An unusual crossover of Persona with a webcomic: Furthia High. First of all, all characters, minus the ones I created to tell the story, belong to that great comic-maker we adore, QuetzaDrake. The Persona idea belongs to Atlus I'd imagine. Any other items such as movies and music will be noted at the end of every "Chapter", so please, no lawyers on my tail, okay? Hope you enjoy it!
P.S. I am Scottish, so any American readers might get confused... It should be easy to understand in context though.
Darkness shrouded everything in its all consuming grip, a faint pressure on the chest that you know doesn't exist, but in your heart you can feel it chocking the air out of your lungs. It forces your eyes wide, seeking for that elusive scrap of light, until in the end you feel like the darkness is the one peering into you... Like its searching for the slightest of taints within your soul, picking out every flaw until it overwhelms your spirit...
Unless, of course, you live there.
The truck grumbled and groaned over the rough road, broken and shattered with weeds and small trees growing wild over the unused track. Within, a shadowy figure hung suspended from the roof, a soft, velvety, leathery sound echoing within the solid steel as it writhed. Taped up boxes slid from side to side as the driver navigated the ruined stretch of asphalt, each just missing the leathery cocoon, growling to itself as it swung to avoid them. A dull clicking accompanied its movements as unseen talons moved it over the roof struts, grunting as the sudden stop made it collide with the steel wall with a dull thump. Voices from outside made its ears prick up in attention, certain words causing him to flail in panic, dropping from the ceiling as it rummaged urgently for the two disks that would protect him... Said disks now tumbling across the floor, slipping between two boxes as the heavy steel plated door began to rise.
The bull grunted as he shifted himself off the driver's seat, landing on the ground and rubbing his hands on a well used rag, spitting at the dust covered wheel. Following closely behind, a four-by-four slowed to a halt, the driver leaping out quickly as the truck driver gripped the handle for the door.
"Wait! Don't open that door!"
The bull turned back to the door, rolling his eyes. Every time he was employed for these types of jobs, they always had something to demand of him. Be careful with that, don't touch this, never look in that crate... Everyone with something to hide. Gripping the handle, he thrust it up, using a small pulley to open the door higher, grabbing a torch from his belt and shining it deep within the dark recess...
Just as something black shrieked, colliding with several crates before lunging out of the truck, landing on top of the bull's shoulder, claws hooking into his light blue boiler suit before it vaulted itself towards the nearest pool of shadows, grabbing the trunk of the tree whose leaves promised the shade the creature craved. Limbs flailed, claws scraping the bark as it screamed, the evening's sunset light forcing its eyes shut.
From the car, two others climbed out, the smaller one climbing into the truck, crawling over the floor, searching, the other reaching out for the black furred creature, speaking in soft, comforting tones. The first to have left the car knelt down next to the bull, still on his back in shock, shaking his head in disbelief.
"I told you not to open it..." Helping up the mover, he peered into the darkness of the van, calling out to his younger son, Mark. A faint cry of success echoed out of the metal tomb and the scurrying of rat paws made him nod in recognition of a job well done. After all, it wasn't the first time they have had to do something similar to this. Just one of the little oddities all parents have to adapt to. The older rat held out his hand and his son crawled back out from the mover's van, slapping something into the outstretched palm. Ruffling his son's head fur, he began to make soothing noises in the back of his throat, crossing over and kneeling down besides the flailing beast, raising his voice gently.
"It's alright... Here we go, reach out for me, I've got them right here..."
A pair of talon-like paws grasped the air before clutching to the rat's arm as a drowning man would cling to a life belt. Slowly it pulled back, holding the slivers of smoked glass in its paws gently, rising them to its face... The mother rat, called Stacy, lifted up the creature's head that, only after it had calmed down, was recognisable as a bat, his leathery wings furled against his arms. Glancing through the smoked glasses with concern, she held up a few fingers.
"Adam? Tell me dear, how man-"
"I... I can't see... It's blurry..." At once all three rats huddled around him, the father John pulling a pen-light from his jacket pocket. Clicking his tongue, he felt slightly guilty about what needed to be done, but it was the only way he'd be able to see if any permanent damage had ruined his eyesight for good. Hanging back from the group, Mark walked up to the bull who was observing the scene with wide, unbelieving eyes and kicked him in the shins. Chiding him softly as the bull grabbed his lower leg and shouted at Mark, John turned his expression back to the bat he and his wife had adopted years ago.
"Adam? Listen to me; I need you to look at this light okay?" He ignored the wince as he shone the light directly into Adam's eyes, his larger and far more photo-sensitive eyes flicking from side to side in agitation. He had been exposed to direct sunlight before, but he had always been able to see again shortly afterwards... He could only hope that that was one of those times. Clicking off his pen-light, John held up a different figure from his wife, asking him the same question. Blinking furiously, hoping to peer past the foggy haze that rose up over his vision, Adam forced himself not to squint, taking a few deep breaths...
John let out a deep sigh of relief, slipping his mini-torch back into his pocket and helping him to his feet. Clapping him on the shoulder, he muttered a quick "you'll be fine" before turning to the Bull with a scowl on his face, slipping into his standard doctor voice that promised that there was going to be not a hint of not being obeyed. It slipped into the bovine's ears and forced him to stand to attention without even consulting the brain beforehand, giving him a wild eyed look of surprise mixed with near knee knocking terror of childhood threats with a needle.
"If my son had suffered any damage to his eyes, I would of course be suing your company... As it is, I think we've had enough of your services... I will see that the van is returned in the morning..."
Gulping softly, the bull stared at the now mildly staggering form of Adam, stepping back in sheer reflex, hand outstretched and pointing.
"Hey, that's a Vamp-"
Mark kicked him in the shins again, glaring up at him before climbing into the van, pushing some of the lighter boxes to the front. Pushing a tightly rolled bundle of notes into his hand, Stacy gave the bull a stern look that all mothers knew how to use to deadly effect before grabbing a box, fiddling with the new house keys in the other hand.
Adam winced under the cover of the tree as his eyes began to sting, like they always did when they were hit with an unexpected source of such bright light. Being a nocturnal creature by birth, his eyes were naturally developed to pick up the slightest hint of light to make hunting easier. At least, back in the days of Humans, that was the reason for making the new nocturnal Furs' eyes so light sensitive. By the time they had realised their mistake, it was too late. These days, most people who could see in the dark had to wear sunglasses, even indoors, just to avoid being blinded. Closing his eyes tight, he lifted off his glasses and rubbed his stinging orbs, the pain slowly receding. Replacing the protective glasses, he blinked a few times as the world around him swam back into focus, sighing lightly in relief. Cricking his neck, he stepped forward, lightly pushing Mark out of the road as he struggled to lift a box that was far too heavy for the ten year old.
"Step aside Shrimp... I'll get this one... The box with the snacks is at the back somewhere..."
Letting the "Shrimp" comment slide for now, the younger rat grinned, climbing back into the darker area of the van, sniffing the air for the illusive box of cookies, chocolate and other culinary delights designed to ruin the appetite for dinner. Stacy clucked her tongue as Adam shrugged sheepishly, his arms full with a box full of plates and cutlery.
"If he can't eat his dinner, your flight privileges will be cut for a week..."
Letting out a heartfelt moan, Adam placed the box in their new kitchen, rushing back to the van to drag the box away from his brother, mumbling about cruel and unusual punishment as he squeezed back past her.
Cyrus and Max stood outside the ward, staring in at the sleeping form of Kale. He was still hooked up to several monitoring machines, but at least the need for a direct oxygen feed was gone. He was still deathly pale, as though he had just fought a war for his soul rather than suffering a mild collision with a car. And that, Cyrus thought, was more or less the truth. Gods knew what would have happened had he lost. Sighing, he turned around and began to pace down the corridor, his every movement watched by his long time friend. Softly, like a ghost's whisper inside the dark hours of the hospital, Maxwell called out.
"Maybe it hasn't been awoken..."
The Mountain Lion stopped in his tracks, staring back at the fox who was now loosening his tie after a long day's work. Personally, he always found the work they did to have been... Distasteful in the least. And after what happened to Bruce's Mother... Shaking his head to banish unwanted memories, he pulled out his packet of cigarettes. A night like this really deserved more than one. Rubbing his face, the feline walked back to the observation window, staring in at the boy he had taken in and rose like his own flesh and blood. Eyes closing slowly and resting his forehead on the cool toughened glass, he thumped his fist against the wall once, tilting his head and opening one eye just a crack; just enough to stare at Max with.
"You saw the results, same as me. It's awake." Taking one puff from the nicotine death stick in his fingers, the fox ground it in the bin next to him, wafting his hand to clear the smoke. He really should cut down anyway. The pair stood in silence, each in their own fantasy at what they thought the future would be, both shivering slightly in a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature in the warmish wards. Eventually Max spoke up, voice steady despite the knot in his stomach.
"Do you ever think... We made the wrong decision? Ever think about what else could have happened?" The feline stayed silent for a few minutes before pushing himself off the wall, heading for the exit. Voice as soft as the whisper of velvet on silk, he pushed the door open.
"All the time."
Deep in the bowels of the city, a building that had lain dormant and condemned for decades, yet duly paid up for every month at a rather expensive rent, let out the first noise in its interior in over 15 years. The faint tinkle of ancient window panes smashing, a chilling, slithering noise, and a dull thump marked the progress of an unidentifiable mass cloaked all in black. At first, the building looked like an old electronics factory, much like many of the decrepit buildings in the area after the electronic boom and bust several decades ago. It was probably one of the few buildings to survive that was built in the human era. Several conveyor belts lay caked in dust, some still with parts laid out on assembly lines, the robot arms above them still and silent, yet still containing that sense of mobility that remarked upon their efficiency... During their time. The floor, stained by years by soldering material, oils, paints and other manufacturing ingredients, creaked for the first time in ten long years, a shadow passing by the light cast on the ground by a street lamp outside.
The figure strode past the still valuable materials and robotics, passing by several coats that had name tags that could only be faintly seen on the faded material, until it came to a large service lift, several warnings about safety in the workplace emblazoned on the sheet metal doors. A thin, almost skeletal hand reached out, pushing the down button, waiting for the machine to wake from its slumber and carry out the job it was meant to do. Despite its age and the years of neglect, the motor began to haul up cable, dragging the counterweight up and letting the lift fall to ground level, opening up with barely a squeak on its well oiled hinges. Striding inside, the figure hit the down button again, tapping a rhythm on a veiled thigh before reaching out, hitting the "Stop" button. Immediately the lift shuddered to a halt, the light flickering wanly. The same thin, bony hand felt around the door of the lift before emitting a self satisfied chuckle. Fingers catching on a switch, the intruder pulled it, watching as the button panel flipped open on its side, revealing a keypad. Fingers tapping a staccato, the figure clicked its fingers in triumph as the doors slid aside to reveal a heavy duty blast door. Electricity crackled over the lock before a faint pneumatic hiss filled the air as hydraulics slid the blast door to the side. Stepping inside the hidden, subterranean room, the figure paused before a large glass container. With a low growl, it swept past, kicking the side of the glass once, before hobbling gently over to a ladder set into the floor, cursing.
Travelling down the small chute, a thrill ran up the stranger's spine which was sharply clamped down on. Now was not the time to indulge in petty celebrations. Once it was out with its prize, then naturally, a celebration had to be in order. So many years searching, so many years of dreaming of this moment... It was easy to wait a few more minutes. Easy. Touching down on the base, the shrouded figure stared at another blast door, this one far more study than the one guarding the entrance to this... Lab. Striding over to the control panel on the side, another code was typed in with baited breath. As the dull red lamp overhead switched to green, it was let out in an exultant sigh of those who know that they've already won the greatest battle they will ever face...
As the door swung to the side, multicoloured lights shone out over the figure, cutting through the thin black veil to reveal a reptilian woman's face; a face grinning in sheer, mad victory...
"At last... The power... The sheer, uncontrollable power..."
Maxwell sighed as Cyrus drove his wife and son home, maintaining the lie that everything was going to be alright. For the past couple of years now, he had wondered whether or not the old feline had told at least his wife the circumstances in which young Kale had come to live with them, but apparently not. To be honest with himself, he thought that was for the better. Some things mere mortals are better off not knowing.
He glanced down at the cigarette pack in his paw, reading the label but not truly seeing it, lost in his own thoughts. Kale... And this new Persona within him, a remnant of what he once was. How was that possible? They had checked, and re-checked and checked once more, making sure they removed all traces of that... Personality from his mind, body and, more importantly, soul. Rubbing his eyes with the other paw, he tried to think it over. Perhaps, it had split itself, like an Amoeba? No... No, he doubted that. For one thing, he, no, it was already a fragmented soul. Surely there was a limit to how much you could divide a single being's soul... Surely...
His eyes finally focused on the carcinogenic warning on the packet in his hand, giving a mirthless chuckle. If things were as bad as Cyrus thought they were, then Cigarettes were the least of his worries. If someone... Someone like Kale's other half... Was able to find and unleash the power he and the Organization had worked so hard to keep contained, then pretty much all was lost. He shivered and not because of the chill night air. He was one of the few to have seen firsthand that kind of power, and survive. The thought of it running amuck was terrifying to say the least.
As they always did whenever he thought of that power, painful memories were dredged up from the recesses of his mind, no matter how hard he tried to keep them at bay. Closing his eyes, he could swear he could smell the acrid, electrical smoke; the results of vast and expensive computing machines catching fire. In the depths of his memory he could hear the piercing evacuation alarm, the stampede of people, furs and the last few remaining humans alike, rushing towards the blast doors. The wailing of children... That was the sound that kept him up at night. If he had known what was about to happen, would he have forced his wife to come along, to condemn the kids who were there through no fault of their own? The answer, he was ashamed to say was, He didn't know.
Screwing up the packet and tossing it into the nearest bin, he turned on his heel, heading towards the door. And what about Bruce? If Kale could have a relapse, could his own son have one too? The thought made him wince. He had already lost one loved one over this ridiculous crusade, and he would be damned if he let the only other one in his life be sacrificed too. If the Organization found out, well, he guessed that that would mean he would have to fight them. Something he didn't relish the thought of. It had been years since he last took up arms, against beast or mortal.
He stopped in his tracks suddenly, head jerking up from his thoughts. Something wasn't right... Something was wrong; very, very wrong... A taint in the air that he hadn't sensed for years, yet was as familiar to him now as it was then. Suddenly, he didn't think Kale's relapse mere weeks after meeting his son as a coincidence. Picking up the pace to hurry, but not so much to be suspicious, he made his way to the car park, slipping into the front seat and recalling directions for the last place on earth he ever wished to visit again...
The site of his wife's death.
Kale tossed and turned on the hospital bed, ignorant of the scale of discussion surrounding his accident as the neural monitor that his father had insisted on hooking up to him jumping wildly, even skidding off the scale in certain points. Moaning loudly, the human wrapped himself in the bundle of thin sheets that were expected to keep him warm, muttering "No" to himself, over and over and over...
Images flickered past his eyes, large looming monsters made of a black, oily, almost tar like substance, each with some sort of mask over where their face would be. Each mask had something different. Each were numbered, one to twenty-four, but that was pretty much all that linked them. Some were plain blue masks, some were bright red and had wide sweeping crests, horns, expressions... Each were different, yet they all had that same air of malevolent evil around them. Turning away from them, he saw shadowy figures rising up and slashing at the monsters behind him, destroying one, as the masked beasts responded, eliminating one of the somehow more attractive creations of smoke and illusion. Running blindly away from the scene of carnage, he caught sight of the only true light in the area, a large blue door that seemed to beckon him closer. One of the tar beasts however, was not so ready to let him escape, wrapping a dripping tendril around his leg that sent him sprawling to the floor, kicking at the vile appendage, a wide open maw heading straight for him as screamed...
Just as a large broadsword sliced through the tentacle, before carving the beast right up the middle. A gloved hand grabbed his shoulder, pushing him towards the brightly lit door and only now was Kale able to make out who it was...
The Fox-Kale slashed at the nearest tar beast again, sending its vile liquids flying in all directions before turning to face Kale with an exasperated look on his muzzle, his tail, no make that tails twitching in either annoyance or fear. It was only know, outside of that weird sketch world, that he could make out he had three of them. Grabbing the boy's arm, he pulled him to his feet before dragging him along towards the doorway.
"Get your furless butt in that room now, or its game over for both of us! Now Move!"
Stepping backwards slowly as Mask took out more and more of the tar beasts, yet inevitably being overcome by them, he turned around, running as fast as his human legs would carry him, feeling the beast's tendrils skirting over his body as he literally pulled himself into the door's light, the tendrils seeping over his mouth, his nose, his eyes...
He swam in darkness, all senses clouded by its choking veil. Fighting against the tendrils of exhaustion that numbed his senses, his hearing came first, a faint operatic, or maybe... Maybe hallowed singing, like some church choir surrounded him. No real lyrics, just one, or maybe hundreds of voices calling out the same haunting, prayer-like tone over and over. Feeling came back in his limbs and he nervously curled his fingers and toes to make sure that they were still working. He could feel the firmness of a wooden chair on his back and the faint pressure of a breeze on his fingertips and rushing through his hair. Finally, he forced his eyes open, snapping the bonds of exhaustion that kept them bound shut.
He was sitting in, like he had suspected, a wooden chair, but what he did not expect to find was where he was sat. It looked like some deep cavern, with a strange, almost ethereal blue light streaming from the walls, the ceiling, even the small lake that lapped at the stone quay he found himself on. Blinking his eyes a few times, Kale found himself staring at two figures lounging on the rocks in front of him, smiling at him. One of them was a brown furred Jackal of some sorts, with fine, almost down like white feathers growing along the crown of his head, ruffling softly in the wind. To his right sat a female lizard, with wide, shimmering wings tucked against her back, a softer smile on her lips than on her canine counterpart. While his body seemed to be more obscene, more organic, much like those horror films his father had told him not to see but watched anyway, hers seemed to be more ethereal, mist-like and almost insubstantial. Polar opposites, and yet they seemed to be two halves of the same whole...
Clapping his hands loudly, once, the jackal stood up, grinning madly at the young human. Spreading his arms wide, he gave a theatrical bow, never taking his eyes off the young child for a second...
"Welcome... To the Velvet Room... Or, as this place is also known as... The Sea of Souls..."
The first (Short) chapter of many, I hope. Set after the Car Accident chapter in Furthia High, after kale meets his "True" self. Still, some things to clear up.
The two figures that Kale is meeting are based on two friends of mine who know nothing of the comic (Shame on them) and are, I suspect, far more friendly than they let on (Heh heh). The song Kale hears can be called either "Prayer for the Soul" or "Aria of the Soul". I suggest you listen to it! If you liked this so far, please tell me!