→ fullmetal alchemist fanfic: black lion

Edward has spent years searching for a way to save his brother. However, his search comes to a grinding halt when he finds himself in the midst of a covert war between a radical resistance and - at the centre of everything - the omnipotent and secretive Black Lion Corporation.

Chapter Two

The mischief that had shone in Maes’ eyes a mere couple of minutes ago had all but vanished. He ran his fingers through his hair.

"When you say things are serious," Roy asked carefully, "exactly how serious do you mean?"

Maes drummed his fingers on the car door. “Serious as hell, my friend,” he muttered, “you made a good call for once.”

Read chapter two: [ FF.net | AO3 ]
Click here for links to chapter one.

fullmetal alchemist fanfic: black lion

Edward has spent years searching for a way to save his brother. However, his search comes to a grinding halt when he finds himself in the midst of a covert war between a radical resistance and - at the centre of everything - the omnipotent and secretive Black Lion Corporation.

The frail figure that was Alphonse Elric lay before him, small and vulnerable, framed by thin white sheets. Edward let his hand rest on his brother’s forehead, but the skin was cold as usual, marked by a familiar darkness in hollowed cheeks.

"Sorry it’s taking me so long," Ed murmured to the seemingly lifeless body of his brother.

Read chapter one: [ FF.netAO3 ]

→Continued from [x]

Edward stared at the loose sheet before him with wonder. “I - uh - I think I’m finished.”

Roy, who had grown tired of watching his lover prove himself to be the more talented alchemist, had been reading through that morning’s headlines. He peered over the newspaper and raised his eyebrows. “You finished it? An array for teleportation?”

"I don’t know," Edward said frantically, "you have to check over it for me." He slid the paper across the table towards Roy, who caught it under his finger. He paused, and waited until Ed gestured permissively before he scanned the messy array before him.

"Edward," Roy said with a sigh, "if you think I am remotely capable of matching your alchemical skill-"

"I don’t give a shit, just hurry up and look at it."

He relented, and leaned in closer for a better look. The design was interesting, to say the least. It was clear that the array was part of a pair that could communicate over some distance - and now that he thought about it, Roy could discern the five-point elemental system of Xingese alkahestry. So, the array could break down matter and communicate with its hypothetical twin array, which would rebuilt it some distance away. It looked technically accurate, albeit nonfunctional - though it could certainly provide the basis of genuine research rather than simply remaining a silly hobby.

"I’d need more time to check over the smaller details," Roy said finally, "but it looks pretty good from my angle. Though it’s probably four different kinds of illegal."

Edward frowned slightly. “And I’m pretty sure it would kill anyone who tried to use it,” he said, disappointed.

The two remained unmoving for a while, until Roy broke the silence. “I think you should burn it.”

Ed paused, before nodding slowly. “Okay,” he conceded sadly. He reached across the table, gathered up his illegal handiwork, and made his way dejectedly out of the room.

Roy was not normally keen on work being brought to the table during mealtimes. However, from the day a particularly grumpy blond alchemist came barging into his personal life, Roy decided he might as well get use to it. Edward tended to be a quiet reader, after all - save for the occasional curse when drops of hot coffee spilled onto his lap when he wasn’t paying attention.

This morning was a little different, though.

For one, Edward was talking to himself. Roy watched with toast half-hanging out of his mouth as the young man before him muttered with varying degrees of frustration, scribbling onto a loose sheet of paper. Ed’s food remained untouched as well, which was alarming at best.

"Edward," Roy said. After a few moments of silence, he added, "What are you doing?"

Ed’s eyes did not leave the page. “Makin’ something,” he said flatly.

"Mind if I ask what?" Roy asked, fighting the urge to smile.

Ed ducked his head down and lazily traced an arc on the page, still refusing to meet Roy’s gaze. He muttered something inaudible.

"Sorry? Didn’t catch that."

"Uh. It’s just a thing I do when I’m bored." Ed began drawing over the same line half-heartedly, warping its neat curves with thickened edges.

Roy straightened in his seat and peered across the table. It looked like an array of some sort; the design was far too complex for him to make out the details, but the elements he recognised seemed like odd choices to put together on a transmutation circle.

"What on earth is that for?"

Edward hunched protectively over his work. “It’s for fun,” he said defensively. “Like I said, I only do this when I’m bored.”

"That’s not what I… Ed, what does it actually do?" Roy fought hard to stop a grin from creeping into his face. For all of his usual bravado, Edward was easily embarrassed.

Ed drew in deep breath. “It’s non-functional, it’s not supposed to work and I make stuff like this to see how far I can go with it,” he babbled, “but in general, it’s… uh. It’s for time travel.”

Roy almost inhaled his toast in a sudden fit of laughter. “Sorry, what?”

"Oh for fucksake, I knew you’d be a bastard about it," Edward snapped. "Like I said, it’s just something I do that’s completely pointless and impossible, but also fun. I like to see how far I can go with it."

"Before you get to the part where it’s impossible?"

Edward sighed. “Essentially, yes.” He waited for Roy’s reaction, possibly in anticipation of a snarky comment. When he received none, he lowered his head somewhat dejectedly and continued to add new and confusing lines to the array.

Roy was just beginning to feel a little guilty when an idea occurred to him. “You know, time travel is a bit silly. I was never really a fan of the concept, so-“

"Roy, I swear to god-"

"-don’t you think teleportation is a little more interesting?"

Edward paused. “Teleportation,” he said slowly, considering the word. Suddenly his eyes widened. “Yeah, teleportation!” He flipped the paper over and began constructing another shape, scrawling a loose circle that reached the edges of the page.

"You know Ed," said Roy, "ordinary alchemists have probably tried to make this already, and I’m fairly certain they all failed."

"Ordinary alchemists," Edward scoffed, and Roy couldn’t help but laugh.

Winry chewed the end of a straw, wrinkling her nose ever time she glanced at the clock. “Do you think they’ll be much longer?” she asked, throwing a sideways glance at Alphonse.

The boy looked up from the pink magazine he’d been perusing for the past half hour. The hospital waiting room wasn’t exactly equipped with reading material suited to a prodigiously gifted alchemist, but he didn’t seem too bothered by it. “I don’t know,” Al said with a shrug, raking his fingers through his scruffy hair. “The Colonel said they had to discuss important military secrets, and I’m not sure how long that’s supposed to take.”

"Important military secrets. Huh." Winry slid further down in her seat and blew bubbles into her milkshake. She could feel her patience wearing thin, and the clock’s incessant ticking seemed only to remind her of the time she wasn’t currently spending on correcting Ed’s automail. Al, however, sat quietly beside her with composed features, though his mouth curved into the occasional smile as he read through a list of Most Embarrassing Date stories.

Winry’s brow pinched. “What’s the big idea, anyway,” she muttered, “Ed’s still injured, and the Colonel’s already trying to get him involved in more military business.”

Al hummed his agreement as he carefully turned the page. “Colonel Mustang visited yesterday as well,” he said, though his eyes didn’t leave the page he was reading. “Must be really important military secrets.”

"He visited yesterday?"

The boy nodded and lowered the magazine. “Brother’s face was a little red afterwards. I guess they argued.”

"Huh." Winry chewed her straw again. Al turned back to the magazine and tried to suppress the grin creeping onto his face.

The young mechanic’s eyes darted up to the clock again. She sighed, crossed her legs, uncrossed them, and tried to peer over Al’s shoulder into the pages of the magazine. He batted her away halfheartedly.

By the time her throat started to hurt from the stench of antiseptic, Winry decided she’d done a sufficient amount of waiting. She moved to stand when Al’s arm shot out and yanked her sleeve.

"Hey! What the hell-"

"A few more minutes," the boy pleaded, though Winry didn’t miss the humour in his eyes. She huffed in frustration and sat down again.

"Important military secrets," he repeated.

"Fine."

"Super important. Super secret."

Winry wrinkled her nose and finished off the last of her milkshake, ignoring Al’s quiet chuckles. She didn’t really care for whatever game he thought he was playing, though she wished the kid would stop mocking her with the fact that he knew something and she didn’t.

Winry curled her fingers and crumpled the empty foam cup into a ball. She’d give them ten more minutes - any longer, and there’d be hell to pay. Hell in the form of a weighty airborne spanner.

With a furious kick, Edward sent the wooden door swinging open, and he gasped at the sudden rush of cold air that stung his skin. He drew his scarf closer to his face, peering grumpily at the dismal scene before him.

The street had almost completely frozen over in the mere hour he’d spent inside the dilapidated building. A thin layer of frost coated every surface in the immediate area, giving the simple garden an almost crystalline appearance. Ed’s eyes followed the path that stretched out before him. He absently wondered how he was supposed to hobble across the hazardous ground and reach the street without somehow falling on his ass, what with automail ports that reacted to sudden changes in weather and made walking slightly more difficult.

Ed steeled his nerves, and was preparing himself for the arduous journey towards the distant gate when a crouching figure there unfurled itself and stood up. His stomach turned at the suddenness, but he grinned when he recognised Roy Mustang with what looked like a steaming foam cup in each hand.

Ed carefully made his way along the garden path, arm outstretched, skidding as he went. “Oh thank fuck, hand that over.”

Edward found he quite liked the nights.

When his shame and guilt dulled and he could not feel their thorny tendrils curl inside his chest; when the dull hum of the thing at his shoulder that felt a bit too heavy and not-quite-human fell quietly into the back of his mind; when he was too tired to allow the lurching shadows to take on wild shapes that shared an uncanny resemblance with horribly mutated things with limbs that ought not bend the way they did; he found his mind blank. It was the bliss of nothingness, the place in between where harsh reality could not dig in its claws and bind his hands to the ground, nor twisted dreams drag him screaming into the suffocating air.

There was always, of course, a pang of concern when he thought of his brother, which he always did. Alphonse never slept. There could be no moment of reprieve for a soul encased in steel. He could only ever watch the light and dark bleed together in a ceaseless purgatory while he sits in the dark, unfeeling, observing the enduring procession of rising suns and moons for a crime committed in naïvety by small and grieving children.

Edward watched Al watch the stars some nights, and wondered if the stars watched back in apathy. He wondered when he would once again see them reflected in his brother’s wholly human eyes. Perhaps then the guilt would recoil for good. Perhaps it would pull its pincers from his gut and drag his burdens away along with it.

Not for the first time, alone in the dark, Ed granted himself a moment to fervently wish for a future that did not deal cruel and senseless punishments, and a Fate that could for once be forgiving.

I.
Time slows. He watches the dying figure fall in the distance: a smudge of cerulean against a drab stone wall. He could have easily mistaken it for a dislodged piece of the stark blue sky if it weren’t for the slightest hint of black hair.

That god awful mullet, he thinks absently. He had silently hated it.

II.
He can’t remember what the other man had said. The memory is like smoke from a fire long since died; time has softened its edges. His only certainty is the smirk that followed. He knows it was a mask, a futile attempt to conceal wariness. Years in a prison cell would temper trust - not that the other man ever had any.
"I can make it happen."
The promise had not been empty; the other man knew it. He remembers the consideration in those cold, narrow eyes.

III.
The scarred man is not the only murderer in Lior, he thinks. But it’s a fact his troops don’t know. He wishes he could be as ignorant as them.

IV.
Red Lotus, Crimson - he used to wonder what inspired the names.
Perhaps it was the sanguine bolts of power that surged from those tattooed palms, for the other man had always indulged in raw, destructive abilities.
Or perhaps it was the blood that bloomed like roses from open gashes of the nameless Other, the result of a rogue alchemist’s sanctioned slaughter. In his mind’s eye he saw them: malformed flesh and gore entwined with tattered remains of fabric.
It was almost poetic, the way the crimson liquid fanned out out from the torn-open cavities underneath.
Morbid petals of a red lotus.

Pushing aside the long grass, the young boy scanned the ground before him, his eyes darting amongst the shivering green blades. His nose wrinkled against the gritty stench of earth.

A twitch to his left. The child’s eyes snapped to a tangled weed that had partially crumpled beneath his knee. He clawed at it, heedless of the soil catching beneath his fingernails, determined to claim the prize that had crawled underneath. He withdrew a balled fist; unfurling his fingers, Selim Bradley squealed with delight at the cricket that lay disoriented in his palm.

Mrs Bradley watched the child with mild amusement. She couldn’t help but take joy in his growth - after all, this was the first time she could truly experience the beginning of her adopted son’s life. She could not, however, dismiss the fact that it was a life he was living a second time through.

Fuhrer Grumman had skipped over much of the details of her son’s supposed rebirth - Mrs Bradley knew that much, and she was grateful for it. The recollections she had of little Selim were imbued with enough doubt already. Was the son she had raised nothing more than a shell? A vessel for something ancient and foul? That was the vague message the military officials seemed to convey, anyway.

In the passing years, Fuhrer Grumman had called by many times. The visits were cordial enough: tea was shared, political matters discussed - though their discussions seemed to involve the older man gravely describing conflicts in the military, with Mrs Bradley nodding sympathetically when a lull in the conversation deemed necessary.

These days, it seemed politics did not engage her.

Grumman would always find a way to ask about Selim, to the point where Mrs Bradley was becoming impressed with the creativity of his segues. Each time she dismissed his concerns: “There is no need to worry, Fuhrer. He is a gentle young boy, and he’s growing up healthily.” Sometimes Grumman would push further, though often he would just lean back in his seat and regard her thoughtfully. Mrs Bradley often wondered if he suspected that there were things she was keeping from him.

Certain things should be kept a secret, she thought. Grumman had no reason to know that her son had trouble sleeping. That he spent most nights curled up against his mother for comfort and protection. That little Selim often whimpered when faced with the silence - the silence that bore no distraction from the moaning, disjointed voices whose cries seemed to echo within his head, the haunting presence of many hundreds of things that clawed at him from the inside.

Grumman had no reason to know.

Red Sky at Night

The countless swift glances Kendra threw at the distant West were barely seconds apart, and yet she swore the sun had sunk farther each time she looked. She quickened her pace and tried yet again to suppress the unease that clenched at her gut.

Her donkey teetered on the edge of the path, weighted to one side from the bags roughly strewn across its saddle. Kendra had packed in a rush; she was desperate to return to Myra before nightfall, even if it meant dragging an imbalanced jack all the way. Not that it mattered now: it was starting to look like she wouldn’t make it.

The hilltop, the highest peak of the Valleys, was unsheltered from the bitter wind that whipped at the girl’s naked ankles, stinging with the icy breath of an approaching winter. Kendra shivered, and drew her hood down almost level with her eyes. Ominous swirls of grey hung like a shroud against the blazing autumnal glow of the evening sky.

'Red sky at night,' the children would chant, 'red sky at night is a shepherd's delight!' But Kendra knew better than to hope for fair weather. The Valleys were no longer as they should be.

The donkey brayed mournfully in response to Kendra’s fervent tugs on its bridle, and dug its hoofs into the dirt. “Come on, you great filthy sod,” she cried, exasperated, and sent a kick straight for its haunches. The creature whinnied in fright.

With a shaky sigh Kendra flicked a wisp of hair from in front of her grey-blue eyes and pushed on through the descending fog. The sun was barely visible anymore. As she ran her hand along the donkey’s coarse brown coat, Kendra felt a surge of guilt for being impatient with it. She could not blame an animal for the impending darkness.

The heavy, sinking mist was both chilling and blinding. Kendra screwed her eyes shut against its raw sting as she wandered forward, one arm cast before her, groping at the white wall that threatened to swallow her whole.