"Hey! You over there!" The shout rang across the hotel lobby. A boy ran across the room towards a short blonde boy and a tall suit of armour.
"Is one of you Edward Elric?" The boy asked as he stumbled to a halt in front of the pair.
"Yeah. Who's asking?" The blonde replied with a cocky grin.
"There's a phone call for you from a colonel mustang," The boy gestured towards the front desk of the hotel."Great, what does he want now," The blonde muttered as he walked. The suit of armour just sighed as he followed the shorter boy.
"Hello," Edward spoke into the phone in a bored manner.
"Fullmetal. Glad to have caught you," Edward rolled his eyes at this statement and waited for the other man to continue.
"I have a new mission for you. There have been a spate of disappearances in the area you are in. Approximately 6 people are missing. Though there may be more that were not reported."
"Isn't that something the local police should be investigating?" Edward said with a frown.
"Normally, yes. But 2 weeks ago a sergeant was reported missing, and last night a captain. With the involvement of military personnel it became a military matter."
"Fair enough. Why me?"
"You are the best suited, as you are already there. You're instructions are simple. So try not to mess this up..."
"What exactly are you implying," Edward growled into the phone.
"You are to investigate the disappearances," Mustang continued as if Edward hadn't spoken. "You are to locate the missing people and if possible return them to their homes. You are also to apprehend the person or people responsible. Do you understand Fullmetal."
"Yes colonel," Edward hissed, still annoyed at the earlier implied insult.
"Good. The last known location of the captain was on the North road. He was seen leaving the town you are currently in at noon yesterday. He never reached his destination, a village 2 hours walk from his starting point. I expect you to report as soon as you find anything."
Mustang hung up the phone without another word.
"Yeah, and goodbye to you too you bastard," Edward muttered into the unresponsive receiver.
"What did the colonel say, brother?"
"Looks like we'll be staying around here a while longer Al. Mustang wants us to investigate some disappearances," They started to make their way to the door.
"May as well start now, which way is the North road?" Edward was looking around without much enthusiasm.
"That way, brother. To the north..." Al pointed towards the road.
"I knew that..." Edward muttered starting in the direction that his brother was pointing. "Al, you follow behind me. Far enough back not to be seen, ok?"
"But... why?" Al was confused.
"Whoever is taking these people is more likely to show themselves to someone who is alone," Edward grinned reassuringly at Al.
"I don't know brother. What if you get hurt?"
"Don't worry Al. I can look after myself. Anyway, you won't be that far away if there's trouble," Edward grinned again. "Now wait here for a while before following."
The blonde moved away from his brother with a cheerful wave, and started onto the road. Leaving an anxious suit of armour in his wake.
As the blonde walked there was little happening to disturb the peace of the day. No other travellers were around, and the town behind gradually faded from sight. The alchemist couldn't even hear his brother, who he knew was following. The uninterrupted peace continued for an hour. Edward was beginning to think that nothing was going to happen on this trip, when he saw a figure approaching from the opposite direction. He tensed ready to fight. Then relaxed as he saw the person clearly. It was an elderly man, bent almost double with age.
As they were passing each other the old man reached out a hand to stop the blonde, who did stop and look at the old man curiously. The old man suddenly straightened with a maniacal grin and threw a handful of powder into Edwards face. The teenager inhaled sharply in surprise, breathing in some of the powder. He took a step back away from the man, but as he took another he found that his legs wouldn't support him. Everything was spinning as he collapsed to the ground. The last thing he saw before everything went black was the old man's still grinning face leering at him.
Alphonse sighed, he had been following his brother for an hour now, and he just couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong. He could just make out a small form in the distance. If it was possible would have squinted, there seemed to be 2 people no, and both appeared to have stopped. The suit of armour increased his place, and then as one of the people staggered and fell, he broke into a run.
He was too far away to reach them before the second person lifted the fallen one over his shoulder and headed away from the road. Al slowed his pace slightly and as discreetly as it was possible for a 7ft tall suit of armour. He watched anxiously as the person carrying his brother entered what appeared to be a cave. He waited for the footsteps to fade before following.
As he entered the cave he found that it was little more than an entrance hall for a stairway that spiralled up into the darkness. Stepping as quietly as he could, Al cautiously began to climb the stairs. Soon he began to hear voices, though he couldn't make out what they were saying. At the top of the stairs, he paused at an archway with bright light streaming through. Al peered through and shifted in surprise at what he saw.
It was a large room, built into the side of the mountain. But it was the far side of the room that really surprised Al. It was made completely of interlinking panes of glass. The view was breathtaking; it showed a clear view of the North road. Al guessed that was hoe the kidnapper chose his victims. There were screens positioned near the widows, Al couldn't see if there was anything behind them, closer to the entrance there was a workbench with containers of chemicals sitting on it. So preoccupied was Al with the view that he almost missed the movement in the room. There were 10 metal tables positioned across the centre of the room, movement from some of the tables confirmed that people were on them. There were smaller tables sitting near the metal ones, these also had containers of chemicals sitting on them.
A man was leaning over one of the tables strapping someone that Al assumed was his brother to the table. All the time the man was muttering and giggling to himself. The blonde on the table was starting to stir. While the man was occupied Al slipped into the room and tiptoed towards the man. He managed to get behind the man undetected and promptly hit the man over the head. The man crumpled bonelessly to the ground.
Al found himself staring into the slightly dazed face of his brother. Who blinked and grinned blearily up at Al.
"See Al, it was a good plan,"
"Brother, you got kidnapped," Al sounded reproachful as he started to undo the straps binding Edward to the table.
"It turned out ok though," Edward stretched out his arms and legs before jumping off the table, a little too enthusiastically. He knocked into one of the nearby tables, causing the containers fall to the floor and smash, spreading the chemicals that were in them to spread across the floor. As the substances mixed together they burst into flame. The brothers looked at each other.
"Quick, let's free these people," Edward and Al started freeing the other captives. There were 6 of them.
"Al, you get these guys out, and take this bozo too," Edward aimed a kick at the kidnapper, who was still out cold on the floor. "I'll check to make sure we didn't miss anyone."
"But brother, the fire is spreading..."
"Don't worry. It'll be fine. Now get going!"
Al reluctantly picked up the kidnapper from the floor and started ushering the rather confused ex-prisoners towards the exit. All the time glancing back at his brother, who was working his way towards the windows. With a final worried glance at the fire that was spreading through the room, Al started down the stairs.
They had just exited the cave when a loud explosion came from the room they had just left, followed swiftly by a massive blast of flame that came rolling down the stairs towards them. Instinctively everyone dove to the side away from the searing fire. Above them huge fountains of fire streamed from the mountain, looking almost like an erupting volcano.
Al stared in shock for a moment before jerking to his feet.
"Brother!" He was prevented from running back into the inferno that used to be a cave by two sets of arms holding him back.
"Don't. No-one could have survived that," the man who had spoken was holding Al's right arm in a vice-like grip.
"You don't know brother! He could still be alive! He could..." Al trailed of as watched the flames writhe like a living creature.
"No, the heat is too intense. And that lad was right in the middle of the explosion," It was the second man that had spoken this time.
Al hung his head, knowing that they were right and wishing that he could cry. He stopped trying to free himself from the men holding him.
"Come on lad, we need to get out of here," The second man spoke again tugging at Al's arm.
Al simply nodded; he turned and picked up the still unconscious kidnapper. He started to follow the ex-prisoners, but paused for a moment looking back at the fiery mountain.
"Brother... you promised everything would be ok..."
Doctor Stone was riding southwards on the North road when he saw one of the surrounding mountains explode with fire. He stopped to stare for a moment before kicking his mount into a canter, moving off the road and towards the inferno.
As he approached the mountain he saw a group of people headed away from the destruction, towards the road and away from himself. The doctor sighed, relieved that none of them seemed to be hurt. He was about to move off again when he saw a glint of light out of the corner of his eye. Curious he dismounted and walked over, something crunched beneath his foot.
"Glass..." He murmured out loud.
He was about to leave again when he saw a splash of colour on the ground, upon closer inspection he realised that it was blood. Looking more carefully now he spotted something he had missed before. The dull gleam of metal. He hurried over and found that the metal was an automail arm attached to a boy. The boy was covered in cuts and bruises, and his hair was so matted with blood that it was impossible to tell the colour.
The doctor frowned and knelt next to the boy, his fingers carefully examining the boy's skull. He winced slightly as his fingers came into contact with a bloody wound.
"Possible fracture to the skull," the doctor spoke out loud again, sitting back on his heels as he did so. "Well if you were injured in that fire, you are lucky to be alive.2
With a sigh the doctor started checking the boy for other injuries. Hoping that he could help the lad to survive.