Disclaimer: No, Fullmetal Alchemist doesn't belong to me. I'm just borrowing the poor characters, with slightly evil intentions.
I just want to let everybody know that this story has been finished, so I will post it till the end.
I want to say a big thank you to my awesome beta-reader, Ssadropout! Thanks for the patience with all the long chapters and the rewritten parts!
The Mind Alchemist
Chapter 1- The Eerie Hands
The clock ticked its way slowly that Monday morning. The store was full of customers as usual, and Mr. Perry, the owner, was in a great mood. Even his weird assistant seemed like a nice person for him that day.
"Andrew! We're running out of water bottles. Will ya bring some up here, kid?"
Andrew looked at him attentively for a few seconds, like he was reading a book with small print. Mr. Perry had gotten used to that by now. Andrew was a young healthy man, but he sure was the weirdest person Perry knew. When anybody talked to him, he would pay attention to every word, but the rest of the time, he seemed to be in a different world.
"Right away, Mr. Perry," he answered, heading to the basement of the store.
Andrew went down one of the aisles, hoping not to meet anybody. He could hear too many people talking all at the same time already.
"It's not my fault! I swear to God it's not my fault…"
"I'm afraid there's nothing we can do…"
"It's my birthday, Dad…"
Andrew shook his head, trying to focus on anything around him. The door to the basement. It was dark, made of wood, and the knob was almost falling off. Andrew tried to focus on the doorknob that needed to be repaired. The voices quieted for a moment, and Andrew started counting the steps as he walked down the stairs.
"One, two, three…"
He tried to picture each number inside his head. The numbers seemed to take away all the rest.
He used to be successful in keeping everything away from his mind, but lately, it had been difficult. He had received some worrisome news and realized he needed to do something about his life. He should have done something before, but no. He hadn't done anything. However, that was about to change.
He took the water bottles upstairs and rushed back to the basement. There, under the faint light of a lamp, he opened an old notebook with yellowed pages. Carefully, he studied the alchemy symbols drawn on it in another time. As no one was around, he got a pencil and drew the symbol on a piece of cardboard. When he touched it, the cardboard moved in the air, taking the form of a hand. Andrew looked at his work with a smirk. He hadn't attempted alchemy for years, but surely hadn't forgotten it either.
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One week later
Central City had always been an interesting place to walk around and see the stores. However, for Edward and Alphonse, coming to the capital usually meant work.
"What does this have to do with us, anyway?" Edward complained loudly, laying the newspaper on the restaurant table to look at Alphonse.
The armored boy moved a little on his chair, wishing it was big enough to accommodate him more comfortably. His metal body made a noise, drawing people's attention to him. Alphonse was already used to it, so he just ignored the weird looks cast upon him.
"Well, the guy is an alchemist," he said.
"Yes, I get that, but come on! Some weirdo is transmuting hands out of stone on the streets, and now Mustang orders me to come here? He should be able to deal with this by himself."
Alphonse sighed in frustration. Edward had been the one to join the army. As he got paid for it, he should expect some work to do.
"If you ask me, I think he just likes being a slave driver," Edward groused, folding the paper and handing it to Alphonse in case the younger Elric wanted to read it.
The waitress brought Edward's lunch, and the boys were quiet for a few minutes, until the older alchemist finished eating and stood up. They left for the headquarters, hoping to meet Mustang as soon as possible. This way they would find out what they had to do before they could resume their search for the Philosopher's Stone.
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"Tell me again. Why are we here?"
"Because you decided to be an army dog. Now you have to do what you're told to do, Fullmetal," Mustang replied dryly, getting a file from the drawer.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. But why do you need our help? Are the higher-ups on your ass again, and now you need our help?" Edward asked, crossing his legs and leaning back on his chair.
Mustang didn't show any signs of having been bothered by the offenses. In fact, he couldn't care less.
"We want to arrest this guy, but he's no big threat. We can't spend time and money placing guards on every street, so I thought you could do something to deserve your salary for a change."
Edward raised an eyebrow at him, annoyed, before Mustang continued.
"We are going to be patrolling in the street tonight. This guy has transmuted something every night, so we'll be looking for anyone suspicious."
The Colonel handed Edward the file he had. Inside it there was a bunch of photographs, from six different transmutations. They were basically all the same, hands, made out of the walls of buildings or the pavement of the street. Some of them were about two meters high and they all had been transmuted in places where they hampered the traffic or blocked the sidewalks.
The mysterious alchemist surely had called attention from the press. Even the radio news broadcaster had mentioned him almost every day in the past week.
"We're going to patrol tonight, right?" Alphonse asked this time.
"That's right," Mustang replied, getting some documents Lieutenant Hawkeye had just brought. "That will be all for now. I want you to be here at six in the evening."
"We'll be here," Alphonse said, while Edward didn't bother to say anything else.
The two brothers left, hoping to get some rest since they might have to be awake all night long.
And just like they had already expected, all of them had to spend the whole night patrolling. Edward had paired up with Havoc and was very tired when the first beams of sunlight showed up early in the morning. Havoc was much taller than Edward, and the alchemist had to hurry up to keep up with him. He could have asked Jean to walk more slowly, but the older Elric would never admit his height to be a problem in any situation. Alphonse had been patrolling with Falman and just like everybody else, hadn't found anything.
As seven o'clock approached, some lower-rank soldiers who had been out in the street came looking for Mustang. They met Hawkeye near one of the small military posts in the city and informed her of a new transmutation. A giant hand had been transmuted from the wall of the city's post office, only four blocks away from the military headquarters. The press would make the soldiers look like some lousy joke when they heard about that.
"Oh, that's just great," Mustang said sarcastically, when he saw the huge hand connecting the post office and the building on the other side of the alley.
The transmutation was big enough to link the two buildings, which were separated by a narrow alley. The hand emerged elegantly from one wall, and its index finger touched the opposite wall. If it could be called art, it would be considered interesting. But right there, adorning the dingy alley, it looked eerie at best.
"I can turn it back to normal," Edward offered hopefully. He just wanted to call it a day and leave.
"Not now. We'll look for any clues first. You can canvass the area, check if anybody saw anything. I'll deal with that," Mustang concluded, pointing at a group of reporters, armed with cameras and notepads and complaining at the soldiers who didn't let them come closer.
Edward sighed in frustration and joined the other soldiers, who were already discussing who would go where to talk to all the people who lived in the area. After such a long night he just wanted to go to a hotel and sleep, but nobody would be able to do that any time soon.
"When we find the moron who transmuted that, I'll kick his ass!" the alchemist complained to his younger brother.
"I wonder what this person wants to accomplish with these transmutations. They have to mean something," Alphonse said, looking around.
Havoc and Fuery were discussing about the area around and from which windows somebody might have seen something. Falman was talking to some other soldiers, Breda was at the other end of the alley looking for anything out of the ordinary, and Hawkeye was underneath the transmutation, examining it.
"Let's see if they found anything interesting," Ed said, trying to keep the sleepiness away.
The two brothers joined Lieutenant Hawkeye, who was looking at the symbol drawn on the wall with chalk.
It had been drawn carefully, which suggested the person had taken some time there.
"This is a very good place to hide and draw," Riza told the boys when they stood by her side, also examining the symbol.
"Yeah… The walls would hide anyone here," Edward admitted, as he couldn't see the windows of any apartments from that specific place.
However, the light of the transmutation coming from a dark alley in the middle of the night should have called somebody's attention. After all, they were near the headquarters and there should be soldiers around.
"He got lucky nobody saw him," Breda said, joining them as well. "There were many guards around this area."
Edward was going to say something in agreement, when they all heard a metallic noise. Something like dust fell on Alphonse's suit of armor, and then a loud crack was heard.
Colonel Mustang was trying to calm the reporters by saying the army was dealing with the case and would soon solve it, when he also heard the loud crack coming from the alley. He held his breath when he turned around and saw the big hand, transmuted out of the wall, falling apart. Underneath the big transmutation, were Hawkeye, Breda, and the Elric brothers. Havoc, Fuery, Falman, and other soldiers who were around, started yelling, telling the others to get away from there.
The transmuted hand broke in pieces still in the air. Loose bricks came down in Breda's direction and hit nothing but metal. Alphonse had been quite fast and had managed to shield the red-haired soldier. Together, the two of them ran into the alley and away from the collapsing hand. Edward and Hawkeye, on the other hand, ran in the opposite direction, trying to get out of the alley and back into the main street.
For a moment, Mustang was relieved to see them getting away, but then realized that part of the collapsing structure was going to fall right on their heads. A considerably big part of it.
Edward could have tried to transmute something to shield them, but the whole thing was falling apart. In panic, he managed to transmute the pavement in a catapult style, propelling both him and Hawkeye away from the danger. A loud explosion followed, destroying some pieces of bricks in the air, and guaranteeing their safety. Mustang had managed to explode one last piece of the wall, which had been tossed in their direction.
"Are you all right?" Mustang asked in a worried tone, coming to help Hawkeye get back on her feet.
The other soldiers were coming as well to check on them. Even though Edward's alchemy had tossed him and Riza a couple of meters in the air, they had no serious injuries.
"I'm OK," Hawkeye replied, taking the hand her superior offered to help her stand up.
"Edward?" Mustang asked the blond boy, who was still on the ground, in the same position he had landed, not very glamorously.
"OK," the lad said, sitting up and rubbing his head with a painful expression.
Breda and Alphonse came back, after walking around the block. The transmutation had fallen apart completely, but luckily, no one had been injured. As Mustang sighed in relief, the crowd started to gather around the entrance of the alley, where the soldiers ordered people to go away.
Andrew brushed his blond hair away from his eyes and observed the soldiers in silence. There, in the middle of the crowd, he wouldn't call any attention to himself as he tried to sift the voices. He had just noticed something interesting, that black-haired man. The colonel who had been talking to the press. Andrew struggled to get closer to him, paying attention to the sounds other people could not hear. He mentally sifted through hundreds of voices, trying to distinguish the one that belonged to that man.
And then he heard something. In a mix of emotions, the voice Andrew wanted to hear echoed inside his head. Colonel Mustang was about 15 feet away from him, staring at the ruined alley, not saying a word. However, his voice stormed inside Andrew's head, talking about things that had happened a long time ago.
Andrew made an effort to focus on that man's voice only, as he studied him, searching for what he needed. A weakness. The night had been long, but had been definitely worth it, Andrew thought, as he finally found what he wanted. Funny enough, nobody suspected the quiet and skinny lad among the horde of reporters.
A/N: So, what did you think so far? You'll understand more of what's going on quite soon. Be brave and come back for the next chapter! And don't forget to leave a review with your opinion! Thanks for reading and see you next week!