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Persona 5: Honor Among Thieves

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The Regent Diamond. The biggest, finest diamond to ever exist. Supposedly discovered in 1689 by a slave in colonial India, the slave hid it inside a large wound in his leg in an attempt to keep it to himself. But an English sea captain discovered it, tore it out, killed the slave for it and sold it to an Indian merchant.

Eventually, after passing through countless hands thanks to either purchase or theft, it came into the hands of the French Regent in 1717, thereby gaining the name of the Regent Diamond. It even came into the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte, who mounted the diamond on the pommel of his two-edged sword.

At last though, it found its way to a museum to be preserved forever, so that humanity as a whole might enjoy its splendor. Such a beautiful, priceless thing of incredible luster. What a shame that it will eventually suffer the same fate every beautiful thing that befalls the things that make a tour to Ichiryusai Madarame’s exhibit - to be replaced by an elaborate fake and made to fuel his boundless vanity.

And we can’t have that, now can we?”

“Shut up, damnit! You’re gonna alert every guard in the entire museum, you dummy!” The voice of the master thief’s technology expert resonated in his ear, causing him to flinch involuntarily.

“Won’t you permit me this little indulgence, Oracle?” His voice was low, but not hushed. “It’s not every day I get to do this, you know.”

“For the last time, use the codenames I gave you! I am ‘Wizard’ and you’re ‘Sitting Duck’!”

“Of course. This is Peking Duck, I hear you just fine ‘Blizzard’,” Even whilst cloaked in shadow, the thief’s smirk seemed to shine through like smooth white crystal - not unlike the diamond he was there to steal.

“NO! I’m ‘Wizard’! You’re ‘Sitting Duck’!”

“Understood, ‘Lizard’.”

“Again, I’m - ugh, forget it. You’re not taking this seriously.”

“Not at all. Now will you please relax, Oracle? And while you’re at it, tell me what I’m working with?”

“Alright alright,” Oracle replied, letting out a groan. “The night shift has just arrived and should have settled in by now. Fortunately, the exhibition hall you’re in is watched by cameras rather than guards. And since someone, wink wink, might have accidentally made the footage loop, you should be fine for now.”

“Roger that,” the shadowy figure replied and descended from his perch. The three coattails of his trenchcoat fluttered in the wind as he fell elegantly like a cat, softly rolling to disperse the energy and getting to his feet with an unparalleled smoothness.

Joker permitted himself a wide smirk and fastened his red gloves as his platinum eyes gleamed for just a moment in the faint museum light.

Joker, as…

THE THIEF

“I’m down, Oracle. What do you need?”

“I’m still in the basement. Since the museum turns off certain systems at night, the freight elevator isn’t working currently, so I need you to turn it on so I can get inside and hack the museum’s IT system.”

“And explain to me again why you can’t just do that remotely?”

“Because doing it remotely will leave a trail. If I do it on-site I don’t have to bother with a proxy that might be recognized. Better to just… eliminate the potential problem, I guess.”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll get you up in just a second.”

The master thief went to work, leaping up onto a priceless ancient sculpture of the war god Mars in swift, silent jumps that made no noise bar the soft swish of his coat fluttering and the slight creaking of marble straining against his weight.

In one fluid motion he leapt off of the tip of Mars’s spear and swung across the room using a lamp like one would use a rope in a jungle gym. Like a black phantom did he glide through the air and reach the simple freight elevator controls. Following the guidance Oracle had given him days prior, he pulled the cover off and stuffed a simple black pin inside the mess of a motherboard that was inside, allowing the tech wizard’s work to do her magic.

Barely a few seconds passed before a ‘pling’ sounded and Joker removed the pin, followed by him fastening the cover back into place. “I’m all done here, how’re things on your end?”

“Just fine,” Oracle replied with a slight breathlessness that wasn’t there when the two spoke a few seconds ago. “I just gotta rewire this and-AUGH!” Oracle yelped as the offending wiring gave her a light shock. “Wait- wait a minuuuuteee… there!”

The elevator then let out a light ‘pling’ and the doors to the freight elevator opened. Out stepped a ginger-haired young girl in a tight-fitting black-and-green bodysuit wearing a pair of big red goggles. The moment the doors closed behind her, she couldn’t resist doing a little pose.

Oracle, as…

THE BRAINS

Joker graciously allowed Oracle to do her pose for the few seconds she wanted to, before she awkwardly stopped. “Sorry, I must have… gotten nervous for a moment and crossed the wrong wires. It was way easier back before.”

Joker put a hand on Oracle’s head and gently caressed her. “It’s fine, I get that you’re nervous. Just breathe and relax, otherwise you make mistakes.”

While Oracle was blushing fiercely from the headpat she was getting, she still did see Joker’s point. Trying to regain control of her emotions, she swallowed a big gulp of air and took a deep breath, followed by Joker removing his hand.

“R-Right. So, next step is getting you to the rendezvous point. Madarame’s crazy with the laser security, so I’ll have to stay here and help you get past them.”

“Will you be fine here?”

“Of course. Nobody patrols here ‘cause of the cameras,” Oracle replied confidently.

“And if someone comes in here regardless?” Joker inquired, and Oracle’s confidence immediately drained.

“Oh. I… run around screaming?”

Joker’s shake of the head was more than enough answer.

“I… hide?”

Joker’s smile earned Oracle another headpat. “Exactly. See, you’re getting the hang of this already.”

Oracle couldn’t keep herself from letting out a confident ‘heh-heh-heh’. “You know it!” She said with a little too much volume, which she immediately realized when she saw Joker cringe. “Oh, oh right. Sorry.”

Letting out air through his nose in amusement at Oracle’s antics, Joker adjusted his mask ever so slightly and then turned around. “I’m headed for the rendezvous point. You sure you can make the security shutdown subtle?”

Oracle let out a snort at that. “Puh-lease. You know you’re talking about me , right?”

Joker shrugged almost imperceptibly. “You tend to show off a little too much.”

Oracle just gave Joker a direct stare in reply, and he raised his hands in surrender with that smirk of his. “You make a good point,” he said, but his tone was anything but admitting. More sounding like a kid who was fervently denying that his hand was stuck in the cookie jar, if anything. Before Oracle could raise another word, Joker was already away, gliding through the museum corridors like the wind.

Oracle’s work bordered on magic to Joker sometimes, he barely even needed to slow down to allow her to disable security. He’d jump around as was his leisure, and anything that would normally stop him just… stopped functioning. He internally reminded himself to buy her some sushi once they were done.

Eventually, he made it to his rendezvous point - an empty room in the “Shack” exhibit, a life-like replica of the shack that the ‘master artist’ Madarame worked in before he became famous. He liked to make a show of his supposed humble beginnings, and if that allowed him to sanitize his rise to fame then who would care?

Well, Joker would, if only because the security gate in front of him blocked his way. And unfortunately, they were kept in place by pesky gravity. Gravity wasn’t exactly something Oracle could hack, though Joker figured it was a close thing. No, he’d need a friend for something like that. Unfortunately, said friend… wasn’t there.

“Skull, where are you? I’m at the rendezvous point now,” Joker spoke quietly, making all effort possible to mask his presence.

Skull did not as he came crashing through the ceiling, smiling as he wrecked a part of another shitty adult’s stuff. Nothing more fun in life.

Skull, as…

THE BRAWN

“Hey Joker, how’s it goin’?” Skull asked with his usual energetic demeanor. “I’m so hyped up, dude, I can’t wait to see that shitty artist’s face on the news when we’re done!”

“I can tell,” Joker replied dryly, though he still had a somewhat amused smile. He really couldn’t stay mad at him. “I hope you don’t mind, but could I trouble you to channel some of that excitement of yours into this gate here?”

That snapped Skull out of his funk. “Oh, right. One sec.” The punk cracked his knuckles and stuck his fingers into the small gap in between the ground floor and the gate itself. With some loud groaning, the punk lifted it up to leave a gap just big enough for a Joker to slide right through. 

And slide through Joker did, like a spray of ink he flew through the gap and ended up on the other side. He quickly located an electrical box, which he gave a good kick to cut the power to the gate, and as Oracle had explained him - when a magnetically locked door loses power, it’s designed to open automatically as a safety feature - to prevent anyone from being locked inside and suffocating or being crushed.

In this case, however, it would also help the Phantom Thieves pull off a heist. As the gate went up, Skull walked in, wiping sweat off his brow behind his skull mask. “Phew. Nothin’ like a good workout.”

“I’m glad to see the heist fits well into your workout plan,” Joker teased and Skull lightly punched him in the shoulder. “Don’t act like you’re not enjoying this, you show-off.”

“I absolutely am,” Joker replied. “I live for this.” Oracle chose this as her ideal moment to interrupt. “Once you two are done manning it up , can we please get a move on?” Skull betrayed his coming intention to Joker with his huge, wide grin.

“What, didya have to hide from somebody, Oracle? Did you wet yourself doing it?”

Shut up! ” Oracle screeched over the line, before letting out a gasp. She probably was just either seen or heard. She was quiet for a few seconds, before Joker was comforted by the sound of her exhaling in relief. False alarm, clearly. Followed by Oracle softly requesting “Can we please get going?”

“You heard her, Skull. Let’s get to it,” Joker said with confidence and started walking. It took him a second to notice that Skull wasn’t. “Skull?” he asked, and Skull made an ‘oh, right’ and followed suit.

“Remind me, what am I doin’ again?” Skull then suddenly said, stopping dead in his tracks. Joker whirled around with a questioning stare, not sure what Skull meant. It took a second or two before the punk held his hand over the mic to prevent Oracle from listening. “I didn’t really pay too much attention when Oracle went over the technical stuff. Please don’t tell her.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Joker reassured his friend, causing Skull to break his grin back out. “In order for me to get to the Regent exhibit, Oracle needs to shut down the laser grid guarding it. Problem is, since it’s tied to the whole museum’s electrical grid means she has to shut down practically everything to do it, and if it’s out for more than a few seconds we’re toast. So you have to run across the room and cut the wire to the exhibit before the grid comes back online.”

“A bit of running, huh? I’m pumped, lemme at ‘em!” Skull replied, the punk clearly hyped up. And his confidence was infectious, Joker could attest to that. “I’ll give Oracle the signal once you’re ready. You ready?”

“Ready as ever!” Skull replied, stretching his legs and getting into his running stance. With a nod of acknowledgement, Joker gave Oracle the message. “Alright,” the hacker replied. “The system will only be down for about ten seconds, so you have to nail this. Shutting it down in three... 

Two…

One…

Now!

Skull was off like a lightning bolt, running like he’d already stolen something. The punk blitzed through the room towards the wiring cabinet, the heavy thunks of his boots marking just how swift he was. With three seconds to spare he made it to the other side, ripped the cover of the wiring cabinet off and clipped the red wire.

As the power came back on, trapping Skull on the other side but giving Joker a clean path to the Regent Diamond, the punk did a fist-pump to celebrate his awesomeness. “Nice job, Skull!” Oracle spoke over the comms, amazement in her voice. Skull couldn’t resist replying with a ‘you know it’, and Joker made sure to flash him a thumbs-up for his efforts, and got a pair of devil horns in return.

“The way is clear,” Oracle announced. “Go get ‘em, Joker!”

And like that, Joker was off to get himself a priceless diamond. As Joker disappeared back into the shadows, Skull got ready to prepare the second stage of the plan. “Oracle, is the van alright?”

“Your precious Phan-Van is fine , Skull. I’m not getting anything unusual from the cameras, it’s still parked where it is and nobody’s bugged it because you put it where I told you to put it,” Oracle replied with a tone that was half exasperation and half haughtiness, her signature.

“Yeah yeah,” Skull replied lamely. “I just put a lot of hours into that thing, you know.”

“I know, because you’ve smelled like motor oil for weeks ,” Oracle complained. “And - wait, something just happened!”

“What? What’s goin’ on?!” Skull’s voice immediately rose to it’s usual frantic pitch when he was nervous, and it had good reason to. Without the van their plan was shot.

“A bird just pooped on the windshield.” Even though she knew he couldn’t see it, Oracle punctuated her statement by sticking out her tongue.


Officer Makoto Niijima was starting to get anxious. She’d been waiting for several hours now since the museum’s closing time, hidden inside a cabinet in the Regent Diamond exhibit. This was her first major case since her promotion, and she was eager to prove herself a capable officer by doing what the rest of the police force had found impossible - catch the infamous Phantom Thieves in the act.

She had approached Ichiryusai Madarame about the fact that she suspected the Phantom Thieves would try to steal the Regent when it came on tour to his museum, and the old artist himself was overjoyed to hear her request to be allowed to hide and catch the Thieves in the act.

And so here she was, stuffed inside a museum cabinet in the ungodly hours of the morning. She was anxious, she had butterflies in her stomach, but most importantly she was restless. Her limbs were twitchy and her service revolver was rubbing awkwardly against her thigh. But it was going to be worth it, because she was going to do the impossible. Finally she had her chance, after she did this there’d be no doubt that Sis-

She was broken out of her train of thought by the sound of footsteps on the soft carpet in the exhibit room. She opened the cabinet door just a little , and oh my god, there he was. Joker, the leader of the Phantom Thieves was barely a few feet away from her. All his attention was on the diamond as he reached through the offline laser grid and grabbed the priceless diamond.

Now or never, Makoto.

She grabbed her revolver and burst out of the cabinet and yelled “FREEZE!”, pointing the barrel of the gun at the Phantom Thief in front of her. In one motion the Joker turned around to look his aggressor in the eye, diamond still in hand. A billion thoughts went through her head, all different variations of ‘I did it!’

“Oh?” Joker replied, raising his hands in the air - wearing red gloves, Makoto appreciated the irony that she had literally caught him red-handed . His demeanor was still confident and unworried, but she knows. She saw him flinch when she told him to freeze. Even if just for an instant.

Keeping her revolver trained on the Joker, she grabbed the Regent out of his hand and put it in her pocket for safekeeping. “Hands behind your back,” she then announced as she produced a pair of handcuffs from her belt. Surprisingly, the Joker complied. Perhaps he just figured that he’d not bother struggle since she outsmarted him? Makoto took a bit of pride in that thought.

“Nice job,” the Joker then said, his hands handcuffed behind his back. Makoto was brought out of her ‘I-just-caught-the-nation’s-most-wanted-thief’ trance by his words. “Huh?” was all that she let slip.

“You got me. Nice job. Didn’t predict this.”

Makoto was honestly weirded out by the Joker’s sudden statement. “Really? You didn’t expect this?”

“Nope. The old generation never tried something like this before.”

“Well, I guess I’m just smarter than them,” Makoto said without thinking. She didn’t notice the smirk that suddenly appeared on the Joker’s face. “You are,” the Joker admitted. “But that makes me wonder, why are you here then? Why’re you alone in doing this?”

Makoto gritted her teeth when she remembered why. Because nobody at the station trusts me. Because I’m young and book smart. Because I’m a woman. “Doesn’t matter,” she managed to spit out. “You’re coming with me.”

“Of course,” the Joker then said, tilting himself towards Officer Makoto’s face ever so slightly, reducing the distance between them, and Makoto had to fight off a mysterious unease. She didn’t know why the Joker made her so uneasy.

“Forgive my… curiosity.” By now, his face was barely two centimeters away from hers. Her id and superego were both screeching in alarm, but she couldn’t make herself react. She was frozen in place, but after a few tense seconds her id and superego, along with herself realized why this was happening.

He’s cute.

The Joker must have seen her realize it, because before she could properly get her bearings and create some distance between themselves, she felt his lips on hers. She practically seized up on the spot. She didn’t even realize that she was closing her eyes, just to enjoy it. Nor did she feel Joker’s hands deftly reaching into her pocket.

After a few seconds, he pulled away, leaving Makoto a confused and furiously blushing mess. Why? Why would he do that? Why would he, a criminal kiss her, a cop ? Even worse, she realized that she’d been enjoying the kiss. A lot more than she should, to the point that she felt grossed out. “My apologies, Officer,” the Joker said, pushing a bit of hair out of her face with his hand.

Then she realized. She pulled with her hand holding her revolver but found it unmoveable. Looking down revealed why - she was handcuffed to the cabinet door hinge. With her own handcuffs.

She bit down a curse as she struggled to pull her hand free, and looked back towards the Joker. On the pedestal where the Regent Diamond used to sit now lay a Phantom Thieves calling hard, and right next to it was a Joker with his hands notably un -handcuffed and a very diamond-looking thing in one of them.

“Until we meet again, Officer!” He declared with a booming, theatrical voice and immediately swished out of the exhibit room like a Phantom Thief would.

Makoto’s feelings were complicated at that point. She felt stupid, almost like crying because of her own stupid mistake. She felt disgusted, having to resist shuddering in disgust just from thinking back to what he did to her.

But most of all, she felt a furious, indignant, embarrassed anger towards the escaping Phantom Thief as she punched the cabinet’s wooden hinge, breaking it and leaving her with a free revolver hand with one part of a handcuff dangling from it.

“JOKEEEEEEEERRR!!!”


“I have the Regent,” Joker announced over comms to Oracle and Skull as he ran for it outside the exhibit and down the corridor leading through the entire museum. He stopped for a moment to get his bearings, but the sound of a revolver bullet quickly made him reconsider that.

Joker flashed the approaching Makoto a confident smirk, which managed to just egg her on more. “And a police officer on my tail. We’re making our getaway, now. ” He broke back into a sprint. It was just like any other sprint, except now he had a cute cop on his tail. Not that Joker minded, actually.

“Hold it right there!” Makoto cried as she set off after him down the corridor, following him as he elegantly jumped over an old statue of a samurai from ancient times. “Just stop now and surrender, you won’t be harmed!” Joker’s eyes lit up as he thought of just the thing to say as he slid under a metal pipe meant to direct queueing space.

“No thank you,” he said. “-I enjoy having cute girls chase me.” Even if he wasn’t looking, he could almost feel the blush on her face, and when she let out a shriek of rage in response and a bullet swished over his head, he sure as hell heard it. As he rounded a corner, he pulled out his simple emergency handgun and pointed it above him, at the suspended miniature replica of a chinese merchant ship and put a bullet through one of the metal wires holding it up, causing it to fall down right in front of the pursuing police officer and forcing her to stop - or at least that’s what Joker figured it would do.

He couldn’t help but whistle in amazement when the woman just leaped right over it mid-fall, not slowing down even a little in her pursuit of him.

Right around the corner was Skull, who immediately broke into a run alongside Joker, away from the furious Makoto hot on his heels. “Effin’ fuzz! Great timing, huh?” He groaned in half-annoyance and half-anger as the two Phantom Thieves both burst through a doorway and were heading the long way back towards the foyer where Joker and Oracle had originally made their entrance. “What are you talking about?” Joker replied, “-this is where the fun part starts!”

As the two Phantom Thieves ran for their lives from one furious cop hell-bent on capturing them, Joker began to formulate a plan. They weren’t going to get away from her like this, and she’s all but guaranteed to have called the rest of the police force on them. Although… Joker had a feeling that given the choice, she’d prioritize catching him over Skull and Oracle. So he made a plan.

The police are here! Why are they here!? ” Oracle practically screamed over the comms, but there was no time for that now. As Joker and Skull made their way to the foyer, Joker grabbed the petite hacker by her arm and made the situation clear.

“Talking time later, running time now!”

She got the message when she saw the approaching figure of Makoto and practically screamed in fear as a result. “This wasn’t part of the plan!” She cried as she ran all she could and then some alongside Joker and Skull - but now, they were at the end of the foyer. One way led out the back, where Skull had parked the Phan-Van (they really needed a better name for it, in hindsight) while the other led up to the second story balcony. All that was there was a huge glass mosaic of Madarame’s most famous painting, “Sayuri”.

“Head to the van! I’ll meet you outside!” Joker cried as he turned right, while Skull and Oracle stormed left. Joker leapt up and ran along the railing to get some distance from Makoto who wasn’t trained as well in jumping, forcing her to climb to get after him.

Man, now that he was staring at it, the mosaic was a hell of a lot bigger than he thought it’d be. Probably thicker glass plating, too. This was going to hurt.

“Hands in the air!” Makoto cried as she finally made it up to the balcony and trained her revolver on Joker. Almost impassively, all Joker did was turn around to look at the officer. Makoto grit her teeth in anger, visibly cocking the hammer. “You’ve got nowhere to run!” She declared, as the sound of police sirens started to ring out by the front entrance of the museum.

Joker just couldn’t resist. “See ya,” he said with an impossibly soft voce, before leaping with all his might shoulder-first into the mosaic, creating a hole in the coloured glass as he swished and swooshed through the air, landing perfectly outside on his feet like a cat.

He gave the police cars and assorted officers a glance, his smirk only growing when he saw the van zoom out behind them. That was all the distraction he needed to make a break for it. He jumped to the rooftops, hopping elegantly from roof to roof without a care in the world across the square in front of the museum, headed west alongside the museum wall.

He jumped across the museum itself and inside one of its zen garden exhibits, and he was half over the second fence to the other side of the museum building when he saw Makoto burst into the garden, having gone through the museum. Impressively intuitive, that girl. She must’ve figured he was going to head away from the police cars, and was moving to catch him.

Or, well, at least she was going to try to.

Finally on the other side of the museum building after having scaled the roof again, the Phan-Van came roaring around the corner just as Makoto smashed her way through one of the back doors with murder in her eyes.

With all his grace and skill, Joker scrambled his way inside the van and Makoto emptied the last four bullets she had in desperation.

One missed completely. One went through Joker’s coattails. One went into the car and slammed into the interior, scaring the living daylights out of Oracle. And the last one missed Joker’s cheek by a hair’s breadth, going through both front windows and spooking Skull something fierce. As a reaction, Skull floored it, and the van roared past Makoto, who desperately attempted to fling herself onto the van and only missing because of how hard Skull had floored it - managing only to plant herself firmly on the asphalt.

Letting out a cry of rage, Makoto slammed her fist into the road when she saw Joker smirk and wave goodbye to her.

“THIS ISN’T OVER!!!”


The heist was perfect - except for a hairy moment at the end - like clockwork. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, wherein I saw a very cute and very angry police officer shake her fist at me as she shrinked in size thanks to us getting away thanks to Skull’s reliably ferocious driving.

“Phantom Thieves Make Off With Diamond”, the morning headlines went. Yup, that’s us. The Phantom Thieves. The most wanted thieves on the planet. Contrary to popular belief, we’re just a humble team of three. Well, when I say “humble”.

I used to call myself a Phantom Thief as a kid, back when all I did was steal cookies and sweets from the adults at the orphanage. Most of the time I was alone, but eventually I found the two would become my lifelong friends. 

There’s Oracle, the brains of the operation, and Skull… the brawn. And as chance would have it, we got adopted by a kindly old cafe owner named Sojiro. Life was good in his cafe for a while… until age finally caught up with him.

Now, the old Leblanc cafe is our own hideout, financed by the pocket change we three make off with on our heists. By day we’re just Ren, Futaba and Ryuji… but by night, we’re Joker, Oracle and Skull. Changing the world, one heist at a time.

I don’t think I could be happier. Sure, I didn’t get much of a normal childhood. But I got two friends I wouldn’t trade for anything.

And the best job in the world.