A sigh echoed through the dark hallway as the door on one end opened and shut.
“What. A. Day.” A voice said tiredly as he turned on a light, revealing his features.
He appeared to be in his mid-20’s, though his spiked hair had been turned white prematurely from stress. Bags sat firmly under his green eyes that contrasted against his pale skin. A black business suit hung loosely off of his rather skinny frame.
A meow was heard from a different doorway down the hall and a golden orange streak suddenly leaped up and ‘gracefully’ landed on the man’s shoulder, revealing a golden orange cat with a black ‘mask’ and black ‘socks’. The cat then flopped onto its belly and began pawing at the man’s loosened tie.
“Gilgamesh!” The man scolded, though he was laughing even as he stumbled a bit to compensate for the addition of his pet and friend’s weight, “Come on, you know better than this!”
He looked into the cat’s eyes and sighed again, scratching him under the chin, “Ah, who am I kidding. I’d never be able to stay mad at you.”
As if to jokingly tease him and test his limits, Gilgamesh began pawing his owner’s ear, causing the cartilage appendage to bend and ‘snap’ back repeatedly.
“Hey, enough of that!” He picked the cat off of his shoulder and cradled him like a baby, “You are so troublesome, sometimes. I know you’re hungry, just give me a minute.”
So saying, he walked into the kitchen and poured some dry cat food into his pet’s bowl before putting him down and washing his hands. He pulled out a TV dinner for himself and set it cooking as he poured a drink, watching his beloved pet paw his bowl closer to the table and eat.
“Why you can never leave the bowl over there is beyond me.” The man said as he shook his head.
Gilgamesh slapped his tail ‘harshly’ on his owner’s shoe, as if being annoyed that his loyalty should be obvious, but his owner wasn’t noticing or caring.
“Oh wait, now I remember, it’s because my sister taught you to come over here for scraps.” The man laughed, pulling his meal from the microwave and eating it.
Gilgamesh’s tail gave another slap to the man’s shoe before the cat briefly laid on its back and wiggled a bit then went back to eating.
“Okay, seriously, I wish I could understand you sometimes, buddy. You would definitely be a better conversationalist than the idiot I got assigned a week ago.” The man sighed, “Seriously, the guy went and fiddled around with a valuable and delicate bit of equipment with no idea what he was doing, and it’s thanks to that that I’m home 5 hours late. I had to spend all that unpaid overtime just to fix his stupid mistake!”
Gilgamesh gave a grumbling meow in agreement.
“Seriously, I dunno what those guys did to you in the lab that mom and dad’s foundation rescued you from, but you are way too smart to be normal.” The man sighed and reached down, rubbing between Gilgamesh’s ears, “But I guess I should just be grateful that you’re okay and that I get to know you.”
Gilgamesh leaned into the rubbing, and even lifted his paws up to hold the man’s hand against his head.
The man just laughed, gently working his hand free and finishing the last of his meal and drink before throwing the trash away. Gilgamesh even helped when a stray piece of plastic fell to the floor. Before he could do anything else, his phone went off.
“Oh dear god. I swear that if this is my boss again…” The man snarled as he checked the number and failed to recognize it, “Unknown number? Probably a telemarketer. They can rot in hell.”
With that, he hit the reject button and sat down in his computer chair. He failed to notice the installation of a new app.
“Now, I’m almost ready for bed.” He muttered as he opened his web browser and went to Amazon to look longingly at a pair of items he had wanted for a long time but could never get, “I just wish that these weren’t so expensive, there’s just no room in the budget for them!”
Gilgamesh jumped onto the desk before placing a paw on the screen and moving it a few times, as if inspecting the objects on the screen.
“Easy there, buddy.” The man said with a chuckle, “Man, I wish I had a little extra cash...”
As if responding to what the man was talking about, Gilgamesh ‘stood up’ and grabbed an object from a shelf above the desk. The cat then moved it to his owner’s lap and then gave a squeak-like meow.
“What the...?” The man asked in confusion, looking at the object for a moment, “Wait a minute...This is a gift card I thought I’d lost months ago! Gil, you’re a godsend!”
Gilgamesh closed his eyes, looking smug and happy from the compliment.
“Now I can pay for these, even if I’ll be going without junk food for a while, it’s worth it!” The man grinned and placed his order, then yawned as he closed the program.
“Alright, it’s getting real late. Come on Gil, bedtime.” He said sleepily as he stood and walked to his bed.
Gilgamesh followed by jumping from the desk to the bed, doing a ‘tumble’ upon landing. The cat then looked up at the man, almost as if expecting a compliment on the landing.
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re sooo graceful…” The man drawled as he got under the covers.
Gilgamesh walked onto the man’s chest before laying down and closing his eyes.
“Good night, buddy. Sweet Dreams.” The man said with a smile.
Gilgamesh gave a few short meows that mimicked, “Good Night.”
The man woke up in the middle of the night, feeling absolutely parched. He looked and saw that Gilgamesh was off to the side of him rather than on his chest, so he didn’t feel any guilt in getting up to head to the kitchen for a drink. Gilgamesh woke up regardless and followed his owner to the kitchen.
“Sorry, pal. Didn’t mean to wake you.” The man said with a yawn as he patted his cat’s head.
Gilgamesh mewed and rubbed his head on the man’s leg, showing that he wasn’t bothered by it.
The man simply smiled and walked back to his room, blinking at the shut door.
“Huh. I thought I left that open.” He said, then shrugged it off and walked through.
As soon as he did, a flash of light blinded him, and when his vision cleared he was wide awake from shock. This was most certainly not his room! The carpet had been replaced with tatami mats, and there were paper sliding doors along the wall opposite to him. The walls to either side seemed to be made of bamboo, or at least lined with it. Though the room was tinted blue by the light of the moon from the window.
“Ah, greetings. I am Igor, and Welcome to my Velvet Room,” said a hunched-over old man with a very long nose, bulging beady eyes, and a creepy grin. Said man was sitting on the floor in front of a short table.
“...Well, shit. I must be dreaming, this can’t be real…” The man said in disbelief.
“You are not wrong, but neither are you right,” the odd man commented. “This place exists between Dream and Reality, Mind and Matter. You are dreaming in a sense, but you are fully aware.”
“Okay, I seriously need to lay off the Persona let’s plays. What do you think Gil-Gilgamesh?!” The man did a double-take and yelped his pet’s name as he looked upon his new form.
Said form seemed to resemble Morgana from Persona 5 in shape, but his ‘mask’ became an actual mask, and his collar changed into a bandana that was tied around his neck. Gilgamesh was just finishing inspecting himself when his owner noticed him. “Well, I’d say it's about time I had a way to communicate properly with you,” the now chibi cat said. “You don’t know how refreshing good fish is until that dry food makes you parched enough to drain three bowls of water in one sitting.”
“Well, excuuusee me, princess! You were getting too chubby! The vet said to put you on a diet!” The man countered, simply deciding to embrace this as a dream until it could be proven otherwise.
“Then try feeding me with some fish and a slightly reduced amount of dry food. I don’t see why I have to have only ‘one’ food at a time when you humans get to have several per plate,” Gilgamesh complained. The man looked as if he was going to respond to that, but the cat kept talking. “By the way, I can tell you think this is a dream, but it isn’t. After all, I’m seeing this as well.”
“You could just be a figment of my mind.” The man began to object before Igor chuckled and drew their attention.
“I can see your confusion and I believe you may need some ‘proof’ that this isn’t a dream,” Igor stated, as he pulled a Tarot deck out of his jacket. “Three cards of the Tarot and their interpretation thereof should do so.”
Three cards were laid out on the table. “Take a seat and flip the cards, one at a time,” Igor offered.
The man stared for a moment before sighing.
“What the hell, why not.” He said, kneeling before the table and flipping the first card.
“Ah, the Tower in the upright position. A chaotic event happened before your arrival here.”
“Heh. I dunno which one that could refer to. My life is pretty chaotic in general.” The man said with a chuckle before flipping the next card.
“Death in reverse. You doubt that what you see is real, and you resist.”
“Most definitely. Though that is starting to fade.” The man flipped the final card.
“The Fool in the upright position. A symbol of beginnings and spontaneity. Your future will be new for both of you, depending on what you choose,” Igor stated before placing the deck back into his jacket, leaving the three cards on the table.
“Alright, so considering that I know nothing about reading Tarot cards, I guess this can’t be a dream. You can only dream about what you know, after all.” The man said simply, “So what do you mean by choosing?”
“An old friend of mine asked me to browse around the Sea of Souls, both of the living and dead, to find one or more that could save her world from a fate of Ruin,” Igor stated, giving the man a ‘knowing’ look.
“Ah. And you chose us? Kind of an odd decision.” The man said bluntly.
“Gods, Cosmic beings, and their servants choose on potential. They look to possible futures, rather than be blinded by present looks,” Igor explained. “You may not be a Wildcard, and your companion is of the Tower Arcana, but you both hold the potential to defy fate, and provide said potential in aid to the world fated for Ruin.”
“And what are we supposed to do about it? I’m only human, and Gilgamesh is a cat, even if he is changed in this place.” The man said with a raised brow.
“Then perhaps, a few items and power to aid you,” Igor stated. “You have a liking for certain tools and weapons among the Super Sentai, am I correct?”
“No way. You can’t seriously be offering…” The man said in shock, watching as Igor pulled out two items from under the table, “Those are…”
“The Scissors and Magic Dial Fighters from Lupinranger vs Patranger? Indeed.” Igor smirked, waving his hand over them. The two merged to become a watch with a raised face, “This will allow you to access both of their weapons, depending on the code you enter.”
“As for your feline companion-” Igor simply snapped his fingers and one of the paper doors opened revealing what looked to be a ‘man’ in a red trench coat and ‘ninja’ gear, and was carrying a strange spear with the blade planted into the ground.
“No way!” Gilgamesh exclaimed in shock. “Is that…?”
“Yes, it is,” Igor stated. “A standard awakening is too much for you to bear, so from among the Sea of Souls, this Shadow shall accompany you as your Persona.”
“And I shall serve you as loyally as you have been to your master. Let us form a contract,” the being said, extending his free hand towards the cat. “I am Thou, Thou art I.”
Gilgamesh nodded and said, “I accept, Magatsu Izanagi.” He took the Shadow’s hand and shook it. The Shadow then vanished in a sparkling light and the bits of light entered the cat.
“Heh, Well then, it looks like we’re ready to go. Thank you, Igor. To be honest, I might have seemed reluctant, but I’m actually glad to be away from that world with how things were starting to go.” The man said, watching as a paper unrolled on the table, “A standard contract, then?”
“Very well,” Igor stated, pulling out a Japanese writing brush and bottle of ink. “Save my friend’s world from Ruin and even stay there to ‘spice’ up the life there, and the Velvet Room will be open for your use.”
“Agreed.” The man said, taking the brush and gently writing out his name, Timmothy Pestarosa.
“Enjoy your rest before your arrival.” Igor said cheerfully.
Before either of them could question what he meant, their minds went blank as their vision faded to black.