A brisk walk carried the man along. Before he got too close to the white building he made sure to adjust his tie. He managed to tighten it without dropping his briefcase; a talent he had earned after years of practice. Stepping through the front doors of the establishment provided a quick peek through its clean and friendly veil. After only a few seconds of looking at armed guards one could glean that this was not a place one would choose to be sent to. The busy man quickly looked around the main hall to see that there was no semblance of a secretary. “Excuse me,” he addressed a guard, “I have scheduled an appointment that is due in a few minutes. Do you know where I might go to fulfil that meeting?”
The guard nodded in a friendly manner before pointing to a door a bit further into the main hall. “The visiting room is through there sir. There should be a woman there who will help you.”
“Thank you.” The busy man said, nodding back. He hurried through the door and flagged down one of the several women walking around with clipboards. “I’m here for a meeting. I believe my number was 4-A.” He explained.
After briefly peeking at her clipboard she put her finger to her ear and began to talk into a small microphone by her mouth. “Please bring out 4-A.” She looked back up to the busy man before she continued to talk. “Please have a seat at booth five.” She pointed across the rows of waiting room chairs to direct his attention to a row of glass panes resembling a prison visiting room.
He nodded and slowly made his way to his seat. The chair was surprisingly comfy, so he reclined and pulled a few key documents out of his briefcase. He hadn’t waited very long before a young man was brought to sit on the opposite side of the glass from him. “I’ve never had a visitor before. I’m not sure what to say.” The young man said. He fidgeted around in his seat awkwardly.
“That’s alright, I’ll do the talking.” The busy man said. “My name is Zeke Allen, and I represent the SPWF.”
“Speedwagon Foundation, right?” The young man asked.
“Good, you’ve heard of us.” Zeke smiled as he ruffled through his papers. “You don’t need to introduce yourself; I’ve done my research.” The young man pulled his head back, starting to feel a bit suspicious. Zeke waved his hand back and forth, smiling. “No, no. It’s nothing sinister, I assure you. You see, you are a particularly important person to the SPWF. We’ve been trying for a while to get you released; but no matter what we try, they always find a way to brush us off.” The young man relaxed back in his seat as he listened to Zeke. “Given the delicate nature of the problem I am about to share with you, the SPWF has allowed me to step in on the process.”
Zeke placed a few papers on the counter, turned them around so the young man could read them, and pushed them forward. “You know why this establishment was built, correct?” Zeke asked. The papers were covered in schematics and mission statements for the building they were in.
“To protect the populace, right?” The young man asked back. “They want to protect citizens from us. From our ‘powers.’”
“We at the SPWF have a name for those ‘powers.’ We call them ‘Stands.’ A manifestation of your spirit that stands with you in battle. Normal people can’t see them, making them very dangerous. Once a technique to determine normal humans from stand users was discovered, the government built these institutions to hold them.” Zeke looked up at the ceiling for a few seconds before continuing the conversation. “Unfortunately, these buildings can only hold stand users who abide by the law. A critical flaw of our government is not being able to understand that criminals break the law, not citizens. That’s where you come in. There is a particularly nasty stand user that's been amassing himself an army, and the government is powerless to stop him.”
“What does that have to do with me? It’s not like I’m the only stand user here.” The young man asked.
“No, but your family has had a lot of experience battling stand users. One might say that it’s in your blood, your destiny. It all springs from that birthmark on the back of your neck, Mr. Joestar.” Zeke smirked.
The young man slid his chair back, covering the back of his neck with his hand. “What does this have to do with stands?” He asked.
“You share that mark with a man who fought off an onslaught of stands not too long ago. His name was Jonathan Joestar Jr. In my opinion, the greatest president who ever lived.” Zeke smiled at the image in his head.
“Are you saying I’m related to a past president?” Joestar asked.
“Jordan Joestar, trapped here since you were eight. You’re related to more than a president. You have a long line of reasons to choose you for this mission.” Zeke tilted his head quickly. “Quick question, if you could leave here right now, is there someone you would want to bring along with you?”
“Yes,” Jordan said. he appeared to think for a second before finishing his answer. “A little girl. She’s a little younger than me when I first got sent here. I want to take her back to her family.”
Zeke tapped his fingernail loudly against the desk in front of him. Jordan looked down to see instructions written over the schematics in marker. “7:00, window of the east courtyard (The one with the red flowers).” It read. Jordan studied it for a second before looking back up at Zeke, who was packing up his briefcase. “I look forward to seeing you, and your friend, tonight. Have a nice day Mr. Joestar.” He said, placing the last paper in his case. He walked away with the same brisk pace that carried him in.
A guard came over to take Jordan back. Jordan happily complied, a trait uncommon for him. “It’s been nice, wouldn’t you say.” He asked the guard with a large smile. The guard gave him a disgusted look, and pushed him through the door.
Jordan held the little girl’s hand as they walked through the hall. She kept looking behind her at the guard that was following them. “Where are we going Jojo?” She asked.
“I told you Haley, we’re going to see a friend of mine.” Jordan said with a smile.
“I don’t think the guards want us to go this way.” Haley said.
“Hey, where are you two going?” One of the guards following them asked.
“Don’t worry about them, they can’t tell us what to do anymore.” Jordan smirked. Haley had no idea what he meant. They stopped in front of a window to a beautiful courtyard. It was full of flowerbeds, and provided a great view of the sunset. A clock on the wall nearby showed the time at 6:59. It even provided the amount of seconds at 52. It wasn’t long after they had stopped that two more guards approached them from the opposite direction of the first.
With their guns pointed at Jordan and Haley, they began to bark orders. “You aren’t authorized to roam freely at this time. Return to the correct area, or you will be met with force.” Haley was terrified, and hugging Jordan’s leg. Jordan, on the other hand, was chuckling at the clock, which had just struck seven. “You have five seconds to comply.” The guard said. However, his attention was broken by the fact that he could see his breath. As the guard next to him began to shiver, he grew uneasy. “How did it get so cold in here? Did one of you two do this?!” He shouted. The guard opposite of the two began to back up as he looked out the window. The other two joined him to see that the courtyard had been covered in a layer of sleet. A stranger was walking through the courtyard, directly to the window they were gazing out of.
The man, with an uncaring glare on his face, pressed his hand against the glass. In an instant the glass burned red hot, and the entire window melted through. “Joestar and guest.” he said, without wiping the glare from his face. “Please step this way, we should get going.”
“He’s one of them, shoot!” A guard shouted. All three emptied a clip at the stranger, but to little avail. The bullets slowed down to a complete stop as they approached him, and dropped to the floor. Dumbfounded, the guards stumbled around trying to reload their guns.
“Hurry it up.” The stranger said. Jordan happily rushed to the window. He helped Haley climb out, and followed close after her. He turned around to see that guards had finished loading their weapons, and were preparing to aim them once more. Jordan smirked, and raised his hands to the place that the pane of glass once sat. The air around his hands gave off steam, and soon the empty window frame was filled with a sheet of hot metal. “Nice one.” The stranger said with a smirk, finally showing his relaxed side. “Follow me, Zeke is waiting in our getaway ride.” He ran towards the sunset, with Jordan and Haley following closely.
“What’s happening Jojo?!” Haley shouted.
“We’re escaping Haley! You finally get to see your family again!” Jordan shouted as he leaped happily. Haley’s eyes lit up as she picked up the pace. They had made it past the easternmost wall of the compound before the alarms began to sound.
“Down there.” The stranger pointed to a jeep sitting at the bottom of a hill. He leaped forward to slide down the hill, leaving a trail of frozen grass behind him. Jordan scooped up Haley, and followed closely behind. The stranger opened up one of the doors on the Jeep for Jordan and Haley to get in, and then climbed in the front seat himself. Jordan helped Haley in, and after everyone was buckled up Zeke peeled out. The four disappeared into the sunset, leaving all the guards scrambling to find them.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again Mr. Joestar.” Zeke said with a smile. “You as well little miss.” He said to Haley. “I trust my colleague was gentle?”
The stranger bent around in his seat to introduce himself. “Call me Dan.” he said with a smirk.
“Alright.” Jordan said. “I know you two already know my name, but this is Haley.” Haley politely waved as she was introduced.
“Indeed, I pulled up her file earlier. Are you excited to go home Haley?”” Zeke asked.
“Yes sir!” She said excitedly.
“She was calling you Jojo earlier.” Dan said, sitting back down. “What’s up with that?”
“His name is Jordan Joestar, so he’s Jojo!” Haley said.
Dan chuckled, “I’m going to call you that from now on then.” He said. Jordan shook his head with a smirk at dan’s joke.
“Alright everyone, we’ll be taking a SPWF helicopter to escape from this area. Prepare to board when we reach the airfield.” Zeke said.
A fair bit of time had passed since the sun had completely gone down, and they had finally reached the airfield. “All aboard.” Zeke said. Everyone climbed out of the jeep and approached a transport chopper with “SPWF” painted on the side. They eagerly climbed inside, and strapped in. Zeke helped everyone put on their headsets. “These will help us talk while the engine is going.” He said. He gave the thumbs up to the drivers, and soon the propeller was spinning fast enough to lift them off the ground. “I love it when a plan comes together.” He said.
“So it was your idea to skip the legal system and go straight to a breakout?” Jordan asked.
“I didn’t see the positive points of waiting for a bunch of lawyers to get you out. I’m a hands on kind of person.” Zeke smirked. “Now, why don’t we introduce ourselves?”
“We already did on the ride here.” Jordan said.
“Those were only half of what we need to introduce. We haven’t covered the important part.” Dan said. “Stands; the other half of ourselves.”
“To start us off,” Zeke said, “I have no stand, but I’ll still do my best to lead you all.”
“My stand can absorb and release energy.” Dan held up a bottle of water so that everyone could see it being frozen solid. “I call it kinetic.” As if on cue, his stand began to stretch from his body. Only its head could be seen, but it was obvious that is wasn't human. Its entire head was rounded, and didn’t appear to have a neck. Two eyeholes could be seen, and between them ran a row of yellow bumps from the stands chest to its back. It was almost as though it were wearing a helmet, with the exception of there being no seam to separate it from the chest.
After getting a good look at Dan’s stand, Jordan introduced his. “You’ve seen mine at work. I can change the chemical structure of anything I touch to an element from the periodic table.” His stand appeared, cracking its knuckles. Unlike Kinetic, this one could almost pass for a human; except for its light green skin and skull like face. Spikes lined the sides of its head, and it wore what looked like a tight black coat. The palms of its black gloves were white, and were buttoned by what appeared to be buckles shaped like lab beakers. “I call it, ‘Chemical Romance.’”
“And what about you? You don’t need to be shy.” Zeke said to Haley.
“I can’t show him to you.” She said, holding her arms tightly against her chest.
“They wouldn’t let her use her stand, even for testing.” Jordan explained.
“He told me his name is ‘Slipknot.’” She said.
“That’s alright. You’ll be home soon; you don’t need to worry about it.” Zeke smiled, putting Haley at ease.
The four barely noticed the helicopter landing. After the pilots shook them awake they tiredly climbed out onto the tarmac. “Where are we?” Jordan asked.
“A private SPWF landing strip outside of Cleveland.” Zeke said.
“That’s where I live!” Haley shouted.
“I told you, you’ll be home soon.” Zeke said with a smile. Haley was so happy she hugged him. “Calm down, it’s time to get going.” He led them to a nice car that had been dropped off by a courier, and everyone got buckled up. Haley was so excited she was almost bouncing up and down in her seat. Meanwhile, Jordan was mesmerized by his first look at the outside world in years.
“It’s just trees and houses, what’s so exciting about that?” Dan asked.
“I haven’t seen anything but white walls and courtyards for ten years, It’s a big deal.” Jordan responded. He and Haley were left to their excitement for about an hour.
“Does any of this look familiar Haley?” Zeke suddenly asked.
“Yeah! This is my neighborhood!” She sat up to look out the window. They came to a stop in the driveway of a familiar house, and Haley burst out of the car excitedly. Jordan and Zeke followed closely after her. Haley mashed the doorbell as many times as she thought necessary, and eagerly waited.
“Who’s doing that?!” A masculine voice asked angrily. A man flung open the door expecting a prankster, but soon fell to his knees. “Haley? This can’t be real.” He said, obviously fighting back tears. He pulled his daughter to himself and held her tight.
“Haley?! Don’t lie to me, who is it?” A woman asked. She walked up to the door to see her daughter; and collapsed just like her husband, holding the both of them tightly. “I thought I’d never see you again! How is this possible?!”
“Jojo and Mr. Zeke brought me back.” She said. Her parents looked up to see the two men standing on their doorstep.
“Who are you, what were you doing with my daughter?!” Her father asked.
“My name is Zeke Allen, representative of the SPWF. My client Jordan refused to leave the establishment without your daughter.” He presented Jordan with a wave of his hand.
“She’s the same age I was when I was first sent there. I didn’t want her to have to go through that like I did.” Jordan said, rubbing the back of his neck.
Haley’s dad stood up and gave Jordan a big hug like his daughter. “You brought my daughter back to me, I will never forget that.” He said. When he was done hugging jordan he invited the two in.
“I’m sorry, but we have very pressing matters to attend to.” Zeke excused them.
“Bye Jojo.” Haley said sadly. “Thank you for bringing me home Mr. Zeke” The two waved happily as they left.
“Now, how about we reunite your family?” Zeke asked.
“My mom didn’t visit me once in the ten years I was imprisoned. I won’t give her the pleasure.” Jordan said, hanging his head low.
“Well,” Zeke began, “How about some breakfast?” Jordan looked up to smile at his offer.
Down the road from them, just out of sight, sat two shady men in a car. “That’s them, right?” One asked.
“Well the report said one girl and two men, but I’m counting three.” The other replied.
“One might be from the SPWF, they reportedly left in one of their choppers. How lucky are we to take this spot?” The first asked.
“Very lucky, I can’t imagine what the reward will be for this bounty.” The second one chuckled. “Speaking of bounties, does he want the girl alive?”
“Good question. Obviously the men have to die, but we might be able to use the girl.” The first one thought for a second. “whatever is easier for you. Need anything before I leave?”
“Nah, theres plenty of cars around. I’ll use one of them.” The second one said, climbing out of the car.
“Alright; they’re moving, got to go.” The first one said, driving after Zeke’s car.
TO BE CONTINUED