[01:41] <Minaplo> Rap rap rap!
[01:46] <Minaplo> Hikaru Kamiya rolled over on his bed. It wasn't early- it was about an hour after school- but he'd been enjoying reading today's new manga. He sighed. Who could be calling on them now? No one ever knocked on his door. He shot a glance at his roommate's empty bed. But why would he knock?
[01:46] <Minaplo>A small spark of hope enflamed in Hikaru's chest. Maybe it was a girl? Maybe he'd finally gotten through to them?
[01:47] <Minaplo> "Coming~~" Hikaru swung the door open, to reveal… It was indeed a girl. A beautiful girl with long silky black hair and olive eyes. His heart leapt up. Yesss!
[01:47] <Minaplo> "Hello. Is this Karo Nakajima's room?" Asked Ji-hu.
[01:51] <Minaplo> "Wait, you're looking for Karo?" Said Hikaru. "Wow, there's a first for everything."
[01:51] <Minaplo> Ji-hu didn't say anything. After a few awkward seconds, Hikaru coughed. "Er, yes, this is his dorm. He's not here right now, though. Which is probably for the better though, right? You came here looking for him and found me instead. Talk about up-scaling!"
[01:51] <Minaplo> His gaze flicked across her body from bottom to top. Ji-hu's pleasant smile froze for a moment, but she pressed on. "Do you know where he is? I'd like to speak to him."
[01:51] <Minaplo> "Oh, nah. I don't talk to him that much, he's kind of a loner." Said Hikaru. "I don't even think he came home last night."
[01:54] <Minaplo> "Excuse me? He what? May I come in?" Said Ji-hu hurriedly. Hikaru smirked, his eyebrows arching, but he stepped aside and let Ji-hu in.
[01:54] <Minaplo> “The dorm was only a little larger than her own or Hideki's room, but that space had to be shared between two people. These two couldn't be more different. Karo's bed was rumpled and untidy, a short desk up against the foot of the bed covered haphazardly in manga, books, gunpla and other figurines. Those same figurines also dotted his bedside table.
[01:54] <Minaplo> "Hikaru's side was tidy, with his desk kept scrupulously presentable- the only books on it were technical books or interesting conversation-starters.
[01:57] <Minaplo> "He didn't come home last night?" Said Ji-hu. "When was the last time you saw him?"
[01:57] <Minaplo> "What are you, a detective?" Said Hikaru, laughing. He sat on his bed, legs spread out. "I dunno, I guess it woulda been around an hour after school ended."
[01:57] <Minaplo> "What was he doing?" Asked Ji-hu.
[02:02] <Minaplo> "This is boring. Why are you looking for Spazzy Kazzy anyway? I've spent nearly two months as his dormmate and take it from me, he's a total non-entity. The only reason anyone gives a shit about him right now is because he made that big fuss and called himself the mastermind, which is total bullshit, take it from me. That kid couldn't organise a soapland in Shinjuku." Hikaru snorted. "A few people have even been asking 'round the dorm for him, but like… You're only asking for disappointment."
[02:02] <Minaplo> "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but it's important that I find him-" Started Ji-hu.
[02:02] <Minaplo> "But I wouldn't disappoint you, if you get my drift." Said Hikaru- he ran a hand through his hair. "Stop wasting your time on Karo like the rest of those losers- I'm right here, you know."
[02:02] <Minaplo> "…"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Do I interest you?" Said Ji-hu.
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Of cour-"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Wrong!" Snapped Ji-hu.
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Wh-"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Alright, you brat, listen here." Said Ji-hu. "You're like… 14? 13, forbid? I've been cutting you some slack because middle schoolers don't know any better, but I'm eighteen years old, and this is just the worst."
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Huh?" Hikaru seemed taken aback.
[02:13] <Minaplo> "I've been dealing with boys like you longer than you've been dealing with girls at all, and you need to understand: this you're doing, makes you the worst type of boy in the world."
[02:13] <Minaplo> "T-that seems a little dramatic-"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "This little display isn't because you're interested in me, you don't know anything about me. You're just trying to show off how confident you are. But you're going way too hard, and it's obvious how much you're trying, and that makes you look desperate."
[02:13] <Minaplo> Hikaru's ears went pink. "I am not desper-"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Are any of your friends girls? Do you even interact that much with women who aren't your mom or your sisters? Because this makes me think you only see girls in terms of attraction, romance or sex, and you really need time to slow down and learn what you like about people, what kinds of people make you happy. Open yourself up to just appreciating people before you go hitting on someone. Jeez! I'm studying for my entrance exams! What was your end game?"
[02:15] <Minaplo> Quiet. For a few seconds.
[02:15] <Minaplo> "I uh. I don't think I had one?" Said Hikaru.
[02:15] <Minaplo> "Obviously." Said Ji-hu. She sighed in frustration. "Focus. Karo. What was he doing last night?"
[02:15] <Minaplo> "I…" Hikaru frowned. "Oh. He was on his phone. Talking on it, not just texting, but both are pretty rare, which is why it stood out."
[02:15] <Minaplo> "Who was he talking to?"
[02:15] <Minaplo> "It… I don't know if they were a boy or a girl, but it was someone named Morokuzu." Said Hikaru.
[02:17] <Minaplo> "What did they talk about?" Said Ji-hu.
[02:17] <Minaplo> "Oh, Morokuzu was inviting him somewhere, I guess? Dunno where."
[02:17] <Minaplo> "You don't remember anything about where he was going? Any directions? Nothing?" Asked Ji-hu.
[02:17] <Minaplo> "Er… I 'unno. Maybe… Yeah. I think they wanted him to go to the shrine on the mountain?" Said Hikaru.
[02:17] <Minaplo> "What? The shrine up there? Why?"
[02:17] <Minaplo> "I don't even know if it was that. All I know is that a temple and some mountain was mentioned."
[02:18] <Minaplo> Temple, some mountain…
[02:18] <Minaplo> Or, a temple at the foot of a mountain…
[02:18] <Minaplo> "Oh no. You're kidding." Said Ji-hu. "Oh goddamn. Hikaru, why didn't you tell anyone he didn't come home?!"
[02:18] <Minaplo> "I'm no snitch."
[02:18] <Minaplo> "You little idiot!"
[02:20] <Minaplo> Ji-hu bolted out of the room, ran for the elevator, hit it, had second thoughts, took the steps two at a time and then burst out onto the street, panting. Phone, phone…
[02:20] <Minaplo> She dialed Hideki's number. "C'mon, c'mon, pick up!"
[02:21] <Hideki> Hideki picked up, his voice cheerful. "Hey! How'd it go?"
[02:23] <Minaplo> "He didn't come home last night." Said Ji-hu. She was already punching an address into a rideshare. "I talked to his roommate, he said someone named Morokuzu told him to go to some temple… I think he went to the temple-school."
[02:30] <Hideki> There was a long pause on Hideki's end. -
[02:31] <Hideki> "He didn't come -home-?! What the hell, why?!"
[02:32] <Minaplo> "I don't know! I'm going to the school to check it out, but I don't wanna go alone."
[02:33] <Hideki> "I'll meet you there. Don't go in without me!"
[02:35] <Minaplo> And Ji-hu was there, waiting, pacing nervously when Hideki arrived.
[02:39] <Hideki> Hideki came running up before long, dressed in his red tracksuit, his face grim. He slowed as he approached, eyes darting this way and that. -
[02:40] <Hideki> "I remembered a thing when I was coming over," he said. "I've heard that name - Morozuku - before."
[02:40] <Minaplo> "You know who it is?"
[02:46] <Hideki> "Not exactly. It was mentioned in the Dream Theatre Karo created, but I've never met this person before. They were supposed to be a subordinate who dealt with the day-to-day operations of running a rebellion. Clearly, there's someone with that name running around in real life too… although I don't know how closely they resemble the stuff going on in Karo's head."
[02:50] <Minaplo> "Shit. Alright, let's get going."
[02:51] <Hideki> Hideki nodded. He led the way inside, slowly and carefully, still looking around as if he expected an ambush.
[02:54] <Minaplo> It wouldn't take long for Hideki to realise something was amiss. Within one of the central chambers- near to where he'd been taken to his awakening- he felt the air grow thicker, the telltale sign of miasma. He could taste its vague slippery texture on his tongue and felt the press of humid cold on his skin. It had spiked here recently…
[02:54] <Minaplo> Lying on the ground was a cellphone. Karo's.
[02:58] <Hideki> He picked up the phone. Passed it over to Ji-Hu. Tried to keep his focus. -
[03:01] <Hideki> "Something happened here. Something intense." He rubbed his lips with the back of his hand, finding his mouth suddenly dry. "Can you… head back outside? It's dangerous here."
[03:02] <Minaplo> "S… Sure. Be careful." Said Ji-hu, touching his arm gently.
[03:03] <Hideki> "Thanks. Update Kurata and the others too, when you get a minute." He patted her hand gently.
[03:04] <Minaplo> "Got it."-
[03:04] <Minaplo> And then she was gone, leaving Hideki alone.
[03:08] <Hideki> Hideki pressed on now, much faster, toward the awakening room. "Karo! Hey! Can you hear me?! HEY!"
[03:10] <Minaplo> Silence. The miasma crept higher, but nothing reacted to him.-
[03:11] <Minaplo> Until he reached the room itself, where he saw a little pinkish orb floating in the air, like a little glob of liquid floating in zero g.
[03:15] <Hideki> Hideki stared uncertainly at it. Circled it once or twice. Then, unable to figure out what it was, he reached out to touch it with his fingers.
[03:20] <Minaplo> A vision flashed through Hideki's mind- and the mind of every Persona user in Katashiba.
[03:20] <Minaplo> A stately office, like one you'd find in any capitol building, but with a few unusual touches- the desk had a computer built into it, holographic displays projecting into the sky; the windows looked out on stars, and of course there was the occupant… A man in an immaculate red uniform, with a white mask over his face. His build was a little… idealistic, but Hideki recognised Karo immediately- or more accurately, the Red Rook?-
[03:20] <Minaplo> Also in the office, looking bewildered and shellshocked, was the real Karo, sitting on a couch, unthinkingly nursing a glass of white wine and a plate of chips.-
[03:24] <Minaplo> "Everyone's eyes are already on you. Imagine how they'll react when we show them our true potential? The Red Rook, in the flesh- you won't be some little schoolboy upstart anymore. People will take you seriously."
[03:24] <Minaplo> "…" Karo didn't respond.
[03:24] <Minaplo> "It's fine. You won't come to harm by my hands. I'm you, after all." Said the Red Rook, smiling. "Give yourself a week or two and you'll find yourself coming around to my way of thinking- one way or another."-
[03:24] <Minaplo> Then the vision faded. The orb was gone.
[03:34] <Hideki> Hideki slumped down into a resting squat, balanced his elbows on his knees, and balanced his head in his hands. He stayed like that for several minutes without moving. Took a few deep breaths. -
[03:38] <Hideki> It didn't slow his thoughts down very much. When he couldn't put off moving any longer he finally he rose again, his eyes bright. Without taking another look around, he stormed out of the room, heading for the exit to the temple school, where Ji-Hu waited for him.

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