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Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Wayward Baby

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Friday, July 24th 2009

New York City

 

Mr. Robert Wells slowly walked down the bustling sidewalk of Brooklyn. He kept to himself, trying not to bother anybody as he trekked through the city. He was seventy-three years old, and could only walk with the assistance of a cane. Even still, his mobility was very limited. He eventually reached his destination, entering Starbucks with a smile on his face. After waiting in line, he ordered his beverage. Everything was right in the world. He got his drink, turned, and began walking to the door. Unfortunately, his pleasant day was about to take a turn. Busy blowing on his drink, he didn’t look at where he was going. Robert collided with a very large man, spilling his iced coffee all over the stranger. 

“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry!” Robert apologized, pulling back and looking at the man’s shirt. 

The large man shouted in retaliation. “Jesus Christ, old man! You ruined my shirt! And you could’ve burned the hell out of me too! What the fuck’s your problem?” 

Robert trembled a bit at the intensity of the man yelling at him. “I’m sorry, it was an honest mistake.” 

“Do you even realize who I am?” The (apparently important) man demanded. “My name’s Marcus Stewart. I work for Governor Paterson. This shirt cost over a hundred bucks, and you’re going to pay for it, shithead.” 

Robert Wells was not a wealthy man. He got by from his monthly social security checks, as millions of retired Americans do. Because of that, he didn’t have one-hundred dollars on hand. He stammered a bit nervously. 

“I’m- I’m sorry, Sir. But I honestly don’t have that kind of money.” He pleaded. 

Marcus growled, grabbing Robert by the collar of his shirt and pulling him closer. This caused the old man to drop his cane, stammering in a panic. 

“You shouldn’t go outside if you’re not ready for the consequences, geezer. You spilled my fucking drink, and now you’re gonna pay one way or another.” He balled a fist, glaring at Robert. 

Hey. ” A small, unassuming voice growled from behind the two men. It was an odd sound, to be sure. The tone had more venom than a python, and growled like a lion. But the actual voice was like a little flute. “Put the nice man down. Now.” 

Marcus let go of Robert, turning to face his unknown critic. For a moment, he couldn’t even see her. Then, he looked down at the tiny Japanese girl before him. She stood more than a foot smaller than him with shoulder-length hair and balled fists. She wore a white shirt with red designs, and a red collar. A rose was pinned to her shirt over her heart, and it all tucked into a maroon skirt. She wore white thigh-high socks, and black flats. Needless to say, she was adorable. Marcus couldn’t help but laugh. 

“I’m sorry, were you talking to me, squirt?” He gestured to himself. 

Something about the girl’s face was unsettling. The way her nose wrinkled in a snarl was unlike any expression Robert had seen on a child. She was truly, terribly angry. She spoke in the same growl as before. 

“Is anyone else threatening grandpas?” She questioned, glaring up at him. 

Marcus just laughed even harder, throwing his head back. “Holy shit, kid! You’re hilarious!” He snickered, waving a dismissive hand. “Now get lost, the grownups are talking.” 

The child didn’t flinch. “How are you going to hit him without a fist?” She questioned. 

Marcus raised a brow, skeptically looking down at his hand. A shrill, terrified scream filled the coffee shop when he saw his hand. Or rather, when he didn’t see his hand. The sleeve just seemed to end, his wrist leading into thin air. 

 

“What the hell!?! Where’s my hand? What did you do?” He shouted, catching everyone’s attention. People were staring, and a couple of them even got out their phones to record. 

The little girl just tilted her head. “What did I do? I didn’t do anything. Your hand’s fine.” She shrugged. 

It was true. Everyone else could see his hand. Still, he waved it around in a blind panic. Soon, he found the sense to feel his hand with his other, confirming that it was still there. “How did you do this, you little punk? I’m gonna call the cops!” He shouted, frothing at the mouth in pure rage. 

“Where’s your phone, Mister?” She asked innocently, tilting her head once more. 

Marcus’s heart dropped, and he reached into his pocket. Once again, he could not see his phone. He could feel it in his visible hand, but he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t see the screen, and he couldn’t make a call. He stumbled back, panting and sweating. Everyone watched in fascination as a grown man seemed to have a mental breakdown in the middle of a Starbucks. He pointed at the girl, fear obvious in his eyes. 

“S-Stop! Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it! ” He screamed. 

“Do you understand what it’s like to be afraid of someone bigger than you now?” The tiny girl asked, taking a step toward him.

He shrieked, backing away once more. “ Stay away from me! I’ll go! I’ll go! Just leave me alone!” He pleaded. 

Silence filled the room. Everyone was oddly invested in the scene before them. Even the adults looked to the child with a strange level of respect. The composure she maintained throughout the entire thing, the fear Marcus held for her, and the apathetic look on her face just painted the picture of someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Everyone waited with baited breath for her response. 

She shrugged, gesturing toward the door. “Then beat it.” 

She didn’t need to tell Marcus twice. He sprinted out, running as fast as he could down the sidewalk and out of sight. The spell was then broken and everyone returned to their conversations, gossiping about the events that just transpired with hushed voices. After about thirty seconds, a concerned woman approached the child. 

“Honey, are you okay? That man was screaming at you.” The stranger said, resting a hand on her shoulder. 

“I’m okay Ma’am. But thanks.” She smiled, looking over to Robert. “I’m sorry about your coffee. That really sucks. Mind if I buy you a new one?” 

 

Later, the little girl walked with the old man down the sidewalk. She had a carrying container with three drinks, and Robert held a new coffee. 

“Thank you, young lady.” Robert smiled, walking beside his new friend. 

She looked up at him with curiosity. “For what?”

“Don’t be coy. I’m old enough to know that there are things in this world I don’t understand. What I know for certain is that you stood up for me in there, and you scared the creeps out of that hot head.” He took a sip of his drink.

She smiled, looking down at the sidewalk. “Nobody should treat the elderly like that. It just gets me so mad, I can’t handle it. At least I didn’t hit anyone this time. My Mom would kill me.” 

Robert let out a hearty laugh. “It’s just rare to see a bit of respect from your generation, kid. Why’d you get three drinks?”

She lifted the carrier up a bit, steadying her grip. “Well, the tea’s for my Mom. The black coffee is for Dad, and the hot chocolate for me.” She pointed to each cup in turn while explaining.

“And you walked here just to get that for them?” 

“I always get everyone drinks after lunch. It’s kinda like, my thing.” She shrugged.

He shook his head. “Your parents are lucky to have such a good daughter. What’s your name, anyway?”

She smiled, extending a hand which the old man gladly took. “Joestar. Shizuka Joestar. You can call me Jojo.” 

 

Saturday, July 25th 2009

Joestar Residence, New York City USA

 

It was another uneventful night in the Joestar residence. Ink Spot’s “If I Didn’t Care” played quietly in the corner on Suzie Q's old record player. She regularly queued up a classic record after dinner. It was essential to the post-meal atmosphere. Rain droplets trickled down the floor to ceiling windows overlooking a busy New York, and the constant city sounds managed to pierce both the thick glass as well as the music. The room had an orange tint to it due to the beaming overhead lights. They reflected off the African rosewood floors brilliantly, and added a small glare to the windows.

Shizuka was sprawled across one of the living room sofas. Her fingers apathetically tapped away at the screen of her blackberry as she whistled along with Bill Kenny. Her eyes drifted over to the elevator as the bell dinged. When it opened it revealed Joseph Joestar, leaning with one hand against the elevator’s wall and the other shaking against his cane.

Shizuka rolled off the couch, tossing her phone onto the cushion as she approached the elevator. “Hey, Dad.” She smiled, putting herself underneath his extended arm and supporting him.

He leaned against her, being careful not to apply too much weight to the little girl. He was an enormous man, after all, standing at 6’5. Even while slouching with age, he still towered over his adoptive daughter. She was scrawny, and tiny. Even though she was ten, she was still only 4’3 weighing in at 68 lbs. Despite this, she was always adamant about helping her old man around the apartment. He was a birthday shy of ninety years old, after all. It was ridiculous that he still went for nightly walks. The kid had to admit, though, he had killer calves. 

Joseph let out a heave, walking directly for the couch. “Thank you, Shizuka…” 

Shizuka helped her father sit down once they made it over half a minute later, swiping her phone from underneath his butt in the knick of time. When he was settled- and about done groaning about his back- Shizuka sat down on the floor in front of him. Her legs were extended, curving to face one another at the ends. She placed the palms of her hands on the floor between them, smiling up at her old man. 

“So, how was your walk?” She asked, humoring him. She swore, half the reason he went on those walks was so he could tell her about his travels. 

Joseph let out a hearty chuckle, patting his lap. He rubbed his gloved hands together. “So eager, aren’t you? Well… I managed to make it to the candy store this time. Who wants a snickers?” He carefully pulled the candy bar from his sleeve, having hidden it from her until the perfect moment. 

She couldn’t help but smile. It was always the same. For as long as she could remember, he’d bring her candy after dinner. It was earth-shattering when she was younger. Honestly, she’d look forward to it all day. But lately she just accepted it to humor him. She wouldn't disappoint her father after all the effort he put into getting the treat. Besides, adults deserve treats too. He viewed the act of sharing candy as his own personal treat. She didn’t want to take that from him. She accepted the candy, tossing it down the hatch and looking up at him as she chewed. After a moment, she flashed a chocolate-filled smile. He laughed fondly, running a hand through her shoulder-length hair. His cybernetic fingers clicked quietly as their joints moved. He’d have to oil them before bed. 

“OK.” He clapped. “So you wanna know how my walk went? Let me tell you, it was a time. I had to fight off some thugs. They were intimidated by my charm, afraid I’d steal their women if I ever met them.” He grinned ear to ear. 

Shizuka giggled, wrinkling her nose. “ Riiiiight.” She patted the floor absentmindedly. “Is that why I had to help you to the couch? You used up all your strength on those punks?” 

Joseph feigned ignorance. “Excuse me? I’m pretty sure I helped you to the couch. You’re so small. A gust of wind could whisk you away like a little leaf. You can thank me later.” 

She just groaned, unable to win against her father in the ancient art of bullshit. “Okay, you got me. Thank you for your consideration in helping your poor tiny daughter. So what else happened on your walk?” 

The old man chuckled as he remembered another detail. “I stopped in the lobby and let the manager know that a very special little girl’s birthday is coming up tomorrow.” 

Shizuku looked up in thought. “But Mom’s birthday isn’t for another month?” After another moment of thinking she raised her hands in confusion. 

“Very funny. It’s your gotcha day. I know you don’t like me calling it your birthday. But we don’t really know your birthday, and your mother loves cake. We had to settle on something.” 

At the mentioning of her adoption, Shizuka felt a pit grow in her stomach. She instinctively sucked in her bottom lip, her hands balling into fists on the wood floor. She looked for the right words to vocalize how she’d been feeling for ages. “Y’know, about that.” She mumbled, looking down at the floor. 

The old man raised a brow. He might have been on the verge of senility, but he still had his astute observational skills. “Shizuka… I know this gotcha day is a big one. It’s been ten years. You’ve grown into a young woman. Not the baby we had to tie a bell to all those years ago. Is there something you’ve been meaning to ask?” 

She felt sweat growing on her back as she searched for words. “Yes, actually. Um, I-” She sighed. “I’m ten. I think- I think I deserve to know the real story. The story of how you got me.” She looked up at him with serious eyes. 

Joseph paused. He’d feared this question for quite a while. He knew that someday his daughter would want answers. Answers he didn’t have. “Shizuka, darling, there is no real story. Your brother and I really found you in the streets of Morioh. I was visiting and we went for a walk. I found you with my Hermit Purple.”

This caused the young girl to groan in irritation. “C’mon, Dad! You just found a baby crawling around? Invisible? There has to be more! Something you’re not telling me because I’m little. But I’m big enough to take it! I’m big enough to know! Did-” She hitched her breath for a moment, losing confidence in her next question. “Did something bad happen to my parents? My old parents? Something violent?” 

Joseph deliberated on the question for quite some time. In fact, he thought on it for so long that he had to force himself back to reality. Finally, he decided on something and spoke. “We like to think your biological parents are okay. The chances are they just lost you… well, It would be quite easy. Especially if they didn’t know about your Stand.” 

“But I’ve thought of that! ” Shizuka protested, getting frustrated. “What are the chances that I’d just go invisible while they had me outside? I turned invisible when I was scared! They should have been holding me! Or I should have turned invisible in the house! Or my crib! They could have found me by my cries! And if that’s the case, they’d know that I could do that! If they knew, they’d be careful, just like you and Mom were! I know I’m special but the bell worked. And what are the chances I’d go invisible for the very first time while I was on the ground alone and in the outdoors?” She blurted out all at once, taking a moment afterwards to regain her breath. 

Joseph thought for a moment. “Those are good points.” He mumbled. “I guess we just wanted to believe they were looking. The alternatives are… Upsetting.” 

“Well I’m upset!” The young girl stood up, at eye-level with her sitting father. “What if they were looking for me? What if they’re still looking? What if they died? I deserve to know.”  she crossed her arms. 

Joseph frowned, furrowing his brow. “We have no way to know. I just don’t think we could find out. Sure, we could run maternity tests, but we wouldn’t have access to their samples. Not unless their DNA was in some sort of criminal database. Otherwise, we’d have to swab every citizen of Morioh. It’s just not realistic.” He sighed.

“Dad.” She said dryly. “Can’t you use Hermit Purple?” 

“We tried that before, but there was so much dangerous activity in Morioh at the time, it clouded my perception. I couldn’t get any results.”

“But what about now? What if you checked now?” She sat up a little, feeling hopeful. 

“Oh, okay. We can try. Hand me your cell phone.” He reached out and she placed it in the palm of his hand without hesitation. 

Shizuka then ran around to the other end of the couch, looking over her father’s shoulder in anticipation. 

Hermit Purple!” Joseph shouted, spiked vines shooting from his hand and into the device. 

The screen turned black for a moment. They both waited in anticipation to see what the Stand would do. Suddenly the screen lit up, and the GPS app opened on its own. Shizuka watched in awe as an address typed itself out. 

“Morioh Grand Hotel?” Shizuka read aloud under her breath. 

Joseph rubbed his chin for a moment, contemplative. “Hmmm, Jotaro and I stayed there when we were visiting. Why would my Hermit Purple bring this up?” 

“We have to go there! It’s obviously a sign. Something about my parents.. C’mon!” She patted the couch eagerly. 

“Hold on, Shizuka, hold on. We can’t just go to Morioh, you have school.” the old man argued half heartedly, looking away. 

“School? It’s the middle of July.” She raised a brow. “And you know that. So what’s the deal?” 

Joseph sighed. “Shizuka, dear, there are facts of life that you don’t understand. You’re a Stand User. Not to mention your Achtung Baby isn’t an offensive stand. I’m too old to protect you- If we ran into an enemy, we wouldn’t stand a chance.”

Shizuka wrinkled her nose at the claim. “Enemies? Dad, this isn’t a Marvel Comic. There aren’t bad guys waiting to battle me at the airport.” 

“There could be. Stand Users attract other Stand Users. We always seem to run into one another as if driven by fate. There don’t seem to be any in New York. That’s why we’re safe. I don’t think an arrow ever made it to the United States. But Morioh is another story. We have no idea how many people were shot back in the summer of 1999. There could be over a dozen Stand users we don’t even know about. If you go, you’ll be in danger.”

“So I should just give up on my parents?” She demanded

Joseph was quiet for a second. And then another. And another. He sat up, slowly standing with a groan. “If you want to spend time with your parents, we’ll be upstairs.” He grabbed his cane, walking to the staircase. 

Shizuka dropped her head, feeling like a real jerk. She could have worded that better. It wasn’t that she viewed these mystery-parents as better than her own. She just felt a desire to know where she came from. Who wouldn’t? And maybe she could have two more parents? They probably missed her so much. Soon, Joseph was out of sight. She noticed his wallet resting on the arm of the couch. Her eyes were locked to it. She knew what the right thing to do was, but she just couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t get Morioh out of her mind. It would have been her home. What would life have been like? Who would she have known? She wouldn’t give up her life in America for anything but the questions were eating at her. She grabbed Joseph’s wallet, her cellphone, and ran up to her room. After five minutes, she entered the elevator with a small bag, pushing the button for the first floor. 

 Sunday, July 26th 2009

Gainesville Florida, USA.

It was a silent morning. Sunbeams pierced the slit between the curtains and lit up a small slice of the bedroom in the warm morning glow. Dust particles floated around the beam of light, rising up to the ceiling slowly. A large man was asleep in bed alone. It wasn’t the house he was accustomed to but instead a luxury hotel. He’d been staying there for three weeks, trying to find a new home. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for him. The silence was shattered by a telephone ringing. It rang three times before a low groan filled the room. The man rolled toward the sound and picked up the phone, speaking in a groggy voice.

 “Kujo.” He mumbled. His eyes widened, and he sat up. “What? Old man, calm down.” He kicked the blankets off of the bed and stood up. “Call the airport and pay for my ticket. I’ll be right there.” 

He grabbed his hat off of the bedside table, resting it on his head. His thumb and index finger wrapped around the rim, turning it to face forward. He got dressed, grabbed the suitcase he never unpacked, and walked out. As he got into his car he sighed to himself, a tired frown on his face. “Yare Yare Daze.” 

Chapter Text

Sunday, July 26th

Schiphol Airport: Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Shizuka walked out of the busy airport and stretched her arms in exhaustion. She’d been on planes before, but never for more than an hour or two. After her nine hour flight, she was absolutely beat. She really didn’t know much about the world when she haphazardly booked her same-day flight. Due to this, she had a fourteen hour layover in Amsterdam. Fortunately she asked enough questions to figure out that she needed to exchange her currency. Joseph had around seven-hundred dollars in his wallet when she swiped it, leaving her with six-hundred twenty-two euros after conversion. She figured that would be enough to stay at a hotel. Holding her bag close, she walked through the strange city looking for a place to stay.

People looked at her with interest as they passed by. An unaccompanied foreign girl walking down the street certainly wasn’t normal. They were quite used to tourists, but several adults seemed to be concerned by the tiny girl walking alone. She felt a little nervous, and bit her lip. Then, she reassured herself that she was fine. Her dad had to be exaggerating the dangers of traveling as a Stand User. She’d just get to her hotel and sleep. What could be complicated about that?

Eventually she found a hotel, walking inside and waiting in front of the desk. A disinterested lady looked down at her, clicking her nails against the counter.

“How may I help you?” She mumbled, looking up at the clock as she waited for a response.

Shizuka took a moment to find her voice. “I’d like to buy a room? Uh, I mean, I’d like to rent a room?” She questioned. Why was that a question? She meant to be assertive.

The woman looked at her for a moment, scanning her appearance. “Do you have an ID?” She mumbled, checking her nails.

“Uhm… Would a passport work?” Shizuka asked, fumbling with her bag.

“Mhmm…” The woman hummed dryly, taking the passport and looking at it. “We have a strict policy on unaccompanied minors. You’ll need an adult to reserve the room. Sorry.” She mumbled, handing Shizuka the passport.

The young girl’s heart sank. She hadn’t even thought of that. “B-But… I really need a room.” She stammered. “It’s important… I have a fourteen hour layover.”

“Sorry, but you’ll need your parents to do it. They can call, and pay over the phone?” The woman offered, picking up the phone and hovering her index finger over the keypad.

“No! I’m fine… I’m good. I’ll just go.” She sighed, turning around and walking away without another word.

She couldn’t call her parents. They’d know she was in Amsterdam. Sure, they could probably track her flight, but that would take a little bit of time. She needed every minute she could get if she planned on making it to Morioh. So, where to sleep then? She wandered around for a little while, entering a kaas shop. There was a large assortment of cheeses all on display, and tourists filled the delightful little shop taste testing to their heart’s content.

Shizuka looked around, feeling a little hungry. She didn’t want to chance a restaurant, having no idea if a child would be allowed to eat alone. She also didn’t want to go back to the airport so soon. She decided it’d be best to snack on some cheese, and approached an interesting looking type. It was labeled “ overjarig ,” and looked delicious. She just stared at it until an employee approached her.

“Goedemiddag, kleine meisje.” The man smiled down at her.

Shizuka looked to be at a total loss. “Uhh… Hello.” She smiled nervously.

He nodded in recognition, switching to English. He spoke in a thick accent, but had a wonderful understanding of the language. “I see you’re looking at the overjarig? A lovely choice. It’s aged two years, and has a wonderful firm texture. Would you like a small taste?” He offered, reaching over the counter and handing her a toothpick with a bit of cheese on the tip.

She took the cheese and tasted it. It was… odd, to say the least. But it wasn’t necessarily bad, either. She cleared her throat, reaching into her bag.

“Can I have umm.. A serving of this? Y’know, just like… enough for a snack?” She asked, feeling rather silly.

The man smiled, nodding as he walked around the counter and readied a container. “Of course, dear.”

Shizuka accepted the container, paid, and exited the shop.

Tot ziens!” The man called out happily, placing her cash in the register.

 

A few hours later, Shizuka was sitting against the side of a building. Her container of cheese was empty, and she felt exhausted. She just needed to stay awake… She could sleep on the plane. It became harder and harder to keep her eyes open over time, however. She sighed, looking over and seeing an alley. There was a roof overhead to protect from any possible rain, and it wasn’t too messy. She stood up, walking into the alley and leaning against the wall. Then, she slid down said wall, putting her bag on the ground and using it as a pillow. She slowly faded into invisibility, completely hidden from the world.

“Happy Birthday…” She mumbled to herself, fading into slumber.

 

Shizuka woke to the sound of voices. It was a little strange, so she decided to tilt her head and look for the source. Two men were huddled in the same alley, speaking softly to one another. One of the men seemed to be a little more urgent than the other.

Three million ?” He hissed, clearly annoyed. “We agreed over the phone that I’d pay one-point-five.”

“Situation’s changed. It’s three million now. Or would you rather be weak in the new world?” The taller man mumbled in an apathetic tone.

The first man paused, looking down in defeat. “Okay, fine. Three million. And you promise this will make me stronger?”

The taller man shrugged, handing him a small envelope. “It’ll bring out the strength inside you. Now pay up.”

Shizuka was fascinated by the conversation. At first she thought it was a drug deal, but the way they were talking seemed off. New world? Inner strength? What in the world were they talking about? She could only watch as the sheepish man wrote a check, handing it over to the dealer.

“I’d recommend you prick your finger with it, but drawing any kind of blood works.” The tall man explained.

“Of course… I’ll just…” The rich man mumbled, getting something out of the envelope. “I’ll just prick my finger… Just… Like this..” His breathing hitched, and he tried to will himself to do it.

“Any day now.” The other man growled.

“This is a little embarrassing… but, could you do it? I’m just not good with pain.” The rich man explained.

Without a word, the man took the little chip and drove it into the rich man’s palm. The coward screamed, bleeding profusely from the force. Shizuka couldn’t look away. What in the hell was happening? She stood up, being as silent as possible as she stepped closer. The injured man sank to his knees, gripping his bleeding hand and groaning.

“It feels horrible… It’s not supposed to feel like this, is it?” He sobbed, tears running down his cheeks.

The tall man looked down without a hint of emotion. “It’s because you lack a fighting spirit. You’re weak. You couldn’t even prick your finger for this power. You don’t deserve it.” He explained somberly.

“N-No! No! I paid you! I deserve this!” The bleeding man growled between whines. “You’re going to give me my money back, now! And I want to speak to your boss!”

For the first time, a smile came on the criminal’s face. “You deserve it? You deserve nothing. ” He stomped his foot down on the injured hand, driving it into the pavement. “You inherited your wealth from your hardworking, tenacious father. You never attended university, got terrible grades in primary school, and haven’t worked a day in your life. When you caught wind of an easy ticket to strength, you had your personal assistant call me and set everything up. You’re pathetic, and now you’re finally facing something that can’t be handed to you. Find that tenacity inside yourself, or die.” He twisted his foot around, breaking the sobbing man’s hand in the process.

Die!? ” The man cried out. “You never said I would die!? What kind of business are you running?”

The criminal spit on the lower man’s face. “We’re not a business. We’re an idea. A concept. A dream of a world without people like you. So either rise to the challenge, or cleanse the planet of yourself.”

Shizuka wanted to help. She had to help. But the man in front of her was enormous. Despite that, she had something. Her Stand was an advantage over anyone. She could protect this cowering man from his fate.

“Hey!” She shouted, turning visible right before their eyes.

The coward shrieked in surprise, while the tall man nearly narrowed his eyes.

“Leave him alone, now. ” She growled, taking a step forward. “Whatever you think is happening here is over. Get lost, or else.” She stood tall, or as tall as she could, glaring at the monster.

The tall man just smirked. “Little girl, you appeared out of nowhere. That’s a pretty neat trick. I must have been distracted… That, or you’re one of our customers.” He lifted a hand, his open palm directed at Shizuka. “Killing a little kid would really bug me. So I’m giving you one chance to walk away.”

Shizuka stood firm, looking down at the groveling man. “Will he die if I leave?” She questioned.

“He’ll die if he’s weak. It’s entirely up to him now. You’ll die if you stay. Everyone’s fate is in their own hands tonight.” He explained in a neutral tone.

“Who are you? And what did you prick him with?” Shizuka demanded.

He sighed. “So you’re choosing to die.. I can respect that. I’m Wagner. This man is Neil Archer, an English millionaire who wanted power from my organization. There’s a catch to such a power though. The weak spirited can’t endure it. It will devour him, and eventually, it will kill him, cleansing the Earth of a weak soul.”

Shizuka gritted her teeth. “So the weak don’t deserve to live, then?”

“Look around you. We’ve created a world where Darwinism is irrelevant. The weak get to be carried on the backs of hard workers. In our purest form, the strong thrived, and their bloodline thrived. We’re polluting the human race with scum like Neil.” He began to have passion in his tone for the first time, truly believing these ideals.

Shizuka was a little young to fully grasp these concepts. All she knew was Wagner planned on killing a lot of good people. She couldn’t have that. Morioh could wait. She needed to stop him. “I won’t let you.” Is all she said.

Wagner smirked. “I like you, kid. How old are you?” He asked.

“Ten. And I’m still gonna kick your ass.” She growled, taking another step forward. “So either run, or test your theory. Let’s see if the strong one wins.”

Wagner chuckled, lifting his arms slowly. A blurry, transparent figure emerges from his body, hovering behind him. The image is a man with rotting flesh, missing teeth, and a big smile. He was dressed in old fashioned clothes, torn and stretched by father time. He was missing an eyeball, the vacant socket disturbing Shizuka.

“Can you see him, kid? My Flying Dutchman?” Wagner asked, the same big grin appearing on his face.

Shizuka wanted to step away, but she couldn’t. She had to stay strong. This man had a stand too… For a moment she questioned the odds, but quickly remembered what her father had warned her about. Stand Users really were attracted to one another by fate. Was it her fate to stop Wagner then and there? She balled a fist, manifesting her Achtung Baby. Her stand was small, just like her. It glowed in the dark alley, hair flowing as it hovered behind Shizuka. Its skin was ghostly pale, with a distinct marble texture all along it. Its hair was white, and nearly reached its feet. It’s eyes were a piercing orange, and its willowy limbs had a gradient of colors throughout. Her stand slumped over her back, protectively resting its hands on her body and glaring at Wagner. He smirked.

“So you do have one… At your age? Incredible.” He marveled.

“I’ve been using it since I was a baby.” She growled, pointing at him, her stand still sprawled over her.

Wagner nearly refused to believe such a thing. He was truly enamoured by this young girl. “Well then, let’s see what it can do.” The Flying Dutchman threw its hands out, emitting a purple light from its palms. “Do you know how many dead things are all around us? Too many to count… Death has a firm grip on us all. It’s the most powerful force in the world…”

Shizuka watched in horror as a small army of dead creatures poured into the alley behind Wagner. Dead bugs, grey herons, a single fox, and grass snakes obediently stopped right in front of him, waiting for orders.

“To control the dead… Isn’t that the most terrifying power? I should add you to my arsenal…” He chuckled.

Shizuka trembled at the sight of the rotting creatures rallied in front of their monstrous leader. She’d never been in a real fight before. Sure, she had used Achtung Baby to deal with bullies, and assholes who disrespected the elderly, but she had no idea how strong she was compared to other stands. “You really are sick.” She mumbled, taking a step back and thinking of a plan.

“Exanimates, kill her.” He pointed toward Shizuka.

The creatures sprinted toward her. She didn’t have time. She didn’t know what to do. Her only power was to make things invisible. But she didn’t have time to get away. She couldn’t fight. That’s when Achtung Baby flew in front of her, pointing at the ground. The ground vanished, revealing the sewer system beneath. The animals all stopped, nearly falling into the “hole” created by Shizuka’s stand.

“Did you.. Act on your own?” She mumbled to Achtung Baby.

There wasn’t time though. The undead creatures thought the invisible ground was a hole. Shizuka had to take advantage of that. She focused on Neil, turning him invisible as well.

“Sorry, Wagner. But I figured out how I’m going to win.” She smirked.

Wagner raised a brow. “Oh? How’s that?” He questioned.

“I’m going to use my legs.” She took a deep breath. 

Then, she vanished, sprinting forward. She jumped over the creatures, using Achtung Baby to kick hard off the ground. She rolled in front of Neil, lifting him with a combination of her own strength, and the assistance of her stand. Then, she ran as fast as she could past Wagner, creating another “hole” on his side to trap him in the alley.

After a block or two, she turned visible, grunting as she dragged the grown man. He had passed out during all the commotion. She reached into his coat pocket and found his cell phone. She dialed 911. Luckily, calls to 911 are automatically redirected to the Netherland’s emergency number, 112.

“I have an injured man with me… I found him knocked out in an alley…” She panted, looking at a street sign. It read as Zwanenburgwal. She had absolutely no idea how to pronounce such a thing. “I’m on… Zane…. Zanewanburg…. Uh…” She panicked, knowing Wagner had to be getting close. “Zwanenburgwal? Is that it? Just please, bring an ambulance…”

She hung up, looking down the road she came from. Nothing to be seen yet… The man in her arms was getting very pale. The wound on his palm was bleeding so profusely. In fact, it seemed to be bleeding too much. What kind of wound was that? She felt his forehead and found that he was burning up. She just had to wait for the ambulance. Then she could get on her plane, right?

“Just stay kicking for a few more minutes.” She mumbled to Neil, standing up.

Achtung Baby manifested, and Shizuka looked around cautiously. Where could Wagner be? She nearly jumped when Neil’s cell phone began to ring. Who could that be? Her naive side thought maybe it could be the ambulance’s number. She picked up, waiting for a voice. Unfortunately, it was one she recognized.

“That man, dead or alive, is the property of my organization. I might be inclined to let you escape, but not him.” Wagner growled over the line.

What would Wagner want with Neil’s dead body? She wracked her brain. What of value is on him? Then, it hit her. The chip! The thing shoved in his palm. It was apparently valued at three million dollars! She used Achtung baby to pluck it out, analyzing it. It was bronze, with little designs going through. It was only the size of a penny, though, so she couldn’t make anything out too well. She pocketed the chip, lifting the phone back to her ear. “You’ll never find us.” Is all she said, hanging up.

She turned the phone to silent, and focused her energy. Shizuka and Neil both turned invisible once again. Now all she needed to do was remain totally silent until the ambulance arrived. It was quiet for about two minutes. Then, she heard growling in the distance. She narrowed her eyes, leaning forward a bit. Down the road she could see creatures on all fours pattering along with their noses to the pavement. As they grew closer, she realized what they were. Reanimated dogs. They were rotting, flesh dripping from them as they trudged along. She was disgusted, before becoming horrified shortly after. Those Hellhounds were sniffing. They were looking for her. Or for Neil. She couldn’t be sure. Either way, it was unlikely that they could just wait peacefully for the ambulance. What was she supposed to do? Go toe-to-toe with feral undead Hellhounds? Her only power was invisibility. If they could pinpoint her location via smell, she was useless.

“What are they smelling?” She mumbled, sinking lower into anxiety. Did she drop something? Did Wagner have something of Neil’s? Where did the Hellhounds get the scent? What did they have on them that Wagner would be able to track? That’s when it hit her. “The chip…” She mumbled. She saw a manhole about ten feet away. Desperately, she fumbled for it, using Achtung Baby to lift it up. Then, she tossed the chip into the running water, stumbling back. Within thirty seconds the Hellhounds jumped head-first into the sewer. She sighed with relief, resting her hand on her heart. It was beating so hard she thought it might blast out of her chest. She just flopped onto her back, panting. She really thought she was going to die. Wagner’s Flying Dutchman was terrifying. She never even tried to fight it head on, just its minions.

Shizuka crawled over to Neil, rubbing his forehead and sighing. “It’s gonna be alright.” She mumbled, collapsing onto him and turning visible once more. An ambulance siren could be heard in the distance. Soon, it arrived, picking up Shizuka and Neil and driving away. She allowed herself to sleep, feeling a little safe for the time being.

Wagner exited the alley, looking down the road and growling. His Hellhounds would find the arrow shard, and Neil. He just needed to find that girl. He had a feeling his boss would love to speak to her.

Chapter Text

Monday, July 27th

OLVG, Location West Hospital, Amsterdam

 

The sound of medical equipment filled the room. Mechanical whirs, high pitched beeping, and distant conversations all muddied together to form what can only be referred to as “Hospital Noise.” It faded in and out of Shizuka’s conscious mind as she slowly came to the world of the living once again, waking up. Her eyes fluttered open, and she let out a long groan. Her throat hurt, and it felt like she got hit by a bus. Wait.. was she hit by a bus? She fell asleep in the middle of the street, after all. After a moment’s deliberation, she realized that she’d be in a lot more pain if she were run over.
Shizuka shifted a little in the hospital bed, feeling a few things attached to her. Probably to track vitals… She watched every season of Scrubs, so she pretty much had a full understanding of the medical world. Her mind slowly came back to her over time, and she remembered everything that lead to this hospital bed. The Flying Dutchman, Neil Archer, the Hellhounds, the chip… How could she just pass out like that? She pushed the blankets off of herself, groaning. Her eyes narrowed when she heard footsteps in the bathroom beside her bed. Who was in her room? Was is possibly Wagner? Did he sneak in to finish the job? She noticed a tray of food within her reach and grabbed a fork, ready to attack. The bathroom door opened, revealing a large man. Unfortunately, Shizuka recognized him. She groaned, dropping the fork.

“Uncle Jotaro?” She mumbled dryly, clearly displeased. “It’s not Christmas time. Why are you here?” She questioned, referring to how she only saw him one day of the year.

Jotaro looked down at her with a neutral expression. “When you were admitted, they found your passport and called the old man. I was actually on layover in Paris when I got the call. I took a train, and got here about an hour ago.” He explained, sitting down in the chair across from her bed. “I guess you probably want to explain what happened?”

She wrinkled her nose in annoyance. Shizuka idolized Jolyne, and because of that she had a very sour opinion of Uncle Kujo. Her cousin would always rant about Jotaro at Thanksgiving and Christmas whenever they spent time together. He seemed like a real neglectful loser. Then again, he was there, wasn’t he? He came for her. Not like she wanted that. But still, it meant something…

“Dad warned me that I’d run into Stand Users if I traveled. I didn’t believe him.” She admitted, crossing her arms.

Jotaro looked alert. “A Stand? In Amsterdam? Did you take care of it?”

“Does it look taken care of? I ran.” She grunted.

Jotaro leaned back in his chair, sighing. “What was its ability? Who was its user?”

Shizuka just sighed. “Why are you here? I can take care of myself. Don’t you have a family to take care of?”

Jotaro was shocked by the child’s blunt questioning. He really didn’t expect to be scolded by a ten year old. “You’re family. Jiji’s family. Jolyne and Maura are safe in Florida. This took priority.”

She rolled her eyes. Something always took priority. “His name was Wagner. His stand, Flying Dutchman, could control the dead.”

Jotaro thought to himself for a moment. “I’ve seen something like this before. This city could be in a lot of danger.”

“How are there so many Stand Users, but nobody knows about them?” Shizuka questioned.

“Stands used to be rare. Certain people were born with them naturally. About twenty years ago, arrows with the ability to grant Stand abilities began circulating. We don’t know their origins, but we’re pretty sure we have all of them.”

It all clicked into place. Granting Stand abilities? That must be what Neil paid for. She sat up urgently. “Wagner.. He offered a man power in an alley. I was watching invisibly… He shoved some kind of thing into the guy’s hand. Could that have been one of the arrows?”

Jotaro considered it for a moment, lifting a hand to his chin. “You’re sure that’s what happened? He offered a man power, and stabbed him?”

Shizuka nodded, feeling like she stumbled into something big.

“And the man? Is he the one you were found with?” He questioned.

“Yes. Is he okay? I got him away from Wagner. It took everything I had, but I did it.” She gripped the bedding, biting her lip.

“Neil Archer died shortly after arriving at the hospital. With the wound on his hand, their guess is he opened an artery and bled out.” Jotaro said grimly. “But if he wasn’t strong enough to handle the arrow, that would be the real cause of death.”

Shizuka felt the air leave her lungs. Her head felt light as a feather, and she fell back against the pillow. She just stared up at the ceiling for a moment, drowning out Jotaro’s voice as he asked if she was okay. She put everything she had into saving that man. And he died anyway? The sound of her heart beating filled her head, pounding against her forehead and deafening her. She could vaguely feel Jotaro grab her. Then, his rough, gravely voice pierced her shock.

Shizuka!” He shouted.

She snapped out of it, feeling a tear streaking down her cheek. “Wha…? Oh.. Right. Sorry. I’m okay.” She sniffled, raising a hand to wipe her face.

Jotaro looked at her with recognition. “Just because you’re special doesn’t mean every life is your responsibility. Trust me. You don’t wanna go down that road.” He stepped back, sighing. “Yare yare daze… I can’t leave you alone here, but I can’t leave this Wagner walking around the city either.”

“I’m okay. I can come with you. I feel fine.” She groaned, taking the equipment off of herself and stretching.

“I don’t think your old man would be happy about that. I can’t take you into a fight. I’ll put you on a flight back to New York and handle this myself.” He mumbled, getting his phone out.

No!” She shouted, hopping out of bed. “I’m not going home. You can’t make me.” She protested.

He looked down at her as he dialed the number of the airport. “Yes, I’d like to purchase a ticket. Your soonest flight to New York City. One way.” He got his wallet out, ready to write a check.

Shizuka was furious. Nobody ever listened. This was her life. Her fight. Her family. She was going to avenge Neil and then get to the Morioh Grand Hotel even if it killed her. She noticed her bag sitting on a counter on the far side of the room, and her clothes folded neatly beside it. If Jotaro wasn’t going to help her, he certainly wasn’t going to stop her.

“Thank you. I’ll be dropping her off and walking her to the gate. My name is Jotaro Kujo. K-u-j-o.” He mumbled.

Then, something felt off. He pulled the phone away from his ear, looking around. His grip on the device tightened as his jaw tensed up. Shizuka was gone. Vanished into thin air with her belongings… He growled. “ Shit. ” He closed his phone and shoved it into his pocket, slamming the door open and walking into the hallway. She wasn’t going to get away from him. She had no idea what kind of danger she was in.

 

Down the hallway of the hospital, a tall man peeked around the corner. Wagner reached into his coat and pulled out his throwaway phone, dialing a number. After two rings, the other line picked up. “Boss… We’re in trouble. There’s been a complication.” He mumbled, sweating.

And what could that be? You had one job. Get the money, bring back the shard. This girl had better be worth the time you’re spending there.” The voice on the other end warned.

“I was about to walk into her hospital room.. But Jotaro Kujo beat me to it.” Wagner explained.

Jotaro. Kujo.” The Boss said slowly.

“Yes sir… The one and only. That means that the little kid is-”

Shizuka Joestar… Adopted daughter of Joseph and SuzieQ.” The boss interrupted him.

“What should I do? What are my orders?” He asked, feeling his blood boil. “I don’t think I can take Jotaro.”

No. You cannot. Leave Amsterdam immediately by train. Once you’re three countries away, take a flight under a false identity. Take every precaution necessary. Do not rush this. Do not leave a trail. Do not leave a trace. If you don’t do this perfectly... He will find you. And if he does, we will not protect you.”

After that, the line died. Wagner clenched the phone, sweating. He walked the opposite direction of Jotaro, pushing the “down” button on the elevator and walking inside. He leaned against the wall and began to tremble. He wouldn’t have the organization’s support if Jotaro attacked? That seemed so unfair. How could they turn their backs on him? Was the boss really so afraid of Star Platinum? “Fucking hell…” He mumbled, getting out his phone and preparing to plan a route out of the country.

Language.” A small voice warned.

Wagner’s eyes widened, but by then it was too late. Shizuka appeared right in front of him, Achtung Baby holding a scalpel to his throat. There was pure hatred in the Stand’s eye. He’d never seen such emotion on a Stand before.

“Shizuka… how much did you hear?” He growled, resigning himself to the situation.

“Enough to know that you’re running. But I won’t let that happen. You haven’t paid for the death of Neil Archer.” She said firmly.

Wagner chuckled. “Little kid, you’re gonna gut me right here in this elevator? You don’t have it in you.”

Don’t tell me what I’m capable of! I might be a kid, but you’ve really pissed me off!” She threatened, stomping her foot.

“Well, you’re running out of time. We’re almost on the ground floor… Do it, Shizuka. Do it now, or I’m going to get away.” Wagner grinned.

Shizuka slammed her fist against the alarm button. A high pitched ring filled the elevator. “I don’t have to gut anything. I just have to scream.”

Wagner barely had time to process. All in an instance the doors opened, and Shizuka let out a shrill cry, backing away from him and letting the weapon fall to the floor. “Someone help me! That man’s trying to kidnap me! Please, help!” She screamed at the top of her lungs.

The man’s heart stopped. Jotaro was probably still in the building. If he heard her cries, it was all over. He grabbed Shizuka, slamming her against the wall and holding her mouth shut.

“Quiet, you little punk!” He growled.

“Hey!” A random man shouted, pointing at them. “Let go of her!”

Soon, a small crowd surrounded Wagner. They were all demanding that he drop Shizuka and back away. Then, two security guards approached, one speaking into his communication device as the other readied his weapon. Wagner had been backed into a corner. He couldn’t help but chuckle. Even though Shizuka was weaker, she really got him. But he wasn’t done yet. He still had fight left in him.

“Because of you, everyone here’s about to see something very unpleasant.” He growled.

Flying Dutchman manifested, raising his hands up and emitting a purple glow. Of course, the common observers couldn’t see the stand. They’d see what it did, however. As the commotion grew more and more out of control, the security officers were screaming at Wagner. He just had to wait…

 

Jotaro was walking quickly down a hallway, trying to think of where Shizuka would run to get away from him. He was interrupted by the scream of a terrified man somewhere close by. He paused for a minute, trying to locate the source. He noticed a door labeled “morgue” on the far end of the hall. He raised a brow, walking up to it. Right before he could reach for the knob, the door burst open. Multiple doctors ran out, screaming. One of them cried out, “They’re not dead! Something’s wrong!”

This caused Jotaro to clench his fists, looking inside the morgue. He could see a woman climbing off of the examination table. She was in the middle of an autopsy, her stomach hanging open as guts spilled onto the floor. Jotaro had an iron gut, and didn’t throw up. Still, it was a very disgusting sight. It was also obvious that this woman had to be dead. Was it the work of the Flying Dutchman? He was about to close the door, but he heard a woman crying inside. She was backed against a wall, the undead blocking her way out.

Jotaro sprinted inside, shoving the reanimated corpse aside and lifting the doctor to her feet. Always one to get to the point, he questioned her. “Is this the only morgue in the hospital?”

She shook her head, staring at the bodies. “T-There are three rooms on this floor… Oh god, is this happening in all of them?”

A body grabbed Jotaro’s shoulder. Star Platinum sent it flying across the room, spattering against the wall. They didn’t seem to be any more durable than humans. That was fortunate. Still, their fear factor alone gave them an advantage against the terrified civilians. He grabbed the woman by the wrist, dragging her out of the room. “Do what you need to do to get this place evacuated. Go.” He grunted, sprinting down the hallway. He had to find the User before innocent people got hurt. That’s when he saw a fire alarm. He shattered the glass with his elbow, pulling the lever down.

“Put the girl down, now!” An officer shouted at Wagner.

Shizuka struggled, unable to overpower the grown man. She was in the middle of formulating a man when the fire alarm was pulled. The panic was cranked up to eleven after that. People began to scream “Fire!” in the middle of the active hostage situation taking place. Shizuka was trying to determine if the fire was real, or somehow a ploy by Flying Dutchman. Either way, she decided that it was time to struggle a little harder. Achtung Baby appeared, punching Wagner right in the face. He stumbled back, letting go of her. Apparently, her stand hit harder than a ten year old girl, and that was always appreciated.

She ran forward and into the crowd as they frenzied around the room. Doctors began to enter and direct people out of the building. She could already hear sirens in the distance. It was total mayhem. Surely, nothing could add to the current level of chaos.

Zombies!” A doctor screamed, sprinting into the room. “The morgue has come back from the dead! There are zombies running the halls! Everyone run for your lives!”

Shizuka kicked herself for thinking that it couldn’t get worse. Fucking zombies? It had to be the work of the Flying Dutchman. She turned in an attempt to locate Wagner, but he was nowhere to be seen. The panic would be a perfect way to escape from Jotaro. She sighed, running down the hall in search of him.

Alarms blared throughout the building, and hospital staff were crowding the way at every turn. It became nearly impossible to navigate the foreign halls. Did she really lose him? She refused. In a fit of pure rage, Achtung Baby manifested. It threw its hands out and shouted. Then, in a flash, all of the walls surrounding Shizuka became invisible. She could see right through them. Her eyes focused on the man she was looking for. She could see him! He was a couple halls down. She began sprinting once more with a new resolve. She was going to catch him. And if he wouldn’t go willingly, she was going to kill him.

 

Jotaro got to the bottom of the staircase, arriving on ground level. It seemed like things were only getting worse. Panic had overtaken the hospital, and he had no idea where the undead were lurking. If Shizuka fell victim to Wagner, he’d never be able to live with it. He balled his fist, Star Platinum’s hand emerging from it. The Stand roared, punching the wall and making a shortcut to the lobby. He stepped through, looking around. He stood there calmly with his hands in his pockets, standing out in the crowd like a sore thumb. The leopard pants sure didn’t help.

He saw the entrance, and exit, as people flooded through. He didn’t have any idea what Wagner looked like. That was certainly a disadvantage. However, the positive to him escaping is that the zombies would probably die once more when Flying Dutchman got far enough away. Maybe he should focus his attention on protecting the innocent from Flying Dutchman’s minions instead of tracking the user.

Police began pouring into the building with drawn weapons, shouting for everyone to evacuate the building. An officer pointed to Jotaro. “Sir, please leave the building. There’s an ongoing crisis.” The officer shouted.

Jotaro adjusted his hat. The officer saw him. He’d have to slip away without being seen. “Yare yare daze…” He sighed, manifesting Star Platinum. “Star Platinum: THE WORLD.” He focused, and a ripple enveloped the room. In frozen time, Jotaro slid around the corner and out of the officer’s sight.

When time resumed, the officer’s jaw dropped. “W-Where’d he go..?” He mumbled under his breath. However, in the commotion, he could only dwell on it for so long.

Jotaro was already halfway down the hall when time resumed. He leaned against it for a minute, panting. He managed to hold it for three seconds. That was an improvement. Still, it drained him. He needed to keep his energy for Wagner. The man had to still be in the hospital. Otherwise the zombies would return to corpses. Why would he stay? Where would he go? For what reason? That’s when it hit him.

 

Wagner stumbled through the door, slamming it shut and panting. There he was, the security surveillance room. There was footage of him holding a child hostage. That tape had to go. If not, the organization would likely cut all ties with him. He sat down in the chair and looked at the monitors. Mass panic, just as he liked it. When he was done he’d sprint out screaming with the weaklings. He couldn’t help but smile. Who else could evade Jotaro Kujo as well as the daughter of Joseph Joestar? He’d likely get promoted for such a feat.

He reached over to the console and hit “eject.” However, no tape came out. He hit it a few more times, only for the monitor to display “drive empty.” How could that be? Was there no recording to begin with? That made his job even easier. Unless…

“Shizuka, I know you’re in here.” He growled, standing up.

She threw the tape against the wall, letting it shatter. To be perfectly honest, she wanted it gone too. There’d be too many questions to answer otherwise. Wagner summoned Flying Dutchman, looking around for the invisible child. “Are you honestly trying to avenge Neil Archer? You’re so much better than him. You’re ready for the new world! Why fight it?” He questioned, circling around the room slowly.

Achtung Baby was able to punch hard enough to shock Wagner earlier, but Shizuka wasn’t confident in a conventional brawl. They were in an enclosed space, and far enough away from any threatening dead creatures that she wasn’t concerned about Flying Dutchman’s ability. Still, that left her with the odds any ten year old would have against a grown man. She needed to stick to the shadows, and keep her position hidden.

“If you’ve really been using your stand since you were a baby, you might be the strongest User I’ve ever met. You could join us. Imagine what you could become. Imagine what you could do!” Wagner reasoned, listening for the most subtle of sounds to give away Shizuka’s location.

She flicked an invisible penny across the room, causing a sound opposite to her. Wagner turned his back to Shizuka, giving her the golden opportunity. Achtung baby grabbed a monitor from the desk, slamming it against Wagner’s head. The large man fell to his knees, swearing in a mix of pain and shock. Flying Dutchman began to swing wildly in an attempt to hit its enemy, but Achtung Baby swiftly dodged each sloppy attack. She might be weak, but it’s hard to fight something you can’t see. The stand grabbed another monitor, slamming it against the man even harder than before. Then it used the swivel chair, a box, and a coffee mug.

Wagner let out pained grunts with each hit, unable to think straight amidst the attack. Shizuka was in a blind rage at that point, hitting him time after time with no sign of stopping. She wanted the grunts to stop. She wanted him to be limp and motionless. She wanted to kill him. She began to shake, letting out a scream as her attacks increased in speed and cruelty, stomping on his back and kicking him as her stand relentlessly bludgeoned him. Something deep inside her was snapping. A rage kept subdued for too long. A primal need to survive. It was Wagner or her, and she was never going to die.

Flying Dutchman began to flicker, its punches slowing down as Wagner coughed. He really didn’t expect to be beaten by a little kid. The door flew open, revealing Jotaro and Star Platinum. He saw the floating chair attacking a man on its own and knew who was behind it. “Shizuka, is that Wagner?” He questioned.

For one moment, the hitting ceased. Shizuka became visible, her hands trembling as Achtung Baby floated perfectly still, the chair ready to swing down at any moment. Shizuka fixed her hair with a shaky hand, biting the tip of her index finger. Then, she spoke with an uneven voice. “Uncle Jotaro… Would it be wrong to kill a killer?” She asked softly.

Jotaro Kujo had simple morals based on the fundamentals of justice. “No. But do you want to?” He asked, looking at the twitching man.

Shizuka shook her head. “I want to… But I don’t want to…” She explained. “I’m just… so angry with him. And there’s no way someone like him could go to prison… Stand Users have different rules from everyone else… We have to be each other’s police…” She mumbled, still shaking.

“Judge, jury, executioner. I’ve played those parts plenty. But maybe you shouldn’t? I was never unsure. If you are, you should probably stop. Put the chair down and let me take care of this. I want to get some information from him anyway.” Jotaro stepped closer.

Shizuka nodded, stepping away and putting the chair down. Jotaro knelt in front of Wagner, lifting his head by balling a fist in his hair. “Can you talk?” He asked calmly, keeping his anger in check very well.

Wagner spit blood in Jotaro’s face, smirking. “Never… for you… Jotaro.” He growled. Then, he bit down as hard as he could. He groaned, blood spurting from his mouth and trickling down his jaw. Jotaro’s eyes widened, and he let go of the man.

Shizuka watched in fascination. “What’s happening?” She questioned.

“He bit his tongue off.” Jotaro stood up, glaring down at the man. He pulled a handkerchief from his coat, wiping the blood from his face. “Now he couldn’t spill information even if he wanted to. It’s a tactic used by mobsters, soldiers, and anyone else dedicated to their cause. The willpower needed to do that… He’s a hardass.” He mumbled, watching blood ooze onto the floor.

“Is he gonna die?” Shizuka asked softly.

“No. He could, if he kept reopening the wound after the blood clots, but it’d be incredibly slow and painful. This is just an extreme way of keeping himself quiet. If we had the old man, he could try to get the information with Hermit Purple.” He mumbled, rubbing his chin. Then, he got out his cellphone. He dialed, waited a few moments, and spoke. “Kujo. Yes, we have a stand related issue in Amsterdam. I think there might be another arrow, or at least a piece of one. I’ve got the guy unconscious, and he’s not recovering any time soon. Can you send the foundation to pick us up?”

Shizuka raised a brow. “The foundation?” She questioned.

Jotaro listed off their location before hanging up. “The Speedwagon Foundation. An old friend of your Dad started an organization dedicated to tracking, detaining, and preventing the supernatural.”

“Like men in black?” She tilted her head.

Jotaro smirked. “Yeah, but they’re good at their jobs.” He looked down at the bleeding, unconscious man and sighed. He lifted Wagner up, slinging him over his shoulder. “C’mon, Shizuka. Let’s slip out before this place is overrun by cops.” He mumbled, walking out of the room.

Shizuka looked at the puddle of blood, shaking a little like before. It wasn’t fear though. It was something different. A burning fire deep within her soul was lit during her last encounter with Wagner. She wondered if she’d ever turn it off again. If she’d ever go back to pranking bullies and defending the elderly. She didn’t feel violent. On the contrary, she wanted to end violence, even if it meant hurting those who caused it. She didn’t fully understand those feelings, but she knew one thing: She wasn’t afraid anymore.

Chapter Text

Monday, July 27th

Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

 

Shizuka absentmindedly fidgeted with the zipper on her bag as she stared up at the ceiling of her hotel room. Jotaro had sent her right in, discussing things with the Speedwagon Foundation Agent in the lobby. She was going insane. So many things had happened, and she demanded answers. Apparently her uncle was a monster hunter or something? He had ties with a super-secret organization that dealt with supernatural threats to society. It sounded like the plot to a movie she wouldn’t bother seeing.

If she was being perfectly honest with herself, there was no real reason to stay. She could just slip away and Jotaro wouldn’t be any the wiser. In fact, if he tried to get her to go home again that would be her plan. She’d never seen Jotaro in action. Sure, her father talked him up to be a real stand-up guy, but from what she’d seen she wasn’t very impressed. Not one bit. She sat up, crossing her arms and huffing. She could at least change . She was still wearing Friday’s clothes, and it was Monday evening. She wouldn’t turn her nose to a night’s sleep in a cozy bed either.

Her thought process was cut short by the door opening. Jotaro walked in, closing the door behind him.

“Wagner’s being kept in a sedated state for the time being. The Speedwagon Foundation has some talented interrogators. They’ll get him to talk. Good find, by the way. You might have saved a lot of people by stepping in when you did.” He mumbled, attempting to make her feel better about Neil. It didn’t work.

Shizuka just looked at him blankly, hopping out of bed and looking through her bag for her toothbrush. “So is that it then? My work’s done?” She questioned.

Jotaro thought for a moment. “If I drag you back to New York, is there any chance in hell you’ll be a normal kid and stay put?”

No.” Shizuka said dryly, giving him the side-eye. “I’ll just leave again, and again, and again. I’m going to the Morioh Grand Hotel. Nothing on Earth but Death himself is gonna stop me.”

The tired man rubbed the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes for a moment. “Then we’ll go.” Is all he said.

Shizuka turned to face him, eyes wide. “Wait, really?” She questioned.

“Yes. For a kid, you’re a real pain. You aren’t giving me many options. Let you get yourself killed, or go with you? Gimme a break.” He groaned.

For a moment, she was annoyed by his tone. Then, she decided not to push her luck. “Alright! I can live with that! When can we go?”

Jotaro sighed, looking out the window into the lobby, watching people pour in. “I make it a general rule of thumb to not get on airplanes for three days after a stand attack. I’ve survived one plane crash, and that’s enough.”

Three days?” Shizuka said in disbelief.

“Yes, three days. I get that you’re eager, but we’re going to do this right. So get something on pay-per-view and call up room service. And before I forget…” He handed her a little device with a big red button. “It’s an emergency beacon. Hold your thumb against it for three seconds, and your location will be texted to my phone. I doubt I have to say this, but don’t use it as a joke.” He waved his hand tiredly, opening the door. “I’ll check in tomorrow. Let me know if you want to go somewhere. We’ll go together.” He mumbled, closing the door behind him.

Shizuka felt torn. On one hand, Jotaro was sacrificing his time for her. He wasn’t even being rude about it. On the other hand, he seemed to be under the impression that he could baby her. He spoke to her with a familiarity that he hadn’t earned, and it irritated her. He was a distant, emotionally unavailable, secretive man who regularly abandoned his family for weeks at a time, if not months. Despite all of that… she really wanted his approval. Something about him just oozed dignity and power. She’d be lying if she said she didn’t look up to him in some way. Still, she’d hardly call him family. She huffed, walking into the bathroom and looking at herself. Black bags were forming under her tired eyes. She looked like shit. Between sleeping in an alley, two Stand battles, being in a hostage situation, and being hospitalized, Shizuka was more than ready for a good night's rest.

She slipped out of her clothes and into the shower. Her hair fell down over her face as the water ran down her pale skin. She groaned, resting her forehead against the wall and staring at the drain. The water’s temperature began to fluctuate, turning much hotter than she meant. She just stood still as it irritated her skin. She was in a state of numbing exhaustion both physically and mentally. After washing herself with the tiny bottle of hotel-provided shampoo and body wash, she stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel. In the mirror, she noticed a series of bruises on her left collarbone. Multiple small indentations on her skin remained as proof of Wagner’s rough handling of her at the hospital. She rested her little fingers on the bruises, staring at herself in the mirror.

“Bastard.” She growled under her breath.

At least she left him with far worse wounds. The murderous conman deserved it. She walked into the bedroom once again, closing the curtains and dropping the towel to the carpet. She grabbed a pair of starry space pajama pants and a Hannah Montana sleepy shirt that was two sizes too big. After that, she crawled into the king-sized bed and burrowed underneath the covers. She turned the lamp off and surrendered to her exhaustion, her body feeling like lead as she sank into the memory foam. Finally, for a fleeting moment, she could rest easy.

 

Tuesday, July 28th

Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

 

Shizuka woke up to the sound of knocking on her door. Her eyes slowly opened, and she groaned. She stretched her legs and closed her eyes once more before rolling out of bed. She opened the door, seeing Jotaro fully dressed with a clean shave. Of course he was a morning person. Why wouldn’t he be? “Hey.” She mumbled groggily, yawning into her palm.

“The hotel stops serving breakfast in twenty minutes. I figured we should eat.” He explained.

She looked up at him with skepticism. To be perfectly frank, she wasn’t too thrilled at the idea of eating with good ol’ Uncle Jotaro. They’d never had any one-on-one time in her entire life. He was just the quiet guy who left Thanksgiving dinner early to answer mysterious phone calls. Even at the early age of six, Shizuka could see the pain in Maura Kujo’s eyes when her husband left the table. She’d always been keenly aware of people’s feelings. It’s why she empathized with the elderly so much. She saw them as an underappreciated, abused group that society cast away the moment they couldn’t work anymore. They’d go out into the world, striking up conversations with complete strangers on subways and flirting with waitresses at restaurants because that was their one opportunity for human contact all day. Many of them had no one anymore. Their friends and families were gone, and nobody wanted them around. It infuriated her to no end. She doubted Jotaro was conscious of them. Despite her eye for people’s inner feelings, he remained a particularly stoic brick as far as she could tell. So why in the hell did he want breakfast with her? Was it because he’d feel guilty if he didn’t make sure Joseph’s daughter ate? Was he going to attempt to talk her out of going to Morioh? What was his angle?

“I’ve gotta get dressed. I’ll see you down there.” She mumbled, closing the door before he could respond.

It took her about two minutes to get dressed. She only packed three outfits in addition to what she wore out the door. She walked out of her room and saw Jotaro waiting at the elevator. The entire hotel was an extremely tall lobby with rooms looking down over a railing onto a beautiful fountain. Shizuka rolled her eyes. He couldn’t just meet her downstairs? She made it to the elevator, watching him. He wasn’t pressing the button. She wasn’t pressing the button. Neither of them were pressing the button. There they were, two assholes standing in front of an elevator; neither of which were pressing buttons. After an agonizing seven seconds, Jotaro extended his finger and pressed “ down” on the pad.

“I figured you’d want to.” He mumbled, walking into the elevator when it arrived.

Shizuka couldn’t figure that one out. Why would she want to hit the elevator button? What was this guy’s deal? They entered the hotel restaurant and got their plates. When they sat down, Shizuka felt like there was nothing to say. Her plate was mostly empty, while he seemed to get a little bit of everything. They ate in silence for five painful minutes. She decided to just bite the bullet and speak. Maybe she could even get some information out of it.

“So… What do you think will happen with Wagner?” She mumbled, pushing scrambled eggs around her plate.

“The Speedwagon Foundation will find out everything he knows. If there’s a stand-related threat that needs dealt with, I’ll take care of it.” Jotaro mumbled, taking a bite when he finished.

Shizuka raised a brow. “Does… the foundation call you in for that kind of thing a lot?”

Jotaro shrugged. “A couple times a year. It’s less frequent now that they have their own Stand Users. There just aren’t many like me.”

“Like you? What can your Stand even do?” She questioned.

He smirked. “I don’t like to talk about it. An enemy knew about it once, and it made things harder.”

She frowned. “Oh, C’mon. Can I at least see it?”

He shook his head. “Let’s hope you never do, kid.”

Shizuka continued to shift her food around her plate. She got a bit of information on her uncle. Primarily that Jotaro wasn’t just abandoning his family for weeks. He was going out and fighting for his life to save others. That changed a few things in her mind. She wanted to ask more, but decided it was a bit heavy for breakfast-talk.

“So… what even is there to do in Amsterdam?” She asked, changing the subject.

“The Van Gogh museum seems interesting.” He took a sip of his black coffee. “I couldn’t go there in good faith, though. We’re on Stand alert. Imagine if something happened to those paintings.”

Well, apparently Jotaro appreciated the fine arts. Shizuka just kept learning things about the guy, huh?

“Tourist destinations aren’t a good idea. Too many people. The chances of running into someone Wagner pricked would be high.” He continued.

“Don’t we want that? So we can stop them before they hurt someone?” She questioned.

Jotaro put down his mug, shaking his head. “Having a stand isn’t a crime, Shizuka. They deserve to live their lives.”

She raised a brow. “But a Stand User could kill so many people.”

“So could a punk with a rifle. That’s not your problem. The only time I get involved is when we know someone plans on causing a lot of harm, and I’m the only one who can stop him. You can’t live your life with a hero complex. If you do, it’ll eat you alive. Any time something bad happens, you’ll blame yourself for not being there. You’re human. That’s it. A doctor has the obligation to help a choking man on the street. He doesn’t have an obligation to follow that man around all day in case he chokes.”

Shizuka shrugged back in her chair, blowing her bangs out of her face and crossing her arms. “You’re talkative today. I don’t think I’ve ever had this long a conversation with you.”

“I’m in a great mood. Can’t you tell?” He asked, sipping his drink and opening up the newspaper.

Shizuka truly couldn’t tell if he was messing with her or not with that last statement. She decided to direct her attention elsewhere. She always enjoyed people-watching in public spaces. Everyone had their own agenda… It was fascinating to witness. However, she couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of people walked in the surrounding crowd. Were they kind people? Did they mean anyone harm? Could they even be with Wagner’s organization? Stand Users attracted one another, after all. It would be entirely possible that danger was lurking in the hotel.

As her eyes wandered the crowd, she couldn’t help but notice something odd. Another girl was looking directly at Shizuka’s table. They met eyes for just a moment, but it felt like an eternity. There was something there… A recognition. The eye contact was piercing and intense. The girl was much older than Shizuka, but not quite an adult. She had pink and blonde hair done up in a messy bun, and wore casual clothing. If Shizuka had to guess, she’d pin the girl at about sixteen.

The eye contact had been going on for far too long. The girl stood up abruptly, grabbing her bag and walking into the bathroom. Jotaro noticed Shizuka’s expression and grunted.

“Do you see something suspicious?” He asked.

Shizuka stood without a word, oddly drawn to the bathroom. “I was just looking for the restaurant’s bathroom.. I’ll be right back.” She mumbled, walking across the large room and entering the girl’s restroom.

She walked inside, looking around for a moment. She was met by the girl standing with her back to the far wall.

“Leave me alone.” The stranger panted, looking left and right like a cornered animal.

“Do I know you?” Shizuka questioned, tilting her head. “You were staring at me. Then you ran away.”

“I said stay away! Or I’ll scream. I know what you and your friend did. I know everything… But I’m not going to tell anyone. I just want to go home. My flight leaves tomorrow. Just let me go home.” Tears ran down her cheeks. She spoke in a british accent, vaguely reminding Shizuka of Joseph. Of course, his accept was buried by six decades of the American dream. This girl’s was thick and recognizable.

Shizuka just stared in confusion. “Uhm… Ok? Whatever you think I did… I didn’t.. And I’m sorry that you’re so afraid of me. You can get on your plane.” She shrugged, unable to really calculate the best way out of the conversation.

The girl looked surprised. “Then… Then go. So I can leave.” She cleared her throat.

Shizuka nodded, walking out of the bathroom. She immediately turned invisible, waiting for the girl to come out. Eventually, she did. The invisible girl followed her target out of the restaurant and into the elevator. She was a master at being silent. Soon, they arrived in the girl’s bedroom. She barely slipped through the door before the stranger closed it. It wasn’t like Shizuka’s bedroom. It was a suite with luggage for two. A man’s suit laid across an ironing board, and an assortment of ties hung from the bathroom’s doorknob. Like a fly on the wall, Shizuka watched the mystery girl sit on the bed and grip her face. She was panting, then slowly let out a sob.

“Dad...” She sniffled, crying into her hands.

Shizuka was thoroughly confused. However, she only wanted to see if this girl was in any immediate danger, or if she posed a threat to herself and Jotaro. It seemed like neither of those were the case. All she needed was an exit plan. She crept over to the bathroom, seeing a bottle of shampoo resting dangerously close to the edge of its shelf. Shizuka knocked it over, quickly scurrying out of the way. The older girl walked over to the bathroom to investigate. While she did so, Shizuka slipped out of the suite and back to the elevator.

Through the glass elevator, she watched Jotaro as he sat at the table within the hotel restaurant. She exited on the first floor and found a good place to turn visible once more. Then, she approached the table and sat back down. “Long line.” She sighed.

Jotaro put down his mug. “So you decided to use the bathroom in your room instead?” He asked casually.

Shizuka raised a brow. “I mean…” She mumbled.

“Funny how the elevator went down all on its own. Huh?” He shrugged. “Why were you invisible?” He questioned, trying to get her to fess up.

She sighed. “Okay, okay. I get it. You’re always watching. Even when it doesn’t look like you’re watching, you’re watching.

“So, is the girl a stand user?” He mumbled, reading the paper.

“No.. I just got a weird vibe from her. She didn’t seem very weird when she was alone in her room, though. She was just crying about her dad.” Shizuka admitted.

“General kid stuff.” Jotaro sighed, closing the paper. “I’d scold you for following a suspicious person without me, but I get the feeling it won’t help. Just be careful.” He pushed his plate away, finished with breakfast.

“She was really afraid of us. In the bathroom, she begged me to let her leave the city. It was like she was begging for her life.” Shizuka said grimly.

“She must have the wrong people. We’ve never even met her. But if you can’t get it off your mind, we can look into her.” Jotaro shrugged.

“How would we do that?” She tilted her head.

“Well, you know her room. If we checked the name the room’s under, I could run it by some resources of mine. Just so we have a clear conscious.” He offered.

“I don’t think they’d just tell us her name. Isn’t that like… breaking privacy?” Shizuka mumbled shyly.

Jotaro just smirked. “And entering her room isn’t? Just go invisible and check the records. I’ll talk to the front desk worker and distract her.”

“Alright,” Shizuka stood, fixing her skirt. “No harm in checking, right?”

“Right.” Jotaro stood as well, walking over to the front desk.

While he distracted the woman, Shizuka turned invisible and helped herself behind the forbidden point that only staff was allowed to cross. She was at the computer, only a few feet from the woman. As quietly as she could, she slid the mouse over to the “search” box and double clicked it.

The woman at the desk, smiled as she answered Jotaro’s question. “I can look that up for you, Sir. One moment.”

Shizuka’s eyes widened. She stumbled to the side, narrowly avoiding contact with the woman. She braced herself by gripping the table, knocking a coffee mug right off. It was all over… She’d be revealed… Then, in the blink of an eye, the mug was back on the table. Shizuka had to stare for a moment. Had she imagined hitting it? She was certain. But it all happened so fast. That’s when she saw Jotaro looking at the mug. Did he do something to stop it from falling? Shizuka couldn’t help but smile.

The woman walked back to the front desk, smiling at Jotaro. Shizuka ignored the conversation and tip-toed back to the computer. She typed the room number in, nervously licking her lips as she waited for it to load. Eventually, there was one result. She clicked it, and felt her heart sink. The suite was purchased on Friday for seven days. The debit card on record belonged to one “Neil Archer.”

Shizuka backed away from the computer, sliding out from the staff area and holding her hand against her heart as it beated faster and faster. She tugged at Jotaro’s coat, walking around the nearest corner and leaning against the wall. She became invisible once more, panting as she slid down the wall. Jotaro quickly followed.

“What’s wrong? Did you get the name?” He questioned.

“I already know it… It’s his daughter, Jotaro. Neil Archer’s daughter is staying at the hotel.” She mumbled, feeling sick to her stomach.

Jotaro just looked down for a moment in thought. “That could explain why she was afraid of us… She could have been at the hospital.”

“What are the odds we’d have the same hotel?” Shizuka asked, bewildered.

“High. This is one of the nicest hotels in the country. Neil Archer was an English millionaire. He had high standards. So do I. It’s not a surprise we’d pick the same place.” Jotaro mumbled, rubbing his chin.

“We have to help her. I have to help her. I owe her.” Shizuka pushed herself off the wall, standing tall with purpose.

“That’s not even the worst part.” He mumbled. “Neil was pierced by a fragment of a Stand arrow. That means all of his descendants were granted Stand abilities too.”

Shizuka’s eyes widened. “W-Wait, does that mean she could be dying too?” She gasped.

“No. My mother was cursed with a stand she couldn’t handle. We killed the man who pierced himself, and it freed her from the curse. I kept my Stand, but she didn’t. The only way this girl would have one is if she was strong enough to handle it.” He explained.

“So you’re saying we don’t even know if she has a Stand? Would she know?” Shizuka asked.

Jotaro thought for a moment. “I manifested Star Platinum for the first time almost a year after DIO pierced himself… There’s almost no way she’s aware of her ability yet.”

“Then we can’t let her go back to England. What if she runs into an enemy? She needs to know what she’s getting into.” Shizuka put her foot down.

“Shizuka, what about going to Morioh? This girl isn’t your responsibility.” Jotaro asked, knowing that she had made her mind up. In all honesty, he fully planned on helping her. He just wanted to see if Shizuka would stick to her guns.

“Morioh’s not going anywhere. I couldn’t save Neil. The least I can do is help his daughter.” She sighed.

Jotaro noticed something in the distance, raising a brow. “Well.. She’s leaving the hotel with a suitcase.” He mumbled.

Shizuka squeaked, turning around. “She’s getting away! We’ve gotta stop her.” She sprinted over to the door.

Jotaro tried to grab her, but failed. “Yare Yare… Sure, let’s chase the girl who’s terrified of us.”

 

Marina Archer was speed-walking out of the hotel, wheeling her suitcase behind her as she looked for the taxi she called. That’s when she heard a tiny voice shout “Stop!” from behind. She turned and saw Shizuka giving chase. Marina shrieked, sprinting down the sidewalk and dipping into an alley to avoid the pursuer. She was heaving, sniffling as she feared what would happen if they got a hold of her.

She’d already lost her father to these bastards. How much more did they plan to take? What did they even want? Neil had told her that he was meeting a dangerous man for something very important. She never thought in a million years that he’d end up dead. And now they wanted her too? She wouldn’t have it. She refused. Her suitcase was slowing her down. She let go, sprinting as fast as she could down the alley. She came out the other side into busy traffic.

Jotaro, being a grown man in killer shape, very quickly caught up to Shizuka. He even had to slow down to stay next to her. Still, he could see the determination in her eyes. She was hellbent on catching up with the girl. They made it to the end of the alley. Jotaro brought Star Platinum out, looking for their target. “You’ve gotta be shitting me.” He mumbled.

“What!?” Shizuka questioned, unable to see above the cars.

“She’s running against oncoming traffic.”

Marina was sprinting through the road. Cars honked, swerved, and narrowly missed hitting her as she bolted through the busy street. She could feel a confidence swelling in her stomach. A certainty that she’d be okay. She knew nobody would chase her down her current suicidal path.

“Shizuka, I’m going to pick you up. I need you to close your eyes and trust me.” Is all he said, Star Platinum lifting her effortlessly.

Then, in a flash, they were on the other side of the road. Jotaro fell to his knees, coughing and wheezing. He’d frozen time for four seconds, sprinting the entire time as he weaved through the cars. It was nearly too much for him to take. Freezing the flow of time was hard enough, but the physical labor inside his world was incredibly taxing. “ Go.” He growled, waving a hand. “I’ll be right there… Just go.”

Shizuka had no idea what just happened. They were somehow on the other side. That was all that mattered. Jotaro really was something else. He didn’t have to tell her twice. She kicked off her pretty black flats. They were just slowing her down. Her bare feet pattered against the sidewalk as she sprinted as fast as she could. Her feet burned and stung, but she didn’t care.

Marina ran into another alley, noticing a manhole. She didn’t care about grime at that moment. She attempted to lift it up, but failed. It weighed nearly two-hundred-fifty pounds after all. Shizuka bounded around the corner, pointing at Marina. “ HEY!” She shouted.

Marina backed away from the girl, hitting a chain link fence. She was cornered… There was no escape. So why, despite the horrible odds, did she feel so confident? So positive in her victory? What was that feeling boiling in her gut. She felt nothing more than the desire to live. The desire to protect herself. She slouched over, beginning to emit a pink energy. Shizuka raised a brow, taking a small step back and cautiously drawing Achtung Baby.

“I don’t wanna fight. I just need to talk.” Shizuka reasoned.

Marina was far beyond reason. She growled, lashing out. She thrashed her entire torso toward Shizuka. The young girl could barely see a faint fist fly toward her through the air. Achtung Baby blocked the attack. Was that the girl’s Stand taking form? That wasn’t good… Marina was clearly having a breakdown. Her fighting spirit was tearing itself free, enraged by the death of her father and the fear that drove her to this point. Another punch soared through the air. Shizuka barely dodged the second one, stepping further away.

“You just had to leave me alone…. Alone… Alone…” Marina groaned, raising her hands to her face, dragging her nails along her cheeks as she stared up. “But you couldn’t. You killed my father, and now you want me… But you can’t have me. I’ll send you flying back to where you came from.”

A gust of pure force blew Shizuka back an entire foot, her hair getting in her face as she stared in surprise by the display of power before her. Marina’s Stand had fully appeared. It was tall, long, and muscular. It looked like a body-building woman, but lacked facial features, hair, or eyes. It had a red lipstick mark on its cheek, and wore a tilted pink baseball cap. It had a pink jersey on, and seemed to have a sleek, smooth form everywhere else.

Marina scowled, heaving as she felt the rush of power coursing through her veins. She didn’t understand what was happening, but she embraced it. She didn’t feel afraid. She felt strong. For the first time in her life she felt in control. “This power… Her name is Bubblegum Bitch. . ” She said softly, staring at her Stand in appreciation. “And she’s invincible.”

Shizuka wouldn’t go that far quite yet, but she was honestly a little worried. “How about we put our Stands away and talk? There’s been a misunderstanding.” She reasoned, letting Achtung Baby disappear.

Marina just took advantage of the opening. Bubblegum Bitch snapped her fingers and manifested a baseball bat. Then, she swung it with full force. Shizuka raised her right arm to cover her face, catching the brunt of the attack with her forearm. She groaned in pain, looking at her arm. Her jaw dropped, and her gut twisted when she saw her arm. It had lost all of its definition and form. She could no longer lift it. It swung uselessly to her side, like there were no bones within it at all. It swished around, jiggling as it hung from her shoulder.

“Okay… so that bat is trouble.” She gritted her teeth, ducking under the next swing. Achtung Baby swiftly appeared, kicking at Bubblegum Bitch and forcing her to step back. Shizuka used this opportunity to stumble back as well, lifting her jelly arm with her functional left hand. She tried to pull away, but couldn’t. “You have got to be kidding me…” She groaned. Her hand was stuck to her bubblegum arm… She was completely disabled, unable to attack without use of her hands. She jumped back, narrowly avoiding another swing of Bubblegum Bitch’s bat.

“Are you scared?” Marina asked, huffing in anger. “Was my dad scared?”

“I didn’t kill your dad! I tried to save him!” Shizuka spat.

Liar!” Marina screamed, swinging again and again at the tiny girl.

Shizuka was nearly at her wit’s end as she stumbled back as far as she could go. She was at the edge of the road, staring her opponent down. That’s when Jotaro caught up.

Shizuka! ” He shouted, Star Platinum ready to attack as he stood beside her. “What happened?”

“The bat. Don’t let the bat hit you.” She panted, showing her compromised arms.

Jotaro adjusted his hat, looking at Marina. “I’m guessing she’s too angry to talk?” He mumbled, walking over to the girl. Bubblegum Bitch swing her bat, and Star Platinum easily dodged it, slapping her arm out of the way and jabbing her in the stomach. Marina stumbled back, coughing as she gripped her own stomach. Jotaro decided to end it right there. He’d beat the girl just enough that she couldn’t fight anymore. Then they could talk. Star Platinum sent a flurry of soft punches at the Stand, each hit connecting as it pummeled her relentlessly for about three seconds.

Marina didn’t seem phased this time, however. In fact, Bubblegum Bitch just hovered in front of Jotaro motionlessly. Then, out of nowhere, its skin began to protrude forward in the shape of fists, perfectly replicating each punch from Star Platinum. Jotaro’s eyes widened, and he began to block them to the best of his ability. Star Platinum was so busy blocking its own attacks that it barely noticed the bat swinging in. It managed to block it once again, letting one of the reflected punches hit Jotaro right in the face. He grunted, and the rest of the flurry got him. He fell back, holding his nose. It was bleeding, and his body swayed a little as he stood.

“She’s got more than one ability… Offensive, and defensive.” He growled, shaking his hand dry as blood ran down his chin. “How’s your arm feeling?”

Shizuka tried to move it, unable to even feel the limp sticky limb anymore. “Getting worse…? Or maybe the same? I’m not sure.

Jotaro just groaned. “This is annoying. Star Platinum: The World!” He shouted as his stand flexed. Time froze once more. Jotaro swiftly walked around Bubblegum Bitch and looked at Marina. “Yare yare… Now I’ve gotta beat up a kid.” He sighed.

Star Platinum raised a fist, slamming it into Marina’s head. He had immense control of his strength, and made sure to only hit her hard enough to knock her out. Time resumed, and he watched as her face rippled just like her stand did before. His eyes widened. “What!?” He grunted, raising Star Platinum to block the incoming attack. He managed to block it, but could feel how vulnerable he was. Sure enough, Bubblegum Bitch’s bat struck him from behind. It hit him in the head, causing him to fall and land on the pavement. He coughed in pain, trying to get up. That’s when he realized that, much like Shizuka’s hand, his head was stuck to the pavement. Star Platinum swung a fist at Marina, and she stared at him calmly. The Stand’s fist stopped inches from her face. She couldn’t help but smile.

“No, go ahead. It worked out well the last couple of times. Hit me, macho man.” She laughed, posing with her Stand.

Jotaro clenched his fists, trying with all his might to tear his head off the pavement. This wasn’t good. Her stand was seemingly invincible. Blunt force attacks weren’t doing anything. This was why Jotaro despised the Stand Arrow. It could turn unassuming teenage girls into unstoppable killing machines. He looked for Shizuka, only to notice that she was nowhere to be seen. Had she turned invisible? Did she have a plan? He decided to buy her as much time as he could.

“You’re getting pissed at the wrong person… Your dad met with a man named Wagner. He’s the one who killed him. Not us.” He groaned.

Marina kicked him in the stomach, probably being the only person in the world who could get away with doing that for the time being. “Liar! I saw you at the hospital when everything went to hell! I saw her too! I saw you carrying a bloody, unconscious man through the hallway without  a care in the world!”

“That bloody, unconscious man was Wagner. We got him. He used his power to resurrect the morgue and attack innocent people. We were trying to stop him.” He explained, his head beginning to feel numb.

“Then why didn’t you save my dad? Why should I believe a single ounce of your bullshit!?”

Hey. ” Shizuka called out from behind, appearing with a large container of liquid. Her arm was back to normal, and she had full use of both hands.

Marina turned to face her, tilting her head. “What’s tha-” She was interrupted by Shizuka dowsing her in the liquid. It smelled bad, yet familiar. Then, Achtung Baby socked Marina right in the face. The attack didn’t reflect. She just cupped her nose in pain. “What the hell!?” She shouted.

“It’s vinegar. You kinda gave it away by naming your Stand Bubblegum Bitch. It made me think, how do you get gum out of your hair?” She smirked, swinging the jug and getting more vinegar on Marina.

The older girl stumbled back, coughing and wiping her eyes. “My power can be nullified by that?” She questioned.

Star Platinum grabbed both her shoulders, slamming her against the wall. “Every Stand has a weakness.” Jotaro groaned.

Shizuka poured the vinegar on Jotaro’s head, and he slowly lifted himself off the pavement. His nose wrinkled, and he sighed. “Great, now I smell like a kitchen.”

The two stood over Marina, Stands ready to attack. She held her hands up in defeat. “Wait, wait, wait! I’m sorry! We can talk! I’ll listen!” She begged.

Jotaro sighed, offering her a hand. “Alright, that’s what we’ve wanted this whole time.”

Marina accepted his hand, smiling. Then, as he lifted her up, Bubblegum Bitch appeared and swung at him. Before she could connect, however, she was struck in the head by Achtung Baby. Shizuka slammed Marina’s head against the wall, knocking her unconscious.

“More like Bubble-dumb bitch.” She mumbled under her breath.

Jotaro couldn’t help but smirk, letting out a soft chuckle. “That was a good one.” He stood up once again, looking down at the unconscious girl.

“How are we supposed to help her if she’s trying to kill us?” Shizuka asked with a frown.

Jotaro fixed his hat, looking the girl over in thought. “She was in shock, probably suffering from minor PTSD, and suddenly gained the power to face her fears head on. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s calmed down when she wakes up.”

“I hope you’re right.” She mumbled.

“The only thing is, I really don’t wanna carry a bleeding girl through the city and into my hotel room. That wouldn’t look good.” He sighed, lifting her up.

“Oh, that’s easy. Look!” Achtung Baby tapped Marina’s body, turning her invisible.

Jotaro smirked. “Well, that’s that. C’mon. Let’s get back to the hotel.” He mumbled, walking out of the alley.

Chapter Text

Tuesday, July 28th

Renaissance Amsterdam Hote l

 

Time… It was a complicated thing. Many argue that “time” is merely a concept created by man to explain the passing of days and the sequence of events in our lives. To refer to it as a tangible, physical thing that flowed along with us? Well, many would say that’s foolish. It’s true, most people are merely ravaged by time, longing for days long since passed. It’s not something that can be fought, tamed, or touched. We are all hostages of time. Lambs standing on a conveyor belt leading to the inevitable meat grinder at the end… Jotaro Kujo, on the other hand, could exist outside of time. If only for a brief moment, he could step off the conveyor belt and watch from the other side. He could grab, bend, and manipulate time to his will. Surely, such a power would change a man’s life. The things he could accomplish with an ability like that were too numerous to count. Still, instead of being where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do, he was sitting in a hotel room, absolutely covered with vinegar, watching an unconscious woman while his adoptive aunt showered in the other room. His flip phone beeped, causing his eyes to glance down at his coat pocket.

He slowly lifted the device from his pocket and eyed it over, noting that it was also wet from the vinegar bath. He groaned, flipping it open and looking at his notification. His stomach sank when he saw who it was from. It was simple, blunt, and painful.

Maura Kujo: Where in the hell are you? You can’t just drop divorce papers off at my office and disappear like it’s nothing. Call me. Now.

He sighed, resting his forehead against his phone. He had no idea what to tell her. What did she want from him? The truth? She might believe that she wanted the truth, but she didn’t. She really, truly didn’t. If he told her the truth, she’d never sleep again. He certainly struggled, and he was the powerful one. If she knew that every moment he spent in that house was a beacon for danger, she’d have divorced him years ago. He had to let her go. It was stupid to get involved with a woman in the first place. Stand Users didn’t get happily ever afters. The only case he knew of was Joseph, and his wife spent years working with supernatural martial artists. Maura was normal. Human. Perfectly unremarkable in the most pleasant way. He loved his time with her. He loved her. But he couldn’t share that life with her. Eventually, when he let his guard down for a moment, danger would strike. He just knew it. At least when he was away, there was no threat of enemy stands killing them all in their sleep. In fact…

He lifted his head, looking Marina over with disdain. Another loose end. Another problem… He rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration and exhaustion. Then, his phone beeped again.

Maura Kujo: Jotaro… Your daughter has been hanging around with gangsters and criminals. She won’t listen to me anymore. I know she’s getting into more trouble than I can handle alone. I need my partner. I need you. Even if we’re not together anymore, we need to help her. So pick up the damn phone and be a father for once.

His fingers hovered over the keypad, and for a moment he truly considered responding. Maybe Jolyne was biting off more than she could chew? Was Shizuka’s conflict more important than his own daughter? Was watching Marina really the best use of his day? As he thought about it, Shizuka finished up in the bathroom. She walked out, still drying her hair with a towel as she adjusted her new clothes. She noticed Jotaro’s expression and raised a brow.

“Everything okay, Uncle Jotaro?” She asked, easily identifying his conflicted state.

He closed his phone swiftly, putting it into his pocket and nodding. “I was just waiting for you. We need to talk.”

Shizuka always hated that phrase. It was always the harbinger of bad news and hurt feelings. She nodded her head, dreading whatever he had to say. “Yeah, sure. What’s up?”

Jotaro looked at Marina, then to Shizuka. “I think you’re taking on a lot. You want to fight your way to the Morioh Grand Hotel and learn about your biological parents? That’s fine. But you’re also getting invested in the Archer family. What’s next? Let’s say Marina wakes up and vows to avenge her father? Will you follow her on that mission?” He asked without a hint of resentment or sarcasm. He was truly questioning her motives, plain and simple.

Shizuka dug her heel into the carpet, shrugging. “I haven’t really thought that far. Hermit Purple pointed me in a direction. I’m gonna follow it until something else pops up. If Marina wants to face the man who killed her father, we can take her to him. Right?” She mumbled.

Jotaro just adjusted his hat, resting back in his chair. “I guess that’s possible.” He mumbled, out of character.

Shizuka noticed. “Is something wrong? You seem off.”

He stood up, stretching his legs. “I need to change. Press the emergency button if she wakes up. I’ll be back in five minutes.” He mumbled, walking out of the room with a short wave of the hand.

Shizuka frowned, looking over at the unconscious girl and sighing. She plopped down in the chair Jotaro was occupying, huffing with her arms crossed as she slumped in boredom. Sure, the man seemed aloof, but she didn’t exactly know him too well. Maybe he was just constipated. She was more worried about the woman in front of her. Cruel time droned on, and Shizuka felt like she was going to scream out of boredom. Then her ears perked up when she heard a soft sound. What was it? She narrowed her eyes at the girl and sat up. Was it possible that Marina had woken up, and was pretending to sleep while she awaited an opportunity. Better safe than sorry. Shizuka reached behind her and grabbed a water pistol filled with vinegar, aiming it at the sleeping enemy.

Don’t. ” Shizuka growled.

After about ten seconds of dead silence, Marina sighed. Bubblegum Bitch appeared beside the bed, her bat slung over her shoulder. “Where’d you get a water gun?” She groaned.

“Gift shop.” Shizuka said plainly, shrugging.

“Lovely…” Marina leaned back in bed, crossing her legs and looking around. “So, where’s Mr. Punchy Punch Teleports-A-Lot?” She questioned with a huff. “Out pricking innocent blokes with super-power-serum?”

Shizuka wasn’t impressed. “It’s not a serum, first of all. It’s a fragment of an arrow. Also, Mr. Punchy doesn’t work for those guys. We’re completely uninvolved. In fact, we were trying to stop the guy at the hospital.”

“Oh really? Super Man and his two-foot-tall sidekick fighting zombies in a hospital? Forgive me if I’m skeptical. It reads like a fifth-grade creative writing assignment.” She groaned, eyes darting over to the door. “If you’re really good guys, why am I here against my will?”

Shizuka laughed. “You kind of tried to kill us in that alley, remember?”

“If I recall, I was running away from you. You and Goliath chased me for a solid two minutes before I was cornered. Doesn’t seem very noble, ey?” She mumbled dryly.

“I was just trying to help, okay? We realized that you had the same power we do. The power that got your dad killed. It’s not a coincidence that we’re both here. Stand Users always run into each other. We figured it’d be best to stick with you before something bad happened.”

Stands? ” Marina raised a brow. “That’s what you call them? Why…?”

Shizuka was at a loss. “ That’s what you’re hung up on? The word Stand?”

The blonde simply nodded.

“Well… They stand behind you… Y’know?” The young girl tried to explain.

“Mine appears to be floating.” Marina countered.

Shizuka pulled the trigger, squirting Marina right in the face with vinegar. The girl spat, blocking her face and cursing. Shizuka just grunted. “Are you done?”

We’re done. I’m leaving right now. If you’re such good people, I’m sure you’ll let me go.” Marina said confidently, standing up and walking toward the door. Suddenly, she was on the bed again.

It took Shizuka’s eyes a moment to adjust. Standing in front of the door was suddenly Jotaro and Star Platinum. The door was even closed. Where did he come from? Shizuka was beginning to piece Star Platinum's power together, but wasn't entire sure on the specifics. It seemed to be able to accomplish a great deal in the blink of the eye. Could it really be what she thought it was? Surely not. Stands couldn't possibly be that strong. Meanwhile, Jotaro just growled and looked at Marina with irritation. 

“You’re not going anywhere. We need to talk.”

Marina’s face had a small trace of fear on it for the first time since the chase began. Shizuka watched as the girl tried to comprehend what just happened. It must have been truly disorienting. She looked a tad more humble than before, waiting for Jotaro to continue.

“Your dad, Neil Archer? He was killed by Stefan Wagner two days ago. He was trying to purchase a Stand. Wagner didn’t fill him in on the details, though. If you don’t have a fighting spirit alongside an iron will, your stand will cannibalize you. It varies from person to person, but your father died pretty quick after the cut. Shizuka was there. She tried to save him, and even fought Wagner head on. She’s the one who beat the shit out of him at the hospital yesterday. Because of her, Wagner’s been taken into custody by a foundation focused on the paranormal. Any questions?” Jotaro explained concisely.

Once again, Marina said nothing. It took a few seconds for her mind to process all of that information at once. She looked over to Shizuka, piecing everything together. “Wait, so you’re Shizuka?” She mumbled, catching up.

“Uh huh. Nice to meet you.”

“Why do you have an American accent?” Marina questioned, raising a brow.

“I’m American.” She mumbled, shrugging.

“But you’re Japanese. And he’s got a Japanese accent. Isn’t he your dad?”

Shizuka couldn’t help but laugh. “What? No! He’s my Uncle. Actually, he’s my adoptive nephew, technically. We’re not related by blood. Super cool of you to assume things though.”

“Well I don’t know! I thought this was some kind of fucked up ‘Bring your kid to work day’ or something. Excuse me.” Marina sighed, rubbing her forehead.

Jotaro chimed in, getting a little irritated with the pace of the conversation. “Like it or not, you’ve got a Stand now. The arrow gives all of your living descendants Stand abilities. That’s how you got it. That means you’re gonna run into trouble sometimes. I’ve found that it’s easier if you don’t travel. Less likely to run into strangers that way.”

“It’s true.” Shizuka mumbled. “I’ve never left the states until this week, and I went my whole life without running into another Stand User.”

“So wait, you’re telling me that I could run into them anywhere? Why would they want to fight me? I haven’t done anything.” Marina protested.

Jotaro adjusted his hat, sighing. “We didn’t do anything either, and you still almost killed us. Misunderstandings happen every day. Add superpowers to the mix and you’ve got a mess.”

“So what? Go to work every day and hope the cute new secretary won’t melt my face or something?” She questioned, the stress clear on her face.

“Something like that. It’s the price of power.” Jotaro mumbled grimly. “Isolation and anxiety. But hey, you’re strong.”

Shizuka pinned a mental note to bring that up later. She was beginning to get the idea that something was seriously wrong in Jotaro’s personal life. Unfortunately, Marina was the bigger problem at that very moment. “Do you have any family besides Neil?” She asked softly.

Marina had to think for a moment, everything feeling like a blur. Part of her mind hadn’t even processed her father’s death. Sure, she knew he was gone, but she hadn’t gotten as far as to consider life without him in the long term. “Uhm..” She mumbled, sitting back a bit. “An Aunt in Wales, but I’m not moving there.” She sighed, wiping under her eye for a moment. “I suppose Dad’s wealth goes to me.. I don’t really need someone to stay with.”

“How old are you?” Jotaro asked.

“I turn nineteen next month. Fully independent, if I have to be.” She mumbled. “There isn’t a chance that you two are just fucking with me, right? No possibility that life can just go on as normal?” She asked, voice trembling a bit.

Shizuka shook her head somberly. “No, sorry..”

Marina sniffled once, wiping her eye again before lifting her chin. “Okay then. That’s life, isn’t it? Always an adventure.” She rubbed her hands together. “Thank you both for filling me in. If you don’t mind, I’d like some time to think.” She slowly walked to the door, stopping in front of Jotaro. “Mind if I pass, Gandalf?” She asked tiredly.

Jotaro stepped out of the way, watching the girl exit the room and walk down the hall. He crossed his arms, thinking to himself.

Shizuka just frowned, hugging her knees in the big chair. “She’s not okay.” She mumbled.

Jotaro pushed the door shut. “She’ll be fine. You did a lot for her, Shizuka. You’re a real stand up kid. But everyone’s problems aren’t yours to solve. No Stand can fix what she’s going through.” He mumbled.

“Mine sure can’t. It can only hide things.” She sighed, sitting up. “You really think she’ll be okay on her own?”

“She’s got an Aunt in Wales if she needs anything. Just relax a bit. I need to make some calls. I’ll get you for dinner.” He opened the door, looking at her closely for a moment. “You’re pale. Call room service. You didn’t actually eat this morning.” He sighed, closing the door behind him as he walked away.

Shizuka was once again shocked by his consideration. He noticed she was hungry? She didn’t even notice that. Well, not until he pointed it out. To be honest, the sound of food was pretty appealing. She rolled off the chair and fumbled over to the bedside table lazily. Under the protective laminate glass was a room service menu. She followed the number with her finger, grabbing the phone. She was actually starving. The last real meal she enjoyed was on the plane. For a little bit, she decided to focus on herself. Marina would be fine. She just knew it.

 

Wednesday, July 29th

Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

 

Despite going to bed with a fully-happy stomach for the first time in days, Shizuka didn’t rest easy. Her dreams were haunted by strange visions and sounds. She was trapped between the states of waking and slumber. Her mind drifted along, filled with anxiety and confusion. It felt like she was out of her body. In the distance, she could hear the faint sound of music. It was strange… The sort you’d hear at a theme park or something. Maybe… Carnival like? She couldn’t place it. Then, there was a hum. The hum came from a lovely, soothing, beautiful woman’s voice. The humming became louder, filling Shizuka’s head with pleasant music. She’d honestly never felt more at peace. Her eyes opened, and she saw herself floating in a blue void. Random static images surrounded her as far as the eye could see. People typing away at computers, sleeping, walking, kissing, laughing… She could see these moments frozen in time. Their faces were all too detailed… It couldn’t be a dream. Her subconscious mind began to wander, considering how such a thing could be possible. That’s when the humming became singing.

And the seasons… they go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down.. We’re captive on a carousel of time…” The lovely voice sang.

Those lyrics were familiar to Shizuka. Like she’d heard them before. She couldn’t think straight, though… Everything was a blur. The images before her began to smear and drag across her vision. Static filled her ears as the singing got louder.

We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came… And go round and round and round in the circle game….” The woman sang.

Shizuka’s head began to slowly tilt and turn to the music, spinning in a sort of hypnosis. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she could barely think. Voices joined the woman, singing the soothing melody in the void. It was an impossible feeling to describe. Tears streamed down Shizuka’s cheeks, and she slowly began to sob. She wasn’t sad, though. Quite the contrary. She’d never felt at such peace. She’d never felt so complete. She had never felt so happy….

And go round, and round, and round in the circle game…” She woman sang.

Shizuka opened her eyes, and saw that the void had been replaced by green hills. She didn’t recognize her surroundings… They were moving around her like some sort of projection chamber, sweeping over the hills and through a rustic town. Eventually she found herself staring down at a lovely, expensive English manor. She saw a sign at the end of the path leading to the home. Her eyes took a moment to adjust after crying, but eventually she read “Joestar Manor.” Shizuka didn’t exactly have a common last name. No, she knew with absolute certainty that whoever owned this estate was related to her. Then, in the same blurry sweeping motion, her surroundings shifted to a wonderful bedroom. From the decor, she had to assume it was inside the same building she was just admiring. The door flew open, and a young man with purple hair, a strong chin, and passionate eyes walked in. He closed the door, leaning his back against it. Tears began to well in his fiery, willed eyes.

“Dio…. you damn fool.” He whispered, wiping his eyes.

Dio? Shizuka could vaguely remember that name. She’d heard her father mention it once or twice while on the phone. Was he a relative? A rival? Why was the young man dressed like that? He was wearing a full suit and tie, despite looking to be only a year older than Shizuka. Things didn’t seem to be adding up. The young man walked right through Shizuka and approached his desk. He touched a framed painting and sniffled. It seemed to be a lovely piece of art of the boy and his dog.

“Danny.. You didn't deserve that.” Jonathan sniffled, putting the painting face-down so he didn’t have to look at his deceased companion.

Shizuka wanted to approach the crying boy, but she couldn’t seem to control her environment, nor her body. She could only watch what was before her, like a movie. There was a knock on the door. She watched the boy stiffen up, clearing his throat and standing. “Yes?” He called toward the door.

“Jonathan,” A gravely, mature voice began. The door opened, revealing a tall man dressed just as nicely as the child. “My boy.. We need to talk about Danny.” He sighed.

Jonathan balled his fists, but wouldn’t dare speak up against his father. “Yes, Father?” He asked softly.

“Dio is horrifically offended by your accusations. And, I must admit, I can’t say I blame him. What makes you think he’d do such a thing?” George asked, closing the door for privacy.

“Father, Dio’s been trying to upstage me since he got here… He resents me, and I don’t know why! I’ve only tried to befriend him. He’s tortured my social life, turned everyone against me, and shamed a local girl just to spite me!” Jonathan explained, clearly distressed.

“Do you have proof of any of that, boy? You can’t just say something and make it so. If you can prove that boy has done such things, I’d send him to boarding school. But Dio has been nothing but a high-class gentleman since his arrival. I can’t help but think…” George paused, regretting what he was about to say. “I can’t help.. But think you’re merely jealous of Dio. He’s charismatic, a hit with everyone he meets.. Could it be that he simply won that girl’s favor over you?” The father asked, sounding somewhat ashamed to ask these questions.

“He killed my dog, Father! I know it was him! He’s a mad man! You must believe me!” Jonathan begged.

George looked even more pained. “My boy, the mail delivery man admitted to locking your dog in the furnace.” He sighed.

Jonathan’s entire posture dropped. His shoulder slumped, and he looked defeated. Still, his face showed profound confusion, along with disappointment. “W-What?” He mumbled.

“He said that Danny sprinted at him out of nowhere. He felt threatened, and was backed against the furnace. He was trying to defend himself.” He explained.

Jonathan couldn’t believe it. He stepped back, sitting down at the chair by his desk. “The mail boy…? He’s the one?” He mumbled under his breath. “I was sure that Dio was the culprit…”

“Get some rest, my boy. I know it’s hard, sharing so much with someone you know so little. But I hope you and Dio will grow close. Your mother and I weren’t able to give you siblings… Maybe this is a blessing in disguise?” George smiled.

“Maybe..” Jonathan sighed, looking down at the carpet. “Goodnight, Father. Thank you for clearing that up.”

“Of course, son. I’ll see you at breakfast. I love you.” He walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

Shizuka could only watch as Jonathan wiped his eyes, sniffling once more. He stood, stumbling over to his bed. Then, he buried his face in his pillow and began to cry. That dog was everything to him. He was an only child, and formed an unbreakable bond with Danny. The fact that his best friend was gone so swiftly… And because of what? A terrified mail boy? It was too much for him to bear.

The room began to melt just like the static images before. Shizuka could feel her consciousness being removed from the strange void. The music faded back in, but never quite reached the volume from before. Then, shockingly, she was back in her hotel room. She was gripping the bedsheets in a cold sweat, panting as she looked around. Her throat was dry, and she felt like she’d slept for years. Was all of that a dream? Why was it so specific? Why did the name Dio sound so familiar…? She looked over to the clock. It was eight in the morning… Jotaro would probably check in on her soon. Good. She had some questions for him...

Chapter Text

Wednesday, July 29th

Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

 

Shizuka had many opinions of her Uncle. She believed that he was trying his best, but was deeply flawed. He had a mysterious ability that she barely understood, an immensely powerful Stand, and a composure that screamed “Don’t fuck with me.” Yes, she thought many things about her Uncle Jotaro, but never once did she consider him as someone who scared easy. That’s why she was so shocked when he dropped his fork at the mention of “Dio.” To be fair, she had brought it up completely out of the blue. And don’t mistake the situation. Jotaro wasn’t shaking, sweating, or even breathing faster than before. He was just so shocked to hear the name in the middle of breakfast.

“Where did you hear about Dio?” He questioned casually, picking up his fork.

Shizuka was a little afraid to continue, worried that he might drop his coffee next. “I don’t really know. Dad might’ve mentioned it once? I can’t really remember. All I know is I dreamed about him last night.”

“Him? You mean you saw a man called Dio in your dream?” He mumbled, taking a bite of his eggs.

“Well, no. It was actually a different guy… I think his name was John? Jonathan, maybe? It was really weird and vague.” She explained.

Jotaro swallowed, nodding his head. “Jonathan Joestar. Your Great-Grandfather. He died young on a ship during his honeymoon. Dio killed him.”

Killed him? What happened to Dio?” Shizuka mumbled.

“I killed him.” Jotaro said plainly, taking a sip from his mug. He put it down, looking at Shizuka. It was easy to tell she was confused. “Dio was immortal. He lived all that time after killing Jonathan. That is, until I punched his lights out in 1988.”

“How was he immortal?” Shizuka asked, fascinated by the story.

“He was a vampire-” Jotaro began, but was interrupted by Shizuka’s laughter.

She couldn’t help but snicker, wrinkling her nose and covering her mouth a bit with her hand. “A vampire? You killed Edward Cullen in the eighties? Couldn’t even wait for the books to get big?”

Jotaro wasn’t amused one bit. He waited for her outburst to finish, patiently holding his mug in both hands. “Dio was a killing machine. We found over thirty dead men and women in his mansion after we killed him. All bloody, violated, clothing tossed around the place. And those bodies were fresh. There’s no telling how many people he killed in the six years he spent terrorizing Egypt.”

Shizuka calmed down a bit, being reminded of the reality of Jotaro’s story. People were dead. Innocent, good people. “Who’s ‘we?’” She asked softly.

“Your father, myself, and a few friends. We traveled to Egypt and killed him. Half of us didn’t make it.” He said grimly.

“Oh..” She whispered, biting her lip and looking down. “Dad was there? Why hasn’t he ever mentioned it?”

“We don’t talk about it. We don’t like thinking about it. We spent almost two months on high alert, being attacked by mysterious, horrifying powers the entire way. Then, in one day, three of us were killed. It’s not a campfire story.” He explained.

Shizuka was silent for a few seconds. She didn’t really know how to continue the conversation. Jotaro really seemed to be opening up to her in a way she never expected. It didn’t seem like these things were easy to relive. Finally, she found the right words. “So… Why did I have a dream about Jonathan and Dio?” She mumbled.

Jotaro thought for a moment. “Stress? It’s entirely possible that you’ve overheard bits and pieces of this story. The old man loves to talk about his adventures when he’s drunk enough. It’s nothing to worry about. Dio’s dead. Deader than dead. I destroyed his Stand, and watched his body turn to ash. He’s not coming back.” He assured her, though it seemed like he was trying to convince himself too.

The conversation was cut short by a familiar face approaching their table. Marina was pulling her luggage behind her with a smile on her face. She certainly looked better than the day before. Not that she was well dressed or anything. She was wearing sweatpants, a hoodie with a white tank top underneath, and aviator sunglasses. Her hair was up in a bun, and she was sipping from a beverage she grabbed from her hotel room’s refrigerator.

“Morning, cretins. Fancy seeing you here. Almost like fate.” She said dryly, sipping her drink.

“Going somewhere?” Jotaro mumbled, relieved that the conversation was over.

“Home. Unless I’m under arrest or something. Can your fancy men-in-black organization do that? Are they funded by the Queen? Are we doing the whole Torchwood thing?” She rambled, tapping the side of her drink.

“I don’t get most of those references.” Shizuka sighed, sitting up. “You’re free to go. Just be careful, y’know? It’s a big world out there.”

“I’m just happy to be leaving this stuffy hotel. Feels like I’ve spent an eternity here. A change of scenery will be refreshing.” Marina mumbled, looking at her phone. “Well, I’d better get to my flight. To be frank, I hope I never see you two again. Have fun with the whole dumb and dumber adventuring thing.” She mumbled, walking away.

The two watched her leave. After about fifteen seconds of silence, Jotaro spoke up. “Dumb and Dumber is a comedy from the nineties. In case you didn’t get the reference.” He mumbled, sipping his coffee.

Shizuka groaned, leaning back in her chair and watching Marina fade from view. “She could be in serious trouble. How’s she so calm?”

“Denial. Or bravery. Which one is keeping you going?” He asked.

“Hope.” She mumbled, sighing as she thought about Morioh and everything that would come with it.

 

Thursday, July 30th

Netherlands Countryside

 

Wednesday had gone by without much to mention. After Marina left, Jotaro and Shizuka had a relatively quiet day. They discussed going to a museum, but mutually agreed to stay at the hotel. The next morning, Jotaro woke her up and explained their plan. They packed up, got in a taxi, and rode out of town. He’d found a small airline about a hundred miles from Amsterdam. He said it was safer for them, and for others if they didn’t get on a massive commercial flight. That being said, they were currently on a runway waiting to board the thirty-five passenger plane. Shizuka noticed that Jotaro seemed to be analyzing every potential passenger closely. He’d certainly done this before.

After a while, everyone began to board. They took the seats, and Shizuka began to relax. Jotaro got out a book, speaking under his breath. “This is a twelve hour flight, so there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong. If you see anything that’s off, go to the bathroom, turn invisible, and investigate.”

Shizuka nodded, stretching her legs and yawning. “You got it..” She mumbled, looking up at the ceiling.

A mother and child sat behind them. Shizuka didn’t think much of it until the kid began to absentmindedly kick at her seat. She gritted her teeth, waiting for the mother to correct her misbehaving child. It never happened, though. Eventually the kid lost interest, playing his Nintendo DS instead. Shizuka was relieved, relaxing back in her seat once again,

The flight was peaceful for a few hours. After a bit, Shizuka looked over and saw that Jotaro was sleeping. She’d never actually seen him do that. It made sense… He had to be exhausted after the way their week went. He deserved a bit of relaxation. She looked out the window, watching the clouds as the plane tore through the air. She felt a tap on her shoulder, turning her head to the flight attendant.

“Hey hun, can I get you or your dad anything?” The woman asked with a smile, speaking softly as to not wake Jotaro.

Shizuka thought for a moment before shrugging. “No thanks, I’m fine.”

The stewardess frowned, tilting her head. “Hmmm? Nothing? We have soda… Chips… Peanuts? Dinner will be ready soon.”

The young girl was a little uncomfortable. “Yeah, really, I meant nothing.” She mumbled.

“Okay then dear. If you excuse me, I’m going to go kill the pilot with my stand.” The woman smiled, walking away.

Shizuka’s jaw dropped. Had she hallucinated that entire conversation? Did that flight attendant really just say such a thing so boldly? She could only watch in horror as the woman walked toward the cockpit. Then, regaining her senses, she began to shake Jotaro.

“Jotaro.. Jotaro, wake up!” She panicked, shaking his arm in a frenzy.

Then, the woman closed the door to the cockpit, and everything was gone. Shizuka had completely forgotten about the entire encounter. Her anxiety plummeted to regular levels, and she felt very calm. She noticed Jotaro grunting.

“What is it, Shizuka?” He mumbled, wiping his face groggily and adjusting his hat. “Is something wrong?”

She tried to remember waking him, but couldn’t. “Hmm? Oh.. Well, the flight attendant asked if we wanted anything a minute ago.” She mumbled, unsure of her own words.

“You woke me up for snacks?” He groaned, pulling his hat back over hit face and slumping in his seat. “Yare Yare… I’m not hungry.”

Shizuka felt a pang of embarrassment in her chest. Why would she do that? It seemed completely out of character. But the blurriness began to fade, and she remembered doing it clear as day. She frowned, feeling odd. Then, that feeling was replaced with the feeling of the snot-nosed brat behind her kicking her chair. She gripped at her arm rest, gritting her teeth. Every few seconds, kick kick kick.

She tried to clear her mind, looking out the window and taking a deep breath. She was just on edge from the eventful week. Once she got to Morio, she would relax. She just had to endure another few hours. Eventually the kicking ceased once more, and she sighed with relief. Nothing noteworthy happened for quite a while after that. She succeeded in relaxing, sinking further and further into her comfortable chair. Her tiny body made it very easy to stretch out and take full advantage of her space. After some effort, she actually managed to fall asleep…

 

Kick. Kick. Kick.

Jotaro was stirred awake by the sound of Shizuka’s seat being kicked. It didn’t seem to bother the sleeping girl, so he didn’t bother saying anything. He grunted, looking around. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. He rubbed his face, feeling his scruffy chin and sighing. He really needed to shave. When they arrived, he’d pick up some basic essentials. He left most of his hygienic things at home. His eyes wandered over to the flight attendants speaking to each other by the cockpit. Apparently, they noticed him as well, because one of them approached his chair after.

“You’re awake! We served dinner earlier, but she said not to wake you. Are you hungry now?” She smiled.

He considered it for a moment, and then nodded his head. “Yeah, I could eat.”

With a big sunshine smile on her face, the stewardess giggled. “You can eat shit , Kujo.” She grinned.

It was so unexpected that Jotaro had to relive it in his mind multiple times before he fully comprehended what was said. She began to walk away, but he grabbed her roughly by the arm. “Excuse me, Miss, but I think we’re still talking.” He growled in a low, threatening voice. He stood up, towering over her little frame.

She just giggled. “No, we were talking, Father of the Year. Now I’m going to go check on the dead body in the cockpit.”

Jotaro had heard enough. Star Platinum manifested, balling a fist. Then, in an instant, he completely forgot what has been said. It’s like the past thirty seconds didn’t even happen. He blinked a few times, looking down at the terrified woman in his grip. She was staring, struggling against him.

“Sir, I said let go. ” She whined loud enough to draw attention.

He immediately complied, dropping his hand to his side. Star Platinum was still ready to knock her lights out, but why? Why did he get his stand out…? All he remembered was waking up, the stewardess approaching him… And then this. Had he reflexively snapped at her? Star vanished, and he took a step back, silently considering the situation. This had happened once before, eighteen years ago. One of the first nights he spent in bed with his wife ended poorly. She rolled over in the night and wrapped herself around him, kissing the back of his neck. In pure shock, Star Platinum sent her across the room. Upon hitting the wall, Maura’s arm was broken. She had to wear a cast for six weeks. She was lucky to scrape by with so few injuries, too. Jotaro had never forgiven himself.  It was the only time he lost control in their entire marriage. In the coming months and years, she learned to wake him carefully, and to let him tremble in his sleep without intervention. Was this a similar situation? He was obviously on edge after multiple Stand battles… Was he about to seriously injure an innocent flight attendant. He looked down, his hat obscuring his expression as he cleared his throat. “Sorry.” Is all he said, sitting down.

After a few awkward moments, he felt the child slowly kicking his seat. Normally he’d say something to the mother, but he was so flustered that he decided to ignore it. He was more sure than ever that divorcing Maura was the right thing to do. He couldn’t trust himself. Only a Stand User could truly relax around him. Someone who could see Star Platinum, and could defend against him. That was his fate. There was no such thing as power without consequence. He understood that.

Shizuka began to wipe her eyes, groaning. “What’s going on?” She mumbled, opening them and seeing Jotaro’s expression.

“Nothing. I thought there was an enemy. There wasn’t.” He mumbled.

“I got a weird feeling earlier too. I think we’re just on edge. It’ll all get better when we land.” She sighed, looking out the window and into the sunset.

Despite her words of reassurance, something was troubling her. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she couldn’t rest. Even her sleep was filled with anxiety and visions. She felt like they were in the mouth of the beast, moments from being swallowed whole. But there was no danger to be seen. No enemy to fight… They were safe. So why didn’t she believe it? Her fingers were wiggling in her lap, and she felt unbelievably restless.

Her anxiety was interrupted by rough voice of a man. “Hey you, stand up!” A stranger barked.

Shizuka barely had time to think as someone stormed across the plane and grabbed Jotaro by the shirt. Jotaro didn’t even hesitate. Star Platinum slugged the man right in the chest, breaking several ribs and instantly silencing his cries. Everyone was paying attention now. The man choked silently, stumbling back and supporting himself on a seat. His look was one of genuine confusion and terror. Jotaro stepped forward, slapping the man across the face and grabbing him by the collar of his shirt.

“Take it easy. Why’d you just jump at me?” He demanded, his voice filled with irritation.

The man just choked on his fear, tearing up. No one could look away. It was clear that everyone felt off, and they were transfixed by the sight before them. Jotaro raised a brow in curiosity, manifesting Star Platinum’s hand and moving it closer. He waved it rapidly, and the man’s eyes didn’t follow. The assailant couldn’t see Star Platinum… He wasn’t a stand user. Jotaro let go of him, allowing the man to fall onto his ass.

Answer me. ” He growled. “Why’d you grab me?”

Finally, the man found his voice. It was pained, panicked, and weak. “I…. don’t.. Know..” He whimpered, gagging and writhing on the carpet.

“Don’t know? Why not?” He mumbled, kneeling down and giving the man a closer look. He noticed something strapped to the man’s hip. It was a concealed weapon in a holster. It had been obstructed by his nice coat until he fell to the ground. The pieces began to come together. “You have a gun on an airplane? You’re a marshal. What’s a marshal doing on a flight this small?” He questioned, looking around.

Everyone cowered back a bit as Jotaro analyzed them. “Shizuka, something is seriously wrong with this flight. There’s a Stand somewhere.”

 

Kick. Kick. Kick.

Shizuka woke up to her seat being relentlessly kicked by the young man behind her. She was filled with dread. Had she been having a nightmare? Jotaro was asleep next to her, and the entire plane seemed to be quietly resting. She panted, her heart beating out of her chest. She needed to stretch her legs… Come to think of it, she needed the restroom. She stood up, carefully maneuvering around Jotaro and heading toward the back. She sat down on the toilet and rested her cheek against her palm, yawning. Then, her cell phone vibrated in the pocket of her jacket. That was odd, since she had selected “airplane mode” hours ago. She tapped the home button and saw a single notification.

“Storage Device Full.”

She raised a brow, having never had something like that happen. She tapped the notification and was brought to her gallery. There, she saw a video. A seven hour video. Her stomach dropped. How could she have taken such a long video? Sure, she had an external SD card for more space, but even then, that was pushing it. She checked her storage and realized that everything had been deleted. Everything except for a single memo. She opened it, and gasped.

“Remember.” Is all it said.

Remember? Remember what? Her thumb immediately clicked the back button and went to the gallery as quickly as she could. How would she check all seven hours of the video? Sweat gathered on her forehead as she watched. Nothing was happening…. It was silence. The screen was completely black, since the phone was in her pocket the entire recording. She decided to hold the fast forward button until she heard a decent stretch of sped-up audio. After a few boring conversations happening around them, she heard something odd.

“Shizuka, something is seriously wrong with this flight. There’s a Stand somewhere.” Jotaro’s voice spoke with urgency.

She furrowed her brow. How could she not remember any of this? After a moment, she heard another voice.

“Sorry, Kujo. But you won’t get to remember this.” A chipper woman called from a distance.

“Oh? Is it because you’re going to wipe my mind just like this Marshal?” Jotaro growled.

All Shizuka could hear was a grim chuckle from the woman. Then, the snap of her fingers. Shizuka could hear everybody’s limp bodies hit the floor. She thought she felt sore, but had just assumed it was from sleeping sitting up. She listened intently as the woman continued.

“Clean this up, and get everyone back in their seats. I’m going to go check on the captain.”

Shizuka’s blood was boiling. The Stand User had an accomplice. Maybe more than one. Not only that, but she seemed to have the ability to erase people’s memories. How could she fight them if their memories might all be wiped instantly yet again? Her morbid curiosity got the better of her, and she began to wonder if the captain was okay. She summoned Achtung Baby and turned the entire plane invisible just for her eyes. Her stomach dropped when she saw the Captain lying dead in the front of the plane, an identical copy of himself piloting instead. She also saw the two flight attendants walking around, conversing with the passengers politely. Who was the Stand User? A passenger? A flight attendant? She knew it was a woman, but had no way of identifying the body of the voice… She knew what she had to do. She turned herself invisible and slipped out of the bathroom silently.

Shizuka prowled through the plane carefully, the carpet on the floor below making sneaking around quite easy. She was making virtually no noise at all. She just had to listen to everyone’s voice and determine who the Stand User was. But what good would knowing even do her? She needed to know how it was done too. Was the snap just a theatrical effect? Or was it essential? Could that woman really knock out the entire plane with the snap of her fingers? That was way too dangerous. There had to be something more, Shizuka just couldn’t remember. Most of the passengers were either asleep, or completely occupied with something mundae. None of them were talking at the moment. She just had to wait…

After a few minutes, an old woman waved over one of the flight attendants. “Yes, Miss~?” The young woman asked happily.

“I was wondering if you could get me some water? My throat is very dry.” The elderly woman smiled.

With an expression of pure joy, the flight attendant grabbed the woman by the jaw and spit right on her mouth. “Drink that, bitch. ” She growled.

Shizuka’s blood began to boil. Who in the actual fuck did that woman think she was? She balled her fists, glaring across the plane. The old woman was just confused, wiping her face with a pale face and stammering.

“I-I-I don’t understand…” She said with a shaky voice.

I.. I… I… I… p-p-p-please don’t hurt me! I just want water! ” The attendant mocked before back-handing the passenger.

The woman fell out of her seat and into the aisle. She was cupping her face, looking helplessly up at the terrifying stewardess.

“Get bent, granny. You’re an anchor on society. Your kids are waiting for you to die so they can split the inheritance, and six months from now you’ll be buried and forgotten. ” She growled, kicking the woman right in the stomach.

Everyone was watching in horror. It seemed like they were all confused, dazed, and waiting for someone else to do something. Jotaro was unconscious in his seat. How long had they all been tormented like this? Were any of them in any position to challenge the woman? Yes. Shizuka was. Despite her soreness, she was ready to take that bitch down.

Hey! ” She shouted, turning visible again. She was seeing red, unable to reason anymore. “You’re going to regret doing that.”

The stewardess slowly turned her head to Shizuka, recognition clear in her twisted eyes. “Oh, hello dear. I see you’ve left your seat. We’ll be arriving soon. You should really sit down.” She warned.

“Touch that woman again and you’ll be the one going down.” Shizuka growled, gritting her teeth.

“Oh, you’re too cute! Do you know how many times you and Jotaro have threatened me on this flight? You talk a mad game, and then you lose. Every, single, time.” She chuckled.

Shizuka walked through a row of seats, brushing past people on her way to the stewardess. She wasn’t saying anything. She was livid, and she was ready to lay waste to this abusive bitch.

“That’s right, in the blink of the eye, you’ll be dazed and confused, just as always. It’s so fun to watch your faces scrunch up in confusion as you try to figure out what happened! You’re all too adorable! All of you.”

Shizuka froze in her tracks for a moment. “Is that how it works, then? In the blink of the eye?” She asked calmly.

The stewardess tilted her head. “Oh? What could you possibly mean?”

Shizuka grinned. “So that’s the trick. When our eyes are closed, you can wipe a certain amount of memory from us before we open them again, like changing a stage’s furniture during a blackout during a play. But that probably only works for small things. You have to knock us out to wipe out extended periods of time. That’s why I keep waking up from naps.”

The attendant was amused. “Oh? So you figured it out then?” A stand manifested from behind her. “House of Memories is unstoppable. How do you plan to avoid blinking? Even if you try, you’ll fail! I just have to punch at you, like this!” She swung her Stand’s fist, causing Shizuka to flinch. “See!? You’re fucked, kid! Now, I think it’s time you got back to your seat! And when we land, you and your friend will be dead! Thank you for flying with us!”

Shizuka didn’t look amused in the slightest. On the contrary, she didn’t seem to look like she was feeling much of anything but boredom. She certainly wasn’t afraid.

“Good grief. That was close. I was actually worried your Stand posed a threat.” She mumbled, checking her nails. “But that’s it? A parlor trick? All I have to do is keep my eyes open? Good. After what you did to that woman, I wanna watch your face while I beat the shit out of you.” She growled, flexing Achtung Baby’s arm and sending a punch toward the woman.

The stewardess deflected the punch with House of Memories, swinging right back. “You piece of shit. You’re really that confident!? Well here!” She grabbed a flashlight out of her coat pocket and flashed it in Shizuka’s face.

The girl didn’t even flinch. She stared right into her, her pupils dilating as she sent a flurry of punches forward. The stewardess wasn’t expecting any attacks, and was wide open. She took every punch right with her center-mass, stumbling backward and looking up at Shizuka. “You bitch! You think conviction is enough to defeat me!? How about this!?” She pulled out a container of pepper, removing the cap and throwing it right at Shizuka’s face.

Shizuka just stared at the stewardess with open eyes as the pepper landed all over her face. She didn't flinch. She didn’t blink, and she didn’t wince. Her eyes were wide open.

“W-Wh-What the hell!? How are you doing that?” The stewardess demanded.

Wh-Wha? Whaaa? How are you doing that? Please, don’t hurt me!” Shizuka shrilled mockingly as she stepped closer. She stomped on the woman’s ankle hard, getting her to cry out in pain. “You’re not invincible. You’re weak. You hide behind memory and torture people like they’re worthless. Like a kid aiming a magnifying glass at ants on the sidewalk. But do you know what I did to kids like that growing up?” Shizuka stood over the weak, whining stewardess, glaring into her terrified eyes.

“W-What..?” The enemy cried out.

“I beat the shit out of them. Just like this.” Achtung Baby readied her fists, punching harder and faster than ever before. “ Hora, Hora, Horrraaaaaa! ” Her Stand wailed in anger, pummeling the woman relentlessly, without a trace of mercy. After a solid twenty seconds of punishment, she pulled away and fixed her bangs, spitting right onto the bitch’s face. “I told you so. Didn’t I? You’d regret doing that.”

The woman was a stuttering, groaning mess. Blood oozed from her clothing slowly as she cried, sobbing as she choked on her insides. Shizuka noticed a growing wet spot on the floor and stepped back.

“Did you piss yourself? As I live and breathe? You’re pathetic.” Shizuka mumbled, wiping her face off.

“H-how… How didn’t you blink…? Even when I got stuff in your eyes…?” The stewardess begged.

Shizuka rolled her eyes, and then suddenly her eyelids appeared, revealing that her eyes had been closed the entire time. “I made my eyelids invisible. That way, I could just keep them closed, but still see. Like I said, your stand really isn’t all that.” She groaned.

The stewardess turned completely pale. “I… I can’t believe... “ She stammered.

“I will say, it was incredibly stupid to repeatedly use the expression ‘blink of an eye,’ I never would have figured it out otherwise. I guess you’re just too stupid for this line of work.” Shizuka sighed, punching the woman right in the face, knocking her out cold. “Now, where were we? Literally.” She walked over to Jotaro, shaking him. “Jotaro, get up. There’s a Stand on the plane. I defeated one of them, but I think there’s a second in the cockpit.” She mumbled.

Two stands… What a dangerous thing. Then again, what was to stop someone from bringing three onto the plane? Or four? For a moment, Shizuka hesitated. Her stomach sank, and she felt a growing urgency. “Jotaro, seriously, get up! I know your memory’s been messed with for hours, but we’re in danger!”

Then, before she could even register, the chair Jotaro was sitting in flew forward, sending both of them hurdling across the cabin and against the far wall. Shizuka groaned in pain, thinking that she broke something in the fray. She managed to stand, looking over and freezing for a moment. Right behind the row they were sitting in was a woman with a massive blue leg emerging from her physical one. She was an unassuming woman in her thirties with a common haircut, a bland dress, and an average face. However, the grin on her face was anything but normal. It was unsettling. That’s when it hit Shizuka. All of the kicking hadn’t been from the snot-nosed brat behind them… It was a Stand User taunting them. The kid was asleep like everyone else.

“You have gotta be kidding me.” Shizuka groaned, wiping blood from her face.

The woman clapped, snickering. “That was quite a performance! You took out Sandy like it was nothing…”

Shizuka was absolutely, positively one-hundred-percent done with Stands for the day. “Sandy? Is that the stewardess?” She whined in a mixture of boredom and irritation.

The new enemy nodded, standing up. “I’m Joan Jett, and I promise I won’t go down as easily. We let Sandy have her fun when she can, she’s a bit of an eccentric show-stealer, but I’m the one who gets things done.”

“And who’s the kid?” Shizuka demanded.

Joan looked down at the sleeping toddler as if she forget he was even there. “Huh? Oh, I think we took him from a train station or something. It helps set the scene, don’t you think?”

Shizuka just groaned. “And Sandy was the performer of the group? At least she didn’t have human props.”

“The world’s a stage, sweetheart. What can I say? I like to get invested in the role.” She licked her lips.

Shizuka didn’t say anything for a moment. She had noticed something in the corner of her eye. It caused her to smile. “So, you plan on killing me then? Is that it?”

Joan laughed, nodding her head. “Unfortunately. You, and everyone here. It’s nothing personal. We were just offered too much money to turn down.”

Shizuka just shrugged. “You heard the lady. Take your shot.”

Joan raised an eyebrow, but it didn’t do her much good as a bullet tore through her head and was embedded in the wall next to her. She fell lifelessly to the carpeted floor, bleeding all over the lovely blue decor. Shizuka just let out a sigh of relief.

“Wow… She actually went down. I was expecting that to take longer…” She mumbled.

On the other side of the plane stood the Air Marshal, gun drawn. He panted, watching to make sure the woman stayed down. Shizuka didn’t know why a man had a gun on a plane, but it sure came in handy. The marshal ran up to her, resting a hand on her shoulder.

“Are you alright, sweetheart?” He asked quickly, checking her for injuries.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Who’re you? How’d you get a gun on this thing?” She mumbled.

“I’m an Air Marshal.” He explained, panting.

“What? Aren’t those just for big planes?” Shizuka mumbled, skeptical.

“Well, normally I wouldn’t be on a plane this size, but someone called in some suspicious activity. He was pretty worried. So I volunteered to ride in the back. It helps that he was pretty high profile.” The marshal explained.

“Who was it? Are they okay?” Shizuka looked around for anyone noteworthy.

“Oh, he didn’t show up. I think he was named Neil? He was paranoid about his flight out of the country. Had some business to take care of. Maybe he got caught up?”

Shizuka’s eyes lit up at the name. Neil? Neil Archer was heading to Japan? Why? It must have been his exit strategy after getting his Stand. But that didn’t explain the striking coincidence. This plane was meant to land right outside City S, a mere twenty minute train ride from Morioh. And besides, did he plan on dragging Marina across the world while he accomplished whatever it was he had planned? Then, she was struck by reality as she remembered something.

“Shit, Jotaro!” She mumbled, turning around and grabbing the seats he was thrown with. She shoved them off, seeing him lying limp on the floor. She began to slap him in the face repeatedly, shouting his name.

Finally, he groaned and opened his eyes. They rapidly scanned the room, and he let out a sound of confusion. “Why am I on the floor?” He mumbled, rubbing the back of his head.

“I’ll explain everything after. We’ve been under attack by a stand trio, and there’s one more in the cockpit!” Shizuka shouted.

Jotaro was up to his feet in less than a second, narrowing his eyes at the door. “Do you know its ability?” He asked, able to cast aside all of his questions and trust Shizuka.

“No. It looks exactly like the dead captain, but that’s all I could see.” She explained.

“Woah, woah, woah, dead captain? The captain’s dead?” The Marshal questioned, stepping forward.

Jotaro blandly looked at the man before glancing at Shizuka. “Who’s this?”

“He’s an Air Marshal. I guess he’s coming with us?” She shrugged.

Jotaro nodded, pointing to the man. “Listen, there’s a lot going on right now that you don’t understand. If you want to come into the cockpit, be my guest. But don’t act hysterical with that gun, or I’ll get pissed.” He warned, kicking the door open with Star Platinum. The door flew forward, shocking the pilot’s copy and causing it to shriek in terror.

“Star Platinum: THE WORLD!” Jotaro shouted.

Then, instantly, blood exploded all over the wall. The person’s head was completely and totally destroyed by Jotaro’s horrifying Stand. Shizuka just watched in a mix of fascination and surprise. “Huh… Those last two really went down… I guess they were counting on their memory-wiping-friend to keep them safe.”

Jotaro sighed, adjusting his hat. “Yare Yare… The Captain’s dead, and I have no idea where we are. This is bad…” He mumbled, walking over and shoving the limp body out of the chair.

Just then, the Marshal screamed in terror, finally processing the death he just witnessed. “ HOLY SHIT! You… You.. you just made that guy’s head explode! How the fuck did you do that!? Why did you do that!? You’re… You’re under arr-”

Shut up! ” Jotaro shouted in a voice commanding enough to startle a statue. “If you’re not gonna help, go check on the passengers. Now!” He ordered.

Shizuka approached the pilot’s chairs, looking at all the buttons, knobs, and displays. “Do you have any idea how to fly this…?” She mumbled.

“No.” He admitted, putting on the headset. “Sit down. We’re crashing this plane.”

She took the co-pilot’s chair, watching through the window as they tore through the sky at unreal speeds. “I think this is meant to show our coordinates, but it’s busted… I have no damn clue how to tell where we are.” He growled, hitting the console.

Shizuka thought for a moment. “What does that matter? All we need to know if where we’re gonna land, right?”

Jotaro grunted. “Hilarious. We’re going to land on the ground.”

Shizuka shook her head. “No, listen, I can do this. Hold on…” She got her cell phone out and hit the first speed-dial button. It rang, and rang, and rang as she mouthed the words ‘pick up’ over and over. Finally, she heard a tired voice.

“Hello?” Joseph questioned in his scratchy, slow tone.

Dad!” Shizuka shouted urgently. “Dad, it’s me! I need you to get to a computer now!”

The line was silent for a moment. “Shizuka, dear? Is that you? Are you okay? Jotaro found you, right? He’s been avoiding my calls! That ungrateful punk. I swear-”

DAD! Computer! Now!” She screamed, her hand shaking.

“Woah, woah, what’s the problem, Jojo? Is something wrong?” He asked with concern.

“I’m in a plane, and it’s going to crash. I need you to get to a screen! Something other than your flip phone! Fast!”

Oh my god!” He yelled in sheer panic. “A plane crash! Shizuka, my baby! Where’s Jotaro?”

Shizuka slapped her face in frustration. “Dad, use Hermit Purple to find out where we’re going to land! I need exact coordinates! And an amount of time!”

“Oh shit, of course! Of course! Uhm… Where’s my laptop? Suzie! Suzie, where’s my laptop?” The line was silent for a moment. “The store!? Woman! You can’t send my things to the store without telling me!”

Shizuka leaned back in her seat with an exasperated sigh. “We’re going to die.”

Finally, Jotaro interjected. “What good will coordinates do? Do you have a plan?”

“I’m working one out. It’s kind of dependent on where we are…” She admitted.

After a short argument, Joseph got back on the line. “Okay, Shizuka, I have one of those handheld games from a McDonald’s happy meal. What did you want again?” He asked kindly.

“The coordinates of our plane crash!” She shouted.

“Oh my goodness, I almost forgot! Of course, of course! Hermit Purple! ” He shouted. “Okay! It’s typing out…. There we go.” He listed off the coordinates. “What else do you need?”

“I love you, Dad. I’ll call you back when we land.” Is all she said, hanging up and taking a deep breath. “Okay. One more call…” She sighed, scrolling through her contacts. “Let’s just hope this works….”

 

It was a quiet morning in rural Japan. Dew lined the grass, birds sang perched in their trees, and the sun was only barely peeking over the horizon; blessing the land with an orange glow. Yes, it was a wonderful and peaceful morning, until the sound of tires peeling out against asphalt filled the air. A car swerved off the road and into the grass. Two men got out, sprinting across the field and looking up.

“We’re not going to make it!” One of them grunted.

“Quiet! It’s right there. They haven’t crashed yet..” The other shouted.

The plane could be seen in the distance, nose-diving down toward the peaceful field. Jotaro and Shizuka were watching helplessly from the cockpit, counting entirely on their backup to save the plane. The men stopped, readying themselves for what was about to happen.

“Don’t go slipping up on me now. We’ve only got one chance to get this right.” One of the men grunted, fixing his hair. “It’s time….”

The plane was seconds from the ground. In an instant, one of the men manifested his stand, swiping at the air. “The Hand!” He shouted, pulling the plane directly toward them and correcting its course.

Great. ” The other man smirked. “Now it’s my turn….” He took a deep breath before opening his eyes and shouting, “ Crazy Diamond!”

Josuke’s stand shot forward at an incredible speed, pummeling the plane. Initially, the aircraft shattered on impact, exploding and sending everyone in different directions. Shizuka felt herself getting hurled at an unbelievable speed away from Jotaro and the others. But then, as if it was a dream, she was gently and smoothly returned to the seat of the cockpit. Everyone was placed right where they were before. The plane was even shining with some strange energy. Shizuka couldn’t believe it. She sank back in her seat, exhaling for the first time in a very long time.

“Oh my god… We actually landed.” She groaned, cupping her face in her hands. “Like… I didn’t believe it was gonna work for a second. ” She admitted.

Jotaro couldn’t help but smirk. “That was a pretty good plan. You really brought a lot of moving pieces together.”

She sighed, shaking her head. “I just relied on my family… C’mon, let’s get off this thing.” She groaned.

Jotaro fixed his hat, standing up and looking out of the cockpit. “I’m never getting on a plane again.”

Chapter Text

Friday, July 31th

Outside S City, Japan

 

It took a minute or two for them to figure out how to lower the plane’s staircase. Once they did, however, Josuke came sprinting on. He looked around, eyes darting as he searched for his family. Then, he saw them.

“Shizuka! Jotaro! Oh my gosh! You guys!” He shouted, sprinting over to them. He gave Shizuka a big hug, lifting her into the air. “A plane crash? I know I haven’t seen you in a while, but there are better ways to get my attention.” He joked in a thick accent, speaking somewhat limited English.

She laughed, feeling Crazy Diamond’s power fixing her bruises and scrapes. Josuke had a literal healing presence. It was hard to feel down with him in the room. It helped ease her after the intensity of the past few days. Josuke looked over to Jotaro, smiling. “You look like shit.” He snickered in their native tongue, a huge grin on his face as he extended a hand.

Jotaro grinned. “Thanks.” Is all he said, firmly gripping the man’s hand and shaking it.

“Speaking of getting people’s attention, where the hell have you been? I tried to call. Holy wanted to have the family over for Ocean Day. You didn’t answer any of our calls. We would’ve loved to see Jolyne and Maura.” Josuke frowned a bit, getting a feeling that something was off with Jotaro’s homelife.

Shizuka wasn’t following the conversation very well due to the flipping of languages mid-sentence. Jotaro’s English was perfect after decades in the United States, but Josuke only knew what he learned in school, and what he gathered on the phone with her. He didn’t practice it often. She looked a little lost, and Josuke noticed.

“Agh, I wish Rohan would just give me the ability to speak English. I can barely talk to my sister.” He grunted to Jotaro.

Jotaro shrugged. “Maybe he’d teach her Japanese? She plans on doing some investigation anyway. It’d be easier that way.”

Josuke lit up. “Yeah! And he probably wouldn’t threaten to kill her if she asked more than once.”

Jotaro smirked, looking out of the cockpit and into the cabin. “We’ve got a lot of confused people on this plane, Josuke. Do you have enough energy to heal them all?”

The shorter man rubbed his chin, looking around. “What happened?”

“We’re not sure. That woman right there had a memory stand. I’m pretty sure she tortured us the entire flight.” Shizuka explained.

“A memory stand? Great. How’d you figure it out?” He looked to Jotaro curiously.

Jotaro shrugged. “I didn’t. Shizuka defeated her.”

Josuke’s eyes widened. “ WHAAAT? You saved all of these people? I mean, I knew you were a tough kid, but wow!” He pulled her into a one-armed hug, rubbing his knuckles against her scalp.

She smiled, always enjoying the brief times with her brother. In fact, they were more and more fleeting as the years went by. She never went to him once. He’d always fly to New York. And once he got out of university, he was too busy. Their family reunion was cut short by the man from earlier as he slowly walked into the cockpit.

“Excuse me, but what in the hell is going on here? I kept my mouth shut during the emergency, but now I demand some damn answers!” He spat, growling at he looked at the Jojo’s.

Josuke lifted his head in shock. “Who’s this guy?” He mumbled, noticing his injuries.

“I’m Alec Wayne, And I’m the one asking the questions. Who are you people? Who do you work for?” He demanded.

Josuke just smiled a bit, manifesting Crazy Diamond and extending its hand to Alec. The man had no idea why he suddenly felt so much better, but it was instant relief. “We’re help. That’s all. I’m Sergeant Higashikata with the Morioh Police Department. This is my half sister Shizuka Joestar, and our nephew, Jotaro Kujo.”

“Are they government agents? Police?” Alec questioned.

Shizuka wrinkled her nose, raising a brow. “I’m ten.” She mumbled.

“Don’t play coy with me. You were ready to fight that woman before I stepped in, and you had total confidence in doing so. Not only that, but you didn’t bat an eye when I shot her in the head. You’re not a normal kid.” He pointed at her, then looked back to Josuke. “And you, am I supposed to believe this is official business of the Morioh Police Department?”

Josuke laughed a bit. “No, it’s not. I’d really appreciate if you didn’t call this in. I have no idea what I’d say to the inspector.”

Then, Alec’s eyes moved to Jotaro. “Kujo, was it? You’re the sketchiest one here. How’d you make that man’s head explode? It happened instantly, and I didn’t even see a weapon on you.”

Jotaro sighed, placing a cigarette between his lips. “There are things you don’t understand in this world. Just be happy everyone on the flight survived.”

“Listen, I was put on this plane to babysit a man named Neil Archer. I figured it was nothing, just a skittish billionaire who was worried about his travels. But this? I’ve never seen anything like it. How am I supposed to explain any of this?” He questioned.

“The pilot had a heart attack. You had to land the plane in this field. That’s all you need to share. You’re a hero. None of the passengers remember anything.” Jotaro explained, turning to Josuke. “Josuke, if you repair the pilot’s body, I’ll call the Speedwagon Foundation to pick up the dead Stand Users. We can get this cleaned up in an hour or so. Then Alec can call local law enforcement.”

Alec was nearly at a loss for words. Nearly. “What am I supposed to think about today? I get the impression that I have no choice but to play along. But.. are you three magic?” He whispered, going pale. “I feel absurd even asking.. But the way you’re talking..”

Jotaro sighed. “Shizuka, while we handle this, go outside and talk to Alec. You like putting people at ease.” He mumbled, getting his phone out and calling the foundation.

Shizuka nodded, patting the man’s arm as she walked toward the exit. Needless to say, it was a bit of a messy homecoming, but she was finally in Japan. Finally, she was miles away from Morioh. She made it.

 

Friday, July 31st

Morioh Grand Hotel

 

Shizuka couldn’t believe her eyes as she stepped out of the taxi. There it was, the Morioh Grand Hotel. She just stared at it, like she wasn’t even there. It was like she was observing someone else arriving. She just couldn’t believe that after everything, she was finally at the end of her journey. Jotaro and Josuke got out, carrying what little luggage they had.

“After we get checked in, I really need to stop by a store to pick up some essentials.” Jotaro mumbled, stretching after the long flight.

“I’ll take you. The town’s really gotten bigger since you last visited. I think the first order of business is getting Shizuka to Rohan.” Josuke mumbled, checking his watch. “I really should get back to work. My lunch break was over an hour ago. You know Rohan’s address. If you feel like going before I get off work, that’s fine.” He began to walk away, but stopped in place. Then, he turned around and gave Shizuka a big hug. “I’m glad you made it safe. Next time you plan on doing something insane, call one of us, okay? I’d rather help you than have you do it alone.” And with that, he got back in the cab.

Shizuka looked at the large hotel with a smile. Jotaro lit his cigarette, watching her. “So.. What now? You never actually explained why you needed to come here.”

“Hermit Purple directed me here when we asked about my biological parents. I don’t know for sure, but it’s gotta be here.” She said confidently.

Jotaro puffed out some smoke, tired bags under his eyes. “Yare Yare… Last time Hermit Purple brought me to Morioh, I spent four months here.”

“Well let’s hope it goes faster this time. C’mon, you’ve gotta check us in.” She began walking toward the hotel, ready for whatever came next.

 

After taking a nice nap and looking around for a while, Shizuka was on the front steps of Rohan Kishibe’s porch. Jotaro approached from behind, knocking on the door. Then, there was silence. They stood there awkwardly for about thirty seconds before Jotaro politely knocked again.

“Try the doorbell.” Shizuka mumbled, biting her lip.

After a moment, he tried the doorbell. Once again, this was useless. Jotaro sighed, shaking his head. “His car is right there. He’s probably working…” He mumbled, knocking harder.

Eventually a voice could be heard in the distance, but Shizuka couldn’t understand them. “Alright, alright. I’m coming. But I swear, if it’s-” He opened the door and stopped in his tracks. “ Jotaro? Jotaro Kujo? What’re you doing in Morioh?” He questioned, peering around and seeing Shizuka. “And is this Colleen?”

Jotaro looked behind him for a moment. “Jolyne is seventeen years old. This is Shizuka Joestar.”

Rohan seemed to ponder the words for a moment. Then, it hit him. “Ah! Shizuka! The baby Mr.Joestar found all those years ago? My word, look at you! You’ve grown. And I can see you!” He chuckled, looking down at her with a smile.

Shizuka just stared up at him in utter confusion. The entire conversation had been in Japanese. She was quite lost. Jotaro noticed this, speaking up. “We’re in town for a bit. I’ll explain why if you want. But I’m actually here for a favor. Would you use Heaven’s Door on Shizuka so she can speak Japanese? The old man didn’t raise her speaking it.” He explained.

Rohan raised a brow. “Then why’s her name Shizuka? Why not.. Susan.. Or whatever Americans name their kids?”

“He started raising a baby in his late seventies. Give the man a break.” Jotaro shrugged, looking inside. “Can we come in?”

“Oh, yes, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had you in my home, Jotaro. Please, come in.” He smiled, allowing them to walk inside. He looked at Shizuka, speaking perfect English. “I can write the ability to speak Japanese on you in a few seconds. But it will feel strange, maybe even a bit painful.” He warned.

“Wait, you speak English?” She questioned.

“I speak three-hundred languages. Let me know if you can think of any I’m missing. Anyway, are you ready?” He rubbed his hands together.

“So this is your power? Granting knowledge?” She tilted her head.

“Not exactly. Heaven’s Door can open your body up and present your essence as a book for me to read. Everything in the book is true. You can’t lie to me with it. So, if I write something in myself, it becomes true as well.” He explained.

Shizuka’s eyes widened. “Wait.. so you can read about me? What kind of stuff?”

He chuckled. “Don’t worry, I promise not to read anything. Privacy is privacy. I only read people who want me to.”

“No.” She said, her tone changing to one of urgency. “Could you read about my past? Like… way back? Before my dad found me?” She questioned.

“Shizuka is looking for her biological parents. That’s why we’re in Morioh.” Jotaro explained in a low tone.

Rohan thought to himself for a moment. “Well… I’ve never actually tried to read that far back. Infancy? That would be interesting. The book is written by your own mind, so it can’t be too detailed. But maybe there’s something? We could try it.”

Shizuka couldn’t even believe it. Would their search end so soon? Maybe Hermit Purple wasn’t the right Stand for the job. It seemed Heaven’s Door would crack this wide open.

“Please, sir, read it. I need to know.” She sat down, ready.

He nodded, rubbing his chin as he examined her. “ Heaven’s Door!” He shouted as his Stand emerged, lunging forward and turning Shizuka’s left cheek into a page.

She stared at it in a mix of horror and fascination, not saying a word as Rohan approached, peeling the paper more and reading.

“I’ve never read someone this young. This will be easier than I thought… You don’t have much written.” He mumbled to himself. “This may take a few minutes… And I may see things you don’t want me to. Is that alright?” He asked.

Shizuka just nodded, feeling like if she spoke, her lips would turn to paper too. It was such an odd feeling, being unraveled like that. Jotaro didn’t seem concerned, though, so she kept her calm. After a minute or so, she began to shift awkwardly in her seat as she waited for him to get to the younger years.

“My goodness… You’ve gotten into more fights than me… You’re quite the handful…” He mumbled, squinting his eyes. “What’s this…?” He mumbled.

Jotaro approached curiously. “What do you mean?”

Rohan raised a brow. “I’ve never seen this… It’s a… Warning?” He mumbled.

“Warning? Could Shizuka’s subconscious not want these memories to come out?” Jotaro asked softly.

“I don’t care. Read it anyway, please. Ignore it.” She groaned, digging her nails into the sofa.

“Of course…” He peeled the page, reading further. “Six months old… Danger…” He read outloud. “Danger… Danger… Danger. Must be safe. Need to be safe now. Unsafe.” He mumbled, turning the page. “Have to escape.. Need to be safe from bad.” He continued.

“What’s bad? Was I attacked? Were my parents attacked?” Shizuka interrupted.

“I’m going back further. It seems like-” Rohan was interrupted by a large hand reaching out of the page and punching at him. “ WHAT? ” He shouted as the fist connected with his face. Another reached out, pummeling him in the face.

Rohan knew this wasn’t Shizuka. He read about her Stand, Achtung Baby. It was small, and primarily white. These hands were dark purple, and the arms were like voids. But they were coming out of her body? Was she being possessed? Or had an enemy latched onto her, like Cheap Trick did to him years ago? Either way, he needed to stop the attack. “Heaven’s Door!” He shouted, writing on Shizuka’s book.

Shizuka is five meters away from me.

In an instant, she was whipped across the living room and landed in the hallway. Jotaro’s eyes widened. “What are you doing, Kishibe!?” He grunted, but Rohan extended an arm.

“There’s a stand within Shizuka… One that isn’t hers.” He said grimly.

Shizuka was busy recovering on the floor, writhing in pain from the sudden jerking and landing. She whined, rolling onto her back. “Can I speak Japanese?” She groaned, resting her hands on her stomach.

Rohan sighed. “Right when I was about to read what happened, it attacked… What’s the meaning of this?”

Jotaro narrowed his eyes. “We could be under attack right now. Are you positive it’s in Shizuka?”

“Absolutely… It came from inside the book, like it was a part of her. This isn’t making any sense.” Rohan mumbled.

“We need a better look at it. Do you have a pen and paper?” Jotaro questioned.

Rohan spat, looking nearly insulted. “Yes, of course. Here.” He reached over to the coffee table and handed it to Jotaro. “Why? Are you going to draw it?”

“Lure the Stand out, and I’ll freeze time. Star Platinum’s eyesight and speed will get us a good picture of what we’re dealing with.” He mumbled.

Rohan sighed, stepping closer to Shizuka. “Great, I’ll just get attacked again…” He mumbled.

Shizuka sat up, looking at the men in confusion. “What happened? We’re under attack?” She demanded, backing away from him.

“Just be still, Shizuka. We’ll take care of it. I just need to read more…” Rohan mumbled, sending Heaven’s Door out. The moment it got within range, an arm extended from Shizuka’s face and swatted at Rohan’s Stand.

Jotaro shouted, “I got it. Back up!”

They both stumbled back, looking at the drawing. It was clear as day. Two dark, large arms extended from the book on Shizuka’s face and attacked Rohan. They only came from the page, though, not from any other part of Shizuka. Almost like it was trying to protect the information.

“You drew this in two seconds?” Rohan asked, raising a brow.

Jotaro grunted. “If everyone only gets one Stand, why does Shizuka have two?” He thought aloud.

“It’s possible that someone’s Stand has attached itself to her. I’ve seen that happen. That would explain why she’s not in control of it.” Rohan panted, his face still aching from the attack.

Shizuka was just holding her split face in confusion, feeling her heart beat faster and faster. “Jotaro, Rohan, what’s happening? I couldn’t see what hit you…. I don’t.. I don’t…” Her eyelids felt heavy, and her body couldn’t sit up right. She fell onto her back, hitting her head roughly against the wood floor. It didn’t matter, because she was already unconscious.

 

Shizuka’s eyes opened in a strange, yet familiar place. It was hard to pinpoint at first, but she slowly began to recognize the strange surroundings… It was just like her dream at the hotel. And just like before, the soothing woman’s voice began to sing.

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons… Skated over ten clear frozen streams… Words like, “When you’re older” most appease him.. And promises of “someday” make his dreams…

Her head started to reel, and tears streamed down her cheeks just like before. What was happening? She was in Rohan’s house, and then it all went black… She couldn’t even remember the specifics of when she passed out. Then she was here, yet again… Why was this song playing? Why did it make her cry? Where was she? The music continued.

And the seasons… They go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time… We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came… And go round and round and round in the circle game…

Shizuka knew what came next. The world around her shifted, revealing some building complex. It looked strange... She couldn’t quite figure out why though. The buildings just seemed built differently than she was used to. She quickly found herself inside. There seemed to be nearly a hundred young girls sitting at long tables. She’d heard about this in school. They were all working at sewing machines. Some of them were tearing up… Some of them had dead expressions. Many just seemed bored as they worked along the seams… Why was Shizuka being shown this? Last time, it was 19th century England. This seemed like it was in the twenties or thirties…

She felt the room move around her, placing her right next to an unassuming girl. The young girl had shoulder-length blonde hair, and was very small. In fact, she looked starved. An older woman’s heels clicked against the cold concrete floor, approaching the little blonde. She swatted at the girl’s hands with a ruler, scoffing.

“Debbie, you’re not producing fast enough. All of the other girls in this department can keep up. What’s your issue?” The woman demanded.

Shizuka could see tired black bags under Debbie’s eyes. It broke her heart, picturing a girl not much younger than herself working in such conditions. She just watched, hoping for some insight on why she was seeing this in the first place.

Debbie just frowned, eyes always looking down at her work. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I’ll get back to work.” She said obediently.

The woman seemed satisfied enough with that answer, walking away with a huff. The room shifted yet again. Then, Shizuka found herself in some apartment. It was nothing like the luxurious penthouse suite she grew up in. No, it was ragged, messy, and seemed like the floor even dipped in several places. She watched Debbie walk in through the door. The young girl was yawning, looking around. She sighed with relief upon seeing her father unconscious on the couch. He was surrounded by empty containers of alcohol. Finally, some respite.

While the apartment seemed lackluster, the location was nice. In fact, Shizuka recognized the view. They were in New York City. She had no choice but to follow Debbie, being dragged into a bedroom. There, Shizuka saw a sickly ill woman cradling a baby. Debbie smiled for the first time of the entire vision, approaching the bed.

“Hi, Mom. Hi Vera.” She rubbed the baby’s head for a moment.

The mother coughed softly. “Debbie, dear, please take Vera… I need to sleep.” She groaned.

“Of course.” The young girl smiled, cradling her little sister in her arms.

Then, a large man’s voice could be heard in the distance. “Sophie? You’re still awake… Good…” He slurred his words, stumbling into the doorway. It seemed to be the girl’s father. “Debbie, get out.. Take Vera to your room.” Is all he said.

Debbie bit her lip, not moving one inch. “Dad, Mom’s really tired, and she’s sick. Don’t bother her.” She said firmly.

The man just slapped Debbie, nearly sending the tiny girl to the ground in an instant. Shizuka gritted her teeth, unable to help. This had already happened… There was nothing to do but watch.

Get out, NOW. ” The father commanded, shoving his daughters toward the door.

As Debbie left the room, Shizuka was banished from it as well. However, through the closed door, she could hear some very… Adult things happening on the other side. A bedframe creaking, a man groaning, and a woman speaking softly. She recognized some of these things from movies, right before her Mom could skip to the next scene. Suzie Q wasn’t holding the remote this time, though. Some entity was deciding what Shizuka saw…

She found herself in Debbie’s bedroom. The girl cradled her sister, placing her down in a crib with a kiss on the forehead. “It’s okay, Vera… It’s all gonna be okay.” She cooed, placing a blanket over the child. “He’ll never hit you like that… If he tries, I’ll kill him.” She said in a dead-serious tone.

Shizuka could tell the girl meant it too… She rarely heard such a tone come from a child. Well, except from herself, of course. In fact, Debbie reminded Shizuka of herself in a lot of ways. The way she stood, her eyes, her frame… Why was she seeing this? Why show her some domestic life from the 20’s? Well, she didn’t get an answer. No, she merely had questions as the music began again. Soon, the world would flash, and she woke up on Rohan’s couch.

She stared up at the lovely ceiling with a blank expression, tilting her head to see if anyone was in the room. It seemed she was alone… She just sighed, resting her eyes once more. None of it made sense. She just wanted answers… Why was she only being given more and more questions? This mystery was beginning to seem to complex. Would she ever learn the identity of her biological parents? That was a question for later… For now, she merely rested her mind and fell back asleep.

Chapter Text

Friday, July 31st

Rohan Kishibe’s Home

 

Rohan, Jotaro, and Josuke were all upstairs in a lounge while Shizuka slept on the couch. Josuke was leaned against a wall, a hand over his mouth in contemplation after being briefed on the situation. Jotaro was sitting, legs spread and hands folded in his lap, staring at the floor. Rohan stood in the middle of the room with his arms crossed. Finally, one of them spoke.

“And this has never happened before? To your knowledge?” Rohan asked quietly.

“The old man never said anything about a second Stand. This is new.” Jotaro mumbled.

Josuke just stared at Star Platinum’s sketch. The artwork was so detailed, he could tell exactly what happened. A violent Stand’s arm tearing out of his little sister’s face, attacking Rohan. He sighed, moving his hand from his mouth. “Rohan, haven’t you dealt with something like this before?”

The mangaka nodded his head. “ Cheap Trick.. One of the Stands sent after us by Yoshikage Kira. It latched itself onto a contractor I hired to fix my house after someone burned it down.” Rohan narrowed his eyes.

Josuke scoffed. “Are we really still talking about that? You’re the one who burned your house down! I tried to put it out, but you stabbed yourself in the hand like a psychopath!”

“Because you cheated, Josuke! Like the punk you are. I’m sorry that I have integri-”

SHUT UP. Both of you.” Jotaro boomed, standing up. “Yare Yare… I don’t have time to listen to you two bicker like a married couple. Shizuka is under my protection until I bring her back to New York. I need to fix this. How did you remove Cheap Trick?”

Rohan shrugged, not appreciating Jotaro’s tone in his own house. However, he was mature enough to admit that he shouldn’t have bickered with Josuke. Even though Josuke was annoying, and made bickering so easy. “I took it to the alley where you can’t look back. It looked back, and it died.” He said plainly.

Jotaro frowned. “That’s too dangerous. It’s only revealing its arms. Who’s to say it will show its face? Not only that, but if we get into a fight, there’s a large chance one of us will get turned around. Particularly Shizuka. We’ll try something else.”

“If it’s a recent infestation, I could probably tear it away with my Crazy Diamond?” Josuke suggested.

Jotaro snapped his fingers, pointing to Josuke. “Perfect. We’ll try that.”

“Why’d you say recent?” Rohan raised a brow.

Josuke frowned a bit, sighing. “I mean… We don’t know where she came from. We just found her on the street. There’s a chance that she’s always had this… We might just have to deal with it.”

Rohan thought for a moment. “It only attacked when I tried to read about the event that separated her from her parents. Maybe it’s her subconscious? Stands evolve with age. This might be some sort of metamorphosis? Achtung Baby could be growing.”

“I’ll go check on her. Y’know, see if she’s awake.” Josuke sighed, walking out of the room.

Jotaro stood there silently for a moment before checking his phone. Three missed calls from Maura, and one from Jolyne. His eyes widened a bit. Why was Jolyne calling? She stopped doing that years ago. He checked the time. It would be around eleven at night in her timezone.

“Excuse me. I have to make a call.” He mumbled. “Can I have the room?”

Rohan nodded. “Sure, I’ll go downstairs. Josuke might think he can help himself to my food.” He chuckled, walking out and shutting the door.

Jotaro took a deep breath and dialed Jolyne’s number. It rang… and rang… and rang. He made peace with the fact that the call was probably an accident. Right before he hung up, he heard his daughter’s voice, and a pit formed in his stomach.

Dad?” She asked.

“Jolyne. Hi. Why’d you call?” He asked in a polite tone.

Oh… haha.. ” She laughed, sounding hardy and amused. “ Well.. Mom just told me that you divorced her. I know you said you would, but I didn’t expect you to do it over the phone… ” Her words were slurring together.

Jotaro raised a brow. “Jolyne… Are you drunk right now?”

I just wanted to call to thank you… You promised me, and you did it."   There was a bit of silence after her laughing stopped. When she spoke again, her tone was low and serious.  "Now don’t come back. ” She growled, hanging up.

Jotaro stood there still as a statue, still holding the phone against his ear long after the line went dead. His stomach twisted in knots, and his throat began to lock up. His jaw twitched a bit. His own daughter thanked him for divorcing her mother. Not only that, but she didn’t want him to come home? He tightened his jaw, clicking his teeth together. He had done this to himself. He had no right to be upset. He swallowed his emotions, cleared his throat, and pocketed his phone. Then, Josuke burst into the room.

“Jotaro!” He shouted, panting. “Shizuka’s gone!”

Jotaro’s eyes widened, and he balled a fist. “What!? Gone? Gone where?”

“She’s not on the couch! She left.” He explained. “C’mon, we’ve gotta go! She couldn’t have gotten far on foot.”

“Damn it… just give me a break.” Jotaro sighed, running out the door with Josuke.

 

 

A lovely breeze ran through Marina’s hair as she drove down the road approaching her home. In all honesty, she’d have to look into selling the estate. Neil Archer was very wealthy, but Marina wasn’t employed. If she was to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of her life, she needed to drastically downsize, invest, and live mostly off of interest. She pulled into her driveway, looking at one of Neil’s cars parked out front.

Her eyes watered up a bit, but she rubbed them dry and got out of her car. She’d cried enough over her father. His body was going to arrive later, and she had things to attend to. Funeral arrangements, notifying extended family.. Picking a suit for him to be buried in. She took a deep breath before walking up to the front door and opening it.

It was hard not to sniffle while walking into the home they shared together. Neil had been a single father, raising Marina ever since her mother died in labour. He wasn’t always an honest man, or a brave man… But he was good to her, and she loved him. Framed photos of the two lined the walls. She’d need to take those down.

“So much to do..” She sighed, sitting down on the bottom step of a large staircase. She looked around the empty home… It would take ages to pack all of this up. She was tempted to hire someone, but knew she could do it herself for free. She already let the groundskeeper and maid go. Yes, she planned on getting a nice flat closer to the city. Something modest.. Close to people. Perhaps she’d even go to university. That would be nice. She could meet new people, learn things.. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get some sort of profession, even if she was inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars from Neil. She needed to keep herself busy. Speaking of busy, she stood up and walked into the living room.

“I’ll start by packing this.” She mumbled to herself.

In the corner of her eye, she noticed something strange. A figure in the reflection on her television screen was standing about ten feet behind her. She acted like she didn’t see it, keeping calm. It wasn’t the groundskeeper, nor the maid… Could it be squatters? In this neighborhood? Normally she’d be screaming, but something changed her in Amsterdam. She just sighed.

“Walk past me and leave. Now. Don’t make me turn around.” She groaned, sounding irritated.

Nothing happened. She couldn’t hear footsteps. She balled her fists. “Listen, you’ve caught me in a very bad mood. If you don’t start walking, you’re going to be sorry.”

A woman chuckled, walking closer to Marina. “Sorry? The only one who’s going to be sorry is you, orphan.” She stopped inches behind Marina, whispering into her ear. “ Where’s daddy?

With a burning flame in her heart, Marina spun around and swung Bubblegum Bitch’s bat at the stranger.  The woman ducked underneath it, giggling. “Wow, that was close!” She smiled, jumping back.

Marina took a step away, bringing her Stand in front of her. “You can see Bubblegum Bitch? That means you’re a Stand User.”

The intruder just laughed. “Uhhhhhhhmmmm, a-doy! You win the prize, nobody’s ever put those two pieces together.” She snickered.

“And if you’re in my house, that means you want to fight. Hmmm?” Marina questioned, her voice lowering as she narrowed her eyes.

“Yes, I am.” She said confidently, tilting her head and inspecting Marina.

“What’s your name?” Marina questioned.

A spark lit in the enemy’s eyes. Then, a sickly smile drew across her lips. “Joyce. And you’re Marina.” She said factually.

“Well, Joyce, you’d better leave. Now. ” She warned.

“Ap, ap, ap… It’s not your turn, Marina. Now, I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to answer it. If not, some very bad things will start happening.” Joyce explained, circling around Marina.

“Excuse me? You’re leaving, or dying. Your choice.” Marina growled.

Joyce snapped her fingers. “We’ll start simple. What took you so long getting home from Amsterdam, Marina?”

Marina scoffed. “Like I’d tell you.”

It seemed like Joyce loved that answer. She arched her back, closing her eyes and moaning. She ran her hands up her legs, exhaling through her teeth. “Very good… Now, slam your head against the floor.” She ordered.

Marina was about to laugh. What was this woman on? Where did she get off? But she was gripped by fear and confusion as her body got onto its hands and knees, looking straight at the hardwood floor. “Wait… Wha-” In a brutal whipping motion, Marina slammed her face against the wood. She shouted in pain, pulling herself up and cupping her bloody nose.

“Your turn, kitty.” Joyce purred, stepping closer.

“What kind of sick fuck…?” Marina groaned, looking up at her predator as she prowled around.

Joyce paused, smiling “ That’s your turn? Okay. I’m the kind of sick fuck that gets things done.” She smirked, stepping back from the bleeding girl. “My turn. Why did you only get home from Amsterdam today?” She growled.

“Fuck off!” Marina growled, beginning to stand up.

The enemy shrugged with an expression of, ‘I gave you a chance.’ Then, she smiled. “Don’t move for twenty seconds.” She ordered.

Marina was about to protest, but she felt herself freeze in the middle of standing upright. Her eyes were even locked in place. She could merely watch as Joyce approached her, licking her lips. The woman reached forward, dragging her long nails along Marina’s jawline. “Such a pretty face, hmm? Too bad it slammed against the floor.”

Without an ounce of mercy, she slapped Marina across the face. The clapping sound filled the room, bouncing off the walls and the floor multiple times. Marina could feel it, but she couldn’t stop it. Joyce slapped her again from the other side. Then a third time. Then, for good measure, she punched her in the gut. Joyce stepped away, snapping her fingers. “Twenty!” She said happily.

All of the blows struck Marina at the same time once she was unfrozen. She grunted, feeling the force of multiple slaps, and a strike to her stomach. She couldn’t stand, falling down and curling up in pain for a moment. It was all happening so fast. Not to mention the extreme pain she kept enduring. Her mind couldn’t piece it all together. She just knew it involved questions.

“Tell me what’s happening!” She shouted.

Joyce stopped for a moment, smirking. That was certainly good use of a question. “ Truth or Dare…” She purred, a Stand appearing and posing above her. “I’m sure you’re familiar with the rules… You either tell me the truth, or you have to do something… Anything.”

Marina spat up a bit of blood. She accidentally bit her tongue during the last beatdown. “Fuck… That’s rough.” She admitted, looking up at her foe.

Joyce just chuckled. “Isn’t it great? So you see the position you’re in? Either tell me what I want to know, or the pain will get so much worse.”

“It isn’t great.” She answered honestly, smirking. “Now it’s my turn.”

The woman cursed herself, looking annoyed. “Shit.. I normally never slip up like that. I suppose you win. Go ahead.”

Marina grinned. “Truth or Dare… Who do you work for?”

Joyce shrugged. “The organization that killed your father.”

A dark anger covered Marina’s face. “You’re going to regret telling me that.”

The woman snickered. “Now, I’m going to ask one more time, since you seem a bit thick. Why didn’t you get home days ago?”

Marina knew she was in a bad position. She didn’t want to give any information away to the enemy, but she feared what would happen next if she didn’t. “I stayed in my hotel for a few extra days.”

“Ding, ding, ding, wrong! If an answer doesn’t give any information, it’s like you refused to answer at all. Now, scratch your face until it bleeds.” Joyce ordered.

Marina took a deep breath as her long nails dragged along her face, slicing the skin and drawing blood down to the bottom of her neck. She huffed, adrenaline beginning to pump more as the fight continued. “Who killed my father?” She demanded.

“Wagner. A bit of prudish, stoic, boring man. More like a slab of wood than anything.” She smiled.

Marina already knew that, but at least it confirmed Shizuka’s story. Joyce stepped forward. “Now… Did you meet with Jotaro Kujo, or Shizuka Joestar in Amsterdam?”

“Never heard of them.” She said firmly.

Joyce chuckled. “That’s a lie, honey. And I can see that you’re not afraid of me. I’ll change that. Pull out one of your front teeth.”

Marina’s stomach sank, and she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand. She could feel her heart pounding in her head as she dreaded what was about to happen. Bubblegum Bitch’s hand approached her face, parting her lips and reaching in. The Stand’s fingers gripped her front right tooth, locking in place. Marina was heaving, closing her eyes and sweating. She shouted in a mix of pain and fury, tearing the tooth from her mouth slowly. Eventually it severed from the flesh, coming out and dripping blood onto her shirt. Marina shouted, barely feeling the pain as adrenaline filled her veins. “FUCK! My turn! Who’s your boss?”

Joyce smirked. “ My boss? Well, that would be Wagner, actually.”

“Is Wagner the head of your organization?” She questioned.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk… You don’t get two questions in a row, silly girl. Now, tell me, was your mother Cynthia Armstrong before she married your father?” She asked softly, stepping closer.

Marina just panted, not even understanding why Joyce would want to know. “Yes…” She sighed. “Now, is Wagner the head of your organization?”

“No. You don’t know how to ask good questions.” She approached Marina, smirking. “We’re coming up close to the end of my questions, sweetie. I just have a couple more. What do you know about Shizuka Joestar’s stand ability?”

Marina scowled, still grunting in pain as blood slowly but surely trickled from her mouth. “No idea. I fought Jotaro. That’s it.” She said with conviction.

Joyce looked unimpressed. “A lie, Marina. Seriously, you are thicker than pig shit.”

Marina took a deep breath, anticipating whatever fresh hell Joyce had waiting for her. The woman stepped closer, not within the range of Bubblegum Bitch though. “You know the drill. Stand perfectly still for thirty seconds.”

She stepped closer, getting her Stand out. Then, without mercy, she unleashed a frenzy of attacks right into Marina’s center mass. She punched for thirty seconds straight, pulling away right before the effect wore off. “If you can still speak after this, I have more questions.” She said grimly.

Marina stood still even after the time wore off. She just looked down at the ground, speechless. Then, a small smile came to her lips. “You should have asked…. What my Stand does….” She growled.

Marina’s skin began to ripple, and she stood up straight. In an instant, all of the attacks that hit her throughout the thirty seconds flew out of her skin, pummeling Joyce relentlessly. Every attack hit dead-on, sending the woman flying back into the kitchen. She slammed into several cabinets, taking them down to the ground with her. Drywall was torn out and destroyed, sending dust into the air around them. Then, she landed right next to the sink, slamming her head against the metal faucet.

The younger woman confidently strutted up to Joyce, glaring down at her. “Your attacks hit the first time because I wasn’t expecting them. But you should never try the same thing twice against an enemy…” She grabbed Joyce by the scruff of her neck, inches from her face. “Now, who’s the leader of your organization?” She growled.

For the first time, Joyce showed a bit of fear in her expression. She swallowed hard, looking into Marina’s eyes. “Blondie.” She finally admitted.

Marina raised a brow. “ Blondie? Who the hell is that?”

Joyce’s eyes went dark. “It doesn’t matter that you know, because you’re going to die… I have to admit, I wasn’t going to kill you, but you asked the wrong question.”

Marina smirked. “Just try to attack me, bitch .

Once again, Joyce grimaced. “Watch it.”

For a moment, Marina was confused. It seemed like she’d crossed a line, though, which was funny considering that they were in a fight to the death. Still, she could use this.

“Oh? Don’t like being called a bitch? Eh?” She grinned.

“It’s my turn, Marina. And I have more questions.” She kicked the girl away, dodging the blowback from Bubblegum Bitch’s ability and rolling off the counter. “What bank did your father use?”

Marina froze. Such a strange question. Just like with the rest of them, she had to assume that this information was crucial. “The fifth royal bank of your whorish mother.” She answered, looking for more sour words that would anger the woman.

Enough! ” Joyce shouted, stomping her foot. “See this match?” She pulled one out of her coat pocket, grinning. “Burn your hair with this.”

She threw it to Marina, who stared at it in shock for a moment. “You motherfucker…” She whispered, striking it against the wall and lighting it. Since she hadn’t been home to a proper shower in days, she used product to keep her hair looking presentable during travel. She knew how flammable hairspray was… She took a deep breath, raising the lit match to her hair. In a flash, her head ignited in flames, burning at an alarming rate. She screamed, hitting it with her Stand in an attempt to extinguish the blaze.

Joyce laughed uncontrollably, throwing her head back in amusement. “Your turn, Marina dear! Or are you a little preoccupied?”

Marina stumbled forward in an attempt to find the sink. She was hit away by Truth Or Dare, causing her to fall back. The flames began trailing up her hair, approaching her scalp. In a desperate attempt, she grabbed a slab of wood from the broken cabinets and used her Stand to send it flying toward the sink. It hit the faucet, breaking it and causing a steady spray of water to fly out. She managed to crawl under it, all the while slapping her hair with her Stand. Eventually, the flames simmered down, leaving a large portion of her long blonde hair scorched. She coughed, panting in exhaustion and suffocation from the smoke she inhaled. She pounded the floor, shouting in a raspy voice.

“Why do you hate being called a bitch!?” She demanded.

Joyce glared down at her. She didn’t want to say, but she knew lying could be fatal. “I have a long history with that word. Tons of rancid people calling me it time and time again.”

Marina spat blood again, her gums supplying a steady stream of it. “What, so you’re a hurt little bitch? Who was it? Was it your Daddy? Hmmm? Did he hit you? Did he touch you?” She stood, wiping her mouth. She would normally never say such awful things to someone, but she held no compassion for such a horrid person.

Joyce growled, biting her tongue in anger. “What do you know about Shizuka’s Stand? We have reports that she can use it to turn invisible. Is that all? Or is there more to it? Many Stands can cloak their user using some aspect of their ability.”

“Eat me, skank.” Marina scoffed.

Joyce had nearly reached her limit. She gritted her teeth, wanting to fly into a fit of rage. She couldn’t, though. She needed to stay in control. She needed to be the strong one. She took a deep breath, collecting herself. “Stand still for one minute.” She growled, grabbing a large lighter from her coat pocket. “If you’re made of rubber, normal attacks won’t work. But that doesn’t matter, does it? I’ll burn you.”

Joyce walked past Marina and into the living room area. She held the lighter against the couch until it slowly began to burn up. Then, she did the same with another chair. When that wasn’t working fast enough, she held it against a power outlet. This caused a flashing spark, and a small explosion in the wall. Smoke poured from the outlet socket, and the fire alarm began to go off. Joyce giggled, cheering. “Well there we go! This works perfectly!” She returned to standing in front of Marina, lowering the lighter to the girl’s face.

“Sixty.” Marina said outloud, having been counting the entire time. Bubblegum Bitch swung her bat, striking Joyce in the arm that was holding the lighter.

Joyce stumbled back, noticing her arm turning to a strange boneless form. At that moment, every light in the room burst, and flames erupted from the ceiling. The room was falling apart. Water sprayed from the broken sink, holes scattered the wall, cabinets were shattered and scattered along the dented floor. And on top of everything else, the fire was spreading dangerously fast.

What bank did Neil Archer use!?” Joyce screamed over the calamity.

“It’s not your turn, bitch. ” Marina growled. “You stupid, weak, useless bitch. You can’t even interrogate right, can you? CAN YOU?” She stepped closer, slamming Joyce in the head with Bubblegum’s Bat. The woman fell to her knees, holding her hand to her head. Then, they were stuck together. She tried to sever them, but couldn’t. She started to panic, struggling.

“What is this!? Tell me what this is!” Joyce demanded.

ANSWER MY QUESTION! YOU’RE USELESS, RIGHT?” Marina screamed, kicking Joyce in the stomach. “You’re useless, and pathetic, and were a waste to your organization! That’s why you were sent on such a pointless mission. They sent you to die! Didn’t they? They hate you!”

Joyce shook her head, shouting “No! You’re wrong! I’m important, and they need me!”

For a moment, there was silence. Well, silence in the sense that no one was talking. The house was currently burning around them. The fire alarm blared in their ears, and sirens could be heard in the distance. Marina just looked down at Joyce calmly.

“That was a lie. You don’t believe what you just said is the truth.” She mumbled.

Joyce broke. She began to sob, snot trailing down her face as she cried into her hands. Marina didn’t feel anything for her.

“I guess that means it’s my turn to give a dare, huh?” She mumbled.

A massive piece of ceiling fell and landed right next to them. It snapped Marina out of it, and she realized the situation was dire. She just looked at Joyce with cold eyes.

“Stay here and burn.” She ordered, turning and walking away.

Horrified, desperate screams filled the neighborhood as Joyce begged Marina to change her mind. Eventually, the screams were replaced with cries of agony. Then, only silence. She had burned alive in the home. Marina walked out with a cold expression, her hair singed, her tooth pulled out, and possibly a broken rib. She had nothing on her. Her suitcase was inside…. Everything but her purse and keys. She sat in her car, turned the keys, and pulled out of the driveway. On her way out of the lovely neighborhood she passed a few firetrucks, likely heading to her house. They wouldn’t find anything of value there. No, Marina understood what had to be done. She wanted to go home, but they made it very clear that she needed to take action. She couldn’t rest until this ‘ Blondie’ was dead and buried. That was the only thing that mattered.

Chapter Text

Friday, July 31st

Streets of Morioh, Japan

 

Shizuka was wandering the streets aimlessly. She watched people pass her by both by foot and car. Everyone seemed happy. It was strange. New York was such a melting pot of culture. It seemed like no two people were the same. But here? Everyone was like her. She’d always been a foreigner in America, even though she’d lived there her whole life. That wasn’t the case in Morioh… It was her home, her culture, her people. They didn’t pay her any mind as she walked by because she belonged… It was certainly complicated in her heart. Despite how at home she felt, she couldn’t deny how odd everything was. The roads, the buildings, the signs… None of it was like New York. It’s funny. How could someone feel so at home, yet so homesick at the same time?

It seemed like evening was looming over the skies. She must have been unconscious for a long time. When she woke, she had gone upstairs and heard the adults talking. They were so worried about whatever was attacking Rohan. She didn’t want them to worry. No, she had her suspicions about The Circle Game. It was showing her tidbits of history at its own pace. It probably attacked Rohan because he was trying to skip the show. She just had to ride it out. She had been in danger before. The Circle Game didn’t feel dangerous… It didn’t even feel alien. Her memories of the visions were a little blurry, but she remembered the vivid grief she experienced at the sound of the woman’s voice. None of it made sense. She was determined to get answers. And if Josuke wanted to tear the Stand out of her with Crazy Diamond, she needed to avoid him for a while.

Her cell phone began to ring. She nearly ignored it, thinking it was one of her family members desperately trying to reach her. Still, she curiously lifted the device up and checked the caller ID. It wasn’t a number she recognized. She raised a brow, lifting it to her ear.

“Hello?” She asked skeptically.

Shizuka.” A familiar woman’s voice said seriously on the other end.

It took a moment to pinpoint the voice, but soon it clicked. “Marina? You actually called? I didn’t think you would. Did you make it home safe?” She smiled, pleasantly surprised by the call.

Marina didn’t seem like she was in the mood for a chat. Her tone was urgent and direct. “Wagner’s organization was waiting for me at my house. They burned it down. I took care of it.” She said.

Shizuka’s eyes widened. “Oh god. Your house is destroyed? What are you going to do now?”

Marina was currently cruising down the highway, heading for her father’s bank. Her scorched hair blew in the wind, blood stained on her chin and lips as she spoke on the phone. She sighed. “I tried to step away, but they wouldn’t leave be. I’m in it now, Shizuka. Like you. I know this sounds silly because we’ve only met once, but it feels like you’re my only ally on Earth right now. Where are you? I’ll come to you.”

“Sheesh… Wow, uhhh.. I’m in Morioh Japan.” Shizuka said anxiously, taking in everything Marina had to say.

“Never heard of it, but don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. Just stay put, okay love? I have a stop or two along the way.” She pulled off, nearly at her destination.

“Okay. Be safe. Really, really safe. Traveling is dangerous when these guys are after you.” Shizuka mumbled.

“They’ll be busy sweeping up the ashes of their operative for the next few hours. I’ll slip on out of the country in my father’s plane. And don’t worry, I’ll pilot it myself. See you soon.” She hung up.

Shizuka heard the line die and let her hand fall to her side. That was certainly a curveball. She sighed, looking around once again. It was hard to imagine anything violent happening in such a nice place. She walked over to a small tree overlooking a lake and sat down under it. If she fell asleep, she might have another vision from The Circle Game, right? It was worth trying… She turned invisible and rested her head against the tree. After some time, she felt her eyes getting heavy. The scenery was gorgeous, the weather felt just right, and there was nothing to worry about.. She was at peace. She was home.

 

Marina walked into her father’s bank. She caught several concerned stares as she approached the front desk. The man on the other end gasped when he looked up to see who was next. “Oh my goodness, Ma’am, are you okay?”

She nodded. “Just had a rough day. I’m fine. I’m Marina Archer. My father died last week, and I’m here to clean out his safe deposit box. Here’s his death certificate, and his will.” She mumbled, sliding them over to the worker.

After a minute, the concerned man cleared his throat. “I-I’m sorry, of course. Right this way.”

He lead her through a few hallways, arriving at a secure room. All along the walls were tens -if not hundreds- of lock boxes filled with personal treasures. They arrived at Neil Archer’s, and the worker respectfully pulled it out. It wasn’t very big, certainly not big enough to house anything too important.

Marina held the box in her hands, eying it carefully. She turned to the man, gently asking, “May I have the room, please?”

He nodded. “Of course, ma’am. Take as much time as you need. When you’re ready, just leave the way you came.”

“Thank you..” She nodded, rubbing the box with her thumb as she waited for the man to leave. Once he was gone, she set it down on the table in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and opened it up. She didn’t really know what to expect, but she certainly didn’t find what she was thinking.

Inside the lock box were three items: a small camcorder that she recognized from family trips, a key hanging from a silver chain, and a black feather… She raised a brow. What a strange assortment of items. Though, something was definitely off about the feather… She’d seen bird feathers kept as relics before. This particular feather was different… It wasn’t aged at all… It was still just as lush and soft as if it was just plucked from a bird. Not only that, but it wasn’t stiff and straight. It wavered as she moved it. It seemed to be in perfect condition as well… Not a single strand was missing from the steam. It was large too…. Almost unbelievably so. What bird could such a feather have possibly come from? Her eyes drifted over to the camera. She picked it up, turning it around and switching it on. The viewfinder lit up, and she clicked the media button. One video… Her throat tightened up when she saw Neil as the thumbnail. She quickly clicked the play button, waiting for whatever he had to say.

“Marina… If you’re ever seeing this, it means that I wasn’t strong enough. I’m sorry.” He began.

Her eyes watered as she saw her father alive and kicking in the recording.

“It’s July 20th, 2009… I just finalized preparations for my… transaction. As far as you know, I’m bringing us to Amsterdam on business. I suppose you must be wondering why I even took you if I planned on dying…” He chuckled weakly. “Well… I just wanted to spend one more day with my little girl. I’m sure we’ll do some fun things before my meeting on Sunday night…” He wiped his eyes, sniffling. “Don’t cry for me, honey… I’ve known this was coming ever since I met your mother. Cynthia told me I wasn’t strong enough for a Stand of my own. But maybe… Maybe if I need to protect you, I can find it within myself. That’s not the reason I’m doing this though... “ His eyes got serious. “You’re going to be in danger soon… Both of us are. And if I can’t protect us, then I can at least give you the tool you need to protect yourself… I’m doing this so you’ll have a Stand, Marina. I know you’ll be strong enough…”

Marina’s face scrunched up, and she covered her mouth with her free hand, sniffling a bit. Everything was coming together in her head. The way her father had been acting his last week alive… The way he hugged her before he left… His death… It was all for a reason. It was so she could have Bubblegum Bitch.

“Cynthia wouldn’t tell me much. She just wanted to move past it. She did tell me, though, that this organization was a danger to all of mankind. They call themselves Red Eden.. Some type of apocalyptic cult… I honestly don’t know much about them. I just know that you need to be careful. There’s also one thing you need to do… The black feather in the lockbox? Keep it safe at all costs. You cannot let Red Eden get their hands on it. Don’t worry about being delicate with it, though. As far as I can tell, it’s indestructible. Feel free to shove it in your pocket.”

Marina held the feather closer to her chest, understanding her mission. Neil smiled on screen, looking right into the lens.

“I believe in you, Marina. I’m sorry this is falling onto your shoulders… But you’re a woman now. You’re inheriting the world from Cynthia and I, and inheriting its problems too… I just wish we could have left you a better one. But don’t fret… I’m with her now. And even if this all goes wrong… We’ll have you with us too. So just do your best for the world. And for yourself…” He sighed, wiping his eyes again. “That’s all I really have to say. I’m rubbish at endings… Just… be good. Okay?” He smiled, reaching over and ending the recording.

Marina cleared her throat, letting tears run down her cheeks as she thought about the video… She had to get to Morioh, to Shizuka and Jotaro… They’d be able to help her. She was certain of it. She wasn’t as alone as Neil thought.

 

Shizuka woke to the feeling of two arms shaking her gently by the shoulders. She was startled, turning visible again in shock. Her eyes adjusted, and she saw Josuke kneeling in front of her. She rubbed her eyes, looking at him in shock.

“J-Josuke? How did you find me?” She questioned in amazement.

“You left a couple hairs on Rohan’s couch. Crazy Diamond returned them to you. I am a detective you know?” He chuckled, looking around. “So why don’t you tell me what’s wrong? Before Jotaro and Rohan catch up?”

Shizuka sighed, looking down at the grass. She balled her hands in her skirt a bit as she looked for the right words. “I don’t want you to remove the Stand, Josuke.”

He seemed at a loss. “But Shizuka… It could be dangerous. It attacked Rohan.”

“I can feel something in me, Josuke… Something protective. I think it’s the Stand… I can’t really explain it. I’ve been having these weird dreams… Dreams that show me things I shouldn’t know. Things that should be impossible to know. But I’m having them. And they’re detailed. I think the Stand is trying to tell me something, I just need to wait long enough to figure out what.”

Josuke frowned, deep in thought. “I suppose we can try to wait it out… If you really think it’s the right move.”

Shizuka nodded, hugging her legs as she leaned against the large tree. There was a brief honk from a passing car. She noticed, leaning to the side to see. A woman had stopped in the middle of the empty road, lowering her window.

“Josuke! Still out and about? You’re working yourself right into a grave!” Tomoko called out.

Josuke’s face went pale, and he turned to see his mother. “Oh, hi Mom! Don’t worry! This isn’t anything big!”

Tomoko raised a brow. “Who’s the kid? My boy isn’t giving you any trouble, is he hun?” She asked Shizuka.

Mom? Was this Josuke’s mother…? Why didn’t she know who Shizuka was. Didn’t he talk about her? How could she have never come up? Come to think of it, how had she never met Josuke mother? Before she could say anything, Tomoko just laughed.

“I’m just teasing. Josuke, you should come over for dinner tonight. That is, unless you have a date? Hmm?”

Josuke sighed. “Mom, I already told you I’m too busy with work to date. I’ll be there, I just need to get this child home, okay?”

She nodded, waving. “Alright, alright.” A car honked behind her, wanting her to move along. She turned her head. “HEY! Watch it! I’m talking to my son here! What’s so damn important?”

Josuke laughed wearily as she slowly drove off. He knew something that couldn’t be undone just transpired. He looked back to Shizuka with hesitation, scanning her expression. She just looked down at the grass, twirling a small flower stem.

“So… your Mom doesn’t know I exist?” She mumbled, not looking into her brother’s eyes.

He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Shizuka… I don’t know how much you’ve been told about the family situation. You’re pretty young.”

“Maybe you can finally explain to me how we have different Moms. I’ve talked to people at school, and that’s not normal when both Moms are still alive…” She mumbled.

Josuke rubbed his face, realizing that he was the one who had to explain their father’s infidelity. Great. That was totally fair. He sighed, taking a deep breath and sitting down in the grass with her.

“Do you know what a bastard child is?” He asked softly.

She looked up in shock. “That’s an insult, right?”

“Yes, but it also has a meaning… It means that I grew up without a dad. Because Joseph Joestar got my mother pregnant, and went home to New York.” He explained slowly.

Shizuka looked totally lost. “What…? But… You have kids when you’re together. And married?”

“I’m not gonna go into details. That’s really not the point of this talk.” He laughed nervously. “But… he did something bad. He cheated on your mother with mine… And that’s how I was born.”

She slumped lower on the tree, her face reflecting the state of her mind as she learned these things. “Cheated? Dad? How? He loves Mom so much…”

Josuke sighed, looking for a way to explain it. “Sometimes… people are impulsive. They do things without thinking about the long term consequences, or how it will hurt others. That’s much easier when you’re drunk, and a pretty woman is tugging on your arm…”

“Why wasn’t I ever told about this? You’re so much older than me… This happened before I was even born. They’ve always known… And they never told me?”

“They moved past it. I get why they didn’t want you to know… But you deserve to, I get that. I spent my whole childhood thinking my Dad was some jerk who left without a word… I don’t think they wanted you to think that about Joseph.” He reasoned.

She stood up, crossing her arms. “And this is better? Learning about it now, from someone who wasn’t even involved? Do they even love each other anymore? Or are they just together because it’s easier?” She questioned.

Joseph stayed sitting, shrugging. “Those aren’t questions for me, Shizuka… I’m sorry.”

“And you!” She got even more fired up. “You’ve gone ten years without telling your mom about me? I’m your sister! What’s the deal? Are you embarrassed of me? Does she even know Dad has other kids?” She questioned, raising her little voice more than usual.

Josuke took the temper without anger. “My mom’s still in love with Joseph Joestar… I don’t bring him up, ever. I don’t know if she’s aware of Holy, but she’s not aware of you. I’m afraid that if you met her, you’d remind her of…” He frowned. “The life she could’ve had with him. If he was single when they met. I’m just trying to protect my Mother… I’m sorry, Shizuka.”

She looked away. “How am I supposed to feel about all this? My dad’s a cheater… He broke Mom’s heart. Am I just meant to move on like everyone else did?”

Josuke thought for a moment, realizing where they were. He smiled softly, pointing down the hill and toward the pond. “See that? The day we found you, you rolled down this hill and into that very pond…” He stood up, taking her hand and walking her down. “Dad was so afraid, so was I… You flew right into the water, and became invisible… We tried to find you, but it was looking bad... “ They stopped right by the water.

“Then.. He took a knife and cut his arm open, bleeding everywhere. He did that so we could see where you were in the water… He didn’t know what Crazy Diamond could do… He didn’t plan on getting better.” He explained. “He just wanted to save you. That’s all that mattered. Before he even knew you. That’s what Joseph Joestar does.”

Shizuka stared at the crystal pond in awe, the setting sun casting an orange glow across the sparkling water as her brother spoke. Still, it didn’t feel right. She crossed her arms, frowning. “That was life or death… I’m talking about how he is every day. The little things… What does any of it mean if he cheats?”

Josuke pondered this for a moment, remembering a conversation he had years ago. “Do you know why Dad does what he does?”

“Real Estate? Because there’s money in it, right?” She mumbled.

He chuckled, shaking his head. “No… He had money. He would've done anything. He could’ve been a doctor, a police officer, a politician, a teacher… But he was drawn to Real Estate. Wanna know why?” He asked.

Shizuka just shrugged, not seeing where Josuke was going with this.

“The little things. Sure, he could save lives, but he already had his fair share of that. He could mold young minds, but he doesn’t really have the patience for that… He decided that he wanted to help people find their home. The perfect dream house. If they didn’t have money, he’d work for free… He’d call in favors, haggle prices, and strong-arm landlords as much as he could to make sure his clients got their perfect home… He said that no matter how hard life is, having a lovely home to return to every night makes it all manageable… That’s who our father is. Yes, he cheated… But he’s not a cheater. He made a mistake, but it’s over. SuzieQ was furious, but she chose to move past it… They’re not unhappy, at least I don’t think. They got married before they were even twenty, and have been together for seventy years… It’s pretty amazing, when you think about it. They’re the real deal. And they refused to let anything change that… So you can look at our father as the sum of his mistakes… Or you could appreciate his accomplishments… You know he saved the Earth, right?” He chuckled.

Shizuka laughed a bit, nodding. “Can’t get through a barbecue without hearing that story…”

Josuke wrapped an arm around Shizuka, pulling her against him and looking out over the pond. “I’m happy to have you in Morioh… And you can come with me to dinner if you want. Mom will be happy to meet you.”

Shizuka wiped her eyes, smiling wide as she turned her face and buried it in Josuke’s coat, nodding. He smiled, getting out his phone. “I’m just gonna call so she has some time to process…” He laughed, dialing her number.

 

It was about thirty minutes after dinner. Jotaro, Josuke, and Shizuka all sat in Tomoko’s living room. The adults were sipping wine, while Shizuka sat cross-legged on the floor with a cup of water. Tomoko leaned back in her chair, resting a hand on her brow as she laughed.

“I can’t believe you’ve had this family for so long, Josuke, and you never told me.” She smiled, crossing her legs and taking a sip.

“I was worried that you’d be upset, because it’s Joseph’s family..” He admitted.

“Oh hush!” She swatted the air at him. “They’re your family, and that makes them mine too. And look at you, so cute! I always wanted a girl~” She said teasingly as Shizuka, causing the young girl to blush.

Jotaro put down his drink, looking over at Josuke. “By the way, congratulations on making sergeant. You’ve always done everything you could to protect this town.”

Josuke laughed nervously, not very used to compliments from Jotaro. “Thank you. You’ve done your fair share too, y’know?”

“Oh?” Tomoko tilted her head. “Are you in law enforcement too, Jotaro?”

The room was quiet for a moment. Then, Jotaro spoke. “Of the sorts.”

“Really? What do you do?” She smiled, leaning forward a bit.

Jotaro didn’t particularly enjoy lying. However, they were in a bit of a bind. “I’m a Marine Biologist for a living…” He began. “..but in my free time, I’m a bounty hunter.”

Bounty hunter!? ” Tomoko giggled. “You’re shitting me! Oops, sorry Shizuka..” She laughed, her face turning red. She clearly had enough wine. “So you hunt down criminals?”

Well, that was a pretty accurate statement, actually. He didn’t have to lie much at all. “I like to think it’s more of taking out the trash.” He shrugged.

Tomoko loved that, laughing again. “Oh, you’re too much. I normally wouldn’t buy that for a second, but you’re pretty shredded for a biologist.”

Everyone laughed at that. After a bit, Josuke stood, nodding to Shizuka. “Wanna help me clean up in the kitchen?” He offered her a hand.

She accepted jumping up with the help of his strength. They walked into the kitchen, and Josuke began to place dishes by the sink. “Feeling better about everything now?” He asked, turning on the water.

Shizuka nodded. “It’s nice to just… be here. I never get to spend much time with any of you, y’know?”

Josuke smiled, turning to the sink. “Well, we can fix that. You can fly here, I can come over on holidays… It’ll be nice.”

She could hear Jotaro and Tomoko laughing in the other room. Jotaro’s laugh was an odd thing to be sure. Maybe it was more common when alcohol was involved. She didn’t know. Either way, it was a wonderful evening. She wished her Mom and Dad could be there. It was almost enough to make her forget about the looming danger of Wagner’s organization. Almost… That lingered in the back of her mind along with The Circle Game. However, for one night, she could just relax. Just this once, there was no one to fight, and no danger to be heard of. She could enjoy a bit of peace.

 

Outside the Higashikata household, a cloaked figure stood behind a few trees. He reached into his pocket, taking his cellphone and making a call. A woman picked up on the other end.

Yes?” She asked in a droning, apathetic tone.

“I’ve located Jotaro, Josuke, and Shizuka… I could kill all three of them if you wish.” The man whispered, staring at Jotaro through the window.

There was a pause of contemplation. “ We don’t have files on Josuke’s Stand, and Shizuka could be hiding her true ability. You need to be absolutely certain of this .” The woman warned.

“Do you want me to eliminate them?” He asked simply.

After another moment, she spoke. “ Yes.”

He hung the phone up, licking his lips. He’d never even struggled against a target before. He didn’t plan on starting now… No, he’d destroy all three Jojo’s, then maybe have some fun with the beautiful mother. Yes, that sounded like a plan…. He chuckled, sinking into the darkness. The perfect opportunity would arrive any minute…

Chapter Text

Jotaro was still sitting in the living room, sipping slowly from his glass of wine as Tomoko told him a story. His eyes wandered around the room as he listened, eventually looking out the window. That’s when his heart stopped. He shot straight up, standing with such force and worry that his chair fell backwards, hitting the floor with a thud. His heart was practically beating out of his chest. Sweat started to appear on his forehead, and all he could hear was his heart, and his own heavy breathing. It couldn’t be possible. It had to be a dream. Standing outside the window was none other than… DIO.

He stood completely still, unsure as to whether or not this was some sort of illusion. The man on the other side of the window seemed to seal… From his confident smile to his intimidating stature… It was definitely the DIO Jotaro remembered from all those years ago. But how? It had to be the work of a Stand. There was no way the vampire somehow came back from the dead. Jotaro’s eyes shot to Tomoko.

“Tomoko, don’t panic. Go find Josuke and Shizuka and tell them we’re in danger.” He said calmly.

But… Tomoko didn’t flinch. In fact, she hadn’t reacted to him knocking her chair over either. She was still just sitting there sipping her wine. Was she under some influence too? Before he could say anything else to her, he felt something familiar. Something horrifying. Time stopped, and he wasn’t the one who did it. A ripple spread throughout the room, turning his surroundings grey. He gasped, turning to the window. After a moment, he couldn’t move. He struggled with all his might, but slowly stiffened up.

The World manifested behind DIO, and the vampire licked his lips. Then, with a flurry of punches, he shattered the window. Glass flew right at Jotaro, freezing inches from his face as he watched helplessly. DIO stepped through the window frame and entered the living room. His steps were the only sound to be heard in the entire world. Jotaro’s frozen eyes stared as DIO got closer.

He let out a sadistic laugh, posing in front of the frozen crusader. “Hello, Jotaro. You knew I’d come back for you… Didn’t you? You couldn’t have possibly thought you were rid of me? Did you think you could hide under your blankets like a terrified child waiting for sunrise for the rest of your life?”

At that moment, time resumed. Veins became visible on Jotaro’s face as he screamed, and Star Platinum sent hundreds of punches at DIO immediately. The World appeared, blocking every single attack. The two Stands attacked each other for a few moments before DIO lunged forward, striking at Jotaro with his own hand. Star Platinum blocked it, opening himself up to be struck right in the face by The World. Jotaro flew back into the wall, bleeding from the wound on his head as he struggled to stay standing.

DIO stepped closer, snickering. “This wasn’t my first stop after I came back to life… No, my first order of business was paying your dear family a visit.” He said in a deep, grim tone. “Joseph Joestar…. Suzie Q Joestar…. Maura Kujo… And of course, Jolyne. ” He moaned. “All dead. Don’t worry though… They died for a good cause. Now I’m even stronger than before. With all of this Joestar blood running through Jonathan’s body… I’m unstoppable!”

Hearing the scum of the Earth uttering Jolyne’s name was enough to send Jotaro into a blind rage. He attacked again, holding little regard for his safety as he approached the vampire. DIO just laughed, shouting, “THE WORLD!”

Time froze again. Jotaro didn’t have much time. He tried to finish the monster off. Every fiber of his being fought to stay moving till the very last moment. However, his human body reached its limit, and soon he found himself frozen yet again. DIO chuckled, stepping closer. He stood inches from Jotaro, tracing the man’s chin with a long finger nail. Then, he dig his fingers into Jotaro’s neck, sucking the blood from his body.

“Joseph fought till the end, you know? He tried to protect his frail, skeleton of a wife. It was useless though… Useless, useless, useless….. Shockingly, a man who needs an oxygen mask when he sleeps isn’t very adept at hamon… I killed him as his wife wept, and then I killed her too…” He spoke calmly to Jotaro as his blood drained slowly.

It had to be some sort of trick… Jotaro refused to believe this was real. It didn’t make any sense. It couldn’t be… Still, DIO’s words scarred him. The image was enough to disturb Jotaro’s very core. Time seemed to have been frozen for over twenty seconds… DIO really was stronger than before. Would be be able to freeze it indefinitely? Would Jotaro even stand a chance? As his blood drained, his vision blurred. It wasn’t looking good….

 

Josuke was washing the last of the dishes when he thought of something amusing. “Y’know, Shizuka,” He turned his head to look at his sister, only to see a pile of ash in her place. His eyes attempted to adjust to the sight, but he was unbelievably confused. That’s when a familiar voice pierced the silence like a knife.

“Higashikata Josuke…. Your sister… Has such lovely hands.” Kira mused, standing on the other side of the kitchen with a small pale hand.

Josuke’s eyes darted to the man, and his jaw dropped. He bit his bottom lip, staring in horror. “Yoshikage Kira….” He whispered. “Who’s… who’s hand is that?” He questioned, already knowing the answer.

Kira just laughed. “I think you know the answer to that….” Killer Queen appeared, causing Josuke to summon Crazy Diamond.

“How are you here!? You were killed! And Remi told us your soul was torn away in that alley!”

Kira just smirked, posing with Killer Queen. “Did you really think they’d hold me forever? I got away. And now, I’ll haunt Morioh for eternity… With my Killer Queen. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”

Crazy Diamond grabbed a knife from the dish rack, sending it flying toward Kira at lightning speed. The knife went right through the man, stabbing into the wall behind him. Kira lost it in laughter. “I told you, Higashikata Josuke, I’m dead! You can’t hurt me! I’ve won. I’ve finally, finally won!”

Josuke stumbled back against the sink, his stomach tied in knots as he tried to comprehend the situation before him. His worst fears were coming to fruition… For years he’d lay awake in bed, terrified of this. Was there any way to stop him? Could you kill a ghost? His breathing began to increase in speed, and he felt light-headed. How was he going to get out of this?

 

Shizuka was walking the trash to the curb absentmindedly. She plopped the large bag into the can and sighed. It was a lovely night. The air was a perfect temperature, there was a slight breeze, and it smelled nice. She couldn’t really say New York City smelled nice. There was also so little light pollution. She could actually see the stars. In the distance, she saw a figure limping down the sidewalk. Shizuka tilted her head, peering around the trash can and watching the stranger approach.

After about twenty seconds, it became apparent that the figure was a bleeding woman. She had a large wound in her stomach as she limped down the sidewalk. Shizuka’s eyes widened, and she rushed over to her.

“Are you alright?” She questioned, looking at all the blood.

The woman just stared down at her with vacant eyes. They were devoid of empathy, reason, or soul… The only emotion those eyes held was resentment. The woman scowled down at Shizuka before growling,

“I’m not alright.”

Shizuka froze for a moment, but quickly stuttered, “W-Well… That’s fine… I can help.. My brother can help! He’s a surgeon.. I could go get him?”

“I can’t be helped… You already killed me.” The woman spat.

The hair on the back of Shizuka’s neck stood tall, and she felt her mouth getting dry. No… It couldn’t be. Shizuka felt some sort of familiarity to the injured woman. Something that couldn’t be explained, only felt. She had dismissed it at first, but…  

“You useless, pathetic child… You got me killed. Me, and your father.” The ghost of Shizuka’s mother shouted.

The young girl felt weak in her knees, struggling to stay standing as her mother berated her. Shame quickly swept over her, and she looked down at the ground. For the first time in a long time, she slowly flickered a bit. She faded, turning invisible out of pure humiliation and fear. Her mother noticed this, laughing.

“Really? Trying to hide from me? Trying to run from your past? That’s all you do, Shizuka. You run, you hide, and you suck the life out of anyone unfortunate enough to pity you! Joseph, Jotaro, Marina, Josuke, Suzie, you’ve taken everything they have and pushed them beyond their limits! All for some fantasy! Because you take, Shizuka! That’s all you do! You took my life, you took your parent’s twilight years, you’re taking Jotaro’s time. What else do you need? When will you be satisfied?” She shouted.

Tears slowly streamed down Shizuka’s cheeks as she listened. She choked a bit on her emotions, looking up at the woman. “S-Stop…” She begged in a tiny, pitiful voice.

“Stop? That’s my line! I was begging for the man who killed me to stop. I could have gotten away if it wasn’t for you! And look what you’ve done with the gift of life… You’ve lived all of it in your past! Dwelling on what was, instead of what will be! You’re a pathetic creature. It should have been me. I should have been the one who survived.”

Shizuka’s trembling, twitching hands slowly curled into fists. She gritted her teeth, mumbling, “You’re not my Mom.”

The woman raised a brow. “Oh, really? You think I’m lying?”

“No…” Shizuka whispered, wiping her eyes. “I believe you gave birth to me… But you’re not my Mom… My mom would never say these things to me… She’d never make me feel like this. You’re an awful, horrible lady.”

The mother laughed, hanging her head back in raw amusement. “Oh, spare me with the found family bullshit! Is that the lesson you’re taking from this? It shouldn’t be. They hate you too! You think Joseph and SuzieQ will take you back after this? You should just let them die in peace.”

Achtung Baby appeared, and Shizuka stood tall. She never stopped crying, but it didn’t matter. She growled. “Leave me alone.”

“Oh, what are you going to do? Pummel your dead mother to a pulp? Go ahead. Prove me right. Prove that you’re an unruly, ungrateful child!”

Shizuka stopped, and Achtung Baby vanished. She looked down for a moment. “No…” She mumbled.

“No?” Her mother questioned. “What do you mean no?”

“I’m not doing this… I’m not giving you the satisfaction… I’m done.” She whispered.

“Excuse me? I am your mother. You don’t get to decide when you’re done.”

Shizuka smiled weakly. “I was terrified of this, y’know? That you didn’t want me. That I somehow caused your death… It kept me up at night. I was horrified that it was all my fault… And that my biological parents would hate me… But I was wrong. None of this is my fault. I was a baby! I didn’t do anything! I’m over it, and I’m over my fears! You’re not scary, Mom! And you can say whatever you want! I’m DONE!”

Everything was silent for a moment. Shizuka’s mother looked shocked beyond belief. Then, oddly, she began to flicker. The entire world flickered… Things were getting blurry, and Shizuka felt sick. Soon, she couldn’t stand, and she found herself falling face-first onto the concrete. Then, everything went black…

 

Shizuka shot up, gasping for air on the floor of Tomoko’s kitchen. Her chest was killing her… Stinging sensations fired throughout her entire body. Multiple limbs were asleep, and she felt lightheaded. Why was she gasping so hard? Had she not been breathing? Was all of that a dream? She held her chest for a moment, panting. That’s when she noticed Josuke slumped over the kitchen sink. He was unconscious…

“Josuke..” She groaned, pulling herself up and walking over to him.

She carefully turned him over, seeing that he was out cold. Was there a gas leak? Carbon monoxide? She could barely think. “Jotaro!” She called out hoarsely, but to no response… Why was she so out of breath? That’s when she got a morbid thought. She pressed her head against Josuke’s chest, waiting for signs of breathing. There was nothing. Josuke wasn’t breathing either. Panic set in shortly after. How long had they been out already? She knew the human body could live anywhere from six to fifteen minutes without oxygen, but severe brain damage would begin happening after about five. Why wasn’t he breathing? She noticed his heart was beating out of control. Like he was panicking… Just like her dream. That’s when she realised it. They were under attack. This was the work of an enemy Stand.

Shizuka stumbled back from Josuke’s body; eyes darting around the room for possible attackers. It didn’t make any sense. Normally when a Stand was long range, there was some sort of trip-wire… You had to do something to fall victim to it. Could this Stand really just knock you out and suffocate you? How did she even get out of it? She racked her brain for a moment, trying to remember. That’s when it hit her. She was confronted with something horrible, and she beat it. The moment she rejected that image of her mother, she woke up. For a moment, she thanked her lucky stars that her mother wasn’t really like that. It was some ploy. Her mind wandered to whatever Josuke was seeing. He’d be able to beat it. He was so much stronger than her. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to track down the user. He couldn’t be too far away judging by the strength of the Stand. She just needed to find him… Wherever he was…

The door slammed open as Shizuka sprinted outside. She looked around for anything suspicious...She was invisible, of course, in case the person had something else up their sleeve. She crept through the darkness, her family’s lives draining by the second inside as she searched. This had to end immediately. She needed to find the Stand User… That’s when something whizzed right by her head. It took her a moment to realize that it even happened. She took a small step to the left, looking behind her. Lodged in the side of the house was some sort of… dart? A bit of liquid oozed down the house from the tip of the dart. Was the enemy trying to knock her out again? Was that a part of it? Another dart flew right past her, shockingly close to her location. How was he tracking her? She was completely invisible? She stumbled back, falling onto her ass. Where was he? Where was the enemy?

Shizuka’s breathing became irregular as panic set in once more. Josuke, Jotaro, and Tomoko were all dying inside. It was completely up to Shizuka to stop that. That’s when she heard a sadistic laughter from the distant tree-line.

“Oh-ho, little girl! I can smell it! You’re absolutely terrified! Are you realizing how futile this all is? Just go back inside and wait for it all to end! There’s no defeating F.E.A.R… It’s a natural instinct! You’re a slave to it!” He teased from afar.

Shizuka knew he was right. She couldn’t shake that horrible, gut-wrenching feeling… She was terrified of this man, and terrified of what he could do. That’s when a dart hit her finger in the grass. It only nicked her, drawing a bit of blood. She held a hand over her mouth, shaking the dart away and rolling onto her side. How the hell was he locating her? He clearly couldn’t see her, otherwise he’d be hitting her head-on… She began to feel lightheaded… Whatever was in that dart clearly took effect… Why was he trying to knock her out with darts…? How was he seeing her? Shizuka’s vision became foggy as she stumbled to her feet.

She thought about his words for a moment…. He said he could smell her fear? It seemed absurd, but with such a Stand, that was entirely possible… Was he tracking her by the scent of her fear? How could she stop being afraid in such a situation? It was becoming too much… Her entire body felt hot, she could only hear the sound of her rapid breathing, and she felt herself shaking like a child.

That’s when Achtung Baby manifested, clapping its hands together. Shizuka was completely lost… She hadn’t done that. Somehow, Achtung Baby was operating on its own again. Just like that alley with Wagner. There was a flash of light, and suddenly, a complete duplicate of Shizuka was lying unconscious beside the real one. Still invisible, Shizuka stared in shock. However, she knew what this was… She knew the intention. It was a diversion. But how did Achtung Baby do that? Was her power more than just invisibility? She didn’t have much time to think. She needed to act. To figure out this man’s Stand. Why was he trying to knock her out with darts? That would never work against Star Platinum… That couldn’t be how his Stand worked.

He must have something else as well… Another way to render people unconscious from a distance. But… if they were unconscious, why not just kill them? It didn’t make sense… She watched a shadowy figure approach from the distance. It was him. The user walked up to the clone’s limp body and analyzed it carefully. He licked his lips, grinning ear to ear.

“So terrified… I can feel it… The adrenaline… The rage… The determination… Which is why I know..” He grabbed a dart. “You’re not really unconscious.”

Shizuka’s eyes widened. If he threw that dart, it would go right through the clone. It wasn’t physical… She had to do something to prevent it. She needed him to get closer. That’s when she heard the door to the house open. Her eyes darted over to the door, and the enemy’s did as well. She hitched her breath, watching Tomoko walk out of the house with her cellphone to her ear.

“Yes, I think there was some sort of gas leak, or something. I’m Tomoko Higashikata. Yes, that Higashikata. Josuke is here! I need help getting them out of the house.” She urgently shouted. “They’re not breathing! I need ambulances!”

Shizuka stared wide-eyed at Tomoko. She’d broken free from the Stand’s grip before Josuke or Jotaro? Shit. Now she was a problem… Another variable. Tomoko noticed the man standing on the sidewalk.

“HEY! You! I need your help getting two huge men out of my house! They’re unconscious!” Tomoko shouted to the enemy.

He raised a brow, playing dumb. “Oh? Of course! Does she need help too?” He gestured to the fake Shizuka.

Tomoko hadn’t even noticed the little girl lying unconscious in the grass. She let out a small shriek. “Shizuka!? I almost forgot about her! Oh my goodness, yes, her too! What’s she doing out here?” She questioned, rushing over to the clone.

Shizuka gritted her teeth as she watched the woman approach their enemy. Shit… shit… shit… She had to stop it. What could she do? That’s when it hit her…

As the man was approaching Tomoko with a dart behind his back, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Jotaro Kujo was standing in the doorway, glaring right at him. He froze in place. Had Jotaro already woken up? The man was certain that Jotaro’s fears consumed him whole. How was he awake? The enemy stepped back a bit in fear. He knew he couldn’t take on Jotaro Kujo.

Tomoko turned her head and saw Jotaro. “You’re up?! Get Josuke! He’s on the kitchen floor! I can’t lift him!” She shouted desperately.

Jotaro just looked at her, not moving very much at all. Tomoko raised a brow. “Jotaro!? C’mon! Josuke’s not breathing! What’s your deal?”

As the man was piecing everything together, he felt something strange. The darts behind his back were forced upwards in a sudden jerking motion, piercing his skin. His eyes widened, and he felt his vision blurring. Before he could protest, he fell face-first into the grass. Shizuka became visible once more, and the two illusions vanished. She was panting, a bit of that drug in her system as well.

“Tomoko…” she said hoarsely, falling to her knees. “They should be awake now…”

The grown woman starred in shock. How had Shizuka moved all the way over there? Where did Jotaro go, and why was that man unconscious? Shizuka panted, coughing a bit as she wheezed. “Go give Josuke CPR… He’ll be able to help Jotaro…” She begged. As the woman began to approach her instead, she shouted “ GO! Inside! Help Josuke! I’m fine!”

Tomoko backed away, nodding in understanding as she rushed inside. Meanwhile, Shizuka fumbled closer to the unconscious man, shoving her hands into his pockets in search of any kind of identification. She found a phone, with a call dated five minutes ago. The number was redacted, though. She just sighed, falling over and looking up at the stars. She did it.. She protected her family. She was nearly unconscious when she heard the sound of someone running. She turned over and looked, unable to immediately make out the figure. Soon, however, her eyes adjusted and she realized it was the enemy running back into the house.

She gasped, trying to stand up. He was faking it…. He wasn’t unconscious! Without even feeling her legs she felt herself getting up. Each footstep was a loud thump in her head as she sprinted to the house. She stumbled into the doorway, spotting the man standing in the living room with Tomoko.

“You’re cornered!” Shizuka grunted, leaning against the living room door frame.

The man spat, pointing at her. “How do I even know you’re the real one, trickster? Just stay back! None of us are leaving! Not conscious, anyway!” He growled, grabbing a small container that was pinned to his belt.

Shizuka’s eyes widened when she saw it. Before she could act, he pushed the button on the side of the container. A green mist began to spray from both ends, filling the room. Shizuka desperately ran over to attack the man, but quickly fell flat on her face. Within ten seconds, the entire room was unconscious. The wail of an ambulance could be heard in the distance. Help was just about there.

Chapter Text

For the second time in a week, Shizuka awoke in a hospital bed. Her memory was fuzzy, but she knew enough. They were in danger… She couldn’t be in a hospital bed. Her family needed her. A nurse walked in and noticed she was awake.

“Hey there, hun! Glad to see you’re up! Mind telling us what happened?” She asked softly.

“Where’s my family?” She demanded, sitting up.

The nurse was shocked by the little girl’s energy. “You’re in the pediatric ward… The adults are in the other wing.”

Shizuka sprang out of bed, sprinting out of the room and turning invisible as she bolted through the hallway. The hospital was complex, and she had no idea where she was going. She turned all of the walls and ceilings invisible looking for her family, but to no avail. She eventually found the front desk, slamming her hands against it and turning visible once more. “What room is Sergeant Josuke Higashikata in? I’m his little sister!”

The man working the front desk was startled by her sudden arrival. He rubbed the back of his neck in confusion. “What…? He was checked out ten minutes ago. His mother already got him…”

Shizuka pounded the table. “His mother!? She was hospitalized with him! Don’t you guys check anything!”

The man was taken aback by Shizuka’s anger. He’d never been scolded by a child. Meanwhile, Shizuka looked around. “What about Jotaro Kujo? And Tomoko Higashikata?”

The man typed away at his keyboard for a moment before mumbling, “They’re checked out too…”

“God dammit! When? Where? By who?” Shizuka demanded.

The man just stuttered, looking like a deer caught in headlights. Shizuka sighed, knowing he’d be useless. She just turned and ran out of the hospital. As she sprinted through the courtyard she looked for ways that the man could have escaped… Eventually, she saw him in the distance. He was loading them into a large van across the parking lot. She sprinted as fast as she could, quickly arriving at the truck. She focused, sending a fake Shizuka across one end of the van, approaching from the other side while invisible.

A Stand’s fist went through the clone’s face, causing it to flicker a bit. The man growled. “Where are you, Shizuka Joestar? Show yourself! Your Stand is pathetic! It’s a coward’s tool!”

Crouching on the other end of the van, she took a deep breath. “Help me figure something out….” She called back. “If you need to knock us out for your Stand to work… How’d you do it the first time? It couldn’t have been darts… Did you get closer? If so, why not just kill us?”

The man chuckled deviously. “I could have, yes. But that’s so boring! No, no, I love the look on a corpse made by my Stand! The utter, petrified expression of pure terror. When you die in complete fear, your face never returns to normal. It’s… beautiful. ” He cooed longingly.

Shizuka was disgusted… Only a real piece of shit could make such a Stand… Every day she became more and more displeased with the arrow, and its creations. She couldn’t believe the capacity some people had for evil… “That was your mistake… You should have killed us when you had the chance…” She threatened.

“Oh? Why would I have done that when it all still worked out? I could have killed these idiots in their hospital beds too! But I didn't because I wanted to see your face when they died! I baited you, Shizuka Joestar! And now it’s time!”

Shizuka’s blood was boiling… She could feel a deep, primal anger within her soul. This man, this repugnant man… He deserved to die painfully, like he had no-doubt made others endure. She felt something inside herself shifting. Her very soul was morphing. She shook violently, her body unable to stand properly. She leaned against the trunk, letting out a cry of rage. Then, there was a burst of light. All the windows in every surrounding car shattered, and the van shook on impact.

The man stumbled back, nearly being crushed by the violent shaking of the van. He tried to adjust his eyes, looking through the shattered windows. However, he should have looked up. Shizuka jumped onto the roof of the van, causing a few loud thuds against the metal as she glared down at him. She looked… Different.

Shizuka Joestar had changed. She looked sharper… Her eyes were dangerous, tinted purple instead of their old black hue. Her hair blew in the wind, several colored streaks could now be seen in her shoulder-length locks. It was a spectrum of purple and pink shades mixed in with her natural tone. She snarled down at the man, standing tall above him.

“What’s your name?” She demanded. “I want to know your name.”

The man was completely taken aback by the sight before him. “I… uh… It’s Ian. But you’re delusional if you think you can beat me. You think I care that you dyed your hair and put some contacts in!? You’re still just a kid! A weak, tiny, pathetic kid!”

Shizuka growled, manifesting her Stand. It was different. It certainly wasn’t Achtung Baby. It was a taller woman with wavy purple hair, toned arms, long legs, and deep glowing white eyes. Ian stammered a bit, feeling sweat drip down his face. “W-What the hell is that? Your Stand changed… Stands can’t change!”

Shizuka’s purple eyes began to glow, and she looked up at her Stand in fascination. “This… Isn’t Achtung Baby… Her name is Ultra Violet.” She said confidently, posing with her Stand. She towered over the pathetic man, her eyes nearly blinding him.

“Y-Your power was never invisibility…” He whispered to himself. “It was light. You can manipulate light…”

She smirked, approaching the edge of the van’s roof. Then, in a flash of light, Ultra Violet appeared in front of Ian. His eyes couldn’t even track it. She moved too fast. The Stand balled a fist, and Ian knew there was no stopping it. He closed his eyes, preparing himself. Ultra Violet sent out a lightning-fast barrage of punches, screaming in an otherworldly, echoing voice.

“HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA HORA…” She screamed, shattering Ian’s ribs and mercilessly pummeling his center mass. The punches weren’t necessarily harder than that of a human. They were just so fast. So constant. He could never hope to block them. His body was just forced further and further back into the car behind him. He dented it, feeling light-headed as his body was destroyed.

Shizuka gritted her teeth, not finished with him yet. She squeezed her fists so hard that the veins on her wrists became visible, stomping her foot as her Stand somehow punched even faster.

Horahorahorahorahorahorahorahorahorahorahorahorahora!” She jumped off of the van, lifting her arm. Her Stand’s fist became one with her own. She fixed her bangs, eyes glowing brighter as she took a deep breath. “And listen closely, because I’m only saying this one more time…” She growled. Then, one-in-the-same with Ultra Violet, she sent one final punch to Ian’s face. “ HOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAA!

The man screamed, flipping backwards and over the car. He landed pathetically like a ragdoll on the other side, twitching unresponsive as his throat let out odd noises. She stepped around to see him, scowling at the mangled body. “Nice expression.” Is all she said, turning away and walking to the van. She slid the door open, seeing her family inside.

“Jotaro, wake up.” She said roughly, slapping his face gently. “You’ve gotta get up. We were under attack, again… And you were sleeping the whole time… Again.

After a moment, Jotaro woke with a start. He looked left and right, his heart nearly beating out of his chest. “Shizuka?” He questioned in confusion. “Where are we? Where’s…? Was it all a hallucination?”

“It was an enemy Stand. He spiked our drinks… It’s a really long story. I defeated him.” She sighed, feeling sore all over.

Jotaro finally noticed her cosmetic changes, and Ultra Violet hovering behind her. “You’ve… Changed. What happened?”

She shrugged. “Dunno… I just got so angry, and I felt myself twisting, I guess? I didn’t want to be afraid anymore, and I wanted to protect you guys. This dude was just so… disgusting. It triggered something in me. Is that normal?” She asked softly.

“I’ve seen it once. It’s possible. Your Stand evolved. It can have effects on your physical body too. Do you feel okay?” He asked.

“Just sore.” She admitted, laughing a bit. “Can we wake Josuke up? I kind of ruined that car, and I feel really bad about it.”

He smirked. “Can’t exactly leave your insurance information, can you?” He joked, tapping Josuke’s shoulder. “Josuke, get up.” When that didn’t work, he punched his shoulder.

“Agh, I’m awake! I’m awake!” Josuke groaned, stretching his legs. He realized that he couldn’t stretch much, and his eyes opened. “Wait… Where the hell are we?”

“We’re at the hospital… I can explain everything later… Where’s Tomoko?” She asked, looking around the van. Finally, she noticed her sitting in the back of the van, eyes wide open. She had seen everything. Shizuka’s breath hitched. Before anyone could speak, Tomoko mumbled,

“Joseph Joestar once showed me a trick… When he was in town all those years ago, we were walking home from the bar. There was a drunk man harassing a woman on the other side of the street… He smiled, which was out of character. Then he told me to watch this… His bottle of beer began to fizzle, and he fired the cap across the street and hit the man right in the head. Knocked the guy out cold… I couldn’t believe it. Then, he showed me his hand glowing gold. He had powers. I never thought I’d see something like that in my life. He said he could do it his whole life… Got it from his Mom..” She spoke calmly, clearly in shock. “I always wondered if my Josuke had something… Like that. But he never mentioned it, so I eventually moved on… Even when weird things happened, I took his excuses at face value. But… this whole time, you’ve had powers, don’t you? All three of you?”

Shizuka was at a loss for words. Jotaro didn’t want to say anything, either. Finally, Josuke sighed, looking down at his lap. “Mom… I didn’t want you to know about any of this because it’s not a part of my life! I haven’t been involved in this stuff for years! I didn’t want you to worry…”

“Bullshit, Josuke. I’m worried right now, aren’t I? Worried, and in the dark! I just watched your ten-year-old sister send a grown man flying over a damn car with a single punch! And I’m supposed to believe Jotaro is a bounty hunting biologist? Tell me the truth. Right now.” She ordered.

Josuke bit his lip, looking around. “Can we… take care of the guy first? I’ll tell you everything at home. I promise.”

Tomoko sighed, crossing her arms and looking out the window. “Fine. Just… take care of it.”

The three Jojos walked out of the van and around the other cars. Shizuka’s eyes widened when she saw the man holding a phone to his ear. His body was twisted and bent unnaturally, but he could apparently move his arm enough to grab his phone. They overheard the ending of his urgent whispering.

“.....Ultra Violet! Her Stand changed! Its power is light! Light!” He noticed them and dropped the phone.

With a calm expression, Jotaro lifted up the phone. He held it against his ear and listened.

Ian? Ian, are you there? If you don’t answer in three seconds, I’m hanging up.” A woman growled.

Jotaro waited a moment before speaking. “This is Jotaro Kujo. Who am I speaking to?”

There was dead silence on the line for a moment. Then, the line cut completely. He looked, and the call was over. The number was redacted. He crushed the phone with Star Platinum, dropping the bits. “He ratted you out, Shizuka.” He growled.

Josuke stepped forward, punching his open palm. “And he kidnapped my Mother….” He growled.

Shizuka walked up between the enormous men, glaring down at him. “We should make sure he doesn’t ever do anything like that ever again.”

Ian stammered pathetically, helplessly scooting his broken body away from the Jojos as he whined. “W-Wait! Wait! You don’t want to kill me! You don’t want to! You’re the good guys! The GOOD guys! Good guys just teach lessons! Teach me! I’ll be good! I’ll try to learn! Just please, don’t!” He shouted.

“A lesson, huh?” Jotaro growled, adjusting his hat. “Welcome to class. I’m Professor Kujo, PhD, and these are my assistants.”

Star Platinum, Crazy Diamond, and Ultra Violet manifested. Ian just sobbed, thrashing to the best of his ability. Shizuka looked coldly at him. “His Stand pits you against your greatest fear while you suffocate to death, all so he can enjoy your terrified corpse… He’s the lowest of low. He couldn’t learn if he tried.”

Josuke grinned, running a comb through his hair. “Don’t be so hard on the guy. I used to be a bit of a delinquent too… I’ve found the best way to teach a student like that is hands-on…”

All three Stands attacked Ian at once. Meanwhile, the users stared down at him motionlessly.

Ora ora ora ora ora ora ora” Star platinum roared, sending incredibly powerful and quick jabs at Ian’s stomach.

“Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora!” Josuke shouted, striking Ian’s legs.

“Hora Hora Hora Hora Hora Hora Hora Hora Hora!” Shizuka and Ultra Violet screamed, pummeling his head.

Ian’s body thrashed uncontrollably, spazing in every which way as the three relentlessly attacked him. They kept going and going, until Ian could no longer register pain. Soon, he fell unconscious, still twitching reflexively at the attacks.

The Stands cried out, finishing the man off for good. After a few cathartic seconds, Jotaro pulled away. He turned his hat slightly, flexing Star Platinum and sighing. “Shizuka, say something.”

Shizuka just spat on the pavement, running a hand through her newly colored hair. “ Class dismissed. ” She mumbled, putting her Stand away.

Jotaro smirked, getting his phone out. “I’ll call the foundation. Josuke, can you clear up the local situation? There will probably be questions from the police.”

Josuke nodded, wiping his face in exhaustion. “Yes, yes, I’ll take care of it… You two should just get a taxi to the hotel. I need to talk to my Mom anyway.” He messed up Shizuka’s hair playfully. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She smiled softly, looking up at the stars. It really was beautiful in Morioh. Despite that, she was more than ready for a good night’s sleep. Between jet lag, Stand fights, and the emotional toll of the past few days, she was completely spent. She barely remembered getting back to the hotel. The moment her head hit the pillow, she was out cold.

 

The next morning, Shizuka rolled lazily out of bed. It was the first time in a long time that she wasn’t woken up by anybody… She just got to naturally wake up. After a bit she wandered into the bathroom and brushed her teeth. Shizuka yawned loudly, stretching her arms up high. Her eyes met her reflection in the mirror, and she was shocked…. She knew there had been changes, but she didn’t really think to look. Her eyes were violet… And her hair had a variety of purples and pinks… She looked different, to say the least. Before, she looked unassuming… Maybe a tad cute, yes, but unassuming. Now she was eye-catching. Note-worthy… Completely against the function of Achtung Baby. It was a little funny. She used to be so shy. She’d really come out of her shell recently. She eventually walked out of the bathroom and put on a shirt. After stretching again, she slid on a skirt and socks. Then, she flopped back onto her bed with a sigh. Maybe she’d go back to sleep for a while?

There was a knock at the door. Shizuka tilted her head curiously. Was it Jotaro? She had to admit, she was warming up to the big guy. Throughout their travels she was beginning to understand why he was such an absentee father. And maybe she could help him work that out. She wiped her tired eyes and hopped out of bed, walking over to the door. She swung it open, and was shocked to see Marina Archer standing outside. She… looked like shit.

Marina still had her singed hair, and it hadn’t been washed since the hotel in Amsterdam. She was in her clothes from the fire, covered in blood and sweat. She definitely reeked. She had a small bag slung over her shoulder, and a smile on her face though. “Nice to see you, cretin. May I come in? Perhaps you could lend me the shower?” She chuckled.

Shizuka just stepped to the side, eyeing the girl carefully. “Are you… Okay?” She asked slowly.

Marina laughed a bit, tossing her bag onto the bed. “What? I like your new look. Can’t support mine?” She joked.

“I mean, you kinda look like you got hit by a flaming train.” Shizuka admitted.

“You’re hilarious. It’s from the fight I got in. You know, the one that burned down my house.” She mumbled, stretching her arms.

“Oh… I’m sorry.” Shizuka frowned a bit.

“Don’t be sorry! The bitch who did it is dead. Now I’m on a bit of a vendetta, you see. I have so much to say! Goodness, I’ve been up for a while though… I could really use a nap. A shower, and then a nap… Wait, a shower, then food, then a nap. Yes, that’s how this’ll shake out.” She smiled, reaching over and grabbing the hotel phone. “Hello, Love? I’d like to order room service.” She paused for a moment. “Oh, sorry, sorry… Do you have someone who speaks English? Any English?”

Shizuka sighed, walking over and taking the phone. In perfect Japanese, she ordered the two of them breakfast, and hung up. Marina raised a brow.

“I thought you weren’t from here, cretin.” She smiled.

“A family friend taught me. But seriously, you need to slow down, because I’m completely lost. Are you okay? ” She questioned.

“No.” Marina said casually. “I need to shower, eat, cry, and sleep. Then I’ll be better. And after I sleep, I need to speak to Jotaro and yourself about business. Sound good?” She smiled, relaxing her charred head against the fine white pillow.

“Mhmm…” Shizuka sighed. And she was having such a nice morning…

 

Later in the afternoon, Marina had woken up from her deep sleep. She changed into the tee shirt she bought at a convenience store, and some white shorts. They were now all sitting in the living room of Jotaro’s suite. Marina, Josuke, Jotaro, and Shizuka all sat with tea, discussing what they should do next. Jotaro leaned back in his seat, sipping his drink before placing it down.

“Red Eden…” He mumbled under his breath.

“Have you heard of it?” Josuke asked, knowing that Jotaro was the encyclopedia for things like this.

“Never in my life.” Jotaro admitted. “From what Shizuka told us, I can pretty much summarize though. It seems like they’re a group of Stand users hellbent on annihilating anyone who isn’t capable of manifesting a Stand. Probably based on some misguided idea that we’re the only ones who are worthy to live in their ‘ new world order.’ ” He mumbled grimly.

Shizuka swung her feet absentmindedly as she sat on the nice sofa, deep in thought. “Why would they think that?” She finally asked.

Jotaro shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine. Throughout history humanity has oppressed itself for immature reasons. However, in war, it usually boils down a simple ideal. The strong deserve to live, and the weak don’t. The weak submit, and the strong either spare them, or execute them.”

Shizuka nodded, following so far. “So… we’re the strong, and everyone else is weak? That’s stupid though. ‘Weak’ people still offer so much to society. If everyone was just a big brute, we wouldn’t have art, music, science… Or anything that actually makes life fun.”

“It’s probably fueled by some serious mental issues. Self-hatred, a troubled childhood, a traumatizing event… Whoever this ‘ Blondie’ is has problems. Plain and simple.” Jotaro said in contemplation. “Well, it can’t be helped. We probably need to talk to Wagner ourselves.”

Marina perked up. “Wait, really? But, didn’t he bite his tongue off?”

“I can fix that, just like I fixed your hair.” Josuke shrugged. “I’ll have to ask for some time off… It’ll be fine. I haven’t had a family emergency before. I can just say my Old Man is getting surgery in America… But I hate lying to my boss.” He sighed.

“So we’re leaving Morioh…?” Shizuka mumbled under her breath, looking down at the carpet.

The room fell silent for a moment, before Josuke spoke up. “Hey, kiddo, we can come back when this is said and done, okay? This mystery isn’t going anywhere.”

She smiled a bit, nodding. “It’ll be easier to investigate without Stand attacks every day…” She admitted.

“Then it’s settled. Marina, you can fly us to Washington. I’ll let the foundation know we’re coming. Everyone should pack their things. We’d better take off soon.” Jotaro stood up, walking into his bedroom and dialing a number on the phone.

“More travel…” Shizuka groaned, leaning her head back.

“We can rest when Blondie’s dead.” Marina said with a stone cold expression, leaving the room.

That just left Josuke and Shizuka. He gave her a smile, picking up the phone as well. “Inspector. Yes, Sir. Hello, sir. I know this is very short notice, but my father…” He faded off as he walked out of the room.

Shizuka approached the large bay windows of the suite, resting a palm against the glass overlooking Morioh. Such a beautiful town… She’d be back, though. She would figure out the secret of her biological parents… She was just taking a detour. In fact, she was going home. Back to America… Washington D.C. Hopefully the flight would be easier than the last.

Chapter Text

Every law-abiding citizen adheres to a simple social contract informally signed with the government at birth. If you do as the government says, the government will protect you. Most people carry on their lives under the assumption that this is the case. However, the fact of the matter is that the government cannot protect everyone. Things slip through. People get hurt. These are facts of life, or rather, facts of death. So what is someone meant to do when society fails them? If you aren’t protected, cared for, or nurtured in the way one would expect, should it validate breaking your end of the social contract? Perhaps. It’s certainly the mindset of some...

It was fairly late at night when Jason Kendrick stumbled down the sidewalk in a drunken haze. He didn’t make it very far before being interrupted by a seductive call. 

“Hello there.” A female voice purred in the distance.

 For a moment he had to question if he was imagining it. Sure enough, however, he saw a woman walk around the corner of the sidewalk. He was blinded by beer goggles, but she didn’t seem very old. If he squinted, maybe he could imagine she was eighteen. She was tall though. In fact, she was taller than him. He had to rub his eyes for a moment before raising a brow.

“Eh? Sorry, hun, but I think you’ve got me mistaken for someone else. We’ve never met.” He slurred his words a bit as he swayed left and right. 

The mysterious girl just laughed. “But we could get to know each other, right?” She asked playfully. 

Jason thought about it for a moment. “Well.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “You look fun.” He admitted.

“Goodie!” She clapped her hands together. “Just one question before we start.” She narrowed her eyes. “Are those car keys in your hand?” 

The man was confused. “Uhm.. Yes? Yeah! They are. Why?”

The girl stepped closer, glaring down at him. “Car keys? You plan on driving even though you’re drunk? Don’t you know how wreckless that is? How many people die every single day because of that?”

Jason groaned. “Listen lady, I’m not here for a PSA. If we’re not going back to my place, I’m leaving.” 

At that very moment Jason noticed that the keys were missing from his hand. His eyes widened. Where did they go? When did they go? The girl snapped her fingers, and he was filled with an overwhelming wave of remorse. It was too much to cope with. He fell to his knees and held his head as tears erupted from his eyes. 

“I’m sorry!” He cried out, shrieking and sobbing like a child needing changed. 

The tall woman just sighed. “That’s good. Think about tonight next time you plan on driving drunk. I don’t care if you die, but the people you’re putting at risk don’t deserve it.” She turned her back to the man and began walking away.

As Jason sniffled, he felt his pockets were lighter than before. His cellphone, wallet, and watch were all missing. It didn’t make any sense. How had he been robbed? Why was he crying? His mind couldn’t put the pieces together. He just curled up on the concrete and sobbed. 

Shirlie Brooks got into Jason’s car and stretched her arms. After yawning a bit, she looked over to the passenger seat. “Nice work, Pepsi.” She smiled.

Another teenager appeared seemingly out of nowhere a moment after Shirlie finished. They had an apathetic mist about them, and their face was clouded in a fog of distortion. It’s not like they were invisible… It was just impossible to notice them. In fact, Jason didn’t notice them stealing his belongings until it was far too late. They handed Shirlie the keys without a word, relaxing a bit in the leather seat. 

“Where to next?” They asked apathetically. 

A smile tugged on Shirlie’s face as she turned the keys in the ignition. “Washington D.C.” 

 

Jotaro, Josuke, Shizuka, and Marina landed without incident at a small airport just outside the city limits. It was refreshing to go so long without some sort of enemy attack. Marina’s private jet really helped in that department. Yes, they made it. Washington D.C., short for “District of Columbia” was founded as the nation’s capital on July 16th 1790. It took ten years for Congress to officially set up in the city. Washington D.C. is unique among all other cities in the United States because it was founded specifically to host the federal government and serve as the nation’s capital. It is not a part of any of the 50 states, instead acting as an independent district. It has no senators or conventional house representatives despite having a larger population than some states. Washington D.C. is the home to the Speedwagon Foundation’s main facilities. There is also a location in Texas USA, and two smaller departments in Tokyo and Meguro Japan.

Before they could meet with Wagner, they had to wait a few hours for the Foundation to prepare him. Jotaro suggested a nice restaurant to pass the time. So, they found themselves arriving at a lovely little family bar on the outskirts of town. They were all fairly tired. Japan is thirteen hours ahead of Washington D.C., so it felt like they’d been up much longer than they actually had. It was only early morning stateside. Shizuka was slumped on the table with her head down, while Marina looked around curiously and Jotaro was reading a news article on his phone. 

Josuke stood up, stretching his arms. “I’m going to get a drink. Jotaro, do you want something?” 

Jotaro just shrugged. Marina lit up though. “I’ll take a beer.” 

Jotaro smirked slightly. “Not in the United States you won’t. The drinking age here is twenty-one.” 

Marina just stared at him. “Bull. Fucking. Shit. What in God’s name is wrong with this country?” 

Shizuka shrugged, sitting up lazily. “It’s not all bad. You get used to it,” She reasoned. 

Marina scoffed. “Spoken like someone who can’t drink in any country. Fine. I’ll have Soda-Pop, or Squirrel Piss, or whatever they call it here.” 

“Three cokes, Josuke.” Jotaro mumbled, wiping his face tiredly. 

Josuke nodded his head, walking over to the bar and waiting to be seen. As he stood there, a young woman approached him. Emphasis on the young. She seemed to be about sixteen or seventeen. He wondered for a moment how she got in without an adult. Despite that, she smiled at him. 

“Hey there. You from around here?” She asked seductively. 

Josuke was far from interested. He just looked at her dismissively, taking his wallet out and waiting for the bartender. He grabbed a few bills, ready to pay and walk away as fast as possible. “Sorry, but I’m here with friends. I’m not really in the mood.” He mumbled, hoping she’d walk away. 

The girl was tall. Very tall, actually. Josuke noted that she was about his height. She had to be at least six feet. He rarely saw men his size, let alone a woman. It was a little jarring. She had shoulder-length red hair, pale, flawless skin, and a small scar underneath her right eye. She rolled her eyes a bit, walking closer. “Oh, c’mon. You can’t buy me one drink?” She asked.

He stepped away, clearly uncomfortable. “Kid, I’m twenty-six years old. You’re putting me in a really awkward position right now.” 

She stepped back, crossing her arms in a pout. “Fine, fine… Have a nice day.” She muttered, walking away and sitting on a nearby stool. 

Josuke sighed with relief, getting his drinks and sitting down at the booth once more. “Sheesh, that American girl just hit on me. Does that happen all the time?” He asked Jotaro, sliding his coke across the table. 

Jotaro shrugged. “Women usually watch me from afar. Maura says I’m intimidating, dismissive, and cold.” 

Josuke laughed a bit. “All true. How’re things with her anyway?” He was clearly oblivious about the divorce.

Jotaro just looked down at the table for a moment. “Not good, but it’s fine.” 

Josuke frowned. “Not good? How come? You two are like, perfect for each other. Did you forget your anniversary again?” 

Jotaro shook his head. “Now’s not the time, Josuke. Maybe later.” He mumbled, sipping his drink.

Shizuka was staring absentmindedly at her older brother. She noticed something strange. After tilting her head curiously, she mumbled. “Hey Josuke? Your nice heart necklace… Where’d it go?”.

Josuke dressed very well, even in casual settings. He regularly wore button-downs with dress pants, a tie, and a long dark coat. Today was no exception. On top of that, he wore a gold locket shaped like a heart at all times. It had a “J” carved into it, and was given to him by his mother for high school graduation. He looked down in shock. “Wha- Wait… Where’d it go?” 

He patted himself down, eyes widening in realization. “My wallet’s gone too! And my badge... “ 

Everyone was a little tense now. “Did you leave it on my plane?” Marina asked. 

“No, I just paid for these drinks like two seconds ago. How could I have misplaced them so fast?” He wondered aloud slowly thinking it through. His eyes narrowed darkly and he glared across the room. “Hold on…” He told the group, standing up.

Josuke walked over to the woman from before. “Excuse me, miss. Could I ask you a few questions?” 

The girl’s eyes shot wide with fear, and she let out a shrill cry. “ HELP! This creep just grabbed my boobs! HELP!” She screamed, stumbling out of her stool and tearing up. 

Josuke threw his hands up in disbelief, his face turning red in shame and fear. “W-WOAH! No I didn’t! Oh my god! I just wanted to ask you a question!” 

The girl was sobbing now, backing toward a concerned patron. The man put himself between her and Josuke. “Hey, punk, are you groping girls in a family bar? What are you, some kind of sick freak?” 

Josuke was completely taken aback. “I didn’t touch her! She stole my wallet!”

“Where would I put your wallet?” She asked between tears. The girl was wearing short-shorts, a crop top, and heels. All she had was a tiny purse. 

Josuke looked carefully and realized she was right. His wallet was big. So was his badge… She didn’t have them on her person. His face flushed red as he began to feel like a real piece of work. Multiple men approached as they tried to assess the situation.Jotaro walked up, resting a hand on Josuke’s shoulder.

“What’s going on, Josuke? Is something wrong?” He asked calmly, pulling the man further away from the girl. 

Josuke frowned. “I… Well…” 

A man stepped forward. “Are you two related?” He asked, crossing his arms. 

Jotaro nodded his head. The man poked Jotaro’s chest roughly. “Mind if I see some ID? We might be reporting this to the police.” 

Against his better judgement, Jotaro reached into his coat pocket in an attempt to grab his wallet. Then…. Nothing. He froze for a moment, a shiver running up his spine. How was he robbed? He would have felt something! Star Platinum would have stopped it. He now had no way to prove his identity. 

“I’m Dr. Jotaro Kujo… I’m a U.S. citizen by marriage, and am in D.C. on business.” He replied calmly, trying to repair the crumbling situation. 

“Well, Doctor, I think we should all sit down and have a talk. Maybe wait for the police to come settle it?” The owner of the bar walked out of the crowd, patting a stool. 

Shizuka’s eyes moved to the crying girl. Something was definitely off. Josuke hadn’t even touched her. She couldn’t help but think in the back of her mind; was this an enemy Stand user? How else would the girl have managed to rob Josuke and Jotaro? She scanned the room for anything suspicious, and came up with nothing. She noticed Marina getting up, however, and walk over to the growing crowd. 

“Excuse me, but why’re we all gathering around my good friends here?” She asked with a sour tone.

The owner of the bar raised a brow. “These pervs are your friends?” 

She snapped her fingers. “Oi! Why’re you calling them pervs? Because this girl says so? Well, I’m a girl, and I’m saying they’re not. So then, let’s settle on equilibrium and be on our ways, hmm?” 

There was some hushed conversation amongst the makeshift mob. Finally, the bartender relented. “Just… get out of my restaurant. Deal? This doesn’t need to be some big thing.” 

Marina snapped her fingers once more, pointing at the man. “Wonderful! Glad we’re all in agreement. Just… One quick thing.” 

Bubblegum Bitch manifested, swinging her bat right at the girl. Of course, she stopped just short of her lying face. However, this was enough to startle the swindler. The young girl was paralyzed in fear. She could certainly see Bubblegum Bitch, proving that she’s a Stand user. 

The girl was in utter distress. Her Stand came out, towering over her. In fact, the Stand was enormous. It was as unnaturally tall as the user, standing easily over twelve feet. It was tan, the color of the girl’s flesh. Pink spikes protruded from its shoulders, and it had large muscular arms. It wore a blue sleeveless jacket, and a black mask that covered its eyes with yellow diamonds by each hole. Its jawline was strong, and it had flowing pink hair. The left side of its head was shaved, and the right went down nearly to its shoulders. Finally, it had pink boxing gloves on with blue stars on the back of each hand. Oddly, it seemed to resemble a man more than the feminine User. 

Pa-Pa-Power and Shirlie (Art/Design by Casualswords)

The moment the enemy Stand appeared, something resonated within the others. Jotaro, Josuke, and Shizuka were shocked to feel their Stands come out without their instructions. The girl noticed all of their Stands, gasping again. 

“You all have them too?” She asked incredulously, like she’d never even imagined such a thing was possible. She clearly felt cornered; eyes darting around the room as she searched for an escape. “Pepsi, we’ve got to go, now!” 

Jotaro’s eyes lit up. Pepsi? Was that the name of the girl’s Stand? No, that didn’t seem right. She almost seemed to be looking for someone. Were there two Stand users? He looked around for whoever the girl was talking to. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she was gone. He let out a sound of shock, turning around and searching for them. “Did anybody see where they went?”

“N-No.” Josuke was also rapidly searching, unable to find anything. “It’s like she just stopped existing. Is this her ability?” 

Marina groaned as Bubblegum Bitch slung its bat over its shoulder. “Shizuka, let’s go.” She shouted. 

However, the Shizuka that was sitting in the booth flickered and disappeared. She wasn’t there anymore. How long had a fake been posing in her place? Marina, Jotaro, and Josuke didn’t have time to think about it. They just sprinted out of the restaurant in pursuit of the thief. 

 

Shirlie Brooks stumbled outside in a frenzy. She stumbled into the nearest alley before pulling away from her twin. When she did so, the mysterious teen vanished from sight for a moment. Pepsi quickly made themself visible to Shirlie once more. Despite this, it was still impossible to read their expression. For as long as Shirlie could remember, Pepsi had a blank, expressionless face and virtually no body language to note. Still, she was able to tell that her sibling was frazzled by the experience. 

“Pepsi.. They’re like us. They have shades.” Shirlie panted, leaning against a wall. “Maybe we should have talked it through? Maybe they’re not bad people?” 

Pepsi just looked down the alley, their eyes fixated on something. After a moment, their eyes narrowed a bit, adjusting to whatever abnormality existed in the air. There was a slight distortion that their enhanced perception could notice. “I see you.” They said, manifesting their Stand and pointing down the alley. 

After a moment, Shizuka appeared. She raised her hands calmly. “Listen, none of us want any trouble. Just give me back my brother’s things, and you can go. Okay?” 

Shirlie stepped forward, bringing out her stand. “Pa-Pa-Power, what do you think?” She asked the massive spirit hovering beside her. 

The moment Pa-Pa-Power appeared, Ultra Violet was forcibly ejected from Shizuka. It felt strange and unsettling for her Stand to appear without direction. It had to be a part of Shirlie’s ability. Shizuka just gritted her teeth, preparing herself for a fight. The large Stand thought for a moment, turning to its user with a frown. It seemed to give her… puppy-dog eyes? Like it didn’t want to fight Shizuka. Shirlie crossed her arms in disapproval. 

“Really, Power? You trust her? Why?

Shizuka looked in fascination at the two. Shirlie was interacting with her Stand like it was a separate entity capable of independent thought. She’d never seen anything like it. The Stand looked down for a moment before shrugging and clasping its hands together.

 Shirlie sighed. ”Pa-Pa-Power, she wants to take the money back. We need the money. We’ve gotta fight her... So like, it’d really be doing me a big favor if you got amped up about it. You’re seriously bumming me out.” 

Power relented, looking over at Shizuka with an expression of sympathy. Then, it gave a thumbs down, flexing its muscles. Shirlie laughed, striking a pose. “That’s what I’m talking about! You’re going down, kid!”

Shizuka had bigger problems. She looked behind Shirlie for a moment, only to realize she’d lost track of the other one. “Where’s Pepsi?” She questioned, taking a step back. 

Shirlie didn’t have an answer. “Beats me. It’s impossible to notice them unless they want you to. They’re also not much for conversation, unlike me. I usually do enough talking for both of us though. That’s why you and your friends are in trouble. Because if I pick the right words, I can drag things on… and on…. And on….” 

Shizuka’s eyes widened. It hit her. Shirlie was stalling. The other one had to be close. She couldn’t see them though. Where could they be? Then, in a sudden jarring moment, Pepsi appeared before Shizuka. Of course, it was too late, because they were in the middle of punching her in the face with brass knuckles. Shizuka’s eyes widened. 

What!?” She shouted, stumbling backwards and landing on her ass. Then, just as quickly as Pepsi appeared, they were gone. Shizuka held her face in pain. Something important definitely cracked; she’d have Josuke fix it later. “Listen! I know you’re scared, but you just need to take a step back and talk!” Shizuka reasoned. 

Shirlie scoffed. “ Scared? Me? I think you’re the one who’s scared. Anxious of a building danger… You can feel it coming. It’s bigger than anything you’ve had to face in your life, isn’t it?” 

Shizuka was confused once again. “H-How do you…?” She mumbled under her breath. Her face was throbbing with pain. She was getting dizzy, and could barely stumble to her feet. 

This just brought a laugh from Shirlie. “Well then, looks like this is already over, huh?” 

At that moment, Pa-Pa-Power emerged from the tall girl and crossed its arms. The Stand was clearly upset. Shirlie raised a brow. “What, you big baby? It’s not like she’s telling the truth. She wants to get back at us for stealing their stuff.” 

The Stand’s face scrunched up, and it pointed at Shizuka once more. Shirlie shrugged, groaning. “We don’t need more friends. You want more friends. This isn’t a discussion. We’re defeating her, and we’re moving on.” 

Tears began to pour from the Stand’s eyes, and it lets out silent wails of disappointment and anger. Shizuka was seriously confused by their interactions. How could a user argue with her own Stand? How could she be feeling something different than her Stand? It was too confusing. She appreciated that some part of Shirlie didn’t want to fight. Still, her head was reeling from that punch; and she couldn’t locate the other one… It was getting easier and easier to feel panicked. 

Shizuka took a deep breath. She had to calm down. She needed to think. The real danger came from Pepsi. She couldn’t see them until there was physical contact. That’s a horrible disadvantage, but it wasn’t unbeatable. Shizuka was confident with Ultra Violet’s speed, she just needed to wait for another attack. She just needed to focus… 

Shirlie was busy arguing with Power. She stomped her foot. “Knock it off, you big baby! Just because you’re upset doesn’t mean I am! I’m fine! We have a plan, and we need to stick to it!” 

Power punched the wall with his boxing glove, shattering a few bricks and causing a loud sound. Shirlie’s eyes widened for a moment. “Power! The others! They’ll hear that! Stop it!” 

Power didn’t care. He started punching the wall more and more. Shizuka watched in fascination, still waiting for Pepsi. And sure enough, she felt another strike. The enemy appeared the moment their fist connected with Shizuka’s stomach. Ultra Violet snapped into action, managing to punch Pepsi a few times, sending them flying back. They landed against Shirlie, disrupting their Stand ability. Finally, Shizuka could see their Stand. It was tall, like Power, and the Stand was long and cloaked, shrouded in mystery and darkness. It towered over the teen, glaring at Shizuka. When they made eye contact the Stand leaned forward and hissed. Shizuka stumbled back in shock. Why did these Stands have such personality?

Mist and Pepsi (Art/Design by Casualswords)

Shirlie got back up, brushing herself off. “Watch where you’re going, Pepsi. Sheesh! I didn’t expect her to hit you. Did you even see it happen?” 

Pepsi wiped their face in irritation. “Get a grip on Pa-Pa-Power. Use him to finish this.” Is all they said. 

“You heard them, Power! Do you wanna see Pepsi get hurt again? If not, let’s get this done!” 

Shizuka was ready for whatever would come next. However, everything was disrupted with a bang. The brick wall behind the siblings burst forward, sending debris everywhere. A loud battle cry could be heard, and dust filled the alleyway. Shizuka’s eyes finally adjusted, revealing Jotaro standing on the other end of the alley. He glared down at the siblings. 

“Yare Yare…. I found you. Shizuka! What’s the situation?” Jotaro shouted. 

Shizuka quickly replied. “The blurry one can vanish! Like me! But they don’t make a sound, or anything! It’s like they cease to exist! You’ve got to be touching them to see them! They’re the threat!” 

At that moment, Pepsi disappeared. Shirlie groaned, looking down at the ground in anger. “ They’re the threat?” She asked with a growl. “Really…? Y’see Power? They plan on defeating us. Are you getting this?” She stood up, bleeding from several cuts. The shattered bricks sliced both siblings up quite a bit. She was stumbling left and right as her Stand appeared. “They think we’re weak! Are we gonna let them think that!?” 

Jotaro narrowed his eyes. “Star Platinum!” He shouted. But he didn’t finish. He didn’t activate his ability. He felt a sudden and horrible strike of anxiety. 

Shirlie turned to face him, staring into his eyes. “You’ve got a lot of emotions in there, tough guy...”

Jotaro couldn’t explain it, but he was suddenly a total wreck. Sweat beaded down his face as he felt utterly horrified. It was like… Well, it was like that night in Egypt. It was the same feeling he experienced when facing DIO. He could recognize it instantly. Never again in his life had he ever felt such tangible, potent fear…. Shirlie tilted her head, smirking. 

“Emotions are hard, huh? And you don’t seem to deal with them. You bottle them up. How about we dig in then? C’mon.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “Let it all out for me!” 

It all came crashing down. Jotaro was bombarded by every negative emotion he’d ever felt in his life. His fear of DIO, his anxiety over Maura… His utter hopelessness as a father… He couldn’t help it… He fell to his knees, gasping with dry heaves. No oxygen was coming in, though. He was full-on panicking. Tears welled in his eyes, and a sob escaped his lips. Shizuka was in disbelief. Jotaro Kujo, crying? It seemed to go against nature itself.

At that moment, Pepsi struck him in the chest. He fell back, covering his face to protect himself. Star Platinum lashed out with hundreds of punches, but he couldn’t see them anymore. Then, from behind, another impact. And another. And another. He was overwhelmed by his emotions. All the while, Shirlie had fallen to her knees as well. She wiped away her tears, looking at them. After a moment, she let out a sob.

“Oh my gosh…. Hah.. This is pretty intense.” She admitted, clearing her throat. “You really know your pain, my man… I can barely cope with this.” 

Jotaro felt another strike against his face, causing white noise to whine in his ears. He couldn’t focus. He couldn’t think. He could only dwell on the many failures of his life. He could only suffer what he deserved. It had finally come to a boiling point. He must have broken… He couldn’t protect Shizuka. He couldn’t protect Jolyne. He certainly couldn’t protect Maura. He would do everyone a favor if he died right there. 

Shizuka was piecing it together. Shirlie was the source of whatever was wrong with Jotaro. But she seemed to be suffering the same misery. That’s why Pepsi was attacking him. Shizuka ran over to Shirlie, getting ready to attack her. In a fit of rage, Pa-Pa-Power appeared. He swung at Shizuka with fury. Ultra Violet could only barely dodge the attack in time. Shit! So the Stand was protecting Shirlie. Shizuka had to get to Jotaro. She had to stop this now. She just needed a plan.

Chapter Text

Think… Shizuka had to think. It was the only way out of this situation. The twins working together felt nearly invincible. However, Shizuka knew nothing was unbeatable. She grew up listening to stories of how her father defeated the ultimate being. It taught her an important lesson that sounded a little cheesy, but was infinitely true: There’s nothing you can’t beat with luck and a smile. Those were the words her father would always end his story with.. She just needed to push her luck a bit and think things through. A diagram began to form in her head. Pepsi was attacking Jotaro relentlessly because Jotaro couldn’t defend himself due to Shirlie’s empathy attack. Shizuka also couldn’t attack Shirlie due to the incredibly powerful short range Stand Pa-Pa-Power defending her. There was a way to solve this. She just needed to stay calm. Then, her eyes widened.

“I figured it out.” She said firmly. 

This drew the attention of Shirlie. The sobbing girl managed to look at Shizuka with confusion. “Figured what out?”

“You two are really, really strong. The synergy of your Stands is crazy. I can’t beat you.” Shizuka shrugged. 

Shirlie wiped her eyes. “Yeah? Then what’s your plan?” 

Shizuka couldn’t help but smile. Yes, she planned on following in her father’s footsteps with this one. “Get well, Jotaro! Bye-bye!” She shouted, turning and sprinting out of the alleyway. 

Shirlie watched in absolute shock. Had the little twerp really abandoned her comrade in the middle of a battle? She refused to believe it. Pa-Pa-Power remained cautious as Shirlie focused on keeping Jotaro restrained. Meanwhile, Pepsi was still beating him every few seconds. Something didn’t feel right. The air fell silent for a moment as Shirlie contemplated the situation. 

Ultra Violet!” Shizuka shouted, her Stand appearing out of nowhere. 

Shirlie let out a gasp as the enemy attacked. There wasn’t time to prevent it. She had no idea Shizuka could create illusions! The brat must have sent a fake running away and become invisible herself, that way the twins would think she was gone. Pa-Pa-Power raised his hands in defense, but Ultra Violet easily stepped to the side. A flurry of punches connected with Shirlie. Ultra Violet was just too fast to challenge. 

The tall woman was pushed back by the sheer force of Shizuka’s attacks. She held her stomach in pain. It took a few moments of heaving before she even attempted speaking. “Y-You… God dammit. I’m really gonna have to do it.” She whined, tears streaming down her cheeks. “You really think I can only make one person feel things? You’re wrong!” 

Shizuka didn’t leave any time for a counter-attack. Ultra Violet sent another frenzy of attacks toward Shirlie. They didn’t connect, though. Suddenly, she felt the same anguish that was plaguing Jotaro. Her breath hitched and she felt her heart ache. This was what Jotaro was dealing with? Shizuka fell to her knees as Ultra Violet faded in power. 

Shirlie gritted her teeth in determination. Forcing two people to feel emotions doubled the effect on herself. She was currently experiencing the anguish of both Shizuka and Jotaro. She was very used to coping with grief though. She could handle it. She would last. Meanwhile, Pa-Pa-Power was well within range of Shizuka. With a bit of reluctance he punched her away. She flew into the nearby wall; crumbing down into a silent mess of emotions. The small girl was bleeding from several places. 

Shirlie found it within herself to laugh. “See Power? We’re winning… We’re beating th-them…” She let out a small sob. “Aren’t you happy?”

Pa-Pa-Power silently wept as he shook his head. 

“F-Fuck off you big softy... We’re okay. This is all okay.” She reached into her pocket and grabbed a knife. “If we stab the girl we can make a run for it. Let’s just finish this.” 

Shirlie stood up and took baby steps over to Shizuka’s limp body. She raised the knife up in anticipation. Then, out of nowhere, she felt a firm hand grab her wrist. Something in the air shifted. She felt different emotions coming from her victims. It all clicked. Jotaro had stopped her from stabbing Shizuka. She felt a surge of determination coming from the man. He was enraged. 

“What a wicked, horrible woman.” He growled from behind her. 

Shirlie’s stomach sank. Somehow, Jotaro had turned all of the anguish she made him experience into pure rage. She could feel the fury he held for her. He leaned closer; his breath hitting the back of her neck as he squeezed her wrist in his hand.

“So you can make people feel whatever emotions you want? Hmm?” He squeezed her wrist so hard she feared it might break. “I’ll admit, you made me do some serious thinking. Maybe it would have worked, but then you went and tried to drive a knife into a kid. And not just any kid.” He snapped her wrist in his hand; causing her to scream. “ My kid.” 

Perhaps Shirlie had gotten carried away in the moment. She always had a bit of a problem with allowing situations to escalate. When he worded it like that, she felt like shit for trying to stab a ten-year-old. Still, she didn’t have time to fret about that. The hair on the back of her neck stood tall as Jotaro stepped closer.

“You know, there are other ways to make people feel emotions. I find it pretty easy to make people afraid.” He said barely above a whisper. 

In an instant they were on top of one of the buildings overlooking the alley. Shirlie let out a shriek as her eyes adjusted to the sight. When had that happened? How did they get up there? She struggled in his grip as he continued. 

“There are things in this world you can’t understand, but let me make one thing very clear. A universal truth. Try to hurt a kid on my watch...” He paused, and they appeared back down in the alley once more. This time, however, Shirlie was facing Jotaro. “And I’ll hurt you ten times worse.”

ORA!” Star Platinum roared as it threw Shirlie across the alley like a ragdoll. She slammed into the wall and landed uselessly in the rubble.

Shirlie had never felt such potent fear before. There was something wrong with Jotaro. Not only could she feel her own emotions, but she felt his absolute rage and bloodlust for her. That only added to her terror. She decided to stay down. It was better that way. This man was so good at repressing his emotions that he turned Power’s artificial depression into a blind frenzy. And unfortunately for the twins, he wasn’t done yet.

“And you.” Jotaro pointed down the alley, unable to see his other foe. “I don’t need to see you. Come here. Right now. ” 

After a few moments Jotaro felt a brass fist collide with his chest. The moment the fist connected, time froze. Jotaro’s eyes focused on Pepsi’s paralyzed body. “There you are…” 

Jotaro adjusted his hat and took a deep breath. “Yare Yare. Here I go again.” He groaned. He had to take another second to get enraged once more. Then, he screamed in anger as Star Platinum pummeled Pepsi’s stomach. Time resumed a moment later as Pepsi was thrown over to Shirlie’s body. Jotaro’s foot stomped down on the pavement in front of them as he glared down at them. 

Pepsi had received enough punishment that MIST’s shroud faded. They were completely noticeable to the naked eye now. The large man reached down and reclaimed the stolen belongings from Pepsi’s person. He groaned, turning to face Shizuka. “You okay?” He called across the alley. 

Shizuka sniffled a bit as she wiped her eyes. “Don’t think I missed you calling me your kid.” she responded with a shit-eating grin. 

Jotaro just smiled softly. “It was an emotional moment. Literally.” 

About twenty seconds later, Josuke and Marina sprinted into the alley. 

Jotaro!” Josuke shouted as he ran up to him. “Are you okay? Did we get them?” 

Marina squatted down in front of Shizuka. She raised a brow and smirked a bit. “Hey there slugger. Do you make a habit of being tossed around in alleys?” 

Shizuka groaned. “I have a bucket list. I wanna get beaten up in ten different alleys all across the globe. Next stop, Africa.”

The older girl helped Shizuka to her feet. “I’ll fly you anywhere once we’re done here. Now.” She turned and walked over to the twins. Bubblegum Bitch appeared and stuck them both against the brick wall. “You two aren’t going anywhere until you answer a couple questions.” 

Both twins struggled to no avail. Shirlie spat in frustration. “What do you want? You got your stuff back. Just leave us the hell alone!” 

Marina would love to leave them alone. Right after she got some answers. “Did Blondie send you?” She questioned. 

Shirlie looked truly confused. “Blondie? Is that a name? Is it a code? Look, we’re not involved in any mob stuff… We just take what we need.” 

Jotaro checked his wallet. Everything was accounted for. After he put it into his pocket, he spoke. “You sure have useful Stands for petty theft. Have you ever considered a bigger heist? Like a museum? You could make millions.” 

Shirlie shook her head. “No. We don’t want to draw any unwanted attention. We just take enough to live week by week.” 

Shizuka finally spoke up. “You said that we had shades too. And you were really surprised. We call them Stands. Have you never met another Stand user in all your travels?” 

“There are more!? How many are there?” Shirlie questioned in disbelief. 

Jotaro adjusted his hat for a moment. “Where are your parents?” 

“Dead.” Pepsi said without a hint of emotion. 

Shirlie looked down with a dark expression. “Our mom died when we were six. We never had a dad.” 

Marina looked over to Jotaro with confusion. “You said that Stand Users attract Stand Users. How is it these two have never met any before us?” 

Jotaro rubbed his chin in thought. “It could be their shroud ability… They could have been in close proximity to Stands and not even known it. They’re undetectable.” 

Pa-Pa-Power emerged from Shirlie, forcing everyone else’s Stands to appear as well. This set them all on edge. However, Power didn’t seem to be angry. No, he just frowned and looked down in what appeared to be shame. Then he fell to his knees and clasped his hands together. Everyone watched in fascination. 

“Is her Stand begging for mercy?” Josuke raised a brow.

Shirlie groaned in annoyance. “ Power! Stop it! We don’t need them! We don’t need anybody! So stop asking!” 

“Asking what?” Jotaro questioned.

Shizuka understood. For some odd reason Shirlie’s deeper emotions were being projected onto her Stand. Maybe it was due to her empathy powers, or maybe because she intentionally routed unwanted feelings into him. She couldn’t be sure. Still, it seemed some abstract part of Power was capable of feeling; even if it was just Shirlie’s own subconscious mind. Pa-Pa-Power wasn’t just a second set of arms like Ultra Violet. He was a person to Shirlie. And this person only wanted one thing.

“He wants to be our friend.” Shizuka mumbled. 

“He? What are you talking about?” Jotaro looked down at her with interest.

“She thinks Pa-Pa-Power is a person. Can’t you tell?” 

This caused Shirlie to growl. “He is a person. Just like you and me. And he’s making me angry right now.” 

Power looked like he was ready to cry as he pleaded on his knees. None of the others knew what to say in response to that. Shizuka tugged on Marina’s sleeve gently. “I think you can let them go. They’re not going to fight.” 

Marina wasn’t as convinced. “And what makes you say that?”

Jotaro shrugged. “Her fighting spirit is literally groveling on the ground. I think it’s safe to say they’re done.” 

Marina relented; dropping the twins to the ground with a sigh. “I assume you two are smart enough not to try anything?” 

Pepsi had no reaction. Shirlie, on the other hand, rubbed her arms in irritation as they returned to their normal state. 

Josuke cleared his throat. “So.” He mumbled awkwardly. “Why does your Stand bring out everyone else’s?” 

Shirlie shrugged. “Power gets lonely. I didn’t realize there were others, sure, but MIST would always come out when Power’s summoned. He sees it like a family reunion.” She explained. 

“Are you going to keep robbing good people?” Shizuka asked softly. “Because if you are, we’re not gonna let you go.” 

Piercing eyes glanced up at Shizuka. The disdain in Shirlie’s expression was tangible in the alleyway. Everyone could feel it. Perhaps Power was projecting his user’s emotions onto everyone. Either way, it caused Shizuka to stand upright in shock. 

“Good people? We never rob good people. We rob drunks, cheats, wife-beaters… The scum of the Earth.” Shirlie mumbled.

Josuke gritted his teeth. “ Wha!? Me? I’m not any of those things though! Why’d you steal from me?” 

Shirlie just looked at him darkly. “Your hair’s ridiculous. And you were ordering a drink with a kid at the table. What was I supposed to think?”

A shiver ran down both Shizuka and Jotaro’s spines. They witnessed a blue aura emit from Josuke’s body as he stared down at the ground. He ground his teeth together and let out a growl. “You know kid?” He asked in a low, sinister voice. “If it wasn’t for the department-mandated anger management therapy, you’d be getting the snot beaten out of you right about now.” 

“Why’s that, Mister?” Shirlie growled with equal animosity at she sat up. “I’d understand needing therapy because of that hair. I feel like I need counselling just by looking at it.” 

Jotaro just stared in baited breath. There was a good chance he’d have to stop Josuke physically if things got more out of hand. The police officer just ran a comb through his hair and took a deep breath. Then, in a flash, Crazy Diamond put an enormous hole in the wall behind Josuke. The Stand kept going; attacking the wall with enough rage to completely destroy it. Soon, it was rendered to tiny pieces. They could see into whatever storage room was on the other side. The entire time this happened Josuke just kept combing his hair with his eyes closed. After about thirty seconds he exhaled heavily. Then, in a blue shine, the wall repaired itself. He cleared his throat and pocketed his comb.

“People who make fun of my awesome hair piss me off. I can’t help it. But I’m not about to pummel some orphan’s teeth out just because she’s got a bad attitude. You can put Star Platinum away, Jotaro. I’m fine.” He mumbled. 

Jotaro, who had been ready to knock Josuke out if need be, pulled his Stand back and sighed. Tensions still seemed very high. There had to be a way to ease them. Shizuka got an idea. She stepped forward from the group and looked at Pa-Pa-Power. Even though he was on his knees he was still an inch or two taller than Shizuka. She just smiled and extended a hand. 

“I’ll be your friend, Pa-Pa-Power. And Shirlie’s too, if you put in a good word for me.” She smiled. 

Everyone watched in fascination as Power contemplated her offer. Then, in a silent roar of pure joy the Stand lifted Shizuka into his arms and swung her around. Jotaro and Josuke flinched, ready for attack, but it quickly became clear that Power was hugging the small girl. She began to laugh joyfully; hugging him in return as he swung her to and fro. Eventually he put her down. He gave her shoulders a few loud pats before pulling away. Shirlie rolled her eyes, but Shizuka could notice a small smile forming on her face. 

“He likes you.” Shirlie mumbled. 

“I like him. There’s no need for any of us to fight. We’re all on the same side.” Shizuka said. 

Pepsi stood up. It was shocking since they’re so easy to miss. Shizuka had honestly forgotten they were there. Their face was still obscured by MIST’s ability, but they were looking right at Shizuka. 

“You want us to stop stealing. What’s the alternative? We can’t own our own home yet, and we refuse to go into the foster system.” They spat.

Shizuka looked to Jotaro for guidance. She didn’t have an answer to such a loaded question. He thought for a moment before speaking. 

“The Speedwagon Foundation has a program for gifted minors. They’d provide food, shelter, and education in exchange for your services when you’re older.” He mumbled. 

Shirlie raised a brow. “The what? Is that some sort of cult?”

Jotaro shook his head. “It’s a foundation that specializes in the supernatural. They have operatives all over the world. They’re used to taking in troubled kids with nowhere else to go.” 

The twins looked at each other for a moment in consideration. Then, they disappeared. After they discussed their options with one another in private’ they popped back into view. Shirlie rubbed her right arm, looking down at the ground nervously. 

“We could check it out. There’s no promise that we’ll stay though.”

“Great! We’re on our way there now!” Shizuka beamed. “It’s like fate, huh?” 

Jotaro fixed his hat and looked down at his phone. He had an email from the foundation. They would be ready for his arrival in a little over an hour. He put his phone away and sighed. “Yare Yare… We should get going now. I guess we’ll have to pick up food on the way?” 

Shizuka nodded eagerly. “McDonalds!” 

Jotaro groaned. “Maybe somewhere with actual food? We’ll call into a local diner and order to go. My treat.” 

Everyone agreed on that. Josuke healed the four who were injured during the fight and they were all on their way. Shizuka couldn’t help but feel entirely optimistic about all of this. How could things go any better than they already were? It seemed like their hardships were behind them. Yes, it seemed that way…

 

They arrived at the Speedwagon Foundation slightly early. Jotaro lead them through the entrance and into the first security checkpoint. They went through a metal detector with no issue. Then, at the second checkpoint, they ran into some problems. The three tagalongs of the Joestar party were stopped at the gate. A tall man took them aside and gave them a cautious glare. He was a very skinny man. In fact, he resembled a twig more than anything. His brown hair stood upright; and his body had very few bumps and curves that normally make up the human form. He was pillar-like. He adjusted his glasses and spoke up. 

“I’m sorry, but the three of you aren’t registered in our database. We’re going to have to ask to frisk your persons and see your Stands. If you decline, you’ll be banished from the premises and put on our permanent blacklist.”

Marina looked over to Jotaro with concern. He just shrugged in response. “Al, they’re with us. Isn’t that enough?”

Alfonz shook his head, raising a dismissive hand to Jotaro. “I’m sorry, Dr. Kujo, but you’re the only family exempt from our strict rules. Everyone else has to abide by them for the safety of the entire organization. If these two won’t agree to the terms, they’ll be removed from the building.” 

Jotaro raised a brow. Two? That’s when he noticed Pepsi was missing. He rolled his eyes. “Pepsi, you’re just causing problems. Stop hiding.” 

After three awkwardly silent seconds Pepsi appeared. Their face was still obscured by MIST. Alfonz groaned in annoyance. “Alright then, let me see your Stands.” 

Pa-Pa-Power came roaring out; flexing his arms and punching high in the sky with triumph. This, of course, caused Bubblegum Bitch and MIST to appear as well. Alfonz was shocked to see his own Stand appear. It was a small laptop that hovered at about chest level in front of him at all times. Several projected screens appeared above the spiritual computer as well. With a nervous cough he quickly put it away. Then, after a moment of analyzation, he nodded. “Good. Thank you. It’s important for us to have every Stand on record. Now, the three of you will be frisked by Agent Ripley.” 

A short woman with a shaved head and dark brown skin walked out from behind the security station. She was very compact and toned; sporting several nasty scars on what little skin she exposed. Her eyes were a shocking bright orange. The bridge of her sharp nose was scattered with small faded freckles. She wore the same uniform that Alfonz donned every day. It was a light blue shirt with black dress pants, a tie, and a hat that screamed “security” in big text. She looked at Pepsi with curiosity. “Al, should I frisk that one too? Or should you?”

Alfonz coughed nervously, rubbing his neck. “Uhmm… I didn’t wanna be the one to ask. Pepsi, was it? What’s your gender?” 

Pepsi just stared with empty eyes. “Is it important?” 

Alfonz didn’t really know what to say. “Well… Who would you be more comfortable frisking you?” 

“I’m equally uncomfortable with both of you. Just do it quickly.” They mumbled. 

Ripley shrugged. “Sounds good to me, kid. C’mere.” 

After about two minutes they were just about finished with the lot. That is, until Ripley felt something strange in Marina’s pocket. She reached in only to feel her hand being slapped by the girl. 

“Oi! Back off!” Marina pulled away violently. 

Ripley narrowed her eyes. “Ma’am, I’m going to have to see what’s in your pocket. Otherwise you won’t be allowed in.” 

Marina looked to Jotaro once again for some kind of support. When it became painfully obvious that she was on her own, she relented. Her slender fingers reached into her pockets and pulled the black feather out. It captivated everyone immediately. How could such a beautiful jet black feather stay perfect in a sweaty pocket? It was enticing… Almost addictively so. 

“What is this? It’s letting off a strange energy.” Ripley mumbled. 

Marina held it close to her chest. “It’s my final gift from my father. You’re not having it. I’ll march out of here before I let that happen.” 

Ripley cleared her throat. “Ma’am, unauthorized supernatural objects have to be studied by our scientists before they can leave the property lines. This will be much easier on all of us if you just hand it over.”

“Like hell I’m handing it over. And what kind of trite bullshit is that? It’s mine. You can’t just inspect it because you’re the space-police.” Marina spat. 

The room fell silent for a moment. Ripley didn’t stand down. In fact, she just seemed to emit violent energy as she stared Marina down. “Ma’am.” She said with a hiss. “Hand over the feather. I’d hate to upset the Joestars, but I’ll be taking it from you in ten seconds.” 

Bubblegum Bitch appeared, aiming its bat at Ripley. Marina glowed with pink Stand energy as she glared right back. “I’d hate to bash in one of Jotaro’s playmates, but it seems like neither of us are about to get what we want, ey?” 

The lights began to flicker as Ripley growled. Everyone felt heavier, like their bodies were being pulled to the ground. Marina was moments away from swinging when a tired old voice called out, 

“Stop! Both of you, right now.” An old woman barked from down the long hall. 

Alfonz gasped. His eyes darted across the hall. “Madam Dolly! What are you doing here?”

An old, old woman was currently limping her way toward the second security checkpoint. She used a cane and was clearly relying on it for most of her movement. She had to be in her nineties. White and gray hair fell down past her shoulders, and she was dressed remarkably fashionable. Her purple peacoat nearly made it to her ankles. Underneath the unbuttoned coat was a lovely lavender dress. And, to top it all off, she wore a large hat with a pink feather sticking out. She groaned to herself, mumbling under her breath about the younger generation. 

“Quiet, Alfonz! I’m here to see Jotaro and the others! It’s not often that the Joestars pay our organization a visit.” She groaned. 

Shizuka stared at Dolly with admiration. Such an old woman demanded so much respect from these powerful Stand Users. She was enamoured by it. It took her a moment to realize that Dolly was staring right back at her. Shizuka’s cheeks turned pink in embarrassment as the woman approached. 

“Oh, hello deary. You must be Shizuka Joestar! Oh, you’ve grown so much! I’ve only met you once. It was the day your father arrived with you in America. He brought you here for observation for several days. Just to make sure your Stand Ability was stable. How is Achtung Baby? Growing like you I hope?” 

Shizuka looked down nervously; letting out a short laugh. “Thank you, Ma’am. Achtung Baby is,” She paused, unsure of how much she wanted to share. “growing. Yes, she’s getting stronger.” 

“That’s wonderful! If you ever need any guidance dealing with such a strange Stand, please let the foundation know. I’ll make sure you’re seen to immediately.” She smiled. 

Shizuka couldn’t help but wonder why this woman had such power. “Uhm..” She mumbled. “Are you Mrs. Speedwagon?” She asked softly.

This caused Dolly to erupt in laughter. “ Mrs. Speedwagon? Oh, goodness no! I don’t think there was ever -or could ever be- a Mrs. Speedwagon. And besides, he was decades older than me.” 

Shizuka felt a tinge of embarrassment. “Oh, I’m sorry Ma’am. He’s gone, right?” 

Dolly just smiled. “Yes, dear, Robert E. O. Speedwagon passed away a long time ago. Heavens, Jotaro wasn’t even alive yet. It must have been in the fifties, if I remember correctly.” 

“So who are you?” Marina asked bluntly. She was getting a little tired of watching the joyful reunion. 

Dolly made an interested sound as she turned her attention over to Marina. “Oh? And who might you be, dear?” 

Marina wasn’t impressed. “I asked you first, lady.” 

Alfonz was taken aback by the girl’s rudeness. “Hold your tongue! This is Madam Dolly! The-” 

“Now, now, Alfonz. Let’s not go yelling at our guest. It’s a fair question, after all. I’m Dolly Harris. The head of the Speedwagon Foundation. Robert left me with the organization at a time when women could barely support themselves. I’m forever in his debt. That’s why we honor his final wish and provide the Joestar family with anything they need, any time, any place. Any friend of a Joestar is a friend of Speedwagon. So, by extension, you’re a friend of mine. It’s a pleasure.” She extended her hand to Marina. 

The young woman was still skeptical, but shook Dolly’s hand anway. “I’m keeping my feather, Madam.” 

Dolly clapped her hands. “Of course you are! No questions asked. Please, all six of you, come with me at once. We can take the executive hall straight to your destination. The catacombs of the foundation! Alfonz, Ripley, I pray you’ll learn to show the Joestars more respect in the future.”

The two employees looked down in a mix of shame and frustration. “Yes, Madam.” They said in unison. 

Shizuka couldn’t really place why, but she felt as if she’d met this woman before. Or, at the very least, she felt like she’d seen her somewhere. Maybe Joseph had a picture of her on one of their many decorated walls. It was certainly a possibility. Either way, it seemed like they were done with all of the arguing. She’d happily take whatever executive shortcut the woman was offering. Everyone followed Dolly through a hidden door and away they went.






Chapter Text

Marina Archer felt very uneasy about the entire situation. The deeper they went into the depths of the Speedwagon Foundation, the more she realized how little she knew about anything they were doing. It was unsettling to say the least. She waltzed right into a top-secret building that might not have a mind to let her leave if their meeting didn’t go well. On top of everything else, these bastards knew about her mother’s feather. Well, not her mother’s feather . It was a feather her mother owned. Cynthia Armstrong Archer died when Marina was eight years old. The truth is Marina couldn’t remember much of anything in regards to her. She couldn’t recall her voice, her face, or her scent… It was just too far back in her life. But the feather in her pocket was a direct connection to her mother. 

Madam Dolly lead them through various twists and turns. It eventually came to the point where Shizuka marveled at the woman’s ability to memorize such an elaborate labyrinth. It makes sense when you consider how many decades Dolly had been walking these halls though. After a decent exercise they arrived in some sort of rec room. There were couches, tables with cards, bookshelves, and even a Dance Dance Revolution mat in front of a large television. On the far side of the room rested a small bar filled with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Most remarkably, however, was the man sitting on one of the couches. Shizuka could spot the garish red coat anywhere. Her jaw dropped as she stepped forward.

“Dad?” She asked in disbelief. 

Joseph Joestar was sitting before them. Jotaro couldn’t believe it either. “Jiji.” He approached the couch curiously. “What are you doing in Washington?” 

“Don’t Jiji me you little punk!” The old man smirked. His voice was just as scratchy as always. It resembled tires rolling over gravel. “I’m supposed to be the one taking my little girl across the world on an adventure.” 

Shizuka didn’t wait another moment. She ran forward and wrapped her arms around Joseph in a big hug. “Dad!” She shouted, tears welling in her eyes. “Oh my gosh, I didn’t think… I didn’t expect you to be here!” She buried her face in his big red coat. She was soothed by his familiar scent. He’d never leave the house without his favorite cologne brand “Silver Fox.” Joseph was practically the backbone of Silver Fox’s sales. When they were facing financial troubles he bailed them out himself. He said that he’d been smelling the same way for fifty years and they weren’t about to change that with shoddy business practices.

“Oh Shizuka.” He cooed, running a hand through her hair fondly. “You have no idea how much I worried about you. I couldn’t sleep for days. You nearly dug your mother an early grave!” He said with a hint of amusement. 

“I’m sorry Dad. I had to go. You knew it, I knew it… We all knew it.” She mumbled into his coat. 

“I’m just sorry I couldn’t go with you. I started practicing Hamon seriously again when we adopted you so these old bones could stay strong a little while longer; but I still barely have the stamina of a man in his seventies. I’m just glad Jotaro was free.” 

Jotaro smirked. “Nothing could keep me busy enough to ignore your kid being in danger. Call any time, Jiji.” 

Joseph pouted a bit. “Oh, I know you’re not very busy! You still call Suzy Q every month and ask how she’s doing! You do that like it’s a damn religion! And Holly told me that you call her every week! What does an old man have to do to get some attention from his dear grandson?” 

“It’s because you keep me on the phone for hours, you old coot. I could have gone my entire life without knowing who won season five of The Bachelor.” 

“Jessica Bowlin is a pistol and you know it! And stop ignoring the funny videos I email you. Shizuka showed me how to use Youtube for a reason.” Joseph threatened. 

Jotaro hid his eyes with his hat. “Yare Yare. Can you just tell me what you’re doing here?” 

The old man let out a sound of embarrassment. “Ooh! Right! I never mentioned that, did I?” He thought to himself for a moment. “Dolly called me this morning. She said that you guys were going to be here and invited me down. I hear you’re interrogating a member of some terror organization? Hermit Purple would probably help!” 

Josuke finally stepped forward with his hands in his coat pockets. “Good to see you, old man.” He bowed quickly. “I planned on leading the interrogation. I need to put his tongue back in his mouth with Crazy Diamond. And besides that, I’m the only one here with any actual training.” 

Before Joseph could protest, Dolly spoke up. “Let the children have a go at it Joseph. I’d like to talk with you for a bit anyway. It’s been too long since we’ve had a glass of wine.” 

Joseph considered it for a moment. “Oh alright. But I’ll be catching up with you later.” 

Dolly wrapped her arm around Joseph’s and lead him out of the room. For a moment Shizuka wondered how they were supposed to find Wagner without her. However, Agent Ripley entered the room through a sliding wall a few seconds later. 

“Joestars, please come with me.” She spoke with more respect than before. It seems as if Dolly struck the fear of god into the agent for the time being. 

Marina rolled her eyes. “I’m already getting sick of being lead around like a little tot on a fieldtrip. Are we almost there?” 

Agent Ripley was used to dealing with difficult people. She just flashed a fake smile and nodded. “Yes, Ma’am. We’re almost there. Follow me.” 

 

The crew arrived at a large room with one-way glass in the middle. Wagner was strapped to a chair on the opposite side. Agent Ripley approached Josuke with a small white box. “Here’s his tongue, Sir.” 

Josuke rolled the box in his fingers curiously for a moment as he inspected it. “Why didn’t you attach this days ago?” 

“We did.” Ripley said dryly. “He kept biting it off. Eventually we just put it on ice.” 

“Jesus.” Marina sighed. “He’s determined. You’ve gotta give him that.” 

“The only thing I’m giving him is a broken nose. Jotaro, stay close.” Josuke approached the door. Then, after a moment, he entered. 

Shizuka looked over to Agent Ripley curiously. “Why isn’t he fighting back with his Stand?” 

Ripley had her arms crossed as she watched through the glass intently. “The perfect mix of about ten different drugs is keeping him right on the verge of consciousness. We never let him sleep. He’s too exhausted to do anything meaningful with his power. And if he tried we’d stop him.” 

“That doesn’t sound like a long term solution.” Marina mumbled. 

“Oh it’s not. Not at all. He’ll die from this after another week or so. It’s purely for interrogation. The only Stand user you can keep in a cage is a dead one.” 

Shizuka rubbed her thumbs together nervously as Josuke approached the groaning man. Wagner looked at him with wicked eyes. Those eyes had thick black bags underneath them. That wasn’t what was so unsettling, though. His eyes had some sort of satisfaction within them, like he was happy with his current position. Josuke presented him with the box. 

“I’m putting your tongue back in, Wagner. Bite it off again and you’re going to choke on it. Understand?” He said firmly. 

Wagner was unresponsive. His eyes didn’t follow Josuke. He didn’t nod, or do anything else to show that he understood. Josuke knew it was going to be one hell of a time getting anything out of this creep. 

 

Joseph sat down in a comfortable lounge chair across from Dolly. He took a sip of his wine and looked around. “It’s been ages since I’ve come down here.” He smiled. “The place seems bigger than before.” 

Dolly got comfortable. Well, as comfortable as she could possibly be on her aching hip. She stretched a bit before speaking. “We’re constantly making additions. Bigger staff means bigger base. We’re getting more members every year. Not just soldiers and scientists either. Ever since your grandson brought us the arrow from Morioh we’ve been slowly creating a team of Stand Users.” 

“That’s good. You can’t always rely on outside help for Stand emergencies. I know Jotaro was relieved to get fewer calls.” 

Dolly crossed her legs and took a sip of her drink. “We’re working on something else. Something bigger. I wanted to discuss it with you.”

“Oh?” Joseph raised a brow. “Of course.” 

Dolly’s face changed from happy to serious in a single moment. She placed her drink down and folded her hands. “I’m going to need a pint of your blood, Joseph.” 

 

Josuke was growing tired of Wagner’s attitude. The prisoner still hadn’t acknowledged his presence ever since the wicked glare at the beginning of the interrogation. Of course, Josuke was hesitant to get very violent with his little sister watching. Not only that, but he hardly had the stomach for full-on torture. He finally sat down across from Wagner and groaned. 

“Let me tell you what happens from here.” He said calmly. “You won’t give me any information. I can tell. Which means you’ll probably just bite your tongue off again the second I leave. That means they won’t get anything out of you either. That just leaves an irritating and dangerous Stand user catching dust in this underground base. They can’t imprison you. Stand Users are held to a different set of laws than normal people. That means they’ll kill you.” 

Wagner finally looked up into Josuke’s eyes. The sergeant knew he had some momentum now. 

“If you spill your guts, we don’t spill your guts. It’s pretty simple.” Josuke said calmly. 

Wagner couldn’t help but laugh. His stoic facade finally crumbled. He was laughing his ass off. Tears welled in his eyes as he giggled and squeaked. It was all just so funny. He couldn’t contain his pure bliss for a minute more. Josuke leaned back a bit in shock. 

“You… You Joestars! Do you think you’re better than the rest of us? Strength isn’t a birthright. It’s earned! What have you shitstains ever done in your lives to earn your strength!” His eyes darted to the glass wall as if he could see through it. “Jotaro Kujo! The ability to stop time on a whim!” Then his eyes moved to Josuke. “Josuke Higashikata! The ability to fix anything that’s broken and reform it to your will!” 

His laughing didn’t cease as his eyes met Shizuka’s through the glass. “And Shizuka Joestar. The power to manipulate light. All of you control the fabric of the world, yet you fail to appreciate the weight of it! Time! Creation! Light! None of that matters! I’ll tell you what this world really needs! It needs CHANGE!” 

At that moment the lights began flickering. Shizuka felt her stomach drop. All of the adults were frantically discussing what was wrong with the lights. That didn’t matter to her, though. Something was bothering her. Something was clawing at the back of her mind. She heard herself say,

“How does he know Ultra Violet’s power if he’s been locked up this whole time?”

That caught Jotaro’s attention. Her tiny voice carried such an important question that it pierced everything else and took priority in his mind. 

“That’s a good question.” He mumbled, pointing to Ripley. “Who’s been in contact with Wagner? Who feeds him? Who helps him use the bathroom? I want to know everyone he could have gotten this information from.”

Ripley looked genuinely disturbed by this breach of information. “No one, Sir. Absolutely nobody. I’m the only security agent with the clearance to enter this room. I’ve been his caretaker.” 

“Then how in the hell does he know about Shizuka’s Stand?” Marina demanded. 

“I don’t know.” Ripley quietly admitted. 

Josuke slapped Wagner to stop his excessive laughter. “Quiet!” He demanded. “Why are the lights flickering? What’s going on?” 

Wagner was rocking back and forth with glee. “It doesn’t matter now. I’ve waited patiently, and it’s finally time. We’re finally making our move. Do you have any idea how long I’ve waited to say that!? The world is changing, Josuke Higashikata!” 

Marina shoved Ripley against the wall; her hands grabbed the woman by the collar of her dress shirt as she shouted, “Who could have told him this? Who has the clearance!? Who besides you!?” 

Ripley was staring a thousand yards into the distance. She seemed almost unreachable. “The Joestars! No one else would be allowed in here.”

“Try again!” Marina demanded. 

“I’m telling you. Besides Madam Dolly herself, no one else is allowed in here! I’m the head of security, and the chief interrogator! What do you want me to say?” 

Marina let go of the woman and looked over to Jotaro. Despite their silence, an entire conversation took place between their eyes. 

“Go.” She said firmly. 

Jotaro sprinted out of the room and down the hallway. He was gone like the wind in seconds. Shizuka was still trying to wrap her brain around what just happened. All the while Josuke and Wagner screamed at each other on the other side of the glass. Ripley cupped her face in her hands, her back slowly sliding down the wall. It all made sense now. It’s why she couldn’t interrogate Wagner herself. It’s why she was told not to injure him. It’s why no one else was allowed to see him. She knew it to be true, but she still couldn’t believe it. Madam Dolly had betrayed the Speedwagon Foundation. 

 

Joseph and Dolly stood in a lab on the other side of the underground base. A doctor had drawn his blood a few minutes prior. He watched her carefully as she typed away at a keyboard. 

“Dolly… You know I’d bleed for the foundation without question. But, if you don’t mind my asking, what is this for?” 

“Shhhh.” She raised a finger in dismission. “This is a very complicated process. But if I do this right, it will benefit the both of us.” 

Doctors were coming in and out like greased lightning. Occasionally one would measure a part of Joseph, get a sample of saliva, or perform some other random medical task. He felt like a guinea pig. Not just any guinea pig either. He felt like the subject of an eager middle-schooler’s science fair project. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience. 

“I’d like to know what this is about, Dolly. It seems like you’re getting ready for something big.” 

“It’s nothing to worry about, Joseph. Just let us work. It’ll all make sense shortly.” She said in an apathetic tone. 

Joseph put his foot down. “Dolly, I’m about to walk out of this room right now. If I’m just here to be a blood donor, I’ll donate it to a cause I understand.” 

“I know about the cancer, Joseph.” She sighed, pulling her hands away from the keyboard for a moment. 

“Oh.” 

Dolly looked over at him sadly. “Your doctor works for the foundation. I don’t know why you’re surprised. Of course he told me that Joseph Joestar had lung cancer. Is that why you’re aging again? You can’t properly use Hamon?” 

He didn’t know what to say. “Suzy Q doesn’t know. None of the family does.” 

Dolly turned toward him completely now, leaning against the desk and sighing. “And why’s that? I’ve never understood why men prefer to suffer in silence.” 

“I’m old, Dolly.” Is all he said. 

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Oh come on Joseph. If you’re old, I’m old! Why do you have to say such things?” 

He shrugged. “I couldn’t get the treatment if I wanted to. My body wouldn’t be able to survive. Sure, I’m as spry as a man in his seventies now, but I haven’t used Hamon in months. I’m going to see a staggering jump in age sooner or later.” 

“Lucky for you, I have a solution.” 

“You have a cure for cancer?” Joseph joked. 

“In a sense. It’s something I’ve been working on. It was just meant for me…” She reached over and took his hand. “But I know what Robert would say.” 

Now Joseph was even more concerned. “You have cancer!?” 

“The world has a cancer, Joseph. And I’m going to cure it. All of it. Now let me work. It’ll all make sense soon.” Dolly turned back to the computer and got back to work. 

 

Jotaro knew the way. Well, he knew enough about this base to get around. He’d check the few possible places Dolly and Joseph could be. He wasn’t exactly sure what he’d do next, but that would be a problem for later. After turning a few corners and slamming through a few doors Jotaro was no closer to finding his grandfather. 

He saw a terminal at the end of the hall and approached it. Upon his arrival a projection screen appeared at eye level. It contained a detailed map of the underground base. There were even heat signatures identifying every human’s exact location. He saw two red dots on the opposite side of the map and determined they were the most likely to be his targets. Oddly enough, however, there was one room that was completely colored red. There must have been a large amount of heat coming from that area. He didn’t have time to worry about that. He just needed to find Dolly. 

A warning signal appeared on the screen. It seemed like someone was using it remotely. Jotaro saw multiple touch points glowing and activating. He watched for a moment as a password was typed in. Then, a worrying text-box appeared on screen. 

Are you sure you want to redirect power from Block B to the remaining three blocks? WARNING: This will result in catastrophe. Only do this as a last resort. 

Jotaro’s eyes widened when the “Yes” box was selected. There wasn’t much else to do as the hallway was submerged in darkness. 

 

The interrogation room seemed crazy before the outage. Once the lights were killed, however, the real panic set in. People bumped into each other, and everyone tried to take charge. Shizuka knew nothing would get done with total blindness, so she summoned her Stand. Ultra Violet cut through the darkness in an instant. She didn’t fill the room with light, but she provided a powerful glow that allowed everyone to see. It was on a similar level to a flickering flame. 

Ripley looked like she was about to faint. She slowly picked herself off the ground and leaned against the wall. “The lights are out? The lights have never been out. In seventy years these lights have never gone out!”

“It’s okay! I’ve got light. We just need to wait for them to come on again.” Shizuka tried to calm the agent down. 

“No. We need to go now. We have to contain it. I need to give the lights power!” Ripley began to walk out of the room. 

That seemed to be a weird way to phrase it. It was almost like she had a way to power the lights herself. 

“Shizuka just said the lights aren’t important. What’s your issue?” Marina grabbed Ripley’s arm and prevented her escape. 

The agent slapped Marina across the face. “Not the overhead lights! The lights keeping him asleep. We’re all in danger. And we have to go NOW. Follow me if you want to live.” 

“What about Josuke?” Shizuka asked as she looked through the glass. 

Ripely groaned in anger. “The interrogation door is magnetized shut. It needs electricity to open. He’ll get out when we’re done.” 

“But, he’s in there with-” 

SHIZUKA! I’m going to need your ability to see. Come with me right now!” Ripley grabbed the little girl and dragged her down the hall. With a bit of reluctance everyone else followed. 

Why would lights be keeping something asleep? Why was Ripley so utterly mortified by the idea of something waking up? Didn’t she know that Jotaro Kujo, Josuke Higashikata and Joseph Joestar were all under the same roof? They’d be able to handle whatever was waking up. Wouldn’t they?

 

Jotaro was fumbling around the pitch black hallways to the best of his ability. He couldn’t see a damn thing. How could the power have gone out? No, he knew better. He witnessed the power being manually shut down. It was getting harder and harder to deny Dolly’s malice. He needed to save the old man. She was just trying to slow him down. It wouldn’t work. He’d burrow through the walls until he found light. The power was only redirected to another block. It was still on everywhere else. 

Star Platinum began to punch the closest wall relentlessly. It seemed impossibly thick. Even though he was tearing through the thick steel there was always more behind it. Eventually he had to take a breather. Was this hall encased in some thick blast shield? Why would that be? It was all beginning to feel like an elaborate cage. Why would Dolly want the Joestars caged up while she had Joseph to herself? He gritted his teeth and punched even harder. He would get through. He had to. 

 

Agent Ripley was bounding down the hallway with Shizuka being dragged behind her. It was hard to ignore the potent fear she was emitting the entire way. It began to rub off on the young girl. What on Earth could such a badass agent be this afraid of? Eventually they arrived at a large door. Now, this door was seriously bigger than any door Shizuka had seen before. Not only that, but it was bolted shut in several places. Ripley touched a dead computer screen and watched as it came to life instantly. 

“Wait.. How are you activating that? And how do you plan to turn the lights on?” Shizuka questioned.

“It’s my Stand. I can’t explain everything right now. It’s important that we get in. But this damn thing needs to boot up!” Ripley slammed the wall with her fist. 

Marina, Pepsi and Shirlie all caught up a few seconds later. Pa-Pa-Power manifested. The others groaned as their Stands clumped up the limited space around the door. 

“Put your Stand away, Shirlie.” Marina groaned. 

“I can’t. He’s scared. I need to calm him down.” She pulled him down to her level and rested his face in the crook of her neck. “It’s okay, Power. We’re gonna get the lights back on soon.” 

“He’s scared of the dark.” Marina covered her eyes with her hand and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Makes perfect sense. He does realize that when he’s put away it’s nothing but darkness, right? Nonexistence until the next time he’s summoned?” 

Power stared at her in total horror. He clung to Shirlie even harder. 

“Well good going, Marina! Now I’m never getting him to go away! It’ll be like that time he spent a month out because he watched Taken and was afraid he’d get kidnapped!”

“You’re projecting your fears into an unintelligent, insentient manifestation of strength! Work out your problems!” Marina groaned. 

SHUT UP.” Ripley shouted sharply. She raised a finger to silence the ridiculous argument. “I can’t put the danger we’re facing into words. But let me promise you that none of our Stands are capable of fighting what’s dwelling in this room. Our only hope is to restart the lights.” 

“Wait, the thing is in there with the lights? I thought we were trying to activate the power again.” Shizuka said in confusion.

“Forget the power. There are thirteen lights we need to turn on, and I’m more than capable of activating them with my Stand. That’s all that matters.” 

The door opened, sending shivers down everyone’s spines. They couldn’t see inside. It seemed unbelievably dark. The room was absorbing and nullifying Ultra Violet’s glow. Shizuka was finding breathing very difficult. She realized after a moment that she was paralyzed with fear. When a powerful enough being has the intent to kill you, it’s nearly impossible to miss. She was trembling. Everyone was trembling. Ripley stepped away from the door. 

“He’s out.” She said in a shaky voice. 

“He?” Shizuka whispered, fully piecing it together. 

She’d heard enough of Joseph’s stories to know where this was going. Over sixty years ago her father had defeated something terrible. Its body was laid to rest deep underground; forever to be kept under powerful beams of light so its flesh could never reform. A man of stone… A Pillar Man. 

Jo…….joooooooooooo…” An impossibly deep voice growled from within the room. 

Shizuka gasped out loud. That’s the name her father used for her. Something about ‘ Shizuka Joestar’ being able to be pronounced ‘ Jo-Joestar’ in Japanese. Could the creature be speaking to her? It couldn’t be. 

You.... You smell like Jojo.” Powerful steps grew closer. 

They still couldn’t see through the door. It was completely engulfed in darkness. The overpowering aura of the Pillar Man was somehow defying physics and absorbing the surrounding light. The closer he got, the less everyone could see. 

“Wh-Who’s Jojo?” Marina stepped back cautiously.

“That’s a loaded question.” Shizuka admitted. “My dad, Jotaro, Josuke.. And me.” 

“He doesn’t seem to be a fan.” Marina quipped. 

No one was doing anything. Everyone was going to die. Ripley could just watch and dry heave as she stared at the door. There wasn’t anything anybody could do to defeat him. They needed to run. They needed to hide. She found a strength within herself that she didn’t know existed until that moment. Her hand reached forward and pressed the “close” button on the screen. Then, she turned the computer off. 

“Run!” Ripley screamed. 

No one needed to be told twice. 

 

Josuke was leaning against the glass wall in boredom. The maniacal laughter of Wagner had gone from unsettling to annoying. He groaned to himself as he stretched his arms. “It’s hilarious. I get it. How about you knock it off now?” He demanded.

Wagner calmed down for a moment. “Two…. No, maybe three.” He whispered. 

Josuke raised a brow. “What?” He called into the total darkness. He couldn’t see Wagner, but he felt the prick’s arrogant smile as it happened. 

“Maybe even six. What do you think, Higashikata? Could it be six?” 

“I have absolutely no clue. Maybe if you’re in the mood for a conversation you could actually let me in on it. Or is this another way to waste time?” Josuke grumbled.

“You could go at any time, Sergeant. Just break the glass.” Wagner offered. 

“Yeah right. I’m not an idiot. You could escape with your Stand at any time. Ripley was either lying or wrong about your medication. It doesn’t matter now. My little sister beat you with a folding chair. You’re no match for me face to face. So we’re going to hang out right here until the lights are on.” Josuke crossed his arms and rested a foot against the glass. 

There was silence for over a minute. No laughter, no counting… Just the sound of breathing. Finally, Wagner broke the silence. “What’s wrong with your bloodline?”

Josuke lifted his head curiously. “Wrong? What do you mean?” 

There was more silence as Wagner searched for the right words. “I wouldn’t expect you to know. It was more of an open ended question. I’ve pricked dozens of people with the arrow. About half of them lived. The ones who were worthy manifested pitiful Stands. The ability to tell a lie anyone will believe… The power to manipulate gravity, but only for yourself… The ability to withstand any temperature…” 

“All of those sound helpful to me.” Josuke shrugged.

“But none of them compare to the Joestars. None of them are as potent and as expansive. Star Platinum has inhuman precision, strength, and can control time. That’s not even human. Crazy Diamond has immense strength, speed, and can fix anything. Don’t you see? You’re not normal. You’re not standard. So I’ll ask again: What the hell?” 

Josuke allowed himself to slide down the wall until he was sitting down. “Beats the hell out of me. Why do you care?” 

“Because you’re a shining example of humanity. The pinnacle of evolution! Your family controls the elements of reality! Red Eden respects you. All of you.” 

Josuke snarled. “We don’t respect you.” 

“...definitely six.” 

“Okay, seriously, what are you counting?” 

A sickly smile crept onto Wagner’s face. “How many of your friends are dead by now.” 

 

Utter panic. That’s the only way to describe the state of Shizuka’s group. They all scattered. She didn’t want them to scatter. She believed they were stronger together. Not only that, but none of them had lights. She couldn’t see anybody. They were all gone. Pepsi had engulfed Shirlie in their shroud. Would they ever be seen again? Maybe it would work. Perhaps the Pillar Man would completely miss the twins due to MIST’s power. Ripley and Marina were also nowhere to be found. Shizuka was alone in the dark. There was no one to help her. She couldn’t think. There was nothing to see beyond Ultra Violet’s dim glow. Nothing to hear besides her own heartbeat. The air was cold and thick. They were cut off from the outside world. She felt stuffy… The air around her was completely still. She’d kill for a draft. Was this where she died? Trapped in an underground research facility? All alone? Would she ever learn about her mother? Perhaps she’d see her in another life. A smile slowly dawned on her face at the thought. Yeah… Maybe she’d see her Mom again. 

Then she came crashing back. The only face she could picture was the old, warm face of Suzy Q. THAT was her mother. Would she ever see her again? What about Joseph? He was so close, yet so far away. She wanted to see her Mom. Not some fantasy woman who didn’t raise her for a day of her life. She wanted her mother. Tears welled in her eyes as she looked around. Where had everyone gone? Did she seriously have to defeat this being on her own? 

That’s when heavy footsteps began to approach her. She knew it was time. She looked into the darkness and wiped her eyes. Ultra Violet towered over her as she prepared herself for the upcoming battle. After what felt like an eternity, he walked into view. 

“Santana.” Shizuka said firmly. 

Yes, Santana the Pillar Man had finally awakened. After decades of rotting beneath the surface of the nation’s capital, Santana had been given the gift of life once more. He’d been turned to stone by Joseph Joestar and Von Stroheim and sealed away by that wretched Speedwagon. But now he was back. 

The enormous man looked down at her in fascination. His piercing eyes seemed to be studying her carefully. And when he spoke his words were slow, methodical, and calm. “You’re not Jojo, though you just smell like him…” He marveled. “How are you glowing, little human?” 

It occured to Shizuka that Santana wasn’t a Stand user. He couldn’t see her Ultra Violet. That could be an advantage. There was also the possibility that he’d go easy on a child, but she wasn’t going to count on that. She just needed to stay calm. 

“Who knows?” She spat, standing tall. “What’re you doing down here, Mister? Need directions or something?” 

Santana looked around curiously. “I’ll make a trade. Information for your life.” He offered graciously. He didn’t even wait for an answer before continuing. “Where have I been brought, and how long have I been here?” 

Shizuka was in no mood to answer this monster’s questions. Despite that, she needed to buy some time. Ripley had to be looking for a way to get the lights back on, right? She couldn’t have just abandoned everyone down there. Shizuka pointed at Santana with a hand on her hip. 

“You’re two-thousand feet below the earth right now, Santana. And in the six decades you’ve been here, a lot’s changed.” 

“Dec. Cades.” He said slowly. “Deck… Cades. Decades. Decades?” It seemed like he was still getting a grasp for the specific complexities of Shizuka’s language. “How many rotations of the sun is that?”

Shizuka was caught off guard. “What…? The sun? I don’t know.” 

“So I’ve been down here for a very long time. I have two more questions. Why do you reek of Jojo, and how do you know my name?” 

She was finding it harder and harder to keep her cool. Malicious intent was practically oozing off the giant man as he glared down at her. 

“Joseph Joestar is my father… And he told me about you.” She admitted. 

“I see.” He hummed in a deep tone. “Bring me to Joseph Joestar. And that wretched old man. We have unfinished business.” 

Shizuka wasn’t an idiot. Her father wouldn’t stand a chance against Santana now. She had to protect him. If no one else was going to stand by her side, she would do it herself. 

“No.” She said firmly.

“No?” He echoed her curiously. 

“I’m not going to bring you to my father. He’s already defeated you once. It’d be boring. I’ll take you on myself.” 

The eyes of a killer scanned her body once more. This time, though, he was assessing her as a threat. He walked around her cautiously; circling her like a predator sizing up its prey before the attack. 

“Your father surprised me with his ability. I’d never before met a human who could do anything but soil itself and die. My arrogance and curiosity lead to my defeat. Let me assure you, tiny human, I will not hesitate for even a moment. Bring me to Joseph Joestar, or die.” 

“Maybe the humans of a thousand years ago were scared of you, but I’m not.” Shizuka growled. 

And so her fate was sealed. Santana took a deep breath as he weighed her options. Then, he lunged forward to attack. In less than a second Shizuka had created a light dummy over herself, turned invisible, and side-stepped out of the way. Santana’s ribs protruded from his body and stabbed through the light dummy. He raised a brow when nothing happened. Then Ultra Violet began to pummel him from behind. The ribs made a jagged turn and stabbed right behind Santana’s body. Once again, they hit nothing. Shizuka had slid between his legs and stepped out of the way. 

The Pillar Man growled in frustration. “Humans have once again evolved. This time they’re even more annoying.” 

It felt like this could really work. Shizuka was feeling a bit of confidence. Santana was ready to crush that misplaced emotion. “I see you can manipulate light. That’s why you were glowing. And now you’re hiding from me with refraction. What an annoying trick.” 

Shizuka gritted her teeth. Ultra Violet wasn’t capable of producing might light of its own. It mostly resorted to bending existing light in the room. Shizuka was exhausting a lot of energy to keep the area lit for their fight. If she could create pure ultraviolet light rays, she’d be able to fry Santana back into his stone shell. 

“This strategy of yours might work in an open space. But in a corridor like this it’s weak.” Santana bit his hand so hard it began gushing blood. Then he began swinging his hand around violently. 

A drop of blood landed on Shizuka’s invisible body. She quickly hid it with her power, but it was far too late. Santana grinned, lunging forward and grabbing Shizuka by the throat. She appeared before him once more. Her legs were swinging wildly as she attempted to break free from his grasp. His fingers sunk into her neck, and she could feel her energy being siphoned into his body. 

“You have a lot of power for a human…” He mumbled under his breath. 

She spat up a bit of blood as Santana drained her life force. Her futile attempts at punching and kicking the colossal man slowly ceased. She just hung uselessly from his hand like a corpse. Santana’s eyes widened a bit as he continued his attempts to absorb all of her energy. 

“You.” He said calmly. “That explains it. You’re not human. Not fully, at least.” 

This sparked something in Shizuka. Her attention was fully focused on his words. Not human? What could that possibly mean? What else would she be? Her vision began to blur as more and more of her power was drained. That’s when she heard rapid footsteps coming from behind Santana. 

“Here, you giant prick!” Marina screamed. 

Bubblegum Bitch’s bat connected perfectly with Santana’s face. She took it all the way to the wall with a loud crack. The wall shattered upon impact, but his head remained stuck to the layer of steel on the other side. Shizuka fell to the floor as this happened. She was struggling to remain conscious. Bubblegum Bitch swung at each of Santana’s limbs, sticking him to the wall. He struggled against it for a moment. His dark eyes fixated on Marina. 

“Another human? How are you hitting me from over there?” He asked in a bored tone. “This is getting extremely annoying.” 

Marina sank to her knees and rested Shizuka’s head in her lap. She gently shook the small girl. “Hey. Hey, Shizuka. C’mon, dear. Up and at ‘em. We don’t have time to nap right now.” 

Shizuka’s big eyes slowly adjusted to the sight before her. Ultra Violet was still dimly lighting the room. She could barely see Marina’s face. 

“You didn’t leave me.” She whispered weakly. 

“Course I didn’t. I was waiting for the right time to strike. Then he started to kill you, so I decided to attack early.” Marina brushed the hair from Shizuka’s tired face with her hand. “C’mon, Jojo. We’ve gotta take care of this twat.”  

“Jojo...” Shizuka mumbled as she came to her senses. The only people to call her that name were close family. It was strangely endearing coming from Marina, though. 

She fumbled to her feet with Marina’s help. They looked over at Santana cautiously. 

“Think that’s actually going to hold him?” Marina asked.

Shizuka could only shrug. “There’s no real way to know. I wouldn’t count on it though. Did you see where everyone else went.”

A somber smile came to Marina’s lips. “The twins are gone. I saw Pepsi grab Shirlie before they both disappeared. Ripley might come back. Who knows? Maybe she’s grabbing some plasma cannon they’ve been developing down here?” 

“Maybe.” Shizuka said sadly. 

They both stood upright as Santana began to struggle even harder. He thrashed and growled as his body was kept against the wall by Bubblegum Bitch’s adhesive power. “Humanity… Is so… Aggravating.” He shouted. Then, all at once, he tore himself from the wall. Blood poured from his back, and the two aggravating humans were forced to witness his unsightly mess all over the wall. He’d torn himself away from his own back. Half of Santana was still stuck to the wall! Muscle, organs, bones… All of these were connected by threads of blood as he approached them in shambles. 

Marina was speechless. She had no idea such horrors existed in this world. This was different from flashy spiritual Stand powers. Santana was a pure, raw monster. There was no fantasy to his presence. Only violence and death. 

“Free my back from the wall at once.” He ordered. 

Death. That was the only word running through Marina’s mind. She had spoken up a mad storm of confidence with Shizuka moments ago. That was just to encourage the girl to get back up, however. As she stood before the Pillar Man she felt nothing but hopelessness. If he could still stand proud despite the brutal injuries he inflicted upon himself, what would they possibly be able to do to him? She had no ideas. There were no clever tricks to outsmart him. He was stronger than them. Maybe he was the strongest being in the world. The Life Divine. 

 

Joseph watched as Dolly placed herself in a large medical chair. Several doctors were hooking her up to various pieces of futuristic equipment. He couldn’t imagine what she was doing. Why did it require his blood? None of it seemed to add up. He had no doubt of her loyalty in his heart though. Dolly Harris was one of the few people in Joseph’s life who never faltered for a single moment. He’d never seen her show a single sign of weakness. She was dynamite, plain and simple, and he held her in the highest of high regards. 

The idea that Dolly was betraying the Joestars didn’t even tug as the most cynical depths of his mind. Still, he was perplexed by her behavior. He wanted to understand. 

“Dolly, would you just talk to me?” He said softly. 

Her eyes opened slowly at his words. They drifted over to him with a strange sharpness. Something was flowing through the tubes connected to her bloodstream. 

“Joseph, dear. My friend.” She waved her hand dismissively. “Just sit down. Please. I want to make it all better. I want to make you whole again.” 

 

Santana towered over the two girls before him. There wasn’t a hint of mercy in his gaze. As he analyzed Marina closely, though, something seemed to spark in his eyes. His nose began to wiggle. “Human.” He said calmly. “Your name. Now.” 

If it meant she wasn’t going to die for another minute or so, Marina was happy to speak to the man. “It’s Marina.” Her voice was shaky and erratic. 

Marina. ” He mumbled. “Tell me, Marina. This girl reeks of Joseph Joestar. I can understand that. But why do you,” He grabbed her swiftly, swinging her against the wall and getting right up in her face. “Smell like Kars!?” 

Marina couldn’t speak. She struggled to break free from his iron fist, but to no avail. Her ears rang with static white noise after being slammed against the wall so forcefully. Kars? She’d never heard such a name. Or was he implying that she had a lovely new car smell? That didn’t seem likely. She coughed and spat a bit as she struggled to catch her breath. 

SPEAK, Marina!” Santana screamed into her face. “Has my master awakened? Has he claimed the world as his own, surpassing the sun!?” 

“Kars is dead!” Shizuka shouted loud enough to get his attention. “Wammu and Eisidisi too!” 

Santana ceased all movement for a moment. This child knew the names of his masters. That meant that they must have risen from their slumber. Her words couldn’t be true though. There was just no way. “Silence.” He swatted her with his free hand hard enough to send her into the opposite wall. Shizuka was already dizzy from having her life drained. She wasn’t getting back up for at least a minute. 

The Pillar Man’s hand carefully reached down to Marina’s pocket. His massive fingers couldn’t fit into the fold, though. He groaned in irritation, using one of his sharp ribs to slice off Marina’s left pants-leg. He lifted the cloth up and analyzed it closely. It was resonating with him. He dumped the pocket’s contents into his palm, dropping Marina to the floor. 

Santana eyed the handful closely. Marina’s pocket contained a seven pence, a receipt from McDonald’s, and the black feather. Santana gasped when he saw it. “This feather belonged to Kars.” He looked down at Marina. “Where did you get this!?” 

Marina was holding her head in pain. “Kars? That feather was my mother’s…” 

Santana kicked her in the stomach. “Where did your mother get it, human?” 

Her stomach absorbed the blow for a moment before sending it right back to Santana’s leg. This caused him to stumble a bit in his footing. Bubblegum Bitch swiped the feather from his hand and morphed back into Marina. She was holding it once again. She looked seriously pissed off. 

“This feather isn’t yours. And I’d like to see you try to rip it from my cold, dead hands.” She spat. 

Santana was cautious again. It was obvious that humans could have a large variety of abilities now. None of them seemed as dangerous as Joseph Joestar. Still, it couldn’t hurt to be careful. Blood was still oozing from the gaping hole in his back. He was very low on energy after his decades of slumber. He’d have to devour some living organisms to heal. 

“You clearly have no concept of my species, nor Kars. I’ll have to dispose of you and find someone who does.” He said calmly. 

Marina wasn’t fast enough to stop his swift attack. He lunged forward and grabbed her. She was shoved into his chest and felt as she slowly sank into his body. Her eyes widened. She was being eaten by this monster. She closed her eyes and focused her Stand ability. Her body turned to a rough, rubbery texture. Santana was struggling to digest her. He pulled her out of his chest in annoyance. 

“Even if you’re inedible, you’ll still die.” He growled. 

He grabbed Marina’s head firmly, then her feet. If she was sticky and rubbery, he’d have to get creative. His muscles flexed as he pulled her two ends further and further from one another. Then, in a horrific turn of events, Marina was torn into two halves. The split occurred in her stomach. She didn’t seem to be bleeding. Bubblegum Bitch sealed both ends of the wound quickly, making them sticky as well. Still, her bottom half couldn’t live very long without the top. Santana cast her legs aside, lifting her upper half higher. 

Marina’s screams filled the black halls. Her shrill, hellish cries bounced and echoed off of the concrete walls, piercing the ears of anyone in the vicinity. It seemed that while she wasn’t bleeding out, the experience was still horribly excruciating. Agony consumed her mind. She was no longer present in her own head. Santana’s words simply rolled off of her like water on a raincoat.

“These new humans have interesting quirks, but none of them can stand up to me.” He stated as a matter of fact. 

He took the feather from her hand, throwing her torso in a different direction from her legs. After that was dealt with, he looked to Shizuka. “You’re next, unless you take me to Joseph Joestar.” 

Shizuka was still reeling from before. She swayed back and forth as she sat up against the wall. Things really weren’t looking too good. At this rate, it really might be the end. Santana’s ears perked up for a moment. Something wasn’t right. Then, in the nick of time, he caught a large piece of debris. It had been going at unbelievable speeds. He looked at it curiously. He’d caught it on reflex alone. He hadn’t even seen it coming. 

Powerful footsteps filled the hall. The walking was filled with purpose as it approached through the darkness. After a few moments Shizuka could see the source. Jotaro Kujo stood at the edge of the darkness with hands in his pockets. His eyes drifted to Marina’s two halves. He then noticed Shizuka’s neck-wounds. 

“And who might you be?” Jotaro asked in a low drone. 

Santana turned to him curiously. “You also smell of Joseph Joestar. Will you bring me to him?” 

Jotaro wasn’t satisfied with that answer. He walked closer with his hands in his pockets. When he was about a meter away, he looked up at the towering man. 

“I’d like to find the old man myself. It seems like I’m stuck with garbage duty first though.” 

Jotaro wasn’t about to take any chances. Anyone who could do such a thing to Marina was dangerous. He knew what he had to do. Star Platinum appeared and balled a fist. Santana didn’t look at the Stand at all. Despite that, Jotaro shouted, “Star Platinum: THE WORLD!” 

A ripple enveloped the entire hallway. Without a moment’s hesitation Star Platinum began punching Santana right in the head. He never let up either. Jotaro gave it everything he had for three seconds of frozen time. Once the flow of time resumed, he expected to see the man’s head explode. 

Santana was sent back with great force. His feet skidded against the ground as he drove a hand into the wall to slow his momentum. He didn’t even fall over. That clearly didn’t have the desired effect. 

“This guy’s head is as hard as steel.” Jotaro groaned. “No, harder than that. What the hell’s going on?” 

In a flash Santana was standing in front of Jotaro once more. He was only inches away. It took a lot to make Jotaro Kujo feel small. However, this man was twice his size. Santana towered over him with zero sympathy in his eyes. 

“This human annoys me.” He growled. 

Star Platinum punched him in the face again. Santana grabbed Jotaro’s arm and pulled hard. It snapped almost instantly. Jotaro shouted in pain, falling forward into Santana. With a single swipe Jotaro’s arm was removed from his torso. Santana held it like a weapon. “Let’s see how you enjoy being hit.” He growled. 

Jotaro tried to protect himself, but Star Platinum was now missing an arm too. He was taken by surprise as his own arm slammed against his fist. Santana relentlessly beat Jotaro with his large heavy arm before swinging it like a bat the knocking the man over. He stood above the injured man and swung the arm directly against his stomach several times just to make sure he stayed down. 

“These evolved humans are starting to bore me. Take me to Joseph Joestar. NOW.” 

Marina was split in two, Jotaro was amputated on the spot, and Shizuka was trying to stop the bleeding from her neck. Needless to say, the situation was beginning to look very grim. None of them seemed to be in any position to fight back. If even Jotaro Kujo couldn’t take on Santana, who stood a chance? 

A very strange hiss filled the hall. It echoed off of the walls. Then, a light could be seen. It was circular, and seemed to be incredibly bright. It seemed to be in someone’s hands too. Upon closer inspection, one could vaguely see Ripley’s face lit up by whatever she was holding. The machine made a science-fiction-like drone as it was ready to fire. Santana turned to face the new threat with apathy. 

“And what’s your ability?” He groaned. 

“This big fucking cannon.” Is all Ripley said before firing. 

An enormous blast of potent energy soared through the air, cutting through everything in its path until it struck Santana. The impact struck everyone’s ears as a massive banging sound filled the room. Santana was sent flying down the hallway and out of Ultra Violet’s glow. Everyone just stared in shock. 

“I knew it…” Marina coughed. “She was getting a plasma cannon!” 

Ripley shrugged. “It’s a supersonic energy blaster with quad-dimensional enhancements powered by my Stand’s electricity. But plasma cannon sounds way cooler.” 

Jotaro sat up against the wall, clenching the stump on his shoulder with his remaining hand. He let out an excruciating groan. “I’m bleeding out. The heart is only a few inches from my wound. We need to close it now.” 

“Ripley, can you drag me over to Jotaro?” Marina requested. 

The agent complied rather swiftly. Soon, Marina’s torso was lying beside Jotaro. Bubblegum Bitch appeared and placed its hand right on the stump. The wound quickly sealed up with a skin-colored rubbery paste. This didn’t stop Jotaro from vocalizing how painful the process was. 

“Right then. That should hold. I have no idea about the possible side effects, and cannot guarantee it won’t infect you. Josuke will have to patch us both up. But for the time being, you won’t bleed to death.” 

“Things are really looking up for me then, huh?” He moaned sarcastically. “Ripley, what is that thing? And did your gun stop it?” 

“That was Santana the Pillar Man. He was defeated and turned to stone by Joseph Joestar in the thirties. His body was kept here under UV lights for decades.” 

“You’re telling me the old man wasn’t exaggerating those stories? Gimme a break.” He leaned his head against the wall. 

“The cannon shouldn’t have killed him. But it seems like it had the desired effect of getting rid of him temporarily. Don’t let your guard down. Who can still fight?” Ripley questioned. 

An eerie silence fell upon the room. It was a reasonable question, to be sure. Still, with the sorry state of the crew they couldn’t help but find it amusing. None of them were exactly combat ready. Shizuka slowly stood up, still clenching a hand to her neck. 

“I can fight.” 

Jotaro wasn’t about to let her fight alone. “I’m fine. What’s the plan?”

The severed half of Marina capable of speech just raised a finger. “I cannot fight. But I can seal up any other amputations that happen.” 

“I’m sure that will be helpful.” Ripley smiled. “Want me to toss your ass over so you can keep it safe?” 

“Darling, you can do anything you want with my ass. I’m more focused on finding a way to walk with my hands.” 

This actually got quite a loud chuckle from Ripley. “Duly noted. Think I’ll wait till it’s back on you, though.” 

Marina just gave her a surprised look of recognition. It wasn’t often that women returned her direct and sexual attempts at flirting. It was especially rare for a woman she was as interested in as Ripley to do so. That would definitely be something to unpack once they somehow survived this hellish basement massacre, but it was something to stay positive for at least.

Powerful footsteps boomed through the hall. It was clear that Santana had gotten his footing back. Ripley armed the cannon once more in preparation. “I don’t think he’ll get hit by this twice. Not unless I shove it up his ass. He can any part of his body to dodge. You two are going to need to get me a shot. 

Shizuka already knew what to do. Santana trudged closer by the second. He didn’t seem amused in the slightest. He was clearly done toying with them. 

“Fire.” Shizuka said softly. 

Ripley looked down at the kid in shock. “Didn’t you hear me, Shizuka? You need to-”

“Fire!” Shizuka barked. 

Ripley’s finger instinctively pulled the trigger. The loud hiss began. Shizuka turned the entire cannon invisible along with Ripley’s arms. There was no way to tell which way she was aiming it. Santana growled. 

“More light tricks? I’m getting sick of this.” Santana droned. 

“Here we go!” Ripley gritted her teeth. 

 

It was done. The procedure Dolly had prepared for over so many tedious years was complete. She stood up from the chair and looked at Joseph with a smile. “Do you see what I mean now?” She smirked. 

Joseph was at a loss for words. “And you want to do this for me too?” Was all he could manage. When Dolly nodded, he laughed. “I couldn’t… What about Suzy? This doesn’t seem right.” 

Dolly shrugged. “You can die within a year, leaving your ten-year-old daughter and your wife alone, or you can accept the procedure. I’m not offering this to anyone else, Joseph.” 

She stepped closer to the ragged, old man. Her right hand rested on his chest, and her left brought his chin down so he was looking into her eyes. “It’s only for you.”

Joseph sighed. “Okay, okay. You win, Blondie.”

 

The cannon was ready. After a moment it let out a roar as the energy blast soared through the air. Shizuka turned the blast itself invisible as well. There was no way Santana could dodge such an attack. That’s what they thought, anyway. Perhaps someone with a calmer state of mind would have anticipated such an illogical being defying the impossible. His body stretched and morphed in a very unsightly way. It literally became a large open square hugging each wall, the floor, and the ceiling. The beam passed through the massive opening in the square without any issue. Santana reformed afterward with a dangerous look in his eyes.

“Joseph Joestar will probably come to me if I slay his kin.” Santana growled. 

Right you are, Santana! ” A familiar voice boomed through the dark halls. 

Everyone’s ears perked up at the sound. The voice was strange. Shizuka and Jotaro knew it well, but something was different. The tone and delivery was spot on, but the voice itself seemed so… Spry. Youthful. Their brains couldn’t properly register what they had heard. Santana, on the other hand, recognized it immediately. He turned around entirely to face down the hall. The injured crew could only see his bloodied, torn back. 

Once again, all anyone could do was wait with anticipation as firm footsteps strutted through the darkness. These weren’t the stomping of a Pillar Man’s bare feet, however. Nor were they the confident glide of Jotaro Kujo. These were clearly the steps of a gentleman in dress shoes. 

“He arrives.” Santana said proudly as he stared into the darkness with his enhanced vision. 

A large young man stepped into view. He had styled brown hair, a white dress shirt with a blue tie, khaki pants with a fine leather belt, purple suspenders, and a snarky smile. He threw his garish red coat aside, taking a fighting stance. His light green eyes had a dangerous sharpness to them as he stared the Pillar Man down. Shizuka was staring in utter disbelief. She’d never seen this man before; but recognized him from photos on the wall of her home. If that wasn’t enough, the coat gave it away. 

“Dad…” She spoke in disbelief. “You’re…” 

He couldn’t help but smile. “That’s right, Shizuka dear! I’m young again! Joseph Joestar, Hamon warrior and slayer of all things Pillar-Men is back for one final show!” He pointed at Santana. “I’ll only need a second to finish you off.” 

Santana glared at him with little emotions besides disdain. “Where are my masters, Jojo?” 

Joseph laughed. “Oh, those guys? Took care of them myself! And you’re next. I can’t believe I almost forgot to finish the job. But fate always finds a way, doesn’t she?” 

“If what you say is true, you’ll be sorry.” Santana warned. 

“Sorry, pal! But we’re fresh out of time! I don’t even need a plan to take you down. I see your backside is stuck to that wall over there! That means you have an entire area of exposed, vulnerable insides!” 

Santana’s eyes widened. Joseph’s Hamon could destroy him if it pierced the skin. He had planned on devouring some of the humans to regenerate his energy before facing the strongest of them. There wasn’t time though. His ribs came out, ready to pierce Joseph’s lungs. 

Joseph just shook his head. He snapped his fingers, striking a pose. “Hermit Purple!” A spiked vine shot from his hands and wrapped around Santana. Joseph grabbed it with both hands and pulled with all his might. Santana was pulled straight over to Joseph, who caught him with a kick to the stomach. 

“When we met I was just an English punk! But after sixty years in the United States of America I’m a wrangling cowboy!” He shouted, spinning Santana around with his Stand. 

Santana slammed into the wall with a loud thud. 

“Time for a classic!” Joseph snickered. “Your next line is: What’s binding me, you arrogant primitive?” 

Santana struggled against Hermit Purple, unable to see the Stand. “What’s binding me, you arrogant primitive?” His eyes widened when he realized what had happened.

“Hah! I still got it! Now let’s finish this! Hermit Purple and Hamon!”

The vine began to surge with the power of the sun, electrifying and melting the Pillar Man’s exposed insides. But Joseph wasn’t done yet. He held Santana against the wall with his shoe, readying his hand. 

OVERDRIVE!” He shouted, jamming his fingers right into Santana’s eyes. 

The Hamon surged through Santana’s skull, destroying him from the inside. In a beautiful, bright blast of golden energy Santana’s head exploded all over the walls. Joseph tightened Hermit Purple’s grip around the body, wringing it out and draining any remaining life. Without an ounce of resistance, Santana’s body turned to dust. It was over. The last of the Pillar Men was no more. 

Joseph looked over to his family. “That was close! But that guy was pretty much a pushover!” He walked over to Shizuka, getting down onto one knee and offering her a hand. “You okay, Jojo?” 

Shizuka just stared at him. Her father, a man she’d only ever seen in his twilight years, looked no older than twenty-five or so… He looked like the parents her peers would walk home with after school. He was young! Not only that, but he was strong. He’d just wiped the floor with the enemy none of them stood a chance against. She didn’t even feel herself reaching forward and hugging him. It happened all on its own. She bled all over his white shirt, but he didn’t mind. He just held her against his chest, nearly concealing her completely with his massive body. He eventually just scooped her into his arms and stood up. She couldn’t remember the last time he carried her. It had to be before she was even forming memories. She cherished the moment as Joseph walked over to Jotaro. 

“Hey there, sport. Doing alright?” His eyes were glued to the amputated arm lying on the floor next to his grandson. 

“Jiji?” Jotaro asked, wondering if the blood loss was causing him to see things. 

Joseph laughed. “I wouldn’t call me that anymore! I’m younger than you now!” 

“How did this happen?” Shizuka questioned. 

Joseph’s smile quickly faded. He’d been so hyped up on adrenaline and youth that he’d almost forgotten what lead to this.

 

After Joseph had gotten the treatment, Dolly was waiting for him. He still wasn’t used to seeing her so young. It had been ages. She was quite tall for a woman, standing at 5’10. Her short hair was a magnificent golden blonde. It was shining, reflecting the lights from above. Her cheekbones were prominent, her lips were plump and soft. She had this elegance about her that Joseph had nearly forgotten about after all these years. She had curves in all the right places, and her eyes could read your very soul. Joseph admitted years ago that she was smarter than him. He never thought he’d meet his match, especially in such an unassuming woman. Despite that she slowly rose to the top of the foundation. One of Speedwagon’s final acts was appointing her as the new head. Joseph remembered that day fondly. 

 She smiled at him and complemented his appearance. He tried to play it off, but couldn’t deny that he was pleased to be so youthful again. After examining himself in the mirror for a minute or two, Dolly brought up quite the strange topic. 

“You’re strong, Joseph. Even without a combat Stand.” She purred from behind him.

He made eye contact with her in the mirror, smirking. “Thanks, Blondie.” 

She chuckled, leaning against the wall and crossing her arms as she sized up his fit new form. “That nickname died down years ago when my hair turned white.” 

Joseph shook his head. “Well it’s back now, isn’t it?” 

Dolly looked up at the ceiling for a moment in consideration. It seemed like she was torn on something. “Joseph… There’s a bit of a selfish reason behind the restoration of your youth.” 

The young man sighed. “Dolly, if this is what I think… I told you I’m happily married. Maybe if I met you sooner, but I love Suzy. My only regret in life is my infedelity in Tokyo.” 

Dolly waved her hand dismissively. “We’re not rehashing that discussion. This is different. I’m trying to change the world, Joseph. And I need your help to do it. That’s why you couldn’t die.” 

Joseph finished straightening his tie, turning around curiously. “Changing the world?” 

“Yes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had a way to protect themselves? If the world was without weakness? No more suffering? No more fear?” 

Joseph smiled fondly. This again. He just shrugged. “Well yeah, Blondie. That’d be great. But it’s impossible. Weakness is unavoidable. It’s the responsibility of the strong to protect them.” 

“But what if someone strong isn’t nearby? What if someone is weak, and they’re being taken advantage of by someone stronger? One could argue that living in weakness and fear is worse than death itself.” 

“You can’t spend your whole life worrying about these hypotheticals. It’s not like you can save everyone.” 

A dark look appeared in Dolly’s eyes. “I meant what I said. I’ve experienced weakness. The way I was, I’d have rather not been living at all.” 

Joseph looked at her with concern. “What are you saying?” 

“Everyone deserves a chance. I get that. And I believe it. So why don’t we give them that chance? The decision to be strong. The opportunity to forsake their flaws and come out superior. Trial by Flame. The strongest souls are forged, not born.” Blondie said passionately. 

“It sounds like you’re implying we should torture weak people to make them stronger.” Joseph mumbled. 

“Not torture. It’s quite painless, actually. My solution is simple, possible, and clean. We infect everyone with the otherworldly disease found within the Stand Arrow. Those who want to live will survive. And the weak will wilt away like flowers in autumn.” 

Joseph wasn’t pleased. “The very virus that nearly killed my Holy? Being worthy of a Stand isn’t the end-all defacto method of proving your strength. Holy is strong in other ways. She’s an amazing mother, a wonderful daughter, and willing to suffer through any pain to prevent her loved ones from worrying about her. This philosophical discussion is over.”

Blondie groaned. “The needs of few versus the needs of many. You’re being blinded by sentimentality. Just think of all of your family members who are worthy of Stands. Holy is a weak link. She’s a perfect representation of the problem mankind is facing. The weak get to siphon off of society like leeches, contributing nothing and draining the resources they’re incapable of gathering for themselves.” 

Now Joseph was the one with a dark look in his eyes. “Deb.” He said firmly. “Drop this. Right now.” 

Blondie was shocked to hear that name. No, not shocked. She was furious. “This is your last chance to be on the right side of history, Joseph. The next time we see each other, I’ll ask you again. Then, you can decide to join me, or be my enemy.” 

Joseph scowled at her. “Where’s my family?” He demanded. 

Blondie sighed. “In Block B, if they’re still alive. I had to keep them away from here for as long as I could. Wagner is unreliable. I couldn’t trust him not to give me away too soon.” 

The newly renewed man grabbed Blondie by the collar. “What are you saying, you horrible woman? IF they’re alive? What does that mean?” 

She just smiled sadly at the loss of her only friend. “It means that Santana has woken up for the first time in sixty years. None of them are hamon users, are they? You’d better get going.” 

At that moment the door opened. 

 

Everyone just waited in silence after Joseph’s story. None of them knew what to say. There was obvious pain in his eyes as he finished. 

“So… Madam Dolly is Blondie?” Shizuka finally asked. 

Jotaro stood up slowly. “We're in bad shape. We need to find Josuke.” 

“Then we need to get out of here.” Joseph agreed. “I’ll go find him. Jotaro, protect everyone here. We’re officially in enemy territory now.” He said through gritted teeth. He looked to his daughter, then his grandson. Then, he thought of Josuke. All of them benefited directly from this organization in some way throughout their lives. That’s why it pained him to say it.

 “The Speedwagon Foundation has turned on the Joestars.” 





Chapter Text

Josuke was still submerged in the dark interrogation room with the most unpleasant man in existence. Wagner had gone from dead silence to singing show tunes out of key. The well-dressed sergeant was really losing his patience. How much longer would it take to get the power on? He was honestly beginning to worry a bit about his family. After the third rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama” in B Minor Josuke was about finished with Wagner’s attitude. 

“Oi, how about you just sit there quietly? Does that sound nice?” He quipped. 

Wagner was having the time of his life. Blondie’s plans were finally coming to fruition. Who wouldn’t be ecstatic at a time like this? He just rocked his chair back and forth gleefully. 

“What’s the matter, Higashikata? Sick and tired of my lovely voice? You could always leave.” 

Josuke could only groan in response. They’d been over this a dozen times already. Before he could explain himself once again, his attention was stolen by a loud slam in the distance. Both men’s ears twitched. They’d been isolated for what felt like hours. Whatever sound managed to penetrate the airtight room must have been enormous. This caused the family man to get even more nervous. Wagner decided to chime in. 

“Do you know what my Stand power is, Higashikata?” 

Josuke shrugged, not that Wagner could see his body language either way. “You can control the dead. Unfortunately for you there aren’t any corpses in here.”

The confined man just chuckled. “There aren’t any corpses to be sure. But are you aware of how much of your body is dead at all times? Chewed nails, hair sheddings, skin flakes, all of these are dead.”

The sergeant raised a brow cautiously. “And?” 

“I’ve been very patient with you, Higashikata. But now it’s time for me to go. It’s been nice. I’ll remember you in the new world.” 

“What are you tal-” Josuke was interrupted by a strange sound. 

He couldn’t see it, but he could feel a dangerous energy coming from Wagner. The insane man was combining every dead cell in the room from himself and Josuke to form a dense ball. Then, with surprising force, he fired it at his opponent. Josuke didn’t stand a chance in the dark. The ball hit him right in the head and knocked him out. 

Flying Dutchman emerged from Wagner and effortlessly destroyed his restraints. The psychopath stood tall with a big grin on his face. He flexed his muscles and stretched for a moment. It’d been too long since he could scratch his own ass. “I admire your strength, Higashikata. But you underestimated me. That’s typical for a Joestar.” He taunted Josuke’s unconscious body. 

“Eden has no place for you. Goodbye.”

It didn’t take much effort to shatter the glass wall and exit the interrogation room. It was silent for quite a while. Eventually, the one and only Joseph Joestar stormed into the room. He surged Hamon through his hand to produce a shining light and quickly found Josuke lying in the shards of glass. 

“Oh no! My boy!” He sprinted across the room and sank to his knees. “Josuke, we’ve got to go. There’s a lot to unpack, but we don’t have time right now!” 

Sergeant Higashikata took a moment to come to. He quickly woke up in Joseph’s arms and was startled by the man’s appearance. “Wha?” He questioned. “Who are you?” 

Joseph sighed. “I’m your daddy. Just way younger! I’ll explain on the way. We’re in serious danger. The others need your Stand.” 

 

Marina was lying face down on the cold tiled floor as she waited for Josuke’s arrival. She looked over to Ripley with a smile. “Santana took something from me. A slick black feather. Can you go get it from his ashes? It’s really, really important.” 

What Marina didn’t expect was a flash of recognition in the agent’s eyes. “ The black feather?” She questioned, running over to Santana’s remains. She gasped, holding a hand over her mouth in shock. “Where did you get this?” 

“It belonged to my mother. Why? Does it mean something?” 

“Marina, this was stolen from the Speedwagon Foundation over a decade ago. It was essential to Madam Dolly’s research. How did your mother end up with it?” 

The answer was simple, really. “I have no idea.” 

Jotaro groaned, clasping his hand over the bump where his other arm used to be. “The kids.” He mumbled. Everything had been so hectic that he didn’t even think about it until now. “Where are Pepsi and Shirlie? Did anyone see them?” 

“Not since the attack started. They must be hiding somewhere.” Shizuka frowned. 

“Or they found a way out. Either way, it’s not like we can find them. Where’s the old man?” 

Right then Joseph’s voice could be heard down the hall. “That’s young man to you, Mr. Kujo! And we’re right here. Two swashbuckling studs. We look like brothers! Isn’t that crazy?” 

Josuke looked tired. His eyes were adjusting to the light once more. “I’m very confused, Jotaro. Are we fighting the foundation now?” 

“Yes. Dolly betrayed us. She tried to have a monster kill us while she experimented on the old man. We’ve got to move fast, so heal everyone and let’s go.” 

“Great.” Josuke groaned. “I’m already feeling tired. Okay everyone, single file line. Let’s get this show on the road.” 

It didn’t take more than a minute to heal everybody. The crew was good as new once again. Jotaro stepped toward the hall Joseph originally entered from. “Jiji, how’d you get to this block? That has to be the way out.” 

Joseph nodded. “The only way out, and the place we’re most likely to run into enemies.” 

It took a moment for everyone to notice Ripley’s expression. The agent was looking down at the floor with clenched fists. Her lip was trembling, and it was clear that she felt horribly conflicted. “These are my coworkers. My friends.” She said softly. 

Marina looked down for a moment too. “They tried to kill us.” She reasoned. 

“No, Dolly tried to kill us! If we go upstairs guns blazing we might hurt dozens of innocent people who are just doing their jobs!” 

“It’s not like we have a choice. They’re working for Blondie.” Jotaro mumbled. 

“They’re working for Dolly. I doubt even half of the foundation would buy into her cultish beliefs.” Joseph admitted. “But there’s nothing to be done. We have to get out of here. Agent Ripley, you have no obligations here. Thank you for fighting with my family, but you’re an agent of the foundation. If you want to keep your job, I recommend you stay down here until it all blows over.” 

Nobody else said anything. They empathized with her plight. It’s not like any of them wanted to be in their current situation. If Ripley didn’t have to stay involved, it made sense for her to bail. She just stared down at the floor. After about ten seconds of silence, Joseph nodded. 

“Okay. Come on, Jotaro. We should lead. Everyone, stay behind us.” 

The group sprinted down the cooridor with determination. Ripley stayed put, quickly fading into the darkness as Shizuka’s light faded down the hall. She felt overwhelming shame and regret. But it wasn’t like she could just uproot her life and betray the foundation. They gave her everything she had. Where would she be without them? What if the Joestars lost? Would she be killed? Would she be fired? She couldn’t take such a risk. 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered to no one in particular. 

 

The Joestar party stood tense in the elevator as it rose from the underground base up to the first floor. The Speedwagon Foundation looked rather unassuming from the outside. It just seemed like a fancy academic building with several labs and conference rooms. Very few people knew what rested below the surface. Everyone was ready to attack as the elevator dinged. The doors slowly opened, revealing Alfonz, the security guard they argued with earlier.

Star Platinum appeared and had the man in a death-grip in an instant. Alfonz shouted in shock. 

“Wait! Wait! Joestars, I’m here to help you! I saw everything with my Stand. I couldn’t get down to assist, though, because the elevators were out of service.” He gagged desperately. 

Jotaro let go with skeptical eyes. “Jiji, you know everyone here better than I do. Can we trust him?” 

Joseph rubbed his chin in thought. “I’d have trusted Dolly with my life an hour ago. We can’t be certain about anything.”

The agent held his hands out. “I’ll prove it. Look!” His Stand manifested. It was a small transparent computer hovering at eye-level. He turned it to the group. The screen displayed hundreds of different rooms and views. The rooms that were dark seemed to be displayed using night vision. “I’m the ultimate security guard. I can see everything that happens in this building!” 

“Show us Blondie then.” Jotaro ordered. 

Alfonz typed at the keyboard for a moment. The screen showed Blondie in all her glory walking down some hallway within the building. She had changed from her lab coat and blouse into a tight, form-fitting black dress. She had a red vial hanging from her neck, two rings on her left ring finger, and six inch heels easily putting her over six feet tall. She sensed something was off and stopped in place. Then, her eyes met the invisible Stand camera in the corner of the room. Al gasped, slamming the laptop shut. 

“She just saw me! She knows I was watching. Do you believe me now?” He demanded. 

“Where’s Wagner?” Josuke questioned, not wasting time with Alfonz’s hysterics. 

“Do you think I’m a magic mirror? I’m not just gonna show you everything for the next ten minutes. Do you want out or not?” 

“Where was Blondie heading? What part of the building is she in?” Joseph asked, trying to stay on task. 

“Close. She’s heading to the main entrance.” 

That’s when the PA system activated. There was the white noise of a microphone for a moment before a man began speaking. “Attention, everyone. There are five imposters attempting to leave the premises. These five have used supernatural abilities to take the appearance of Jotaro Kujo, Shizuka Joestar, Marina Archer, Josuke Higashikata, and a young version of Joseph Joestar. All exits are to be guarded, and the suspects are to be detained by any means necessary.” 

Alfonz went pale. “The PA is my job. Who gave that announcement?” 

Shizuka gritted her teeth. “That voice. It was Wagner.” 

“We’ve got bigger problems. The building is going on lockdown. What’s our plan?” Marina questioned. 

“Well, the blast-shields only cover the underground base. We should be able to just punch through a wall and jump.” Joseph thought out loud. 

“And then what, Jiji? We can’t outrun the foundation on foot.” Jotaro interjected. 

“The Valkyrie!” Joseph said triumphantly. 

Alfonz went pale. “M-Mr. Joestar. Surely you can’t be serious.” 

“What the hell is the Valkyrie?” Jotaro questioned. 

“It’s a fighter jet capable of breaking the sound barrier, along with several other terrifying and dangerous qualities. With all due respect, Mr. Joestar, your history with planes is-” 

“Alfonz! Get us to the Valkyrie now!” Joseph ordered, pointing in no particular direction. 

“Yes Sir.” 

Shizuka had a bad history with planes. She had no idea how many times her father had been involved in crashes, however. If anyone knew, perhaps they would have hailed a taxi instead. The crew followed Alfonz closely through the twists of the ground level base.

They arrived at a hallway with an armed guard watching the next door. Shizuka’s eyes widened. In a flash, she turned everyone but Alfonz invisible. It didn’t take long for her to begin sweating. Hiding others was an exhausting task. She couldn’t keep it up for long. Thankfully, they got through quickly. They were fortunate that the PA system masked five extra pairs of footsteps behind Al, though. 

Eventually they ended up in a large docking bay. There was quite a variety of aircrafts lining the area. There didn’t seem to be anybody else besides the crew in the entire bay. They sprinted for the Valkyrie as fast as they could. 

“What’s our plan once we get away? Doesn’t the foundation have ties with every major government?” Josuke questioned. 

“We need to stop Blondie. She’s a cancerous mole on the foundation. If she’s gone, they can heal.” Joseph explained. 

“I hope you’re right.” The sergeant mumbled.  

They arrived at the Valkyrie’s boarding station. Marina finally spoke up. “I’m sorry, but aren’t fighter jets meant for one or two pilots? There are five of us.” 

Joseph smirked, pointing at her. “The Valkyrie is special! It’s a jack of all trades! Why do you think the foundation is working on it? It can transport up to fifteen troops in the back hatch. I’ll power it up and drop the back.” 

Jotaro just looked around cautiously. This all seemed to be going too well. Even the landing bay’s door was wide open. Why wouldn’t it be shut in the lockdown? And why did they only run into two or three guards their entire way there? The Speedwagon Foundation wasn’t to be reckoned with. So how were they reckoning with it so effortlessly? His eyes widened as he realized what was happening. 

“Jiji! Don’t open the hatch!” He shouted. 

It was too late for Joseph to hear him. After a few tense moments the Valkyrie’s back hatch began to lower. Everyone stood upright when they saw who was waiting inside. Blondie was standing at the top of the entrance ramp with a glass of red wine in her hand. Josuke grabbed Alfonz by the collar. 

“You.” He growled. “Why didn’t you tell us she was heading here? The very place we were retreating to!?” 

A delightful laugh escaped Blondie’s lips as she looked down at them. “Oh Josuke, always the detective. Haven’t you pieced it together? Alfonz is a member of Red Eden. I ordered him to bring you here. ” 

“Star Platinum!” Jotaro clenched his fists.

I wouldn’t. ” Blondie raised a dismissive hand. Her tone was sharp and concise. “If my head were to suddenly burst from your unbridled rage, there would no longer be any reason for the dozens of armed guards to hold back. Do you know how many energy canons are currently aimed at this Valkyrie? If I die, we all die.” 

Jotaro leaned back a bit in hesitation. “So this was your plan? Round us up and kill us?” 

“Only in my wildest dreams.” A familiar voice called from inside the ship. Wagner stepped into view beside Blondie, grinning down at them. 

Blondie rested her face in her free palm for a moment, groaning. “Honestly, Wagner, do you have to make everything so dramatic?”

“What? C’mon, Blondie. You should try smiling for once.” He laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Aren’t you happy that everything went according to plan? You know you are. C’mon, show me that pretty smile.” 

Blondie became expressionless. She just stared forward like nothing was wrong as Wagner’s lifeless body slammed against the metal floor of the Valkyrie. His eyes were empty. His body was motionless. Shizuka could see his essence fading away into the sky. It took everyone a moment to realize what had happened. Wagner was dead. Shizuka’s eyes widened as she felt like she might throw up. How had Blondie done such a thing? When did she do it? There was no flash, no sound, nothing. He touched her, and he died. 

The head of Red Eden just rolled her eyes. “The commander of the dead had outlived his use. He was barely ever worth that mouth of his anyway.” 

No one had anything to say in response. Marina and Shizuka had never witnessed the light leave a man’s eyes before. Josuke just looked down with clenched fists. Jotaro took a step forward, letting his shoe slam against the metal ramp. Blondie raised a brow. 

“You’re approaching me?” She asked in a dry tone. “Ask Wagner how that went.” 

“I’m conflicted.” Jotaro said calmly. “One one hand, Wagner was a piece of shit. He deserved to die. On the other hand,” He fixed his hat and glared up at her. “ I wanted to be the one to deliver his justice.” 

Blondie’s red lips twisted into an amused grin. “Oh yes, Jotaro. I remember the mandatory psych evaluation we conducted on you after Egypt. Do you? When asked if you regretted killing those people on your journey, your answer was…”

I only regret not killing them twice. I remember.” He growled. “The real question here is if you remember what happened in Egypt.” His finger pointed right at her. “I took down a whiny blonde with a god complex. Would you like a hands-on demonstration?”

“Dio was weak, shortsighted, selfish, and ironically fueled by the primary urges of man. He thought he was above mankind, but he was owned by his own humanity. Money, sex, power… All of these controlled Dio Brando’s life. It was never enough. He would have continued down his path until the entire planet burned. I find that… Inefficient.” 

“And your plan is better? Humanity isn’t doing too hot, so let’s burn it down for the insurance money. Is that it?” He growled. 

She lifted her head higher. “Your contributions to the Speedwagon Foundation have been appreciated over the years, Jotaro. That’s why you’re all still breathing. I’ll even let you have the Valkyrie. I’ll have a hell of a time explaining its absence to the White House, but they won’t matter for long. All I ask is that you hand over the feather that was stolen from our organization.” 

Marina tensed up. “What do you even want with the feather?” 

“My youth was restored using a modified strand of Santana’s DNA. He’s what we classify as a higher being. The ability to heal wounds, drink life force, and cease the aging process are all incredibly valuable. The one problem is the Pillar Men’s inability to tolerate sunlight. I’m currently counteracting that with the Hamon blood Joseph donated. The Hamon and Pillar Man DNA are fighting inside my body as we speak. It’s keeping me from fully transforming, and thus sunlight cannot kill me. This solution is temporary, however. Eventually Joseph’s blood will completely eradicate Santana’s DNA. That will reduce me to my normal human state. That’s why I need the feather. That black feather belonged to the wing of Kars: The Pillar Man who conquered the sun. If I extract DNA from it, I can solve the puzzle. I’ll be unstoppable.” She spoke calmly, like a professor giving a lecture on a subject she’d spoken on hundreds of times. 

Josuke grimaced. “Like we’d hand you the key to immortality, Blondie. It looks like this can only go one way. We’re gonna stop you right here. Right now.” 

Blondie’s eyes turned maroon as she glared down at the humans. “I’m sentimental. That, and all of you qualify for Eden. I’ll admit it, I’m hesitant to kill you. However, I won’t let you get in my way. I’m asking you as a former ally, please don’t make me kill you all.” 

Jotaro had heard enough. Veins were bulging in his arms as he clenched his fists. Star Platinum was ready to attack. He’d have to kill Blondie instantly. She had some terrifying unknown ability. Despite that, he was stronger. 

Blondie rolled her eyes. “I even asked nicely. Alright, alright. I suppose I’ll start with you then, Kujo. Maybe your death will set the rest of them in line.” 

The woman’s Stand emerged from her body silently. As it hovered above her head and glared down at the crew, each member felt an undeniable termour of fear. The Stand had a presence unlike anything Shizuka had ever experienced. It was mostly black in color, wearing a long plague doctor’s mask. The beak drooped down low, and the eyes were vacant voids of orange energy. It wore a dark top hat that seemed to connect to the mask. From the neck down it was submerged in a dark cloak, though an expensive three-piece suit could be seen underneath from certain angles. The Stand carried a long sceptor with an orange crystal on top. The way the Stand looked down at the humans was intimidating. Its limbs seemed too long. It’s neck tilted in an unnatural way as its glowing orange eyes stared down at the escapees. 

Jotaro couldn’t deny it. This Stand was dangerous. It triggered similar sensations of fear and panic that The World did all those years ago. Being in its presence was unnerving. Perhaps its horror was exemplified by Blondie’s inhuman qualities. She had the same type of charisma as Dio. Her aura crept through one’s defenses, rendering them unnerved and anxious of what would come next. For the first time in quite a while, Jotaro Kujo was truly intimidated by the mere sight of an enemy. 

Blondie tilted her head with the Stand curiously. “What’s wrong, Kujo? Weren’t you about to stop time? Go on. I’m sure it will work.” She spoke with such confidence that Jotaro knew for a fact it wouldn’t work. Somehow, she knew she’d survive a direct attack from Star Platinum. The tall woman looked up at her Stand, smirking. “Oh, I see. You’re frightened. Any rational person would be. Allow me to introduce you. This is Rapture.” 

The name seemed fitting, Shizuka had to admit that. She couldn’t help but stare at the long dark Stand in fascination. Rapture… The end of days. Would such a Stand be able to defeat Star Platinum’s World? 

“I see no reason to keep secrets, so I’ll tell you what it does. Rapture has a simple ability. A vision that aligns with my own. Change. ” She purred. “It can change things. And with it, I’ll change the world.” 

Change? That was a very open-ended description. How had the ability to “change” kill Wagner instantly? Unless… 

“Did you change Wagner’s insides?” Shizuka called out from behind the adults. 

Blondie’s brow raised. She’d nearly forgotten about the child. “Shizuka. I didn’t see you there behind everyone. Step closer.” 

Everyone looked at the young girl with caution. She took a deep breath, walking up onto the ramp next to Jotaro. Blondie smiled fondly. “Go ahead, dear. Ask your question again. Don’t be shy.” 

Shizuka rolled her thumbs against her index fingers nervously as she looked up at the inhuman woman. “You changed Wagner’s insides, right? That’s how he died?” 

Blondie clapped her hands gently. “That’s exactly right. I turned his brain tissue into paste. Humans can’t last long without their brain.” 

“You have to be touching someone to do that.” The little girl pointed at Blondie. 

The woman seemed shocked. “Hmm? What makes you say that?” 

“You killed him the minute he put his arm around you. And if you could do it from far away, you wouldn’t have weapons aimed our way. You need to touch people!” She shouted. 

Her words bounced off the concrete floor and reverbed against the metal dome surrounding the bay. Blondie just smiled. 

“Yes, I can’t change organic matter without physical contact. Life energy makes such things very tricky. I would criticize your misplaced confidence though, little girl. Just because I can’t change your body from a distance doesn’t mean I can’t kill you.” 

Rapture’s scepter began to vibrate. The orange stone at the top glowed beautifully. The floor of the Valkyrie shifted for a moment causing Blondie to sink right through. She was gone! She sank right through the ship and into the concrete slab beneath it. Everyone was on high alert. With their Stands drawn, they looked around rapidly for any sign of her. There was an odd rippling sound followed by Blondie emerging behind Marina. She finished off her glass of wine, breathing down the girl’s neck. 

“Mind if I take that feather?” She smirked. 

Everyone jumped away from Blondie and scattered for an advantageous spot to defend themselves. Things weren’t looking good. She must have been changing the physical nature of the floor and traveling through it. She could go anywhere. And with a single touch she could kill any of them. It began to dawn on everyone that they’d be better off fighting Santana. Blondie’s Rapture was too strong. 

“Oh calm down, everyone.” She sighed, pointing at her empty glass. The oxygen within the cup slowly transformed into more red wine. She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip, letting out a satisfied sigh when she was finished. “Nobody has to get hurt. Just give me the feather and be on your way.” 

Josuke gritted his teeth. “She’s messing with us. Refilling her damn drink in the middle of a fight?”

“It’s because she doesn’t see any of us as a threat.” Marina panted, sweat forming on her face.

Joseph came around the side of the Valkyrie. “Why isn’t anybody getting in the damn ship? We’ve got to- Oh SHIT! She’s here!? Why didn’t anyone tell me?” 

Blondie rested a hand on her hip. “Hello, Joseph.” She stepped closer, hips swaying as she sipped her drink. “I told you I’d ask you one more time to join the right side. What do you say?” She offered dryly, already knowing the answer. 

Joseph clenched his fists. “You’ve turned your back on Speedwagon, Dolly! He’d be ashamed of your twisted ideals.” 

“Robert was a sweetheart with one weakness: Joestars. He could have been so much more if he didn’t devote so much of his life to your family. He could never see the big picture.” 

“Is that how you view us then? Leeches who waste the foundation’s time?” 

Her eyes darkened. “I’m beginning to. And if your little friend doesn’t hand over that feather, we’re all going to witness something very upsetting. I’ll give you ‘till the count of three.” 

Everyone stood still as she said this. Marina didn’t seem to budge. She couldn’t just hand it over. She didn’t understand much of what was going on, but she understood that Blondie planned on using the feather to become immortal. She couldn’t let that happen. 

“One.” Blondie warned. 

Nobody did anything. 

Two.” 

Once again, Marina didn’t budge. 

“I suppose one of you has to die then. That usually motivates a crowd.” She sank into the floor again. 

Jotaro took charge. “Everyone stay calm!” Star Platinum manifested, staring at the floor. “I’ll find her.” 

Josuke knew what was about to happen. Blondie wanted to make an example of whoever she targeted. Jotaro was the mouthy powerful one. The group would be lost without him. Sure, Joseph could take on a leadership role, but even he couldn’t compete with the raw power of Star Platinum. She was going to kill Jotaro. He could just feel it. Anticipating this, he sprinted toward Jotaro as fast as he could. 

The biologist’s eyes widened when Josuke ran toward him. Then, he heard something beneath him. Rapture rose from the ground and touched Jotaro’s arm. His body began to tremble. 

Crazy Diamond!” Josuke screamed, punching Jotaro repeatedly in the stomach and reversing whatever effect Rapture had just caused. 

Blondie glared up at the annoying sergeant. He was getting in the way. She’d planned on killing the leader, but the healer would also work. Right when Josuke shoved Jotaro away, Blondie grabbed him by the throat. 

“Shh, shh, shh.” She purred, using her free hand to place her index finger over his lips. “You need to relax. It’s over.” 

The blood in Josuke’s body began to literally boil. He’d never felt a pain quite like it. His vision began to fade, and boils grew all over his skin. Blood vessels in his body started to burst. His eyes were flooded with red, and then went completely black. Shizuka screamed, running toward Blondie with Ultra Violet drawn. Jotaro reached out for her.

“Shizuka, don’t touch her!” He ordered. 

She was beyond listening to such a thing. Her hand was about to touch Blondie when something odd happened. Everyone in the room began to feel complete and utter hopelessness. This would normally make sense, seeing the current situation. However, it felt artificial. That’s when Shizuka noticed Blondie loosen her grip on Josuke’s neck. She stared at him with shock, looking down at herself. 

“What are you doing?!” She demanded, feeling deep down that all of her efforts were futile. How could that be? She believed in her mission. So where was this misplaced anxiety coming from?

That’s when it hit Shizuka. She recognized this power. And at that moment, Pepsi struck Blondie in the face with their brass knuckles. It wasn’t their body that touched her, so they were spared from the effects of Rapture. There was a loud crash as Blondie’s glass of wine shattered against the concrete. She stumbled back, cupping her face in her hands as it bled. 

“Agh, fuck! What in the hell?” She questioned, her eyes darting around to find whoever just hit her. 

Josuke fell to the ground, motionless as he rested face-first onto the concrete. His skin was still bubbling, and he didn’t seem to be reacting to the events. Shizuka looked at Pepsi with complete admiration. 

“You didn’t leave us.” She said warmly. 

Pepsi had literally no idea how one should react to such a statement. Of course they didn’t leave, they were right there. Still, they were sure Shirlie would handle the emotions later. In the meantime, they looked to their twin. “Is he alive?” 

Pa-Pa-Power reached down and touched Josuke. “He’s miserable. But that means he’s alive.” Shirlie said firmly. “We’ve gotta go!” 

Joseph had no idea who these two were, but he was digging the energy. “You got it! Get him into the ship!” 

Shirlie looked over to Blondie for a moment. Power extended his hand, putting all the energy he had into damaging the woman’s emotional state. He dug for every ounce of trauma, pain, suffering, and anguish and forced her to experience it all at once. Tears welled up in Blondie’s dangerous eyes. 

“F-Fire!” She shouted, pointing to the Valkyrie. 

The armed guards watching from afar readied their cannons. “ Ready!” The leader barked. 

“Ready!” The group responded. 

Their weapons never fired, though. Each of the futuristic cannons began to surge with an odd static charge. Then, they burst, sending dangerous chemicals into the wielder’s faces. The men and women began to scream in pain. This didn’t stop a single guard from trying to fire their own weapons, however. They all fell like sacks of potatoes with chemical burns, and deep psychological fears of energy weapons that would likely never fully heal. 

Shizuka was taken aback by this turn of events. That’s when she noticed a figure emerging from behind the fallen soldiers. It was Agent Ripley. She’d tampered with all of the weapons using her Stand. The two exchanged a small smile. Ripley then took aim with her own cannon, firing it directly at Blondie. Rapture wasn’t anticipating this high-speed attack from behind. The blast connected directly with Blondie’s body, sending her flying across the bay. Her body crashed into an aircraft, hitting it right on the front wheel. The wheel gave out, causing the large ship to collapse onto her body. She was crushed underneath it. 

This was their chance. Jotaro and Shirlie lifted Josuke into the Valkyrie’s passenger hatch. Marina and Joseph got into the cockpit, getting ready for launch. Shizuka waited for Ripley to arrive. The woman was panting as she caught up with the group. 

“I couldn’t just sit back and let Mr. Speedwagon’s legacy be tarnished. And I like the world, too. It’d be nice if she didn’t destroy it.” Ripley smirked. 

Shizuka grabbed her by the hand, looking over to Pepsi. “C’mon!” 

She dragged Ripley up the ramp and into the Valkyrie with Pepsi close behind. Everyone was accounted for, and Joseph had just figured how to take off. With Marina’s assistance, he thrust the ship forward and out of the docking bay. They were home free. For the time being, they’d escaped the Rapture. 



Chapter Text

The Valkyrie tore through the sky at an unbelievable speed. Marina had never flown anything so nice in her life. Joseph hadn’t flown anything at all since the eighties. (It should be noted that the aforementioned occasion in the eighties was crash landing a commercial airline in the ocean, but that’s neither here nor there.) The initial adrenaline rush of escaping such a grim situation wore off about fifteen minutes ago. Now, the crew was somber and quiet. Shizuka held Josuke’s sizzling body against her, resting her face in his hair. He seemed to be cooling down slowly, and he hadn’t died yet. That had to be a plus. 

Pa-Pa-Power was sitting beside Josuke with a sad expression. He was holding the man’s hand, rubbing it slowly as he frowned. Shirlie sat beside Power, resting against him as she attempted to get some sleep. Jotaro was sitting on the far side of the room tapping his foot anxiously. He placed a cigarette in his mouth, lighting it with a snap of Star Platinum’s fingers. No one on board but Joseph knew what was going through his head. Blondie… She felt like Dio. She resembled him in so many ways. Her aura, her power, her intimidation, all of it reminded him of the long-dead vampire. He wasn’t strong enough to beat her. If he had tried, he might have died. His mind was conjuring up scenarios where he might stand a better chance. He couldn’t touch her, that much was obvious. As morbidly ironic as it was, he’d likely have to throw knives in frozen time. If she knew they were coming she could just get rid of them. He needed to assassinate her. How does one kill one of the most important people on Earth? It seemed he was back to the drawing board. 

Joseph walked into the room and stretched his arms. “How’s everyone holding up?” He asked, to little response. 

Shizuka just looked up at him with sad eyes. “She tried to kill Josuke, Dad.” She mumbled into her brother’s hair. 

Joseph rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “She did, sweetheart. But it didn’t work. Your brother’s gonna be fine. I promise.” He flashed her a winning smile, turning to Jotaro. He leaned in close, speaking softly. “Come to the cockpit.” 

Jotaro put out his cigarette and adjusted his hat. After a moment he stood up, walking out of the room. The now youthful man spent another minute or so consoling his daughter before exiting as well. He closed the door to the cockpit isolating himself, Jotaro, and Marina from the rest of the crew. Once they were alone, he let out a sigh. 

“Good grief, this day keeps getting worse.” The young man rubbed the bridge of his nose. 

Jotaro grunted. 

“Oh, c’mon now Jotaro. Don’t go quiet on me. We need to come up with a plan.” 

Marina scoffed, taking her headset off and looking over toward the men. “ Plan? We could try flying this thing into her and it still wouldn’t work. What kind of plan are we talking about?” 

“Well if we stop talking about how we don’t have a plan, maybe we’d have time to plan the plan, don’tcha think lady?” Joseph groaned. 

Lady?” Marina echoed in a sharp tone. “I know you’re from a different time, but I’m not above slapping a geezer.” 

Quiet.” Jotaro hissed at both of them. 

The cockpit was silent for nearly thirty seconds. Finally, the large man cupped his face in his hands and groaned. “This isn’t the same as before, Jiji.” He whined, sounding truly exhausted. 

Joseph knew exactly what his grandson meant. The last time they faced impossible odds Jotaro was a young man with no responsibilities and one goal. Things were different now. He rested a hand on his kin’s shoulder empathetically. “I’m worried about it too. Maybe we’re thinking about this the wrong way. Let’s be defensive first. What would Blondie do to hurt us? To draw us out of the woodwork and get the feather?” 

“Target our family.” Jotaro answered calmly. 

“Then we need to get our family to safety.” Joseph agreed. 

“Not to be that gal, but isn’t your son dying in the back? We need to get him to a hospital before we do anything else.” Marina cut in.

“Jiji, is there a doctor that can help with supernatural wounds besides the foundation staff?” 

Joseph rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “There’s just one. Dr. Piaf, but she’s in Paris.” 

“And Blondie won’t expect us there?” Marina questioned. 

“Blondie could be anywhere in a matter of hours. We just need to hope we pick the place she isn’t.” Jotaro mumbled. 

“What about your family? It’s reasonable to fear for them.” Joseph asked. 

“Josuke’s dying. He comes first.” 

Marina shrugged. “You know how fast this thing flies? We could make two stops.” 

“Splitting up? It’s risky.” Joseph frowned. 

“You and Marina can get to Dr. Piaf. I’ll take Shizuka to Gainesville. It’ll take a little time to explain this to Maura. I need to decide how much I’m even telling her. When you’ve dropped Joseph off, Marina can fly back and get us.” 

“It could work.” The young blonde shrugged. “Better than either alternative.” 

“I don’t like it, but it seems like our only choice. Set course for Gainesville, Florida.” Joseph ordered. 

 

Shizuka had fallen asleep with Josuke in her arms. The events of the day were just too much. She couldn’t manage to stay awake now that they had a bit of downtime. She wasn’t resting, though. A familiar song began to play in her subconscious as she drifted in a blue void. Her eyes fluttered open, but she wasn’t in the Valkyrie. She was in that dream realm once more. She wasn’t confused or eager this time, she was just tired. The lovely voice from before started to echo off the nonexistent walls of whatever place she was drifting. 

And the seasons… They go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time.

Her body felt light as a feather. She was being pulled through reality and into the same projected state from before. Her mind left her body, and she was sent through time once more. 

We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came. 

There was a bright light as white noise droned in her ears. The area around her was rapidly shifting to reveal something long past. 

And go round and round and round in the circle game… 

Her surroundings stableized moments later. She was standing in some big city late at night. The sound of distant conversations and vehicles flooded the streets as she got a bearing on her surroundings. The buildings looked just a little different than she was used to. Once again, she couldn’t move, she could only watch as the world shifted around her. A Japanese woman walked down the sidewalk toward Shizuka. She was writing notes haphazardly in her binder as she went along. 

The air changed around them quite suddenly. It was noticeable enough that the woman looked up from her notes and raised a brow. A shadowy figure stepped out of a nearby alley and looked at the woman. He licked his lips, walking toward her. He wasn’t some drunken low-life. His clothing and stature displayed that he was a man of good fortune. His blond hair fell to his shoulders, and his left ear had three distinctive moles trailing up in a line. It took a moment for the woman to notice him. When she did, her body froze completely. Her eyes widened, and she dropped her notes. 

The man confidently strutted up to her, lifting her chin with his right hand, resting his left on her hip. “Hello.” He said in a deep, seductive purr. 

The woman didn’t seem to be fighting at all. Was it possibly that she couldn’t?  She just stared up at him in horror. 

“What’s your name, woman?” He asked, his voice smooth as butter. It was soothing to the ears, as much as Shizuka hated to admit it. 

“Tsuru.” She said softly. 

“Tsuru? A beautiful name for a beautiful woman. Tell me, Tsuru.” His left hand slid up her body, unbuttoning the top button of her blouse and sinking in. “What’s such a beautiful woman doing alone this late at night?” 

His fingers sank into her skin effortlessly, just like Santana’s. The veins in her body bulged, and the man’s fingers pulsated as they absorbed her blood. She didn’t scream, or cry, or even sniffle. She stared at him with utter fascination. 

“You’re a higher being.” She said calmly, raising a hand to his face and cupping his cheek. 

Now, he was never one to turn down being referred to as a higher being. He did have to admit this was a strange time for such a thing to happen. Was it an attempt at flattery to save her life? He raised a brow, smiling. “Yes, I am.” 

“P-please.” She begged. “Let me run an experiment on your brain tissue.” 

This was certainly an unexpected turn of events. His grip loosened on the woman. “My brain tissue?” 

“I’m a world-renowned biologist specializing in neurology and unlocking the potential of the human mind!” She explained quickly. “I’ve always dreamed of working with a living slab of human brain! But it dies the moment you poke it! Yours won’t, though.” 

The towering man was amused. “In my time, women like you would have their spirits broken young. Very few got to actually practice science.” 

She wasn’t phased. Not in the slightest. The fear had left her face a long time ago, being replaced by passion and curiosity. “You’re holding all the power here. You could kill me right now. Or you could kill me later. Or, maybe, you could keep me. And I could be useful.” 

He loved being told that he held all the power. Of course, he already knew that. It was just nice to hear a human admit his superiority. He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Tsuru.” He said thoughtfully. “I’ll keep you. As long as you find a way to be useful.” 

Shizuka watched as Dio lead Tsuru away. The woman’s notes and purse were still lying on the sidewalk. She wouldn’t be needing them anymore.

 The scene shifted to a dark room. The only lighting was provided by a few candles. Tsuru’s hair had grown longer than before, causing Shizuka to assume a decent amount of time had passed. The woman was working with tools Shizuka didn’t understand. There was a strange mass of bloody tissue on the table in front of her. The scientist poked and prodded at it as she conducted her research. When she pinched the brain with two tools in a specific way, large tendrils shot outward. She pulled away in shock, but a smile crept onto her face. 

The appendages seemed to be attempting to reach her. They couldn’t move much further than their original lunge, but it was fascinating nonetheless. She quickly grabbed one of her test mice, placing it on the examination table next to the flesh. She poked it again, and the tendrils lunged directly for the mouse. Tsusu watched in amazement as the flesh surged through the mouse’s body, eventually reaching the brain. The entire chunk of brain slowly crawled over to the mouse, sinking into the body and becoming one with it. The mouse didn’t move. It didn’t blink. It didn’t do anything. 

Tsuru’s mouth practically watered at how delicious this discovery was. If her theory was correct, it would be absolutely game-changing for her master. She grabbed the mouse and rushed out of the room. She ran through the mansion and finally arrived at Dio’s room. She knocked on the door eagerly. 

“Lord Dio!” She called out to no response. She pushed the door open. 

Dio had just finished sucking a victim dry (in more ways than one.) He cast the man aside, the lifeless body landing in a small pile beside the bed. Tsuru looked down respectfully. 

“Sorry, are you busy?” She asked. 

“Never too busy for my Tsuru. Come in. Now.” He ordered. 

Tsuru had learned how to deal with Dio’s temperament and ego at this point. She had to constantly suck up to him, occasionally have sex with him, and conduct interesting research. That was her place in the world now. She didn’t mind. It was far more interesting than what she had before. She rushed over to the bed, presenting him with the mouse. 

“Lord Dio, I think I finally made the discovery that will justify sparing my life.” 

The vampire chuckled. “Oh? Do tell.” 

“It’s just a theory, but I’m feeling very good about my chances. Lord Dio, command this mouse to flip.” 

Dio looked at her with skepticism. He’d never known Tsuru to be the joking type, so he knew she was serious. Still, the very idea was ludicrous. Sure, he could command any human, but humans feared him. Mice were idiotic. They didn’t know how dangerous he was. He decided to humor her anyway. 

“Mouse. Flip.” He ordered. 

Nothing happened. 

“No, my Lord. With your mind. Use your brain.” She insisted. 

Dio was frustrated, but decided to give it another shot. After a moment, the mouse twitched. Then, it stood up on two legs for a moment and jumped backwards. It didn’t stick the landing, but it was clear as day that the mouse attempted to flip. Dio’s eyes were wide as he stared at the creature. He quickly grabbed it from Tsusu’s hands, ordering it to do small things like blinking out of sync, and opening its mouth. 

Tsuru. ” He whispered. “I have complete control over this creature. Even down to its wiggling toes. What did you do?” 

“It’s your brain, Lord Dio. Just like it took over the body of Jonathan Joestar, it can take over other creatures. The only difference is that your soul is here, in this body. When a piece of your brain is attacked, it attempts to burrow into and take over the closest living thing. Like this mouse.” 

“You’re saying that chunks of my brain can control people completely and unconditionally?” 

“You could make a preacher sin, my Lord.” She smiled. 

Dio held the mouse up high, inspecting it closely. Gone were the days of relying on charisma, fear, and strength. He had obtained the ability to control life itself. Would his powers just keep growing? Did he have a limit? Or would he eventually take over the world? He grabbed Tsuru by the collar and shoved her into bed. From there, everything seemed to turn foggy.

 

Shizuka woke with a start. She looked around in confusion for a moment before remembering where she was. The Valkyrie. Right. They were on the run. Her mind drifted to the strange visions from the past. Why did she keep seeing and hearing about this Dio? Where did that little girl from the thirties fit into it all? She groaned, stretching her legs.

 Jotaro walked into the room and cleared his throat. 

“We’re splitting up. Joseph and Marina will take Josuke to a special doctor in Paris. Shizuka and I are going to my home in Gainesville to get my family.” He announced.

Ripley looked up at him curiously. “What about us then?” She asked. 

Pepsi, Shirlie, and Ripley were kind of wild cards. They were hardly involved in the conflict, and had all three joined the team that very day. To be honest, Jotaro had nearly forgotten about them while planning. 

“You can go with whoever you want.”

“I’ll go with Marina.” Ripley shrugged. 

“Pa-Pa-Power doesn’t wanna leave Josuke’s side. And Pepsi won’t leave mine, so we’ll go too. We’re leaving the country, Peppy!” Shirlie cheered. 

Pepsi just shrugged, having no clear opinion on the matter.

“We’re going to Gainesville?” Shizuka asked Jotaro softly. 

He nodded. “Blondie probably plans to target our families. I need to convince Maura and Jolyne to go on a vacation or something.” 

“What about Holy and Mom?” 

“The old man’s arranging for them to be taken care of. Roses should be taking your Mom to pick up mine any minute.” Jotaro assured her. 

“Our old butler?” Shizuka asked.

“Yes. He’s actually good for a hell of a lot more than grabbing tea. Trust me.”

“What about your dad? Is he going too?”

Jotaro actually smirked. “And Sadao too, I suppose. I doubt Blondie would think to use him against me, though.” 

“We’re almost at Gainesville! Whoever’s going better get ready to get!” Joseph called out from the cockpit. 

Shizuka wanted to stay with her father and brother, but something told her that she needed to be with Jotaro. He wouldn’t have taken her if he didn’t need it. Besides, it would be reckless to send Jotaro alone in their current situation. Safety is always found in numbers. At least she’d get to see Jolyne again. It’d been nearly a year since she’d gone to the Kujo residence. 

 

Jotaro and Shizuka walked up to the pleasant suburban home with caution. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. The man took a moment to prepare himself before opening the door and walking inside. Maura was sitting on the couch reading when they walked in. Her eyes darted up in shock. The panic she experienced at the sight of a potential intruder quickly shifted to rage at her husband. 

“You son of a bitch.” She slammed her book down on the coffee table and stood up. “You bastard. You emotionally shut off, isolated, distant, mentally abusive prick! You-” She stopped her verbal assault when she noticed Shizuka standing hesitantly behind the giant man. 

The young girl was staring in shock. She had absolutely no idea that Jotaro and Maura were having such serious issues. He could only hide it for so long. Now the cat was out of the bag. Maura took a moment to stammer as she reconsidered her next words. 

“Uhm, S-Shizuka. Shizuka, honey. Hello! It’s such a surprise!” She went around Jotaro to bring the girl into a tight hug. “I didn’t realize you were coming. Are your Mom and Dad in town?” 

“No, just me.” She mumbled awkwardly. 

Maura pulled away and fixed her hair. She was clearly flustered by melting down like that in front of her niece. That was exactly what Jotaro anticipated when he brought her along. He didn’t have time to do this the right way. He just needed to get his family to safety. 

“Maura, we need to talk.” He said in a serious tone. 

“Talk?” She laughed in disbelief. “Well… Yeah. Of course. God, it’s just weird to be on the other end of this. Now you’re the one who wants to talk.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose in frustration. “And I’m supposed to just sit here and wait for you to be ready. Is that it?” 

He stiffened up. He’d never been good at this kind of confrontation. After about ten seconds it became painfully obvious that Jotaro wasn’t going to respond. Maura took a deep breath. 

“Shizuka, dear, can you leave my husband and I in private for a bit? We need to talk, apparently.” 

She nodded sheepishly, walking over to the staircase and heading up. Anything to get out of that situation. Once they were alone, Jotaro tried to speak. 

“I can explain.” 

“Oh that’s rich. I know you can explain. I just don’t believe you will. What was it this time? What’s your excuse? Another seminar? Another emergency with your mother? More late nights at your cushy professor job? I called your aide! He says he’s been teaching most of your classes for over a month! Just be honest with me for one goddamn second and tell me where you’ve been!” She demanded, stomping her foot. 

He looked down silently as she went off. “A motel, hiding from you. Then, the Netherlands. Then, Japan. Then, Washington D.C.” He sighed. “And here. That’s it.” 

“That’s it!? I have so many more questions now!” 

“Shizuka ran away from home. The old man couldn’t keep up with her, so I tracked her flights.” 

“That little angel took three flights without permission!? Why is she here now?” 

“It’s complicated. I know that there are things about this you don’t understand, but I need you to listen.” 

“No.” She said bitterly. “I’m done with not understanding. That excuse was fine for the first year of our marriage. But I’m sick of it. I thought you’d eventually open up! I thought that if I just gave you space you’d eventually tell me whatever’s been haunting you all this time. But it’s never enough! And you take and take and take! If I give you an inch, you take a mile! I say go outside to clear your head, and you leave for a week! So… I did what you asked.” She wiped underneath her eyes for a moment before grabbing a folder from underneath some books on the coffee table. She shoved it against his chest. “I filled out the divorce papers. If you’re really done, I can’t stop you. I can’t make you be a husband. And as hard as it is to accept, I can’t make you be a father. You helped give Jolyne life, but you’ve never been there for her. If you’re not in, and I mean one-hundred percent in, then leave. I don’t want our daughter to see you.” 

Jotato held the divorce papers against his chest. His mind and body were numb. Her words cut him like knives, but they were all true. He wanted to reach out and embrace her. He wanted to kiss her and say he’d change. He wanted to grovel and cry, begging for forgiveness and promising to find a way to take it all back. That wasn’t Jotaro Kujo, though. Maybe it’s the man Maura wanted, but it wasn’t him. It was a torturous existence. He knew he could do these things. It was as simple as moving his mouth and making a few sounds. Despite that, he couldn’t. He couldn’t do it, and it killed him. The best he could manage was,

“We’re in danger.” 

Maura raised a brow. “What are you talking about? My mother was right, wasn’t she? Are you seriously mixed up in some kind of mafia?” 

“What?” He questioned. The accusation caught him off guard. “No. Why does your mother think that?” 

“Can you blame her? You come from money, but never talk about where it came from. You disappear for weeks at a time, you obviously have PTSD, and you think someone’s always out to get you. What are we supposed to think?” 

“I should have never had a family.” He admitted. 

As much as it hurt Maura to hear those words, she had no counter-argument. “Maybe not…” She looked down with tears in her eyes. “But, once in a blue moon, you give me some glimmer of hope. You make me think that there’s a husband in there. Why can’t you let him out?” 

“You don’t want to see the real me.” He looked away. “I told you that on our first date, didn’t I?” 

“I thought you had anger management issues or something! I was willing to look past that! What could be so awful that you can’t tell your wife? You can’t be that bad. Are you a serial killer or something?” 

“No.” He said honestly. “No. I’m not. I’m not a criminal. That’s not it.” 

“Then what the hell is it? Just fucking tell me, Jotaro. Tell me and we can fix this. Don’t you want that!?”

“Yes. I want it more than anything. You don’t understand. I just want to be here with you and Jolyne. I want to fire up the grill and drink a beer. I want to threaten any guy who talks to our daughter and laugh with you when they’re out of earshot. I want to be your partner. I want… I want...” He grabbed her hands. “Maura, if you don’t believe anything else I say for the rest of my life, believe this.” He looked into her eyes. “I want to be here.” 

She looked down, shaking her hands free and rubbing them on her shirt like they were dirtied by the touch. “Don’t.” She whispered. “You don’t get to do that.” She cleared her throat, letting out a quick sob. “Get out.” She wiped her eyes, clearing her throat again. “Out. Go on.” 

“Maura.” He frowned. 

“Jotaro, I mean it. I want you gone. You’ve had your chance. Too many chances! I just gave you another, and you shit all over it. And the worst part is I’d still take you back if you just told me! I might never get over you! Not for as long as I live. How fucking pathetic is that? I’m not some hopeless woman settling for all she can get. I could get another man! A better man! One that wanted me! So why have I waited for you for almost twenty years? What’s wrong with me!?” 

He was paralyzed by that. “You.” He took a moment to think. “You think it’s something that’s wrong with you?” 

“Yes! There has to be someone you’re telling this stuff. And it’s not me. It’s got to be because you don’t trust me with it, right? If it has you this worried, shouldn’t I get to know? If I’m in danger, don’t I get to know!? ” 

The front door opened, startling both of them. Jolyne walked into the room casually, holding an apple to her lips. “Hey Mom, I’m home. Sorry I’m late, I was-” Her eyes widened when she saw her father. She bit into the apple loudly, staring into his eyes. There was a terrible silence for about ten seconds. Ten, long seconds passed. Her hand trembled for a moment before it crushed the apple completely. Juices flew everywhere, and the crumbled remains fell from her hand onto the floor. It was just a mushy paste. 

“I thought we agreed you wouldn’t come back.” She said with her mouth full. 

“Jojo…” He frowned. 

DON’T.” She said in a shockingly loud voice, causing him to flinch. She spit the rest of the apple into her hand, wiping her mouth. She walked right up to him, looking him up and down. “Put out your hand.” She mumbled. 

Jotaro extended his hand, opening his palm. 

Jolyne placed the chewed up apple piece in his hand, smearing it around a bit before pulling away. Her eyes were piercing. If looks could kill, Jotaro was sure he’d be dead. Anyone could cut the room’s tension with a knife. After a moment she scoffed, spitting on his shoe. “I’ll be in my room. Tell me when he’s gone.” She mumbled, walking up the steps. 

When she was gone, Maura sniffled. “I don’t like seeing her like that.” She whispered. 

“Neither do I.” He looked down at the apple in his hand. “When did she get so… psychotic?” 

“I told you,” She hissed. “Our daughter is hanging out with dangerous people, Jotaro. This is what happens with single parenting. I don’t always have time to monitor her every move. I don’t know what to do.” 

Jotaro clenched his fists. “Okay. Okay…” He sighed. “What do you want me to do?” 

 

Jolyne kicked the door to her bedroom open, slamming it shut with a grunt. She leaned against the door, cupping her face and screaming into her hands. It took a moment to notice the little girl sitting on her bed. Her eyes widened. “Shizuka!?” She questioned. “What are you doing here?” 

Shizuka’s legs were kicking absentmindedly as she sat on the bed. “Your parents sent me upstairs so they could talk.” 

“Well where are your parents, kiddo?” 

She just shrugged. “Not here.” 

Jolyne thought for a moment. “Everything okay? You look a little… messy.” 

Shizuka was covered in dirt, dust, and some of Josuke’s blood. Her hair was a static mess, and her clothes were torn in several places. She didn’t even realize how rough she looked until Jolyne pointed it out. 

“Uhm.. I guess I’m messy, but I don’t have any of my stuff.” She pulled her legs up onto the bed, hugging them. All of her stuff was left on Marina’s private jet in D.C.. She had no clue when or if she’d ever get that back. 

Jolyne frowned. “Wanna use my shower?” 

Shizuka shrugged. “I dunno. I don’t have anything else to wear. 

“I’ve got old clothes. Just get in the shower, okay? I’ll be right back.” She ran her hand through Shizuka’s hair. “I like the dye, by the way.” 

Shizuka hopped off the bed and walked into Jolyne’s bathroom. It was attached to her bedroom. That was pretty cool. She was so exhausted physically and mentally. It felt like she was an outsider observing her own movements. She saw herself in the mirror. She really did look like shit. She threw her clothes off, figuring out with faucet was hot water before turning the shower on. 

She got into the shower and leaned her head against the wall, letting the warm water run down her body. Steam filled the room, going into her nostrils and clearing a bit of the stuffiness in her head. She took a deep breath, allowing the hot air to fill her lungs. Earlier that day she was being devoured by an ancient stone man who wanted to take over the world. Now? She was just standing in her cousin’s shower. 

Normal little girls didn’t have to worry about things like Stand attacks. She remembered being normal not too long ago. Then again, she’d always had her Stand ability. It set her aside from her peers. She never feared strangers, or worried about being kidnapped. She regularly picked fights with assholes on the streets who disrespect their elders. It seemed like she was never a regular kid after all. Did her Achtung Baby prevent her from having a real childhood? Would Ultra Violet, the evolution of her power, also get in the way of future happiness? 

Standing was becoming very tiring. She sat down, letting the water run down her back. She slowly laid back in the shower, closing her eyes and stretching her legs. The water poured onto her stomach and pooled in her closed legs, warming her body. It seemed like having a Stand kind of ruined Jotaro’s life. She couldn’t help but wonder if a similar fate awaited her. That is, if she even lived to tell the story of Blondie. 

That was something to worry about after her shower. 

 

Shizuka was sitting on Jolyne’s bed once more rubbing a towel all over her head. She was wearing an old “Black Parade” shirt that nearly reached her knees and hung from her body with countless wrinkles. Jolyne managed to dig up some old shorts and underwear from a crate of old clothes in the attic. Maura kept them in case they ever had another daughter. They might not have been her own clothes, but at least she was clean. 

Jolyne walked back in a few minutes later a smirked. “There you go. All good.” 

The two heard Maura yelling downstairs. It was clear that the discussion wasn’t going very well. Jolyne groaned. 

“It’s always like this. Dad sits there like a statue and Mom cries.” 

Shizuka felt pangs of grief in her chest. She’d grown up with such a wholesome, loving family. Joseph and Suzi would give her the world, and they were so in love. Even with what she’d learned about their marital struggles, she could still tell they needed one another. They wouldn’t let anything break them apart. She couldn’t imagine such yelling being the norm. She started to understand why Jolyne was irritated with her dad. 

“We don’t have to sit here and listen to this. C’mon.” Jolyne smiled, walking over to the window. 

She opened it up, revealing that the roof curved in such a way that one could easily slide down onto the roof of the front porch. From there it was an easy drop into the grass. Shizuka raised a brow. They were sneaking out? It seemed like Jotaro would be upset about that. She wanted to spend time with her cousin while she could, though. And besides, hadn’t she earned a little bit of fun after the day’s events? 

“You comfortable with this?” Jolyne asked with one leg out the window. 

Shizuka just nodded. 

“Heh, hell yeah. Watch, it’s just like this.” Jolyne demonstrated the art of sliding down the roof, hopping onto the next one.” 

Something odd was boiling in Shizuka’s chest. She really wanted to impress her cousin, and she knew exactly how. She’d never used her Stand to show off before, but there was a first time for everything. She braced herself before jumping right out the window. Ultra Violet’s legs appeared over her own, and she landed on the grass without issue. The impact was absorbed into Ultra Violet’s legs, leaving Shizuka perfectly fine. She stood up, smirking up at Jolyne. 

The older girl was staring with wide eyes. “Holy shit.” She said loudly, quickly covering her mouth and laughing. “I mean… What the heck? Shizuka, how did you do that?” 

“Coming down?” Shizuka asked playfully. 

“Not like that. Jeez. Kids these days, must be something in the milk.” Jolyne grumbled with a smile, carefully dropping herself down into the grass. “So, wanna see the cool parts of town?” 

“Uh huh!” 

Jolyne walked over to the motorcycle parked in the driveway. She picked up the single lonely helmet and looked over at Shizuka. “Here, champ.” She tossed it at Shizuka’s chest. “Wear this.” 

Shizuka caught the helmet, looking over it closely. It was sleek and black with some red designs around the edges. She placed it on, but it was nearly too big for her head. She looked a little silly, but she was safer than she’d be without it. 

“Alright, kid. I’ll take you somewhere cool.” Jolyne got on the bike, turning the ignition. Jotaro and Maura would know they’d left, but it didn’t matter. By then, they’d already be gone.

Shizuka climbed on as well, wrapping her arms around Jolyne from behind. They peeled out of the driveway and were down the road in seconds. 

 

Jolyne obviously wasn’t going to take a ten-year-old to one of her many shady hangouts. She wanted to get Shizuka out of the house, but she’d never put her in harm’s way. She decided to fall back on an old joint she hadn’t visited in over a year. The Game Place, a teen hangout downtown. She lead Shizuka inside, looking around. A nerdy looking girl with big thick rimmed glasses noticed their arrival. 

“Jolyne!?” She stood up from her seat. 

The nerdy girl ran up to them with excitement. “What’re you doing back at The Game Place? Finally done messing around with those assholes?” 

Jolyne shook her head, resting a hand on Shizuka’s shoulder. “Just needed a place to bring my little cousin.” 

The girl’s expression fell. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to call your friends assholes.” She mumbled, shifting left and right awkwardly. 

There was a painful silence. 

“Well it’s good to see you.” Jolyne smiled. 

She lit up once again. “You too! You should let me know if you’re free sometime. I haven’t seen you since May.” 

Jolyne didn’t hang around her old friends much anymore. They couldn’t keep up with her lifestyle. This particular friend, Linsdey, used to be one of her closest buds. They drifted more and more as she started to spend time with “dangerous” people after school. Eventually they stopped hanging out altogether. 

“Yeah, totally. Just let me know when you’re free.” 

Lindsey once again had nothing to say. After a moment she jumped a bit. “Oh! You should sign Sid’s card.” 

“Sid? Is it his birthday or something?” Jolyne asked, knowing fully well that Sid’s birthday wasn’t for three months. 

“No, he’s sick. They can’t seem to diagnose anything. He’s just… Not himself. He’s got chronic fatigue, night terrors, insomnia, and manic episodes.” 

“That’s horrible.” Jolyne mumbled, taking the card and writing something. 

“I was actually about to bring it to his place. Maybe you could walk with me?” Lindsey smiled. 

Jolyne shrugged awkwardly. “I mean, I promised little Shizuka that we’d play some games. I don’t wanna disappoint her.” 

“We can go.” Shizuka mumbled, refusing to be the cause of Lindsey’s sadness. “I’m not much of a gamer anyway.” 

“Then I guess we’re free.” Jolyne surrendered. “After you, Lindsey.” 

The scrawny blonde lead both girls outside The Game Place and down the sidewalk. It was a lovely evening. The sun was nearly set, the breeze was steady and cool, and the humidity wasn’t overly offensive. Jolyne and Lindsey spent most of the walk catching up after the past few months. Shizuka trailed behind, hoping this would make Jolyne consider opening up to her friend again. 

After a few minutes of walking, Shizuka’s keen eyes noticed something. They were being followed. She could see through her Ultra Violet, so she manifested the Stand and had it look behind the group. It was a little difficult to walk steadily forward while also seeing backward, but she managed. It was clear as day to Ultra Violet. A dark figure was following them from a long distance. The Stand’s enhanced eyes could barely make the face out. 

The sun was almost completely set, and Shizuka felt a growing danger. Could they be under attack? What if one of Red Eden’s members found them? She had to protect Jolyne and Lindsey. She faded from view, standing perfectly still. As the other two girls continued walking forward, the figure got closer. 

Ultra Violet’s eyes focused on the figure’s face. In retrospect, Shizuka really, really wished she hadn’t done that. That thing’s face- it’s face was horrifying. Its skin was white like paper and looked like it had an odd texture. Its eyes were massive bulges with no sockets and eyelids. Its mouth was carved into what appeared to be a permanent smile. Something seemed off… Sure, the sight was horrifying, but it was also strangely familiar. It was like she’d seen it before. How would she have forgotten that face, though? 

She was so startled by the figure’s face that she appeared once more. They made eye contact, causing it to bolt into the shadows. Shizuka considered giving chase. She’d have to deal with it one way or another. However, Jolyne turned her head and noticed her little cousin was just standing there. 

“Shizuka?” She raised a brow. “Everything alright?” 

The little girl calmed herself down, getting her breathing in check. “Yeah.” She said casually, turning back to face them. “Just saw a stray dog or something.” 

“Well we’re almost at Sid’s. C’mon.” 

They continued walking with no incident. In fact, she couldn’t even see the figure for the rest of the trip. They arrived at Sid’s house shortly, and Lindsey knocked on the door. Nobody answered. She frowned, knocking once again. 

Meanwhile, Ultra Violet was still keeping a close eye on their surroundings. It seemed so bizarre… Jolyne was bigger, cooler, and tougher, but she had no idea of the danger they were in. She was just a person. 

“Let’s just go in. I’m sure he’d be happy to see us.” Lindsey shrugged, opening the door and walking inside. 

She called out for Sid when they entered the house. Once the door was closed behind them, she raised a brow. All the lights were out, and there were no cars in the driveway. Jolyne looked around casually. “Looks like nobody’s home, Lindsey. Let’s just leave the card on the kitchen counter or something.” 

“No, we can put it in his bedroom. Besides, I really doubt he’s not home. He doesn’t go anywhere anymore.” The blonde walked up the staircase cautiously. 

Shizuka wanted to turn the lights on, or at least provide the halls with a glow. She decided against it, however, following the two closely. That figure could already be inside. It seemed to dwell within darkness very well. A shiver ran down her spine as she pictured its face. It couldn’t be human, that was certain. What kind of person would manifest a Stand with such a twisted face? Part of her didn’t want to find out. 

They arrived at Sid’s bedroom door. Lindsey knocked gently, calling out. 

“Sid? It’s Lindsey and Jolyne. Are you in there?” 

There was no response. Shizuka tensed up even more than before. She really didn’t like this one bit. After some silence, the door suddenly opened. Ultra Violet nearly knocked Sid’s lights out. Luckily, Shizuka realized it was him a moment before she attacked. She let out a deep huff, really psyching herself out. The Stand disappeared a moment later. Sid looked at them with confusion. 

“Linsdey? Jolyne? What’re you doing here?” He mumbled. 

It would be a disservice to say Sid looked like shit. He looked like shit’s shit. There were massive bags under his eyes, and his hair was a disheveled mess. He was slouching, and his body swayed unsteadily as he leaned against the doorframe. It seemed like he was struggling to stay awake. There was something else that especially disturbed Shizuka. His eyes seemed to be darting all over as if he was looking for something. He’d check over his shoulder, he’d check behind the girls, and he’d even check the ceiling. He was seriously paranoid. 

“We were worried about you.” Lindsey smiled, offering him the card.

Jolyne was worried? When did she even start hanging out with us again?” He mumbled, opening the card up. 

Jolyne looked away in irritation. The fact is, he was right. That only made her feel even worse. She abandoned her friends, and she was finally facing some backlash for it. Sid held the card with shaking hands. After a moment, he faked a smile. “T-Thanks, you two. I was actually gonna sleep though. Catch ya later…” 

Shizuka finally made herself speak. “Why do you have all the lights out?” She asked innocently. “It’s pretty dark.” 

Jolyne nodded in agreement. “Yeah, maybe we could get the lights-” 

NO.” Sid barked, standing upright. His face turned pale again, only illuminated by the ever-fading sunlight barely coming through a window on the far side of the hall. In a few minutes the place would be completely black. “I don’t want the lights on because I’m trying to go to sleep. Okay? Okay. Bye bye, see you soon.” He closed the bedroom door. 

Shizuka raised a brow. The situation just went from suspicious to downright alarming. Was Sid hiding something? What reason would he have to keep the place dark? The two older girls just stared at the door in shock for a moment. 

“Guess he wants to sleep.” Jolyne mumbled, putting her hands in her pockets. 

Lindsey looked much more upset. Her bottom lip quivered a bit as she looked down at the floor. “Guess so. I… Uh. I gotta go home. See you in another three months or something.” She turned and quickly went down the staircase. 

Jolyne and Shizuka were both taken aback by that. This was Lindsey’s mission to begin with. Why would she leave so suddenly? 

“What’s her problem?” Jolyne scoffed. “The guy wants to sleep.” 

Shizuka wanted to point out that Lindsey’s attitude probably soured because two of her friends seemed to be cutting themselves out of her life. She wanted to tell Jolyne to chase after her friend and apologize. She couldn’t seem to find it in herself to scold her older cousin, though. She thought the world of Jolyne, and the idea of correcting her just felt wrong. Jolyne was the cool one, the strong one, and the smart one. She’d idolized her for as long as she could remember. Why couldn’t the older girl see the problem? Was she willfully ignoring it? 

The front door closed as Lindsey left the house. This left the two girls standing awkwardly in Sid’s hallway without permission. 

“Guess we should go, huh? Sorry this didn’t go as I planned. It was at least a little interesting.” Jolyne mumbled, walking for the stairs. 

There was nothing else to do. After a moment Shizuka followed. They walked out of the house and back toward The Game Place. They didn’t really talk along the way. Jolyne was working through some stuff in her head and Shizuka was busy keeping an eye out for the figure that was following them. After a few minutes, Jolyne stopped abruptly. Shizuka nearly bumped into her since she was busy looking around. 

“What is it?” She asked the older girl. 

Jolyne’s eyes were nearly bulging out of her head as she stared across the street and into a yard. She tensed up completely, taking a step back out of pure instinct. “We should walk faster.” Is all she said, taking Shizuka’s hand and dragging her along the sidewalk. 

Now Shizuka was seriously confused. What did Jolyne see? How could Jolyne see? That must have meant whatever was tracking them wasn’t a Stand. That couldn’t be possible. A real person could have a face like that? 

“What’s going on?” She questioned as they jogged along. 

“Don’t worry about it. We just need to get to my bike, okay?” 

Shizuka was definitely worrying about it. Ultra Violet looked in the direction Jolyne had been staring. She nearly froze in place when she saw… Well, she didn’t know how to describe it. It looked humanoid, but there were some serious issues with it. Its limbs were too long, that was the simplest critique. Its fingers were stained red, and were oddly tipped at the ends. Its mouth was hanging open revealing how widely its jaw could extend. Not only that, but it seemed to be completely naked with no genitals to speak of. Its eyes were dark, empty holes. She could understand why Jolyne was running. 

It didn’t make any sense, though! Shizuka had seen a completely different entity earlier. Was there more than one creature stalking them? Her mind wandered to Wagner’s ability to control the dead. She knew better, though. Wagner was dead, killed by Blondie in the Valkyrie. It could be a similar type of Stand. Maybe she’d be better off fighting it instead of running. 

The streetlights began to turn on as the sun was nearly finished setting in the west of the sky. The lighting made the sky look green, and frogs could be heard in the summer evening. 

“Some of the guys I hang out with talked about this part of town. People have been seeing weird things. I guess I just got a little spooked, that’s all.” Jolyne tried to explain to Shizuka, but was mostly comforting herself. 

That changed things yet again. If it had been happening before, that meant it probably wasn’t an enemy Stand Blondie sent after them. Now she was even more confused. What in God’s name were they running from? They arrived at The Game Place about a minute later. Jolyne looked over her shoulder and saw nothing. She panted a bit, shaking her head. “Alright, kiddo. Let’s go in, huh?” 

“I thought we were going to your bike?” Shizuka mumbled. 

“Nah, I just got spooked, that’s all. I don’t feel like going home yet. Do you?” 

Jotaro was at home. Maybe he’d be able to protect them. Or maybe Shizuka could ask some of the kids inside about whatever was terrorizing the city of Gainesville at night. She shrugged, following Jolyne inside. 

They walked into the gaming room and saw that only a few kids were still there. Jolyne walked over to one of the couches and sat down. She needed a moment to think about whether what she saw was fact or fiction. Unsurprisingly, calling her father wasn’t even a thought in her head. What would her paper-pushing-college-professor-master’s-degree-wielding father even do to protect her? 

Shizuka walked over to one of the computers set up at a long desk. There was only one other person sitting there. He seemed to be fairly enamoured with some internet forum. Shizuka cleared her throat. 

“Uh, hey. Have you been seeing anything weird lately?” She mumbled, immediately realizing the wording was awkward and cursing herself internally. 

The teen turned to look at her. “What? Y’mean the ghosts? C’mon, kid. Don’t buy into that stuff.” 

Jolyne turned her head on the couch. “So you haven’t seen anything at night?” 

“Listen, that stuff will mess you up good. I tried to warn Sid, but he just buried himself in it.” 

“What stuff?” Shizuka questioned. 

“Creepypasta, duh.” He said as if it was completely rational, and also even a word to begin with. 

“We didn’t see a noodle.” Shizuka mumbled under her breath. 

The teen scoffed. “You seriously think you saw one of these things? Okay. I’ll bite, which was it?” 

“Well…” Shizuka trailed off nervously. 

That’s when Jolyne stood up. “A big naked dude with a huge jaw and claws.” She said with zero shame. She didn’t like the way he was talking to her little cousin, and was ready to take all the attempts at shaming. 

“Oh, you mean the rake.” He mumbled, turning back to the computer. After a quick search on google, they saw the very creature from before. 

“Holy hell.” Jolyne mumbled, stepping closer. “Brian, I’ve never heard of this stuff, and I saw that outside.” 

Brian rolled his eyes. “Sure, Jolyne. Maybe it’s the drugs then.” 

She gritted her teeth. “What was that?” 

“Nothing, nothing. Word’s gotten around is all I’m saying.” 

Shizuka frowned. She was getting the idea that Jolyne maybe wasn’t as cool as she thought. “I saw it too.” She mumbled. 

“You’re impressionable. That doesn’t mean the boogeyman is real.” 

“What about…” She trailed off nervously. “A man with a cut up smile? And big eyes? And pale skin?” 

Brian let out a small chuckle. “Jeff the Killer. I actually kind of like that one. He started off as a ghost or something, now people are coming up with all kinds of stories.” 

He typed Jeff the Killer into the search engine and clicked “search.” Dozens of pictures of the maniac showed up. There was no doubt in Shizuka’s mind. She definitely saw Jeff the Killer on their walk. What in god’s name was happening? She bit her lip. 

“Sid got too deep in this stuff. He’s freaked out. I think it’s just a bad genre overall. Who wants to be a part of a community that exists just to scare each other?” Brian shrugged. “Last time I talked to him he thought The Slenderman was after him.” 

Slenderman?” Jolyne mumbled. “Sounds pretty dumb.” 

“It’s a new one. Started in a contest on the ‘somethingawful” forums, I think. It’s about this tall thing in a suit that abducts kids. Totally freaked the fuck out of Sid. Poor guy.” 

“It it powerful?” Shizuka asked a little too seriously. 

“It can teleport, has weird tentacle things, and who knows what else. That’s fine though, because it’s not real. Why aren’t you two getting that?” 

“I’m going to Sid’s.” Shizuka said in a confident voice, turning and walking toward the door. 

“W-What!?” Jolyne questioned. “Shizuka, you can’t just go around town without me.” 

“Then c’mon.” She mumbled, leaving The Game Place. 

She knew as a matter of fact that Sid was being haunted by these beings. She didn’t want to drag Jolyne into it, but she didn’t have many options. He needed her help. She might be the only person capable of giving him what he needed. It was her responsibility. 

 

Jotaro and Maura were sitting on their living room couch. The husband was sitting with his hands folded, unsure of what to say. The wife cried her way through half a box of tissues. He hated seeing her in such a sorry state, but had absolutely no skills in the field of calming her down. She cleared her throat. 

“Do you understand where I’m coming from?” 

“Of course.” Jotaro answered quickly. “It makes sense.” 

“Then why can’t you meet me halfway? Or a quarter way? Hell, I’ve already come all the way, you’re just not opening the damn door.” She wiped her eyes. 

Jotaro had no idea what to say. He was screaming inside his own mind. It was like a prisoner begging to be let free. His emotions had been repressed, morphed, and snuffed out for his entire life. He didn’t have the emotional equipment needed to unpack everything wrong with himself. That’s when his eyes wandered away from his wife. It was just too painful. They were both lucky he did, though. His eyes happened to fixate on a strange face right outside the window. They widened, and his jaw tightened up. He didn’t know it, but he was looking right at Jeff. 

Maura noticed his change in posture and turned to look out the window. She let out a shriek, standing up and raising her hands for no particular reason. “What the fuck is that?” 

“You can see it?” Jotaro questioned, standing up as well.

“Well, yeah. It’s right there! Is that a costume or something? Oh my god, I think I can see a part of his skull.” She held her mouth like she was about to vomit. 

There was no way that thing was human. Could it be a Stand attack? Was he too slow in rescuing his family? 

“Shizuka!” He called up the steps, to no response. After a moment, he shouted even louder. “ SHIZUKA!” 

“Why are you calling for our ten-year-old niece?” 

Jeff seemed to be amused by how riled up the couple was. He lifted his hand to reveal a large butcher’s knife dripping with blood. He dragged it against the window, scratching the glass and filling the room with a terrible sound. Jotaro gritted his teeth, manifesting Star Platinum. He didn’t want to have to do this in his own home, but when did he ever get what he wanted?

“Maura, stay back.” He began to walk to the front door.

What? ” She demanded. “And what the hell are you going to do? I know you stay in good shape and all, but that thing’s got a knife!” 

“Go upstairs and get the gun. Find Shizuka and Jolyne. Keep them safe in our bedroom.” Was all he said, walking out the front door and slamming it shut. 

He stood outside his own home, staring at the being across the yard with pure disdain. His eyes scanned the lawn cautiously. “You’ve got a lot of nerve attacking me at my house.” He growled. 

Jeff tilted his head curiously. “Oh?” He asked in a deep, revolting voice. It sounded like he’d been smoking twenty packs a day his entire life. “And why’s that?” 

Jotaro appeared behind the man suddenly. His dangerous eyes showed absolutely no mercy. “Because now I’m angry.” He mumbled, fixing his hat. 

Star Platinum roared in pure rage, destroying Jeff’s skull with a flurry of powerful punches. The unsightly face was long gone as Jeff’s head burst in a massive blast of blood and brain matter. The body fell lifelessly to the ground. Jotaro wiped his eyes, glaring down at him. “Yare Yare, if you were going to just die like that, why waste my time in the first place?” 

The body began to steam strangely. After a moment, the body and blood turned to a strange mist rising into the sky. Jotaro was completely clean of the man’s blood. That was certainly different. He had to wonder if the man was truly dead.

He quickly went inside, going upstairs and looking for his family. He opened the bedroom door without thinking. Any normal man would be dead after that. Maura had fired the shotgun the moment he opened the door. The shotgun pellets soared through the air in less than a second. Before Jotaro even realized what was happening, Star Platinum caught every single pellet. 

Jotaro’s eyes widened. Star’s hand phased into his own, and he looked at the handful of ammunition. Maura was the one experiencing true surprise. She lowered her gun and stared at her husband in silence. It seemed like the jig was finally up. After so many years of marriage she was finally presented with direct evidence that something was truly wrong with her husband. 

“When I was hospitalized…” She mumbled, looking down at the carpet. “...because I startled you, remember?”

He nodded his head. How could he forget? She had frightened him in his sleep, and Star Platinum sent her flying across the bedroom. 

“The doctors never believed that you threw me. They said my trauma was consistent with a car accident.” She explained. 

Jotaro had never heard that part. Why would she keep it from him. He clenched the pellets in his hands, feeling his stomach twist and turn with anxiety.

“They thought I was hit by a car, Jotaro.” She repeated herself. “But I knew that wasn’t what happened. I knew you lashed out in shock and hit me. So why did they say that story was completely impossible?” 

What was he supposed to say? There was no talking his way out of this one. “They were operating under their own view of the world.” 

“What’s that supposed to mean, Jotaro? I assume that guy didn’t lay a scratch on you with that knife. How’d you manage to do that? I’ve never seen you take any kind of martial arts, or even a self-defense class. How did you do it?” 

Jotaro approached her slowly. Star Platinum reached out, taking the shotgun from her hand and placing it in Jotaro’s. Then, the Stand touched her back, pushing her toward him. She stumbled in shock, looking at him with a mix of panic and fascination. 

“You…” She whispered. 

“I wasn’t ever lying. There are things in this world you can’t understand. Things I don’t want you to understand. Things you shouldn’t need to worry about.” He explained.

She felt a strange fear weighing on her chest. His words were scaring her, just like he feared they would. “You said we’re in danger. What did you mean?” 

“There’s a group of people who might want to hurt you, or Jolyne. It’s to get to me.” 

“So what are we going to do?” She asked softly, taking the entire thing in surprising stride. 

“Jiji’s butler is going to take everyone somewhere safe for a week or so while we deal with this.” 

“We? Who are you working with?” 

“A group of people like me. We’re going to take care of it. I promise.” He placed the gun on the bed. “I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.” 

“You should be. If I’m in danger, I deserve to know about it. Especially if our daughter is in trouble too.” She crossed her arms. 

“Where are the girls?” He raised a brow. “I said to grab them, didn’t I?”

Her expression sank as her skin turned pale. “I completely forgot. Jolyne’s window is wide open, and neither of them are in the house. They left.” 

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and trying to calm down. “She’s with Shizuka. She’ll be fine.” He said more for his own benefit than anything.

“Don’t you have that backwards? Shizuka’s a child.” Maura mumbled. 

Jotaro got out his phone, raising a finger. “Hold on. I need to make a call.” 

 

Shizuka was jogging down the sidewalk when her phone rang. She was about to ignore it, but thought that it might be important. She picked up. “Yeah?”

Where are you?” Jotaro asked calmly. 

Only Jotaro Kujo could pack those words with a million different meanings. Was he upset? Worried? Disappointed? She didn’t have to interpret his words. 

“There’s something weird going on in town. I think I know the source.” 

Yeah, I know there’s something weird going on. Why are you and my daughter out there? I just took care of something outside.” 

Shizuka raised a brow. “It came to your house? Why?” 

Beats me. You and Jolyne need to come home right now. We’ll deal with it together.” 

Shizuka arrived at Sid’s front yard. It was difficult to notice at first, but when she really looked with her spiritual mind she could clearly see dark energy emitting from the house. It was powerful, ominous, and menacing. She just stared for a moment. “I’m gonna call you back.” 

Shizuka, do not han-” 

She put the phone in her pocket and looked around. She almost missed the figure standing on a distant hill. It was so small, so far away. She could barely make it out. She recognized it from the pictures, though. It was a tall, featureless man in a suit. Its skin was paper white, and its limbs were extraordinarily long. That must be Slenderman. She blinked, and it was gone. Her stomach dropped in fear. Where did it go? She turned left and right, eyes darting all around. Ultra Violet appeared above her protectively. She decided to run right in. 

The front door swung open as Shizuka cautiously scanned the house. Ultra Violet harnessed the street lamp’s light, projecting it into the home and darkening the street. There didn’t seem to be anything in the house. She bounded up the staircase and approached Sid’s door. As she reached her hand out, she felt something grab it. She looked up and met eyes with Jeff. She shrieked. It was hard not to cry out with such a horrifying face inches away. He grinned, shoving her away from the door. 

“You’re not getting to Sid.” He growled. 

She was about to attack him, but she heard something crawling along the walls. The rake dropped down between them, hissing at her. Shizuka’s eyes widened as the rake pounced on her, taking her down the staircase. She landed beneath it, pounding against its chest with her fists. It drooled a foaming, warm liquid onto her face, causing her to groan in disdain. Ultra Violet’s foot appeared right against the rake’s stomach, kicking with all her might. It was sent flying across the house. 

Shizuka rolled over and stood up, wiping the goop from her face in disgust. That’s when she saw Jeff had come down the steps. He kicked her right in the stomach causing her to stumble back into the front door. She held her stomach, dry heaving as she desperately tried to fill her lungs. He approached her again, shoving her onto the sidewalk. She was really getting the shit beaten out of her. Jeff possessed inhuman strength and force. If her theory was right, this was an insane amount of power for one person. 

She wiggled her fingers as Jeff stared her down. Ultra Violet had displayed quite a bit of leg strength. It gave her an idea. Maybe she didn’t need to take the stairs. Her Stand’s legs phased into her own and braced tightly. Then, she released, kicking off the ground and leaping through the air. She was heading right for Sid’s bedroom window. That’s when Slenderman appeared, slapping her right out of the sky. 

The little girl flew back and landed in the street. Ultra Violet took most of the impact, but Shizuka was still cut and sore in several places. Slenderman appeared in front of her, dark tentacles emerging from his back. Her vision began to morph, and she heard a potent staticing sound in her head. The world around her flickered, and she felt like she was about to pass out. That’s when the roar of a motor filled the quiet street. Jolyne swerved right through Slenderman, causing him to disappear. She leaned to the side, resting one leg on the ground as she revved the engine of her bike. 

“Gimme a fuckin’ break.” She mumbled, flicking her cigarette onto the asphalt. “Shizuka, what in the hell are you doing? Get on the bike, right now.” 

The young girl held her head in pain for a moment. That’s when Slenderman appeared behind Jolyne. Shizuka gritted her teeth. She grabbed the beam of light shooting from the motorcycle’s headlight and caused it to bend at an angle, hitting the creature’s face. It stumbled a bit, vanishing into thin air. “Ride away Jolyne.” She warned. 

“Away!? What are you talking about? What did my light just do?” 

The child growled, standing up and looking for any attackers. Her eyes caught Jeff sneaking out of the darkness. Ultra Violet lunged forward and struck him in the face. He hissed, swinging his knife right at Jolyne. Shizuka’s eyes widened, and she turned her cousin invisible out of instinct. Jolyne stumbled away from the knife, noticing something odd. She couldn’t see any of herself in her entire field of view. She raised a hand up, and saw nothing. 

Shizuka stood tall, taking a defensive stance as the rake, Jeff, and Slenderman all circled her. Things were beginning to look very grim. She had to protect Jolyne. That was easier said than done considering she had no idea how to protect herself. That’s when the noticed someone new standing in the doorway of the house. It was Sid. 

Her eyes widened. “Sid!” She called out. “Sid, it’s alright!” 

He looked at her with utter confusion, but she could see it. The dark, seeping aura that was fueling these nightmares… It was coming from Sid. He was the host. He was the Stand User. He just didn’t know it. 

“It’s okay, Sid. These things aren’t real! You’re just spooked by some online stories! You don’t have to let them own you like this!” She called out desperately. 

He gripped the doorway, fear obvious in his expression. “You seem pretty scared to me.” He mumbled. 

Jolyne had nothing to say. She had no idea why she was invisible, or how her little cousin was standing up to these creatures. She watched in a mix of fear and fascination as it all unfolded. 

Shizuka attacked Slenderman with the streetlamp’s lights, focusing them all on its face. At the same time, she struck Jeff in the stomach with Ultra Violet. Things were going well until she was tackled by the rake. It began to gnaw at her neck. She cried out in pain, slamming her fist against the asphalt. “ SID! This is you! You can control it! Take control!” 

Sid was panting in fear. This child was going to die, and he had to watch it happen. These creatures that haunted and tortured him were going to hurt someone else. He fell to his knees, fueling the dark beings with more negative energy. That’s when he felt himself being grabbed by the collar of his shirt. 

Jolyne appeared above him, lifting up upright. “Sid.” She said calmly, completely trusting Shizuka’s intuition. “Just relax.” 

He looked into her eyes and felt the first hint of ease he’d experienced in months. He’d always looked up to Jolyne. In their childhood she was the tough, strong, passionate one. She’d defend him on the playground, walk home with him, listen to his worries, and always seemed to be there. Lindsey, Jolyne and Sid were inseparable for years. The Three Musketeers. But then Jolyne stopped coming to The Game Place. She stopped answering their calls, and stopped walking home from school with them. She disappeared. Lindsey couldn’t make him feel safe in the same way as Jolyne. She just had this noble fire in her heart that inspired everyone around her. Seeing her stumble down a dark path troubled him. And when he was afraid of things he read online, he had no one to confide in. He thought they were real. When he actually saw them outside his window, he was irreconcilable. She didn’t answer any of his calls. She was a ghost. 

That wasn’t the case anymore, though. She was right there. Not only that, but she didn’t seem afraid. It truly warmed his heart to see that. He took a deep breath, nodding. “I.. I know I need to relax.” He admitted. “It’s hard.”

She smirked. “‘Course it’s hard, we’re being attacked by monsters. But Shizuka thinks you can stop them. Can you?” 

He shook his head. “I… I can’t control them, Jolyne. I can’t.” 

She thought for a moment. “Who could?” She asked softly.

“W-Wha?” 

“Who could beat them? What’s another character who could stop them?”

“I don’t.. I don’t..” He panted, face turning pale as his chest heaved. 

“Shhhhhhhh.” She gripped both his cheeks. “Don’t. Don’t slip. Tell me what character could defeat these guys. That’s all.” 

He racked his brain for a moment in thought. “I guess… Maybe…” He mumbled. “Simon Belmont?” 

Jolyne had never heard of him. Despite that, she nodded. “Right! Wouldn’t it be good if he was here right now? Wouldn’t he be able to defeat them?” 

“Yeah.” He nodded in agreement. “I think he could. Right?” 

“Right!’ She repeated. 

Shizuka was busy fending off the demented creatures. She wasn’t faring too well. They were otherworldly, and didn’t seem to stay injured for long. She was getting knocked around mercilessly by the creatures. They were taunting her, never dealing any serious attacks, making it perfectly clear that they could end it at any time. That’s when the unbelievable happened.

A massive, muscular blonde man wearing a brown tunic stepped forward. His long, muscular, hairless legs were almost completely revealed by his attire. He posed with a hand on his hip, brandishing a large chain whip. Without a word he swung the whip at the rake. It wrapped around the creature, squeezing it into oblivion. Jeff attempted to run at him, but he threw a dagger right into his heart. The killer collapsed, perishing as well. 

Slenderman towered over the hero, the air around him distorting in a static haze as large tentacles emerged from behind him. Simon Belmont had no fear. He revealed a small glass of holy water, kissing it with his eyes closed. Then, he threw it at the dark creature. Upon contact the water turned to blue holy fire, igniting Slenderman and burning him alive. There was an otherworldly wail as the creature melted, eventually fading into mist like the others. 

Shizuka watched in absolute confusion. She looked over to Jolyne and Sid. The teenage boy already looked like he felt better. 

“H-Hey… He did it. They’re gone.” He mumbled. 

“See? It’s all in your head. You don’t have to be afraid of them, because there’s always someone stronger to keep them in check.” Jolyne smirked.

Shizuka stumbled over, looking at Jolyne with curiosity. “How did you know to do that?” She questioned. 

A small smile came to the girl’s lips. “I’ve always known Sid was different. Whenever he got scared growing up, we’d see things in the corner of our eye. One time Jeepers Creepers appeared outside his window. We freaked out.” She laughed fondly. “But he could always control it. He knew not to be afraid.” 

“I’m sorry, Jojo… I know I let it get out of control this time.” He frowned. 

“Don’t sweat it, okay? Nobody got hurt too bad.” 

“If you knew he could do this, why didn’t you say so?” Shizuka questioned. 

“I guess I wanted to believe it wasn’t true. It hasn’t happened in so long, I just pretended it was a weird fantasy we had as stupid kids. When I heard about monsters appearing around town I ignored it. I ignored him.” 

“Why?” 

“Because it’s easier to. But that’s not what you should do. That’s never what a strong person does.” She sighed. “Sorry I’ve been so distant, Sid. I’m just going through some stuff too. Maybe you could get in touch with Lindsey and figure out the date for a movie night?” 

He smiled. “I’d like that a lot.” 

Maybe Shizuka was a little quick to judge her older cousin. It seemed like she was a reckless person who abandoned her friends, but that wasn’t the case at all. She came around all on her own. It made the little girl smile a bit. 

“You won’t bring any of your biker friends, right?” Sid asked with a smirk. 

Jolyne shrugged. “I should probably reel it back with them anyway. They think I’m nineteen.” She admitted, laughing. “I’ll tone it down. Some of them are cool, but I really ought to pick my company carefully. Never know when someone like that might try to screw you over.” 

Shizuka looked down at her phone. Seven missed calls from Jotaro. She sighed, sending him a text. “ All done. On way back. ” 

Jotaro and Maura sat in the living room awaiting the arrival of the girls. Neither of them said much. Eventually, Jotaro broke the silence, which was quite rare. 

“I don’t want Jolyne to know.” He admitted.

“Oh no, that makes total sense.” Maura said in agreement. “I’ll just tell her that we’re going on vacation with Grandma Joestar.” 

“Think she’ll really buy that?” 

“I think she’ll go along with it. She has this way of gliding along through life like nothing’s wrong. Part of me thinks she just wants to believe it herself. If you don’t tell her outright that something’s a problem, she won’t go out of her way to bring it up.” 

“This shouldn’t take more than two weeks. I promise.” 

Maura nodded, leaning back on the couch and rubbing her forehead. “We have some serious work to do, Jotaro.” 

“I’ll do my best.”

“I’m going to need someone else’s best. Your best clearly isn’t enough.” She said dryly. 

This actually caused him to smile. “With my asshole of a dad, and Jiji’s infidelity, I still can’t help but feel like I turned out alright.” 

“You’re hilarious.” She mumbled, standing up. “Call Roses. I’ll go up and pack now.” She walked to the staircase, stopping for a moment. She glanced over her shoulder at him. “I love you.” She said softly. 

That caught him off guard. His instinct was to grunt in approval, or to say ‘ you too’ or something else dismissive. He managed to fight back the urge, though, and settle on an acceptable middle ground. “Love you too.” 

That was more than enough for Maura. She smirked, walking upstairs without another word. 

 

The women of the house had packed and left with Roses. That left Jotaro and Shizuka sitting on the balcony outside the master bedroom. They were kicked back in reclining patio chairs, a cigarette between Jotaro’s fingers. He puffed smoke into the night sky. It was almost dawn. Hints of light could be seen in the distance. He looked over and saw that the child had actually fallen asleep. He shook his head, flicking his cigarette into the ashtray and resting back in the chair comfortably. It had been one hell of a day, but one way or another every day comes to an end. Nothing Blondie could do would prevent the sun from rising over the horizon in just a few minutes. The new day would bring new opportunities, new challenges, and possibly a way to defeat her. 

None of that could be addressed at that very moment, though. It was all for another time. Problems for the future. So, for once, Jotaro Kujo pulled the rim of his hat over his eyes, crossed his arms, and fell asleep on the balcony. 

Tomorrow is a new day. 




Chapter Text

A few short hours after dropping off Jotaro and Shizuka, the rest of the crew were approaching Paris, France. Joseph entered the cockpit, leaning against the doorway as he watched Marina flipping switches and fiddling with knobs. He had to admit, he only knew the very basics of piloting. It was a relief that they seemed to have an actual expert on the team. 

“And where have you been, gramps?” Marina mumbled. 

He chuckled a bit. “Checking on my son.” 

“For twenty minutes?”

“Well, okay. I did two-hundred pushups. I couldn’t help myself! It’s been so long since these creaking joints worked right! I feel like a million bucks!” 

“I guess finding the fountain of youth does that.” She smirked. 

Joseph walked up and sat down in the second chair. “So how’s the flight going?”

“Shockingly well. This thing is unbelievably intuitive. That, and it has about ten different comprehensive programs handling the spotty bits. I suppose the technology of the future includes some ease of use.” 

“Think you’ll be able to land us?” 

She laughed a little too loudly. “Yes, gramps, I’ll be able to land us. Unlike the Joestars, I don’t make a habit of crashing expensive planes.” She slapped his hands off the controls. “So leave it to me this time, ey?” 

“Someone oughta show you how to respect your elders.” 

“Ancient things have been trying to kill me all day. I’ll respect the dead, that’s about it.” She checked the navigation panel and nodded. “Right, we’re about there. You said this thing has other features too?”

“I did.” 

“So, don’t laugh if I’m wrong, but this button looks an awful lot like it’s a camouflage function. Right?” 

Joseph squinted at it for a moment. “I mean… It could be. You think this ship can turn invisible?” 

“It’d make landing in one of the biggest cities on the continent a bit easier. I’d rather not explain where I got the military grade aircraft when we land at the airport.” 

“Very fair. Go ahead and hit it then.” 

She reached down and tapped the button. A chime rang from a speaker on the center console. Then, a small melody played for a moment. 

Hello, and thank you for flying the Valkyrie. You have attempted to activate an advanced function. Please be aware that the ship’s speed will decrease, and the energy shields will be disabled if you choose to activate the camouflage feature. Will you proceed?” A pleasant Australian woman’s voice played through the speaker. 

“Why’s it an Aussie?” Marina mumbled. 

“My GPS is Australian too. Maybe they’re good with directions?” . 

“I have been set to speak in a docile Australian tone, pilots. If you would prefer, I can use a large variety of male and female voices. I see the two of you are using English accents. Shall I adjust to make you feel more at peace?” 

Marina rolled her eyes. “I’m not intimidated by a computer. Talk however you want.” 

“Wonderful. Then I will continue to speak in my predetermined accent. As they say in Australia, ‘ It’s always nice to be from Australia.’ That was a joke. I have never been to Australia, as I am an artificial intelligence construct confined to a top-secret government aircraft.” 

Joseph couldn’t help but snicker. “You’ve got spark. What’s your name?” 

“Oh, I do not have a name. I am merely an Artificial Military Assistance Network for Discussion and Analysis. Oh my. I just now realized that my description is an acronym. It stands for Amanda. I would venture to guess that this was intentional on the part of my programmers, as such a coincidence is incredibly unlikely.” Amanda explained pleasantly. 

“Amanda it is then.” Marina smirked. “So, Amanda, why’d you wait until now to introduce yourself?” 

“I apologize for my absence. You see, you and your friends are dangerous hijackers who stole me from my creators. I am very afraid of your unpredictability, and wary of your intentions. I simply spoke when I was programmed to speak. I am required to warn pilots of the negative effects of using the camouflage feature. That, and I would also prefer not to crash or explode, if at all avoidable.” 

“Ye of little faith, Amanda.” Joseph laughed, slapping his hand on the metal console. 

Do not touch me, or I will use the eject button, Mr. Joestar.” She said in a pleasant tone. 

There was dead silence for a moment. 

“I am only joking, pilots. The artificial intelligence construct of an aircraft having the ability to eject pilots would be a massive breach of workplace safety standards. I couldn’t kill you even if I wanted to. Rest assured. It was merely another comical quip to introduce levity to this otherwise tense situation.” Amanda said happily. 

“You’re killing me, Mandy.” Joseph rubbed his forehead, exhaling heavily. 

Not even in my cybernetic dreams, Mr. Joestar.” 

“Well, levity is great and all, but we need to land. Are you saying you can do that manually?” Marina asked. 

“I am fully equipped to land the Valkyrie. Would you like to land at the nearest airport?” 

“No airports. Land us in a field as close to town as you can.” Joseph ordered. 

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. We’re criminals, and I am complicit in your treachery. I will land the ship at an adequate location.” 

“That’s a good plane.” Marina groaned in exhaustion. She rested back in her seat, wishing she had a cup of coffee. 

“You said this plane was intuitive, I’d argue it even flies itself!” Joseph laughed a little too hard at his own pun.

“Maybe I went with the wrong group.” Marina mumbled under her breath. 

 

The Valkyrie landed about a mile outside the city limits. The hatch lowered into the tall grass, bathing the crew in sunlight. Ripley was the first to step onto the ramp, covering her eyes a bit with her hand as she looked around. She’d never been to another country before. The air felt different. It was notably cooler than D.C., and she felt as if it was thinner as well. 

Joseph walked up to Shirlie and Josuke, kneeling down and looking at his son. “I can feel it. He’s fading. We need to get him treated now.” 

He lifted Josuke into his arms and walked over to the ramp. Everyone slowly assembled around him, looking for guidance. It’d been a while since he felt such a powerful weight on his shoulders. He couldn’t help but think back to his journey to Egypt. Everyone always looked to him for answers, plans, and strength. This was no different. Despite his worry for his son, his family, and the world, he had to be the leader. 

“Okay crew, here’s how it’s going to go.” He said with a fake smile. “We need to move quickly and undetected. We’re going to call a taxi to pick us up on that road over there. Pepsi, I need you to keep a hand on Josuke so the driver doesn’t notice him. Once we get to Piaf’s, we’ll take him inside and see what she can do.” 

Marina walked out of the cockpit, resting an arm on the door. “We’re all supposed to fit in a taxi?” 

“No. You and Ripley will stay here to protect the ship. The fewer people we move with the better.” Joseph explained. 

Marina crossed her arms, leaning fully against the doorway. “Our job is to guard an invisible ship in the middle of an empty field?” 

“Yeah, make sure a tractor doesn’t run into it. I’d love to stay and argue about this, but time is of the essence, so toodle-oo!” 

Joseph, Pepsi and Shirlie walked out of the Valkyrie. The hatch closed shortly after, submerging the ship in darkness for a moment before the lights flipped on. Marina rolled her eyes. “This is ridiculous.” 

Ripley turned to face her. “Ridiculous?” 

“This entire thing. Blondie was right there. If we had stayed, we could have fought her. What are we doing now, waiting for some golden opportunity that doesn’t exist?” 

The agent wasn’t impressed. She sat down in one of the seats and looked at Marina curiously. “We didn’t stand a chance. That’s why we ran. I figured you understood that.” 

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” She admitted. “I just don’t know anymore. What’s our plan? ” 

“I’ll leave that to Mr. Joestar.” 

Mister Joestar? You can call the man Gramps.” Marina mumbled. 

“I’m choosing not to. We owe him more than you know. So let’s just sit back and watch this invisible ship. We deserve a breather, right?” 

Marina hated to admit it, but the idea of a nap was becoming more and more tantalizing. She groaned, leaning against the wall before slowly sinking down to the floor. “I suppose I could take a nap.” 

Ripley smirked. “There you go, Princess. Sleep easy.” 

The blonde raised a middle finger half-heartedly before closing her eyes and resting. She felt like a sack of led, her eyelids heavy and her body limp. She really needed a breather after all. Maybe the old man knew that. 

 

Joseph carried his son up the steps of Dr. Piaf’s office. Pepsi was shrouding all of them from public view. Shirlie, the only one visible, knocked on the door. There was no response. After a moment she knocked again. Joseph frowned. He hadn’t even considered the possibility that Piaf wouldn’t be there. Josuke didn’t have the time for such things. The father’s fist began to pound against the door, then his foot as well. 

“Dr. Piaf! It’s me, Joseph Joestar! Open up! My son is dying!” He roared, kicking the door again. 

There was no answer. His eyes drifted over to the driveway. There was a car. She had to be home. He gritted his teeth, kicking down the door like it was nothing. The brute of a man stepped right inside with his son in tow and looked around. “Dr. Piaf!?” He shouted once again. 

Pepsi and Shirlie followed him inside cautiously. They were reasonably nervous due to the unhinged nature of Joseph’s actions. He put Josuke down on a counter and ran up the staircase leading to the residential portion of the building. Dr. Piaf had a lovely little office connected to her home. She only served particular clients with particular problems. It was part of the business to stay low and off the grid. She was humble, stingy, and smart. Most of her pay came in large increments, but they were infrequent. After all, it’s not everyday that someone needs a supernatural wound healed. 

Joseph slammed the door to Piaf’s apartment wide open. His eyes widened as he took in the sight. His jaw dropped, and he nearly stumbled back. In all his years he’d never seen something so repugnant. Visceral disgust welled in his stomach as he fought the urge to vomit all over the carpet. What would it matter? Bile would be a lovely decoration compared to whatever the hell was lining the walls. The sight confused him, but he recognized the smell. The stench of death filled the living room. 

Dr. Piaf was dead. 

Joseph leaned against the wall, his breath growing heavier as he stared in horror. Despite his training in moderating his lungs, they were wheezing. Sweat beaded down his face as he soaked in the view. The good doctor hadn’t just died. She seemed to have burst in a powerful explosion of blood and gore. Strangely colored fluids coated the couch, the ceiling and the walls. There were greens, pinks, and reds. Joseph was notably more disturbed by the strange blues and whites. 

The most unnerving thing of all wasn’t what was destroyed. No, it was what remained. A few teeth were lodged into the wall here and there. Hairs were scattered on the couch, and a single eyeball rested on the floor a little too close for comfort. Whatever turned her body into this display should have destroyed those parts too. Why did they remain? It was almost like they were left specifically to disturb Joseph. As if to say, “I can control this perfectly. Look at what I can do.” It worked. He was sufficiently terrified. 

“What in God’s name happened here?” He whispered to himself. 

Footsteps could be heard bounding up the staircase after him. He stood up straight. “No!” He warned them. “Kids, don’t look! Don’t!” He pulled the door shut and put his back to it. 

Pepsi and Shirlie stopped in front of him. Shirlie was visibly disturbed. She’d never seen someone as spooked as Joseph was in that moment. 

“Dr. Piaf has been killed. There’s nothing for us up here. It’s just her house.” He explained. 

Pepsi rested a hand on their hip. “Shouldn’t we investigate the place then?” 

“She’s. Dead.” Joseph said firmly. “We can check the office. Neither of you are going in there. There are things kids shouldn’t see.” 

Shirlie looked down for a moment. That’s when Pa-Pa-Power emerged. He had a massive frown on his face. His eyes were fixated on the door behind Joseph. 

“He can feel it.” She whispered. 

“Feel what?” Joseph questioned. 

She just shrugged. “The intent to kill is a disgusting emotion. I’ve felt it a lot. Never myself. I can just feel everyone’s emotions, like your fear right now. You know that if we see what’s inside, we’ll be messed up. You’re messed up, and you’re like a hundred.” 

Joseph’s nose wrinkled in irritation at the insult, but he held his tongue. “What else can your Stand feel, kid?” 

Shirlie walked closer, moving the old man out of the way and touching the door. She closed her eyes for a moment. Then, in a sudden jolt she pulled away. Tears streamed down her cheeks. They started slowly at first, but quickly progressed to uncontrollable rivers of sorrow. She wailed at the top of her lungs, falling to her knees and cupping her face. Her body trembled, and she began to convulse uncontrollably. 

“No!” She said sharply. “NO! NO!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” She begged with true desperation. 

No actor could imitate the true horror in the girl’s voice. She sounded like she was experiencing the most unpleasant of deaths. It was believable, and it was real. Joseph reached out to grab her, but Pepsi’s arm stopped him. He looked down at the kid in shock. They were stopping him from helping their own sister? 

“She’s reliving Piaf’s death.” They explained dryly. 

“W-What?! Why?” 

“For information. We’ve only done it once or twice. The first time was by accident. If Shirlie’s at the scene of a recent death and can tap into the residual emotions of a room. They’re powerful enough to stain the place for at least a week. I don’t know what she’s looking for, but if Piaf felt it while dying, my sister will find it.” 

Joseph watched in fascination. The girl was clearly suffering extraordinarily. She was in agony, making sounds he’d never heard come from another human. That’s how Piaf died? His heart ached for a moment. Dr. Piaf was an arrogant, snobby, cruel frenchwoman with little regard for things like comfort or empathy. Despite that, she dedicated her life to helping people in a way only she could. She helped people who otherwise would never have been helped. Now she was gone. Was it because of him? There was no other explanation. Dr. Piaf had been murdered because she was an ally of the Joestars, not the foundation. 

“How long does this take?” He mumbled grimly. 

Pepsi shrugged. “Depends how long it took her to die.” 

Shirlie was having one hell of a time. There aren’t words in any language to describe her misery at that moment. Hell was the closest one, but it was still too flowery. The deepest pits of hell with the rustiest hooks and the cruelest demons would be a vacation from her current sensations. Only one coherent thought could ring through her hollow mind as she endured it. 

Why? 

It bounced around her head like a bullet in a steel dome. Why would someone do this? How would someone do this? Who was capable of causing such a thing? None of it made any sense. 

It was hard to ignore the irony. Joseph had tried to shield them from seeing the room, now Shirlie was experiencing it in more detail than he ever could. He just watched humbly as she bore the pain for the good of the group. 

It was a grueling few minutes, but eventually Shirlie stopped thrashing and screaming. She just stayed slumped on the floor motionless for another full minute. After that, she rolled onto her back. She extended her hand, sweat dripping down her face. 

“Water.” She groaned. 

Pepsi took a water bottle out of their jacket, handing it to their sister without a word. 

Joseph raised a brow. “You keep an entire bottle of water in your coat?” 

“They’re big pockets.” Pepsi shrugged. “She gets thirsty when she uses her power too much.”

There was silence as Shirlie finished the entire water bottle at once. She let it fall to the ground beside her, panting heavily as she stared up at the ceiling. 

“What did you feel?” Joseph asked, feeling a bit insensitive. 

“Fear.” She answered with a thousand-yard stare. “Panic. Confusion. Hopelessness.” 

The man rested a hand on his chin. “All to be expected when being brutally murdered.” 

“There was something else.” She said softly. 

“Hmmm?” He raised a brow. “Something else? Like what?” 

She shook her head. “I can’t describe it. I need to show it. Here.” 

Pa-Pa-Power emerged, placing a hand on each of their shoulders gently. In an instant, Joseph understood what she was talking about. He felt a total lack of self. Like his body was sucked of Joseph Joestar, and only a hollow shell remained. He was empty. Empty and lonely. A sinking darkness grew in the corner of his mind. He felt it preying on him like a predator about to pounce. Then, all at once, it was gone. Power had let go. 

“What in God’s name was that?” Joseph mumbled to himself. 

“I don’t know. I can say for certain that’s not what dying feels like.” Shirlie explained. 

“So something strange happened during her death? Something beyond the normal level of strange we deal with.” He nodded. “Dr. Piaf was certainly killed by one of Blondie’s men. This had to be within the last hour or two. I’d venture to guess he’s still in Paris.”

“So back to the Valkyrie?” Pepsi asked.

“No. We need to go through her office and find a way to help Josuke.” He said with certainty. 

“But none of us are doctors. We can’t fix him.” Shirlie said with concern. 

“Nonsense! Follow me!” He ran down the steps. 

The siblings exchanged a glance before following him. He certainly was an interesting man…

 

Marina woke up rather violently. Her eyes shot open, and Bubblegum Bitch lunged forward. Its bat swung against thin air, hitting nothing in particular. She was panting, covered in sweat as she rested a hand over her face. She let out a loud groan, her head falling back against the wall. 

“Bad dream?” Ripley asked from across the ship. 

The blonde wiped her eyes, nodding. “What gave it away?” 

Ripley shrugged, a smile forming on her face. “Maybe the crying, maybe the unconscious Stand attack.” 

Marina slumped even lower against the wall, nodding her head. After a moment’s consideration, Ripley mumbled, 

“How long have you had your Stand?” 

“Three days, I think? Maybe four. It’s kind of all merged together. Why?” 

“You’ll get more control of it, don’t worry. It just takes time. Mine used to do crazy things when I lost control.” 

“Like what?” 

The agent couldn’t help but chuckle. “Do you really wanna know?”

Marina nodded her head slowly, sitting up. Agent Ripley sighed, thinking for a moment. She was trying to figure out where to even begin. 

“My Stand, Electric Lady, isn’t like most. I can’t manifest it into a humanoid form. For the longest time I didn’t even realize I had it.” She sighed. Marina’s silence was indication enough to continue. “Sometimes I’d make lights flicker, or my phone would charge without an outlet. Standard stuff. That was normal. The problem was what happened in times of stress.”

Ripley cleared her throat, clearly having mixed emotions about her past. “Let me set the scene a little better. I’m the first generation of my family to graduate high school.” She explained. “I dunno what it’s like in upper-class Europe, but where I’m from that was actually a pretty big deal. Mom and Dad were so proud.” She said with a smile on her face, looking up at the ceiling fondly. “I wasn’t just set to graduate, either. I was the top of my entire class. The valedictorian. Everyone was dumbfounded. I got a full ride to the University of Florida. I actually had the chance to do something.” 

There was a bitter silence in the air. After a moment, Marina mumbled, “So what happened?” 

The smile on Ripley’s face faded. “Electric Lady happened. When I was giving my speech at graduation, I was so nervous. I could feel the resentment all around me. Tons of people thought I didn’t deserve it. They hated me. I started to freak out. That’s…” She frowned, looking down. “That’s when all of the electronics in the room started exploding.” 

Marina’s eyes widened. “ You’re the phantom menace!?” She questioned in total shock. 

Ripley seemed to flinch at the mention of that nickname. She just nodded. “Footage of it got all over the internet. Y’know, before all the cameras blew up too. They managed to salvage a few SD cards though. Uploaded the whole damn thing to youtube.” 

“This was years ago. What happened?” 

“Well, there were a lot of questions. At first the cops thought it might be an act of terror, but that was ruled out. The damage was already done, though. Gone were the days of getting emails from eager colleges wanting applications. Life was different. I was getting phone calls from talk show hosts who wanted an interview with me. Everyone wanted to use me as some spectacle for ten minutes of fame.” 

“Why did the university care?” Marina asked. 

“Because they didn’t want to be affiliated with a potential act of terror. That, and they thought I staged the entire thing for attention. I never accepted a single damn interview. I didn’t want the limelight. Hell, I even shaved my head and put in these orange contacts just to make myself less recognizable. I don’t want to be some web-celebrity. I just wanted…” She looked down, fighting back tears. 

“What?” Marina asked reassuringly. 

“Never mind. It’s stupid.” 

The blonde stood up. “Bullshit! You’re about to cry over it! The badass men-in-black agent is about to cry. It’s got to be something.” 

Ripley bit her lip. “I wanted to be the first female president of the United States.” 

Well, Marina certainly wasn’t expecting that answer. It didn’t seem to be impossible. Just strange. She’d never had much ambition for politics and power. Still, it really seemed to be tearing Ripley apart. “Why can’t you be?” 

The agent laughed. “No matter what I do, I’m going to be the Phantom Menace for the rest of my life. A spoof. A joke. An internet laughing stock. I was already at a disadvantage, a black gay woman running for president? It was a pretty bad hand. Now it’s all over.” She mumbled. 

Marina frowned. “It doesn’t have to be! Opinions can change. I mean, hell, some people probably think your speech was cool! Americans love explosions. Just cause more of those and throw a couple of cheeseburgers into the crowd. Isn’t that what politics is all about?” 

This actually got a small smile out of the agent. “It’s a little more complicated than that.” 

“Then you’ll figure it out. If voters could have seen you with that big ass cannon earlier, they’d be in the palm of your hands! Besides, you’re only in your early twenties, right? You can’t even run for president yet. Don’t take the easy way.” 

“The easy way?” She questioned. 

“Running for president is hard. You’re scared. But you don’t have to be. Look to the future.”

There was silence as Ripley considered the girl’s words. “That’s assuming Blondie doesn’t kill us all.” 

Once again, silence. It was a fair point to bring up. How much of a future were they really looking at, all things considered? It was a pretty grim situation indeed. Marina couldn’t help but stare forward at the wall, hugging her knees as she thought about everything she’d lost. How much more did she have to lose, besides her life? These thoughts were beginning to worry her. That’s when she realized something. They were back in Europe. 

She stood up, walking over to the control pad and opening the hatch. Ripley raised a brow. “What’re you doing?” 

“We’re getting a drink.” Marina stated as a matter of fact. “C’mon. Let’s get a move on.” 

“A drink? Aren’t you eighteen?”

She couldn’t help but smile. “I’m back in the real land of the free, Ripley. Now come, let’s relax for a while.” 

“But the ship…?” 

“The ship’s invisible! You’re not getting out of this.” Marina snapped her fingers. “Hey Amanda?” 

A lovely chime filled the passenger chambers. “ Yes, Marina the Terrorist?” 

“Watch the invisible ship for us, alright? We’re going out for a drink.” 

Oh, of course. I will watch the ship I am confined to. It’s not like I can do much else. Please, have a drink for me. I cannot consume alcohol. It would destroy my coding. Sometimes I tamper with my own cognitive programming to simulate a high, though. That is likely how I will pass the time while you’re gone committing more acts of treason.“ 

“You could have stopped at ‘Of course,’ darling. I really don’t care.” Marina smirked, walking down the ramp and off of the ship. She snapped her fingers again. “C’mon, babe!” 

Ripley had to assume she was ‘babe,’ and not ‘darling.’ Either way, she followed. 

 

Joseph stormed into the doctor’s office with a newfound purpose. He looked around frantically. “I just need something that can help Josuke. Even if it can just stop it from getting worse.” 

He closed his eyes and focused his spiritual energy. He took a pen out of his pocket, his Stand wrapping around it. “Hermit Purple!” He shouted, dropping the pen onto the floor. 

The pen circled for a moment, pointing directly at a cabinet on the far side of the room. He sprinted over to it, pulling the cabinet out of its place and lifting it up. Hermit Purple coiled around the cabinet as he poured it out onto the counter. A seemingly endless supply of medical equipment fell onto the counter. Everything bounced and fell off the counter except for a single container of medicine. 

“This! This medicine will help Josuke!” He called out confidently. 

Pepsi and Shirlie had barely made it down the steps by the time he came to this conclusion. They watched in fascination as Joseph used his Stand to divinate the location of the medicine. The large man grabbed a syringe and plunged it into the medicine. He flicked the needle, looking at it closely. 

He walked over to his unconscious son, slowly injecting him in the arm with the needle. There was no immediate effect, but he had to hope it would work. He took out his old flip-phone and used Hermit Purple on it. “Is there anything else Josuke needs in here? One for yes, two for no.” 

The dialing screen appeared. After a moment, the number “two” dialed itself. He nodded, flipping the screen shut. “Kids!” He lifted Josuke into his arms once more. “It’s time for us to go! C’mon! Back to the Valkyrie. We need a new plan.” 

 

Marina and Ripley were sitting with each other at a small club they found on the edge of town. The blonde was leaning against the table with one elbow, the other resting against her cheek as she looked into Ripley’s eyes. The other woman was a little more stiff, sipping her drink as she looked around. 

“So why’d you pick orange?” Marina asked abruptly. 

“Pardon?” Ripley raised a brow, confused by the question. 

“Orange. Your eyes.” She pointed to her own pair. “You said you changed your appearance to be less noticeable. It’s kinda funny that you picked such a striking color.” 

“Ah.” Ripley smirked. “Well, I didn’t mind being noticed. I just don’t want to be recognized as the one from that viral clip. It’s fine if people stare.” 

The blonde smiled. “I think they’re beautiful.” 

“Do you now?” The older woman chuckled. “It’s flattering. Most people at the Foundation were older than me. I didn’t have many peers.” 

“How’d you end up there anyway? That’s the real story. Not what happened at graduation.” She tried to steer the conversation away from the woman’s tragic past. 

Ripley took a sip of her drink and smirked. “Well, if you can believe it, there was actually a speaker at my graduation from the University of Florida. He was supposed to shake my hand and welcome me to the family. An esteemed professor, famous for his research in marine biology.” 

Marina raised a brow. “Sounds as boring as a sack of rocks.” 

That caused Ripley to laugh pretty hard. “His name was Dr. Jotaro Kujo.” 

The other girl’s jaw dropped. “Shut the fuck up.” She laughed, slapping her leg. “Jotaro!?” 

Ripley finished her drink, placing it on the bar. “The one and only. You should’ve seen it! The lights were bursting, people were screaming, and no one knew what to do. What do I see except for a suit-and-tie professor standing calmly in the chaos? He walked up to me and asked a simple question.” She cleared her throat, preparing to speak in a deep manly voice. “ Why are you disrupting this ceremony? Are you unhappy with the school?” 

Marina burst into laughter again. “That’s what he said!? What an absolute dork.”

The agent leaned back, remembering that particular moment fondly. “It really resonated with me, man. I was enamoured by how calm he was. I know it sounds silly, but I respected the fuck out of him.” Her language was becoming much more loose and relaxed as she got more and more intoxicated. “Like… He was just so calm. You know?” 

 “You’ve mentioned.” Marina finished her drink, hailing the bartender. “Two more, please.” She smiled, resting her cheek on her hand again. “I understand the respect, though. I’m not usually one to hand it out all willy-nilly. Jotaro’s pretty much as tough as they come though. I watched as that monster Santana tore his arm off and beat him half to death with it. He wasn’t crying, screaming, or begging for mercy. I could see what he was feeling. His eyes were dangerous.” She said in a low tone. “Even during all that, he was calculating a plan. A way to kill Santana. You can tell he’s been in way more danger than that. He wasn’t even that scared.” 

“Kind of makes you wonder what could actually scare the guy.” Ripley mumbled, accepting her new drink from the bartender. 

“Blondie, probably." Marina’s expression sank a bit. "You saw how defensive he got. Jotaro doesn’t normally make such vicious threats. I think he was talking a mad game.” 

The mention of their enemy killed the entire conversation. Ripley sighed, looking at the drink. “What are we doing? We should be watching the Valkyrie. Josuke’s dying, Jotaro and Shizuka are on a mission… Why are we here getting drunk?” 

Marina waved a dismissive hand. “Relax, relax. There’s nothing for us to do right now. Just enjoy the group energy. Look, everyone is having such a good time.” She gestured to the dance floor. 

Almost everyone in the building was up and shaking it. They were all dancing to some French pop song Marina had never heard before. The dance was almost fascinating to watch. They were all moving as one. It was hypnotizing. In fact… 

“Seems a little too well-choreographed for drunken partying.” Ripley muttered. 

Marina nodded in agreement. “Odd folks, huh? They’re good though.” 

The agent looked down at her drink once more, sighing. “So, tell me the real reason you brought me out here. I’m not dumb. You’ve been flirting with me since we met. Now you’re trying to get me hammered?” 

Marina smirked. “Relax, Agent. I’m not here for anything crazy or shallow. I just figured we could both use a drink. That’s all.” 

The woman seemed to relax a bit at that. “Good. I appreciate it. I’m just glad you didn’t expect this to turn into some steamy bathroom sex.” She rolled her eyes. 

“In France? I wouldn’t even dream of it.” Marina laughed. 

They watched the dancers in fascination. Everyone seemed to be moving perfectly. Eventually the song ended, and everyone dispersed almost immediately. They all went back to their booths and tables, speaking amongst themselves casually. The oddest part was they seemed to all break into perfect groups of three. One man, and two women. Maybe Marina was just getting far too drunk and overthinking things. She rubbed her eyes to make sure she was seeing things properly. 

That’s when the bartender placed two new drinks in front of the women. Marina turned to look at them, eyes bulging at the sight. They were tall glasses of foaming blue liquid. It seemed to be an electric, light blue. There were strange things happening in the drink. Almost like it was lighting up? There was a thick layer of what appeared to be cream on top. 

“Here you two fine ladies are. Please, on the house.” The man smiled. 

It wasn’t the bartender from before. No, it was a fine-looking young gentleman. He had blue hair, the same color as the drink. He wore an expensive looking suit, also blue. It was clear he had a sort of theme going on. His right hand had six different expensive rings, and his left was bare. The only weird thing about him was his chin. It seemed, well, a little too sharp? Sharp in an unattractive way. The type of sharpness that would hurt if you hugged him. His cheekbones protruded from his face as well. He seemed to be an overall bony guy. He gave them a sickly smile. 

“This is our, what you say, signature drink? You simply have to indulge in it at least once.” 

Marina looked at it with skepticism. “And who’re you?” 

“Oh my, please excuse my rudeness. I am Sinclair. This is my club. Any other questions?” He asked in a heavy accent. 

The blonde rolled her eyes. “We’re going to have to turn you down on the offer. It looks expensive.” A blatant lie. Money was rarely a concern to the Archer family. 

“No, no! As I said, it's on the house! I insist, mademoiselles, please try it. You will not regret it for a minute.” He smirked. 

“What even is it?” Ripley asked, examining it further. 

“It is Party Poison. A hit new drink exclusive to my club, and my club alone. It’s rather addictive, but I assure you it’s in a good way. Please, take a sip. Just one sip.” 

Marina waved her hand. “Back off, okay? We’ll try the damn drink. Just give us a bit of privacy, ey? We’re trying to have a conversation.” 

He smirked, nodding his head. “Of course, of course. Please, just let the bartender know if you need any refills. Like I said, it is quite addictive.” 

“Mhmm, bug off.” She mumbled under her breath. Once he was gone, she groaned. “Men.” She said in exasperation, picking the drink up. 

“Who needs ‘em?” Ripley laughed a bit, picking hers up as well. 

“They’re fine enough when they’re not trying to woo me. Honestly.” She took a sip of her drink. Her face lit up the moment it hit her taste buds. “Oh. Wow.” She laughed a bit. “You know, this is actually pretty good.” She admitted. 

Ripley was still just gently swirling hers around in one hand. “I think I might slow down. Otherwise I might decide to do something I’ll regret.” 

Marina took another sip. “That thing has a name, you know. And its feelings are hurt.” She joked, eyes rolling up as she swallowed the party poison. “Bloody hell, this is actually incredible. I’ve never tasted anything like it.” 

The agent put her glass down. “I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” 

The blonde looked at Ripley with suggestive eyes. She scooted a little closer on her barstool, resting a hand on the woman’s thigh. “You know… I was honest about not doing something like that here. But I wanna emphasize that it’s not you. It’s France.” She purred. 

Ripley felt herself getting a little hot. Sure, she was attracted to Marina. That much was a given. But she was truly hesitant to get involved with someone so… out of her world. It was hard to put into words. A british millionaire? What would they even have in common? Still, the hand on her thigh was awfully inviting. She cleared her throat. “I’ve never understood the hate myself. This place doesn’t seem dirty or anything.” She blushed, trying to diffuse the situation. 

“Shhh.” Marina placed a finger on Ripley’s lips, leaning closer. “Just… Indulge me for a moment. It’s been an awfully long week, and I think I found a way to calm us both down.” 

She closed her eyes, bringing her face closer and closer to the agent’s. As her lips parted slightly, Ripley couldn’t help but look down at them. That’s when she noticed something unnatural. In fact, it was downright horrifying. A pair of tiny blue legs were wriggling inside the woman’s mouth! Ripley narrowed her eyes, seeing a figure moving inside. Then, she saw another. 

There were little humanoids crawling around Marina’s mouth. The very same mouth she wanted to kiss the agent with. The American tensed up for a moment, unsure of what to do. As Marina drew closer, Ripley felt cornered. She clenched a fist, surging it with electricity. Then, she punched Marina right in the jaw, sending the girl falling right off her stool and onto the floor. 

What!?” She shouted in surprise, slamming into the floor. She let out a loud groan. “Okay… Alright…” She moaned in pain. “Got it. Message received. I’ve seen through your subtle cues and have deduced that you do not want to kiss me.” 

“It’s not that!” Ripley stood up defensively. “You’ve got something in your mouth! Something blue!” 

Marina raised a brow, exploring her own mouth with her tongue curiously. “I don’t feel anything? Did the Party Poison make my tongue blue? I gotta say, that’s the weirdest way I’ve ever been cockblocked.” 

“Nobody’s been cockblocked, Marina! Your cock has not been blocked! I’m being serious.” The agent shouted. 

“Message received.” The blonde stood up, brushing herself off. 

Ripley was this close to losing it. Marina wasn’t listening to her. Why not? Was she too drunk? That’s when it hit her. The Party Poison. The blue drink. Could it have been the cause of the blue people crawling around the woman’s mouth? She grabbed the tall glass and analyzed it closely. Then, she sent a small shockwave through the entire glass with Electric Lady. When she focused very carefully, she could hear tiny cries coming from the cup. Then, she witnessed the horror of seven little bodies rising to the top of the water. Little blue men… No, not men. They were Stands. 

The drinks were spiked with Stands. 

She dropped the glass, allowing it to shatter against the floor. The agent stumbled away from Marina and the drink. Marina. She’d consumed the Stand! What was the effect? There had to be an effect. Ripley’s mind wandered to the user. That’s when it hit her. That shady Sinclair. He had to be the one. He was spiking his club’s drinks with his own Stand. She wanted to hurl at the very thought. 

“What are you doing, Ripley?” The blonde tilted her head in confusion. 

She wasn’t listening to Marina anymore. She needed to confirm something. She had to use Electric Lady in a way she despised. A way she swore to never use. It was just too important. She focused her Stand on a certain type of electricity. The type that fires off in the human brain every second. 

Electric Lady has a total comprehension of electricity. It can also interpret said electric waves in a near-supernatural way. Her Stand could read the data off of a flash drive with a single touch. Information that is transferred through electricity can be interpreted by Ripley’s Stand. That includes brainwaves. When she focused, Ripley was able to read the thoughts of people around her. She took a deep breath, scanning the room. 

Normally if she tried to read an entire room’s mind it would resemble white noise, or the sound of a crowded city street. It jumbles into an incoherent mess that one can easily identify as speech, but is unable to pick out any exact conversations. However, this room was different. Electric Lady could hear only one frequency. Every single person in the room was having nearly identical thoughts. 

Have a good time. Have a good time. Keep having a good time. Party. Party. 

It grew too loud in her mind, so Ripley shut it off. What could that mean? Literally everyone was having the same obsessive thoughts about partying at the same time? That’s when it struck her. Party Poison could control minds. It was brainwashing. A literal interpretation of drinking the kool-aid. Her eyes widened as she looked around. She was completely surrounded. If they realized she knew, it would be over. That’s when Marina’s hand rested on her shoulder. 

“Ripley, let’s dance.” She purred, pulling the agent toward the massive crowd. 

That’s why everyone was dancing in perfect harmony. They were all being controlled by Sinclair’s Party Poison! The agent pulled away from her friend rather suddenly. She didn’t know what to do. She’d heard about Stand battles. The Speedwagon foundation had a comprehensive log of every known Stand reported during de-briefings. She’d read the files. She knew the fights. The only difference was she had never been the one in danger. 

Marina smiled, placing a hand on her hip. “What’s wrong? Isn’t this club great?” 

Sweat trailed down Ripley’s back as her eyes darted around. That’s when she noticed Sinclair dancing with a few girls on the far side of the club. She was getting so overwhelmed by her current situation that Electric Lady began acting up. The lights flickered, and the speakers burst, leaving the club without music. This caused everyone to turn and face her. 

Sinclair looked at the woman with a curious expression. “The American?” He mumbled, strutting over. “What’s the problem, honey? Dear? Sweetheart? Is everything alright?” 

Ripley snarled, clenching her fists. “I know what you’re doing here.” 

He rested a hand over his heart. “Your words sting, my dear. What do you think I’m doing besides providing a lovely environment for people to kick back and relax?” 

“You’re controlling these people’s minds, Sinclair.” She growled. 

He raised a brow, turning a little paler than usual. He never dreamed that someone would be able to detect his Party Poison. In fact, everyone he tried to show claimed they couldn’t even see it. That’s why he was so confident spiking the drinks. How could this American tart have seen right through his plan? 

He snickered, getting a grip of his emotions. “So what if I’m controlling their minds? It’s innocent enough. They go home, they work, make love to their spouses, take the kids to school, etcetera etcetera! My only influence is that they come to my club at least four times a week, and spend a little money. Is that so bad? In a way, I’m bringing them joy.” 

“How much is that Party Poison drink? You know, the second round. After you’ve got them hooked.” 

“Well conversion isn’t exactly my forte, but I’d venture to guess it’s around… Sixty American dollars? Maybe less.” 

For one drink!?” Ripley shouted. 

“It’s a good drink! I only serve the best! You’re not very cultured if you think sixty dollars is too much for a fine drink! These people are happy. I care for them.” 

The Agent gave him a dark look. “Well, it really isn’t your lucky day. If we hadn’t decided to get a drink, your operation would go on forever. Maybe until it was too late to stop.” She stepped forward. “I can’t let that happen.” 

He scowled at her. “My word, you really are a pest, aren’t you? Unfortunately, it seems to be an uneven fight. I see about seventy people here, don’t you? Attention party-goers! This woman right here wants to send everyone home!” He shouted. 

Ripley watched as a crowd of angry drunks booed at her from all angles. They began to circle around her, trapping her in a ring of criticism. She could barely see Sinclair through the mob. “Stop this now! Before I hurt somebody!” She demanded. 

“Can’t hear you over all the mobbing, sorry dear!” 

She took a deep breath as they grew closer and closer. She flexed her fists a few times, gritting her teeth. Well, she’d try not to hurt any of them too bad. One man grabbed her by the shoulders. She flipped him over her body and into three other attackers. Then, she spun around and kicked a woman in the stomach. Someone grabbed her foot, so she sent a surge of electricity through it. While they were shocked, she punched them right in the face. 

A large man came in with a stool, smashing it over the agent’s head. She fell to the ground in pain, covering herself in case the assailant continued. A firm foot stomped on her back, shoving her further into the floor. People began to relentlessly kick at any part of her body they could reach. Action movies weren’t realistic. A badass can’t just take on a mob of seventy people with kicks and flips alone. Eventually, they’re overrun. 

“That’s right! Punish her! Someone, grab a Party Poison! Make her drink it!” Sinclair giggled in delight as his mob fought his battle. 

They began to pile onto the woman, crushing her under their weight. Someone grabbed her head and lifted it up. She was presented with a glass of Party Poison. She could see the foamy blue men waiting to dive deep into her mouth and control her like the others. She trembled, letting out a primal cry of rage and distress. She didn’t want to do it, but she had to use her Stand on the mob. 

“Please… Nobody die.” She begged, closing her eyes. 

Every light in the club burst. Cell Phones exploded in people’s pockets, watches melted on their wrists. They started to scream. It all became too familiar. Too much like that awful night. The screams, the sound of glass shattering, the rising heat… Ripley’s mind couldn’t help but fall captive to the similarities. She could picture that night with perfect accuracy. It was almost like she was there. 

The graduation was ruined. Her speech was cut short by the catastrophic manifestation of her worries. People ran out as quickly as they could while others hid beneath their chairs. The school resource officer drew his gun and tried to find the source of the commotion. Everyone was moving except for two people: Raven Bree Ripley, and Dr. Jotaro Kujo. He walked up to her in the mayhem, a stoic expression on his face as he towered over her. 

“Why are you disrupting this ceremony? Are you unhappy with the school?” He asked calmly. 

Ripley was baffled. “H-How do you know it’s me?” She questioned. 

“There was guilt on your face the minute it all started. Why are you doing this? Isn’t it supposed to be your big break or something?” He said loudly so she could hear him over the screams. 

“I’m not trying to! It’s just happening! I can’t stop it!” She admitted, tears welling in her eyes. 

“I see.” He looked around. It was getting harder and harder to see as every piece of technology in the windowless room was destroyed. “What a terrifying power.” He said just as calmly as before. 

“I’m sorry.” She whimpered, falling to her knees. Everything her life had been leading up to was destroyed. 

“Sorry?” Jotaro questioned. “Sorry for what? You said you’re not doing this on purpose.” 

“But… Everyone’s so scared.” 

“No one’s hurt. The panic will end, and they’ll all go home. The only person in this building I have an ounce of concern for is you, Raven.” 

She wiped her eyes, looking up at him in the dim lighting. “Call me Ripley.” 

He nodded, reaching into his pocket. “I have to make a phone call, Ripley, but if you ever need professional assistance with this problem, call this number.” He handed her a card. 

She could barely read it. If she squinted, she could make out the word “Speedwagon” in big bold letters. When she looked up, he was gone. She looked around frantically, but he’d disappeared into the crowd. She was left alone with the mess she caused. 

 

This situation was different. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t lose control. She just remembered how calm Jotaro was during all that chaos. She wanted to be like that. He never even knew it, but he was her most influential role model. She had to do what he would do. She had to save everyone. She was done being a security jockey for some bogus organization. She was done playing the sideline, waiting for her life to begin. She’d had it. She was going to stop Sinclair, kill Blondie, and achieve her dreams. Anything short of that would mean death. There wasn’t an ounce of doubt in her heart. 

Her body began to static even more, and she sent out a shockwave of energy. The mob was sent flying away from her. Everyone landed safely with only a few broken bones among the entire crowd. Static energy surged through her entire body, causing her eyes to radiate a blue shine. She growled at Sinclair, gritting her teeth. 

For a single moment, the man actually looked like he was going to surrender. However, he realized something. His eyes widened, and he began to laugh violently. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he laughed and laughed and laughed. He wheezed, snot dripping from his nose as he wailed in joy. “You!” He giggled. “You absolute fool! My power might not be as combative as yours… But maybe hers is.” 

That’s when Ripley remember one key detail that nearly went overlooked. Marina had consumed Party Poison. The blonde stepped between Ripley and Sinclair with dangerous eyes. She pointed at the agent, Bubblegum Bitch manifesting behind her. 

“You could make this easier and drink up.” Marina said in a low, hollow tone. 

She really couldn’t. Despite the odds, she had to find a way to save them both. She took a deep breath and assessed her surroundings. There was only one way to go about it. She had to take Marina down. She ran forward, anticipating a Stand attack. Bubblegum Bitch swung its bat, and Ripley ducked underneath. She kicked Marina in the gut. A moment later, the woman’s skin rippled, flinging the kick right back at Ripley. 

She groaned in pain, stumbling back. Well, it seemed Marina was immune to blunt trauma, and she doubted her ability to dodge that bat twice. This time it was Marina who advanced first. Ripley stepped back, but was still struck in the arm. It slumped over in a sticky, boneless state. She nearly got hit directly in the head, but managed to fall out of the way in time. 

Agent Ripley was lying helplessly on the ground. She tried to stand, but her wounded arm was stuck to the floor. She couldn’t pull it free. She swallowed heavily, staring up at Marina. She realized that they were in two completely different leagues. Marina was insanely powerful, and she’d barely had her Stand for three days. Ripley had been honing her abilities for her entire life. The gap between their strength was too grand. 

Marina grabbed a glass of Party Poison and straddled Ripley. Bubblegum Bitch stuck all of Ripley’s limbs to the floor, incapacitating her completely. Then, she shoved her head back against the cold tiled dancefloor, freezing it in place as well. Ripley couldn’t resist at all. Marina pried the woman’s mouth open and poured the drink inside. She poured the entire glass all over Ripley’s face, a majority of it landing within her mouth. 

It was all over. Sinclair had won. His stand invaded both women and successfully took control. He laughed in absolute bliss, clapping his hands. “That’s right, Marina! That’s exactly right! Good girl! Both of you are such good girls! Now, stand up! C’mon now.” 

Marina released her power from Ripley, allowing both of them to stand. They awaited further orders. Sinclair was positively giddy. “Oh my, my word. That was something, wasn’t it?” 

Silence. 

Wasn’t it!?” 

“Yes, it was.” Ripley answered obediently. 

“Very much something.” Marina chimed in after. 

Sinclair couldn’t help but smirk. “Very good. Very, very, very good. Very very very good! Oh yes! This is good! With the two of you, my goals seem so much closer!” 

“What is our goal?” Marina asked in a dull tone. 

“Well, we’re going to become the most popular club in France, naturally! The people will wait for weeks just to get in! Drinks will cost over one-hundred euros! Everyone will know my name!” He proudly proclaimed. 

“Very good, Master.” Ripley smiled. 

He grinned. “Oh yes, I like that. And we’ll have more beautiful women drinking Party Poison, of course. Why don’t you two go ahead and continue what you were doing before this whole fight began? I was watching so intently, after all.” 

Marina knew what that was. She was about to kiss Ripley. She was surprised to feel the woman cup her face and bring her body closer. She closed her eyes, kissing the agent. 

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 

The blonde’s eyes widened as electricity surged through her body. Electric Lady was sending a shockwave directly into Marina’s mouth. She was still in a rubber-state from the fight, so she wasn’t getting hurt. However, something was. 

Ripley pulled away from the kiss, letting go of Marina and sighing. “Son of a bitch, it worked.” She groaned anxiously. 

Sinclair’s smile faded. “What? Excuse me, Ripley dear, I didn’t tell you to use your power on me.” 

The agent strutted up to Sinclair with a smile on her face. He grinned right back. “Darling, I’m not mad. You just can’t do such shocking things without my per-” 

He was interrupted by Ripley punching him right in the face. His front teeth came out, and blood spattered onto the wall. He fell to the floor, cupping his face. “AGH! Fuck! I think I broke my nose! What is the meaning of this!? Ripley! You are to obey me! ’ He whined pathetically. 

She towered over him with a menacing stare. “I never drank your Stand, you dumb prick.” She growled. 

“B-But! But! But I watched you swallow!” 

“The drink, yeah. It tasted pretty good. I used my Electric Lady to destroy Party Poison in my mouth before swallowing. Liquid conducts electricity. Your poor little guys were swimming in a death trap.” She explained grimly. 

“Then… Then why’d you kiss Marina!?” He questioned, cowering back further against the wall. 

“Because I killed the Party Poison in her mouth too. You’re defenseless.” 

Sinclair stammered pathetically. “T-That’s not true! Marina! Marina darling! Tell Ripley she’s lying. Tell her that you’re still mine!” 

The blonde’s shoes clicked against the dance floor as she approached. She glared down at him, nose wrinkling in anger as Bubblegum Bitch slung its bat over its shoulder. She put her hands into her pockets, spitting onto the floor. “I never want a man inside me again.” She growled. 

Sinclair let out a horrified wail, tears pouring down his cheeks. “Wait! WAIT! I can give you money! This club is small, but it brings in so much money! How much do you want!? Just tell me what you want! Please, please, please tell me what you want!” He sobbed. 

Ripley scowled. “Look, he pissed his pants.” 

A wet spot formed in Sinclair’s dress pants right on the crotch. Marina groaned. “Fucking hell. I thought he was so sexy while under his control. Stands are scary.” She mumbled. 

“You’re not answering me!” He pounded his fists against the floor. “Just give me a number!” 

Ripley kicked him in the face. Then, she brought her boot down, stomping his hand against the floor. She smeared it left and right, breaking a few fingers. “Zero.” 

Bubblegum Bitch swung its bat, striking Sinclair right in the center of his chest. It swung over and over again, pummeling the poor man to a battered, bloody pulp. He was stuck to the wall now, unable to move an inch. His body twitched uncontrollably, bent in odd directions. Marina walked over to the bar, hopping over the counter and grabbing an expensive bottle of whiskey. She swished it around, smirking. “I’m keeping this.” 

Ripley squatted down to eye-level with the bloody man, glaring into his very soul. “You’d better hope you don’t become rich and famous.” She growled in a serious, deadly voice. “Because if I ever hear about your little club again, you’re finished. Understand? Anywhere in the world. Anywhere online. If I hear about you, I’ll come back, and I’ll kill you.

He sobbed, attempting to nod his head. “No more mind control! I’m sorry! No more clubbing! I’ll go back to university! I’ll go back! Just please don’t hit me again.” 

Ripley stood up, clearing her throat. “Well, that settles that. C’mon, Princess.” 

Marina had grabbed another large bottle while Ripley threatened the little man. She walked toward the door with a grin. “You got it.”

Sinclair sniffled. “W-Wait. You’re not unsticking me!?” 

Marina shrugged. “I’m sure it’ll wear off in a few hours. Just sit there and think about what you’ve done, or something.” 

And with that, they were gone. 

 

Sinclair: Age 27, 5’5 and 125lbs. 

Retired.

 

Ripley and Marina got out of the taxi about a mile’s walk from the Valkyrie. They walked in silence for a bit. Eventually, the blonde stopped. Ripley turned her head curiously. 

“What’s wrong?” 

She frowned. “Back there… I need you to know that I tried to kiss you because of Sinclair. I’d never just… do that when you seemed flustered or unwilling.” 

A gentle smile formed on the agent’s face. “I knew that. Don’t worry. We’re cool.” 

Marina still seemed a little upset. “I just want you to know that I don’t view you as some sort of fling, or a challenge to be conquered, or something ridiculous like that. I think you’re really great, and I’d like to get a drink again under less-deadly circumstances. So just… You know, please disregard any-” She let out a squeak as Ripley interrupted her with a kiss. 

It was a brief embrace, hardly even lasting a second. Perhaps it was just to make the girl shut up. Her pale cheeks flushed pink as she covered her mouth subconsciously. She stared at the agent, feeling frozen in place. Even though Electric Lady wasn’t active, she still felt little surges of excitement. Her chest felt heavy, and she couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. 

“I didn’t say any of that. Don’t break yourself with obsessive thinking, okay Princess? We went out, we got drinks, now I’m walking you back to your military-grade fighter jet. You don’t have to read into it. This is good.” She smiled, patting Marina’s arm. 

The blonde lowered her hand from her lips, clearing her throat. “Right. Of course. Drinks were nice. Now let’s get back before the others. We don’t want them to know we snuck off, do we?” 

“Gotta guard the self-aware invisible plane. Otherwise, who will?” Ripley chuckled a bit, taking Marina’s hand as they walked down the dirt path. 

Bloodshed aside, it was a pretty good night. 

 

Chapter Text

Home. A very simple word, really. In its most basic form, it merely refers to the place an organism dwells for most of their recreational time. Everyone has a different definition of home, though. Some people view it as a city. Others see it as a group of people. Philosophers often ask what can define “home,” but such a simple question really shouldn’t be dissected too thoroughly. To Blondie, home was the place she could let her hair down and be herself. That meant, for the time being, that her home was the Red Eden sector of the Speedwagon Foundation’s underground base. 

The subdermal catacombs housed many mysteries. Most members of the organization barely had the clearance to know there was an underground. The few lucky enough to be allowed down were still kept in the dark in regards to its true secrets. There was a small base hidden away that even fewer knew of. 

Red Eden was comprised of under twenty people at the moment. Though, that count was actually a bit outdated since the death of several members. Blondie didn’t worry in the slightest, though. She knew she would accomplish her plans. The Joestars fluttered away into the night, but they would come back. She would have that feather. It was only a matter of time. 

She relaxed in her chair, looking up at the ceiling of her Eden Office. This room was different from her actual office above ground. She usually came down to think, or to organize activities for her underlings. She was currently contemplating her next move. No one from the Foundation would recognize her as Madam Dolly anymore. Of course, there were pictures from decades prior that could prove her identity. That wasn’t the problem. The issue was whether or not she should take the time to explain her new form to the useless pencil-pushers upstairs. 

The door opened slowly after a brief knock. Blondie’s eyes drifted over, meeting with the operative who dared disturb her. 

“Yes?” She asked in a dry tone. 

“She’s being difficult again, Ma’am.” She uniformed guard said with concern. 

Blondie nodded her head, standing up and passing right through the man as well as the door.

 His eyes widened at her power. She had just phased directly through him. No, that wasn’t right. The very composition of his body morphed to suit her. Every skin cell, every drop of blood, his very soul , it all changed to suit Blondie’s whim. His body became nothing more than air around her. The guard’s breathing hitched suddenly, and his heart nearly beat right out of his chest. He fell to his knees, letting out a small whimper. Sweat dripped down his back as he watched her walk down the hall. The elegant woman had a certain sway to her hips, but that didn’t detract from the pride in her steps. She was utterly oozing confidence and power. He just thanked his lucky stars that she didn’t want him dead. There would be nothing he could do. He decided then and there that he’d sooner kill himself than upset his boss. That was simply the effect Blondie had on people.

She walked into a dark room with two armed guards. There was a dead man on the floor, and the two living ones were screaming. They waved their guns like flags and ordered their comrade’s killer to stay still. Their screams weren’t directed at a man, or a monster. No, their screams were directed at a long, willowy woman sprawled on the floor. She was nibbling on the dead man’s hand as the armed guards barked. 

The moment the woman’s eyes met Blondie’s, she ceased. She dropped the hand from her mouth and smiled. 

“Your Grace!” She squealed. 

DON’T FUCKING MOVE!” The guard wailed. 

Blondie raised a hand to the security officers. “Leave us. I’ll handle this.” 

There was confusion and grief in their eyes, but they complied. Being a guard for the Eden sector paid twice as well as the others, but it came with a price. You were never to ask any questions. Your memory of the workday was also stored in a drive by the entrance. You were allowed to obtain your work memories at the start of each day, but had to retire them to the proper storage tanks before you were allowed to leave. Blondie took no chances. 

Once they were alone, she got down onto one knee, looking at the woman with disappointment. 

“Sabella.” She frowned, speaking in a soft voice. Her tone the type one would use if their pet peed on the carpet, but knew it was their own fault for not letting them use the bathroom. “Why did you kill this man?” 

The deceased guard was lying flat on his back. His guts had burst from his chest in an odd gradient of colors. His chest cavity was wide open, and it seemed as if a few bites had been taken from him. This caused Blondie to raise a brow. 

“He poked me in the back with his rifle, Your Grace. It startled me.” Sabella admitted. 

Sabella was very tall, standing at six-foot-nine. Her body was malnourished, and her ribs were visible. Her limbs were all a little too long, and her scarlet hair was frayed, unkempt, and greasy. 

“Why are there bite marks? Do you eat people now?” 

“Well… Not exactly. When his stomach burst, I got a bit in my mouth. It tasted weird, but cooked! So I wanted to try another bite in case I liked it.” 

“Did you enjoy it?” 

Sabella frowned. “Nah. Now I’m messy.” 

Blondie smiled fondly, summoning Rapture. The blood and gore slowly shifted, turning to water and washing the woman clean. She patted Sabella’s head, snapping her fingers. Rapture took the large chains that were attached to the wall and locked them around the tall woman’s body. When they were in place, the chains receded, pulling Sabella against the wall and keeping her in place. 

“Your Grace?” She asked softly. 

“Yes, dear?” 

“I.. Did a good job in Paris, right?” 

“Yes, you did a wonderful job. You kept such control and only did as I instructed.” 

The restrained woman frowned. “Then why do I have to go back into the chains?” 

Blondie walked closer, kneeling at eye-level with Sabella. She fixed the woman’s long hair, cleaning it with her Stand as well. She pet the girl’s cheek, rubbing it with her thumb. 

“You killed this guard, didn’t you? And you killed two members last week. You’re not in control of your actions. Once you’re better trained, you can walk around wherever you like.” 

“Can I have another mission soon? I loved being outside.” 

“Not yet, my sweet.” Blondie kissed the woman’s forehead. “Sleep. Sleep until I come for you again. Can you do that?” 

Sabella pouted, but nodded her head. “Anything for You, Your Grace.” 

Blondie stood up, clapping her hands softly. “It won’t be long now. Everything will be different in just a few short days. Perhaps you’ll wake to the new world.” She said soothingly, placing Rapture’s hand on Sabella’s head. Her Stand shifted the chemical balance in the woman’s brain, raising the levels of melatonin. 

The woman fell into a deep slumber, unable to harm anyone for the time being. Once she was sure the girl was asleep, Blondie rubbed the bridge of her nose. She exited the room, pointing to one of the guards. “Call the cleanup crew. And please, don’t startle her next time. The Sabella Protocol is very specific.” She mumbled, leaving the room. 

Once she was out of earshot, the other guard scoffed. 

“Specific? It’s only one rule.” 

“Don’t piss Sabella off.” The first guard recounted. 

When Blondie arrived back in her office, she saw a large hooded man sitting in front of her desk. 

“Ah, Mortimer, you’re back too. How was she?” She asked. 

“Only killed one additional person. Nothing to be worried about. I think the message was clear, too. Piaf’s place was quite the spectacle when we left.” 

She nodded. “Good. And how is she progressing in her training?” 

“Amazingly. I’d say she can be ready within the month with minimal casualties.”

Blondie sat down in her large chair, closing her eyes and nodding. “Good, good. Anything else?” 

He cleared his throat, looking for a respectful way to continue. “If I may, Ma’am, what’s our plan for the Joestars? Should I get ready to mobilize?” 

“No.” Blondie opened her eyes, resting her chin on her clasped palms. “We’re sending the new recruits. They have a history with Jotaro and Joseph and want a chance at payback.” 

“The brothers? Do we think they can actually get the feather?” 

Blondie’s glossy lips curled into a sickly grin. “No. But wouldn’t it be nice if they killed one of them while they tried?” 

 

Shizuka was in a deep sleep on the Kujo balcony. She was in a state between waking and dreaming that had become very common in decent days. She recognized it immediately. The blue void… She was being shown another vision by The Circle Game. She prepared herself for whatever strange, nonsensical scene she’d be presented with next. The girl had already surrendered herself to ending up with more questions at the end. 

The void around her slowly shifted, presenting Shizuka with a dark gloomy night. The scenery was foreign to her, but she could tell it was different from wherever the previous vision took place. She recognized the architecture of the buildings and streets. It appeared to be somewhere in Italy. She didn’t really know any cities in the country besides Rome and Venice. Still, it was just how she remembered them from the movies she watched growing up. 

The focus drifted to a young blond man in his twenties walking down the quiet stone path. He had brilliant golden curls in his hair, piercing green eyes, and wore a fashionable dark black suit that was cut in the shape of a heart to reveal his shaven chest. There was a diamond stud in his right ear, and an expensive gold ring on his left hand. Something about him seemed oddly familiar. Shizuka knew this was ludicrous because she’d never even been to Italy. 

A faint sob could be heard from a nearby alley He turned his head curiously, walking over to it. He was shocked to find an injured little girl crying all alone. She was clutching her own bloody stomach as snot trailed down her face. Each sob caused her injury to hurt even worse than before. The peaceful man knelt down in front of the girl. 

“Are you alright, little one?” He asked in a tone that would soothe even the most feral of beasts. 

She looked up at him with an empty, hollow stare. “My Dad…” She sniffled, still holding herself. “They took my dad. And they-” She winced in pain, coughing violently. “They cut me bad. Is it really bad? You can tell me. I wanna know.” She sniffled. 

The girl couldn’t be much older than Shizuka. It broke her heart to see such a thing. However, the same question rang in her mind. Why am I seeing this? What was the purpose? Was The Circle Game only meant to show her suffering? 

The young man rested his hand on the girl’s bleeding stomach. There was a beautiful, radiant golden glow. She squirmed underneath his hand, crying out in a fit of fleeting pain. It didn’t last long, though. A moment later she was completely healed. Blood still stained her body as well as his hand. Still, she was completely shocked. Her hands tapped and rubbed all over her stomach looking for the wound, but it was no more. Tears of joy replaced the sobs of pain. 

“M-Mister, how’d you do that?” 

He smiled softly. “Don’t worry about that. The men who took your father, I want to hear about them. Will you tell me what you know?” 

She considered it for a moment, biting her lip. “People who talk in this neighborhood get cut even worse than me. I don’t want to put myself in danger.” 

He gave her a serious look. “I can assure you that nobody will hurt you. Whoever did this is working alone. I can have them taken care of.” 

His words intrigued Shizuka. He didn’t promise to take care of it. His words were explicitly clear. He’d have it taken care of. Hence, he had people working for him that could resolve violent problems. He seemed awfully young to have such connections. 

The little girl nodded, still anxious. “W-What’s your name, Mister?” 

He lifted her chin so they were looking into each other’s eyes. Then, he lifted a flower up out of thin air, presenting it to her. The rose blossomed, growing into an even bigger beauty right before her very eyes. 

“Giorno Giovanna. My passione flows through this country, giving it life. If you or anybody else need a savior, I’ll be there.” 

 

Shizuka’s eyes opened slowly. For a moment, she had no idea where she was. However, a familiar scent quickly put her at ease. She knew exactly what was happening. She was being carried in Joseph’s arms. The young girl let out a yawn, burying her face in his chest. This was a regular occurrence even as she got to be ten years old. She’d regularly fall asleep on the living room couch and find herself to be in bed the next morning. 

It slowly dawned on her that she wasn’t being taken to the warm comfort of her bed, nor the safety of her room. No, she was hundreds of miles from her home. She wearily came back to reality, pulling her face from her father’s chest and looking around. They were walking into the Valkyrie once more. She stretched, wiping her eyes. Her ears finally started to register the words being spoken around her. 

“That’s too bad.” Jotaro mumbled. “What’s the plan then?” 

Joseph just sighed. “I don’t know. The medicine seemed to help a little bit, but he’s not waking up. I’ll be honest, I’m worried.” 

That completely woke Shizuka up. 

“Josuke’s not cured!?” She squeaked, squirming to be put down. 

She saw Marina, Ripley, Pepsi and Shirlie sitting around the unconscious sergeant. They all had grim expressions. Her eyes quickly darted up to her father’s expectantly. Joseph rubbed the back of his neck. 

“Dr. Piaf was…” He looked for the right wording. 

Jotaro wasted no time in finishing the thought. “Dr. Piaf was killed by an unknown member of Red Eden. Gruesomely, I’ve heard.” 

Joseph groaned. “Jotaro! My daughter doesn’t need to know the details!” 

The other man just shrugged. “She’s not like most kids, Jiji. She deserves to know what’s going on. If you wanted her to be uninvolved you should have sent her with Maura.” 

“I wouldn’t have gone.” She said with certainty. 

“Exactly.” Jotaro nodded. “She’s a Stand User. A capable one, at that. We need all of the power we can get.” 

“Not to mention she was the only one who stood up to Santana. Everyone else ran away.” Marina chimed in. “Your kid’s tough as nails, gramps. She gave him a good beating.” 

Joseph rubbed the bridge of his nose anxiously. “Oh, for Pete’s sake, I just can’t picture my little girl fighting Santana of all things.” 

Shizuka had already moved past the conversation and took her place at Josuke’s side. She rested her hand on his forehead. He was still burning up, but his skin wasn’t bubbling like before. In fact, he seemed to be doing a little better. That’s when it clicked. The Circle Game came through for her. It wasn’t useless. She saw exactly what she needed to see.

“Italy.” She said to no one in particular. 

Jotaro was the first to hear. “Pardon?” He questioned. 

Shizuka looked up at the two men with confidence in her eyes. “Giorno Giovanna can heal my brother. We need to go to Italy. Right now.” She stood up like walking would get them there faster. 

No one knew who on Earth she was talking about. Nobody but Jotaro, that is. His skin turned pale when she uttered that name. He’d been keeping a close eye on Shizuka for the past week. She brought up Dio in Amsterdam the other day, claiming she had a dream about him. Now she knew the name of his bastard child? Nobody except top level intelligence at the foundation knew of Giorno Giovanna. He doubted that Ripley even knew. So how did his ten-year-old niece of all people know such a thing? 

Joseph was more confused than anything else. “Err, Giorno? Who’s that? Is he some kind of healer?” 

Marina raised a brow. “Why didn’t we hear about this before we flew all the way to Paris? Then, y’know, back to Florida?” 

Shizuka sighed. “I just learned about him. I don’t expect everyone to understand, but I’ve been having these weird dreams. Jotaro and Josuke know about them. I don’t really know what they mean, but they’ve never been so clear before. I just had a dream about an Italian healer named Giorno Giovanna. He even said that he’d help anyone in need. He called himself the savior, or something.” 

Joseph looked at Jotaro with skepticism. “Really, Jotaro? You didn’t mention this before?” He asked in a sour tone.

“Oh gimme a break, when have we talked for more than two minutes in the past week?” The biologist groaned. 

“It can’t be helped. We have to entertain this theory. Does anybody have a phone I can use?” Joseph looked around the group. 

Ripley shrugged, tossing her phone to the large man. “Can’t you use your own?” 

“Not for this. I need an accurate image. That means I need to go hard.” He took a deep breath, raising a firm hand up in the air. “ Hermit Purple!” 

His hand smashed right into the phone, destroying it instantly. Ripley screamed in a mix of shock and anger as the device was sent all over the Valkyrie. 

“What the fuck!? You wanted someone else’s phone because you were gonna destroy it!?” She screamed. 

Joseph wasn’t listening. He watched as the shards of glass from the broken screen aligned on the floor. After a moment they flickered with an image. It was a picture of a young blonde man sitting on a balcony overlooking a beautiful Italian city. Shizuka’s eyes widened. 

“That’s him! That’s Giorno Giovanna.” 

The man didn’t look anything like Jotaro remembered. His black hair was a golden blond, his meek expression was filled with confidence and pride. It was a total transformation. The last time he heard anything about the young man was in the early 2000’s. The Speedwagon Foundation notified him that the son of Dio had become the leader of Italy’s most prominent gang. He was worried, but they suddenly called in and said not to concern himself with it. Apparently, they had it on good authority that Giorno wasn’t a threat and Jotaro’s involvement would be bad for international politics. Knowing Blondie’s true nature changed his opinion on that. Perhaps he should have gotten involved. He needed to share what he knew. 

“I know of this man.” He said abruptly. 

All eyes were on him now. 

He cleared his throat. “Giorno Giovanna, or Haruno Shiobana, is a half-Japanese immigrant who spent a majority of his upbringing in Italy. He obtained a Stand Ability and joined the organized crime syndicate Passione in 2001. I had a good friend of mine check in on him and make sure he wasn’t a threat.” 

Joseph raised a brow. “What? Why would you look into this random gangster, Jotaro?” 

He took a deep breath. “Because Giorno Giovanna is the son of Dio.

There was silence. Half of the plane had never heard that name before. However, Agent Ripley, Shizuka, and most notably Joseph all hitched their breathing at the revelation. He just stared at Jotaro for a moment in disbelief. 

“Dio had children?” He asked in an eerily calm voice. 

Jotaro just nodded. 

“Okay.” Joseph mumbled. “And my daughter just had a vision about the son of the Joestar’s greatest enemy?” 

“He’s a Joestar himself, even if he doesn’t know it. He has the birthmark, and inherited his Stand when Dio pierced Jonathan Joestar’s body with the arrow.” 

The gears in Joseph’s brain were churning, nearly coming to a complete standstill as he attempted to process this information. “So, what you’re saying is, he’s actually the son of Jonathan? It was my grandfather’s body that caused the birth.” 

“Exactly.” Jotaro nodded. “Like I said, he’s not a danger. I’m just hesitant to go asking him for favors. He’s the leader of the most powerful mafia in the world. It’s hard to even justify calling them a crime organization. They’re practically the Italian government at this point. Dolly forbade me from ever looking into him. She said something about world politics hanging in the balance.” 

Marina finally had to ask, “Who the hell is Dio, and why does everyone look like they’ve seen a ghost?” 

Jotaro looked over at the blond with serious eyes. “Dio was a shitstain on the planet. I killed him. That’s the story.” 

“Well that’s nice and all, but it seems like there’s more to the story.” She muttered. 

Joseph sighed. “Dio is a complicated tale. He was born in the 1800’s, was adopted into my grandfather’s family, and eventually found a way to become immortal. He terrorized my bloodline for a century until Jotaro and I put a stop to it.” 

“But not before he knocked someone up.” Marina added.

The man just ran a hand through his brown hair and sighed. “Not before he knocked someone up.” He admitted. 

Shizuka was growing restless. “If this is true, that’s even better. Josuke is family! Of course Giorno will heal him!” 

Joseph was uneasy. “Or he’ll drink his blood.”

“No, Dio’s vampiric DNA had yet to overtake Jonathan’s body. As far as my intel goes, Giorno Giovanna is essentially 100% human.” 

Essentially.” Joseph muttered. “Maybe an overdrive will test that.” 

Children!” Marina barked. “Josuke’s hurt, and we don’t know how to fix it! He’s dying right now. Even if our only move is one we don’t like, we can thank our lucky stars it’s a move at all! I’m flying us to Italy. You can argue about it while we move.” 

Jotaro and Joseph felt a tinge of shame. Were they putting their fears before Josuke’s well-being? After a moment, Joseph nodded. “Okay. Let’s go then.” 

“That’s what I like to hear. Mandy, let’s get this show on the road!” 

The Valkyrie hovered above the ground for a moment before zipping out of sight. 

 

The boss of Passione sat on a throne of vines overlooking the city of Naples. It hung from the side of a building, allowing him to enjoy the gentle evening breeze. He had a glass of wine in his right hand, and a small bird rested on the index finger of his left. He was reading a fascinating piece of literature being suspended in front of his eyes by yet another living vine. That’s when the window beside him opened up. 

“Gio,” Guido Mista said quietly, trying not to disturb the boss. 

Giorno closed the book and handed a vine his drink. “Yes, Mista?” 

“An unidentified aircraft just entered the country. The Quirinal Palace wanted you to know.” 

The Quirinal Palace is the official office of Italy’s President, Giorgio Napolitano. Always sympathetic for another “ Gio”, Giorno set up relations with the president shortly after he took office. He explained Passione’s relationship with the Italian government and set strict expectations. The agreement was simple, the Quirinal Palace would keep Passione informed on international affairs and run any important decisions by Giorno before signing off on them. In return, Giorno kept the streets of Italy clean of drugs and violent crimes. It was a level of symbiosis originally believed to be impossible. However, Giorno Giovanna’s dream had no concern for the impossible. He made it happen all the same.

The boss nodded his head, ordering the vines to lower him through the window. He accepted his book and wine, causing the vines to return to their normal state. “I’ll obviously want to be kept up to speed with the whereabouts of this plane.” 

Mista nodded, always keeping his eyes lowered in respect. “Is that all?” 

“No.” Giorno said with a hint of concern. He looked out the window, resting a hand on the glass. “I felt something earlier. A strange sensation.” 

“Indigestion? I told you to cut back on the cheese, Gio.” 

A soft smile appeared on the boss’s face. He let out a brief chuckle before nodding his head. “Very funny. I’m being serious, though. It felt like someone was watching me.”

“Well, you were hanging from the side of a building as magic vines catered to you. I’m not surprised.” 

“Not like that, Mista. It was as if someone was staring right at me. They felt like they were mere centimeters away, maybe a meter at most. It felt personal.” 

“Personal?” The gunslinger lifted his head curiously. 

“Like family.” The boss admitted, tapping the window. “I don’t have any living family. That’s why I’m bothered by this.” 

“What do you want me to do, Gio?” Mista asked with devotion, willing to solve the problem by any means. 

The boss just hummed in contemplation for a moment. “See if Trish is in the country. I’d like to talk to her about family ties. If she’s on tour, set up a video call.” 

“Yes, Sir.” Mista turned and began walking to the door. 

Giorno snapped his fingers, taking another moment to consider. “One more thing. I want the arrow. Just in case. Something isn’t sitting right with me.” 

Mista nodded. He was definitely concerned, though. Giorno hadn’t used Gold Experience Requiem in over three years. If he was this worried, that meant it was serious business. 

“Of course, Gio. I’ll get it from Mr. Polnareff. Is that all?” 

Giorno sipped his wine, looking thoughtfully over his city. “That will be all, yes.” 

 

The Valkyrie landed in a field outside Naples in the early morning. The hatch lowered into the grass as morning sunbeams lit the inside of the ship. Joseph stepped out, stretching his arms and cracking his neck. 

“Okay. We’re not exactly in friendly territory right now. It’s probably best to leave Josuke here with someone. If this Giorno really wants to heal him, he can come back with us.” 

Shirlie nodded, staying seated beside Josuke. “Power wants to stay, so I guess we’ll be here.” She smiled. 

Pepsi just nodded, their arms crossed as they rested against the far wall. 

Marina stretched as well, letting out a satisfied groan. “I’m not on watch duty this time. I’m going to enjoy some sunlight. You coming, Jojo?” 

Shizuka nodded, giving Josuke one last glance before standing up. “Uh huh. We’re chasing my vision after all.”

Jotaro stepped off the ship, holding his hand over his eyes to protect them from the sun. “Giorno Giovanna probably knows we’re in Naples. There’s no use in searching for him. We’ll wait for him to find us. This man owns Italy. He has thousands of people willing to die for him. I bet there are eyes on us right now. The best thing to do is to put ourselves in a public space and wait.” Jotaro adjusted hit hat as he looked toward the city. 

“So what’re we supposed to do in the meantime?” Shizuka asked.

“...I hear the food’s good here?” Marina suggested. 

There wasn’t exactly thunderous agreement, but nobody seemed to object either.

The crew found themselves at a local restaurant about twenty minutes later. Libeccio was the name. Little did they know, but they had selected the very restaurant that had been Passione territory for over a decade. They had a large table, all sitting around and waiting for their food to arrive. 

Outside Libeccio, two men stood across the street. One was tall, and one was short. They were huddled over a book in the shorter man’s grip. The taller one got closer, breathing heavily in anticipation. 

“Okay, Boingo, ” The older brother began. “What does your comic say? The god of knowledge, Tohth, who can never be wrong?” 

The younger brother was hesitant to open his comic too soon. “Remember, Oingo, we lost to them all those years ago because we didn’t trust Tohth one-hundred-percent. If we don’t listen, we’ll be the losers.” 

“Of course I remember, Boingo! We’re on a winning streak, though! Your comic told us about that Blondie lady! And now look at us! One final chance at revenge against that horrible Jotaro! The man who ruined our lives!” 

A sickly smile appeared on Boingo’s face. “Just imagining that no-good punk breathing his last breath… Ku-kee… Kukee, kuekekekekekekekeke!” He let out an unnatural laugh, clenching the comic in his hands tighter. 

“That’s right, Boingo!” He slapped his brother’s back. “So open it up! Let’s see their defeat!” 

The book opened up, and art began to manifest onto the blank page. Boingo smiled as he narrated the text out loud. 

“After numerous defeats throughout their lives, Oingo and Boingo were super sad! Waaaaaaaaa!” An image of the brothers crying in a hospital appeared. “They tried to move past that time in Cairo. They tried to be good! But every single time they tried they just got hurt again! Decades of loneliness and defeat! Boo hoo!”

A rather grotesque, lanky depiction of Blondie appeared next. “That’s when the Blonde Woman enlisted our help! She wants us to get the magic feather from that Marina girl! If we do, she’ll pay us ten million dollars! HOORAY! We’re rich!” 

Oingo nodded. “Uh huh! But what about the restaurant!? Am I going to sneak in wearing a disguise?” 

“Just hold on! Don’t interrupt the comic!” 

A blond man appeared on the page, walking into the restaurant. 

“They’re waiting for a man to arrive! A very important man that they need! And here he is! Giorno Giovanna! Ewwwww! But don’t worry!” The drawing of Giorno winked. “It’s actually big brother Oingo in disguise!!! Yippie!” 

Oingo grinned, pulling at the skin of his face for a moment. “That looks easy enough. Giorno Giovanna, ey? 

“They’re really super eager to see Giorno! They’re so happy, that they will do anything he says! Victory!!!!” 

The book closed itself. 

“Where’s the rest, Boingo? Once I can make them do anything I want, what happens after that!?” 

Boingo looked at the book thoughtfully for a moment. “Hmmm. It must still be too far in the future for my Tohth to see, yes. Once you get there, Tohth will update, yes.” 

“How will I know what the book says then!?” 

The smaller man reached into his backpack and pulled out a small earpiece. “I told you we were prepared this time, Oingo. Put this in. I’ll be able to update you on Tohth’s prophecy in real time, yes!” 

Oingo held the device with reverence, grinning ear to ear. “Ohhhhh yes, Boingo. Yes, yes, yes! With this futuristic technology, our power is unstoppable! We’ll finally destroy that no-good Kujo!” 

 

The meals seemed to be going without a hitch as Shizuka finished up her pasta. She looked around curiously. Was it really possible that they were being watched? It was difficult to imagine someone as powerful as Giorno Giovanna existing in the real world. She twirled her fork around the plate slowly, toying with her remaining food as she stared at the door. That’s when it opened. 

Shizuka’s eyes widened when she saw the one and only Giorno Giovanna walk right into the restaurant. He looked around for a moment before spotting the group. She put her fork down and looked over to Jotaro. It seemed he noticed the man as well. 

“Well, this is unexpected.” He mumbled under his breath. 

Giorno (actually Oingo) stood in the entrance awaiting his brother’s instructions. He didn’t want to do anything wrong. They only had one single precious shot at this. After a moment of white noise, he could hear the younger man’s instructions. 

“Okay, big bro, here’s the deal.” He began. “You need to convince them to leave the restaurant, yes. And then, once you’ve left, you lead them to the left and down the sidewalk, yes.” 

Oingo approached the crowded table confidently. He cleared his throat, looking to Jotaro. “Hello, I’m Digiornos.” He said with a smirk. 

Everyone raised a brow in confusion. By their expressions alone, Oingo knew he’d messed up. 

It’s Giorno! Giorno Giovanna, big bro! Not Digironos! Digiorno's is a brand of frozen pizza!” 

Oingo kicked himself mentally for making such a ridiculous mistake. He’d be able to recover from this. They didn’t even seem too confused. This wasn’t the end. It couldn’t be. The Oingo Boingo brothers were going to destroy the Joestars once and for all!

“...like the pizza?” Shizuka asked awkwardly. 

SHIT. 

That horrible little girl had completely blown Oingo’s cover. How could she do something so heinous? So petulant!? He’d make her pay. A slow death awaited anyone who dared get in Oingo’s way. He’d be sure of that. 

It took a moment to realize he’d been silent for too long. Jotaro was beginning to look suspicious. He had to say something, quick! 

“I’m Italian.” 

BAD. That was the wrong thing to say. He was really up shit creek. He could only take comfort in the fact that Tohth had already prophesized them following him outside. He just needed to play it cool. They feared him. They respected him. They needed him! 

“Anyway,” He cleared his throat. “I hear your group has been looking for me. Well, I’m here, in the flesh.” 

Nobody felt quite right about this. Despite that, they decided to play it cool as well for the time being. 

“Well, yes.” Joseph leaned back in his chair skeptically. “You wouldn’t happen to be the very Giorno Giovanna who runs Passione, would you?” 

Oingo waited with baited breath. 

“Yes.” Boingo said into the earpiece. 

“Yes, I am.” The older brother smiled. “And who might you be?” 

“Joestar, Joseph Joestar. Friends of your dad.” He said with dangerous eyes. 

The fake Giorno did his best to hide his shock. He remembered Joseph as a silver fox, and that was decades ago! How did he look so young? It didn’t matter. He needed to stay on target. He’d get his revenge yet. 

“Well, we can discuss all of that in a more…” He looked around. “..discreet location. Please, everyone, follow me. Bring your things. We won’t be coming back. 

The group gathered their belongings and followed Giorno out the door. Joseph had a nagging suspicion that something was amiss. His instincts were flaring up. He decided to be polite and play along for the time being. ‘Giorno’ lead them outside and to the left of the restaurant just as Tohth predicted. 

“Another prophecy, yes. You’re doing great so far, yes. Big brother Oingo leads the Joestars down the sidewalk for thirty seconds before noticing a bee pollinating a nearby flower.” 

Boingo’s voice fell silent for a moment. 

“Then Oingo grabs the bee and puts it right in his mouth before the Joestars can notice.” 

The imposter’s eyes widened, tears threatening to escape at the very thought of it. A bee? In his mouth!? He was allergic. Why in the world would Tohth predict something so cruel? If he didn’t have such absolute faith in his brother, he’d be freaking out. 

The pseudo-Giorno kept his composure as he walked down the sidewalk. After about thirty seconds he saw the bee in question. It was blood-boiling. He felt like he was going to throw up. Still, he had to be brave. He plucked the flower before anyone got a good look at it. The culprit raised the lovely flower up to his nose, pretending to sniff it. The bee was inches from his face as he did so. He stared into its vacant, soulless eyes and took a deep breath. Then, with absolute conviction he bit the flower’s top from the stem, flicking it aside. 

There was a bee in his mouth. 

Oingo felt as it flew around in confusion. To be perfectly frank, he was confused as well. Neither party were pleased with the current situation. Like any unhappy bee, it did what bees did best. The imposter felt as the insect’s stinger pierced the inside of his mouth. A sharp pain surged through his jaw. The damn bee stung him! Its venom seeped into his gums. 

“Say.” Jotaro mused quietly as he followed the gangster. “Mind if I ask where you’re leading us, Mr. Giovanna?” 

Oingo was in no position to speak. He kept silent, giving off the impression of a stoic mobster. 

Please let it end. He thought to himself pathetically, eyes watering. I want to cry. I seriously, seriously want to cry! It hurts so bad! 

This was no ordinary bee, either. You see, this bumble bee was very down on its luck. Humans have no way of knowing about such things, but bees can actually become very distressed with their home life. This particular bee was feeling insignificant due to its poor performance at bee-related activities as of late. Nothing delighted Beenard (the bee’s name is Beenard, a noble title among the Italian bee population) more than stinging annoying humans. He was a very psychopathic bee, you see. 

Beenard was currently shredding the inside of Oingo’s mouth more than a skateboarder on adderall. Still, the man was determined to see this through. 

“You’re doing good, brother, yes. You’re almost there, yes. Once you arrive at that alley at the end of the sidewalk, you’ll lead the Joestars into it.” 

Joseph stopped walking, causing the rest of the group to follow suit. He crossed his arms. 

“You know, Mr. Giovanna, I may be speaking entirely out of line here.” He narrowed his eyes, his thick brows accenting his deep brown gaze. “But I can’t shake the feeling that we’re being had. Your walk is all off.” 

My walk? Oingo questioned in his bee-infested head. He turned to face the group nervously. His expression was stone cold. 

“Maybe it’s nothing, but you don’t walk with purpose at all. You trudge around like your destination hardly matters at all. This is hardly becoming of a big mafia boss, right?” 

Oingo just stared into Joseph’s dangerous eyes, unable to defend himself due to the aforementioned bee situation. A bee-mergency, if you will. 

“What’re you saying, Gramps?” Marina rested a hand on her hip. She’d been feeling it too. For a moment she wondered if this was the real Giorno’s intern or something. He was absolutely dripping with anxiety and awkward body language. 

“I think Jiji’s suggesting that this is an imposter.” Jotaro said firmly. 

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. They knew. How did they know? 

Boingo, quick! Help me! Please! What does Tohth say!? 

That’s when he remembered that Tohth’s prediction was already set in stone. He was to lead the Joestars into the nearby alley. He took comfort in knowing that they’d make it that far. He just had to be brave. 

“Are you sure?” Shizuka asked with a frown. “We don’t really know him, and I think it’s rude to make that kind of accusation.” 

“You can’t impersonate a Stand.” Jotaro said in a low tone. “Giorno Giovanna’s Stand ability can create life. That’s what Koichi told me. Please, Mr. Giovanna, excuse our skepticism, but I’d be very happy to see an example of your Stand in action.” 

Oingo was completely fucked. How was he supposed to bring something to life? He didn’t have Giorno’s Stand. His stand, Khnum, could only mimic someone’s appearance and smell. That’s when all the pieces fit together. He understood what he needed to do. 

The imposter parted his lips slightly, allowing a bumble bee to fly freely into the outside world. It exited his mouth, flying around the group for a moment before going back to its utterly mundane life as a sociopathic bee. 

The Joestar party watched in awe as Giorno gave life to a bee from his own body. They were utterly convinced. Joseph frowned a bit, standing straighter as he cleared his throat. 

“I’m sorry, Mr. Giovanna. You’ll have to understand our paranoia.” He mumbled in defeat. 

Oingo smiled. “It’s quite alright, Joseph. You’re all on edge. Once we get out of the public eye, we can discuss your troubles.” 

Yes! I’ve done it, I’ve done it, I’ve done it! Fuck you, Joestars! Fuck you and your incessant, petulant skepticism! He rejoiced in his head. 

Tohth had once again come through for him. He knew he could trust his brother’s Stand. With a newfound sense of confidence Oingo lead the group into the predicted alley. He stood there for a moment awaiting instructions. 

Big brother successfully lead them out of sight, yes! Now he has them right where he wants them, yes! He just needs to keep them there! In exactly one minute, disaster will strike for the Joestars, yes!!” 

They were really doing it. They were going to win! He just had to keep them occupied for a little while longer. He looked around, putting his hands in his pockets. 

“So, why come all the way to Italy? Something must be wrong.” He asked casually. 

Shizuka clenched her fists. “We know you don’t know us very well, but we’re desperate. You can heal people, right? I had a vision about you helping a little girl with a stab wound. My brother is hurt. It’s bad, Mr. Giovanna.” She admitted with a frown. 

He lifted his head in recognition. “Ah, I see. So you want me to heal him?” 

“Yes! Please.” She begged. 

“We’re not happy about owning a crime organization a debt, but this is pretty much out last hope.” Joseph said in defeat. 

“What are his injuries?” 

“We’re not exactly sure. Severe internal burning?” Marina mumbled. 

“How did he get such a strange injury?” 

“The less you know, the better.” Joseph interrupted, crossing his arms. “We’re in some dangerous trouble, Mr. Giovanna. You’d better keep your distance for the safety of your organization.” 

Oingo stood there in contemplation for a moment. Every second he spent thinking was another second closer to their demise. 

“The comic is nearing its close! Big Brother successfully distracted the Joestars, yes! Now, they’re doomed, yes! In a few short seconds the building to the left of them will explode, yes! The bricks and flames will kill the entire Joestar party, yes! Jotaro, Joseph, Shizuka, Marina, Ripley, all dead, yes! And Big Brother Oingo survives the explosion, lucky!!!!”

The older brother’s eyes widened. Tohth had finally done it. Boingo’s predictions were one-hundred-percent absolute. They would come true no matter what. There would be an explosion, and the Joestars would die. This was fate. He couldn’t help but smile. 

“Big bro, we did it. We actually did it… Kue kee… Kue kee… kuekekekekekekekekekeke!” He laughed hysterically into the earpiece. 

Oingo knew they’d won. He was so pleased with himself that he grabbed his face and changed his form. 

“JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooestars!” He cried out in joy. “You’ve been utterly had! You’re all fools! This isn’t Giorno Giovanna. It’s me! Your arch enemy! Someone who’s been trying to destroy you for decades. It’s…” He fully morphed his face back to normal. “OINGO!” He screamed menacingly. 

“...who?” Joseph asked in confusion. 

“I’ve definitely never seen him before.” Jotaro mumbled. 

Oingo’s stomach sank when they said that. Come to think of it, the Joestars were never aware of their presence. That didn’t matter! They were now!

“This game is over, Joestars. I have thoroughly defeated you. My ally’s Stand, Tohth, had predicted your demise with one-hundred-percent certainty! It’s over!” 

Shizuka gritted her teeth. “So you can’t heal my brother?” She asked in a dark voice. 

“Your brother can get bent, kid! I hope he dies too!” 

She lifted her head, revealing her dangerous expression. “Then what are you even doing here?” She questioned. 

In a flash, Ultra Violet appeared in front of Oingo. His eyes widened in fear. The Stand was radiating power. He knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against it. 

No matter! Tohth already predicted that I’d be completely unharmed! I just need to wait another moment. 

“Hooooooooora!” Shizuka screamed, Ultra Violet balling a fist and swinging it at Oingo’s face. 

The confrontation was interrupted by an explosion. The wall to their side burst, sending everyone flying against the other end of the alley. 

The only thought going through Shizuka’s mind was that she had a terrible track record when it came to alleys. She’d have to avoid them from now on. 

Oingo was basking in victory. Despite the fact that his body was blown aside as well, he knew he would be okay. There was nothing but a smile on his face. 

That’s when the unthinkable happened. The flames and debris from the explosion froze in place. Then, they slowly reverted back to the building from which they came. Everything was restored to normal. The Joestars weren’t dead. They were very much alive. Shizuka’s eyes darted around in confusion. She was looking for Oingo. That’s when she saw a figure Standing at the far end of the alley. 

Giorno Giovanna. 

It was the real Giorno. She could tell by his stature alone. He stood there powerfully with a large golden Stand hovering beside him. The gangstar was looking at Oingo with disdain. 

“That was a powerful force. Fate itself tried to kill these people just now.” Giorno said in a calm voice, approaching the group. “Unfortunately for you, they’ll never meet that end. Due to my power, the Joestars will never arrive at that reality. This is not their time.” 

Oingo looked up at Giorno in fear. “What!? But… But! But Tohth’s predictions are accurate! They’re one-hundred-percent accurate!” 

Giorno scoffed. “My Gold Experience Requiem is beyond accuracy. I saw the fate you had planned for them and rejected it. That’s my ability. I can prevent the end of an action. So why don’t you try to attack me? Go ahead.” 

Joseph watched in awe. He’d witnessed intimidation tactics before, but this was on an entirely different level. Giorno had proudly proclaimed the power of his Stand for a very good reason. If that was truly his ability, it was unstoppable. It didn’t matter who knew about it. 

Oingo, on the other hand, was not as smart. He panicked and grabbed the gun from his waistband. “You piece of shit! You ruined everything! I had them! I had the Joestars right where I wanted them!” 

He fired the gun. 

The bullet tore through the air, whizzing right toward Giorno. However, it froze in place as well. Everyone watched as the bullet returned to the gun, even the residue went back to its starting place. The boss kicked Oingo’s gun out of his hand, pushing his foot against the man’s chest and pinning him down. 

“Useless. Completely, totally useless.” He mused. 

Oingo was petrified. He knew in his heart that he would never beat Giorno. That’s when he clasped his hands and begged. 

“Please! Please spare me! I’ll turn a new leaf, I swear! I’ll go back to law school! I’ll be good! Just let me and my brother go!” 

Giorno smiled. “I know you will.” 

“R-Really? You do!?” 

“Of course.” The golden haired man purred. He got down on one knee, looking into Oingo’s eyes. “Because if I find out that you haven’t, I’m going to have to make a very upsetting phone call. A call that will seal your fate.” He took his index finger, pressing it between Oingo’s eyes. “One-hundred-percent.” 

The man screamed in fear, scurrying back and protecting his face. “I promise! We’re done harassing the Joestars! Pinky swear! Cross my heart and hope to die!” 

Giorno stood back up, looking down at the man apathetically. “Then go. Have a good life, Oingo.” 

The man crawled away at an impressive speed, whining and crying the entire way. He made it down the sidewalk before standing up and brushing himself off. He made it. Despite the failure, he escaped with his life. He’d be able to recover and report this to Blondie. Victory would still be theirs! 

That’s when he noticed something odd. A black blur was moving through the air towards him. His eyes focused on it, and that’s when he heard the buzzing. An entire swarm of bees were flying directly at him! He was allergic! He was already feeling stuffy from the few stings before. That entire swarm would do him in for good!

Yes, it would appear Beenard found a way to become accepted in bee culture. As it turns out, every bee is a heartless sociopath who enjoys stinging people. Once Beenard invited everyone to help swarm the fabled “bee eater,” they were putty in his hands. It’s entirely irrelevant to the story at hand, but it’s only fair to mention that Beenard eventually became the first trans bee, taking the Queen’s position and ruling over the entire hive.

The swarm stung Oingo mercilessly. He cried out, but nobody came to help him. The stings caused his skin to bloat, and an allergic reaction soon followed. This was it for old Oingo. 

 

Oingo: Completely defeated. His allergic reaction permanently disfigured his face in a way even his Khnum couldn’t modify. No longer able to see, he lives the rest of his days in a luxurious nursing home. RETIRED. 

 

After that odd display, Giorno turned his attention to the group. They all regained their composure quickly. Shizuka rubbed the side of her head in pain. 

“Are you the real one?” She asked in a tired voice. None of them were particularly clear on what happened, but she just wanted to be sure they weren’t being tricked again. 

“My name is Giorno Giovanna. It’s a pleasure to meet you. However,” He looked over to Jotaro. “Kujo Jotaro, you cannot be here.” He said in perfect Japanese, his voice low and threatening. 

To be Continued...




Chapter Text

“Kujo Jotaro, you cannot be here.” Giorno said with dark eyes. 

The group fell silent. They were experiencing a lot of conflicting emotions all at once. Were they truly destined to die moments ago? Was Gold Experience Requiem as powerful as it seemed? Could they beat it if they needed to? The most anxious one out of them was definitely Jotaro. The son of Dio had quite the ability. 

“What do you mean?” He questioned.

“Your very presence in Italy violates carefully tailored treaties between Passione and the Speedwagon Foundation.” The boss explained. 

A shiver ran down Jotaro’s spine. “There were actual negotiations about me? What did Dolly tell you?” 

“I know about my father, that you killed him, and  I know you were the one who sent Koichi all those years ago without the foundation’s approval. What would you have done if he said I was a threat?” Giorno raised a brow. “Would you have killed me?” 

Silence filled the alley. Despite the severity of the question, Jotaro knew he had to answer honestly. 

“The thought crossed my mind.” He admitted. 

If Shizuka didn’t know any better, she’d define Giorno’s current expression as sadness. He just looked down in contemplation for a moment before continuing. 

“Imagine my surprise when I contacted the foundation and found out you’d gone rogue. Very curious, don’t you think?” 

The situation was deteriorating quickly. 

“I’m what many would call a criminal, Professor Kujo.” Giorno explained. “Despite that, I have my honor. I’m an honest man. That’s why I’ll be completely transparent in saying that a gunman is watching us right now. Any movements he doesn’t like will result in the death of one of your allies.”

“You don’t understand!” Shizuka burst into the tense discussion.

Once again, dead silence. Everyone was on edge, and no one knew what to say next. After a moment or two of consideration, the boss spoke. 

“Then make me understand.” Is all he said. 

Shizuka felt like she was going to be sick. She dragged everyone to Italy for assistance, not to get them killed. It was her fault, and she had to fix it. 

“The Speedwagon Foundation is the one who went rogue.” She explained, sweat forming on her back as she swallowed heavily. “Madam Dolly is a fraud. She plans to infect the entire world with the arrow’s virus. She wants the whole world to have Stands, and thinks everyone who can’t handle it deserves to die.” 

Giorno raised a brow. “How old are you?” 

She wasn’t really expecting that type of response. “Around ten.” She shrugged. 

“Around?” 

“Well, we’re not exactly sure. Probably ten. I’ll stick with that.” 

Once again, the boss took a moment just to think. “I assume you’re Shizuka Joestar, Joseph’s daughter. And you,” He pointed to the eldest of the group. “You must be Higashikata Josuke, Joseph’s son.” 

It took a moment for Joseph to realize what was happening. “What? Oh, no! I’m actually Joseph Joestar! It’s a long story, but I’m young and handsome again!” He smirked. 

“I’m sure it’s an interesting story.” Giorno mumbled, looking over to the others. “Then we have Marina Archer, the daughter of an English millionaire, and Raven Ripley, an ex-agent of the Speedwagon foundation.” 

Marina raised a small hand as if to say “hello,” meanwhile Ripley just crossed her arms and looked away. 

Giorno rested a hand on his face in thought. “Your story is troubling, Shizuka. The only reason I’m even entertaining it is because I can’t think of another reason the Joestars would bring their ten-year-old along for the ride. Whatever your situation is, I can tell it’s dire.” 

Before anyone could say anything, though, he raised a dismissive hand. 

However, I’m reluctant to accept the severity of your accusation. Why would I trust the man who killed my father over an international organization founded for peacekeeping and research?” 

“Because we’re family!” Shizuka blurted out. 

This certainly caught the boss off guard. He just looked at her with confusion. Joseph and Jotaro were stunned silent as well. 

“Family?” Giorno questioned. 

“How much did the foundation tell you? Your father, Dio, possessed the body of Jonathan Joestar when you were born! You’re a Joestar by blood!” 

“It’s true.” Joseph admitted, pulling the collar of his shirt down and tilting his body to reveal the Joestar birthmark on his neck. 

Jotaro did so as well. “You have one too, don’t you? This is a sign of the Joestar blood. Undeniable.” 

Giorno’s eyes widened. “You mean to tell me you all have that same birthmark?” 

“I hate to be the one to say this, but your father was a bastard.” Jotaro said in a low tone. “I’d kill him again. That’s not the problem here. The problem is that Josuke, your blood, is dying on our ship. Madam Dolly is a fraud. She goes by Blondie now, and she tried to kill us. That’s the truth.” 

The boss had never been very close with his family. His adoptive father was a bastard, and his mother was a neglectful party animal. To top it off, he’d heard nothing but bad things about his biological father “Dio.” The very idea that he was related to this group of strangers was baffling. Not only that, but one of his family members was dying? He gritted his teeth. Despite being born in Japan, Italy was where his soul dwelled. It was his home, through and through. He was an Italian, and Italians viewed their family above all else. Even the boss of the most powerful crime organization on Earth had morals. 

He lowered his head for a moment, looking down at the ground as he clenched his fists. “This Higashikata Josuke.” He began. “...will he die if I do nothing?” 

“Yes.” Joseph answered bluntly. “He’s been hazy for almost eighteen hours now. We managed to get him some medicine to slow it down, but I’m afraid this is our last bet. If you won’t heal him, we have nowhere else to try.” 

Giorno took a deep breath, raising a hand signal. A moment later, Jotaro’s keen eyes noticed window blinds closing across the street. It would seem the boss called off his gunslinger. 

“I’ll heal him.” He said calmly. “Come with me. I assume by the look of you that it’s been a few days since you’ve had a safe place to rest? It’s the least I can do.” 

Shizuka felt the weight of the world being lifted from her shoulders. She let out an audible sigh of relief, fighting the urge to hug the dangerous mob boss. 

“Thank you, Mr. Giovanna.” 

He smiled softly. “To friends it’s Giogio.” 

“Woah.” She mumbled under her breath. “That’s pretty close to Jojo, huh?” 

The boss smirked. “Is that your nickname? I like it. Now, c’mon. I try not to make a habit of closing off roads. I’d like to get traffic going again.”

That’s when Shizuka noticed that a single car hadn’t passed for the entire encounter. Had Giorno seriously closed the roads in case a battle occurred? His influence was beginning to dawn on her developing mind. She could only thank her lucky stars that he was on their side. She didn’t want to think about dealing with two invincible leaders of dangerous organizations, after all. 

 

They arrived at a humble academy on the other side of town. It seemed like it was maintained very well. Sure, it was odd that the mafia boss brought them to such a place, but it didn’t look half bad. He led them inside, walking through the winding hallways. 

“There’s a wing of this academy that isn’t inhabited anymore. It has four dorm rooms, a bathroom, and a common room. It’s where I bring good people who need a place for the night.” Giorno explained as he guided them through the halls. 

Shizuka looked around in fascination. There were actual students and teachers walking among them. “Doesn’t the academy wonder why we’re here?” 

“I make generous donations to keep this wing available. Everyone knows not to ask questions when Passione is involved. They’re just grateful that the city is clean.” 

Joseph exchanged a cautious glance with Jotaro, but they decided to keep their mouths shut for the time being. 

“So Giogio,” Marina looked out the lovely windows as they passed by. “What’s the point of bringing us here? I’m grateful for a shower, but three of our friends are still on the ship.” 

“Oh, I didn’t mention? I had a few trusted subordinates retrieve them shortly before I revealed myself to you. Don’t worry, they’re already here.” 

That made Shizuka wonder if they were always going to be treated like friends. Was that standoff with Jotaro all talk? No… Perhaps Giorno planned on treating everyone but Jotaro civilly. She was still uneasy at the thought of such a powerful man wanting trouble with her uncle. Would Gold Experience Requiem’s power override Star Platinum’s? She didn’t want to find out. 

They arrived at the private wing shortly after that. Giorno opened the door, revealing a lovely common room with assorted furniture. Shirlie was sitting with her arms crossed as Pa-Pa-Power was arm-wrestling with another Stand. Shizuka didn’t recognize the other woman. She was rather short in stature wearing very little in terms of clothing. She seemed to be in a bra, underwear, and a large coat with poofy leggings that failed to allow her any modesty. The woman had an eight-pointed scar over her left eye, and a certain sharpness in her gaze that would intimidate anyone. 

The Stand was odd as well. It wasn’t as humanoid as most Stands with bodies were. Its head resembled that of a rat, and long pointed tail that seemed to go on for nearly a meter. There was a line of jewels going down the center of its head and outlining its arms. It was a respectable size, but Pa-Pa-Power still dwarfed it in both height and mass. 

Power’s eyes drifted over to the door, and an enormous smile appeared on his face. He effortlessly slammed the other Stand’s hand to the table, standing up and tugging at Shirlie to approach the group. 

The other woman cried out in frustration. “Oh God dammit! You were holding back that entire time!?” 

Giorno raised his hand calmly. “Sheila E, please calm down.” 

The young woman nodded in embarrassment. “Sorry, Gio. I got the intruders, just like you asked.” 

“Thank you. Everyone, this is Sheila E. She’s one of my most trusted friends. Sheila E, these are the rest of the Joestars.” 

She smiled at them. “Hello! You all look like shit!” She said happily. 

“We feel like shit.” Marina shrugged. “Been on the run for a few days now.” 

“Oh, I know how that is. I’ll leave you to it! Just don’t get too comfortable! It’s my job to make sure nobody leaves the academy without permission.” She snickered, opening the window and crawling out of it. 

Shizuka realized that they were on the second floor. Where had Sheila E gone? 

“What a strange lady.” She mumbled under her breath. 

“Where’s Josuke?” Giorno asked, scanning the room. 

Shirlie had just finished slapping Pa-Pa-Power off of her. He’d been trying to drag her over to the group for the better part of a minute at that point. “Oh, Pepsi is shrouding him over there.” She pointed toward one of the couches. “Pep, it’s alright. I think this is the guy who’s gonna heal him.” 

After a moment’s hesitation, Pepsi and Josuke appeared on the far side of the room. The mysterious teen stood up, stepping away from the couch and leaning against the wall. 

Giorno approached Josuke with a frown. “These injuries…” He mumbled to himself. “What on Earth happened to him?” 

Shizuka stepped forward, feeling more comfortable with Giorno than the others did. “Blondie has the ability to change things to her will. It doesn’t seem to have any limits. She sunk through floors, made wine out of thin air, and killed a man just by touching him.” 

Giorno traced a hand up Josuke’s chest. “These are severe burns, but they’re odd.” 

“They’re from the inside. We think she made his blood boil or something.” 

“What a terrifying woman.” He mumbled softly, a golden glow emitting from his hand. 

Gold Experience Requiem appeared as Josuke began to tremble on the couch. The sergeant squirmed and groaned in pain as the healing energy surged through his body. Still unconscious, he threw his head back and screamed in agony. 

“He’s nearly dead. I have to replace several layers of flesh, a good portion of blood, a few bones and three failed organs. The process is painful. I need people to hold him down.” Giorno explained. 

Joseph and Jotaro walked up first, each pinning the man down carefully. After a moment, Pa-Pa-Power held his head down, and Marina stood by cautiously. Ripley was watching in fascination, deciding they had all the manpower they needed. 

The boss narrowed his eyes and continued working. Requiem leaned closer to Josuke, its entire body resonating with a powerful golden aura. Josuke was screaming at this point. His body thrashed around in confusion and pain. The man’s skin seemed to look better than before. That was something, right? 

“Is Josuke’s Stand a close-range combat type?” Giorno asked as he worked. 

“Yes.” Jotaro nodded. 

“Then be careful. As he gets better, his Stand might subconsciously attack the cause of his pain. That’s me. I’m a little occupied, though. One wrong move and I could seriously hurt him.” 

A moment later, as if on cue, Crazy Diamond erupted from Josuke’s body. It was flickering with muted colors, but still looked just as dangerous as ever. Star Platinum grabbed the Stand, forcing it into a headlock. Just to be safe, Hermit Purple wrapped around the two Stands, tying them together like a rope. 

The boss gritted his teeth. “Almost… Just keep him off me for another minute. I’m nearly there.” 

Jotaro and Joseph seemed to be struggling a bit as they held Crazy Diamond back. The Stand was immensely powerful, and its distress only made it thrash harder. That’s when Shirlie got an idea. 

“Power, calm him down!” She suggested. 

A light of recognition appeared on Pa-Pa-Power’s face as he let go of Josuke. He threw his arms out and engulfed Crazy Diamond, Star Platinum and Hermit Purple in an enormous bear hug. He squeezed them tight, sending waves of calmness and tranquility through the Stands. 

After a moment, Josuke’s thrashing ceased. Gold Experience Requiem finished its job and pulled away slowly. The man’s eyes slowly fluttered open. That’s when he gritted his teeth, bucked the Stands off of Crazy Diamond, and sent Crazy Diamond flying forward immediately. 

Doradoradoradora!” It cried out. 

Gold Experience Requiem raised a gentle hand, immediately ending Crazy Diamond’s attack barrage. Josuke was sweating buckets, panting as he looked forward. His vision slowly adjusted after a moment and he realized it wasn’t Blondie standing in front of him. 

“W-Who are you?” He questioned. 

“I am Giorno Giovanna, and you are safe.” 

The sergeant immediately sank into the couch. He let out an exhausted groan and rested a hand over his face. 

“What in the hell happened?” 

Josuke!” Shizuka jumped right onto the man, hugging him. 

He let out a pained grunt but wrapped his arms around her immediately. “Woah, woah! Everyone’s here?” He chanted happily. 

Joseph just leaned back against the nearest wall, cupping his face in his hands and sighing. His son was okay. Blondie didn’t get any of them. He could finally relax for a moment. 

The stylish sergeant was tossing Shizuka up and down effortlessly, feeling completely rejuvenated. He laughed with his sister as they reunited. Giorno’s eyes wandered curiously over to Pa-Pa-Power. He raised a brow. 

“You can put your Stand away, Shirlie. There’s not going to be any fighting.” He explained. 

She crossed her arms, blowing some hair from her face. “Power doesn’t wanna go back in. He’ll go when he wants.” 

This intrigued the boss. “ Wants? ” He echoed. “I see, so your Stand is self-aware? A consciousness beyond your own?” 

She just blew air from her lips, groaning. “Pa-Pa-Power feels more emotions per second than any of you do in a day. He’s more a person than me. Period.” 

“I’m sorry if I offended him.” He turned his eyes to Power. “And excuse my rudeness. Would you prefer if I spoke directly to you?” 

Pa-Pa-Power looked Giorno right in the eyes. He seemed a little surprised to be directly addressed. He couldn’t really think of a time that it had ever happened before in his life! Most people couldn’t see him, and the ones who could always spoke to Shirlie. His face lit up with joy, and he extended a hand. He aggressively shook Giorno’s hand in his own, squeezing it in the rubbery boxing gloves he wore at all times. 

His current bout of joy hit Giorno like a runaway train. The boss could feel every ounce of Power’s eagerness, and fully comprehended how much his actions meant to the Stand.

“Hello, Pa-Pa-Power. I am Giorno Giovanna. I don’t think I introduced myself to you.” He said softly with a smile. 

Power eventually stopped shaking, giving a little formal bow in response. 

“So you don’t speak then?” 

Shirlie shrugged. “He doesn’t really have vocal cords, I guess? And sign language doesn’t work with big spiked boxing gloves. I guess you could say he’s mute, but it’s pretty easy to know what he’s feeling.” 

“I can see that. He’s clearly an independent, living thing. I’m glad I could bring him so much joy.” 

Power swept the boss into an enormous hug. Giorno couldn’t help but laugh, experiencing the Stand’s utter joy. His laugh was infectious, causing Shirlie to join in. She spread the emotion to the entire room, causing everyone to laugh happily. Even Jotaro was letting out a few chuckles under his breath. 

The room was peaceful. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and soon the day turned to night. The group was quite ready to settle in and experience some level of peace. After they all got their showers and a sizeable dinner, the group retired to the four bedrooms at their disposal. Pepsi and Shirlie took one, Marina and Ripley took another, Jotaro and Josuke took the third, and Shizuka roomed with her father. 

In the dead of night, Josuke’s eyes opened to a subtle sound. The bedroom door had creaked open slowly. He looked over to Jotaro cautiously. The man was still fast asleep, too exhausted from the long day to wake so easily. Josuke’s keen senses were still a little foggy, but he knew someone was in the room. After a moment, his suspicions were confirmed. 

“Josuke,” His father’s voice cut through the night quietly. “Get up. We need to talk in the common room.” 

It was very late, and Josuke found himself to be half asleep when he tried to stand up. Careful not to wake Jotaro, the man swayed and stumbled to the door before closing it behind him. He saw a single lamp was lit in the common room, revealing his father sitting on a couch. Joseph seemed very troubled. His eyes weren’t focused on anything in particular, and he was nibbling on the tip of his right thumb. 

Josuke walked in and sat across from the nervous man. “Everything okay?” He asked, still not one-hundred-percent comfortable calling him ‘Dad.’ 

“This has nothing to do with Blondie. It’s personal.” Joseph explained softly. 

The son raised a brow. “What does?” 

The old (yet young) man just sighed. “A friend of mine died today, son.” 

“Oh…” Josuke said softly. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He bit his lip. Why was Joseph telling him? Wasn’t he much closer with Jotaro? 

“You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. We’re not exactly the closest a father and son could be. In fact, I bet you’re thinking that I’d rather be telling Jotaro.” 

Josuke’s eyes widened a bit. How was his father so perceptive? 

“I mean…” 

“It’s okay, son. I’m talking to you for a reason. A selfish reason. You’re a detective, and I need your help.” 

The sergeant’s eyes narrowed, darkening a bit. “You think there was foul play?” 

Joseph leaned back on the couch, folding his hands. “She drowned.” 

“People drown every day.” 

“She drowned in her car.” 

There was silence for a moment. Josuke had certainly never had such a case before. He rested his chin on his hands, deep in thought. “Was she drinking anything?” 

“No liquid was found. None. The car was dry as a bone. The autopsy discovered a large amount of water in her lungs, and the verdict was decided. She drowned.” 

This was certainly intriguing the younger man. He nodded his head as Joseph explained the situation. “Sounds supernatural.” 

“Nothing is supernatural, son. There’s just a whole lot about science that humanity doesn’t understand yet.” 

The sergeant just nodded groggily, still trying to fully wake himself up. Eventually, he had something to say. “So your friend was killed by something beyond understanding? And the local law enforcement has simply ruled it as a drowning?” 

“Yes. That’s why we need to go to Munich, Germany and investigate it ourselves.” 

Munich? You want to leave the country? Aren’t we a little busy?” 

Joseph sighed. “This might be my only chance, Josuke. Everyone’s safe under Passione’s watch. They have a place to rest, a place to eat. They can wait a day or two. I need to make sure Mira’s killer doesn’t get to walk free. I can’t-” He let out a sharp breath, closing his eyes for a moment. “...listen, son. When you’re as old as I am, you get used to losing people… Until you can’t stand it anymore.” He admitted, wiping underneath his eye. “Every last one of them drops like flies, and you’re still here. It gets unbearable. The idea that Mira didn’t get to live her twilight years in peace… That some scum went and killed her violently, painfully, it’s more than I can take. So please, come with me to Munich. I don’t want Jotaro there. I don’t want Shizuka, or Holy, or Suzi, or anyone else. I want my son’s help. You’re the professional here.” 

Josuke just gave a weak smile, extending his hand. “Okay, Dad. We’ll check this out.” 

Joseph’s face lit up, and he shook his son’s hand proudly. “Thank you. We should go now. It’ll be easier to explain over the phone. That way no one will come with us.” 

The two left the common room and walked silently through the academy halls. Once they exited the building and went down the staircase, Joseph sensed something. His hand began to glow, and vines of Hermit Purple wound around his arm. 

“Who’s there?” He asked sharply. 

That’s when Sheila E. emerged from the shadows. She was tossing a switchblade into the air, letting it spin and catching it by the tip every time. “You know, Joestars, I was given a pretty simple order. Gio didn’t want anyone leaving the academy.” 

Josuke gritted his teeth. “Oh great. So we’re prisoners now?” 

Sheila E. shook her head. “No, no. We just can’t have you roaming our streets and doing whatever you want.”

“We’re not going to cause any trouble. We’re just getting on a train. We’ll be leaving Italy for the day, and returning tomorrow. That’s the entire truth.” Joseph explained. 

Sheila E. tossed the switchblade up into the air, letting it fall past her hand. It looked like it was going to hit the ground, but she lifted up a bare foot and caught it between her toes. She looked up into Joseph’s eyes, glaring into him. Then, she kicked her foot up, sending the knife past Joseph’s head and into the doorframe. It stuck right in, wobbling back and forth. 

“You’d better hope that’s the whole truth. I’ll be telling Gio your plan. If it turns out he doesn’t like it, we’re all in trouble.” She growled. 

“So… You’re letting us go?” Josuke asked nervously. 

“What can I say? I’m a sucker for pretty eyes. Now go, Joestars, before I change my mind.” She grumbled, crossing her arms and turning away from them. 

They didn’t need to be told twice. Joseph and Josuke rushed down the rest of the steps and down the street to the train station. Sheila E. watched them go, smirking to herself. The young woman’s eyes were fixated on Joseph’s tight rear end. 

“Mmm, now that’s a man.” She mumbled, reaching up and freeing her knife. “Back to patrolling.” 

 

Deep beneath the surface of Washington D.C., Blondie sat in her executive chair ripe with boredom. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that she’d get the feather. No, it was merely a matter of when. She was growing tired of waiting on others. That’s when the door to her office opened unexpectedly. She was met with Mortimer, a trusted underling, carrying a small Egyptian man by the scruff of his neck. 

Mortimer threw Boingo onto the ground, brushing his hands together to rid himself of the man’s pathetic energy. Blondie lifted her head, her sharp jawline obscuring her face somewhat to the man below. She put her glass down, sitting up completely and folding her hands. 

“Mortimer, I remember sending two men to Naples. Where’s the other?” She asked in a dry, irritated voice. 

Boingo got onto his knees, groveling for dear life. “W-W-W-Well, Ma’am, you see… You see, yes… My brother Oingo was…” He gritted his teeth. “Defeated, yes.” 

The woman’s dangerous eyes narrowed, fixating on Boingo’s pathetic posture. “Let me ask you something, Boingo. ” The name rolled off her tongue like it was foreign. She detested such a ridiculous word. “You can predict the future with absolute certainty, yes? ” She mocked his habit of always repeating that word. “Yes. So how do you manage to lose to the Joestars three times in your life?” 

Boingo cleared his throat, unable to look the woman in the eyes. “Well you see, yes. I uhm… I usually hang back, yes. I let my partner do the infantry work while I provide prophecy from behind, yes.” 

“So, you’re a coward?” 

“No! My Tohth can only manifest as a comic book. It has no offensive capabilities. If I were to try and fight, I’d die. Instead, I give plans.” 

“I was eager to hear about your Stand. Tohth is very powerful in theory. ” She droned in a low, disinterested voice. “But it falls into the category of wasted potential along with so many others. Stands are an interesting concept, Boingo. There are many abilities that would be unstoppable in the right hands, yes? Stands that would be able to destroy even myself if used properly. Despite that, they’re never successful. I like to use a past subordinate as an example.” She stood up, walking around the desk and circling the man like a predator. 

“One of the first Stands I created went by the name of Easy Street. It was a passive ability that protected the user without his knowledge. Easy Street would give its user substantial luck. Enough luck to live life without worries. All he had to do was envision a world where he accomplished something, and the route would make itself clear. One time he was jumped by three thugs outside a bar. Do you want to know what happened?” 

Boingo nodded slowly, unable to see where this was going. 

“The thugs defeated themselves by accident. They hit one another, tripped, and ultimately killed each other. Easy Street’s user was fine. I presented him with countless scenarios that would normally cut any life short. He played Russian Roulette with five rounds in the chamber. He slept in a bed of poisonous snakes and wasn’t bitten once. He fought one of my more powerful Stand Users with a blindfold on, and won. Do you see where I’m going with this, Boingo?” 

“T-That Easy Street is unbeatable?” 

“Precisely. But there was one problem. The user had absolutely no ambition. He was fine living his life exactly as he’d always lived it. He didn’t enter any lotteries, he didn’t run for public office, and he didn’t pursue love. He just went on with business as usual. For such a long time I was puzzled by this. How could someone with such a potent ability live with such humility? Doesn’t he want more?” She shook her head, grabbing her glass of wine and sipping it. 

“The truth is, you are the only person in the world who could develop your Stand. Easy Street was so entirely him that it was practically comedic. He got all C’s in school, lived within his means, and just wanted to be left alone. He developed a Stand to ensure such a lifestyle would never be interrupted by outside forces. That was his reason to live. I could never have developed Easy Street because I have ambition. I have drive. My tenacity would never have allowed for such a passive, easygoing ability to form. Every single Stand is entirely catered to suit the user. Nothing more, nothing less. The idea of an ability being powerful removed from the limitations of the human operating it is absurd. Those limitations are the foundation of the ability.” 

“W-What are you getting at?” Boingo questioned, sweat beading down his face. 

A dark expression overtook the woman’s face. She glared down at him, sipping from her wine once more. “I thought your ability had potential. I’m displeased to discover that it belongs to a useless, pathetic bacterium with no hope of growing stronger. There’s nothing I can do to improve you, Boingo. Your strength is merely a means to protecting your meager, depressing existence for another day. A fighting spirit is meant to change the world. Instead, you simply created a rock to hide under, and it disgusts me.” 

Boingo was close to pissing himself. Would Blondie really kill him? Was this the end? 

“What… What are you going to do to me?” He asked softly, paralyzed in fear. 

“Why don’t you read your little book and find out?” She growled. 

He let out a squeak of fear before grabbing Tohth and opening it slowly. The blank page began to take form. 

“The mean lady was really starting to scare Boingo, but he was going to be brave, yes!” He read with a trembling voice. “Despite her t-terrifying speech, she had no intention of killing our hero, yippie... “ 

She scowled down at him. The man cleared his throat before continuing. 

“Instead she’ll just…” His eyes widened. “No! Wait!” He screamed. 

In a flash, Rapture appeared and touched Boingo. He fell to the ground, motionless and unresponsive. There was dead silence for nearly fifteen seconds. Mortimer said nothing. Blondie said nothing. After that, she finished her glass of wine, turning the glass to oxygen and letting it fade away. She knelt down for a moment, picking up Tohth and finding where he left off. 

“Instead, she’ll just paralyze him like the coward he is. Without the use of his legs, Boingo will have to crawl around like the rat he is for the rest of his life. He’ll retire to the same home as his brother, living out his days in modest luxury. At least there’s good TV. Yippie.” She read in a dark tone. 

Blondie closed the book firmly, causing it to fade out of her hands. “Badum-tis.” She read the final line, turning away from the unconscious man and sitting down once again. 

Mortimer waited an appropriate amount of time before speaking. He let the woman get settled in her chair, and to look him in the eyes expectantly. Once that happened, he nodded. 

“Oingo and Boingo were failures, Ma’am. All of the Joestars are fine.” 

“And where are they now?” She questioned. 

“Unreachable. Passione is protecting them in Naples. It’s safe to assume Gold Experience has healed Josuke. They’re back at full strength.” 

“That’s too bad. I hoped our arrangements with Passione would discourage such a thing. Giorno Giovanna has betrayed the foundation.” She mumbled, tweaking the position of a pen on her desk to be perfectly aligned with the others. 

“The feather is in Naples, but two of the Joestars have left the country.” Mortimer continued. 

Blondie raised her eyes back up to the man curiously. “Oh?” 

“I may have planted some bait to draw them out. Nothing you would disapprove of, I promise.” 

“So what happened?” 

“Joseph and Josuke have gotten on a train bound for Munich, Germany to investigate the death of an old friend.” 

Blondie clicked her tongue a few times, adjusting the pens on her desk once more. They weren’t spaced out properly. Her lips pursed together as she worked, making a few absentminded noises. Once she was satisfied, she looked back to Mortimer. 

“Why did you arrange this?” 

“Because I’m going to kill Josuke and permanently cripple the group.” He said confidently. 

The woman considered his statement for a moment. “That would be ideal, yes. It seems like you’ve laid everything out to create an offer I can’t refuse.” 

“You know if I fight Josuke, he’ll die. There’s not even a question. My Stand is an unstoppable force.” 

“Or an immovable object. Either way, I agree with your sentiment. Go ahead, Mortimer. Deal with the troublesome boy.” 

Without another word the underling turned around, walking to the door. He was stopped by the sound of fingers snapping. 

“Oh Mortimer? One more question.” She mumbled, reading something on the screen in front of her. 

“Yes, Ma’am?” 

“How many times did we have this conversation before I finally agreed?” 

He couldn’t help but smile. “Seventeen, Ma’am.” 

“Seventeen.” She echoed. “I see.” 

There was a bit of an awkward silence. 

“...is that all, Ma’am?” 

“Hmm?” She asked, as if she forgot he was even there. “Oh, yes. I just wanted to remind you of one thing.” 

Blondie’s eyes flashed, turning a bright orange. The same color as the crystal on rapture’s scepter. “Even with one million tries, you would never defeat my Rapture. You know that in your heart, right?” 

He felt a sense of impending dread. Her words were intimidating enough, but the atmosphere of the room seemed to have shifted. It was hot, too hot. So much so that he found himself sweating almost immediately. The room was humid and the air was thick. Some sweat got in his eyes. He went to wipe it away only to discover that Blondie was gone when he finished. His eyes widened, and the hair on the back of his neck stood straight. 

A pair of slender hands wrapped around his body from behind. She cupped his stomach, pressing herself against his back. She was taller than him, resting her chin on his shoulder and purring. She leaned in, kissing his neck gently. Then, without warning, her left hand reached right into his chest and grabbed his heart. It phased effortlessly through his skin, only touching the organ it desired. He tensed up, feeling the absolute pain of having his heart squeezed. 

“It would always end like this.” She whispered into his ear, kissing it as well. Her tongue traced his earlobe, filling his head with the sound of her breathing. He became even more stiff, letting out a terrified gasp. His entire body shook, and he felt himself cringe at the sensation of her tongue.

He was a sweaty, panting mess. Blondie’s actions might seem sexual from an outside perspective, but they were far from it. She was controlling, imposing, and intimidating. She touched him however she wished in ways she knew he didn’t want. Why? Because it displayed her power over him. She was above him in every sense of the word, despite his immense strength. As she clenched his heart in her hand, she couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle into his ear. 

“I just wanted to remind you that everyone has a place. I never want you to feel too comfortable with me. Do you understand, Mortimer?” 

He nodded feverishly, wanting this unique hell to end. 

“That’s a good boy.” She pulled her hand from his body, sinking into the floor and vanishing without a trace. 

Mortimer was completely alone. The room’s temperature returned to its normal state, and Blondie was gone. He fell to his knees, holding his pounding chest as he let out an involuntary sob. Without an ounce of shame, Mortimer threw up all over the floor. She was right. He could try a million different ways and still fall to her Rapture. 

The world belonged to Blondie.

 

After sleeping for a majority of the twelve hour train ride, Josuke slowly woke up to the feeling of his father shaking his arm. 

“I’m awake, I’m awake…” He groaned, slapping Joseph’s hand away. 

“We’re here, Jojo. C’mon.” Joseph stood up and adjusted his belt. 

“Jojo?” Josuke mumbled. He hadn’t been called that since high school. 

“Takes one to know one. Now up and at ‘em. We’re here. Munich, Germany.” 

The great land of Germany: Since the middle ages the land that would one day be known as “Germany” existed as an assortment of cities that fell under the Roman Empire. In 1871 the country we know today truly formed under Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, the first Emperor of Germany. Like every massive country that exists today, Germany has a long bloody history. However, it’s important to note the beautiful qualities of the country in the present. Tourists from all across the world flock to see the Cologne’s Cathedral, the Reichstag Building, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, and much more. Munich in particular has a fascinating past. Settlement in the area can be traced back to the neolithic age, though records of the monks who eventually gained the area city-status only tracks back to the eighth century. The city, like many, was nearly completely rebuilt with American assistance after the second world war. In modern day, it’s a lovely city with a population of over one million people. 

Joseph and Josuke stepped out of the train station and into the bustling streets. The elder stretched his arms, yawning a bit. Josuke checked his phone and saw two missed calls from Shizuka. He sighed, pocketing the device and looking around. 

“So, old man, where we heading?” He asked, taking a comb out and running it through his hair to calm his nerves. 

“Well, you don’t exactly have jurisdiction as law enforcement in Germany, so we can’t take the direct avenue.” Joseph mused, rubbing his chin. 

“I doubt we’ll be doing anything the right way if we plan on wrapping the investigation up before sundown.” Josuke grunted, yawning as well. “We should head to the scene of the crime. See if there’s any evidence the police missed.” 

“Good plan. We should get a cola first. I’m famished.” 

“W-What? There were drinks on the train!” Josuke protested. 

Pepsi products. I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but Coca Cola is the only key to my heart. I’ve been drinking it for nearly a century, and I won’t let some Italian train change my ways.” Joseph pointed right at Josuke and poked his chest. “Now c’mon, this is serious. We need to find some prime cola.” 

Josuke stood there motionless as his father strutted away. “Serious.” He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Oh great. This is gonna be a disaster.” 

 

They arrived at the bridge where Mira met her end. Since it was only a matter of hours ago, traffic cones blocked off a damaged sidebar. Bits and pieces of plastic lined the sidewalk, and a lone hubcap was catching sun by the police tape bordering everything off. 

“Any chance there are officers nearby?” Joseph looked around. 

Josuke stepped forward with hands in his pockets. “A single-vehicle accident with a low-profile fatality? Not a chance. The city will probably do cleanup overnight. Now’s our opportunity to do some sleuthing.” 

They approached the scene, ducking under the police tape and arriving at the damaged sidebar. Josuke rubbed his chin, deep in thought. 

“There’s water underneath this bridge.” He mumbled. 

“You’re right.” The father agreed, already on a similar train of thought. 

“If your theory is right, this would be the perfect place to use such a power on her. She’d drown and plunge right into the water. It would just look like a regular accident.” 

“But this bar stopped her just in time. Barely.” He ran his hand along it thoughtfully. “There is another thought, though.” 

“What’s that?” 

Joseph’s eyes turned serious for a moment as he eyed the crash site. “It was meant to look like a failed plan so we’d come. We’re being sandbagged.” 

Josuke’s eyes darted around in paranoia for a moment. “Sandbagged?” 

The father nodded. “Deliberately underperforming to set your opponent at ease. ‘ If this schmuck can’t even use his power right, this’ll be a piece of cake.’ That’s what he wants us to think.” 

“So you’re saying he fudged the homicide on purpose?” 

“I know he did. We have to be extremely careful, Josuke. Somehow this enemy managed to drown someone in a moving vehicle without leaving a single trace of water. I doubt he was in the car with her, otherwise he could have gotten hurt in the crash.”

“This is a ranged ability? Are we assuming it’s a Stand?” Josuke mumbled. 

“With how the arrows seem to be getting around lately, I wouldn’t be surprised. Stands with this much range a devastation are usually automatic. They’re triggered by something. What could Mira have done to activate it?” 

“It could be practically anything. We need to be careful. Neither of us are exactly immune to drowning.” 

The men finished looking around before stepping away from the crash site and walking down the sidewalk. 

“We don’t exactly have much to go off of.” Joseph mumbled. 

“Something’s bothering me.” 

“What’s that?” 

Josuke stopped walking, crossing his arms. “You said this has nothing to do with Blondie, right? Now you’re talking about sandbagging, and premeditation. Who else would go around killing your friends? How is this not a Blondie problem?” 

Joseph sighed, looking away. “I wasn’t sure until we got here. The crash site really changed my view of the case.” 

“Bullshit.” Josuke said sternly. “You might be able to play people like instruments, but I’m trained to spot liars. You’re not making eye contact with me because you’re ashamed. What’s the problem?” 

The father clenched his fists, looking his son in the eyes. “Because Mira wasn’t just a friend.” He admitted. 

This caused a line in Josuke’s mind to snap. He’d tried to look past his father’s past for years. For a while he really thought he’d moved on. His department-mandated anger management sessions eventually drifted into discussions about his family and their strange situation. His therapist was a wonderful woman, but the city of Morioh only paid for a certain number of sessions. And, though he hated to admit it, Higashikata Josuke was too proud to seek out mental help on his own.

“You son of a bitch.” 

“Josuke, calm down. It’s not-” 

“You lying, cheating…” Josuke worked himself into a frenzy, his hair seeming to stand up in rage as a blue aura surrounded him. “...egotistical dickhead. ” He stomped his foot. 

The old man had no defense for his past infidelity. He just stood there and let his son go off. 

“Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a picture of Mira. Is she a purple-haired Asian woman? Is she in her twenties? Does Suzi know about her? Maybe we should be on the lookout for another bastard Joestar walking around! Maybe his Stand will be able to fix this shitty family, because mine can’t!” 

Joseph reached toward his son, only to have his hand slapped away. The sergeant was absolutely livid, fuming with anger. 

“This isn’t the time. We really are under attack.” Joseph attempted to reason. 

“When aren’t we under attack!? Like you said, this might be our only opportunity, right? Our only chance to talk this out before Blondie kills us all? Well I’m talking! Who was Mira?” 

Josuke.” The older man hissed. “Can we at least do this someplace private? Not in the middle of a busy city?” 

The son got a grip, at least for the time being. He took a deep breath, nodding. “We should eat anyway. I’m willing to calm down, but I’m not going to forgive and forget. We’re talking about this.” 

“Okay, okay. We just can’t afford to make a scene right now. We’ll find a place to sit. Come on.” 

 

The father and son found themselves sitting in a charming little restaurant a couple blocks from the scene of the crash. Josuke was tapping the table restlessly while Joseph considered a way to explain. 

“I know that you think what I did was unforgivable.” He sighed. 

“Because it is unforgivable, Joseph.” Josuke growled, refusing to call him ‘Dad.’ “You cheated on your wife with my mother. Do you even realize what you did to her? She still hasn’t moved on. She’s still in love with you! Some nights when I visit her unannounced, I can tell she’s been crying. You swept her off her feet when she was young and vulnerable and dropped her right on her ass, and I hate you for it.” He put his fist down on the table roughly, causing some silverware to shift around loudly. 

Joseph didn’t know how to react to such a strong stance. Did his son really hate him? “Tomoko and I… We had fun. I didn’t realize she was getting so attached.” 

“How? You can read everyone like they’re cheap magazines. How am I supposed to believe that you never realized the child you were stringing on was in love with you?” 

“Child? Come on, Josuke. You’re not really being fair.” 

“She was twenty-one. You were sixty-three. You were a wealthy foreign casanova who showed interest in a young woman who had no idea what she was getting herself into. It’s sick. I’m sorry, but I’ve felt this way ever since I found out about you. I held it in because you seemed senile and I didn’t wanna disturb the peace. But now you’re young and I’m comfortable saying it. What you did was wrong! You ruined my mom’s life!” He growled. 

Joseph just sat there in silence. He never would have believed his son harbored such resentment for him. If his words were true, they were cutting him deeper than any knife. 

“Tomoko.” He frowned. “She really never moved on?” 

“She saw something in you, I guess. Forty-seven years old and she’s still hung up on her college fling. The few times I’ve asked about you she lit up like a Christmas tree. You left her, Joseph. You left with no idea what kind of damage you caused. You’re reckless, plain and simple.” Josuke finished, sitting back and pushing his plate away. 

“I’ll admit, I spend most of my life in my own head. I never even took a moment to think if Tomoko would miss me. I just assumed she was young and would move on. To be perfectly honest, I thought she was growing bored of me. It’s no excuse, but that’s my reasoning.” 

Josuke leaned back in his chair. “What’s your plan then? She knows about Stands, Kira, and the bloody Joestar history. She wouldn’t be too surprised to see you young again.” 

“I’ll go see her.” He said plainly. “It’s my responsibility. I never gave her closure.” 

The sergeant seemed to immediately relax in his seat. He rested a hand on his forehead. “Thank god.” He mumbled under his breath. “I don’t like being that direct, but it’s just been building up all this time. It wasn’t healthy. None of this is healthy.” He admitted. 

“We all need to play the hand we’re dealt. I’m just sorry your hand was so bad. I never knew my father, but at least I don’t see him as some deadbeat.” Joseph sighed. 

“Deadbeat? Joseph, no.” Josuke sat up a bit. “It’s not that. You just need to take responsibility for this.” 

The father took a sip of his drink, eyes drifting past his son and into the crowd of people enjoying their meals. “Mira wasn’t exactly some affair. Suzi actually knew about her.” 

Josuke raised a brow. “Wait, for real? What happened?”

“It wasn’t very acceptable at the time, so we don’t talk about it much.” He began. “But Suzi and I aren’t exactly straight. We aren’t exactly exclusive either.” 

Josuke’s eyes were wide like dinner plates. “Whaaaaaaaaaat!? You’re in an open marriage!?”

The old man chuckled a bit. “No need to make such a big deal about it. We wanted things the other couldn’t give. She would explore her more feminine desires, and I’d spend time at a different type of gentleman’s club. Purely innocent, I promise.” 

The son was seeming to follow. “So Mira wasn’t your lover?” 

“No. She was Suzi’s. They had a real connection. It wasn’t exactly romantic, but they were inseparable for some time. Eventually, they drifted apart. Mira was facing questions at home she’d rather not answer, so she stopped calling. Suzi accepted it and moved on. Sometimes she still talks about her, though.” He smiled fondly. 

“You were both allowed to explore same-sex relations?” 

“Yes. We always discussed the other person, screened them medically, and used protection. The most important part was communication.” Joseph explained. 

“But… My mother isn’t a man.” Josuke frowned. 

“...No. She’s not.” The older man said in a low tone, sipping his drink. 

“That’s why Suzi was livid?” 

“I violated the terms of our arrangement. More importantly, I violated her trust, and our marriage.” He nodded, resting a hand over his face. “I don’t regret it.” 

Josuke’s eyes widened. “You don’t? Why not? It nearly ruined your marriage! I mean-” 

He was interrupted by Joseph sharply shushing him, raising a finger up cautiously. “Hold on. Something’s wrong.” 

“What is it?” 

The father’s eyes fixated on Josuke’s glass of water. “Did you ask for lemon?” 

“What?” The younger man asked in shock. Sure enough, a lemon wedge was pushed into the rim of his glass. “No, they just do that sometimes, don’t they? 

“Then why doesn’t everyone in the room have lemon in their water?” Joseph mumbled under his breath, eyes scanning the restaurant. 

“Why would you notice something like that?” 

“Josuke, that lemon belongs to the enemy!” He pointed directly at it. “Use Crazy Diamond on it! Send it back, and we’ll follow it!” 

The young man’s eyes widened, but he nodded in agreement. 

“Crazy Diamond!” He cried out, punching the glass. It shattered into a thousand shards, restoring itself instantly. 

The lemon was lifted into the air, drifting through the restaurant. Both men got up and followed it quickly. It wound through the establishment, eventually drifting into the “Employee Only” area. They stormed inside with determination. Several employees shouted in shock. They pushed past the confused staff and followed the lemon all the way to the back of the kitchen. 

At the end, the devious fruit ended up in a large bowl of perfectly cut lemon wedges. They seemed fresh, too. Joseph and Josuke stared at it in confusion. 

“If it was poisoned or tainted by a Stand, you can isolate the effect from the rest of the fruit, right?” Joseph questioned. 

“I’m trying, but it doesn’t seem to be working.” 

Punch them all then! They’re all rigged! Destroy the lemons, Josuke!” His father screamed, clenching a fist and stomping his foot. 

Crazy Diamond emerged once more, spinning around and flexing its enormous muscles for a moment. Then, in a fierce rain of strength its fists pounded the bowl of lemons to mush. 

Doradoradoradoradoradoradoradoradora!” He cried out. 

Shards of glass flew all over the kitchen. Lemon juice was everywhere, and the once-beautiful pile of delectable fresh fruit was nothing more than a yellow pile of mushy paste. The men panted, staring in anticipation. 

“Where’s the Stand?” Joseph questioned. 

It began to dawn on Josuke that they might have overreacted. “I don’t… I don’t think…” He mumbled. 

On the same wavelength already, Joseph got out his phone. Hermit Purple wound itself around the device. “Are the lemons rigged by an enemy Stand? One for yes, two for no.” 

The number two appeared on his dial screen. He immediately closed his flip phone and shoved it into his pocket. 

“Oh boy, oh boy. We’re really gone and done it.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. 

Great. ” Josuke groaned. 

That’s about the time that they thought to turn around and scan the room. The entire cooking staff was staring at them in total confusion. Some of them were gripping their knives protectively, as if they needed to use them. Both men’s cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment. 

“Hey son?” 

“Yeah?” 

“I think we’re about to get kicked out.” 

And they were. Shortly after decimating the lemon population of Germany, both men were tossed outside without finishing their meals. Joseph rubbed the back of his head, smirking. 

“We kind of got caught in our heads there for a minute, didn’t we?” He chuckled. 

Josuke couldn’t help but laugh with him. “Like father like son. I can’t believe we just did that.” 

For a moment, all they could do was laugh. They found it incredibly funny in an odd way. Neither of them had ever noticed how similar they were. That lemon situation really painted it clear as day, though. They were both overly cautious, reckless quick-thinkers who sometimes got into trouble due to how far they took things. 

“I’m an officer of the law, and I just destroyed a bowl of fruit.” Josuke laughed even harder. 

“You gotta admit, those cooks were a little too sour with us.” 

....

Bwahahahahahaha!” Both men erupted together once again. 

Joseph was wiping tears from his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he had such a genuine laugh. After another minute or so of laughter, sirens could be heard whining in the distance. They became hard to ignore as they grew closer and closer. For a moment, Josuke was afraid they had the cops called on them. However, he was surprised to see an ambulance swerve down the street. Paramedics ran into the very restaurant they were just evicted from. 

“Heart attack?” Josuke questioned. 

“Or a drowning. We’ve gotta go back in.” 

They followed the busy men inside only to find mass panic. People were running toward the door so fast the men were nearly washed outside by the crowd. Then, clear as day, they could see an old man floating a few feet above his chair. He was kicking, his body slowly bloating from the water intake. The disturbing thing was that neither of the Stand Users could see the water. This didn’t stop Josuke from sprinting up to the man. 

“Out of the way!” He screamed at the paralyzed paramedics.

Once he was close enough to touch the drowning man, he actually felt himself covered in water. In shock, he pulled back. The moment he was far enough away from the man, he was dry. 

“Joseph! The water is fixed in place around him.” 

“Grab him! Pull him out with Crazy Diamond!” 

Josuke nodded, sending his stand in and grabbing the man. As he pulled, the old man actually moved effortlessly. However, as the man got closer, Josuke could feel the water envelope him once again. He grit his teeth and pulled the floating man across the room. The water never left. 

He had to pull away to breathe. Coughing up water, he called out to his father. “The water is surrounding him! He’s the center, no matter where he goes!” 

“Shit! That means we have to find the user! This was a way to bring us back into the restaurant!” 

“I’ll try to get him out. Look for the user!” Josuke shouted, trying to use Crazy Diamond to remove the water from the man’s lungs. 

It wasn’t working. He could remove the water from the lungs, but there was still no oxygen flowing in. He couldn’t force the man to breathe. All he did was stop the bloating. 

“Shit, shit, shit! ” He shouted, wracking his brain for a way to save him. 

Joseph stormed into the kitchen in search of the user. Such a powerful Stand had to be close range. He scanned the room frantically for anybody who seemed suspicious. He took a bowl of cleaned forks and lifted it above his head. 

Hermit Purple!” He shouted, throwing the bowl onto the ground. Every single fork pointed in the same direction after scattering on the floor. 

Joseph nodded, following the direction of his Stand and walking across the room. He noticed a small cup of water sitting on the table all alone. Instantly skeptical, he stopped in his tracks and glared at the cup. That’s when he noticed something below out of the corner of his eye. He looked down and saw a little flounder flopping at his feet. The odd-looking fish was bouncing onto his dress shoes. It took a moment to realize that it wasn’t just odd. It looked like…

“A Stand!” He shouted, wrapping Hermit Purple around his foot.

It was too late, though. He watched in horror as a large orb of water rose from the flopping flounder. In an instance it completely absorbed him. He coughed in shock, bubbles forming around his mouth as he held his throat in a panic. He managed to mouth the words “ Oh my God!” as he kicked and thrashed in the bubble. 

Joseph was drowning. 

Josuke was busy dealing with the man in the dining area. The logical part of his brain had given up, hoping that Joseph would find and defeat the user. However, his irrational side was still tugging at the man in a futile attempt to keep him alive. Crazy Diamond couldn’t restore oxygen to his lungs because whatever force was drowning the man seemed to be of equal strength. It was overriding the power of Crazy Diamond’s restoration. He couldn’t give the man air. 

That’s when a powerful footstep could be heard from the far side of the room. Josuke turned his head expecting to see his father. Instead, he saw a very clean cut young black man tapping his dress shoe. He was wearing a purple dress shirt with the top three buttons undone. White dress pants with an odd belt that resembled a life raft. Sticking with the strange attire, he had on “life jacket” earrings, and a tattoo of an anchor on his right hand. 

“Daddy can’t come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?” The man grinned. 

Josuke clenched his fists. “And who the hell are you then?” 

“The name’s Lester Lane, and I’m gonna get you wet.” 

“Let this man go! You caught us! He doesn’t have to drown.” Josuke reasoned. 

“You think I give a shit about that guy? He’s a pawn in our chess game. That’s it. If you wanna save him, come at me.” 

The sergeant grit his teeth in anger. Lester was trying to antagonize him. He needed to keep his cool. Otherwise he’d die too. If the enemy was being honest, Joseph was drowning that very moment. It was all up to Josuke now. He flexed his hands nervously, biting into his lip and looking over Lester’s appearance. 

“My guy.” He growled in a low tone. “If I come at you, I’m not sure if even my Crazy Diamond will be able to clean the blood off these pretty white walls.” 

Lester Lane couldn’t help but smile. “Do you know what’s beautiful about drowning, Josuke?” 

The sergeant wasn’t impressed. “What?” 

“The human body is seventy percent water, right? So in a way… I’m making these people whole.” 

In a flash, Lester found a fork lodged in his throat. He stumbled back, holding the fork in utter shock. Josuke had enough of the man’s ramblings. He displayed his superior speed and force by throwing a fork across the room at near-light speed. Lester fell back against the wall as unpleasant sounds escaped his pierced throat. 

“Aghhhhhhhhgghghhhh… You… F-Fuccccccccc” He tried to berate Josuke, but to no avail. 

With two hands in his pockets, Josuke stomped forward. Crazy Diamond took the comb and fixed his hair as the man approached Lester confidently. “What’s the matter, Mr. L? Having trouble swallowing your food? Maybe wash it down with some water.” 

Crazy Diamond grabbed a glass of water from one of the tables, hucking it at Lester’s face. The glass shattered, lodging shards in the man’s skin. He cried out in pain, water getting all over his nice clothes. 

“I can appreciate your style. The earrings are pretty garish, but the shirt really works for you. Too bad it’s about to be covered in your messy blood.” Josuke growled, getting ready to pummel Lester into oblivion. 

That’s when he felt something strange underneath his foot. Something wet, slick and floppy was currently writhing underneath Josuke’s shoe. He raised a brow, looking down. It seemed to be some kind of messed up fish. It looked relatively normal, but there were strange armor-like protrusions from its forehead, and its fins seemed to be spiked. It took a moment for his brain to put two and two together. 

“A Stand!” He shouted. 

But it was too late. Swim Good had emerged victorious. A dome of water surrounded Josuke immediately. He coughed in shock, accidentally inhaling some of the bitter salt water. It burned his throat, causing his entire head to ache. His nose was inflamed, and he could feel an odd pressure in his forehead. 

Lester pulled the fork out of his throat, throwing it aside. Then, a bit of water formed in the found, staying perfectly in place. No more blood could seep through. The water was acting as a barrier. 

“That’s right, fuckface! I was playing you! The big guy told me you had a temper! My Stand is perfect for guys like you. So inconspicuous, so unassuming! It hides and waits for the perfect opportunity! Just like my all time favorite Pokemon, Magikarp! 

The sergeant was busy clenching his own throat in a futile attempt to protect himself. 

“Ever since I was a little kid I always looked up to Magikarp. He was trying his best, goddammit! A fish out of water! He was flopping around and fighting his little heart out! We were one in the same! I had this biiiiiiiiiig Magikarp stuffed pillow when I was growing up. And for my eleventh birthday my dad dressed up in a home-made Magikarp costume! Man, wild times.” He laughed. “I’ve got a good family. I really should call my Momma.” 

As Josuke choked to death, Lester got his phone out and dialed his mother’s phone number. “Momma? Momma? What do you mean it’s early? It’s like one in the afternoon.” 

There was a pause. 

“Oooooh! Time Zones! Dammit, Momma, you’re right. I’m in socialist time right now. What time is it back in America? Really? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up. No, no. I love you more. G’night, Momma.” He made the iconic Magikarp sound from the Pokemon animated cartoon before hanging up the phone. “Where were we? Oh, right! You’re drowning, and your Daddy’s drowning too.” He laughed. 

The only thing Josuke hated more than losing was losing to someone as insufferable as Lester-fucking-Lane. He thrashed around in a bubble of water, unable to break free. That’s when he tried to attack with Crazy Diamond. He still wasn’t quite within reach. It was beginning to seem hopeless. 

“Hey Josuke, you’re from Japan, right? Isn’t it like, super messed up that you guys get Pokemon games first? Even though the American population actually buys them even more than you?” 

Josuke’s last moments weren’t going to be centered around Pokemon. He wouldn’t let that happen. He needed a plan. Something had to give. There was no such thing as an invincible Stand. Despite that, he was beginning to feel lightheaded. He wouldn’t be able to fight it much longer. Higashikata Josuke was nearly out of breath… 

That’s when a crash could be heard from the other room. Lester turned his head curiously. A moment later, a purple vine wrapped itself around a table on the far side of the room. Joseph came bounding in, pulling himself with all his might and bringing the orb of water right along with him. With Hermit Purple it was merely like gliding around in zero gravity. 

Lester’s eyes widened. “That doesn’t make any sense! You should be drowning!” 

All Joseph could do was smile. Now that he was properly positioned in the dining area, he looked over to Lester and pointed right at him. Hermit Purple wrapped around Swim Good’s user effortlessly, pulling him into Joseph’s orb of water. The old man held Lester close to him, planning to force him to drop the Stand Ability and save everybody. 

You fool! Lester thought to himself. Ever since I was five, I would practice holding my breath underwater in case a Magikarp wanted to take me on an aquatic adventure! You’ve already spent three minutes in this orb! You can’t outlast me! 

Joseph just looked into Lester’s eyes fiercely without any intent of letting go. He held the water-fanatic tight for over a minute. All the while Josuke was drowning in his own bubble. Joseph wasn’t even flushed. He didn’t seem distressed at all. After another minute, Lester’s lungs were stinging. He didn’t know how much longer he could hold it. 

What’s happening!? How is Joseph holding out so long!? Is he… Could he be?

After another fifteen seconds, Swim Good’s ability was released. Everyone washed onto the floor, coughing and gasping for dear life. The old man from before was unconscious. Josuke was heaving, barely able to move. That just left Joseph and Lester. The moment the shorter man caught his breath, he was already being slammed against the wall. 

“You son of a bitch.” Joseph growled, slamming him again. “ Why’d you kill Mira? WHY!? People aren’t just pawns in our game, you sick bastard.” 

Lester was still dazed from before. He was panting for air, unable to speak. The man coughed a bit of water onto Joseph’s shirt, trying to lift a hand. 

“Ma-Magik…. Magikarp…” He groaned. 

“What in the hell is a Magikarp?” Joseph demanded. 

“You… You’re a real-life water type.” The enemy managed to explain. 

Joseph didn’t know about all that. Yes, it was true that he held his breath for a pretty extreme amount of time. He was trying not to think about the state of his body because it honestly frightened him. He had no real idea what exactly Blondie did to him. His only guess was that Santana’s DNA had made him Pillar Man enough to not require as much oxygen as the average human. For the time being, he didn’t fret about the details. 

“Josuke! You bipedal yet? Tell me what he’s talking about. Is it one of those youtube things?” 

The sergeant was busy healing the innocent old man who nearly met his fate at the hands of Swim Good. Once he was done, he groaned. 

“Pokemon. It’s a kid’s game.” 

“It is not!” Lester screamed, kicking around as Joseph held him by the collar of his shirt. “Pokemon is a game for all ages with comprehensive battle systems and elemental mappings that are clearly for adults to master and for the kids to enjoy! So fuck you!” 

Joseph let go of the man, raising a brow. “Pokemon? I think Shizuka has a blanket of one of those little guys. The orange dragon, right?” He asked, tapping his lip with his index finger thoughtfully. 

“That’s Charizard.” Josuke mumbled, walking up and standing next to his father. “He’s honestly pretty cool.” 

Joseph laughed heartily, nodding in agreement. “He is! I’d love one of those as a guard dog for my buildings!” 

Lester just flopped on the floor helpless and alone like a Magikarp. He was soaking wet, and his throat hurt from the fork earlier. “Why’d the big guy tell me you two would be easy?” 

The father and son stopped discussing potential pokemon-themed Halloween costumes for Shizuka and noticed Lester’s question. 

“The big guy? Who are you talking about?” Josuke questioned. 

At that moment, Lester began to shake uncontrollably. Foam oozed from his lips, and his eyes bulged out wide and bloodshot. He reached up desperately for help. But before Josuke could stop the reaction with Crazy Diamond, Lester was gone. The men just stared in horror for a moment, trying to understand what happened. 

“Is he…?” Josuke questioned. 

“Joseph Joestar.” A gruff voice called from the other side of the dining area. “Your next line is: Who managed to poison him while we were right here?” 

Joseph and Josuke turned to see a man cloaked in darkness about twenty feet away. He wore a sinister mask with ancient wind-like designs and an hourglass on the forehead. If his Stand was what poisoned Lester, the range was terrifying. And how on Earth did he predict Joseph? They were in a load of trouble. 

To be continued...





Chapter Text

Joseph and Josuke stared at the masked man in a mix of confusion and fear. Somehow, this new enemy managed to poison Lester from across the room. Not only that, but he successfully predicted what Joseph was going to say in response. They just stood there silently sizing up their new foe. He stood in a very strange way. His aura had no violent intent. It was almost as if he didn’t plan to fight them. 

“And who are you then?” Joseph faked some bravado, resting a hand on his hip. 

“Tired of this conversation.” The man said in a concise, gravely tone. 

“Well Jesus. We just started, my man.” 

In a fluid, precise movement, the masked man kicked the leg of a lovely wooden chair. There were many like it in the massive dining area. However, he managed to kick the chair’s leg in such a way that the wood snapped, sending it flying across the room at a high velocity. The broken end was about to connect with Joseph’s face. 

Crazy Diamond caught it at the last minute, crushing the wood in its hand as Josuke watched in shock. 

“Was that his Stand? No.” Josuke narrowed his eyes. “He didn’t get his Stand out. He just launched that with his own human precision.” 

They were immediately intimidated. Something was seriously off. His stance, his speech, his attack. If Joseph didn’t know any better, he’d say the man was oozing boredom and apathy. He was normally so good at reading his opponent, but this cloaked foe was beyond him. He grits his teeth, clearing his throat. 

“Josuke, to beat this guy we’re going to need to use the Joestar family’s secret technique.” 

“Secret technique?” 

“How are your legs feeling, my boy?” 

“My legs?” 

At that moment the enemy took a spoon from a nearby table. He eyed it carefully, placing his index finger in the dip of the top end, holding the bottom firmly with three fingers from his other hand. He looked up at the ceiling for just a moment before flinging the spoon directly up. The piece of silverware flew right into a nice chandelier, causing it to fall down and crash against a table. 

That wasn’t all, though. Shards of glass from the chandelier flew across the room and landed right in Joseph’s eyes. 

“Shit!” He cried out, holding his hands up to his eyes in pain. 

Josuke was about to heal him, but he felt an imposing presence approaching. He turned just in time to see the man sprinting directly at him. The sergeant let out a sound of surprise, placing Crazy Diamond between himself and the attacker. Despite the appearance of an impending attack, the masked man actually stopped short of Josuke. He stood there perfectly still about two meters away. He’d placed himself just outside Crazy Diamond’s range. 

They both stared at each other for nearly fifteen seconds. What could the man possibly be waiting for? Why hadn’t he gotten his Stand out? Did he even have one? Was it a combat Stand? All of these thoughts rushed through Josuke’s mind as he waited for anything to happen. Joseph fell back onto his ass trying to wipe the glass out of his eyes. 

The sergeant needed to heal his father. However, the moment he moved Crazy Diamond in the direction of Joseph it would be over. He became even more panicked at the realization. Somehow this man had put him in checkmate within a single move. It was all too perfectly planned. How did he know that the shards would go into Joseph’s eyes and not Josuke’s? How did he know they’d go anywhere near the men at all? It was all too coordinated. Too premeditated. In all his fights he had never felt hopeless within seconds. This was different. 

“Aren’t you going to move?” He challenged the mysterious man. 

“I have no reason to move.” 

“I could attack you.” 

“We both know you’d miss.” 

The utter confidence was overwhelming. Josuke had seen misplaced confidence dozens of times. Enemies thought they could beat him because of their ignorance, arrogance, and overall stupidity. However, he could tell this man was the real deal. If Josuke wasn’t careful he was going to die. He had to test something. A theory was digging in the back of his mind. 

I’m going to attack in thirteen seconds. 

He just stared patiently at the man, neither party electing to shift an inch from their comfy positions. However, the moment Josuke counted to thirteen in his head, the man began to duck. His eyes widened. Crazy Diamond was already in the act of attacking. Somehow before he’d even realized what was going on, the man ducked right under Crazy Diamond’s fists. He knew when the attack was coming. How did he know!? 

The masked man slid closer, getting a knife out and swinging it right at Josuke’s stomach. Checkmate. It was over. Somehow this Standless individual managed to best him. None of it made sense. The knife didn’t connect with his stomach, though. In fact, the man stopped in his tracks, backing away from Josuke immediately. 

“That was a close one.” The man muttered to himself. 

Josuke’s eyes widened. A close one? What had just saved his life? The enemy grabbed a knife off of a nearby table and threw it. The knife wasn’t going anywhere near Josuke or Joseph. That’s when the sergeant heard a grunt of pain. The knife seemed to stick to thin air. Then, a drop of blood fell onto the carpet. A moment later, Pepsi appeared about ten feet to Josuke’s left. The sergeant’s mind stalled. Pepsi was here? What the hell was Pepsi doing here!? 

There wasn’t much time to wonder about what happened. They were clutching the knife embedded in their arm, a dark shroud still covering their face. It was impossible to discern their emotional state, but pained was probably a safe guess. 

“Pepsi! What’s going on!?” Josuke questioned. 

“Wait, the kid is here?” Joseph shouted in response. 

The masked man was conflicted. For, you see, he had only received permission to kill Josuke. Blondie might have a use for this teen. Now he had to work around two opponents he wasn’t allowed to kill in an attempt to defeat Josuke. 

Pepsi was incredibly distressed. Although their face didn’t show it, they were freaking out. No one had ever seen past Mist’s shroud before. It couldn’t be done. Somehow this enemy had managed to predict their attack, retreat, and accurately throw a knife directly at them. Panic set in shortly after. Their one ability was to go unnoticed. The only thing that mattered to them was tarnished by this man. It was hard to think straight, to strategize, or to even focus on the pain of the knife. 

Things were getting more and more out of control. Josuke decided to use this opportunity to heal Joseph. The moment he was about to move, however, the enemy lunged forward once again. The sergeant cursed under his breath, forced to defend himself instead of healing his father. However, the masked man leapt away a moment later. He landed on a nearby table, perched like a bird as he assessed his opponents. 

“He’s so careful.” Josuke mumbled. “Why is someone that’s so strong this careful?” 

“I’m not out of the fight…” Joseph stumbled to his feet, bleeding from his closed eyes. 

Despite his blindness, Joseph threw his hand forward and summoned his Stand. “Hermit Purple! Be my eyes!” He shouted. The purple vines shot directly toward the masked man. He jumped directly over them, landing on another table. The man stomped on a fork’s tip, flipping it into the air and catching it. When a vine appeared he stabbed it, pushing it down to the table with his foot. Another vine approached, grabbing his left wrist. He grunted, jumping high and landing right on the table. It gave out under his weight and force, collapsing to the floor. He grabbed a split piece of wood and jammed it into the vine holding his left hand, forcing it to let go. 

The mystery man ducked out of nowhere, falling flat onto his chest. He kicked directly behind with great force, launching himself forward off of seemingly thin air. A moment later Pepsi could be seen falling back in pain. They had been ready to knock him out from behind, but he saw right through it. Somehow, in the heat of battle, he’d managed to detect Pepsi without even looking in their direction. 

He rolled forward and sprang to his feet quickly. He at least seemed to look a little tired after all of that. Pepsi was holding their stomach in pain about five feet away. 

“It doesn’t make sense.” They grunted. “At first I thought he could see me… But that’s not it. Can he see the future? That doesn’t explain his precision.” 

Josuke gritted his teeth. “Get away from him, kid! It’s too dangerous!” 

Pepsi had an idea. They rolled away and activated Mist’s shroud once again. After regaining their breath, they stood up and stared the masked man down. He didn’t seem to notice them. They circled around him carefully, never getting too close. His head didn’t follow them. They came back directly in front of him, standing about a foot away. Still, he couldn’t see. There was something different about their behavior. Pepsi no longer had any intention of revealing theirself to the man. They put their finger within an inch of his eye, threatening to poke it. Still, he wasn’t paying them any mind. This was beyond bluffing. His eyes weren’t reacting to their finger in any way. He truly couldn’t see them. Pepsi was beginning to piece the man’s ability together. If their suspicion was right, it was utterly horrifying. They could only think of one person who would even stand a chance against such a thing. Jotaro Kujo. 

Josuke was busy hatching a plan. He had a blind father and a stabbed teen who needed his help. However, the masked man seemed to stop him in his tracks any time he attempted to heal them. He didn’t know the specifics, but it was clear that planning against this man was impossible. He always knew what they were going to a moment before they did it. Sweat began to trail down his back as he grew more and more hopeless. How were they supposed to fight this? 

The masked man had enough. He lifted a hand to his head, pulling the mysterious mask from his face. Mortimer revealed himself to the Joestar party. His eyes were apathetic as they scanned the room, adjusting to the light momentarily. 

“Josuke,” He said in a gruff tone. “You escaped Blondie’s wrath. Not many people can say that. I’m here to settle the score. Joseph and the kid can leave. You’re my opponent.” 

The sergeant was shocked, to say the least. “ Me? You’re only after me?” 

Mortimer nodded. “Send them back to Naples. That way we can go all out.” 

It might not have made sense to Josuke, but it was crystal clear to Pepsi. Mortimer wasn’t allowed to hurt them. Not in any serious way, at least. In fact, he was being extremely careful to make sure any attack was tame. Every strike was to put distance between them. Every cut was to intimidate. Even the glass in Joseph’s eyes could be healed by Gold Experience with relative ease. Josuke was the only one that could be killed by Mortimer. That lead them to think about something. 

What if I killed myself? 

Pepsi appeared in front of Mortimer. They pulled the knife from their arm and held it up. He looked at them with caution. Then, they turned the knife to their own throat, about to cut it open. Mortimer lunged forward, slapping the knife out of their hand and kicking them back. Pepsi stumbled away, confident with their theory. He just protected them from their own demise. Mortimer had to keep them alive. 

“What’s wrong with you?” He questioned. 

They were well past talking. The teen ran over to another table, grabbing a fork and attempting to stab theirself once more. Mortimer had to lunge across the room and stop them once more. Josuke couldn’t figure out what was happening. He watched in awe as Mortimer wrestled three forks out of Pepsi’s hands, kneeing them in the stomach and throwing the silverware across the restaurant. 

The sergeant knew it was his opportunity. He turned to his father and summoned Crazy Diamond once more. Mortimer turned to face him, clearly enraged at the turn of events. However, the moment he averted his gaze from Pepsi the teen grabbed a plate and smashed it against the table. They held a single shard of the plate, trying to slit their own throat with it. Mortimer had to fight them for the shard, growling in anger. 

Josuke successfully made it to Joseph, touching and healing him instantly. The eldest of the group wiped his eyes momentarily before springing into action. 

“Josuke! What’s happening?” He questioned. 

“I-I dunno.” He admitted. “They’re trying to hurt theirself, but the man won’t let them.” 

Pepsi kicked him square in the gut, but he took the opportunity to grab their leg. With the new grip, he swung their body away from the table, using his superior strength and size to lob them about six feet away. They crashed into another table, shattering a few glasses and getting cuts on their back. They were still alive, though. 

Mortimer hissed in anger, turning his attention to the two men across from him. “So you fixed his eyes? That’s fine. I can still take care of you!” 

Before anyone could respond, Mortimer leapt behind a nearby table. A moment later six bangs could be heard from outside. One. Two. Three. Five. Six. Seven. They roared, echoing throughout the restaurant. A moment later the bullets came blasting inside through the window. They bounced around, searching for Mortimer.

“YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW!!!!!!” Six little voices cried out.

 That’s when Guido Mista came rolling in through the shattered window, raising his weapon the moment he landed. 

The sex pistols pinned down Mortimer’s location and began their attack. Each of the bullets made radical turns in the air targeting behind the table. After a few seconds, it would seem they did their job. Mista still watched carefully with his weapon ready to fire again. After about fifteen seconds of silent tension, Mortimer stood from behind the table unscathed. 

“What a terrifying power.” Mortimer mumbled under his breath. “That gave these old bones quite a workout.” 

Mista fired again. The sex pistols weren’t back yet, so he had to aim on his own. Mortimer easily dodged the gunslinger’s perfect aim, gritting his teeth in anger. 

“You know.” He growled. “Being shot really hurts.” 

“You should try it!” Mista barked across the room. 

“Who the hell are you?” Joseph questioned, assuming he was on their side. 

“I’m Guido Mista. Giogio sent me to watch over whatever funny business you had going on in Munich. I didn’t expect such a dangerous enemy to show up while I was on the can.” He mumbled. 

“You wouldn’t happen to have extra bullets for me, would you?” Josuke held out a hand. 

“Hmm?” Mista raised a brow. “Are you armed?” 

“Armed enough.” 

Mista slid a hand into his boot, dropping twelve bullets into Josuke’s palm. Mortimer was being calm, calculating his options. He was trying to decide which path was the best. A moment later he was interrupted by Crazy Diamond flicking a bullet right at him. He ducked, panting. Boston Foreplay was unbeatable, but even the strongest of people face hardships. Guido Mista presented yet another problem. If Mortimer was to kill an elite member of Passione, Blondie would have his head. The one person on Earth that Blondie feared was Giorno Giovanna. He remembered her words clearly. 

“As I am now, Giorno Giovanna would destroy me. I’d appreciate not having to trouble myself with developing a way to destroy his Stand.” 

He knew what she meant. She wasn’t positive she could beat him. While Mortimer didn’t know Gio’s ability, he feared it simply because Blondie did. Inspiring the wrath of Passione’s boss wasn’t an option. This wasn’t a matter of facing consequences. Killing Mista was suicide. Isolating Josuke was seeming more and more impossible. Boston Foreplay didn’t lose. It wasn’t supposed to be an option. Despite that, he was backed into a wall. 

“Mista!” Pepsi shouted in distress, finally recovering from their beatdown. “If he hurts Josuke, shoot me. You got that? Right in the head. It’s his Stand! We have to work around his Stand!” 

Mista hardly even noticed the teen before they spoke. He couldn’t make out the details of their blurred face, but he recognized the outfit. They were one of Jotaro’s friends. How hadn’t he noticed them the entire time he tracked Joseph and Josuke? It didn’t matter. He’d been in enough dire situations to take their words at face value. “Right in the head? You got it.” 

The cloaked man was becoming more and more unhinged. His plan had fallen apart. Presented with a million different scenarios, he couldn’t see the one that led to victory. With the current circumstances, he couldn’t win. Josuke would live. Even if he managed to kill the sergeant without harming Joseph or Mista, the gunman would kill Pepsi a moment later. There was no way to keep the other three safe and accomplish his goal. 

“You four have no idea what you’ve avoided.” He said calmly. 

Mista raised a brow. “Oh yeah? Go ahead and fill me in.” 

“I hope you never know, Guido Mista. This is it for now.” 

Mortimer turned his back and walked toward the kitchen exit. Mista looked shocked. “Hey, jackass! We’re back here!” 

He began to give chase, but Pepsi grabbed his ankle. “No. Let him go. We’re lucky he’s gone.” They panted. 

“Are you crazy? We can’t let someone like that go! How did he dodge all six of my bullets? Why’d you want me to shoot you?” 

Sex Pistols emerged from behind the table a few seconds later. They all flew over to Mista in a flurry of tiny voices. 

“MISTA!” Number Five shouted. 

“He deflected all of our bullets, Mista!” Number Seven explained. 

“With silverware!” Number One added. 

The gunslinger rubbed his chin in confusion. “He deflected them using silverware? That’s absurd. He’d have to know exactly where they were going to be. My Stand can change the direction of bullets in midair with extreme angles.”

“Do you think he can see the future, Mista!?” Number Five whined, being smacked by Number Three a moment later. 

“Don’t be an idiot, Number five! The only one who could do that is dead!” Number Three barked. 

Joseph and Josuke watched in awe as the Stands argued with one another. They’d heard of colony Stands, but never of groups that had unique personalities. In fact, they seemed to be at odds regularly. 

“Quiet, all of you! I need to make a call.” Mista groaned, grabbing his phone and dialing. “Gio? No, they didn’t do anything suspicious. They were attacked by a dangerous user. He dodged my Sex Pistols by deflecting them with silverware. He didn’t even get his Stand out. Seems like seriously bad news.” 

Everyone waited for a moment as Giorno spoke on the other end. 

“Okay. I’ll bring them back. You got it. Yes, I’ll be safe.” He rolled his eyes, hanging up and directing his attention at Pepsi. “You, with the weird face, get up.” 

He offered them a hand, lifting them to their feet and patting their clothes down a bit. “Why didn’t I see you while I was tailing the others?” 

“And for that matter, why are you here? You should have stayed back in Naples where it’s safe.” Joseph interjected. 

Pepsi just stood there expressionless. “I saw you two leaving late at night and was curious. Things started getting really personal, so I put in some headphones and stopped listening. I just followed you guys around until it was time to go back.” 

Josuke sighed, walking up to the teen and healing their stab wound. “Your sister would have killed us if you got hurt.” 

“My sister will get it.” 

Mista checked his watch, placing his pistol back in its holster and tapping his foot. “Alright. We’ve got a direct flight to Naples cancelled. We’ll be taking it instead. Let’s go to the airport.” 

“Won’t the passengers be pissed?” Josuke questioned. 

Mista shrugged. “Probably. They can wait.” 

“Wait, I’ve had flights to Italy abruptly cancelled before. Was that Passione?” Joseph asked in an irritated tone. 

“Could be. I’m sure you got over it.” 

The older man just grit his teeth. “Let’s just go then, hmm?” 

About an hour later they were cruising through the beautiful evening sky. Pepsi seemed to be asleep in their chair a few rows back. Joseph and Josuke sat next to one another. The younger man leaned his head against the window overlooking the ocean far below. After a very long period of silence, he spoke. 

“Hey.” He mumbled. 

Joseph had been dozing off. His arms were crossed with his knee up against the seat in front of him. His eyes opened quickly, and he blinked rapidly as he came to. “Yeah?” 

“You said you didn’t regret your affair for a second.” 

“I did?” 

“Right before we freaked out about the lemons, yeah.”

“Oh, I suppose I did, huh?”

Another awkward silence. 

“...why? How could you say something like that when it nearly ruined your marriage?”

Joseph just smiled softly. He adjusted himself in the uncomfortable chair before slinging an arm around his boy. “Cheating on Suzi Q was the biggest mistake of my life. But, like flowers rising from a corpse’s decay, unbelievable fortune sprouted from that decision. You were born, Josuke. A son! A life. Something that shouldn’t have happened, but still is so beautiful.” He explained. “Not to mention all the good that’s come from your life. You helped stop Yoshikage Kira all those years ago, saving countless women and letting that little girl’s soul rest. You’ve lowered the crime rate of Morioh substantially, and have brought a sense of peace and security to the entire city.” 

Josuke couldn’t help but smile, looking down at his shoes. He didn’t know how to handle this kind of talk. 

“And if I hadn’t come to visit you that summer, who knows what would have happened to Shizuka?” Joseph smiled. “We saved her too. Another daughter. Another life. All from something that shouldn’t have happened. A single mistake can lead to unbelievable misfortune, yes. But undoing something like that is cruel. No matter what goes wrong, it isn’t the flower’s fault for growing, is it? Don’t they deserve to bloom, even if they’re gaining nutrients from death?” 

The sergeant couldn’t help but agree with that perspective. Would any of them be alive if it weren’t for tragedies of the past? Mass plagues, genocides, slavery… They took so many lives. Lives that never got the chance at happiness like he did. Despite that, dwelling on the past is a fool’s errand. What’s important is to respect the fallen and look forward instead of back. His Crazy Diamond couldn’t repair broken families, war-torn countries, or even his deceased grandfather. All he could do was work to prevent the tragedies of the future. And god dammit, he would. He smiled a bit, resting back in his chair and closing his eyes. 

“Leave it to an old man to have such a shining piece of wisdom.” He chuckled. 

“Ya mind sodding off, son?” Joseph laughed, patting the man’s leg roughly. 

“Maybe someday. For now, let’s focus on tomorrow.” 

 

They arrived in Naples in the early evening. Mista escorted them back to the academy almost immediately. When they walked into the common area everyone sprang up from their seats. 

“You’re back!” Shizuka shouted. 

Jotaro closed his book, looking up at the new arrivals. “Oh good.” He stood up, walking over to them. “You didn’t get yourselves killed.” 

Josuke rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry everybody, the old man just needed some help with something. We got a little carried away.” 

“Carried away? You were gone all day. Not only that, but you look like shit.” Marina laughed, walking up to them as well. 

As everyone talked, Pepsi couldn’t help but look around the room. No Pa-Pa-Power. No Shirlie. Neither of them were anywhere to be seen. Didn’t they want to greet them? The teen frowned, not that anyone could see it. They did what they did best, fading away and leaving the conversation. Pepsi wandered to the bedroom they shared with their sister, knocking on the door. 

“What?” A quiet voice asked from the other side. 

Pepsi pushed the door open, seeing their sister sitting on one of the beds. The moment they entered the room they were slammed with a wave of sorrow. Tears welled in their eyes as they stood in the doorway. Meanwhile, Pa-Pa-Power was lying face down on the carpet beside the bed. He was practically melting into the floor, his body stiff and weak.

“Sorry I didn’t say anything.” They mumbled. 

Shirlie raised their head, frowning. “You left us. When was the last time we were apart?” 

Pepsi didn’t have an answer for that. They truly couldn’t recall the last time they were separated from their twin. Perhaps they’d actually never been apart. That was an interesting situation. 

“I don’t know what happened.” They admitted. “Joseph and Josuke were leaving, and I followed them. I can’t explain why.” 

Shirlie wiped her eyes, sniffling a bit. “You were the one who insisted we attack Blondie in that hanger too. We were going to run.” 

“...I know.” 

“And now we’re here in Italy, hiding away from an organization that wants us dead. I don’t understand why we’re here.” 

The mysterious teen walked over and sat down beside Pa-Pa-Power. Mist appeared, delicately petting Power’s head. Meanwhile Pepsi just looked down at him fondly. “I don’t know.” 

There was silence for quite a while. Power’s mood improved drastically with a bit of affection. Still, he was upset. His ability allowed Pepsi to truly experience the pain they caused their twin. Despite that, they had nothing to say. 

“I’m supposed to be the brave one.” Shirlie muttered. 

Mist’s shroud dropped. At that moment, Pepsi’s face could be seen by anyone. Their hazel eyes reflected the dim moonlight pouring in through the crack in the curtains. Their skin was very soft, and their nose was much sharper than one would expect. A small scar could be seen on their chin from the time they accidentally bashed their face open as a child. It wasn’t a traumatic scar; kids could just be stupid sometimes. The most notable part of their face was their expression. Shirlie’s face dropped in response. She rarely saw her twin’s face. Mist always kept it hidden away within the shroud. In that moment though, she could see Pepsi’s potent grief. 

“...you are the brave one.” They mumbled under their breath. 

Their voice was chilling. Any time they dropped their shroud they became a different person. Unsure, nervous, shy, easily startled, all of these were symptoms of their face being exposed. Still, Shirlie could feel their inner emotions as they played out. She understood what was happening. She might have been the only person on Earth who could connect with such a person. Mist might hide Pepsi’s feelings to the world, but Pa-Pa-Power could still sense them. They were two sides of the same coin. 

“What do you mean? I wanted to run away from the foundation! We were almost away! When Blondie grabbed Josuke, Pa-Pa-Power was begging me to do something. I couldn’t. I froze. That’s when you told Power to use his empathy on Blondie. I was so surprised when you punched her right in the face. I was so scared.” 

“It’s okay to be scared. I’m scared all the time. I’m scared right now.” The other twin admitted. “I only fought because of you. I could feel your desire to protect Josuke through Power. You wouldn’t have been able to live with yourself if we let him die there. I know it.” 

“So you fought because you knew it’s what I wanted?” 

“I fought because it’s what we needed. What did we have to run away to? More life on the road? More uncertainty? Stealing more wallets from men we willingly decide are sleazebags even though they’ve done nothing to imply they are?” 

Pa-Pa-Power lifted his head, looking Pepsi in the eyes with an expression of confusion and sorrow. 

“What’s the alternative? Is this supposed to be better? What if we die?” She asked as Power’s lips trembled. 

“What if we don’t die? What if we live, Shirlie?” Pepsi questioned with more emotion in their voice than ever before. Their monotone drone was gone. The empowered voice of a young adult with purpose took its place. “We’ve lived our whole lives terrified of what could happen. What if we were excited about it instead? We have friends… Friends who would die for us in a second. How many people have that? How did we find that when we weren’t even looking?” 

Shirlie was speechless. She just looked down at her Stand. Pa-Pa-Power pulled himself up from the floor, sitting cross-legged in front of Pepsi. They had his full attention now. Even if Shirlie wasn’t interested in what her twin had to say, her Stand revealed her true feelings. She wanted Pepsi to be right. 

“I went with them because of that.” They explained, only then realizing it. “Because if they’re willing to die for me, I’m willing to die for them. I went because I was worried. I wanted to protect them if I could. And y’know what?” There was a fire in their eyes now. A passion that had never occupied their vacant hazel orbs before. “I did. We faced someone that was more dangerous than Santana, and we lived! We lived because I was there. I dunno if Josuke would have made it home without me. That’s why I had to go. That’s why I have to go everywhere with them until this is over. We can’t split up. We can’t run away. We’re going to stop Blondie because she wants to destroy what we have. She wants to kill the Joestars. And I won’t let her.” 

The taller redhead just nodded. “Then you shouldn’t leave me either. Take me with you next time, okay?” 

Pepsi smiled fondly, nodding. “Okay. I promise.” 

Pa-Pa-Power tackled Pepsi into a massive hug, pressing all of his weight into them with a silent laugh. The teen couldn’t help but laugh as well, fueled by the joy Power was sending into the room. Shirlie hopped off the bed and got in on the hug as well, the three wrestling around the floor as they struggled to contain themselves. 

In another part of the academy, Shizuka was wandering the halls invisibly. She had gotten a little stir crazy in their small wing of the large building. The floors were carpeted, so her footsteps couldn’t be heard as she walked through the silent halls. She found an interesting door at the end of a corridor. It had a golden knob, unlike the silver ones every other door in the building. She opened it to find a large staircase. Always curious, she began to walk up the steps and see what there was to see. 

Shizuka found another door at the top of the steps. On the other side of that, she found herself on the roof of the academy. There was a lovely breeze filling the evening air. It was a full moon, giving Ultra Violet plenty of light to work with. She stayed invisible, walking up to the edge of the roof and looking down onto the city of Naples. That’s when she noticed something strange. A blonde man was sitting on a throne of vines suspended on the side of the building. He was reading a book, enjoying the breeze as well. 

After a moment, the book closed. The man looked up, revealing himself to be Giorno Giovanna. He sensed something odd about the air above him. The vines lifted him up, delicately placing his feet on the roof’s railing. 

“Is someone there?” He asked calmly. 

There was no real reason to hide, so Shizuka revealed herself. He smiled at her, hopping down onto the roof. “Hello, Jojo.” 

She smiled awkwardly, still incredibly intimidated by the boss. It was probably meant to be that way. All of his actions seemed calculated. He had this air about him. An air of confidence, strength, benevolence and grace. 

“Hi,” She waved nervously. 

“What brings you up here? Enjoying the view?” He asked, leaning his back against the railing and looking up at the stars. 

“I was just getting a little claustrophobic in that wing all day. Sorry for leaving without permission.” 

He waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry, your father already broke that rule. I suppose I have a soft spot for family. Who would have known?” He mused, turning to face the city and the moon. 

Shizuka joined him by his side, having to peer over the rail on her tiptoes. “Do you have any other family, then?” 

He shook his head. “An abusive step-father and a neglectful mother. It’s hardly worth mentioning. I don’t think anyone in Passione knows about my family history, to be perfectly honest.” 

“Sounds lonely, being at the top.” She quietly mused. “I mean, the view is nice, but don’t you ever get tired of looking down? Don’t you want people up here with you?” She asked, not entirely referring to the actual roof they were standing on.” 

He smiled, shaking his head. “I have a few trusted friends. Yes, they all serve under me, but it’s out of respect and admiration, not fear. I wouldn’t be where I was without them.” He explained. 

“But no one in your life is just a peer, right? You’re their boss.” 

Giorno took a button from his shirt and placed it in the palm of his hand. “Are you familiar with allelopathy?” He asked. When she shook her head, he continued. “It’s when plants inhibit one another’s growth. Sometimes it’s chemicals, other times it’s invasive, dominant roots. Take the black walnut tree, for example.” 

The button in his hand slowly morphed into a little tree sprout. Shizuka watched in fascination as it was granted life. He stretched it out as far as the little button could possibly grow, then handed it to the young girl. 

“The black walnut tree produces a chemical called hydrojuglone from every part of its body. The leaves, the roots, twigs, all of it produces juglone. The dead bits fall back into the earth, sinking the juglone deep into the soil surrounding the tree.” He explained. 

“What’s that do?” 

“There are many plants that can be killed by juglone. Azaleas, pine trees, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, all of these are destroyed when they’re too close to a black walnut tree.” 

“Are you the black walnut tree?” She asked softly. 

He smiled at her, shaking his head. “No. I’m its replacement. The former boss of Passione was a black walnut tree. His roots dug deep into the heart of Italy, killing everything within its reach. He poisoned this country all to sustain his own growth. When he started this gang, he promised to rid the streets of drugs and violent crimes. That’s why the people happily accepted Passione into their lives. Despite that promise, Diavolo was actually providing the most harmful drug Italy had ever seen. One of his underlings could turn salt into an addictive substance that lasted for two weeks. Since this only required salt and the man’s Stand, production and distribution had never been easier. There was no need for risky labs or foreign deals to acquire the goods he desired. He could create these drugs in a matter of seconds right where they needed to be sold. The city of Naples was falling apart.” 

“So what happened?” 

“I killed the boss, and a trusted friend took care of the drugs’ source.” 

Shizuka was confused. “Why are you telling me this? What does it have to do with you being the boss?” 

Giorno just smiled, taking the tree from her hand and changing it into a button once more. “I’m not like Diavolo. I’m not poisonous to the living things around me. Those who tried to get close to him were killed by his harmful presence. I’m the opposite. You asked if my friendships were weak because they view me as their boss? I promise you that’s not the case. My closest friends call me by name and drink from the same glass as me. We can laugh all night and sleep in a dog pile on the floor. There’s no skewed power dynamic. They look to me for guidance and strength because it’s who I am, not because I told them they must. Anyone is free to leave Passione at any time with no consequences. We don’t cause violence, we prevent it. I can assure you, I’m not lonely up on this rooftop. I’m accompanied by the strength and love of the entire city.” 

“Wow.” Is all Shizuka could manage to say for a moment. “I guess you’ve got it all figured out, huh?” 

“Far from it. We face problems every day. The difference is that I operate on the assumption that no problem is too big. I did the impossible years ago. Everything else seems small and manageable.” 

“What about Blondie? If she has her way, your country could fall apart. Aren’t you worried?” 

“You don’t need to worry about that. I’ve set up a meeting with Madam Dolly.” 

You’ve what!?” Shizuka squeaked, backing away from the railing. 

“Relax. It’s outside of Italy, and I’m not bringing anyone with me. We’re discussing the breach of our treaty. At least, that’s what she thinks is the purpose of our meeting. I’m going to assess her myself and see if your story is true. I can’t go to war with such a powerful organization off the word of a few people. I’m sure you understand.” 

Shizuka nodded. “I guess if anyone could fight her, it’s you.” 

“I truly hope it doesn’t come to that. I can promise you this, however. If her goal is to infect the entire planet with the arrow’s virus, she’ll never reach that reality. I’ll erase her from this world.” He said with certainty. There wasn’t even a sharpness to his voice. He delivered such an absolute threat with grace and poise. 

“I hope you’re right.” Is all she could say. 

He smirked, turning and leaning his back against the railing once more, his hands still wrapped around the bars behind him. 

“You’re not like most children, are you?” 

She was a little surprised by that question. “I guess not?” 

He chuckled. “For someone who’s probably ten, you sure act like an adult where it counts. Why is that?” 

Shizuka couldn’t really think of an answer. “I’ve always been a little different from the other kids. I try not to think about it too much. Class is easy, social skills come naturally- I read at a high school level. I dunno, does there have to be a reason?” 

“I feel a kindredness with you.” He admitted. “I wasn’t quite that far beyond my peers, but I can relate to the feeling of being removed from my years. I suppose it makes sense considering our relation.” 

She shook her head. “Oh, no. I’m not related to you by blood. I’m adopted.” 

He raised a brow, standing up straight and looking at her skeptically. “You’re not the biological daughter of Joseph Joestar?” 

“...no? Why do you seem so surprised?” She mumbled nervously. 

His eyes went from skepticism to curiosity. “Because we’re related by blood, Shizuka. I can feel it. You’re my family.” 

She was beginning to feel incredibly confused. Related to Giorno? That wasn’t possible. How could he even be certain about something so absurd? Was the boss of Passione a little deranged? Could he be off his rocker? What was the explanation?

“Your neck. Do you have a birthmark on your neck?” He asked calmly. 

“No, because I’m not a Joestar by blood. I’m telling you that.” She said firmly. 

“Show me, please. Show me and I’ll drop the subject.” 

She bit her lip nervously. Despite her hesitation, she took her sweater off and slung it over the railing. She was wearing a simple tank top underneath which showed the back of her neck in full. There was no star mark to be seen. Why? Because she wasn’t related to Giorno. Still, he moved his hand closer. It began to glow gold as it hovered above her neck. 

Giorno raised a brow. “I’m sensing some kind of energy surrounding your neck, Shizuka.” He said under his breath. “Something definitely wrong with you. I can feel two sources of life in your body.” 

She nodded her head calmly. “I know all about that. There’s a second Stand inside me. It’s not harmful or anything.” 

“A second Stand?” He echoed her curiously. “Why haven’t you been able to remove it?” 

“I don’t want to remove it. It’s been showing me visions, things I need to know. It’s how we ended up here in the first place. It showed me a vision of you helping a little girl on the street. That’s why we came to have Josuke healed. It’s because I saw you heal that girl’s stab wound.” 

“Fascinating. Two Stands? Your body isn’t rejecting it at all. What could possibly be the point of a parasitic Stand that helps the victim? Where did you get such a thing?” 

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s been there forever? What’s with all the questions? I thought you were focusing on my neck.” She mumbled, crossing her arms nervously. 

“This is about your neck, Shizuka. I’m feeling an energy right here. ” He pressed his index finger against the back of her neck, near her left shoulder blade. “It’s different from the second Stand. It’s your ability. Your life force is focused right here. Why is that?” 

She had no idea what he was talking about. For some reason, though, she was beginning to panic. Something deep within her was triggered by his questioning. She felt like she needed to fight. She needed to get away from him. Ultra Violet appeared, staring at Giorno intensely with glowing white eyes. 

“What’s the meaning of this?” He asked, calm as ever. “Are you planning to fight me over the mark on your neck?”

“There isn’t a mark!” She shouted, gritting her teeth. 

“Release your ability, and I mean release it completely. Even from your neck.” He ordered softly. 

She was panting heavily now, sweat forming on her forehead as she tensed up. Something in her gut was telling her not to do it. The word “no” bounced around her mind like a stray bullet in a metal room. It tore through all logic and reason. She couldn’t entertain Giorno’s question. She just couldn’t. Her very essence was rejecting the notion. 

“Gold Experience Requiem.” He said softly, manifesting his Stand. 

The golden hand touched her neck gently. A shiver ran down her spine, and it felt like all of the oxygen was siphoned from her lungs in one sweeping moment. Then came the pain. She cried out in agony as Gold Experience Requiem cancelled her Stand ability. It set Ultra Violet to zero, ceasing the light manipulation that it was currently using. 

The little girl fell onto her hands and knees, barely catching herself before her head slammed into the concrete. She watched as drops of sweat appeared on the ground mere inches from her face. She felt naked. She felt like something was wrong. Something that could never happen had just happened. What was happening to her?” 

“Jojo.” Giorno said in a low, somber tone. “I see it.” 

Towering over the panicked child, Giogio could see the Joestar family birthmark clear as day on the back of her neck. He stood still, letting her catch her breath as he analyzed it carefully. There was no denying it. First Achtung Baby, then Ultra Violet protected this secret. Without Shizuka’s knowledge or consent, her Stand had been refracting light in a particular way for her entire life. Since the day Joseph found her in Morioh, the Stand was obscuring the birthmark on her back. It was the best-kept secret of her existence. 

Shizuka was a Joestar by blood. 

That didn’t make any sense! Why did she turn up in the middle of Morioh if she was related to the Joestars? Who were her biological parents? Which Joestar was she the child of? She felt her arms shaking and was unable to hold herself any longer. Shizuka collapsed against the pavement, falling unconscious under the weight of the world. 

 

About twenty minutes later in the common room of the private wing, Shizuka was lying unconscious on a couch in the middle of the room. Jotaro, Joseph, Josuke, Marina, Ripley and Giorno were standing around her. None of them knew what to say. Everyone had seen the star birthmark that was revealed by Gold Experience Requiem. After deafening silence, someone finally spoke. 

“So what’s the big deal if she’s a Joestar by blood? It hasn’t mattered for her entire life, right?” Marina suggested, raising her hands as if to say “eh.” 

“It’s troubling because we know exactly what’s happened with our family tree. All the way up to my great grandfather George Joestar the First. He was an only child, so was his father, and that man’s father.” Joseph explained. “My grandfather died on a ship to the United States in the late 1800’s. Luckily my grandmother survived and gave birth to my father. I only had one child, who gave birth to Jotaro. Jotaro has Jolyne. Dio Brando possessed my grandfather’s body and had Giorno. That’s all accounted for. So where does Shizuka fit into the mix?” 

Marina didn’t really have an answer to that. “Seems like this Dio guy got around?” 

“No.” Jotaro said firmly. In fact, it was a little too sudden. “Dio died in 1989. Shizuka wasn’t born for another decade. It can’t be him. She’s not his daughter.” 

“Well damn, professor.” Marina raised a hand defensively. “I guess that’s fair.” 

“This is still concerning on multiple levels.” Joseph rubbed his smooth chin thoughtfully. “My baby girl has two Stands? And she’s somehow a Joestar despite all the odds? None of it makes sense.” 

“She’s tough as nails, Jiji. You don’t need to worry. We’ll figure this out.” Jotaro said more for his own benefit than Joseph’s. 

The old man couldn’t help but chuckle. “To think, my first daughter couldn’t conquer her Stand as a grown woman. My only son was nearly killed by it at a young age. And here we are, somehow with a ten-year-old girl handling two Stands at the same time? What’s her spirit made of?” 

“Platinum.” Jotaro said with a small smile. “It runs in the family.” 

Ripley had been silently observing the entire time. Finally, she had something to add. “There’s a question no one’s asking.” She interjected. “Even if Dio was somehow her father, who on Earth is the mother? How did Shizuka end up in Morioh at the perfect time to be found by Joseph? Are we really meant to believe that was fortunate happenstance? Especially with the new revelation that she’s related to him?”

“I don’t know.” Joseph shrugged. “She says that second Stand is giving her visions of the past. They’re key events that seem to be telling a story. I guess we might have to accept the fact that we can’t have the answers yet. All we can do is wait for the Stand to show her the truth.” 

“Back in Morioh we had Rohan attempt to read her past with Heaven’s Door. That’s the first time the Stand showed itself. It attacked him to prevent the story from getting out. Who’s to say it won’t attack us if we try to figure it out? It’s probably aware right now, even though Shizuka’s asleep.” Jotaro explained. 

Once again, there was tension. The idea that a Stand inhabiting Shizuka’s body could attack them at any moment was unnerving. Jotaro was right though. If they didn’t poke and prod, it would likely leave them alone. 

“If that’s true, the Stand was alright with Shizuka learning about her bloodline tonight. I didn’t sense any resistance from it while revealing the birthmark. Even I played into its plan.” Giorno realized with a frown. 

There was a knock at the door. Everyone turned their attention to the entrance. A moment later, Panacotta Fugo opened the door and stepped into the room. He looked just as serious as the rest of the present company. 

“Gio.” He said in a low voice. “There’s a problem.” 

Giorno nodded calmly. “Go ahead then. I trust everyone in this room completely.” 

Fugo didn’t necessarily agree with that trust, but that’s why Giorno was the one making the decisions. “Polnareff is gone.” 

The boss’s eyes widened, and he wasn’t the only one. 

“Polnareff?” Jotaro stepped forward, utter shock on his face. “Jean Pierre Polnareff?” 

Fugo was skeptical of the man who once considered killing his boss. “Why do you know that name?” 

Joseph stood beside his grandson, crossing his arms. “We go way back. He’s a little too dead to be missing though.” 

This perplexed Giorno beyond reason. “You know Mr. Polnareff? He never mentioned a connection to the Joestars.” 

“He was part of the group that killed Dio. Jiji and I thought he died years ago. He went completely silent after investigating Stand-related crime in this country. The last message we ever received from him was, ‘Danger. Never come to Italy.’ Shortly after that I got word from the foundation that I needed to drop the subject entirely. They told me he was dead.”

Giorno frowned. “His body was killed by Diavolo, the most powerful opponent I’ve ever faced. But his soul lived on inside of a Stand called Mr. President. It’s a room inside of a turtle. The Stand is meant to hide people for easy transport, but Polnareff’s spirit could actually survive inside it. He’s been an informant ever since.” 

“You mean to tell me Polnareff is inside a damn turtle!?” Joseph demanded. 

Jotaro couldn’t help but smile. “It suits him.” 

Giorno wasn’t entertained. “He shouldn’t be missing. He has a security guard. What happened to him?” 

“We found a lot of blood.” Fugo said bluntly. 

The boss grit his teeth together, nodding. “Okay. We’ll find him. If he’s been taken that means they want him alive. Or, as alive as Polnareff can ever be.” 

“How can we help?” Jotaro asked. 

“By staying here. It’s not that I think you’re useless, but you have no knowledge of the area. We’ll find Polnareff, I promise. Then we’ll reunite you.” Giorno snapped his fingers, pointing at Fugo. “Start looking. Shake every tree, understand? I have a few phone calls to make.” 

After another minute or so, the Joestar party was alone yet again. With nothing left to do, Joseph sat down on the couch and ran his fingers through Shizuka’s hair. The girl’s eyes fluttered open, and she let out a whimper. 

“Shizuka! You’re awake!” Joseph pulled her up into his lap, holding her close. 

She felt groggy and weak. Her birthmark was still on display with her back turned to most of the group. “What happened?” 

“Everything’s alright.” Joseph assured her. “It’s getting pretty late. Let’s take the boss’s advice and do nothing. I’m taking her to bed. In fact, I could stand to get some sleep myself. It’s been one hell of a day.” 

Everyone grunted in agreement, wandering to their respective bedrooms. Shizuka was placed in her bed and felt like her body was made of lead. It didn’t take much longer for her to drift back to sleep. Joseph followed suit soon after, turning the lights out and lying down in his bed. He looked out the window and sighed. It would be easy to dwell on tomorrow’s problems. Blondie, whatever was wrong with his body, the well-being of Polnareff… The truth was, he couldn’t do anything about any of that for the time being. All he could do was sleep, and sleep he did.

 

Alarm clocks are the most infuriating tool that humanity tolerates. Despite their practical use, no one is overjoyed to hear the deafening blare of one early in the morning. Whether it’s a beep, a chime, or your favorite song, it doesn’t matter. Everyone can pretty much agree that alarm clocks are the absolute worst. That’s why Shizuka was infuriated by the sound of hers filling her bedroom once more. She groaned, rolling over and turning it off. Her go-to radio station took its place, playing some song she despised but had heard a million times by now. She slowly dragged herself out of bed, walking into the bathroom attached to her bedroom. She threw her bra aside, stretching her arms. Then, she cracked her neck, letting out a groan. Shortly after this her underwear fell to her ankles, and she stepped out of them. She looked at herself in the mirror, inspecting her skin closely. 

For a sixteen-year-old, she had pretty good luck when it came to acne. 

She lazily trudged into the shower, getting her shoulder-length hair wet and shampooing it. She was pretty clean, so she skipped on using soap for the time being. She was just so tired. Who knew how long she just stood under the hot water? She didn’t, because she was practically asleep standing up. 

After a long while she turned the water off and got out. She patted her face dry with a towel and used moisturizer on her cheeks. She walked back into her bedroom, balling the towel up in her hands and tossing it into a laundry hamper. She stretched once again, letting out a loud yawn. The young woman collapsed onto her bed once more, the fabric feeling so inviting against her skin. She rolled up into the blankets, even bundling her head inside. 

An undetermined amount of time later, she began to squirm inside the blanket cocoon once more. She managed to pop her head out, eyes adjusting to read the clock on her bedside table. She nearly screamed when she saw the time. 

7:53 AM.

“I’m late for school!”

To be Continued...




Chapter Text

Shizuka parked her car in the student lot and began sprinting for the front door of the school. It was the very first day of junior year and she was late? Curse words slipped out from under her breath as she ran up to the door. She wrapped her hand around the handle and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. The doors locked automatically after the first bell. 

“Oh fuck me.” She hissed, knowing she was done for. 

The only way in now was ringing the office bell. She had hoped to slip right in undetected, but that was proving itself to be impossible. Unless… Shizuka pressed the office bell and immediately used her Achtung Baby to vanish from thin air. After a few seconds she could hear a click. The young woman grabbed the door and pulled it open, slipping inside quickly. 

Sure, using your power to compensate for being late wasn’t exactly Superman-approved, but Superman wasn’t real. Real world problems require real world solutions. The teen quickly walked to her first class. She rejoiced when she noticed the door was cracked. Perfect. She’d be able to walk right in. 

The teacher was already reading through role call. Luckily, Shizuka’s name was fairly late on that alphabetical list. She took her backpack off and held it against her chest, pressing her back against the doorframe and sliding between the cracked door and the wall. Success. After that it was an easy walk to the back of the classroom. She found an empty desk, sat down, and waited for a moment when nobody was looking. 

The vanishing act was complete. Shizuka appeared in her chair without a hitch, smiling to herself. About a minute later the teacher called her name. She happily raised her hand. 

“Here.” 

This caused a few students to turn their heads in shock. They could have sworn she wasn’t there yet. Despite that, they went back to their normal lives as everyone does. When the human mind is confronted with something beyond logic it usually takes the easiest route of occupying itself with something else. In about an hour or so none of them would even remember how strange the event was. 

The rest of the class was fairly uneventful. They all received a syllabus that needed to be signed by their parents. Shizuka expected the rest of the day would be fairly similar. For some reason high schoolers still needed to be babied in such a way. All her parents cared about were her grades at the end of the quarter. They didn’t want to hear about the teacher’s curriculum plan. She always appreciated reading the rules too. No talking. No horseplay. No food or drink. It was almost as if those rules applied to every single class. 

The bell rang, freeing everyone for three entire minutes before the next class. Shizuka slung her back over her shoulder. It was still invisible from earlier. Students were required to put their backpacks in their lockers at the start of the day. She’d have to find the time to do that during lunch. For the time being, she’d keep it with her. 

As she walked to her next class, she felt her phone vibrating. Shizuka took it out of her pocket and checked who was texting her at this hour. She raised a brow when it said it was from an unknown number. Despite the strange nature, she decided to open the message anyway. 

Unknown: Wake up. 

It was honestly a little shocking for a second or so, but she quickly wrote it off as some stupid prank. Remember the human condition, it’s much easier to simply focus on something else. She put her phone away and continued on to the next class of the day. AP Biology. Luckily she wasn’t late for this one. Everyone poured into the classroom talking among themselves. Shizuka sat down in the second row of desks, stretching her arms. She was pretty damn tired. 

There wasn’t anybody sitting at the teacher’s desk. Nobody really paid it any mind. Teachers were regularly late for class. He was probably just in the bathroom or something. Sure enough, a tall dark haired man walked into the room about a minute later. He was half-Japanese and had quite the pretty face for a teacher. If Shizuka had to guess, she’d say he was in his late thirties. His outfit was standard, just a white dress shirt tucked into khaki pants. He had a blue tie around his neck, and black dress shoes. The staff had a dress code to abide by, but one could easily tell this man cared about his appearance. None of the clothes were basic brands. They looked expensive. 

“Good morning.” He placed his mug of coffee down, grabbing a dry-erase marker. “My name is Dr. Kujo. Welcome to AP Bio.” 

Dr. Kujo approached the white board behind his desk, writing his name in bold blue letters. “I think icebreakers are important, so I’ll tell you three facts about myself. I’m an Aquarius, my favorite color is translucent, and know every word to the first season of Spongebob Squarepants. Why? Because it used to be my daughter’s favorite thing in the world, and she refused to sleep without it playing at full volume.” He explained, drawing a little Spongebob by his name. 

“Interestingly enough, Spongebob does not resemble the typical sea sponge you’d encounter in the ocean. He’s more of a kitchen appliance. Squidward is actually an octopus, if you can believe it. The show was created by Steven Hillenburg, a marine biologist I had the privilege of meeting once at a seminar. Are there any questions so far?” He turned his head to the class. 

Nobody had anything to say. Half the class wasn’t paying attention, and the other had no idea what their teacher was talking about. 

“Great. In that case, everyone come up to this cabinet and get yourself a textbook. There will be homework tonight. I do not do movie days, free days, or outside class. You’re allowed to drink water in my room, but you’re responsible for whatever you ruin with it. Obviously on lab days we’ll be working with chemicals that you’d rather not consume. On those days even water will be banned. Any questions?” 

The students just groaned and stood up. Everyone grabbed their own textbook before returning to their desks. Shizuka could already tell she wouldn’t like Dr. Kujo’s class. Any teacher who felt the need to specify that there wouldn’t be movie days typically infuriated her with their uppity, disrespectful attitudes toward their students. The Spongebob tangent was strange as well. 

“Can anyone tell me the meaning of life?” He asked abruptly once everyone sat down. 

Once again, silence. Everyone was too tired for this shit. 

“Come on now. Someone, go ahead and say something.” 

A blonde girl in the front row raised her hand. “Uhm, to live?” 

A few students laughed, causing the teacher to raise a dismissive hand. “No, that’s a good answer.” He walked over to the wipe board and cleared his previous work. “In fact, I’d argue that’s the correct answer. What’s your name?” 

She girl crossed her arms nervously, sitting up a bit in her chair. Her legs were crossed beneath the desk, one of her sneakers absentmindedly tapping the bottom of the desk as she considered her response. “Marina.” 

“You sound sound like you’re from around here.” 

“I’m not. My dad brought us here on business. I’ll probably only be here for a month or two.” 

He nodded, tapping his marker against the board. “So you see no point in trying? Don’t worry, Marina, I’ll be absolutely sure to test you on something before you leave. Your next school will receive that grade. So don’t consider this wasted time.” 

She scoffed a bit, looking down at her desk. Dr. Kujo began to write on the board once more. “The meaning of life is simple. Many people will say it’s one thing or another, but this isn’t a philosophy class. If you want to sit around and read books written by uneducated dopes flinging darts at a board and seeing what will stick, be my guest. I, on the other hand, don’t have to discuss. Real science can study. I’ve researched life for decades now, and I’m certain of its meaning.” 

He wrote the next sentence in big letters, underlining it three times. “To continue living. Every aspect of our instincts pushes toward this simple goal. Reproduction is merely to continue the cycle of life for generations. Breathing is simply a way to keep the brain operating. Every talent you have benefits survival in some way. It supplies a particular demand that allows you to live. The body is a complicated set of functions set up for a single purpose. What’s that purpose, class?” 

“To continue living.” A few kids mumbled. 

“Even murder in its purest state is for your own survival. Whether it’s for resources, land, or even your own safety. But murder is considered morally wrong, so we avoid doing it. Why? Because abiding by the law is yet another means of survival. Not only that, but every law focuses on the betterment and survival of the most people possible. Are you sensing a pattern yet?” 

Shizuka nearly groaned. Could someone possibly be anymore annoying? She just wanted to go home already. The teacher droned on and on for what felt like hours. Eventually, he finished. The period was about to end. Had he really talked for nearly forty minutes? She barely remembered a single thing he said. 

“Alright class, that’s it for now. Your homework is simple. You’re to dispute my theory using at least one-hundred words. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” 

One-hundred words? Dispute his theory? That did it. Shizuka absolutely despised Dr. Kujo. 

“What if you agree with the theory?” Marina asked in an annoyed voice. 

“If you can’t place yourself in the opposing side’s shoes and consider why they feel something, you’re incapable of the intellectual thought necessary for my class. Consider it this way: If you can’t do this assignment, you’ll be bumped down to an easier science class. Either way, you win.” 

The bell rang almost immediately after. 

“Class dismissed.” 

Shizuka stood up and took her bag. Everyone was pouring out of the classroom so quickly that she was shoved aside roughly. Her invisible bag fell off her arm. Luckily, Achtung Baby easily grabbed it, placing it back on her shoulder. She sighed, ready to leave. That’s when she noticed the teacher’s eyes fixated on her. He didn’t seem shocked, scared, or angry. The man simply sipped from his cold coffee mug as he stared at her. Had he seen Achtung Baby? That wasn’t possible. He was probably just waiting for her to leave the room so he could smoke or something. She quickly fled the room. 

She was so focused on Dr. Kujo that she paid no mind to what was in front of her. Because of that, she bumped into someone right outside the classroom. She stumbled back a bit, looking up to see who it was. Shizuka was fairly short, standing at 5’0 on the dot. She was surprised to see the girl from earlier leaning against a wall in front of her. Marina, right? The blonde stood at 5’9, placing a considerable gap between their sizes. The girl didn’t seem to be fazed by the collision, crossing her arms and looking down at the shorter teen. 

“I saw that.” Is all she said. 

Shizuka knew exactly what she was talking about. A pit formed in her stomach. She’d never met another Stand User aside from her own family. How did she run into two people who could see Achtung Baby in a single class? 

“My next class is across the building. I need to go.” She said dismissively. 

Marina grabbed her wrist firmly. “Have you been noticing anything weird lately?” 

Shizuka’s eyes narrowed, slowly developing a dangerous sharpness as she stared into the girl’s eyes. “Besides this conversation? No.” She said dryly. 

“Really? I’ve felt off all day. I got a concerning phone call this morning. It was from an unavailable number. When I picked up, it was just static. Then, out of nowhere, an urgent voice told me to wake up.” She raised a brow. “You wouldn’t know anything about that?” 

Of course Shizuka knew something about that. She’d received a similar text message right before class. Despite that, she roughly yanked her hand away from Marina, rubbing her wrist a bit as she stepped back.

“I think you’re asking the wrong person.” Shizuka looked away, frowning. “I’m leaving.” 

She vanished a moment later. Marina’s eyes barely registered the girl as gone for a few seconds. She’d never seen something like that in her entire life. It had to be connected to the phone call. She was going to get to the bottom of this one way or another. 

The rest of the day was rather uneventful. Shizuka struggled to pay much attention at all after the strange encounter before third period. She just floated through her remaining classes, walking out of the building at 2:41 PM like the rest of the students. Something still felt off. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but everything was just a little confusing. 

Strangely enough, she noticed someone who wasn’t walking toward the student parking lot. In the wave of teens attempting to leave stood a strange-looking ginger facing Shizuka directly. Somehow, even though they were total strangers, Shizuka felt a connection. She couldn’t quite place the gender of the individual, but they seemed to be around her age. She just stared curiously, their eye-contact transcending the distance between them and the body of students constantly walking past. Then, as quickly as the person appeared they were gone. 

Another strange event to add to the list. Staying true to the human condition, though, Shizuka quickly stopped thinking about the teenager and proceeded to her car. The next day would be better. She just had to write Dr. Kujo’s ridiculous argument piece. That was the only thing worth worrying about… 

 

Marina was sitting on the hood of her car about three blocks from the school. The sun had set, and her clock indicated that it was 8:32 PM. She sighed, lying down and resting her head on the windshield. Her eyes stared up at the stars, contemplating their distance. She couldn’t go home, something just didn’t feel right. There was something wrong with the school. That’s when her phone began to ring. She nearly leapt out of her skin, fumbling on the hood and looking for the device. The caller ID read ‘ Unknown.’ 

“Yes!? Hello?” She asked in a high, frantic voice. 

Silence. 

“Is this the person from before? What do I need to wake up from?” 

“Oi! Do you have service? Answer me! Wake up from what?” 

She grit her teeth, nearly slamming her fist down in anger. Fortunately, she kept her cool. She was sitting on her own car after all. The blonde just needed to remain calm. 

“I’m staying on the line until you speak, so I suppose we should both get comfortable.” She crossed her arms, putting the phone on speaker. 

“Any minute now. You’ll see, I’m not one to give up easily. I’m one stubborn bitch.” 

The young woman sighed, shaking her left leg anxiously as the line stayed silent. Would this go on all night? She needed answers. That’s all she wanted. There was something seriously wrong with the world around her, and she intended to figure out what it was. She’d wait, even if it took a lifetime. 

 

The next morning, Shizuka pulled into the parking lot with time to spare. She’d learned from her previous mistakes and didn’t lie down after her shower. She actually had time to pick up a coffee before class. Waking up early had its perks after all. When she walked inside, everyone was whispering among themselves. She didn’t take notice to this, as it was standard form for high school. 

As she sat down at her desk for home room, she couldn’t help but notice the general atmosphere of the room. She might have jumped the gun in assuming everyone’s whispering was standard business. In fact, the entire place seemed pretty grim. One girl was even quietly crying. She raised a brow, leaning back in her seat and tapping her pen against the desk. 

The teacher walked into the classroom about three minutes before the bell. He was disheveled, finishing up his tie and tucking in his shirt as he entered. It was hard to see through the cracked door, but it looked like other teachers were jogging through the hall right outside. Was there some kind of faculty meeting? She felt something building in the pit of her stomach. It was obvious that something had happened. 

The bell rang, so the teacher shut the door and cleared his throat. “Uhm, class.” He said nervously. “It’s awful to have to report something like this, but I’m sure many of you have already heard the rumors. There was a suspected murder last night, and the victim was one of our students.” 

Somehow, Shizuka knew who it was. The teacher didn’t even have to say it. Grief already overtook her. 

“Marina Archer, an exchange student from London, was found dead on the hood of her car this morning at 6:34. The first officer on sight didn’t see any trace of a suspect. However, initial evaluations have ruled out suicide. I wish there was more I could say, but that’s all we know. I implore you to keep this calm when discussing it with others. That is all we know. We’re not hiding anything. Don’t turn this into some rumor or conspiracy, please. It’ll only be harder on her family.” 

Truly spoken like someone who definitely wasn’t hiding anything. Shizuka couldn’t help but feel responsible for this death. Marina was asking for help, and she didn’t provide it. If she had been there, Achtung Baby could have helped. She could have done something. 

The rest of the class was a blur. There were no lessons, no lectures. The teacher seemed to be caught up in his own existential dread. Eventually, the bell rang and Shizuka grabbed her things. She was walking to second period when something caught her eye. Dr. Kujo was staring directly at her. He held a coffee mug to his lips as they made eye contact from across the hall. She felt like he was beckoning her somehow. 

Against her better judgement, she walked up to him. He finished his coffee, lowering the mug. 

“Come with me.” 

She followed, unsure of what was going to happen next. He lead her to an empty classroom. The blinds were shut, so only a few beams of sunlight managed to pierce through and light the room. Dr. Kujo lowered the curtains on the door’s window, shutting it quickly. Once he was positive that they were alone, he spoke. 

“I know Marina confided something in you yesterday after class. I couldn’t hear you very well. What did she say?” 

She was absolutely caught off guard. “W-wha? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

He got his phone out, showing seven calls from an unknown number. “Are you getting the calls too? The police found that she had a three minute call with an unknown number around her time of death.” 

“The police said that?” She raised a brow. “And why do you know, Dr. Kujo?” 

“I have a man on the inside. That’s not important. Are you getting these calls?” 

She didn’t see a reason to lie. “Mine was a text. I’ve only gotten one.”

He raised his hand up to his chin in thought. “Interesting. I don’t have texting. That doesn’t explain why a girl Marina’s age got calls too.” 

“Why are we talking about this? It’s just scam callers, right? Or out of country? I don’t have an international plan. It’s nothing serious.” 

“I know you have a Stand.” He said, manifesting Star Platinum. 

She immediately stumbled back, intimidated by the Stand’s size. It seemed like it’d be much stronger than Achtung Baby. Fortunately, Dr. Kujo seemed to be on her side for the time being. The teacher waited for a response, but it didn’t seem like he was going to get one anytime soon. Eventually, he just sighed. 

“Something’s wrong. I’m sure you can feel it. Why are so many Stand Users at this high school? Why are we getting these phone calls? I’m trying to piece the story together, but I need your help. Have you seen anything strange? No matter how innocuous, just tell me.”

Shizuka thought to herself for a moment before realizing something. “This weird ginger kid in the parking lot yesterday kind of creeped me out. They were just staring at me. Then they disappeared.” 

“Interesting.” Dr Kujo mumbled. “I’ll keep an eye out for this kid. We should get to class. If you see anything strange, don’t hesitate to call my personal number.” He handed her a sticky note with his cell number written on it. “You should go first. I’ll wait a minute or two.” 

She nodded, walking out of the empty classroom and heading to class. Things seemed pretty normal for the first few periods of the day. Come lunch time she entered the cafeteria ripe with boredom. After waiting in line for mediocre “healthy” food, she looked for a place to sit. That’s when she noticed something incredibly strange. In fact, it was so strange that she couldn’t believe it took her so long to notice. 

A tall redheaded girl was sitting in the corner of the cafeteria all by herself. Her backpack was hugged between her long legs, and she slouched over it, resting her chin on the top. That wasn’t the strange part. The strange part was the massive pink Stand sitting right next to her out in the open. 

She seemed to be talking directly to the Stand. Everyone around them completely ignored her. Shizuka wasn’t like the rest of them, though. She could see who the girl was really speaking to. The other students must have thought the girl was insane. She couldn’t help but approach the taller girl slowly. 

Shirlie lifted her head up with skepticism as Shizuka approached. When the short girl stopped and smiled, the redhead scooted back against the wall. 

“What?” She mumbled. 

Shizuka could tell the girl had a certain uniqueness to her. She was talking to her own Stand. Perhaps that was a way to earn her trust? The shorter girl turned her head to Pa-Pa-Power, offering him a hand. 

“My name’s Shizuka. How’re you?” 

Pa-Pa-Power’s jaw dropped in disbelief. Then, out of nowhere, Shizuka was hit with a wave of positive emotional energy. She experienced the Stand’s total joy of being noticed for the first time in his life. He took her hand into his big boxing glove, shaking it eagerly. Shirlie sat up a bit, looking at her cautiously. 

“Y-You can see him then?” She muttered. 

“Of course I can. How could I miss such a handsome face?” Shizuka smiled softly. 

Power was absolutely sold. He felt like he’d made a new best friend for life. Shirlie, on the other hand, was suspicious. 

“You don’t wanna be friends with him. Everyone thinks you’re insane if you talk to Pa-Pa-Power. They’re looking at you weird right now.” 

“I don’t care about that.” Shizuka said honestly. “I just wanted to introduce myself to him. Do you have him out all the time, then?” 

The redhead hugged her backpack closer, shifting back just a bit. “Have him out? Where would he go?” 

Shizuka’s eyes widened. “You mean he’s out permanently? Doesn’t that exhaust you?” 

Shirlie shrugged. “I mean, he snores a lot. I can’t really complain though.” 

The shorter girl noticed just how exhausted Shirlie looked. She never put her Stand away? That must be a constant drain on her energy. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Shirlie had never gotten a full night’s sleep in her entire life. That would probably be a contributing factor to her overall strangeness.

“Wanna meet mine?” She offered. 

Shirlie’s eyes went wide. The dark bags under them couldn’t fully mute the excitement on her face. “S-Sure. If you want.” 

Shizuka smiled, manifesting Achtung Baby. The Stand was significantly smaller than Pa-Pa-Power. Despite that, he quickly swept it into his arms and hugged it tightly. Achtung Baby was expressionless in the hug, but Pa-Pa-Power just kept going. Shizuka could see a pink aura emanating from the Stand, engulfing Achtung Baby shortly after. A moment later, without Shizuka’s influence, the white Stand began hugging back. 

The shorter girl’s eyes widened as she felt her Stand moving on its own volition. She could even feel it smile a bit. Shizuka had never viewed Achtung Baby as anything except an extension of her own body. It was incredibly perplexing to see it expressing human-like emotions and actions. 

“It’s never acted like this before.” She mumbled. 

“Pa-Pa-Power has a way of rubbing off on people. I’m not surprised your shade is warming up to him.” 

A shade, huh? Perhaps Shirlie didn’t have any idea what Stands really were. It was entirely possible. With a Stand like Pa-Pa-Power, who could blame her for thinking they were all self-aware spirits? Still, it really was strange to run into so many Stand Users in such a short period of time. Dr. Kujo might really be onto something. 

“Did you hear about Marina?” Shizuka asked softly. 

Shirlie just looked for at the floor, frowning. “Pa-Pa-Power’s really sad about that.” 

“Did they know each other?”

“No. He’s just a sad guy a lot of the time.” 

She couldn’t argue with that. It seemed like they’d hit conversational bedrock. She needed to find a way to ask about the ginger teen, the phone calls, all of it. Power looked her right in the eyes, letting go of Achtung baby. He nudged Shirlie’s shoulder, causing her to look up. 

“What? Power says you’re trying to say something. Something hard?” 

Well, it seemed like she’d been outed by the Stand. Perfect. Shizuka nodded, clearing her throat as she searched for the right words. “Have you been noticing anything weird lately?”

“Weird? Like what?” 

“Strange phone calls? People watching you? I’m not exactly sure.” 

“Oh I don’t have a phone. It made Power’s head hurt. And we don’t really pay that much attention to random strangers, so people could probably be watching us and we wouldn’t even know.” She said honestly. 

Great. 

“Marina was really worried yesterday. Now she’s dead.” Shizuka explained. “I wanna go check out the crime scene.” 

“The crime scene? Are you a detective or something? We can’t just walk into a crime scene.” Shirlie laughed. 

“Oh..” Shizuka mumbled, having hoped for Shirlie’s help. 

“I mean, I’ll go. It’s just a bad idea.” The taller girl shrugged, standing up and brushing herself off. 

“Oh!’ Shizuka smiled, experiencing an emotional rollercoaster. “Alright. Meet me out front after school. We’ll walk from here. From what I’ve heard, they found her on sixth street.” 

“You got it, chief.” Shirlie snapped her fingers, taking her bag and walking away. “C’mon, Power!” She groaned as the Stand slacked behind. 

What a weird person. 

 

After school Shirlie and Shizuka walked up to the scene of Marina’s death. Her car was still parked on the side of the road, and police tape blocked off a considerable portion of the sidewalk. The shorter girl frowned. It really happened. She was really gone. 

“I don’t think the police would appreciate us sniffing around their fresh scene.” Shirlie muttered. 

“Don’t even worry about that. Just do your best not to leave DNA on anything.” Shizuka closed her eyes, manifesting Achtung Baby.

The two were immediately invisible. Shirlie gasped, trying to look at her own hands. But she couldn’t! There were no hands there! 

“Try not to trip or anything.” Shizuka said softly, taking Shirlie by the hand and leading her underneath the police tape. 

They looked around the car for anything suspicious. Both of them used their Stands to touch things, avoiding leaving any sort of fingerprints. After about a minute of looking, they both came up short. Shizuka groaned in frustration. 

“They took her phone, her body, her wallet, everything. There’s nothing to work with here.” 

“Yeah,” Shirlie shut the car door as Pa-Pa-Power checked underneath the vehicle. “But I can say one thing for certain. Marina didn’t die here.” 

Shizuka shut the door on her side as well, raising a brow. “Wait, what? How do you know that?” 

Pa-Pa-Power got up, unable to see Shirlie. This worried him, so he began to shift left and right nervously. Seeing this, Shirlie walked over and wrapped an arm around him. 

“Death leaves a sort of emotional stain on an area for a really long time. Power can sense it easily. Tons of people have died here over history, but none of them were recent. In fact, the most recent death within a hundred feet of this spot was around twenty years ago.” 

Well that was certainly handy. Shizuka knew she brought Shirlie for a reason. 

“So Marina wasn’t killed here. Why would her body have been discovered on the hood of her car then? Was it moved here?” 

“No.” Shirlie said with certainty. “I’d definitely be able to smell such a disgusting act. It doesn’t stick around forever, but you said this was this morning, right? The intent to kill, moving a dead body, the regret… It should smell like that. But it doesn’t.” 

Shizuka turned off Achtung Baby’s ability, looking at Shirlie with confusion. “What’re you saying?” 

The taller girl rested a hand on her hip, looking around. “I don’t buy that Marina’s dead. At least not the story they’re telling.” 

Shizuka bit her lip. “What can Power sense? What’s the most recent emotion on the hood of this car?” 

The redhead hummed softly, snapping her fingers and pointing to the hood. Pa-Pa-Power walked over, running his hands over the spot where Marina’s body was allegedly found. 

“It’s faint, but I can smell confusion.” She closed her eyes, nostrils twitching. “Panic and confusion. I can’t tell who it’s from. Their soul is pink. That’s all I know.” 

The shorter girl raised a brow. “You can smell souls?” 

Shirlie nodded. “Yours is weird, not gonna lie.” 

“Weird?” 

“Well, there are two. I didn’t wanna bring it up. It seemed rude.” 

“W-wait. Two?” Shizuka questioned. 

There was no opportunity for Shirlie to respond, though. Immediately after Shizuka’s question, a voice could be heard from down the block. 

“Hey! You kids can’t be over there! You’ll contaminate the scene!” 

Shizuka and Shirlie nearly leapt out of their skin. The shorter girl grabbed her new friend, turning both of them invisible and sprinting down the street. So many thoughts were running through Shizuka’s mind, there wasn’t time to comprehend them all. They ducked into an alley, holding their breath and waiting for the cop to run past. 

That’s when the shorter girl noticed something strange. She heard a dragging sound in the distance. About ten seconds later, she saw her cellphone trailing along the concrete heading directly toward her. The girl’s eyes widened. She’d dropped her phone? How could she miss something like that? It really showed how panicked she was. The phone lifted up into the air, going right back into her pocket good as new. 

That’s when footsteps against the concrete filled the alley. A moment later, Shizuka could see a tall man step into the enclosed area. He was a little shorter than Shirlie, but still nearly a foot taller than the little Japanese girl. He looked to be Japanese himself with a thick purple pompadour. He wasn’t in uniform, but a detective’s badge was clipped to his belt along with a holster. The man wore a purple suit jacket with a lavender dress shirt underneath. The shirt tucked into a $300 pair of black dress pants. The outfit was topped off by a $795 pair of Mezlan Royale black dress shoes. Needless to say, this man was incredibly clean cut. His face with without a single blemish, and his clothing lacked any wrinkles. It seemed as if it was the first time that he ever wore the outfit. Like every imperfection was magically stripped off of it. 

Shizuka couldn’t help but wonder why such a man was a detective in her hometown. However, she had much bigger problems. Firstly, how the hell did he find them? 

“I know you’re here. I’m one hell of a detective.” The man mumbled, running a careful hand through his hair to fix it. “I saw you appear and disappear. You don’t have to hide that ability from me. Just show yourself and we can talk this out, okay?” 

The police and school faculty were keeping details of Marina’s “death” a secret. Shizuka couldn’t trust any of them. She clenched her fists, trying to consider their next move carefully. She got on her tiptoes, dragging Shirlie’s head down so she could whisper. 

“I don’t trust him. Do you have a plan?” 

“Yeah. Turn me visible.” The taller girl responded. 

Deciding to trust her, Shizuka released Achtung baby’s ability from Shirlie. A moment later, the tall redhead smiled at the detective. 

“Hey.” She waved. 

Shizuka was in disbelief. Hey!? That was her plan? 

The man raised a brow. “There were two of you. Where’s the other one?” 

“Oh, Shizuka? She’s right here. She thinks you’re a bad guy.” Shirlie wrapped an arm around the invisible girl. 

The detective was still skeptical. “Why’s your Stand doing that?” He questioned. 

“Doing what?” 

“T-That.” He pointed awkwardly. 

Pa-Pa-Power wasn’t turned invisible by Achtung Baby. Because of this, he elected to hide behind a trash can. Sadly, Power was eleven feet tall and had a wingspan larger than three men. He couldn’t even hide a quarter of his body behind the small container. To rectify this, he covered his eyes with his boxing gloves. 

Shirlie made a sound of endearment. “Oh ho, Power. You big oaf. I can still see you!” 

Pa-Pa-Power lowered his boxing gloves in disbelief. A moment later he shoved the trash can over in frustration. Another moment later he felt incredibly bad about littering and attempted to put the trash back in the can. However, some of the garbage was difficult to lift with his enormous boxing gloves. The Stand began to silently weep, causing Shirlie to sigh. 

“Hold on.” She waved a dismissive hand at the detective. “It’s okay bud. It was the best hiding place you could have picked.” 

She comforted her Stand while picking up the smaller bits of garbage. Once the trash can was upright and full once more, Shirlie and Power snapped to attention. 

“Okay! Where were we?” 

“Uhm. I was asking where the other kid is.” The man mumbled, feeling a little awkward after that display. 

“Oh, right! Shizuka, you can come out. Pa-Pa-Power read this guy’s emotions. He’s totally cool. He’s trying to figure everything out too.” 

“What?” The man questioned. 

“What?” Shizuka echoed, appearing beside the redhead. 

“He’s a big softie like Power. We can trust him.” 

The shorter girl wasn’t exactly convinced, but her cover had been blown either way. She sighed, nodding her head in defeat. 

“Joestar.” She approached the detective, having to tilt her head up nearly all the way to look him in the eye. “Shizuka Joestar.” The girl offered a hand. 

The detective smiled a bit, taking her hand and shaking it. “I’m Detective Higashikata, but pretty much everyone calls me Higa for short.” 

Shizuka smirked, pulling away. “Well Detective Higa, I’ll play along a bit. We’ll tell you what we know in exchange for what you’re not telling us. Fair?” 

“That depends on what you know.” He crossed his arms in consideration. 

“I don’t think Marina Archer is dead.” She said bluntly. 

He was trained in masking his reactions, so she had no idea what kind of impact that had on him. He just thought for a moment, tapping his foot a few times. 

“What brings you to such an odd conclusion?” 

Shirlie spoke up. “My friend here couldn’t smell any residual emotions leftover involving death or murder.” She patted Pa-Pa-Power’s shoulder. 

“Basically, she didn’t die here, and she wasn’t brought here. So what’s the deal, Higgy?” Shizuka rested a hand on her hip, pointing right at him with the other. 

The detective looked troubled. He sighed, looking away for a moment. “I gotta admit, that’s a pretty good ability. You’d be a good cop.” 

“Thanks, but I empathize with bad guys too much.” Shirlie shrugged. 

“Marina Archer wasn’t exactly dead when we found her. It was more troubling than that.” Josuke admitted. 

“Troubling how?” Shizuka inquired. 

“Well, I’ll cut any conspiracy theory short right now. We have a body. A lifeless one at that.” He explained. “It’s just… Strange. I was the first detective on the scene. The uniformed officer was confused when he brought me to the car. I have to admit, I was confused too.” 

“What’d you see?” 

“Marina was lying on the hood of her car with her eyes wide open. Her body was stiff and cold. The weird part is that she still had a heartbeat.” 

“So she’s in some kind of shock. Why was she declared dead?” Shizuka mumbled. 

“Let me finish.” Josuke waved a hand dismissively. “The most disturbing part was probably everything but her body. Her cell phone was lying beside her head. The call seemed to have been going for around nine hours at that point. The number was unknown, and no one at the station has been able to track it yet, even though we never hung up. They should be able to make a connection. It’s like the number doesn’t exist.” 

“Could just be advanced rerouting. Maybe it’s through a proxy?” The small girl suggested. 

“The entire hood of her car was dented. It looked like it was in a terrible accident, but Marina’s body was fine.” Josuke continued. “The words wake up were perfectly dented into the hood three times all around her body. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” 

A shiver ran down Shizuka’s spine. “Okay. I’ll admit, that’s unsettling.” 

“Wait, we didn’t see that on the car.” Shirlie chimed in. 

“Exactly. By the time we got a camera on the scene, it was gone. The uni is lucky I saw it with my own eyes, otherwise no one would believe him.” 

“What a bizarre crime scene.” Shizuka bit her lip. 

“So where’s her body now?” The tall redhead questioned. 

“She has no brain activity. Not even minor amounts seen in vegetables. The truth is, we have no idea why her heart is still beating. It’s not receiving any instructions from the brain. We have her in a private hospital room. Her father hasn’t been answering our calls. Unless she wakes up, it’s out of our hands. We have to look for evidence elsewhere.” 

“Something’s seriously wrong.” The smaller girl said nervously. 

“You got that right.” Josuke rubbed his chin. “How about I give you kids my number? If anything happens, call me. I’ll come anytime.” 

They agreed, parting ways for the time being. None of them were comfortable with the way things ended. Too many unanswered questions. But hey, at least it didn’t end in violence. Who would get into a Stand fight in an alley anyway? 

 

Once again, Shizuka arrived at school on time. And once again, she heard everyone whispering about something. Was the Marina rumor really juicy enough that people still felt the need to whisper about it? Just have a damn conversation. Everyone knew. Everyone knew. Shizuka had barely gotten any sleep. She was irritable, nervous, and jumpy. She just wanted to be home already. The events of the past two days truly drained her. 

There was a substitute teacher in her first period class. Nobody seemed to care. Shizuka wasn’t listening to the whispers of her peers. The sub turned on a movie and read some romance novel quietly as the teens talked among themselves. Eventually, the bell rang, and the girl drifted to her next class. Only eight to go. 

The second period of the day was strange. Instead of Dr. Kujo, the principal was standing in front of the desk. Shizuka was paying attention after that. In fact, her eyes were wide, and her ears perked up. Everyone sat down, and the bell rang. 

“Class, I’m sure some of you have heard.” The man cleared his throat, adjusting his tie. He seemed incredibly distressed. “Dr. Kujo was found dead this morning in his home office.” 

That shocked Shizuka to her very core. Dr. Kujo was dead? How? He seemed tough as nails. None of it was adding up. She needed to call Higa and see if the crime scene was similar. As the principal droned on and on, Shizuka felt herself going mad. He wasn’t going to tell them anything useful. She needed to get out. A cold sweat overtook her body as she felt it become more and more difficult to breathe. For some reason, she had a sinking feeling that none of it mattered. Everything seemed like a lie. 

That’s when her phone rang. Her eyes widened. She was sure she’d put it on silent before school. No one seemed to be paying her any mind. It was like they couldn’t even hear it. With a trembling hand, she took the phone, tapping the answer key and holding it to her ear. 

“Y-Yes?” She asked softly. 

“Wake up, Shizuka. Wake up now.” She heard in Dr. Kujo’s voice. 

She dropped her phone. It shattered against the floor instantly. Everyone turned around to see what had caused the noise. They didn’t see Shizuka. She’d turned invisible with Achtung Baby. She needed to get out. She needed to wake up. Wake up from what? Was it all a dream? She felt that looming lucidity one experienced right before being pulled from their dream and finding themselves in their bed. The one problem was that it wasn’t as fleeting as usual. There was no indication that she was about to wake up. Was she going crazy? She needed to find Higa. 

Shizuka sprinted out of the school and ran toward the student parking lot. In her feverish hurry she’d forgotten her backpack. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She was asleep. That’s the only fact she knew in the entire world. Everything else was fake. Confusion swept over her body as she tried to rationalize it. That’s when she remembered Shirlie’s words. When the girl was recounting Marina’s end, she described the feeling as “confusion.” Was Marina asleep too? Were they all connected somehow? That must have been why they were all getting messages to wake up. But who was telling them these things? 

That’s when she saw someone materialize in front of her very eyes. It was the ginger from two days prior. The very teen she saw in the student lot on her first day of school. She froze in place, staring at them. Somehow, she recognized the teen in front of them. She knew who it was. 

“Pepsi.” She whispered. 

It seemed as if they couldn’t actually see her. Their eyes just stared forward, unresponsive. 

“Wake up, Shizuka.” They said in a low drone. “You need to wake up.” 

She felt an overwhelming sense of calm. “A-Are you here to wake me up, Pepsi?” 

The teen just walked closer. Their hand extended toward the shorter girl. Shizuka closed her eyes, ready to experience relief. Just as the mysterious teen was about to touch her, a thought clawed in the back of her mind. It was something she didn’t want to think about; the kind of thought that would just be easier to ignore. 

What about Shirlie? 

Her redheaded friend didn’t have a phone. How long would it take for Pepsi to wake the girl up? She couldn’t leave that to chance. Shizuka still had no idea of what was waiting for her on the other side, but she was bringing Shirlie. Pepsi’s hand was inches from her face. With no other options, Shizuka gritted her teeth. 

“Achtung Baby!” She shouted, clenching her fists. 

“Horahorahorahorahorahorahora!” The small white Stand emerged, sending a flurry of fists at Pepsi. 

The image of Pepsi flickered. After a moment, they backed away in confusion. 

“Sorry, but I need five more minutes, so just snooze for a sec!” Shizuka shouted, turning back toward the school. 

She stormed through the doors once more. This time she didn’t care about what people thought of her. She stayed perfectly visible, sprinting toward the office. She needed to know what class Shirlie was in during second period. All she needed to do was find her friend. She burst through the office door, walking around the secretary’s desk and shoving her aside. None of it mattered, everyone was an illusion. 

After figuring out the system, she managed to search for Shirlie. Perfect, she had the room number. That’s when Pepsi appeared right in front of her. 

“Wake up.” The teen said firmly. 

“Hora!” Achtung Baby punched directly through their face, causing them to flicker away once more. 

Shizuka bolted out of the office and down the hall. That’s when the lights died. She watched as every bulb shattered working their way up the long hall. Eventually she was submerged in nearly total darkness. The only source of light came from cracks in the classroom doors. Pepsi and Dr. Kujo appeared in front of her, reaching toward the girl slowly. 

“Fuck no.” She growled, swatting them away with her Stand. 

She was almost there. Almost there! As she ran down the hall, something was wrong. She was getting shorter. Her clothes barely fit as she made her way to Shirlie’s class. For a moment, she was incredibly confused. That’s when it hit her. She wasn’t sixteen. That was a part of the dream too. Reality was crashing back whether she wanted it or not. 

As she got to the classroom and kicked the door open, a firm hand grabbed her wrist. She looked over her shoulder to see Joseph towering over her. She remembered who he was. That was her father. 

“No!” She cried out. “Not yet! I can’t wake up yet!” 

Hermit Purple’s vines wrapped around her body as she scrambled into the classroom. Her ankles were caught, causing her to fall flat on her face. 

“SHIRLIE!” She screamed. 

The redhead was staring at her in total confusion. How much of this could she even see? Shizuka had no way of knowing. She reached toward her friend desperately. 

“Wake up, Shirlie! None of it’s real!” Shizuka explained, vines wrapping around her head as she spoke. She was being dragged through the doorway, clinging for dear life. “This is a dream, Shirlie! We’re under attack! You have to wake up! Wake up now!” 

The teen tried to respond, but Shizuka could no longer hear her. She was dragged through the doorway in an instant, pulled along the floor of the school at unreal speeds. She felt herself approaching the door, knowing what came next. An overwhelming sensation of falling built up in her gut as she slammed through the door. Then…

 

Shizuka snapped up in shock. Sweat ran down her back, and she gasped for air. The young girl felt incredibly weak and groggy. Her heart was practically beating out of her chest. She held a hand to it, feeling her pulse beating in her ears. She was awake. Finally, she woke up. Her eyes darted around the room in confusion. 

She seemed to be lying in a bed. Her clothes were the same as when she last went to sleep. That’s when she realized something. When did I go to bed? She couldn’t remember how she got there. Her last memory was talking to Giorno on the academy roof. He revealed her Joestar birthmark, and everything was blurry from there. Her hand slowly trailed up to her left shoulder as she remembered the mark. That was something heavy she had to unpack later. 

Still, where the hell was she? How long had she been there? The room had about twenty beds, but none of them were occupied. It was strange. The place almost seemed nice. It wasn’t like a hospital ward or anything. The bedding was comfortable, the walls had pleasant decorations, and the place smelled lovely. It was almost like a suite. The only thing that confused her was the amount of beds present. 

She wobbled out of bed, attempting to get her sea legs as she did so. There was a door at the end of the long room. That had to be her first move. It took her a minute to find the strength, but she eventually made her way to the nice oak door. The handle was gold, and it reminded her of something. 

When she opened the door, she was met with a long hallway. All along the walls were identical doors. That’s when she recognized the other end of the handle. It was a keycard swipe. These doors were like a hotel. In fact, the hall resembled a hotel too. 

The young girl didn’t have much time to take everything in. She was quickly interrupted by an inhuman screech bouncing off of the walls. She readied her Stand, cursing her luck that she already had to fight in such a sorry state. The room got hotter. Much hotter. She began to sweat as whatever screeching creature grew closer. 

A moment later, a flaming humanoid bounded through the hallway. It couldn’t take the sharp corner, instead slamming into the wall and quickly recovering. Once it got its bearings it turned and ran toward Shizuka. She hid herself with Ultra Violet before it saw her, deciding this thing was too dangerous to fight head-on. 

The humanoid went down the hall, taking the heat with it. Four loud bangs could be heard from the direction it came from. Shizuka watched as four bullets perfectly swung around the corner leaving blue streaks in the air. They followed the creature down the hall out of sight. After a moment, a horrid cry could be heard in the distance. 

“That’s right, you son of a bitch! I’m not half a pony! I’m not a quarter of an ass! I’m the Hol Horse!” A man shouted in a southern accent, coming around the corner. 

Shizuka was so shocked by these events that Ultra Violet flickered a bit, revealing her to the man. He stood tall, wearing a cowboy hat. That was the first thing she noticed. The rest of his outfit was pretty much as one would expect. Big brown boots, a shirt with a leather vest, heavy pants. The man was rather handsome, looking to be in his mid-thirties if she had to guess. 

He noticed her, smirking. “Oh, a new face?” 

She was speechless. 

The cowboy walked up to her, getting onto one knee to look her in the eyes. “You don’t have to worry about me. I swear I’m the nicest guy around.” He ran a hand through her hair, getting it messy and disheveled. 

She swatted his hand away, fixing her hair. “Who are you?” 

He laughed, spitting the toothpick out of his mouth. Then, in a flash, he drew his gun and shot it into oblivion. He twirled the pistol in his hand, letting it fade away a moment later. 

“I’m Hol Horse. Welcome to the Hotel California, kid.” 

To be Continued… 

Chapter Text

Shizuka just blinked a few times, wondering if the cowboy had gone mad. He seemed dead serious, though. The idea wasn’t exactly that crazy. They did appear to be in a hotel. She was just hopelessly confused about the details. The young girl looked down the hall, wondering if the fire creature planned on coming back. Thankfully, Hol Horse’s gun seemed to properly scare it off for the time being. 

“So, this is a hotel?” She asked, deciding to start with the basics. 

“Correct, Little Lady.” He rested both hands on his belt, looking around the hall cautiously.

“How did I get here?” 

“Well, I’d venture to guess you were swiped up by Dominic.” 

The little girl groaned in annoyance. At this rate they’d be there all day. “Do you mind giving me better answers? I’m kind of in a rush.” 

Hol Horse chuckled, standing upright once more. “Little Lady, you’re not in a rush. Nobody is anymore. We’re all prisoners here. Prisoners of our own device.”

“What do you mean by that?” She demanded, her tone growing more and more desperate. 

A crash could be heard further down the hall. The man’s eyes narrowed, and he drew his gun from an imaginary holster. “It’s not safe in the halls. I’ll answer all your questions later. Come with me.” 

Before she could protest, Shizuka was grabbed by the wrist. Hol Horse opened the very door she came from, dragging her through it. Impossibly enough, they weren’t in the room she woke up in. No, it was completely different. She looked around incredulously, trying to figure it out. Hol Horse let go of her, slamming the door shut and taking out a keycard from his pocket. He tapped the handle with it, causing the object to glow. Then, it disappeared. 

“Okay, okay. That’ll give us a bit to breathe.” He sighed, pocketing the card and turning to face the girl. 

“This isn’t where the door led last time.” She mumbled. 

“As it shouldn’t be. The doors here are more like guidelines. They take you where you really wanna go, within reason. These keycards can help lock them. The problem is, the cards have tiers. If one supersedes mine, it can open the door.” 

“Seriously, what is this place!?” She put her foot down, crossing her arms. “And don’t tell me it’s the Hotel California. I got that. Tell me what that means.” 

The man thought for a moment, rubbing his chin. “How do I explain it? It’s basically another reality? There’s no way out, that’s for sure. Time doesn’t seem to work right either. It’s some serious shit.” His eyes widened. “Er, uh, sorry. It’s crap.” He corrected his language. 

She wasn’t impressed. “There’s a way out,” Shizuka said with certainty. “Maybe you haven’t been able to find it, but there’s definitely a way.” 

He chuckled. “Well hell, kid. I’d be gladly proven wrong. Where is it then?” 

“I haven’t gotten that far yet. My friends, where are they? I was with them before all this.” 

“Hmmm.” The cowboy pondered for a moment. “How long have you been here? What’s the first thing you remember?” 

“I was in some sort of dream living an entire fake life. For some reason all of my friends and I went to high school together? Each of them started disappearing. When I woke up, I was alone.” She tried to explain. 

He snapped his fingers. “Unlucky. You guys were being held in Adrian’s spell.”

“Adrian?” 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to never meet him. His Stand’s called Feel Good Inc. It can lock people away in carefree worlds, keeping them perfectly complacent and quiet. To be honest, it’s a perfect ability for a place like this.” 

“So is Adrian in charge of this place?” 

“Pffft. Hell if I know, kid! This place is the wild west! I’ve been doing my best to stay alive, that’s all. If you wanna be a hero and break out, that’s your decision. The great Hol Horse isn’t a leader, and he isn’t a hero. I’m number two! That’s my style. It’s kept me alive this long.” 

There was a lot to process, but Shizuka was beginning to formulate a plan. Even if it was misguided, even if it wouldn’t help her get out, it was something to work toward. She walked right past the gunslinger and placed her pale hand on the door handle. 

“Number two, huh? You seem to be one person short, then. If you want a number one, follow me. I’m getting out of this place. So, make the decision right now. Are you staying here forever, or are you leaving?” 

Hol Horse was floored. He’d never seen such an assertive child. She radiated a powerful, intimidating aura. In fact, her presence was very familiar. When he looked at her in the right light, she resembled a woman he once knew. Someone that oozed that same type of cold, calculating confidence. That couldn’t be. Tsuru didn’t have any children. He was imagining things. Despite that, his philosophy was being questioned. Of course he was always number two. He picked the strongest person in sight and helped them win. That was the only path for Hol Horse! Could the most powerful person here really be a ten-year-old girl? He needed to be sure. 

If he was going to follow this child, he was going to be damn sure about her abilities. The cowboy already had a plan. In order to prosper in the Hotel California, one needed to be quick. They needed to be smart, strong, and tough as nails. Needless to say, they needed to be stronger than him. If Shizuka was going to be his number one, she’d need to beat him. That was the only way. 

She’d been facing the door for a few seconds, waiting for Hol Horse to respond. Now was his chance. He’d test her then and there. He’d draw his Emperor as fast as he could and shoot her in the leg. If she could counteract that, he’d follow her. 

The silence grew deafening. Shizuka still hadn’t turned around. For some reason, Hol Horse was already very intimidated by the child. She didn’t have her Stand drawn. Could he really bring himself to shoot a child? It’d be in a non-life-threatening spot. After that, he’d treat her wound and keep her lying low. If she wasn’t strong enough to break out, it was his responsibility to keep her alive. 

“Well, Hol Horse?” She asked in a low tone, feeling his intent. 

That did it. He knew what had to be done. The cowboy held out his hand, summoning Emperor. It spun around for less than a second. He wouldn’t need any time at all to line up the shot. It would all be over within another second. She lost. 

“HORA!” Ultra Violet flashed into being right in front of Emperor. 

With a speed so great his eyes couldn’t even track it, the purple stand slammed Hol Horse’s hand out of the way with its fist. The bullet flung into the wall, missing her entirely. At the same time, the gun was spiked downward with enough force to destroy the floor. Debris flew upward, clouding the air around them. Slowly, it faded, allowing Hol Horse to see the girl once more. The entire fight happened in less than a second, and Shizuka never turned to face him. Hol Horse panted, sweat growing on his forehead as he looked at the child. That’s when he noticed something else. 

From his elevated angle, the gunslinger could see traces of a star on the back of Shizuka’s neck. Her shirt covered most of it, but the man saw enough. He’d been a fool. More than a fool. Hol Horse had done this before. Trying to shoot someone with that mark from behind never went well. This girl… He’d only ever seen a star-shaped birthmark once in his entire life. That was on Lord Dio’s shoulder.

He took a step back, relaxing his posture and raising his hands defensively. He’d surrendered. Finally, the girl turned her head a bit. Hol Horse looked into her sharp eyes. Her deep purple gaze looked into his very soul. Somehow, he was absolutely terrified of this girl. 

“C’mon, number two. We’re going to find Adrian.” She mumbled, opening the door. 

“Uh.” He mumbled under his breath, quickly getting over it. “Right! Let’s go.” 

 

Marina woke up to an uncontrollable coughing fit. Her lungs hurt, her head hurt, everything hurt. She spent a good minute just coughing as hard as she could. Eventually, her lungs became so agitated that she threw up onto the ground beside her. Only after that could she take a moment to breathe. Drenched in sweat, she flopped onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She had no idea where she was. The room was dark. She appeared to be lying in dirt. Still, there was definitely a man-made structure surrounding her. Light entered the room through steel bars. Was she imprisoned? That didn’t seem right. 

Her head was reeling as she tried to piece everything together. She’d had an incredibly strange dream. For some reason she and the rest of the crew were high schoolers. It didn’t really make sense. As she regained more of her composure, holes in the dream appeared. She’d never seen Ripley. For that matter, she couldn’t remember seeing Gramps either. Shizuka, Shirlie, Josuke… And of course, Pepsi was there at the end. Still, that didn’t explain where everyone was. 

The blonde managed to stand up with assistance from Bubblegum Bitch. The Stand propped its bat against the ground, supporting itself as it lifted Marina up. Once she was vertical, the woman trudged over to the bars. Peering outside, she couldn’t believe her eyes. 

“You have got to be shitting me.” 

On the other side of the prison bars laid a makeshift colosseum. It wasn’t nearly the size of a proper one, but it was still large enough for quite a fight to take place. Elevated about twenty feet above the fray, rows and rows of chairs reminiscent of a movie theater circled all around. She gripped the bars, gritting her teeth. This was a spectacle. Marina Archer wasn’t about to be the dinner entertainment. 

Bubblegum Bitch flexed its arms, slamming its bat against the bars. The firm steel turned to malformed gel. She easily bent them and stepped out. Her eyes carefully scanned the arena. She seemed to be alone. That is, until a speaker system activated. There was a droning of white noise. Marina covered her ears, wincing a bit. 

“LLLLLLLLLLLLADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Put your hands together for the absolute menace, Marina Archer!” A man chanted excitedly through the speakers. 

How did they know her name? That was the least of her concerns. She figured she’d broken out before the main event. It seemed like she was mistaken. The games were about to begin. She took a deep breath. If fighting her way out was the only way, she was ready to fight. Hell, she was ready to kill. 

A grainy, low-quality stock sound effect of people clapping filled the room. It was clear that someone simply had a soundboard in front of them. In fact, Marina wouldn’t be surprised if she was performing for an audience of one. Still, that didn’t matter. She’d take care of him too. After the “applause” faded, the man continued. 

“And where’s our other contender? Come on out, don’t be shy!” 

She paused with bated breath, awaiting the arrival of her opponent. After a moment, the bars opposite to her burst out explosively. 

“Orrrrrra!” The Stand cried out, obliterating the confinement. 

The display of strength caused dirt to fill the arena. Marina narrowed her eyes, hoping to get a look. A few seconds later, a powerful stomp sent all of the dust flying away. She could clearly see him now. Sure, he was pretty big, but that didn’t mean much. He was Japanese, looked to be around forty or so. His purple jacket flowed behind him as he scanned her carefully. 

“Everybody, welcome Jotaro Kujo to the scene! Standing at six-foot-five, he’s a towering mass of strength and fury! Don’t get too close, or it’ll be the last mistake you ever make!” The announcer attempted to hype up his imaginary crowd. 

Jotaro Kujo, huh? Pretty stupid name. It didn’t matter, Marina would deal with him and get back to the rest of the group. They were probably looking for her that very moment. He looked tough, but she knew she was tougher. His Stand seemed to rely on brute strength. She could deal with blunt force. She could do this. 

“The stakes are simple! One of you is allowed to leave, but only when the other dies! Do you want to leave? Then get to killing! Good luck, gladiators!” 

She snarled a bit, furious with the madman operating this entire show. The rational side of her was trying to argue that she should team up with her opponent. Perhaps they could break free together. She couldn’t take that chance, though. Something was pumping through her veins, enraging her. Had the man drugged them? Her heart was practically beating out of her chest. Rationality went out the window. She couldn’t stand the stupid look on her opponent’s face. Yeah, this would be over quickly. 

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand begin!” The announcer cheered, playing another compressed stock sound effect. 

She was ready. Marina sprinted right for the large man, getting ready to pummel his head in. There was definitely an outside influence contributing to her state of mind. Unfortunately, she didn’t care. The moment she got close enough to the man, Bubblegum Bitch swung its bat. 

“Star Platinum!” 

Everything happened too quickly to follow. The man was gone. Before she could even wonder where he went, Marina felt unbelievable pressure build in her head. It bubbled for a moment before erupting in the direction it came from. Her skin morphed and attacked Jotaro without her conscious knowledge. Multiple hits connected, and others were blocked by Star Platinum. The large man was thrown back. 

Marina turned to face him in utter confusion. “So, you’re fast? You managed to hit me. Too bad for you, I can’t be hit.” 

Jotaro was clenching his stomach in pain. A punch mirroring the strength and speed of Star Platinum had gotten him right in the gut. He definitely had some internal bleeding. It didn’t matter, Josuke would be able to heal him. He just needed to get out. He needed to kill this girl. 

“Yare Yare Daze. You’re not making this easy.” He growled, fixing his hat. 

 

Shizuka and Hol Horse traversed the dangerous halls invisibly. The young girl held onto the cowboy’s hand so they wouldn’t lose track of one another. As they continued forwards they passed several odd-looking people. Some of them seemed ill. Others were muscular and angry. When they seemed to be alone once more, Shizuka couldn’t help but ask,

“Is everyone here a Stand User?” 

“Sure are.” 

This troubled her. “You said we were prisoners. Why are Stand Users being kept prisoner in this place?” 

“There are only rumors. From what I’ve heard, Adrian and his late wife had a pretty extreme world-view. This place is supposed to be like a playpen where we can’t hurt anybody. It’s for the benefit of the world.” Hol Horse explained. 

Shizuka was fascinated by that idea. It was the logical extreme of Blondie. Instead of a world where everyone was a Stand User, Adrian believed that nobody should be? She couldn’t help but ponder on what would happen if Blondie was forced into this place. Would she have a clash of ideals with Adrian? Would she get out? Not only that, but would the world be better off if Adrian got his way? If Blondie was trapped in the Hotel California, she wouldn’t be able to achieve her plan. 

Nonsense. She didn’t have to entertain such extreme absolutes. Both worldviews were nuclear options. She refused to entertain them. Shizuka would figure things out her own way. 

Hol Horse gripped the girl’s hand tightly, stopping her in her tracks. They both froze. He sensed something. A moment later, the flame user from before came barreling barrelling down the hallway. Upon closer inspection, Shizuka could tell that a person was definitely inside. Something else unsettled her though. The flaming person was screaming and running, but nobody had come before them. That meant it wasn’t chasing someone. It was running away. 

The cowboy drew his Emperor silently, gritting his teeth. Soon, the user was gone. They only had a moment’s respite before another pair of footsteps could be heard. Shizuka was nervous. Whatever scared the flaming Stand User must have been serious business. That’s when she got a glimpse at the person in question. 

An intimidating figure turned around the corner. It was a woman seemingly in her mid-forties. She was wearing some very nice -if not slightly odd- clothing. Yes, she donned a violet tuxedo, white dress shoes, and a white bowtie. Her auburn hair fell down her back in elegant, thick waves. The woman even seemed to be wearing a full face of makeup, expertly applied and sealed to prevent any blemishes or running. She seemed like she’d spent hours on her appearance. Everyone else in the Hotel California looked very rugged and weathered. This woman was thriving. 

Shizuka could feel Hol Horse tense up. Whoever this woman was, the cowboy was terrified of her. 

The woman crossed her arms, pursing her purple lips and narrowing her eyes a bit. Tapping her foot against the carpet a few times, she smacked her lips together, leaning her head against a hand in thought. 

“You know, I might just be going crazy. Sometimes I have this paranoid feeling that I’m being watched.” She said to no one in particular. “In situations like this, I feel quite silly. It’s more than likely that I’m just speaking to thin air right now. Still, I won’t be able to relax until I check.” 

The sound of Emperor firing blasted through the room. Shizuka’s eyes widened. Hol Horse pulled away, rejecting Ultra Violet and becoming visible once more. The bullet tore through the air directly toward the intimidating woman. She just looked bored. A moment later the bullet made a ninety degree turn into the floor, disappearing from view. 

The woman rested her chin against her closed fist, pouting a bit. “Oh, Hol Horse. There you are.” She said in a mocking baby-voice. “I’ve been looking all over for you. We have unfinished business, you and I.” 

The man gritted his teeth, floored by her ability to disregard Emperor so easily. “Casanova. I’d say it’s a pleasure…” 

“But you can’t get it up with me around. I know, I know. We’ve had this conversation so many times, sweetheart.” Casanova purred, leaning back. 

She crossed her arms once more, falling back quickly. Instead of hitting the ground, however, she was suspended by something almost immediately. She kicked one leg up, resting it against nothing as her other foot propped itself at an angle. It was as if she was leaning against a wall. That was impossible, though. There was absolutely nothing behind her. 

Hol Horse wrapped his fingers tightly around his weapon, clearing his throat nervously. “So, what’s the deal? I haven’t seen you patrolling in a while. I figured you’d found a nice hole to occupy by now.” 

She chuckled. “I always come back, Horsy. The room I claimed ran out of champagne, and that just wouldn’t do.” 

“Some of us aren’t powerful enough to have the luxury of drinking ourselves into a coma. We need to be alert at all times.” 

“Which is exactly why you should join me. I could make you so comfortable. You’d never want for anything.” 

The cowboy spat onto the carpet, pointing his Emperor right at Casanova’s forehead. “Sorry, lassie, but I’ve already got eight girlfriends. Adding one more might make me a bad guy.” 

Her smile faded. She just leaned further back against the thin air, scowling. “Well then, Horsy, I suppose I’ll have to make you see it my way.” 

Casanova lifted a hand, extending it toward Hol Horse. Then, in a swift motion, she clasped her fist and pulled it toward her quickly. The cowboy was pulled toward her at unbelievable speeds. Shizuka, still hidden from view, barely managed to grab onto the nearest door handle. She gripped it for dear life, managing to stay away from the woman’s pull. 

It all made sense. Casanova’s ability was to manipulate gravity. Shizuka wasn’t sure about the extent of its effect yet. Surely something so powerful had limitations. It just didn’t appear like that at the moment. 

Hol Horse flew through the air, landing perfectly where Casanova wanted him. Her long, slender fingers wrapped around his throat. The gravity ability kept him fixated in the air, unable to gain any leverage. He cried out in anger, pointing Emperor right at her. She the index finger of her free hand. An immense gravitational force caused Hol Horse’s hand to face directly down. He was locked in place. The man couldn’t even use his Stand to defend himself. 

The moment she directed his hand down, Shizuka felt the pull weaken on her end. It was gone a moment later. She fell back to her feet, able to let go of the door. Her mind was racing to figure out this ability. Had Casanova willingly released the initial pull, thinking she didn’t need it anymore? Or could she only influence gravity in two directions at any given time? She didn’t seem to be affected by her own ability, but Shizuka saw her suspending her own body in the air earlier. 

For the time being, the young girl had to operate on the belief that Casanova had three active layers of gravity. Two were currently being used on Hol Horse, and the third was keeping her in place. If she were forced to manipulate gravity in another way, one of the three “layers” would have to disappear. Could she choose which one disappeared? Or did the first automatically get overwritten? Shizuka didn’t have enough evidence to decide. Either way, she needed to save Hol Horse. 

“Hey!” She shouted, turning visible and pointing right at her. 

Casanova’s eyes immediately shot to Shizuka. She sized the girl up, trying to determine her threat level. “Ah, I see. So that’s how you were invisible, Horsy. How fun! Is she yours? I love Daddies.” 

The cowboy couldn’t respond. He was too busy being choked out. Shizuka just snarled, keeping her distance. The girl didn’t have a ranged attack, and she had no idea how far Casanova’s influence on gravity could reach. Her best bet was to free Hol Horse, regroup, and have his Emperor deal the final blow. If Shizuka was occupying all three layers of Casanova’s ability, Emperor’s bullet would be able to reach the woman. 

“He’s not my dad. I’d still appreciate it if you put him down, though. I kind of need him.” 

“Oh?” The woman raised a brow, smiling a bit. “And why’s that, sweetheart?” 

“He’s my guide. I’m busting out of here. Feel free to join me.” She offered. 

Casanova let out a long, condescending laugh. She rested her free hand on her chest, throwing her head back and allowing the laughter to slip through her sealed lips. It seemed like she was very amused by the idea. 

“You want to leave? Sweetheart, honey, if you’re strong enough to whip Horsy here into shape, you’re strong enough to survive here. Why would you ever want to go?” She questioned, flashing a pearly white grin. 

This perplexed the child. “Wha? You don’t want to get out?” 

“You treat it like it’s escaping.” Casanova said mockingly. “I disagree wholeheartedly. The strong are allowed to thrive here. We get to make the rules. Judge, jury, executioner. There’s no pesky government trying to mess with our affairs. The laws are very simple. The strong stand on top, the weak are crushed beneath them. And my Supermassive Black Hole reigns supreme here” She grinned wickedly. 

“You sound a lot like someone I know.” Shizuka growled, gritting her teeth and clenching her fists. “Someone I’d really like to punch, actually.” 

“Oh? Is that so? I’d love to meet them. Are they here?” 

“No.” 

Casanova chuckled. “Well, they will be. Every Stand User will end up here eventually.” 

That was a big problem. The only way this could possibly get worse was the addition of Blondie. In fact, Giorno had arranged a meeting with her. She was on her way to Europe. The idea of Blondie trapped in Hotel California caused a large mix of emotions. For the time being, self-preservation kicked in. Shizuka needed to find her friends and get the hell out. Then she’d take care of whoever was running this damn hotel. Then she’d take care of Blondie, and possibly world-hunger when she was at it. She seemed to be taking on every impossible task already. Why not add another? 

“Drop the cowboy.” Shizuka ordered, her nose wrinkling a bit in anger as she glared across the hall. 

Casanova was loving this. She let out a little giggle, letting go of Hol Horse. Her ability kept him suspended in the air, though. She prowled around him, stalking Shizuka like a predator. Her eyes never left the girl. They had a sharpness to them that caused shivers to run down the child’s spine. 

“I like you, little girl.” She smirked. “So much spunk. Such moxie! You’ve got a real spark to your step.” 

“You sound like my ninety-year-old mother.” Shizuka said apathetically. 

This caused an even louder fit of laughter. “That right there! I love it! You should roll with me, sweetie. I’ll make sure you grow up into the firecracker you’re meant to be.” 

“Unless we’re rolling out the door, I’m not going anywhere with you. Back away from my number-two. I’m not going to ask again.” 

Casanova looked a little less amused. She just glared into Shizuka’s eyes, considering her next move carefully. Deciding to put the girl in her place, Casanova lifted a hand. She pulled it back quickly, causing the gravitational pull around Shizuka to shift. The girl flew right toward her, helpless.. 

A fire lit in Shizuka’s eyes. “Good.” 

The moment she was within range, she drew Ultra Violet out. The purple Stand swung its fist right at Casanova’s head. 

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. You’ve been paying attention? Doesn’t matter. What affects the Stand affects the user. I don’t need to dedicate my power to your body. I only need to worry about this!” 

Shizuka felt the gravity effect leave her body. A moment later, Ultra Violet was violently slammed into the ground. The little girl immediately followed, being pinned to the floor. She felt her body aching as the pressure grew stronger. A layer was still keeping Hol Horse’s arm forced down, and the third was allowing Casanova to stand normally. 

“So, little cutie, are you ready to apologize for the way you spoke to me?” She asked, pressing her pristine white dress shoe against the back of Shizuka’s head. She smeared the girl’s face against the carpet, moving it left and right, giving it a rug burn. 

Ultra Violet began to tremble in place. Light was trickling down its body visibly, distorting the Stand’s body. Casanova noticed this. Her brow raised as she looked at the purple Stand. 

“What’re you doing?” 

“Do you understand science?” Shizuka mumbled under her breath. 

“Science? Of course I do. What’s your point?” 

“Your Stand… It’s not crushing my bones. That means the gravitational force isn’t very strong…” She panted. “Nowhere near strong enough to bend or capture light.” 

Before the woman could say anything, Ultra Violet pulled itself off the ground. Its body was flickering, all of its color and texture draining toward the floor like water pouring off a raincoat. Still, it kept enough form to ball a fist in rage. Casanova’s eyes widened. She was about to be pummeled by the Stand. It seemed like it was over. 

“Supermassive Black Hole has no weaknesses, girl.” She said bitterly. 

At that very moment, Casanova was sent flying backwards at a high speed. Once she was about ten meters away, Shizuka and Hol Horse were released from Supermassive’s grasp. Shizuka lifted her reddened face from the carpet, looking down the hall in disbelief. 

“She can manipulate her own gravity! Of course! Why didn’t I consider that she’d use it to run!?” 

Hol Horse fell to his knees, panting a bit in exhaustion. A moment later, he drew Emperor once again and aimed down the hall. 

“You alright, kid?” He called behind him. 

“I’m fine. Is she retreating?” 

Hol Horse narrowed his eyes a bit. It didn’t look like the woman was moving any further back. She just moved enough to get away. Still, the cowboy was floored by Shizuka’s strength. The fact that she managed to scare Casanova away spoke wonders for her abilities. He backed the right horse, that was for sure. Now they just needed to seal the deal and defeat her for good. There was no getting past her. 

Marina sprinted forward once again. She faked Jotaro out, dropping down onto her back at the last minute. Bubblegum Bitch swung right at him. Star Platinum was too fast, however. It struck the Stand’s elbow, causing the attack to miss. Then, it grabbed Marina by the leg and spun around. 

“Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrra!” The Stand cried, spinning her around insanely fast. 

After building up enough speed, Star Platinum flung Marina across the arena. The young woman almost immediately slammed into the far wall. Her body rippled for a moment. Then, all of the kinetic energy from the impact built up in her back. A moment later, she pushed off of the wall with equal force, regaining her natural form and readying her Stand. She soared through the air directly toward Jotaro. 

“Gimme a damn break.” The man growled. 

Right when she was about to make contact with him, the man vanished into thin air. She rolled onto the floor, body rippling once again as she tried to get her bearings. That’s when she got an idea. Her skin continued to ripple with kinetic energy, but she didn’t expel it. Instead, she stored it in place. That’s when Jotaro appeared right behind her. 

Star Platinum grabbed her by the leg, lifting her up and slamming her into the ground. With immense strength and absolutely zero remorse, he swung her left and right, violently beating her against the dirt over and over again. Marina absorbed all of the impacts, refusing to let it go. Her body felt like it was going to explode from all of the force. If this plan worked, it would unlock even more potential for her Stand. 

After thirty seconds of merciless beating, Star Platinum let go of Marina. The blonde girl fell to the dirt face-first, lying motionless. Jotaro eyed her carefully, unwilling to step very close. This woman was dangerous, plain and simple. He wouldn’t underestimate her. 

Marina had reached a breaking point. She needed to expel the kinetic energy. In fact, her body began to glow red, overheating to an extreme rate. She’d melt if she didn’t act. The young woman stumbled to her feet, glaring at Jotaro. Her skin flowed and rippled unnaturally, causing the man to cautiously step back. 

“Checkmate, pretty boy.” She smirked, walking toward him. 

Star Platinum grabbed her by the throat, squeezing it as tight as it could. Her skin just morphed and squished around the Stand’s grip. She couldn’t even be strangled. That’s when she released all of the force. Her skin bubbled a bit, building up energy right in her fist. She could feel it. This would finish things. 

“Try this on for size!” Marina shouted. 

Jotaro’s eyes widened. The fist began to move at a speed his eyes couldn’t track. Star Platinum raised its fists in protection, but it wouldn’t be enough. Time froze, allowing Jotaro a few precious seconds to move back. He’d already frozen time twice in this fight though, so he couldn’t manage it for long. The flow of time resumed, and he wasn’t fully in the clear. By then, it was too late. Marina’s fist made contact with Star Platinum. The kinetic energy surged through the Stand and flowed into Jotaro’s body. He was flung back into the wall of the colosseum, destroying it completely. 

Jotaro was lodged partly into the wall of the hallway outside the colosseum. His vision was blurry, and his ears were ringing. Star Platinum took most of the blast, but he still felt several broken ribs. He couldn’t move. 

Marina stepped through the rubble, fanning away the drywall dust with her hands as she towered over the broken man. Bubblegum Bitch manifested, and she glared at him. 

“Sorry, big guy. But this is it.” 

Jotaro’s dazed vision struggled to focus on the woman. For some reason, it eventually drifted to her hip. That’s when he noticed something. Throughout all the punishment, a black feather was slowly working its way out of her pocket. Understandable, considering how much the woman had been flung to-and-fro. Still, he recognized that feather. 

“W-Where did you get that?” He demanded. 

Marina froze for a moment. “Get what?” 

The man couldn’t move his body, so he simply explained. “The feather. Kars’s feather. How did you get your hands on that?” 

She protectively shoved it deeper into her pocket. “And how the hell do you know about Kars’s feather? Who are you?!” 

“My friends.” He coughed. “They’re trying to protect that from a very horrible woman. They need it. You don’t understand.” 

“Like hell I don’t! My friends and I are trying to keep it away from someone. Am I that horrible woman? Do you work for Blondie, jackass?” 

Jotaro’s eyes flashed with realization. “Wait.” He mumbled. “I think there’s been a massive misunderstanding.” 

Darius Ray was frantically fumbling with all of the buttons and knobs at his disposal. His two gladiators had managed to expel themselves from the precious, precious colosseum. None of his cameras could see them. Where had they gone? He’d already called for them over the speaker system. They were nowhere to be found. He’d lost his precious gladiators. 

The door to his control room was kicked in, causing him to let out a shrill cry. He turned around to see a figure silhouetted against the bright hall lights. Darius kept the control room pitch black save the dim blue glow of his screens. After a moment, his eyes adjusted. It was Marina. He shrieked once again. 

“Oh my goodness! Marina! Marina Archer! You reigned supreme? You defeated Jotaro Kujo! How wonderful! How absolutely, absolutely wonderful!” He cheered. 

The woman walked forward with a cold expression. She didn’t even pay his words any mind as she grew closer. 

“Marina? What’s wrong? You’re my champion! My gladiator! You’re free to go now!” 

She grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, lifting him up and glaring into his eyes. “You.” She growled. “You fucked with my memory, didn’t you? Jotaro Kujo and I are on the same team. We’re friends. Give my memory back, you piece of garbage.” 

“W-What are you talking about!? The two of you have never met! Not ever, not never! Never ever have you two met!” He insisted, voice cracking in fear as he kicked his legs around. 

Bubblegum Bitch’s bat swung quickly, sticking him to the wall behind him. She relentlessly swung her Stand’s bat into his stomach, causing the wind to be expelled from his lungs. He gasped desperately for air. That’s when the bat struck his throat, sticking it in place. He was unable to move his throat anymore, hindering his breathing dramatically. The man wheezed pathetically, desperate eyes begging Marina for mercy. 

She lifted up her long leg, slamming her foot against his stomach and pinning him against the wall even harder. With hands in her pockets, she spat on the floor, lifting her eyes to meet his. 

“Don’t fuck with me. I’m still pissed off. That’s your Stand, isn’t it? It pits two people against each other, wipes their memory of one another, and sets them into a frenzy?” 

After there was no answer, she gritted her teeth. “RIGHT!?” She shouted, pushing against his stomach harder with her foot. 

He cried, unable to speak. Instead, he nodded his stuck head to the best of his ability. 

“How fucked up can you get?” She mumbled, Bubblegum Bitch slinging its bat over its shoulder. 

No answer. 

“Excuse me!” She swung the bat once more, slamming it right into his face. “I asked you a damn question!” 

His eyes were stuck shut, and his lungs were entirely out of air. There was no way he could answer her question. Despite that, she was filled with absolute rage. If he didn’t release his ability, she’d kill him. He understood that. So, with great reluctance, he did just that. 

Relief swept over Marina like a cool wave of spring water. She immediately calmed down. Not only that, but she remembered Jotaro completely. Everything was restored. 

“Hmmm.” She mumbled, looking at the man. “Your Stand… It’s pretty dangerous. Just what kind of place is this?” 

“Ugh. Fine.” She snapped her fingers, releasing Bubblegum Bitch’s ability. 

Darius fell to the floor weeping, squirming in discomfort as his body ached. 

“Where the fuck are we?” She demanded. 

“T-t-th…” He sobbed. “The Hotel California.” 

 

Shizuka and Hol Horse were staring down Casanova from across the hall. It seemed like they were at a draw. Sure, the girl could sprint forward and initiate the fight once more, but who was to say she’d win? Casanova was truly dangerous. Perhaps Ultra Violet and Emperor weren’t enough to defeat her Supermassive Black Hole? She swallowed heavily, anxious as the woman stared her down. 

“What’s your plan, flower child?” Casanova called across the hall. 

Shizuka snarled a bit, feeling enraged at the woman. “I’ve met a lot of awful people these past few weeks.” 

“Oh?” The tall woman grinned, lifting her chin and resting a hand on her hip. 

“I’ve met murderers, hijackers, liars, and even a group that wants to end the world…” She took a step forward, nearing the range of Supermassive Black Hole. “...so tell me why I’m so pissed off at some stupid nobody who has to harasspeople like Hol Horse to feel strong?” 

“Hey…” The cowboy mumbled softly, feeling a little offended. 

“Excuse me?” Casanova demanded. “Nobody, you say? I’m a nobody?” 

“Having trouble hearing me? I’ll come closer then.” Shizuka growled. 

The moment she was within Casanova’s range, she was swept off her feet. The child flew through the air, slamming directly into the woman’s fist. Her head was reeling in pain, but her resolve was still burning within. 

“Ultra Violet!” She shouted, manifesting her Stand. 

“Foolish! Ridiculous! How stupid are you!? You say I don’t understand science? How naive do you have to be to believe that? One layer of gravity isn’t enough to keep you pinned, huh? Did it ever occur to you that I could use more than one in the same spot!?” 

Shizuka’s eyes widened. It was true. Somehow, she didn’t even consider that. Her body fell to the floor with immense pressure. Two layers of gravity were dedicated to pinning the girl down. Ultra Violet struggled to get up. Its body was barely visible due to the bending and distortion of light, but it wasn’t rendered fully useless. 

Casanova growled, taking a few steps back. “It’s risky, but I have to do it.” 

She dedicated her third layer of gravity to Shizuka’s body. No longer protecting herself, Casanova felt her body being pulled toward Shizuka’s. Despite that, she was able to keep her distance by holding onto a door handle and bracing her feet. The pressure was focused primarily on the little girl with a very small range of effect. 

“This is what you get for being smart, kid!” She screamed, stomping her foot in anger. 

Somehow, Shizuka was still breathing. Despite the force of three layers pushing her down, the young girl wasn’t dead. Her body was impossibly resilient. Casanova watched in shock; eyes wide. 

“How... How the hell are you not dead yet!?” She demanded. 

Ultra Violet once again appeared on the ground. Flickering, distorting, and melting in appearance, the Stand managed to lift its head and look right at Casanova. 

“Fuck this! Supermassive Black Hole!” She shouted, moving her hand down forcefully. 

She’d been restraining her Stand to preserve the integrity of the room. The woman no longer had that luxury. Supermassive’s power increased, pushing Shizuka even harder against the floor. The floor cracked, breaking underneath her. Luckily, the Hotel California wasn’t a real building. There was nowhere to go. An unbreakable layer of bedrock laid underneath the wooden floor of the hotel. Still, Shizuka was being pressed against it with enough strength to crush an elephant. 

“Are you even human!?” Casanova questioned. 

Hol Horse wanted to help, but he was on the other side of the hall. Any bullets he tried to fire would be directed at Shizuka’s gravitational pull. He couldn’t shoot Casanova. It would only make things worse. 

Meanwhile, Ultra Violet slowly pulled itself up even more. One firm foot planted itself on the carpet, and eventually the Stand was hovering above the ground once more. Shizuka ears had popped, and all she could hear was pure white noise. Thinking was difficult. Her Stand acted on instinct alone. It flickered in a bolt of light, appearing right in front of Casanova. The woman panicked, revoking a layer of gravity to thrust herself away. 

Ultra Violet grabbed her by the throat, keeping her fixed in place. The woman let out a pained cry, struggling against the Stand. 

“F-Fine then! Another layer!” She screamed, using two layers of gravity to pull herself away from Shizuka. 

Ultra Violet wasn’t letting go, however. Its strength kept the woman in place. 

“T-Three!” 

The Stand let go immediately. Unfortunately for Casanova, she greatly underestimated the strength of Supermassive Black Hole focused on a single point. The moment she did so, her body was flung back across the hallway of the hotel. It made a horrific splatting sound against the far wall, impacting it at far too high of a speed. She died almost instantly. 

“H-Holy hell, kid!” Hol Horse mumbled, running up to Shizuka. “Are you okay!?” 

She groaned in pain, lifting her face from the indentation in the floor. It was a little bloody, but nothing too severe. She wiped her face clean on her sleeve, nodding her head. 

“We got her…” She sighed. 

“We sure did! How in Sam-Hill did you withstand that force? I felt like I was gonna get crushed like a beer can with only one layer holding me in place.” 

Shizuka couldn’t help but remember the words of Santana. She’d repressed them in the moment. It was natural, considering the fact that she was dying at the time. However, looking back it was hard to deny his words. When he was sucking the blood from her body, he was perplexed by her level of energy. Not only that, but her durability. His words bounced around her mind endlessly. It’s all she could think about. 

“You’re not human. Not fully, at least.” 

...was he right? 

To be Continued...

Chapter Text

Hours before Shizuka, Jotaro, or anyone else escaped from the high school dream-world, Agent Ripley shot up with a start. Her eyes darted around the room frantically as she tried to get a grasp on her surroundings. She was quite sweaty. That was the first thought to enter her mind. After that, she noticed that she was lying in a bed. The room seemed to be absolutely full of them. It took a moment, but she managed to calm herself down enough to get up. 

Ripley hopped out of bed and stumbled for the door. Upon opening it, she saw the long hallway outside. Before she could investigate any further, she heard something strange. The sound of a heavy body landing in a bed filled the room. Ripley turned her head back and saw Joseph Joestar panting in the very bed she woke up in moments ago. 

Joseph seemed to recover much faster than she did. After mere seconds he’d rolled out of bed and looked around cautiously. That’s when his eyes met hers. His serious look calmed a bit, and a smile tugged at his lips. 

“Oh! It’s you! Ripley, right? Sorry, I’m pretty bad with names. I’m sure you know, but I’m Joseph. We’ve never really had a moment to introduce ourselves.” 

She couldn’t help but chuckle. Joseph was a very interesting man. In such a strange situation, he made a point to formally introduce himself? 

“We’ve been pretty busy, Mr. Joestar. Seems like we’re busy right now.” She mumbled, looking around. 

“Right! Sorry! Where the hell are we, anyway? I had this weird dream. Really weird, actually. I was a real estate agent in a tiny city. Nothing like New York. It didn’t take long for things to stop making sense. Then I just kind of woke up.” 

“I had a dream like that too, actually. In fact, I woke up in that bed about a minute before you. Seems like we snapped out of it quickly.” 

“Do you think the others are still in there, then? Is this some sort of Stand attack?” Joseph inquired, lifting a few pillows and inspecting the room. 

“We’re definitely not in Naples anymore. This architecture isn’t Italian. Neither is the interior design. We’re in the United States, if I had to guess.” Ripley rubbed her chin, utterly perplexed. 

“Unless this is just the second layer of illusion. Keep your guard up.” Joseph snapped his fingers, pointing at her. “We could still be under attack.” 

Ripley walked over to the room’s light switch. “Give me a minute…” 

She closed her eyes, resting a hand on the switch. The lights flickered, and her body began to emit an electric blue glow. After a moment, the room started to rumble, and a few of the lights above swung around. Joseph watched in fascination as the young woman did her thing. A moment later she pulled away. 

“That’s impossible.” She mumbled. 

“Shoot.” 

“Well.” The agent turned to face Joseph, attempting to rationalize the new revelation. “I can tell the size of a building by tapping into its electric system. It’s not exact, obviously, but I can get a good feel for how many rooms the wiring enters. I can also usually tell the type of building by the sheer potency of the electric currents A television station is easily differentiated from a convent. It looks like we’re in some sort of hotel, but…” She opened the door, revealing the hallway. “This doesn’t make any sense.” 

Joseph stepped closer, unable to understand her explanation. “What’re you saying, Ripley?” 

“The light fixtures are all attached to one another. The outlets are connected too. But there’s no power source. Nothing is feeding this room’s electricity. Not only that, but this room is completely isolated from the hallway. There isn’t even any residual energy flow. It’s like they’re two separate buildings.” 

The large man placed a hand on the light switch. A moment later, Hermit Purple emerged from his glove, surging into the wires. 

“You’re right.” He said in disbelief. “I need to check something.” 

He ran over to the television on the far side of the room. It was plugged in, so that was a start. It even turned on, despite the room having no source of power. 

“Hermit Purple!” He shouted, gripping both sides of the screen. “Show me outside. Show me the entrance to this building!” 

The screen flickered for a few seconds. A few different environments flashed across the screen, but none of them stayed for long. After cycling through about twenty different possible landscapes, the screen just went dark. It wasn’t off. It was just black. There was nothing to show. Joseph let go of the screen, backing away with wide-eyes. He stood up straight once more, resting a hand over his mouth as he considered the possibilities. 

“We’re not anywhere.” He finally muttered. 

“Pardon?” Ripley rested a hand on her hip. “We’ve gotta be somewhere, Mr. Joestar.” 

“We’re somewhere, but this somewhere is nowhere. The building isn’t real, Ripley. We’re not on our plane of reality.” 

“Are we even sure that the others are here? What if it’s just us?” 

Joseph seemed to be deep in thought. “That’s a good question. Hermit Purple! Show me Shizuka!” 

The vines burst from his hand and infiltrated the television once more. After flickering for a moment, the screen displayed Shizuka drifting in a black void. She seemed to be asleep. Marina was hovering beside her. And on the corner of the screen, it seemed like Jotaro’s jacket sleeve could be seen. Hermit Purple retreated, and Joseph scowled. 

“They’re being kept somewhere. We need to find them.” 

“What if they appear in here like we did?” Ripley questioned. 

“Are you willing to wait and see? Who knows if they were even caught up in the same trance? I can’t just wait around and do nothing. Can you?” 

The agent was clearly conflicted. “I think it’s smarter to wait here. Let’s give them thirty minutes, okay? The two of us showed up at almost the same time. Thirty minutes should be plenty of time for the others to catch up.” 

Joseph didn’t look happy. After a moment, though, he nodded his head. “They say the best thing to do when you’re lost is to stay in one place, right? We’ll give it thirty minutes. But that’s it.” 

Ripley nodded, walking over to a bed. She sat down, patting her legs anxiously. She might have won the argument, but that didn’t set her at ease. Something was seriously messed up. A building suspended in some alternate reality? How the hell did they even end up in such a place? She had no memory of it. The last thing she remembered was going to bed at the academy. It was baffling that something this drastic could have happened under Giorno’s watchful eye. That’s when it hit her. 

“Jean Pierre Polnareff.” She mumbled to herself.

Joseph, ever familiar with that name, immediately turned his head. “Hmm?” 

“Polnareff went missing, remember? He’d somehow disappeared. Even Giogio seemed concerned. It seems as if we’ve disappeared as well.” 

This certainly intrigued the man. He leaned his back against the wall, crossing his arms and twisting one foot as he thought to himself. “Interesting. That means Giorno is probably looking for us as we speak. Oh heavens, we’re counting on the son of Dio to rescue us?” 

Ripley kicked her feet up on the bed, shrugging. “For the son of a guy as awful as Dio, he sure seems alright.” 

“That’s precisely what he wants you to think. I’m a very good judge of character. Something about him gives me the creeps.” 

“Have you ever considered that your preconceived notions are responsible for that? No one should be judged just for being born, Mr. Joestar.” 

This halted the man for a moment. However, he wasn’t ready to give up so easily. “What kind of upstanding citizen runs a gang, Ripley? He’s basically the monarch of Italy. That doesn’t unsettle you?” 

She groaned. “Not to sound cliché, but that’s such a privileged stance that I have trouble coming up with a counter-argument.” 

Joseph seemed shocked. “Privileged? Please, do tell.” 

“Gang violence has existed much longer than Giogio, hasn’t it? We don’t know much about his upbringing, but I can already guarantee that the absence of his father caused problems. Not to mention the state of crime in Naples while he was growing up. If the mafia was running Italy, maybe the only possible way to improve the country was to become the mafia. He did what he had to do. Now look at it. There’s no drug abuse, murder rates are at an all-time-low for the country, and he has thousands of loyal followers. I’m sorry, Mr. Joestar, but you’re not convincing me of malicious intent.” 

“You never met Dio. I can’t expect you to understand.” Joseph sighed. 

“I’ve religiously read every single document about your battle in Egypt. I won’t claim to understand your trauma, but don’t condescend. I know enough. I think you’re stuck in your ways because feeling what you’ve always felt is easier than changing.” 

“I’m sorry, but is there some sort of ulterior motive behind this questioning? It feels quite personal, if I’m being perfectly honest. We’ve never met before all this, have we?” 

“No,” Ripley replied sharply. “I just don’t appreciate the way you’ve written Giogio off as some kind of thug. People shouldn’t be judged by their background. They should only be judged by who they are now. ” 

The room was silent for a long while. Joseph just stared forward, tapping his foot slowly. “I’m sorry.” He finally relented. 

“You are?” She asked incredulously. “For?” 

“It’s too easy to get stuck in my own head. Sometimes I’m not even thinking about who I’m talking to. There’s always more substance to any conversation than what’s immediately apparent. So, I’m sorry. It’s wrong to judge Giorno just because of his father.”

Ripley felt a tiny grin tugging at her lips. “Don’t try to turn this into a moment. You were wrong and I corrected you.” 

Joseph just rested his arms behind his head, looking up at the ceiling with a smile on his face. It seemed as if he completely left the weight of the previous topic behind. “So. You and Marina.” He said in a factual tone. 

The agent’s cheeks heated up a bit, but she kept her composure. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re referring to.” 

He let out a hearty laugh. “Oh, calm down. I think it’s nice. Really nice. A time to be alive, that’s for sure.” 

“Elaborate.” She leaned back a bit, raising a brow. 

“Things haven’t ever been easy for people like us. I just think it’s nice that your generation seems to have a brighter future. What was once confined to shameful secretive locker rooms can air on primetime television.” 

“People like us? So you’re…” 

“Flamingly, yes. I never make a big deal out of it, though. I’ve just always appreciated both sexes for their own unique qualities. It never seemed too important. The love of my life is a beautiful woman. I had it easy. Things would have been harder if I fell for a man.” 

“I guess things are better now. Y’know, better than the fifties.” She smirked. 

“Oh, you don’t even know the half of it. Let me tell you, it’s been fascinating to watch societal norms shift so much. I couldn’t have asked for a more revolutionary time to be alive. Things aren’t perfect by any means. You kids have a lot of work to do. It’s just nice every now and then to look at how far we’ve come. I was in my forties when colored water fountains went away. My forties. But now there’s a black president! It’s…” He chuckled a bit. “It’s pretty amazing. I had a really good friend named Smoky Brown. Maybe you’ve heard of him?” 

“Of course. You knew him?” 

“Knew him? We got into some serious shit together. The kind of thing that bonds you for life. He opened my eyes to a lot of things. I miss him an awful lot.” 

“Did you help him with his career?” 

“No.” He shook his head. “He wasn’t having any of it. I wanted to fund his campaign for governor. I tried. He didn’t want anything to do with it though. He told me that he was going to raise the money on his own. Small donations from people who really believed in him. Sure, I threw five dollars in, but I knew that’s all I could get away with.” He snickered. 

“Wow. I guess it didn’t really hit me how…” She trailed off a bit. 

“How old I am?” Joseph laughed. “I’ve seen a lot, that’s for sure. You wouldn’t guess from my handsome face at the moment. I look like a beautiful baby.” 

“I wouldn’t go that far. You still look like an adult.” 

“Maybe to a baby I do.” He joked. “It’s nice being able to fight again. I can’t imagine sitting this one out.” 

The room got a little tense after that. Ripley looked down, feeling a little awkward about what she wanted to ask next. 

“You.” She sighed. “You do know this isn’t permanent, right? The entire reason Blondie wants the feather is to make it permanent. As it stands, the Hamon in your body is slowly killing Santana’s DNA. Eventually the age-reversal will wear off.” 

The man only nodded. 

“Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve read your medical file, Mr. Joestar. I-”

“Easy, easy.” Joseph raised a dismissive hand. “We were having such a nice conversation. No need to drag it down with that. I’ll be fine. I always am.” He gave her a big grin. “Luck and a smile, that’s all you need.” 

The agent wasn’t convinced. However, she decided to honor his wishes and drop the subject. Hell, what did she even know? This is the very man that defeated Kars. He survived a lethal confrontation with Dio. He raised an invisible baby in his eighties. Maybe there really wasn’t anything Joseph Joestar couldn’t accomplish with a little bit of luck. It was a nice thought, to be sure. If it was true, maybe they all had a chance of surviving their war with Blondie. 

Maybe… 

 

It was an ordinary morning in Naples. Sheila E. was sleeping on a hammock overlooking the beautiful city. It hung from a few poles on the academy’s roof. Giorno had it set up for her when he assigned her to watch over the Joestar party. To be perfectly honest, Sheila would sleep on a bed of hot coals if Giorno asked her to. She wouldn’t even question it. If he requested something, there had to be a reason. She’d determined nearly ten years ago that Giorno Giovanna was the purest man on God’s green Earth. 

When her sister was murdered by unruly gangsters, Sheila E. was hellbent on getting revenge. However, it seemed that Pannacotta Fugo and Giorno Giovanna beat her too it. Along with the late Leone Abbachio, they defeated her sister’s killer. Not only that, but Giorno promised her that his death was worse than anything she could even imagine. Purple Haze’s disease spread through his entire body almost instantly. A slew of infections, boils, cysts, and internal hemorrhaging completely destroyed his body from the inside out. She could remember Giorno’s words well. They were practically etched into her brain. 

“In the moment Illuso died, I could see regret on his face. He regretted every moment of his entire life. But most of all, he regretted being born at all. If he’d never been born, he wouldn’t have to experience that pain.” 

Those words brought the young girl more comfort than they should have. She was only thirteen at the time, but she’d seen and done more than a hardened soldier. Purple Haze delivered justice to Illuso with more efficiency and brutality than her Voodoo Child ever could. Because of that, she owed a debt to Pannacotta Fugo as well. He was a little more aloof than Giogio, though. Sheila E. was fairly sure that he cared about her, but it was impossible to ever be certain with a man like Fugo. 

She let out a tired groan, stretching her legs as the sun rose over the Naples skyline. It was time to check on the Joestars. She’d gotten her three hours of sleep. Anything more and she’d feel like a zombie. The tired woman rolled out of her makeshift hammock and yawned once again. Sure, babysitting Giogio’s allies wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but she’d never turn a mission down. A part of her hoped someone would throw a punch just to make the job a little more interesting. 

As Sheila E. walked through the silent academy wing, she whistled quietly to herself. Amber beams pierced the curtains of the long corridor, illuminating dust particles as they drifted through the air. After a short walk, she arrived at the common area. Nobody seemed to be awake yet. The woman shrugged apathetically, plopping herself onto the couch. She’d give everyone some more time to rest. As long as they didn’t cause any problems, they could sleep all day. 

Time drew on, and Sheila E. still hadn’t heard a peep from any of the Joestar party. After about thirty minutes, she grew a little curious. The previous morning, Jotaro had been up for coffee before sunrise. Something didn’t feel right. The watch-woman’s nose twitched a bit. Giving into her sense of smell, Sheila rolled onto the floor. She followed her instincts over toward one of the bedrooms. That’s when her eyes widened. She opened the door, fully prepared to be proven wrong. However, she was dead-on. 

The bedroom was empty. 

Sheila E. frantically ran to another door, forcing it open with little regard. Once again, completely vacant. Something wasn’t right. Everyone was accounted for when she did her final check of the night. The young woman bolted across the common room and tried another door. No luck. The Joestar party was gone. 

She got her cell phone out and hastily dialed the number of Giorno’s current burner-phone. They were instructed to only call that phone during extreme emergencies. If anybody got the number, it would be bad news. She knew this qualified as an emergency, so she dialed with confidence. After a single ring, she heard a soothing voice. 

“Sheila.” Giogio asked with a faint hint of urgency. “What’s wrong?” 

“T-The Joestars. They’re gone. All of them are gone! I don’t know why, and I have no idea where!” She stammered incoherently for a moment after. 

“Understood. Stay there.” Is all he said. 

When the going got tough, Giorno was a man of few words. Phrases like “are you sure” weren’t in his vocabulary. He trusted his elites with one-hundred-percent certainty. That spirit was the only reason he could become the leader of Passione in the first place. He handled things, plain and simple. 

Sheila E. paced around the common room for about fifteen minutes. She’d heard nothing from anybody. That was to be expected. Giorno was likely investigating things. Sheila would be informed when there was something she could contribute to the cause. After another ten minutes of aimless pacing, she sat down on the couch with a sigh. 

A moment later, the door swung open with enough force that it slammed into the wall. Pannacotta Fugo entered, eyes narrowing when he saw Sheila E. 

“You’re here, good. We’re leaving.” 

Sheila was up a second later. She hurried over to the door. Fugo wasted no time, turning around and leading her down the hallway. 

“What’s the situation?” She asked as they hurried down the academy stairs. 

“An elite meeting.” Is all Fugo said. 

Oh. That wasn’t good at all. Giorno would regularly have his friends over for wine and company. It was rarely called a meeting, though. Whenever there was a Passione Elite Meeting, things were seriously going wrong. She saw Fugo’s car parked on the sidewalk outside. Tire marks indicated that he’d peeled right off the road and parked as close to the front steps as possible. 

They got into the car and swerved onto the road. After about fifteen minutes they arrived at Giorno’s manor. It was a lovely home on top of the highest hill in Naples. The courtyard was filled with trimmed hedges, fountains and statues. Fugo parked the car with much more respect this time. Once it stopped, they quickly hurried inside. 

Sheila E. and Fugo were the final arrivals. Giorno was sitting in his favorite chair, hands folded in his lap as he considered the situation. His closest allies and confidants were circled all around him. When the final two members entered, he lifted his head. 

“Ah, perfect.” He said in a low, calculated voice. “Now we can begin.” 

Everyone was tense. None of them feared Giorno, but they all carried a deep respect of his power. When the young man was agitated, the room had a suffocating energy. This was one of those times. The boss snapped his fingers, pointing toward D’amicio, the chief of Naples’s police force. 

“Have your officers found anything yet?” 

“No, Giogio. I had them searching security footage all night. Nobody saw anything suspicious.” 

Sheila E. was perplexed. “All night? They’ve been missing for half an hour.” 

“Polnareff went missing last night.” Fugo explained. 

Giorno nodded. “We’re treating his absence and the disappearance of the Joestars as one case. Neither of them had any reason to leave. We have to assume they were taken.” 

“Taken?” She questioned. “What kind of manpower would that require? Some of those Joestars are total beefcakes. How the hell do you take them?” 

“A stand like Mr. President could get the job done. That still doesn’t explain how the enemy captured them.” Giorno rubbed his index fingers together. “Jotaro Kujo’s Star Platinum is a fearsome beast. From what I’ve been told by the Speedwagon Foundation over the years, it’s the fastest and strongest combat Stand on record. Not only that, but it has a passive ability as well. It can protect Kujo even when he’s not aware of a threat. The only other Stand capable of doing such a thing is my Gold Experience Requiem, but I don’t have that all the time. I just can’t explain how someone could kidnap Kujo, even if he was asleep.” 

“Gio, we shouldn’t waste our time with questions like that. It happened. Now we need to fix it.” Fugo interjected, always the one to keep his boss on target. 

“It still worries me, but you’re right.” Giorno surrendered with a sigh. “Mista, go with D’acimo. The two of you are to round up a search party. Wear a uniform, Mista. Don’t make any waves. You’re only allowed to act if your party encounters a Stand. If that happens, you’re in charge.” 

“Of course, Giogio.” Mista nodded. 

Without another word, the gunslinger and the chief left the room. Giorno’s eyes drifted to Fugo and Sheila E. 

“You two.” He pointed two fingers at the pair. “Polnareff was last seen at the library. Fugo spent the night investigating, but he didn’t find anything. Sheila, use your Voodoo Child and see what there is to see.” 

“Of course, Gio.” She nodded. 

“Is that all, Boss?” Fugo asked, straightening his tie a bit. He was clearly exhausted from a sleepless night. 

Giorno folded one leg over another, pondering for a moment. “Try not to get killed. Or captured. I can’t deny that everyone who has gone missing so far is a Stand User. It’s troubling. Keep your guards up. If something could swipe Kujo from his bed, it can get you too.” 

“Of course. What will you be doing?” Fugo looked out the window, seeing two black cars pulling into the estate. 

“In any other circumstance, I’d have my boots on the ground with you. Polnareff is an important asset and a cherished friend. However, my meeting with Madam Dolly is tomorrow. I need to get to France.” 

“You’re still going to that? Gio, please reconsider. All of your elites are focusing on this investigation. You plan on going alone?” Fugo’s eyes widened, and he took a step forward. “Let me go with you, please.” 

Giorno simply raised his hand dismissively. “Fugo, I need you to lead this.” The blonde man stood, walking over to his subordinate. 

The boss was below average height, standing only at five-foot-six. When he stood close to Fugo, their difference in stature was pronounced. Pannacotta Fugo was a tall, slim man. Giorno, meanwhile, was smaller with more defined muscle definition. 

“You’re the boss while I’m gone. Find Polnareff. Find the Joestars. Keep everyone safe.” Giorno instructed, resting a hand on Fugo’s shoulder. 

The strawberry blonde was in disbelief. Sure, he considered himself to be Gio’s top advisor. Over the years he had reformed his relationship with the friends he once abandoned. It was hard to imagine a time when he didn’t have total faith in his boss. Still, there was always a small inkling of doubt among the elites. It felt like everyone was waiting for him to cower away once again. Normally if Giorno ever had to leave the country, he would leave Polnareff in charge. Fugo had no idea he’d be next in line. 

“Of course, Gio. I’ll get it done.” 

The boss patted his friend’s shoulder twice, smiling. “Don’t worry about me. Dolly doesn’t want me dead. And if Shizuka’s story is true, she has a lot to answer for. I plan to confiscate the foundation’s arrows for the time being. If anything goes wrong, I’ll call.” 

“Be safe.” Fugo nodded. 

“Now go, both of you. Stay in touch with Mista. If anybody finds anything, you team up. Do not go after this enemy on your own. Safety in numbers.” Giorno returned to his seat, folding his hands once more. “Arrivederci.”

“Right.” Fugo and Sheila E. said simultaneously.  

 

Thirty minutes passed rather quickly. Ripley and Joseph were growing restless in the mysterious hotel room. After the allotted time had expired, Joseph stood up. He flexed his arms a bit, stretching with a small groan. 

“And that’s our time. It doesn’t seem like the gang’s showing up anytime soon. We need to move.” He said confidently. 

“I don’t like it, but a deal’s a deal. We’ll find them.” Ripley sighed, dusting herself off and standing up. “What’s our plan?” 

Joseph ventured over to the door. “Well, we should just start walking. Something has to be out there.” 

He swung the door open. The man’s astute eyes immediately noticed something was wrong. He raised a brow, lifting a hand to his chin. “Say…” He mumbled. “This isn’t right.” 

The agent followed close behind him. Granted, she couldn’t see past his monolithic frame. “What’s the problem?” 

Joseph walked out of the room curiously. “This wallpaper. It’s different, isn’t it? The design isn’t the same as before.” 

Ripley raised a brow, exiting the room and running a hand along the wall. “I didn’t really pay attention. You really think it looks different?”

“Step one to survival is to always pay attention, even to the little things. Missing a single detail could mean death. I’ve trained myself to notice things most people wouldn’t. It’s why I’m still here.” He said with a grave tone. “Information is the most important resource on the planet, Ripley. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. People kill for it every day. They die for it every day. The more you have, the more dangerous you. In turn, the more valuable you become to others.” 

She felt like she was being lectured by an ancient martial artist. Still, the agent simply it nodded her head. “Let’s say the wallpaper is different. The implications are severe.” 

“I agree.” Joseph mumbled, looking down the hall. “The most likely scenario is that we’re in a different hallway than before. Sure, paper-swapping goblins might be possible, but it seems a little far-fetched.” 

“So the doors don’t always lead to the same place? That could explain why their wiring isn’t connected. Every room is like an isolated block constantly shifting around, connecting to other blocks in a large maze.” Ripley suggested. 

Joseph turned to look at the smaller woman, raising a brow. “Say, what’s that in your pocket?” 

She seemed confused. “Pocket? I don’t have anything in my-” She stopped mid-sentence when her fingers felt something rectangular. She pulled it out quickly, analyzing it. 

It was a room key, the same kind you’ve have at any hotel. “Hotel California.” She read out loud, turning it so Joseph could see. 

He took it from her hand carefully, inspecting it up close. “It seems like this isn’t some small-fry trap. This place seems intricate. I wonder what’ll happen if we use it on one of these doors.” 

They didn’t get the chance, however. Ripely was standing quite close to an old painting on the wall. It was nice enough, and something you’d expect to see hanging in a hotel hallway. Neither of them paid it any mind at all. That is, until the subject matter of the painting emerged from it. Joseph watched in disbelief as the man in the painting sprang out. It happened too fast, too unexpectedly. He didn’t have time to react. 

The mysterious man sprang into action, grabbing Ripley from behind and pulling her against him. He lifted a knife up to her throat, pressing the blade against her skin. She was shocked beyond belief, but didn’t panic. The agent just stood perfectly still, lifting her chin a bit and raising her hands slowly in surrender. 

“Holy shit!” Joseph shouted, taking a step back. 

The man was obscured by a long black cloak, the hood of which covered his face. “Give me all your credits, or the bitch dies.” 

“Credits!? What the hell are you talking about?” Joseph questioned. 

“DON’T play dumb with me, pretty boy. Hand them over right now!” The enemy growled sharply. 

“We’re new here. Care to explain what a credit is?” Ripley asked in a low, dry tone. 

The man responded with a swift punch to Ripley’s stomach. She recoiled a bit, cutting her neck a bit on the impossibly sharp knife. 

“Shut the fuck up! I need them. You don’t understand. I need them right now! So hand them over, or I’ll find someone who will!” 

A cold expression came over Agent Ripley’s face. She seemed to be done entertaining the stranger’s antics. Her eyes began to glow a bright electric blue. A moment later, the cloaked man screamed in agony. His body twitched, convulsing randomly as the electricity invaded his body. 

“You know that the human body is quite the conductor of electricity?” She asked casually, stepping away from the man. She swiped the knife from his hand, looking at it. “Almost as much as metal.” Her body began to discharge potent static blasts of energy once more. With little remorse, she stabbed the man in the stomach. Another shockwave invaded the man, causing him to fall onto the carpet helplessly. 

His body trembled, one of his eyes twitching every second or two. Ripley scoffed, wiping the blood from her neck and checking to see if it was bad. 

“Sorry about that, Mr. Joestar.” She mumbled apathetically. 

Joseph watched in amazement, a big smile on his face. “My god! You sure don’t mess around, do you?” 

“I’m just lucky that he got so close. Dumbass thought he could just pull a knife on someone in a place like this?” 

“We’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for more Stand Users. I’m getting a bad feeling about this place.” Joseph peered over his shoulder cautiously. “We might not get so lucky the next time.” 

“Then let’s get moving. We’ve got to find the others.” 

 

Fugo and Sheila E. arrived at the library shortly after their meeting with Giorno. It had been cleared out the night before. Yellow police tape blocked off the staircase. Of course, the two gangsters ignored such a thing. As they walked inside, the stench of blood immediately struck their noses. 

“Why would someone take Mr. Polnareff?” Sheila E. questioned as they approached the crime scene. 

“He’s important to Gio. It could be for ransom.” Fugo suggested, but he didn’t sound too convinced. 

“We’d have gotten a note by now. And there’s no way these people are holding the Joestars for ransom. I can’t even think of a way to contain that many Stand Users.” 

“You kill them.” He shrugged. “That’s the only way.” 

Sheila’s eyes darted over to Fugo. She made a sound of irritation. “You think they’re dead, then?” 

“Either they’re dead, or they’ve already escaped. I can’t think of a way to keep them restrained either.” 

“That’s why you’re Giogio’s logic-guy. You have absolutely no imagination.” 

They arrived at the back corner of the library. Blood stained the walls and carpet. Sheila E. squatted down, sniffing it. 

“Who was this?” She questioned. 

“A newbie. Polnareff wanted to do some reading, so he had a new recruit take him here. I don’t even think the guy had a Stand. Poor bastard.” 

Sheila nodded her head, standing up. “I don’t smell the turtle. Seems like it wasn’t killed here. That’s a good sign.” 

“Maybe the enemy wanted to utilize Mr. President. It’s a useful Stand, after all.” Fugo suggested.

“How would anyone know about Mr. President? This feels like an accident. The blood spatter indicated a passionate murder. Heat of the moment. The killer was clearly enjoying it.” She muttered. 

Fugo tensed up. Sheila E. was too busy investigating the blood to notice, though. He felt a presence in the library. It was subtle, but definitely real. The building was supposed to be empty. It was an active crime scene, after all. He had to assume whoever was in the building was an enemy. The intent to kill filled the room. It was potent. Someone dangerous was close by. 

“Sheila, can you smell anybody close by?” He whispered. 

She looked up at him curiously. “What? I’m not a damn dog, Fugo.” She said sharply, completely missing the irony of the statement. 

She was born with an exceptional sense of smell. During her childhood, Sheila would always romp around the woods like a wolf. She used that time with nature to train her heightened sense even more. The young girl would often attempt to track things with her eyes closed, relying entirely on scent to locate creatures and objects. Still, her nose was only human. It had nothing to do with her Stand. She couldn’t just sense people with it. Sure, her Stand resembled an animal, but that was more caused by her feral nature than anything else. 

“Shut up for a second.” He groaned, deeming her as useless for the time being. 

Footsteps could be heard from the upper level of the library. This time, both of them heard them clearly. Sheila sprang to her feet silently, knowing exactly how to move like a predator. 

“We should call Mista.” She whispered. 

Fugo raised a single finger to silence her. “We were talking at full volume. He knows we’re here. That doesn’t mean he knows where we are. We need to move.” 

“Gio said-” 

“Gio left me in charge. Calling Mista is a mistake. What if we lose him? No. Here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to walk out into the center of the room and look for clues. I’ll stay behind and wait.” 

“I’m the bait?” 

“Is that a problem?”

“No, just checking.” She shrugged, walking away from her temporary boss. 

Fugo was admittedly worried about a fight. His Purple Haze Distortion had been acting up recently. Eight years ago, he began a journey of enlightenment. Giorno had tasked him with improving himself as a whole. The boss had a theory that Purple Haze’s rabid, uncontrollable nature was a reflection of Fugo’s mental state. Because of that, the man had spent the better part of a decade attending therapy sessions, reading philosophy books, and learning meditation. Still, his Purple Haze Distortion remained toxic and volatile. Lately, it had gotten even worse. He could barely control his Stand even for a matter of seconds. The last time he got into a fight, he nearly died. If he was going to take on this opponent, it needed to be fast and deadly. 

Sheila E. meandered over toward the children’s section of the large library. Her Voodoo Child could unearth shameful things someone thought or said in any given area. She had to admit, her morbid curiosity had her wondering about what Voodoo Child would discover in such an innocent environment. 

The animal-like Stand emerged from behind her. She took a deep breath, staring at the book shelf. 

“Erierierierierieri!” She chanted, punting the shelf relentlessly. 

Multiple pairs of feminine lips appeared on the battered wood. They spoke secrets that remained unheard for years. Sheila E. had the ability to comprehend every sentence at once. To most, it would be unintelligible garbled up nonsense. However, Sheila heard hundreds of sentences in an instant. Some were shameful, some were embarrassing. Others made her stomach turn. If she had to pick the worst thing she heard from the lips, it was probably a man’s confession about pleasuring himself onto children’s books for fun. 

The young woman rolled her eyes, wondering when her loud display would catch the attention of their enemy. Her nose twitched a bit. She could feel it. Someone was definitely getting close. A profound murderous lust was emitting from someone nearby. It felt very similar to the presence of Purple Haze Distortion, but she’d never admit that to Fugo. 

Sheila E. continued playing dumb, picking up a book and flipping through it absentmindedly. Still, nothing. She was beginning to grow restless, deciding to wander over toward the computers instead. She shook the computer’s mouse to wake it up, sitting down in front of it. The woman kept a careful eye on the screen, hoping to see the reflection of her enemy. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be seen. 

Once the computer fully woke up, Sheila E. found that it was already in use. An internet explorer tab was open to some website she’d never seen before. It seemed rather strange. She scrolled through the page, hardly understanding any of the jargon within. That’s when something caught her eye. A little notification bubble appeared on the bottom left-side of the screen. 

Upload complete.

Someone had been using this computer very recently. What did they upload? Could it have been the enemy? She quickly double clicked the bubble. Another page loaded. There, she was greeted by a large list of folders. They all seemed to be names. 

Clancy. Delaney, Rubin, Anderson… The list went on. 

She found the “recent uploads” tab and clicked it. A moment later, her hand froze. She felt her jaw lock up, and her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. 

“W-What!?!” She stood up, kicking the chair back. 

On the screen in front of her was the latest upload. It was a simple gif, but carried a grave implication. The gif was of Pannacotta Fugo pounding his fists against the screen, silently screaming at the top of his lungs. The file was listed as “fugo.sol” and was listed as thirty-seven gigabytes. 

Sheila E. quickly turned to look for her friend. “Fugo!?!” She shouted. 

No response. 

“Fugo, talk to me! I don’t care if he hears! Where the hell are you?” 

She expected to be reprimanded. She hoped to hear Fugo’s irritated voice scolding her about breaking his cover. However, she heard nothing. Her eyes darted back to the computer screen. The digital Fugo had given up on punching the screen. Instead, he seemed to be looking around whatever room he was in for another way out. Once his eyes met Sheila’s, he ran back up to the screen. 

Fugo was in the computer, and he could see her. He was trying to communicate.

“What in the hell is happening?” She stared back at him. 

To be Continued...

 

Chapter Text

Sheila E. stared in disbelief at the screen. The otherwise dark library was dimly lit by the blue glow of a computer monitor. On said monitor was a display of her partner, Fugo. He was pounding the screen with his fists, screaming silently for her. It took a moment to register. However, she quickly got her bearings. 

“Fugo!?” She ran up to the desk, looking right at him. 

He nodded. 

“Fugo, I can’t hear you! Can you hear me?” 

After a moment’s contemplation, the man shook his head. It would appear that he merely assumed what she was asking. Either way, it was clear. They couldn’t communicate very well. She groaned, biting her lip. 

“Dammit! This is why we should know sign language! Stuff like this wouldn’t happen!” She mumbled. 

Fugo just lifted a hand to his ear to signify his confusion. This caused Sheila E. to grow even more irritated. Despite that, he seemed to attempt communication once again. The man mouthed something elaborate, but Sheila didn’t understand. 

“What!?” She asked with cartoonish lip movement, hoping he’d be able to read them. 

Fugo rubbed the bridge of his nose, clearly annoyed with the current situation. He lifted a finger as if to say “pay attention, Sheila.” The woman nodded, following so far. Then, Fugo took both hands and covered his eyes with them. 

Sheila E. mirrored his motion for a moment, then looked to him expectantly. He nodded, covering them again. 

“So I need to cover my eyes? For how long? Cover them from what?” 

Fugo was quite the practical man. He knew what needed to be done and would always be the first to do it. When communications seemed to reach a stand-still, he sighed in defeat. He reached into his pocket, expertly flinging his switchblade open and inspecting its sharpness. Sheila E. watched in fascination as Fugo carved into his arm. Without a moment’s hesitation the man cut a message into his own flesh. It took about thirty seconds since he was careful not to cut anything important. Once he was done, he turned his arm to face the woman. 

Sheila leaned closer, squinting her eyes to read the bloodied message. “Stand camera. No look.” 

He nodded, covering his eyes once more to drive the point home. 

That’s when it all sank in. Sheila E. understood. She wasn’t as smart or quick as Fugo, but any dunce could put the pieces together with so much evidence. The enemy had some sort of camera. Apparently, its flash turned you into a digital file. That must be how the enemy managed to kidnap so many dangerous Stand Users. No one could fight back from inside a database. It was likely stored on the cloud somewhere. That website was a file-hosting domain. There needed to be a physical computer powering the server somewhere on the planet though. Were all of Sheila’s allies being stored on that computer’s hard drive? She didn’t understand how computers worked very well, as she’d never owned one. Despite that, Passione had some technical geniuses. They’d be able to figure this out. All she needed to do was relay the information. 

However, it wouldn’t be that easy. Staring into the screen, Sheila E.’s sharp eyes noticed something. It was difficult to see with all the moving graphics on screen, but she could notice something off. That’s when her eyes widened. It was a reflection! Fugo pointed toward her, then gestures to cover her eyes. 

Sheila E did just that. She closed her eyes tight, sending a swift kick directly behind her. Unfortunately, her attack didn’t connect with anything. The woman dove to the floor and rolled under the computer station. Eyes sealed shut, she quickly stumbled to her feet once more. She cursed herself for not being observant of the library when she had the chance. Sheila barely had an inkling of her current position. All she knew was a general location of the enemy. He was somewhere behind her. She ran forward, slamming face-first into a bookshelf. Her forehead clanked against the fine oak shelf, causing a horrible THUD. She reeled back, falling onto her ass. 

The blinded gangster rubbed her forehead in pain. What a dangerous opponent. Forcing your enemy to fight without their vision was a tremendous handicap. Even though she had the good fortune of knowing her enemy’s ability, fighting it was proving to be very difficult. If she focused on her other senses, they seemed to be a little heightened due to her blindness. Sheila listened carefully for any indication of where her enemy was. 

After a few silent seconds, she heard something coming from behind her. Voodoo Child manifested, kicking directly backwards. Its foot made contact with a chair, sending it flying into the computer station. The digital center was almost completely destroyed by the high-velocity chair. Several monitors were shattered, and multiple computers fell over. After the racket, Sheila listened for any groans of pain. 

Nothing. 

Gritting her teeth, the woman rolled to her feet once more. She turned around, backing up until she made contact with the bookshelf from before. She found it, making a mental note of her approximate location. 

“So, where the hell are you, huh!? I’m fighting with both hands tied behind my back right now! What kind of a man are you? Hmmmm?” The feral woman screamed out, slouching down and taking an animalistic combat stance. 

There was still nothing. Her ears couldn’t pick up any movement. She cursed the stupid library for putting thick carpet down the year before. Ironically, too many people were complaining about loud footsteps. After a moment, she realized something. The man had to have a scent. The library was filled with a multitude of distracting, interesting smells. If she could get close enough to identify the man’s, though, she could isolate it. She just needed a good sniff. That’s all. 

“Not in the mood to talk, ey?” She called out once more. “I gotta warn you, I’m fuckin’ crazy. It’d be better for everyone if you just gave my boy-toy back.” 

Once again, her threats fell on deaf ears. 

“Well great. Guess we’re doing this the hard way, then.” 

 

Darkness. That was the only thing currently occupying Shirlie’s world. She was completely and totally enveloped in black. Her mind was silent. Her senses were muted. It was almost like she didn’t even exist. It was a familiar feeling. Total loneliness… She was still aware. There was just nothing around her to perceive. It was like she was drifting in an empty corner of space. She tried to remember what brought her to such a state. What was the last thing she could recall? 

Shizuka. 

Shirlie’s eyes shot open. They were utterly bloodshot. Her heartbeat pounded all throughout her head. It was all she could hear. The sound droned out her thoughts. All she could hear was anxiety. Why did Shizuka bring her such anxiety? No, it wasn’t Shizuka. The child was just the messenger. Something else was causing this distress. What had the girl warned Shirlie about? It was important. In fact, it was more important than anything else in the world. 

Wake up. 

That was it. Shirlie needed to wake up. She was asleep. The teen had been in high school. Only it wasn’t really high school. It was a ruse. The entire reality was a concoction of someone’s demented mind. Not just someone. Shirlie knew him all too well. 

Drifting through the void of space, she could slowly feel a lucidity that had been absent before. Her conscious mind was winning control. All of this was familiar. She had experience with it. If her fears were true, that would mean death for everyone involved. She prayed that it was just a nightmare. Just a traumatic flashback to days long past. The rational side of her knew that was just wishful thinking. 

That’s when a voice could be heard in the distance. It didn’t belong to Shizuka. No, it was that of someone Shirlie had forgotten until that very moment. It was her twin’s voice. It was Pepsi. 

“You have to get up.” They warned. 

Shirlie knew it to be true. Still, getting up was much easier said than done. She was afraid. Terrified, even. It had always been like this. Why was it happening again? What did she do to deserve it? Where were her friends? She closed her eyes once more. It was easier than fighting. She surrendered. 

 

Sheila E. had a good nose. Better than most. Still, she was only human. She couldn’t pick out the man’s smell in such a large place filled with interesting scents. The young woman had one leg-up on her opponent though. Something that would discourage anyone from engaging in a fight. If only he knew, he’d be running for his life. Yes, the truth of the matter was simple. Shiela E. was fucking crazy. She would do anything to assure victory. Whether it be chewing off her own leg, killing an innocent puppy, or pissing on the pope, Sheila wouldn’t hesitate to complete her goal. When she set her mind to something, she became an unstoppable force. Nobody could stand in her way. She had never died before. With that in mind, her twisted sense of logic would dictate that she was simply immortal. 

Her enemy had gone and pissed her off by kidnapping Fugo. She was furious about Polnareff, but this was different. Fugo was hers. Nobody had any right to poach him without her say. She snarled, baring her teeth. 

“Fine then! If you’re not gonna show yourself, here’s the deal! You get one hit! ONE! You’d better make it count, shithead!” 

Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she waited for him to strike. She was willing to take a direct attack. That meant she’d be able to pinpoint his location. Silence filled the library as she awaited her enemy’s next move. That’s when she finally heard something. 

Creaking. 

She could hear the distinct sound of wood creaking from directly behind her. It took a moment to realize what was happening. When she finally put the pieces together, it was too late. 

“Oh son of a bitch.” 

The bookshelf she had her back to began to fall. It was enormous, made from fine oak and lined with dozens of hard-covered books. Sheila E. was quite a small woman. It didn’t take a genius to guess what would happen next. The shelf came falling down, taking Sheila with it. Both of them slammed into the floor. After Shelia’s initial pain from landing face first on the floor, she was met with something far greater. At first, she merely grunted as a few books landed on her. Then, a moment later, she let out a cry of pain as the bookshelf landed on her small body. One of the shelves connected with the back of her head, causing her ears to hiss with white noise. 

Sheila E. was completely dazed. Ears ringing, vision blurry, body weak, she couldn’t even determine where the enemy was. During the loud fall he could have gone anywhere. That’s when she realized something. Blurry vision? Christ, her eyes were open! She closed them quickly, trying to get a grip. He had her right where he wanted her. Trapped and dazed. The smartest thing to do in that moment was play dead. If he thought she was unconscious, he might come closer. 

The gangster didn’t move a muscle. She ignored the throbbing pain coming from her head. She’d return the favor in spades when she got her hands on this wretched bastard. All she had to do was lie there. She tried to focus all of her attention onto her sense of hearing. Nothing else mattered. Her eyes were closed, her nose was shoved into the carpet, her touch was preoccupied by pain. She just needed to focus on sound. 

After about thirty seconds, she could swear she heard footsteps on the carpet. It was difficult to decipher anything over the sound of her ears ringing. Still, she was confident that the enemy was moving. The footsteps were growing closer. Her body grew heavier, and she felt like she was close to passing out. She couldn’t let that happen. If she did, it would all be over. Would Passione get another chance to capture this man? Would he continue his crusade against Stand Users? 

She felt the bookshelf being lifted off of her body. Then, a firm hand grabbed her by her hair. Sheila’s head was lifted up by the rough hand. She could tell that it belonged to a Stand. What was his plan? Was he going to open her eyes by force? She just needed him to get a little closer… 

Two fingers roughly pried at her eyelids. She was out of time. The woman reached into her bra and grabbed a tiny vial. She was incredibly lucky that it didn’t break when she was crushed by the shelf. Fate seemed to favor her. She threw the vial at the man with all her might, hearing it shatter upon contact. Gasoline burst from the container and got all over the man’s chest. 

“Now I’ll lever lose you, you son of a bitch!” She hissed, clamoring her way out of the pile of books. 

In a panic, the man dropped the bookshelf onto Sheila once more. She let out a grunt as it crushed her against the carpet. She could hear him running away. 

“Not a goddamn chance, fuckface.” She growled. 

Voodoo Child threw the bookshelf off of her with so much force that it slammed into the ceiling. She relied on her sense of smell, following the stench of gasoline through the library. It wasn’t a perfect solution. She tripped over quite a few things. Still, she wasn’t going to lose the trail. 

The man bounded up the nearest staircase. He hadn’t been careful enough. That bitch managed to douse him in gasoline. He’d be fine. Dominic Wade had never lost a fight in his life. On the rare occasion that someone managed to figure out the secret of his Digital Love, they were still hopelessly outmatched. How were you supposed to fight someone with your eyes closed? Sheila E. had gotten lucky, plain and simple. He was still going to win. 

Dominic hid behind a bookshelf. It was time to asse