(Working) Title: Scars of the Windy City
Pairing: Scar/Goldie (eventually)
Rating: This bit is PG, though overall it'll probably be PG-13.
Notes: Contains spoilers for the entire FMA series and the GSC manga. My first non-original work in a long while.
The man in black fled through the streets of Chicago and Rally followed, trusty CZ75 in hand. Aiming as she ran, she fired a series of shots that would stop his flight. Rather than instinctively ducking or moving to the side at the sound of the shots, however, the man kept running, extending only a gloved hand backwards. Moments later, a fine powdery mist began settling to the ground not far from where the man should have been hit. He laughed disdainfully and ducked into a dark alley made darker still by nighttime. As Rally cleared the cloud (which, she noticed, smelled a bit like scorched metal), a brief flash of light came from the alley. She rounded the corner cautiously, figuring either that he had shot himself, someone else had shot him, or that he wanted her to believe one of those two things.
Upon entering the alley, however, she saw no sign of the man. The alley ended in a brick wall, and all the fire escapes were too high to reach. Rally checked all the doors down its length, and all were locked. A small amount of blood pooled in front of a spot near the alley’s end, the only trace of the man’s presence. Maybe she had hit him, after all, but how could he escape the dead end unless he could walk through walls?
Goldie watched the thoroughly scarred man through the one-way glass of a mirror, marveling at the man’s resilience. Most anyone in the state she had found him in would not have survived the trip to a hospital, much less this private ‘clinic’ that she had acquired. In addition to the bullet wounds in his chest, his left arm appeared as if someone had tried to hack it off. It was easy to tell that pain was no stranger to him, as evidenced by his partially-healed broken ribs and the diagonal scars that crossed the upper part of his face. What had most caught her attention, though, was the intricate tattoo that covered his entire right arm.
In the couple of years she had spent rebuilding her network after recovering from her amnesia, Goldie had learned of a secret society that had an inconceivable amount of political power. Granted, there existed no concrete evidence of their existence, but the fact that many of those who had reported the rumor to her had inexplicably died spoke to the reality of this ‘Thule Society’ better than a flood of evidence would have. All she had learned was that it focused on the arcane and some of the symbols it used. A few of these resembled parts of the man’s tattoo, which was why she was pleased to see that his vital signs had stabilized. Once he recovered fully, she’d ask him about the society, and if he refused, kerasine would get him to answer.
In the meanwhile, she would keep trying to find out just who the tattooed man was. He had lacked any form of identification, and nobody she had questioned could recall seeing him in the local area. Based on his appearance, Goldie guessed that he was likely from the Middle-East, which could easily explain how he had come to be so grievously wounded. With all the paranoia the president encouraged from his incessant talk of terrorism, people grew ever more suspicious of anybody who looked foreign. Even if she couldn’t find out anything about the man, so be it. It was the knowledge he held that mattered.
Thoughts of knowledge turned her mind back towards her amnesia and the person responsible for restoring her memories. Not that the woman had been directly involved; her name had been enough to set Goldie on the road to recovery. Rally Vincent. When Dennis, one of her loyal men, had pointed out her presence, the name had sounded vaguely familiar but no connections had arisen. Over the next few months, her dreams were often visited by the dark-haired bounty hunter but mostly lost upon awakening. Only when she had spotted Rally herself one day sometime later had her memories come flooding back in a rush.
Rally had caused her quite a bit of trouble, but Goldie still couldn’t help admiring her. After all, Goldie herself had practically allowed Rally to stop her not once, but twice, just so she could satisfy her own desire to make Rally into one of her pets. To have a woman that strong on her side…they did say that ‘the third time’s the charm,’ right?
Goldie smiled. If she could manage to overtake the Thule Society as she had done with many of the mob families, there would be little anyone could do to oppose her. Rally would just be an added bonus, and this time, she would break...
Scar opened his eyes, prepared to face whatever divine retribution awaited him, but instead found a dull, throbbing pain and whiteness. No hellish landscape, no demons from his past attacking. Nothing he could see implied that he had passed into an otherworldly realm; everything spoke of reality. The bed in which he lay was small and unremarkable, the curtains surrounding it held up by a plain metal tube. The needle in his left arm and the clear tube extending from its base led to a bag filled with some clear fluid. A small amount of blood had soaked through the bandages wrapped around his chest in the spot in which he remembered being shot. Wires attached to various points on his body via small adhesive pads led to machines that appeared to monitor his life signs, a technology totally alien to him.
Yet he couldn’t recall how he had wound up here. He remembered fighting Kimbley, the man who had given him the scar on his face, also remembered killing him. So too, could he recall Kimbley turning the unfortunate Elric boy into a bomb before leaving the mortal coil. Lust had appeared as he prepared to save the boy. After talking with her for a bit, he had provoked the military into entering the city. Shortly thereafter, he had taken a bullet for Lust before staggering and falling into the groove he had made. His last memory had been activating the circle and transmuting the boy into the Philosopher's Stone. Then the darkness had come, and he had died. Or so he had thought. Obviously his presence in the physical world spoke to the fact that he still lived, unless the afterlife mirrored reality.
Scar pushed those thoughts out of his mind and focused on his present situation. Leaving this place should take first priority. He didn’t know how many years had passed for technology to get as advanced as it now seemed to be, but it wouldn’t hurt to assume that the military still wanted him to pay for all the State Alchemists he had murdered. Not to mention the thousands of soldiers that had been consumed when he had created the Philosopher’s Stone. That decided, he sat up and swung his feet over the edge of the bed. He carefully lowered himself to the ground and removed the needle from his arm as he took a few cautious steps towards the window. Satisfied that his muscles hadn’t atrophied, he nodded and opened the blinds to find his next surprise.
The view that greeted him was nothing less than astounding. The buildings across the street towered far above his current position, which lay a significant distance above the street itself. Throngs of people meandered on the walks below and cars filled the street. The building across the gap seemed to be constructed solely of glass panels placed among a metal grid. He looked up again and saw a strange bird that seemed to fly without flapping its wings. As he continued to stare, he realized that it was a manmade flying machine. How many years had passed, if this was indeed the world he was familiar with?
Scar turned around and began to move towards the door, but had only taken a few steps when his vision blurred and he fell to the ground, darkness again taking him...
While eighty-some years had passed since Ed made his sacrifice to save Al, he looked only slightly older today then he had then, and therein lay the problem. He had never made it to Transylvania to study rocketry with Oberth. Had never even tried to find his way back to his own world and his brother. At least, not that knew of. Considering what he did know, however, he could easily deduce the validity of those thoughts. One did not kidnap others, drug them to keep them captive, and then allow them to do what they most wanted to do.
Ed did know, at least, that even if he had met with Oberth, it hadn’t been when he had intended to do so. For as he had sat in the train, his thoughts turned to home, the man in the seat behind him had pressed a strong-smelling cloth against his face. He had fallen into darkness, and the subsequent years had blurred together, any specific details forgotten by the ever-present haze induced by the drugs. He only knew that eighty-some years had passed due to a calendar’s presence on the stone wall.
All along the same wall, crude markings suggested that moments of lucidity like the one he currently enjoyed had come to him before. As he focused on the marks, Ed realized that the dashes and dots comprised a message. The first segment consisted of three words: Drugs. Timer. Look. He acted on the last, and noticed for the first time the clear tube attached to a needle in his arm. As he carefully removed the needle, something began to beep and a clear fluid dripped from needle’s tip.
Ed quickly returned his attention to the wall. As each set of markings appeared hurried, he figured his brief moments of lucidity before hadn’t lasted long before something had intervened. He would have time only to read, comprehend, and act on the messages he had left for himself. Block door was comprehensible enough, and upon looking around, he settled upon using the bed that he had been in until recently. On wheels, it moved easily, so he pushed it over and aligned it so that it would wedge against the wall when someone attempted to open the door. He then proceeded to snap off the wheels, thankful to see that his artificial arm had retained at least some of its greater than human strength.
As he stood back up, he felt his mind begin to wander and glanced at the wall, struggling to focus. Obviously, some drugs still remained in his body, and the content of the next message seemed to hold the remedy. Cabinet. Syringe. Adrenaline. Ed shook his head to clear it and advanced towards the glass cabinet filled with numerous vials. He scanned the labels, and once he had found the one he sought, he grabbed it and a syringe. After clumsily removing the wrapping, he inserted the needle into the vial and extracted as much as it would allow. He knew that the amount would likely be too much, so he attempted to read more of the label, managing only to see the word ‘dose’ which was followed by two digits his mind refused to identify. Glancing at the syringe, he noted it read three digits. Coupling this with the fact that filling the syringe to capacity had emptied about half the vial, Ed realized that only a small amount should be used and thus expelled all but about fifteen percent of the liquid before injecting himself and falling to the ground.
The drug-induced stupor melted away seconds later and Ed found himself full of energy, heart pounding. He leapt back to his feet and read the final and most confusing message. Kinetics energy alchemy. The message implied that alchemy could happen here, but he knew from experience that it could not. A clap of his hands confirmed it, as did the attempted use of a transmutation circle he quickly drew using the liquid from the vial. He reflected on the statement some more and came to the conclusion that kinetics formed the energy necessary for transmutations to occur, but his knowledge of that aspect of physics was limited to gravity. Considering how he didn’t need to calculate trajectories, however, that knowledge might be enough and it certainly beat waiting around to be drugged again. He picked up a metal tray and let it fall, again attempting to transmute something. Nothing happened.
Ed cursed and glared at the tray. The drugs must have made him delusional in addition to subdued. Alchemy didn’t work in this world. But even as he thought that, he became aware of a downward pulling sensation. Looking around to find the source, the feeling vanished and did not return until he returned his full attention to the tray. Then he understood. While the process differed from that of his own world, the essential concept stayed the same. Back home, he had instinctively known the details, but those instincts would not translate exactly to this world. So whereas before the energy had come from this world via a ‘mini Gate’ inside him, it now had to come from the energy of objects around him, and to use that, he first had to understand the type of energy attempting to be utilized. Understanding, here as much as in his homeworld, remained the key.
This in mind, he attempted to transmute the tray again, this time meeting with success in the form of a small dagger that currently had the orange hue of an extremely heated metal. Ed supposed this made sense. In his own world, the energy had no restrictions, coming from this world via a mini-Gate inside him. However, if he wished to use the energy as alchemy in this world, it would logically have to follow the physical laws of this world. The potential energy had to go somewhere, and in this circumstance had done so via heat. Turning his attention to this, he was pleased to feel that he could use thermal energy, as well, which implied that other types of energy would also work. Walking over to the door, he used the fading thermal energy to render useless the inner workings of the latching mechanism.
Thus barricaded, he would gain some extra time in which to formulate an escape. He’d worry about what he would do afterwards if he could actually pull it off...
Note: More explanations will be forthcoming in future chapters as to alchemy beyond the gate, Scar being alive, and the time differential.
Enjoy! X-posted to fma_writers and ithurtsmybrain.