Chapter 1: Salvation
Chapter 1 - Salvation
Santa Maria Hospital, Florence, Italy, 19 December 1990
It was supposed to be a short series of apprenticeships, to observe and help in hospitals and orphanages while writing my seminary thesis. But I never imagine it will turn out like this...
"Son? Are you awake?" said Sister Eda to a young boy, who lies weakly on top of the hospital bed. "Don't worry, you are safe now..."
Said young boy's hand went toward his temple, grazing on the bandage, and winced.
"You could understand us, right?" said sister Eda while softly tussling the boy's soft, unkempt golden hair. He looks up toward us for a moment, and we could see his turquoise eyes. Thank God, his pupils seem normal, and they did follow sister Eda's hands, so we could rule out any sort of serious brain injuries from that accident.
"Y... Yes..." said the shivering boy in a soft, almost unheard whisper. Of course, considering that he just barely escape from a car accident that could easily claim his life, it was an understandable situation.
"I am sister Eda, and this is brother Pucci, you are at Santa Maria Hospital, Florence..." said sister Eda to the boy, who could only look at us in confusion. "What is your name, son?"
Said boy did not answer immediately, keeping his silence as he looks down for a minute before any words coming out.
"Haru... No... Giorno Giovanna..." said the boy with a broken accent, and we immediately understood that Italian is not his first language.
"Don't worry about us, son, you are safe now..." said sister Eda while once again, softly caressing the boy's golden hair while looking at the photo of the supposed boy who lies inside the folder. "Brother Pucci, could you accompany the boy while I look at the records?"
"Of course, sister," I said while raising my eyebrows. In my curiosity, I gently take hold of the boy's golden locks and look toward the root...
Those are real blonde hair... Not something you could get from hair dyes. Which is intriguing since Giorno Giovanna, the very boy sitting in front of me was supposed to be black haired in the photo.
The boy's gaze slowly rises toward mine, and for a while, his turquoise eyes did seem so... Familiar... As if those are HIS eyes...
"What happened..." whispered the boy, and for a moment, I am at loss of what should I say to him. Telling five years old that his parents are dead is never an easy thing at the first place.
"Do you remember what happened before you wake up here?" I tried to gauge his reaction. If he remembers about the accident, it would still be a heart-wrenching task, but at least he might have a good grasp on where things will be going. Of course, we are here to comfort him, but this does not make our task easier.
"Mama... She drinks too much... Papa Lorenzo told her to just shut up, but she tries to take the steering wheel," said the boy with a quivering voice. "Where... Where is Mama?"
"Don't worry about them, my son... Our Lord in Heaven will take good care for them," I said while noticing that the golden apparition at his side just becomes more and more pronounced.
Could it be...? A stand?
"Wha... What is..." said the young boy, apparently also confused by the apparition at his side, that now turned to be a gold-colored lean humanoid with a round golden helmet on top of his head, glowing pink-purple eyes, as well as several purple brooches in the form of ladybugs.
Wanting to test my theory that this boy is indeed a stand user, I summoned Whitesnake at my side, expecting a scream over his executioner-like appearance, yet at the same time, all I got from him is a merely confused look, even if Whitesnake now standing in front of him.
"Is this yours, and this mine?" said the little boy, who points out toward Whitesnake and his own gold colored stand. It seems that he is indeed smart enough to realize that his stand is the projection of his very soul.
"Yes my son, those are called stands... God only blessed a few people to have them."
"God? Are you a priest? What should I call you? Father?"
"Well, it is complicated, but yes... You should not call me father yet, for I am not ordained yet. You could call me brother Pucci."
"Could the sister from before sees them too?"
"I think she can't, not everyone could see stands, my son. Only another stand users could see a stand, and maybe it is for the best if you never mention them to others unless they could see them at the first place."
"Mama is dead, isn't she? Last time I see her, she was crushed under the truck..." said the boy with a surprisingly less sad voice that I expect coming from a boy his age.
I could only place my hand at his shoulder and told him what I know...
"God will take care of them, my son..."
After convincing the little boy to sleep, I end up sitting at the table with not only sister Eda, but also my current superior, father Julius, some social service workers, and a pair of policemen.
"Giorno Giovanna, born as Haruno Shiobana in Japan, 16 April 1985. Son of Mrs. Haruhi Giovanna nee Shiobana, biological father is unknown, but he was legally taken as a stepson by Mr. Lorenzo Giovanna," said a social service worker, reading from the document present on the table. "What is interesting is how his hair color suddenly changed after the accident that claims the lives of his parents."
I remember the golden stand shown at his side before he went to sleep, and as far as I know, I am the only stand user present here, so it would be safe to assume nobody else knows about the boy being a newly awakened stand user.
"Cursory examination of his parents' belongings leave nothing unusual, but something in his mother's purse intrigues us the most," said a policeman while showing us a photo of a blonde, shirtless, muscular man with scars around his neck and five-pointed star-shaped birthmark at the back of his left shoulder.
I did not need the word DIO written on top of the said photo to recognize... HIM.
Could he be... HIS SON?
"We found some quite interesting things upon the poor child," said sister Eda as she reports our findings after we bathe the little boy. "His body is full of scars, likely from belts, and he actively avoids eye contact, those are often signs that he was abused at his home."
I sighed while trying to rein my emotions, sure, those people who abused HIS SON were already dead, but it sure pained me in my heart to hear about it... I also see his five-pointed star-shaped birthmark, and naturally, understand its significance.
"Indeed, we have found pieces of evidence that Mrs. Haruhi Shiobana used to work as... An escort... And she ends up as Mr. Lorenzo Giovanna's trophy wife," said the other social service worker. "Not the best family if you asked me..."
"Yet everyone has an equal chance to receive God's love, we shall not judge them for what are we before God?" said father Julius, putting his hand together in front of his chest and touched the rosary. "What matters most now is not only to heal little Giorno but also ensure he has a good home.
"The Giovanna family refuses to take custody of the child," said father Julius when we are back at the church office. "They are not his blood relatives, so it was understandable. But the problem is, we also contacted his mother's family in Japan, and they refuse to take responsibility for little Giorno's custody as well."
"... 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71..."
"Brother Pucci?" said sister Eda, which reminds me that this matter is not just about HIM and HIS legacy, but also the Italian social services and all that entails.
"Forgive me..." I said while looking to my superior, who only raised his eyebrows at how I suddenly count the indivisible numbers. "But then, who will take care of little Giorno?"
"We will put him temporarily in an orphanage, looking if anyone wants to adopt and raise him, but failing that, it falls on the Church to raise him."
I asked myself, what is God's will that I end up meeting HIS SON today? Is this Gravity? Is this Fate? What will HE do in my place?
Could I risk HIS SON to be raised by strangers, when Fate put us together here, today? But what about the plan to attain Heaven and taking revenge on the Joestars?
HIS SON already manifested his stand at such a young age, probably due to the shock of the accident, but with the Speedwagon Foundation trying to investigate worldwide stand users...
Yes, I could simply take his stand disc away, but he is HIS SON, and is that within my rights to take away his heritage?
"Father Julius... I am sorry to say this... But I think I've found my true calling today..."
Santo Joseph Orphanage, Naples, Italy, 23 December 1990
Today, the hospital released little Giorno from their care, and after finishing the paperwork required, we finally arrive at what is hopefully our home for some years to come.
It wasn't hard to convince Father Julius to place me at the same orphanage where Giorno would be placed. It was an old orphanage, located roughly at the outskirt of Naples. Perhaps it was fate, but the orphanage manager, Father Alexander, happened to be an old priest who is currently looking for a successor. I could see that he is genuinely happy when I come and said my intention to learn everything I could from him, and hopefully, being a guide to the poor children I swear to raise and care in my life.
Yes, the name is rather unfortunate I know, but it wasn't Santo Joseph's fault to have name identical with the old fart who somehow survived the fight against DIO.
Of course, my real aim is to raise Giorno according to the road to Heaven, so he could finally fulfill his purpose in life, to succeed his FATHER and bring salvation to mankind. But for now, all I need is to lay down and train him, so he could properly use his stand.
"Brother Pucci, what is your stand is called?" questioned Giorno as we tidy up his bed and locker. Sure, he will sleep here together with several other children, but for now, the room is empty as the children attended their compulsory Sunday School, so I deem this time as safe for us to speak about our stands.
"Mine is called Whitesnake..."
"Isn't the snake synonym of the serpent? A symbol of the Devil?"
"Have you heard the story of Moses, the prophet of God who led the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt?"
"Moses and Aaron once cast their rods in front of the Pharaoh and those turned to snakes. Moses also once created a bronze snake to deliver the Israelites from the plague of fiery serpents, when God sent venomous snakes to hunt the unbelievers. Anyone who repents and saw the bronze snake would be healed from the venomous bites. While the snake symbolism is often used for the devil, it also meant as a symbol of renewal and how everything depends on God's mysteries, who determined our Fate."
"Oh... So that's how you named him... But brother Pucci, what should I call my stand?"
"Well... Your name is Giorno Giovanna, that means a day when God has shown his favor... Your hair turned golden when HE saves you, and your stand has a beautiful gold coloration..." I said while remembering HIS stand, THE WORLD, who has almost identical coloration outside of the pink-purple spots. "You experienced a change, and it shall make you closer to Heaven, my son..."
"Gold... Experience... I personally think that your stand shall be called as Gold Experience."
"Yay! Thank you, brother Pucci!" said little Giorno while hugging my waist, and I could only smile while slowly tussling his mop of golden hair.
This is Gravity. This is Fate.
The Salvation has come.
Chapter 2 - The Ministry
Santo Joseph Orphanage, Naples, Italy, 23 January 1995
"Good morning Brother Pucci," said the children as I entered the chapel, having the duty to led daily Morning Prayer today. I smiled to them and noticed HIS SON already seated there as well.
"Good morning, children," I said softly while passing little Giorno's seat, he waved at me silently and I tussled his golden locks in return before resuming my walk to the pulpit.
As usual, at the foremost seat, Father Alexander already present there, helped by sister Eda to accompany him due to his advanced age. Before I passed him, I bow and kissed his hand as a gesture of respect.
"Good morning Father, Good morning Sister Eda."
"Ah, always been a blessing to see you in high spirit, as usual, Brother Pucci," said Father Alexander with a smile, before pointing his hand toward the pulpit, signing that I could start the morning prayer.
After we finished the Morning Prayer, I accompanied Father Alexander to walk into our office, while Sister Eda continued her way to herd the children into the dining hall.
Already seventy-four years old, Father Alexander practically dedicated his life to the care of children, with more than fifty years of experience. Being the director of this orphanage directly under Archdiocese of Naples, he is one of the well-respected senior priests here. He did freely admit that he was happy for me to join the staffs of this orphanage because he could delegate some of the administrative paperwork to me and focus more on educative and spiritual aspects. Of course, he hopes that I would stay here more or less permanently, so he could finally pass on, knowing that this orphanage, which has history stretching to hundreds of years past, is under a good management to ensure the children's needs could be fulfilled, being cared with love and kindness according to the teaching of God and His Church.
Father Lewis Alexander has seen better days in his past. He is a small old man with a hunched stature and wrinkled hands. His once full head of brown hair (that I knew from the old photos) now being a thin white crown around his head due to natural balding process, that could easily be mistaken for a tonsure (something which he doesn't really mind). He is still active most of the time despite having arthritis that forced him to use a walking cane to move around, but then, there is no shortage of younger people who are more than willing for him to lean on.
"Good morning Albert," said Father Alexander to our blind janitor, Johngalli Albert, causing the later to momentarily stop scrubbing the floor to point his face toward our general direction and nod in acknowledgment.
"Morning Father, morning Brother," said Johngalli in a polite, reserved tone.
"You have been our blessing here, helping with our works despite your disability, Albert," said Father Alexander as he put his wrinkled hand upon Johngalli's arm. "Jesus sees your devotion from the heavens, my son, and may the Holy Spirit bless the work of your hands."
"It was my pleasure to found myself still useful, Father. To a blind man like me, finding a purpose in life is like finding a little piece of Heaven..."
"We're glad that you found solace in your contributions to God and his Church..." said Father Alexander before we pass to our next staff, who currently heated the minibus used for transportation of this orphanage.
"Good morning Father, good morning Brother," said Paolo Mista, our driver who took care of the vehicles.
"Good morning Mista," said Father Alexander while looking toward the middle-aged, short-haired, and hairy-all-around man, with his trademark beard and mustache. "How is your family today?"
"Good, my boy Guido started the second trimester of his middle school today, he is still excited about the prospect of soon-to-be a grown man," said Mista, happily chirping about his son, the pride of his life despite their relative poverty. Of course, unlike Johngalli, who worked here over a higher calling, Mista worked here simply because he was previously an unemployed member of our Parish.
"He still read the Daily Devotionals we gave for his last birthday, right?" said Father Alexander with a smile.
"Of course Father, we are grateful for the Church's help to our family, I'm sure Guido will grow into a more devout Catholic compared to us, his parents..."
"God bless you and your family, Mista," said Father Alexander before we moved on to get into our office, and along the way, we meet our cook, Nero, pushing the serving cart full of children's breakfast menu.
"Good morning Father, good morning Brother," said Ravioli Nero as she walked past us. She is a young woman, just two years above my own age, and started working here not long before I joined this orphanage. She has a very distinctive appearance, her eyes have red colored iris over black sclera, giving her some sort of otherworldly appearance combined with platinum blonde hair.
"Good morning Nero, we hope that your cooking today is just as delicious as usual," said Father Alexander before looking toward the children's dining hall. "You could drop our breakfast later, after all the children have theirs, as usual."
"Of course, Father," said Nero with a polite bow as she continues her way toward the dining hall. She has always been a good woman, but she did confess something disturbing about her little brother, who apparently never contact their family even once since his disappearance two years ago, just after how the man who killed their cousin was found brutally murdered. Nero fears that his brother Risotto might've joined the mafia, who rumors said about this town being under their grip all along.
Known only in whispers as Passione, and formally said to never exist at the first place, they are said to indirectly control both the Police Force and most other mafia groups in all Italy. It did say something when one of the first advice I receive from Father Alexander was never trying to mess with the mafia here. This city did have an unusually high number of crimes, and thugs who run drug trades roaming free on the streets without fear of police repercussions. Father Alexander did say that all we could do is to pray to God and trying our best to be spiritual guidance to the children so they won't end up being victims of the drug trades. But to directly confront the thugs who sold the drugs to children is one of suicide because apparently, the mafia here has a reputation of invincibility.
Not that was my problem at the first place, when I think deeper about it, my aim here is to simply raise Giorno in accordance to the road to Heaven, mold him into a worthy successor of HIS FATHER, and bring salvation to Mankind through the way discovered by LORD DIO. Of course, we will eventually cross our ways with the damned Joestars and their ilk, especially the accursed Jotaro Kujo for what he has done. But for now, Giorno is still far too young, and I can't risk losing my focus, so I heed Father Alexander's advice well and never tried to look at this city's mafia problem.
Of course, waiting until Giorno become a proper adult means waiting until he finished his education and at the meantime, arranging for another priest to become my own successor, and then I could move in the guise of joining a Mendicant Order if only to be able to assist Giorno further to fulfill HIS plan. Perhaps planning our moves in advance depending on what information we get, with a goal to gain the memory of Jotaro Kujo and worked our way from there. But that was still in the far future, and I believe Gravity will eventually bring us here.
For this moment, I should use my current work here to lay the foundation that will eventually lead us to build a Stairway to Heaven. I have formulated a basic plan, and that involves being a well-respected priest with an excellent, unblemished track record to turn myself beyond suspicion. If things go as planned, I will be ordained in two or three years, and things would move on naturally by Giorno's own Gravity once the foundation has been set.
As long as the Passione mafia never harmed us directly, I intend to just ignore them. Sure, I disagree with their drug trade and found them as amoral, but I need to focus my plan, Giorno and the salvation of mankind must come first.
"Ah... This coffee could deceive us that we have gone closer to Heaven, Brother Pucci," said Father Alexander half-jokingly after he sips a cup of Cappuccino that I made for the two of us.
"Thank you Father, but if Heaven could be reached by just a fine selection of ground coffee, steamed milk, chocolate powder, and cinnamon, that would be the easiest Salvation of mankind," I replied with a smile as sipping my own cup of coffee.
"Heh, Cap-Pucci-No... There's no wonder why you made the best coffee here," said Father Alexander while looking outside the door. "Anyway, if I must be honest, Brother Pucci, when my arthritis comes, I start to think that maybe Albert's condition should be not too bad. Being able to move around unhindered despite his blindness, while for me, the simple walk has become a painful chore of its own."
I looked outside the door and found Johngalli diligently scrubbing the floor, taking a short look toward the small blue satellite hovering above him, rotating slowly with its four rectangular wings while the key-like antennas swinging softly, detecting presences around him and even beyond.
Well, there is no need for Father Alexander, or any non-stand users here to know the true reason why Johngalli could work mostly unhindered by his blindness. Of course, having his stand always being shown serves a double purpose for us. His ability to sense any presences beyond what human eyes could see shall be useful for our security purposes, and if anyone noticed about the weird blue satellite hovering around him, they must be a stand user or has immediate potential to be one. So far though, only I and Giorno being stand users, and thus it was never a problem.
"God bless everyone with different blessings father," I said while sorting through today's mails. "You know how hard it was for him to start his work here..."
Back then when he first comes, around two years ago, and essentially begging me to be let in with whatever I planned to avenge our LORD DIO. Our relationship here is complicated, at best. He is one of the last four true survivors of OUR FELLOWSHIP, and due to Fate, somehow found me in his attempt to continue HIS mission.
"I know, that's why I gave my thanks to Our Lord, as he gave the chance for a poor blind man to found solace in life with his work to the Church."
Johngalli reminds me too much with N'Dhoul and Vanilla Ice, a blind follower of HIM, figuratively, and literally in case of him and N'Dhoul. Now motivated almost solely by revenge, it was a hard time arguing with him to consider the bigger picture that is the road to Heaven.
"Of course, he serves Our Lord and His Church through his manual labor, Father..." I said while thinking how it was started all over again. Our fated meeting here because of HIS Gravity, the Fate that unites us all in the unlikeliest circumstances.
After our last meeting in Egypt, back in 1988, LORD DIO sent him to track one of the missing Arrows of Fate that was entrusted to Yoshihiro Kira, together with another bearer of the arrow, Mansaku Nijimura. But for somewhat reasons, Mansaku choose to betray him, leaving the blind man stranded without his weapon, money, and even papers, during the transit at New Delhi.
Being denied his chance to go to Japan and fulfill his mission, Johngalli ends up being forced to go to Home for The Poor run by Missionaries of Charity and work there for two months, trying to earn enough money to pay his way back to America. Perhaps it was Fate, or perhaps it was due to Faith, but a blind American being stranded in India did pique the interest of Mother Teresa herself, and soon Johngalli was taken back to the US by a Catholic Veteran Charity, as one of his former company mates recognized him.
Having honorably discharged over medical issues, despite being one of the best sniper in US Army, he end up living through his admittedly meager pensions, before gaining enough money to bought a new rifle and almost started working as assassin again when a chance meeting between him and Father Julius (who returned to America after I transferred my study here, and somehow also worked for said Charity) indirectly told him about my presence in Italy, and Johngalli literally begged him to be permitted to work here, even on the lowest job available for a blind man.
"Of course, Brother Pucci, I found his job to be an exceptional example, despite or maybe even because of his blindness. This orphanage never being cleaner than this in my whole life," said Father Alexander with a slight chuckle.
I suppressed my urge to smirk, the people at the Charity are easy to manipulate if you know how to properly press their buttons, or so to speak. A multilingual blind man, a Catholic veteran of US Army nonetheless, willing to work manual labor at an Italian orphanage is just something they literally can't ignore, especially when Johngalli brought out the aspect of Devotion through works. Of course, once he arrives here, he asked me if he could buy a new rifle, but I actually demand him to prove his 'Devotion' first by not having a weapon until the time was right and played the role of a devout, blind Janitor to the fullest. Because he was desperate to be let in into my plans, he is more than willing to spend his time scrubbing the floor and cleaning toilets where he also has additional job of helping me keeping track of Giorno.
Of course, being a stand user himself, little Giorno also aware of Johngalli being one of HIS FATHER'S friend, and so far, their relationship turned out to be one of mutual respect. I can't help but smile every time little Giorno offers to help Johngalli with the floor scrubbing, sure it might be unbecoming for a SON OF HIM, but considering Our Lord Jesus Christ also washed the feet of His Disciples...
"Brother Pucci... Might I ask you to go on an errand today?" said Father Alexander as he read a letter.
"Of course Father, I am yours to command."
"Could you act in my stead as a counselor to a troublesome street child? He was caught yesterday after breaking into a home and beating up an old woman. The Police asked me to come, but my hip disagreed with me today..."
"Of course, Father..."
"Good then, I'll call the Police Office to inform them that you will be the one coming in my stead," said Father Alexander as he lifted the phone and punched the numbers. "You might go there after breakfast, told Mista to drop you at the Police Office, and told them that you are looking for the street child known as Narancia Ghirga."
Naples Police Office, Naples, Italy, 23 January 1995
"And that should be it, Brother," said Mista to me when we arrived in front of the Police Office. "Are you sure you don't need me to stay here, he might be just a remorseless street rat, beating up an old woman like that, I understand why Father Alexander did not want to meet him at the first place."
"But it was my duty to listen to his problems, and counsel him that God will always be looking for him, as he cares for all His Children," I said with a smile, looking that Mista want to bet that I would get out from Police Office in a fifteen minutes up to half an hour.
"Father Alexander tried that with some other street rats; he often ends up being forced to get away because they are often too aggressive to be handled... And considering that rat was supposed to attack a police head-on during his arrest..."
"Just drive back to the Orphanage, don't worry about me, Mista," I said with a smile. "After all, even if that was right and I only spent half an hour with him, I could simply flag a taxi or ride a bus back to the Orphanage. You have no need to wait for me here."
"I don't want to say this, Brother... But... May God bless you in this futile endeavor..." said Mista with a sour smile as he climbs back to the minibus.
Well, being a counselor for street children... It can't be that bad, right?
"Ah, welcome Brother, Father Alexander has informed us about you... But be careful, this one is a nasty one, I won't hold it against you if you want to get out from his cell in less than five minutes," said a police officer half-jokingly while the other police officer showed his bandaged hand, that...
"He bites me, so be careful with that little shit," said the officer with a bandaged hand. "We gave him his lesson earlier this morning, but maybe he still has enough energy to give you a nasty one."
"Well, but my duty is my duty yes?" I said while raising my eyebrows.
"Beginners always thought those street rats as worth their time, no offense Brother... Maybe you did need the experience..."
"Well, don't worry about me, bring me to his cell then," I said with a smile while the police officers just shrug their shoulders.
This particular street rat couldn't be that bad, right?
I make Johngalli A(lbert)'s claim of being a follower of DIO valid in this AU because of reasons. Yes, Jotaro did say about how he might never even met DIO at the first place, but that's just Jotaro's speculation though, and his wiki age did not make sense (being 12 or 13 years old at most when DIO is still alive?). Here, I bumped his age and put his birthday somewhere in 1960, so he could be both ex-military snipers who being honorably discharged over going blind, and then become a follower of DIO.
And yes, that's Guido Mista's Dad and Risotto Nero's older sister working in the orphanage, while Pucci end up meeting Narancia when he still being a street child. You know where this is going, right?