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Capitolo Secondo: Ambizione (14)
The first thing I noticed as I woke up was… that I wasn't awake.
Or rather, I opened my eyes to find myself in a dream-like situation. Now, that very concept would leave me frowning at the many dubious nightmares I had in the past, the worst ones tied to when I first developed my Stand and a couple more I really didn't want to talk about. Right now… I was standing in the middle of a desert, it was just me… some cactus and… a figure.
Blinking, I glanced around to confirm it was just that, nothing more beyond this confusing setting I was now in. The sun was up in the sky, but I barely felt the heat despite the intensity it was shining with. I finally started to move, intrigued by the figure that was standing right there, sitting on a closed box, a lock keeping the chest closed shut while the figure, a man that was giving me his back and was leaning down in a way that offered no sight over his head.
"Who are you?" I asked, almost sounding demanding as something about this entire scene left me… angry for some reason. "Where are we?"
No answer, only silence as the fleeting wind just left true peace in this setting. I kept approaching, but I could tell that something was keeping me from reaching my destination. Each step added to the distance instead of taking me closer and… I could tell that it was all tied to the figure. My pace intensified to try and counter this absurd development, but so did the pace behind the increase of steps that needed to be taken. Soon I was running, using Hamon to actually try to double, if not triple my speed. Nothing changed, the boost didn't matter and I tried to use ｢ACT 2｣ to further expand my current physical abilities, by using its legs. Surprisingly enough, that seemed to do the trick as I started to gain on the distance-expansion. I rushed, I finally felt moments away from finally grasping at the man's shoulders when… something happened.
It was sudden, I barely felt the action as an invisible punch slammed onto my cheek and sent me soaring and crashing back on the ground… and the intense distance-expansion ceased. I felt blood leaking from my nostrils, the hit having traveled across the face and left me with a minor concussion. So sudden, so realistic- and yet I knew this was just a vision. It shouldn't be hurting, yet it did. I stood up and… the figure was no longer there. The box stood there, the lock, now perfectly visible from where I was. Four letters or numbers- numbers, I confirmed as I stood up and finally resumed my approach. This time I wasn't stopped by anything, except dread as something within it felt 'pulling' me the closest. But it wasn't a nice kind of pull.
Something about it… felt so horrible, so dreadful and I could only stare in pure shock as the box cracked and shattered in multiple pieces. There was nothing inside, I realized with extreme confusion and… annoyance. Something about this scene just didn't make any sense to me. I expected something in it and I wanted to know.
I need to know. I demand to know.
But I couldn't get any answer as I was left alone and with many questions to think about as I started to really wake up.
Someone was trying to wake up, and I opened my eyes in brief surprise when I realized it was Robert. The fellow blond had a tired look on his face, it was clear it was quite clear in the morning and yet he knew he had to be awake for this. And so everyone else was supposed to.
Kate was already awake, the same for a yawning Derek and Bloody as the child stretched a little bit before leaning down to scratch the head of the passing Zephy. Bhediya hummed quietly while staring at the nearby window and glanced back at me as I calmly got up from my small bed. I raised a questioning look as to why he looked so frustrated and he shrugged.
"It's earlier than usual," He replied flatly and I blinked. After a quick glance at my small watch, I realized that the werewolf was referring to the hour which we all woke up to. One hour of difference and… I could barely see any sunlight coming from the windows. I could tell it was tied to the fact we had skipped one of our usual stops, but that didn't mean this disrupted any element of the trip. We would still wake up tired on the normal basis, so it wasn't a major change compared to usual.
Yet none of the occupants of the train was willing to do anything until some more sun started to come up and brighten the road from the station and into town. It definitely added to the matter that all shops had to be still closed at this hour, and it would be futile to send anyone out to retrieve the material we needed. Instead, I decided to go and have a little history lesson with Bloody. The boy was surprised when I mentioned how I wanted to walk with him around the still sleepy city. Confused, but also worried as Speedwagon argued it was still a little late to go through this kind of activity.
I disagreed on the basis that this was the best hour to go around without having to face any trouble in our planned path. Plus, it would be nice to explore Atlanta while the streets were empty so we could check the few landmarks about the Civil War that even now existed within the area. While a good part of the South might have been granted the money needed to fix some of the damage, entire cities were meant to remain in ruins for a long time due to the current hostilities between North and South. This degree of revenge might be fueled by legitimate feelings, but the damage it caused to the nation as a whole and the people first and foremost was atrocious and unforgivable. With that in mind, I wanted Bloody to know that racism wasn't the only thing a politician should know about the whole legacy of the Civil War.
The weather was fairly cold due to the current hour, but still easy to deal with as we both started to walk up to the city's entrance and then the main roads. Atlanta was one of the biggest known hubs in the South, and also where Sherman's March to the Sea started. A violent 'scorched earth' tactic which was meant to ultimately cripple the Confederates' logistics by destroying all 'military assets'. By that definition, fields were burned, stored resources were destroyed and buildings were razed for the sake of shattering what was left of the South's morale during the war.
It was an effective military attack, but one that didn't take into account the ramification of what peace would bring. No matter how many funds were poured into the idea of fixing the shredded agriculture, it was clear that the damage was done and it was going to remain for long. Even after almost two decades, the result of the destruction was visible. Sure, the fields had recovered, but the ruins of the former farms were also there as a reminder of what was lost for the sake of ending slavery once and for all. It was upsetting how violence became the tool to put an end to this and it was there that I wanted to impart a lesson to Bloody. The boy watched all around as I explained to him why there were so many ruins and why this happened.
"But why was even questioned the need to abolish slavery? I would understand that there was no plan to finance those that lost part of their business since it was tied to slavery but… why was violence the method to end this debate?"
I thought his grandfather would have told him this due to the relative importance, but, then again, it wasn't a topic that was easy to discuss when some aspects just appeared to be so jarring and stupid about the debate itself. The Civil War might have centered about slavery, but the one that poured gasoline where those that wanted to gain a political advantage over it, especially many politicians in the South. With many Southerners having long developed a disdain for the industrialists in the North, and due to the fact that illiteracy was a grave trouble back at the time, abusing that grand degree of ignorance to create purpose through racism was the best way to find support from many. A political loophole that eventually sparked the Civil War and then caused the widening of the differences between the two sides of the Union.
"Because politicians thought they could just abuse the people's hopes for their own gain. They ignored the dangers of what weak and deception-filled campaign they were promoting, ending up to allow the secession and then the war to ensue. American against American, civilian against civilian… brothers against brothers."
"Grandfather always spoke highly of… the war. Same for Derek," He argued, clearly having a bit of trouble trying to make his mind over what to think of it. Should he hate it? Should he support it? The answer was a little complicated, but not difficult for me to relay without hesitation.
"Both of them have served for the side against slavery. They fought to protect the rights of those that were undoubtedly Americans like them. They fought for what was right and what was their duty as part of the Union," I replied with a small smile. "But my words aren't meant to discredit the war itself, or at least not the side that won. Rather, I wish for you to understand that this conflict, this needless bloodshed, happened all because bickering between ambitious politicians that just couldn't swallow their pride and sacrifice their desires for the sake of many. One would think that such ambition was driven by a fair goal, but there is nothing of fair when your main objective is to keep being in power."
"It's to help the people, no matter the reputation," Bloody added and I nodded. This time he didn't huff as I regaled him with a quick head pat. "But… What happened to these politicians? I don't believe grandfather ever explained to me since… he too didn't know much about it."
"I doubt he doesn't know," I admitted nervously, now feeling like I was treading on some troubling waters due to the topic. "The politicians that weren't directly tied to the Confederation were spared from any harsh punishment. Some of them argued that they were even 'detained for being too moderate'."
"And they remained in power? But… why?"
I sighed. "The people's will, young Valentine. You might think the war reinforced a value here in the South, but it didn't remove any of the smaller stains all around. The people there haven't elected their representatives just on this topic, and it was decided to not take any hasty action that would have led to mass unrest," I explained with a heavy voice. "I understand this might sound impractical since nothing here can genuinely confirm that those people will keep their words and treat others as they should… but that doesn't mean that this action was driven by appeasement."
"Why not?" Bloody asked with a serious look, clearly upset by this entire ordeal. "Soldiers died for this, and… and they don't care?"
"If the winners acted harshly against these politicians, they would have rendered void that very sacrifice, Bloody," I replied flatly, understanding way too well how unpleasant of a truth it was. "Something many forget about victors is that they have two duties that they have to uphold. One towards those that have fallen and one to those that will come beyond their generation."
"And the duties are…?"
"A right peace, where the main theme of the war, the one that drove brave men to die, is implemented and guarded with utmost justice and respect," I commented with a serious tone. "And respect for those that weren't part of this conflict and yet they were pulled in this against their will. To preserve their rights as citizens of this country. Were they representatives removed, their rights would have been breached."
"And… then what?"
I managed a small smile. "And the ballot worked against those that lied. The people don't want to be led by liars."
The boy slowly nodded at this, still taking a few moments to digest my words as I spared a look around. The city was still sleeping even now, but I could tell that soon the sun was going to rise up properly to illuminate all around and wake up every citizen. Just as I sighed at this, I heard Bloody speak up and caught me off-guard due to how quick it came out and I heard it.
"What about with the… other grandfather? He was the president in his timeline-"
"And he worked to fix these issues, but he did so with an iron fist that wasn't befitting of a democratically-elected leader," I argued with a scoff. "While you might think that version of your grandfather is a good president… you would be wrong. One that wishes the best for his country? Yes, but he is no good president. Not when the people within it are less valued for the sake of the prestige and power of the United States."
"He looked happy," The boy pointed out and… I actually paused for a moment, realizing what he was trying to mention. "Why is he helping us if he is a bad person?"
"Because he is a pragmatic man, young Valentine. Someone that is willing to take risks if, by the end of the day, serves to satisfy the goals of his agenda," I pointed out flatly. "He isn't an ally, but an enemy to our enemy. Don't confuse him for a friend of ours."
"What about you?"
I blinked. "Uhm?"
"You helped me. You helped Kate, you helped many… but what if you too have an agenda?"
I would have normally gotten angry had I been four years younger, always worrying and getting pissed of people putting me in that kind of group but… I was older. The joke got old as well and I barely gave a dime about it whenever it was taken by people as a possible reasoning as to why I do things. Plus, I knew he was just saying this out of irritation at knowing that his grandfather was, somehow, a liar of that proportions. It was an unusual kind of loyalty due to their bond, but perhaps it was more tied to his own idea of a proper president, the one built by the Valentine's family. So… I just chuckled. Loudly.
That seemed to confuse and annoy the younger blond at the same time. "W-What? I didn't say anything funny."
"But you did," I remarked mirthfully. "You see, Bloody, you might be correct to assume someone like me could take that kind of road but… what kind of malicious individual that wishes to hurt you would give you so much this eagerly?"
"Let me ask you this, what would be my agenda towards you? Make you the president? Get a loyal individual in the White House? A puppet even?"
"Then why give you all the tools to eventually become a threat? Why actually giving you lessons that broaden your education beyond mere politics but also cover life itself as it should be lived?"
His jaw dropped a tiny bit at that rebuttal and I took this chance to push even more with my words.
"You are not in the wrong to be suspicious of people. While I don't have that kind of perception of things, that doesn't mean anyone sharing my same mindset can be as kind as I am. Some might even fake it until you are in the best spot to be completely controlled. Some will even try to offer you a sweet deal in exchange for handling things the way they want… and you need to be wary of them," I added fiercely. "But don't accuse people until you have proof of what you are trying to accuse them of. Not only the brash action could put you in jeopardy, both for reputation and wellbeing, but also set you up to handle them as complete enemies… and these people don't like that kind of attention."
Bloody could only nod, looking slightly embarrassed and fairly apologetic due to what reply I had delivered to his doubts. At this point, we had entered one of the poorer districts of Atlanta, taking note of how desolate it all looked and… how awfully quiet it had gotten ever since we took the last corner to this road. Too quiet and I knew that something was easily wrong from the malicious entities that were trying to set up an ambush for us both. Bloody paused as I stopped him by his shoulder, making him tense up at the suddenness of my action.
He remained silent, but he noticed my unnerved look as I checked around at specific spots. It didn't take long for the cracking noises of rifles discharging their shots echoed all around, forcing me to materialize ｢ACT 2｣ and push us both upward and away from the bullets' trajectory. But as we paused mid-air, four figures rushed from the tallest buildings on the side, trying to skewer us in that precise moment. Vampires, they were bearing the same blue uniform we were worried to have to deal with this frequently. Bloody didn't need an explanation as to how he was supposed to react, his arms crackling in Hamon and matching closely with the intense zapping my own limbs were coating into. Two vampires were dispatched away by a punch from the boy and a kick from me, while the other two had their heads smashed together with a double punch from ｢ACT 2｣.
We descended down again, this time a few more Vampires reaching the ground… together with a large horde of zombies that were taken from the undead in the nearby graveyard. Gritting my teeth, the number was incredibly difficult to decipher, but still within the range of action we both could manage. To be fair, I was talking more about myself, since I had yet to put Bloody to the test of killing monsters created by the Stone Mask with Hamon alone, and he had to use it primarily if we didn't want to be overwhelmed. The vampires restrained themselves from rushing at us, clearly slightly intimidated from the way we handled their comrades and using the zombies as shields. I caught one of them as it tried to approach Bloody from behind, and I was surprised when the boy returned the favor by kicking away one of the cheeky vampires that got into my blind spot. This battle felt really similar to what happened back in the Native American settlement, except here they didn't seem to have a sniper.
And… I didn't buy it. It sounded too easy, and I kept vigilant for any flash from a scope or for some gun cracking another shot again. My paranoia proved to be right as I managed to dodge away and help Bloody out of some sniping coming from two vampires in the area. It was a troublesome matter to add to the relentless assault of the ground forces, but it was still manageable even as I had to take some attention off my own side to help out the younger blond a lot due to his lack of experience of handling so many foes this closely. Despite his weaker performance caused by this being his first combat purely centered around Hamon, he was making incredible progress with how calm and steady he was keeping the Ripple's flow. Eventually we just had to 'wait' roughly ten to fifteen minutes as the sun finally started to rise properly over Atlanta and started to destroy what was left of zombies and vampires. It was good news that no one had tampered with the weather and prevented the sunlight from doing its job, but… I was actually confused by the fact they hadn't run for cover. They genuinely looked surprised when they noticed they were disintegrating with ease under those conditions. Confusing, but not important enough to stop me from reaching up for Bloody as soon as I saw the boy trembling and wobbling a little due to the duress he had put his body through. It didn't take him long to almost trip on himself due to how tiring the entire experience had been.
"I-Is it over?" He asked tiredly, his breathing irregular and heavy. I nodded, patting his head as I proceeded to lift him up and start pacing back through the way we came from.
"They are all dead… but we need to make it back to the others," I replied tensely, knowing well enough that this couldn't have been an isolated attack. With that in mind, I proceeded to get us both back to the train, expecting to find the vehicle under siege when… we arrived to find that the train was fine beyond a couple of old clothes worn by a few zombies now lying on the ground as their bodies had been destroyed either by the sunlight itself or by our friends. Instead of a full assault for us to join and break down, we arrived in time to find quite the absurd scene that gave me an explanation as to why the mercenaries were caught off-guard by their main weakness as vampires. And it all started from the sole survivor of the attacking force, a frightened vampire that was outright using a blanket to cover his skin from exploding like the rest of his companions.
Truly, the first time ever I had to handle a vampire this scared and… willingly to talk.
When I was first told of this entire affair by Bhediya, I was perplexed by the idea itself as it sounded completely… outlandish.
A vampire that had gained enough 'lucidity' to be able to surrender and actually begged for his life wasn't really a novelty considering the fact he was acting on instincts. His odds were gone, his friends were dead, he was left alone to face all his targets on his own and… yes, he didn't stand a chance of survival in these conditions. The real surprise stemmed from another element, another detail that caught my attention as I asked the werewolf to repeat that specific bit.
"He wants to talk but… he isn't asking to be spared," Bhediya repeated with a sigh, understanding that the news was fairly unusual. "He said he wanted to solely talk to you and that he… wants to take revenge at his boss."
I could understand the bitterness, but I was surprised at the eagerness to backstab Siurana this quickly. I was unsure of this but… I decided to go through with it. But not before getting more info on the matter. The rest of the crew was mostly fine, with Speedwagon having been ruffled a little as he helped some of the workers that hadn't moved to safety in time to avoid getting surrounded by the monsters. Still, I wanted to know why it was decided by the group to spare this one in particular.
"He whined and screeched a lot, dodging attacks and hiding by the corner as soon as he started to lose his right arm," Bhediya argued. "He begged meaningfully and… while that wouldn't have been enough, I also saw him try to show me a picture while he was backing away. He said it was… his family."
"That's… impossible. A vampire shouldn't be able to retain that much emotion like that."
"And yet he did. I think it's because of the fear. It's a reaction that rekindled the familiar sensation of dread for those he left behind," The werewolf pointed out quietly. "I wouldn't… approve of this since I don't believe any vampire trying to make it seem they can still feel something for humans. But I think his request is tied to his family."
I nodded, understanding where he was going with this. "I will talk to him at once. Where is he?"
The wagon had been mostly abandoned, with all the ways out either covered by some members of the group or left under the sunlight. There was no way out, and so no means for this guy to free himself from this matter. I walked inside the little lair the cornered Vampire had made out of his limited space. Things were quiet, with the man standing by one of the corners that hadn't been hit by the sun, it was clear that any attack aimed at me would just end up killing him in the process. He still aimed his red-eyed gaze at me, recognizing me as I calmly walked up until I was in the middle spot of the room.
I gazed at him and sighed. "What is your name?"
Waiting patiently, I knew he heard me and that he understood me. I was just expecting a response to come, one that was driven more by the sense of urgency at the fact he didn't have much time left to live. I used this brief pause from the talking to study the man more. Dark-brown hair that had darkened by the root, pale skin, his elongated fangs were gritting against his other teeth while he tried to think of a way to not die quickly in this circumstance. Finally, he gulped loudly and then he spoke up loud and clear, but with a thick Spanish accent.
"C-Capitano Edgar Guillen… A-Am I speaking to-"
"Dio Joestar," I interjected, catching on the fact he was struggling with the words. "I believe we can keep the answers curt. You don't have to be… lengthy in your relays."
He nodded, understanding what I was offering probably because he was aware of his accent and, with that out of the way, I started the interrogation at once, sparing no details on the matter.
"You wish to give information about your former allies," I began pushing, knowing that I had to coax him into growing invested even more into the offer before sinking my teeth onto the weak spot. "Any particular reason beyond revenge?"
He stared at the floor for a moment, then growled. "Siurano… that hijo de puta-"
"Let's also moderate the swearing. I understand the foul words just fine," I remarked before he could go through with this. Edgar regaled me with a glare and sighed loudly.
"Siurano- he set us up for this mission… because he wanted us dead."
I blinked. "How so?"
"The sun. We didn't know that it would have killed us. That bruja told us that the reason why we had to avoid the sun was because our powers would vanish- not that we would have died because of it," He lamented angrily. "We- We didn't even know you were prepared for us."
"Your 'former associates' were keen to follow a similar pattern to you. Still, why do you believe Siurano wanted your demise together with the others of your group?"
He seemed to lose fierceness for a moment, seemingly resentful but also unnerved by something he was thinking about.
"During the American Civil War… he tried to cross the border," He narrated. "We were there too, from the beginning. We knew that going through that insane plan would have meant our execution and the death of our families for treason."
"You betrayed him by alerting the government officials and having him ordered to stop from going through with that suicidal mission," I guessed, remembering Derek's explanation and connecting dots regarding what would have given a 'good reason' for that kind of punishment. It had to be something so humiliating or so devastating that Siurano couldn't help but go through with this at the expense of manpower.
"But not without reason," He argued furiously. "The bastardo- we got him to live another day for that, and that's how he returned the favor."
"I can only assume he did so because his ego demanded it. He wanted to feel strong and… unquestioned by his own men," I offered flatly. "Now, let us… talk about the information itself. What can you offer?"
I blinked. "What?"
"I have… I have a key. It's from one of the buildings in town. One of the unused ones," The dying vampire elaborated. "In there, we kept maps about your actions, our patrols and… other things that would have helped against you. We barely browsed those and… and yet I'm sure it would have worked."
He shook his head. "We all left that place without anyone behind to guard. We wanted to strike you at full force… and I am confident that no one would have entered it, not with the fright we gave to a couple of thieves two days ago."
My lips twitched at that, knowing that the 'fright' might be a little more than the classic trick or treat antic. Also, I was confused by the fact they actually had set up 'checkpoints' between the major cities just to set up better ambushes. Still, despite my growing frustration at his 'calm approach' over something so problematic, I still pressed on as I knew I had to milk this source of info on Vins' minions as much as possible if I wanted to find the best way to counter her. Plus, there was something else I wanted to know. Something really important when the final battle happened.
"And what else about… the bruga? The witch?"
"W-What about her?" He inquired.
"Was she protected by a tall and muscular man?"
"Was the man completely submitted to her or-"
"H-He seemed dumb. Like he wasn't there. I just saw him a few times but… He seemed completely obedient to the bruga."
I nodded, smiling kindly at his willingness to answer this much. "Thank you. This is… really important for us. They are not good people."
"N-Now I know..." The vampire groaned, coughing some blood out of his lips. "Still… my request."
"If it's within my power, I shall provide you one last wish."
Edgar nodded, not hesitating even for a moment as he relayed what he wanted the most to be his death wish.
"A letter," He merely answered and I frowned at this request.
"A letter? You want me to write one or-"
"My esposa and my hijo," He interjected weakly. "They are what I got left back home. I… I was wrong in trusting that rata de mierda-"
"Mind your words, please," I argued calmly but sternly. He got the message this time around as he merely nodded.
"I… I know we are… enemigos- but I need to tell them that… I can't come back. That I will not be back to them," He resumed with a tired tone, close to crack entirely as the sunlight was finally destroying him. "I- I want you to write my last words to them. Here and now."
I reached for my satchel and retrieved a piece of paper and a pen. "I will try my best to write your words. I might not be experienced in writing in Spanish but… I have some knowledge of it."
He was fine with it and soon he started to speak in his native language. I listened and wrote down what he was saying. I mostly understood everything, with just a few pieces that I guessed to fit well with the narration. It was the last note of a dying man, who was close to losing his mind and his life for good. Cursed, betrayed… but still grateful for the life he got with his family. As soon as I was done with his signature and the address, I looked up at him, words already leaving my lips.
"I will send this… as soon as possible." There was a brief pause in my promise, all because I saw the man's eyes were now closed as his face cracked completely and collapsed as the sun had finally reached him. This was the first time I saw a vampire dying so peacefully… so relieved and… and I felt angry. Not at this matter as it stood, but why it came to be and why this was all her fault. Vins was going to pay for ruining so many good lives… this man- he didn't deserve this.
I placed the paper and pen back in the satchel, walking up to what remained of the deceased vampire and retrieving the key he was talking about… and the photo of him with his family, the one Bhediya mentioned earlier. After what happened today, I decided it was only for the best if us all remained back in a single spot while the workers took care of the most. Retrieving resources, finding better maps and… getting all the important equipment stored within the building that Edgar mentioned before dying. There were some maps of the area, most of them with red and black lines to suggest where our next stops were going to be. There were exchanges of letters about the various officers where to strike us, either on their own or combining their strengths with other groups. Finally, we had some documents that had our names written down in them with some details about our appearances and even… a brief description of our current abilities.
While the workers were out to do their tasks, I took this chance to train some more with Kate and Bhediya before testing my Divine Hamon through mediation. It wasn't a long session due to how draining that zombie attack had been, but it was still something to add to my current understanding of the technique. Bloody joined these exercises too as soon as he was done resting after what happened in the city, training more with Bhediya since I couldn't take on the matter myself due to the meditation.
As soon as all resources needed were retrieved for the next trip and we were done training, our following destination was one I decided to take after checking which was the least guarded area of our enemy's patrol guards.
Next stop… Montgomery, Alabama.
What is inside that box?
Why do some vampires retain emotions now when the Stone Mask normally doesn't leave anything behind but dangerous monsters?
And how is Vins controlling Santana considering how strong of a bastard he really is?
Many questions, many maddening answers!
BTW, random question: Should I create a Wikia about 'Absolute Divinity'? I have the experience to do that, it's just that I don't know if anyone would use it...
Next up is… an Omake Crossover!
Omake 29: Dio's Multidimensional Adventure (Re Zero 1)
This happens roughly a few weeks before the last battle of the two Dios in Arc 1…
A forest. This looked to be different compared to the ones I was accustomed to see back at the manor.
I could just blink and look around as my brain grasped the intensely dreadful situation I was in. This wasn't… home. It was a hunch driven by a sense of familiarity- I've seen this before and… it wasn't something back in London. No, this was… far from there. I woke up within a cold bush. The forest had numerous trees that were known to grown in those areas where snow was known to fall frequently. The darker texture of their barks just cemented this notion, and soon I tried to understand where I was.
First I stood up. Then I dusted my good clothes from the small mud and snow that had latched onto the jacket and shirt. As I did so, I grimly noticed that I was already wearing normal day clothes when I clearly went to bed with my sleepwear. I felt a sense of irritation and… confusion. I would have gone through more silent studying over my current circumstance as there was no chance I was going to move before having a full grasp of where I was. My first plan was to climb one of the trees through ｢ACT 1｣ and see for myself if I could find any landmark I could recognize. Simple thing, nothing really risky…
And yet I had to pause from going through this as I felt it, a familiar hint of energy and battle. Hamon was being used, with my sense perceiving that a fellow user was nearby. A blink, my brain grasped at these clues and assumed the easiest and most logical solution. This was a dream, one based within time travel. Or as much as a dream could be due to how 'realistic' it just felt.
The idea stemmed from the fact that when I think of Hamon users and cold forests, my brain could only imagine Caesar's last stand against Wamu. It was sensibly possible, and I knew that the Jojoverse was bizarre enough to encourage Time Travel. One would just need to think about the Josuke's cancelled 'help past self' plotline or even the madness that was Jorge Joestar. I started to delve deep into the foliage to try and see where it was all coming from, and I was well sure that I didn't have to fear that much due to the lack of threats in the forest if my assumption was correct.
I was proven wrong when I perceived something malicious slithering right behind me. Fast, difficult to understand its form, and… mindless. Only an instinct seemed to flare out from that entity, the need to kill me. Sighing I rushed around and tried to avoid getting too close to it as I saw trees, bushes, even small flowers, perish and rot before my own eyes. This creature… it was killing everything it could touch. This realization resulted in a single possible strategy.
The Spin was the only way out of this matter. I had the first two steel balls rotating as soon as I was done jumping one to one of the upper branches of the nearest tree, aiming the dangerous technique right at the core of the monster before releasing both shots. Two quick explosions ensued, with the spinning balls tearing and dividing the being in two distinct bits. Its body squirmed at the damage, but I could see no blood pouring out of the beasts' deadly wound. It was like I wasn't exactly fighting a sole entity, but a hive of multiple monstrous worm-like beings born from the darkest pit of hell. The monster shrieked some more, clearly far from dead but… in the process of going back to the maker. I prepared one last Spinning ball, adding a little element to it to make it the perfect explosion.
The ball soared and zeroed the distance between it and its target. The resulting blast was fueled by fire itself, created through the familiarity of the process that was gasoline-induced hell. The infernal attack scorched the monstrous entity and pretty much that part of forest all around it. It croaked, it shrieked and then… stopped moving as the flames did a fine job in purging the monster from existence itself.
Truly a troublesome foe, but one that managed to delay me from reaching my current destination. Frustrating, but I couldn't have killed it any faster from the way it handled close encounters. With that in mind, I bolted back to the origin of the noises of battle. After about a minute or two, I was there, witnessing something terrible unfolding before my own eyes.
If before I had some minor doubts that my early assumption was correct, now I was completely certain that I had been mistaken about the situation. Here, before my own eyes, I could see Jonathan barely standing in a somewhat defensive manner while aiding an equally wounded and perhaps more damaged… Guese.
Re:Zero. I hadn't thought about this particular possibility… which meant that the monster I had killed just now was the Kurohebi itself. I felt dread and relief washing over me at the same time, realizing that my cautious approach prevented me from being killed by some sickness induced by the monstrous 'Black Serpent'. The slithering plague was the cause of many horrible sicknesses and I doubted Hamon would have worked against it.
Behind the two protectors, there stood little Emilia and her Aunt, Fortuna. The older elf looked slightly drained, perhaps her use of magic as a support to the two frontline fighters had dented over her capacity to use spells. Not a pleasant sight, especially when they were pitted against two individuals they couldn't win against. Well, one since the most dangerous of the duo was sitting this one out. I doubted Pandora, the Witch of Vainglory, would have tagged along even with the presence of Jojo. Jonathan was strong, but his current arsenal was fairly limited to Hamon as of yet. He could use the Spin in limited amount… but it wouldn't work well against someone like Regulus Corneas. The Archbishop of Greed's truest strength came in the front of a flexible defense that could be turned in a devastating offense. The capacity to alter the time of a specific object, even something as abstract as breath itself, to make it so that he can use it as a weapon against his enemies.
Troublesome, but not the worst circumstance possible due to my own prerogative over Time itself thanks to my Stand. Just as I thought of this, I saw the man lift up his left fist, within it, small particles that had been taken from the ground below. Gravel, I quickly deduced, and I felt panic intensify when I saw the man throw the fistful of that material towards Jonathan and Guese. Such an attack could technically be deflected by Guese's Unseen Hands, but Jojo didn't have anything on himself that could have gained the same effect.
So, I had to intervene as I, Dio, wasn't willing to allow this debauchery to continue any further.
Just as I saw the particle gain absurd momentum due to the jerk's authority, I manifested ｢ACT 1｣ and used its ability on our newest enemies. The particles continued to soar really fast towards the young Joestar for a while… before stopping in a state of true stillness and being set free from Regulus' ability.
Shock filled the Archbishop as the reality of what just happened sunk in his brain. Something had happened and… it had stopped his nigh-invincible ability. He was just enough stunned that he barely registered the rock I threw at him with my Stand, the modest-sized and shaped pebble blitzing in the air and easily striking him on his face. A yelp, blood, the impact on his forehead was loud enough to cause some noise, but not enough to outright killing him. The concussion would still help as it put that kind of mess out of commission.
The second development finally broke away the shock as people started to slowly turn towards the epicenter of these two absurd events. I didn't hesitate in walking out from the bushes, fixing a dirty part of my jacket while doing so.
"Apologies for the delay. I was rendered busy by some annoying worms," I commented flatly, my words aimed at the group, yet my gaze aimed at the one I should be more afraid about if she decided to engage in a direct confrontation. Pandora stared back, curiosity and wonder filling her sky-blue eyes. Like a child… with a terrifying amount of power.
I merely nodded, finally turning to gaze on Jonathan as I helped him with my own Hamon to kickstart his own reserves.
"How bad is the situation, Jojo?"
"I… I don't know how strong is the girl but-"
"But she seems frighteningly powerful from the way she is barely reacting to what just happened," I added with a sigh, turning back to Pandora as the child approached us. "I guess that's something to be concerned about."
"Dio. That's your name," She muttered calmly. "What are you?"
I blinked. "I thought you just said that. I am Dio, and you are an accessory of a few heinous crimes you committed by being allied with that fool."
"Crimes?" She wondered in surprise, intrigue filling her voice. "Which are?"
"Attacking innocents, altering reality itself and… hurting my younger brother, young lady."
My voice grew cold at that last point, something that Pandora reacted visibly at from the way she shuddered at my tone. I was glad that I had that effect, but I knew it barely mattered if she started warping reality to kill us all…
Except I knew she wasn't.
Not when the key to her current goal needed to have a fair portion of sanity within her, or else everything she did her would be for nothing as little Emilia couldn't open the door she sought. Despite my small confidence on the matter, I still felt a chilling sensation of danger the more she approached.
A deadly battle was going to begin soon...
Ah, Re:Zero would give ample amusement in the form of the most bizarre adventure for Dio. Especially if he face Echidna. Two greedy prick, with one having feelings that he can use and exploit whenever he wishes, while the other is envious of others' capacity to feel beyond negativity (Kotomine: Did someone call my name?)
Screaming Fish: Dio didn't butterflied things in that direction. Jonathan is with Erina, he might end up finding Lisa Lisa and then little Joseph can be born. Maybe.
The Hootsman: To answer that question as calmly as possible (yet I believe I had explained that in that specific Omake), Jack is a wrath that took the form of a child since it formed from the many aborted children of the Victorian Age's prostitutes in London. The reason she wears so little it's tied to the depraved nature of her 'parentage'. While in that series of Omake she is calm and subdued, she really started to murder a lot of prostitutes as a revenge for 'those with her'.