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[10:55] <PersonaGM> [Persona: A Study in Velvet, Chapter One: The Panther, the Worm and the War Criminal, Session Two. Covering Week Two, from the 16th of April to the 22nd of April.-
[10:55] <PersonaGM> [It wasn't long before the group was back through their mirror-portal and through to the safe lounge room on the other side.-
[10:56] <PersonaGM> [The air was already starting to change, although the full-on iron taste was yet to come.-
[10:57] <PersonaGM> ["To repeat our goals," said Roy, "We need to scout out the location of the Heed, which is probably in the safest place Shadow Asaka can find for it. He mentioned a 'Bastion of Arrogance' last time, wherever that is."]
[11:02] <Hideki> "So we wanna just ask someone for directions to this Bastion Place," Hideki mused, standing up from his velvet fainting couch. "And then head there. Simple enough."
[11:04] <Ai> "…I'd almost say." Ai noted, rolling around in Catbowl. "'no, who would even tell us'. …But I mean. We've got lots of mannequins to ask…? They're his 'enemies' after all."
[11:05] * Sachiko stood by her piano bench, fingertips tracing the top of the seat. "Everything here's an extension of Asaka's worldview, but his worldview contains a lot of enemies," she said. "It's not impossible."
[11:09] * Dinah also was conspicuously not sitting in 'her' chair, keeping a good foot or so between herself and it while crossing her arms across her chest. She gave a dismissive snort and a shrug of her shoulders. "Probably just some windowless shithole like the one he threw me into. He's real fond of that room."
[11:11] <Sachiko> "Maybe," Sachiko said. She pushed her hands into her hands into her pockets. "Won't know until we find it, though."
[11:12] <PersonaGM> ["Then let's get finding." Said Adrien, kicking the front door open and heading out.]
[11:12] <Ai> "…not quite. He might have one in it? …But a bastion is… a final fortress to stand in." Ai said, starting to stand. "We have our direction, right? We need to find a fortress that the powerful 'rebel' army uses to dispense 'justice'. It could be a giant imperial citadel… somewhere. Or it could be a hidden bunker. But it's definitely a comple-" Ai soon shuffled over to the door, whining. "Adrien! Cautious impetuousness!
[11:12] <Ai> Cautious!" She trailed enough to let the others advance, though.
[11:15] <Dinah> A harsh frown crossed her lips as Adrien kicked the door, followed by her stuffing her hands in her pockets and grumbling. "That was my job."
[11:16] <Sachiko> Sachiko actually cracked a small smile at that, falling into step beside Dinah.
[11:16] * Hideki simply advanced, in all his glittery, caped finery.
[14:25] <PersonaGM> […-
[14:25] <PersonaGM> [The city square had been cleared out of much of its grim paraphernalia, replaced by a booth of Oni and a patrolling tengu, robed in deep black with matching wings.-
[14:26] <PersonaGM> [Adrien heeded Ai's warning and dropped into the shadows, letting the rest catch up.-
[14:26] <PersonaGM> [Roy cocked his ear as the loud snorting words of the oni carried over the wind.-
[14:26] <PersonaGM> [("… Village sure is dull now they carted most of 'em off." "Pff, had it comin', they's were all helpin' the oppressors." … "No way I'm goin' in there, rebels or no, can't see shit for all the leafs and what else-" … "… Wanna ban booze down at the docks!" "What kinda madman bans booze around docks? That's the best place to get drunk!")-
[14:27] <PersonaGM> ["Leafs?" Said Roy. "Forest nearby, you think?"-
[14:28] <PersonaGM> […-
[14:29] <PersonaGM> [The forest proved to be dark, gloomy and threatening. The trees were tall, the leaves thick and dense, and the light of the sun did not reach down here.-
[14:29] <PersonaGM> [Dinah kept a fistful of fire in her hand to light the way, which didn't keep Adrien and Roy from tripping into a pit trap. The two pulled themselves out, dirty and especially disgruntled.-
[14:31] <PersonaGM> [Going deeper into the forest revealed something else, however. A group.-
[14:31] <PersonaGM> [A handful of people, wearing dirty robes and rags- four women, two men. The men were beating the women with sticks, shouting curses; the women screamed and slapped back.-
[14:32] <PersonaGM> [Naturally the group didn't hold truck with this, and stepped in.-
[14:33] <PersonaGM> [After terrifying them with Dinah (hand full of fire naturally), and Sachiko playing an ice cold good cop (of a sorts), the men, terrified, admitted that they believed the women to be traitors who'd let out the secret of the 'tunnel'.-
[14:33] <PersonaGM> [The women, of course, denied this.-
[14:33] <PersonaGM> [Ai would notice, then, that the bonds of the group were a mess.-
[14:34] <PersonaGM> [The men hated the women, and three of the women hated everyone, including the fourth woman, who seemed merely confused and scared and not hostile to anyone.-
[14:35] <PersonaGM> [Hideki called out to her, and she explained that the men felt that they were actual, literal monsters, as opposed to just being figurative monsters as it's typically used.-
[14:35] <PersonaGM> [… Which saw Ai see the bonds change slightly, the three other women growing to dislike the fourth a little more.-
[14:35] <PersonaGM> [It was Sachiko who tipped the odds.-
[14:36] <PersonaGM> [After a thorough cross-referencing that would've been at home in a court of law, she took apart their stories. The three women seemed fine, up until they denied taking the blacksmith too. The blacksmith had been missing from any other story, including the fourth woman.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> [They recognised their mistake immediately.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> ["Oh, fuck it." Said one, drawing a knife and lunging for the nearest man. He screamed, threw his stick in the air and fled.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> [A second later, the three women changed shape. Their dirty robes gave way to neat kimonos, over which they wore veils covered in bloody handprints.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> [They smirked.-
[14:37] <PersonaGM> […-
[14:39] <PersonaGM> [The last surviving Hinoenma pulled handfuls of purses out of the robes of her dead compatriots and threw them at the party. Money spilled out! Like, real money!-
[14:39] <PersonaGM> [With this act of enforced charity, the Hinoenma fled into the glooms of the forest.-
[14:39] <PersonaGM> [The mannequin men had fled, leaving only the innocent woman, who was now sitting on a fallen log, clearly shaken.]
[14:42] <Ai> …It had happened so fast. Ai was checking the bonds one minute, then the shaddows fought… and. It was done? Weird. It was as if there was some … some trouble to be had? "…Uh. …C… crap. Sorry. Was that sorta weird…?" -
[14:43] * Ai rolled her shoulders with a sigh, and moved to sit near the woman. …Gesturing vaguely as if to offer a shoulder to lean on, without making contact.
[14:44] <PersonaGM> ["T-Thanks." Said the woman, shuffling a little closer over toward Ai and flopping her head on top of Ai's shoulder. She had short, straight brown hair and brown eyes, and was in many ways pretty unremarkable. She didn't 'feel' very heavy.]
[14:45] * Sachiko stood a short distance away, drumming her fingers against her forearm. "Anyone else feel like there was pressure opposing them when we attacked?"
[14:47] <PersonaGM> ["Not me." Said Adrien, pulling one of his throwing axes up out of the ground, where the hinoenma it had hit had dissolved into smoke. "Probably 'cuz I go so hard."]
[14:48] <Dinah> There was a frown on Dinah's lips as she looked at her shotgun, having seen the influence on her shot and being annoyed at that. Hearing Sachiko speak up, she nodded. "Yeah. Like somethin' slowed my shot down or whatever." Dismissing it, she went for a cigarette before second-guessing herself, looking around at all the trees.
[14:51] * Ai shook her head. "I. I didn't even get a chance to attack." She looked over. "H… Hideki? Roy?
[14:54] <Hideki> "Didn't feel anything like that," Hideki said uncomfortably, picking up a bit of the money and studying it. "Are you sure you're not talking about something psychological? Like, your conscience or something?"
[14:55] <PersonaGM> ["Lol." Said Adrien, smirking at Dinah and her still-smoking shotgun.-
[14:55] <PersonaGM> ["I didn't feel anything either." Said Roy. "Suspicious."]
[14:55] * Ai wiggled her hand. "Showmeth'yens" That sure was a sentence. "… Wait. Hold that thought on 'why is there real money'. …"
[14:56] <Dinah> Dinah winced, shifting a little closer to Adrien and lowering the torch more toward him in a vaguely threatening manner. "Don't do that again."
[14:57] <PersonaGM> ["I can kick your ass in here, you know."]
[14:58] <Ai> "Fighting over his bad jokes is forbidden in the nighmare dungeon." -
[15:00] * Ai then pursed her lips. "…Okay so. Roy. …How much did you guys even do Dream Theatres?" She asked, leadingly… and sort of loosely patting girllequin on the head. A slight telepathic whisper of ("Shh, outsider-of-your-reality things. Gimme a sec.") given to her just. Because. "I'm getting the hunch that this is somehow a. Thing. And that Asaka - True Asaka, not the shadow - is to blame. …Indirectly. From forming
[15:00] * Ai this place. So. …Any insight?"
[15:00] <Dinah> "And I can shove your ass into the forest and let you try and find your way out. Without a light. So maybe back the fuck off."
[15:00] <Ai> "NO FIGHTING."
[15:00] * Ai huffed.
[15:01] <PersonaGM> ["I can find you pretty easy. I just have to follow the sound of edgy kvetching- Fine, fine…"-
[15:03] <PersonaGM> [Roy leapt up onto the log. "Yeah, Dream Theatres were our bread and butter. We called them 'Conventions'." Said Roy. "As in, 'genre convention'. Every genre has some conventions or tropes attached to it. Like how sex is bad in horror movies."-
[15:03] <PersonaGM> ["I guess this is applied here, too. I guess there aren't many women in Japanese nationalistic war movies." Said Roy. "Or if there are, they aren't going to be fighting."]
[15:04] <Dinah> Dinah fired a glare over at Ai at the shout and then to Adrien as he seemed to persist, though as he dropped it, she did as well. Instead, she moved off a bit away from him to keep the torch more on the people that were actually doing things at the moment, listening in on the conversation that was taking place.
[15:05] <Ai> …A small telepathic whisper to Dinah, propriety be damned, mostly to not interrupt the serious business. ("I'll look the other way once we're out of here, trust me~ Just don't do anything permanent.")
[15:07] <Sachiko> "Are they malleable?" Sachiko asked
[15:08] <Dinah> All Ai got in response was a half shrug, as if suggesting that she couldn't guarantee anything. Because she really couldn't.
[15:09] <PersonaGM> [Adrien could guarantee that he could kick her ass, though.-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> ["Conventions can be changed." Said Roy. "Or as we put it, 'subverted'. How to explain it?"-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> ["Alright, so. To change a Convention, we need an audience." He said. "Think about it… If you had a big movie come out subverting a trope, that matters more than some ten thousand dollar thing filmed in some asshole's basement."-
[15:11] <PersonaGM> ["And we also need to make the subversion memorable." Said Roy. "No one cares if a random extra is a woman in a male-dominated genre-"-
[15:11] <PersonaGM> ["The internet cares." Said Adrien.-
[15:12] <PersonaGM> ["Almost no one cares." Said Roy. "But if it's done in a big bold way that sets everyone talking? Like it's a main character, or the subversion turns everything on its head? Then that sticks."-
[15:13] <PersonaGM> ["Finally, it has to 'fit', has to make sense." Said Roy. "To subvert, it has to be related to the actual convention. If it's something the audience would find totally out of left field, then that's not gonna work. It has to get its hooks in. Even if it makes the audience -angry-, that's better than confusion."]
[15:16] * Ai was beginning to nod, then. "So. As I thought. …Women… aren't supposed to fight here. So we need to… we need to play up the tropes." She began to smile. "… …There's been a lot of pop culture lately that has good ways to do that." She then waved her hands and did impressions. "'No man can defeat me!' and then she takes off the helmet and is all 'I'M NO MAN' and he's all ARGH and…"
[15:16] <Ai> "Like that."
[15:17] <Sachiko> On the other hand Sachiko just nodded and stretched her arms. "Got it."
[15:19] <PersonaGM> ["Well, subverting it is something we oughta do considering how it affects our heavy hitters and also Sachiko." Said Adrien. "Maybe we could research ideas for it after today's raid."]
[15:20] <Dinah> "Is it something where the theater knows what we are? Or the things we fight know it, so the rule takes effect?" She gestured to Ai then with the helmet example. "Like if nobody looks at us and knows we're not guys, what then?"
[15:21] <Ai> "This isn't the time to plan a stage play and get a whole RPG party to execute it flawlessly, no." Ai admitted. "The headcount and coordination issues just ruin improve." Then. …she turned to Dinah. "I don't… think it quite realizes we're from Beyond The Metaverse? You'd think the shadows'd be a bit more aware of that here like the ones in Endling were." So… "The idea with THAT subversion is…" -
[15:22] * Ai leveled her head a bit. "Do something a man would do, can do. Set things up so we succeed even if the Convention holds us back. …When witnesses have seen the triumph?" She flourishes with one hand. "Break their expectations. The reveal has the power of a big surprise! It's a form of intimidation, you see."
[15:22] <Ai> "…And everyone will talk about it, just like Roy said."
[15:24] <PersonaGM> ["Yeah." Said Roy. "I think part of the subversion is that we're subverting the convention, even as it's affecting us. So it just knows, even if the Shadows don't. Although they might work it out if a Convention is obvious."]
[15:27] <Sachiko> "We can't really plan for this now," Sachiko said. "The tunnel seems like our next step, which means investigating the village."
[15:27] <Dinah> She wrinkled her nose somewhat at the explanations and then shrugged. "Whatever. I'll beat the shit out of things here no matter what. So if you guys figure out a way to drop it, cool. If not, eh."
[15:27] <PersonaGM> ["Cool to have you on the team, Dinah." Said Adrien.]
[15:30] <Ai> "IT is ours." Then, a smile. "Dinah, you're gonna be super important for this. You might definitively be a girl, but the punk brawly thing makes playing man for the dumb theater easy. It's already what you do, they just are stupid and don't wanna believe a gal can do it!"
[15:31] <Hideki> "If it was gonna be that easy, it would've happened during this last fight." Hideki adjusted his hat. -
[15:32] <Sachiko> "Mm."
[15:32] <Ai> "Knowledge and coordination! It's mostly just easier than if we didn't have a punchywomang." She explained in uncharacteristically jivey vernacular. "…So…" She moved to her little lap pet -
[15:33] <Ai> Wait, that sounds dubious as fuck. The mannequin. -
[15:33] <Ai> "…Hey, honey? We're mostly done talking strategy. Think it'd be safe for us to head to the rebel base and see how we can help?"
[15:34] <PersonaGM> [The mannequin wrung her sleeves. "We don't have a base. Not anymore… We just all hung out at the village. I can take you there if you want…"]
[15:35] <Ai> "Close enough~"
[15:38] <PersonaGM> […-
[15:40] <PersonaGM> [The village was small. It consisted of about three houses clustered around a sad wheat farm in the middle, which was currently occupied by a pair of drunk, sleeping oni. Houses in the far distance could be seen, smouldering and burning.-
[15:41] <PersonaGM> [Two of the houses were pretty small, made of wood. The third was larger and slightly wealthier looking, made of solid brick. It was into the 'alley' between a small wooden house and the brick house that they emerged, next to a tomato vine.-
[15:41] <PersonaGM> ["H-Here we are." Said the mannequin.]
[15:42] <Hideki> "You guys have a leader here?" Hideki asked, glancing around.
[15:43] <PersonaGM> ["The 'mayor' lives in the brick house, but our leader, the rebel leader, was the blacksmith…"]
[15:43] <Hideki> "Who was kidnapped…"
[15:44] * Ai nodded. "…not much of a mayor. Installed by the army?" Ai mused… her eyes sort of canting over to the oni.
[15:44] <PersonaGM> ["Tolerated, I guess." Said the mannequin. "He can't do much against the army. Who can?"]
[15:46] * Hideki grinned. "Ladies? That sounds like your cue."
[15:55] <Ai> "Does." Ai said, and her mind started to race with telepathic advice. Hit up sniper nests or at least have cover. Sneak in for the attack. Keep heavies in the wings to just blitz them after the ambush if they're not down already. Everyone synch up on Sachiko… sounded like a good idea to Ai. We'd want her to do NAvigator things anyway! Strike fast, strike at once… done and done! -
[15:55] * Ai then uh. …Tried to figure out if there was a way onto a roof.
[15:57] * Sachiko turned her attention away from the village and looked at the mannequin. "Don't jump, alright? I gotta check something."
[15:57] <Sachiko> Quite suddenly, a branch-wrought arm sprang out of a portal over her shoulder. It hung there for a moment, punctuated by the sound of snapping and cracking wood, before two of the shadow-beings from Faust's interior crawled out and dropped onto Sachiko's shoulder. They were carrying a small pane of silver-rimmed glass between them and they worked together to hold it in front of Sachiko's
[15:57] <Sachiko> face.-
[15:57] <Sachiko> The world seen through the glass was different, walls becoming faint and runes appearing in white-blue around the Oni, smoke-like lines tracing the spaces between people. It took her a few seconds to scan the whole village, the shadows turning the pane to match her movements, and then they and the window simply faded into hazy grey smoke that disappated quickly.-
[15:57] <Sachiko> "Ok. I know what we're working with now," she said. "Let's do it."
[15:57] <PersonaGM> [Oh lawd she jumpin']
[15:59] <Ai> ("Okay that was cool,") Ai tele-whispered.
[16:00] * Sachiko smiled.
[16:16] <Ai> At which point, as the op was beginning… Ai grinned. "…Let's drop them in a flash, and say hi to the occupiers." She said with such a grin in her voice. "Mami! Let's go… Ready the final first strike, Tiro…" And Mami appeared behind Ai, slowly guiding with her arms, over Ai's draw. Remembering some of what Saoirse was teaching her, Ai had a bit more readiness, more patience. No need to think. Just fire, focus and not
[16:16] <Ai> worry. At the last moment, Ai raised the bow and let loose! ….with her arrow, the phantasm of a cannon's report rang, as the arrow became a gleaming golden /shell/ of destruction, arcing a small ways up… before smashing into the pair of oni head-on. …They wouldn't even wake up.
[16:16] <Ai> "F… i… Oh no I didn't finish the attack callout." Bluuuush.
[16:17] <PersonaGM> [As little chunks of misty oni fell around the area, a deadly silence fell on the village.-
[16:18] <PersonaGM> [… Then an alarm klaxon began to sound from the north.]
[17:16] <Ai> While everyone else moved into position… Ai regarded that building. "Oh come on, I did worse in gym class. …Hhhhh…" Running. Moving. "Hhhaaaaaaa…" Leap! And. And she scrabbled up the wall! And. Was now atop the building. "-aaaAA! …ROOFS."
[18:11] <Sachiko> There was a lot of running in the moments that followed, along with some impressive feats of acrobatics. Sachiko was less active; She remained posted up at the building they'd all stormed out from behind. For a moment her head popped out to sight the bunker, before ducking back into cover again.-
[18:14] <Sachiko> … and in the bunker three portals opened above each of the demons, depositing one of Faust's chittering shadows atop each of their heads. The Tengu and Oni's eyes briefly turned a luminescent shade of blue before they all dropped dead, heads smoking.-
[18:14] <Sachiko> The shadows paused to high-five before disappearing.-
[18:14] <PersonaGM> [("FUCKING KILL-STEALING-")]
[18:15] <Sachiko> "Maybe the heavy hitters should've been faster!" Sachiko called cheerfully.
[18:15] <Ai> ("Hey I just jumped on a roof for the first time in my life and didn't get my second shot in! Let her have it.") …Ai paused.
[18:16] <PersonaGM> [("I'LL LET HER FACE HAVE IT")-
[18:16] <PersonaGM> [("N-NOT IN THAT WAY")-
[18:16] <PersonaGM> ["Oh dear Lord give a man strength." Said Roy.]
[18:17] <Ai> ("…If you do that, dibs on not watching.")
[18:18] <Dinah> Dinah had been in the zone. As soon as she made it to the tree, she had a plan in mind. Jumping out from behind it, she rushed full speed toward the building that their enemies were holed up in and with a graceful leap, she was atop the roof, unhindered by the jump as she immediately started running again. Dropping to the other side of the shack, she pressed against the wall and simply
[18:18] <Dinah> waited. They had to have heard her, so that meant one of them would peek their head out. Right?-
[18:19] <Dinah> But they didn't get that chance. The sounds from inside were….vivid and as she looked inside, her nose wrinkled somewhat. She was ready to just leave it at that, though the sound of Adrien's voice made her growl seomwhat, fishing for a cigarette. "Oh shut the hell up already!"
[18:20] <PersonaGM> ["You shut up." Said Adrien, kicking his way into the booth. "NOT LIKE YOU TO TURN DOWN WATCHING, YOSHINO, ARE YOU AT YOUR DATA LIMIT ALREADY THIS MONTH?"-
[18:20] <PersonaGM> ["Ooh, shiny rock."]
[18:21] <Ai> Ai… blinked a bit. And decided to just… as she spent a sec or two surveying from the roof? …get on its edge and kick her legs. "Shinies are good~ <3"
[18:22] <Hideki> "Yeahhh," Hideki clapped his hands together. "Good… teamwork? Why the hell are we talking about this? Or rocks…?"
[18:23] * Sachiko just came around the building and gave Roy an unusually bright smile. "This Persona thing's pretty cool."
[18:23] <PersonaGM> ["Yeah, ain't it just?" Said Roy. "You ain't even seen the half of it yet."-
[18:24] <PersonaGM> ["Come on, Hideki. Let's get our rocks."]
[18:27] <Dinah> Tapping the end of her cigarette with her finger to light it up, she rounded the corner to look at them. Very briefly, the look on her face said, 'what the fuck?' before she simply shook her head and leaned against the wall to enjoy her victory smoke.
[18:29] <PersonaGM> [And Adrien emerged, holding in his arms a handful of shiny green rocks. "Roy, what-"-
[18:29] <PersonaGM> ["Lifestones, heal Personas." Said Roy automatically.-
[18:29] <PersonaGM> ["Badass." Adrien took turns throwing a rock to everyone and also one -at- Dinah. "There's also a hatch in the booth that leads to uh… The lounge?"-
[18:29] <PersonaGM> ["Saferoom." Said Roy.]
[18:30] <Ai> Ai was soon hopping down and joining them. "Pretty rocks! It's loot! Better drops for a magic psychodrama dungeon crawl than … actual cash." Ai said, while shuffling through to pick up the rock and gawk at it like a kid. 'cause she was a kid. "…I mean, where does it come from? Whose money is it? How legal is it? Is it really real? Yet, it is. Is it considered counterfeit if it's anomalously-sourced from a psychological
[18:30] <Ai> dreamscape of death? …What do shadows use real-world money for…" Ai said, while staring at the rock with a pose that made it look like a really derpy Shakespeare nerd trying out that hamlet scene. "Questions, we may never answer. But it's fun to think about." -
[18:31] <Ai> Then she smiled. "ooooh heals. Good. Saves me from wasting my MP on the heals we… haven't needed to use… yet." Beat. "Is it MP? Hell if I know. Let's say hi to our baroque furniture, scary furniture, and Catbowl, and heal up a bit, ne?"
[18:35] <PersonaGM> ["Sure." Said Roy. "Let's head home, rest up, do some research on this convention then hit back hard next time."]
[18:40] <Dinah> Her hand lifted just in time to catch the stone tossed at her, simply pocketing it while flicking him off with the other hand. Moving it to her cigarette then, she pulled it from her lips to tap off some of the ash and exhale. "Let's go then."

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