Portrait

Ch. 1: Execution

Author's Note: Hello, welcome to Portrait. Thanks for clicking! Just some things before you read:

This fic contains: Language, Violence, Sadism, Gore, Sexual Content, Suggested Incest (not Elricest), AU, Mind Fuck, Scary Images (?), OCs (six of 'em, and then some random people), Spoilers Through Chapter 40 (spoiler!hints of events up to chapter 102) and Death (all capitalized).

Timeline is a little after the fight with Lust, but I waved a magic wand over Mustang's cauterization wounds because he needs his body free for further abuse in this. Pairings stick the rather obvious manga!canon, but otherwise, Roy-tachi gets onesiders, and there is suggested incest between the homunculi.

It's also worth taking note that I messed up: Envy's usual disguise is at the rank of Major General, not Brigadier General. But I guess it doesn't matter too much, so there.

Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist, and I don't want to. It seems like a lot of work and I don't know how I could possibly live up to its awesomeness.


Footsteps echoed against the asphalted pavement, one after the other pounding heartbeats into the earth. A black cloak had been thrust over the stars and moon since the day had set, leaving a simple line of lampposts to illuminate the night. This made it all the more difficult for him to tread the streets at night, and to make matters worse, it seemed as though his own physicality was the only one being restricted. While such wouldn't have proved to be a problem on any other evening, this occasion had one particular difference: he was leading a line of angry soldiers. At the front of the wave, himself, the prison escapee; behind the man washed forth a mass of blue—eleven men, he counted, all branded by the same arms and uniform that had restrained him for so long—and at the very back swept a trail of yellow squares; windows being lit up in response to the commotion, cranky citizens leaning out.

"Freeze, Gurner!" an official shouted, and the rest followed up the authority with various counterparts of the word and a curse or so. At the level of his exhaustion, everything just seemed to blur together. But the chase was prolonged still, seconds bestowed onto the prison with each corner cut, each wall slid past, and each breath stuffed down his parched-out throat.

Gurner sped around an apartment complex and traveled deep within the proceeding alley. Now he could hear a few cars coming his way, and more men tailing the vehicles.

"Five minutes." Gurner spoke as if vomiting his words. "There has to be another way." A familiar street sign came into view just beyond the alley's end, swallowed in streetlights and golden windows of the awakened. He began to proceed towards the pole with a sprint more powerful than he presented to his pursuers, when a silhouette eased its way in front of Gurner's path. The outline seemed identical to that of the soldiers behind him, but no weapon was visible. Instead, he stood alone, his right hand extended out. Gurner, upon seeing this hand, skidded to a stop.

"This is as far as you go, Rudolph Gurner," the figure said. His fingers snapped forward, a thin line of red leaped out, and an explosion consumed the fugitive. Several soldiers noticed the explosion and circled the corresponding area, in case the man was to survive. The fire died down quickly and burned bits and pieces of trash off to the sides of the alley. At first, it seemed as though the flames had destroyed their target, but as the smoke cleared over, a shadow of a being became visible. When the alley was clear, it was revealed that Gurner's entirety remained unharmed, right down to the threads of his prison jumpsuit.

The man's physical features were also put to light. He was hunched over, shaking a tad with each breath drawn. Wrinkles rippled across his skin as though they had been whipped into place, and liver spots were bleeding down each crease. His face was tormented in a similar fashion, hair grayed and falling, and from his mouth babbled a sheet of drying blood, a black tongue swelling just behind it. He appeared as though he was in his eighties, sinking into the ground. The man adjacent to him, observing his prey through dark eyes and spikes of pitch-black hair, seemed disgusted.

Gurner opened his mouth to speak, but had to wait for a coughing fit before starting. "So this is the power of the Flame Alchemist?" he asked. "I never had the pleasure of seeing it in the war, though to be honest I hadn't planned to."

"I wouldn't call it a pleasure," Colonel Roy Mustang said, stern. "But then, you wouldn't know."

"I was seventy years old by the time that charade had started," Gurner countered. "There wasn't any way the Führer was going to put me out there."

"Better out there than in prison."

"Really?" Gurner coughed. "That's not what I heard."

This earned the man another firestorm, which he also escaped unharmed. It received a round of astonishment from the surrounding militia, but none had dropped their arms. When the smoke had cleared off, it was reveal that a new set of wrinkles had started to droop down on his chin.

"Tell me, Gurner," Mustang said, "just exactly how old are you now?"

The fugitive laughed, and gave the Flame Alchemist a look. "Thirty-three years young. Why do you ask?"

Mustang shook his head. "Those years haven't been kind, have they?"

"They're about to get kinder," Gurner said, raising his hands. "All you have to do is move."

"Sorry, I can't do that." He smirked, extending his left hand in front this time. "I am, however, permitted to detain your crippled ass!" Mustang snapped, and Gurner clapped his hands together. A third, more concentrated burst of fire raged forth from the spark glove, but Gurner did not flinch. Instead, he raised his arms up to the redness and allowed it to come in contact with his hands. From there, it dissipated, and Gurner lunged forward.

"Too slow, Colonel!" Gurner put his hands together once more and reached out for Mustang's flesh. The colonel, instead of allowing the contact to be made, punched his opponent's stomach, kicked back, and snapped again with his right glove. Though caught off guard, Gurner was able to utilize the alchemy he had prepared and neutralized the most of the blast. The part that had not been affected blew the old man into the crowd of surrounding soldiers, and set fire to small portions of skin dangling from his face. Forces from behind the man locked his arms with their own, and several guns were pointed to his head.

"Don't underestimate my flames, Gurner," Mustang said, approaching the crowd.

"Oh, I never did, Colonel Mustang, believe me." He coughed for a moment, paused, and grinned. Mustang made no such expression, uneasy at the sudden spike in cockiness, but before he could question the attitude adjustment the fugitive yelled, "Now, Natalie!"

Mustang flinched and prepared for an attack from behind. In response to seeing such, the soldiers holding him also seemed to become nervous, and their grip lightened just the slightest bit. Gurner took the opportunity to force his hands together, and from a single touch of the elder's fingertips, the flesh of the soldiers constraining him melted and peeled away, revealing ivory, crimson-dotted bones at the sites of contact. When the men peeled back in shrieks of pain, Gurner made a break for it.

Mustang became agitated. "Freeze, Gurner!" The Flame Alchemist followed close behind his trail, and the two raced into the next street.

"Back up the colonel!" declared an officer from behind. The wave of blue started forward, only to be overridden by Mustang.

"No, don't follow us!" he said. "This is an ex-State Alchemist! He's mine!" And the both of them disappeared. "Besides…" Mustang added, "I already called for some back up."

Gurner, taking a quick glance at his foes, frowned at the lack of personnel. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

Another explosion came from the rear; Gurner was able to perform his nullification, but since he couldn't concentrate on intercepting what he couldn't see, his backside was still burned to a crisp, and he was pushed forward several meters into a lamppost.

"Shit…" Gurner came down to his feet, and his hands met twice: once in the air and once against the ground. The cement beneath him thrust upwards and rolled across to Mustang's location. The man's initial reaction was to jump out of the way, which worked until he realized that the ground was following him. It slapped the colonel at his side, causing a few unpleasant snapping noises, and he flew in the direction of the fugitive, who had already had his alchemy ready for him.

"Damn it!" Mustang braced for impacted, hoping to dodge the flesh-rotting touch, when a blast sounded overhead. One lone bullet tore through the deep atmosphere of the night, flying from a small window up top of the building above and piercing down into Gurner's right hand. His subsequent scream was weak, but distraught, like soft, dainty nails against a chalkboard. Blood soaked over his drooping flesh, and the man fell upon his knees. Mustang, who was still speeding towards hell, collided with the injured Gurner, and together they crashed into a garbage can just inside a neighboring alley.

They both pushed their way off each other, but Mustang was up before his enemy, and used the lead he had to gain some distance. Gurner took notice, and attempted to stand, but something was preventing him from moving further, a sharp pain from below. He glanced down, and found a knife just between his right, lower most ribs.

"Clever, Colonel, clever," Gurner laughed, grimacing as he moved his shot hand over the wound. A globule of crimson fell from Gurner's mouth, a reminder his body was breaking down.

"I'm not stupid," Mustang said.

"Well, congratulations." Gurner wiped the blood from his mouth.

"My flames don't have a lot against you, but what I can do is keep you occupied long enough for your body to slow down." Mustang raised his right hand. "Like so."

A snap, and red streaked toward the prisoner in a wave of conflagration. However, another force was there to greet it; a great sapphire light emerged from the building from behind the elder. Bricks shifted and settled themselves into the shape of a massive bowl, which was set in between Gurner and his impending doom.

"…the hell?!" Mustang backed away from the shield, staggered by the sudden defense.

Gurner, however, was having a panic attack of his own. "Natalie, no! Go back home!" he yelled.

"Natalie…?" The colonel blinked. "She's actually here?"

"Go home, sweetheart!"

"Too late!" Mustang circled the corner of the warehouse from which the shield had originated, and found that the main entrance was open wide. He peered through, and saw a young girl standing just meters away, her hands placed onto the air that once was brick. Most of her features were shadowed by a black cloak she wore, but through the darkness he could make out lifeless grey eyes staring straight back at him. They bore no hatred, no shock, nor grief, but were simply locked on the colonel's face.

Mustang reached behind him, and raised his sidearm. "Natalie Gurner, you're under arrest for the assistance of a Central fugitive."

Natalie made the slightest effort to pout. "Are you going to shoot me, colonel?" Her voice was dull, understated, but loud enough to come through.

The colonel, however, didn't respond to the question, but backed up so that he may include both the prisoner's shell and his daughter in his view. "Surrender quietly, Miss Gurner."

"Because, you know," she continued, "if I had researched the same materials as my daddy, wouldn't you just want to use your gloves?"

Mustang frowned. "I don't use my gloves on children."

"Not anymore?"

The bursting of bricks interrupted the two, and from the corner of his visual scope the colonel could see Gurner sprinting out of the shield. As he prepared to attack the escapee, something caught his eye, a change in the man's appearance: all wounds previously acquired had scarred over in their entirety. No clothing lost, however, had not been replaced, but shifted over in different areas to cover what may have been censored by ashed skin.

"Stay down, Gurner!" Mustang took a shot at his opponent, grazing his leg, and Natalie seized the opportunity to dash out the other side of the warehouse. "Damn it…" Mustang raised his gun. "Neither of you move!"

The moment the gun was switched from parent to child, Gurner became outraged. "Don't you dare shoot my daughter!" He clapped his hands and slammed them against the structure neighboring the warehouse. The foundation shook and crackled at the near bottom, followed by bricks flying out of place and window shattering into a crystal rain. It wasn't more than moment before the entire building began to collapse.

"No!" Mustang was nicked on the cheek by a handful of rubble, but approached the future wreckage so that he may be heard. "Lieutenant! First Lieutenant!"

He waited, but there was no response.

"Dammit, answer me! Lieutenant Hawkeye!" Mustang blasted his left hand through a collection of roof tiles. "Is there anyone inside?!"

Gurner, having succeeded in his distraction, took off after his daughter towards their preset destination.

"Shit!" The colonel was at a standstill, torn between duty and lives. "Lieutenant Hawkeye!"

It was at that moment, of course, that sparkles poured down from the sky.

"BEAUTIFUL LIEUTENANT HAWKEYE~!"

Mustang, hit by a stray twinkling, looked up towards the stars and felt his eyes bleeding out of their sockets. Never before, though, had he been so welcoming to the pain. "Major Armstrong!"

Yes, there, flying down from the night, was Alex Louis Armstrong, his uniform jacket dancing down leagues above him. "Fear not, Colonel! I shall save the lieutenant with these…" He flexed out, and somewhere in the universe a hole was torn into the space-time continuum. "Behold, my rippling children!" And he smashed into the roof of the building.

"Wait, Major! Is there anyone else in there?!"

The major poked his head out of a window on the second floor. Thin streaks of crimson ran down his budging flesh. "I'm afraid so, sir!" He ran back inside.

"Dammit!" The colonel gritted his teeth. "Where's the lieutenant?!"

As soon as Mustang capped off his question, a screaming blue figure was launched out another window along with a rifle strapped to its back.

"…Holy—!" Mustang tried to follow the woman's shadow, but proved himself useless in the reception of her body, and both, sniper lady on top, collided against the ground.

Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye turned her head to see what had broken her fall. "C… Colonel Mustang!" Her voice was shaking.

His rib cage demolished, Mustang struggled for breath. "…me."

"Sir?"

"Lieutenant…"

Hawkeye frowned. "Yes, sir?"

"…me."

"You…"

"Get off of me NOW, Lieutenant."

"Oh! …My apologies, sir." She was careful as she slid off his chest.

A deep inhale, and Mustang was at his feet again. "Major! I'm leaving the citizens to you!"

"Roger, sir!" called manliness from within the crumbling building. An explosion of sapphire illuminated the pouring bricks, and three rows of staircases blossomed forth from the structure's remaining window frames. Each step created was line with flower crests, and miniature Armstrong busts crowned the rose vine railing, all finished in a coat of glossy steel. Gradually, people began to make their way out of the rubble.

"Let's go, Lieutenant," her superior said, scouting out a possible trail of blood.

Hawkeye struggled to stand up, but could not budge. "Colonel, sir…"

"What? C'mon, we have to—" It was then that the colonel noticed the blade of glass lodged in his subordinate's left leg. "…Lieutenant."

"I'm alright, sir." The top most floor of the building caved in. "I would be a hindrance if I came with you— Ah!"

Mustang hoisted Hawkeye onto his back and secured her legs with his arms. Her back was erect, parallel to the man's body as her crotch rubbed against the back of his head. Her body alone weighed down up his shoulders immensely, but the grip with maintained. "I'm not leaving you next to a crumbling building. Armstrong's got enough on his hands." After spotting traces of Gurner's remaining wound, Mustang sprinted further into the raining debris. "Get out your sidearm. We're gonna take down a fugitive."

Hawkeye pulled out one of her pistols. "Forgive me for my unsolicited input, sir, but I didn't think guns worked on him."

"They don't. Neither do my flames."

"Then why…?"

"Because they don't have to work. All we have to do…" Mustang veered left, now out of the danger zone, and saw two tiny figures far out into a main street way. "…is get him to work."

As the gap between the two groups was closed, the soldiers realized they had made out two figures, but it was not as they were expecting. Out in front ran Natalie; following her arm was a small fist, fingers rapped around an alchemic makeshift cart handle. On the cart itself laid Gurner, who had now lost the ability to walk, though it was clear his legs had stopped bleeding seconds after they had left the area. His mouth had been caked over anew with spilling insides.

"They're coming…" Gurner whispered. "They're coming… I have to…" The man tried to move his hands, but couldn't find the strength. "C'mon… I have to…"

"Daddy, stop talking," Natalie said. "If you don't stop talking, you'll die."

"Natalie…" The senior Gurner coughed, and closed his eyes. "Natalie…"

Natalie looked away. "Just keep breathing, okay, daddy?"

Hawkeye tried to focus her aim towards the cart. "Colonel, could you please stand still for a moment? I can't get a clear shot while we're moving up and down like this."

"If you lose ten pounds, then sure. But not while I'm still able to keep this momentum up." Mustang grinned as he was bopped in the head with her pistol. "If you're my subordinate, then I know you can handle it."

Hawkeye cracked a tiny smile. "Yes, sir."

Natalie, across the way, continued the support of her father and brought him into another alley. Upon entrance, she turned the cart around so as to put herself behind it, forced it in front of her person to stay progressive, and threw off her heavy black cloak. Underneath, her clothes were lighter. A white collar shirt fluffed out from the top of navy blue skirt, which bordered the top of her knees. Over the shirt was a faded brown jacket, left open so as to prevent movement restriction, shadowed by two long golden ponytails, centered behind her head, and a small white bow on the top of her head.

With the weight lifted, Natalie rushed over to the cart again, grabbed hold of the handle, and swung herself around to lead it once more. She was about to turn into a backstreet, when she thought she could hear a small click in the distance. The wagon didn't seem to feel any different—though considerably noisy moving on and off trash and curbsides—nor had her father obtained a new wound, so she persisted with her efforts until a gun shot fell not a centimeter short of taking out one of the cart's wheels. After a small jump, she improved her pace and managed to get herself behind the next turn unharmed. But as the cart also flew around the next corner, a hind wheel was taken out straight through the middle of the main bolt securing it, and Gurner was bumped out of his carriage and onto the ground with a remarkable thunk.

"Daddy!" Natalie said, her words soft. She rushed over to her father's side and proceeded to hoist him onto the cart once more, when she noticed something that she had overlooked due to all the commotion from behind her. Something about the man felt… off. Now that she could get closer to the man's chest, Natalie notice that there was less noise within him. Rudolph Gurner's heart was slowing down. Which, at his health and cellular reproduction abuse, meant only moments before a complete stop.

But even before she had time to think about death, there was an even more immediate problem at hand: the cart. Its right hind wheel had been blown out, and thus rendered useless, which posed a rather interesting problem against the girl, who had no applicable experience whatsoever in this kind of situation. She did not possess mechanical knowledge of any degree, nor was she known for anything handy save eating, writing, and drawing circles, and in addition to that, the alchemy that she had been studying for so long had never introduced her to any of the more simplistic circles designed for basic reconstruction. The very analysis of the situation was depressing her, not to mention her total lack of options. So, Natalie continued to dash her father off with three wheels. Another shot flew. Two wheels.

Mustang smiled from afar. "Excellent shot, Lieutenant."

"Thank you, sir."

The young girl dragged her limp father towards another street corner. Now, facing upwards, she could see the little apartment waiting for them, and everything her father ever wanted inside: all their years of hard work, all their hopes and dreams, nestled with care just down the street. Unfortunately, half a street below the apartment, they were greeted by the farthest thing from pleasant the little girl could ever have imagined. Natalie dropped the handle of the cart as she stared past the pavement, and her eyes cracked open as reality struck her in the head.

"…Daddy?" She bent down to shake the old man. "Daddy, wake up. Please wake up."

Gurner stirred, and licked his drying red lips. "Yes, honey?" His voice was quiet.

"Didn't the colonel call off his men?"

"Yes… That's what I told you..."

"Oh, okay. I thought so."

Natalie then composed herself, and gazed over the multitude of soldiers that had reassembled. She made a rough guess at seventy-five blue-collared dogs and four cars of supplies, each man armed and ready to fire. At the front stood someone of superiority, no doubt, and considering what her father had updated her on, as well as who he was as former state alchemist, this man could only have out-ranked the colonel by a hair. Still, being faced by a brigadier general was quite the unfortunate circumstance.

"Step away from the cart, Miss Gurner," the man ordered. "You are under arrest for the assistance of a Central fugitive."

Natalie bit her lip and walked, hands above her head, in front of the cart, just above her father.

"Away from the cart, Miss Gurner," he repeated, "or I have the consent of the Führer himself to take off your head."

The girl paused. "…What about my daddy? Are you going to shoot him?"

"That's why you need to move, dear."

"I bet you can't shoot daddy, can you."

The man flinched. "And why would you think that, Miss Gurner?"

"If you were allowed to shoot daddy, he would already be dead."

"But I am allowed to shoot him."

"But you can't kill him."

A small sting pulsed through Natalie's stomach. She ran her hand over where the girl had felt it pass, and was not surprised to find that her hand had become wet. She was also not in the least bit alarmed when it started to hurt, but even Natalie couldn't keep a straight face as the feeling in her abdomen returned. She yelped a little, and fell to her knees vomiting blood.

"I can kill whoever gets in my way, though," the official said, running his fingers over the barrel of his revolver. He watched his prey curl over in pain beside the cart. "Like father like daughter, I suppose," he added as the young girl's mouth turned red.

"Brigadier General, sir!"

The man cocked his head to the side of the cart, the direction of which he believed the voice to originate. His teeth were gritted for a mere second, then relaxed to suit a superior air. "Oh, Colonel Mustang," he said. "Good news."

Mustang and Hawkeye stopped just around the corner of a building, Hawkeye's pistol up and forward. They observed the situation, but did not speak until they saw Natalie's golden hair turning red. Mustang let his lieutenant down, avoiding the glass on her leg, and spoke first.

"And what would that be, sir?" he asked. "Now we can gun down minors as we please?"

"Yes, actually," the brigadier general said. "So long as they lend a hand to Mr. Gurner here." He gestured to the body on the cart, which was twitching toward his daughter. She coughed in response.

"I never heard anything about that."

"You've been out a tad longer than I have," the man replied, laughing. "Most people are usually asleep three hours to sunrise, you know?"

"Most people." The colonel put away his gloves. "What would you like me to do with Gurner?"

"Nothing. Let them be. I've called for medical assistance on Mr. Gurner's behalf, seeing as though I didn't bring any with me, but little Miss Natalie isn't of…" The man bit his lip, catching his dialogue before it came out.

"Isn't… of what?" Mustang seemed suspicious. "I just spent thirty minutes trying to find this guy and take him down as instructed, sir. But now he's being taken to a hospital, and we're going to let the girl die?"

"Yes."

"Then why not Gurner, if I may ask? If we're granted permission to fire at him, then why work to keep him alive?"

"No more questions, Colonel." The man looked down at the ground for a moment. The windows from above the street freckled the night air with beacons of light, which collected down at the brigadier general's feet as the man walked away from the colonel. The further he strode, the longer they seemed to frown back at him. "Just burn the girl's corpse when she becomes one," the man added before disappearing. "We shouldn't be leaving messes around Central like this."

Mustang stared at the man's path, doubt passing through his expression, then sighed. He turned his attention to his subordinate. "Are you alright, Lieutenant? You can hold out until the ambulance arrives, can't you?"

"Yes, sir. I'll be fine." Hawkeye looked down, and began to toy with her pistol, rubbing it with her palm. "…Colonel?"

"What is it, First Lieutenant?"

"You didn't need to carry me the whole way. You could have simply set me down and I wouldn't have had to inconvenience you."

Mustang walked around Hawkeye and knelt down to examine her wound. "I don't leave my subordinates behind. Surely you would understand that by now."

"Still…" Hawkeye placed the gun down back in its holster, and examined the broken family. She felt her body being weighed upon looking at the girl, and the more so when she shifted to the father as men approached him to fit him in thick, wooden cuffs. But the woman was interrupted – interrupted by a faint clapping sound. Hawkeye peered further into the scene, and then panicked.

"Colonel!" she yelled.

Mustang followed her line of vision up until where the lieutenant had been staring, and leaped up from his position over Hawkeye.

"Careful—" his officer warned, but Mustang had already knocked into the glass shard's side, causing the woman an great deal of discomfort. She seized her leg in an automatic response, and couldn't bear to move them to her pistol.

"Stop, Gurner!" Mustang ripped on his gloves, but it was already too late.

The street facing Gurner was eaten by an obscure layer of translucent purple, and the men inside of it froze. The force field obtained a crystal-like texture, and the soldiers started to move backwards, all sounds emitted reversed, and they shuffled themselves back into cars and their original stations without even taking a peek behind. All four cars were started up again and drove rearward, the blue masses running blindly in pursuit. But as they came in contact with the boundaries of the purple haze, their limbs started to spiral into streamers out from their joints, and soon vanished when their normal time zone barrier was passed, leaving nothing not a single thread of hair for the reality outside. The rest of the bodies followed the same fate, until the entire legion had disappeared. The force field lifted itself, and silence held the air.

Mustang, standing guard in front of Hawkeye, was dumbstruck, and the visage of the woman he'd been protecting was not the slightest bit different. New life, however, was rekindled in their expressions by a bloodcurdling scream just meters away. Their heads shot to the left at Gurner, who was shrieking his soul inside out, and it soon became apparent why. It started at his feet, coming out a metallic grey; an unraveling process identical to that of the soldiers was tearing at the man's toes, flowing up to his ankles, then speeding to his knees, and the fleshy squares emerging from below his jumpsuit capped themselves off at the bottom of his hips. Before anyone knew it, both his legs had vanished off the face of the earth.

"Shit—!" Gurner cried, grabbing his wounds. "Why the hell did you have to stop there?! Finish what you started, you… you fucking coward! Finish what you never could, God damn you!" He began to sob in agony, but as the red gushed outward, his outbreaks died down in almost no time at all. "Dammit…" Gurner crawled on top of his daughter and hugged onto her. "Natalie…"

Mustang held his fingers forward. "Don't move a muscle, damn you! What the hell just happened?! Where did you send those soldiers?! And what the fuck happened to…" The colonel stopped, and realization tore his eyes open. "Your arm and leg…"

Mustang's questions were ignored, however, and Gurner continued to speak with his daughter.

"Natalie," he managed, shredding his lip with his teeth, "could you… go by yourself?"

"…Daddy…" Natalie coughed. Her wet finger skipped a broken path across her own blood, most of which had been thinned out or absorbed by the asphalt.

"Natalie dear, you're a big girl… I'm sure you can do it." His life was drifting from his words. "I'm so proud of you, Natalie. My little Natalie…"

Mustang, though teetering internally, stepped forward. "Neither of you are going anywhere." He approached Gurner cautiously to see if he couldn't restrain him.

The prisoner grimaced at the colonel. "Shut up, you genocidal alchemist…"

Hawkeye grit her teeth up at the insult, and endeavored a grab for her gun. "How dare you—" But before she could finish her sentence, flames raged forth towards the family, and Gurner released his grip on his daughter.

"Warm…" he whispered. "It feels so nice."

"No, daddy. It's supposed to hurt!" Natalie slammed her hands on the ground, and the two of them were lifted off into the air on a column of stone. The fire molded into an explosion, causing extensive damage to their platform, but Natalie kept her hands on the top and they continued to soar towards the end of the street.

Hawkeye shot at the broken area of stone, weakening it further. "How on earth did she do that?"

"Probably drew an alchemy circle with her blood," Mustang said. "Not something I recommend!" He ran a second explosion by the hole in the column, and it flew to pieces.

"Hang on to me… daddy!" Natalie yelled to her father. There was no response, and the old man dangled through the air like a doll. "Daddy?"

"Hold on, kids!"

Both remaining soldiers peered into the distance, and found a short, wrinkly old woman at the edge of the apartment building ahead. Her arms were spread wide, her back was braced, and her legs were spread in a powerful stature. After observing each of these physical features, Mustang concluded that troublesome cripple number two was going to try and catch flying renegades.

"You over there! Let them fall if you want to live!" the colonel warned, gloves at the ready.

"Sir," Hawkeye yelled, "they're too close to building!"

"Not for a pinpoint strike, no!" Mustang started a snap out at the elder, when something ripped through his right shoulder, spreading a vigorous throbbing sensation out from the area of contact. He fell backwards and slammed against the asphalt, the colonel's hands just barely breaking his fall. Blood was quick to rush out of the wound and dyed his chest over with a crimson paint. Just as he was about to search for the origin of the round, a small click sounded from behind Mustang, and the man turned around, only to find the lieutenant with her sidearm out.

"Get down, Colonel," she said. Her eyes blazed with fury.

Outrage consumed her commanding officer. "What's the meaning of this, First

Lieut—"

Hawkeye fired out in front of Mustang's head. At first, despite his utter astonishment, he made a split-second effort to evade it; then he realized the shot's true purpose. A secondary bullet appeared just above his nasal cavity, speeding into his cheek, but before it was able to make contact with his skin it was struck back by Hawkeye's own projectile, and after a colliding spark, both bullets ricocheted off each other in opposite directions.

Mustang followed the path of the newer bullet back towards a small apartment balcony on the third floor. There stood a second elder, male this time, towering over the rail and quaking in terror as he clutched onto his gun. "Grandparents?" Mustang speculated. Then it hit him.

"Lieutenant Hawkeye!" he shouted. "We have to secure the apartment! Whatever they're doing, this is it!"

Hawkeye straighten up, and attempted a stand. "Roger, sir!" It was in vain.

"Like hell you will!"

Both soldiers turned their attention back towards the grandmother. She was now supporting Natalie, who was fighting to stay conscious, on with her right arm, while Gurner was prompted over the young girl's back. Her tongue was flapping out of her mouth, lips sealed around it.

"Stop showing off, Florence!" the grandfather warned from above. "Get inside!"

"Fine, you ol' killjoy!" Florence did as she was told, and Natalie dragged herself without a word.

"Stay put, damn you!" Mustang discharged a line of fire towards the three, but the attack was avoided by a slip indoors. Instead, the blast struck the entrance of the building, causing the main entrance some damage and set the core of the detonated area ablaze.

"Jesus Christ…" the elder on the balcony gasped. "It really is the Hero of Ishval…" He brought his gun down pointing at Mustang's head, struggling to get a clear aim due to the ferocious shaking of his arms. "Dammit, I knew I should've stayed inside…!" He pulled the trigger, and a bullet pierced through his forehead. There was a moment of silence, and after relaxing his muscles, the gun slipped from the old man's hands.

Hawkeye frowned from a distance, her pistol smoking before her. "Don't you dare touch my colonel again." She watched the grandfather fall from the balcony, subsequently dismembered by impact. "Ever."

Florence gazed at the old man's remains, puddled in blood, from various cracks inside the stairwell. She, her unresponsive son, and granddaughter were traveling up to the third floor, making poor time with two injured bodies and suffocating smoke. The people that had been hiding within the building were beginning to panic, as they had prayed to various deities that their home not be involved in the brawl outside, and just as their fear had been realized, their immediate escape route had been blown to bits. Many tried to flee the situation without crossing paths with the Gurners.

"Sorry we were so late," the woman told Natalie, facing out the cracks still. "Your damn grandpa didn't wanna get his lazy ass outside just 'cause there were a few men in blue." Her clenched her teeth together. "Damned coward."

Natalie glimpsed at the flames engulfing the structure below, and then took a moment to look at her grandmother. "Thank you… for helping us."

Florence grinned. "Well, o' course! Couldn't leave you now, 'specially after getting so close! We're a family, you know? Even if your ol' grandpa's a pussy, he still loves you as much as I do."

Natalie cracked a smile at the thought, but failed to hold it. "Yeah…" She leaned to get a better look at her enemies, when she was nudged away from the window. The girl looked up at her grandmother's face again. "Granny?"

"What is it, kiddo?"

"…You're crying."

She laughed. "I bet I am."

Natalie readjusted the man on her back with difficulty. "Is it the smoke?"

"It's gotta be," Florence said. "Fires, explosions, gun fights… Sixty-five is a few years too old for this shit, you know? And at this time of night, too." She proceeded to laugh some more.

"…Granny?"

"Yeah?"

Natalie looked down, and began to feel dizzy. "I'm sorry…" She fell against the flight.

Outside of the apartment building, Mustang forced himself up to his feet and proceeded towards the burning doorway. He shed his coat off of his shoulders and then repeated such with his collar shirt, revealing the wound still pumping fresh blood. He steadied his left hand over his chest, and, after synthesizing a minute current of oxygen, applied fire over the injured area. As the flesh brittled and cooked, it became more difficult for him to move forward.

"Colonel!" Hawkeye yelled. "Please reconsider! You're in no position to fight them!"

He stopped his feet, though not his flames, and turned to face the woman in the eyes. "Who do you think you are…" he gasped, "giving me orders?"

There a small pause, and the woman allowed his words to sink into her mind for a moment. Hawkeye then forced her own legs upward with the support off her rifle. The piece of glass was broken in half just beyond where it branched out from her leg, causing the woman's hands to be sliced.

Mustang stood in shock. "…Are you insane?!"

Hawkeye winced at her throbbing palms. "I'm coming with you!"

"No, you're not!"

"Yes, I am, sir!" She ripped off two pieces of cloth from underneath her uniform and tightened it around the cuts.

"No! And that's an order! You have to… rest those injuries!" her commanding officer instructed, losing his voice to pain.

"I will rest later." Hawkeye hobbled forward and supported the colonel's left side, avoiding contact with his flames. "But for now, at least let me help you, Colonel." She smiling, only to have it cringed away by her wounds.

"Stay out of this…!" Mustang made an effort to brush her off, trying to leave her behind as he advanced with able limbs, but the woman would not let go of him. After a few steps, he sighed, and stopped the cauterization. "…You really are stubborn."

"Stubborn at your convenience, sir."

The man looked down for a moment, then smirked. "Hn. It should be at my discretion." Both turned to the building. "I'll clear a pathway so we can get indoors," Mustang said. "If there are still people trapped inside, I trust you to get them out safely. There should be some wood I can draw together into a clutch if you need it." The man shifted his focus towards the third floor balcony. "I'll take care of the Gurners myself."

Hawkeye appeared reluctant, but forced herself to nod. "Understood."

"Oh? Is that so?"

The lieutenant and her superior shot their attention to the left, where a mangy black shadow was stumbling out of the darkness of a roadside alley. Red eyes pierced out of the smoky atmosphere, underlined by a set of ghostly white shards tucked under bleeding lips. "And just where the fuck do you think you're going, Colonel?!"

Mustang grimaced at the sight. "Lieutenant!"

"Sir!" Hawkeye hoisted the rifle into position on her person and took careful aim. Mustang shuffled behind her, still in considerable pain despite his minimized bleeding, and he felt it appropriate to begin to use his opposite hand freely. It was held up; nestled inside: Mustang's sidearm.

"Aww, that's so sweet. Teamwork!" the white shards sneered. "Only a real pair of dumbasses would pick a fight with me when I'm pissed." A retaliation would have been voiced, but before the two could even start to piece their words together, their focus was captured by a pair of ruby lightning bolts emerging from what appeared to be the main body of the mass. They were followed by an orchestra of similar phenomena, frying the being as they slid across its body; even so, the figure was able to advance.

"…Is that…" Mustang stared hard at the red streaks, and saw the same light embedded into his memory. That woman from the 3rd Research Institute, if he recalled, could produce something of similar nature. "…The Philosopher's Stone…?!"

"Wow, very good!" the shadow replied. "You certainly a quick one. It's a shame I'll be ripping your brains out."

"A homunculus?" Hawkeye groaned. "I might as well be holding a teddy bear."

"Identify yourself, homunculus," Mustang demanded. "Or we'll shoot at your head 'til it falls off."

"Sorry," the creature said, "but shit like you isn't worth wasting time on." An arm slid out of the darkness; the skin on its forearm branched out into what appeared to be a steel blade. Suddenly, the whole mass came forward, long slivers of black hair trailing behind a blur of bleeding flesh. The blade headed the attack, and was lashed out in the direction of Mustang's chest. "This one's for Lust, bastard!"

"Colonel!" Hawkeye fixated her aim just between the beast's glowing eyes, and fired. The round raced towards it target, but just before it was able to pierce through the homunculus' skin, it was caught by a pair of small black hands. Both lieutenant and colonel were caught by surprise, but their level of unrest increased further when they found that there existed not two, but several little hands, restraining the bullet and the monster's body alike. Mustang stared at the bullet, then the mass, followed by the strings of black, and assessed the new development accordingly: more crazy inhuman shit.

"That's enough, Envy."

Envy, deformed by rage and fear, allowed his eyes to drift across each dark stretch of limb. "Dammit, Pride…"

"Let it go. First with the Xingese pair, and now this? You truly are the most embarrassing excuse of a sibling created thus far."

His words pierced through Envy, and with each passing second that they took a stab at the mass' ears he found himself more and more fixated on the prospect of bloodlust. His muscles, however, were relaxed, and the black hands began to retreat.

"That's a good boy." Pride's limbs disappeared below Envy's feet and into the shadows underneath. "Now come home and leave the candidate be. I'm sure Father would like to have a word with you..." His presence vanished.

"…Fine." The remaining homunculus sent a red charge through his body, transforming his crimson distortion into something more composed and human, bound by flawless skin and patches of clothing that match his hair color. Just as the new figure was assumed, he balled his hands into tight fists, furious at his own weakness. "Fucking Pride..." Envy then turned to Mustang and his subordinate, who almost flinched in response, having watched the entire transformation.

"You're damn lucky you've been chosen, Colonel Mustang." Envy began to walk away, during which time Mustang felt a small pulsation on his dorsum of his hand. He put away his gun and slipped off his left spark glove. A faint chalk-like circle was etched where he had experienced the pulsation, which was acknowledged, then concealed by white. Before he departed, Envy had the pleasure of hearing the voice that caused his ears to bleed once more.

"Wait," the colonel said, narrowing his gaze. "We're not through yet." The creature stopped, bitterly intrigued. Mustang took it as an opportunity to continue. "Before you go… Envy, was it?"

Envy did not move. "…And what if it was?"

Mustang frowned. "I don't suppose you once knew a man named Maes Hughes, did you?"

Hawkeye stared at her commanding officer, surprised, then forced her eyes back at Envy. She felt a chill run down her spine.

The homunculus tilted his head back at the two soldiers. His rage was masked by a twisted smile, curdling Hawkeye's blood as Mustang remained unfazed.

"You know?" Envy said, "I did know a man named Maes Hughes!"

"Really?" Mustang's face grew cold. "And would you happen to know anything about how he passed on, Envy?"

The homunculus stared at the two for a moment, and then he laughed. He laughed and laughed and laughed, acknowledging that the more he laughed, the less human the colonel's presence became. He found the matter quite entertaining, which was made all the more humorous still when he noticed Hawkeye's complexion pale in grave fear.

"Well…" Envy glanced up to collect his words, focused on the alchemist, paused, did a double take, then locked his eyes on the night sky. It couldn't be…

"No way…" Envy failed to manage anything intelligible past that, and gaped at the evening above.

"Hey!" the interrogator said, "answer me, En—" But the colonel also found himself fixated on the creature's point of interest. This was followed by Hawkeye, naturally, and soon the flying spectacle in the heavens had earned himself an audience. He flexed in response.

"Just how the hell does that—" Envy would have finished the sentence dripping in insults circulating around homosexuality, but as he spoke the homunculus was impaled straight through the center of his torso by a large, stone spike, and thus didn't have much to say other than the standard "fuck you," only rendered incomprehensible due to lack of lungs.

"Armstrong—!" Mustang and his subordinate braced for impact as the major's sparkling feet collided with the ground. He rose, shirtless, gorgeous, and raised his iron-plated fists.

"Colonel, I shall hold off the homunculus so that you may further the pursuit of Gurner," he said.

"Major—" The colonel blinked. "Wait, how did you know…"

"My fabulous muscles informed me of your peril, sir!"

Face palm.

"Don't take him on by yourself," Mustang said, adjusting the glove on his free arm, "unless you plan on killing him a good twenty-seven times."

"That I can handle, sir," Armstrong responded. He rippled into fighting position. "Please allow me to buy you some time!"

"Hn. I have plenty of time, now." Mustang raised his hand. "Lieutenant!"

"Sir!" Hawkeye rested her index finger upon the trigger.

"Um, Colonel, sir! Lieutenant!" Armstrong yelled. "I highly recommend pursuit!"

The lightning bolts ruptured from Envy's chest, and the major's spike logged within him was split in two by bubbles of regenerating flesh. "D… damn you…" The homunculus launched his arm forward, from which tiny scales crusted off until it took on the form of a snake. "Stay out of this, faggot!" The beast lunged at Armstrong.

"I am no such thing! Now…" The major struck the ground in front of him and blue streams shattered the asphalt on which he stood. "Burst forth, my minions!" Several small cylinders launched out from the road, each sculpted in perfect accordance to the man's cephalic features. Envy swept away the first layer of stones with his reptilian limb, but was impaled by the hundreds that followed. More crimson poured out of his flesh, only to be patched by ruby, then recrimsoned by a large bullet that broke clear through his heart.

"That's four times… Envy choked. "I'll never make it out of here alive if I don't…" He was interrupted by a thin line of red, then swallowed in panic as it detonated just under his stomach. The homunculus was shelled in the proceeding explosion.

"I'm sorry, Envy," Mustang said from afar, "but we were interrupted. Please, do continue." He scowled as Envy regenerated from charcoal. "We were discussing Hughes, were we not?"

The homunculus opened his mouth to speak, but something unusual caught his eye. It began as a small glow; three floors up and a few meters to the side, the Gurners' small apartment had become illuminated by soft lavender, which burst into a violent purple the moment Envy directed his full attention towards it. The air around the room was sliced into pieces, then refused systematically, creating a small, pressurize maelstrom. By the time of eruption, however, Mustang, Hawkeye, and Armstrong, had long noticed the phenomenon, and the former most was preparing pursuit.

"Major, take care of Envy!" The colonel knelt down and scribbled on the street with a stray rock.

"Roger!" Armstrong turned again to fend the homunculus, but by the time the man had poised himself once more, the creature had disappeared into the city's darkness. The street, though illuminated, was vacant. "What…?"

Mustang completed his circle, and placed himself on top of it. "Lieutenant, hold on to me!"

"Sir!" Her arms were secured around his stomach, rifle on back, and Mustang crossed his hands over the chalked cobblestone. It sparked bits of blue, which was then embedded into the colonel's drawings. "Do you think they're all right?" Hawkeye asked.

"I don't know," the man said, "but you certainly took your sweet time showing up here, Fullmetal!"


Author's Note: If you review just to tell me that I broke multiple writing rules in this, I'm sticking my fingers in my ears, 'cause I promise I won't be randomly switching perspectives in this again. I only noticed that I had after having written the whole thing so, as you can imagine, I was rather disinclined to go back and fix it.

Oh well. Reviews are cinnamon-flavored love, and concrit is always welcome. : 3 Thanks!