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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Blood of the Phantom

Chapter Text

The doors to the Joestar mansion flung open, Jonathan posing heroically before stepping inside. Just as Dio had feared, his rival had made it back from Ogre Street alive. Though his anxieties spiked during the waiting period, he resisted the urge to try and distract himself with liquor for the sake of being able to see this return for himself. Who knows what could have happened if he hadn't?

"Dio doesn't seem to be here," Jonathan said, seemingly to himself. "I should give father the antidote, then. All that's left is to confront him with his crimes."

The walls were slowly closing in. Dio knew he didn't have time to formulate a plan. Whatever he did, Jonathan could not be allowed to tell anyone else what he'd discovered. To keep that from happening, he'd have to take a risk, but if he knew the fearless fool like he thought he did, there was a good chance it would work.

JoJo began to ascend the stairway to the upper floor of the mansion, Dio making his move and pretending to step out of a room down the hall. He affected the most convincing look of concern he could, turning to face his brother and pretend to be surprised at his presence. "JoJo," he said. "I thought you were in London."

"I was," he replied, hulking muscles tensed and prepared for a struggle. "I've returned now, though, and finally have proof of your crimes!" Despite having already heard as much earlier, Dio was forced to act shocked. "The 'medicine' you were giving our father was confirmed to be poison by the man who sold it to you. Not only that, I have the antidote with me now. When I administer it to him and he recovers from his ailment, it will be all but conclusive that it was your doing from the start."

A few moments of silence passed between the two before Dio did the one thing no one could have expected him to do. "I confess," he began. "Everything you've said is true, JoJo. I poisoned our father, the great Sir Joestar. My poor upbringing made me jealous of your wealth. I grew to resent the both of you despite your kindness. I truly am a criminal of the lowest variety."

He threw his hand out suddenly. "But none of that matters now! Much bigger problems are afoot!"

"What could possibly be more important at a time like this?" he asked. As skeptical as he was, JoJo couldn't help but feel curious. If Dio's expression and body language were to be believed, he was truly terrified of whatever had happened since they were apart. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd seen Dio afraid during their life together, but terror? It was unthinkable.

"I don't know how to begin to explain it," he said, inwardly pleased that his initial gambit seemed to be a success. He was being allowed to continue talking, at least. "It happened the other day at sunset. I saw some sort of light shine from under the door to your room. Curious, I investigated."

His expression dropped, a look of deathly fear creeping over Dio's normally arrogant features. "That's when I saw it. The stone mask you've studied for so was shining like a star in the sky! Somehow, it had broken free from a desk drawer and was lying on the ground. Something must have possessed me, for I picked it up and looked through it for reasons I can't understand. And what I saw..."

Dio covered his head and cried out in pain. "It was indescribable, JoJo! It was like all the horrors of the world together as one all around me!" He began to cry now. "I beg of you, JoJo! I need you to see what I saw! To prove I haven't simply gone mad from the guilt of harming our family! To prove that mask is the devil's own creation! I'll turn myself in right after, but please – as my one and only brother – you must look through the mask!"

Jonathan thought long and hard about what he was being asked. While he was almost certain something about Dio's story wasn't true, the emotions he displayed looked to be genuine. However things had truly played out, something about the stone mask had frightened Dio to the core enough to confess his crimes without hesitation. "It's time!" Dio cried. "The sun is setting now! If I'm to turn myself in, we'll have no other chance but now! JoJo, please!"

It seemed he didn't have any time to hesitate. "Fine, I'll agree to this. As my brother, I can do this much for you." The two walked down the hallway to the room in question, Dio keeping his composure despite a mixture of sadistic joy and caution just below the surface. As he'd described, the was laying on the ground in front of the desk drawer he'd placed it in, lock broken.

"What prompted it to shine?" JoJo asked, picking up the mask and turning it over in the rays of the setting sun through the window.

"I'm not sure," Dio replied. "I can't even explain how it could have escaped the drawer. I'd assume you didn't leave it in this condition before your trip."

"Of course not," he replied. While there was no obvious reason for it, JoJo was feeling a growing sense of dread all throughout the room. Was it simply the reality that his brother was a killer setting in or was it really the mask's doing? "I should look through it, correct?"

"Yes. I need you to confirm what you see." His heart pounded as Jonathan did just as he'd commanded, placing the stone mask up to his face. "JoJo, what do you see?" Reaching out as quickly as he could, Dio attempted to press the mask into his brother's face, a small cut on his index finger dripping blood.

Moments before he could make contact, Dio felt the strength of a vice grip close around his wrist. Grunting in pain, he tried to continue forward to no avail. "Dio, I'm disappointed," Jonathan said, using his free arm to stop the attempted murder. "I thought you may be telling the truth just this once, but it turns out you're simply a coward to the end."

Rather than be discouraged, Dio simply charged ahead with his second option. "Say what you wish, JoJo, but I'll be the one to survive this night!" Without any warning, Dio produced a knife from his sleeve, slashing towards the mask itself. At its point, a few drops of blood still clung to blade before being wiped onto the gruesome torture device.

JoJo had no time to react to this strategy, his other arm still occupied holding the mask. Barely a second after the blood made contact with the stone, the mask activated itself. Spines emerged from inside the device to pierce JoJo's brain, a light emitting from it as it did so. A moment later and everything had fallen silent, the heroic gentleman crumpled to the floor in a lifeless pile.

"I suppose there was a shine, after all," Dio observed with a chuckle. This satisfaction was short lived, however, as a piercing scream from behind him forced him to whip around.

"Mr. Joestar!" Speedwagon cried. "This is all my fault! I wanted to observe your conversation with this devil and let you choose our course, but I could tell he was lying from the start! My cowardice has killed you!"

Gritting his teeth, Dio turned the knife towards the intruder. "Perhaps you'd have been better off practicing your cowardice in silence," he said. "You should be smart enough to know I can't allow you to live now."

Despite his tears, Speedwagon's fury gave him the strength to carry on. Jumping backwards, he tapped the brim of his hat to cause it to fall away and reveal the blades beneath it. "A pompous beast like you, raised in luxury for so long you've forgotten your roots on the streets, could never hope to defeat me! You've robbed the world of a man as good and pure as you are evil! For the honor of Jonathan Joestar and the entire Joestar family, I, Robert E.O. Speedwagon, will cut you down!"

"Just try, wretch!" Dio came out swinging, the knife just barely missing its mark as Speedwagon continued to retreat.

Despite his earlier comments, it was clear Speedwagon was at a major disadvantage in this fight. Not only was Dio's speed far greater than he could have imagined, the utility of a simple knife in these closed spaces proved to be far more useful than his hat. There wasn't an opportunity to retreat far enough to start its movement, forcing him to continue backwards hoping he wouldn't stumble or meet a wall.

"You're a fool to have come here!" Dio declared. "A street rat like yourself? You're merely a burglar in this home. You'll be branded as the man responsible for murdering my dear brother, JoJo! And I, Dio, will be the hero who fought you off to protect my family!"

As he attempted to forge a witty retort or even just something brave as Jonathan would have done, the realization hit him that Dio was absolutely right. The only ones who knew the truth about the poison were the two of them and the seller himself who might have run at the first sign of a scuffle from where he'd had him wait downstairs. None of the Joestar family servants were around the see the murder or hear the confession, meaning Speedwagon would be seen as nothing more than a stranger in a fight with one of the lords of the manor.

This momentary distraction gave Dio the chance he needed to strike a decisive blow, slashing across Speedwagon's chest and sending him to the ground. As his opponent clutched at the wound, he stood over him triumphantly. "Go to your grave regretting you ever came to this place, scum."

Though it wasn't deep, the cut had sufficiently thrown him off his guard. He could do nothing but watch as the demon in the shape of a man came in for the final blow. His regrets were not related to the faults of his own life or his impending death but in betraying the memory of his new friend, failing to restore honor to the Joestar name. Before Dio could slash his throat, though, the knife fell to the ground.

Having shut his eyes tight in anticipation, Speedwagon wasn't immediately sure what was taking him so long to end this fight. Upon opening them, though, he found a sight equal parts satisfying and fearsome as Dio was hoisted by his neck by what looked to be a living Jonathan Joestar.

Upon closer inspection, though, it was clear something was very, very wrong.

Chapter Text

"Mr. Joestar!" Speedwagon cried, choosing to put aside his apprehensions and rejoice at the sight of his friend come to save his life. Strangely, he did not reply, too focused on the squirming Dio in his hand.

As Jonathan raised his free hand towards Dio's face, his victim managed to free himself with a powerful slash from the knife he held. Severing the Joestar's hand at the wrist, Dio fell free and jumped backwards. "What kind of monster have you become, JoJo?"

Though initially taken aback at the hypocrisy of someone like Dio calling anyone a monster, Speedwagon soon caught on to what he meant. Despite blood pouring from his open wound, Jonathan barely reacted to the attack. A quiet, "Wry," escaped his lips as he bent down, calmly picking up his hand and forcing it back onto the stump.

Opening and closing the hand a few times proved it worked as if it had never been cut off at all, a sight that made both living men's blood run cold. Thinking quickly, Speedwagon took the chance to escape and jumped over the railing back to the first floor. Though he stumbled at the landing due to his wound, Jonathan was far too preoccupied with Dio to try and follow him.

Whether it be a simple thirst for blood or anger at his attempted murderer, Jonathan was began to move towards Dio once more. In the blink of an eye, he dashed towards his brother. Attempting to replicated Speedwagon's escape spared Dio from the full force of the attack, merely dislocating his shoulder as he was hit with a glancing blow that flung him through the railing and onto the ground.

Jonathan slowly turned to look down at Dio, the latter thinking only of how things could have gone so wrong. Rather than reflect on his selfishness and evil deeds, he continued to blame the Joestars for all his misfortune. His plan was foolproof, he thought, but that meddling JoJo must have ruined things once again. Not even death seemed to be able to stop him this time, which begged the question of how he could possibly win this fight.

"I said move!" Speedwagon yelled, still gripping his chest as he shoved members of the Joestar household's staff towards the front door. He realized far too late that this outburst would draw too much unwanted attention from both Jonathan and Dio.

Dio was the first to move, running into the crowd to use the servants as human shields. Jonathan wasn't far behind, though, stepping across the hole in the railing and falling straight down to crack the flooring before continuing his pursuit at a walking pace.

"This is horrible!" Speedwagon screamed. "Dio, you bastard! Aren't you a man? You'll kill all these innocents just to prolong your own life? Coward!" Just as he said this, Jonathan had descended upon the crowd, shoving his fingers into the neck of a butler without even thinking as he walked through the group.

Finally understanding the strange man's warning, the staff went into a frenzy as they ran in different directions to try and escape the demonic wrath of their former master. Speedwagon was forced to flee in the same direction as Dio, quickly catching up to him due to his injuries. "This is all your fault!" he yelled, wanting nothing more than to trip him and allow Jonathan to exact his revenge in the hopes that would put an end to the nightmare.

While he would normally conjure some sort of witty retort to this, Dio was far too busy trying to think of some method of escape. He clutched his right shoulder as he did his best to run despite a slight limp, wracking his brain for even the slightest hint for salvation. Heading up another set of stairs, an idea finally dawned on him.

"I'm sorry for this, Mr. Joestar!" Speedwagon said, jumping to the top step with a twirl to send his hat spiraling towards the vampire. Similar to their first meeting, Jonathan caught the blade in his forearm, continuing forward as if he didn't even register its sting.

At this point, he was simply following Dio in the hopes he had some kind of plan. His hatred may have burned brighter by the moment, but the fact remained that he had no one else even approaching the status of ally in this fight. This seemed like the only chance he had of surviving this terrible night.

They ran through the mansion pursued only a few steps behind by Jonathan, obviously feeling there was no reason to rush his vengeance. Speedwagon did his best to yell words of warning throughout the mansion, most of the staff having fled upon hearing the initial screaming from downstairs.

"That's it!" Dio proclaimed upon seeing a certain door deep within the mansion. Bursting through with his good shoulder, both he and Speedwagon ran inside. "Father!" he yelled. "Something terrible has happened to JoJo!"

Just as he said this, Jonathan himself appeared through the doorway, whispering another quiet, "Wry," as before. Speedwagon urged the doctor in the corner of the room to run, a command he quickly followed.

"What good will a sick man do us?" he asked, Jonathan approaching the two as they stood on either side of a speechless George Joestar.

"Father, please!" Dio cried. "Try to reason with JoJo! You're our last hope!"

"Dio, I..." He looked from one son to the next, utterly perplexed as to what had happened since he first began to hear noises coming from down below. Unsure of what to do or say, he simply asked, "JoJo, what are you doing?" followed by a terrible cough.

Too crazed with bloodlust to even register his father's voice, Jonathan continued his advance. "My son, speak to me! Whatever is troubling you, let me help you!" Closing in on his target, a hand was extended by both the Joestars; George's to comfort, while Jonathan's to kill.

All attempts to communicate fell on deaf ears, Jonathan plunging his fingers into soft flesh to begin the process of drinking his victim's blood. Speedwagon let out a horrified scream upon seeing this. " could you do this? Dio!"

It was not his brother who he'd attack but his own father. Dio's true gambit was not to have their father reason with the berserk JoJo but to use him as fodder, having pulled him into the path of the attack at the last second.

Getting his fill of blood helped to clear Jonathan's mind. That combined with the shock of what he'd just done was finally enough to snap him from his trance. Realizing what he'd just done, he withdrew his fingers and cradled his father's emaciated body in his arms.

"Father, I..." His heart restored, anguish unlike any he'd ever felt before began to overtake Jonathan. "How could I have...why did..." He looked to Dio, then to Speedwagon, then back to his father's body. Beginning to weep, he cried out, "Father!"

"JoJo, you've killed him," Dio said. "You've killed our father. How do you intend to make amends for this?"

"This is your fault!" Speedwagon shouted. "You're the true culprit behind all of this! The poison, that stone mask, and Mr. Joestar's actions after being transformed into this beast!"

"Oh?" he replied, a sinister smile already spread across his face. "There are more than enough witnesses to say I am but a blameless victim. JoJo murdered a man in cold blood right after throwing me from the second floor and delivering that horrid wound to you. Now he's killed our father."

Seething with rage, Speedwagon knew he was right. "I doubt the authorities would believe some convoluted tale of a stone mask turning a man into a monster. Whatever may have caused my dear brother to do these things can be determined in court, but the fact remains it is entirely his responsibility." He chuckled. "You needn't worry, though. I'll be sure to arrange the best legal representation available for his defense. He is my brother, after all."

Their conversation was interrupted by a sickening squelching noise from off to the side. Horrified, the two found Jonathan covered in a small amount of blood and brain matter, George Joestar's head crushed to pieces between his hands. "It's for the best," he said weakly. "I can't say how I know, but if I did not destroy his brain, our father would have met with a fate far worse than death."

Standing up, Jonathan turned to Dio, fury emanating from every pore of his body. "You shouldn't be allowed to live," he said.

"Is that what our father would say, JoJo?"

"Do not dare to mention my father!" he shouted, eyes glowing a terrifying red. Despite this outburst, though, he knew he was right. No matter how things had come to be, the last thing Sir George Joestar would ever want would be for his beloved sons to kill one another.

Using ever ounce of willpower he had in his undead heart, Jonathan left the room. "Mr. Joestar!" Speedwagon said as he tried to follow behind. They left the mansion as rain began to fall, leaving the carnage and heartbreak behind.

Despite his desire to support his friend even now, Jonathan did not allow Speedwagon to accompany him to wherever he was headed. "I am a monster," he said. "You are a man, and a brave one at that. Brave men slay monsters, not befriend them."

"Monster or not, you still have the heart of a true gentleman, Mr. Joestar!" He couldn't help but begin to cry. "Where will you go? How will you survive? You'll be a wanted man forced into exile while a usurper is awarded your birthright! Please, the least I can do is help you!"

He shook his head. "Somehow, I'll find a way to avenge my father. Not as a blood-crazed beast, but as Jonathan Joestar. Until that time, however, I must walk alone." He reached out his hand, Speedwagon quickly taking it in his own. "Thank you for all your help, Speedwagon. I won't forget you." With that, he disappeared into the night.

As Dio would soon discover for himself, so did the stone mask that started all of this.

Chapter Text

"Please answer me!" Erina shouted as she pounded on the doors to the Joestar mansion. "Someone, please answer!" After several more minutes of knocking so hard she thought her hand would break, the doors finally opened to reveal the injured form of the man who'd assaulted her all those years ago.

Her confidence refusing to waver even when faced with such a deplorable man, she immediately demanded answers. "Where is JoJo?" she asked him.

"I can't say," he replied. "More importantly, why has some random woman found herself at my doorstep commanding me, Dio, to reveal my brother's whereabouts?" He squinted for a moment, chuckling as he began to recognize her. "Oh, my mistake. Erina Pendleton."

"What those papers are saying can't be the truth," she declared. "JoJo would never kill anyone! Let alone his own father!"

"Alas, but it is," Dio said, doing his best to appear genuinely heartbroken by this. "My brother, he...he simply went mad. I can't explain how it happened, but he killed our father and one or our servants in cold blood. I have the injuries to prove it, as well." He gestured to his arm in a sling.

"You're lying," she said, having seen right through Dio's act. "Somehow, someway, you're responsible for this. I can tell."

He scoffed, turning up his nose at her. "Believe what you will. Kindly remove yourself from my property, Miss Pendleton. I'm very busy." Slamming the door in her face, Dio returned to the empty mansion to brood in darkness.

Erina paced around the fountain in a huff, trying to think of anyone she could turn to for answers. She'd already used her connections at the hospital to meet with the coroner, confirming that the corpse with its head crushed was indeed that of Sir Joestar. Beyond that, the only person she could think of was Dio, but he wasn't talking.

"Excuse me," a voice said. She turned to face a tall man in a bowler hat leaning against a tree not far off. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with that bastard in there. Were you a friend of Mr. Joestar, as well?"

"I believe so," she said cautiously. "And who might you be, sir?"

"Robert E.O. Speedwagon, miss." He tipped his hat to her with a smile before growing deathly serious. "You were right before. This is entirely Dio's fault."

"Then you should talk to the police!" she told him. "Show them the proof and help clear JoJo's name!"

He shook his head. "I'm afraid there's no proof to show, Ms. Pendleton. Evil as he may be, that Dio Brando is a clever one. He set all this all up almost perfectly. I'm one of the only people who knows what really happened that night."

"Then you're saying it's hopeless?" she said, unsure as to whether she should feel angry or despondent.

"Not at all," he replied with a smile. "While I don't know all the details myself, Mr. Joestar is alive and working to clear his name as we speak. I'm sure he'll return soon!"

"He's alive?" she asked, hope growing inside her. "Then we should go to him right this instant! He may need our help!"

"I offered, but he declined. I haven't seen him since that night, so there's nothing we can do for him but pray for his safe return."

"Surely we can do something," Erina said. "Standing around and waiting for him to come back to us...I've never enjoyed the thought of that. Isn't there any way we could be of use?"

Speedwagon thought for a moment, but shook his head once more. "If there is, I don't know it. All I've done is keep watch over the Joestar manor to ensure it still waits for him once he's learned to manage his affliction."

"Affliction?" she asked, Speedwagon realizing he'd already said too much. "If he's been afflicted with something, then I could certainly help."

"I'm afraid what this man is 'afflicted' with can't be cured by modern medicine," another voice said. A man in a white suit and checkered hat approached the pair. "Unfortunately, whoever your friend may have been is long gone now. He is nothing but a monster."

Almost immediately, Erina slapped the stranger on the side of his face. "Jonathan Joestar is no monster!" she yelled. "Apologize for your slander this instance!"

He stood in stunned silence for a moment before recovering, picking his hat up from the ground and dusting it slightly before placing it back on his head. "I apologize for the distress I've caused you, miss, but I'm afraid what I've said is true. I will make one correction, however." He placed his hand in front of his face before moving it to the side. "Your friend is no monster, but the beast created by that devilish mask most certainly is."

"You know of the stone mask?" Speedwagon exclaimed.

"Indeed, sir," he replied, giving a courteous bow to the both of them. "My name is Baron Will A. Zeppeli. I have dedicated my life to eradicating that mask and the creatures it creates from this Earth."

"You're going to kill JoJo?" Erina asked in distress. "There must be some other way!"

The baron shook his head. "Impossible. A vampire is a creature of evil that feeds upon the blood of the living. Something like that can't simply be overlooked no matter what kind of man it used to be."

"But I met with Mr. Joestar that night," Speedwagon said. "He recovered from his thirst for blood! He was as just and kind as I remember him before he left!"

"Then why did he leave?" Zeppeli asked the two, receiving no response. "Regardless of what you may have seen, there was undoubtedly a war raging inside Mr. Joestar. I'll concede it does seem like he has the strength of will to resist the mask's temptation for a time, but he knows that pull will win out eventually. If you truly love your friend, the best course of action will be to end his suffering."

"But..." Speedwagon and Erina couldn't fathom the idea of putting Jonathan down like a rabid animal. Both of them held a great love for the man despite what he'd become, holding out hope that he could somehow be returned to his natural state or otherwise pacified without killing him.

"I realize this is hard for you to accept," Zeppeli continued, "but I'm sure the man inside that monster would understand."

"How do you plan to do it?" Speedwagon asked, both in interest of finding his methods and to hopefully confirm it to be as humane as feasibly possible. "I saw his strength up close. A normal man wouldn't stand a chance."

The baron smirked, walking between the two. "With this." After inhaling as deep as he could, he lunged forward at alarming speed to strike the hidden Dio in the stomach. The initial shock of the moment subsiding, both Erina and Speedwagon found a bit of joy in watching him doubled over in pain.

"Let the air out," he commanded, Dio sputtering and cursing in the dirt. "This is the power of Hamon energy!" As he declared this, Dio's arm began to crack and twist, righting itself back into his shoulder and restoring him to full health.

Flexing his arm and tearing a brand from a nearby tree to test his strength, Dio turned back to Zeppeli. "Is this some kind of witchcraft?" he asked in a mixture of wonder and contempt.

"Merely a breathing technique," he said. "I noticed you hidden from sight here, so I figured you would like to hear my explanation up close." As Speedwagon and Erina hurried over to join them, he continued. "By striking this man's diaphragm and forcing the air from his lungs, I helped him to generate some Hamon of his own. This cured his injured shoulder."

"But what is Hamon?" Erina asked, mystified.

"Hamon is the energy of life," Zeppeli told her. "Humans can naturally create it through proper breathing, but those who know how to harness it can perform amazing feats. This is the weapon we have against the undead." He pointed his hand to the sky. "The energy of life! The very energy of the sun itself, coursing through our bodies!"

"In truth," he said, "I did not come here simply to console you over your loss. I came seeking help. No matter how close I've come over the years, the stone mask has always managed to slip away from me. If I had others by my side now that I've closed in on it, maybe things could be different."

He pointed to Dio. "You, young man, have great potential. I fear you lack the discipline to properly train your Hamon, though."

"You can't be serious!" Speedwagon exclaimed. "This man is pure evil! Worse than any of these vampires you've found! How could he have the potential for a power so great?"

"Silence," Dio commanded, intrigued by this talk of mystical energies. "If you're requesting my help, then you needn't worry about my discipline. I have just as much reason to destroy this creature you're seeking as you. He murdered my dear father, after all."

"You scoundrel!" Speedwagon said. "Baron Zeppeli, please! If you require anyone's assistance, call on me!"

He shook his head. "I'm afraid not. I can tell just by looking at someone whether or not they have the potential for developing Hamon. Unfortunately, you do not. I'm sorry."

As Speedwagon grit his teeth in frustration, it was Erina who stepped forward next. "Then I shall offer my aid in Mr. Speedwagon's place."

Dio attempted to speak derogatorily towards her for even suggesting she could stand beside him, but Zeppeli cut him off. "Possibly..." he said. "Yes, it's possible. I see a fire inside you, young lady. With the proper training… Yes, it's true!"

"Then it's settled," she said. "Please, Baron Zeppeli! Teach me what I need to know to master this ability! I only request that you let me try to save JoJo before we're forced to end his life!"

Dio chuckled, uttering, "Useless," under his breath. "Regardless of whatever nonsense this woman is saying, I believe I'll accept your training, as well. Until my brother can be brought to justice or proven dead, I've been unable to complete my inheritance. I'll gladly put an end to his rampage for both my sake and that of the world."

"Very well," the baron said with a nod. "I shall train the both of you in the art of Sendo. Together, we will destroy that stone mask and free your friend from his torment."

"You should never have come out this late, harlot!" the man shouted, ready to bring a knife down into the throat of a screaming woman. Before steel could meet flesh, though, his arm was stopped. He tried to tug free, but the hand holding him back was like a vice clasped around him.

Tossing the woman aside, he looked over his shoulder to try and identify the person responsible. "Who do you think you are?" he asked, his arm snapping like a twig in response.

As he lay screaming in pain on the ground, the figure spoke. "You're the one they call Jack the Ripper, correct?"

"So what if I am?" he said through clenched teeth, scrambling for his knife on the ground.

"You are a truly evil man who has committed many atrocities across London. You've done nothing with your life but hurt the innocent and afraid. You are worthy of being my prey."

"What the hell does-" Before he could speak another word, a finger was forced into the center of his skull, blood draining out of his body.

Chapter Text

"Zoom Punch!" Zeppeli shouted, his arm rocketing forward to strike Dio square on the chin. "Steady your breathing! Your anger only inhibits your ability to create Hamon!"

Ignoring the master's words, Dio quickly jumped to his feet and let loose a series of Hamon-powered punches in his natural booth boxing style, Zeppeli easily dodging each one with minimal effort. In response to his insolence, he was once again knocked off his feet by a jab to the gut.

Zeppeli clicked his tongue. "You're squandering your raw potential," he said with a shake of his head. "So long as you hold fast to that raging fire of anger, you'll never master this ability. You must temper it. Force it to work to your advantage."

He left Dio to wallow in the dirt catching his breath, walking to a nearby stream to check the progress of his other student. "How is her progress?" he asked Speedwagon, peeking over his shoulder to watch the seconds tick by on the watch in his hand.

"It's incredible!" he said. "She's been underwater for over five minutes! I've barely seen a bubble reach the surface!"

With a nod, he called her up. "Miss Pendleton, you can stop for now. There's an urgent matter to discuss."

Reacting more to the ripple of his foot as he touched the tip to the water, Erina let go of the stone she'd been using to weigh herself down and let her body float to the surface. She exhaled slowly for a good ten seconds before climbing out onto the shore. "Have you found JoJo?" she asked.

Dio approached the trio after hearing his brother's name, standing off to the side so as to not appear too interested. "I believe so," Zeppeli replied. "Speedwagon's associates have reportedly heard rumors of a man fitting his description in London."

Speedwagon nodded, a satisfied smile on his face. "He's allegedly been stopping criminals and other miscreants from harming innocents using otherworldly strength and speed."

"Then it's true!" Erina said. "JoJo's noble heart hasn't been corrupted by the mask's power!"

"It's possible," Zeppeli admitted. "However, I wouldn't jump to conclusions. I'd have to see for myself whether or not these rumors turn out to be more than hearsay." To avoid lowering morale any more than was necessary, he added, "But, looking at the facts, there may be a chance, however small."

"Then we'll be traveling to London?" Dio asked.

"Yes," Zeppeli said. "We'll need to find him before he relocates. Vampires tend not to stay in one place for too long, especially once their presence has been made known to those around them."

"Then we'll set out tomorrow!" Speedwagon said, hope burning bright in his eyes.

"Make no mistake, though," Zeppeli added. "If your JoJo has truly lost his way or – heaven forbid – there are other vampires to contend with, we may all face our doom. The both of you are still fledglings in Hamon, and Speedwagon has no way of defending himself against their powers. You all will need to come to terms with this fact before we leave."

Speedwagon chuckled, raising a fist proudly. "For Mr. Joestar, I would gladly walk through Hell itself!"

"As would I!" Erina agreed.

"And I, Dio, shall take responsibility for my brother regardless of danger."


"Please, master!" Jack cried, tears of genuine anguish falling from his eyes. "Allow yourself just one more meal!"

"I can't," Jonathan said, gripping the arms of a chair so tightly they splintered between his fingers. "I can't allow myself to lose control."

"But you require blood to survive! We've done so much good since you liberated me from my evil ways, yet you won't allow yourself the sustenance you need to live! Can't you feed on any of the people we've fought?"

He shook his head, the veins in his face and neck visible as his gum line receded around his sharpened teeth. "The men we've encountered were no saints, but they were committing crimes out of desperation. Our objective is to set them on a better path, not to kill without mercy."

He sighed, looking to Jack thoughtfully. "I apologize, though. This can be no easier for you, can it? A zombie requires flesh to live, so here." Without another word, he tore his arm from his body and tossed it to his servant.

"Master!" Jack wailed. "Please, I can't possibly! Don't harm yourself for someone as lowly and wretched as myself!" Despite saying this, he was undoubtedly hungry. His baser instincts began to get the better of him, eventually losing his wits and tearing apart the limb with his teeth.

"There's no need to worry," Jonathan said reassuringly. "It will heal in time. For now, you can simply be my other hand."

Having made short work of his meal, Jack knelt down in respect. "You truly are a great gentleman, Master Joestar. Compared to me, who wasted his life on treachery and villainy, there can be no compare. I'm truly grateful to have met you when I did!"

Though these words were touching, they did little to help the current predicament. As Jonathan shuddered in another wave of unholy hunger, Jack tried again to convince him to feed. "Master, if I could find someone as wretched as myself, would you feed? Someone who couldn't be turned to the side of good if given a thousand years of rehabilitation?"

This gave him pause, the pain and hunger reverberating like waves through his body. "Do you think someone like that truly exists in London?" he asked, the temptation creeping into his mind like a demon.

"Of course!" Jack replied enthusiastically. "There are any number of remorseless killers roaming the streets this very instant! They kill without need or reason! Liars, cheats, rapists, and more! The most reprehensible of society!"

"If...if that is true..." Jonathan clenched his teeth, regretting what he was about to say before it even came from his mouth. "Then I will allow you to find me one person. The most evil you can find who would never be swayed by the ideals of justice."

"Thank you, master!" he said with relief. "Stay here and I will deliver in no time! Steel your resolve until I return!" Without another word, the zombie leaped from the window, moving the curtain aside so as not to open a portal to the sun once day broke.

Despite needing it to stay alive, Jonathan still could not bring himself to feed on others. He'd lost control once since leaving the Joestar mansion and created Jack, not having the heart to kill the zombie who seemed to adore him like a child.

The only other option to living humans would be to steal blood from a hospital, but that was barely any better. Every drop of blood he consumed was precious life taken from a patient who could have used it. In the future, that seemed like the only thing he could do short of suicide. For now, though, he was far too weak to attempt such a strategy.

For now, he'd leave it to Jack, hoping and praying he didn't stray from the path of goodness he'd been set down.

Chapter Text

Jack flew from rooftop to rooftop, stalking the streets of London from above to look for another victim. His mater had eaten once, but he knew that would be barely enough to quench his thirst. It had barely healed his injury.

Despite having been ordered not to, the zombie simply couldn't obey. Seeing Jonathan in so much pain brought him to tears each time. Even if it meant going against what he'd been told (though not hypnotically commanded), he had to find someone worthy of being a meal.

Besides, he was only hunting the truly evil among them. True, the last three victims he happened upon were killed in error, but he disposed of the evidence quickly enough that no one would ever know. He simply needed more practice in gauging the caliber of a man's heart.

He spotted a drunk stumbling around in the street, hanging from a chimney to get a better view. The man wobbled from side to side, ranting about women and money and any number of other barely intelligible things as he attempted to make his way home.

Strangely enough, it reminded Jack of his former self. He was never much of a drinker, but the callous disdain for both himself and the world around him was very much the same. His murders were equal part self-destruction as they were heinous affronts to humanity and womankind, desperately trying to punish others for the lust and sinfulness he felt inside.

But his master had cleansed him of those feelings. It was like a fog lifted inside his mind after he awoke in his new undead form, finally allowing him to think clearly and regret his actions.

That's why he thought it was strange that his first true meeting with his master involved the man weeping at his supposed weakness. Weakness? It was strength of character that prevented the Joestar from simply going on a rampage as Jack himself had done as a mere mortal. The strength of character to allow him a second chance rather than crushing his skull underfoot after he finished feeding.

This, above all else, made Jack feel he was eternally indebted to Jonathan. And, because of that, he'd do what his master couldn't bring himself to do. Though it pained him to disobey and potentially harm their relationship, he knew that keeping his master alive took priority. Even if he came to be hated, he would still carry out his duty like a knight to his lord.

His attention snapped from the random man to the sound of wheels on cobblestone, immediately moving to investigate who could be traveling through London at such a late hour. He tracked the carriage's movements for several blocks, whoever was occupying the ride clearly looking for something.

"It's dangerous to be out so late," Speedwagon said from inside. "Shouldn't we retire somewhere and wait for sunrise?"

"Ideally, that would be best," Zeppeli replied. "However, our enemy-" He cleared his throat, correcting himself. "-target has likely already been made aware of our presence in the city. Stopping now and staying in one location could prove troublesome if he sees us as a threat. For now, we should continue our search and stay mobile."

"JoJo isn't the type for cheap tricks and sneak attacks," Dio said, Erina feeling a bit sick at agreeing with something he'd said. "If he wants us dead, he'll see to it personally and directly."

"All the more reason for us to stop here," Speedwagon reiterated. "Besides, I'm sure the driver is going to be sick of us before long."

With a chuckle, Speedwagon nodded. "You've both made your point. We'll stop here and search on foot en route to an inn." The group disembarked from the carriage a short time later, walking the streets of London confidently despite the darkness and dread hanging overhead.

"Is that..." Jack wondered aloud. He moved in closer for a better look, his eyes going wide upon thoroughly examining that blond head of hair conceited demeanor. "It is!" There was no mistaking it; the man in that group was Dio Brando!

During their nightly chats, Jack's master had told him of how he came to be, describing his treacherous brother and how he plotted to kill him. Though he cursed the man, he had to admit he always wanted to meet him. Not from any sort of admiration but out of a simple desire to eradicate such an evil being.

How overjoyed would his master be if he were to drag home the body of his wicked brother? And these other three devils, as well, since anyone traveling with Dio had to be at least as bad as he was. That settled it. These four would be his target.

Jack approached the group quietly from above, assuming he had the element of surprise on his side and could easily dispose of them in a single strike. Unknown to him was the fact they were all aware of his presence.

"He's still behind us," Erina said, sending her Hamon through the air in waves to act as a kind of sonar. "It's hard to tell if he's being cautious or simply cowardly."

"No matter," Dio said, breaking ranks to turn directly towards the zombie. "I'll simply flush him out."

"Wait!" Speedwagon shouted, Dio having already inhaled a mighty breath of air. All three of them knew how reckless this attack would be, but it was clear that having gained some skill in Hamon was making Dio drunk on power.

"Gatling Blades!" he declared, producing several knives from his sleeves and, with the aid of Hamon-boosted strength and speed, tossing them in Jack's direction. Though he was just able to dodge, the blades impacted the roof he was standing on with the force and frequency akin to the gun that gave the attack its name.

"This is our stalker?" Dio asked mockingly. "Did my brother truly send such a weakling to fight me? Pathetic."

Though he wished to defend his master's honor, Jack was intelligent enough to know that saying anything unnecessary would only give the strangers the upper hand. He held his tongue, readying himself for a much more vicious fight than he first expected.

"Nothing to say," Dio taunted, flicking his wrist to grasp another knife. "You won't have the chance to say a word once I carve out your tongue. Why not tell us where JoJo is hidden while you still can?"

"Such vulgar threats," Erina said as she undid the back of her dress. The garment fell to the ground to reveal a much more battle ready ensemble of a long sleeved blue shirt and black trousers. "You're a zombie, correct?" she asked Jack.

Though he thought better of it, he eventually chose to reply. "That I be," he said. "I'll carve up the lot of you if you don't flee! I swear it!"

"Then there's no mistake," Zeppeli said. "This man was turned by Jonathan Joestar. He's little more than a mindless slave now."

"It can't be!" Speedwagon said, shaking his head. "Mr. Joestar would never do something so horrible to another person!"

Dio merely laughed. "Then I have no more reason to restrain myself, correct? I'm free to kill JoJo once we see him?"

"You'll do no such thing, monster!" Jack screamed, flexing his muscles as hard as he could. Blades began to erupt from his flesh, making for a rather disturbing show of force. His master had questioned why he'd ever think to implant knives into himself like this, only being told it was for emergencies. This situation seemed to qualify.

"Nothing but bluster," Zeppeli said while pouring himself a glass of wine. "This should be a suitable test for the both of you. Defeat the zombie, but avoid killing it. It may be persuaded to give us answers."

"Did you hear, cur?" Dio asked. "I won't be able to kill you this time. How unfortunate...for you!" He tossed another knife, Hamon crackling through the weapon as it flew through the air at speeds only the supernatural could hope to avoid.

As Jack dodged to the side, his arm was captured in a thin silk rope expertly cast so as to avoid the sharpened edge of the knives in his body. Barely having time to register how sticky it was, it pulled taught, a bolt of energy traveling through and severing his limb around where it had caught him.

"Those lassoing tutorials you showed me came in quite handy, Mr. Speedwagon," Erina said, snapping the rope back to herself in an instant. "You've lost an arm this time. Surrender this fight before things get worse for you."

Jack was unable to answer, doubled over in unearthly amounts of pain as he clutched the still crackling stump where his left arm used to be. "Perhaps he needs more convincing," Dio said, casually strolling forward with a knife in hand. "Which of your ears do you prefer, zombie?"

In an instant, a knife erupted from Jack's remaining palm, the zombie shoving his arm forward once Dio was in range to stab him in the gut. "You..." Dio stammered, a look of shock on his face. The ruse quickly fell away, though, the sadistic Hamon user merely toying with his enemy. "You've ruined my shirt."

Jack looked on in horror, his own knife being used as a Hamon lightning rod to blow up his remaining arm. The cut in Dio's orange shirt revealed he was wearing a steel plate around his gut, evidently having grown tired of being struck there. This doubled as an excellent conductor for his solar energy given its proximity to his diaphragm.

"As I was saying before," Dio continued, stomping on Jack's neck cleanly slicing through his left ear. "I was wondering which of your ears you're more attached to. Unfortunately, you lost the right to choose."

Turning his knife over his hand as Jack wailed in pain, he added, "That strike was without my Hamon. I assure you, though, the next will not be as painless. This will be your last chance to tell us where JoJo is hiding, as well as your last chance for a swift demise."

"Please, I...I..."

"Begging for your life?" he said with a chuckle. "How amusing."

"No," Jack replied, tears forming at the corners of his eyes. "I...please… Do as you will with me, but spare my master!" These words shocked the group, having previously assumed the zombie was deployed on Jonathan's orders.

"He has no knowledge of what I'm doing. I even went to hunt without his permission. Which is why...I beg you to spare him! Jonathan Joestar is the most noble man to ever live, granting even one as vile as myself a second chance under his care! Even now, despite his own pain, he refuses to kill any but the most evil!"

"Is that true?" Speedwagon asked, his hope rising once more. "Mr. Joestar refuses to kill the innocent?"

"It is!" Jack replied. "Even the evildoers among us – he lets them run free, to try and reform themselves! Jonathan Joestar is a gentle soul and wouldn't wish this fate upon anyone else. Even my own existence was nothing more than an accident!"

Beginning to cry in earnest, he said, "Which is why...I beg you once more! Allow my master to live! He won't harm anyone who doesn't deserve that fate, so please leave him be!"

"You've bored me," Dio said, stamping the zombie's head to pieces with a Hamon boot. The rest were too shocked to react, first by the zombie's impassioned plea and then by Dio's brutality.

"There was no reason to kill him like that," Erina said, disdain hanging on every word she spoke.

"He refused to give us the information we needed. He served no further purpose."

Speedwagon dried his own tears, muttering, "Heartless beast," under his breath. He wasn't entirely sure which of the two there was the real monster anymore.

"We'll accomplish nothing more standing around like this," Zeppeli said, his own morals shaken to their core. "We require rest and time to consider our next move. Come, we'll find lodging soon."

Erina, Speedwagon, and the baron all began to wonder whether or not Jonathan was truly a monster after all. The theory that he may have retained his heart was becoming stronger with each step they took closer to him. The resolve to do what was necessary when the time finally came to meet with him was beginning to weaken in all of them as they desperately hoped for another end to this journey.

The only one who remained staunch in his convictions was Dio. No matter who or what Jonathan Joestar was, he was absolutely prepared to kill him. Nothing would change that fact.

Chapter Text

A day had passed since he last saw the zombie. He no longer felt the intangible connection the two had as master and servant, like the thread between them had been severed suddenly. Jonathan was forced to conclude that Jack was dead.

If that was the case, it meant someone exceptionally powerful had arrived in London. More importantly, that likely meant they were aware of his existence. It was hard to know what to do at this point. The possibility of vampire hunters or even just concerned citizens in a mob had crossed his mind in the past, but being faced with the reality of the situation was another story.

No matter what he decided, he should at least assess the situation firsthand. That was why he stalked the rooftops of London this night, finally having emerged from his hideaway to search for Jack's killer. Cape dramatically blowing in the wind, he overlooked a rowdy pub whose patrons were seemingly throwing a loud and joyous party.

He felt somewhat envious of the men inside, wishing to join them for even just the simple satisfaction of human contact. Unfortunately, his hunger right now meant he couldn't trust himself not to lose grip on his urges, forcing him to merely be an observer.

"Can't you stay a little longer?" he heard someone say as the doors opened. "It's your party!"

"Sorry, I've got business," a familiar voice replied. "Thanks for your help, lads. I'll stop by again soon." Out walked Speedwagon, sighing in disappointment at being unable to collect any information on the vampire's whereabouts.

Struck by the sight of his former ally, Jonathan moved in closer to assess the situation. Despite his whispers, Speedwagon's words were still easy to hear. "No luck. Mr. Joestar, where have you gone? I know if you simply showed yourself, we could convince the baron not to harm you. Prove to him that your virtuous heart is still just as strong as it always has been."

Despite his better judgment, Jonathan was intrigued by these words. Placing his trust in an old friend, he descended to the street, appearing behind Speedwagon. "You've been looking for me?" he asked.

Speedwagon whipped around with a start, relaxing just slightly after recognizing Jonathan's face. "Mr. Joestar!" he cried out. "Yes, we have been! It's such a relief to finally see you!"

"Have you come here to kill me?" he asked sadly.

"Never!" Speedwagon proclaimed. "Others may have saw that as an option, but I always held out hope that you would be just as noble as you were in life. And from the looks of you, you haven't let me down! Ms. Pendleton and I knew you'd triumph over your affliction!"

"Pendleton?" he said. "Erina Pendleton? Why has she become involved in this?" Jonathan was almost panicked, fearing he may have done something to her or his family in his rage that he didn't even remember.

"She was beside herself with worry once the news of your disappearance broke! She's come with me and a man named Baron Zeppeli to try and find you. Though he may wish to eliminate you, I'm sure we can convince him otherwise if I can have him agree to meet you!"

He gestured with his arm for Jonathan to follow him. "Come! We'll face him together. You've got nothing to fear with the indomitable Speedwagon on your side!" He began to walk forward, stopping when he realized Jonathan was still stood behind him. "What's troubling you?"

"This is a mistake," Jonathan said. "I'm a creature of the night. An unholy abomination. I don't have any business consorting with the living like this. The truth of the matter is I haven't managed to overcome this curse, merely subdue it for a time. And to do that, I've had to resort to unsavory methods."

"You can't mean..." he said, mouth agape.

Jonathan nodded sadly. "I told myself that feeding only on the most wicked would somehow be less reprehensible, but I was fooling myself. Taking life just to satisfy my hunger...there's nothing noble in that."

Speedwagon wiped tears from his eyes, firm in his resolve. "You're wrong! The fact that you feel remorse even for the wicked shows that you truly are the most noble man I've ever known! You'd rather starve and suffer than harm another!"

"That won't change what I've done," he said. "I can't face Erina or your acquaintance. Leave me behind, Speedwagon."

He thought over what he was going to say next, realizing it could mean life as he knew it would be over. "If that's how you feel, then...I'll stay with you!" Jonathan was taken aback by this, Speedwagon continuing on. "A human accomplice! I'll find a way for you to eat without harming others. Just the two of us until the rest of our days, living simply without fear of those who'd do us harm."

Jonathan couldn't understand Speedwagon's loyalty or admiration. In his own eyes, he was nothing more than a monster and a criminal, murdering the weak to use as cattle. To Speedwagon, though, he was like the sun, a beacon of hope that even the lowest at their lowest could still retain some semblance of humanity and honor.

Before he could make a decision, Jonathan's vampiric senses picked up the sound of rushing air and an electric-like crackle. He caught the blade of a knife between his fingers, dropping it in pain a moment later and noticing how some strange energy was eroding the parts of him that touched the blade.

"Excellent distraction," Dio said smugly. "If you'd kept his attention just a moment longer, I'd have plunged my knife straight into his brain."

With a look of horror, Speedwagon shouted, "Mr. Joestar, it's a misunderstanding! I'd never mean you harm!" It was too late, though, Jonathan leaping into the air to ascend back to the rooftops, both his rage and hunger reaching a peak at the sight of his dastardly brother.

"Dio!" he shouted, dodging out of the way of a Gatling Blades attack to hide behind a chimney. The sound of Dio's laughter was sickening given how obviously he was enjoying the chance to kill Jonathan once again. Even Speedwagon couldn't stand it, calling for their allies and hoping they'd respond in the areas of the city they occupied.

Baron Zeppeli was the first on the scene, landing on the rooftop several feet from Jonathan. He greeted the vampire with a tip of his hat. "Jonathan Joestar," he said, eyes narrowing as he prepared for battle. "We've never met before, but I say this to the mask that awakened you – we meet at last!"

"I presume you're the baron Speedwagon mentioned," Jonathan replied, standing firm despite his predicament.

"Will A. Zeppeli, at your service." He took several breaths prior to his next statement, Jonathan having the courtesy to allow him this time to ready himself. "The dark power you possess must be intoxicating. Tell me, before we begin. How many lives have you taken since you wore that mask?"

"Far too many," Jonathan said. That was the moment they clashed, Zeppeli launching his arm forward to strike Jonathan with a Hamon punch, the gentleman catching it deftly in his hand. "Sunlight Yellow Overdrive!" he declared.

"Mr. Joestar!" Speedwagon yelled, seeing the crackle of solar energy around Zeppeli's fist.

Rather than harm him, though, the Hamon wouldn't connect. Jonathan's hand and arm had turned an icy blue, eventually spreading to Zeppeli's own fist. Instinctively withdrawing himself, Zeppeli's blood was shed as a frozen layer of skin was torn from his body. "What is this trickery?" he shouted.

"I've spent time testing the limits of my body," Jonathan explained. "With complete control of my physiology, I can vaporize moisture from my limbs to freeze things solid. All I've done is prevent the blood from flowing in your hand, stopping your attack. Please, withdraw now. I do not wish to hurt you further."

"This is inconceivable," Zeppeli said, holding his wounded fist inside his coat to warm it. "This man is a vampire created by the mask, yet he still holds back against opponents trying to end his life! Sir, do you mock my abilities?"

"No," Jonathan replied with a shake of his head. "I only wish that there be no more blood shed because of me."

Zeppeli had to laugh at this. "That's quite the claim. Maybe those rumors of your true nature weren't entirely wrong." With a sigh, he added, "Perhaps if we'd met some other way, we may have even been comrades. Unfortunately, it's my duty to defeat you and destroy that accursed mask!"

"Well said, Baron Zeppeli!" Dio called out, having leaped up behind Jonathan while he was distracted. Tossing another volley of knives, Jonathan was forced to bat them away with his hands, sustaining some damage in the process.

Almost on instinct and fueled by his rage, Jonathan's hate-fueled glare turned deadly, two beams of compressed fluid shooting from his eyes toward Dio. "What the devil?" he cried, twisting in midair to avoid one of the beams while taking the second in the shoulder.

Before the battle could proceed further, Erina appeared. She hadn't fully allowed herself to believe the things that had been said up until that point. Some small part of her hoped that they'd simply been confused and were on the trail of a different monster. Now, though, she had no choice but to believe.

"Jonathan," she said, fear, anguish, and many other emotions overtaking her.

With a single look, Jonathan suddenly felt shame greater than ever before. The two locked eyes briefly before he jumped backwards, disappearing into the shadows and escaping Zeppeli and Dio's assault.

Chapter Text

Jonathan had managed to escape the night before, the brief meeting sewing doubt within the ranks of the party. Both Speedwagon and Erina's resolve had been strengthened, seeing more than a mere flicker of their old friend within the vampire. Even the ardent Zeppeli was beginning to think that this man could be saved from himself without death, though how they could go about that was anyone's guess.

The only one who hadn't changed at all was Dio, a fact that made it increasingly clear that he may begin to pose problems at some point down the line. If anything, his desire to kill Jonathan had been amplified knowing that his brother's mind was still within its vessel.

Though their reasoning may differ, the group set out once again to find Jonathan. Being able to move during the day had its advantages, both Speedwagon and Dio having experience in hunting that benefited them in tracking where their target's location might be based on where they'd spotted him. While it was possible he would have simply moved after being found, he was also somewhat injured and might just as easily have stayed put to rest.

After many hours of searching, their most likely candidate was a large abandoned building near the heart of the city. Even in the fading sunlight it loomed like a crypt against the skyline, the surrounding construction acting like tombstones in a graveyard. It had to be where Jonathan was hiding for no other reason than the thematic appropriateness of it all.

"We should head back," Erina suggested as they stood outside its boarded windows and chained front door.

"Nonsense," Dio sneered. "If your cowardice has bested you, you're free to leave. I, on the other hand, intend to finish this as quickly as possible."

"Cowardice has nothing to do with it," she said, clearly insulted by the insinuation. "I'm simply not a fool who would try to pick a fight with a vampire right before sundown."

"And what if he were to escape as we leave for the day? It's quite possible he already knows we've found him." As he said that last bit, he turned his head towards a small gap between boards in an upper window, smiling viciously at anyone who might be watching them from inside.

"You both make excellent points," Zeppeli interjected to diffuse the situation, tapping his chin in consideration. "While it would be strategically advantageous to begin our assault during the day, I'm afraid we may have lost that chance simply by approaching. I must side with Dio."

He childishly turned up his nose at Erina. "Of course," he said knowingly.

"With that said," Zeppeli continued, "we may be able to avoid confrontation entirely if fortune favors us." He pointed to the sun. "There is at least ten minutes left before the sun sets below the buildings there. If we can draw Jonathan into the light by then, we'll have won."

Despite being the one to say this, he could no longer deny the small bit of hope building in his heart that that wouldn't be necessary. "We'll move now," he declared, the warriors began their assault.

Speedwagon used a sledgehammer to break through the locked door, allowing them access to the vampire's lair. Though the earlier comparison to a crypt still held due to the lifelessness of the place, its interior was anything but ghoulish. Someone had seemingly swept up the place within recent memory, not a single speck of dust or trash to be found in an otherwise dilapidated building. Though the actual decor was a bit sparse, its resident had apparently gone to the trouble of hanging plush red curtains behind the boarded windows – for what purpose, no one was entirely sure.

"Stay on guard," Zeppeli warned the group, though his casual consumption of a glass of wine seemed to run contrary to what he'd said. The aura of danger pervading the structure only seemed to grow stronger as the approached a set of stairs, practically oozing downward like a thick fog.

Zeppeli began the ascent, Erina following just behind while using her Hamon to detect anything within ten meters of herself. With a warning of the attack, even the swiftest vampire wouldn't be able to get the drop on them now.

"There's no need to creep about," a voice said from the room above. "If you're willing to talk, I see no reason for violence."

Though this would obviously be a trap in any other situation, the fact it was Jonathan Joestar calling out to them assured the party that they had nothing to fear from a sneak attack. When asked to confirm, Erina managed to expand her Hamon field just enough to detect him on the other side of the room and in no way ready for an ambush.

Heading up the stairs, they found this room to be nearly as empty as empty as the one below. The only thing that set it apart were two chairs (Jonathan occupying one of them), a desk in the corner covered in various instruments, and the wicked mask that started all of this hanging above one of them on the wall.

The baron clenched his fist at the sight of the thing, wanting nothing more than to destroy it that very moment. For the sake of diplomacy, though, he held back his fury. "You wish to talk with us?" he asked, resolving to give the vampire a single chance to convince him after noticing the wounds inflicted by Dio's Hamon had not been healed – a sign that he hadn't taken anyone's blood since they last encountered him.

He nodded. "I just want to tell you that I understand your aggression. If the situation were reversed, I have no doubt I'd be pursuing you just as you've done me. Which is why, against your better judgment, I ask that you cease your attack against me."

"And why would we do that?" Zeppeli asked. "Would it not be easier to simply overpower you now? We have you severely outnumbered and the time of day is our ally."

"And yet you've agreed to talk to me, which tells me there's hope of us coming to an understanding." He smiled, realizing his words were having an effect. "I do not mean for you to simply let me be. I only ask that you give me time to examine the stone mask. My goal is only to find a way to cure to myself."

"Do you think that's possible?" Speedwagon asked. "If there's even the slightest chance..." He looked to the baron, wishing for him to side with Jonathan.

"You speak with conviction," he replied. "I'm almost tempted to agree. As it so happens, we happen to have a lie detector in our party. If you'll allow Miss Pendleton to judge your words...I may allow this."

He nodded to Erina who stepped forward. Slowly, she began to approach the man, looking him over. He'd changed so much since they were children, but even without her abilities she could already tell so much had stayed the same. "Jonathan Joestar," she said, the slightest hint of affection in her words.

"Erina Pendleton," he replied, a deep sadness showing through his smile. "I wish our reunion could have been on better terms."

"As do I," she agreed, placing a hand on his chest. "JoJo, was what you said before true? Do you really mean no harm to humanity?"

"Yes," he replied. "As I said, I only wish to return to normal. If I must face justice for all I've done while in this cursed state, then so be it. I don't want to be a monster."

For the first time since beginning her Hamon training, something had truly taken even Erina's impressive breath away. Tears beginning to form in her eyes, she turned to the group. "He speaks the truth," she said, a wave of relief falling over all of them.

All of them, that is, except for Dio. "She lies," he sneered.

"You wretched..." Speedwagon clenched his fists before grabbing Dio by the collar. "What makes you think you can call her abilities into question? You're nothing but a common crook and a killer, not even fit to stand in the same room as Mr. Joestar!"

"Because," he said calmly, pushing away Speedwagon's arms. "It's just as the baron told us. Vampires have the ability to control the living." He pointed to Jonathan. "Isn't that right, JoJo?"

Zeppeli's blood ran cold. Normally, it would be impossible for a Hamon user to be controlled by a vampire, but if that user had lowered their guard for even a moment, it would no longer be quite so impossible. Had that really happened without his notice? Dishonest as he was, Dio had the eyes of the devil himself, keen enough to catch even the slightest disturbances.

"It's not true!" Erina shouted, Jonathan taking a step back as if to declare his innocence. "I'm perfectly in control of myself!"

"JoJo!" Dio shouted, readying his knives. "To think you'd fallen so far! Release her at once!"

"I've done no such thing!" he shouted.

"Don't listen, Baron Zeppeli!" Speedwagon shouted. "Dio is trying to trick you!"

"Baron, search your feelings!" Dio told him. "A vampire is a creature of pure evil! Is it truly more likely that JoJo has escaped that fate or that he has simply been manipulating these fools and their affection for him this entire time?"

Though it nearly caused him to waver, the baron was no fool. "I should have known," he said to himself. Whirling around, he delivered a crushing blow to Dio's throat. "Vampire or not, I choose to put my faith in the one known as Jonathan Joestar!"

As Dio spat blood into his hand, throat crushed to not allow him to create Hamon, the group approached him. "Dio, without a doubt, you are more evil than any vampire I've ever encountered. You take the guess of a mere man, but your true nature is plain to see by all."

Anyone who observed this situation from the outside couldn't be faulted for assuming Dio's plan had reached its end. His allies had turned on him, taking the side of the man he'd tried so desperately to kill. His only method of defense had been rendered useless by a swift attack from a more powerful foe.

All of this would true if Dio were an ordinary man. But, as anyone could tell you, Dio was far from ordinary. In fact, this was exactly what he'd wished to happen.

Appearing to scramble on the ground as his former allies moved closer, Dio suddenly gripped one of his knives. Tossing it just low enough that Zeppeli couldn't block it in time, he sent it flying towards Erina.

Despite her own ability to dodge or otherwise stop the attack, Jonathan's nature prevented him from simply standing by. He moved himself between her and the blade as it sailed into his gut, realizing too late that Dio had imbued it with Hamon by forcing out the last of his breath through his broken larynx.

As Jonathan wailed in pain, Dio made his move. The seconds ticking down, he channeled his college rugby experience to barrel through both Zeppeli and Speedwagon, making a dash for the mask. Jonathan could do nothing, doubled over in pain and blocking Erina's movements with his large frame.

They could do nothing but watch as Dio grabbed the stone mask from the wall, tackling through the weak wall of the building with all his might. Though he'd no doubt broken his shoulder, it wouldn't matter in a moment. Just as he'd planned, the sun had set.

He placed the mask on his face, what sounded like laughter croaking out of his mouth as he smeared his own blood onto the stone surface. Moments before he hit the ground, the fiendish machine activated.

Chapter Text

Zeppeli was the first to pursue, leaping from the building and onto the street. With darkness quickly overtaking the city, Dio would be able to move freely in short order. He had little time to catch him before the shadows of the buildings gave way to full night.

Erina helped Jonathan to his chair, pulling the knife from his stomach. "How can we help you?" she asked him, placing her hand gingerly against the side of his face.

"There's no need to worry about me," he told her, trying his hardest to keep a brave face. "Quickly, find Dio. He can't be allowed to escape." Seeing the look of hesitation on Erina's face, he nodded to her. "Go. I'll be fine. I've suffered far worse injuries than this."

As she made her exit, Jonathan turned his attention to Speedwagon. "This is my fault," he said. "I'm sorry I've allowed this to happen to all of you."

"You've done nothing but try to find a cure for your affliction," he replied. "It was Dio! He was tricking us this entire time! I knew we shouldn't have trusted him!"

"What's important now is stopping him." Jonathan tried to stand but fell back into his seat, gripping his stomach as the residual Hamon burned his skin. "It may take me some time to recover from this. Continue without me."

"I won't leave you behind!" Speedwagon shouted. Without warning, he rolled up his sleeve and presented his arm to Jonathan. "Here! If it will help you, I'll offer my blood without any hesitation!"

Stunned at the man's unwavering loyalty, Jonathan shook his head. "I refuse. Never again shall a drop of blood be spilled to slake my thirst. Thank you, Speedwagon, but we'll defeat Dio without resorting to that level." Inspired by Speedwagon's resolve, he summoned his strength and got to his feet. "Come, we haven't any time to waste!"

The two managed to find Erina after leaving the building, splitting up to cover more ground with the assumption that they'd still be close enough that the sounds of battle would call the others to Dio's location.

All four of them cursed how easily Dio had played the situation to his favor, especially given how little any of them trusted him to begin with. They also realized that, unless they could find a way to end this battle tonight, a vampire without Jonathan's moral code loose in London would mean disaster of the highest caliber.

Coincidentally, Dio was thinking something similar as he stalked the group from the shadows. He'd already fed himself on a number of people in his brief time as an undead being, making preparations for his own ending to their fight.

Divide and conquer was the name of the game and, to his amusement, the fools had already taken care of half of the equation for him. Unable to use Hamon, Speedwagon was the easy choice for a first target. He'd already beaten him as a normal human, so he wouldn't stand a chance now that he'd assumed a more powerful form.

Not even bothering with stealth once he had him isolated, Dio stepped out into his direct path. "You!" Speedwagon shouted, raising his sledgehammer. "So, you've shown yourself to me! Hamon or not, I'll make short work of you and end this nightmare."

This made him chuckle. "End me, you say?" He took a step forward. "I'd be interested in how you plan to do that."

"With this!" he shouted, swinging his hammer towards Dio. Amused, the vampire simply raised a hand to stop it, realizing too late that the weapon tore through his flesh with far less resistance than he would have imagined.

With a shriek, Dio leaped backwards across the street. Examining the stump, he noticed the familiar crackle of Hamon surging from the wound. "Surprised?" Speedwagon asked haughtily. "A gift from Ms. Pendleton. My metal hammer makes a great conductor, though it's not as strong as it would be coming from the source. But the little Hamon energy that it managed to hold over time will be more than enough to take care of you, monster!"

With a snarl, Dio produced one of his knives and launched it with the force of a ballista towards his enemy. Barely managing to raise his hammer to block, the weapon was shattered into pieces along with the blade, sending fragments of each into Speedwagon's torso and knocking him across the cobblestones.

"Do you understand the difference in our power now?" he asked, ripping off his forearm to stop the slow spread of Hamon up his body. "It will take some time for me to heal from that injury. As you die, I want you to know that each body I drain of life will be because of your foolishness."

Gritting his teeth as blood seeped from his wounds, Speedwagon could only stall for time in the hopes their yelling had made enough noise. "Then...then explain!" he shouted. "If I'm to die, then at least answer my question! Why have you done these things? The Joestar family treated you as their own, yet you took every opportunity you could to betray them!"

Dio shook his head, almost disappointed at how mundane that question was. "Someone as simple as you would never understand my ambition. I could explain, but I'd simply be wasting my time. I have far more entertaining things to do tonight."

Speedwagon's desperation was evident, a fact that made Dio all the more willing to suck him dry. Gripping him by the neck, he slid his fingers into his skin and began drinking his blood. He watched as his victim's eyes began to dart wildly around the street, the realization that no one was coming to save him beginning to set in.

Just as all hope seemed lost, a shrill scream rang out through London. It was random enough to give Dio pause as he looked around for the source. "I do hate being interrupted during my meals," he said, tossing Speedwagon to the ground. Though he wasn't exactly concerned with someone noticing him, it would simply be much easier to devour this city if the police weren't mobilized against him.

This scream turned out to be his saving grace, however, as Jonathan Joestar came roaring over the horizon diving headfirst at his brother. "Dio!" he yelled, the two clashing in a flurry of fists before knocking each other back. Not taking his eyes off Dio, Jonathan knelt down to cradle Speedwagon in his arms. "It's alright now," he told him. "I've made it here."

"Just in time," Speedwagon said. Though he'd lost some blood, it wasn't enough to put him at serious risk. He'd be out of the fight for the time being, though, Jonathan leaning him against a wall away from the main road the two vampires planned to battle in.

"Take your time clearing the trash," Dio said. "I'd like to have enough room to move about as I kill you."

"Why would you do this to yourself, Dio?" Jonathan asked, ignoring the mockery to try one last time to understand the man standing before him. "You've seen the monster I've become, yet you chose to do this to yourself. Why reject your humanity and doom yourself to a life of misery and darkness?"

This was apparently hilarious, Dio letting out a loud cackle in response. "JoJo, you're an utter fool. From the moment I laid eyes upon what you'd become – a beast equal parts terrible and beautiful, life eternal at the mere cost of human lives – I knew that I was destined to attain that power for myself. I will admit that Hamon is a powerful skill, but you've continually proven just how outclassed a pathetic human is against a vampire." Clenching his fist to flex his muscles, he laughed again. "And I can now prove the truth of this with my very own hands!"

"I won't allow you to take another life!" Jonathan told him, tossing the cape he'd been wearing into the wind.

"Then try to stop me, JoJo! I'll tear your worthless body apart limb by limb! A vampire who won't feed is little more than fodder for one who will!" On that word, the two clashed once more. No matter the victor, this would truly be the final battle between the two as well as the one that would decide the fate of humanity from this point forward.

Chapter Text

Two rays of compressed fluid shot from Jonathan's eyes, nicking Dio's left ear as he dodged to the side. This did little to stop his charge, though, as pain barely registered for either of them anymore.

Drawing on his past Hamon training, Dio forcefully dislocated his right shoulder to send a punch into the side of Jonathan's face. Not expecting a blow from such a distance, it struck him clean in the cheek and sent him into a wall. "Useless!" he cried as he jammed his arm back into place, pouncing towards his brother as he emerged from a pile of rubble.

While it was clear Dio's guile and ruthlessness far outclassed Jonathan's, the way he moved was evidence enough he was still adjusting to his immortality. That and the fact that he was currently missing a hand gave the Joestar a crucial opportunity to turn the tables even in his weakened state. Launching another pair of eye beams, he had to bet that his body could power through what he was about to do next.

Not even bothering to dodge, Dio took the blasts through the stomach and continued forward, the otherwise debilitating attack seeming like little more than shot from a water gun to his invulnerable body. Stabbing his fingers into Jonathan's neck and bearing down upon his legs with his own, he attempted to drink whatever blood might be inside him, silently wondering to himself about the ethics of vampiric cannibalism.

Though it was true he was trapped in this position, so was Dio after he wrapped his meaty hands around his arm. "Exactly as I thought you'd do!" Jonathan said, vaporizing the moisture within his own limbs and neck. The chill spread rapidly across Dio's arm, the blood inside freezing solid.

Dio let out a shriek as he attempted to free himself from Jonathan's iron grip. Even as a vampire himself, his brother was simply too strong. All his struggling managed to accomplished was ripping off his own skin that had stuck to the icy body parts.

While the pain was negligible at best, having his whole arm frozen solid and subsequently broken off would be rather inconvenient to say the least. In a fit of desperation, Dio slammed the side of his stump into Jonathan's head. Feeling the icy fingers loosen just a tad, he did it again, spurred on by the sound of skull cracking under his immense strength.

"Even if you crush my skull, I won't release my grip!" Jonathan yelled. Redoubling his efforts, he only held on tighter. This shattered a good deal of the muscles in Dio's arm, the limb almost entirely frozen through.

"Wretched fool!" he shouted in response, a hint of fear almost forming inside him as the frost moved closer to his shoulder. Cursing his own inexperience with these powers, Dio continued to beat Jonathan over the head with his arm, shifting his weight to further press down on his legs in the hopes of shattering his bones.

To his horror, however, Dio was forced to discover that their sharpened teeth weren't just for show. Blood sprayed from his arm as Jonathan sank his fangs into it, holding him in place from both sides. Locked into place and unable to do much of anything without further injuring himself, Dio was forced to call upon aid.

He'd hoped to have saved the zombies he'd created for another time, allowing them to spread through the city and feed on his behalf as he picked off the Hamon warriors, but Jonathan was proving to be too much trouble to handle along. Called to his position through mental commands, the shambling corpses of over two dozen Londoners began to flood the street.

"I'll admit you've taken me by surprise," Dio groaned. "But now you must ask yourself, JoJo: Will you sacrifice your friend in order to ensure my demise?"

Jonathan's rage only grew at this. Though it would mean freeing Dio, he had no choice but to save Speedwagon from the approaching zombies. Releasing his toothy grip on his brother's arm, he delivered a swift headbutt to the bridge of his nose. Ensuring his enemy was stunned, he tossed him to the side and rushed to his friend's aid.

"Back, monsters!" he commanded, chopping through one zombie's skull with his hand as he stood between the hoard and Speedwagon. "Not a single one of you shall lay a hand on this man!"

"Well said, Jonathan Joestar!" Almost half the zombies that had gathered to fight for Dio were cut down in that instant, discs of Hamon-impregnated wine tearing through their emaciated flesh. Baron Zeppeli gracefully descended from the rooftop he'd managed to jump to prior to his attack, seemingly waiting for just the right moment to make an appearance.

"I apologize for the wait," he said after taking a sip from the remaining wine in the glass between his fingers. "We'd gotten turned around on these twisting streets, so it took us a bit to make it here." The plurality of that statement didn't require much of an explanation, Erina deftly threading her silk rope around the necks of several zombies as she took to the battlefield, sending a blast of Hamon through all of them at once.

"You won't have to fight alone any longer," she said, reassuring Jonathan with a smile.

"Thank you," he said. "All of you." Though the damage across his body was beginning to add up, he was determined to hold himself together through sheer willpower alone if need be. He couldn't rest until Dio was defeated.

Dio himself used to commotion his zombies created to revitalize himself, feasting on the body of a man one of his minions had brought to him. "My thanks," he said to the creature, tossing the corpse aside and flexing his arm to shatter the frozen flesh and bone to allow new matter grew in its place. For good measure, he also tore off the zombie's forearm and fused it in the place of his missing hand.

"I'll tend to Speedwagon," Zeppeli said, using his Hamon to ease his ally's pain and help pull the shrapnel from his chest. "The both of you will have to occupy Dio until I can assist you."

"With pleasure," Erina said, gathering up her rope after finishing off the last zombie of the bunch.

"He won't escape us," Jonathan agreed, the two sharing a nod before charging forward. He threw a punch towards Dio's head with his right fist, the straightforward attack being caught with ease. This was to be expected, though, and merely an attempt to stop Dio's movements. "We have him!" he shouted.

Erina dove in next, wrapping her fist in her rope in preparation of sending an Overdrive straight into Dio's body. He caught her punch, as well, Hamon crackling as it began to pass up his arm. The vampire simply smiled, however, his arm taking on an icy appearance similar to Jonathan's from a moment again. "What?" she shouted as the bite of the cold began to affect her.

"If JoJo is capable of it, then so am I!" he shouted. He wouldn't allow himself to be surpassed by Jonathan in any way. Though his control was far from precise, it was more than sufficient to block the sun's energy passing through his enemy's attack.

Fortunately, Erina's quick thinking in using her rope to add extra heft to her fist allowed her to withdraw with only minimal damage, saving most of the skin on her knuckles and preventing the spread of frost up her arm. Her weapon was nearly frozen solid, though, making it difficult to use it for the time being.

Jonathan, though, was far less fortunate. With one hand free, Dio was able to deliver a swift jab into his unguarded right side. His ribs cracked from the force of a single blow, blood trickling from his mouth as the splintered bone stabbed his organs.

Though he attempted a counterattack, Dio merely ducked Jonathan's next punch while keeping a firm grip on his fist. Catching the planned knee to the face in his free hand, Dio pulled his brother forward by his hand before finally letting go and cocking his own arm back, unleashing a devastating blow straight to his solar plexus.

Jonathan went flying and smashed through the door to a closed barber shop, Erina putting aside her instinct to follow after and check his condition in order to grab a piece of wood out of the air. Filling it with Hamon, she hurled it towards Dio's head. While it was simple enough to stop the attack with an icy fist, it provided just enough of a distraction for the group's next action.

"Hamon Cutter!" Zeppeli yelled, Dio barely managing to evade most of the wine as it spiraled towards him. One of the blades was successful in cutting across his chest, the wound bubbling and sizzling as the Hamon tore apart a small portion of his flesh. Superficial as the wound was, it gave them hope that this fight could be won.

"Don't lose heart!" the baron told his comrades, Jonathan staggering out of the doorway to rejoin the Hamon warriors. "This monster can be defeated! Despite his claims, he's far from immortal!"

"Am I?" Dio asked smugly, ignoring the pain he felt to strike a mocking pose. "Then prove your claims, baron! Defeat the evil of the mask you loathe so!"

With a small chuckle, Zeppeli replied, "I'll do just that. I have family waiting for me to return to Italy. It wouldn't do to be felled by such a disgusting creature such as yourself and leave them behind."

With a terrifying, "Wry!" Dio tore apart his own tunic for seemingly no other reason besides intimidation. Tossing the last of his knives towards the group, Jonathan moved in front to bat them out of the sky, purposefully knocking one over his should for Erina to grab. Using his should as a step, she jumped into the sky and tossed the knife back towards Dio, naturally covering it with Hamon.

He merely turned his head to avoid the blade, though this proved to be a mistake. The second he looked back, Zeppeli had already closed the distance between the two, his fist traveling towards Dio's midsection. "Sunlight Yellow Overdrive!" he shouted, arm crackling in brilliant golden Hamon energy.

With both his hands, Dio caught the attack. It took all his vampiric strength to resist the blow, nullifying the Hamon with his ice. Though pleased at the look of pain upon his former master's face as his fist began to ice over, he realized he was still in quite a bit of danger as Erina delivered a flying kick into his right shoulder.

As glancing as this blow was, the Hamon stored within still blew apart a good chunk of flesh. Tossing Zeppeli forward by his hand, Dio kicked at Erina who barely crossed her arms over her chest in time to stop the attack from caving in her sternum.

They wouldn't let up, though. Even with both Hamon users thrown asunder by Dio, Jonathan still sent two eye beams through Dio's chest. Missing his heart by barely an inch, he kept up the attack and fired two more. These were dodged swiftly, their true purpose revealed as the meddling Speedwagon emerged from where he'd hidden himself away to drive one of Dio's discarded knives into his previously undamaged left arm.

Knocking the entirely ordinary human aside with the force of an elephant, he was immediately set upon by Jonathan who clotheslined him across the street. Dio's rage was building as he saw his enemies regroup once again, seemingly undeterred by their injuries and his obvious superiority. As his haughty veneer began to slip, Dio roared in fury as his eyes opened up to let loose the same attack Jonathan had been using just moments prior.

Dio's version was far less controlled, though it was difficult to tell whether this was the result of inexperience or sheer disdain for collateral damage. A continuous stream of the high pressure fluids cut through several builds and the stone streets below them as he swung his head in every direction. It was impossible to see while using the attack, but when everyone in the vicinity was his target, that didn't much matter.

Speedwagon was the first to succumb in the fight, one of the rays carving through his side like a hot knife in butter. Missing his most vital organs, the force of the beam sent him flailing into an alleyway clutching his bleeding injury. The others were barely managing to avoid the erratic attack themselves even with their enhanced agility.

Jonathan did the only thing he could think to do and used his own ocular attack. Ripping through Dio's left hand, his brother's gaze immediately snapped towards him, taking out a piece of Jonathan's shoulder before their beams met. Neither able to overcome the other, the attacks finally petering out after a few seconds with both rendered momentarily blind while their eyes refilled with fluid.

This proved to be of little use as Zeppeli's next Overdrive was deftly avoided by sound alone, Dio backflipping over the baron's strike from behind. A single second was all it took to remove him from the battle, as well, the vampire's sight restored mid-flight. The moment it was, he sent two more beams of fluid towards the baron, striking him in the back and severing his spine at the base.

His comrades could only watch in horror as the most capable among them crumpled to the ground, no longer able to stand against the monstrous Dio. Noting their shocked silence, he took the opportunity to gloat. "Do you see now? Nothing you do can possibly hope to defeat me, Dio. You're little more than ants struggling against a lion!"

"M-monster!" an unfamiliar voice said from behind him. Their attention turned to a pair of police officers who'd come to investigate the sounds of conflict and bright lights firing into the sky. As most would do after seeing a man leap well over ten feet into the air and paralyze someone with laser eyes, they began unloading their weapons into his flesh.

"Perfect," Dio mused to himself. "A light snack to help restore my energy."

"I won't allow you to-" Jonathan's attempted strike on Dio while his back was turned proved futile, his brother sending a kick behind himself directly into Jonathan's heavily damaged side without even bothering to look at him. As he fell to the ground beside Zeppeli, he could only watch in anguish as the hapless officers were drained of blood.

Slowly getting to his feet, Jonathan locked eyes with Erina. Both were running on fumes by now, the former unable to even produce another eye beam while the latter had the energy for one more burst of Hamon left inside her. Still, they weren't ready to give in just yet. They'd fight until their dying breaths to defeat Dio.

Using a variation of his hypnotic abilities completely on instinct, Jonathan telepathically shared his plans for a final attack on Dio. Erina's eyes went wide as she realized what he planned to do. While her heart fought against this action, she knew it was the only option left to them. Gritting her teeth and silently praying to whatever God may be listening, she gave a nod to signal her agreement.

"Now, where were we?" Dio asked after crushing the heads of both his meals. No sooner had he turned around did he see Jonathan attempt to shove his fingers into his throat. Overconfident as he was, he allowed this to happen, icing over the wound and his brother's hand before anything vital could be touched. "Did you truly expect this to work?" he asked with a chuckle. "Were you planning to drink my blood to restore your own strength? Pathetic."

Gripping the sides of Jonathan's head, he began to squeeze. "JoJo, this will be where it ends. I'll pop your head like a grape, then finish off the rest of the scum you've chosen to ally with. You will die knowing you have failed to stop me." With a smirk, he added, "Though if it's any consolation, I suppose I'll acknowledge you as a worth opponent."

"I wasn't..." he murmured, his skull beginning to give way to Dio's strength despite doing his best to stop it with only one free hand.

"Speak up, JoJo!" Dio commanded. "I want to clearly hear your dying gasps!"

"I wasn't trying to drink your blood," he said, eyes burning bright with determination.

Though he refused to lessen his power, Dio's interest was piqued by this admission. "Then what did you hope to accomplish?" he asked, eyebrow raised.

"This!" Erina called to him. In a flash, Dio's eye moved down Jonathan's arm to a small loop of white silk tied around his bicep. Traveling down the length of the rope, he spotted both Erina and Zeppeli holding the other end. With a look of terror and fury, he realized exactly what they planned to do.

"Overdrive!" the two shouted. Pouring every last bit of Hamon into this attack, a massive wave of solar energy traveled up the rope. With all his strength, the vampire Joestar cut through his own arm just as the attack reached it, breaking free of Dio's grip and falling backwards.

No amount of freezing could prevent this much energy from entering Dio's body, the ice surrounding the fingers in his neck shattering as the Hamon blasted its way across the severed arm. "Impossible!" he shouted, this being the only thing he could think to say in this instance. Soon, he wouldn't be thinking anything, however, the attack carving its way upwards towards his brain. "This can't be!" he screeched. "!"

In an instant, it was all over. With a bang, Dio's head was blown apart on his shoulders, neck still crackling and melting away from the Hamon coursing through his body. The four remaining warriors were too stunned to speak, disbelieving of their own success.

No matter how they looked at it, though, they had won. Dio Brando was defeated.

Chapter Text

The four remained silent for what felt like hours, simply unable to process what had just happened. Speedwagon was the first to react, releasing a primal scream and pounding his fist against the ground. "We...we've won!"

Releasing a collective sigh, Erina dropped to her knees, tears of relief flowing freely knowing that evil man was finally gone from the world. Despite his debilitating injuries, Zeppeli couldn't help but laugh, finally putting an end to the stone mask's evil influence.

Gripping the bleeding stump where his arm had once been, Jonathan also shed tears. Not of relief but of sadness. Despite everything, he couldn't find it in his heart to truly hate Dio. He didn't regret his actions, of course, but the fact that those actions were necessary to begin with filled him with a deep sorrow. With a silent prayer, he hoped his brother could somehow find peace now that he had left the living world for good.

"The mask is here," Erina said, finding the cursed object on Dio's corpse.

"Destroy that thing once and for all!" Speedwagon exclaimed, helped along by Jonathan despite the latter's lack of an arm.

"But if we do that, then JoJo..."

"She's correct," Zeppeli said from his seated position against a ruined storefront. "Jonathan Joestar, do you believe there's a way to return yourself to human form by studying the mask? If you say yes, I'll allow you to take it into your care for as long as needed."

With a sigh, he shook his head. "It's not impossible, but I fear this affliction is permanent. Even if I were to find some cure, my body is damaged beyond the point of recovery. Unless I were to consume the blood of the living, I'd simply die once returning to my true form."

"There must be a way!" Speedwagon said. "Mr. Joestar, I beg you to take my blood! Some or all, I'll give whatever is needed to help you! Body and soul, I've sworn to assist you however I can!"

Jonathan smiled, still refusing. "I cannot take from you. You're much too loyal and good a friend, Speedwagon." Looking to Erina and feeling the weight of her hopeful eyes upon him, he forced himself to make a decision. "In the end...I believe it to be best if I die alongside Dio."

"But there's no need!" Erina told him. "You've more than proven yourself as the just man we knew you were! We'll protect you from anyone who might wish to harm you, as well!"

"She's correct," Zeppeli said. "Jonathan Joestar, you've managed to resist the temptations of the stone mask and retain your humanity against all odds. If ever there was a man deserving of another chance at life, it would be you."

"We can even find a way for you to sate your hunger without killing!" Speedwagon added. "Please, we beg you to reconsider!"

He simply shook his head. "No, I believe my time has come. What kind of life can I lead lurking in the shadows? I couldn't bear the thought of dragging you three, my true companions, down into that abyss with me. More than that, I've committed too many sins to be allowed to continue on. Whether you blame Dio's manipulation or the mask's influence, my actions were still my own and I must face the consequences."

Holding back her tears, Erina made one last plea. "Then...if you've decided...allow us to see you off in the proper fashion befitting a gentleman!" Jonathan blinked, unsure of what she meant. "Let us all take time to recover from our injuries. After that, we'll be by your side as you meet your end."

Sighing, Jonathan couldn't help but smile at her dedication. "In truth, I'd have hoped you all would do me that courtesy, but I didn't wish to ask. Is this truly what you want?"

"Of course," Zeppeli said.

"Undoubtedly!" Speedwagon agreed.

"Then I suppose that settles that." He nodded. "Thank you for everything, my friends."

A week passed. Jonathan's injuries, while far from regenerated, had managed to close themselves well enough despite his lack of blood. Erina, Speedwagon, and Zeppeli had had their wounds treated at a nearby hospital, having to fight for such an early release despite still being in somewhat poor condition. They knew they couldn't afford to wait for too long, though, as Jonathan's hunger would only be suppressed for so long.

They met at the Joestar mansion an hour before dawn. Speedwagon assisted Zeppeli, wheeling him up to the front doors in his chair. Erina was the one to answer after a knock, having arrived a day before the rest, wishing to make up for all the lost time between herself and Jonathan over all these years.

"Is it difficult to get around?" Jonathan asked, pouring his companions cups of tea with his single arm.

"He's adjusting quite well from what I've seen," Speedwagon said. "And yet he still makes me move him from place to place."

"Respect for your elders, Speedwagon. If you cannot master Hamon, you can at least master etiquette."

Erina nodded. "A man such as yourself should be more than happy to help those in need."

Grumbling, Speedwagon drank his tea. "I'm only trying to help you be self-sufficient. You can't expect me to travel to Italy just to push you around."

"I'm sure Italy is wonderful this time of year," Jonathan said with a smile despite never being able to confirm this form himself.

"That's hardly the point!" he protested. "Enough with the lot of you! Your nonsense is spoiling the tea!"

"That might just be the tea itself," Erina said.

"Yes, what exactly is this blend?" Zeppeli asked. "It's rather ghastly."

Jonathan chuckled. "It seems Dio purchased a different brand while we were away. He always did despise the kind my father and I preferred."

The four continued to chat about pointless things such as this, none wishing to think about what would happen in such a short amount of time. In what felt like mere minutes, a clock could be heard chiming, the sun nearly ready to rise.

Heading outside, they faced the horizon without fear. "This is it," Speedwagon said, voice low to try and hide his sadness.

"It's been an honor fighting by your side, JoJo," Baron Zeppeli told him, shaking his hand one last time.

"Thank you all for everything you've done," he replied, looking over the faces of his friends. He lingered a moment longer on Erina, the two reaching out to hold the other's hand almost as if it was an instinct. "There's little time left."

"Enough time to reconsider," she said, trying one last time to make him change his mind. He shook his head though. "I thought not." As she said this, the first beams of light appeared over the treeline. Jonathan winced as they touched his skin, his flesh beginning to burn. "It's going to be alright," she said in a sweet tone as she held back her tears once more. "We're here with you."

With a smile, he nodded. Taking one last look at all of them, Jonathan felt at peace. "Thank you," he repeated. He could feel himself begin to fall apart. Despite the pain, he tried to put on a brave face, though it was clear this was far more excruciating than he would have hoped.

Placing a hand upon his cheek, Erina stood on her toes to plant a kiss upon his lips, breathing some of her Hamon into his body. "To ease the pain," she said, hoping that it would help to numb the feeling of the sun at least a bit. The two shared one last smile as the sun finally emerged. Jonathan Joestar was no more.

Though there was no body, Jonathan's clothes were buried beside his parents. This was the same situation for Dio, having what was left of him placed in an unmarked grave beside his father; both the bare minimum of respect and a fitting end for someone like him.

With the death of both Dio and Jonathan, there was no longer anyone left to lay claim to the Joestar fortune. To everyone's shock, however, Jonathan's will – fully notarized and officiated – listed Erina as the one who should take his share of inheritance should he pass before his time. Whether this was made before or after he became a vampire could not be determined.

Regardless, this was seen as a binding document despite the circumstances, the Pendleton family moving into the mansion shortly after. Erina thanked Jonathan every day for this gift, as well as the gift of their child born nine months after the night they shared together before his death.

Zeppeli returned to his home in Italy, reuniting with his wife and son after finally destroying the stone mask he hated so much. For the first time since that fateful day at sea, he felt as if his life could truly begin. No longer was his every moment obsessed with eradicating the evil of the vampires from the world. He could now be a simple husband and father as he, in truth, always wanted to be.

Speedwagon, too, eventually left England on a trip to America. With Jonathan gone and his former life as a thug in Ogre Street no longer feeling like a fit, he took to traveling in order to find a new purpose. After a near-fatal mishap in the Texas dessert, he found himself a millionaire upon striking oil. Inspired by the memory of his old friend, he set about creating the Speedwagon Foundation to ensure there would always be good men to fight the evils of the world.

The three stayed in touch frequently over the years, their experiences having bonded them in ways much like soldiers in a war. All of them held the memory of Jonathan Joestar near to their hearts, never forgetting him for as long as they lived.

Chapter Text

Interview with Jeremy Struthers (Jonathan Joestar) and Marianne Windsor (Erina Pendleton)

Returning to your roles all these years later, how does it feel to be back on stage as your iconic characters?

Jeremy Struthers: I love it! Jonathan was the role that got me my start in acting, so it feels like I'm meeting an old friend coming back after all this time.

Marianne Windsor: I was so excited when I heard the news, too! Erina was one of my first roles, as well.

How did you feel about the new direction this adaption took?

JS: I was a bit nervous at first. (laughs) Jonathan was always such a good and noble hero, so I was worried they might completely change him to act as the villain. I'm happy with how things turned out, though.

MW: For me, I was excited. I was able to really show off my range as Erina in a way I couldn't in the original. I tried incorporating a little bit of that fire and seriousness Mina (Abernathy, the actress who played an elderly Erina in Battle Tendency) brought to the character for her turn.

JS: I'd noticed that! You always seemed to steal the show whenever we were on screen together. I was really impressed with how Erina would take charge.

In the original version, Jonathan and Erina were lovers, but now they're enemies. How did that feel when you were first given the script?

JS: Worried, I think. I know a lot of fans – even myself – are really attached to the two of them as a couple, so changing such a big piece of the history could have been very challenging. Sorry, it probably sounds like I feel negative towards the production, but that's not true. It was just a lot of changes, and I'm very happy we could make such an interesting story with them.

MW: I think it's the same for me. It might sound silly, but I almost felt like crying. Jonathan and Erina's love always felt so genuine, and I think a lot of that was because of how sweet Jeremy is in real life. It was a shame we didn't have more scenes together before.

JS: I'm just happy they got a somewhat happy ending, even in this version.

MW: Yes, exactly!

You've both worked together in other things since you originally took the roles of Jonathan and Erina. Do you think that experience helped you in those other roles?

MW: Absolutely! I'm always happy when I see the cast list and Jeremy's name is next to mine. It makes it so easy to get into the character, too, since we're so often cast opposite each other. It feels natural.

JS: That's what I think, too. I don't think my performance in those features would be nearly as good is Marianne wasn't with me. She always challenges me as an actor and I end up discovering a new side to my character I don't think I'd be able to see otherwise.

Do you think that relationship helped you with returning to Jonathan and Erina, too?

JS: Of course. We get to examine both characters a lot more in this adaption, so it was a relief that every member of the cast was able to return to their roles, especially Marianne. I'm not sure I'd be able to play Jonathan with anyone else as Erina.

MW: That's how I feel. You're the only Jonathan I can accept. (laughs) I think playing opposite definitely helped me explore Erina on a deeper level. I'd be able to ask myself, "How would Erina feel about this?" and I could find a more believable answer because Jeremy was there.

Speaking of relationships, do you have any comments about the rumors about you two?

MW: Not true! (laughs)

JS: No, no. We're just good friends.

MW: Everyone always gets the wrong idea since we're cast as a couple so often. Not that that would be a bad thing.

JS: (laughs)

That's about all we have time for. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the fans before we go?

Both: We hope you enjoy the film!

Interview Reginald Fairbrooks III (Dio Brando)

How does it feel to play Dio again?

Reginald Fairbrooks III: By this point, it's almost as natural as being myself. I've reprised Dio in so many adaptions, I'd have to think I know him inside and out by now.

Speaking of other adaptions, how has Dio's evolution as a character in later stories influenced your portrayal this time?

RF: That's a good question. In general, I feel like this Dio at this point in his life is less...mature. It's refreshing, sort of, since the Dio I'm most used to playing is closer to the one from the third part, Stardust Crusaders. Seeing Dio before he managed to gain the power he had and maturing as a result is almost like a different character entirely.

How does it feel like working with all your old costars again?

RF: Would it be gauche to say it's like a family reunion? Having everyone back together was such a nice experience, though. I've worked with many of them in other productions, but everyone coming back like this was a pleasant surprise, and I think it made the production all the better because of it.

Compared to how you originally approached Dio, what's changed about your portrayal?

RF: My confidence, if I'm being honest. I was a veteran actor by the time I was cast in Phantom Blood, but I was still fairly nervous about how bold the character was and if I was able to do him justice. Now, though, I've more than gotten a handle on Dio's psychology, so I don't have to doubt myself.

What did you think when you heard Dio would be the hero of this story?

RF: That's impossible! (laughs) Really, I was surprised. I wasn't sure how it could be done in a way that didn't feel unfaithful to the character, but I'm impressed with how well it was handled. If I'm honest, I am a little disappointed we didn't get a truly heroic Dio, but that might be a step too far. (laughs)

How do you feel about the way Jonathan and Dio's relationship has changed?

RF: It was interesting. We crafted a story where Dio held all the cards for most of the story, so I liked seeing how that changed the way they interacted, especially after the beginning. Jeremy (Struthers) has such a masterful grasp on his character that it took me by surprise when he could pull off being a vampire. I had to think to myself, "Is this what it's like working with me?" (laughs) Mostly, I enjoyed the ways in which things stayed the same. Even when their situations are reversed, Jonathan and Dio still have their rivalry all the same.

Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans before we go?

RF: Thank you for your support all these years. I hope you enjoy Dio in this new adventure.

Interview with Robert Morrison (Will A. Zeppeli) and Keith Armstrong (Robert E.O. Speedwagon)

How does it feel to reprise such iconic characters?

Keith Armstrong: Fantastic! Speedwagon is one of my favorite roles of all time. I dropped everything just so I could come back to him one more time.

Robert Morrison: I'd say...nostalgic, but also exciting. The baron was a rather interesting character when I played him the first time, so getting to explore him more and watch him grapple with such an alien situation was a rewarding experience.

What's changed about the way you portray these characters after so long?

KA: Not too much, but also a fair amount. I would say the core of Speedwagon's character is still there, but the way he's focused on more in this adaption means I could bring a new side to him we never saw before.

RM: I feel somewhat the same. Baron Zeppeli is so iconic in how he acts, so I couldn't change much. Still, having him face off against Jonathan and ally with Dio made for a rather interesting dichotomy with the other characters.

Speaking of Jonathan, how did it feel to have to fight your best friend?

KA: I always believed in him! (laughs) Even before I finished the script, I knew there had to be a way to redeem Mr. Joestar's character, especially with how evil Dio was even as a protagonist.

RM: It's true. I loved how much respect and admiration the baron had for Jonathan even as a vampire. It felt very genuine that, even as something he hates most of all, he couldn't help but respect Jonathan in the end.

Did you have any trouble getting back into your characters after being away so long?

RM: It was the breathing.

KA: You were always having to practice that. (laughs)

RM: It sounds strange, but the first thing I forgot after the original wrapped was that breathing technique. It took me nearly a month to remember it again. I had to keep apologizing for making them film around it until I felt I was ready.

KA: I don't think I had much difficult, mostly because I've kept the character of Speedwagon so close to my heart all these years. I'm usually cast as the loyal friend character in other works, so I try to bring a little Speedwagon to each character I play.

How does it feel to be working with all the old cast members?

KA: I couldn't be happier! Jeremy (Struthers) and I stayed friends after things wrapped before, so I hope that shows through on screen.

RM: It was a real treat to work with all of them again. I've been retired for a few years now, but I knew I had to make the exception when I heard they were reviving the series for this new adaption. It was as much fun as I remember it being last time.

What did you think of the changes they made to the story compared to the original adaption?

KA: Well, it was in two parts. The first was, "Speedwagon seems so important in this one!" and the second was, "But how could they make Mr. Joestar a vampire?" In the end, I thought it was a really interesting way to take the story.

RM: I agree. I especially enjoy the nods to Baron Zeppeli's family. I wished I'd known about that detail during the original filming, so having it worked into the story here was a nice way to help flesh out his character a bit more.

Before time is up, is there anything else you'd like to say to the fans?

KA: The ever-lovable Speedwagon wants you to see this movie!

RM: I hope you enjoy the film. It's got a special place in all our hearts.