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[11:12] <PersonaGM> [Persona: A Study in Velvet, Chapter One: The Panther, the Worm and the War Criminal, Session One. Covering Week One, from the 9th of April to the 15th of April.-
[11:12] <PersonaGM> […-
[11:12] <PersonaGM> [The group ended up emerging from the Amnelid portal back into the temple school, with the portal closing behind them, revealing Adrien had joined them, much to the group's 'delight'.-
[11:12] <PersonaGM> [On emerging back into the real world, the group realised three things:-
[11:12] <PersonaGM> [Hours had passed. In fact, gone was Friday evening; here was Saturday afternoon instead.-
[11:13] <PersonaGM> [Secondly, the moment they left the Library, their strange outfits vanished, as did any goo or blood from the worm. Instead they were back in what they'd been wearing before they entered. This was followed by an intense, bone-deep spike in exhaustion that had all of them craving their beds.-
[11:15] <PersonaGM> [Finally, they found Yi Ji-Hu, grimy and scuffed up, wandering the temple school in an exhausted daze trying to find them. She'd lost track of time in a major way. On catching sight, she launched herself at Hideki and gasped through tears how worried she'd been.-
[11:15] <PersonaGM> [There was no sign of their black-masked aggressor.-
[11:15] <PersonaGM> [Still, the path was clear.-
[11:16] <PersonaGM> [Back to the dorms. Hideki took Ji-Hu home, then joined the rest at 5 Soejima, where they would fall into their beds, no matter how much they might want to quiz Roy on what was going on.-
[11:17] <PersonaGM> [That night, they slept dreamlessly and deep…-
[11:17] <PersonaGM> […-
[11:18] <PersonaGM> [Sunday the 8th of April. Roy sat, waiting in the dorm living room for their scheduled meeting. There was a lot to cover, after all. Now all that had to happen were for those who hadn't yet arrived to… arrive.]
[11:28] * Hideki slouched down the stairs and into one of the livingroom's mismatched chairs, stretching his legs out and stifling a yawn. It had been a long night. A long morning, too. Even though he had managed to get a little sleep, he didn't feel all that rested. Too many things in his mind. -
[11:30] <Hideki> "Mornin' Bro. Er, Griffin." The weird part wasn't talking to the cat. He'd done that since his very first day in the dorm! No, the weird part was expecting the cat to answer back now.
[11:31] <PersonaGM> ["Call me Roy."]
[11:33] <Ai> The way Ai went down the stairs was almost charitably called… melting down it. In fact, the whole affair was weirdly both indulgently childish, and tired. She still had long-sleep blah going on, and was just. Sitting on the final flight of stairs. Sort of scooching down in a slow-mo 'freefall'. One. Step. After. Another. …And actually sat at the last one to yawn dramatically, before finally walking over to the living room… and… trying, desperately, to think of a chair she even liked.
[11:35] <Hideki> "Yeah, all right, Roy." Hideki briefly checked his phone for messages before glancing up and nodding at Ai.
[11:36] * Dinah pushed in the front door of the dorm building, walking in carrying a small bottle of milk in one hand and a microwavable breakfast bowl in the other, both items coming from the little market down the road. Thankfully, they had a microwave for use by customers. From the small walk, it seemed that she had already eaten about half of it. Kicking the door closed behind her, she made her way over to the couch and flopped down on it, instantly propping her feet up on the table before her.-
[11:37] <Dinah> "Mornin', JC." She spared the cat a look before forking out another bit of eggs and bacon into her mouth and chasing it with a sip of milk. The only greeting the rest of them got was a slight lift of the bottle, as if in a toast.
[11:38] <PersonaGM> ["Good morning, but you'll want to start calling me Roy from now on."]
[11:39] <Dinah> "Nope." She said simply, sniffing after another bite of her bowl. "You're still a cat. Still a jerk. Hence, JC."
[11:40] <PersonaGM> ["I'm neither, and the reason you think I'm a jerk is because you tried to look at my dick without permission."]
[11:41] * Hideki burst out laughing. "Seriously? And he's the jerk?"
[11:42] <Ai> "C'mon, if you tease the cat too much he'll …" She finally settled on some kind of couch and… "You know I actually thought about not doing that, so. Yeah." Beat. "…Also there's some identity baggage and… uh."
[11:42] * Ai eventually just curled up on the couch, taking two thirds of its entire space.
[11:43] <Dinah> "Something that could have been avoided if you just told me what you were." She pointed her fork at him accusingly, lifting a brow afterward. "Hence, jerk."
[11:43] <Sachiko> Sachiko exited the elevator at roughly the same moment, dark circles under her eyes suggesting that either she hadn't slept, or hadn't slept enough. Still, a quick glance around the room showed a distinct lack of Adrien, which seemed to improve her mood a fraction.-
[11:43] <Sachiko> She ignored the conversation entirely and lowered herself into whatever chair was still available.
[11:44] * Ai luxuriantly rolled around on the couch at the continued arguing, facing the seatback for at least a moment, making a low whine.
[11:44] <PersonaGM> ["Yes, because I should just go around telling people who I really am for no good reason. That's absolutely a thing that works out."-
[11:45] <PersonaGM> ["Next thing I know you're trying to talk to all cats because you think you're Doctor Doolittle and they lock you up in crazytown for good. No thanks."-
[11:46] <PersonaGM> [The thread of the conversation was suddenly broken, however, as the front door kicked open.-
[11:47] <PersonaGM> [Standing there framed in the light was Adrien, who looked tired as they did, but didn't seem to let it affect his mood whatsoever. "Goooooood morning!"-
[11:47] * Ai curled even tighter. "Mouuu, too loud…" Though there was a tone of mild dread that she knew exactly who that'd be.
[11:47] <PersonaGM> ["Haha, wow, what a dump!" Said Adrien with a laugh. "I love it!"-
[11:49] <PersonaGM> [As Adrien approached the gathering, they'd notice the two large brown bags under his arms… And before long the smell. Oh yes, the smell. The deep, greasy, sinfully enticing smell of fast food fried chicken.-
[11:51] <PersonaGM> [He popped the bags down on the coffee table and settled into the lone recliner. "I stopped by Super Chikin Fry on the way over. You're all welcome to eat as you like." He said graciously. "Just save me the drumsticks, I'm more of a leg person."]
[11:58] <Dinah> Dinah was about to say something else to JC when Adrien showed up, drawing a groan of annoyance from her. With a glance to her fork and then him, she seemed to consider something before finishing her bowl. The comment about being a 'leg person' saw her scowl somewhat, surreptitiously bringing her feet to settle on the floor, rather than being stretched out on the table.-
[11:59] <Dinah> Looking back to JC, she frowned, gesturing slightly with her bottle. "Did you invite him?"
[12:00] <PersonaGM> ["Yeah. We kind of have to."]
[12:01] <Ai> "…Eh?" Ai said, only very slowly rolling around to start cautiously reaching for chicken. …Oh there had better be boneless…
[12:01] <Dinah> With a glance to Adrien and then the cat, she narrowed her eyes. "Do we, though?"
[12:02] * Sachiko nodded her agreement.
[12:02] <PersonaGM> [There was no boneless. Sorry, Ai.-
[12:02] <PersonaGM> [There were chips though.-
[12:03] <PersonaGM> ["I mean, Hideki and I were the only ones to see him emerge, but you know he was in the Library of the Endlings too, right? And he followed us out? And he's a Persona user?" Said Roy.-
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["This is a meeting of Persona users. Hence here he is." Said Roy.-
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["Not just any Persona user. I'm a wild card." Said Adrien. He cracked open one bag and began pulling out legs of delicious chicken to chow on.]
[12:06] <Ai> "Wild card…?" Ai repeated, sighing and grabbing a bit of chicken breast and carefully trying to test its structure with some bites and tugs. "…I mean…"
[12:07] <Hideki> "No, that's good. Let's start with that." Hideki slowly sat up. "What exactly is this wild card thing?"
[12:09] <PersonaGM> ["You know how you have your Persona, right?" Said Roy. "Personae take on certain trappings. That means that whilst they're powerful, they tend to be focused around certain roles or abilities. That means they have their own limitations and weaknesses."-
[12:10] <PersonaGM> ["A wild card is someone who can hold multiple Personae within themselves and swap between them at will. Basically, he's extremely versatile and can adapt to almost any situation."]
[12:12] <Sachiko> "Not worms, apparently," Sachiko said.
[12:13] <PersonaGM> ["Oh, I killed my first worm." Said Adrien. "It was the second one that got me."]
[12:13] <Sachiko> "I don't see how that changes my point."
[12:14] <Ai> "…To be perfectly honest, once we got the persona thing going, the. The worm crumpled pretty hard on a single-sona four-v-one. …And didn't really … uh. Put out much damage? I mean I didn't get hurt, so… And I. I could feel some stuff I didn't need to use … but…" -
[12:15] <Ai> Chomp. "…Moreover, why even is he one? Why is it so different? Are there advantages to NOT being one? Didn't you say ours were weird?"
[12:18] <PersonaGM> ["The worms change weaknesses constantly." Said Adrien patiently. "That makes them hard to fight unless you can keep up with those changes. I was simply out of puff by the end of my first fight." He stripped a leg clean and dropped it back on the plate.-
[12:20] <PersonaGM> ["'Why' is a good question that I can't answer." Said Roy. "I don't know why he is one, and I don't know why wild cards are different, only that they are."-
[12:20] <PersonaGM> ["As for advantages…? I guess there's less pressure to not being a wild card. And as for yours, yeah, I think yours are weird but I don't know how yet."-
[12:21] <PersonaGM> [Roy batted at the box of chicken and pulled a thigh piece out.]
[12:23] * Ai seemed… disappointed by that answer, and grabbed some of the less bone-panic side item. Chew.
[12:24] <Hideki> "Alright. So, if no one can answer 'why', then what about 'how'? How did you get to that weird dimension last night, Blondie? How did you get a Persona? How long have you been doing this?"
[12:26] <PersonaGM> ["Uhh. I was… With you guys." Said Adrien. "I was asked to go along to meet with Yi as part of the Conspiracy. Then we all saw that top hat guy, got swallowed by the black butterflies, then we followed Dinah down, the worm attacked and everyone ran away?"-
[12:26] <PersonaGM> ["Then I awoke to my power, killed the worm… Then got ambushed by another and got ate."-
[12:27] <PersonaGM> ["Ahh." Roy paused from his cat-mauling of a thigh to look up. "Consider that a demonstration of why you don't want to be swallowed by the Amnelids. You all forgot he was with you guys because it got him."]
[12:29] * Ai narrowed her eyes at Roy, yet. Sort of looked past him? …It was as if she was suddenly mildly cross at the universe, but only looked at Roy because he spoke before she pondered the cruelty of the world. "… …Right."
[12:29] <Dinah> Dinah reached into the box to grab a thigh piece of chicken as well, the breakfast bowl not being enough to fill her up. Ripping into it with her teeth, she grunted at what was said. "That's not a very good example."-
[12:31] <Dinah> Waiting a few moments, she looked straight at Adrien then, frowning. "Still doesn't explain why you swore you knew us before all that."
[12:32] <PersonaGM> ["Huh?"]
[12:32] <Ai> "…Did he? Didn't do that with me…" Ai thought. "…Wait. Waaaaait. If that place erases people… maybe there was someone that … caused him to know you who disappeared? …But then wouldn't /he/ forget because he hadn't awakened…"
[12:32] <Ai> The irritation-at-no-person soon turned to worried confusion.
[12:33] <Dinah> "First day." She gestured to herself and Sachiko, looking back to him. "Ran up to us, yelling our names like we were best buddies."
[12:33] <Sachiko> "It's easy," Sachiko said. "He was lying."-
[12:33] * Sachiko gave Adrien a cold look. "Right?"
[12:34] <PersonaGM> [Adrien had the decency to look a little ashamed.-
[12:35] <PersonaGM> ["I mean, lying is a mean word. I was simply trying to be proactive about making friends. I mean did I look you both up in the academic diary first? Yes. Of course. That's what it's for. And did I maybe ask around about all the g- people in the class? Naturally. As you can see… Initiative!"-
[12:35] <PersonaGM> ["It didn't work, but, oh well." He cleaned off another leg.-
[12:36] <PersonaGM> [Roy, meanwhile, had leapt up onto the couch back and put a paw on Ai's head. "Don't overthink it, ok? That doesn't help either."]
[12:36] * Ai then sat up more fully, cheeks puffed up and the hand not holding her chicken breast chunk waggling with some dismay! …Which she slowed down a bit when Roy patted her head. She slumped back down, yet… -
[12:39] <Ai> "Adrien Delacour maybe now you'll understand the importance of not assuming intimacy when it's not previously offered, like I made as my condition of the alliance, right?" She was suddenly way… more wordy than usual, brow knit in concentration. "That's called gaslighting, it's… it's been in the news here and there, how people say false things to make others believe it's true and question reality! That m-might not have been an outright lie but it… D-do you see now? I don't care how many tries it takes, I'm. I'm gonna be right about something and listened to sometime!" Flail, huff… and then Ai slumped further, cheeks starting to flush. -
[12:39] <Ai> "S… sorry. I shouldn't have those outbursts…"
[12:40] <PersonaGM> ["Yes, yes. Lesson learned, Yoshino."-
[12:41] <PersonaGM> [Then his eyes narrowed. "Say, Yoshino, did you stop and ask Hidecchin if he wants some chicken?"]
[12:42] <Ai> "…Nobody asked anybody about it but you?" Ai said, confused. "…I left a breast and thigh… uh. Right? …" She pouted, though more legitimately upset than sulkily. "I-is this some kind of revenge…?"
[12:42] <Ai> "A-and you were the host. And thank you for the food. And…"
[12:42] * Sachiko rolled her eyes at the 'admission' and leaned back a little. "I'm done talking about Delacour. You promised us the rest of the information, Roy."
[12:42] <Ai> She stopped there, despite the trail-off.
[12:43] <PersonaGM> [Adrien settled back to watch Ai with eyes of languid amusement before turning back to the rest of the group.-
[12:44] <PersonaGM> [Roy leapt back onto the coffee table. "Yeah, I agree. What did you want to know about specifically?"]
[12:46] * Hideki had looked confused for a minute, but then he smirked a little, brushing the matter off by reaching for one of the final pieces of chicken. A thigh.
[12:51] <Sachiko> "Let's start simple," she said. "You want us to serve a purpose, as far as I can tell. Explain what that might be."
[12:52] <PersonaGM> ["Simple, ha."-
[12:55] <PersonaGM> [Roy took a mouthful of chicken and then sat. "I explained the basics down in the Library, but to recap… The Sea of Chaos is this huge… metaphysical space that exists 'below' the real world. It's a collective pool of human thought and emotion. Most of it is unfocused mess, which we call 'miasma', and can thus be shaped by perception and willpower. But sometimes, emotions of a similar kind meet up and combine to form a Shadow, which is a concentrated form of thought, emotion, idea, whatever."-
[12:56] <PersonaGM> ["One of the easiest ways to concentrate thought in the Sea of Chaos is to repress it. You can kind of think of the Sea of Chaos being home to everything we mentally repress. But repressed stuff demands to be acknowledged, and because it's such a powerful driving force, it's driving the Sea of Chaos upwards into our real world."-
[12:57] <PersonaGM> ["As miasma leaks into the real world, it becomes more like the Sea of Chaos. Reality becomes more suggestible to perception. Eventually nature starts breaking down, and then everything sinks into the Sea of Chaos. That's bad."-
[12:58] <PersonaGM> ["Thirty years ago, I and some other Evokers sealed the Sea of Chaos away from reality, or what we call the 'Waking World'. That protected us, but in the last year the seal's been getting steadily weaker."-
[12:59] <PersonaGM> ["That means the Sea of Chaos is trying harder to surge into the Waking World, and someone needs to stop it. I can't do it by myself, so I want you guys on side."]
[13:04] <Dinah> "Why us?" She took another bite of her chicken, frowning and leaning back in her seat somewhat.
[13:06] <Ai> Ai paused. "…Are you actually at all responsible for us awakening?" She asked, if with a … honestly weak, shy voice. She clearly was still upset. "It… it seems like 'no', actually."
[13:09] <PersonaGM> ["I'm not." Said Roy. "Which is why the 'why us' answer is simple: because I need Evokers, and you guys are it."]
[13:11] <Sachiko> "Do we need to be?" Sachiko asked. "I'm not saying I won't do it, just that… of the five of us that entered the library, all five found Personas. Is it that hard to find new candidates?"
[13:11] * Ai nodded. "…As much as waking up, going to school, and saving the world isn't uh, what we asked for…" She lowered her head. "It feels… right. T… to me anyway," Her eyes settled a bit on everyone else there - notably not Roy though - as if embarrassed to admit it. "I think there's a 'coincidence' afoot."
[13:12] <Ai> The last, as an answer to Sachiko while staring at the floor.
[13:12] <Sachiko> "Maybe."
[13:13] <PersonaGM> [Roy shook his head. "I don't know if that'd work. I'm not going to throw people into the library, that's attempted murder."-
[13:15] <PersonaGM> ["Miss Asahina and I do our best to keep students from lodging here. She works at the school, so she kind of has an 'in' on this stuff. What I do know is that Sophia kind of has a will of its own, and sometimes it chooses people. I don't know why."-
[13:16] <PersonaGM> ["But the fact that you guys arrived here at this dorm, despite all we do, suggests that you were chosen. Or that you volunteered, in some subconscious way."]
[13:21] <Hideki> "Huh. You're making this school sound pretty mystical. But I'm in. Even if there's a chance of being disappeared or turned into a cat." Hideki let a clean chicken thighbone clink softly against a plate.
[13:22] * Ai actually turned to Hideki with a … look of shock. As if he had said something she didn't expect. …But then she smiled warmly for a moment. "…I have a theory - pleasedon'tgroan - about that."
[13:25] <PersonaGM> ["I'll groan," Said Adrien, "But only if your 'theory' is obviously a hypothesis and not a theory."]
[13:26] <Sachiko> "And of course you're a pedant on top of everything else," Sachiko said. "Of course."
[13:26] <PersonaGM> ["Didn't think you of all people would want to discuss all the things I'm on top of…"]
[13:27] <Sachiko> "I feel like that would be a short conversation."
[13:28] <PersonaGM> ["It'd be surprisingly long-"-
[13:28] <PersonaGM> ["Ai, please continue." Said Roy.]
[13:28] <Ai> "Aaaadrien don't make me buy steeltoed boots just to kick your balls in…" She had a very scrunched '>.<' expression. "Look. Okay. Did anyone meet a weird long-nosed elf that did a tarot reading for you in a hazy blue room?"
[13:33] <Dinah> Dinah frowned a little at the mention of the man from her dream and nodded. "Yeah. I almost punched his assistant."
[13:33] <PersonaGM> [Adrien rolled his eyes.]
[13:37] <Hideki> "Oh right! The Assistant. And the Elf guy. I remember."
[13:38] * Sachiko sighed. "… Yeah, I guess."
[13:39] <Ai> "What, why. His assistant's pretty." She said with a visible pout. "… …Wait. Elf's name is Igor. …But … So you did." Then an important look at Roy, and Adrien. "…And you two? Adrien isn't a resident so he might be outside of this 'coincidence' zone. But if I mentioned this, Igor guy, then… You should know what I'm guessing at."
[13:41] <PersonaGM> ["I mean of course I did." Said Adrien, starting on a third bone.-
[13:41] <PersonaGM> [But Roy looked confused. "I… Don't know what you mean."]
[13:43] * Ai gauged Adrien, critically, clearly a bit too preoccupied with his behavior to go after Roy immediately. In fact… "…That's worrying, Roy." But then, to Adrien! "…What card did he draw for you?"
[13:45] <PersonaGM> [Roy and Adrien said it at the same time- "The Fool."]
[13:46] <Dinah> The question raised by Ai had Dinah frown, as if it was obvious. "Why? Because he was annoying as shit." The conversation had shifted to Adrien by now, however, and the card that had been drawn for him. "Hey, at least someone's was right."
[13:47] * Sachiko was watching all of this with utmost curiosity.
[13:47] <PersonaGM> ["I'm always happy I can rely on you for the most obvious lame follow-ups, Dinah." Said Adrien. "Let me school you on what the Fool represents: the protagonist."-
[13:48] * Sachiko started laughing.
[13:49] <Ai> "I w-was hoping it… and you… But." She sighed. "…You played it off so casually I thought y- … w…" …She actually yelled in frustration and threw her chicken bone at him when he said that. "NO. I don't care if it's right, I'm not letting you do this!"
[13:49] <PersonaGM> ["Gah! Flee, Roy! The otaku has gone mad!" Squawked Adrien. He upended his plate, grabbed a chicken bone out of the air and pegged her in the forehead with it.]
[13:51] <Ai> "Uwaaa! Mean! Super mean!" …A huff. "…Just don't be egotistical and we'll be fine." She sighed, putting the chicken bone in a part of the bag that was empty. "…Mine was Justice. It was reversed though. …BEcause of course, yanno? Beginning of the story and everything sucks."
[13:52] <PersonaGM> ["Well don't be a bossy little know-it-all who likes to throw animal parts around." Muttered Adrien, collecting the rest of his chicken.]
[13:55] <Hideki> "Hey! So… can we focus a little bit? Stop throwing stuff and insults around? We're here for a reason." -
[13:57] <Hideki> "Yoshino, why bring up the weird dreams? Are you going somewhere with this? Or are you just illustrating that they're connected to the whole Persona-miasma-library thing?"
[13:59] <Ai> "B-because I think Igor's why we all got personas at once. I mean, he lives in the upstairs room, doesn't he? …Sorta. HE's probably not really in there… But. And then if Roy who knows nowthing about it can answer about Adrien's card, th-then tarot cards are important for Persona stuff! So that's another thing. That… that's what i meant by that not-really 'coincidence' reference, you know?" She shook her head. "A-and the butterflies. Lots of blue glowy stuff, and Igor's fairy lounge was like… blue city. Blue central."
[14:04] <Hideki> "Ok, noted. Not a bad thing to keep in mind. But we don't know enough about his lounge to really investigate the guy or his sexy assistant futher. We also don't know if he lives in this building, although we could find out by going into that room on the 5th floor."
[14:05] <PersonaGM> ["That room's just a study dedicated to topics about the Sea of Chaos." Said Roy.-
[14:06] <PersonaGM> ["Hey, listen. I know there's a lot of stuff going on, but I want to bring us back to the earlier topic. Evokers, stopping the miasma, saving reality?" Said Roy. "Sorry for being pushy, but I need to know in no uncertain terms: in or out?"]
[14:07] <Ai> "…In! I said in. …I know I was yelling a lot but. Yes!" She waved her arms emphatically!
[14:13] <Sachiko> Sachiko aimed a doubtful look at the other students, but found herself nodding anyway. "I'll do it."
[14:15] <Hideki> "Same. Can we have access to the study and the basement?"
[14:16] <Dinah> Dinah looked to Adrien for a moment and sighed, glancing back to Roy and crossing her arms over her chest. "Fine. I'm in. A steady assortment of things to beat the shit out of. Can't be too mad at that. Even if he's with us."
[14:17] <PersonaGM> [Adrien very clearly and openly spoke the word, "lol."-
[14:18] <PersonaGM> ["But I'm in, too, of course." Said Adrien, and the smirk fell from his face. "This is serious stuff. Like… We're talking about the world. There are other times to let ourselves get in the way of doing things- this isn't one of those times."-
[14:21] <PersonaGM> ["Good." Said Roy. He grinned, which looked very weird on a cat.-
[14:21] <PersonaGM> ["You can access the study, but the basement is where I and Miss Asahina live, so please stay out."-
[14:22] <PersonaGM> ["Which brings us to our most pressing issue… Mr. Asaka." Said Roy.]
[14:23] <Sachiko> "Right," Sachiko nodded. "Explain how he relates to… all of this."
[14:24] * Ai sat to listen. She …honestly looked a bit shy, as if she was aware of how much she'd been vomiting theorycraft.
[14:27] <PersonaGM> ["So Shadows. They're concentrated emotion and thought, pushed together by repression, right?" Said Roy.-
[14:28] <PersonaGM> ["Most Shadows you encounter will be wild Shadows, made up of just general miasma. Rising from the run-off of all of humanity."-
[14:29] <Ai> "Psycho-sewage…" Ai quietly muttered to herself.
[14:29] <PersonaGM> ["A cache that cannot be blasted." Muttered Adrien in return.-
[14:30] <PersonaGM> ["The problem is that when it comes to Shadows, the more concentrated and pure the emotion, and the more focused the repression, the more powerful the Shadow." Said Roy, heedless of the two mutterers. "So what if you made a Shadow purely out of the emotions of a single person? Wrapped up in that person's repression?"-
[14:31] <PersonaGM> ["Sheer, concentrated Shadow. And that means power. Immense power." Said Roy.-
[14:32] <PersonaGM> ["What's more, that Shadow has a direct connection to its creator. A psychic, metaphysical bond. The two are the sides of the same spiritual coin."-
[14:33] <PersonaGM> ["Now remember what I said about perception shaping reality? That goes double in the Sea of Chaos. What if someone were to draw the attentions of a lot of people onto a person's dark side? Suddenly all people think about when they think of that person is, effectively, their Shadow."-
[14:34] <PersonaGM> ["The host tries to repress harder, but the Shadow grows stronger off all the attention, and starts feeding back into the host. Over time, the host starts to be replaced by their Shadow."-
[14:36] <PersonaGM> ["We call these Shadows 'Archetype Shadows'." Said Roy. "And so long as an Archetype exists, it acts as a bridge between the Sea of Chaos and reality, pushing miasma into the Waking World through the host."-
[14:36] <PersonaGM> ["And if the Shadow isn't handled quickly enough? It conquers the host's personality. All that remains is the Archetype- a living monster wearing a human skin, able to walk around in the real world, with most of their power at their fingertips."-
[14:36] <PersonaGM> [Roy took a bite of chicken.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> ["When Yi filmed that fight with Asaka, she put a magnifying glass over Asaka's dark side. Long story short, he's created an Archetype Shadow."]
[14:40] * Ai Ai had listened intently… up until the bit about the miasma, the monster in human skin, came. Where… it was clear what Roy was going to say. And then he said it. At which point a look of abject horror fell onto Ai's face, and… and it was like she just checked out of reality for a moment. Or, well. Her eyes looked about the part. "… oh no." she said, in a small voice.
[14:44] <Sachiko> "How do you know?" Sachiko asked.
[14:46] <PersonaGM> ["Good question. There's a tool in the study that measures miasma levels. A spike like this doesn't happen out of nowhere. I looked at the likely suspects and this was the only event that matched the time and series of events."]
[14:47] * Sachiko nodded. "Clever. Ok, then if that's the case, what do we actually do about it?"
[14:48] * Ai did eventually unfreeze, thankfully, and then nodded. She did still sound harrowed and worried, but was trying to push it down - you could tell. "So. …Ji-Hu accidentally…" But then Ai was starting to get another idea. "Fff, th-that means that maybe the jacket guy…"
[14:55] <Dinah> "I'm gonna guess there's some reason we can't just go beat the crap out of Asaka, right?" Dinah sniffed, scowling already in anticipation of the answer.
[14:55] <PersonaGM> [Adrien eyed Ai curiously, as though expecting her to continue.-
[14:56] <PersonaGM> ["Because the only way to destroy an Archetype by attacking the host is to murder the host." Said Roy. "And that's not something we want to do."-
[14:56] <PersonaGM> [Adrien brightened; he pointed at Ai with a chicken leg. "Au contraire-"-
[14:56] <Ai> "…Don't."
[14:57] <Ai> Yet, she then sighed. "I'll explain jacket guy hypothesis after he's done."
[14:57] <PersonaGM> [Roy sighed.-
[14:59] <PersonaGM> ["Archetype Shadows draw power from something called 'Heeds'. A Heed is a metaphysical representation of whatever lens was used in the real world to focus all that attention on the host. For us, that's Yi's smartphone, because she used it to record the video. Archetypes with Heeds have power enough to twist the Sea of Chaos around themselves. They craft… Fortresses, I guess, called 'Dream Theatres'. We need to break into their fortress and steal the Heed. Once we do that, we gain power over the Shadow."-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> ["We can kill the Shadow, which will kill the host, too. Alternatively we can reform the Shadow." Said Roy. "Alter its personality, its core elements, and change the personality of the host. We can make Asaka confess, quit his job, change his ways…"-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> ["Controlling the Heed also lets us influence the perceptions of anyone who witnessed it. They work both ways, you see." Said Roy. "So once we change the Shadow, we dissolve the Heed, the Shadow fades away, and everyone forgets all of this ever happened."-
[15:02] <PersonaGM> ["Everyone except us. Who'll be the only ones who know why Asaka's changed."]
[15:04] <Sachiko> Sachiko had started frowning midway through the explanation, and it had only deepened from there.
[15:05] <Hideki> "So we're overriding his personality?" Hideki was also frowning.
[15:07] * Ai …nodded firmly, now moving from horror into… hope. "Then that's what we'll do. And then. …Well that just proves I'm on the right track, doesn't it…?" Ai noted, before beginning her own bit. "…Quickly: I previously thought he just wanted Ji-Hu and all the other conspirators out of the way because he wanted to protect Asaka for some meanie reason. …But now… If he can do this. If he knew the library's power. If…"
[15:07] * Ai She then paused, eyes widening. "O-oh-oh wow, I. So the black butterflies? S-some kind of. Negative Igor lounge?! I. I have no proof, l=let's shelve that. BUT. I think his motive was to try to disappear some of the heed from the real world so that we can't influence as much with the one in the… theater? A-and then Asaka's shadow will be harder to stop because Ji-Hu'd be forgotten and it'd be hard to find anything to do with the original event but since the archetype was already created it'd be free to tap into his brain and turn Asaka into its gateway of horror-evil-power and… I don't know WHY anyone would do this! B-but someone in an edgy black coat and weird mask trying to unperson someone can't be trusted!"
[15:08] * Sachiko raised a hand. "Sorry, I feel like we're kind of speeding past the idea of remaking a person to suit our whims here."
[15:09] <PersonaGM> [Roy looked from Hideki to Ai to Sachiko in turn.-
[15:11] <PersonaGM> [Adrien merely mouthed 'not a hypothesis' to himself as Roy continued.-
[15:11] <PersonaGM> ["That's definitely some kind of possibility." Said Roy.-
[15:12] <PersonaGM> ["But… In regards to Asaka's personality?" Roy nodded. "We can. Yeah, we can basically remake him as we like."-
[15:13] <PersonaGM> ["I'm not saying we should." Said Roy. "What I'm saying is that almost everyone is complicated. They contain multitudes. There will be a part of Asaka's personality who hates what he does, who wishes he could be someone else. All we need to do is find and emphasise that part of his personality. In that sense, it's not so much overwriting as it is very direct therapy."]
[15:16] <Ai> "…It's messed up, yeah." Ai had to admit. "But I don't see any other real option. His dark side stuff will leak human mind ocean into the world and make it like the library down there if we don't do something. …And it's like. …I hate him. I don't understand him. …But maybe we'll understand something. And … …" She shook her head. -
[15:16] <Sachiko> "Yeah… I think that might be a bit of self-congratulatory bullshit," Sachiko said to Roy. "Real therapy is a choice."
[15:17] <Ai> "We don't have a right. But he doesn't have a right either. …I… I'm okay with making a dubious decision to save other people, and I'm not even murdering… hi…" She eventually seemed to notice Sachiko's ongoing tone. "s-sorry I'll shut up now"
[15:17] <Ai> And then proceeded to stare at the floor again.
[15:18] <Dinah> Dinah flicked her wrist dismissively at the pensive attitudes of some of the others. "It ain't like we've got much choice. Either we kill him, or we turn him into someone that isn't gonna unmake reality by being an incredible asshole." Sniffing a bit, she crossed a leg over the other. "Or we stand by and do nothing. That'll end real well. This ain't that hard."
[15:19] <PersonaGM> ["Dinah's right, Sachiko. Quit being contrarian." Said Adrien. "People are forced into therapy all the time, anyway."]
[15:20] <Sachiko> "Oh fuck off," Sachiko snapped. "It should be hard. Acting otherwise doesn't make you smart."
[15:21] <PersonaGM> ["Deciding to slow down and have big sad chats about what's right doesn't make you careful, it makes you indecisive." Said Adrien. "Kill him, fix him or let him corrupt reality. Pick one, Sachiko."]
[15:22] <Dinah> "Don't agree with me like that." She cast a glare at Adrien, her tone rather harsh.-
[15:23] <Dinah> And then her gaze went back to Sachiko, just as hard. "He locked me in a room for hours an' if it wasn't for him gettin' all up in arms about your pants, who knows how much longer I would've been in there. And that ain't the worst thing he's done. And he ain't gonna stop there. He needs an attitude adjustment."
[15:24] * Ai kept looking between the two of them, shaking her head. Thinking. Thinking about it. Dilating eyes again. Looking left and right, thinking… She kept opening her mouth and closing it again. Fidgeting.
[15:24] <Hideki> "And you get to decide that, huh? Are you for real?"
[15:27] <PersonaGM> ["Dude, it's your girlfriend he's harassing. Man up!" Said Adrien.]
[15:27] <Dinah> "We do." She gestured around to them all, scowling at him. "That's the whole point of this whole fuckin' meeting right now."
[15:31] <Hideki> "Yeah? Because it looks to me like you're saying we can't take five minutes to actually make a decision. Is reality going to disintegrate while we talk it out? For five minutes?"
[15:31] * Hideki ignored Adrian's remark entirely.
[15:32] <Ai> "No, no, no… nononono…" A familiar mantra, whispered softly. As it set in. As it… - At which point she stood up very suddenly and slammed the table, shouting. "If we do nothing everyone dies! What do you even want us to do?! I don't know! I hate this! I hate hard people making hard decisions! I hate it I hate it I…" She bit her lip, and breathed out. "We will go into the theater. We will find his shadow. We will talk to the shadow and we will go ahead and find out what to do based on that if we have to! And as much as Adrien's a total jerk and Dinah is super angry, they do have a point, It isn't, no matter what jerkface said, about being slow! It's not about failing to give solutions! -
[15:33] * Ai …was almost about to perch on the table in a defiant speech pose. "It's about a conversation that'll never end, about concerns that are real but also paralyzing us!"
[15:33] <Ai> …At which point she then just. Stood there. Hyperventilating, whining softly.
[15:35] * Sachiko looked like she was on the verge of striking Adrien.-
[15:35] <Sachiko> "No, it's about not lying," Sachiko said. "If you want to lie to yourselves and act like forcibly rewriting someone's personality isn't killing them, fine. But don't expect me to join you."-
[15:35] <Sachiko> "It's an option to make you feel better, and that's it."
[15:36] <PersonaGM> ["Cool thing to say! Hope no one in this room's ever experienced trauma. People's personalities change all the time. Did you really die the first time you lost a grandparent?" Said Adrien sarcastically.-
[15:36] * Sachiko stood and punched him square in the jaw.
[15:37] <PersonaGM> [Adrien took the hit.-
[15:38] <PersonaGM> [He reached up to touch his face, as though slightly dazed.-
[15:39] <PersonaGM> ["You get one free hit." He said. "The next time you do that, I lay you on the ground."]
[15:41] <Sachiko> Sachiko's smile was brittle and furious. "You don't know me, and you don't scare me."
[15:41] <Dinah> Dinah had stood up when Sachiko did, though she beat her to the punch. Literally. Regardless, after he spoke up, she pushed her way in and threw her own punch, likely with a lot more force than Sachiko.-
[15:41] <Dinah> "There's my free hit. Now shut the fuck up."
[15:42] <PersonaGM> ["Ug-"-
[15:42] <PersonaGM> [Adrien fell silent, a hand over his jaw. All things told, he took it pretty well.-
[15:43] <PersonaGM> [Regardless, he remained quiet.-
[15:44] <PersonaGM> ["… I think Ai might have the right idea, at least in part." Said Roy. "We don't need to make a decision now. For now, let's just focus on getting through the Dream Theatre as best we can, and see if the experience of that leads us to consensus."]
[15:45] * Ai … snapped. Again. Except this time, the reaction wasn't one last attempt to be defiant. She backed off from the table, shaking her head frantically, clutching her clothing randomly. "Stop it! Stop! Why are we doing this, what do you even want?! Not everything has to be… to be hard… th-this-is the real world, toughen up… c-crap. It's. It's… Please. Stop…" In fact, during all of that, she was backpedalling without even looking where she was going, shaking all over. Tense, tense. While she almost relaxed when Roy said that… it was honestly too late. She had backed up so far that she had tripped on a chair nobody had chosen that was closer to the walls. "E-eeek!" …And fell into it haphazardly, kind-of-sort-of sitting. -
[15:45] * Ai then just put her face in her hands and started sobbing.
[15:45] <PersonaGM> [Roy stared at Ai, then flopped onto his belly. "Maybe throwing randoms into the Library was the better course of action."]
[15:50] <Dinah> Dinah let out a slightly calming breath after the punch and the standoff, leaving Adrien with one last hard glare before turning back to Roy. "Have you done this before?"
[15:52] <PersonaGM> ["The Dream Theatre thing?"]
[15:54] <Dinah> "Yeah. The whole finding the Archetype or whatever and changing them thing." She moved to sit back down as she said it, frowning at him. "They wanna know if there's another option. You've been there, I take it. Was there one?"
[15:55] <PersonaGM> [Roy sighed. "… Not really. There's degrees to how much you change a person, I suppose. Some might think some changes more acceptable than others. But broadly speaking, it's kill or change."]
[15:56] <PersonaGM> ["Archetypes don't die, no matter how hard you beat them. There has to be some reform to happen for it to disappear." Said Roy.-
[15:56] <PersonaGM> ["… I mean, there is a third option, but it's… Pretty irresponsible." Said Roy. "We take Asaka into his own theatre and make him confront his own Shadow."]
[15:57] <Ai> "H-hows… zit irresponshible…?" Ai tried to say. She sort of choked it out. "W… will it gill im or someshing?"
[15:58] * Sachiko just sat back down again, looking eerily composed. She didn't bother looking at Adrien again, though Ai got a sidelong glance that didn't give much away.
[16:00] <PersonaGM> ["It's irresponsible because ideally, what happens is that he confronts his Shadow and comes to genuinely accept it." Said Roy. "And then it turns into a Persona, and Asaka wakens like we do."-
[16:01] <PersonaGM> ["So… That's the best outcome." Said Roy. "More likely, he rejects it harder and gives it a power boost, or it manages to overpower him and take him over, and then we have to fight that much harder."]
[16:02] <Ai> "O… oh…" But she dropped silent, even though she managed to look up again. There was a clear… sense that just thinking of that eventuality was all the worse.
[16:03] <Dinah> "I think our asshole quota for the team is more than a little full." She said bitterly, bringing a hand up to rub at the bridge of her nose. "We'll just take it one step at a time. We gotta get there and then we'll figure out what to do, I guess."
[16:05] <Hideki> "Kurata. Is that okay with you?"
[16:10] * Sachiko gave a one-shouldered shrug. "As long as we discuss things before we act."
[16:11] <PersonaGM> ["Fine." Said Adrien. "Then we all agree to go that far."]
[16:12] <Ai> "Y… yeah." Ai said, finally. "I'm sorry…"
[16:12] <PersonaGM> ["Don't be." Said Adrien.-
[16:12] <PersonaGM> ["Come over here and have some chicken."-
[16:16] <PersonaGM> [Roy shook his head. "We need to find the Dream Theatre first. For that we need two things. Think of them as a lock and a key."-
[16:16] <PersonaGM> ["First, we need the physical representation of the Heed. That's Yi's smartphone."-
[16:17] <PersonaGM> ["Secondly, every Dream Theatre has a theme, almost always drawn from literature and media. The theme ties in with the Archetype's core reasons to exist, but it's also something the host likes and identifies with. We need to figure that out. We need to know what kind of story Asaka identifies with."]
[16:20] <Sachiko> "Ok," she nodded. "Are we done?"
[16:21] <PersonaGM> ["I'll want to know a time, but I don't have anything pressing to add." Said Roy.]
[16:22] <Sachiko> "Well you know where to find me," she said, standing. "I'm going for a walk."
[16:23] <Dinah> "I got one more question before we break."-
[16:24] <Dinah> She crossed her arms across her chest again, glancing over to the Box and then to JC. "You said Box Lady is in on all this. How? And who else knows all this stuff?"
[16:25] <PersonaGM> ["Miss Asahina kind of got involved in it awhile ago. She doesn't have a Persona, but she knows what's going on. Other than that it's pretty much just the two of us- and you guys, of course. If anyone else knows about it, I don't know who they are."]
[16:29] <Ai> Ai had been staring at Adrien, as if wondering what to say about his offer, but… She instead turned to Roy. "…Whoever you had with you in the 80s is gone, aren't they? Other than her."
[16:30] <PersonaGM> ["I didn't even have Miss Asahina in the 80s." Said Roy. "She's only been here about ten years or so…"-
[16:30] <Sachiko> Sachiko wasn't precisely ignoring the conversation, but she wasn't bothering to stick around for it either. She'd begun to head for the door before Roy was even done with his explanation.
[16:31] <PersonaGM> [Adrien saw Sachiko leaving and stood.-
[16:33] <PersonaGM> ["I'll take some time in the study, then leave myself." He said. "Before I do, though… I get it. I've pissed some folks off today. I'm going to try and do better next time. I take this seriously. Regardless of how I act here, I'm going to give it my utmost in the Sea of Chaos. Even if I have to die to do it. You don't need to trust me, but you can trust my resolve to do right."-
[16:33] <PersonaGM> [He bowed, then turned and walked away.-
[16:33] <PersonaGM> [… And… Everyone else felt like they knew Adrien a little better than before.-
[16:34] <PersonaGM> [Words flitted into their minds, words that vanished from memory almost immediately.-
[16:34] <PersonaGM> [ Thou art I; I art thou.-
[16:36] <PersonaGM> [ Thou hast glimpsed a new path of thine heart, with which to rewrite your story.-
[16:37] <PersonaGM> [ The first draft of the Fortune Arcana has been written; its refinement will bring you new power in the world to come.]
[16:42] <Sachiko> Sachiko listened to both voices as well (Though she only remembered one) but she didn't slow down. She let the door swing shut behind her.
[16:49] <Dinah> As everyone else was breaking up, Dinah saw a chance to get out as well. Pulling a pack of cigarettes from her pocket, she pulled one out on her way for the door, opening it before lifting a finger to the end of it and sparking it instantly in view of the others.-
[16:50] <Dinah> Maybe she was showing off or maybe she wasn't thinking about it. But the door closed behind her afterward as she walked out, absently making her way around the side of the building to think about the things they'd discussed in the meeting.
[16:55] <PersonaGM> ["Meeting adjourned, I guess." Said Roy, looking at Ai and Hideki.]
[16:56] <Ai> "…But… why…" Ai said with a distant, small voice, again. Seemingly not at Roy's comment, but at… what had happened. …Not that she didn't sort of, notice what Dinah did on her way out. …Magic, huh…?
[17:00] <Hideki> "Yeah. That was something." Hideki regarded the literal mess left behind on the table and stood up to deal with it, tucking his phone away in his pocket.
[17:04] * Ai …gave him a kind of vaguely uncertain look, sighing.
[17:06] <Hideki> "What is it?"
[17:13] <Ai> "…You were right there in doubting it. …You weren't fighting like Sachiko so … I'm not upset with that but." She sighed, slumping into the chair even worse than she already had. "I'm stupid and can't shake feeling stressed that someone was against my side of an argument, a little." But then she furrowed her brow. "…But Adrien was a jerk and made that side of the argument even worse… It's like him and Sachiko weren't even really any different. I get th-that there are hard choices in the world. But they both sounded really into the idea that you had to grow up and be grim decision-makers. …And Sachiko seemed to not listen to anything anyone said…" -
[17:13] <Ai> But then Ai looked a bit closer at Hideki. "…You've been quiet, or even unwilling to sort of, get involved in some of this before, too. I was worried…"
[17:28] <Hideki> "Worried that, what? I'll back out?" Hideki rolled his eyes. "Listen, Yoshino. People are gonna fight. They just are. Especially this group. We don't work well together at all. You saw that last night, right?"
[17:31] <Ai> "Yeah… And my uh, worries were worse back there in the library, actually?" She said, though that eye-roll… "And yeah, I guess, but it seems so. Stupid. To like, fight that much and punch people. Why does Adrien have to be such a jerk? What happened to Sachiko that makes her super duper angry about lying… to yourself?" As if the idea of being pissed at that confused Ai a bit. "O-or that made Dinah so mad that she almost is a… punch-elemental in a human body? It's. Weird. And you kinda seemed so… nervous about the stuff in the library, though I guess that's before you knew what was at stake?"
[17:51] <Hideki> "Well, it's more because I didn't know what was going on and we were being attacked by monsters and stuff. It'd be weird if I wasn't a little nervous." Hideki set the plate of bones aside for a minute and stretched. "Adrien is desperate in all kinds of ways that I can't describe yet. And I don't claim to speak for Kurata. I know I was annoyed because we were dealing with some heavy stuff, and people were all being like, 'Ho hum, we barely know this guy, but he's a monster, so let's hurry and decide to screw with his personality without giving thought to any alternatives.' Like, just because I'm pissed at someone doesn't mean I want to rewrite their brain or kill them. I don't understand why that's a weird position to have all of a sudden, but here we are…"
[17:55] <Ai> "…Honestly I had really bad allies on that argument." Ai said … a bit too upset to be sulkily. "Dinah seems to be very very angry, and Adrien's brand of 'hard men doing hard things' uh, seems to be able just taking life sucking without question." Ai said. "…But for me, it's like. …I don't know how I can even explain how terrifying, horrifying, Asaka existing is for me, to you? …And I'm like. …I'm willing to believe Roy when he says that he and any other evokers - if there were any before… - haven't ever seen another option. We can try, that's why talking with the shadow is something I said to do. But yet, uh." -
[17:57] * Ai looked down for a second, kicking softly above the floor. "It's like. A big deal, yet. …I don't know how to describe it. Where does changing people with normal abuse or manipulation or seduction or… whatever, end… and magical personality rewriting begin? It's almost like because it's such a… show of power, that it's why it feels so wrong. And I want to make it as … safe? As I can. Even if I'm so scared of Asaka that I did uh, kinda…" She stopped, hoping she didn't have to actually admit this one.
[18:02] <Hideki> "You what? Got sick from from all worrying?"
[18:05] <Ai> "…No." Ai said, her face coloring red, and voice gaining a deep note of shame. "Remember how I lectured Adrien on a condition? …He tracked me down on break and got me and Wu to chat about how to stop Asaka. …I uh, kinda got anxious and crazy when we started brainstorming and I kinda talked about hacking computers and finding blackmail on him and uh." Fidget, fidget. "Sorta suggested killing him, in a moment of uh. …freaking out. A-and Adrien sorta mocked me for sounding crazy 'cause I did… and I didn't really mean it but …" She sighed. -
[18:06] <Ai> "The throwing up was fake…ish. I really was that stressed, but Wu suggested I try to skip other classes so I wouldn't get in too much trouble, probably thinking I'd freak out and actually breakdown or get sick or something. …So we talked about faking sickness, but I'm kinda a bad liar, so I cut out the uncertainty." -
[18:06] <Ai> "I went to the bathrooms and did uh… things… to force myself to throw up."
[18:14] <Hideki> "Hardcore. I committed a dress code violation to put him on edge and give Ji-Hu's video plot a slightly higher chance of succeeding. So looks like we're both conspiracists."
[18:21] * Ai smiled sheepishly. She felt a bit cooler for someone two years ahead of her saying that about her. "…Yeah. I did manage to, talking about hacking, give Wu the idea to look up stuff about the detention history - 'cause he figured out what I wanted was information, yanno?"
[18:26] <Hideki> "But that type of information's already being reported to the school. How would that help you guys blackmail him?"
[18:27] <Ai> "No no." Ai said, wiggling her hands. "I mean, me talking about digging up dirt for blackmail inspired him to think of information! …And I did suggest the detention records, I just thought we couldn't get at them at all."
[18:33] <Hideki> "Yeah, they're probably not handing that info out to random students, you're right."
[18:42] <PersonaGM> [There was a rustle.-
[18:42] <PersonaGM> [Roy, who had been cleaning up, went and grabbed one of the entirely untouched boxes of chicken.-
[18:43] <PersonaGM> ["I'm not a huge fan, but Miss Asahina will eat this stuff by the box." Said Roy. "Also, I'm gonna tell her your theory, Ai, and I bet she'll laugh. Peace!"-
[18:43] <PersonaGM> [And with that, Roy peaced out, bucket of chicken in mouth.]
[18:45] <Ai> "Mou…" Ai will never live it down. But. But she wanted a last word. "OMURICE ISN'T HARD TO MAKE!"

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