Yosuke let out a sigh as he opened up a filing cabinet in the old Ergo laboratory.
“Y’know, when I was told we were goin’ to Yakushima, I figured we’d have some time to kick back on the beach.”
“That sounds like something Junpei-San would say, Yosuke-San.” Aigis loaded up another box full of old files onto a cart which one of Mitsuru’s maids wheeled out of the room.
“Yeah, well, you can blame him.” Yosuke pouted as he extracted an entire file and tossed it into an open box. “Junpei-Senpai told me how all of you guys went on vacation here back in the day. Guess it got me thinking about beaches and stuff.”
“I am sorry to say we won’t have any time for seaside recreation, Yosuke-San.” Aigis too dropped a file in the box. “These files need to be brought back to headquarters as soon as possible for digitization, and it is our job to escort them back as soon as we’re done packing them.”
“Yeah, I know the mission.” Yosuke sighed again. “I could sure use a break though. Lately all of our missions seem to be this grunt work instead of actual Shadow Operating.”
“I understand that this is not the most exciting detail, but it is still crucial that this task be completed, Yosuke-San.”
“Hey, you don’t have to worry about my work ethic.” Yosuke leaned against the filing cabinet he’d spent the last few minutes emptying. “Ask anybody who knows me: Yosuke Hanamura’s no slouch. Whether I was pulling a shift at Junes or working with the investigation team, I never slack- AAAAH!”
Without the extra ballast provided by the pounds and pounds of paper it had held for years, the file cabinet collapsed under Yosuke’s weight, tipping over into the corner of the room. There was a loud crash as it slammed into the wall, the corner breaking through a piece of drywall.
“Yosuke-San!” Aigis ran over to Yosuke, who had hit the floor when he lost his balance. She crouched down and rolled him over onto his back. “Are you injured? Do you require medical assistance!?”
“I’m fine.” Yosuke groaned as he sat up. “I’m sore, but I don’t think anything’s broken or bleeding.”
“Your analysis is lacking, Yosuke-San.” Aigis pointed to the filing cabinet embedded in the wall. “The wall is broken. I am certain that Mitsuru-San will be taking that out of your paycheck.”
“What!?” Yosuke jumped to his feet. “I thought we had like, collateral damage insurance and stuff!”
“That applies to environmental destruction caused in battle, not careless mistakes made during clerical work.”
“C’mon, this is a Kirijo facility! There’s gotta be a guy who repairs walls or something! I mean, it’s not even that bad!” Yosuke grabbed the filing cabinet and pulled it out of the wall, standing it up again. “I mean, this is just regular drywall in a storage room, it’s not like I broke any…”
Yosuke stopped talking, staring at the hole in the wall.
“Yosuke-San?” Aigis waved her hand in front of Yosuke’s face. “Are you alright? Are you experiencing a delayed reaction to your fall?”
“I’m good.” Yosuke pushed away Aigis’s hand and moved to the hole, tearing away a few loose pieces of drywall. “But look at this!”
Sitting in the wall was a shelf holding a briefcase. It had a couple combination locks and the letters ’S.I.’ monogrammed on it.
“That’s gotta be some kind of hidden file” Yosuke said. “What do you think ’S.I.’ stands for? ‘Secret information’?”
“That seems unlikely.” Aigis picked up the box. “The letters likely designate the briefcase’s owner. And given the history of this research facility, there is only one likely candidate that comes to mind.”
Aigis called in the discovery of the briefcase to Mitsuru, who told her not to open it in case it was boobytrapped. When the helicopter returned to the Shadow Operatives’ Tokyo Headquarters, Aigis and Yosuke brought the briefcase down to the lab, where it was immediately tested for explosives or any other hidden mechanism.
“Well…” The lab tech handed the briefcase back to Aigis. “We’ve run x-rays, ion mobility spectrometry, infrared, and even had Koromaru sniff it for chemicals. All the tests returned negative.”
“All of them?” Yosuke asked.
Koromaru barked in assent.
“As far as we can tell, it’s just an ordinary briefcase with a regular paper file inside” the tech said. “The most advanced thing about it is the locks.”
“Thank you” Aigis said. “If it is safe, I will now be delivering this case to Mitsuru-San.”
“Alright, let’s go” Yosuke said.
“Oh no, not you, Yosuke-San.” Aigis shook her head. “I’ll be going to Mitsuru-San alone. You’re to join Ken-San for the unpacking of the other files we brought back from Yakushima.”
“You gotta be kidding me!” Yosuke stared into Aigis’s eyes for a moment, the blank robotic stare he got back telling him she was not kidding. “But I’m the one who found the briefcase!”
“Yes, and when I told Mitsuru-San how you discovered it, she was… displeased.” A little humanity returned to Aigis’s eyes as she tried to give Yosuke a reassuring smile. “She said since your blunder bore fruit, she’s willing to forgive you this time, but would like you to finish the original mission, Yosuke-San.”
“Aw man…” Yosuke grumbled as he headed for the door. “I’m gettin’ so sick of paperwork.”
“The item as requested, Mitsuru-San.”
Aigis handed the case to Mitsuru, who remained seated at her desk.
“Thank you, Aigis.”
“What do you expect to find?”
“I don’t know.” Mitsuru stared at the briefcase with a grave expression on her face. “I thought we had recovered all of Ikutsuki’s research. This case is very light, so I doubt there’s some earth-shattering revelations contained within.”
“But if he thought to hide it in a wall, surely it must be important” Aigis said.
“Well, that’s the theory, isn’t it?” Mitsuru began fiddling with the combination lock.
“If you’d like, Mitsuru-San, I could open it for you.”
“No thank you, Aigis.” Mitsuru smirked as the briefcase popped open. “Ikutsuki was an intelligent man, but he had the foolish habit of using the same passcode for everything.”
Aigis leaned forward and stared in intrigue at an unlabeled black filing folder Mitsuru pulled out of the briefcase. The head of the Shadow Operatives opened the folder and found five simple pages bundled together, text printed on both sides of every sheet.
“What is it?” Aigis asked.
“It seems to be a list of names.” Mitsuru began scanning the list. “Ikutsuki himself is listed here. As is my father.”
“A list of personnel involved in Shadow research, perhaps?”
“No, there are others here.” Misturu’s brow furrowed. “’Maiko Oohashi’… ‘Bunkichi Kitamura’… These aren’t Kirijo Group employees, but I recognize these names from somewhere. But where?”
“Those are individuals that we had to rescue from Tartarus” Aigis said. “As I recall, Makoto-San was particularly concerned for their wellbeing above all other individuals we rescued.”
“Ah yes, that’s right.” Mitsuru let out a slight chuckle. “He said they were his friends. What an odd boy, befriending an old man and a little girl.”
“Makoto-San had a great many friends outside of S.E.E.S., Mitsuru-San.”
“Yes, I remember.” Mitsuru started to frown, her finger tracing over the paper. “His name’s on this list too. In red ink.”
“Yes.” Mitsuru resumed scanning the list. “There are a few individuals on this list whose names are in red. Mine, Akihiko’s, Amada’s, even the members of Strega.”
“Intriguing…” Aigis stood perfectly still, staring off into space. Mitsuru didn’t notice, still going through the list of names. After a moment, Aigis spoke up again. “Mitsuru-San, I have formed a hypothesis as to the nature of this list.”
“I believe this was a list Ikutsuki-San was keeping of individuals who could experience the Dark Hour.” Aigis walked around behind Mitsuru’s desk and pointed to Yukari’s name in red and Ikutsuki’s name in black with different fingers. “It would seem that the red names were Persona users, while those in black were simply ordinary people who remained in the world after midnight.”
“Are you certain?” Mitsuru looked up from the list at Aigis.
“Do you have reason to doubt my conclusion?”
“No, it’s sound logic. Although there is one thing that concerns me.” Mitsuru pointed to the top of the first page, which showed the date the list was printed; July 1st, 2009. “Amada’s name is in red, but this list is from a couple weeks before he moved into the dorm with us.”
“I’m sure Ikutsuki-San had his reasons for waiting to recruit Ken-San” Aigis said. “It does not seem likely to me that someone who was planning to betray us as he did would inform us of every potential Persona user the moment he learned of them.”
“You have a point.” Mitsuru shook her head. “Yamagishi’s recruitment seemed rather sporadic at the time. In retrospect, it makes sense that Ikutsuki knew about her well before we crossed paths with her.”
“Overall, it would seem this list is of no consequence.” Aigis casually scanned through the names. “Most of these individuals were never involved in any incidents with Shadows, and the Persona users are all accounted for.”
“So it would seem.” Mitsuru sighed. “I guess Ikutsuki just stashed this away for his own personal reference, but it’s not much use after all these-“
Mitsuru’s eyes widened. Aigis took notice immediately.
“Mitsuru-San? Are you unwell?”
“Aigis…” Mitsuru’s eyes were locked onto the bottom of the final page. “There’s a red name here I don’t recognize.”
“An unknown Persona user?” Aigis looked back to the list. “Where?”
“Right here.” Mitsuru pointed to the spot she was focused on.
“I see. How curious.” Aigis stared at the name. “This name is not in any of my memory files.”
“Aigis, I believe I’ve found our next mission.”
“You wish to track down this person?”
“That’s right. I don’t want any more surprises from Ikutsuki like Sho Minazuki.” Mitsuru rose from her desk. “I want to find out everything I can about this ‘Minako Arisato’.”