The Truth Within the Truth: A Fullmetal Alchemist RP

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Elias paused when he felt Tasha's hand on his shoulder. Right now, feels just as good as the real thing. He took a deep breath and folded the papers back up, deciding he could look at them later.

"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."

"Easier said than done," he began as he stood up, "especially when my past keeps jumping out of body bags. But don't worry, I'll see this through to the end. I owe our team and the Second that much." He picked up Mason's body and walked over to the edge of the building beside her. "My legs can take the fall, if you want to just hop on my back. And I thought we could leave Mason in the alley so it'll look like he was just...murdered. No need to report him as the assassin, is there?" Elias looked back and saw the mask Mason had been wearing, soaking in a pool of blood.

Tasha shook her head. "I don't see why not, Sergent. He'll be found either way, this way though he'll have a honest burial." She said looking at the body. " And if your sure you can survive the fall, very well. I'd prefer a fire escape or something though." She said looking over the said of the building. She shuddered. "Ehhh, man I hate heights."

"They're less scary with automail legs, but maybe three bodies is a bit too much," he conceded. "Worst case, we keep roof-hopping until we find a building that does have a way down." Cradling Mason's body in his arms like a large child, Elias began walking around the roof's edges, searching for a more convenient way down than gravity alone.

Marlin tried to hide his shock as he listened to Lila's screams on the other side of the curtain, but he knew he probably wasn't doing a very good job. Having no idea that she had been taken, it was the last thing he had expected to hear and especially since he barely knew her. They trapped me down here and have me outnumbered 5 to 1 and yet they still have one more ace up their sleeve... I can't believe how well prepared they were for this... And what a fool I was for walking straight into it. Marlin's mind raced as he attempted to find a way to get the two of them out of this nightmare.

He couldn't just let Lila die, but giving up his own life for hers seemed an illogical choice. There was no way he could defeat all of the chimera before they killed her either. Perhaps a bluff could get him out of this? If he pretended he didn't care about her, perhaps they would simply let her go. ".... You must be desperate to take hostage someone I just met this afternoon. Do you really think I would... Die..." Marlin trailed off before finishing his sentence. He knew what he wanted to say, but he simply couldn't bring himself to say something so cruel. Especially if it put an innocent life in danger.

"... What guarantee do I have that you'll let her go after witnessing all of this? Set her free first and then I will surrender. You have my word on that." Marlin finally said. It wasn't the outcome he wanted but hopefully it would buy him some more time to come up with a better solution.

Vlad stood motionless, like a panther in the night.

"If you want to kill me Major Armstrong, go ahead and do it. But even if you succeed, that worm over there will still die in agony, and you will follow me shortly. Murder, or even attempted murder of a State Alchemist would be considered treason at the best of times. But in these times of war and domestic attacks, King Bradley would be even less inclined to take chances. If you kill me, you'll end up just like Octavir, but go ahead, let yourself be executed and your family name be shamed over the physical pain of one remorseless terrorist."

Vlad's words were harsh and calculated, cutting right through the Strong Arm Alchemist's threats. Bringing up Octavir served to remind all present that even state alchemists get no mercy for treason, and this was not lost on any of them.

Kallu stood by Armstong,the two made an imposing sight, much like two mountains in the ever-darkening sky,"I told you that this is neither the time nor the place to interrogate a prisoner. Some of us didn't join the ranks of the Alchemists over bloodlust. Now stop whatever it is you are doing to this man or I swear, you will feel pain like you never imagined, and you will live through it.Perhaps you will still have arms." He left no room for argument in his pronouncement.

The Stone Alchemist then pointed at Vlad and then the brother,"Wearing the mantle of traitor and murderer is fine with me, if it means one less threat for Amestrian citizens, which you could become at a later date, if this is any indication." His eyes barely contained the cold rage he felt inside, but was able to quench the flames and simply stand passive, the emotion completely gone from both his face and voice.

"THREAT TO THE PEOPLE?" Vlad exploded.

"THAT PIECE OF SHIT BLEW UP A CROWD OF CIVILIANS MINUTES AGO, AND YOU CALL ME A THREAT?"

Vlad whirled around and grabbed the bomber's face in his right hand. He had recently passed out from the pain. Vlad transmuted the blood back to normal and the madman's skin color returned to normal.

"You two stand there, threatening in me, talking about how you would be willing to die. All in the name of an unrepentant murderer who would have blown your head off your bodies if given the chance. You fucking disgust me."

Vlad simply walked away. If they wanted control of the situation, they could have it. He would not stand by, putting himself at risk of harm by two muscle headed neanderthals and their childish sense of morals. At least that is what he told himself. He did believe that bomber deserved what he got, but somewhere inside he knew; he knew that he was imagining himself feeling that pain. He was the one who deserved it. But he would not admit it. He would not accept that his sister was right.

This is what we are...

The thief couldn't help but watch in surprise as Roland went to work. Circles swept into existence, the Lightning Alchemist plying his craft with expert speed and agility. She chuckled. Or maybe cackled was the better word. Some form of laughter was escaping her lips, and it was malicious to say the least. "Oh, wow. The boss really underestimated you when he hired me, didn't he?"

She smashed her hand into a crate to her left and came out with a freshly-loaded pistol. "Luckily for me, he underestimates his own people just as much."

She raised the gun, and fired a trio of shots into the air. The third one caught the rope of an absurdly precarious crate hanging above them, which dropped like a bomb down towards Roland. "Think fast, little Alchemist. No transmutation stops gravity!"


Elias' search was not without success. A little alleyway that nobody seemed to notice offered him respite in the form of a dumpster, filled to the brim with trash bags. Not the softest landing, but surely it had to be superior to solid concrete.


The snake-headed man chuckled, a curious sound that mixed with his hisses to create a consistent noise in the air. "Pleasssse, don't ssssell ussss sssshort, Misssster Deep Blue. Though our... methodssss may be crude, I assssure you, we're not the villainssss here. We honor our word; unlike the military."

He gestured to the largest-looking of the chimera, who never took his eyes off of Marlin as he slipped out of sight to retrieve the prisoner. Only a split second of a scream got out before it was muffled; Marlin was prepared to panic, but breathed a sigh of relief seeing it was only a gag once she was brought into view. She was placed directly on her feet, a rope securely tied around her hands being the only restraint she appeared to have. The chimera revealed a heavy-looking scimitar, and raised it above the poor woman.

"Ssssurrender. Kneel, and placccce your jar where you can't reach it. Do thissss, and we will free the woman with that blade. Fail to do thissss, and, well, our mutual friend will only free one of her limbs, of his choosing."

A faint noise pricked in his ears. The chimeras didn't seem to catch it, but he certainly did. Punches being thrown, a few odd grunts and shouts, coming from somewhere underground. He couldn't be sure who they were or what they were doing, but somebody was down there with them in the distance.


Major Armstrong watched and clenched his fists as the monster the other Alchemists called Vlad walked away. Before he could get out of earshot, the boisterous man gave him an earful as a parting gift.

"We are SOLDIERS, not monsters. We do our duty to protect the people of Amestris; that's a task we're not worthy of if we have to become like the monsters we fight to do it!"

Vlad didn't seem to be responding to him, so he turned his attention back to the bombers. The one affected by Vampire's alchemy was trying to make pained noises, but even that was beyond his frayed senses. A pair of military police had arrived on the scene by now, who Armstrong approached immediately. Unfortunately, his shirt appeared to have other matters to attend to, and did not follow him.

"YOU TWO! Get this man to a hospital now, and keep him under heavy guard! He holds VITAL INFORMATION ON THE WHEREABOUTS OF A STATE ALCHEMIST!"

"Sir, yes sir!" the two men shouted back, saluting and nearly wetting themselves at the sight of the walking snowball of conflicting traits. They both retrieved the most injured brother and scurried off to the hospital, leaving them with the remaining one.

"I wonder what this one might know..."


Though standing at nearly forty paces now, and trying not to interfere, Freida had at least some small piece of curiosity held tight as she watched Isaac and wondered what he would do. The assassin he had been fighting just moments before was now bandaged, and lying several feet away. What was more important was, he was starting to wake up. What move would Steel Web make?


Isaac barely registered Frieda's egress, his attention focused on little but the cobblestone beneath him. Tonight's events had shaken him more than he thought possible; likely as not he would be in for a few sleepless nights.

However, regardless of potential personal crises, Isaac's soldier instincts remained as active as ever. As burst of coughing suddenly erupted from the masked assassin, the alchemist reflexively sprung to his feet, hands beginning to curl into fists. Then the rather serious state of his physical condition struck him, bringing Isaac back to his knees as pain lanced through what felt like every inch of his body.

"Jumpy are we?"

Steel-Web warily eyed his immobile companion, watching as his would-be killer feebly struggled against the massive manacles that bound his limbs. Despite the cracked mask that obscured the man's features, Isaac would have bet anything that the assassin was smiling. "At least I can actually move," came the somewhat less than witty replay.

"Touche." The man relaxed, his arms and legs going limp as his head rested against the wet ground, an audible sigh accompanying the action. "Laid low by such foul arts; such a sad, sad end. Tch, my own fault for expecting some semblance of honor from you accursed dogs. Go on then, finish the job."

Shaken and wounded Isaac may have been, but he still found the energy to painfully jab his foe with the toe of his boot, a pained hiss escaping the assassin's throat. "Honor?! The hell is honorable about bombing a civilian area? About trying to kill a man who's never seen you before in his life?" Isaac winced, grabbing his side as his outburst subsided. "Regardless," he weakly continued, "There are rules about prisoners of war. Rest assured, you'll get your precious death, but not at my hands."

The silence that hung between the two men was palpable. It lasted a few seconds, before Isaac inched his way forward, reaching for the man's mask as he growled, "What are hiding under there anyway?"

The mask clattered to the ground, as the alchemist stared at his foe's face, blinking in surprise. Familiar as he was with Amestris' various neighbors, the young man staring defiantly up at him was of a nationality Isaac had yet to encounter. "Who the hell are you?"

The unmasked man glowered at his captor for a moment before speaking, his words edged with restrained fury, "Rai of the Cho clan, and I would kindly thank you for returning my mask. What, breaking my family's swords with your accursed arts wasn't enough for you?"

Isaac mutely replaced the mask, stood still for a moment, before ripping it off again, his own anger replacing his surprise. "No I will not return your mask! You're a war-criminal... and what do you mean by accursed arts? I assume that you've got alchemy in whatever hellhole you're from!"

Rai struggled against his bonds with renewed energy, as his voice rang out, "You take that back, damn dog! Xingise Alakhestry is nothing like your tainted witchcraft; it's little wonder you were overcome so easily, considering your meager skills in such a pathetic art!"

"What the... you were beaten down by alchemy five minutes ago, in case you forgot!"

"...Shut up!"

The two men simply glared at each other for a time, before Isaac finally broke the stare, collapsing back to the ground, his body exhausted. "Look... I'm having a bit of a rough night, what with you trying to kill me and being told that my superiors have been lying to me for god knows how long. Just... tell me why you did it, alright? I'm in no mood for secrets and half-truths; just rant about your damn manifesto or whatever, and I'll make sure you get executed, alright?"

Roland's closed eyes flickered open from their concentration as soon as he heard Chartrisse, he prepared himself as the shots rang out, hoping to deflect the rounds with his whip, only to find his would be assassin take aim at a crate that he had not noticed hung precariously above him.

"Think fast, little Alchemist. No transmutation stops gravity!"

Hmph, is that so?...

As soon as he heard the cable snap, Roland transitioned quickly into a pirouette, quickly spinning from underneath the crate that fell like a guillotine, simultaneously drawing his whip and shoving an excess of charge towards it, nudging it's contents ever so slightly, moving it a bit more out of his path, just to be safe.
As he span out of the manoeuvre, whip in hand, he uncoiled it as went, sending a blast of electricity down it's length, cracking it directly over Chartrisse's weapon hand as it sent a bolt of miniaturised lightning towards her.

Anticipating for her to resist, or for his attack to otherwise prove ineffective, he rushed towards her other side, swinging his whip above his head like a lasso, before trying to catch her other arm in it's embrace.

"Alright, got a nice dumpster over here that's softer than pavement," Elias called out as he looked over the edge. "You first, ma'am. Trash is bad enough, but no need to get any blood on your outfit." He looked down at his coat and shirt, both of which bore dark spots from Mason's blood that had dripped onto them. Fortunately, both were dark enough to conceal the red that had sunk into them, which would make the walk back to the hospital that much less suspicious.

You'd think he was just asleep, he thought, looking down at the soldier in his arms. He turned back to the rest of the rooftop, making sure he had all of Mason's possessions except for the mask. That could stay.

2 hours had passed when Anton and a slightly worse for wear Demitri busted out of a manhole onto the streets. Jeanne's blood had dried up over Anton's right arm as he took in their new surroundings. Various parts of the city lay in shambles terrorists had effectively put stop to the festivities. Army response had been slow, but they were on the move now.

Wonder how the team is doing. Haven't seen anyone but Amon in days... Surely they've been targeted. Probably with more proficient members of that band of sick bastards. Heh... Bastard really thought he'd get me by going through my "friends". Dumber than I'd given him credit for. Demitri might've taken it harder though...

Anton glanced at Demitri, carrying a bandaged, unconscious Abel. He hadn't said a word since the explosion. Everything must've come as a surprise to him. He was always a tad too soft to be a real revolutionary.

"Looks like most of the ruckus has died down. Oi, take Abel and get somewhere safe. I gotta see to this. We'll... We'll talk later."

Demitri didn't respond, turning away and trudging towards the south with Abel on his shoulder.

Well, time to go tell the old man what's up...

Tasha chuckled, "Such a gentleman, letting the woman jump first." She said looking over the edge. "What building is this anyway? I would hate jumping into a dumpster full of rotten food." She said backing away. She turned back to Elias. "Speaking of blood, make sure you either get rid of the coat or wash it right away. Blood is a pain to get out of cloths. Especially these coats." She took a deep breath. "Welp, no time like the present." She said as she jumped from the roof.

As he waited for Tasha to land, Elias looked around at the city. The fireworks were fading, but still maintained sufficient presence to mask all the gunfire he and Mason had exchanged.

We're fighting a full-blown war, he thought, and they have no idea. They never will. There's no battlefield for us anymore, but it's our job to fight on and keep them out of it. He focused on his fallen brother-in-arms and sighed.

No one gets left behind this time. Hearing Tasha land, he moved to the building's edge and peered over at the dumpster below.

"So, restaurant?" he called out.

"THREAT TO THE PEOPLE?"

"Simply because we are Alchemists does not excuse this kind of behavior," Kallu pointed towards the brother on the gurney, eyes wild, breathing raggedly and almost imperceptibly groaning whenever he exhaled.

"The civilians are why we fight, and if allowing these two to live makes another dozen not lose their lives to something like this, it is worth the cost. Now run, Vampire, running now simply means you have run from yourself and what you have done your entire life and will run from it eternally. We do not interrogate prisoners where any innocent can see and hear it. You disgust us, and if you had any humanity in you, you would feel just as ashamed as we are to have something like you in our midst." The Alchemist turned his back on the man and bade him no more heed.

Kallu knelt to the ground and transmuted the two walls back into the streets and building he had taken them from, with as much detail as they had had before, where he remembered it. He then walked towards the unconscious brother entombed to his neck and took away the stone covering his body. He bound the man's hands separately in stone behind his back and created a single stone weight covering his feet.

If he did manage to get away somehow, he would not get far, either he blow off his own feet, or he dragged himself with an extra thirty pounds around his ankles transmuted to catch on as many cracks as possible.

He began walking with the brother slung over his back. Towards the hospital is where he would go. When he got there, he would personally strip this man and make sure that he had no more explosives on him, too many had been injured and killed by them already. He wasn't about to make doctors and healing professionals be put in harm's way if he could help it.

James was conflicted. On one hand Major Armstrong and Kallu were right. Interrogating in public was wrong and Vlad's methods may have been underhanded but they would have been effective. And efficacy was what was needed. Not only was one of their own in grave danger, the whole city was. If Vlad's methods were effective it could lead them to their target. It could help end the threat as quickly as possible. Making up his mind James turned towards The Vampire.

"Vampire, wait up," looking around to make sure he wasn't overheard by Kallu and Armstong, he leaned in towards Vlad "We need results. Not only is there a threat to a State Alchemist, there is a threat to the city. I'm bringing you into the hospital room. You get the results we need and we go after these creeps. That man gave up all rights to protection when he threatened the peace. This is for the greater good."

Marlin let out a small sigh of relief upon seeing Lila alive and relatively unharmed. It was a strange feeling knowing that he was about to give up his life for someone he barely knew, but he felt it was the right thing to do. ".... Be thou for the people..." He muttered the State Alchemist motto as he tossed his jar to the ground. He hadn't been a State Alchemist for long, but that had been his guiding principle since he began studying alchemy. After meeting some of his comrades and receiving his orders, he had doubted the military's sincerity in that sentiment but he would uphold it even if he was one of the few.

After the jar landed a suitable distance away from him, Marlin held his hands up on surrender and slowly knelt to the ground. As he did so, he heard a faint noise in the distance. He was not alone with these creatures. But was it friend or foe that he heard? Either way it was worth trying to stall for more time until he could find out. At this point, keeping the chimera talking was his only option but that suited Marlin just fine. Something the chimera had said was bothering him anyway.

"...You say you honor your word.... And yet all I have seen evidence of is your cowardice..." Marlin began, barely loud enough to be heard. "You lure me down here to ambush me when you already have me outnumbered... And if that weren't enough, you hold an innocent woman hostage. And yet you claim to be honorable? You think you're any better than the military?" He scoffed loudly at the idea of it.

"The military is by no means blameless... And perhaps you are not wrong to seek your revenge on them... But endangering civilians to do so will only earn you more scorn and a swift death. My comrades will come after me and they are much less sentimental than I."

"You get the results we need and we go after these creeps. That man gave up all rights to protection when he threatened the peace. This is for the greater good."

Vlad was silent for a moment, but then gave a curt nod.

"I'm ready when you are."

"So, restaurant?"

Tasha grimaced as she climbed out of the dumpster. She peeled a old wet newspaper of her shoulder. "Nope, just an apartment building, still plenty of rotten food. Other things too, I wouldn't think about it before you jump." She called up still grimacing. She was gonna need a shower bad once they got back.

Anton reached the East City HQ. It was chaos. Soldiers running in and out, COs shouting orders across the courtyard and the halls. The Lieutenant didn't slow down, nor did he let the crowded halls stop him. He had become a familiar sight at the HQ and most knew to steer clear from him. "Seriously bad news" was how one Captain described Anton once.

The door to the Führer's office didn't stop Anton either, as he marched right in, his Generalissimo didn't seem to react to the sudden commotion.

"Things really took a nosedive out there sir. The team is probably scattered all over the city, I think we're their main targets at the moment. The filthy degenerate behind this... Well let's just say that he and I have crossed paths. Now, he's already pissed me off, but since the situation has changed I thought it wise to come over and ask... Heh, ya know... Who do I get to splatter all over the street?"

Anton had to hold back his maniacal smile as he asked about how next to proceed. He could feel his blood boiling as he looked forward to his orders. No more wholesome, by-the-book, soldier boy games. Anyone in his way would die tonight.

"I wouldn't think about it before you jump."

"That's never a good sign, but I did ask," Elias muttered as he tightened his grip on Mason's body. He stepped forward, as if blindly walking the plank, and dropped into the dumpster. Upon landing, he bent his legs to absorb the fall's force, but it didn't stop the pain in his upper legs. Elias took a deep breath and hopped out of the dumpster, then slowly laid Mason down. He left the Corporal sitting down, back to the dumpster, head leaning forward, and hands in his lap. The blood wouldn't be very visible at night, which would give them plenty of time to get away before anyone tried to make the connection.

"Come on, we should get back to the hospital. I doubt we're the only ones who were attacked, and I'll bet one way or another, someone got hurt." He raised an eyebrow at Tasha's reaction to what could be on her, but then he remembered that sixteen years in the infantry made one fairly tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions.

"Manifesto?"

Rai twisted his neck to try and look at Isaac from his difficult position on the ground. Steel Web wasn't looking at him, so his poisonous glare went unnoticed. The assassin groaned and laid back down to let a new wave of pain wash over him. "You would so quickly dismiss the opinions of your foe? Maybe that's how they do it in this hellhole of a country, but in Xing we have enough respect for our enemies to hear them out."

Cars still soaking from the rain dripped water idly into waiting puddles. A faint percussion added to the scene. Rai was silent for a moment, and started talking again.

"If you're expecting me to break down over how I'm a heartless wretch and beg for your forgiveness, it's not happening alchemist. I have no pretenses about my work here. I was hired to do a job, and I did i--I tried. But I've seen what your military does; it's devil's work. This whole nation stinks of a foul odor I've never sensed anywhere else. I won't say I wasn't happy to sign up for a job to bring down men as corrupt as your Fuhrer. My boss--he's a chimera. A HUMAN chimera."

Isaac would have leaped up to question him, but exhaustion kept him on the ground. "But... that's impossible."

"Or the more likely answer is, you were lied to." Rai retorted. "There are already enough lies in this country to weave a spider's web, a few more won't hurt. This chimera, he was made by your peers in the military. When he got sick from the experiments, and was too frail to use anymore, they threw him into the streets to die. Wouldn't you want a little retribution for that?"

He stared over at Frieda, as best as his eyes could glance from his position. "And I take it you've already seen what the slums are like around here..."

With a bit of painful shifting, he placed a hand behind his head to cradle it. "Every one of us had a reason to hate the military. Some better than others, but they were there either way. Painting the world black and white just doesn't work, dog. So then, you said you'd kill me or something?"


The thief's arm was caught up in the whip and as it pulled taught, ripping through her rubber suit and drawing blood. Chartrisse was wounded in several areas now, and she was starting to get sluggish. She glared at Roland, letting out a few ragged breaths. Then something changed. Her expression shifted from anger into something else--fear, maybe--and then before it could even fully settle it was blown into full despair. Her chest heaved a few times as sobs escaped it, and she collapsed to her knees crying.

"Oh, god, please stop!" she sputtered out in the breaths she got between sobs. "I di-didn't want t-t-to hurt anyone! They s-s-said t-they-they'd kill me if-if I didn't--"

She let out a particularly loud gasp and clutched the back of her head with both arms, balling up on the floor looking rather pitiful for it all. "P-p-please, you ha-have to help m-me! I c-can't go back to them, they'll--they'll..." By that point, she'd lost all control of herself and was weeping on the floor of the warehouse. It wasn't even obvious if she remembered that Lightning was there anymore.


Kallu, followed doggedly by Major Armstrong, reached the hospital to find it abuzz with activity. New wounded and dead from the attacks were being brought in by the minute, and the lobby was chock full of men and women waiting to get in. As Kallu pushed his way through the crowd, another individual not much taller than him shoved his way past and out the door. Was that... Victor?

There was no time to dwell on it then. Kallu immediately flashed his pocket watch to get him to the front of the line, where a nurse listened to his description of the events leading up to this very nervously. She immediately summoned a stretcher, upon which the bomber brother was placed and quickly wheeled up to the third floor. Stone followed closely, and was allowed into the room they had for him. The moment that he was in place, the other nurses backed away quickly so that the State Alchemist could do his job. It wouldn't be wise to be around if any extra bombs went off.


"...You say you honor your word.... And yet all I have seen evidence of is your cowardice... You lure me down here to ambush me when you already have me outnumbered... And if that weren't enough, you hold an innocent woman hostage. And yet you claim to be honorable? You think you're any better than the military?"

"Issss it truly evil to be well-prepared? We ssssimply wisssshed to enssssure that you would not esssscape our grassssp. I will make no defensssse for the atroccccities we commited tonight. We are.... passsst the point where honor matterssss. All that DOESSSS matter issss bringing down the military. Even if it cossssstssss ussss our livessss."

"The military is by no means blameless... And perhaps you are not wrong to seek your revenge on them... But endangering civilians to do so will only earn you more scorn and a swift death. My comrades will come after me and they are much less sentimental than I."

The snake-man seemed angered by what Marlin said that time. "Have you not sssseen my body? I am a FREAK. People already hate me, jusssst for what I look like. I do not CARE about their opinionssss of me. Only the good I can bring about, whatever the cosssst."

Something new sounded in the tunnels, wherever they were. It was fully audible now, if faint. A gunshot. The chimeras looked at each other warily, and the snake leading them pointed at a pair to investigate. The bear and the bird nodded in acknowledgement, and ran down the tunnels. There was silence. Then, a noise finally erupted.

SQUAAAAAAAWK. sklit sklit

The sound of razor-like feathers embedding themselves into their targets brought an unnerving grin to the snake's face. "You ssssee, Deep Blue? In the end, you're really all alo--"

BA-BOOM

The unmistakable sound of a rocket launcher bombastically roared through the entire tunnel system, shaking the chimera's lair as rocks and dust came loose all around them. The snake's eyes went wide, and his jaw dropped as the bear chimera's charred corpse flew past his face like a bullet and crashed through the wall on the opposite side of the lair. The tunnel opposite the one Marlin had come from erupted with a yellow light from a torrent of gunfire erupting from it. The bird chimera frantically flew out of the cramped space as fast as its wings could take it, pursued by the downright sadistic visage of Mira Banagher. Her pistol rocked its barrel back and forth as half a dozen rounds zipped through the air.

One lucky shot caught itself in the bird's wing, and it dropped from the air for a moment, hovering only about ten feet off the ground. "NOW!" Mira shouted. On cue, another figure barreled out of the tunnel; Marlin recognized Lt. Banagher as he moved at a speed no man his size should have been able to go. His wife leaped into the air and landed in the Lieutenant's hands, still charging forward like a mad bull. With a massive exertion he lifted his arms and catapulted Mira into the air, the brunette flying like a projectile straight onto the chimera's back. She reached to her bootstrap and drew an absurdly long combat knife, a malicious grin on her lips.

The bird began to panic as it realized what was happening and shook around in every direction to try and remove the madwoman from the military.

Lt. Banagher, meanwhile, unslung a large submachine gun he'd been carrying on his shoulder and opened up. Its drum barrel shook as all-dousing weapons fire filled the room. In the confusion, the chimeras had managed to let go of Lila. The young woman saw her chance and immediately dashed towards the tunnel, finding a bit of refuge inside while the snake man made a run for it as well. The remaining two chimeras were taking cover as best as they could in the pillars around the room.

Marlin, who had been kneeling still in all the chaos, heard Banagher call out to him. "Um, I'm gonna run out of ammo eventually, sir! Your jar??"


Fuhrer King Bradley stared at Anton for a moment, judging his expression. "No. You will be doing no such thing, Lieutenant."

Seeing the crestfallen expression on his subordinate's face, he elaborated. "Not only would you be endangering yourself, as one of their targets, you'd be endangering civilians by inviting open conflict; I'm suspicious of your attitude, agent. You'll be spending the rest of this incident here at HQ. Do you understand?" That mysterious, hateful glare that only popped up on the rarest of occasions was presented in full force this time.

James led Vlad through the crowded streets to the hospital. Pushing past the wounded civilians and the rushing Doctors and Nurses he made his way to where he saw Major Armstrong standing. He pushed his way into the room and stood at the doorway, legs spread wide, shoulders high.

"Everyone out of this room. This is official State Business. I need two nurses to stand against the wall and stay here. Everyone else. Out!" James ordered before turning to Major Armstrong. "You are to stand outside Major Armstrong. If you do not I will have you court martial so fast you will be out of the military before you leave this building. And I will make sure that your family is so disgraced that they will have to leave this country. Is this understood Major?" James turned away before he even got an answer. "Vampire. Do your thing."

The pressure that Bradley was putting out was only matched by Anton's disappointment at his orders.

"Wh... I... Yes... Sir."

Ugh... As much as I hate to admit it, I have been on edge lately. All this bloodlust is clouding my judgement. I can't afford to make the old man suspicious...

"Thank you for the wake-up call, sir. I shall remain at HQ as ordered, and remain vigilant for any attempts to attack the premises. If you'll excuse me."

Anton saluted the Führer and exited the office. He could feel the cold sweat making its way down his back. He had seen Bradley angry before, but what he felt a moment ago was something entirely different.

What the hell was that...? He thought as he ducked in to a nearby restroom. Anton washed the dried up blood off his arm and watched it swirl away into the sewers. For a moment, the Lieutenant did nothing but contemplate himself in the mirror.

After a while Anton sighed, brought up the old smile and returned to the hallway.

"Well nothing to do now but wait..." He said as he made his way to the mess hall.

"You are to stand outside Major Armstrong. If you do not I will have you court martial so fast you will be out of the military before you leave this building. And I will make sure that your family is so disgraced that they will have to leave this country. Is this understood Major?"

"Bwa--"

Armstrong stood dumbfounded, almost stammering at what the Lieutenant Colonel had ordered of him. His fists clenched; for the briefest moment, Projecting had to worry that there would a confrontation right there.

"Hmf..." It clearly pained him, but Armstrong brought a trembling hand to a salute. "Sir."

Something looked... wrong on the man's face as he turned away from James to leave. He made it as far as he door before he stopped. A grim air was projected, even without his face visible, as he addressed Projecting a final time.

"Sir. If we are willing to use the methods of monsters to fight our battles... what are we but monsters ourselves?" If Armstrong had expected an answer he did not wait for it; he immediately stepped out the door and disappeared from sight.


Chaos reigned in the city that night, but as the pitched fighting died down into the pained silence of the eve following battle, a few agents still played their hands.

In a dim corner of Central Command, a dark-haired woman in a black dress leaned against the wall as she waited. Lust had heard the explosions heralding the start of battle. Phase 1 of their plan underway. All she needed now was--

Swoosh

The darkness shifted around her, and the inky darkness of the secluded corner gained a white reflection when a single, pallid eye came to rest its gaze on her.

"Ah," she crooned. "I was wondering when you'd get here. We have much to discuss...Pride."

Kallu took the brother, stripped and strapped to the gurney. Within an hour, the man was beginning to come to, and a half-hour after that, he was entombed in the stone from the wall. The Stone Alchemist locked the door and walked back towards the man standing spread-eagled against the wall in a stone prison, with only his head uncovered. Next to the man was an IV connected to a vein in his neck. Kallu sent the nurses and doctors out of the room, to make sure that the illusion was as complete as he could. The threat of pain had been much more effective than actual pain from his experience.

He didn't advocate for Vampire's treatment in the open, but in the relative isolation of a hospital and other military establishments, there was little chance of innocents hearing and connecting the two.

Kallu looked up at the man encased in his possible torture chamber,"There is no escape from this transmutation, sir. If you answer the questions I want, you will be allowed to get medical treatment and possibly able to escape at a later date. I don't care at this point because whoever you are, who you work for is much more dangerous. Now, tell me who they are, who hired you?"

Please simply answer the questions, it will go easier for you if you do. First will have to be your fingers, then your toes, the pain will be excruciating if you refuse to answer, but you will break.

"Whoa," Elias commented as he and Tasha approached the hospital. On occasion he hated being right, such as when he predicted casualties, but the numbers gathering at the hospital were more than he expected. "So much for precision strikes. Can't imagine our guys doing this damage, so I'd say whoever's after us isn't too concerned with collateral damage." Too many wounded were being brought in on stretchers, which left relatively little aid for the walking wounded, but he didn't know how long before those began to worsen.

"Hey, you look for Victor, I'll help out down here, ma'am. Won't take more than gauze for most of these, but someone actually has to put it on."

Amon squelched up the road to his apartment, muddy water and a wretched stench trailing after his soaked clothes. He drew looks from the other tenants, but Amon payed no attention. He simply trudged up the stairs, humming an old army tune as he unlocked his door. Despite his composed exterior, Amon might have shut the door a little more forcefully than necessary. Neighbors winced and shook their heads as the door slammed shut with a deafening sound. Clearly the deranged man fell into the sewers.

Amon, however, had just come from Bomb Brothers' battle site.

After fleeing from a minor sewer cave caused by a cataclysmic explosion that knocked him face first into the... unfortunate mess of the sewers, Amon climbed up to see an entire portion of an apartment block completely leveled not far off in the distance. On his way to report it to the MPs, he came across the battleground, already swarming with paramedics and MPs. When he asked, Amon was told about the indiscriminate bombings by the two madmen and their subsequent fight with a portion of his Ops squad. Amon did not take it particularly well. He was halfway to the hospital when he realized the medics would have a complete fit at the sheer amount of diseased water he was carrying on him.

Half an hour and two showers later, Amon arrived at the hospital. With a stormy expression, he searched for a familiar face.

"Now, tell me who they are, who hired you?"
As Kallu finished his query, Krant began to chuckle weakly, offering the alchemist a one eyed glare, and what was probably supposed to be a menacing grin. The broken nose, missing teeth, and crusted blood, though certainly off-putting, fell quite a ways short of threatening.

"Oh say it ain't so, dear brother of mine! Doubting the peril of our ebullient gizmos, now how's that for a crime?"

An awkward pause followed, as Krant remembered that his brother was otherwise incapacitated. "Oh. Right."

Attempting to shrug (And failing. Kallu's restraints were nothing if not secure), Krant continued on, quickly adapting to a new tempo. "If you think you've won, if you think us done, then my, you're sadly mistaken! He's Kren, I'm Krant; we're the infamous bomber brothers! With toys that gleam and a penchant to scheme, we're the ones who'll know how to make you scream!

"I can't deny that we're in a bit of a jam; I tip my hat to you and your pals! But if you think for a bit that we've been forced to submit, then allow me a moment to fix your morales!

"You can beat and bruise, clamp and pinch, stab and pick, poke and crush, burn and bleed, break and snap, crunch and smash, sear and punch, rip, tear, shatter, stick; go ahead and take your pick! But by our golden rule, my brother and I will never snitch!"


Elias had no problem finding people to aid; as soon as word got around that another pair of hands, even automail ones, was ready to help, a press of bodies surrounded the soldier, every one of them clamoring for aid first.

It was going to be a long night.


As it turned out, Amon ran into a familiar face even before he made it to the hospital. Though the rain and panicked crowds made it hard to tell, the alchemist could have sworn that he saw Victor forcing his way through the packed bodies, weaving through gaps and holes in the rabble with ease. Oddly enough, the young soldier seemed to be heading away from the hospital, aiming instead for one of East's numerous back-alleys.

Amon was torn. On the one hand, he never would have guessed that his injured comrade was already allowed to be out in the streets, especially in conditions such as these. On the other, the odds of catching up to him through the crush of people were unlikely, at best, whereas it seemed he could reach the hospital with minimal effort.

"Very well, let the pain begin then, Krant. I have to ask you, are you sure that refusing to speak of your employers is worth the cost of your hands? They will go first, of course."

Kallu stepped up the solid stone encasing the brother. With a sigh, he reached out towards the man's left hand, and transmuted. It was a slow transmutation, a slight tightening at first beginning at his wrist, progressing to numbness, and finally slowly crushing his bones. The bones would then continue to be crushed until they began a powder and his flesh had been shredded completely. The man's slight grunts quickly progressed to screams.

"Are you still sure that this pain is worth your silence? Were you paid enough to never again practice what you so obviously love? This will continue until you must live in a wheelchair, assisted by either your brother, or a specialist. The former is less likely, as he is likely receiving much the same treatment at the moment. Save yourself and your family the embarrassment and pain this will certainly cause. Automail can only replace so much, Krant."

Elias lost sight of Tasha right after a nurse brought him a large first aid bag, which prompted his vision to be filled with the walking wounded he was to treat. Men and women would point out their own injuries, and parents tried to draw his attention to their children's. After swatting away an arm that reached out for the bag, Elias drew his sidearm and fired once into the air.

"Thank you all for your patience during this crisis," he began as he holstered the weapon, "but I feel the need to establish a few things. First, if you are standing around me, it means you're not going to die anytime soon, so calm down. Second, I am a Sergeant in the Amestris military, more specifically the infantry. I am one of those dogs who are out in the desert murdering those 'poor Ishvalans.' If you have a problem with receiving treatment from me, walk away now." A handful of adults stepped away, but no parent would dare to let their child go without aid, no matter the source. Elias dug his hand into the bag and tossed a roll of gauze at those who left, which gently struck a man in the back.

"Now, the order of aid is all children, elderly women, elderly men, all other women, and then all other men. If you cause problems, I will give the doctors another gunshot wound to treat. Form an orderly line, and if anyone actually feels like they're about to pass out, bring them to the front at any time. Lie, and you go to the back." He knelt down and began setting up a small aid station as the remaining wounded nervously formed a line for treatment. When he looked up, he saw a young boy with a blood-soaked cloth on his left arm.

"Mister, you don't look like you're in the army," he began as he extended the arm.

"I'm on a special mission right now, so I don't have to wear my uniform." Elias gently moved the cloth to get a look at the wound, then began to fold some gauze to put on it.

"How many people have you killed?"

"Ryan!" his mother exclaimed before giving Elias an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, his father's in the artillery, and he just says 'I don't know,' so Ryan asks every soldier he meets."

"It's fine," Elias replied, placing the gauze on Ryan's arm. "Hold this real quick." Ryan brought up his good arm to keep the gauze steady, while Elias began wrapping it to keep it in place. "Too many, but not enough."

"I don't get it," Ryan commented as he removed his hand so Elias could tie the final knot. Once it was in place, Elias shifted his gaze to Ryan's eyes, then to those of his mother.

"Honestly, I don't, either."

Tasha worked her way through the crowded hospital. It took her a lot longer than she would have liked, but with a combination of doctors and nurses rushing everywhere, and her tool pack that she had retrieved from her room had slowed her down considerably. This is madness, you think hospitals would ave an emergency protocol or something for a situations like this. she thought as she finally reached Victors room.

She walked in a smile on her face. "Well sorry about the quick ex-" She began before noticing the empty bed, the sheets thrown back like it's occupant had gotten out of bed. She knocked on the bathroom door to check if it was occupied, when no response came she checked inside. Nothing. The red flags were going off in her head. Something wasn't right, a man who had just lost an arm wouldn't be discharged so early. Nor would one who had just been attacked be gone either, moved to another room maybe. But then this one wold be occupied by another patient already.

Tasha poked her head out the door, hoping she was wrong and just over reacting. She stopped a nearby nurse. "Excuse me, do you know where Corporal Victor Kendral is? He's not in his room?"

Marlin froze in place for a moment as the room erupted into chaos around him. He had fully expected his life to end soon and yet he had been saved at the last minute. "...Impressive..." He muttered in awe as he watched the Banagher's dispatch two of the chimera in a fierce display of force. He had no idea the two were so skilled.

"Um, I'm gonna run out of ammo eventually, sir! Your jar??"

In his awe and relief, Marlin had almost forgotten that a battle was still going on. Now that Lila was free and had run to safety, there was nothing holding him back anymore. "... Right. Sorry. Keep them pinned down while I retrieve my jar. I'll circle around their flank and catch them from the side." Marlin called back before hurrying over to where he had tossed his jar.

Once armed again, he dashed around to the right side of the chimera before the Lieutenant had to reload. When he had a good view of the creatures, he set the jar down and filled it. These creatures would surely suffer more at the hands of the military if captured again... But after all they've been through, killing them would be far too cruel. I suppose I'll just have to hope for the best.

It wasn't an easy decision to make, but Marlin felt that the best thing to do right now would be attempt to capture the chimera for now and worry about the rest after tonight's crisis was over. Marlin unleashed the water on the chimera closest to him in a raging torrent, and froze it on contact in an attempt to immobilize it. He doubted it would be as effective as it had been on the gangsters from a few days ago, but it would at least give him some time for a better plan of attack.

Despite the mercenary's inane appearance and bizarre mannerisms, Kallu was forced to admit that he was a tough bastard. The number of people who could take that kind of pain and still remain resilient...

As the stone finally finished crushing Krant's hand, the bloodied brother's screams of pain finally fell away as he began to pant heavily. Slowly, the man's eyes locked onto those of his interrogator, the lethal mirth that had once filled them replaced by sheer, unhindered rage. "Well, lookie at what we've got here! A damn dirty dog who thinks he's got the world figured out.

"I know how this works," Krant continued to growl. "You hurt and threaten me until I spill my guts, all while you promise me leniency and aid. Then, once you've milked every damn bit of info you can, you slit my throat and toss me in the furnace. You army bastards are all the same!"

Dropping his gaze, the bomber stared at his stone restraints, as though attempting to peer through the rock to his ruined hand. Even if he had endured the loss of his left arm, he had to be nearing the end of his rope after such an experience.


"Excuse me, do you know where Corporal Victor Kendral is? He's not in his room?"

The frazzled looking nurse blinked as Tasha stepped in front of her, her armload of gauze and tape nearly falling to the ground as she suddenly stopped. Shooting an irritated glance at the alchemist, the woman quickly stepped into Victor's room, dropping her cargo onto the vacant bed.

"Hmmm, doesn't look like Corporal... Kendral's been discharged yet," the nurse muttered as she scanned the chart hanging from the wall. "Look, he probably just got shuffled around somewhere in this mess, alright? God knows we've got more patients then we can handle; it's a miracle half a dozen haven't already been stuffed in here.

"Look, I'm sorry," she continued, scooping the bandages back up, "but I've got to get these downstairs before they run out again. If you want to find your friend, then you're best bet is probably just checking every room you can; he's got to turn up eventually."


Marlin's torrent of water soared through the air, arcing towards the lion-maned chimera with deadly accuracy. Distracted as he was by the Banaghers joint assault, the hybrid didn't notice the swirling projectile until it was too late. Roaring out, he struggled against Marlin's attack, attempting to bat the water away, but only managing to awkwardly trap his arms as the liquid rapidly froze around his limbs.

The lion chimera subdued for now, Lt. Banagher focused his fire on the pillar shielding the wolfish one. Bursts of bullets tore through the air, slowly chipping chunks of stone off the column and keeping the enemy pinned down. At least, until Banagher's sub-machine gun clicked empty.

Cursing to himself, the soldier quickly ejected the empty magazine, scrabbling for another one strapped to his leg. His foe, however, was too fast. As soon as the spent magazine clattered to the ground, the wolf-man tore out from behind his cover, a snarl ripping from his snout as he cleared the distance between them in an instant. His hands shot out like lightning, razor-sharp claws ready to tear Banagher in half. Moving quickly, Banagher lashed out with his hands as well, his left fist bare while his right clutched the still-smoking gun. The two combatants clashed together, their open fingers locking in between as they grappled for dominance. Both were giants among men, their muscular bulks almost perfectly matched as they struggled back and forth, man against beast.

The chimera howled in pain as his palm wrapped around the gun's barrel, a sizzling stench filling the air as the hot metal burned his hide. Meanwhile, the lieutenant grit his teeth as his foe's claws scrapped along the back of his left hand, tearing through his skin and muscle like scissors through paper. Nevertheless, neither of the combatants refused to give ground, straining against each other with everything they had.

Finally, with a roar, the wolf hybrid ripped the sub-machine gun from Banagher's grip, tossing the weapon behind him and lashing out at the soldier's throat with unbelievable speed. Banagher managed to catch the blow, but just barely, halting the razor claws mere inches from his jugular. The sudden assault forced the lieutenant to step back, slowly sliding backwards as the chimera powered forward, his feral eyes gleaming with victory.

"Need some help there, honey?"

A combat knife, already stained with blood, flew through the air with breathtaking speed, slamming into the wolf-man's shoulder with a spray of blood. A howl of agony escaped the creature's snout as the blade dug into him, his grip and strength faltering from the blow. "Thank you, deeeeeeeear," Banagher shouted out as he charged forward, pushing the chimera across most of the room and slamming him into the far wall with a huge crash. In addition to the crack and crunch of bones, the impact also served to drive the knife entirely through the beast's body, a good three inches of bloodied blade suddenly emerging from its chest.

With a whimper, the chimera slowly slid to the ground, blood pouring from the grievous wound. Panting, Lt. Banagher turned about, shooting his wife a smile. She responded in kind, holding her awkwardly positioned foot as she sat on top of the bird chimera's corpse, its throat slit and bloody.

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