Part 60: Entry Fifty-Four
The day had finally arrived. Minato and his friends were to ascend to the top of Tartarus, where they would make humanity's last stand against Nyx, the embodiment of death itself.
Minato spent the day by himself, walking through the city one last time. He was well aware of the possibility that he might never see it again; he hoped that his memories might survive the battle even if his body did not.
Everyone was afraid, and Minato didn't need his Persona to tell - it hung in the air like a thick fog of anxiety. Even the non-Persona users knew that something big was coming, though they weren't able to vocalize what it was.
Takaya's attempts at brainwashing the populace had been successful, and Minato found that some had taken to preaching the lies he'd spread.
These zealots were everywhere, from the mall to Port Island station.
Zealot: It will be the greatest single act of salvation that mankind has ever witnessed. We humans, trapped in our earthly forms, will be embraced in Nyx's arms...we will sleep soundlessly and dream forever, a dream of all beings melted into one form...this form will shatter to pieces in Nyx's crucible, bringing about our salvation.
Cult flyers were strewn about Iwatodai Station...
...and even the shrine hadn't been spared.
Zealot: My life's been going downhill, and I'm getting tired of it...at my lowest point, I found out about Nyx-sama, and my heart came to life again. How about it? Will you let Nyx-sama into your heart, too?
Minato just stared at the woman, sighed, and walked away. The world had gone crazy, and he knew that he'd find no comfort in the city. All he had left was his friends and their determination.
Back at the dorm that evening, the Nyx Annihilation Team was making plans for their last operation.
Yukari: U-um, can I say something? I know that we have to defeat Nyx...
Junpei: We know you will, Yuka-tan!
Fuuka: I won't forget you, either!
Ken: Neither will I!
Aigis: I will not forget you, Yukari-san.
Mitsuru: Don't worry. Even if you do forget about us, I'll remind you.
Akihiko: Yeah, so don't worry about it.
They had to keep hope alive, because at this point there was nothing left.
That was why Junpei's idea was so timely. Every reminder they could get that they'd be together again gave them a little more strength.
Fuuka: I don't think it should be the dorm...we'll come back here anyways if all goes well. Hey, shouldn't we also decide on when we'll meet?
Akihiko: Yeah, it should be a special day...
Yukari had made a good point - if their memories slowly leaked away, meeting up too soon wouldn't mean anything. Graduation Day, on the other hand, was several months away, yet was still memorable enough that they'd all be sure to keep their commitment.
Ken: Graduation Day! Yes, that will be easy to remember.
Junpei: Yeah, that's probably our best bet. Graduation Day it is! Now where should we meet?
Mitsuru: It should be somewhere where it's easy to recognize that peace has returned to the city.
Yukari: I agree...
Mitsuru: Alright then, let's get going.
Minato had been silent for most of this, but he took this chance to let the others know that they could count on him, no matter what.
Aigis: I will do my best.
Junpei: Good, 'cuz I'm countin' on ya!
Akihiko: ...This is going to be easy.
Mitsuru: Yes it is.
The team grabbed their gear and got ready for the long walk to Tartarus.
Each of them had their own reasons for fighting...
...yet they all stood for a common cause.
If Nyx won, there'd be nothing left.
Can you imagine what a world full of nothing but the Lost would be like?
The sheer horror of it all...it's incomprehensible. In a generation, all life would be erased from the world. The human mind cannot fully grasp desolation on this sort of scale.
So they set their fear aside...
...and prepared for battle.
They walked to Tartarus in silence. Nobody needed to say anything. Their friendship spoke for itself.
Inside Tartarus, the final obstruction gave way, allowing them passage to the top...
...but they weren't alone.
Strega wasn't about to let them complete their mission unimpeded.
Jin was waiting for them at the 258th floor.
Akihiko: Where's your partner?
Jin: Takaya went on ahead of me. He's destined for greater things...
Jin made no effort to hide the scorn in his voice.
Jin: I pieced together the information Ikutsuki left behind...but not all of it made sense. He was a real nut job.
Yukari: Did you know Ikutsuki?
Jin: We were surprised to find out that he was your boss. We really only knew his name...
"Created" them? The phrase made Minato recoil in shock. What the hell had that research team been doing ten years ago? Weren't the Shadows enough?
Fuuka: Who are you?!
Jin: Heh...there's no use in telling you. The end is near.
Mitsuru: We don't have time for this. Get out of our way.
Jin: Can't let you do that, little lady. There's no way you'll be able to stop Nyx, but I can't let you interfere with Takaya's wish.
Yukari: Do you even understand what you're saying? If Nyx isn't stopped, all life will be destroyed!
So that was what it was all about. Their deaths were nigh, and they wanted to see the same fate befall everyone else.
Minato could barely hide his revulsion as he drew his spear and the battle began.
Boss - Jin (Something you'll notice about these last few bosses is that they all take way too goddamn long to kill. That's really all there is to say here; Jin's good at targeting weaknesses, but he doesn't do enough damage to get past support skills, so his only real strength is his longevity.)
Jin fought with the strength of desperation, but he fell regardless.
Jin: I would do anything for Takaya...
Akihiko: Why are you so loyal to him?
Jin: Heh...you wouldn't understand. Takaya showed me the light when I was in the darkness. It was a long time ago...
The Kirijo Group's depravities had no end, apparently.
Only three children survived from those experiments...
...and it was obvious who those were.
Jin wasn't going to give up, even with his body in such terrible condition after the battle.
Before either side could make a move, however, the situation changed.
The Shadows had been gathering en masse in a last-ditch attempt to remove the intruders. If the team stayed any longer, they'd be overwhelmed.
Junpei: But...we can't...
Jin: You idiots! I don't want your pity!
The team ran off, leaving Jin alone with the Shadows...
...so he could go out in a blaze of glory.
The explosion seemed to shake Tartarus to its very foundations...
...but the team knew that if they went back, they'd face the same fate.
Instead, they proceeded up the Tower of Demise.
Takaya awaited them on the 262nd floor.
Takaya: I take it you have defeated Jin...you are quite troublesome. What is it that you seek? These are your final moments...the end is nigh.
Akihiko: Sorry...but we're not gonna let that happen!
Takaya: You are merely wasting your energy...why not celebrate this wonderful moment?
There was no reasoning with Takaya, though his eyes showed no sign of madness. Rather, it was as if he'd come to this conclusion long ago.
He was standing by a deep-seated belief. It would not be possible to divert him from the path he had chosen.
Takaya: There are many who have also gathered to rejoice in her arrival.
Fuuka: That's just because all these weird things have been happening!
Takaya: That...is untrue.
Takaya: Men cannot face death without first finding meaning in life...but the world has realized that any meaning in life was lost long ago. Nyx has come because humanity has cried out for salvation!
Fuuka: That can't be!
Ken: I-I don't believe you!
Aigis: It's not a matter of whether it is possible or not...it's a matter of believing in ourselves. That's what it means to "live".
Mitsuru: The world isn't so simple that one person can decide whether we all live or we all die...so even if these is hope, we won't give up.
Their pleas did nothing to sway Takaya.
Just as they were willing to fight for what they believed in...
...so was he.
Boss - Takaya (Again, he's got a lot of HP and not much else, though it's worth noting that he shoots people with his revolver without killing them here.)
They didn't kill him. Killing him would be playing right into his hands.
Takaya: ...What a peculiar question. You know nothing of death if you think that it is something to fear...
Aigis: What do you mean?
Takaya: You fear it because you do not understand it...I will not explain it to you any further.
Junpei: Yeah, just lie there and repent for what you've done.
Takaya: Hahaha...you are all so odd...
He'd trouble them no longer...or at least until they'd made their stand.
They'd finally reached the top of Tartarus, and no more obstacles stood in their way.
It was time.
Coming up in the next entry: ...