! Crossfade has good music!” Ann giggled.

“What were you thinking about listening to that song?” Ren asked the Revenant.

Sion plainly answered. “Well, mostly about home and my friends. All the good times we had.”

Ryuji’s smile widened. “These friends of yours sound like cool people.”

“They are.”

“Ok, Sion. Listen to this next band, ready?” Ann prepared to push play.

“Let’s do it,” the Revenant replied.

“Lacuna Coil is another favorite band of mine,” Ann played the next song.

A female vocalist’s calm and evocative singing played in Sion’s ear. Leaning his head back, Sion relaxed his mind and imagined himself sitting near a dark tree with low hanging red beads that resembled cherries. Behind Sion, a pair of pale arms folded around his neck. Without looking over his shoulder, a pair of golden eyes belonging to a woman leaned over to whisper in his ear. Her calm, enigmatic voice eased Sion, bringing him into a sleep-like state. Getting deeper into the song, he imagined himself in a depopulated and ruined city once teeming with life and overrun by the Lost.

“This music is beautiful. I’ve heard nothing like it back in my world.” Sion murmured, finding himself immersed by the song. “These sound similar but very different from the music I’ve heard in my world.”

“What was it like?” Ryuji curiously asked him.

“Well, it’s hard to explain, but the music gets very intense and full of energy. I heard it a lot back at our home base.” Sion tried to explain. “Anyway, thank you, Ann. That music was refreshing.”

Ann warmly smiled. “It’s my pleasure. I’d be happy to show you the other music artists we listen to.”

Just then, the ringing of the café signaled the arrival of a new customer. Everyone turned only for Togo Hifumi to step into view.

“Sorry, I took so long. I’m back,” the apologetic Shogi player chimed in.

“Hifumi, welcome back…” Sion paused, his eyes meeting Hifumi, who came dressed in a cute sleeveless light blue and white pinstriped casual summer dress. Folded over is the collar area of the dress. Her necklace is hanging at the front of her chest. Fastened around her waist is a white belt. She has her hair in a bun style and white shoes. She also carried an orange purse.

“Welcome back, Hifumi,” Ren said.

Just then, Yumeko poked her head out behind Hifumi. “And she didn’t come alone! Hi, guys!”

“Hello, Yumeko,” Ann answered.

“And don’t forget us!” Ryōta announced, walking in with Mary.

“So, did you bring your Shogi board?” Yusuke asked Hifumi.

“I did and Yumeko was very insistent about playing against me.”

Yumeko added with a sneaky grin. “I’m ready to play, Hifumi!”

Hifumi replied with a composed smirk. “Well, let’s not waste any time.”

Finding another table, the two women commenced with their Shogi game. Having gotten to know each other during the past couple of days, Hifumi and Yumeko learned each other’s school backgrounds and their love for games. By the middle of their Shogi game, victory seemed to be within Yumeko’s grasp. Her every play had Hifumi guessing.

“Yes! I haven’t been this excited since… oh yes! Give me more until I’ve defeated you, Hifumi-san!” Yumeko yelled out in ecstasy. Her red glowing eyes depicted her ever obsessive desire to enjoy testing an opponent’s mental prowess and finding the thrill of the game. For a moment, she seemed to slide her right hand through her undies as if she were masturbating. All the while during her ecstatic moment, she nibbled her left thumb. This unusual behavior elicited unnerved and bewildered looks from the Thieves.

However, despite Yumeko’s erratic aura seemingly trying to suffocate her, the pragmatic Hifumi played her critical move, ultimately deciding the game in her favor. “You’ve fallen for my trap!” She passionately yelled out. “Now, let the hair threads of the queen ensnare my opposing pieces! Infantry, go all out and slay the source!”

Just like that, Hifumi was the winner. Standing from her seat, Yumeko clapped for her opponent.

"That was wonderful, Hifumi-san!" Yumeko happily cried and smiled despite losing the game. “It was truly an honor to play with a Shogi pro like you!”

“Thank you. I learned Shogi from my father watching him play and by him teaching me. I once supported him when he was ill while playing professionally. Then, my mother started manipulating games in my favor, which soured my reputation for a while.” Hifumi then faced Ren and his friends. “Thanks to the Phantom Thieves, they changed my mother for the better."

Yumeko was mesmerized. "Lucky you. My parents already passed away. I had to take care of my older sister who was hospitalized due to gambling." Yumeko contrasted her life story to Hifumi’s.

"That’s quite noble of you, Jabami-san." Hifumi nodded, her face calm as ever. “We play for those we care for, but our approach to the game can’t be any different. I’m cool and collective and you’re fiery and passionate.”

“You can say that again,” Mary remarked.

“Good game, you two,” Ryōta nodded.

However, none in the room was more impressed than Sion. Observing Hifumi’s plays, he knew exactly what pieces Hifumi would pick.

"Well now, do I notice something going on between you and that young lady?” Sojiro chimed in, teasing the Revenant.

Bewildered by this, Sion whispered to Ren. “Hey, what’s he going on about?”

“You’ve been hanging with Hifumi for a few days. How close are you with her now?”

“Well, she trusts me.”

Ren smirked. “Just take it slow, Sion. Take your time and go with the flow.”

Ann giggled. “Ooo, giving him some love advice?”

Sion sighed. “I don’t know. We’re just friends now.”

Ryuji deviously grinned. “That’s what they all say.”

Morgana rolled his eyes. “C’mon, leave him alone, guys.”

Hifumi openly addressed the gamblers. “Since you’re all here, you should know Ren and his friends go by Phantom Thief codenames. And if we’re going to be working with them, we’ll need some codenames.”

Hearing this, Ren concurred. “That’s really for the best. So, what have you decided?”

“So, we’re really going by our codenames now?” Mary sighed. “Fine, what was my name before?”

“Brave.” Ryōta reminded her.

“Oh, right! And you’re Pesto?”

Ryōta corrected her. “Presto.”

“Right, Presto.”

“Good names, you two,” nodded Hifumi as she turned toward the Compulsive Gambler. “What have you decided on, Yumeko?”

“Hmmm. How does Tamamo sound?” Yumeko decided.

“Tamamo? Like the Tamamo-no-Mae from the Nine-Tailed Fox legend?” Ann asked the dark-haired gambler.

“Yeah! Because she’s renowned for her beauty and intelligence just like me! And since I have the Nine-Tails spirit, I figure why not go with Tamamo?”

Mary remarked. “And you’re every bit as mischievous as the fox.”

“That’s a good name, Yumeko,” Hifumi said. “I’m honestly kind of stumped on my codename.”

“Do you need any suggestions?” Sion offered.

“How about Lotus? According to Buddhist practitioners, a white lotus is regarded as a symbol of purity. And there couldn’t be a better codename than that,” Yusuke asked Hifumi.

The Shogi player smiled genuinely. “That’s a very nice name, Yusuke. Perhaps I should consider it?”

Futaba interjected. “Eh, I don’t know, Inari. I don’t think Hifumi’s buying into it.”

“Well, what name do you have in mind, oh exalted one?”

Folding her arms, the hacker rocked back and forth on a chair. “Hmmm.” She rolled her eyes, staring over to Yusuke, who looked at her waiting for an immediate response. “You got me. I don’t have a clue.”

The artist facepalmed. “I figured.”

“How about Otohime, Hifumi?” Haru suggested. “I think that’s a lovely name.”

“I agree and I remember that undersea princess from the tale of Urashima Tarō, but that’s not quite what I’m looking for.”

“Then, what about Jingū? Do you remember the Japanese empress who ruled as regent after her husband’s passing? She ultimately became like a king. The way you play Shogi, you remind me of an empress leading an army and swiftly conquering enemies all while standing firm and proud.” Makoto pitched this idea to Hifumi.

“You put a lot of thought into that name and yes I recall about Empress Jingū, the renowned warrior empress that led an invasion in Korea ages ago. I do picture myself through her.”

Ann concurred with Makoto’s idea. “Yeah, that’s totally you, Hifumi! You should go with that one!”

With her cheeks blushing, Hifumi modestly replied. “Tempting as that name would be, but I’m looking for something that’s more suited to my battle appearance. I was thinking more like Tennyo.”

“Tennyo?” Mary blinked. “Why that name?”

Ren added. “So, your battle form is based on a heavenly being?”

“More or less, I was able to conjure a form of divine lightning. The properties seemed to be from divine light. So, just now Tennyo came to mind. And since a tennyo is a female spiritual being, there’s not a more suitable codename for me than that one,” Hifumi explained the meaning behind her chosen codename. “According to Buddhist mythology, tennyo are beautiful entities known for their unparalleled elegance and grace.”

“While I don’t entirely understand your culture’s mythologies, the way you described a tennyo is exactly what I saw when you helped me fight those monsters,” Sion added, eliciting a genuinely modest smile from Hifumi. “Tennyo is a perfect codename for you.”

“Thank you, Sion.”

Makoto slightly frowned, seemingly perturbed that her codename suggestion wasn’t picked.

“I agree. That’s a much better name!” Ann chimed in while tapping Ren’s hand. “Don’t you think, Ren?”

“Yeah, it sure is.”

“Well, if Hifumi is fine with it, then I am, too!” Yumeko enthusiastically said.

“So, our codenames have all been decided,” Ryōta stated.

“Now, we can get into more important things. How do we get to Osaka?” Morgana related this to the Thieves and company.

“Why don’t we take a bullet train?” Haru suggested. “There will be one that can take us from here to Osaka.”

“Then, how does going there in a day sound? Tomorrow, we prepare and pack things along for this trip. That should give us a full day before we head for the bullet train the following morning.” Makoto offered a plan for her friends.

“Sounds fine to me,” Ryuji nodded, flashing a grin.

“Then, it’s settled?” Ren said.

“Wow, talk about memory lane. Remember the last time we went to Osaka those couple of years ago?” Ann clamped her hands together. “It’s going to be fun revisiting the sites!”

Hopping off from her chair, Futaba chuckled. “That was a fun summer!”

Yusuke added. “Indeed it was.”

“Remember guys. This is not a vacation. Our trip to Osaka is a crucial mission. So, we won’t be on a fun road trip like last time. Anyway, Nekomata told us about those spirits we need to meet,” Morgana reminded them about their mission.

“Don’t forget about finding that source that’s released the Yokai and the Lost,” Sion said.

“Yeah, we know. You didn’t need to remind us.” Makoto interjected almost blatantly giving Sion the cold shoulder. Not taking too kindly to her reproach, he walked up to the policewoman and rebuked.

“Oh, so it’s like that? Are you singling me out here?”

Upon hearing Sion’s retort, the policewoman met him with her usually fierce gaze, which often spooked her friends, but it didn’t faze the Revenant. She became impressed with Sion holding his ground.

“What’s your problem?” Makoto furrowed her eyes, her stern gaze didn’t waver for a single moment.

“I could ask you that, too. It’s because I’m a Revenant, right? It’s because I’m not a human like you and your friends. It’s because I’m different.”

“That’s not…”

“Then, what is it?” Sion tried to force an answer out of her.

Makoto bit her bottom lip. “That’s not true.”

“I saw how upset you looked when Hifumi went with her own idea instead of yours. Is it because of that?”

“No.”

Walking right up to Makoto, Sion got in her face. “Then, what is it?”

“Hey, if you two are going to argue here take it outside! I don’t want any problems inside my place!” Sojiro quickly called out.

Sion bowed. “I apologize, sir.” Then, he felt Makoto’s hand grab his right shoulder.

“You heard him. Outside. You and me.” The policewoman grabbed Sion’s arm and dragged him outside the café. Following the ringing of the bells, the door shut.

Yumeko blinked. “Hmmm? Revenant? What’s that? I’ve never heard of such a European nationality.” This response drew exasperated sighs from the others, especially Mary.

“That’s because there is no such nationality! So, my suspicions were right. I knew there was something off when he mentioned he wasn’t from ‘here’. Yukimura wasn’t vague when he said that,” Mary plainly remembered what Yukimura related concerning Sion’s native home. “He’s from another world.”

Ren turned and faced Hifumi. “Is this true?”

Not saying a word, Hifumi couldn’t conceal her distraught look. She hoped Sion’s true nature wouldn’t get out so soon, but now that the cat is out of the bag she couldn’t hide the truth anymore.

“It’s going to be a lot to take in, but I’ll tell you everything on our way to Osaka.”

Just then, the argument between Makoto and the Revenant escalated further, causing the group to turn around. Hifumi instinctively jumped out of her chair and gasped.

“Sion!”

Makoto and Sion’s heated argument could be heard outside the coffee shop.

“Listen to me, you’re the one who attacked me and my friends first!” Makoto berated him.

“Because of the way you and your friends approached me, I acted on instinct to protect myself and Hifumi!”

“Ok, yes, we thought you were a threat.”

“And assumed I’d hurt Hifumi?!”

“We didn’t know!” Makoto angrily snapped back.

“Well, look how that turned out. Your friends turned out nice to me, but you’re still hostile toward me. It’s because I’m not human, right? You think I’m some vampire or whatever only using Hifumi as a pawn. You think I have some ulterior motive?!”

“Well, no…”

Sion frowned. “You’re lying.”

Having heard enough accusations, Makoto raised a fist. “I’m not lying!” Raising a hand to him, Sion quickly seized her hand and looked her dead in the eyes.

“I’m warning you, Mako-kins. If you continue to bother, threaten, or annoy me in any kind of way, I won’t have any problem drinking your blood.” Sion growled, his eyes turning bright red, causing Makoto to back off. As he walked by the policewoman, the Revenant didn’t even make eye contact and walked in to calm Hifumi down.

Hearing her friends asking Sion questions, apprehensive emotions filled Makoto’s heart. She bit her bottom lip. Then, she gnashed her teeth. Hearing Sion calling her ‘Mako-kins’ not only demeaned her but stirred irritation. Venting out her frustrations, she punched the brick wall side of the coffee shop, narrowly missing the window glass.

“Call me Mako-kins, will you?” The dark brunette muttered quietly, lowkey anger evident in her tone. “Who the fuck do you take me for?” She scowled under heavy breath.

Observing from an enclosed space near the coffee shop, an eavesdropping Akechi overheard Makoto and Sion’s heated argument. He kept a distance with his back turned so no one could recognize him. He has an earpiece, which he used to listen to the Thieves and company’s conversation about their trip.

With a collective smirk, Akechi muttered. “So, you’re all going to Osaka? Wait until she hears about this.”




2:15 PM (JST)

“And they’re taking a bullet train to Osaka in two days,” Akechi informed Sumire, both sitting together at a café table.

“I see. So, early morning on August 3?” Sumire asked him.

“That’s right.”

“Then, that’s where we’ll go.”

“Of course, finding them will be easier said than done, but our Metaverse powers should allow us to find them.”

Sumire smiled modestly. “Yes, you’re right, but I do want to see how senpai and the others are doing. And I want to help their new friends in any way I can!”

Sipping his teacup, Akechi chortled. “You and me both, Sumire.” Finishing his last sip, the former detective stood from his chair. “So, we’ll meet first thing Monday morning?”

Sumire nodded. “Yes, I’ll see you then!”

“Good to know.”



Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo (四軒茶屋, 東京)/3:47 PM (JST)

Once the meeting adjourned, Ren stayed behind with Ann and helped Sojiro mind the coffee shop. Following Ann to her modeling gig, a rattling sound came from Ren’s left pant pocket. Pulling out his smartphone, he opened up Ryuji’s text. Ryuji’s message suggested a chat to review about today’s meeting. Ren and Ann took out their smartphones and entered the chatroom. Profile pictures of the Thieves’ appeared next to their written texts on the phone screen.

Ren: It's been years since we did these kinds of chats.

Futaba: No kidding! We have awesome memories of these phone chats. They’ve added a bunch of cool new features! Sure takes me back to Medjed.

Ren: Yeah, and you sure dealt with them using your hacking skills, Futaba. Anyway guys, have you all bought the tickets? We've planned for August 3 at 8:00 AM.

Yusuke: Yes, we have. It’ll be fascinating to revisit Osaka.

Haru: Yes, likewise. It’s a gorgeous city.

Ryuji: And the food there tasted real sweet! Not to mention Universal Studios!

Ann: Yeah, we’ve already reserved a hotel for us. It’ll be great to relax! :) Unlike the Hawaii trip, we won’t have any chaperones walking us around.

Futaba: Duh! We’re adults! ^^

Ren: And with Hifumi, Sion, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta joining us, we have more assets on our side.

Makoto: Guys, I apologize for causing a scene like that. Normally, I’d keep my cool.

Ryuji: Suuuure.

Makoto: … anyway, I still have my suspicions towards that vampire. I don't know why you guys are being friendly towards him?

Haru: Well, he hasn't done anything cruel to us. Besides, he rightfully defended himself to protect Hifumi and the others.

Ann: Makoto, maybe you should loosen up? No need to take things too seriously.

Ryuji: Yeah, maybe being a workaholic police officer is giving you a big head. :p

Makoto: Hey! What's that supposed to mean?!

Futaba: Okay guys, settle down and chill! Do I need to chat ban you two?!

Ren: Heh, you don’t want to cross a hacker’s mod abilities, do you?

Ryuji: I’ll behave.

Makoto: Fine.

Ren: Let’s all get some rest today. Pack tomorrow. And see y’all Monday morning. Later.

Afterward, Ren and Ann turned off their phones.

“Hey, you think Makoto will be ok, Ren?” Ann asked him with concern for their policewoman friend.

Ren shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I hope so.”

“The last thing we need is further escalation between her and Sion. That’s the last thing we need before and during this trip.”

“I agree. Let’s try our best to resolve their differences.”

The model quickly remembered someone. “Oh, any word from Sumire?”

Ren checked his messages, scanning for Sumire’s response. “Nothing.”

“I hope she’s ok.”

“Me, too. But if I know her, she’ll surprise us when we least expect it.”



Gold’s Gym Umeda Osaka/Osaka (大阪市)/5:45 PM (JST)

Training solitarily from the rest of the male presence, a musclebound Japanese woman gripped a five-foot-long, 45-pound barbell.

She is a tall woman, whose height was taller than most of the men working out in the same gym. She has fair skin. Her alluring blue eyes have an enchanting vibe that caught the attention of the male gym-goers. Her dark hair is slightly loosened in a ponytail, which she tightened up with a hair band. Her gym clothing consisted of a form-fitting navy blue and white sports bra, matching navy blue and white striped gym shorts, tennis shoes, and small white gym socks. She has a peak conditioned figure, making her stand out from the other gym women. The abdominal area between her sports bra and shorts showed off her six-pack abdominals, a feature gained through dedication and diet. Her shorts revealed her thick, muscular legs, which looked like they could crush a watermelon.

Fully wrapping her fingers over the bar, she scanned the 55-pound weights on each side. Inhaling and exhaling, the female weightlifter performed a set of 10 squats. Afterward, she took a breather and did another set of 10 squats.

She then set the barbell down and cooled off, squeezing cold water from her bottle into her mouth. Having gotten her sip, the weightlifter adjusted and replaced the 55-pound weights with 45-pound ones. Curling the bar, she tested the sturdiness of the barbell and performed three sets of 10 curls. During each curl, her biceps showed the density of her muscular arms. She inhaled and exhaled after each curl.

Dropping the barbell down, the weightlifter grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat from her face.

Then, she heard her smartphone ringing.

Wiping her hands, she then picked it up and answered in a husky tone, fitting her Amazonesque stature. “Yeah?” Listening to someone on the other line, she wore a serious look. “I see. Do you want to meet at Sankō Shrine? There’s new Guardian Spirits?” She nodded. “Ok, I’ll meet you there, Kyosuke.” With that, she turned off her phone. “Could this be what I think it means?”




Sankō Shrine (三香神社)/Osaka (大阪市)/7:36 PM (JST)

“Looking great there, Mina,” a man chimed in and addressed the female weightlifter with familiarity. Veering over, the woman acknowledged her training partner with a cordial glance. As opposed to Mina’s larger frame, this individual is a moderately-built Japanese man. His shoulder-length black hair tied is back in a ponytail. He has some facial hair grain over his lips and chin but presented himself in a well-shaven manner. He has thick black eyebrows, with a scar over his left brow. He had on a maroon short-sleeved men's kimono cardigan coupled with a red shirt, dark blue hakama pants, and dark brown shoes.

“Kyosuke, what’s going on?” Mina addressed him, dressed in a form-fitting, light blue buttoned sleeveless dress shirt, black pants, and brown shoes. With a sleeveless shirt, this let her expose her muscular arms, which flexing them could show off her bulging biceps. Her dress shirt cut off above her midriff, revealing her six-pack abdominals. She kept her ponytail style with hair bindings.

“Did you not sense the awakening of their spirits?” He queried, his steely gaze meeting her befuddled look.

“So, it’s true then? Yukimura and Lady Chacha’s Guardian Spirits have found new wielders?”

“Yes, and according to William and the other spirits, the new wielders will arrive here soon.”

Furrowing her brows, Mina folded her arms. “Then, we can expect the spirits to bring them to Sankō Shrine. That’s where we’ll meet the Guardian Spirits’ new wielders.” As the thought of meeting the Spiritual Gamblers, a hearty and intense smile adorned her face. “Won’t this be exciting, Saoirse?”

With that, a beacon of light materialized near Mina. From this shining beacon, a small white-bodied humanoid with a black fish’s tail, red-feathered wings, and red feathered ears. Summoned by Mina’s beckoning, Saoirse floated around the woman’s body.

“Time to come out, Makami,” Kyosuke summoned his Guardian Spirit, which resembled a wolf with golden orange fur and antler stags protruding from its front paws. “That’s right, Makami. New chosen wielders like us are coming here.”

Mina folded an arm over Saoirse. “Yes, won’t it be interesting to meet these new Guardian Spirit wielders?” She communicated with her spirit. Saoirse squeaked back, informing her of other details. “William and the other spirits will be here, too? Then, the situation with those Yokai and the other unknown monsters appearing at the Olympics Games is more serious than we imagined, Kyosuke.”

“Yes, that’s what Makami told me.”

“Then, we must prepare to join this new conflict,” Mina said, clenching her right hand into a clamped fist.
 
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