The Truth Within the Truth: A Fullmetal Alchemist RP

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James saluted the new members and took his seat, listening to the Fuhrer's instructions. Nodding, James left the group and made his way to the Indusstrial District. The most likely place this ex-state alchemist could be hiding is the slums. No one gives people in the slums, second looks. James ducked into a clothing store, buy the crummiest clothes he could find. He made rips in them and smothered them with dirt. He changed his clothes,slid his gun under the shirt, sliding his extra magazines into various pockets, hidden out of sight. He looked at his face in a window. It was battered and bruised from the fight with the Old monk but just to add to the effect he smeared his face with dirt and hunched over. He was nearly unrecognizable from the clean cut, military man he had been a few days ago.

Amon gave a small start as everyone got up to leave. He'd been stopped listening once he knew the bare minimum. He levered himself to his feet as he muttered "Hotblood, secrets, capture, not kill. Got it," and then jogged off to find Sergeant Elias. He spotted him with another state alchemist. Spiky, or Sparky, or something. Really the only reason he remembered that at all is because she was the only female alchemist on the Ops force.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" He punctuated each jogging step with another "Hey!" until he caught up. He clomped to a stop in front of them and snapped a salute.

"Hey. Sergeant Elias? And... um, you." He said as he glanced at Tasha. He took a moment to figure out which arm Elias had lost and then offered him correct one. "Amon Foern, as I'm sure you know. I just wanted to ask if offer my help on your arm, seeing as it hasn't already been reattached. I can certainly help with the repair if you'll let me. I could even do it right here, if it wasn't pulled clean out of the socket. I can't fix the wires with alchemy, sadly. What I can do is take it back to my quarters and have it ready for you tomorrow, if you give me the specs. Give me enough time and I can even make a replacement for future use, and I JUST noticed your other arm is automail too as I came up, I can make a replacement for that and Hello what lovely hands you have Miss," He noticed and switched over to Tasha without even breaking flow. "I don't suppose I could take a look at them sometime? They seem to be very durable and uniquely modified, no doubt due to your alchemy work I suppose, but I'd love to find out how they work and perhaps even add some suggestions if you're open to them and even just looking at....."

Elias and Tasha stared at Amon. Unless the they interrupted him, they would be there until night. And as he chattered on, the two alchemists couldn't really help but notice an odd stench in the air. Seemingly it had arrived with him.

Anton headed south towards East City Industrial. At some point, the well kept buildings of the city's center started making way for factories and decidedly less glamorous apartments.

Anton stopped at 58C and went through the door. As he went up the stairs he could hear dogs barking and children crying behind some of the doors. Having reached the third floor, Anton dug out a key from his pants pocket and stepped inside. His home was a dimly lit, one bedroom apartment, which, by the looks of things hadn't been cleaned for quite some time.

"Time to eat." Anton said to himself as he heated up a can of beans and boiled a couple eggs. As he ate, Anton started looking through a pile of files that were stacked on the table. 13 of them, each containing a substantial amount of information about the Special Ops team members.

Anton shifted his focus on to one particular folder "Leo Mensti, The Barefoot Alchemist... Hmmm-mmm... Now I see why the old man wants me to keep tabs on you Mr. Barefoot. Quite interesting. Well then... Time for a lil' nap."

Anton laid down on his bed, closed his eyes (what closing there was to do) and drifted away...

Tasha chuckled as the energetic man rushed up to the Sargent and fired a barrage of questions at him. "Hello what lovely hands you have Miss." Tasha blinked as he switched target's mid-sentence.

"Whoa whoa, easy there Spice. Sorry I hadn't introduced myself before, Tasha Kellum, The Spark Alchemist. To answer your questions; yes they are modified to work with my alchemy, and maybe later on working on them, if one of 'em get's busted it'll be nice to have a helping hand in fixing." Tasha blinked again. "Wow that was a bad pun. Anyway, I can't speak for the rest of the Sargent, but I'm already working on his arm, just need to make a few more adjustments and he can get it reattached." She said with a smile. "But for now," She looked to Elias and Leo "You two should check the slums, and try going without uniforms, frankly a person missing an arm, or missing what most people consider a vital piece of clothing would probably fit in more. I'll try some of the more local bar's." Her smile grew wider, "No offense but men tend to get chatty when they're drunk. Especially around women."

Leo continued pacing through the hall, yet this time he did not drag his feet on the floor, and as he approached the window he heard the sound of an upbeat melody. He looked outside the window and saw a man playing a flute and a woman next to him playing a violin, both doing so as they try to dance to the tune. "Guys, I think there's some music outside-", Leo said as he left the window and walked downstairs to see the two performers play. He approached them through the thin crowd and threw in a large bill, large enough to draw their attention to him.

Leo smiled and then looked back at the crowd. He took a step forward and jumped in the air, making a full somersault and landing perfectly. The two stopped playing and stared at Leo. "Do you know March of the West?", Leo asked the two. They both nodded. "Then if you don't mind you play it in C minor-", Leo said and the music started rolling. The crowd grew and spread out to allow Leo to perform his tricks. He would make an elaborate set of spins and jumps, sometimes even wrecking the cobbled street to suit his performance. The hat which was once only filled with many coins and one bill was now filled to the brim with coins and the like.

"No offense but men tend to get chatty when they're drunk. Especially around women."

"You haven't seen drunk soldiers around other drunk soldiers, have you, ma'am?" Elias asked with a smirk. "Thought I'd grab some civ clothes and pose as a medical discharge, anyway." He turned to Amon with a raised eyebrow. "No offense, sir, but the automail's family-made, and I'd like to keep it that way. Tune it if you want, but carrying my family with me made the war that much easier." He paused, detecting a terribly familiar scent in the air that he hadn't noticed before.

"Let's just hope happy hour's not over yet." The smell of blood brought him back to a more focused state, so without another word he began walking to the quartermaster's office.

The nurse looked at Kallu, a bit of a worried look on her face. She flipped through the patient registry, going through name after name. "Um... hmm... ah, maybe--no... I'm sorry, sir, but I can't seem to--oh! Oh, wait, never mind that, I've found him! Mr. Kendrall, he's in room 2-14. That's going to be up the stairs behind me, and at the top you'll take a right turn. He'll be the third room on the left."

The nurse smiled and bowed her head toward the State Alchemist, proud of herself for her assistance.

James looked around. Although it was no particular paradise, the Industrial District was by no means the slums one would at first expect. Factories dotted the landscape every few blocks, and the apartments between them were not particularly the prettiest, but everything matched the off-white decorum that the rest of the city employed. The only hint of real grime was the oddly-colored air, a smog of vague greens and yellows filled the air. So many pollutants contributed to it, James wasn't even capable of picking out the various individual chemicals.

Being a work day, the streets were nearly abandoned excluding him. But as he made his rounds another lonely figure caught his attention. A man walked down the street in a dirty brown cloak. His black hair fell limp around his face; his prominent nose and drooping frown were the only things visible underneath the shadowy strands. He was looking dead-straight to the ground, and had a limp. That said, he was still a strong-looking man, definitely broad-shouldered even from what little hints of frame that Projecting could make out.

As the two came close, James neglected to move out of the way, and the man bumped into him. His face shot up, and James caught a glint of a narrow blue eye taking measure of him. After this second, the man continued walking. "Sorry about that; need to watch where I'm going." was all that he said to Alchemist. He continued on his stroll and turned around a street corner, vanishing from sight.

As Leo danced in the street, the crowd grew larger and larger. Faces in a wave of others cheered him on, even the occasional soldier or alchemist. They'd never seen a style like this before, and it was a marvel to behold. In the brief glimpses that Barefoot caught of them all, though, one face stood out from the rest.

It was a woman, strikingly different in appearance from any other Amestrian. Her face was rounded, and pale as the moon, with narrow eyes. Her hair was long, going most of the way down her back, and black as the night itself. She almost looked like she was from Xing. What surprised him was her gaze. It was unlike anything he had felt; she looked cold, calculating, and her lips were frowning in a curious way. Disgust, maybe? She stared at him like this, sizing him up for a few moments before turning her head and walking away.

"Fuhrer, if I may speak with you for a moment?" Vlad said, keeping up the formality as he closed the office door.

"Go ahead." Bradly replied.

Vlad started with a sigh and said, "I'm sure you know I was pulled away from the rest of the team to assist in General Kreiger's alchemic weapons research division. But what almost noone knows is that I didn't leave there empty handed."

Vlad pulled a manila-envelope from his coat, opened it and pulled out a piece of paper. He laid it on the Fuhrer's desk, and on it was a design for a new kind of Transmutation Array.

"This array is designed to redirect all the blood in a person's body toward their head. With such a large and forceful rush, their veins would burst causing them to pass out and then die of massive internal bleeding in less than a minute."

"Impressive Vlad," Bradly said. "But I don't see how this would be useful on a large scale to the war effort."

"Because it is a large scale weapon. If the Landscaping Alchemist would assist me by creating the array over a large enough area, I could potentially kill everyone there in seconds. But there is one problem. Not even the Strong Arm Alchemist has the raw alchemic power to make this thing work. And I'm the only one who can preform the technique. But...while I was researching, I noticed the work of one Dr.Marco. His project seems like it could work in conjunction with mine, perhaps I could meet him...."

There was silence in the room. Fuhrer King Bradley stared at Vlad in a silence that was... different than the normal serenity he held. A sense of unease was bathing the room, and leaving it with a dirty feeling. Vlad couldn't tell what, but a pit was growing in his stomach, warning him. He began to feel he had made a very, very grave mistake.

The Fuhrer took a step closer. Vlad looked down and saw Bradley's right hand was resting on the pommel of his sword. When had he done that? The Fuhrer finally spoke, and Vlad felt the bite in his tone as he scolded him. There was no questioning just how deeply in danger he was right then.

"Vlad." he began in a deep growl. There was still an odd sort of his usual self, a cold formality in the voice. But it was unquestioningly malicious. Angry. "For twenty years I have watched you grow. I covered you, I kept you safe from prying eyes. You have always had... leeway in areas that other State Alchemists did not. I see now that letting you do this was a mistake. I have just sent out a dozen of Amestris' most powerful individuals to track down one man for stealing vital information. What in the hell made you think it was a good idea to wait until we were alone to tell me you had done the exact same thing?"

There was a cold feeling on Vlad's neck. The tip of Bradley's sword was dancing on his skin. The Vampire Alchemist stammered a bit; he hadn't even heard the blade drawing. How was a 60-year old man that fast?

"This will be the last warning I will ever give you, Vlad. Do not stick your nose where it does not belong. Dr. Marcoh's work is a top-secret project that only the highest levels of military command know about. Be a good boy and tell me who told you about his work."

Vlad looked into the cold harsh eye of the man before him, and for the first time in twenty years, he truly thought he was going to die.

" was just p-passing mention of Marcoh's work in some of the reference material about alchemical process in living human bodies. I-I-I swear I didn't steal anything...I'm n-not even clear on what his goals are. Please...I'm so sorry." Vlad's voice trembled like a branch in the wind, and he shivered like there was ice under his skin.

His heart practically stopped as he remembered where he had seen that look before. It was on the face of his older sister, Adrianna.

Kallu nodded to the nurse and headed towards room 2-14, knocked on the door once, and opened it.


After leaving the briefing room ken first went to his apartment, which was on the ground floor of the building, he headed into the bedroom, he went to one of the walls and used his alchemy to open a door into a small room containing his personal copies of his research notes which he tried to keep a secret from the military, as the copies in the military files actually had several flaws spread through out them. He placed the notebook containing the deep blue alchemists alchemy circles in it saying 'wouldn't want these to get destroyed' before sealing the room off again, he then left his apartment and started walking through the city hoping a plan would come into his head.

Roland was bored during the briefing, struggling to remain interested, he imprinted the man's face to memory, the name escaped him, until he heard the others chatting amongst themselves.

Amaud Octivir eh'...

His new team-mates he was already familiar with, Isaac and Amon. The Steel Web and Spice Alchemists.

Anton was a mystery, his obvious combat-oriented automail suggested more than met the eye.

In his mind, he thought to himself, ensure that he became well acquainted with Isaac, he knew that the synergy between their styles was not to be ignored.

Roland's eyes wandered the entire room, his gaze pausing over both Vlad and Amon. They both were struggling to maintain a straight face, they were visibly perturbed by something. What was it?

He was lost as to where to head first.

Obviously his first thought should be to change into civilian clothes. He took a pen from his pocket and wrote on his hand, lest he forget.

He rose from his seat, and gave an impromptu salute to the Fuhrer, before meandering over to Isaac.

"Let me introduce myself, my name is Roland Striker, the Lightning Alchemist. I've heard about you Steel Web, and I think that your Alchemy is quite unique, and could work well with mine."

As Leo continued to enjoy himself and entertain the onlookers, he caught a glimpse of a strange woman eyeing him in the crowd. The song ended with a strong crescendo as Leo began to tap the floor and rise even higher in the air on a stone pole. After the song was complete Leo jumped down and hit the stone with all of his might, flattening the entire terrain. Before the flutist and the violinist managed to thank the man and his impromptu dance, Leo jumped on the side of the stone building and walked on it, as if he were defying the laws of gravity to pass the crowd gathering around the entrance to the alleyway. The woman he saw was nothing like he had ever seen before. So strange, yet so beautiful. Leo felt like he had to find her and find out her name.

He ran towards the direction he saw her leave and caught a glimpse of her walking away. "Wait, Miss!", he shouted as he ran in her direction.

After getting directions from a Private he passed in the hall, Elias finally found himself at the supply room. Far from that familiar scent, he returned to his ever-so-slightly more relaxed himself.

"Quartermaster, I need to check in some gear," he began, setting his machine gun on the counter, "and hopefully get something more comfortable to wear." The young man raised an eyebrow at the thought of a one-armed man carrying a belt-fed machine gun on his own. "Machine gun, belt-fed." As he declared his gear, he set it on the counter for the quartermaster to inventory. "Nine belts of linked ammo. Individual first aid kit. Two canteens. Combat harness. I'll hang onto the sidearm."

"Yes, Sergeant," the man replied, sliding over a clipboard. "Make sure everything's correct while I grab you some civilian clothing." The man walked into the rows of equipment as Elias looked over the paper on the clipboard. As the man walked back with a small box, Elias put his sidearm and extra magazines on the counter, then put their holsters in with the rest of the harness. "Alright, we've got a gray long-sleeve button-up shirt, black overcoat, black gloves, and some jeans. Oh, and a concealed sidearm holster. You good with those boots and belt?"

"Yeah, they'll work fine. Where's the bathroom?"

"We put in a big curtain right over there, so soldiers can go ahead and change here in the supply room." Elias nodded and headed for it while the quartermaster updated the clipboard. Closing the curtain, Elias awkwardly removed his uniform with his good arm, then put on the new outfit. He only had to take his wallet from his uniform, which he emptied of sand before putting in his front right pocket. The sidearm holster went behind his right hip, and the two magazine holders behind his left. The boots went somewhat well with the outfit, and it wasn't uncommon for soldiers fresh out of the military to continue wearing them as much as possible. He threw his uniform into the box and returned to the quartermaster. "Weapon's a bit dirty, Sergeant. Fresh from the field?"

"Pretty much. Don't worry about cleaning it, I'll take care of that when I get back." Elias put the pistol and magazines in their holders as the quartermaster moved the clipboard back in front of him.

"It's gonna be a slow night, I could use the distraction. Everything look good?" Elias nodded. "Alright, just print your rank and name, then sign below." He did so after reviewing the list for accuracy. "Need me to point you in any particular direction?"

"Yeah, wherever discharged soldiers tend to live. And I don't mean the bars."

"Well, once they've blown their money there," the quartermaster said as he wrote down some directions, "trying to forget about the war, they head for the slums. Looking for some old friends, Sergeant?"

"You could say that." Elias took the directions, then left the supply room. Once he'd left the building, he looked down at the slip of paper and began heading for East City's poorer districts.

"Anyway, I can't speak for the rest of the Sargent, but I'm already working on his arm"

"No offense, sir, but the automail's family-made, and I'd like to keep it that way."

"What about... but... er... aw." Amon looked rather dejected for a minute, but gave a sigh and shook it off. "Oh well. Later, if I must. But I'll be holding you to that, Miss Spark. And you, Sarge," he yelled down the hall at the man's back. "I want to meet your family. That's some damn good craftsmanship."

Amon heaved a sigh and looked around. "Well, if there's nothing else to do, I suppose I'll head over to the industrial district. Take a look around the forges. If it's heat the man studies, that's where he'll find it. On the other hand, there ARE automail shops down there, aren't there? Double the fun!"

Amon strolled off, grinning and chatting happily to himself. As Tasha watched, he casually reached out a tattooed hand and brushed the doorknobs he passed. Yellow energy sparked, and the handles disintegrated, falling to the floor in piles of dust. Amon breathed in deeply and jogged away, boots clomping with every step, taking the tangy stench with him.

".....*yawn*" Anton yawned as he walked back through the same streets as he'd came. Nap time was over and he had a mission and a half to attend to.

First I should find our barefooted friend. Maybe try to tag along and see what makes him tick. Wonder where he'd start his search?

As he walked towards the city's center he spotted Sergeant Elias in civilian attire walking towards the slums. The clothes made him fit in quite well. His rugged appearance and missing arm making him a dead ringer for a denizen of these parts.

Hmmmm... Sergeant Elias, eh? This could be a pain, but maybe I'll start with him...

The liutenant called out to Elias with his soft voice and devious smile:

"Oh, my, what a coincidence! Sergeant... Brandon Elias if I recall correctly. What brings you to this neck of the woods? Looking for an automail shop perhaps?"

James followed the man, trying to stay out of sight but not fall too far behind. The hair didn't look like Lieutenant Colonel Amaud Octivir's hair but hair could be dyed an James swore he saw a scar on that man's face. The more he followed, the more convinced he was that this was the man he was searching for. Reaching under his shirt, he grabbed his gun and quickened his pace. He couldn't believe his luck, to find his target so quickly. This was a good day.

When James was closer to the man he pulled out his gun and pointed at the man.

"Stop and turn around. You are under arrest Lieutenant Colonel Amaud Octivir."

"Oh, my, what a coincidence! Sergeant... Brandon Elias if I recall correctly. What brings you to this neck of the woods? Looking for an automail shop perhaps?"

"No mechanic would be stupid enough to set up shop around people who can't pay," Elias began. "But honestly, I trust Spark with the work." He knew Anton was part of the team now, but he remembered Tasha's concern about the Fuhrer's orders.

"I thought we were all going our separate ways, so I thought I'd find some other ex-soldiers. Maybe ask them if we have a mutual friend."

"I thought we were all going our separate ways, so I thought I'd find some other ex-soldiers. Maybe ask them if we have a mutual friend."

"Ah, sounds like a plan. In fact, my intention was not to stall you Sargeant, I was wondering if you could tell me whether you happened to see The Barefoot Alchemist on your way here."

"Ah, sounds like a plan. In fact, my intention was not to stall you Sargeant, I was wondering if you could tell me whether you happened to see The Barefoot Alchemist on your way here."

"No, sorry. I had to turn in my gear before heading out, and he'd already left before I even got to supply." Elias let his eyes wander, trying to see if anyone was watching them.

"No, sorry. I had to turn in my gear before heading out, and he'd already left before I even got to supply." Elias let his eyes wander, trying to see if anyone was watching them.

"Oh well, can't be helped. I won't waste your time any longer. Go get 'em Sarge!"

Anton's attempt at encouragement sounded hollow. He kept walking towards the center while waving half-heartedly at Elias.

Every bit as useless as he looks. I think I'll look for clues concerning Mr. Hotblood instead. The Raven's Nest should be a good place to start...

Raven's Nest was a wretched hive of scum and villainy situated somewhere in the Center of the city. Some people generously referred to it as a bar. Once there, Anton went in. The patrons all looked like people you don't want to meet in a dark alley. Anton stood out like a sore thumb in his Military uniform, his appearance was not making him any friends.

Anton sat down at the bar.

"Bourbon, please. Cheapest you got."

Marlin began his search by looking for any bars he could find. He didn't know the city very well, so he wasn't having much luck but he managed to find a fairly crowded street. Here he could at least hear about a bar through word of mouth so he decided to linger for a bit. He also made sure to keep an eye out for anyone resembling his target. This man evaded capture by hiding in a city like this. Similarly, he may prefer blending in with large crowds to hiding out alone.

As Marlin walked the streets, he found himself involuntarily drawn towards a book shop. ".... I wonder if they have anything to further my research...." He muttered to himself, forgetting what he had come for and heading towards the door. "...No. Focus!" He suddenly stopped himself, reminding himself of his mission. He could browse these stores anytime. The mission had to come first.

Having gotten back on task, Marlin resumed searching the streets for bars or his target. As he did so, he noted the people's gazes lingering on him. It was then that he realized that he was still in uniform and the jar he was carrying over his shoulder was probably an odd possession for a soldier. He had thought to change but then had an interesting idea. Perhaps if my target sees me, he will attempt to leave this area and I can spot him that way. I should keep an eye out for anyone ducking into alleys or buildings suddenly. With that in mind, Marlin continued to walk down the street while keeping a close watch on entrances to buildings and alleys nearby.

Vlad and the Fuhrer stood there like that for a long time. The Vampire Alchemist couldn't tell just how long it was, to be precise. Bradley was thinking. Contemplating his options. That was all that was obvious; any of the specifics were hidden to him. At long last, the blade lowered and was quickly sheathed.

"You had best choose your words carefully in the future, Vlad. It would have been unfortunate had you been killed over a misunderstanding like this."

Sweet relief. He was safe, at the least. But the Fuhrer was not done.

"Go out there and join the others in the search. You will follow your orders exactly as given, absolutely none of your usual... deviations. If you do this consistently, then perhaps in the future a meeting with Dr. Marcoh will be arranged. Dismissed, Vampire."

Fuhrer King Bradley turned his back on Vlad, expecting him to leave as ordered. Nothing more was going to be said.

Kallu saw the inside of the room. It was sterile and white, like every hospital room in the city. The window on the far side was open, blowing a gentle breeze into the room. There was only a single bed at the moment, and laying on it was Corporal Kendrall. He was looking out the window until Stone called his name, at which point his head shot around. Even at this distance, the stress on his face was visible. Kimblee's words had a lasting effect on him, much more than their relatively benign nature would suggest. That said, Victor tried to force a smile at the sight of his comrade.

"Oh! Uh, h-hi, Major. Come on in."

As Kallu walked over and sat down, Victor started talking as best he could. "So, um, has the Fuhrer given us our new assignment yet? I-I was hoping to be out of here in time to, er, help."

Ken had been walking down the street for only a minute or two when something caught his eye. Up to his right, something moved across the rooftops in a flash. He couldn't help but look up, but it was already gone. Whatever it was, the glimpse he got showed him it was much larger than a bird or a cat. A man, possibly?

The woman hadn't gone far, Leo managed to catch up to her rather quickly. She turned around to see him, and to his surprise a faint smile was now on her lips. "Oh, hello." she said in a cool tone. "You're the man that was performing back there, right? May I say I'm a fan?"

The robed figure turned around very slowly, his hands raised just slightly above his shoulders to prove he was unarmed. As he came face to face with him, James got a better look at his features. The nose and chin matched the photo exactly, and the eyes from before almost guaranteed that he was him. The part that was most coincidental about this meeting, however, was that apparently both individuals were familiar with each other.

"Projecting!" Amaud gasped. James prepared for anything, be it a circle to heat the area on his arm, or a bullet hidden in his throat, or a jackknife in his boot. He had none of those things.

Instead of any of that, he clapped.

Amaud dove to the ground, alchemical energy arcing off in every direction as his hands made contact with the ground. James tried to fire a round, but before he could manage anything the entire earth below them was sparking with that same blue energy, and a wall at least twelve feet high erupted from the ground, blocking his shots and keeping Amaud out of sight.

Behind the wall, James could hear frantic breaths and an oddly-paced sound of boots hitting pavement as his target ran. On the bright side, apparently the limp had not been faked. But he was low on time if he was going to catch up with Octivir.

The man tending the bar at the moment was a burly, dark-skinned man with sideburns stretching out nearly as far as his ears did. He glared down at Anton, and grunted in acknowledgment. He ducked under the counter, coming up with a shot glass and a bottle of the stuff, pouring a little glass for the soldier. He slid the shot glass over to Anton, and began the questioning.

"What brings a little soldier-boy to this part of town? We've got nothing, and the only crime you'll ever be able to pin down on these guys is bein' ugly."

As Marlin watched, an alley off in the direction of the river running through East City caught his attention. Three individuals broke off from a large crowd and ducked inside. None of them matched the description of his target, but all three looked particularly suspicious. Each of them wore a green bandana wrapped around one of their limbs.

It would be a deviation from his orders, but there was no way in hell those men were up to any good.

Leo smiled back at the miss and moved his hand forward, bowing down slightly and introducing himself. "My name is Leo. This is something I do often, whenever the police don't try to arrest me for wrecking the street", Leo laughed a nervous laugh out loud.

"Orders are to find a man hiding in the city with sensitive research, Victor, and don't call me Major unless it's either important or we're among superiors,"Kallu walked to the bed, pulled the man up by the shoulders, and set him against the back of the bed.

"I was born a simple man, the Stone called me when I was young and protecting Amestris has become my life. I'm nothing more than that. The only reason I'm here is because I'm more a detriment to the mission than a help, I'm a bit conspicuous,"He allowed one of his rare smiles through, and pointed at his body, all four and a half feet of muscle and carved skin of him.

"Consider me an equal, Corporal, we are both soldiers, though with different methods of killing and protecting what we value."

He paused and looked out the window for a moment. Feeling the gentle press of the wind against his skin, he longed for the road once again. But that was a long time coming, he feared.

"Now, for the other reason I came here, what are you doing sitting in bed? According to the doctors in camp, you suffered a minor breakdown. Recovery should be a simple thing."

About damn time, Elias thought, giving a short wave in return as Anton wandered off. I swear, I wish I was back in the field. He turned and continued walking toward the slums, taking in the surroundings as he walked.

He could almost smell the desperation in the area. The military had done what it could, but as long as the wars had gone on, there just weren't enough resources to win them and take good care of the disabled veterans, and it was obvious which one had paid the price. It was hard to tell which were the lucky ones: the physically or mentally scarred.

Then there were the soldiers whose girlfriends, boyfriends, and families had grown tired of the military life and left without a goodbye. Amestrians were tired of all the wartime taxes, as well as all the killing in general, so there was little help to be found back in the real world for these people. Just like he thought, all they had was each other.

Those who were able took the jobs they could get, and those who weren't had to hope they shared or that someone would make them share. The soldier spirit of "we're all in this together" carried over somewhat into these circumstances, but so did the looting mentality that some soldiers had felt during the invasions: "if it's there, take it."

Of course, the soldiers had just joined in with the poor civilians who had been here before. Children ran around barefoot, wearing bits of clothing that were full of holes or patchwork. Several children had rags tied around their heads, but Elias swore to himself that he saw one with white hair.

Yeah, back to the field, huh? You probably killed his parents.

The woman laughed along with Leo. It was light, and sophisticated-sounding. "Is that so?" she asked. "My name is Solaris. It's a pleasure to meet you. Tell me, what brings a man like you out to East City?"

"I..." Victor paused. He looked embarrassed. "The doctors wanted to make sure nothing was seriously wrong. They said they doubted it, but with Kimblee they... they couldn't be sure. He's a monster, Kallu."

Victor looked out the window as he talked further. "He's a monster who doesn't care about what anyone thinks... and, and the worst part is that he makes sense. He told me so much, and I don't understand how he learned it all; but it made sense. H-how I was endangering you all by keeping myself on the team. H-how my own screw-ups could get you killed. It's weird, he, he doesn't lie. It's almost like he doesn't need to lie, since--well, the truth is so dangerous on its own."

He leaned back into his pillow. "I don't like being cooped up in here. I want to get back out there and help. I want to prove that I'm not worthless." He looked at Kallu with a pleading sort of look on his face. Stone imagined that if he had a child, they'd be giving him this same look asking to get a puppy. "D-do you think, maybe if you asked the nurse, you could get me released early?"

As Elias watched, the children ran through the streets, playing some sort of game he couldn't comprehend. But his eyes rested on one kid long enough to notice something wrong. He stood out in broad daylight, but a shadow passed over his head. It was vaguely man-shaped, and came from the rooftops. He looked up and saw that there was no one there. Whoever it was, they were heading deep into the Industrial District.

I'm on the right trail, being observed, or being lured into a trap, Elias thought as he began walking towards the Industrial District. Once he was out of sight of most people, he reached back and made sure the safety was off on his handgun. Let's just hope whoever it is doesn't know just how much automail I have. Without that arm, I'll need every advantage I can get.

Elias decided he'd reached the edges of the Industrial District when he began seeing women of various degrees of attractiveness standing around and throwing glances at the factories. Looking at their demeanor, he could point out a handful who had recently gone from one of the oldest professions in history to the other, and he was torn between sympathy at their situation and pride for their willingness to overcome it at any cost. Despite the distractions, he kept his eyes mostly on the rooftops, looking for a trace of his lead.

James got a running start to jump over the hole Hotblood had left. Jumping, he hit the ground running, switching his current bullets for his blunt bullets, orders were to stop not kill. James gritted his teeth a Octivr turned a corner and started to run as fast he could. Years in the field had kept him fit, and his long leg helped him fast but he was never a really fast runner. He turned the corner and saw Octivr running and limping. James raised his gun and fired five shots at Octivr's back.

As he jogged down the main road, Amon couldn't help but wonder at the size of the industrial district. He'd been to a lot of places, both in his childhood and in his time as a frontline soldier. But while each place he visited was exotic and unique, there simply wasn't anything like the grandeur of the massive buildings that he passed by now. Smokestacks billowing massive columns of smoke, the sound of metal on metal crashing as the workers got about their day, and the rush of people as they hurried to and fro on their way to work, or home from it.

Sometimes there IS more to life than metal, isn't there? Amon thought.

He grinned. He'd have to change that.

He clomped to as stop. Maybe they did tell him to find some fancy ass alchemist, but really, what could he even do? Keep an eye out at the most, he supposed. He wasn't really a talker, as he wasn't interested in much other than metal. And he observed enough already. Doing just that would be boring.

Amon folded his arms and looked around, lost for anything to do.

A man like me... , Leo felt somewhat confident after he showed the miss how he could move. "I'm travelling around, looking for good music and companionship - I came from the West", Leo said confidently, raising his eyebrows for a moment when he mentioned he was looking for companionship.

"Solf has a way of bending half-truths into full truth. I've never heard nor heard of him utter a full lie to anyone. But you must stand strong as the Stone. You may be picked away at by the wind of Kimblee's words, and the Stone may scatter, but it finds strength and experience in the breaking. They can then be used to form a new stone, stronger, more durable."Kallu pulled a stone from his bag and crushed it with both alchemy and his considerable strength while he spoke, turning it into a powder, before reassembling it.

"You are the Stone, Victor, you must reassemble the pieces, become stronger and better than before,"He set the Stone on top of Victor's lap,"Now, would you prefer to worry over words that have no meaning? Or listen to the small voice inside you telling you that there was a good reason you were chosen for this tasks group?"

"I'll wait here until you decide, and then I'll tell the hospital to let you out of it's care if you are sure you are ready."

Kallu walked over and stood by the window, again longing for the road, and the stone he had found near the ruins of Xerxes, a wonderous thing, strong and ancient as the people that had once called that place home.

Isaac was about to exit the Furher's office, ready to begin scouring the city for Octivar's location, when suddenly, "Let me introduce myself, my name is Roland Striker, the Lightning Alchemist. I've heard about you Steel Web, and I think that your Alchemy is quite unique, and could work well with mine."

Isaac blinked in surprise at Striker's greeting, before offering the State Alchemist an apologetic grin. "Well Mr. Striker, I suppose I should thank you for the compliment; praise is always enjoyable. I'm sorry to say that I haven't heard about you, however. News about other State Alchemists tends to blend together over in West City."

Seeing that the Furher had dismissed the party, Isaac began to vacate the office, waving for Roland to follow him. Turning a scrutinizing eye towards his companion, Major Berelan began to muse out loud, "But, I suppose your title is fairly self-explanatory. Clearly electricity based; I'm assuming based on your interest in my alchemy that you use metal to conduct the charge."

Ignoring Leo's destructive pacing, and the conversation between the three other Alchemists further down the hall, Isaac offered the Lightning Alchemist a respectful salute. "Looking forward to working with you as well, Mr. Striker."

"What brings a little soldier-boy to this part of town? We've got nothing, and the only crime you'll ever be able to pin down on these guys is bein' ugly."

"Fear not Mr. Barman, I'm not here for you. I'm in the market for some information, you see..."

Anton swiveled on the bar stool to face the cut-throats and backstabbers, who by now had all trained their gazes on the liutenant. Anton raised his voice slightly.

"I'm looking for a Liutenant Colonel. Amaud Octivir, The Hotblooded Alchemist. He has no doubt tried to recruit some of you malcontents for whatever goal he's pursuing. Now... Who's feeling chatty?" Anton asked, as his trademark smile widened to a mischievous grin.

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