Jorge Joestar Chapter 16: Beyond II

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Note: This is the last chapter, i added some picture on old chapters

Through my eyelids I could tell the blinding light that had enveloped us was dying down. I opened my eyes to see the night sky, with the moon and stars shining down on us. The giant Antonio Torres hanging from the sky let out a long sigh, and as if that was the signal, Dio spoke.

“I’ve been waiting for this night for a hundred years,”

he said. He’d been standing bolt upright on the deck of Das Boot, grinning confidently, as if thirty-six times through the birth and death of the universe was nothing to him. (Next to him, Funny Valentine had closed his eyes, covered them with his hand, and turned his back to avoid the blinding light, much like we had.)

“Cars! The wait had been unbearable. Not to eat you, I already know what you taste like. No, I’m just so excited to finally stand at the pinnacle of the world, of the universe, of all history, recorded or otherwise! I am in sight of that goal at last! All that’s left is to step up and claim my place! Cars! Bwa ha ha ha! My very soul is quivering, so certain is my victory!”

Cars, too, had paid no mind to the compressed light of 36 universe’s history washing over him. He put his hands on his hips, looking down at Dio with a faint smile on his lips.

“Hmph. So be it. Come at me, vampire.”

Dio moved his arm out in front of him so fast it made an audible whoosh, and waggled his finger tips slightly.

“The name of your new emperor is Dio! And as your emperor, you will come to me, Cars!”

Cars betrayed no irritation at Dio’s indomitable smile. His own smile grew still larger. He was clearly enjoying this. It was the happiest I’d ever seen him. I backed away, keeping Penelope behind me. Narancia also quietly stepped behind me.

“What the fuck, these guys are nuts!”

he muttered, but I thought him saying that was a sign of his own strength. My knees were knocking and my teeth were chattering and basically everything was shaking and it was super pathetic. My only comfort was the tight grip on my sleeve Penelope had; she was clearly every bit as scared as me. Having a scared girl around was the only thing that kept me from completely losing it.

“Heh heh heh. Seems you’ve managed to sip a drop or two of my blood somewhere, vampire,”

Cars chuckled.

“What more do you want? You’ve conquered the sun, will not die or age. What else is there? You know full well your body can never become the true Ultimate Thing, as I have. What’s the appeal of being this ‘pinnacle’ you speak of? I merely wanted to conquer the sun. I personally slaughtered most of my kind in the war, then lost all of my kind that remained, and at last achieved my goal only to find myself alone. You waited a hundred years? I’ve waited a quadrillion. In all this universe, as far as my abilities reach, only Earth has any life worth mentioning. This is the only place in all the universe where life is worth living. Vampire, you are immortal. There is no need for you to rush into death here.”

But Dio just kept beckoning.

“A quadrillion years spent not bothering to think can’t begin to compare to the hundred years I spent furiously busy.”

Still smiling, Cars stared at Dio for a while, then let out a long breath.

“Very well. As you have gnawed on my life, you will be a prime opportunity to test the limits of my life force. Perhaps I do need to experiment on just how a body that cannot die may die.”

He dropped down to the deck. Dio waited, grinning.

“That’s what piqued my curiosity, too. Can’t die and can’t be killed are two different things, after all. Can’t have someone pulling an idea I never thought of out of their ass later on, so better to find out the truth right here. But curiosity is a secondary concern; more than anything else I simply want to make

you not exist. Ensuring no clever little bastards think to sip your blood and flesh so that they might stand a chance against me.”

Cars strode forward.

“Heh heh. I need hardly point out that the clever little bastard is you, vampire.”

“My name is Dio Brando. Remember it well.”

“I’m not in the habit of naming food.”

“Your species has worn the crown long enough. It’s time to meet the new boss, Cars.”

“Don’t project your boundless ego on me. I know perfectly well there are hierarchies between species.”

“Ha! There are. Strength and weakness alone provide one.”

“Then that very thought will prove your undoing.”

“Like I said – I am only here to prove what I already know.”

Funny Valentine removed Dio’s cape, folded it, and stepped back as Cars reached Dio at last.

“Come on!”

Dio yelled.

“Mwa ha ha ha ha! Time to dance, Cars! This is the first step!”

“Heh heh. Unable to wait after all.”

“Useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless!”

Bam! Cars burst into dust like a popped balloon, bits of him flying in all directions.

“Auuugh!”

Those of us on the bridge screamed as one. Bits of Cars’ blood and flesh hit us so hard we were sent flying. Thank God I’d put Penelope behind me. Minced Cars meat stabbed my face and body, breaking my bones, puncturing my organs, and stripping away my flesh. Nnnnn!? I was just a bystander and I was already in critical condition! On the brink of death!

“Jorge Joestar! Ahhhhh!”

Penelope screamed and Narancia yelled,

“Shit! I gotta get Das Boot put away!”

And his submarine shrank so rapidly I was

left standing on nothing. But just before the bridge left me behind, Narancia yelled,

“Wait, wait!”

and grabbed me, pulling me along as he rode a one meter long Das Boot like a skateboard, carrying me like a princess as Penelope clung to my neck as we hurtled through the trees. Ollie, nollie, kickflip, heelflip, totally unnecessary moves but bounding farther away from Dio and then the bits of Cars in me started wriggling and the pain was insane.

“Auuuughhhhhhh!”

Cars’ bones and flesh and blood were crawling out of me and it felt like infinite fishing hooks were yanking my skin in all directions, peeling it off me and then splat! All the bits went flying out of me and blood sprayed everywhere and my vision went woozy. Cars was still alive. Even pulverized, even as a single drop of blood. I could just about see Cars reforming, headed away from us.

“Fuck knows what’s going on but we gotta get the shit outta here! Ain’t nobody got enough lives to survive that crap!”

Narancia said, but my hearing was fading out.

“Ahhh! Jorge Joestar! Don’t!”

Penelope yelled, squeezing my arm. I woke up. I’d only been out for an instant, though, so it wasn’t like I was healed up or…wait. I was unhurt. Cars had healed me as he left my body. It had hurt like hell but I was fine now. And Penelope worked that out, too.

“……..? Jorge Joestar? Hunh? What are you doing?”

“Just enjoying your warm embrace.”

“You devil!”

“Who the fuck…?”

Narancia said, and someone slapped my head, but the slapper was someone new who said,

“Hunh? What?”

A girl’s voice, one I didn’t recognized.

“Wait, who is this Jorge?”

I opened my eyes and saw a beautiful girl with long hair, riding a surfboard made of leaves somehow stuck together, riding the length of one tree branch after another alongside Narancia’s Das Boot. A Stand Master? A Goddess?

“Elizabeth!”

Penelope said.

“Thank goodness! You’re alive!”

“Oh, um, sorry! I heard your voice and came running but… Who is this guy?”

I produced my card from my chest pocket.

“A pleasure to meet you. I’m Jorge Joestar, detective.”

“………..”

Perhaps not a line to use while being carried princess style by an Italian gangster.

“Hmm,”

Elizabeth said, but she took the card anyway.

“…this is Japanese?”

“Oh, the back’s in English.”

“No, I can read Japanese,”

she said, in Japanese, and not in some heavy foreign accent but with perfect intonation. AMAZING!

“All the boys love Elizabeth,”

Penelope said, as if it was a foregone conclusion, but she was gorgeous, too!? Maybe not the time to insist upon it.

“If you’re fine then get down. This shit’s creepy,”

Narancia said, and he made Das Boot the size of a small fishing boat and put me and Penelope down on it and Elizabeth hopped her surfboard down and as she landed all the leaves scattered, blowing behind us. It was so graceful I kinda gawked at it and said,

“That’s a really cool Stand,”

but Elizabeth said,

“It’s not a Stand. It’s Hamon.”

Um. Hamon? Oh, right, the people that fought vampires and zombies! Penelope had mentioned them when she was telling the story of the other Jorge Joestar’s life. Then this must be Jorge Joestar’s childhood friend and wife! Right, right. Oh. Hmph.

“The zombies seemed to be gathering in London again so I came to see what they were up to,”

Elizabeth said.

“And here’s Dio at last. But he’s way more intense than I remember from the box. And that other guy’s just as insane, who is he?”

“Um,”

I said, and hesitated. In a few decades, Elizabeth would end up fighting Cars, and witness his transformation into Ultimate Cars. Along with her son,

Joseph. Should I really tell her? Would I cause a time paradox and split us off into a parallel world? But only someone from the 21st century would think to think that because Penelope just flat out said,

“He’s called Cars. I dunno who he is, but he seemed to know Joseph. These people are from the future, and they seem to know a lot about what’s going on, so ask them!”

Uh oh, I thought, but Elizabeth just shook her head.

“Nope. I’ve learned you can’t do anything about fate.”

“Tom Petty’s prophecies?”

“………..”

“Elizabeth, I haven’t given up.”

“………..?”

“We will find Jorge. And we’ll bring him back to you.”

“But…”

“I just wanted to do something. I’ve been with Erina all this time, and thought that was being with Jorge, but I was never really with him. You were always off in some distant land, but you were actually with Jorge all the time. And now Jorge is gone, too, but Joseph is here, so all this time I’ve been thinking I’ve got to get Elizabeth to come home. But I knew you were sad, and angry, and you can be pretty scary, and I knew you couldn’t come back to be with Joseph, so I didn’t know what to do. Same reason you kept your distance from Jorge. You didn’t want to lose him, so you left and stayed as far from him as you could. You tried to keep that up but finally you couldn’t stand it any more and you were together at last but on your wedding day, Jorge…disappeared. When I imagine your grief and remorse I know why you can’t be with Joseph. But today I met another Jorge Joestar, this one, the Japanese one. And I changed my mind about that. Really crazy things happen in this world. And if something this crazy can happen, miracles, dreams, hopeless desires…all of those things might come true, too. And maybe this Jorge Joestar’s name is a sign, and he’ll show us the

way. So with no warning whatsoever I begged Erina to let me go, and came with them. I thought at least we’d manage to find you. If we used ‘Jorge Joestar’ as bait. Ah ha ha ha. And we found you already! So now I’m extra sure. I will find Jorge. The real Jorge Joestar. This other Jorge Joestar will show us the way, be our bait, be our decoy, be a trap we set, whatever it takes to find the real Jorge Joestar, and bring him back to you. I don’t know why, but I know I can do that now.”

“…Penelope…”

The two beautiful women stared deeply into each other’s eyes, and I felt like the Jorge Joestar of this world must have led a truly blessed life.

“Yo, yo, look at that…!”

Narancia said. Mildly annoyed by this interruption, I looked where he was pointing, and saw Dio and Cars punching each other. Each time one made contact, Bam! Bam! They’d explode, and then reassemble their pulverized bodies just to punch back. The explosions were getting more violent, and they were putting themselves back together faster each time. It was like dark red fireworks moving through the air flickering and blooming. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Ba-bam. And both were smiling ear to ear.

“Enjoying their immortality,”

I said, disgusted. I felt sick to me stomach.

“But maybe not just that,”

Elizabeth said, and I noticed she was looking somewhere else, and turned to find Great Britain had been traveling east all this time and the sky was growing lighter… Wait, this wasn’t sunrise, it was sunset…! We’d been going west, faster than the speed of the Earth’s rotation, and had caught up with evening. We must be going at least 460 meters per second. Faster than the speed of sound. So? The cliff we were standing on was at the very front end of Great Britain, and we should be hearing the sound of the island rushing

through the waves, but we were going so fast we left it behind. Was that why it was so eerily quiet?

“I believe Dio has a strategy in mind, and is buying time,”

Elizabeth said. I could see land on the Western horizon, and as it grew closer I realized what it was. The United States. I could even make out Manhattan Island. In the orange light of evening, the fourth rhinoceros beetle. There almost certainly was something there.

“Like the sun’s rising from the west,”

Penelope said. Hmm? I thought. The sun rising from the west? It felt like a long time ago but I’d heard that phrase this morning, in the Arrow Cross House. The morning Tsukumojuku was murdered. But that wasn’t like this, the sun wasn’t actually rising in the west, just when the sun rose the arrow that points west was instead pointing to the rising sun. Which reminded me of another thing I couldn’t believe I’d actually forgotten. ‘Sun rising from the west’ was literally the meaning of my home town’s name, Nishi Akatsuki. A detective who’d come to Nishi Akatsuki had been killed the morning the sun rose in the ‘west’, and to solve this murder a detective from Nishi Akatsuki was now watching the sun rise in the west. And now I remembered one more thing. Manhattan Island’s tip was a corner of this universe’s Bermuda Triangle. The triangle that had sent Tsukumojuku to Nishi Akatsuki…!

It felt like something awful was closing in around us. For a while I stared at the western sunrise, letting the feeling nag at me, until three American Air Force fighters scrambled from shore came flying towards us, and brought me back to reality. Didn’t seem like they were gonna let us make it as far as the Bermuda Triangle, I thought. Only natural. They were flying towards us at mach speed.

They passed by without any sound reaching us, dropping missiles that exploded soundlessly off the barrier…inside the belly of the giant Antonio Torres.

“Unhhhh!”

The suspended upper half of his body appeared again, screaming.

“That’s a hell of a bomb…!”

Elizabeth said. Penelope went white as a sheet.

“I doubt it can get through,”

I said.

“The barrier covering us is really strong.”

There were two or three more waves of bombs, but the fire just rolled out along the barrier surface…the only difference from Morioh was that Antonio Torres made a fuss about it each time.

“Raaahhhhhhh!”

“Nuhhhhhhhaaaaa!”

“It huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuts!”

“Make them stoooooooooooooooop!”

He writhed around upsidedown, shrieking, and I glared up at him…and saw something.

“Hunh? Who’s that?”

There was someone standing near giant Antonio’s waist. Not wearing a space suit, so not Pucci…it was wearing a slim-fit coat and gloves. President Funny Valentine! He was walking across the surface of the barrier using his giant frog Stand, ignoring the explosions and fighter planes overhead, making directly for us. Funny had come to Morioh, too, but having seen Funnier’s fate with my own eyes, what could he have to say to us? I didn’t know what he was after, but I was scared. What was it he’d said in Morioh? If nothing changes, the American army will flip the island. Right, that was it.

“The island”

then was Morioh. Had they flipped Morioh? The American army? How could they do that? Morioh was floating, but it wasn’t a dinghy, it was an island! No way you could just flip something that big! Admittedly, the islands moving of their own accord was equally impossible, so perhaps I couldn’t say that for certain. The wind outside the barrier must be really intense, but the

frog crawled along on all fours, and then Funny climbed off its back without any apparent difficulty. He was holding a large piece of paper in his hands. A message. He spread it out on the surface of the barrier, facing us. Narancia grabbed a pair of binoculars off the bridge, set them to maximum magnification, and took a look.

“Co… Cora…geh? Coragay?”

That seemed wrong.

“Let me have them,”

I said, and pretty much just snatched them out of his hands, and he got mad about that but fuck it, I could read the sign.

COURAGE

Courage?

“Just one word?”

I said.

“It is some sort of code?”

Had he maybe gone senile, and had just gotten lost and wound up here? Seemed unlikely.

“That’s a warning. Directed at all of you.”

We turned around, and young Funny Valentine, the one Dio had brought from the past, was standing behind us. As we turned he spread out a cape, and flung it out around me. It was the one Dio had been wearing earlier.

“Do not fear what you are about to see,”

Funny said, and just before the cape covered the two of us Elizabeth hissed, and a brutal fist shot under the cape, slamming into Funny’s cheek.

“Hunh…argh! auauauauau!”

Funny’s face went flying up down left and right but the cape came down on us. When I pushed it off, Das Boot was gone, and Elizabeth and Penelope were nowhere to be seen. We were in the middle of a red desert, nothing but boulders and rocks, on the edge of a long,

straight, unpaved road.

“Aaughh aaughh blargh argh hahh hahh…”

Funny’s face finally stopped twitching, and he staggered but managed to stay on his feet somehow.

“Who…who the hell is that woman!?”

he said, gasping for breath. His face was all swollen, his handsome completely ruined. He was unrecognizable. A moment before he’d been slim, fit, and now his body sagged, the rounded figure of a man who indulged too much. Even his body was swollen? But as I watched he recovered, returning to the handsome man I’d seen before. Hamon. I didn’t know how it worked, but she could gather leaves and make them stick together, and make a single punch inflict damage over time. Moisture was the only thing I could think that leaves and human bodies had in common, and ‘Hamon’ meant ripple, so perhaps it was a power that sent ripples through the moisture in living things. While she was in contact, the ripples kept going, and after she let go they’d take a while to die down… So…where were we? The redness was somewhat like the Martian landscapes I’d seen a few hours ago, but it wasn’t that. It didn’t seem like I was in a dream or an illusion. This place actually existed somewhere. It was real. The smell and the feel of it were real. Not the same sort of real you think you’re experiencing in a dream or creation. Like if I kicked a pebble there was too much information. When he caught his breath, Funny said,

“I’m sorry. I’ve kept you waiting. It looks like we’re right on time.”

I followed his gaze, and a car was coming towards us down the desert road. It left a towering cloud of red dust behind it. It was a classic Bentley, a Drophead Coupe. The driver was wearing sunglasses, and letting his long curls fly in the open seat breeze. I’d seen those curls before…standing right next to me. It was another Funny Valentine.

“Have we…traveled in time?”

I asked.

“Not in time,”

Funny said.

“Across worlds. Just a little step sideways into a parallel world.”

“…those actually exist? Or are you creating them with your Stand?”

“……! Hmm…worlds created by my Stand, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap? The possibility never occurred to me.”

But there was definitely a world here that his Stand had brought us to. A parallel world, hunh?

“Mr. President, do you know who I am?”

I was a detective, if not a particularly famous one, but even so it was possible people overseas had heard of me. But I was a detective in modern times, in 2012. This Funny was President of the United States of America in 1920.

“Lately, yes,”

Funny said, as the Bentley the other Funny was driving pulled up.

“Hi, Jorge Joestar,”

the other Funny said.

“…? You know me, too?”

“Hop in,”

‘Funny’ said, ignoring the question. Yeah, but it was a two-seater. I was super not up for being in a Funny Valentine sandwich, but then the ‘Funny’ driving said,

“Enjoy,”

opened the door, and got out. Hunh? In the middle of nowhere?

“Is another car coming?”

I asked. ‘Funny’ stared off in the distance, so I turned to look. Three cars were tearing across the desert in the distance. Kicking up so much dust I couldn’t actually make out the cars themselves.

“They’re in a big hurry,”

I said.

“It’s a race,”

‘Funny’ said.

“The Steel Ball Run. This is the second stage. The event’s only just begun but already it’s packed with thrills. Success is a foregone conclusion…at least, as far as the event itself goes.”

The Steel Ball Run?

“I read about that in history. This is it, hunh? But what is the President doing here? Isn’t this more of a

local shindig?”

“The Steel Ball Run has never once been a ‘local shindig’,”

‘Funny’ said. He reached into his chest pocket, and pulled out a book.

“Part of the holy scriptures. Nine volumes in all. I’ve ordered my men and their associates to collect and recover these.”

“Hunh…? If this is Steel Ball Run, this is America, right? And the second stage was Monument Valley. If you’re using the Steel Ball Run to gather those books…I mean, you’re the President. Can’t you just have people look for them normally?”

“It requires foreshadowing and flow.”

Foreshadowing and flow? Oh, I knew that feeling. You don’t get things to shape up right, you can’t get the result you want.

“What’s in the book?”

I asked, but before I could look closer he slipped the ‘holy scripture’ back in his pocket. It was a very old book, and it looked ready to crumble or fall apart if it was handled at all roughly, so I didn’t press the point.

“…so, uh,”

I said.

“In my adopted family, one of our ancestors was in the Steel Ball Run. It was a horse race across the entire country then, but you’re using cars this time?”

“It changes,”

‘Funny’ said.

“Sometimes it’s horses, other times cars. It’s even been planes and blimps. In your world and in this parallel world.”

Mm?

“In my world it was horses.”

“That is not a ‘world’; merely a universe between an end and a beginning. When I say ‘world’ I mean the entire series of universes. What lies there is not just space, but a history that repeats with minor variations.”

“………….”

“Once a universe passes, in the next universe history begins anew – similar, but distinct. The history of a ‘world’ is a spiral staircase of different universes.”

Spiral Staircase.

One of the fourteen words…! Come to think of it, Funny and Pucci had exchanged a few words I hadn’t understood.

“I am me but at the same time I am not. How can this be true? I believe you know the answer, Father Pucci.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Please share!”

“Because I can make a connection. Because I can’t make the connection.”

“………..!”

“Because what I create is the Spiral Staircase.”

“Very good!”

At the time, it had been complete nonsense, but thinking it over now, perhaps it meant as follows. By I am me but at the same time I am not, he meant that history repeated itself, but with variations. As the universe looped, Funny would be born again as Funny, and live a similar life, but not the same one. Or perhaps their identities weren’t the same in the first place. Because I can make a connection. Because I can’t make the connection. Because what I create is the Spiral Staircase meant Pucci’s Stand that could speed up time had been used by one Pucci or another to reach the next universe, attempting to connect history and create a ‘loop’. And he didn’t believe it was a failure on his part that instead of a true loop, he’d made a spiral staircase. When I said this, ‘Funny’ nodded.

“I have no idea if this is Pucci’s fault, or if it was always destined to turn out this way. But Dio considers this Pucci’s sin, and has punished him accordingly.”

Pucci was gone.

“Punished how?”

“I don’t know. But I know for sure he won’t return.”

“Mr. President, as the American President, why are you working with this Dio? As more or less his henchman? And who is this Dio, anyway? All I really know is the Dio from 36 universes ago wasn’t just a thug who robbed a train. He seems to be fighting Cars more or less evenly, so…what is he? Is he not human?”

“He’s a vampire who drank the blood of the ultimate being. But that’s not what makes him really terrifying.”

“………..?”

“In the Steel Ball Run in your universe,”

‘Funny’ suddenly changed the subject.

“I believe they gathered nine Holy Grails, was it? And Johnny Joestar played a major role, although he was forced to drop out along the way.”

“? Is that right? I don’t really know much about him. Um, can we get to the point?”

“………..”

“Why did you bring me here?”

“There’s one thing even Dio doesn’t know,”

‘Funny’ said, suddenly completely serious. Here we go.

“…………what?”

“Earlier, when Pucci was explaining the meanings of the fourteen words, did he say something about the word ‘singularity’ appearing twice?”

“It was pretty vague, but something about time and the connections between people?”

“Yes. But that is very vague, isn’t it? You see, that was only a flow that ‘I’ created for Pucci, that allowed him to believe what he wished to believe.”

“…but he ended up with that nutso Stand?”

“Producing that was our goal. It was all calculated. By Dio Brando.”

“…but there’s something about the ‘Singularity’ bits he hasn’t completely done the math on?”

“Exactly. You aren’t a detective for nothing, I see.”

“?”

“Listen, and remember this. ‘Singularity’ appears twice. If you compare the universe repeating in the real world to the similar but distinct parallel worlds, there are things that only exists one time. There is no other instance of these, not even anything similar to them. The first is the body of the holy man, the pieces of which were being hunted behind the scenes of the very first Steel Ball Run in the real world.”

“The holy man…!?”

“Yes. And the second singularity is you, Jorge Joestar.”

“An abandoned Japanese kid adopted by the Joestar family who becomes a detective. You are born only once in this world, and there is no replacement for you in any other universe, or in any parallel world.”

Hunh, I thought. But I figured that response wouldn’t quite cut it so I stayed quiet and tried to think. First, we couldn’t prove that. Funny had called out this other ‘Funny’ to provide evidence that parallel worlds existed and worked as he said – that they were similar but different. But in fact this was just…well, maybe that was a weird way to put it, but it could be time travel or teleportation of some kind, and the other ‘Funny’ could just be Funny’s twin and actually had a different name and was trying to trick me for some reason. All of this was information overload and I hadn’t varified any of it myself. If I chose to doubt it there were any number of

ways to doubt it, and the worlds this ‘Funny’ could access with his Stand, Dirty Whatever, were too many and too large. Had he really been able to search them properly? Parallel worlds were…I mean, my source was realistic sci-fi novels, but anyway, the theory was that any minute difference would create a parallel world. Having one hair more or less would do it; the timing of a drop of water from a leaky faucet being one second early or later would do it. I had no idea how the parallel worlds Dirty Whatever visited were created, but without the ability to investigate them myself, it came down to me deciding to take ‘Funny’ at his word, and I was professionally incapable of taking anybody at their word. And secondly, so what? What did they want from me?

“So I can’t actually do anything though?”

I said, which I guess wasn’t much better than

“Hunh”

as far as responses went. But ‘Funny’ just laughed.

“We aren’t expecting any specific action on your part. We just want you to believe what I said.”

“That part’s kinda hard. I’m doubtful by occupation.”

“…heh heh. Feel free to doubt as you like. You thought a while before answering, right? Do as you always do, and don’t let those wheels stop spinning. I don’t want you to have faith in me. I want you to have faith in yourself. I want you to believe that there is no one who can take your place.”

? That seemed a little different than believing in myself. It sounded more like the certainty that I could do this that happened when I was using Beyond. When I failed to say anything, ‘Funny’ kept talking.

“Listen, Jorge Joestar. I don’t need an answer from you. I just want you to believe. …it’s almost time. You should get in the car and leave this place.”

He opened the passenger side door, I got in, and he shut it after me. Then he handed his sunglasses to the original Funny in the driver’s seat. As he took them, Funny said,

“Thanks. I’d have

preferred to handle this alone, but…”

“I understand, of course.”

In the blink of an eye, a humanoid Stand with rabbit-like ears moved from Funny to the other ‘Funny’.

“All yours.”

“I got this.”

Then Funny put the sunglasses on, and drove the Bentley away, leaving the other ‘Funny’ behind. So what was ‘Funny’ going to do in the middle of the desert? Wait, was I fucked now? Dirty Whatever had brought us to this parallel world, but if he’d handed it over, what now? Were we stuck in this world now? Was Funny not planning on taking me back to my world?

“Uh, what about your Stand?”

“It’ll come back eventually.”

“?”

The rule was one Stand per person. The ‘Funny’ from this parallel world might not have Dirty Whatever, but what he going to use that Stand to do? I looked at ‘Funny’ in the mirror, and saw a massive cloud rising up behind him. I turned around to get a better view. There was yellow and green in the cloud, and it was truly a dreadful sight. I was fully awake, but the feeling was the same as that moment where you realize you’re having a nightmare. ‘Funny’ made sure we were safely away, and then turned to face the cloud.

“What is that cloud…?”

I asked.

“The Cars from this parallel world,”

Funny answered.

“The other me is going up against him one more time.”

“What for?”

“To conquer Cars.”

“………….!”

So that terrifying man was somewhere inside that massive rolling cloud? And the Cars from this world appeared to be very angry.

“We told him this was but a parallel world, and he and everything in it weren’t real,”

Funny said.

“I’ve fought that living nightmare any number of times in different parallel worlds. Looking for a way to seal him or send him away. Allowing something as fearsome as that man to live free is always a threat,”

said the President of the ‘free’ country. Behind us came a loud crack crack boom of lightning striking and I looked back to see Cars standing there, his hair in a single braid, his arm through the chest of this world’s ‘Funny’. His eyes met mine.

“I’ve never once defeated him,”

Funny said.

“But I’ve done my best to learn from him. And I’ll put that to use and beat him in the battle to come.”

Cars tossed ‘Funny’ aside, and Dirty Whatever floated away, swooping back towards us. Returning to its original owner. But Cars was flying after it…!

“So you’re the one who made this world? I did not give you permission, and I will not allow it!”

he yelled, clouds billowing up behind him. He was so terrifying I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Next to me, Dirty Whatever disappeared back inside Funny, and he shouted,

“Let’s go, Jorge Joestar! As a singularity, you have a duty to witness everything!”

“I do not!”

I yelled back, and then couldn’t stop myself from screaming in horror as Cars got closer.

“Aughhhh!”

Funny had the Bentley going at top speed, and he yanked the steering wheel so hard the car couldn’t handle the curve and began to roll. As the world went upside-down and I was too scared to even scream Funny said,

“I’ll say this once more, so remember it well! You are the only one like you in all the world, Jorge Joestar!”

Was that anything to scream while deliberately trying to kill us both in a car you crashed!? The upside-down Bentley’s driver’s side touched down first, and I saw half Funny’s head get torn off, and before I could even think ‘ugh’ my face slammed into a nearby

rock.

But I was still alive.

“Aughhh!”

I opened my eyes screaming and found myself lying on stone pavement, unharmed, in a square of some kind and the first thing I saw was a water fountain with a winged angel statue. Eros, the famous tourist attraction, so this was London, the West End, Piccadilly Circus. Even since the place had been built in 1819, it had been packed with people, but there were no people here now. Because it was occupied by zombies. Around the fountain and on the stairs and benches and roofs and street and abandoned horse carriages were the remains of zombie corpses and piles of dust. The light of the evening sun had hit, and they’d all died. Well, not all; I could heard groans and screeches coming from the insides of nearby buildings. The entrance to the subway was like a full on zombie choir. My heart still pounding, I looked west, and the sun was shining between the buildings of London. I couldn’t be sure where Great Britain was headed next, but if it stopped, the sun would soon set again, and the zombies that had survived in the shadows of the buildings would come flooding out onto the streets again. Seeing me staring at the dark entrance to Piccadilly Station, Funny said,

“Joestar, no need to pay them any heed.”

He wasn’t dead either. He still had all his head!

“Look!”

he pointed at the sky, and I turned to see a giant Antonio Torres torso growing out of the sky, clutching his throat in pain.

“Unhhhhhh blarghhhhhh!”

His giant mouth split open and he puked out a military helicopter. It was off balance at first, but soon recovered and flew down above London, headed right for this square.

“His honor, the President of the United States,”

Funny said.

“The Funniest Valentine, another ‘me’ and another ‘grandson’.”

There was a circular emblem with a bald eagle on the side of the massive chopper; the Grand Seal of the United States.

“And here come our two stars,”

Funny said. I followed his gaze, and saw two figures flying towards us, buildings in the West End exploding in their wake. Obviously, this was Dio and Cars, but following them were three giant Das Boot submarines flying close together. They were sailing across the treetops, heedlessly smashing any buildings in their way, and firing a constant barrage of missiles. Boom boom boom boom! Exploding all around Dio, who wasn’t making any particular effort to avoid or dodge them. Several missiles scored direct hits, and his body was momentarily blown apart, but it reassembled instantly, and Dio remained alive. Occasionally a missile would miss Dio and hit Cars, blowing him up, but he was back a moment later, too. This was hopeless, I thought. They’d never have a winner. Neither one could ever die, no matter how much damage they did to each other. And both of them had figured that out a long time ago, and I could hear their laughter on the wind. Bwa ha ha mwah ha ha. They seemed to be having the time of their lives, trashing the shit out of the city. And then from the back of the rubble came a wave of sand that swept over the buildings and swallowed Dio. Cars appeared to have added Goyathlay Soundman’s sand Bound to his repertory. Pulling Dio with it, the rubble sea came flooding towards us, turned into a whirlpool near the square that rose up into a giant pillar of rubble. More and more rubble was pulled into it and the size of it expanded, and the density grew thicker and when at last it stopped swirling it was over 300 meters tall, and 200 meters across, made of almost solid rock like a giant mortar built right next to Piccadilly Circus. Without so much as a glance in our direction, Cars daintily landed at the tip of the Eros fountain, and laughed at Dio.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! How’s that? The strength of that is

dozens of times these puny buildings!”

But we could hear a faint sound growing from inside the pillar. Thud. Thud. Thud thud. Thud thud thud. Thud thud thud thud thud thud thud!

“Useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless useless!”

Thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud! Booom! A hole erupted in the side of the pillar, and Dio leapt out, half-naked, and we just gaped at him and Cars kept laughing.

“Ha ha ha ha ha! Well done! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

Dio brushed the dust off his shoulders, laughing.

“Whether we fight physically or with Stands, nothing either of us does seems capable of overcoming our immortality.”

“Yet,”

Cars said.

“But I am still learning about Stands. I may not be able to kill you, but I may be able to send you away. The same way I myself was once defeated!”

Dio sighed.

“But I’m unable to acquire further Stands, so I must have others fight for me. Cars, I won’t give you time to learn more about Stands! You’re the one who will be sent away! Into another dimension, ensuring you will never again return to this world!”

Then he raised a hand to the hovering helicopter, wagged the tips of his fingers ever so slightly, and the door of the chopper opened, and I saw the current President of the United States in person for the first time. The Funniest Valentine had his curls cut short, but was otherwise identical to Funny.

Another ‘me’ and another ‘grandson’. By my side, Funny let out a long breath.

“Come on down, my minion, The Funniest!”

Dio said, and swung his arm down hard. The Funniest leapt out of the helicopter with no parachute. The other passengers looked alarmed, but The Funniest himself was completely calm.

“And your time to shine, Funny!”

At Dio’s cue, Funny broke into a run, headed for the place where The Funniest was about to land. Right next to the Piccadilly Circus fountain, Funny stopped, braced himself, and spread out his arms as The Funniest fell into them, and Funny didn’t catch him, but clapped his hands together. And with that, The Funniest was gone. Ah ha. Getting hit in the head didn’t send you to a parallel world, getting trapped between things did. Funny spread his hands again, and turned towards Cars.

“Dojaaaaaaaan!”

he said, grinning.

“………..? A magic trick?”

Cars said, still not clear on how Funny’s Stand worked.

“What do you think?”

Funny asked. Cars scratched his chin.

“Hm. Doesn’t matter either way. You get near me, you die.”

“I’ll do just that. But you’ll never see me coming.”

“………..?”

“Here I come!”

Funny yelled, and broke into a run. Cars was ready for him, but unlike Dio, Funny was running on real human legs and didn’t seem particularly fast, but just as Cars confidently spread his hands to grab him it was like some frames dropped from the film I was watching. Not fast forward, like a moment of time skipped. Funny was in mid-jump one moment, and the next he’d already clapped his hands together. With a huge smile, Funny said,

“Dojaa…”

and trailed off. He

must have thought Dirty Whatever had sent Cars to that parallel world, but Cars was still standing right where he was. He’d bent the upper half of his body like a crochet hook to avoid Funny’s clap.

“Whaaat…!?”

Dio said, which made it clear that momentary time skip that had assisted Funny’s attack was his doing. Beside Funny stood a humanoid Stand with what looked like air tanks on its back. Cars looked at this and also said,

“What!?”

I guess he was surprised because Dio had not shown his Stand the whole time they were fighting. He’d kept it in reserve for this exact moment. And even thought his Stand attack had been timed perfectly, Cars’ reflexes had been far greater than Dio or Funny had ever imagined.

“…tch, don’t just stand there, Funny! One more time!”

Dio yelled, and time began to skip all over the place. Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap Funny never even hit the ground, just came after Cars with everything he had but every time his hands came together Cars’ contorted his body further out of the way, slipping through Funny’s grasp.

“God damn!”

Funny said, impressed despite himself with the speed of Cars’ reaction. I’d figured out what Dio’s Stand power was. It could stop the flow of time. Dio’s Stand was right next to Funny, so it must be moving Funny while time was stopped, setting things up so all he had to do was bring his hands together. But in the instant that time started moving again, Cars was able to dodge.

“Heh heh heh.”

Warping his body to dodge another clap, Cars glanced over at Dio and grinned.

“I figured out your Stand,”

he said. As Funny went to clap again, Dio grinned, too.

“A moment too late,”

he said. Cl-clap!

Two claps in rapid succession…and Cars was gone. I looked at Funny’s hands. As if to make sure he’d gotten rid of Cars, Funny had his palms open…and there was another set of hands reaching out of them. Wearing similar gloves. Funny had sent The Funniest to a parallel world, and The Funniest had then reached back into this one. Which meant, Funny and The Funniest had the same power. Another ‘me’ and another ‘grandson’.

“It was all part of the plan to create a rhythm, and let him get comfortable,”

Dio chuckled. The rule was one Stand per person, but perhaps as the universe changed over, the same Stands would crop up again. These two would not normally have ever met, but Dio had brought them together. As my head wrestled with the scale of this plan, I noticed a thin black thread wrapped around my neck.

“……..?”

Funny noticed it, too. That thread extended from my neck to The Funniest’s hands in his. Dio saw this and yelled,

“Funny! Cut that hair!”

Hair? Right, the thing around my neck wasn’t thread, but black hair. A strand of Cars’ hair. Coming from The Funniest inside of Funny. Yank! I was jerked into the air, towards Funny, and my eyes met Dio’s.

“What the fuck…!?”

he said.

“I don’t know!”

Funny said, but I knew Funny was up to something and I vanished into the palm’s of The Funniest’s hands.

We were in a rain-drenched park. Beyond the wet trees and mist I could just make out some skyscrapers, and across the square I could see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was in New York, Manhattan Island, Central Park. In the parallel world The Funniest

had dragged me to. Where was Cars? I followed the hair wrapped around my neck but instead found another ‘Funny’, his hands together. Hunh? I thought. Why was Funny here before me? I could tell the hair around my neck was coming from this Funny’s hands. This was the real Funny. For example, Dio could have guessed they couldn’t catch Cars even with the time stop and had the real Funny wait here ahead of time to send Cars to yet another parallel world as soon as The Funniest caught him off guard and sent him here. Two layers away from the real world. The rabbit-eared Stand was standing behind the real Funny here. Then, logically, the Funny that had been with me in Picadilly Circus was fake, but he’d been using Dirty Whatever so…one Stand per person so there was no way that was fake. But when he’d taken me to Monument Valley in that other world Funny had shared his Stand with the other Funny. If Funny was here, then they’d planned this before The Funniest jumped out of the helicopter, and the real one was already inside The Funniest. And the fake Funny had done his magic trick and The Funniest had vanished. In that instant The Funniest had handed Dirty Whatever over to the fake Funny. Funny’s hands were still clasped together, and he was not at all surprised to see me.

“Is this why you took me to Monument Valley?”

I asked.

“A sort of fool your friends to fool your enemies deal?”

They were already planning on bringing me here?

“That, too,”

Funny said.

“But we also wanted to verify that you are indeed a Singularity. Do you know why Cars brought you here, and is trying to take you further in?”

“…………?”

“Precisely because you’re a Singularity. There is not other you in any other world. Cars has sniffed that out somehow. I’m sure of it. I’d like you to remember that fact. Although I believe you

were told as much by other mes in Monument Valley and Piccadilly Circus.”

“And what meaning are you prescribing to me being this Singularity?”

“Obviously, I mean that you have a role that is yours alone. The only meaning you could have is in your role. You do not exist in any parallel world. Which means the real you can never be killed by any alternative yous. In other words, your path in life is a single possibility. Your true purpose. You must fulfill it. That said…even without knowing a thing about parallel worlds, the nature of the world is that we all fulfill our roles.”

“…………”

“You are a detective. That doesn’t change. Nothing is added to that fact. But if you know that that role is yours and only yours, perhaps you will be less hesitant to perform that role.”

“Are you looking at the future, too? How can you speak in prophecies like this?”

“We aren’t the ones that see the future. Dio is,”

Funny said. He put his finger to his temple, and traced a line around his skull. Dio’s crown of thorns.

“That? It isn’t just decorative?”

I’d assumed it was just a device to help him manipulate Pucci.

“No. That’s Dio’s Stand, The Passion. We don’t know the full extent of its power, but he can use that to read the future in great detail.”

“? But Dio has another Stand? The one with the air tanks that can stop time.”

“Yes. That is The World. You have a keen eye. Indeed, that is a terrifying Stand. When he was a vampire he could only stop time for nine seconds, but with the power of the ultimate being that has expanded considerably, and he can now stop time for nearly an hour.”

“Jesus,”

I said.

“How can you fight a Stand like that?”

Funny shook his head.

“It is a terrifying Stand, but there are ways to fight it. What really makes Dio Brando formidable, to my mind, is The Passion.”

The true nature of fear. The Passion, hunh? I thought. Passione in Italian. Was there some link to the Passione Family Shiobana Haruno had been part of?

“Anyway, I’m not interested, and don’t have a Stand, so I’d quite like it if you could take me somewhere neither Dio nor Cars are,”

I said. I really wanted to go home to Fukui.

“I’m afraid you must go,”

Funny said.

“Hunh? Where to?”

“As the flow takes you.”

Then at last he moved his hands apart, and my body was yanked into his hands once more.

This time Cars was there. I landed flat on my back on a wide open patch of land, with him looking down at me.

“Took you long enough, Jorge Joestar,”

he said.

“What were you doing?”

Before I could answer, his fist hit me and sent me spinning through the air, but my cheekbone didn’t break or anything so…I guess this was Cars holding back? Compared to his fight with Dio, anyway. When I landed, a disc popped out of my forehead, and Cars took that and stuck it in his own head for a moment, then went,

“Hmm,”

and put it back into me so I could move again.

“So this isn’t the real world. It seems real enough,”

he said, looking around. I looked around myself. It was very dark, and there was nothing around us. I assumed it was night, but there was no moon or stars above us. We must be near a country town of some sort, but from where we were there was barely anything that looked like

city lights. Yet unlike London, it wasn’t completely desolated; there were still signs of life. I could see bonfires burning, and even a few car headlights being used for illumination. But there was nothing in the sky above. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could tell it wasn’t just cloudy, either; there were no clouds. So why couldn’t we see the moon and stars? This made no sense. Wait…I’d heard about this before, back in the real world. In Morioh. Before Pucci sped up time, just before we blasted through the history of the universe thirty-six times, Narancia handed me a phone. The pebble phone. I’d spoken to Bruno Buccellati. The sky’s gone pitch black, no moon or stars. He’d described this same thing. I’d let it go in one ear and out the other but this was pretty fucked up. And I couldn’t believe something this fucked up was happening everywhere. I ran across the dark field until I found a gate. It had the name of the school on it.

“Budogaoka Academy.”

This was Morioh!

“Hey! Jorge Joestar!”

I’d been staring at the gate, lost in thought, and looked up to find Cars standing right next to me, looking exasperated.

“You have a bad habit of not hearing when people speak to you.”

“Yeah, if I’m focused on something else. Sorry. What?”

“Look,”

he said, and nodded at the sky. I looked up, and some building had searchlights aimed upwards, and the light had caught a huge squid swimming through the sky. It was genuinely

massive, at least a kilometer long. But even giant squids didn’t ever get that long. And a moment later I realized I was looking up at the giant squid’s mantle, but that itself was weird. Squids swim with their mantles upwards, but I should be looking at the squid’s underside right now. This squid was swimming upside-down.

“What the…?”

The squid seemed to be interested in Morioh, and the huge eyes on either side of it were looking at us. I heard cries and shouts in the distance and turned to see a giant sperm whale come over the horizon, also swimming upside-down. It came up to the top of the sky, and bit into the squid. The squid’s tentacles writhed around its mouth, using its suckers to desperately fight back, but it just kept forcing the squid farther inside and soon vanished off the other horizon.

“This entire town is floating upside-down in the ocean,”

Cars said, as if stating the obvious. Given what we’d just seen, no other explanation seemed to fit. What was up with this parallel world? Were there worlds this batshit different? This was straight up fantasy or fantasia. But no, that wasn’t right. I wasn’t sure about the ocean part, but Buccellati and the others had reported the lack of stars and moon, and that was in the real world. I should follow up on that. I still had the pebble phone! I took it out of my pocket. I’d forgotten to give it back to Narancia after talking to Buccellati on the deck of Das Boot. I tried calling him. I hit redial and it rang. He answered.

“Hello? Narancia!”

Buccellati said.

“Uh, it’s Jorge.”

“Hunh? Which one!?”

Which…?

“Uh…the adopted one…”

“The Japanese one! Of course!”

“? You’ve met some other Jorge?”

“We’ve got an English Jorge Joestar here.”

I might be a detective but even my head was spinning.

I asked Buccellati to brief me on events at the Arrow Cross

House.

Shiobana Haruno had found Jorge Joestar lying on the road in Morioh, badly injured, and had taken him to Arrow Cross House, healed him, and the moment he was better he’d begun solving the mystery, figuring out who’d killed Kira Yoshikage and Diavolo, and pointing out that the killer had a Stand that sped up time, at which point the killer, Enrico Pucci, stepped out of hiding, so Shiobana Haruno had taken a mysterious arrowhead that had been inside Sugimoto Reimi’s body and stabbed it into his own Stand, which evolved it and allowed him to beat Pucci by sending him into a void world where neither life nor death existed but Jorge Joestar then went on to prove that Shiobana Haruno / Giorno Giovanna was actually Diavolo’s alternate personality and the same person as the big boss of the Passione Family they’d been fighting all along, and the only reason Shiobana Haruno was still moving was because he was just a hollowed out skin inhabited by Antonio Torres, a zombie Tsukumojuku had accidentally brought here from 1904 and who had been the one who murdered the three detectives, including Tsukumojuku, and a moment later Shiobana Haruno threw Antonio Torres out, repaired Diavolo’s body, moved over to it, and in his guise as Diavolo attacked Jorge Joestar, went through the door in the floor of the Cube House, entered into an infinite fall loop and then vanished into thin air! That made sense, I thought.

“So Jorge Joestar and Shiobana Haruno have traveled through time, then?”

Buccellati didn’t seem to follow so I explained that the Cube House, the predecessor to the Arrow Cross House, was actually a time travel device. We’d fallen through that hole and ended up in

England in 1920, and after that astronaut Enrico Pucci’s Stand had suddenly mutated, sped up time, and brought Great Britain to the current timeline but Pucci himself had disappeared and I guess for some reason he’d gone to Arrow Cross House and murdered two very bad men, and that reason was almost certainly something to do with the terrifying vampire named Dio Brando…at which point Buccellati said,

“What!? Dio Brando!?”

“Yes.”

“Wait. We’re currently interrogating Antonio Torres, and we just got the initials D.B. out of him,”

he said, and put the phone down a second. Wait, none of this was what I’d meant to ask him about…and then a girl picked up the phone.

“Hello? Japanese Jorge?”

It was Sugimoto Reimi.

“Uh, yes.”

“Where are you?”

she asked.

“I’m not entirely sure. I’m in Morioh, but there’s an upsidedown whale swimming across the sky.”

“Oh, that’s just how Morioh is right now. We seemed to have been flipped over somehow.”

“Hunh? So the upside-down whales…?”

“Yes. We’ve seen octopuses and schools of mackerel. It’s pretty nuts. We’ve even had some sharks.”

A parallel world, similar to the real world but distinct. This world might seem totally insane, but it was similar to the real one after all. It just wasn’t real.

“Jorge,”

Sugimoto said,

“I have a favor to ask.”

“What?”

“I’d like you to find the English Jorge Joestar.”

“Got it,”

I said. Before I knew it. But it felt so natural.

“Thank you. It’s a big help.”

There was a rustling sound as she handed the phone off.

“Yo, Buccellati here. Yeah, Dio Brando’s behind everything. Second I said his name Antonio Torres started crying and then he fucking pissed himself. Ugh. But some other worrying information came out. According to Antonio Torres, Giorno Giovanna is this Dio Brando’s real son, and since he was half-Japanese he helped make the murder displays look more Japanese for Dio Brando. I can’t say if that’s true or not, but it does make a certain amount of sense. Anyway, I’d love to know where Giorno is, but at present we’re trapped in Morioh with no way out. Should we try diving into the Cube House hole, Jorge Joestar?”

If they time traveled, would the Morioh residents be able to get back home? Were they time traveling in the first place? No, they were upside-down in the ocean.

“Hmm…I dunno if you can get back where you started if you’re time traveling.”

“Is that so? Hmm. Then what should we do?”

“………..”

“Your phone might stop working again, and this could well be our last chance to contact the outside world.”

Where I was right now didn’t exactly qualify as the outside world, but…wait a second.

“You’ve been trying to call me? And you couldn’t get through?”

“Yes, I’ve tried a number of times. Couldn’t reach you once. I didn’t understand what Narancia was saying, figured there was no point in talking to him. I mean, he said you were in England, but apparently that was actually true.”

“When we were in England, you got through.”

“Yes. But since then I haven’t been able to get through at all. We can use it within Morioh just fine, but…”

“…….”

This must be a hint, I thought. These phones ignored the laws of physics, calling anywhere, even allowing them to call me here in a parallel world that didn’t even exist, but there were

times when they couldn’t get through. What could the cause be?

“You couldn’t get through to anywhere outside Morioh?”

“No, we did. We contacted a number of Passione branches and pulled what strings we could. We can move the military and government to a degree, but that didn’t help our situation at all.”

“…then the only place you couldn’t reach was England.”

“Apparently.”

If distance didn’t matter, space time didn’t matter, and the dimension of the world didn’t matter, then what could ever stop these phones getting through? Was there something special about England in 1920? Well, it wasn’t 1920 any more. Thanks to Pucci it had gone through the birth and death of the universe thirty-six times and wound up in the present day…I thought, but wait, that actually wasn’t correct. Maybe England wasn’t technically in modern times. Great Britain existed in the year 2012, but the flow of time on the island might still be 1920. After all, England didn’t have the rhinoceros beetle’s barrier armor, it had Antonio Torres, a zombie with a conscious mind. While I was watching Pucci fast forward the history of the universe, I’d figured that out. Figured out that consciousness was the point that divided the flow of time. This had nothing to do with any superpowers, it was something we all had, every day. And because of that, I knew what was happening with time in Great Britain. To those in England, it was nothing more than a transparent wall, but to Antonio Torres it was his own belly. The world outside was ‘outside’ to us, but to Antonio Torres it was ‘inside his belly’. His perception reversed it. The only thing that counted as ‘outside’ to Antonio Torres was the island of Great Britain, and he wasn’t thinking at all about what lay inside his belly, and even though he could see it, he didn’t really feel it. Just like all of us don’t really

think about, look at, or feel anything in our stomachs unless shit gets really weird. So time within England was still 1920 from thirtysix universes ago. That’s why England was still here, intact. The universe had looped thirty-six times, and everything outside of Great Britain had died and been born again each time, but Great Britain itself had remained exactly the same because the sped up time was outside of England, inside of Antonio’s stomach. In other words, without meaning to, Antonio Torres had protected Great Britain from the death of the world. His consciousness separated the flow of time. The same way time flowed differently inside and outside of us all. But our internal time was not always different from that outside of us. We were constantly adjusting our internal time to match the time outside of us. We looked at our watches. Made use of calendars. Concocted schedules, built routines, and believed we should be doing X at time Y. When talking to people we matched both subjects and tempo. So many ways we sync our internal time to the world outside. Keeping us aligned with our peers. It would be much harder to remain isolated, in a world of your own. In a world of my own? Cars had just accused me of doing just that.

You have a bad habit of not hearing when people speak to

you.

Yeah. Same thing. Which led me to one conclusion. Thinking hard sped up your internal time, allowing you to use more time than passed outside of you. Concentration or even desperation made time denser, and extended it. To be even more precise, the thoughts in your conscious mind extended the time you had. Thoughts that were fun, sad, or flustered were too simple

and did less to extend the time. Hence

“Time flies when you’re having fun”. Thinking did the opposite. So what powered the reverse effect, Pucci’s sped up time, was the simplicity of his thoughts. With thinking, ‘simple’ meant clearing your mind of everything else, which was what happened when you believed wholeheartedly in a single thing. For example, Pucci’s belief in ‘God’ was so absolute it might well have caused time to speed up like that.

“Hey! Argh…have the phones stopped working again? Hey! Jorge Joestar, are you there?”

Crap, I was doing it again. But I had the answer. I’d been thinking just now. I’d been thinking earlier, in the school grounds. On both occasions, my internal time had come unstuck from the time around me. And because of that, I’d been unable to hear Cars and Buccellati talking to me. This happened all the time, but that same thing was happening on a larger scale to England right now. They’d been able to place a call from Morioh in 2012 to England in 1920 thirty-six universes ago. But once England came to this world in 2012 they couldn’t get through any more. The gap in time wasn’t a problem, but something in the same time but desynced from it couldn’t hear a thing. Then if we broke the rhinoceros beetle’s armor, the wall made of Antonio Torres, time would start to sync up again. And calls would get through. But was that a good idea? That England belonged in 1920, thirty-six universes ago. Should we really force it to join the modern world?

“Hey! Jorge Joestar, are you there?”

I heard, again. Indecision had made me think too hard again.

“Yes.”

“At least answer!”

“Sorry, lost in thought.”

“You come up with an answer yet? How can we flip Morioh back over?”

Oh. I hadn’t been thinking about that at all. Couldn’t exactly admit that, so I said,

“Um…”

and quickly began thinking about it, but given how Morioh was the center of the world’s attention and surrounded by the American army if it were to suddenly flip over in the middle of the ocean it would hardly go unnoticed. They’d have started rescue operations immediately. Giant squid lived deep in the ocean, but sperm whales ranged from 1000-3000 meters. Not a problem for modern submersible technology. But even if a sub found Morioh the town was protected by the rhinoceros beetle’s armor, which was strong enough to deflect missiles, and since we were underwater they couldn’t risk breaking through the barrier anyway. If there was a way to flip us…but there was no technology or machine on Earth that could do that. This wasn’t something we could solve with a few cranes. So how had we flipped in the first place?

“It’s your fault,”

Buccellati said.

“It got dark the moment you crashed here on your way back from Mars. Must have been the shock of impact.”

Really? When we’d touched down Cars’ ship had almost entirely burned up and it was basically just Cars and us so there really shouldn’t have been that much of an impact. Did this have something to do with time traveling through the Cube House? But Tsukumojuku and Shibana Haruno had both used the time device, and nothing happened to Morioh when they did, so that seemed unlikely. What the heck was making Morioh move, anyway? I didn’t know. But at face value Morioh had turned into a giant insect. It appeared to have more than six legs, and seemed to be alive. It could swim. Based on Nero Nero Islands behavior, it

could walk on land as well. Could it also turn itself upside-down? I doubted it. I mean, it was a bug. Bugs never turned themselves over on purpose. That would be a threat to their survival. All insects flipped on their back would immediately put all their attention on trying to flip themselves back over. Morioh must be doing that now. It must be desperately trying to get itself back upright. But it couldn’t. What was stopping it? An injury? No, there was no reason why its legs would get hurt underwater. Was there any other explanation? I couldn’t think of any…unless something was on top of Morioh’s belly, preventing it from turning over. Was something on top of Morioh? What could be that big? Nero Nero Island was much too small by comparison. It had to be a bigger island. But just before Morioh flipped, we’d seen the islands from the air as we fell, and Nero Nero Island had been on top of Morioh, with no other islands of any significant size anywhere in sight. But I knew at least one island that didn’t exist in this time until later. Great Britain. Was that on top of Morioh’s underside? Had Great Britain flipped Morioh in the first place? Could a large rhinoceros beetle take a small one out? Or perhaps Morioh had sensed the larger rhinoceros beetle approaching and flipped in an attempt to get away from it. Showing your belly was a common sign of submission. Even with bugs.

“Um,”

I said.

“I think England is on top of Morioh. So if we can get England to move, Morioh will probably right itself.”

From his perspective, this must have come out of nowhere. It took Buccellati a moment to absorb it, but being in upside-down Morioh must make you fairly used to things like this, because all he said was,

“Then make it move.”

“Mm…but Great Britain’s been moving the whole time.”

“Hunh? It has? Then it’ll be off Morioh soon?”

It would have been off it ages ago. Great Britain has swum across The Ocean faster than the speed of sound, and was almost at New York. What would happen if Great Britain made land in the United States with Morioh still stuck underneath it? Would it walk across America with Morioh stuck to its belly like a tick? Removed from the water, would Morioh be able to cling to Great Britain upside-down? Would it fall off? And land on top of New York City? Before it even hit land the water would get shallow. I wasn’t quite sue where Morioh was, but the water would clearly stop being deep enough long before Great Britain came ashore, so would we get caught on the sea floor? If we did, would Great Britain run us over, trampling us under all its legs? Um? All these sounded terrible, and just before Cars dragged me into this parallel world Funny and The Funniest made, we’d been within sight of New York. Uh-oh. This could be really bad? But should I really tell Buccellati how bad it was? Was there anything people here could do about it? Nope, not a thing. We’d thought Kira Yoshikage was moving Morioh, but he was dead, and the bug was still going, which meant that theory was highly suspect. At most, ‘Kira Yoshikage’s emotions influenced Morioh’ or ‘Kira Yoshikage being in trouble and Morioh starting to move just coincidentally happened at the same time’. After all, there were four rhinoceros beetles. It seemed like a real stretch to assume all four started moving at the same time for four completely different reasons. But what the heck should I do? I couldn’t just say nothing and let what happened happened. Should I tell them to run away, even if they have to time travel? Yeah, as a last resort, sure. Time travel should be avoided as much as possible, but shit could start going down any second now. I told him to gather as many Morioh

citizens in the Arrow Cross House as he could. They might be able to have them all time travel, and if not, Arrow Cross House might be able to handle the impact of whatever was about to happen. But Buccellati said,

“Oh, did I not mention? When those arrowheads came out of Sugimoto Reimi the Arrow Cross House turned back into Cube House. So it has no way in or out, no doors, no windows. Just four walls. We can’t bring anyone here, and have no idea how to get out ourselves. Reimi herself doesn’t know, and she can steer the Cube House around but it rolls like a die so that would expose anyone stored under the Arrow Cross House.”

Then Morioh was entirely on its own, and only the people inside the Cube House had any way of escaping? Even their Stands couldn’t help?

“There are no Stands that can turn flipped land back over. We can roll the Cube House, sew things with a needle and thread, make phones, replay human memories as holograms, spread mass delusions to large crowds, and have little drag queens kick some bullets around. All useless here, right?”

Why little drag queens? Whatever. Point is, he was right, none of those sounded like they could save Morioh. I had to hurry. This could start happening any moment.

“Um, Buccellati,”

I said, and then explained what I knew and what I feared.

“Uhh…what are we supposed to do with that?”

I didn’t have an answer.

“Hey, Jorge Joestar,”

Buccellati said.

“Get England off us. We’re gangsters, we’ll end up OK somehow, but the people outside the Cube House are civilians. You’ve got to save them somehow.”

Exactly. I hung up and turned to Cars.

“We’ve gotta get back to England.”

Cars grinned.

“That’s what I brought you here for. Think, detective. While you figure out a way to get back to England, I’ll entertain our guest.”

Entertain…? Mm? What guest? I looked up, and someone came down out of the moonless, starless sky and landed in the darkness of the school yard. From what I could see in the darkness, he had long hair, and was half-naked.

“Another ‘me’,”

Cars said. There was a pop and this new Cars’ entire body lit up. Not just one color, either. Intricate light patterns roamed the surface of his skin. It was clearly ‘Cars’.

“Heh heh. Light mode?”

Cars chuckled.

“Interesting. Seems like he’s become the Ultimate Thing, too. And wants to see how that mode works in a fight.”

Cars too a step forward, and the other ‘Cars’ held his hand up, palm towards him.

“………?”

Cars stopped. The other ‘Cars’ smiled and, still glowing, he straightened up, let the smile fade, and put his back into a punch that hit only air. Zzzunn! Brilliant lights danced. His arms spinning, he raised himself up, and then punched to the side. Ruuummmble! A swirl of light spread out around him.

“What…?”

Cars said, not getting it. But I did. This was a dance. Cars had wanted to see how to fight with light, and the other ‘Cars’ was showing him without the need to actually exchange blows. Shhaaa! Papapapapapa! Boom boom! Shhaaaa! Papapapa! Boom Boom! Firing flames of light, Cars moved like a black belt, and the light’s movements gradually changed. At first they burned bright and aggressive, but then they started shimmering up against ‘Cars’, as if protecting him. Then ‘Cars’ made the lights expand, growing more intricate, and the shimmering lights caressing his body began flowing in reverse as well, and suddenly there were two of him and he began moving still faster, making more copies of himself. Glowing ‘Cars’

flowers blooming in the school yard that exploded, scattering in all directions, or flitted at random, each showing a different style of martial arts, each wrapped in different lights, firing light all around. Then the lights grew even brighter and the variations increased in number and the array of copies added a third dimension and soon Budogaoka Academy’s campus was filled with blinding light cast by a giant mandala pyramid that made me forget to breathe. It was such a spectacle I forgot to think, but beside me Cars said,

“I’ve already understood his point, so why does he not stop?”

“I think…he’s not just doing it for you. He’s doing this for himself, as well. Like…something he needs to express, something he needs to leave behind.”

“This is a parallel world. It isn’t real. Nothing will remain, so how can this have meaning?”

“Of course it has meaning! Don’t be stupid, Cars.”

“………..?”

Cars looked back at the 3D light temple. A tower of light suddenly growing in the middle of pitch black Morioh was drawing people in, and quite a crowd had assembled. Some were just here for the fireworks, completely unaware that this was an ultimate being burning his life out. Then the light copies rejoined together as one ‘Cars’ and he shouted at the sky.

“Mere moments ago I intended to take the sole chance I had of killing myself! But I came to understand! Why I ran across the back side of Mars for so long! And why, despite the stifling feelings boiling up inside, I am equally filled with joy! My flesh may not be able to die, but my life is as fragile as it was before, and can be snuffed out so easily! You, who are another ‘me’! You are not special! You share the same sadness I feel! But that is a treasure! Rejoice, ‘Cars’! You, too, can suffer!”

The Cars next to me did not visibly react. I couldn’t read his expression at all. But he watched closely, and thinking. Holding the gaze of the dancing light ‘Cars’.

His thoughts were so deep he didn’t hear me or ‘Cars’ when we spoke to him. I didn’t want to interrupt that, but we were in sort of a hurry, so I said again,

“Cars, I thought of a way to get back to England.”

This other ‘Cars’ showed no sign of surprise at the original Cars’ arrival. So he was already aware of the existence of parallel worlds. He was fully aware that he was fake. How was it he already knew that? Because he’d met ‘Funny Valentine’ in this world. And like in Monument Valley, he’d engaged in an experimental skirmish. I was sure ‘Funny’ had fought with ‘Dirty Whatever’. And Cars had understood that Stand ability, and realized the truth about himself. And then he’d said this. Mere moments ago I intended to take the sole chance I had of killing myself! The Ultimate Thing had learned of a way that he might die, and fully intended to do so, but instead he’d danced. How could the Ultimate Thing die? Which means the real you can never be killed by any alternative yous. Funny had said that. And the way this ‘Cars’ held his palm up to the real Cars, telling him to keep his distance. That must mean that if a real and a fake of anyone but Valentine met in a parallel world, something would happen that left only one alive. I’d better remember that, I thought. Seemed like it would be useful when we made it back to England. And to get back to England, Cars and I looked for, found, and headed into a house at the edge of Morioh. Cars never looked more out of place than he did in that neat little garden. Inside was a three person family eating dinner by the light of an emergency lamp. The wife was Shinobu, a homemaker. The eldest and only

child was a grade school boy named Hayato. And the husband and father was Kawajiri Kosaku. He was here. When he saw Cars step in he knew what was about to happen, and leapt to his feet.

“Shinobu! Hayato! Scram!”

Between the half-naked man and her husband’s reaction, Kawajiri Shinobu was at a complete loss. She bumped the table and spilled some hot soup on her hand.

“Ow! What’s going on!? ‘Scram’!? Who are they? Do you know them?”

She began wiping her reddened hand with a towel, but Kawajiri Kosaku yelled,

“Just get out!”

But Kawajiri Hayato’s reaction was the polar opposite.

“I knew it! You’ve been acting so weird! You’re hiding something!”

I had Cars wait this out.

“Both of you! Out of this house right this instant! Listen to your father for once!”

Kawajiri Kosaku said, desperately enough that Shinobu finally grabbed Hayato and dragged him out the back door, away from Cars.

“Farther than that! Run!”

Kawajiri yelled out the door after them, and once they were safely out of the garden he finally turned towards Cars, and tried to catch his breath.

“ThThanks for waiting.”

I was in a hurry. I’d been here almost an hour. Cars took a step closer and said the keyword.

“You’re Kira Yoshikage?”

Kawajiri Kosaku laughed, then spoke, sounding choked  up.

“You’re right. I’m a serial killer.”

There was a tiny Killer Queen on his shoulder. He’d set off Bites the Dust. Boooooooooooooooooooooommmm! All we heard was the explosion, and I let Cars handle all the

fire and the shockwave. A bomb couldn’t kill Cars. Cars, with me inside him, was sent back in time an hour. Before meeting ‘Cars’ in the Budogaoka Academy school yard, before seeing the sperm whale eat the giant squid, before The Funniest sent us to a parallel world from Funny’s parallel world and before the conversation I had with Funny there, back an hour ago, to Picadilly Circus. We made it in time.

Funny spread his hands again, and turned towards Cars.

“Dojaaaaaaaan!”

he said, grinning.

“………..? A magic trick?”

I watched this exchange, but this time I knew everything that was about to happen. Before going to see Kawajiri Kosaku I’d had Cars swallow me. Making him promise not to digest. So Bites the Dust had sent me back an hour, but since I was inside Cars, I’d been protected from the explosion, and since my body was safe, so was my consciousness barrier, and since that was safe the flow of time within me remained intact and I remembered everything. My theory had been that to send people back in time internally and externally he had to shatter the shell of consciousness, their skin. That’s why he needed the explosion. But since I was unharmed, I remembered, even if Cars had forgotten. Now it was my turn. This was my second time watching these events, and they were going by awful quick. But that was the difference between focused thinking and not. I wasn’t thinking, I was just waiting for the right timing.

“Heh heh heh.”

Warping his body to dodge another clap, Cars glanced over at Dio and grinned.

“I figured out your Stand,”

he said. As Funny went to clap again, Dio grinned, too.

“A moment too late,”

he said.

But as Dio spoke I yelled over him.

“Cars! Funny’s gonna clap twice!”

Cars didn’t even glance in my direction, but he reacted. Cl-clap! Two claps in rapid succession and Cars bent his body twice, dodging both.

“Hunh…!?”

Funny squeaked.

“How the hell…!?”

Dio said, glaring at me, and my legs started shaking so hard I wouldn’t have noticed if I’d pissed myself and I lost all sensation in my upper body but I forced myself to grin back at him. That would have been a great time to introduce myself but given his history with the Joestar family I decided I’d better not.

“Suck it! I’m just your friendly neighborhood detective, dipshit!”

I somehow managed to get this out without my voice breaking, but halfway through he lost interest and looked away, which rather took the wind out of my sails. While Dio’s attention was on me, Cars had bent his body still further and punched Funny out of the air. Bam!

“Unh…!”

Dio grinned, showing no concern at all for Funny, who was flung quite a distance away.

“Hmph! You think you’ve second guessed me? Do you think Dio would ever just throw ONE knife!?”

What?

“Prepare to be astounded!”

Dio said, and as he did, I was

genuinely astounded. Even Cars looked pretty dang astounded. Behind Cars stood another Dio, and he slid his hands under Cars’ arms, and locked them behind his shoulders. The moment he had Cars trapped, to his right a group of Funny Valentines appeared, three high and three across for nine Funny Valentines in all, and to his left a three by three grid of The Funniest Valentines appeared, nine The Funniest Valentines in all, and each tightly placed grid of Valentines had eighteen hands, making for thirty-six hands all about to clap down on Cars as time began flowing again.

“Auuuughhh!”

Cars yelled and Cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-cl-clap! Thunderous applause as eighteen pairs of hands clapped down on him. And before I knew it only the pile of nine Funny Valentines and the pile of nine The Funniest Valentines was left, and Cars and the other Dio were gone.

“Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ultimate Thing or not, if you don’t bother thinking you’re nothing but a useless monkey! The new thing born from thirty-six souls? That would be the brand new parallel world Funny and The Funniest share! A world with no exit or entrance, and your new best friend! That world has a fourteen words of its own, so seek them out and enjoy yourself forever!”

Dio laughed his head off. I knew what he’d done. First, Funny had gone to The Funniest’s parallel world and found Dio Brando and brought him here. Then Funny had found nine The Funniests that could use Dirty Whatever, and The Funniest had found nine Funnys that could also use Dirty Whatever, bringing them all here. You see, because of the one Stand per person thing, in Funny’s parallel worlds there were no Funnys with Stands, but in his parallel worlds there were a lot of The Funniests, and he just had to gather ones that had Dirty Whatever. Same went for The Funniest collecting Funnys. And while time was stopped, they’d all been placed. With

so many Funnys and The Funniests around him there was no way of even knowing which parallel world Cars had been sent to. All I knew was that whichever Funny or The Funniest had landed the deciding clap, the only way to get there was if they sent you there. It might well be a world that Funny and The Funniest shared, and it might be one of the worlds they each had that were mutually exclusive. Either way the only way to get to that world was right now while all the Funnys and The Funniests were still here. I screamed,

“Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars! Come baaaaack!”

I didn’t know why I was screaming like that. Cars was scary as shit and I should be relieved he was gone but for some reason I wanted to see him again. Dio must have enjoyed my scream, because he looked at me and chuckled.

“As a reward for catching me off guard, I’ll tell you one thing. When Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap sends someone to another world, the entrance, the exit, the place they were caught between, continues to function as a passage for a short while longer. So perhaps that wretched scream of your reached Cars’ ears. Perhaps Cars can follow that voice and find his way back here. But he’s a step too late for that, too!”

Why? I knew the answer already. Because the Funnys and The Funniests brought from other dimensions could not normally exist at the same time. That was why Cars had silently held up his hand back in the parallel Morioh. The instant after Cars vanished, it began. The Funnys and The Funniests bumped shoulders with each other, and where they made contact they began melting into each other. It was like a pile of Menger Sponges, and as they fused together pieces of them rolled away, crumbling to nothing with a crackling sound, rupturing and vanishing. Nine Funnys and nine The Funniests all colliding and collapsing. The hands that had swallowed Cars shattered, and were

gone.

Good-bye, ‘Cars’.

Watching the eighteen Valentines crumble to nothing from a distance, Dio laughed.

“Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I am the true emperor! I am the pinnacle of all creation! Everything in this world, no matter which loop of history, no matter which parallel world, all of it is Dio’s to control!”

Which is exactly when I spoke up.

“But there is always someone better. Someone will come along to surpass you. Those who strive for domination must live in the shadow of fear of something just like them. All you’ll ever do is wait for someone to surpass you. What an exhausting way to live. But look closely. The one that surpasses you may not come from below. Without you ever noticing, they might already be looking down at you from far above. But if you think hard about that, if you really look at the big picture…that might well be a comfort to you. Good news, Dio Brando!”

Dio stared at me blankly.

“What…?”

“Don’t catch my drift?”

I said.

“Take a hint and look up.”

“………..?”

“This isn’t advice. This isn’t a motto for life. I literally mean ‘look up’. Straight above your head.”

I raised a hand, pointing above my head.

“See it yet?”

Dio looked up.

And saw Cars, in the air above him, grinning down at him.

“What…!?”

Dio yelped. His wait over, Cars began dropping like a stone, straight at

Dio.

“Like I said, I understand your Stand.”

Behind Cars was the ultimate version of Dio’s The World. The World Ultimate. There was some resemblance, but even at a glance you could tell it wasn’t the same Stand.

“……….!”

When Dio said nothing, Cars went on.

“Heh, what? Never imagined you’d lose the game of out-guessing each other? Well, I can’t blame you. Even I could never have handled that last stunt on my own. I slept for two thousand years on Earth, woke up in the middle of the 20th century, but shortly afterwards spent nearly ten quadrillion years running across the back of Mars. And you spent nearly a hundred years, from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th sleeping in a box. You may have seen all sorts of things about the future down there, but I imagine you never once read a detective novel. Even after you woke, it would never enter your head that you should catch up on the last hundred years worth of mystery writing. Detective fiction is born and evolves throughout the 20th and 21st centuries in every universe. Both of us slept right through it, never noticing, never realizing. Neither of us could ever hope to match a detective who grew up on that and lives that life for real.”

Ohhhh, you shouldn’t have!  ♡”I didn’t do anything special, Dio. I just had this sense there was gonna be another twist. And figured out how to turn the tables on it. I just have a whole lot of experience with mystery novel twists and turns.”

This was the honest truth.

But Dio still paid me no attention, his attention all directed to Cars, and as I said ‘tables’ he shouted,

“Impossible! The emperor of this world is me! Without question! That is a fixed truth!”

That reminded me of something.

Cars chuckled.

“Where does that confidence come from?”

Where did mine come from?

“I am Dio, and I will win! I have been promised the final victory!”

By who?

“By who?”

Cars asked. And behind Dio I saw a shadowy figure, with long hair, his face hidden by a shadow seemingly unaffected by the direction of the sun. He was half naked, his rail thin body covered in wounds, and there was a crown of thorns on his head.

“I agree with everything,”

he said.

“Keep going, call it off, do anything you like, do nothing at all.”

It didn’t seem like Dio could hear the voice coming from right behind him. He just kept screaming. The crown of thorns came out on his head, and the figure behind him vanished.

“My blood calls to blood, and thus I know! I am the king of the world! I

rule everything!”

Oh, I thought. The way Dio talked was similar to the way I spoke about believing that I was a detective. Beyond. Dio Brando had one behind him, too.

“If you want it all that much, then let’s do this!”

Cars cried, and flitted down to Dio’s level. Dio’s The World Ultimate came out, but it was Cars’ White Snake Ultimate that fought it. Splat! White Snake Ultimate punched Dio’s cheek, and Dio staggered back. A disc flew out of his head and fell to the ground, where it shattered, and The World Ultimate standing beside him fell apart, dissolving.

“Now I will grant your wish! Make these all your own!”

Cars said, and discs began flowing out of his head, and as fast as he could he slammed them into Dio’s head.

“One more!”

Blooorp, Dio’s head swelled up, then returned to normal size.

“And another, and another!”

Blooorp blooorp! This time Dio’s chest and belly swelled up and shrank.

“More more more more!”

Blooorp! Blooorp! Blooorp! Blooorp! Dio’s entire body swelled and shrank, waves running across it as it bent in all kinds of hideous directions. The speed of Cars’ arms grew faster and faster, like a punch volley, until discs were slamming into Dio too fast for it to shrink and he began swelling into a hideous ball of flesh.

“Wa ha ha ha ha! How’s that feel!? You full yet!?”

Cars laughed. Dio’s face looked down at Cars over his swollen body. His expression hollow, but there was still a light in his eyes. Uh-oh, I thought, but Dio opened his mouth, and I heard what he said.

“This is right. There’s no mistake. Everything is taking me where I need to go.”

That sounded like what the wounded man with the crown of thorns had said.

I agree with everything. Keep going, call it off, do anything you like, do nothing at all. Dio pulled something sharp from near his hand. I yelled,

“Cars! Watch out!”

Even without my warning, Cars saw the weapon. Before Dio could take a swing, Cars slammed one last attack home, and said,

“Everyone has their limits! Can yours contain the entire world!? Let your own arrogance lead to suffering! Learn just how limited you really are! Ha ha ha ha! Now the finishhhhh!”

He put one last disc in Dio’s head, and Dio’s swollen body reached its limit. I braced for the explosion, and Cars waited, a grin on his face. But Dio just said,

“Thanks.”

“……….!?”

Cars finally looked concerned.

“With Pucci gone, you’re the only one who could take me to Heaven, Cars.”

Dio swung the weapon in his hand. Cars dodged, but to no avail, because Dio was aiming for White Snake Ultimate.

“My Angel!”

Dio said. And exploded. Bam! Chunks of Dio were flung all around. His head, his eyes, his ears, his spine, his torso, his head, his right hand, his left hand, and his legs, nine parts of him fell to the ground. But of course he was still alive. But unlike the earlier firework vaporizations, this time the bits of his body stayed where they were, making no move to reassemble. Dio’s head spoke,

“So you were the ‘Angel’, Cars! The only other man who can control White Snake!”

I looked over at White Snake, and it wasn’t looking right. It had a stab wound. Dio had thrust something into it, and that had remained inside its body. Something shaped like an arrow.

The arrowhead.

Shiobana Haruno had taken a mysterious arrowhead that had been inside Sugimoto Reimi’s body and stabbed it into his own Stand, which evolved it.

Wounds could grant power. That could happen to Stands as well. The arrowhead burrowed into White Snake Ultimate, making the wound deeper.

“Unh…what…did you do?”

Cars asked. Even he didn’t know. Regardless of what Cars wanted, White Snake Ultimate’s wound grew deeper and deeper and soon it began evolving. Like with Pucci’s version, an arrow motif appeared on the Stand’s three faces and six arms. The arrow was a part of it now, and the Stand’s new power emerged. Like Pucci’s C Moon, it could control gravity.

“I’ve been down this road before,”

Dio said.

“Enrico Pucci failed me twice, but that only served to lead me to this moment. Everything is agreed upon. The third time’s the charm. The circle will be closed. Why? Because I am here.”

The sheer force of his confidence was getting to Cars.

“Not if I have anything to do with it!”

he yelled, and pulled out a Stand with even longer rabbit ears than Funny’s. Ultimate D4C.

“Too late,”

Dio said, and Dio’s head and the other eight bits of him fled Cars’ fist, floating through the air. Just like Pucci had levitated off the deck of Das Boot. Mm? ……oh. I’d just remembered that I still had the personalized Stand disc in my head, the version of Das Boot Cars had made for me. I could fight. I didn’t know what Dio was up to, but I wasn’t about to let him get away with it.

“Das Boot!”

I shouted. Look, by this point yelling your Stand name was just how these things worked.

Whoom! A massive submarine appeared, resting on top of my head. It wasn’t heavy. It had corporeal form only to the extent I needed it to. The only thing it did was prevent me looking up. I popped out the headset periscope and locked on to Dio.

“FIREEE!”

Pssht pssht pssht! Cruise missiles shot out of it and headed for the floating bits of Dio but giant hands slapped them away. Boom bam booooom. Behind the explosions loomed the massive upper body of Antonio Torres, reaching down out of the sky. You again!? I fired some more missiles, but Antonio Torres’ dumb ass knocked them all aside. While that happened the bits of Dio began rising up, and with him went C Moon Ultimate Requiem, now completely freed from Cars’ control.

“Shit,”

I said. But another shadow crossed my periscope. I looked closer, and saw the largest version of Narancia’s Das Boot racing upside-down across the inside of the sky. It was running on the barrier that covered Great Britain; in other words, on the side of Antonio Torres.

“Goooooo!”

I yelled, and unleashed some cover fire. Antonio Torres knocked all these missiles aside as well, and, as the pieces of Dio got closer, he opened his mouth wide. I knew we couldn’t let him swallow those. Antonio has swallowed Pucci, too. Inside Antonio’s belly = Outside England, and once Pucci was there he’d completed his transformation. Narancia’s Das Boot was still filling the sky with missiles, but he wasn’t doing any more damage than I was. We were fighting a giant zombie. He was dead to begin with, and it didn’t look like the exploding missiles were causing him any significant pain. What else could we do!? But just before panic really set it, I looked through my periscope and saw Elizabeth standing on the deck of Das Boot. What was she planning? Skirt flying, she ran up the upside-down deck, and leapt off the end. She was hanging from the rhinoceros beetle armor/Antonio Torres’s body by her fingertips alone!

“Ahhhh! Holy shit!”

I shouted but she couldn’t hear me. Instead, she curled her legs up till her toes were

against the barrier wall, and then began running across it upsidedown. Dear god! Ha ha ha! I couldn’t help laughing out loud. How the hell was she keeping her skirt from flying up? Before I even got over my excitement she was dodging Antonio’s giant punches, still upside-down. She had one hand on her muffler and was waving it like she was throwing invisible shuriken so may she was unraveling the thread and using that to perform these acrobatics? She was like the world’s most graceful Spiderman. It took her no time at all to reach the base of Antonio Torres’ massive belly. Where had Dio got to? He was still pretty far from Antonio Torres’ mouth. What was Elizabeth about to do? I looked closer, and she took out a pendant with a red stone from her shirt front, took a tight grip on it, and shouted. Das Boots sonar system was able to pick it up for me.

“I am Jorge Joestar’s guardian! I fight to protect that beautiful bloodline! You can do this, Lisa Lisa! Yeah! Put everything you got into this! Antonio Torres, you were always an idiot! Good-bye! Here we go! Sunset Orange Overdrive!”

Elizabeth put the hand holding the red stone to Antonio Torres’ belly, and opened her hand, pinning the stone between him and her palm. A tremble ran over her. Pshhht! A red firework went off, and a ripple that actually was the color of sunset ran across Antonio’s translucent belly, around his sides onto his back, over his shoulders and down his arms, up his chest and neck to the top of his head, the ripples building off each other and rolling back and forth. Antonio Torres let out an unholy shriek.

“Ughhaaaaaaaahh!”

Floating towards him, Dio yelled,

“Don’t scream, you little bitch! Stand your ground and inhale me! Be good for one last thing before you die! Inhale! Stop screaming and take the biggest breath of your life!”

His entire body burning from the red ripples, Antonio tried pursing his trembling lips, but only succeeded in making strangled noises. No matter what he did, he couldn’t inhale.

“You worthless shit!”

Dio sceamed.

“Can’t you do anything you’re told!? That’s why nobody ever loved you! That’s why they all pushed you away! Your mother peeled your filthy skin off in a desperate attempt to at least love the surface of you! You were always empty inside, and there was never anything in there that anyone could love! I bet even your mother couldn’t believe it at first! Even after she peeled your god damn skin off she still couldn’t find a single worthwhile thing about you!”

Antonio Torres was letting out strangled sobs, but try as he might he couldn’t seem to get any tears flowing.

“If you can’t even take a fucking breath, then die! Die as the useless piece of shit you were born to be! As a worthless piece of trash even your mother wished she’d never given birth to! You’re a maggot! The manure left by the cattle in the barns in the Canary Islands is worth more than you have ever been! Jorge Joestar’s a complete nincompoop but compared to how unsalvageably dumb you are, he looked almost acceptable!”

“Unhhhhhh aahhh aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Stop fucking crying you flappy hollow! Put your fucking lips together and inhale! Do what I fucking say! Breathe in!”

I could hear a steady bam bam bam bam bam of missiles from Narancia’s direction. I could hear shouting over the speakers, but that was Penelope.

“Hey! Vampire! Just because he’s a zombie, there’s no excuse for that kind of language! Apologize this instant!”

Some sort of beam shot out of Dio’s eyes, slicing through all the missiles, and blowing them up. Boom boom boom boom! Dio kept shouting at Antonio over the explosions.

“Bwa ha ha ha! You spent the last twenty years trying to get back at them and all you did was make them pity you! C’mon! Your pathetic life is about to reach its suitably awful, pitiable, pathetic end! Ha ha ha! You failed to be of any use to anyone, did nothing for anybody, took nothing for yourself, and will die as useless as

the day you were born! Is that what you want, Antonio Torres!? Are you fine being shredded like your father by the same Hamon bitch who turned his ass to ash!? Are you happy to die without a single memory of manning up and accomplishing anything!? Hey! Antonio Torres! Think! I’m the only one who ever expected a single god damn thing from you! Are you prepared to leave this world having disappointed me!? To die without once having anyone be grateful to you, without once having anyone be glad you were born!? Are you OK with that!? Then I was a fool to expect anything from a piece of shit like you! I take back anything nice I ever said to you! You are nothing but a stupid worthless meaningless ugly little poison shit! Admit Jorge Joestar was right all along, that every action you took was wrong, and drop fucking dead!”

“Uuuuuuuuuunghhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Nooooooooo!”

“Then inhale, Antonio Torres!”

“Unnnnhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ff…fff…haaaaahhhhh!”

“Yes! First, let all the air out…!”

“Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!”

The thousand meter long upper half of Antonio Torres was turning to rags from the red ripples, and if this pathetic monster had just be a little bit dumber he might have died in time, but as he finally inhaled Dio was pulled up towards him and vanished between Antonio Torres’ puckered lips. The missiles Narancia and I sent after him were too late, and exploded all over Antonio’s face.

“Auuughhhh!”

The explosions caused a crack in Antonio’s giant head, and he began crumbling from the crack out.

“Hey,”

someone said. I looked sideways. Cars was talking to me.

“Stop attacking. If that zombie dies we won’t be able to send England back in time. Don’t kill him till this is all over. And Dio is about to speed up time. If that zombie isn’t there, this island will be left behind and vanished when the universe restarts.”

Cars-sempai was absolutely positively correct. Bravo. I had never imagined he had the same idea as me about the relationship between time and consciousness. I took out the pebble phone, but this was originally Narancias, and since I had it now, that left me with no way to contact him. I thought a moment and then gave the Das Boot’s radio a shot. It worked! I told Narancia to knock off the attacks, and as him to make Elizabeth stop, too, and he didn’t seem to get it but he stopped. He picked up Elizabeth, too. Once she was back aboard Elizabeth radioed me so I said we had to move Great Britain so we needed Antonio Torres a little longer and she said,

“Understood. I’ve already given him a fatal level of Hamon, but I can add some resistant Hamon and slow the effects down. It’ll prolong poor Antonio’s suffering, but…I’ll see if I can do anything about the pain he’s in as well.”

Elizabeth was astonishingly kind to zombies. When I said as much she just said,

“No? I’m just trusting you. Because you’re also a Jorge Joestar. I’m in the state of mind to grasp at any straw.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by that but she didn’t seem to be inclined to clarify.

“It begins,”

Cars said. I looked up and through the crumbling belly of Antonio Torres I could see the pieces of Dio and C Moon Ultimate Requiem floating above the rhinoceros beetle’s armor, and that Stand was still changing. Ruptures were appearing all over the surface of it, and as it crumbled away a horse and rider and clock emerged, a Stand even more fused with the arrowhead. Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem. And a second round of sped up time began…but what for? Next to me, Cars said,

“What waits for us at the end of this?”

The universe repeating on a spiral staircase. And then…? I couldn’t see the answer. Nothing came to mind at all. But then someone spoke behind me.

“We have a terrifying idea, Jorge Joestar.”

It was Funny and The Funniest but they both

looked white as a sheet.

“An idea?”

“Yes. No…it’s already a certainty,”

Funny said.

“Wait a sec, I’ll check,”

The Funniest said, pulling out a cell phone and trying to call someone…but he couldn’t get through.

“Oh,”

I said.

“That won’t work, but if you use this one from a parallel world you might be able to get through.”

I handed over the pebble phone, and told him how to use it. Funny clapped his hands and sent The Funniest to a parallel world. He came back a minute later. He just popped his head out from between Funny’s hands, and said,

“Yeah, just as we feared.”

Funny nodded, and said,

“We believe Dio Brando is headed for the past beyond the future.”

Beyond the dying Antonio Torres, Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem activated, and the sun began to spin around us.

Funny and The Funniest took turns explaining.

“The Valentines have two duties as leaders of the United States, two duties vital to the prosperity of our homeland.”

“The first is to intervene in the Steel Ball Run, held at the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century.”

“This is like a Valentine family ritual; more or less a practice run.”

“The other is to protect the secret held in the underground facility beneath the Trinity Church in New York, and ensure that no one gets near it.”

“The second duty is of the utmost importance, and we will stop at nothing to fulfill it, no matter what it costs.”

“Even wars or genocide.”

“That’s why we’re telling you. Needs dictate that we let you in on part of this secret.”

“The underground facility contains the body of a holy man.”

“Whoever possesses this body, whatever group they belong to, will possess eternal prosperity so long as they maintain control of the body.”

“The body was gathered by our ancestor, thirty-five loops of the universe ago – the original Funny Valentine.”

“The 23rd President of the United States.”

“And the race where it was collected, thirty-five universes ago, was the first Steel Ball Run.”

“There were nine pieces to that holy man’s body, hidden across the American continent.”

“Those nine pieces were the head, the eyes, the ears, the spine, the torso, the heart, the right arm, the left arm, and the legs.”

“Exactly the pieces that Dio was just broken into.”

As the universe ended and began again repeatedly, Funny said,

“Cars, you placed nine discs in Dio, correct?”

The Funniest said,

“Why is it Dio could not put himself back together after you did that to him?”

Cars laughed.

“Those were Stand discs, but all nine were blank. However, they were all made by me, and the parameters were set to my own body. For a human, or even a vampire, the rule is one Stand per person. Even with blank discs his body tried to accommodate the new Stands, was unable to fit them in the space that originally held his Stand, and tried to compensate by splitting him into nice pieces.”

“I…see.”

“Any life form’s capacity is somewhat flexible, but limited by nature. Vampire may be immortal like me but there is a massive difference between our capacities, and our abilities. Only I can truly call myself the Ultimate Being. And only I can actually handle

the Stands I make. The automobiles you drive don’t run on just any fuel, do they? Dio Brando has attempted to accommodate that fuel by altering his own body, by splitting himself into pieces. And until the shock of that wears off, he’ll remain that way.”

“I see…!”

“I see…!”

“It isn’t just the number of parts and the types of parts that match. The head of this holy man’s body has a crown of thorns,”

The Funniest explained.

“There are holes in the palms of each hand, and through each foot,”

said Funny.

“These were believed to be stigmata, but perhaps we were mistaken.”

“You saw it, too? Dio’s head had a crown of thorns, and he had holes in his hands and feet.”

“Dio’s crown of thorns was a Stand, and if the holes in his hands and feet were not caused by crucifixion, but by some other injury…”

“Then we have made a terrible mistake. And all of this was planned so that we would make that mistake!”

“Dio is not a holy man.”

“The polar opposite of one. Like Cars said, there is little to him but self-love and deceit.”

“And if Dio is that body…then at the least we must rethink what we have put our faith in, and this secret becomes all the more urgent.”

“And we have just verified one last thing. My wife, Scarlet, told me that the underground facility beneath the Trinity Church is long since empty.”

“……….!”

“The doors that can only be opened from the inside, were standing open, with no signs of tampering.”

“Good lord.”

“And we have no way of knowing when this happened. That facility has always been there. Even as the universe renewed itself, it remained.”

“The holy man is a singularity.”

“But that holy man is gone.”

“And he was never holy. He was Dio Brando. At this point all we can do is abandon hope.”

“Yes…”

“Look! The sped up time is coming to an end.”

The speed of the strobing sky was growing gentler. The blinding light and pitch darkness of the universe ending and beginning had passed, and we were down to the stars and moon and sun spinning around us.

“Jorge Joestar, you appear to be standing there in a daze, but were you counting the universes?”

“How many was it?”

“Thirty-seven,”

I said.

“………!?”

“Check and see. Thirty-seven loops should have brought us back to the time we started in.”

The sunset sky. American fighters scrambling overhead. In the distance, stuck to the outside of the rhinoceros beetle’s armor on his frog-like Stand was this era’s Funny Valentine. He was still there.

Seriously, god damn. The Funniest’s grandfather, this other ‘Funny Valentine’, had clung so closely to the rhinoceros beetle’s armor, to the inside of Antonio Torres’ stomach, that like a tick or a parasite, he became part of Antonio Torres, and had ridden out the

sped up time. Exposing his flesh to thirty-six deaths and births of the universe. What had that been like?

Elizabeth and Narancia’s Das Boot were still hanging upside down from the sky next to the dying torso of Antonio Torres, and I had them check our current place and time. The island of Great Britain had come ashore in America, and right in front of us…well, right underfoot…was Manhattan Island. The Funniest went to Funny’s parallel world and used the pebble phone to make another call. When he got through to the First Lady, Scarlet, she was in a panic.

“Are you OK!? What on earth is happening on that island!?”

Apparently Great Britain had vanished and then reappeared a few seconds later. After answering a flurry of detailed questions, The Funniest hung up and turned towards us.

“We’re back to July 24th, 2012, the same one we left.”

Funny nodded.

“In other words, we passed through thirtyseven universes and looped back to our world.”

“Which means the universe I was born in is the world’s final universe…”

The Funniest paused, and looked at Cars.

“And the one you come from is the first.”

Cars grinned back, but said nothing.

“And Dio Brando has closed the loop, with himself cast as a holy man who brings prosperity. He’s taken the napkins from the banquet table,”

Funny said. Whatever the fuck that meant.

I looked up. Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem was floating out beyond Antonio Torres, but there was no sign of Dio Brando.

“I can’t see him, but is Dio Brando still up there?”

“No, he’s gone,”

Cars said, breaking his silence.

“How do you know?”

“That was my Stand originally, you know? It’s still out of my control, but that effect is fading. Dio’s gone, and the job he had for it is over.”

“…so you’ll be able to use that Stand again?”

“There is nothing I can or cannot do.”

“……….”

“I see,”

The Funniest said.

“Then we can use that Stand to speed time up again and go to the universe where Dio is. If only we knew where…or when…that is.”

“We know that,”

Cars said.

“My Stand remembers when Dio left it. One universe after this one.”

Funny thought for a moment.

“Then we can use the Stand above us to speed up time and catch up to Dio?”

“Yes. But why would we do that?”

“…………”

“To kill Dio Brando, who has now become this ‘holy man’?”

Cars grinned.

“But this ‘holy man’ has granted you ‘prosperity’. And you have fought to protect that.”

“But…”

The Funniest said.

“Can we really let him get away with this?”

Funny added,

“Perhaps our decision to honor him has led to a great many of the evils in this world.”

“Heh heh heh,”

Cars sneered.

“So the prosperity your holy man provided was merely a matter of perspective?”

“………..!”

“………..!”

“Then does it matter that the source of your prosperity was Dio Brando? Not like your history changes.”

“No, it changes to a spiral staircase…”

“Only on the universal level,”

Cars said, dismissively.

“I’m speaking on the world level. This world is a string of thirty-seven

universes, which form a loop. If you look at each universe, then a similar but distinct history repeats itself thirty-seven times, and then the exact same thirty-seven histories happen again.”

Neither Valentine had anything more to say, so I spoke up.

“So catching up to him by speeding up time is no good. You can’t change history by following the axle of time. If you want to change history you can’t chase him to the future, you gotta go back and fix things. That’s just how time works.”

Cars laughed. A happy, excited laugh.

“Ha ha ha! What’s the difference between going forwards and backwards in time?”

“…I dunno? But consciousness and space time are closely intertwined. The power of human consciousness…even Stands are not just like, weapons we pick up, but a power we make inside ourselves. And they can be so strong they control the flow of time in the entire universe! Sure, that might be an extreme example, maybe even a power so great only one person in all of recorded history has wielded anything like it, but even with more modest powers, even the most ordinary people have wills of their own, and, weak though it may be, they have a similar power. So like, if everyone on an island with lots of people living on it like Great Britain thinks about turning back time or denies a fact of history then it will have an effect, right?”

I really had no basis for this, or I sort of did but I couldn’t explain it logically and I’d never tried to tell anyone about anything like this. It was really awkward. But I was pretty sure I was right.

“Ha ha!”

Cars laughed merrily.

“A curse, is it?”

he said. That was pretty similar, really. But he went on,

“Hmph, but if we are to go back, how would we do it? We have a way to go forward, but have you thought of a way to get back?”

Exactly.

“I’d really like if we could go to the Arrow Cross

House in Morioh – actually it’s the Cube House now – but we can’t access Morioh right now and the Cube House has no windows or doors and is just walls so you can’t get in or out…and the way the Cube House time travel device works is sort of weird to operate so I’m not sure we could get to the time we wanted to.”

“So?”

“So… I’m not sure, but I do have one thing worth trying.”

“? And…? Spit it out.”

“OK. You’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle?”

Cars, naturally, had no knowledge of human legends. I gave him a quick run down and told him how Tsukumojuku had come from the Bermuda Triangle in 1904 to Nishi Akatsuki in 2012, how our two world maps compared, and how the Bermuda Triangle in 2012 overlapped what was now Nishi Akatsuki in 1904. As I did I realized,

“Are those the two Singularities? Nishi Akatsuki and the Bermuda Triangle.”

Cars grinned.

“Anyone who doesn’t notice that will never be able to get to Heaven.”

Once again I was impressed by Cars’ ability to absorb new things.

“But what is this ‘Heaven’?”

he asked.

“Hunh?”

“I’m aware that humans have concepts like the afterlife, the next world, heaven, and hell, but is the heaven referred to in those beliefs the same as the ‘Heaven’ we’re talking about now?”

“………….”

“I know that humans consider ‘Heaven’ a relaxing place. But did that apply to the Heaven Enrico Pucci was searching for? Dio used him and he wound up dying somewhere, right? And ‘Heaven’ comes from the message that got Enrico Pucci going in the first place. Who made that message and sent it to Enrico Pucci?”

In the air above Cape Canaveral in July 1999 was… Cars didn’t wait for me to answer.

“And what happened to

the detective who came through this Bermuda Triangle?”

He died. Right after he got to Morioh. Buccellati had said he was killed by Antonio Torres. Cars had read my memories on the spaceship, but he had no way of know that the mystery in the Cube House had been solved, and yet he said,

“Antonio Torres is a zombie. Zombies are nothing but minions for vampires. They are made by vampires, and do everything for them. Is it a coincidence that out of the four rhinoceros beetles, only Great Britain has armor mixed with Antonio Torres so that people can get in and out? Like Enrico Pucci, that man,”

he glanced at The Funniest, who cowered.

“And of course, the nine pieces of Dio Brando.”

And we couldn’t kill Antonio Torres. It was like Great Britain was held hostage.

“And look,”

Cars pointed to a photograph Narancia had sent to the pebble phone.

“The modern Bermuda Triangle is right in front of where Great Britain is, outside Manhattan Island’s armor.”

Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stood.

“But this Bermuda Triangle is also very close to the Trinity Church on Manhattan Island. And they just checked the facility underneath that church and found the body of the holy man was gone. They don’t know when it vanished, but it might not have been somewhere in the last thirty-six histories of the universe; it might have been just a few moments ago. Thirty-six universes ago the Bermuda Triangle and Manhattan were on the same continent, but  quite far apart. Now they’ve moved very close together, and only the Bermuda Triangle is exposed…doesn’t that worry you at all? Can’t you feel the vampire’s unconscious glee as he waits for you to plunge into the trap he prepared? My point is, no matter how you look at it, out current situation is far too convenient.”

I was too busy beating myself up to answer and there was no need to answer. He wasn’t asking. He was ripping me apart.

Why is it humans choose to blind themselves the moment things cease to make sense? Cars had said that to Pucci, but I was guilty of the same thing. Even as I’d attempted to go against the man who’d invented Heaven, I’d gotten excited about a miracle that same man had prepared. I’d gotten obsessed with poking at the puzzle Pucci had solved. Even though that puzzle itself was worth refuting.

“I’m loath to admit it,”

Cars said.

“But at the moment this is all proceeding according to Dio Brando’s plan.”

It certainly was.

“It won’t be easy pulling one over on him. That crown of thorns allows him to know the future accurately, in great detail, and for a long time to come. How do you plan to pull one over on him, to catch him by surprise? Think on that, Detective.”

“…………”

“Who is capable of surprising him? Who has already taken him by surprise?”

When I was dragged into Valentine’s palms, he’d said,

“What the fuck…!?”

There was real surprise on his face.

I raised a hand.

“Me. I can surprise Dio.”

Then Cars asked,

“Why can you do that?”

And the second singularity is you, Jorge Joestar.

Those were Funny Valentine’s words, but it wasn’t because

I was a Singularity. I’d chosen to forget that idea.

You are born only once in this world, and there is no replacement for you in any other universe, or in any parallel world.

He’d said that, but I had no way of verifying that, no reason to believe it. At the time, Funny Valentine was busy fighting Cars. There were things I found believable about his message, but at the moment, I didn’t need to buy into it. And yet, I was still special. Why? Dio’s scream when Beyond stood behind him.

My blood calls to blood, and thus I know! I am the king of the world! I rule everything!

If the crown of thorns’ range was limited to his blood…then

“Because I’m adopted,”

I said.

I never dreamed having no blood relation to my parents would ever be a weapon. And only someone with a Beyond could defeat someone with a Beyond.

“That’s right,”

Cars said.

“I myself haven’t let that vampire drink my blood, but it seems he ate another ‘me’, and that ‘life’ counts as me. He might well have some idea what I’ll do. So we must rely on you.”

“Er.”

I never dreamed Cars-sempai would speak to me that

way.

“So, figure out how to get back to the past and pull the rug out from under Dio.”

“…wait, though, it isn’t that…I mean, even when I stepped in Dio still had us dancing on the palm of his hand.”

“Certainly, that vampire has a mysterious power, and an unusual drive. But you’ve been in your share of perilous situations and survived.”

“Yeah, but you’re a smart guy, Cars. It doesn’t have to be me, does it? If I hadn’t gone to that parallel world with you…if you hadn’t pulled me after you, what would you have done?”

“The point of Valentine’s plan was to overlap the parallel worlds. In other words, one layer wasn’t enough. Because even though there’s only one Stand per person, in the next universe someone with that same Stand might appear. The two Valentines prove that. And I can survive multiple universes, in this world or a parallel one. I would have sought out a Stand Master in that world, one who had the same Stand. And I would have found them. And I’d have used that Stand to return to the world I began in. I know that one more pass through history will lead to a world made of thirty-seven universes, so if I just wait long enough, I’ll be able to return to same universe and time. Even if I couldn’t find the Stand I needed if I wait through thirty-seven universes I could go to where another ‘Valentine’ would send another ‘me’ here, and get back to the world I came from.”

Maaan, ultimate beings sure were ready to play the long, long, long game.

“But if you did that, you and the other Cars would coexist, creating a paradox.”

“That applies to the real world as well. No such paradox was created. Perhaps your intervention was inevitable, but I’m sure I would have thought of some means of escaping.”

“………….”

“So?”

“Hunh?”

“How do we outmaneuver Dio?”

Don’t rush me, I thought, but I had already outmaneuvered Dio once, right? When I brought us back from the parallel world.

“Um, OK…but…?”

I said.

“Spit it out.”

“I only know one Stand that goes back in time.”

“…and?”

“Could Kira Yoshikage’s Killer Queen’s Bites the Dust help us out here?”

That only took people back an our. But Cars grinned at me.

“Explosions are hardly a threat to me.”

“Whaaaat? But we’re trying to get back thirty-six universes ago!”

“Time is also not a problem for me.”

Kira Yoshikage from the parallel world was no use. If Bites the Dust activated Kira alone would be moved to the past of that parallel world, which wasn’t the past we needed. It had to be the real world Kira Yoshikage…!

“But Kira Yoshikage is dead. In Morioh,”

I said.

“This idea is impossible on the face of it.”

“No, he isn’t dead,”

Cars said.

“Hunh? No, he’s dead, Pucci killed him.”

“There is no need to believe Enrico Pucci.”

“Hunnnh? But they found a lot of evidence…”

“They found it. You didn’t. You’re the detective here.”

“Right, but even in the parallel world Kawajiri Kosaku was Kira Yoshikage.”

“No. Kawajiri Kosaku was a bomb.”

“But he confessed…”

You’re right. I’m a serial killer.

Mm? I thought. This was a man tearing up in front of his family. Maybe what he means was that Bites the Dust had killed so man people he might as well be a serial killer? The fierceness with which he’d made his family run might well have been true love? And Kira Yoshikage had a thing for women’s hands. Yet when soup spilled on Kawajiri Shinobu’s hand and she’d said, Ow! What’s going on!? Kawajiri Kosaku hadn’t shown any interest in the burned hand and yelled, Just get out! I didn’t remember if Kawajiri Shinobu had beautiful hands and hadn’t checked in the first place, and maybe his wife and his victims weren’t the same to him but I felt like a fetish like that was harder to conceal in the spur of the moment…my experience as a detective agreed.

“Kawajiri Kosaku wasn’t Kira Yoshikage.”

Cars nodded.

“I knew that right away, even in that parallel world. He didn’t smell of blood at all, see. No matter how obsessed with cleanliness a human is, their senses only tell them so much, and to begin with washing doesn’t really get blood off, it just lets you feel like it has.”

“Uh, then you knew then?”

“Yes. But our goal was to activate the bomb.”

“Man…”

“? Why are you hung up on the fake man from the parallel world?”

Cars was lost. I was glad Kawajiri Kosaku hadn’t died. I was glad he’d kept his family from harm. That Kawajiri’s suffering hadn’t ended, and he’d had to go through that last hour again, but if we caught the

real Kira Yoshikage and made him lift Bites the Dust then history here would have an influence on that parallel world as well. And hopefully that would free that Kawajiri Kosaku. So how could we find Kira Yoshikage? That hand fetishist… If Kawajiri Kosaku had been Kira Yoshikage he would have worried about his wife’s hands, I thought. And Buccellati had told me what Kawajiri Shinobu did for a living. An election official. If she was a Japanese election official then had she worked in one of those election loudspeaker trucks? She was still young and attractive. People in those trucks wore white gloves and waved out the windows. That would attract attention, and even with your hand out the window all day long you wouldn’t get sunburned with gloves on. Kira Yoshikage would consider that a relief, I thought. Um? A job with lots of young, beautiful women wearing gloves… an election office. The Morioh Mayor’s campaign. Shishimaru Denta and Kumoi Takumi. The current mayor, Shishimaru Denta, had a male secretary. But when Shishimaru stood with Buccellati at Budogaoka Academy, his face swollen, the secretary was nowhere to be found. I could say with confidence that no secretary would hand a politician over to the mob. Quite the opposite; secretaries would put themselves on the line for the politicians. There should have been a secretary standing with him, his face even more swollen, and he would take all questions for Shishimaru, and never let the man answer himself. So where had his secretary gone? I couldn’t remember what the man looked like. He’d been so plain looking. Plain in a handsome way, but a man who’s job appeared to be trying not to stand out.

I called Buccellati in Morioh from Funny’s parallel world,

and quickly explained that Kawajiri Kosaku was a fake and we had to find Kira Yoshikage again, but Buccellati said,

“Sure, but we’re trapped in here and can’t move.”

“But there are still detectives in Morioh, right? Runbaba 12 and Daibakusho Curry. Have them look into it. They know what they’re doing, right?”

They might be a bit eccentric, but still.

“So I have an idea, but first one question. The guy who died in Kira Yoshikage’s place, Kawaijiri Kosaku…he had a wife, Shinobu. She was an election official, right?”

“Mm? Yeah.”

“Which side was she working for?”

“Shishimaru Denta.”

“Do you know his secretary’s name?”

“Hold on…yes, we do. Kunimido Chien.”

Ah ha.

“Then check him out.”

Then I called Narancia and had him bring Penelope down here.

“Sure, but you’d better not fucking scare her!”

Narancia said. Apparently she’d won him over. When Penelope reached ground level she took one look at Cars and the Valentines and froze. Oops, guess that was a bit intimidating.

“Penelope, over here!”

I said, but she didn’t budge.

“No! I’m scared! How can you make a girl come to a place like this?”

“A girl…how old are you again, Penelope?”

“Don’t ever ask a girl her age!”

Yeah, yeah. But I needed her to do me a favor.

“Just get out of there!”

she said. I was talking to her with just my face poking out from between Funny’s palms. I shook my head.

“I gotta be in here or the phone won’t work.”

While I was explaining my idea to Penelope Buccellati called back.

“We found him! You were right, Kunimido Chien is our man! The real Kira Yoshikage at last! He blew several detectives up. We also found a bachelor he was about to kill in the basement of that

man’s home. He’s on the brink of death, seems like he was badly tortured, but he’s still alive. We’re headed to join the chase now!”

“Hunh? You are? You can get out of Cube House now?”

“No! The Cube House itself is moving! Ha ha ha! The entire house is rolling like a die! It’s crazy, but kinda awesome! I’ll call you back.”

I had Cars bring Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem down, and while he was doing that Buccellati called again.

“Shit! Damn it! We caught Kunimido Chien but the man he was torturing…that sack of shit! It was Jorge Joestar! He fucked up his face and body and he’s dead! He’s fucking dead! God fucking dammit! We’re gonna fucking kill Kunimido Chien!”

I took a deep breath.

“You can’t. Absolutely do not kill Kunimido Chien. I need you to drop him and Antonio Torres through the hole in the Cube House.”

“What!? You want us to let him escape through time!?”

“Don’t worry. I think the Cube House’s time travel device isn’t for the person falling. If it was, Tsukumojuku wouldn’t have died. Or ‘Jorge Joestar’. Or Shiobana Haruno…Giorno Giovanna would have come back in one piece as well.”

That device took the person falling and sent them to help someone in the world. I was sure of it. And we needed him most of all right now. He would be most useful to us.

“………….”

“Check with Sugimoto Reimi. Oh, and…Buccellati. I promise we’ll cause Kunimido Chien more pain than a simple lynching ever could.”

I felt like I’d become a gangster myself. But ‘Jorge Joestar’ was dead? What should I do with that information? Tell Penelope? Tell Elizabeth? Send word to Grandma

Erina? I had to do all of those things. But I couldn’t now. Penelope would go out of her mind. She’d kill the shit out of Kunimido Chien. I mean, the lady had turned Antonio Torres into a giant wall covering all of England when she thought he’d killed Jorge. She thought he was still alive in the future for now, but I couldn’t begin to predict what she’d do if she found out he’d died after all. At any rate, Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem made it safely through Antonio Torres’ throat, was spat out into the sky above us, and then Cars guided it back down to our level just as Kunimido Chien and Antonio Torres appeared out of thin air next to the fountain. I’d been considering punching him on sight, but clearly the gangsters hadn’t been able to resist beating the shit out of him before they dropped Kunimido Chien/Kira Yoshikage through the hole to Piccadilly Circus. It looked like we wouldn’t even need to have Cars use The World Ultimate to stop time. He was a fastidious looking, handsome man.

“Ever heard of Dio Brando?”

I asked. If he hadn’t, I couldn’t see why a hand loving woman killing pervert would suddenly turn around and torture ‘Jorge Joestar’ to death.

“All I want,”

Kira said.

“Is to live a quiet life. The only reason I ever set off these deafening bombs is so that I can have that quiet life. But what am I to do when people come after me that won’t be silenced by a bomb or two? When someone shows up that I will never be able to get away from? I do what I must. Killing one man is a small price to pay. If I clean and wash and disinfect the dirt will come off.”

Now what, I thought. But behind me Cars spoke,

“You fool. Like I keep saying, the way you do things you’ll never get rid of the blood or their bodily fluids. Humans aren’t nearly sensitive enough to blood. That’s why you’re so weak. You don’t even know this is here, do you?”

Cars reached out his hand, touched the tip just to just below Kira Yoshikage’s lips, just above the chin. He showed his

finger tip to Kira Yoshikage, but there was nothing we could see on it.

“Even this trace amount of blood harbors life. Especially if the owner wants to haunt you, and is desperate to live. Have you ever seen the shape of life? No matter how much water you use, you can never wash the blood away.”

Some round, transparent thing swelled up from Cars’ fingertip, and soon became the head of a young woman, dangling upside-down from his finger, staring at Kira Yoshikage. Not glaring, no sign of rage…just staring.

“You kill with sudden explosions so she doesn’t know she’s dead or how,”

Cars said.

“They’re all like that. They’ve got so little blood left they can’t do anything to you, but they’re all watching you.”

The woman’s head dangling from his finger, Cars reached out and touched Kira Yoshikage. The head attached itself to Kira’s abdomen, and around it more bubbles formed, and as they grew more formed around them.

“Ah…augh…aughhhhh!”

Kira Yoshikage shrieked, and tried to shake and brush the heads off him, but they just kept increasing in number. Since the heads were transparent I could still make him out at first, but soon there were so many they completely buried him. Kira Yoshikage had turned into a writhing pile of human heads.

“Auuuuuughhhh! Auuuuuuuuughhhhhh!”

All we could hear was the screams coming from inside. In time, they grew fainter, and stopped.

“Make sure he doesn’t die of shock,”

I said.

“Heh heh heh, you are no judge of human limits. Human bodies are weak, but their minds are strong. Look at these dead women. Traces of blood far less than a drop still harbor this much life.”

“Yeah. But I just feel sorry for them. I can’t watch this.”

“I see.”

Cars reached out his hand, touched the side of the 5m long human head grapevine, and the women’s heads shrank and were gone. Kira Yoshikage came back into view. I stepped closer to check

on him, and his eyes were hollow, and he was muttering under his breath, and for a moment I was glad to see him still alive and then I heard what he was saying.

“Filth. Filth. Gotta throw these clothes away. Got to always wear new clothes, never old ones. Filth. My nails must be filthy. Got to throw them out. There must be stuff left under my nails from when I touched the girls. Filth. Filthy nails. Gotta peel them off. Peel off all my nails. Grow new nails. Oh, my skin’s filthy, too. My skin is filthy. Can’t bear it. Gotta take it off. Take my skin and these clothes off. Peel it off. Peel my skin and my nails off. Grow new skin.”

Grow new skin. Like Antonio Torres? Would Kira Yoshikage end up like him, able to replace his skin and nails at incredible speeds? Peel them off whenever? I shuddered, but this was entirely possible. Wounds. Perhaps human minds were as strong as Cars said. I had to settle this before he gained a new power from the suffering he’d just endured.

“Cars, let’s go.”

“Yes.”

I spoke to Kira.

“Good and evil, divine and demonic, right and wrong…I have always believed there are shades of gray to all things, and I think I’m right about that. Even you…are not entirely evil. You see, you’re going to do something for us that only you can do, and that will save the world. Be that as it may, I believe this world is mostly good, and will continue to condemn evil as I see it. Because this world’s scale leans safely on the side of good, people like me can go around saying shit like, ‘There is no absolute good or evil’ and sound reasonable. So I’m grateful to you. Thank you for

saving the world, Kira Yoshikage. Good-bye.”

Cars crouched down next to Kira.

“From here is our little rendezvous. We’ll be together for all of this.”

But rather than help Kira Yoshikage up, Cars pulled Killer Queen out of him. It was a humanoid Stand with a smooth, cat-like face. It took a swing at Cars, but he didn’t care.

“Go ahead and give it a try.”

Killer Queen blew Cars up.

“Wait…too close!”

Kira said, but Killer Queen pressed the switch anyway. Boom! Cars swelled up a bit and flames erupted from cracks in his skin, but they died as soon as they began and he was back to normal. Killer Queen’s face was devoid of expression, but it had clearly not expected that.

“Keep going until you get it,”

Cars said, and Killer Queen hit the switch again, and again, and was clearly making the bombs bigger each time trying to blow Cars up, but boom, bang, ka-boom, all the explosions were contained entirely inside Cars. He just let a little flame or backdraft out and was fine. At last he said,

“Get it now?”

and the explosions stopped.

“Unh…what are you doing, Killer Queen!? Kill him!”

Kira snarled.

“The fact that you still haven’t given up is the difference between your life and your ability. The answer to that equation is the hopeless situation you find yourself in, and the pathetic line you just uttered. Hmph. You wish your Stand to solve everything for you while you lie there and take it easy?”

“N…no, I…!”

“I wouldn’t even qualify that as trying to live. You’re just being lazy, and pushing your problems onto others. A quiet life? If by any chance you manage to achieve that for a single moment it won’t be because of anything you did. It will be purely because of the talent you were born with, that you happened to ride out. You

yourself and your talent are separate things, understand? You are but a fool trying to take the easy way out.”

“…unh…!”

“Heh, all you can do is grunt? And even that is because you persist in trying to protect your tedious pride. Even though you long since gave up on trying to protect your talent. Heh heh heh. I see right through you. Deep down in your heart, you’re envious of that talent. You’re annoyed it exists. You want to believe you’re this amazing person, but what actually gets results is the one standing next to you. This is the inherent sin of all Stands. They take human forms, stand right beside you, and prove that your personality and talent are unrelated.”

“………..!”

Having brow-beaten Kira into silence, Cars turned back to Killer Queen.

“It seems your Master’s vanity had left him immobile. So let me ask you. Set one of those bombs that turn back time on your Master.”

Killer Queen stared at Cars, and then went back inside Kira.

“Stop…! How can you listen to him…!”

Kira said, but Killer Queen ignored him, vanishing from view.

“You are now a bomb,”

Cars said. He picked Kira up.

“Come, Stand Master. Once again, you survive…all because your talent is distinct from you. Pampered humans are but so much baggage.”

The abuse had Kira shaking, tears in his eyes, but Cars just grabbed him bodily, sprouted wings, and took off towards the sky. He was beautiful. If only I had wings! I thought, but they wouldn’t look half as good on me, so I figured I was better off without. As Cars wheeled above us, Funny Valentine called up to him.

“Wait, Cars! Let me do what I can to ease your burden! Such as it is.”

“Speak,”

Cars said.

“We know the approximate date that the pieces of the holy

man were gathered and hidden in Trinity Church. This occurred in the second universe – in other words, thirty-five universes ago – on January 19th, 1891, at 4:30 PM. Right after the finish for the first ever Steel Ball Run!”

“………….”

“That’s one less universe you have to turn back, and that much less time you have to search through!”

“…ha ha ha! I spent thousands of years in Europe, but your American jokes aren’t half bad, either!”

“Heh heh.”

“I thank you then, Funny Valentine. If you want off the ship, do so now.”

And with that Cars, flew higher, and with Killer Queen by his side, flew through Antonio Torres’ half-dead mouth, and out of the rhinoceros beetle’s armor.

“So the world is going to be saved by a serial killer and the ultimate being,”

Elizabeth said, coming up next to me.

“But he’d better hurry. Antonio Torres will die any moment.”

“Yes. But he’ll be in time.”

I had faith in Beyond, and we had Penelope and the original Antonio Torres here, as well as Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem. I’d asked Penelope to make repairs to Antonio Torres. We’d put Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem in Antonio Torres, speeding his time up so he was spitting out a ton of new Antonio Torres, which were inhaled into the dying one. The new ones would eventually die with him, but this would prolong that. Penelope was not a fan of this gruesome task, and I’d had to work pretty hard to persuade her. She didn’t really seem to get the purpose of it, but had eventually bought into my desperation.

“Ha ha. It’ll all be fine.”

“You know,”

Elizabeth said.

“Your face and personality are nothing like him, but somehow you remind me of my Jorge. You’re a lot alike.”

“Thank you?”

“Heh heh heh. My Jorge would have said the exact same thing in that exact same tone of voice.”

I wondered if I should tell her that ‘Jorge Joestar’ was dead. She still believed he was alive. But I didn’t want to upset her now. Although that might not be best for her in the long run.

“Oh, looks like they’ve started,”

Elizabeth said, eyes on the sky. I looked up. Outside Great Britain, time was going backwards an hour at a time. Pop. Popop. Popopopopopop. The speed quickly grew faster, and smoother. The moon and sun rose backwards across the sky, and fell. The speed grew even faster. Which meant Cars was making Kira’s Bites the Dust blow him up more often. And each explosion took him back an hour, and Cars was planning on doing this until he went back thirty-five universes from now. Once the repairs to the armor Penelope was making were good enough we could put Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiem in Cars and make that hour shorter…but that would only shrink his perception of the explosion, not the number of explosions needed. And Cars had agreed to do that all himself. For who? Cars didn’t actually have a reason to do this. This thought almost made me cry. That man was sacrificing so much.

“What?”

Elizabeth said. I wiped my tears.

“This adventure’s almost over.”

The helicopter with The Funniest aboard rushed through Antonio’s mouth, out of the armor, waved at Cars, and flew off, headed to somewhere in America.

Trinity Church was located at 79 Broadway, New York, with an entrance on Wall Street. It was built in 1696, and rebuilt in the

current gothic style in 1846. Funny Valentine led us to the secret underground facility beneath it. NYPD Blue accompanied us. As Great Britain went back in time, Morioh got its legs under it and turned back over, and the phones started working again, but when I explained my plan over the pebble phone NYPD Blue insisted that Manhattan Island was his territory and dragged Nijimura Fukashigi here through the hole in the Cube House. So he could make himself useful. From the road nearby we could hear cheers and people calling

“President Valentine”. The sky above lower Manhattan was filled with confetti, drifting down on us. Until a moment ago we’d heard loud booming noises, but that was Cars, above us, enjoying Killer Queen Bites the Dust’s explosions. He’d released the power now. With real fireworks going off instead, we passed through the back gate, went around the back of the cemetery, and into a shelter disguised as a crypt. The door was already open, and there was a girl sitting on the floor inside, trembling and crying. There was a headless corpse at her feet. The corpse was dressed like a jockey, in riding boots. This was this universe’s Dio Brando. I had no idea how he’d ended up like this. And on the corpse’s back was the Dio Brando who’d been born in the first universe, become a vampire, become an ultimate being thirty-six universes later, had his body broken to pieces and then gone forward two more universes as just a head looking for a new body. There was a table behind Dio and the girl, and a different, mummified corpse lying on it. This corpse had holes in its hands and feet, and on its head you could just barely see the crown of thrones. The body of the holy man, the secret purpose of the Steel Ball Run. All brought together here; all that remained was to close the door. It had all just begun.

“Heh heh heh…I thank you, Lucy Steel!”

Dio said.

“Because your womb held the head of the holy man I was able to reach this spot without anyone suspecting the truth, and now I can reclaim my body!”

I didn’t know what he meant by all of that, but the situation was clear enough. Except for the head, eight of the nine body parts were ‘Ultimate Being’ Dio’s body. That was fine. From what he’d just said, a head belonging to no holy man was here, too, but that was likely a miracle. One brought about not by Dio, but by the man who stood behind him, the long-haired, wounded man with the crown of thorns. From the cut on Dio’s head, tubes emerged…blood vessels, I assumed. They writhed like he was a jellyfish or octopus, pulling him across the table towards the body.

“When I get my body back, Dio’s eternal rule will begin! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

And now it was our turn.

“You never did know how to treat girls, Dio,”

Erina Joestar said, stepping out of the shadows.

“’My body, my body’. When are you going to accept the facts and learn some self-control?”

Penelope was by her side; she’d gone to fetch Erina from Wastewood. I’d loaned the Das Boot disc in my head to her to make the trip, and it was back in my head now. Erina went on,

“Can you still say that with me here, Dio Brando?”

“How…?”

Dio was momentarily surprised by her arrival, but soon got his smirk back.

“It has been a while, Erina Pendleton. This does bring back memories…of our time together on that box raft.”

Erina smiled.

“Not memories I think of fondly. I doubt you enjoy remembering those events either.”

“Why wouldn’t I? Heh heh heh. Did you truly believe you defeated me then? Your spirit was indeed impressive! The way you cut your own throat! But no, you did not escape me that day. I let you go, certain that the final victory would belong to Dio! Because I needed you to continue the Joestar bloodline!”

“So? You planned to be a parasite on my son and grandson, purely to fulfill your own desires? Such a shallow way of thinking, and yet you actually have the nerve to brag about it. Even your father had the sense to behave himself in front of my father-inlaw.”

“………..! Don’t you dare mention him!”

“You still fly into a rage at the thought of him? All this time and you’re still trapped by your parent’s curse. You’ve lived more than long enough to grow up, but you refuse to take responsibility for anything. If you had the time to steal glimpses of my heir’s lives, you should have spent some time reflecting on your own life.”

“I have no need of your tedious sermons! Be silent, Erina Joestar! When I get my body back, I’ll kill you first! You’ve already had your child! It’s time for you to make your exit!”

Time for our next guest.

“That child would be my husband,”

Elizabeth Joestar said, stepping out of the darkness. At her bosom was a baby; Joseph Joestar, only a few months old.

“And now that I’ve had a child of my own, is it time for me to make my exit, too?”

Dio could not conceal his surprise. It had been my idea to bring Joseph along. He was not in any danger.

“How…are you mad!? Why would you bring a baby here!?”

Dio roared, so confused he actually spoke sense.

“Heh heh heh, don’t worry,”

Elizabeth said.

“This place is rather dingy, but it will hold a special place in the heart of every Joestar.”

“Whaaaat….!?”

And at last it was my turn.

“One important person is still missing,”

Erina said. Elizabeth called my name.

“Jorge, come out!”

I leapt forward.

“Hey hey hey!”

I yelled.

Dio Brando’s jaw dropped.

This was working.

The key to our strategy was catching Dio off guard. With The Passion, Dio could read most events. But when I intervened, the future changed. And according to Cars, the point at which Dio had left Made in Heaven Ultimate Requiemwas one universe before this one, the first of the thirty-seven universes, one morning in Egypt in 1987, right after the vampire double he’d prepared had fought Joseph Joestar and his grandson, Kujo Jotaro, and died. Having faked his death as a vampire, he recovered his Stand. Dio Brando could read the future with The Passion and use The World Ultimate to stop time so he was at peak power. And as someone not related to him by blood, it was critical that I upend expectations in every way I could think of. At the top of my lungs, I yelled,

“Welcome to the Joestar family reunion! I’m Jorge Joestar, and I’ll be your host today.”

“Jorge Joestar?”

Dio said.

“No…how?”

I imagined he was asking how that could be my name when I was clearly Japanese, or perhaps more specifically he was questioning the fact that Jonda Joestar had not children, but Elizabeth said,

“Surprise? You had the mafia boss take him from Cube House and you turned him into a vampire double and then had his son and great-grandson kill him, or at least his body, so how is he here?”

Elizabeth’s ad-libbed deductions caught me off guard. Yeah, that was a simpler explanation, I thought. Far simpler than using a secret child who was secretly helping him. Having Elizabeth totally nail his original plan seemed to stun Dio to silence.

Now, I thought, and turned it up a notch.

“Well, there’s a bit of tension in the room so I’d say it’s time for me to perform a special party trick! With mah belly ♡!”

And I yanked my shirt up, exposing my belly. Cars was hiding in my bellybutton, and he jumped out. I still couldn’t believe it had occurred to me to ask Cars to do this, and when Cars had simply agreed to it without a second’s thought I’d panicked slightly. I even had him say,

“Boo!”, making for the least Cars-like thing he’d ever said, and quite frankly I’m not entirely sure he had any understanding of quite how goofy this all was, but in mid-air he got back in character.

“If the world is a loop, you can never get away, Dio Brando. Are you ready to savor despair?”

Yikes, saying shit that might make Dio calm down a little, but we didn’t have time for me to point that out and I didn’t have the nerve in the first place. Not a problem. I just kept going.

“A big round of applause for our special guest, Cars! And you know what that means! Cars’ special self-made ladder! It’s the Ultimate! You’ll never forget it!”

From inside my stomach, Funny Valentine produced seven parallel world ‘Cars’ and flung them up towards where Cars was floating. Each had a Cars version of The World Ultimate, and could stop time, so a latter of eight ‘Cars’ stretched from my stomach towards the body of the ‘holy man’ but even when they touched their bodies weren’t destroyed. Dio was so flabbergasted he forgot to put his own Stand out. Instead, he sputtered,

“Wh-what!? What are you doing!?”

“And time resumes,”

Cars said, and at this signal I started running up the Cars ladder. Beneath my legs the ‘Cars’ were knocked into each other, turned into Menger Sponges, fell apart, and vanished. Bam bam bam bam bam! When my run finished, Dio’s attention was entirely

on their destruction. As the seven ‘Cars’ crumbled, they got a bit close to the eighth Cars, and when he noticed, he kicked the wall to put some distance between them. When he did, for an instant I was exposed. I’d been waiting for that moment. I’d thought of all kinds of things to say, but what actually popped out in that moment?

“Dipshit! You’re a disgrace to everyone adopted! You should never have fucked with us!”

I have no idea what I meant by that last bit but I said what I said and had to live with it. Like, I hated that this made it sound like what he’d done for the reputation of adopted kids was what bothered me about him but too late now. As long as I could get that shocked look on his face. Before he recovered from any of these surprises, I landed on the table where the body was placed. Right next to the corpse. And the table itself was about the same size as the thing that goes in the oven during cremations.

“Wh-what are you doing!? Stop!”

Dio yelled, but Funny handed me a hatchet and I used it to chop the holy man’s head clean off.

“Namu-amida-butsu!”

Thwack! This wasn’t anyone’s head. It was just a supplemental one, created by a miracle. I got it off in one hit, tossed the hatchet away, and grabbed another head that Funny passed out of my stomach. The head Erina Joestar had kept safe all these years, the head of her husband. The start of all of this.

Jonathan Joestar’s head.

At last Dio realized what I was doing. He screamed.

“No, no! Stoooooop! That’s my bodyyyyy! I trained it, I made it the ultimate being! It’s mine! Noooooooooooooo!”

I ignored him, and put Jonathan Joestar’s head right on the fresh cut stump of the mummified ‘holy man’. Jonathan Joestar’s head looked even fresher, and it matched the cut perfectly. This was the place where it belonged, and now it was back. Human bodies had such strong identities, I thought; all of this was only possible because me and the other ‘Jorge Joestar’ and Dio all had Beyonds, but those three Beyonds were actually one. The Trinity. I turned around and looked right past Dio’s severed head at the face of his Beyond. It looked a lot like him. Sad, kind eyes. Dio’s Beyond knew this was all over. With a smile, it faded out, and was gone.

“Hey, Jorge Joestar! Look!”

Funny said, his head peering out of my belly. I turned to see Jonathan Joestar’s head fully connected to his body, his eyes open, a light back in them. Blood pumping back into his head; I could see the life coming back to him. His skin went from being like dried papier-mâché to a healthy gleam. To be honest this was all kind of gross.

“Good, it worked!”

I said, backing away. Nobody would mistake this body for a corpse now. I hopped down off the table, and he groaned and sat up. Realizing he was naked, Erina took off her shawl, and wrapped it around his waist. He groaned again, and brushed his hair back out of his eyes. For a moment I could see the crown of thorns; the same one Dio Brando had had. The Passion.

“Heh heh heh!”

The man on the table suddenly began laughing, and we all caught our breaths.

“Jonathan?”

Erina said, worried.

“Heh heh heh…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

The man grinned.

“Erina Joestar! When I cut Jonathan’s head off on that boat, did you forget I gave him a little of my blood? At the time, I merely planned to let Jonathan experience the pain and suffering that lies beyond death…but now it has allowed me to take full control of his body and his head! I thank you! Like I’ve said all along, this world belongs to Dio!”

Funny and I were both struck dumb with horror. Elizabeth and Cars looked astonished, too. Only Erina looked perfectly calm.

“Oh, come on, Jonathan! First thank the nice people. Really, this is no time for joking around!”

Hunnhhhhhhhhh? Jonathan Joestar’s naked ass broke into a broad, warm smile.

“Ah ha ha ha! Sorry, sorry, couldn’t resist,”

he chuckled.

“I don’t remember anything after I passed out in that sinking ship; to me it’s as if I just closed my eyes and opened them a moment later, but at the same time I feel like I’ve had a very long dream. And that was sort of an inside joke based on that dream. Right, Dio?”

We all turned at his words, and the jockey’s body on the floor was standing up, with Dio’s head on its shoulders. He’d managed to get himself a body after all!

“Honestly,”

Dio said.

“I am sick to death of the lot of you. Not one good thing has ever come from associating with any of you.”

And he vanished into the darkness of the stairs behind him. None of us moved to give chase.

“…we sure?”

I said, just to be sure.

“Yeah,”

Elizabeth said.

“I mean, this is the Joestar family reunion!”

Since I’d met her, there’d been a hint of desperation to her every expression, but her smile now was bright, open, and totally gorgeous. Tch. ← Mm?

“I’m back, Erina,”

the half-naked man said.

“Welcome back, Jonathan,”

Erina said, tears flooding down her face.

“Sorry I kept you waiting. Thanks for looking after things.”

“No, no…But…but I’m sorry. Jorge…Jorge is…!”

Erina could barely get the words out, and Elizabeth’s smile faded, but Jonathan looked confused.

“Jorge? Isn’t that Jorge there?”

he said, looking at me.

“He’s the future Jorge Joestar, Jonathan.”

Erina said. I felt super guilty suddenly.

“Um…”

“No, inside him!”

Jonathan had it figured out.

“Um, well…sorry!”

I said, and dropped to my hands and knees for a very Japanese apology that would almost certainly be completely lost on everyone here. Just as I did this…

“Tah-dahhh!”

‘Jorge Joestar’ leapt out of the parallel world inside me and banged his head on the concrete, and because of my posture no one but me could even see him. With my hands and knees on the ground and his head stuck out between my arms I started arguing with ‘Jorge’.

“Ow! What the heck are you doing!?”

“Uh, you know, things got awkward and…”

“Don’t worry, we go big enough it’ll be fine!”

“I super promise you that isn’t true.”

“Just stand the fuck up! Seriously, what are you even doing?”

“Shut up.”

“Oh, wait, I know this! Tsukumojuku told me about it!”

“………!”

“The Japanese dogeza! Pfft ha ha ha! That’s how you show total submission to someone Japanese, right?”

“I

said, shut up!”

Before we could bicker further, psssht! Electricity crackled across the floor.

“Auughhh!”

I said, and the other ‘Jorge’ yelped too, and my body stood up on its own and I couldn’t move. Elizabeth was standing in front of us, Joseph in her arms, giving us the devil’s own glare and I had to concentrate very hard to not piss myself and in my belly Jorge went,

“Arrghhrghhrghrgh woah woah woah woah woah I I I I’m gonna I’m gonna piss myself oh shit I did sorry!”

No! Not inside me!? But I guess that parallel world wasn’t actually inside me but still! Gross!

“Jorge?”

she said, very calmly.

“Yes.”

“What are you doing?”

“Um, well…”

“Get out.”

“Um, sure. But…”

“What?”

“Kira Yoshikage tortured me pretty bad so everything’s a bit scary right now…”

“……….”

“So I thought I’d make a nice happy fresh start but, uh…it didn’t really work out like I planned.”

That was the point I’d been trying to make. We’d figured it would be a fun surprise and had thoroughly enjoyed planning it but in the heat of the actual moment…well, people picked up on our nervousness and the mood went south and nothing really worked out. But then Elizabeth said,

“You’re a clumsy, fretful, awkward man so it can’t possibly be that bad. You’ve always been like this.”

‘Jorge’ looked up.

“Lisa Lisa…”

Elizabeth smiled.

“Now, Jorge. Come on out of there.”

“OK!

‘Jorge’ scrambled out of me, and Elizabeth knelt down next to him.

“You’re an idiot, Jorge! Don’t you ever dare die again, for real or not!”

she said, tears in her eyes. She gave him a kiss, and that psssht happened again like he was struck by lightning.

“Argghrghrgghrghh!”

‘Jorge’ said, convulsing. I was freaking out behind him.

“H-Hey, be gentle!”

After all ‘Jorge’ had literally been dead when they’d found him in Kunimido Chien’s house in Morioh. But he’d come back to life after they brought him back to the Cube House and Sugimoto Reimi had started crying and shaking his body. Two full hours after death, a completely impossible turn of events, but Reimi said she’d seen a half-translucent ‘Jorge’ flying inside her and I believed her. Somewhere somehow ‘Jorge’ had learned how to remove his soul, and when Kira Yoshikage got him, he’d separated it from his body and come back once the torture was over. Because he wasn’t big on pain. When the kiss was over Elizabeth realized ‘Jorge’ was about to pass out and panicked.

“Hunh? What!? Sorry, Jorge, did I use Hamon? I really didn’t mean to, honest! It’s just been so long! I forgot!”

In her arms, Joseph was laughing happily.

“Leave him be, Lisa Lisa,”

Jonathan said.

“He’s a man, he’ll be fine. Ah ha ha ha! That was some fantastic Hamon, though!”

Elizabeth smiled, too.

“Thank you. But I’ve still got a lot to learn. According to Master Tom Petty, anyway…”

The Joestars all started talking at once, and I realized ‘Jorge’ had woken up again but missed his chance to speak. Our eyes met. ‘Jorge’ gave me a faint smile, like, ‘Families, eh?’ so I sent him a message back. ‘Yeah, but they’re yours.’ Well, maybe that didn’t come across in a glance but Jorge winked back at me. Winked!? What was that supposed to mean! I thought about it for a second and then gave up. He wasn’t exactly someone who put meaning in every action to begin with, I mean,

look at the timing he chose to come bounding out of me, so odds were he didn’t mean anything in particular by it. Maybe that’s why he was so popular with the ladies. The place still smelled like blood despite the merriment, but Erina noticed Lucy Steel staring at them.

“Your nightmare’s over,”

she said.

“I’m sure this can’t have been easy for you, but…”

“Erina Pendleton?”

Lucy said, interrupting.

“Yes. That’s my maiden name.”

“Mine, too. I was Lucy Pendleton. Now I’m Lucy Steel.”

“My.”

“Um…I’m married to someone else, but…it’s important to keep the faith, isn’t it?”

Erina smiled, and nodded.

“Keeping the faith is the only way to deepen love, to add richness to it, and to turn love into strength.”

“Good.”

“I’m glad we could meet, Lucy Steel.”

“Me too, Erina Joestar,”

Lucy replied. Tears ran down her checks, but even Lucy didn’t seem to know why. Erina smiled gently at her, and then Jonathan and Jorge and Elizabeth and Joseph all came in for a group hug. It was time I went back to my own family. I looked at Cars, and chuckled at how bored he looked. Oh! of course he did! Perfect.♡♡♡

I left the Joestar family to it and went upstairs. Penelope came with me. Hunh? I thought, and glanced at her.

“I mean, I live with them and I’m like family but big changes are in store for the Joestars now, so I’ve gotta change too. It’s time I left the nest.”

“It is?”

“Yes. So…what’s everyone else doing?”

“I wanna go back to Morioh!”

Nijimura Fukashigi said. He’d been hiding behind a grave.

“Look, that dude who came running out looked scary.”

Nothing good ever came of running into Dio Brando. For sure.

“Whaaaaat!? But I live here!”

NYPD Blue yelled. He started begging Fukashigi to stay longer, but got talked down.

“OK, OK, OK. I promise I’ll apply to a college here. I’ve never been away from Muryotaisu and I’m scared of the whole thing but…it’ll be easier than any of this mess was, and being on my own in a city like this could be kinda fun.”

College?

Funny Valentine went back to his own universe.

“I wanted to uncover the secret to America’s prosperity. And I wanted to protect that secret. And if I’m totally honest I sort of wanted to be that secret. But I’ve learned my lesson. What makes America great is the people who live in it, not anyone lying underground or in the heavens above. And that lesson will be my treasure.”

I hope he becomes a great President. One who spreads joy and peace to the world, and reduces pain and suffering.

Penelope was interested in Japan.

“I mean, my Stand is in Nishi Akatsuki, right? I should go see

it!”

? Wasn’t this the result before the cause? Nah, I wasn’t gonna argue it. Come!

“And I only ever made it to London! I want an adventure!

They’re a lot harder to start on your own than you’d think.”

Well, that’s what she said at the time but once we got to Nishi Akatsuki rather a lot happened and even more crazy stuff happened and then two years later she married my father, Jonda, and became Penelope Joestar, her registration going from Spain to England to Japan. What the heck. A year later they had a kid. A girl! I was totally mad for my new sister. But they named her Joeko Joestar. I mean, if you’ve got no ear for it at all don’t try and give us Japanese-esque names! If we’re gonna be Japanese, we should really give up the whole Jojo yoke.

Cars used the exhausted Kira Yoshikage he’d hidden inside himself to take everyone back to their own universe, and once we were all back he disappeared, but whenever I met up with people from Morioh or Nero Nero Island we’d talk about how crazy he was and wonder what he was up to. I didn’t know. I didn’t need to know. I was sort of scared to know.

Anyway, I kept doing my detective thing in Nishi Akatsuki and finally turned twenty and could change my name. Of course, I went with Jorge Joestar for the English spelling. The Japanese name was a little trickier. I’d tried all sorts of kanji for it but when I actually tried writing them out they all were a little bit wrong. And then I happened to talk to ‘Jorge’ for the first time in a while. At this point he and his wife were separated. Apparently almost losing him had made Elizabeth afraid of losing him and

she’d been reluctant to get back together again…officially. I was pretty sure she was just off on some big adventure with Joseph that she wasn’t telling Jorge about. Since he was legally dead in England, he went to America and started working as a screenwriter in Hollywood under the pen name Motorize Jump, waiting for her to come back to him. I think he was rather an idiot but oh well. Anyway, while ‘Jorge’ was complaining endlessly about Tom Petty’s prophecy and what it had done to him and Lisa Lisa, I began to wonder. Maybe I should ask Tom Petty about my name. So I picked up the pebble and called across space time and the result made me think I’d been an idiot to ask anyone from a country without kanji but then I looked at it again and sort of liked it which was bad. It was just super weird from a Japanese perspective. So why did it feel right? Maybe Jonda and I were family after all. Wasn’t sure if that made me happy or sad. I mean, Joestar was always just Jo-suta- in katakana, but using ‘castle’ and ‘character’ for Joji was just madness!

[End]

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