A Man Cursed by Fate
A fog covered the night sky of Cairo. Plenty of people walked the crowded streets of the city, yet no one seemed to notice the odd weather. No one, save a large Englishman dressed in yellow, who couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched.
He had felt a similar sensation just two days prior, but he was certain then that no one was there. Surely, this was the case here as well. He ignored the feeling and continued on.
He walked into a bar, and every eye looked in his direction. Some tried to hide their gazes, while others were completely lost in their stares. But without a doubt, everyone was looking at him. His clothing was flamboyant, his skin fair and covered in muscles. But above all else, the man possessed a near magnetic atmosphere about him. It drew humans to him like moths to a flame.
"Wine," the man spoke softly, yet somehow, with more weight to his words than of an emperor declaring war. The young bartender put away the drink he had been mixing and searched for his finest bottle of red wine. The bartender hadn't known that the man preferred red to white, but somehow, he could sense that this was most certainly the case.
The man scanned the bar, taking in each of the patrons, particularly the women. Many were adequate, but none excited him. He had eaten well the night before, having run into a group of prostitutes he had brought back home to his manor, so he was in no desperate need for a meal. He decided to keep to himself and drink in solidarity.
"Dio…Brando?" a raspy voice spoke to him from behind. He put his drink down calmly, but his mind was racing. No one from this century should have known his full name. He slowly turned his head back to look at the speaker.
The voice belonged to an old woman with large poofy hair. She was remarkably short, and carried a cane that stood taller than she did. The moment she saw his face she let out a large, toothless grin. Behind her stood a muscular man that seemed to be with her. He was dressed just like a cowboy.
"I no longer go by the name Dio," the Englishman responded, "I have instead taken the new name of DIO." The woman nodded her head, not quite sure what the difference was. "More importantly, how do you know that name?"
"I know because you are being hunted…by the Joestars."
A chill ran through DIO's body from the neck down. Another name that he had not heard in a very long time. DIO said nothing and looked to the seats next to him. The two sat down and the woman continued.
"I was pursuing an organization, the Speedwagon Foundation, when I came across your name two days ago. Upon a request by the Joestars, the Foundation is using every resource at their disposal to find and destroy you. Right now, all they know is that you're somewhere in Cairo, but it is only a matter of time before they find you."
DIO shook his head. "I will admit; the Joestars are capable. But I, DIO, stand above all men. Anyone this organization sends to face me will be eliminated."
The cowboy shook his head. "I told ya this was a waste of time, Enya." The woman whacked the cowboy with her cane.
"Quiet, Hol Horse." She turned her attention back to DIO. "These are no ordinary humans, master DIO. Tell me, are you aware of Stands?"
DIO raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Enya closed her eyes and waved her hands in front of her. Nothing appeared to happen, but then DIO noticed the floor. Slowly, it was enveloped by a thin layer of fog. Fog identical to that covering the sky.
Hol Horse let out a snort and Enya stabbed him in the stomach with her cane. "No. This is a Stand. The manifestation of my spiritual energy. And, the fact that you can see this means that you too, possess a Stand."
DIO stared at Enya. "I see…so then this…" a humanoid figure materialized behind DIO, "is my Stand?"
Enya let loose another grin. "Yes! Oh yes, what a marvelous Stand!" She dug through her belongings and pulled out a deck of tarot cards, presenting them facedown to DIO. "Please, pick one of these cards. Fate will determine the true name of your Stand."
DIO looked down at the cards. He slapped Enya's hands from below, sending the cards flying into the air.
"I do not listen to fate," he spoke, eyeing the faces of the cards as they fluttered through the air. His Stand shot forward, plucking out the card of DIO's liking and showing it to Enya. "Fate, listens to me."
She stared, awestruck. "Yes…[The World]…I can think of no better name for such a Stand."
"Now that I understand what this being is, I want you to explain something to me," DIO said, "why, after all my years in that accursed coffin, did this…Stand…only appear within the last year? Why now?"
"The most common way to obtain a Stand is by being born with the capacity to use one," Enya explained, "but there is another way." Enya snapped her fingers. Hol Horse begrudgingly searched through his bag and handed DIO a golden arrow. He examined the object closely. "This is an ancient artifact," Enya continued, "if it pierces someone with weak spiritual power, it kills them instantly. However, if it pierces someone with a strong will, it grants them, and all their descendants, a Stand. This is how it usually works, but something different happened three years ago.
"Jotaro Kujo, the youngest of the Joestar line, pierced himself with the arrow, giving himself a Stand. But afterwards, his grandfather, Joseph Joestar, also obtained one. And just days ago, so too did his mother. It appears that, because the Joestar bloodline is so interconnected, the arrow affects not only the descendants of the one it pierces, but their ancestors as well. Including you, DIO. But, while you were strong enough to maintain your Stand, Jotaro's mother was not. Her life is currently in danger of being devoured by her Stand. Joseph deduced that the only way to save his daughter was to destroy you, once and for all."
DIO stared into his drink, wishing that he could see his own reflection in it. He had known for years that the Joestar line had not died out. But, after thinking for a very long time on the manner, DIO had decided to terminate his plans for world domination, electing instead to live a quiet life. He had realized that it wasn't Jonathan that had stopped him all those years ago, it was fate. Inevitably, if he were to try anything, the Joestars would appear before him. And, as much as he hated to admit it, they would most likely defeat him. He had tried his best to cut off all ties with the Joestars, but it seemed that his bonds with that family were too deep for him to sever. He looked back to Enya.
"…and why are you telling me all this?"
Enya's face drooped and her head tilted to the floor.
"…one of Jotaro's closest allies…murdered my son. His name was J. Geil, and he was the sweetest boy a mother could ask for. He was beautiful, but no one else could see that. They called him a monster because of his twisted appearance," she raised both her arms, "as well as for his twisted hand. The other children would beat him. Every day he'd come back home, crying with cuts and bruises covering his body. But he never fought back, even though he was stronger than all of them. He just curled up in a ball and waited for them to go away.
"Then, on a cold rainy day, the two of us came across some tourist girls from France. The girls laughed at my son, and when I started to yell at them, they pushed me. I hadn't been expecting it, and I ended up tumbling down a nearby hill, hitting my head against a rock and losing consciousness. When I came to, I found my son weeping over me, his hands drenched in blood. I hugged him, assuring him that everything would be ok, and sent him far away."
"She paired him up with me," Hol Horse commented, pointing to himself, "I was in need of a partner at the time, and you have no idea how hard it is to find a good Stand user these days. The two of us worked real well together. But then we ended up gettin cornered by a Stand user, the brother of the girl Geil killed. We tried to fight him, but the guy overpowered us. It took all I had just to get out of that mess alive," he tipped his hat down, "my partner wasn't so lucky. Enya tried charging the guy with murder, but no dice. The Speedwagon Foundation had covered it all up. So here we are now, out for revenge."
DIO looked deep into Hol Horse's eyes.
"No. You lie."
"W-what?" Hol Horse stammered, "everything I said was the absolute truth!"
"No, your story is true," DIO clarified, "your motivation is false. Your eyes are not motivated by anger, but by fear. You fear that this man you fought will come back for you, that you must face him alone. You're traveling with this woman because she makes you feel safe, because she's another pawn you can sacrifice if the situation gets out of hand. Just as I'm sure you sacrificed your partner when you realized that there was no way the two of you would get out of that fight alive."
"You…bastard!" Enya got up from her seat and beat Hol Horse with her cane, far harder than she had hit him before. DIO grabbed at her cane before she dealt a strong blow to his head.
"Calm yourself," he requested to Enya, "I do not know what happened the day your son died. I merely stated a conjecture. All I know for certain is that this man is a coward. But I do not blame you for this," he spoke to Hol Horse, "cowardice is its own form of strength, especially for humans. But regardless of your reasons, I have no interest in joining you." DIO rose from his seat and walked out of the bar. "I do not care whether my opponents wield swords, Hamon, or even a Stand. I, DIO, will defeat them myself."
DIO walked through the streets of Cairo. His mind drifted back to Enya's warning to him, but he brushed it off. He knew that he could handle himself. He was DIO, after all. Then, DIO stopped in his tracks. In front of him stood a bizarre creature.
It was small, about the size of Enya, with a muscular body. It wielded a small white scimitar in each of its hands, but the truly strange part was its head. It was an oversized dog head, taking up as much space as the rest of the creature's body. It smiled at DIO, showing off its razor sharp teeth. None of the passerby's payed any heed to the chimera, as if it weren't even there.
"This must be the work of a Stand," DIO thought to himself, "most likely, an enemy Stand."
"Kukuku…" humanoid laughter came from the creature, though its mouth did not move. "I finally found you, DIO! The name's Rick Carey, and after today, I'm going to be rich, rich, rich! All those other Stand users after your bounty are probably going to wait until morning to try and take you down. Which means if I attack you now, I'll have all that reward all for myself! Kukuku-" DIO pierced his foot through the creature's stomach.
"You talk too much."
"…kukuku…" The chimera tilted its head up to face DIO. "Against most Stand users, a blow like that would mean death. But, my [Baha Men] have no flaws! Observe."
The face of the Baha Men contorted and swelled like a balloon. DIO twisted his foot out from the creature, but not before it exploded in front of him.
A woman screamed, followed by many more. Apparently, normal humans could see the explosion, if not the cause of it. DIO breathed deeply. His foot had sustained damage, but it was not destroyed. He could not afford to lose a limb at this stage in the fight, especially with his regenerative abilities as weak as they were. Still, he couldn't help but wonder how he had escaped the explosion from so close. It was strange, but when he backed away it had felt, if only for a moment, as if the world was frozen around him.
"What do you know!" Rick's voice came from afar, "You survived. Good job! Kukuku."
DIO turned his head to the voice. Another one of the creatures stood atop a building, alongside four others. He looked behind him. Six more stood on the opposite side of the street. DIO gritted his teeth.
"Fine. I'll destroy all of your minions. Then I'll crush your head into the ground."
"Oh my, I'm so scared, kukuku," Rick spoke through his monsters, "It's a good thing I can still summon five hundred more of them! Now, kill him."
The creatures dashed at DIO, yelping and barking like the animals that they were. DIO stayed put, waiting. The first Baha Men leapt at him, its canine mouth opened wide and aimed at DIO's neck. DIO struck its stomach with the palm of his hand. He had intended to strike the creature back, but his hand pierced through the Baha Men's body as if it were made of paper. The creature grinned at him and swelled. DIO slid his other hand across his arm, pushing the creature off him. Before he could bring his arm back, the Baha Men exploded, taking DIO's left hand with it.
Three more leapt at DIO from behind. He couldn't react to them fast enough. The World materialized behind him. It pummeled the three of them in quick succession; stopping their charge but triggering their swelling. DIO understood that any damage his Stand took would be reflected on himself. He also understood that there wasn't enough time to escape their attack. If he had just one more second, DIO could shake them off and get to safety.
The moment he thought this, the sounds of the Baha Men disappeared and the world turned to grey. The Baha Men were frozen in their contorted forms.
Time had stopped.
DIO realized this fact immediately, as if The World had somehow told him about its power. He also knew that he could not maintain this for long, certainly not more than a single second. The World whipped its arms, peeling the Baha Men off its hands. DIO jumped back, away from the swarm. Time resumed just as he landed, and the Baha Men exploded.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Rick yelled at him, "how do you keep dodging all my explosions? You should be dead by now!"
"I should have been dead a long time ago," DIO responded, "and I'm certainly not going to let trash like you be the one to finish me off."
The Baha Men growled and barked. "…Fine," Rick responded after a pause, "I don't know how you keep avoiding my attacks, but let's see how you handle an attack from all sides!"
No less than twenty Baha Men surrounded DIO, clicking their swords together and howling at him. Based on how long he had stopped time before, and how quick the explosions were, he knew that he couldn't escape an attack of this scale unharmed.
DIO knelt down and slammed The World's foot to the ground, pushing himself high into the air and landing on a nearby rooftop. He dashed away.
"Hey!" Rick shouted at him from behind, "come back here!"
DIO didn't like it, but he had to retreat. His body felt exhausted from stopping time, and he knew that he couldn't hold off against the sheer numbers that his opponent possessed.
The Baha Men chased after him, yipping and hollering all the way. But DIO was faster. Within minutes, he had lost sight of his pursuers. DIO landed on the street below and ran to the nearest shop. He twisted the doorknob, breaking the lock, and made his way inside.
The room erupted with noises of barks, squeaks, and squawks. He had walked into a pet shop, the worst possible place to hide discreetly. But this was the perfect place for DIO.
"Silence," he spoke, raising his voice only slightly. The shop became silent.
DIO toured around the small store, examining the animals in their cages. They were all malnourished. Their blood would be far from optimal, but it would be enough to restore his hand, hopefully before the enemy noticed him. As he walked by, each animal either bowed its head to him or cowered in fear. All except for one.
A falcon near the back of the room, his eyes looking down at DIO from his cage. He had not made any noise upon DIO's arrival, but his iron gaze made it clear that if he had chosen to, he would not have stopped at DIO's request. DIO considered draining this one first, but he decided not to. He was impressed by the falcon's tenacity. He reminded DIO of a pet he had when he was just a boy.
It wasn't truly his pet, just a wild dove. The dove had made quite a name for himself in DIO's town. Anyone walking through market square with food in their hands was doomed to have it stolen away by the creature. DIO had been made the bird's prey once, and from then on DIO took it as a challenge to get past the bird. It took several tries, but eventually, he bested the beast. Afterwards, he left some crumbs of his meal for the dove, to show off his superiority. He got past the bird several more times in a row after that, but then the creature outsmarted him once more. But before he flew off with DIO's meal, he left some crumbs behind for DIO. From then on, the two battled each other dozens of times, neither winning more than twice in a row against the other.
Then, one day, DIO walked through the square without any sign of attack. At first he thought this was meant to drop his guard. But, after minutes of waiting and nothing happening, he knew something was wrong. He ran to the location of the dove's nest. There, he saw a dog, chewing away at the remains of his rival. DIO beat the mutt to death, but his hatred for dogs never did quell. Seeing them now still reminded him of the day that his first, and perhaps only friend, died.
DIO moved onto the dog section of the store. Just as his hand reached one of the dog's necks, he stopped, interrupted by a vile sound from outside.
DIO looked outside the store in shock. Dozens upon dozens of Baha Men stood outside the glass window, creating a symphony of noise with their barks.
"Did you really think you could escape?" Rick asked him, "my Baha Men specialize in sniffing out their prey. I let you get away so that I could trap in you a corner like this. The entire store is set to go boom, and there's nothing you can do about it! Kukuku!"
Baha Men smashed through the windows of the store, sending all the animals in the place back into a riot. DIO summoned The World. He struck at five of his incoming attackers.
With his limited time, DIO pried the attackers off The World and backed up. Time resumed and the Baha Men detonated in front of him.
The explosion tore holes in the walls and ceiling of the store, and Baha Men started to crawl their way into the place from them. All around, more holes opened up and Baha Men poured in from all directions. DIO was surrounded. He only had enough time to use The World's power once more.
Every Baha Men in the store started their explosion and jumped at DIO.
Time froze. DIO couldn't get out of the store in time. He couldn't beat back the enemy. He couldn't do anything for himself. There was only one thing he could do.
Rick watched through the eyes of one of his Stands as the explosion took place. Soon, the curse on the Joestars would be lifted. Soon, he'd have all the money he could wish for.
The dust settled, and the place where the store once stood had all but disappeared. On the ground laid what remained of DIO's body, everything from his waist down torn to shreds. But his head was still intact. He was still alive…for now. One of the Baha Men stepped forward, but stopped as Rick noticed DIO clutching something in his arms. Could it have been some sort of trump card?
DIO shifted his body and brought the cage out from under him. He looked inside and saw a motionless body covered in blood. Despite his best efforts to save it, the falcon had died.
"…ku…kukuku!" Rick laughed hysterically. "This is what the great DIO wasted his last few seconds on? Trying to save some damn bird? What a joke! Kukuku!"
DIO unlocked the door to the cage, not listening to a word that Rick said to him, and held the creature in his hand. He felt a faint pulse from the bird, but he could do nothing about it. He was in too wounded a state to restore its life energy with his blood. He thought back to the dove that had died before him. He wondered if this too, was fate.
Then, a flash of light caught DIO's attention. He looked to his side and saw the golden arrow lying next to him. Had he not returned that to Enya? Had he not noticed that he was carrying it this whole time?
"Well," DIO spoke to the bird, "it seems like you have a chance at life after all. Now, show me the strength of your will."
He picked the arrow up with his hand and pierced the falcon with it. It twisted and contorted its way into the bird's skin, sending the falcon into a hail of screeches.
Rick didn't know what was happening, but he wasn't going to let DIO get away with whatever it was he was planning. Half a dozen Baha Men stormed forward, their swords aimed at DO's head. Just feet away from their target, the Baha Men stopped in place. Each stood frozen, not in time, but in ice.
"W…what?" Rick spoke through his Baha Men. The area around DIO had been completely covered in a layer of ice. Rick tried detonating his frozen men, but they didn't respond. From beneath DIO, the falcon emerged, specks of ice covering his body where his wounds once were. "No…that's impossible!" Rick shouted, "that bird was a Stand user?"
"Just as I figured…" DIO said to the bird, "you possess an abnormal spirit; one that would rival most men. A creature such as yourself deserves a name. I shall call you Pet Shop, and your Stand shall be named Horus, after the Egyptian god of the sky."
Ricked snarled to himself. "…Baha Men, charge!"
More of them leapt forward. A skeletal bird materialized behind Pet Shop, an icicle in each of its six hands. Horus lobbed its ice at the attackers, freezing each of them in place long before they got within range of attacking.
Rick bit at his nails. He was close. Unimaginably close. One more attack and DIO was finished. But now that blasted bird stood in his way. If he could only get it to move…
As if his prayers had been answered, Pet Shop spread its wings and leapt into the air, flying away from the battlefield. Rick stared, dumbfounded, as the only thing standing between him and endless wealth flew away.
"KUKUKU!" Rick cackled hysterically, "I should have known that there was nothing to be afraid of! That damn bird wasn't protecting you out of some sense of loyalty, it was just defending itself! I win!"
"You're correct," DIO spoke, "dogs, like these mutts of yours, are loyal. Birds, are not. A dog, even without the power to do anything, would never abandon his master's side in times of danger like this. Most surely, if Pet Shop were some lowly dog, he would have stayed by my side until the two of us were overpowered by your Stand. No, the bond between a man and a bird is not of loyalty. It is a level of trust far deeper than that! A bond where one can leave the other's side in the most dire of times, without the other losing faith for even a moment."
"Your words are hollow!" Rick shouted at him, "Dress it up however you like, but you've been abandoned! You have nothing. Nothing! Kuku…ku…ku?"
Rick stopped laughing. The temperature around him was dropping, fast. He looked up into the air, his eyes wide. Beneath a huge, accumulating spike of ice, Rick could make out the body of a falcon hovering in the air above him. And Rick could have sworn, as the spear of ice pierced his body, that the bird was smirking at him.
"Well well," Hol Horse chuckled over DIO's body, "weren't you the one who said you could beat anyone by yourself? I reckon even without a Stand I could kick your ass right now." He laughed, stopping when Pet Shop pecked at his face.
"Yes," DIO spoke humbly, "it appears I was mistaken. These Stands are strange and powerful tools. I see now that not even I, DIO, can defeat them with my power alone. I have decided. I will join you on your quest. My only condition is that I use this arrow on two others that I have met on my travels. I believe that they will prove to be powerful allies on our journey."
"Of course, master DIO," Enya responded, "but be aware, if their spirits are weak, they will die."
DIO smirked. "Then there is no need to worry."
DIO stepped from outside his home and put his arm into the light of the sun. His skin did not burn. "It seems your Stand is working, Enya."
He stepped out fully into the light, a thin layer of fog covering his body. He was shielded from the rays, but he could still feel the warmth of the sun that he had avoided for so long. Jonathan's body seemed to react favorably to this.
Yes, even after recovering himself with the blood of countless others, his body still healed back to Jonathan's form. The bond between the two of them was too strong to be severed by anything less than death; and perhaps not even that could tear them apart.
"It's a miracle, lord DIO!" Vanilla Ice looked to him with pride. "Now truly nothing can stop you!"
"Yes," N'doul commented, "this will greatly help with our mobility."
DIO looked over his assorted allies, and to Pet Shop perched on his shoulder. When he had last faced the Joestars, he did so with a collection of pawns. This time, he stood amongst those whom he could trust with his life. He stood amongst comrades. DIO couldn't help but curl his mouth into a smile.
"Come," DIO spoke to the five of them, "I have kept the Joestars waiting long enough. Let's go!"
The warriors walked forward, the sun against their backs.