This and future installments will eventually be found in my community for the series, divergentseries, which will run much like faulty_wish. That is, anyone can write in the universe, but I hold the ultimate decision on whether to make it part of the canon. I'll only rule it as a divergent plot if it directly contradicts other ideas I have already (of course, there's also the possibility of me liking the not-me version more than my idea). I'm doing it because I have no illusions that I can cover a reflection of the entire mirror world by myself. So just keep your eyes on the community for specific rules and details if you are intrigued by this first installment.
Without further rambling from me, my first foray into the 'Divergent History' world:
Title: Tools for Transmutation
Summary: The 'Divergent History' series takes a look at a dark reflection of the FMA world. This installment examines the parallel of one of the key events from the real FMA world: namely, the attempted resurrection of Trisha by Ed and Al. Except in D!World, Hohenheim is still around and is hardly the remorseful man we see in the series.
Genre/Rating: AU, no pairings, PG-13 (for goriness related to the transmutation)
Their father's soul had matched the wretchedness of his body for as long as Ed could remember. Al held a more sympathetic viewpoint, but Ed couldn't be that forgiving. Al cited the man's numerous scars, patchy hair, and worn face as evidence of a life filled with hardship that had driven their father to become the cold creature they knew. Ed explained the same traits as evidence of a life filled with hardship as a result of making too many enemies. The eyes gave him away; they always remained cold and hard, even when supposedly expressing sympathy. He had given up his humanity some time ago. Ed had once seen the man's rotting flesh, but never received an explanation. The most he got was a dull chuckle at his own expense.
He had never shown much interest in family in the traditional sense. He viewed all of them as tools that existed to help him satisfy his desires. Not once did he take into consideration how they felt and fell into destructive rages anytime they refused to do something. They welcomed the numerous times he would go off without explanation. Those trips brought a peace that unfortunately never lasted, though Ed and Al had used them to study alchemy. Al to try and impress their father, Ed to try and usurp him. Neither had succeeded.
The recent illness and subsequent death of their mother had merely brought a hint of madness to his already abrasive personality. For many nights after her passing, he had secluded himself in his study, leaving only when he required something of Ed and Al. They couldn't make sense of his actions; never had he shown any signs of affection towards her. She had been treated in the same cold fashion as they. His seclusion itself wouldn't normally have signaled any change in his normal attitude, but his demands had taken on an air of a desperate longing. When he had emerged after nearly a week, the sleep-deprived man had handed each of them a stack of papers, his bloodshot eyes doing nothing to discourage his intensity. Their eyes grew wide as they read through the feverishly scrawled notes on the pages. Ed spoke first.
"You want us to bring mom back?"
"But the books say human transmutation is forbidden!"
"Alphonse, you would take the word of books above that of your own father? Would I knowingly allow you to come to harm?"
Yes, Ed thought. All you give a damn about is yourself.
"No." was Al's response.
"Then what have you to worry-"
"No, he's got a point," Ed said. "It must be forbidden for a reason. Given how you want us to perform the act rather than doing it yourself, I'd say it must be dangerous."
"Age can sap a person's skills, Edward. I am no longer the alchemist I once was." Again, the emotionless remorse.
"You probably don't even care. You're probably hoping that we'll die in the process of doing this and that you'll be free of us as a burden."
"If I wanted to be free of you, I'd walk out the door without looking back."
"Why don't you then?"
"Because I've done this research for your benefit." Eyes without warmth. Hard. Cold.
It didn't matter. Ed wasn't yet hard enough to completely turn his back on his father, too blinded by emotion to pay much heed to the obvious age of some of the pages. How could he ignore a way to bring back his mother? She hadn't deserved death. Once restored, things would return to their usual bearable state. Tears in his eyes, he nodded and sealed his fate.
Candles cast a flickering light on the walls of the basement, the constantly shifting shadows giving a sinister air to the space. Ed and Al stood on the edge of the array that took up a sizable portion of the floor. Their father looked down at them from his perch on the stairwell, hands gripping the banister firmly in anticipation. He'd checked the materials comprising the pile in the center of the circle numerous times and all was as it should be. He didn't have any illusions about Trisha; he knew she didn't love him. Also knew she had no reason to. That didn't matter. As always, his actions were entirely for his own sake.
"You ready to do this, Al?"
"Will it be alright?"
"I won't let you get hurt. First sign of trouble, we stop, okay?"
Hohenheim sighed. "Just get on with it."
Ed shot him a glare, but began the process of transmutation anyway. He and Al knelt by the circle, making a small cut on their fingers and allowing a few drops of blood to fall within. Their childish optimism amused him. Once they activated the array, there would be no way to escape the consequences. The Gate would have what it wanted. It always did. They'd learn that soon enough. So long as they didn't screw up, he'd get what he wanted and their suffering would be theirs alone.
He knew he was cold and didn't care. Yes, his sons might get maimed, perhaps die, but they were just tools to him. He'd learned long ago the danger of emotional attachments and trust. Such basic elements inevitably led to much torment, both emotional and physical. Such a pain lay behind his current actions. With the results, he planned to exact merciless retribution on those responsible. Manufacturing Trisha's death had been a lengthy process, but now that the means for his vengeance was almost within reach, the interminable wait seemed miniscule.
There was a flash of light and Hohenheim smiled, dreaming of the coming retributions.
Shortly after the drops of blood had fallen from their fingers, the transmutation started, Ed and Al still kneeling hopefully on the edge of the circle. Brilliant light filled the dark basement as alchemical energy pulsed around and through the array. It was beautiful, and Ed soon forgot all of his fears regarding the process. Everything would be fine. Mom would come back. Things would become bearable again.
That optimism was quashed as the light faded and the pain came. None of the injuries he had sustained in the past had hurt anywhere near as much as this, though. His left leg felt as if it had impaled upon a multitude of electrified metal spikes, and looking down, he saw only a bloody aperture where it should be. Worry for his brother trumped his shock, and upon seeing Al's situation, Ed forgot about his own problems. Al was dissapearing, being pulled backwards into some invisible, ravenous hole. Terror filled his face and his arm desperately reached for Ed, the hand already dissolved.
If Ed didn't do something soon, he'd lose Al, the only real family he had left. He frantically tried to destroy the array on the ground, but it was etched firmly into the stone. Panic broke momentarily to allow him to realize that the transmutation had already stopped; what was happening to Al was some sort of after-effect. He abandoned the circle and glanced around in despair for anything that might allow him to save his brother. Nothing presented itself, and why would it? Human transmutation was forbidden, and now he was learning why firsthand. Even so, he continued racking his mind, trying to find a solution to his dilemma, only able to conceive of a plan that sounded ridiculous. However, it remained the only plan he had, so he acted, moving over to the old suit of armor in the corner and drawing an array on it. He activated it, and was met with additional pain, this time in his right arm.
Before he could check to see if his attempt had worked, a firm hand placed itself on his shoulder and turned him around. Ed looked into the enraged face of his father.
"What are you doing? Are you going to abandon your mother? Look at what you've done to her by stopping early!"
"Saving my brother." Ed said as he reluctantly looked to the center of the circle.
Upon seeing the mass of raw, seeping flesh, he recoiled. This vaguely human thing couldn't be their mother. Couldn't even be human, or alive. Its internal workings were completely exposed to the air, no skin or anything akin to it protecting it from injury. Yet it shuddered, seemed to breathe, gave every indication of living. As he gazed transfixed at the grotesque form, he thought he could hear a faint voice begging to be killed.
Even before he could turn and face his father, the man had placed a hand on his neck. Ed felt a faint, almost pleasant, tingling sensation and fell to the floor.
Hohenheim found room for a smile despite his anger at his son. The boy may have stopped the transmutation early, but he had been so shocked at the result of the transmutation that taking care of the potential trouble caused by his son's doubt had been easy. And really, it was Hohenheim's own fault for allowing the boy to stop. Lost in his dreams of retaliation and revenge, he hadn't even realized that the boy had stopped until he looked down to see him missing both an arm and a leg. It didn't matter in any case. He could still accomplish his goal.
Diverting his attention to the task at hand, he focused and Ed's body jerkily crawled back to the circle. A slight clanking sound somewhere in the room intruded on his senses, but he paid it no heed. It took all his concentration to control his son's body, a task he was finding more difficult than he had anticipated. Not surprising, considering that this hadn't been the original intent of the small tattoo on his son's neck. Still effective, though.
Only when a heavy hand gripped his shoulder rather painfully did he allow himself to lose his concentration. His double vision returned to its normal state and Edward's body dropped to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Turning his head, he saw a large suit of armor. He puzzled over it briefly before coming to the conclusion that Edward must have bonded Alphonse to it. Bright boy, but then, Hohenheim had been, too.
"What are you doing to Ed?"
"Helping him bring back your mother."
"He's lost a lot of blood. You'll kill him!"
"You'll have Trisha."
"I won't have Ed!"
"Look at him. You'll be doing him a favor letting him die. Who wants to live as a cripple?"
"That's his choice. Besides, there's automail."
Hohenheim sighed. "Expensive, painful, and risky."
"He's your son!"
"And I've had many others. Why should the death of one more influence me more than theirs?"
"You can't mean that!"
"This isn't a debate, Alphonse."
With that, he prepared to unbind Alphonse's soul to silence the boy, but before he could, Al had knocked him on the head. Before black overtook his mind, he had time only to curse his son's betrayal and all those of all the others that had led up to this moment.
After he had hit his father on the head, Al began to worry. Never before had he risen up against their father, but he could vividly recall the fates of those who had in the past. Looking back at the profusely bleeding head wound he had caused, his worry was joined by a sort of despair. Their dad was the only parent they had left, and Al had stricken him, leaving him breathing shallowly on the ground. Had he hit his father hard enough to kill him? Given his new metal body, he supposed it was possible.
"...Al?" Ed whispered weakly from the floor.
"I-I think I killed dad."
"Good for you, Al...Wait, what was that?" He looked towards the fallen body of their father in shocked silence for a few moments before speaking again. "I think there are more important matters at hand now, though."
Ed's situation came crashing back to Al. "Are you alright, Ed?"
But Ed didn't respond. He had already lapsed into unconsciousness, and no amount of shaking or prodding could rouse him...
Future Divergences: Hohenheim's past, Scar, and more with Ed and Al. The next bit of the latter is written and awaiting the transfer from paper to computer.
On an unrelated note, I've moved to El Paso, TX, so if any of you are in the area and want to hang out, feel free to get in touch.
That said, I'm out!