On the Northern border, the platoon of soldiers under Mustang's command wait impatiently as Armstrong goes over a few final details of strategy with him. Armstrong tells Mustang that there might be resistance to his plan, but he feels he can succeed nonetheless. Mustang tips his head, and Armstrong goes out under full salute from Hawkeye, Breda and Falman. As he leaves, however, Breda flashes a smirk and Falman chuckles...
Armstrong finally relates the strategy to the impatient soldiers---their objective is to turn around and move em masse
on Central Headquarters...against
Fuhrer Bradley! The other officials protest, but Armstrong makes a, well, strong
In Dublith, Ed, Al and Wrath watch as Sloth slowly dissapates in her ethanol form. Wrath, who's still standing close to Sloth, jumps back when the ethanol reacts on his skin, burning him.
Then a faint voice echoes from the dissolving mist: "Nicely done, sweetheart, Clean up after yourselves and take care of each other." With that, Sloth fades into nothing.
Ed is speechless. Al gasps, taken aback by Sloth's words. Both are silently attempting to come to terms with what they have done. Wrath, on the other hand, sinks to the ground and begins wailing at the top of his lungs.
Just as abruptly, a familiar voice calls out; it's Winry! Both Ed and Al question what she's doing in Dublith---has something happened? No, she replies, she simply followed them out because she thought they could use some help..."but I see you finally beat her."
"You are not
Winry Rockbell," says Ed flatly.
"Winry" cries out, appealing to Al, who unwittingly falls for the bait just as he's taken prisoner. Al cries that his captor is too late---he is
the Philosopher's Stone.
"So I've heard," says Envy, who's finally revealed himself. "I thought I'd take the new you out for a test drive..."
With that, he lands a solid punch on Al's blood seal, hoping to kill him. However, the protection of hte Stone continues and Al is unharmed...for now. Ed screams at Envy to leave Al alone, but Envy brushes this aside; he's just taking Al back to his master. When Ed tells him that his "master" will never turn him human, Envy snorts---he doesn't really care, to be honest. And besides, he adds as an afterthought, Ed shouldn't speak so derisively about his "master"...after all, the two of them go way back.
Ed thinks about this statement for a minute, taking into account Lust's explanation about the nature of homunculi and Sloth's tale of her full creation, and come to only one conclusion...but Al tells him he's wrong, that there's absolutely no way their father, Hohenheim, would have done such a thing, either to them or
However, Envy's had enough chitchat. He picks up his prisoner and turns to leave, but someone has made a grab for his ankles...and it's not Ed. Wrath pleads with Envy to let him have a crack at Al---he could try to resurrect "Mommy"...but Envy's not in the mood. He kicks Wrath to the wayside and nimbly sets out for his final destination.
Ed starts to go after Envy, but he's stopped by Wrath. "This is all because of you," he states flatly, Within seconds Wrath sets himself on Ed, striking him repeatedly and screaming...Ed killed her, his own mother! Ed tries to protest, but Wrath knocks him to the ground and begins to throttle him. He continues to try and choke the life out of Ed until a third voice calls out---"Stop it!"
It's Izumi---and Wrath's none too pleased to see her. He tells her coldly that this affair has nothing to do with her, but Izumi disagrees...if there's anyone Wrath should want to kill, it should be her. Wrath screams that she's not his mom, and then releases Ed from his chokehold in an attempt to charge Izumi. Izumi steps out of the way, and Wrath runs headlong into the nearby forest, sobbing in pity.
Ed tries to stand, but his auto-mail leg has been bent and he falls again. Izumi asks him if he's okay, and Ed tells her in a roundabout way what's really bothering him---after all that's happened to him, he still can't seem to shed a tear in grief. It amazes him that Wrath, who had no real stake in the matter, could pour his heart out but Edward, the one who caused all this mess, couldn't even release a single tear.
"Enough," says Izumi, and she bends down to pick him up. She can't do much in her condition, but, she notes, she can be of use as a crutch. She asks Ed where it is he's headed next, and the two start off.
In Central, two familiar figures are browsing in a specialty bookshop---and one of them, Russell, is positively glowing over the hard-to-find alchemy books he's just found! Fletcher, on the other hand, just wants to find Ed and Al. When Russell goes to pay for his finds, however, he discovers that there's not enough money to get he books and
get a room for the night. When the bookstore owner balks at the idea of setting up a credit line for him, stating that only State Alchemists can do that, Russell plays the only card he has---he once again claims to be Edward Elric, the FullMetal Alchemist.
This time, however, things don't go quite as Russell had hoped...in fact, Fletcher, who's waiting outside, is agast to find that nearly two dozen military police have captured Russell, believing him to be the fugitive Edward Elric! Russell protests, explaining the matter, but to no avail. He then shouts at Fletcher to run for it, but he's too late---the military police pick him up too, believing him to be Alphonse. "What'd you do now
, brother?" Fletcher asks Russell as they are hauled off.
Back at the factory, Ed and Izumi both take in the empty transmutation circle carved by Lust---that is, empty all but for Scar's locket. Izumi asks Ed if he sealed one of the homunculi, but Ed tells her the truth...he didn't do this one...
Nevertheless, Izumi reasons that there are only four homunculi left: the child (Wrath), the one who can eat anything (Gluttony), the one who can morph into anything (Envy), and the Fuhrer. Ed adds another: the one who controls them all.
Just then there's a noise behind them; when Izumi demands that the voice show themselves, they meet only with Tucker, cradling the soulless Nina-creation and babbling to it, his mind clearly shattered into oblivion. Ed tells Izumi that even with the power of the Stone, Tucker couldn't recreate his daughter's soul. Izumi is surprised at Ed's seeming indifference to this sight and revelation, but Ed tells her that the soulless doll Tucker cradles is the embodiment of his sins---just as Sloth was his sin and Wrath hers.
Izumi comments that Ed's grown up, and Ed chuckles hollowly at the thought ...he admits that he believed himself "grown up" when he became certified as a State Alchemist four years ago, but now upon reflection his attitude on the matter has changed. When Izumi asks Ed what he plans to do now, Ed tells her that there's only one option---only one of the homunculi that can be accounted for and located. "I take it you mean the big one...Fuhrer Bradley," she muses.
Ed tips his head in agreement.
In the Northern trenches, tensions are flaring...and there's a lot less cooperation than Armstrong had hoped. Falman says he shouldn't be surprised; after all, the Fuhrer's rule has given the army--and subsequently, its commanding officers---a lot of power and prestige. Not too many of them would be willing to relinquish that sort of power, even for a just cause. Breda quips that the new Brig. Gen. Mustang will have a lot of convincing to do...but Armstrong corrects him, saying Mustang's plan all along was to force the troops in Central to come out to them
, leaving both Central and the Fuhrer unprotected.
Finally "Mustang" rises and speaks..."How am I supposed to lead our troops into a major siege?! I'm just a freaking lieutenant!" Armstrong reassures Havoc, who's been "playing" Mustang, that he and the rest of the crew will back him every step of the way---and even gives him and Hawkeye (who's really Fuery in disguise) a great bear hug to the effect.
In "Havoc's" hospital room, Mustang begins to get dressed, when a nurse walks in...surely he doesn't think he's going to walk out in his condition! When the nurse discovers the ruse, both he and Hawkeye convince her that, in the interest of national security, it would be wise to keep her mouth shut about this. The nurse agrees, and soon he and Hawkeye are on their way, with Hawkeye obviously brooding about the young nurse's reaction to Mustang...
At headquarters, Gen. Hakuro is dispatching troops to combat Mustang's "mutiny", and takes a few moments to congratulate the Fuhrer on discovering the plot. As the Gen. takes his leave, the Fuhrer calls the front office to see if there are any other matters before he leaves for the day and discovers that two young people claiming to be the Elric Brothers were arrested this morning. The Fuhrer then casually tells the MP's to have them summarily executed.
Meanwhile, Russell and Fletcher are trapped in a cell inside Central HQ, where Flethcer mildly berates his older brother for pretending to be Ed...again! Russell tells him there was no choice---quite frankly, they're broke. Fletcher adds that they need to get out of there and find the Elrics; there's a page of their father, Nash Tringham's, journal that they need to see...
Suddenly Russell hears a two pairs of footsteps coming down the corridor...he tells Fletcher to hide the page and braces himself for the soldiers to come. However, they're in luck...the soldiers coming to see them are Lt. Ross and Sgt. Bloch!
In a tavern, Mustang finishes thanking a local architect for putting in such a rush job on a set of blueprints for the Fuhrer. The architect tells him that everything's as the Fuhrer ordered it...but there's someting about the wine cellar...
Outside in a nearby alley, Mustang changes out of his uniform to civilian clothes and contemplates on his plans for the Fuhrer. Hawkeye, however, notes someting in the newspaper she's been reading while waiting for Mustang...it seems the Elrics have gotten themselves arrested...
...and just as Hawkeye and Mustang are musing, Ed and Izumi have taken Central by storm, raining all sorts of alarm. Izumi fumes that Ed should have checkd to see that the Fuhrer was indeed at
headquarters before storming the place, while Ed rhetorically asks her how on earth he was supposed to know the one day he drops in the guy's gone off home early for his kid's birthday. The two transmute obstacles and fight their way through the halls of headquarters when their suddenly seized by a pair of brown roots through an open door...one that magically disappears.
Ed and Izumi pick themselves off the ground to find that the ones pulling them in were Lt. Ross and Sgt. Bloch...and the ones behind the alchemy are the Tringhams. Ed's surprised to see this last pair---until Lt. Ross explains that the Tringhams were arrested under the assumption that they were the Elrics. Russell feigns ignorance on that matter, and instead takes a few cheap shots on Ed's height. The two begin fighting, with Fletcher trying vainly to play peacekeeper, while Sgt. Bloch tells Izumi that the Fuhrer gave orders to execute the "Elrics" on the spot, with no questions asked. Lt. Ross tells her that they found that to be a bit harsh, and decided to ask the questions no one else was.
Ed, cooled off from Russell's taunts, telsl the two that while he's glad to see them, he can't stay and chat---he has something he has to do. When Lt.Ross asks what it is, Izumi tells her that they are going to drop in on the Fuhrer. Ed tells them they have no other choice, but before he can give any further explaination Fletcher remembers the page and gives it to a puzzled Ed. Russell explains that it was from their father's journal, and that it has some information about Central that they thought would be useful to Ed. As Ed reads the page, his face pales, and his eyes widen...
Just as Izumi gets a look at the page's contents, there's an explosion...and an unexpected sight coming rom a hole created by it. It's a nearly robotic form, fitted almost completely in auto-mail---and at one time, it was Lt. Col. Archer. His tinny voice cackles; he's found both Edward Elric and the woman from the assault on South Headquarters, and he plans to take care of them both...by firing from a repeating cannon that replaced his tongue. Ed freezes for a moment, trying to take in this creation, when Izumi steps between them---she'll take care of the "tankhead" while he goes to the place mentioned in Nash's journal. Ed reluctantly goes, along with the Tringhams, while Izumi and Lt. Ross stay to cover them.
Outside, Mustang and Hawkeye note that Ed seems to be aiding his own escape rather nicely, so there's no need for them to stay any longer, Hawkeye is just about to put the car in gear when a figure stops her by standing in front of the car---it's Ed, and he's in need of a ride...
As Hawkeye navigates her way through the streets of Central, Ed tries to size up Mustang's reasons for being back so soon. Mustang tells him that they're on their way to the location of the Fuhrer's private estate. Ed tells him it's odd...he thought Mustang was all about kissing ass and following orders to rise through the ranks and take over the military. Hawkeye tells him that Mustang and Ed are really not that much different---after all, Edward himself joined the military to achieve his own goals.
Mustang tells Ed that in the end, his coup will justify his means...and the stance he took with him in Resembool, while not far from the truth, was just shy of his ultimate goal. Ed begins to tell him that the public will never allow the coup to go forward, and his reputation will suffer for it, but then he begins to catch on...Mustang's goal was simply to avenge Hughes. Nothing more.
Ed is only slightly surprised at this revelation, not in sentiment but in method; Mustang does realize he's throwing away everything he's worked so hard for, his whole career, in the name of revenge, doesn't he?
Mustang does, and he's doing it "without a second thought." he also tells Ed that he shouldn't be surprised---after all, he did the same thing when he decided to give up his State Alchemist's certification for the sake of his brother's life. Mustang then muses that both of them, though worlds apart in method, are still are doing the same thing: setting aside the party rhetoric and BS that they've been fed in order to do what they think is right.
Ed goes further; he states that even though he knew what becoming a State Alchemist entailed at twelve, he still to this day never saw himself as a "soldier" per se. War, he reasoned, was this far-off thing that never really concerned him. Now, however, since he's learned that there are people willing to create war for personal gains, he thinks differently. War is created by desire---the same desire that leads people like himself to create homunculi, out of a desire to see and touch the loved ones that are gone. Though the homunculi throw fuel onto the desire to create war, Ed reasons that deep somewhere within each person's soul is the desire for something---be it power, or sin, or even love---and that desire leads to the creation of war, so in truth, war is caused in part by every person, not just one or two.
Mustang tells Ed that he's thinking on too grand a scale; unless he wants to drive himself mad, he needs to focus on what is directly in front of him. Ed tells him that right now, his focus is on destroying the homunculi's master, and then destroying the Stone once and for all---so no one can ever hunger for it's power again.
Both Hawkeye and Mustang prick their ears at Ed's words...he's speaking as if the Stone has been created...but Hawkeye takes issues with another matter---wasn't it Edward's dream all along to find the Stone to gain back what he and his brother had lost? Ed tells her that even so, seeign his dream fulfilled would be hollow when he compares it to the expense of the pain and suffering of those who gave their lives to create it.
Finally Hawkeye stops the car, letting Ed out. Mustang stands before Ed, about to salute him, but then he lowers his hand into an offer of a handshake. Ed hesitates, then takes his extended hand---his real one---and lightly taps it in a friendly gesture. Each man says his goodbyes, then Ed begins to walk slowly away, soon breaking into a run for his destination. Mustang returns to the car, and gives Hawkeye directions as she readies the car to continue on to their final showdown.
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