March 5th, 2010
A young man of around seventeen or eighteen with blue unkempt hair wearing a black blazer with a white dress shirt and a black ribbon bow tie, black slacks with a white belt that had a holster attached to it, and black dress shoes was sitting at his desk, looking out of his window, listening to the birds chirping outside.
Minato Arisato was finding it to be a struggle to keep his eyes open. After he had used the power of the Universe Arcana in order to perform the Great Seal on Nyx and prevent the end of the world, he could slowly feel the life draining out of his body. And yet, all the past month, Minato had forced himself to stay alive, forced himself to eat, and hoped to God that he would wake up the next morning.
But now his willpower was nearly depleted, and deep in his heart, Minato Arisato knew that this would be the day that he died…
Maybe it won’t be so bad… passing away… I mean, it certainly looks beautiful out today… and hopefully, Akihiko-senpai, Mitsuru-senpai, Junpei, Fuuka, Aigis, and… my beloved Yukari will be there when it happens… and maybe… I’ll get to see my parents again… thought Minato before he was pulled out of his thoughts by someone knocking on his door. “W-who is it?” Minato asked.
“It’s me… Aigis… may I please come in?” the female voice of the Anti-Shadow Suppression android asked from the other side of the door.
“Oh, uh s-sure,” said Minato as he got up from his desk and opened the door to let the android in.
As Aigis walked into the room, a content smile was on her face. “Thank goodness. I’m so happy to see you again,” Aigis said, before her smile changed into a gloomy expression as something seemed to cross her mind.
“I-it’s good to see you again, too, Aigis,” Minato said with a smile that quickly turned into a frown at Aigis’ downcast look. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry to show up so suddenly, but… I really needed to talk to you,” the android said.
“N-no problem,” Minato said with a small smile. “What’s on your mind?”
“I… I remember everything. Everyone seems to have forgotten, but I remember. That day, we...” Aigis said, sadness evident in her voice as she began to cry.
“Th-that’s right,” Minato said, a small, sad smile on his face as he looked down at the ground.
“I’m sorry… it’s just that… when I remembered… I was afraid you might go somewhere far away… like you did at the last battle…” said Aigis.
Minato chose to remain silent. As much as he wanted to reassure Aigis that that wouldn’t happen, he knew for a fact that it wasn’t true.
Aigis looked up at Minato. “Graduation’s today, isn’t it?” the android asked Minato.
“Oh! Th-that’s right! I should probably get going-” Minato said,
“I’m sorry. The ceremony’s already begun…” Aigis said sadly.
“Oh…” said Minato, looking dejected.
Aigis walked over to the nearby window and smiled "Such nice weather outside… Do you remember? The promise we all made?" the android asked her human friend and companion.
Minato nodded solemnly. “Of course I do…” he said.
"Good. Why don't we go there and wait for the others…? We can enjoy the view of this peaceful city…" Aigis suggested,
Minato closed his eyes "The school's roof… Yeah… let's go..." Minato said before he followed the android out of the room. Together, man and machine made their way towards Gekkoukan High School.
Meanwhile, at the Gekkoukan High School Auditorium...
All the students were seated in rows and columns for the senior Graduation Ceremony as the senior class representative spoke at the podium that had been set up for the event.
"The time to part has finally come. Though this is our last day together, we want the senior class to know that you've truly earned our respect. We wish each of you good health, happiness, and prosperity. On this auspicious occasion, I wish you all a fond farewell on behalf of the student body," the class representative said, concluding her speech as the crowd broke out in applause. Her role for the ceremony finished, the class representative took a bow and left the stage.
"Next, a word from the valedictorian," a teacher announced. "From Class D, Mitsuru Kirijo."
Mitsuru stepped from behind the curtain and walked up to the podium and making a respectful bow to the teacher. "Thank you," Mitsuru said as she looked out to her audience, standing proudly as she began her speech.
"This past year, I accepted an important responsibility as Student Council President. When I first addressed you from this podium, I spoke to you all about seizing opportunity while you had the chance. Well, it must have been fate that intervened and gave me an important reminder of this. As many of you may know, my father unexpectedly…"
When she thought about what she was about to say next, a nagging feeling in her mind seemed to be triggered, cutting her off mid-sentence. Mitsuru shook her head and dismissed the feeling before she attempted to continue her speech.
"H-He… unexpectedly passed away, due to sudden illness…" Once again, the nagging feeling within her mind was triggered, this time with greater force. It was starting to feel as though she was telling a lie, as if half of those words she had spoken… weren't true at all. As the nagging feeling started to get overwhelming, Mitsuru looked down and placed her hand on her forehead.
"Sudden… illness…?" Mitsuru muttered as the feeling in her mind began to grow stronger by the second.
Meanwhile, Mitsuru’s sudden stumble with her speech had caused the entire crowd of students to begin stirring, as there were few times where the newly anointed Kirijo Group CEO had ever fumbled with her words.
"Wow, that's rare. I've never heard her stumble in a speech before,” one of the graduating seniors said, a frown on her face.
"It's a big day… It must be tough thinking about her father,” another nearby senior said, sympathy evident in his voice.
From the crowd, four students suddenly jumped from their seats. These students were Akihiko Sanada, Yukari Takeba, Fuuka Yamagishi, and Junpei Iori. Akihiko and Fuuka looked around as memories that seemed to have been long forgotten resurfaced with nearly overwhelming force and clarity.
"I-we-!" Fuuka Yamagishi started to stammer as her memories began to return in full force.
"Oh… I- I..." Junpei Iori started shouting.
"That's right! I remember! Our promise!" Yukari Takeba exclaimed, her eyes wide with both shock and realization as the memories she had made during the past year, and the memories she had made with her boyfriend, Minato Arisato, along with them.
Mitsuru's eyes widened as her own memories began to return. "I… I remember…" Mitsuru nodded before continuing her speech. “ Yes… upon my father's death, I was set adrift, stripped of my reason to live. But now… I have found something else to live for. No longer will I run from the future. I will face it head on, in memory of my father's will. I am resolved, and without reservation! This is because…" Mitsuru said, a smile appearing on her face as she caught sight of her friends starting to gather.
"It is because I made such wonderful, such priceless friends. And promised to each other that we will never lose hope, no matter what tomorrow may bring!" she shouted as she left the podium, not caring about the knocked over mic, and leapt from the stage to rejoin her dear friends.
"Senpai!" Fuuka shouted. "We finally remember!"
Junpei shot a smirk at all of them. "We should probably get goin'!" he said. "Minato and Aigis… betcha five hundred yen they're already there."
Mitsuru nodded in agreement. "Yes, of course! I can hardly wait! Everyone, let's go!"
And on that note, the five students rushed out of the auditorium, completely ignoring the shocked and clammering crowd they had left behind.
Meanwhile, on the Gekkoukan High School Rooftop…
Minato's entire body was lying on the stone seat, his hands clasped on his torso, with his head head resting on Aigis’ lap. Cherry blossoms from nearby trees were flying overhead, and the warm sunlight and gentle breeze were enveloping Minato’s resting body. As she watched the cherry blossoms blow about in the wind, Aigis held out her hand to catch a blossom, a small smile on her face as she looked at the small, pink petal in her hand.
"The wind feels so nice," the android said. "This is my first time experiencing spring."
Minato nodded as he gazed at the hundreds of small pink petals gliding through the sky. Yeah… it's the perfect place to take a nap , he thought to himself with a small, sad smile on his face.
A few moments of what could only be described as a calm, peaceful quiet passed by before the wind blew the cherry blossom out of Aigis' hand. The android looked up, following the blossom as it disappeared into the blue above.
"But, this season will eventually pass." Aigis said as she looked down at Minato, who seemed to be quite sleepy. Perhaps she should set a wake-up call if he fell asleep before their friends arrived. “After fighting alongside you, and facing the world's end, I finally began to understand… what it means to live. Thinking for yourself… not running away… accepting the inevitable… all things eventually come to an end... every living thing will one day disappear... only by accepting this can one discover what they truly want… what the meaning of their life will be..."
"I understand now why I was so tormented by my lack of strength... protecting others became more than just an order I had to obey... I wanted to do it for my own reasons. I realized this once I decided to try and prevent the Fall,” Aigis continued, her gaze returning to the sky as she spoke. “When I thought I might never see you again, something else became clear to me… what I wanted most," Aigis said as tears formed in her eyes. Unable to stop herself from crying tears of happiness, Aigis smiled and looked at Minato.
"And so... I made up my mind. I decided that I would continue to protect you. I want to be your strength. I know I'm not the only one who can do this… but that's okay,” the android said as she started to happily sob. "My life… will be worth living if it's for this reason…"
Minato smiled. "Aigis…" he said as Aigis placed her hand on his cheek, her synthetic tears continuing to fall onto him as the android continued to cry.
"Ha ha… thank you…" the android sobbed.
Minato slowly raised his trembling hand to her cheek to wipe off the tears. "D-Don't… cry… it’ll… be a-all right."
As he continued to wide away the tears, Aigis closed her eyes and clasped Minato's hand in her own. "You're right..." the android sobbed. "What am I doing? I understand now… so I should be happy." Aigis said as she let go of Minato's hand, letting it return to his stomach.
Nearby, a voice that both Minato and Aigis recognized as Junpei’s cried out “Hey,” causing Aigis to beam at the sound of their friend’s voice.
“Everyone!” Aigis cried out happily as she looked over her shoulder in the direction the voice had come from. "I realize now that I have friends as well..." Aigis said. "You don't have to save the world to find meaning in life. Sometimes… all you need is something simple… like someone to take care of. I’ll keep on living no matter what, so that I can protect you. Thank you… for everything."
As the gentle spring sunlight warmed his body, Minato started to feel sleepy, and found himself struggling to keep his eyes open. Whatever he had left of his will power was quickly fading fast, along with his life. Although she had noticed Minato’s apparent exhaustion, Aigis still hadn’t quite picked up on what it meant as she smiled down at Minato. “You must be tired… please, get some rest… I’ll stay right here with you…” the android said.
Finally losing the will power to keep his eyes open, Minato Arisato closed his eyes and let his exhaustion carry him off to his eternal rest…
The sound of a familiar opera melody reaching his ears caused Minato Arisato to stir from his slumber. Opening his eyes, Minato found himself sitting in what was unmistakably the Velvet Room, taking the form of a large hotel elevator that was rapidly ascending towards some unknown destination. Taking a look down at himself, Minato found that he was clad in only a soft blue robe of some kind and a pair of boxer shorts.
As he took a look around the Velvet Room, Minato noticed that his attendant, Elizabeth, was nowhere to be found, and sitting on the sofa where Igor usually sat was a man that he didn’t recognize. And yet, the blue-haired boy couldn’t help but feel as though this man was very familiar somehow.
As though he were sensing Minato’s gaze upon him, the mysterious man, who had black hair tied back into a ponytail and wore a vanilla white suit with a black turtleneck underneath, black dress shoes, and a mask that covered about three-fourths of his face, through which only a single orange eye could be seen, while the rest of the mask took on the form of an elegant butterfly wing, spoke up.
“Ah, so you’ve awakened at last. Welcome back to the Velvet Room, Redeemer of Man. It’s so nice to finally be able to speak with you face to face like this,” the man said, his smile concealed by his mask.
Minato cleared his throat before speaking. “Forgive me for asking, but who are you exactly? I don’t recognize you, but you seem very familiar somehow,” he asked the man in front of him, who chuckled.
“Ah, yes, that is quite understandable. I suppose you wouldn’t recognize me in this form. But, perhaps you would recognize me better like this?” the man said before, with a flash of light, he transformed into a blue butterfly that Minato immediately recognized.
“You’re that butterfly I kept seeing all over the place back on Port Island,” Minato exclaimed as the butterfly chuckled and returned to its humanoid form.
“Indeed I am. Allow me to properly introduce myself. I am called Philemon, creator of the Velvet Room and all who dwell within it, Igor and your former attendant Elizabeth included. I have retrieved you from the Great Seal to speak of dire matters regarding your next journey. If all goes well, you needn’t perish in order to win the Battle for Everyone’s Souls this time, but instead live a long and happy life, a future that by all means should’ve rightfully been yours if not for the Kirijo Group’s meddling,” Philemon said, his voice deadly serious as he spoke.
Minato tilted his head to the side a little in confusion. “My next journey?” he asked, curiosity in his voice.
“Indeed,” Philemon said as he waved his hand across the table, causing a map that depicted lands that Minato knew for a fact were nowhere to be found on Earth. “Behold, the world of Remnant. Many eons ago, this was an old experimentation ground for myself and my brother and counterpart, Nyarlathotep. It was a prototype, if you will, for the world you know and gave your life to save from itself. Those who lived in this world revered the two of us as the ‘God of Light’ and the ‘God of Darkness’ respectively. However, when certain events transpired that caused humanity to go to far astray for either of us to do anything to prevent the world from falling into ruin. Thus, we had no choice but to abandon it,” Philemon explained, sadness evident in his voice. “However, despite the ruin that befell Remnant in our absence, it seems that humanity, in what I can only describe as a true testament to my faith in them, along with an even younger species known as the faunus, has found a way to survive in the eons that have passed since then."
“I see…” Minato said thoughtfully. “But, if I may ask, what exactly are these ‘faunus’ you mentioned?”
“Truly remarkable creatures, they are,” he said with a fond smile on his face that was concealed by his mask. “For the most part, they resemble humans, however, they also have certain anatomical traits shared with most animals found on both Earth and Remnant, thus allowing them to possess particular senses that are far superior than that of the average human. Sadly, humanity, as I’m sure you know, has a tendency to fear and oftentimes outright despise that which is different from themselves. And thus, there are certain aspects of human society in Remnant that treat the faunus as second-class citizens at best, and nothing more than worthless animals or slave labor at worst, simply because they have these animal features. Even after the faunus won a war for their civil rights, the cancer that is racism and discrimination persists, thus resulting in the creation of the White Fang organization.”
“The White Fang? What’s that?” Minato asked, interest in his voice as he spoke.
“The White Fang is, or rather was, a faunus civil rights organization. Initially, they pushed for equality between humanity and faunus via peaceful means,” Philemon explained before shaking his head in disappointment. “Sadly, these methods did not produce the results they so desperately wanted, and as a result, the founder of the group was forced to stand aside. The current leader of the organization is of the belief that actions speak louder than words, and has thus resorted to more aggressive, often violent measures in their pursuit of equality, causing the entire organization to be labeled as a terrorist militia. The White Fang branch in the Kingdom of Vale in particular is exceptionally violent, thus causing the humans of Remnant to respond violently towards the White Fang, who then repay the violence with more violence. As a result of this vicious cycle, the Creatures of Grimm have begun to drastically increase in number, with newer, far more vicious and deadly types of Grimm coming into existence at an alarming rate.”
“And what are these Creatures of Grimm?” Minato asked, starting to get a grasp on just how serious the situation in the world of Remnant was becoming.
“The Grimm are a race of vicious, brutal, mindless monsters not dissimilar from the Shadows you and your comrades faced while climbing the Tower of Demise in the hopes of putting an end to the Dark Hour. Like the Shadows, they are attracted to the negativity generated by both humans and faunus alike. However, where the Shadows from the Tower of Demise fed upon the minds and psyche of their victims, assimilating their Shadow-selves and thus reducing those lost souls to nothing more than empty shells or husks, the Creatures of Grimm feed on… everything else, if you take my meaning,” replied Philemon.
Minato nodded in understanding before something else came to mind. “I see… forgive me for asking, but… if you’ve pretty much abandoned this… Remnant place as a lost cause, why are you getting yourself involved with it again?”
“Because, as I’ve said before, I still believe in both the humans and faunus who call the world of Remnant home,” Philemon explained. “Thus, before my brother and I left Remnant to focus on other projects, your world among them, I arranged for an agent of mine to constantly be reincarnated until both humanity and faunus-kind stood united against the ever-present darkness that threatens to consume it. Only then, would we return. While the humans and faunus of Remnant have mastered the powers of Aura and Semblance, as well as made use of the crystallized pieces of magic my brother and I left behind, known to them as Dust, I am… less than satisfied with my agent’s progress over these last few millennia, and judging from the White Fang’s sudden shift from peaceful protests to outright terrorist acts and the drastic increase in the numbers of the Creatures of Grimm, I daresay that things in Remnant, while it has managed to limp on after my brother and I left it, are worse than ever before, and it is most certainly headed for unavoidable ruin, and only a great defender has a hope of saving it.”
Minato closed his eyes and smiled, knowing full well where this was going. “And let me guess, that’s where I come in,” he said.
“Indeed. What greater defender could there be than the Messiah who won the Battle for Everyone’s Souls, and the only known Persona-user who has ever managed to unlock the omnipotent power of the Universe Arcana, as opposed to merely the World Arcana as your two sucessors have?” Philemon said, a proud smile on his face that was concealed by his mask
Minato thought about the situation for a moment. It was either he go off to this Remnant place and begin his journey to save the world once again, or he spend an eternity chained and suffering to the Great Seal while Remnant lived on borrowed time that, from the sounds of it, was rapidly running out. He didn’t really have a choice in the matter.
“I assume that someone will be keeping the Great Seal intact in my absence?” the bluenette asked the masked man in front of him.
“Naturally. Furthermore, you will no longer require use of your Evoker to summon your Personas. However, be forewarned that once you have arrived in the world of Remnant, you will need to work on rebuilding the power of you Social Links in order to regain your full potential, for even the Universe Arcana is powerless without forging the bonds as powerful as those as the ones that aided you in unlocking its omnipotent power to begin with,” Philemon explained before he held out his hand, causing what was unmistakably a trio of Persona tarot cards to appear in his hand.
“Now then, due to the nature of the world of Remnant, I’m afraid that I can only allow you to start with these three Personas. Perhaps, once you’ve managed to forge more unbreakable bonds with those who call Remnant home, you can further increase the number of Personas that dwell within the Sea of your Soul. We wouldn’t want to make things too easy, now, would we?” Philemon said, a smile hidden by his mask while a meaningful look was present in his visible eye, while Minato returned his smile with a smirk of his own.
“Agreed. Waking up, going to school, and saving the world’s no fun if I can just blast my way through every single challenge and kick everyone’s ass twenty times over. So, who will I be starting out with on this journey?” Minato asked Philemon.
“Your original Persona, Orpheus, Izanagi, and Arsene,” Philemon listed off, the trio of tarot cards leaving his hand as he spoke their names and flying into Minato, who closed his eyes and welcomed the trio of Personas into his heart, and into the Sea of his Soul.
Opening his eyes once more after a few moments, Minato looked Philemon dead in the eye before he spoke.”Thank you for these generous gifts, Philemon,” he said, bowing his head in respect.
“Think nothing of it, for these are but a few of the gifts I have arranged for you to receive upon your arrival in Remnant,” Philemon said before snapping his fingers.
Almost instantly, the Velvet Room and Philemon began to fade to black as Minato began to feel an irresistible pull towards some unknown destination. The last thing he heard before everything went completely black was Philemon’s voice in the distance.
“Now, go forth into the land of the living once more, my son. May the cards be in your favor.”