Author's Note: After a long wait, here is the anticipated finale of "CtR Ep.1: Equivalent Exchange"! Sorry for the wait. Real life happened.
Chapter 10: Truth and Lie
Jade glared at the diminutive State Alchemist, "No!" she barked, "We are not going with you! While I hate to refuse your 'hospitality', we have friends who need our help."
"Oh yeah?" Ed snarled, "I have things I need to set right, and you're the one who can help me do just that."
Off to the side, Winry Rockbell watched as Ed confronted that crazy girl from the hospital.
Jade, heedless of the amount of weaponry trained on her, got up in Ed's face, practically spitting, "Well we also have things that we need to set right! So get out of my way, pipsqueak!"
Veins in the elder Elric brother's face bulged, fit to burst, "What did you just call me?!" he spat back, becoming more worked up by the second.
"Edward!" Izumi Curtis pushed past two of the soldiers and grabbed Ed's arm, holding him back, "Calm down. What did you want me to determine again?"
As pupil and teacher talked, Jade's expression was one of frustrated exasperation, bordering on fury. She wasn't even sure she comprehended what Izumi asked next, all she knew was that these people were keeping her from helping her friends, and being incredibly offensive while doing so.
"You keep me here," she screamed, shocking everyone, John included, "lock us up, interrogate us, kill us, and now you expect me to help you?! Well how about NO you fuckasses!"
"I wonder if the Truth can take sanity as payment," Izumi muttered, mostly to herself.
Jade heard that.
"EEEEENNNNOOOUUUUGGGHHH!" she all but shrieked, green lightning arcing off her body as she prepared to blast them all into next week.
"Fire!" Mustang shouted, and twenty guns spoke, their payload streaking towards Jade.
They never hit their mark. They all became suspended in midair. Everyone stared in shock.
"This is karma!" Jade yelled, accelerating the bullets back at the crowd. All the soldiers in addition to Mustang and Izumi went down. Hawkeye dodged the return fire, but didn't fire her gun, waiting for an opportune moment.
Ed lunged at Jade, swinging his bladed automail arm. Jade sidestepped the slice, and kneed Ed in the gut, augmenting her strength with her power over physics. As Ed doubled over, Jade wound up a punch, wreathing her arm in kinetic space powers and fully intending to punch that damned metal arm right off his shoulder.
"No!" Winry cried, throwing herself between Ed and Jade. She saw what she thought was killing intent in Jade's eyes, and felt that she needed to protect her childhood friend.
"Jade, stop!" John cried out. It was too late.
Jade's right fist, imbued with enough power to vaporize reinforced titanium, slammed into Winry's chest.
It exited out her back.
Blood was everywhere as Ed and John both screamed, one in despair, the other in shock.
Jade was wide-eyed and speechless. What was going on? Nobody was supposed to die. She wasn't supposed to kill anyone.
She withdrew her fist and stepped back, shaking. What had she done?
John spotted the horrified Lieutenant Hawkeye step forward to put a bullet in Jade's head, and John somehow doubted Jade was currently capable of preventing the shot, which under the current circumstances, would result in a justified death.
"Stay back!" John's voice boomed as he erected a chaotic wall of wind in between Jade, Winry, Ed, him, and the rest of the soldiers.
"Winry!" Ed's voice wailed off the sides of the alleyway as his childhood friend choked on her own blood.
"No…" Jade whispered in shock, "I didn't… that wasn't supposed to…"
Furious, Ed stood up and grabbed Jade by the collar of her shirt, lifting her up even though he was shorter than her.
"You," he snarled, "are going to help me bring her back, or so help me god, I will make your death so painful that you'll wish it was permanent!"
Jade stared, terrified, at the short alchemist, who was blazing with all the fury of a thousand suns.
As Ed dragged Jade over to Winry's dying form, the injured Izumi saw the look in Ed's eyes. She knew what he was going to try and do, and tried to call out to him to stop. John's wall of wind drowned out her cries, as Ed clapped his hands together and brought them to Winry's body.
With the crackle of an alchemic reaction, Jade's awareness of the world went white.
It took a few seconds for Ed to adjust, but when he did, he was greeted by the massive, familiar, engraved stone doors. A quite familiar figure stood in front of the door.
"Welcome back, Mr. Al-che-mis-" Truth stopped, frowning, pointing past him.
"What," it growled, "is SHE doing here?!"
Ed turned around to see Jade. However, she looked radically different. Jade lacked any dog-like traits, and was wreathed in emerald flames. Her eyes sparked with green, and her form intermittently phased out in green sparks.
"Where are we?" Jade asked, looking around, then looking down at herself, "and what the hell happened to me?"
"This is beyond breaking the taboo, Mr. Elric," Truth groaned, "You've mixed the powers from two universes together. What were you trying to accomplish?!"
"Wait a second," Ed did a double-take, "you mean she wasn't completely bullshitting me?!"
Truth sneered, "Of course she wasn't, and you knew that! After all, I am the universe, and you. You knew she was telling the truth, but did you trust her? No. Look what's happened now. She is foreign. She does not belong, and you brought her here, to the Gate of Truth. This will have consequences in the long run."
Jade was puzzled, "What gate?" she asked, casting her gaze around, "Who's saying that?"
"Huh?" Ed was confused, but then he realized, turning back to Truth, "she can't see you?"
"Of course," Truth scoffed, "the Gate of Truth resides in everyone in this world. This girl is from another place, though. She has no Gate, and by extension, I do not reside in her. She cannot see me. She can hear me through you, though."
Ed contemplated the situation, and would've loved to speculate on the revelations these new facts made, but got back to the reason he was here.
"So can Jade help me pay for the Equivalent Exchange necessary to heal Winry?" Ed demanded of Truth, who merely rubbed its chin and appeared to think.
"Well," Truth scowled, "I suppose I could. Energy is energy, no matter where it comes from."
"Jade," Ed turned on the girl, "I need some of your power, could you compress it into something?"
Jade thought for a second, before materializing a small, burning sun in her hand, "Will this do?" she asked.
The miniature sun floated over to Truth, who regarded it with curiosity, before responding, "Yes, this will do nicely."
"I have a question," Jade began, "why do I look like this?"
"Ah," Truth smiled, "I may not know much of your universe, but that, I can answer. We are seeing you as your true self. Jade Harley, First Guardian of Earth."
Jade frowned, "But I'm not a First Guardian."
"But Becquerel was, and you are one with him now, are you not?"
Completely lost, Ed interrupted, "So the transmutation worked?"
Truth nodded, "Yes, Mr. Alchemist. Your friend is all healed." It waved as the white world fell apart, "Pleasure doing business with you. Next time, don't bring guests."
Ed's awareness was dumped unceremoniously back into his body, and he staggered slightly, as did Jade, who once again looked as she normally did.
With a gasp, Ed's attention was drawn back to Winry, who was now lacking a gaping hole in her chest. Her clothes weren't repaired though, and were torn and stained with blood. She was frantically patting her chest to reassure herself that she was no longer missing any part of her body.
"Winry!" Ed grabbed his friend, pulling her into a hug, "I almost thought it wouldn't work!"
As Winry comforted a relieved Edward, Jade began to backpedal, whispering to John, "Time to beat it."
They both turned around and ran towards the end of the alley.
Then Fuhrer Bradley blocked their exit.
"Thaaaaaaaanks for the keys!" Vriska laughed at the security guard, who was trussed up in the corner of the interrogation room. He screamed indignantly through his gag, but it came out so muted that Vriska could barely even hear it. She chuckled as she closed the door behind her. Escaping was easy! The only luck she required was opening the cuffs. After, that it was a cakewalk.
Ah, and the guard was kind enough to leave her weapon right next to the door! Their security sucked.
Flourishing the sword, Vriska made her way to the building's exit. The few guards who got in her way ended up missing some rather important extremities. Grabbing a guards pistol, she kicked down the door to outside.
Military personnel stationed outside had their backs turned, lucky her!
"Hello boys!" Vriska cackled, swinging her sword and firing her gun as the guards began to turn around.
[Back to our heroes…]
"How bothersome," Fuhrer Bradley scoffed, walking slowly towards the two God Tiers, "I ask for a simple request, to bring the two outsiders to me, and not even two of my most gifted State Alchemists can do the job. Well, if you can't get others to do it," The Fuhrer fixed John and Jade with a piercing glare, "then I'll just have to do it myself."
Jade and John paled before the murderous aura radiating off of their opponent, but collected themselves and uncaptchalogued their weapons, standing ready to face Bradley.
"Just let us pass," Jade attempted to be intimidating, "nobody else needs to get hurt."
"You're right," Bradley retorted, "Nobody else needs to get hurt. Except for you two."
The bloodlust was palpable. Jade leaned over to John, and whispered, "Get to the ship. I'll deal with these guys."
John nodded, and lunged at Bradley, swinging the Vrillyhoo hammer. Bradley easily parried and skewered John.
Jade's eyes widened in shock, but not because John was stabbed. Immediately after the sword pierced John, he disintegrated into wind. That same wind blasted past Bradley and away towards the ship. The Fuhrer turned to the quickly fading breeze and stared, dumbstruck.
He barely had time to whirl around and block Jade's gunshot. The Witch of Time stood with a smoking Desert Eagle in her left hand, as a single bullet casing fell to the floor.
"Well," Jade smirked smugly, even as John's wind barrier dropped, and Izumi, Hawkeye, and Mustang confronted her, "Let's have some fun!"
Vriska took cover behind a car, as rifle bullets shattered the windows and pierced the doors. Damn! She was pinned! In an attempt to get to that inexplicably-placed Prospitian ship she had walked right into an entire squadron of soldiers. With no time to attack or steal their luck, she had taken cover. Now she was trapped. Vriska couldn't stick her head out without getting it blown off, and she lacked any long-range weapons.
She pulled out a small grub-phone that she had capatchalogued, for some reason. Trollian said that both ectoBiologist and gardenGnostic were offline. Everyone else wasn't even present on the list. Did that mean John and Jade were somewhere here in this world?
A bullet punched through the car close to her head, and she yelped. Well, if they were here, now would be a good time to show up.
Almost as if on cue, a maelstrom of wind suddenly whipped up, knocking every soldier into the nearest hard object, rendering everyone unconscious. Vriska poked her head out, then stood up, laughing. What luck!
Wind powers, Vriska thought, that can only mean…
With a little pop, John materialized in front of her, with a shocked expression on his face.
"Hey!" he exclaimed, "You're one of the trolls, aren't you?"
Vriska stared, blinking, at John, before breaking out in a huge grin, "John!"
The Spidertroll threw herself at John, wrapping her arms around him. It was so good to see a familiar face.
Jade ducked under Bradley's swing, thrusting her own sword at the Fuhrer's abdomen, which he quickly deflected. At the same time, the Witch of Space fired three bullets to collide with the three bullets fired by Lieutenant Hawkeye. Simultaneously, Jade sidestepped long metal chains that leaped out of the ground which had attempted to constrain her, while also dodging the large fireball which leapt into being, where she once stood seconds ago.
Alchemy, blade, flame, and bullet met in sporadic flashes of green lightning, as the five combatants fired, sliced, snapped, clapped, and danced the dangerous dance of combat.
Izumi sent alchemized weapon after alchemized weapon after the nimble young woman, but Jade was just too fast. Every bullet that Hawkeye fired off was countered by another bullet perfectly cancelling out each projectile's momentum. Mustang was snapping so fast he idly thought that his glove might catch fire, yet Jade dodged every single combustion sent her way.
Fuhrer Bradley's sword was a blur, impossible to track with the human eye. Yet, Jade seemed to be able to counter every single thrust, every slice, and every flick of his blade. Her own blade was, too, an invisible blur, glinting every now and then as it caught the sun. Her finger was moving rapidly, depressing the trigger on her pistol to match Hawkeye's shots. The battle itself was beyond the limit of human perception.
Jade was worried. Every nanosecond, she could feel herself getting slower, from fatigue. Sooner or later, she'd slip up. Then she would be shot, stabbed, burned, or captured. Jade put all she had into the fight, but she was outnumbered.
Just a second too slow, the ground twirled up around her, trapping her as the stone settled into place, sparking with alchemical discharge. Dammit! She had hoped she could buy John more time.
Bradley ceased his attack, breathing heavily, as Mustang and Hawkeye let out a relieved sigh.
"You're coming with me," Izumi growled at the Witch of Space, "and you're going to tell me everything you know."
"I think you're forgetting something," Jade chuckled, "Now you see me, now you don't."
With a flash of green light, Jade was gone.
"Wow," John laughed, "So you're Vriska?"
Vriska nodded vigorously, "John, you don't know how long I've waited to meet you!"
"Nice to meet you too," John replied, grinning from ear to ear, "but we've got to get out of here. We've just pissed off a military state, and we need to hightail it. Jade should be here soon, but I need to prep the ship. Want to lend a hand?"
"I totally would!" Vriska nodded enthusiastically, "Let's blow this joint!"
As Jade and John flew up to the ship, on a nearby rooftop a young man in his teens stood alone on the roof. He was dressed in an Amestrian suit, but had a pair of classy shades perched on his face. His short, blonde hair rustled in the wind, as he sighed in a Texan accent, "Well, I guess that's it for now. I hate waiting. I better get back before Kanaya and Rose miss me."
With a muted flash of Red, the young man was gone.
John and Vriska flipped switches, pressed buttons, and brought the massive battleship to life. A gentle, thrumming whine was slowly rising as the turbines slowly began to spin up. Deck plates recessed, and impressive-looking cannons emerged, humming with a contained inner energy.
John released the ship from his Windy powers, and the ship's engines roared to life, taking the weight of the massive craft, and maneuvering it just a bit lower.
"All systems check out," John reported.
"So we're all set?" Vriska asked, to which John shook his head.
"We need to pick up Jade. Then we can leave."
Vriska accepted John's explanation, manning the Weapons-Control station, and swore.
"Grub-fucking son of a bulgesucker! John! We've got a problem!"
John dashed over to Vriska's station. On the view screen, John could see that, a mile away, the Amestrian army had set up artillery units. There wasn't much question as to what they were aimed at.
Puffs of smoke and flame, quickly followed by an audible boom, came from the cannons.
"Evasive Maneuvers!" John quickly moved over to the helm and twisted the joysticks that controlled the ship. Thrusters all along the ship's hull screamed as the Prospitian battleship desperately tried to throw itself out of the trajectory of the incoming projectiles.
It only half succeeded.
John and Vriska were knocked off their feet as the entire ship shook, the sound of tearing metal and explosions clearly echoing around the hull.
"What the hell was that?!" Vriska yelped, nursing a bumped head.
"We got hit!" John swore, picking himself up and checking the helm console, growling, "Controls are fried, we're a sitting duck!"
John kicked in his Windy powers, trying to move the battleship, but the ship automatically resisted the pull, attempting to hold position.
The Amestrians adjusted their aim.
John looked at the view screen with despair. No time to counterattack. No time to evacuate. No time to do anything.
Jade leapt from rooftop to rooftop, traveling at a speed impossible to follow with the human eye. She spotted the Prospitian battleship, hovering a respectable distance above the city. Smoke and flames trailed from very obvious battle damage on the starboard side of the prow.
Jade sped up to blinding speeds, almost instantly landing on the deck of the ship. What could have damaged the ship? She got her answer immediately.
Her bubble of limited omniscience detected incoming projectiles, traveling at high speeds, on an intercept course with the ship. Most likely cannon fire.
Jade reversed their direction.
John watched inside as the artillery cannons inexplicably blew up. What the hell? Not that he was complaining.
"What happened?" Vriska asked, puzzled.
"I happened," Jade kicked open the door to the bridge in a rather dramatic entry.
"Oh, you must be Jade. Hi, I'm Vriska." The Thief of Light offered her hand to the Witch of Space. Jade looked shocked at the appearance of the Troll, but shook the offered hand.
"Jade, introductions later," John interrupted, "We've got to go."
"Right," Jade nodded, moving to the middle of the bridge, closing her eyes and taking deep breaths.
"What's she doing?" Vriska asked, to which John quickly shooshed her.
Green lightning began to spark over Jade's skin, and the air crackled with power. Her clothes began to ripple as if gravity itself was being lessened. A breeze slowly kicked up in the tiny room, blowing around Vriska, Jade, and John's hoods.
Jade's eyes snapped open, eyes overflowing with the raw power of the Green Sun.
Outside, Edward Elric and Izumi Curtis neared the Prospitian Battleship, staring in awe as a massive rift in the fabric of reality tore itself open.
"Edward!" Izumi called out urgently.
"Right!" Edward answered, as both Alchemists slapped their hands together and slammed them on the ground. Alchemical lightning sparked and raced over the ground, as it sped directly under the Prospitian battleship. With an earth-shattering rumble, the ground swelled upwards towards the battleship, shaping and warping with the power of alchemy. A gargantuan hand took shape, reaching up towards the hovering craft, intent on crushing it between its fingers.
One moment the stone fingers encircled the ship, an inch away from claiming its prize.
The next moment, with a flash of green, the ship leapt away into the rift, which slammed shut, as did the hand.
We'll run where lights can't chase us.
Hide where love can save us.
I will never let you go.
Crossing the Rift-Episode 1
To be continued in Crossing the Rift-Episode 2: The Last Heirbender…
Authors Notes:Well, that's the end of this episode. The next one will place our three heroes in the world of Avatar: TLA! Review please, and hang in there. The next episode will be out as soon as I get my hands on "Avatar-The Promise Part 3".