From a young age, Zolf J. Kimblee had two passions.
The most well-known one was murder.
Ever since he was a boy, Kimblee enjoyed killing things, for the simple pleasure of knowing that he has the power to end their lives at a whim. It made him feel like a king, like a god. Small animals in his neighborhood quickly learned not to venture into the Kimblee family's backyard unless they wished to be squashed, trampled, impaled on sticks, or any number of other gruesome deaths that young Zolf could imagine.
Perhaps it was only fate that Kimblee, at the age of thirty, chose to take the State Alchemist exam and join the ranks of the Amestrian military. Here was a profession that Kimblee could really sink his teeth into—a profession in which it was almost certain that he would have to kill hundreds of people. He just had to wait until the proper moment arose, and he could experience death on a scale the likes of which he had never seen. In the meantime, he passed the alchemy exam and bided his time in research. As a state alchemist, he was obliged to encode his notes so some lesser researcher wouldn't steal his work; this was where his second great love came in.
Zolf J. Kimblee's second passion was music.
He wrote his first piece when he was eight ("Minuet in C for a Squashed Frog")—a trivial little work, hardly a page in length. Still, it was a start. It always fascinated him how the tiny, dancing dots scattered along the stark lines of a musical staff could contain something as beautiful, something as intense as a song or a waltz or a symphony. He'd taken piano lessons for several years beforehand; he now applied himself to learning the violin. He studied notation, theory, composition…and finally, assembled his impressive knowledge of music into a code that would keep his alchemic secrets safe.
It was with great gusto that he wrote his Sonata in G minor that outlined the derivation of combustible materials from organics; with fervor bordering on euphoria he penned a violin concerto that described the precise creation and operation of a pair of transmutation circles that would create explosions on command. (Afterwards, in a fit of insane glee, he had had them tattooed on the palms of his hands so he could enjoy his new creation whenever he wanted to. In retrospect, a bad move. He had to put up with probing questions from his superiors for several weeks afterwards, and old man Comanche had taken his example and tattooed the entire surface of his palms, including his fingers, with complex alchemical runes and figures. Bloody ostentatious copycat.)
And then, then Kimblee's dream came true: the Fuhrer announced the launching of the Ishbal Annihilation Campaign. Kimblee knew something strange was afoot from the moment the orders came through (he wasn't naïve like that Mustang kid, or senile like Comanche, or just plain messed up in the head like Armstrong) but he wasn't complaining. When again would he have the chance to exercise his power over real human beings, hear the screams and the wails and know that he was killing not insects, not animals, but people?
So he packed up his bags, dressed in his field uniform, and headed out to the Eastern front.
His days were filled with blood and gore, the rattle of gunfire, the scent of gunpowder and sand, and the screams and gasps of dying soldiers and even more dying Ishbalans. His nights were spent in deep concentration, attempting to piece together his myriad bits of research into one complete document. A mere portfolio was too disordered for him; he needed to condense everything into one orderly work. It began to gnaw at him. Every day, he felt a little less pleasure at every wail of terror, knowing that his masterpiece was lying in his tent, neglected and unfinished.
It was as if some god had heard his prayers (not that Kimblee believed in any gods. It was an interesting sort of concept, though, religion. He'd have to try it sometime). General Greene called him in one day to meet some minor State Alchemist named Marcoh—a real wet blanket if Kimblee had ever seen one—and discuss something he called "experimental alchemic augmentation for combat purposes." Kimblee couldn't help but smile to himself when he received that missive, because he knew that behind all that fancy twaddle was a road leading direct to death.
He'd just never imagined that wet-blanket-Marcoh could have produced anything like the Philosopher's Stone.
Kimblee was cautious the first time he used it. Never again, he thought. The power it supplied was enough to keep a hundred, a thousand Kimblees high on pure euphoria for a lifetime. Now, Kimblee's days were full of the searing burn of the Stone between his teeth and the terrible, wonderful, echoing KABOOM of explosion after explosion after explosion. And his nights? Oh, his nights, every night, were now filled to the brim with music.
It was as if the Stone had driven through some sort of barrier within him. Music fairly flowed from his pen, dripped from his fingertips, leaked from his mouth when he opened it to speak. His research began to fit together neatly, and Kimblee soon decided one movement wasn't enough to contain it all—he needed two, three, a whole symphony to cover everything, a symphony that sang of chaos and destruction and madness and everything Kimblee held dear. He began adding artistic flourishes to it to remind him of his good times in Ishbal—screams of fear became the solemn intonation of a full choir, death gasps turned into mellow oboe notes, gunfire to pizzicato, and explosions to the deep rumble of timpani.
He composed faster and faster, zipping through the first and second movements, starting the minuet and trio in great good spirits, eager to finish but still savoring the writing.
The general summoned Kimblee again on a night much like all the rest. Kimblee strolled into the conference room, humming a few measures from the andante of his symphony. He offered the highest praise to his Philosopher's Stone, and the higher-ups seemed quite pleased with his success.
Then they asked him to return the Stone.
What? How could he return it? Its power was intoxicating—how could a non-alchemist ever understand the breathtaking surge it granted, the way its energy sang through his veins, and the inspiration it put into his music, his music, his soul, his heart—
Kimblee decided to give his so-called "higher-ups" a little taste of what the Stone gave him. For that, he was thrown in prison with a life sentence.
Kimblee felt no rage towards his captors (they'd never used it, they didn't understand), but neither did he feel remorse for what he had done (remorse was for weaklings who didn't have the stomach to really use the power they had). All he felt was frustration. He'd been so close, dammit! Just a movement and a bit more, and his symphony—his masterwork—would have been done! And here he was, locked in a cell, hands cuffed securely, with no notes, no research, not even a paper and pen.
At least, he thought, as his throat tightened and he spat something into his hand. He opened his fingers slowly, revealing a sliver of something shining and crimson red, like a clot of blood.
At least I still have my muse.
So he waited in his cell. And waited. And occasionally brought up his lovely, lovely Philosopher's Stone and hummed passages he was working on to it.
He would be patient. Hadn't he waited all those years for Ishbal? He could wait again now. Sometime soon he would be free again, free to finish his masterpiece, free to show his power to all. Until then he would wait. And plan. And work on his symphony—it had to be perfect, didn't it, on that day that would come, on the Promised Day. It would be perfect. It had to be.
For what was Kimblee if not a virtuoso of destruction?
(A/N: Aw, Kimblee. You're such a creepy bastard.)