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Karenjade
I bought the "Full Metal Alchemist" movie this Christmas and I was quickly inspired to write a bit of a continuation about my favorite character from the movie!. Enjoy!. Hope you'll let me know what you think!. wink.gif

The Gate
A fan fiction inspired by the “Full Metal Alchemist” movie, “Conqueror Of Shambala”
By Karen

Chapter 1
Equivalent Exchange

I stare upwards in shock and horror at the scene playing out just above our heads. The blood of Edwards father, Professor Von Honhenheim Elric, gushes out like water from an open floodgate through the jaws of that captured dragon-like creature. That huge device above the balcony which Ekhart called “The Gateway to Shambala” started to activate and glow like something out of a Jules Verne novel, contrasting sharply with the dim light of the night-time factory.
My best friend sinks to his knees in despair, looking almost the same as when I found him in that empty run down apartment that day after his father left without a so much as an explanation or a goodbye. No matter what Edwards bitterness towards Hohenheim, I could always tell he missed his father, and this loss, along with the memory of the loss of his mother, must be almost more then he can bear. I felt the same way when I lost the last remainder of my own family too…
I should have known from the start, the minute I heard that “pure, blonde, blue eyed Aryan” nonsense out of Haushofer and Hess, that my colleagues and I were being used! I should have listened to people like Professor Huber at the university who see the Nazi party as they really are;(1) I should have listened to Edward that night instead of just thinking of myself and running off like that! Now this country is in danger of being hijacked by criminals who will no doubt make things even worse then they already are, and Eds world could suffer too!
I see Ekhart raise her arm and point her gun at Ed, who looks too distraught to notice or care. Almost as calmly as signing her own name, she fires a single shot.
“No!” I gasped, but from where I was I was unable to do anything except stare helplessly as my best friends body falls from the ceilings balcony and onto the floor of the factory.
“Edward!” I hurry to his side. Had I been a religious person rather then an atheist, I probably would have prayed to whoever may be up there that my friend was alive. Luckily, as it was, there turned out to be no need for that.
The bullet had only hit the mechanical ligaments of his false arm. He was breathing regularly and his pulse was normal. Aside from a few scratches and bruises he was fine. He should wake up and be his usual charming self in a few minutes. I heaved a sigh of relief.
My assistants all looked at each other in surprise and concern.
“What should we do now?” Loa asked nervously.(2)
Dorchet swallowed. “I don’t know. They’re probably going to come down here looking for him.”
Bido and Barry nodded in agreement.
“What if Hess and Haushofer find us with him?” questioned Bido.
“Worse, what if Ekhart does?” Barry added.
I hope they aren’t implying what I think they are…
“We’d better take him to Ekhart and Haushofer,” Loa says with a shake of his head. “If we hide him and they and the others find out…”
“I don’t want to even think of what will happen if we cross the Thule Society,” Dorchet agreed.
The group starts to advance towards the still unconscious Edward…
I couldn’t let them do this! Quickly, I scrambled to my feet and moved between them and Edward.
“No!” I pleaded. “Don’t!”
They drew closer, but seemed surprised to hear me speak out like that.
“Come on, Heiderich,” Dorchet snapped. “Get out of the way!”
“If Eckhart or the others see us helping Elric after what just happened, we’ll get the same, or worse!” Bido insisted.
But I wasn’t budging. Of course I was nothing compared to the whole group of them, I wasn’t even a fighter, but they could beat the tar out of me all they liked. I wasn’t letting them turn Edward in!
“You heard Hess and Eckhart!” I say, trying to reason with them. “They’re going to use that porthole and our inventions to invade and attack Ed’s home unless we can get him there first!”
“But what they’re doing could help our country…” Barry argued, though his face seemed unsure.
“By dragging it into another war when we’re barely recovering from the last one? Is that how you want everyone to think of Germany, that we’re stupid enough to make the same mistake twice?”
And then it happened; that pain in my chest that I’ve had for the past year. The pain and coughing spells the doctor had said would take my life in less then two years. It couldn’t have picked a worse time to show itself to my crew!
This time, it was worse then usual. It actually brought me down to my knees, trying to catch my breath. I leaned down, covering my mouth, and my hand came away with blood on my palm again, just like when I had argued with Edward.
“Heiderich!”
They each knelt by me and Loa put a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you all right?” Dorchet asked.
Bido and Barry eyed my bloodied hand in alarm.
“I’m fine,” I lied, “I’m fine… but… if we have any pride left… in yourselves or this country… we have to help Edward before it’s to late.”
They helped me to my feet, which I gratefully assumed meant they finally saw the logic in my argument.
Loa looked around at the rest of the team.
“But… What do we do now then?” he asked.
I took this chance to pull Edward to his feet, placing his arm around my shoulder to support him.
“See if you can inform Munich Command about the uprising if someone hasn’t already,” I answered. “Get the police, anything, just please hurry!”
They all nodded and murmured in agreement, then turned and made their way out of the factory…
I watched them go in relief. Even if the authorities found me here and I was arrested for taking part in the Thule’s plans, I would rather spend my last days in jail as atonement.
I managed to drag Edward over to the closest rocket, a one-seater biplane. With two engines on each side, four in total, and speed over eleven kilometres a second,(3) Haushofer had calculated these would be enough to get through any kind of pressure or phenomenon.
Carefully, I pulled Edward up and placed him into the seat. Then after fastening him in with the safety buckle, I waited by his side and watched as he started to stir…
“Really, you’re the lucky one, Ed,” I sighed quietly as he regained consciousness.
His eyes flew open and he sat up with a gasp in the seat of the rocket.
“Shhh,” I quieted him, placing a finger to my lips.
Edward looked around him in near disbelief. “What is this?” he demanded, lowering his voice.
“I’ve set everything up so you can go back home,” I explained quietly. “You can take this second rocket while Ekhart isn’t looking. You ready?”
To my surprise, he gave me a shocked and wounded look, as if I had betrayed him or something, then he looked down at his false arm where the bullet had grazed his sleeve.
“Right in the fake arm,” I murmured. “Good thing she’s a bad shot.” Then, of course, I just had to explain the rocket to Edward. “Our rockets peak at over eleven kilometres a second.(3) Should be enough speed to punch through the pressure and get out safe. That’s Haushofer’s theory anyway. This one seater shouldn’t have any problems.”
“Wait a minute!” Edward snapped in alarm, “I never said I wanted to go!”
I just can’t win with you, can I, Ed? For two years all you could talk about is your home world and how you couldn’t wait to give this one the shaft, and now that you finally have the chance you don’t want to go? Well, sorry, but I’m not about to let you back out now. Your world needs you to protect them from Ekhart, and your brother, your real brother, needs you too.
“I’m not giving you a choice, Ed,” I answer gently with a patient smile.
He places his hand on the side of the rocket, next to where mine is resting…
“Because I’m in the way? You’re trying to get rid of me,” he accused, that betrayed look on his face again.
I had to shake my head at his obliviousness. Trying to get rid of him? Didn’t he know how much I dreaded the thought that the stories he’d been telling me since I’d met him might actually be true, and that he might one day leave and never come back? My whole family, my parents and my older brother,(4) were taken from me thanks to the Great War and meeting Edward Elric brought back memories of my brother, another Eduard, just like he’d always said I made him think of his own brother, another Alphonse…
Sometimes I even allowed myself the brief fantasy that Edward and I really were brothers, a real family; If things had been different, if Ed didn’t belong to some other world and I had had longer to live, we could have stayed and done what we could to help this country and this world… Maybe we could have kept working together on rockets and been among the first to ride them into space… Maybe we could have gone to each other’s weddings, lived next door to each other and raised our families side by side…
“We’re real Edward,” I tell him softly, “not just a part of your dreams like you thought.”
His eyes widened at this. He was probably surprised to hear something so philosophical from a rocket science geek like me.
“I care and I make mistakes,” I continued. Yes, huge mistakes, but hopefully I can correct this one. “I may not live much longer, but I’ll still be here.” I force a smile. I know this is probably the last time I will ever see my best friend again, so I warmly place my own hand over his in a final gesture of farewell. “Just don’t forget me.”
I close the seats top hatch, forcing myself to pay no attention to Edwards protests. If I don’t go through with this now, I might just change my mind.
“Alfonse! Alfonse, wait!” he screams, no doubt trying to undo the safety belt and struggling with it. “Alfonse! Dammit!”
I pulled down the lever to launch the one-seater rocket and I smile in accomplishment as I watch my creation rise up towards the opened porthole that leads to Edwards world…
Suddenly, I hear hurried footsteps and Hesses voice not far behind me.
“What?!” he shouts in surprise and anger.
He takes out his gun and aims it at the rocket, but it’s to late, Hess! Edward is already on his way back home, and he’ll stop Ekhart from doing to his world what you and the rest of those warmongering fascists who dare to call themselves our fellow Germans are trying to do to ours!
Then another shot is fired… A biting pain in my back and through to my chest… but I cling to my smile as I collapse onto the cold floor next to the rockets controls… My work here is done…
They say when you’re about to die you see your whole life flash before your eyes, well it’s true for me in this case… I can see my childhood days, the happier times before the war… I see my parents’ faces, Vati(5) with his glasses and wise, typically teacher-like expression; something about Professor Hohenheim always reminded me of him…
I see Mutti(6) wearing her favourite dress and apron, with her hair tied back over her shoulder, and her warm smile…
Then I see my older brother; The two of them, Eduard and Edward, definitely resembled each other, and when I met Elric he was close to the same age my brother was when he died, though one always kept his hair short and the other wore his long and tied back…
After losing all three of them by the time I was ten, I was pretty much on my own until I met Edward Elric when we studied together in Romania under Dr Oberth…
Yes, we were both fairly different; I kept my illness to myself, but I still wanted to be as open and giving as possible with the people around me. Edward however usually never allowed himself to get emotionally involved with anyone, saying he didn’t want to get attached to this waking dream, this Hell. I’ll admit, it hurt to hear him refer to this world like that.
I was an atheist, like him; but while my own scepticism came from lack of sufficient evidence of a higher power or being, his seemed born out of a kind of resentment or anger towards any sort of faith or belief.
I was a fan of scientists like Einstein, etc, while he would dismiss them as eccentric,(7) though we both read Oberths “Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen”(8) several times over when it came out.
Still, Edward and I had many things in common too; After Hohneheim ran off he became like me in that he had no immediate family to go back to, and both of us had lost brothers whom we were reminded of every time we looked at each other… Did Edward only accept my friendship because he saw me as a replacement for the other Alphonse though? Just a copy or a clone? I guess I’ll never really know now…
I can feel my life’s blood running out through my wound and my body grow number, but strangely enough I am at peace… Maybe it was better this way… Maybe it’s better that my death should come quick like this, instead of painfully and slowly…
I know I’ll probably be written down in the books somewhere as a collaborator to a treasonous crime, instead of as a rocket engineer who helped give his downtrodden country something to be proud of like I wanted, but I can at least hope I did something worthwhile and meaningful for Edward and his world, and that he won’t remember me with hard feelings…
I hear someone else approaching and a woman’s voice cry my name… I am gently turned over onto my back to see the worried, tearstained face of Noah…
I force another smile for her, even though I can almost no longer feel my body and I am struggling to keep my eyes open... I’m not mad at the Roma girl for what she did; if anything I’m even guiltier then she is; We were both being lied to and used by people like Eckhart, Haushofer and Hess… I’m glad Noah is here. After all, I don’t think anybody really wants to die all alone…
“Alfonse,” she pleads, gently brushing my bangs away from my eyes, “Alfonse, don’t die! Edward already left for his own world; Please don’t leave me too! You have to stay awake! Hai shala?”(9)
Thank you for caring, Noah. I’ve asked Frauline(10) Gracia to let you stay on and give you a job in her flower shop if you want it... I hope you know I never believed all the unkind things people like Officer Hughes say about the Roma... I wish I could stay, but, like Edward, I don’t seem to have a choice now…
Auf wiedersehen…(11)
My body gives a final shudder in her arms and my eyes close… I draw my last breath as darkness overtakes me…
I suppose this might be what Edward would have called “equivalent exchange” in those stories of his; In order to obtain, something of equal value must be lost. In short, you can’t get something for nothing. He always said that was the principal rule of alchemy in his world…
I have no idea if Edward considers me to be of equal value to his own brother or not, but I don’t mind being “traded” so that my best friend can save his world and get his real family back. Maybe by helping him save his world I’ve helped my own in some way…
The pain is gone and I am surrounded by light almost similar to what came from the opened porthole…
To my surprise, I find myself approaching a strange, large, black door… It looked similar to a picture I’d once seen of a sculpture by Rodin… I believe it was called Gates Of Hell…(12)
I shudder at that. Could this really be Hell? Was this the punishment for my mistake of getting involved with the Thule Society, or for my selfishness towards Edward that night?
“No,” comes a familiar voice from beside me. “No, it’s not Hell and you’re not going to die.”
Startled, I turn to see Edward himself there, and beside him is a younger boy who is practically my own mirror image with the exception of his sandy colour hair that he wore tied back, just like Edward, and his hazel eyes. This had to be the brother my friend was always talking about, the other Alphonse…
Slowly, the gate begins to creak open, and I remember one of Edwards stories; it was about how he’d said he came through this very gate into my world… I gasp and back away nervously…
“It’s okay,” the other Alphonse says with a cheerful, reassuring nod. “Go ahead. This is the only way.”
“After all you did for me, this is the least we can do for you,” Edward adds with a smile. “Go on.”
As surreal as this was, if I couldn’t trust my best friend and his brother, who happened to share my name and my face, whom could I trust? I took a deep breath and remained still, allowing myself to be drawn closer towards the gate as it opened further…
The last thing I remember was Edwards voice behind me…
“His life on this side of The Gate for a life on the other side. I just hope that’s a fair exchange.”(13)

To be continued...

(1) Kurt Huber, who would have been a young professor at the University of Munich at the time, was one of the members of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet campaign, lasting from June 1942 until February 1943, that called for active opposition against the Nazi party. Today, the members of the White Rose are honored in Germany as great heroes who opposed the Third Reich in the face of deadly danger for such resistance.
(2) Not very creative of me, but I just named Alfonses assistants after their Amastris counterparts.
(3) In the English dub it was 2 kilometers per second, but in the Japanese sub, and the collectors booklet, it was 11, so I stuck with that.
(4) A reference to the last episode. This seems to be a popular theory among fan fic writers that Edwards Earth counterpart, supposedly killed in the German air raid on London, Sept. 8, 1915, was Alfonse Heiderichs older brother.
(5) Father or Dad.
(6) Mother or Mom.
(7) I’ve watched episode 50 and the movie, so I know Ed thinks Einstein is pretty fishy, but I don’t really know weather Alfonse is a fan of the scientists ideas or weather that’s fanon.
(8) "By Rocket into Planetary Space", Oberths controversial book on space travel which came out in 1922 or 23 and is mentioned in the movie.
(9) “Do you understand?” (Roma)
(10) Miss.
(11) Goodbye.
(12)Supposedly, this very sculpture by Rodin is exactly what The Gate is based on.
(13) Okay, okay! I know this is probably a huge stretch for the FMA fandom purists, but bear with me here, allrighty?
Karenjade
Chapter 2

Misery Loves Company

“Boys?” came Muttis saddened voice as she gently knocked on our door. “It’s almost time for your father to leave. “Please come down and say goodbye.”

My fifteen-year-old brother, Eduard, looked up angrily from his desk where he had been studying.

“All right, all right, Mutti. We’re coming.”

I got up from my bed where I had just been attempting to read the first chapter of one of Eduard’s favourite books, “From The Earth To The Moon”, and having a fair amount of success since I read quite well for an eight year old.

“Come on, Alfonse,” Eduard said, taking my hand as we followed Mutti downstairs. “Lets get this overwith.”

I raised my head up to meet the dark look on his face.

“Brother? Why are you so mad at Vati now?,” I just had to ask in my naivety.

As long as I could remember, Eduard and Vati had always been close to eachother and seemed allot alike from their appearances to their interests, but ever since war had been declared things in our home had grown tense between them.

“Don’t start with that again, you know why,” my brother answered bitterly. “He’s a teacher, not a soldier, yet he still accepted that draft to fight in this damned war!. It’s like he’s walking out on us!.”

“But brother? Didn’t he say he would be arrested if he didn’t go?.”

“So what?,” he snapped. “At least it’s better then leaving us to go off and get himself killed out there!.”

At these blunt words I gasped and my eyes came close to filling with tears at the thought.

Seeing the stricken look on my face, Eduard sighed and tussled my hair affectionately in reassurance.

“Besides,” he added a bit more gently, “when Mutti thinks of him going off to war she gets so quiet and sad. That’s reason enough to be mad at him.” (1)



Slowly, I found myself coming back into consciousness… My eyes flickered open and I let out a deep breath… After realizing that I was uninjured and able to move, I sat up and then rose to my feet…

Wait! Uninjured?!

I distinctly remembered the pain of a bullet piercing through my back and through my chest… I remembered collapsing to the cold floor, certain these were my last moments…

Gingerly, I brought my hand to my chest where I had felt the bullet graze through… but there was no wound, or even any blood… Could this be because I was already dead?…

I looked around me for the first time since regaining consciousness… If I was dead, this certainly didn’t seem like a place one would go after they died… It looked like the long abandoned alleyway or sidestreet of a city that almost resembled Munich or Berlin…

I supposed, until I was told otherwise, I could assume that I was still alive somehow…

A tad self consciously, I walked down the alleyway and through another empty street. It appeared this place was deserted because of whatever calamity had recently struck the city. Judging from the ravaged buildings and rubble, it could have been anything from an earthquake to an attack.

I was debating with myself on weather I should try to find someone to ask for information, and possibly help, or weather I would be safer staying hidden for now, when I heard the sound of a gunshot in the distance. That made my decision for me.

Moments later, I heard heavy booted footsteps nearby. As quickly as I could, I scurried behind the remains of a wall or building that had been reduced to near debris, but at least it was intact enough to hide me.

My curiosity getting the better of me, I peered out carefully to see at least three or four soldiers walking hurriedly by. They had guns and were wearing helmets, like any military, but their dark blue uniforms were completely unrecognizable to me.

From where I was, I could just make out their voices as they passed by…

“So there hasn’t been any reports of survivors among the enemy attackers?.”

“No, it’s just like the last attack. Either they were all dead before getting here or we managed to kill them all off.”

“Lucky for us. Bad enough we’re still recovering from the last wars. We don’t need to get caught up fighting some other kind of world.”

Other kind of world?… What was this place?… Was it at war or something, like Germany had been?…

It was times like this I wished us Germans had been born a race of mice, because, quite frankly, what good does it do to be a person in a time like this?.(2)

Soon the soldiers had gone and it was quiet again…

I finally felt safe in coming out of my hiding place, so I peered out from behind it and prepared to take a step out…

“No, wait!,” a small voice hissed.

Startled nearly out of my wits, I gasped and nearly fell over backwards!.

I spun around and found myself standing across from an odd looking little girl with pale skin and dark clothing. Now where on earth had she come from?.

“There are more soldiers coming,” she said quickly, not bothering to take the time for introductions. “I can hear them. You have to wait ‘till they’re gone.”

Sure enough, almost as soon as I darted back behind the wall with her, several more blue uniformed helmeted soldiers came down the street.

“I thought I heard something over there,” came one of their voices.

“We’d better search it out. The General’s just arrived back at Central and his orders were to comb the whole area.”

The little girl and I stayed huddled behind the wall as the soldiers passed… We waited for several minutes until it was quiet…

We peaked out again from behind our hiding place and saw the coast was clear…

“I think it’s allright now,” the child said, breathing a relieved sigh, then she looked at me questioningly. “What are you doing? Trying to get out of the city?.”

I wasn’t sure… though that seemed like the safest bet right now… I nodded…

“May I go with you then?,” she asked.

“Me?,” I hissed, “Why me?.”

She shrugged. “Who else?.” Then she stepped out into the open…

Still adjusting to the shock of it all, I hesitated…

She looked back at me and gestured to the old wire fence across the street.

“That’s the way out of the city, if you can get across without them seeing you.”

Still, I hesitated, and laid my shaking hand against the wall to steady myself.

“What? Oh, are you scared?,” the little girl asked.

“Terrified,” I muttered, then I forced myself to step out from our hiding place…

We hurried to the fence and I immediately attempted to climb it, with not much success since I had never been very athletic.

“Here, look,” came the girls voice.

By some great form of luck, a section of the old fence had been torn and she was able to crawl through the hole.

“Thank you, little mouse,” I murmured gratefully. I followed her lead and managed to squeeze myself through, but not without catching the sleeve of my jacket on a wire and ripping it.

We headed down the next deserted city street in the direction that would hopefully take us out of this place…

After afew moments we turned a corner that led to an empty city square and there I saw the last thing I would have expected to see…

It was covered in a slimy black substance and fairly damaged, but it was still recognizable as the one seater rocket I had sent Edward home in!.

“I don’t believe it!,” I gasped as I approached the empty, broken down vehicle.

My new companion examined it curiously.

“What is it?,” she asked, “some kind of car or plane?.”

I placed a hand on its door thoughtfully.

“It’s a rocket I helped make,” I explained, “though I’m not sure how…” here my voice trailed off as I did the math… That had to be it!. If this really was the rocket that took Edward back to his own world then that must mean I…

Ich glaube nicht diesem!(3)

I nearly sank to my knees in disbelief!. No, I wasn’t dead, but somehow I had wound up in Edwards world!.

So this was the “home” my friend had been talking about, and from the looks of it he had arrived safely. Maybe this meant he had been able to stop Eckhart and reunite with his brother. From the looks of things, the attacks had ceased.

I was brought out of my thoughts by that little girl, who was now tugging at my sleeve.

“Who are you? What’s you’re name?,” she asked me.

“It’s Alfonse, Alfonse Heiderich,” I answered as I got to my feet. “Thank you for helping me, little frauline, now I think it’s time you went home.”

She would be fine I assured myself. No doubt she lived somewhere close to here and could find her way home easily. Besides, after two years of Ed, I was already through with babysitting.

In response, the girl slowly climbed into the broken down rocket and started to half-heartedly play around with the dead controls.

“Maybe I’ll use this, or maybe I’ll take the train,” she said. “Ding ding!,” she pretended to ring a bell, “Where would you like to go? Do you have any money for your fare?.”

I shook my head in exasperation.

“Oh, come on,” I sighed. “Get out of there. You have to go home now. Where do you live?.”

She said nothing…

“Well, where are your parents then?,” I tried again.

Once again, she said nothing.

This was just getting more and more frustrating.

“Well, do you at least have a name?.”

The girl shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“It’s Misery,”(4) she answered simply.

Not that it didn’t fit her with her strange dark clothing and less then cheerful expression now, but I didn’t believe it.

“That can’t be true,” I argued. “What parents in the world would name their child Misery?.”

“The bad lady named me,” was the unexpected answer. “She wasn’t my mom.”

What could she possibly be talking about?.

“What bad lady? Who?” I demanded.

Again, Misery was silent… Then an angry look came over her pale face…

“She said that I belonged to her. She said that I had to work for her, but I didn’t want to, so I ran away.”

Well, I didn’t know what to make of that revelation!. If she had run away from someone whom she perceived as “bad” then that could mean whoever that was may be searching for her…

“Allright, allright already,” I finally sighed, giving in. “You can stay with me, but only until I get this figured out. Understand?.”

Misery smiled and nodded, and I helped her out of the seat of the rocket…

“Hey, you two! What do you think you’re doing there?!.”

Startled, we both spun around , expecting to see those same armed soldiers from minutes earlier… Instead, there were two young women running towards us; One with blonde hair and wearing a brown jacket and another with tussled brown hair wearing a blue skirt uniform…

“Misery, stay behind me,” I said as they approached. There was really nowhere to run or hide now that we had been spotted.

Without a peep, the child obeyed, though she clung to my hand.

The blonde haired girl arrived first, and the look on her face when she saw me was as if she had seen a ghost, not unlike the look Edward had given me when we first met.

“Al…?” she whispered…

Al? That had been what Edward called his brother, the other Alphonse!.

Then the young woman looked a bit closer at me and shook her head.

“No, you’re not Al. You can’t be.”

I took a step towards her. I just had to find out what was going on here!.

“Do you mean Alphonse Elric, Edwards brother?,” I asked. “Do you know them? Can you tell me where they are? Are they together? Are they allright?.”

“Whoa! Whoa!,” she raised a hand, stopping my questions. “First off, who are you two?.”

“Yeah, and how come you’re wearing Als face?,” the brown haired woman piped up nervously. “Are you some kind of shape shifting alien who can enter the bodies of it’s victims or something?.”

She adjusted her glasses with one hand while poking my arm cautiously with the other.

“Excuse me,” I crossed my arms in indignance at the ridiculousness. “I am not now, nor have I ever been an alien.”

“But that’s what you’d say if you were an alien, isn’t it?.”

“Oh, Scieszka!,” the blonde girl sighed, brushing the paranoid ones hand away from me to avoid further prodding, “give it up!.” Then she turned back to me and Misery. “But seriously, again, who are you?.”

“My name is Alfonse Heiderich,” I explained, “and… well… this is Misery.”

The little girl peeked out from behind me and gave them a small, shy smile which they returned.

“I’m Winry Rockbell and this, of course, is Scieszka,” the Blonde girl introduced them.

Winry Rockbell? Edward had mentioned that name often when he talked about his home world!

“You’re Winry?!,” I smiled. “Edward told me about you. I’m a friend of his!.”

At this, her huge blue eyes went even wider.

“You’re a friend of Eds? You mean from that other world he’s been stuck in for two years?.”

“That’s right,” I answered eagerly, “but I helped him get out. Is he here?. Is he with his brother?.”

The two women looked at eachother for a moment… then finally Winry shook her head sadly.

“Ed went back to the other world… and Al went with him.”

“They did what?!.” I nearly fell over. “But why?. This is supposed to be their home!.”

“General Mustang said Ed was talking about closing The Gate from the other side, and that he had to find and destroy a dangerous weapon,” Scieszka explained. “Al decided to go too.”

“I see…” I said quietly… So, Ed had finally shown some concern for another world besides his own… Maybe now he would accept that it was just as real…

At the very least, I was glad my friend had found his brother again, and that they were together. This all had to mean that Eckharts attack had been thwarted one way or another. I only hope the law had as much success in stopping the uprising back in Munich…

“Well, if you’re a friend of Eds, then you and Misery are welcome here,” Winry said with what looked like a forced smile. Obviously, she had taken Edward and Alphonses leaving quite hard. “I’ve been invited to stay the night with the Hughes family before I go back to Risembool tomorrow. You two can come along if you don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Misery looked at me pleadingly with her own pair of wide blue eyes.

“Can we go, big brother?,” she begged. “Winry seems really nice, and I’m hungry and tired.”

I smiled wearily down at her. “That makes two of us, little frauline,” I sighed. “Allright then, let’s go with Winry.”

“I’ll go back to Central Command,” Scieszka chimed in. “They’ll want to know how much progress is being made out here before they send more relief work teams.” Then with a last wave at Winry, she headed back in the direction they had come from.

After Scieszka had left, Winry then headed towards a nearby pay phone which had miraculously not been completely destroyed in the attack.

“I’ll just call the house first and let them know I’m bringing you guys,” she said.

“That’s fine,” I agreed as I lifted a tired Misery onto my shoulders. “It’s interesting, I know a police officer named Hughes where I come from.”

Though Winry didn’t hear me because she was already at the phone making the call.

It was then, now that things seemed to have calmed down and fallen more into place, that I took notice of something strange that I hadn’t before… There was no more pain in my lungs, and I hadn’t coughed once since arriving here…

To be continued...

(1) Deja vus anyone?. Keep an eye out for a few more parallel flashbacks in future chapters!.

(2) This whole meeting scene with Alfonse and Misery was inspired from the scene in “Jakob The Liar”.

(3) “I don’t believe this!”

(4) Okay okay! I know this is another taboo in the FMA fandom, but I believe I heard somewhere that there was initially supposed to be an eighth deadly sin of Misery or Despair. I may be wrong now, but please, no flames!.
Karenjade
Chapter 3
Familiar Faces

(Germany, 1914)

Dinner was almost ready and Eduard and I had just finished preparing the table. Since the beginning of the war meals were never as good as they had once been, but at least with my mother and brother holding down jobs in that metallics factory, and me managing our own garden at the side of the house and doing little odd jobs around our small neighbourhood, we had enough to keep us from going completely hungry.
“Really, Mutti,” my brother shook his head, “you should have let Alfonse and I make dinner tonight. They worked you harder then usual today. You have to have some rest. You’re looking a little paler, and that cough is back again.”
“Oh, it’s all right, am liebsten,”(1) she smiled as she served up the meal she’d managed to make with the latest ration coupons. “You have your studies to think about if you want to get into medical school after all.”
Eduard’s dream for as long as I had known him was to be a doctor, and he’d told me it was because both Mutti and I had nearly been lost when she gave birth to me. He had known from that day that he wanted to help save others from sickness or injury, and he studied and crammed endlessly when he wasn’t being overworked alongside her in the factory. How either he or Mutti managed it, I didn’t know.
We all sat down together at our table, a table that had one less chair now thanks to Vati being conscripted into the army.
“But I’m doing this to try and take care of you and Alfonse,” he contradicted her. You shouldn’t have to work so hard, and I’m the man of the house while Vati is away.”
“And then me when Eduard is away, right?” I piped up in my typical eight-year-old cockiness.
They both laughed.
“Yes, then you, sonnenschein,”(2) she agreed as she served me my helping.
“Mutti, when do you think the war will be over so Vati can come home?” I wanted to know.
At this, she and Eduard looked at each other…
“I don’t know, liebling,(3)” she finally admitted sadly. “All we can do right now is wait and pray for it to end soon, no matter who wins or loses.”
“The idiot never should have gone to war in the first place,” my brother cut in bitterly. “If he hadn’t have left he’d still be teaching and you wouldn’t have to work so hard.”
Mutti shook her head.
“Eduard, please, your father made the choice he felt was best for this family and this country,” she scolded gently. “When he comes home, you must not speak so badly of him. Do you understand?”
My brother said nothing, but nodded sullenly…
I sighed as I picked at my plate. This war had spoiled everything, I thought. It made Vati leave to fight, it made Mutti really sad and sick sometimes and it made Eduard angry. If only this war had never happened, then Vati would be here, Mutti wouldn’t be so tired and Eduard wouldn’t be mad at him.


(Central, Amastris, 1917)

“The Hughes’s house is only a block or so away from here,” Winry explained. “I try to come visit them whenever I’m in Central.”
Thank goodness I had met Edwards de-facto girlfriend, I thought, otherwise I would have been stranded in this place with only the memories of his stories as a guide. And after two years who knew weather all of his memories were one hundred percent accurate?
“So, you say Edward lived with you for two years?” Winry continued. “Tell me what it was like. What did you two do during that time?”
I adjusted a tired Misery on my back.
“Well, it’s a long story,” I began. “Edward and I met when we studied with the rest of the team under Doctor Oberth in Romania. We were both interested in rocketry, though for different reasons; Me because I wanted to help prove the scientific worth of my country even though we’d lost the Great War, him because he was trying to find a way to get back here, though I never would have believed it until I saw it.”
The blonde girl sighed sadly.
“And still he and Al left here to go back to your world…”
I swallowed, feeling a tightness in my throat. I had long since resigned myself to dying young, and I was satisfied knowing that I had helped my best friend get back to his world to protect it and reunite with his brother, even if they had decided to leave their home at least they were together, but it must have hurt Winry allot to see them both go.
“I’m sorry,” I say quietly. “From the way Ed always talked about this place, I had thought he and his brother would have stayed here instead of going back to get themselves involved in my worlds problems.”
Winry ran her hand through her blonde bangs.
“It’s all right,” she said. “General Mustang told me what happened so I can understand why they did it. I’m just glad I got a chance to see Ed again, to know for sure…” Here her voice trailed off slightly… then she forced another smile and asked “So, you two studied rocketry together, hmm?”
“That’s right,” I answered with a nod, “and then when Oberth went back to Munich the team came too. By then, Hohenheim had left without a word and Ed was on his own, not even able to pay rent on their flat, so I let him and that box of spare arms and legs of his move into the spare room in my own apartment.”
“I’m glad he was lucky enough to have somebody like you for a friend then. I guess he must have told you how much you look like Al, right?”
I smiled.
“He did, more then once actually.”
She gave me a sad laugh.
“That first time I saw you, I could have sworn you were Al. Your coloring is pretty different though.”
That was what Ed had said too.
“Who are Ed and Al?” the little girl on my shoulders asked, curious and not wanting to be completely left out of the conversation.
Winry smiled up at her and gently stroked her dark brown hair once, very lightly.
“They’re friends of ours who had to go away,” she explained.
“Oh,” Misery breathed, then she tapped my shoulder. “Big brother? You and Miss Winry are my new friends now. Does that mean you’ll have to go away too then?”
I really didn’t know what to say to that… I wasn’t sure how I had ended up in Edwards world, or how to get back to my own… I wasn’t even sure how much time I had left to live at all…
“I really can’t answer that right now, little frauline,” I admitted. “I don’t know what’s going to happen myself, but I promise that I’ll make sure you’ll be all right.”
She said nothing in reply, but at least seemed satisfied with the answer.
By now we had reached the farther, more suburban part of the city, which, miraculously, looked like it had been spared the worst from the latest attacks.
Soon, we stopped at one of the many large houses surrounded by well cared for lawns, and enclosed by neat fences with stately looking gates.
Winry knocked on the door of one of these houses, and a moment later the door was opened by a smiling little girl with ash blonde pigtails who looked like she couldn’t be more then six or seven, just a little younger then Misery.
“Winry!” she cried excitedly when she saw the blonde girl. In a minute she was in Winrys arms exchanging warm hugs.
“Hey, Elicia!” Winry gave the little girl a kiss on top of her pig tailed head. “Where’s your mom?”
“Elicia, dear,” a seemingly familiar voice scolded lovingly from a room down the hall, “I told you not to answer the door unless I was with you.”
Then, to my surprise, a person I thought had been left behind back in Munich came walking down the hall to greet us with her familiar warm, welcoming smile.
“It’s okay, Mommy!” little Elicia chirped. “It’s Winry!”
I stared at the kind faced, ash blonde haired woman in near disbelief!
“Frauline Gracia?” How could she possibly be here? And what had happened to her flower shop and apartments?
“Yes,” she greeted me. “I’m Gracia Hughes and this is my daughter, Elicia. You must be Alfonse Heiderich and little Misery.”
If she thought the little girls name was odd in any way, she didn’t show it. I suppose Winry had already talked to her about us when she phoned her.
“Winry told me she would be bringing you two along,” Frau(4) Hughes said. “You look like you could use a good meal.”
Still a little shaken, I helped Misery down off my shoulders while Winry and Frau Hughes talked about what to serve for dinner and where everyone would stay tonight.
With a friendly smile, Elicia approached Misery.
“Hi!” she greeted the other girl, offering her hand. “I’m Elicia! Do you want to play?”
Misery looked at the outstretched hand for a moment… then, smiling back shyly, she took it…
“Sure,” she said eagerly, looking as if this was the first time a child her age had offered to play with her. “I’m Misery.”
Gracia leaned down and placed a motherly hand on each of their shoulders.
“That’s a good idea, honey,” she said, “why don’t you show Misery your room and your toys while I get dinner ready. I’m sure there are some nice clothes you can lend her for awhile too.”
At this, Misery turned an anxious blue-eyed gaze to me…
“Big brother?”
I smiled and nodded.
“It’s all right,” I assured her. “Go with Elicia. I’ll be right down here.”
Reassured, Misery followed Elicia and the two little girls made their way up the stairs hand in hand.

**********

This Gracia turned out to be as good and gracious a hostess as the one I remembered back in Munich. While Winry helped her finish making dinner, I did my best to earn my keep by preparing the table and cleaning up.
Soon dinner was ready and the girls were called down to the kitchen.
Little Elicia had not only shared her toys and dolls with Misery, but had lent her an outfit of a blue sweater, white blouse, pink skirt with shoes and socks. Thankfully, even if the clothes were just a little small, they were comfortable enough for her to move around in for now. At least Misery had discarded her previous ugly black clothing so she no longer looked like she was going to a funeral.
Dinner was followed by a delicious apple pie, which the girls devoured, and I admit, being fairly hungry myself, I might have eaten faster then usual.
After everyone had finished, Elicia and Misery did what they could to hep Winry and I clean up and take care of the dishes, for which Frou Hughes thanked us warmly.
Then we were shown to where we would be staying for the night; Winry was given the guest room she always used when visiting Central, Misery would share Elicias room and I was given a cot in the work office.
“I have to say, Winry’s right,” Gracia smiled fondly as she showed me the office where I would be staying. “You really do look allot like Alphonse. Even though he didn’t remember most of us after Edward disappeared, he was always such a nice boy when he and Winry came to visit. It’s terrible that he disappeared in the attacks.”
I had to wonder, what would she have thought if Winry and I told her the whole truth, that the two Elric brothers hadn’t really disappeared and were now in a completely different world, where there was another woman who shared her name and her face?
I then noticed some pictures on the desk nearby… I wouldn’t have gone over to look at them, only I could have sworn I saw a few more familiar faces in a military group picture…
A man who looked exactly like stern officer Hughes back in Munich smiled cheerfully out from the picture! Only he wasn’t wearing his city police uniform, but the strange blue uniform I’d seen on the soldiers earlier.
“Is this your husband?” I asked in near disbelief. Then I mentally smacked myself! Where did I think I got off asking personal questions to someone kind enough to let a stranger stay the night?
Her eyes grew sad…
“Yes, that was my husband… Brigadier General Maes Hughes…” she said softly. “He was killed in action a little over two years ago.”
Killed in action? The Herr(5) Hughes I knew was still alive, and probably the only action he’d seen before the uprising was breaking up a drunken brawl or two at the beer hall.
“Oh… I’m sorry Frou Hughes…”
I debated weather or not I should tell her that in my world Herr Hughes was alive and well, not to mention secretly in love with a woman who looked and acted just like her, but she would probably accuse me of mocking her and think me as crazy as I had first thought Edward. Never mind what would probably happen if these people knew I was partly responsible for the machines that had just been used to try to destroy them!
“It’s all right,” she thanked me. “Elicia was only four at the time. She waited for months for her father before she finally understood he wasn’t coming back.” Then she pointed to two other figures in the group photo. “That’s General Roy Mustang and Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye.”
It was all I could do to keep myself from gawking! If the Gracia and Hughes in this world resembled the ones in mine, then the serious looking dark haired man and blonde haired woman in the photo were exact mirror images of Professor Huber from the University and his girlfriend, Clara Schlickenrieder! They were the last people I would have imagined to be in the military!(6)
“Well, goodnight, Alfonse,” Gracia said as she handed me some bedding for the cot. “I’ll take you, Winry and Misery to the station tomorrow after breakfast.”
“Danke,(7) Frou Hughes,” I thanked her. Heaven knows, she didn’t have to be so generous. “Goodnight.”
With a last kindly smile and a nod, she left the office and I was alone with my thoughts…
I was in Edwards world, that was plain enough to see, I thought as I placed the bedding on my cot. The question was, how did I end up here, and how could I get back to my own world? Could I even get back at all, or would I have to spend my last days trapped here?
I sat down on my makeshift bed and placed my arms around my knees with a sigh… I wondered how many more familiar faces I would see in this world… Now I know how Edward must have felt, being flung into another world, away from all the people and places he was used to with no known way of getting back…
“You’ll never know what it’s like to be trapped in a dream,” my friend had accused me once when I had laughed off another one of his stories.
Well, now I think I can understand, Ed. Did you do this? Is this your way of getting even, by putting me in the same situation you were? Or maybe this really is just a dream…
I lay down with my head rested behind my hands… Maybe tomorrow morning I would wake up back in my apartment in Munich, I thought before my tiredness overcame me, “then I would joke with Ed at breakfast that his stories really must be getting to me because I had a crazy dream about the world he said he’d come from…
Maybe when I woke up things would be back to normal…

**********

(1) Dearest
(2) Sunshine
(3) Darling
(4) Mrs
(5) Mr
(6) I found myself wondering who Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye would be in our world, so I decided that if Frank Archer could be Eric Hanussen and Fuhrer Bradly could be Fritz Lang, etc, then Roy and Riza could be Kurt Huber and his future wife, Clara!.
(7) Thank you
RavenHair
I'm really enjoying your story so far. It's definitely a new direction for a squeal and it gives our world's Alfonse a more depth into the story line. I like how you are setting this up. Can't wait for your next chapter. happy.gif
Karenjade
biggrin.gif Thank you for the comments!. Yeah, I wanted to explore our favorite rocket engineer a bit more and create a reverse situation of him trying to cope in Edwards world! Heh! The next chapter will be ready as soon as possible and there will be more interesting stuff to come! wink.gif

QUOTE(RavenHair @ Jan 12 2008, 08:13 AM) *
I'm really enjoying your story so far. It's definitely a new direction for a squeal and it gives our world's Alfonse a more depth into the story line. I like how you are setting this up. Can't wait for your next chapter. happy.gif

Karenjade
Allright! Here's Chapter 4 all done!. Enjoy!. wink.gif

Chapter 4

A Life For A Life

(October 8, Munich, Germany, 1923)

My brother and I look up at the shining mass of energy that was the porthole and gate between this world, the world he had been living in for two years, and our own world… I had left our home world for good, jumping onto his ship at the last minute and stowing away in that suit of armour to be with him again, but I felt no regrets…

I wanted to be at Brothers side, no matter what. I wanted to see the same things, to learn what he learned and keep on journeying together, like those years we were looking for the stone. Despite all the hardships, those were the best times we’ve had...

“Destroying that gate’s going to be a challenge without alchemy,” Brother notes wryly.

Apparently, alchemy was not supposed to work in this world, or at least not the way it worked back in Amastris.

I move to take my rightful place beside him. Even though I had had my body back for two years after four years of being sealed in a suit of armour, it was only now that I was with Brother again that I felt completely whole.

“Between the two of us, we’ll figure it out,” I assure him.

We smile at each other, and I feel that in spite of everything that has happened since Brother came crashing, literally, back into Central with the carnage that followed, I couldn’t be happier…

But then my brothers smile fades as his gaze rests by that dark haired girl who looked like Rose, the girl whom he had called Noah…

She is again slumped down on the factories floor and returned to cradling a still form of a young man in her arms…

“Alfonse…” Brother whispers, lowering his head sadly…

Alfonse? Could this be the other Al that he had mentioned back in Central?

Taking a breath, I slowly approach Noah, and I notice the blood staining the boys white shirt…

“Is he?” I ask softly…

Sadly, she nods and a tear trickles down her cheek and onto the boys pale face…

I kneel down beside them and stare down in amazement at my own features… It feels almost like I am looking into a mirror…

Without really being sure why, I take off my gloves and gently trace a finger down Alfonse’s face, brushing Noah’s stray tear from his cheek…

“I’ve had dreams about this world… dreams where I was seeing through your eyes…” I think as I run my hand over his closed eyes and brush the stray blonde bangs from his forehead. “Brother said you looked after him for these past two years, then you sent him back to our world so he could save it and we could be together… Thank you… I… I just wish it didn’t have to cost you so much…”

Mom… poor Nina… Mister Hughes… Dad… Each of those losses had taken a toll on Brother and I… though, as I stare down at the peaceful face of my look-alike, for the first time it feels like I am watching a part of my own self die…

I am the one responsible for opening The Gate on the Amastris side and I am partly to blame for the damage and the lives lost in that attack… Is this my fault too? Had I murdered a part of myself?

“I’m sorry, Edward,” the police officer who looks exactly like Mister Hughes offers sympathetically. “I know he was a good friend to you.”

There are murmurs of agreement and looks of pity from the other men who have accompanied him here.

Brother just nods slowly… His expression is nearly unreadable but his eyes hold the same look they’d had at Moms funeral, when he’d discovered Nina and Hughes deaths and when he’d told me what happened to Dad…

The man with the brown hair and moustache, nursing what looks like a bullet wound that has bled through the arm of his suit, shakes his head.

“Such a pity,” he sighs. “That bright, bright boy. He was so young. I’m so sorry.”

At this, Brothers head shoots up and his eyes narrow dangerously. I’ve always known that this was not a good sign.

With a growl he lunges at the man the suit and seizes him by the collar with both hands.

“Sorry!?” he yells. “Sorry doesn’t cut it, Haushofer! You and the Thule Society were Alfonses sponsors and you used him! Just like you used my dad!”

Haushofer is trembling and his face breaks out in a cold sweat.

“I… I’m sorry…” he stutters. “I never meant for something like this to happen to any of our engineers… I believed you when you said your world wasn’t Shambala… I just can’t understand why Hess would…”

But Brother wasn’t letting him finish.

“Hess! You! Eckhart! You all lied to him and used him! And when he finally saw through you, you killed him!”

“Ed, please, stop!” Noah pleads tearfully. “Can’t you see enough people have been hurt already?”

But Brother was too furious to listen.

“You, the Thule Society, and the whole damned National Socialist Workers Party should all just kill yourselves and go to hell!”(1) he practically screams. Then, to my horror, he raises his auto mail arm to strike him.

I spring back up to my feet.

“Brother, no!” I cry. Just barely, I manage to catch his arm before he can punch the man out, or worse. “Don’t do it! It’ll only cause more pain here!”

He stops and stares at me, his eyes stricken…

“Al…” he whispers… then he shakes his head and roughly releases Haushofer, who is helped up by the man that looks like Mister Hughes. “I’m sorry… sorry you had to see me like that again…”

I place a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s okay, Brother,” I assure him.

No matter how much we had each grown and changed since we last saw each other, deaths like this always affected us the same…

“We’ll take Noah back to Gracias’,” the police officer who looked like Hughes said kindly. “After that we’ll send someone back here to take care of Alfonse… Lord knows, he didn’t deserve this… but at least we can give him a proper funeral…”

Gently, Noah lays the dead boy back down with a soft parting kiss to his forehead and moves to join the police officer and the group of men as they leave the factory.

Before she goes, she places a hand on Brothers shoulder.

“Aren’t you coming?” she asks.

He looks at Alfonse, then at me, and he shakes his head.

“No, I think I’ll stay here for a while longer…”

She nods in understanding…

“I saw his thoughts as he died,” she whispers before leaving. “He was happy… happy to have been able to help you… and he hoped your brother and you would take good care of each other…”

We are then left alone…

I kneel by Alfonse again and feel his forehead… Strangely enough, it was now that I noticed something important…

“Brother,” I say, barely managing to hold my gasp of surprise. “There’s no breathing or heartbeat, but I think… I think he’s still warm…”

“What?” He kneels beside me and feels the boys’ cheek for himself. “You’re right, this means…”

This means his soul hasn’t gone through The Gate yet, just like when Envy had stabbed Brother…and when I had managed to bring him back…

“It might not be to late to save him, Al,” my brother says, a flicker of hope and determination in his voice, “but it’s guess work, and we’re going to have to hurry.”

I swallow nervously…

“Brother, you don’t mean we’re going to… sacrifice ourselves, do you?”

He shakes his head.

“No, but it’s still going to be an even trade; His life on this side of The Gate for a life on the other side.”

“The other side?… You… you mean our world? Amastris?”

“No, Shambala,” Brother answered dryly. “Of course Amastris! It might not work, but it’s the only chance he’s got.” Then he took out two pieces of chalk from his coat. “Come on,” he urged as he handed me one of them. “We have to get started on the transmutation circle before it’s to late.”


(Amastris, 1917)

My eyes flew open and I awoke with a start in my seat as the train from Central let out another loud whistle!

“Hey there, sleepy head!” the sunny haired girl in the seat across from mine greeted me cheerfully. “Did you have a bad dream?”

I smiled sheepishly back at Winry. Misery was still asleep, her head resting in my lap.

“I guess you could say that… You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I was with Ed and I was staring down at myself… on the floor…” my voice trailed off uneasily…

To my surprise, the girls’ eyes grew serious.

“Really?” Then she asked, “Alfonse, what was the last thing you remember before waking up back in Central?”

I frowned and shifted my gaze to the floor of the train…

“It’s okay,” she urged me. “Just anything you can remember. Anything at all. Did those people who attacked us put you on their ship or something?”

“No, they shot me!” I snapped. The memory of the pain of that bullet, of collapsing onto the cold floor, was still fresh in my mind and I hated to be reminded of it!

At this, Winrys eyes widened and she put a hand in front of her mouth in shock.

I sighed. I hadn’t meant to disturb her like that.

“They shot me for helping Edward escape,” I explained quietly. “Don’t ask me how I survived it, because I still don’t know.”

“I understand,” she nodded. Then she looked thoughtful. “You know, Alfonse, from what you’ve said, it could be Ed and Al sent you here to save your life.”

“Save my life? How?” I asked.

She leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms in thought.

“I’m an auto mail mechanic, not an alchemy expert, but I know Ed and Al were always saying everything was equivalent exchange in alchemy. Rose told me Al exchanged himself to save Eds life and then Ed did the same for him, that’s how he ended up in your world and…”

“Wait!” I cut her off, raising my hand. “You’re not saying that they sacrificed themselves, are you? They’d better not have!”

“No, I don’t think that’s it,” she assured me. “I think they traded your life in your world so you could keep living in this one, and from the look of it, it worked.”

“A life for a life,” I said ruefully. Only a short time ago I would have thought that hypothesis sounded as farfetched as Edwards stories, but now that I had seen it all for myself I would be willing to believe it.

I thought back to when I had first noticed the pain in my chest was gone and my chronic coughing had stopped… If my life in my own world had been exchanged for life in this one, then did that mean that here I wasn’t… I scarcely dared to hope, but circumstances spoke for themselves…

“I guess I should also tell you that while Al was looking for Ed he had these dreams,” Winry said, bringing me back out of my thoughts. “He said he dreamt that he was seventeen and that he and Ed lived together in a big city and designed machines that flew up into space.”

I rubbed my forehead at her knowing smile. After yesterday, I didn’t think anything could surprise me anymore!

It was then that Misery let out a scared whimper in her sleep.

“Big brother…” she murmured fearfully as she tossed in my lap. “Big brother… It hurts here… No… Help!”

I leaned down and gently shook her awake.

“Hey,” I soothed, “it’s all right, Misery. Wake up, it’s all right.”

Her eyes fluttered open and she let out a sigh of relief at being woken from whatever nightmare she was having.

“I guess you and Al weren’t the only ones having strange dreams,” Winry commented as she patted the little girls shoulder reassuringly.

Still trembling slightly, Misery clung to my arm.

“It was the bad lady again… and that bad man…” she said as he sat back up in her seat.

I remembered her mentioning a “bad lady” when I had met her, but not a “bad man”.

“Who are you talking about, little frauline?” I asked, as I stroked her brown braids comfortingly.

She looked down at her shoes and fiddled half-heartedly with the bottom button of the jacket that I had lent her.

“I… I don’t know who they are…” she admitted. “I had a nightmare about the bad man… and when I woke up I saw the bad lady and she said I belonged to her and I had to do what she told me…”

“And that’s why you ran away?” I asked quietly. “Do you remember anything before that?”

She shook her head vigorously.

I supposed it would be best not to press her right now. If there was anything important she did remember, she would tell us when she was ready.

After a while, the train whistle sounded again and the conductor came by to announce that it would only be a few minutes before we arrived in Risembool.

“Big brother? Winry?” Misery asked. “Can we ever go back and visit Mrs. Hughes and Elicia someday? They’re so nice.”

Winry smiled warmly.

“Yeah, they sure are,” she agreed. “I visit them sometimes, they’ve become allot like part of the family, so next time you two can come along if you want.”

The Hughes’s had been more then generous to us. As well as letting us stay for dinner and accommodating us for the night, Frau Hughes had bought Misery a new inexpensive outfit of a skirt, blouse and sweater. She had even gotten me a new jacket to replace my torn one and sent us on the train with a small basketful of homemade snacks.

Misery smiled and nodded enthusiastically.

“That would be great! You know, I asked Elicia if I could come back and play again, and guess what? She said yes!”

“I’m glad you two got along so well,” Winry smiled back. “Elicia and her mom have been a little lonely for the last two years.”

“Really? Why?” the little girl asked innocently. “Did her daddy go away and leave them?”

Winry and I looked at each other and I remembered the picture Frau Hughes had showed me of her late husband who looked just like Officer Hughes back in Munich…

“Oh, no, Misery, Frau Hughes said Elicias vati died two years ago,” I explained. “He didn’t leave them.”

“He would never have just walked away and left his wife and daughter. He loved them to much,” Winry added.

At this, to my surprise, Misery frowned and she lowered her head slightly…

“Do all daddies love their little girls?” she asked slowly, as if dreading the answer…

What a question to ask! Now I really had to wonder what this girl had been through!

“Of course they do, little frauline,” I assured her as I helped her roll up the sleeves of the jacket and do up the buttons. “I’ll bet that when you’re able to remember your parents, you’ll see they loved you very much.”

Once I was finished, she brought her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around her legs.

“Yeah, I guess so…” she answered…

By now, the trains’ whistle had blown again and the conductor had announced we had arrived at Risembool Station.

Risembool, I had come to notice during our ride on the train, was just as Edward had said in his stories; rural and very scenic. Grassy hills and planes with the occasional farmhouse or two. There were even a few small rivers and streams along the way as well.

If I didn’t know any better, looking out the window from my seat on the train, I might have mistaken it for my old hometown on the outskirts of Munich, at least before the war...

The train soon stopped and passengers gathered their luggage and made ready to depart…

“Well, here we are,” Winry announced brightly. Grandma and the others should be meeting us outside.

Misery and I followed her off the train and into the sunlit early afternoon…

I had to revel in the fresh country air, and how wonderful it was to take a deep breath of it without being punished by that familiar pain in the chest and bouts of coughing. Edward had told me that when he came to my world The Gate had taken his newly restored arm and leg as payment. Could it have taken away my sickness, caused by years of exposure to the fumes of the rocket fuel, as payment too?

Winry suddenly waved and called to two figures nearby.

“Grandma! Rose! Over here!”

A small, but robust looking, elderly woman with a bun in her hair and a pipe in her mouth came forward to receive an embrace from her granddaughter.

“It’s good to have you back in one piece after everything we heard from central,” the elderly woman, whom I recognized from Edwards stories as Pinako Rockbell, greeted the girl warmly. “We were worried.”

“Winry!”

It was then an attractive young dark skinned woman came foreword with a child in her arms…

“Noa?” I gasped in surprise. How had she gotten here too? But no, this girl wasn’t Noa; Noa had no children, her eyes were not a striking violet like this, and her front bangs weren’t rose coloured.

She stared in amazement back at me too…

“Al?” she whispered… Then she shook her head. “No, of course you’re not Al. Winry already told us over the phone what happened.”

I turned to Winry.

“I have a feeling I’m going to be getting this allot, aren’t I?”

“Probably,” she agreed ruefully.

The young woman blushed in slight embarrassment.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized. Then she offered me her free hand in greeting while adjusting the child with the other. “I’m Rose Thomas, and this is my son, Kane.”

The little toddler in her arms, who couldn’t be more then two or so years old, smiled and laughed, waving his chubby arms.

The name “Rose” fit her, I thought… Not really sure why I was blushing myself, I took her hand and shook it lightly.

“Pleased to meet you, Frau Thomas. I’m Alfonse Heiderich, and this is Misery.”

Upon hearing herself addressed as “Frau”, Rose blinked and frowned slightly…

When she heard herself introduced, the little girl shyly peeked out from behind me, but when she saw little Kane, she smiled and came foreword.

“Hey, you have a baby!”

Rose knelt down with Kane to greet her.

“Yes,” she smiled, gently setting Kane down on his feet. “Kaney, darling, say hello to Misery.”

Misery offered the toddler her hand and he shook it gleefully, then clapped his own hands together and laughed!

“Misry!” he cheered, obviously liking the sound of the new name. “Misry! Misry!”

The girl laughed and tickled his small tummy.

“You’re a funny boy, Kaney,” she said, and they both giggled!

Frau Rockbell grinned, her pipe between her teeth.

“Well, now that everyone’s acquainted, what are we doing around here? Let’s get back to the house and get lunch started, hmm?”

Little Kane jumped around excitedly until his mother had to calm him down by picking him up and hoisting her on her shoulders.

“Yay!” he chirped. “Lunch! Lunch! I’m hungry!”

Everyone chuckled good-naturedly and Misery took a hold of my hand as we followed the little group out of the small country station.

As we walked, I thought I saw Rose glance at me from the corner of her eye… I was a little embarrassed when I realized I had stolen a look back at her too… Well, I suppose it was because I resembled the other Alphonse so much and she looked allot like Noa…

To be continued...

(1) Interesting historical note; After the establishment of the Nazi regime, Haushofer remained friendly with Rudolf Hess, who protected Haushofer and his wife from the racial laws of the Nazis, which deemed her a "half-Jew". Haushofer's son, Albrecht (1903 - 1945), was indicted in the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and subsequently was killed by the Nazis in the Moabit prison in Berlin. After the war Karl Haushofer was interrogated by Father Edmund A. Walsh on behalf of the Allied forces to determine if he should stand trial at Nuremberg for war crimes. However, he was determined by Walsh not to have committed war crimes. On March 13, 1946 he and his wife committed suicide by drinking poison.
On 17 August 1987, Hess died while under Four Power imprisonment at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. He was found in a summer house in a garden located in a secure area of the prison with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck. His death was ruled a suicide by self-asphyxiation, accomplished by tying the cord to a window latch in the summer house, but there has been much dispute over this, with some sources claiming that Hess was in fact murdered. He was buried in Wunsiedel, and Spandau Prison was subsequently demolished.
Karenjade
Allrighty, here's the completed Chapter 5!. Enjoy!. wink.gif

Chapter 5
German Lullaby

(Germany, 1915)

As soon as lessons were over for the afternoon, I quickly packed all my books, paper and writing materials in my school satchel, pushed my chair back into my desk and hurried out of the old schoolhouse on my way back home.
True to our prediction, Muttis sickness had gotten worse from those extra hours in that metallics factory. She had grown paler, thinner, and almost unable to even move around the house. Her bouts of coughing had become more frequent and harsher, leaving her no choice but to quit her job and stay home in the care of Eduard and the doctor who made frequent visits.
My big brother had also quit his job at the factory just to look after her, in spite of her protests. We already had enough money to get us through until Vati came home, he argued, enough for us to both finish our education and for him to travel abroad to England to further study medicine and work as a doctors assistant in London…
I frowned to myself as I trotted up the familiar, well-worn country pathway that led to our house… I didn’t like to think of Eduard leaving to go somewhere as far away as England, especially since everyone always bragged about how advanced Germany was in medical science, but he’d insisted this was an excellent opportunity for himself and our family, better then being conscripted to fight in the trenches anyway… Since I was much to young to either go to school in another country or fight in the war, I would just have to make sure to look after Mutti until Eduard and Vati came back…
Our house stood on top of a small, grassy hill, next to an old apple tree that we harvested every year. I made my way up the worn dirt road to the porch, stopping only to take off my shoes before I came in.
“Eduard? Mutti?” I called as I closed the front porch door behind me and dropped my satchel on the floor. “I’m home!”
“Alfonse?”
Upon hearing me announce myself, my big brother appeared and headed down the stairway to meet me…
His eyes were rimmed with black and red from the sleepless nights of watching over Mutti and trying to keep up his studies, and I didn’t like the worn out expression on his face… Before, he would usually at least try to greet me with a smile…
“Eduard?” I asked, noticing the piece of paper he was holding clenched in his hand. “What’s wrong? What’s that?”
“Alfonse,” he said quietly, placing a hand on my shoulder, “I think you had better sit down.”
My brother directed me over to our ancient threadbare couch and we both sat down…
“This is a message from Vatis regiment at the front,” he explained, showing me the paper.
I smiled hopefully.
“Does this mean Vati will be coming back soon?” I asked.
My hopes were dashed and my smile extinguished when Eduard shook his head. I thought I could see tears rimming his eyes.
“Alfonse… Vati… Vati died… He was killed in battle a little under a week ago…”
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped at the news.
“No!” I gasped in disbelief, tears already threatening to form in my own eyes. “Vati… Vati, no…”
How could he leave us? How could this happen to him? He had promised to come back to us! He promised!
“Why?” I cried. “Why?”
I could no longer hold back my tears. Having nowhere else to turn, I flung myself into my big brothers arms and sobbed uncontrollably.
“Vati! Vati, why?”
Shaking from his own anger and grief, Eduard folded his arms around me protectively.
“Dammit!” I heard him curse to himself. “Damn him! If he hadn’t left, this never would have happened! It’s all his fault Mutti’s gotten worse!”
“Mutti!” I raised my head in alarm. “Where’s Mutti, Eduard?”
My brother shook his head again
“She’s been upstairs ever since she found out about what happened to Vati… The doctor and I have been looking after her all day, but…” his voice cracked and started to trail off…
It was then our town’s elderly doctor who had been here since most people could remember, and brought both my brother and I into this world, came down the stairs… One look at the defeated expression on his face told us that Mutti was not improving…
“Boys,” he said sadly, “I think you should go see your mutti now.”
“Is she going to be okay?” I demanded. She couldn’t die and leave us like Vati did! She just couldn’t!
But the doctor lowered his head and ran his hands through his thinning gray hair.
“I’m so sorry, Eduard… Alfonse… but we’ve done all that could be done…”
Eduard and I went upstairs to where Mutti was waiting for us in her and Vatis bedroom…
She lay in her bed, propped up comfortably against the pillows. Her hair was loose and her face pale and gaunt, yet she still forced a smile when she saw us come in.
“Eduard,” she greeted. “Alfonse, sonnenschein, you’re home from school early.” Then her smile faded and she released the tears she had been trying to hold in for our sakes. “I’m sorry, but we have some bad news about Vati…”
I rushed over to her and hugged her.
“I know, Mutti, I know. Eduard just told me.”
“It will be all right, though,” my brother tried to assure us, placing a hand on her shoulder. “All that matters now is looking after you.”
In response, Mutti embraced both of us warmly.
“I’m so proud of both of my boys… I love you all so much…” she breathed. “We have enough money saved up to pay for both of your schooling and boarding… Eduard, liebling, you’re in charge of everything now. Take good care of Alfonse… and Alfonse, listen to your big brother…”
We took her hand in ours and held it tight, as if that could keep her from slipping away from us…
“What are you talking about, Mutti?” Eduard asked, refusing to accept her words. “You don’t need to talk like this. The three of us will take care of each other now.”
“Mutti…?” I whimpered, as if I were four or five again instead of nearly ten.
She gazed lovingly up at us and smiled softly through her tears…
“Boys, would you do something for your mutti?” she murmured. “Would you make a wreath of white roses for Vati and I? You see… I wore white roses at our wedding… and he always knew they were my favourite…”
As she spoke she drew her last breath, and her frail white hand grew limp in ours…
By now the late afternoon sun was already setting, becoming early evening and making way for the darkness of nighttime…


(Risembool, Amastris. 1917)

“So Ed gets distracted for one second and we end up veering off the road and crashing our car into a tree!” I laughed at the memory. “We had to hitchhike the rest of the way to the carnival!”
Rose, Misery and little Kane all laughed too. In spite of my initial shyness, I had soon felt at ease at the Rockbell house and started telling everyone about my time with Edward during those two years. I’ll never forget the look on Winrys face when I teased her about Ed calling out her name in his sleep sometimes!
“That sounds like Edward,” the dark young woman who looked like Noa chuckled. “Does he still throw a tantrum whenever someone calls him short?”
“Does he ever! I seriously thought he was going to kill me that first time we met on the train to Dr Oberths because I insisted he had to be younger then sixteen!”
Rose shook her head in amusement as her little boy giggled from where he as perched on her slim shoulders.
“Same old Ed,” she smiled. Then she gave me an appreciative look. “Everyone but Al thought he was lost forever… We’re all grateful he had someone like you to help him in your world, Alfonse...”
I had to blush slightly at that…
“Umm.. Yes, well… it was no problem, really, Frau Thomas…” I replied, sheepishly running my fingers through my hair.
At this, a sad expression clouded her violet eyes…
“It’s Frauline Thomas,” she corrected me gently, “but you can just call me Rose.”
If I had been blushing before, I could swear my face was turning beat red now!
“Oh… Ahhh… I see… well… I beg your pardon then…” I stammered. Me and my offensive big mouth!
To my relief, Rose nodded understandingly and gave me a reassuring smile.
“It’s all right. It’s only natural to assume a woman with a child is married.” Then she very artfully changed the subject. “Aren’t the Rockbells wonderful people? Pinako and Winry have been just like family to Kane and I ever since we moved to Risembool. Without them and the Armstrong Foundation, I never would have been able to get back on my feet and open the orphanage.”
The Risembool Orphanage was where we were heading right now, since it was nearing dusk and the sun was just beginning to set over the hills and trees. It was only a short ten or fifteen minute walk from the Rockbells.
Rose had intended to let only Misery stay at first, but the little girl refused to go unless I came with her, so the orphanages headmistress very graciously offered me a spare room. After all, she reasoned, the place had enough room and we didn’t want to impose upon the Rockbells further.
“Miss Rose,” the little girl asked as she kept in step beside me, “how many other kids are at the orphanage?”
I was glad to see she was becoming more at ease here in Risembool. Initially she had clung tightly to my hand as if I was all she had and a strong wind would blow me away, but eventually her grip had relaxed and she let go of my hand altogether, her stride more confidant.
“Well, there are about six, not counting Kane,” Rose replied, “so you will be the seventh.”
Misery looked up at her with interest.
“What are their names?” she wanted to know. “I have a friend named Elicia back in central. She said I could come back and we’d play together again. Will these kids want to play with me too?”
“Their names are Selim, Serenity, Farah and Ethan, Ryland and Isabel, and of course they will,” Rose responded immediately. “Don’t worry, they’re all going to like you just fine.”
Soon enough, we arrived at a large house, painted a natural light green. Around it was a wide yard surrounded by a white picket fence. The six children Rose had mentioned before were playing in the yard under the watch of a hugely built man with a shock of blonde hair and a moustache.
The minute they spotted the young orphanage director the six of them were scrambling over themselves and each other in a chorus of excited shrieks and giggles to greet her as she entered the yard.
“Miss Rose! Miss Rose!” they all squealed and laughed in delight.
She knelt down to set Kane down with them and soon welcoming hugs and kisses were being exchanged.
“Hello, everyone, I’m back,” she announced happily. “Now, did you all behave for Mister Armstrong?”
The large man beamed down at them like a friendly giant.
“Oh, as good as gold and better, Miss Rose,” he answered. “Such wonderful, sweet children, it brings a tear to your eye!”
Was it just me, or were there pink stars sparkling around him?
It was then he turned to greet me.
“Why, Alphonse Elric!” he exclaimed. “So, you’ve returned from Central. It’s good to see you. Have you made any progress finding your brother?”
Rose and I looked at each other. Here we go again!
The violet eyed young woman placed a hand on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry to say we won’t be seeing Ed and Al again for probably a very long time. This is Alfonse Heiderich from Central. He and Misery here will be staying with us.”
Misery smiled up at the huge man, impressed.
“Wow, you’re really tall and strong!” she observed.
“Ummm… Guter Tag,(1) Herr Armstrong,” I greeted him politely.
In response, to our surprise, he struck a pose and flexed his enormous muscles while more sparkles twinkled around him.
“And good day to you, Mister Heiderich and Miss Misery!” he proclaimed dramatically. “As Miss Rose said, I am former Major Alex Louis Armstrong of the Armstrong family and the Armstrong Foundation, at your service! Pleased to meet you!”
Thrilled to see another little girl in their midst, the three girls hurried over to introduce themselves to Misery.
“I’m Serenity!” the tallest girl announced.
The second girl added “I’m Farah!”
Both of them were tanned with dark hair, and they couldn’t be much older then Misery or Elicia, I thought.
Then Farah gestured to the smaller boy beside her. “This is my little brother, Ethan.”
Another boy, a brightly redheaded fellow about Ethans age, held the hand of a small girl with reddish blonde pigtails who couldn’t be more then three or four.
“I’m Ryland,” he said, “and this is my little sister, Isabel.”
Then the eldest, a brown haired boy who appeared to be close to nine or ten approached and held out his hand to Misery in a friendly gesture.
“Hello! I’m Selim, Selim Bradley,” he introduced himself.
“Selims foster father was Fheur King Bradley,” Rose explained, “but after the deaths of Bradley and his wife two years ago he was sent here to us.”
Fheur? The so-called “Fheur” in my own world was an insane, power hungry fascist who was hopefully behind bars by now. Had the one in this world been any different?
Misery took Selims hand and shook it briefly, but she soon let go…
“Your hand is very… very cold…” she murmured uneasily with a worried look…
In response, he gave her a smile that seemed almost knowing…
“Well, so is yours, I see,” he replied in a light and innocent tone…(2)

**********

Dinner that evening was roast chicken along with cooked and steamed vegetables and fresh rolls. Rose, as it turned out, was quite a good cook, and she was assisted by an eager Major Armstrong who proudly claimed his own cooking techniques and skills had been in his family for generations!
Both Rose and the Major were almost as saddened as Winry and Frau Rockbell when the subject of the Elric brothers’ fate was brought up, the giant man even shed tears, but we were consoled by the fact that at least they were both all right and finally together, even if it was in a different world.
After dinner, Herr Armstrong announced it was time for him to return back to Central, so with a warm thank you from Rose and hugs and kisses from the younger children he took his leave and started on his way back to the train station.
Like the very motherly soul she was showing herself to be, Rose gave the youngest children their evening baths and helped them on with their nightclothes for bedtime.
While she was busy with the children, I decided to make myself useful by cleaning up the kitchen and taking care of the dinner dishes before bidding everyone goodnight and heading up the stairs.
Downstairs was the small kitchen and living room, washrooms and a schoolroom, which doubled as a small office, as well as Roses room. On the top floor were a storage area, and at least three extra rooms; one served as a girls dormitory, the other was the boys dormitory and the smallest one was a spare room for emergencies or guests.
Thankfully, Rose had managed to find a spare set of clean nightclothes and left it on the bed for me. After changing into them, folding my own clothes away and hanging up my jacket, I turned out the lamp by the bed and found myself resting my hands on the back of my head, staring into the darkness and up to the ceiling, unable to sleep…
I lay there for what seemed like hours, my full mind reluctantly absorbing everything that had been going on for the past two days… When ones mind is full, it becomes very difficult to sleep…
Suddenly, I heard a soft knocking at the door…
“Big brother?” came Miserys already familiar voice, “can I stay with you tonight?”
Slowly, she opened the door and came in… With her pale skin, her hair loose, wearing a white nightdress and carrying a flickering candle, she looked almost ghostly in the darkness…
“Misery, what are you doing here?” I asked quietly, sitting up in the bed. “Don’t you like the girls room?”
“Yeah, I like it… but… it’s dark… there are lots of shadows… I got a little scared…”
That was odd. She hadn’t been scared of sharing Elicias room back in Central, and it was just as dark in here, but I guess all kids have their own reasons.
“Well, shadows are nothing to be afraid of, little frauline,” I assured her. “You know they can’t hurt you.”
She hung her head slightly…
I sighed and shook my head ruefully. Why was I always so easygoing?
“But you can stay here tonight if you want,” I finished, completely giving in.
Relieved, Misery smiled happily and blew out her candle, then she tread softly across the floor and climbed in beside me, burrowing herself under the covers.
“Thank you, big brother,” the child murmured….
“You’re welcome,” I sighed. “I have to admit this whole thing is strange though; First I find myself thrust into a whole different world when I had thought I was surely going to die, and now I’m an adopted big brother to a little girl.”
I know I had always wanted a younger sibling when I was a kid, that would have made me a middle child, but they usually start out as babies and then you get to know them better.
Another few minutes passed and everything was quiet… Then, just when I thought Misery had fallen asleep, I felt her small fingers curl slightly on the end of my sleeve…
“Well, at least you can remember where you came from, everything about yourself and everything that happened to you,” she finally replied. “I can’t even remember my real name.”
I frowned into the darkness and listened as a night breeze rustled the trees outside…
“I don’t know… Is that really so bad? There’s allot of things in my life I wouldn’t mind forgetting, I think.”
I felt her small head shake against my arm.
“No, I think you would mind it very much,” she contradicted me quietly. “It’s like… It’s like being dead… like never existing at all…”
I reached over a bit to stroke her hair once comfortingly.
“You shouldn’t talk like that,” I said. “You’ll remember everything about yourself in time. You just have to be patient. I don’t know how long I’ll be stuck here, but if I can I’ll try to find a way to get back to my own world one day.”
“Or maybe someone will come to the orphanage and adopt us both,” Misery added hopefully.
I had to smile in amusement at that.
“Maybe you, Misery, but I’m a bit to old to be adopted, even in my own world. You should get some sleep now, it’s been a hard few days for both of us.”
“All right, big brother,” was the sleepy reply, followed by a yawn. “Goodnight then.”
“Gute nacht,(3) little frauline. Sleep well.”
She snuggled closer to me and I continued stroking her hair as I hummed the tune to a lullaby I remembered Mutti always singing to Eduard and I when we were little… Soon, we had both finally drifted off to sleep, unsure of what tomorrow would bring us in this new place…

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Der Vater hüt't die Schaf.
Die Mutter schüttelt's Bäumelein,
Da fällt herab ein Träumelein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Am Himmel ziehn die Schaf.
Die Sternlein sind die Lämmerlein,
Der Mond, der ist das Schäferlein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
So schenk' ich dir ein Schaf.
Mit einer goldnen Schelle fein,
Das soll dein Spielgeselle sein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.

Sleep, baby, sleep.
Your father tends the sheep.
Your mother shakes the branches small,
Lovely dreams in showers fall.
Sleep, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, sleep.
Across the heavens move the sheep.
The little stars are lambs, I guess,
And the moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, sleep.
I'll give to you a sheep.
And it shall have a bell of gold
For you to play with and to hold.
Sleep, baby, sleep.(4)


**********

(1) Good day
(2) Reference to the manga here a bit more then the anime. Three guesses what this is leading up to and the first two don’t count!
(3) Good night
(4) Traditional German lullaby
Karenjade
biggrin.gif Here's Chapter 6 here for ya! Enjoy!

Chapter 6
A History Lesson

(Germany, 1915)

Vati and Muttis funeral was small and simple, but it was attended by everyone in our town who had known them for all the years they had settled here in the country. Honouring our mothers last request, Eduard and I had made wreaths of white roses to adorn our parents graves, though, sadly, government policy made it unable for Vatis remains to be brought back to his home country. Instead, we buried a number of his favourite and most valued possessions and set up his symbolic headstone beside Muttis resting place. As bitter as my brother had been towards our father, he had wanted to do that much for him at least.
Having no other family, there was only Eduard to look after me with the occasional help from a kindly neighbour or two, still, we managed to get by until the afternoon I was to leave for boarding school in Munich, just days before he had arranged to leave for England.
Nearly half an hour before I was to be put on the train to Munich, we found ourselves visiting Vati and Muttis graves, each placing by the headstones a small gathering of wildflowers we’d just picked.
I sat miserably on the ground, my knees to my chin and my arms around my legs while my brother stood by silently, his head bowed…
“Eduard… Brother… I’m scared,” I said, my eyes rimming with tears. “How are we going to live without Mutti? What am I going to do without you too?”
He placed a comforting hand on my shoulder.
“You’re not going to have to do without me, Alfonse, I promise,” he replied.
“But I’ll be in Munich and you’ll be so far away in London,” I protested, reaching up to take his hand.
He squeezed my hand back warmly.
“It’ll be okay,” he promised, “We have each others addresses, so we’ll write every chance we get, right? They’ll take good care of you at this boarding school, and it won’t be long before we’re both finished our studies and can come back to live here again.”
I roughly rubbed my eyes to get rid of the tears that had threatened to stream down my face.
“Then you can have your own doctors clinic here, and I can make rockets that fly up into space, just like in Herr Vernes books, right?” I asked, looking up at him. I had become fascinated with the idea of space travel and rockets from the first time Eduard and I had read that book together.
“You bet,” Eduard smiled reassuringly down at me. Then he helped me back up on my feet and picked up my suitcase from where I had left it on the ground nearby. “Come on, you don’t want to be late for the train.”
I clung to my brothers’ hand as we left the churchyard and hurried down the main road of our small town on our way to the local station.
Thankfully, we arrived just in time. The train had just arrived and its passengers were disembarking. After a few minutes we heard the whistle and the conductors call to come aboard.
I wanted to be last aboard so I could stay with Eduard longer before I had to leave.
“There’ll be someone to take you to the school when you get to Munich and I’ll send you a letter the minute I arrive in London,” he said as he helped me into the train and handed me my suitcase.
“Honest? You promise?” I asked.
“Hey, have I ever steered you wrong before, Alfonse?” he smiled, affectionately tussling my blonde hair, which had become lighter then his over the past year; something he enjoyed teasing me about!
I smiled back. With his clean shirt, waistcoat, long trousers and coat, he looked so much like Vati, so much like a grown up rather then a teenage boy, that I was reassured.
“No, you never have, Eduard.”
I would pretend this was an adventure, like in my favourite books; that I was off to explore mysterious new worlds and then I would come back and tell everyone at home about my discoveries!
The train gave another whistle and started to lurch forewords. I hurried to claim a good window seat. When I found it I sat down and opened the window to look out and wave goodbye to Eduard…
He was already waving, so I stuck my head and arm out and waved back at him until I had lost sight of him in the distance…
Fate and hindsight can be strange things… If only I had known this was the last time my brother and I would be together, I probably would never have left that day…


(Risembool, Amastris. 1917)

The sun had just begun to rise over the eastern hills of this new world, spreading its bright beams across my bed and lighting the room.
Misery was still asleep, huddled in fetal position beside me under the covers, so I carefully got out of bed without waking her.
Being a morning person, and working on a project for two years that required me to arrive early, I was washed, dressed and ready in record time.
When I got back to the room, my little companion was just waking up, sitting up in bed and rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“Good morning, big brother.” She gave me a sleepy smile.
“Guten morgen,(1) little frauline,” I greeted her cheerfully. “How did you sleep?”
“Oh, I guess I slept all right,” she answered with a yawn, still not fully awake yet.
For the next few minutes, I was busy helping the little girl get ready herself. I poured some cold water from the sink and found a cloth and towel for her to wash and dry herself. Then I helped her on with the shirt, jumper-dress and sweater young Serenity had outgrown and given to her.
When we were finished with that, Misery asked, “Can you help me braid my hair, big brother? I’m not very good at it yet.”
“Well, neither am I,” I pointed out. I had never had sisters before, and I had never braided a girls hair before either. The last few times, either Frau Hughes or Winry had helped Misery with that.
I tried my best, for at least ten to fifteen minutes I tried to fix her brown hair into two passable braids, but the results were mediocre at best. If anything, I had made the poor girls hair look worse!
“I’m so sorry,” I finally sighed in exasperation and defeat. “I’m just not cut out for this.”
Instead of being annoyed at my incompetence, the girl just laughed.
“Oh, it’s okay, big brother,” she shrugged easily. “I can just wear my hair out today.”
Just then, there came a knock at the door and Rose Thomas entered, wearing her usual country dress over a plain shirt, with a kerchief tied in her hair and looking as lovely as ever. Little Kane, as usual, trotting along at her heels.
“Good morning, you two,” she greeted us with a sunny smile. “How did this room work out for the night? Did you have a good sleep?”
I smiled back at her.
“It’s a perfectly comfortable room, and we slept just fine,” I answered graciously. “Thank you for your generosity, Frauline Thomas.”
She laughed warmly and shook her head, the sun caught in her dark hair.
“Oh Alfonse, how many times am I going to have to tell you, please just call me Rose.” Then she asked “So, are you two all ready for the day now?”
“Yes!” Misery piped up cheerfully, “but big brother couldn’t do braids in my hair though.”
At this, I blushed in slight embarrassment.
“Well, then,” Rose declared, noting my flustered expression and picking up Kane and handing him over to me, “it looks like this needs a womans touch.”
She sat down on the bed and Misery climbed into her lap. Then, taking the brush and two elastics, she had soon transformed the girls’ rather unruly mop of chestnut hair into two neat, shiny braids.
“There we are,” the pretty orphanage director announced, patting Misery on the head affectionately. “All done.”
“Thank you, Rose!” The little girl beamed and gave Rose a hug, which the young woman happily returned.
“You’re very welcome, Misery, now do you think you would like to join everyone for lessons today?” she asked.
“Hmm, all right! But can big brother come too?”
Rose and I looked at each other…
“Well, if he likes,” she answered. “He can maybe help me with the class after breakfast, how about that, Alfonse?”
“All right, I would be glad to,” I smiled and nodded in agreement as Kane wriggled about on my lap, trying to get back to his mother. After all, helping Rose manage a group of children at their lessons was the least I could do to repay her for taking Misery and I in.

*****

After breakfast, Rose shepherded all of us over to the small schoolroom for classes. Little Isabel and Kane, the two youngest, sat on a comfortable rug on the floor to play with a few of their toys and draw pictures with their crayons on the scrap paper they were given, while I assisted Rose in helping the rest of the children with their reading and writing.
A few of the older kids like Selim and Serenity were even working on math and a little basic history and geography. Of course, having been the adopted son of the countries former late leader, Selim Bradley was the undisputed Prince of the Classroom. However, he never put on superior airs or made a pain of himself as I had seen lots of other prize pupils do when I had gone to school. In fact, he was a great help to the other kids whenever they failed to catch on to a lesson as fast as he did. For some reason though, in spite of the boys charm and friendliness, Misery continued to be shy around him, more so then she was with the others…
After helping Misery get started in practicing her cursive, I sat down on one of the nearby chairs and picked up one of the books from the old shelf beside it. It was a historical and geographical account of Amastris, one of the latest versions. Seeing as how I was going to be here for a considerable amount of time before I ever figured a way back, it made sense to learn a little more about this place from another source besides Edwards tales.
According to the book, Amestris was a landlocked country: Aerugo in the south, Creta in the west, and Drachma was Amestris' neighbour in the north.
In the east, Amestris once bordered the nation of Ishval, which was eventually conquered and annexed. Beyond the Amestris-controlled Ishval was the Great Desert, which divides Amestris from Xing. The nation of Xerxes, which was allegedly destroyed by alchemy in a single night, was located in the Great Desert.
However, nothing was written about what, if anything, lied beyond Creta, Aerugo, Drachma, nor about any other continent beyond the one these countries lied on. It was written that there was a water route between Xing and Amestris, but no other details existed.
Amestris appeared to have been at war with Aerugo, Creta and Drachma in the past, and seemed to have had no conflicts ongoing with the Empire of Xing. While little was written about the southern and western fronts, the Amestrian Army had maintained steady control of its northern border, fortified by the harsh weather and natural barrier of Briggs Cliff.(2)
After reading all of this, it was getting harder to see this place as a completely peaceful and idyllic utopia or Shambala. I was glad I had ended up here in a quiet rural place like Risembool instead of any of those other places mentioned. Edward had been right when he’d said that some of the things he’d seen in his world would make the Great War look like a picnic!

*****

After lessons were finished for the rest of the day, I helped Rose set up lunch on the wooden picnic table in the backyard outside, just big enough for everybody, and we all sat down together to eat in the early afternoon sunshine. It was already November and we took advantage of warm, sunny weather as best we could before the coldness of winter set in.
Afterwards, the children spent the rest of the day playing outside in the backyard. When the orphanage had first been set up, Herr Armstrong had been good enough to make a small platform and a swing in the strong old tree by the building. Now the kids played and good-naturedly squabbled over how many of them would fit onto the makeshift tree house and whose turn it was to push whom on the swing. Meanwhile, Selim kept little Isabel and Kane entertained by showing them his toy train he’d brought with him to the orphanage two years ago.
Rose and I seated ourselves on the back porch steps where we could keep a watchful eye over everyone.
“So, is this anything like where you come from?” my hostess asked, making conversation.
“A little,” I answered. “Some of the names and places I’ve seen are different, even colors look different somehow,(3) but I’ve seen a whole lot of familiar faces. There’s even a girl who looks a bit like you.”
This seemed to interest Rose allot, just as Edwards stories about the other Alphonse always fascinated me.
“Really? What was her name?” she asked.
“Noa,” I answered. “She was a Roma girl, and Ed and I let her stay with us at our apartment while she was in hiding. I just hope she’s doing all right now.”
Rose looked thoughtful. “I know what it’s like to have to live in hiding. Tell me, who are the Roma?”
“Well, sometimes they’re called Gypsies because of the stories that they were from Egypt. They’re nomads with no desire for a homeland, at least that’s how Noa described her people. She always told us of how she wanted to find her own place to belong though.”
The young woman ran her fingers through her rose coloured bangs.
“I think I can understand that too…” she said sadly. “I lost my parents to the war in Ishbal several years ago, so I had to move to Lior... Then my boyfriend was killed in an accident right before a horrible civil conflict broke out in that city…”
My eyes widened as I tried to comprehend all Rose must have been put through; to lose her loved ones like that in the midst to two violent conflicts must have been almost more then one person could bear!
“I’m so sorry…” I offered quietly…
She gave me a sad smile…
“That’s all right. I’ve found where I belong now. My home is here in Risembool and Kane and the children are my family. This is more then I thought I would ever have two years ago.”
Rose was a survivor, I decided. I have to say, I admired and respected her all the more for that. Mutti always said what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, and it appeared true in this case.
Little Kane then toddled up to his mother and she picked him up and cuddled him on her lap.
“You must be really missing your own family back in your world, Alfonse,” she said sympathetically.
I studied the ground for a moment before answering…
“Well, I miss them…” I answered honestly, raising my head to meet her gaze, “but… the truth is… like you, I lost them some time ago, thanks to the Great War in my world…”
Rose sighed sadly as Kane played with her long dark brown hair.
“Now I’m sorry. This Great War in your world sounds like it must have been horrible.”
“War is always horrible,” I agreed, “especially if your own government declares you the loser and allows the winners to force you to pay for it.”
“That must have been humiliating,” the young woman said understandingly.
“It was,” I continued. “The worst part is it brought our country into a huge economic depression. Our currency is worth next to nothing, most people barely even have enough food for themselves and their families, and to top it all off the National Socialist Workers Party and the Thule Society are trying to start another war.”
“The National Socialist Workers Party? Thule Society?”
“A group of delusional bigots and occultists who are trying to take out their aggressions on our own Jewish countrymen,” I explained bitterly, “or anyone else who disagrees with them for that matter.”
Looking back now, I wanted to kick myself for getting involved with Thule… but, of course, things had been different then… I had had so little time…
Rose fixed her clear violet eyes on me steadily.
“So, you didn’t agree with them?”
How to answer that? If I gave any indication I had been duped into making the machines that had just crossed over and attacked this world I’d be lucky to get a life sentence in jail at Central or something! And what would happen to Misery?
“No, I don’t,” I answered as truthfully as I could. “They want to start another war, but our country needs to heal from its wounds, not inflict brand new ones. Unfortunately, us Germans have always been better followers then leaders, politically anyway.”
Rose gave Kane a kiss on his small forehead and set him back down to play with Selim, Isabel and the toy train.
“Then maybe that’s something us Ishbalians and you Germans have in common then,” she commented thoughtfully.
Before I could ask her what she meant by that, Misery came trotting up to us with a fistful of freshly picked wildflowers, probably the last ones of the season before winter hit, which she held out to Rose.
“Here, Miss Rose!” she smiled. “Just for you!”
“Well, thank you, Misery, dear,” the young woman accepted the makeshift bouquet and gave the little girl an affectionate hug in return. “It’s beautiful!”
Then Misery reached inside her jacket and took out a piece of paper.
“And this is for you, big brother!” she announced proudly handing it to me. “I drew it in class today!”
It was a picture of her, Rose and I in front of the orphanage with the other children, drawn with bright crayons in a typically childish hand.
“Thank you, little frauline,” I smiled, tussling her hair. “That’s a great drawing. Maybe you’ll be an artist when you grow up.”
Misery laughed. “Thanks! It’s to keep you company if you’re ever lonely on your own!”
It was then that her gaze wandered over to where Selim sat nearby, still watching over the toddlers.
“Big brother,” she asked me, “could I maybe… Could I maybe stay with you again tonight…?”
Rose and I looked at each other again…
“Well, I guess it’s all right,” I finally answered at Roses nod, “but you’re going to have to be big enough to stay with the other girls in the dormitory someday.”
“I know,” she replied. “I will… but… now, the dark and the shadows at night here are a little scary…”
At this, Selim looked up from his play and gave Misery a big wide smile.
“You shouldn’t be afraid of the darkness and shadows,” he said reassuringly, “after all, there’s nothing that’s in the darkness that isn’t there in the light.”

To be continued...

*****

(1) Good morning
(2) Got all that info from Wikapedia!
(3) To make a contrast with our world and the parallel world in the movie, the animators went with plainer coloring for the scenes in Germany and brighter coloring for the scenes in Amastris.
Karenjade
biggrin.gif Finally! I've finished lucky chapter number seven!.

Chapter 7

Psychokinesis

(Munich, Germany. September, 1915)

Dear Eduard,

I promised I’d write to you as soon as I could. Just like you said, there was someone from the boarding school to meet me at the station, so I got there safely.

Munich is a big city, busy, noisy and allot bigger then I expected, but the war seems to have affected people here as much as in the country, if not more so. Everyone says the allied blockade of Germany is causing food and fuel shortages and before long there may even be air raids. They’ve just finished building air raid shelters by the school. It’s kind of scary, but it must be even scarier for you in London with everything going on.

I really wish neither of us had had to leave home, but Vati and Mutti would say we couldn’t always have everything the way we want, right?

Our school and its dormitories are big, so big I was afraid I would get lost the first day, and classes are more difficult then they were in our village school at home, but at least the teachers are fair and I’ve made a few friends. Already I’m in the group with the highest marks! You’d be proud!

How was it on the way from Germany through France to England? It must have been hard, even with your papers and the letter from your employer and everything, seeing as this war isn’t giving us Germans a very good name.

It’s probably babyish of me to say this in my first letter to you the first week I’m at school, but I miss you already and I can’t wait until you’re finished work in London and can come back home! Let’s promise that when you get back and when the war is over we won’t be separated like this again, all right? We’re the only family we have now and we have to look after each other.

Take care and write back soon!

Alfonse

After proof reading my newly written letter, I carefully folded it and placed it in the white manila envelope. Soon it was addressed and stamped, ready to be sent on its way to England when letters to our families were collected today. I couldn’t wait until I got Eduards first letter to me, or his reply to this one!

For safekeeping, I placed the letter between the pages of my favourite book, ”From The Earth To The Moon”. Some of the other boys had given me a hard time about my interest in Herr Jules Vernes works, him being a Frenchman and giving a less then flattering depiction of us Germans in “The Begums Millions”. They seemed to have forgotten that almost all the protagonists in his pre 1871 works, like the narrator in “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” were German.

Just then, the schools loudspeaker came on, and the already familiar voice of the head mistress of the school, Frühling Höflich,asked me to come to the main office immediately…

For ten year old kids, it’s always an embarrassment to get called in to the Heads office, but seeing as I had done nothing more criminal then pass a note in class this week I doubted I had to worry about a scolding or punishment. FrauHöflich was usually a kind and lenient master anyway, though she wouldn’t hesitate to thwack you on the back of the head and yell your ears off if you deliberately got on her bad side!.

I made my way through the long dormitory hall, down the large flight of stairs and to the office where Frau Hoflich was waiting in her office. She was rather pretty for a teacher, I had thought, with her dark hair done up in lots of small braids and tied back. Her trademark hairstyle.(1)

She fixed her intelligent, serious eyes on me and gestured to the chair in front of her desk.

“Alfonse, I think you should sit down, please,” she said softly. “Something came from England today for you.”

Smiling in excitement, I seated myself on the chair. This could only mean that Eduard had written me first! I couldn’t wait to read his letter!

“Is it a letter from my brother, Frau Hoflich?” I asked her eagerly, barely able to contain myself from jumping up and down in my seat in eagerness.

But a sad look came across her features as she took out an already opened envelope from the top drawer of her desk and took out the folded letter…

I had thought Frau Hoflich would give the letter to me to read, but instead she held it for a few moments, staring at it, as if she was trying to decide something and was being pulled in different directions…

Finally, she placed the letter on the desk with a sombre sigh…

“I… I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, Alfonse,” Frau Hoflich began. “This month… there was another raid on London by our own zeppelins… There was a great deal of damage…”

I gasped and blinked in astonishment! I knew Germany was in the process of making these zeppelins, but being so young, I never imagined they could devastate a city like London!

“Your brother… Eduard Heiderich… He didn’t survive the attack,” she continued sadly. “He… He was found under the wreckage of one of the zeppelins…”

For the next few moments I could scarcely do anything or even register what was going on around me… It was as if I had suddenly been struck and paralyzed…

“No…” I whispered brokenly as I slumped back in my chair… My throat tightened and I thought I felt a wave of nausea wash over me… My eyes welled up with tears…

Frau Hoflich rose up from her chair and moved to kneel down beside me where I sat.

“Alfonse… I’m so sorry…” she offered sympathetically, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder in comfort…

I could no longer hold back my tears or keep them from streaming down my face. My big brother had always teased me about being such a crybaby, but I couldn’t help it.

“Eduard…” I sobbed… “Why…? Why…?” How could this happen? He had promised he wouldn’t leave me like Vati and Mutti had! He promised! Now the only family I had left was gone! And by our own countries weapons!

Frau Hoflich put her arm around my shoulder now, her eyes looking like they were trying to hold back tears themselves.

“You’re going to be all right, Alfonse,” she tried to assure me. “All arrangements were made beforehand for you to finish your boarding and education here, and I’ll be watching out for you. I promise.”

Not sure of what else to do, I did the first thing I could think of, I allowed my teacher to draw me closer into a motherly embrace as I cried.

“I hate this war! I hate it!” I sobbed miserably into her shoulder. “It took Vati and Mutti away! Now it took Eduard! When will it stop? I want it to stop!”

“I know, I know,” my teacher answered sadly. “Believe me, I hate it too, but the best that non combatants like you and I can do is take care and wait and hope that our country wins, or at least survives to become better then it once was. That way the lives lost will have meant something.”

I raised my tearstained face, still trembling from the shock and grief.

“Us Germans are some of the best at science, so we make machines and weapons that kill like those zeppelins, but why can’t we use science to bring people back to life again? Will we ever do that?”

“No, Alfonse. Meine Güte,(2)you’re such a smart student I forget you’re not even ten years old yet. You know there will never be a way to bring the dead back to life and never will be.”

“But maybe we could someday!” I protested. “After all, if science could bring the dead back to life then we’d all be allot happier, wouldn’t we?” I demanded. “Wouldn’t we?”

At this, Frau Hoflich placed a hand on my shoulder again, more firmly this time, and gently lifted my chin up so that I was looking her in the eyes…

“No! No, we wouldn’t,” she shook her head sombrely. “Listen to me, Alfonse, we cannot stop death; because if we could then there would be no birth.”


******

(Risembool, Amestris. 1917)

“So there really are flying machines in your world, Alfonse?” Rose asked, fascinated. She had wanted to hear more about the other side of The Gate and I indulged her with stories of the biplanes and rockets I’d worked on.

“There sure are,” I answered enthusiastically as the two of us made our way to the kitchen to start on dinner for everybody. “Scientists found a way to make machines that we can use to fly from place to place, and maybe one day we’ll even find a way to fly all the way up into space and reach the moon and the stars!”

At this, Rose looked thoughtful.

“The moon and stars, hmm? How about the sun?”

I shook my head with a smile.

“No, I don’t think there will ever be a way to reach the sun. It’s a mass of burning hydrogen. Get to close and you know what’ll happen, just like Icarus”

“It’ll burn you up,” she answered with a nod. “Ed and Al said the same thing too.”

By then we had neared the kitchen and we could hear Miserys laughter and little Kanes delighted giggles from behind the closed door.

Rose and I grinned at each other.

“I wonder what kind of mischief my little man is causing now that he has an accomplice,” she said good humouredly, reaching to open the door…

What we saw when we went in, neither of us could have anticipated! Miserys back was to us, but all around her the babys favourite toys were hovering in the air!

“Misry! Misry! Do again! Again!” Kane cheered, wriggling his little arms and legs.

“All right, Kaney!” the girl agreed happily. Then she raised her hand in one gesture and the toys soon moved until they were hovering and circling around Kane!

“Up! Up!” the toddler squealed, then, before we knew it, Kane himself was being lifted from his little chair, so both him and his toys were hovering in the air! Unafraid, he clapped his tiny hands with joy!(3)

My mouth dropped open in shock! Rose went pale and she looked like her own legs were about to give way!

Then Kane was gently settled back down on his chair. He clutched his favourite stuffed toy, smiling happily. Clearly this was something that had happened before.

“Meine gute, Misery!” I gasped aloud.

Startled, she spun around and the toys in the air circling Kane all dropped to the floor.

“Big brother! Miss Rose!” she exclaimed, her own face growing even paler upon being discovered.

“Kane!” Rose cried, rushing to her child and gathering him into her arms.

“Mama! Mama!” Unhurt, he hugged his mother back.

I placed my hands firmly on the girls’ shoulders.

“Misery, what on earth were you doing?” I demanded. “What’s going on?”

Tears were already welling up in her eyes and her shoulders were trembling.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, big brother! I didn’t mean to cause any trouble! Honest! Please don’t throw me out, Miss Rose!”

The orphanage director knelt down by us, still holding Kane in her arms.

“Calm down, Misery. Nobody is going to throw you out.”

“But you still need to tell us the truth about what just happened,” I continued. “What were you doing?”

To my surprise, I sounded calmer then I expected. I suppose after dying and being brought back to life in a completely different universe through alchemy, psychokinesis was fairly tame!

The girl looked down at her shoes for a moment and bit her lip… then she drew her head back up and took a breath.

“Like you saw,” she began her explanation, “I… I have this power… I can make things move… Only things that aren’t very heavy of course…”

“For how long have you had this?” I wanted to know.

Misery swallowed nervously…

“Ever since I woke up underneath Central,” she admitted. “That’s how I was able to get away from that bad lady.”

“I see,” Rose nodded understandingly. “But Misery, why did you keep it a secret from us? You nearly scared me to death when I saw my Kane floating in the air like that.”

“Were you afraid, Misery?” I asked, figuring that was it. After all, I was keeping a few things to myself I didn’t want anyone here to know either.

“Uh huh, I was,” came the childs reply. “The bad lady said I didn’t have a choice but to work for her because everybody would be afraid of me and hate me if they knew… but…” her voice trailed off softly…

I reached out and tenderly brushed the tears from her eyes.

“Little Fräulein, nobody here will ever hate you or be afraid of you,” I assured her, “but you gave us a good shock there, you know.”

“I know… I’m so sorry…”

Rose gave her a reassuring smile and placed a free hand comfortingly on Miserys shoulder while her other arm held Kane.

“It’s all right,” she said, “believe me I’ve seen more frightening things, but maybe you should keep with just lifting objects and not other people, all right? You don’t want me to have a heart attack before my time.”

The little girl smiled back. “No, Miss Rose.”

“And maybe keep this just a secret between the three of us for now, all right?” I added.

“That’s a good idea,” Rose agreed. “I’ve seen the state militaries handiwork for myself in the past. It may be changing, but we don’t want to risk what might happen if they get wind of this.”

I inwardly shuddered at the idea of an innocent little girl being taken into custody as a specimen or an experiment because she was psychokinetic.

“If the state military got wind of what?” came another voice from nearby.

I wasn’t sure how he had gotten there without anyone noticing until now, but there was Selim Bradley, standing in the shadows cast by the light against the kitchen doorway.

Misery immediately made herself perk up.

“Oh, it’s nothing, Selim,” she answered with a forced smile and an easy shrug. “Big brother and Miss Rose were just talking about something in Central.”

“I see…” The boy tilted his head questioningly for a moment… then he too shrugged it off. The look on his face made me wonder if he was really just humouring us though...

Wanting to draw no more attention to the issue with Misery then we already had, Rose and I then busied ourselves by preparing dinner while the rest of the kids entered the kitchen and helped by setting the table; plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, napkins, etc.

This evening, I offered to make the main dishes while Rose prepared the salad. Misery, ever helpful, assisted me by helping me find the potatoes, flour and parsley I would need for the dumplings, as well as the pieces of veal, flour, onions, eggs, butter, salt and pepper for the Schnitzel.

Soon enough, dinner was ready. Rose and I spent the first few minutes getting all eight children seated, quieted down and served, and then we filled our own plates.

“This is delicious,” the pretty orphanage director complimented me after tasting a dumpling and a bite of the Schnitzel. “You know,” she teased, “I never thought I’d see the day when a man was a good cook.”

All the children laughed at this, and I blushed in spite of myself at the compliment.

“I think big brothers cheeks are getting red!” Misery giggled, poking my arm. “He always gets like that around Miss Rose!.”

“Hey!” Rose gave the girl a playfully stern look, which amused her and the other kids into silence.

Grateful for the rescue, I gave the violet-eyed young woman a sheepish smile.

“Thank you,” I said modestly. “When you’ve been living on your own for the better part of your life, it’s either learn or starve.”

“That I’m all to familiar with,” Rose nodded in agreement.

“But,” I continued with a grin, “I was really bad to start with. In the beginning I could only make one thing; German sausage.”

Rose grinned back in amusement. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” I chuckled. “I’m telling you; Everyday, bratwurst, liverwurst, grützwurst! It was the worst!”

Everyone giggled and I had to smirk at my own terrible pun!

Soon enough, we had all finished dinner and I got up to help Rose clear for dessert…

Suddenly, there came a steady knock at the orphanages front door. This surprised us, as there weren’t any visitors expected this evening…

“I’ll get that,” Rose said as she finished drying the last plate from the sink, and with that she left the kitchen.

Misery began to help me put the rest of the clean dishes away.

“Big brother, I think I really like living here,” Misery confided.

“That’s very good, “ I replied with a smile. “You really shouldn’t worry about being sent away, no matter what, little Fräulein.”

She smiled happily.

“Thanks! I really like Miss Rose and the other kids, though Selim scares me a little. School is all right, and it’s fun to play on the swing and the tree house outside.”

I was about to ask her just why she was always so nervous around Selim, when she continued.

“Big brother? If it’s nice and sunny outside tomorrow can we go out and play again?”

I nodded.

“I’m sure we can, little Fräulein,” I assured her. “With any luck, it’ll be sunny this last week of November.”

“That’s right,” came a new voice from the kitchen doorway, but, they say it may start raining and freezing over earlier then expected this year.”

Startled, I spun around to see Rose entering the kitchen. Beside her was a man who looked extremely familiar...

Herr Professor Huber? I wanted to cry out, but I stopped myself just in time. This was not the kindly looking, easygoing professor I knew from Munich University. This man had a sterner countenance and wore the blue uniform of the Amestris state military. Covering his left eye there was a black patch. I guessed he had lost his eye in some sort of accident. This was the man I had seen in the military picture at Fräu Hughes’s house!

“Pardon me,” he said coolly, holding up a large metal pocket watch the way a police officer would show his badge.

Rose looked somewhat nervous as she introduced him.

“Alfonse,” she said warily, “this is Brigadier General Roy Mustang from Central. He wants to talk to you and Misery.”

To be continued...

******

(1) Yup! It’s our world’s version of Izumi Curtis!

(2) My God!

(3) Had to give the kid some kind of power, right? So this was inspired by Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”!
automailmanic101
wow! This is all VERY good! Its very enjoyable to read! Keep it up!
Karenjade
Allrighty! Finally I've finished Chapter 8!. Yeesh, you have no idea how tough it was to write for Mustang and Hawkeye! I can only hope I didn't do to badly! Heh! smile.gif

Chapter 8
The Real Thing

Misery quickly darted behind me at the sight of the intimidating looking General Roy Mustang. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t unnerved myself as well.

The only one of the kids who didn’t seem the least bit scared was Selim. Being the late kings adopted son, he was probably used to seeing allot of military personal. He greeted Herr Mustang with a smile and a grateful thank you for taking him to this orphanage after the deaths of his foster parents.

The man who so closely resembled Professor Huber, if it weren’t for his uniform and eye patch, put his watch back in the pocket of his military coat.

“I see this is the clone of Full Metals brother,” he began, nodding towards me. “Scieszka was right, though she and Rockbell should have brought you directly to Central headquarters. ‘Save me having to come all the way out here after you.”

Clone? I suppose he was right. If Edward saw me that way, why should anyone else in this world see me any differently? Never the less, I took a breath and spoke up for myself.

“So, I suppose “Hello, my name is Alfonse Heiderich” wouldn’t be the right response to this, now would it?” I answered defensively.

Rose gave me a concerned, warning look and Roy Mustang raised an eyebrow either in amusement or annoyance.

“We already know who and what you are, kid,” he said, “no need for the pleasantries. This isn’t exactly a social call.”

“I know, Herr Mustang. You’re here for Misery and I.”

The general nodded. “That’s right. When two strangers appear in Central almost immediately following an attack by unknown militants and weapons, we think we have a right to know what’s going on, don’t you?” It was more of a statement then a question. He then gestured towards the door. “There’s a car outside. Bring the girl and we’ll get this over with.”

At this, Misery clutched my hand in fear. “Big brother,” her voice trembled.

There was no way I was going to let Misery be interrogated! Especially not now! If she were to be frightened into revealing her powers, who knew what the state would do to her? Bad enough my involvement with Thule was now more in danger of being discovered then ever!

“All right, I’ll go,” I agreed, “but Misery is only a little girl, and she won’t be able to tell you anything helpful anyway.”

“And why is that?” came the cynical sounding reply.

Rose came and stood beside Misery and I.

“Please, General Mustang, Misery is amnesiac,” she explained.

“That’s right, she doesn’t remember anything before I met her in Central. I’m begging you, Herr Mustang, let her stay here,” I pleaded.

The General seemed to be studying us for a moment… I almost expected him to reach for his gun and force Misery and I out without any more arguing… Instead, his eye softened slightly and he nodded.

“Fine,” he said. “There’s no sense in questioning a little girl who’s to scared to answer straight anyway.” Then he turned and gestured for me to follow.

I gave a worried Rose and the children what I hoped was a reassuring look and followed General Mustang out of the kitchen through the front door to where the aforementioned car was parked outside.

To my surprise, I saw another familiar face behind the wheel. The serious looking woman from the military photo who so resembled Professor Hubers girlfriend, Clara.

“This is First Lieutenant Hawkeye,” Mustang said. “You’re as free to speak in front of her as with me.”

Funny, as I got in the car I certainly didn’t feel free! But I realized how naïve I had been to think this State in Edwards world wouldn’t become aware of me eventually.

With a subtle, curious glance at me, Fräulein Hawkeye started the car and we made our way down the long, quiet country road as the sun began to set.

“You have allot of explaining to do,” the general began, “so let’s cut to the chase; You’re the one who sent Edward Elric back here with that rocket we found in Central just after the attacks, correct?”

I nodded slowly. “Yes…” I answered, “Though I’ve heard both he and his brother went back…”

“That they did, though why they would involve themselves in the problems of some faux version of our world, I don’t know. Still, whatever problems those invaders were trying to cause, Full Metal and his brother managed to stop it, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time and effort.”

“I’m so glad,” I muttered under my breath. It wasn’t exactly agreeable to hear your own world and country dismissed as a faux.

“And instead of Alphonse Elric, we get the doppelganger,” I could hear the disappointment in his voice. “I suppose it only makes sense Ed would find some sort of temporary replacement for his real brother while stuck on the other side of that porthole for two years.”

At this, I looked down and clenched my hands on my lap. No, this was definitely not the kindly, tactful, sensitive philosophy professor I knew from the university!

General Mustang eyed me with both interest and wariness, as one might eye a strange new kind of creature or plant they’d never seen before.

“Seeing as how you provided the rocket that brought Full Metal back here just as that Armada arrived through the porthole, it stands to reason the two are connected. Would that be right?”

I looked out the cars window and swallowed hard as I realized what he meant. What could I do? He had me and he knew it, so there was no way I could lie or plead my way out of this.

“Herr Mustang,” I admitted in defeat, “I can honestly say I was not involved in Thules attacks on Amestris, but you have every right to put the blame for it on me.”

The general crossed his arms and leaned back slightly in his seat.

“And why should we do that?” he asked with a small smirk, as if I had just asked him a big favour for Heavens sakes!

I ran a hand through my hair uneasily…

“Because…” I forced myself to confess, “Because… I was the one who designed and built those rockets, my research team and I.”

Lieutenant Hawkeye turned her head and she and General Mustang exchanged knowing looks.

“That’s no surprise, kid. I gathered that. We just needed to hear it from you.”

So, to prove his suspicions, the man had manipulated a direct confession out of me!. Unglaublich.(1)

I sighed and closed my eyes for a moment…

“Do you want to know the whole rest of the truth, General? Lieutenant?,” I finally asked them. “Our sponsors lied to us. They used us. The whole time we were working for Thule they never once told us the truth of what they intended to do with those rockets. Ed tried to warn me, but I didn’t believe him.”

“And as a result, your inventions turned out to be Amestris’s problem and solution all at the same time,” Mustang finished, folding his gloved fingers together thoughtfully.

“Well, I had to do something to correct my mistake,” I answered glumly.

At this, the general frowned and he briefly glanced out of the cars window.

“Believe me, kid, you’re not the only one who’s been trying to correct their mistakes.”(2)

I swallowed and studied my hands resting on my lap…

“I had no idea anything like that would happen,” I whispered. “I just wanted… I just wanted to be a part of something meaningful before I…” But I stopped myself there. No sense in mentioning that part. He probably wouldn’t even believe me and just see it as an excuse. I wasn’t even sure myself how the sickness in my lungs had gone away once I’d arrived here…

“So, if you’re here to arrest me, that’s fine,” I continued, “Just as long as Misery isn’t involved in this. A ten year old couldn’t have had anything to do with the attacks.”

Mustang nodded. “That’s pretty obvious, kid, but you don’t have to worry about being put in state custody. Not right now anyway. It’d be pretty difficult to work on rockets from prison.”

Had I still been sick, I might have nearly collapsed in a total and complete violent coughing fit!.

“Excuse me, Herr Mustang!?.”

“You’re excused. And starting next week you’re going to be working on repairing that rocket you sent Full Metal back here in. Orders have already been given to ship it out here to Risembool.”

This was all happening to fast for me!

“Wait, wait just a moment,” I protested. “You’re telling me you want me to work on fixing that rocket?”

The General raised an eyebrow again.

“That’s right, you catch on fast, kid,” he answered dryly. “Anyway, what else would you be good for?”

Normally, I would have leapt at a chance like this, but my most recent experiences with Thule had soured my enthusiasm somewhat.

“The States Assembly will sponsor the project, they also want to reserve the rights to copies of any and all notes and blueprints you might make,” Hawkeye added.

I crossed my arms with a frown.

“So you can make more of them to use for war machines? No offence, but the last time I was made an offer like this my sponsors used my inventions to attack your world, then tried to kill me when I sent Ed ahead to stop them!”

Fräulein Hawkeye and Herr Mustang looked at each other again.

“We didn’t know about that part,” the lieutenant said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

I sighed.

“Well, I’m alive now, probably thanks to Ed and his brother,” I answered. “I know I made a horrible mistake by helping Thule attack you, but I’m not going to atone for that crime by helping to commit another.”

“This isn’t about making weapons to commit war crimes, Heiderich,” the General contradicted. “This world has already seen more then enough of that!”

“Then what is it about?” I wanted to know. “How do I know that’s true? For all I know you could be planning on invading and attacking my world to get revenge, and then do away with me just as Thule did!”

“Did?” Now the Lieutenant raised her eyebrow at me.

“Er… Tried to do,” I saved myself hastily. “So what is this about? Do you want to catch up to my world in the field of aerodynamics? Do you want to have an equal defence in case some other fool gets the idea to invade and attack again? Do you want a way to go to my world and find the Elric brothers again?”

At this, the general leaned foreword slightly, a now satisfied look on his face.

“Hmm, All of the above, kid.”

I racked my brains for references of people like Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye in Edwards “stories”… From my friends description, Herr Mustang was a “morally bankrupt colonial with a God complex” who had bad reminders of the last war he was in and wanted to become the next Führer so he could make ridiculous rules like all female military personal would have to wear tiny miniskirts, but Ed had also added that if that was all there was to the General, neither Hawkeye or his men would follow him so devotedly…

I supposed I would just have to take Edwards word for now…

“So, if I refuse?” I asked…

Mustang shrugged.

“If you refuse, this world loses a chance to catch up to yours in machine technology, and you gain a nicely guarded military prison room instead of a chance to get back to where you belong with the other clones.”

So there it was; Either help repair and rebuild the first rockets in Amestris or live out my life in state custody without ever getting a chance to get back to Germany or even see Rose, Misery or the others here again.

Noting my silence and taking it for a refusal, General Mustang added, “Central Headquarters isn’t more then a days drive from Risembool. We can take you there right now if that’s your answer.”

“Sir,” came Lieutenant Hawkeyes warning murmur. Obviously she had no qualms about contradicting him.

“No!” I said quickly. “All right, all right, I’ll help fix the rocket!” I mentally chided myself for the selfish decision, but if I was arrested and put in state custody for the rest of my life how could I be of any help to Rose, Misery and the others?

The General nodded. “Good choice, Heiderich. The old factory should be runnable by next week and that’s when the damaged rocket will be arriving. There’ll be a few mechanics and engineers assigned to work on it with you, but you’ll clearly be the one with the experience.”

I turned my head to look out the cars window. The evening sun was now almost hidden behind the trees and hills of Risembool, and we had turned and were making our way back the way we came.

“Just so you know,” I said, “I’m not going along with this to be one of your militaries dogs. If I think for one minute you’ll be using my research the way my previous sponsors did… well… I’ll do what I feel is right.”

A small smile played about the Generals face.

“Funny,” he said, “that sounds like something Full Metal and the real Alphonse would say.”

The “real” Alphonse… I wondered if that could possibly be true... In spite of what I had said to Edward that last time I saw him, maybe I really was just a temporary stand in… a replacement…(3)

“You can relax, Heiderich, things have changed here since this country became a democracy,” Hawkeye assured me, “besides,” she added with a hint of a smile that mirrored Mustangs, “even dogs bite back when they have to.”

I lowered my head with a sigh.

“You won’t tell Rose or the others here about my involvement in the attacks, will you? They would hate me forever if they knew…”

“Fine,” came the answer from Mustang, “if she hasn’t figured it out already. Anyway, I can keep that in my back pocket to make sure you behave.”

By now we had arrived back at the orphanages front drive.

Lieutenant Hawkeye drove up the drive and parked close by to the front gate.

“The factory is just two or so miles east of the Rockbell home,” the General said. “The remains of that rocket should be there by then, and we expect to see you there one week from today before noon.”

“Yes, Sir, Miss,” I answered quietly. At the nod from Fräulein Hawkeye I let myself out of the car.

“Just make sure nothing happens to you before then, kid,” was the parting comment from Herr Mustang before he closed the door behind me.

After watching the car drive away into the night, I entered through the gate and made my way up the porch steps.

It was a clear night, the moon was rising higher above the trees and the stars were just coming out. With December on its way, there should be frost on the ground tomorrow.

The door opened before I could reach it and Rose and Misery hurried out.

“Big brother! Big brother!” the little girl cried, throwing her arms around my waist. “Are you okay?”

I forced a smile for her. “I’m all right, little fräulein. The General just wanted to ask me some questions, that’s all.”

Rose took my arm and the two of them ushered me back inside to the warm, homey kitchen which was a welcome change from inside that dark, chilly car.

“We were so worried,” Rose said as she made me seat myself down at the table. “You look pale. What did Mustang say to you?”

I rested my arms on the table with a sigh.

“Oh, nothing much,” I lied, “just asked me about what happened with Ed, that’s all.”

Misery seemed to accept the answer, but the look on Roses face told me she hadn’t quite bought it.

“Misery, dear, why don’t you go upstairs and get ready for bed with Serenity, Farrah and Isabelle, all right?” the young woman said. “You’re big brother and I will be up soon.”

The little girl tilted her head as if in protest, but then seemed to be changing her mind and deciding against it.

“Oh, okay then,’ she agreed reluctantly. “Goodnight, big brother. Goodnight, Miss Rose.” Then with a hug and a kiss on the cheek for each of us, she left the kitchen and headed upstairs to join the other girls.

Once she was certain Misery was upstairs, Rose turned back to me, arms folded across her chest.

“All right,” she said, “by now I’ve learned to see when men are lying, so out with it. What did the military want with you?”

I looked away and ran my fingers through my hair uneasily.

“I told them Edward and I used to study rocketry back in my world,” I admitted, using part of the truth. “They want me to start on the first rockets here in Amestris.”

Rose frowned as she sat herself down at the table beside me.

“So they can make new weapons of war? And you accepted?”

“It was either that or be taken immediately into state custody,” I answered. “Besides, Mustang and Hawkeye said it was to advance this places engineering know-how in case there’s any more attacks like the ones this month, and for what it’s worth, I believe them.”

I suppose I was just like my father in this way. He chose to accept the draft into the war instead of prison, and now I was choosing to cooperate with this worlds authorities. If Eduard were here, would he be mad at me like he was at Vati?

“Well, if you have no choice you have no choice,” Rose sighed, “and Ed and Al seemed to hold at least some of the military in higher regard then others...”

“The military isn’t even in control of the state anymore, like it was two or so years ago, is it?” I asked.

“No, it’s not,” she nodded. “It may not be the complete end of war, but at least the state is trying to make up for past wrongs now, like reversing the Ishbalian policy and restoring Lior. And maybe this could be a good opportunity for you.”

“How so?” I wanted to know.

“Well, if there was a way to leave this world by flying up into space, maybe you could find a way to get back to your own world somehow, right?”

“That may be plausible,” I had to admit.

Rose offered me an encouraging smile.

“If you ever got a chance to get back to your own world and country, I’ll bet Edward would be glad to see you again and introduce you to Al.”

I lowered my head and shook it with a sad smile.

“No, I don’t think so,” I disagreed quietly. “Ed has his own brother back now. He wouldn’t need a cheep copy like me anymore now that he has the real thing.”

At this, Rose reached across the table and squeezed my hand warmly.

“You shouldn’t say that, Alfonse,” she contradicted me gently. “You may look like Al, and you may be from another world, but you’re as real as anyone else here.”

I squeezed her hand back gratefully. “Thank you, Rose. That means allot.”

To be continued...

******

(1) Unbelievable!

(2) In spite of Mustangs initial depression, I gathered that by the end of the movie he would have returned to his position as Brigadier General, though still haunted by his past experiences.

(3) I sort of felt that, in spite of Alfonses last words to Edward in the movie, experiences like what he’s going through in my story might cause him to second guess and doubt himself; Not all that different from what the other Al was going through in the series.
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