Tigger: Aw man I can't believe we came in second.
Ed: Well if you hadn't choked on that sparkle.
Tigger: They were everywhere! What was I supposed to do?
Ed: React like a normal human being?
Tigger: Psh never.
Al: So Tigger do we win anything for beating the challenge?
Tigger: A lifetime supply of ammo and armor polish as long as you're stuck here?
Hawkeye: Better than nothing.
Mustang: Why are we competing in this anyway?
Tigger: Cause you don't have a choice.
Amy: Sad but true.
Winry: Major Armstrong can you put us down now? The challenge is over.
Armstrong: Most certainly ladies.
Hughes: Tigger, what's the second challenge?
Tigger: MONKEYS IN A BARREL!
In a matter of minutes the group was ready to go. Mason was staying behind to watch the shop and everyone else had changed clothes. Apparently the club was in the darker part of town and Izumi and Sig were looking the part. Izumi was dressed in a long slinky black dress, while Sig had ditched his usual apron and donned on a fearsome leather jacket. Amy didn't bother to dress the part, instead she prepared for battle. Amy was wearing a long-sleeved dark blue shirt with a black tank-top thrown over it and some jean shorts. She laced her boots tightly, jammed her hat on, and stuck her hammer in the tool belt around her waist. Izumi told Amy she was to stay behind Sig until she was called.
As the trio walked towards the bar Amy had a chance to ponder. What was Al doing at this club or bar or whatever it was? He certainly didn't go there of his own free will. Al couldn't drink, he didn't like to pick up women, and he wasn't the kind of person to go looking for trouble. The only reason Al would have gone is if the Philosopher's stone was somehow involved, and then he would have called Ed and told Amy. So it looked like Al had been forced to go. Maybe they shouldn't have laughed at the kidnapping theory, Amy thought with a surge of guilt. But who would kidnap Al? Why? What would they want from him? He looked like a man in a suit of armor. Weird but nothing of value. Unless, Amy stomach clenched tightly, perhaps these people were after Ed or actually knew something about Al's condition.
"No point in worrying till we get there," Amy told herself.
Still Amy couldn't stop the dread that filled her stomach. This "Devil's Nest" was certainly not a nice place and Amy figured they would all be fighting to get Al back. Honestly she was more worried about Al then her fighting skills, but this was Amy's first time ever fighting someone since her teaching. She hoped all that sparring paid off. All too soon, they were there.
Izumi stepped forward and Amy stood behind Sig following orders. She could hear Izumi talking and several men responded. Suddenly the sound of thudding bodies could be heard. Amy tensed up and reached for her hammer. Izumi didn't shout the order and Sig didn't move, so Amy stayed still. She could see some sparks of alchemy being performed and then a new voice entered the scene. Suddenly Sig tensed up. He ran forward and punched some giant man with creepy fangs in the face. Amy didn't move, no one seemed to notice her yet.
"Don't flirt with my wife!" Sig yelled punching the man over and over again in the face.
Amy winced slightly, she knew how much Sig's punches hurt.
"Now who is going to answer me?" Izumi asked coolly.
"Don't underestimate us!" the men shouted in response and tried to attack Izumi and Sig.
Izumi nodded towards Amy and then the fight began. Izumi was smacking people to the side before they could lay a hand on her and Sig used the guy he was punching earlier as a weapon. Amy ran forward, used Sig's back as a springboard, and brought her hammer down on someone's head once. The man crumpled forwards, but Amy grabbed his head and slammed his stomach down into her knee. Then she tossed him to the side.
"This is actually kind of fun."
One man tried to swipe at Amy with his knife and Amy swung her hammer into his head so he spun off his feet and into Izumi's fist. The battle was over very quickly and Izumi scooped up the man who Sig had beat up earlier.
"Where's the armored kid?" she demanded.
"Like I'm going to tell you," the man replied.
Which was a very stupid response in Amy's opinion cause Izumi could literally beat the shit out of him. Instead Izumi opened up her mouth and threw up blood all over the man.
"Okay that's a little gross," Amy thought.
"I'll talk! I'll talk!" the man screamed.
The man confessed Al was being held in the basement. Izumi told Sig to guard the first floor and take care of anyone who tries to come after her. Amy was sent upstairs to round up anybody who escaped Izumi's wrath. Izumi was heading towards the basement. Amy almost felt sorry for the men down there, almost. As it turns out, they had kidnapped Al. Amy felt almost as pissed as Izumi.
What right did they to take Al? Al was a kind soul and would have helped them if they asked! Instead they had threatened him and taken him by force. They were going to pay big time. Amy felt the adrenaline and anger burning in her veins. Unfortunately the upstairs part of the club seemed empty as Amy explored it. There just a lot of bedrooms with people too hung over to realize what was going on. Amy had a little too much fun flicking the lights on and off and talking loudly at them. Other than that there was no real threat. That is until Amy turned the corner and saw a giant man emerging from his room. He was almost as big as Mr. Curtis and had thick leathery skin. He was hunched over, but when he spotted Amy, he grinned wickedly. Amy grabbed her hammer.
"So you're one of the intruders," the man laughed in a deep voice, "This is pathetic. I was woken up to take care of a kid."
"You took someone important to me," Amy announced in a voice a lot braver than she actually felt.
"The armored kid?" the man asked, "You should have checked your facts before you came to visit us, sweetie."
The man's body began to shift and tremble. Amy firmly stood her ground although she was growing more and more worried.
"This is called the Devil's Nest, because only creatures the Devil could love live here," the man taunted.
The bump on the man's forehead transformed into a horn and his large girth seemed to only tighten into muscle. His nose and jaw began to jut out, becoming somewhat snout-like. His eyes spread further on his head and the horn slid down till it was right above his nose. The whole process was rather disturbing, but Amy couldn't tear her eyes away as the man transformed.
"We're chimeras." the man finished, tearing off his jacket to make room for the large shoulders he had grown.
"Chimeras?!" Amy squeaked.
She thought that other than Nina and Alexander, people stuck to transforming animals together. This man was clearly not all animal, although a very large part of him seemed to be.
"Where the hell did they get a rhino in Amestrsis anyway?' Amy thought to herself, "Talk about geographically inaccurate."
The man hunched over and began to charge forward. Realizing the man's intention, to stab her through the stomach with his horn, Amy split. She knew the man would lose speed turning, so Amy led a wild goose chase. Her thoughts were tumbling round and round as she tried to recall all the fighting advice she had been given, but it all drifted out of her head when she turned and saw the rhino-man gaining speed.
"My first legit fight and I am fighting a chimera!" Amy thought to herself, "Someone up there has a cruel sense of humor!"
The man must have weighed a lot because his footsteps thundered behind Amy as she grabbed another corner and swung herself around. The man couldn't stop himself in time and smashed into the wall. His horn went straight through it and Amy didn't stick around to see how long it would take him to pull it out. Amy rounded another corner and came to a dead end. She couldn't go back and there were no other hallways. She was going to have to stand-off against the rhino-man. Amy stared at the dead end wanting to cry. She was going to be squashed like a bug by the giant rhino-man!
"I am not going to panic! I am not panicking. I need a plan. I'll have a plan. Holy bananas! I have a plan!"
Amy ran down to the end of the hallway and waited till he came. The wait seemed to last forever as Amy heard the man's thundering footsteps come closer and closer. Her stomach was full of nervous butterflies and Amy felt like she was going to hurl. Her hands slipped slightly on the hammer and Amy tightened her grip until her knuckles turned white.
"Aw what's a matter little girl?" she heard him taunting, "Get lost?"
Amy took a deep breath. She had been taught to take down bigger men. She could handle this. Her fighting style was specifically designed to dodge and then deliver a crumbling blow. Amy could do back-flips. Amy could do jumps. Amy could punch and kick. She could fight. She just needed the man to gain enough velocity. Finally the rhino-man turned the corner.
"Trapped like a rat," the man taunted, "No place to go."
"I could take you," Amy announced.
"LIAR!" her brain screamed at her. Amy ignored it.
"Oh really?" the man growled, "Well bring it on little girl."
The man charged forward. Amy held her breath. She was waiting. He needed to be a little closer. The tension in the air was unbelievable. A little bit more. Her palms felt slick with sweat. A little bit more. She forgot how to breathe! Now! Amy leapt up into the air. The man was charging too fast to stop and couldn't react fast enough when Amy smashed her hammer into his head. This caused the man, who was top-heavy to begin with, to crash into the floor. Amy's momentum was thrown off by her downward swing, and she tumbled over the man's head as he was soaring towards the floor. Her foot got caught on the back of his shirt and then the unexpected happened. Amy expected for the rhino-man to hit the floor and be knocked out from the hammer and the impact of his own velocity. What she didn't expect was for the man to hit the floor hard enough to break it.
"Holy!" Amy never finished as she felt the sudden drop.
She wrangled her foot free the man's shirt, but had to cling on tightly as the man dove through the floor and was quickly approaching another floor. Amy realized at this speed, the man would continue to fall head first until he hit the basement where the floor would stop his sudden velocity and Amy's too.
"Not good! Not good! I need something to absorb the impact!"
Amy frantically pulled up on the man's shirt. He basically belly-flopped through the other floor. The floor only gave resistance for less than a second before breaking. In a shower of splintered wood, the rhino-man smacked into the basement floor, belly first. The sudden drop in velocity jerked Amy's joints painfully, but the rhino-man has absorbed most of the impact. Amy quickly let go of the man's shirt. She was dizzy. She was nauseous. She never wanted to repeat that incident ever again in her life, but she had done it! Amy Kishi had successfully brought down rhino-man!
"Amy: 1 Rhinos: 0," Amy thought smugly to herself despite her trembling limbs.
"Amy!" a voice called.
Amy's head shot up recognizing Al's voice. Her internal victory was cut short as she surveyed the room around her. The room was littered with unconscious bodies with various injuries. Izumi was standing across from some man she had never seen before and Al was tied up in a corner. Amy had a vague feeling she had walked in (or dropped in) on something important.
"Did I interrupt something?" Amy asked, looking between Izumi and man she was facing.
The man started laughing at Amy's question and Amy managed to get a good look at him. He had short black hair spiked up, a no-sleeve jacket with a white fur collar, a black tank top, and black pants. The man was defiantly ripped as he showed some considerable muscle, but the creepiest thing about him had to be his red eyes.
"Nice entrance kid," the man smirked once he got a hold of himself.
"Uhh thanks," Amy said not sure exactly what she was supposed to do.
"Amy," Izumi barked, "Free Al. We're going home."
Amy got up, grabbed her hammer, and was just about to head over to Al when she was interrupted.
"He's staying here," the man smirked holding out his arm in a motion to stop Amy.
Amy stopped and looked back at Izumi.
"I'm taking him home," Izumi said stepping in front of the man.
Amy decided that she needed to take several quick steps back.
"Is that so?" the man asked Izumi.
Izumi punched the man in the face. There was a loud cracking sound. It wasn't the man's jaw though. It was Izumi's hand. The man's face had turned black where Izumi was going to punch him and now Izumi's hand was bleeding. Something was terribly wrong here.
"Mrs. Curtis!" Amy called out panicked.
She had never ever seen Izumi injured. Amy thought Ed and Al were good fighters but Izumi was a whole other level. Ed and Al's best could barely scratch her. So to see this one man, this strange man, hurt Izumi was possibly the most frightening thing Amy had witnessed.
"You really do this stuff without warning," the man chuckled.
The man attempted to strike Izumi, but she blocked him. The two quickly pulled apart, retreating slightly.
"I don't like fighting women," the man said holding up his now black hand.
"That's an interesting body you've got there," Izumi said coolly.
"I suppose," the man shrugged as the blackness climbed up the rest of his skin, "You're not going to hurt me with that kind of attack when my skin is like this."
"Where's Brother?" Al asked.
"He's not back yet," Izumi replied surprised at Al's interruption.
Amy was watching the whole thing intently, her head volleying from person to person. She still didn't really understand what was going on, but if she was to guess the man Izumi was fighting was the boss. He was also the guy who kidnapped Al or at least ordered the kidnapping of Al. He was also had skin as hard as rocks. Amy supposed she had seen weirder things. Suddenly someone grabbed her ankle. Amy twisted quickly, delivering a swift kick to the person's face.
"Let go!" she screamed as she swung her hammer at the man's face.
The man let go of her ankle, only to be hit with Amy's hammer and sent flying into the wall. He dropped to the ground, unconscious. Amy turned red at her outburst and quickly looked back at the argument taking place.
"I thought your brother was dead," the man asked Al, ignoring Amy's brutal beating of his henchmen.
"I didn't say he was dead," Al protested, "Teacher, this person is a homunculus!"
"Hey don't go spilling my secrets so easily," the man told Al, although he didn't seem all that upset about it to be honest.
"A homunculus?" Izumi looked confused.
Amy wasn't though, well at least not about the homunculus part. What she was confused about was why this one was alone. She thought they worked in groups. Lust and Envy and Gluttony were always seen together or at least in some combination of teamwork. Why was this one not paired up with another sin or two?
"He has information on how we can get our bodies back," Al said frantically, "I have to tell Brother!"
"He's really a homunculus?" Izumi asked stunned.
"Why would you want your body back?" the homunculus asked Al, "This one is so nice."
"No it's not!" Al shouted.
"So all I have to do is beat the information out of him?" Izumi clarified pointing at the homunculus with her bleeding hand.
"Well I suppose," Al mumbled, "Wait! Teacher your injury looks serious!"
"And I don't like to hit girls," the homunculus muttered.
"Let's just kill her!" one of the henchmen who recovered shouted.
Izumi punched him in the face with her good hand.
"Dorchette!" the other henchmen shouted, but no one else paid him any attention.
Amy glanced over at the recovering henchmen and wondered if she should do something about them. Besides Dorchette and the guy from earlier, no one else seemed inclined to interrupt, so Amy let it be although she held up her hammer threateningly to some guy covered in bandages who got too close to her.
"Enough talking!" the homunculus growled, "I'm going to tell him how to make a homunculus and they're going to tell me how to transmute a soul. How's that?"
"A deal," Izumi growled.
"Question," Amy interrupted holding up her hand like she was in school.
"The concept is simple," Greed proclaimed, "No questioned needed."
"What about the other homunculi?" Amy asked anyway.
It had to be asked really. What if this was all a trap for Al? Amy knew Al wanted his body back, but he had to be careful.
"Other homunculi?" Izumi questioned.
"Yeah," Amy continued, "You know the one with spikey green hair, he kind of looks like a palm tree, and the woman with big boobs and long nails."
Amy purposefully left out the names, testing the homunculus's reaction.
The homunculus started laughing again. Amy sweatdropped a little, she wished he would take things seriously.
"A palm tree?" the homunculus howled slapping his knee, "That's the best description of Envy I've ever heard."
"Mr. Greed sir," one of the henchmen spoke up.
At least Amy had a name now.
"Right," Greed nodded towards his henchmen, "Let's just say I've split with those other guys. They didn't see things my way. Trust me, the only homunculus Alphonse will have to deal with is me."
"We don't trust you," Izumi spat out.
"Well you've got no choice but to," Greed smirked.
"I can still just beat the answers out of you," Izumi growled.
"Teacher!" Al begged, "Teacher, please your injured. Please go home and tell Brother when he comes back."
Izumi glanced at Al. Her poor student. The little boy who had once begged on his hands and knees for her to be his teacher. She remembered the pleading eyes he gave her. Izumi wanted to see those eyes again.
"Fine!" Izumi eyes turned dark and angry, "But if a single one of your harms him THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY!"
With that Izumi stormed out. Amy glanced back between Al and the door Izumi had just left through unsure of what to do. She knew reasonably she should leave too, but they had spent so much time and effort getting here! It didn't feel right to leave Al! Not all alone and not in a place like this.
"You should leave too, Amy," Al urged her.
Amy felt sick at the idea of leaving Al behind. She didn't want to. But what choice did she have? Al wasn't going to come willingly and they weren't going to let him go.
"I've gotten stronger but I'm still weak," Amy thought to herself angrily.
She wanted to say something to Al. She wanted to yell at him over his stupidity. She wanted to comfort him. Her throat constricted and no words left her mouth. Amy snapped her jaw shut and nodded before walking as calmly as she could out the door. She could feel everyone's eyes on her. Where had her courage gone? Where had her awesome badness gone? Wasn't she the girl who burst through the ceiling? Why was she walking away like a dog with its tail between its legs? She had no reason to be ashamed. She hadn't lost. She was just respecting Al's wishes…right? Right?
Amy followed Izumi and Sig back to the house. The walk was silent. Izumi stormed upstairs, angrily slamming her door. Sig gave Mason a brief explanation and then hurried after his wife with the first aid kit. Amy could briefly hear some shouting and something breaking as Sig opened the door, but soon the sounds were muffled again. Amy had yet to move from the doorway. She just felt lost and confused. Now what? They just wait. They just sit around and wait for Ed? In this sad angry household? When who knows what could be happening to Al?
"Amy, you should go rest," Mason told her quietly, "It's been a long day."
Amy nodded and went upstairs. She tried everything to get her mind off Al. She showered and ate and cleaned and exercised, but she kept catching herself staring off in the direction of the bar. Her thoughts were endless circles. It was worse than the previous night! Now she knew exactly what was happening to Al. She knew where he was and who was holding him and why they had him, but she couldn't do a thing. Because Al told her not to. Because she was told to back down. Because she followed Izumi out the door. Even though they had all asked her, no one had forced Amy to leave. Amy had left Al on his own. It was her inability to stand on her own two feet. She could have at least tried!
Amy snapped. She felt rage fuel her. She was angry at everybody and everything. Al for not wanting to leave. Izumi for leaving him. Greed for taking him. Ed for not being here when he was needed. Herself, for not even trying. Well that was it! No more! Screw Al and screw those guys. Al was her friend. Ed, Al, and Winry were the most important people Amy had in this world. How dare they take Al from her?! How dare they take Al against his will?! How dare she let herself leave him behind! No more! Amy was going to save Al whether he liked it or not!
Amy: The bananas is monkey in a barrel?
Tigger: I am going to put all of us in a giant barrel filled with monkeys and other things and we have to climb our way out.
Mustang: That's a dumb idea.
Ed: That's what I said.
Tigger: Excuse me partner of mine but aren't you supposed to support me? After all isn't this whole thing supposed to show how we can work together?
Ed: Which would be so much easier if you were a rational person.
Tigger: You are stuck in my brain so you better get used to it.
Armstrong: I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO PARTICIPATE IN ANOTHER MATCH TO DETERMINE THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY PRIDE!
Tigger: So it's agreed.
Tigger: No objections! Hughes!
Hughes: Right! LET THE SECOND ROUND COMMENCE!