The atmosphere of the battlefield changed in an instant.
It wasn't just the usual oppressive mood inside Tartarus. No, this was the enemy's doing. It was a big one, this time, some kind of wizard creature, and the feeling of dread was definitely emanating from that thing - there could be no mistake.
It wasn't that bad - at least, that was what Shinji thought. But some of them seemed to feel it more acutely than others, and before he knew it, the group had been reduced to half its normal size, leaving just him and... the leader.
The tiny, cheerful, fragile looking leader.
Tch. He glared after Junpei and Akihiko as they disappeared behind a corner. Junpei even dropped his sword in his panic! It was pathetic. At least he was strong enough to resist it. Wouldn't do to let a little girl fend for herself against these monsters.
Tightening his grip on the heavy double-bladed axe, he raised his evoker to call forth Castor.
"Don't worry," he told the slight figure at his side. "...I'm still here."
Even as he began to tighten his finger on the trigger, there was a familiar blue flash. Clear and confident, her voice rang out, echoing ominously in the dark hallways.
The blue light flared brightly, and Minako's girlish form disappeared behind a majestic, towering humanoid form, wrapped in a blindingly white cloak, a golden spear clutched in one massive hand.
The persona raised its weapon, and Shinjiro staggered from the shockwave as a massive lightning bolt slammed into the shadow, leaving little more than a stain on the floor.
Then, it faded, leaving only Minako, cheerfully bobbing her head in tune with music only she could hear. Satisfied with the easy victory, she spun around on her heel, expertly twirling her naginata and planting the butt on the floor with a solid clank. Over her shoulder, he could see Akihiko and Junpei peeking out fearfully from behind their corner, then, once they realized the enemy was gone, sheepishly crawling out from cover to rejoin the group.
Minako blinked at him and pulled the crimson headphones off her ears.
"Sorry," she said, and dropped the phones, allowing them to dangle on the cord around her neck. "Did you say something? I had the volume up high."
Shinji opened his mouth. Then he closed it again.
Somehow, he didn't think arguing about who needed protection was going to end well at this point.