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To Free Yourself-Persona 5 Glimpses

Chapter Text

He sleeps. And dreams.

The room is red, deep red. It is a shade somewhere between blood and cherry nail polish. There is a chair in front of him, straight-backed, unoccupied. Except it is stuck to the ground by a heavy chain and large metal ball. Then there are two chairs, then three, then four. Each one gains its own ball and chain as he blinks in confusion. Finally there are five chairs, each with chains, and he feel they are calling for him to sit down. But he cannot move, and he finds himself shaking in terror as he stands there.

Why am I so scared? He thinks, trying to calm himself. It’s only a bunch of stupid chairs in a stupid dream. And what does this dream mean anyway? That I’m terrified of sitting?

These chairs symbolize the ones that came before you. Each one gained power, but dealt with terrible challenges and ordeals. But all managed to break these chains that bound them through revelation…or sacrifice.

Who’s there? Who are you?

Look at the chairs again. Do you see the figures sitting in them?

Yes, but barely. They look blurred, out of focus.

They have already gained freedom from themselves, and turned back terrible powers that threatened to destroy all. I am showing you this, because you are yourself trapped, but have the chance to become free.

I don’t understand. What does any of this mean? And you said the others had power…but what kind?

You have not awakened to your own power yet. But you will soon, and you will need it to confront the darkness that awaits you. For a grave peril is once more threatening the world.

The chairs fade before him, and the room is plunged into darkness. He feels himself beginning to fall.

Return to the waking world now. But remember, I will be by your side, even when you do not see me there.

But who are you?

He falls, and sees a golden butterfly fluttering above him. He stretches out his hand to it…and wakes.

He barely remembers the dream.

 

Chapter Text

April 8th, 2016, 11:20am

As the train headed north toward Shibuya, Tokyo, Yato Koregami shifted in his seat. He had just come to the city two days ago and was making a quick errand at the bookstore to pick up supplies for the new school term.

Well, that’s what Dad believes I’m doing. Yato thought wryly. Now that I’m out from under his thumb, why shouldn’t I try something fun?

It had been a bit of a relief to transfer to Tokyo’s Shujin High School, the elite preparatory academy known for the bright careers of its graduates. After 16 years in a dead end town crushed under the high expectations of his father, Yato didn’t know what he would have done if the chance hadn’t come to get out. His Father, Souske Koregami, was a businessman first and last, putting in long hours at an insurance company in Osaka every day. Souske expected his son to follow him into the business world, and as soon as Yato was six, had imposed on him a series of extra work, cram school courses, and personal lectures. Nothing short of the best would please Dad, and any “failures” would be met with Souske’s fierce temper, bare hand, and sometimes confinement in his room without dinner. Any activity Yato pursued that would not lead toward his set career was strictly forbidden, including free weekend time and school clubs. Sports, however, were encouraged to “toughen him up,” and in middle school, Yato was signed up for Kendo club. He was, however, not very athletic, and struggled to stay in the one social group allowed to him while taking out his frustration on the wooden targets.

His real escape, though, was books.

Even though his father assigned reading from finance texts way over his head, Yato learned early how to sneak the latest novels, manga, and fantasy books home in his bag to read when he was bored with studying. These books took him wherever he wanted, and helped, somewhat, to ease his loneliness and boredom. Still, once the book was over, nothing was different. He was still stuck in his unchanging life, doomed to follow in his father’s path and too cowardly to refuse him. Yato knew well from Dad’s lectures and his neighbors and teachers comments the life he was expected to lead.

Do well at the best schools, getting the best grades at every level.
Go on to the best college. Study Finance, Business, or another valuable major.
Join a good company. Move up the corporate ladder to the very top.
Marry a nice woman from a rich and successful family.
Have three or more kids.
Make sure they do excellent in school…

I feel like I have a ball and chain attached to my neck. Yato thought bitterly. It’s dragging me down and preventing me from doing anything that they don’t approve of. I only want to be free, really free! Is that too much to ask?
Glancing up, Yato looked at the board of articles pasted to the sides of the train. From one side to the next was nothing but bad news.

“A popular personality has been suspected of tax evasion. Accused of hiding several million yen in income…”

“An uproar broke out over an affair with the innocent schoolgirl idol. Officials involved in the matter are staying quiet about the identity of her lover…”

“Extensive bullying…”

“Died in their room from an apparent strangling…”

Yato looked away at the wall of text. He didn’t read the paper or check the news much, but from what he’d seen, things all over Japan, and worldwide, were going terribly, and every day brought still more scandals, murders, and violence. Yato sighed and got up as the train pulled into his stop. The characters in his books might want to save the world, but was this world worth saving? And could he make any difference in it at all?

Once out of the station, Yato pulled out his phone and checked the email. Not much there, just a link to Shujin’s school regulations and a reminder that term started tomorrow. Yato looked up as he started to cross the busy intersection, but just then, felt cold. The hair prickled on the back of his neck, and as he stared the people all around him slowed, and then stopped in place. Yato turned in both directions to see that as far as he looked, everyone was frozen like statues. Even stranger, a high-pitched whining sound had come up from nowhere, and the air was getting cold.

What the hell? What’s going on? Yato shivered, suddenly very afraid and confused. Is this some kind of joke?

Suddenly, a whoosh came from the far end of the intersection, and he saw a bright blue fire had sprouted up from nowhere, and was licking the frozen people and hard pavement. As scared as Yato was, some part of him was suddenly curious.

Finally, something interesting!

Chapter Text

 

 

April 9th, 2016, 11:55pm

The costume was assembled in bits and pieces, but always with a clear intention in mind. He had visited five different costume and vintage clothing stores, always entering quietly; picking his items after making sure no one was looking, and leaving just as he had come. The mask and gloves had come from a cosplay spot, the coat from a secondhand men’s store, and the jacket from some fancy dress place above a cat café in Akihabara. He was not a fashionable person; that would be Anzu, who was surprisingly intrigued by the whole “gang of thieves” idea once it was explained to her.

I can’t believe I’m doing this he thought as he trudged down the street. He was actually going to commit crimes, go against the law, and take down the corrupt. It was just like those stories of Lupin and Mysterious Thief Z that he had read growing up. And he would be kidding himself to not admit that the idea thrilled him. He had even chosen a name, “Phantom,” although what he was a phantom of was still unclear.

So they think I’m a nice kid, huh? He mused as he walked toward the train station. Wait till they see the Phantom in action! I bet my dad would lose his shit if he knew it was me!

His phone rang, jolting him out of his fantasies, and Yato picked up.

“Hey, Ryuji.”

“I got my stuff all set, Yato! Just you wait! I’m going to be the slickest, coolest thief anyone has ever seen! And I’m sure the ladies will swoon over my mysterious allure!”

“In your dreams, Ryuji.” Yato smirked. “So, are we meeting at the usual place?”

“Yeah. My roommate’s gone for the night so there’s no problem. Hey, Yato…”

“What is it?”

“Why are we doing this anyway? I mean…we’re rebelling against the man, but how will stealing cash and tagging walls solve anything?”

Yato felt his good mood vanish. This question again! He didn’t know either, but he couldn’t just go through the patterns of his boring life, acting like a meek and cowardly nobody! That was ridiculous! “Look, we’ll figure something out. We can’t just sit on our asses doing nothing, you know?”

“Yeah, I got ya. By the way, did you hear the news?”

“No, what happened?”

“The branch train derailed a few hours ago. They say the operator did it deliberately. A lot of people are dead, man. What the hell is going on?”

Yato’s stomach clenched. There was another unexplainable tragedy? And what was with that…thing he had seen the other day? The thing that had come out of the flames was giant bird with no head and a top hat for some reason. And it had eaten a few people…

“Dude? You still there?”

“Yeah.” Yato shook his head. “Sorry, Ryuji. I’ll meet you at the bus stop in five minutes.”

“Got it. See you, man.” Ryuji signed off.

Yato continued down the street, mostly empty now except for the odd beggar or businessman out late. As he crossed a side street, he looked out and saw the crescent shaped moon blazing up in the sky. The smog drifting from a nearby pipe did it no favors, though. He turned and headed down the street, and heard his watch beep midnight.

And then, all of the lights went out.

Yato turned in both directions, there was a man on his left, holding a cell phone and making a rude gesture. He wasn’t moving. Neither was the old woman further down the street. And the temperature was plummeting.

Dammit! It’s happening again! What the hell is this? Are there more of those…things out there?

He ran back out to the main street, and looked up to find the sky had turned blood red. The moon was larger than before, and seemed to shine with an eerie greenish light. As he stared, Yato heard a snarl behind him, and the sound of ripping metal…

He whipped around to find a monster not three yards from him. It was huge and faceless, with razor sharp claws, multiple spidery legs, and a skull in the middle of its chest. It was only when the skull opened its hollow mouth and shrieked that he turned and ran.

Yato pelted down the streets, the monster hot on his heels. He had to dodge and weave around frozen people at every turn, sometimes shoving them to the ground in an effort to speed up. All the while his mind raced in panic. What were these things? How could he lose them? He had only been in the city for three days, damn it! He didn’t know where to run! Yato jumped a wall, turned a corner, and found himself behind a chain link fence and brick wall. No, dammit no! I’m trapped…

“Yato…help!” And as he turned he found Ryuji lying on the ground soaked in sweat. “Those…things! They trapped me in here! Where’s Anzu? Is she…?”

“I…I’m OK!” Anzu struggled up from the other corner, with a bruise on her cheek. “I don’t know what’s going on, but that wall won’t last against them!” She pointed with a shaking hand to where the brick was crumbling against repeated blows. “We have to climb that wall! I can give you a boost, Ryuji…”

“I’m not leaving you!” Ryuji yelled. “We can fight these guys off somehow, right?” He looked nervously at Yato, begging him to help. Yato stared back at him. What could he do? These were his friends; he had to protect them… but how?

The wall behind them collapsed in a cloud of thick smoke. Yato covered his nose to keep from breathing it in, and then herd Ryuji scream. “Get away from us, you bastards!” Then there was the sound of a metal trash can hitting something and falling to the ground. There was a snarl and a sound of impact. Before Yato could react, Ryuji flew past him and collided with the wall. He fell to the ground, wincing.

“Ryuji!” Yato yelled, and turned to face the monsters. There were four of them, each one as ugly as the last. Hatred welled up in his stomach, and he charged at them, screaming like a maniac. He had no weapon, nothing to use, but punched the closest monster as hard as he could. It responded by slapping him against the wall, face-first.

Yato collapsed to the ground, his side and head screaming in pain. He could feel blood dripping down his forehead and into his eyes, and hear Anzu gasping in panic behind him.

I’m going to die here. He thought, trembling. No, we’re going to die here, and no one will know that we even mattered! I don’t want this! I want to know why! I want to protect Anzu and Ryuji! I wan the truth!

Boom

Yato froze as a strange pulse went through him. It was coming from his head, and then more sounded, louder and faster. As his thoughts whirled, a sudden realization came to him. Yes, I can save them. I have the power. I can feel it rising in me. All I have to do…

He got up, hardly knowing what was happening, but feeling surer by the second…

…Is say the word.

He grinned, and spoke.

“Persona.”

Fire ran down his body, filling him with power, changing him. And then the world shattered.

I am thou, and thou art I. From the sea of thy soul I have come to you. I am Arsene, strongest of thieves!

The voice was his voice, and he felt stronger, taller, and brimming with power! He looked at the monsters and felt no fear. He would destroy them like the filth they were!

He charged the monsters, shaking aside their attacks with speed, and countered, punching the nearest one. He then grabbed the one next to it and slashed it with his claws. It screeched and died, and then two more were on him. He roared, and flame came out of his mouth, scorching the second and wounding the third. It and the last one slashed at him, but he punched them both into the nearest wall, before plunging his claws into their hideous forms. One died, and the other screeched, but he slashed off its head. He felt its tar-like blood coat his form, and them let it drop, as it dissolved, like the rest, into shadow. The monsters were dead.

He relaxed, and felt the flames come up his form again. His mind and body swam for a second, and then he was back. Yato stood, gasping, as his watch beeped 1am. He looked over at Ryuji and Anzu, who were both staring at him in awe and terror. Why did they look so scared? And what…exactly…was that?
“Yato.” Ryuji began, and then paused. “What…happened to you?”

“I…don’t know.” Yato gasped, staring at himself. What was this power? He had said…Persona… Suddenly his legs buckled, and he collapsed. He felt so tired, so drained. Maybe, a nap would help…

And he dropped into unconsciousness.