The Truth Within the Truth: A Fullmetal Alchemist RP

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Kallu's spikes danced around the brother he had aimed for, only to come up short. With a lack of precision aiming, the devilishly-fast man sprang around them, tearing them to pieces with his little clusters of marble-sized explosives from his pockets. As the stone crumbled around them, the mustached brother prepared for an assault of his own, only for Vampire to come swooping down from above. His claws dug into Krant's forearms as he leaned forward, eager for the kill.

All Krant did was lean a bit closer himself, and grin. Vlad looked down, curious as he felt movement in the brother's arm, and saw he was clutching a grenade. BANG, the flashbang went off, deafening the both of them it seemed as the Vampire Alchemist recoiled. A swift kick knocked him back further as blood dripped down Krant's arms. He stood up, completely unharmed, and pulled out an earplug from his right ear for emphasis, also pointing at his dark-lens goggles.

"Did you really think in such a battle of life or death, no cheating would be allowed?~"

"Of course we'd shield ourselves from our own flashbangs, WHY ELSE WOULD WE SING SO LOUD?" Kren shouted back from his own slice of the battlefield. Krant grinned in glee and whipped out a pair of strange red lizard-like rockets, which he immediately ignited with a swipe of their fuses across the buckle of his belt, apparently made to create sparks by friction. He tossed them both, and in mid-air they detonated, their momentum picking up to speeds as fast as a car as they swirled through the air at Vlad, currently dazed and disoriented, as well as Kallu.

Kren, meanwhile was now on the ground, with James standing over him. His grin faded as he realized that he actually had no flashbangs left. "So whaddaya think here, pal o' mine, do you really think you've won? Because even if you kill my dear old brother and I, your friends are already in on the fun!" He laughed as he threw his own head up, smacking his thick goggles against James, cracking them as he drew blood on Projecting's own face. With a shove, he pushed the Lt. Colonel off and stood back up on his feet. He selected his next bomb carefully, a deadly-looking number in the shape of a coconut-sized grenade. "Now relax, and let the sweet song of death take you away..."


The walls surrounding the combatants crumbled; or rather, they exploded with a force like that of a concentrated artillery strike. Dozens of stone blocks came bursting through, their frames smacking into Kren with the force of a hammer blow. His body convulsed, spun, and ultimately flew through the air absolutely unconscious. James couldn't help but stare agape at the audacious scene, and at the man stepping through the smoke.


"Scoundrels! You dare to attack my glorious country, and my comrades, and expect not to face the wrath of ALEX LOUIS ARMSTRONG, THE STRONGARM ALCHEMIST?!?"

"But really. I don't get assassins every day, so this is exciting. D'you mind if I ask who sent ya?"

Engels grinned, and rubbed his cheek wound a bit more than was probably healthy. "Heh. Sorry to say, but I do. Who sent me's not all that important anyway, what IS important is that you're a State Alchemist, like I was. What's more, you're the one of the Fuhrer's personal dogs. Sorry to say, but that made you some enemies. Including me."

He didn't make any moves to enter a fighting stance. Instead he just beckoned Spice. "Come on then. I'm sure you want to get this over with as much as I do, and it ain't right to get the first go at a man who started the pause in combat."

"Ooh, a bite eh?" The kidnapper retorted to the Lightning Alchemist. He brandished a pair of handguns aimed straight for Roland. "Nice offer, maybe, but to tell you the truth I'm under a bit of a confidentiality agreement. As for getting closer, well, that's be just stupid when I have THESE, right?"

BANG BANG BANG BANG, the guns sounded off as the first volley began.

The grenade went off. An insignificant crack among the shattering booms of the night, as rain began to fall with the thunderclap, and the remainder of the fireworks went off. The grand finale was just now picking up, with hundreds of flaring lights in the sky all at once.

But the thing that held the attention of Tasha and Elias was the man they had been chasing. Overcome by his wounds, he was leaning up against the corner wall on the rooftop, his body shaking in pain as he tried to force himself through the pain. As the pair came into view, he held out his remaining gun towards them. Click, click, click. Empty.

"D-d-don't... come any...closer--" the man said through his muffling mask. His gun holding arm went limp, and it dropped to his side like a noodle. He was a prisoner in every sense but the lack of cuffs on him.

For several minutes, Frieda didn't answer Isaac's question. "... why are you helping me?"

Instead, she continued with the bandaging. Each limb received tentative care and a methodical work ethic as she tightened the bandages tight enough that no blood could possibly leak out. He had begun to wonder if she wouldn't answer, but she finally spoke up a bit.

"We hated the military just as much as anyone else... all of us. We wished we could kill them all, show them the pain they'd given us when we were cast aside. But Amaud was stronger than that hatred. He warmed our hearts; he showed us that there was a better way." She looked over at the rubble where the assassin was with an intense glare.

"But these people, all they care about is death. They kill innocent people, use murderers and psychopaths just to get their vengeance on the military."

She stopped, and tried to glare down at Isaac. But all he registered was a very contorted and confused face of a young woman. "I hate you." she said with vitriol. "You and your comrades murdered a man whose only crime was defending the innocent. But you still protect others from men like these. So I can't." she took a deep breath, and maybe a sniffle hidden in there as well. "I can't kill you, because..."

Her own tears were hidden in the downpour of rain. "It's not what Amaud would have wanted." She tightened the last bandage, and carefully lifted Isaac back up to his feet. She glared at the rubble, clearly sending the message that she suspected something was still alive underneath there.

Marlin walked down the hallway, heading out of it and into, of all things, a spiraling staircase going both up and down. It was made of brown, earthy brick, similar to the orange sands of the desert in some vague way. Selecting the distance he felt was most likely, he went down. As he went, the voice spoke to him.

"Who am I? Hehehehehe... I am many things, Deep Blue. I am an... abomination. I am alsssso a man. And yet further, I am alsssso a victim, of your wretched military. Assss for you, I'm afraid I cannot ssssay. But I promisssse, my dear alchemisssst, all will be revealed in jusssst a moment."

At the bottom of the staircase, Marlin walked through to find himself in an incredibly odd area. It was a square room, about 40x40 feet, with the corners filled in with circular brick formations as if the turrets of a castle were intruding in. All the walls, and the floors were covered in azure blue. Rugs and tapestries filled the room with that cold color. In the center of the room, still in dimmed light, was the pale man. His face stared at Marlin, unblinking and horrifying. But this time, its mouth stretched open, wider than a human's should, and Marlin heard it speak.

"We have brought you here becausssse you are a threat." he said, gesturing with his arms to his sides and above his head. Behind him sat a massive black curtain, shrouding something. "The left hand of Fuhrer King Bradley... you and your friendssss must pay the pricccce for ssssuch atrocitiessss..."

They have many names for that desire all men and women have. Companionship, I believe they call it... If you want a shoulder to cry on, you don't go to a friend or a parent. You go to a whore

"Pick one of the two", the red headed mistress said, She looked up at Leo in a concerned gaze. "Are you alright, sir? You're bleeding". Leo moved his eyes from Girl A to Girl B. "I'll take the blonde-", Leo said confidently but was interrupted by the mistress, "-They are both blonde".

Leo squinted and took another look at the two women. " I don't see.... er...", Leo struggled to keep himself steady. The mistress waved her hand and the two women walked away, only to be replaced by a large and burly man. "I... I don't pick you!", Leo said as he approached him.

"Get rid of this drunk, Ronald", The mistress ordered the thug.

Kallu, sight regained, saw the mustaschioed brother start a rocket that came at him. The thing was fast, but went in a predictable pattern, in a slight spiral that was easy to duck under, if he had been a normal sized man. The rocket simply went past his head.

Kallu dropped into a crouch and transmuted, a single stone pillar that launched him at the only brother still standing, the momentum of the transmutation sending him crashing into the man. Kallu slammed his fist into his face three times while holding onto the man's neck. One lens of his goggles was cracked, the other had shattered and a small piece had lodged in his eye,the rest of his face was busted, his nose obviously broken, two teeth chipped and a wicked cut on his tongue.

"Do you submit to the authority of Amestris?" Kallu said as he stood, holding the man by his neck and groin, ready to slam him directly into the nearby wall. He was a bit heavier than he looked, but that was probably just the explosives he carried on him.

"...and it ain't right to get the first go at a man who started the pause in combat."

Amon chuckled. "Very kind of ya. A pity one of us has to die. I think we mighta had fun knowing each other." He unsealed his pockets with alchemy, then leveled his spear at Engels. "Shall we dance?"

He was too far away to surprise Engels with a sudden move, so Amon didn't try. Rather, he made it deliberate. He came forward at a slow trot, then at a run, then at a sprint. As he neared, he let loose a fearsome warcry that only a man who would face you head on would yell.


Unfortunately for Engels, whatever he appeared to do, facing him head on was the last thing Amon was going to try.

In the army, there was a simple rule: You lose your gun, you die. So it wasn't really surprising that Amon never threw his spear away when he didn't have a backup. This time, however, was the exception. When he was just about to reach Engels, Amon switched his grip. In the few seconds that he had, he lifted his spear and hurled it at Engels' chest. Then he plunged his hands in his previously sealed pockets and drew out two long, jagged knives, their material still being transmuted as he drew them. While the spear went for Engel's upper body, Amon used his newly gained agility and went low, his body blurring as he ducked under the lance and went for Engels' stomach.

"It's not what Amaud would have wanted." Freida's words dug into Isaac's mind. They sat there, like an itch he couldn't reach, a scab he couldn't pick at, a tickle that refused to abate. The bitterness that they carried was irrelevant, the hurt and the hate that they communicated meaningless. The woman's fury and anger were apparent in the way that she carried herself, the way that she glared at Isaac with those self-righteous eyes, judging him.

No, what made those words so painful was not their harsh edge. It was the absolute conviction with which they were said, their speaker comfortable in the knowledge that they were absolutely correct. The simple fact of the matter was that Freida knew that she spoke the truth, that Octivar was truly this pacifistic paragon, that the military was guilty of these heinous crimes. They was no way she was lying.

And Isaac hated her for it.


His left fist cracked as it slammed against the wall, enough force behind the punch to crack the stone. The pain that pulsed through his hand was sharp and fresh, as opposed to the dull, constant ache that flowed through the rest of Isaac's body. It was something he could focus on, something to quell the thoughts that raced through his frenetic mind. He was a soldier, dammit. His loyalty could not be so easily destroyed.

"Who the hell do you think you are?"

Isaac's question hung in the air, sharp and barbed, neither needing nor expecting a response. "I didn't spare you so you could do this to me; I didn't save you so you could lecture me about good and evil!

"This isn't right. You're lying, you have to be. Tell me you're lying, damn you!" As he cried out, Isaac spun about, turning to face his savior and destroyer. Cursing her, he brought up a fist, ready to lay this woman low, to force her to take back her disgusting words.

Freida made no move to dodge or block the punch. There was no need to; Isaac's fist had halted as soon as he saw her tear stained face.

Allowing his arm to drop to his side, the soldier followed her gaze, to the pile of rubble that buried his would-be assassin. Something beneath the debris shifted, a few small pebbles and clumps of dirt rolling away in response.

Without a word, Isaac pulled off his gloves, tossing them carelessly to the street. One had been burnt and charred beyond use, the other had become soiled by crimson stains. It seemed he would have to do this the old fashioned way. Stooping low, Isaac shielded a portion of the ground with his own body, the rain pattering off his back as he drew a transmutation circle with his own blood-stained bandages. Somehow, it seemed appropriate.

After roughly half a minute had passed, the circle was complete. Slamming his bare palms against the wet stone, Isaac activated the symbols, a current of energy passing through him. The stones and earth that had heaped themselves over the masked man suddenly moved aside, revealing the bruised, battered, but breathing figure beneath them. The pavement around the assassin's arms and legs twisted and buckled, looping around his limbs, binding him to the earth with impossibly thick manacles.

His work was done, but Isaac refused to move, refused to stand back up while this woman was still here. His whisper was nearly drowned out by the steady tapping of the rain, but it was clearly audible to Freida, close as she was. "Leave.

"Leave me alone, and don't come back. I am a soldier, loyal to my Fuhrer, loyal to my country. You are my enemy. If I ever see you again, I'll..." I'll what? Kill her, after she saved my life? Imprison her, when she's done nothing to deserve it? What will you do, Isaac?

Isaac's shout was loud enough to be heard by the few civilians brave or foolish enough to venture outdoors, his anguish apparent through his words. "Just go! If you hate me so much, just leave me; I don't need you to save me!" You know that she's telling the truth; you know that you're in the wrong here. "Crawl back to your gutters and your hideouts, back to your traitorous allies and friends!" Shouting won't fix anything Isaac. You can't change what is true just by wishing it away. "I swear by everything holy and hellish, leave me here, or I will make you regret it!" Stop lying to yourself, fool. What could you possibly do to her?

Finally, Isaac fell silent, his face thrust towards the weeping sky, freezing rain sliding from his features to the muddy ground beneath him. A few drops of salty warmth fell as well.

"That was a hell of a workout." Elias paused to pick up his grenade launcher. "I don't know who you are," he opened the breech, which sent the spent grenade flying out, "but I'm going to find out." He removed a fresh grenade from a pouch on his harness. "First, I'll let you know a little something about me, though." He inserted the grenade into the launcher. "See, I didn't chase you because of orders," he closed the launcher's breech, "direct or standing. I chased you," he replaced the launcher itself in his harness, "because that man you attacked has saved my life three times now." He flipped the shotgun over in his left hand.

"So," he loaded a shell into the magazine, "I'm going to ask you some questions," a second shell, "and you're going to answer them," a third, "or the rest of your life will be very," a fourth shell, "very miserable." Elias loaded a fifth shell. "So, why attack the kid?" As he waited for an answer, he loaded a sixth shell into the magazine before resuming his approach, shotgun at port arms.

"The StrongArm Alchemist..." Vlad muttered under his breath. He limped out of the way of the newly arrived alchemist and tried to rub the ringing out of his ear. He was out of this fight for now.

Marlin kept his eyes fixed on the man before him, but took in his surroundings in his peripherals. It was interesting that such a structure existed so far underneath the city, especially without the military's knowledge. He had little time to ponder it though as the man, or abomination as it referred to itself, made it's intentions clear. Marlin's fears came true as it seemed the man bore him ill will. So becoming a State Alchemist has come back to haunt me... I suppose this is yet another cross I have to bear for my work.

Marlin took a deep breath to compose himself. The man's appearance was truly disturbing, making the thought of conversing with and possibly battling with him most unsettling. "....I know not what atrocities you speak of... My work will bring the waters of life to all who need them, no matter where they may be... And though I do not always agree with the military and their ways, they are funding that work..." He responded to the man.

"... You say I am a threat. I take that to mean you do not intend for me to leave here alive? I'm afraid I can't allow that." As he finished, he set his jar down on the ground and kept his hands on it. It felt like he would need a great amount of courage and will to face this creature, but he could not afford to die here. Marlin never took his eyes of the man. He simply watched and waited for his reply, ready to defend himself should it be in the form of an attack.

Anton had been making his way through the complex sewers for nearly an hour. He could hear the faint sounds of the fireworks and commotion on the surface. The sewers weren't new to him, in fact, they had come in handy on some past missions.

I have a bad feeling about this. For them to navigate these sewers with such ease... There must've been traitors in Demitri's den.

The Lieutenant would get his answer sooner than he expected. As he reached a larger, open area of the sewers he saw them. Corpses of Demitri's patrons strewn across the floor, some of them floating in the sewage. And at the centre, Jeanne, gun in hand and a cloaked figure he did not recognize.

Anton sighed.

"So it all comes to this eh? What's this all about then, Jeanne? Where's Demitri? Where's the kid? And who's the guy in the cloak?"

James starred as the large, musclebound Major Armstrong punched his way through the wall. He had heard of Alex Armstrong, who hadn't heard of the Armstrongs and their money. James had seen Armstrong before but had deliberately avoided the over the top Major.

"Thanks for the hand, Major but I think we could have taken them. At any rate could you contain one of these two miscreants? I would but it's not really my strong point and I hear that you specialize in ground work."

Tasha stood from her cover as the dust from the grenade cleared. She sighed, glad the firefight was over. Now they had the would-be assassin to deal with. With a running jump she cleared the gap and walked up beside Elias and sneer on her face. "I'd answer him buddy," She chimed in as Elias finished his threat. "You've seen what he can do when on the defense, and look where that got you."

Roland immediately dove left to avoid the gunfire. He uncoiled his whip and lashed out at the attacker's hands, causing a him to drop one of the guns, whilst leaving a deep gash in his forearm. He grabbed a round from his pocket and threw it at him, igniting the propellant with his current mid-air, catching the gunman in the shoulder.

Before Leo could really even process through his drink-addled mind what was happening, the thug decked him with a blow of immense physical strength, directed precisely into his schnoz. Barefoot tumbled back, knocking tables, chairs, and the odd patron or two out of the way before crashing into the wall with a thud. He looked to his left and right, startled, only seeing a bald and very confused man staring at him from under his thick cloak. A little trigger sparked in Leo's mind. One that didn't quite make sense to his conscious thought, but on the inside read approximately "Waste this bastard!"

Leo stomped his foot into the ground, cracking the stone tiling and sending it into overdrive motion with alchemical sparks pouring into it. A pillar of stone, shaped roughly into a fist, smacked straight into the thug's stomach, keeling him over. Leo leaped into the air and with a bit of difficulty wobbled up a foot to do the same to the ceiling. It crackled a bit before a second fast came down and smacked him across the back of his head. The bouncer screamed and cried in confusion and pain before Leo began to spin. Slowly at first, before building more and more momentum. Whores and patrons shot off in every direction, cowering as the glorified human tornado wound himself into a dervish of remarkable speed. Unsure of what, precisely, he was trying to accomplish, the Drunken Alchemist stuck out his leg as he spun and let it wildly smack straight into the face of the hunched over thug. A silly face wobbled as the fat jiggled and spit escaped his mouth before the bouncer went careening into a nearby wall.

All was silent as eyes fell on Leo. The dust had yet to settle, and he was breathing heavily. His last bits of clarity were addled by the adrenaline now augmenting the alcohol in his body. He looked around, almost nervous looking before throwing up a fist and shouting "Everybody in the house gets a free round, my treat!"

Where before the patrons had been terrified, they now cheered in excitement. Having forgotten he wasn't still in the bar, Leo didn't really understand yet just what he had paid for, but it was something to endear himself to them at lea--

"RRRRRRAGH!" shouted the bouncer, now charging out of the hole his body had made in the wall as fast as he could. With a devastating right hook, his fist crashed into Leo's body and bent him down and to the right, as if his spine had been snapped from the blow. But rather than falling or, really, reacting at all, Leo's just rolled with the punch and stopped with his feet still on the ground. With force, he pushed his face back to stare at the bouncer. "You done yet?"

Leo tapped his foot on the ground, and a final stone pillar pushed the bouncer up head-first through the ceiling and up to the second floor. Leo threw up his fists in victory to scattered applause and boasted "There's no competing with the almighty, immortal Barefoot Alchemist!"

Everyone had entirely forgotten the brown-cloaked little bald man in the corner, now watching with intense curiosity. "Immortal, eh?" he whispered to himself.

"Do you submit to the authority of Amestris?"


The mustached brother's head lolled to the side, and his mouth hung open long enough to let a little blood and drool dribble out. Kallu had gone just a tiny bit overboard, he suspected, as the brother was entirely unconscious. On the bright side, the fight was over, and he could relax a bit. On the other, there was now a chance that without a fight to distract him, he would have to interact with the Strongarm Alchemist...

Engels was a strong man, but a slow man. His power was in his long reach and his powerful muscles, not to mention his digging alchemy. Against a man who he had lost the element of surprise against, he needed brute strength to carry the day. But this time, that was not enough. Amon's spear cracked against Engels' own, his massive wooden piece of a insanity called a weapon twirling in an oddly graceful path to snap it off in another direction. But he was surprised to see Spice shooting up from below his waistline. His spear was too long to properly block, and the non-pointed end only managed to keep away a single arm. The other buried itself into his stomach, blood pouring out like a fountain as he stepped back. The jagged weapon only drew more blood from that, cutting his insides to ribbons as it exited him.

Engels looked shocked, horrified even. As his life drained out of his abdomen, he dropped his spear and tried to clutch it shut with his hands. Amon took that moment to retrieve his spear, and drive it through the Mole Alchemist's chest. Engels stood in the air for a moment, stiff as a board, before falling back and crumbling into a lifeless heap.

The rain continued to fall, already starting to wash away the blood.

Frieda's face was not cold. But it was expressionless. There was no serenity in her eyes, but no passion or anger tugged at her lips. She only watched, still, as Isaac shifted through his own mindsets and violent outbursts, his rage as he came to realize what she had known all along. He made threats; he tried to strike her, but he couldn't. She knew it, and so did he to his own disappointment. He told her to leave, to never come back, to prove her hatred. But she did not step back an inch, or turn away. There was only so much that he could do to make her go, and let her haunting gaze fade from memory. That was why she would not go.

Finally, he gave up. Steel Web threw himself to the street, cursing everything as a few bitter tears escaped the torrent of hatred. At this moment, Frieda walked forward and kneeled down next to him. She didn't touch him, keeping a distance of about a foot. She only waited for him to finish expressing his torment, and look up at her for a moment. She couldn't give him a reassuring look, or any kind words. Her own personal hatred controlled her too much for that. But she remembered what her commander, her friend, practically her father had told her. She could still see his beaming face as he said it, too.

"We're not the military, Frieda. Never forget that. We can't look at a man's face, or a paper, and know about him. We have to keep moving forward, and let the past be the past. If you see a friend in need, help him. Even if he's not your friend yet. If we're going to improve this nation then we can't do it through hatred."

Miss Montierre sighed. He was right. If this man might see the truth as they had, she couldn't afford to let his actions get in the way of that.

"Loyalty... does not always mean following orders." she told him. She took out her bandages, and began to treat the wounds of the assassin. She asked herself why, and couldn't find an answer she liked; but any information that he could give might be useful.

"Sometimes," she continued. "loyalty is about following the spirit of what you love, and not the letter of it. That's why Amaud left. Amestris isn't about genocide, assassination squads, or war with everyone in sight, is it?"

"So," Elias loaded a shell into the magazine, "I'm going to ask you some questions," a second shell, "and you're going to answer them," a third, "or the rest of your life will be very," a fourth shell, "very miserable." Elias loaded a fifth shell. "So, why attack the kid?" As he waited for an answer, he loaded a sixth shell into the magazine before resuming his approach, shotgun at port arms.

"I'd answer him buddy," Tasha chimed in as Elias finished his threat. "You've seen what he can do when on the defense, and look where that got you."

The masked assassin chuckled, wheezing a bit as his wounds overtook him. "Lady, you don't need to tell me twice. I've seen what ol' Brandon can do up close. Hehehe--huHUAGH" The man leaned forward and puked out a glob of blood onto the roof. His wounds would bring him down soon. He wiped a bit of spit from his revealed mouth, and grinned. "Doesn't matter who sent me. Just following orders."

"Ehehehehehe..." the snake man chortled as he watched Marlin prepare. He held a hand out as if to try and stop him. "You think that you are exempt from the horrorssss of your military? You are a sssstate alchemisssst, yessss? Tell me, what do you know about... chimerassss?"

In the corners of Marlin's eyes, he saw movement. For the first time he looked up, and saw that the room was taller than he'd given it credit for. MUCH taller. And all around it were circling balconies and walkways, where he swore shadows danced about. Foreboding, to say the least.

"What's this about?!" Jeanne shouted back at Anton. "What's this about?! This is about you, you son of a bitch!" she leveled a gun at him. "You're just another one of Bradley's hounds, Anton! Another lackey to suppress the innocent and the downtrodden, while the elite just sit in their plush thrones like none of our problems matter! This country is foul, and I've found people who are ready to cleanse it. The first step, of course, is getting rid of that smug bastard Bradley. But to do that, we'll have to eliminate his defenses. I.E., YOU."

She walked over to the hooded man. "As for this..." she pulled back the hood to reveal Demitri, of all people. His mouth was gagged, and he appeared to be desperately trying to shout something to the Lieutenant.

"It took a LOT of work to get this far, soldier. This country's going to change, and unless you surrender it's going to be done over your dead body, and his!"

Armstrong's eyes twinkled in a manner that James honestly wasn't prepared for. "Certainly, sir!"

A few swift punches to the ground later, and a series of manacles and shackled covered the clean-shaven brother Kren. The odd part of this situation was that every single piece of alchemized equipment was emblazoned with the image of Major Armstrong, flexing and revealing his impressive yet horrifying shirtless body to the world.

A swift and well-rehearsed salute from Armstrong revealed that yes, he had seen absolutely nothing wrong with his creations. James felt a grimace growing as Armstrong's gears suddenly shifted. He crouched down beside the man and examined him closely. "Hmph..." he grunted.

"They don't seem to bear any markings that I recognize. No symbols, no uniform. But from what I understand there are similar attacks happening around the city. They must be connected, but, who could they be working for?"

The gunman's wound burned from the fire that Roland sent their way, searing the revealed patch of skin, with the small consolation of closing the wound. They were immediate in their response, firing a shot into a small metal bar hanging next to Lightning's head. The ricochet sent the loose bar spinning and smacking Roland in the back of the head. He didn't have time to so much bend over and rub his head before a second shot ripped through his shirt. He tried to take cover a moment too late, as the thief smacked him in the bridge of the nose with their gun, bashing it open and letting the blood pour out.

A moment later, the thief retracted and immediately re-entered the fray with a side kick, burying their stiletto heel into his side.


Stiletto heel?

Kallu gently set the man he was carrying down next to the wall, and entombed him until only his head poked out, much as he had with Teole in Ishval. After tapping the man a handful of times, making sure that he was truly unconscious, he turned to see Armstrong and James speaking, along with Armstrong's own idea of a place to hold the captives. He transmuted again and covered the man just as his brother, but without covering any of the Strongarm's garish manacles, the man was known to be incredibly sensitive, and took just as much pride in his creations as any Alchemist would.

"Major,"He said nodding his head,"Thank you for your... intervention, but we have these men under control now. Interrogation is what is needed now, unfortunately."

"They don't seem to bear any markings that I recognize. No symbols, no uniform. But from what I understand there are similar attacks happening around the city. They must be connected, but, who could they be working for?"

"Ex- Lieutenant Colonel Octvir. Or at least the same group he was working with. I hear he was killed a few days ago. This could be a revenge attack. There were reports of others working with him. Another State Alchemist was able to capture one of them. It stands that if there were more than one working than they would perform attacks like this as revenge. Or a distraction to free their comrade," James bent down in front of the clean shaven brother.

" I'm willing to bet that both of these two are dissidents of the military. Most likely deserters or retired soldiers. Possibly civilians who are feed up, but considering their skill sets in explosives they have some military training or workers in a munitions factory. As for their outfits it stands to reason that the best way to not stand out is not to wear an uniform or a symbol well out in the open. It helps to blend in. Well as much those outlandish clothes do. I'm sure back at a safe-house they have set up" James backhanded the captive. "So come on speak. What is goal. Your plans? Your leader. Lets hear everything you have."

Tasha raised an eyebrow. The man was not afraid of death, that much was clear. "Well then, you can tell us who ordered you then." She said kneeling down to come to eye level with the man. "And don't forget, your not dead yet,so we can make your last few minutes very long and very painful." She warned him.

Blood had sprayed on Amon as he backed away a few paces as Engels tumbled to the ground, and now it dripped down his face along with the rain and stained his uniform. Staring at the now lifeless body for a few more seconds, Amon sheathed his knives behind him on the small of his back, in his grey leather belt. Turning his gaze away he went to pick up his abandoned spear. Twirling it once, he transmuted it into a folded and compact for, which he then hooked and onto a stray loop on the belt of his jumpsuit, then walked over to the hole. It appeared to lead into the sewers.

Amon prepared to drop down, but something made him hesitate. Looking back at the crumpled body of the former alchemist, something twinged inside of him. Stepping back from the hole, Amon walked over to the corpse and stopped in front of it. He snapped to parade ground attention and intoned in a loud, clear voice,

"With all respect we do now name
Those here who played this deadly game
Thru' blood and steel and guts galore
they fought this wretched, bloody war
For house and home, and country all
Did for their people heed the call
And with their comrades lead the fight
To Hell's own gate, and Heaven's light
Now we as soldiers must take on
their task laid down for us this dawn
Though Death be e'er 'round the bend
Forever Onward, to the End."

Nothing was heard but the continuous patter of the rain. Amon raised his arm in a formal salute. "Godspeed, Major Engels," he said.

Images rose unbidden in his mind. Amon closed his eyes to try and shut them out, but they just played across his eyelids. Amon watched as a young man tried to keep a cut belly from bleeding on his fellow soldier. Watched as the wounded fool rattled off jokes with his dying breath. Watched as the young man recited that very same poem over the body of his once best friend.

"Godspeed," Amon whispered.

Then he opened his eyes, ran over to the hole into the sewers, and leaped in.

Roland rose from the ground, blood still gushing from his nostrils. He took his nose in between his fingers and snapped it back into place to set it, just as he had done Tash's before.


His face was bright red with rage. He stumbled forward clutching his side where the heel had dug in.

"I don't normally get this much action on a first date, yet alone this rough"

He managed a strained wink, the blood smeared his face, he could see it trickling out of the corner of his eye. He sent a small set of sparks up the bridge, searing the blood vessels shut with a small sizzle. He wiped the remaining blood off his face with his sleeve, the sight of it almost came as a shock to him.

She rose her gun again, and took aim at him. Too slowly. In one fluid movement, he retrieved his whip from his belt and wrapped it around her gun, simultaneously sending a current down it's length, exploding the both the round in the chamber and the entirety of her magazine.
The sheer shock caused his assailant to drop the gun and dive out of the way before the weapon exploded in her hand.

"So, you're resistant to my charm 'eh? And to my shock tactics as well?"

He retracted the whip back to being uncoiled on the floor by his side.

"A woman so beautifully deadly... The least you can do is give me your name?"

"And don't forget, your not dead yet,so we can make your last few minutes very long and very painful." Elias finally got within striking range of the assassin, but his first order of business was kicking away any of the man's weapons that were still nearby. He made a note to pick them up later, but for now he put his shotgun away.

"You know, you really haven't seen exactly what I can do up close." Elias knelt down and gently removed the man's mask, setting it down on the assassin's lap. "But if you know my name, maybe you at least heard about what happened in Ishval."

Leo sat in one of the smaller tables in the corner of the room and laid his head on the dirty wooden round table. His eyes stared at the high cup of beer he had seen being refilled by the past hour with the help of nearby patrons. Even though he just destroyed the owner's protection, the patrons cheered for him. He didn't have the mood to get busy either.

Luna kept popping into his mind. The memories of his glittering eyes and soft lips fail to detach themselves from Leo leave him longing for him. An act so cruel only the random may inflict it on Leo. No cause. Just the effect. Just the heartbreak all over again. His eyes wandered some more and stopped at a pile of small shot glasses. Neither will strong liquor ward off that feeling from Leo.

His hand tapped the wooden table in a strange beat. "Hit the Road Jack...", Leo mumbled as his hand continued to beat the wooden table in the same beat. "...No more", he finished before pulling himself up and looking around the place he found himself in.

"Why did you come to haunt me again, Luna... Why".

Anton instantly recognized who Jeanne was referring to. The group she had apparently joined had attempted to offer Anton a position in the past as well.

"Hehehe... I see. So you joined that degenerate and his bullshit plan. I knew you were the balls of Demitri's lil' operation, no offense Demitri, but I didn't know you were a goddamn idiot."

Anton started pacing back and forth while the tattooed woman kept her gun trained on him.

"You have no idea, do you? What did he tell you? That he had a plan? Did he promise you freedom? An outlet for your ideals? Your skills? Because that's what he offered me."

Anton stopped pacing and looked at Jeanne. His smile was there, as if mocking her naiveité.

"Can't really blame ya. He has a way with words. Good at hearding little sheep like you, snake that he is. Takes one to know one I suppose. If he and his collection of freaks are the ones causing all that ruckus topside then they're shit outta luck. Because of the war, every damn State Alchemist is a telegraph away. Our little squad is the least of your worries."

Anton kept teasing Jeanne. His smile then turned slightly more disconcerting, as he flexed his arms.

"As for you... I really hope you brought someone to keep you safe. As you stand now, peashooter in hand and only Demitri as a hostage, well... you might just die, ya know."

The Lieutenant became a blur as he rushed towards Demitri's captor. Unfortunately for Jeanne, Anton had no feelings towards her. As it stood, her life was forfeit.

The shadows he saw above made Marlin even more weary than he already had been. The possibility that they were not alone in this room and that he could be attacked from any angle was now very real. In continuing the conversation further, Marlin felt the man was stalling for something. Attacking a foe of unknown strength and ability seemed an unwise idea though, so Marlin opted to play along for the time being.

The man was asking him about chimeras, a subject Marlin was familiar with of course. Thinking about it made him realize that this man's inhuman nature may make him some sort of chimera, though Marlin had never heard of a successful human chimera and such research would be extremely taboo. "I have heard of them of course.... I've never looked much into them though... I'm not particularly interested in them..." He replied slowly, while trying to keep one eye on the man before him and the other on the balconies where he had seen movement.

"...Are you a chimera? It would explain much about your unusual appearance. Though I admit, I did not think such a creation possible."

"Thank you for your... intervention, but we have these men under control now. Interrogation is what is needed now, unfortunately."

There was a twinkle in the Major's eye that Kallu didn't quite understand. He didn't need to; on a base, instinctual level he knew that he was not going to be pleased with Armstrong's response.

"Absolutely, Major! And I would be most honored to lend my services to you further!"

The Strongarm Alchemist capped off his response with a snappy salute, disheartening Stone. There was simply no getting rid of this man. At the same time, James had begun slapping one of their captives.

*SMACK* "So come on speak. What is goal. Your plans? Your leader. Lets hear everything you have."

All Kren did was laugh, at first. "Ehehehehe... our only goal is explosions! But our leader, well, he might have other ideas in store. Not like you'll be in time to do anything about them, of course. What was that one gent's name? Marlin, was it? Ehehe..."

The dying assailant seemed to ignore Tasha's threats and motions. His eyes were trained dead on Elias, whom he had referred to as a more personal Brandon. Even as his eyes fogged up, the focus keeping them open was evident.

"You know, you really haven't seen exactly what I can do up close." Elias knelt down and gently removed the man's mask, setting it down on the assassin's lap. "But if you know my name, maybe you at least heard about what happened in Ishval."

As the mask was set down on the mortally wounded man's lap, Elias took in their image. For the briefest moment, he faltered as he recognized the face.

Worn out by years of meager living, sunken eyes and a lined face. But the features were still the same. An old comrade, alive and staring him in the face. His face tried to support a genuine smile for his old squadmate, but the pressure of impending death was pushing down on it. "I don't know about Ishval any better than you, "sir". But, believe me, I know EXACTLY what you can do... heh."

As Amon hopped down into the sewers, a tiny fragment of metal laid on the floor. Spice practically sprawled himself on the floor attaining it, and held it close to smell. Not for sheer lust of metal, this time; he recognized the smell. He'd picked it up in Demitri's bar.

Someone from there was down here with him.

"A woman so beautifully deadly... The least you can do is give me your name?"

The woman laughed, and her rubber mask stretched in a way that hinted at a smile underneath. "Is a battlefield really the place to exchange pleasantries, Roland?" She pushed her foot back, and snapped off one of the stiletto heels. As she did the same with the other, she spoke again. "I suppose it's only fair that you know, as I know yours. They call me Chartrisse,"

She swept her foot around and up, launching one of the stiletto heels into her hand, tossing it like a knife at Lightning the moment she caught it. "--And I am not fool enough to be caught without a weapon."

Even as her improvised projectile flew, she kicked open a crate next to her and retrieved another pistol waiting inside. Roland realized that he was on her turf entirely; she'd picked this place for the fight days in advance.

Jeanne cackled like a madwoman as Anton approached. Demitri shook his head like he was possessed, until by a stroke of luck he was able to spit out the gag that prevented him from speaking.


Too little, too late. The lieutenant's claws had already embedded themselves deep into Jeanne's gut, the blood trickling out like gentle streams. She was smiling the whole time.

"You're as dumb as they come, aren't you Anton?" she asked him. "My leader promised me a new, better world... so long as I was willing to die for it!"

She flipped her gun upside down, and pried the false bottom off of the magazine, revealing a red trigger.

"And your little squad isn't just our only worry... it's our TARGET!"

She pulled the trigger, and in the moment before the show, Anton understood. Lining the walls, maybe even stuffing them, was nothing but high explosives.


Rocks rained down like a storm, as the entrances shut themselves off one by one with the stones clogging them up. Boulders began to fall all around them, a sharp and jagged rock striking Jeanne in the back of the head. She had no time to take her last breath, and instead her bleeding corpse collapsed into Anton's arms. Demitri, meanwhile was shouting as loud as he could over the din of death.

"You've gone and really screwed it up this time, haven't you?! Now untie me and let's get out of here!"

"...Are you a chimera? It would explain much about your unusual appearance. Though I admit, I did not think such a creation possible."

The snake man began to pace, eagerly speaking now.

"Oh, it is possssible, all right. But it issss NOT eassssy. There issss much... work involved; trial and error. Experimentssss. I am what I am not through choice, but through the whim of your military. They wanted new ssssoldierssss, onessss that could crussssh their enemiessss with their greater power. I wassss the firsssst that they ever made. I am... a prototype."

The snakeman chimera hissed into the air, and continued as it walked in circles around the center of the room. "But I am frail, weak. Their methodssss were barbaric, and it left me a hussssk. They casssst me asssside, unworthy to sssserve. I would have died on the sssstreet, but I made friendssss..."

Suddenly, the shadows from above shifted again. Four figures dropped down, their frames distorted and strange. More human chimeras. One beared passing resemblance to a bear, and another had little nubs of feathers growing off of his arm. The shaggy mane of a lion wrapped itself around one chimera's neck, and last had an extended, wolf-like snout and patches of fur. All of them were hunched over, glaring at Deep Blue and waiting for the kill order.

"All of them, disssscarded as I wassss. We banded together, and found other citizenssss who wished to ssssee the end of the military. And tonight we make our firsssst sssstep in making that dream a reality."

bang bang b-bang

The snake-like chimera held up a hand to mock listening to the sound. "You hear that?" he asked. "Perhapssss your friendssss are trying to reach you. Ssssuch a sssshame they will never see the light of day again once they come down here. Assss for you, Deep Blue, I would recommend you ssssurrender now."

"But, believe me, I know EXACTLY what you can do... heh."


Corporal Mason? How'd he get out of there alive? I thought I checked everyone after the fight, thought it was just me left.


Bastard tried to kill me. Kill Tasha. Kill Victor. Elias readied his left arm blade, raised his arm, and swung it down, stopping after barely cutting into Mason's right thigh. Further pressure would sever Mason's femoral artery, and they both knew it. Along with the pain of the blade's entrance, the blood loss would greatly hasten Mason's imminent death.


"Mason..." he began, seeing the smile on the man's face, "I'm so sorry. Damn the chain of command, it was my job to get you all out alive, and... I failed." Elias withdrew his blade and moved his hand to Mason's shoulder. "I-I did what I could, but it...just wasn't enough." He tilted his head back as he felt some tears forming. "But I killed them all. If my people weren't walking away, neither were theirs." Returning his gaze to Mason's eyes, he slowly drew his sidearm.

"Look, Corporal, you just tell me what you want me to know. I... I don't deserve to ask more than that. But with those wounds, you're not getting off this roof alive. So," he raised the handgun and lightly pushed it against Mason's chest, right over his heart, "you let me know when you're done, and I can make it quick. But, if you see Eri... if you see Sergeant Blake, tell her I miss her?" His voice had remained mostly steady, but Mason had a front row seat to the streams that began to flow down Elias' face, streams that carried the tears of a man again mourning the loss of so many who he loved as his own family.

"I suppose it's only fair that you know, as I know yours. They call me Chartrisse."

Strange name for an assassin...

"--And I am not fool enough to be caught without a weapon."

Roland quickly sidestepped, and the improvised projectile whistled as it sailed past his right ear. He turned into to see Chartrisse retrieve a weapon from the crate beside her.

Clever girl...

He wrapped his whip around his body, coiling it around his abdomen. He tied the two ends together, and the proceeded to place the palms of his hands together, as if in prayer. The symbols etched into the back of his hands began to glow with a brilliant light as the air around him began to ripple with intensity, he could smell the whip as it began to slightly singe into his clothing.
His palms still firmly pressed together, Roland began to slowly move towards her, as if walking in prayer, as if a monk on a pilgrimage.

"You underestimated me my dear, no amount of bullets can save you from my charm" He said giving a wink, the smirk on his face, though still in admiration, hid a small bit of malice.
He walked calmly towards her, the loaded gun in her hand aimed squarely at his face.

"Nobody alive today has ever witnessed the fullest extent of my ability, and I plan to keep it that way"

The smell of ozone hung in the air and caught in Chartrisse's lungs, filling her with lightheadedness as she launched into a series of coughs due to the irritation of her alveoli .

"Now... shall we dance?"

"Ehehehehe... our only goal is explosions! But our leader, well, he might have other ideas in store. Not like you'll be in time to do anything about them, of course. What was that one gent's name? Marlin, was it? Ehehe..."4

James face twisted in anger, rage consuming his every fiber. He grabbed one of Kren's bombs, stuffed it into his mouth and took Kren's lighter.

"Here is what you are going to do. You are going to tell me where your trap is, and what it is. If you don't, I'm going to blow your head off, nod if you understand," James threatened in a quiet, yet treating tone.

"Amestris isn't about genocide, assassination squads, or war with everyone in sight, is it?"

Frieda's words, for once, had a soft tinge about them, a slight warmth that had been missing from her voice earlier. By no means was she forgiving, or comforting as she spoke to the man before her, sobs wracking his body. There was no friendship, nor kindness in her words. But, there was pity, a hint of gentleness, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of hope.

As her words slowly faded into the night, Isaac allowed his tears to run freely, contradictory and chaotic thoughts rushing through his mind, further damaging his already unstable mental condition.

For years, he had been a model soldier; he received orders, he performed them. That was his life, his entire existence. Of course, there had been times when he had questioned his actions, when he had noted odd and unnecessary items, but he had quickly shoved such thoughts to the back of his head, choosing instead to trust his superiors. They had never steered him wrong before, why should he distrust them now?

But then, there was the undeniable fact that Frieda was telling the truth, here and now. There was no way she was lying; Isaac would stake his life on that. And in this state of duress and bloodloss, he wasn't really capable of self-delusion.

Isaac surprised himself when he began laughing, his strained chuckles breaking the monotonous pitter-patter of the rain. "No, it isn't about those things, is it? I've been missing the point, thought that I was getting some semblance of meaning from this. So what is it all about then? What does define Amestris, if not for its military actions? What's supposed to be happening?"

His head drooped forward, as Isaac's laughter slowly died out. "What am I supposed to do now?"

Almost all of Marlin's suspicions were confirmed as the man told him about the experiments that turned him into a chimera and his fellow chimera emerged from the shadows. Though the sight of the horrid looking creatures was quite horrifying, Marlin felt a bit calmer now that he knew what he was up against. Now that they were all out in the open and he knew exactly what they were, the element of the unknown was out of the equation. This is what the military has been doing? What terrible research... Still, if these are the rejects that means that their combat abilities must be subpar. I'd rather not find out though..

Being outnumbered 5 to 1 meant that escape was Marlin's best bet for survival though even that would be quite difficult. Perhaps a mist to conceal my presence? No, superior animal senses means they would likely be able to sniff me out either way... Too risky. Their leader appears to be a reptile of some sort.... Perhaps he's coldblooded? Ice could be effective against him and leave the others disoriented enough for me to get away...

Marlin's thoughts were interrupted by a loud banging noise. Could it be his comrades like the chimera suggested? That seemed unlikely since he hadn't told anyone where he was going. Still, it wasn't entirely impossible. Perhaps if he could hold off long enough rescue would come. The creature asked for his surrender and Marlin used that to buy himself some more time. "... And if I surrender? What happens then? I find it hard to believe after all your talk of revenge that you would simply take me alive."

Vlad's right ear was still ringing as he stood up. His walk was slow, purposeful. He approached Kren and, with everyone watching, pushed James out of the way, grabbed Kren by the throat, hoisted him to a standing position, and bit into his neck.

Kren gasped, allowing the grenade to fall from his mouth, and then the glow of a transmutation was seen coming from Vlad's bite.

The vampire alchemist pulled his head back, blood dripping from his mouth, and glared into Kren's eyes.

"What in the name of-" That was as far as he got before he howled in pain.

"Your blood is scabbing over inside your body. This will be the most agonizing thing you will ever experience. It will feel like each layer of tissue you have is being slowly removed with a rusty saw. But that isn't the worst part. The worst part is, I can revers and restart the process at any time. What I'm saying is, this wont stop until I hear some answers." His voice was cold, dark, and terrifying.

Kren's skin was darkening as blood vessles clogged underneath it, and he was screaming like a gut-shot animal.

Kallu watched in a mixture of anger and horror underneath his stoic exterior while Vlad threatened and tortured the prisoner. Well, not that he tortured the man, but that he did it out here in the open.

He walked over calmly, grabbed the Vampire Alchemist by the neck, and slammed him into one of the walls he had created, face-to-face with the empty face of the Stone Alchemist. Blood dripping down his face and staining his clothes and Kallu's fist gripping his neck in an iron-like vise, each saw the rage in their eyes, Vlad's a hot heat, Kallu's encased in ice.

"This is not the time nor the place to question prisoners, Vlad. Civilians need neither hear or see this happen. Wait until we get them some kind of treatment. Then we can ask them who and what their employers are and what they wanted.Do-not-test-me, Vampire.Or I will encase you in the Stone until you calm down."

He struggled futilely against his grip for a few more moments before stopping, at which point Kallu let him go and allowed him to breathe deeply once more.

"Major Armstrong, I think you would agree with me that these men need medical attention before their interrogations. Can you carry the one Major Dracule recently... threatened? I have the other brother out cold. After I search him for the rest of his explosives, I'll be right behind you."

Vlad breathed raggedly, but the malicious look in his eyes had not died.

Kren once again screamed in pain, causing the others to realize Vlad had not stopped the coagulation of his blood.

Kallu gave him a threatening look, but Vlad's face was still the harsh image of a calculating predator, only made more haunting by the blood coming from his mouth, and dripping down his face from the gash in his forehead the stone alchemist had given him.

"Go ahead, attack me again you ape. I'm the only one that can fix him." Vlad's voice was cold.

There was an almost visible 'presence' behind him, something that wasn't fully human, but at the same time, it wasn't quite Vlad.

"You let me know when you're done, and I can make it quick. But, if you see Eri... if you see Sergeant Blake, tell her I miss her?"

As Elias gently placed his pistol over his old comrade's chest, Mason offered his former commander a small grin, a bit of solace in the cold night. "Having me play the messenger boy, eh Sarge? Yeah, I think I can pass notes for the two of you, one last time..."

The dying man's words were cut off by a sudden fit of coughing. Flecks of blood leaped from Mason's mouth; his time was running short, and they all knew it.

"I'm sorry sir... I just couldn't handle it. The way they treated me after I came back; gave me some shiny medal, said some flowery bullshit about valor and comrades, then left me to rot. Made me so angry, I just...

"Sir... Elias. Please, don't let them do to you what they did to me. If I'm gonna pass on your message, then do me one last favor, okay? Make sure you live, sir, for all of us. Show 'em that's it gonna take more than this to finish off the Second."

Sighing, Mason closed his eyes, his chest slowly rising and falling. "Alright sir; I'm ready."


"Now... shall we dance?"

Despite the coughs that wracked her throat, Chartrisse managed to offer Roland a smile that would make the Cheshire cat envious. "Oh, it would be my pleasure," the thief began as she reached for something else tucked inside the crate, fingers scrabbling against the rough wood. "Of course, you should know that I always take the lead."

The crackling aura that enshrouded Roland might have been able to ward off knives and bullets, but there was precious little it could do against the flashbang that was traveling towards him with reckless abandon. The alchemist reflexively shielded his eyes, avoiding the burnt of the glaring light; spots still danced across his eyes, however, impairing his vision for those few partial seconds.

By the time Roland had rubbed away the glare, his opponent was already gone, lost in the shadows and rubble that utterly surrounded him. As he began to frantically scan the area, searching for any sign of his foe, the alchemist heard a familiar rhythm echo through the ruined warehouse, a beat that anyone would recognize.

One, two, three. One, two, three.


"What am I supposed to do now?"

The question lingered in the air, as Freida finished bandaging her latest charge. The masked assassin would likely have a tough time of it whenever he woke up, but his life wasn't in any danger.

Silently, the woman rose to her feet, her impassive eyes staring at the two men below her, the first bound to the ground by earthen shackles, the other only held there by the depths of his despair. Their physical wounds had been treated; that type of hurt Freida could help. But the pain that forced Isaac to his knees, that pinned him to the street as surely as any restraints, she could do nothing to abate. The man would have to find his own way, would need to stop listening and start thinking, to save himself.

As she began to walk away Freida's voice broke the silence, her words as cold and emotionless as ever. "There's never any one right way to do something. Sometimes, you just have to stop listening to your superiors, and do what you know to be right."


"... And if I surrender? What happens then? I find it hard to believe after all your talk of revenge that you would simply take me alive."

The monstrosity's laughter was horrible, a mixture of a hacking cough and a continuous hiss. "Oh, by no meanssss will we be taking you alive. You are our warning to Bradley and hissss ssssinnerssss, our declaration of war to the onessss that desssstroyed ussss and casssst ussss asssside."

The banging noise resumed, prompting the chimera to shout something unintelligible, his voice somewhere between a guttural roar and a shaking whisper. The lion-man, apparently making sense of the horrendous din, turned, and walked back behind the curtain, a low growl emitting from his throat.

A shrill cry pierced the air, a shriek of absolute terror, followed by frantic pleas and begging. It was a voice that Marlin recognized, his eyes growing wide as he realized what these monsters intended to do.

"Make no misssstake, Deep-Blue. You will die here tonight, alone and defensssslessss. But, if you ssssurrender, then Ms. Jenningssss might jusssst live to ssssee tomorrow."


"Go ahead, attack me again you ape. I'm the only one that can fix him."

Vlad's threat hung in the air, heavy and ominous. Other than Kren's pained cries, there was only silence, unbroken as Blood and Stone faced off, each trying to stare the other man down.


"Mr. Dracule."

There was a dangerous tinge to Armstrong's voice, a steely edge that forced Vlad to break the stare, to turn and face the Strongarm Alchemist. There was something horrifying about watching the normally so flamboyant man stare down at him with barely checked rage burning in his eyes, about that giant of brawn and muscle glaring daggers at him, something that almost drove Vlad to his knees.

"I would advise that you heal this man at once. I swear on the Armstrong family name, things will not turn out well for you if you do not."

"Alright sir; I'm ready."

Elias leaned forward and hugged Mason with his left arm, right arm still ready to fire.

"Nobody kills me, Corporal."


"Not even me," he added as he leaned back. Mason still had a few seconds of life left, and Elias could see the life draining from his eyes. Before he let out his final breath, Mason closed his eyes. When the Corporal went limp, Elias slowly laid him on the ground, but he remained knelt over the dead soldier.

"Before Victor's message got to me," he began, wiping the tears with his left sleeve, "I was standing in East City's graveyard at the grave of Sergeant Erica Blake, one of my squad leaders in Ishval before I was moved to this team." He slowly stood, moving to pick up Mason's pistols. "She was the last member of my platoon to die when the Ishvalans ambushed us. She bled to death in my arms from a neck wound. She...was important to me." Once at the pistols, he knelt down and picked them up.

"I had my gun up against my chin and was in the middle of pulling the trigger when a messenger called out my name. Victor saved my life again." After he pocketed the pistols, he went back over to Mason and began searching him for gear and intel. "I thought I was all that was left of my platoon, and then Mason here takes a shot at Victor." He paused as he took a deep breath. "Now, I hope I really am all that's left. I don't know if I can shoot another soldier of mine." Elias pulled out a few folded papers and began to open them. "But I owe it to Mason here to get out of this alive, whatever 'this' is."

Tasha nodded at Elias's story wiping a tear from her own eye. "That's all you can do Sergent, make it out alive, that's all any of us can do. Especially in a time of war." She said putting a hand on Elias's shoulder. "For whatever it's worth Elias, I'm sorry. But that kinda shit is gonna happen, especially in a war like this, one that started over a stupid mistake. And that's all it's ever gonna be, a stupid mistake. A stupid mistake that cost the world hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides. All you can do is keep moving, and don't slow down." She removed her hand and walked to the edge of the building looking for a way down. "Don't dwell on the past Sergent, there's nothing you can do about it now. Keep your mind focused on ending this war as fast and as peacefully as possible."

One, two, three. One, two, three.

Roland unwrapped the whip from his chest as his hands dove to shield his eyes, he could not see where the witch was hiding, but he could hear that she was close.

Come on Roland, don't let that bitch sneak up on you...

He cautiously strode around the warehouse, trying to make out what direction the noise was coming from, wherever she was, she was nowhere to be found. Panic began to set in ever so slowly as the invisible threat could attack from any direction.

"Why don't you come out and play miss?! I promise I won't bite...hard"

He gave out a booming laugh that echoed amongst the remains of twisted metal and broken concrete, his eyes secretly searching for any figure that was dancing amongst the shadows. There. He caught a glimpse of flash of Chartrisse out of the corner of his right eye.

Use the surroundings came a voice in his head.
The crate you idiot!

Roland obliged and dove towards the direction of the crate, hastily rising he frantically searched amongst the packaging for anything that could be used against her.


He withdraw a large magazine from the crate, it was full to the brim, belonging to one of the military's rifles. He threw it into the air and cracked his whip at it mid-air, the casing broke and the contents rained upon the concrete floor. Roland ran into the centre of where the shells were, sweeping the ground with his foot to create a small circle where he was surrounded by the unspent rounds.
He placed his hands together once again, and the circles on his hands began to glow as the hairs on his body rose. He began to collect charge from the surrounding area.

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