There were even more books scattered on the floor and in stacks against the walls. Vials, jars and basins littered the desks and tables, unrecognizable liquids and powders in them. Transmutation circles were drawn skillfully everywhere, even on the ceiling.

He shuddered, cringing. Though it lacked the cages of chimeras, this lab reminded him of the one in Shou Tucker's basement.

His eyes followed the line of candles on a shelf affixed to the wall on his right, and he stepped forward, over the circles, books and notes. The room was L-shaped, and there were more lit candles on a shelf around the corner.

He brushed his thumb instinctively over the safety on the gun; it was still off.

His eyes narrowed as the circle came into view. It was huge, covering all but the smallest areas of the corners on the far side of the room, and stood out blaringly white against the dusky, dark glow of the candles.

He traced the outer circle with his eyes and suddenly realized that it was incomplete. No. Not incomplete. Something was blocking it. Warily, he brought up his flashlight to shine on the obstruction.

A foot, a leg... oh, shit! It was a person! No answer to his earlier call meant that something had obviously happened, and since there had been no attack so far, there was likely not going to be one.

Action now, questions later. Without preamble, he took the other's arm and slung it over his shoulder. Surprisingly, the limp figure was light and easy to carry, and Ed shambled along and up the creaky stairs. Finally, he looked at the person he carried.

Matted hair obscured sunken, closed eyes, and the pale face, sporting a five-o-clock shadow, was slack in unconsciousness. Eyes quickly scanning lower allowed Ed a glimpse at poorly bandaged wounds that needed tending

What the hell happened to you? he asked silently, solidering down the hall, into the main room and toward the door.

"Medic!" he yelled, coming into the outdoor light. Immediately, two other officers were helping him, laying his rescue on a stretcher and carting him off to the waiting truck.

And that was when Edward did a double-take. It couldn't be. No way in hell.

He turned to an officer, one that just happened to be a major, and barked out, "Finish cleanup. No other victims. Paperwork's to be directed to my office and everything is expected to be in order as soon as possible."

He saluted to no one in particular, then turned and dashed toward the medic van. "I'm going with you," he announced.

The medics looked to each other, then one shrugged. "I guess it's okay, sir."

"Damn right it is," Ed snapped back, stepping up and into the back of the van, after which the medics closed the doors and got in the front to go.

Ed looked down at the man lying on the table.

"Dammit, Mustang, where the hell have you been?"