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Vento Imperiale, Gold and Purple (Fate/JoJo Part 5 Xover - Sequel to Fate/True Bizarre)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Jul 7, 2021.

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  1. Threadmarks: Promising Flower, Part 1
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 1: Promising Flower, Part 1


    Warning: It’s advised by yours truly to first read Fate:True Bizarre to avoid any confusions regarding what is going on with this story since this is the sequel to that story.


    Sakura Kujo didn’t like scammers.


    After spending years growing under the honest lessons from her adoptive parents, the former Matou girl had long attained a moral code that was strict and undeniably unbreakable. And if there was one thing that pissed her the most were those few people that tried to trick naive individuals into trusting them before quickly abusing their hopes for their gains. Koichi’s resolution in stopping the blond-haired dummy that had tried to steal their luggage was admirable as expected, but he failed to deal with the problem at once as the scammer was now running away, potentially going to hurt more people in the process. Sakura would have normally remained calm and admonished the short young man for not doing more instead of just delivering the Stand version of a slap in the wrist, but her interest to catch up with the running thief was also tied to the fact she knew he had something more than just the standard criminal’s appearance. He had something that intrigued her and that urged her to give chase.


    At first she thought he was aware of the pursuit, but she was surprised when the young man eventually stopped to find cover by a nearby open parking lot. The girl slowed down, her eyes narrowing fiercely as she found her own spot to see if this was a trick or not. Hiding behind a tree, the girl gazed and frowned over the blond’s behavior, the young man looking left and right as if trying to find any witnesses or… something else. She could tell from the way he quickly gazed at his watch that he was waiting for someone or something to come at him, but what exactly was behind that wait, the girl had yet to know. It should have been a boring trip until she managed to get to Rome. Caren was definitely waiting for her as they both had interesting plans to make their times together as memorable as previous times. With their fathers having built quite the friendly relationship with one another, it was easy for them to grow close and friendly between each other. Plus, they both could relate to a temporary childhood filled with unpleasantness, with Sakura having to admit that despite the sheer horror of her own time within the Matou Family, Caren’s own illness made for quite the unpleasant circumstance to live with.


    Hence why the plum-haired girl wanted this matter to be solved at once as she had things to do after she was done with this mysterious thief and why he gave her a sense of ‘pull’ that sounded a kind of attraction, but not of the romantic kind. It was similar to something she had felt through Jolyne or her father. And even her mother. It was a pull only those that bore a connection with her family could feel and… her ‘birthmark’, the one that was conceived during the last fight of the Holy Grail War which saw a closure of the competition for good, burned to prove this was indeed the case. But why? And how? Despite having learned in recent years that her great-grandpa had cheated on someone as nice as Suzy Q and had a son with a Japanese woman, there was no way that Joseph did it again and in Italy. Not when he never went to Italy beyond a day-long trip together he made many decades ago with his wife so he could speak with the family of a former comrade and bring up the news of his demise to them. So, how did a Joestar end up in Italy of all possible places? Her curiosity demanded a direct answer to that circumstance. Much to her surprise, someone actually arrived at the destination, sneaking on the distracted blond. The malicious-looking man with short brown hair and blue eyes was wearing a coat with flower patterns covering it over a button-up shirt.


    The very element that really caught her attention was the shovel he was holding tightly by the wooden body. The larger end looked sharper than it should have been for the normal tool, the letters ‘SPQR’ engraved right by the big arrow-like edge of the shovel. She was fairly distant, so she couldn’t catch much of what they were saying, but Sakura could tell he was bad news from the way he moved. Sloshed, a bit hunched, he was restraining his frustration. From a clearer sight, it was easy for the girl to deduce it was connected to the blond. Another scammed client? This time a criminal? Sakura’s posture was tense as she felt the urge to intervene in case things got too intense. Her gaze followed them then sitting by a nearby bench but the older man easily got angry at the calm outlook presented by the young criminal. And it was there that Sakura saw… a frog? The small green amphibian jumped smoothly and calmly near to the blond, clearly moving up to approach him. She had read plenty of books about frogs, at least those that tied up to the marine knowledge her father had as it was a subject they both liked, and this wasn’t a normal behavior for a small creature of this kind. The brunet noticed and he raised his voice in anger at that interruption, eventually trying to hit the frog as it climbed on the blond’s body up to the left side of his stomach. The shovel was already moving when Sakura started to take steps towards them but… Her intervention proved to be unnecessary as the strike didn’t do anything to the young man.


    Shock exploded as soon as she noticed the frog was fine and that the blond hadn’t received any visible damage on himself. The young man spoke up, something she barely could hear about the frog being essential and… something was incredibly off about the speech. Especially to the one it was directed to from the looks of it. The older criminal didn’t say anything. He didn’t even move or react at Giorno’s words as Sakura knew that the reason why he stood frozen in that very moment connected to the noticeable indentation left on the side of his head. As if he had been struck by his own shovel despite that having not happened. Did she miss something? Was this a case of time-stop? Doubtful, especially when she could tell when someone froze time nearby due to having spent so much time with her father as he used his Stand from time to time to keep the ability at least sharp without damaging or straining his body. And as that issue fell over, unconscious and definitely in critical conditions, the girl’s stare was back at the original reason for her to be there and… her anger exploded once more when she saw the frog slowly morphing and revealing a familiar bag. That was Koichi’s luggage.


    “Hey!” Sakura exclaimed, her common sense ditched in a brief moment of irritation that sprung her from her cover. The loudness of her call drew the scammer’s gaze and… he froze as he saw her approach so quickly and so furiously. In a moment that was as amusing as worrying for the young man himself, he barely managed to take a step back from retreating away from the girl that she still managed to get right in range to strike him on his cheek. A single punch and, despite their size differences, her hit proved to be strong enough to let him fall back on the ground, surprise painted in his face as he let go of the very luggage the girl picked up. “That isn’t yours!”


    “You are… the girl- the one with the Japanese tourist.”


    “Yes, and you are the thief that actually stole Koichi’s luggage. How dare you?” She chided fiercely. “I don’t see what you gain from this.”


    He blinked. “Money?”


    The answer didn’t seem good enough to amuse the plum-haired girl, not from the deadly glare she was giving him. There was a moment of pause, one that granted the blond a glance at something that felt quite unusual on the girl. Something that was barely visible, but he recognized quickly as his eyes widened in interest.


    “You… you have that mark too.”


    “Yes. The Joestar Birthmark,” Sakura answered curtly, and her fury weakened at that reminder. The reason why she gave chase. “You have it too.”


    “The… Joestar Birthmark?”


    “It means that you are somewhat family. But… I don’t know why.”


    A frown, a perplexed one at that, appeared on the blond’s face as he slowly got up and dusted himself before sparing a calm look at the shorter individual. Soon, he brought his right hand up and placed it on his chest. “By the way, my name is Giorno Giovanna, signorina.”


    “Sakura Kujo.”


    Surprise returned on his face. “Kujo? And Sakura? Are you perhaps a Japanese too?”


    “I was born and lived for a few years there. Any trouble with that?”


    “Just surprised to actually find a Japanese signorina being so experienced in Italian,” Giorno replied without hesitation. “Your accent is… quite Roman.”


    “I’ve studied with a friend of mine that lives there. Truly an interesting dialect, isn’t it?”


    She already knew it was a surprise for many as this was something she had put a lot of effort into getting down as fluently as possible. It really made her pass for a native from Rome and made anyone learning of her upbringing shocked for a while about her current disposition. But while the surprise remained for a while, the young man ultimately managed to get his mindset brought back on the important topics of this whole interaction.


    “Look, we might have started on the wrong foot. How about we walk to a nice cafe I know about and we discuss the fact we are… family?”


    “With money you stole from someone? Like from ‘him’?” Sakura rebuked while glancing back at the unconscious man.


    “You mean Leaky-Eye Luca? He is the one that controls all criminal affairs in Naples by Passione’s will. He is the one that introduced drugs to kids and forces every thug in the city to pay tribute to him,” Giorno explained, looking down at the still unconscious brunet. “Passione is the crime group that has taken over most of the nation. Some even say that they are the legitimate rulers of Italia through their influence.”


    Sakura’s blue eyes widened. The Mafia had actually taken over the government? She knew they were clashing with the regular police frequently due to new governments trying to wrestle the control of some zones from Passione, the gang being a familiar topic that was brought up a lot by both Caren and her father Kirei since the Church had a rather negative view of the group. Too brutal, too unpredictable, too uncontrollable. Still, there was no way she was going to trust Giorno in buying her food with stolen money.


    “And you are planning to use money you stole from others?”


    “I… I have some Lires which I gained legitimately. And I would never allow a fine signorina to pay for me. I’m a proper good man.”


    Her distrusting look proved how little she thought of him, letting him grimace for a while as they ultimately went off to finally bring an end to the debacle for good or… start something much bigger out of it. Because, while Sakura thought little of Giorno due to the first impression she got of him, the words he had for her to listen, driven by genuine goodness, were going to make her think otherwise of him and…


    Am I forgetting about something important?


    Somewhere close to where the two were going, a certain silver-haired young man panicked as he rushed around the streets of Naples in the effort of finding out what happened to Jotaro’s daughter and his luggage. This ‘vacation’ sure was taking a wild twist already and… he wasn’t liking any of it at all!


    -----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----


    AN


    And the sequel is now out!


    Next chapters are going to be about double if not triple the current size of this one.
     
  2. Tobi

    Tobi Versed in the lewd.

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    Is Jotaro going to appear in Italy. Well a certain boss is going to be destroyed. Time skipping is nothing compared to Time stopping. That plus a servant.
     
    JBukharin likes this.
  3. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Jotaro will not appear, but he will have a few scenes through phone calls. Sakura is the protagonist in this case and... boy, she will have to help a lot considering someone just woke up due to recent circumstances.
     
    CodeZerone and Tobi like this.
  4. Tobi

    Tobi Versed in the lewd.

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    Ah.... well this is going to be an interesting family reunion. Sakura will have a fun story to tell the rest of the Joestars. Like how they may have a lot of bastard children of Dio running around. Also damn the arrow might make a beeline for Sakura.

    Looking forward to what you have planned JBukharin.
     
  5. Kreuzritter

    Kreuzritter Getting sticky.

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    ah, fun times with her Grunkle GioGio at last
     
  6. Threadmarks: Promising Flower, Part 2
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 2: Promising Flower, Part 2

    Giorno Giovanna was… surprised to learn that he had a family that wasn’t tied to his father or his mother. The shock came mostly from the fact that his ‘cousin’ knew so much about the situation tied to Dio Brando, or ‘DIO’ as the megalomaniac tended to call himself as, and how the main genes that produced him, weren’t of Dio. But of one Jonathan Joestar.

    It was a most confusing circumstance due to the explanation tied to Hamon and how Dio had been a vampire. Truly odd, but not something he could consider a lie despite how much he tried to think of it as. Not because he didn’t believe his doubts, but rather he felt a sense of trust and genuineness in Sakura’s voice and words that had him nod in agreement while he listened to the tale she had for him. He couldn’t help but grasp at the idea that this Jonathan Joestar, a long-deceased nobleman, was actually his father. A kind man with a caring nature towards people and nature- he could believe it, he knew it was true. And the fact that only a Joestar could bear that kind of birthmark further impressed on him the notion that Dio, the man he long thought was his direct parent, was none other than a disingenuous man. Sure, he could praise that much ambition within a man, but the fact he eagerly rushed to commit a heinous crime with it just made him sick and disturbed by the vampire’s behavior. The reason why one Koichi Hirose had decided to visit was actually to make sure Giorno wasn’t Dio’s heir in terms of attitude.

    Upsetting as a discovery as it was, Giorno knew that the worry was well-reasoned. And there was no reason for him to be somewhat compliant to answer a few questions when the short Japanese young man managed to find them. At first the silver-haired tourist was upset, guarded, but Sakura’s sternness, something he could tell was a diluted if not copied version of a tougher individual’s own charisma, was quick to curb any sense of reluctance to engage in a conversation. Giorno was, of course, ‘urged’ to return the luggage he stole. It was a bit of an upsetting defeat, but not really something he minded. If he wanted to not get hounded by some of his father’s old foes, it was best to at least behave and show them that he was far from being the monster Dio Brando was. And Koichi was willing to listen to his answers despite the rocky first meeting.

    “So, your mother decided to first move to Japan, where she had you, and then she returned to Italy when she married?”

    Giorno nodded. “It was quite the hasty decision, but she thought it would have been for the best if we all went back ‘home’ in a sense.”

    The decision had been ‘really’ hasty. The woman hadn’t even taken a moment to think about it when her ‘beloved husband’ mentioned that they could do that trip, she had jumped at the hope of getting back to reconnect to her family. A stupid move to many considering the main reason she was disowned was tied to her illegal job at the time. Prostitution was, after all, illegal in Italy, no matter how widespread of a job it was in most regions.

    “And how did you… you know, turn into a criminal?” Koichi pressed, wanting to know more about the man that just ended up stealing his things so easily.

    “The correct term is Gang-Star. I’m not the usual petty thief, so I would like to be considered as such.”

    Sakura hummed at that fierce response, tilting her head to the side to further enchant her confused display.

    “What’s the difference?”

    Giorno’s blue eyes turned to her with a determined look.

    “Resolve.”

    The power many ignored or thought outright unreachable to many. And yet the issue wasn’t the capacity to be brave and win through the situation, it was to keep true strength before danger and boldly endure a victory or a defeat with confidence and unbreakable willpower.

    “So, you believe resolve alone matters the most? What about morality?”

    “If it comes to protect myself or others, I would be willing to kill.”

    That was a solid answer, and yet he could actually see how it wasn’t what she had asked for. It just felt natural for him to say that, and… yet it was wrong.

    “It wasn’t what I asked. I wanted to know what your take on your own morality is, the one that is already flexible.”

    “What about it?”

    “If you were to decide whenever letting children die or preserve your ambition, which one would you pick?”

    The question sounded so incredibly unpleasant, but not because of the topic. But because of the ramification. If Giorno picked either, he would betray parts of himself. On the one hand, his ambition is trying to make children’s childhood here in Italy more bearable and to put an end to the criminal grasp that killed their first years of life, and on the other hand, he would lose that integrity that shaped his life up to that very moment. And both were… non-negotiable.

    “Why do I have to choose?”

    Sakura blinked at that rebuttal. “What?”

    “Why should I decide when I could easily save these children while also reinforcing my valor through it? Why abandon one to satisfy the other when both are elements that need to coexist for me to be truthful to myself and the world?” He elaborated with an incredibly serious voice. “If I concede just once, then I will always fail. The dread will remain, the humiliation will remain… and my integrity shall remain broken after committing to either choice. That’s my resolve.”

    She smiled a knowing and happy smile. There was a brief pause of a couple of seconds, and then the girl spoke up again, this time bearing a small proclamation by her lips.

    “I think I will join him.” The plum-haired girl said with a serious tone.

    ...

    “W-Wait, what?”

    “I will make most of the trip with Giorno,” Sakura confirmed resolutely, smiling at the shock on Koichi’s face. “First, I want to know more about my cousin. It would be wrong for me as his family to just decide to outright leave him right now that he is pretty much aimless.”

    “But your father-”

    “Will be a bit surprised because I’m making the trek with someone, but you will tell him that I know what I’m doing. After all, I’m just with my family.”

    ...Giorno was really unsure how to tackle this very response. Family, the concept sounded so foreign and alien- so detached from what he grew up to be. He had family, a family that mattered. A family he could care for. He realized that deep down Sakura’s words weren’t just about family. It was about understanding. This… this felt more than mere familiar kinship- it felt like she could relate to a point, that he could understand his points clearer than anyone.

    It made him feel so intrigued, and yet so worried. Was that a weakness he had to be wary about? He decided that he would think more about it, maybe try to find a greater answer to that mess of questions within his head. The young man could just tell that being around her for a while was eventually going to lead him to the answers he sought. Koichi’s hesitation persisted for a while, with him trying to have Sakura reconsider but… the girl was having none of that from the way her scowl just darkened and darkened the more he spoke.

    “First, I don’t recall father making you my bodyguard. Second, my Stand is more versatile than yours, Koichi. I don’t think you have the capacity to actually ‘defend me’ from someone like Giorno.”

    “B-but-”

    “Or do you want me to send a message to Yukako-neesan and tell her how you have already ogled two girls earlier today.”

    His jaw dropped. “P-please don’t!”

    “Then stop annoying me, Koichi. Don’t you have to check on the hotel before they remove the booking?”

    The young man tensed up as he realized that she was right. “R-Right! I forgot about that but...”

    He paused, his attention once more at Sakura.

    “Sakura-san, please… if there is some trouble, at least make a… call.”

    Differently from her recent bout of harshness, the plum-haired girl sighed tiredly. “I will.”

    Giorno smiled, this interaction proving how, despite her attempt to look tougher than she was, Sakura was the furthest thing from a mean person. After a while, the two were making their way out of the cafe and wandering through the streets, with the blond mentioning that there were a few ‘trustworthy’ ways to leave the city without issues. Those weren’t completely safe, but they should allow them to leave Naples without any high chance of getting ambushed. It was a relief that Sakura didn’t bring up to the silver-haired young man the fact that Giorno’s satchel was actually one he stole from Leaky-Eye Luca. The bag had roughly two million Lires, which wasn’t much but it was the ‘tribute’ that Luca managed to get from earlier that day. It would make for a good bribe to get through any problem in their trip. And it was during that talk that he decided to bring up a topic he hadn’t asked about back when Koichi was around since he doubted the answer would have been that positive with him nearby.

    “What is a Stand?”

    The girl blinked, then frowned. “You don’t know? You have been using yours for a while.”

    “You mean 「Gold Experience」? That’s the name, a Stand?”

    “Yes, that’s the case. Stands are manifestations of their user’s fighting spirit, with their abilities matching with the user’s own personality most of the time,” Sakura explained with a nod.

    “And you have one?” Giorno asked out of curiosity, wondering what the girl two years younger than him had.

    “Yes.”



    “What’s its name?”

    She smiled smugly. “Why should I tell you?”

    His lips twitched, catching onto the fact that the girl wasn’t planning to reveal it to him anytime soon. Quite unusual, but a curious mystery to learn with its due time and process. They finally arrived at their destination, the trams’ starting point where they would find a free one to get on board of and get to the city’s outskirts. Once they were inside the least-busy one, the tram started to move smoothly. It was one of the most recent additions to the city as the older version had broken down a few months ago due to a severe lack of maintenance. The two found a place where to sit, with Giorno taking the seat right beside the window and he decided to open it to get some fresh air inside rather than get disgusted by the sterile smell of cleaning alcohol and other cleaning products that had been used to clean seats and metal bits inside the vehicle.

    Everything looked to be on the clear after just a few minutes of moving, but as he allowed his guard to drop and to ease back on the seat so he could catch some rest, the blond’s body tensed up when he heard the distinct noise of a coin dropping on the central section of the tram. His gaze was instantly aimed at the origin of the noise and… he was surprised to find that someone was already kneeling down to retrieve the 500 Lires that had dropped. He pulled up, looking right at them with a calm but definitely interested look aimed at the duo.

    Is this yours, Signorina?”

    -----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d---------

    Sakura wasn’t paying much attention to the situation when she heard someone ask her that question.

    The man held towards her a 500 Lires coin, seemingly thinking it was hers and that it had fallen out of her pouch. Which was of course impossible since her coins were put in a mini-purse within her satchel and both were firmly sealed shut at the time. She spared a quick look at this suspicious individual, and she could tell he was bad news from just a glance. He had an above-average height with a fairly slim, but muscular build. His black chin-length hair was combed with straight-cut bangs, adorned with a braid going along the top of his head and hair clips placed right below the top of his head, clipping each side of his bangs. His attire was made by an all-white suit with an open chest similar to Giorno covered in small black symbols that resembled spoons, and zippers in unusual sections of the clothes.

    “No,” She replied flatly. “But thank you for asking.”

    His smile widened, almost gaining amusement at that response.

    “I see,” The unknown individual said before taking a seat right in front of them. “It’s my lucky day then.”

    Soon, the man looked right at Giorno, stealing a brief glance at the bag he was carrying, which Sakura knew had the money he stole from that other criminal, before asking him a question.

    “Tell me, if you were to find a bag on this tram. A bag that had a billion Lires inside, would you turn it in?”

    Giorno chuckled, and she could tell she wasn’t going to like the answer to that.

    “Are you joking right? It’s finders keepers.”

    Another chuckle.

    “At least you’re honest. Why, what if I was really an undercover cop and I saw the whole thing?”

    The query felt oddly packed with pressure, something that was confirmed by the tension within Giorno’s body at listening to that. Sakura decided it was about time to remind the two that she was still there.

    “I would still not give any of that to the police,” The plum-haired teen rebuked, gaining the attention of the ‘cop’. He looked a bit surprised, but also fascinated by her comment.

    “Oh? And why so?”

    “It’s clear you would want to be bribed. Something that would just foster corruption and expand the influence of criminality. And that’s while ignoring how it would be even worse if you took all the money with yourself.”

    His smile grew more entertained, and it was already frustrating her.

    “That’s a fair point. But would you go as far as fight the police to beat back organized crime? You are young, and the Mafia doesn’t care if the target is a child.”

    “So, you are part of the Mafia? Passione?” Giorno pressed, finding a good opening to return the favor for the pressure exerted on him.

    “That would be correct, and I guess it’s about time I cut the chase and get right into business,” He muttered dryly, standing up and looking menacingly at Giorno. “Leaky-Eye Luca got his head bashed in by his own shovel and was conveniently found unconscious on the outskirts of the airport. It’s critical and it looks like he is never making a full recovery.”

    He took a step forward, almost slamming his forehead on Giorno’s.

    “And I come here to find the culprit. So, let’s talk,” The man pressed fiercely. “No one has the slightest idea why Leaky-eye Luca was even at the airport. However-”

    A pause, he sat back down on his seat. “I spoke with a security guard. And I was told that a young man by the name of Giorno Giovanna was there. If it’s not too much trouble, I thought we could have a little chat about it.”

    “I believe we don’t want that,” Sakura answered tensely, already seeing where this was going. “And I believe it’s time for us to get off. it’s our stop.”

    It wasn’t, but there was no way the girl was allowing anyone to get a free shot by being so close if a fight was to erupt in the tram. But as she moved, the man stood up.

    “I’m afraid that’s not a possibility. Leaky-Eye Luca was a member of the Famiglia. He was slain, and the boss’ honor stained due to this mishap,” He remarked grimly. “And the boss has elected to take action against the culprit, even if it means being a little bit less… cautious about the move.”

    A tense pause ensued, with the man’s blue eyes staring fiercely at Sakura’s as Giorno looked ready to jump and pummel him in case he tried anything worrying but…

    The unknown man sighed. “I suppose you’re not going to crack. And here I thought I had found the real culprit.”

    What?

    “That’s all I needed. You are in the clear, Giorno Giovanna.”

    The man bumped into Sakura, but the girl didn’t care if it meant having him leave quickly from their proximity. Things really seemed to have suddenly gone quieter, but after a bit, the girl could tell they were far from done with this matter. She felt something within her hand, something small and spherical. It was smooth but also rough in some bits and, as she opened her palm to reveal what it was, she gasped in shock at a human eye staring back at her. She dropped it without hesitation, while Giorno leaned back, closer to the window, as a disgusted reaction to get away from the sight but-

    “You are looking at Luca’s right eye. It’s not it’s currently in use so I thought I would bring it along,” A familiar voice said, and Sakura turned to see the ominous man leaning from the widow and taking a lick at Giorno’s cheek, getting a few drops of his sweat which had formed at the horrifying sight. “What a surprise, this is the distinct taint of a liar. Right, Giorno Giovanna?”

    The girl didn’t even say anything that her Stand materialized and entered in action. This creepy bastard was dangerous, and she wasn’t letting him get any other chance at attacking them. The man had hardly the time to muster his own Stand that 「One Vision」 grasped him by his collar and yanked him inside. The humanoid Stand formed a frontal guard with his arms which allowed the dangerous foe to slam onto the metal bar in the central spot of the vehicle without suffering any damage.

    “Impressive reaction, but it barely matters,” The man muttered, and Sakura heard something shift behind her. Giorno fell to his knees right behind her, spitting fingers out of his mouth. “You may call me Bruno Bucciarati, and I believe it’s time to progress from questioning… to torture.”

    Sakura readied her guard, snarling at this man, Bruno, and prepared for what looked to be a battle in a limited space.

    Really a nice way to start her holidays, she thought grimly.

    -----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------

    AN

    Next time, Sakura & Giorno vs. Bruno! Of course, it’s going to be a bit insane, but I plan to give an edge or two to Bruno to not make it too one-sided.

    Fun Fact: I almost mistook the 500 Lires as a Two Euros coin as they both look similar in the simplistic way it was shown in the Anime. But then I remembered this is 2001 and it’s one year before the monetary switch.
     
  7. Extras: 「One Vision」/「One Vision: EX」 Stats
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Name: 「One Vision」
    Physical Description: Same appearance as one of Dark Sakura’s Shadows;
    Type: All-Around Range
    Stats:
    Destructive Power – C
    Speed – A
    Range - ???
    Stamina – E
    Precision – B
    Developmental Potential – A
    Ability: Wishcraft Minus – Stand obtains a weakened version of Requiem which allows it to ascend to 「One Vision: EX」.


    Name: 「One Vision: EX」
    Physical Description: Same appearance as one of Dark Sakura’s Shadows, except of white instead of dark color as full body;
    Type: All-Around Range
    Stats:
    Destructive Power – Unknown
    Range – Unknown
    Stamina – Unknown
    Precision – Unknown
    Development Potential – Null
    Ability: Wishcraft (Fragment of the Heaven’s Feel): The ability to acquire a specific set of powerful Stats and Powers for a short amount of time. Due to its impressive potential, the Stand can be barely used in a combat situation.
     
    linkline999, caspian1a and CodeZerone like this.
  8. Threadmarks: Promising Flower, Part 3
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 3: Promising Flower, Part 3

    This was the first time in a long while since Sakura fought against a Stand User.

    The last 'fight' she had was when she visited Morioh and decided to 'spar' with Josuke. Her 'grand-uncle' and his Stand, Crazy Diamond, were incredibly compatible and difficult to beat in close range. Despite his kind interior, Josuke knew how to muster a legitimate serious stance which was easily growing to be as fierce and strong as her father. Jotaro had agreed to that assessment when she told him that. And, in a sense, the plum-haired girl could already tell this fight was similar to that previous battle in terms of disadvantage. Just as One Visiontried to overwhelm the opposing Stand with its Speed, managing to push the mafia man away only for a few seconds, Bucciarati's Sticky Fingersproved to be stronger than hers and easily swatted the approaching fists away with precise hits that slowed down the cascade of hits. Sakura's knuckles were quick to heat up and feel a bit sore at the clear contrast of might, but she felt true dread when she saw Bucciarati pressed his advantage to try and remove one of the opponents he was facing early on. Her eyes narrowed in unease as the Stand closed the distance by breaching through the meek defense put through One Vision, preparing to start pushing Sakura's Stand even further to reach its user.

    That very assault didn't came to happen as the first punch was stopped by another fist, this one owned by Giorno's Stand, Gold Experience. In a curious whiplash-like effect, both Stands were pushed back when their strength clashed and resulted in a knockback in the opposite direction for each other. Surprise was painted on the older guy, but Giorno didn't hesitate to return the favor by rushing to press the advantage and actually break through Sticky Fingers' guard. Bucciarati was pushed back, shock painted in his face at the strength behind the attack and… yet something odd happened. Something that Sakura actually tensed up about while her own Stand took a defensive approach about what they saw. As the short-haired man stood up from the ground, holding his cheek with his left hand as the punch delivered a noticeable bruise on the spot and trying to get up from the floor with a metal bar nearby, his eyes widened when his grip faltered and he suddenly fell to his knees. Surprising as a development, but nothing that saw Giorno hesitate to punch him once again. This time, Gold Experience's struck Bucciarati's other cheek, sending one of the teeth flying in the process. The attack further pushed the man away, this time 'waking him up' as he started to blink and look at his palms in shock.

    "W-What just happened? I was out of my body and-"

    "That's part of my Stand's power. Gold Experiencehas the ability to boost the target's senses… but also speed up their thought process. In a sense, your sense of touch was heightened while your consciousness fled the limitations of your body and… your pain reception is much higher in these circumstances."

    Bruno suddenly felt dread at this circumstance. It was clear that the pain he felt wasn't something pleasant, and Sakura could tell that this was perhaps the first time she had the chance to see a second power to a Stand. Or perhaps, this was all packed in a single power. She had seen how Giorno managed to shift the damage meant for himself back to Leaky-eye Luca, so it was possible that something about his Stand made him able to… manipulate something that allowed both abilities to coexist harmoniously. Her curiosity skyrocketed at this, but it didn't mean her attention on the real threat faltered. In fact, she felt even more centered on reality when Bucciarati suddenly smiled. It was a confident smirk which showed that he had thought up a plan to counter this new issue. It wasn't like she would have expected otherwise, with Giorno having kept his lips shut when it came to his Stand's unique power like she did with hers, so it was clear that their common foe thought this was the sole ability in his arsenal. He was planning to flee, Sakura deduced at a first glance. It would be something she would consider had she been in his position. The tram offered little space for mobility, and it prevented any of the people here to dodge as much as it was needed. Giorno knew that from his unwillingness to let go of this pressing, but both were surprised when the man snorted in clear entertainment, as if he had thought of something funny.

    "Is that so? So, you would need to get close to get this power to work? Interesting."

    Amusement dripped from that last word as Bucciarati suddenly punched the floor of the tram and created numerous… zippers? Sakura jumped away as one formed directly beneath her. Giorno took a few steps away too, but his eyes narrowed in frustration when the floor suddenly vanished as the zippers opened and revealed a massive gap between them. The best way to prevent Giorno's approach was to make him unable to close the distance with his Stand. It also looked quite… destructive for a temporary solution. Despite this clever move, it also neutered any attempt from Bucciarati from making use of his Stand's preference in close quarters. The zippers were still there so there was a chance the damage was fixable, which made the idea that this was just a distraction even more feasible. Just as she pondered this, the tram shook and the vibrations became stronger than usual due to the current disposition it was in. The ground shook, and both Giorno and Sakura felt their footing grow unstable. Bucciarati struck in that moment, displaying something that actually allowed him to hit them through that distance. Sticky Fingers's right arm mostly detached from its body, a tiny zipper keeping it attached to its original position and allowed it to extend and rush at a great distance. Giorno's eyes were wide open in pain as the punch slammed onto his stomach and forced him to fall backward.

    "I will make this clear just once, signorina. If you don't leave this battle at once, I can't guarantee I can spare you. The boss is… unwilling to take preferences on how to treat specific enemies, no matter how young they are."



    Sakura snorted, One Visionmanifesting beside her with a fierce pose. "As if I would ditch someone from my family, Bucciarati. That's not something I will ever do and I promised myself I would never allow this to happen!"

    It made her blood boil, memories of the previous decade flaring in a sense of anger. She remembered when her family abandoned her to… him. The malicious grin on that horrible old man - 'her grandfather' - still terrifying her after so long. Sakura couldn't tolerate that slight, and her fury was shown through her current unwillingness to back away from the confrontation. Bucciarati was stunned by that response, but nonetheless unwilling to stay put any further.

    "I see. I guess you truly stand by your morals."

    He didn't say more, trying to get a repeat of what happened with Giorno but without a distraction this time around. She could tell that he expected his strength and speed to be enough to make up for the lack of that element of surprise he used against the blond, but Sakura already knew how to counter a move like this. She shifted on the side as soon as she saw the punch getting incredibly close and… she then sent One Visionacross the gap and made use of the very advantage that Bucciarati had foolishly ignored. Sakura's Stand might not be strong enough to catch up with Sticky Fingerson a fair fight, but in these circumstances, Sakura had a clear opening to its user. And Bruno seemed to notice it as soon as he saw it was too late to intervene. The first two punches… were a test, the next ones were delivered at high speed.

    "OraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraOraORAAAH!"

    The last punch sent the stunned man out of the nearest window, with his Stand obviously following him outside of the vehicle. Her gaze was still at the window when she suddenly had to grab hold of one of the metal bars nearby as the shakes returned once again. The tram trembled to a halt soon after, possibly having arrived at destination or… because the driver had noticed something was wrong with the tram itself due to the vibrations. Either way, it was good since it allowed Sakura to check on Giorno. He stood up, holding something in his hand as he calmly used his Stand's power on… the zippers. Those disappeared, returning the missing floor back to the vehicle. Once again, the blond managed to surprise her about this mysterious power of his.

    "We need to give chase," Giorno muttered with a serious tone. "If he manages to leave, he will just report to the rest of the gang and they will send someone stronger."

    That notion Sakura could agree to. As much as she wasn't someone that liked to hunt others down, this situation was exceptionally unique and required her to be as serious and committed to it as possible to prevent any other harm from coming their way. So she bolted right behind Giorno through the streets, allowing him to lead her around since he had a better grasp of the city's paths. Eventually they managed to catch up, with Bruno suddenly turning around as they all took a small alley section before then jumping back into a crowd of people that was passing by. Somehow, the man managed to disappear out of thin air in the middle of the ensuing chaos, leaving Sakura with her jaw hanging low at the sight as she tried to make sense of what had just happened. Something she missed? Another Stand User? An ambush? Despite her chaotic effort to catch the man hiding somewhere nearby, she just couldn't. Instead, Giorno seemed to keep a strong stance while looking around and seemed interested in a particular detail of that dispersing scene. A fly, one that was annoying a teen that was around her age. The young man started to swat around, trying to deal with the upsetting insect but, as soon as he managed to hit it and kill it, his body contorted while blood erupted from his back. Shocked by the sudden pain, the teen collapsed on the ground. A zipper formed and allowed Bucciarati to leave his… insides? Did the zipper allow it to enter inside things or perhaps was there something the plum-haired girl was missing from that sight?

    Meanwhile, the fly turned into… the tooth that Bucciarati lost when Giorno stunned him with his unusual ability. At this point, Sakura was having a bit of trouble trying to grasp what connection all these powers had to each other, but Giorno explained how the 'created Fly' would return to its original 'owner'. In this case, the tooth went back to where Bucciarati had been hiding. The girl remembered something similar about what happened with Koichi's luggage and how those were turned by Giorno into a frog. Could it be that the notion was similar somehow? But then, why did it go to Giorno and not back to Koichi?

    "You're truly something, Giorno Giovanna. Still, I don't think you understand that all of this… it's futile. Once again, you failed to realize that even if you beat me, Passione will still investigate and deal with you. Our boss would never allow this slight to go unpunished and I would never let him down."

    Despite sounding honest in most of that proclamation, there was a sense of dissatisfaction as soon as the 'boss' was brought up. Could it be that Bruno didn't see the 'Boss' in a positive light? Or maybe he wasn't happy with the situation of the gang?

    "I don't plan to surrender, Bucciarati."

    Giorno rushed, deciding to be quick about this interaction and put an end to it as soon as possible. Gold Experienceeasily broke through Sticky Fingers' defense and got a clear shot on Bruno's upper body. The punch struck Bruno's left arm, and Giorno felt certain he had managed to do it - to get this win for good. The hit should have been able to stun his foe once again… and yet his eagerness died as soon as he felt something sturdy hit his chest. Sticky Fingers' fist pushed him away, leaving a small zipper on his… being? It was stuck on his clothes but also his skin. Bruno scoffed, taking this opportunity to deliver a counter-barrage and leave Giorno's body riddled with zippers that suddenly opened and made his footing and posture unstable.

    "You're quite predictable, Giorno Giovanna. I already knew that you were going to try something like this again,"

    "Not if I have to say something about it!" Sakura rushed to put herself between Giorno and Bucciarati. "You will not hurt him anymore."

    "Oh? And I guess you will stop me, correct? Despite the fact your Stand isn't strong enough for this, right?"

    The girl gritted her teeth. Technically-speaking, she could win. One Vision: EXwas more than enough to handle it. The real issue was that she barely trained with it, and the strain was nothing to scoff at. She couldn't allow to hurt her body this soon into the trip. If Bruno pushed her to be this extreme with her means to win, then there was no way to deny the next challenges were going to be tougher. But as she felt like there was no choice about it, her approach was stopped when Giorno stood up from the ground, holding his half-detached arm and walking up to her side.

    "Sakura, may I ask you a favor?"

    She glanced to the side. "What?"

    "This fight. I wish to end it myself."

    "You're in no shape of fighting," The girl rebuked and Bruno nodded in agreement.

    "You should listen to her, you're barely standing and now you think you can win?"

    "Yes. And it's not just for myself anymore. It's a matter of ideals and truth," Giorno remarked firmly, confusing Sakura.

    "What are you talking about?"

    "Just… let me try."

    Her common sense was telling her to bash her cousin's head for asking for something that foolishly deadly out of her. Logically speaking, that was the maximum degree of stupidity possible in that situation but… something about his words and stare made her question that line of thought. He had a plan, and he looked ready to swear his life on it to succeed.



    I am definitely going to regret this.

    "Fine, but don't expect me to stay put if you fail."

    The young man looked thankful for that response, yet Sakura didn't feel anywhere happy with this choice. She stood ready to jump in action the moment he failed to secure a victory out of this and… Bruno scoffed.

    "I guess you wish to really die, Giorno Giovanna. Don't worry, I will make sure that you will not suffer this one."

    The mafia man rushed towards the blond, ready to finish the fight in one last confrontation. What neither Sakura and Bucciarati would have expected to happen was for the young man to suddenly rip off the half-detached arm, tearing the sliver of flesh that kept it attached beyond the zipper and suddenly throw the mostly removed limb at the approaching Bucciarati. Stunned in pure horror at the sight, the man could hardly react when Gold Experience manifested its arm through that limb and suddenly struck the side of the enemy's face. Once again 'shocked still', Bruno was finally at the mercy of Giorno, the young man approaching slowly and preparing to perhaps storm him with a barrage of punches… and yet, as Bucciarati had his eyes closed in fear at being struck again and perceive that horrible amount of pain, the killing hit didn't come. Instead, Giorno walked to the side and 'fixed himself' through his Stand's power. Gone were the injuries and the zippers.

    "I think it's over now. You lost."



    "W-What are you even talking about? Why aren't you at least knocking him unconscious?" Sakura blurted out in pure confusion. What was Giorno doing? Why was he sparing their current foe? Despite the loud question, the blonde focused on Bucciarati as he spoke once more.

    "You weren't planning to hurt that young man," Giorno calmly affirmed, surprising Bruno with that comment. "You hesitated to protect yourself when my attack was coming, and I think I know why."

    Was there an actual reason? Sakura just couldn't think of anything that could have caused this much hesitation and… Giorno decided to point a finger to the arm that had been dropped. The teen's arm, the one that Bucciarati used to trick the blond into setting himself open for a counter-attack. Specifically, he was pointing at some rashes that had appeared on the joint, something that Sakura knew were meant to tell that the kid had made use of drugs.

    "You were shocked by the rash. He is just thirteen from what the ID over there says, and yet he was allowed to buy drugs," The blond resumed. "Which means that while Passione is in charge of this business, you're unhappy about it. Disgusted too. You hesitated because of that shock and… I believe that you're no longer an enemy to us."

    "I have a job to kill you-"

    "But you will not go through with it," Giorno interrupted flatly, almost arrogantly. "Because you will join me and my… plans to save the children of this city, but also the rest of Italy."



    "You want to infiltrate Passione."

    Giorno nodded. "Yes. I will start from the bottom and rush to the top so I can dethrone your boss. He is a dangerous man, a villain, and the more he sits on that chair of power, children will die. And I know you hate this."

    "You don't know me, Giorno Giovanna," Bruno replied vehemently, but the poisonous tone didn't dissuade the young man from a response. In fact, it seemed to enable him to speak more.

    "I know you now. The way you fight, your strategies, your mind and your ideals. You're a diligent man, Bruno Bucciarati, but far from a bad person. You kill those that slighted your laws, but would never raise a finger to an innocent child. The only reason you did with Sakura was because she stood as a threat to you and one that could defend from your attacks."

    Was that actually the case? Bucciarati had previously told her that age didn't matter to him when it came to killing dangerous people and… that's where the unusual line of thought started to make sense. Despite the illegal career behind this individual's line of work, it would make sense that some of them wouldn't be that pleased if their own cities were suddenly suffering from children that were subjected to drugs and other illegal substances. And before she could even question some more about it, Sakura was suddenly 'yanked' into the whole business due to Giorno deciding to take part in this entire ordeal. This was something she had to talk with Caren about. Hopefully she knew something to help her through this and… even more so hopefully she didn't try to tag along for 'fun'.

    This holiday just keeps getting better and better...

    ---------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----------

    It was… night.

    Was it?

    Shuffling left and right, a slumbering entity shivered at the sudden shift in reality that happened… nearby. Yes, it felt stronger than a while ago. Fiercer even. It felt more emotional – pleasant even – and her curiosity surged at that fantastic and interesting sensation. The lid of her 'coffin' was easy to open, and she took a moment to look at the dark room where she had been taken to. At first, Zelretch had told her it would have been best to remain in England and slumber in that curious island, but the girl refused. No, she wanted to be there and 'ready'. She knew something would have pulled her out of that sleep – a threat – and she needed to be there to deal with it. And yet that 'self-prophecy' didn't happen. Instead she got 'this'. Something happened. Something unusual and bizarre. Something that made her feel tingly as if something big just unfolded. But what could it be? A confused look was plastered on her face as she walked out of the coffin and made her way to the kitchens. There was no good food saved there, with everything available having rotten after so much time had passed. Upset hardly matched her current sense of self, but it was on the same emotional wavelength.

    What woke her up? She had a strange vision a few minutes before waking up. An individual- no, a shadow. One with red-lines going through its veil-like form. It stood in front of her, its posture strong-looking and her body language suggesting a will to fight her despite the possible power difference. Behind the shadow, a girl. Just like her. She looked incredibly strong with her confidence. It almost made the slumbering child want to know more. To feel more.

    This was something she couldn't just ignore. And it was about time she stretched and checked how the world had changed since the Moon fell over the Crimson one.

    ------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------

    AN

    And thus, the stakes for the early plot and a future 'subplot' have been set!
     
  9. Threadmarks: Meet the Gang, Part 1
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 4: Meet the Gang, Part 1

    Bruno Bucciarati could tell that the girl sitting in front of him was incredibly frustrated by recent circumstances.

    Sakura Kujo was… interesting. It was the best adjective he could come up with instead of mysterious and odd. Something about her just made him uneasy, and the fact that she was annoyed at him for preventing her from joining Giorno in his trial to join Passione made him even perplexed. How could a girl her age be able to put this much dread in him? Sure, she was a capable fighter thanks to her Stand, but something else just made her have a difficult talker… and bystander in general. She didn't stand out, which made her seemingly harmless to anyone that wasn't subjected to her attention, and she definitely didn't give off that kind of pressure until coaxed by a situation of this kind. But there wasn't much for her to say or do: only recruits of Passione could go and see Polpo. Giorno was joining the gang, and since Sakura wasn't, she wasn't allowed to be given any test, or even help Giorno. It was one of the harsh aspects of recruitment, but also the very element that allowed the group to keep away any lousy members from joining. They needed quality, not quantity. Not when Stands easily make up for the lack of numbers.

    "Do you understand that brooding over the situation shall not change how things are, signorina?"

    No response at first, or, at least, not beyond a quick glare from her. She truly was a fun individual already.

    "I am not expecting that to happen," The plum-haired girl argued. "I am just… frustrated at the fact I am stuck with you."

    How rude. He didn't say it, but he definitely felt an urge to make that point clear. To be fair, the small kiosk they had picked to idly wait was particularly quaint. He had picked the place out of random choice rather than an outright interest in it. After the battle he had experienced, he just wanted to rest a fair bit and drink something before going back to business. And he could only 'rejoice' as he was supposed to 'babysit' Sakura for the time being. There was no reason to doubt her maturity at times, but being a moody teen had her behave quite… unnervingly annoying. She didn't make an effort to pester him, but he could tell things were only going to spiral downward until Giorno was done with the test. Fifteen minutes early, he was done drinking his espresso, sighing in disappointment at the lacking taste of the machine-made brew. Standing up, he gave a quick nod at the girl and she silently nodded back before sitting up and following him away from the place.

    "Where are we going?"

    Bruno hummed. "I have to retrieve a couple of gang members. They are usually out doing their own businesses when there is no mission to deal with as a team. But right now, I believe they would want to be called up so we can prepare a proper welcome to our newest member."

    "And I can join?"

    "What are the other options?" He argued back, something that Sakura met with a frown.

    "Maybe just tell me where Giorno-"

    "No. I think we already talked about that," Bucciarati answered calmly, yet holding back some irritation at the resurface of this subject. "Which is why we're now going through this hassle so you can no longer whine about it."

    Sakura scoffed. "I'm not whining."

    Sure thing. Sure thing.

    "By the way, how about you tell me more about yourself?" Bruno quickly changed topic, knowing that it was best to not enable the girl to get more active in her behavior. "Giorno told me his story, but you remained quiet about yourself. How did you end up here in Italy, Sakura Kujo?"

    Much to his surprise, the girl remained quiet, actually shifting her attention away from him as they kept on walking around until they arrived to their destination. Bruno was a bit stunned by this lack of response, but agreed to the possibility that she just didn't trust him with the information. Giorno 'gave up' his backstory just to reinforce his good morals despite his aspirations to a criminal organization, and Sakura had no reasons to offer her story to motivate her actions. Not when she already commented that she followed Giorno since 'he is family'. He couldn't argue with that, but the silence just made the entire interest on the topic raise in priority over the many questions that the man had on the curious thing that was Sakura Kujo. Still, his priority was to retrieve two gang members that he knew were wandering around as of this hour.

    The first one to catch was currently leaning on one of the corners of a nearby newsagent booth, calmly reading from today's papers and paying little to no attention to those passing by due to the headgear he had on. He was keeping long, silver-like hair divided into spikes that angle outwards or upwards at their ends. His outfit was made by a dark-colored, lapel-less overcoat with laces that crossed his bare chest, dark bell-bottomed pants, and black shoes. He had a slim build, but Bucciarati knew that the man had muscles that had been there since he went through Police Academy way back before ditching his first vocation and joining the Mafia. Leone Abbacchio was someone that Bruno trusted dearly and that he knew would be less fussy to face someone like Sakura rather than be outright subjected to Giorno. The age-gap just made the entire scenario the least worrisome, especially since Sakura wasn't going to join as a member, but as an 'Observer' for the time being.

    The quiet posture that the former police officer took broke off as soon as he spotted his boss walk up to him. Headgear was pulled off, and the newspaper was folded and brought to the side to be read later on. A nod, he bowed his head out of respect and normal commitment to the leadership.

    "Chief," He greeted somberly, something that Bruno returned with a pleased smile.

    "Abbacchio, I see that you already had your afternoon coffee."

    Lips twitching, the former law enforcer seemed to focus first on the girl behind his boss rather than the comment he just heard.

    "Who is she?"

    "An observer. Her cousin will soon join our ranks."

    A blink. "I didn't recall Polpo confirming any new member."

    "He will pass," Bucciarati reinforced without adding much to it, and he knew that just his words vouching for the matter would be enough to steer away any doubt on the matter. And it did, but only regarding the recruitment.

    "Still, why are we picking up brats now?"

    Sakura didn't react to this, regarding the man just with a cool look which was ignored by Leone as he inquired about the matter.

    "Only if those catch my attention and share some interesting opinion about a potential future mission," The Capo remarked without hesitation. "Which is why I don't need to explain how she is a guest and should be treated as such."

    A nod, there was no reason to lament about the disposition if Sakura did nothing to warrant his annoyance. So, Abbacchio decided to test the waters and see how 'screwed' his week was going to be. He reached out for a handshake.

    "Leone Abbacchio."

    The girl slowly nodded and completed the handshake. "Sakura Kujo."

    As they shook hands, the former cop retrieved his palm with a surprised look.

    "You sure got a strong hold."

    "Dad told me to never give a weak grip in handshakes," The plum-haired teen answered. "Gives off silly first impressions."

    A strange smile appeared on Leone's face. "Your father is not wrong."

    What an odd interaction? But, then again, Leone was quick to capitulate to children and the fact that Sakura was behaving politely surely played a stronger good impression on him towards her. At least Bruno could say that this first interaction went well, but now he would have to retrieve the next one and that's where things were definitely going to get fairly… problematic.

    "By the way, Mista-"

    "He was fishing last time I saw him. Should be making his way back to the safehouse at this point," Abbacchio confirmed with a sigh. "Should we go back already or do we try to catch up to him before he gets there?"

    A little competition? Was Leone trying to show off some skills to the little girl? Perhaps he had underestimated the man's interest to play on children's interest for sudden actions. Sakura was still clueless on what the two meant, but she still trusted Bruno about it as he decided to go for the second option. What followed next was a faster walk through the streets to try and 'catch' the last 'errand' member so they could get back to the headquarters. The real issue about the current disposition of their last 'missing' member was tied to what task he was given and how he had definitely skipped it if he was around dilly-dallying. After twenty minutes of searching, they managed to find him and he was holding a fishing rod on one side and a bucket with fishes on the other.

    Guido Mista was the one that was known to spend money and time on frivolous things. In fact, it was a well-stated fact that he spent a lot of money in fashion, hence why he usually wore his uniquely shaped headgear with a diagonal grid pattern and the front shaped like an arrow pointing downward. His hat was particularly essential to his line of work since it was there where he would leave his ammunition as he 'did not like having his hands constantly busy holding something'. His attire consisted of a turtleneck crop top sweater with a design similar to his hat, zebra striped leather pants, a thick belt, and black-&-red boots.

    "Oh, hello chief! I made some good gains today-"

    "Weren't you supposed to be at the headquarters keeping watch on Fugo and Narancia?" Bruno interrupted the happy gangster with that stern question. "God knows what they did while you were out."

    As if realization struck from nowhere, having forgotten why that job is as important as annoying, the young man panicked.

    "Chief, I swear- I thought they were doing fine. Fugo didn't plan to give any lessons, and Narancia was sleeping when I left."

    Then there was a chance things were going to be that dreadful. Their return to the base wasn't as quiet as before, with Mista actually doing what Bruno had expected him to. And that was pestering Sakura. At first it was just a jovial introduction which was met by the more tame response from the girl, but the young man was, of course, interested to dig more info to their current guest. Where did she come from? Why was she tied to them now? Who was her cousin? Why was her cousin named after 'Day'? And things of this very degree. Nothing unusual. But it still irked the young Stand User a lot from the way she reacted to this. After getting back 'home', Bruno gave a thorough look to check on the two 'volatile' members of the team. Much to Bucciarati's relief, Fugo was in the living room finishing his usual rage over the paperwork. Considering his excellent education, he was capable of handling some of the bureaucracy that Bruno himself wasn't prepared for. It was enough to deter him from seeking other activities, especially things tied to Narancia. Speaking of the boy, he was still napping from the looks of it and thus it gave him the chance to set their guest up for the time being.

    Sakura was given a room among those that weren't used. Knowing Polpo, the test was going to find a closure just the next day. It was going to be interesting, but overall it was best to rest for now. The girl was given the keys to the room, told the general schedule of the bathroom's turns after dinner and given the choice to pick which delicacy she could get for dinner. One thing that made Bruno particularly unusual among other chiefs of the districts was his propensity to cooking. It was so unusual, and yet it fit well with the idea that his subordinates could hardly handle a stove even in the situation where their lives depended on it. There wasn't much to be troubled about as the members seemed to click well with the girl, especially with how polite and 'moderate' she was with her usual quirks. There was still a sense of distrust that was quickly picked by Fugo, something that got him in a conversation about 'who did Bruno bring home? And why did she look ready to snap at them at the wrong move?'. A strange discussion, but one he felt rightfully confused about. Hopefully Giorno will be able to give them some input on the matter.

    Still, who is Sakura Kujo?

    -------d-d-d-d-------

    "I'll be fine, father."

    Caren Hortensia never thought this day would have come. And yet, it happened. She was going somewhere to check on her friend, and her father was already worried due to some 'flimsy' matters. It wasn't like dealing with the Mafia was really something that terrifying… right? After all, they were several steps above some thugs.

    "I don't doubt your skills, Caren," The priest assured while walking her to the train. "But I remind you that Sakura got involved in something that I might have troubled helping you with and-"

    "You're worried I will stumble onto something I'm not prepared for. Which is alright as I don't plan to risk myself during this jovial trip with my friend," She agreed without skipping a beat, and yet her words hardly cracked Kirei Kotomine's concerns. "Plus, if push comes to shove, I will just move to pull Sakura out of the way."

    "And any others?"

    "If they didn't do anything to deserve my care? They wouldn't matter. Sakura does the most right now."

    Fierce loyalty for someone that would do the same for her. There is no doubt in her heart that Sakura was the closest thing she had to a sister. It was someone she trusted, that she loved dearly and to the fullest. If she was in trouble, then Caren would rush up to help her up. It was her duty, her prerogative.

    "That's rather passionate of you."

    Caren paused, a frown landing on her face as she finished hearing those words. 'Passionate'? She was only being truthful about it.

    "What specifically? Caring for a friend?"

    "Going out of your way, putting your life in danger- This is quite odd for someone like you?"

    "That's because it's Sakura," The girl argued back, as if bringing up an absolute fact. "She is my best friend, father. And if anything happened to her, I would be rather crossed with the poor soul that decided to cast itself unto the oblivion born from my machinations."

    Kirei stared at his daughter for a while and… he smiled. He reached out and Caren almost leaned forward as she recognized what he was planning to do. His hand landed atop her head and caressed there.

    "I will not doubt your intentions and skills, daughter of mine. But remember to be wary of trouble. Contact me if needed."

    She nodded. "I won't forget this. And… dad?"

    His posture tightened. "Yes, Caren?"

    "I will call from time to time. Just to… not make you worry too much."

    A nod. "Thank you, daughter."

    The train was soon to start going and, after an awkward and brief hug, the girl boarded it through the nearest entry point and sought a seat for herself. No one tried to sit anywhere near her. Maybe it was because the train itself was empty and thus allowing the few people using it to take some 'private' seats for themselves… but it didn't matter.

    She had her luggage set down, some magazines to read as she went through the hassle of the trip and made plans about what kind of possible 'group' Sakura was currently facing. Good people? Neutral individuals? She doubted those were bad individuals, not when Sakura could pick up that kind of trouble quite easily. Caren hummed as she noticed that she received a new message from the girl she was thinking about, with the plum-haired teen sending her… pictures of the gang members she was currently living with. She had already seen Giorno's appearance, so she wasn't really that surprised by it, but Caren stopped over one in particular that caught her attention. Eyes slowly widening, she couldn't help but actually frown at the specific picture.

    'Leone Abbacchio'.

    Have I seen this man before?

    It was clear she had seen this face before. But where? And why did it seem so familiar so suddenly?

    Instead of brainstorming this any further as she couldn't recollect any thoughts tied to this, the white-haired girl forwarded the picture and the name to her father in a single message.

    'Is he someone tied to the Hortensia?'

    Maybe it was a wrong assumption, but Caren had been told many times now that anyone that lived in Italy with silver-hair and golden eyes was possibly tied to the Hortensia family. It was such a rare feature that it was even more common than finding out they were from a foreign family. Maybe she found a part of the family she had seen before somehow? More questions, but her father had yet to visualize the message. He probably left his phone back home… and he was going to serve a function just after dinner, so he was going to turn up around midnight or even later if he was asked to deal with the midnight function. Well, she hoped that the next day was going to bring her some new clues on the matter. After yawning and shifting herself comfortably with the Shroud of Saint Magdalene, Caren started to rest but not outright sleep. Eyes open, but close to actually shut completely, the girl pondered on the next few days. Was this the adventure she had been waiting for?

    She really hoped so, she really wanted to do something 'different' than the usual trip around the peninsula.

    ----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d----------

    AN

    And so the 'changes' starts. Sakura was prohibited from taking part in the test because it would invalidate it for Giorno. So, he does what he knows best: being as 'mom' as EMIYA.
     
  10. Threadmarks: Meet the Gang, Part 2
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 5: Meet the Gang, Part 2

    To say that Abbacchio was intrigued by the current ‘visitor/watcher’ to their gang, it would be an understatement.

    Sakura Kujo wasn’t a normal girl, that’s what he got from a quick glance and what Bruno’s overall behavior told him. He was even more stunned when he realized that the reason why she was there was that his boss failed to kill the kid behind Luca’s death and actually recruited him. From the confident way Bruno described the young man, Leone thought he was going to be a fine addition to balance the cast of morons that made up most of the gang.

    Sadly, his prediction proved to be right… and wrong. Never in his whole life would have he imagined to find someone with potential which also strutted around with such a stupid dream. ‘Doing the right thing’? This wasn’t the place that demanded it. And he hated how Giorno Giovanna completely believed this to the point of making it an embodiment of himself. He was so full of himself about it, that it just pissed off Abbacchio. It didn’t help how the rest of the gang was so accepting of the new guy.

    Narancia was too busy behaving like a giddy pup in his efforts to befriend Sakura to really pay any attention, with the girl huffing and puffing at his eccentric mannerism. Meanwhile Mista was being his jovial self and Fugo had no reason to be pissed at the fellow blond… yet. In a way, he could see the rest of the group being endeared to the rookie due to his drive, which in a way reminded Leone of Bruno’s own determined mindset when it came to leading them around and reigning in any sort of mistakes they were about to make.

    Still, the former police officer was unwilling to give any mercy to the infuriating young man. So, in a move that he would later on regard as infantile and degrading to himself more than others, he decided to… offer some ‘warm’ tea to the young man. Mista had to hold himself from laughing, but the deed was almost done as he offered the steamy cup to the partly-aware new member. But before Giorno could pick or decide what to do, here he was reminded of one element his mind had failed to register and take under consideration. Sakura was Giorno’s ‘cousin’, and she was rather involved in his well-being. A small hand reached for the cup and… proceeded to pour its content atop his head. It was a sudden move from the young lady that not only stunned him, but also affected the mood of the entire group.

    Everyone was laughing minus Bruno, Giorno and Sakura herself. Narancia was laughing the hardest, but Mista and Fugo were not that far from competing. His anger flared at the humiliation, but the stare from Bucciarati told him all: Leone had set himself up for it. Regardless of any response he could come up with to demand some ‘reparation’, he knew that he had been tricked damn well. He could have stopped her himself, but failed to see the issue fast enough to intervene. It pissed him off even more, but he couldn’t exactly blame the girl more than himself.

    Abbacchio had let her do that, and that was what he got in exchange for being rather passive about it all. Instead of snapping and making a greater mockery of what he was appearing at the moment, Leone decided to merely return to the bathroom and go through some hair-cleaning before getting back as the stench of urine was becoming way too unpleasant to endure. A sigh left his lips before he set himself to go through this process as quickly as possible. Not exactly the ideal development, but he could now think without having to plan out murderous retaliations on the spot. But as he was distracted, his mind decided to play tricks on him as he remembered a memory that he had long forgotten.

    One where he was teased for messing up like it happened in this situation, except it was more on the lines of the individual helping him by the end of that whole debacle. The former police officer could still recall the time he was eight at the time, and that he had been playing by the park with some of his friends and ended up all dirty with mud and dirt sticking by his clothes and exposed skin. Mostly because he played some fake fights with a couple of his friends, and the terrain was mostly wet due to the water, but that wasn’t what really made him think of that time. A soft giggle, one that lacked any maliciousness as it was accompanied by some kind words that had reached deep into his soul. It was a melodious and suave voice.

    “Oh my... aren’t you a bit messy?” The beautiful lady inquired, a lone eye visible as the other one was covered by an eye patch. “Do you want me to help you with it? I have some bandages and water to offer.”

    Confusion. Why would a young woman be wandering around with bandages of all possible objects? It had really surprised him at the time, and even at the present stage of his life, he could tell that it had to have been a red flag of sorts. For a time, he suspected it was the young man escorting the lady that had been responsible for the need for bandages. But then, as he looked back at the scene, he could tell the man was too calm and protective of the young woman to be behind that kind of abuse. No, it had to be something else. He looked deeper into that scene, and he thought about her appearance.

    Short silver hair and golden eyes… just like his own hair and eyes. Her frame was slim and skinny, not boney but definitely unhealthily thin. She was wearing a large coat, which was partly open to reveal she had a simple sleeveless white dress underneath and… some bloodied bandage wrapped around her leg. Still, he accepted back then. As a kid that normally didn’t get the lecture from his parents to not talk with strangers, he didn’t see any issue in allowing the kind-looking girl to act and make sure that his face was clean at best. She was trembling a bit, which further worried the child version of himself which proceeded to do more of the job considering her condition. Her breathing was unstable, and she was soon forced to sit by a bench as she couldn’t do much more due to her sickness. Nothing contagious, but it was slowly killing her.

    Her name was Claudia, and it was the first time Leone had the chance to meet someone that was this nice. A ‘good woman’, he thought with a bit of a blush. She wasn’t the most gorgeous, but her fragility added a sense of inner delight that made him think of a little doe that wanted to be petted on her head. She wanted to feel and give affection wherever she went. At the same time, her ‘husband’ was more of the opposite. Tough, stern and quite uncaring of the fact his wife had stopped to pick up a child off the park and have a conversation with him. But Abbacchio at the time saw no issue-

    In fact, he felt quite happy to have made a friend out of an adult. She was… chatty. That was the best way to describe how most of the talk was driven by the young woman. She was smiling so kindly and sweetly that he just couldn’t help but be compelled to mostly listen rather than drop his own inputs on the random topics he was subjected to. How is the weather? How old are you? Do you visit the park frequently? Are you playing with other kids or on your own? As he looked back at it as an adult, he felt embarrassed at how silly he was as a child to be led around like that, but… then he remembered a few elements that he had never questioned much about due to how odd those felt.

    Really odd.

    “You know, I didn’t tell Kirei just yet but… he is going to be a papa. I… I’m bearing a child.”

    His eyes widened in surprise at the shocking news. Why didn’t she tell this to her husband? And why to him?

    “Really?”

    Her smile widening at the awe in his voice. “Yes. But I have yet to know if it will be a boy or a girl. I guess I wouldn’t mind having a daughter the most.”

    “Oh? And do you have a name for… you know, the baby?”

    Claudia giggled. “Not yet. Since it’s too early to know if it’s going to be male or female, we decided to hold back. But… Can you help me with this?”

    The boy frowned. “What about?”

    “Well, I’m not good at names and, since Kirei will definitely allow me to pick a name for a daughter. Can you give me some suggestions?”

    Abbacchio opened his mouth in confusion. How was he supposed to be good at picking names for kids that had yet to be born? It had stumped him at first due to the pressure he suddenly felt drawn into… but then he remembered a conversation he heard from his mother a few months earlier. It had all come from a question presented by the religion teacher at school.

    If you were born in the opposite sex, how would you have been called? Did your parents think of a name?

    “Well, if you had been born a girl, we would have… I mean, I would have called you ‘Caren’,” Her mother hummed calmly, a hint of sadness passing her face as she thought of her husband, with Leone’s father having passed away while serving the police force and fighting gangs. There wasn’t much known about him, except for the fact that he left his family many years before he met with his future wife, and the possibility he had to change name since he had been part of those ‘noble groups’ in the capital. Leone didn’t ever bother much about it, but here he was, giving advice to someone that needed a name for a possible daughter.

    “How about ‘Caren’?”

    Claudia blinked slowly at the offer. “Caren? Any particular reason?”

    “W-Well, mom once told me that had I been born a girl, I would have named that.”

    A blink, then her lone eye widened. “Is that so? I guess it would mean a lot to her.”

    “She also said that dad would have let her. I think I’ve read it means… the one who?”

    “I think so myself,” The woman agreed with a smile. “I know she will love those that need help the most.”

    A small smile appeared on Leone’s face, but he took a moment to think about the discussion… only for his silence to be broken up by the woman herself.

    “I’m… sorry, Leone. I have to go now before my parents… Well, behave as silly as usual.”

    He felt sad at the news, but he nodded at her. “It’s fine.”

    “Ah, don’t worry. I’m sure we will eventually meet. Or if it’s not me, then it will be my little Caren,” Claudia said to try and cheer him up. “Which is why I would like you to make a promise to me. Just… something for the future.”

    “What is it?”

    “Well, since you told me that you’re going to be a police officer in the future, my little Leone. Can you please… protect my child if they end up in your care?”

    The promise came out of nowhere, but it played on something that Abbacchio had long craved to hear. Acceptance. Not even his mother had liked his

    He blinked. “Of course, why wouldn’t I?”

    “Well, they might be afflicted by my own sickness and I know they will struggle a lot from time to time. I want someone like you, a good-hearted young man, to help them if they need it.”

    “I will. I will take care of them if necessary.” He felt urged to accept. If he couldn’t take on this duty, how could he expect for his dream to ever be taken seriously? Plus, Claudia was too kind and the chances of this child ending up with not many friends just annoyed the boy.

    The memory ended with Claudia’s relieved giggles and…

    Knock knock!

    The sounds of knocking shook Abbacchio awake. He blinked, realizing he had through the task of washing off the shampoo and drying up his air automatically, his mind distracted by the strangely vivid memory. It’s been so long but… maybe the new guy triggered that? How long has it been since he had last thought about that promise, about when he was actually praised for his dream? Too long, he grimly answered, and now he was getting those moments of daydreaming for nothing. Shaking his head, he went to check and he realized it was Bruno. Not only that, but he saw Mista and Narancia walking with a couple of bags on themselves.

    “We’re moving?”

    Bruno nodded. “Polpo died. From what the guards could find, it was suicide.”

    Being someone that had interacted with the now-deceased Capo, Leone knew the bastard wasn’t planning his own death. Not in these conditions and definitely not when he was enjoying life to the fullest without any limitations. Why would he kill himself? There had to be something else happening, perhaps someone from La Squadra?

    “Our goal for the time being is to retrieve his secret treasury. It should roughly amount to four billion Lire,” The squad leader added, his words gaining a surprised look from Leone.

    “The girl is coming too?”

    “She will. And I trust you to not misbehave due to some silly grudge.”

    He had no grudge, Abbacchio had wanted to say, but he kept quiet and merely nodded. “And how do we know that the treasure-”

    “I helped him hide it when he needed it. I wasn’t his favorite for nothing, Abbacchio,” Bucciarati interrupted, making it clear that they were in a hurry. “I suggest you rush to your run and retrieve all that you need. We might be intercepted by others.”

    A nod, and Leone rushed to get his things ready, still wondering how old would ‘Caren’ be at this stage. She definitely wasn’t even aware of him, not when he had heard Claudia had killed herself and her father didn’t seem to have cared long enough to remember his name. So, it was only a memory for himself, of why he decided to be this and why he still hoped to do good things for those that deserved it.

    But there was no chance in hell he was going to actually be kind with the rookie. No matter the stakes at hand.

    ---------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-------

    Florence was much different than how she remembered it.

    The city had grown in size and ‘quality’. Times have changed since she last wandered to this settlement, to when she decided to turn one of the few forests nearby in her sleeping ground. She took a moment to actually wander around and see how things have changed since last time she was awake, to know how to ‘behave’ without causing a ruckus in her wake.

    Humming around, the girl was pampered by a few women nearby. She was ‘a beauty’ as they were quick to address her as, and left her candy, chocolate bars and other sweet treats which she happily took and made her rations for her departure. Things had changed a lot… But with all good things, there were also new kinds of rotten apples that festered civilization.

    The blonde was wandering through one of those less-favorable streets, knowing already from a quick sniff that this was where scum lived and tried to make a living from bad deeds. Just as she turned the corner, she was ambushed by three… idiots. That’s the best way to call them as they attacked her in broad daylight, armed with a couple of switch-blades and with the expectation she had money on herself.

    After all, the girl didn’t exactly look the kind of individual to have that kind of important resource on herself. It was going to be a bit tough finding a way to leave the city without proper money, but she was going to manage. She really hoped they weren’t after her candy… or she would really be frustrated and more vicious in delivering proper punishment. She didn’t kill them, but kicking them between their legs seemed to do the trick.

    They had a couple of money papers on themselves, giving her a budget to work with to get to her destination. But as she started considering if it was best to get on a bus or in a train aimed to the southern regions of the peninsula, her musing was abruptly interrupted by a familiar hum. Someone was now standing beside her and… she knew he just ‘appeared’ out of thin air. In a way, she was glad no one else was around to make things go loud at the development, but she was nonetheless frustrated by his arrival. He stood as a tall human, the only telling signs of his vampirism being the sharper fangs and the red eyes that calmly studied the tariffs. He was slightly nervous since he was relying on a small roof above their heads to protect himself from the sun lights raining from above.

    “Things sure have gone more expensive than I remember,” Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg pointed out aloud. “I don’t think it will be convenient for you to leave the city just yet.”

    A blink. “Why not? I have something to check.”

    Was he trying to deny her some amusement after this lengthy slumber? She was bored and tired of waiting for others. She wanted to do things rather than let others do these for her.

    “And you will be happy to know they will come to you,” The Wizard Marshal argued softly. “Young lady, I don’t mind if you wander the city, but if you leave and your presence is alerted by others aware of your situation, I might be unable to assist you against any attack from the Church.”

    The girl scoffed. “As if I will ever be worried about that.”

    “You should. And I hope you understand that angering the Church would mean having to deal with the chance of ‘the girl and the shadow’ having to relocate on multiple occasions to prevent being caught in the cross-fire.”

    That was actually a good point. The last thing she needed was to mess things up with her impatience. She might be bored, but she was a snot-nosed brat as many had called her. She was better, she was meant for a higher role…

    And she wanted to play with that girl and her shadow so desperately.

    “I guess I can wait. For a while.”

    “They will come to Florence,” Zelretch confirmed with a confident tone. “And with that, I’ll take my leave.”

    “...Did you miss me?” The girl inquired softly, the man stopping from jumping back to his office through the Kaleidoscope.

    He sighed, looked to the side and down to see her eyes. “Why wouldn’t I miss you, Princess?”

    Her lips twitched in annoyance at that title, but she felt glad that she wasn’t forgotten, especially by the one that slain her parent.

    But for now, Arcueid Brunestud will have to enjoy Florence as much as she could since she had to wait for that meeting. She was going to get it, and then… It will be fun. The greatest fun she had in centuries.

    ---------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d---------

    AN

    I am of the notion that when a writer has to connect two similar universes, they have to look prior to the story’s present and create those bonds and connections that would make sense to add within the context rather than keep things the same for everything minus the plot. So here Abbacchio does have a connection to the Hortensia family… but of which degree and extent? Caren’s arrival shall shed light on the matter.

    Sakura’s POV next time. She is about to shine in something she is unique to have that will prevent some serious threat.
     
    Ajlove, mechlionzet and caspian1a like this.
  11. Threadmarks: Meet the Gang, Part 3
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 6: Meet the Gang, Part 3

    It was morning, and Sakura sure didn't like the idea of stealing from the dead, no matter how much of a bastard this Polpo sounded to be from Giorno's own narration.

    Sure, this money was necessary in a way to prevent issues with the rest of the gang now that Bucciarati was meant to retrieve the money and give it back to Passione, but it still felt like stealing since the money should have just been returned to innocent people.

    Her morals, sadly, weren't meant to be heard or even accepted. Not in a situation where pragmatism truthfully didn't care about those. Thus, while she had many reasons to lament their current situation, the plum-haired girl knew better than to waste air in this situation and focus more on the strange conversation she was having with Narancia.

    The slightly-older teen was of average height and gangly figure. His childish face, coupled with his messy dark hair with bangs over his eyes could easily bring up the wild and unruly nature within his personality. At first, Narancia had given off the impression of a girl.

    A girl with a masculine and athletic body. The real elements that gave off that awkward wrong assumption was tied to his girly face and some outfit choices that, from an angle, could easily create that erroneous perspective. Sporting a dark, slim tank top and pants, he also wore lighter accessories which included an orange bandana, wrist bands, and a short skirt.

    "I'm just saying that it's a cool dance. Mista and Fugo say so."

    "But still, I don't want to say it's not because I've never seen it but… 'torture dance'."

    He chuckled nervously at her honesty. "Well, it's named like that because it's generally used to torture bad people. When it's done by me together with the others. It's incredibly effective."

    Was it? Sakura wasn't up to subjected to it regardless of the brief coaxing from Narancia himself to give it a shot. In fact, it was way too early to even consider that kind of psychological abuse onto herself. The plan to reach Polpo's treasure was simple.

    Pick a boat, get to Capri and retrieve it from the location where Bruno knew his former boss had left it. The real issue was that any news about bosses' deaths spread fast and there was a chance that other members of Passione were going to try and get to it before them. Competition was favored within the gang, no matter how unhealthy it was to inner affairs, so it was clear they were going to face 'supposed allies' along the way.

    Still, first step. Bruno mentioned that he had enough money to get a small boat meant for a calm and discreet trip from the port out into Capri's beaches. A small thing with little detail put into it compared to many others of the same kind but… as Sakura glanced at it, she couldn't help but find something about it was wrong. Especially when Bruno told them about a curious element when he gave the name of the boat.

    "We will pick Lagoon 2 since Lagoon 1 is being repaired."

    It sounded fairly simple- no, it was meant to be a simple and insignificant detail. The only reason it remained within her mind for as long as it did was mostly tied to her passion for sea-faring businesses. Fishes, boats, submarines and all that kind of stuff she inherited as an interest from her adoptive father. Sakura didn't have a 'problem' as Caren would normally say about her constant need to pull trustworthy people into learning about the sea and its natural beauty, she just had a healthy curiosity about it. And yet, the plum-haired girl found an issue about this very detail when they approached the right boat. An issue that was actually tied to the empty spot where Lagoon 1 was meant to stay anchored to be repaired on a later date.

    "Mr. Bucciarati, the boat. Something is wrong about it."

    Her voice came out clear, holding a degree of seriousness as it became evident that something was really wrong about it as Lagoon 1 wasn't there and… it should have been. Sure, there were instances where boats were removed from this section of the port if the damage was that extensive, but looking at other possible cases like this one, it just didn't feel like this was the truth.

    All empty spots had some tags near those saying 'Attention! Ship 'Insert Name' has been relocated for long-term reparations'. In the empty spot where Lagoon 1 was meant to be, there was nothing of the sort.

    Mista frowned, glancing at the boat with a confused look. "What about it? It seems like a normal boat."

    "The boat is… technically fine, but where is Lagoon 1?" Sakura elaborated, gaining a couple of odd looks from the rest of the group.

    Fugo walked to the side, checking the empty spot where the aforementioned ship was meant to have been stored. "It's not… here? And there is no sign to say it was taken away."

    "Which means that it had been either stolen or… something else happened to it," Giorno guessed with a perplexed look.

    "That's… not alright," Leone muttered quietly, his attention back on the boat they were meant to board.

    "Narancia, bring out Aerosmith and check for anyone inside the boat," Bruno ultimately ordered, the young man nodding as his Stand, which took the form of a monoplane fighter aircraft, manifested and took flight from him so that Narancia could use its secondary ability. A small red device manifested in front of the User's eyes, giving him what looked to be a radar of what his Stand was picking up. It took very little for a strangely 'big' signal popped into the screen and Narancia nodded at his capo.

    "There is someone in there, Bruno."

    The gang was instantly alarmed by this situation. How did they find out which boat they were meant to use if they had just got it?

    "Bribery," Bruno hummed dryly, knowing that, while the owner of these boats had been honest about Lagoon 2 being the closest available, he definitely got told to give them this one as this was where the ambush had been set up for them. It was also quite flagrant that the one ambushing them was confident in their skills of dealing with them despite the numerical advantage.

    There were a few names that came up to him, but only a few he knew would definitely prove more frustrating than others. And that was for those he knew which Stands they had. There were a couple of 'unknown factors' which could easily be behind this current mess.

    "Narancia, can you gun them down?" Bucciarati inquired of the teen.

    "… I don't think so."

    Aerosmith's bullets weren't meant to pierce through sturdy surfaces like the one within the ship. Sakura knew of this since Narancia wasn't one to keep things like that a secret. Yet, it was still an effective method to… do something drastic as she would soon learn.

    As the rest of the group remained watchful over the scene, Sakura's gaze followed Bruno as the man walked up to a small storage depot where a few gasoline tanks were. He picked one and dragged it up to where the ship was. With a single motion, he threw the tank into the middle of the lower section of the boat and walked back.

    "At my signal, Narancia, you shall shoot the gasoline tank."

    The sudden order caught everyone off-guard.

    "But Bruno-"

    "It's alright, we will buy a new boat if this means taking care of the fool that decided to try and put a trap in this one," Bruno interrupted Mista's protest, giving a quick look and a wink to Narancia. The young man's eyes widened at the gesture, but nodded as a smile formed on his face. It was all a ploy, at least that's what Sakura could tell from that silent interaction. "We can't afford to let anyone close to the treasure. So, a little money wasted will not matter. One..."

    Sakura blinked, her eyes moving back to the boat.

    "Two..."

    Everyone tensed up at what will ensue from that trick. Maybe the gangster inside was going to see through that lie and make things more difficult on them. Much to her relief, that's not what happened. Quite the contrary actually.

    "And three-"

    "Gyah! I don't want to- DIE?!"

    The exclamation was loudly expressed as two strange phenomena unfolded. First, the boat itself groaned as Lagoon 1 suddenly manifested from Lagoon 2, the hidden ship suddenly ejected to the side where it was meant to be; then, a panicking man emerged from Lagoon 2 and tried to jump back into the pier… only for Sticky Fingers by the neck.

    The dangerous man was of average build and height. He kept his green hair attached in an odd-looking ponytail that pointed straight back before curling at the end. His outfit was made by a long sleeve collarless shirt with spikes on his shoulders, sleeves, and back. His long trousers reached down and covered his feet, acting as a pair of boots from the looks of it.

    As Bucciariati's Stand pulled his fist away, it revealed a zip around the foe's neck which suddenly unraveled and detached the man's head from his body. Shivering in fear at the situation, the green-haired mobster glanced to the side as Bucciarati approached him with a calm and collected pace, grasping him from his hair and pulling him up.

    Bruno delivered a sigh as he stood eye-to-eye before their supposed foe. "Mario Zucchero, I didn't know someone from Rome would join us here today."

    "B-Bucciarati. L-Let me go."

    "You know better than me that this isn't going to happen, Mario," The calm capo remarked. "The rules are clear. You came here, trying to kill us for Polpo's treasure. I think you will stay with us and tell me more about your plans."

    Gritting his teeth, Zucchero was unable to do anything as his body was tied up and thrown into Lagoon 2, with Mista, Giorno and Fugo keeping watch over it while Abbacchio and Bucciarati tried to interrogate Zucchero. There was much to ask out from the now bodiless head, starting with how he had learned of their plans to take a boat to Capri and how he knew of Polpo's treasure being somewhere in Capri.

    As much as the former boss was known to have loose-lips with some secrets, his treasure was known to be the only thing beyond their leader's identity to never be mentioned. He just never brought it up if not when it came to those members he could rely on. Bucciarati was the only one he trusted since he had been the one that helped hide away the treasure, and that trust wasn't misplaced with how things turned out.

    Much to their growing displeasure, the hardened gangster wasn't one that cracked no matter how rough they were with the verbal and physical abuse. Before too long, the head was ditched back into their sights… but it fell right near to where Narancia and Sakura were sitting. A massive grin appeared on the teen's face as he had 'just the right thing' in mind to get the man to talk. Soon, Narancia was setting up his stereo with odd music and as the song started, the young man was dancing to it's insane tune.

    Is this… what is this?

    Sakura had expected many things about that torture dance, imagining it being either too atrocious with its step or the music too illegible and difficult to understand. But what she got instead was worse. A good kind of worse at that as the song started to get catchy after a while. Fugo and Mista were instantly captured by the tune and were flawlessly following Narancia's lead with his bizarre steps and moves.

    In the matter of a few seconds, the plum-haired girl was now trying to follow their own steps, getting a few amused reactions from the trio of young men as she failed miserably to follow their pattern, It was just too difficult to keep up with due to how detached each step was and how flexible one had to be to make through the dance without any issues. Giorno tried too, but while he had a better grasp of it, he still failed to get all the steps right.

    Despite the frustrating teasing, Sakura and Giorno accepted Narancia's offer to teach her how to do it properly as they were on their way to Capri. At least they had a good way to pass their time there as the rest of the gang minus Bruno was engaged in this very activity, while Zucchero was subjected to endless torture dances, some done right, other done horribly and goodish.

    Sakura might have been a little less pleased with the occupation taken by the group, but she sure could tell that they weren't terrible people by the end of the day. That and the fact her body was a bit more flexible than she thought. Maybe she should have really accepted Great-Grandpa's offer to train in Hamon with Great-Great-Grandmother.

    And as the journey to Capri started with quite an interesting development, someone else waited within the small island with a bored expression due to her current situation.

    ---------d-d-d-d--------

    Trish Una was definitely despising her current restrictions, but she couldn't do much about it. Capri was such a lame location to check out.

    Maybe it was her tiredness that made her this much stingy on the situation, but she knew better to whine at the moment. Pericolo might look like an old man, but he was sterner than Polpo and she knew that, in a way, it was a good thing.

    While Polpo had been compliant to her requests, no matter how childish and expensive those were, but she knew the overly-obese man had done so out of physical attraction than loyalty to his own boss. It had been quite unpleasant, so the whole change of pace with someone like Pericolo felt particularly good and bad at the same time.

    Good because the weary short man wasn't interested in her beyond as a person of interest to keep an eye on. Bad because he refused to comply with any minimal request if this wasn't tied to what was necessary to her like simple water, some snacks and public bathrooms to handle any needs to be alone.

    It was still an improvement, Trish admitted to herself, as she was being treated as she had expected early on when she was taken in by Polpo. It wasn't the worst, yet she was now a proper prisoner as far as she could tell.

    The only expectation she had right now was that the mop she had to use didn't break. Yes, to prevent anyone from catching her, Pericolo had her go through the hassle of being the janitor for a public bathroom near home. It had been quite the unusual imposition, but one that surprisingly paid her off well. Literally.

    The old man was kind enough to let her get a wage due to the labor. She might be 15, but she knew that the situation dictated she had to work to protect her identity and get enough cash to keep herself afloat in case the new group meant to protect her failed to arrive or died after taking her in their care.

    For now her main focus was to clean, clean and… clean. No matter how disgusting it was and how horrible the conditions of the public bathroom would get each day, she knew that it could be worse for her. Trish knew it could, especially when her mother made it clear that her life was in peril for merely existing.

    Her father, the Boss of Passione, was a man with many enemies despite his face being far from known. He was an unknown name in her birth certificate, and the source of interest that had drained out by the time her mother passed away. She could still remember the times she would just sit by her mother's lap, looking at the kind brunette and pestering the poor woman about him.

    "Who is my father?"

    "A handsome man."

    "But who is he?"

    "A busy man."

    "But… who?"

    "He is someone. And it's better we don't distract him from his work."

    The many times she asked her single parent would just result in that never-ending deflection which left her younger self even more annoyed. All kids at school had a father and a mother, while she got just a mother that would only let her know that her father was alive, busy and handsome. But that wasn't something she cared about. She wanted her father, as a child, that was one of her greatest wishes. To have a complete family.

    Right now? That dream had been ignored for so long and heard so little about to be legally considered dead and long buried into the deepest pit of her 'don't care, don't ask' hole within her mind.

    Trish just didn't care if she ended up with her father, which should technically protect her from any kind of trouble, but she knew she didn't have much of a choice due to her parentage and the many individuals that wanted to take a shot at the leader of the strongest Mafia group in Italy by killing off what was left of his family.

    So, as much as she wanted to know who was the bastard that ditched her and her mother, Trish was more worried at living through the infamous reputation behind his name and deeds. She just wanted reasons, an explanation, maybe even a free shot at slapping him left and right. Punching and kicking too. But for now, she had to wait and keep all that frustration inside for the time she would need to use it all in a single moment.

    Of course, knowing her luck, this just wasn't going to be an easy thing for her to achieve but… she had a good feeling she was going to get what she wanted by the end of this crazy odyssey.

    ---------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d---------

    AN

    Ah, if only things were that easy…
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  12. CodeZerone

    CodeZerone Know what you're doing yet?

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    Ahh the glorious tortue dance scene, what a magnificient perfomance that is.
    It is nice to see Sakura being able to be happy like this, even if the current situation has some bad.
    And yes, you really should have tried to learn Hamon, even if you wouldn't have gotten far in it.
     
    JBukharin likes this.
  13. Kreuzritter

    Kreuzritter Getting sticky.

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    I look forward to if/when Caren drags these idiots into her father's "Soup Kitchen"

    also, we need a fanart gif of Sakura and Grunkle GioGio failing at the dance
     
    Ajlove and JBukharin like this.
  14. Threadmarks: The Treasure in Pink, Part 1
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 7: The Treasure in Pink, Part 1

    The boat finally reached its destination, and Bruno decided to take a few precautionary steps before getting the treasure.

    Giorno wasn’t sure why this was a must, but he decided to keep quiet and listen. Why he knew the basis of how criminality worked, he didn’t know much on the way the mafia handled that kind of delicate operation. He was still a rookie when it came to deeds of this kind, and he saw it more as an opportunity to learn and grow out of these experiences rather than be stunted by his own boredom and thirst for action. It would come to him, it was destiny for him to see violence before victory… So why rush it?

    “Zucchero is known to have a partner. A more level-headed individual that is known to be the ‘brain’ of the group if needed,” The leader of the group elaborated. “Thus, we need to find him. Mista-”

    “Yes boss?” The gunslinger inquired, ready for the task he was soon to receive.

    “You will reach this address,” Bucciarati continued, handing out a small piece of paper with the address written on it. “While… Giorno will make sure that our target is distracted. Be wary that he isn’t as gullible as Zucchero. He will put up some more resistance.”

    The blond paused over the exchange, his glance briefly poised over the unconscious body owned by Mario Zucchero. Abbacchio had been particularly aggressive with his means of interrogation but failed to crack the attempted saboteur due to his inability to ‘break before bastards’, while Bruno’s cold-hearted but calm approach managed to easily shred through the mental resilience shown by the older gangster. The result was now that they knew that Zucchero hadn’t come to try and steal Polpo’s treasure alone. His partner, Sale, had been involved in this kind of affair and was waiting for his ‘friend’ back on the island. It wouldn’t have been safe to try and approach the location of the money without cleaning up any threat along the way. And that’s why they had to kill Sale before being set for their current goals.

    A nod later, and Mista was off to take care of the last obstacle left between them and Polpo’s impressive treasure. Still, there was a minor issue as the young Giovanna would immediately learn with Bruno’s own request to sit with him and Abbacchio in front of the radio system of the boat. As the rest of the group remained on the boat, Giorno was soon instructed on how to man a radio the spot by a serious-sounding Bruno and an annoyed Abbacchio. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly experienced with this kind of technology. The commands were far more complex than expected, but nothing that he couldn’t learn with some good advice. From time to time Sakura would drop some words about it, having some basic knowledge of this specific device herself since her father tended to use it a lot during research on the field.

    The notion that his father’s enemy was actually his ‘ally’ by relation felt incredibly odd. Not unpleasant, but easily away from fully positive news. Sakura was still nice, and she spoke highly of the man that is Jotaro Kujo. He always imagined his father the way his mother remembered him: ambitious. And she had been right… in most part. Dio Brando was an ambitious monster, something that shocked him when he learned of this from Sakura. Still, Dio Brando… wasn’t him. He developed an ambitious plan not for the sake of dominating others, but to help.

    Sakura admitted that his goals were purer than Dio’s and that he shouldn’t be tied back by that kind of fright. In a way, he could understand. It had been so simple to ignore his mother and his step-father, so why should it be difficult to do the same with… him? He thought about it, and thus Giorno conceded that it wouldn’t be wrong to be ambitious to also cleanse the tainted roots of his bloodline. This ‘Brando’ was more of a Joestar than anything else. And maybe he was worrying himself too much about a possible encounter with him, but for now his real concern was elsewhere.

    Giorno eventually grasped the purpose of the various buttons he was meant to use, and soon he got hold of the line which the target was going to use to keep in contact with. Soon the line was joined by the target, Sale, and Giorno did his best to mimic not only Zucchero’s voice but also his speech pattern. A boisterous and hotheaded bastard, that wouldn’t be something too difficult for Giorno to come up with due to the experience he had with this kind of person. He spoke, trying to sound distracted, loopy, kind of unable to keep attention on the matter beyond the current objective: money.

    “I got them. I swear, you were just lying about how tough they were,” The blond muttered dully, catching a sigh out of his current interlocutor.

    You should have just waited for me rather than ran off like that. You still owe me for the fright you gave me a while ago,” The partner rebuked with an irritated voice, clearly failing to spot the difference between Giorno and his now unconscious partner. “Seriously, leaving the car still running with me inside? Were you trying to kill me or what?

    “Bah, you’re just a fighetta(1) if you really crapped your pants for that.”

    Everyone would be scared of being suddenly left to die by a mad bastard such as yourself, you utter stronzo(2).

    Narancia held back a snicker at the crass exchange, with an irked Fugo glaring at the device while smacking the teen’s back of the head. Sakura frowned harshly at the radio, while Abbacchio and Bruno ignored the brazen language to focus on the success of this trick. Soon Giorno took a pause, looking to the side as he saw Bucciarati giving him a look and a nod. Mista was in position, and it was time to have Sale’s full attention on him as the gunslinger took care of his objective. So, how about raising the heat some more?

    “Well, if you really want to get something back about it, how about we play it off. Poker or Blackjack?”

    “Ah, why the fuck would I want to play some gamble you can cheat to win? Plus, what would you get out of it, more money?”

    “Meh, I knew it. You were always a scaredy little turd, but now this confirms it.”

    Oh, fuck you, you incredible-

    Sale didn’t get the chance to finish that sentence as three shots rang from the other side of the call as Mista struck at the opportunity offered by the fake call. Giorno remained quiet, hoping that the assassination had gone through as intended. Soon he heard a loud thud as something big landed on the ground, with softer ones, footsteps, slowly approaching towards the other radio and the transmitter was picked up.

    Bastard is dead.

    Mista, he thought quickly, not hesitating in passing the transmitter back to Bucciarati.

    “Good work, take what valuable objects he had on himself and get back to the boat.”

    “Gotcha, boss.”

    The call ended and Bruno drew a breath of relief before glancing at Giorno. “An impressive move, Giorno. Your worth is improving thanks to these efforts.”

    A respectful nod. “Thank you, Bruno.”

    Abbacchio snorted, but turned away before anyone could have asked about this kind of reaction. As soon as Narancia understood that it was over, he rushed up to Giorno and begged him to teach him how to mimic other voices, citing some pranks he needed to do on a couple of people. Fugo’s deepening frown and glare told Giorno it was best to avoid getting involved in that kind of matter, and decided to reply that-

    “It’s not exactly something one can replicate. I would say it’s just something I was born to use like this.”

    “Aww, not even some advice, Giogio?”

    ...Giogio? Isn’t that… familiar?

    Blinking at the unexpected nickname, he was saved by Sakura after retrieving a pack of cards out of her jacket’s pocket.

    “Does anyone want to play Sette e Mezzo?”

    The request took them by surprise considering she was a foreigner and she was the one asking for that kind of local game of cards. Still, the shock subsided as the idea of passing the time doing something sounded way better than sitting and thinking. Narancia jumped at the chance, Fugo joined to ‘prevent disasters and make sure the rules were respected’ while Bruno and Abbacchio joined out of boredom from the looks of it. Giorno happily sat down and started to handle the cards, slowly but surely enjoying the little wait before Mista got back. In the meantime, he also learned from Sakura as they played that ‘her friend’ was going to get to Capri quite soon and that she would be… odd. ‘Fun odd’, she argued when Fugo inquired about the kind of oddity this individual was and… Giorno wondered, maybe out of curiosity, what kind of fun oddity was going to be meeting his cousin’s friend.

    Caren Hortensia… and why did that name get a frustrated reaction from Abbacchio each time it was brought up?

    --------d-d-d-d-------

    A slight inconvenience.

    That’s how Caren saw it when someone actually tried to scam her with the intention of stealing her luggage. Here she thought about giving Naples an olive branch ever since someone tried to do the same with her father back when they last visited. She remembered the vicious retaliation at that point, and how her father had taken enough precautions to cover his traces but... this situation had tended into something more tragic than what Kirei Kotomine did a few years ago. Humming quietly as she wandered the now silent halls of the base she just took over, the young faithful girl grimaced over the blood staining her Black Keys, the liquid leaving in small drops off the edges of the blades as she checked to see if every room had been cleaned up.

    Yes, Caren just went on a killing spree and she was happy about the list of kills she got. Of course, not just for the kills (not as much as the other reasons at least… okay, maybe a tiny bit more than the rest), but also because she felt compelled to help those within the buildings, the imprisoned souls, while also freeing Naples from part of the sleazy grasp holding it corrupt and hurting. The poor citizens… ‘Saved’ by a girl from Rome. Amusing, should she start calling herself ‘Balilla’ as a vigilante name?

    Another amusing detail was how it all started with a scumbag trying to trick her into something scandalous. She might be young, but she was tremendously far from stupid. So much that the silver-haired teen had gone through the effort of not only teaching the unfortunate sinner that blocked her path, but also those associated with him within the city. In a sense, she was also to blame. After all, Caren could have just intimidated him to stop and be done with it. But then… she realized an issue with that kind of mindset. Not only would she allow a foul person to live and try the same thing with someone else that couldn’t defend themselves from him, but she also knew that her face would be remembered by the local gang and turned in a target to eliminate for the ‘slight’ she inflicted on their gang.

    Citing Machiavelli, ‘If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared’. Finding the base was simple through some intimidation on her part. Who would have known that being faced by a young girl armed and capable of using sharp blades could draw so much fear out of grown men? Nonetheless, she ventured inside, slicing her ways through aggressors, sinners, hopeless souls and… freed the rest.

    Children that were forced by some binding favors to do some scummy dealings? They were free to go home with part of the money stored inside the building to help their families. Abused prostitutes that were ‘caged’ by the lecherous fools within that place? Given expensive clothes held in some crates by the nearby warehouse to replace their rags and set free to seek help from God by the nearest churches as she felt they would find the light if they accepted God in themselves. The drugs she found together with other trade goods? Caren learned that these crates were highly flammable as soon as her ‘little’ fire saw a fiery explosion rip apart most of the building once she was done setting up some explosives all over the place plus some gasoline she found around.

    Caren huffed at the result of her hard work as she stared at the fire consuming the corpses and the unconscious bodies of those that were part of Passione and had kept operating the base there. A tragic accident, but one that would be shown to be perpetrated by a faceless vigilante. After all, who would be sane enough to push all the blame on a young church girl that looked cute to everyone that spared her a glance? Speaking of cute, Caren’s attention was once more aimed at her current goals and the thoughts that were entertaining her as she got off from the train.

    Sakura was going to Capri, a modest island off the shores of Naples. It was a pleasant tourist destination, but also one of those ‘safe havens’ where the local mafia was known to have set some ‘respectful businesses’ to make the best out of the flow of foreign people coming by. Finding a boat to reach it was slightly tough due to the assumptions she was ‘too young’ to get through, but a quick look at her money made the owner of that section of the docks change his mind and give her a free pass with one of the smaller boats. He was going to move it himself, what a nice man, but he seemed a bit ‘worried’ when she mentioned any attempt to annoy her were going to be met with ‘just retribution’. While also showing one of her Black Keys in the process.

    The journey was going to take just a few hours, enough for them to make it to the nearest docks in Capri while also getting to understand by phone where Sakura was moving next. She had a quick exchange of messages with her friend and… she had to pause a few times when she remembered that there was something that Caren had rightfully kept her in the dark about. Mostly because it wasn’t something she felt confident of bringing up by phone. She had to tell her in person. The fact that the plum-haired girl was taking this trip with… a relative of hers was odd. She wasn’t speaking of Sakura’s cousin, no. Caren was talking about… her relative. Someone that father never told her about and that had left her in the dark for so long. It wasn’t even something he did on purpose as he explained, arguing that this decision came straight from her mother’s last will.

    It was decided to not mention him or even try to drag him back to the family due to some affairs within the Hortensia group which had seen his father leave out of disgust and disinterest for the familial business. It wasn’t like Caren couldn’t blame her deceased uncle for being disappointed by the sternness of his family, not when Caren herself had experienced that kind of unpleasant attitude from her maternal grandparents. And she could easily say that living with her father and grandfather was much easier than that, but also kind of ‘refreshing’. She could understand her father, he understood her, while her previous guardians just couldn’t get anything out of her ‘weird’ attitude without thinking she was doing things on purpose to draw attention to herself.

    Her father knew what to say or do to make her happy, but also teach her about life, about growing tougher and protecting those emotions she was so unsure how to use at times. So, when it came to her uncle and… her cousin, she knew that they had the right to pick their decisions in case she found the latter. He was with Sakura after all and it sure made for an ironic coincidence considering her friend did this trip to find ‘her cousin’ too. What really made this case unique compared to that was that Caren had a solid reason to seek out and see what her cousin wanted to do with their blood relation.

    After all, her cousin was the one from which her mother found a name to give her, and that, Caren knew, meant a lot for her.

    -------d-d-d-d--------

    AN

    Caren joins the gang next time and… ‘About the first section’: The reason why Sale was easily killed was because he had no idea that Zucchero had been captured. In the original timeline he was alerted by Zucchero, and ITTL he didn’t have that advantage. Mista had an easy job in killing the distracted Stand User.

    Of course the next chapter will add new threats to the plot. Let’s just say that Arcueid being awake might have stirred some inactive figures to be moving around and causing messes around the country. And Magi are on the move too…

    Glossary:

    1) Fighetta: Little Pussy (Italian swear word);

    2) Stronzo: Turd (Italian swear word);
     
  15. Threadmarks: The Treasure in Pink, Part 2
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 8: The Treasure in Pink, Part 2

    It was a curious day for a very worried Executor.

    Fixing his glasses, his gaze was aimed at the buildings in the distance as their bus finally reached Florence and… yes, he was outright frightened by what he was meant to do now that he was at destination. Despite his threatening looks, Mr. Dawn was no monster like his fellow Executors. He was a faithful member of the Church, yes, and surprisingly effective in any mission he was sent to. Him and his partner. One would normally question how a man of his pacific mindset was still part of the Burial Agency as the Sixth Saint, but the truth to it was far too complicated or… just plain stupid, as the man was keen to confess when the director wasn't around to glare at him.

    Director Narbeck was an exceptionally dedicated servant of God, there was no doubt about it. But her zealotry sometimes amounted to an impressive cruelty that she eagerly aimed at her own group when not out to slay any heretics. To Mr. Dawn, that cruelty was displayed the best by the way she expressed her 'reasons' to keep such a 'valuable part' of the Agency such as himself. Something that was false in all senses, especially since he always needed someone experienced to be a Saint to escort him around. He was no Kirei Kotomine or Argaleon, he shouldn't be there to handle someone like the Strongest Vampire with minimal backup. Despite the brazen and hotheaded attitude of his current partner, a young man that went by then name Gianmaria Franceschi, Mr. Dawn had no doubt about it: Narbeck wanted his demise, but she wanted it to happen slowly and via mission. Which explained why she was so 'eager' to send him out into deadly missions and… why she would get particularly 'excited' when he would return from those slightly hurt.

    It was dreadful. And embarrassing. He could have found a way to escape her wiles many years ago now, but he was unable to pull the needed words to break his oath. He could. And he wouldn't be punished. His hard work had been praised by Cardinal Noi many times now, and the man had made it clear he would be willing to vouch for a peaceful retirement for him. No tricks, no sudden assassinations, only Mr. Dawn getting his long overdue rest after a decade or two of bowing to superiors, dodging death and doing a fine job through it all. He was hopeful that it could happen after this one. After all, it wasn't a common thing to face someone like Arcueid Brunestud. What really made the task not as simple as it sounds was that Narbeck didn't want her dead. She wanted her captured alive.

    Despite how bold he sounded, even young Gianmaria knew this was no easy task. Far from it. In fact, in a way, Mr. Dawn knew that Narbeck had said this just for the sake of finally ending him. Why not set him against the worst kind of threat and see if his luck got him out of that situation once more? Like a mouse left alone with a pack of cats, Mr. Dawn knew he had a single choice. A direct confrontation couldn't work. He had to step back from that mindset and discover the girl's pattern. Surely the Crimson Princess followed a determined daily pattern and had a reason to have picked Florence as the place where she was currently staying at. The city held no significance to her- there was nothing majorly essential for someone like her to be lingering within this location… beyond the chance it was going to be the setting of a rendezvous of some importance.

    It had been one of the many good assumptions Mr. Dawn could make out from little scraps of clues they got from her profile. For it to be confirmed, or any of the other theories, he needed time and quiet to study the phenomenon itself. This wasn't exactly a well-known threat, with most of their data tracing back to numerous centuries ago… and lacking anything major compared to other entities of that time. Gainmaria didn't seem to care about reasons, preferring to 'focus on actually getting the mission done' by planning any weaknesses and beating her himself.

    "You're too much of a wimp. I swear, I can't even imagine why Narbeck had picked you up as an Executor."

    The mocking was common in this line of work, especially from foolish partners that were going to die a stupid way. It didn't bring him any comfort as a thought, but it was enough to merely reduce his reaction to a mildly truthful nod. It wasn't like he was wrong with that assumption, but his folly, Mr. Dawn knew, was going to be his own undoing. He just had to focus on his plans, ignoring the whining of a brat that could potentially kill him with his sheer stupidity, and plan his own survival out of this mission. That was priority, for, as far as he cared, he didn't see a reason why he should put his life on the line to satisfy a sadistic witch such as Narbeck. She could have sent Ciel- in fact, from a logistical and efficient-wise standpoint, Ciel would have gotten an easier time with this task with her unique predicament. Sadly, that wasn't what the director wanted and, while Mr. Dawn's mindset on the case held some genuine merits, he would soon learn one thing as he got sight on his targets.

    Despite her power and personality, Arcueid Brunestud was a child. And not just by appearance alone. Not when he would see her wander off and visit the same ice cream parlor so many times in a single day. It was baffling, yet quite amusing as it confirmed some suspicions he held on her. If she had fallen asleep as a youth, perhaps he could try to trick her as an extremely arrogant and proud one? It was too early to say, but Mr. Dawn still could tell that, one way or another, this girl was going to be his ticket to survival.

    And perhaps a much deserved retirement from that crazy place he ended up working in.

    --------d-d-d-d---------

    Sakura could tell something was wrong.

    She just couldn't tell why, or what precisely, but she knew that something foul was coming their way. It all started when they ended up making their way where their goal was staying, with the group finally arriving at the public bathroom where Polpo's treasure was held… so Bucciarati could give it to Pericolo, a crime boss of Passione operating in the area, in exchange of influence and 'respect'. The true gain in this mission was not to receive cash, but to put Bucciarati in a higher perch with the rest of the team. The 'higher up' they were, the higher the chances of ending Passione's drug trade were going to be.

    Bruno effectively replaced Polpo as the 'owner' of Napoli, but he was also entrusted with another kind of treasure that, at first glance, didn't seem much, but Sakura soon learned to dislike. Trish was a year or two older than she was but… she instantly 'clung' at her due to Sakura being a girl like her. Which was true… to an extent. After all, she didn't exactly know about half the answers to the questions Trish had about fashion and 'how she kept her hair so smooth'. The pinkette was the daughter of Passione's boss, a 'treasure so immeasurable' for the boss as he wanted her by her side. Their newest mission? Bringing the girl back to her father. And while this looked more like a chore, the truth was that it gave Bucciarati the leverage to finally cease the drug trade. That was the kind of favor they needed to impose a change in the mafia situation in Italy.

    But as the group focused on getting all the needed effort to keep Trish safe by the very moment they got back to Naples, Sakura had the horrible task of 'babysitting' Trish for the time being. Which, in the pinkette's mind, translated as the two going out for a shopping spree. So, here Sakura was, playing the part of the reluctant 'friend' that is trying out the various clothes Trish was picking for her. And that's where the problem was. The pinkette picked stuff only for Sakura, and nothing for herself. It was appalling that she had to be subjected to this kind of torture, even more that she was being targeted this much because of it. It didn't help when they started to bicker on a point Sakura was unwilling to budge from.

    "Why keep the hat? It doesn't match with-"

    "The hat stays, or I'm just leaving you with no money to pay this whole… mess."

    It was one of the few prerogatives that Sakura wasn't willing to let go. It was a gift, something that she got back when she didn't have much to herself. It was her father's kindness given form, it was a memory from a time where she finally felt free and able to live happily as a child. Away from the horrors of the Matou's basement, and free to be Sakura Kujo, no more Matou or Tohsaka. So, Trish didn't know just what kind of critical button she had pressed with that pressure but… she was about to learn. That Sakura could swear an oath on.

    Trish's eyes narrowed. "You have no reason to be this rude."

    And that was a nice way to piss off the plum-haired girl. It was just hypocritical and plain provoking at this point.

    "Rude? You think this is 'rude'. How about being yanked in numerous shops and becoming a doll for someone that, by correlation of the fact we're both girls, seems to not care about what I think about this?"

    "T-That's not like it-"

    "Is it not now?"

    Before Sakura could have pressed on the now-embarrassed Trish, her chances were dashed away when a new voice joined in.

    "Is there any trouble?"

    The shop-keeper, a motherly-looking brunette, had decided to come and check how things were doing for them. Two other workers, slightly younger women, came to check too.

    "N-Nothing." Trish replied weakly and one of the workers hummed.

    "'That' doesn't look 'nothing', dearie. Are you sure? I think we can give them coffee so they can calm down a little bit."

    "There is no need-" Sakura tried to reason, but the shop-keeper insisted.

    "Oh, none of that, huns. You both need a moment to clear up your thoughts. There is no need to be this angry this early in the morning. We make use of hand-made coffee, so it's none of those yucky ones made in offices."

    Despite her reluctance to go for it, Sakura could feel that she was being too stressed. Just a tiny bit too much. A nod, and she was soon sitting by the counter together, they waited for the coffee to be ready. It was a swift process, one that still felt… odd as she added some 'honey' into it. She could see it had the same texture, smell and consistency as normal honey… but something was off about it.

    "I hope you will like it. I put a lot of effort into making it the most delicious, Miss Matou."

    Sakura froze instantly, realizing what the mature woman had said before her lips had the chance to sip at the coffee. Panic rushed into her mind, but instead of allowing it to dictate her decisions, she decided to play it carefully. As slowly as she raised the cup, she put it back to the counter.

    "I don't feel like drinking it actually."

    The reaction was instantaneous from the rest of the ladies.

    "Aren't you the rudest child?" One of the shop-workers lamented. "We just offered you some coffee-"

    "Now, there is no reason to be this harsh on Miss Matou-"

    "How do you know that old name, hag? It's not even mine."

    As the owner tense up, Trish looked a bit confused.

    "What do you mean? What is- is going on?" The pinkette asked, her voice slurring as she felt her focus on reality faltering.

    The coffee had been drugged, and they planned to take them away with that. Were they part of the ones that were trying to get Trish? How did they intervene this quickly? It made no sense!

    "Well, so much for the element of surprise," One of the workers admitted. "Well, too bad on you, brat. Our master wants you so- GAH!"

    CRACK!

    The bad woman was sent slamming on the wall behind her, stunning the other two at the sight. They might have expected a cheap win out of this, but they excluded that 'Miss Matou' had something they couldn't see and could easily create trouble for them. One Visionmatched her anger from the way it itched for a fight, and the Stand was instantly taking care of the two harlots. Grasping both their heads, the humanoid proceeded to slam both their skulls against each other, depriving them of consciousness just like their already-downed friend. There was a moment of silence, with Sakura checking on Trish and confirming that the girl was just unconscious. Relief washed within her mind as she prepared to make a hasty retreat to the temporary house they were meant to use for emergencies in case something bad happened on the island. From there, it should have been easy to get support and help from the others.

    Their escape started sluggishly. Not by choice, but because Trish was… heavy. Her height added extra kilos, and it didn't help that Sakura wasn't exactly a super-buff person like her father. Still, she didn't shy away from the challenge and swiftly picked up the pace. The streets were mostly empty as it wasn't one of those 'tourist months' where a large influx of people would visit the renowned holiday destination. She rushed as quickly as she could, but, somehow, she ended up tripping on something sturdy and solid… even though there was nothing like that under her.

    Crashing on the ground, Sakura tried to pull herself and the pinkette out of that bad spot, but she soon found out she couldn't for some reason. Dread fell on her as she finally realized that there was something that was preventing her from standing up. The floor, there was a strange seal chalked on it. One that had activated the moment she stepped into it. She hadn't paid attention to it, leaving her helplessly stuck on the ground and struggling to free herself and Trish out of this trap. Three women turned the corner in front of her, smiling smugly as they approached their helpless forms.

    "So, our 'sisters' have failed? Such a shame. Well, I guess we will graciously take the reward master promised us."

    Gritting her teeth, Sakura struggled again, but failed to free herself. The three dangerous individuals kept on approaching giggles and- The three women fell down, the dark blades having slammed on their throats and killed them on the spot from the looks of it. Sakura heard footsteps approaching from behind, feeling like this was a familiar sight… yet not. She heard someone hum and soon, she gazed behind to see her 'savior'.

    "Ciao."

    Sakura blinked at the familiar voice and soon was smiling at a certain white-haired girl. She looked slightly worried, but her expression softened look. She looked to be fine, unscathed, and only more concerned than anything else.

    "Ciao Caren."

    A petite smile appeared on her face at the happy response she got. It was a rare reaction from Caren towards many things and people, but one that Sakura knew she was able to bring out with ease. Not because of any bizarre imposition or reasoning, but because… they were friends. Closer than that… sisters? Possibly.

    "I see you were in some trouble," The childhood friend pointed out and Sakura groaned.

    "You don't know half of it. Can you help me, she is getting very heavy now?"

    A nod and the girl was soon destabilizing the seal that was keeping both her and the pinkette stuck in that awkward situation. She sighed in relief, her calm brief as she noticed Caren frowning at the unconscious Trish.

    "This is Trish. She is someone we're escorting. The boss' daughter."

    The 'mini-nun' nodded. "I see. I'm sorry for being a bit… awkward there."

    "You are not awkward. You are Caren."

    A little dad joke, but one that warmed up Caren as both started to make their way to their destination and well away from that trouble they had finished dealing with. For some reason, both girls could tell something was off about it as they discussed this matter. Something just didn't feel right to believe it was tied to Passione. Not when magecraft was involved in this mess.

    But who was currently tracking down Sakura… and how did they know of her previous last name?

    -----d-d-d-d-------

    "They failed."

    The emptiness in his voice sent a shiver down the other women that had waited to 'deal with the rest' once their allies were done retrieving their target. Their master looked disappointed- no, furious as the news set his plan back a lot. It would have been so simple, especially now that there was a chance to do what he was destined to do. To win, to succeed, to conquer the Magus Association through the tools left behind by the Three Founding Families. It took him a great amount of his family wealth and years spent studying the tedious relics recovered but… he found it.

    The path that transcended the Root and went back to the 'material world'. Absolute control, absolute supremacy. He just needed the little Matou playing like a normal person. Silly girl thought she could run away from her dual legacy as a Magus, but that was soon going to be her undoing for failing to become strong through these chances. A fool that was going to be his toy the moment he got his hands on her. And he was going to play with her a lot~. Still, he would have to adapt to make sure that the next plan worked. He had a limited window of opportunity from the looks of it.

    The Association was going to notice that something was off here in Italy, and the Church was definitely going to react the moment they got news of a limited boundary-field being used to contain someone within Capri. If they managed to get to him… the situation would definitely end poorly on him. And that wouldn't do, not when the glorious future before him was mere days away from unfolding as it shall be decided through a single act of rightful power. Something that would potentially bring back Magic and faith back in this disappointing world as he would become the restorer of the Age of Gods. He needed to invest more in his workshop, more sacrifices shall be employed to channel the best kind of spells, the artifacts in his arsenal fully employed for the sake of that final lap into pure divinity.

    Oh yes, he could see it and…

    Atrum could swear it upon his family's name and life. The Galliasta shall rule over all!

    --------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------------

    AN

    Poor Mr. Dawn. He got stuck capturing the previous form of Neco Arc!

    Also, Caren is here and… Oh boy, what is Atrum planned to do? And why is Sakura vital for this kind of plan?
     
  16. Threadmarks: The Treasure in Pink, Part 3
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 9: The Treasure in Pink, Part 3

    Leone Abbacchio was already regretting having accepted this friend to Sakura.

    The plum-haired girl had vouched for her, Bruno had given her a thorough look before being fine with this development as she had helped with Trish's protection, and he hadn't seen anything worrying out of this unusually familiar individual. One moment he thought that this one would have been as polite, if not more than Sakura considering her pious predisposition but… that ended up being the least of his worries. A glance, that was all it took to Abbacchio to actually be uneasy around this girl. The silver-hair, the golden eyes and the delicate features of her face…

    It was her daughter, wasn't it? That woman back in that park many years ago, the one that Leone had given the idea of naming her child with that unique name. After all, how many bore that resemblance and were called Caren? He wanted to be wrong, he really did, and yet the girl proved him wrong as soon as they were en route to get back in Naples. It all started when Bucciarati was promoted as Capo, giving him control of the casinos and the hotels in the former Two Sicilies' capital, as their newest goal became hiding Trish and waiting for the boss' next orders regarding her protection. It wasn't going to be easy considering that Pericolo had given them some bad news: atop those that were tracking them down, the Squadra Esecuzioni was planning to make it a big hit on the boss.

    And that wasn't a group Leone felt confident they had high chances of dealing with as smoothly as they did with Zucchero and Sale.

    So, as he somberly thought what could happen once they arrived at their planned hideout for the next few days, the secondary source of his unease decided to pipe in and try to get him to talk. One thing that he could pick up through observing the conversation between Caren, Sakura, Trish and even Narancia was that the first girl was… careful. Methodical. It was intriguing to see a teen her age this well-mannered and careful with some situations, which is why he felt incredibly unsure how to handle someone so cautious with her own words.

    "Signor Abbacchio?" Caren's quiet voice shattered the suave silence he had immersed himself into.

    It's been a while since he had grown accustomed to his lonely perch, a small chair he retrieved from the inner section of the boat they were taking to get back to the mainland that he saw fit to place as distantly as possible from the others. There was much to think about, and the last thing he needed was to receive some frustrating teasing from either Mista or Narancia. Of course, that plan had backfired as he was now alone with Caren from the looks of it.

    He blinked, his gaze turning to the girl that wore clothes akin to a nun. "What?"

    Rude, impolite- he didn't want to engage in any conversation at the moment and he was doing his best to do so while creating further reasons for the girl to avoid him. Sadly, that only seemed to intensify her stubbornness.

    "Can I ask you a few questions?"

    His lips twitched, he knew the brat got the message but she was doing her best to press on this matter with as much leverage as she could out of his moderate rejection.

    "I'm not your father. Go ask him whatever questions you want."

    The girl raised an unflattering look, clearly upset by that full-front rejection she was being subjected to… but she had an ace in her sleeve which managed to get another reaction out of Leone.

    "Well, since he is not here, I wanted to ask the closest family I got here."

    "..." Abbacchio kept quiet, but his face and mind were acting the opposite. Surprise swelled in his eyes as he narrowed his gaze at the minor smug on the girl's visage, while his mind tried to wrap around that sudden comment. "What are you talking about?"

    "Do you really want to know?" The smugness exuded by that petulant child was quick to restore the previously-forgotten irritation.

    "I'm not sure of that right now," He rebuked, and his words held a dual reasoning.

    First, he wasn't sure he wanted to know how that actually worked. It was a long lost memory, the one that tied Caren to that bizarre woman back in that park. The other reason was more immediate, as it was becoming clear to Abbacchio that Caren was far from the usual bratty girl. This one was using this attitude as a mask to hide her true intentions, and it worried him immensely about the motivations driving her to behave like this. But, as he would soon learn, Caren was far from willing to let this go and she had a couple more tricks to employ.

    "Apologies. For being too rude."

    "You weren't. You were confrontational, and not in a rude way."

    A frown adorned the girl's face as she was surprised by that correction.

    "Wouldn't that still make me a rude person?"

    "Sometimes. Not always- not in this case." Abbacchio replied curtly, staring away from the girl. "Now, if you are done with this-"

    "Why don't you want to talk with me?" She pressed on, interrupting the man. Her eyes narrowed at his displeasure, "I just want to set things straight."

    "In which regard? Wanting to be rude?"

    "You knew my mother."

    "…And what if I did?"

    "Do you even know why she was so interested in talking to you?" The girl grew more stubborn with each question. "Why do you and her, and even me, share so many physical similarities?"

    He blinked, he was once a police officer, so the current situation gave him some weight over a possibility. One of the few ones he had started to think about as soon as Caren became part of the group. He could tell this was tied to it, to Claudia and her odd questions.

    "We are related," Abbacchio replied flatly, stunning Caren for a moment and the reaction drawing a small smile on his face. "She asked about my father, about the fact he didn't have parents. I might have been a child once and not connected dots back then, but I can connect dots, especially when you present me with an extra clue to it."

    Caren remained quiet, but she tensed up a bit as he stood up from his chair and took just two steps towards him, stopping right in front of her and crouching down. A mostly blank look lingered on his face as only curiosity persisted through his composure.

    "The only thing I still have to understand is… what does that make you to me?"

    For the first time since he got to know her, Leone saw Caren stare at the ground, showing genuine embarrassment as a girl her age would. It took her a moment to either think about it, or to try to find the voice to bring up the truth. But she did and… it sounded really different with how genuinely honest her response was.

    "You and mom were… cousins. So, that means that we are… second grade cousins," She hummed nervously. "But… Can I ask you something?"

    He didn't answer, yet the girl decided to finally be 'rude' and ask anyway.

    "Can I call you… Zio(1)?"

    Abbacchio paused over this kind of question. Ever since he joined the Mafia, one thing that he outright refused to give a thought of was having to deal with children so close to himself. Until that very confession, he never had to worry about it as he had been an only child, thus no sibling of his would have given him nephews or nieces to worry about. But this? This was a curveball. Sure, their connection wasn't the same as uncle-niece, but there was no reason to believe it could have been due to their difference between their ages and the fact he had once seen her mother as 'sister material'.

    "That sounds like a big request. You have just met me, why would you want that?"

    Instead of being pressured by that kind of question, the girl half-smiled at him. "It's easier to call you that, plus… it fits, Zio."

    His left eye twitched at the cheeky last bit. "I didn't give you permission."

    "What if I called you that even without permission?" She inquired back, her amusement growing as her soft features… took a familiar expression. One that he had seen back with… her mother.

    Eh, I guess she is her mother's daughter...

    "Then I would be quite crossed. Also, I would have to respond to that kind of behavior."

    A hint of nervousness filtered in her smile as Caren saw Abbacchio reach out her face with his hands, seemingly ready to slap her and force her to close her eyes… only for something else to happen. Something painful but… far from what she expected. Her eyes opened in shock and upset as the smug-looking Leone had started to pinch her cheeks as earnestly as he could.

    "Owie," She lamented. "T-That hurts."

    "Oh? Does it? Well, I guess that's what happens when girls your age behave like cheeky brats."

    Caren pouted. "Then I shall call you Zia(2), OWIE!"

    The pinching increased at that threat, raising the level of playfulness between the two and… mellowing both at the prospect of this dynamic bond.

    "I think not, little brat."

    Despite the rocky beginning, Abbacchio couldn't help but hope that this wasn't going to backfire horribly on him. Last thing he needed was to babysit this pesky girl during the whole trip. Also, why the hell did her father send her on her own and…

    Why could he tell that there was something else beyond that thick veil of childishness?

    ----------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d--------

    The mission was finally over!

    He could now enjoy a break from all the hard work as the Boss had promised him. Yes, it was time for one Doppio Vinegar to enjoy some peace and relax after making sure the Turin's branch stopped being this riottish against Passione's demands.

    The Consigliere was fairly young despite his high role within the group with a few elements on his appearance, his freckles in particular contributed to his boyish looks. His orange eyes lacked any hints of maliciousness, a perfect testament of a professional member of Passione that knew when to be happy and when to be… cruel. His pink hair was tied into a small ponytail, with the frontal locks left loose turned to the side by one side lock. His outfit was made by a light-purple-colored sweater with gash-like openings that left part of his upper chest, his midriff and a bit of his thighs exposed. He also wore a loose pair of jeans pants.

    After years of good service, the young man just knew that his beloved Boss would allow him some slack after a job well done. He was young and quite timid at times, but never too shy from enjoying a proper break before getting back into action and… as much as it dismayed him, he was soon contacted with a new mission.

    He was sitting inside a taxi, ready to reach his hotel and spend a few hours of sleep when he received a call. For some reason the driver spared him some odd looks as he retrieved his phone, but Doppio had long learned that some dumb people just didn't seem to grasp how sweet and cool his phone's ringtone was.

    "Doppio here."

    "Doppio. I heard you managed to succeed in your mission… as usual."

    The pink-haired man smiled, elated by the sudden praise by his leader. It's been years now since he was given a chance to become a fundamental part of Passione, and he has never disappointed with the completion of the tasks pushed forth by the boss. He was picked up from the ground, as a nobody, and given the opportunity to really show his value to others through his determination and loyalty to the noble cause of Passione. It was the boss that took over the underworld and removed all drugs, he was the one that supported charities and progress in the peninsula where politicians would just bicker and do nothing to help the needy.

    "Yes boss, I managed to get the nasty morons under check. They will not disappoint ever again."

    "I believe you, Doppio… but I'm afraid I have to ask a favor out of you," The boss expressed with a degree of mournfulness. "I could tell you were set to enjoy a minor break from work, but there is a new matter that requires your attention. If you reach out in your bag, you will find the documents that will provide you with some insight on the next task."

    Doppio was slightly unnerved by that missed chance to rest, but he knew better than disobeying his leader's request. So he complied, reaching into the bag and pulling out two files, one describing a message from Capo Pericolo and another from the boss himself. His eyes widened as he realized the content within the message and then, he focused back on the call.

    "B-Boss, you have a-"

    "It's unimportant for now, Doppio. What I need you to do is reach Venice. There I will meet with you and discuss what we will have to do over this unexpected development. You shall do so as I command, understood?"

    A slow nod. "O-Of course. I will never stray away from your orders, boss."

    "...Thank you for being the most loyal to me, my dear Doppio."

    His cheeks flared in embarrassment, the praise striking deep as he felt the most loved by his leader. No responses came out of it as the call ended there, with Doppio ready to get back to his hotel and retrieve his things. Things were set to be quite smooth with no major issues up ahead. Or at least, that was until something rather unexpected unfolded. The taxi suddenly stopped, surprising Doppio as someone rushed to the side and forced their way into the car. Soon the scene turned into the most chaotic possible situation, with a woman suddenly sobbing close to his ears as a masked man yelled orders at the driver.

    "Start the car, get us out of there!"

    The old man driving the vehicle only nodded, panicking as the speed was suddenly increasing. The pink-haired young man was stunned by the development, caught off-guard by it as he tried to make some sense of it. The masked man was clearly a robber, his deduction tied to his current outfit and the fact that he was holding a sack filled with paper money, while the other held the handgun currently aimed at the young woman. That woman… she sure reminded him of something familiar. The way she was crying and screaming, begging to live… A knot twitched deep within Doppio as he stared at the scene in pure shock and dread, his own good morals flaring in horror at his inaction. He should act but how? How was he supposed to do anything about this? He didn't have any of the boss' gifts with himself at the moment. Only his own body and his own experience… but nothing that could have allowed him to move without getting shot by the criminal. It was absurd that someone would dare to go against Passione's orders. Peace was restored and crimes weren't meant to be this direct and chaotic. No, he couldn't allow this and…

    And then the woman opened her eyes. It was there that something burned within Doppio's head. A memory. A smiling brunette posing for… him, as he took a picture of her. What a pretty girl, he thought as he felt his consciousness faltering for just a moment. It was brief, but enough to allow a change within the scenario he was in. A blink, the criminal was now slumping, his arms falling limp as a shocked look formed on his face… while he drowned in his own blood. A large gash crossed his neck and ended his life instantly. The taxi driver took notice of this and stopped the vehicle, trying to check on what was going on as soon as he realized that the criminal was slumping in such a manner, the wound having appeared out of nowhere. Then, he also realized another thing: the previous passenger, the bizarre young man that he had been taking back to his hotel before the escaping criminal hijacked the vehicle, was no longer there.

    Meanwhile, Doppio found himself several meters away from the car, standing on some sidewalk while staring at the concrete ground under his feet, frowning as he tried to recollect what had… happened. He was sure that he had taken a taxi, but he couldn't remember what unfolded inside of it and he got taken off. Still, he was quite close to the hotel, and he decided to shrug off at that normal 'forgetfulness' that he tended to face from time to time. Yet, as he retreated towards the hotel's entrance and got prepared for his trip to Venice, he could tell that he did something… good. Maybe he gave the tip to the driver? He looked quite poor so… maybe?

    Then again, this reasoning faltered as he felt warm in his chest. His fuzzy memories on the matter showed a crying woman sparing him what he could only describe as a beautiful and thankful look and… and then he was there. It made him feel like this was familiar to something he saw in the past, something important. Doppio wasn't sure how that had worked, and why he felt convinced that this was the best feeling he had ever experienced, even more than just fixing some affairs for the boss. He almost tensed up in shock at that thought, horrified at the notion of the boss learning of these traitorous ideas of his for believing this kind of madness.

    After all, Doppio was the most loyal servant to the boss and while he wanted to change the world for the best, it would be wrong to bite the hand that had taken him off the ground and given him worth.

    He just couldn't imagine a world with that ever happening.

    ------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------

    AN

    Uncle Abbacchio is now a thing, sorta, and I have plans for Doppio. Will those be for the good or for the worst? It will definitely give him some role beyond being the boot-licking puppet for the main antagonist.

    Glossary:

    1) Zio: Uncle;
    2) Zia: Aunt;
     
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  17. Threadmarks: The Treasure in Pink, Part 4
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 10: The Treasure in Pink, Part 4

    The hideout was average at best. It wasn't meant to be used for long, but it definitely was enough to work for its current purpose.

    Bruno wasn't fully sure of his own commitment to this, not when this could have ended so poorly. The boss' daughter- she wasn't tied to anything regarding Passione. Except them, except now. It was upsetting how this was a chance to get something done about it. Maybe it was the hopefulness lacking that form of… realism. It felt too abstract on the spot, and it didn't help that even Abbacchio hardly believed it. The former police officer was busy with Caren, admitting that there was an unusual connection between them. Very odd considering how little time they got to bond up, but Bucciarati could pick up the possible blood relation between them. Their traits, such as hair and eyes, were unique compared to others, and it was clear that they were tied by blood. The real question was how precisely that bond was classified.

    It was ironic in a way. Giorno had Sakura, Leone had Caren, while Bucciarati had many thoughts about his past. He wondered if his father had relatives, if his family wasn't as small as he thought it to be. It was the first time in years since he entertained that thought but… he didn't consider delving deeper into it. It wasn't fear, it was worry that drove him to keep away from looking more into it. Considering his current disposition, it would just endanger whatever relatives he got. It was for the best that this question, just like it had been delayed for so long, was kept away until he hadn't threats to his existence. And he had yet to solve the drug problem. Even as a Capo, he couldn't exactly enact anything that trailed away from the main course of the whole organization. Which is why he needed the Boss to do this. To make that decision.

    It was going to be intense and… he doubted he had the means to stand strong against the Boss if he disagreed with this idea. Which is why this hope wasn't exactly something that he could rely on. It had to be his own strength in the initial delivery that had to carry most of the impact within the conversation. And… he had to make sure his own group didn't get decimated in the process. There were just too many individuals that were trying to get their hands on Trish. She was a pawn that could warrant immense wealth and prestige. Maybe even a higher position in the hierarchy with enough care provided to the pinkette.

    There were many reasons to keep an eye on this matter… but not the only issue that Bruno felt worried about. As a Capo and chief-in-charge of all operations in Naples and other smaller cities within the area, he had access to part of the informants' network within the region. And what he heard as of a few hours earlier left him worried about keeping their base in a single place for too long. Someone was tracking them down, and they weren't part of the local factions. A new player? They attacked Trish and Sakura while they were still in Capri, which meant there was a high chance they were after the Boss' daughter. But… the more he looked into it, the more he could tell this was different. They weren't looking after Trish. After Sakura? Why would they want to go after her? There was something off about this, which is why he decided to speak with the girl in private.

    The plum-haired teen looked hardly unfazed when he regarded her with a serious glance. His small temporary office was pretty spartan in nature, with just empty shelves on the side, a simple old wood table and a few chairs to sit on. The conversation was brief, especially since there wasn't much to ask due to how limited his current information on the matter was. But what he got in return was… nothing to scoff at. Far from it. Sakura told him a 'secret', or rather, something that 'no one but a few' were meant to know.

    Within Italy, there was an underground group that operated for the sake of dealing with supernatural matters and… they used a form of limited magic known as Magecraft. Sakura argued that at a certain point one of their attackers used a special seal to keep her in place, which was feasible only through that. They were after her, but she didn't know specifically why they would do so. Bruno would have preferred that, at this very question, she had lied. That she had known what was going on. But he was dismayed to learn she was really clueless about it. Her posture, her facial features, everything suggested she was being bluntly honest about it. And it left him baffled on what could be causing this.

    There were many things that came out from this revelation, with one of them being that the Church was one of the organizations that harnessed that kind of 'power' and was hiding it from the rest while operating hidden missions to secure their influence in the peninsula and overseas. It would explain why the Boss never voiced any interest in controlling the Papacy, and why he would shoot down any ideas of doing anything about this specific trouble.

    It always stunned most of Passione how unflinching that position was considering how the Boss never held back against other powers of that kind. The government, the police and the carabinieri. Even the Army was influenced through their highest officers, so there was no reason to stop at dealing with the Church… unless the Boss knew of this detail and didn't want to take a chance in delving into that kind of mess. It was reasonable to believe he had backed away for Passione's sake, knowing that any confrontation wouldn't have ended well, Stand or not. It sounded risky, and made him wonder how much 'antagonistic' the Church viewed Passione. They might have not attacked them directly, but some of the Vatican's assets in Rome had been taken over in recent months. It was reasonable for them to feel rather 'crossed' about when it came to their gang.

    Which is why this meant they had to move quickly out of this place and get Trish to safety. Yet Bruno knew he couldn't divert into another hideout anytime soon. Not when the Boss was meant to contact them very soon and provide them the next steps to reach him without gaining any dangerous troublemakers on their tail. Things were tense, and they had to risk a bit to keep things 'calm'. Which is why Bucciarati had sent Narancia to take care of food and beverages as they waited. They needed as many available resources as possible for this trip to limit the needs of stopping around and landing in some ambush laid down by their foes.

    The Boss was going to eventually contact them and give them instructions, but for now they would have to wait and keep their guards up during the wait. There wasn't much to do beyond making an effort to keep his group away from being detected and targeted. Narancia was going to be quick, he knew how to handle this kind of task but… he couldn't just shrug off the feeling that something bad was just around the corner.

    It was a tense situation alright, but he could tell things were even more difficult than they were at the moment.

    -----------d-d-d-d--------

    Fugo was bored. Or rather: Fugo was annoyed for having nothing to do at the moment.

    Usually he would have the chance of speaking with Narancia, to entertain the notion of trying the difficult challenge of teaching the boy more about Math and Grammar. As much as it tended to irritate him at times, it also made him feel distracted, unfocused, non-thinking about what the general situation was and… he was nervous. The blond was not exactly a calm individual in tense situations, hence why he needed to talk with someone that could 'entertain' his brain for a while.

    Not Mista, not Abbacchio- with the former being a down-right pain in the ass when needed, willingly failing his questions to get a foul reaction out of him, while Abbacchio was busy and didn't seem in the mood to entertain any challenges from him. So, he was left with no choice but to actually address two of their recent 'new members'. In his mind, Giorno fit the bill because he had gone through the trial, while Sakura was tagging along and helping them passively, not necessarily having to obey Bruno's commands.

    Ignoring this difference, Fugo set up a little test to check out their intelligence and preparations. He knew Sakura had gone to school already, and he was confident she had higher chances of passing his challenge, while Giorno… Giorno was an enigma. It wasn't like Fugo doubted the fellow blond's intelligence as he had proved himself capable of going through some clever ruses on his own. In fact, he decided to go for the same tests he would give to Narancia. Simple Elementary-grade Math. It was meant to be an easy challenge, nothing to worry about and… he was about half-right. Both accepted the idea, both went through the tests in roughly ten minutes, and then he realized that Giorno had copied from Sakura.

    It was quite the confusing outcome, but one that left him trying something else to see how Giorno reacted without a source to copy from. Both had to do similar set exercises, except both were set away from the other. Instead of panicking or struggling like a young cheater would in that instance, Giorno's face showed no issue during that second test. He went through the papers without any problem and soon Fugo was reaching out for his paper. Did he 'lie' with his composure? Did he fail?

    The sole answer to both questions was… no. Giorno actually did his test successfully, which drew a perplexed look out of the hotheaded genius as he failed to grasp why would someone like the fellow blond cheat if he could do it himself. And when Giorno spoke up, Fugo felt… stupid. Incredibly so.

    "Why shouldn't I cheat? Isn't the purpose of life to find commodities through simpler routes? Isn't the purpose of Math learning how to simplify difficult formulas in something that eventually draws a single answer? Why should it matter which path I take for something so unimportant when the result will always still be the same?" The young man stormed with questions, each slamming on Fugo's confusion as it was soon replaced by understanding. "Life… life where the path taken really matters. The goal might be still the same despite the path taken, but there are ramifications, other formulas, which can twist fate in either a positive or damning light."

    He shook his head at how unforgiving that explanation was. On the one hand, he found it to be enlightening on how Giorno's intelligence worked. He didn't cheat for the sake of compensating for something he lacked, but to get things right quicker than just doing it the right way. It was wrong… but right. That kind of mindset was the basic element of a successful criminal, someone that used his intelligence not only to win against issues, but also adapt to the environment surrounding them. On the other hand, he felt like he was being played by this response. He felt his past education was ridiculed by this comment and… he felt glad that it happened in this way. Giorno wasn't planning for a humiliation with this response, but to bring forth his own thoughts on the matter. It was his perspective and it felt so fitting to his actions considering how he behaved, genuinely convinced of his own ideals.

    Giorno was clever on two different meanings of the word, and Fugo felt sheepish for failing to take notice of that very notion early on. He retreated to the nearest balcony, taking a seat by the lone chair that allowed one to watch over the vineyard they were hiding in and took a moment to immerse himself in that natural beauty. It's been months since he had the chance of being away from Naples, and this was the closest thing to a relaxing location where to spend some time thinking on his own, away from others and their… bizarre mindsets. Yet, as Fugo was enjoying the spectacle before his eyes, he found himself frowning as his gaze took notice of an odd bird. It was fairly small, like a robin, but its plumage was… unusual. Instead of normal feathers, the flying creature bore pristine white ethereal wings.

    A blink and… it was gone. Did he just see things? No. He could tell that this was important and… could be a Stand. Knowing that this could be problematic if someone was indeed watching them and had their eyes locked on him, Fugo carefully faked his behavior, trying to act as if he had ignored the curious development as he retreated inside. Nothing seemed to happen and… soon they were relocating. Narancia had returned and the situation was pretty grim. Another attacker struck, this one managing to burn up money and supplies meant to give them an advantage for this trip. In layman's terms? They had to relocate somewhere safer. Everyone was quick to prepare their bags, they left nothing incriminating behind and were soon moving out to a new location.

    Fugo was annoyed due to how careless Narancia had been. In his mind, he felt that the boy should have been more cautious about the place he hid the important resources, but then he realized through Giorno's own questioning of the matter that Narancia couldn't have done better. Between saving the resources and surviving, the viable option was the latter one. And yet that still didn't stop him from worrying about an issue that was going to become troublesome by the time they relocated. With that fire, and that fight with one of the infamous members of that group, they were definitely going to need to worry about La Squadra catching up to them.

    And a full explanation was provided the moment Caren asked about it, reminding them all that both her and Sakura were unaware of the deadly problem they were now going to be on guard for the time being. A formidable team of professional killers that were likened to the Boss' finest assassins. They were brilliant, efficient… but far from loyal. Not when the Boss saw fit to kill two of their teams for trying to get 'too big for their shoes' and ask for a proper cut of the cake within the Italian territory. Most of the hierarchy was divided in regions and areas, so it felt natural for them to ask for a slice of that after years of service. The response managed to curb any other requests of that kind, but it destroyed any form of loyalty they might have held towards the leader of Passione.

    As they were leaving, the Boss managed to contact them and give them new instructions before going to reach him. Pompeii, there was a key they had to retrieve before going to their next destination. The boss made it clear, they needed to retrieve it as it would help them to reach a safe spot where he would be waiting for them. Bruno took a moment to gauge the situation, and decided to dispatch a small team to deal with this. Initially it was meant to be just him, Giorno and Abbacchio, but Caren decided to tag along. Something that was opposed by Leone but… the girl was stubborn. More stubborn than Sakura as Bruno was adamant for the plum-haired girl to stay behind and 'protect Trish'. Fugo might not be aware of the real reasons driving Bucciarati's decision, but he could tell it wasn't the one he used to keep Sakura around. Something serious had happened, a piece of info they weren't aware of and… that worried Fugo.

    Luckily, none of the assassins managed to track their newest hideout anytime soon. They were moving quickly but… the Squadra d'Esecuzioni was known to move even quicker than that. Time was essential and each minute wasted meant a new problem to endure during this bizarre trip.

    And as far as Fugo was concerned, he wasn't going to let any of that stop them from serving their Boss as he commanded.

    -------------d-d-d-d-------------------d-d-d-d-----------

    AN

    Next time, something nuttier will unfold. This and previous chapters were quite tame so... The next battle will retain some canonical details, but will derail after a bit and… there will be another fight at the same time. And that's all I'm willing to say~!

    ...But first, an Interlude!
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Mirror Mirror, Part 1
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 11: Mirror Mirror, Part 1

    Pompeii was a place Caren had heard a lot about.

    It was a known tourist destination, one of the few well-preserved ruins of Roman civilization and… a good place for people of dubious morality to meet for illicit activities. It was no surprise to her that this is where the boss of the gang had decided to leave the literal key to the group's goal. It reminded her how some members of the Church handled secretive affairs, except in this case the potential locations where to set this matter was much more broader than any others the members of the Holy See would entertain for something so important.

    The ruins were, as mentioned just now, in a decent shape. Archaeologists were known to be quite protective of the place due to its historical importance, but, sadly, that didn't prevent the happening of events such as the one she was partially involved in. Not like Caren minded the 'heinous' activity as it was a mere item-retrieval situation. Nothing foul of uncouth was happening… and yet, as she entered inside the ruins, she couldn't help but feel discomfort as they stepped inside the area. For a brief moment, she thought it was her MSC (Masochistic Spiritualist Constitution), but the feeling felt too 'lenient' on her flesh and more centered around her mind. Her paranoia aroused before this bizarre feeling and she was on her guard as the four started to approach the location of the key they were sent to get back to Bucciarati.

    Golden eyes looked around, trying to justify this ominous feeling now pooling within her stomach, as if something was looming over them. Danger, but where and what? Her guarded gaze was noticed by Abbacchio, but where her uncle spared her a cautious look, he said nothing to bring this up. Not yet, he too could tell something about the place being off. And as they started to make their way through the old streets of the Roman city, the girl finally spotted an anomaly. Something flickered through one of the few in-wall mirrors that were known to be built within the premises. And she got confirmation of this when Giorno suddenly stopped, his posture tensing up and instantly gaining the attention of the rest of the gang.

    "What's wrong, Giorno?"

    "There is… someone standing on the column right behind us," The blond muttered, his blue eyes turning to check right at the location and urging the others to do the same. Caren briefly glanced at where he was looking and… she saw nothing. Glancing back to him and then to the mirror, she could see what he was talking about. Her eyes narrowed over the figure slowly approaching them, a small smile creeping on his face as he walked closer.

    "Are you blind? There is nobody there," Leone remarked dryly, but…

    Caren looked back once more behind and she could tell something was off between what was visible through the mirror and their surroundings. It felt so confusing, and yet something about it reminded her of a story she heard from Sakura's father. Truth be told, the girl loved these stories. Ever since she met Sakura and learned of her father's exploits through him and her own father, Caren had slowly gained an interest in finding herself thrown into a crazy adventure such as the one Jotaro Kujoh had to experience. Minus the dreadful reasoning behind it, of course, but still giving them the same rush and intensity of action that he was keen to bring up.

    Each fight, each encounter, each new location to explore- Caren was in love with the notion of fighting for her own ideals, to be there to show off her true dedication and emotions. After all, her father had told her many times that this was how one truly showed their feelings, through actions, through dedication, through being more than just talk and being able to go through with the duty and burden of these emotions. And it became even greater in her mind as she knew it also meant fostering the growth of the bond with her real first friend and exploring the world at the same time.

    Yet, that knowledge she got, those fine details she burned into her brain, they were being used to grant her a lucid grasp of the situation. And it wasn't a nice situation. Not at all. It reminded her of the story Jotaro told the two girls about, the one about how his friend, Polnareff, had to face his sister's murderer and how this one had a Stand that… operated in mirrors. What were the chances this one had a similar ability? After all, she could see him, the person that was walking towards them with malicious intents… but only within that mirror. Her eyes widened a fraction at that recollection, but she did more than gawk at the possibility. Her lips twitched and then turned as her voice burned through her throat.

    "Giorno, duck!"

    Calm but stern, the blond blinked briefly but complied as he barely crouched down to avoid two Black Keys rushing towards the mirror, stabbing into it and destroying it. She could have told him to break the mirror, but the chances of their attacker also knowing that he was being caught and moving faster and before anyone could intervene reinforced her resolve in acting on this matter herself. Surprise exploded within the group as they stared at the sudden attack in confusion and… interest. There was a moment of quiet, with Caren looking around and hoping that her intervention had been quick enough to prevent any issues with the strange circumstance. Nothing happened, but the confusion remained from the rest of the group.

    "Caren?" Abbacchio's question was minimal in words, but packed in meaning.

    "The one Giorno saw, it has to be a Stand User."

    Leone looked surprised at the notion, while Giorno quickly moved away from the remaining shards of the mirror, unsure if that extended to even the broken pieces as a possible danger. Fugo frowned at that curt explanation, but as he glanced at the shard and seemed to think about it, he offered a trusting nod.

    "It could be possible. A Stand that uses mirrors? We know there are some absurd abilities and… this presents a problem."

    "Pompeii has other mirrors, and one in particular is right where the key should be," Caren added and the trio slowly nodded. "We should be careful."

    "It could also be one of the Stand's abilities," Fugo concluded with a serious tone. "Until we know the full extent of its power, it would be best if we're always on guard, even when mirrors aren't within our proximity."

    The plan was sound, and yet there was much that Caren felt that wasn't being addressed. There was something odd about this whole situation. How did the Stand User know they were going for Pompeii? After all, their boss was meant to have told only the group about it… right? It didn't make much sense, but their goal remained the same. They needed to find the key, get out of the ruins and make it back to the newest temporary location where Bruno had the entire group relocate. And as the four resumed their walk, this time being vigilant of their surroundings, a lone figure growled at the development, frustrated by the fact that they had managed to stave off his first attack.

    A minor delay, he thought. After all, the next ambush wasn't going to be as lenient and give them the chance to dodge or block his assault. It was now a fierce game of cat and mouse, with the lone man being the one still keeping an advantage. They knew part of his Stand's ability… but they had yet to learn it is wishful thinking to expect the mere knowledge to be enough to stop him. He would just need to make use of the small mirrors he brought in case of emergency and…

    Then he would grasp victory by its neck!

    ---------d-d-d-d----------

    Bucciarati could tell something was off right as he finished checking on Narancia's conditions.

    In a rather odd turn of events, Trish had taken it upon herself to learn some first aid so she could try and fix the boy herself. And Sakura was pulled into this by having to help as the 'nurse' to 'Doctor' Trish as Narancia was quick to joke about. A joke that found amusement also in Mista as he glanced at the trio bicker and yet slowly helped their gang's youngest member. The small room they had been staying in the last few hours was one of a small hotel in Naples owned by someone Bucciarati knew and could trust. It was rent free, but only for this very day. The relocation had been quite dangerous, especially since anyone hunting them was definitely checking through any properties that were most used by either him or Polpo. Fugo's warning, the one he gave him before he left, had been good enough reason to change into a place that would set them at risk of dealing 'known issues', but lessened the chances of this new pursuer from getting too close to them. They were after Sakura, and it was clear that the bird hadn't been a Stand. No, it was something akin to the 'magic' that the plum-haired girl had mentioned. And while this choice meant putting his team in danger, he knew that there wasn't exactly a way to prevent it.

    Either decision he made, they would have still had to deal with a specific sort of enemies. In this case, it was the cast of foes that weren't going to use magic against them. Stands might be troublesome, but they had limits that could be exploited with proper brainstorming. Magic? That didn't sound like something they were prepared to face just yet. In fact, the ideal scenario was never dealing with it through the whole trip. But one thing was hoping, another was reality, rearing its ugly face and showing some teeth back to him in an unforeseen situation. And so, there was a small issue with that plan, right as they were waiting for the rest of the gang to get back to them with the key. And it all started with a...

    A slow knocking noise coming from the door of the small suite they were in.

    Knock.

    Knock.

    Knock.

    The five occupants paused, unease gripping Bucciarati as there was a good chance that this was going to end with an attack from another member from Passione. Maybe from La Squadra. Mista was the one that went to check, his cautious self highlighted by the tense posture he got. He looked through the peephole, his composure easing and yet keeping vigilant as he went to open the door. Not a threat, but whoever was standing beyond that door had gained his worry. Bruno knew something was really off now, but he had yet to understand to which degree. The door slowly opened, revealing a shivering cleaning lady standing outside, her eyes wide open.

    "I-I'm sorry. S-she told me- she told me that I had just to… knock and-"

    Before the lady could finish, the windows that gave to the balcony outside all broke as a single individual and numerous bird-like creatures stormed inside the room. Mista quickly removed his revolver from the holster, aiming readily at the ethereal birds while Bruno placed himself between the attacker and his targets. The woman was wearing a cloak, an unfamiliar face greeting him as she didn't seem threatened by his effort to protect the girls and the still-injured Narancia, the boy trying to stand up and failing. She was holding and now showing what looked to be a dagger with something written in it.

    "My, oh my… the way you put yourself into. Such as shame you would resort to playing with thugs and criminals. True scum… unbecoming to the heirship of one of the Great Founding Families."

    Was she talking about Sakura? Bucciarati wasn't completely sure but… he still kept his fighting stance.

    "Who are you?"

    "That's none of your concern. After all, your worth is lesser than the very being you're pathetically trying to guard. My master is not up to play foolish games with some grunts."

    Her tone was quick to get on Bruno's nerves, but the Capo already knew that this individual, this dangerous woman, had to be one capable of using magic. He would have to play it smart rather than try his hand in a direct confrontation and… he had something in mind. As the woman kept on approaching, slow, almost tentatively as she seemed still worried to a degree about Bruno and Mista, Bucciarati carefully manifested Sticky Fingersby his feet and tapped the ground right in front of him. The woman was soon getting close, close enough to try and do something dangerous but… then her footing went missing. Her eyes widened in shock as she stared down at the ground and saw part of the floor now open wide to have her fall to the lower section of the hotel.

    Mista used this chance to shoot down the bird-like creatures, killing them on the spot and further freeing them from that ambush. "Boss?"

    "We're leaving. Now," Bruno ordered sternly, and he personally took care of picking up Narancia as the small group made it out of the room and rushed for the staircase. Everyone was silent, stuck in an uneasy quiet, but then, as they reached the entrance of the building, Trish spoke up and brought to mind a fair concern.

    "W-What about the others?"

    "We will address this issue later. Right now, we have to get to a safer spot."

    Mista's words were matched with a calm nod from Bruno, his mind wracking over which place they could move to and which road to take without being caught in some distraction or fight. Just as they turned the corner and rushed through the sidewalk as quickly as they could, Narancia muttered something that almost made him trip.

    "Why don't we use the sewers?"

    While that tactic would be shot down instantly if they were dealing with a large force that was familiar with the way the Italian sewers were structured, the Capo couldn't help but realize this usually ineffective tactic could actually work well for them. Without wasting any further time, Bruno gave the order and Mista obeyed.

    The nearest manhole was opened, the group descending into the lower grounds despite Trish's loud displeasure of the development and were soon resuming their run to get away from their pursuers. It would take about twenty minutes of running through the maze-like disposition of the sewers before deciding to get back to the sidewalk and get to the closest hideout Bruno could think of. Definitely not the best way to handle this issue, but now Bucciarati had a clearer grasp of what they were dealing with, and he could plan something to counter any future attacks of this kind.

    Hopefully the group he had sent to Pompeii was going to get quickly back to Naples so that they could leave for good.

    --------d-d-d-d-------

    Atrum was enraged. And it was one of the most amusing sights his current 'stalker' could get out of the arrogant Magus.

    The blond was so incensed as he slowly walked over the two women he tasked with the pursuit of the group, his disappointment displayed within his face as he berated the mortified duo about their failure and how much that cost him and his plans. It was clear he was going to have them removed, toys that proved broken before he could play more with them. It was still a fun sight for the lone figure studying the situation from a nearby rooftop. It was ironic how he would end up giving chase to someone else that was chasing the 'main protagonists'.

    He had spied on Atrum for a while now, tracking him down, learning of his motivations and then drawing a plan to bring him to a quick demise once it was time to remove him from the chessboard. By all means, the figure knew he was taking a big risk by being there and… Then again, he shouldn't have been there to begin with, but an anomaly had forced his hand to be dealing with this matter.

    Something bad was unfolding within the plot. Something sinister tied to Atrum himself and his ambition. He had found something that gave him the edge for the plan he had conceived, something that was partly tied to Sakura and… another girl. A girl that shouldn't be within this timeline. Zelretch had been clear, this situation was his to solve and only his.

    Not an agent of the Kaleidoscope, but rather a concerned individual that had the means to intervene in these affairs. The Wizard Marshal asked him for assistance, explaining how this individual, this 'counterpart' was akin to his world. He needed to save her and make sure that no one gets their filthy hand on her. It was a must, especially since something bigger was coming their way.

    "Oh well, let's put the mask on and see what I can do by being a bit more 'helpful' about this matter," The figure hummed, calmly putting on the Harlequin mask he borrowed for the occasion.

    A little mask to preserve his identity. He didn't need to have his own face become reason for distrust, trouble and some awkward questioning. Right now, what he needed the most was to get the right setup to introduce himself to the gang, get accepted in Bucciarati's team and finally make sure everything ran as smoothly and closely as fate intended.

    With his plan reinforced, the figure that went by the name of 'Arlecchino' took the final steps needed to start getting involved in the very group destined to topple Diavolo so that they could achieve this without any interruption. And who knows, perhaps his own curiosity was taking part in this too and influencing him so he could learn more about Sakura's Stand.

    Truly an intriguing Stand to say the least.

    ----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d------

    AN

    The Battle against Illuso begins, a quick escape to avoid Atrum's group and… a new player? No, it will not become relevant until a bit later. While this 'Arlecchino' sounds like an unimportant and unneeded entity, he has a purpose to be there, and it is tied to the Atrum storyline, or rather, to its origin and what got Atrum interested in going ahead with his plans.
     
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