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 Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]

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Shiori

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Posts : 7
Join date : 2012-01-21
Age : 23
Location : Kisaragi City

PostSubject: Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]   Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:16 pm

All in all, it really was just an ordinary day. Atsuki couldn’t remember the last time Nola had given him a day of rest. It was a 24/7, always in the job, with a few inadequate hours of sleep. After all, it’s not like the Silent took breaks. Those parasites would thrive in a restless environment as long as the negative Shinen were strong enough. So, being sent to this… Resembool… to check the Residual Shinen was really not a big deal. It still irked him that the only information Nola had given him was that a death had occurred… perhaps more damage done than just that. Apparently some other force had momentarily put a thin, glass barrier between life and death. The only thing that troubled Nola and he was that the force seemed to be completely natural—there were no supernatural qualities about it. Well, not really, anyways. That made no sense to him. Even Atsuki’s Sigma couldn’t prevent death from happening—even though his own history proved otherwise.

A tingly feeling inched up Atsuki’s spine as he neared the place the death. Such strong, negative Shinen seemed impossible due to the fact that the deceased woman was not a Target; she had never been infected. After all, it’d been six years since the death. Shinen to last that long…it was astounding. A place with this aura was one inexperienced by Atsuki, and he knew this place would be a literal breeding ground for Silent. Residual Shinen themselves were not contagious, unless held together in one specific area… if one was to touch that area, they may very well be infected. So, how many people had been here…how many people had been infected? The presence of others still lingered, which worried Atsuki. It was more than likely that Silents had clung to the negative Shinen of others.

By the Shinen, Atsuki could tell that the woman who had died had been very close to the others. Related, perhaps?
“Saijo.”

Atsuki turned around, frowning. Liu Yee was standing there, in his infamous arms-crossed stance. One thing Atsuki hated about Liu was his tendency to show up yet fail to tell him (or Nola, for that matter) when he showed up. And that made him wonder how long Liu had been there.

“Liu,” Atsuki added in a not-so-playful banter. Liu… such a different specimen. There were times that Atsuki would’ve sworn that Liu himself was a Silent in human form. The Original itself, maybe? But when he thought about it, he knew it was impossible. Since Liu had Lancelot, his Lux-Pain earring, it was impossible for him to even get touched by Silent. But that didn’t stop Atsuki from believing Liu had naturally negative Shinen.

Liu sneered, “Nola really screwed up this time,” he looked around, his dark brown eyes scanning the area. Yeah…Nola messed up. This place was so desolate… It reminded him of Kisaragi City. It was easy to find the Original in Kisaragi City, since he’d been born and raised in Kisaragi, and knew every nook and cranny of that place. This… well, this place was larger than Kisaragi, but it still wasn’t the largest place he’d ever been to. It worried Liu that the Original may have been able to escape Armestris and infect others in other places. Wouldn’t Nola know how to find that guy? They only had a name: Edward. That’s all they had… That’s all that Nola got! She failed at being a Lynx in the Fort. One of the worst technicians, Liu was sure. “There’s got to be a Silent infectee out there who’s infected countless others.”

“How could she knew? The woman was not a Target to the Fort. She wasn’t infected. Nola had every right to be negligent of it.” Atsuki sighed and stepped back. The resonating Shinen were quite disturbing. So much anger, regret, loss, sadness, and the need of revenge. The mismatched sentences were already trying to flow into Atsuki, even though he’d not used his Sigma yet. Something was incredibly wrong here, he just had to find out what. “The Shinen here are amazing. All this—”

“Amazing!? Repulsive!” Liu snapped. “How could the Fort miss all this?”

“Such despair, grief, hatred… the need for retribution. There’s others here, too. Less prominent, but here, nonetheless. I wonder how many Silent are here. Male. Age uncertain… We should contact Nola. She’ll be happy with this information.”

Liu snapped his arm out in front of Atsuki’s chest, keeping the grey-haired male from taking another step forward. Liu wasn’t about to let Atsuki leave like this. He’d redeem himself to Nola and the Fort if it was the last thing he did. Atsuki’d taken too many missions from him already, and Liu was determined to find and eradicate this Silent in a minimal amount of time. Whoever was infected, Liu wasn’t going to let get away. No matter what Atsuki wanted to do. His way of dealing with Silent was too humane. The Silent could come back and re-infect the original infectee if their mind wasn’t eaten. After all, emotions could come back. Though once the Silent was destroyed, those emotions and memories wouldn’t come back, but new ones could be formed. Didn’t Atsuki know that?

“You haven’t even used Sigma!” Liu protested, removing his hand from the teen’s chest. “How do you know she’ll find any of this useful?”

Atsuki let out an exasperated sigh. “If you are so upset about it, try it yourself,” Atsuki knew this comment would annoy Liu; he couldn’t use his own Sigma unless he had a Target or infectee right in front of him. His way of garnering information was brutal and merciless. He wasn’t fit to be on the Falco. “We have enough information on the Shinen and all we could gather on the Target. Nola will easily be able to track down this person. After all, she, Natsuki and I managed to get Tadashi—no thanks to you.”

Liu looked like he was going to explode (something Atsuki personally wouldn’t have minded). He knew he was treading on thin ice. Liu wasn’t one to hold back his emotions. The pessimistic, overly insensitive 19-year-old was quite the character. His belief in experience over opinion would, someday, get him into trouble nobody would be able to get him out of. His sharp tongue would earn him deadly enemies. His stubborn and irrational thinking would lead him into making bad choices. Liu’s next outburst, all that considered, was no big surprise to Atsuki: “That’s because you always show up! You’ve stolen all my jobs! You’ve allowed Silents to simply be destroyed and their minds never exterminated. Mr. Yamato could be infected again. It’ll be—”

Atsuki drowned him out and turned on his heel, leaving the angry protests of Liu.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Atsuki was pleased. Liu was not. Nola had happily accepted the information. It’d been enough for the Fort’s technology to find their Target. But the information wasn’t as clear as it usually was. Nola hadn’t stopped complaining about it since, but Atsuki was, luckily, patient. Liu…? Not so much. Now Atsuki was sitting down on a rock, staring into what seemed to be endless fields of corn and blank areas, besides a small gathering of houses off to the east. Nola was supposed to call them back soon, and Liu was pacing restlessly by the time the phone call actually came.

“Edward Elric,” Nola commented in her silky yet dominating tone. Faintly, Atsuki could hear Natsuki squealing in her girly voice about the huge Shinen she’d found near their area. “That’s his name. The computers refuse to show me anything else about him. From what I can tell, if he has criminal records, they’re undisclosed. He had a family at one point in time, about six years ago, as we’ve already found out. The location of his father is unknown to us and anybody else that he’s related to is either dead or unable to hold Shinen, which I think is odd…” Nola trailed off, and only Natsuki’s loud comments of accomplishment and the clicking of keys on a keyboard could be heard.

“Nola?” Atsuki asked. Liu eyed him. Atsuki shot Liu a dirty look, and was about to make a comment on Liu’s useless restlessness when Nola began to speak again.

“We don’t have enough information to confirm his location. We know there’s a connection to the military and he has a prosthetic arm, or something of the like. He should be easily picked out, if I could hazard a guess. Go into the inhabited area not too far from you. Ask around. But don’t be too robust. You’ll look like flies in a glass of milk. You’re not normal there, remember. Be careful.”

Atsuki nodded and hung up. “Lets’ go; we’re going to ask around for this ‘Edward Elric’ boy.”

Liu nodded and started off for the town. Atsuki followed close behind, but as soon as they were in the line of site of the people, Atsuki got a bad feeling. They would look like flies in milk; and the only question now was if the people there would accept outsiders, ignore them, or drive them out. But now they could only hope for the best.
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PostSubject: Re: Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]   Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:18 pm


And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts...


"Grandmother when will the rain cease? Do you think Edward and Alphonse are alright by themselves? Shouldn't we check on them? Why hasn't Hohenhiem appeared? I remember how desperate Edward seemed while writing all those letters to his father...to bad he never showed up for his wife's funeral." Pressing palms firmly against the plated glass window, the ten-year old girl muttered her string of sentences innocently, never knowing how much conviction each individual word carried by itself. "Patience dear Resembool hasn’t seen much rain in over three years….we should be happy that mother nature is providing us with free water. Appreciate every detail that life has to offer….Winry. Without rain there would be no water, and without water our town would suffer countless calamities." Pinako explained, wiping wet hands on the spare dish clothing hanging beneath the mahogany cabinet. Should the old woman reassure her granddaughter with petty lies? Would Winry believe her excuses or could a little girl look straight through a faux disguise? Weaving fingers into the coarse mantle, she thought of several possible justifications for Hohenhiem’s sudden disappearance - however the grey-haired woman couldn't bring herself to say the truth. Why? Could the truth drive Edward and Alphonse Elric into profound depression? "Don't worry about them so much Winry, the boys aren’t as useless as you make them out to be. Trisha did a good job educating her children in the principals of self survival. After the rain lessens….I’ll invite them over for dinner just to see how they’re doing." She reassured between gritted teeth, after all how would a child react to the news of being abandoned? Particularly by an ambitious father who preferred alchemy over his immediate family?

The younger Elric’s suffered immensely in their paternal sire’s absence, but Pinako surmised Trisha’s sudden death as being the biggest blow the siblings had ever experienced. "I haven’t been able to get this nagging feeling off my chest.” Chewing inner lip anxiously, the older woman returned her attention to the simmering pot on the stove - while drowning silent worries beneath a covering of pleasant memories when the entire Rockbell and Elric family shared evening meals together. What she wouldn’t give to have everyone gathered around the same table, instead of fragmented into isolated patches barely accessible unless one was willing to take shortcuts across cornfields to reach their intended destination.“Three days worth of rain? Den and I are bored to death already!” Winry groaned, leaving behind imprints on the glass as she settled down to caress the medium-sized dog curled below the dining room table. “Could be worse.” Pinako commented candidly, stirring the vegetables and beef with a spoon before turning the oven off abruptly. Tracing circular furrows into Den’s sleek coat with petite fingers relaxed the tension out of Winry’s rigid shoulders, but the mounting burden placed on her heart from attending Trisha Elric’s private funeral conjured up bad memories that had yet to heal. The flaxen-haired preteen recalled January 5th as a moderate dreary day - overcast since morning with thick rain clouds promising beneficial rain for this years corn harvest. Farmers all over the countryside gathered to celebrate Resembool’s plentiful yield in biannual festivals where local residents exhibited cooperative traits rarely seen in larger cities to the East, however places of unnatural beauty tended to hide a more sinister origin.

“Why do good memories fade away, while the bad ones remain?” She questioned suddenly, catching her grandmother completely off guard. “Good memories and bad memories have existed since the dawn of time. We simply choose to focus on the negative aspect of our lives instead of the positive.” Pinako inferred, offering her own insight, and years of wisdom to answer Winry’s question thoroughly. “Grandma….could negativity be the result of today’s anxiety then? I find myself drifting back to January 5th…remember the day soldiers from Central told us that mama and papa perished in Ishval? Ed’s father…also vanished that day.“ Her granddaughter’s ability to connect certain events in chronological order wasn’t out of talent or a need to impress the local children, more so it was Winry’s passionate desire to keep her parent’s memory alive. “I have no desire to remember January ever again.”… Endless silence settled between the two females as they analyzed feelings from different perspectives - still the only sound present through out the house came from Den’s tail thumping a staccato rhythm against the hardwood floor. Averting grey-blue eyes downwards, the elderly woman realized her silence wasn’t helping matters, yet at the same time she couldn’t find enough strength to comfort Winry. Would a lie suffice? Or was it better to be brutally honest? “Your parents died as heroes.” Heroes, the title given to the hard working doctors for their involvement in Ishval’s bloody civil war - too bad the officials failed to recognize their folly in sending Lee and Sara Rockbell to the frontlines; where death was assured.

Perhaps, that’s why Pinako hated the military along with the alchemists who had expressed interest in Van Hohenhiem’s sons. Was Eastern Central capable of sending mere children into war? Apparently, the answer would amount to a definite yes. Tightening her hold around the ladle’s slim handle, Pinako’s eyes instinctively scoured Resembool’s dark skies for a ray of sun shine, granted the gentle pitter patter of rain against their window would soon work its magic on the trio staying in doors. The harmony shattered unexpectedly as Den’s floppy ears perked upward indicating a possible guest visiting the Rockbell home, of course who would visit houses in the middle of a rainstorm? Opening ebon-colored muzzle, the collie announced his discovery with a series of short none aggressive barks reserved mainly for recognizable guests. “Who could it be? I doubt anyone in their mind does visiting in the middle of serious storm!” Grumbling the words beneath her breath, Pinako waltzed out of the kitchen and straight to the front door - not expecting to confront her most vivid nightmare head on. “Edward! Alphonse! What happened!?” Tossing grievances aside, the old woman quickly assessed the situation at hand. Critical eyes picked up Alphonse’s larger figure knelt before the front entrance, in his armored grasp lay an unconscious Edward Elric with his mangled body drenched in crimson. “Please! Please help brother!” Desperation clouded Alphonse’s voice, as the armored behemoth revealed the extent of Edward’s injuries. An entire arm missing, along with half of the blonde’s left leg severed at the knee. “How did all this occur!?“ Winry screamed, wedging part of her body into the doorway to get a better look at the Elric brothers. “Did….you attempt it? Did you attempt human transmutation!?” Pinako interrogated angrily, locking her unwavering gaze on the blood-splattered suit of armor. “Gomenasai! W…We only wanted our mother back. We didn’t know this could happen!"


-----

Why would Alphonse and Edward Elric risk their lives attempting to perform human transmutation? Didn’t their alchemy professor warn them about the possible consequences of ignoring Equivalent Exchange? Potential questions materialized in Pinako’s subconscious mind, however the elderly woman decided her best course of action would be to wait until bedtime for a deeper analysis into the siblings reckless behavior. A licensed doctor wasn’t needed to examine the extensive physical, mental and emotional damage both boys had inflicted upon themselves - one good look at their bodies sufficed enough to convey their harrowing tale of survival. Fortunate individuals walked away unscathed, but the more misfortune beings fell prey to swindlers promising an easier life style, in exchange innocence became a fleeting sentiment replaced by responsibility. Could Edward’s weak mental state have attributed to him joining the military? Leaning diminutive body against the door frame, Pinako observed Resembool’s rolling hills wistfully - six years ago three happy-go-lucky children played hide and seek together. Their melodic laughter often floated into the house, interrupting the adult’s business like talk with promises of tomorrow being a more pleasant day. Winry, Alphonse and Edward remained blissfully ignorant of what lay beyond the horizon, although a world tinged bloody red awaited those seeking an adult life littered in petty lies. “War has taken away the people I love the most. My son, his wife….will Edward and Alphonse be next?“ She uttered softly, raising grey-blue eyes skywards.

Too many lives lost for the sake of land expansion. Too many alchemists claiming to be for the people, yet in the end turning their backs on the people who needed them most. Amestris was indeed falling apart both structurally and internally, the country had seen at least three major wars since King Bradley took office more then ten years ago. ‘What can we do if war knocks at our doorstep? Are we even strong enough to stand a chance against the state alchemists?’ Resembool clearly lacked personnel to combat invading forces, not to mention the railway functioned as a main artery connecting all cities together via a complicated network of tracks - if enemies happened to bombard the train station the implications could very well climb into a full scale disaster. ‘Edward, Alphonse…when are you coming home again? Have you forgotten us? Has the military replaced us in your hearts?’ Absurd. The Elric brothers couldn’t possibly prefer the militia over their immediate family members right? “Three years is much too long to wait for a damn phone call!” The elderly woman sneered, shifting eyes to the ancient-looking phone situated on top of Winry’s work space. Wishing and waiting were two viable options Pinako could follow, of course her granddaughter’s patience wore thin with each passing day. Lack of letters, lack of communication, lack of physical contact made believing in joyous family reunions improbable at best. ‘Stop it! Stop labeling the Elric’s as perfidious traitors! They would never betray you or Winry! Never!‘ Perhaps, someday Edward and Alphonse would appear over the hill - their bodies miraculously restored without need of senseless sacrifices. Idiotic wishes coming from a lonely old woman afraid of dying, before she even got the chance of reuniting with two pairs of piercing golden eyes was indeed an absurd notion to think about.

“Grandmother do you know where Den ran off to? I checked outside to make sure he wasn’t playing hide and seek in the barn shed, a thorough search upstairs also proved fruitless.“ Cerulean orbs flitted across the entire room, searching every available space for signs of the missing black and white border collie, however the flaxen-haired adolescent rejected Den’s disappearance as being the work of potential kidnappers. ‘Did he escape through the window? No, I remember closing all the windows including the one downstairs last night, unless grandmother left the front door open this morning. I seriously doubt anyone would go through the trouble of kidnapping an ex-military dog.‘ Sagging willowy shoulders in defeat, Winry wondered if she should terminate her futile search for Den, and instead focus all attention on completing dozens of neglected automail orders. ‘My customers have always been faithful to me….thanks to them Pinako and I have a steady source of income.‘ The Rockbell family enjoyed a relatively comfortable life surrounded only by the most basic necessities, yet life before Edward Elric’s entitlement as a state alchemist had not been easy. Lee’s primary concern was to provide his immediate family with nutritional sustenance- in a time when tensions between the eastern border and Amestris caused food supplies to dwindle dangerously low. ‘Mother, father I miss you two so much! Why did you leave me alone?' She didn’t need further thinking as to why her parents departed to the frontlines, whether deployment was against their will or not - the grim reality of an early death remained ever present. “Finding, Den should be first priority. He was my parent's prized dog, and the only living member to return home unharmed.” Trailing off mid-sentence the blonde-haired adolescent realized her grandmother wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to her heartfelt speech, considering Pinako’s taut facial expression it would seem the elderly woman currently resided in her own world.

What, the older female thought about eluded Winry’s comprehension, but she wouldn’t be surprised if Edward and Alphonse occupied the majority of her grandmother’s daydreams. ‘Someone is calling me?’ Who could it be? Was her imagination becoming overactive again? ‘Imagination isn’t overactive I’ve been zoning out the entire time.’ Although half of Pinako’s mind loathed to leave pleasant memories behind, the older women knew fantasy existed solely for the purpose of avoiding veracity. “W-Winry? How long have you been here? F-Forgive me for not listening…I was daydreaming again wasn’t I?” Tapping frail digits over her own forearm, the peppered-haired female smiled apologetically “Don’t bother explaining yourself…I wasn’t entirely out of the loop.” Stepping slowly off the door frame, steel-blue eyes arced over the living room one more time in hope of spotting clues as to the whereabouts of Winry’s beloved collie. ‘Odd Den usually spends his entire day curled underneath the table’ A transient glimpse below the table exposed hardwood floors devoid of pet dander, and other inert items frequently victimized by Den’s herding instinct. “Thank you for helping me search, but I’ve decided to let mother nature run her course. If Den is alive out there he will return to us eventually, if not he’ll become part of Resembool’s serene landscape.” Her mature outlook may garner approval from ignorant spectators who knew little of sentimental value, however the priceless lesson of respecting all life forms would be forever engraved into Winry and Pinako Rockbell.

‘My dear child why are you thanking me? I have done nothing praiseworthy nor have I contributed to your desperate search. Ironically, I should be the one expressing gratitude.. after all without your optimism I might have fallen into unfathomable depression.’ Her granddaughter’s mature outlook on life was astounding indeed, yet the elderly woman nursed hidden fears for her grandchild’s uncertain future. With Trisha and Van Hohenhiem permanently out of the picture, there was little hope of securing a suitable home for Winry, should the shadow of death ever arrive unannounced. ‘Central can’t solve all my personal problems nor can the officials guarantee Winry’s safety. Look at Edward and Alphonse I have yet to receive a progress letter from Colonel Mustang himself.’ Would the military deprive the Elric brothers of their visitation rights? The so-called ‘government’ advocated peace between individual nations, but why declare all out war on the neighboring frontier? Why condemn naïve soldiers, and state alchemists to die an unnecessary death? Insatiable greed, not to mention the incessant thirst for domination propelled King Bradley to forfeit dozens of lives just to expand his vast empire beyond Armestrian boundaries. Sending Winry straight too Central ensured a quick demise for the innocent adolescent, her young mind would most likely be corrupted by the harsh militaristic environment. Pinako grimaced somewhat for the explicit notion applied not only to Winry, but also the downtrodden Elric brothers who were now treading down the road to self-destruction.

“Don’t you dare talk like that! Den might be lost, but he certainly isn’t dead!” The older woman snapped suddenly “He will return home! He will return to us safe and sound! You’ll see him standing in the front yard, I guarantee it!” How could she be certain of Den returning home? What guarantee of survival did the canine have if he happened to wander into the local train station? ‘The only explanation I can give Winry is one of sheer denial…I don’t want her fragile heart breaking.’ Deductive reasoning placed the ex-military dog in a hazardous position, where his chance of survival gradually reduced itself due to the unforgiving landscape. ‘Are you trying to reassure me? Grandma, believe me I appreciate all of your efforts to comfort me, however the wavering tone in your voice defeats that purpose completely.’ Couldn’t her grandmother give the subject a rest? Was the elderly female blind as to how affected Winry felt internally?““Return home…? When do you suppose Den will come home? Today? Tomorrow? Maybe never..?! Den is gone…just like mom and dad! Everyone is going away!” Silken blond tresses hid the adolescent’s watery gaze from sight, as the resonating outburst forced both females to reconcile their awkward moments together. The grey-haired woman frowned momentarily, her leathery face expressed both surprise and concern over Winry’s hasty outburst, usually the only person to ever flare up was Edward Elric ,but he hadn’t shown his face in nearly three years. ‘An outburst? I never expected Winry to react negatively…then again she has every right to project her emotions without fear of reprisal.’ Scolding the adolescent for insolent behavior might be a top priority for some native residents, nevertheless Pinako refrained herself from using corporal punishment as a means to control her grandchild’s unpredictable manner. Paradoxically, the strict woman who once cherished traditional values now found the subject overwhelming.
--

“Black and white border collie in my front yard? Where did he come from? Is he a stray or could he belong to one of our neighbors? I should see if the dog has any identification tags on him…maybe his original owners are close by?“ Laying the broom precariously against the patio’s flaked surface, Darla’s chocolate-colored eyes scanned the agitated border collie almost warily not because the animal displayed visible signs of aggression, but his prancing demeanor pointed out possible reasons as to his unsettled state of mind. “He really is agitated I wonder if he’s trying to tell me something.” Straightening herself to full height, the older female hesitated momentarily on choosing the best course of action when dealing with a foreign situation. The few individuals possessing wisdom knew an upfront approach wouldn’t be the wisest decision to make, tackling problems head on frequently led to ruinous consequences. Darla’s primary instincts hollered for a quick escape into the house, however the slight hesitation gave Den enough leeway to torpedo his lithe frame over the railing and into the enclosed area. Landing flippantly on his paws, the overexcited canine paraded his way forward - unaware his bold motions could trigger an involuntary response from the rigid woman in front of him. ‘What are you doing!? I’m warning you…stay back! I have a broom hidden here somewhere that I can use to defend myself! Hold on a minute…did I see the name Den written on the tag?!’

Den? Where had she seen or heard the name Den mentioned before? ‘Seven years ago…Lee Rockbell introduced me too the newest family addition - a small puppy with the same conformation as the canine standing before me.’ Allowing tense shoulders a moment to slacken, Darla felt the fear melt slowly away. Recognition substituted primordial sentiments as the brunette’s lips curved into a wistful smile. “How could I have forgotten about you!? I remember how excited Lee looked the day he presented us too you…Den. Forgive me. Please forgive me….I need to trust my inner instincts next time.” Kneeling down with one knee pressed to the patio floor gave Darla maximum traction, seeing as the collie was on route to cover her face in loving doggy kisses. Pink tongue protruding out of his muzzle the black and white dog drew back - inspecting the woman’s content face quizzically. If he ever had the privilege of human endowed emotion, the border collie’s opinionated nature would have made itself publicly know - at least the brown-haired female understood the urgent message behind his odd behavior. “You’re definitely not taking a stroll down park avenue are you? Another reason brought you here….eh? The unusual sight of foreigners in Resembool is indeed disheartening. We don’t need another civil war on our hands. Does Pinako even know of the danger those outsiders represent to our peaceful town?” Pressing mouth into a grim line, Darla rose to her feet as a determined light illuminated her pallid features “Come on Den! We don’t have time to dawdle, lets warn the Rockbells!” Hitching tattered skirt upwards, the middle-aged woman sprinted down the wooden steps with Den following at her heels. Miniature dust clouds formed alongside the duo - dirt that hadn’t been packed into the main road stained the canine’s ivory patches a dingy brownish-red akin to the familiar scenery Resembool had weathered ten years ago.

How did Pinako Rockbell find the inner strength to endure countless tragedies? Were her nerves made up of steel? Advanced age coupled alongside incalculable near-death experiences had taken a grand toll on the elderly woman, the youthful idealism characteristic of her former days remain buried beneath real life burdens brought on by the recent events in Resembool. ’Still an idealist….Pinako? Hasn’t life shown you that perfection will never exist? Equality, superiority, and peace are nonsense used by the military to ensnare their victims. Yet, behind the cynical outlook on life I’m just a foolish old woman…unqualified to even spew out words of optimism.’ Useless. A waste of perfectly good oxygen. Washed up elderly woman whose natural beauty continues to fade every year. “What else can I say? What else do you want me to say? You aren’t the only person missing Den’s presence….even I want to cling onto the last memories binding Lee and Sara Rockbell to this mortal world.” The ashen-haired female responded softly, grey-blue eyes capturing brief glimpses of her only son peering down at his aging mother, and orphan daughter through the Plexiglas. “Your father was a handsome young man wasn’t he? I had trouble keeping him hidden from sight, but Lee always had one goal in mind. He wanted to become a certified doctor….I know somewhere in the deepest corner of his heart….my son died doing what he loved. Lee made the ultimate sacrifice…exchanging his own life, so other unfortunate individuals may have a second chance to live.” Drawing wrinkle lips together, Pinako rotated her slender body around as the hasty sound of boots crunching against gravel permeated through the flimsy partition.

“G-Grandmother…are soldiers coming again?” Winry hissed, wide cerulean orbs expressing both alarm and resentment for the possibility of Central’s militia coming to disturb their hard won peace. ‘When?! When will the bloody war end!?’ Biting lower lip anxiously, the blonde-haired teen kept her eyes trained on Pinako’s cautious movements towards the front door. Grasping copper knob in left hand, the pepper-haired female parted drab curtains aside - revealing a panic-stricken woman ,and besmirched canine scrambling their way across the gravel driveway towards her front porch. “Luckily, the lords of good fortune smile down on us. Resembool dodged the military bullet this time…our visitors are none other then our next door neighbor Darla! Hold on a second…..did I see a Border Collie trailing behind her? Winry, I have excellent news to share - Den has appeared!” Nothing filled in the empty void like seeing her distressed granddaughter smile for the first time in three years, however their brief moment of joy was short lived. More problematic issues awaited them on the outside, most likely village gossip acquired from the savvy know-it-all neighbors. ’Hold your horses! I’m coming!’ Were the citizens of Resembool inept at having patience? “Why is everyone hell-bent on bringing my poor house down!?” The elderly woman sulked half-heartedly, expecting to see Darla Hutchinson turn herself into a real life drama queen. Of course, life always dealt unforeseen surprises; mainly when one was least anticipating it. Upon opening the front door, Pinako and Winry found themselves overwhelmed in Den’s urgent barks, which made deciphering Darla’s ramblings nearly impossible. “You didn’t hear me the first time? Resembool has visitors….not your average run-of-the mill guests looking for bales of corn. These youngsters are foreigners…I wonder if their intentions could be misplaced.” The brunette warned, relaying her previous message as tension settled on Pinako’s shoulders.

‘Outsiders in Resembool? What can our humble town possibly offer them? Corn fields aren’t ready for harvesting yet! Indeed, I find Darla’s memo disconcerting…can’t we live normally without fearing an invasion?’ The rural town provided Amestris with plenty of cotton, and precious corn yields for exportation outside city limits - however, recent events made conducting business a risky gamble where life was sometimes put at stake. “Ridiculous! Simply ridiculous! Why do we cower in fear? Why are we disunited as a nation?! Foreigners have every right to visit Resembool, but they have absolutely no right to intimidate it’s residents with petty threats! I’m tired of inaction…tired of seeing loved one torn away! I’m going to meet our guests face to face…even if it kills me!” Pinako declared boldly, “Winry will you please honor my request without question? I want both of you to stay put…don’t follow me…don’t even think about aiding me should the unthinkable happen. Darla…take care of my granddaughter…also use my telephone to warn all the neighbors.” Would warning an entire neighborhood of impending danger even work? How would the farmers take to the news of foreigners appearing without warning? ‘Cowardice breeds cowardice…I suppose.’ Untying kitchen apron from around her waist, the pepper-haired female made her way past Darla, “Perhaps, I’m a foolish old woman for standing up to the bigger dogs. Perhaps, I could be killed instantly for pointing out injustice in our system…..do I care?! Absolutely not. Edward maybe an impulsive brat on the outside, but I admire his bravo!” Having an intrepid personality held advantages, of course most individuals preferred submission as opposed to being persecuted for having a strong voice against the government in Central.

How many Ishvalans paid for their life? How many Ishvalans were massacred due to cultural differences? Pathetic. Ethical unity would forever elude Amestris, if it’s people continued looking the other way. “Don’t be reckless! One person can’t change the views of the government!” The middle-aged brunette exclaimed, hoping words might dissuade the older Rockbell from accomplishing her task. Darting grey-blue hues towards both females, Pinako shook her head as if to say ’Nothing is getting in my way, not even the wise words of one my age.’ She had grown quite weary of living daily life in constant fear of repercussion should King Bradley’s ambitious plans fail - such a life garnered misery, and to Pinako being jaded was the same as being permanently dead. Either notion caused a visible grimace of disgust to form on the elderly woman’s worn face, before Den’s hoarse barks summoned her back to the present. ’Was I stalling again?’ Contemplating the question in her mind, Pinako took several tentative steps forward - effectively transitioning over the threshold into more uncertain territory. Resembool’s immaculate hills painted a deceptively beautiful picture of tranquility, yet beneath the beauty masqueraded a terrible history unbeknownst to outsiders. “Den can you obtain a fresh trail? What direction should I take?” Letting hands drop limply by her side, the ashen-haired female scrutinized Den’s body language very closely - ascertaining a direct route when the Border Collie yowled twice to alert his mistress of incoming guests. “Good boy! Let me handle the situation from here now.” Nodding head in acknowledgement, Pinako Rockbell waltzed onto the main road: effectively placing herself in plain view of Atsuki and Liu Yee. ’Youngsters? When Darla mentioned youngsters…I was expecting adults in their early twenties. These two boys have barely reached adulthood…and their age reminds me heavily of Edward Elric.’ Sucking in a soft breath, Pinako cautiously approached the duo with her courteous, but taciturn manner. “You two are not native to Amestris…are you? How may I be of service?” The elderly woman inquired, keeping steel-blue eyes trained on both adolescents.




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PostSubject: Re: Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]   Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:38 pm

Nola had just hung up the phone and had seated herself in front of the large desk that housed three large computers, side-by-side set at diagonals. One held up a large picture of a blonde-haired adolescent, name and Armestrian ties just underneath the photo. The next computer showed general information pm the teenager in the photo, though many of the slots were answered by large red words saying ‘unknown’ (date of birth, living relatives, job and job description). That vexed Nola Nola very, very much. The tall blonde was used to finding all the information on a Target without problems. Even Ray, who was the quietest person Nola knew (even quieter than the Falco member Atsuki Saijo) had expressed a large amount of annoyance. The third and largest computer was reeling with a multitude of bright red words. None of the information Nola was receiving would in any way help the search for their newest Target.

“Edward Elric,” the woman murmured quietly to herself, “Where is all his data?”

- - - - -

Silver hair over dark eyes. Atsuki walked ehind his partner, each of his steps becoming more tentative than the last. Though the scenery was beautiful, the closer Atsuki got to the village, the more ripples the adolescent sensed in the scenery’s Residual Shinen. Without even activating Sigma, Atsuki detected traces of ranging emotions attach to the land. And even though Atsuki’s timidity was not out of the ordinary, he was feeling and acting edgy.

His black-haired companion turned and stared at him with merciless brown eyes. Liu Yee was in a foul mood. Nola had yapped incessantly at him for almost ten minutes on how she’d kick his butt if he didn’t keep his attitude in check. Of course, Liu had replied in kind, with a snarky and unnecessary comment. Turning cool eyes back to the road ahead, Liu murmured angrily to himself. It was so like Nola to send the peace-maker Saijo along to see if their Target was still able to be saved. All Liu was was the “unsung hero”—and even then no Fort members thought he was a hero at all. Liu thought his job was definitely more important than Saijo’s. Liu completely destroyed an infectee beyond repair. Simply destroying a Silent doesn’t mean that the infectee no longer has risk of re-infection! Clenching fists in agitation, Liu shook his head. Here he was, standing tall and walking confident, behind him, Saijo hiding his face in the folds of his long leather coat and looking around as if someone was going to attack them at any moment.

Shaking his head, Liu pressed two fingers to his temple and commented, voice dripping with sarcasm, “Atsuki Saijo: Fort’s fearless Falco member!” Liu glanced over his shoulder at his partner, only to see that Atsuki didn’t even seem to be listening. Grinding his teeth together, Liu turned forward and cursed under his breath. Liu had known Saijo for years, though Chief Ray had only placed them as partners two years prior. Ever since Liu had known him, Atsuki Saijo had been completely unresponsive. All he ever did nowadays was eat, sleep, and work. Liu had never known a time where Atsuki questioned orders, no matter where he was sent or what he was to do. Liu was constantly tempted to point it out, but he knew that the only response he’d get would be a stoic, smart-ass one. Liu knew that a response like that was a response he didn’t want to hear. Ever.

Atsuki finally turned forward, keeping his eyes in front of him instead of all over the place. He could tell that Liu Yee was still in a bad mood, and if he didn’t snap out of his self-pitying state, anyone whom Liu deemed “unfit”—for any reason—was going to see the full extent of the raven-haired male’s untamable ego and unfathomably bad attitude. Atsuki barely managed to keep a sickened look off of his face. All he wanted to do was eradicate Silent and get out of this place in, hopefully, under a week. People in Kisaragi needed him, and he dreaded what the small city would be like if he returned to find that Silent had spread. Kisaragi City already had an unusually high infection rate—to the point where Liu had had to step in multiple times. There were even kids in Kisaragi High that risked infection.

Atsuki stopped a few paces behind Liu when he heard the voice of a woman in her older years. Despite hearing her words, Atsuki processed little to nothing of what she was saying. Lifeless black eyes stared down at her, evaluating her without a trace of any emotion—good or bad. Liu, on the other hand, had brown eyes full of contempt and disapproval trained on her.

“No,” Liu commented coolly, Atsuki still trying to pull himself away from his thoughts, “We’re not from here. Nor did I realize we gave off the air that we were from such a pitiful place…my sincerest apologies, ma’am.” Liu smirked before turning his gaze down the road from where she’d come, infinitely curious as to what other people were here; like the Target.

Suddenly seeming to get what the older woman had said through his brain, Saijo spoke up in his usual expressionless way, “We’re here on business, looking for Edward Elric. There are a few confidential matters which concern him and his welfare.” Atsuki stood there a moment, as if he’d startled himself with the sound of the voice he never really used. Liu Yee grimaced and pondered formalities a moment, shortly after deciding that the old woman had no great need to know who they were—she (now) already know why they were here…so what else did she need?

- - - - -


Nola smiled, obviously pleased with herself. The computer screen with Edward Elric’s information was slowly—very slowly—coming together. His job and job description had finally been found (even though Nola had to do a tad bit of hacking to get the full extent of the job description). Nola was now hacking a few PCs to get extra files on the young alchemist. Unfortunately, she found no information that she thought was extremely interesting. However, Chief Ray seemed to be silently intrigued in the information Nola had scavenged so far.

Though the word “alchemy” held no meaning to Nola, Ray read and reread any tidbit—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—of data that had even the slightest hint toward the existence of alchemy. With a twinge of timid curiosity, Nola noticed a subdued flame of hatred in Ray’s eyes that Nola had never seen before.

Shrugging it off, Nola continued searching.

- - - - -

Atsuki frowned as he withdrew himself from the conversation, hiding himself behind Liu. He had earlier sensed an uneasy Shinen from the woman. Activating Sigma, Atsuki decided he’d take the risk of possibly displaying his power.

Enemies of Armestris?
What are they looking for?
Here to declare war?
Where’s Ed?
Did Chibi get himself in trouble?


Atsuki mentally warned himself. This woman had already braced herself for the worst, and she didn’t yet even know their names. That gave Atsuki a bad feeling. This was definitely going to be harder than he anticipated.
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PostSubject: Re: Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]   Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:31 pm




“Sunrise already? Five more minutes…please give me five more minutes to sleep!” The eight-year old girl protested sleepily, twisting petite body around to avoid the persistent morning rays from catching her off-guard. Early dawn transformed Resembool’s jade hills into bejeweled spectacles of dusky red mixed with vivid shades of periwinkle blue - surely putting to shame Central’s forlorn cityscape of dour Victorian-style stone buildings, near constant rainy weather and stiff-lipped militia patrolling the streets on a daily basis. Agricultural lifestyle wasn’t for the faint-hearted, many sacrifices had to be made in order to survive without the aid of local supermarkets selling fresh produce. Why had her mother abandoned commodity for the uncertainty of marrying a country born farmer? Perhaps, beauty in all its simplicity helped to absolve any lingering doubts muddling Sara Rockbell’s down-to-earth mentality. Shrugging trivial thoughts aside, Winry concentrated on keeping her eyes closed despite the faint noises coming from downstairs - she assumed the low sounds were from her parents and grandparent preparing breakfast in the kitchen. “Why has the desire too sleep another three hours eluded me? Something isn’t right. Something has changed, but what? The house is abnormally silent…grandmother hasn’t started breakfast either.” Should she be worried about a routine change? Should restlessness gnaw incessantly at her stomach like it was now? She was an individual accustomed to having constant stability in her life, any dramatic alteration could potentially affect her potential no matter how tiny a shift happened. Harsh foot falls echoed through out the small cottage, followed by an equal jumble of slamming doors downstairs and hushed voices murmuring undecipherable words. Flinging cotton sheets to one side, the blonde-haired preteen clambered out of bed rather unceremoniously before making her way towards the Northern window over-looking Resembool’s main street. ’Jeeps in our front yard?’ Sepia colored images rose from the inner depths, bathing her young mind with old photographs of strict military personnel shoving regular citizens aside like every day garbage.

“Soldiers from Central?” What made them travel three full hours just to visit the humble residence? Why not communicate through the landline phone or at least send a courtesy telegraph? Suspicion replaced childish enthusiasm as uncertain sentiments prompted the younger Rockbell to suddenly fly out of her room, an ‘investigation’ seemed to be a perfectly acceptable mind set for the concerned preteen. Her hazardous journey downstairs seemed ever eternal, until the final wooden step loomed came into view. “Wouldn’t my parents get angry at me for listening to their private conversation?” She contemplated out loud, pausing slightly to trace invisible geometric shapes into the faded tile below her stocking-covered feet as apprehension drummed a steady tempo behind her chest. Was there a logical reason behind Winry’s unjustified fear? The immediate adults outside her household always treated ’irrational’ phobias as a nuisance needing quick elimination; elderly acquaintances were primarily the ones to fire first and ask questions later much too the annoyance of a certain temper-throwing blonde. Why blame the older brother for his distrusting attitude towards adults? Edward Elric wasn’t made out of stone, he had plenty of reasons to loathe Van Hohenhiem’s insensitivity to leaving his distraught mother behind. “Any loss of life is definitely regrettable, but state doctors and military personnel are by no means exempted from carrying out their respective duties. We have sustained massive amounts of damage to our main troops…which is why King Bradley signed a decree to send more reinforcements into the heart of Ishvalan territory. Rockbell! You have one hour to get ready…say farewell to your family and report to us at the train station at exactly 11 A.M!” An authoritative sounding male commanded, his gruff voice leaving no room to openly challenge or negotiate a way around the given order. Obedience was absolute, defiance of the chief officer’s mandate could end in a court martial warrant for high treason against the Amestrian government.

“Quite an unexpected surprise if I do say so myself. Three senseless wars, no…more like three inane massacres without a clearly defined purpose. Pathetic. We are pathetic for even participating!” Lee Rockbell muttered sarcastically, releasing his inner frustration once the coast was clear. Lucid disdain contaminated every corner of the cottage, steeping it’s inhabitants with a myriad of emotions - mostly anger, sadness, and entrenched reluctance to leave two family members stranded. “Pinako will you be all right alone? Why does destiny conspire against us? Our duties as doctors….verses our parental responsibility.” Bitter chuckles did little to ease the intense atmosphere, instead each tick of the grandfather clock brought the married pair closer to making an inevitable decision - one which surely had a lifelong consequence. “Are mother and father leaving me too? I’m going to suffer…the same fate as the Elric’s.” Winry murmured beneath her breath, cerulean eyes misting over. What could she possibly do to keep her beloved parents from disappearing? How long would the Ishvalan conflict last? The flaxen-haired girl stepped hastily into the parlor, her accusing gaze focused on the three stunned adults sitting around the coffee table. Silence choked Winry’s vocal cords, limiting speech capability and resulting in a series of mewling sounds to escape through her puckered lips. “Don’t leave me! PLEASE…don’t leave me! I..I don’t want you to die!” She unleashed a volatile cocktail of words aimed directly at Sara and Lee Rockbell, challenging them to openly defy military orders. “Why? Why aren’t you saying anything!?”


-----------------

“The fresh breeze feels nice today doesn’t it Ms. Darla? My parents enjoyed sipping their morning coffee outside, while my grandmother busied herself baking delicious strawberry pies. How long ago did mom and dad relish their last cup of coffee on the porch? Ten years ago? Five years ago? Funny, I can remember their faces…their heartfelt emotions…and their last words. Yet, the time of their death continues to elude me.” The flaxen-haired adolescent commented quietly, training cerulean optics on ancient family portraits tacked into the faded wallpaper. Still life faces stared from behind the opaque Plexiglas, as sightless eyes drank in a landscape completely unchanged by time - fragile ornaments remained on their respective shelf covered in a fine film of dust. When was the last time Pinako dusted the cabinet? When was the last time her grandmother ran loving fingers over the porcelain figurines? ’Her fleeting smile disappeared the day Edward and Alphonse Elric walked out the front door. I remember seeing a faint shimmer in my grandmother’s stern eyes, but Pinako would never shed her tears publicly. Has she ever cried once in her life? Even privately? I’ll never know…because as a granddaughter I’m much too cowardly to ask her. Now….Pinako’s departure has left me feeling void inside…another puzzle lost.‘ Why compare her broken family to a puzzle? She had Den’s undying loyalty, a strong-willed grandmother, two adopted brothers, and an entire village willing to lend their assistance. Yet, even with the knowledge visibly present, Winry knew in her heart that no one could ever substitute her parents. “Is this how Edward and Alphonse felt when their father left abruptly? The unimaginable sea of questions going through their minds, I understand why Elric desperately wanted to resurrect his deceased mother. He was lonely…even with us…Ed was always lonely.”

’Van Hohenhiem. His name was Van Hohenhiem, right? The worthless name of a father who abandoned us! How dare he call himself a decent ’father’! A decent father would never subject his family to a life of misery!’ Such anger from a small child was unexpected, but what justification did the adults have to label Edward Elric as an ungrateful brat? His explosive temper differed vastly from Alphonse’s mild manner, perhaps on account of how much attention Trisha paid to the youngest son as opposed to the older Elric who found himself pushed further and further aside. “Quite an incongruous turn of events, I have never witnessed a stronger familial bond then the one Ed and Al share.” Allowing a wry smile to touch her lips, Winry trekked across the living room to reach her tool box . Deft fingers unlatched the lock revealing a treasure-trove of screw drivers, wrenches, multicolored wires along with a small oil canister used to lubricate Edward’s prosthetic limbs. “Winry? What are you doing? Don’t tell me you’re planning an all out assault against the outsiders! Pinako told us to stay put!?” The brunette-haired elder exclaimed, scanning the adolescent’s face for a reasonable streak. Sadly, no amount of protests could persuade Winry Rockbell to understand the implications behind her rash decisions. ’Is recklessness an epidemic among the Elric and Rockbell family?’ Darla surmised, a visible frown touching slightly weathered features. Folding both arms indignantly, she kept vigil on the younger Rockbell as various supplies were strewn carelessly about. “Aha!” Winry exclaimed “”Wrenches don’t really make lethal weapons, but they do make excellent boomerangs!”, holding up a wicked-looking wrench in her right hand, she turned towards her neighbor - a devious spark illuminating cerulean optics. “Darla, thank you for assisting us, however I can’t afford to do nothing.” In her mind waiting equaled an uncertain fate for her elderly grandmother, yet at the same time Winry reveled in the freedom of running down dirt-paved roads.
-----------------

’What is going through Den’s mind right now? What are his thoughts? Can dogs even comprehend our feelings? Sometimes I wonder if he holds a grudge against us.’ Why should canines hold grudges against their owners? Why did Pinako Rockbell believe in such a petty notion? Animals weren’t capable off abstract thoughts or so the military personnel alleged when sending dozens of man’s best friend into the battlefield. Placing a lithe hand underneath her chin, the elderly woman watched her sleek-coated companion stop every three seconds to chase meadowlarks out of their nesting sites with a series of high-pitched yowls. “Are you attempting to reestablish your old domain again? Good luck with chasing all of the wild animals out of their homes…a run-in with a badger would be a most unpleasant experience.” It was hard to believe how an innocent dog bred specifically for herding sheep could be easily trained to hunt down Ishvalan prisoners. How much blood had he tasted? How many people did Lee‘s beloved dog bite? “All for the greater good.” Pinako commented, flitting her gaze sideways to examine rusted canons covered in dense foliage. Mother Nature would slowly, but surely cover up any existing wounds with her regenerative power, however the evidence ’man’ leaves behind could never be erased from memory. The entire country of Amestris labored underneath a militaristic leadership, where King Bradley’s goal was to expand state borders further into opposing territory. Diplomatic endeavors ended up in disaster - obviously instigated by a few certified Alchemist with nothing better to do, then give themselves a bad reputation. “How is the pipsqueak faring? Has he grown taller? Or did he become a bean sprout? Edward could’ve chosen a more fulfilling career…but he decided to become a State Alchemist instead.” He was free to make his own lifestyle choices, but Elric’s decisions impacted those closest to him negatively.

Stamping his left foreleg into the moist ground, the duo-colored collie flickered an ear backwards catching a subtle hint of worry underneath Pinako’s controlled voice. After years spent on a battlefield assisting wounded soldiers and watching blood splatter everywhere, the older dog adapted himself to deciphering human body language as well as listening intently to the hidden melody presented in their speech. He had encountered plenty of Ishvalan prisoners - their tanned skin, bleached hair, crimson eyes providing a remarkable contrast against the pale landscape swathed by constant ground bombardment. *Our lack of basic human comprehension makes us dispensable creatures…right? I can’t carry out decent conversations with my comrades…but not once has loyalty for them ever faltered. Instead, it is the human heart…easily fragile…easily broken which leads different races to kill each other. I would never dream of slaughtering an innocent prisoner…yet orders had be carried out.* Central insisted on using disposable dogs to assist foot soldiers distributed across the front lines, yet the militia itself failed to see how much trauma each individual endured - whether it be a human or a shell-shocked canine. *Is the presence of unwanted visitors stressing you out? Don’t worry about it Pinako! I’ll keep an eye on them for any possible signs of aggression, however I don’t see the silver-haired adolescent as possessing malignant intents…his friend on the other hand is beginning to annoy me.* Trotting nonchalantly towards the peppered-haired elder, Densuke nudged his owner’s hand gently, conveying a relaxed temperament to calm Rockbell’s stormy emotions down. Amiable oculars locked against grey-blue hues, interchanging secret words only close friends could understand. “Really? Is it really all right to drop down our guard? Remember Den….appearances can be quite deceiving.” She mumbled, glancing briefly into Saijo’s lifeless eyes, before focusing on the foul-tempered adolescent. ‘’Should I trust Den’s judgment? He isn’t showing any aggressive tendencies…though I can see why annoyance would be Densuke’s primary reaction.'

Nimble digits glided through Densuke’s soft fur, rubbing individual strands between her thumb and forefinger. Was it a sign of nervousness? Or was the elderly woman preparing herself for the inevitable? Occasional visitors to Resembool’s remote valley caused great chaos among it’s older citizens, many of whom experienced great heartache when their homes were obliterated. The older Rockbell had been younger in those days, naïve as to the threat looming beyond Amestrian borders - scoundrels hidden from sight as they waited for an opportunity to overwhelm the local train station. Banishing old memories aside, the ashen-haired woman brooded over Liu Yee’s response carefully, comparing his obvious lack of manners to a certain untamable State Alchemist. Although Yee’s smug attitude had potential to wake slumbering wolves up, Pinako refused to participate in childish games with the older teen - she decided to let silence and cool indifference be his answer. ‘Has destiny conspired against me? I’ve dealt with strangers who had worse attitudes….this teen should be wearing a diaper until he can learn proper manners!’ Mannerisms were on the decline particularly among the newer generation, irresponsible adults failed to instill their children basic etiquette from an early age. Yet, prevalent wars in Amestris left many kids completely orphaned - their fragile minds easily besmirched by the senseless violence around them. Where had the two boys come from? Their distinctive style of clothing depicted a more futuristic setting, as opposed to the conservative grab seen in Central City. Taking her attention momentarily off Liu Yee and Saijo, the pepper-haired woman focused blue-grey eyes on the beaten road behind her, wondering how her granddaughter fared home alone. Den quickly noticed Pinako’s faraway expression, nevertheless the border collie made no move to alert his owner of the tantalizingly familiar scent wafting straight into his nostrils. ’Could it be? After being gone for several years…is it possible? No one smells of freedom like he does!’

Had the irresistible pull of childhood memories done their magic? Would an isolated farming community react positively to the presence of a State Alchemist? Van Hohenhiem once baptized Resembool as his permanent residence, he had little trouble adjusting to the social stigma attached to every alchemistic practitioner. In fact, the reluctant farming community came to recognize alchemy’s mystic nature as being practical , but terrifying if used incorrectly. Curling white-tipped tail around himself, the eight-year old canine uttered a disgruntled growl- drawing his owner’s divided attention towards the two adolescents standing in the middle of the dirt road. “Densuke…” She whispered between pursed lips, tilting back her head halfheartedly to glance at tranquil blue skies above, as if the answers to all earthly problems would come falling right out of the heavens. What foolish notion possessed Pinako to believe in blatant lies? Solutions never came easily, harsh conflicts sometimes arose too demonstrate whether a person’s resolve was strong enough to withstand even the harshest of winters. ’You’re here on business looking for Elric? What could the boy have done to garner unwanted attention? I’m grateful Winry stayed behind, her unpredictable attitude won’t help me out right now!’ Massaging left temple tentatively, the elder leveled Atsuki Saijo with a scathing stare - speculative as to how two adolescents could simply barge in expecting to receive information without introducing themselves first. Heaven only knew what intentions both youths harbored, and the lack of knowledge made her quite withdrawn. “Sorry to disappoint both of you, but Edward Elric no longer resides here.” She finally responded, leaving crucial details aside. Telling them about Elric’s departure to Central might have been helpful, but Rockbell refused to let the sixteen-year old alchemist suffer an equally horrid fate her own son endured during his departure to Ishval. ’Let these two boys figure Chibi’s location themselves…after all the silver-haired lad has abilities.’ The ashen-haired woman begun moving in the opposite direction, however she stopped in mid-stride as a wrench sailed directly overhead.

“Where could grandmother Pinako be? Resembool is so vast I have no idea what direction she even took! Den isn’t here either…unfortunately, I have no choice, but to follow my own gut instinct. I really hope…nothing bad has happened to her.” Thrusting both hands into weathered pockets, the sapphire-eyed teen swept a worried gaze over a lush landscape swept barren of it’s usual activity. Tall corn fields swayed in the afternoon breeze - left unattended by panicked farmers seeking escape from another possible confrontation with Central’s powerful militia, obviously some wounds had yet to close and lately the news to the North depicted immense scenes of human suffering. “Will Resembool see more bloodshed….?” Winry questioned, applying firm pressure to the cold piece of metal nestled safely in her apron pocket. Why carry a wrench around as a makeshift weapon? Edward’s gift could not defend her against a gun nor could his lingering presence fill the empty void in her heart. Alphonse and Edward Elric - her former family tainted by a cruel twist of fate, if equivalent exchange really existed why did ’Truth’ mutilate Al beyond recognition? Why did Edward come back in his younger brother’s trembling embrace - looking like a broken bird whose wings had been torn off? ’Lonely? Was he feeling lonely all this time? Edward…you idiot! Why didn’t you tell us!?’ A series of drawling voices coming over the hill quickly roused Winry’s attention, inquisitiveness transformed to pure anger as one masculine voice seemed to make a mockery of Pinako’s polite question. ’Damn him. Damn him to hell for all eternity! Looking for Edward Elric…I say those fools should be searching for manners instead.’ Densuke’s hasty retreat down the slope cemented Pinako’s location, after cresting the hill Winry didn’t hesitate to throw her wrench at Liu Yee for his contemptuous behavior. “There you are grandmother! Stop wasting your breath on such pitiful trespassers! With their petty manners…I’m certain finding Elric will be no problem.” She gave Saijo a caustic glare, before pulling the older female back to their homely cottage.

-------------

“Lt. Hawkeye, do you have the latest news on our wanted fugitive? What was his name again? I believe the witnesses called him ’Scar’ due to the X-shaped mark over his face. Another crucial item he carried were sunglasses….I’m certain he doesn’t want anyone identifying him. Why? Is his eye color relevant to solving the puzzle?” The Flame Alchemist brooded out loud, skimming each compiled document for new details pertaining to the recent increase in criminal activity all over Central. Each unsolved case was treated like an isolated incident, but death among high ranking officials and several dead alchemists peeked Mustang suspicions. How were the officers taken off-guard? Who was committing the horrendous crimes? For what purpose? Why had ‘Scar’ gone after Fullmetal last time? The sixteen-year adolescent had nothing to do with him, perhaps Elric’s quest after the Philosopher Stone had conjured unwanted attention from a hidden organization? “Colonel Mustang? Unfortunately new information remains scant, the latest death toll stands at sixteen - six dead alchemists along with ten officers positioned outside our city limits. ’Scar’ might be working alone…though Hughes mentioned revenge against the military as his prime motivation for killing certified alchemists.” Leaning petite body against the wooden building, Riza hesitantly dropped the formal tone in her voice “Aren’t we being a little careless again? Fullmetal Alchemist is capable of holding his own against others, but even Scar proved to be a tough opponent. Shouldn’t we send an escort to accompany Elric during his three day trip?” She questioned, focusing chestnut-colored eyes on the younger blond waiting anxiously by the platform for his train to arrive. He was perceptibly eager about returning home, however a certain sadness emanated out of Edward Elric. Was it nostalgia? Or past memories associated with a failed human transmutation? “Scar won’t risk blowing his cover to attack a train station in broad daylight. If my speculations are correct…he‘ll try catching Elric alone, unfortunately now that Hagane is sixteen…we can‘t treat him alike a child anymore.” Roy muttered beneath his breath, giving his subordinate a sidelong glance as he tucked important documents into his back pocket.

“A child…Colonel? The day Elric decided to join the military….was the day he ceased to be a child.” Hawkeye scrutinized, attempting to make her explanation sound reasonable to the flame alchemist, but beneath a lack of apparent concern for Elric - it was clear Riza possessed a soft spot for Edward and Alphonse. ‘Ceasing to be a child? How sad a fate can life bestow upon a person? He is an innocent child forced to bare the chains of adulthood alone…even ’we’ can’t save him from himself.’ Profound silence settled between the two ranking officials, their thoughts while separate mirrored similar sentiments of trepidation for the young lad whose intense stubbornness defied modern human concept. “You and I are a pair of sentiment old fools.” Mustang chuckled, before the approaching train replaced his voice with it’s own chorus of melodic sounding whistles. “Lt. Hawkeye! Colonel Sarcasm! My train finally arrived…I’ll see you two in three days!” The blond-haired alchemist called out, cupping both hands around his mouth to amplify his voice above the station’s hectic clamor. “Colonel Sarcasm? Won’t he ever learn respect? Hurry up already! If you miss your train…I won‘t tolerate another temper tantrum! You hear me?!” Letting his question hang in mid-air unanswered, Roy hastily ushered his young ward towards the Southern platform. “Shut up! I don’t throw temper tantrums!” Curving lips into a devilish grin, the sixteen-year old adolescent ascended up the stairs - sticking his head out two minutes later to check on Hawkeye and Mustang one last time. Why did he worry for their welfare? Riza as a sniper could defend herself perfectly, not to mention Roy had enough firepower to convert an entire city to ashes - so why did Elric hold deep esteem for them? ’All of them are special to me…in their own unique way. Colonel Sarcasm teases me enough, he doesn’t need anymore reason to render my life a living hell! I’ll lock these feelings deep inside of me….where no one can ever access them.’ The train’s vociferous song announced it’s immediate departure from Central, prompting Edward to make himself comfortable. “Three hour train ride…I should catch some shut eye.” Spreading his muscular body across the seat, Edward Elric found himself dozing off into a realm of nightmares.

“B-Brother, are you sure we should proceed? I-I’m scared…Edward…very scared! What if mom doesn’t come back!? What if our Human Transmutation fails!?” Eight year old Alphonse Elric cried out in desperation, raising a trembling hand to inspect the intricate circle he and his older brother Edward drew on a whim. The weathered floorboards bore ancient scuff marks left behind long ago by an ancient scholar seeking freedom, four years later the same planks exhibited traces of a faint white dust used to etch in a magnificent conductor serving as a vital point for both boys to achieve the unthinkable. Flicking his chalk piece aside, the flaxen-haired youth gave his younger brother a reassuring smile “Of course, we should proceed! Otherwise our hard work would go to waste.” He explained, avoiding Al’s questions for fear his brother’s doubts would discourage him from proceeding any further. Wasn’t their greatest wish about to come true? Forbidden Transmutation was the only alternative Ed foresaw, or else a life devoid of warmth awaited him and his younger brother. Shaking intrinsic doubts aside, Edward stood before the circle stretching his arm out as far as his short body would allow him too. Holding the pocket knife in his left hand, the blonde made a careful incision to allow miniscule crimson droplets to cover various part of the transmutation circle - once satisfied with his ‘toll’ he knelt down to begin Trisha’s resurrection. “No! No! Not my brother! Please don’t take Alphonse away! D-Don’t take him away…I beg of you!” Ghastly images of Trisha’s failed rebirth plagued Elric’s mind, transitioning between an inhumane mass of barely discernable flesh that should have been his mother to graphic pictures of a panorama saturated in despair. He found himself back home as a naïve nine-year old boy, dragging his mangled body towards a suit of armor placed against the far wall - ignoring the intense pain in his severed leg as Alphonse’s name ripped out of his throat. Eyelids flew wide open revealing dilated pupils, while the horror-stricken alchemist bolted upright - earning a few dirty glares from the passengers in the front row. “A-Ahaha! Sorry!” Edward apologized hastily, turning his head away to avoid unnecessary eye contact with his temporary traveling companions.

‘Alphonse, can you hear me? I had another horrible dream…one involving our miscalculated attempt at Human Transmutation. Y-You were right all along…why didn’t I listen to reason? Truth revealed the flaw in our logic…we weren’t wrong in our calculations…the ones who were wrong were ’us’. A human life is priceless…it is absolutely useless to offer an exchange.’ Why had all the alchemy books claimed human transmutation as taboo, yet failed to go into detail? Was it to keep knowledge hidden or to discourage anyone from attempting it? Sensible adults might have sufficient self-restraint to heed every single warning, but two young boys grieving their mother’s death would never think twice. “Don’t worry….Alphonse. I will find a way to restore your body back to normal even if it means forfeiting my life.” He mouthed wordlessly, as the urban cityscape gave way to rolling green hills dotted by the occasional corn field in need of harvesting. Apprehension, sorrow and excitement bubbled in Elric’s stomach, producing an unpleasant need to just scream out “I’m home!” once again - when in reality he had no more home to even come to. Were the burnt remains of his former home still standing? ’Fire consumed everything in our household, but the precious memories live on. Lost to time…yet never forgotten.’ Resembool’s station came into full view as the train’s shrill whistle announced it’s next drop-off - amid screeching brakes and low chatter the sixteen-year old adolescent navigated his way along narrow aisles to avoid being crowded at the exit. Clasping his silver pocket watch securely in one hand, Ed found himself five minutes later standing alone on the platform - observing foreigners with his fiery gaze intent on their actions. “How long was I gone from home? Resembool…I’m finally back to pick up the shattered remains.” Chuckling grimly to himself, the flaxen-haired alchemist made his way down dust covered roads until a black and white Collie appeared out of nowhere to greet him enthusiastically. “D-Densuke! How have you been!? You really have grown into a handsome-looking canine…eh? Did you come to accompany me?” Edward questioned, patting Den’s head affectionately before stopping mid-way to gaze down the trail at the charred remains of his former home. ’Completely unchanged since the last time Alphonse and I watched our home burn to the ground. Ashes cover every square inch…I highly doubt any furniture survived the intense infernal that night…the very same night my twelve-year old self decided to embark on a dangerous journey.’ He was rather hesitant to approach his own home, but in the end caution gave away to a sense of familiarity - causing him to stumble all the way towards the burnt structure.

‘You have no home now! So why are you here!?’
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Shiori

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Posts : 7
Join date : 2012-01-21
Age : 23
Location : Kisaragi City

PostSubject: Re: Shinen of Alchemy [Mature/Private Shiranui]   Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:15 pm

Life in the silver-haired adolescent’s mind rarely ceased activity, though the tool of which he could convey his thoughts rarely was put to use. Perhaps it was this reason Saijo sensed people thinking of him as “unapproachable.” Frankly, he did not want to be approached, so his originally unintended isolation came as a blessing to him. After all, Atsuki was not paid to talk, he was paid to ensure the wellbeing of people who could not defend themselves from the destructive mental parasite labeled as “Silent.” Ever since the last of his family members had unnecessarily been thrown into the void, exterminating Silent had become the adolescent’s only goal. Willing to give up anything—which now was only his flesh and blood—to further the process of eliminating Silent, Saijo had become a lifeless doll. At first his cold and un-talkative ways had only been a mask. Though over time, his façade and his real self had become completely undistinguishable. Once to the point where he was merely a puppet, Atsuki ceased thoughts of what life would be like had he acquired Sigma differently. In a perfect world, Saijo’s younger sister would still be there for him and give him tidbits of wisdom Saijo could only dream of attaining. In a perfect world…a utopia: something entirely out of reach of mankind. One would only be able to dream of such a place, and even then they would be foolish to do so. Was it now even impossible to dream, as well? Much to his passive dismay, the young Falco member could only confirm this. Not once had he dreamt since joining fort. That had been a number of years ago; in fact, Saijo couldn’t even remember how long he’d worked with Fort. It must’ve been over five years now…

Somewhere deep inside Saijo’s dormant heart he suspected there was still bitterness for not being able to have had Lux Pain implanted by choice. No, during his time of physical (and emotional) weakness, Fort had located and “adopted” him and ever so graciously given him Gawain. It was a shock that he even survived, especially since he was already dying. It used to make Saijo wonder if they’d only wanted him as a tool. If he’d died, would they really even care? Saijo guessed not. It seemed only sensible that any normal person would be thankful for Fort saving their life…but Saijo was still unsure of whether being saved was a good thing or not. After all, look where it had landed him: him being partnered with the famous Liu Yee, a very stuck-up male with a wildly untamable ego. With Sigma, Liu’s egotistical nature made for being a deadly enemy, or a very useful, if not patience-testing, ally. Saijo’s rational side saw clearly the significance of Liu Yee, but another part of his mind wished that Liu would vanish and someway get stuck on the plane between space and time. What a bittersweet day that would be; though Saijo had a feeling Nola would unintentionally react in the most inappropriate of ways. How strange the workers at Fort could get. Liu wasn’t included in that, of course—he was not strange, just needlessly rude.

“How unfortunate,” Liu murmured, “We come and speak to a troublesome old woman only to find our Target is not here. Can you sense any trace of him at all, Atsuki?” the raven-haired male’s voice lowered at the last part, black-brown eyes scrutinizing his partner expectantly. Atsuki opened his mouth; only to close it again as he let a brief expression of confusion cross his face as he eyed an object that was rapidly spinning towards Liu’s head. Nevertheless the metallic-haired adolescent felt he had no energy to speak to the tiresome, older teenager. Liu turned around only to be smacked in the forehead with what Atsuki could now identify as a wrench. An unusual object to throw at people, Saijo thought. Atsuki stepped back just in time to avoid Liu as he flailed his arms and stumbled backwards.

“Damn it!” Liu raged, vanishing inches before he hit the ground to who-knows-where. Atsuki made no outward signs to show his displeasure in Liu’s hypocritical act, though inwardly he was very irked at his partner. First Saijo is ridiculed and told not to use his power in front of people unless absolutely necessary, and now in broad daylight, Liu pulls his infamous vanishing act? Unfortunately the younger teenager could not say he was surprise. In silence, Saijo watched as the moody young woman called her grandmother back to their home.

“Who is she to speak of a lack of manners? Throwing a wrench at someone is hardly proper etiquette.”

Atsuki felt his skin crawl as the familiar yet (still) unaccustomed feeling of Liu’s cold aura suddenly appeared somewhere close behind him. The day where Liu Yee clearly stated his arrival before jumping straight into a conversation would be the day Atsuki showed an emotion; which would be extreme happiness. But after that Saijo would die and go to heaven, so the momentous occasion of two relatively nonexistent things happening would be short-lived. Atsuki shook his head slowly, turning around to stare at his partner, only to see him lightly fingering a large red bump on the middle of his forehead. Usually Atsuki would tell Liu that he indirectly asked for it (in a very subtle and indirect way, Saijo would say this), but Saijo’s mind was suddenly caught up in something else. However, Liu didn’t seem to notice the change in his partner’s demeanor; he was too caught up in attempting to see the bump on his head and muttering a string of curses directed at the teenage girl from earlier. Not bothering to give Liu any warning as to his departure, Saijo headed off.

~ ~ ~


Nola sighed in defeat as the blue-haired youngster begged her for the thousandth time in a very squeaky voice to let her do a long-distance Viewing and call Saijo herself to report where any significant Residual Shinen might be.

“Natsuki Venefskuja! Sit down and shut up! If you’re going to do a Viewing, do it properly, not like a toddler, please!” Nola snapped. The blonde teenager rarely lost her temper, but after hours of trying to get the last bits of the Target’s information with little success made her edgy. Nola was used to being able to find any info without any problems. No hacking job was too big for her to handle. So, naturally, being faced with defeat had the young woman in a very foul mood. And despite the older girl’s harsh words, Natsuki still seemed to be brimming with excitement. The blue-haired teenager was infatuated with Atsuki Saijo. According to her, they were going to get married one day and have kids and live in a house together… Long story short, Natsuki had planned out their whole future for them. However, Atsuki never commented on it, and it was suspected the reason he never visited the Fort facility was because Natsuki never left. Nobody dared tell Natsuki, though, that it was likely she was scaring Saijo off. Nola eyed her younger coworker and sighed. Even yelling hadn’t dissuaded the girl from being overly rambunctious. It wasn’t as if the older teenager had expected harsh punishment to work—and heck, simply yelling was hardly punishment. Nola knew when it came to their little rescue-boy Saijo, Natsuki couldn’t be shut up. It would be miraculous if Natsuki’s mouth closed. Nevertheless, Natsuki was now sitting down, tapping her feet, and looking expectantly at Nola.

Briefly giving a look of annoyance to Natsuki, Nola said, “Fine. Go ahead. Do it quickly; we have more important things to be doing.”

“Yay!” Natsuki squealed, getting up and heading off to do a Viewing. Nola was quite sure she’d had an eardrum burst. The blonde teenager watched the young girl leave and wondered what went through her mind. Every Sigma user had a way of dealing with what they read and experienced via Shinen. Was Natsuki’s way of dealing with these feelings being infatuated with Saijo? If so, it was good that Saijo didn’t return her feelings. Sighing, Nola decided she didn’t care to know any more.

~ ~ ~



Atsuki couldn’t say he’d been excited to hear from Natsuki. Though much to his surprise, his ‘secret’ admirer wasn’t as loud and flirtatious as he’d expected her to be. He could only guess that it was because she had been foolish enough to do a long-distance Viewing. She must’ve been exhausted. Nevertheless, she’d called and told him two locations where Residual Shinen was strangely large—and old—before saying goodbye and hanging up. She’d told him to be careful, too; though Saijo couldn’t understand why she’d say that. What could possibly be there that he should be wary about? The teenager sighed and moved off to the first destination: a graveyard. Still-faced, the silver haired mal began to walk. Along the way he attempted to pick out any Residual Shinen that he could sense without using Sigma. Residual Shinen like that were extremely rare, so Saijo wasn’t surprised when he came up empty-handed. Despite being unable to gather any more information about the small town, Atsuki couldn’t help but wonder what things were really liked under the surface. However, Saijo quickly allowed himself to be lulled back into thoughts of nonexistence—how nice it would be to be able to live a life where no one saw you, and you saw no one. That way you would never be judged superfluously, correct? It was not as if Saijo cared. Again, it was not his job to care. He knew that caring would be a key contributor to his own demise. If the young male allowed himself to care about what other people thought and felt, he would be completely consumed and would eventually become lost in the depths of his own mind. Would being lost in your mind be worse than living and seeing what went on around you? Saijo had a feeling that being able to think freely for all eternity would be enough to drive a man insane.

Silver tresses fell into Saijo’s eyes as he stopped suddenly, turning his head and staring. He’d nearly overshot his destination. Regrettably, the only thing that had gotten him to realize this was the strong Residual Shinen that emanated from the graveyard. There were many Residual Shinen, and Saijo knew that searching for the right one would have been a difficult task if Nola had not given him a last name to search for. However traversing through a graveyard with eerily prominent Residual Shinen was not something Saijo wanted to do—graveyards held a deep sentimental value to him, though the memories they brought back were anything but pleasant. When he thought about it deeply enough, he supposed that graveyards had sentimental value to everyone. Shrugging this aside, Saijo let his unusually active mind go to rest as he searched the gravestones one by one until he found one with the last name of “Elric.” Attached to the ground by the gravestone was a very conspicuous Residual Shinen. It held a deep despair and Saijo felt he could detect traces of anger. Narrowing black eyes at the gravestone, Saijo activated Sigma.

The feeling of Gawain activating and the familiar brown-and-gold markings spreading up his arm by now was something he was accustomed to, but didn’t particularly like unless it was to remove Silent. What good to removing Residual Shinen do? Erasing Residual Shinen would not further the cause of eliminating Silent… Grimacing, Saijo quickly picked out the error in his argument. Residual Shinen could lead to someone becoming infected with Silent, therefore erasing Residual Shinen was necessary. Forgetting his irrational argument, Saijo removed the Residual Shinen. As soon as it was removed, he reevaluated what he’d learned. The death of this woman was unfortunate, to say the least, and Atsuki was slowly beginning to piece the puzzle together. With what little information he’d gathered from this unusually large Residual Shinen he knew would help him in the future. It had already given him a key to what Silent the Target may be infected with. The combined despair and anger, he knew, could ultimately lead to Clymenus. But six years…? He’d gotten six years. How could one infectee survive Silent for six entire years? Was he no longer alive? Is that why the elder had told Saijo and his partner before that he no longer resided here? Staring at the gravestone once more, Atsuki buried his head halfway underneath his trench coat collar, keeping only his nose and eyes visible to the rest of the world.

The next place Natsuki had told him to visit was a site where apparently a home had been burned down. Natsuki had relayed that Nola had attempted to get information on the reason the house burned down, whether it was by accident, or on purpose, but had come up with nothing. Atsuki wondered why everything around here held such mystery to itself—most things back in Kisaragi were simple. The only things that held any real complex value were the statues located around Kisaragi City to supposedly protect it from demons, and the OD levels that Professor Reiji Takano tampered with. Luckily the green-haired professor had failed to like OD with Sigma. They were one in the same, but Atsuki knew that anyone outside of Fort knowing about the powers that he and other Sigma users held would eventually lead somewhere bad. Replacing thoughts of the cheery history professor, Atsuki continued walking. And as he walked, his mind went blank. No thoughts played through his mind other than eliminating Silent and getting back to Kisaragi where the current and more important dangers were. Kisaragi was being plagued by Silent, and Saijo had still failed to find the Original, making it very risky for Chief Ray to have sent all Fort Sigma members out of Kisaragi here to Resembool. Was this Target’s Silent really that big? Was it really that ‘worthy?’ Saijo and his partner had been pulled out of their current mission to do a side job of sorts. It was unlike Ray to do such a thing. So how come this time it was an acceptable exception? Did Chief Ray know something that none of the rest of the Fort members knew, and was simply refusing to bring it into the light?

For the second time, Saijo was stopped before he overshot his destination by the overwhelming presence of a despaired and angry Residual Shinen. Saijo looked up, straightening and pulling his face out from underneath the collar of his black coat, shining onyx orbs staring at the place where not one, but multiple Residual Shinen rested. Saijo had taken a step forward before realizing that he was not alone. And the person that was in proximity with him held an aura of infection. One that Saijo had never experienced before, either. Something about the blonde boy standing feet away from him told Saijo he was infected with a high-ranking Silent. But why did he look so calm? Why was he not muttering and giggling to himself, or simply trying to kill himself, like all other infectees did? Why…did he look so normal? Saijo blinked once, lifeless black eyes staring at the shorter teenager’s frame. Suddenly, the name that Nola had given him popped into his head.

“Edward Elric?”
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