The Truth Within the Truth: A Fullmetal Alchemist RP

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Marlin stared out the window of the car, barely even noticing the woman getting into the driver seat as he listened to James explain his alchemy and caught a glimpse of Kallu's demonstration out of the corner of his eye. After that, Marlin simply sat silent until the car started and they began driving. He blinked several times, just realizing that they were only waiting on his explanation next.

Since it was hard for him to turn and speak to them from the front seat, he simply held the jar up so they could see it and spoke in a slightly louder voice than normal. ".... I use this. The big circle is the result of my research. It draws moisture from the surrounding air and turns it into water that fills the jar. The smaller ones are intended to lower or raise the temperature of the water. And the other circles will manipulate the contents based on their form. Using these can spread a concealing mist, shoot high pressure streams of water, or create sharp shards of ice. I don't see combat much, so I'm still devising techniques." He explained to them, turning the jar to indicate the transmutations circles as he referred to them.

"My special circle can also be used to drain the moisture from anything it's applied to, though I have yet to find a practical way to use that ability.... The military has requested I focus on that aspect of the circle. Perhaps if I...." After that Marlin lowered the jar back into his lap and returned his gaze to the window, muttering various ideas he was going to try for improving his circle.

"Nice to meet you both." Lieutenant Banagher said with a happy grin on his face. The trio of cars sped their way out of East City, and were now heading into rolling plains, a rather pleasant countryside that belied the grim war just a short drive away. He seemed to be taking in the countryside for a moment before he gave an answer.

"North City, born and raised." he replied to Leo. "Good, hardy folk up there. A bit oppressive, though, with all the snow. Moved to East City about ten years ago, and signed up for military duty. Nice part of the country, I think you'll find. Hope it doesn't get blown up..."

He drove on silently for a moment, but the need for conversation overtook the driver. "So, where're you boys from? It'll be a little while before we get where we're going, so might as well fill the meantime with a little conversation, eh?"

Victor watched the Alchemists converse freely with one another. It was a little intimidating, being in a cramped space with for people with rank and status that towered over him like this. As he detected a short lull in conversation, he decided to say something.

"So, is it... difficult, being an Alchemist? It seems like a lot of work."

"I'm from West city, they hauled me all the way through Amestris for this trip in the desert", Leo said with an uplifting tone,"Will you be coming with us after we disembark?".

"Afraid I won't." Banagher told him. "Truth be told, I don't know a thing about this secret mission you're going on. Brass is being REAL careful about who knows just what you all are up to. All I know is that you're on some vital mission. National security and such. Probably best I don't know, to be honest."

"Which part do you mean Corperal? Qualifying? Researching? "
Roland eyed Victor in his rear view mirror.

"Or are you talking about the unlimited funding or the unparalleled power?"

He smiled as he awaited a reply; he received none.

"Maybe you're thinking of all the girls?"

He glanced over at Tasha in the mirror and gave her a wink.

"Don't worry, Lieutenant," Elias piped in, "I'm sure they've got something fun for you to do while we're gone. I'm from Rush Valley, by the way. Felt a little out of place there, so I enlisted as soon as I could. To be honest, I'm wondering why two soldiers were assigned to a team of State Alchemists on a mission like this. I mean, my circumstances did allow for it, but I thought I'd just be sent to another platoon on the front lines."

A sergeant first class and a corporal with eight Watches. Maybe that corporal's got something up his sleeve, like me.

"Well, if you're asking me for my thoughts you're not gonna get much." Banagher told Elias. "The Brass are some of the craziest men I've ever seen. But it's the good crazy, the kind that knows when a plan nobody else is stupid enough to try is gonna work. Couldn't tell you what, but I'm sure there's something you've got that the others can't bring to the table."

He adjusted his mirror to get a view at Ken, sitting in the back silently.

"You haven't spoken up much, fella. Either of you two know him?"

Victor's face blushed to a red as deep as a rose, and he bowed his head in shame. He took great care to not even glance in Tasha's general direction.

"N-no! I didn't mean, uh, anything like that! I was just wondering, it seems like it must be difficult, uh, keeping all of the information you must need in your head like that."

In the third car, the driver noted the area the convoy was in and bluntly told her passengers, "We'll be arriving at the drop off in about ten minutes. Make sure your equipment is ready to go, you'll be on the move the moment your feet hit the sand."

Elias smirked at the implication of Banagher's first sentence.

"There is, but it's one thing to catch a glimpse of the black coats, and another to go on a mission you think they'd be sent on." Elias quickly glanced at Ken, then back at Banagher. "Can't say I do. Because of these damn Ishvalans, I don't see many familiar faces in the military anymore." Digging out his combat harness, he quickly donned it and checked the many hundred-round belts of ammunition in its pouches, as well as the service pistol and its extra magazines that went on his thighs.

"Where exactly are you dropping us off at?"

Ten minutes? Strange, they really are dropping us off halfway to the target. Kallu made the final adjustments to his outfit, knowing that he would be going into Ishval beforehand he had tweaked his vest,pants and boots to better blend in with the Ishvalan landscape. He slung the bag of stones onto his back, made sure his gauntlets gripped his hands well, checked his pistol and two extra clips before slipping it back inside his holster situated inside his left boot.

"You ready James? This is your first command since your promotion, right?" Kallu commente, "With the first mission being heading deep inside Ishvalan territory to kill an old military monk, with a group of ten State Dogs and two pups, with all of being driven to our drop-off by such... brash beauty." The Stone Alchemist glanced in the direction of their driver as he paused before continuing on, "Very curious, and a nice bit of change to working in the lab all day, maybe I'll even find something to help me create my golems in this library we're going to."

"Well that's why it takes a certain kind of person to be an alchemist, to say nothing of a State Alchemist." Vlad said. His voice was noticeably less carefree than it was minutes ago.

"You're right to say it is difficult. Most people who become State Alchemists do it at some kind of cost, be it mental, emotional, or physical. Two perfect examples are Miss Kellam and myself. She obviously has two mechanical arms, and I lost someone very close to me before I realized my true potential. But we do it because someone has to keep the balance, the equivalent exchange."

Vlad's tone was not overly dark, but it was rivetingly sincere. In the time they had been in the car, they had all seen different sides of the Vampire Alchemist, and somehow they all knew there was more to see.

Banagher pointed strait ahead for his passenger's sake. Though they were still some distance away, even at max speed, on the horizon vast pillars of smoke could be seen rising above the land, which appeared to be shifting more and more into desert as they went. "There's a military staging point along this road, something like ten minutes from where we are now. Our orders are to have you get off there, where you'll be meeting with a security detail to help you punch a hole in the Ishvalan lines. My understanding is that a Colonel Grand is overseeing the detail. Beyond that, the Brass has kept me in the dark."

"Uh, very interesting." Victor told the Vampire Alchemist. He was sincere in his response, but his lack of comfort around these Alchemists kept him stuttering. "I don't mean to sound rude, but I never imagined that your motivations were so... noble, I guess."

The driver in the third car did not respond to the Stone Alchemist's comments. If anything, though, she looked ready to put a bullet in his head.

"Understood," James said loading his exploding bullets. "Kallu, Deep Blue you two ready? We all know this isn't going to be easy so be prepared for anything. Driver. What is the current situation of where we are exiting and rendezvousing with the others?"

"Everything helps, sir, thank you," Elias replied, making sure all of his gear was out of the bag except for his machine gun. Other soldiers tended to ask questions when they saw a man carrying a crew-served weapon and ammo on his own, but the bag was a welcome concealment.

The driver's announcement and James' question interrupted Marlin's train of thought. It didn't bother him much though, he would have plenty of time to experiment later. "Ah... Yes, I'm ready." He replied, holding on to his jar tightly. His focus now turned back into the car, he couldn't help but notice the deadly expression on their driver's face. "Tread carefully..." He said quietly, though he didn't think to specify what exactly he was talking about.

Tasha chuckled as Victor avoided her gaze. "You don't need to worry yourself Corporal. I like to think most State Alchemists are in it for the same reason I am, We just want to help the people. But reasons differ as much as the person, some want the fame and money, some just want to move up in the world." Tasha's voice hardened.

"However, there are a few who are in it for the power that comes along with it. One in particular always comes to mind, and a tip for ya here, avoid the Crimson Alchemist. I've only met him once before the war. I'm sure the Alchemist have read the reports, but he's just sadistic."

"Sir!" The woman driving the third car shouted, preceding her response. "Our orders are to deposit you at a military staging point along this road, just behind the front lines. There you will meet with the State Alchemist Colonel Grand. His unit is under orders to assist your breaching the Ishvalan line." While her feelings for the other passengers were apathetic at best, it was clear the driver had a clear respect for the chain of command, and treated the Lieutenant Colonel with the respect his rank deserved.

"T-the Crimson Alchemist?" Victor asked, suitably intimidated by the title. "What kind of name is that? What does, um, he even do to get a name like that?"

As the convoy moved, before they even recognized it they were driving across sand. By their watches, only about three minutes were left until they reached the rendezvous. Off in the distance, a few dozen rows of camp tents revealed the military's position. The pillars of smoke were further off, presumably at the Ishvalans' position.

"Looks like our boys got impatient." Banagher warned his passengers. "They started the attack early. They don't have the firepower to do that, they'll get creamed without you boys! Hang on to something." Suddenly, the Lieutenant switched gears and hit the pedal, sending the car careening over the sand. The other two followed suit, and the convoy tripled its speed in their mad dash towards the camp.

Damn them. Looks like this is going to be straight out of the pan into the fire for these guys. Why can no one have the patience of the stone? Kallu began transmuting a few stones into some sort of protection for the coming fight, but was only able to cover his torso and left forearm before the convoy arrived at the camp.

"Nice driving, girl," Kallu said as they neared the camp, "You got us here in one piece."

"Hold on tight kids"

Roland sped up to match the speed of the car in front, he wasn't used to driving in this kind of terrain, he had to be wary of the amount of grip.

As they came up to the camp, the car drifted as Roland struggled to keep it under control, before it coming to an abrupt stop.

"Well that was fun, anybody dead back there?"

"I don't know corporal, and I don't wanna know, just learn that if you do see him turn around and head the other way. If you have to talk to him, make and excuse and leave as fast as you can." Tasha said looking at Victor. Tasha lurched and slammed against the door as Roland drifted to stop.

"Well that was fun, anybody dead?"

"Still alive myself a little bruised maybe but still alive."

"Understood," James replied. "Kallu you take the left. Marlion you take the right. I will take point until the whole squad has regrouped. Driver, any extra water you will give to Deep Blue understood? Everyone clear on what they have to do? Good. Get ready to move as soon as stop."

"Well that was fun, anybody dead?"

Victor didn't respond. Of course, nobody had to say anything to confirm that he was alive. He was very tightly gripping the seat in front of him, his whimpering very pronounced. These cars were absolutely NOT meant to hit 60 miles per hour, and yet they had just done so, bouncing through a traction-less desert no less. His terrified shivering died down quickly, once he realized they had stopped. He gripped his rifle tightly, ready to leap out of the car and into action.

Before responding to the Lieutenant Colonel's orders, the driver in the third car tossed a single bullet into the Stone Alchemist's lap. "If you were anyone but a member of the military, sir, this is the bullet that would be in your knee."

Before her superior could protest, she gave an acknowledgement of James' orders and procured a canteen of water from under her seat, which she handed to the Deep Blue Alchemist.

The car had finally come to a stop, along with the other two. The driver turned toward the ranking officer among the trio and sharply saluted him. "I wish you luck on your mission, sir. Give them hell."

Lieutenant Banagher dove out of his car, quickly opening the doors for his three passengers and letting them out. "Hey, good luck out there fellas. If you're ever in East City and need a hand, call me up."

As all the passengers exited their vehicles, they found themselves on the far edge of the camp where they had entered. At the moment, the place seemed to be more or less deserted. Only a skeleton crew of Amestrian snipers patrolled alchemically crafted watch towers, taking a few potshots at targets only they could spot from their elevated position. They found themselves approached by a pair of men, one average looking dark haired man and a massive, dark-skinned brute wearing a military overcoat along with a tan coat, presumably for use in the desert. He was clutching his abdomen, blood leaking out from a fairly fresh wound.


"Colonel Basque Grand's the name!" he shouted over a trio of shots from the snipers. "Looks like you're the special ops team I was forewarned about! Follow me, I'll give you the rundown."

He led the group out to the edge of the camp onto a small ridge lined with sandbags. It was clear now that the smoke they had seen earlier was coming from a village about half a mile from their current position. The buildings were tightly clustered, and even now fresh explosions and gunfire filled the air. The smell of death was in the air.

"I've got a whole company of greenhorns along with three State Alchemists inside the village as we speak. Intelligence suggests at least 100 Ishvalans are located within the village, not including whatever monks that Torul bastard's got holed up with him. It's a volatile situation, but we have the advantage. At the moment, we've focused our efforts on the food storage warehouses, so we've got them thinking that's what we're after."

He pointed at a small pathway up the back of the village onto a large, rocky hill. A few large buildings could be made out at the peak.

"But THAT is where you'll be going. With most of their forces distracted, we've got a more or less clear path for you. I wouldn't expect more than a platoon's worth of resistance, along with the monks."

The other man, Grand's XO nodded in agreement. "We can't provide any extra men for this mission, so we'll be sticking to the camp, from which we'll provide artillery support. If you need a strike, drop a red smoke grenade, and we'll aim right for it."

When the XO was finished, Colonel Grand looked at him like he was insane. "Captain Jenkins, are you out of your MIND?" he growled. "We got a direct order from the Fuhrer to escort these men and ensure their safety! I will NOT be doing that from a safety that my men are being denied. I'm going with them, you take charge of the camp."

Captain Jenkins glared at him and shouted back. "Colonel, sir! Your wounds are far too severe to allow me to let you out on the battlefield! These men need a leader, and they won't have one if you're--"

Suddenly, the Colonel used his free hand to grab Jenkins by the coat and lift him up into the air. "Jenkins, you're right! They DO need a leader! And you know what a leader does? He leads."

Grand dropped the Captain and leaped over the sandbags to the ground below. He waved at the Ops team to hurry along. "Don't delay! We only get one shot before the Ishvalans figure out what we're trying to do!"

Pocketing two red smoke grenades, Elias rushed over the sandbags as he removed his weapon and a belt of ammo from the bag, which he shoved somewhere in the back of his harness. As soon as he landed, he began to load the belt into the machine gun. Even without a shoulder stock, he could fire it with equal accuracy and stability as if it were on a tripod.

"Well lady and gentlemen, you heard the colonel, lock and load!"

Roland took the time to swing his pocket-watch in order to fully charge it's battery, he then proceeded to load his revolver, before finally retrieving a crumpled box of cigarettes from his pocket.

He placed one to his lip, sparks arced from his fingers, and he took a long drag.

This place is too damn hot, why couldn't these people revolt further up North?

Ken got out of the car, he took a moment to get used to these surrounding, while not his first time on a battlefield he never liked it, this moment was short as soon they were approached by colonel basque, who was badly injured, and his XO. Ken listened to his orders, then the colonel said he would go onto the battlefield with them, 'Sir I admire your determination to your job and to your men, though if you go onto the battlefield under your condition you will more likely hinder them.'

"If you were anyone but a member of the military, sir, this is the bullet that would be in your knee."

Hearing that puzzled Kallu, he knew he only had a few years of experience with people, but he didn't think he'd said anything to insult the woman. The bullet she threw in his lab, however, he took and pocketed, ammo was a valuable commodity, and throwing away unspent bullets made little sense to him,perhaps it was a luck wish of some kind. No matter, a bullet is a bullet.

After hearing Colonel Grand's speech and taking a smoke grenade, he started off to the path behind Grand, adjusting his body stone as went, adding on his right bracer, and strengthening his torso with a few of the local stones before adding a few to his bag. Nearing the edge of the road the turned into Ishval land, he held some of the sand from his pouch in his hand, ready to transmute it into hundreds of tiny spikes to throw into his enemies face.

Leo threw himself from the car and fell to the ground, almost coming down to kiss the earth he stood on. He raised himself and jumped on the shaky surface in his attempts to measure the composition of the desert soil. His bare feet dragged themselves over the scarred land as he was introduced to their superior and their new objective. Even though Leo was worried for the sake of their superior, he would not dare stop a determined man in his own path.

He walked behind the group and cautiously looked around himself for any potential threats, though the terrible feeling of impending deaths began to hover over his head.

"Leo, you alright, sir?" Elias asked, holding his weapon by the carrying handle he'd mounted on top. "No sense worrying about the enemy out here, but once we're in the city, try listening for them instead. Looks like it'll be a lot of close combat." He paused to clench his teeth as he finally came to a depressing realization.

"You ever seen combat, sir?" Have any of you seen combat?

"Don't be ridiculous!" Colonel Grand shouted at Ken as he trudged down the path toward the village. "It's nothing but a flesh, wound, I can--rrgh-- I can hardly feel it!"

It was fairly obvious that it was causing him significant pain, but there was little arguing with a man that stubborn. Victor knew this fact well from the years under his last officer. So, all he could do was grab a pair of smoke grenades from behind the sandbags and fall in line with the others. The team began to progress towards the village, but the Colonel stopped in his tracks and punched his elaborate gauntlets together.

"Let's soften 'em up a little."

Grand slammed his fists into the sand, blue Alchemical sparks flying as the bits of eroded stone constituted themselves into a howitzer twice the Colonel's height. He punched the side with his fist into its side, launching a projectile into the outermost building from their approach. The screams of dying Ishvalans could be heard from where they stood.

The Colonel shouted to charge while launching another shot. "Won't be long before they regroup!"

Combat. Is that how you call genocide these days? . Leo had trouble adjusting with this new reality. A string of lucky events caused him to stay in central for most of his short period of being a state alchemist, and the only real combat he saw was at the Cretian border when he was younger. He couldn't stand the metallic smell of blood. It sickened him.

"I had", Leo asserted with his best attempt at an authoritative tone, "I had seen plenty of battles". Battles... they were mere skirmishes, if you can even call them that. But I am a state alchemist. I shall not fail the ones that depend on me

"If you think this'll be combat, you're mistaken" said Roland with a cigarette sticking out of his mouth.

"This'll be a piece of cake"

He gave a wry smile, before throwing his cigarette on the ground and extinguishing it with the heel of his boot .

How hard can this really be? The rest of this "war" is a massacre anyway

The symbols on his hands glowed and a metallic chlorine smell hung in the air.

"Let's go give these monks the shock of a lifetime"

Having missed parts of the conversation, Marlin was quite puzzled to find their driver handing him a canteen of water as they reached their destination. "...Thank you." Was all he said as he pocketed it and got out of the car, slinging his jar over his shoulder as he did so. The air... There's less moisture here than I had imagined. I suppose I'll have to put a little more effort into gathering water. And ice will be less effective. He thought as they made their way into the battle, absentmindedly saluting Colonel Grand when they met up.

Another thing Marlin didn't like about this place was the noise. It made it harder than normal for him to focus. Best to end the battle quickly so he could think in peace again. Though the Colonel seemed fairly seriously wounded, he wasn't taking any suggestions of holding back very well so Marlin kept his concerns silent. Thankfully, the Colonel would be staying back to man his makeshift artillery it seemed.

Upon hearing his order charge and something about the enemy regrouping, Marlin realized he would be expected to do something now. "I... Suppose I'll have to prevent that then." Marlin muttered, setting his jar down and touching the big circle. It was harder to gather water due to the dry atmosphere, but Marlin still managed to fill the jar after a bit. He then twisted it and touched a different circle. This one evaporated the water, turning it into a mist that moved towards where the Colonel had fired his first shot. It wouldn't harm the enemy, but it would limit their visibility and confuse their ranks, making it harder for them to regroup.

The mist descended over the Ishvalan position. Though the enemy could no longer see the Ops team, the Ops team could no longer see them, either. From somewhere within the mist, a should could be heard, and was followed by a barrage of random rifle fire pouring out in the Amestrians' general direction. Victor yelped in shock as his cap was grazed by a shot, and dropped prone. He began to fire his rifle into the mist, hoping a lucky shot would catch one of the Ishvalans. He began to crawl forward against every nerve telling him to stay put, stopping to occasionally fire a round.

"MOVE UP!" Basque Grand shouted. "MOVE UP!"

He impacted the ground again, this time his transmutations forming a veritable wall of smaller-barreled weapons. They roared like a sped up view of a firing squad, hundreds of bullets flying into the mist. "Take that, you damned traitors!" he shouted over the din of his own weaponry.

Up on the rooftops, a few outlines of figures could be seen. Ishvalan snipers opened fire, bullets impacting in the sand by Roland's feet.

"Snipers, 12 o'clock high!" he shouted over the roar of the Colonel's weaponry.

Roland's transmutation circles glowed and he splayed his fingers wide, the air around him seemed to hum.
Sparks flew through the mist, conducting through the droplets of moisture.
Then the electricity arced between the men on the roofs, making the bullets in their rifles explode and showering them with shrapnel.

They fell lifelessly to the ground with a heavy thud, along with the smell of singed flesh.

"That was that demonstration I owed you Vlad"

"Time to see all you watches in action!" Elias sprinted forward, headed towards the left side of the building. As he got close, he spotted several Ishvalans attempting to retreat, so he knelt down and fired until they all hit the ground. He moved up to the doorway they'd exited from, stopping when gunfire sprayed through it. When the shooting stopped, he leaned over to see a young man frantically trying to reload his rifle.

Not wanting to fire in the direction of friendlies, Elias rushed in and punched the side of his head, caving in the man's skull. He paused to watch the Colonel's bullets tear through the mist, then headed back out the door he entered through.

As Elias exited the door, a trio of shots zinged through the air by his head. A trio of Ishvalans dashed into the street and took aim, only for a rogue artillery shell from Grand's barrage to strike the building next to them. Rock, clay and other debris riddled the red-eyed rebels, and they fell to the ground dead.

"Behold the power of the Iron Blood Alchemist!" Shouted the mustachioed Colonel.

By this time Victor had advanced to his fellow soldier's position. He peeked around the corner into the next alley from where they had cleared to see a machine gun nest. He ducked behind a wall just as their barrage opened up. He frantically scrambled his hands around his belt, plucking off a grenade. He pulled the pin and carefully tossed it around the corner, plugging his ears and bracing himself before it went off.

The explosive sphere landed square in the middle of the next, dicing the Ishvalans in a shower of shrapnel. Victor sighed in relief, wiping the sweat from its brow. He waved towards his squadmates that had yet to enter the city. "Street's all clear!" he shouted.

However, fate had a tendency to screw with the young Corporal's expectations. Precisely as he ended his sentence, the door on the house to his left was kicked down, an entire squad of Ishvalans pointing their rifles at the Amestrian soldier. Corporal Kellum's expression could only be described as a complete lack of comprehension before he sprinted into the previously cleared building and screamed for help.

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