A Return Trip Home

Janet ascended the stairs leading out of the subway station and into the snowy landscape of the city. Soon after, Yuki, Tammy, and Tad (Who was carrying a now sleeping Nekomata), came up and out of the subway system.

"Look..." Yuki said as she eyed the landscape.

"I noticed..." Janet said as she looked skyward. "It stopped snowing... and the sky cleared... All that's up there is a mass of colors... like the one surrounding the town..."

"You mean the Plasma Barrier???" Tammy asked as she looked up.

"Whatever it's called, yeah..." The Windian replied.

"Philemon was right..." Tad said as he followed his friends over to Sun Mall. "The Snow Queen's power must be getting weaker..."

"And you know what else??? It's like there are fewer demons that we have to worry about now..." Janet said as she looked around warily.

"Okay... so that means one of two things..." Yuki said as they approached the doors to the mall.

"One... her powers are weakening... meaning that most of the demons now won't be in the city, but in dungeons." Tammy explained.

"Wait a second... In the dungeons? What about the Ruins? Isn't that where the last shard is?" Janet asked no one in particular.

"Unfortunately, yes..." Tad answered as he walked into the mall.

"Perfect... The one last place we have to explore... and it's still got those damn things in there!" Janet muttered as she looked into the window of the Rosa Candida.

"And what's the other thing?" Janet asked as she turned away from the dress that was on display.

"Easy..." Yuki said as she checked her razors again. "Alex's party has defeated Pandora... and that loosened the hold somewhat on the real Lunarvale."

"Okay... so this Alex person, whoever he is, has finished up in the other dimension. I'm guessing that we have to finish up here... meaning rescuing your teacher, and defeating the Snow Queen, correct?"

"Right." Was all Yuki said to her friend.

The group of teenagers and a sleeping demoness made their way to Bruster's Ice Cream shoppe. Janet looked around, and noticed that Frank and the others were seated at a cluster of tables.

Ladon... not the bimbo... That's the last thing I need...

"Like... Brad..." Alana started as she twirled a finger in one of her pigtails. "Why don't we ever go out? I mean, you are..."

Brad shook his head once. "Alana... how many times do I have to tell you? I am NOT your boyfriend! I'm your friend, but not like that!"

"But... you're a guy... and my friend..." Alana said as she continued to twirl a finger in her hair. "So... like... you're my boyfriend!"

"Alana... I am not! Get it through your head!" Brad said as he raised his arms into the air.

"Alana, right?" Alex said as he looked up from his hot fudge sundae. "Why don't you listen to..."

"STAY OUT OF THIS!" The blonde Persona User said as she whirled to confront Alex.

Alex's tail was waving angrily. He was about to say something, when his sister interrupted him.

"Dammit! Why dun ya just shut yer trap! Alex was jes trying ta explain something, ya blonde haired twit! I swear, even a biru-buru is smarter than ya!" Diane said as her ears began to lay back.

"What did you say, you mangy, inbred furball?" Alana replied hotly as she slammed her hands down on the table.

"Oh tha' is it!" Diane replied as she stood up from where she was sitting. "Ya wanna start somethin', ya airhead? Bring it on!" With those words, Diane clenched her fists and was ready for a fight.

Alana was about to pull out her whip when Frank stood up.

"Alana, knock it off! Why don't..."

"Frank, shut up! Like, I'm going to teach her..."

"Alana! Cool it! For starters, she didn't do anything! She was defending her brother! Why don't you listen to people for once?!" Frank said hotly before glaring at his friend.

Alana looked like she was about to cry. On the other hand, she was still extremely angry.

"Like, that's how it is, huh? Fine..." Alana said as she stormed away from the group. She shoved past Janet as she walked by. "I hope you all die! See if I care!" With those words, Alana stormed out of the mall and into the streets of Lunarvale.

"Frank..." Kate said quietly. "Will she be..."

"Meow... she's loud... and annoying... Myah... it's like she can't pick up on what's really true..." Neko-Chan said before taking a bite of her strawberry shortcake.

"She's like that, Kate... Ever since the day I met her, she's been like that... it has to be her way. She doesn't listen... no matter what anyone tells her." Frank replied as he shook his head.

"Well..." Tellka muttered as she looked in the direction that Alana stormed off into. "She seemed like a burden anyhow... Ladon she can't even hold her own in battle..."

"Tell me about it..." Alex said as he looked up from his ice cream. "It's like she wasn't even trying..."

"She wasn't, love..." Ellen said from where she was sitting, which happened to be right beside Alex.

"Heh? What d'ya mean by tha'?" Diane asked, her ears perked in interest. She then took a big bite of her banana split.

"Alana likes to have things her way... she's gotta be the center of attention at all times... and if she doesn't get it her way... well... you saw what happened." Ellen explained before removing a cherry from the top of her sundae.

"Heck..." Frank said as he took a sip of his chocolate malt. "She used the same line on us before we entered SEBEC for the first time..."

"Why is that?" Kate asked curiously. She then took a little of the caramel off her sundae and ate it.

"Honestly?" Ellen started. "She was annoyed... she didn't have her Persona at the time... Alex didn't want to risk it. Frank and I suggested that she find a safe place to hide. She stormed out and made it back to the school before it disappeared..."

"Well..." Janet said as her group approached the others seated at the tables. "She needs an attitude adjustment... She had no right to be saying that..."

"Janet!!!" Frank said as he stood up. Immediately, he ran up to the Windian and gave her a caring hug. "Oh God... when I lost contact earlier... I thought..."

"Um... Frank..." Janet said, thoroughly surprised.

"Sorry about that..." Frank replied as he broke the hug. "It's just that I was worried... I thought..."

"Well... we're okay... It wasn't anything we couldn't handle... And we did get the shard." Janet said as she removed the piece from her backpack.

"Great!" Frank said as he looked as his reflection in the mirror shard. "Four down, one to go... Um... Janet?"

"Yeah?" Janet said as she eyed the Persona User.

"Don't tell Justin about that... He'd kill me if he found out..."

Janet just chuckled at Frank's remark.

"Hey... why don't you guys sit down and rest... It seems like she needs it..." Frank said as he motioned to the drowsy demoness in Tad's arms.

"Myah! What happened to her???" Neko-Chan said as her tails began to wave around spastically.

"Well..." Tad said in a hushed tone. "She was slammed into a wall by that alligator demon... We healed her, but that ordeal drained her..."

"Her energies are slowly recovering..." Tammy explained. "She needs some rest."

"In the meantime..." Yuki said as she took a seat. "Let's plan out what we're going to do next."

Frank went back to the counter and ordered more ice cream for the group that had just arrived. He came back carrying a tray and gave Yuki, Janet, Tad, and Tammy what they had wanted.

"Well Frank..." Janet said as she licked at her strawberry ice cream cone. "Hey... this is pretty good... Anyway... the last shard is in the ruins..."

"Right." Frank replied. "The demons outside aren't there anymore... but the barrier is still around town. I remember... after that last fight, Neko-Chan felt something..."

"Myah! Right!!!" Neko-Chan said as she licked some whipped cream from around her lips. "I felt that pulling... The one that would take me back home...Of course, I can't go back, meow... but I felt it..."

Janet thought for a moment before responding. "Yuki and Tammy were right then... Damn... the demons will probably still be in the dungeons..."

"Right..." Ellen responded. "It figures... one last dungeon, and it's still infested..."

"So..." Janet said as she began to munch on her sugar cone. "Where are the ruins?"

"Well..." Yuki said as she pulled the GPS from her jacket pocket. She set it down on the table and clicked it on.

"The signal is clearer now..." Frank said as he watched the map materialize from the tiny device.

"The ruins..." Yuki said as she pointed to the northwest corner of town. "Are here, behind some buildings... They were discovered when the city was bulldozing for a new neighborhood... Nobody goes down there... people claim it's haunted..."

"How far is it?" Janet asked.

"Well..." Frank said as he pointed to a pushpin like object floating over the Sun Mall. "We're here... and the ruins are up in the northwest... Since it stopped snowing and the demons are no longer in the streets... It should be a cakewalk. Yuki, do you mind?"

"Not at all... go ahead." Yuki replied to her friend. Frank nodded before shutting the GPS off and pocketing it.

"We'll leave as soon as everyone's finished, okay?" The Persona User told his friends.

"Frank... Tad, Nekomata and I will return to St. Hermelin. It would be best if we let her sleep in a bed..."

"All right... We'll meet you three at the school later, okay?"

"Okay... and Frank?" Tammy replied. "Be careful... I don't know what will happen down there..."

Frank nodded and watched the trio leave the mall. After a couple more minutes, His group left and made their way toward the ruins.

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