rey infinito - Peru Arc
rey infinito - Peru Arc (無限の王 ペルー編, Mugen no Ō Perū-hen, lit. Infinity King - Peru Arc) is the second arc of rey infinito, a light novel written by Junjo Shindo. It was published in the Winter 2022 issue of JOJO magazine on December 19, 2022 with 8 chapters.
It continues from the Guatemala arc, with the first chapter of the Peru arc being the fourth chapter overall.
The 1970s is described by some historians as the end of the age of myths. Throughout history, there were people who attempted to become gods. One of them sunk to the bottom of the sea whereas the other was banished to space. Although there are thousands of holy scriptures, more people started becoming aware of the gods being silent. Kings of countries took this as an opportunity to do whatever they wanted. They acted as tyrants, destroyed civilizations, changed laws, and took land for themselves. Events such as these play out all over the world, even in the present.
There was a man who returned to his homeland of Peru when the 70s began. He was born into a family that became rich off of the oil and mining industries. His father died when he was 17, but he enlisted in the military instead of inheriting his father's lands or mines since he was the third-eldest son. He was assigned to the Agrupamiento del Norte's 33rd infantry brigade and fought in the Ecuadorian border conflict. He suffered from illnesses such as malaria and typhoid fever while witnessing his countrymen and several people shot to death. He was eventually discharged after a ceasefire was declared, and later traveled to places such as Brazil and Mexico. He worked several jobs while traveling, being a day laborer, bouncer, pimp, human smuggler, tour guide, and geological survey assistant. The man always saw himself and others as empty husks. However, he felt like he could hear a mysterious howling within him that sounded like a scream. When he turned 50, he discovered the true nature of his "alma gritando".
One day in 1974, the man heads to Santa Rosa. While laying half-naked on a bed, he has a visitor who introduces himself to his boss as Dos Santos. Santos tells his boss that he should return home soon. However, his boss tells Santos to relax and have some drinks. Consequently, they end up staying in the house for three more days while drinking. It is revealed that the house belongs to Santos, who tells his boss to put some clothes on. The boss asks Santos what the essence of war and murder is, before explaining that they are asymmetrical because they never have equal actions and results. He believes that narcissism, fanaticism, and stubbornness are essential to bringing out one's "alma gritando". Santos tells his boss that there are people waiting for him in their cells, so he finally decides that they should leave. The boss tells Santos to grab the Bow and Arrow. Santos had been avoiding looking to the left of the bed the whole time, where the dead bodies of his pregnant older sister and her husband were laying. He hesitantly pulls the Arrow out, trying to stop himself from shaking. Santos's boss was invited to their home. However, he had forced the man to put his head to his wife's stomach to listen to their child's breathing and kicking. He then shot the man's head with the Arrow, piercing all the way through his wife's stomach, killing their baby as well. He waited for a while but was disappointed that none of them awakened any powers. Santos and his boss then head to the living room, with the corpses of Santos's parents laying on the ground. Santos had cut ties with his family but he still feels confusion, grief, and guilt upon seeing them dead. His boss reveals that he wanted to see whether one's bloodline or environment influences the power that they awaken, since Santos has a unique one. However, since none of his family members had the potential, he believes it depends on the individual.
The man had shot over a hundred people with the Arrow but less than 20% awakened their powers. Instead of wasting his time, he created a set of rules to abide by when choosing his targets. As soon as they leave Santos's home, a horde of Santa Rosa policemen surrounds them with pointed guns and armored cars. The boss assumes that Santos set him up but Santos denies the accusation. He orders Santos to defeat all of the policemen with his "Fantasma". Santos obliges, revealing that his boss's name is Alhorn. As Santos unleashes his power, an aura pulsates behind him and the ground shakes.
Octavio recalls his past. When he was a young child, his father's head was blown off in trench warfare. A few years later, before Octavio could even count his age using all of his fingers, he lost his mother and brother in a car accident. Octavio was in the back seat, but survived. Since he had no relatives that could take care of him, he was placed in an orphanage. Octavio fell into a depression, often having tantrums or sleeping nonstop. One day, the nun in charge of the orphanage took him to the chapel and comforted him, letting him know that it is normal to feel sadness, but eventually he'll be able to store those feelings away deep inside him. One night, Octavio couldn't fall asleep and sneaked out. He tried playing with a soccer ball he found made out of balled-up cloth and strings, but it was boring playing alone. The nun had told him to make friends, but he felt out of place at the orphanage, and the other kids wouldn't approach him. Suddenly, Octavio sees another young boy, smaller than him, standing on the hill with him in the darkness. The other boy, Joaquín, approached Octavio, but didn't say a word. Octavio felt that he could understand what the boy wanted to say, so he allowed Joaquín to be the goalie. Octavio later learned that Joaquín was mute and would be joining the same orphanage as him. For Octavio, all of his distant memories appeared in monochrome, except for Joaquín, who appeared in color ever since their first meeting. Octavio and Joaquín were always together since then.
The duo are now working as salvage dealers in San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru, as a cover job for their investigation. However, Octavio hates it and wishes he never left home. He complains about the heat, flies, gossiping housewives, and having to walk in gravel-filled shoes. On the contrary, Joaquín enjoys it, thinking he's made for work like this. They sold a variety of items ranging from pencils and notebooks to stylish sunglasses and unique trinkets. Their sales were modest, and whatever money they earned, Octavio often spent on food and drinks. He would give away their change to beggars, since their primary motive wasn't to earn money but to gather information from the locals so they could locate their target.
The Speedwagon Foundation had a rigorous training process for its investigators, which included medical examinations and training in self-defense, espionage, and other skills. Octavio and Joaquín were exceptions to this process due to their unique contributions but were still expected to continue their education and training on the go. Joaquín was particularly diligent, immersing himself in the Foundation's teachings, history, and mission. He even memorized the teachings of the Foundation's founder, Robert E. O. Speedwagon, and the history of Elizabeth "Lisa Lisa" Joestar's family. Both wore the Foundation's uniforms, giving them the appearance of secret agents. Octavio, on the other hand, struggled with the academic aspect and often voiced his complaints. An empty house in Lima was transformed into a research base for the investigators. J.D. Hernández emphasizes the importance of desk work and urges Octavio to emulate Joaquín's dedication. Octavio is more interested in learning the Ripple power that Lisa Lisa used. J.D. explains that it isn't just a simple trick but a profound martial art technique. Joaquín, having studied the history, elaborates that the Ripple is an ancient technique passed down from hermits in the East. It harnesses life energy through controlled breathing and circulation, allowing practitioners to transform that energy into powerful physical "Overdrive" attacks through grueling training. Nonetheless, Octavio feels that they should learn it since they are fighting users with powers while they're unarmed. He notes how Lisa Lisa uses it all the time in her daily life, such as how he saw her use it to cook a raw egg yolk in seconds with just her finger. Just then, Lisa Lisa arrives at the base to begin the briefing.
Welmer Domingo, a member of the research division of the Speedwagon Foundation, was leading a section of the investigation. Dressed in a white coat with a metal badge bearing his name, Domingo had a composed demeanor and looked like someone who could grace the cover of Forbes magazine. He reported that the Foundation was analyzing the two superpowered individuals they had encountered in Guatemala. Experts from various fields were involved in the investigation, trying to understand the phenomena surrounding these individuals. Octavio found it hard to concentrate on the report. Domingo highlights that these superpowered individuals saw unique visions when activating their powers. J.D. shares an interview with one of the individuals, Fabio Ubuh, who described seeing a shadowy figure resembling an insectoid nobleman whenever he activated his power. Lisa Lisa questions the authenticity of these visions, suggesting they might be hallucinations or results of certain syndromes. She shifts the discussion to Izahela Mena-Mena, who claimed she could summon a magical chalk. Like Fabio, she too saw a vision that others couldn't perceive. The Arrow was identified as the catalyst for drawing out these abilities.
Aki Marcela de la Vega, a knowledgeable Japanese Peruvian archaeologist, then presents a photograph of Fernando Alhorn, their main person of interest. The photo, taken about eight years prior, shows a man with distinctive tattoos covering his body. Aki Marcela describes Alhorn as a highly intelligent individual with a criminal background, involved in smuggling, robbery, and kidnapping. Rumors suggested he was supporting radical leftists. Through his job as a geological survey assistant, he had come into possession of the Bow and Arrow during one of his routes, which he is now using to shoot people at random, possibly to build a paramilitary organization. Lisa Lisa describes Alhorn as a hollow, frivolous individual and likens him to a hellish entity. Aki Marcela expresses uncertainty about Alhorn's true intentions and raises concerns about whether he had used the Arrow on himself. She plays a recorded interrogation of Alhorn, where he describes a shadowy figure or "Fantasma" that he believed emanated from within him. Alhorn's cryptic words suggested he was aware of the Arrow's effects and might be experimenting on live subjects.
Lisa Lisa revealed that two special investigators, working closely under her, had been in proximity to Alhorn. However, the two ceased communication with the Foundation, raising concerns about their safety. Lisa Lisa believed that Alhorn's actions were a direct threat to her, as the investigators were also responsible for her security. The investigation team grows increasingly anxious as days pass without any news of the special investigators' whereabouts. Lisa Lisa remains steadfast in her belief that the duo is still alive. She questions Aki Marcela about their last known location, which is identified as a "barriada" - a term used locally to describe a rundown, lawless area. The two investigators believed that Alhorn was operating from one of these barriadas, which were notorious for criminal activities and were heavily guarded. Lisa Lisa reveals that the two were not just ordinary investigators; they were trained Ripple users. Lisa Lisa had personally trained them to carry on the legacy of the Ripple, ensuring its survival even if she were to be incapacitated. She emphasizes the importance of these two individuals to the Speedwagon Foundation and the future, urging the team to prioritize finding them and ensuring their safety.
Octavio and Joaquín decide to investigate at the barriada. Octavio feels that the place isn't good enough for a criminal like Alhorn to run his grand operation. Still pretending to be salvage dealers, they pull a cart full of scrap around to blend in with the locals. While looking around, they witness cats acting territorially aggressive. At night, when Joaquín had gone to buy groceries, Octavio is attacked by a group of about ten thugs in the area. Octavio is knocked down at first, but guards his vitals then strikes each one individually by first knocking down the most vulnerable one. He then jabs their eyes, punches their mouths, and stomps on their faces. A local police officer then arrives, but not to break up the fight. From the officer's demeanor and attire, Octavio quickly deduces that this isn't just a regular cop, but the one who ordered the ambush on him. The officer confronts Octavio, hinting at wanting protection money and implying that he's aware of Octavio's activities in the area.
Octavio, trying to gain an upper hand, mentions the Arrow and a name, Alhorn, which strikes a nerve with the officer. The officer draws his gun, threatening Octavio. However, Octavio, using his wit, tries to negotiate, hinting at possessing valuable information that the officer and Alhorn would be interested in. He takes a gamble, mentioning Fabio and Izahela's abilities, hoping to pique the officer's interest. His gamble pays off as the officer decides against shooting him. Instead, he forces Octavio into his patrol car, presumably to take him to Alhorn. As they drive away, Joaquín, who had been hiding and observing the entire confrontation, emerges from the shadows. Octavio had been projecting his voice during the negotiation, ensuring Joaquín overheard everything if he happened to be nearby. Joaquín is filled with concern and alarm, as Octavio was being reckless again. Determined not to let Octavio face the danger alone, Joaquín starts running, following the trail of the patrol car.
After the patrol car drives up to the summit of San Juan de Lurigancho, Octavio is forced out of the car and sees the massive, secretive building before him. Its sheer size and the way it's hidden from view at the mountain's base suggest it's a hideout. The structure, a mix of cobbled-together wings and exposed construction, hints at ongoing expansion. Octavio quickly realizes he's in the heart of danger, likely surrounded by Alhorn's personal army, some of whom might possess supernatural abilities via the Arrow. Octavio is handed over to gatekeepers by the corrupt policeman who brought him. He's then escorted through the massive compound, which seems to be a repurposed factory. The place is a maze, with metal grates, exposed ducts, and mercury lamps. Soldiers are on guard below him, and the path is winding and confusing. Eventually, he's led through a lavishly decorated hallway to a grand room.
The room is vast, with contrasting decor and a mix of luxury and industrial elements. A barrier of curtains at one end hides a figure, who is soon revealed to be Alhorn. Exuding an aura of darkness, Alhorn interrogates Octavio, who reveals he's from Guatemala and has encountered a man who controls iron flies and a girl who uses chalk to make holes. Alhorn doesn't seem to know who Fabio is, but is aware of Izahela and asks whether Octavio could see her chalk. Trying to navigate the conversation, Octavio hints that various organizations are after Alhorn. He emphasizes that he's not just another informant but someone who wants a mutually beneficial deal, since he put himself at risk to provide Alhorn with information. Alhorn tries to gauge Octavio's true intentions, as he's wary of Octavio's potential to betray him, likening him to a dog that might bite the hand that feeds. Nonetheless, Octavio tries to assert his independence, stating he doesn't want to be a mere pawn but seeks a life of his own. He subtly flatters Alhorn, suggesting he has the physique of an athlete, and tries to steer the conversation towards his desire for the Arrow by wondering whether he plays sports or does archery. Alhorn claims he doesn't play sports, but shares his vision of the future of warfare. He believes wars will no longer be between nations but will be privatized, fought by mercenaries for individual gain rather than nationalistic or religious reasons. He likens this new form of warfare to a sport, emphasizing the importance of strategy, logistics, and ammunition. However, he doesn't have time for people who switch sides or refuse to be weaponized.
Seemingly growing tired of the discussion, Alhorn invites Octavio to follow him. They move to a different part of the room, where Octavio is hit with a strong stench of rotting fruit. He sees three large objects covered by a blanket, which Alhorn flips off to reveal that they are all humans. One of them is an indigenous man with his limbs tied to the chair and his hands immobilized by wooden stakes, with burns and lacerations all over his body. The other two had their skin scraped off, fingernails ripped out, and their toes and an ear cut off. Alhorn was torturing them to figure out their limits, keeping them awake without anesthesia, but covering them with a blanket or using smelling salt made from deer horns and hooves so they don't go into shock. Alhorn believes that exhausting both the bodies and spirits of people and pushing them to the limit from stress and fear makes it much more likely that they would awaken powers once he shoots them with the Arrow. As the man in the chair slowly begins to regain consciousness, Alhorn suddenly drives a nail into his thumb and then slices off a sliver of skin from his cheek using a razor. Octavio wanted to stop him, but feels intimidated by Alhorn's piercing gaze and nauseous from the horrific display. Alhorn reveals that the three men were part of militia groups in Mexico and had tried to combine their armies together to capture Alhorn a few days before Octavio showed up. He goes on to brag about how he killed countless people regardless of their age or sex, using various sadistic methods. He claims that it's easy to break people through torture, eventually making them bow down to him once he shows them some mercy. Finally, he orders Octavio to tell him exactly who is leading the investigation and what organization he is part of, since Octavio is next in line to be tortured.
Before Octavio could even think about fleeing, Alhorn's subordinates shove him to the floor and restrain him. He is dragged away and thrown into a solitary cell. Octavio reflects on his predicament and acknowledges that the situation is his own fault, especially since he was even ready to become a traitor. He reveals that when he was shoved into his cell, he managed to swipe the jailer's key on habit and successfully unlocks the door. Upon his escape, Octavio cautiously navigates the compound, avoiding detection by hiding and using the environment to his advantage. He picks up a large shard of glass from a shattered window, believing it would be useful. He then discovers a laundry room and changes into a soldier's uniform, allowing him to blend in with Alhorn's men. As he continues his exploration deeper into the stronghold, Octavio stumbles upon a heavily guarded prison block within the compound. Octavio deduces that it might be where Alhorn keeps his "targets", potential victims for the Arrow. Octavio hears Lisa Lisa in the back of his mind, not forgetting that her special agents could be among the prisoners, but the sheer number of guards makes it impossible for Octavio to act. While searching for alternate solutions, he scans the windows in his surroundings and faintly sees the silhouette of a hazy figure moving in the darkness, about 20 meters away from the citadel. Feeling hopeful that Joaquín ended up following him, Octavio tries to communicate with the person. It would be too dark for Joaquín to see Octavio, but Octavio devises a plan recalling the games they played as children, where they communicated using signals. Using the shard of glass he picked up, he reflects light in a series of dots and dashes, sending a message to Joaquín. The message indicates that he has located prisoners in the top of the south building, who need to be rescued immediately. After a few moments, Joaquín answers "OK" using his flashlight.
Having successfully received Octavio's message, Joaquín knows that he must rescue the prisoners within the complex. As he approaches the southern building, he notices its construction against a cliff side, making direct entry challenging due to the guards and patrols. However, the southern side is less guarded. After navigating various obstacles, Joaquín finds himself at the base of the southern building, ready to scale its walls despite it being about 20 stories tall. Joaquín is confident about his natural climbing abilities, using bars and poles embedded in the wall to pull himself up. He encounters a few challenges while climbing, including a loose pipe and the increasing height that plays tricks on his perception. However, he then touches a sticky, glowing substance which illuminates in a fluorescent yellow-green, revealing a grid-like pattern across the wall.
Suddenly, an eerie chant, "Écue-Yamba-Ó," echoes around him. It reminds Joaquín of the venomous warning of a scorpion. As the chant persists, the glowing grid on the wall seems to come alive, and Joaquín realizes he had activated some sort of sensor. To his horror, the entire building begins to tilt towards the cliff, indicating he had triggered a defense mechanism of the complex. He tries to navigate the wall, but the sticky web is not only adhesive but also barbed. The barbed wires stab his entire body, covering him in both blood and goo. The more he tries to move, the more he became ensnared. Amidst his struggle, Joaquín tries to deduce the nature of the mysterious substance and gives it the same name as the eerie chant echoing around him. He theorizes that this might be the work of someone with powers similar to Fabio and Izahela. Given the vast coverage of the sticky net, Joaquín ponders whether the user of this power is nearby or if the ability activates automatically upon contact. With the wall nearing a 120-degree tilt, Joaquín would die if he were to fall.
In a moment of introspection, Joaquín recalls his unique ability and closes his eyes. When one of his senses is taken away and when faced with adversity, his senses heighten to superhuman levels. He could see in the dark, breathe underwater, and sense the minutest details in his surroundings. He never really had to use this power in his hometown, but now, as a member of the Speedwagon Foundation, it is his key to survival. Joaquín launches himself upwards, using the wall's tiny imperfections as footholds. Despite the extreme angle and the pain from the barbs, he continues to leap higher, relying on his heightened senses to guide him. The building nearly tilts to 180 degrees, but Joaquín swings across ladders like monkey bars and finally reaches his destination. He finds a vent and squeezes inside the duct, making his way inside. He takes a moment to catch his breath and regain his balance, as his world is right-side-up again. Écue-Yamba-Ó's siren also goes silent.
Joaquín discovers a dimly lit room filled with around 15 prisoners, appearing more like a quarantine ward than a jail. The room is filled with the scent of straw, disinfectant, and scrap iron. As he assesses the situation, a woman recognizes the logo of the Speedwagon Foundation on his uniform and identifies herself as Sasha Loggins. Joaquín explains that he can't talk so the two communicate using a pen and paper. Sasha explains that she is a Sephardic Jew with deep ties to Lisa Lisa since her grandfather's days. Lisa Lisa taught her to use the Ripple and Sasha eventually became her most trusted bodyguard. Sasha also reveals that the prisoners, including herself, had been shot with Alhorn's Arrow to observe the after-effects. Many died, and only a few survived. Her partner, Gustave Shaulo Messina, unfortunately did not survive. Sasha further explains that she has seen about ten different evil spirits with various forms and speculates that Alhorn is building an army of wielders.
Determined to inform Lisa Lisa about the situation, Sasha expresses her intent to escape with Joaquín's help. She confidently declares that she would serve as Joaquín's "radar" using her ability to see the evil spirits. Before they leave, Sasha says a silent prayer to Gustave, promising that she'll be right back for him.
Using a wide braided cord wrapped around her arm made from the same material as Lisa Lisa's scarf, Sasha's Ripple Overdrive incapacitates all of the guards in their way. Sasha urges the prisoners who who could walk to follow her, promising to return for the others. As they stealthily navigate the building, avoiding guards and checkpoints, Octavio interrupts their progress. Despite wearing camouflage attire, he noisily greets Joaquín. He asks who Sasha is, who introduces herself as a special agent. Octavio mentions being hurt by barbed wires, so Joaquín wonders if Écue-Yamba-Ó works inside the building as well. Octavio then reveals that he had intentionally started a fire in the building as a distraction, believing it would force Alhorn to evacuate with the Arrow. Suddenly, an explosion rocks the building, indicating the fire had reached a gas cylinder. The building, filled with flammable materials, is now a ticking time bomb. The group rushes to evacuate the immobile prisoners. Sasha, infuriated by Octavio's reckless plan, berates him with a flurry of insults for not thinking about the hostages. Despite the chaos, they manage to reach the bottom floor, only to be confronted by more guards at the bridge's entrance.
Octavio places a prisoner onto a gurney. As soldiers approach, Sasha quickly assesses that they don't possess any Fantasmas. Octavio swiftly incapacitates the soldiers, showing off his combat skills, and managing to steal a machete from one of them. Sasha also precisely strikes the guards down using her whip and Overdrives. However, their only exit is blocked by a wall of soldiers and Dos Santos. Sasha recognizes Dos Santos as Alhorn's right-hand man and the one responsible for her and Gustave's capture. Dos Santos demands to see the power Sasha had gained from the Arrow, but she denies having any such ability. He summons his own ability, La Casa Verde, causing the surroundings to change dramatically. Trees burst through the floor, their roots intertwining and transforming the bridge into a dense forest. Sasha explains that Dos Santos's unique ability allows him to accelerate the growth of underground shoots and control the resulting vegetation, while the real Fantasma is hidden deep within the forest.
As they try to retreat, aerial roots attack them like predatory snakes. These roots ensnare people, pulling them into the air and binding them. Octavio, caught by these roots, manages to free himself with Joaquín's help. Dos Santos hovers above them, manipulating the forest as an extension of himself. Sasha and Octavio find themselves battling not just horizontally but also vertically, as the roots and trees expand in all directions. Dos Santos taunts Sasha, reminding her of her previous failure against him. Octavio finds himself overwhelmed by the relentless assault of roots, growing increasingly fatigued as he tries to fend them off. He laments that this isn't the kind of heroic battle he had envisioned. Although he had his innate ability to identify an enemy's weak points, the roots' continuous onslaught leaves him feeling helpless. He feels reduced to a mere laborer, hacking away without making any progress.
Meanwhile, Joaquín tries to decipher the patterns and roles of the different roots in the forest. He identifies six types of roots, each with a specific function. Among them, he believes that targeting the respiratory roots might be the key to hindering Dos Santos's control over the forest. However, the rapidly growing forest makes it challenging to communicate this insight to his allies. Sasha tries to protect a young boy, but both of them are ensnared by the roots. Sasha loses hope and feels remorseful for not being able to protect the young boy like she couldn't protect her partner in the previous battle. She recalls the mourning photo of her grandfather, and then suddenly a mysterious chirping sound emanates from within her hat. To everyone's surprise, baby birds appear to hatch from it. Dos Santos, intrigued, momentarily halts his attack, wondering if these birds are Sasha's Fantasma. Simultaneously, Octavio has an epiphany, realizing that some roots are passive and don't participate in the attacks. Using this knowledge, he quickly leaps from root to root, slashing roots with a machete and preparing to strike Dos Santos.
As dawn approaches, several cars approach the citadel, which is now engulfed in roots and vines. Lisa Lisa had arrived alongside other agents. They had been searching for Octavio and Joaquín all night after communications had ceased, but found the building thanks to signals that Joaquín left behind. As Lisa Lisa ascends the slope, she recognizes Sasha entangled among the roots. She feels regretful for letting the granddaughter of Loggins be involved in such a dangerous battle. Using binoculars, J.D. tells Lisa Lisa that Octavio is also there, clinging to the mastermind's back. Octavio desperately attempts to choke Dos Santos, using all his strength to keep him restrained. However, the roots relentlessly try to pry Octavio off and even attempt to invade his mouth. Meanwhile, Joaquín swings from root to root, trying to get closer to assist his friend.
Sasha spots Lisa Lisa below and shouts to inform her about the birds that seemed to be a manifestation of her new ability after being struck by the Arrow. The birds are featherless and clumsy, but they are determined to fly. Octavio's strength begins to wane, but he is determined to take down Dos Santos with him if he happens to fall. Lisa Lisa communicates with Sasha through J.D. Hernández shouting for her, urging Sasha to use the Ripple to intervene. However, Sasha is unsure if she could reach the height where Octavio and Dos Santos are locked in their deadly embrace. Sasha then notices a bird tugging at the braided cord wrapped around her arm. Two fledgling birds, which had grown rapidly, take the braid's ends and fly in opposite directions. One end is directed towards Lisa Lisa, and the other towards Octavio. To the onlookers who could not see Fantasmas, the braid seemed to float mysteriously in the air. Lisa Lisa, understanding the significance, takes hold of the braid. The birds delivering the braid were of various species, but all have unique colors and shapes different from their real-world counterparts. One particular toucan-like bird struggles to deliver its end to Octavio, its wings weakening midway. Yet, it perseveres, determined to complete its mission.
As the sun begins to rise, it seems the braid might fall short of reaching Octavio. However, a sudden violent shake in the sphere of roots around Octavio reveals Joaquín hanging beneath. With the added weight, the roots begin to sag, allowing a parrot-like bird to connect the braid to Octavio. Lisa Lisa, using her binoculars, confirms the connection and channels her Ripple through the braid. Sasha also transfers as much Ripple energy as she could. The Ripple surges through Octavio harmlessly and transfers into Dos Santos, incapacitating him. The aggressive growth of the forest ceases as they finally defeated him. Octavio had passed out from exhaustion while strangling Dos Santos, so Joaquín carries him on his back.
Lisa Lisa calls Joaquín over and he worries about whether they'll be punished for their actions. However, a sudden intense pain engulfs Joaquín. Turning around, he spots Alhorn in a distant truck, holding a crossbow. Both Joaquín and Octavio had been shot by the Arrow, causing excruciating pain. Alhorn, retrieving his Arrow, taunts them about their changed fates and hints at looking forward to seeing them again. As Alhorn and his underlings speed away, Joaquín's consciousness begins to fade. Lisa Lisa, J.D., and Sasha rush towards them, but overwhelmed by pain and the realization of his altered fate, Joaquín's world plunges into darkness.
Joaquín finds himself in a disoriented state, drifting between consciousness and sleep, unable to discern the passage of time. Every time he awakens, it is always night. He and Octavio had been taken to the Foundation's infirmary after being shot with the Arrow. The Foundation's staff, including medical officers and researchers, frequently visit Joaquín, but Octavio is conspicuously absent. The staff's demeanor towards Joaquín had changed, with many appearing suspicious and melancholic. Joaquín feels increasingly isolated and yearns for Octavio's presence.
Sasha visits Joaquín and describes Dos Santo's Fantasma, reassuring Joaquín that she does not see any Fantasma near him. Lisa Lisa also visits Joaquín, advising him to rest and sharing stories of her past. She speaks of the challenges she faced, such as when she used to travel the world doing philanthropic and humanitarian work with her late husband, but there would be countless wars in the Asian peninsula and human rights issues. She declares her determination to leave a legacy for the next generation. Joaquín realizes how him and Octavio are now a part of her story, and she is a part of theirs.
However, the atmosphere shifts when Lisa Lisa reveals the grim news about Octavio. He had contracted a severe infection from the Arrow wound, leading to gangrene in his left thigh. To save his life, the Foundation had no choice but to amputate his leg. Devastated by the news, Joaquín later visits Octavio, who appears drastically different. Octavio is pale, spiritless, and expresses envy and confusion over why Joaquín had been chosen by the Arrow but not him. The once-vibrant and ambitious Octavio is now a shadow of his former self, consumed by despair and resignation. Despite Joaquín's daily visits, Octavio remains in this desolate state.
Joaquín finds himself in a state of heightened awareness, sensing the world more acutely than ever before. He realizes that despite not being able to see his own Fantasma yet, he has awakened powers from the Arrow. His power turns his surroundings into perpetual night whenever he is awake. This power is uncontrollable and affects everyone around him, making them lethargic and sleepy. This realization fills Joaquín with despair, recognizing the curse of his newfound power. Deciding that staying at the Foundation would be detrimental to their mission and could potentially harm others, Joaquín chooses to leave, as if sentencing himself to exile. As he makes his way out, he walks past Octavio's room. Despite appearing dazed, Octavio demands to come along. Joaquín hesitates, but agrees. The two of them, once inseparable, set out together, leaving the Foundation behind.
Joaquín's power continues to manifest as they travel, turning everything around him into night and causing life to wither. They avoid populated areas, traveling through desolate landscapes. Octavio, struggling with the loss of his leg, frequently wakes up in panic, unable to accept his amputation. Their journey leads them to the edge of a vast rainforest. Joaquín and Octavio paddle up the Amazon River in a rowboat, seeking solace and isolation in the heart of nature. In later years, the Speedwagon Foundation would name Joaquín's power El Aleph.