An Unsound Soul
A/N: I'm so sorry that I haven't written more in several months. This fic will only be one more chapter after this one. It's not that difficult to wrap this up with a cherry of tragedy on top (just difficult to make the right words come, urgh!) With that in mind, I'm gonna skip the vast majority of the Soul Eater canon material that would show up here and jump into things in medias res to give this a succinct final stretch.
Medusa's Plan! To the Kishin's Prison?
So much had happened so quickly. Up until the night of the DWMA's gala, Alphonse had thought Ed… Rasa… was doing much better. Though the blond had never showed the faintest hint of remembering who he had been, he'd been pleasant to Al, even kind. But that had all changed in an instant, like an actor in a play taking off his mask. As soon as Doctor Medusa revealed herself to be a witch, Rasa had run to her side, calling her "Mother" affectionately. Hearing his brother say something so deluded to the woman who had destroyed him would have twisted Al's intestines into knots, if he'd had any.
Medusa and her "son" had hastily taken their leave after that, and only by the intervention of the DWMA's zombie teacher, Sid, had Soul, Maka, Professor Stein, Spirit, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, Liz, Patty, and Al escaped from a spell that, moments after their rapid departure (straight down), had sealed everyone else inside the room where the gala was being held. Which meant, in no uncertain terms, that stopping Medusa and her cohorts was up to the ten of them.
As they stood in the bowels of the DWMA's deepest dungeon, a place that Al had only just learned was the prison of a demonic being called a kishin, the witch herself slithered out of the shadows to greet them.
"Where's my brother?" Al demanded at once.
She chuckled with twisted amusement. "Dear little Rasa is further in. He's such an obedient child, and he was ecstatic when I entrusted the Black Blood to him. To think the kishin will be awakened by a naïve little alchemist from another world that I wrapped so easily around my finger – it's laughable!"
"Shut up!" thundered Al. "You evil, evil woman! I won't let you use him any more!"
"That's cute," she snickered. "You'd better have some actions to back up those words, armor-boy."
Cursing, Stein drew the students and Al in for a huddle and laid out a battle plan. He paired up one team of meister and weapon(s) against one of Medusa's accomplices: Black Star and Tsubaki against Crona, Maka and Soul against Free (who that was, Al didn't know), and Death the Kid and the Thompson sisters against (Al's imaginary stomach did a sickening backflip when he heard the pronouncement) Rasa, leaving Spirit and Stein himself to face Medusa.
The professor gave Alphonse a moment's comforting look, one that Al took to mean, "When you get to Rasa, Kid will know to let you take over the fight." Nodding to his students, the stitched-faced man set his jaw. "Ready?"
A moment later, the three teams were darting through Medusa's Vector Arrow attacks. Kid and Black Star made it past the witch with relative ease, Maka barely avoided getting impaled before she broke through, and Al snagged on one or two of the black arrows before he pushed onward to follow the others. At least Medusa didn't strike at their backs as they plunged into the dark corridor from whence she had come. Stein and Spirit immediately kept her too occupied for that. As the suit of armor and the DWMA students pressed forward, Al's thoughts turned to Rasa. For the sake of his brother's memory, he would not let Rasa wake this kishin monster. Please, let me get to you in time. Please!
Crona seemed even more skittish than usual, Rasa noticed. The two brothers and the werewolf named Free had reached the spot where Crona was to remain and fight off pursuers, but the spindly boy stood frozen, knees knocking and teeth chattering. There was no way he could fight in that condition.
"Hold this for a sec," Rasa told Free, handing him the light briefcase that held Mother's precious Black Blood. The werewolf accepted the container, raising an eyebrow as the little blond traipsed back to where Crona trembled.
"You gonna be okay?" asked the younger brother. "Did that dungeon mess with your head too much?"
Crona looked at him with his wide, sad eyes. "It's… it's not that, R-Rasa. I… I think I've f-finally r-realized something."
"And what's that?"
"It's… it's about Lady Medusa."
Rasa's amber eyes narrowed. "What about Mother?"
"She… before tonight, when she came to f-free me, she'd ignored me c-completely. I kn-knew it in my g-gut, but… she really doesn't c-care about me at all, d-does she?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" scoffed Rasa.
"She's never c-cared," protested Crona, sniffling. "Not ever. I've only… only ever been a t-tool to her. After tonight, she'll have d-done what she came here to d-do, and… she won't n-need me anymore." After a solemn pause, the purple-haired meister added, "Or you."
That pronouncement took longer to sink in. Free ended the silence by half-barking, "Come on, kid! We should get moving! I smell someone coming!"
But Rasa did not move. He only stared in horror at his elder brother until he found his voice. "What… what do you mean, Crona?"
"Lady Medusa uses people, always. And once th-they've served their purpose, she…" He drew a hand across his throat in a slicing motion.
"But Mother wouldn't—"
"It d-doesn't matter," Crona cut in. "Even though I'm… we're her sons, she w-wouldn't hesitate to kill us if we outlive our u-usefulness."
Rasa set his jaw, golden eyes ablaze. Whatever was going on in Crona's head, it was a distraction. He pushed aside all doubt and countered, "Then I'll make sure I'm indispensible to her. You can do what you want, Crona, but I'm going to see this through. I'm going to make Mother proud!" With that, he returned to Free and grabbed back the handle of the briefcase. "All right," he nodded to the werewolf, "let's go!"
The tunnels seemed never to end. Alphonse ran at top speed after the retreating back of Kid on his rocket-powered skateboard (which Al had to assume was powered by magic, since trying to derive a scientific explanation made his head dizzy). Black Star was just a little ways behind them, and Maka had already dropped back to duel the Demon Swordsman, Crona – a split-second decision that had thrown all their other plans awry. For Ed's sake, Al hoped Maka wouldn't have to kill Crona. However confused Rasa might be, Al had witnessed firsthand how fiercely protective of a brother the blond still was. If Crona was killed, that could destroy any hope Al had of reforging a connection with his elder brother.
Then again, maybe there had never been any hope, since Rasa's friendliness to him had only been an act. That thought bit at his soul like an icy wind.
"I can't afford to wait for you, Alphonse!" Kid's voice was getting farther away, Al having been lost in his thoughts.
"Don't worry; I'll catch up!" he called back, quickening his pace. At least this body couldn't get tired. He could push himself to the limit for as long as was necessary. One foot in front of the other, he told himself. Keep running. Don't stop. Faster. Faster. Faster!
The waves of madness grew stronger and stronger as death weapon and werewolf drew ever nearer to the kishin's prison. It seemed, however, that Rasa had a higher resistance to the hallucinations produced by the madness than Free did, a realization which made the blond pleased that Medusa had chosen him to carry the Black Blood. She knew what her darling son was capable of and trusted him to get the job done: a rather satisfying prospect.
When they reached their destination at last – a vast, dark chamber that echoed eerily with the clanking of chains – Free fell behind almost immediately, frozen in terror.
"What is-?" Rasa began to ask, but his words caught in his throat as a torrent of cold washed over him. He could swear that ghostly hands were reaching through the floorboards, grasping his ankles, pulling him down, down, melting his flesh and bone into wood. He was falling, falling, falling…
"STOP IT!" The sound of his own timorous voice shook him from the grip of the vision, and he backed away from the spot, panting. Free was strangling himself and crying out like a wounded puppy, but he came 'round once Rasa slapped him across the face a few times. "Get a hold of yourself," the blond chided, not only to his companion, but also to his own mind. The werewolf, somewhat abashed, hardened his resolve and heightened his alertness to their surroundings.
He could make out the kishin's leather-bag container now, suspended by many chains covered with talismans. They were so close now, so close. Rasa could almost hear the monster breathing from inside that bag, waiting for the small blond to free him. Come closer, little boy, a voice like the faintest wind beckoned. Come… come closer…
I am coming, don't worry, Rasa's thoughts responded. Drawn by the kishin's aura, the young death weapon sprinted, closing the distance between himself and the monster in under ten seconds. No sooner had he done so, however, than Free let out a fierce snarl and rounded to face the double doors by which they had entered. The next moment, that meddlesome Reaper, Lord Death's son, came barreling in on a flying skateboard, followed closely by Black Star. Rasa cursed under his breath. Free wouldn't be able to hold off those two for long, so he would have to act quickly. He set down the briefcase and threw open the lid. There were all the tools he would need: an empty syringe and a canister filled with Black Blood.
After transferring the liquid from canister to syringe, he stood with the giant hypodermic in hand and faced the bag which held the kishin's shriveled form. Well, it wouldn't be shriveled for long. Rasa drew back his arm to thrust the needle into the bag, but something he didn't anticipate intervened.
Or, rather, someone.
The clang of metal resounded throughout the chamber as his arm hit steel and rebounded. The syringe landed on the floor, though, by some dark miracle, the glass remained intact as it rolled away. Hissing, Rasa whirled on the piece of scum that had dared even attempt to stop him from completing his mission and found… Alphonse Elric. Damn, he must have been behind Black Star. I should have known. No matter…
"If you want to free the kishin, you'll have to go through me." There was no gentleness in the metallic voice now, only solemn acceptance. It was clear that the armored warrior would offer no more mercy, no more indecision.
For a moment, though, he hesitated. This delusion of Alphonse's that Rasa had been his brother had created a strange friendship between armored soul and kishin egg. True, most of it had been a façade on Rasa's part, just a cog in the gears of his mother plan, but… not all of it had been fake. A fool Alphonse might be, but he had never been cruel to Rasa, never looked at him with eyes this cold. Did that mean he had been pretending, too?
Yes, the madness whispered in his mind. Everyone lies. Everyone except Mother. We can trust no one but her. Go on, now. Kill this human. Kill him!
All of this deliberation happened in an instant, and then it was decided. Alphonse Elric was just another obstacle, just another weakling whose soul he would consume. The very thought made him salivate, and he licked his lips greedily.
"Is that so?" he intoned, his words coming out as a blend of a purr and a snarl. "Fine by me."
A/N: Almost there. Just one more chapter! (I'm ready to FINISH this thing!)
Crona: "She… before tonight, when she came to f-free me, she'd ignored me c-completely. I kn-knew it in my g-gut, but… she really doesn't c-care about me at all, d-does she?"
Rasa: "Pretty much. Sucks to be you."
TRALALALALALALALALALALA TRALALALALA TRALALALALALALALALALALA TRALALALALAAAAAAAAAAAA
Kid: "I can't afford to wait for you, Alphonse!"
Al: "Aw, come on! :C This armor is heavy!"