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[personal profile] masserect
Summary: Minako is finally free from her position as the Great Seal, but something has gone wrong. Instead of returning to her own world, she is reincarnated in the Junkyard as a member of the Embryon.
Length: 2400 words
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Old fill from the Persona 3, 2, and 1 kink meme. Unfinished, and as much as I love the concept, unlikely to be finished. Maybe one day...

She stumbles onto the battlefield naked, every instinct screaming at her to get out.

There is no sky, just an endless grey and the rain that strikes her bare skin like tiny needles, cold and harsh.

It's unfamiliar, unpleasant, but she doesn't know what else the world could be but this.

She knows there is something she is forgetting, but -

- she can't remember what it is.


They find her huddled in a corner of a ruined building, shielded from the rain by the last remains of the roof. Shivering, clutching a rebar - a long, thin pole with a jagged, sharp tip, broken off from somewhere and left to rust.

She nearly skewers one of them before she realizes that they aren't threatening her.

The redhead frowns at her, eyes cold and grey, but wraps her in his cloak and carries her easily when they leave.

It reminds her of something she thinks she once knew, but the memory never surfaces.


She wears grey.

Her feet are bandaged after her blind run over jagged rocks and shattered concrete, and her boots will have to wait, but rest of the uniform fits her well. Neither too bulky nor too restricting, covering her from the neck down but leaving her arms bare. A slash of bright orange on her right leg. A mark of belonging.

She can't help but feel that it's in the wrong place.

She looks at her reflection in a polished wall panel. Red hair. Dead grey eyes.

It doesn't remind her of anything.


The tribe is small but well armed. The storeroom has every kind of firearm imaginable.

She looks them over, once, and chooses a simple handgun.

It just feels right.

She stands at the shooting range, ignoring the rain and the constant background noise as it washes over her, the buildings, the ground. Stares down at the weapon in her hand.

She can't make the bullets go where she needs them to.

The target is riddled with holes, but it remains stationary, and the holes are scattered, few of them inside the areas that would indicate a kill - the heart, the head.

She stares down at the gun, cradled in the palms of her hands.

The weapon feels right. There is no doubt that it feels right.

But the battle... does not.


A command from the Temple is absolute.

Gale leaves only a handful of the tribe behind, a skeleton crew, just enough to send word if Muladhara comes under attack.

Not enough to save the base, or themselves.

Even knowing that, she is content to stay - knows that she would be of little help if the operation turns bad, that she would be better suited to handling communications if such becomes necessary.

There is no sense of unease as she watches them leave. Just duty, and the endless sound of rain.


Minutes pass into hours.

The world around her is empty. She lies concealed in a small room at the top of one of the tallest buildings, open in all directions - four pillars holding up the domed roof over her head. The rain can't touch her here, but she covers herself with a heavy blanket that will conceal her body heat from sensors.

The location is ideal for a sniper, but it will be handy for a scout as well.

She peers at the surroundings through a heavy set of binoculars, digitally piercing the curtain of water around her and staring far into the distance.

Nothing moves.

Slowly, she turns around, scanning the area around the base.

The rain keeps falling.

She lowers the binoculars. Stares out to the east, where the leaders of the tribe are heading. The anomaly is barely a blip on the binoculars' screen, and even the machine can't make out individuals at this range.

She is just about to turn away again when something changes.

It is not a gentle change. Every cell in her body seems to scream as something is forcibly overwritten and changed forever - and the sensation disappears, leaving nothing behind. So brief, so sudden that she can not be certain that it even happened.

The binoculars that fell from her hands when it struck clatter on the floor. She reaches for them, but never completes the motion.

In the distance, a brilliant shaft of light shatters the clouds, and the ground shakes at its touch.

She can't hear the explosion. Barely even sees it - her eyes locked on the clouds above.

When the shaft of light fades, she thinks, just for a few moments, she is able to see the sky.

Then it's gone.

She scrambles for the binoculars, turns them on the site - the place where the anomaly used to be.

But the area has... changed. A bright, swirling mist remains, spreading and fading, and then - nothing.

Still, she can not tear her gaze from the site. Out there, somewhere, is the rest of her tribe, her leader. What happens when a leader dies? The Embryon will follow the one who kills Serph, as the law demands. But what if he is not killed, but simply eradicated by a phenomenon no one has ever seen before? She feels... doubt.

The law must be obeyed. But what happens when the law has no answer?

Something glitches in the image the binoculars show her. She blinks, and it disappears.

Only to return. In a different spot, but closer, now.

She lowers the binoculars, and sees a whirling wisp of light speeding towards her. But not alone - there are hundreds more, thousands more, all flowing from the site of the impact.

There is no time to react.

Nor does she have time to scream when it shoots through her, setting her entire being on fire.

The pain swiftly fades, along with her consciousness.

The binoculars fall from numb fingers, and she doesn't even hear them hit the floor.

The sky is clear above her. She knows it was overcast a moment ago, but the clouds have all fled.

Fled from the enormous, venomously pale full moon glaring down at her.

She can't look away, can't see what she's leaving behind her. The moon comes closer - but no, that's not it. She is falling up into it, unable to stop herself, but something tells her she wouldn't stop even if she could.

The moon becomes a giant red eye, its gaze piercing through her. Something vast and incomprehensive stares straight into the very core of her being, and is about to sweep her aside, crush her like an annoying gnat.

But it can't.

The attempt leaves her body crushed and broken, but it doesn't matter. Not here, not now.

Ears ringing, she continues to rise towards it.

The inhuman entity above focuses its attention. This time, she bears the full strength of its fury. An irresistible force descends on her.

And yet she resists it, and though it leaves her on hands and knees, she refuses to fall.

A voice echoes in her head, far off and distorted. She can't make out a single word in the blanket of noise. But she can tell that the first voice is joined by another, and then yet another.

Her body lacks strength. In any normal time and place, this would be the end.

But not here. In this time and this place, she can get by on will alone. And the distant, far-off voices, powerless on their own, fill her with hope and determination.

She stands up.

The moon becomes a golden egg, waiting to hatch, and she knows that whatever lies inside it can not be allowed to be born.

Another voice adds to the chorus in her head. Another. And another.

She can't hear what they say.


But then a single voice rings out above the noise.


"All right. Let's do this."


Strength floods back into her shattered body.


She wakes up.


The rain is the first thing she hears. The endless smattering rain, a sound that seems to gnaw away at the edges of her mind, just as the water erodes the stone it falls on.

The floor is cold and wet underneath her, and the blanket is heavy over her shoulders.

Her left arm burns. Throbbing and aching, a sharp and angry sensation, like red-hot needles piercing skin, muscle and straight into the bone.

She shivers as she begins to pull herself up on her knees. Feels sick - tastes blood, not unfamiliar, but much stronger than it should be.

She runs her tongue over the gash in her lower lip. She must have caught it on a tooth when she fell.

The rich, coppery taste of blood fills her mouth. Her vision grows hazy for a moment, and she realizes that she's hungry.

Her stomach turns, and she clamps her hands over her mouth, as if that would help resist the urge to throw up.

What - has just happened?

Her left arm burns.

She glances down. Shakes her head, looks again - but the vision remains. Halfway between shoulder and elbow sits a mark, an ugly black brand of a grinning mask with empty eyes and knife-like teeth. A starburst lies behind it, sharp points in all directions. The image is divided lengthwise, each side an inverted mirror image of the other, but otherwise in perfect symmetry.

She has never seen the mark before, and yet it is terrifyingly familiar.

Familiar and wrong.

She shudders and turns away.

...Something has changed.

Not just her skin. Something deeper than that. There is something inside her that wasn't there before.

She can not explain why it feels so old, like a piece of her that's been missing for the past - She can't put a number to it, but it has been gone for a long time.

All she knows is that it wants out.

She can't explain it. Nor can she explain why thinking about it has her clutching her gun, the barrel raised to point at her head, before she even knows what she's doing.

No, she thinks as she re-holsters the weapon. Not that. Not here-

There is no explanation as to what that means, either.

A thought strikes her. The binoculars still lie where she dropped them. She picks them up and turns them on the impact site.

There is nothing there. The anomaly - whatever it was - is gone. Her tribe is -

She fumbles for the radio with one hand, still clutching the binoculars with the other. Thumbs the sender to all frequencies and requests a status update.

The only thing she gets in return is static.

How long was she out? It is impossible to tell. Unsteadily, she drags herself up, takes a first unsteady step towards the elevator.

She tries to concentrate on breathing on the way down. The elevator, rusted despite constant maintenance, jerks and sways, even more than on the way up.

She reaches the bottom and steps out into the rain again. The base seems deserted. Even with most of the tribe gone, it feels emptier than it should be.

She reaches for her gun. Hesitates, not sure if she can trust herself to handle it the way she should, but she has no other choice.

Despite her misgivings, her hand remains steady, the weight of the weapon almost comforting. Still, her finger rests directly on the trigger. It's against the rules, but the rules no longer apply. Not after this.

She finds the next sentry, the closest to her position. Another fresh recruit, like herself. Young. Male. She doesn't know his name. It's not as if it matters.

They both raise their weapons at the first sign of movement. Stare at each other for several seconds before they lower them again.

She finally holsters her gun, tension easing a little with the discovery of another living being. "What just happened?"

The answer is disappointing, but expected. "I do not know."

They stand in silence for a few moments.

"Does your radio work?"

He examines it. "Yes."

"Contact Gale."

She doesn't know why she gives the orders, or why he follows them. All that matter is that she does, and that he does.

The young recruit can not describe the situation beyond the obvious - the light, then unconsciousness. The call is brief, and when it ends, he looks up at her with his dull, grey eyes.

"We are to gather all survivors and await their return."

She nods and heads back outside. With no radio of her own, she can not help him, and obtaining a replacement would take too long. Instead she wanders aimlessly, until she finds herself back in the main building, out of the rain.

Another pang of hunger tears at her insides. She finds the vendor and takes a ration, dry, tasteless nutrition that provides everything a fighting body needs.

It's not enough, and she glances down at her ring, uncertain. Resources are awarded for efficiency, and she has had precious little time to shine. Her credits are barely enough to keep her going for now, but the hunger does not subside.

In the end, she gives in. The second ration feels even more tasteless, feels thick and repulsive in her mouth, and though she eats until she feels she is about to throw up, it still leaves a desire for more.

No, not desire. A need for more. She feels weakness tearing at her, claws inside her stomach.

Not hungry, but ravenous.

She pockets the remaining scraps of the ration - can't afford to waste it, no matter how much the situation weighs on her mind. Then she heads back out and waits.

One by one, the remaining sentries join her, and they stand by the entrance in silence.

For the first time that she can remember, she feels impatient. It's a thorny, unpleasant feeling, one she cannot shake. Not until the leader returns does it finally subside.

Accompanied by most of the warriors who followed him out, Serph passes them in silence, flanked by his strategist and lieutenants.

And one more.

Cradled in Heat's arms, wrapped in his cloak - just as she was not long ago - lies a small, pale form with black hair.

And somehow, everything that has happened up until now suddenly feels entirely insignificant.

(The beginnings of what would have been the fourth part. I never ended up finishing and posting it, but it was written, so I might as well put it here.)

She does not participate in the meeting. Too new, too insignificant to even be considered.

The black-haired newcomer plucks at her curiouity, but the girl is locked in a room, guarded by two senior warriors - one on either side of the door - and had seemed deeply unconscious during the few brief moments she was visible on the way in.

It's not only that. The mark on her skin - the black, grinning brand in the shape of a mask - is not unique. Several of the returning warriors had also been marked in the same way. Not in the same location, or with the same shape, but the black stains on their skin are unmistakably related to her own mark.

There must be an explanation. Some meaning behind this mark. A reason why she feels so hungry. A reason why her head feels so crowded.

A reason why her fingers are still itching to put a bullet in her own head.

She is restless, and there is nothing she can do to still that. Instead she waits outside the war room, pacing. She doesn't know why walking makes it more bearable, but it does; even it lacks a rational explanation, the comfort it brings is more important than the question why.

The meeting does not take long, but the delay seems eternal. She eats the rest of her ration while she waits, and it settles in her stomach like a leaden lump - does nothing to still her hunger or anxiety.

When the door opens, she presses her back to the wall and tries to look as if she has a right to be there.

Heat sweeps past her without so much as a glance.

Serph follows him a moment later. He turns his head slightly as he passes, and for some reason, rather than studying the new mark on his cheek, she finds herself staring into his eyes - wondering if they have always been that shade of grey; not quite the same as the others, but brighter, almost like silver.

Before she can get a second look, he turns away and disappears down the corridor. As she stares after him, Argilla, the sniper, follows, and the three of them turn the corner at the far end, heading out.

Then there's silence.

Minako glances at the door to the war room. It's ajar - she can't see anything inside, but there must still be two people inside: she saw both Gale and Cielo enter before the meeting began. She knows their names, their appearances, but has never spoken to either of them.

Perhaps it is time she did. After all, with the leader gone, who else can she turn to? And the mark on her arm throbs angrily, reminding her of its existence.

She must know. And so she pushes the door open and enters.


Gale wastes no energy as he moves. He studies the map like a hawk-

She does not know what a hawk is, but she knows the comparison is apt.

Gale turns his head as she enters, spares her one brief glance, and turns away again. Stands like a statue, regarding the map. Moves only to change the view. It's mesmerizing, but she did not come here to gawk. Trying to swallow the feeling of unease that gathers like a lump in her throat, she steps up to the table.


He turns to her, pierces her with his cold, grey stare. "Yes."

She swallows - literally, this time. "These markings. Do you have an explanation?"

Gale's gaze flits down to her arm, to the grinning skull-mask there, then back up to her face.

"No." Just the plain fact without embellishment. But he keeps looking at her, expecting there to be more.

She doesn't know how he does it. After all, even she doesn't know what she expects to say.

"My orders...?"

"Our orders are to guard the base. You will take the third watch with the prisoner. Stand by until then."

She doesn't know if it's blind luck or perception.

She doesn't know if she cares.

All she knows is that her heart skips a beat.

"Yes," she says, and salutes. "Sir."

March 2016

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