Friendship is Magic; Alchemy is Damnation
My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic is created by Lauren Faust and owned by Hasbro Studios. Fullmetal Alchemist is created by Hiromu Arakawa. All other characters are the creation of the author. All thoughts or anything read by a character is in italics.
For those not familiar with the Fullmetal Alchemist manga/second anime (the first series deviates from the original story), there is a mini-glossary at the end of the first chapter with basic terminology (scroll down to the bottom of the page and take a look). I have been careful not to put any major spoilers in the glossary. There's nothing in the mini-glossary about the My Little Pony series because this story is in a limited third person point of view centered on the main character and those unfamiliar with My Little Pony-Friendship with Magic will learn along side the main character. However, this doesn't rule out the possibility of placing a mini-glossary for My Little Pony-Friendship with Magic series in future chapters.
Chapter 1: The Alchemist and the Pony
The Ishvalian town belched smoke from the patches of fire dotting the settlement. Ishvalian guerilla fighters and Amestrian infantry were at a stalemate and pinned down on opposite sides of the street trading fire as they peeked out from cover to fire at the other side in the hopes of getting in a few lucky shots. Two Amestrians infantry squads were held up inside what was once a corner grocery store. The shelves that were once stocked with food were now bracing the front as cover from bullets and shrapnel. All of the Amestrians were either in the mix trading gunfire with the Ishvalians or tending to the wounded with one exception. . There was nothing to set the man standing in the far corner apart from the others except the silver pocket watch with the Amestrian crest etched on it that the man nervously rolled in his hand. This lone soldier had brown hair parted down the middle and long enough to cover the top half of his ears and brown eyes. He was, physically underwhelming, about average height, and had a lean build. His military coat was two sizes too large. If it wasn't for the five o'clock shadow, he could have been mistaken for a teenager still in the middle of puberty wearing his father's clothes. One of the infantry men, a plump, overweight fellow with a crew cut and mustache that held the rank of staff sergeant, walked up to the man with the pocket watch.
"Sir, the men are running low of ammo, and the Ishvalians will overtake us within the hour. As our state alchemist, shouldn't you be doing something about it, sir?" The staff sergeant glared at the state alchemist waiting for an answer.
The state alchemist took a deep breath. "Order your men to stop firing and get as far from the front of the building as possible."
"What!" The staff sergeant looked at the state alchemist as if he lost his mind.
"My plan is the only option we have of getting out of here alive. Please just listen to me."
The staff sergeant rolled his eyes. "Of course we will, sir. You're the highest ranking officer here, sir."
"Oh and sergeant, tell the men to hold on to their guns and not to leave anything of theirs made of steel unattended."
"Cease fire and go to the very back of the building." Then the staff sergeant turned to the state alchemist. "You better know what you're doing, sir."
"Oh and tell the men to get ready to fire when the Ishvalians rush us."
"Now the moron tells us." The staff sergeant said just low enough not to be heard by the state alchemist. Some of the men who overheard nodded in agreement. "Get ready to fire on Lodestone's orders," the staff sergeant relayed the command. Within a minute of the cease fire, the Ishvalians charged. The state alchemist put on a gauntlet with a transmutation circle drawn on it, took a deep breath and jumped out the door. The Ishvalians raised their rifles and fired. But before they had a chance to aim and get in an accurate shot, a metal disk sprouted from the ground in front of the state alchemist. But the disk did more than block the hail of bullets. The Ishvalians' guns flew out of their hands and into the disk as did a variety of ferrous items from inside the store. From behind the disk-shaped magnet, the state alchemist lay down with his hands over his head.
"Now shoot!" The state alchemist yelled over his shoulder as the Amestrian infantry took aimed at the unarmed Ishvalians and gunned them down. When the barrage ended, the state alchemist tapped the disk. With a flash of light, the magnetic field from the disk dissipated and released its hold over the Ishvalians' guns that fell to the ground. "You can come out now?"
"Not bad," the staff sergeant smiled. "For a second, I didn't think you would come through for us." He fanned away the gun smoke. "Mustang told me you were a long range fighter and never got in the thick of things."
The state alchemist frowned. He knew a veiled insult when he heard it. "I'm the Lodestone Alchemist. My specialty is using magnetism to fire projectiles. I'm good enough at it that the kinetic energy from my projectiles is equal in its own weight to dynamite."
"I suppose you human weapons need your version of artillery, huh?"
"Yeah, I suppose."
"I didn't catch your real name. I'd rather call you that than 'Lodestone'."
"It's Douglas Sinclair."
As they were speaking, an Ishvalian child stumbled from where the enemy was pinned down during the fire fight. He had a blank stare as he walked towards the infantrymen holding his bandaged abdomen. Blood covered most of his body.
"Father?" The Ishvalian boy called out. "Where are you? Please don't leave me." The child lost so much blood that he was in shock and completely oblivious to the Amestrian invaders.
The state alchemist started to walk towards the boy, but then a soldier took aim and shot him in the head. Blood sprayed from the back of his head as the bullet drilled through the boy's skull.
The occupants of the passenger train dotted their heads in the direction of the bloodcurdling scream from the fifth seat to the back of the passenger car. The conductor hastened to where Douglas Sinclair stood, slouched over. He was trying to catch his breath. Despite the mild spring weather, his hair was covered in sweat.
"What the hell is going on?" The conductor yelled at Sinclair. "Well?"
Sinclair said while still breathing heavily. "I...I had...I had a bad dream." He fell back in his seat and slumped over. He took off his Derby cap and wiped the sweat off his head with the palm of his hand and wiped it on the white button-up shirt he wore.
"Another outburst and you'll spend the rest of the trip in the cargo car."
Sinclair nodded as he adjusted his suspenders. "It won't happen again, I promise."
Major Armstrong was busy filing paperwork when he heard knocking on his office door. "Who is it?"
"It's me, Lodestone, can we talk?"
"Douglas!" Major Armstrong jumped out of his seat, swung the door open, and scooped Sinclair up as if he was a bag of potatoes. "I haven't seen you since Ishval."
"Ouch!" Sinclair cried out. "You're squeezing too hard."
"It's been too long since I've seen my comrade at arms. How has life been treating you since the war?"
"Okay until you nearly squeezed the life out of me," Sinclair said in a wheezing voice.
"Oh sorry," Armstrong released the smaller man from the bear hug. "What can I do for you, Douglas?"
"I need a favor," said Sinclair while catching his breath.
Armstrong raised an eyebrow. "Oh, and what would that be?"
Sinclair locked the door and said in a hushed voice, "Jenkins said you had a chimera you were going to put to sleep."
Major Armstrong reached over to a filing cabinet and thumbed though. "Jenkins works at Lab 2, correct?"
"I believe so."
"Aw, here it is: Chimera Specimen 1138. According to this, the specimen was brought to us by a farmer who caught the animal in a snare a few weeks ago. It was decided to put it to death due to our recent cuts in research funding."
"Jenkins said he could make arrangements for me to take possession of it."
Major Armstrong suddenly turned around. "Why would you want a chimera?"
Sinclair looked away from Armstrong. "It's for personal research."
"I have to know why we're going against procedure and handing you a chimera slated to be destroyed," Major Armstrong said.
"You know Shou Tucker's little girl Nina, right? And what happened to her?"
"Yes, and what a terrible tragedy it was."
"You know the terrible things that happened five years ago. The terrible things I did. This is my way of making up for it. Nina isn't the only case of a human-animal chimera. Rumor has it, since the 1890's, alchemists like us experimented with humans."
"Well, there may be a way to help these people. I've done it, Armstrong; I've separated chimeras. I fused different animals together into one being and, after a lotta trial and error, separated them."
"I've never heard of anyone separating chimera before."
"Well yeah, that's because the money is in making chimeras, not unmaking them. It's easier than it sounds. It only took me this long because biological alchemy isn't my forte. But to be sure, I have to perform a separation of a chimera I didn't make just to be sure I'm not merely backtracking from my own transmutation. I took a train to West City to purchase a test subject, but the alchemist who was selling the specimens jacked up the price at the last minute, and I came back to Central empty-handed. I told Jenkins, and he told me about the specimen. That's why I need your help. I don't have the money for research like I used to when I was a state alchemist. Will you do your old war buddy this one favor? If you do, I'll share my research with you as an equivalent exchange."
Armstrong was literally sparkling in joy. "Of course I will. It's good to see an alchemist using his talents selflessly for the benefit of his fellow man."
Sinclair chuckled. "Am I really so altruistic? Or am I merely trying to bribe my way out of Hell with good deeds? You know I stood by and did nothing to stop the slaughter. I just watched as women and children were shot dead by my own men, and I was too afraid of a court-martial to save them." Sinclair's hands were shaking. "I need a good night's sleep, Armstrong. Maybe saving the Nina Tuckers of the world will help me lay my head down at night."
After dismissing the guard, Armstrong led Sinclair to the specimen storage room. The moans and screams of misshapen beasts filled the lab. The two walked to the end where the larger chimeras were kept but not before Armstrong picked up a bridle laying on one of the lab tables. Sinclair felt a cold chill down his back looking at this zoo of horrors. Ironic since he made chimeras himself.
Armstrong pointed to a 12'x12' cage tall enough to stand up inside of. "As you asked," he said, "Specimen 1138." Specimen 1138 was the most bizarre-looking pony he had ever laid eyes on. It was a miniature horse that was just an inch short of four and a half feet from hoof to head. It had a coat of blue-green, and a mane of bright sunny yellow. On its back was a pair of short, stubby bird wings bound by rope.
"Be careful," Armstrong warned, "he hasn't been broken yet. Even these small ones can be dangerous if they're still wild." True to Armstrong's words, the chimera turned its back to them while keeping its head turned almost 180 degrees facing them as if it was getting ready to kick it with its hind legs. Armstrong flexed his muscles until his coat ripped apart exposing his bare chest and chiseled physique. The chimera kicked Armstrong repeatedly, but he wouldn't budge. The Strong Arm Alchemist shielded himself with his massive forearms. Suddenly, Sinclair forced his way into the cave, grabbed the chimera in a headlock, and forced it to the ground.
"Grab the head, and you can control the whole body." Sinclair grunted. He twisted even harder on the chimera's head.
"You didn't have to do that." Armstrong said in a stern voice. "I would have gotten an opening to slip the restraints on him."
"Well, now you don't have to." Sinclair looked over the chimera. "I think the horse's breed is Shetland, but I don't recognize the species of bird." It was then Sinclair noticed something on the chimera's thigh. "Is that a transmutation circle?"
Armstrong shook his head. "It's actually a cloud with a pair of wings attached and some speedlines."
"Everything about this damn thing screams esthetics minus the practicality. It's probably the creation of some second rate alchemist for some carnival sideshow." The chimera thrashed around some more shaking Sinclair around until he drove its head into the floor.
"Wait one damn minute!" Sinclair was shocked to hear that sort of language coming from Armstrong. "What happened to that talk about helping people?"
"That's the point," said Sinclair straining to keep the creature under control, "helping *people*. This is a test subject."
"Even so, you shouldn't be so rough with the poor animal. I won't allow you to leave Lab 2 with this creature in your possession without your promise not to cause this animal any undo harm."
Sinclair huffed. "I promise I won't make it suffer." Sinclair held the chimera's nose forcing it to open its mouth. It was then Armstrong slipped on the bridle.
Armstrong and Sinclair led the chimera to a waiting truck.
"Armstrong, don't take this the wrong way, but why a softie like you still a dog of the military? I mean, you feel sorry for dumb animals, but you work for these butchers. What's up with that?"
"It's Roy Mustang. I have faith in him."
"You've got to be kidding. Flame is no better than any of the other military's glory hounds. You're wasting your life on him."
"That's not true at all. Mustang is a good man. He treats his subordinates well and is as appalled by the Ishvalian extermination as us. I believe he will be fuehrer someday and bring about the reforms our nation is in desperate need of."
"I'll just agree to disagree with you on that. Until that butcher King Bradley steps down and his replacement is the diametric opposite, I won't put back on the uniform and become a state alchemist again."
The two privates who drove the truck let down the truck's loading ramp. As Armstrong and Sinclair led the chimera onboard, Sinclair spoke up. "Look, you know if this separation is successful, I'll have to perform an autopsy on the horse and bird to see if the transmutation caused any internal damage."
"I'm aware of that, but you have the responsibility to keep this animal from suffering unnecessarily even if you'll end it life anyway." Suddenly, the chimera bucked wildly trying to escape. Sinclair nearly fell off the ramp while Armstrong staggered a bit, but he maintained his footing and regained control of the beast with a quick tug of the bridle. "You two-go with Sinclair and help him handle the chimera."
"Yes sir," the two guards said in unison.
As they finished loading the chimera up, Armstrong couldn't help but to wonder why the chimera tried to get loose at that exact moment; almost as if it understood what they were saying...
Sinclair tied the bridle to a metal pole in the middle of his quaint little shack. It wasn't that bad, but Sinclair stayed in better. But soon, the Spartan lifestyle he had to endure for his research will pay off, and he'll be one step closer to receiving some small semblance of redemption. The guards were kind enough to bind the chimera's legs, though the thing was a lot heavier than it looked. It took all three men to carry it inside. Still, it was better than dealing with a wild horse chimera. Sinclair drew his transmutation circle around the chimera.
Sinclair took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "The moment of truth has arrived," he said. Sinclair rubbed his hands together and slammed his palms into the perimeter of the transmutation array...and nothing happened: no flash of light, no crackle of electricity; the circle didn't even glow with the familiar neon blue. Sinclair studied over the array for any imperfection in his transmutation circle. He crawled around on the ground looking for stray lines or if he used incorrect runes, but it all checked out.
Sinclair went to his desk and opened up a book with a lock on the cover and began writing. "Dear journal," Sinclair spoke while writing, "I don't know why, but the transmutation array isn't working. It's as though I'm being stopped at step one. It's possible that the chimera is composed of more than just the horse and bird. If so, then it will be difficult to separate it into its original beings. I'll try to perform a deconstruction transmutation. It'll be risky and I could lose the chimera, but I don't really have a choice. If it works, I'll have a better understanding of how many different animals went into it. Once it's been completely disassociated, I'll put it back as is. Then I can try separating it. I only hope Armstrong will be willing to stick his neck out for another test subject if it backfires. Until I'm absolutely certain the procedure is safe, there can't be human trials."
Sinclair erased over the original transmutation circle and drew a new one. He nervously rubbed his hands together and, as before, slammed his palms on the circle. This time, there was a reaction but not the one he was expecting.
The bright neon blue from the transmutation faded and was replaced by a pure white background. There were no discernable features. Sinclair could only tell there was a floor by the fact he was on his hands and knees and wasn't in free fall. In front of him was what looked like a smile suspended in midair gawking at him. Sinclair stared for a few second and then noticed the white silhouette of a miniature horse. He didn't see it at first because the horse blended in so well in the background. And then it spoke.
"Aren't you a cheeky bastard?"
"What is this place?" Sinclair asked.
"This is where Truth lives."
"Yes, the Truth of all things, even the truth of those you look down on with such disdain."
"Who or what are you?"
"I am Truth, All, the Universe, One, and even You. If you want to know more," Truth gestured with its hoof pointing in Sinclair's direction, "it's right behind you." Sinclair turned around and saw a giant monolith hovering in mid-air; its shadow was the only other indication that this place had such a thing as a ground. It had what appeared to be an upside down tree etched on its surface; its roots were at the top and palm leaves at the bottom. Along the trunk were limbs that each ended in a circle. The monolith also had a dividing line running down the middle. Sinclair crawled over to it (why was he crawling, Sinclair thought to himself).
"And the answers I'm looking for is inside?"
"Of course, there's a price, alchemist;" the monolith crept open, "an equivalent exchange. To see your truth..." Truth said as the monolith swung open revealing itself to be double doors into a pitch black room with a giant eye staring from within. Then, shadows of horse heads slithered from behind the giant eye." Sinclair crawled away as fast as he could, but the horse head shadows took hold of him. As he was being dragged away, a pair of blue-green wings materialized on Truth's back. "...I'll have to take your wings." And Sinclair was dragged through the Gate...
Sinclair woke up on the floor with an excruciating pain running along his back as though something that should have been there was ripped off. Some kind of liquid was running from both his left and right back sides. It was warm and thick-blood, his blood. Was he stabbed in the back while inside that dark place, he thought? He tried getting up, but his arms were being held fast. Not only that, he couldn't feel his fingers. He brought his arms together, but instead of arms, they were a pair of horse legs. He didn't feel his fingers because he didn't have any. They were replaced by a pair of hoofs. Sinclair tried to scream out, but there was a metal object in his mouth. It then occurred to him what was going on.
Of course, there's a price, alchemist; an equivalent exchange. To see your truth, I'll have to take your wings.
Sinclair then felt someone grabbing his hair or, should it be said, his mane. Someone forcefully tilted his head until he was eye-to-eye with his assailant. And to his horror, the one who was manhandling him was himself. Sinclair gazed at his own face grinning maliciously at him.
"Grab the head, and you control the whole body," the Other Sinclair gloated.
Author notes: for those not familiar with the Fullmetal Alchemist series, let me give you a quick summary:
Alchemy: the ability to alter the form of matter. But it is not without its limits.
Equivalent Exchange: The fundamental rule of alchemy. In order to obtain, something of equal value must be given in exchange. The real world equivalent is the conservation of matter. Matter can change form but it can neither be created nor destroy, and alchemy is no different but with one major exception: the Philosopher's Stone. Also, equivalent exchange is a philosophy of life that alchemists live by. Never to expect something for nothing and to earn what they have through hard work, though some alchemists only pay lip service to this principle.
Philosopher's Stone: an element that allow for alchemists to circumvent the law of equivalent exchange. Although its form varies, the Philosopher's Stone is usually in the form of a red gem.
Human Transmutation: the taboo practice in which one attempts to create or modify a human being through alchemy. The consequences seem to vary from none for transmuting an animal and a human together to maiming an alchemist who attempts to bring back someone from the dead.
*Author's note: The series isn't clear why trying to raise someone from the dead opens the Gate of Truth but not creating a human chimera.
Gate of Truth: metaphysical and possibly metaphorical structure. It is the source of alchemical knowledge and the entrance to Truth's domain, where no mortals are meant to tread.
Truth: The being/deity who is the source of all alchemy.
Chimera: An animal composed of two or more different animals brought together by alchemy. Humans can also become chimeras. It is the alchemy equivalent to the real world's genetic engineering (though genetic engineering in real life doesn't even come close to the feats of biological alchemy).
Amestris: The landlocked country where most the Fullmetal Alchemist series takes place. Its form of government is a military dictatorship ruled by a man named King Bradley.
Author's note: 'King' is actually Bradley's first name. His official title is actually 'Fuehrer'.
Ishvalians: An ethnic group that is indigenous to the southern most part of Amestris. They are desert dwellers known for their dark skin and red eyes. They worship a deity known as Ishvalia. The Ishvalians rose up against the Amestris government and rebelled. For that, the military was ordered to exterminate all Ishvalians, though some survived the initial onslaught.
State Alchemist: Alchemists who are employed by the military. They are looked down upon for their roles as enforcers and mass murderers for the Amestrian government. They have been called 'dogs of the military' by even other non-Ishvalian Amestrians. They are given individual nicknames that are often associated with their particular alchemic skills. Among their ranks are Roy Mustang (Flame Alchemist), Louis Armstrong (Strong Arm Alchemist), and the author's original character Douglas Sinclair (Lodestone Alchemist).