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 In all the children’s stories your parents had read to you at a tender age, the good guys had always won. In fact, many books, TV shows, movies, and other media you had seen typically included a force of evil or antagonism that, by the end, was stamped out by its other half—protagonistic good. Thanks to your parents’ penchant for literature in its many forms, you and your siblings ended up with similar tastes. Thus, that had been one of the ways you had bonded as a family. Squished together on the too-small couch, when everyone could still bear to be around one another, you had read books and watched movies together. From the Disney classics, the Harry Potter series, and the Chronicles of Narnia, to the Marvel and DC franchises, and more, you found the clashes between grand-scale evil and heroic spectacle fascinating. With rapt attention, a younger you had watched the awe-inspiring feats of various protagonists fresh out of their darkest hours as they triumphed over their inner demons, and their enemies. As you branched out even more into the world of reading and writing as you got older, you came to recognize a recurring theme: whenever evil arises, heroes are born out of the ensuing chaos to put an end to it.

And when chaos struck your home of Florida, and then the entire world, in the form of Enrico Pucci, you were one of those heroes who rose up to stop him, along with a host of other allies. Of those allies was Jolyne Kujo, a childhood friend of yours. In a sense, she was the one who had led the charge against the priest. At first, saving her father was her priority, and when you had promised to help retrieve his Stand and Memory discs that Pucci had pilfered, you had not expected the situation to become as large-scale as it had.

As someone with a non-combative Stand, while Jolyne remained within Green Dolphin Street Prison, you worked to support her with the help of the Speedwagon Foundation on the outside. After a chance encounter with her father Dr. Kujo, where you managed to convince him to bring you along to help free her from prison, this allyship allowed you clearance into important Foundation documents even after Dr. Kujo’s incapacitation. He wasn’t a man of many words at all, especially with his reluctance to involve you. But he had briefly given the most pertinent bits of information to clear some of the fog surrounding the complex situation. Among those were mentions of his past: an old enemy; grudges. So, you decided a search back in time might be the best place to start to find anything connected to the person Jolyne had been tracking down. That was what led you to the Egypt Files.

Though you tasked yourself with finding information relevant to the crisis at hand, once you began your dive into events of the past, it was hard to merely skim some of what you read. Dense with detail and thorough descriptions, reading the Egypt Files was like reading a fantastical action-adventure story. The more you read, the more invested you became. Though childish to think of real-life events as if they were a fictional pleasure reading—especially in such a dire situation—you couldn’t help yourself. The Egypt Crusade was undoubtedly a tale of heroes, villains, tragic sacrifice, an ultimate victory, and justice. It had taken six courageous Stand Users to complete the journey: Joseph Joestar, Mohammed Avdol, Jean Pierre Polnareff, Noriaki Kakyoin, Jotaro Kujo, and even a little dog named Iggy. Together they had plowed through the twenty-four Stand Users the hundred-year old vampire Dio had sent after them, with fifteen of them labeled the Tarot Card Stand Users, and the other nine being the Nine Egyptian Glory Gods. Even after them, there were more— Dio had had a large group of followers. He was described like a cult leader in his files, many of his loyal subjects willing to die simply for his approval. He even had a harem of women he had fed upon, yet there was only one woman documented to have survived and lived to birth him a son even after his death. You were bewildered at the sheer number of names and events connected to this one man, and how closely linked his existence was to the Joestar family. A whole other world of supernatural happenings and other mayhem had been existing unawares to the general populace. A world to which you were newly yet effectively part of. And Dio seemed to be at the center of it all. Just from knowing him, you were able to dig so much deeper into an extensive history known by so few. It was almost unbelievable. The legitimate existence of vampires, their superhuman counterpart the Pillar Men, and the Stone Masks; how Stands could be awakened even in animals and infants, and how they could be evolved with ancient Arrows. But after your time down multiple rabbit holes, the mention of a journal caught your eye. Rather than a generations-long story behind the object, there was minimal information inscribed on the digital document. Once one of Dio’s possessions, it was Dr. Kujo who had found and burnt it to a crisp shortly after the vampire’s demise. Whatever was inside was lost to the world, with only one living person as its pages’ witness.

It was then that the gears in your head had begun to turn.

With the Foundation providing the least amount of information, the attacker had to get to Dr. Kujo directly. Even you knew how elusive the man was from the times you had spent with Jolyne during childhood. So, her imprisonment was only a ploy to get close to her father who had to have seen what was inside the journal. And the attacker had the perfect Stand ability, too—to extract one’s memories and turn them into a disc. By the time you had finished your research, you figured the enemy had already had a chance to view the ‘memory footage’. It was too late to stop that, but it wasn’t too late to stop whatever the enemy was planning to do with that information.

Thus, you headed to Green Dolphin Street Prison yourself. After Savage Garden’s successful retrieval of Dr. Kujo’s Star Platinum disc, communication with Jolyne had come to a standstill. You had snuck her a cell phone to use when she had first decided to stay within Green Dolphin, and she had called you with it to make sure you were able to get her father’s body somewhere safe. However, you worried if it had finally been confiscated, broken, lost, or if she was just unable to use it. Or if she had stopped wanting to use it. You decided to risk a call and planned to destroy the phone if anything went wrong. But after a ring, to your surprise, a little boy named Emporio answered, to whom she had left the phone in the care of. Although Jolyne had mentioned having allies on the inside and had even cited his name as one of those allies, him being a child had never crossed your mind. But at least the person on the line was someone you were able to trust. After introducing yourself, Emporio told you that, after an incident, Jolyne had been taken in for questioning. In other words, getting in touch with her had become even more difficult, which was why you resolved to enter the infamous Aquarium. Even if you weren’t a natural fighter like Jolyne, you had thought you should help in any way you could anyhow. Despite Emporio’s initial protests, he eventually conceded and told you where to meet up with him, but you still had to find your own way in. With your Stand, that had been the easier part. Everything else that came after, however—that was when the path to victory became a road of continual hardship. It was also when things had gotten decidedly weirder.

 

Jolyne had procured an unusual group of people to support her. But seeing how they all had met in a prison, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise—excluding two cases. Emporio had apparently grown up in the prison, and when you made it to the rendezvous point, he brought you into the Ghost Room sustained by his Stand. For an eleven-year-old boy, he had quite the ability; you hadn’t even manifested your Stand by that age. Foo Fighters was an entire colony of sentient plankton wearing a human carcass. Despite that, they had only smelled mildly fishy. At that time, in the medical ward, Weather Report and Hermes had yet to recover from their previous fights with other Stand Users, the recent event with Hermes having been the one that sent Jolyne to the punishment ward. It had taken a dizzying rush of information to get caught up with the situation, but the goal was to retrieve a bone before the enemy could. Jolyne was already where she needed to be, but she was alone. Too dangerous. Therefore, it was decided that you, F.F. and a man named Narciso Anasui would go help her. Still, just as Emporio had pointed out, Anasui was not the type to help others. He was entirely self-motivated by his sudden obsession with Jolyne. Most times he spoke to you was simply to order you around or ask more about Jolyne since you had known her for so long (and then inevitably cut you off in his babbled monologue of excitement to “figure her out” for himself). Reluctant as you were to tell him anything—he was in prison for having murdered his ex-girlfriend, after all—his Stand Diver Down was quite useful in getting to the ward (which allowed you to preserve your ability). And so, in accordance to the deal you had struck, each time he done something helpful, you had to reveal a fact about Jolyne or do something that would somehow put him in her good graces. Unfortunately, F.F. had gotten sucked into this, too, and usually complied despite how terribly he treated them. Even if he was on your side, there was no way you would have considered that guy heroic in any way.

Upon arrival to the punishment ward, Jolyne was already hurt—fresh out of an intense fight according to the severity of her injuries. As you had expected, she was not thrilled to see you. But since F.F. had chosen to fight off the prisoner Kenzo, it was up to you to heal her wounds. It was a long, perilous battle. Having never fought with your Stand before, you were no good if it came to a one-on-one faceoff, so you tried to back up F.F. in any way you could, even though that was not much at first. Although you had aided their initial surprise attack by turning them invisible with your Stand ability, Kenzo somehow detected all of F.F.’s movements. You were forced to watch them nearly die countless times. And when Kenzo had managed to strap them into an electric chair, you feared that that was the end of them even as they tried to take Kenzo down with them. But, there he stood, bloodied, smoking, and crazy-eyed, and his sights had set upon you. Having left Jolyne and Anasui behind on the second floor, you were in trouble; it was a one-on-one confrontation. And against an expert assassin, no less. The only advantage you had was the secret to his dragon-like Stand to use feng shui combined with his Kenpo to attack one’s unlucky areas, as explained by the surprisingly knowledgeable Anasui. It seemed his obsession with dissecting things wasn’t exclusively physical, and his calculative and observant nature had proved helpful for the first time. It was that information that had allowed you to hold Kenzo off for as long as you had.

Your Stand could make almost anything you thought of come true, with some limitations, of course. Turning people invisible or healing them was no problem. But F.F. needed water to survive, and your Stand was incapable of making something out of nothing. In a way, it only worked from and improved on what was already existing. Therefore, if Kenzo essentially relied on your misfortune to kill you, you just had to turn your own luck around.

And with a Stand that made your words into a reality, you went from being unlucky to the luckiest one in the room… if only for a minute. But fortunately, that amount of time had been enough. Seemingly random events occurred— a dead bird dropped down, you stumbled over broken bits from the smashed in skylight, you fell to the ground. But each of those events were what let you put a hit on the man in front of you. If you hadn’t stumbled, you never would have found that stray gun. Without your fall, the gun would not have been shot. And if that dead bird hadn’t landed right in Kenzo’s blind spot, he never would’ve slipped on it. All those seemingly unrelated events allowed your ricocheted bullets to lodge right into his unluckiest spot, as noted by the dragon—up into his solar plexus. With his major organs damaged and his body already weakened from the electrocution, more of the elderly assassin’s attacks missed their targets. When they had hit you, the damage done wasn’t as deadly as what you had seen Foo Fighters go through. Bruises colored your skin in dark reds and blues, some blood was shed, and when your luck was ten seconds away from ending, you fired the last of the gun’s round. You prayed that ten seconds was all it would take to end the battle. The countdown began in your head. At ten, nine, eight, seven, you suddenly saw Jolyne drop down the flight of stairs with a call of your name while Kenzo dodged all but three of your shots. Six, five, four, in a shock of pain, two of your own recklessly shot bullets ripped clean through your leg and arm. You collapsed to the ground, eyes as wide as your shouting mouth when Kenzo sidestepped the last of your ricocheted bullets, and lunged right for you, poised for the kill. Three, two… the blow never came. Instead, a trio of resounding booms erupted behind your head, and a descending line of three o’s decorated the center of Kenzo’s face. One: Kenzo fell limp to the ground, the momentum of his dodge having caused his head to enter an unlucky area for the briefest of moments, the ever-neutral dragon explained as it finally faded from existence. Sat up behind you was Foo Fighters, whose plankton gun shifted back into a normal hand. The battle was finally over; Kenzo had finally been put out of commission. Your luck had won over his.

When you asked Foo Fighters how they managed to recover, it had turned out that the blood from both Kenzo’s and your bullet wounds and the water puddles they had used as mirrors against the assassin had formed a liquid path back to F.F.’s body. Some of their plankton had been stored in the makeshift mirrors, and the blood path thus gave them an express highway back to their body, along with some hydration. The relief that relaxed your tense muscles was short-lived when you winced and hissed because of your injuries. Lightheaded from the adrenaline, from having been able to see through your limbs, and from the dead body just a few feet away, you felt the churning turmoil in the pit of your stomach arise with the urge to faint. F.F. teased you for the pale look in your face—"What? Never seen a dead body before?” they asked—as they sealed your open wounds with their plankton. Jolyne limped over to you with Anasui at her heels. She had taken quite the tumble down those steps, and you had only been able to heal her wounds halfway before you had rushed down to help F.F. The scowl she looked down at you with was nothing you weren’t already used to. In fact, having seen her in front you like that brought back the distinct memory from a few years ago—the day of your biggest fight with one another. The day when you had cut ties and ended your years’ long friendship.

But instead of a repeat of moments from that day, such as when she had spat on you and when you had lunged at her in retaliation—she plopped down beside you while your head ducked reflexively from the weight of guilt of events and emotions past. You took her silence as a chance to explain yourself in a rapid slew of words, your sentences strung together haphazardly in your sudden fluster. First: yes, her father was still safe and alive. Yes, you had entered Green Dolphin even after she explicitly told you to stay out. Yes, you had a good reason to do so—your research had reached a dead end with only the smallest of leads, so coming to aid the cause directly was the best next course of action. After all, the more allies—and especially ones that had Stands like yourself—the better. And yes, though you were quite shaken after your first real life-or-death match against another Stand User, if putting your life on the line would gain her trust, would show that you were committed to the cause, that you did indeed want to repent for your past mistakes, then—

And then she punched you right in the arm, hard, and ceased your babbled rant. The bruise she struck was a bullseye of sharp waves of pain. Profanity surged to the tip of your tongue and your eyelids pricked with tears, but she had beat you to the punch with her own indignant growls. She alternated in calling you an “idiot”, a “dumbass”, a “dumb bitch”, and a “dumb bitch-ass” repeatedly as she ragged on you for coming to the prison in the first place, and then for rushing into a fight without any sort of plan (even though she had had a reputation for that, too). Any attempt to get a word in edgewise ceased on your end after she brought up the very real fact that you could have died. It wasn’t that you hadn’t already known that possibility beforehand, but you hadn’t truly thought about the consequences if that had come to fruition. Your friends, your brothers, and your mother most of all—last thing she knew, you were staying at a friend’s house to be closer to the internship with the Foundation you had taken during your break off from school. Unable to see her own daughter for months, you had already known the anguish Jolyne’s mother Dolly had been going through whenever you had called her. It had hurt enough to hear how strained her voice would become as she barely held back her sobs, and the thought of putting your own mother through that kind of pain and worse because you had recklessly gotten yourself killed…it left you with a feeling you could not sum up in one word, even though that was your specialty.

It was then that the gravity of the situation had finally set in. Along with that arose fear. True and honest-to-god fear. You had never been keen on the idea of hurting others, nor getting yourself hurt, be it temporary pain or irreversible injury. Even against your brothers in familial quarrels, you had always resorted to using your words rather than your fists because you hadn’t been able to handle physical retaliation well. But you had to fight for your very life only minutes ago. Once the adrenaline and endorphins had kicked in, and Kenzo had landed the first hit on you, yes, you had discovered, that had hurt like hell, but you had gotten through it. And the next hit, and the hit after that, and so on. With the initial scare out of the way, you had thought that maybe you could handle yourself in a fight—at least until your bout of panic towards the end. But that was it: you had had no idea how that battle was going to end. Whether it be you, body bloodied and broken, or the other person, someone had had to die. And from that point on in your journey, things would be just the same: kill or be killed.

But you couldn’t back down, not even after that. There was undoubtedly something malevolent in the works, and though you hadn’t known what that was, your instincts told you that it was something that needed to be stopped at all costs. If the enemy were to succeed, there was no way to tell if your family, Ms. Dolly, or even the whole world would be safe. To acknowledge your fear and overcome it to do what was right—was that not what a hero would do? This was no longer just about your guilt—a lot more lives than your own could be at stake and not even know it. Innocent lives. So, for them, because you could, you would fight. That was your decision.

Jolyne, who was displeased with how obstinate you were but unable to do much else about the matter, dealt your arm another punch and looked away from you while Foo Fighters healed her wounds. “Even if you die, I won’t just forgive your dumb ass.” From the visible half of her face, you saw one of Jolyne’s sharp eyebrows furrow further. “You have a lot to make up to me.”

“I know,” you said. “I’ll start making amends by doing what’s right, and right now, that’s helping you. So, I… I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.”

She glanced at you briefly. “Just don’t become a burden.”