Sunday, May 19, 2013

Persona x Detective Naoto: Destiny

Translated second chapter of the Persona x Detective novel.


March 31   Inside Yagokoro

After spending several busy yet peaceful days with my friends upon my return to Inaba, I told everyone, “I’ll settle the case and return as soon as I can,” parted with them for a short time with painful reluctance, and visited Yagokoro one week after the gravure photoshoot. It was the day before the start of the new school term.

Most of the necessary preparations were being taken care of by the police, and thus on that day, there was nothing in particular that I had to do. Therefore, I took the opportunity to do a preliminary investigation of the Yagokoro department that I owed much to, and at the same time took a walk around the area.

Yagokoro was a mid-sized city with a population of about 400,000 people, and as a city with many commuters, it continued to quickly develop. The sudden expansion of the city created a peculiar phenomenon. There was an interesting gap between Yagokoro Station, with its nearby rows of modern buildings, and the suburbs with a nostalgic feel to them, so much so that it could be mistaken for having fallen into a timeslip.

Having finished my walk, I headed in the direction of the Yagokoro police station so as to give my greetings to Touko-san. The police station was a brick building with a historical feel and immediately stood out in the area around the station, so searching for it was unnecessary.

I passed down a tree-lined street that gave off the feeling of dancing sakura petals and continued into the station. I entered the glass-walled entryway and inquired of the first young policewoman I laid eyes on.

“Is Assistant Inspector Touko Aoi of the Criminal Investigation Bureau here?”

“...Um, please excuse me, but who might you be?”

She was openly questioning me. Thus, I explained, “I am the detective Naoto Shirogane.”

“Eh! You’re the Detective Prince?”

In response to the policewoman’s words, the other people in the station began to murmur as they examined me: “Huh? That Detective Prince?” “You’re kidding, right? It’s the real thing?” “...Huh, so that’s her. She’s smaller than I thought.” Suddenly, the young policewoman whispered in my ear.

“...The truth is, everyone in my family is a fan of yours, Naoto-san. Um, if it’s all right, could I get your autograph...”

The policewoman’s eyes were shining as if her initially suspicious behavior was nothing more than a lie. Immediately, someone cleared his throat loudly from behind her.

“...Hey you, if I remember correctly, aren’t you on duty right now?”

A well-built man in the prime of life was scowling at the policewoman, who said, “P-please excuse me” and quickly departed.

The man introduced himself as the assistant chief. The assistant chief nodded, his brow creased, and said, “I heard from Aoi-kun that you were coming.” I immediately inquired into Touko-san’s whereabouts, and the assistant chief answered with a troubled expression, “Aoi-kun is, uh, at her ‘lover’s’ place... She may mean an eccentric friend who she gets along well with.

“Er, Tetsuma Tsuge, the supervisor of the Special Forensics Division, is a bit eccentric... He’s one of those guys who came to the station from outside, but he’s done things like asking permission to make a laboratory in the basement, and wanting the door to the basement rooms to be on keycard access for security’s sake... Really, it’s unbelieveable.”

The assistant chief commented, though he really was grumbling. He told me that the fifth basement floor was the office of the Special Forensics Division, at the same time as he warned me, “It’s better for you if you don’t stay too long.”

At that point, after taking a careful look at our surroundings, the assistant chief whispered in my ear:

“...Er, the truth is, my wife and daughter are fans of yours, so can you give me your autograph later?”

This time it was my turn to let out, “Haa...” and make a troubled face.

With his card key, the assistant chief opened the door on which was written “Unauthorized Entry Prohibited”, and I proceeded past. It was a brand-new, modern mechanical sliding door that did not seem congruous with such an old-fashioned building.

Because it was on the fifth basement floor, I hit the elevator button. However, though I waited for a time, the elevator did not come. When I checked the display above the door, the number shown had stopped on “B5”. Was it out of order? I was left with no choice but to take the stairs.

I descended into the basement one floor at a time, down the gloomy staircase illuminated by the green emergency light. It was when I was approaching the fourth basement floor. Up until then, the sound of my shoes clicking against the linoleum floor had been the sole BGM, but hectic noises began to echo from the floor below like a rhapsody.

“Hurry! Cut off ‘Genesis’’s power!”

“I-it’s no good! We won’t make it in time!”

“Gah! Dammit! We’ve got no choice! You guys! Everyone hold him down!”

“S-supervisor! ‘Genesis’ is! With our power, we can no longer – w-waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

“...Not working. Oi! You guys! For now, focus on escaping up above!”

An angry roar mixed into the cacophony. The urgency of the situation was evident from both the voices and their words. I flew down several flights of stairs and sped toward the fifth basement level. Along the way, I passed by a mass of people in lab coats.

“Message from the supervisor! Call someone, anyone, as long as it’s not a member of the Special Riot Police!”

When I asked, “What’s going on?” the people in lab coats looked at me as if I was a foreign object, and the most senior among them spoke for all of them when he answered, “It’s dangerous down below! You run too!” His voice held no end of frustration. Leaving behind only those words, the man also climbed the stairs at full speed.

It was baffling. It seemed that I would not understand the situation unless I witnessed it with my own eyes. I hurried to the fifth basement floor.

I came out on a floor with a solid iron door that had been flung open. What lay sprawled out without interruption before my eyes was a bare white floor. It had a dreary feel to it. There were also countless digital, robotic-seeming gauges that I was unfamiliar with lined up neatly on hooks in the wall.

There no doubt in my mind that this facility here was what they called the laboratory. In other words, that meant the people wearing white lab coats who I had passed by not so long ago were researchers. Why was there a laboratory in the basement of a police station...


Before I had time to think, the surprising spectacle developing before my eyes stole my words away, and I stood frozen. It was as if I was watching a scene from a sci-fi movie.

There was a person squatting on the edge of the floor. From his predominantly red and black clothes and his large physique, I deduced that he was most likely male, and from his hairstyle, around twenty years of age. What was surprising was the glint of that man’s eyes. His left eye glowed with a red light that made me think of a laser pointer.

At the man’s side was the crumpled wreckage of an iron door that looked as if it had been hit and squashed flat with a huge hammer. Parts of the man’s surroundings were also damaged. The walls were broken and the floor gouged.

The next moment, I thought the man’s whole body wavered like steam, and he faced this way and began to dash.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was uncommonly fast. His movements were sleek and brought to mind a leopard or puma. From time to time, he used his agile body to jump at the wall or ceiling; he inexhaustibly ran across the length and width of the open floor.

At last, the truth about the man became clear, and I was struck speechless. His black clothes were torn and his skin peeked through. However, that skin was not that of a human. His looks and figure were humanlike, but what was visible underneath the black clothing – could only be thought of as the substance of a machine.

Adding to my surprise, the aforementioned man was facing a certain familiar person.

Standing in the center of the room with her arms crossed in a daunting pose was Touko Aoi. There was no hint of hesitation in her expression; on the contrary, the slight upward tilt of the corners of her mouth could only be interpreted to mean that she was enjoying the situation.

“...Are you trying to say you would dare raise a hand to me, you impertinent brat?”

“Idiot! Touko! Run away now! Genesis’s gone wild; you can’t get through to him now! There’s no way to return him to his original state except to reboot!”

The middle-aged man wearing work clothes cried out and grabbed Touko-san’s shoulder. He was a man who had a much larger figure than the men in lab coats I had passed by earlier. At a glance, he seemed to be the manager, but from what he was saying, the large man was most likely also a researcher.

“Touko-san! What in the world is this? What’s going on?”

The two of them reacted at the sound of my voice. It seemed like somehow they were the only two left on this floor.

“...Naoto, huh. I’ve been waiting for you to come.”

Keeping her eyes on the approaching man, Touko-san answered quietly.

Because I had just arrived a moment ago, I did not understand all the details, but I was able to deduce that the man named “Genesis” seemed to be running wild. The destruction of the walls and floor was most likely the work of the beastlike man. In addition, it was immediately obvious that that extremely dangerous wild man was attacking Touko-san.

“Boy! You’ve got bad timing! Leave the floor now!”

I shook my head at the large man.

“I cannot leave Touko-san and flee!”

Touko-san was an important person to me. Deserting her and escaping by myself was out of the question.

–It was at that moment. Suddenly, Genesis stopped moving and turned his head to look at me.

When I saw him from up close, he was very tall. When compared to that man, I was the size of a child. Those red eyes were focused on me. Was he sizing me up?

I swallowed hard. I immediately took several steps back. I had a bad feeling about this.

“Dammit! That’s why I told you to run!”

Had I been careless, standing out? He had changed targets. Genesis turned his body to face me and rushed at me in a straight line.

I turned nimbly on my heel. I dashed with all my strength back toward the staircase from which I had come. I thought that I might be able to successfully escape if I made it past the iron door. However, it was a futile struggle. Escape was impossible to begin with. It was the same sort of law that said that no one who encountered a tiger in the jungle would be able to get away, no matter who they may have been.

Right away, I was caught by the nape of the neck by Genesis, shoved roughly to the floor, and brought down. The shock ran through my back and the wind was forcibly knocked out of me.

Genesis was right in front of me as I gritted my teeth against the suffocation and pain. Perhaps he was observing me, but he was looking down on me aimlessly. When I looked closely, he was a boy with an intellectual countenance. However, I could not find any sanity dwelling in either of the man’s eyes, whether it was the right with its wide-open pupil, or the left which emitted a burning red light.

In the next instant, his right arm stretched out vigorously toward my neck, his long fingers snapping around my throat like teeth. In that way, the man lifted me with no more difficulty than a child with a stuffed animal and dangled me in midair with one hand.

His fingertips dug in deeply and painfully. “Gu...” A strained noise squeezed out of my windpipe. I used both my hands to try and shake off Genesis’s arm, attempting to resist with all my might. However, in the face of his terrifying physical strength, due to the helplessness of my diminutive stature, I was powerless. My heart was filled more with frustration than with pain.

“Hey! Boy! You okay? Answer me!”

A rough voice echoed across the floor.

“To-Touko, what do we do? Do we shoot him? Aah, but if we screw up, we might hit the boy...”

In the midst of suffocation that felt as if I were drowning, I searched for Touko-san’s figure as my last hope. Why was it? The Touko-san I saw as my vision blurred seemed to be calmer than usual as she watched. Touko-san was smiling.

“Calm down, Tsuge-san. I’ll guarantee Naoto’s future.”

Then, in response to those unbelievable words:

“Y-you’ll guarantee his future – ah! Ohhh! I see, I see! So that’s how it is! If that’s the case, you should’ve said so earlier! Don’t worry me like that!”

The large man called “Tsuge-san” said only words of exasperation as an expression of relief crossed his face.

...Please wait. Why is he relieved? Besides which, what is Touko-san talking about? I don’t understand. Is there some reason for this? Even though I won’t have a future if the current situation continues! Even though I’m about to lose consciousness right now! Even though I will surely die at this rate! I don’t want to die! I mustn’t die! There are still precious people I don’t want to be separated from!

After several more seconds, the intense desire to live also – sank far away into the depths of the ocean, in the midst of despair so deep I could not even groan. Finally, with a “bzt” like the power to a TV being cut off, I ceased to be conscious.

–It was a mysterious world that had neither up nor down, was neither hot nor cold, bright nor dark, wide nor narrow, one that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

I was drifting idly in that strange space. Then, from somewhere far away, a voice addressed me. It was a voice belonging to neither a man nor a woman.

“I am a reflection of thou.”

That voice did not reach my ears but resounded directly in my mind. Who in the world was it? In the first place, where was this? It simply couldn’t be the afterlife, but at the very least, I could not believe that it was the same world I had existed in just a little while ago.

“Dost thou desire power?”

While I was lost in thought, the voice addressed me once again. I grimaced. I was unable to understand the intention of the other’s question very well with my suddenly confused mind.

“We are brethren. Thou hast the potential to obtain power – dost thou desire power?”

So I told it my current candid feelings.

“I don’t want to die yet. There are still many things I must do.”

I did not know whether or not my answer was correct, but those were my true feelings. I had precious friends who it would be difficult to part from, and there were still infinitely many things I wanted to live to do.

“–Very well. In that case, I shall grant thee power.” 

It seemed the other had somehow understood.

“Then what kind of power dost thou desire?”

Yet another incomprehensible question. “Power” was a rather abstract concept.

Right now, if I simply had physical strength, I would be happy. That was because I was frustrated at my own helplessness. If I had more power, I would not lose even to a man larger than myself.

After nodding once, I answered.

“...Yes. I want power! The power to not lose to anyone!”

Though immediately after I answered, a small seed of discomfort sprouted within me. Why was Kujikawa-san’s face in the back of my mind? The words that she had said replayed slowly in my head.

“I’m glad I’m a girl, you know?”

Was that how it was? I had nearly repeated the same mistake again.

“...Excuse me. Please disregard what I just said.”

She had said I was her best friend. I hoped I wasn’t being too conceited, but she accepted me, Naoto Shirogane, as I was. It was similar to how I accepted the “girl” that was Rise Kujikawa as she was. I must not deny myself. After all, that helplessness was also undeniably a part of me.

“I want power. However, I want the power to support someone.”

When I thought about it, Kujikawa-san’s power was also for the sake of supporting “us.”

I should act as my true self, and moreover, constantly do so to the best of my ability. That was what living meant for me, Naoto Shirogane.

A moment later, the voice laughed.

“–Yeah. That answer is just like you – my other self.”

Immediately, my consciousness drifted far away. Just before I shut down, a shadow in the corner of my eye took my own form. Somehow it seemed that I had faced the same Shadow that had previously returned to me. At the same time as I entertained that notion, my consciousness scattered like exploding fireworks.

“–To myself, the power of Amatsu Mikaboshi.”

My lips moved as if possessed. The words that I myself had spoken were as a trigger and my eyelids opened.

What was in front of my eyes was the pure white ceiling belonging to the dreary floor where I had originally been. However, there was one clear difference from when I had lost consciousness before. My gaze rested calmly on the existence floating in midair.

“–This is my... new ‘Persona’.”

March 31   Yagokoro Police   Special Forensics Division   Supervisor’s Office

The discomfort of my throat still lingered, though I was no longer suffocating. Also, the weight that I felt on my body had increased by several times since before I lost consciousness, and when I looked, the man known as Genesis had his eyes closed and was collapsed completely limp like a toy with dead batteries. Was it because his body was that of a machine? I tried to remove Genesis and stand, but I was not very heavy and was unable to move him an inch with my physical strength.

“...Even so, that surprised me.”

I muttered to myself as I stared at the white ceiling. That I would be able to summon my Persona in the real world...

Vibrations traveled to my back through the floor. Slowly I looked around. I saw people coming down the stairs and onto the floor.

“Supervisor! Are you all right?”

The people that came into sight were brawny uniformed policemen. Behind them on the stairs were the researchers I had passed by.

My gaze returned to Touko-san, who exchanged a glance with the large researcher and said, “Tsuge-san, please deal with this ‘oversized child’.”

“Got it! You guys! Carry Genesis to the adjustment room! Scan his whole body, gather and analyze the data, and then after that fix the door that he destroyed! Ahh, about the restart, I’ll take a look at the results of the inspection, so wait for my instructions on that later!”

Like a swarm of ants carrying a sugar cube back to their anthill, the rushing people crowded around the mechanical being and as one carried it away.

When I had been freed from the heavy weight, Touko-san extended her hand to me. As she drew me towards herself, she said, “I’ll explain the situation to you,” with an unusually serious expression.

“Yeah! In that case, come to the supervisor’s office! I’ll serve you coffee!”

The large researcher, who had moved to stand behind me without my noticing, slapped my back with his massive palm. He himself might have meant it as a light hit, but I stumbled forward involuntarily.

“As you can see, Tsuge-san is a pretty overdramatic guy, but don’t worry, he isn’t a bad person.” Seeing my expression, Touko-san smiled a little.

“Touko! Bastard! Idiot! Who the hell are you calling overdramatic?”

As he spouted profanities, the person called Tsuge was laughing heartily and without any particular ill will. I understood then that this was the “lover” of whom the assistant chief had spoken.

From the glass-walled private room of the supervisor’s office that I was led to, the researchers outside could be observed moving around restlessly, but it seemed to be soundproof, so the voices and noises could not be heard at all.

“...What in the world was that uproar about?”

I immediately asked, sitting on the sofa, but Tsuge-san said, “Well, first have coffee or something and calm down,” and placed cups for three people on the table.

“By the way, the coffee in stainless steel cups is the least hot.”

He put only hot water in the teacup, and in the stainless steel cup and the other he poured coffee. He clearly meant to choose whichever I wanted.

I took a sip of coffee, wanting to wet my throat, and Touko-san began speaking.

“I’ll introduce this old man to you properly. He’s the Special Forensics Division Supervisor, Tetsuma Tsuge.”

“Hey! I’m Tsuge! Nice to meet you!”

At Touko-san’s introduction, Tsuge-san smiled from ear to ear and held up his cup of only water.

“By the way, Tsuge-san is a dirty old man, so watch out.”

“Oi, oi! Don’t say anything that’ll ruin my reputation in front of someone I’m meeting for the first time!”

“Hm? But Tsuge-san, a long time ago, didn’t you touch me here and there all over my body?”

“Idiot! I only investigated your body a little while testing the newest machinery! That’s what I told you! If I was serious, it wouldn’t have been like that, you know?”

“...See? He’s a dirty old man to the core, right?”

Whether it was a joke or for real, I could only shrug my shoulders at their argument.

“So, this boy is Naoto Shirogane, the rumored Detective Prince that Touko requested for an investigation?”

“That’s right.”

Touko-san nodded. It seemed that she had let him know about me beforehand.

“He’s small for a man!”

From the other side of the glass table, Tsuge-san leaned forward and clapped both my arms. Judging by the way he touched me and the way he called me “boy”, it seemed that Tsuge-san somehow thought I was male.

“By the way, who was that person earlier?”

To the question which I posed a second time, Touko-san readily answered, “A robot.”

“Number R-00, codename ‘Genesis’ – that guy’s a specialized Suppression Weapon created for the purpose of fighting Shadows.”

I was surprised but I wasn’t agitated. I had just confirmed his abnormal ability with my own eyes. As for Shadows, I haven’t mentioned them until now, but they were an existence with which I had firsthand experience. Furthermore, as far as Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapons went, I happened to be familiar with several. However, the ones I knew were female types.

“...Naturally, Genesis didn’t cut it as a Suppression Weapon for the purpose of fighting Shadows. To be frank, he was a defective product. So the police took charge of him last year.”

“Still, can’t you at least count him as one of them? Among the robots developed as Suppression Weapons, Genesis has been active for the longest time, his personality is well-developed, and he knows lots of things, right?”

Tsuge-san added to that boastfully.

“So? What’s the whole story behind the police taking charge of Genesis?”

It went without saying that normally one would not happen to find a robot at a police station. The only time that would happen would be in a Hollywood movie. I had also not heard of the existence of a “Special Forensics Division”. There were certainly special circumstances tied into the heart of these mysteries.

Touko-san and Tsuge-san exchanged glances with each other. “I’ll leave it to you,” Tsuge-san replied to Touko-san, who opened her mouth.

“You should be pretty familiar with them too, Naoto – the ‘Kirijo Group’.”

Touko-san’s tone said she had done a “complete investigation” into my past.

“...I see, so the man from before was one of the robots developed by the Kirijo Group?”

Kirijo Group. They were an internationally prominent holdings company, a business whose electronics and AIs were particularly top-class. The multiple Suppression Weapons that I knew had also been created by the Kirijo Group. They each had deep personal connections to the Kirijo Group. Naturally, I recalled the figure of the daughter of the president of the group, an intelligent and beautiful woman.

“That’s right. Good, it looks like this won’t take long. Tsuge-san was originally a researcher in the Kirijo Group’s Robotic Research and Development Division.”

“Nah, not ‘originally.’ I’ve only transferred to the police. Even now I’m a member of Kirijo, ya know? Don’t forget, I’m only stationed here and letting you borrow state-of-the-art robots.”

Saying that, Tsuge-san tilted back his cup of only water and gulped it down.

“Tsuge-san did more than a little in the development of the Suppression Weapons, and he’s got plenty of knowledge about Shadows.”

“Well, even so, the reason Genesis was deployed with the police this time hasn’t got anything to do with Shadows. To make a long story short, to oppose last year’s brutal crimes, the police and the Kirijo Group collaborated and ended up testing the use of humanoid robots in crime scene investigation. That’s when we decided to try Genesis, the failed Suppression Weapon that was smoldering away at the research facility. Then the Kirijo, who were acquainted with Genesis, chose the Yagokoro Police ‘cause Touko Aoi had become a member and they had connections with her, and I became the representative for the Kirijo side.”

Because of Tsuge-san, the people wearing white lab coats and the machinery on this floor were also transferred from the Kirijo Group. Tsuge-san and the other researchers’ main job seemed to be the monitoring and maintenance of the robots, and from the standpoint of the police department whose basement they were renting, they were named the “Special Forensics Division”, but in actuality, they were a separate division within the police department, occupying a position like a Kirijo branch office.

“But you know. If the forensics team is needed to solve a case, I’ll be worked to the bone and Touko won’t apologize at all!”

“...Do you have any complaints?”

Immediately, faced with Touko-san’s cool gaze, Tsuge-san said “Knock on wood!” and his large body shrank. Somehow it seemed that, like me, Tsuge-san was also unable to stand up to Touko-san.

“...Sorry for making you go through something dangerous like that.” Tsuge-san’s voice was unexpectedly low. “Boy, I’ll say it straight, Genesis’s going wild was a mistake in the experiment. In the middle of the mind interference experiment, Genesis went berserk.”

Leaning back hugely on the sofa, Tsuge-san continued, “I stopped it, but he wouldn’t listen to anything I said,” and sent Touko-san a weak smile.

Though her lips were forming the shape of a smile, Touko-san’s gaze was somehow lonely.

“...I’d like to hear the full details of his situation sometime. By the way, will you please answer this?”

I glanced between each of their faces in turn.

“If the fact that I am alive right now is not a lie, will you explain to me how was it that I came to be saved?”

The slight, lingering feeling of something pressing hard against my neck – the things I wanted to know were countless in number, but when it came down to it, right now that was the question I could not overlook.

“When I was attacked by Genesis when he had gone berserk, I lost consciousness. At that time, I thought it was hopeless. Even so, the next time I opened my eyes, he had collapsed and I was unharmed. In addition, just before I lost consciousness, Touko-san said, ‘I will guarantee Naoto’s future.’ What did that mean?”

At my words, the two fell silent and lent me their ears.

“And when Tsuge-san heard Touko-san’s words, he relaxed immediately. And at present I am alive, just like Touko-san said. However, what there was to be relieved about in that situation remains a mystery to me.”

I simply could not decipher the meaning behind Touko-san’s opaque actions.

“Could it be that at that time – Touko-san, didn’t you already know that I would be saved?”

I could come up with only one answer. Until I could confirm the truth with my own eyes, though it was hard to believe so suddenly, that answer was that Touko-san also possessed the same type of ability as myself.

Then Tsuge-san let out a “Huh,” as if in admiration and let his white teeth peek from behind his lips, and the corners of Touko-san’s mouth lifted up in satisfaction. Immediately afterwards, Touko-san closed her eyes lazily and pointedly, but quietly, ordered:

“Answer, Kushinada-Hime.”

In the next instant, a presence formed behind Touko-san where no person had been before. I did not need any time to comprehend the meaning of that divine existence like a celestial maiden, clad in a beautiful robe of blue-green.

“You should know about it too, Naoto. This special power – the one called ‘Persona’.”

The one who opened his mouth and continued from there was Tsuge-san.

“Personas are a rare power that can only be wielded by those who are chosen. There’re a lot of rumors among researchers, but one theory holds that Personas are the ‘other self', an ‘embodiment of the depths of the psyche’ of the user. The condition to summon a Persona is to hit your utmost limit, which unleashes your latent power. For example, like you just now, boy, when you were caught in a ‘critical moment between life and death’.”

“The ability of my Persona, Kushinada-Hime, is the so-called ‘Prediction’ – that I can ‘see ten minutes into the future’... So I have ‘the power to see the future’.”

“...I see, it’s precognition. It really did surprise me. That Touko-san would be a Persona-user...”

Kushinada-Hime’s two extended hands had a design like that of night vision goggles, and those two hands covered Touko-san’s eyes from behind. Most likely, those hands acted as a head-mounted display and let Touko-san see an image ‘ten minutes into the future’.

Touko-san laughed a bit. At the same time, Kushinada-Hime’s figure disappeared as if it were an illusion.

“Just like you’ve deduced, Naoto, I saw the future where ‘the three of us were in the director’s office drinking coffee’. So I was able to guarantee that you would be safe.”

Touko-san drummed the fingers of one hand against the side of the stainless steel coffee cup.

“If you think about it the other way, we’re able to sit and drink coffee together in this time because you’re alive, Naoto. In addition, you were on the Special Forensics Division floor at this time and you came to the station without an appointment.”

I was so surprised I couldn’t speak. I thought back to when I rushed down to this floor. It’s true that from Touko-san’s viewpoint, she must have known I was coming.

“As Tsuge-san says, my Persona seems fall into the ‘non-combative’ category.”

“Other than Touko, among the non-combative Persona users that the Kirijo know of, there’s also a person with ‘High Analyze’, the ability to see the Shadows’ weaknesses.”

It was possible that Kujikawa-san’s power was also similar to what Tsuge-san spoke of.

“I think it’s not a bad power for a detective like me to have. It’s been extremely helpful when I’ve used it at crime scenes.”

My new power was also a ‘non-combative’ type like Touko-san’s, but I felt it was not unsuited to me. It may have been because a Persona was the user’s ‘embodiment of the depths of the psyche’.

“Up till now, Touko’s prediction’s never been wrong. I relaxed so fast ‘cause she has such a great track record.”

Seeing Tsuge-san boast of her as if it was his own doing, I agreed again, “I see.”

“Just that... The reason that Genesis stopped moving all of a sudden is a mystery to us too.”

“Right. Right when the boy lost consciousness, Genesis chose exactly that moment to stop moving. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this. I’m getting those guys to look into the reason, but the way I see it, it’s not a technical issue.”

“If we think about it that way, Genesis may have suspended movement by his own will, or possibly, Naoto exerted some influence on him... For example, with the power of Naoto’s Persona?”

Touko-san’s narrowed eyes seized me. Without thinking, I tilted my head.

“Hm? You don’t remember? Your Persona manifested at the same time as you woke up, right?”

“...Yes, of course I remember.”

I thought back to the mysterious experience I had had while unconscious. That may have been the mental landscape I saw when I reached the critical point, thinking “I might die.”

“This is really just a theory, but something like a ‘resonance reaction’ between fellow Persona users might’ve happened in that moment. Looks like one Persona user might’ve pulled out the potential in the other, kind of like an attractive trait...”

“You mean to say... Genesis is also a Persona user?”

Immediately, Tsuge-san nodded. “Yeah, that’s right.” It seemed that Genesis really was of the same type as the Suppression Weapons I had met in the past.

“Thinking about it now, Genesis’s unexplainable actions might not have been that he was attacking you, boy, but that he was showing interest in you as another Persona-user. At that time, Genesis was so far out of control that he’d destroyed a solid iron door. If that bastard was serious, the boy would be headed to the hospital right now.”

I remembered how Genesis had sized me up at that time.

“But in the end, it looks like he lost hold of reason and wasn’t able to control his power, and when the boy was dying, it turned out like this! I’m really glad you lived!”

“...Please don’t laugh as you say that. I really was about to die, you know?”

“It all worked out! I’m saying, don't worry about the details!”

While saying that, Tsuge-san heavily clapped my shoulder with his huge hand. It hurt. I sent a glance at Touko-san, hoping she would come to my rescue.

“...A resonance reaction, huh. It may not be coincidence that I thought of submitting the request for this case to Naoto.”

Saying that, Touko-san twirled the pendant at her chest with her fingertip while showing something of a deprecating smile.

When I thought about it, I had been attracted to the person named Aoi Touko from the time of our first meeting. Thinking that, naturally I had a flashback to the faces of my friends and the battles we overcame together.

“I’d like to ask because you two know so much about Personas and my past. Why is it that the Persona I summoned this time differs from the Persona I had before?”

Amatsu Mikaboshi. The sound that I had made at that time was two words, a name that I had spoken for the first time. I was deeply interested in whether the Persona this time was of the type that could be continuously manifested.

“...Right, if I had to give a reason, I’d think it’s because you’ve matured emotionally.”


“Yup, isn’t it that you’ve become an adult, boy? A Persona is said to be the ‘embodiment of the depths of the psyche’ of the one who summons it. It’s not strange for the Persona’s appearance and abilities to transform when there’s a change in the user’s heart, or to put it another way, when they mature.”

“...I see.”

I could not declare that emotional maturation was too vague a concept. At the very least, it was true that there had been a change in my physical maturity and circumstances as compared to before, and without a doubt, the way I thought about myself, who now had companions, had changed accordingly.

“Nah, well, don’t forget that it’s just my theory in the end, okay? This is about the limits of technical research because Persona users themselves are rare. How ‘bout it? If you want to know more, I’ll cooperate with you. Even a tough place like this has the right machinery. If it’s an easy scan like brain waves, we can do it right now if you want?”

Though Tsuge-san’s eyes were glittering fiercely like those of a boy, I was filled with apprehension and looked to Touko-san next to him, who said:

“Naoto, this guy is a perverted old man. Take care he doesn’t strip you naked, okay?”

She was giving me a malicious smile.

“I refuse!”

I would have to excuse myself from becoming a guinea pig. Even so, Tsuge-san was not showing any mercy. His log-like arm attacked me, trying to remove my clothes.

“Men don’t grumble about one or two naked bodies!”

As I resisted Tsuge-san, whose body was more suited to a martial artist than a researcher, I was forced to think that it was only a matter of time before he tore off my coat because I simply could not match his physical strength.

“P-please wait! Tsuge-san! Isn’t Touko-san a Persona user too?”

At the words I cried out in desperation, Tsuge-san stopped moving completely. “...Touko?

“Idiot! Instead of a man, obviously I’d rather do something with Touko, a mature woman with a voluptuous body!”

“...Ohhh, so that’s the kind of disgusting image Tsuge-san normally thinks of when he looks at me.”

Touko-san was smiling. However, her eyes were scrutinizing him, sharp as the tip of a needle. The temperature of the room felt as if it suddenly dropped by several degrees.

“W-what! I’m just kidding, you know, kidding! There’s no way I’d think anything like that! Even if I thought that in the depths of my heart, there’s no way I would say it!”

Tsuge-san lifted his voice, laughing dryly with a stiff smile, and with a jerky movement like a rusty hinge, turned around to face me.

“She’s giving me a scary look because you said too much, boy! I value my own life, you know!”

After giving a small shudder, Tsuge-san once again tried to remove my clothing. I lost my composure completely. Tsuge-san was getting far too carried away, but even Touko-san appeared to be enjoying watching me struggle.

“Boy! Just accept it! Sacrifices are an important part of research!”


I glared at her with tears in my eyes, and Touko-san finally moved herself from the sofa.

“Yes, yes. Ehh, at 1513 hours, I have secured the perverted old man.”

It happened lightning-fast. “Owowowowowow!” Without any unnecessary movements, the slender Touko-san put the large man Tsuge-san in a wrist lock and pinned him to the floor with extreme ease.

“I’m always relying on you, Tsuge-san, so I went really easy on you, you know?”

“H-he’s so happy, he could cry! So I’d be really happy if you’d let go of my arm that hurts so much, I could cry!”

Then Touko-san suddenly let go of his hand and released Tsuge-san from the lock.

“...Hey, boy. Get it now? Making a pass at Touko Aoi ends up like this.”

Tsuge-san said in a voice full of feeling as he rubbed his arm.

“Yes, do your best to be careful not to follow Tsuge-san’s bad example and make the same mistake.”

I knew, of course. The person called Touko Aoi had not changed since I first met her five years ago. However, the one she had held down at that time had been a brutal, knife-wielding robber.

“Tsuge-san, you’ll be able to finish Genesis’s adjustments before tomorrow morning, right?”

She acted like it had nothing to do with her. Touko-san, who stood in an intimidating manner, made an innocent face as she asked of Tsuge-san, on the floor.

“...Well, we only need to do a few repairs for the hardware, but if a lot of problems haven’t cropped up in the software, we’ll just need to do a reboot. It’s not impossible for us to get him up sometime tonight if you want?”

“No, it’s fine. Naoto, you should go home for today. Come back to this floor again tomorrow.”

“But tomorrow is my first day enrolled at Yagokoro High School.”

“Yeah, I know. So come here before you go to school. It’s about five minutes from the station to the school, but there are a lot of things I want to explain to you, so please hurry and remain on standby.”

“Touko, you can’t mean to have Genesis and the boy confront each other?”

“Rather than confronting each other, I mean to have Naoto and Genesis act as partners and investigate this ‘Yagokoro High School student disappearance case’ together.”

At that point, an unexpected suggestion came from Touko-san’s mouth.

“Whoa, that’s pretty rough. Boy, don’t lose heart, okay?”

“Touko-san, that’s–”

“You may think I owe you an explanation, Naoto, but I’ll give you and Genesis the details together early tomorrow morning.”

It was a stiff tone that brooked no argument.

After a moment of hesitation, I took the teacup in my hand, whispered “...Understood,” and along with the black, bitter liquid that had gone cold, swallowed down my words of protest completely.


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  2. translations are kind in the last few paragraphs and they make what going on hard to understand, but other than that, pretty good so far