Jorge Joestar

Jorge Joestar Chapter 12: Rhinoceros Beetle

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NOTE: I add some picture on chapter 2

When I told him Joseph Joestar had died of cancer two years ago, Cars said,

“Oh… Luck always was on his side.”

“If he was still alive, would you have sought revenge?”

I asked.

“He’d be an old man, nearly a hundred years old.”

“I would indeed. After all, the man sent me into space thirty-seven times. I won’t feel freed from that fate until things are settled between us. I’ve spent nigh eternity dreaming of placing a stone mask on that man, turning him into a vampire, having him devour other humans, and finally eating him myself.”

“………..? Stone mask?”

“A tool that turns humans into a good source of energy and nutrition. Mere humans are hardly enough to satisfy our appetites. Turning them into vampires makes them far more appetizing, and drinking blood makes them young again, and much stronger. I’m sure Joseph Joestar would make a pleasingly delicious vampire.”

Desperately trying to look calm, I listened to Cars’ terrifying story…my mind reeling. A stone mask? That turned humans into vampires? Was that even possible?

“Humans are a life form with possibilities,”

Cars said.

“You can do almost anything if you simply tweak their brains a little. Changes to the brain change the electric currents. If the electric signals change, the blood changes. If the blood changes the bones and organs and skin and all the rest changes. Jorge Joestar, you are quite lacking in height compared to Joseph.”

Lacking!? I wasn’t lacking! Certainly I was shorter than my grandfather, who was over 190 centimeters, but I was taller than the average Japanese man. As I thought this, Cars reached his hand out to my head. I froze, and his fingers slipped into my head, as easily as an airplane slips into a cloud.

“Eeeek!”

I squealed, but I was afraid I’d die if I moved so I had to stay perfectly still.

“Don’t worry, the brain has no capacity for pain,”

Cars said,

and pulled his fingers out of my head, leaving no holes or any sign he’d reached inside me. Just as I was starting to feel relieved a weird sound came from my throat and my head snapped sideways of its own accord and I thought maybe that sound wasn’t me swallowing but my neck breaking and then snap crunnch craaack all the bones in my body started twisting in all sorts of crazy directions, one after the other. But it only looked horrible. I could feel the vibrations running through me, but no pain. My knees and elbows bent backwards and my wrists spun the wrong way and it seemed obvious all my bones were breaking but apparently they weren’t and I was fine. And I was about twenty centimeters taller.

“………..!?”

“See? I know the human brain,”

Cars said.

“I can also make wings grow from your back.”

He started to reach his hand out again but I ducked under it.

“I’m fine!”

“Heh heh heh. Humans are a fascinating species. They seem like they are constantly striving to become something else, but they resist actual change. Most likely they simply enjoy imagining things. That is what I like most about the human race. They are the only ones who imagine, who create. Who make stories. When I was living underground I gathered the stories human had written, and read them. Humans are the only species that enjoy things that happen to others of their kind. At first I had no idea how they were enjoying it. Our brains had no concept of emotional investment, of putting ourselves in other’s shoes. It wasn’t easy to do. My race was complete as it was, and satisfied with that. And as a result they lacked ambition, made no progress of any kind, and lived a life of stagnation. But there’s a difference between being actually sufficient and simply not knowing that something is insufficient. I came to understand that we weren’t perfect. We just hadn’t noticed that we weren’t. We lacked even the ability to realize this

fact because we had never compared ourselves to anyone else. Because we expected nothing from anyone else, and made do entirely with what we already had. But I noticed. Reading human writings and learning to enjoy them sent new electric impulses through my mind. I knew then that we had never stopped to think about our own potential. We were certain our species was the pinnacle of all things, and thus we had stopped progressing. This was the first time I ever felt dissatisfied. The first time I had ever questioned myself. That quickly let to frustration, to anger. And that frustration and anger pleased me. It was what you would call a eureka moment. I was furious with myself, and that was cause for celebration. It was proof that I, too, had potential.”

“And looking back, I was baffled by how I had ever lived without  doubt, without dissatisfaction. We could never set foot in the light of the sun, could never know the world above during the day. We were trapped in the world underground. I couldn’t bear it any longer. So I quickly began exploring my own potential. My own brain. Everything begins with the brain. To study our brains I began killing my own kind like we killed humans. I killed them, spit open their heads, and examined their brains; as I suspected, we had potential. In order to investigate closer, further, and with more certainty, I killed a great many more, but murder itself did not really pose a problem among my kind. After all, none of them cared for anyone but themselves. Sometimes I even killed in front of others of my kind, but nobody said anything. They had no emotional investment, no imagination, and I slowly realized just how appalling that was. If someone attempted to attack us, to conquer us, and we reacted with such disinterest, that could be the end of us. We would be annihilated by our own selfsatisfaction and arrogance. Fearing for my own safety, I continued

my studies, created the stone mask, stretched my brain, and conquered the sun. And not only that. I created a perfect body for myself, one superior to all other living things.”

“Hunh…so? How is not dying?”

“…there’s such a lot of time.”

The question I’d asked absently hit directly to the heart of things, and Cars’ whispered response had an air of such grim realism that I almost started laughing, but he was watching me suspiciously. Whoops. If he thought I was mocking him, he might get angry, and in such close quarters…well, it was about three times the size of the H. G. Wells, but there was so still nowhere to run, and I had no hope of standing against him. Hokay, I thought. Was it acceptable to allow this Ultimate Cars to reach Earth six months from now? Of course not. After all, he ate humans. He also turned them into vampires, but either way he was clearly the enemy of mankind. Sure, there wasn’t a rule that humans shouldn’t have any predators…yet at a human faced with such a threat, I felt obligated to do what I could. But this predator was immortal, so I couldn’t just kill him. Could I somehow blow up the ship? No. He was smart enough to take the Giottos apart and build them into this ship in the blink of an eye. We didn’t have any powerful explosives at hand, and even if we blew it up with Narancia’s Das Boot, Cars would just kill Narancia the moment he realized what we were doing, and his Stand would vanish. As the thought crossed my mind there was a sonar ping from inside me. Narancia’s Das Boot had snuck inside my body again, without Cars noticing. 458 I glanced at Narancia. The boy’s eyes were totally those of a mafia veteran. He was going to try something before he got eaten. With Das Boot? It could only move inside living tissue and Stands. Wait…part of this ship was made from the extra Cars. He could

move through that. That must be how he got his submarine inside me without touching me. What else could he do? But before I could think of anything else, Cars said,

“What’s this?”

I looked over, and Cars had his hand inserted into his own chest. He felt around inside himself, then pulled his hand out with one of Narancia’s submarines held in it.

“Is this…a machine? Has human technology created boats that can go inside the body?”

Oh, shit, I thought. Neither Narancia or I had even begun to understand how ultimate the Ultimate Thing really was. As if proving that, Cars sat down on the floor, and took Das Boot apart as we watched. His fingers moved with such unhesitating precision it was as if he had built it himself. First he heated the tips of his fingers like a blow torch, making a line across the outer walls, and after peeling them off he divided it into engineering sections, living quarters, control rooms, and missile storage. Tiny hands had come out of the tips of his fingers, and were turning and opening every nut and screw, leaving the entire plumbing system intact. It was like he stroked it and everything divided itself into pieces, lined up in neat rows on the floor, down to the individual spoons in the kitchen or the springs in the beds. When it came to the monitors in the control room or the computers in engineering, he not only took them apart, he also analyzed the structure.

“Some sort of visual data,”

he muttered, putting the computer back together. He plugged the cord into the palm of his hand and opened his mouth. A beam of light emerged from the back of his throat, and a thin membrane appeared between his jaws, turning his mouth into a projector. The information flowing from his palm was transferred to a thin cellophane-like paper, and projected onto the wall across from him. It was a sexy photo of a naked woman.

“Eh!? Hey! Aughhh!”

Narancia shrieked, turning bright red.

“Stoooooop! Stop it! What the fuck!? God damn it!”

He was in such a tizzy he forgot all about shame and fear and threw himself at Cars, trying to cover up the projector lens, but Cars easily lifted him, spun him around in the air, placed him flat on his back on the ceiling, and tied him there with cords and pipes. Below him, Cars kept on projecting. Ka-chunk. Ka-chunk. With an analog sound like an old slide projector, image after image displayed, every single one of the same naked girl.

“I said stop! Yo! This is morally wrong, damn it! Please, Mr. Cars! I really fucking mean it! Aiiieeeee!”

Narancia was so worked up now his nose had started bleeding, dripping down from the ceiling. I was definitely starting to feel sorry for him.

“Cars, these might be personal memories. It’s not the best manners to display someone’s precious…”

and no sooner had the words left my mouth then the next picture showed that girl on the cover of a magazine.

“Hunh?”

Wait, these were all pin-ups?

“Auuuuughhhhhh! How dare you!? My Trish Cicciolina!”

Narancia screamed. Now I placed her. Trish Cicciolina was a famous porn star who’d become a member of the Italian Parliament. She was famous even in Japan. She was middle-aged now, but these were all from when she was young. I glanced up, accidentally meeting Narancia’s eye.

“What, motherfucker? You’d better not tell anyone about this or I swear I’ll fucking kill you! Let me down, Cars! Fucker! I get free of this I’ll kill all of you!”

he screamed, spraying spit and nose blood.

“You can like whoever you want,”

I said, weakly. This did not appear to comfort him at all.

“Shut up!”

he roared.

“Shut the fuck up! Fuck you all!”

He then began trying to spit at me. I dodged, laughing. What the hell were we even doing? Cars turned his mouth projector back into his normal mouth, and said,

“So this machine has come from inside your body? Have human bodies become capable of making machines?”

“Die, Cars!”

Narancia yelled, now just spitting furiously in all directions. Cars ignored this completely. He stood up, and reached his hand towards Narancia’s belly. Afraid he’d die if Cars dissected him looking for the factory, I hastily yelled,

“No, Cars! It exists as a machine, but is something else entirely.”

Cars stopped his hand, and looked at me.

“……….? What do you mean?”

“It’s called a Stand. It takes the form of a machine, but isn’t one. I only just learned about them today myself, but Stands are… something ordinary humans don’t have. A special power. Like telekinesis or telepathy, or psychic powers. But much more varied and complex. They can look like people, animals, plants, or machines. Only people who have Stands can see them or touch them. I just happen to have found someone who made it so I could see and touch Stands, but I’m not a Stand Master myself.”

“Then I can use Stands, too?”

“Well…I’m guessing you can see and touch them because you’re the ultimate lifeform…”

I trailed off as Cars held his palm up in front of his chest, and a submarine surfaced from inside him. It was a different design from Narancia’s Das Boot.

“……….!”

I looked up at the ceiling, and Narancia appeared to be shocked speechless. Cars had just spontaneously developed a Stand.

“Hmm,”

Cars said, staring at his Stand.

“I understand now.”

Whooops. We were fucked now, I thought. Everything was possible for the ultimate being. He could absorb anything, without limits.

“Since it’s my own power, I can easily grasp what it can do,”

Cars said, and boooooooooommm an explosive sound echoed through every inch of my body. It was so loud I covered my ears but since the noise was inside me I couldn’t block the sound.

“It seems you really don’t have a Stand,”

Cars said, and I was relieved

my ear drums had survived what I suddenly realized was an extremely loud sonar. My ears were still ringing. This was nuts.

“Unh…!”

I turned towards the groan, and saw Enrico Pucci writhing on the floor, clutching his hands to his ears, his face screwed up in pain. He must be getting the deafening sonar treatment, too.

“Hmm, there is something in you,”

Cars said, striding over to him. Despite his injuries, Pucci tried to scramble away, but was moving too slowly, and there was nowhere to go.

“Unh…no…”

Cars ignored his hoarse pleas, bent over, and stuck his arm in Pucci’s back.

“Auughhh!”

Pucci screamed, and Cars began dragging a humanoid Stand about the same size as Pucci out of his back by the neck.

“Hmm,”

Cars said, examining it.

“This looks like a man, but is no man…nor any animal…what is it…? Why are there letters written all over the surface of its skin?”

“Gah…shit…shut up! Do it, White Snake!”

Pucci yelled. His Stand turned and punched Cars in the cheek. Cars’ head rolled sideways with the blow, and a disc popped out of his head, but not one or two, but a flood of them, bubbling out of his head, spilling ceaselessly onto the floor. Pucci froze to the spot, horrified. Even as more discs poured out of him, Cars turned back to Pucci, and said,

“So this…is your Stand’s power. Fascinating. I understand it.”

Hunh!? Before I even had time to be surprised, a humanoid Stand emerged from Cars’ back. It looked something like Pucci’s White Snake, but it was bigger, and had three heads and six arms like a statue of Ashura. The middle arm on the right punched Pucci’s face, and two discs came out. Cars looks mildly surprised.

“……….? Only two…?”

Discs were still spilling out of his own head with no

signs of ever slowing down. They were forming quite the pile.

“Let’s see…”

Cars picked up one of Pucci’s discs, and placed it inside his own forehead.

“…I see, White Snake. A stand that can turn memories and Stand powers into discs and steal them, and control people by writing to the discs…”

he said, once he’d finished reading Pucci’s Stand disc.

“Stop, please…”

Pucci said.

“How did you get this power,”

Cars asked.

“Were you stabbed by a special arrow? Long ago, when I was on Earth, there were occasional people with special powers, and I made a tool that could pull those powers out of humans, a bow and arrow. I barely used it before I began slaughtering my own species. In theory, that bow and arrow can trigger a reaction; to protect their own lives from the fatal wound, their talents would blossom, the energy would heal the wounds, and they would discover special abilities previously hidden within them. Has something like that pulled this Stand out of you?”

Without waiting for Pucci to answer, Cars pulled the memory disc out of him, knocking him out, and placed it in his own head.

“…hmm…it seems my bow and arrow was not involved, but the theory is not wrong. ‘The Devil’s Palm’…while the body hangs between life and death only those with a Stand lurking within them will be saved.”

I had heard the legends of ‘The Devil’s Palm’. A holy spot somewhere in America, that moved itself from place to place, and those that wandered into it were either chosen, or died. Cars sighed.

“But everything else is quite dull. There is nothing to be learned from human memories. They lack attention to detail, their thought patterns are shallow, and their recall is shockingly poor…”

He reached up to pull the disc out.

“Mm?”

he said, pausing.

“What…?”

Then he took the disc out, slammed it back in Pucci’s head, glanced at me, and laughed.

“Thanks to him, six months will take four hours. Aren’t you lucky?”

Hunh? We both gaped at him, but he turned his attention back to Pucci, who had woken up again.

“You there. I did not write a message on the outside of Giotto, and did not throw it down to Earth. Think on that. Who prepared the metal plate that killed your family?”

Hunh? Huuunhh? ………what!? We’d all assumed the notes about the way to heaven had led us to the back of Mars, where we found the Giottos and Cars, and all of us, myself included, had assumed that was key to finding this ‘Heaven’, so this revelation threw me for a loop. But who else could have prepared that metal sheet with a message on it? Who had dropped that from the sky onto Pucci’s house, and how? They hadn’t just dropped it on his house, they’d wiped it from the face of the Earth. Pucci’s home had vanished, replaced by a crater seventeen meters in diameter. Who else could do that?

“Think about it,”

Cars said.

“If I could throw a metal plate down to Earth, I’d have flown there myself. This is impossible. Even if the metal is treated to be heat resistant, there’s no possible way a single metal plate could survive all the way from space to the surface without burning up. I know everything about the Giotto’s heat shields. No matter what angle it entered the atmosphere, it would melt in the stratosphere. To begin with, they’ve obviously only applied the heat resistant treatment to the outside. The back of the plate is ordinary metal, and would melt away first. And they’ve even carved letters into the front of it. That would ruin whatever effect the treatment had. Why is it humans choose to blind themselves the moment things cease to make sense? Why

can’t you stop yourselves from being so stupid you ignored the facts that don’t fit with your desire to believe this was a message from space?”

But the strangest part was, nobody had noticed the meteor falling. The meteor had evaded both the Space Center and the Air Force radar. Funnier Valentine had mentioned that. That should have caught my attention. It was more than just ‘strange’. But looking things over again, how could throwing an iron plate leave a seventeen meter crater? That seemed unlikely if it hadn’t been traveling as fast as it would have if it was coming from outer space. But that’s only if it was thrown normally. What if it wasn’t thrown normally? Thrown by someone not normal using a not normal throwing technique.

“Come, now! Remember the sky!”

Cars said, annoyed by Pucci’s silence.

“Even with your pathetically low recall, you should be able to managed that much! Remember him!”

“…………?”

When Pucci just gaped at him, Cars spat,

“Look,”

and turned his mouth into a projector again, beaming an image onto the wall. Ka-chunk. The evening sky, orange and purple mingled. A single dot against it. Ka-chunk. That dot enlarged, clearly human shaped. Ka-chunk. The humanoid form enlarged, but with the sun at his back his face and figure were in shadow, impossible to make out. Ka-chunk. The contrast adjusted, illuminating everything. The man floating in the air was muscular, with long limbs and a barrel chest, even features twisted in a wicked grin.

I knew that man.

No, I didn’t. I don’t know why I thought I did. He was white, and looked like no one I’d ever seen. Long, narrow eyes, a strong jaw, full lips, and three moles on his left ear. He was handsome, but there was something inherently evil about his face. His smile let us catch a glimpse of two long, sharp fangs. He didn’t seem like a Stand Master…he didn’t even seem like a human.

The image on the wall vanished, and Cars laughed.

“He’s a vampire. What could my food source be plotting, sending me a spaceship and Joseph Joestar’s grandson?”

“Eh? I’m adopted. Not actually related to Joseph at all.”

And it wasn’t this mysterious vampire who put me on the H. G. Wells, but Tsukumojuku. When I said so, Cars’ White Snake appeared in front of me, fist clenched. Oh. He’s going to hit me, I thought. But I didn’t even have time to brace myself. Wham! Not only did my face turn, but my whole body followed it, and I went spinning through the air. He hit me so hard it’s a wonder my neck didn’t break. It was probably a good thing I didn’t brace myself; going limp probably saved me.

“I’d better check your memories, too…”

Cars said. White Snake pulled the disc out of my head, and slotted it into Cars’. His relaxed tone belied the sheer force he’d used, but I lacked the energy to argue that point. My cheekbone appeared to be broken, and I couldn’t touch it, and it was already super swollen. Both my shoulders were still injured, so I was pretty much hurting all over. I tried to squeeze the throbbing pain out of my mind and

wonder why Tsukumojuku had sent me to Mars in the first place. Hey! I am your instrument. A person needs your help. I’ll take you to them. That’s all he’d said, but I still hadn’t done anything here. All I’d done was meet Cars, and it sounds like he and Joseph Joestar had a history, but Cars couldn’t be the person who needed my help. He wasn’t a person… I thought that far, then I shook my head. Actually, my cheek hurt too much to shake, so I just did it in my mind. The reason I’d done nothing wasn’t because the person who needed me wasn’t here. I hadn’t done anything because I hadn’t tried to do anything. If I actually accomplished something then that would be useful to whoever it was who needed me. The journey Tsukumojuku had given wasn’t over yet. And it seemed like this space trip might actually finish within the four hours we’d been given. I had no idea why.

“Uh, Cars-sempai,”

I said. The blood in my mouth made a gross sound and I nearly started coughing on it but managed to stop myself and say again,

“Cars-sempai, sorry, um…can you heal me up? My body and head hurt so much I can’t think straight.”

Cars didn’t respond at all, so for a moment, just a moment, I managed to trick myself into turning to look at him. Even that slight movement felt like someone took a long harpoon and jammed it into my cheek and through my brain with such force it wound up sticking two meters out the other side and the pain of it left my vision blurry but I managed to recover and see Cars enjoying my memories. He was just staring at empty space, but I think he was enjoying my colorful life.

“Yo, Carsy, don’t ignore me!”

Cars’ eyes suddenly focused on me, and he grinned.

“You sure waste a lot of time on stupid puzzles.”

Nah, they might looks simple from the results and solutions but that was just the Egg of Columbus and actually getting there

was pretty dang hard. I would have argued that point all day but simply couldn’t right now.

“I’d like to think faster so if you could just heal me…”

“In the end, you’re just another human,”

Cars said, ignoring me again.

“You see a mystery and think, ‘How odd!’ and put it on a shelf somewhere.”

Shuddup.

“Even if I put things together after the fact, as long as I get there in the end, what does it matter? If I stopped to ponder every mystery I saw before collecting all the information I needed, I’d never solve anything…”

I managed to spit out, but was there any point in arguing advanced detecting with the ultimate thing? But to my surprise, Cars just said,

“Hmm…makes sense,”

and then noticed my condition.

“Mm? You can still think like that even without your memory disc? This isn’t something learned through experience, but a creation of your innate intelligence? I see why they call you the ‘deduction machine.’“

I had a lot of ideas about where he’d pulled that from my memories but that was an insult critics of the detective novel genre used to dismiss the presence of the detective character…but that didn’t god damn matter so I summoned the last bit of energy I had and spit out,

“Heal…me…”

and at last Cars heard me.

“Heal you? Human healing is far too weak, and takes far too much time,”

he said, coming over and crouching down next to me, leaving my disc stuck in his head.

“Remember this! The heal button is right here,”

he said, and stuck his fingers just to the left of the crown of my head but I couldn’t actually see him doing this and I couldn’t stick my fingers in my own brain anyway. Then my brain went bam and suddenly inflated, then squeezed itself tight like it was pumping something downwards and first the swelling on my cheek got way larger and the bones started making scraping sounds like they were rubbing against each other and the skin on

my cheek came back and the swelling was gone and my bones moved back to normal and everything was slim again. My cheek was healed in an instant and then the swelling went down to my shoulders. Bam! Both shoulders went giant and round and the wounds yawned open but didn’t hurt and didn’t bleed. Pfffft a sort of wind came out of my body and when that stopped the wounds were closed and the swelling went down and my flesh and muscles and bones were all connected right like they’d always been. After healing my shoulders the swelling went all the way down the rest of my body like it was looking for other wounds and injuries to heal and finally ended up at my ass where it came out like a fart, pbbbt. I yelped, embarrassed, and jumped to my feet but my body was entirely back to normal, and I felt better than I had in years except that I was still too tall.

“Cars, sorry, but can you put me back at my old height?”

“? …..isn’t the view better?”

Tch!

“It wasn’t bad to begin with, and my clothes don’t fit any more, so I look like shit!”

“You can always change your clothes.”

Says the half-naked man. But I didn’t say that, and Cars reached out and stuck his hand in my brain again, and a moment later snap crunnch craaack my bones all broke the opposite direction from before and then I was my old height again. Mm, good. I felt like my head was a little larger than normal but it had always been on the big side.

“OK,”

I said. Time to think.

“Cars, can I have the disc back?”

“It’s more effective if I look at it.”

Gah.

“But they’re my memories,”

I said, and since a third of the disc was sticking out of Cars head I grabbed it and yanked it out. I was getting pretty bold. If he was gonna kill me it’d be over in an instant and that instant was always hovering over me and I had no way of predicting what would cause that instant to arrive so I

just didn’t give a shit any more. Even after he healed my wounds I couldn’t exactly relax, here. But as I was putting the disc back in my head Cars said,

“I already found him.”

“? Who?”

“That vampire.”

“….eh? Where? In my memories?”

“Yes.”

Really!?

“So I’ve met that vampire before?”

“No. You simply saw a photo of him.”

“Hunh…?”

“When you were seven, you were looking at an album of old photographs in the Joestar home, and it momentarily entered your field of vision.”

How the fuck was I supposed to remember that? I didn’t even remember the album! Cars laughed at my dumbfounded expression.

“Heh heh, like I said, your memories are more useful when I view them.”

Then Cars turned his mouth into a projector again and displayed my memory on the wall. Ka-chunk. A page of an album filled with black and white photographs. Ka-chunk. A close up of the largest photo on the page. It was apparently a picture from when the Joestars were living in America. It was a big house, with what looked like a large farmland outside. Three well dressed men were lined up outside the house. The middle-aged man in the center was sitting on a chair, and two boys stood behind him. All three were smiling. Ka-chunk. A close up of the boy on the left. Light colored hair, that looks soft to the touch. Long, narrow eyes, a sturdy chin, and full lips.

Him. He had a pleasant expression, and he was still young, not fully grown, of a much slighter build, but it was clearly the same person who we’d seen floating in the air looking evil as shit. Ka-chunk. The whole photograph displayed again. This time it also showed the note written under the photograph. A caption, written in English, that read,

“1881, Joestar Estate.”

And three named, arranged in an upside-down triangle to match the positions of the three men. The middle-aged man in the chair was George Joestar. The boy standing on his right was Jonathan Joestar. And the boy in question was labeled Dio Brando. Dio Brando. When I saw that name it felt like a bolt of lightning ran down my back.

1881? That was 131 years ago. Jonathan was my great-great grandfather, Joseph’s grandfather. Joseph had apparently not got on well with his own father, Jodoh Joestar. (Who was, apparently, a gloomy man of few words; it was hard to tell what he was thinking; the exact opposite of Joseph, who, for better or for worse, was always bullshit free.) But he often mentioned his grandfather with something approaching reverence. A gentleman, kind-hearted, handsome, and so athletic he played rugby with the young men until quite late in life. If he was with Jonathan as a boy, this bearded man in the chair, George Joestar, was most likely his father, the Jojo of six generations before me (albeit, of no blood relation.) Another George Joestar, I thought, and remembered what Tsukumojuku had said. In my world there is another Jorge Joestar.

Had Tsukumojuku’s friend been this middle-aged George? No, that didn’t fit. Tsukumoku had claimed to be from a world where it was July 23rd, 1904, twenty-three years after this picture was taken…or even more. The world he’d come from had a completely different map. A hundred years was not enough time for all the continents to fuse together. …or was it? Look at what was happening to Morioh and Nero Nero Island. Sprouting six legs like that…would hardly be enough, I guess, but was it really out of the question that all the continents had moved that quickly, and made the world we lived in? And that world history had chosen to keep that fact a secret? Wait, wait, I thought. I already knew that I didn’t need to think in terms of the history I was living in. I looked at Cars. This Cars was the original Cars. Because he was the ultimate thing, he’d failed to die as the universe ended, and had gone through the beginning and end of the universe thirty-six times, collecting another thirty-six extra Cars and thirty-seven Giotto space probes. So the world was repeating history in a very similar fashion. Was this what the philosopher Nietzsche had named the Eternal Recurrence? The concept of history repeating itself occurring in actual fact over a substantially larger time span. Then it made far more sense to assume that Tsukumojuku had come from a world in one of the previous thirty-six universes, and the discrepancies in the world map had been caused by the accumulated effects of minor differences in the way history unfolded. OK. So the Jorge Joestar Tsukumojuku had been friends with was a Jorge Joestar from one of those previous universes. And if Tsukumokuju was right and that Jorge had spelled his name Jorge than differences in my own time line had led to that name being

applied six generations later…to the Japanese boy adopted into the Joestar family. Me. Although my name was still officially spelled Joji. That seemed a bit forced. I mean, I was adopted, I thought. Similarities or differences might arise within history, but that was always within the Joestar bloodline. None of that had anything to do with an adopted son. But anyway, Dio Brando. I knew nothing about him at all.

“Cars, do you know what connection this Dio Brando has with the Joestar family?”

I was a detective, yet here I was asking someone else about my own memories. Oh well. Maybe I wasn’t a great detective. Given the current course of events it seemed unlikely I would ever end up gathering everyone connected to the place in one location and explaining my solution to them. Oblivious to my internal shame, Cars simply answered the question.

“He was adopted by the Joestar family. As Dio Joestar, he died in a train accident in 1889.”

Adopted!? Just like me…!? Cars mouth turned into a projector again, showing us. Kachunk. This time the picture moved, and Car’s ear turned into a speaker so we could hear. I hadn’t heard Grandpa Joseph’s voice in a while. I was a fidgety child, and the image rarely focused on him for long. I wasn’t interested in his story. It was his bedroom, and I was setting on Joseph Joestar’s bed. He said,

“My grandfather Jonathan was a hero. He died trying to stop his adopted brother from robbing a train. D was an even bigger piece of shit than my father. If they hadn’t taken each other out, I’m sure Jonathan would have raised my father properly, and he’d have made this family even greater than we are.”

D must be Dio Brando, so detested Joseph refused to even say his name aloud. But a train robbery? The Joestars were titled aristocrats, wealthy even by the standards of English citizens. What

the hell happened? I can see why the Joestars would want to keep this history secret. But if he’d really died then, he couldn’t have been there in the sky over Cape Canaveral in July, 1999, throwing a metal plate from the Giotto space probe at Pucci’s house. When had Dio Brando become a vampire? Once you’d become a vampire you could hardly live in polite society. Then again, the kind of man who’d plan a train robbery probably didn’t give a shit about polite society.

“Cars, you conquered sunlight, using the stone mask with the Aja Red Stone slotted into it, right? Are vampires also weak to sunlight?”

Shifting his mouth back to normal, Cars replied,

“Of course. Vampires can’t last a second in sunlight. We…the species I once belonged to could operate for a brief period of time in sunlight, and could turn our bodies to soil or metal or burrow into rock and survive partial exposer to sunlight. I assume you’re thinking about Dio Brando?”

“…….!? Yes, but…”

“Vampires have power humans can only dream of. They can heal very quickly, have heightened senses and physical strength, but they don’t have wings. They can’t fly. But in the photo, he was hovering in the air without wings. In 1999, this Pucci fellow had not yet discovered his Stand, and thus could not see it, but this vampire almost certainly has a Stand. Or some similar power.”

Yeah. And a vampire with that kind of power had waited a hundred years to put some massive scheme in motion. Making a fake Way to Heaven to get Pucci moving, sending him to Mars, all to lead Cars, the ultimate thing, back to Earth. Hmm? Wait, I thought, and glanced at Cars, who was grinning at me.

“Heh heh heh, it seems this lowly vampire has the nerve to take a run at me. He must be very confident in his Stand’s ability. I

supposed it was a stroke of luck that the astronauts who came to Mars were Stand Masters. That allowed me to learn about Stands before returning to Earth. It appears Stand powers can ignore the laws of physics, so he might have been able to drop me in a trap I could never have expected…he could perhaps have sent me out into space again without even touching me. But now I’m ready for him. When we reach Earth, I’ll begin by conquering all Stand Masters,”

Cars said, clearly enjoying himself. I remembered what Kishibe Rohan had said.

Stand Masters find themselves drawn to one another, like a magnetic attraction.

I already knew of one place with a great number of Stand Masters. It was floating in the middle of The Ocean. Morioh and Nero Nero Island. The two of them were currently overlapping, and the two islands were surrounded by the American army.

He said if nothing changes, the American army will flip the

island!

The message given to Hirose Kouji. Why was America trying to eliminate Morioh? Did America somehow know that the ship with Cars on it wouldn’t be landing there in six months, but in four hours? The commander in chief of the American army was the President, The Funniest Valentine. His father, Funnier, had just tried to kill all the other astronauts on the dark side of Mars. That

was clearly part of a strategy to grab Cars for their own devices. Had the H. G. Wells blowing up been scripted, and the plan been for Funnier to be like we were now, on a ship with Cars, quietly returned to Earth without the other nations knowing? If Funny Valentine had given Hirose that message because either he was in on his son and grandson’s plan, or because he disagreed with it, that made a lot more sense. Mm, I was sure of it. America knew Cars was coming. They might not yet know that Funnier had been blown up by Narancia on Mars, and might believe it was him on board this ship with Cars, but the army was waiting for this ship to land on Earth. And since he was the ultimate thing, it was safe to assume they would be well prepared; a Stand Master like Funnier might survive it, but an ordinary citizen like me could easily die in the chaos. Crap. I ran over to Narancia, who was still bound to the ceiling, and grabbed the pebble phone out of his back pocket. I hit redial. Tomemememem. Tomemem. At last Shiobana Haruno answered,

“Yes?”

“Hello,”

I said, in Japanese.

“This is Jorge Joestar.”

“Oh. What is it?”

“I was wondering what’s going on down there.”

“I see. Good timing. I needed to call you myself.”

“Did you find Diavolo?”

“No. About the state of affairs here…an hour ago the American army ordered us to leave these waters. Thirty minutes ago they gave us a final warning. And a moment ago an American air force scout plane inexplicably broke apart in the sky over Morioh, and crashed. Villagers went out to rescue them, clashed with Naval forces, and are now fighting. We expect they’ll start bombing Morioh and Nero Nero Island any moment, so we’ve ordered all civilians from both islands to hide underneath Nero Nero Island. But we still haven’t figured out how to control Nero Nero Island, so if it starts moving across Morioh again, everyone

will have to move along with it. Not ideal, but our best available option. We are continuing the hunt for this serial killer, Kira Yoshikage, but no likely suspects have been found, and once America attacks the chaos will make continued investigation nigh impossible.”

He rattled this all off calmly, but whaaat? Fighting? Villagers and the navy!? Only Stand Masters stood any chance of fighting the navy, but even then people without Stands the world over would see the American soldiers aiming their guns at unarmed Japanese citizens. How was the international community allowing this? Bombing? The American attack? How was any of this insane crap happening? I could only assume all of this was being kept secret from the world at large. As if he’d guessed my reaction, Shiobana added,

“They’ve told everyone that terrorists have taken over Morioh and Nero Nero Island, and that the villagers have been driven mad with a weaponized virus, and the terrorists made them attack the Japanese and American soldiers who came to rescue them.

“………….!?”

“There are actual reports of patients in Sardinia and the Touhoku region of Japan going berserk and attacking people. Their symptoms are contagious, and the number of victims is rising. It’s like a zombie movie. The dead bite people, and those bit or who come in contact with their saliva turn and attack other humans. I suppose the key difference from the movies is that there are rumors of flying zombies. At any rate, the world is in a state of panic, and everyone believes that Morioh and Nero Nero Island are the source of the epidemic. They’ve been told the islands set out into The Ocean so they can carry the zombie disease to other lands, and an international emergency safety council meeting is

being held to decide the fate of these two islands. Satellite weapons are already arranged above us, and we believe they’ll be used to blow these islands away. We have to figure out a way to control these islands before that happens.”

I don’t even…zombies? Flying zombies? Since when did things like that exist!? When I said nothing, Shiobana asked,

“By the way, where are you and Narancia?”

“Eh? Uh…outer space.”

“……….? Could you put Narancia on?”

“Oh, sure,”

I said, and handed the pebble phone up to Narancia, who immediately wailed,

“Giornooooooo, it’s me! God damn it, listen!”

And with tears running down his cheeks he began explaining everything that had happened. I staggered a few steps away, and saw Cars grinning at me.

“It’s possible the Stand Masters you want to conquer are about to be wiped out?”

I said. Although that might well not happen. Stand powers were pretty amazing, after all. They might well be able to withstand the American army’s attack. But I was worried. Cars chuckled,

“If you’re worried, then you’d better save them.”

Could he read my mind, too?

“If I could do that this would all be easy.”

“Have you actually thought to see if there’s anything you can do? Human minds moves so slowly, and you lack perseverance. Always giving up so easily.”

What…!? I wasn’t a Stand Master, I was an ordinary human! I opened my mouth to say as much, but thought better of it. Cars wouldn’t say something like that unless he already had an answer in mind. In other words, Cars knew there was something I could

do. There was something I could do, I just hadn’t noticed yet. I would if I thought about it. If my reason for being helpless was that I was an ordinary human then I needed to do something about that. I had just meant I wasn’t the ultimate thing or a Stand Master, but I just had to change that. I could change that. Behind Cars, Enrico Pucci was lying on the floor, still badly hurt, and breathing ragged. He was glowering at outer space, deep in thought. His Stand. White Snake. Two Discs. It could take out a Stand power. The same as reading the memory discs, if you stuck a Stand disc in your head, then would that make me able to use the Stand just like we’d been reading memories?

“Cars,”

I said,

“Can I borrow the disc of your Stand power?”

Cars laughed out loud.

“Ha ha ha, bold move, Jorge Joestar. I thought you were going to ask for my help, but you’d prefer to do something yourself.”

Eh? Oh, was that all? If he was willing to do it for me then by all means, but Cars’ Ashura White Snake was already out, and pulling two discs out of Cars’ head. White Snake and Das Boot. But White Snake was still standing behind Cars. Hunh? I thought.

“It’s a copy,”

Cars said. He really could do anything, I thought, and took the discs from him. I shoved one of them into my head. As I did, Cars said,

“But can a mere human use my power?”

Oh shit, I thought, and everything went black. I’d exploded.

I had literally exploded, and there were still bits of gore dripping off the ship walls, and Narancia on the ceiling and Pucci on the floor were both gaping at me, covered in blood. But my body was back to normal, totally uninjured. Cars was still laughing.

“You really don’t think things through,”

he said. The discs were in

his hand, so he must have taken them out of my head. But he put my body back together before I died. I guess the ultimate thing viewed me as sort of a flesh doll made of bits of bone and blood that he could easily put back together again if anything happened. I was rather grateful he’d let me survive my careless death.

“Thanks, Cars. …can I ask how? I’m pretty sure I was totally dead there.”

“Flesh is a vessel, and the soul is like ice cream made inside. If the vessel breaks, the soul momentarily retains its form. I merely reassembled the vessel before the soul melted away.”

“Ha ha…I think we just casually answered the question,

“What is life?”“

“That was never a question.”

“…okay…but was my ice cream ok? Didn’t spill any?”

“I do not fail. And I’ve already removed the thirty-six souls from the extra mes, so I have experience. But my experience also tells me that you’ve already died a number of times.”

“Hunh?”

“If we extend the ice cream analogy, if you melt ice cream and refreeze it, it doesn’t quite taste the same as it did. The texture changes. Understood?”

“Yeah…”

“It’s exactly like that.”

“So I felt like I was dying? Several different times?”

“Hmm. And your emotional reaction to that damages your soul. I suppose it’s possible.”

“When you turned the extra Cars into fuel and ship parts, did their feelings damage their souls?”

“I sensed nothing like that. The extra mes gave me their lives, and I simply took them.”

“Oh…ok. There’s no point in arguing amongst yourselves?”

“We are the ultimate thing, and there is no discord among

us. We all understand everything. And I did not throw out the souls I removed. They now form a part of me.”

“…did you lick them like ice cream, eating them?”

“The ice cream is a metaphor, fool. Are you really human? What happened to your ability to make sense of things?”

“Ha ha, you sure are smart, Boss Cars.”

“You are merely far too stupid. I can’t believe you’re descended from that crafty Joseph Joestar.”

Well, I am adopted. But I let that be. Grandpa Joseph had definitely taught me a lot. I’d grown up in the Joestar household. So this was pathetic. I was supposed to be a detective, but he kept saying I wasn’t thinking enough and was being far too stupid and he was absolutely right about it. My mind was starting to clear.

“I have to do better,”

I said, mostly to myself. Blood was pumping through my brain.

“I’m Jorge Joestar. The Detective Jojo.”

So I had to think, damn it! The situation was so oppressive my brain was withering and not working properly. Do your job, brain! Everything about this mess was beyond anything I’d previously experienced. But I’d been surprised by all kinds of things before, but I’d always overcome surprise and new experiences by thinking really hard. If I was really a detective, then I’d outwit this case, too! Even if I couldn’t believe in myself, I had faith in my wits!

“You’re right, Cars,”

I said.

“I remember who I am.”

Cars was watching me intently.

“I think deeper and broader than anyone else around.”

“That’s right,”

Cars said.

“But do you really understand the true nature of what Tsukumojuku called the Beyond?”

I truly believe that there is meaning in my meeting you like this.

Tsukumojuku had smiled. Everything has meaning. Of course there was meaning in the fact that I’d met Cars here. Even someone as overwhelming as him was an necessary element for me to perform my role as detective.

I nodded.

“You’re cool with that?”

Cars smiled.

“I have no desire to be the leading man.”

Cars was completely down with the theme Tsukumojuku had brought us. His intelligence was blinding. And thanks to Cars, I was finally emotionally ready to step into the gears of the world. With a healthy clank. I had Cars prepare a reduced power version of the Stand discs for me, and placed one in my head. I first inserted a small sized version of Das Boot: Cars edition, and found the second disc wouldn’t go in. Rohan had mentioned that there was a rule, only one Stand per person. Obviously, Cars was the exception. But that was fine. Das Boot was more useful to me than White Snake at the moment.

“Cars, how long till we reach Earth?”

“Another fifteen minutes.”

“Hunh? We’re that close already?”

“And it seems I’ve run out of time to eat you all.”

“………..”

“But I wasn’t bored. Don’t worry; there’ll be plenty of food back on Earth.”

I really wasn’t worried.

“How did our six month journey turn into four hours?”

“I don’t completely understand it myself. But it seems this astronaut’s Stand has some effect on the flow of time.”

White Snake did? It didn’t just take Stand and memory

discs? Whatever.

“Cars, how much fuel do we have left?”

“As calculated. Just enough.”

“We’ll slow down before entry, right? Can we let some of it outside the ship for a moment when that happens?”

“For a moment, yes. Do as you please.”

But that fuel was extra Cars, wasn’t it? As I thought that, Cars said,

“One always rules all. The other mes know that.”

That’s why the other thirty-six didn’t hesitate to let original Cars turn them into fuel and spaceship parts. I looked up at Narancia, who was still gaping at me, the pebble phone forgotten in his hand.

“He hang up already?”

“Hunh……? Ahhh!”

He quickly put it to his ear again.

“Tch, he hung up! You had to go and blow up all of a sudden. Scared the shit out of me! You OK, dude?”

“Ah ha ha, sorry, I’m fine, I’m fine.”

“You’re fine, you’re fine, my ass. Jesus.”

“Narancia, the American army is about to attack Morioh and Nero Nero Island. I’d like to prevent that.”

“Yeah, Das Boot, right? Run out on the Cars fuel and boom boom boom? Let’s do this shit!”

As out of it has he’d seemed he was clearly following along perfectly well. He wasn’t a ranking gangster for nothing.

“We’re almost at Earth.”

“Heh heh. We’re still alive!”

“The tough part’s still ahead.”

I turned to Cars.

“Can you let Narancia down?”

Cars waved a hand and Narancia was released.

“Woo-hoo! Freeeeeedom!”

“Ha ha.”

I turned to the only actual astronaut on the ship.

“Pucci, we’re almost at Earth.”

“….yeah.”

He staggered to his feet, and moved to the pilot’s seat. He picked up the comm device made from bits of the Giottos,

glanced back at Cars a minute, and opened a channel.

“Houston, this is Lt. Enrico Pucci. Houston, do you read me?”

There was a crackle over the radio, and an answer.

“This is Houston. This is…Pucci, you said? Why are you transmitting on Giotto’s frequency?”

“Because I’m on the Giotto.”

“…who’s with you? Where’s Funnier?”

“Funnier’s dead.”

“…………”

“Soundman and Pocoloco, too. Funnier killed them. Tell the President. There will be an accounting for this crime.”

“Calm down, Pucci.”

“I have never been more calm in my life.”

“…where’s Cars?”

“He’s here.”

“OK. We’ve just pinpointed your location. That…isn’t just one Giotto you’re on. We’ve got the size of it on our monitors. It’s big, and fast. Like something out of Star Wars. Are you controlling that alone?”

“I don’t need to control anything. This thing is made from Cars’ own flesh.”

“………….”

“Tell us the plan to get back to you.”

“….ok, ready to hear it?”

The only reason they had a plan that fast is if they’d already prepared it a long time ago. They were ready for anything. The only difference was the passengers involved. As Pucci and the NASA director hashed out the details, we got closer to Earth. It was growing visibly larger outside our window.

“Wahhhhhhh! Earth!”

Narancia yelled, slapping me on the shoulder.

“We’re home, buddy!”

We’re home. I was relieved, as well. But now we had to

fight.

Cars was looking at Earth, surprised by the vast expanse of blue.

“This is the Earth? Why is there less land?”

I wonder what the Earth looked like before the universe died thirty-six times? Then it occurred to me that maybe I already knew, and I showed Cars the world maps Tsukumojuku and I had exchanged.

“This is the world I knew,”

Cars said. Tsukumojuku had come from the same universe as original Cars. It all connected.

“What you’re seeing now is The Ocean. Panlandia just happens to be on the other side of the planet at the moment.”

“It’s like a water vessel,”

Cars said. There was thunk behind us, and I turned to find Pucci staring at Cars. Was he stunned, or exalted? He looked as if he’d been so surprised he was about to start laughing. What was he thinking?

The spaceship slowed down, and Cars moved over to the pilot seat, stole Pucci’s headset, and said,

“Lord Cars is ready to return. Is the party ready?”

The fact that Cars appeared to be excited made him extra frightening, and Narancia and I both got very quiet. He tossed the headset back to Pucci, and turned to us.

“Apparently we can see our landing site from the window right now. There are two islands stacked on top of each other crossing the ocean, and they’re in our way, so they’re going to get rid of them.”

“………..!”

Narancia and I both went to the window, and stared down

at the round ball of water. The Ocean was vast, and Morioh and Nero Nero Island were too small and too far for our human eyes to make out.

“I can’t see, I can’t see!”

Narancia yelped, so Cars came up behind him, pushed his fingers into the back of his head, pressed a switch somewhere in his head, and adjusted his vision. Narancia immediately said,

“Oh, there it is! I can see it! Shit, shit, shit, there’s smoke and fire everywhere! What the fuck!? It’s like a god damn war zone.”

“Cars,”

I said.

“The fuel, please.”

Cars pulled his hand out of Narancia’s head, and nodded. Black liquid began bubbling out of the ship outside the window. Living fuel, heading towards Earth.

“Narancia, let’s do this. Support fire for Morioh and Nero Nero Island.”

“Ohhhhh, yeah! C’mon, Jorge! Kill the fuck out of anyone threatening my gang!”

I grabbed the pebble phone and called Shiobana.

“Hello?”

“It’s Jorge Joestar. We’re in orbit. We’re going to fire some missiles down at the Americans, so make sure the villagers and islanders are out of the way. And the Stand Masters.”

“Ordinary citizens are already evacuated. All Stand Masters will be under Nero Nero Island in the next few minutes. Fire away.”

“Roger. But please, try to save as many American wounded as possible.”

“…naturally. Fortunately, there are no injured parties from either island yet, so the people are still amenable.”

“Good. Commencing attack.”

“Roger. Thanks.”

I hung up, and turned to Narancia.

“Heard that? We aren’t killing them. We’re disabling their weaponry. Your boss agrees.”

“…tch, fuck it then,”

Narancia grumbled. He pulled out his headset periscope, so I pulled my own out, too.

Since it’s my own power, I can easily grasp what it can do. It was just as Cars said. I didn’t know the specifics of the full range of abilities, but I instinctively knew how to control Das Boot.

“Let’s fuuuuuuuuuuucking goooo, Jorge!”

Narancia yelled.

“Fuck yeaaah!”

I shouted back.

“C’mon, Narancia!”

“Rock and Roll! Dive Dive Diiiiiiiiiiive!”

Our Das Boots surfaced outside the ship, running across the surface of the ejected fuel. Leaving one or two ships inside ourselves, just in case, we both gathered our fleets into one giant submarine each, firing very big missiles.

“All gates open!”

Narancia ordered. I opened the hatches on every torpedo and cruise missile I had.

“I’m going for the units on the East! You go for the West, Jorge!”

I checked my targets in the periscope. All locked on.

“All missiles ready,”

I said.

“FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRREEEE!”

Narancia screamed. I did. Pnt pnt pnt pnt pnt pnt pnt pnt! Pssh pssh pssh pssh pssh pssh pssh pssh pssh Twenty-four torpedoes sped across the fuel, and thirty-two cruise missiles were hurled up into space, and every single one of them headed straight for the Earth. They entered the atmosphere. Real missiles would have burned up on reentry, just like meteors, but Stands didn’t care about physics. They shot towards the two islands at almost exactly the same speed as they’d moved through outer space. Thud thud thud thud thud thud thud! We hit every helicopter and battleship the navy had posted around Morioh all at once. We hadn’t armed the detonators, so none of them exploded. We just needed to defang them.

“Tch… Fucking boooooring,”

Narancia moaned. We fired a second wave. This one hit the landing craft as

they approached the shore, and the ships stationed in the harbor. Thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud! Once again, no explosions, just robbing the ships of their military capabilities.

“Oh, shit, one’s about to sink ♡!”

Narancia chuckled.

“Knock that off. Shiobana promised Passione people would help the rescue efforts.”

“Eh, eh…? Don’t let Giorno know, Jorge!”

“We’re about to start our descent,”

Pucci said, interrupting our celebration.

“Pull your Stands back.”

The ship had been moving towards reentry this whole time, so while we’d been looking through the periscopes we’d moved quite far away from Morioh and Nero Nero Island, and the two islands had vanished over the crest of the planet.

“One more!”

Narancia yelled, and as his Das Boot retreated, it fired a hail of missiles at the satellite weapons. Boooooooom. These exploded. When I looked shocked, Narancia shrugged.

“What? They’re unmanned. And having that shit up in space is scary.”

But now they were space debris, and would cause problems later…but for now, fuck it. Our Das Boots rejoined the ship, and we continued orbiting the Earth, gradually descending.

“Brace yourselves!,”

Pucci said.

“We’re going in.”

Not that he was controlling the ship or anything.

“Let’s go!”

I said. Narancia joined in.

“Go! Back to Earth!”

Just before we hit the atmosphere the pebble phone rang. Plu pon pin para para pon plu pon pin para para pon! Narancia answered.

“Hunh? What, Buccellati? Now’s not a great time.”

The ship was starting to shake, but over the racket I could just make out the voice on the other end of the line.

“We’ve found the bodies of Diavolo and Morioh’s serial killer, Kira Yoshikage! Together! Someone took both of them out!

We don’t know any more yet!”

Hunh? Kira Yoshikage? They’d been taken out!? So Diavolo and Kira Yoshikage were both dead? Already? Both of them? A mafia boss and a serial killer. Wasn’t that good news? I thought, but no, it wasn’t. Diavolo and Kira were, in theory, the ones moving the two islands. If they were both dead then neither one of them could move, and the ship with us and Cars on it was falling, and Stand Masters are drawn together…! Hunh!? Stand Masters are drawn together? I shouted at the pebble phone in Narancia’s hand,

“Tell everyone on the island to run for it! A spaceship’s about to crash on top of them!”

But the phone hung up, and I wasn’t sure if he’d heard me or not. Narancia and I looked at each other. We might survive landing in the water, but we’d almost certainly die if we crashed into land. The ship was wrapped in fire, and the extra Cars were burning up, vanishing without so much as a scream. To slow our descent, we spread our wings, and by the time we were through the clouds the fire had vanished and we could see Nero Nero Island and Morioh out the front window.  Nero Nero Island was standing on six legs on top of Morioh. This was where we died. But Cars would probably survive.

“Sorry, Narancia,”

I said.

“You would never have gone to Mars if you weren’t with me.”

Whoops. Brought an anomaly along, but…it all means something, I’m sure. Bye! Tsukumojuku had brought both of us. And it did have meaning.

“Thanks,”

I said.

“If you hadn’t been there, I’d never have seen the Earth again.”

Tears in his eyes, Narancia said,

“Tch…you gotta make a big

deal about it? I hate sappy shit!”

I laughed, closed my eyes, and wondered who I should be thinking of in my last moments, but inside my brain just started jumping from Tsukumojuku’s arrival to entering Morioh to going to Mars, leaping randomly around different scenes from this adventure, and I found myself mildly impressed by how amazing it had all been. I opened my eyes long enough to confirm that the ship was definitely headed directly at Morioh. Pucci was watching the same scene through the other window.

“So this is the rhinoceros beetle!”

he said. Our ship was headed right for the Arrow Cross House, and when he saw the ship of the roof, Pucci cried out happily,

“And that’s the Via Dolorosa!”

Rhinoceros beetle. Via Dolorosa. Those were two of the fourteen words carved into the back of the Giotto plate.

Via Dolorosa = The Way of Suffering. The last road Jesus Christ walked, dragged past the townsfolk, carrying his cross on his back. It was also called the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross. As we were falling upside-down, the Arrow Cross below us was at our backs. And the spaceship with us and Cars on it crashed directly into the Arrow Cross, and the shock of the impact knocked Nero Nero Island off Morioh, and flipped Morioh upside-down. And as if there had always been another upside-down island underneath Morioh, when Morioh flipped another island rose from the sea. A massive island, 900 times the size of Morioh, that forced the water out away from it, but the American battleships and aircraft carriers were just rocked a little, the wave passing without further incident. The 219,850 km² island that appeared out of nowhere was one no one in our world had ever

heard of – Great Britain. The mythical England.

When I’d stepped off the train in Morioh, and looked at the map of the town it had seemed familiar. Just before we hit, I’d seen it from the sky, and remembered that feeling. Had I been here before? That was all in my head. I had just been remembering the map of the world Tsukumojuku had drawn for me, and recognized the shape of England. But since it had been backwards, I hadn’t recognized it. I hate saying that only human, but I clearly had to work on my observation skills. If I’d worked harder, maybe I’d have survived!


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