Disclaimers: Not mine, theirs...

Warnings: More grisly stuff

Spoilers: Some from the first few episodes with Scar

Feedback: Constructive feedback is very welcome

Notes: Sorry for the long silence...I had a friend staying with me for a while, and I'm going through a bout of abject denial, kind of like what Roy's going through in this fic. It's a happy place to be. Not. Anyways, I'm going to be here and there for the next couple of weeks, so I thought I'd better get another chapter out before disappearing again. Thanks for your patience! I'll try to get back to being more regular with updates, but I'm not going to promise anything...my life's going to be hectic until probably next year...

Oh, and thanks for all the guessing about my field of study...hee...they were fun to read, but not correct. Kudos for trying! It's neuroscience. And in response to a comment about school being out and updates needing to be more frequent, I'm not in school anymore...so that doesn't apply. So nyah nyah. Just kidding.

Felis Catus: Circle Twenty-Two

Edward Elric crept slowly around the plaza, picking his way carefully around the fallen corpses, his golden eyes intently focused on the snake chimera, which was still gleefully strangling selective victims from the group of soldiers desperately trying to bring it down. The other chimera was almost absent-mindedly continuing to scuttle about, preferring, it seemed, to herd its prey into alleyways before attacking. Edward watched that one warily, moving only when its attention was on something else.

Roy, who had vigorously protested being left behind with Hughes, Hawkeye and Hayate to no avail, kept his worried dark eyes trained just as intently on the slight figure of Edward, who was now stealthily inching his way behind a vehicle parked near the rampaging creature.

If they survived this ordeal, Roy was going to have some strict words with Edward in regard to concerns about the boy's lack of anything remotely resembling self-preservation. The words being, "If you don't keep yourself alive, I'll personally bring you back to life so I can dismember you myself."

The implications of that statement were shunted away into the portion of Roy's complex mind labeled "denial".

"Didn't your mother ever teach you that if you frown like that your face is going to freeze that way?" Hughes muttered jokingly to the cat, who spared him a withering glare before returning its attention to the reckless alchemist currently giving Hawkeye an OK sign.

Hawkeye returned the OK sign, and carefully aimed her rifle at the snake chimera. "Are you ready, Hughes?" she said.

"I've got your backs," Hughes replied blithely. Only his eyes, narrowed in concentration, betrayed his seriousness.

Roy tensed.

"On the count of one...two...THREE!" Hawkeye ground through her teeth, her rifle giving a sharp report as the bullet sped straight at the chimera. Before the bullet had traveled halfway across the courtyard to its target, Hawkeye had already reloaded the weapon and sent another bullet rocketing in its wake.

As before, the sinuous chimera paused and tasted the air as the first bullet approached, immediately re-forming the shield it had created before. As the shield was instinctively drawing itself together to protect the chimera's body, Edward, a wild grin on his otherwise intensely focused face, raced towards the monster.

Roy tensed even more.

Jumping over the discarded bodies around the chimera, Edward slapped his palms onto the snake's undulating coils and a flash of light announced the activation of an alchemical reaction right as Hawkeye's bullet hit home on the shield. Just as quickly, Edward jumped back and ran out of range as quickly as he could, heading back towards where the others were waiting, sparing a quick glance backwards.

The alchemical reaction had ripped its way up the body of the chimera the minute Ed had activated it, generating a series of cross reactions with the arrays holding the creature's body together. As Edward looked over his shoulder, the chimera began to shudder violently as its artificially generated body began to come apart piece by piece, its tentacles forming the human shield dropping off.

As the shield began to fall apart, Hawkeye's second bullet found its target directly at the chimera's throat, effectively almost decapitating the monster in a spray of arterial blood. The resulting sound was hideous, as the chimera's body thrashed impotently, its coils slamming into everything within range.

At the noise, the other chimera immediately scrambled out from the alleyway it had disappeared into, and scanned the area. Dismissing its fallen comrade, it overlooked the still bodies and easily spotting the moving figure of Edward, began to head towards him, clicking furiously.

"Get ready, Hughes!" Hawkeye snapped, putting her rifle aside and drawing her handgun.

"Roger," Hughes grinned maniacally, readying his throwing daggers as Edward drew closer to them, the chimera gaining almost imperceptibly.

Roy, if possible, tensed yet even further. Almost...almost...

"NOW!" Edward yelled, as he zoomed past them and skidded to a halt, going so fast that he was almost parallel to the ground and had to place a gloved hand on the ground to slow his momentum.

The others exploded into action while the chimera almost seemed to pause as it realized it had chased its prey right into a trap.

Roy ran immediately over to Edward and leaped onto his shoulder, twining himself around the neck of the flushed and panting alchemist, who was grinning like a fool at his success.

"Hey, cat," Ed said almost breathlessly. "Who would've thought that thing could scuttle so quick?"

Of all the stupid, reckless, inconsiderate, idiotic...Roy scolded. Ooh, if only looks could kill...

"It worked," Edward shrugged matter-of-factly, grinning at the expression on his cat's small face. "Never thought I'd be thanking Scar for something, but damn I'm glad the deconstruction technique he uses works on these chimeras!"

That wasn't the point, Roy thought despairingly. The POINT was that Edward should stop making Roy worry about him!

Oops. That wasn't supposed to sound the way it did.

Noting his cat's disgruntled look, Edward shrugged again. "Well, as the Colonel would say, 'The end justify the means', wouldn't you agree?" he said sagely, catching his breath and gearing up to help Hawkeye and Hughes.

Damn. That was so below the belt! Roy felt vaguely discontented, but mentally conceded the point.

"Alright, enough rest. Let's get back to work!" Ed grinned. "You stay put!" he ordered, setting Roy down onto the ground.

Roy scowled, but did as he was told. His claws and teeth would be useless on the insect chimera's tough shell. Damned if he wasn't going to keep a sharp eye on Edward anyways, however.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye had emptied a clip of bullets right onto the chimera's tough carapace, Hayate at her side guardedly watching the odd thing in front of him, ready to leap to his mistress' defense if needed. The creature flinched slightly, but as the bullets caused minimal damage to its shell, it paused only momentarily, snapping its pincers at Hawkeye but not quite daring to get any closer as her bullets continued to warn it off.

Hughes aimed his throwing knives carefully at the monster's jointed appendages. A knife would lodge into the joint and as the chimera would try to move, the segments would effectively snap in a shearing motion, disabling the creature from moving as rapidly as it had before.

As his knives found their targets, Hawkeye continued to slam clips into her handgun and rain bullets on the insect thing's head and pincers to keep it distracted from Hughes' work as he methodically crippled the chimera.

"Okay, your turn Ed!" Hughes hollered as he spotted Edward running up. "It's not fair if we have to do all the work here!"

"Watch out for the tail," Edward shouted in reply.

"Yes, mother!" Hughes shouted back gaily.

Edward shook his head laughingly. "You're having too much fun with this! You need to get out more Hughes!" he called over to the other man.

"Nah, I like to avoid excitement," Hughes replied philosophically, dodging the tail as it came whipping down.

Hawkeye snorted, a corner of her mouth twisting up into a wry smile while her hands almost seemed to blur as she kept reloading her gun.

"Alright then, let's finish this off!" Edward slammed his hands onto the ground. With a flash of light, slim stone spikes began to grow from the ground, slowly, then with ever increasing speed, spearing the soft underbelly of the futilely thrashing insect chimera. Its struggles slowly got weaker and weaker, until they ceased altogether and the creature went limp.

"He'll never dance the tango again#," Hughes observed clinically.

"I certainly hope not," Edward grinned. "I don't dance that well - I have a tendency to step on people's feet. Hard."

Hughes and Hawkeye both began to laugh, mostly from relief that Edward's crazy plan had worked and they'd just managed to bring down two chimeras. Hayate let out a bark and wagged his tail.

"Great work on the timing, guys," Edward grinned. They grinned back, snapping Ed crisp salutes, before all of them began to laugh weakly once again at the sheer audacity of what they'd just done hit them.

Roy sighed and resumed his perch on Edward's shoulder with some relief. Great. Now they could get down to the real business of figuring out who was behind all of this along with rescuing their lost comrades.

As the trio and two animal companions stood gathering their scattered emotions, a frantic shout arose from across the plaza.

"Now what...?" Edward said almost sickly, as they all turned to look in the direction of the snake chimera they thought they'd killed.

"Fuck..." Hughes breathed, his eyes round with disbelief, as he absently adjusted his glasses.

Hawkeye sighed. "Now we think of a new plan."


#The actual quote is "Don't worry...lil' fucker'll never dance the tango again." Said by Bill, from Stephan King's wonderful book, IT.

To be con't...