You Made Me Do This

Nasser’s Bizarre Adventure, Part III: Sunburst Crusaders, OVA Chapters 11-13

Finally, after forty-eight days of trial, tribulation, and numerous stand fights with a varied rogue gallery, the Sunburst Crusaders had finally arrived in front of Lisa’s mansion on October 25th of 2016.

Leah Nasser smiled, looking back at her motley crew. “Before we enter this mansion, I want you all to know that, from the bottom of my heart, I’ve enjoyed our time together. Even if we don’t succeed, I wouldn’t have done it any different.” Her smile changed into her characteristic grin as her stand, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer Act 3, a blue, vaguely human stand with antlers dressed as a highywaywoman, appeared behind her to cheer her on. “Now let’s kick some vampire ass!”

Her grandmother Sara was the first to cheer, summoning Fools in Love (a two-headed, vaguely robotic heart-shaped humanoid) to high five for emphasis. Tyler St. Helens, the Rock Human who had been conscripted by the GWU Foundation to help Sara and Leah on their quest, was the second the cheer, Radiation (a wispy thing resembling an anthropomorphic fox’s upper half) cheering along with him. Maria, the enigmatic stand user who had strayed from Lisa’s side, only clapped, but it was clear from Sonne’s (a four-armed orange humanoid covered in orange-gold jewelry, with a creepy smile and black eyes) enthusiastic applause that she was just as excited as the rest of them.

Leah turned back to face the mansion. A tall, twisted thing, built in the heart of old Algiers. Only by a chance encounter with White, one of Lisa’s hired muscle, were they able to properly identify who and what owned it. Still, even as Leah stepped forward, an immense feeling of trepidation washed over her. That…thing was in there, waiting for them, practically begging them to come in. Even with her friends beside her, Leah couldn’t help but feel as if somehow, Lisa had prepared for even this eventuality. “…Grandma, get FiL to scout ahead.”

Grandma Sara nodded, grinning. “And here I thought we were just going to charge in. Well, in that case, Fools in Love!” Fools in Love split in two, one half scanning the building, the other half drawing a blueprint of the mansion in the sand. Leah watched the whole thing unfold before her, the only one not staring at the blueprints. In truth, Leah had always envied her grandmother’s stand, if only because her own, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, had terrible range in comparison.

Maria snapped a few photos of the blueprints on her phone. “I believe we should be careful heading through the mansion. Kawajiri does not seem the type to act careless in these cases.”

This earned a nod from Tyler, and a weak chuckle from Sara. “G-d, I’d hope not. It’ll make it much easier for me.” Said Sara, a twinge of fear in her voice. Leah never felt she was good at hiding her emotions.

“Well, nowhere to go but forward.” Tyler smiled nervously.

Upon ascending the final steps, the Sunburst Crusaders came upon an empty octogonal room with intricate pillars depicting several demonic entities and a pit surrounded by steps, a covered coffin in the middle. Maria finally broke the silence that had haunted their trip through the mansion. “The blueprints called this the Throne Room. If I am correct, and I have little reason to believe I am not, Kawajiri should be around here somewhere.” Though Maria spoke in her typical monotone, Leah still saw a look of worry on her face, one which she couldn’t quite fault.

The halls of the mansion had been dark, damp, and vacant, too be sure, and yet for all of Lisa’s supposed preparedness, not a single stand user, nor a single trap, had been encountered by the group. Even at the supposed ‘Throne Room’, there was no sign of anything but a covered coffin. To be perfectly honest, Leah felt at least one trap would have been far less terrifying than this.

The group took a bit of time to glance around the room, too afraid to move more than needed, before Tyler spoke up. “Hey, the coffin’s probably rigged, honestly. Why don’t we get Sara to examine it?”

“Good idea, Ty. Grandma, think the fools could look into the coffin?”

Grandma Sara nodded, splitting Fools once more to examine the coffin Everyone watched with anticipation as Fool 1’s blue light scanned the coffin, prompting Fool 2 to begin carving its shape on the floor. Then, Fool 2 abruptly stopped.

Everyone held their breath, waiting for something to happen, before Leah finally broke the silence. “Yo, Grandma, something wrong?”

“…no idea. I…think it might be empty?”

Something above chuckled in response.

“Oh deary, of course it’s empty. Why would I think to sleep in a coffin? How stereotypical~.”

Everyone looked up in unison. There, sitting on a simple trapeze, sat a short, pale, unassuming woman of Japanese descent, ostensibly in her early twenties, wearing a simple backless black dress, black tights, white ballerina shoes, heart-shaped emerald earrings, a heart-shaped topaz sitting in a bronze circlet upon her brow, long black hair, meticulously brushed, a mocking smile on her lips, which were painted cherry red along with her nails, and a peculiar mark on her neck, the source of that singsong voice. “Good evening, darlings. I’ve been expecting you.”

Tyler clenched his fist. “Lisa! Radia-” Before Radiation could manifest, Lisa seemingly disappeared.

Leah’s attention spun around the room wildly, eventually focusing on the grinning figure at the opposite end of the room. “Oh, Mister St. Helens, that’s no way to treat your host, and in any case, I hold no ill will toward you.” The vampire laughed softly to herself.

Tyler blinked. “How did-”

“Oh, a true magician never reveals her secrets, don’t you know? And indeed, I believe this was a private show. Why don’t you and the…ex-employee go outside for this?”

“I’m sorry, Kawajiri, but that isn’t an option.” Maria took a step forward.

Lisa chuckled once more, then quickly stopped, face growing morose. “St. Helens, Rivera. You realize my feud is with the Nassers and the Nassers alone. I have already collected the stand of a Rivera, and do not need another. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by interfering with Heaven.”

Leah blinked. Heaven?

“Indeed, what would you accomplish, pitting that stand I gave you against the power of W2D? I forgave you once for treachery. But if you continue to test my patience, I will not forgive you again.”

Tyler and Maria both took another step forward.

A sad smile formed on Lisa’s lips as she closed her eyes. “I’d like to ask you another question.” Her eyes opened once more, pitch black with an odd glint in them. “Do you want to have a bad time? Because if you take one more step forward, you’re not going to like what happens next.” She snaps a finger. “Miss Jasper, darling, it appears your services are needed.”

Footsteps could be heard from the stairway they came up from. Everyone but Sara, who had frozen up at the mention of the newcomer, turned to look at the stairwell. Ascending it was a tan girl, black haired, shorter than Lisa and likely with age of Leah. Dressed in simple blues, she had a morose expression on a face that looked like it had seen a thousand smiles at one point, thin lips held taught in a rather forced neutral expression, green eyes glazed over.

The girl stepped through, heading towards Lisa, then turning around at the coffin, looking exasperated. Lisa merely smiled. “Ooooh, Sara, have you met her? Zita Jasper singlehandedly took down every single stand user I sent after her, before I realized that the Jasper family was not one of the Six Families I needed for Heaven Ascension.” Lisa smiled. “Miss Jasper, be a dear for me and recite which families are needed for Heaven Ascension. And don’t be so gloomy, dear~.”

Zita sighed, and tried smiling. Her voice sounded as if it had once belonged to a cheerful idealist. Once. “For Heaven Ascension, Lady Lisa’s stand needs to absorb the stands of one member of the families of Maddox, Sullivan, Southey, Rivera, Yagiyama, and…” Her voice cracked a little as she looked to Sara. “…Nasser.”

Lisa smiled. “Thank you very much, Miss Jasper.” She turned to Tyler and Maria, still smiling. “Miss Jasper here works for me now. I trust you realize how merciful I have been to you. You, Tyler, whose people have caused countless destruction over the centuries, and you, Maria, who betrayed my very trust. This is your final warning. Step forward, and Miss Jasper here will deal with you. Or perhaps she won’t.” Lisa smiled sadly to Zita. “Who knows. Perhaps she has fallen out of love with her beloved Miss Nikolaides? Well, then, I’m sure she won’t mind if I…” Lisa grinned wickedly.

“…m-my loyalty is to you, Lady Lisa.”

And with that, Lisa pulled Zita into a farcical embrace. “Thank you very much, darling.”

This would have been the point where Leah would have rushed in, summoned ELP Act 3, and beat the shit out of that scumbag vampire queen who had ended up putting her mother in the hospital and countless other mothers in worry. This would have been the moment where Leah saved the day, let Zita turn a new leaf, and go back to womanizing and getting stoned. This would have been the moment where finally, for the first time since LaVolpe the Younger, the problem would have been solved at ELP Act 3’s swordpoint.

But no, she couldn’t do that. Something was wrong about this whole thing. Here Lisa was, for once out in the open, a single stand user and a fucking teenage one at that as backup, and yet somehow Grandma Sara, who had challenge LaVolpe the Elder to fucking boxing of all things, was staring in abject fear at this girl.

Maria cried in frustration through gritted teeth. “I’m through with this farce. Sonne!” Sonne materialized with her cry. “Scarlet Splash!” As Sonne charged its Scarlet Splash, Lisa ended her embrace and turned to the group, grinning. She refused to move as Sonne fired.

Then, very suddenly, just as it was about to hit, the Scarlet Splash that had been flying towards her flew in all manner of directions, missing her in every case. Neither Lisa nor Zita had moved an inch.

Maria blinked, then turned to Tyler. “Scarlet Storm. Now!” Tyler meekly nodded, summoning Radiation as soon as a second Scarlet Splash fired so in order to properly direct the fire.

Lisa disappeared, and reappeared near instantaneously behind Maria. “Miss Jasper, if you would be so kind as to have Blank Space escort Miss Rivera and Mister St. Helens out of the mansion?”

With a sigh, Zita’s stand manifested behind her. Leah thought it had to have been the least interesting one they saw so far, even considering the battle with Heartache; merely a snow white silhouette of Zita, not even facial features to compliment it.

Then it started shifting into something else. Something…vulpine.

Lisa giggled. “Zita, darling, tell them your stand ability~.”

Zita once more sighed, then attempted a smile. “Blank Space has no real power of its own.” By now, Blank Space was looking suspiciously like Radiation. “Which is why it must copy the abilities of others.” Finally, having taken the form of Radiation, the Blank Space roared. “Now, Lady Lisa, I…will do as you ask.” She closed her eyes. “Forgive me, Tessa…Blank Space!”

Blank Space, now resembling Radiation to a T, roared once more. The group braced themselves for a fight, but loosened in shock as a sudden air current blew Tyler and Maria down the stairs, Zita quickly following.

The Nassers looked back at Lisa, who was laughing softly at the display. “Well, well. A shame you didn’t get to say goodbye to those two.” And with that, her face darkened. “I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I don’t particularly want to kill either of you.” Lisa began pacing. “All I want is your stand. Heaven must be achieved if the world is to be a better place. And truly, what is one life to that of-”

“Shut up already!” Leah was fuming at this point. “You said it yourself, those two have no stake in this! Call off Zita, now!”

The vampire queen responded with a sad smile, looking away from the two. “They put stake in this the moment they defied me, darling.” A look back at Leah. “So, how about another deal? If one of you two promises to either give yourself to me, or deliver the other to me, I will not kill the survivor. I will call off Zita, and you three will go home, better for wear. Indeed, everyone will be better for wear once Heaven is achieved.”

“Refuse?” Something materialized behind Lisa. Vaguely robotic, with an off-white exterior occasionally covered by grey bands connected with screws, with a disco ball for a head. “…and I can assure you that Widdly 2 Diddly can eliminate you using only one of its stand powers.”

For once, neither Nasser could come up with a retort. Leah found herself in shock. It…it wasn’t simple, for once. If her goal was truly to bring about Heaven, then wouldn’t it be her duty to assist? And that…thing, Widdly 2 Diddly, somehow blocked an oncoming Scarlet Splash. Hell, if that thing about absorbing stands was correct, this thing had upwards of five powers and they hadn’t even realized one. How could she justify putting her friends and family in danger over the chance to fight an insurmountable odd? Leah sighed, and-

“I’ll give you my stand. But please leave my granddaughter out of this.”

Once more, Leah blinked and covered her mouth in shock as Grandma Sara stepped forward, Lisa smiled serenely. “Oh, darling, I’d knew you’d make the right choice~! Come, let me embrace you, and may your last living moments end in peace.”

It took a few moments before Leah could find the right words. ”…please don’t do this.”

Leah’s breathing grew heavier. “Please don’t do this. Please, please.” The two met in an embrace, and Leah could see Sara speak something into Lisa’s ear.

Lisa just smiled at that. “Oh, of course you can sing your granddaughter one last lullaby.”

And that was the point Leah began tearing up. “Grandma, why?!”

Sara let go, and turned to Leah, smiling sadly and started…humming. Cheerfully and energetically, with a few snaps to make a beat. Leah blinked. That…didn’t quite seem like lullaby material, and yet for some reason is sounded so familiar…was she seeing this correctly? Something was materializing behind Lisa. That had to be-

“Why do fooools fall in looove?”

Fools in Love punched Lisa, sending her careening into a pillar in surprise. Leah took a step back in shock at the sight, before grinning from ear to ear. “Hell yeah! Great work, Gra-”

Leah stopped as she felt an unusual coldness, accompanied by a feeling of overwhelming hatred, suspiciously stationed right behind her. “Wrong. Move.

And all at once, Leah felt W2D’s fist impact her, hurling her through a window.

Tyler hurried through the halls, avoiding another sharp gust of wind. “Hey, Maria! Need a bit of help here!” His only answer was an air current cutting another hole in his shirt.

Zita, all the while, was floating behind him on an air current, eyes glazed over as they watched Tyler run away, taking very frequent breaks from this task to stare into the distance.

For now, anyways, Tyler focused on the ahead. Zita, for someone who had only just acquired its powers, was adapting surprisingly quick to Radiation air current abilities. It had taken days for Tyler to learn how to use it without choking, let alone gliding, hell he hadn’t even figured that one out yet himself and yet here Zita was, gliding along in the air, throwing out gusts of wind like razor-filled candy apples and just being a fucking nuisa-

His internal monologuing was abruptly cut off as he found himself tumbling down a flight of stairs into a grand hall. Damn chips in the structure.

Zita slowed her pursuit, as if mocking Tyler, descending the stairs on one of Blank Space’s air currents. “Hey.” Zita tried smiling, but Tyler felt it came out incorrectly. “I want you to know that I’m not angry at you. Had things gone a different way, I probably could have been your friend.” The approach slowed down to a crawl, and Tyler could see that Zita’s makeup (Who would wear that to a fight?) was somewhat smudged. “Now if you’ll let me just open your throat, I’d…I’d appreciate it a lot. I don’t want to see you suffer any m-more than you already have to.” Her attempt at a smile dropped, leaving her with a much more genuine, much more melancholy expression. “B-blank S-s-spu-space.”

The thing that had taken Radiation’s shape approached from behind Zita, roaring once more as a ringing began in his ears. As Tyler tried getting up, he winced, a stabbing pain in his ankle keeping him from doing anything but staying where he was and cradling his foot. The air around him grew thinner as the ringing grew louder. Tyler closed his eyes. ~Mitsuo, Angelo…Gordon…I don’t want to have to face you right now. Please, something, anything…~

Tyler braced for the impact, but felt only a slight push from his right, followed by the feeling of a sharp, but ultimately harmless wind from the same size.

He opened his eyes to find Zita, eyes wide, mouth agape. Looking to his side, he found himself a few feet away from his previous spot, a hole as deep as a loaf of bread where he had previously been.

“…your stand…” Zita frowned. “N-no matter. Blank S-space!” Blank Space screamed, and the ringing started once more. Tyler once again closed his eyes.

Tyler felt another push, this time from the front. This time, opening his eyes, he briefly swore he saw Radiation as the air current carved another hole in the flooring.

Zita scowled. “Why are you doing this? Are you just…mocking me? Is this a game to you?” Teeth gritted, fists clenched, Zita’s previous melancholy seemed to have completely vanished. “Urgh! Blank Space!”

Radiation once more pushed him out of the way, and Tyler swore he could see Zita’s face redden as Blank Space readied another gust. What was happening? Stands didn’t have wills of their own except in rare occasions, and Radiation wasn’t one of those stands. A stand was controlled by a user’s own conscience, or that was what Gordon had said, at least. Why was Radiation acting on its own? Not that he minded, of course, he desperately wanted…to live…

…he wanted to live, he so desperately wanted to live, he wanted to see Jose again, so help him g-d, and he wanted to see Cam, too, and Leah, and Mrs. Nasser, and Maria, and Bob, and Akemi, and Madeline, and Katlyn, and Kiefer, and Lily, and even fucking Bolton, and oh g-d he couldn’t die now, not here and not like this, not without tasting another one of Leah’s pies, or passing a joint around with the art students, or seeing the last season of Breaking Bad, or showing Jose just one more time how much he loved him, please not like this, not like this!

And once again, decisively this time, Radiation answered his call, pushing him out of the way of the oncoming gust. After all, what was a stand but the manifestation of one’s hopes and dreams?

The makeup on Zita’s face smudged even more as she wiped a tear from her eyes. “Please stop! Just let me kill you!” Radiation pushed Tyler away from another blast. “Please!” Another blast avoided. “Why won’t you let me do this for you, Tessa?!” Once more, a blast was avoided.

Tears fell freely from Zita’s face now. “Just…Blank Space!” This time, the air gust hit several meters away. Tyler sighed in relief. Thank g-d, she’s so stressed out that wait why wasn’t the gust disappearing why is the gust moving why is it circling

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to do this, but if you keep dodging, I have to make sure it hits you, I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry” Looking at it more, Tyler could see that the gust wasn’t so much circling as it was spiraling. Towards him.

Tyler tried moving, but he found himself too slow. He thought to push himself out, but the gust was doing too many rotations to accurately get through without becoming a bloody mess. He thought to scream, but he was sure nobody could hear him. He tried accepting his fate, but all he wanted to do was live. Finally, he tried closing his eyes and thinking back to the good times he had on the journey, but all he could think about was the distinct scream Maria made when she was about to let off an otherwise untelegraphed Scarlet Splash.

The sound of wind ripping at stone stopped, to be replaced with the crackle of flames, and Tyler opened his eyes to see a limp Zita, lightly burned, slamming into a wall, Blank Space dissipating.

Something tapped his shoulder. “Tyler, are you quite alright? I trust this charlatan didn’t utterly and thoroughly trounce you with your own stand powers.”

Tyler smiled. “Good to see you too, Maria.” He tried getting up, managing to balance himself on his good leg, and turned to face his savior. “Where’d you run off to back there, anyways? Guy’s gotta have a friend in these things, you know?”

Maria smiled in turn, Sonne vaguely materializing behind her. “I apologize, being chased by a stand user who adapts that fast means I have a hard time keeping track of where you’re going.” Sonne punctuated the gesture by doing a mock Scarlet Splash charging pose.

“Yeah, I guess. Well, thanks anyways.” Tyler flashed a thumbs up, as did Maria, although Sonne was too busy doing its pose to punctuate it with a third through sixth thumbs up.

Come to think of it, it had been holding that pose for quite a bit, now. “Hey, Maria. What’re you doing with your stand?”

The smile on Maria’s mouth remained, but her eyes stopped contributing, instead taking on a nervous look. “…stand?”

Tyler briefly glanced back to where Zita had been and currently wasn’t, before turning back to Maria and jumping to push her out of the way of the oncoming Scarlet Splash.

Everything went white, and Tyler felt his skin harden in response to the burning, then nothing but heat. A few voices spoke over him.

“Oh no.” “What did you do?” “No, no, no!” “What did you do?!” “Please, no, no!” Tyler felt a vague pressure on his chest. “You treacherous shit!” “I don’t know, I don’t know, all I did was for-” “Don’t you fucking touch him you sack of trash!” “I just want to hel-” “You’ve done enough. If you aren’t going to kill me, then leave and never return.” “But I-” “If you don’t either fix this right fucking now or get away from here forever…”

A familiar voice interrupted. “Hey bro. Damn, sucks they took you this early.”

Tyler opened his eyes, finding himself staring at an oddly familiar face under a cloudy sky.

“Hey, you’re awake. Not that I’d really expect you to sleep at a time like this.” The spectre above him smiled. “So, judge guy’s waiting for you at the gate. Told me to come fetch you, show you the ropes. Don’t worry, they didn’t even reject Mitsuo, so I guess you’re safe for entry.”

Mitsuo, how did…”…Gordon?”

The spectre above him chuckled, offering a hand. “Come on, we still got a few seasons of P&R to catch up on.”

Dusting herself off, Leah took in her surroundings.

The window W2D had punched her out of lead out to one of the mansion roofs, thank g-d for that. Place was pretty fancy, really, with an outdoor garden, complete with a citrus tree. And she had to admit, from this height, Algiers looked kinda pretty in the sunset…

…sunset. Sunset.

Fuck, there goes Plan A.

Leah sighed, activating her earpiece. «Leah here. First contact with Lisa went horribly after she sicced one of her minions on Tyler and Maria, something Jasper or whatever, stand copies the abilities of other stands. We aren’t yet sure of the true nature of Lisa’s own stand powers.»

All she got was the crackling of static in response. Biting her tongue in frustration, Leah very nearly threw her earpiece out into the street below then and there. Fucking useless GWU Foundation. Leah secretly wondered how Sara could have ever recommended them.

Summoning ELP Act 3, she briefly went over her options. She could go in there and try saving Grandma, but that would require her to work around Lisa’s own potentially long-range stand, a problem with ELP’s two whole meters of range. She could look around for more stand users in the city to help (didn’t Ellie say that users tended to meet other users?), but by now, Lisa had probably recruited all of them to her cause. Well, maybe with a bit of convincing, that might change? I mean, it worked with Maria. Hopefully by then, Grandma would still be alive…g-d, what a morbid thought.

Leah’s phone buzzed briefly. She ignored it. ~Jeez, why didn’t I leave that in the jeep?~

Still, though. She had to do something. She couldn’t just stand around and wait for help. Friends and family were in there, at this very moment, being attacked by some fucking century-and-a-half-old vampire, and here she was just fucking lounging around on the roof, trying to come up with options.

Her phone buzzed again. Leah once more ignored it. Fuck, of all the fucking times.

Looking back to the window where she was thrown out of, Leah considered how she’d even go about combating Widdly 2 Diddly. Even back with FonyX and his stand, Grenade, for the disaster that had been, the team had at least a vague idea of his abilities from the moment Tyler’s sundae suddenly exploded. Sure, she’d seen this thing deflect Scarlet Splashes and teleport Lisa, but how it did it, how it worked, that’s what she needed to know, and even then these were, at most, two of the supposed five stand powers she had absorbed to attain this…”Heaven”. Jeez, of all the stands you could have gotten, you get the one that absorbs souls.

Absorbing souls…

Leah’s phone buzzed once more, but she didn’t really care much at all. Could it be possible? Like, even back with Act 1, it could take vitality and transfer it to living things. Could it take from them as well?

…no. She wouldn’t go down that path. Not even if it meant nearly dying to a twisted vampire queen who could do the same to her.

Her phone buzzed again, and Leah, out of patience, looked at the screen. Who the fuck could be texting her at a time like-

‘hey, this is kat. phone broke after fight with fette, so i got a new number. on the way with madeline. other stand users should be coming soon. keep up the good fight. love ya.’

Leah swore she could hear something crash below.

Well, that was the last time she let anyone convince her to drive a motorcycle.

Madeline Maddox removed her helmet, shaking out her currently red hair and looking at the resulting wreck as she stepped off the thankfully durable motorcycle. Jeez, she should have been able to avoid the cat without hitting someone’s jeep, oh god what a mess.

Katlyn stepped off a bit later, having released the death grip she had put Madeline in shortly after the crash. She smiled at Madeline, and got out her phone. ‘so like. looks like we crashed in the right place. maybe the cat was trying to show us the way.’ She silently giggled, and the burgundy scarf around her neck (Her stand, aptly named “Scarves”) ruffled at little, as it usually did at things Katlyn found mirthful.

“Yeah, I guess, lucky break for us.” Her own stand, resembling a piece of sheer brown fabric and thus one she had named ‘Tights’, wrapped around her, transforming her into her usual caramel, black-haired, surprisingly thick-skinned self. She’d probably need the extra protection, knowing what she heard about Lisa and all that. “So, I think we should try and get some info before rushing in. Dunno, maybe Lisa set some traps or something, maybe.”

‘okay. what kind of mods do you want for this.’ One end of Scarves began stretching towards Madeline, fringes wiggling and blackening with ink.

Oh dear, she was too busy driving to think this part through on the road. Careless, really. Madeline took a deep breath.“Well, like…we’re in a city, pretty big and crowded sometimes, so I’m thinking like we probably give me like spider legs or something to crawl over the objects, and yeah if it turns out we’re on rooftops like the fight with 21st Century Schizoid Man it’d probably help if I could climb, too, and like I don’t think, uh, eyestalks wouldn’t be out of place for this either cause like, we could look into rooms without actually being there, and actually you know what wings would probably be better than spider legs, unless I suddenly had to fly carefully in which case maybe both would be a good idea.” Madeline took another breath. “Also some blades would be nice. Can’t fight without weapons, hopefully it won’t come to that but you never know you know?”

Katlyn smiled, Scarves drawing as Madeline spoke. What started as simple drawings on the surface of Tights soon jumped off the surface, becoming three-dimensional, fully functional appendages. Thank god Scarves Act 2 worked on stands, or else Tights’d be nothing but a suit of transformation armor.

Once she was done, Katlyn gave Madeline a quick peck on the lips. ‘for luck. lets kick some vampire ass.’

And with that, the two headed into the manor.

Maria couldn’t tell the stone from the dust, the rock from the sand, the mansion from the friend.

Surely, there were better things for her to do be doing, like tag-teaming Lisa with her remaining friends. She tried getting up from the floor, but she found she couldn’t muster the strength to.

How could she have just…let this happen? She should have checked on Zita, made sure she wasn’t still conscious. And she shouldn’t have just let Tyler take the blow, no. It should have been the traitor, the sinful apostate who should have died there, not…Tyler. Dear God, of all the people whose lives were taken, why did it have to be the purest soul amongst them?

Maria could hear something coming back around, into the hall. Most likely Zita, here to finish the job. Whatever, this battle was lost, anyways. Maria closed her eyes, bracing for impact and hoping that Lisa’s ‘Heaven’ would truly be paradise on Earth.

“…wait, no, that’s Maria I think. Uh, hi!”

This would have been the approximate moment where, had this been a cartoon, a crashing piano sound would have played. Oh Lord, Zita called on other minions, and now they were gonna torture her to death. Sonne instinctively pulled her up, and she opened her eyes.

Standing before her was a caramel, black-haired girl with odd appendages on her person, along with a pale, onyx-haired girl accompanying, wearing a rather lively burgundy scarf.

Maria glared at the two, and snarled through gritted teeth. “Come to kill me, have you?…do it. Just fucking end it already.”

The girl with the odd appendages got a weird look on her face. “…no? Like, I’d like it if nobody got harmed or anything, honestly.”

Playing stupid. Maria felt glad she had never knew these two as coworkers. “This isn’t the time for your moralizing bullshit. Your people have killed Tyler already. Finish. What. You. Started.”

The scarfed girl looked over to her conspirator, and pulled out her phone. The other girl then checked her own phone. “Dunno. Did Leah tell her we were coming?”

Wait, Leah? Maria blinked. She was fairly certain they weren’t getting backup. “…who are you two?”

The scarfed one once again looked to the odd one. The odd one cleared her throat. “Oh, uh, sorry, you must be Maria I think. I’m Madeline Maddox, and this is Katlyn LeBlanc. We’re friends of Leah. Also part of the GWU Foundation.” Madeline sighed. “Sorry, she can’t like talk, so she, like, uses her phone to communicate and stuff. Uh, do you happen to have one and if so what’s your number?”

Maria stared at the two, former fury burned out to simple confusion. “…nobody told me you were coming. And, uh…I left it in the jeep.”

Even from here, it was clear to her that Madeline was blushing. After texting something to Katlyn, she looked back to Maria, “Uh, sorry about that, but I think we kinda crashed into your car and junk, so sorry about that it was my first time on a motorcycle and there was this cat on the road and oh god I’m horrible.”

Maria took a few steps forward. “It…shouldn’t really matter. I don’t believe we’ll be needing it for long.” Maria closed her eyes, sighing. “…Lisa is upstairs, on the third floor, fighting with Sara. You can…go try to help her, if you wish, but I doubt you’ll achieve anything of note. I doubt anyone can.”

Katlyn got a quizzical look on her face, and Maria could swear her scarf seemed to tighten. Madeline’s own look was somewhat more worried. “Wait, why do you say that?”

To be honest, Maria somewhat envied them, and it felt wrong of her to ruin whatever hope these two had. Still, the truth was the truth, no matter how hard it was to accept. “There’s nothing you can do to her. She can perform actions without moving, deflect Scarlet Splashes without raising her hands, be places in an instant. And that’s just a few of the things she can do.”

Katlyn looked over to Madeline, then texted something to her. Madeline looked at it, then back up, sighing. “And…so what. I mean, like you’re already here, and she’s probably already gonna…nevermind that. Why not, like, uh,” Madeline looked back at her phone. “Go down fighting?”

Maria sighed. “Because I…” Maria couldn’t find the words for that answer.

Damnit, what would Tyler have done…

Once more, Nasser fell over in the process of trying to recover from a kick to the sides. Screw what she said earlier about not wanting to kill a couple gold-shitting rats, this was way too much fun.

Lisa Ayame Kawajiri strolled over towards the crumpled heap before her. “Having you been keeping score of the direct hits to the torso?” Lisa followed that question up with another axe-kick to the ribs. “I think that makes fourteen~.”

Nasser turned over on her back, and spat blood in Lisa’s general direction. “F-fools in-”

Another axe-kick shut her up well enough. “Fifteen~.” Lisa chuckled to herself as Widdly 2 Diddly dissipated the forming Fools with its fist before it formed completely. “Feeble, feeble~. You know, for the woman who killed the Pillar Men, I expected far better.”

Closing her eyes, Nasser took a few deep breaths. Not entirely unexpected after she brought up that particular victory. Lisa was a vampire, after all, and Hamon would fry her good.

Which is why she got Widdly 2 Diddly to do her dirty work for her, throwing her into a nearby pillar. “Nice breathing trick, darling, but you’re several years too late to the party~.” Lisa took a seat on the coffin that laid in the middle of the room (she’d have to talk with Yotsuyu about why he thought that was a good idea), checking her cherry red nails. Ooooh, the paint was still perfect. “Useless, useless, useless. You know, of all the people in your little group, I had expected you to be the most trouble. Little Nasser struck me as a layabout looking to get a quick fix of fun, St. Helens couldn’t figure out the powers he had been born with, if how quickly Jasper was able to swoosh him out of the room was any indication, and Maria…well, there’s a reason I sent her to you earlier in the journey.” Lisa looked back up at Nasser. “But you, you who defeated the Pillar Men without even stand powers to assist, you are the least interesting fight I’ve had since the GWU Foundation ordered my death~.”

Nasser didn’t respond, and Lisa got up, quickly summoning Widdly 2 Diddly in case she got any funny ideas. “And really, it’s a shame I couldn’t teach you to be better. Fun story, I had a running tally on which of you my minions would develop crushes on first, mostly to find out who to dispose of should the time ever come where loyalty is put into question, and you somehow ranked number one. You, a shrivelled up has-been of a has-been family of weak stand user cambion degenerates.” Lisa ambled over to Nasser. “Even…what’s her name, the one with the stand High Voltage?”

Nasser glared, and tried summoning Fools once more, which W2D proceeded dissipate with a well placed punch. “Come on, I haven’t got all day. It was…Maria? No, no, she named her’s after that one Rammstein song, and was sent out far earlier, I remember. It was the magnetism one, surely, I think. Well, whatever, I assume that’s what I get for hiring minions with a thing for older women.” Lisa shook her head, grinning, and stepped up to Nasser, haing W2D press a boot down on her neck, putting enough pressure to visibly cause her breathing problems. “The fun things we end up talking about~. It’s almost like a Seinfeld episode, really.”

Nasser continued choking.

Lisa put a hand to her ear. “Sorry, I can’t hear you when you’re all choked up like that. Perhaps this will help you speak.” Lisa delivered another axe-kick to Nasser. “Sixteeeeeeen~.” W2D released their boot from her neck, causing her to sputter as she inhaled the air she had been denied.

Lisa sighed. “The point is, I really thought you were interesting. You’ve dealt with my precursors before, you know an ancient breathing technique in addition to being a stand user, and there truly is something to you that I feel differentiates you from the neophytes you call friends.”

Widdly 2 Diddly grabbed her by the chin and brought her up to face Lisa. Nasser took the opportunity to spit in her face once more.

Lisa merely smiled. “But I’ve played with my food quite enough.” Widdly 2 Diddly placed another hand on Sara. “Heaven awaits, darling, and Fools in Love seems like it’s feeling left out~.” Lisa closed her eyes. “Widdly 2 Diddly: Live in Jo-”

Something ran over to Lisa from the doorway. Lisa only got a brief look at it (a brown skinned entity with multiple limbs) before it knocked into her, causing W2D to drop Nasser in surprise as she was backed into a window.

The smile on Lisa’s face disappeared near instantly, to be replaced by a deep scowl. “You. What are you, and what are you doing?” Getting a better look at it, it…didn’t quite appear to be a stand, at the very least it appeared human-like, apart from the extra limbs present on its person, wearing what appeared to be a leather jacket and black leggings. Then again, after Twelve, you never really knew with these things.

Lisa wiped the spit from earlier off her face as a pale human entered behind. “Oh? Miss Nasser brought a friend, did she~? And who might you be, darling?”

The stand(?) spoke. “I’m Madeline Maddox, and you, uh…” The thing blinked a few times. “Whoops, I had this rehearsed. Well, whatever.”

As Madeline Maddox stepped forward, Lisa rolled her eyes. “Charming. Two questions: One,” Lisa held up a finger. “Are you named after a song, or do you just have a really tacky suit stand? Two,” Lisa held up a second finger. “You realize I’m going to kill you for this, correct?”

A familiar voice spoke out, one Lisa had thought snuffed out by Zita Jasper. “That’s her name, and no, you aren’t.”

Lisa looked back to the entrance hall to find a very angry Maria, an unknown, exceptionally beautiful orange stand, dressed suspiciously similar to Sonne but otherwise more human in appearance, trailing behind. Lisa’s hand felt itself instinctively heading for an object she had hidden in her dress. “You. What did you do to Jasper?”

Maria merely continued on. “Nothing that compares with what I’m going to do to you. Sonne, Act 2! Scarlet Shower!”

A red string shot from Sonne’s hands, nearly hitting her before settling between its ends the wall and a pillar. Lisa chuckled, though not as mirthfully as she could have, truthfully, and playfully plucked it. “Good parlour trick. Widdly 2 Diddly!” Hmph. Projectile stand users were always so high and mighty until W2D invoked The Highway King’s t-

Lisa’s train of thought was interrupted by the burns she received from the sudden ray of scarlet light upon her, causing her to stumble and fall out of the window behind her, into the fresh Algiers night.

As Sara laid where she was, she found she had few regrets.

The others, the people who had defeated that monster, talked with each other in words Sara didn’t quite make out, in voices too soft to hear, in a light too dark to make out too much, but still, she was content.

She had lived a full, honest, and exciting life. She had loved, had lost, had seen the rise and fall of multiple evils, always happy to help with the ‘fall’ part. Her wonderful partners, who had been with her since the Pillar Men, had accumulated enough to retire comfortably, and her granddaughter had secured herself a future at the prestigious University of Windvale, payed for by the GWU Partner Scholarship Program. Life could go on without her, surely.

It truly was ridiculous of her to think that she could take on Lisa, wasn’t it? Not that it simply wasn’t possible, no. Indeed, Sara had full faith in Maria’s new stand powers (and truth be told, she always suspected that Maria knew a thing or two about Hamon). The world would spin for another generation as normal, undisturbed by the machinations of vampires and the thralls who served them. And yet to think that her stand, which hardly had any destructive power to begin with, could fight something like Widdly 2 Diddly…

Widdly 2 Diddly. Of all the things to name a stand after, you choose that. And so odd, too. It could, without even seemingly moving, move people in different places. Could it be teleportation?…no, that didn’t explain how it could reflect projectiles like it did with Scarlet Splash.

Sara vaguely felt the presence of the three other users leave the room through the roof. She tried to get up to join them, but that ended with her coughing up a bit of blood.

Hmph. Just as well. Her time was done, in any case. She could feel herself growing fainter and fainter as she bled out upon the cold stone floor, watching as her blood flowed through the cracks in the stone. She closed her eyes, thinking back to a happier time. Her and Nyssa, embracing on their friend Mack’s couch, Roundabout playing on the radio…

Something began audibly crawling through the window, and Sara felt something odd surge within her. Weakly turning her head in the sound’s general direction, she opened her eyes to look at the newcomer.

“Yo, gramps, you alright?”

Nope, fuck it, she really wanted to live all along. Sara smiled at the sight of her granddaughter in the window. “Took you long enough. Come over here and fix me up.”

Leah grinned, awkwardly heading through the window towards Sara. “You’re in luck, gramps. Widdles back there punched me into a rooftop orchard. Little weird for a vampire to have, but whatever.” Coming closer, Sara could see that Leah had brought a few citrus fruits with her. “Where’re you hurt?”

Sara returned the grin. It ran in the family. “Get the ribs first. Kunliss got me there good. Didn’t know stick legs could pack that kind of force.”

Chuckling, Leah took the citrus fruits in one hand, placing the other hand on Sara’s ribs. ”Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Act 1.” The small blue deer appeared as her granddaughter began transferring the citrus fruit’s life force towards her. “Jeez, you let her do that? What happened to the grandma who beat up Randy Claggett?”

“Girl wasn’t a Randy, and moved too much for her own good.”

Leah continued fixing up Sara’s wounds, the citrus fruits gradually drying up into dust. “Speaking of which, you ever find out what her power was? You don’t just deflect Scarlet Splashes like that, like, not even Sun Araw could do that, and I’ve seen that thing force stomachs out of people.”

Sara preferred not to think about the Spirkowski boy and his talent for ‘The Spin’, or whatever he called it. Whatever it was, good old Hamon’d beat it any day.

Wiggling her extremities, Sara tried standing up. Oh g-d, Sara could only think of a few things that felt better than a fresh ELPing, fewer still nonsexual. “Unfortunately not. Perhaps she teleports things? I remember her forcing me back down stairs numerous times.”

“Doesn’t explain the deflected splash, but that could be another ability she absorbed.” Leah tugged at Sara’s arm to help her up. “Now come on, we got a vampire ass to kick.”

“Senator Ramsey, please get ins-”

“Not right now, Morrissey, can’t you see I’ve got citizens to inspire?”

Morrissey sighed, getting back in the limo. Impatient bastard. Sighing, he turned back to the lady he was talking to. A good Christian gal, not quite good enough to avoid him, thankfully. “Deary, I apologize for his crassness. If I may have your number so I could forgive you properly at a later date?” A phone number later, and he was back in the limo. “To the hotel. I got a meeting with the PM at 11:00 P.M. sharp.”

Senator Jacob Ramsey was a good guy, he liked to think. He was powerful yet benevolent, friendly yet dutiful, charismatic yet considerate. Truly, the perfect representative for Pennsylvania, a perfect candidate for the 2020 presidential race to oust Deez Valentine from office, and the hero the people deserved. And yet here he was, stuck in traffic in a foreign city in the middle of the Middle East or whatever Algeria counted as, meeting with someone who less than 1% of his constituents could name.

Well, it was only 7:00. He supposed, even if it took two hours to get back to the hotel, he could play around with his secretary before the meeting. God, what a woman. Long blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, great ti-

The vehicle suddenly stopped, and Jacob swore he could hear Morrissey gasp from where he was. “Damnit Morrissey, what is it now?”

Morrissey refused to answer for a bit, and Jacob found himself quickly growing impatient. “Morrissey, If I hire you to chauffeur, I expect you to chauffeur. What is the matter?”

Morrissey began making sounds, though to Jacob it sounded less like words and more like a wife caught letting the dog-no, he promised himself he wouldn’t remember that. Ramsey tried resuppressing that particular memory.

Jacob’s patience had just about run out. “Spit it out, or I’m taking this as your official resignation letter.”

“…th-there-there’s something in the street, S-s-senator.”

Jacob rolled his eyes, poking his head out the window to holy fuck what the hell.

Standing in the street, ambling around cars in an awkward, pained gait, was a woman with long black hair, dressed as a ballerina, pale skin cracked and covered in numerous fissures and blisters. Some of the blisters looked active, leaking a black pus as she ambled from car to car, looking into the windows and occasionally knocking. Her face appeared to show a vaguely Asiatic appearance, although it was hard to tell with the copious burns masking her more subtle features.

Jacob quickly brought his head back in and rolled up the window, but not before the…demon before him turned to look at him. “Morrissey, get us away from here!”

Morrissey refused, for some odd reason. Didn’t even dignify him with an answer. “Morrissey, I said move it!”

The demon moved around to the driver’s window, and knocked a few times. Morrissey, audibly on the verge of tears, tried to hit it with the door. Jacob found himself closing his eyes at this point as the sounds of struggle became apparent.

Jacob’s breathing became heavy as he swore he could hear the sound of liquid moving through a tube. ~Oh God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of such great perils, that, by reason of the weakness of our nature…~

The sound eventually stopped, but Jacob continued praying. For a minute, nothing happened.

Then he heard something climb into the backseat with him. He soon forgot the words of the prayer. ~Pleasedonthurtmepleasedonthurtmepleasedont-~


Jacob opened his eyes. Beside him sat a beautiful woman, with Asiatic features adorned with long black hair, likely still in college if her apparent age was any indication, dressed in the same ballerina clothes as the demon from before. Though her makeup was smudged, her expression was coldly neutral. Her arms were crossed, and one leg was folded over another. Morrissey was nowhere to be seen.

Blinking, Jacob stared at the woman. This…he must be tired. Morrissey must have stepped out for a smoke break while he fell asleep, yes, and a fan must have come in. “Uh, sorry. But this limousine is the private ride of me, Jacob Ramsey. However, I’m always happy to take a beautiful woman like you alo-”

The woman didn’t even honor him with eye contact before interrupting. “I said, drive.”

Jacob blinked once more. “Now look, Ma’am, this is no way to treat a Senator of the United-”

Without even looking, the woman slapped him across the face, sending Jacob reeling into the door with surprising force. “Are you dense? I told you to drive.”

Turning back to glare at the woman, Jacob pulled out his phone. “You, missy, have made a very, very grave mistake. I’ll be speaking with my security about thi-”

Jacob very nearly choked as he suddenly found his mouth inexplicably filled with metal and glass bits, his phone having disappeared from his hands. Spitting them out in a panic, he found a tooth come along with the suspicious debris. The woman once again sighed. “Don’t make me ask you again.”

This woman wasn’t right. No, normal anti-paparazzi measure wouldn’t work. This called for his special power.

Forming outside the car window, on the woman’s side, was the guardian angel he found back in the Arizona desert. Tall, wearing a tiny brown vest and ragged brown slacks, resembling a cross between bigfoot and a ram, the thing roared at the woman, causing her to look out the window. “Ma’am, you just messed with the wrong senator. Rammstein!”

Jacob smiled. She wouldn’t even know what was coming. None of them did.

The woman sighed, exasperation in her voice. “Widdly 2 Diddly.”

A robot with a disco ball for a head suddenly appeared beside Rammstein, and proceeded to slap Rammstein with enough force to knock it over, a blow which Jacob swore he could feel as he reeled back into the door, another tooth loose. Rammstein dissipated, as did the robot.

The woman sighed once more, still keeping the position and tone she had kept upon appearing inside the limo. “Are you quite done? I’ve people I need to get away from.”

Jacob said nothing, opting to merely stare at the woman, then proceeded to nod, climbing into the front seat…before throwing open the door and jumping out of the limo upon noticing Morrissey’s suspiciously dusty clothes sitting in the front seat, sans Morrissey. Something was wrong, something was wrong, something was wro-

Jacob found himself inexplicably entering the passenger side. The woman merely looked ahead, bored. “Drive.”

Jacob screamed, running out of the passenger seat into the street.

Jacob found himself running back into the driver’s seat of the limo.

Jacob started tearing up. “Why are you doing this?!” The woman merely looked at him with that same bored expression, then looked back out the window.

Jacob tried the door once more, only to find the robot from earlier keeping it shut. The woman snapped her fingers. “What are you waiting for, mister senator? Drive.”

Jacob couldn’t keep the tears in, and started bawling right there. The woman just shook her head.

“Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. When will you learn?” The woman leaned in, and he could make out a pair of black eyes, shining with an odd glint, through his tears. “If you don’t drive right now, this will keep happening, only it will get far worse for you, worse than you could ever imagine.” The woman sat back and pulled a phone from seemingly nowhere, muttering that phrase she had said before Rammstein had been attacked. “…your destination is north of here until I say otherwise. Now,” The woman looked back to Jacob. “Drive.”

Jacob drove.

“Jacob Emery had to be the weakest part of the movie for me!” Yelled Maria, over the roar of the motorcycle engine.

“Really?! I thought it was fantastic and stuff, my favorite part!” Yelled Madeline, over the same roar, hanging onto Maria for dear life, the trunk Scarves added pointing ahead.

“Truly?!” Maria grinned, though she didn’t take her eyes off the road. “You are an odd one, Maddox! I thought you’d be agreeing with Katlyn on this, truthfully!”

Thank God the motorcycle still worked. Vampires were fast, sure, but nothing beat the speed of a motorcycle in combination with the scent trail one made when you’d been roasted medium-rare by holy light. At this rate, they should be on her any minute now.

Tight’s fabric appeared to briefly turn reddish. “Hey, uh, just want you to know that Katlyn says that once this is over, she’d like it if we-”

Madeline’s trunk pointed to an erratically driven limousine, before crumbling to dust. “That must be it! Katlyn, add a telescope to Tights!”

Maria didn’t hear Katlyn respond, though she must have, as soon enough, Madeline had a brand new telescopic sight. “Yeah, that’s definitely her, alright!”

Excellent. Time to kick some vampire ass.

“Sonne, Act 2!” Sonne appeared beside the motorcycle, roaring. “Scarlet Shower!”

A storm of red strings shot forth from Sonne’s hands, though all but three were seemingly deflected, creating a burst of scarlet light behind the limousine as the remaining three shattering the back of the limousine’s window. Maria could make out Lisa from the back. “Katlyn, give Tights something to trigger the strings!”

As Maria drove the motorcycle closer, swerving through traffic to avoid any pedestrians, Tights fired pellets from a few vents in its person added by Katlyn. Only one hit any of the strings, but it was enough to bathe part of the car in a pillar of scarlet light.

Maria cheered, and moved the motorcycle closer to examine what had become of Lisa, coming head to head with the backseat of the limousine. She grinned, knocking on the window a few times. “Are you quite alright?!” Another Scarlet Shower string fired into the car, shattering the window to reveal the freshly half-baked Lisa. “Because it looks to me you’re going to need ano-”

“Widdly 2 Diddly!” An off-white, disco ball-headed stand appeared beside the limo to land a blow on Sonne.

Maria swerved, nearly hitting another car and definitely falling out of place with the limo. She could feel her Scarlet Shower strings dissipate, and yet even still, she felt like grinning.

Madeline gasped at the strike. “Oh my god, are you alright, your nose is bleeding and oh jeez do you need me to take over because I’ll be happy to hel-”

“Madeline, let me ask you something!” Maria slowed down a bit. Couldn’t have Lisa hearing the strat talk. “About how close to her do you think I was there?!”

“Uuuuuhhh, 2 meters I think! Why do you ask?!”

Maria’s mouth began to hurt, although whether that was from being punched in the face by proxy or from grinning to hard she wasn’t quite sure. “Did you notice how she only summoned it once we came up close?! I don’t believe her stand has very good range!”

“What exactly are you getting at?!”

“I believe I have a plan! Do either of you have a GPS on your phone?!”

Lisa hated to say it, but her vampire ass was getting kicked.

Taking a look back to W2D’s Soft Skin, it appeared they were going to be heading through a heavy-traffic area. No, that wouldn’t do at all. “Take me somewhere less crowded, senator.”

The man before her merely nodded, and swerved right onto a smaller road. Lisa looked back, before looking back to Soft Skin. Man, Rebecca Sullivan wasn’t any kind of Marcelyn Maddox (well, not before Lisa turned both into lifeless husks), and Soft Skin could never hope to compare to The Highway King in terms of power and utility, but damn if it wasn’t useful for shit like this.

A yellow light bleeped on its surface. «Warning, miss SullerrorKawajiri, high traffic ahead. Proceed with caution.» Hm, that one hadn’t adjusted to her body yet, it seems. No matter.

Lisa sighed, looking back up to the senator. “Senator, we’ll be experiencing heavy traffic ahead. If you could drive onto the sidewalk once this occurs, I would appreciate it very much.”

Senator Ramsey briefly looked back, and it was clear to Lisa that somewhere along the journey, he had begun crying again.

Lisa tapped her foot. “Senator? I want an answer.”

He gulped in response. “…p-please don’t make me do that.”

Lisa looked out the window. Oh dear, what’d she do to get saddled with incompetent minions like this? “Tell me, senator, of your balls and your tongue, which do you favor?”

Ramsey took a disappointingly long time to answer that question. “…w-what? I-”

Lisa interrupted his pathetically incorrect train of thought. “Senator, do they teach anything remotely applicable in those American high schools of yours? It’s common knowledge that when a vampire asks you that particular question, the correct answer is: ‘Yes, My Lady, if I do not wish to lose both of the above in a painfully drawn-out process ending in my death, I will do as you ask, completely and without question.’ Please consider lobbying to teach that in your curriculum.” She briefly turned her eyes back to Ramsey’s.

Senator Ramsey, sobbing his eyes out, nodded.

Lisa smiled, looking back out to see where the Colorful Three were. “Good boy.” Ooh, trailing right behind. Unfortunately not quite enough to smash their pretty little degenerate heads in, but what can you do?

«Now arriving at traffic, miss SulliverrorerrorerrorhelpmeKawajiri»

~Oh shut up, will you?~ Lisa sighed, shaking her head. “Looks like this is where we get off. I’d appreciate if you’d do the thing you promised, mister senator~.”

Senator Ramsey just whimpered.

“…oh…my god. They’re driving through the pedestrians.”

Katlyn didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything she could say, not since that stand arrow found itself lodged in her throat.

Still, Scarves found herself crinkling in disgust, as she usually did at these things. She was awfully good at matching Katlyn’s emotions, for a piece of living cashmere that essentially functioned as a 24-hour bandage. One of the reasons she decided against naming it “Bitch”, like Cammy had suggested.

Keeping the death grip she had Mads in with her right arm, she used her free hand to pull out her phone. ‘need me to scarf the bike’

Madeline’s answer was near immediate. “Yes please scarf the bike I don’t want to have to go through pedestrians!”

Katlyn nodded, though truth be told she was going to scarf the bike anyways. ~Scarves, Act 2.~

Scarves’ end began wriggling as ink started dripping from the fringes. In a flash, it extended, towards the sides of the bike, drawing jets to propel it into the air.

“Wait, what exactly do you mean by scarfin-holy fuck what are you doing?!” The jetbike swerved in the air as it raised up. “What did you do to?!”

“Scarves gives objects appendages! Doesn’t work on humans, but it works on stands, so that’s good! Ask Kat if you want some!”

“…do you think you could add boosters?!”

«Turn left in 20 seconds.»

Lisa crushed Soft Skin in her hands, before manifesting a new one. “You heard the phone. Turn left, Ramsey.” Damn it, the pedestrian road didn’t work because someone had the ability to bankrupt automobile and aeroplane companies, and now there was a flying fucking bike above them, harassing them at every turn and yet never quite attacking, despite, you know, having somehow found a stand ability that feeds into her one fucking weakness.

«Turn left in 5 seconds.»

Lisa very nearly broke Soft Skin as second time.

“So, where exactly are you, uh, taking us?!”

“Where exactly is this blasted fucking thing taking me?!”

Maria merely chuckled.

Soft Skin flashed red. «Incoming locomotive, miss Kawajiri.»

Lisa sighed, and stuck a few fingers into the back of Ramsey’s neck. She’d need this.

As Leah drove the jeep around the city, she swore she could have hear the sound of a crash, somewhere deeper into town.

Not enough. Not nearly enough.

Lisa stumbled out of the wreck, dragging the deflated, dry husk of the unlucky senator with her. Wiping some blood off her face, she found makeup come off along with it. Damnit, she spent hours getting ready for Heaven Ascension with Sister Levine.

That damn hoverbike swerved about above, not even attempting to attack, and Lisa felt the overwhelming urge to hurl the rest of the senator at it, an urge she found herself giving into.

Lisa could feel the locals staring as she stumbled into one of the main Algiers town squares, but she couldn’t quite feel herself caring as she dug her hands into the nearest, making their blood and vitality her own. Hmph, if not for stands, Widdly 2 Diddly almost seemed redundant in the face of vampirism.

She could hear screaming and fleeing around her, but she couldn’t quite find herself caring as she continued. Only one thing mattered right now: taking care of that traitor.

Maria fucking Rivera. Of all the people to betray her, that one probably hurt her the most. Even before they had been lovers (and truth be told, more of her minions were lovers than she cared to admit), Lisa had truly seen great things in her. Indeed, with every stand user under her thrall whose abilities ended up surpassing Maria’s, Lisa felt as if someone had taken a stake to her heart. Even after Sister Levine, the one person Lisa felt could have been a worthy successor (and not even just because of Simma Hem’s stand-stealing powers), she truly had believed in Maria to the bitter end, and at least somewhere in her heart, she had hoped the betrayal had been one misunderstanding, that she would eventually plunge a knife of fire into the collective back of those crusaders.

But here she was, teaming up with a bunch of neophyte degenerates, getting in the way of the woman who had given her everything. The nerve, the fucking ner-

“Sonne, Act 2! Scarlet Tempest Overdrive!”

Lisa found herself smiling. Finally, she was doing something. Throwing her arms out, she found herself laughing. “Widdly 2 Didd-”

Blinking, she suddenly found herself surrounded by an overly intricate web of red strings, extending all over the currently empty square. Was Sonne always this quick?

“Up here, Kawajiri.”

Scowling, Lisa looked up at the source of the voice. “Rivera.”

There she stood, on top of an office building. That tall, olive-skinned, heavily tattooed woman, a cold glare on her face, standing beside that silent pale woman and her friend with the stand suit. “This the end for you, Kawajiri. You will never hurt anyone again.” The pale woman’s scarf began wriggling, and drawing on the stand suit.

Lisa snarled. “Only you, Rivera. Only you would dare defy the one who made you.”

Maddox’s stand suit began growing long, spindly legs, fittingly like that of an insect, along with pincers. “No, Kawajiri. Nobody made me but me.” Sonne appeared behind Maddox to leave a scarlet string on her pincers. “I’m sorry it had to be this way, but I’m afraid it’s through. Sonne’s range far exceeds your own.” Maddox began climbing onto the web, slowly making her way towards Lisa. “I’ve seen what happens when you trigger a Scarlet Shower. You can’t move an inch.”

…the nerve of this woman. Just…the fucking nerve of this woman! It was enough to make Lisa…

It started with a simple chuckle. Then she found she couldn’t stop giggling. Soon enough, the emptysquare was filled with Lisa’s laughter. Oh god, oh god, how could she have ever been angry with Maria? Did the dog call it betrayal when fleas stubbornly attacked her hide? Did the banks feel bad when a degenerate teenage drew a penis on the side of one of their building? And under what right could the sheep betray the wolf?

Maria furrowed her brow, frowning. “…why are you laughing? I have you beat, completely and utterly.” Maddox was directly above now. Far above. Good.

Lisa wiped a tear from her eyes. “Because.” Widdly 2 Diddly appeared beside her. “I have no less than three counters to this charade.”

Maria blinked. “…you’re in no position to be making threats, Kawa-”

“Tell me, do you want to die by The Art of Flesh, Pebble Man, or The Highway King?”

One of Maria’s fists clenched. “Kawajiri, I don’t-”

One half of Lisa’s mouth curled into a sneer. “Enough talk, Rivera. You’ve already faced God and walked backwards into hell. Now, answer my question.” She tilted a head to the side as her expression turned back into one of mock innocence. “Before I answer for you.”

Maria had to look away for a bit. “Sonne, Scarlet Sho-”

“Widdly 2 Diddly~.”

Everything stopped.

Lisa couldn’t help but giggle. “The Highway King. Time has stopped. Eleven seconds left.”

Wasting no time (heh), she lept onto one of the webs. Lisa could feel it move, yet only the ends lit up for now. Hmph, guess Maria really didn’t have any reason to thank her, with such a feeble stand ability. But after all, what was Hamon that couldn’t travel? “Useless~.”

Lisa hopped to another. “Useless~.” Mhm, her vampiric finesse and strength have really improved over these past few decades. She’s making such good time.

Lisa gracefully landed on another, one that Maddox was touching. “Useless.” And another. “Useless.” Another. “Useless.” Another, and another, and another. “Useless, useless, useless.”

With three seconds left, she found herself standing before the traitor she had once called a friend. Perhaps at one point, she might have been a powerful Hamon master, one even to rival Rivka herself. But in the face of Widdly 2 Diddly’s The Highway King?

Well, Lisa found herself answering that hypothetical well enough as W2D pulled back their fist. “Useless, useless, useless, useless, useless!”

Lisa could practically feel W2D’s fist as it tore through Maria’s stomach. “Time has resumed.”

Maria went flying.

In that moment, three things were clear to Maria.

1: Somehow, her Scarlet Tempest Overdrive had fallen apart, and yet Lisa stood before her, unburnt, unharmed, and worst of all, smiling.

2: Something had launched her backwards, most likely Lisa’s stand, which stood right beside her.

3: Where her stomach had been just a few minutes ago was a gaping hole the size of Widdly 2 Diddly’s fist.

Everything else was a blur. The passing buildings, Katlyn and Madeline, Sonne, the rest of her friends took backseat to her journey backwards.

Maria eventually found that she had finally hit something. A water tower, probably, if the water leaking out of the structure was any indication.

From here, the view of Algiers was beautiful. A clock towers stood nearby, telling the time of 7:41. To the right, Maria saw a billboard advertising 7-UP. Everything else was beautiful white architecture, lit up by the city lights.

Closing her eyes, Maria thought back to the journey. How Leah could have killed her, but refused. How they had fought their first tag team fight against Alys and Aryn Aphex. Did they talk about Sumo on that one? She wasn’t sure. She also thought back to that night in Paris, and that boy, Fitzgerald. Perhaps she wasn’t truly capable of love, but she was glad for that night anyways. Thinking back further, she wondered if her parents knew where she was. Probably and hopefully not. She thought back to her time with Lisa, even. If only Kawajiri had kept to herself, maybe she could have loved her.

Maria thought back, and found she had few regrets.


That stand, Widdly 2 Diddly…

Maria could feel a presence standing before her. “Rivera, darling~.”

She tried looking to the voice, but she found she hadn’t the strength.

The monster before her laughed softly. “You know, of all my minions, I thought you had the best development potential. Indeed, you’re the only one of my minions, former or otherwise, to have displayed possession of an Act. Not even I have that…yet~.”

Footsteps began towards her. “Tell me, do you know of Requiem stands? Oh, silly me~. I forgot that your lungs are probably filled with blood by now.” Maria could feel a finger drawn across the wound, but she lacked the strength to wince in the pain she also seemed to lack. “Mmmm~! Delicious as usual~.”

Maria felt something tossed at her. “Requiem stands are very powerful, indeed. Too bad they’re independent of their users to the point of persisting after death. Indeed, in your state, I doubt Sonne Requiem would be a very good idea.” The woman before her giggled. “Not that I’m going to tell you how to get one.”

Maria weakly opened her eyes to that vampiric stain on the world’s sheets before her, the woman she had once called a friend and more, Lisa Ayame Kawajiri. “Now, after I achieve Heaven, I believe I’ll make all your friends thralls. Mmm, perhaps I’ll start that Fitzgerald boy.” Lisa smiled, and Maria would have spit in her sneering face if she had the strength. “Jon Aeris told me you really got along. Oh darling, so soon after me~?” Lisa giggled, and Maria would have punched her slimy face in if she had the strength. “For a disgusting traitor incapable of actual love, you sure do get around well enough.” Lisa bent down to whisper something in Maria’s ear, and Maria would have bitten the disgusting mask she called a face if she had the strength. “Say hello to Tyler St. Helens in Hell for me.”

With a blink, Lisa was gone. Maria looked down at the thing Lisa tossed at her.

…a stand arrow head. Huh. Always a penchant for theatrics, Kawajiri.

Maria found her eyes close once again. ~Leah, Sara, Katlyn, Madeline…Tyler…I’ve failed you. I couldn’t find out her stand abilities.~

That stand ability. It could make Lisa disappear and reappear somewhere else, and yet there was something more to it. Nearly every projectile fired by Sonne had been blocked, even the light-producing strings. But why? And how? An entire web, in an instant, decimated to nothing. In no time at all, Lisa could ruin her well-laid plans with ease…

…no time…


There had to be a way to tell them. She didn’t have her phone, and doubted she could text properly in this state, anyways. Her voice couldn’t reach the others, surely, not even if she hadn’t just been hurt this badly.

Maria sighed, looking to the clock tower before her.

…stopping time. Maria blinked, before closing her eyes one final time.


With the last bit of life flowing out of Maria, Sonne took aim at the clock tower.

Sara stopped flossing her teeth and looked down at her phone.

‘This is Katlyn. Madeline is hurt and can’t continue. Maria was thrown into a building and hasn’t moved since. Lisa is nowhere to be seen. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more.’

Sighing, she put away the phone. “Bad news. Something happened and the others lost sight of Lisa. Madeline’s hurt and Maria may be down or worse.”

Leah didn’t verbally respond, although Sara could see her grip the steering wheel a little tighter than before.

Sara looked back out the window, staring at the clock tower. Why now, of all times? Tyler was missing, the backup had been put in unnecessary danger, Maria was…she wasn’t even going to humor that thought.

Why now, of all times? Every other fight, even Mr. Stripes, had gone smoothly enough. Hell, just before they arrived at the mansion, they had managed to somehow beat Maguire again without even knowing it was her, if Leah’s testimony was any indication. Maguire, who had nearly killed Tyler the first time around. They should have gotten better. Why had everything gotten worse?

Sara closed her eyes. She had to stay strong. Nassers had to be the rocks that held up their descendants. She couldn’t show any weakness, not here, not now. She couldn’t fail someone else, not after Nyssa, or Mack, or Angel, or Danielle, or Bernard, or Harold.

Sara opened her eyes, turning back to Leah, who was currently looking out the right window. “I want you to know something.”

Leah didn’t respond. Hm, there goes the moment. Sara cleared her throat. “Too busy with driving? I understand.”

Leah blinked, looking back to Sara. “Uh, Grandma, you probably want to see this.” Leah pointed back to the clock tower.

Sara, turning her attention back, suddenly noticed that the face of the clock tower had been broken by something.

“…head for there?”

Toufik Haris just wanted a quiet life.

Setting out the bowl of food for his cats (Rohan and Hirohiko), Toufik went to go check his Tinder for any offers for his knife collection. Yep, still none. Damn, he thought he’d be able to sell something this week.

In any case, it was time to sleep for Toufik. He had a big day tomorro-

Someone knocked on his door. Oh, hm. He usually didn’t get visitors.

Toufik shuffled over to the door, opening it. “Hello, may I help you?”

The visitor in question, some Asian lady dressed like a ballerina, looked up from her hand, which was curled up in an odd way that suggested an invisible phone. “Is this the residence of Toufik Haris?”

Toufik merely nodded.

“One moment.” Out of seemingly nowhere, the lady pulled out an uncut diamond the size of Toufik’s fist. “I’d like to buy all your knives.”

The clock tower was quiet, at least until it struck 8:00.

The two had thankfully arrived before the police could close everything off, which frankly saved them a lot of trouble. The building was empty, as expected for such a disaster, which also frankly saved them a lot of trouble.

Regardless, as the two entered the clock proper, Leah found herself disappointed at the lack of cogs. It was strangely empty, save for a large box in the middle that connected to the clocks, and some stairs to get to the attic. Leah could hear the wind whistling through the clock face that had ended up busted, and could swear that she smelt smoke as well.

Leah turned to her grandmother. “So, what do you think happened here?”

Grandma Sara shrugged. “Dunno. I thought this place would give us clues, but now I’m not so sure.” She began pacing the tower. “I mean, perhaps it was just a bomb. You know how these…things…” Grandma Sara stared out the hole in the tower.

Odd, she didn’t usually trail off like that. Leah furrowed her brow. “Grandma?”


“…Grandma? Is something wrong?”

Leah could see Grandma Sara pursing her lips as she beckoned her over.

Looking out of the hole, it took a bit for her eyes to adjust to the darkness of the rooftops. Leah could spot a lot of things from here, however. She could see a billboard advertising some Algerian movie. Over on another roof, she could see what looked to be a mugging or worse going on. Still yet on another roof was a water tower, busted completely, with a person near embedded into the tower. A person that looked…

Leah felt her breathing go funny for a bit. Everything but the water tower seemed to disappear.

“…Grandma, w-would you m-mind…”

“Oh, no need to check, darling. That’s her, alright~.”

Leah should have turned around immediately. She should have summoned ELP then and there and skewered that vampire’s brains. At the very least, she should have cried.

All she could do was sigh, however. “…you did that to her?”

“Oh, I did that and more, darling~. Did I tell you that today wasn’t the first time I ever drank her blood? Just the first I did so without asking~.”

Her fists briefly clenched and unclenched. “…why. Why did you have to-”

“I answered that question quite a while ago, darling.” Leah could feel a cold hand on her shoulder and a pair of lips at her ear. “All you needed to do was listen~.”

Leah could feel a movement behind her as the hand and lips disappeared abruptly, though Leah found herself not particularly caring. “Nice try, love, but summoning your stand without actually calling its name is still rather conspicuous. Try not to act that way around your elders~.”

Leah sighed once more, and turned around. There Lisa was, leaning against the box in the middle of the room. Fools in Love stood beside Leah, looking rather angry at the whole affair. Grandma Sara’s own expression matched Fools’.

“Soooooooooo~. Which of you wants to contribute to the creation of Heaven?”

Leah looked away for a bit. “…promise not to-”

“It’s a bit too late for that, darling~.”

Grandma Sara looked to Leah, face locked into a half sneer, then back to Lisa. Leah looked away. It really did all come down to her, didn’t it? If she hadn’t sacrificed herself earlier, none of this would have happened. Zita would have been called off, and Maria wouldn’t…

Grandma Sara spoke up. “Lisa, if you move from where you are, you’re gonna have a bad time.” Fools roared, and charged at the vampire before her.

Leah tore her attention from Lisa, back to Grandma Sara. “No, wait, don’t-”

And there Lisa was, right behind Grandma Sara. “Miss Nasser, how bold of you~.”

Leah looked down. Of course that had to happen, and now Lisa was going to-

“Your next line will be: I think I’ll take both your stands for that particular stunt.”

Leah blinked. That old trick? Grandma only ever did that when she was 100% sure she was going to utterly humiliate the target. And yet…she could feel something surge within her as Grandma pulled it. Something she hadn’t quite felt since Maguire had been defeated for a second time: hope.

“I think I’ll take both your…” Lisa blinked, and her smile slowly faded, perhaps to compensate for Sara and Leah’s own growing smiles. “…how did you-”

“Your stand, Widdly 2 Diddly, does not teleport, and neither do you.” Grandma Sara turned around to face Lisa, a face not so much grinning as it was holding a half grin on each side. “Your stand stole the power to stop time.” Grandma moved to put a hand on Lisa, to which she backed away from. “Am I correct?”

Where there once was a triumphant grin, Lisa’s face contorted into a snarl. “Are you mocking me? What do you think you’re doing with…this?”

Grandma Sara merely laughed. “Maria does not make meaningless gestures. The hole in the clock tower was most definitely her work. All I needed was proof that this was what she meant.” Grandma directed a hand to the floor. “If you thought I meant to attack you back there, then you truly are dumber than the dead sack of rocks you call your precursors.”

Looking closer, Leah could spot pieces of snapped floss lying on the floor, ends tied to two different clocks. Grandma Sara laughed as Lisa blushed and snarled at the realization. “Kars would have noticed this immediately.”

Grandma stepped forward, and Leah found herself stepping forward in turn, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer appearing behind her. “Face it, Lisa. You may have been born before me, but you’re fifty years too late to the party.”

Lisa was breathing heavily by now, an interesting trait for someone who didn’t need to breath. “You…you-” Lisa slapped Grandma Sara across the face, before screaming and holding her (now boiling) hand.

With that, Grandma Sara let out a hearty laugh. “Lisa, darling, I’ve killed Pillar Men. A vampire like you, stand or not, is nothing to me.” Putting out another hand, she attempted to touch Lisa’s face, prompting Lisa to disappear and reappear back at the box, still holding her melty hand.

It was Leah’s turn to chuckle. “Hey, Grandma, looks like Lisa really likes that toy she stole. Shame she’s gotta return it some day.”

Lisa’s teeth clenched so hard that Leah was certain she heard cracking. “Shut. Up. Darling is my word.”

Grandma Sarah giggled, and Fools in Love held up a hand, to which ELP responded with a high five. “Oh, darling~. Didn’t anyone teach you stealing was wrong?”

Lisa said nothing, choosing simply to glare at the two.

Grandma Sara stepped forward, cracking her knuckles. “Well, I believe it’s time you-”

“Widdly 2 Diddy!” W2D appeared beside her. “Pebble Man!”

The Nassers shot a glance between themselves, and laughed. “Oh, Lisa, did you steal mor-”

Leah found herself interrupted as both Nassers found themselves coughing uncontrollably.

Lisa approached the two, and for once the snarl that had brought Leah joy left only fear in her heart. “If you think you’ve won, if you fucking think that this means you’ve won, you’re wrong.” Lisa stood over Grandma, bringing a foot down on her ribs. “Because even if this meant you defeated The Highway King, and let me assure you that only I have ever defeated The Highway King, back when it still belonged to your little fucking degenerate friend, Marcelyn,” Lisa dug her foot into her ribs. “I didn’t just kill Marcelyn. I killed a Mitsuo Yagiyama as well.”

Lisa took her foot off Sara, before kicking her into a corner. “If I were a human, Pebble Man’s gas production would have probably caused trouble.” Strolling over to Sara, Lisa performed a slap with her good hand. “Hm, all out of Hamon, are we~? Pebble Man was very good at interrupting breathing patterns. Right now it’s not enough to kill you, of course, I need you alive for Heaven Ascension, so maybe I can keep you two here until sunrise, after which I eat both of you.”

Lisa leaned into Sara’s face, grinning. “But that’s not fun, is it~? No, I know what would be fun.” Another slap, and Lisa stood up, heading over to where Leah had collapsed. “Here’s how it’s going to work. I am going to make your granddaughter’s last living moments hell, and you are going to watch as I do that. Trust me, The Art of Flesh is rather good at letting people keep focus.”

Kneeling down, Lisa snapped her fingers, and Leah’s coughing subsided. “Tell me, little Nasser. Did you know your great grandmother? Oh, no, of course not. She died in, what, ‘89? And you’re…how old are you, again?”

Leah answered with a snarl, to which Lisa answered with a slap. “Answer the question, deary.”

To that, Leah answered by spitting in Lisa’s face, to which Lisa responded by having Widdly 2 Diddly slap her instead. Jeez, stand slaps hurt. “Answer the question.”

Leah sighed. “Eighteen.”

“Oh, that’s nine years after.” Lisa spared a quick glance back to Grandma Sara, then back to Leah. “Did your grandmother ever tell you who her first kiss was?” Lisa grinned, and if it wasn’t for the fact that W2D’s slap still hurt, Leah would have taken the opportunity to spit in her disgustingly saccharine face again. “I believe it was October 25th of 1940? It was my birthday, at the very least. Ooooh, that makes this the anniversary~.” Lisa laughed to herself, and Leah found the urge growing stronger by the minute.

“I remember she was talking with her husband to be, honestly I’m not sure what it is with you fucking cambions and your useless fathers, and they were honestly getting along surprisingly well for what was essentially an arranged marriage. I was there, of course, on business, by which to say I was on the hunt for a certain Antonio Rivera.”

Leah could see Grandma attempting to summon Fools in Love. Lisa seemed to have noticed Leah’s resulting expression, by the look on her own face. “…she’s summoning her stand, isn’t she? Useless, useless, useless.” Lisa shook her head. “One moment.”

Leah winced as, out of nowhere, a knife found itself lodged in Grandma’s throat near immediately, as Grandma’s coughing suddenly sounded a bit more wet. Lisa sighed, likely for dramatic effect, as Leah doubted she possessed the shame to perform a genuine sigh. “You probably think I stole that knife. No, I have dignity, darling. I bought it fair and square.”

“Anyways.” Lisa put on that same saccharine smile as before. “Back to the story. Did I ever tell you about him? He had a pretty useful stand, Men’s Hair Club. It’s mine now, and I use it to store objects I can’t carry. Time and Space are my bitch, don’t you know? Oh, don’t worry, the knife isn’t stuck anywhere vital…” Lisa blinked. ”…wait, no, Rivera had The Art of Flesh. It was Harold Southey that had Men’s Hair Club, and I should have remembered because I happened to kill Southey in some Japanese city district in Morioh called Duwang or something along those lines. God, what a weird place.”

“Anyways.” Lisa slapped Leah once more. “Just to make sure you’re listening, nothing personal. If it was personal, it’d be something like this.” W2D slapped her.

“So as I was saying, these two were together, talking about how much the loved each other, what a joke, he abandoned her after the Farhud, but the moment that was neither here nor there. So, like any reasonable person with a functioning stomach, I find the whole thing revoltingly sickening. What’s his name, Yusef? He leaves at some point, but not before asking your great grandmother for a kiss. And, surprisingly, she refuses, saying she wants to wait until they actually marry.” Lisa giggled. “That’s a riot, really. I’m pretty sure she slept with half of the stand users I ended up killing.”

Leah found herself snarling once more, to which Lisa shrugged. “What? You’re an adult, what’s the sexual history of your degenerate cambion of an ancestor have to do with anything? I mean, your grandmother’s done worse. Did I ever tell you about her, Angel, and Mack?”

Something stirred inside Leah.

“Oh, darling~. With all this talk you're forcing me to do, how are we ever going to get to the show I promised your grandmother?” Out of nowhere, Lisa pulled out several knives. “Don’t look so blue, darling~. Tyler and Maria had such excellent smiles, before I had them killed. Why don’t I start with tha-”


Lisa’s words stopped dead in their tracks as a blue blade pierced through her stomach. Leah blinked, then smiled.

Truly, stands were the manifestation of one’s desires.

«Attention all passengers. We shall arrive at Houari Boumediene Airport in twenty minutes. Please put up your tray tables and turn off all portable electronics.»

Ellie Hirose finished her cocoa quickly as El Huervo fetched her their map. ~We’ll be there soon enough. Let’s hope we can find the team before something goes drastically wrong.~

~So, El, you’re saying before that the Huervo horses can run in rectangles and all that?~

~Basically yeah, Keef. I know you work better stoned, so try getting in some smoking once we’re on the ground.~

Looking back to the map, Ellie sighed. She hoped nobody had died yet.

Lisa felt W2D may have thrown Leah into the water tower a bit too hard, but at this point she was beyond caring.

Turning back to Sara, she could see that she was still choking on her own blood. Good. “Cambion degenerates! All of you, never know quite when to fucking give up.”

Strolling over, Lisa had Widdly 2 Diddly deliver an axe-kick to Sara’s ribs. She could hear a distinct crunching sound, which cheered her up, though not by much. “Feeble, feeble, fucking feeble! And yet you don’t even know your fucking place, do you?” W2D backhanded Sara for emphasis.

Lisa grabbed Sara by the collar of her shirt. “When I say that I am going to torture your granddaughter to death, that is not a fucking excuse to inspire defiance in her.” Lisa delivered the backhand this time. “Do. You. Fucking. Understand?!”

Sara merely gurgled on her own blood like an idiot.

Lisa felt one of her chip teeth from how hard they clenched. “Nod yes. Or shake no. It’s that simple.”

Sara refused to dignify her, and Lisa felt the taste of her own blood in her mouth.

“…do you think this is a game? A fucking joke? I made your mother the Hamon master she was! I fucking own you!” Lisa and W2D delivered an axe-kick on either side of Sara’s ribs. God, this wasn’t enough. She needed some other way. “You should be worshipping the very fucking ground I walk on!” Degenerates should never be left off this easily.

Using Men’s Hair Club, Lisa retrieved several more knives from the space between dimensions. “You wouldn’t even have a stand if it weren’t for me! Without me, you’re useless!” Lisa stuck a knife in Sara’s hip. “Useless!” Lisa stuck another knife in her stomach. “Utterly, completely useless!” Lisa stuck another knife in Sara’s left rib as Widdly 2 Diddly’s fist flew at her face as punctuation. “Useless, useless, useless, useless useless useless…”

By now, Lisa was punctuating every ‘useless’ with a blow from Widdly 2 Diddly and a stab from one of her knives. Leah stopped existing, her remaining minions stopped existing, all of Algiers stopped existing, even Sara stopped existing to some extent. All that was true in Lisa’s world was her, Widdly 2 Diddly, her knives, and a bloody fucking thing to stick them into.

“Useless! Useless! So! Fucking! USELESS! Fuck you, Einhardt, you-”

Einhardt? Where had that…

W2D abruptly stopped, as did Lisa, who found herself staring at the bloody, prickly, unrecognizable mess before her.

The wind rushing through the clock tower’s hole seemed to vanish, and all Lisa could find herself noticing was the sound of her own labored breathing and the dripping of blood onto the floor.

“…” No, there were more important things than satisfying her need for revenge. Lisa turned to her stand. “Well, what are you waiting for?! Live in Joy!”

W2D put their hands down on the heap before her, and yet Lisa couldn’t quite feel anything.

Lisa found it painful to clench her teeth, though by now it was purely reactionary. “Well, hurry up and save her. The Art of Flesh!”

Pulling out a spray can, Lisa could feel her insides grow hollow as W2D attempted to fix this mess, although whether this was entirely physical or just an emotional reaction, not even she knew.

The crumpled heap before her grew with flesh, but did not move.

“…” Lisa looked back out of the hole in the tower.

Leah Nasser found herself trudging through a swamp of sticky demon’s blood, a prickly pain in her back.

On her journey, she came across a young, ash-skinned girl with a single horn growing out of her forehead.

“Who are you?”

“I am Cambia.”

“What are you doing here?”


“Why are you living?”

“Because my mother Lilith protected me from Adam.”

Satisfied, Leah walked on. Her head hurt for a short time. She felt herself grow more lucid.

Leah Nasser found herself trudging through a thick, sticky swamp of demon’s blood, in a valley under a mountain, a prickly feeling she couldn’t quite place on her back, not enough to keep her from walking, but certainly enough to somewhat hinder the journey.

At some point, she came across a group of cheering people. Leah instinctively felt that they were from a nearby village, though she knew not why.

Approaching one, Leah tapped them on the back. “Why are you all celebrating? You are stuck in a swamp.”

The person she tapped, a pale man of 18 years or so, turned around. “Have you heard? Hieronymous Dayne is dead, and Iro sleeps for another day!”

“Iro? What does Dayne have to do with Iro?”

The man smiled. “His slave, Dalit of Algiers, killed him before he could summon Iro to this town and use us as sacrifices.”

Leah nodded. “Hm. Good for her. But I do not know of any of this. Sorry if I do not celebrate with you.”

And with that, Leah left, heading up a nearby mountain path. Clutching her head in pain, she could feel herself growing more and more lucid.

Leah Nasser found herself in an unfamiliar mountain path with an odd pain in her back. Where was she? Was she not just celebrating with townsfolk? Why was she heading through these mountains?

Having nothing to do but head forward Leah continued until she came across an odd, red-haired woman dressed in a suit, whittling wood.

Leah cleared her throat. “…uh, excuse me, but where am I?”

The woman looked up from her work, smiling. “Well, love, neither of us are quite anywhere at the moment, and yet it could be said we’re everywhere.” The woman smiled a crooked smile.

Leah blinked. “I…don’t quite understand?”

With a chuckle, the woman looked back down to the wood she was cutting. “You will in time. You know-” The woman gestured with her knife. “I’m surprised you aren’t happier. After all, me, Reynard, Harris, and Rivka finally took down that one vampire queen that was messing around with everyone.”

Rivka? “Wait, you don’t mean…”

“I do indeed, love. Now, I’m thinking your destination’s around the corner.” She pointed to a nearby curve in the mountain path. “Keep going and I’m sure you’ll find the answer.”

“…thanks.” Leah nodded at the mysterious woman, and headed down the mountain path. Head pounding, Leah felt a wave of lucidity crash down upon her.

Leah found herself walking a mountain path for reasons she didn’t quite know, for a purpose she wasn’t quite sure of, in a place she wasn’t quite certain was real. What was this place, exactly? Certainly she had never been here before, and yet everything seemed familiar, somehow. The only thing she knew for certain was that there was an odd pain in her back.

Turning a corner, Leah found herself in front of a shaky straw hut, sitting at the dead end of the path. Perhaps this was where she needed to go.

Knocking on the straw house’s door, Leah heard a familiar voice. “Harold, is that you? Did you find out if Kars is still alive?”


“Oh, Leah! Sorry about that earlier question, it’s been so long since I’ve talked to Harold. I hope he’s okay. How are you, dear?”

Leah tried smiling, but soon found herself looking down at the ground, a defeated expression on her face. “Confused, mostly. A bit frightened. To be quite honest, I think I shouldn’t be here. I feel like…” Like there’s somewhere else you need to be? “…like I’m in a dream.”

The voice inside the hut laughed. “Of course you are, dear. But that means you’re alive, at least. Come, come, inside.”

Sighing, Leah pushed open the door.

“Surprise! Happy birthday!”

Leah blinked. On the outside, the hut had looked shabby, unlivable, broken, and yet the inside was rather marvellous. Appearing to be an apartment living room, bigger in area than the hut’s outside size suggested, the hut was decorated rather lovingly, with a carrot cake sitting on a coffee table, confetti covering everything, and a few banners emblazoned with ‘Happy 23rd, Leah!’ hanging from the ceiling. A kitchen was connected to the room, and two other doors lead to other rooms.

Leah couldn’t find her grandmother anywhere, but she did see her friends. Sitting together on the couch were Kiefer, Katlyn, and Madeline, in that order, Katlyn’s arms around the other two. Ellie sat away from that group, on a nearby chair.

“See? I told you she would come soon.” Katlyn said…Katlyn said?! Katlyn didn’t normally speak, did she?

“Yeah, yeah, I heard you.” Ellie chuckled, then looked back to Leah. “You told me you didn’t really want anything big, so I only really invited your high school friends.

Oh jeez. Ellie, always looking out for her. It was enough to make her look away and smile. Man, what’d she ever do to…“Hey, you really didn’t have to do this.”

“Nonsense, Lee. After what you did with Lisa, I was thinkin’ this wasn’t enough. Was gonna take us out to raise hell, but El shot that one down.”

Lisa…Leah sighed. Right, her. “…hey, listen. You…really shouldn’t have done this. I…she’s still alive. I haven’t even stopped her yet.” Leah looked down. “Sorry. I wish I could have done better, but she’s just too strong. Every time we think we have her on the ropes, she just…pulls something out of her stand.” She looked back up, and she swore she could feel tears in her eyes. “What could I even do to her? I’m…I’m useless. All I can do is just suck energy out of things and put it into other things, and I don’t even have the stomach to do the former to living things! I can’t even use Hamon like Maman or Grandma or Great Grandma or even Maria…I’m just…” Leah sighed once more. “I can’t do this.”

Madeline looked over the room to the others, then back to Leah. “Come on, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. Like, I mean, you know what they told me. ‘Just breathe.’” Madeline took a deep breath. “Like that, see?”

“…I beg your pardon?” Jeez, her back was really starting to kill her. Leah tried arching it to crack it, to no avail.

“Yeah.” Ellie smiled. “Breathe.”

Blinking, Leah looked around the room once more, at the faces of her friends, brimming with anticipation. The pain in her back gradually grew. Well, she guess there was nothing else she could do.

Leah took a deep breath.

She felt the pain in her back lessen as the world around her seemed to blur.

“Yeah, just like that!” Yelled one of Leah’s friends, though she couldn’t quite tell which of them had said it.

Leah took another deep breath, and the pain lessened even more as the world grew blurrier and blurrier.

Another breath, and the pain was gone. The world was a blue and black blur now, and yet she had never felt better. She was healthy, she was young, she was a queen, she was free. She was…right.

Leah took a few more breaths as the blue began taking a distinct shape. About as tall as Leah, with six arms, dressed in a ballroom gown, antler-like hair going down to their waist, with a face Leah felt she had known forever. The thing before her smiled, and Leah, at once, realized who this thing was.

“Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Act 4.”

Leah woke up back against an Algiers water tower, a deflated grey husk that might have been Maria at her feet. Before her stood the monster who had caused all this, covered in blood that wasn’t hers, Widdly 2 Diddly beside her. Leah took a few breaths, and…couldn’t help but giggle.

“…what do you find so funny?”

Locking gaze with Lisa, she found herself pitying her. How would she feel if she only went 170 years into her eternal empire? “You’re getting rather close to me.”

Taking a step towards her, Lisa sneered. “All the closer to take your stand.”

Leah closed her eyes. “Heh. That’s basically the source of your power, isn’t it? Taking shit from others.”

Jeez, her back still hurt. Must be pressing against something. Leah stuck a hand back there to gauge what it was.

“You know, for a degenerate cambion spawn such as yourself, you have a rather dangerous mouth. It could get you hurt.” Lisa took another step forward.

Hm. Some blade or something, shaped like an arrowhead? Odd thing to have. In any case, Leah tossed it aside. “That word again. ‘Cambion’. What exactly do you mean by it?”

Another step forward. “Your father was a slutty demon who slept with humans to steal their life force, what do you think I mean? You think any actual human could love a Nasser?” Lisa kneeled down to spit in her face, though more blood than actual saliva seemed to come out. “You’re disrespectful to your superiors, your stands are garbage, and fucking hell, how could you ever think your family could live up to being part of the six?” Lisa put a hand on her face. “You’re unlova…” Lisa suddenly blinked.

Leah smiled as Lisa took her now boiling hand off of her face. “…when did you learn this?” Lisa snarled as Widdly 2 Diddly rushed forward. “When did you learn this?!”

A blue arm emerged from Leah to block the oncoming punch, and Leah could feel an odd tingling in her arm. “No fucking clue, but you know how good Hamon feels? Shame you can never feel it. Kinda like how you can’t feel human emotion, don’t you think?”

Leah must have been doing something right, because she's pretty sure she just heard Lisa growl.

“Enough! Widdly 2 Diddly!”

Everything stopped.

“Eleven fucking seconds left.” Lisa turned to W2D and nodded, as they proceeded to perform a chop at Leah’s knee. “Let’s see how willing you are to mess with me when-”

W2D’s hand stopped at the knee, and Lisa swore she could see a bit of blue protruding from it.

For once, Lisa froze along with everything else.

At the tenth second, everything resumed.

“…what did you just do?”

Leah smiled. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, darling~.”

“Fuck! You! I know you just moved during The Highway King’s time stop! What did you just do?!” Leah noticed blood coming from the spots where Lisa’s nails clenched into her fist.

“Oh, that’s what you called that? I didn’t know~.” Leah stood up, grinning.

“Nrgh! Widdly 2 Diddly!” W2D charged once more, fist raised.

“Not gonna work. Emerson, Lake, & Palmer!” Pointing, towards Lisa, Leah summoned ELP to meet W2D.

They met about a meter away from their respective users, matching fist for fist with each blow. Leah found she could feel the force of the blows on her fists. Even with W2D’s right fist currently bubbling to match Lisa’s own, Leah felt a soreness creep into her hands. ~Jeez, how long can I keep this up?~

She found her answer at the approximate moment Lisa’s boiling hand burst open, along with W2D’s. ELP took the opening to punch W2D square in the tacky disco ball it called head, leaving a large crack in it.

Lisa stumbled backward, appearing to be suffering from a rather severe nosebleed. “You, you…The Highway King!”

Everything but Lisa and Leah stopped. Not even bothering to announce the time left, Lisa rushed off the building. For one second, Leah tried rushing after to grab onto Lisa, although she found herself stopping before she could properly get a hold. The sound of scraping was all she could hear for the next nine second before time resumed.

Leah’s phone rang as she looked for a way off the roof.

Kiefer polished his steel balls. Gotta keep these things perfect for good rotation, ‘swhat his brother always said.

Ellie was nearby, talking on her phone. “Oh, hey Leah…right after it punched you? Oh, fun. Yeah, I’ve done research on this kinda thing, apparently most stands fit some kind of mold based on stuff like circumstance and personality. Not that you’re anything like her, no.” Ellie looked over to Kiefer. ~You want to practice with the horses before we head out?~

~’d be nice. Not like anyone’s gonna come into the alley.~

Ellie nodded, and bits of El Huervo separated from itself, taking the form of a horse and saddle. “Oh, time stop? Shit, you got lucky getting that from her. Only other person I know who got that was Marcelyn Maddox, never knew her but heard a lot. What was her stand called again, Around the World?” ~Might want to light one before you get on. I’ve seen you sober and it isn’t funny. No offense ;^).~

Cheekiness transfers surprisingly well through psychic nanobot stands, Kiefer had found in his time with El. Taking out a blunt from his hat (thank god the Spin fucked up airport security machines good), he lit up, taking a quick puff. ~Thanks fer the tip.~

~Don’t mention it.~ “So, you got any read on her current location? Hm, shit, yeah, that would be hard. Well, least you aren’t in something like Cairo or…no shit, you snagged another ability off her?…yeah, sounds like Reb Sullivan’s own Hotline Bling. Nosferatu over there must have taken it when she offed her.”

A few more puffs to clear his mind, and Kiefer was ready to prep. Taking a steel ball, he applied a bit of spin and sent it flying. “Sun Araw!” A few seconds later, Sun Araw Act 1, taking the form of a pompadoured silhouette dressed in a fire-patterned disco suit and sunglasses appeared on the wall. A quick punch to a pipe confirmed that yes, its power was satisfactory.

“Oh, that? Keef’s testing out his stand before we come over. Hoping he can get the Spin to the point of acausality, I think. You know, dimension and time breaking…Men’s Hair Club? Never heard of it, although the way you talk about it kinda reminds me of one of Keef’s uncle’s stands, Red Flag. Interdimensional storage was actually a side effect, main thing was pulling people across dimensions.” ~Could’ve probably done that without causing property damage.~

~Eh, I ain’t gonna be around to pay for it.~ Satisfied, Kiefer attempted to climb onto the Huervo horse.

“…yeah, yeah, just try not to get your breathing blocked and everything will probably be okay once we get there…hm. This ‘Pebble Man’ sounds an awful lot like Mitsuo Yagiyama’s Mr. Bass Man. Jeez, Rock Humans mostly keep to themselves nowadays, why’d she go and do that?”

The alleyway was small, so Kiefer found himself just riding circles. Yeah, this definitely wasn’t enough to achieve Super Spin. ~You mind ‘f I try it outside? Place’s cramped.~

~Just work with it.~ “…Antonio Rivera? Yeah, he had…what was it, Sugar Sugar? Yeah, not really a combat stand, I don’t think…we should be there shortly, yeah if Bob’s stand leads us to the right place. Yeah, the range on Don’t Stop Believin’ is ridiculous, honestly…so, wait, how did you get your Act progression? Those things don’t come cheap.”

“…a stand arrow?!”

How the hell did she do this?! Hyacinth told her nothing about Leah’s Hamon capabilities.

Lisa found herself scowling as she pulled another bystander into the alleyway. Nrgh, she needed to be more careful with this. Alright, stay calm, she couldn’t let her anger botch the amputation again.

The bystander cried as her left hand was severed, and Lisa found herself stomping on her neck to keep her from making more noise. Damnit, focus, she needed focus.

There, another left hand, good as new. Off color, sure, but that would change in time, hopefully.

Now that she was okay, the next order of business was finding Leah and finally taking that ugly, enigmatic mess she called a stand. Lisa sighed. “Widdly 2 Diddly, Soft Skin.”

Nothing happened.

Lisa blinked. Did…”Widdly 2 Diddly. Soft Skin.”

Nothing happened again.


Lisa winced as she found her only recently healed teeth clenching once again. “Nasser. What did you do to me?”

“Oh, that~. Well, the same thing you did to every other stand user you murdered. I took back some of the things you stole.” Lisa could hear footsteps behind her. “Face it, Lisa. You’re finished. I have backup coming soon. Thanks to that handy thing I took from your stand, I can track you anywhere in the city.” Lisa turned to face the cambion spawn behind her, and found herself backing away instinctively. “Come on, you don’t gotta prolong this any further. Just…give up. Hey, you’ll probably get into Heaven easier if accept your sinful nature.” Leah smiled, closing her eyes, as ELP manifested behind her. “Not that I really know if it exists or not.”

Lisa could feel her breathing growing heavy, a peculiar feat for someone who didn’t have to breathe.

“So.” Leah opened her eyes, and extended her arms out. “There’s worse ways to die than a Hamon hug.”

“…if you think I’d ever allow myself to die by your hands, you’re wrong.” W2D took out several knives. “And if you think I’m giving up on Heaven Ascension after coming this far, you’re dead wrong.” A sneer crept onto her face. “Now, I think I’m going to take back what you stole from me. Widdly 2 Diddly, The Highway King!”

Everything stopped.

“Eleven seconds remaining, or is it ten?” Nodding to W2D, Lisa pointed to Leah. “I wonder how long you have?”

Widdly 2 Diddly nodded back, throwings its knives towards the currently motionless Leah. “You didn’t seem to move much back in that last timestop. Is it possible you only have a few seconds?” Yes, yes…this was good. Breathe deep, Lisa, because you’re still clear. Just stay calm.

As usual, for whatever reason, the knives slowed to a stop at some point in their trajectory, a bit before making contact with Leah. No matter. Lisa hadn’t intended Leah to die, not yet, in any case.

Sneering, Lisa approached Leah, putting her hand before her face. “Six to five seconds remaining. Come on, Nasser, I’m waiting~.”

Lisa put a finger down. “Four to five seconds before they hit, deary~.”

Another finger. “Will you be taking all-”


Leah’s stand suddenly appeared and began punching the knives out of the air. Quite unfortunately for Leah, it didn’t quite get all of them in the second it took for it freeze along with everything else.

“Ooooooooooh~. I counted a second of time that you stole from me. Let’s see what happens when it resumes~.” Lisa snapped her fingers.

ELP uselessly flailed as it attempted to attack the remaining, moving knives.

Even as time resumed, Leah felt things move far slower than they should have been as her mind drifted to odd places.

Dr. Kujo (he had apparently worked as a university professor beforehand) had always been the weird teacher at the preschool she had attended. Of all the people who worked with children, he was by far the coldest of the lot. Sure he was never mean to children, but Leah often felt his heart just wasn’t into any of it (she later learned, after having his boyfriend for a middle school teacher, that he was just really bad at emoting).

Still, one memory stuck out with her. It was when she was, what, 5? It’s hard to tell with these things. It was Halloween, and of course everything spooky that came along with it was happening.

Every single teacher was doing something that day, save for Dr. Kujo. People were passing out candy, putting on those 90s Halloween songs everyone seemed to love back then, the works. All except Dr. Kujo, who mostly just kept to himself.

That is, right before the end of the day. Either someone successfully convinced him to do something or he had just been preparing beforehand, but an hour before everyone would have left, he gathered every kid into one room to tell a story.

Dr. Kujo wanted to tell everyone about a time when he hunted vampires. He didn’t want any of the kids to worry, this vampire was very, very, very evil and had wanted to hurt him and his family. He only hunted bad vampires, he said.

Leah remembered the story vaguely, but one part stuck out even after all those years. Apparently, at one point, the vampire let out a barrage of knives at Dr. Kujo. Dr. Kujo, of course, had anticipated this, but could not quite dodge all the knives for reasons he refused to elaborate on.

So instead, he had stuffed magazines under his clothes to soften the blow, and pretended he was dead until the right moment to strike.

Approaching Leah, Lisa couldn’t help but smile. There she was, the rat who had caused her so much trouble, lying on the ground, pincushioned.

Still, she needed her, lest she have to travel all the way to Diane, Florida to steal away her mother’s stand. Was she even still alive? Well, couldn’t exactly put a finger on the throat to check if she was.

Lisa blinked, putting an ear to the ground. She’d heard of this trick before, back when Hamon users were widespread.

…oh, excellent. It appears her honored guest was still alive, at least.

Smiling, Lisa couldn’t help but giggle. “Oh my. You know, after the rest of this night’s festivities, I would have though this would have ended different, but it appears this works just as well.” Snapping her fingers, she had Widdly 2 Diddly pick Leah up. “Can you walk? I have rather big plans to end the night on.”

W2D put her on her feet, and tried walking her. Leah’s feet thankfully complied, meaning that for once, she hadn’t been defied. Good, very good.

Lisa clapped her hands. “Well! Let’s walk.” Half-skipping out of the alleyway, Lisa ambled over to Leah’s side, just out of arm’s reach. “Now, why don’t we go over tonight’s festivities? It’s been…fun, but I believe it’s time for a proper ending. The question is, what? How do I top the deaths of your friends, while simultaneously matching the…spectacle you created back on the water tower.” Lisa turned her head to her captive. “Say, are you listening? Well, no problem, you probably won’t need to do much.”

Lisa began walking, directing Leah to walk alongside her. “Well, I believe it’s possible to take your stand without killing you. Still, in any case, I feel we should wait, just in case. Oooh, you probably don’t know what I intend to do. Well, allow me to elaborate!.” Leah nearly lost her footing from how quickly W2D turned her. Not that Lisa really cared. She wasn’t exactly here for anything more than Leah’s immediate lifespan for the next few hours.

“You know where we’re going?” Lisa couldn’t help but grin. “The Maqam Echahid. A monument to the Algerian war for independance. Also where I’m going to execute you, publicly, after I take your stand.”

Leah didn’t respond.

“Oh, and don’t think anyone will help you. You’re a Jew covered in what may very well be someone else’s blood. All I need say is that it was a child’s and, well, everyone stops caring. If you weren’t about to die I’d have you verify the claim, but believe me, it is true. Ask your fellow people in Hell about Blood Libel, or what happened here in 1994.” Perhaps it wouldn’t be quite that easy, but anything to break Leah’s spirit.

Leah once again failed to respond. Hopefully she wasn’t dying of blood loss.

“Not that it’d matter, anyways. Once I take your stand, I’m fairly certain I’ll become even more powerful than Kars could have been…did he have a stand? No matter, I’ll still be far more powerful. I doubt the populace would be able to stop me, not even if they all banded together and learned Hamon.” Giggling, Lisa turned another corner. “Oooh, there’s the stairs to the metro. Let’s head down, shall we~?”

The subway was cramped and smelly as usual, though Lisa had learned not to expect much from them nowadays.

Lisa was wrong about the ‘no one caring’ part, at the least. Lisa and Leah did get quite a bit of strange looks as they went to buy a ticket, though no one expressed a hand to help. “Two tickets for the train to 1er Mai, if you would. Oh, and don’t mind her, she’s a performance artist.”

This was it. This was her moment. Finally, after a night of constantly being harassed by degenerates and neophytes, she would reclaim her rightful place as the one true queen of this wretched world. There would be no Rivkas to foil her plans, no Saras to harass her at every turn, no Leahs provide one last thorn in her side, and no Einhardts, Sarah, Dallas, or otherwise, to hurt her ever again. There would only be her, standing on a world over Heaven, creating paradise with the swish of her fingers, rightfully worshipped and loved by all. All she needed to do was-

“Oh, hey Leah! Nice to see you around here~.”


Ellie tossed a steel ball between her hands as the very pissed off vampire before her turned around.

“Hey~. Long time no see, Lizzie. Is Sister Levine still with you, or did you cast her aside like everyone else who's served you and failed? Cause I still got to get her a mother’s day present. Not that I expect you to live lon-”

What. Are. You. Doing. Here.”

“I think you already know what I’m doing here, Liz-”

“No!” Lisa slammed a fist down on a nearby trash can (how fitting), denting it. “You have no fucking right to call me Lizzie.” Ellie could spot blood dripping from her mouth and palms. “I am the very fucking reason you are even alive. You should be worshipping the very fucking ground I stand on.”

Jeez, Ellie hadn’t seen her this angry since Strauss defected. “Hey, come on, chill out, I haven’t even done anything to-”

“For once, for fucking once, could you leave me alone?!” By now, everyone in the subway was staring at her.

Ellie made a mock thinking gesture, and she swore she could hear the sound of cracking teeth coming from Lisa. “…okay, sure.”

“Why must you-” Lisa blinked. “…that was…” Clearing her throat and taking a few breaths, she had W2D turn Leah around. “Apologies, today’s been a rough day for-”

“Can’t say the same for my friends, of course. Come on out!” Ellie snapped her fingers, and the lights flickered.

Keef was the first to answer the signal, leading along one of the horses El Huervo had constructed, heading over to where the three were with surprising nonchalance. Next were Zeke and Elspeth, arm in arm, their stands (Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows and American Boy) behind them in a similar position. Valentin, who had been sitting on a bench, got up, Oh Wonder materializing behind him. Sweet Dreams carried James over, who had apparently fallen asleep while preparing the ambush.

As more and more stand users revealed themselves, Lisa’s expression went from confused, to angry, to furious, to something that could have very easily been mistaken for neutral, had one not looked at Lisa’s (now fidgeting) hands.

“Face it, Kawajiri. You’re done fo-”

W2D picked up Leah as Lisa sprinted for the train cars.

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the first transcontinental horse race in American history, the Steel Ball Run!”

Kawajiri Isamu, who went by Lisa to her fans, waved to the crowd as her horse approached the starting line. Finally, after years in poverty, in what was essentially slavery to Dale Einhardt and his wretched daughter Sally, her life would finally be turning around. She’d make her mother proud, she would.

Of course, she had felt they had gimped her in regards to her current racing position. Of course she’d get sandwiched between Gyro Southey, that dark horse racer with a laughably bad fake Italian accent, and Rebby Nasser, the frankly pathetic had-been cripple who probably should have amputated by now. Indeed, she deserved a better starting position, one amongst actual legends, like Mountain Gordon, or Katherine Fox.

“What a lovely day it is for our racers! Enough cloud coverage to hopefully keep the sun out of our racer’s eyes, but not nearly enough to steal the spring warmth!”

Already, Isamu could see some of the racers’ stands appearing beside them. Whatever. She wouldn’t need Ghosts N Stuff right now.

“Presiding over this race are several celebrities you all know and love, who will be watching from their train on the first transcontinental railroad. Ladies and Gentleman, give it up for Stephen Steel, his lovely wife, Lucy Steel, and the president of the United States of Valentine himself, Donald Valentine!” The crowd cheered as a frail old man with hair that frankly looked like half of an eggshell, along with a girl far too young to be anyone’s wife, approached the podium. Nearby sat the head of state, that odd, fat man with hair that was frankly worse than Stephen’s (it honestly reminded Isamu of cinnamon rolls attached to strings), with surprisingly little security about him.

Stephen cleared his throat. “My fellow Americans, I am truly honored to sponsor this event.”

Gyro leaned in from his horse, smiling with those odd metal teeth he had. “Real fucking predictable, this guy. Anyways, ain’t his wife like-”

“Quiet, I’m listening.” In truth she was only half-listening, but by now she had grown tired of hearing that fake Italian drawl.

“Before I begin, I’d like to note that, although there can only be one winner, everyone who has decided to participate on this fateful day is truly a winner. After all, ain’t that pioneering spirit the true meaning of the race? To go where no man has gone before? Is that not one of the principles our country was built on?”

The crowd cheered. Isamu didn’t. Oh god, the man was uselessly trying to make up for his feebleness with empty rhetoric. If he really wanted to prove himself, he could have joined the race himself. After all, Nguyen Thi Hao was 68 and competing, so he had no excuse.

“Now, on to the rules. This race will be divided into nine stages, starting here and ending in Manhattan. Points will be awarded based on arrival at each stage. At the end of the race, the points will be tallied up, and the winner will be decided based on those points. First prize wins a grand total of one million dollars, second prize wins five hundred thousand, and third prize wins one hundred thousand. Still, anyone who makes it to the end is a winner in my heart, and the heart of the American people!”

Isamu felt like vomiting, and it was clear she wasn’t alone in feeling as such, at least from Rebby’s eye-roll.

“Now.” Stephen pulled out a pistol. “When I shoot this pistol, that is our racer’s cue to start.”

Isamu felt something tap her back. She opted to ignore it.

“On your mark.”

Something tapped her again. Christ’s Mummified Steel Balls, if this was someone’s annoying stand at work Isamu was going to have to kill someone.

“Get set.”

Something grasped her shoulder, and Isamu looked back to find an off-whitehand with screws for nails.


As the pistol shot went off, Isamu found herself being pulled off her horse and dragged somewhere.

“I know who you are, Randall.”

The tall blond boy with the easy smile turned around from his locker. “Oh, hey Lisa. What’d you need?”

Lisa gulped, attempting to steel herself. ~Do it for her.~ “I…you’re a fed, Randall. Y-you’ve always been a fed.”

Blinking, Randall stared off to the side, before looking back. “Lisa, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Me, a fed? I mean, I’ve smoked up with you and your friends. You think a fed’d do that?”

Lisa found herself shaking. This wasn’t going like how she had imagined it. “Y-you’re lying, a-and I kn-know it. Sh-she told me.”

“She?” Randall chuckled, looking around the room. “I’m afraid you’re gonna have to elaborate on who this ‘she’ is, cause at the moment I ain’t got a clue who that could be. I’m fairly popular with the ladies, so I ain’t sure why one’d lie to you like that.”

Biting her lip, Lisa found herself unable to meet Randall’s gaze all of a sudden. Oh god, what if she really was lied to? What if this was all some joke to alienate her from her friends. Oh jeez, she should have known. These last few months with Leah, Calvin, Kathie, and Marie were too good to be true. She didn’t deserve friends like them, nor did she have any qualities that would really let her gain them in the first case. It was all just a joke, wasn’t it?

“‘sides, if I’m actually an undercover cop, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Means I’m protecting the school from evil and all that. Man, you can’t trust everything Tabitha tells you, she’s just trying to-”

“Tabitha.” Lisa blinked. “…her name was Tabitha? How did you know that?”

Randall trailed off as Lisa narrowed her eyes. “…so you are a fed.”

“…” Randall got out his phone. “Yeah, so what? I keep the school safe, make sure nobody’s stoned or anything like that. Course, that means there’ll be a report on you and your degenerate friends, but the law’s the law.”

Something burned inside Lisa. Something she hadn’t felt in a long time. “I won’t let you get away with this.”

Randall sighed as she fiddled with his phone. “Oh, you will alright, if you know what’s good for you.”

“If you think I’m going to let you lie to Leah any longer about who you are, you’re wrong, you, you…you creep!” Lisa found herself clenching her fists and teeth. This…this felt good, standing up for herself.

“…nah, I think I’m right.” Randall looked up, grinning. “Saaay, back in middle school, didn’t you date Sarah Einhardt?”

Lisa froze.

“I was wondering cause you, well. Marie’s a trap, Kathie’s a slut, Cal’s a pussy with a drunk dad, and Leah’s secretly a lesbo, I can tell, but you always seemed too squeaky clean for your own good.” He chuckled. “Man, though, was I wrong about you. You’re an interesting one, you know? Say, I don’t quite get the whole bullshit those transsexuals have going, but do you prefer he, she, or it?”

Lisa didn’t speak.

“It, then. Man, getting dirt on a loner freak like you was pretty hard, but oh boy, the things I now know.” Snickering, he presented his phone to Lisa. “These pictures of you?”

Lisa turned away, trying not to vomit. She could feel a ringing in her ears.

“Thought so.” Randall put his phone away. “So here’s what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna be asking Leah to prom, and you are gonna be doing everything in your power to make that happen. She refuse? No show? Get asked by someone else?” Randy clasped his hands. “Those pics go online. Since I’m a cop, they’re gonna say it was justified, and I will go off scot free. Hell, I’ll probably get a buncha MRAs to donate money to me for hurt feelings.” The buzzing grew louder as an odd light began to appear behind Randall. “Capi-”

An off-white arm with grey bands, ending in a hand with screws for nails, burst through Randall, and his twisted fucking grin turned to an expression of horror. If it weren’t for the suddenness of the whole thing, the surreal nature of it all, and the blood spurting from his wound staining her shirt, Lisa may have smiled right then and there.

Randall tried screaming, but Lisa guessed he was bleeding too much internally for that to happen. Lisa considered asking for help, before deciding on just taking the phone from his pockets and slamming Randall’s open locker door against it until it broke. There, problem solved.

Lisa was about to walk away and finally confess her feelings to Leah when the arm suddenly grabbed her and dragged her somewhere.

“Hey, Lisa?” Bernard asked, finishing up his milkshake.

“Yes?” Asked one Lisa Armstrong-Kawajiri

“You ever think about just…running away? From Bradley, from your dad, from all of it?”

“Well…where would I go? Olathe’s the only place I’ve ever known, really, and-” Lisa stopped as a cold hand grasped her neck and dragged her somewhere.

You approached Sans, clenching your knife a bit too hard.

”*heh, that looks like the face of someone who’s died 37 times. in a row?” Sans closes his eyes. “*i remember a movie with a line like that, only the movie isn’t something i’d let you see, cause you’re a kid, so maybe when you’re older. *oh right” Sans opens his eyes, left eye glowing. “*you aren’t gonna get much older than you are now, are you?”

You feel your heart boxed in.

“*it’s a beautiful day out-”

You feel yourself being pulled away by an unknown force and dragged somewhere.

Father Pucci looked up from his book, to the man lying beside him. “Dio, if I may ask a question?”

Dio put down his diary, looking over to Pucci in turn. “Of course. What is it you wished to know?”

“I have seen your other followers at work, and certainly I am impressed. Some of them, such as Oingo and Boingo, make me wonder how anyone could ever use those stands efficiently, and yet time and time again they fail to disappoint. Tell me, though: is there a stand so worthless that one would never attempt to employ it?”

His master merely chuckled. “Theoretically, no. However, I do know of one such stand user I would hesitate to employ.” Dio sat up. “I believe her name was Lisa Kawajiri, and she was a peculiar one. She was shy and hesitant, and yet I always thought she had a certain…aspiration to her. To be better than everyone else.”

Pucci nodded.

“Still, these were mere aspirations, nothing more. Her stand, Le Perv, was utterly and completely worthless in most situations. Though it had the power to inspire animalistic aggression in others, it could not be controlled, often resulting in everyone but her growing angrier and angrier, until everyone in its radius was dead but one. You can see how I would hesitate to employ her, surely.”

Pucci nodded once more. “Certainly. Whatever happened to her?”

“I’m not certain, but I believe she was taken by an unknown force and dragged somewhere.”

As more and more Lisas filled the train car, the original cleared her throat. “Attention, all of you!”

That certainly got their attention. Damnit, was she a mere follower in every other dimension?!

Lisa Prime looked out over every one of them. “You are all gathered here today because I have a massive problem. I am currently being hunted by some…pests, some of which will be entering the train car shortly. You are to kill anyone who is not a Lisa or Leah, do you understand?” She pointed to a yellow-skinned Lisa with four fingers on each hand and spiky hair. “You, bar the doors. It won’t quite stop them but it will buy us time.”

Another Lisa, with blue hair, wearing a labcoat and very obviously drunk, raised a hand. “Y-yeah, quick question. I gotta be back in time to p-pick up my Leah from Gorswap 9, then I gotta pick up my Tyler from the Tylerboree, any idea when we’ll be done?”

Lisa Prime sighed. “When everyone but us and Leah on this train is dead. Any more questions?”

Another Lisa, dressed as a medieval swashbuckler if Lisa Prime had to guess, raised her hand. “Are items and non-omega stages allowed?”

“Oh my god, yes, you are to do everything in your power to kill non-Lisa slash Leahs. Now, is there anythi-”

A different Lisa began crying. This Lisa was rather deformed, only about half the size of the others, with an unusually small body for her unusually large head, with eyes the size of dinner plates constantly leaking tears and a mouth twisted into a permanent sad face, holding a six-sided die.

By now Lisa Prime had lost her patience. “What the fuck do you want now?!” God, this is why she never used Men’s Hair Club’s primary ability.

Crying Baby Lisa pointed with a stubby arm to Widdly 2 Diddly, and, by extension, where Leah would have been if she wasn’t somehow missing.


Turning to the door, Lisa Prime spotted a rather large amount of non-Lisa-slash-Leah’s and their rather large amount of non-W2D-slash-ELPs entering, headed by a Leah and ELP.

Lisa Prime felt her stomach drop as one of the Lisas shouted something that sounded suspiciously like “Le Perv”.

As Kiefer raced through the tunnel towards the train on the Huervo horse, he guessed it was really for the best that he didn’t make it onto the train, considering how crowded it looked.

He had to hand it to Ellie. Her stand was fucking incredible to keep up with a moving train. Hopefully the telepathic part still worked.

~Yo, El, you alright in there?~

No response. ~El? You okay? Normally you answer after the second ring so ‘mkinda worried right now that things ain’t goin’ so well in there.~

No response yet again. Getting closer, he could see the back window of the train car was splattered with a red substance. Yeeaaaaaah, this wasn’t exactly good. Since it was too dark for anything to grow or to even look at his own hands, the tunnel lacked anything he could focus on to achieve the Super Spin. Ellie was still alive, if the Huervo horse was any indication, so that was good. But without communication…

Kiefer swore he could hear another set of hoofbeats beside him as an unusual coldness washed over his person.

Something spoke to him. Something…cold. Hostile. Otherworldly. “Gyro Southey…in this world, for me, you are the greatest challenge!”

Gyro? His name wasn’t Gyro. Kiefer turned his head slowly. To his right was another rider, one with long black hair obscuring their face, with ghastly pale skin, wearing a long, white, flowing gown, riding their horse(?) made of spectral blue fire.

Kiefer gulped. He had seen enough J-Horror movies to know where this was going, and with neither conforming to the golden rectangle, he still lacked a visual reference for the Super Spin. “Uh…well, see I’m not really lookin’ ta pick a fight with you, so-” Kiefer ducked to avoid a knife thrown by the rider. The thing swerved their horse into the tunnel walls, disappearing inside completely.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck what was happening. Getting out a steel ball, Kiefer did a quick test throw. Sun Araw appeared on the wall. Good, spin still worked even without a reference, although he was somewhat disappointed that he had only gotten Act 1 with that one. Jeez, how could he hope to fight against something like that with only-

Kiefer ducked to avoid the wires that had shot forth from the right wall. A woman’s laugh echoed throughout the tunnel. “Sun Araw!”

His stand, nodding, proceeded to punch a hole in the wall, to no effect. As if on cue, his assailant appeared from the left wall. “Useless, Gyro darling~.” The spectre snapped their fingers as a wall of blue fire consumed the left half of the tunnel.

“I don’t know what yer talkin’ about?!” Kiefer swerved to avoid it, prepping another steel ball. “Sun Araw!” As it was too dark to see anything, he, very predictably, did not achieve Super Spin. Darn.

The ball passed right through the spectre, and Sun Araw once more appeared on the wall. “Is this the true power of the spin?! Have I been deceived this entire time?!” The spectre swerved back into the wall, but not before Sun Araw threw a punch at the approaching spectre, nearly knocking them off their horse.

Wait, if that connected but the ball didn’t…

“You a stand user?!”

“Oh ho ho ho~. How’d you know?” Kiefer swerved to avoid another wall of spectral fire as the spectre’s words echoed through the tunnel. “But oh, yes, Southey. And my stand, Ghosts N Stuff, is far more powerful than that pitiful weakling you call, what was it you called earlier, Sun Araw?”

“Hey, uh, listen,” Kiefer found his breathing growing heavy. ”I don’t got a problem with you, so if you could maybe not chase me while I’m-” Kiefer ducked to avoid more wires. “-while I’m trying ta save my friends, that’d be-” Kiefer ducked once more as hands came down from the ceiling to grasp at him. “-that’d be great, ya know?”

“Save it, Southey. This is our very own Steel Ball Run. Can you feel it?” The spectre rushed out of the right wall this time, aiming to tackle him from the looks of it. “You and I were made to fight each other, darling. Only now do I see it.”

“Steel Ball Run? What do you-” Swerving to the left, Kiefer found that he had been a bit too close to the left wall at the approximate moment that his head collided with the wall. The world began spinning as he felt something wet drip down his face.

The spectre must’ve disappeared into the wall at that point. “Oh~. You must be a different incarnation, then, but that merely proves my point. We’ve met twice as rivals. It is as if fate has destined us to fight!”

Jesus, just…”Sun Araw!” Perhaps it was because he had just suffered a concussion, but Sun Araw didn’t quite appear after he threw his ball.

“Ha! I hope you aren’t as weak in my own world as you are here.” Kiefer barely dodged another wall of fire. Okay, focus, focus. You can do this Kiefy. For Katlyn, for Leah, for Madeline…

Taking a moment to gather his bearings, Kiefer considered his options. He could continue throwing balls around like a loser and repeatedly failing to achieve Super Spin. He could pretend to give up, then rush away from the spectre haunting him as it slowed down. He could…actually, those were basically the only things that he could do right now, he figured. Darn. Damn it, why’d he have to pick a fight in a place with no natural life?

The spectre reappeared from the right wall as Kiefer regained his bearings. “Useless, useless, useless! Is that all you can manage? Is your soul that weak?”

…it was weak, wasn’t it? Kiefer had never really been one with a strong will. All the shit he did and still did, he couldn’t see anything good coming out of that. He was just a weak soul with a weak body…

…wait a minute. Soul and body were connected, right?

Kiefer grinned. “Nah, I ain’t weak. Just holding back, cause I know you are. Hell, you haven’t even brought out your stand yet.”

“Oh ho ho~. Well, in that case…”

Kiefer pinpointed the approximate moment that he regretted that statement at around the time he heard a train whistle behind him. Turning around only confirmed his suspicion that yes, he fucked up, as he noticed the spectral train car rushing towards him, a giant glowing rat skeleton sitting on top of it.

If souls were related to the body, and the body reflected the golden rectangle…

Kiefer focused on the rat’s head as he prepped his next ball. “Sun Araw!”

Kiefer tossed the ball towards the rat and prayed to every god he knew.

Lisa sat on her seat as Widdly 2 Diddly held the beat-up Leah up once more.

“I want you to look at something before I end this.” W2D turned Leah’s head to look at the car before her, a silence marred only by the dripping of blood from the bodies of Lisas and not Lisas. “Your friends are dead, wounded, or too far away to hear you. There is no one here but us.” Leaning in, Lisa had W2D face Leah towards Lisa once more. “This is what you have wrought.”

ELP briefly apparated, only to be punched away by W2D. “Feeble. For every time you have defied me, the situation has only gotten worse for you. Truly, if you had given yourself up to me, none of this would have happened. Your friends and family would be alive, happy even, enjoying the paradise I will have created in a world over Heaven. Now? They’ve died, without even a chance at penance.”

Lisa looked back out to the train car. “I’m through playing games, to be quite honest. Every time I attempt to end this fittingly, something gets in the way.” Sighing, Lisa checked her nails. Damn, they appear to have chipped somewhere along the way. “So here’s what’s going to happen. I am not going to give you any last words. I am not going to give you any last requests. I am not even going to punish you any last time. I am simply going to take your stand, and then I am going to flay you, alive. Too many times I have gotten angry at well-made plans being ruined, and so I have decided not to make a well-made plan. I am simply going to take your stand, and kill you.” Lisa looked back to Leah. “How about that?”

Her voice was calm, but that wasn’t to say she wasn’t still angry, no. Indeed, though part of her felt at peace, there was a swirling feeling in her head, one filled only with thoughts of hatred and violence.

“I think I’ve talked enough. Widdly 2 Diddly, Live in Joy.”

Nothing visibly happened, but Lisa felt something inside her stir. “Are you feeling that? That’s the feeling of me getting my stand powers back.” Her head continued swirling. Oh god, it’s been too long since she took a stand like this.

ELP summoned again, but all it did was lurch forward and fall over. “You know what I’m doing to you, right? Your stand is growing weaker and weaker, as mine is growing stronger and stronger. Heaven awaits, darling, and it’s a shame you can’t attend”

…hm. Her head didn’t normally hurt this much. “…did you eat something on the way here? I’m not certain this is normal. Do you feel-urgh…do you feel it too?”

Leah didn’t respond, choosing only to stare at W2D.

“…do you mind answering? I-”

“Kawajiri, it appears you’ve lost.”

Lisa blinked, clutching her head. “…no? I’m taking your stand, and-”

“You might want to be more concerned about your own stand.” Something, somewhere, cracked.

Oh god, this headache was killing her. “This is another one of your tricks, and I will not have it. I’m already flaying you, don’t make it-” Lisa doubled over in pain. “Oh god, what are you doing?!”

“Nothing, really. It’s your stand that appears to be acting up.”

Looking back, Lisa could notice three disturbing things about the scene: First of all, Leah was grinning, weakly, when she should have been struggling, weakly. The second thing happened to be the large crack in the helmet W2D always seemed to wear. The third thing was the fact that all the Lisas lying around the cabin appeared to have head wounds of some kind that they lacked before.

As W2D’s helmet cracked, everything went dark for Lisa.

~Hey, El, you alive? I think Sun Araw just fucked up the multiverse.~

~Fucking sweet.~

It took a while for Leah to stand up after W2D released her. The thing was now writhing in pain, its rotting, jawless face exposed exposed to open air. Lisa, eyes and nose busted and bleeding heavily, was in a similar state of pain.

Sighing, Leah tried summoning her stand, but only found the strength to summon Act 1. Well, she supposed it would be pretty easy to steal back…oh, right, that was an Act 4 thing.

Taking a deep breath, Leah approached the crumpled heap before her. “I’m gonna be honest? I have no idea what just happened, but I’m really happy it did. Still, I do feel the need to inform you of the reason you lost.” Leah stopped just before Lisa. “Do you remember who exactly you sent after Maman? I think it was…oh, right. Randall Claggett. I remember because I used to date him. Anyways, Roxanne was a weak fucking stand and I’m surprised Maman got hurt like she did, but I still remember what he said before Grandma punched his lights out. ‘Lady Lisa, I have failed.’”

“I…like to think I’m a nice person, honestly. I’m not that vindictive, and I generally just want the best for everyone. Still, you, uh, did a really fucking bad thing back there, targeting Maman like that. So I naturally informed the GWU, and the rest is history.”

“You hear that? You didn’t lose by chance, or by cheating. You lost because you pissed me off.” Leah sighed, looking away. “I guess this is the point where I finish you off for good. Sorry if I’m too slow, but I’ve honestly never had to kill anyone before, and frankly I kinda dreaded having to do this. Cause like, deep down, I know, cause I’ve seen alternate yous, I know you can be a good person if you try. I think anyone can, honestly.”

Leah looked back to Lisa. “Sorry for talking so long. Probably just delaying the inevitable because I’m afraid of it. It’s fucked up, really. Like, you killed my friends and now I-”

Lisa charged at Leah, sticking a finger in her throat.

I’ll be having my eyes back now.”

As Leah felt her blood flow into Lisa, she couldn’t help but smile. ELP spoke in her stead, as her throat was currently blocked up. It wasn’t anything fancy, just six simple words.

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer: Act 1

Lisa didn’t scream as her vitality was taken out, only whimpered.

10 years later…

“Thanks for taking care of Miriam while we were out, Kat.”

“It is no problem, mademoiselle, although Madeline and Kiefer were of great help as well.”

Miriam took a while to come out. Her platinum blonde hair was unfortunately covered in glitter, as was the wispy thing that followed her everywhere nowadays (probably her stand, come to think of it). “Aww, but I was playing with uncle Keef and his imaginary friend!”

Leah giggled. “You and your imaginary friends. Come, Deerface and Dustwave miss you.”

At the mention of those two, Miriam was more than happy to tag along. “Yaay! It’s Deerface’s birthday soon. We should celebrate!”

“We should. Maybe later, though, Maman and I are teaching all day tomorrow.”

Miriam stuck her tongue out as they headed for the car. “You and your job. Why do you and Maman always have to work?”

“It’s a tough job, but I love it. Maybe you'll understand someday.”

Miriam frowned. “I don’t think I will.”

“So. It’s been, what, a year since I saw you last. Miriam’s doing fine. I think her stand is coming along rather well. She still thinks it's her imaginary friend, along with El Huervo and ELP.”

“…oh, right. ELP got back to Act 4 the other day. Dunno, I was just reading a book and bam, felt different in a good way. Don’t think I’ll use it much, though. Can’t stand the idea of taking someone else’s stand. It just feels…wrong, you know? Like, that’s a line that I can’t cross.”

“…the old gang’s doing good. Katlyn still doesn’t know if she wants children or not, though she looks happy enough around Miriam that I think she may make that decision soon. Madeline’s doing great, too. I think she’s happier, too, because she doesn’t invoke Tights too often anymore. Or maybe that makes her sadder, cause she doesn’t feel like herself when using it. I dunno with these things, I got into history, not sociology. Anyways, Kiefer…oh, fun story about Keef. We went bowling the other day, and I swear I saw him accidently summon Sun Araw. Damn, that thing is powerful yet heavy. Anyways, yeah, they’re doing great.”

“…Ellie? Amazing as usual. I swear, tell me twelve years ago I’d fall in love with a reanimated corpse and I’d look at you funny.”

“…me?…honestly, I’m not even sure anymore. Like, I knew that day would come, sure, but…without you here, sometimes I don’t know what to do. I know I’ve told you this, like, a million times before, but…I, like, thought you were just an awesome grandma for the longest time, but like…you were my rock, you and Maman. Of course, she helps a lot, too, when she can, but…like, I never knew how much I needed you until suddenly, you weren’t there.”

“…sometimes I wish we never went on the trip, just waited for Lisa to come to us. You, Tyler, Maria…I don't know. Maybe we’d have died. Maybe you’d all still be alive. I just…those moments with you, and Maria, and Tyler…up until that day, that was the best moment of my life. Finally, I was kicking ass, living up to the family name and all that, then…I don’t know. I kinda don’t want to talk about it anymore, to be honest.”

“…here’s another stone. I’ll be back in a year at the latest. Wish you were here.”

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