"Happy birthday!"

A small group of people huddled around a kitchen table as a fresh-faced young boy blew out seven candles on his birthday cake. The kitchen itself was part of an expensive high-rise suite on the top of a skyscraper in the middle of New York, and was thus stocked to the brim with cutting-edge appliances and rare ingredients.

The boy blew out all seven of his candles, prompting a cheer from his family. He looked up at his mother, beaming, and said "S-sannku youu, eburiwaan!" in a thick Japanese accent. He was half-Japanese by way of his father, a famous musician; he seemed slightly out of place with the rest of his family, variously British, American and Italian, but they hadn't shown him anything but love since he and his mother had arrived in New York a few days ago.

"So what did you wish for, Jotaro?" his mother, Holly, asked in Japanese. His English was obviously not very good, but by contrast, her Japanese was quite good; she'd been living there for about ten years now.

"I wished for a dolphin!" Jotaro said proudly. "And a bigger aquarium for him! We can put my goldfish into it too!"

Holly smiled and patted Jotaro on the head. "Well, we'll definitely need a bigger aquarium if we get a dolphin." He'd always loved fish and other sea life, but he'd been quite obsessed with an animated adaptation of The Little Mermaid lately, no doubt influencing his wish.

She turned to the rest of her family: Joseph Joestar, her father, spry and fit as a man half his age; Suzie Joestar (nee Quattro), her mother, who in contrast wore her age with a sense of dignity and grace; and her grandmother, Elizabeth Hitchcock (nee Joestar, though her close friends called her 'Lisa Lisa'), who as a Ripple master looked no older than Holly herself.

"He wished for a dolphin!" Holly repeated in English.

Joseph got up and ruffled his grandson's hair with his left hand. "That's my boy!" he bellowed. "Dolphins might seem harmless, but they're vicious killers! They're masters of deception, and that suits a Joestar man just right!"

Holly frowned. "Papa, what are you talking about? Jotaro's a gentle boy! He doesn't have a bad bone in him!"

"He's just kidding, dear," Suzie said. "Dolphins are harmless, right Joseph?"

"I read about it once!" Joseph protested. "They act all cute and friendly to disarm unwary travelers, but they're actually using their songs to lure people to their deaths on sharp rocks!"

Everyone else present shook their heads, including Jotaro, who didn't understand the language but still realized Joseph's critical failure. Joseph shrugged and said "No, it's really true!", prompting another round of laughter.

The elder Joestars' faithful butler, Rosas, appeared with a cake server, forks and plates. "Shall I cut and serve the cake, master Joseph?"

"Yeah, I'm hungry!" Joseph said.

"Papa! Jotaro will get the first slice," Holly said. "Oh, and thank you, Rosas."

"Of course, lady Holly." Rosas cut the cake into six pieces, handed one to Jotaro, and said "Happy birthday to you, young Master Jotaro," in perfect Japanese.

"Thank you," Jotaro said, giving a quick bow to Rosas, then snatched a fork from his hand and dug into the cake.

"I didn't know you knew Japanese," Suzie remarked as he passed out the slices of cake.

"I have a great many talents, my lady," Rosas said.

"Hey, I know Japanese too!" Joseph said. "Uh… gomen nas-eye. Jotaro-chan!"

Holly giggled. "Oh Papa, you're such a silly man."

The celebrations continued throughout the day as the extended Joestar family indulged in pizza and sweets, played games and watched old Disney movies on fancy new "Betamax" cassettes that Joseph had bought overseas. But the day couldn't last forever, and the festivities ended once the sun set and night fell.

"He is a strong child," Lisa Lisa remarked as Holly and Joestar went to bed. Rosas had pulled out a bottle of vintage red wine, and her, Suzie and Joseph were drinking it in the kitchen.

"Yeah, he's a Joestar all right," Joseph said. "Course, I can't say much for his good-for-nothing father-"

Suzie gave Joseph a stern look, and he immediately shut up.

"I was glad it worked out for me to see my great-grandson," Lisa Lisa said, "but there was another reason you called me here, right, Joseph?"

"Yeah." The star-shaped birthmark on the back of his neck started to tingle, and Joseph reflexively rubbed it with his artificial left hand, lost in the fight against the Pillar Men forty years ago. "Suzie dear, it's getting late. Why don't you go to bed?"

"Nonsense!" Suzie said. "If this is about Ripple or the Pillar Men, then I want to hear as well!"

Joseph always forgot that she had worked for Lisa Lisa for several years, and was thus clued in about their battle against the undead. "Of course. Now then, Lisa Lisa-" he rarely called her 'mother' "-what can you tell me about this?"

He held out his right arm. Before his eyes, several thorned purple vines sprouted from his arms, each with a separate flash of light, and wrapped around the base of the kitchen table. He lifted his arm, and the table with it, despite clearly not touching it.

"Joseph!" Suzie shouted as their wine glasses fell over. Lisa Lisa pressed her hands on the table cloth, took a deep breath, and channeled Ripple through the tablecloth and into the glasses' bases, firmly affixing them to the table top.

Lisa Lisa got up as Joseph set the table back down, and she walked around, looking for the strings. "Is this just another one of your sleight-of-hand tricks?"

"So you don't see them either?" Joseph said. "Suzie and Rosas can't either, but I thought a Ripple master might see a little bit more…"

"What am I supposed to be seeing?" Lisa Lisa asked.

"Huh? Well, they're purple and sorta vine-like, and they come out of my arm whenever I want them to. I can wrap them around stuff and push and pull them without making contact, but using them is quite exhausting."

"Hmm…" Lisa Lisa pondered for a few moments. "Perhaps they're a psychic power of some sort?"

"What, like mind-reading or ESP or something?" Suzie said.

"No, those are charlatan's tricks," Lisa Lisa said. "But I've heard stories from reliable people about a psychic power that manifests as a living entity of sorts. The form it takes differs between individuals, and they often have bizarre powers."

"Reliable people, huh? Well, I guess if Ripple and vampires exist, I guess psychic powers aren't too far out of the realm of possibility," Joseph said. "But why would I gain something like that now?"

"The obvious question is, did you do anything that may have triggered those powers?" Lisa Lisa asked.

"Not that I can recall. As far as I know, they just appeared one day. I was trying to grab a book from the top shelf, and all of sudden, these vines popped out of my arm and grabbed them! It scared me so much that I panicked and broke the entire bookshelf!"

"It's possible that they always existed within you, and you just unknowingly called them up that day," Lisa Lisa said. "But the fact that your birthmark is tingling suggests to me that there's an outside source responsible."

"Huh? How did you know that?" Joseph asked.

"Holly has a birthmark like that," Suzie said, "but she hasn't complained about any pain or anything."

"Holly doesn't seem the type to bother anyone for just a bit of pain on her neck," Lisa Lisa said. "More importantly, your father, Jorge, and his father, Jonathan, both had a birthmark like that as well. If that part of your body is tingling, and nothing else, then it suggests that something important to the Joestar bloodline has occurred, or perhaps will occur."

"But how did you know my birthmark hurt?" Joseph asked.

"You were rubbing it," Lisa Lisa said plainly. "In any case… Joseph, what do you know about your grandfather?"

"Granny spoke very highly of him. He was kind, compassionate, determined and always very driven." Joseph paused. "She also told me that he gave his life to save her from a vampire."

"That's correct. That vampire's name was Dio Brando," Lisa Lisa said, "and he was supposedly killed on that ship with Jonathan. But…"

"He couldn't still be alive!?" Suzie said.

"Vampires are resilient creatures. As I heard it, Dio was reduced to only his head when he killed Jonathan. He may have been able to survive by taking Jonathan's body-"

Suzie gagged, then ran for the bathroom.

"That's revolting, but I suppose we can't expect a vampire to give the dead their due," Joseph said. "And if he developed this psychic power in Jonathan's body, it may be propagating down the bloodline?"

"That is one theory," Lisa Lisa said. "In any case, I would suggest doing more research on psychic powers and the like."

"I've already asked the Speedwagon Foundation to look into it for me." Joseph rubbed his temples and groaned. "I'm too old to be doing this stuff again. I figured we ended it all when we took out the Pillar Men…"

"'Evil is a constant and evolving threat. We must be ever vigilant against those who would destroy humanity.'" Lisa Lisa looked out through the kitchen window. "Straizo used to tell me that all the time. Things have changed since then..."

"We've both gotten old," Joseph said. "We're not as strong or tough as we used to be."

"Indeed. But I've kept in touch with a number of Ripple users throughout the world. I will contact them and let them know-"

Lisa Lisa was cut off by a loud crack and glass shattering. Blood sprayed from the back of her head, and she slumped over and fell on the floor. There was a bullet hole right between her eyes.

Joseph cried out in shock, but his survival instinct made him duck underneath the table just before the second shot came through the broken kitchen window.

"Mother…" Joseph reached out to Lisa Lisa's dead body, tears blurring his vision, and closed her eyelids. Her face was frozen in shock from her unexpected cause of death; of all the things that might want to kill her, who would've expected a sniper?

Joseph crawled out from underneath the table, making sure to stay out of sight of the window, and ran towards the bathroom. Another shot rang out as he opened the bathroom door; Suzie was ducking beside the toilet and crying her eyes out, but she was otherwise okay.

She barely choked out "Joseph!" before jumping up and throwing herself into his arms. "I-I heard gunshots-"

"We're not safe here," Joseph said. His old fighting instincts, having lain dormant for over 40 years, were quickly resurfacing; though he was freaking out inside, he was able to recompose himself enough to start making escape plans. "We need to get Holly and Jotaro and get out of here."

Suzie nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. They left the bathroom together, and headed towards the bedrooms on the other side of their suite. Joseph instructed her to keep close to the walls, so that they would be less visible to the unseen sniper outside. Another shot rang out, hitting the refrigerator and scattering bits of metal and paint everywhere; Suzie screamed and fell to her knees, but Joseph helped her back up and they made it to the guest bedrooms without incident.

"Papa, what's going on?" Holly asked as she slipped a robe over her nightgown. "Were those gunshots?"

"Yeah," Joseph said. "Grab Jotaro and let's get out of here."

Holly's eyes went wide, but to her credit, she kept her composure. She picked up the sleeping Jotaro, cradling him close to her chest like a newborn, and joined her parents as they carefully made their way to the suite's exit.

Jotato stirred. "Mama, what's happening?" he asked, still groggy.

"It's okay," she whispered. "Everything will be all right."

The front door was locked, and Joseph didn't have the key, so he smashed the knob off with his artificial hand and ripped it open. They ran into the hallways of their just as a fifth shot hit the coatrack near the door.

"Master!" Rosas ran toward them, wearing a stained old nightshirt and holding a modern-looking pistol in his hands. "I heard the shots! Is everyone okay?"

"We need to get out of here," Joseph said. "But I have a hunch that these aren't just normal hired guns, so we'll need somewhere we can wait until dawn."

"Are they…vampires?" Holly asked. "Er, sorry, but I overheard you and Grandma talking…"

"Yeah, they might be," Joseph said. "Or they're regular people hired by vampires. Either way, they're smart enough to pick off Ripple users from a distance."

"Let's go to the police station!" Suzie said. "They'll be able to help us, right?"

"If these truly are vampires, then regular guns will be ineffective," Rosas said, giving a quick mournful look at his own gun. "Perhaps we should head to the basement? There's only one way in and out, and no windows."

"That works," Joseph said. The group headed over to the elevator and mashed the down button. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the door opened, revealing a man with an assault rifle.

Everyone ducked out of the way as the man opened fire, scattering large bits of drywall everywhere as his rifle chewed up the wall behind. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Joseph fell through the air, letting him examine the gunman's features: he was pale and discoloured, his eyes were glowing red, and he had two prominent canine teeth. His high-pitched, sadistic laugh was drowned out by the rifle's roar, but his clip ran out of ammo just in time for Joseph to hit the ground.

He fell right on his shoulder, and felt something shift uncomfortably as he rolled with the impact. Summoning up another skill he hadn't used in a long time, he took a deep breath, filling his body with the sun-like energy of the Ripple. The energy flowing through his body enhanced his already considerable energy rush; he redirected a bit of it into his shoulder, dulling the pain completely.

The vampire cursed in an unknown tongue and threw his gun to the side. His eyes turned to Holly, and he licked his lips as he walked over toward her, reaching out with one of his hands.

Joseph bellowed in inarticulate rage. Vines sprouted from his right hand and wrapped around the vampire's neck and torso, binding his arms; he struggled against the invisible force restraining him, but even his enhanced strength couldn't break them. Thinking quickly, Joseph channeled some of his Ripple through his vines and into the vampire's body.

The vampire shrieked as the vines cut right through his body, splitting him into 3 parts, severing his arms below the elbow and decapitating him. Joseph got up and looked at the vampire's head; its eyes were wide and pleading, and it spoke softly in the same unknown language. He knew what it was saying, but he had no mercy at the moment.

Joseph channeled Ripple into his foot and stomped on the vampire's head, splattering its brains on the carpet.

"Is everyone okay?" he asked, but he quickly realized that not all was well; Suzie was kneeling beside Rosas, weeping loudly. A scarlet stain spread out from a hole in his nightshirt, right above his heart. He was sweating profusely and gasping for air.

Rosas tried to speak, but no words escaped his lips. Instead, he raised his shaking hand and pointed to the open elevator door, and his meaning was clear. Joseph grabbed Rosas' gun and stuck it in the back of his pants, and he, Suzie, Holly and Jotaro piled into the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor.

"We- we need to call an ambulance," Suzie choked out. "F-for Rosas, once we get downstairs."

Joseph shook his head, not wanting to say that he wouldn't hang on that long. There might be other casualties, but with vampires about, calling in more help would only add more to their ranks. Still, he'd been able to take out a vampire with his Ripple despite his age and lack of practice, so maybe he'd be able to deal with them quickly enough to get help.

They reached the ground floor, and waiting for them was two more vampires also equipped with assault rifles. Joseph reacted immediately by lashing out with his Ripple-enhanced vines, decapitating them in a single motion, but not fast enough to stop them from firing. Joseph felt something pierce his kidney, and he heard Holly cry out and fall to the ground, but he destroyed the vampires' heads first.

Once that was done, he looked back to see Holly clutching her leg and whimpering in pain; she'd been hit right above the knee. He walked over to her and placed his hands on her leg, channeling Ripple into her and stopping the bleeding.

"P-papa…" Holly muttered.

The bleeding would start again if she tried to walk, so Joseph reached around his daughter and picked her up, cradling her close to his chest just as she had to her own son. Jotaro stood to the side of the elevator, weeping silently but trying his best to remain composed and resolute.

"Jotaro," Joseph said, looking his grandson right in the eye. "I want you to stay next to me no matter what, okay?"

Jotaro nodded grimly, understanding his grandfather perfectly despite the language barrier.

"Oh, Joseph…" Suzie said.

"We're almost there. We'll be safe once we make it to the basement," Joseph said. Unfortunately, the elevator didn't go down that far, so they headed toward a door and down a stairwell into the basement.

Once in the basement, Suzie flipped on the lights, revealing a large room with all sorts of junk scattered around haphazardly. Fortunately, there was a wheelchair right near the door, so Joseph set Holly down in it.

"Papa, you're hurt!" Holly said, looking at the wound in his abdomen. She reached for her robe and tore a strip off of it, but Joseph pushed her hand away.

"Don't worry, it's just a scratch," he said. "Put that cloth on your leg in case it starts bleeding again,"

"But-"

"Holly!" Joseph said, in the tone of a father scolding his child. "I'll be fine! Worry about yourself and your son!"

"Joseph! That is no way to speak to your daughter!" Suzie said.

Joseph almost yelled back at her, but he took a moment to recompose himself. "I'm sorry, Holly."

"No, Papa, it's okay." Holly pressed the strip of cloth to the bullet wound on her leg, while holding Jotaro close to her chest with her other arm.

Joseph took the gun from his pants and handed it to Suzie. "If any vampires show up, aim for their brains, okay?"

Suzie's hands shook as she took the gun. "Joseph…"

"I'm going to use the phone at the front desk to call 911. I'll be right back, okay?" He kissed Suzie on the cheek, wiped the tears from her eyes, and headed back upstairs.

The wound on his side oozed out blood and pus as he walked up the stairwell. He had to continually apply Ripple to it to keep the wound closed, as it kept opening up as he went up each stair. Damn it, he was too old for this… but at the same time, he couldn't let anyone else die tonight. And he had no plans on dying, either.

In the lobby, he saw three more vampires with assault rifles standing near the entrance. They didn't notice him right away, but he was too far away to hit them with his vines, and they'd hear him if he tried to sneak up. So he did what he did best and smashed the nearby vending machine with his artificial hand, sending dozens of cans of cola rolling across the floor.

Of course, the vampires heard that, and they turned around and immediately opened fire. Joseph grabbed a handful of cans and rolled behind the administrative desk, taking cover behind it; it was made of thick wood, and (with a Ripple power-up) strong enough to stop even the high-caliber bullets from their rifles.

Joseph grabbed one of the cola cans, charged it up with Ripple, and used his vines to lob it in the general direction of the vampires. The impromptu grenade exploded in midair, spraying the vampires with Ripple-charged cola and eliciting bloodcurdling shrieks of pain. Joseph did the same to the other three cans, and threw them all at once; the vampires continued screaming, but not for long as their bodies turned to ash.

"Very good, Joseph Joestar."

Joseph got up from behind the desk to see what appeared to be a person covered entirely in dark gray stone. Still, based on his profile, he was extremely muscular and wearing little more than a g-string. The only part of his body uncovered was his hair of indeterminate colour, appearing to be orange, yellow or red, depending on where the light hit it.

The voice of the man seemed familiar to him, though he couldn't for the life of him place it. "You're working for Dio, aren't you?" Joseph asked.

"Dio?" the man said thoughtfully. "Dio, Dio. No, I know no Dio. But I did meet a vampire a few years ago who had a grudge against the Joestars as well… he provided me with the energy I needed to come here."

And then it hit Joseph just who this man was.

"I suffered quite a defeat to you, Joseph Joestar," the man said. He walked towards Joseph, his stone armour bending seamlessly along with the rest of his body. "Even after I escaped my prison, I trained for many years to overcome your Ripple powers. I was never as skilled with my abilities as Lord Kars or the rest, but my solution is quite ingenious, don't you think?"

"Kars is dead," Joseph said. "Esidisi and Wamuu too. I killed them all."

"And you tried to kill me too," Santana, the last of the Pillar Men, said. "But you made the mistake of leaving me in the hands of mortals who thought me useless under their simulated sunlight. All I had to do was wait for a power failure to make my escape… and though I was diminished, the cattle of the Speedwagon Foundation restored my body just fine."

"Impossible! That UV chamber had a separate power source!" Joseph said.

"Then perhaps one of them let me out? Cattle have always been obsessed with the secret of immortality… perhaps one of them released me to learn my secrets, thinking foolishly that he could control me. I care little for the reason behind it."

Joseph slammed his hand on the desk. "Damn it! I should've finished you off myself!"

"But you did not, and now you will pay the price." Santana's rocky visage twisted into a grin. "But I am not unfair. Go ahead, Joseph Joestar. Try your weak little Ripple against me."

Joseph slowly walked over to Santana, generating more Ripple on the way. Once he stood in front of the rocky Pillar Man, he reached back with his left arm in an exaggerated punch motion… then fired his vines at a nearby cola can, retracted the vines, charged the can with Ripple, and smashed it against Santana's chest.

Santana regarded the whole incident with a cool indifference, but didn't even flinch when the Ripple-charged cola struck his stone armour. Joseph wasn't done yet, as he fired his vines right at the huge wet spot on Santana's chest, hoping to pierce his armour… but two flat, ghostly hands appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Joseph's vines. Two more hands grabbed Joseph around the midsection and threw him upwards, but he retracted his vines and re-fired them at a ceiling fan, grabbing onto it and pulling himself away.

"So you have a Stand too?" Santana remarked, still rather nonplussed about everything. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I've spent ten thousand years on this earth, and even I only learned of the power of the Stand a few years ago… but of course, my hated enemy also conveniently acquired one as well."

"What the hell is a Stand?" Joseph asked.

"Those vines of yours are a psychic projection of your consciousness and soul," Santana said. "As is this."

A semitransparent object appeared before Santana. It was spherical and somewhat resembled the moon with inverted colours, but it had an outline of a wolf-like face on its front, with an extra vertical eye between and above its other two eyes, and four arm-like appendages made of some type of paper or cloth trailed behind.

"I've been told this Stand is called Bark at the Moon," Santana said. "It has the ability to drive others mad with its gaze. Shall we see how long you can hold out?"

Joseph closed his eyes and turned his head away from Santana's Stand, but even still, he could feel the intensity of its eyes upon him. Anger and fear bubbled up within him, and he wanted nothing more than to kill Santana, to rip him limb from limb, to feast on his corpse…

He dismissed his vines and dropped to the ground, landing in a primal stance on all fours, foaming at the mouth. He growled in an inhuman way and launched himself at Santana, scratching uselessly at his stone armour until his fingers bled.

"Even the mighty Joseph Joestar crumbles before my Stand," Santana said, laughing. "Now go, my pet, and exterminate your family. If you do, I may just let you live."

Joseph grunted and skittered toward the stairwell door. He climbed down the stairs head-first, jumped the last few steps and landed on the basement floor, and immediately stood up and wiped the spit from the corners of his mouth.

It was fairly easy to put up a show to convince Santana, though he'd paid the price; his right hand was bleeding and pretty much useless, though his left was still fine. He'd need to figure something out to get around that armour…

He searched around the basement, but he found no trace of Suzie, Holly or Jotaro. He called out to them, but they didn't answer; and the basement was quite small, and without obvious hiding places. He kept searching, until finally, he found the secret: an open manhole cover leading into the sewers below.

Joseph turned around to see Santana, pointing a gun right at his forehead.

"You didn't think I'd really be fooled by that, did you?" Santana said wryly. He pulled the trigger, and before he could react, Joseph was dead.

Down in the sewers, Jotaro was pushing Holly's wheelchair, with Suzie trailing behind, and they were all moving as fast as they could away from the entrance. They'd simply dropped the wheelchair down the manhole, and both Jotaro and Suzie had helped Holly climb down the ladder, though she'd reopened the wound in her leg while doing so.

Oddly enough, though these particular sewers still smelt quite funky, there were no traces of waste within them. They also looked rather strange, almost as if someone had created a perfectly cylindrical tunnel in the bedrock by magic or something, as the walls and floor were perfectly smooth.

The gunshot echoed throughout the tunnels, and Suzie dropped to her knees.

"Oh, my Joseph…" she whimpered. "My Joseph, I know in my heart that he's dead…"

"Mama, we need to keep moving!" Holly said. But she felt the same thing; the birthmark on her neck told her, too, that her father had just passed. Still, they needed to keep going on.

"No…" Suzie said. "I'll just wait here and hold the vampires off… you and Jotaro need to save yourselves."

"Mama!" Holly shouted. "If you just lie there in defeat, then Papa's sacrifice will have been for nothing! He died to save us!"

Suzie looked at Holly, shocked, but realized what she'd said was true. She walked toward her daughter and grandson, but a hand reached out of the darkness and snatched her away. Gunshots rang out in the darkness, followed by a short, high scream, then... nothing.

Jotaro and Holly kept moving, but the hand, attached to an enormous stone figure, jumped in front of them.

"Keep running, Jotaro, no matter what," Holly said under her breath.

"But Mama-"

"You need to stay alive at all costs, okay? I'll be fine." She gave her son one last smile. "Be strong, Jotaro."

Jotaro's lip trembled, but he obeyed his mother's order and kept running. The stone man reached down to grab him, but Holly propelled herself from the wheelchair and knocked the man over. Her adrenaline-fueled strength let her crack the man's stone armour with her fist, and even though she broke every bone in her hand and arm, she did it again with her other arm, shattering the armour and impaling sharp chunks of stone in the man's face.

"You're strong for a mortal," Santana said. The armour around his chest peeled away, revealing his bare scales, brownish and almost rubbery. Tendrils of flesh shot out and grabbed Holly's legs, digesting her and completely pulling her into his body in the span of a few seconds.

Jotaro kept running. But as he ran, he noticed that the tunnel was changing; the smooth bedrock had gained a tile pattern, and large pipes, each with a different colour or pattern, stuck out of the walls at odd angles. As he heard the heavy steps of Santana behind him, he decided to take a chance and dived into one of the pipes, a red one with white stripes along the lip. The pipe retracted back into the ground before Santana could enter it.

"Uhh…"

Jotaro woke up some time later. He was lying on a dirt path of some kind, but he had no idea how long he was out – or for that matter, where he was. He looked up to see a massive tiered city before him, with a giant white tower rising high into the sky. For that matter, the sky was various shades of gold, with randomly-moving groups of diamond patterns taking the place of clouds.

A blue square was floating in front of him. He reached out to grab it, but it retracted when he reached for it, and returned when he pulled away. His arm fell to his side, and the square followed – and when he looked down, he realized he had no actual arm.

Sure enough, his body was now made entirely of disconnected blue squares, with no arms, legs or neck to connect them. He looked in a puddle of water; staring back at him was a blue face, lacking a snout or nose, and most importantly lacking scales.

"Oh ho? What is a young one doing on the outskirts?"

Another blocky man in a blue cloak, his face hidden in shadow save for his glowing yellow eyes, and with an extremely long white beard, came walking toward him. Jotaro panicked and ran away, but the path abruptly ended and dropped off into the infinite golden void below.

"Please, I mean you no harm," the cloaked figure said. "Are you a lost dimensional traveler?"

Rather than respond, Jotaro simply fell to his knees and started bawling. Though still young, the impact of what had happened on his birthday was crystal-clear to him. He'd lost his family, his home, and now, he himself was lost in a faraway world in an unfamiliar form.

The figure approached him and draped a part of his cloak over the boy's body. "It's okay, son, you're safe here. My name is Merlon. Come now, we'll get you some of Saffron's food…"

The cloaked figure named Merlon led the distraught young Jotaro into the city of Flipside, which would be his home for most of his youth. Once he came of age, he went out into the wider universe, swearing vengeance against the vampires who took his family and home away…