Cutscene: Active Search

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IC Date: December 30, 2009

Characters Involved: Shiori Hibiki

Tick, tock,

tick, tock,



The Dark Hour fell upon Port Island. And "fell" always seemed like such an apt word to Shiori Hibiki, as she felt the oppressive weight that accompanied this hidden time settle over her, the heavy silence in the thick, still air.

Standing on the roof of... where was this again? It didn't matter; it had easy rooftop access, and that was all she wanted. She wished she could be somewhere higher, though. Maybe a taller building? Then again, would that make any difference to what she was planning to do? It seemed that the higher she went, the easier it became, but that could just be a placebo effect. It didn't seem like anyone else felt the same way.

Shiori turned to face the looming building in the near distance. She didn't think that Tartarus had anything to do with the situation, but in the Dark Hour, the tower was difficult to ignore. Might as well use it to focus.

A deep breath, in an attempt to calm herself, only partially successful. Shiori shut her eyes, concentrated...

Pheme blossomed into existence in a rush of wind and whispers. The Persona spread her wings, every eye on every peacock-like feather searching, seeking, as Pheme opened her mouth.

What emerged was... not quite a sound, but the background of a sound, what you had when you started with a sound but took away everything that could be heard or felt except for the core. It quickly spread through the city in silence, thrumming through something unseen and unheard and unfelt, alerting only those who had the ability to sense it, as they could sense all others who moved in this time of Shadows and fear.

Once, Shiori had described to someone else how she saw the world now. A tapestry of sound and whispers, with every person a bundle of rumours, pressing slightly onto the world, tiny knots in the fabric. They were still, now, trapped outside of time for exactly one hour, safe in their coffins.

Stronger still were those who had the Potential, or who had already summoned the power of their Persona. Each one different, but every one weighing more heavily on the tapestry that ran through the world.

And Shadows, jarring, dischordant snarls in the symphony, each one a screech in her mind, drowning out all but the strongest, clearest resonances, every one a harsh jagged edge of terror.

And now, Shiori had sent a pulse strumming through the threads of the tapestry, a ping of sonar, bracing herself for the feedback echoes.

They were not long in returning, and the impact drove Shiori to her knees. Names, conversations, gossip, everything said about everyone in their entire lives... all of it slammed home, a confused welter of sounds, babbling and shouting and pulling at her mind in every direction. Shiori had never done an active search on this scale before, and she had underestimated the skill and experience needed to make sense of the madness.

But she still had to try.

Desperately, she sifted through the tangled threads, seeking only one. A song, clear and bright, sleek and silver, but fleeting and ethereal, a tiny, stubborn hope that had been buffeted on all sides by despair, but always surviving, always in danger of being swallowed by the darkness...

Wait! Was that... but it was gone, and Shiori couldn't be sure that it was the right one anyway. She sought the True, the only one who was uniquely and truly a part of the one she sought.

They said she needed to know the one she was looking for very well, to find her among all the others. They said she needed a lead, to search among the chaos.

A pool of blood, in the park. A scarred wrist. A book of curses and hexes.

A hand, reaching out in friendship and support. A smile of encouragement. A voice, stunningly beautiful.

A friend, a close friend. As close as sisters.

Shiori shakily got to her feet, shook her head to clear it of her muzziness, and took another deep breath. She had the rest of the Dark Hour to try this, and then the Dark Hour after that, and the one after that again. Until she found the one she sought.

Shiori closed her eyes, concentrated, and sent out an active search again.

And again.

And again.

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