Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist is not mine. I'm just having fun with it.
Prologue: Quest's End
The complex of warehouses and loading yards was used to noise. The shouts of workers and foremen, the rumble of trucks and cranes and the thump of crates and boxes in motion were all frequent enough to be virtually engrained in the weathered brickwork.
At three fifteen in the morning, however, uproar was a more unusual quantity.
The cause of the unexpected nocturnal racket breathed a string of choice curses as he legged it along the narrow gap between two of the longer buildings, trying to go as fast as possible whilst stopping the sack slung over his shoulder from bouncing too much. For half a second, he wondered how the night watchmen passed their time when they weren't chasing innocent burglars and whether they would thank him for bringing a little excitement and exercise into an otherwise dreadfully dull job. The far more sensible part of his brain promptly kicked that idea out of the way and reminded him that he would not be particularly thankful for what they'd do to him if they caught up.
Careering around a corner, he chanced a backwards glance. Three bright, wildly swaying lanterns and a mass of bulky, angry looking shapes. Not a time to slow down then. Now where the hell was that…
The fence proved to be about as yielding as a cliff-face. It was pretty much as un-scalable too, much to the satisfaction of the four guards who skidded to a halt moments later to find their black-clothed prey backed into a corner.
"Well, well, well," growled the largest, swaggering neatly into cliché territory, "What do we have here? One little trapped rat."
Said rat squared his shoulders and levelled a fierce glare.
"Who are you calling so small a kitten could eat him?!"
The laughter was nasty. The thief's subsequent grin was nastier.
"Last laugh's mine, guys!"
With an exaggerated flourish, he stretched out his arms and clapped once, loudly.
A small quantity of air was displaced.
Other than that, nothing happened. The large cliché looked around.
"What was that? A round of applause for catching you?"
The thief stopped grinning and started blanching.
Not precisely on cue, a gangling figure dropped from the eves and used a quarterstaff to turn the assembled thugs into impromptu human skittles.
There followed several frenzied moments as the guards struggled to regain the advantage in the face of six feet of solid oak and a target who suddenly turned out to have an improbably powerful right hook.
"You were supposed to jump them when I clapped," the thief hissed when the last of the men stopped moving, "Not leave me looking like a complete moron!"
"Sorry about that, brother," his rescuer apologised meekly, "I slipped halfway up the drainpipe…"
"Ah, forget it. Guess it was a stupid thing to do anyway. Come on." He gingerly picked up the sack. "Our ride's waiting."
Side by side, they raced straight back up the alley.
Half a minute later, they were darting between ranks of brooding, silent lorries. The quarterstaff wielder signalled silently and swarmed up into the cab of a large flatbed. His companion carefully passed him the precious sack before starting to climb himself.
The shout ripped across the yard at parade-ground volume. He turned and saw more torches and more bulky shapes pounding towards them.
"Oh, f –"
With a harsh cough, the truck came to life. Another yell, indignant enough to be audible above the bone-rattling machinery, demanding they stop or be shot. He reacted with the instincts of someone who has spent a large part of their life ignoring requests made by people with guns, swinging past the cab and onto the truck's cargo deck. The almost feral grin returned when he saw what was stacked there.
Flinching as a warning round ricocheted off something close to his head, he hunched down and fumbled at his right wrist. Finding the catch, he twisted. There was a sharp sprang sound and a slender blade burst through the glove. It made short work of the ropes he could reach and then it was simply a case of throwing all his strength against the cargo…
In a cascade of copper pipes, a trail of semi-concussed guards and a cloud of gate fragments, the lorry exploded into the night.