“Lissie you have got to go!”
“But what about you big sister!” The girl protested clutching her doll to her chest. Rissa gave her younger sister a uneasy half grin,
“I can’t, I’m the oldest royal child. I’m the one they really want.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to take my own life before they get a chance to even touch me!”
“It’s the only thing I still have control of, They have taken everything else”
“I’m sorry little sister it’s the only way.” Tears streamed down both girls cheeks.
“But big sissy I don’t want you to! You can’t!”
“Come here, Hawkeye.” Rissa said referring to her little sister by the nickname she had given her years earlier. Picking up a pair of scissors she chopped off her little sister’s long blond hair.
“Here” Rissa handed her the hair. “This would be damning evidence! Get rid of it first chance you have, and put these on!” She held out a pair of common boys clothes. “With your skill with a sling you could easily pass as a peasant boy!” Soon her sister stood in front of her looking every inch a mischievous young commoner, well almost. Rissa quickly rubbed dirt onto her little sisters face and hugged her.
“I’m so sorry Lissie now go! She steered Lissie toward the door. Lissie turned around dropping her doll to the floor
“but big sister!”
“Go! Get out of here!”
“No sir, no leads or progress.”
Ed mentally cursed his brother’s naivety and honesty and looked up. The grin on Mustang’s face now gave the distinct impression that he knew exactly what was going through Ed’s head. Edward scowled at him.
“How convenient” the colonel began. “I have a job for you two and it seems you’ll be able to take it.”
“What now?” Ed asked still scowling.
“Well it seems a group of miners have unearthed some sort of ruin a bit south east of here. Professor Vermilion from the national university in Central is head of excavations. Now untouched ruin’s almost always contain valuable artifacts…”
“If you want guards you can send some of your other dogs” Edward snapped. “We have better things to do then babysit!”
“I already have” Mustang responded. “That’s not why I’m sending you two”
“I’m sending you because some of their finds seem to be related to alchemy”…
Edward looked around at the excavation site surrounding them. Workers ran around frantically carrying artifacts and supplies.
“Dr……. Vermilion! Doctor Vermilion This pot has strange symbols on it!” One of the workers rushed up to A woman with glasses whose red hair was tucked up in a tight bun. “Do you think it could be alchemy?”
“Put it with the other ones for the alchemist to check out” the woman directed. “That is if this Mustang fellow ever gets around to sending one.” Abruptly the woman spun around to look at a light brown haired girl standing beside her. “Lucile have you seen Natasha lately?”
“No mam’” The brown haired girl answered. "I think she’s wandering around the ruins.”
“I don’t like it. Someone like her shouldn't be doing that alone!”
“She wont be happy if you say so mam’.” The the red haired woman sighed and straightened her glasses.
“I should never have taken her in the first place! I thought if I brought her with me it might discourage her insistence on following in my foot steps and becoming an archaeologist Instead it only seems to have made her even more determined! Hey you two!” She broke off abruptly, turning to face the brothers. “Sorry but if the red tape didn't give a clue this area is of limits to civilians”
“Great!” Ed answered sarcastically “If I come across any I’ll be sure to tell them! I’m Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist and this,” he gestured a gloved hand to the suit of armor standing behind him. “Is my little brother Alphonse.”
The woman looked him up and down again. “You’re Edward Elric? I always expected the Fullmetal Alchemist to be a bit fuller and…” she looked at Al… “more metal…”
Ed’s eyes narrowed “Meaning?”
"Well I just always thought you would be a bit well… ta…”
“Sooo were are these artifacts you wanted us to check out?” Alphonse hastily put in while shaking his head at her. He stopped abruptly as Ed turned around with his hands on his hips and eyed him suspiciously.
“Here you are boys!!!” Dr. Vermilion held open the door too what looked like a mix between a warehouse, an old antique shop, an alchemy lab, and the attic of a eccentric millionaire. “This is were we have been putting all the artifacts we think may be related to alchemy. All you boys have to do is sort out what’s really related to alchemy and what’s not, organize the alchemic artifacts, and then explain things to one of my assistants so she can record the findings I’m leaving a few of my interns with you to help out. There’s water in a pitcher in the corner, Good luck!” She ushered them the room were several young adults were waiting and quickly shut the door behind her.
Edward glared at the now closed doors as if they were the source of all that was wrong in the universe. His gold eyes blazed as he took in the mess surrounding him. “I HATE Mustang!!!”
“Mr Fullmetal! Mr Fullmetal! What does this circle mean?”
“That somebody needed art lessons, Next!”
Sure Ed might complain allot Alphonse, now standing in a corner, thought to himself, but he was actually pretty good at this. As soon as he had stopped calling their superior officer every rotten name he could possibly come up with, which took a while and left all the interns staring with their mouths hanging open, Ed had quickly gotten things organized, deciding first that they needed to weed out all the non alchemic artifacts by sorting them into two groups, and instructing the interns to bring the objects to him and Al for inspection. Al sighed. The only problem was the interns must have decided based on his appearance that he must be even worse then his older brother.”
“You must be Alphonse Elric, am I right?” a light female voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked down at the brown haired girl who sat in a wheel chair in front of him. “I’m Natasha Vermilion, The professor’s niece.” The girl continued eyes starring blankly into space.
“Oh, um, Hi.” Al greeted the blind girl awkwardly lost in his thoughts he hadn't ever heard her approaching!
“They say you wear a suit of armor all the time.. may I feel?”
“Um, okay.” Al took a step forward and bent down so she could reach his face from her chair.
The girl reached a hand up and felt the face of Al’s helmet “Odd, your face isn’t scary at all! I like it! Now the old helmets from Xing, that’s scary armor!” She chuckled and dropped her hand back to her lap.
Al would have grinned he was liking this girl already.
“Your empty inside.” The girl broached the subject quickly and without a trace of fear or hesitation. It wasn't a question it was a statement of fact.
“How?” Al began “how did you know?”
“I may not be able to see but because of my blindness my other senses have developed and become more sensitive in order to compensate, equivalent exchange as you alchemists would say. When you stepped forward just now your step sounded hollow, when I touched the breathing slits in your helmet there was no air coming out and besides if your face was there I should have been able to feel the warmth radiating from your skin, and your voice has more of a ring too it than it should if their was anything inside the helmet. Don’t worry though aside from the breathing none of those are things ordinary people would be able to tell, and I only noticed that one because I was suspicious from your step. Oh and your secrets safe with me I don’t rat on my friends”
friends… Al would have grinned at the word “Natasha?”
“Treating me like everybody else, Not acting different because of what I am, not making assumptions about me based on my appearance.”
“Oh THAT, I just know how it feels that’s all. We’re kinda in the same boat .”
“I guess so!”
“I Swear!” Edward walked up to them “If I have to tell another intern the difference between a beaker an his or her own foot I’m going to explode! Who are you?” he turned to looked at the girl beside Al abruptly.
“Oh Big brother this is Natasha Vermilion the professor's niece! She figured out about me but she wont tell”
“She better not!” Ed growled fists clenched. Natasha merely smiled up at him it was so nice to be treated as if she wasn't blind or in a wheel chair even if it meant being threatened.
“Because” Ed continued. “If I’m right Al’s exactly the type of thing the professor would love to get her hand’s on”
Natasha frowned. “I suppose so… but…” she brightened. “who’s gonna tell her!”
“I have a lot of work to do so I’m just dropping him off, but I still think you should have gotten a pre-trained monkey instead of insisting on training one yourself!”
“Bye auntie!” Natasha called. She made a clicking noise with her tongue and a small white and gold colored monkey scampered up onto her lap. “Bootji you have been so well behaved recently and so helpful, I thought we were making progress!”
The monkey responded with a chirping noise and handed her what looked like a small pearl hairclip. She accepted the artifact. “For me? Thank you!” The monkey chirped and jumped onto the chair’s handlebars. Ed peered at the small animal “What’s the deal with the monkey?”
“Oh,” Natasha turned her head toward them. “Bootji’s a helper monkey!”
“It’s an idea from the eastern island nations that Xing adapted, actually. See someone noticed that instead of leavening the old member’s of their community to die a certain species or monkey would take care of them. So they adapted that behavior and trained a few young monkeys to look after disabled children. The practice was adopted in Xing. I believe one of the princesses uses one actually. Auntie wanted to get me one of the already trained ones. But I thought it would be better if I trained my own. So I got Bootji.”
“Mr Fullmetal! Mr Fullmetal! What about this! Edward sighed rolled his eyes and turned around
“that’s a…” His gaze fell on a female intern several feet away who was bending over to wipe up a liquid she had obviously spilled. “Ach! That’s red water you Idiot! Don’t whipe that up! That’s it! All interns out now!” a few looked like they were of a mind to protest but when they saw Ed’s face they thought the better of it and hurried out the door. Al turned to his older brother.
“Save it!” Edward snapped “just go find us some interns with a bit of common sense.”
By the time Al found what he was looking for it was already late at night. He returned to the sorting room and looked around. Ed was laying in the corner his coat covering him like a blanket. Once again he was sleeping with his stomach out. Alphonse shook his head. So messy! Well, while everyone was asleep he might as well continue sorting. Al glanced at his older brother, shook his head again, and walked over to the pile of unsorted artifacts. He picked up a small purple jar.
“Hey, armor guy!” A girl’s voice called. Al looked around confused.
“Who? Who said that?”
“The jar genius!”
“Gees, not too sharp are you? You’re stuck in that suit of armor yet you find it odd for me to be stuck in this stupid jar?”
“Oh!” Al began “Are you a soul attachment too?”
“Um..” The jar answered. “yeah, well no, um kinda, I mean sorta, yeah-no-sure whatever.”
“Well there can’t always be convenient suits of armor around can there?”
“Who are you anyway?” The girl asked.
“Oh, I’m Alphonse Elric, Al for short”
“Yes, yes, that’s very helpful. Of course since I’ve been stuck in here for over a hundred years I’ll know instantly who you are by a name alone.”
“Oh, I’m an alchemist my big brother is Edward Elric a state alchemist”
“Right, the program was founded 50 years ago. Um, an alchemist who works for the military of Amestris under the direct command of our leader Furor President Bradley
“You’re a soldier?”
“My big brother is. I travel with him.”
“Why are you here then?”
“We’re here with an archaeological group investigating the ruins … hey! you could help couldn’t you! It wouldn’t be safe for you to talk to Professor Vermilion who is in charge of the dig, but would you be willing to talk to her niece Natasha?”
There was a short pause before the jar replied “Alright, and I’d be very interested in talking to your older brother too…
“Big brother!” a cold metal hand shook his shoulder Edward moaned and rolled over. “Big brother.” Alphonse shook him somewhat more insistently. Edward moaned again “big brother!” Edward groaned and sat up slowly scowling irritably “Wut’”
“big brother” Alphonse began all too cheerfully in Ed’s opinion "It’s 9:35 already and we’ve still got a lot of sorting to do. I got you breakfast from the food tent it’s right over there and after you eat Natasha and I have something to show you ok?"
“Right.” Ed got to his feet the prospect of food having somewhat brightened his mood. Walking over he reached for the tray and stopped. The scrambled eggs were fine and the toast was all well and good but Alphonse’ choice of beverage was not. Milk… Edward scowled at the white opaque liquid then walked deliberately over to the water pitcher and poured himself a cup of it .
Grabbing his food Edward walked over to where Natasha and Al were sitting.
So? What is it you want to show me?”
Alphonse handed him the jar. Taking it with a confused look Ed was about to ask what was going on when a voice entered his head
Edward froze “what?”
“in the jar.”
“I said the jar!”
“Gees do I have to lay it all out for you? They told me you were intelligent!”
For once Edward did not have a snappy comeback. “How?”
“Ah, now you’re talking some sense. I’m a soul attachment.”
Edward’s hand tightened his nerves were screaming.
“Isn’t it great big brother there’s someone just like me!”
Edward forced a smile to his lips, he couldn’t take this away from Alphonse.
“Yeah it’s great.”