James took a long drink from the canteen and then handed it to whoever wanted it next. He exited the cave and took a long look at the devastation. All this to take down one old Ishvalan monk. And we didn't even take him down ourselves. We need to be more prepared for next time. Otherwise there might not be a another time.
James walked swiftly to catch up with Elias and Ken. Safety in numbers after all.
As Victor walked out from the cave, he looked to his left and saw the shattered remains of the monastery. If there were any escapees, they weren't going to be followed now. That was unfortunate for his squad, in a way, but he was glad he wouldn't have to do any more killing today. He looked down and saw the charred remains of a man, partially buried under the sand. He had to look away; he couldn't see a man in that kind of state.
He walked with the others down into the village, and it was very clear that there was not going to be resistance of any sort. Off in the distance, gunshots and explosions could still be heard. But all was quiet on their front. No one had even been around to move the bodies they had left in their wake. They got as far as the courtyard where they had encountered the monks before the sound of a backfiring car caught their attention. Or, rather, a truck; a massive personnel transport truck pulled into the courtyard as they made their approach. It parked next to the wall the Stone Alchemist had made earlier that day, and unloaded its delivery. Over a dozen soldiers clambered out and passed by the Special Forces team towards the monastery. They were likely the cleanup force, by Victor's guess.
Two individuals stepped out from the front section of the truck, waving their friends down. Colonel Grand and Lieutenant Banagher hustled over to them. The Colonel was more pressed to speak with James, while Banagher started up a conversation with the others.
The Lieutenant inspected the bodies, kicking his foot around in the dirt for some reason. "You fellas really did a number on this place, huh? Here I was getting worried about you; looks like you can handle yourselves just fine. Don't know just how much of this is legal, but the Colonel told me all about your assignment. Gotta say, taking down a monk like Torul takes skill, you all should be proud. How'd you do it?"
"Lieutenant Colonel." Grand began, attempting some form of military protocol. "Based on your presence here, and the lack of any plainly visible casualties to report, I assume your mission was a success. If you wish, this truck can take you and your men back to the camp to spend the night before heading back to the city."
James looked up at the horizon. The Colonel was right; none of them had really noticed, but the sun had finally gone down in nearly its entirety. Night would be on them soon, and would put a stop to most of the fighting so the combatants could rest.
"It wasn't that much of a challenge," Kallu said, breathing heavily, "The man spoke to us about what his views on Alchemy were, and they were surprising, given that he was an Ishvalan. To summarize, he was very committed to his creed and died when the shells hit I assume. There's a piece of his robe here,"He pulled the cloth he had taken from where it had been caught on the stone fragments left behind by the blasts,"The man was honorable and a worthy warrior. There's a hole in world now that he is dead, regardless of whether he was Ishvalan or not. Now if you'll excuse us Lieutenant, we are exhausted and the rest of the day off is mighty inviting."
"Thanks for the lift, sir," Elias said to Colonel Grand as he walked over to the truck. He didn't get in just yet, but he did place his detached arm in the back. He'd been with his platoon for years and had developed the habit of being the last soldier out, with his lieutenant being the first. Even though they were all gone, it wasn't much trouble to continue doing so.
It didn't seem like it'd be a long wait, with James, Victor, and Kallu already catching up. Elias took a deep breath, leaned against the truck, and took another drink of water.
"We are all alive sir," James saluted. "Injuried but moving and breathing. I think the biggest injury may have been our egos. The old monk hit us pretty hard," James turned to face the rest of the squad. "Everyone on the truck. We are moving back to camp for the night. We return to the city in the morning."
James stepped up onto the truck.
"Do you need a hand up Sergeant?"
"Do you need a hand up Sergeant?"
"No, sir," Elias replied, putting the canteen away. "I can get in on my own, just waiting for the rest of the team. Uh, old lieutenant and I agreed I'd bring up the rear, make sure no soldiers fell behind. Not implying anything about the watches, just an old habit."
Doesn't seem like anyone knows just how much automail I have. Wouldn't that be worth telling the watches?
Tasha let out a sigh of relief when she heard that they were heading back to East City. It probably wouldn't be for long, but any time away from the front lines was a good thing. She saluted Colonel Grand. "Thank you for the artillery support during the fight, Sir. It sure made things a hell of a lot easier." She said before heading for the truck. She climbed into the truck and took a seat near the entrance. She turned to Elias. "So Sargent, mind if I take a look at your arm there?" Se said gesturing to the auto-mail limb.
"So Sargent, mind if I take a look at your arm there?"
"Right, right, forgot you said you'd take care of that," Elias apologized. "Few times it's given me trouble, Dad would take a train out to fix it. Mom's better, but he never wanted her near a battlefield. It's just steel and whatever wires are made of, nothing exotic. Careful with the wires, though, it's got a blade that comes out above the wrist."
"Careful with the wires, though, it's got a blade that comes out above the wrist." Tasha's eyes flashed. "Really? Interesting modification, though fitting for a solider." She said examining the arm more closely. She tapped her finger along the forearm. "Hmm, Steel alloy. Certainly not the best for combat, but far from the worst."
She rapped her knuckle on the joints along the arm. "Good joints, at least you take care of your auto-mail. I've seen to many people ignore their maintenance." She peered more closely at where the arm had been removed. "At least the old man broke it off where he did, most of the pieces are easy to replace. Hell I think I may even have some in my own kit back in East City." She tugged at one of the wires and the blade extended. Tasha just laughed. "Ha, brilliant!" She tugged the wire again and the blade retracted. She set the Automail arm back down with a smile and a nod. "That'll be no problem to fix. You'll have to wait till I can get my hands on proper tools though. Hopefully they'll have something back at camp." She looked down at her own hands.
"If you don't mind me asking Sargent, what happened?" She asked. She then smiled and held up her hands. "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."
"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."
Elias smiled back, but it quickly faded as he thought about his soldiers who hadn't been lucky or wealthy enough to get automail.
"Ishvalan grenade, ma'am," he began, leaning his head back as he remembered that day in the war. "I was with one of my squads, clearing out buildings, when the damn thing rolled through the doorway. I was stacked to enter the next room first, so I grabbed it and tried throwing it back." As he said that last sentence, he felt the phantom sensation of still having his old arm, so he tried to repeat the motion of throwing the grenade back around the corner. When he realized all that had moved was his bloodied shoulder, he sighed.
"Captain told the company I was in rehab, regaining the use of my damaged arm, but I actually went home to get a replacement. Wasn't enough left of my arm to be useful, so Mom tore it out and gave me a whole new one." Elias took another look at the mechanical socket as his left eye twitched in pain.
"So, both at once or different occasions?"
"Both at once, about 15 years ago. My Father was an auto-mail mechanic up in North City. I was studying to take over when he retired." Tasha said with a smile. "One day, we began a trip to one of the smaller towns up north. We were off to perform the surgery on a farmer who had lost his arm in a mill accident. I fell asleep on the seat of our carriage, it was all we could afford at the time. We hit a rock or something, but it bumped me off. I had tried to grab something so I wouldn't fall, unfortunately I missed and hit the ground. The wheel crushed both my hands, my father blamed himself."
Tasha frowned, she could still remember her father's face, twisted in pain over what had happened. "I was in a lot of pain, so he gave me a dose of the antistatic we had brought along to numb the pain, and I passed out. When I woke up I was in a bed at the farmers house. My Father had performed the surgery on the farmer and was sitting by my side. He hadn't slept since I fell. I won't go into details but after a long discussion I was able to convince him to give me the surgery." She pulled back her sleeves, revealing automail forearms.
"There wasn't enough muscle and nervous tissue in my wrists, so he had to amputate my arms from the elbow down." She said before pulling her sleeves back down. "He told me afterward that it was the hardest surgery he had ever performed. He said it nearly killed him seeing his little girl in so much pain. He wasn't the same for a few months after, I guess he kept blaming himself." She said as a small tear rolled down her cheek. "I even hated myself there for a few weeks afterward, I didn't want my father feeling like that." She wiped her eyes with her sleeve. A smile returned. "But he returned to normal during my own rehab, and so did I. Course after I was fully recovered I had turned my attention to alchemy, but that's another story all together."
The Alchemists of Amestris' Special Forces team all filed into the truck, one by one. Once they were all safely in, Banagher and Grand climbed back into the front, and started up the transport. They rolled out of the town just as night hit. On the way back, Victor watched the others silently, too exhausted after the day's events to speak. He smiled a bit, though. He tried not to think of the old man Torul, and the suffering that his people had endured. He focused on the happier bits. All of his newfound companions were alive. That was something to be enjoyed. But he wondered just how much longer something like that could last. He remembered all of his old friends, from his old squad. He'd known them for four years, and now ever last one of them was dead.
It was dark, but the sun wasn't all gone just yet. So Victor could only pray that the others didn't notice the tears streaming down his face as they returned to relative safety.
Later that night, the team was all gathered around the center of the camp as the survivors of the Amestrian company finally returned from the village. Most of them all threw themselves into their tents to sleep off the exhaustion, while a few others went off to the medic's tents, or gathered around the fireplace to enjoy a bit of peace with their friends. Leo recognized the man that had rescued him earlier approaching Colonel Grand, and saluting him.
"Sir!" the young soldier said, drawing himself to sharp attention. "We did a full sweep of the town; all Ishvalan resistance has been pushed out of the region. The squad you sent up to the monastery completed their sweep as well, sir, and recovered Torul's remains. No other Ishvalans were found, though, and any attempt to dig through the rubble will take at least a week's effort."
The Colonel patted his man on the shoulder. "Excellent work, Captain Hughes. We'll worry about sorting out the destruction later. Right now, you and your men get some rest."
Captain Hughes saluted him again and walked off like a man on a mission. He was probably looking for someone specific. The Colonel, on the other hand, approached Kallu and pulled him away from the others. Once he was certain they were out of earshot, he dropped a key into his hand.
"I saw the way you treated that monk earlier. Teole, was that his name? He's being shipped off to Central tomorrow with the other prisoners. If you'd like to speak with him before that happens, he's in Cell Block B in the Northwestern corner of camp. And this meeting never happened."
Colonel Basque Grand walked out back into the open, surrounding himself in subordinates to order around before the Stone Alchemist could even question what had happened.
Kallu nodded his weary head at the Colonel's gesture. Though he was almost gone from the day's events, he knew he needed to talk tot the kid again, Central was a place prisoners either were never seen again or ended up dead in attempted jail breaks.
Arriving at the Cell Block he asked for the boy and was taken to his cell, after handing over his Alchemy gauntlets, of course.
"Thank you, Private, you are dismissed, take a break. If they ask you why you're not on duty, tell them it was an order. Now go," He said, leaving no room for argument from the kid.
He turned to the kid in the cell, unlocked it, and locked himself inside. The building was made of concrete, well built, but a quick inspection of the walls confirmed his theory, the building had been constructed of cheap cement and weak stone, two things he could use to his advantage here.
"I figured you should know, Torul is dead by all accounts," He pulled the piece of the robe he had taken from the ground around what had been the temple,"Here, Teoule, this is yours. Orders are that you are to be taken from here to Central Command at dawn," He dropped his voice to a whisper, "But orders are always not being able to be followed. We found Torul, your use to Amestris is done. Which is why, in approximately three hours, you will leave this place, kill no one, and find your way back to your people. The soldier I captured with you can't be helped at the moment, now, I have about fifteen minutes before a patrol comes back to watch me. So let's get this over with."
Kallu pulled a handful of sand from a pouch on his belt and created an Alchemy circle on the ground in front of the wall facing the outside. He quickly transmuted the concrete, weakening it considerably, enough for even a weakened initiate Ishvalan monk to dig his way through it. Finishing the simple transmutation, he scattered the sand to the corners of the cell, mixing it with the other dirt and sand that had made its way into the building.
"Don't leave until around midnight, that's when the guards change, both patrols will be tired, and miss much in the night. Remember what I said, you will kill no one, if you do, I will be forced to hunt you,I love my home just as much as you do," He paused for a moment, determining whether or not his words had had any effect on the youth he decided to add one last thing, "not everyone gets a second chance at life Teoule, live it not just for yourself, but your brother as well." The fire in his eyes - a rare thing - confirmed his stance on the young man's choices.
"One more thing, this never happened," He went back to the door, again unlocked it and re-locked it as he left, recovering his gauntlets at the security station on his way out.
He returned to his cot, but was unable to sleep that night, worried that Teoule would again be caught, this time he would be held under both gun and key. He got a few hours rest that night, enough to keep him going the next day, and decided to spend the rest of the night among an outcropping of stone in the center of camp, visible to all should they look out of their tents, but relatively silent for his purposes.
At midnight that night, all was too quiet for anyone to hear the sounds of an Ishvalan monk scraping his way to freedom.
Out at the edge of the camp, as Kallu sat amongst his stone, a figure joined him. It was Victor, looking very sullen. "Hey, do you, uh, mind if I join you?" The words sounded rehearsed; he'd been psyching himself up for this for a few minutes, at the least. The Corporal sat himself down next to Kallu before the Alchemist could even reply.
"I, er, hope I'm not intruding." Victor said, looking up at the stars. "It's just, I was kind of curious what the view was like over here. Away from the noises of the camp. It's... pretty peaceful, actually." He leaned back against a rock, looking up at the sky. Neither of them spoke for a while.
Then, they saw it. A figure darted out of the camp. No alarms were raised; he was unseen. He dashed by the rocks, but stopped for a brief second as he caught sight of Kallu and Victor inside. Teole had been the one sprinting by. He looked at them in a moment of shock and fear before he registered the Stone Alchemist's face. Mustering a bit of courage, and a bit of the resentment that had not yet left him, he nodded in appreciation and continued off into the distance as fast as his feet could carry him.
Victor looked at Kallu like he was crazy. "What are you doing? Should we stop him?!"
Kallu only shook his head, and watched as the figure darted off. His shadow grew further and further into the distance, until it was nearly out of sight.
A torrent of fire and shrapnel erupted into the air off in the distance, the smoke ball rising hundreds of feet up. Victor's mouth dropped wide and he let out a squeak in shock. Alarms sounded within the camp, as a search party was quickly formed to figure out just what had happened out there. Soldiers dashed by, a good distance away from the pair's rocky outcropping. They were so distracted that neither of them noticed the figure that had joined them until he spoke.
"Those Ishvalans are getting crafty." The man said in his low, sort of gravelly voice. His hair was tied back into a neat ponytail to give his shifty eyes a clear view of the devastation. "That one slipped right past you two. He might have gotten away with vital information; in the end, though, he was part of a much greater symphony than his escape would have ever been."
Victor felt a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead. Standing next to him and Kallu was Solf J. Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist.
Kallu sighed, both for the loss of Teoule and that the silent night had been broken by Kimblee. He slowly turned his head towards and replied,"I admit that they are getting better, I suspect that had they wanted to attack Amestris before now, we would have been powerless to stop them, Solf, though I doubt that he would have had much information to get away with, he's been a POW since this afternoon. The price of secure borders is growing, reconciliation is going to be much harder with each life lost, on both sides. Victor, I believe that you had questions you wished answered. Come with me, disturbances are quite distracting."
Kallu nodded to Kimblee, and walked off in the direction of his tent, expecting Victor to follow, whether he did or not mattered little to him, he had had his peace with the stone. He was content for the time being. Victor being that close to that man was not good for his health however, Kimblee had a reputation for his Alchemy, very little good could come of explosions.
Elias silently nodded at Tasha's story, deciding that later, he might tell her about his other arm.
When they all returned to the camp, he thanked Ken before heading for the medic's tent after stopping by supply for a new coat and sling to go on his machine gun. Elias had the privilege of getting the chief medical officer to properly treat his arm, due to officers' slightly lower rate of divulging sensitive information.
When the explosion went off, Elias' hand shot for the sidearm in its holster, which was soon aimed at the medic's tent entrance. Hearing no gunfire to follow it, he holstered his weapon and looked around at the other patients to see if any of his team had also spent the night there.
Tasha jumped from her stool as the explosion went off, ready to move. After a few minutes of silence she sat back down and refocused on her work. A variety of wrenches, measures, screwdrivers, files, and pieces of Elias's arm spread in front of her. She pulled her eyepiece back down and zoomed in on a joint on the end of the arm.
After she had visited the medical tent to have her nose examined and re-set, she had grabbed what parts and tools the camp could spare. She had set to work on the arm right away, with luck she would be done by morning and would be able to set the arm back in place before they set off for East City.
She slowly sled the file along the joint, wearing it down the perfectly fit it's slot. She stood up from her work and set her eyepiece down and stretched. A good number of the pieces missing had been replaced, now she need the measurements to make sure they fit Elias. She grabbed a couple of measuring tools and walked out of her tent towards the Medical tent, hoping to find Elias.
Roland was roused from his nap by a cacophony of gunfire that was proceded by a large explosion.
He knew that sound anywhere, and it only made sense that he would be in the vicinity, he was after all, one of the most dangerous alchemists he'd ever known.
Roland stood up and gave a stretch accompanied by some strange noises.
He gathered some static and directed a small shock through his synapses, that immediately made him more alert.
I should research the benefits of manipulatiing bio-electricity more...
He wandered around the camp, uninterested by the sounds that had woke him, he wondered to himself where Tash was, but decided that she might not appreciate his presence, as she had seemed busy, as she rushed around camp gathering tools for something.
Roland went over to Tash anyway, promising himself that he'd try to not be a distraction.
Ken was searching the camp for a spare pencil and a note pad, just after getting a note pad from some random soldier, he heard an explosion go off. Ken turned to face the direction the explosion came from, while the soldier he was standing next quickly drew his rifle, a few seconds past before ken said 'What ever cost that explosion probably isn't any kind of porblem, so holster your rifle'.
Ken then went to find the deep blue alchemist, after a bit of searching ken saw found the deep blue alchemist and asked 'could I take a look at your jug?'.
After returning to camp for the night, Marlin spent most of the night by the fire. He pulled out his research journal and began taking notes about the events of the day, recording both notes on the performance of his jar and notes on Torul's last words should he need to look into them later. For someone like Marlin, keeping a journal like this was essential since he tended to go off on tangents and lose focus easily. While he found he simply couldn't solve that particular problem, taking constant notes helped him at least pick up where he left off at a later time.
Marlin's focus was disturbed only by an explosion in the distance. He thought to investigate, but decided against it. There were plenty of soldiers around who were probably more suited to that sort of thing than he was. Shortly after, Ken approached and asked to look at his jar. ".... Of course. Look all you like..." He answered quietly, pointing to the jar sitting at his feet before returning to his journal.
Leo had found an empty lot between the medical tent and the living querters of the officers where he could train in peace. He had already preformed twenty three exercises when he was about to finish his daily routine. He threw his shirt aside and trained barefoot. Every exercise was demanding and made Leo sweat and sometimes have him gasping for air.
A deep breath.
Leo spread his legs and leaned back on his right leg with his left leg stretched out forward. His behind was almost touching the ground. He tapped his right leg on the desert soil and transmutated the ground underneath his right leg to push him up. He then delivered a powerful kick forward with his right leg and continued forward with an onslaught of strikes with his fists. He moved to the right and almost fell to the ground, sweeping his leg on the soil and then pulling himself up.
He ran forward and leaned to the left. he stopped his right leg on the ground and planted it on the soil. He turned around quickly and before he was about to jump he transmutated the earth to form a strange pike. He jumped and used his left leg to kick the pike forward, smashing it against the small dune that was near his training grounds.
He transmutated the soil again and launched himself in the air, preforming a somersault and landing on both of his feet held together and his arms spread sideways. He pulled his hands forward and then down to his knees and slowly bowed down.
Before he could open his eyes and end the session he heard a loud explosion in the distance. Alarmed by the attack, Leo pushed himself away from the corner of the camp towards the entrance of the camp, unaware of his sweaty and naked appearance.
Ken picked up the jar and started making notes on all the alchemic circles, flicking between different pages of the note book as he did so. The Only noises coming out of ken as he switched between staring at the jar and the note book were a series of grunts, ranging form confused, to impressed, to surprised. After ken was done making notes, even drawing the parts of the uncompleted circles on some pages of the notebook, ken with out raising his head form his notes in a hushed voice asked the deep blue alchemist 'Was there something odd about the artillery fire to you?'
Tasha's head swiveled back and forth looking for Elias. Where....? Tasha stopped looking and pinched the bridge of her nose. "OW!" She yelped remembering her broken nose. "Great, good thing I was heading towards the medical tent anyway. She turned and saw Roland heading towards her. Se raised a hand in a small wave. "Heya, Roland. If you plan on chatting better follow me. I gotta find Elias if he wants to have his arm back by morning."
Roland heard Tasha and made a swivel on the spot with his heel whilst whistling nonchalantly.
"Ahhh, I see, so is that what's been keeping you away from me?" he said with a wink and a cheeky grin.
He glanced over at the prosthetic arm with a feeling of intrigue, it was dented and worn, clearly having seen a lot of action, Roland made out the slot which he assumed the blade extended from.
"I just came to say hello; that damn racket woke me up and now I'm bored"
He gave an annoyed look and then pouted like a child.
Victor had his eyes fixated on Kimblee as Kallu stood up and walked away. "Victor, I believe that you had questions you wished answered. Come with me, disturbances are quite distracting."
He had heard the Stone's words, but was unable to do anything as he walked away. The Alchemist staring him down commanded his full attention and more than a healthy amount of his fear. Kimblee knelt down in front of him and looked at Kallu, walking away. "Quite the company you hold, there, Mr. Kendrall."
Victor's eyes widened a bit as he heard his surname being used by this man. He tried to put on a tough face, but the nervousness shone through like a flame. All he could think of were Tasha's words to him, never to spend a single moment even near this man. He was off his guard. Crimson picked up on this, and leaned in. "H-how do you know my name? Victor asked in a shaky tone. All Kimblee did was smile and pat you on the shoulder.
"You're a war hero, Corporal. Men on the frontline need stories of men like you to get them riled up, keep them going when it all seems too much. It's only natural I hear about the man who killed thirty Ishvalans with a single strike! If you don't mind, in fact.." he sat down next to Victor. The feeling in his gut was now nothing but terror. Kimblee looked up at the night sky and continued speaking.
"I'd like to commend you on work, actually. There's only so much a man can do without alchemy, but I have it on good word that the explosion you made that day was marvelous. Perhaps you saw a bit of the glory in it all? The beauty in an explosion?"
"Uh... yeah." Victor said, blatantly appeasing Kimblee to get away. "Look, I would, er, really love to stay and chat, but Kallu and I were discussing some important, uh, tactical layouts to try out in the future. So, I should really go and find him. Maybe w-we can chat some other time?"
As he stood up to leave, Kimblee stood with him and grabbed his shoulder as Victor tried to walk away. He was swiveled about and forced to stand and look up into Kimblee's dark eyes. They looked deadly serious.
"Listen to me, Victor. Something you should know..."
A few minutes later, as Tasha and Roland chatted, they spotted a figure walking up to them. As he got close they recognized him as Victor, but he was acting odd. His face was frozen in what looked like a half-scream, his eyes were unblinking and as wide as they could be stretched, and air-dried tears left a faint trail down his cheeks.He swallowed before trying to speak to them. "T-the explosion... it was the Crimson Alchemist."
As Ken looked over his jar, Marlin continued to make notes in his journal about the jar's performance that day. Using it in live combat for once had given him plenty of food for thought, such as his instinctual use of the jar as a shield against the monk. Iron was originally chosen to make it difficult to destroy, but it was surprisingly useful for blocking incoming attacks. Perhaps a remaking it out of a stronger metal may prove useful? May need to bulk up a bit if it gets any heavier though. Possible materials include...
Marlins thoughts and writings were then interrupted by Ken speaking to him. "....Artillery fire....?" He muttered quietly, thinking back to what he had heard. His combat experience was minimal though, so he didn't have much to compare it to. ".... Not particularly... Don't know much about that sort of thing...." He eventually replied, not taking his eyes off of his journal.
James fired shot after shot down the firing range, emptying the clip, he pulled back on the slide, released the empty magazine from the gun letting it drop to the ground, grabbed a full magazine and inserted into the gun and started firing again.
James repeated this three times before putting the gun down. He walked down the range to check his target dummy. It was riddled with bullets, mostly from the waist up. He ripped the target down and left the firing range, returning the gun as he left the make-shift range.
That mission was a disaster. If it wasn't for that artillery strike from the Colonel we would have died. We needed to get better as a whole. Make sure that we have pairs that match up well. Make sure we can play to each others strength and cover each others weaknesses.
James made his way to where Vlad was and sat down beside him.
"So. What did you think of that last mission?"
Ken keeping his voice low said 'well to do that much damage would require serious fire power, and form my experience the military tries to avoid using resources were possible, and this was a target that was being attacked by a squad of state alchemist which could have been easily killed by that artillery fire. So not only did were they quite liberal with their resources they also ran the risk of killing a large number of state alchemists, they really wanted to kill that monk, and the monk was willing to use alchemy, something that would damn him and is seen as one of the greatest taboos of their religion, to stay alive. That monk may have known something that drove him to that, that the military didn't want him to know. Though this could just have been someone doing a terrible error with their use artillery, but I am just saying to keep on your toes encase more suspicious things happen.' Ken then got up and before walking away said 'just saying you might want to be careful who you disgust this kind of stuff with' Ken then started to walk round the camp to see if he could find anything of interest.
Elias had left his coat on his cot in the medical tent as he walked around, examining the other patients while silently easing their concerns of an Ishvalan attack through his peaceful demeanor. The lucky ones had bandages around their torsos; the fact that they survived the day meant they'd make a full recovery. Some soldiers were missing arms, others were missing legs, and one was missing one of each.
"Hey, Sarge?" a soldier asked from behind him. Elias turned and approached the man, who was missing almost his whole right leg. He knelt down as the soldier sat up on his cot.
"What is it," he paused to look at the man's rank, "Corporal?" The Corporal was quite visibly in pain, but held it in while he spoke to a Sergeant First Class.
"How is it you're mobile when you lost an arm today? Doesn't it hurt?" Elias smiled as he looked to the Corporal's neighbor who was also sitting up, a female Private who'd lost her right arm below the elbow.
"Hell yes it hurts," he began, "but when you've been in as many wars as me, you welcome the pain. It tells you you're not dead yet. And in this case, tells you you're going home. Unless you want to spring for some automail, but even then, it's your call."
"Going home..." the Corporal muttered, looking at the Private. "I wish more were coming with us." He turned back to Elias. "My team got hit by a grenade. Stokes and Martin died in the blast. We...didn't."
"We came under fire," the Private took over. "I couldn't shoot, he couldn't move, so I dragged him behind cover while he and the rest of the squad suppressed the enemy." The Private was unable to hold back all of her tears, but the Corporal could by blinking rapidly and remembering the senior NCO in front of him.
"Guys are alive, complaining, laughing in the morning. Then the patrol barely starts, and they're just...dead. How do you deal with that, Sarge?"
"If you're lucky, you never really do. You get used to people close to you dying, you may as well join them." Elias stood up and began walking back to his cot.
"Sarge, you lose someone today?" the Private asked, but Elias didn't face them as he sat back down.
"Lost my whole platoon a few days ago, even the LT. Lost my arm today. I'm sure you can figure it out." With that, he laid down on his back and stared up at the tent ceiling.
Tasha's eyes widened as she heard Victor. She quickly looked him over, checking for any sort of injury. Physically he seemed fine, mentally.....well his face gave that. "Oh shit! Corporal are you alright?"She said grabbing him by the shoulders. She looked him in the eyes hoping to find a shred of sanity left in him. "Shit, Roland help me get him to the medical tent. Looks like the medics are gonna have their hands full tonight." She said as she began to lead Victor towards the Medic tent. Damn it Kimblee! This is why I warned Victor
Kallu walked back to his tent,and lay down on his cot. Much softer than what he was used to laying on, but he couldn't sleep on it, those years of putting laying his head down on the ground,stone, and sand were too ingrained in his body to allow anything else. He didn't expect the Corporal to follow him, but he did give him an out for Kimblee, there was little he could do beyond that.
He found he still couldn't sleep, the camp was much too active now and Teoule's death gave him pause. The kid just wasn't meant to live or he just wasn't good enough to keep living. Either way, Kimblee was a problem that would eventually be dealt with, just not anytime soon.
He wandered the camp, watching the soldiers as they tried to settle back down or threw either worried or contemptuous glances his way. It didn't matter whether they hated or adored him, the Stone had rarely felt anything, this new squad being the closest thing he had come to calling friends in years. As he wandered, he soon came upon Tasha, Roland, and a very distraught Victor by the looks of him.What the hell happened to him? What the hell did Kimblee tell him?Couldn't have been what I did for the kid in the cells, he doesn't have enough proof or time to have found that out.Damn, he looks bad.I better go see if I can help.
"Corporal, what's wrong? What did you see?"
Kallu looped one the man's arms around his shoulder and helped Tash half-drag, half-walk him to the medic's tent.This isn't good, he shouldn't be this messed up, the mission finished hours ago, and he seemed well in control of his faculties just a few moments ago. To break down this quickly and this easily... did Command just begin testing a new weapon? If that's it, then this war is going to be over much faster... but now the cost will be astronomical. Why couldn't I get my Golems to work sooner?
"Shit, Roland help me get him to the medical tent. Looks like the medics are gonna have their hands full tonight"
Roland's eyes set upon the young soldier, the look on his face told him everything, and he knew who must be responsible.
He made Victor look into his eyes, they were bloodshot and staring into oblivion.
"Corporal? Talk to me, are you okay? What happened?"
What did Kimblee do now, this poor boy had done nothing to him, Crimson's just sadistic...
"Kallu, please help Tash take this man to the Infirmary, he needs treatment for shock, it's nothing more than that"
He looked at Victor again and wondered what Kimblee could've said to disturb the boy so much.
"It'll be alright soldier"
He gave him a pat on the back.
"I'm going around camp, to check to see if everyone else is okay"
"Kallu, please help Tash take this man to the Infirmary, he needs treatment for shock, it's nothing more than that"
Shock I'll agree with, but there's something more at work here than simply just that. The kid was doing just fine a few minutes ago, what did Solf do?
"Roland, be careful, I don't think this is just shock, there's more to this.I was just with this kid a few moments ago and he looked nothing like he does now. Solf may have seen something, ask him while you're looking around."
Kallu took off his gauntlets and slung the man over his shoulder,"Come on, Corporal, let's get you to the doc," He turned around and looked at the soldiers that had begun to crowd around the scene, "Anyone got a canteen with them,preferably with only water in it?"
What happened out there?
Marlin frowned and paused his writings as he considered Ken's words. It was true that the force used had seemed a bit excessive, but the artillery strike had been the result of Kallu's smoke grenade from what Marlin had understood. Still, it was something to consider. Perhaps the true reason they had been sent after Torul had something to do with the truth within the truth that the old monk had spoken of.
He could make little sense of it all with the information at hand though, and was forced to resume his notes on the jar after awhile. His writings were interrupted once again though by yet another commotion. Marlin looked up from his journal, slightly annoyed, to see a group of soldiers gathering nearby. Since there had been an explosion earlier, Marlin had a feeling this might be related and decided to investigate this time around.
Upon getting closer to the gathering, Marlin saw Kallu with their fellow squadmate Victor slung over his shoulder. Victor definitely didn't look very good and Kallu was asking for water for him. Marlin quickly filled his jar with a bit of water and transferred that over to his canteen. ".... Here...." Marlin said, pushing his way through the soldiers and handing the canteen to Kallu. ".... What happened...? Something to do with the explosion?"
Kallu asked for a canteen and was surprised to be handed one by Marlin, he looked and acted more the bookish type and didn't seem all that comfortable in a combat situation or any situation that didn't involve a lab.
Why was he picked for this platoon anyways?
"Thanks Marlin, can you get the guy to drink some, he seems a bit out of it. It doesn't have anything to do with the explosion,I was just speaking with him, I think something said to him set him off. Roland's going to go check on the camp, see if anyone else is acting this way."
After Marlin attempted to get the Corporal to drink, Kallu began trotting off towards he med tent, maybe there were some answers to be found there...