Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Alchemist. I only own Kemi and her brother and this plot. Avarice belongs to Ryuu-Kitsune-Onna1, and I use Avarice with her permission XD.

AN/ AGH! I am alive! Sorta. Now in College, working on my BA/BS (still trying to figure that out) in Forensic Psych. I only have classes twice a week, so one would think I'd be more productive….well, I have been hit with the inspiration stick, so hopefully the next chapter will be up much sooner.

Ryuu-Kitsune-Onna1: Well, I think she was mainly just teasing Kemi, but she was probably half serious.

Saber Amane: She'd probably stick Kemi in her closet; sneak her food, that sort of thing. XD not that it would work, but she'd try.

Last Time: "Was not that always the plan?" She asked softly. Was Avarice really so surprised? What was her plan if Dante had said no?

"Well of course it was kitten! But if Master had said no, then I woulda just had to hide you or something!" Avarice explained with a giggle. Kemi allowed her opinion of such a statement to show plainly on her face and Avarice laughed again and hugged her tighter, Kemi awkwardly lifted her arms to return the embrace.

Smoke filled the room and Kemi coughed as she waved her hand before her face to clear the air. She stood up quickly, moving back from the work bench and opening the vent near the ceiling, again. Another failure, the 3rd explosion today. Thankfully this one was only smoke, albeit noxious. Master Dante would be irate with her if she managed to blow up the still room. Luckily the room was quite sturdy.

She stood and stared at the results of her latest failure with disgust. The resultant goop was an ugly greyish-blue with green streaks. She picked up the plate that the sludge was on, and dumped it into the trash bin without hesitation. She brushed her hands on her pant legs with disgust and contemplated what had gone wrong.

She was wearing pants now, loose about her legs but tight at her hips and a loose black sleeveless shirt that fell to just above her navel. Both were black, as were her sleeveless gloves. Her hair had grown out slightly, and she wore it braided back from her face except for the longer sections she left hanging over her shoulders.

She had been trying to recreate her drugs, because once she did so she could begin to wean herself off by changing the compounds. But whenever she thought she had the components correct something exploded. She had not realized they were so volatile. She worried her bottom lip absentmindedly and looked through her notes and her files once more, looking for a nuance she may have overlooked although she had looked through them tens of times already.

She went back to the basics and brewed the basic potions that she needed to exist. She would work with this for now. Besides, she'd been here for long enough this day, she was needed out front, Master Dante had something for her to do. Training, exercise, indoctrination, whatever Master wanted to call it, was all the same. Kemi was aware that she was being indoctrinated, but she didn't exactly have any other choice, so she decided to go along with it.

She wasn't going in blind though, she was never going to trust any of them (well, except maybe Avarice to a point) but not even Lust, certainly not Envy, and never, ever, would she trust Master Dante. So she did as she was told, to a point, and learned all she could of her surroundings, and the other Homunculi.

Because one day, she would be free of the bounds of her chemical addictions, and then she would free herself from the prison of this manor. She'd kill anyone who tried to stop her. Even Avarice.

She came out of the still room, her arms full of several vials, bottles, and flasks. She juggled the delicate load carefully as she closed the door securely behind her. The bolt clicked home and she heard the lock slide into place. Satisfied she walked down the hall in the direction of her room.

It wasn't an overly large room, but it was nicer than her cell back at the lab. Everything here was nicer than the lab. She almost found herself enjoying her time here. Not too much, and not all at once, but gradually she found things that made her happy. Things like becoming stronger, sparing, killing, letting Avarice play with her, even stalking Envy brought her enjoyment. She tried not to dwell on why it brought her enjoyment, and lied to herself that it was just predator stalking predator until one let its guard down and was defeated.

Her room was on the second floor, in the back corner away from everyone else with a big window she could slip out of easily with a sturdy tree within leaping distance, and a big bed in an alcove so it was like a cave, and the door even had a lock on it. And nobody came here except Avarice. It was private, a sanctuary. And large enough that it in no way reminded her of her cell. It was even big enough that she could run through some katas here.

She went to her dresser (not that she had many changes of clothing) and put her vials on the top next to several boxes of miscellaneous stuff. She had some knives and hair sticks piled in one box, and some silly sentimental crap that Avarice had plied her with in another. Ribbons and such. She was too indebted to the woman to deny them outright, but nothing short of a direct order from Master Dante could persuade her to demean herself to the point of wearing them. Of course if she was to go undercover on some mission as a child (she was still very short after all, only 4'8" although Avarice had told her in one of her coherent moments that she'd probably hit a growth spurt soon) she'd wear them without complaint.

Next to the boxes was a pile of leather straps. She had a bandolier she could put some of the vials into should she need them on the go, but that was really only useful in long away missions, of which she'd only had two so far. So she was possibly due for another at some point…she thought about it and fit a few of the more essential alchemical concoctions into the specialized straps but left it here for now. Satisfied with her preparations she glanced around the room on a whim, and although a feeling of foreboding suddenly shivered down her spine and made her tail twitch she nodded her satisfaction that everything was as she had left it.

She turned on her heel and left her room, closed and locked her door, her own personal key in her pocket a moment later. Master Dante had specified her presence at half after 1 o'clock, and it was nearing that time now. She picked up the pace a bit but did not allow herself to appear rushed. As it was she arrived with a minute to spare. She took a moment to smooth her hair (not that she had suddenly developed any vanity, but when confronting one such as Madam Dante it did well to appear to be in absolute control of one's self) and took a deep breath. Her heart rate slowed to a slower than normal steady rate, and only then did she open the door. Sometimes the way Madam Dante loomed at her made her heart rate pick up, so in order to not appear to be afraid she always lowered her vitals beforehand. Not that she was afraid mind you, only that when a predator meets a bigger predator (even should that predator have no interest in eating the smaller) there was the instinctual fight/flight reaction.

She entered the long room and Madam Dante was already sitting in her throne-like chair. She appeared very regal, and very comforting and kind. What a ruse this woman had. She played the part like a master, thus why even one such as Kemi referred to her as such.

Kemi walked calmly down the length of the room, her steps silent on the deep blue rug that ran the length of the room from the double-doors to the throne. There were pillars along either side of the rug which Kemi was of the opinion may be merely ornamental. They certainly lent a certain air of majesty to the room at least. And they were carved beautifully, not that Kemi really had a mind to appreciate such a thing. But she did have an eye for details, and an analytical mind enough to assume they be art. She had no thought for these distractions at the moment, as she was concentrating on watching Madam Dante for any nuance or expression that may give her insight to the woman's mood.

As she came within five paces of the throne she stopped and bowed at the waist, one fist on her heart before straightening again and standing with her hands at her sides and her spine straight. Even her tail was still.

"Kemi, how have your trials been coming?" Dante asked in off-hand manner as she seemingly turned her attention to a spot on the arm of her throne. Although she appeared disinterested, Kemi knew that she was paying very close attention to Kemi's every twitch. Kemi was inwardly scornful of such a ploy; she had much too much self-control to be giving away anything by body language she did not wish telegraphed. She stood as though a statue while she answered her Mistress' query.

"As well as it has been, Master Dante. I believe I am coming closer with each batch, but something is still not right. I only blew things up slightly this time, and no structural damage was caused." She explained calmly. At first she had not wanted to share any such information with Master Dante, especially not something like a failure on her part, but by now she knew better than to try and dissimilate. The once was enough, her back still hurt on occasion, and it had been two weeks since that incident.

"I see. Perhaps some time away from the manor will give you a new perspective." Dante offered thoughtfully, as if it had just occurred to her. Kemi resisted the urge to snort; she knew very well that Master Dante would not call her here without having the plan set in stone. Even so, it was best to play along, even if both parties knew that the other was doing so.

"That sounds like a fine plan, Master, was there any specific location you had in mind to inspire me?" She asked as if she had only just come to the conclusion that she should leave the manor on occasion.

"Actually, there have been some developments that have been troubling me of late. Concerning the killing of Alchemists in Central. Not just State Alchemists either, any Alchemist. It seems to be the work of one person. I wish this situation investigated. And the matter dealt with if it seems feasible. Or possibly recruited." The last comment was added as an afterthought, and Kemi had the sense that it really was an afterthought, as though having spoken these thoughts aloud brought that inspiration. Kemi herself had heard Envy and Lust talking about the murders at some point, but she had not thought it a big deal at the time. Obviously Master Dante believed it of great importance.

"As you wish Master. I shall leave at once. I assume this to be a mission of such that I will not be expected to return until I succeed, so shall I prepare for a month at least?" Kemi asked as a formality, she already knew the answer. But her Master surprised her when she waved her hand to interrupt Kemi's flow of words.

"No, this is…different. I want you to check in often. Call once a week; come back for a meeting every two weeks. This person has killed at least five Alchemist that we know of. And the way he –I believe it to be a man from some reports made- does it is….unusual." Dante actually seemed worried, at the very least her brows were furrowed and her jaw was tight, her eyes dark. Kemi blinked once, her only concession to surprise. But Dante was not done.

"He…seems to be able to…explode them somehow. I want to know the exact method used. As to your regular returns, I doubt you could make enough of your potions to last for as long as this may take, and I would like you to make note of other points of interest while in Central…you know what I pertain to." She meant the Philosophers stone. Kemi was to at all times keep her ears open for even a hint of a rumor. She gave a curt not to signify that she understood, and when Dante waved her hand in a clear dismissal she bowed once more and turned to leave, a spring in her step and anticipation in her eyes.

AN/ So, here is another chapter after a long wait. Sorry y'all.