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Capitolo Secondo: Ambizione (26)
Bloody blinked, his gaze aimed at the fast-moving scenery out of the window he had been standing by for a while now.
It was raining, quite unusual considering it's been mostly sunny a few minutes ago. No clouds, no hints of bad weather- and yet it was raining now. Was this a sign he should have been worrying about? Part of him wanted to bring this up with Dio, but the older blond didn't seem particularly concerned by this unusual matter. Rather, he looked incredibly… focused on something else. He was speaking animatedly with Bhediya, the two having been 'experimenting' about the new Hamon form and debating the limits as it was clear that Dio was doing something 'wrong' about it as he was keen to admit. And in a way, Bloody could understand his point.
The 'Divine Hamon' was meant to be a superior form of the normal Hamon, and yet there was something 'stunting' its full potential. It felt too wrong to consider it a mere boost, as if something from within was obstructing Dio's chances of fully grasping that power. Bloody planned to work on it too, but both experts on the train were quick to express the issues to him as it was only for the best that he waited for him to be more 'experienced' on it. Which was reasonable, but it didn't curb the growing 'fire' of intrigue that poked him to do something about it. Boredom was truly an odd curse to face on a daily basis, but it wasn't as horrible as he really portrayed it. At least, not to the point of having to be worried about it too much.
A sigh left his lips, and as he was about to depart from his perch to get back to work, to handle some 'homework' that Dio left him to face regarding math and grammar, his moving sight stopped in shock as he saw something familiar move just outside the window. A figure, one that was quick but that didn't do much to hide away the familiar jacket he was wearing and the blond hair. Only something changed at his returning gaze as the scene was somewhat different. There was a small piece of paper now pressing on the side of the window, a few words written in a peculiar calligraphy that reminded Bloody of his grandfather.
Phoenix, it will be there that your ultimate test shall rise, inheritor. F.V.
A challenge? To him? For a time he believed this counterpart to his grandfather would have waged a battle against Dio. It fit with their different ideals, with their clashing thoughts, and yet even this match up made sense… to a point. In fact, Bloody wasn't sure this was even something he could manage a fight of this caliber. He considered telling this to Dio, but then he paused as he noticed that there was something else written on the paper, right behind it.
Only for you… or else there will be repercussions.
Gritting his teeth, Bloody could tell that this Funny Valentine was obsessed in 'disproving' Dio and his faith in him. He felt responsible, but at the same time he knew that this was plain absurd. He might have improved a lot, but he wasn't up to face something this… troublesome. He didn't have a Stand just yet, and Funny had something really powerful. Something so powerful that even Dio had more than once admitted he might have little to few chances of countering to the fullest. Especially since this Funny Valentine knew his Stand's weakness and wouldn't have let himself anyway close to any attack of that kind.
Still, how was he supposed to be 'alone' when most of the times when they were stopping he would end up in a group of people. It took Bloody a while to come up with an idea, but one that was quick to drag some confusion out of Dio as he decided to stick by Robert and Derek's side during their usual trip at the bar.
"I hope you're not planning to try any alcohol-"
"I already know it's bad. Mr. Speedwagon had me try a bit."
A little distraction, one born from a genuine situation where the now-sheepish scarred man had to defend himself over that 'innocuous' fact. It's been many days ago and it saw Robert just having the boy try it out to see how 'bad' it was for young people. It was bad, and it permanently struck any interest in the beverages of the kind altogether. It was just meant for a burning mouth and some discomfort in the long-term process. A bad experience, but it worked nice for his current alibi of just checking how bars were 'with trustworthy people'. As soon as the train stopped, Bloody spared a quick look around and pushed him mind to keep calm as he prepared to do something incredibly stupid but… hopefully not deadly stupid.
They split as usual, with the boy trailing behind the two chatting men. Soon they entered the bar, Robert sparing a couple of looks around to see if it was a 'good one'. It was mostly empty, providing little chance of any issues unfolding in it, thus proving to be a 'good one' in his eyes. They all sat down with Bloody sticking with his promise and ordering just some water while the two adults picked different drinks. Patience was key for his success, so he waited for them to be done with two glasses, to show that they were drunk enough to not mind him leaving for the bathroom and then… he left. It worked, he noticed, but now it was time to face something much worse than that. As he walked out of the bar, he felt a looming dread appear from the… side. He was there… lingering by the very flag that just moments earlier had been devoid of that kind of dread.
"You know, lying isn't something you do to those you cherish as your friends," He muttered, drawing a scowl out of the boy.
"You forced me to be alone."
"I did. I was just raising a curious element that I can tell annoys you," The man pointed out. It felt like dealing with Grandfather again, except this Funny Valentine was successful, prouder, and… more dangerous.
"Then, by that idea, I should assume you are either intrigued by this or worried about it."
A blink, a regal frown adorned his face. "Beg your pardon, young Valentine?"
"It's nit-picking, so you're either trying to dig as much information as you can about me or… you are frightened by what can happen. I can tell is the former but-"
"It's the former, cease with the silliness at once and focus on the task at hand."
Task? What task?
Just as he said that, Bloody's instincts flared as he barely moved in time to block a kick from his Stand, the bunny-eared humanoid that appeared just from his front. The attack was still strong, leaving a slight bruise on his left arm. The resulting force pushed him away from the tall Valentine, and gave him the chance to muster his guard up for the battle before him.
"You saw ｢D4C｣, I guess there is still hope for you."
"I don't know what you're planning to accomplish with this, but I will not go down with ease."
A pleased smile appeared on his face. "I'm glad to hear this but… this task, it relies on your potential first and foremost."
He took a few steps away from the porch of the bar, effectively standing in the middle of the road and right in front of Bloody. As he said that, a transparent barrier of light appeared in front of him.
"Your test shall be to breach my ultimate defense, the Wall of Light, a part of my evolved Stand ｢D4C: Love Train｣. Beat that, and you will be spared from a massacre."
"That's… I can't use the Gold Spin."
"You may not be able to do that just yet, but surely you wouldn't rely on some cheap trick from British fools- You're a Valentine. Think of a solution yourself with your head rather than relying on others."
It wasn't exactly what he could have tried to do. Not when he didn't have that kind of skill. Still, how was he supposed to break that? Deciding to give it a try, he went for something simple, starting with small stones underneath his shoes. The Hamon-powered pebbles slammed onto the Wall of Light, but instead of clashing and being pushed back… those disappeared. Bloody frowned at the confusing nature of the barrier, but his attention was soon taken away at the sudden scream coming from the side. A passing woman had crouched by the ground as part of a nearby roof had collapsed and struck her child on the head. The little boy coughed blood as shards had stabbed into his skin. Despite the battle, despite the chances of his opponent, Bloody bolted from his position towards the origin of the distress. It was… an immediate response, his instincts demanding him to be careful with these civilians as it was possible the pebbles were deflected and had struck that part of the building.
The woman was slightly distracted, but almost moved to stop the approaching teen from acting… but gave a quick look into his eyes, and saw genuine helpfulness and willingness to provide assistance. Her posture eased, and she allowed the blond to act in good faith as he carefully used his Hamon on the half-conscious child. He numbed some of the pain, giving himself the chance to pull out of the shards before fixing the damage altogether. The boy blinked tiredly and yet less in pain and more stable. His mother sobbed, pulling her son close and thanking the 'good samaritan' for the selfless action. Bloody stood up, his gaze back to Funny as the man stared at the scene with a blank expression. No words were exchanged as the younger Valentine moved back to his previous position and thought of a new counter to the wall.
He tried to use the Spin, but not through a direct assault as he knew that wouldn't have worked. Dio had been quite clear that this kind of barrier, if he ended up facing it, wouldn't be pierced by anything less than the Gold Spin, so the idea here was to… strike from behind. Which is why Bloody made it seem like he misfired the shot, the projectile soaring well above his head and seemingly got ignored while Bloody carefully made it seem like he had really made a mistake by preparing another one. Before he could shoot the next Spinning ball, the previous one finally managed to commit a slow arch to shift its trajectory towards Funny's back. Just as it got close enough to its target, the barrier expanded and covered for the rear attack.
Once again, something odd happened as a wood plank from one of the nearby walls suddenly cracked and slammed outwardly, cutting onto a man walking right in that moment. Bloody interrupted the fight again, rushing to aid the man while pondering on the absurd development. This time he could tell that it wasn't a case of his attack being deflected and causing this damage. Something else happened… something that was connected to that barrier.
"What's the second part of ｢D4C: Love Train｣?
"Oh, you noticed?" The 'President' inquired, mildly impressed by that discovery. "Well, I guess I can tell you. The main effect of the barrier is called 'Misfortune Redirect'. Any attack striking my barrier will be nullified. Instead, a 'misfortune' will happen within the area to 'replace' the nullified attack's effects on reality."
"T-That means that any effort could end up hurting more people- Our people. Why would you want this?"
"Sometimes, a man has to take steps that are not morally good, but all of this is… for the nation. For its rise to prestige and power."
"There is nothing noble in killing your own citizens for the sake of prestige," Bloody rebuked, growing angrier by the second. "Ambitions- This ambition is meant to be one of honest help for those that can't stand up on their own."
"Pitiful and boring. Of course the people would emerge stronger from this, but nothing is that cheap. We all have to pay a price."
"Then I refuse to be someone like you!"
More and more, Bloody tried to breach that barrier, and yet all that he got was more people getting wound because of it. He rushed to help them, to heal them, to save them from death, and Funny got more and more impatient with each instance. Eventually, as Bloody got back from his umpteenth rescue, he was attacked by a 'tired' Funny. The man slammed a sidekick on Bloody's stomach, lifting from the ground as he used this chance to punch his face back to the floor.
Before the boy could have done anything to dodge the next attacks, he was once again pulled up by a semi-visible force as he got sight on ｢D4C｣, Funny's Stand joining the 'fun' as it provided its user with the chance to inflict more damage to his young foe. One last kick was dropped on his sternum and sent Bloody away, rolling on the ground due to the unpleasant knockback. Blood poured out of his lips as he could tell the damage inflicted to him was nothing to be that fine about. But… he couldn't give up. Not yet. He tried to stand up, but his legs felt too wobbly, too unfocused.
"You don't have it within yourself, young Valentine," Funny hummed, his tone mixing disappointment and eagerness all at once. "You might be growing fast, but here you're failing to stand at the best."
Bloody stared at the ground, feeling the humiliation as his body was failing him. It wasn't the injuries, no, he was already healing from those. It was the growing sense of defeat that demanded his acceptance of inferiority. He felt obscenely shaken by the words, by that truth- his strength faltering, his heart pounding loudly as he couldn't catch any rest. He felt close to truly be beaten, for his ideals to matter little to nothing and-
"Hey you, stand up!" Loud, a yell from the side, and Bloody turned to look who had interrupted his thoughts.
Men, many of them, and women. And children. It was a large crowd that stood by his left, the right, behind and even beyond Funny. So many people, all citizens that had stopped working and were staring at the scene with shock and determination. He was stunned, when did this crowd formed and why were they looking at him like that?
"Don't give up!" One of the children, a girl, yelled, her mother nodding and mouthing something similar- no, they all started to barrage him with encouraging words. Some he recognized, people he had helped from the Misfortune Redirect of Funny's Stand. They were standing all at once, all for him, all against his foe. All because they believed in him even when he was the closest to defeat. His ambitions… how could he have forgotten.
A glance in the past, and Bloody remembered a discussion with Dio. It was when he was learning of an aspect of America he had forgotten. Something that was mistaken at times, but had a value within the life of the people that lived in this continent. Dio was keen to remind him that when the nation wanted independence, it was facing odds beyond the limits it could deal with. It should have lost… and yet it didn't. It stood, and it clawed its way into victory… for the sake of its people. George Washington proclaimed a country born on truth and happiness.
One that sadly failed to create due to inequality and divisions. But here, in this unusual circumstance, these people were standing all at once, disregarding their skin color, disregarding their classes, disregarding their gender- the world around him rallied behind his good will… and it felt so beautiful. He felt tears, joy pouring out of him as he stood up, his gaze steeling as he brought his sleeve up to cleanse the brief outburst of happiness as he knew this- this was what he was fighting for. His body? The wounds could be healed later, as right now he risked wounding the pride of the people he stood with. And that wouldn't do.
"You know you're going to lose, and yet you stand against me. A few encouraging words are hardly enough to make up a gap of skills. You're not ready to live beyond today, Bloody Valentine."
"Shut… up." Bloody shot back. "You- You think this is nothing? That they are nothing?"
There will come a time where you will be put against great odds. Keep your chin up and show yourself ready to-
"Manifest destiny," He concluded, and Funny Valentine sported a surprised look as Bloody suddenly bolted towards him.
"A direct attack? Do you think you can survive this barrier? A foolish attempt, but let's see where your foolishness will lead you!"
Bloody didn't care as he could feel it now, running right beside him, manifesting before his eyes and giving him the comfort that this plan was going to work. That he was going to win, that he was going to give these people what it was due to them for this inconvenience and pain. He didn't falter, his rush didn't end at the barrier much to the horror of the older blond. Funny manifested ｢D4C｣, trying to shove the youth away but, even more surprising, his punch was redirected by a similar-looking humanoid that proceeded to quickly land two rapid punches on Funny's face. The counterattack stunned Valentine for a moment, just enough for him to drop his Love Train ability.
"Y-You… you manifested your Stand?"
"I had… I had been feeling it within me for a while now. I guess Dio was right… I just needed another push to bring it out," Bloody said with a smile. "And now, I think it's time to end this once and for all."
The humanoid finally formed before Funny's eyes, his gaze mesmerized in pure shock at what he was looking at. In a brief moment, he felt bathed by that very light he had seen so many years ago… owned by a mortal. Part of his family- it was all connected. Just like Jesus back then, Bloody's Stand emanated divine light. The humanoid had Bloody's frame, with its pristine white form armored by a full-gold set of armor: a gated mask, a pair of wing-like shoulder pauldrons, reinforced boots and gauntlets. Plastered on its chest, a golden star that echoed a state of purity and devotion for the country the boy served.
"I introduce you to my Stand, ｢Heaven's Stairway｣, it will end you now."
Funny snorted. "One lucky shot will not-"
The barrier failed to contain Bloody again, in fact, the young man used this chance to retaliate from the previous beating. The crowd cheered, the tide was turning for the best and Valentine… scoffed as he tried to retrieve his ground. Bloody pushed forth, but the surprise advantage faltered as the 'President' abandoned his efforts to use Love Train against him. Instead, he tried to leverage his superior strength into that clash, and soon it became evident they weren't completely even.
｢Heaven's Stairway｣ was faster, but weaker compared to ｢D4C｣. Something that pushed Bloody to be more careful in the dodging and less into the hitting. Overall, the struggle didn't yield any positive changes for Funny as the older blond found himself more bruised than before and dealing abysmal damage to his opponent. Soon the battle ended as the man managed to push his younger foe away and provide himself some time to recover.
"I see that you didn't waste time growing in power. Still, you seek the best out of them, for the American people, don't you?"
"Yes," Bloody replied, feeling a bit weaker. Adrenaline was wearing off and his stamina had taken the brunt of that intense clash. "Always."
"...I believe this is enough. I'm satisfied with what I see in you. Different but… worthy of letting grow."
Funny hummed, turning around and walking up to a nearby flag, stopping by it as he gave his foe a quick look.
"Of course, I'm but just the first test out of many. The rest will be dealt to you by your life."
Before Bloody could have given chase, the older blond vanished through the flag and… the crowd exploded with their cheering, almost deafening him with the pure shower of praises he was getting. It was surprising and it worked to defuse the inner disappointment of having failed to outright kill the dangerous enemy there and now. Still, his moment of glory wasn't lasting as he noticed that Someone there wasn't cheering, but staring at him with a tense look.
Dio was there with the rest of the group, most of them looking rightfully irritated by the situation, while Bhediya was chiding two very embarrassed and slightly drunk Robert and Derek about this development. Nothing was said until they were back on the train. Dio decided to be the one to handle this out, picking Bloody and bringing him in one of the unused wagons to speak. There was no anger, nothing that suggested possible violence, and yet the boy felt mortified at the matter as he knew what went wrong with that 'victory'.
"You decided to head on a fight that even I would have had trouble to face, do you understand this?"
"Funny forced me-"
"I read the letter, but I have to know why didn't you think of at least telling any of us. He wasn't spying on us as I would have felt it if he was really there."
"I'm..." He closed his eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry. I just didn't want to… put any issues on everyone's mind but-"
"But you wanted to do the right thing," Dio concluded, his look softening. "And I get it. I tend to do the same sometimes but… If there is something that I would want you to do, Bloody. Is being better than me about this. To have a better judgment than me."
Another nod and… Dio slowly approached to give him a hug. Bloody tensed up briefly, but allowed the embrace as Hamon started to heal his wound. Dio's Hamon.
"I also saw you get your Stand. What's its name?"
"Hmm. I suppose it's quite strong and… How did you use it to bypass the Barrier of Light?"
Bloody hummed quietly. "The… ｢Heaven's Stairway｣'s main ability is to put itself and me in a 'sub-dimension' and allow me to travel through attacks and specific obstacles."
"if that was the case, then you would have slipped into the floor," He argued with a solid note of concern. "I suppose there are specific details to it."
A nod. "I can decide… what kind of sub-dimension and determine some factors that don't have any importance within it. In this case, Funny and Love Train. O-Of course, I still had to return back to it to attack him or I would just phase through him."
"I see. Still, I can tell it drained you."
A nod, but Bloody was too tired to pay attention for more. The boy yawned, and didn't mind that Dio pulled him up in his arms and carried him back to where their beds were. He clung on him tightly, but not too tightly as he just wanted to rest.
"Get some rest, but beware that we will have a proper conversation once you're better, okay?"
Dio chuckled softly, carefully laying the boy on his bed and putting the sheets over him before leaving.
Bloody could only sigh in relief as… this wasn't the worst and… now he had a Stand to train.
"Why did you do that?"
Funny stared dully at the woman that brought him here, scoffing at her angry look.
"I do what I want. I don't recall submitting my will to you."
"I brought you here for a reason. I thought you wanted to kill the Joestar-"
"Not the family. Johnny Joestar," Funny interrupted, glaring in frustration at the robed woman. Vins growled, her red eyes glowing through the shadow offered by her hood. "Dio Joestar, as far as I know, is no threat to me and my nation."
"A misguided fool for believing I would just accept your orders because you have some hatred for a man that isn't him. You're pathetic," Valentine muttered before walking through a flag he had put within the room and... leaving the dimension altogether.
There was silence, then Vins screeched. "That utter incompetent! How could he just leave- the Joestar and Dio- it would have been so easy but he had to make things so difficult."
And as the woman lashed out at the betrayal, crashing some of the furniture around her, Santana stared at the sight with abject interest. There wasn't much to do as he waited for the 'time' to show them the true horror that Vins was about to bestow them. Or that's what she told him was going to be. But even as he felt intrigued at beating the sun and seeing what it meant to become 'Ultimate' as his first master had told him about, he also knew that his opponents weren't individual to scoff at. It was going to be legendary… and perhaps a turn of his life.
Vins was interesting, but still a bland one-minded vampire. She would die as she lived, through sheer incompetence.
And who knows, maybe it was time for this mutt to find a new master once this story was over.
Bloody gets his Stand!
User: Bloody Valentine
Destructive Power: B
Range: C (Six Meters)
Ability: Sub-Dimensions Manipulation (Enters in Sub-Dimension and becomes invulnerable to specific objects/individuals).
And now an Omake!
Omake 41: Absolute Hero (Among Stars)
Part of the idea from: Darkifiedluis
A situation like this one was definitely unusual, but it held a brand different kind of bizarre that I was slowly coming to hate.
Here I was, sharing a cup of coffee with someone that I didn't expect to face… ever. Mostly because I generally didn't expect to face myself in 'my original' form. He was older, happier, and less-stressed than I was. But to him, I was an opportunity to pester me with some stupid request. It didn't help that his little daughter was pressing me to do the same.
"I'm not doing it."
"Aw, are you going to get Nora to cry with that attitude," John Bukharin pointed out with a faux annoyed look, augmented by the faux crying look on the little orangette's face.
I could tell they were both acting, but the last thing I needed was to give the 'dear wife' of his a reason to attack me. I don't know why, but she seemed to have a distrusting approach towards me… which was ironic since she was married to an alternate version of myself.
Considering the circumstance? I was stuck in this dimension for a while, hopefully getting back with some help via Pucci. It just happened that I was training and then a portal opened, landing me in Menagerie, Remnant or RWBY's world… right in this precise in this very dimension. Second, I was in the situation of getting mauled by a tiger-eared woman with maternal instinct. I just didn't have a chance to score a moral win out of this. A normal win? Sure- but I wanted to win by principle.
And I really hate myself. Literally.
"Ugh… Kono Dio da."
"Bah!" Nora lamented. "It would have been ten times better if you put more emphasis on it, Uncle Dio."
"Well, I am not a snot-nosed snob with a penchant for world domination, young lady."
"But! You are an amazing and cool guy, uncle Dio."
"That's not going to bait me to do it properly, child," I remarked, turning to John. "Seriously, of all possible questions and requests you could have asked me, you decided to go for that overrated meme. We could have done much more, but you wanted this first and foremost."
"I hate to admit it, but I was expecting that," I said while gritting my teeth. "And I hate it with a passion."
"Look, there is nothing wrong in being quite interested in seeing how things are and keep it light-hearted. Plus, Sienna asked for now fights at home, or she would skin my hide-"
"And mine," Nora said while giggling.
"I can literally stop time, I can revert an object's trajectory AND kick your ass all at the same time."
"Yeah, but still… Tactical Can Rush!"
I sighed as I saw two cans of Pepsi soaring towards me. I used ｢ACT 3｣ to stop one before it could it me, while the other was sent soaring back to my counterpart. He definitely didn't see that one coming, but his eye sure got a close up of that last can. I grasped and put the one I took in my pocket before glancing at the girl still seeing the situation with a calm look.
"Aren't you angry your daddy was hit?"
"He deserved it. Daddy said that all actions get a reaction. And his silly action got a reaction."
"...I suppose that's some strong common sense you have," I hummed quietly, sipping more coffee, but pausing as I noticed that none of that warm coffee was entering my mouth.
Looking at the cup, I noticed it was empty and… yep, I really hated this place. Just as I grimly mused over the chances of this nightmare lasting way more than a few hours, I turned my gaze as soon as I heard a bizarre noise and saw a strange light coming from the side.
Oh look, a convenient portal.
"That could be unstable. And not aimed at your home dimension."
I snorted at John's remark, the guy still groaning in pain as I shrugged at him.
"I'll take my chances. Just go back and handle your family yourself."
I was a bit miffed, ready to go back on the train and be done with this adventure. I stood up and walked through the portal, my expression further turning into a deadpan as I found myself not in a train moving towards Los Angeles, but in a completely different scenario, in space from the looks of it as I saw through the massive window on the side that the 'spaceship' I was now within hovered around Earth's orbit. Also, there were a couple of individuals I didn't know beyond the fact that they seemed to have an appearance akin to Kate, except they were respectively closer to a Coyote, a Gazelle, a Fox, a Hamster or a Bear, a Dolphin and… then a human.
"What?" The last guy inquired in shock, while I facepalmed hard as I could tell this was another dimension. I just didn't know which one. Still, from the fearful expression on his face, I could tell I was actually known to him.
So, I guess it would be best to smooth things out before it gets out of control...
"It's a long story. And it wasn't planned," I replied, trying to keep everything cool. "By the way, does this place have some nice coffee?"
After a bit of shock at that question, I saw the little pink-haired dolphin girl bring up a small keg with some sweet-smelling coffee.
"Would you like sugar, milk or anything to add to it?" The little thing squeaked happily and I soon found myself sipping from a newly refilled cup while headpatting the adorable entity.
It was a bit of a surprise to learn what was going on, but I would end up making it back home after helping around some space war that was happening for the sake of Earth and a now-destroyed planet and their united people. Also, I might have a bit more insight on Kate's past. Just a bit more, but nothing of importance on the spot.
So, this is actually a crossover with two stories of mine, one was 'the Reluctant Hero', the other is 'Among Stars'.