Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist is not mine. I'm just tidying up.
A/N: And so it ends... Imagine, if you will, that the music is beginning to swell up in the background and the colours are softening. Also, don't forget: you should always watch the credits through 'til the end. Just in case...
Epilogue: History's Beginning
"So this is the site of the infamous 'Falconer Report', is it?"
The nondescript man in the brown suit looked at the field, unimpressed. He picked at his front teeth.
"It's a field."
"You noticed that?" his no-less mediocre companion asked sarcastically, "My, you are observant today."
Lieutenant Commander S. Dance, officer in the British Navy, currently attached to MI6, scowled and flung an encompassing arm out at the scene of pastoral peace before them.
"I mean, it's a field with nothing in it. Not precisely Dante's inferno."
Casting an inexpert but very sharp eye over the landscape, Wing Commander D Morris could only agree. He chuckled.
"It is rather like trying to believe Constable was actually painting Satanic rites, I suppose."
"Only slightly more absurd! The woman was quite obviously deranged."
"Oh, come now," his partner admonished, "It has been thirty years. More than enough time for the grass to grow. And it's not as if we don't have confirmation of some of what she reported."
"That there really was a Benedict Chambers and he really did disappear around that time? That the 'Templars' disbanded soon after? That the weather was exceptionally bad that summer? How conclusive. Obviously there were magic rituals being conducted under this very spot."
"Alchemic rituals," Morris corrected pedantically, "I think you will find that she specified –"
"Alchemic, magic, does it really make any difference whatsoever? It's all the same supernatural hogwash. And I still feel reasonably confident that we can report that after thrity years there is still no sign of anything that might indicate that the world nearly ended here."
"Why would there be?" a voice asked from behind the two men, "We buried it. It was the least we could do."
Startled, they turned, Dance's hand going to his gun. An old man, wizened and stooped, was peering over the fence, his gnarled hands resting on a walking stick. He scrutinised them thoughtfully.
"I'm sorry," he croaked after a while, "If I startled you. I thought you would have heard me coming."
Dance released his weapon.
"English, eh?" There was a note of amusement in the statement. "Yes, well, she was, wasn't she?"
"Who was?" Morris politely inquired, stepping forward.
"Eh? Heh. 'Lizabeth. She was beautiful, too. Even after he'd hurt her so badly. Even after what happened..."
He trailed off, staring at the field. The wind ruffled his wispy hair. Dance frowned.
"What do you mean? After what happened?"
The old man wheezed, laughing at a joke only he had heard.
"What happened? She told you all about it, didn't she? In her report? That's why you're here. Checking up. Took you long enough. Suppose you thought she was mad, no? Heh. Maybe she was. Maybe we all were. Would've made sense. After what happened..." He rounded on them suddenly, gripped by the fever of his memories. "What happened here? Something to cure anyone of wanting to harm a fly for the rest of his life, that's what. Hell happened here, gentlemen. Demons came. The heavens caved open. Saints fought...sinners died...and when the dust had settled, it was as if it had never been. 'Cept for what we had to bury. That's what. Not that you'll believe it. You think she was talking about magic and so it's nonsense. Maybe it was. Magic, I mean. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was just science that could do anything. Could have been either. I wouldn't know the difference. Would you? But you weren't there, were you? You didn't see it all. So you'll never believe it."
Huffing, he took a firmer grip on his stick and started to walk off, setting a surprisingly brisk pace. Dance and Moris exchanged looks.
"Excuse me, sir?" Moris called after him.
The man ground to a halt and glanced back.
"What's your name?" Dance asked.
Again, this seemed to be a source of great amusement to the old codger.
When the laughter had petered out, an odd seriousness came over him.
"My name?" he asked back, "Now that's a thing. I haven't had a real name for longer than I can remember. Maybe I never had one at all. Maybe. Don't suppose it matters. Tell 'em you met Cain. Tell 'em they should've believed her. But that maybe it's better that they didn't. Good day, gentlemen."
And with that, he hobbled away, leaving the men from the British Government standing in an empty field.
(A round of applause for each of these, if you please!)
Fullmetal Alchemist – The brilliant Hiromu Arakawa
This Story – That would be me (Don't bother with the applause here)
Canonical Characters – Also Hiromu Arakawa
Original Characters – Um, me again...
Proof Reading – The wonderful Dailenna & the lovely thewiseferret
Word Processing – The dreaded Microsoft Word and the surprisingly well-behaved OpenOffice
Visuals – The many people who live at the back of my head and Won't Shut Up
Music – Mainly Youtube
Biscuits – Almost exclusively McVitie's
With Special Thanks To – Everyone who's struggled through this rambling monster of a story
(An extra loud round of applause for all of you!)
Now, you're probably wondering why the heck a bit of fan fiction requires credits beyond the usual disclaimer that the original concept is absolutely not anything to do with the person writing it.
Well, the reason is very simple.
No, really, it is.
Want to know?
Ah, now, well, you see...
If you don't have credits, how can you have a post-credits sequence?
Preview: Snow Fall
The forest creaked and groaned, frozen branches clattering against each other. The snow underfoot was the crunchy kind, all fluffy looking until you actually stepped in and found that it really was the ice equivalent of popcorn. A bird cawed somewhere overhead, presumably expressing its disgust at the unannounced winter.
It paid no attention to the two figures struggling uphill below the canopy.
The leader looked back, annoyed.
"You're the one who said we shouldn't be out here too long!" he retorted.
"But I didn't mean you had to go so fast you'd hurt yourself!" The other youth pulled his hat down so that it was a little tighter around his ears. "You're still weak!"
"I can walk, can't I? And you can't check the crop all by yourself, you know that."
"I could have done! And if you don't take things slower, I'm going to have to!"
"For God's sake, I'm not an invalid!"
Fletcher Tringham finally overtook his older brother and planted himself firmly in his way.
"If you hurt yourself, how am I going to get you home on my own? In this?" He waved at the snow. "I let you come out with me. Let me look after you, huh?"
Russell exhaled, blowing out a burst of steam. With a gloved hand, he brushed his blonde hair out of his eyes and pouted. At length, he relented.
"Alright, alright. I'll slow down. You don't have to keep being such a mother hen though."
"If I didn't, you'd probably have poisoned yourself by now. Or alchemised you hand off. Or broken you neck. Or –"
"Yeah, yeah." Russell pushed past him. "Are we going up to the fields or not?"
Grinning, Fletcher kept up at his side. Together, they trudged on through the cold.
"It's not as if the crop isn't going to be ruined anyway," Russell grumbled.
"Some of them might be ok," Fletcher reasoned, "The ones that had some shelter."
"Last time I checked, most plants weren't good at surviving freak sub-zero temperatures."
"It only came down a few days ago..."
"Isn't there a cure for optimism yet?"
"Just because you're getting grumpy in your old age."
"If you didn't waste so much time talking, you'd keep up easier. That and – what was that?"
They stopped. Fletcher looked round.
"What was what?"
"I thought I heard something..."
"No..." Russell was frowning. "Something else."
"Like what? I didn't hear anything."
"I don't know! And with those stupid flaps over your ears, that's not really surprising."
"Hey!" Fletcher clutched his hat protectively. "I like them. They keep my ears warm." He took it off and cocked his head to the side. "I still don't hear anything."
"It's stopped now."
"What was it?"
"I told you, I don't know!" Stuffing his hands in his pockets, Russell glared at the trees. "Like...a thump, maybe. Like something hitting the ground."
"Maybe you've started hearing things?"
"I didn't imagine it!" He surveyed the forest one more time then shook his head. "Or maybe I did. I don't know. Come on. We'll never get to the field at this rate."
Fletcher eyed him anxiously.
"If you're sure..."
"Of course I am! Come...on..."
Ignoring his brother's urgent grip on his arm, Russell pointed.
"Can you see that?"
Following the finger, Fletcher found himself looking down a slope that led off the one ridge they were climbing. The trees thinned out there, giving way to a long clearing that ended in more woods.
"There, down there. Something lying in the snow."
"Where? I – oh!"
There was something down there, roughly two thirds of the way along, a dark shape against the white background.
"What is it?" he wondered
"Only one way to find out!" Russell whooped and set off downhill at a flat out run.
"Hey!" Fletcher cried, "Come back!"
It was halfway down that Russell began to regret trying to prove that he wasn't crippled for life. His chest felt stupidly constricted and he was huffing and puffing like an old man. He knew it was going to turn out to be a log and he could already hear Fletcher lecturing him on taking it easy. Damned alchemy plague. Why did he have to get it? Why did the weather have to start thinking it was mid-winter when it wasn't even autumn yet? Why were they stuck up in the mountains, looking after a project that had been ruined?
By the time he reached the clearing, he had successfully worked out answers to precisely none of these questions.
Fletcher caught up as his brother staggered the last few feet towards the thing in the snow.
"You idiot," he admonished tiredly, "What did you do that for?"
Russell did not reply. He was too busy staring at the thing. Fletcher looked at it. And then he was staring as well.
The man lay on his back, a mane of golden hair spread out around his head. His eyes were shut, his chest hardly moving. He was wearing ripped trousers and a sleeveless maroon vest. Dirt covered his skin and face, which was also covered with a few days worth of stubble. Fresh bruises stood out over his forehead and cheeks. He only had one arm. All that was attached to his right shoulder was a few chunks of blackened metal. His left leg ended at the knee, with the same kind of ruined machinery.
"Am I seeing this?" Russell murmured.
He passed a hand over his eyes, rubbing at them furiously. The apparition did not vanish. He took a step back, as if afraid it was going to jump up and bite him.
"I can't be seeing this."
"You are," Fletcher whispered, having blinked and rubbed his own eyes, "Brother...I think...it's Ed."
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Long Walk Home