Hidden 2 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN
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Nick Waller




"Can't say I'm looking forward to the whole Shadow Mirror Doppelganger-thing, but otherwise it does seem kind of cool." Vincent's enthusiasm for the Personas was a bit infectious, though Nick hardly needed to be convinced of how awesome those things were.

As they ran, he nodded along to the others' self-introductions. Vincent, the big scary guy, and Caelum, the...less-than-generous gentleman from the cafeteria. He'd have to keep that in mind. For now, however, he had to keep Spindle's instructions in mind. Get to the prison entrance in the North. Once you hit the basketball court, use the dumpsters to get over the fence.

"Alright, Spindle said we should try and use these dumpsters to jump the fence. Vincent, let's take care of that. Caelum, can you keep watch? Let us know if anybody gets too close for comfort?" Taking charge wasn't really something Nick was used to, but in a situation like this, it just came to him.

The other prisoners were just as disturbing to see now as they were when they first came in. The only good thing about it now was that they weren't hooked up to those terrifying money-draining machines. Nick was still barely wrapping his head around this 'other world born of people's subconsciouses' thing, but at least now he was able to actually think when he needed to. Keeping his wits about him as he jogged up to a dumpster, he nodded at Vincent. "Alright, the sooner we get this shit taken care of, the sooner we can get the hell out of here!" He said it more to hype himself up than anything, but Nick grabbed a handle on the dumpster's side and looked to Vincent. "On 3?"

As they moved the dumpster, Nick looked up at the fence they were planning to ascend with a small frown. He was never bad at climbing, hell he loved doing it as a kid, but he hadn't exactly flexed those muscles in a few years. Hopefully this wouldn't leave him too sore to keep running. Or Caelum, now that he thought about it. He didn't exactly look to be in great condition as they were on their way over. "At least it's a chain link," he commented offhandedly, "shouldn't be too bad of a climb at least."
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Lugubrious
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Barney Rynsburger


Given the available space Barney’s dramatic run into battle for round two lasted only an anticlimactic couple seconds, and just like that he was back in action. His remaining enemies seemed to be no less tenacious for the loss of their comrade, and both took their shots at him as he drew near. The lion-faced leg wheel surprised Barney by spinning in place to build up and shoot a rippling fireball, and since the young man did not fancy his new clothes going up in smoke he swerved sideways to evade the flare. That dodge put him right on course for a chop from the long, sharp beak of the Shax, and remembering the pain of being hit by its magic, Barney instinctively flinched. When the monster’s head whipped out on the end of its long neck, however, its scything strike barely scratched him. Unlike the bloody gash left by a Shax beak earlier, it dealt only minor damage through Barney’s priestly garb. That puzzled him; if this demon stork’s magic was so much stronger, why would it use anything else?

No time to think about it--this was still a fight, after all. He followed the Shax’s head as it retracted and delivered a solid wallop with his wheel, enough to send it reeling. Then he focused on the bigger threat, willing Gregor Samsa back into existence to lunge at the Buer before it could come at him. “Get him!” His Persona obliged, leaping forward to crunch down on one of the monster’s many legs and elicit a fiery roar of pain. Still a little giddy with excitement, Barney ran forward through the dissipating flame of his partner to capitalize, only to clash with his enemy mid-swing. Propelled by some unseen force, the Buer threatened to sweep the young man off his feet, but Barney pushed back with all his might. For a moment he was face-to-face with the monstrosity, so close that he could make out the fur on its nose and feel the heat of its fury. The intensity of the moment ignited a surge of strength within him, and with a triumphant grunt he began to push the monster back.

A sudden voice cut through the excitement, banishing Barney’s tunnel vision. “Behind ya, look out!”

Trusting in Spindle completely, Barney didn’t even turn to look, but dove to the side. Sure enough, a dark blade of magic sliced across the ground where he stood just a split second prior, cleaving through one of the Buer’s legs before it shrank away. As he regained his footing Barney glared at the Shax for taking a cheap shot. He did not let his anger get in the way of good manners, though. “Thank you, ma’am!”

“Don’t ma’am me, mister!” Spindle shot back. “Just be more careful! From the way ya went down earlier, I’m guessin you’re weak to Curse, and that birdbrain’s dishin’ it out by the bucket!”

“Weak?” Taken aback by the worrisome revelation, Barney quickly moved to put the Buer in between himself and the Shax. With just two opponents, he could use the bigger one as a shield, and if it took any more damage from its ally, so much the better. Having a weakness was alarming; normally one’s shortcomings were things like foresight, or cooperation, or reaction time. Not certain attacks.“Like a video game?”

“Say what now?”

That conundrum could wait. As he maneuvered himself Barney found himself standing side by side with Dakota again, with the other guy’s Buer reinforcing the leftover enemies. For a moment there was a standoff, with the monsters re-evaluating the opposition somewhat, and in that lull Barney noted with some surprise that his ally had already dispatched both of his storks. I’ll chalk that up to this weakness thing, he decided, although that thought provoked a more productive one right after. “Hey uh, Spindle?” he asked the airborne police girl. “Do those things have weaknesses?!”

“Them Shaxes seem weak to wind,” their guide affirmed. “Probably why Dakota’s goin’ off on ‘em. Can’t say for the others though. Don’t be surprised if ya don’t got the right element.”

Element, Barney repeated inwardly. He opened his mouth to ask Spindle if she happened to know what his was, since the blue energy Samsa pumped out didn’t ring any bells, but before he could say anything his foes began to move. Rather than let them have their way, Barney ran forward, and with his wheel held by the rim in both hands let loose a colossal strike to try and hit both Buers at once. His attack connected, although one roasted him with an Agi in return. Luckily his clothes didn’t instantly burst into flame, and he hefted his wheel by the spokes to strike again. This time, however, he kept himself alert enough to notice the Shax’s Agi incoming and get out of the way. It’s targeting me, he observed, irritated.

Spindle noticed it too, and reached out to Dakota. “Hey, try hittin’ that thing with another one o’ yer Garus,” she advised. “You’re way better off fightin’ that dang thing than Barney there.”

Once his ally got the Shax off his back, Barney could focus on the Buers. Though ferocious and quick, they boasted little in the way of range, making their attacks telegraphed enough that Barney felt confident in dealing with them. One charged up an Agi while the other flew out to strike him in a cunning display of cooperation, but even with Dakota otherwise engaged, Barney could show off some team work of his own. He remembered how his Persona emerged earlier, and without any time to experiment decided to run with this idea. “Samsa, catch!”

”I’m up!” Gregor Samsa emerged from the dirt in a spray of soil and flame, latching onto the Buer with his vicelike jaws and pedipalps before dragging the monster to the ground with its weight. Although he vanished once he sank back down, Barney used the opportunity to jump off the demon like a spring board and slam his wheel down on the other Buer by the rim. The monster had other ideas, and ceased its fire to spin out of the way instead. It kicked Barney in the shoulder, and with a cry of mixed pain and anger he wheeled around with a heavy bash. It connected to great effect, but the overswing left Barney wide open.

Without missing a beat he extended his other hand. “Samsa!” A screech rang out as his Persona surged forward from beneath him and drifted sideways to slam the Buer with his tail. It skidded to a stop by its ally, leaving both much worse for wear. Victory was within Barney’s grasp. “Hah.” He took a step and fell to his knees. “Agh!” Even with the adrenaline of battle, everything hurt. “Why…” he gasped, “Does it hurt...so much?!”

“I was tryin’ to say earlier, quit usin’ so many Persona skills!” Spindle warned him, her voice a little panicked. “They cost your own vitality t’use!”

No wonders, Barney groaned, too beat up to spend much energy on being frustrated. “Then...what do I do? I can’t get close like this, they’re comin’ any second!”

He did not expect what Spindle told him next. “You should have a gun!”

“What?!”

“Jus’ trust me! Try makin’ a motion t’pull out an imaginary gun, quick!”

With no other options, Barney obeyed. He let go of his wheel, not even watching as it disappeared, and reached up as if to pull down a rifle he’d slung across his back. When he brought his arms down, however, it wasn’t a gun he held, but a ramshackle flamethrower. His eyes went wide, but with no time to be boggled, he aimed the flamethrower’s nozzle at the incoming Buers and held down the trigger. A spray of caustic blue energy rolled out to engulf the monsters, stopping them in their tracks. Teeth clenched, Barney kept the trigger held until his enemies were reduced to tar and seeped into the ground.

There was a quiet moment before Barney collapsed, breathing heavily. Dakota received Spindle’s message the next moment. “Heal him up, quick! If you’re gonna spend your spirit on anythin’, make sure it’s on healin’ yer buddies. I’m guessin’ your Thamyris fella’s a supportin’-type Wind persona, and creepy-crawly Samson’s an attacker through and through. Nuclear-powered, t’boot!”

“Nuclear..?” Barney muttered aloud before realizing how much like a parrot he must sound. The power of the atom in the palm of your hand was no small thing, though. [i]Hopefully I don’t get radiation poisoning.

“Once he’s fixed up, y’all gotta move,” Spindle told them. “There’s more o’ them bozos comin’ fast. Better hustle after the others, pronto!”

And so they did.




Considering the overall state of the Prison of Indictment, the basketball court behind the jailhouse was pretty tolerable, although to call it ‘normal’ would be to tell a lie. The prisoners playing there lacked the helmet devices used to drain the other inmates dry in the Proving Grounds, but they weren’t wholly human. A closer look as Vincent, Caelum, and Nick hurried to scoot the dumpster through their arena would reveal that the players’ skin appeared to be the same rubbery orange leather as the balls they dribbled and shot with, deflated enough to create unsettling creases and folds. This affected their faces the most, where they formed warped mockeries of eyes, noses, and mouths stretched and distorted in expressions of perennial torment. They played like their lives depended on it, ignoring the intruders to the point of running straight into them if the three weren’t careful. Still, the lack of outright hostility meant that the ghastly players didn’t trouble them too much, so with a little luck and a lot of elbow grease the trio got the dumpster over to the chain-link fence. With it in place, climbing was not a problem, and both could leave the freakish spectacle behind.

Going north behind the jailhouses prompted a lot less anxiety than the Proving Grounds. It was simultaneously more open and more cluttered, offering better sightlines and more places to hide thanks to the wealth of objects lying scattered around. There appeared to be many articles of luggage and personal belongings piled high among parts and materials for the prison’s upkeep, and maybe because the staff did not believe that any escapees would get this far, the two encountered almost no security. Still, the uncountable pairs of glowing eyes peering down from the barred windows of the jailhouse meant that neither were without scrutiny.

The farther the two went, the bigger the heaps got. Soon there weren’t just household objects but bits and pieces of households themselves, entire sections of rooms and furniture, all discarded and neglected. One could only guess, looking at it all, that they represented the lives that the university’s students left behind. Of the three, it affected Nick the most, and as he went on the young man couldn’t ignore a steadily worsening tugging sensation that pulled him along through the place, and not just in the direction that Spindle said an exit should be. His wandering eyes searched for something, unwittingly, until they found it.

Half-buried in the heaps of junk was part of a house--an ordinary suburban home. And though there were many like it, this one was Nick’s.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Potemking
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Dakota Rhett

November 29th? - Proving Grounds



Although momentarily annoyed his revenge plot would not bear fruit, Dakota realized that maybe big burly Barney was better at handling the physical monsters. Overall, he couldn't complain: As if he wanted to keep getting his ass kicked, right? The Shaxes, on the other hand, were a bit weaker physically. Which didn't make them as much of a problem to beat senseless, though blocking their attacks also seemed questionable. Not wanting to find out the result of that after his Buer scorching, he decided to take Spindle's advice on the fight. No need to worry about the range of his enemies' attacks if he could attack them at range first, right? Worked out better, since he was still aching from getting struck, anyhow.

Feeling a little more confident after managing to come out last time by reducing their ranks, he exclaimed his readiness as he psyched himself up for another round. "A weakness, huh?" He responded to the realization Spindle gifted, before using that building motivation and notice of the Shax readying to try and attack Barney to get loud and ready, mic stand hitting the ground as he brought himself close to the microphone hoisted at the top. "Alright! Give her a show, Thamyris!"

A screech of a battle cry and flapping wings brought forth his Persona's razor winds, the target clear. The Shax, much like Spindle suggested, reacted in a much more stunned manner than they did getting get with his weapon. It flailed helplessly in Thamyris' winds, feathers flying as the visible green shifting air entrapped and cut into it. It was so effective, in fact, that he was angry he hadn't used it on them prior! As the wind died down, he quickly approached upon noting that it hadn't been reduced to a blob like the others, meaning it was still possibly alive, just floored by it's own weakness.

Which, as he brought himself close, became a clear truth. He let out an audible "Let's see how you like this!" As he raised his mic stand to smackdown the creature in order to finish it off, but found himself taken slightly off guard as the creature flailed, functioning wing managing to launch another scythe-like projectile, which Dakota could do nothing more than swing his head to the side to avoid; Cheek getting cut and causing blood to trickle down the side of his face. Less angry, and more carrying his prior motivation, he glared back at the creature. "Let this be a lesson for that jackass back in the courthouse," He muttered, Thamyris lingering and overshadowing both him and the downed Shax. "That I'm not letting him decide anything for me, or anyone else!"

Turning, one of Dakota's hands released from his weapon to instead clench into a fist in front of him. ANother cry of battle echoed from Thamyris, as it released a potentially overkilling second Garu, winds tearing the Shax apart this time as it's vitality wore down. The black ink-like glob scattered in the wind, leaving it nothing but a bunch of grinded up bits like it'd been thrown through a blender with no lid.

This had ended just in time for Dakota to witness Barney's feat of summoning what appeared to be some sort of flamethrower out of thin air. Watching as his opposition was reduced to nothing, he couldn't hold back his amazement in his tone. "He wrecked them both! Talk about badass...!" This was, however, quickly replaced by panic as Barney keeled over like he'd been the one beaten the crap out of, sending Dakota into an alert state as he rushed over. Spindle explaining his Persona as a 'supportive' one made enough sense, since he had that healing ability. He dove onto his knees to stay beside Barney, weapon tossed aside which promptly disappeared before he brought an arm over the larger Persona user with a palm resting on his back. "You alright, man?!" Obviously, upon even a few seconds more of observation, he wasn't.

"We've still got a little magic in the tank, I-- I uh, I think!" His voice a bit more panicky, until Thamyris drifted over and provided healing to Barney as proof. Quickly Dakota offered the larger man a few reassuring pats on his back, before helping the big lug. "Yeah! See? You ever think you need that, just holler! I won't let these things get in the way!" He offered, getting a little over enthusiastic and quick-talking, a mix of the rush of being victorious and the fact that he could bring Barney back from a bad spot.

Though, his perhaps scatterbrained at times mind brought a second thought to him. "Hey, you fought to make sure we could even get this far!" He said loudly up to Spindle, not realizing he didn't need to do so. Without hesitation, Thamyris' Dia spell blessed her as well, though having healed five different people within a short period was cutting into his reserves for sure by now. Not that it mattered in this instance, to him. "That makes us buddies in my book!" He said, enthusiasm clear with a little thumb upward towards the sky.

Being informed there were enemies on the way, however, Dakota felt if they could avoid fighting here endlessly that'd be best. Worried if the others would end up in a bad spot, though his mind thinking of 'the others' brought another thought that had momentarily slipped his mind in the fighting. "Wait, we know where the guys were going, but do you know where the others are?" He tried to recall them all the best he could, though not everyone had time to properly exchange names in all this chaos. "Jin, that repair dude! And that lady, along with the much smaller lady!" He recalled as best he could as they walked. "That was just a kid with us before, right? I couldn't imagine someone like that running into monsters like these. Or-- A bigger one, like that stupid bird--" He felt a rumbling inside himself, realizing who that stupid bird was. "No offense." He offered with a meek laugh, though got not response.

He got back on topic quickly. "Do you at least know if they're all safe?" He quizzed Spindle, all the while marching beside Barney on-route to reunite with the trio that they'd let slip off.
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Caelum Harrington

When Nick suggested he watch for enemies, Caelum nodded. For one, he wasn’t keen about moving around trash. Sure, he was filthy if he thought about it – which he mostly refrained from, given the honest-to-god lethal shitshow took precedence – but still. No need to overextend.

Besides, he could use the rest. The harpy-user hadn’t deemed it necessary to heal him, after all, and bestowed that blessing of his only upon Nick and Vincent. He did wonder if Nick had him stand around watching because he realized that. No, isn’t it because he’s mistaken me for a useless weakling? Regardless of the reason, Caelum shrugged it off, and took the opportunity to rest.

Doing so proved to have been a good idea. Escaping up the dumpsters also required going through the court, where prisoners played basketball as if in a maddened frenzy, paying no mind to anyone. Caelum had nearly been tackled by one of them, but evaded at the last moment. He grimaced at the sight and smell of the trash container, but grit his teeth, and clambered onto it, cursing softly under his breath as he did so. Afterwards, he carefully got on top and over the fence as well. After all of that, however, the path forwards was finally somewhat easier. No groups of guards, no creepy prisoners, just piles of objects and houses to hide behind as needed.

He saw no reason to run, so kept a fast-walking pace, except whenever he had to dash behind something to evade notice by those keeping watch from the jailhouse windows above. As they meandered onwards, Caelum noticed that their path deviated from the exit. “I believe we have strayed from where we should be going,” he commented quietly, looking around apprehensively. There was something off about this place.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Yankee
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∎̵͍̅͜∎̵̰̽̏͝∎̷̢̻̞̂∎̸̨̻̹̈∎̵̰͚̝͆∎̷̮̋̄̚ ̵͆ : ̷?̷ ̶?̷ ̷h̸o̴u̴r̸s̶
Though initially dumbfounded after being sucked through a magic hole in the ground into a subterranean cavern, the trio regrouped fairly quickly. Compared to the large demonic birds from the courthouse and the haunted corpses of the jail cell, the monsters that greeted them in the cave were cartoonish and a lot less intimidating. They seemed a less dangerous too, given their stature and the way they hung back away from the humans... but they were still monsters. Looks could be deceiving, Harriette knew that all too well.

She looked around the cave, noting each little notch and passage. There was only one Imp now, standing watch over them. Or so Harriette assumed. She wondered if they could make a break for it all the same. Her gaze shifted around to the other two people with her, gradually to the girl who was favoring one leg over the other. So much running was not only tiring, but stressful to the body. Another escape attempt probably wouldn't be possible for her. Although Harriette or their third member could probably get away from the Imp, she felt guilty for even thinking about abandoning that girl down here.

While Harriete thought only of avoiding the demons, Alina and Jin had the opposite idea. After Jin posed a rhetorical question - which in response Harriette could only shrug helplessly - they went on to question the Imp, their voice overshadowing Alina's more timid one. Thankfully, the information they both wanted was the same.

Surprised by the human's boldness, the Imp jumped up straight and stared at Jin. It looked unsure at first, but it's expression quickly shifted into one of arrogance. It flapped it's wings and floated right up next to Jin. It seemed to sense something... or perhaps a lack of something in them, and poked the wavy haired youth hard in the chest.

"You don't boss me around!" It snapped, sneering at Jin. Then it flew up hiring, crossing it's arms and looking down on all three humans. "I am an Imp, and you're just some lucky saps her Gloriousness happened to take an interest in!"

The Imp snorted, childish and offended at the questions. Harriette noted that it had technically answered one of the questions, although knowing what it was didn't help them all that much. An "imp"... there were so many stories and myths about those creatures, and prior to just a few moments ago Harriette had assumed they'd all been make believe.

"Ungrateful saps too, all of you would have been eaten alive up there if not for us!"

Put so plainly like that, it was very sobering to realize just how close they'd come to death. And not even for the first time that day. "You're... right," Harriette told the creature. "Some thanks are in order."

The Imp looked taken aback at her words for a moment. With a small that showed off it's fangs and a nod, the Imp spoke again. "Yes! They are, they are in order! Though it was really her Gloriousness to told us to do it..." it went on to gush about the mysterious woman, answering another one of the questions posed to it inadvertently. "Her Gloriousness is the ruler of everything here, she's wise, powerful and just! She could sense you lot and told us to keep an eye out for you."

"The ruler of everything? Then... the Pondwater clone...?"

"Not everything up there! Down here!"

Harriette shared a glance with the others, wondering if they were gleaning anything useful from the Imp's words. Eventually a new noise echoed through the cavern, the shifting of rock against rock, as one of the cave walls slid open and revealed a new passage. From it, the second Imp returned with a smile so wide it looked like it's face would split in half. Behind it, a shadowed figure slowly approached.

The figure was imposing not for it's size or shape, but the aura that surrounded it. Surely this was the "Gloriousness" that the Imps had spoken of, but Harriette felt a great sense of unease as she got closer. Despite the monster's words, their savior seemed more like another jailer.

Her Gloriousness stepped into the soft light of the cavern, revealing herself to be a woman adorned in precious gemstones, gold and silver, and expensive clothing. She appeared to be completely human, besides for a pair of elegant shimmering horns that curved up from the sides of her head. The horns glittered like they were made of sapphire and diamonds, and seemed that they could have formed a complete halo atop the woman's head if they stretched a little higher. The woman smiled, ethereal, lips painted blue. She was beautiful, with an overpowering and almost divine feel about her, although it also felt wrong somehow.

But more than anything else, the woman was familiar. If Jin or Alina happened to look, they would see all the color drain from Harriette's face. The woman was a spitting image of Leanna Rowen.

Rowen's doppelganger gazed upon the three people before her, her face lighting up in recognition and delight when she met Harriette's eyes.

"I thought I felt you~" she said in a sing-song voice.

On either side of Rowen the Imps formed up. They spoke quickly to the woman, suckering up to her and describing how good of a job they did, but they were silenced with a quick hand motion from their master. Both Imps ceased their pestering of her and turned, pointing at the humans. "Alright, show your respect for her Gloriousness! State your names and grovel!"

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN
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Nick Waller




Carefully bending his knees as he landed to keep the fall from punishing him too hard, Nick popped up quickly and took a closer look around now that he was over the fence. He wanted to keep his mind off the creepy, basketball-skin-looking freaks that were playing in the court as much as possible. It was like looking at a horror movie monster, and he was not a fan of staring at those kinds of things.

Urging the group to move as soon as both got over, Nick found himself somewhat confused by the new clutter around them. Personal belongings and luggage alongside maintenance and building materials was a strange combination. It seemed like this was just a dumping ground for whatever crap the guards didn’t want to lug around. And while it made sense to leave the prisoners’ stuff around (as fucked up as it was, he wasn’t expecting empathy from this place), one would imagine at least some kind of organization for the more vital supplies. Still, it wasn’t worth worrying too much about, as the three young men had bigger fish to fry.

Nick didn’t keep himself from searching through a pile for a moderately-sized hammer, however, just in case. “Couldn’t hurt to grab something just in case,” he commented, “fucking guards are all over the place.” Admittedly, this area had yet to bring them in contact with any more guards, but Nick had more meant the prison as a whole, and on that front he was absolutely correct, as they’d all seen earlier.

Getting back on track, Nick found himself more and more distracted by the growing piles of household amenities, which soon gave way to actual parts of houses. And as those remnants of people’s lives grew, so too did a strange, pulling sensation grow within him. It was almost like the feeling you get when you know you’re missing something and have only the vaguest idea of where it was, constantly tingling in the back of your head and pulling you to where you think it may be. Why this feeling was happening here, Nick couldn’t quite tell at first. Caelum’s comment broke him of the trance he’d fallen into, but once he was consciously thinking about it, the draw only became stronger.

“I…uh, yeah, no, I know.” Nick stumbled over his words. “But I…something’s…making me come here? I…I can’t explain it, but this is the right way. I…I just…know?” The feeling was confusing even to Nick, but the more he spoke, the surer he was. This was the right way, just not the way to the exit. Why they needed a detour, or how he knew this with such certainty, he couldn’t explain, but he knew it. “I don’t understand it, but…we have to go this way.” He just hoped Vincent and Caelum wouldn’t argue it.

It was a short while longer before the group came upon something that nearly made him sick. Nick’s stomach dropped when he saw the broken façade to a home peeking out from the piles of debris and junk all around.

“Oh. That would be why,” Nick unhelpfully uttered, frozen in place staring at what they’d just found. “It’s…my house.” That he still called it his despite not living there, not setting foot inside or seeing or even deigning to speak with its denizens was lost on Nick, so addled was his mind. Thoughtlessly, he stepped over the threshold, looking around at the barren walls, littered with empty picture frames and coated in a thin, uniform layer of dust. Dragging his finger along the wall picked up that dust, but when he looked back to it, he couldn’t find any evidence that he’d done so.

The feeling of wrongness in his gut refused to settle, but Nick pressed onwards. Something was here for him, and he needed to find it. He wasn’t paying attention to if Caelum and Vincent followed him, nor did he particularly care at this point. Whatever it was that was here, it couldn’t wait.

It was only a few seconds of walking, really, but Nick found himself in a small room, just a little too small, a little too cramped, when he found it.

He found himself.

He knew it.

Looking down at the small, emaciated boy sitting against the wall of the room, not quite in the corner but so close that it was hard to tell, Nick could tell that those dark, sunken eyes were his own, the oversized and baggy clothes the hand-me-downs that his mother, ever the frugal one, had foisted upon him despite his protests. A shoulder peeked out from the oversized, long out of style plaid shirt, marred by a few ugly, bright red scars alongside a few other paler, less distinct ones.

Nick let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, as his Shadow looked up at him.

“What? Come to hurt me like everybody else?” Nick’s heart, despite knowing what this thing was, ached in sympathy. With empathy for a past he tried to forget. “They never cared. Jason just did whatever he wanted.”

Ah, Jason, beloved Naval Lieutenant with a violent, angry past that he left behind and left Nick with the scars of. That…was what he remembered. What he chose to hold onto.

“Just leave. Just leave me alone.” The Shadow demanded. Nick sighed. He…wasn’t sure how this was supposed to happen. If what Dakota did was normal, if it was different for everybody, but Nick knew something had to happen here. If he could avoid a fight, he would.

“I know we just want to be left alone, but…it’s nice to have friends. People who care about you, and understand what it’s like.” Nick tried to start with diplomacy, but the look on the other Nick’s face told him he’d misspoken.

“Nobody actually understands. You know that. I don’t know why you keep trying to lie to yourself and pretend like anybody actually gives a shit about you beyond a few cheap laughs.” Holy shit kid, way to go right for the jugular, Nick thought with a frown. And the worst part was that Nick couldn’t find the words to reply.

Because he believed the same thing, didn’t he? It wasn’t even quite like what happened between Dakota and his Shadow. That was, in a nutshell, what Nick truly believed. He tried to hide it, tried to pretend otherwise, but Nick had felt alone for years, only maintaining what felt like superficial relationships until recently, and Jessica had gone and shattered any hope of somebody actually understanding him, actually caring and wanting to stick around once they saw what a broken mess of a human being he was.

As Nick struggled to disagree, to fight back against the crushing despair of existentialism and the isolation he endured, he felt a tear slide down his face before falling from his chin.
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Barney Rynsburger


Although the chief and most tangible takeaway from Barney's awakening not too long ago had been to ask for help when he needed it, old habits died hard, and the big guy might have taken a few hurried steps too many and fallen flat on his face before thinking to request Dakota's. Luckily the punk rocker could figure things out on his own, and without a second thought made an expenditure from his avian Persona's dwindling spirit reserves to undo some of the damage. As the Dia took hold, Barney found himself awash in the magical sensation of healing. It was bizarre and quite unlike anything he'd ever experienced. His bruises mended, his cuts closed, the clothes repaired themselves, and even the lightheadedness of blood loss faded. Whether or not that meant the spell somehow put more blood in him Barney couldn't spend time contemplating, but he was grateful nonetheless, "Thank you!" he told his new comrade, echoing the same appreciation he'd shown Caelum earlier. While needing to rely on others stung him just a little, the knowledge that other people really did care about him filled him with both relief and joy. Any leftover regret could be stymied by assuring this dude he'd return the favor. "I owe you one," he vowed.

A moment later the two were out of there, hustling down the dirt footpath of the alley between jailhouses as fast as their wearied legs could take them. They didn't need to look back to know that more Shadows were headed their way.

While they got a move on Dakota voiced a question that left Barney kicking himself for not thinking of earlier. Unfortunately the police girl could do little to assuage either of their concerns. "I saw 'em run into one of the jailhouses," Spindle reported. "After that...well, I can't say for sure. The Metaverse is a dangerous place. But y'all seem like a lucky bunch, so here's hopin."

Hands lightly against his hips, Dakota looked a bit discouraged. "Crap... Hopefully they found a good place to hide out until we can get there."

It was during his sprint that Barney learned the difference between health and stamina, since even though Dakota's healing had put him back near mint condition, he was every bit as tired as if he'd done a full loop around Barclay Waterfront University's perimeter running track. By the time he and Dakota reached the basketball court, skirted around its unsettling players, and climbed the dumpster the frontrunners left behind, Barney was gassed. He practically flopped over the top of the chain-link fence, landing on a faded navy blue suitcase. "Whew!" he breathed. "Man...I was feeling great just a minute ago...why'm I so doggone tired all'va sudden?"

Dutifully Spindle radioed down from her overwatch on high. "I bet ya done worked your way through all the adrenaline ya got from awakenin'," she told him. "Folks get a sudden surge o' energy along with their Personas, enough t'deal with the problem at hand, but it peters out pretty darn quick."

Chest heaving, Barney glanced at Dakota and found him on the haggard side, too. "That's...bad!" he gasped. "How're we gonna keep fightin' then? We have to keep everyone else safe until we get out!"

"Sorry, but I think you're fightin's done 'til the both of ya get a nice, long rest." Spindle sounded unsurprised by anything that was happening, which spawned more questions the more Barney thought about it. "But as luck'd have it, there's a pretty good shot of passin' the torch. People don't last long in here without facin' their demons. It's like destiny; either you're drawn to them, or they come to you."

Still panting as he tried to get enough wind back to make it through the rows of household junk ahead, Barney asked another question. "How d'you know all this? Has this happened before?"

"You're darn tootin'!" Spindle called down. "Didja think y'all were people who ever fell down here?”

Dakota scratched his chin, thinking back to their conversation in the courthouse as he tried to catch his breath.. "Well... That guy with the huge mallet seemed to believe our story pretty easily." He noted, recalling how Pondwater didn't even really care to see any evidence. "I guess it's not impossible this happened to someone else, but if that's the case, where the heck are they?" He questioned as he glanced back, thinking to those human-like figures in those weird machines. “Some of them had to make it this far, right?”

“Uh…” This time Spindle seemed less certain. “I’m sure they’re out there somewhere.”

Barney’s brows furrowed as he stood. “Wait, aren’t you one? Someone from outside, I mean?”

“Nuh-uh. I’m from here,” Spindle replied matter-of-factly.

"What exactly is 'here" anyways?” Dakota questioned. "I mean-- It's unreal. Flaming lion heads, birds with eyes on their wings? This Metaverse thing is like some sort of screwed up fantasy."

As the two proceeded through the littered heap, wary both of enemies and to not over-exert themselves, Spindle explained as best she could. “It’s a cognitive world. It’s kinda like the collective unconsciousness of all humanity. Your fears, your stories, your dreams, and your struggles all rolled up into one big, scary ball. Like your shadow. Always down there below ya, whether ya see it or not.”

“Paints a real freakin’ bleak picture of humanity,” Barney grumbled.

"Why couldn't we end up in a place with good freakin' dreams, right?" Dakota added in acknowledgement to Barney's words. "But wait," He instinctively looked up at the sky, even though Spindle could hear him fine all the same. "If this place is a big crumpled mess of humanity's fears and dreams, then where do you fit in? If you live here, then you're a part of that, right?"

“You betcha!” Spindle sounded happy that the two seemed to be catching on quick. She offered no further explanation though.

That left it up to the Persona users to field more questions. “Why’re you helping us, though? Not that I mind, of course, you’re super amazin’. But everything else in here wants to kill us.”

Spindle laughed as if Barney was being a goof. “‘Cause it’s my job, silly! ‘Serve and protect’ ring any bells?” The bearded man, currently climbing over a couch, said nothing. “This place’s hostile ‘cause of Pondwater. He’s the Warlord ‘round these parts.” She sniffed in disdain, her cheer evaporated. “Must be causin’ a heckuva lotta grief out there to have built up a Stronghold like this in here.”

Dakota felt an imaginary lightbulb turn on in his head, as he slowly navigated the terrain. "Wait, if he's causing trouble outside, then Judge Jackass is a Shadow, too?!" That explained his strength with that mallet, even before doing any of that transformation crap his own Shadow pulled. Though, that name kept coming up. Pondwater. "That Pondwater guy sounds kind of familiar, but I don't think I know any supervillains that’d have a damn personalized hell like this hanging around."

“He’s the president of B.W.U.” Barney put forward. “Basically the guy in charge of our...well, everyone’s education. But he seemed pretty normal in reality?”

Spindle reached out to the two again. “By the way, I don’t mean to alarm ya or nothin’, but those three guys quit headin’ north a minute ago and went inside one of the houses.”

“What? Why?” Barney was baffled that anyone would want to spend any longer here than they had to.

“Reckon he felt someone callin’,” Spindle said, her tone serious. She’d begun to descend, swooping down to an area ahead of the pair on her Persona kite. “Let’s get in there. Even if we can’t do much, we oughta lend a hand.”

Taking a deep breath, Barney picked up the pace. Dakota was behind a little bit, still quite winded but with anyone potentially at risk ahead, he wasn't about to complain about having to keep going. He'd just be trucking a little slower than his taller, bearded friend.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Mistress Dizzy
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Jin frowned slightly as they were poked in the chest by an arrogant imp. It actually hurt a little, being poked with those sharp and thin fingers. “Hey! Hands off the merchandise.” They folded their arms defensively across their chest. “You may have saved us, but this could easily be some kind of trap. I’m not convinced.” Turning their head to the side to address the two women, they spoke softly. “Keep your head on a swivel. Something about this place…”

Indeed, even though it was pretty, it was also eerie. The sweat at the back of Jin’s neck had yet to dry, and there was no space to calm down. Inside, they were wondering just who this “Gloriousness” could be. Luckily the imp was a chatterbox, divulging info left and right. Either there were no secrets underground, or this thing couldn’t keep it’s mouth shut to save it’s life.

Jin was betting on the latter.

They let Harriette do the talking, inwardly ready to ask just where “down here” was. But they never got the chance. Subconsciously, Jin put their body in between the new cave opening and the women.

The “Gloriousness” stepped out, and immediately set Jin’s senses blaring. This woman? – Jin hated to assume – was somehow wrong. The beauty was overwhelming, the confidence overbearing. Something inside Jin screamed for them to exit, as soon as possible. One didn’t survive on the street without gaining a good sense of danger, and dangerous people. Even if you couldn’t see the knife, it didn’t mean it wasn’t there.

Jin looked sideways to the two women, whose names they had yet to receive. The taller one looked like she was about to puke, or faint, or both. That was enough for Jin to step forward.

“Sorry, my groveling knee is out of whack today.” A viper’s grin. “You really are Glorious, aren’t you? But if I remember the rules, it’s more polite to introduce yourself first, ain’t it? So… who are you exactly? Does Her Gloriousness have an actual name?”
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Hidden 28 days ago Post by TruthHurts22
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There was an odd sense of belonging starting to poke at the back of Vincent's mind. Not with the group of college students he found himself with, though the shared danger made them feel closer than mere strangers, but instead a belonging in the strange, hostile world they found themselves. His instinct, usually prickly and sensitive from seeing danger around every corner felt focused here, directing him much more purposefully than ever before. The threat was obvious - the guards, the monsters, these bizarre basketball people - and seemed to gravitate towards their 'spots', leaving a few areas seemingly safe. For everyone else involved, like Nick and Caelum with him, the danger present was completely out of the ordinary, a cannonball into the deep end when you could barely swim.

Vincent, though? He was stepping into a kiddie pool.

Moving from the prison yard and the basketball court into what looked like a gigantic garbage dump, Vincent felt his limbs grow heavy with each step they took. Dakota using his 'Personie' or whatever it was called to heal his injuries definitely helped, but the crash from the adrenaline was still falling on him. Plus, he'd exerted himself a whole lot more than he usually did. Magic or no, he didn't have unlimited stamina.

He was dragging his feet when they arrived at a less-than-demolished house, almost tripping on whatever broken piece of furniture was in their path. With Nick slowing down, obviously drawn to the house, Vincent took the opportunity to put his hands on his knees, huffing and puffing out a few breaths to keep himself stable.

"Hey, you, you go with him," Vincent said to Caelum, watching Nick wander inside. "I'll keep an eye out here. Just, shout if there's any monsters that pop out." He leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms. He really hoped there wouldn't be any monsters in there... but there probably was. He'll take the chance to rest for now.
Hidden 26 days ago Post by SilverPaw
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Caelum Harrington

“Alright, let's make a detour then,” Caelum complied tiredly with a sigh. He had an inkling what this might be about, though he was hoping he was wrong. He followed along until they reached Nick’s house – or rather, a replica of its remains. He didn’t comment, but his nose crinkled it disgust; the building was in as much disrepair as any other.

When Nick entered, Caelum didn’t immediately follow, shifting on his feet in discomfort. If this was another encounter with a Shadow, he was not looking forward to it. But then Vincent opened his mouth needlessly, urging him to go. Caelum frowned at the man, who was the one panting now. “So, the healing didn’t help with stamina,” he commented. “Very well, I shall enter…but expect to be called on.” With that, he entered the small house.

There were not many rooms to it, and it was all desolate, abandoned. Finding a small bedroom in which Nick and his Shadow resided was not difficult either. By the time Caelum arrived, though, he caught only the tail end of their conversation. Grimacing, he stopped outside, peering at the duo within.

Their matter was obviously private, and if it were just up to him, he’d leave them to it. He had no idea what to say, or if anything should be said at all – as far as he knew, the Shadows were supposed to be killed. That was what Spindle had said, after all, and what Barney had down with his own double. Yet, Caelum was deeply uncomfortable at the idea of fighting a child, of all things. Of course, if things proceeded as they had so far, the human form was but a guise for the monster within – or they were one and the same, and the monster emerged in the presence of danger.

“Must we combat this one as well?” Caelum questioned, tone betraying his reluctance to do so. It wasn’t just out of sympathy either; he would prefer to avoid further confrontation if possible. He’d had plenty of monster-slaying for a good long while, as far as he was concerned. Perhaps, if he were not so powerless – if he had one of those Persona for himself, he’d feel differently. As it was, if there was a peaceful solution, he’d take it, but in the end, what to do with this Shadow was Nick’s decision.
Hidden 25 days ago Post by BCTheEntity
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Alina Sanford

It was probably for the best that she'd been ignored here. The imp was, honestly, kind of rude... and hard to say anything to. He explained that Her Gloriousness was the leader "down here", which probably meant the cave, then? And in the end, the figure who emerged was... well, honestly, queen-like. She had the clothing and demeanour for it, anyway... but something felt off about her, more than just the horns. Her presence alone was kind of disconcerting, and glancing over at Harriette, she could see she was...

Scared. Terrified, even.

And Alina had wanted to abandon them by giving up and dying. Like a coward.

She was a coward. Which was why she didn't immediately follow the instructions given, and instead moved to Harriette's side, limping the whole way until she could plant her hand on Harriette's shoulder.

'It's okay.'

It wasn't. None of this entire experience had been okay. But she wanted to do... something? She didn't know, this whole thing had been way too much. She...

'I'm Alina Sanford.'

...she needed to kneel, too, right? That was grovelling, probably. She didn't know, when was the last time somebody had mentioned it in any context? Anyway, she did kneel, because that was needed. Maybe it'd keep her alive a bit longer.
Hidden 25 days ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN
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Nick Waller




As Nick was desperately trying to figure out a rebuttal to what his Shadow was saying, Caelum offered a very helpful, and hopefully rhetorical, question.

Shadow Nick, on the other hand, sighed. "I told you to leave. Me. Alone!" Nick flinched a bit at the anger his Shadow was displaying, and when he looked, his heart dropped with realization: If this thing was his worst, darkest traits all rolled into one...he'd have one hell of a temper, and a quick fuse to boot.

"No, no, we don't have to fight!" Nick desperately pleaded, turning a glare back at Caelum before returning his attention to the Shadow. "You're right. I...I know they're just pretending. As long as I don't bring my drama around, they're happy to spend a few hours playing video games, but the second the conversation steers to something serious they change the subject and I'm left standing there looking like an idiot!"

His Shadow, far from looking satisfied, just looked annoyed. "Preaching to the choir, dude. But doesn't it piss you off?"

"Of course it does!" Nick yelled, hands running through his hair. "Feeling alone, constantly watching my back, wondering if they're talking shit when I'm not there! How the fuck am I supposed to feel?!"

"Angry." Was the simple response.

"Angry doesn't even fucking begin to cover it! What the fuck happened to friends being there for you! When that bitch Jessica fucked off to do god knows what, all they wanted to do was go drinking to forget about it! Nice one guys, forgetting I don't drink?! Some fucking friends they are!" Nick was pacing by this point, his heart pounding in his chest as he ranted.

"So fucking do something about it." Came the reply from the child, now seemingly more interested. Nick proper, meanwhile, lost the wind in his sails at the suggestion he actually make an effort to improve his life.

"Like what?" He bit back with a roll of the eyes.

"I don't know, stand up for yourself, you fucking coward!" His Shadow stood up, pointing at him in accusation. "All you do is whine and bitch about how hard your life is, but you never make the people responsible pay! You didn't tell anybody what they did to you for years, you just like that bitch walk out without so much as a fight or a word back to her, you just let these people walk all over you and don't do anything about it!"

"Bullshit!" Nick yelled back, levelling his own finger. "I moved out! I got out of that shithole town, away from that fucked up family and those psychos I called friends! And why the fuck would I tell anybody, 'Oh, hey, the three most popular guys in the club just tested out that statistic we like to joke about on me, turns out I'm the one in ten!' Bullshit, at best I'd have started a civil fucking war, at worst I'd be a pariah! Nobody would believe me!" Nick's face betrayed the inner anger roiling underneath, pushed down and given no outlet for so long, finally coming out.

Had he been paying attention, he'd have noticed that his Shadow's own anger was underlined with a certain smug, mocking aura. In reality, he was leading Nick around like a dog on a leash. "At least you would've tried something, instead of sitting and crying about it like a little bitch! This is why dad thinks you're a fucking loser! That's why Jason said you're not a man-"

As the Shadow was speaking, Nick's own fury boiled over at the last comments, and he quickly crossed the few feet between them and punched the little brat in the face. "DON'T YOU FUCKING CALL ME THAT!" Nick roared, chest heaving as he looked down at his inner darkness.

"You're fucking dead." It replied, voice distorting as its body began growing, Nick backing up in alarm. From a small child, the Shadow grew straight past 'average adult' into 'The Mountain looks at this guy and crosses the street' territory, at least a good eight or nine feet tall, and well over 500 pounds of rippling, monstrous muscle. The raggedy, well-worn clothes had grown alongside the monster, transforming into some malformed amalgamation of military uniform, chef's outfit, and high-visibility clothes that just looked wrong. Underneath those clothes, multiple arms sprouted from its chest, the extra ones on the left transformed into a spear and a bludgeon, while the ones on the right grew oversized hands that looked like they belonged on an oversized Silverback Gorilla.

The most disturbing thing, however, was the face. Rather than one, transformed face, this thing had some horrific, eldritch amalgamation of a half-dozen different faces that Nick knew all too well, but had trouble placing individually when they were all mixed up like this. The thing's eyes, all five, seemed to change color and shape subtly, and its three mouths morphed into a sadistic grin.

"You're dead, Nick!" The thing yelled as it raised its bludgeon, coming down in a devastating swing that took some of the roof of the room with it, sawdust and plaster powder exploding all over the room as Nick barely dodged backwards, turning and running.

"OH GOD OH FUCK!" He yelled as he scrambled out of the room, arm grabbing Caelum's and pulling to drag him along. "VINCENT GIANT MONSTER FUCKING RUN!"
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Hidden 21 days ago Post by Lugubrious
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Barney Rynsburger


Even with his strength flagging and the loose, shifting terrain of discarded memories making forward progress tricky, Barney followed the trail taken by the others as quickly as he could. Maybe it was just a byproduct of stress, or prolonged existence within this twisted shadow of reality that Spindle called the Metaverse, but he couldn’t shake the sensation of impending doom that gnawed at the back of his mind. If the police girl’s guess was on the money, then even right this second, one of the other guys could be embroiled in a deadly encounter with his own Shadow, a monster that evidently represented all the worst qualities of someone and would be only too happy to slaughter the original.

As he went he didn’t waste any time with guesses as to who the unlucky fellow might be between Vincent, Nick, and Caelum, although if it wasn’t the latter, the rich kid would find himself in the unenviable position of having to survive the process of helping yet another stranger through his problems. Instead Barney couldn’t help but wonder...if these people were all here, like him, did that mean they harbored a struggle in the same way he did? If so, he wasn’t so alone after all. In fact, he couldn’t deny the tantalizing (and maybe optimistic) possibility that this experience might lead to a coalition of real friends, fresh bonds forged in the crucible of shared struggle and triumph. The thought gave him the power to push through his soreness and fatigue. If everyone was going to get through this, and come out better for it, he needed to be there for the others right now no matter what.

Only a minute or so later, he and Dakota found their fellow men. Despite their best efforts they would have walked right by the ominous husk of a home poking out from the general wreckage if not for Vincent on sentry duty, then the frenzied yelling that issued from within the house, followed shortly by Caelum and Nick running fast enough to beat the devil. For a brief moment the five dudes were reunited amidst the heaps of junk, but there was little joy or reassurance to be had, since even those who hadn’t laid eyes on the new abomination knew that something awful must be coming. Sure enough, the facade of Nick’s home exploded just a brief moment later, scattering chunks of wood, drywall, and other such materials far and wide. The berserk Shadow did not venture beyond the house’s confines, which cast a concealing shadow over its mass, but to Barney’s chagrin it did little to hide the monster in all its putrescent glory. An amorphous mound of sinuous flesh, Shoggoth-like, riddled with out croppings of arms and mottled with twisted faces, the nightmare released a wretched bellow as it loomed over the five with weapons at the ready. Its outburst provoked a change in the environment, causing wellsprings of red-black Curse to well up from the surrounding heap. The malignant fountains formed a wide perimeter around the group, cutting off escape.

“Oh my God,” Barney groaned. He took a deep breath and pulled out his flamethrower, ready to do what he could with what little he had left.

He looked up to see Spindle as she descended, soaring down atop her kite-like Odradek to join the others on the battlefield. The height at which she stopped made it clear she wouldn’t be playing a starring role, but the police girl meant to offer all the support she could, staring with some advice. “Sorry folks, looks like there’s no way outta this one. Hey, Skinny?” she addressed Nick. “I know yer brain must be screamin’ atcha t’run right now, and I don’t blame ya even a li’l bit, but ya ain’t gonna get by runnin’ away from or ignorin’ it forever. Gotta face it down! The rest of us can help a touch, but takin’ it down’s up to you.”

Even before she finished speaking, the Shadow let out a yell and attacked. It hurled a weapon with incredible force, and though easy enough to dodge at first, the armament exploded with Curse shortly after touching the ground. “Crap, crap!” Recognizing the element that Spindle called his weakness, Barney got the hell out of there, leaving the opening move for the others to make. As long as didn’t have aggro, planned to roast the thing with his Nuclear flames.
Hidden 20 days ago Post by SilverPaw
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Caelum Harrington

The Shadow reacted to his question by shouting at them to leave it alone. Which Caelum wouldn’t mind doing, but these things were dangerous. Who knew what consequences leaving them on their own would have? Besides, the more people in their group got their Persona, the better off they’d all be.

Nick immediately tried to placate his shadows, taking a moment to glare at him. Caelum merely shrugged a shoulder, smiling wryly. It wasn’t his fault that this dream-world worked by killing everything in your path – or risking being killed otherwise. Spindle was the one who actually knew something about the place, and she’d been the one to suggest Shadows needed killing, though Nick hadn’t been there for it.

Instead, the other student continued arguing with his Shadow, getting more and more heated as the child-thing criticized and baited him. Caelum stepped back slightly, determinedly not paying attention to what they were saying, though he got the gist of it. Shitty parents, shitty friends, it looked like, though what exactly had had happened to Nick was spoken about vaguely enough that Caelum could only guess at it. Which he had no reason nor desire to, frankly. As it was, he simply waited, letting the conversation progress as it would without any input from him.

Inevitably, the verbal spat culminated in the monster-transformation of the Shadow. It was the most humanoid of any Caelum had seen so far, a giant human-esque creature with multiple limbs and faces for it. The familiarity of its form being so warped made it all the more horrifying, however. Caelum uttered a brief startled shout as it thrashed the room purely due to its size, then threatened to collapse the room as it swung its bludgeon upwards.

Then Nick came barreling out of the room straight towards him. Caelum was grabbed by the hand, and his body twisted awkwardly. Stumbling, he turned the rest of the way around, running as he’d been physically urged to do so. “Al-right, going,” he gasped, shaking Nick’s hand off. He didn’t appreciate being dragged alongside, nor did he want to fall over because of a person who was panicking just as much as he was, if not more.

As they ran outside, Caelum was momentarily relieved to see that backup had already arrived. The feeling of being rescued was short lived, though, because just then the house exploded behind them. Caelum glanced back wildly, seeing a chaotic blast of materials being sent all around, and crouched as quick as he could behind the remains of a nearby wall. Yet that was not all – the monster issued a booming roar, and in that same moment, pools of bloody tar appeared around them. There would be no escape.

As if that was not enough, the Shadow sent something flying, and it clearly exploded with magical force upon impact. Caelum desperately looked around for a weapon. There were plenty of items that could serve as projectiles, but he’d learned the lesson on that from Barney’s Shadow. If he wanted to contribute to bringing the monster down asap, he’d have to find a melee weapon.

There was a lot of debris, glass, pieces of broken furniture…and there! A short piece of rebar. Running to it, Caelum grabbed it in both hands, then crouched behind a knocked over couch. While the others hopefully distracted or engaged the Shadow upfront, he’d sneak to its flank, and stab it with the rebar when the opportunity to do so was there.
Hidden 14 days ago Post by Potemking
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Dakota Rhett




Although tired, it was good to at least see Vincent safe and standing guard outside the house. While one might've wondered why they stopped, Dakota could see the logic in bunkering down until everyone caught up. Unfortunately for them, Dakota knew at least that he wasn't in the best shape to keep fighting off monsters, so they'd possibly have to play more safe than all-out offensive. "We taught those bastards to not mess with us!" He gloated, though his heavy breaths were a sign that not all was exactly well afterwards. All this running, swinging, and magic using was taking a toll. He needed a bit of rest at the very least to recover some of his stamina, but he didn't want to really stand around when he knew Jin and those gals were out there while the five of them here were all grouped up.

The positivity over being reunited was destined to end quite quickly, with Nick screeching as he bolted out with Caelum in tow. Able to hear the chaos within the building, Dakota backed away and got quite the view of the horrid abomination crashing out of the building, causing his eyes to widen as his gaze turned on the two that were inside, wondering who the hell was responsible, though at this point it probably didn't matter. What did matter was that this thing cut off their escape; Which was entirely a good reason to start panicking. If he and Barney just used their Personas, they'd wipe this guy too, right? Though, it was clear he didn't have much in reserve left. He had to mull between trying to potentially lash out with what he had, or holding off if someone got hurt.

Which didn't take long, as when the weapon went through the air it might've been an easy enough dodge, but the aftereffect curse took Dakota by surprise. To the point that he tripped while trying to scurry away, getting damaged in the process and finding himself in even worse shape immediately after the start. He was glad at least that the pain was temporary and he managed to get out of the splash zone of the curse, but that didn't change the fact their opposition looked much worse than the mooks from before. He couldn't get close with something like that, it'd tear him in half! "Yo, uh, what's our magic looking like?" He quizzed his Persona as he tried to recover.

"Unfortunate." It replied, to which Dakota groaned. No wind, no melee, what the hell was left? "Perhaps it's about time you conjure a secondary weapon, much like our peer."

Face scrunching up in confusion as he pushed himself up, he didn't exactly catch on. "What're you saying? I don't even know how my weapon comes back, let alone how to make a new one!"

"You simply need will it! Do you not recall what you were told of this cognitive world? Wasting time will only cause more strife."

"Easy for you to say." Dakota grumbled, trying to figure out what to do. With a deep breath he tried to think of something decent: A distraction, maybe, his eyes able to follow Caelum seeming to lurk off with weapon-in-hand to get the drop of this thing. They needed time to try and brace for this fight, or make moves of their own. Tired and now somewhat injured, he wasn't entirely sure what to make of the situation, so the absolutely absurd-sounding plan his Persona built from Spindle's weird provided information was the best shot he had. He felt Thamyris' guidance in his movements, a hand drifting down to his hip and taking a firm grip of something he was certain hadn't been there before. He felt tension in his arm as it pulled up, holding forward a bulky looking pistol looking weapon.

"The hell? This is nowhere as cool as a freakin' flamethrower." He commented in momentary disappointment, before realizing beggars couldn't be choosers. At the very least it had a more effective range, or so he hoped as he circled Vincent and Nick out of his view to get a proper look at the mess before them. Taking what aim an inexperienced marksman could, he prepared himself for a moment before pulling the trigger: "Let's see how ya returning fire!" Staggering back less from the kick of the weapon, and more in shock that it wasn't just some kind of little hand-cannon. No, what came out was bright, almost blindingly so, flying forward across the battlefield. After recovering, Dakota could silently note what it actually was: A large flare, burning and flying at dangerous levels of velocity towards their opposition. It did begin to notably arc, something Dakota would have to get used to, but he prayed to connect all the same and at least offer something in what he assumed would be another grueling battle.
Hidden 8 days ago 7 days ago Post by Eviledd1984
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Lorenzo Pavorotti


The last thing Lorenzo remembered was exploring the local university; waiting for the priest that saved him to arrive. While waiting he investigated some strange noises in the distance; following this noise to an empty room in the university. Finding himself not in the university and a place that seemed unsettling. From what he could see he was not in a normal place; “Looks like we’re not in Kanas anymore Toto.” He thought to himself walking down the dilapidated streets. Odd figures that looked like security guards; his guess he was in some sort of prison of some kind. “Where the hell am I?” He hides in one of the cells watching the figure walking past him. The guard on closer inspection definitely did not look human. When the guard walked past the cell; Lorenzo slowly walked down the hallway and towards the source of the noise.

Noticing hands reaching out of the cell doors; moans and groans being heard from the cells. The prisoner is asking Lorenzo to help them out of the cells. The prisoner’s not looking human; their faces look mangled with empty eye sockets and no nose. Pressing his back against the wall; vomited after leaving the hallway of cells. But could only touch the walls quickly; there was a strange mucus lining the prison walls. “God damn it.” Wiping away some of the mucus from his jacket. Walking further down the cell blocks; covering his ears trying to block out the cries of help from the prisoners. Hiding from the guards by going into the shadowy empty cells. Slowly walking out of the cell; becoming more anxious about escaping this hellhole.

Part of him was freaking out not knowing what the hell was going on. Take a moment to take some deep breaths. Tears running down his face; wondering if he died and is in hell. Quickly looking for a weapon to help defend himself; finding an iron pipe jetting out of a wall. Following the noise to a room where people were armed with various weapons were fighting a frightening creature. Part of him wondered what was going on, But there was something very sinister about the thing their fighting. Walking closer he would be noticed by the others and the thing they are fighting.

Hidden 7 days ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN
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Nick's head darted left to right, eyes wide, as his Shadow's bellowing created pools of red-black energy to well into existence around them. "Wh-What the fuck is that?!" He inquired, not at anybody in particular, but more in shock. "I hate this place!" He cried out.

"Of course you do!" The monstrous Shadow called back, arms wide in a challenge. "You can't stand anything more than surface-level introspection!" Despite its size and appearance, this thing was at least somewhat eloquent. It wasn't, wrong, though, and that was the worst part. Almost as if to punctuate the verbal assault, it grabbed another chunk of drywall and tossed it Nick's way, ignoring the sneaking Caelum.

Well, far be it from me to ignore a sign like that, Nick mused. Just gotta keep this guy distracted a minute. Spindle had said it was up to him, but Nick couldn't imagine a way to stop this thing. The hammer he'd grabbed was wishful thinking more than anything, but maybe if Caelum got that rebar into its side, he'd have a chance to go for its knees or something. Nick wasn't one to fight fair, after all. That thought in mind, he took a deep breath and called back to the monster that came from inside him.

"I'm trying, man! It's hard to change who you are, hard to dig down and look at what's wrong with you, then do something about it!" The Shadow replied with a derisive chuckle.

"You'd have a point if you ever tried!" Timing another toss of house, this time a stud from the wall, with his mocking, the Shadow used its bludgeon arm to break more of the house while pointing with one of its normal arms. "You won't even try and fight me! Just letting others-"

A bright light, too bright to be natural, interrupted the Shadow, forcing it to cover its eyes with one oversized arm as the flare crashed into it, burning into its shin before being reflexively kicked away into a corner. "You little prick!" The Shadow roared, still blinking spots out of its eyes.

And that was when Caelum stroke, with the perfect dramatic timing.

The rebar he thrusted pierced into the Shadow's side, and the boy managed to duck away from the creature's retaliatory swing as it collapsed in pain for a moment, roaring.

Already prepared, Nick charged in with a burst of speed, lifting the sad, average-sized hammer and making a running strike against the Shadow's jaw, having changed targets on his way in. The Shadow's head jerked to the side, Nick already following up with the originally planned swing against its knees, only to be knocked back as it backhanded him with the spear-like arm. "I'd be impressed if you weren't just taking advantage of an opportunity somebody else gave you." It sounded actually disappointed. "But that's what you were always like. Too sad to actually do anything of your own initiative. Always coasting by without direction, relying on others to show you what to do."

Reaching down to pick Nick up, the Shadow snarled. "I'll make better use of your pathetic life than you ever could." He struggled, kicked and tried to pry himself free, desperate to live, to fight, to not die in this place, when a voice sounded in its head.

Well. You tried. Nick paused for a moment as time seemed to slow, taking in the Shadow letting out a laugh. Unfortunately, it looks like it just wasn't enough.

"No!" Nick shouted, both at the Shadow about to kill him and the voice in his head.

Oh? But you look like you're about to get crushed like a tomato by that thing. Barely even fighting back. The voice was calm, like it wasn't involved in this situation, merely observing from afar. Like the outcome made no difference to it.

"It's too much!" He cried.

Is it? Or are you just underestimating yourself again? Calling the battle before the last bullet's fired? There was a bit of emotion now, like it was trying to coax him to the right answer.

"I don't have what it takes to do this anymore!" Nick sobbed, tears stinging at his eyes.

I think you do. I think, deep down, you want this. You want to be what this thing is telling you to be. But not like how it wants you to be. Nick groaned as he felt the Shadow squeeze harder, mocking him.

"You're done."

Reach in and show yourself that you can do this. We're both you. You have this kind of power inside you, but you never let yourself use it because you're afraid.

"I'll finally get to leave this place!"

Afraid of the monster your parents made you think you'd become every time you look at them.

"You'll finally be somebody! It won't be you anymore, but it's not like anybody will care."

You just have to be willing to try.

"Stop!" Nick yelled, head almost splitting between the pain, the two versions of himself talking to him, and the stress. "I just wanna live!"

Then stand up and show the world you're worth letting live. The familiar voice guided, a hint of pride underlying its tone. Take my hand, so to speak, and stand up for yourself in a way you can live with yourself after.

"Okay." Nick breathed out, hands suddenly full rather than desperately trying to pry himself free of the monster's grip. In one hand, the hammer he'd been holding was transformed. It was longer, though still able to fit in one hand and be used. The wood handle now had a long, riveted metal bar attached to it, which blossomed into a vicious head, with a curved spike coming out of the back where the construction tool once had a claw, the head itself now much larger and focused into four points, and a straight spike protruding from the top. A warhammer.

In the other, a familiar weapon to anybody who main'd SMG's in any modern Call of Duty game: the P90.

His clothes had changed, as well. Gone was his familiar and favorite jacket, replaced by a half-zipped black bomber jacket. Underneath, unseen to Nick in his current state, was a simple olive t-shirt. His pants were now tan military trousers, though they lacked any camouflage pattern. His sneakers were now polished, shiny black boots, and he could feel the gray military cap atop his head.

"What?" Nick and his Shadow questioned in unison. The latter, in a panic, tried to squeeze harder again, while the former raised the firearm he now found himself with and pulled the trigger, desperately sending a spray of bullets into the wall, its arm, and one of its many eyes, causing the monster to drop him as it cried in pain.

"I'll end you!" It roared, but Nick was already running to the far end of the room, gun up in one hand while the other held onto the hammer awkwardly.

Drop it, the voice from before advised, for it will return when you will it to do so. Following its instructions, Nick dropped the hammer, which faded into darkness.

"I could get used to that." Nick breathed. "Guys, let's do this!" Nick yelled, not having noticed the newcomer to the fight.

"LIKE I'D LET YOU!" The Shadow bellowed, charging after Nick, moving further into the ruined home.
Hidden 7 days ago Post by Lugubrious
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Barney Rynsburger


A vicious outburst of Curse from the monstrosity’s hurled weapon put a momentary stopper in Barney’s plans to roast it like a marshmallow, but not for long. Rather than a graceful dodge roll the hatted man pulled off more of an ungainly flop, but considering how much stronger this aberrant Shadow looked than those gangly Shaxes, anything beat getting hammered by that terrible element again. Once well out of harm’s way he got to his feet, hefted his flamethrower, and let loose.

From his makeshift flamethrower gushed a torrent of vivid neon blue, an unnatural and alarming shade of energy that seemed almost as much liquid as it did fire. The Nuclear tide slammed into the Shadow like it had physical weight to it, and though it had been idealistic for Barney to hope that his own element might reveal itself as this monster’s vulnerability, he discovered a profound sort of enjoyment in the act nonetheless. He couldn’t quite understand, let alone articulate, the primal satisfaction that bathing this thing in Nuclear fire brought him, but after a hellish couple hours of supernatural suffering he wasn’t about to dial it back. Only after a moment did he realize that the yelling that filled the air was his, and it took a handful of clicks before he registered that his flamethrower had run dry. With his magic and firepower depleted, and any physical skills liable to render him unconscious from the backlash, he could do little but let his firearm disappear and sink down to the ground. The rest was up to the others.

Luckily, the other guys didn’t seem eager to let the Shadow regain control over the battle. Caelum, bless his heart, seemed to be taking action once more. The guts it took to come out of one monstrous encounter, gain nothing but bruises and fatigue for Caelum’s efforts efforts, and then willingly take up arms to fight through the next, filled Barney with awe. After the first time any sane person would have gotten as far away from a fight like this as possible, and been thoroughly justified in doing so, but Caelum did not run away. If anyone deserved to get a Persona, it was this guy.

Of course, he needed an opening to introduce that rebar of his to the Shadow’s vital areas, and even with his own Persona powers diminished Dakota, Dakota was determined to help. In the corner of Barney’s eye a radiant light suddenly blared into existence, flying forth in a parabolic arc. A flare? Barney shielded his eyes from the miniature shooting star, which turned out to be a great idea when it exploded against the enemy’s body. The brilliant flash left the Shadow dazzled, blind and unable to stop a surprise impalement at Caelum’s hands.

It hit the dirt, broken and vulnerable. In an instant Barney recognized the same critical opportunity that gave him the chance to end things with his own blasted nemesis back in the cathedral, but Nick didn’t need someone else to tell him to strike down this disturbing parody once and for all. “Kick his ass!” Barney cheered, mustering what spirit he could. The pounding of Nick’s feet against the littered ground brought him into melee range in seconds, allowing him to put all his anger and frustration into a mighty hammer swing straight into the Shadow’s head. A bloodcurdling crack sounded out, and the wall of Curses flickered. That was all Barney needed to pump his fist, celebrating one more demon conquered. “Yes!”

With blistering speed, however, he found that his celebration had been premature. Not to be done in so easily, the Shadow lashed out and felled Nick with a single blow. Barney’s blood froze as the monster then picked him up, filling the tense air with jeers. Their gambit hadn’t worked. Nick was going to die! “Dag...nabbit!” The war cleric grit his teeth as called forth his wheel, which he used for support as he fought to stand, but his tired muscles just didn’t want to listen. “Hold...on!” He managed to get to his feet, but a couple dozen feet between him and the Shadow might as well have been a couple dozen miles. After shooting a bewildered look at Vincent, as if to scream do something!, then at an unknown punk-looking guy who’d appeared out of the blue nearby, he realized that he had no other choice. “Samsa…!” he groaned, invoking the bestial Persona that could fight on his behalf. “Save...save!”

Before he could do anything, a wall of pressure struck him, and as Samsa faded it became all that Barney could do to keep himself from falling over. He looked up, taken aback, to find Nick at the center of it all, surrounded by familiar azure flames. It dawned on the spectator that he must be witnessing the very same phenomenon that had overtaken him not so long ago: the liberation of his soul, and with it the birth of a power strong enough to save himself from destruction. The man in the monster’s grip now looked less like a scared teenager and more like a soldier, and though Barney couldn’t see any Persona floating by his side, he knew what had taken place. Nick Waller had awakened.

“Hell yeah!” Spindle whooped. “Welcome to the wakin’ world, soldier boy!”

A burst of submachine gun fire ripped into his tormentor, breaking its hold as it reeled and roared in pain. Free from the monstrous thing in more ways than one, Nick rallied the troops. Inspired and more than ready to put the freakish Shadow to rest, Barney steadied himself and manifested his own Persona beneath him to carry him forward. If what happened during Barney’s own awakening held true here, this creature would begin to mutate out of control, having been hollowed out by the loss of what became Nick’s strength. Reduced to a chaotic, gibbering mess of self-perpetuating negativity in a last ditch attempt to destroy the original, it was nothing more than trash that needed to be disposed of. Almost like an inauguration ceremony--out with the old and in with the new.

Either way, they needed to act fast, and none knew it better than Spindle. Having been flying so low as to endanger herself in the fight, she spotted her chance when the wretched mass went to pursue Nick, and reached out with Odradek’s power. The next instant the Shadow ran into a web of silken threads, stuck tight for as long as it took to ooze through the gaps. “Yah! Got that sorry sumbitch! Alrighty fellas, time to cream its corn!” She looked back to save at Vincent, Barney, and Dakota, noticing Lorenzo as she did with no small amount of surprise. “Hold on, who’n tarnation are you?! Wait wait, it don’t matter, just hurry up and help us kick that thing’s keister ‘fore we’re all toast!”
Hidden 5 days ago Post by Eviledd1984
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Lorenzo Pavorotti


Lorenzo didn’t know how the hell he was going to harm that horrid creature; the only thing he was armed with was a lead pipe. And he didn’t think that would be enough to take it down. “How the hell are we gonna kill that thing?” He asked pointing towards the abomination. Feeling more and more frustrated with the situation at hand; he took another deep breath trying to calm himself down. “God damn it…” Cursing under his breath before readying his weapon. Quickly making his way forward towards the creature; aiming to hit its many eyes. Slamming the pipe against what he thought was a weak point. Trying to get away from its grotesque limbs; Back flipping when he was hit in the side by the creature; sending him flying backwards onto his side.

Slowly stood up and noticed that his jacket had a hole through it. "Alright that's it pal; now you really pissed me off." Discarding the jacket and starting rushing at the creature; wanting to deal some real damage with his pipe. He didn’t feel like he was doing that good of a job as the others. “Maybe you can manifest some sort of rocket launch or something bud!” Addressing Nick who could materialize weapons. Watching the creature being immobilized; which was his cue to keep attacking. Trying to find some sort of weak spot so he could finally kill this thing.

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