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Fanfiction ► 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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Chapter VI: Return to Osaka
________________________________________
Shinkansen (新幹線)/August 3, 2020 (2020年8月3日)/8:55 AM (JST)
By morning, the Phantom Thieves, Hifumi, Sion, and three gamblers took the Shinkansen, known in English as the bullet train. This network of railway lines gave people access to travel to any city in the country. For the Thieves, this was their fastest transport to get from Tokyo to Osaka.
Sitting inside the bullet train, Ren, Ann, Makoto, Ryuji, Morgana (inside Ren’s backpack), Yusuke, Futaba, Haru, Sion, Hifumi, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta enjoyed the beautiful morning view on the way to their destination.
"Whoa, check it out!" Ryuji exclaimed, staring out a window like a giddy child.
"It looks really nice! What do you think, Ryōta?” Yumeko asked her friend.
“Yeah, it’s nice. We’ll be seeing plenty of nice city and country views,” Ryōta concurred.
"It’s great for me. Since I’ve never ridden the Shinkansen,” Futaba added. “I mean, this sure beats driving out to Osaka like we did a few years ago!”
Yusuke smirked coolly. "On the bright side, we should be able to see Mount Fuji again. The sight of that formation is magnificent."
"We’ve already passed by Nagoya,” Haru pointed out.
"Yeah, isn't that amazing?" Ann asked Ren.
Smiling, Ren nodded. “Yeah, it sure is.”
Staring out, Sion quietly enjoyed the beauty of the cityscape, the countryside, the townhouses, the natural forested landscapes, and monuments. Seeing all of these overwhelmed Sion with relaxing thoughts, almost making him forget the harsh, cruel world he left behind.
“Sion? You’ve been quiet,” Hifumi turned to him.
“This is the first I’ve ridden on these ‘trains’. It’s very calm and relaxing,” Sion replied, a tranquil smile adorned his face.
“I see. That’s good.”
“Is this really taking us to another far off city?” The Revenant asked the dark-haired Shogi player.
“Indeed, we’re going to another city called Osaka. If you liked Tokyo’s sights, you’ll for sure enjoy Osaka.”
“We’re going to have a great time there, Sion!” Yumeko chimed in.
“I haven’t been to Osaka in a long time,” Mary calmly smiled, lightly pushing Yumeko’s arm off her.
Just then, after she got up from her seat next to Haru, Makoto approached Ren, Ann, and Morgana’s side.
“May I sit with you for a minute?” Makoto asked the three, which they complied with the policewoman’s request. “Tell me. Do you really believe everything Sion says?” She muttered, painstakingly eyeing Sion on the other side of the bullet train.
“It’s hard to say. Hifumi has reassured she’s been taking care of Sion,” Ann stated.
“To be fair, we know little about him. Do keep in mind, we attacked him first. He presumed we were a threat to Hifumi, Yumeko, and the others,” Morgana reminded Makoto, as he talked the other passengers outside the collective group could hear are cat meows.
“I’m concerned you two might instigate a fight. We saw you and Sion about to get into it outside the boss's place.” Ann referred to Makoto’s heated argument with Sion two days ago.
Almost wanting to gnash her teeth, Makoto sighed. “He warned if I didn’t stop instigating and annoying him, he’d bite my neck and drink my blood.”
Hearing this, Ren frowned. “For your sake, I wouldn’t bother him. We’re all trying to make him feel comfortable, but you’ve gotten too confrontational with him. Beyond attacking us in self defense, he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“Yes, I know that, but I’m baffled you’re all being too friendly to him.”
Ann smiled. “Just give him a chance, Makoto. After learning just bits of his background, it sounds like he’s had it rough. Hifumi hopes he can build trust with us.”
“Fine. I’ll try and be more open-minded.” Makoto complied, deeply sighing.
“That’s great to know!” Ann nodded approvingly.
“Let’s hope cooler heads can prevail. We need to keep it together and learn about the source releasing these monsters,” Morgana stated.
Just then, Nekomata materialized, startling Morgana. His presence was not detected by civilians outside the group. “We have passed Kyoto, my friends. Very soon we shall reach our destination.”
"Thanks for letting us know, Nekomata-sama,” Makoto said to the Guardian Spirit. Then, Haru walked up to her. “Hey, Haru-chan.”
“Are you ok, Mako-chan?”
“Yeah, sorta. Look, I’ll get over Sion and try to get along with him.”
Haru passively replied. “I know. You being law enforcement, you just want to look out for us.”
“I do and it’s partly why I was suspicious about Sion, but when his vampiric nature was revealed, I couldn’t help but feel wary. Look, I’ll try and give him a chance.” She quietly observed Sion and Hifumi conversing.
Pointing to the window, Hifumi showed Sion a gorgeous view of Kyoto’s famed shrines and temples. Mesmerized by the beautiful historical landmarks, the Revenant became further immersed with what the current world had to offer to show him, which his native dimension never offered him. He gladly partook everything in Hifumi’s company.
Adjusting his glasses, Ren smirked. “Look out, Osaka. The Thieves are coming back with some company.”
________________________________________
Osaka (大阪市)/10:35 AM (JST)
Best known for making high-quality food and often referred to as the “Nation’s Kitchen”, Osaka is the third largest Japanese city in terms of population. Back in the Edo period, Osaka served as the center of the rice trade. There are four interconnected towers in the Umeda area built in the late 1980s. The Umeda Sky Building is the most recognizable.
Scouring the Osakan streets and arriving near a less crowded vicinity, the Thieves, Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers were surrounded by many sight-seeing infrastructures, historical landmarks, entertainment venues, and a variety of restaurants. Recalling their last visit three years ago, fun and cherished memories filled their minds.
“It’s like how I remembered it,” Yusuke smiled.
“It hasn’t changed,” Ren remarked, then reflected on their previous acquaintances during the last time in Osaka. “I wonder how Zenkichi, Akane, Sophia, and Ichinose are doing?”
Ann added. “There were many things we couldn’t do when we were here last time!”
Ryuji then commented. “We totally missed out on Universal Studios! How about we go?!” He yelled out exuberantly, his spirit full of energy.
“If it’s anything like Tokyo Disneyland, it’ll be fun!” Ann concurred with him.
“Hopefully it’ll turn out better than the last time we were at Tokyo Disneyland. If you recall, my father…” Haru then stopped mid-sentence, doing her best not to be overcome with grief over her father’s tragedy that initially framed the Phantom Thieves as criminals.
“Haru…” Makoto clapped Haru’s shoulder gently.
“Thanks, Mako-chan.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Hifumi gave Haru her condolences.
“It’s fine. Anyway, we’re here to investigate and maybe unwind a bit.”
Yumeko gleefully chimed in. “Yeah, why don’t we indulge ourselves in some fun activities?! We should hit up some bars and gamble to our heart’s content?!”
Mary sighed in exasperation. “How about no?”
Striking Yumeko’s forehead with a finger tap, Hifumi openly chastised her. “No, you don’t. Did you forget gambling is illegal in Japan?”
“Not unless it’s pachinko?” Yumeko blinked thrice, pushing Hifumi’s finger away. “There aren’t laws about converting non-cash prizes into cash at the pachinko parlor windows, right?”
Ryōta recalled. “Oh yeah! There aren’t laws for those! I don’t see the harm!”
Hifumi turned to Sion. “There is the Shitennō-ji. We can visit that place if you’d like to.”
The Revenant happily replied. “Whatever it is, I’m interested to see it.”
Just then, Makoto grumbled under her breath, unnerved by listening to the others planning leisure activities.
“Hey, did you guys forget why we’re here?” Makoto scoffed, folding her arms. A cross look etched on her facial features, conveying her annoyance with her friends’ casual way of conducting themselves. “We’re not here for fun. We’re here to investigate.” She slightly deepened her tone, sternly lecturing and restoring some order to the lively group. “There. Much better.”
Scoffing, Ryuji muttered. “What’s gotten you so worked up, Makoto?”
Makoto nodded. “Just forget it, I’ve just been under some stress since we became Thieves again.”
Haru gently smiled. “Just don’t overexert yourself, Mako-chan. I know you mean well.”
Yusuke then reasonably added. “I can understand Makoto’s position. We are here on a mission, but we should take advantage of leisure activities to help us ease our minds.”
Futaba raised a hand. “Yep! We missed out on some activities when we were here last time! We need to make up for it!”
Taking a deep breath, Sion sighed. “No, it’s clearly because of me. Right, Mako-kins?” He turned away, not even looking at her.
“When did I mention you? Do you still have a problem with me?” Makoto rebuked, unnerved by the Revenant’s snide remark toward her. She watched him holding Hifumi’s hand.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” Sion scoffed.
“Oook, that’s enough. Let’s not cause a scene here, ok?” Ren interjected, cutting off Sion and Makoto exchanging tense glares.
“Right. Anyway, why don’t we split up into groups and investigate through the prefectures here?” Makoto suggested.
“And I’ll go with her to make sure she doesn’t lose track,” Morgana trotted over to the policewoman.
“Are you sure you’re going to be fine, Makoto?” Ren queried, showing concern for her current state of being.
“I’ll be ok. All of you should split up as I suggested.”
“Don’t worry about us, guys. I’ve got me and Makoto covered!” Morgana reassured them.
“Thanks, Mona,” Makoto smiled at the cat. “And Hifumi?”
“Yes?” The Shogi player blinked, surprised that Makoto quickly acknowledged her.
“Look after Sion, ok?” Makoto nodded as she and Morgana headed out into the streets to investigate, leaving the others behind to contemplate their next move.
“Well, shit. Where can we start looking?” Ryuji wondered.
“Osaka is an awfully large place to investigate clues,” Yusuke pointed out the city’s immense size and population density.
“I wish the old cat would tell us where we should go next,” Yumeko remarked.
“Hey, young miss. Watch who you’re calling an old cat!” Nekomata materialized in front of the group.
“Whoops, sorry!” Yumeko apologetically replied.
“Just for a frame of reference, many historical events took place in this city. The Siege of Osaka took place at Osaka Castle, igniting a war between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi clans going from the Winter of 1614 to the summer of 1615. This ushered in the beginning of the Genna era. It is here where William assisted the Tokugawa forces while the Spaniard Maria assisted Yukimura and Lady Chacha.”
Yumeko recalled. “Lady Chacha is the one who once possessed the Nine-Tails, which she gave me!”
“Indeed, and she used Amrita, which led to tragedy. In the end, William and Yukimura teamed to defeat Lady Chacha after she became the Nine-Tailed Fox. Both Yukimura and Lady Chacha chose to die from the flames, freeing themselves from the bloody conflict.”
With concern in her eyes, Mary turned to Yumeko. “And how ironic we ended up with Yukimura and Lady Chacha’s Guardian Spirits. Look, Yumeko. Don’t make the same mistake Lady Chacha made. She let the darkness take hold of her. I’d hate to see you and the Nine-Tails suffer.”
As she whipped around, Yumeko presented her with a big smile. “Relax, Mary! Nothing’s going to happen! I did promise Lady Chacha I’d treat her fox well.”
Ryōta chuckled. “Yeah, you did promise.”
“Anyway, should we start investigating like private eye detectives? Oooh, if only we had those cool and nifty magnifying glasses!” Futaba said.
“Or, how about we simply look around and find any suspicious supernatural activity?” Yusuke shrugged.
“Uh, that’ll work, too, Inari.”
“I shall be in contact with you all soon, my friends.” Nekomata’s presence vanished, leaving the group to split up into smaller groups.
“Ready?” Ren asked Ann as they split off from the rest of the group.
“Ren,” Haru stepped in, catching up with him and Ann. “Do you think we should let Mako-chan go like that? You think she’ll be ok?”
Nodding, he nonchalantly replied. “It’s not like she hasn’t gone off on her own before. She’ll be ok with Morgana.”
“I see.”
“Hey, relax, Haru. Use this time for yourself and take in the pleasures you couldn’t when we were last time.” Ann winked.
“Ok, I will!” Haru eagerly cried out.
Before turning to leave, Sion, Hifumi, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta approached Ren and Ann.
“May we join you?” Hifumi asked the couple.
“We promise we won’t get in the way,” Yumeko said.
Mentally cursing to himself, Ren’s initial plans for an outing with Ann alone were shot. He also couldn’t say no to Hifumi’s polite inquiry.
“Sure, follow us,” he complied, which elicited jovial cheers from Yumeko.
Grabbing Sion’s hand, Hifumi dragged him along. “Let’s have some fun while we’re investigating.”
“I’d like that, but let’s also stay vigilant,” warned the Revenant.
________________________________________
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館)/Minato-ku, Osaka (港区, 大阪市)/12:23 PM (JST)
Instead, however, the mission turned into a carefree outing for the other Thieves, Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers. One group, comprising Yusuke, Haru, and Futaba, visited one of the world’s largest aquariums.
“Woooow, look at all the fishies!” Futaba’s widening and gleaming eyes scanned the various colored fish swimming inside large aquarium tanks. Zipping by the crowds, the hacker glimpsed at every inch of the aquarium exhibits. “Whoa, it’s like I’m looking into the ocean!”
“These aquariums are packed with thousands of species,” Yusuke informed Futaba, who scanned a massive tank. Her eyes gaped open when a massive spotted shark leisurely swam inside a massive tank shared with a host of other fish species.
“You guys have got to get a load of this big shark!” Futaba pointed to the giant shark.
“Ah, yes, the whale shark. This is the Pacific Ocean tank,” the artist read a sign posted next to the massive aquarium.
“Look, Inari! A manta ray!” Futaba pulled him over, pointing him to a massive manta ray swimming away from the whale shark.
“Aren’t those tuna fish?” Haru eyed the school of tuna.
“Those are bluefin tuna. My, isn’t it just beautiful?” Yusuke backed off, framing the large aquarium with his hands like an artist would while capturing a perfect scenery draw and paint. “Doesn’t it just seem like we’re walking underwater in the Pacific Ocean? This would be a picture perfect scene to replicate on canvas. Of course, I’d make some modifications to make it more exquisite.”
With an awkward look, Futaba sardonically remarked. “Uh, Inari. You’re being weird again.”
Haru giggled. “I could see this painted and framed like a painting.”
After leaving the Pacific Ocean Tank, the group briefly split to explore different exhibits. Entering the Jellyfish Area, the enthused artist became fascinated by the various jellyfish species. Gaining more inspiration, Yusuke pictured illustrations of jellyfish. Imagining himself in a sea full of jellyfish, he recalled a time when he made a painting based on Mementos.
Futaba visited the Japanese Forests and Tasmanian Sea exhibits. She became enamored by the otters and dolphins. However, none fascinated the eccentric hacker more than the Japanese giant salamanders.
“Wow, I’ve seen these a lot on TV! But, you’re straight out of prehistory!” Futaba’s eyes gleamed at a giant salamander in its exhibit.
Elsewhere, Haru visited the Ecuadorian Jungle exhibit, quickly won over by the giant capybaras.
“Awww, they’re so cute,” Haru beamed with joy.
________________________________________
Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)/Konohana-ku, Osaka (此花区, 大阪市)/1:30 PM (JST)
Walking into Universal Studios Japan felt like stepping into a fantastical realm come to life. While not quite as magical as Tokyo Disneyland, it is as imaginative for a theme park. Ren, Ann, Ryuji, Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers walked in expecting a fantastic experience.
The group split into two groups: Ren & Ann as a pairing and Yumeko & her friends joining Hifumi & Sion. Watching his friends go their separate ways, a distraught Ryuji sulked and looked around for something to entertain him.
“Man, so many things to do,” Ryuji muttered, his eyes vividly scanning the theme park attractions. Without paying any mind, he quickly stumbled back when bumping into someone. “Yo, watch where you’re..!”
“No, I’m sorry I should’ve looked where I was going!” Came a soft, polite response from a young woman. Rising his eyes to meet the person, Ryuji faced a youthful woman who looked roughly near Ryuji’s age. Her shoulder-length light brown hair has shades of natural orange and worn in a ponytail. She has on a strapless white tube top, capri blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Complimenting her summer wear, her accessories are a silver necklace with a peace symbol, purple wrist bracelets, pink nail polish, and silver earrings.
Blinking twice, Ryuji stared awkwardly at the young woman. She giggled when she pointed to his face.
“You’re so cute when you blush,” she pointed to him.
“I’m blushing? Hahah, gee. I didn’t even notice.”
The woman chuckled. “Don’t sweat it! I mean, we are sweating ‘cause it’s summertime, right?”
A big goofy grin adorned Ryuji’s face. “Yeah, it’s freakin’ hot out.”
“Wanna go find some shade somewhere.”
“Uh, sure…” He replied as she grabbed his hand and walked him along.
“I know a good spot to cool off. Oh, sorry. I should introduce myself! My name is Tokiha Miyako!” The girl casually greeted him, finding shade under an umbrella stand outside an ice cream vendor.
“I’m Sakamoto Ryuji!”
“A pleasure to meet ya!” Miyako sat down with him. “So, you alone?”
“Nah, my friends went and ditched me. My best bud’s hanging out with my other best BFF. And a group of us split up. We just came in from Tokyo.”
“Oh, you’re from Tokyo? That’s nice. I live around here.”
Ryuji smiled. “I can tell from the Osakan accent ya got.”
Miyako giggled, twirling a lock of her hair. “I’m in a similar boat. My friends are hanging with their dates, but I came alone. So, I figure I go find a random friend to hang out with. And so…” She poked Ryuji’s chest and winked. “You drew the random lot.”
“Lucky me then? Go figure.” The knucklehead itched the back of his head.
“So, where do you wanna go?”
“You choose. I’ve never been here before.”
“Well, ya came to the right place, Ryuji! Follow me!” An enthused smile formed on the energetic girl’s face as she walked Ryuji into the Jurassic Park attractions. He shared her enthusiasm, exploring the area and encountering life-like animatronics of dinosaurs, including some Velociraptors and a Spinosaurus.
“Like oh my gosh, don’t they look real?!” Miyako happily exclaimed.
“Heheh, hell yeah! Like straight out of the movies!” Ryuji heartily laughed as Miyako led him straight for Jurassic Park: The Ride attraction.
“I think you’ll like this, Ryuji.” With that, Miyako took him into the ride. By the end, the cart took a watery dive with the climactic appearance of the T. rex bellowing its loud, ear-shattering iconic roar.
“Wow, that was great!” Ryuji hollered, pumping his fist up overhead.
“I’m glad ya liked it, Ryuji.”
“Where to next?”
Miyako smirked. “How about the Minion Park?”
Elsewhere in the theme park, Ren and Ann stepped into a life-like scene straight out of a movie. They recognized the castle, the wizards, and magic. The couple found themselves in the Wizardly World of Harry Potter. They gazed in awe around the Harry Potter-themed attractions.
Facing a young boy with short brown hair and glasses, Ann turned to Ren, resisting the urge to giggle out loud.
“What?” Ren raised an eyebrow.
“Did I ever tell you almost look like Harry Potter?” Ann chuckled, clamping her mouth as to not laugh.
“What? No, I don’t,” he scoffed, meticulously staring at the Harry Potter figure. Promptly removing his glasses, the young man pivoted Ann’s way. “How about now?”
“Hmm, yeah you still kinda do.”
“Unbelievable.” He put his glasses back on.
“I remember watching the movies growing up, but never read much of the books.”
Ren smirked. “I read some of them. Still, this attraction is nice.”
“I know! It’s like we’re in their world!” Ann gleefully stared at the Alnwick Castle. Grabbing his hand, she led him around to the area paying tribute to Diagon Alley. Afterward, they rode on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction.
To make his girlfriend happy, Ren bought her a wand replica from the gift shop. Merrily gleaming over her souvenir gift, Ann hugged his right arm.
“Thanks so much! You’re the best, Ren!” She said, smiling wholesomely to her boyfriend.
In another vicinity of the theme park, Hifumi, Sion, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta scoured the Super Nintendo World attraction that recently opened. Heading over to the Mario Kart attraction, the group walked right in as if they’ve literally entered the Super Mario realm.
The lush & colorful Mushroom Kingdom backdrop framed a genuine life-like look for the fictitious video game world. The green pipes, the large red and white spotted mushrooms, the red piranha plants, and oversized blocks occupied most of the space.
“Isn’t this great, you guys?!” Yumeko excitedly flailed her arms in the air like she didn’t care.
“We’re literally in the Super Mario world!” Ryōta exclaimed in awe.
“Yeah, I never imagined it’d be this life-like,” Mary gaped, surveying the outlandish park attraction.
For Sion, the entire experience, including this one, was surreal to him. He never would’ve imagined these attractions in his world. Quietly admiring the life-like attraction from Super Nintendo Land, the Revenant’s mind was back at ease. At that moment, Sion eased his mind, briefly purging the bleak atmosphere of his world.
Noting Sion’s relaxed state, Hifumi slid her hand into his and grasped. “Are you ok, Sion?”
“Yeah, I’m just relaxed now. Walking around these attractions, I feel at peace. It’s almost making me forget my world. But, most of all, I feel better by your company, Hifumi.” Sion replied. “Thanks for bringing me here.”
Hifumi genuinely smiled, relaxing her grip on Sion’s hand. “As long as you’re happy, that’s what matters most.”
“Hey! Let’s go on the Mario Kart rides!” Yumeko giddily hollered out to Hifumi, Sion, Mary, and Ryōta.
“Hold on, Yumeko! Do they even work?!” Mary surveyed the go-cart machines.
“Wow, it really does feel like we’re in a real life video game!” Ryōta yelled out, sitting inside his go-cart.
“Do you want to give it a try?” The Shogi player offered Sion.
“What? Driving in those?” Sion asked her.
“Yes, we can watch and see if it’s something you want to try.”
Watching Yumeko and her friends adjusting their carts, he smiled. “Yeah, we can watch.”
“Ready, set, go!” Yumeko shouted, quickly speeding past Mary and Ryōta. “Eat my dust, Mary!”
“Oh, you want some?!” Mary shouted as the Compulsive Gambler’s taunt triggered her competitive spark. “Don’t let her beat us, Ryōta!”
“But, this is just for…!” Ryōta called out but Mary already drove past him. “...fun?”
While the gamblers had their competitive race, Sion observed them and the other go-kart racers.
“You think you got it?” Hifumi asked him.
“I think so.”
As Hifumi and Sion got into go-karts, Ren, Ann, Ryuji, and Miyako arrived to meet them.
“Hey, guys!” Ann waved to them.
“Oh, hello. You all came in time if you want to race,” Hifumi said, adjusting her go-kart wheel. She also noted Miyako. “I don’t believe we’ve met?”
“This is Tokiha Miyako. She and I just met,” Ryuji replied.
“Hi, I found Ryuji sulking and then we bumped into each other. I hoped to find someone to hang with and Ryuji’s been a blast! Ooh, let’s get in the go-karts!” Miyako quickly grabbed Ryuji’s hand.
“What about you two?” Hifumi asked Ren and Ann.
“We’d be happy to,” answered Ren as he and Ann picked their go-karts.
When everyone started driving, Sion was initially slow to catch up. Teaching him the basics of go-karting, Hifumi showed him what he needed to learn. After some trial and error, the Revenant managed to get a firm grip. Casually driving through the race track, Sion enjoyed the thrill of riding a go-kart. A big smile adorned the Revenant’s face, enjoying this past time with his new friends.
Watching Sion smiling and laughing, Hifumi felt her mission to help Sion break out of his emotional shell was accomplished.
________________________________________
Osaka Castle (大坂城)/Chūō-ku, Osaka (中央区, 大阪市)/4:45 PM (JST)
Meanwhile, Makoto and Morgana diligently investigated the outskirts of the Osaka Castle landmark.
Deeply sighing, Makoto muttered. "Strange, there doesn’t seem to be any strange activity here."
“I think we’ve looked enough then. Let’s go and meet the others back at the hotel,” Morgana suggested.
“Right,” she nodded. Before reaching her for her smartphone, the young policewoman felt a loud rhythm, which resonated in her body like a heartbeat. As her face contorted, Makoto grimaced, garnering Morgana’s attention.
“Makoto, are you ok?”
“Can’t you feel it, Morgana?” Makoto asked, sensing a mysterious presence. She aimlessly surveyed the area, noting the civilians casually walking and talking like nothing’s going on. She quickly turned toward the castle and felt the presence seemingly going there. “This way, Morgana!”
As Makoto stormed off, Morgana sprinted after her. When they reached the castle, Makoto sensed a pained sensation in her mind, causing her to drop to a knee.
“Something’s happening… I can see something!” Makoto gasped.
“Makoto, what is it?!”
Suddenly, a quick series of flashbacks from Japan’s past played through her mind. She viewed realistic images of warring battles and scorching flames during the Siege of Osaka. The images of Tokugawa, Sanada, and Toyotomi’s forces flashed before her eyes. She saw William barreling through a rain of flaming arrows from the castle. She saw human soldiers and various Yokai. More images of William showed him meeting Sarutobi Sasuke, fighting Sanada Yukimura, battling a giant Yokai bird, William facing Toyotomi Hideyori, and finally William and Yukimura facing Lady Chacha, who transformed into a large nine-tailed fox. The flashbacks ended with Yukimura and Lady Chacha’s deaths followed by another heartbeat sensation resonating in her.
Makoto gasped as the visions vanished and returned to her state of mind. Taking some time to recollect herself, the policewoman sighed deeply.
"Are you okay, Makoto?" Morgana asked, pawing her leg. "Did you find anything?"
"More like I felt it in my mind. I saw visions.”
“Visions?”
Makoto replied, relaxing her breathing. “Yeah, they were visions based on Osaka Castle’s past. A major conflict went on here and I saw how it all played out.”
“Can it be related as to why those monsters appeared? Did you see the one who could’ve released them?”
“No, but nonetheless we have to tell the others.”
“Alright, let’s call everyone to meet back at the hotel,” Morgana firmly said.
With that, they made a hasty retreat back to the hotel. Pulling out her smartphone, Makoto prepared to send an emergency text to the other Phantom Thieves.
________________________________________
Outside the Osaka Science Museum (大阪市立科学館)/Kita-ku, Osaka (北区, 大阪市)/5:05 PM (JST)
“Those were quite fascinating exhibitions, weren’t they?” Akechi kindly addressed Sumire, who was opposite from him.
“Huh? Oh, yes. They were,” Sumire slightly smiled, facing Osaka in front of them. “Finding Ren-senpai and the others is going to be tough.”
“Don’t be hard on yourself, Sumire. We’re sure to find them sooner than later,” he gave her some level of reassurance. “If those monsters do attack here, it’ll lead us straight to them.”
With a gulp, Sumire relaxed. “I hope so.”
“Come, there’s a lot more to see in Osaka. Let’s make the best of it.”
“Right,” nodded the redhead as she escorted Akechi into the Osakan streets, finding herself feeling less optimistic about finding Ren and the others.
When the two headed out, unbeknownst to them, a small fissure slowly opened up in the sky. A shrill bird’s roar came out but yet to be detected by anyone.
 

Ford1114

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Chapter VII: Siege on Osaka

As soon as they received Makoto's text message, the Thieves alerted Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers about heading back to the hotel.

RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/7:30 PM (JST)

By the time the group arrived, it was almost nightfall. Upon arriving outside their reserved hotel rooms, they saw Makoto and Morgana already waiting to meet them.

"Makoto, we got your message. What did you and Morgana find?" Ren asked her and the cat.

"You're not going to believe this. I found something strange at…!" Before Makoto could finish her sentence, her face contorted with disbelief when she noticed her friends carrying bags full of souvenirs, most of them purchased from the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Universal Studios Japan.

"Hey, sorry we took so long, but we were long ways away from the hotel," Ann openly apologized for everyone.

"Yes, and I had to go look for Sion after he wandered off," Hifumi said.

"We really wished you came with us, Mako-chan," Haru said until she noticed Makoto looking visibly upset. "Mako-chan?"

"Guys, don't tell me you went out and used up valuable time to go sight-seeing instead of…" Morgana then paused as he caught Makoto furrowing her brows.

"What is this? Is this a joke?" Makoto sternly questioned the group, almost gnashing her teeth.

"Yo, Makoto! You missed out on all the fun!" Ryuji hollered, taking off his sunglasses. "Half of us went to Universal Studios and the aquarium! Oh, I even met a really nice girl and got her num-!" As Makoto's fierce gaze met his, he let out a scared whimper.

"You are not helping our situation at all, Ryuji," Yusuke shook his head in disbelief.

Shrugging his shoulders, Ren sighed and confessed. "I guess we get a bit carried away in forgetting about the mission."

Rubbing her temples, Makoto replied with sarcasm. "Oh, sure, sure, a little bit carried away and forgetting our mission just for some cheap thrills. Meanwhile, Morgana and I did all the work finding some strange energies in Osaka Castle!" Her tone quickly changed as she yelled at her teammates. "What the hell happened with you, guys?! We're supposed to be responsible adults here!"

"Excuse me," Yumeko raised her hand. "Sorry, but you see we just couldn't help indulging ourselves in the fun activities Osaka has to offer. We simply couldn't pass up the oppor-!"

"Did I say you could speak?" Makoto snarled at Yumeko's way.

"Please excuse Yumeko, Niijima-san! She doesn't know any better! I tried so hard to tell her we're here strictly for business!" Mary tried reasoning with the policewoman, who made her flinch with the same intense glare she gave Yumeko and Ryuji.

"I don't think that's going to work, Mary," Ryōta gulped.

"Hey, don't you dare take it out on all of us! Some of us actually were investigating!" Mary rebuked toward Makoto, holding her ground with the younger Niijima sibling.

"Forget it, Mary. You're not going to get through with her," Sion calmly chuckled, stepping away from Hifumi.

"Sion, hold on!" Hifumi beckoned him over.

"This will be a second, Hifumi," he reassured her, not taking his eyes off Makoto, who shifted over to face him. "So, you found the source, huh? Wow, for a mere human, I'm impressed." He openly addressed her in a calm and sardonic tone. Forming a calm, collective grin on his face, he irked Makoto with it.

"And the hell is that supposed to mean, Sion?!" Makoto angrily shouted at the vampire. "I don't know what my friends see in you, but I've had my trust issues with you."

"Yeah, as if I didn't notice," remarked the Revenant.

"Shut up! You talk all high and mighty. Listen, I've had my suspicions about you ever since you came here. It can't be a mere coincidence that when you came here, the Lost and Yokai started to show up!"

Hifumi gasped. "Makoto, you can't blame Sion for the Lost and Yokai suddenly appearing in our world!"

"No? Well, I can and I will call him out on it!" Makoto narrowed her gaze toward Sion.

"Hifumi is right! You can't accuse me of luring these monsters into your world!" Sion snapped at Makoto to the point of his eyes turning red.

Seeing his red eyes brought shivers to Makoto's back. However, she didn't let the Revenant scare her entirely.

"Guys, please no fighting. There's people watching," Haru whispered as she and the others caught onlookers observing the heated exchange and others walking away.

"You have no idea of the hell I've had to go through fighting the Lost! I was separated from my friends! When I arrived here, who was the first person to take me in and treat me with unconditional kindness? Hifumi did! Who else accepted me for what I am? Your friends! Amamiya has treated me fairly! Thanks to Takamaki, I've learned how foreigners have to cope with living in a society they've not accustomed to! The others have been nothing but good to me!" Sion briefly paused and pointed toward Makoto. "But you think I'm some kind of scapegoat just because I'm different from a normal human! Just because you're law enforcement! You think I'm going to hurt your friends or something?!"

Makoto gritted, feeling the sting from Sion's scathing words. "No, that's not…"

Sion didn't allow her to finish. "You want to call me 'high and mighty'? Look who's talking! You're the one who calls herself 'Queen'. Queen of what? Queen of Pettiness? The Queen of stealing the show by enforcing justice with your fist? Please, your so-called idealism is a joke, Mako-kins."

Upon hearing this as an insult to her codename and dreams, her mind mentally cracked. Coupled with the built-up frustrations during this past couple of days and her last confrontation with Sion, she finally snapped, unleashing her unbridled anger.

Preparing to lunge at Sion, Ryuji and Hifumi seized her by the arms.

"LET ME THE FUCK GO!" Makoto furiously screamed, struggling to break loose from Hifumi and Ryuji restraining her. "YOU BETTER LET ME FUCKING GO! I'M GOING TO KICK HIS SORRY ASS!" She so desperately wanted to grab and kill Sion with her fists. She could imagine punching Sion's head off.

"Yo, chill out! We can't let you two fight here!" Ryuji shouted, finding it difficult to restrain Makoto, who elbowed his side and nearly punched his face. "Ow, watch it!"

"Please, Makoto! You are not thinking rationally! Sion has done nothing wrong!" Hifumi pleaded to the policewoman.

As the onlookers walked away, security arrived to assess the situation. As the group noticed the guards, they deescalated the conflict. Once Makoto stopped struggling, Ryuji and Hifumi let her go.

"Th-This isn't right," Makoto muttered, eyeing Sion with her friends. She quickly ran down the hall in anguish.

The group saw a few tears fall from Makoto's eyes.

"Makoto, wait!" Ren called out.

"Mako-chan!" Haru cried out deeply concerned.

"Please, come back! We can cool tensions down after a talk!" Morgana shouted.

Realizing what he said was completely out of line, Sion muttered in guilt. "I-I'm sorry." He stammered.

"Please don't blame yourself. It's not your fault," Hifumi reassured the Revenant.

"Geez, that could've turned out worse," Mary sighed in disbelief.

"I know! Did you see Sion's eyes turn red? Pretty spooky." Yumeko realized.

"Yeah, you're one to talk!" Both Ryōta and Mary remarked in unison, remembering Yumeko's glowing red eyes when she's in her frenzied gambling mood.

"What now?" Futaba wondered.

Just then, Nekomata materialized in front of the group. "Hmm, this is troublesome. We cannot afford any infighting right now. Our efforts will be for naught if we don't stay united."

"Nekomata's right. We need to get Makoto back," Yusuke said.

"Don't worry. I'll go get her back." Ann requested, recalling the instances when she and the former student council president talked things over.

"Please try talking sense into her, Ann. I hope she'll feel better," Haru worryingly said.

Nodding, Ann started toward the same direction Makoto went.

"Yeah, we don't wanna leave a teammate out of the action," Futaba concurred.

"Don't worry. Makoto and Morgana were going to provide us vital information." Ren reminded his team. Looking down at Morgana, the Phantom Thief nodded. "Let's hear it from you first while Ann gets Makoto."

Morgana sighed and nodded. "I hoped she'd explain it all, but fine."

Somewhere in the hotel hallways, Makoto walked so fast she wasn't even paying attention to where she was going. Her mind raced with many distressing thoughts. She didn't care where she went, as long as she was away from the dispute.

Stopping for a moment to catch her breath, she wondered if she became a liability to the group. Once having regrets about her 'usefulness' to the adults and the Thieves, her biggest fear was feeling inadequate to those who depended on her.

I'm useless! I'm useless! I'm useless! Makoto's frantic mindset raced, overwhelmed with self negative thoughts.

Makoto fell into deep thought, mulling over her own ineffectiveness.

"Makoto!" Ann's voice rang out to her.

Slowly turning to the sound of her name, Makoto caught Ann behind her. The policewoman reminisced on their personal interactions in their high school years. Initially, she recalled Ann being hostile toward her for keeping quiet during the Kamoshida incident. She also recalled being bribed by the former Shujin principal with a college recommendation letter if she spied on Ren. After the incidents and Makoto joining the Phantom Thieves, Ann put aside her resentment for Makoto, who apologized for not doing anything to help Shiho.

Once hostile with each other, Ann and Makoto became fast friends.

"Ann?"

"Hey, we are so worried about you! What has gotten into you?!"

Nodding, Makoto bluntly replied. "Look, I just want to be taken seriously. I'm a young adult now just like the rest of you. As someone who prides herself with responsibility, especially now as a law enforcement officer, it bothered me seeing you guys slacking off on the job. It truly hurt me."

"Listen, Makoto. The way you've been acting lately, you're reminding me of your sister," Ann bluntly told Makoto, drawing a parallel between Sae and her. "I understand we're here for important things, but maybe you could loosen up? It's not often we come to Osaka."

Gritting her teeth, Makoto lashed out on the verge of tears. "Loosen up? Loosen up?! "You have NO IDEA how much hell we've been put through with these monsters, and why we're forced to come out of retirement! I thought we would live the rest of our lives peacefully without being called back prematurely! Why? Because of divine intervention?! Everything's falling apart ever since that vampire from another world shows up acting like he owns the place! He meets Hifumi and then they befriend each other?! Just like that?! Now, we have another talking cat as if one isn't enough! And now we have three graduates from a gambling school who know our identities?" She called her hands into fists. "I feel like with these new additions to the group, especially with you guys cozying up with Sion, I feel so burdened… none of you are taking me or our situation seriously. I just wish…" She whimpered pitifully, letting tears fall. "I wish these events never happened! AND I SWEAR TO FUCKING GODI'M... I'M THE WORST SCUMBAG EVER-!"

Suddenly, Makoto was on the receiving end of a loud smack to her face. Feeling the sting from Ann's hard slap, the policewoman was left stunned from a dose of reality. Quickly grabbing Makoto's arms, Ann shook her.

"MAKOTO! STOP!" Ann cried out, snapping her friend out of her distress. "That's not you! Do you remember a few years ago what I told you? 'Real scum wouldn't call themselves that'?! You're still valuable to us. If something bad were to happen to Ren and so help me, you'd be the next in line to lead us, Makoto. No one can replace you! Not even Sion."

Using the crease of her elbow to wipe her tears, Makoto sniffled. "Are you sure?"

The blonde-haired model wholesomely smiled. "Yeah, I do! We're sorry about slacking off the way we did, but please give Sion another chance."

"But…"

Ann tapped Makoto's shoulders. "Give him a chance. Who cares if he's some vampire? He hasn't hurt anyone and Hifumi trusts him. Who knows? He might grow on you." She said with a wink.

As she mulled over her friend's words, Makoto openly sighed. "I'm sorry, Ann. It's just… I guess now being a police officer, I have this incentive to protect you guys from imminent threats. As for Sion, I'll reconsider, but I'm going to need time to adjust with him and those three gamblers."

"I know," Ann hugged Makoto, who remained quiet as she let Ann heal her broken spirit and subdue her unbridled emotions.

"I just wanted life to stay the way it's been, but I understand why we have to stand up and fight again," Makoto let out another emotional response, drying the tears from her eyes.

"I'm glad to hear that," Ann said as she and Makoto exchanged bright smiles.

Suddenly, the women heard what sounded like a horrific screech accompanied by an elephant's roars, which reverberated and became felt inside the hallway.

"What the hell was that?!" Ann cried out.

"It came from outside!" Ren yelled out, quickly catching up and finding them. "We've gotta go now!"

With an intense look on her face, Makoto clenched her fists. "Ok, we're ready!"

RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka (Outside)/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/8:06 PM (JST)

Arriving on the street near the hotel, the Phantom Thieves and their allies amassed already in their super-powered forms. The Thieves were taken aback with the gamblers' superpowered forms.

With their attention toward the sky, the group saw a giant flying entity soaring high in the night skies. The entity let out a terrible screech similar to a demonically-possessed elephant, which Queen and Panther both heard moments ago while inside the hotel.

"Look!" Panther pointed up toward the giant flying beast. It was a four-winged Yokai bird with a body made up of horrific ghastly faces, a yellowish-orange forehead horn, and a cadaver-like face.

"Oh shit! Look at the size of that thing!" Skull yelled out.

"Yeah, that is a huge bird!" Presto exclaimed.

"It's not just any bird, but a Yokai bird! If I recall from the legends, that is the Onmoraki!" Fox identified the Yokai bird.

"Onmoraki?" Noir muttered.

"Guys, we're here!" Panther called out as she, Joker, and Queen reconvened with the Thieves and their allies.

"Hifumi?" Joker noticed Tennyo in her transformed state.

"Yes, it's me. What do you think? Since you and the Thieves use disguise forms, I have one of my own," Tennyo replied. "Though, I'm not a Phantom Thief."

"Her form is derived from the power she drew from Io's amber Blood Bead," Sion revealed to the group.

"And you three? These are your disguise forms?" Panther asked the three gamblers.

"Yep! All thanks to our Guardian Spirits!" Tamamo earnestly replied.

"Let's stay focused, you two," Brave advised Tamamo and Presto.

"Crap! We've got company!" Oracle cried out as numerous portals opened up, releasing unwanted monsters into the streets.

"I remember seeing that bird from the visions I had!" Queen recalled the horrific images of the Siege of Osaka.

"Visions?" Joker turned to Queen with confusion on his face.

"I was going to tell you guys about the visions I had, but as you know things went south after I lectured you all," Queen sighed, regretting not getting to the point about her discovery.

Many civilians fled from the scene, leaving just the Thieves, Sion, Tennyo, and the gamblers to fight the Yokai and Lost monsters. Upon seeing the Lost, Sion's red eyes flared.

"Lost!" Sion snarled, quickly summoning his Queenslayer Blade and Hanemukuro.

"Let's be careful and draw these monsters away from civilians," Tennyo advised Sion.

"Don't worry. These things are only after us for whatever reason," Joker added, brandishing his dagger.

"So, can you recognize any Lost, Sion?" Tennyo queried, summoning her ko-naginata.

"Yeah, there's a few of them," the Revenant faced the Lost, identifying the Lost creatures. The first ones he noticed were several black creatures with long white hair and red spikes coming out of their backs. They resembled spiked Onis, brandishing swords, and bayonets. "Forgotten Devils."

The Revenant turned away, eyeing a group of four black-armored samurai-like knights with menpō masks. "Hunters in Black." Shifting away from the four Hunters in Black, he identified another fleet of four gray-armored knights with ghostly masks and carrying various weapons. One held a sword, another carried a shield, one carried a hammer, and a fourth brandished an ax. "Argent Wolf Soldiers. Those were once members of the provisional governing body, Cerberus, until they frenzied and turned into these Lost."

Hearing this, Tennyo gasped in disbelief. "They used to be Revenant soldiers? Were they anyone you knew?"

Sion nodded dismissively. "No, but they were people at one point." He turned away, noticing two 13-foot tall white-bodied Yeti-like Lost. They have black spikes all over their backs. These behemoths carried heavy swords over their right shoulders. "Boreal Savages." He turned toward a white-furred Yeti-like humanoid with white claws. "A Boreal Brute."

Just then, out of the Lost collective, one stood out from the others. The group faced down an 8'0 foot tall half-naked, blue green-skinned female humanoid, garbed in a revealing black armored attire that covered half of her body. The right side of her doll-like face is covered by the black armor. The creature's left eye has a black iris inside a glowing yellowish red pupil. This Lost's other distinguishing features are its long, slender legs and the greenish blue hair tied into long pigtails. She carried a lance that's as long as her entire body. This is the Invading Executioner.

"An Invading Executioner, too?!" Sion exclaimed.

"Whoa! That thing looks like Hatsune Miku!" Oracle observed, taking note of the Invading Executioner's pig-tailed hairstyle is similar to the aforementioned Vocaloid.

"Well, a cross between Miku and a stripper model," Fox mentioned.

"Guys, let's be less impressed and get ready to take this thing down!" Queen quickly chided Oracle and Fox.

"We've got more coming!" Panther immediately called out.

Of the Yokai present, there consisted of blue-skinned Yoki ninjas wielding kusarigama & cannons, gray-skinned Namahage, Rokurokubi, and two Enki. Accompanying these Yokai, an assembly of new Yokai appeared.

Among the new Yokai are massive, dark and red armored Yokai, once slain warriors, that invoked the outward appearances of Asura and Rakshasa. Brandishing a pair of swords, these Yokai warriors came forth ready to skewer their foes. They have long white hair and bangs. Growing out of their backs is an extra pair of grotesque phantom arms also wielding swords. Jutting from their backs and heads are golden yellow stones, empowering them with raw power.

Janomecho quickly materialized on Brave's shoulder and communicated with her.

"According to Janomecho, these things are Magatsu Warriors," Brave identified the armored Yokai.

Then, several giant bipedal black-feathered, golden Khakkhara staff carrying Tengu warriors appeared. Their menacing red eyes complimented their terrifying demonic avian appearances. Covering their face and most of their unfeathered areas is scaly purple skin. Golden armor trimmed the top of their wings and forearms. Black plumages covered most of their waist. Sharp yellow talons, used to skewer their foes, made up their three-toed feet and four-fingered hands. Their purple beaks are seemingly hard enough to crack open a man's head.

"I do recognize those Yokai from the books. They're Karasu Tengus," Fox added, facing the black-feathered Yokai. He also noticed five white-furred Yokai foxes. "There's even Fox Spirits?!"

Two flaming Yokai wheels with giant deranged faces materialized, which Janomecho identified.

"Those are called Wheelmonks?" Brave blinked, turning away as she and her friends saw a group of red-skinned Kappa with dish-shaped head depressions and turtle shells. "And those are Red Kappas? Ugh, gross."

"Eeek, a giant rat! Get it away!" Panther shrieked as a white almost hairless bipedal rat with a notable hunchback emerged. Its sickly outward appearance consists of hairless skin with tufts of black hair on the crown of its head. Its red eyes gleamed with malevolence. The rat's snout resembled a rotund human rose coupled with sharp incisors covered with disgusting saliva. Long, 15-inch claws made up its hands. Seemingly once human, the Yokai rat has on a gray and purple tattered monk's rose and rosary bead necklace.

"That's a Tesso!" Fox exclaimed.

"And what about those freaky snake-looking things, Inari?!" Oracle pointed to two Yokai taking the shape of 13-foot long gray and black reticulated, white-bellied snakes and women's heads. Long, stringy black hair made up their heads and covered most of their faces. Their eyes, snake-like in appearance, cast a petrifying gaze at their foes. Letting out ear-piercing screams and high-pitched hisses, the Yokai half-serpents readily craved to taste human flesh.

"Those are Nure-Onna."

"Yo, look at these big walking studs!" Skull shouted, pointing to a 13-foot tall Yokai with a horse's head. Its skin is sickly gray and malformed. Its limbs are long and slender. Remnants of armor worn by fallen samurai adorned its shoulders and waist. Several arrows are seen covering its shoulder armor. Black claws made up its hands and feet. Jutting from the back of its head are golden spiky horns. Glowing yellow energy lit up some areas of its horns and its ravaged body. The beast's menacing red eyes gazed down at its opponents, bellowing angrily and hefting a massive dark club in its right hand.

"Janomecho says that's a Mezuki! Watch out for its club!" Brave called out. Then, an equally 13-foot tall bull-headed Yokai with malformed dark red skin. Resembling a walking bipedal bull corpse, it has on samurai armor, covering most of its entire body. Tufts of thick black hair went from its head down its back and into a thick tail. A nose ring pierced through its nostrils. Its unarmored areas, the limbs, forearms, and chest have golden blemishes, glowing and pulsating with raw energy. Its horns conspicuously glow with the same golden yellow light. Adorning its neck is a thick yellow and black striped rope. Along with Mezuki, its red eyes locked on the same opponents and roared, swinging a massive dark spiked club over its head. "And that's a Gozuki!"

As the group looked ahead, they saw a 22-foot long green-bodied, white-bellied Yokai serpent materialized, Raising its head, it towered 13-feet high over its foes. On its back are stems and plants that have seemingly grown from its back over the ages. Shifting out from its sides are two smaller black snakes, doubling as extra eyes and heads, giving it a Hydra-like appearance. The main central head has a sharp nose horn and glowing stones atop its head. Its main head's red eyes intently scanned its adversaries.

"Shit, and I thought that bird was big!" Skull shouted.

"That's a Yatsu-no-Kami!" Fox identified the large Yokai serpent.

"There's too many of them!" Presto yelled out.

"Yes, there's more than the ones we destroyed before," Tamamo said, her smile curving into a sadistic grin. As she dropped on all fours, her eyes glowed red as the Nine Tails appeared next to her. "Heheh, you're telling me I should be careful? Oh, but that wouldn't be fun at all."

"You should be careful, idiot! We need to dwindle their numbers as quickly as possible!" Brave chastised her.

"Yeah, don't worry we're gonna be kicking their asses!" Skull boasted, readying his mace to bust a few monster heads.

Looking to the sky, Joker scanned the Onmoraki. "Sion and Queen, would you two like to help me go after that bird? The rest of you take care of the rest of these monsters!" With that, he beckoned the Revenant and Queen.

Realizing she'd have to work together with Sion, Queen glared at him. Sion paid her little mind as he followed Joker.

"Be careful, you three!" Panther encouraged them.

Just when Queen followed Sion, she noticed Brave and Presto heading off to fight the Yatsu-no-Kami.

"Hey, Yumeko! A little help here!" Brave shouted to her friend, who was caught up defending herself from two Fox Spirits and a Wheelmonk. Swinging her spear around, she slashed and defended herself from the Yokai serpent's tail.

"Yumeko!" Presto shouted while swinging his tonfas at Yatsu-no-Kami's smaller snake heads. He then summoned Genbu and Kato to assist him against the Yokai serpent's smaller heads trying to ensnare him.

Suddenly, one shot from Yatsu-no-Kami's tail knocked Brave back. Crashing nearly headfirst to the ground, Brave rolled away, leaving herself at Yatsu-no-Kami's mercy. The serpent quickly swooped in to ensnare her in its mouth.

"Mary!" Presto raced over to save her.

Then, at the last possible second, the serpent's head stopped. Brave blanched in disbelief when Queen stood in her way, struggling to push the serpent's head with her hands.

"Can you still fight?" Queen asked Brave.

"Yeah…" Brave then grabbed her spear. "Hell yeah! Thanks!" Invoking Janomecho's spirit, Brave imbued her Guardian Spirit's wind Ki, granting her access to its power. Admiring the green glow surrounding her spear, she listened to Janomecho whispering. "Wait, this is the Living Weapon technique?" She nodded and turned toward Presto. "Ryōta, you're able to access your Living Weapon from either of your Guardian Spirits! Be quick though!" She watched Queen landing a powerful right hook to Yatsu-no-Kami's middle head.

"Don't cross me!" Queen angrily berated the Yokai serpent. "For now, I'll just pretend your Sion." With that, she summoned Agnes and rode her Persona around the giant snake.

"You can summon a motorcycle?! What the hell?!" Brave gaped in shock.

"Look, I did it, Mary!" Presto invoked Genbu's Ki, producing water elements through his tonfas, which he used to smash one of the smaller snake heads.

"Nice! Now, here's one from me!" Brave cried out, swinging her spear around and sending a tornado blast at the other head.

Driving Agnes into the air, Queen slammed her Persona into Yatsu-no-Kami's main head.

"Don't mess with me!" Queen roared, snarling close and looking the serpent dead in its eyes.

Meanwhile, Tamamo asked Nine Tails to assist her with the two Fox Spirits and the Wheelmonk. After taking out the two Fox Spirits with the Nine Tails' fire Ki, Tamamo learned the hard way when Wheelmonk nullified her Guardian Spirit's attack.

"Hmm, so you absorb fire. That makes sense considering you're made of fire. What should I do then?" Tamamo prowled around Wheelmonk. Just then, Tamamo's fingernails seemingly turned into sharp fox claws. "Then, why don't I tear you to shreds?!" Laughing with maniacal glee, Tamamo threw herself at Wheelmonk, which attacked her with fiery blasts, but she evaded the Yokai's attacks. Following two claw strikes, she cut Wheelmonk in two. "Well, that was rather dull."

Turning over to Brave and Presto, Tamamo headed their way, but then Tennyo came flying in her direction. Narrowly dodging, Tamamo watched Tennyo landing on her feet and brandishing her Kunitokotachi ko-naginata.

"Need some help?" Tamamo offered her.

"Perhaps, see that?" Tennyo pointed toward two Magatsu Warriors.

"Just those two?"

"If you're willing to help?"

Tamamo nodded. "Gladly." With that, she and Tennyo hastily fought the Magatsu Warriors.

As Tamamo assisted Tennyo with the Magatsu Warriors, Oracle immediately summoned Al Azif, utilizing its power to boost her allies' defenses and speed.

"Defense up! Speed up! Go, get 'em!" Oracle announced.

Just then, Tennyo and the three gamblers noticed green flashes of energy surrounding them. They sensed their powers boosted due to Oracle's intervention.

"Whoa, what's this?!" Presto exclaimed.

"Eyes on the enemy, Ryōta!" Brave angrily chided him as Presto resumed their battle with the Yokai snake.

Even Sion felt the new power boost from Oracle.

"Thanks, Oracle!" Panther called out, throwing her whip and wiping out a Namahage with Maragi. She then cast Dormina, placing another Namahage to sleep. She quickly summoned Celestine, who quickly disposed of the sleeping Yokai with Agilao.

"Lucy!" Noir summoned her Persona, who gunned down several Rokurokubi with Triple Down. When Yoki came running at her, she doubled down and cast Mapsio, inflicting the Yokai ninja with a mental ailment. She quickly finished them off with Mapsiodyne.

Several Tengu and two Fox Spirits surrounded Fox, who quickly summoned Gorokichi to assist him. Making haste, Gorokichi's icy element, Bufu, froze and cleansed the Fox Spirits. The Tengu quickly swooped down and attacked Fox, who fired back with his assault rifle. After blasting them, Fox slashed them apart with his Usumidori katana.

"Such uncivilized creatures, be gone!" Fox shook the Yokai blood from his katana's blade. The Tengu fell into bloody pieces as their remains dissolved.

Just then, the two Enki came walking toward the group with the Boreal Savages and Boreal Brute. Figuring his Persona's ice attacks would effectively be useless against the Boreal Savages and the Brute, Fox opted to switch places with Skull, who summoned William to fight.

"Y'all are about to get wrecked!" Skull threatened the Yokai and Lost, sending William into battle.

The Boreal Brute rushed Skull and William. The Lost attacked with ferocious blows to Skull, who blasted the Lost with Zionga. Following this, Skull utilized Charge, giving him a little boost as he smacked the Boreal Brute with his mace. After cold clocking and brutally decapitating the Lost, one of the Enki attacked him.

Just then, Panther intervened and used Matarunda, diminishing Enki's attack. Skull then blasted it away with Mazionga.

The other Enki teamed up with the Boreal Savages to attack Skull, Fox, Panther, and Noir. As the Thieves prepared to fight them off, Mona dropped in, firing explosives from his slingshot, which blew apart one Boreal Savage and brutally crippling the other one. The Enki lunged at the Thieves, only for Mona's Persona, Diego, to strike the Enki with a Miracle Punch.

After dazing the Enki, Skull used God's Hand, launching a golden gauntlet and punching a hole through the Enki's belly. Then, the gauntlet kept going hitting the monster until it flew up and beheaded the Enki. Its head went flying off its shoulders and exploded, sending eyes, a tongue, and gray matter splattering on a nearby vehicle. The headless Yokai collapsed face first, as its body and severed head dissolved.

"Nice going, team! Wait, you missed one!" Oracle pointed them toward the injured Boreal Savage, who stood up ready to fight. "Well, what now?"

Panther, Skull, Fox, Noir, and Mona shared smirks, nodding in unison. They quickly turned and gunned down the Lost creature, blowing the creature away as flesh and torn body sections scattered all over the vicinity.

"Nice work, guys! But, that's not the last of them!" Oracle warned as an army of Lost and Yokai marched toward the Thieves.

The Invading Executioner, Mezuki, and Gozuki came with an army consisting of a Tesso, a Wheelmonk, a Spirit Fox, Nure-Onna, Yoki, Namahage, Rokurokubi, Hunters in Black, Forgotten Devils, and two Argent Wolf Soldiers.

Popping his neck, Skull scoffed. "Yeah, so what? We ain't standing down. Throw all ya got at us!"

Fox remarked. "Such elegance in your manner of speech, Ryuji."

"Thanks, I guess."

Mona chimed in. "Here they come!"

As expected, the small fry attacked first. The Spirit Fox, the Wheelmonk, the Rokurokubi, the Namahage, and the Nure-Onna were quickly wiped out in bloody succession, but a few managed to get by the Thieves' barrage of attacks.

A Nure-Onna quickly ensnared Noir with its long tail, attempting to crush her.

"Noir!" Fox shouted as he attempted to save her, but Noir fired Cripple from her gun and shot the Yokai's eyes out.

As the Nure-Onna released Noir and hissed in pain, Noir struck the creature with her ax. Roaring with fury, Nure-Onna rushed in and fired long strands of hair to grab Noir, but the Phantom Thief cut through the stringy hair with her ax and used Psiodyne to psychically damage the Yokai.

"You're through!" Noir yelled, bisecting the creature from head to tail with her ax. Ripping out her ax, blood sprayed from the slain Yokai before it dissolved into dust.

When a Rokurokubi spewed flames from its mouth, Fox froze and destroyed it with Mabufu. After finishing the Yokai, an Argent Wolf Soldier and a Hunter in Black rushed at him.

"You're up, Skull!" Fox turned away, letting Skull and William take their turn.

"Get wrecked, dipshits!" Skull roared with defiance, knocking them down with Charge. Then using William, Skull electrocuted and incinerated them away with Mazionga.

Throwing her whip, Panther seized a Forgotten Devil. As another Forgotten Devil charged at her, she cast Agidyne to burn it. She then finished the ensnared Lost with a Maragidyne. When the Tesso approached her, the red-clad woman shrieked and struck the Yokai rat with her whip.

Mona quickly went head-on with an Argent Wolf Soldier and a Hunter in Black. The cat clashed swords with the Lost. When the Lost went for a counterstrike, Mona evaded and used Miracle Punch to cripple the Argent Wolf Soldier. After wiping out the Hunter in Black with Garudyne, the cat killed it with an explosive shot from his slingshot.

"Not so tough, are ya?!" Mona taunted the Lost until the Invading Executioner stepped in, folding her legs around her lance while spinning herself around like a pole dancer.

"Head's up! The evil Hatsune Miku is going for a rush attack!" Oracle warned, quickly boosting the group's speed as the Invading Executioner performed a sliding attack while riding on her lance.

"Thanks for the heads up, Oracle!" Noir shouted.

"Ok, now I'm mad!" Panther snarled.

Just then, the Yokai duo, Mezuki, and Gozuki, marched toward Fox and Skull.

"Um, the beefy dudes got their eyes set on us," Skull realized.

"We'll draw them away, Skull!" Fox advised.

"Leave the pole dancer with us, you two!" Mona added as he, Panther, Noir, and Oracle engaged the Invading Executioner.

When Skull jumped up, he struck Mezuki with his mace. Lifting its weapon, the bipedal horseman performed three consecutive strikes, all Skull evaded. Trying one of his electric attacks, they barely damaged the horseman. Instead, the attacks merely irked it. Mezuki charged at Skull, who retreated, luring the beast away. Mezuki spewed three evil apparitions from its mouth, which flew toward Skull and exploded with anything they touched.

"Aw shit! Exploding ghosts?! Fox! Meet me at the ramen shop!" Skull called out to the artist.

"Ramen shop…" Fox paused and smirked, knowing exactly what Skull had in mind. "Why didn't you say so?" He dodged Gozuki's dual swing from its weapons. "Hey! Are you famished, my giant friend? Well, why don't you join me for some ramen and tea?!" With that, he turned and bolted off, luring Gozuki toward him.

"Ramen, eh? This should be good," Oracle smirked before shifting back on the Invading Executioner, who splashed Mona, Panther, and Noir with a water attack.

"Hang in there, guys! Keep fighting!" Oracle used Al Azif to restore her friends' defense and speed power.

"Great, here comes that nasty-looking rat and some of those Lost!" Panther pointed to Tesso, two Forgotten Devils, and an Argent Wolf Soldier marching toward them.

"Hey, Noir, you want to do our thing?" Mona turned to the beauty thief. "Let's fight back, Noir!"

Suddenly, two spotlights beamed down on Noir and Mona, who immediately used the battlefield as their own performance stage.

"Mona-chan, we're on!" Noir announced as they bounced into the air. When Mona hopped high into the air, he somersaulted as smoke exploded over him, granting him the ability to turn into a black cat van.

As the van landed, the headlights, shaped like Mona's eyes, cast beams toward the Yokai rat and the Lost creatures. Noir gracefully landed on the roof of the van. Mona headed straight for the monsters

With a rocket launcher in hand, Noir locked and targeted the monsters. "You've been bad!" With that, she fired four consecutive missiles, blowing up the Tesso, the two Forgotten Devils, and the Argent Wolf Soldier into bloodied pieces and even some of their body parts exploded into red mist.

Hopping off the Mona van, Noir tipped her hat. "And that's that!" When she heard Mona groaning, she saw him lying and back in his normal state. "Mona-chan!" She went over to check on him, causing the cat to sneak a grin.

Panther huffed. "Hey, what are you smiling for, Mona?"

"Guys, we still have that evil Miku to worry about!" Oracle warned them, diverting their attention from Mona and toward the Invading Executioner as the last creature standing.

Upon recovery, Mona stood, readying his scimitar against his larger opponent. He flew at and slashed at the Invading Executioner, who blocked and parried his attacks. The Invading Executioner slashed him with her lance, injuring him. As he fell to the ground, Panther and Noir came to his aid.

Panther and Noir cried in horror. "MONA!"

"No, Mona!" Oracle shouted.

Before any could save him, the Invading Executioner hopped up, preparing to slam the butt end of her staff to crush Mona.

However, as he slowly came to his senses, Mona awoke with a start and barrel-rolled from the crushing attack. Then, the cat fired Garudyne, which delivered partial damage but also stunned the Greater Lost creature.

"I've got you now!" Mona shouted, utilizing a bulk of Diego's power to critically strike the Invading Executioner with Miracle Rush while breaking her lance into pieces. Having stunned the Greater Lost, Mona then ran his scimitar through the Invading Executioner's chest, unleashing strong enough wind to obliterate her defenses.

"Alright, time for a beat down! Beam her up!" Oracle declared as Mona, Panther, and Noir vanished from the Invading Executioner's view.

Then, in the blink of an eye, all the Invading Executioner saw was bright red and black shadows zipping all over the place like ninjas. After getting knocked around by continuous body shots and piercing blows, the Invading Executioner collapsed, falling to its knees. However, the Thieves' onslaught didn't stop there. Seizing the opportunity and with a sneaky grin, Oracle pushed a green button. A slot under Al Alzir opened up, dropping a massive green bomb, the size of a pick-up truck, in front of the Lost. Falling out of her Persona was Oracle, who plopped 2 meters from the bomb. When the lit fuse stopped, she gave a confused look and huddled over to check.

"Hey, what the heck, man?!" She tapped the bomb a few times, panicking Panther, Mona, and Noir as they prepared to bolt away.

The minute the fuse lit again and the bomb exploded, blowing away the Lost into bloody bits and pieces. The explosion sent Oracle flying, who with a starry wink also gave a thumbs up and a cute raspberry.

"Mission complete! Kinda…" Oracle said as she crashed in front of the other Thieves.

"Well, that could've gone totally bad for us," Panther deeply sighed with relief.

"Next time, warn us before you do that, Oracle," Noir said.

After healing himself and the team with Mediarahan, Mona added. "Great work team, but our other friends are spread out. Joker and Sion went after that giant demon bird. Queen's helping Yumeko and her friends against that big snake. Then, there's Hifumi and Yumeko fighting some Yokai. First, we gotta find Skull and Fox."

"Right, I think they went this way!" Panther pointed toward the direction Skull and Fox lured Mezuki and Gozuki away.

"Ok, that's where we'll go! This way, team!" Mona declared, leading the group to find their colleagues.

Meanwhile, Mezuki and Gozuki scoured another section of Osaka. They've come up short finding the two Phantom Thieves. Their presence scared away passersby, although they seemingly ignored any humans and continued their hunt. Just then, their noses picked up on the familiar scent of Skull and Fox, leading them toward a ramen shop.

Inside this particular ramen shop, a famished Skull pulled up a stool and sat at a bar stand.

"I'm running on empty, man," painfully groaned Skull, rubbing his belly and hungry for anything his stomach could take.

Fox whipped around with a fresh hot ramen bowl. "Behold!" With a brilliant smile, Fox poured some sauce into the ramen. "Saucey!" He placed edible contents over the top of the ramen. "Zesty masterpiece!"

"Ain't nothing better than this!"

As Fox and Skull prepared to engulf their ramen, the doors kicked open. Mezuki and Gozuki barged right in uninvited, causing the two Thieves to face them with annoyance. No, more like utter disdain for their mealtime being interrupted.

"Grrr," Skull snarled as he whipped out his shotgun while at the same time Fox readied his rifle. "GET OUT, DUMBASSES!" He and Fox opened fire, pelting the two Yokai with a spray of bullets that blew up sections of their body. To finish things off, Skull pulled out a grenade, pulling off its pin with his teeth and tossing it at the Yokai. "MY TREAT!"

Setting his sights on the grenade, Fox pulled the trigger and blasted the grenade, which exploded and blasted the Yokai away in a bloody heap. Passersby screamed with fright and ran away as the Yokai remains fizzled into red dust.

Skull and Fox elbow bumped each other.

"Yeah!" Skull yelled as he and Fox went back to engulfing their ramen meal.

Just then, Mona, Panther, Noir, and Oracle arrived following the sound of the gunfire and the Yokai's blood-curdling roars.

"Thank goodness we found you two!" Noir said, happily relieved.

"Oh ramen, gimmie!" Oracle reached for a bowl, causing Fox to whisk his out of her reach. "I've already eaten it."

"Besides, we need to get out of here," Mona added. "There's still more of those Yokai and Lost being spread out."

"I think I heard a commotion nearby! This way!" Panther beckoned the team. "I hope Joker and the others are ok."

The Magatsu Warriors continued their assault on Tennyo and Tamamo, forcing the ko-naginata wielder and gambler to go on the defense. Doing their best to evade the Yokai's dual swords and phantom arms, Tennyo and Tamamo moved out of their reach.

"They bring in the Rook with the blades of a knight," Tennyo muttered with chess metaphors.

"And we are both queens ready to throw out the board!" Tamamo said with a fiendish smile, calling Nine Tails to her side.

As the Magatsu Warriors rushed to slash them with their swords, Tennyo and Tamamo dodged their blades and surrounded the Yokai. Drawing Ki from the Nine Tails, Tamamo produced poker cards imbued with spiritual flames. These flaming cards surrounded and burned the Yokai, but the Magatsu Warriors' resistance allowed them to push through the flames. One of these Yokai knocked Tamamo away with a shoulder tackle.

"Ugh, that was not smart of me!" Tamamo yelped as she crashed to the ground.

"Yumeko!" Tennyo summoned three Shogi pieces that forged a barrier to protect Tamamo. With her Shogi Shield, she stopped the Magatsu Warriors' attacks on Tamamo. Then, when she quickly jumped into the air, Tennyo blasted them with Divine Thorn, but the Magatsu Warriors' were just as resistant to the lightning as Tamamo's fire. As she swiftly ran past the Magatsu Warriors, she checked with Tamamo. "They're going to prove troublesome."

"Tell me about it! Our fire and lightning can't seem to hurt them."

"I know."

"What now?" Tamamo queried.

Looking ahead, the Magatsu Warriors consecutively slashed the lightning barrier. The brutality of their strikes had enough raw strength to break her barrier. When one of the Yokai unleashed a spinning blade attack with its front and back swords, Tennyo conjured a power booster, Valor of Shogi, to enhance hers and Tamamo's attack and defense powers.

"Get ready, Yumeko!" Tennyo advised her as she rushed head-on and swung her ko-naginata, blocking the first two sword attacks from the Magatsu Warrior that almost destroyed her barrier. Despite being several feet shorter and with a reach smaller than the Magatsu Warrior, Tennyo managed to block every single one of the Yokai's swords.

Hearing the sounds of metal clashing, Tamamo awoke to the other Magatsu Warriors marching toward her. She and Nine Tails pounced forward, knocking the armored, dual sword-wielding Yokai back.

"Lend me your power, Nine Tails," Tamamo requested as Nine Tail's essence seeped into her body, brimming her with rich and powerful Ki. With nine fox tails materializing from her back and tailbone area, Tamamo crouched on all fours. Facing the Magatsu Warrior, a crazed look formed on Tamamo's face. "Heheh, you ready to checkmate yet?!"

The Magatsu Warrior swung its swords at Tamamo, who jumped away with newfound speed and effortlessly dodged him.

"Ooooh, so close!" Tamamo taunted him with her eyes glowing red like blood. "Here, let me give you a back rub!" Shen instinctively used four fox tails to tear off the Yokai's back phantom arms. Hearing the Magatsu Warrior's pained cries became music to Tamamo's ears. "Mmm, that's such a lovely singing voice you got there! How about I shut you up?" She launched at him.

As Tennyo swiftly beheaded the other Magatsu Warrior, she attentively turned toward Tamamo's battle and watched her brutal fight with the second Magatsu Warrior. Running up from behind, Tennyo shoved her ko-naginata into the Yokai's head and brain.

"Hoo-hum, you're boring me now," coldly muttered Tamamo, who used her tails to grab the Magatsu's neck. Following a loud, audible pop, she crushed the Yokai's throat.

Tennyo then brutally sliced open its head and turned her ko-naginata, slicing down its neck and spinal cord bones before delivering a quick decapitation. The second Magatsu Warrior's neck stump spewed a lot of blood and collapsed, joining his companion in bloody defeat. The Yokai bodies then dissolved into dark red mist as their presence ceased.

Taking a few breaths, Tennyo slammed the base of her ko-naginata. "That was close."

"See, Hifumi? Something you just have to get your hands dirty," Tamamo casually smiled at her, ignoring the fact she brutally tore apart a Yokai with Nine Tails' power.

Slightly disconcerted by Tamamo's casual response, Tennyo feigned a friendly response. "... yes, dirty. Right."

"Guys, nice work over there!" Skull called out as he and the other Thieves approached them in a hurry.

"You two really took down those two monsters? Wow, I'm impressed," Panther smiled.

"It was easy once we got the hang of things," Tamamo replied ever so casually.

"Hey, is something troubling you, Hifumi?" Fox noticed Tennyo's uneasiness. Hearing this, she put on a relaxed face.

"No, but thank you for asking, Yusuke."

"Yo! We've got more hostiles in other areas!" Oracle called out while back inside Al Azir.

"Let's split up and find the others! Be careful!" Mona declared as he, the Thieves, Tennyo, and Tamamo split into smaller units to find the others and reduce the remaining monster numbers.

Tempozan Harbor Village/Minato-ku, Osaka ( 港区 , 大阪市 )/8:37 PM (JST)

Guided by their Guardian Spirits, Mina and Kyosuke were met with resistance by Yokai. Innocent bystanders fled once three revolting, bulbous creatures covered with needles and broken blades.

"So, the Ki we felt did come from Yokai!" Mina said as Saoirse appeared next to her. As Saoirse whispered to her, the muscle woman nodded. "Yes, these are Harinobo."

"Over there! A Umi-Bozu!" Kyosuke bellowed as Makami appeared near him. He and his wolf faced the direction where the earth shook as a massive blob of water poured out, growing into a 22-foot high formless blob of water with a rounded head resembling a giant Buddhist monk. The center area of its internal body contains a glowing yellow circular core coupled with large yellow eyes, using them to scan its adversaries. Shifting its formless liquid form around, waves came falling off its body and crashing through the vicinity.

Reaching behind her back, Mina readily drew out a katana. Upon nodding to her Guardian Spirit, Saoirse merged itself with Mina's katana, imbuing the wielder and her weapon with a blue aura. Mina's eyes turned bright blue while Saoirse's essence coursed through her body and katana, activating her Living Weapon technique.

"Ready to slay these Kyosuke?!" Mina roared, running head-on with the three Harinobo first.

Following his companion, Kyosuke ran alongside Makami toward the Harinobo.

Swinging her katana at two Harinobo, the blue light imbuing the blade slashed through, vaporizing the two Yokai. Mina then turned her sights toward the Umi-Bozu and rushed to meet the giant blob.

Kyosuke fiercely attacked the third Harinobo. When the Harinobo fired needles from its body, Kyosuke narrowly dodged the sharp projectiles. Beckoning Makami to him, the Guardian Spirit ran to him.

"Let us skewer these Yokai!" Kyosuke declared as Makami's spiritual essence flowed through him. Enhancing him with great power, the man doubled over as a bright orange aura enveloped the man. Makami vanished and seemingly possessed Kyosuke, invoking a transformation. Everyone witnessed the man grow into a 7'5 foot tall demonic humanoid with red flesh skin. Two tusk-like teeth poked out of the sides of his lips. Orange steam-like energy leaked from his a golden stone glowed in its center chest, which then pulsated with light. His eyes burned bright blue. Tufts of black fur covered his head, wrists and forearms. His hand turned black and nails morphed into sharp black claws. Protruding from the crown of the demonic man's head is a pair of long, curved golden horns and a pair of smaller horns.

While Mina evaded gigantic water blasts from the Umi-Bozu, the muscular woman briefly turned over and witnessed her companion unveil his Yokai-like transformation.

"So, you've decided to go all out and use your Yokai Shift, my friend. That certainly increases our chances now!" Mina called out, swinging her katana as she unleashed a powerful water wave at the giant Yokai, whose massive water body absorbed most of Mina's attack. She meticulously eyed the glowing core inside its body, discerning it as its weak point.

Having transformed into his Yokai Shift form, Kyosuke quickly ran through the Harinobo's needles and savagely ripped it to shreds with its bare hands. After slaying the Yokai underling, Kyosuke quickly headed toward Mina and assisted her.

"Thanks, I'm going to need that Yokai strength of yours, Kyosuke!" Mina said, backing away while powering up her katana. When she and Kyosuke rushed the Umi-Bozu, the latter unleashed a powerful force that repelled the Umi-Bozu's water blasts and tore through its watery body.

Following a few devastating blows, the Shiftling exposed Umi-Bozu's core. After being blasted away, Kyosuke beckoned Mina to finish it. Readying her katana, Mina shattered the Yokai's core with a water blast. With its core removed, the Umi-Bozu's body shuddered and melted into a watery puddle.

Taking a few deep breaths, Mina helped Kyosuke up. The orange aura enveloped the man again as he turned to normal. Standing on his own feet, Kyosuke watched Mina turn away.

"That's only just a few of them, Kyosuke. There's more out there, but thankfully our guests from Tokyo are handling them."

"You think they'll make a difference against these Yokai?"

Mina nodded. "I suppose we'll see if they can overcome this ordeal. Three of them have Guardian Spirits, so perhaps they have a chance."

Shitennō-ji ( 四天王寺 )/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/8:40 PM (JST)

At almost the same time Mina and Kyosuke fought Yokai, another Yokai located and attacked Sumire and Akechi. The two quickly evaded getting caught by what appeared to be a large Yokai owl.

As they looked up, a giant black-feathered Yokai owl, born from coalescing vengeful spirits, appeared, opening up its 13-foot long wings. Its head is made of three massive red eyes, each scanning its two adversaries, and a sharp yellow beak. Yellow talons make up its gray scaly feet.

Preparing for battle, Sumire and Akechi transformed into their Metaverse states.

"So, the Yokai ended up finding us after all," Crow muttered, drawing out his swords.

Having drawn out her rapier, Violet rolled away when the giant Yokai owl swooped down to grab her and Crow.

"Are you ok, Violet?!" He called out to the rapier-wielder, who hopped back on her feet.

"I will after we beat this thing!" Violet set her sights on the giant owl.

Suddenly, Nekomata appeared before Violet and Crow. Both genuinely reacted with surprise by the spirit cat's presence.

"A cat?!" Violet cried out.

"But, you don't appear normal. I'm getting a strange spiritual vibe from you," Crow assessed Nekomata's aura.

"How astute of you to notice. Yes, you're both allies of the Phantom Thieves?" Nekomata queried them, as both were immediately taken aback by this.

"You know Joker-senpai and the others?! And you can also talk like Morgana!" Violet asked her.

"Get down!" Nekomata warned as the giant Yokai owl returned to attack them.

Responding to the Yokai's attack, Violet and Crow summoned their respective Personas. Ella swiftly kicked the giant owl back, granting an opening for Hereward to strike the Yokai bird.

"Your Personas are faring well against the Tatarimokke."

"So, you have met Amamiya and his friends since you know about our Personas," Crow confirmed his suspicions.

"Please, tell us where Ren-senpai and the others are!" Violet pleaded.

Before he could answer, they watched Bella and Hereward being blown back by darkness waves coming from Tatarimokke flapping wings. Resolving to defeat the Yokai owl, Crow and Violet invoked their Personas' special abilities.

While rapidly flapping its wings, Tatarimokke unleashed feathered projectiles toward Crow and Violet. Upon performing its ranged attack, Violet and Ella blasted the giant owl with Kougaon. Crow and Hereward quickly followed up and slashed the owl with Laevateinn. Crow and Violet critically dealt a vicious blow, knocking the Yokai owl away. Quickly turning its head 180 degrees, the three-eyed owl fired a bright red beam from its third eye. Ella quickly took the beam head-on. It then summoned an array of dark apparitions, which flooded the area.

"Do not let it overwhelm you, my friends!" Nekomata openly encouraged them, lifting Crow and Violet's prowess.

Lifting his heads up, Crow beckoned Hereward to resist Tatarimokke's dark apparitions. Hereward cast Debilitate to subdue Tatarimokke, dissolving the apparitions in the process. Then, Ella critically damaged the giant owl with Masquerade.

"Finish it, Hereward!" Crow roared as Hereward blasted Tatarimokke with Riot Gun. The powerful blasts ripped through Tatarimokke's feathered body, causing it to explode into a rain of feathery and bloody chunks. The Yokai owl's grisly remains scattered all over the vicinity, but they quickly dissolved into dark purple light and left no trace behind.

After finishing the Yokai owl, Crow and Violet turned to face Nekomata.

The Yokai cat nodded in approval. "Very impressive. You two will make fine assets for the Thieves, the Revenant, and the current Guardian Spirit wielders."

"The Revenant…?" Crow muttered.

"Since you're acquainted with Ren-senpai and his friends, can you tell us where they are now?" Violet queried.

"They're in the middle of a clash with Yokai and Lost," replied the Yokai cat.

"Then that giant owl was a Yokai. Amamiya and the others are likely fighting them as well," Crow asked Nekomata.

"Fear not. After they deal with the Yokai and Lost, you two will see them soon," reassured Nekomata.

Nodding, Violet placed a hand to her chest and sighed. "I hope so."

Crow smiled. "Don't worry, Sumire. We will run into them."

"The young man is correct. In the meantime, you two should consider seeking refuge until you cross paths with the Thieves and their new allies."

"Tell us who these Guardian Spirit wielders and the Revenant are," Crow carefully asked while privy to these new details.

Nekomata chuckled. "Well, look at the time. I must go and assist the Thieves and the Guardian Spirit wielders! I must go!"

"Wait!" Violet called out, but Nekomata quickly vanished. "I was going to ask if they're ok."

"Let's worry about ourselves for now, Sumire. What I'm wondering is who this Revenant is? Likewise, who are these Guardian Spirit wielders? I suppose we'll meet them as well," Crow deduced about the identities of the Phantom Thieves' new allies.

The red-haired young woman smirked. "If they're allies of Ren-senpai, they must be decent people. I can't wait to meet them."

"Come, let us find a place to rest. An interesting road lies ahead for us toward our reunion with the Thieves," Crow said as he ran off into the corner of the night.

"Yes," Violet replied.

Dōtonbori ( 道頓堀 )/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/8:45 PM (JST)

With Brave and Presto providing support, the queen of justice rushed the giant snake's central head. The main snake head expelled poison toward her. Queen quickly sidestepped one spit and barrel-rolled away from another. She timed each spit after assessing its attack pattern. She then coordinated Brave and Presto to attack the other two snake heads.

When Yatsu-no-Kami prepared to slam its body down, Queen beckoned Agnes to collect her. Riding on her Persona, she immediately swerved around and unleashed Freidyne, critically damaging the three-headed Yokai serpent. Just as the snake recovered, Brave invoked her Living Weapon technique, unleashing a tornado-like attack that ripped apart the left smaller head.

Unleashing a slashing water attack, Presto targeted and removed the right smaller head. He and Brave then gave room for Queen to finish the job.

When Queen drove head-on with the now one-headed serpent, Yatsu-no-Kami swung its tail from the earth and almost knocked Queen off, who jumped off and let Agnes to smash Yatsu-no-Kami with Flash Bomb, dealing another damaging blow.

Springing high into the air, Queen then channeled the power of nuclear energy in her right fist. Quickly dropping onto Yatsu-no-Kami, she roared and landed a one-two punch combo, crushing the snake's head with Vajra Blast. Having crushed its head and skull with two impactful blows, she killed the serpent.

When its giant body collapsed, blood spewed from its head and gaping mouth. Queen, Brave, and Presto watched with disgust, but Queen was more so taken aback finding out the cold truth that these creatures are real.

"Justice is served for you, beast," Queen quietly muttered.

As the Yatsu-no-Kami dissipated, it left no trace of its body.

"Nice work, Ryōta," Brave lightly elbowed Presto.

"Heheh, same to you, Mary."

"Hey, you two! Find your friend Yumeko. I'm sure she'll be with the others somewhere," Queen advised, getting back on Agnes.

"And where are you going?" Brave queried.

Revving her motorcycle, Queen fiercely eyed the road ahead of her. "To find that blood-sucking jackass before he does anything stupid." With that, she drove off, leaving Brave and Presto behind.

Osaka ( 大阪市 )/8:56 PM (JST)

Elsewhere in the city, Sion pressed on with his hasty pursuit of the Onmoraki. Hundreds of windows shattered from the flapping from Onmoraki's wings as it flew high over Osaka.

As shards of windows rained on escaping bystanders, a pale-skinned woman with two horns, one longer than the other, long back-length blonde hair, and dressed in revealing white garments, consisting of a short top and a waist-length dress, blasted the debris with Maziodyne. Upon arriving at the site, Joker watched his Persona, Ishtar, zapping the window debris into harmless dust.

Setting his sights on the Onmoraki, Joker fired his pistol at its direction, but his reach was still too far and did little damage to the Yokai bird.

"Joker!" Queen was heard, prompting the Phantom Thief to see the motorcycle rider stopping near him. "Did Sion go this way?"

"He's chasing that Onmoraki!" Joker pointed to the Revenant preparing to attack the Onmoraki.

"Ugh, that idiot. He can't beat that thing alone!" Queen growled, preparing to drive her bike up the wall of an infrastructure.

"Wait, Queen!" Joker yelled out as Onmoraki launched tornados at the trio, first knocking Sion back and then sending more destructive wind power toward Joker and Queen. Joker beckoned Ishtar to absorb the wind attack with Drain Wind, saving him, Queen, and Sion. Having been saved by Joker's Persona, Sion fell on a rooftop.

However, the Yokai bird didn't cease its assault and cast a ray of light. Out from this light, a portal to another world formed, summoning another Yokai to challenge the two Thieves.

"What the hell now?!" Queen exclaimed.

"Queen, go after Sion! He's not going to stop chasing that Onmoraki!" Joker requested, which Queen agreed.

Driving Agnes forward, Queen scaled up a building wall and chased Sion across a series of rooftops.

As Joker faced the portal, his Yokai opponent emerged, which could be described as a 12-foot tall conjoined Yokai, consisting of two and joined at their backs. Both sides of the conjoined demon have angry visages. One half is a vermillion armored Yokai with a dark gray loincloth. Massive light purple horns adorned its cranium. In its right hand, it wielded a sword imbued with fire; likewise, in its left hand is a fire-imbued ax hammer. The other half is a frost blue Yokai with similar clothing and purple horns, but a different set of weapons. In the frost-armored Yokai's hand, it readied a frost arrow on its yellow bow and fired one at its opponent.

Dropping into a battle stance, Joker flashed a grin at the Yokai. "Show me what you've got."

Nekomata briefly appeared, observing Joker's face-off with the Yokai. "Be careful, young Joker. That is a Ryomen Sukuna. It is one Yokai made up of two. The red demon wields the power of fire and the blue half controls the element of ice. Both halves possess their own temperament."

"Thanks for the heads up, Nekomata, but I think I can take him."

Roaring with fury, Ryomen Sukuna dashed ahead to attack Joker. The red half quickly launched a fiery wave, targeting Joker, who narrowly sidestepped the fiery projectile. The fire blast exploded when hitting the arrow, nearly knocking Joker forward.

In response to the Yokai's first move, Joker summoned another Persona, a mighty golden-maned lion with the head of a gray goat on its back, and a green & purple spectacled serpent's tail from its back. The Chimera roared and charged at Ryomen Sukuna, headbutting the conjoined Yokai. The Yokai performed a powerful whirlwind attack with its arms, clubbing the Chimera's face. After getting pummeled, the Chimera distanced itself from the Yokai and watched the Yokai switch to its blue side. When it fired an ice arrow, the Chimera dodged and blasted the blue side with a fiery Maragidyne.

As the fire attack dealt damage to the blue side, the red side took control and struck the beast with its ax hammer. Sensing his Chimera was in trouble, Joker immediately conjured his third Persona.

Preparing to smash Chimera with its hammer, Ryomen Sukuna turned away and witnessed a greater demon than itself. Appearing in front of Joker is a blue-skinned behemoth with a demonic face, three blue armored wings & three thin membrane clear wings on both sides, two blue-skinned arms on opposite sides, three long tails - two skeletal tails and one green organic tail that resembled a dragon's, three sets of female human breasts fully exposed on its chest, and an elongated head crest covered with fin-like extensions.

"Go down!' Joker commanded Satan to attack Ryomen Sukuna. As the Yokai swung its fiery hammer over Satan, the fallen angel froze Ryomen's red side with Diamond Dust. Then, leaving the blue side alone to fight, Satan unleashed Black Viper, quickly obliterating the Yokai. Having slain the Yokai, Joker recalled his three Persona and headed to follow Queen and Sion's direction.

Catching up to the Onmoraki, Sion hopped a great distance over parts of a tall building. He reached out grabbing the back of its tail feathers and hopped on the Onmoraki's back. The Yokai bird screeched and shook its whole body to pry the Revenant off. Flying high into the air, it went through some clouds, but Sion firmly held onto the Yokai bird.

Piercing and slashing it with his Queenslayer Blade, Sion ravaged the Onmoraki's back a few times. As a result, the Onmoraki tried shaking him off as it dove into the city. Seeing a chance to rid itself of the Revenant pest, the Yokai bird crashed through part of some infrastructure before crashing down.

Sion recovered from his fall, but the Onmoraki didn't give him time to react. Seizing Sion's left arm with its beak, it tossed Sion around while tearing off his arm and furiously throwing him off. While he did feel immense pain from having his arm ripped off, he didn't scream. As far as Sion was concerned, this related injury has happened to him before.

Landing safely on the ground, Sion eyed the blood pouring from his wound. He waited a moment and willfully regenerated a new left arm, which was the result of the BOR Parasite's influence inside his body. He then invoked his Cleansing Light Gift, absorbing the damage he took to heal himself.

As he picked up his Queenslayer Blade, the Revenant saw a chunk of debris from a damaged building about to fall on top of a few civilians and children. Quickly heading over, he managed to obliterate the debris with a Frenzied Fire, saving the innocent people.

"Go! Now!" Sion ordered the civilians away, who complied with the Revenant and fled from the area.

Then, upon arriving, Queen witnessed with her own eyes Sion's selfless act saving civilians. She meditated over Sion's recent actions, assuming he was as dangerous as the Yokai and Lost, but hearing Hifumi's good words about him and now this heroic act, she had second thoughts about the Revenant.

A smile formed on Queen's face. "You're really no different from us, Phantom Thieves, aren't you?"

Suddenly, Onmoraki landed on the ground with a thunderous crash. As it raised its body, it roared a horrific elephant-like screech.

"Queen, Sion!" Joker called out as he arrived to see the Onmoraki rising over them.

"I'm glad you're here, Joker," Queen said, watching Sion reconvene with them. Getting off Agnes, she got into a battle stance. "What now?"

"You think you're ready for this?" Sion asked the two Thieves, charging up his Queenslayer Blade and Hanemukuro with blue electricity.

"You'd dare ask me that?" Calmly answered Queen, refusing to let Sion get under her skin.

"Ok, enough of the lover's quarrel between you two," sarcastically remarked Joker, readying his dagger and standing between his two teammates.

Charging directly, the Onmoraki slammed into its three opponents. As they evaded the Yokai bird, it attacked Queen with a peck. Queen pushed its beak before delivering a few punches to the Onmoraki's face. The Onmoraki responded by spewing poison breath at Queen, blinding and poisoning her before smacking her down with its wing. Coming to the defense of his harshest detractor, Sion activated his Ogre-Type Blood Veil, shoving his armored claw into the Yokai bird and slashing it.

Rising to her feet, Queen coughed from the poisons circulating inside her body. If she didn't act fast, she'd keel over and die. She used Amrita Shower to cure herself of the poisons.

Joker slid under the Onmoraki and fired multiple rounds into its belly, causing it to cry in pain. Attempting to fly away, Joker summoned Satan again, utilizing its Black Viper to constrict the Yokai bird's neck, squeezing it hard. The Yokai bird struggled to break loose from Satan's grip.

"It's over," Sion scowled, charging red energy through his Ogre claw. As he amassed enough power in his claw, the Revenant launched a large crimson sphere that collided with the Yokai bird.

As it screeched loudly, the greater energy enveloped the Onmoraki, disintegrating it down from its sinew muscles, veins, and right down to its bones, including exposing its eye sockets. When it was said and done, there was nothing but ashes.

When the smoke cleared, there was no trace left of the Onmoraki. The three heroes stared at the remains as even the ashes vanished.

"We did it," Joker muttered.

Queen frowned and faced Sion. "Sion, listen…"

Sion sighed. "What now, Mako-kins?"

Queen scoffed. "Please, do not call me that! Look, I'm sorry. All those horrible things I said and my behavior… it was inexcusable."

The Revenant turned and nodded. "Maybe now we can start off fresh."

"Yeah, maybe."

"Sion!" Tennyo's voice called out, quickly garnering the Revenant's attention from Queen.

"Hifumi?!" Sion saw Tennyo, the other Thieves, and the gamblers running over to meet them. Before he can say anything else, Tennyo tackled him into a hug. "Hey, watch it! I just recovered from a fight."

"I'm glad you're ok, Sion."

Smiling and patting the back of Tennyo's head, Sion genuinely replied. "Likewise."

"Hey, we better get out of here! The police are going to be here any minute! Let's all meet somewhere together!" Mona warned the group, causing everyone to split up and meet at their next designated location.

9:45 PM (JST)

Following the aftermath of the Yokai & Lost skirmish, Mina and Kyosuke keenly assessed the Thieves and their allies from a distance. Needless to say, they were immensely awestruck with their victory against the Onmoraki.

"Thoughts, Kyosuke? Are you impressed?" Mina turned to her Yokai Shifter colleague.

With a straight-faced look, Kyosuke answered. "These new Guardian Spirit wielders are ripe with potential. They may in fact surpass their predecessors."

"They're good, but it's absolutely wild to see the Phantom Thieves again. However, that one man with the demon hand is a wild card," the muscle woman assessed Sion's Blood Veils and use of Gifts. Chewing and spitting out a piece of straw, she sneakily grinned. "Now, I'm excited to meet our new allies!"

Just then, Nekomata appeared in front of Mina and Kyosuke.

"Then, shall we arrange a meeting with them?" The Yokai cat suggested.

Kyosuke turned to Mina. "It's your call. Where do you want to meet them?"

After giving some thought, Mina considered. "How about Sankō Shrine?"

Nodding, Nekomata replied. "That can be arranged."

Lifting her right hand, Mina clenched and pumped her fist up. "I can't wait!"
 

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Chapter VIII: Memory Echoes
Kushikatsu Shirotaya/Osaka (
大阪市 )/9:45 PM (JST)

Sometime after the Phantom Thieves and their allies cleaned up the Yokai and Lost outbreak, they reconvened at a local restaurant far away from the incidents. Having returned to their civilian disguises, they gathered at a round table.
A television inside the restaurant had the news reporting on the Yokai and Lost incidents near the local areas.
"Thus far, no reported casualties or civilian injuries, but there has been collateral damage to infrastructures. These monsters, similar to the ones that disrupted the Summer Olympics, were quickly dealt with by the Phantom Thieves. And according to eyewitnesses, there are new faces with the Thieves. Could they possibly be new members of these legendary vigilantes?" An anchorwoman reported on tonight's events.
"Did you hear that? We managed to stop those monsters with no human casualties," Haru relayed the news to her friends.
"Thank goodness for that," Makoto sighed with relief.
"Hell yeah! That's how we take care of business!" Ryuji boasted.
"You guys aren't going to believe this, but look at the Phan-Site. The forums have been lighting up since the monsters attacked the Olympics!" Futaba informed the Thieves as they pulled out their smartphones.
"You're right! Look at all the comments!" Ann was flabbergasted, shifting her finger across her screen while scanning the new posts and comments.
"I wonder if Mishima is still running the site?" Ryuji turned to Ren, who shrugged.
"I guess so," Ren replied.
"Ooh, this poster named Kamen-Rider-Stranger is some unknown Indonesian writer that thinks we did a great job. He's also a fan of Kamen Rider and Monster Hunter!" Futaba scanned the newest post.
"There's another one by a reporter named Mystic-Phantoms. He's also a translator for another website and is a fan of ours," Makoto informed them of another new post.
"This Mystic person appears to be helping with the Phan-Site forums," Haru added.
"Maybe he's helping Mishima out?" Ryuji asked Ren.
"I doubt it. Mishima seemed like the kind of guy who'd work on the site alone."
"By the way, did you hear the reporter mention new members? Are we new members?" Yumeko asked the Thieves.
"Unofficially, I'd say," Ren stated.
"That's good enough for me," Mary smiled ever so proudly.
Two waiters arrived, putting plates out full of Kushikatsu's refined Osakan signature dishes, consisting of deep-fried skewered meat like chicken, and vegetables. Some members hungrily stared over the exquisite food served right in front of them. They all raised their drinks, half of them drinking water and others drinking beer.
"Wow! I never tasted Kushikatsu before, but eating it is really good!" Futaba happily chowed down her food.
"See? I told ya it's good! Kushikatsu is the best!" Ryuji grinned while chowing down on some chicken.
"And, let us celebrate for preventing casualties and having these four as part of the Phantom Thief family," Yusuke said as he and the other Thieves glanced over to Sion, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta.
"Thank you for having us with you!" Yumeko giggled, lifting a glass of water. "And cheers to Sion!"
"CHEERS FOR SION!" The Phantom Thieves, Hifumi, Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta happily declared while raising their glasses for the Revenant.
Astounded by his new companion's generosity, he smiled. Although he lost contact with his Revenant companions, he was beginning to feel at home being around these humans.
"Don't get too overwhelmed, Sion," Makoto reassured, smiling at him. "It's a tradition from our early days. When we've recruited new members, we have food celebrations. I was one of them."
"That's interesting to know," Sion replied, realizing the hostility they had for each other was no longer there. It was not long ago that same evening when she threatened to murder him.
Clapping her hands, Hifumi expressed. "And am I glad to see everyone here getting along, especially after what happened tonight."
"I know, and I'm sorry for that," Makoto apologetically said.
"You're forgiven," Sion remarked as he picked up and sniffed some darkened brown meat on a stick. The meat's cooked scent filled his nostrils, arousing his curiosity. "So, what kind of food is this? I've never had this where I'm from."
"It's beef," Hifumi answered. "It does look delicate. Go ahead and try it if you wish."
Nodding, Sion bit into it and chewed the beef. As he swallowed, he blinked and crunched more bits in his mouth. "Mmm, not bad?"
"Heh, I think he likes it," Ryuji grinned.
"Does our vampy have other tastes besides blood?" Futaba sneakily smirked.
"He likes pizza," Hifumi openly confessed.
"Well, then we should order pizza sometime while we're still here!" Ann suggested.
Biting into some vegetables, Makoto watched Sion openly converse with the others.
"He isn't too bad after all, Mako-chan. He's going to make a great asset for our team," Haru said, softly smiling from ear to ear.
"I'm starting to believe it," Makoto added, having resigned to accepting the Revenant into their fold.
"Say, would you guys like to see a photo of my high school classmates? Mary and Ryōta are even in it!" Yumeko announced, taking out her smartphone.
"Whoa, hold on! Who told you to show off any photo with me in it?!" Mary exclaimed, quickly trying to pry the smartphone away from the Compulsive Gambler's grasp, but it came to no avail.
Yumeko managed to push Mary's face and showed the high school group photo from Hyakkaou Private Academy. The photo showed Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta together. It also showed photographs of other Hyakkaou students.
"These two with the silver white hair are the Momobami twins. The one with the mask is Ririka and the other maskless one is Kirari. Kirari was our former student council president," Ryōta specified for the Thieves, Hifumi, and Sion.
"Yes, and the girl with the long dark hair is Igarashi Sayaka. Hmm, I think she was Kirari's assistant if I recall correctly," Yumeko said.
"Yeah, she had it out for you for getting too close to Kirari," Mary added. "Anyway, the squirt with the orange rabbit Kigurumi and the lollipop is Yomozuki Runa. Over here the youthful guy with the white hair is Manyuda Kaede."
"What the hell happened to give him white hair?! Ya sure he's your age?!" Ryuji balked at Kaede's seemingly 'aged' appearance.
Mary shifted her eyes toward Yumeko. "Why don't you ask her? She made him that way."
Blinking thrice, Yumeko innocently replied. "Whatever do you mean, Mary? Do you imply that I gave him white hair?"
Ann nervously chuckled. "Oook, so anyway… who's the idol-looking girl?"
Yumeko answered. "That would be Yumemite Yumemi!"
"Whoa, the Yumemite Yumemi?!"
"Who is she, Ann?" Ren asked her.
"She was an upcoming idol star, who gained popularity from her time at Hyakkaou Private Academy. I kinda dig her music," Ann beamed.
"Over here we have Ikishima Midari," Mary pointed to a crazed-looking young woman with a white medical patch covering her left eye.
"Who is that again?" Yumeko asked Mary.
"Midari…"
"Who?" Yumeko asked again, darkening her tone, sending unsettling vibes to most of the other Phantom Thieves.
"Never mind," sighed Mary.
"I'm just kidding! I do remember her now!" ironically laughed the Compulsive Gambler.
"Over here is Nishinotōin Yuriko," Ryōta pointed to a young woman garbed in a white and red kimono, and her both eyes are notably closed.
"Is she blind?" Makoto asked the gamblers.
"Nah, she just keeps her eyes closed like that for no reason," Mary answered.
"And this is one of our friends, Sumeragi Itsuki!" Yumeko pointed to a girl with short orange hair. "But, that's not all. Over here is the entire Mombami Clan!" She presented them to a group of eleven students in similar red and black blazers and uniforms. "The girl in the wheelchair is Totobami Terano."
"She's a rival to Kirari," Mary said. "The flaky-looking girl with the brown skin and blonde hair is Terano's sister, Totobami Yumi."
"The little girl dressed as a Gothic Lolita is Mushibami Erimi," Ryōta said. "The tall girl with long hair is Inbami Miyo. The shorter girl next to her is Yobami Miri."
"And this creepy-looking girl is Warakubami Sumika! Don't let her look here fool you. She's a beautiful idol singer!" Yumeko said.
"I can't believe that's really Sumika," Haru was aghast. "I mean, wow, what a way to cover up your identity."
"She reminds me of those Japanese horror ghosts with the stringy black hair and the creepy vibes," Futaba pointed out.
"The girl with the St. Bernard is Kombabami Nozomi," Mary pointed to a girl with two low pigtails.
"The tall girl with the black gloves and light gray hair is Honebami Miroslava," Ryōta added. "The guy with the messy spiky hair is Obami Ibara. The kinder-looking guy with the short dark hair is Obami Rin."
"And last but not least, the beautiful-looking woman here with the short light brown hair is Batsubami Rei! She was one of many I had the pleasure to gamble with!" Yumeko pointed to the beautiful, androgynous-looking woman with a bright smile.
"Wow, an exquisite beauty she is," Yusuke said, admiring Rei's appearance.
"Heheh, of course, you'd say that, Inari," Futaba chuckled.
"That's a nice group of friends, you three have," Ann commented.
Mary shrugged. "I wouldn't exactly call them all friends or anything. Some are rivals."
"Did you play against all of these people, Yumeko?" Hifumi asked the Compulsive Gambler.
"Yes, most of them! I had so much fun gambling with the best of them!" Yumeko boasted, not even regretting nearly destroying the livelihoods of a few of these aforementioned students.
Hifumi modestly smiled. "I do not think I have the resolve to challenge any of these former classmates, nor would I want to risk my yen to do so."
"That's fine, Hifumi. You don't need to risk anything," Yumeko reassured her. "But, I'm not afraid of risk-taking."
Mary sardonically muttered. "Yeah, tell me about it."
"So, now that we've shown you people we knew from our school, why don't you tell us about yourselves, Phantom Thieves," Yumeko whispered, clasping her fingers together. Her red eyes staring straight into the Thieves' way. "What was life like growing up for you all?"
Ryuji shuddered. "Eh, so who wants to start?"
Sion nodded. "I'm interested to learn more about your friends, Hifumi."
Turning toward the Thieves, Hifumi took a deep breath. "I suppose there's no way out of this."
Poking his head out, Morgana encouraged the group. "Go ahead since we're all on the same page."
"Before you do explain your stories, why don't you show us through a Memory Echo?" Sion openly suggested, his terminology confused the Thieves and the Gamblers.
"A Memory-what?" Ann blinked.
"What's that?" Ryōta asked the Revenant.
"It's another space where I'm able to view your vestige," Sion said.
"And a vestige is what exactly?" Ryuji queried.
"It's like a piece of your memory. I'm able to look into your past, but I've only used this with other Revenants. I've never done so with humans. So, I'm not sure if it can work." As he said this, Hifumi patted his shoulders.
"You can go ahead and try. We have our permission to look into our memories," Hifumi consented.
"Wait, our? Hold on a second!" Makoto tried to speak out, but Sion closed his eyes as the entire restaurant space fizzled out, changing into an endless space resembling a cathedral maze. The Memory Echo had an ethereal and haunting atmosphere, contrasting the harsh conditions that Mementos exhibited. She and the others found themselves completely removed from the Osakan restaurant as if they've been placed in another realm.
"Whoa!" Mary exclaimed, hearing her voice echoing.
"Holy shit, what is this place?!" Ryuji freaked out, almost jumping out of his seat.
"This place looks like something straight out of an anime Dark Souls," Futaba meticulously scanned their new and unknown surroundings.
"It's kinda spooky," Haru commented, shivering while leaning close to Makoto.
"It's going to be ok," Makoto calmly assured Haru.
"Are we still not in the restaurant?" Yusuke asked, scanning their new surroundings.
"It's ok, everyone. We're still in the restaurant as far as everyone else is concerned," Sion reassured them. "I've united our minds together so we can share each other's memories." Taking a deep breath, Sion smiled. "Is this what you wanted, Yumeko?"
"I wasn't expecting this, but sure. Whatever works!" Yumeko nodded.
"We're all here to listen. Tell us how you first formed," Hifumi said.
"Who wants to go first?" Morgana glanced over to each Phantom Thief.
"It's only right if I go first," Ren volunteered, calmly grinning.
"You guys are in for a long story," Mona said.
As Ren spoke, a still image visual depicting his first arrival at Yongen-Jaya is shown for everyone.
"It all started four years ago when I was at my home town around nightfall that I heard noises from two people. I saw a drunken man sexually harassing a woman." Ren explained the beginning of the story. "Refusing to let this abuse stand, I punched that man to save that woman. But, I learned that the drunkard was a well-known politician. His name was Masayoshi Shido, and he framed me. As a result, I was put on a year's probation and was expelled from my old school."
"You mean, this is that Shido who ruined your life?" Hifumi asked, taken aback toward Ren's troubled situation with an infamous figure on the news.
"Yeah. I had to move to Shibuya to start my one year probation at Shujin Academy, the only high school that would accept me despite my criminal record. On that first day, I stayed with Sakura Sojiro at LeBlanc. I had to sleep in a bedroom in the attic. It sucked at first, but I made it my place." Ren explained to Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers. "While I was asleep, I had a dream meeting a figure named Igor, alongside his two assistants: Justine & Caroline. Igor talked to me deeply about my destiny and rehabilitation."
"So, becoming a vigilante was your destiny?" Sion asked.
"More or less. On my way to the first day of school, and waiting for the rain to stop, I met and was smitten by a blonde-haired girl, Takamaki Ann." Ren smiled at his now girlfriend sitting next to him. A new visual showed Ren meeting Ann on that fateful raining day.
"Hehehe. I think when I smiled at him, I felt we were destined for great things," Ann lightly chuckled and blushed, recalling she once took out a petal from Ren's hair while waiting in the rain. Then, her mood shifted to a bit gloomy. "And that's when I remembered I left to hitch a ride with Kamoshida." Just the mere mention of that name soured Ren, Ann, and Ryuji's moods.
Sensing a dire vibe from the three, Hifumi cautiously queried. "Do you mean that gym teacher on the news who openly admitted to being a sexual predator?"
"Yeah! I'll never forget that bastard's shit grinning face!" Ryuji harshly interjected. The next visual displayed a past sequence of Ren and Ryuji entering Shadow Kamoshida's Palace. "Anywho, I first met my buddy at Shujin. On his first day, we were heading out for school. Then all of a sudden, we were in some castle realm and got caught. Then, we met this Shadow that looked like that bastard Kamoshida." He turned over to Ren and smiled. "That's where my bud here unlocked his Persona and helped us escape."
The visual immediately showed Ren summoning Arsène. A veil of blue fire enveloped Ren, turning him into Joker. Then, another scene displayed Ren and Ryuji breaking Mona loose from his cell.
Ryuji added with a grin. "Then, we met this cat here!"
Grumbling with irritation, Morgana retorted. "Hey, I'm not a cat, monkey!" He then addressed Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers politely. "Sorry about that. Anyway, I joined them out of gratitude and helped show them the ropes about thievery, the laws of the Metaverse, and dealing with enemy Shadows, either by fighting or negotiating with them to join as Personas. I also depended on them to find out about my existence."
"What are these Shadows?" Yumeko asked.
"They're otherly worldly entities in the Metaverse based on many mythological and religious figures," the cat clarified. "The realms we often infiltrated are called Palaces. These Palaces are formed by the distorted desires of corrupted figures' hearts." As he said this, a visual of Shadow Kamoshida's Palace appeared.
"This is quite interesting. Unlocking these powers brought some untapped potential out of you," Sion addressed the Thieves.
"Yeah. As we pressed forth, we explored more of Kamoshida both within his realm and the real world. Soon after, Ryuji even unlocked his Persona," Ren stated as the next screen showed Ryuji becoming a Phantom Thief with Captain Kidd behind him.
"Yeah, now that takes me back! I sure kicked ass!" Ryuji enthusiastically grinned, recalling his finest moment.
"Then, that's when I got involved in the mix. After what Kamoshida did to my friend Shiho, who attempted to commit suicide back then," Ann gnashed her teeth, seething from the past moments. A visual showed Ann tending a Shiho being stretchered into an ambulance and another showing Ann's awakening into Panther while summoning Carmen. "I'll never forget that day. Not only was it one of the darkest days of my life, but that anger allowed me to release my Persona to help my friends and avenge Shiho. Thank god she's ok."
"It was then we called ourselves The Phantom Thieves of Hearts," Morgana explained. "Even though we hated him, if not for Kamoshida, we wouldn't have met and become the founding members. To get the suspects to commit their sins, we have to steal their Treasure, which is the core of their hearts' desires. After securing the Treasure, we send a Calling Card to alert them. That's when we fought our first target."
White light poured out of a wall from Ren, Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana's vestiges, revealing a cinematic sequence of their encounters with Shadow Kamoshida.
Kamoshida's Palace (The Castle of Lust)/Flashback
Standing on the opposite side of the Throne Room, Shadow Kamoshida, with Cognitive Ann by his side, facing the Founding Phantom Thieves: Joker, Skull, Panther, and Mona.
Shadow Kamoshida arrogantly boasted.
"Drop the attitude, you mediocre peasant! There's no wrong in using my gifts for my gain!" A sneer formed on his face. "I'm a cut above all other humans!"
"Above…? You mean beneath. You're a goddamn demon obsessed with your sick desires!" Panther angrily yelled.
The Memory Echo showed the next sequence: Shadow Kamoshida transforming into his demon form Asmodeus. The Thieves summoned their Personas to fight their first major opposition. Arsène appeared next to Joker. Carmen appeared next to Panther. Captain Kidd formed behind Skull. Mona summoned Zorro. During the heated battle, Shadow Kamoshida summoned Cognitive Mishima and much to Panther's horror a Cognitive Shiho. After an intense battle, up to Mona eventually stealing Shadow Kamoshida's crown, the Phantom Thieves defeated the grotesque king.
Cornered with his Treasure, Shadow Kamoshida was scared out of his wits. He cowered like a cowardly rat bastard he was. An incensed Panther amassed fireballs from her Persona.

"I bet everyone told you the same," Panther snarled. "But you… YOU TOOK EVERYTHING FROM THEM!"
A fireball is about to hit Shadow Kamoshida, but it only hit the side of a wall. As much as Panther wanted to kill the sick gymnastic freak show that ruined her life and what he did to Shiho, she opted to spare him so he can confess his crimes. In her view, this would be an effective way to defeat him. Shadow Kamoshida eventually gave his Treasure to the Phantom Thieves. With that, his Shadow returned to his real self.
Memory Echo/Present

"After we dealt with Kamoshitda, we decided to continue the Phantom Thieves gig to change the hearts of more rotten adults," Ryuji mentioned their goal.
"Our next target was Madarame Ichiryusai, and that is when I was involved," Yusuke interjected.
"Yes, I do remember Madarame. I was shocked when I found out he plagiarized artwork from his own students," Hifumi stated.
"It was indeed reprehensible." Yusuke agreed with his former classmate. "I was shocked to learn about my former sensei's true self." The Memory Echo displayed Yusuke's memories, showing a visual of Yusuke's first interactions with Ren's group and finding the Sayuri painting stashed away. " That's when I unlocked my Persona and assisted my new friends. I also recalled the painting of my mother's memory."
Another white light flashed throughout the Memory Echo, revealing Yusuke's vestige, which showed their battles with Shadow Madarame.
Madarame's Palace (The Museum of Vanity)/Flashback
The Phantom Thieves alongside Fox faced off against the Shadow of Madarame Ichiryusai.

"You aren't some rotten artist…! You're a despicable fiend who wears the skin of an artist!" Fox declared, severing his ties from the Shadow of his foster father. His Persona, Goemon, materialized for Fox to avenge his mother.
In a second encounter, the Thieves engaged Shadow Madarame's demon form, Azazel, in a heated artistic battle. In an artistic twist, Shadow Madarame summoned four multi-colored clones of himself to contend with the Phantom Thieves. The clones each utilized different elements; the red one used fire magic, the blue one used ice magic, the green clone used wind power, and the yellow clone used lightning magic.
Eventually, the Thieves defeated the corrupted artist's Shadow and his clones. They also claimed his Treasure, the real painting of Sayuri.
As Madarame's Palace crumbled, the defeated Palace ruler pleaded.

"Hey, Yusuke. What should I do?"
"...Put an end to all this and use your own artwork for once," Fox sternly answered while holding the Saiyuri portrait.
As Fox departed the Palace, Shadow Madarame cried out pleading.

"No, wait! Please! Yusuke! Yusukeee!"
Memory Echo/Present

"My turn, huh? Well, during that time, I was originally spying on Ren's group to confirm if they were the Phantom Thieves. Let's just say we had a bad start," Makoto regrettably admitted.
"So you were originally not a valuable ally at first?" Hifumi tried to make sense of Makoto's side.
"Yes, I admit it. I thought I would have been useful, despite being used by the school's principal. On top of that, I blackmailed them into finding a link to the mafia's leader, Kaneshiro Junya," Makoto plainly stated. "However I acted recklessly, and then I awakened my Persona to redeem myself for my friends." A visual behind her showed Makoto spying on the Thieves, being captured by Kaneshiro's cronies and being talked down to by Shadow Kaneshiro.
"I get it now. I'm starting to understand you better," Sion said.
"I appreciate that," Makoto replied to the Revenant. "Any way about Kaneshiro-"
"Oooooh, I wanna gamble with him!" Yumeko interrupted, anxiously smiling as she fiddled with her fingers.
"Seriously? Now isn't the time for that!" Mary chastised the Compulsive Gambler.
"Knock it off," Makoto scolded Yumeko, who pouted. Before she continued, a visual showed Makoto liberating herself from her chains of restraint, allowing her to become Queen. Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers marveled at Queen riding her motorcycle Persona Johanna. "Anyway, we explored his Palace based on how he viewed money while blackmailing, and we put a stop to his nefarious deeds."
Another white light flashed throughout the room, unveiling Makoto's vestige leading to her battle against Shadow Kaneshiro.
Kaneshiro's Palace (The Bank of Gluttony)/Flashback
Now with Queen by their side, the Thieves confronted the Shadow of Kaneshiro Junya near his vault.
As Shadow Kaneshiro transformed into the humanoid fly form Baal, he quickly controlled his giant Piggytron machine to flatten his enemies.

"Gyahahahahaha! Yeh ready to die?! It ain't a pig, yo! This is my Palace's swine-model defensive mechanoid, Piggytron!"
The fight continued. Queen rode Johanna while gracefully evading Piggytron's bullet barrage. After dealing with the Piggytron, the Thieves fought off Shadow Kaneshiro's two fly guards. After defeating his guards, the vigilantes defeated the crude crime lord. Queen fulfilled her revenge.
Memory Echo/Present

"With all these heists that happened, this grabbed more than the attention of the public. The police finally started to take notice," Morgana stated.
"Feh, yeah, and who could forget that pain in the ass junior detective Akechi Goro. He went against us," Ryuji recalled the aforementioned.
Recalling seeing Akechi on the news and talk shows, Hifumi mulled silently.
"I remember that guy. He was all over the news, but later he vanished," Ryōta pointed out.
"That's the weird part. No one knows how or why he vanished," Mary said.
"Don't worry. You haven't heard the last of him based on our encounters," Ren said.
"Wow, what can I say? It's my turn then," Futaba spoke up, almost hesitant to shed light on her tragic past. With some encouragement from her friends, she sighed. "Right, it was summer vacation when the Medjed incident happened. You see, before I joined the Thieves, I lived locked away as a shut-in. Can't say it didn't have its advantages, because I got to hide my face from the rest of the world. So, during that summer, I contacted the Phantom Thieves requesting to steal my own heart." As she described this, a vivid image of herself sitting locked inside her room was shown to everyone and another of her meeting the Phantom Thieves.
"Then, you were their fourth target?" Sion asked her.
'Yeah, you see it was complicated at first. I'm Sojiro's adopted daughter, and I recall the day my mother died from a murder incident," Futaba went on as a visual showed her mother throwing herself into traffic in a fit of maternal psychosis. Seeing this horrifying image caused the girl to fold her arms around her legs. "Her co-workers blamed me. I was called a curse. So, I became a hikikomori, shutting myself in a tomb of guilt." Another visual displayed her encased in an Egyptian tomb. Then, Shadow Futaba emerged from the tomb, golden eyes glowing with life. "That's when my new friends arrived in my Palace, fought the Cognition of my mother, even allowing me to step in to help."
Another white light enveloped the Memory Echo, revealing Futaba's battle with her mother's Cognition.
Futaba's Palace (The Pyramid of Wrath)/Flashback
At the summit of the pyramid, the Phantom Thieves endured a difficult battle against the giant Cognition of Isshiki Wakaba, who has the body of a Sphinx and the head of the woman. Attempting their ranged weapons, the Thieves' efforts to bring down the enraged beast fell short. Mona was at a loss of what to do.
That is until Futaba entered her own Palace, and after interacting with her Shadow self she came to terms with her depression and anxiety. The revelation of the suicide note helped resolve Futaba's insecurities, allowing her Persona to awaken.
Futaba's Shadow then transformed into the Persona, Necronomicon. Overcome with the desire to help her friends, Futaba became Oracle and piloted her new Persona.

"This is my heart's world, right? Hacking into my distortion should be no problem for me!" Oracle announced, tapping into a console inside the cockpit of her Persona.
Quickly turning the tide of the battle, Oracle conjured a ballista, allowing the Phantom Thieves to bring down the Cognitive Wakaba. The Thieves then delivered a melee beatdown and decisively stopped the beast. After this, the real spirit of Futaba's mother appeared before her daughter, bidding a heartfelt farewell.

"Um, I… I love you, mom…" Oracle muttered, letting out her deepest and genuine feelings.
"I love you too, Futaba." Wakaba smiled. "Now, you should get going."
With that said, Wakaba's spirit disappeared into the afterlife.
Memory Echo/Present

"And with that, I became the Phantom Thieves' hacker! A pretty cool trade if I do say so!" Futaba smiled.
Suddenly, Morgana audibly grumbled knowing what was to come next. It was an incident marred by his self-loathing and arrogance.
"What's the matter, Morgana?" Hifumi asked.
After a brief moment of silence, Morgana answered Hifumi. "Well, I didn't take too well to Futaba's role in the team and I lashed out on the group's popularity terms. Then, I got into a fight with Ryuji, causing me to leave the team."
"Yeah, I remember that," Ryuji groaned about the incident.
"This is when I got involved with their next case and I became their next member," Haru spoke up. "Upon meeting Morgana, I became a Phantom Thief in an attempt to look into my father's Palace." The Memory Echo visually presented still images of Haru meeting Morgana, becoming the beauty Thief Noir, and meeting the Phantom Thieves.
"You mean Okumura Kunikazu?" Hifumi asked Haru, remembering the Okumura Foods figurehead, who ultimately became the Thieves' fifth target.
"Yes," Haru nodded. "I wanted to change my father's heart because he lost sight of his mistreatment of his workers. He also wanted to escape from a potentially unhealthy marriage. Because of my kindness, I had Morgana and my new friends help me reconcile and steal my father's Treasure while stealing his heart."
Another white flash of light enveloped the entire room, displaying a cinematic scene of Noir leading the Phantom Thieves toward a showdown with Shadow Okumura.
Okumura's Palace (The Space Station of Greed)/Flashback
Arriving inside the UFO, the Phantom Thieves, along with their newest recruit Noir, confronted the Shadow of Okumura Kunikazu, known as Mammon. Upon trapping them, Noir and Morgana escaped his trap. Mona saved the day and redeemed himself for his fathers, slingshotting the remote from Shadow Okumura's hand.

"Whoa, it hit! Way to go, me!" Mona cried out.
Using the remote, Morgans saved his friends.

"Wowza! You're so cool, Mona!" Oracle happily exclaimed while patting Mona's back head.
"Yeah, you stole the show, man!" Skull lightly smacked the cat with a grin.
With thirty minutes to spare, the Phantom Thieves fended off Shadow Okumura's robot drones. As if the drones weren't enough, Shadow Okumura summoned a Cognitive Haru robot, which undoubtedly dismayed Noir. With the aid of her Persona, Milady, Noir, and the Thieves engaged the most powerful entity from Shadow Okumura's rankings: a large black drone. After enduring the executive drone and even the Cognitive Haru robot, the Thieves destroyed it following some difficulty and stopped Shadow Okumura on time.

"In the end, I am just one more in a lineage of failures…" Shadow Okumura regretfully muttered as he sat in defeat. "This may be the end of Okumura Foods… Forgive me, Haru…"
"Father…" Noir sadly muttered.
Memory Echo/Present

"We thought everything was supposed to be fine. We even celebrated at Tokyo Disneyland," Haru recalled. "But, during my father's confession on a live broadcast, he suddenly collapsed with black ooze seeping from his eyes and mouth. Just like that, he died. I took it especially hard." Her face contorted with anguish, prompting Makoto to comfort her.
"I'm sorry," Sion shut his eyes.
"Yes, likewise," Yumeko conveyed sadness, showing a side that her friends aren't usually used to seeing.
Hifumi recalled on live television, which horrified her as well.
Ren went on. "Following Okumura's passing, the media linked the mental shutdowns of previous victims with people whose hearts we've changed. The public turned against us. Things went completely sour for us." The Memory Echo displayed still images of the public's diminishing support for the Thieves. Then, the faces of a young man in a dress suit and a woman with long hair appeared. "That's when the junior detective, Akechi Goro, approached us and figured out our identities."
"And we figured him out when he gave away pancakes as a clue," Ryuji said.
Makoto nodded. "Akechi wanted to join us and venture into my sister's Palace." She pointed to the light gray-haired woman. "That woman you see is my sister Niijima Sae, a public prosecutor for the Tokyo District Special Investigation Department. We went through a great ordeal to neutralize her Shadow and free my sister's way of justice."
Another white veil of light enveloped the room, revealing Akechi briefly joining the Phantom Thieves and later encountering Shadow Sae.
Niijima's Palace (The Casino of Envy)/Flashback
Accompanied by their newest ally, Akechi Goro/Crow and his Persona as Robin Hood, the Phantom Thieves ventured into Niijima Sae's Palace, which is a grand casino based on hedonistic envy. After a long exploration and playing incredibly difficult games to the point they exploited the Palace ruler's cheating strategies, they planned to wait the day to send the Calling Card with the right timing.
And it ultimately paid off, leading to the Thieves and Crow to face Shadow Sae in a game of casino roulette.

"Let's play this fair and square!" Shadow Sae goaded her enemies.
In the first round, the Thieves played the roulette wheel, which spun in favor of Shadow Sae. However, the Thieves managed to figure out the Shadow's cheating strategies. Furious over being exposed, Shadow Sae transformed into the demonic knight form of Leviathan.

"Cheating?! Unfair?! SILENCE! This is MY world!" Shadow Sae roared at her enemies through her ghastly helmet.
"This… is my sister's true nature?! No…" Queen fearfully muttered.
The second round went off with an intense start.
Amid the battle, Joker summoned a large purple dragon with wings and spines aligned across its back. Spines also made up parts of its face, limbs, and tail. Seth's small yellow eyes faced Shadow Sae and blasted her with
Agidyne . Then, by Joker's beckoning, he, the Thieves, and even Akechi joined together, unleashing an All-Out Attack to overwhelm Shadow Sae.
After a hard battle, the Thieves subdued Sae's raging Shadow. Collapsing to her knees, Shadow Sae's Leviathan form dissolved, returning her to her standard Shadow form.

"Makoto…?" Shadow Sae muttered to her.
"I don't think it's wrong to bring light to evils which can't be judged by the law. That's all the Phantom Thieves have been trying to do too," Queen reassured her sister's Shadow.
After consoling the Shadow, the Palace's guards pursued the Thieves. Joker took the offer and distracted the Shadows while his teammates escaped safely.
After an established chase, Amamiya Ren was ultimately captured by the police and brought forth to Sae's interrogation.
Memory Echo/Present

"Now I understand. I remembered I contacted you on the phone to see if you were ok!" Hifumi recounted trying to reach out to Ren.
"Yeah, it wasn't an easy process," Ren replied, caressing his forehead. "I was beaten down and drugged, which then led directly into a long and trying interrogation with Sae." As he recalled the events, the Memory Echo showed a still image of Ren and Sae inside the interrogation room. "And no offense, Makoto, but your sister was and still is a scary woman."
Makoto proudly smiled. "That's my sis for you."
"I've recounted everything that happened up to that point. As I started to remember, I convinced Makoto's sister to take my phone. After she left, Akechi arrived and…" The memory Echo showed exactly what he was going to describe. A bullet from Akechi's gun went through Ren's head point blank.
Speechless, Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers were shocked to see what happened.
"Akechi shot me in the head. Or, so he thought." A cunning grin formed on his face like a Joker.
There was a moment of silence for a bit.
"What happened next?" Mary asked.
"It turned out our leader was alive and well," Makoto explained. "We never stole my sister's treasure. We knew from the start that Akechi plotted to turn on us. So we made a Cognitive Shadow of Ren and the interrogation room since the Palace is connected to the police station. After which, Ren managed to escape with my sister's help and we regrouped." A visual then showed the real Ren hiding out while the Cognition vanished inside the interrogation room.
"In other words, we played Akechi like a tool!" Ryuji grinned.
Hearing this, Sion openly smirked. "I can't believe you pulled off such a successful gamble. That had to be difficult to pull off convincingly." He turned toward Ren. "Amamiya, you pulled off the impossible."
"Well, I'm sure you did impossible feats in your world, too," Ren replied to Sion. "After we learned the truth about all these Palaces, the hearts we stole, and the mental shutdowns, we linked them all to one source: the Conspiracy led by Masayoshi Shido." The Memory Echo displayed Masayoshi Shido campaigning for his election.
"Now the puzzle pieces are coming together," Hifumi realized, knowing from the past news of Shido rallying his followers to make the country a better place. But in truth, Shido was a baneful manipulator with his own self interests.
"It came full circle when it was revealed to be Shido. He's the same man who sued me and had me put on a year long probation. With hindsight being 20/20, if it weren't for my reckless actions, I never would've met you all and kickstarted the Phantom Thieves. There wouldn't be anyone to save society," Ren acknowledged his destiny. "From there, we entered the final Palace to stop Akechi and Shido's goals."
Another white light spread all over the space, unveiling the Thieves' encounters with Akechi and Shido.
Shido's Palace (The Cruise of Pride)/Flashback
Upon entering the final Palace, the Phantom Thieves found themselves on a large boat. The Thieves carried out their heist, exploring maze-like obstacles and even briefly being turned into mice. They faced off and defeated the Shadows of Shido's five cronies, trying to entice them to open the assembly hall.
After defeating Shido's five cohorts, the Thieves faced the traitorous Akechi Goro. When it was revealed Akechi is Shido's son and that he wanted revenge on the politician for abandonment and abuse, these truths broke Akechi. A battle quickly escalated between the Thieves against the traitor and his two berserker Shadow minions.
After beating them in the first skirmish, Akechi manically cackled and pulled off his red mask. "Now, I'm going to show you my real ability! Come! Loki!" Tearing off his Robin Hood facade, he unveiled his true self: a black-armored knight. He then summoned his real Persona, which was based on the Norse trickster. The God of Mischief Loki.
"Justice?! Righteous?! Keep that shit to yourselves!" Akechi yelled insanely. "You're going down… I'll destroy you… Now! Let's see you drop dead one at a time, in front of your precious friends!
DIIIIIIIE! " He screamed frantically, his mind fractured and his demeanor conveying depravity.
Another difficult battle occurred. The Thieves fought hard against the single black mask figure with Loki's powers. After a lengthy battle, it ultimately came down to Joker and Akechi.

"I'll do it," Joker insisted.
"It's all garbage! Justice, friends!" Akechi angrily retorted as his Persona blasted Joker, who absorbed the attack. "What's the difference between you Phantom Thieves and me?! We both remove society's trash! You're in my way!"
When Joker sent Arsène to attack Loki, Akechi and Joker clashed blades head-on.

"Stop it! Don't look at me like that! How could I be inferior to you?!" Angrily hissed Akechi, knocking Joker's mask off. "Why is trash like you more special than me?!"
As Arsène defeated Loki, Akechi fell in defeat, sinking his head.
"You're so lucky. Lucky to be surrounded… by teammates who acknowledge you…" Akechi sadly muttered to Joker. "As for me, people will find out that my past deductions were just a charade. My fame and trust will vanish. In the end… I couldn't be special…"
"Dude, you're more than special…" Skull muttered, showing a rare level of respect despite his differences with Akechi.
"It pains me to admit… but your wit and strength far exceed ours. We only defeated you by teaming up…" Queen admitted, comparing herself to him. "I was honestly… envious of your natural ability."
After this, a Cognitive Akechi appeared to taunt and execute the real Akechi. The real Akechi stayed behind to sacrifice himself, allowing the Phantom Thieves to escape the Palace.
Having broadcasted their final Calling Card toward Shido all over Tokyo, they declared their leader, Joker, was alive and vowed to steal Shido's heart.
This ultimately led to the final war against Masayoshi Shido in Shadow Shido's assembly hall.
Upon meeting the Shadow of the corrupted politician, the Thieves prepared to bring down his entire operation.

"Sacrifices are inevitable in the path of reform. The ignorant masses only care about their happiness. I am merely granting that for them. That is the social reform that only I, as the one chosen by God, can enact!" Shadow Shido openly boasted. "That is why I must reestablish this mighty country. One that does not waiver. One that others bow to."
"A cruel person like you has no right to stand leading the citizens of this country. You're nothing but a criminal who rose above others by climbing a staircase of sin!" Queen glared at Shadow Shido.
"You say it's for the country, but I bet it's all for yourself!" Panther growled and yelled. "Nobody would wish for something like that!"
"Mighty, my ass! That's just a crooked country made by a crook!" Skull yelled.
"We cannot let you do this. You are a disgrace to Japan!" Fox glared. "Hence, we will take your deranged heart."
Shadow Shido simply nodded in disappointment and dismissed the Thieves' retorts. "It seems the ignorant masses are doomed to remain as such. I thought you were smarter than that. This is unfortunate. I have no choice but to eliminate you all."
And so, the epic battle escalated as Shadow Shido donned a warlord-like general uniform, referring to himself as Samael, while riding on a giant golden lion made out of human statues. The lion changed shape, gaining feathery wings, to form a pyramid akin to the Eye of Providence. After vanquishing the golden lion, Shadow Shido stepped forth to personally fight the Thieves. Shadow Shido recognized Joker as the same teenager that stopped his real self, which got Ren a year's probation.
Shadow Shido arrogantly chuckled at Joker. "I see… So it truly is you. Haha… What an interesting turn of fate."
Shadow Shido then disrobed his general shirt uniform, revealing a burly muscular body. Preparing for war, he dropped into an intense fighting stance.

"I shall win this game!" Shadow Shido declared.
Another difficult battle occurred as the Thieves battled his base and 'Samael' forms. However, the battle didn't just stop there.
Determined to defeat Joker on his own, Shadow Shido demanded the Phantom Thief face him in a duel. Accepting his duel, Joker summoned his various Personas to contend with Shadow Shido's raw power.
Joker first summoned Yoshitsune, a pale-faced, red-eyed samurai warrior donning red armor and white body garb with golden embellished orbs on various parts of its armor. Upon sending Yoshitsune in, Joker ordered a multiple sword slash attack.
Before Shadow Shido even knew what hit him, Yoshitsune swiftly appeared behind the large man and unleashed a flurry of lightning fast strikes, knocking Shadow Shido halfway across the assembly hall.
Joker then summoned Alice, a small blonde-haired girl in a black dress.
Charging toward Alice, Shadow Shido laughed off Joker's Persona choice. "What's with this pitiful Persona?!" Going for a hand swipe, his hand narrowly missed Alice, who hopped up and out of his reach. He heard a sinister giggle and whipped around, seeing Alice's unassuming face contort with a devilish grin.
As Alice spun her body around, he unleashed a dome full of wind, which collided with Shadow Shido and pushed him far back.
The large man reacted furiously from being beaten senseless. Enlarging his burly frame, his muscles enlarged with a magenta aura seamlessly radiating off his veiny body.
Rushing fearlessly against Shadow Shido, the large man threw a powerful right hand. Expecting his fist to run through Joker's slender frame, an immense force stopped Shadow Shido's punch. Taken aback, Shadow Shadow saw a large blue insect with a pair of fly wings, a yellow headpiece, a necklace consisting of human skulls, and holding a staff with a human skull on it. Beelzebub's red fly-like eyes intently glared down Shadow Shido.
Joker put a hand out, effortlessly holding back Shadow Shido's mighty punch. "Is that all you've got?!" Shadow Shido's eyes and mouth gaped in disbelief. "Checkmate!" The Phantom Thief declared. "You're not even in my league!"
Amassing red energy through its staff, Beelzebub unleashed a beam that blasted away Shadow Shido. With enough willpower and resolve, Joker brought Shadow Shido down. Having been defeated, Shadow Shido regressed to his normal state.
Realizing he had won, Joker smiled knowing he'd beaten the man responsible for his year's probation.
Soon after, not one to accept defeat so easily, the real Shido attempted to commit suicide, which would've destroyed his Palace and killed the Thieves from within. Luckily, the Phantom Thieves made it out alive in time and stole the Treasure as well. As a result, Shido's heart changed.
Memory Echo/Present

"Alright, so you guys won!" Ryōta exclaimed until he noted the Thieve's indifferent looks. "Um, so did you?"
"Tell us what happened next!" Yumeko begged.
Sion furrowed his brows. "Something tells me that not everything was resolved."
"We thought it was over, but it was just the beginning of a new conflict," Ren confirmed Sion's suspicions. "Yes, we defeated Shido and stole his heart. We thought our reputations would've been restored when Shido confessed his crimes. The thing is… the masses didn't believe the truth of Shido's wrongdoings." The Memory Echo then displayed the Thieves standing outside Shibuya as a rain of blood fell and demonic structures slowly overtook Tokyo's infrastructure. Outside of the Thieves, the masses didn't notice any strange occurrence. "On December 24th, 2016, we faced the true final mission."
"Mementos, the collective realm of all the people's hearts," Morgana revealed. "That is when we Phantom Thieves explored the depths to search the truth about my origins. In the end, we encountered the public's treasure, which was shaped like the mythical Holy Grail." The Memory Echo showed a giant Holy Grail cup as Morgana fittingly described. "We couldn't defeat it, and as a result, we faded out of existence."
The next visual showed the Thieves being physically erased.
"As my friends vanished, I was transported to the Velvet Room," Ren recalled as the Memory Echo showed still images of Ren, garbed in his prisoner's clothing, meeting Igor, Justine, and Caroline. Suddenly, the two wardens' glowed with white light as they were seemingly pulled toward each other, merging into a single entity. "It turns out that Justine and Caroline merged to become their true self Lavenza. But that wasn't the biggest shock. It was then I found out the Igor that I've interacted with turned out to be a malevolent god. He was the Holy Grail itself. He was known as Yaldabaoth."
Everyone watched the still image of Igor transform into Yaldabaoth's true form. Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers were at a loss over what had transpired.
"I can't believe this," Hifumi gasped.
"He set up a game to manipulate humanity, claiming the only way out of ruin is for him to bring forth some kind of salvation and assume control of our reality and remove those with chaos in their hearts. He offered me to restore the world to the way it was, but with the price that the masses would not be able to think for themselves."
"And you didn't?" Sion asked.
"That's right. There's no way I'd accept his terms. So, that bastard left and the real Igor returned." Ren then turned toward Morgana. "The real Igor said he created Mona to help guide humanity's future." As he said this, the cat smiled and nodded. "Once I found my friends, we reassembled as the Phantom Thieves and headed off for the final showdown against Yaldabaoth."
"Yes, now I'm starting to understand," Hifumi recalled being aware of Mementos' effects on the real world. This was due to being one of Ren's Confidants. She along with the other Confidants witnessed that fateful battle.
A white flash of light enveloped the room as the Memory Echo revealed the Phantom Thieves and their now evolved Ultimate Personas face the God of Control.
Shibuya, Tokyo ( 渋谷区 , 東京 )/Qliphoth World/Flashback
After racing through the path and defeating the god's four archangels, the Phantom Thieves finally confronted the God of Control Yaldabaoth. The Thieves summoned their Ultimate Personas.
Mercurius appeared beside Mona.
Hecate materialized next to Panther.
Seiten Taisei appeared next to Skull.
Anat appeared beside Queen.
Kamu Susano-o materialized next to Fox.
Oracle entered Prometheus.
Noir called forth Astarte.

"I am the administrator born of the collective human unconscious. I am the god of control, Yaldabaoth." The deity declared in a metallic godly voice, which resounded throughout Tokyo. "The administrator must guide mankind toward proper development. And now that the foolishness of man has been proven, the administrator must purge them. The foolish masses merely spread indolent thoughts and force the progress of society backward. If left to humanity, the world would slowly meet its demise. Rehabilitation is impossible now. I am the entity that governs this world. Its future depends wholly on my leadership. Those who dare defy this natural order shall be met with punishment raining down from the heavens."
Mona turned towards Joker. "We're fighting against a god who's not holding anything back, right? I'm so glad I was able to be a part of your team."

"Yeah. Let's win this," Joker agreed to Mona and his friends.
"We'll take it all back…! Our future…! And this world!" Mona declared as he and Thieves faced Yaldabaoth.
As the final battle started, Yaldabaoth used the powers of all the Seven Deadly Sins to instill deadly effects on his opposition. The Thieves fought off the god's power.

"The abyss of the unconscious yearns for ultimate ruin…" Yaldabaoth announced. "You have no means of escape, humans. Punishment shall strike you all… As you pass through the gates of destruction… My control is the absolute truth of this world."
Yaldabaoth then charged up and unleashed his Rays of Control
, critically injuring the Phantom Thieves. However, the Phantom Thieves slowly recovered and glared defiantly at the malevolent god.
"If you're a god, you should be guiding humans to your ideals! You're destroying them because you can't do that, aren't you? So that you can flaunt your own existence!" Mona rebuked Yaldabaoth. "That's why you were observing us! You had to! The reaction of the 'masses' worried you!"
"What drivel…" Yaldabaoth scoffed as he cast divine thunder, severely injuring the Phantom Thieves. "Humans are naught but clumps of desire. Logic dictates that a world filled with them will decline."
As hope seemed lost, Mishima rallied all of Tokyo's civilians to send their lights, giving the Phantom Thieves their full one hundred percent. With enough hope accumulated from the masses, it allowed unshackled
Arsène's chains, transforming the entity into Ren's Ultimate Persona, Satanael.
The rebellious demon lord towered over the mechanical god of control. Yaldabaoth unleashed
Rays of Control once again at the Thieves, but it did not affect them.
"Impossible!" Yaldabaoth bellowed in disbelief.
"Pillage him, Satanael!" Joker exclaimed while his Persona materialized behind him. He then pointed toward the God of Control's direction. "Begone!"
With that said, Satanael fired a
Sinful Shell through Yaldabaoth's head, instantly executing the god. As the malevolent god fell, a new dawn commenced. Tokyo's citizens were allowed to make their own choices.
"What power… It surpasses my own… a god born from the wish of the masses… So this… is the true Trickster…! Damn that Igor… It seems he wasn't spouting nonsense…"
Yaldabaoth's last words are spoken before the god faded away, reverting to a non-sapient grail. The conflict was over.
Memory Echo/Present

"Ok, you guys won the day and celebrated, right?" Yumeko said.
"Wait, but what about Akechi Goro? What happened to him?" Mary queried about the ace detective's whereabouts.
"That's right. I only remember Ren being called to testify against Shido and serving some time in juvenile detention, but Akechi was never found," Hifumi said.
Ren addressed their concerns. "Well, this may be hard for you to believe, but that wasn't the end of our story." He faced Hifumi and the gamblers. "None of you would've realized this, but after new years, our reality was being altered by one individual and his Persona."
"Hold on, you guys faced another Persona user after the Yaldabaoth conflict?" Sion asked.
"More like two, but I'll let Ren explain it," Ann said.
"It all started during the start of my time at Shujin. Going back to the Kamoshida situation, I met this very kind-hearted girl named Yoshizawa Kasumi. Since I was her senior, she always called me 'senpai' and we would talk every chance we bumped into each other, which was not too often." Once again, the Memory Echo showed a still image of Ren talking with a petite girl wearing a ponytail. She had a kind smile, giving Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers a good impression of the girl Ren described.
"After Kamoshida left, a therapist was hired by the school board to speak with students who've faced mental trauma. Most who were abused by Kamoshida were required to see him. That included Ann, Ryuji, and I." The Memory Echo painted a perfect image of what Ren described, a gentleman garbed in a lab coat, wearing glasses and unkempt hair. More still images showed the man speaking with Ren, Ryuji, and Ann.
Hifumi interjected. "Who was this therapist if I may ask?"
"His name was Maruki Takuto, who seemed like a clumsy oaf based on first impressions. After each of us talked to him and addressed our problems, we came to know him better. He especially took a keen interest in me and often asked me to volunteer with his research."
Hearing this, Ryuji reflected and chuckled on his interactions with the therapist. "Heh, that guy loved treating us like little kids. He liked giving us candy, treats, and shit."
"So, why did he take an interest in you, Ren?" Sion asked him.
"Because he saw himself through me. Kasumi also went to see him. Believe it or not, these two knew each other before Maruki came to our school."
"Was she a long time patient of his?" Ryōta queried.
"Yeah, but it gets more complicated. During the rest of the school year, we went to see him. Then, his term with Shujin ended on November 18. He asked me to see him off that day. According to him, he amassed enough data for a project. So, that was the last time I saw him until the new year," Ren went on as the Memory Echo showed still images of the Phantom Thieves meeting Kasumi for the New Year celebration. "It was the best way to start the new year. Since you brought up Akechi, I did see him again. He appeared to me with Sae after we defeated Yaldabaoth. Akechi volunteered to go testify against Shido and serve jail time in my place."
With a befuddled look on her face, Hifumi surmised. "Wait, but how do I not remember this? He would've appeared on television since Shido's confession was a big news story. Unless there was some cognition meddling at play here?"
Makoto nodded. "That's exactly what it was."
"Going back to Kasumi. Before Dr. Maruki left, Kasumi and I fell into a mysterious Palace. It was located at a construction site in Odaiba. There, we protected her from a strange Shadow that Kasumi claimed sounded like her sister. It was then Kasumi tapped into the Metaverse and unlocked her Persona."
The room became engulfed by the white light again, revealing Kasumi in her Metaverse outfit and fighting alongside Joker.
Maruki's Palace (Laboratory of Sorrow)/Flashback
Standing off against the mysterious Shadow, Kasumi, in her Metaverse outfit, summoned her Persona, Cendrillon, to help Joker. After making short work of the Shadow, they returned to their world.
Trying to take everything that occurred, Kasumi asked Ren a bunch of questions. If that wasn't enough, Morgana speaking to her shocked her. The two decided to keep this incident to themselves. Morgana even offered Kasumi a place with the Phantom Thieves, but she initially turned it down but promised to keep Ren's secret safe.
Memory Echo/Present

"Once we entered the new year, strange things happened. The first was Akechi suddenly out of prison, which I even questioned. Then, other out of place events happened before my eyes." He shifted over to Morgana. "One day, I wake up and Morgana is seemingly a human being. I thought, 'hey, you got your wish to become human again', but then I saw several people who by all accounts should've been deceased. The biggest takeaways were Futaba's mother, Haru's father, and Makoto's father not just walking around, but being alive again."
Morgana sighed. "It's hard to believe, but when Ren told me this, I didn't want to believe it."
Futaba nodded. "It sounded like it was too good to be true."
Makoto folded her arms. "Reviving the ones we loved for his fantasized world is wrong."
Haru shook her head. "I do wish father was alive so we could've made amends."
Ann asserted. "And as much as I'd like for Shiho to come back, she left for good reasons. It just wasn't the right time for her to come back to Shujin and be reminded of the anguish she already suffered."
"What do you mean by him, Makoto?" Yumeko asked before realizing it. "Wait, does this have anything to do with that doctor?"
"Good guess, but yes the one who altered our reality was Dr. Maruki," Ren stated as a Memory Echo showed a cinematic scene depicting Joker, Akechi, and Kasumi confronting Maruki inside his Palace. The therapist's outward appearance changed, as his hair was more groomed than before and in a full white doctor garb. "Akechi came to me to verify everything wrong. I verified this after I asked each of my friends. For a time, it seemed like us Thieves were being divided. Akechi said the source of this sudden reality altering came from a Palace. It was the same one Kasumi and I entered a few months prior. With his and Kasumi's help, we infiltrated Maruki's Palace and found him. Maruki revealed that his Persona, Azathoth, which manifested from Adam Kadmon, to resurrect the dead instead of just conjuring cognitive versions of them."
Sion furrowed his brows. "All those deceased people were real?"
"That's what Maruki said. He went far and beyond by altering our entire reality. He linked his Palace directly with Mementos and the real world after we beat Yaldabaoth. Maruki's goal was to end humanity's suffering by granting us eternal happiness." The Memory Echo then showed Kasumi looking up at a big screen being shown her memories and of another girl that resembled her.
Hifumi observed Kasumi breaking down with tears. "Who is she looking at that's making her cry?"
Ren shut his eyes and deeply sighed. "That girl is her sister… Kasumi." As he said this, Sion, Hifumi, and the gamblers turned and faced Ren with bewilderment.
"Come again?" Ryōta asked, just as confused as his friends.
"So, her sister is also Kasumi?! Wow, their parents aren't good with naming their kids," Yumeko said.
Mary groaned. "I doubt that's seriously it, you idiot."
"So, what's the story with Kasumi and her sister?" Sion asked the Phantom Thief leader.
"The Kasumi we've interacted with that whole time was not 'Kasumi'. It's been her younger sister Yoshizawa Sumire. The real Kasumi died after saving Sumire from getting hit by a car. Taking the fall for her sister, Kasumi tragically passed away."
"Oh dear, that's horrible," Hifumi said with sadness in her voice. "How is it she's been able to impersonate her late-sister this whole time?"
"Faced with guilt over her sister's passing, Sumire was inspired to live in Kasumi's place, even going as far as becoming a gymnast in Kasumi's memory. She didn't just want to live her sister's life, she wanted to be Kasumi. So much so, she used Kasumi's image to mask her real insecure self. Maruki took advantage of this. He manipulated and turned Kasumi against us." The Memory Echo showed still images of Joker and Akechi fighting to save Sumire, but her Persona, now evolved into the Ultimate Persona Vanadis.
"But, we all came to his rescue after breaking free from Maruki's reality," Morgana stated.
"Yeah, you thought we were gonna leave ya to fight alone, buddy?" Ryuji grinned at Ren.
"As much as we want our loved ones back, we knew Maruki's reality was wrong," Yusuke said.
"And so we went in and made a grand entrance in grand hero fashion, saving our leader!" Futaba exclaimed.
"Once we stood united, we vowed to not accept Maruki's reality," Makoto affirmed.
"Soon after this, we saved Sumire, who finally accepted who she is and truly awakened. From there, she officially joined our party," Ren stated.
Sion frowned. "So, another madman that wanted to use humanity for his own means? That almost sounds like someone I know."
The Phantom Thief leader clarified. "There's always the other side of this story. We learned Maruki did this because he had a tragic past linked to his former love, who fell into a catatonic depression after her family was murdered. Trying to save his ex-lover, he manifested Adam Kadmon and forged a contract to save the woman from her depression. He used this power to further his research, which shattered his dream of building a cognitive psience research lab. Shido was involved in this decision, yet again destroying someone else's life. Vowing to make the world a better place, he continued to use Adam Kadmon. Then, he met Sumire and used his power on her to make her think she's Kasumi. Though by Sumire's admission, she consented to this procedure. When he came to our school, all those visits helped him assess our Metaverse abilities. He knew from the start he had Personas. Before we headed into battle, our Persona hit their peak and evolved into their Third-tier levels. With our Persona maxed out, we marched right into Maruki's Palace and faced him for the final battle."
Another white flash shrouded the entire space, revealing the Phantom Thieves, along with Akechi and Sumire, faced Maruki.
Maruki's Palace (Laboratory of Sorrow)/Flashback
Having broken into his Palace's stronghold, the Phantom Thieves along with their Third-tier Personas fought Maruki and his Persona Azathoth. Joker and Raoul fought Azathoth head-on. After a hard fought battle, the Thieves left only for Maruki's Persona to evolve into Adam Kadmon, a primordial being with immeasurable power.
Another pressing battle ensued. It seemed the Thieves wouldn't be able to topple Maruki's seemingly invincible Persona, but the Thieves, standing united, pushed back Adam Kadmon's glowing fist of destruction, giving Joker time to scale the behemoth and fire a bullet through its head. As the golden behemoth collapsed, the Thieves escaped leaving Maruki to mull over his defeat.
As Mona transformed into a cat helicopter, he and the Thieves departed, but Maruki seized them. Joker opted to let go and confronted Maruki alone.

"Sorry to cut your flight so short. This place is done for…" Maruki sadly scanned his dream reality collapsing on itself. "Along with the entire reality I dreamed of...:" He dropped his golden staff and faced Joker with guilt. "I… have lost. Even if I were to try that fight over, I'm sure I'd only lose again. So, I know this going to sound pretty stupid. I've been holding this all in for so long, just hiding it from myself… so please…" He pleaded. "Help me kill every last one of my regrets. You're the only one I can ask to help me, Ren."
Ren nodded. "Very well."
Dropping out of his golden suit, Maruki readied a fighting stance. Joker did the same. Suddenly, Joker's mask glowed and faded away.

"The disappearance of my Palace - of the entire Metaverse - is drawing near. Seems like neither of us can summon our Personas anymore. Let's begin." Clenching his right hand, Maruki stormed up and punched Joker's face. "I gave up everything! EVERYTHING! So why?!"
Joker punched him back.

"Why… why Rumi?!" Maruki punched Joker again, who returned the favor with a harder punch. "A reality where… no one suffers…" He backhanded Joker, who then socked him a good one. He then walked forward and stumbled. He screamed with frustration and collapsed. Raising a hand, he touched the air as snowflakes rained on him. He finally resigned. "I'm done. I get it now. All thanks to you."
The ground started to shake and the glass bridge crumbled under Maruki. As the glass platform shattered and gave way, Maruki fell seemingly to his death, but Joker quickly snatched his hand and saved him.

"I said I'm done. Please let go of my hand," Maruki weakly pleaded, gazing pitifully at Joker, who refused to let go.
"I won't let it end like this," muttered Joker.
Maruki smiled. "Your eyes are as bright and honest as ever… you keep your head up, no matter what… I must have always been… afraid… afraid you and I wouldn't wish for the same reality."
The lights from the Mona-copter returned to pick Joker up, distracting Joker and Maruki.

"So bright…"
Memory Echo/Present

"After saving Maruki, reality was reset to normal. I ended up going to juvenile detention after making my testimony against Shido. Akechi, who was supposed to be in my place, vanished without a trace. Along with him, everyone who was revived in the altered reality vanished. Sumire no longer has Kasumi's mask overlayed over her mental state. After serving my time, I reunited with my friends. Even that sentence was short lived. On March 20, 2017, I departed and returned home." Ren finished his story as the Memory Echo showed the Phantom Thief leader leaving with his friends, riding a taxi with Maruki, and later catching his train ride.
"Wow, what an incredible story. Now, I understand you better than I initially did," Hifumi genuinely smiled. "Nice of you to apply my strategies into your decision making and battle skills, Ren."
Yumeko chuckled. "Yes, gee, that was a long story. I just wish I was there to see it all happen!"
Mary turned to Yumeko. "I don't think so. You leading us against all they went through? Hell no."
Makoto folded her arms. "Since we told our story, perhaps you'd like to share yours with us, Sion?"
"Yes, we'd like to learn about your world," Yusuke faced the Revenant.
"I'm sure there's a lot to tell," Ann smiled.
Taking a deep breath, Sion chuckled. "Well, my story isn't anywhere near as long as yours, but I'll do my best."
Hifumi encouraged the Revenant. "Take your time, Sion. We have all day."
Using the Memory Echo to create a visual aid, Sion visually presented the group with still images of a ruined city in a post-apocalyptic world. Surrounding the ruined city is a thick red mist, encompassing the outer perimeters and keeping whatever was outside the city away from it. There was a ravaged cityscape, infrastructure ruins, and a desolate, arid landscape. The next images showed Sion awakening and meeting a pale-skinned woman with beautiful golden eyes.
"I came from the society of Vein," Sion started. "In my dimension, or at least where I came from, humanity had been reduced to a handful. We, Revenants, are the ones at the top of the hierarchy. We survive by drinking blood, whether by drinking humans or by feeding off Blood Beads. Blood Beads were artificially created to help sustain our hunger."
"How did your kind come into existence? You appear human, so did you evolve from humanity?" Haru asked him.
"In a way, we did, but not naturally," Sion then pointed to his chest. "Revenants were once humans. We were fighting battles against the Lost and a greater enemy called the Queen. As a means to better combat these monsters, researchers experimented on life forms called BOR Parasites, which were implanted into human corpses. Over time, these parasites replaced the human hearts and revived the deceased. Those who were revived became Revenants. Once one becomes Revenant, they become physically stronger and can regenerate to insane degrees, but it came with a cost. To survive, we have to drink blood. With humanity scarce as is, Blood Beads were created to substitute for the short blood supply."
Ryuji blinked. "Wait, so you're like the walking dead?"
The Revenant gave a faint smile. "Well, when you put it that way, yeah we are."
"But you have vampire-like characteristics," Makoto pointed out.
"Ouch, I can't imagine having any kind of bug inside my body, let alone replacing my heart?" Ann shuddered. "Doesn't it hurt?"
"I can still feel it move inside me, but no it doesn't hurt," Sion casually patted his own chest.
"What happens if a Revenant doesn't feed?" Mary asked him.
"They become a Lost. But, thankfully I still have some Blood Beads on me."
Hifumi then confessed. "And I'm letting him drink my blood."
Makoto turned to her. "Yes, but you shouldn't overdo it."
The Revenant spoke up. "I warned her already, but she insisted I do it."
"What else is there to know?" Ren asked the Revenant.
"Yeah, what about this red mist?" Morgana eyed the thick, red clouds surrounding the ruined city perimeters.
"That's the Gaol of the Mists. Not long after the Queen died, this city became surrounded by the red mist that you see. Those who try to penetrate it were met with excruciating pain, and nothing outside came in."
"What's outside the mist that needed to be kept out?" Yumeko queried.
"The 'horror's as they call them. They're great beasts with imaginable power," Sion stated as the Memory Echo showed a large black-bodied beast with a white mane and golden spikes jutting out from its backside.
"Holy hell! That thing looks like an Aragami!" Futaba shrieked at the sight of the horror.
"Ara-gami?" Sion blinked.
The hacker waved him off. "It's a God Eater reference, don't mind me!"
"I feel sorry for anyone that has to fight those things," a horrified Ann muttered.
"So, tell me. Does humanity exist elsewhere?" Yusuke queried.
"Outside the Gaol of the Mists, humanity is a lot more common than where I lived. I'm very sure humanity had a share of gruesome battles with the horrors. When we learned of these survivors, my colleagues and I ventured to the outside world to help humanity fight the horrors. On our way, Lost attacked us and then a portal opened up behind me, sending me… well… here." As he faced Hifumi, a faint smile formed on his face.
"And then I found you."
Sion nodded and resumed his story. "Us Revenants were created to fight abominations like the Queen and the horrors."
"And what about this Queen?" asked Haru.
"It's the entity Revenants fought that cost the lives of many, but in the end, the Revenants defeated the Queen and to prevent a needless resurrection her body was divided into parts called Relics." As Sion elaborated, the Memory Echo showed faceless Revenants passing glowing objects to others of their own kind. "A small group of Revenants that were compatible with the Relics. These chosen few had the Relics incorporated into their bodies. These chosen Revenants were called Successors."
"Where were these Successors placed? Because I'm sure having segments of this entity might be dangerous to their well beings," Yusuke addressed his concerns.
"They were placed in isolation and the Successors used their powers to forge crypts."
"Who was that pale-skinned woman we just saw earlier?" Haru asked.
"That is Io, the first Revenant I met after my memory loss."
"She's beautiful," Ann glamorized her.
"Wait, Io. The same Io whose amber Blood Bead I absorbed?" Hifumi recalled taking in Io's life essence when the Yokai and Lost first attacked them.
Sion answered Hifumi. "That's right. Right now you contain her life force and power."
"Of course that would explain why Hifumi can fight with us," Makoto said.
"Io wouldn't be the only Revenant I'd befriend during my journey to restore my memories. I met other Revenants, the very same people I'd befriend. They'd also accompanied me on our adventures." As Sion went on, the Memory Echo unveiled still images of three other Revenants, the same individuals he traveled with and got separated from. The group noted a tall red-haired man, a short blonde-haired woman with papakha hat, and a moderate built young man with short dark brown hair. "Here are my friends. The tall one is Shinonome Yakumo. The woman is Mia Karnstein. And the young man is Louis Amamiya."
Upon hearing this, Ren was startled that someone from Sion's dimension shares his surname. However, he logically considered this being a mere coincidence.
"Whoa, dude. They have someone named Amamiya in their group!" Ryuji reeled with excitement over this startling revelation.
"He was the leader of our unit just like you're the leader of the Phantom Thieves, Ren," the Revenant half-chuckled. "But, I doubt you and him have a familial connection. I don't get the sense you're his ancestor."
Ren casually responded. "I figured that'd be the case. It's just a mere coincidence we share the same surname."
"True, there's plenty of folks here who share similar surnames, but they're no way related," Hifumi verified this notion.
"So, which of these three did you and Io meet first?" Morgana asked the Revenant.
"We happened upon Louis after he saved us when a Revenant named Oliver Collins frenzied and turned into a Lost. After that, he took us to his home and there he introduced us to other Revenants, each one as kind-hearted and willing to lend a helping hand to their own kind." More still images materialized on the walls of their surroundings. Another still image showed an orange-haired young woman with a mask, a large dark brown-skinned man, and a woman with short blonde hair with a hat. The Memory Echo then switched over to Louis introducing Sion and Io to Yakumo. "Then, we met Yakumo, who didn't exactly trust me at first. After seeing me in action and helping Louis out, our bond grew."
"They seem like good people," Ann noted, seeing more still images of Sion and Io interacting with these kind Revenants.
"They are. Of course, we did run into a pair that seemed hostile," Sion said as the Memory Echo showed a man and a woman, both with silverish white hair. "These two are Jack Rutherford and Eva Roux. We'd run into these two a few times. Ultimately, my memories started returning and I seemed to have known Jack. I did eventually recall my memories of him. We knew each other since we fought together to stop the Queen, who had taken possession of a woman named Cruz Silva." The Memory Echo showed Sion and Jack facing a woman with long white hair and uncharacteristic blue eyes. "I remember killing her and she passed her Blood Code onto me. I ultimately inherited her abilities. After taking in some of the Queen's power, Jack and a man named Gregorio Silva initially viewed me as a possible threat." The Memory Echo showed Jack blasting Sion off a cliff, sending him plunging presumably to his demise. A large man with white hair and a beard watched this play out. "But, I survived that fall and was later recovered by Io."
"What's a Blood Code?" Mary queried.
"They're a diverse set of skills and powers. Each Revenant has their own unique Blood Code. Since I took a portion of the Queen's power from that woman, I was spared from frenzying out and becoming a Lost. That's because I have a Void-Type, being able to acquire any Blood Code as I choose." As Sion continued his story, still images of Mia and a little boy appeared. "Ultimately we met Mia, who attacked us thinking we were going to hurt her and her little brother Nicola. After some misunderstanding and another run-in with Jack, Mia started trusting us. We became good friends after we helped her find her brother."
Yusuke added with intrigue. "It's astounding to learn about the culture and lore of your people, Sion. Tell me though, how long has the conflict with the Queen and the Lost lasted?"
"A long time. I can't specify how long it went."
"What about the small group of Revenants who took in the relics? Who were they?" Hifumi asked the Revenant.
"Remember when I mentioned those Successors? Well, here's the ones we met along our journey," Sion said as the Memory Echo unveiled four individuals: Eva, Nicola, a woman with short brown hair, another woman with back-length light brown hair, and another young woman with neck-length dark brown hair. He pointed toward the short dark brown-haired woman. "This is Louis's older sister, Karen Amamiya, and she served as a medic treating Revenants and during the conflicts. After being implanted with a piece of the Queen, she became the Successor of the Heart and she was responsible for producing the Blood Beads."
"And these two?" Makoto pointed to the other two unnamed women.
"The one with the longer hair is Aurora Valentino. She was one of the researchers of Operation Q.U.E.E.N., and became the Successor of the Ribcage," he explained as a still image of a large wolf-like creature materialized over Aurora.
"And what's that giant wolf?" Ann inquired.
"Once a Successor is incorporated with a relic of the Queen, some took on new forms to help cope with their frenzying. We've had to fight these Successors to extract their vestiges and help them regain their lost memories," Sion stated, shifting over to the next Successor. "The little boy I mentioned earlier is Nicola, Mia's younger brother. He became the Successor of the Breath." As the Memory Echo displayed Nicola, a giant armored being with antlers materialized over him.
"Whoa, he looks like that giant suit of armor from that one anime with the alchemists!" Ryōta exclaimed.
Futaba scoffed. "You mean Fullmetal Alchemist?"
"Yeah, that's the one," the male gambler modestly chortled over his short-sighted response.
"Anyway, we helped Mia fight and restore her brother's memories. She almost stayed behind to protect him, but Nicola, that brave little soul, encouraged her to go with us. And she did and we couldn't have been happier to let her run with us," Sion then shifted over toward the dark brown-haired woman. "This is Emily Su, a dear friend of Yakumo. When given a choice between herself and another comrade, she sacrificed herself to become the Successor of the Claw." A large, fierce black cat humanoid with sharp red claws materialized over Emily.
"Yikes, I wouldn't want to get her mad," Ryuji gawked at the sight of the Successor of the Claw.
"She was fierce, but we subdued her and helped her regain her memories. It was nice to see Yakumo and Emily rekindle their bond," Sion smiled as a still image of Eva appeared. "And you know Eva already. She became the Successor of the Throat after Jack extracted a relic from another Revenant. So, she was a more recent Successor than the others. Unlike the others who stayed behind in their crypts after we restored their memories, Eva joined us on our journey."
"Successors, vestiges, relics, Blood Codes, Blood Beads… wow, this is a lot to take in," Makoto muttered.
"I could say the same with your Personas, Palaces, Shadows, Mementos, Metaverse, and all that other stuff, Mako-kins," Sion half-chuckled.
Whipping her hair back, the policewoman scoffed. "Don't get cute with me, vamp boy."
Morgana sighed. "Easy you two."
"All in all, the Successors held the pieces of the Queen to prevent her revival and thankfully that remained the case," Sion stated. Another Memory Echo showed Eva stumbling into the Revenants' quarters. "Eva showed up and told us to find Jack. The reason being? He was pursuing a madman named Juzo Mido."
More still images appeared for all to see, including the end of the fight with the Successor of the Claw. Afterward, Yakumo and Emily bonded after the latter's memories became restored.
"Out of all of us, Yakumo had bad blood with Mido. It all started when Mido adopted orphans so he could conduct horrific experiments on them, turning them into his twisted test subjects. Sadly, Emily was one of his test subjects after implanting her with a relic and turning her into a Successor," Sion said with contempt in his tone.
"This Mido sounds like a mad scientist," Ren said.
"He was more than just that. On top of being the leading researcher, Mido was an ambitious monster in pursuit of evolution over survival. He envisioned Revenants to be the next evolutionary step for humanity. He was also dead set on killing Gregorio and removing the Gaol of the Mist. Although he had a great scientific mind, he didn't care about the betterment of humanity. He saw us Revenants as pawns to achieve his goals," Sion went on describing the malevolent individual. A cinematic scene of a large armored man with a glowing right red eye played out for all to see. "Juzo Mido was more like a dark lord in the making."
Ann shuddered. "He looks creepy."
Yumeko bit her bottom lip. "Yeah, he sure looks scary, doesn't he?"
Hifumi concurred. "Indeed, I can't argue."
Morgana scoffed. "Feh, we faced scarier beings than this guy. Right, Ren?" The Phantom Thief leader acknowledged him with a slight nod.
Ryuji growled. "I hope you guys kicked his ass."
"We did, but it wasn't an easy battle. Before his demise, he did briefly bring down the Gaol of the Mist and infused relics with Gregorio, transforming him into the Skull King. Unfortunately for Mido, the red mist returned, barely keeping out a horror from entering our domain. After we defeated Mido, we rushed to meet Gregorio. However, it was too late. He had already frenzied before we reached him." Another still image showed the Skull King, who the Revenants fought against and defeated. Then, the Skull King underwent another transformation. "Just when it looked like we stopped Gregorio's frenzied state, the monstrosity transformed into a massive beast with an enlarged suction-like mouth, extra pairs of limbs, large wing-like extensions from its back, and long crest-like head. "This is the Virgin Born."
The very sight of this creature rattled the group, putting them at unease.
"That thing looks like a white Xenomorph Queen!" Futaba felt compelled to compare the Skull King's evolved form to the aforementioned movie monster from a well known sci-fi horror franchise.
"Count on you to blurt out a pop culture reference," Yusuke muttered.
"So, what happened next after you defeated this thing?" Makoto asked him.
As he shifted over to Hifumi, Sion explained. "After we stopped the Virgin Born, I had the choice to take the Queen's relic, but Io had the agency to intervene and absorb the Queen's Brain. We tried talking her out of it, but she did it was her responsibility to do so. You see, I didn't get into this, but do you want to know Io's origins?"
Hifumi nodded. "I do since I carry her essence in me. I want to learn about her sacrifice." The Memory Echo showed still images of Io walking past the Revenants and absorbing the Queen's Relic.
Sighing, the Revenant explained with sadness. "Well, you see Io is the embodiment of the Queen's power. She can touch vestiges without side effects. She along with other entities like her were artificially created to be Attendants, who protect the Successors. In the end, Io absorbed all the relics and turned herself into the Weeping Tree, a physical tree of life that will shield the world of Vein and keep me from falling into a deep sleep. Had Io not done so, I would have been asleep for a long time in Gregorio's place."
The Memory Echo then showed Io vanish. In her place was a large pale tree with red beads hanging like fruit. "Io's Weeping Tree has also produced fresh Blood Beads, but the core of her spirit produced the amber Blood Bead. I vowed to protect it, but we know what happened, but listen to me, Hifumi. I don't begrudge you for inheriting Io's power. If Io's essence willfully chose you to contain and utilize her powers, then there had to be a good reason."
Hifumi glanced over her body and sensed Io's essence coursing through her. Adorning her face is a soft smile. "She entrusts me to protect her power. Then, I won't let her sacrifice be in vain."
"What happened to Gregorio? Did he die?" Haru asked about the fate of this Revenant.
"No, he recovered. Soon after, he worked to reestablish the provisional government following the aftermath of our battles. Each of the Successors I mentioned turned back to normal. Thanks to Io's sacrifice, we earned our happy ending, but I'm even happier knowing Io lives on through you, Hifumi."
"Then, I won't let you or her down," the Shogi player openly vowed to him.
"Before I arrived here, my friends and I left behind the world of Vein. We went to find and help the humans against the horrors. Well, as you know, we were ultimately ambushed by some Lost and a portal brought me here, but that's pretty much the end of my story."
Everyone was silent but they were immersed with his backstory. Not even Futaba could offer a witty remark.
"It's incredible you remember all this, y'know since you didn't have all of your memories before," Mary stated.
"Believe me, I've regained a lot of my memories. I only want to find out who or what brought me here and for what purpose," the Revenant replied.
"Don't worry. We'll get to the bottom of it, Sion. Whoever is bringing these monsters into our world will answer to us," Ren promised him.
"And we will bring whoever it is to justice," Morgana nodded.
"But, what I don't get is this individual or whatever came from Sion's world. I can't be Mido since he's dead," Makoto speculated on the perpetrator's identity.
Hifumi said. "Listen, Sion. It can't be long until this individual reveals his or her presence to us."
Leaning his face to his hands, the Revenant sighed. "I hope so."
As the Memory Echo dissipated, the group returned to the restaurant setting. Then, Nekomata appeared before them.
The sagely Yokai cat chimed in, chuckling amusedly. "I see you've learned each other's backstories. Most excellent. Now we can proceed with tomorrow's arrangements at Sankō Shrine, Phantom Thieves and friends. Also to my Guardian Spirit wielders, you three will have two honored guests who will be intrigued to see you."
Clasping her hands, Yumeko gleamed joyously. "Really?! Are they other Guardian Spirit wielders like us?"
"Heheh, you'll see tomorrow."
Ryōta speculated. "Gee, who would they be?"
Mary added with interest. "We'll find out tomorrow."
"Also to you, young Sion. Don't feel discouraged. With time, we will unveil the identity behind this individual behind the Yokai and Lost incursions, as well as learning why you were brought to this world."
The Revenant vaguely smiled. "Thank you, Nekomata."
"Also, young Amamiya Ren, Igor of the Velvet Room wishes to see you tomorrow."
Upon realizing this, Ren rubbed his chin. Morgana turned up to him in question.
"What do you think he wants, Ren?"
"There's only one way to know. Another stop inside the Velvet Room."
 

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Chapter IX: Gathering at Sankō Shrine
Okumizuma Onsen (
奥水間温泉 )/Kaizuka, Osaka ( 貝塚市 , 大阪市 )/August 4, 2020 (2020 8 4 )/11:24 AM (JST)

One day removed from the intense skirmish with the Yokai and Lost, the Thieves and their entourage decided to relax their bodies, physically and spiritually, at a local hot spring. The group split into groups based on gender: the men went to the male's side and the ladies occupied the women's side.
Separated by a wall, the gender exclusive groups enjoyed the warmth of the water massaging their bodies, purging toxins from their skin pores, and healing their wounds.
On the women's side, while in the nude but their bodies mostly obscured by the fog of the hot spring, Ann, Makoto, Hifumi, Haru, Futaba, Yumeko, and Mary breathed deeply in a collective unison. Then, they finally let out relaxed gasps.
"Ahh! Nothing like the hot springs to calm the nerves, right girls?" Ann beamed happily, asking her friends.
"Yes, you said it!" Mary concurred, leaning back while lifting a leg out of the water and sipping a cup of sake.
"Yeah, thanks for suggesting this, Ann. My mind is at ease compared to yesterday. I needed this." Makoto smiled, caressing warm water across her arms.
"Totally agree! I so needed a spa," Futaba relaxed, swimming across without a care in the world.
"This is refreshing for my delicate skin. Sometimes you just need a hot spring to unwind and for your health wellness," Hifumi commented, leaning back and raising her head. The moist and hot air filled her nostrils, helping her meditate her mind.
"So, what's the story with Ryuji's new friend?" Makoto addressed, getting little to no response. "Well, what's her name?"
Ann quickly answered, adorning a smile on her face. "Oh, that Osakan girl? Her name is Tokiha Miyako. Apparently, she bumped into him and found him sulking. Both felt left out with a tagalong and so she asked Ryuji if he wanted company. And there you go, now they have each other's numbers. I'm so happy for Ryuji!" Her enthused tone implied she couldn't be any happier for her closest friend.
"Yeah, I think they'll be wonderful together!" Yumeko concurred.
Glaring at Makoto and Haru, Mary grinned mischievously. "And what about you two? You're awfully too close to be friends."
"Well…" Haru tried to answer as she and Makoto briefly exchanged glances. Their faces immediately blushed.
"We've haven't quite gotten that close yet, but my sis is already engaged with someone," answered Makoto.
"Yes, but I know that both of us will find a young man in our lives!" Haru tried saving face for herself and Makoto, denying any romantic bond between them. Underneath the waters, and without anyone else noticing, Makoto and Haru's hands touched. Both ladies faced each other and turned away, blushing again.
"I'm so sorry, Mako-chan." Haru softly said.
"No, it's okay," Makoto reassured her.
"And you, Hifumi? Do you really like Sion?" Ann asked, a playful grin curving across her face.
"Yes, what is it you like about him? Is it because he's a vampire from another world?" Yumeko curiously asked like the curious cat she is.
As the other girls eyed her direction waiting for an answer, Hifumi felt she was being backed into a corner.
Hifumi honestly offered. "Well, it's hard to say why, but I enjoy his company. Even when I found him lying outside my house, and after I picked him up, I felt… a vibe. A mysterious but a good vibe from Sion."
"But, didn't he scare you? Like when he almost attacked and thought you were an enemy?" Makoto asked her.
"Well, yes I was scared, but think of it like this. Animals when cornered sort to self defense, correct? Who says humans, or in Sion's case a vampire can't? He was scared and having been cut off from his world. He's a small fish in a big ocean right now. Someone has to be there to guide him through the ocean. That would have to be since he crash landed outside my family's home. He had to appear near me for a reason," Hifumi explained, describing and comparing Sion to a lost animal having been cast out from one home and seeking shelter. "And I'm a firm believer in fate. I believe fate brought us together for a reason."
"Wow, that's deep," Ann was astonished by the Shogi player's reasoning. "Ok, I can buy into that!"
"Me, too. Usually, our first loves aren't they what they seem, but for others they're brought together by the red thread of fate," Haru stated. She veered toward Makoto. "Don't you think so?"
The policewoman struggled to answer this. "I suppose? Everyone meets their first love in different ways."
"A red thread of fate? Hmm, perhaps," Hifumi said. "Or, maybe our red thread of fate is that amber bead that gave me these Revenant powers to begin with?"
"Ah, then you do like him more than a friend, Hifumi!" Yumeko cried out, causing Hifumi to blush.
"Sheesh, did you even pay attention, dummy?" Mary sighed. "It's more than just puppy love for those two."
"Honestly, I'm still unsure how I should reciprocate my feelings. We've only known each other for a few days," Hifumi softly smiled, splashing water in her face.
"If I were you, I wouldn't wait on it," Ann suggested.
"Just tell Sion how you feel," Haru nodded.
"At this point, don't even let me stop you," Makoto added, resigning her previous grudge with Sion.
Swimming around Hifumi, and without saying a word, Futaba slowly lifted a thumbs up. She gave Hifumi her blessings.
"Thank you all so much," Hifumi said, clamping her hands against her chest.
"Hey, Futaba. What's going on between you and Yusuke?" Ann asked the shut-in.
"What about me and Inari?'
Clasping her hands, Haru gave a coy smile. "Isn't it obvious? You two have become attached."
"In what way?"
Makoto sighed. "That you two might have a bond beyond a simple friendship?"
Upon hearing the ladies' claims, Futaba burst out laughing. "You think there's a romantic link between me and Inari?! Please, we're like a dynamic duo if anything. Like a crime fighting team. I'm the lead detective and he's my sidekick. Nothing more and nothing less!" She shouted in an outburst, but the blush on her cheeks said otherwise.
"Right, and you're blushing is not because of the steam from the hot spring?" Mary shrugged.
"So, you do like Yusuke! Right?!" Yumeko leaned next to Futaba, giving her a creepy face. "Right?" The creepy aura exuding from the Compulsive Gambler elicited a nervous look from Futaba, who while flailing her arms splashed water in the other girls' faces.
"Nothing is going on between me and Inari! We're just buds!"
On the other side of the wall, the men mostly listened to the girls' conversation. Covering his ears, Yusuke drowned his body but his head into the water.
"Futaba, did you have to put it like that and so everyone can hear?" The artist sighed in exasperation.
Ren and Ryuji turned over to Sion, whose face was dumbfounded by everything said by Hifumi.
"Dude, she's totally into you," Ryuji whispered, grin widening from ear to ear. "You gotta talk to her alone."
"I don't even know what to say. She's been so nice to me. She and her family have treated me well," Sion muttered.
"Just make sure it's you two alone," Yusuke suggested. "Strike up a pleasant conversation and let her know how you truly feel."
When Sion turned the male gambler's way, Ryōta responded. "Hey, look, I'm not really good with romancing a girl, but listen to Yusuke. He put it best."
Ren approached Sion. "Hey, you have this."
"Thanks, but I'm going to have to think this over. I'll be back," Sion turned and walked out of the hot spring. Collecting his towel, he folded it over his waist and headed out for some solitude.
"Yo, is he gonna be ok?" Ryuji wondered. "Was it something we said?"
Morgana sighed. "Maybe you shouldn't have gotten pushy with him?! He just needs space." He then turned toward the men of the group. "By the way, Nekomata said we're meeting the spirits at Sankō Shrine today."
"So, it's finally that time," Ren said.
Sankō Shrine ( 三光神社 )/Tennōji, Osaka ( 天王寺区 , 大阪市 )/5:30 PM (JST)
Later in the afternoon, a gathering took place in the Sankō Shrine. The Thieves (sans Ren and Morgana) and the three gamblers met with Nekomata, who appeared before them.
"We're all here, Nekomata," Makoto addressed the spirit. "Well, most of us."
"Ren, Morgana, and Hifumi went out into town to look for Sion," Ann explained their absences.
Nodding, Nekomata replied. "I understand. I know your friends, Ren and Morgana, are heading for the Velvet Room."
"Then, there's no need for us to explain," Yusuke stated.
"So, what's the story about this shrine?" Yumeko scanned the majestic sanctuary.
"I'm glad you asked, Miss Yumeko. This shrine had a tunnel centuries ago that interconnected the Sanada Maru to Osaka Castle during the Siege of Osaka," Nekomata stated, shifting over to a statue, which Mary recognized.
"Hey, that's Sanada Yukimura!" Mary recognized the face of the statue.
"And there's a statue of Enku with him!" Ryōta pointed to the Spirit Guardian statue sitting next to the Yukimura statue.
"Indeed, these are memorial statues. This shrine was built during Emperor Hanzei's rule. At one point, it was called the Himeyama Shrine, which is also dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, and Susanoo-no-Mikoto, comprising the divine triad," Nekomata lectured the group over the shrine's historical and cultural significance.
"Thanks for the lesson, cat," Ryuji sardonically quipped.
"Hey, be nice!" Ann chided him.
"You better listen to your friend, boy. You should learn to respect your elders," a voice unfamiliar to the group interjected. The husky woman's voice revealed Mina, who walked forward with Kyosuke. Standing next to Nekomata, Mina and Kyosuke faced the Phantom Thieves and the gamblers. "Nice day, isn't it?"
Kyosuke painstakingly surveyed the Thieves and the gamblers. "I see. These are the ones who stopped the Yokai and those other monsters during the Summer Olympics' opening ceremony?"
"Seems like it! And apparently they fought the Yokai last night here!" Mina said, wildly grinning from ear to ear. An overly energetic look matched her enthusiasm meeting the Thieves and the gamblers. "You kids are really the Phantom Thieves?'
"Hey, we're not kids anymore, lady!" Ryuji frowned.
"Oh, sorry. Yeah, that black fuzz on your face does tell me otherwise," Mina smirked.
Kyosuke walked up to Yumeko, Mary, and Ryōta. Discerning the three, his sensed quickly sensed spiritual energies resonate within them. "Then, you three are the ones carrying Guardian Spirits."
"Yep, that's us! Tell me, what do you know about our Guardian Spirits?" Yumeko asked him.
"Because Mina over here also has a Guardian Spirit like you three," he motioned the gamblers toward the muscular woman.
"That's right. Then, you're the ones whose spirits we sensed," Mina approached the gamblers. She eyed Yumeko first. "I know you have the Nine-Tails spirit."
"That's right! I'm Lady Chacha's successor!" Yumeko happily replied. "I'm Jabami Yumeko! Pleased to meet you!" She extended a hand to Mina, who veered toward Mary.
"Your name, blondie?" Mina asked the other female gambler.
Feeling slighted by the 'blondie' remark, Mary frowned. "I'm Saotome Mary. My Guardian Spirits are Janomecho and Enku."
"So, that makes you Sanada Yukimura's successor then. Nice," Mina scratched her chin, turning her head and facing Ryōta. "How about you, boy?"
"I'm Suzui Ryōta! It's an honor to meet another Guardian Spirit successor! My Guardian Spirits are Genbu and Kato!" The boy politely responded to the large woman.
"Wow, you have one of the four guardians. Not bad, boy," Mina smiled.
"So, what's your Guardian Spirit, miss? Um, sorry. We didn't get your names?" Yumeko asked the muscular woman and her colleague.
"Right, I should've introduced myself. My name is Hattori Mina. My Guardian Spirit is Saoirse," she kindly replied.
"And I'm Itoshii Kyosuke." Kyosuke nodded, his stern gaze not leaving his face. "I am interested in seeing your Guardian Spirits."
"What's your Guardian Spirit?" Ryōta queried the man.
"Makami is also known as Oguchi-no-Makami. They're said to be servants of the mountain gods."
"Why don't we show y'all our spirits if you show us yours?" Mina addressed the gamblers.
"Sure. Shall we, Mary and Ryōta?" The Compulsive Gambler nodded to her two friends. With that, Yumeko, Ryōta, and Mary willfully invoked their Guardian Spirits. Kyosuke meticulously scanned each Guardian Spirit, assessing their appearances and the spiritual auras coursing outward.
"The Nine-Tails, Kato, Genbu, Janomecho, and Enku," Kyosuke acknowledged the Spiritual Gamblers' Guardian Spirits.
"Wow, you weren't kidding? Impressive. Now here's mine," Mina said as Saoirse appeared, floating around her neck and shoulders.
"Come forth, Makami," Kyosuke summoned his stag-antlered orange wolf.
"Check it out! Another wolf spirit!" Ryōta pointed out.
"Wow, incredible! They're so marvelous!" Yumeko gleamed happily, clapping her hands.
"It looks very beautiful," Haru admired its gleaming appearance.
"So, what's the story behind your Guardian Spirits?" Makoto asked the two newcomers.
Upon seeing Saoirse, Yusuke gasped. "Can it be…?"
"Yo, what's wrong, Yusuke?" Ryuji asked him.
"Perhaps, you should hear them out," Nekomata interjected as a portal of light appeared behind him.
"Whoa, check this out!" Futaba pointed everyone to three familiar spirit figures emerge from the spiritual doorway accompanied by an unfamiliar face. The group recognized William, Hide, and Hanzo, but the fourth individual wasn't even a human. The figure has a similar glossy sheen that covered the other Guardian Spirits.
"William?!" The Thieves exclaimed in unison.
"William? As in the Irishman who came to Japan in 1600?! That William?!" Ryōta cried out in disbelief.
"Seems some of you know your history," Kyosuke acknowledged the youth's ability to recognize their historical figures.
"Yes, the spirit with Mina used to belong to William! I recall those details from folklore!" Yusuke yelled out.
"Incredible, so you're William's successor just like I'm Lady Chacha's successor! That's wonderful!" Yumeko added with enthusiasm.
Proudly grinning, Mina faced William. "William coulda picked anyone, but he chose me since he says I have a similar spiritual wavelength like him."
"So, the previous Guardian Spirits pick those whose spiritual prowess matches theirs. Well, I guess Janomecho and Enku picked wisely in my case," Mary nonchalantly replied.
"You are correct in your assessment. It's an honor to meet Yukimura and Lady Chacha's successors," William acknowledged Yumeko and Mary. He turned over to Ryōta. "And you've inherited one of the four guardians. Genbu probably picked you for a good reason." The Englishman shifted over to the muscular woman with Saoirse. "Ah, and it's good to see you again, Saoirse. Have you and Lady Mina bonded well?"
"Not only have we bonded well, but I've been better able to hone my spiritual powers. If last night's battle was any indication," Mina said.
"Yes, we watched from the other side. You and Kyosuke have done us proud as successors." William appraised them genuinely.
Hanzo confronted Mina and recognized Saoirse. "You have Hattori in your name, young miss."
"Yes, but I'm not part of your bloodline."
"Yes, of course, since you are just William's successor."
William briefly listened to their conversation as Mina turned and made brief eye contact with the Englishman.
"Saoirse selected a worthy successor to my name," William acknowledged Mina's ability to utilize his former Guardian Spirit.
In response to William's praise, Mina gave a quiet and subtle smile.
Hide approached Kyosuke. "Likewise with you, Kyosuke. That means the blood transfer from me to you was a success. Hopefully, you'll control your power as a Shifter." When Kyosuke responded with a bow, he smiled.
"And you three have shown us greater potential. With time, you could outdo your spiritual wielding predecessors," the fourth individual with a bleating sound akin to a goat addressed the three gamblers. Mixed with a meh sound, the figure's tone was cordial. "It's a pleasure to meet you, young successors."
When the figure revealed himself, the group was taken aback. The fourth individual was not a man, but a bipedal white goat with a hunch in his back. Three yellow eyes and a pair of glasses made up the figure's goat face. Centered on the forehead is one large eye; the other two eyes are on opposite sides of the face. Jutting backward on top of his head are goat horns coupled with three small brown bags hanging down from these horns. Wearing the tuft of chin fur like a beard, it helped exude a sage presence from the goat spirit. He has on a green robe with a red shirt and black hakama pants underneath.
"A talking goat?!" Yumeko exclaimed.
"But, you're a spirit that can talk?" Ryōta was taken aback by the bipedal goat.
"I am Hakutaku. I was once a Guardian Spirit for Takenaka Hanbei. Of course, there are spirits such as Nekomata and I who can communicate sentiently." The sage goat answered the young man.
Mary added. "He's right. Janomecho has communicated with me, but no one else can. Yumeko and Ryōta can vouch for me."
The Compulsive Gambler nodded. "Yeah, you're right! I couldn't hear anything your spirit said when it talked to you, Mary!"
"How are you doing, Hakutaku?" Nekomata asked the goat spirit.
"Hmmm, my back sometimes kills me, but other than that I'm still me!"
"But, you're a spirit. You shouldn't have back problems?" Ann pointed out.
"Hahah, yes that much should be true, but even spirits can still feel pain when corrupt energies taint the spiritual plane," Hakutaku stated.
"So, you've summoned us here. As you already know, we stopped the Yokai and Lost monsters attack last night," Makoto informed Mina, Kyosuke, and the spirits. "There has to be more of a reason than us fighting monsters in Osaka. Why are we here?'
"Please, we'd like to know," Haru said.
William offered them insight into their situation. "The battles with the Yokai and those Lost creatures are just the beginning wave of attacks sent to test you. The source you've been searching for is here and is somewhere monitoring your actions."
Futaba asked. "Who's this source?"
Hide answered. "The source is not from this dimension, but he might've come from another world."
Makoto discerned Hide's assertion. "Perhaps the same world Sion came from?"
"That's a possibility, Niijima Makoto," Nekomata replied. "However, we don't know who this individual is. It's none I recall in the past."
"And I don't know who it is either. Whoever this source is, there's a greater power behind this individual," William said without prior knowledge on this source's history. "That is why it's paramount you Phantom Thieves and the three Guardian Spirit wielders further your investigation progress."
Mina openly addressed the Thieves and the three gamblers. "You also have Kyosuke and me to assist you. After all, our Guardian Spirits and spiritual powers can add some support in the forthcoming battles."
Kyosuke nodded. "Yes, we won't let you down."
Yumeko happily accepted their help. "Thanks, you're so kind!"
Ryōta smiled. "Looks like we'll be watching those two in action soon."
Mary folded her arms. "I suppose we will."
Hanzo then advised the Thieves and their entourage. "Be vigilant, my friends. The enemy is fully aware you're here and will send another wave of Yokai as well as these other monsters to slow you down."
William concurred with his ninja colleague. "Tomorrow could very well be when you'll see another battle."
Nekomata asserted. "And be sure the young man who came from the other world helps you. He could be crucial in helping you understand this entity."
"Looks like Sion has a greater purpose than we thought," Ann said to the others.
"I hope Hifumi can track him down," Haru muttered.
"I wonder what answer Igor and Lavenza can provide Ren," surmised the young Niijima woman.
Umeda ( 梅田 )/Kita-ku, Osaka ( 北区 , 大阪市 )/6:07 PM (JST)
Having spent the better part of the day alone, Sion was able to clear his mind from last night's battles. Ignoring every passerby walking his way, the Revenant mentally focused in his own personal bubble.
Then, an older gentleman walked right into Sion without looking.
"Oh, dear. Sorry about that, youngster!" The older man apologetically bowed as Sion smiled and let him by.
At that moment, a flood of images quickly flashed in Sion's mind. Grabbing his forehead, his face contorted occupied with heavy panting. Quick flashes of an obscured figure meticulously gazing at a large stasis tank. Inside this tank, a youthful man curled up in a fetal position slept waiting to be released.
"What the hell was that?" Sion muttered, walking away as a couple of bystanders moved away to avoid unwinding him. His instincts then kicked into overdrive as he whipped around and saw a hand reach for him. His tense look faded the second he faced Hifumi.
"Sion, there you are. I've been looking for you," she said with relief while huffing, indicating she had been out looking for him around the vicinity.
"I-I'm sorry I worried you."
"I understand you needed solitude, but please let me know you're stepping out."
Sion nodded and replied solemnly. "I'm sorry."
Hifumi smiled and noticed his sweaty face. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I just walked a little too fast and the heat got to me."
She pragmatically replied. "Somehow I doubt heat bothers you."
"Ok, you got me there."
"May I join you? After a little walk, we can go back to the hotel."
As Hifumi offered a hand, Sion grabbed it. "Sure. Thanks, Hifumi." He and Sion casually walked around to explore more of Osaka's sights.
Midōsuji ( 御堂筋 )/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/6:15 PM (JST)
Passing through the streets of Midōsuji, Ren and Morgana arrived outside a familiar door with blue light perpetually beaming from it. Standing outside the door, Lavenza greeted and sorted them in. As the door closed, not one passerby noticed a thing.
The Velvet Room ( ベルベット・ルーム )
"I see that things are going well for your new adventure." Igor addressed Ren and Morgana.
"Yeah, my friends just contacted me and we've learned the source is here in Osaka," Ren stated. "That's why I'm here if you know anything about our enemy."
"We need to know so we can confront and stop the source from releasing any more monsters," Morgana pleaded.
"What you need to know is to be warned." Igor vaguely replied. "You're crossing over into a reality different from Mementos and the Palaces you've encountered. This reality will offer you crucial answers. Ones linked to your Revenant ally."
Ren nodded. "I'm aware based on the info my friends got from the spirits."
"However, there's another."
Morgana queried Igor. "What do you mean 'another'?"
"There is a familiar essence we felt similar to the Holy Grail," Igor referenced an almighty entity familiar to Ren and Morgana.
Hearing this, Ren was aghast and yelled. "Don't tell me that Yaldabaoth or at least some form of him has returned?!"
"We cannot confirm that yet," Igor stated, calmly answering the Phantom Thief. "My assumption is it has been connected to the perpetrator behind these events."
"First, this being has been using a power called Amrita and now this source might be connected to that control god we fought four years ago?!" Morgana exclaimed, nodding in utter disbelief. "None of this adds up!"
"Then that means the game has just been renewed, but on a different scale." Lavenza stated.
Calming himself, Morgana regained some resolve. "Needless to say, we fought that deity before and we're sure we can beat something like him again."
"Mona's right, we'll make things go right our way," Ren firmly said.
Widening a big smile beneath his beak nose, Igor chuckled. "I'm glad to see your resolve remain strong after these couple of years."
"And we're proud to assess your needs," Lavenza bowed.
"Thanks, and we'll do our best," Ren said, lifting his glasses from the bridge of his nose.
Outside the Umeda Sky Building ( 梅田スカイビル )/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/6:44 PM (JST)
Standing Akechi and Sumire's way is the stunning twin office towers landmark joined together at the top by a massive platform-like formation. They left after admiring the rooftop view.
"Doesn't the Floating Garden Observatory give us a great view of Osaka, Sumire?"
"It does. It's so beautiful to look at from above," the red-haired young woman eyed the garden rooftop.
"But, what's not so beautiful is the source possibly linked to the Holy Grail," he muttered, garnering Sumire's attention.
"The Holy Grail?"
"You know about Yaldabaoth, correct?"
Sumire responded apprehensively. "Yes, Ren-senpai and the others stopped him four years ago."
"He would've taken control of society if not for the Phantom Thieves. We'd be worse off now if the God of Control continued the course to mankind's collapse."
"But, Yaldabaoth is gone, right?"
The former junior detective had an uncertain outlook on the situation. He felt similar vibe readings linked to the Demiurge's presence.
"Even Amamiya Ren must be aware. No, I know he must be looking into this."
"Does that mean we're getting closer to Ren-senpai?"
"I think we are, Sumire. In fact, I think we'll run into them very soon," he stated with tense determination.
RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka/Osaka ( 大阪市 )/10:45 PM (JST)
It was late evening. After a long day of outings, the Thieves, Hifumi, Sion, and the gamblers turned in for the night. They reserved several rooms and split to share the costs of their rooms.
Ren, Ann, and Morgana occupied a room. Makoto and Haru shared a room. Hifumi and Sion occupied another room. Yumeko and Mary dwelled together with the latter putting up with the Compulsive Gambler's antics. Ryōta shared a room with Ryuji. Yusuke and Futaba occupied a room together.
As everyone fell asleep, an unknown force lured their cognitive minds from their bodies and pulled them out. Being pulled away from the physical universe, their minds shifted into a purely cognitive realm while their physical bodies rested: the dream universe.
 
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