Hi! Background: one of the things that always buged me is the lack of post-Promised Day stories about what ends up happening to the chimeras. More backgroud: My policy is that if there is none, or there is nothing good write it yourself. Unless you're positive you're going to fail, but you never really know until you try.
This does coencide with my AlMei collection, but I didn't add it there because AlMei is not the main focus/goal/point of this story. I guess I could have used it because there is AlMei in it, but to be honest I'd rather have this be it's own story.
I don't own FMA
Not much happened on Thursdays in the Imperial Palace. If fact, nothing happened on Thursdays. There were never any meetings, no parties, or any other mentionable events. Even the drudgery of the day seemed to affect the Chang Princess, because that was the day she always gave her pupil off to peruse the palace to his liking. Not much was expected of Thursdays, so when a loud and extremely excited cry for the Princess echoed out of the library one Thursday, it shocked many people. Mei, who had been enjoying her lunch at that particular moment, looked up anxiously, wondering what would make the Amestrian yell for her.
"Would you like me to save your food, Princess?" one of the cooks asked her.
"Yes, Lien. That would be amazing. Thank you." Lien nodded and moved the plate of food to another counter. Sighing, Mei stood up and took off for the palace library, all the while wondering what on earth could have Al so excited, especially on a Thursday like this.
When she arrived in the library, a host of slightly scared servants and scholars were congregated near the front of the room; or more importantly, away from the back. One of the servants recognized her and quickly grabbed her arm.
"Princess Mei, we don't know what came over him. The Amestrian was reading a large book on alkahestry when he suddenly started babbling under his breath and then called for you. He's tearing through the shelves trying to find something! We think he might be possessed!"
"MEI!" he called again and Mei winced. She hadn't realized just how loud he was up close. After reassuring the servants that she would pacify him, she forged her way through the forest of shelves. It didn't take long to find him because there were loud sounds of crashing and book slamming. When he came into eyesight, he was violently flipping through the pages of a thick book she remembered making him read a few months ago. Apparently he wasn't finding what he was looking for, because he threw the book down on the floor and started searching the shelves for another one.
"Alphonse Elric, what on earth are you doing? That book is almost as old as your father!" Al looked up and ran over to her and grabbed her hands.
"Mei, I think I've figured it out!"
She tried to ask what he was talking about, but he cut her off and started talking so rapidly she hardly understand what he was saying. It also didn't help that he kept dragging her around to various places in the room.
"Al— ALPHONSE!" she shouted, he stopped and stared at her.
"What are you talking about?" He grinned at her and Mei cursed her heart for fluttering.
"I think I've found the cure for chimeraism." There was a pause.
"Exactly!" he laughed. "That's what I usually do when you give me the day off. Today I was looking through a book you made me read ages ago and I found it!"
"What did you find?" He pulled her by the hand over to another table where a thick book lay open.
"I've told you about Shou Tucker before, right?" Al questioned as he flipped through a few of the pages. Mei was hyper-aware of his hand still enveloping hers. He had told her about the Sowing-Life Alchemist before. It had only been a few weeks after his arrival and plea for her to teach him. There had been tears in his eyes as he explained the reason for his obsession with returning the chimera's to their original form. She still had nightmares about his voice when he whispered the small girl's fate.
"I was thinking about the difference between Nina and Jerso when I found this!" Al pointed to a complex looking diagram. Mei raised an eyebrow.
"What does this do?" Al's face fell.
"Don't you get it?"
"You're showing me a diagram about the relevance of the mind in the flow of qi. What does that have to do with chimeraism?"
"It's like acupuncture. You're familiar with the principle, right?"
"Do you remember when I made you incapable of walking for an hour by only touching your back twice?"
"… I'll just take that as a yes. You used the flow of qi to interrupt the flow of life by touching certain never endings in my back. Couldn't that be applied to the human brain?"
"What do you mean Alphonse? Don't tell me you're thinking of stopping the flow of life to the brain because that could do irreparable damage to—" Al smiled briefly.
"Just give me a minute and I'll explain. So what happens when someone creates a chimera is that they mix genetics of two separate animals together. A normal chimera—as in the kind with a lion's head, goat's body, and snake tail— is mixed on a cellular level that's so basic I don't think they would ever be able to separate. They cells themselves are being mixed together. You can't do that with a human/animal chimera. Animals are extremely complex, but even they can't compare with the complexity of humans. I think that's where Tucker went wrong with Nina. He was trying to mix Nina and Alexander on that same cellular level, which doesn't preserve the human thought process. Honestly, it's amazing Nina could talk at all.
"However, the researchers at Lab 5 must have been smarter than that. Jerso and Zampano still function like any other human, they just have the ability to either grow spines out of their backs, or turn into a talking frog in Jerso's case. To do that the alchemists would have had to preserved their brains the way they were. They would have mixed the animal with their body, but wouldn't have touched the brains, except maybe adding an extra function to allow for transformations."
"But how does this help? Even if their brains are intact, their bodies aren't. There are trillions upon trillions of cells that have been mixed with animal genes. How would you be able to separate the genes at such a finite level?" Mei questioned, her eyebrows close together in confusion.
"That's the thing though, Mei. Their brains are intact. You could go and ask Jerso what his favorite thing to do as a child was and he could answer about throwing rocks at tin cans on a fence."
"But what does that have to do with anything?"
"The subconscious remembers things that the conscious brain could never ever think of remembering. When my body was lost in the gate it didn't have a soul, but it still recognized Ed as my brother and someone who cared about me. It also knew that it couldn't leave until I, meaning my soul, came. When I came along it was my mind that was talking. My mind could recognize my soul, even though it had continued to grow and advance. Their brains are the same, only instead of recognizing their souls they'll be recognizing their old bodies. It's not exactly the same situation, but if they can remember their favorite childhood pastime, they can remember exactly what they used to be, how their body used to function. Every cell process, the exact place of every nerve connection, every function is in their brains. Right now their brains are in an adapted form that allows them to function with the animal genes. But if you could get the brain to reject that adapted form and give it a way to shed the excess…"
"You want to use alkahestry to identify the animal and get the brain to reject it. If we could use alchemy and give control over to the brain it would separate the animal for us!" Mei said, the answer dawning on her.
"Exactly!" Mei smiled at the Amestrian who was smiling widely.
"Al, you're a genius!" He smiled even wider and a small blush dusted itself across his face. "But how would you do that?"
"I don't know. I was hoping you could help with that." Mei nodded, already loosing herself in some quick calculations. Alkahestry was more focused towards feelings then the calculations that made up Western alchemy, but something like this would call for precision beyond any human's mere intuition.
"Well basic alkahestry calls for…"
Al signed his name at the bottom of the page.
"Mei. It's done." The Xingese girl lifted her head from the table where it had been resting. A few moments before, Al had impatiently told her that her constant badgering and reminders were not making the process go faster.
"Are you sure, Al?"
"I've gone over it 23 times. I've never been less sure in my life, and that includes trying to bring mom back to life. Ed was so confident it rubbed off on me. Now I have that failure in the back of my mind." Mei reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't worry. Nothing like that is going to happen again." They shared a small moment, him looking gratefully up at her and her with her hand on his shoulder, before they pulled apart and started cleaning up the room.
"Is that all of the corrections?"
"Brother, Teacher and Colonel Mustang all said that it looked perfect. Dr. Marcoh said that the conjunction of the third pentagon and the innermost circle wouldn't interfere with any dietary functions, which was something I was seriously worried about." Mei nodded.
"When do you think we'll be ready to try it out?" Al let out a breath, something she noticed enjoying doing. Once she walked in on him just sitting in his room letting out giant puffs of air.
"Probably two days. Have you managed to change Darius and Heinkle's minds?"
"No. They both give their congratulations to you, Zampano, and Jerso, but they said that they're come to terms with what they are and would rather stay that way." Al sighed.
"I was hoping to change their minds. No one should have to go through something like that."
"If they're fine with it, you should be too. Would you be comfortable with doing it in two days? If you need to you can take more time."
"No," Al answered. When he looked at her, she saw the fire that she had never seen in his human face, but had heard often enough in an echoed voice. His golden eyes were blazing with determination. "Jerso and Zampano have waited long enough; they're not going to be forced to wait any longer if I can help it."
"Come on Al, you've checked it at least a hundred times by now, if you haven't already corrected every flaw we'll be here next week," an anxious Jerso said, tapping his foot. Al smiled apologetically at the two chimeras that were standing in the corner of the room while Al and Mei obsessed over chalk lines on the ground. Every single angle and curve had been measured, re-measured, erased, redrawn, and then moved slightly at least twenty times.
"Al, I think he's right," Mei said quietly. Al smiled nervously at her. Zampano laughed.
"Man Al, I think you're more nervous about this than we are!"
"Oh be quiet," Al answered with false bravdo. "You'll be back to your normal selves in no time, only you'll be down on your knees cleaning my shoes with your spit."
"Charming image, Al," Zampano quipped. Choosing to ignore the comment, the alchemist turned to Mei who was studying the lines of the circle again.
"Are you sure about the symbols on the third triangle?" she asked again.
"We've gone over this, Mei," Al sighed. "Using the same method as we are for the mixture point is just too imprecise. The process might work exactly how it was intended to, but leave Jerso as a twelve year old boy."
"But I think you're being too vauge and you're missing the element of desire. They want to be human again, so shouldn't their brains—"
"Mei, it's a little late now."
Mei closed her mouth and bit her lip. There really was nothing to be done at this point. Al sighed and turned to the two chimeras who were having a hushed conversation.
"Okay. Who's going first?" Jerso and Zampano exchanged some looks and Jerso stepped forward.
"Al, I've never been surer in my life. If there is anyone who can turn me back into a regular human it'll be you."
Without another word, or giving Al a chance to say something back, he marched into the center of the circle and waited for further instructions. Al looked like he wanted to say something else, but he swallowed what he was going to say and started giving instructions.
"Okay, I'm going to have to ask you to change out of your clothes. I don't want to have to deal with remembering to put those back in the proper place as well."
"But what about the little lady?" Jerson questioned, nodding his head towards Mei, who was looking sort of red.
"I'll be fine Alphonse. Trust me, I've seen worse."
"… okay." Jerso removed his clothes and stood awkwardly in the center, trying to avoid eye contact with everyone else. Zampano had politely turned around and Mie was avoiding looking when she could.
"Now, if you could just stand a little to the left…" Al gave the chimera a few more instructions which were followed to a tee. Finally there was nothing more to arrange or fuss about and Al was forced to prepare himself for the moment. Tension seemed to build up in the room. Suddenly, Al could breathe. He had the power to save or destroy his friend's life. His palms started sweating. No, that wasn't the right way to think. He was going to save his life. No questions asked. Chimera-centric
One deep breath.
He touched the palms of his hands together.
Then his hands hit the chalk lines on the ground.
Light raced through the room and Al now longer had time to take his time. He had approximately seconds before he would end up doing damage to Jerso's brain. Al reached out with his senses, something he had practiced so many times it was ridiculous. Normally he would content himself with just making sure there was a life form in front of him and stick to that, but this time he surrounded the life form until he could almost see Jerso's brain sitting there in his mind.
Something doesn't belong here, he thought to himself. It didn't take long, probably only milliseconds in real time, seconds for him. To him it looked like a grotesque lump, out of place and completely alien. The lump sat there, leeching off his friend and Al was the only one who would be able to remove it.
"Time to go," he muttered under his breath. With metaphysical fingers, he reached out and jabbed the 'lump' in the exact fashion Mei used when she was particularly angry at him. It was a beacon for the array to use. In theory, when the energy met the symbols they had carefully inscribed on the floor, the 'lump' would respond and the brain would begin the rejection process.
At that point, there was nothing more that Al could do. He pulled his mind away from Jerso's and opened his eyes. The room was filled with mist and steam, but the blue light was still leaping around happily in the circle. Mei was standing a few feet away coughing, and he crawled over to her.
"Mei, what happened?"
"I don't know," she said loudly so that she could be heard over the sound of the array. "When it hit the hydrolysis symbols, this happened. Shouldn't it be over by now?"
"I don't know." They held onto each other, waiting for the blue light to calm down. It took a while, minutes at least, while their hearts hammered inside their rib cages. Al's breathing was heavy and he didn't even take notice of his heart racing, something which he usually relished. He would have felt bad about squeezing the blood out of Mei's finger's if she wasn't cutting off the circulation to his arm.
When the light finally crackled away, they stared fearfully into each other's eyes. Now was the moment of truth: either it worked, or their friend was no more. Mei was the first to stand and she graciously helped Al to his feet. When her feet almost gave way in a puddle of condensed water, he wrapped an arm around her and they helped each other to the heart of the transmutation. Once they were near the center, Al beat the air around them with his hand. The steam cleared. The light flickered and cast shadows on the mass in the center.
Screams echoed through the room.
There is another chapter, so please review. It makes me write faster you know!