Persona- Burn On, Shining Souls!
Sunday October 30th- 11:59 PM
“I just don't know...”
Mr. Jones stared at the brown aged map before him, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Lit by a single desk lamp, the attic wasn't the most well lit area in the household, causing him to squint more than usual, but it was the only place Haru allowed him to keep his old gear. The rough, uneven, wooden table he was sitting at was covered in a layer of dust, uniform to the rest of the room. Past the table, where darkness lay, large clay pots, rusty swords, stacks of leather-bound books, and even small wooden chests were all that was left of Testa's old life. But for once he hadn't come upstairs to reminisce. Other matters were on his mind. Removing a dying cigarette from his mouth, Mr. Jones extinguished the remnants on the table, making a small black marking.
Reaching up, Jones began to ruffle his hair, a gesture that indicated he was truly stumped. A rare expression, a frown, creased his face in a manner not often seen. His brow was furrowed with worry, and he seemed to have forgotten to shave earlier in the day, his black scruff a little bit more prominent than usual. His white tie had long been unraveled, laying around his shoulders and onto his blue sweater-vest like a towel.
“How'd you do it?” Testa prodded at the map, his finger jabbing a small area to the east, a little part of Japan. “Tatsumi Port Island... just a few years ago, you were going through the same damn mess.” Turning to the right of the map, Testa shuffled through stacks of printed sheets, info of the epidemic that had spread throughout Japan... and Quarterman itself fifteen years ago. Apathy Syndrome. It seemed to be completely random in choosing it's victims. One day, a person could be perfectly fine, running around, playing hookie, watching the stars... and the next, they'd turn up a husk of their former self. Unable to walk, talk, speak, eat, or act in any fashion, they could barely be called human. Doctors could do nothing for them, but make sure they stayed alive. Nothing seemed to be wrong with them... it's as if they just stopped caring. Everyday, more of these 'Lost' were inducted into the Hospital, where nothing could be done for them. The facilities at the high school housed students with the disease, as to prevent overflow at the General Hospital. But like the island, Quarterman has faced this plague before, and survived somehow. “What did you do?... What did we do?” No records could give him the details he needed.
It wasn't often Jones was faced with a problem he had absolutely no solution to. It wasn't like the old days. He wasn't lost in the desert, with only his wits and a compact mirror to keep him alive. He wasn't being strangled by an anaconda. He wasn't having to escape from a religious cult, for stealing one of their holy relics. This was worse. Nothing but pure information would save these people.
Reaching into his pocket, Jones pulled out a small cardboard box, and retrieved the last cigarette from it's maw. Sticking it in his mouth, he searched the table for a light, finally stumbling on a pack of matches. Striking one of the sticks on the rough edge of the packet, he raised the small flame to his mouth, protecting it from the drafty attic with his second hand acting as a cupped barrier, and lit the small cylinder.
Streets of Quarterman
Sunday October 30th- Court of Miracles (12:00 AM)
They couldn't stay around the school anymore. The Shadows were too numerous, too powerful. They were spreading through the whole city now, a veritable black tide of doom. As cliché as it sounded, it was about as accurate of an analysis Garret could make of the monsters. He had seen what they could do fifteen years ago, and they weren't any weaker now.
Garret ducked, returning to his senses. A a single arrow, followed by a volley of spears of a black inky substance flew just a few inches where his head had been a second ago. Turning, he saw the missiles hit their mark in the chest of a large, minotaur like shadow. Seeming to be the flavor of the night, the large bipedal beasts were more numerous than anything else on the street. Manes of greasy black hair broken by huge horns, just right for goring, covered their heads. The usual fare for shadows, a large creepy mask, covered their faces. This one, however, didn't stay formed for too long. The real arrow dug into it's target first, barely phasing the large beast. The multitude of Mudo cast behind it though... Garret had to cover his ears to block out the bellows, the sound of a dying bull amplified a hundredfold being too much to bear. The beast evaporated into nothing.
“Nice going Mana!” Garret shouted, unsure where the archer was. If the arrow hadn't given away his identity, the spell behind it certainly had.
The kids were learning. They'd far surpassed his ability with Personae already.
The street was a battlefield. Cars turned on their sides, lifted by Personae to create makeshift barriers. Cracks in the asphalt from particularly powerful strikes, falls, and blows. The ghastly yellow light of the moon seemed clearer tonight, making the light cast off it seem almost... normal. If not for the odd red substance leaking along the walls, Garret would have almost believed they were in the real world. But the Court of Miracles it was.
Inside a nearby hardware store, Garret could see one of the Minotaurs cornering Snow through the window. Before he could shout out, a dark hand reached up from behind and tapped the monster on the shoulder, causing it to turn... only to find a fiery fist lodged firmly in it's mask. The impact knocked it over, allowed Snow, and Sigmund (for who else could it be?), to quickly dispose of it together. Garret sighed, crisis averted.
In the middle of the street nearly a block ahead, Russell, Halberd, Lace, and Clarise stood back to back, each gripping a large blue card the width of their palm in one of their hands. Several of the beasts circling around them, shaking their manes, attempting to intimidate their prey. In unison, the kids raised the tarot to their heads. Wulfgard could practically feel the buzzing sensation they caused himself. In a flash, the sound of breaking glass announced the arrival of their Personae. A woman clothed in shadow, a handsome young man with a bow, a large limbless man on fire, and what appeared to be a cheerleader stood in front of their charges.
Wulfgard turned his head an winced. Some things were too brutal for him to watch. The bulls never stood a chance.
An earth shattering shake caused Wulfgard to lose his footing, falling on his knees in the middle of the street. To his left, the body of a minotaur lay broken, evaporating, and seemingly appeared from nowhere. Looking up, he found the source of the monster's downfall. Randy Clopin and Izzy Simone stared from the top of the multistory building next to Garret, both of their faces that of joy... or at least those of 'Holy crap, I can't believed that worked'. Without even looking at each other, their fists raised and smacked together in celebration.
Wulfgard shook his head. They were doing well. But something didn't feel right. It had been two months since the last Shadow version had shown up. Staring at the moon Wulfgard saw the Court was coming close to an end, as it was almost completely eclipsed.
“Something bad's coming... I can just feel it.”
Monday October 31st- 12:01 AM
'And I don't have any information...'
Finally, the cigarette caught. Waving the match out with one hand, Jones took a long drag with the other, allowing himself to relax. Positive the match was extinguished, he tossed it behind, and slid down in his chair, right arm slung over the back, left hand holding his fix, and legs sprawled out before him. He hadn't really felt the need to slide back and let his muscles lose their tension in a long time. It felt good. 'Something's out for us... Quarterman definately isn't the first or last case of this plague.'
“Testa... you in there?” Knuckles rapped on the door to his little room, breaking his state of mind.
Testa grinned at the sound of his wife's voice. He'd probably kept her awake. But he was still glad she'd worried enough to come to the attic. Ending his relaxation, Testa quickly pulled the cord on the lamp, shutting it off, leaving only the light from under the door to guide him. Even though it was fresh, Testa put out the cigarette in the same fashion as the last one, leaving the carcass on the table. Haru couldn't stand them.
“I'm coming. Just... had to finish a bit of work.” Opening the door, Testa didn't even bother to see how Haruka was dressed before grabbing her by the waist and pulling her close. Whatever was going on scared him, even if he didn't admit it. It could take either of them at anytime. He held her tighter, pressing her head into his chest, and petted her short brown hair. She didn't resist, and seemed to take it in stride, but it made her voice a bit muffled.
“You smell like smoke.”
“Sorry. Let's head to bed.”
Deciding the embrace had gone on long enough, Haruka finally pushed herself off of her husband, and looked him in the eye, cocking a single eyebrow in interest. She was still wearing her uniform for work, tan shorts over black leggings, a pink button-up, and a black apron. Reaching up, she grabbed his tie's loose ends, and pulled him down to her level.
“Yes... let's.” She replied impishly, a grimace spreading across her face. Testa didn't have time to react before getting drug down the hall, down the stairs, and into their room.